A/N: First of all, thanks so much for all the reviews. Wow. I knew that this would be somewhat "controversial" because of the whole boy!Lauren thing, but I never expected this much interest and support either. So, again, thank you. :)
Also, everyone seems anxious to see Bo now. Unfortunately, Bo won't be coming in until around Chapter 9 or so. (Sorry!) As much as we are all excited to see Bo's reaction to Lewis, I wanted to give him a chance to grow away from Bo's influence for now. I think Lauren had just spent 5 years of her life living it for someone else and she deserves to be by herself for some time. Just for a little while, because Doccubus is endgame. :)
Anyway, let's get on with the story. Enjoy!
Lewis liked his job as an Emergency Medical Technician. It was different and had its own challenges.
Before the fae, Lauren had worked mostly in research. She had some background in general surgery as part of her intern days but her passion had always been working in a lab. To her, it had felt like solving puzzles and connecting dots, one petri dish at a time.
When she came to the fae, she had become an all-around general physician. Suddenly, she had patients that needed to be checked out and cared for. It had been a shock at first, working with people (and fae, to boot) directly. It hadn't been like she was lacking in empathy, but Lauren had been used to her bacterial cultures and test tube antidotes. She hadn't been prepared for the sheer need that people demanded of her. At times, she had felt stifled and overwhelmed by the heavy responsibility for their lives and well-being that was suddenly placed on her shoulders. (She had barely handled Nadia's fate, as it was.)
And now Lewis was an EMT. He drove an ambulance around the city, waiting for news of an accident or disaster that needed his attention. He still helped cure people, only this time he had a more specific job. He gave them emergency relief and patched them up until they were stable to ride to the hospital but the buck stopped there. After that, his patients were given to someone else's care as their responsibility. His duty was done the moment he handed them over.
It was unexpectedly... freeing.
But again, there was a large culture shock at first. It never really occurred to Lewis before how many accidents and violence were happening each day in the city; from car accidents and crime scenes to simple falls and ankle twists. Lauren's time with the fae had her conducting routine check-ups, or dissecting corpses to identify an illness. The only time she had faced serious trauma was when the bomb went off on the Ash and the Council.
Lewis had been unprepared to face multitudes of people screaming, crying, panicking, cursing, begging or doing all of the above. It had taken him off guard and he remembered thinking on his very first shift, as they carted off a man who had fallen off his roof and broken his leg, that humans were such frail creatures. The thought had startled him and he felt guilty for it.
He tried to dismiss the feeling but for a while after that, Lewis had been uncomfortable. Everything had felt so... messy. Blood spurted, staining everything and tears poured uncontrollably, tainting the back of the ambulance with sorrow and fear. And he had been disoriented with the speed too. One minute, he could be doing frantic compressions and the next, they were taking the patient to the emergency room and he had to let go. There was barely enough time to make sense of anything, to establish order over chaos.
Eventually though, he did get used to things. He learned to be calm with the right amount of empathy, and quick without compromising his efficiency.
They got a call about another vehicular incident and Bill and Lewis were the first team to arrive on the scene.
A guy kneeling next to a car's open passenger door immediately brightened up at their arrival and started to yell out, "Help! Please! My wife is pregnant! Please!"
Lewis nodded at Bill, who was pushing the gurney. "Go, I'll take care of the others," he said, pointing to the other car that had clearly hit the tree in front of it. He barely saw Bill's acknowledgement before he was running and saw three teenagers huddled outside, by the backseat's open door.
"Hey!" he greeted, "I'm here to help. Can someone fill me in on what happened?"
They quickly made space for him and started babbling. "We were just driving home and we had a project..." a girl started to say.
"There was a cat on the road!" another guy interrupted. "That guy, he swerved on our side of the road and I panicked...!"
"We were supposed to be doing an experiment for our class, some nature bullshit..."
"The car swerved and I couldn't..."
"We hit the tree but it wasn't hard, we..."
Lewis finally saw the fourth teenager still seated on the back. He was pale and breathing heavily and somehow had gotten impaled by what looked like an iron tripod.
"Is Gerald gonna be okay?!"
"There's so much blood!"
"I didn't meant to hit the tree and I tried to break but it was too late..."
"Okay, everybody shut up!" Lewis said, raising his voice. They all fell silent at the authoritative tone of his voice. "Thank you," he continued. "Now, you said his name is Gerald, right?"
"Right," someone answered from behind him.
"What happened to him?" Lewis repeated the question and hoped it would get calm the others down, as he began to examine the wound, packing it with bandages. The other two legs of the tripod missed him but one leg managed to bury half lengths of itself in his stomach. He hurriedly administered a painkiller and gently began to palpitate the area surrounding the wound.
"We should have put the tripod in the trunk but Mitchell's house was near so we didn't bother," a meek voice explained.
"It's okay," Lewis said, "I don't think it hit anything vital." He briefly observed a tattoo on the side of Gerald's neck before turning to look at the others. He saw their worried faces and tried to flash them a reassuring smile. He saw Bill running towards him and he stood up to meet him.
"Aidan, the mother's water is broken but I think there may be some complications. I'm taking them to the hospital now. The other team hit a bit of a traffic jam but they'll be here in a couple of minutes," Bill said, looking at Gerald in sympathy. "Hang tight." and then he was gone, jogging back towards the ambulance.
"Will he be okay?" the one girl in the group asked, looking worriedly at Gerald. "Why don't you remove the metal?"
Lewis turned back to the boy who was paler and breathing much harsher. He frowned. "We can't because he could bleed out. The doctors will do that in the hospital." He threw another glance at the teens, "How about you guys? What do you feel? Any dizziness or pain?"
"Marco threw up earlier," one boy offered and Lewis immediately turned to the mentioned teen.
"I'm okay!" Marco was quick to argue. "It was just nerves. I had my seatbelt on and everything." He paused and then tacked on, "I didn't mean to hurt Gerald though, the car was swerving so I tried to jerk out of the way."
Gerald gave another pained moaned just then and Lewis immediately turned back to him. "Gerald?"
The boy's head lolled back in response but he could only moan in response. Lewis noticed the tattoo again and was about to check on the wound when it suddenly hit him why the ink was so familiar.
It was like getting slapped in the face and he actually reared back in unpleasant surprise, "Oh my God."
He examined the tattoo again and finally confirmed it: a clan tattoo. More specifically, a Dark fae clan tattoo.
The boy was fae.
Lewis suddenly felt disoriented, like he was in a haze. He could only stare at the boy's mark stupidly. He jolted out of his reverie when Gerald moaned again and saw that he looked worse. The boy was practically white, had rapid shallow breathing and his skin was cool. He was going into shock.
That wasn't a normal reaction and Lewis grew concerned. Since Gerald was fae, he should be more resilient but even with the relatively simple wound, his body wasn't reacting well.
Lewis carefully shifted some of the bandages to check the wound again and saw something that looked like a rash, forming on the boy's skin. It hadn't been there earlier.
"Shit," he muttered as he thought furiously. "Shit, shit, shit."
Lewis felt uncomfortably buzzed like he had too much energy all of a sudden. He had started breathing harder and could feel sweat dripping down his face.
He was panicking, he realized.
Gone was the cool EMT and replaced with this trembling man. For a second, he flashed back to that day when the compound had gotten bombed and Lauren's reaction to seeing the crumpled form of the Ash on the floor. And then like it had before, Lewis managed to turn off his emotions and concentrate solely on the problem.
"Blood poisoning," he finally deduced. The shock and the inflamed rash - it was an overreaction to an ordinary wound. The boy must have fairy genes in him.
Without hesitating, he pulled the tripod out of the wound to the sound of a wet squelch, dropping it carelessly on the car floor. Gerald cried out in fresh agony, bringing the other three teens back.
"Is he okay? Is he gonna die?"
"Mom! I'm fine, it's Ger! I'll call you later!"
"The tripod's gone!"
"Did it fall?"
Lewis gritted out a harsh, "Stand back," briefly wondering if anyone else was fae as he repacked the wound and started rummaging in his first aid bag for anything that could help the boy. He decided quickly that the other three were normal humans based on their reactions and that nothing in his bag would be helpful.
If he was on his lab, he knew exactly what to give this boy to help flush out the iron toxins poisoning his body.
But he wasn't and he could only look on helplessly as the boy's breathing started to constrict. "Shit."
He took the emergency epinephrine and injected the boy in the thigh, hoping it would at least help in regulating his breathing until they were able to take him to the hospital.
Where they wouldn't be able to help him, Lewis suddenly realized.
Already, he could hear the other ambulance coming. He needed to do something. The boy was almost in critical condition and he could die if he wasn't treated right away.
The other team had arrived and running to them with the gurney when Lewis finally saw the other boy's, Marco, phone.
"Hey, do you have Gerald's parent's number?"
Marco looked at him dumbly and Lewis had to fight the urge not to shake the boy. "Hey, hey, answer me. Do you have their number?"
"Uh, yeah, yeah. For emergency."
"Get them on the phone for me now. Hurry," he added, when the boy still looked dazed.
And then he seemed to snap out of it and began searching his phone. "Oh jeez, I forgot to call them, I..." He pressed a button and raised the phone to his ear but Lewis practically snatched it before he could say hello. The other team was trying to get his attention while they loaded the boy into the gurney but he ignored them.
"Is this Gerald's parents?"
"Hello? Marco?" It was a woman's voice.
Lewis briefly thought of the danger to his cover but still he spoke quickly, "Listen carefully, Gerald was just in a car accident. Somehow, he had gotten impaled on an iron tripod. An iron tripod. They're taking him on St. Michael's Hospital now. He's showing signs of blood poisoning..."
There was a gasp on the other line and Lewis finally felt a sliver of relief. They understood.
"I'll inform them that you'll be sending your doctor soon," he finished.
There was a brief "Thank you" and then the line was dropped.
Lewis closed his eyes for a second before he opened them again. "Thanks, kid," he said, throwing the phone back to Marco before hurrying after the other team.
Lewis found himself on a pub after work. It was not O'Briens, but a small, dingy one near his apartment. There was a glass of scotch in front of him (Lauren preferred tequila, but he liked scotch. The smoky amber colour reminded him of Bo's eyes when the light hits her just right.) but it was untouched. The air in the bar was almost rank, cigarette smells and alcohol mixed with human sweat and a hint of vomit.
Lauren would have hated the place. Not because of the dirt or rowdy patrons, but because of the ambience of despair that hung around it. This bar wasn't a place to hang out and have fun - it was a place to drown one's sorrow. And Lauren, who had struggled so hard to keep her neck above that ocean of despair everyday for five years would have felt uncomfortable here because she hadn't been allowed to wallow on her own. (Not when it had been her own doing; not when Nadia's life had hung in the balance of her actions.) Maybe she would have even felt contempt for the people in here. She would have thought that they were selfish and weak for giving in.
But Lewis liked the place. It was an escape from the life he created for himself. When he was in here, he could safely remember Lauren and be both her and him at the same time.
And tonight, he needed desperately to be here.
Before he left the hospital earlier, he had discreetly checked on the fae boy and found out that he was going to be alright. Lewis hadn't realized then how tense he was until he had gotten that news. Somehow, even though the boy was a stranger, he had felt responsible for his health.
Lewis wasn't supposed to care for the fae anymore but it seemed like he still carried Lauren's sense of responsibility. The boy wasn't even a Light Fae and yet he had risked his entire cover - his life! - just to save him. The fae had effectively ruined his life and yet he couldn't shake away this feeling... this empathy for them.
He had panicked, for God's sake! Like he was some newbie on the first day of the job.
Like he had known the kid personally.
And there was a reason why doctors weren't allowed to treat their friends and family, they couldn't help but lose perspective. He shouldn't have lost his because that boy was nothing to him. So what if he had been fae?
Lewis let out a disgusted sigh and finished off his drink in one swallow. He winced at the burn but gestured for another top off.
No, that wasn't it. It was because he had been fae.
In that moment when he identified that clan marking, it felt like he had finally woken up from a long, long dream. Lewis felt... alive - electrified - for the first time in months.
He had tried so hard not to think of the fae (of Bo) and struggled to perfect his new identity. And hadn't he succeeded beautifully? He liked his life now; it was simple but different. It suited him.
But now that lie was torn apart. He felt like he had been inside a bubble all this time, waiting for it to pop and let the world back in. He hadn't dealt with any of his issues with the fae, he had only buried them deep. He had let himself believe in his own lie - that he was only Lewis and that Lauren was gone.
He was suddenly full of doubts. Did he really stay here for Bo or had he somehow hoped that the fae would find him again? Lewis grimaced at the pain that thought provoked. He quickly finished his drink and then just flat out asked for the bottle.
No, he decided after a while. No, it wasn't some subconscious masochistic side that made him stay in the city. The fae weren't bound to this one place after all and if he had escaped somewhere else he would have still stumbled on to them sooner or later.
He had stayed for that lingering connection to Bo he couldn't completely cut off. And the fact that it was strategically sound hiding place for the moment.
The fae kid wasn't the problem. He was.
However long he ran or however good he hid, Lewis (Lauren) would never escape the fae completely. They were already in her (them), had changed her for good. The fae had brought out the best in Lauren - cutting-edge research study that was years ahead of her human and fae peers -, had lifted her so high and at the same time dashed her to the rocks, grinding her sense of self.
In many ways, Lauren had loved her time with the fae as much as she had hated it. Her suffering hadn't stopped her appreciation for being allowed to be part of that world, and her torment over Nadia's fate hadn't erased her delight for all that she had learned with the fae.
Lauren had felt so much but hadn't allowed any of that feeling to surface then because she knew that she had to keep control all the time. And now the she had "escaped", everything she had felt had only transferred to Lewis.
He recognized that dichotomy inside him now and understood that he felt guilt over the positive feelings he had for the fae that he couldn't forget.
Lewis really shouldn't be surprised he hadn't turned out any more fucked up than he was right now. (A woman who created another personality - a male personality - just so she can hide better.)
With the internal conflict properly identified and labeled, the next glass of scotch was taken with a slightly more jovial note.