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Second Opinion

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The Medlab is quiet and dark, again. It's the middle of the night. One patient sleeps in a bed tucked in a private area - a small girl, with blonde hair. And she is very, very sick. The best efforts of Doctor Henry McCoy to stave off the effects of the Legacy Virus that has ravaged her frail body have failed. It's only a matter of time before she dies.

The distinguished-looking Doctor leans back from where has been listening to her heart through a stethoscope. He removes the earpieces and sighs. He has read the detailed medical chart that Doctor McCoy has kept, meticulously tracking Illyana's symptoms over the past few weeks. He has examined her thoroughly himself. And he knows there is nothing more that can be done. All the while as he has been looking at the child, a handsome, dark-haired young man has been watching him hopefully from a perch on the empty bed next to the patient's.

At his sigh, the alien eyes of Remy LeBeau close briefly. He knows what that means. Nathaniel Essex doesn't need to say anything. But he does.

"I'm sorry, Remy." he speaks softly in the quiet.

He gives a sad smile. "S'alright. I knew de odds were bad, but I was hopin'... well, mebbe you be able to spot somethin' Henri didn', y'know?"

"I would be very surprised indeed if Doctor McCoy ever missed anything." Essex replies with a slightly raised brow.

"Was wort' a shot," Remy shrugs. "How long y't'ink she has?"

"A few days, a week perhaps." He answers, looking at her tiny form. Remy's eyes follow his own to settle on the sweet child who lay at death's door. She was a lovely little girl, she should have been happy and healthy, with her whole life ahead of her. But the virus that had infected her had progressed rapidly and unaffected by any of the treatments Doctor McCoy had administered. Some Legacy patients died quickly. Others lingered for months, even years, declining little by little until they, too, withered away into skeletons and only then died agonizing deaths. It was perhaps a mercy that the girl had only fallen ill a few short weeks ago. No child should meet such a fate. It wasn't fair, Goddammit. The best and brightest minds in the mutant medical community had been working for so long to find a cure, and had all come up empty handed. Even Essex himself had made absolutely no progress in even finding a way to slow the progression of the disease. It was maddening.

He stirs from his musings to find Remy watching him with an expression that was a mixture of curiosity and sympathy, as if he knows what Essex is thinking. Or at the least, what he is feeling. Essex replaces the stethoscope in the medical bag, along with the other instruments he has brought along for his clandestine appointment. He stands, and Remy hops lightly down from the other bed and comes to stand before the older man. A tesseract opens in the corner of the room.

"If there is nothing else?" Essex asks.

Remy shakes his head. "Naw, t'ank you for comin' t'see her."

"But of course. I wish there was something more to be done." He means it, sincerely.

"Well, if you ever do come up wit' anyt'ing t'help wit' Legacy..." Remy trails off, uncertain.

Essex puts a hand on Remy's shoulder, "Then I shall ensure that Doctor McCoy comes up with it as well." he assures the young man.

Remy's eyes flash, and he moves faster than Essex expected, and for a split second he thinks he is being attacked, but then he realizes - no - the boy is embracing him gratefully, actually *hugging* him. Essex lets out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding, and relaxes his arms around the boy, holding onto him in utter amazement. He couldn't remember the last time anyone had hugged him. It is pure bliss.

All too soon, it's over. Remy pulls away and smiles a misty smile, with tears shining sadly in his eyes. Tears for the poor little girl about to die, for the sadness he feels in the Doctor, for himself, for... for everything. Essex cups Remy's cheek with one hand, and returns his sad smile. He moves his hand lower, to clasp Remy's shoulder again.

"Be sure you aren't here when she passes-" He begins. Remy opens his mouth as if to protest "- you know how it will affect you." Remy's mouth closes at this, he purses his lips slightly, but nods. With one last look at the young man, Essex turns and enters the portal. In half a second, the shining light has disappeared, and the Medlab is quiet as a grave again.