Mutant Anatomy

July 10, 2018:

Lorna finds a homeless mutant on the streets in a bad condition and brings him to a hospital. Ari does his best to help.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The hospital:

It was the end of another hot, humid summer day and the hospital hadn’t slowed much. There were patients as always, the usual herds of humanity that came through the doors as the lifeblood of the city continued down its hectic, violent way.

But there was little room in any hospital these days. There hadn’t been for weeks. Not since the eight thousand people (estimated) had been blown up in a terrorist attack in Hell’s Kitchen. There were survivors, plenty, and more that were injured indirectly, or injured in trying rescue.

More than a few mutants had awakened in the stress of that environment, adding to the chaos of SHIELD agents, DEO and other assorted alphabet soup of federal agents.

Lorna for her part, had been arrested for daring to go beyond the border that the agents had set. A night spent in a holding cell with Logan and a scared, weeping, teenager that had only been trying to find his sister. Since then she’d combed the streets, helping mutants avoid checkpoints where and when she could. The city was in mourning, but it was also on a knife’s edge. And with anti-mutant sentiment at an all time high, there were plenty of people looking for fights.

Which is how Lorna Dane, Polaris, and daughter of one of the most infamous men on the planet, was walking into the hospital. She was fine, but in her arms she helped lug a semi-conscious mutant into the ER. He was bleeding, or rather was bloody? It was hard to say for sure. But the young man was clearly in immediate danger, and was clearly a mutant. His skin was red, and covered in scales. He had long scraggy hair, and smelled like he was homeless.

“Someone help, please. He’s barely awake.” More than a few people looked, and then.. Found someplace else to be. A green haired woman, one who’s face had been plastered all over the internet with her ties to Magneto (who’s Brotherhood legacy might already be stained with the murder of 8 thousand more—to which they were innocent).. And a mutant bleeding.

There were few people that would step up to help. Not when powers came into play and could cause harm to the doctors or nurses that treated them..

***

Ari wasn’t working long days – he was working days, nights, afternoons, the little quiet spots in the morning where the only solitude he could claim was slumped in a chair with his head against the hum of the ice machine. After Hell’s kitchen, the nurse returned home for a few hours at a time to grab new clothes and add to the growing pile of soiled laundry in the corner. Showering, sleeping, eating – all of it was done in the bowels of the hospital under flickering fluorescent lights with the distant sound of sobbing or laughter depending on how fate’s cards fell.

And today fate was being a bitch. Ari had been scratched, screamed at, and had a bedpan thrown at him. Recovering from the most recent effort to weaponize a length of catheter tubing as a makeshift noose, Ari rubbed his neck ruefully and blinked at the scene unfolding in the waiting room. The triage receptionist was a woman who would have thrived in the DMV, a broad shouldered black woman with an accent from Sierra Leone, Africa. The only reaction she could spare was a deep sigh, and Ari noticed her hand moving towards the call button under the desk for security.

Smoothly he moved to intercept the green-haired, red-skinned mutant entourage with an authoritative calm.

“Thank you for calling ahead. We have a room ready for you in the back.”

They didn’t. He would have to treat… Whatever this situation was in the hallway on a gurney that was hopefully sanitized. Leaning against the security glass, which would do little good against a mutant, he leveled dark eyes on the perturbed expression of the receptionist, “Can you give me the intake paperwork? I’ll get it sorted out.”

She started to interrupt, and he smoothly continued, “…And cover your Uber Eats order today, yeah? Come on, we don’t want a scene out here. Not with… everything going on. And we’re going to have to treat them regardless or face a lawsuit. Let me handle it and you get free lunch.”

His voice was hushed, but firm, audible in pieces and parts to Lorna Dane if she was listening. A tense moment strung between receptionist and nurse before she shoved a clipboard into his waiting hands with a grunt. Ari flashed her a smile that was all white teeth and crows’ feet even as he purred, “Thank you, honey.” Turning back to the patient, he addressed the woman who had brought him in in a casual tone that belied complete confidence with her unusual appearance, “You, come on, set him down here.”

He swung a wheelchair forward for the mutant, holding a clipboard in his other hand which he would thrust towards the mutant-bearer as soon as she had the ability to hold a pen, “And fill that out with whatever you know about him. What seems to be the problem today? My name is Ari. I’ll be your nurse.”

***

Lorna was beginning to hate humans on a visceral level, the looks aimed her way and the way of the man she’d dragged up the road using magnetic currents to keep him from falling over was not making for a happy magnokinetic.

With everything that mutants had done to help in Hell’s Kitchen. With everything the X-men had done for the city and those impacted by the events. To get the side eye, or be worse, ignored made everything inside her want to scream and pull the whole hospital down around her in frustration. She looked about ready to do just that, to go off on everyone and anyone in hearing, before Ari swept forward to took hold of the situation.

Lorna, still standing there, holding the nearly collapsed mutant in her arms upright, got him into the wheelchair with a glower aimed at the receptionist and her apathy for someone clearly unwell. She looked about ready to at least verbally rip the woman a new one, when Ari shoved the clipboard into her hands and she gaped but followed after him out of the reception area.

“I don’t know anything about him. He got jumped on the street. Homeless guy, I think. I was walking down the street, and spotted a bunch of assholes trying to kick him into an early grave. I stepped in and stopped it and brought him here. One of them had steel toed boots. Ripped up his side real bad.” They had steel toed boots. Not any more.. But that was beside the point.

Green eyes lit on Ari, her lips pursed into a thin line as she glanced down at the clipboard and bit back a snarl. “I would’ve handled him if I wasn’t scared he’d bleed out or die on me before I could get him somewhere that would treat him equally. Whatever cost, I’ll cover it.” She muttered. Or rather the school’s funds for mutants in danger would handle it. That and the safe houses that were in such high demand these days.

“You know most mutants don’t have any powers, they’re helpless. They just look different and that means they can’t get jobs and end up homeless. And people hate them.” She added, defensively in the name of the stranger she’d hauled in, the poor man was still barely coherent.

***

“We don’t turn anyone away.”

Ari quipped, pausing as he looked over the mutant and checked vitals quickly. The skilled triage of someone accustomed to working without tools; skin, pulse, eyes. His expression betrayed nothing as he went through the motions, his touch gentle and his smile settling into the comforting patience of practice motion. With a nod towards the crowded waiting room, he added with a low chuckle, “…but plenty of folks choose to leave instead of getting treatment when the wait is six hours long.”

Taking the handles of the wheelchair, he buzzed them through the heavy double doors into the chaos of the back rooms. If Lorna hated humanity, it would be a feast of suffering for any sadistic streak she had. The central station that hosted the dispatchers to the ambulances and the computers consolidating everyone’s records were surrounded by several glass rooms. Each room was equipped to handle the most medically fragile and urgent of cases. As they passed the first room, three nurses and a pediatric specialist worked on an infant no bigger than a cantaloupe. Even glimpses through the curtains betrayed the efforts were not going well.

Past the rooms filled with head trauma waiting on x-rays and a dog bite victim who was still holding half her face in place, Ari tucked them down a side hallway and laid claim to a gurney. Pulling the dirtied sheets off of it, he reached for a spray bottle full of disinfectant and began to wipe down the plastic surface with thorough scrubbing motions.

“People hate a lot of things. Mutants. Bugs. Brown people.”

He flashed her a wink, his own complexion being the referenced joke even as he crouched down so he could look the patient in the eyes.

“Hey there, my name is Ari. I’m going to take care of you. Can you tell me what your name is?”

When the man’s head slumped to his side, Ari frowned a bit and glanced up at Lorna. “Give me a minute.” He stood and walked away at a brisk walk.

Ari halved that approximation, returning with a mobile monitoring unit, clean sheets, and a box of gloves. Setting each out, he glanced to the clipboard and intoned pointedly, “Just fill in whatever you can. Write in name as John Doe and address as wherever you found him. We need to get him in the system so I can start fluids and pain medications.”

As he spoke, his hands were constantly moving - covering the gurney with clean sheets, shouldering the prone figure onto the surface, pulling off the jacket and loosening the shirt as the monitoring equipment was attached.

***
Lorna’s expression twisted as she stepped down the halls and followed after Ari. The scenes of suffering moved her, cutting her to the quick.. Genosha had advanced tech. Genosha had healers. Mutant and mutate alike. Their hospital had been overwhelmed and lacking basic needs during the war and right after..

And still the reek of humanity around her was thick and cloying in the air with cleaner and disinfectant. It made her stomach roil. Particularly as she could sense, on some level, the minute electrical noise of life and death all around her. She shook her head, blocking it out to a grey static and forced herself to not reach out for that part of her senses.

Rather she focused on Ari, and his attempt of a joke. Her cheeks burned, “No one has tried to pass registration laws on bugs. Or started programs to murder them via robotics.” She drawled, but some of the anger faded from her green eyed gaze.

The pen clicked without her so much as lifting a finger, the clipboard clenched tightly between both of her hands as the pen wrote out whatever was required that Ari told her to write. Her green eyes daring him to comment on her use of powers. Daring him to be just like everyone else.

But he was busy, and working.. And doing his job.. The anger lessened again and Lorna swallowed back anything else that was biting. She turned concerned eyes on the strange mutant, her brows furrowing as she watched, feeling helpless. Still, she remembered at least to pull out the card with the little bit of insurance and info that the school had set up for this use. Adding a paper clip that definitely wasn’t there before to hold it in place.

“If he survives.. Or is stable or whatever it is you call it.. I’ll get him out of here.” She offered softly.

**

Ari had other shit to do besides care how the paperwork was filled out, so long as it got done. The blood pressure was high on the patient, and there were several bruises blooming with accessory swelling. At Lorna’s commentary, he chuckled and glanced to meet her green eyes,

“They call it something different. Invasive Species. Insecticide. Immigration Policy.”

A little toss of his shoulders as he sighed, and slipped off his gloves. Although he reached for the clipboard, his other hand remained against the brow of the victim who was now lying prone on the gurney, trapped in that groaning place between rest and pain. As Ari read, the whimpering became less pronounced, the mumbling forming words instead of only animalistic expressions of pain. “Why? Where? Help.” Disembodied questions interspersed with pleas of the recently traumatized.

Ari leaned down and murmured something beside the mutant’s ear, smoothing the scales that covered his scalp instead of hair in a completely human gesture of honest kindness. It was unintelligible, but the patient seemed to relax. After a pause to make sure that the patient wouldn’t continue to fuss, Ari returned his attention to Lorna.

“…It may not be for several hours. I’ve put in a request to get him into a room as soon as possible. There are a few red flags that I need a doctor to look at and probably a cat scan.” He held up a hand to pause any concern about cost or coverage, dropping it to tap the insurance card she had provided, “This will help fast-track the situation, but I want to make sure he gets the best care we can provide to stabilize him. Hopefully that will be alright, Miss-”

He paused, realizing that he did not catch her name.

Ari didn’t have a lot of time to watch the news or surf the web, so the green-haired mutant of some renown in front of him was unidentified unless she chose to make the introduction.

**

Lorna’s lips twisted, and eyebrows climbing upwards at Ari’s commentary about different words. “Pfft, I still call giant robots with lasers as being a bit more effort in mutant hatred than most of those.” She muttered, but the heat was gone. At least Ari was doing his job, and Lorna wasn’t about to be little other group’s hardships just because humans were in general, trash, toward her kind.

Of course, all she had to do was look at her father and lay out the whole Holocaust survivor and Nazis murdered my whole extended family..

Not the time or place to dwell on such things, Ari, for a human (as far as she knew) was doing his job and doing it well. Taking in a mutant and treating him when otherwise they’d likely have been turned away. The mutant’s whimpering had her teeth on edge, and she leaned forward, only to stall at the sight of Ari offering him comfort and settling him down again.

“Lorna.’ She muttered, her eyes slanting downwards. “Lorna Dane.” She murmured, her lips pursed into a thin line as she looked at the man she’d plucked off the road. “Is there anything I can do to help? You’re already packed here, and I just want to get him out of here and some place where he can heal.” Never mind that Lorna was getting itchy with the idea of sitting in the corner of the hospital.

The receptionist looked like the type to call the cops or hospital security on her. Just because Ari wasn’t freaking out over who or what she was, didn’t mean that there weren’t others in that waiting room that knew exactly who she was. She expected to get asked to leave in none too polite terms.

**

“We’re always packed. It’s the emergency room. It will take a few hours for a doctor to get to him unless his condition worsens…”

On dramatic queue, the John Doe went rigid as a board except for the twitching tendons in his legs shaking the entirety of his frame. The gurney rattled underneath him, Ari’s hands returning to steady the body so it didn’t fall from the secure perch while as he lifted the locks on the wheels with a toe. With a practiced shove, he began piloting the man towards the main honeycomb of rooms in the center of the department.

“Push that along a bit, please.”

He said with a nod to the monitoring equipment still attached to the patient, the lines and pulses jumping erratically across the screen like midges on pond water. The realization dawned only a second later, and he blurted quickly,

“With your hand! I’m not sure how whatever you do may throw off the readings and I need them accurate.”

The dance of the pen had not been lost on the nurse, and the patient under his hands was in the throes of a seizure. He wanted to make sure whatever responding doctor he found would see that in the readings instead of the mutant. Maybe the John Doe was already epileptic and the violence had provoked enough stress to bring on a fit. Or maybe it was a brain bleed. It wasn’t Ari’s job to diagnose, just keep them alive for someone in a white coat to look at. That was who Ari practically rammed the bed into as they turned the corner, an exhausted woman with dark circles under her eyes that bunked the rule of all television dramas that doctors need to be spectacularly attractive.

Dr. Dodge was held together by dry shampoo and strong coffee at this point, and the glower she shot Ari evidenced how weak those bulwarks were.

“Ari, so help me God-”

“Hey’a Doctor Dodge. Great day for Hate Crime, huh?”

The doctor shoved her glasses farther up her nose, glancing to Lorna with a disinterested glance to confirm she wasn’t also dying somehow, before leaning over the patient and beginning to weigh the situation while Ari spoke.

“Blunt force trauma. Apparently it was fists and steel toed boots, probably whatever else was lying around too. He was found probably an hour ago and brought in by this Good Samaritan. No name, still got to get him into the computer as a John Doe-”

“Fucking scales.” Dr. Dodge observed with a perturbed sigh, “Why can’t it be feathers. Though the ones with bird veins are a real bitch to treat. I got to call some reptile expert now to make sure we don’t accidentally pierce a lung when we try to intubate.”

Ari shrugged and smiled politely, as if he completely sympathized with Dr. Dodge’s plight. He nodded down the hallway while interrupting her muttering, sleep-deprived rant, “Should we get him into the room?”

Not ‘a room’ but ‘the room.’ There was one specifically for mutants – hastily put together after the effort to treat them like normal humans led to an explosion when an oxygen mask was used on someone who could breathe fire. Several nurses had been burned in the flash explosion, which explained why there was a prejudice upon intake against mutants. Who knew what the hell would happen when you added medical duress to a ticking time bomb?

Dr. Dodges was not afraid of the man on the table, but supremely inconvenienced by his biology.

“I’m late on my rounds by about…” A glance up to the clock on the wall and a deep sigh, “…Forty minutes. But Dr. Forke is the only other doctor on today.”

She trailed off and shared a knowing look with Ari, pregnant with the unspoken ‘there’s no way he will treat this mutant’ sentiment. Ari just nodded and quipped, “I’ll get him into the room. Lorna, come with me, will you? You all have been upgraded to the luxury accommodations.”

On the gurney, the mutant had stopped seizing, spittle running from the corner of his mouth. With a gloved hand (when had he put on gloves?), Ari wiped away the spittle and patted him gently on the shoulder even as he began to pilot their entourage to the last room in the bay of critical patients.

***

Lorna quirked an eyebrow upwards as he mentioned that they were always packed, but the expression dropped as soon as the mutant shuddered violently. She moved, but Ari was already there, steadying the man as he convulsed.

She was left feeling helpless, magnetism was useful in so very many ways, but she wasn’t a healer. She wasn’t able to help those hurt, or in pain. Genosha had mutates and mutants that could, had the facilities on hand to handle mutant powers. She didn’t even know what powers this guy might have.. If he had any at all beyond his physical mutation. She stood there staring, her brows furrowed high and her chest tight with concern.

It was less than 1% of the population that had mutations to begin with. And even a smaller percentage had any type of power to go with it. The bulk of mutants were like she had been as a kid. Green hair and not much else. Yet now she had power, now she had training, and she was still left there feeling helpless.

She hated it.

But Ari needn’t have worried that she’d push the equipment with her powers, her hands already curling around poles physically as he chided her to not use her powers. She rolled her eyes.

“I’m not about to use magnetism on delicate hospital equipment. I’m well aware of what it does. Thanks.” She drawled, pushing the equipment along beside Ari. She had a feeling she wasn’t supposed to be back there. But she had two hands and that was what was needed at the moment.

Then they were off around a corner and running almost into, well, Ari called her a doctor, so a doctor she had to be. Lorna’s lips pursed, but she stood silently, glancing to the mutant on the gurney and back as the two spoke and they were apparently going to some ‘room’. She followed, watching warily as they sped down the hall to where ever they were going.

Still dressed in street clothes, boots, jeans and a tank-top, Lorna felt more and more out of place. Her nose wrinkled at the scent of antiseptic that deepened the further into the hospitals halls they went. She vaguely wished that she could go, the talk of mutant biology’s quirks and oddities made her feel particularly aware of her own issues.

Bipolar disorder that could never be treated with medication. A brain that was constantly hooked up to the Earth’s magnetosphere and one manic high away from becoming a natural disaster.. Marcos had it worse, his blood glowed and melted everything it touched. Others she knew would be hell in a hospital. She didn’t want to think about it, not when the X-men had their own facilities..
“What do you need me to do?” She asked, brows furrowing, stirred from her thoughts once more.

  • *

Ari ignores her defensive tone regarding the delicate hospital equipment. Most mutants who came through those doors didn’t understand the full extent of their powers, but unpleasantly discovered them while in pain and surrounded by strangers. It required a few amendments to the Hippocratic oath, “First do no harm, unless your patient might inadvertently kill you. Then you’re going to need some restraints and barricades.”

The nurse hadn’t had a chance to translate it into Greek yet, but he would get around to it.

Dr. Dodges practically threw the clipboard at a passing nurse and told her they were putting a patient in Room 12. Ari continued to move the gurney past Dodges berating the poor woman with instructions – order up labs, get a herpetologist on the phone, ‘fucking scales’ and a few other choice words about the lack of intake protocol observed for this patient. Ari glanced over his shoulder with a mischievous grin, having been the cause of the intake chaos. He would need to buy Dodge’s victim a cupcake tomorrow.

The room they arrived in was similar to other rooms, except that its glass doors were ballistic grade thick polymer, the other surfaces from ceiling to walls to floor the drab grey of thick cement. The usual tanks and cords were stowed away in another space, the entire room Spartan in its readiness to be lit on fire or barraged with projectiles. This hospital’s Emergency Department was one of the three to survive the most recent batch of closures; the other facilities unwilling to make such an investment in treating mutants and unable to recover from damages sustained in the process of historically treating them.

Ari deposited the patient in the center of the space, locking the gurney wheels and glancing to Lorna with a gentle smile at her question.

“If you want, you can go home at this point. You’ve reported to us all the information you have, and we can take over treatment from here.”

The front of the room filled with the back and forth traffic nurses wheeling in medical accessories while Ari’s practiced hands hooked up more substantial monitors. A young, dark haired nurse with tattoos peeking over the collar of her scrubs set an iv line with ease to draw blood and begin fluids. Dr. Dodges was absent to give praise, but Ari laughingly thanked her for saving them all from another ‘Scale Incident of last Spring.’ The young nurse rolled her eyes, and echoed his chuckle.

“That was weird armored scales. These are just like a snake’s. I have ball python’s at home and one of mine needs injections every other day. Pretty cool to see it all over a person. Metal as fuck.”

She blinked, seeming to remember that Lorna was still in the room before deciding she didn’t care and nodding to Lorna’s hair, “Like that. Wicked cool.”

“Except for the fact that mutants don’t get to choose their physical forms and are regularly reviled and persecuted for them. That part is unfortunate.” Ari intoned, the other nurse’s features falling as she realized she had overstepped the ‘privileged human’ boundaries of professional decorum. Before she could apologize, Dodges bustled into the room and listened to the reports of vitals and pertinent treatment data with a bored expression.

“Get him downstairs for a CT Scan. Hopefully he won’t break the damn equipment like the last one we got in. Let’s see what we’re working with. I don’t like the bruising on his forehead. Is that bruising? Can snakes bruise?”

Metal AF Nurse began to inform them about the physiology of her personal ball python before Ari quipped, “Well he’s not a snake, so it’s irrelevant.”

Dodges groaned, 100% done with Ari’s holier-than-thou mutant treating attitude.

“CT. Now.”

With that authoritative directive, she bustled out of the room – the snake-owning nurse in her wake wheeling the patient towards the diagnostics wing. Ari lingered behind, looking quietly over at Lorna before stating the obvious – though it pained him to do so, “We can’t allow anyone else to accompany him. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. If you want, I can take your number and call you when I have an update on his condition and prognosis?”

***

The room was unexpected and the amount of concrete and plastic made Lorna itch, like there was something missing to the room. Her magnetic senses still felt the streams of electrical equipment and wires that lived and glowed in her mind’s eye. It wasn’t the prison she’d been locked in back in Genosha, though the feeling was similar.

She followed after though, listening with half an ear as she watched the other nurse with tattoos work. Ari had said she could home, but right now.. She was worried about whatever the homeless mutant’s powers might be. There were few that had truly destructive powers, and Lorna had started to feel it was more than her responsibility to protect the patient and doctors and nurses should anything go wrong. She shrugged wordlessly at the mention of leaving and stayed instead.

Not that anything did go wrong at least, the compliment toward her hair earned a half smile. “Thanks, I like it too.” She drawled, shooting Ari a dry look as he stepped in to wave away the tattooed woman’s concepts that it was just wicked..

Then in swept the doctor and out swept the homeless mutant, out the door to the CT machine. Lorna lingered, biting back a sigh as Ari apologized and offered to call her with an update. She shrugged, pushing back locks of green behind her ear.

“I figured, I was honestly surprised I was allowed back here as long as I was..” She grinned weakly, and shrugged. “I’ve got a number you can reach me at.. Yeah. If you guys need help with mutants… you can call me too. I’m a little less intrusive than DEO agents. I’m not as good as a telepath, but I can help here and there if you want.”

**
Ari nodded and pulled out his personal phone with a smirk, pausing after unlocking it to explain,

“I don’t want your name on the paperwork in the event the DEO Agents do come sniffing around. I swear this isn’t a weak attempt at gaining your number for my own personal use.”

He paused again, looking up from where he had opened his contacts and groaning as he added, “Not that I wouldn’t want your number for personal reasons, but I would ask in a bit less of a circuitous way if that was the end-goal.”

The exhaustion of the last several days was showing. Usually he didn’t feel the need to salve someone’s potentially bruised ego. Ari cleared his throat and pressed onward valiantly in the conversation. “Which is why I’m curious who you are associated with, Miss Dane? Sometimes we have mutants come into the hospital who are not as benign as John Doe today. They are angry and scared, and like any human – dangerous because of those two things. It’s all well and good to want to help, but I’m not in the habit of secreting a mutant out the back door to escape DEO or Law Enforcement to some other, unnamed and masked organization or even the most well-meaning Good Samaritan. It’s just not in the patient’s best interests.”

***
Lorna crossed her arms as he pulled out his phone, it was nice, nicer than her crappy thick burner phone. Her father had made sure she had a nice one back in Genosha. One that her powers wouldn’t accidentally fry so easily.. But with a baby that had electrokinesis that fried nearly everything..

Burner phones were just safer that way.

She laughed as he tried to recover why he was asking for her number and she shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. I’m married actually..” Her expression turned twisted and remorse flickered to life there. As married as she could be with a husband she hadn’t seen in a month. With a baby to raise with people after her.. Still on her hand was a ring, made of metal alloys of various degrees, alive in her senses but dull to those without them.

But the expression of amusement died and Lorna leaned her weight back on her heels, sighing. Ah, right. She’d been expecting something along those lines. Her arms crossed as she considered what to tell him. Likely more than a simple google search would tell him.

“Everyone.” She paused, looking back at him, measuring him carefully. “I have ties to everyone mutant-wise. Those in Mutant Town, those in Genosha. I know members of the X-men and members of the Brotherhood. I know kids that are stuck on the streets ‘cause their parents kicked them out… and those that run around being heroes.” She shrugged, shoving her hands into her pockets.

“I’m being serious, believe me or not. He’s homeless and needs someone to help him get a safe place to recover. Someone to help cover costs. I try to help my people. That’s all. It’s not much, but it’s what I can do.”

**
Ari glances up at her statement of marital status, catching the brief parade of emotions that ran across her face, and made no comment on either. He was still quiet when she listed her credentials, dark eyes flickering up from the waiting input screen on his phone to regard her with a contemplation that was difficult to read. In the wake of her words, he was silent for a long moment before raising an eyebrow and succinctly inquiring, “You got a badge or something? Oracle of mutants? Who is the insurance tied to that you gave us earlier?”

Insurance didn’t usually work like she had offered it – a ‘card holder is entitled to services regardless of who is named.’ Coverage wasn’t a damn gift card, but he had never seen an insurance card like the one offered earlier though. Given that it still wasn’t populated within the computer, he suspected the intake staff were similarly puzzled. Ari’s kind bedside manner hid a deep-rooted skepticism of anyone who could potentially take advantage of a patient. It was an inconvenient protective streak that didn’t make him particularly personable at the moment.

“I’m sorry – there’s just… a lot of ‘experimental treatments’ out there that prey on mutants exactly like John Doe. I can’t entrust a patient into someone’s care who may try to profit off of vulnerability.”

***

Lorna exhaled a breath, reaching up to drag her hands through her hair, trying to best explain. Well, the Xavier school has lawyers and money and has set up a huge network for helping mutants. Homeless mutants. Those in jail. Those that needed training and those that wanted something more.

At least though.. He cared. Which was more than most humans did. He cared. He didn’t want some no name, shadowy government agency to come in and start grabbing mutants off his gurneys to never be seen again. It was something. Something she wished more people did these days.

She gestured to his phone, “I don’t have a badge, but search up my name. Polaris. And Genosha. It’ll tell you a small run down.” Her lips curled in a bit of a sour look. “I was a member of the council there, for Magneto’s government.. And also his daughter.” She looked hesitant, but anyone could search that up these days.

The image of her in a wedding dress and pregnant while on Magneto’s arm, flushed with roses and petals falling from the sky was seared into her mind. She’d looked herself up when she’d had time.. It wasn’t pretty. Half the world hated her as Magneto’s kid. And a very small percentage loved and adored her for her work, that percentage.. Mainly being those in Genosha she’d helped to save.

“The card I gave is part of the Xavier foundation for mutants in need. It’s a fund set up for mutants struggling for medical care or housing. Legal fees. It’s not tied to Genosha.. Or anything. Promise.” She murmured softly.

“I keep one on me because I’ve been arrested twice already because of trigger happy federal agents or local cops. Nothing has been charged.. But yeah.. I don’t exactly know what else to tell you, to get you to believe me.” She shrugged, her lips twisting into a thin line again as she bit back another sigh.

And she waited. Waited for him to believe her and hate her, or not..

**

While she spoke, he listened with that distracted attention of the digital age – plugging the words she said into several different browser windows with his thumbs. A pause as each search pulled up what he wanted to know, the quiet between them uncomfortable as his eyes moved over the screen to confirm details given. A few times he glanced up at her, then back at his screen, before finally nodding once. He didn’t stop studying her, stoic consideration weighing her against the pictures and headlines lined up in condemnation (or adoration) of her person.

Finally, he smiled and explained in self-deprecating humor, “I’m sorry. I work a lot and don’t have a television at home so my ignorance is obvious when it comes to-” He trailed off, deciding against the word ‘celebrity’ or ‘national security’ and settling on, “-current events. You’re obviously who you claim to be and could certainly help the patient. Thank you for putting up with me.”

He asked for her number then, preparing to tap it in as he added ruefully, “You can Google me too. It’s less interesting though.”

***

Lorna released a dry, humorless laugh as she slowly shook her head, combing her fingers back through her hair as she watched him, waiting. It was more of a shock to see him smile, to wave off and apologize having questioned who she was. Lorna had expected hatred, or curses. Maybe even something along the lines of ‘leave or I’ll call the cops’.. Most people didn’t like her father, most humans didn’t..

Course there were those damned ‘Magneto was Right’ t-shirts.. Humans were weird.

“Don’t worry about it? Swear I’m not looking to take over the world or anything. Just trying to help out where I can.. Small ways or whatever..” She shrugged, and rattled off the burner phone number. Her lips twitching faintly as he said she could google him as well.

“I don’t have a TV either if it helps? Hard to keep electronics around..” She trailed off, Aurora was the problem these days. Electronics and loose charges didn’t go well together. “So don’t beat yourself up too much.”

**

Ari laughs as he nods in recognition of her challenges with electronics, finishing with the phone entry and pocketing it just as the static-laden voice boomed over the speakers about ‘Rouhani to intake’ Pointing to the ceiling, he explained, “That’s me. I’ll walk you out and deal with this mess while you get back to world conquest. Try to keep the injured mutants you drag here to one-a-day. Any day though, I work all seven.”

He saw her out the front, sliding doors. If she looked back while walking away, she would witness a discussion between the intake receptionist, someone in a suit, and Ari. Despite the pointing and implicitly heated exchange, Ari’s lips still quirked upwards in a small smile.

That evening she received a text.

“Ari from the hospital. John Doe was actually Karl Wallace. Nice kid. Has cousins uptown. Billed to the card you left. Thanks again for bringing him in. He had a brain bleed. Without getting the pressure off it, he may have died.”

-HIPAA violations intensify- read the subtitles

***

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License