THE FLYING FORTRESS
INFIRMARY, ROOM 212
Nat was, for the moment, alone. Fiona had finally fallen asleep, and was promptly spirited to a proper bed by Jess and Chad in the hopes that she could get some kind of quality rest. The Damselfly emself, though, had slept enough to last a month, by eir reckoning, and instead played with eir brand new XDS system.
“Such a nice house,” Nat affected a low character voice, like a cartoon mobster, “it would be a shame if something should happen to it.”
“Mistah Nook no!” This voice was squeakier. “Ah’ll have th’mortgage paid by friday! Ah promise!”
“We had an arrangement, Mitzi,” back to the low voice, “and you failed to deliver. Get me the bells by midnight tonight. Or else.”
The shuttle ride had been a rough one. They did at least try to time it so that Moon Base 1 and the Flying Fortress were not so distant, but his heart was still thudding, the slightest tremble to his knees. He paused outside the hospital room door, holding his hands out for a moment. They were as steady as ever. Good. With that, he stepped in.
Dr. Simon Lydes was not an imposing man. At about 5’7”, and lean, he did not, at first glance, look like he belonged in a military organization such as PHALANX. He wore a suit, white doctor’s jacket over it, and walked with his hands clasped, always remaining above waist level– a habit from being scrubbed in.
To be honest, he had no idea what to expect when he walked in, but the strange mix of neurotransmitters and pheromones certainly was not it.
Dr. Lydes cleared his throat quietly, then turned to pull a pair of exam gloves from the wall compartment.
Nat’s head snapped up and ey snapped the XDS closed in a fluid motion, all at once. Surprised eyes turned to appraising ones as ey took in Dr. Lydes’s garb, appearance, and bearing, and then Nat nodded.
“Oh, you must be Dr. Lydes,” ey smiled brightly. It was not a smile to be trifled with; in addition to whatever pheromonal or etheric psychological powers the Damselfly had, ey was also just… very pretty, and knew how to wield that.
“That is correct.” The response has no real inflection. His accent might be mid western US, not giving any indication of origin. He blinks once, twice, blue eyes too bright, or was that just the light?
“You exude chemical stimulants. Is this normal?” He pulls his gloves on, approaching the bed as though nothing was out of the ordinary.
“Yeah, probably,” Nat shrugged a little. “They analyzed my lure powers and said that it was ‘a combination of pheromonal, energetic, memetic, and probabilistic influences on those who observe you’… so yeah those are probably the stimulants you’re noticing.”
Lydes hummed to himself in thought. He had tried reading the file somewhat on the flight, but that had most definitely made his motion sickness more pronounced. He would have time while the technicians were setting up the OR.
“Do you mind?” He gestured toward eir jaw, as though to take a closer look at it. Faintly, like a subtle perfume, was a neurostimulant of his own, meant to draw out oxytocin, that wonderful chemical that made people feel pleasant, warm, fuzzy, more amiable.
Nat blinked a few times, then eir smile distinctly changed quality and Lydes noticed a spike in eir pheromone production. “Dang, doc,” Nat said, voice a bit quieter, “what are you wearing? It smells really nice.”
Simon frowned slightly. Too much oxytocin. He dialed it back slightly, mixing in serotonin so that it would still be favorable, he hoped. Thankfully he had been practicing. A lot.
“Please turn your head.” Lydes gingerly touched her jaw, leaning in to look at the outward trauma.
Valiantly ignoring the small intake of breath that this elicited from Nat, Simon turned a critical eye toward the spot where the comm implant had been dislodged and then removed. They’d done all right. He would have done better, but the scarring would likely only be visible at very close range, and easily explained through a fabricated accident. There was bruising, and there’d certainly be more, but a neat reimplantation was certainly feasible.
Simon nodded to himself, tilting his head to get a better look at her jaw, a pen light pulled from the pocket of his white doctor’s jacket and clicked on, dispelling the shadows the angle caused. It was definitely workable. He had no doubt about that.
“While I will not be able to diminish previous scar tissue, I should be able to work the new scarring– as little as possible, I promise– into the curve of the jaw bone so it can be hidden easily by shadows. Only deft fingers running along your jaw should even find it detectable.” His voice was quiet, hushed from the distance. He was not the type to expend more energy on speech than absolutely necessary, if he even bothered speaking at all.
However, he had been called in especially for this, and the opportunity to work with the Legion in the future was too good to pass up. It was an opportunity to do something other than patch up wounded soldiers, at the very least, and challenge himself in other ways.
“That’s great,” Nat murmured, trying not to move eir jaw too much, “my job kinda relies on my face staying pretty. Both of my jobs, honestly.”
Lydes paused for a moment, still shining the bright little white light on her jaw, thinking back. No, he had no idea what she really did. He could not recall it on Twitter, either. He tended not to pay much attention to social media, other than doing his required interactions now and then.
“If you do not mind me asking, what exactly do you do? If, of course, you are at leisure to say.” Lydes took another look at the jaw, and then clicked the light off, straightening up slightly, but remaining at the bedside.
“I am a creature of leisure, and I’m happy to say it,” Nat joked, then explained, “so my day job is that I’m an exotic dancer. Since I’m here in a Legion infirmary, I don’t mind telling you that I work for them too. My job is basically strategic placement of my lure powers, to draw out wanted villains who’ve gone to ground.”
That did draw a chuckle from Lydes. “The leisure of others, perhaps, but that is hard work.” And then, a bit quieter, studying the wall, “It’s impossible to make everyone happy.”
“Well,” Nat said, “yeah. What made you think of that?”
“Hmm?” Lydes glances back from the wall, like he was lost in thought for a moment there. He was. Of course, now is hardly the time, and he quickly reins everything back in, voice returning to that same, cool, level tone.
“It was merely an observation.” He pauses for a moment, long enough to put his pen light away entirely. “We can either use a generalized anesthetic, which would require you to be NPO for twelve hours prior to the surgery, or a localized anesthetic, which means you would be awake during the procedure.” While it was a statement, the way he stopped talking suddenly made it seem as though that was more of a question.
Nat was quiet for a few moments, staring into the middle distance. When ey spoke, eir voice seemed a little distant. “I need to get out of here,” ey said. “Local is fine.”
“Do not worry, there will be chemical restraints in place. Post-operation observation should be no more than an hour, though I recommend a liquid diet for the next few days, so you do not use your jaw too much and accidentally pull out stitches.”
Lydes lists these things off as though they are no more complicated and just as mundane as a grocery list.
Nat sighed. “Corey would be proud,” ey muttered, then said, “that sounds fine. I really just… I want to go home. I want to hold Fi.”
“That is my intention. To get you back to it as soon as possible.” Lydes glanced at his watch, the face of it turned to the inside of his wrist, on the right side. “When I leave the room, your serotonin and oxytocin levels are going to drop suddenly. Please don’t panic.”
“So that’s your delightful perfume,” Nat murmured, smiling.
There, the slightest smile, a twitch at the corner of his lips. “Yes, well, we all have our particular… talents.” Lydes did not wait for any response to that, or for a goodbye. He did not give one either. He took of his gloves with the ease of one who practically lives in them, tossed them in the trash bin, and left without another glance.
Nat watched Lydes go, head cocked, and then shuddered at the sudden chemical drop. Ey put eir face in eir hands and wept silently at being alone again, shackled to a bed and with partners far away.