The therapist was actually happy to see me and didn’t admonish me for anything this time. It seems I’m right on schedule as far as he’s concerned. He did teach me some hand exercises to improve the finer control of my hand and arm.
He also decided that I needed to learn some Chi Kung exercises.
“Chi Kung is the precursor to Tai Chi,” He explained to me. “The exercises are more meditative than anything.”
It seems from what he’s saying that a lot of the stiffness I’m feeling anymore is stress more than anything, only he’s found a nicer way of saying it.
The first exercise was called ‘Stand like a tree.’ Which is exactly what you do– you stand there. The idea or challenge is to not think about anything to just well– be a tree. Its going to take some serious practice is all I have to say.
After that I headed down to Lonestar and visited Saunders. He did the check for me, but wouldn’t make eye contact. Then I noticed the cameras. It seems that somebody picked up on the undocumented search for Darren Gillian and since they couldn’t pin down who’d done it, they were watching records.
I knew it would wear off soon enough, but I didn’t like causing extra grief for my friends. Saunders processed my request efficiently without comment and then moved on to the next one. I almost didn’t see Det. Young watching me.
“Miller,” he called as I passed by.
I looked at him, prepared for another accusatory lecture. He must have seen that in my expression because he raised his hands as if to show me they were empty.
I waited for him to talk.
“You aren’t going to make this easy on me are you?” He asked.
That got my attention. I looked up at him for a minute and shrugged. “It would help if I knew what ‘this’ is.”
He studied me for another minute and then sighed. “I’ve been looking over Andrews’s files,” he said softly.
That caught my attention.
He nodded. “Yeah, I read Darringer’s account first– figured you were nothing but trouble.”
I gave him an impish smile. “I am nothing but trouble,” I answered. “Andrews just gave it a positive direction.”
Young shook his head. “No, you end up in trouble– but I think that’s part of your job. Ending up in the right place at the wrong time...”
I grinned. “That’s about it,” I agreed.
“But,” he added gently.
I looked at him, expecting the worst.
“I can’t let you help on your brothers; case– if it turns out that something happened– I want a clear audit trail of everything that’s happened.”
I nodded slowly, then met his gaze. “I appreciate that– but you understand– I can’t just give up on them.”
He smiled. “I kinda figured that. Just be careful,” he urged.
I nodded: if he’s read Andrews’ notes on me then he knows what I consider to be ‘careful.’
After that I headed over to Casey’s. He was still trying to unwind from the past few weeks, not that I can blame him. I knew what it had taken out of him– I could see it in his eyes.
I gave him a massage and told him about the dirt biking expedition. He agreed to give it a try.
We had two more people show up for the dirt bike outing. Melissa showed up with Officer Smiley and two of his ‘friends’ from Knight Errant reported in as well.
I knew that Smiley was setting me up– in a good way mind you. If the jury was still out, he was doing his best to make sure they got plenty of first hand information on me. Didn’t have too long to wait either. One of them went down a little hard... dislocated his knee.
I was with him almost instantly, ditching the bike as soon as it was safe. Smiley called it in and kept people from bowling us over. Case and Melissa stayed with me as I worked on ‘Daniel’.
That’s how he’d introduced himself, but he just didn’t respond to it like it was his real name, more like a name he gave so that we could call him something.
“Hon,” I told him as I started to check him out. “I want you to lay still for now, all right?”
He started to nod and then blinked slowly instead.
I nodded. “You do know, the objective of dirt biking is to remain upright and on the bike?”
That earned me a glare. It was good: it meant he was cognoscent
“Just take it easy... we’re going to immobilize your leg and get you out of here, but just to be on the safe side, I’m going to be immobilizing a lot more. Okay?”
Again he blinked slowly.
I smiled. “Its gonna be fine... I’d just rather be careful now and err on the side of overkill instead of not taking enough precautions.”
I got a slight smile on that. The rescue team arrived and took over. I gave his hand a squeeze as the hauled him away. “You’ll be fine hon,” I assured him.
It kinda put a damper on the rest of the outing. We ended up following the ambulance to the hospital and waiting for him to get checked out. It was about two hours later when he was wheeled out in a chair– his leg immobilized and sporting a cervical collar.
I think we all breathed a sigh of relief. I guess if you’re going to be going out doing something stupid it pays to have a medic or three on hand.
We spent the morning at the condo, trying hard not to talk about anything that’d happened in the last few weeks. It was a little hard at first but we started to make some headway. Around noon Case announced that he had a few things to clear up at the office and then he’d pick me up and maybe would could go out for the evening.
While I waited for him I figured it was about time to do some laundry and clean up. I was going to check on my clothes when there was a knock on the door. I checked the security cam and saw that it was Tal.
That surprised me. I shouldn’t have worried though, it was a social call. When I invited him in he smiled and handed me a guitar. It was wrapped, but lets face it, it’s very hard to make a guitar look like anything other than what it is.
I tried to tell him it was too much, but he just waved it off. "I thought you should have something for everything you've done,"he said. There was something in his tone– approval?
As he sat down I noticed the case he swung around from his back: a mandolin.
I smiled. No wonder he’d asked about the guitar... no wonder he’d bought me a new one. He understood.
We talked for a while and when I could contain myself no longer, I tuned up the guitar and started strumming. Now, I’m no lead, but I’m a pretty decent rhythm guitarist– Tal on the other hand... man he knows how to play that mandolin.
One thing led to another and by the time Case made it back to the condo, we were playing up a storm. It was one of the few times I got rapt-up in something that wasn’t bleeding. I think Case would have just sat there listening if Tal hadn’t noticed him.
Finally coming back to earth, I made the introductions. I introduced Tal as an old friend, figuring Case really didn’t need to hear about last week's-- adventures.
Case nodded and invited Tal to dinner, but he smiled and declined saying something about two being company. He said it was good to see me again, and made his good-byes.
I hope we see him again– there’s just something calming and peaceful about the man. And I’d love to play again.
The start to another work week– Case and I had Sunday brunch again, although this time he didn’t take me to his friend’s restaurant. We read the paper and lazed about for a while, then he asked me what happened last week.
I looked at him and then nodded. It looks like the guys from Knight Errant had been talking to him.
When I finished he gave me a big hug, and just held me. “Jess,” he whispered softly. “I really wish you wouldn’t take chances like that...”
I nodded. “I know, but...”
“But there was a child involved... I know,” he said as he held me, then kissed the top of my head. “I know... and I’m probably the last person who should be telling you about risky business...”
I chuckled. “What about you?”
He shook his head. “Jess– its not that I don’t want to tell you, but...”
“Its confidential,” I offered.
He nodded with a sigh. “Used to drive Therese crazy,” he told me.
I nodded. “I know– it’s hard, knowing that someone you love is in danger and not knowing what– and not being able to do anything about it...”
He nodded. “I hadn’t really thought about it that way– I just... thought it was that I was keeping secrets from her.”
I smiled and shook my head. “It’s usually ‘cause you know something’s tearing them up inside and you can’t get them to talk about it.”
He studied me for a minute, “does that bother you?”
I shook my head, “Not too much, remember– I’m a medic, we tend to have things we suppress because we figure people don’t really want to hear all the gory details, or they think the jokes are just a little on the sick side.”
He nodded, then chuckled. “You know– the Knight Errant did a check on your credit– if you’d taken the pay for the rescue– they’d have known and you would still be a suspect.”
He smiled. “Yeah– seems your show Friday got them thinking again, and digging a little deeper. They asked me about you, how we met– what you would and wouldn’t do.”
“Yeah, but you’re prejudiced...” I quipped.
He shook his head. “No my dear, I am a trained observer– I don’t let my personal feelings distract me for the world around me.”
“Oh really?” I asked. It sounded like a challenge to me. I spent the next few hours disputing his theory.
Today was busy, but at least the calls were spaced and I had time to ride in with a few calls– following the ambulance on the bike. I even had time to restock and actually meet my new cohorts.
The guys from Knight Errant were back, but there was something different in their bearing– they believed me. Its amazing how much of a difference things make when you aren’t on the defensive.
One of them asked me if they could hypnotize me– try and make me remember things that would only be available on the subconscious level. The only problem is– I have a lot of stuff running around there that I don’t want to see, let alone anybody else.
This time, they understood my hesitation. “You will remain in control,” the first one promised. “We’re just going to try and get you to relax, and show us what you saw... like reviewing a film and changing the focus...”
I took a deep breath and nodded.
They dimmed the lights and had me lay down on the couch while they talked me through the events, letting me lead them through what happened, and then they redirected my focus, having me look at things that I didn’t really notice because I was busy trying to save someone.
The first focus was the car in the driveway. I wasn’t able to do much more on it, but I could give them a partial plate. Then we went through it again. I could feel something in the back of my mind– something that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up but just as we were about to penetrate it, the alarm went off.
I was disoriented for a moment, then focused on the call.
“That’s me,” I told them apologetically
They nodded, but I couldn’t shake the ‘tip of my tongue’ feeling. It drove me crazy as I took the call, but once my mind was focused elsewhere it came to me– the man who’d opened the door– He looked like the man who’d cleared the table– but not quite. It was as if they were brothers, same general facial features, same mannerisms, but not the same person.
It was another three hours between the realization and my being able to share the information– work kept me hopping until then.
After the realization and the tension was about making sure I let them know, I was a bit let down when their reaction was simply. “We thought so, thank you Miss Miller.”
Now I have that to ponder. Sometimes I really wish people would give me the whole scoop on things. Ah well– then things would be boring I guess.
Another day of continuous calls and it wasn’t till mid day that I had the time to step back and realize that things were working out. My arm’s only aching occasionally and usually only after a very long day. I’m getting my edge back and I’m doing what I do best– fighting to keep people alive and ease their suffering.
I guess for me that is the ‘good fight’. There are too many people who are completely oblivious to the world around them– sometimes their more the problem than anything. And don’t even get me started on the ‘impartial reporters’ trying to get their story.
Guess I’m a little bit bitter right now. Tomorrow's the 8th anniversary of the night of rage. So many killed– because they were different. It just doesn’t make any sense– those who died, those who killed them and those who did nothing– humanity at its worst and at its best... There were those who risked everything to save one child from the nightmare– and so many who did nothing.
There were a few protests today and reports of people planning for larger demonstrations tomorrow. Even after eight years, there are still people who think it was a good idea– to kill and destroy anybody that wasn’t pure Homo sapiens stock.
There’s already been twenty some odd calls downtown where most of the trouble is expected. Here we only had one call. I don’t envy the guys down at the 97th or any of her sister stations. I’m beginning to wonder if it wouldn’t be a better idea for me to stay on call.
Tensions continue to grow down town– although I’m not sure how much of it is actual memory of what had happened and how much was media hype. Sometimes I swear the reporters and networks are more interested in making news than reporting it.
Case called around seven, asking me out after work tomorrow. I started to beg off– there was still the simulator session and with everything going on downtown I really didn’t think it would be a good idea.
He scolded me. “Jess,” he told me in a low voice. “Its your birthday, and I would like to take you out.”
I chuckled and finally conceded– to be honest I’d almost forgotten about my birthday. There are too many other memories associated with the day. Maybe its time to make some new ones.
I guess we’ll see.
I called the guys at the 97th to see if things were as bad as the news was saying. The calls I was hearing, just didn’t match the reports of mass violence. According to them the protests had been very peaceful and non-confrontational. It was more of a memorial service than anything.
When violence did erupt it was the Humanis types that were the real problem. People remembering loved ones lost to senseless violence, forced to face the same violence that had taken their loved ones away. It was not a pretty sight.
There are times when I seriously worry about my fellow man. And when I say that I mean all humanity– metas and plain old traditional stock– lets face it, the parts I deal with are all the same.
Homo sapiens sapiens, homo sapiens nobilis, homo sapiens pumilionis, homo sapiens robustus, homo sapiens ingentis– The only part that really matters is the “Homo sapiens” that starts it all off. The third is just to make it easier for people to further identify and categorize the ‘breeds’ within humanity.
A hundred years ago the concern was race– where your ancestors came from– now instead of the color of your skin, people are freaking out over the shape of it. To me the only difference is the size of the stretcher you need– and how much med’s you’re going to need to pump through a person’s body.
Its late now. Actually its Thursday, but I don’t really care. Case took me to a wonderful restaurant and made a late evening toast. Our waiter seemed a bit put off by Case’s request for champagne. Then I noticed the man’s ears– Homo sapiens nobilis– an elf. He probably thought we were being insensitive... and maybe we were but... Case summed it all up with his toast.
“Here’s to you Jess... happy birthday. And to those who should be remembered this night... I wish you peace.”
“Amen,” I answered.
It was a very sweet moment, the candle light sparkling in his eyes. It was just one of those times where everything seems to stop and take a moment to think before moving on. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so peaceful.
But I should have known that the evening wasn’t over. It seems that Case and Mario had cooked up some sort of birthday surprise for me. And the surprise was definitely not what anybody had bargained for.
We got back to the condo to something that could only be described as the aftermath of a grade 'B' slasher/horror flick. An ichor-like liquid had been sprayed on the far wall. A largish form that had once been the creature of nightmares lay in the middle of the room. I stood there trying to take it all in as Tal turned and offered a rather droll ‘Surprise!’
It sort of snapped me out of staring mode. I looked around and quipped back, “love what you’ve done with the place.”
That earned a wry smile from him and from Ray. Mrs. Walker and Mario on the other hand had a definite ‘we need to talk’ expression. It seems that some sort of magical trap had been set– one that involved this day in particular.
I was in shock again. I couldn’t believe the probable source of the attack until Case put it into words.
“Aaron,” he gasped holding me protectively.
I looked up at him. “The dates... in the bathroom?”
He nodded sending cold shiver up my spine. That thing in the middle of the room had been intended for me.
“Shhh...” he urged.
It took quite a while to clean things up and triage my guests. But in the end– they’d saved my life. It had taken the combined strengths of Mario, Mrs. Walker, Jonathan and Tal to defeat this thing– I wouldn’t have stood a chance.
A pretty good birthday present– but one hell of a cleaning bill.