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Persona Non Grata - Part Ten

Part Ten - The Doctors' Lounge

Thea McGee woke up on a stretcher--a doctor she didn't know training a penlight into her eye.

"Did I get shot?" she asked, sounding pitiful to herself.

The doctor chuckled.


"No, you fainted."

Thea decided that he'd taken Condescension 101 in medical school. She'd worked for a couple of his classmates before.

She glanced around. She was in the damn laundry room, no doubt because every other available space was being used to treat the life-threatening injuries. The room had been converting to a sort of holding room. There were three other gurneys in there. Thankfully none were occupied. That was probably a good sign.

Where was Colleen? Probably working again. Colleen wouldn't have time to sit there and hold her hand.

This sucked, but it sure beat having a gunshot wound.


Millard's accusation against Ezra hung heavily in the doctors' lounge--an accusation that implicated JD as well.

This time, Chris did not restrain Buck. They both jumped up to confront Millard, but Ezra had beat them to it. The gambler had grabbed the ATF superior and slammed him into the wall. Ezra was screaming at Millard, their faces only inches apart. Chris thought fleetingly that they looked like a ball player and umpire going at it during a playoff game.

"Stand down, Standish!" Millard commanded, but Ezra continued his tirade. Millard addressed Chris. "Call off your man, Larabee."

Chris kept his lips pressed together and remained silent.

"Sir," Ezra tried to regain his composure. He lowered his voice a bit. "You may accuse me of whatever you like--however implausible it may be. But you will *NOT* slander JD Dunne. He was tortured and drugged and God knows what else because *YOU* wouldn't even acknowledge that he was working on a case for you." "He wasn't," Millard said, mildly. "This had nothing to do with ATF business. We've known about Dunne's troubles for some time now."

"LIAR!" Buck roared.

Millard didn't even acknowledge Buck's presence. "We've been investigating him since last March. And there was no way we were going to let a renegade kid jeopardize the good name of the ATF."

This was absolute bullsh*t. Chris jerked Ezra back out of the way . . .

And drove his fist into Millard's face.

Chris didn't know who was pulling him off of Millard. He'd deal with them later. Right now, he had to stop this man.

But a hard voice cut through the din in the room.

"Do you want to know about Agent Dunne or not?"

Chris reluctantly turned away from Millard. Dr. Lansing was standing squarely in the door frame watching the melee.

"How is he?" Buck asked.

Dr. Lansing waited until the men in the room settled down. Chris crossed his arms across his chest and listened.

"We won't know for 48 hours at least," the doctor said. "His heart has stopped three times. We can't know whether or not it'll happen again. We're just now figuring out what kind of poison was in his system."

Poison, Chris noted.

"The caustic agent is inhibiting our progress right now."

"How so?" Ezra asked.

"We need to take care of his internal injuries, but we can't use any anesthesia right now."

Vin echoed. "Internal injuries?"

Dr. Lansing frowned. "Someone beat him severely. He's got some internal bleeding. We know that. We don't know what kind of injuries there may be to his internal organs."

Buck's voice was quaking. "Is there any . . . brain damage?"

Chris wished he could say something to make this easier for Buck, but what could he say?

The doctor shook his head. "We won't know until he regains consciousness."

"And his hand?" Buck asked.

"He'll lose it."

There was absolute silence in the little room. Millard had the good sense to keep his g**d**n mouth shut. Chris had to give him that.

Buck walked away. Chris let him be. No one could do anything.

"What about drugs?" Millard asked.


Vin spoke up. "I saw them shoot him up with a hypodermic."

"They did. Again, we're just about to get another report." Lansing squeezed his eyes closed. "Gentlemen, whoever did this wanted to kill him, but they also wanted to be sure he suffered."

When the doctor opened his eyes, they were red. Tired? Probably not just tired.

Dr. Lansing continued. "I have never seen anyone injured this . . . severely . . . who lived. It doesn't look good."

"F***!!!" Buck cried from the back of the room, and his fist would have gone through the wall if he hadn't hit a stud. "F***!!!" he repeated. Vin started to go to him, but Josiah shook his head, no. It was Dr. Lansing who walked over to him. The doctor lifted Buck's wrist gently and looked at his hand. Lansing frowned again.

"You broke it," the doctor reported, emotionless. "We have more than enough to handle without this kind of shit." Lansing led him toward the door. When he reached it, he turned back to the rest of the men. "Agent Jackson is going to be all right. He's lost a lot of blood, but the bullet missed the bone. He'll walk. He'll live. I just wish I could say the same for Agent Dunne." He sighed heavily. "I'll tell you something more as soon as I know. Try not to kill each other before I get back."

Millard called after him. "I need for you to do a drug test on Agent Standish."

To his credit, the doctor looked at Millard as though the ATF agent had bugs crawling out of his ears.

"You can't be suggesting that in this bullet-riddled ER, with casualties on all sides, I take up personnel and lab time to run some piddly-assed drug test on an ATF agent."

Lansing let the door slam behind him.


This had to be a nightmare. Bad enough she'd been in a war zone, now she had to be patronized by this jerk doctor. Thea kept her eyes closed as the man patted her hand.

"You'll be all right," the doctor said, then he chuckled yet again. ". . . as soon as you learn to tolerate the sight of blood." The doctor left the makeshift triage room.

"F*** you," Thea muttered as she heard him walk away. She couldn't decide if she was actually glad the man didn't hear her.

"That's what I say."

Another male voice.

Thea's eyes shot open and she looked at the new presence in the room.

A tall, moustached man was lying back on the stretcher across from her. He was cradling one hand against his chest.

She'd seen him before. He had been in the room with the young ATF agent.

"What happened to you?" she asked.

"Drove my fist into a wall stud."

Oh, Thea wished she had been able to stifle the quick chuckle that bubbled from her throat. Looking at the man's face, she regretted it immediately. "Sorry," she said.

The big man didn't smile, but he did talk. "It's all right. I just feel so helpless. My . . . my partner is dying . . . "

Thea sat up on her elbow. "The black-headed agent?"

The man nodded.

"I was in there with him," Thea said, and suddenly it seemed very important to help. "I know it looks bad. . ." she began. " . . . but that young man wants to live. He's fighting to live."

The man's blue eyes filled as he listened.

"He should have died hours ago, but he didn't. It's like . . . " Thea needed to find just the right phrase. "It's like he won't let go. He's holding on. And that could very well be what saves his life."

"God, I hope so."

Thea watched the man. After a quiet moment, she sat up slowly. Her head was clear again. She didn't feel clammy like she had a few minutes before. It took a second for her to trust her legs, but once she felt like she could be steady on her feet, she stood up and walked over to the stretcher where the big man lay.p> Wordlessly, she lifted his injured arm. She examined his wrist, and then his hand. It was surely broken.

"I'm afraid you're gonna be pretty far down the triage totem pole. It could be a couple of hours before a doctor can get to you." Thea looked up into the man's eyes. There was pain there, but she supposed it wasn't because of his hand. In an impulsive move, she reached up and lay her hand against his cheek, and for the first time, she saw him smile.

He was beautiful.

"I'll help you," she decided, and she left the little room.


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