"Just here to tuck Mister Black in."
NYC - Mount Sinai Hospital
On the cutting edge of many medical technologies, Mount Sinai Hospital is often ranked as one of the nation's best hospitals. The medical school attached is one of the best in the world, meaning that even your med students know what they are doing. Chin up, then -- when you come in here badly mutilated after the latest terrible catastrophe in Times Square, you're in good hands.
Dinnertime has come and gone -- or something that passed for it, anyway. Jax has so far made do with a meal of potato chips and soda from the vending machine down the hall. He has a granola bar at hand now, half eaten. He's tucked, at the moment, into a chair by Ryan's bedside, still dressed from school in a pair of light grey slacks with a faintly silvery sheen to them, a sapphire-blue button down, a black eyepatch with a metallic blue dragonfly in it worn on his eye. His laptop is on a table nearby, but its screen currently gone dark. He has a sketchpad in his lap -- he's been kind of idly working on the drawing in it, Ryan in the elaborate butterfly couture he'd worn to the Met Gala, sweeping an exaggerated bow as someone -- the sketch as yet incomplete -- holds out an elegantly manicured hand for Ryan to kiss the back of.
Jax is currently busy shadowing the line of Ryan's jaw with a light dusting of beard. Talking, a quiet but steady chatter, as he works. "I think you woulda really liked Romania," he is saying lightly. "At first I was thinking am I just stereotypin' Romania thinking this is a real vampire-y aesthetic? With the black lace and the spooky mansion and alla it but then they went full on /bats/ and I don't think it's just me, I think they were leaning in to that image."
After a muffled knock at the door, Steve enters with two large paper cups of coffee. Sets one down on table within Jax's reach. "I hope that's enough sugar." He also didn't change after work, still dressed in cafe black from head to toe. Drains half of his own coffee in one impressive gulp before setting it down in favor of his own sketchbook. The drawing is in its early stages yet, but the outlined figure is still easily recognizable as Flicker -- standing ramrod straight, just beginning to turn to his right, though not in alarm, his half-sketched tentacle arm coiling anxiously. This last is clearly the part that's been giving Steve the most trouble, as he's re-drawn it several times already. He settles into the chair he had vacated earlier and sighs at the work in progress, reaching for his eraser yet again.
"Gosh, an' you should have seen Croatia, it was a hot mess but such an /earnest/ hot mess. Was really -- well, I'll show you later. Like these boys in weird gold with angel wings and this whole burning hell kind of..." Jax shakes his head, frowning down at his drawing. Looking up with a quick bright smile at Steve. "Once you stop being able to dissolve the sugar it's about enough," he answers lightly. "But I'll drink it any which way. Thanks!" He tucks his pencil behind his ear, reaching for the coffee instead. His eye drifts towards Steve's sketchbook, and he hums thoughtfully. A little ways away from him, a life-sized wooden artist manikin appears, posed roughly in the same upright almost-turning position as Steve's drawing. One of its wooden arms dissolves, reforms into Flicker's coiling tentacle prosthetic. Quietly, Jax takes another sip of his coffee, setting it aside to pick his pencil back up and return to his own drawing, though the figure remains in place, tentacle arm slowly uncoiling once and then recoiling.
"Welcome. Though it's a /bit/ hard to tell whether the sugar's dissolving with only those stirring sticks instead of spoons." Steve admits. "A bit hard to /stir/ properly, too. The bottom half might just be...coffee syrup." His face scrunches up slightly. Then goes slack with amazement at the appearance of the manikin. "Thank you," he says softly, his eyes unreadable as they track the tentacle's motion. After a moment's consideration and a few quick, careful strokes of the eraser, he puts his pencil to the paper again, glancing at the model's illusory tentacle prosthesis.
There's another knock at the door, and two nurses enter, one pushing a linen cart and the other carrying a plastic tray with a vial and syringe. Jax and Steve do not recognize them, but they are wearing the appropriate scrubs and badges. "Excuse us a couple of minutes, gents," says one of them, a mousy-haired man with a heavy New Jersey accent. "Just here to tuck Mister Black in."
"Guess he don't wear that arm quite so much." Jax's attention has turned back to his sketch, but he glances up again at the knock. "Evenin'," he says, quiet, with a nod to the two men who enter. He glances briefly to their badges, the vial, back to Ryan. "His medication changing?" He sounds almost hopeful. Setting his sketchpad aside, the pencil atop it, he picks up his half-finished granola again. "Do you think there's been any improvement?"
Steve nods, studying the manikin's arm. "I've ah, only seen it a couple of times. It's just...hard to capture how it /moves./" His head snaps up when the nurses arrive, and he lapses into an embarrassed smile. "Good evening." He does get up now, to move the little swiveling table with Jax's computer out of the nurses' way. Takes the opportunity to down the /rest/ of his coffee.
"Just the dosage, Sir," replies Jersey, filling nearly the entire syringe with a practiced hand and squirting its contents into the injection port on Ryan's IV. "It doesn't seem that way to me, Sir, but that's a better question for the docs."
"We've all got him in our prayers, though," says the other nurse -- larger, dark-skinned, Mid-Atlantic accent -- as he stoops to switch out the drainage bag from under the bed. He seems to make a point to disturb the linens on his cart as little as possible when removing the fresh drainage bag, even to the point of twitching the fabric back into place afterward.
"Oh," Jax's shoulders sink, his weight shifting back in the chair. "Aright, thanks, I -- well, we all appreciate --"
This cuts off abruptly. He sits up straight -- the illusory manikin suddenly vanishes. A shimmering translucent dome appears in the same moment, covering the nurses' cart. Ryan's IV starts giving off an alarm beep at roughly the same time -- Occluded – Patient Side, reads the warning on the pump. Softer, now, through his teeth: "What did you just give him?"
"Just his medication, I swear!" Jersey nurse backs away from Jax, casting a bewildered and frustrated look at the IV set. "What's going on here?" His eyes widen when they fix on the force field over the linen cart, and even further when Steve attacks his compatriot. It's at this point that he reaches back under his scrubs and withdraws a small handgun and levels it at Ryan, point blank.
The second nurse hastily sidesteps, placing the domed -- and thus, for the moment, quite immovable -- cart between himself and Steve.
Jax expels a breath, short and quick through his teeth. His fingers curl against the arm of his chair. He does not get up. There's a series of flashes of light that blossom and fade again, bright and soundless, around the room. The gun in the first nurse's hand comes apart, sliced into several partially-melted pieces. Likely some of his skin with it in the searing bursts of heat -- possibly a finger. Ryan's IV tubing falls away from him, cut off somewhere close to his arm, the tube left to dangle uselessly from the infusion pump ('Air in line', helpfully beeps the warning alarm, now.)
Between Steve and the second nurse the flashes are more sustained, an odd firework-burst of light spreading within the dome before dome and light both vanish. Where the cart once /stood/ it is now, also, collapsing into smoking pieces, the linens charred rags and and the items within it -- while still in places recognizable, melting gloves and broken syringes scattered among the severed chunks of what once were a pistol and a submachine gun -- shredded to broken and useless debris.
Nurse number one flinches, then cries out in pain when a chunk of his newly dissected gun falls onto his toe. When he looks down, though, and sees the wounds seared into his hand, he shrieks in horror.
Nurse number two is to distracted by the destruction of his weapons to even attempt to avoid Steve's attack this time. The punch catches him squarely in the jaw, his head snaps aside hard, blood spraying from his mouth, and he collapses in a heap beside the smoking debris.
Outside, the running steps that had begun with the first alarm grow louder and more rapid. The door flies open and in comes the impressively muscular frame of Nurse Daniels. "What's all this?" she demands, uncomprehending, though she doesn't let any of it stop her getting to Ryan's bedside to check his monitor and the severed IV line. Though she does a double-take now at the two men in scrubs. "And who the /fuck/ are these two?!"
Despite the chaos around him, Jax has taken out his phone to send a text. He looks up when Nurse Daniels runs in, wide eyed and knd of pale. He swallows hard -- when he speaks, though, his voice is calm and direct. "I don't know. They was hiding guns in their cart. They shot something into his port a moment ago but I don't know what was in it. I cut the line off to be safe, I ain't sure how much got into him proper. The syringe they used is still over there, I'm sure."
"I think they brought another /bomb,/ too," Steve adds, gesturing at the charred remains of the linen cart. "A small one, but who knows what else they might have on them." He skirts around nurse number two's sprawled out body and stands within easy reach of nurse number one, between him and the only exit. "You alright?" he asks Jax without fully turning to look at him.
Jax is looking back at his phone for a moment before putting it away. He squeezes his eye shut -- rubs hard at his temple. His brow furrows, and he looks toward the cart, as well. "What? Oh, that -- was me," he explains, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. "Once I noticed they had the guns, I just -- I didn't want to take no chances. They'd already shot who-knows-what into him and pulling out /another/ gun and I -- didn't want to waste any time on wondering what else they planned with all that. I'm sorry," he adds this to the /actual/ nurse, hand scuffing through his hair, "about the mess in here. I'd been hoping so bad we was just being paranoid keeping watch."
Nurse Daniels reaches and hits the emergency intercom call button on the wall beside Ryan's bed. "Jake, get the resident up to Ryan Black's room /right now/. Someone just tried to poison him." She picks up the vial from the tray the first "nurse" had brought in with him. "Label's ripped off," she practically spits out the words, then looks up at the assailant who's still conscious. "What the hell is this stuff?"
"Nurse" number one just turns and makes a beeline for the door, clutching his burned and slightly truncated hand to his side.
-- But then nearly as soon as he's started, comes up short. He's still clutching his hand to his side, but glaring, now, at the door. His teeth grind, slowly. "Pentobarbital," comes the grudging answer, from behind a clenched jaw.
Steve's head turns sharply to Jax. "Wha -- /you/ --" He looks down uncomprehendingly at the still-smouldering wreck of the cart, back at the fake nurse and the pieces of his gun just as he makes a run for it. He reaches grab the man by his scrubs and makes ready to knock him out with the other, but stops short when the man does so of his own accord.
"Pento.../barbital/..." Steve's eyes narrow, memory reaching back to a woman reading by the light of a guttering candle stub, her tired voice tinged with a soft Irish lilt. "That's a...sedative? Anticonvulsive. Lethal in large doses." A rush of fear as his eyes shoot back to Ryan's life signs, to the dangling severed IV tubing. To Jax. << /He/ did that? /How?/ What /can't/ he do? >> A chill runs through him. A somber warning from /another/ one-eyed man, grizzled, black, cynical. << 'There are mutants who can burn the whole world down, Cap.' >> "God help us," he whispers.