"He's a complicated man." (CW: addiction, substance abuse.)
<XS> Medical Lab - B1
Gleaming and sterile, the school's medical facility is all cool science in contrast to the mansion's old-world old-fashion. All stainless steel and antiseptic tinge, the room is filled with the quiet whir-click of the various implements that comprise its medical equipment -- all state-of the art. The hospital beds are curtained off for privacy when they have patients, and in one of the alcoves there is a small operating theatre visible. More heavy-duty equipment is visible in the lab in the back, where the securely locked cabinets keep sensitive equipment out of the reach of teenage fingers.
Matt sits on the edge of the exam table, dressed in light gray slacks and a white undershirt, his leaf green dress shirt lying over the back of a nearby chair along with the vest that matches his slacks. His hair is slightly mussed, and he looks pale and tired as he has not often of late. He and leans over so he see what is happening on the inside of his upper forearm, which is much hidden by the movement of a large, blue-gloved hand as it finishes deftly stitching up a ragged wound in the skin there.
"Thank you, Hank," he says with a faint smile. "I still don't think this is /entirely/ necessary..."
"It's not, /entirely/." Hank McCoy, clad in a white lab coat and black slacks tailored to suit his huge frame, carefully snips the suture. He dutifully disposes of the bio-hazardous remnants, dabs the area around the stitches with povidone-iodine, and dresses the wound with clean nonstick gauze. He does this all with slow, deliberate care, jostling the injured arm as little as possible. "But it will help the healing and minimize scarring. How does it feel now?" He strips off his oversized nitrile gloves, wincing as the grippy material catches on his fur.
"It feels like it's been pumped full of lidocaine and will hurt like hell again once that wears off." Matt flexes the arm gingerly, but does not wince.
Hank smiles, shakes his head and turns to the computer console on a swivelling arm nearby. "Very likely. The wound /is/ pretty jagged, and you really should have gotten it looked at last night. I'll write you a prescription for antibiotics and..." He types something in then stops, glancing sidelong at Matt. "/Usually/ I'd also offer pain medication..."
Matt arches one eyebrow delicately as he starts pulling on his shirt. "I own that I am both an unusual person and a connoisseur of pain, but...?"
"Oh, my stars..." Hank mutters, pulling off his glasses. "I probably shouldn't have said anything." He turns back to face his teammate, leaning against the edge of a table. "Charles told me -- in strict confidence, mind you -- to help you keep an eye out for signs of potential opioid abuse."
Matt's /other/ eyebrow raises, too. "As you would, I hope, for anyone to whom you prescribe such substances?" He winces as he has to compress the swollen wound to finish button up his shirt.
Hank's shoulders hunch slightly. "No, I meant -- it was when you came back to work after your last chemotherapy cycle, when they put you on codeine? Which..." He shakes his head. "I know that your pain management could have been better, that's a whole other conversation. But the Professor knew about your /history./"
Matt's expression doesn't actually change this time, and he says nothing. At all.
"It wasn't his place," Hank says, spreading his big blue hands imploringly. "I told him as much, but you know what he's like."
"I do." Matt's voice is cool and even.
"Look, I don't agree with what he did or how he did it, but I understand his anxiety." Hank straightens up. "His heart was in the right place."
"What did he tell you?" Matt turns away from Hank and pulls on his vest. "About my /history/?"
"I told him the risk of a relapse was low, but --"
"What," Matt cuts him off firmly, though his voice is still calm, "did he tell you?"
Hank's blue-tufted ears lie back against the sides of his head. "Just that you abused opioid pain medications and heroin as a teenager."
Matt presses his thumb and index finger into his eyes sockets. "And he was concerned that I might fall back into it. Because of cancer."
Hank nods, the motion small. "You've been clean for ten years, but exposure /is/ a risk factor for relapse. You were in a great deal of pain, and they weren't really prescribing you /nearly/ enough for it."
"They weren't," Matt agrees softly, but there's a slight jerkiness to the motion of the hands buttoning his vest that probably cannot be attributed to pain alone. "And rather than encouraging you to...I don't know, /help/ with that in some way, he warned you to--what? Look for track marks?"
"It's not that simple, and you know it." For all the frustration in those words, Hank does not sound angry. "It would have been irresponsible to interfere with your treatment without input from your team, and they wouldn't have appreciated the unsolicited advice, even if it /didn't/ come from the likes of me."
Matt heaves a quiet sigh and nods his reluctant assent. "I'm sorry. It's not your fault."
"No, you are well within your rights to be angry." Hank plucks at the pocket of his lab coat. "It was a violation of your privacy and worse, but it wasn't /just/ you he was worried about. The students..." The doctor trails off, turning one hand over, palm up, suggesting that the conclusion to the sentence should be self-evident.
"Mmm." Matt nods, lightly touching fingertips to his forearm where clothing now conceals the stitched dressed wound. "I suppose it would not do for the students to know that one can struggle with addiction and survive, even thrive. That they could approach at least some of their instructors about the subject and receive support rather than punishment. Because our image--and their parents'--of their /purity/ is certainly more important than their emotional and physical needs. More important than their lives, even."
"/Matt/." Hank looks faintly horrified. "You know I wouldn't -- if a student came to me about substance abuse, they would be my patient first, and everything else after. "
"And what about /him/?" Matt's tone is remarkably mild, here.
Hank looks up, as though he might see through the ceiling to find Charles Xavier elsewhere in the building. "He's a complicated man. You...don't know him as I do." He goes back to his console and finishes typing. The printer beside it starts running.
Matt is quiet for a moment. "I don't," he agrees. "That's probably for the best."
Hank's expression shifts rapidly through chagrin and amusement, finally settling on something like resignation. "I can't disagree." He takes two pieces of paper from the printer tray and hands them to Matt. "Please prove him wrong."