the state of my life
But we are still human, with human hearts.
‘Hurry! Get these two back to th’ Forrester now an’ tell 'em to prep two OR right away!’
‘Pulse is dropping! 100, 93, 70–’
‘–Christ! It cannae ever be easy, can it?!’
He didn’t remember much aside from a few scattered phrases; mostly just a blur of shouts and yelling of his name, her name, muffled against the constant, overwhelming pain. And that fear…
‘Oh…y-your eyes, th-they’re, so…green…’
“Sio…!” All senses awake at once, though perhaps not the best idea; the light was too bright and the beeping too harsh, too constant and noisy. That dry, sterile air they always filtered and circulated throughout the medical bay suddenly burning his lungs, choking him.
Was he even alive…?
“Shite mate, y’nearly scared the crap outta me…again.” He strained to turn his head because it was so heavy and he was so weak, but he recognized that voice–
“…Niall…” For some reason he didn’t call him ‘Hunter’, as they always had; maybe it was because he was still too tired to think clearly from all the drugs and painkillers they’d put into him.
Or maybe it was because right now, he didn’t want anything to do with their e-genes. Not Jack the Ripper or Florence Nightingale…in the end, not even their combined strength was enough to save her.
“Goddamn Muirhead, I gotta say, I’ve nivver met any moron quite as stubborn’s you.” Scratching his head, the Scotsman adjusted the many I.V. lines that were all going through him. “Nearly lost ye on th’ way back…”
The other man pulled up a chair and sat down. “…Yur heart stopped; managed t’ revive ye, but still, fuck–be lyin’ ’f I said I wasna seriously scared.” Sighing, the anatomist ran both hands across his face, and suddenly Adam noticed the dark rings that lined the bottom of both his eyes. “Ye really pushed yurself too far mate…much farther than I’d ivver want t’ see…”
He should probably apologize; to say that he was sorry he’d put Niall and everyone else through all that, but it was all for her–
–suddenly he bolted upright and instantly regretted it. “Ugh–fuck, S-Sio, where’s she? And the baby–Mahesh, Jess–”
“Oy oy, take it easy Adam…by all rights, ye should still be out; one at a time, yeh?” Moving a couple of the lines out of the way, he helped the man into a more upright position. “Yur platoon’s fine; those two were pretty badly hurt ’s well, but they’re outta the woods, should be back on their feet by th’ end o’ th’ week. As fer ye new one…” He trailed off and was seemingly giving some sort of invisible signal to someone else–and he must’ve been, for the next thing he knew, a tiny blur of brown hair came streaking through the doorway–
“Tou-san!!” A running jump that was caught by a surprisingly quick Niall before the boy could unintentionally wound the man any further, slowly set down by the bedside. “Tou-san tou-san, daijoubu desu ka?" Bright, shining green eyes just like his, only wider and much more innocent than his had ever been.
As terrible as the situation had been, there was nothing like seeing the eager face of his son to make everything a little brighter, a little less painful—even if only temporarily. “Hey squirt…god, it’s so good to see you…”
With some help, the toddler climbed onto the bed, being careful not to get tangled in the many tubes and needles while giving his father the biggest hug he could manage. “Hunter-san says you and Mummy’re sick.”
Uh, well, that was one way to put it. He cast a sideways glance at the taller man, who could only give him a shrug that said ‘well what was I supposed to say?’
“Er, yeh, but don’t worry, we’ll be fine…” Though, he could’ve sworn that the anatomist flinched just ever so slightly…
“Galiko-nee-chan brought a dolly! She says it’s imouto-chan.” Scattered phrases of Japanese and English, the boy having picked up literally one word of each language he’d been hearing ever since he was old enough to start making words.
“A dolly…?” Surely he meant his new sister, but a doll…
“Ah, well, it’s just she’s so tiny, he thought she was a stuffed doll at first~su.” Out of the corner pink pigtails peered in, holding a small bundle of white blankets. “She’s surprisingly spirited…if it weren’t for her size, you would’ve never known she was born so early~su.”
Oh… There were very few times in his life so far that Adam had been rendered entirely speechless; once when he was asking for Sio’s hand in marriage, once when their first child was born, and now, once more at the arrival of their second. It had all been a blur on the battlefield when it happened–shouts and screams all mixing in with the shrieks over the radio chatter, before he could fight his way back only to have his heart break…
A tiny little girl, with pure, snow-white hair and the deepest of maroon eyes; born via a messy, emergency c-section in the middle of a raging war…she was nothing short of a miracle indeed. Arms still trembling, though from weakness or nerves, he didn’t know–only knew that this baby somehow instinctively already recognized who he was, peering at him curiously and attempting to grab his own silvery strands.
“Waaa, dolly imouto-chan!” The boy held out his hands expectantly, as if waiting for a turn to hold her, as well. “I’m careful, promise.”
“Alright…just, slowly…” She was transferred over to her brother, who immediately began cooing and making nonsensical babble with her.
“He’s taken to her very quickly~su; he told me he would take care of her all by himself while you two were recovering~su.” No longer the gopher of the Special Squad anymore, although they still called her Galiko on occasion and somehow she ended up with babysitting duty more than any of the other holders. “You’re so lucky, Adam…”
Lucky, huh? Somehow he wasn’t so sure about that… “We’ll see ’bout that. What about Sio–is she…” The last thing he remembered was Niall telling him that she could be saved, if they got her back fast enough…only question was, had it been enough? Surely, what with the way they were acting…she couldn’t be, couldn’t, be…
Neither member of the Special Squad looked at him in the eye, and he could feel the adrenaline flooding his system, sending the machines into a bit of a frenzy as his vitals started rapidly climbing. “She isn’t…I–”
“–Let’s give your father some rest now, okay~su?” Before the panic kicked in full force she was already leading them out, the boy still insisting on carrying his baby sister.
“I–okay first off, she’s not dead; I swear, she’s ver’ much alive Adam, so please dinnae kill me–it’s just–shite, it’s complicated…” And the man, the one who’d come all the way out of his lab and made it through that cesarean section and then kept the two of them alive all the way back, looked as close to breaking down in total despair as Adam had ever seen him come to.
“Just…tell me, please…” His own voice was shaking now, because what could he possibly mean by ‘complicated’? She wasn’t dead, but then what? In a coma? Gravely crippled? He steeled himself for any and all possibilities, each one worse than the last…
“I, guess ye could call it a coma…but ’s not one in the, usual sense…I-I, I mean, Jesus fuckin’ Christ…” A sardonic chuckle, as if simultaneously blessing and cursing the gods, “th’ injuries she’s sustained…we’ve managed t’ stabilize her, but fuck, those Objects must’ve evolved again since th’ last time we fought ’em–we cannae figure out a way t’…wake her up without the risk o’ makin’ it…permanent…”
As if he hadn’t experienced enough anxiety during the battle, watching her slip into that darkness through a haze of blood… “What’re you saying…th-that, you don’t know when she’ll wake up…?” Once again the feeling of uselessness, those powers that were said to be among the most powerful in all of DOGOO?
Worthless. Trash. In the end, he was still just nothing. Shaking, he fought the violent urge to punch something, to simply destroy–but that would probably just result in another lecture about controlling his temper and a prolonged hospital stay.
“It’s–I–gods, I dinnae even know meself…all’s I know fer sure is, even though she’s in a coma, and stable…we cannae leave her like that; eventually, what’ver’s in those wounds from th’ newer Objects…it’ll kill her. An’ if we attempt to force her awake ourselves...”
“So…you’re sayin’ she’ll…die…eventually…” That taboo word, bitter upon his tongue but he had to say it, to confirm for his own self instead of giving in to his wild delusions.
“…Yeh…but, Vidocq an’ Command called in an emergency meeting; now, please know tha’ what I’m ’bout t’ say is all speculative; even that douchebag dinnae ken fer certain if it’ll work, but I mean hell, ’s something–”
“–What is.” If Vidocq and the Commander were involved…it usually meant that it wasn’t something he was going to like or approve of.
“…Th’ alien, Dogoo? It actually came up wit’ a feasible solution…that stasis tube or, pod, what'ver th’ hell it is, apparently it has regenerative capabilities–certainly, far beyond what technologies we’ve currently got; an’ we know it’s suitable for human usage, as the Commander and Saint-Germain can attest to…”
“…but…” There was a catch; always had to be a catch, because after all these years, he’d learned that nothing was ever so simple as they said it to be. “There’s somethin’ else, isn’t there? Otherwise you would’ve already just put her in, ’stead of tellin’ me all this…”
A pause. Silence as the other man struggled to voice what Adam already knew would be inevitable…a loss that was coming, even though he didn’t know the details he knew the outcome, in some vague, incomplete way.
“Th’ technology…may work on humans, but in the end, it’s still alien tech; sure, we can put her in, and it should theoretically restore her to full health.” Here the surgeon could only heave a sigh, eyes closed as he leaned back into the plastic chair, all energy gone. “But it turns out, fer humans, it’s closer to somethin’ like hibernation equipment, rather than a panacea; th’ healing tech is more t’ keep the occupant in a mode of stasis, rather than allowin’ them t’ remain conscious like that Dogoo–”
“–just get to th’ bloody point, Niall.” He was tired of stalling, tired of this anxiety…whatever it was, he just had to know–
“–if we put her in, then tha’s it; you’ll nivver see her again. She’ll remain in stasis for possibly the rest o’ your life–hell, even yur kids’…”
“What the…but th’ Commander, she, she woke up again, so we know it’s possible–!” Fear, that all-consuming panic that he’d come to despise because it happened so much more than it should; but if only because he now had so many important people to him…and her, the most important of all…
The look on the other’s face could only be described as pure sorrow. “Yeh…but, remember, th’ Commander woke up in cycles of centuries…least we figure, the minimum cycle, fer humans is prolly at least one century…give or take a few years…”
One hundred years. It felt like his heart was being crushed; such a heavy weight, the burden of absolute despair. He hadn’t even realized he was having trouble breathing until the machines beeped noisily and he remembered how his body worked in order to live. Sure, technology was improving all the time, and a hundred years wasn't impossible–
–that is, if he wasn’t killed first.
“S-So, then what…what am I supposed to do?”
“Well…tha’s the only plan we’ve managed t’ come up wit’. They’re sayin’ it might be possible to reverse-engineer some o’ the workin’s, so tha’ we can reduce the cycle down from a century, but ’s all just theorizing at this point–”
“–but there’s a possibility.” Hell, just hope and a fighting chance…it was all he could ask for at this point.
“…Yeh. There is.”
“…We don’t have much of a choice, do we…”
“…They’re waitin’ on yur permission…technically speakin’, yur her husband, so legally any and all decisions hafta get yur say-so…”
Legalities, formalities…he didn’t give a shit about any of that right now. This wasn’t something as simple as asking for permission to go ahead on a potentially risky operation–this was her life–their life–
–and still they dared to try and reduce it down to just another mission?
“–O-Oy, what’re think yur doin’–ye can’t get up–!”
Ignoring the pain, he ripped out all the tubes and whatnot that they had inserted into him, despite the anatomist’s cries of dismay; this wasn’t just a response they could expect him to send via a messenger or report–no, he had to see her, to know for himself–
“–Adam! Goddammit man, I–tha’s it, I give up; I completely, absolutely, fuckin’ give up on tellin’ ye wha’ t’ do. But I’ll be damned if ye think yur goin’ by yurself.” Grabbing the jacket, he tossed it over the other’s shoulders and shut off the emergency warnings, lest the nurses came running in a panic. “C’mon, they’re in the main hall.”
To let her stay in a coma and eventually die…or else to condemn her to a sleep, whereupon she would wake up and find everyone gone…
This wasn’t trying to chose between a rock and a hard place.
To him, they might as well have been the same level of hell.