Chapter 12: The Morning After – part 2
The mutation DiPhillipo had discovered was fascinating enough to hold Shane’s headache at bay. “Huh,” he said again, gazing at the grainy image on the monitor.
The abstract-looking pastels blurred and refocused as DiPhillipo adjusted the microscope stage. His head assistant returned his attention to the monitor. “Here as well.”
“Huh,” Shane repeated as his mind conjured explanations. “Hypotheses?”
“At the moment I’m leaning toward—”
Shane sensed Jake’s presence an instant before the boy’s hand clapped his shoulder. “Hey Dad, Dr. DiPhillipo.” His son’s dark eyes tracked to the monitor. “Is that a septanucleotide repeat?”
Annoyance flickered across Shane’s and DiPhillipo’s faces. “Yes,” they said in unison.
“Cool,” Jake said. Then he gave Shane and DiPhillipo a chagrined smile. “I’m interrupting.”
Shane felt how not penitent the brat was. “You are. Wait for me in my office.”
“Okay.” He gave DiPhillipo a parting grin, then strode away. You’ve got five minutes to get to Dr. Frasier before I have to send for a stretcher. Or did you not notice the headache?
Thanks to his son’s interruption Shane’s head was back to throbbing. I’m well aware, son. He returned his attention to the monitor, but couldn’t get his brain to focus on the discovery. Congratulations. You’ve earned yourself a week of housekeeping chores for your tone.
Shane ignored Jake’s protest. To DiPhillipo he said, “Good work. Let me know what else you come up with.”
Although Shane was loathe to admit it, his son was right. He had to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other to cover the short distance to his office, where Jake lounged on the leather couch. As he dropped into the soft cushions, the door swung shut. “Thanks,” he mumbled as he kneaded his temples.
“You’re welcome,” Jake replied genuinely. Then Shane felt the cool energy of his son’s prism. The pain lancing through his head halved. “Better?”
Shane opened his eyes and looked up at his son. The strength and steadiness of Jake’s connection with the crystal filled Shane with pride. “Much. Thank you.”
The silver prism in Jake’s hand dimmed and silenced. “Please go to the infirmary,” Jake said, pocketing the crystal. “Lynn’s trying to get Mom there, too.”
“Right,” Shane agreed, getting to his feet. Jake grinned from ear to ear.
The pair exited Shane’s office. “I’ll be back in an hour,” he told DiPhillipo. The portly man nodded. To Jake he said, Three days.
Shane strode into the hall with Jake at his side. Of housekeeping chores.
Gee, thanks. The love in Jake’s thought negated his sarcasm. Shane smiled at his son and ruffled his hair.
Almost there, Dad. It’s the double doors on the right.
Shane grunted acknowledgment. Although sweat beaded on his brow and his vision had blurred, he’d managed the seeming miles to the infirmary unassisted. Through the damned bracelets he felt that Addison was as sick as he was.
Gentle pressure pushed him to the right. Telekinesis, Shane thought muzzily. He hadn’t felt his son’s cool energy from the touch. Praying that the infirmary doors were opened, he changed direction accordingly.
“Dr. Myers!” a male voice exclaimed. Hands steadied him, including Jake’s.
With his son there to watch his back, Shane let the nurse half drag him to the nearest bed. He sunk into the pillow, grateful to be off of his feet. On instinct he reached mentally for Addison. She was far away, then suddenly closer. “Love y—”
Shane’s mouth snapped shut before he’d finished speaking. “He’s delirious,” Jake stated. “Get Dr. Frasier.” Footsteps hurried away. Don’t talk, Dad. You’ll give everything away!
Some of the fog cleared from Shane’s mind. “You’re—” You’re right. Smart boy.
“Lucky for you,” Jake muttered.
Frasier’s irate voice carried from the far side of the infirmary. “Were you sleeping through the briefing, Kochanski? Bring him over here!”
Shane’s headache had waned enough for him to open his eyes again. A male nurse – presumably Kochanski – hurried toward him pushing a wheelchair. “I’ll walk,” Shane informed him.
Shane scowled at his son. “I’ll. Walk.” Unfortunately just swinging his legs over the side of the bed made him dizzy. If he wanted to see Addison immediately he’d need assistance. “Help me,” he told Jake, reaching for the boy. Jake dutifully moved closer and pulled Shane’s arm around his narrow shoulders.
Kochanski moved to Shane’s other side. A glare stopped the man in his tracks. “Not you.” The nurse gulped, then retreated in the opposite direction.
Jake’s amusement rippled through Shane. “Stubborn much?”
“Quiet, you.” The reprimand was half-hearted at best.
With Jake’s help Shane trudged to the private rooms on the other side of the infirmary. Now that he and Addison were within the bracelets’ minimum distance Shane felt better with each passing second.
As they approached the room where he sensed Addison, Jake nudged Shane’s side. Don’t forget. You hate each other.
Shane, who hadn’t realized he’d been smiling, sighed. Right. He embraced his emotionless alien side as he and Jake stepped through the doorway.
Frasier stood near Lynn and Addison, who sat on the edge of the bed closest to the door. Ashlynn held her mother’s hand. Although all three looked up at once, Shane only saw Addison. Despite her strangely conservative outfit, she looked good enough to eat. The void shuddered.
Dad! A wave of his son’s energy washed over Shane. The void held.
Addison, however, had no such luxury. She’d moved a few steps toward Shane before stopping short. Her smile morphed into a scowl as she crossed her arms under her breasts. “Myers. Have you found a way to get these sodding bracelets off yet?”
Without his emotions sabotaging him, Shane was able to make his voice and expression disdainful. “Not yet. These things take time, dear.” The pet name dripped sarcasm. “Nice outfit. Applying for the nunnery again?”
Addison’s happiness at seeing Shane was damped by her daughter’s reminder to rein in her emotions. Shane did a good job of it, of course. If not for the bleeding bracelets Addison wouldn’t have sensed her lover as more than a cool emptiness.
His quip made her bristle with indignation. Addison gave herself a metaphorical slap, reminding herself of the parts they had to play. She shot back, “Certainly nice to see that these things aren’t affecting the status quo. You still have all the maturity of a five year-old.” Thanks to years of practice the words rolled off her tongue, although all she wanted to do was throw her arms around him and pull him close, skin against skin, bodies moving together–
Addison turned away from Shane, sure that everyone in the infirmary could hear her pounding heart. Donning her best poker face, she looked at Dr. Frasier. “I feel better. Might I go now?”
Frasier shook her head. “You both need thorough examinations seeing how neither of you reported here this morning. Then you’ll spend an hour here–”
“No,” Addison and Shane protested. An hour together would be heavenly, but not in the infirmary.
The doctor rolled her eyes. “You can have separate corners if necessary. But the testing of the original bracelets showed that subjects suffering withdrawal at the level you two inflicted on yourselves require at least one hour of contact.” Frasier looked from Addison to Shane, her voice firm. “If you’re going to behave like children, I’m going to treat you like children. Now touch each other, please.”
“Physical contact is necessary to fully counteract the debilitating effects. I assure you you won’t get cooties. So, please touch one another before I put a rope around your midsections and tie you together.”
Addison pointedly ignored the blush prompted by the doctor’s statement. “Fine. Whatever,” she sniffed. After triple-checking her mental shields, she reached across the space between her and Shane’s hospital beds. Scowling at Frasier, she said, “Just shut your gob and deal with it, Myers.” Then her hand slipped into his and the torture began.
Shane’s alien side was a curious thing. Once he’d accepted it and learned to control it he found it useful and often a welcome refuge. When, as a skinny ten year-old facing schoolyard bullies, the emotionless void first swallowed him whole, it was downright terrifying. Once he felt emotion again.
Now, holding Addison’s hand, it was definitely a refuge. The refuge had limits, though. Shane’s inhuman calm was only able to hold their affection and desire at bay for five minutes.
Thankfully Frasier and her staff had left the room. Only Jake, Lynn, and Addison saw Shane loose a shuddering breath and start perspiring. The latter was due to the effort required to control his libido. I won’t last another 55 minutes, he told Addison, Jake, and Lynn.
“Me, neither,” Addison moaned. Shane felt her eyes on him, as well as her body’s arousal. He deliberately looked away so he wouldn’t jump her.
The brats exchanged an amused look. You think we’ll be like this when we find our true loves? Lynn asked facetiously.
Jake made a face. God, I hope not. Grinning impishly he added, True lusts, maybe.
Jake, Shane warned. He didn’t want to think about his 12 year-old son screwing his classmates.
“Yes–” Addison cleared the huskiness from her voice. “That’s quite enough.”
The efficient clicking of Dr. Frasier’s heels approached. Shane racked his brain for a way to escape. The woman was too sharp to be fooled for long. “How’re we feeling?” she asked as she strode in with a clipboard in one hand.
“Fine,” Addison and Shane said simultaneously.
“Glad to see you’re not at each other’s throats yet,” she said, scanning the printouts on the clipboard.
There are other parts they’d like to–
Addison ended her daughter’s quip with a death glare.
Finally Shane came up with an excuse to get the hell out of the infirmary. “Dr. Frasier,” he said a bit too eagerly. She looked up and raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment otherwise. Shane continued in the most professional tone he could manage. “I need to get back to studying these bands. The necessary equipment is in my lab. I’ll take Harris with me for the remaining time.”
Addison’s swell of delight made it difficult to keep a straight face. Shane felt her concentration gather. Then she sniffed, “No consideration for what I’d like to do.”
Although a glare would have made the act more convincing, Shane didn’t dare look at her. “Do you want the bands off or not?”
“Of course I want the bleedin’–”
“Fine!” Frasier shouted over them. “Go. Please.” Shane struggled to keep the scowl on his face. His, Addison’s, and their children’s amusement made it an uphill battle.
Still not looking at him, Addison announced, “Right, then. But I’m not strolling through the facility holding hands with you.”
The familiar tingle of Addison’s energy rushed through Shane. As the infirmary faded to white he wondered where they were going. It sure as hell wouldn’t be the lab.