Title: Lab Coats
Rating: good for teens, be wary for younger kids.
Characters: Lucian’s perspective
Summary: Lucian meets the new scientist in charge of his case and finally gets some answers… as well as a few new questions.
Disclaimer. I own no one, not Fred and Wolfram and Hart, who unfortunately remain firmly in Mutant Enemy’s hands, and Underworld isn’t mine either, mores the pity.
Spoilers: Through AtS5:1; Underworld the movie, with a minor alteration at the end.
Notes: This is really the sequel to Impurity, but you don’t necessarily have to have read that one. This is Lucian’s perspective, whereas Impurity was Fred’s. To read Impurity, go here:Impurity
Dedication: For TaraKeezer and her unwavering support of my sometimes odd ventures.
He didn’t know how long he’d been there, that room with the too-white walls, filled with softly beeping machines, overseen through a glass wall by fleets of lab coated technicians … It could have been weeks, months or even years ... After all, he was immortal, more or less …
It was the “less” part that kept him awake. He should be dead — he had to be dead. The last thing he remembered was dying; he was certain of it … Yet here he was, trapped in a lassitude that sapped the very strength from his lungs, pondering how many ceiling tiles arched over his bed.
When he’d awoken the first time, he’d asked where he was.
Wolfram and Hart, the tech had said.
And then no one answered a single question after that.
Waking up at his lawyers was a bit startling, but no more so than the fact that it appeared they had a medical facility. He knew it was a medical facility from more than just the needle pricks and taciturn staff. He could smell it in the air — illness, decay, death from passive means. It turned his apparently intact stomach, the helplessness of his situation, knowing he was just one of maybe many in this place.
He was a fighter, a warrior for his cause. He’d handed out death and destruction, plotted downfalls for centuries. And now he was reduced to a statistic on the sheets of paper the staff carried around. Sheets of paper that dictated his fate, he supposed, filed away for nameless medics to comb through, seeking the tiniest details.
He did feel better, for which he was grateful. That first moment when light hit his eyes, he despaired of ever walking again, of being stuck in this uncomfortable bed until he simply vanished from boredom. Stripped of his usual attire, long hair cut and bound away from his face, he knew he looked a rather unimpressive sight. If not for the patchwork of tattoos covering his body, he would have looked positively unassuming until you saw his eyes. Pathetic as he now felt, though, he could sit up, and even wobble a bit to the padded chair in the corner under the watchful eyes of one of the miscellaneous utterly uninformative people that hovered over him.
People, though not all human. Some most definitely were, but others … he wasn’t sure he’d ever smelled things like them. They appeared human, much as he did, but there was an aura about them that called his Lycan form to the forefront, willing him to fight or run.
Right now, slow jogging was about his speed. Real demons were something he didn’t willingly engage. Not for a fear of his own ability to defend himself — no, it was a reluctance to tangle with their innate evil. They were different, other, wrong. He didn’t even have to encounter the Scourge or other ‘true’ demons to know that.
He’d seen what happened when the vampires he’d long ago guarded had come up against some of the demon-vampires, the devilish ones. It was a massacre, and while his vampires relished a good fight, there was nothing of the soulless insanity that characterized the fight with the demons. He’d stayed far away from them and their ilk in the future.
Until now of course. There were a few that watched him often, peering through the unbreakable glass with marked disinterest. Occasionally, though, they wandered in and looked him over, sniffing slightly. It was more than a little unnerving. Lucian hated to be unnerved.
The daily grind of tests and tonics began right on schedule. He snarled and grumbled, but weak as he was, all he could really do was grouse. With a pathetic sigh, he rolled over to face the glass again when something caught his eye.
There was a new face in the window, one that didn’t regard him like an insect. Long brown hair tumbled over slender shoulders clad in one of those universal coats. She tilted her head, scrunching up her nose and asked something over her shoulder. Apparently she didn’t like the answer and rolled her eyes. With a determined set to her shoulders, she opened a side door and walked into his cell.
She was awfully thin, long limbs mostly bare. She was wearing a ridiculous short denim skirt and frilly shirt that just barely peaked out the white lab coat. She moved quickly, sharply, like a bird in unfamiliar surroundings. She fidgeted her hands before grasping her clipboard tightly and offering him a weary, tentative smile. She smelled of soap and sunshine, with just a faint undercurrent of fear.
His beast reacted with hunger and he felt almost strong enough to shift. She must have seen the unholy blue shimmer in his eyes because she arched an eyebrow and coughed.
“None of that now. Doesn’t do to eat the people trying to put you back together.” She tilted her head as if trying to figure something out then thrust out her hand. “Hi. I’m Fred, er, Winifred Burkle. I’m in charge of your case… er, all the cases actually.”
He scrunched his eyebrows together and frowned at her extended hand. It didn’t make sense for someone who was afraid of him and what he was to offer a hand in peace. Leaning slightly forward off his pillows he took her dainty hand in his own. It was wiry and considerably stronger than he would have expected, with calloused areas that spoke of time in combat.
She met his gaze with more than a bit of humor, though the low level fear was still there. “It says here that no one’s talked with you about your situation. Seems they ran things differently before, er, now.”
The puzzled look was back as she flipped open his file. “Lucian, is there anything you’d like to know?”
His voice was gravelly from disuse and his throat felt scratchy. “Why am I here?”
“Oh, well, it seems that we’re treating you for some impurities in your blood, trying to clear them up so you can leave. I think the problem with the silver nitrate is solved, but it seems that the limited amount of vampire blood in your system is incompatible with the prior Lycan infection, despite the buffer blood.” She blinked and looked up. “Interesting. I really have to get a relevant text on microbiology or something. If we’re going to be dealing with diseases every other week, I’m gonna be so lost.”
“I meant why am I here at all? I should be dead.”
Chewing slightly on her pen cap, the young woman considered his question carefully. “I don’t rightly know. Everybody’s got different reasons to keep going. Angel said you’d been deadish before, maybe you’re still kicking for the same reasons. What kept you going then?”
“Revenge.” The answer was simple, elegant and had consumed his existence for centuries. It was really such an easy answer to give, though he couldn’t shake the faint echo of despair that always came with the memories of Sonja’s death.
Nodding, Fred agreed, “Oh, I get revenge. It’s a good motivator.”
He scoffed, “You. What do you, you tiny thing I wouldn’t even waste my time eating, what do you know of revenge?”
Regarding him with a cold ferocity he wouldn’t have thought possible from her, she spat out, “I get revenge. I spent five years planning how to get back to this world, and when I did I found out that my advisor, the man supposed to help me get on with my studies, not finagle me into a collar to make my head explode, sent me to that hellish place on purpose. I was lower than a slave, a cow to them, living on lichen tacos and scribbling on walls…” She took a deep breath. “So, yes, I get revenge. Sometimes it just needs doing.”
They glared at each other for a heartbeat or two before Lucian’s lips quirked up in a smirk. “So maybe you do.”
“Hmmf.” The smile was back, but she still shuffled the papers a bit apprehensively.
“So what are you afraid of?” He hadn’t meant to ask, but the question spilled forth before he could stop himself. It was so nice to have communication, real communication, again and he found himself reaching out more than he’d done in centuries. He didn’t know if it was a factor of his ‘rebirth’ or whether this study in contrasts had sparked something inside he hadn’t known existed.
Luckily, she didn’t seem offended, merely startled. “Um, what do you mean?”
“I can smell it, fear.”
She rolled her eyes. “You supernatural types and your senses. Well, I guess I’m afraid of all sorts of things. Apocalypses, tornadoes, a taco famine are the usuals, but if you’re asking about today?” She shrugged, glancing back over her shoulder. “Today I’m afraid my employees will be evil. I’m afraid that my secretary will eat me for lunch. I’m afraid that working in the belly of the beast is just going to get me digested.”
He blinked. Whatever he’d expected, it certainly wasn’t that. “Er—“
Fred waved a hand. “You’ve been out for a while. When you’re better, I’d be happy to explain how I helped end world peace. Until then, did you have any other questions?”
“How did I get here? Last I remember I was…” He trailed off.
“Oh, that. Well, your friends Selene and Michael—“
“They are not my friends,” he growled out, body stiff with surprise.
Fred shrugged. “Or not friends. Whatever. But they still dropped you off close to death. Said to fix you and gave us your account number. They must have found it in some of your papers. Anyway, they’ll be back to check on you.” She tapped her cheek with a thin finger. “Actually, I’d like to have some tests run on Michael when he’s here, since he’s the carrier for the hybrid infection now…”
Lucian struggled upright again. “Michael? It worked? Selene’s bite worked?”
Smiling a faint, wry grin, Fred nodded. “Sure did. I wasn’t here when you were, er, delivered, but he was apparently very alive.”
His dark eyes flickered with triumph. Granted, the triumph was not really in his body, but his theory had worked. Both sides would see a change, just as soon as he got out of here. He bared his teeth. “Now they will get what’s coming to them, all of them.”
Fred looked unimpressed and continued, “Yeah, well, that’s nice. Can you try to keep your war out of the office? Cause we’ve got enough problems what with killing our clients, nearly being killed by our clients, that sort of thing.”
Lucian couldn’t help it; he burst into laughter. This contradiction was fascinating. The tiny slip of a woman sitting across from him couldn’t possibly be in charge of anything, much less anything at Wolfram and Hart as she had alluded. It had been a long time since he’d been interested in anything other than his war and revenge for Sonja. Perhaps it was time he could start living again. After all, a whole new world was on the horizon.
A bit disconcerted, the scientist frowned. “I’m not sure, but it looks like you’ve only got about another week or two worth of blood therapy and you should be able to be released for outpatient care.” She looked up at the still smiling Lycan. “I’ve got to get back to work, but if you need anything, I told the nurses to contact me.” She stood, and with one last backwards glance, was back through the door.
Lucian looked at her retreating form, eyes glittering in the harsh light. He nodded to himself, mind already whirling with things to be done. And one of them, he decided, was to see that fascinating young Fred out of her lab coat.
~~~End Lab Coats~~~