"While I'm in here for testing, Major, you'll have to pick up my schedule," Sandoval said, as he walked over to the medical cart and picked up his global. He opened it and pulled up his itinerary. "Zo'or appears in San Francisco on Tuesday for an awards banquet..."
"Don't you have a spare pilot?" Kincaid asked, turning away and wandering over toward his chart.
Sandoval closed his global, glaring at the Major's back. "Believe me, I didn't choose you," he stated. "Zo'or needs a qualified Protector and if you'd read the service guidelines, you'd see that there's an order of succession." He tossed his global on the bed, irritated. Between the Major's brash nature and his Resistance ties, Kincaid was the last person he'd have chosen to fill in for him while he was here... but he had no choice. He couldn't exactly object without revealing certain things he'd long since decided to keep secret. "You're it." He leaned against the bed for a moment.
"What are they testing you for, if you don't mind my asking?" Kincaid asked curiously, peering at his chart.
Sandoval was getting more irritated by the moment. He walked over, interposing himself between Kincaid and the chart. "I do mind," he said curtly. "I'll be back on duty soon enough," he continued, as Kincaid turned away from him again. "Just don't get used to my perks. Do not improvise." He leaned against the bed again, feeling a bit dizzy, and started taking deep breaths. "It's my job; I want it done exactly the way I would do it. Daily reports. Any questions?"
"Yeah... you want flowers or balloons?" Kincaid asked sarcastically, before walking out the door and closing it firmly behind him.
Sandoval glared in the Major's direction for another moment or two before turning back to look at his chart. He didn't understand all the medical information on it, but...
Suddenly, his vision started to blur and he felt dizzy, unable to breathe. "Dr. Curzon!" he called out, as the dizziness forced him to sit down on the bed.
The door opened and Dr. Curzon hurried in. He reached for her. "My vision's blurry. I... I can't..." He started gasping for breath.
"Your blood pH needs constant re-balancing," Dr. Curzon said, as she injected him with something. He couldn't stop gasping. "Next time we might not get you back."
Slowly, he managed to regain control over his breathing.
"I'm going to give a device that will auto-inject you," she continued, "but even that's only a temporary stopgap."
Swallowing, Sandoval looked up at her. "You said there wasn't a cure. Is that still your opinion?"
Dr. Curzon looked down, not meeting his eyes for a moment, and then raised her head. "I know you well enough to know you want this straight. I've checked with the top hematologists and the consensus is... you're dying."
Sandoval stared at her for a moment in shock, and then recovered himself. "We're all dying, doctor," he said curtly, shifting position slightly on the bed.
Dr. Curzon sat down next to him. "Yes, but you don't have years or months," she said, her tone gentle. He stared at her. "You have weeks... maybe days." She shook her head slightly. "A year ago, if you'd died of this, no one would have even known why.
"But there is good news," she added. "We can repair the mutant chromosome, if we can get a quantity of undamaged hemologic factor."
"Excellent," Sandoval declared, starting to feel hopeful again. "Get it for me. Use national priority status... in fact, put me in front of the line."
"It's not a drug," Dr. Curzon said. "It's a new form of gene repair, using hybrid Taelon technology. You need blood from a first-degree relative: parent or child."
Sandoval froze. "My mother and father are both dead," he said quietly. He looked down, feeling sorrow lance through him. DeeDee... "And... I've never been a father."
"Well..." Dr. Curzon said softly, looking away from him. "Then I'm afraid I... I really can't offer you any hope." He was only distantly aware of her as she touched his arm gently, then stood up and walked out.
There has to be a way... I can't die, not like this...
Sandoval wasn't really paying all that much attention to what Major Kincaid was saying; he was only repeating what was in the report Sandoval had already skimmed through. Most of his attention was focused on the pictures he was studying; he smiled faintly as he looked at the picture of himself and DeeDee, remembering the party it had been taken at, and the laughing discussion they'd had later, about how much he hated posing for pictures.
"You wanna hear this?" Kincaid asked suddenly, the question penetrating Sandoval's preoccupation.
"I read your report," Sandoval said, as he slipped the pictures back into his wallet, not looking away from them. "Not very enlightening."
"Well, how can I report what I don't know?" Kincaid asked. "I don't have top-secret security clearance. It would be more efficient if you'd ask Zo'or to clear me."
Sandoval was distantly impressed at how even the Major's tone was. If he hadn't known better, he might have thought that Kincaid really was concerned about efficiency.
But all too soon, that wouldn't be any concern of his. He was dying - because he and DeeDee had never had a child.
They'd both wanted children, but DeeDee had never gotten pregnant, although they'd tried. And then the Taelons had come, and he'd been chosen as a Companion-Protector, and gotten implanted... and then DeeDee, and the children they'd wanted, had suddenly been unimportant.
Now it turned out that the Taelons hadn't only stolen his life - they'd destroyed it as well. And he was going to die, never having had the opportunity to revenge himself on them.
Suddenly realizing that Kincaid was waiting for a reply to his comment, Sandoval said quietly, "He'll have to start making his own security decisions. Or find someone else to do it." He glanced at Kincaid for a moment before returning his attention to the picture. "Maybe it'll be you." Though he doubted that. Kincaid's loyalty to Da'an was too obvious for Zo'or to trust him, even though the Taelon wasn't aware of the Major's other activities.
"I thought they were just doing tests," Kincaid said. "How long will you be out?"
Brushing his finger over DeeDee's image, Sandoval replied quietly, "It might take longer than anyone thinks. I'm sure you'll carry on." He carefully closed his wallet. He'd be joining DeeDee soon enough.
"I don't like the sound of that," Kincaid commented, as Sandoval put his wallet down on the medical cart..
Suddenly angry, Sandoval turned to glare at him. "Oh, spare me the false compassion, Major!" he snapped. Kincaid looked taken aback by his sudden vehemence, but Sandoval didn't care. There was no reason for Kincaid to pretend that he was concerned; Sandoval was well aware that the younger man disliked him intensely - and would probably be relieved to see him die, if only for the sake of what remained of the Resistance.
"The fact of the matter is," he continued bitterly, "the world doesn't give a damn no matter what happens to any of us!" Fury exploded in him; fury at the Taelons, at Kincaid... at himself, for allowing the Taelons to ruin his life. Needing to give the rage an outlet, he turned and swept everything off the top of the medical cart.
Calmer, now that he'd released some of the anger that had been building in him since Dr. Curzon had given him the diagnosis, he leaned on the cart for a moment before bending down to pick up his wallet.
Kincaid hadn't said a word in response to his outburst; he probably was too shocked at the show of emotion.
Opening his wallet, he stared at the picture of himself and DeeDee again. Then, without really considering what he was doing, he asked, "Do you carry photographs in your wallet, Major?"
Kincaid's voice sounded strangely tight as he replied, "Only my ID. Why?"
Stroking his finger over DeeDee's image, Sandoval paused for a moment, a bit surprised to find himself saying this to Kincaid, of all people. "Evidence," he replied.
The question was surprisingly gentle - but that seemed strangely in keeping with the tone of this whole conversation.
"That you were here," Sandoval replied. The pictures of his parents and DeeDee were the only proof he had of that; a child would have been more - much more - but he'd been robbed of the chance for that.
There was a long pause, and then Kincaid started, "Sandoval..."
Sandoval managed to get himself under control, more than a bit surprised - and irritated - that he'd let himself go like that in front of Kincaid. He closed his wallet and looked up. "That will be all, Major," he said curtly, forcing his expression back into its normal impassive mask.
Kincaid looked as though he wanted to say something, and then hesitated. "I'll keep you updated on the results of the Volunteer raid," he said finally, and then left the room.
Sandoval stared after him for a moment, puzzled. He couldn't help but wonder what it was that Kincaid had originally meant to say... and why he had changed his mind.
Sandoval slowly opened his eyes and stared up at the ceiling for a moment. He hadn't been sure that he was going to wake up.
Feeling a hand rub his shoulder, he slowly turned his head to see Dr. Curzon smiling at him. He couldn't help but smile in response. "It worked?"
"Yes, it did," Dr. Curzon replied, slipping her stethoscope on. "Your blood pH is normal and holding." Putting the cold metal circle against his chest, she listened for a moment before removing it and continuing. "I must say, I don't want to have to go through that again. Two pints of anonymous blood at the doorstep is not exactly how they teach it in medical school." Turning away, she slipped the stethoscope around her neck and headed toward the other side of the bed.
"Someone... who was a close match must have wanted to stay uninvolved," Sandoval said, as she checked his eyes.
"Not a close match - a perfect first-degree match. The DNA sequencer hit some gene oddities it couldn't process, but you do have a child in this world," Dr. Curzon told him.
"That's impossible," he managed, unable to believe what she was saying.
"Well, none of us knows the consequences of everything we've done. Think about it," Dr. Curzon said. She turned and headed over to his chart. "Maybe you'll remember a time, a place... a woman.
"Oh, and by the way," she added, turning back to him, "we can tell from the blood: it's a boy."
Sandoval stared at her for a moment, and then closed his eyes, turning his head away.
I have a son?
This... this changed things. Changed everything.
I have a son.