Happy Birthday, you're dead

(or a funny thing happened to Geoff on his way to a surprise birthday party.)

Part 8.


1700 - Bear's room

Bear rolled over and groaned. He could still feel the after effects of the attack and the feeling of exhaustion, but he was awake. As he feet hit the ground, he realized they were bare.

Then he felt the sudden draft on his back. He hated hospital gowns. Then the thought hit him. He was wearing Jeans and a Tee shirt before this all began.

He felt the blush long before it showed on his tanned face. When he turned he could see Kenny lying in the next bed, snoring away. He was somewhat relieved to see that Kenny had undergone the same treatment.

Bear pushed off the bed and staggered towards the closet. To his relief, his cloths were there. As he dressed he prepared himself for what was to come.

Somehow, he knew that Geoff was back, but there had been complications, but rather then speculate or overtax himself, he decided to go to the duty station and simply check the records.

The Wilson on duty was one of the younger ones, and it took TwoBears a moment to remember her name. "Nancy," he called out in greeting.

She smiled and nodded at him. "Should I put you up on the board?" she asked.

"In a little while," Bear answered. "I'm still trying to get my bearings, and maybe a little coffee."

Nancy smiled and handed him a cup. "The stuff in the break room's as awful as ever," she offered. "Geoff's over in 3, you'll need to read the report on him. Gina's crashed out in 4 and I figure you've already seen Kenny. Duck's still in 7, but she's stable. And you may need to check in on Derrick, he's down in isolation working on Tracker."

"Tracker's in ISO?"

Nancy nodded. "We had a Toxic-Chemical Attack. Tommy says Tracker's suit ripped. Derrick hot-linked him over to ISO and has been with him ever since."

"Do we know what they were using?"

"Yeah, it was a chlorine based agent, Tommy's got the chromatography reports. They've got him on a full course of CH-13. Derrick's refusing to leave until the course is over."

"I'll go and check on him," Bear promised.

"Get some coffee first," Nancy suggested. "Its going to be a long evening."

Bear nodded as he grabbed Geoff's chart and headed towards the break room and salvation, or at least a cup of coffee.

1730 - Geoff's Room.

Davy looked up as Bear walked into the room.

"Hey Bear, should you be up yet?"

"You're a fine one to talk," Bear grumbled as he looked over and Jenny and nodded.

"Stable," she informed him before he could ask a question.

"Do you need me?" he asked next.

"He's doing fine for now. Kenny hasn't had a chance to work on him yet, so I'd say its your call."

"If he doesn't need anything right now, I'd rather wait," Bear commented. "See how the others are doing before I start anything."

Jenny nodded and smiled. "Have you eaten yet?"

Bear smiled and raised his cup.

"Men," Jenny swore and headed towards the door. "Don't let him leave till I get him some food." she ordered Davy.

As the door closed Davy looked at Bear and shrugged. "Like I could stop you if I wanted to."

Bear smiled. "Right now, you probably could." As he looked around for a chair he noticed Joey sitting in the corner.

Joey stood and moved into the light. Bear looked at him, then over at Geoff and back again. Davy noticed the raised eyebrow.

"Joseph Edwin Mays, this is Danny TwoBears," he said, introducing them to each other.

"Geoff's brother," Bear stated as it all started to make sense. "You were in the tunnels with him." he stated to Joey and then looked at Davy. "So I'm assuming Eclipse was hired to protect Geoff."

"Joey hired him," Davy confirmed.

"And has Tracker had a chance to talk to Herr Eclipse?"

"I believe so," Davy answered. "He's in the control room."

"After this is over," Bear promised him. "I'll have my talk with him."

"Please sir," Joey interjected. "He was acting on my orders."

Bear turned and looked at Joey for a minute. "To be fair, he probably saved her life," Bear told him. "But I do not appreciate it when people use my friends for target practice."

Davy winced at the comment. "Bear?"

Bear looked at him and nodded. "Yeah, I know. Its just that, where Duck's concerned..."

Davy nodded. "We all feel the same."

"I better check on Tracker and Rabbit," Bear commented as he stood. "Tell Jenny I'll get some food on the way."

Davy started to say something and then stopped. He knew Bear well enough to know that the point had been taken. Bear nodded apologetically towards Joey and stopped.

Joey's expression was so dejected Bear could have kicked himself.

"Joseph," Bear called to him. "My anger is not with you. Or even Eclipse for that matter. Duck is very special to me." Bear stopped there, afraid of saying too much. "I'm sorry if I offended you."

"Offended me?" Joey answered shyly. "Directly, or indirectly, I am responsible for what happened. I wish I could change that, and that is the truth of the matter."

"Then let us put an end to it," Bear stated quietly.

"How?" Joey asked. "How can I put that behind me?"

"Your actions were born out of concern for you brother. By accepting responsibility for those actions, you have taken the first step. The next step is forgiveness."

"Can you forgive me?" he asked. The sincerity in his voice was clear.

"I can," Bear answered. "The question is, can you?"

Joey stopped and thought about Bear's words. "Maybe, after I talk to her. After I get to talk to Geoff..."

"That's a beginning,"Bear stated. "Now before I lose all steam, let me get down to ISO. By now, Derrick could use a friendly ear."

1800 hours - ISO chamber.

Derrick lined up the used needle with the others, then rechecked Tracker's restraints.

"You're so pretty in the moonlight," Tracker stated wistfully.

"Bet you say that to all the girls, sailor."

Rabbit smiled-- at least this hallucination seemed pleasant enough. Some of the ranting that Tracker had done on the last go-round was enough to make Derrick wonder what ghosts roamed the darkness of Tracker's mind.

Even as he watched, Tracker's expression twisted into something else. "Its a lie," he swore. "You're messing with my mind. She would never do that to me..."

Derrick let out a deep breath. He knew this one at least. More to the point, he knew it from Duck's end.

"Easy Tracker," he urged. "That was a long time ago." A year to be exact. A year ago when everybody but Duck had figured him for dead. And they all had figured the Duck was just in denial.

He had been kidnaped, his death faked. They held him for 3 months, trying to convince him that the Duck had betrayed him. It should have worked, except for one small detail. Duck would no more betray Tracker than he would her. It just would never happen.

Tracker strained against his bonds as the images had played through his mind. Derrick knew he was reliving their attempt to brainwash him.

Duck was livid when she found their setup. A quasi-simsense of Tracker working in the matrix and Duck sneaking up from behind and shooting him, it had a full sensory load, and it was set for constant replay.

"Tracker, it ain't real," he urged. "It'll be over soon," he promised. 8 more hours, 15 doses. Rabbit didn't know how much more of it he could take.

"Derrick," he turned hoping to see recognition in Tracker's eyes, but he was still trapped in the memories. Then he saw the vid screen.

"Bear!" he called out. "You're up?"

"It would seem so," Bear answered with a wry smile. "How are you holding up?"

Derrick shook his head. "Its rough," he admitted. "And it really doesn't help knowing that the serum is what's doing it to him."

"I know," Bear answered. "I know, but you can't take it personally. You are not doing this to him, and don't you forget that."

Derrick nodded. "That my shrink talking?"

"And your friend, and his."

"Any news on the others?"

"Geoff's out of surgery, he should be all right. Duck's stabilized, but still unconscious. Gina and Kenny are in various stages of exhaustion."

"Derrick," he heard another voice call, it was Tracker. "Tell Bear to take care of her..."

Derrick nodded and relayed the message, then turned back to Tracker. "You know, I was worried about her going climbing..."

Derrick laughed and relayed the message to Bear. Bear laughed and shook his head. "You boys play nice," he added as he turned off the comm device. "Be well my friends, be well," he stated softly in prayer.

1800 - Geoff's room

Davy watched Joey carefully as he thought about what Bear had said, but his mind kept going back to his choice in phrases. 'Using Duck for target practice.'

"What's wrong?" Joey asked softly as he noticed the far away look in Davy's eyes.

"Bear meant what he said about forgiving yourself," he stated. "But his choice in words... he's taken this a lot harder than he's willing to admit."

"Why shouldn't he, from what I can see he really cares about her, and having her get shot like that..."

Davy nodded, then looked at Joey. "What do you know about our time in the military?"

"Mostly what you've said," Joey admitted. "Most of your missions were classified. I know that all three of you were discharged after the last one. Two medical, one special circumstances..."

"That last mission nearly killed all of us," Davy explained. "It was Bear and Duck that helped us through." Davy stopped as he thought about how close they'd all come to dying, and what had happened to Duck.

"Why don't you tell me later," Joey urged when he noticed the change in Davy's expression.

Davy nodded in appreciation.

1815 - Duck's room

Bear picked up her chart, then sat down next to Duck.

"Katya," he called softly, but there was no response.

He let out a sigh as he started reading. What they hadn't been able to figure out from her video feeds, could now be traced by her injuries. The bullet had thrown her into a decorative table in the hallway, causing some spinal bruising, soft tissue damage really. Her right hand had been pinned under her, and the other had been badly burned. The positioning of her hand indicated that she was trying to protect herself when the blast came. That meant that she had seen it coming.

The blast itself had been incendiary, explaining the 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her hand and face. Bear turned back to Duck as he put the chart away and held her right hand in his. Slowly he traced the outline of her palm, then put it to his heart. Then he traced the bandages over he eyes and prayed.

He'd seen the damage, knew that there had been some retinal damage, but she had been able to recognize him after the blast. That gave him hope.

"Come back soon," he whispered in her ear, then turned as he heard the door open.

"Hey Bear," Gina called wearily.

"Gina," Bear sighed. "I'd yell at you about getting up already, but I'm in no shape."

Gina nodded then looked at Duck. "Any change?"

Bear shook his head and turned back to Duck. "She's just not ready to make her entrance."

Gina nodded again, then sighed. "Do you know if they have any coffee left?"

"Let's go check," Bear suggested.


Bear looked at Gina as she poured herself a cup of coffee. "I blew it with the kid," he admitted.

"Joey?" Gina asked as she started dumping sugar into the cup.

"You going to measure that?" Bear asked in disbelief.

"Why bother?" Gina asked.

"Just asking," Bear commented as he shook his head. "Just asking."

"How'd you blow it?"

"Eclipse," Bear stated. "I said some things I probably shouldn't have."

"Let me guess," Gina stated as she took the chair across from him. "You got up, maybe had a cup of coffee, decided to make the rounds. Geoff's the least stable, so you figure on seeing him first. You meet Joey, and you're still grumpy. You forget that he's new and you grouse. Only he takes it personally, cause he's too much like Geoff for his own good."

Bear stared at her for a minute, then nodded. "You sure you haven't tried any spirit working?"

"Bear, I know you. I've seen the kid in action. He's like Geoff and Davy all rolled into one. And to be honest, you end up forgetting that he's only 17, and that he still takes everything personally. Mix that with you on too little sleep and raw emotion, you're just looking for trouble."

"Yeah, you're right," Bear agreed. "Just wish I could get him to understand."

Gina nodded. "I wish I could get them both to get some rest."

"You know Davy's not going to rest until Geoff's awake," he answered. "And like you said, Joey's just like his brother..."

Gina nodded as she took another sip of her coffee. "You seen Rabbit?" she asked.

"He and Tracker were the next stop." Bear admitted. "Man, he's going through hell in there."

"Rabbit or Tracker?"

"Both," Bear answered. "The CH-13's really messing with Tracker's mind. And giving it to him is tearing Derrick apart."

"I'll check in on them," Gina promised. "Davy's called a meeting for 2100, anybody who's not on duty should probably be there."

"Have we been able to pinpoint the source of our trouble yet," Bear asked.

"We don't know, I know that Davy's got Rico working on it, but.. we just don't know."

"If you want, I can try and find out my way," Bear offered.

"I know, I'd rather you be available at the clinic," Gina admitted. "It took Kenny and me way too much to work Geoff through this, and with Tracker and Duck in the ward, we could definitely use every spare Doc we got. But its really up to you and Davy."

Bear nodded. "How is Kenny doing," he added.

Gina shook her head and let out a sigh. "You read Geoff's file?"

Bear nodded. Allergic reaction, fever, dementia, and that was only the beginning. Someone had slipped him a time release capsule that had almost cost him his life. "Very Ugly," he agreed.

"Kenny kept him from feeling the pain when I operated on him. After that, he had to keep Geoff's heart from beating for 4 minutes until I could attach the replacement unit. I'm afraid he's not going to be much use, even if he wakes up."

"If?" Bear asked worriedly.

"When, I meant when," Gina corrected herself.

"Are you up to all this?" Bear asked.

"You get used to it," Gina answered. "You?"

"I'm used to long hours," he admitted. "But I'm usually up to my neck in 'situational disaster management. I'll be better once Duck wakes up,"

Gina nodded and smiled at him. "Well, shall we go make the rounds?".

1900 - ISO Chamber

Tracker twisted in the bed, fighting against the restraints.

"No!" Tracker yelled angrily. "Leave her alone!"

"Easy Tracker," Rabbit urged as he tried to give him the next shot. As he reached down, Tracker moved. The violence of his actions moved the bed. Derrick pulled up at the last minute, barely missing his suit.

He backed off and watched Tracker in disbelief. His muscles were straining at the straps that kept him down. They almost looked as if they were going to pop, and then relaxed.

"Derrick?" Tracker called softly.

"I'm here Tracker," Rabbit assured him. "I'm afraid its time for your next dose."

Tracker nodded as he tried to force himself to remain calm. "Rabbit, leave, you don't need this. Take a break, get some food... its going to be a long night," He urged as Derrick slipped the needle into his arm.

"I can't," he stated as he looked into Tracker's eyes. "I've been there," he admitted. "And I'll be damned if I let a friend go through something like this alone."

"Look Derrick, I appreciate the sentiment, but how much more of this can you take? How long before you make a mistake and somebody's got to come in here and watch over you?"

"I'll be fine," Rabbit assured him, then stopped, he could see it in his eyes, Tracker was somewhere else again. "Tracker," he called worriedly as Tracker's breathing became erratic.

"You can't kill us all," Tracker groaned. "Kill me and others will come."

"You mean like this one?" Alex the Red taunted as his men dragged Duck in and dumped her on the floor.

Tracker held his breath as the man reached down and patted Duck's head. "She almost made it," the man stated calmly. "But she made the mistake of coming back for you..."

Tracker groaned. Sometimes Duck was too loyal for her own good. "There are others," he swore.

"If you believed that, then this wouldn't bother you, now would it?" he asked as he had his men drag Duck over to a table and strap her down.

"Leave her alone!" Tracker yelled as he strained against the ropes. "I'll kill you," he swore as Alex pulled out a needle and prepped Duck's arm for an injection.

"Where' s your bravado now?" Alex chided as he jabbed the needle into Duck's arm.

Tracker groaned in frustration as the man pressed the plunger, injecting his prisoner with the poison cocktail he had developed.

"Duck!" Tracker cried in disbelief as he felt his hopes sink. They had come to get a sample of the poison, in the hopes of finding an antidote for its latest victim, now instead of saving Whisper, Duck was being added to the casualty list. "No..."

"As I thought," Alex taunted. "You've failed your friends, and they will not be here to help you."

Tracker growled in frustration as the man smiled and walked towards the door. "I'll let you watch the poison progress, then we'll talk."

Left alone Tracker banged his head against the table.

Rabbit watched as Tracker banged his head against the pillow in frustration. "Easy Tracker," he called. "Just take it easy."

"You won't get away with this!" Tracker groaned.

"Aw Damn," Rabbit groaned as Tracker's voice cracked in pain. "Damn it to Hell!"

"Hey Derrick," Gina's voice called over the intercomm. "How you holding up?"

Derrick rewarded the camera with a sour look. "Great!" he answered.

"Bear told me," she assured him. "If you want, I'll watch over him for a while. It'll let you get a break."

"Gina," Derrick grumbled in frustration. "You're needed upstairs with Geoff, and Duck. I can handle this."

"Derrick," Gina called worriedly. "You don't have to take this on yourself."

"I can't leave him here," Derrick answered. "And I can't ask you to take more risks than you already have."

"Rabbit," Gina called. "We're here," she promised.

"I know, and thanks." Rabbit stated as he looked back over at Tracker. "Gina," he added. "Let me know if there's any change with Duck."

"Duck," Tracker groaned as he heard Rabbit say her name. "You'll pay for this." Tracker swore.

"Rabbit?" Gina called as Derrick's face went pale.

"And I thought my nightmares were bad," Rabbit stated, "I'll be fine." He assured her then broke the connection, but it had been long enough. He had seen the worry in her eyes, and he knew that she had seen the tears in his. "I think I'll have a nice long talk with Bear after all of this," he told himself.

"Bear?" Tracker groaned. "Danny, Alex gave her the cocktail, you've got to stop it from spreading.... please..."

"Its okay Tracker," Rabbit assured him. "Duck's tucked in nice and safe in medical."

"How is she," Tracker asked, but Rabbit could tell he was still in the throws of whatever nightmare he'd been living.

"She's stable," he stated. "Should be fine in a few days."

"Good," Tracker stated, then started screamed again.

"Just hang on," Rabbit urged. He wasn't sure who he was urging more by then, Tracker or himself.

Copyright 1998 - M.T. Decker

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