Warning: This scene has swears.
“It wouldn’t hurt if you’d stop moving!”
That was Aescoo—uh—Aescoopus?—anyway, that was the reason my new partner gave me to stop squirming. Which was false, by the way. For one thing, I wasn’t really moving much, and for another thing, my back hurt like hell whether I moved or not.
Sculptus seemed stressed. I didn’t blame him. He had just taken out three ultra-heroes. His adrenaline had to be through the roof. Plus, he had had to carry me from the van to his house like a damn bride, because I couldn’t feel my legs much less actually use them.
He shouldn’t have been getting on me for moving, when he was the one that kept hitting my feet against the wall.
The pain was starting to catch up to me and my adrenaline was draining, leaving a cold dead feeling underneath. I held tighter to his shirt, just to make sure I wouldn’t roll forward out of his arms. He didn’t have the best grip on me.
Asculpter rubbed his shoulder against the wall to turn on the light. When he did, I saw that where I thought would be a living room was actually something like a hospital. Jars and Tupperware containers lined the walls on shelves. In the center of the room, on a large white tarp, sat an operating table, all sectioned with black cushions. It was wrapped in plastic, too. Next to the table was a tray of tools and an IV stand. Either he was always ready to operate, or he had been expecting me to get hurt.
Asculptine staggered to the table and set me down as gently as he could.
“I’ll need to undress you, obviously,” he said as he shut and locked the door. He took off his goggles, mask and gloves.
I don’t know what I expected to be under that mask and electronic voice box, but it wasn’t a squat, balding man with glasses. His eyes were small and unassuming behind his glasses, but looking into them, there was no doubt he knew what he was doing. I relaxed a little.
He pulled on a mint-green doctor’s apron and tied it. “Those goddamned tanks on your back…” He didn’t say what about my goddamned tanks upset him. He just put on a surgical mask and began gently removing them.
I was lying on my stomach but from the corner of my eye, I saw the glint of steel scissors.
“Dude, my IV!”
“Cool it, Countersink,” he growled. “I’m just cutting your jacket off.”
“Do you want me to break your back even more by trying to force your skinny arms through the holes?”
“No,” I grumbled as I heard him slice my jacket from top to bottom and lay the flaps aside. Shit. I had spent a long time on that jacket.
He made a sound, but his voice box distorted it so much that I couldn’t tell what it was supposed to be. All I know is it probably wasn’t a good sound.
“Is it bad?” I asked.
“Nothing I can’t handle,” he replied, wiping cold disinfectant on the inside of my elbow.
“Are you just saying that or do you really think it’ll be no problem—ah!” He stuck the IV into my arm, more forcefully than necessary in my opinion.
“There’s your IV, Countersink, now go to sleep and let me work.”
Whether my back really was no problem or whether he was just saying it to keep me from panicking didn’t matter. He was my only hope. I suppose I could have gone to the hospital, but I really didn’t like the idea of being out in the open like that. For all I knew, I might wake up to Ashby standing at the end of my bed. They’d let him in because he looked respectable.
Sculpinius could also alert Ashby to my whereabouts, but it seemed less likely than Ashby showing up in my hospital room, for some reason. Maybe because Sculpter had taken out three of Ashby’s guys in an effort to get me. Why would he do that if he intended to take me right back?
No, Sculpter was cool. He had his own beef with Ashby. We had beef together. Neither of us wanted anything to do with that life-sucker. I didn’t trust Sculpter, exactly, but it was still nice to have someone with the same enemy. I’d never had that with anyone but my parents. It made me feel like a real ultra-hero, like an adult who maybe wouldn’t be hiding in an abandoned field house his whole life.
A/N: Paul’s actual ultra-hero name is Aesculpius, after the Greek god of medicine, but Luis can never remember it, so he just calls him Paul or Sculpter, neither of which Paul likes. “The point of an alias is so my real name doesn’t get thrown around!” he says. “And I’ve never sculpted anything in my life!” And so it goes.