O, Death: Part IX

by Matt P.

It turned out that the both of them were at lunch together, and once Siobhan explained that the situation was perhaps a little time sensitive, they hurried in. One was, as Antigone had mentioned, Walter’s father, who nodded to Paul and Paolo before his attention turned to the two children in beds. The other one was their uncle Ryan Aquino, who looked like a minor movie star and also happened to be a Knight in the service of the Faerie Queens. He was of medium height with tan skin and dark hair, and Paolo immediately perked up at the sight of him.

“Down, boy,” Siobhan commented with a smirk. “Probably not quite ready to be calling the Richards and Aquinos family.” Paolo gave a smirk as he watched Ryan walk over.

“Wasn’t necessarily talking about going antiquing,” he commented with a snort, before he stood up and held out his hand to the man—all business, all trace of flirtatiousness banished away. “Paolo Costa. I’ve got the computer files open like you asked,” he offered more quietly, eyes darting around quickly to make sure no one was listening too closely. Fortunately the hospital was still hectic enough even two hours after the exploding lights incident that they were unnoticed. A significant amount of pediatrics had been moved due to fears of electrical failure, and it left the wing feeling deserted—empty and lonelier then it had been before, with so many lights off and beds abandoned.

“Ryan Aquino, nice to meet you,” Ryan offered with a winning smile as he pulled out his cell phone and started dialing. “If you’ve got the medical records ready to be…creatively billed, our guy can take care of the rest.”

Paolo looked a little bit skeptical, but he let Ryan slide in to the driver’s seat in front of the computer where he had left it logged in and ready to go. “He doesn’t have to be here to do it?”

Ryan smirked indulgently, as he hit send. “As long as you’ve got an Internet connection he doesn’t even have to be on the same continent to make it work. You should see what he can do when he is wired in.” The phone stopped ringing, and a gruff voice came over the line. “Yeah, it’s me. Yes, this makes us even for Islamabad, although you do still owe me a case of beer.”

Walter came over, sliding in to the physical and conversational gaps. “We’ll get the records taken care of, don’t worry. Also, don’t ask questions, because it would be a shame to add lying on the witness stand to whatever other trouble we’ll be in if we get caught. You’re one hundred percent sure those are the missing kids?”

In response, Siobhan pulled a picture up from off the nurse’s station. It was a color photocopy of the one off the wall, discretely taken down and then replaced while they were waiting for their backup to arrive. Walter took it and walked over to where Matt and Natalie were lying still unconscious, and held the copy up to consider them. After a moment, he grunted and held the picture out for Siobhan to take back.

“Are they going to be ok, Dad?” Antigone asked softly from where she sat between them. She had stayed very much near the both of them in the intervening time, and looked up at her father with wide, concerned eyes. Walter sighed a little bit, moving to sit on the edge of Matt’s bed to look at his daughter.

“I don’t know, Annie,” Walter offered seriously. Antigone winced a little bit at the honest answer, but looked like she hadn’t expected him to lie or try to soften it. “I don’t know what’s wrong with them, to begin with—I mean, you disappear for thirty years and then come back? That’s got to have some,” he waved his hand generally over the two unconscious forms, “interesting side effects. But I can tell you that they’re taken care of for now, and if they do wake up we’ll find some way to help them. Doodle is the best; when he’s done they’ll be able to run for Congress when they’re 25, and no one will be able to tell anything was wrong.”

Siobhan perked up from where she was still leaning and watching Ryan work. “Technically they could run for Congress now—they were born in the 70s.”

Ryan smirked. “Not any more…Doodle must have done some of the work after we called him earlier. Now they were born in the heady year of…2004,” Ryan said, finishing with a sigh. “Blight, we’re getting old, Walt. We need to do something about that.” He didn’t notice as Paolo mouthed the word ‘Blight’ in confusion over his head to the rest of the room, who seemed to give a general psychic shrug at the unusual curse.

“Only alternative is to not get older, and that blows pretty hard too,” Walter offered. “And before you ask,” he added quickly, apparently noting the mounting curiosity on Siobhan’s face, “in order: No, we can’t have them run for Congress just to see if it works. No, Doodle can’t give you a fake identity so you can become a superhero, go clubbing, or any other reason. And no I can’t tell you why we call him Doodle, I am literally sworn to secrecy and if I tell you he will erase my birth certificate.”

Siobhan pouted as her father apparently crossed off everything on her to-do list, but it only lasted a moment before she had come up with another plan of attack. “So what do we do now?”

Walter sighed a little bit, and looked over to Ryan. The girl’s uncle only gave his best impression of a Cheshire cat, which drew another significant sigh from Walter. “As soon as they have the best new identities that a terrifying rescue mission in Pakistan can buy, we go discretely hunt whatever it was that blew out all of the lights.”

Siobhan literally let out a squeal of delight, and did a little dance around the nurse’s station.