A Mystery Presents Itself After Playing Doctor

Perhaps Theo wasn’t the only member of the team who was growing tired of the Training Room setting. So much of their time was spent there and each day was beginning to blend into the next. They all must have been thankful for any excuse to use the Situation Room - even if for no reason other than to convene in someplace different. When they’d all gathered around the table, Theo began. “You guys know I’ve proposed loads of mission ideas to SHIELD, right? Well, I have. And whoever that week’s handler happens to be always says they’ll pass them along to another suit, but here we are - four months later and we’re still picking fights with robotos and watching grass grow beneath the trees. One good thing about all that extra time on our hands, though? Lots of time to practice my calligraphy. See?” Theo flips her tablet around to show fancy lettering penned across a sheet of thick stock construction paper that she’s taped to the screen. “Anyways,” and she chunks the tablet in a garbage receptacle. “It also gave me time to think. Niko and I started all this to save the world, sure, and we’re still going to, but also to find a way to rescue all our parents. Well, you know, the ones who went missing. Some of you still have a spare parent in reserve. We’re all rooting for you, Jane. But I started wondering - what about all those other super kids like us who were abandoned all of a sudden but who didn’t even have a ghost nanny to take care of them? Didn’t even have someone out there looking for them. They could have been on their own for fifteen years and that’ll make anyone lonely. And lonely people do bad things. There has to be some way of tracking them down, and not just the ones on my list. The ones on my list are...necessary. It’s better if you don’t ask too many questions about that and that’s all I can tell you right now about those as are on my list. Um...yes. So I figured the best way to find a bunch of missing kids was to try to adopt all the orphans I could afford and then - well Niko talked me out of that approach and thank god, am I right?! If I’m going to have an orphan I’ll give birth to it the old fashioned way just like Wanda did. And speaking of Wanda, she was the one who showed me how to check the newspapers and missing persons reports instead. It’s way cheaper and doesn’t involve my cervix in any way. Wanda was very adamant about leaving that essential feature out of my probing.”

Theo must have dropped her train of thought because she faltered for a long moment. When she looked around at the others there was confusion in her eyes - almost as if she’d forgotten where she was. She glanced down at the notes she’d scribbled on her now sweaty palms; the contents of which were smudged and illegible courtesy of all that damned exercise. She instinctively edged closer to her cousin for support and in a quiet voice whispered, “I’m losing it, Niko.”

And then she snapped back, blinking. “No! I still have it,” she proclaimed to the others. “The missing persons - at first I only - well you don’t want to hear all that. Let me just skip ahead to the part where I uncovered something strange. New York is a big place with lots of people and some of them go missing all the time. Not the same ones going missing over and over again like they just keep getting lost. I mean there’s always someone else going missing. It was hard to find the pattern. So I figured it would be way easier to look for the ones who were already found. And believe it or not, most found people are located at hospitals and police stations. And as some of you may know, I’m not allowed within 100 feet of a police station unless I’m in handcuffs and I can’t use computers, so I started digging through the hospital morgues. Don’t do that. It’s full of dead bodies. They don’t like it when you do that. But this time it worked out because I met a nice doctor who was very patient with me and he started showing me some of the sick persons in different rooms of the hospital who had arrived without any identification or memory of who they are. And you know what they all had in common? They were between 15 and 16 years old, had silver-white hair, and were all in comas.” Theo looked around at the others, eager to see their reactions at the bomb she’d dropped. *Crickets* They were understandably nonplussed. “Okay fine, the doctor offered to tell me what he thought was going on, but didn’t want to discuss it at the hospital so he invited me back to his place and this next part did sort of involve my cervix… Don’t listen, Gwen. That’s not important either. He said he didn’t think those kids were naturally silver-headed and that he’d ordered a series of DNA tests to verify that. I suggested that he could just check - you know, down there - to see if the drapes matched the carpets, but I think it was more complicated than that. He liked his tests so much that he took some of my blood, too. So in the morning I agreed to meet him again that night to see what he’d found. But he never came home. I checked with the hospital and shortly after showing up for his shift, he’d fallen into a coma and gone silver-haired too. Long story short, I think he was onto something and we should find out what was putting all those people into comas and why. And I’m supposed to meet with some Detective who has questions for me since I was the last person to see the doctor outside of work and my blood is all over his apartment. Don’t ask - we were enjoying ourselves.”

T’Chantem listened intently to Theo recount her venturesome escapade through New York City, a hospital, and an extremely suspicious doctor that she apparently was on personal terms with. Among other suppositions to the credibility of her story, T’Chantem wondered exactly how Theo gained access to a hospital and, even further, how she managed to gather all of the information that she did. However, it was crucial to keep in mind that he was listening to Theo, but that didn’t mean he was quick to write off her story as simply being a figmentation of her imagination or side effect of the magic running through her brain — but rather because this was Theo, and she had a unique way of getting the things that she sought after and more.

There were definitely unnecessary details woven between the more serviceable facts, but that was far from surprising, and T’Chantem had learned quickly after meeting Theo how to filter out information from the witch.

Sam stood there, doing his best to discern the important bits of the latest ramble Theo was on. He scratched his forehead as she finished and asked, “Okay, so….you’re saying that; you think someone is kidnapping people, putting them into comas and turning their hair white…...why would anyone do that?”

Theo scrunched up her face. “Sort of. I’m saying someone is targeting that specific age group for some reason and whatever they are doing to them is not good and the hair is just a side effect or marker. And I think it’s someone in the hospital, not a hairstylist.”

Gwen took a wireless earbud out of one ear. “Oh … she was talking?” The girl blinked, looking to Niko. “Was any of it important or was she just Theoing again?” Theo was now a verb.

Niko snarled his lip, running a hand through his silver hair, scowling at the idea of someone not wanting white hair. “People are being kidnapped,” he whispered to Gwen before biting into an apple he didn’t have seconds ago. “And it makes their hair look awesome, but then they’re in a coma. We’re going to have to do some Sherlock shit.”

“But if they’re kidnapped, how do we know this?” Gwen asked, trying to string the logic together.

“Because--” Niko stopped mid-chew, trying to think of an answer for Gwen, deciding to leave the sentence hanging. If enough time passed, she may move on to something else.

Erik whispered over to Gwen, "Because Theo 'talked' with a doctor." He raised his voice, but just to a point where everyone might barely hear him. "How do we know this doctor is..or rather was telling the truth and not just trying to…" he left the sentence hanging to avoid saying the phrase directly.

“How do we know there was an actual doctor, at all,” Gwen pointed out. Theo wasn’t after all the most reliable.

Theo gave Gwen a dirty look, but it was a valid point. “I think a trip to the hospital is in order. You need to see those kids for yourselves. And the doctor. He has a name, by the way.” Theo peered down to her palms again and sighed. “I can’t remember his name at the moment, but he has one, Gwen. All doctors have a name. And for your information, I screwed him before he gave me any of this information.”

"Well we can't ALL go to the hospital. That would draw way too much attention," Sam cut in. "Since it's your lead, why don't you just take one other and go incognito to check things out?"

“It’s a hospital; we can each visit one patient and no one would be the wiser. Or I could just magic all the nurses. They wouldn’t even know we had been there. I don’t think I want Niko in the same room as the doctor, though. Sorry, Niko, but you get weird about my romance. Sam and I could go to the hospital then I still need to talk to that detective and Sam is an upstanding kind of guy, right? You can help me sort all this out with the law, right Sam? Didn’t you read some law books? And while we’re doing that? If only one of you goes with me, what is the rest of the team going to do?” Theo looked to the others to see if anyone was going to volunteer for any of this. “I guess you could stay here and put another coat of wax on the floors. Come on guys; SHIELD isn't going to assign us anything. And these kids need our help. They might even be kids like us. What if it was Gwen? Would you just leave her in the hospital?”

“She’d have kicked their ass,” Niko said through a mouthful of peanut butter sandwich.

“I would. I’m not completely helpless,” Gwen agreed.

“I don’t want to go to the hospital, they smell funny. What are we going to find there? If the kids are unconscious, can’t you … you know.” Niko pointed to his head. “And talk to them while they sleep?”

“Or couldn’t you just magic them awake? Hospitals don’t let you wander around like it's a tourist attraction and frankly Theo, your powers are pretty unpredictable,” Gwen reminded.

“It’s chaos magic,” Theo grumbled, as if that explained it.

“They don’t smell that bad.” Erik added softly.

“The emergency rooms areas, not where long term patients stay. Those smell fine. Right Niko,” Gwen asked, looking to Niko innocently.

“No, it all smells funny. Like too clean, if it was a house, you’d have to take your shoes off to not mess up the car---” Niko replied, getting cut off as Gwen shot a wad of webbing over Nikos mouth. “He agrees,” the petite webslinger advised. Niko still managed to offer Thorson the other half of his second sandwich.

Erik gave a weak smile and a nod to Gwen.

“We take our shoes off at the Sanctum,” Theo offered, unsure what was being disputed. “Bird shit is hard to get out of the carpets.”

T’Chantem wasn’t shocked that the room quickly descended into further disorder — Theo seemed to have that effect on a majority of the team, but it was ironic that most would consider Theo as the only “special” one within the group. While his teammates discussed a variety of topics that he truly couldn’t bother to listen to, T’Chantem began piecing together the more coherent parts of Theo’s story. It was suspicious that the doctor had suffered the same fate as the children in the hospital, and a bit surprising. Whoever was behind the ailing adolescents seemed to have the resources to spare, and no better way of disposing of adversaries — at least, they believed that they didn’t. They also had a way of discovering information that they typically shouldn’t be able to, evident by the doctor who talked, and subsequently became comatose as a consequence.

Sam ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. After all their months of training, they still couldn't properly communicate. "Okay, how about we try and focus up? Theo, I think you should have his majesty escort you to the hospital and to speak with the detective. If the detective tries anything like taking you in, T'Chantem's diplomatic immunity should be enough to wiggle you out without you resorting to your powers. The last thing we need is local law pissed at us. Gwen, if you can do so from here, I'd ask that you look into the hospital records. If not, we can get you as close as you need to be. If you have to get near the building, Erik would be great at watching your back. Niko, it may be boring, but you'd by far be the fastest; if you could check all the surrounding hospitals in the area for other patients that match the description, we can determine if it's isolated to this hospital, or if it's a bigger issue. I'm gonna find out all I can about this Doctor. Though his name and the name of the hospital would definitely be helpful." He looks to Theo.

“So you don’t want to come with me, Sam? Even when I ask nicely for your help, you rework the offer to make it your own plan?” Theo sounded hurt, not angry, and her bottom lip trembled a few times.

“It’s not like that, Theo. I’m just trying to make sure we’re all in our best element if we’re going to deal with this as a team. I could be useful at the hospital maybe, but what can I do against the detective?” Sam replied. “And we can’t just have everyone else sit around if there are ways they can help.”

“I just thought…”

“Yes?” he asked, curiously.

“Excuse me, but we’ve had enough of immaterial asides during this meeting, I believe. While I don’t doubt that whatever you two are trying to currently discern is important, I can make an informed guess that it likely doesn’t matter in the context of what we’ve convened for,” T’Chantem interrupted. While he didn’t want to be rude, he also had little interest in listening to another cretinous conversation that stimulated only the two, single-bodied parties involved. “Theodosia, could you give us the name of the doctor and the hospital you visited? The information you have, as I’m sure you’re aware, is crucial — and currently you’re the only person in the room with it.”

“Absolutely,” Theo chimed in, happy for the distraction. “The hospital is a big building, made of concrete, and it’s located in between two other buildings, both much larger,” she offered that last as if that was an especially helpful bit of information. “The name was all lit up on the front of the building with a big plus sign, you can’t miss it. What? I’ll know it when I see it; I know exactly where it is, I just don’t know where it is.”

“Okay, so no hospital name right now. Can you at least recall what his name was?” Sam asked, bluntly.

Theo sighed and tugged on her earlobes. “Sam, I already told little Gwen - I don’t remember the doctor’s name. I think it started with an I or an E, but his name tag was on his lab coat and I made him take that off early on.”

“Is there anything else that you can recall?” T’Chatem asked. While he was confident that Theo had already shared most, if not everything that she knew, he wanted to be thorough before the team moved forward.

“There is something else, but I doubt you will think it does any good right now. It’s just a feeling I got when I was standing by the beds of those kids. I felt the impression that they’d been tampered with somehow. Their thoughts were...weird. I don’t know how to describe it and I didn’t spend much time with any of them. That’s why I said we need to get over there right away and rescue them.” But the way Theo is trying to get everyone to jump into action, is more like a kid on Christmas morning who is trying to get her parents downstairs so they could all open presents. There was an urgency, but it was excitement as well.

Sam's phone went off in his pocket and he quickly read the text that came in. He shoved the phone back in its slot in his belt and started to walk out. "Listen, I have to go, something else has come up in the city. Text me when you find out the name of the hospital and I'll make my way over."

Theo shakes her head in disbelief. “Unbelievable,” she mutters. “So it’s you and me, your Princeliness? Bring your wireless telephone so you can report back all the details when we get there. And maybe bring bail money.”

Niko tentatively raised his hand. “Am I still running?” He asked, before taking a sip of water. “I could be there and back.”

“You could come with the Prince and me if you don’t mind all the waiting and standing and talking and smelly...cleanliness of the hospital. Or you could peak through the other hospitals for silver haired - Niko! You have silver hair! Maybe you’ve been using your cervix a bit as well. You old dog.” Theo gave her cousin a friendly pat on the cheek and a silent smile.

OOC: Alright team, time to split up and earn our paychecks. Also, has anyone gotten paid?

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