12: I'D LIKE A DIFFERENT DIAGNOSIS

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"I'm here to see Dr. Larimore," I said when the secretary finally looked up at me.

He had been on the phone for the past five minutes, and was only just now giving me attention. From the look on his face, I was a task he did not want to attend to. Then again, he also looked like he hadn't slept in at least twenty-four hours, so I was doubtful there was any task he did want to attend to.

"Dr. Larimore is busy with patients right now," the secretary responded, looking away from me the moment the words had left his lips.

I suppressed a sigh. "This is about one of his patients."

He arched a brow at that, granting me his attention for another few seconds. "And your name would be?"

"Jason Thomas," I said, sliding my hands into my back pockets. I watched as a trio of nurses rushed by me, one of them rolling an IV stand. They sped-walk so fast they were practically jogging. When I looked back to the secretary, he was holding the desk phone to his ear.

"Yes, Dr. Larimore, I'm sorry but there's a Jason Thomas here to see you?" He gave me a once over. "He said he needs to talk to you about one of your patients." He continued to eye me suspiciously as I heard a distant voice -- presumably Dr. Larimore. "Yes, of course, I'll send him now." He hung up the phone and forced a smile to his lips. "You're in luck. Dr. Larimore is available to see you. His office is down this hall," he pointed, "then take a left. It'll be the fifth door on the right."

Without another word, he turned his attention to his monitor, leaving me to mumble a "Thanks," before I was on my way.

I found Dr. Larimore's office easily enough, though I was having a hard time wrapping my head around him being in an office. Shouldn't he be running around from room to room, trying to solve everything with his patients like the secretary had said? I pushed those thoughts out of my mind as I knocked on the door.

"Come in," Dr. Larimore said.

I pushed the door open and peered around cautiously. Larimore was seated at a desk that was buried in papers, with a smaller stack of papers immediately before him. He didn't so much as look up at me as I walked in.

"I assume you're here about Mickey," Larimore said, still without looking.

"Certainly not here about myself," I retorted, looking around further. The walls were blank but for Larimore's medical degrees, and they were a strange off-green color. I looked back to Larimore. "I have some questions."

"Words I sooner anticipated hearing from Mickey's parents than you, Jason," he replied before sighing. He looked up from his paperwork then, and leaned back in his chair. "Would you like to have a seat?" He waved at a chair before his desk.

I moved to sit without offering a verbal response, and when I continued to stare at him impatiently, he eventually spoke again.

"What is it you were wanting to know, Jason?" he asked in the practiced patience of a true medical professional.

It made me want to knock all of his papers clear off his desk. "How many other cases of dissociative amnesia have you dealt with?"

Larimore's dark brow furrowed. "I can't seem to recall handling any other such cases personally, as a matter of fact."

"But there are records of this kind of thing?" I pressed.

"Of course there are," Larimore nodded. "It's just a very unusual circumstance, is all. Though it has happened."

His answer seemed evasive at best, but I had a gut feeling I wouldn't get anything else out of him on that matter, so I didn't push it. "Okay," I said slowly, pretending to be contemplative as I chose my next words. "Is there any chance that this alternate persona she's taken on," I said slowly, "could be based on reality?"

Larimore gave me a highly amused expression at that. "Are you asking me if your eighteen year old friend could have had some second life as a spy?"

I didn't merit his derisive tone with any kind of reaction. "I'm asking you if there's any chance -- any, no matter how remote -- that what she's experiencing could be real." I spoke with calm confidence, my gaze unwavering.

Larimore shifted in evident discomfort in his chair, though for all the world he appeared to be doing his best to remain professional. "From a medical stand point, that seems highly unlikely. Impossible, even." He paused then, clasping his hands together in his lap and shifting again. "Before the accident . . . did she have any odd behaviors? New developments, I mean. Things that wouldn't have been considered normal a few years ago."

My brow furrowed. "She was forgetting things more, but . . ." I trailed off in serious consideration. Realistically, Mickey's entire persona could've been considered odd. She definitely wasn't typical by anyone's means, and actually strived to stay that way. "The writing," I said slowly, "um, she was writing more."

"About the story wherein you are Rebel and she is Risk?" Larimore asked.

"Yeah," I agreed.

Larimore hummed. "In the past, such escapism could be considered a sign of depression. However, studies have shown that the longer someone spends in their fantasy world the more likely it is to cause negative results. Perhaps even such drastic behavioral changes as she is currently receiving . . . but this," he sighed quietly, nearly in a resigned manner. "This was not brought on over a long period of time. From discussions I had with the Davidsons, Mickey showed no other symptoms of depression."

"So if she had slowly transformed into this Risk person," I trailed off purposefully.

"I could see it as being a sign of severe depression with other pathological side effects, yes," Larimore nodded. "But that isn't the case here. No, Jason; I'm afraid everything that's going on in Mickey's head is just that -- in her head. There's no way that any of it could be real." His eyes narrowed. "Has she been behaving in any way that might make her a threat to herself?"

I didn't hesitate to shake my head. "No." I lied. I lied because I couldn't have him trying to bring her back in for tests -- no way would that have gone over well. I also lied because I felt more uneasy than ever about this entire thing. His self-proclaimed confidence that this was just a strange breed of amnesia didn't sit right with me.

Larimore relaxed fractionally. "Then I see no cause for concern." He flashed one of those sickly sympathetic smiles then. "I'm hopeful her memory will return soon. Given the empathy she displayed when she spoke with her parents, it seems reasonable to believe things will come flooding back soon." He turned his attention back to his paperwork then. "Now, as much as I hate being dismissive, I must get more of this paperwork done before a scheduled surgery."

I nodded distractedly. "Yeah, of course. I get it." I got to my feet and headed for the door.

"Let me know if anything new develops with her, though," Larimore called right before I closed the door.

"Absolutely," I muttered under my breath as I navigated the halls. "You'll be the last one to know."

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