Sixteen - Ira

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"Desmond, what are you doing here?" Stuart stood up, startled by the intruder. He moved between Desmond and me, his posture growing intimidating towards the guy who'd pretended to be everyone's friend on the surface of the island. "Your mother is away on a conference. Didn't you know about this?"

"No," Desmond said, unwavering. "I mean, I know." He lowered his voice, losing a little of his inauthentic facade. "I need your help, Stuart. Only yours."

This caught Stuart off guard. "You need my help?" He glanced awkwardly at me, then back at Desmond. "Does this really have to be right now?"

Desmond cleared his throat. "Uh, yes. She's in Mom's office right now and I'd rather not have other people know."

"She?" Forgetting my presence, Stuart raised his voice. "Who?"

"Valentina Linkin," Desmond replied. "Remember, the unofficial island doctor with tattoos?"

The name rang a bell. It had something to do with Jaysen. I looked up at the light again, and it wasn't so painful as the first time. I wanted to see what Desmond was doing, but I didn't know what I'd do if I saw his face again.

"I know who she is." Stuart's frustration at Desmond was boiling up. He paused to seethe silently before continuing, "What's wrong with you? Are you out of your mind?"

"Are you going to help me or not?" Desmond challenged. I wondered why he appeared to have such authority  around here. Perhaps it had to do with his conference-going mother.

I saw Stuart's arms move to cross in front of his chest. He shook his head. "Fine," he said reluctantly, "but it had better be quick. I still need to see Ira."


Desmond glared at me when he came through the door with a large heavy duty bag. "Does she really need to be here?" he asked Stuart.

"Remember who's doing the favour here, Desmond," Stuart replied calmly. I took in every word, hoping to construct a map of everything they're talking about. Doctor Valentina was in Desmond's office, but not to see Jaysen.

Desmond hauled a spare gurney from the wall, making it sit in an awkward diagonal position to everything. With a groan, he lifted the bag onto the gurney, unzipping it quickly. He reached inside and took out a limp body. Her shoulders and arms were heavily tattooed against severely sunburnt skin.

"Shit," I muttered under my breath. I didn't think that Desmond could get any worse, but he did. He followed my voice with a glare, the panic and concern about him dissolving the moment our eyes locked.

"Desmond, what do you expect me to do?" There was a sliver of annoyance that crept into Stuart's voice. He sighed and took Desmond to the far corner of the room, the distance from me making the boy visibly relax. I strained to hear their low conversation, but could only make out a few words—skin, treatment, help. Stuart's frustration was evident in his voice even when I gave up on eavesdropping and turned to take in what could be my assets in this room. There was the needle that Stuart had used on me before lying in a plastic tray, a few small vials bunched up together, and not much more unless I can open the cupboards and drawers. Stuart's computer cables were neatly tied and not at all convenient for anything.

"...Never seen this, Desmond," Stuart insisted, raising his voice and bringing my attention back to the two arguing men. He walked over to his desk, ignoring my narrowed eyes, unlocked his second drawer and pulled out a crinkling pack of pills.

"Paracetamol? You're serious?" Desmond demanded.

Stuart swapped the pack for another. "Fine, I'll give you extra strong. But like I said, I can't diagnose her by myself, or before whatever you gave her wears off. It requires weeks of observation, Desmond, and constant lab work."

"Fuck that," Desmond spat across the room.

"Why are you so invested in this woman?" Stuart asked.

"Why are you so invested in her?" Desmond echoed, looking at me. My eyes performed a slow roll.

"Because she's my patient, unlike the total wreck of your imaginary relationship." Stuart took his time to speak, every word thorny in meaning but delivered in his usual calm voice. "Now, you either let the team in on Doctor Valentina's situation, or go back up and let her take paracetamol until you think there's a need for her to be down here. Give her your own sunscreen instead of the standard island one. Stop playing doctor when you aren't one—do you know how painful damaged ribs are?"

Desmond looked away and packed away Valentina's body in silence. When Desmond finally left the room, Stuart shook his head at the closing door. "So sorry about that, Ira. How are your eyes now?"

I smiled up at him even when he shone a bright beam into my semi-functioning pupils. "They're fine."

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