Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Epoch: Chapter 18

The Med Lab was probably one of the most brilliant things in medical science Kevin had ever borne witness to; his father had supposed, even into Kevin’s pre-teens that he would follow in his footsteps; that he would become every bit the doctor that he was. Sullivan Meadehurst, M.D., had been one of the most difficult people to please, in general, Kevin had found. And, of course…in his youth, Kevin had discovered every way possible, without direct aim, to displease the man.

Kevin’s mother had only been able to provide some subtle comfort to her son in his very specific gifts; Cutlery. Sensitivity. Rebuke for what was his father’s disdain was…threat only. The man was far too busy to reprimand directly. The isolated sting of being…useless, ineffectual…that had been all the rebuke Kevin could stand. He hadn’t spoken to his father for years. Years. And not even the time had healed anything about their relationship. They really…had none. Kevin’s mother had been the one to keep the family glued together.

Anna Wellspring Meadehurst…Kevin’s mother…she’d been…more than supportive. Had loved Jonothan beyond repair. That alone had been everything. It should be split up, shouldn’t it? One’s privileges among the parents. The acceptance. It should all be segmented and separated into neat rows. Right? Kevin’s mother had been killed in a mugging six months or so before Jon’s death.

Art by Kitano Smith

The loss of his mother had made Kevin careless; the hatred, the dismissal of his father – such a good surgeon, such a great trauma specialist – had made him bold. Reckless. Amazing. Some things, Kevin hated…others still, he realized he would’ve been wrecked without. Jonothan’s love. His father’s utter horror in him. Aramis’ teachings. His mother’s acceptance. All of these things, Kevin had relied upon to find definition in his young life, though shunning whatever had been the most accepted without true understanding. None of it mattered, none of it made sense without acknowledgement of self; what was true self.

The fact that Kevin was of the homosexual persuasion made little matter if not directly applied to his friends, family. Profession mattered not at all. He could cut, he could cleave without stipulations upon his personal life. But the private, the inter-personal…? It bore witness to bare social provinces without the addition of…truth. Nothing mattered without context. And none of the Smiths current…judged him…upon such things. Other aspects…? Sure.

“Hey, Target practice?,” Dan said as the group walked into the main lobby of what was the Medical Laboratory…Ad nauseum Kevin paused, looking at Dan without even the slightest bit of trepidation. The comment was now only…Dan. Accepting him for what he was. Thus, Dan continued.

“This is way beyond what you were used to…? Huh.”

Kevin actually smiled. He’d been a paramedic. A very long time ago. For…fun. After Jon. After…all else had been pale and ridiculous in its mediocre candor. Aramis Cate had even supported the effort. Commended it. Certain things would always be useful. Even the maintenance of life was useful in bouts…and especially confused when one’s purpose was the taking of life.

Aramis had altruistic means in his business arrangements. Personal arrangements. Kevin only vaguely recalled the time he had been injured in the worst way while Jonothan had still been alive; he’d been stabbed through the back, the right shoulder blade, nearly…in a late night battle. The calm, the void of the post midnight hours…had been reverend. Nearly holy…however… The blood had been let out freely, and without regret.

The proper ramifications, though, had been served up. Aramis and Jon had taken care of the battle’s remains; the ones who’d caused such grievous injury. Had it mattered? Of course. Had Kevin been aware of these things as they’d happened? Not at all. He’d been conscious, and even….perceptive of some aspects of the events. But had he cared? Never. Jon and his mentor had been there. That’s what had mattered most in the smear, the time before the blackout had occurred.

Three days later, Kevin had awakened, healing, Jon by his side. Kevin missed his best love without ceasing. Without effort. But none of that bore impact now. Jon was dead. And no amount of personal death…had reunited Kevin…with…?

“Don’t you have something pathetic and brooding to say?,” Dan kept on going. Kevin smirked, somehow, expecting a direct reprimand in his humor, out of place as it was.

“If I did, this place wouldn’t be responsible for the regeneration of the lot of us, would it?,” Kevin said.

“Pshhhh,” Dan snorted. “You could be brooding and pathetic anywhere, anyhow. Period. Whatever.”

Kevin still smiled. Perhaps Dan had noticed…the fact…He’d been upset. More than upset. Distressed. Worried. Kev doubted Dan gave any such damn about his issues personally, but if Kevin was diminished enough to be a distraction….? Dan would give way to compassion as an individual over annihilation as a team. Well…then…? Maybe not. Definitely not. The Union had changed elements. Certain all-consuming elements. Like…mortality. Dan rarely cared who was left standing, as long as…he, himself…

“Right, Dan. Sure. And obviously…,” Kevin looked at Dan fully, even through his shades. “Brooding and pathetic are your strong suits.”

Dan actually…smirked.

Art by Dcat

“Hey…,” he said. “That’s the most brilliant verbal comeback you’ve ever launched at me. Guess you should’ve tried to ring the bell a couple times after you got that ‘this kid’s about to gun me down,’ feeling. Huh.”

Then, Kevin gave Dan another narrow-eyed look.

“Okay, oops,” Dan semi-apologized.

As the group of Smiths completed their long trek down the main entrance hallway of the place, there was suddenly a person at the approach; it wasn’t a violent approach, at all. He was very much…excited. Kind. Looked to be in his late thirties. Then…it was painfully obvious.

Con ‘looked’ up at Emir, sure he already knew the answer to the question he was about to ask.

“That’s Window, isn’t it?,” he said. Anticipating such. Then, he waited. For about another four seconds. Maybe not that long….? Probably. Emir was smiling, but had no time to respond to Con first.

“Oh, welcome,” the man said, actually dressed in what were probably the nicest scrubs Con had ever perceived. The tie was silk, and probably of a good quality; Harman’s ties had always been nicer than necessary. This tie was proper, very nice…yet…workable. Tied with a good deal of human fallibility. Con liked Window immediately. He had blonde/gray hair, and the smile of someone who was always trying to find the better qualities in people, despite of what had transpired in his life, or the lives of people he’d encountered. This alone bore the signs of an advanced lifetime. That…or an advanced being. Both? Sure. Certainly.

“Emir…,” Doctor Window St. James. smiled. “You’re early, aren’t you?”

“Not at all,” Emir answered honestly. “I’m not necessarily on time, but…”

“Oh, that’s enough, then. It’s been…such a week. Hasn’t it. Such a ‘several weeks’. Right?”

“Yes,” Con answered with humor.

Window looked to the slim, smiling teenager, knowing full well…who he was. Win smiled with such a deeper quality to the expression, Con couldn’t help but be interested in the response that would come of it.

“Oh-Con? Con,” Window said, reassuring himself. The seemingly thirty-something doctor smiled effortlessly. “I’m sure…I can’t even proceed without perceiving your exhaustion at ‘hello’. But I can at least…try.” Window smiled again. It wasn’t in that forced way that people would when they were uncomfortable; it was in honest, true…humor. Con felt Window’s ribs flex to give room for his ‘heartstrings’; it was a motion of joy. Of…excitement. Con smiled then…knowing honest intent when he perceived it.

“You can succeed,” Con quipped. “Everyone can ‘try’.” Con didn’t break his smile. And Window chuckled, delighted.

“Well put,” he said. “Welcome, all of you. You’re part of the reason I was born, I believe.”

“I’ve heard such before,” Kevin said, folding his arms…though keeping a light demeanor.

“The father figure simply…changed his mind as the progression became one he didn’t favor.”

“Your father wasn’t the innovator you are, Kevin,” Window said sadly. “Nor was he the force a Smith usually is. That’s very unfortunate, considering his medical prowess. He’s one of the most renowned…you know.”

Kevin shook his head, chuckling.

“Of course. I wouldn’t expect the bastard to be dead, after all the holding on he did to the affects of modern life. My god. He didn’t even acknowledge the fact my mum…” Kevin stopped suddenly. And even Dan raised his eyebrows at the Brit.

“Where…? Where are you from,” Kevin drastically changed the subject. “Got…Teddington in you.”

Window smiled. “I’ve got about thirty years of a British spouse in me, lad. And…I guess between the two of us…her time in Teddington does seep through.” Win beamed. “Though god knows how California sounds to her friends.”

“Family can always tell what you’re dating,” Dan said, non-plussed. He eyed Window; seemed…to know. Emir eyed him; Dan actually met Emir’s eyes…realizing he should be aware of something crucial that he wasn’t. This would change. Quickly. But not this moment.

“That’s the glory of moving out and holidays, Dan,” Window said, without missing a beat. “Once you’re out of the house…? It doesn’t matter who’s passing the turkey.”

Even Kaede chuckled then, at Win’s comment. Kevin smiled warmly at her, as she glanced at him.

“Are we even near a holiday?,” Coyote chimed in, suddenly. “I don’t think it’s come up…dates and…well, I guess we covered the ‘year’ aspect.” Con cocked his head at Coyote carefully, but the ‘thief’ nodded assurance to the much younger Smith.

“Oh, Lord, Emir. You did tell them…?,” Window stopped short, as Emir shrugged.

“Perhaps…I forgot to mention…”

“Oh, of course you did,” Window scolded. Then, he sighed. “Emir…how will I ever cope until Shell returns if you can’t…”

Then, Emir shot a fierce look in Win’s direction. But it was too late. Emir would’ve felt Dan’s look from a world away. How many Teddington born doctors were there in this realm of possibility…that were named…’Shell’? Hundreds. Thousands. Sure. Why not. And Dan was looking at him. Like a fierce deity without a legion. However…no sound, no reprimand came outright. Emir doubted even…any of the others had picked up on the slip. Con was peering back and forth between the three of them, though; Dan, Emir and Window. He knew something was upsetting Dan. That…was rarely a secret when it occurred, however.

“It’s July,” Window then volunteered. “I know…it was November last to all of you. And…a Philadelphia November, at that. This weather will be a bit milder to all of you, I feel.”

“I’d wager that you’re right, amigo,” Mask responded finally. Window nodded, seeming further amused.

“If I ‘wagered’ at all, then I’d bet July against November any time, Enrique,” he said. Ric nodded his approval immediately.

“A summer out of place is it’s own trump card, is it not, doctor?,” he said. Win was silent for long moments before his response. All waited.

“Life, death, summer, fall…all seasons have their trump, do they not?”

“I like him,” Con nodded to Coyote, spoke loudly enough for all present to hear. Also, a normalcy.

“Thanks for that, punk,” Dan narrowed his eyes at Window, perceiving details of truth he didn’t yet grasp in a death grip. “We’re all enamored with your breath sounds.”

“Well, I am,” Window spoke, earnestly. “Perhaps it’s a detail for the rest of you. For me? All of your breath sounds are nothing less than….miracle.”

Dan openly rolled his eyes. Then…he looked sharply at Emir.

“Is this altruistic bullshit the norm in ‘the future’” – Dan waved his arms in a sci-fi ‘Day the earth stood still’ method – “ or…can I just start drinking now? I…I know there’s at least going to be some college outlet of alcoholic degradation. Come on.

“Actually,” Emir spoke flatly. “That’s Window’s bullshit. I’ve known him for over a decade. Christ knows he means what he says, but…,” And even Emir sighed dramatically. “Just tell me when you’re drinking.”

Con laughed again, outright. Win seemed wounded, even frowned, as if pouting. It wasn’t a serious pout.

“Well, let’s just see who we dedicate the next chapel to, Emir. Really. I’m a man apart, here. With Cali roots and little to no action lately.” Then, Dan smirked, nearly chuckled.

“There,” Window said. “I recognize that from the stories.”

It was then that Emir shot what Con knew was a warning glance; the muscles of the face always scream silently, in horror, with such an expression. Facial muscles were certainly vocalizing currently. This, of course, piqued the curiosity in Con…and he knew Dan, somehow, had a bright spark of the same interest with his own realization of the process.

Dan was always aware of the things subtlety alone usually spoke of; this, of course was what ignited the crudest form of fascination in Con; Dan made himself out to be possibly the most ignorant of people. Perhaps, even…purposely. However…Con could always tell. Could feel…when Dan knew. Knew what he did, when no one else knew it. Dan just….knew. It was the simplest of things to perceive. It was quite another thing to….just…get it. No one else did. Maybe they just…couldn’t get it.

“I’ve got a story for you, doc,” Dan said suddenly. “And I’m pretty sure it has at least one tragic ending.”

“Not that we get to deal with here, Dan,” Kevin said unexpectedly. Dan raised an intense eyebrow at the Brit. Held it.

What?,” Kevin asked, nearly sounding wounded. “I should know a tragedy when I see one, hey? Don’t see one here.”

“Uh-huh,” Dan responded, flatly. “Whatever you think will help you sleep at night. And especially…now. With the guilt and all.”

“Go fuck yourself, Dan!,” Kevin uttered, suddenly, very affected. Dan didn’t even smile; he seemed surprised that his comment had hit a mark, actually. He’d been trying to land the target all night, after all.

“Now, boys,” Window started. “That’s hardly necessary. And Kevin…I think you’ll enjoy this leg of the tour, in particular. Maybe, I can even entice you into helping me explain certain aspects.”

“Not ‘bloody’ likely,” Dan snorted.

“Go fuck yourself,” Con repeated, to Dan. In return, Dan shook his head.

“You’d like that…wouldn’t you?,” he said.

Con just laughed, outright. This, of course, made Dan fume.

“Well, now that that’s out of our way,” Window said, finally. “It’s time for an actual tour.”

Dan shook his head again.

“Wow. Be still my heart,” he said.

“I’m sure everything’s still by now,” Kaede said, suddenly. Then, Dan seemed indignant. Appropriately.

“But all that aside,” Window didn’t miss a second. Con chuckled, and Coyote had to smirk along with him.

“It’s time for an actual tour.”

The Smiths collectively…waited. Then Window was beaming at Emir. It was actually funny. Endearing. Funny.

What had Emir gotten himself into.