Small Favor


linderman_icon.gif matt_icon.gif

Scene Title Small Favor
Synopsis Matt awakens in St. Luke's Hospital with the head of the Linderman Group at his bedside.
Date September 24th, 2008

St. Luke's Hospital

St. Luke's Hospital is known for its high-quality care and its contributions to medical research. Its staff place an emphasis on compassion for and sensitivity to the needs of their patients and the communities they serve. In addition to nearby Columbia University, the hospital collaborates with several community groups, churches, and programs at local high schools. The associated Roosevelt Hospital offers a special wing of rooms and suites with more amenities than the standard hospital environment; they wouldn't seem out of place in a top-rated hotel. That said, a hospital is a hospital — every corridor and room still smells faintly of antiseptic.

Who knows how long it's been since Matt Parkman slipped out of the waking world. To him, it seems like ages.

The first things he's aware of are simple. For one, Matt knows he is no longer lying on the pavement of a dark alley. He's also aware that his right shoulder is throbbing dully, and the pain echoes in his head like the sound of a rubber ball hitting a wall over and over again. Matt is also aware of the discomfort that comes from the needle in his remaining arm and the tubes rubbing across his face that pump oxygen into his nostrils. He's aware, painfully, that he still has his remaining three limbs.

Once stock has been taken, Matt slowly opens his eyes, afraid of the blinding brightness of full awareness.

Matt has good reason to be afraid. While both his mind and body survived their encounter with Huruma in the Upper West Side, their future is less certain. When the world finally comes into focus, the agent finds himself in a small room that smells strongly of bleach and other, lesser known sterilizing agents that Matt probably won't recognize. Apart from the life support apparatus to which he is connected, he appears to be alone.

And, as Matt knows well, appearances can often be deceiving.

"Ah," says voice, thick with mirth, "wonderful. You're awake."

Sterilizing scents mean a hospital, which is a comforting thing. That means that the various pieces of medical equipment are, in fact, medical equipment. Even if it is the hospital wing of one of Primatech's branches, someone found him, or someone called someone so that Matt wasn't left to die in that alley.

All of these things are well and good.

Ethereal voices that don't carry the echoey quality of mental transmission, however, aren't.

The words stiffen Matt's spine as he strains to turn his head despite the pain radiating from his shoulder. "Who…where are you?" Disoriented people generally don't like to have their senses messed with. As Matt gropes about with his eyes, he also focuses his mind to turn up the volume knob on the old 'thought radio' as it were.

Is it easier for you to communicate this way? asks the voice, softer now, ringing in his head rather than in his ears. I sometimes forget. My gift is so much different than your own.

The sound of a chair scraping across the linoleum floor fills the room, and a moment later a rosy-cheeked man with white hair comes into view. How do you feel?

Rather than immediately respond, Matt only stares at the older man in disbelief. His thoughts are only a fraction ahead of his voice, but the businessman of sorts is sure to hear both in turn, giving the agent a 'broken record' effect.

"Mr. Linderman." Shock is evident in his voice and face, but it is mixed with confusion. Truth be told, thinking is much easier than filling his lungs with more of that provided oxygen, stretching his now bandaged abdomen and intensifying the dull pain there. I'm alive. It hurts, but…it's better than being dead.

There are some who would disagree with that assessment. Luckily for you, I'm not one of them. Linderman reaches out and places his hand on Matt's leg, giving him just enough of a squeeze for the pressure to register. It was touch and go for awhile, understand. The paramedics didn't think you were going to live, but I was able to convince them otherwise. You should be back on your feet in about a week.

"Thank you," Matt says after swallowing. He blinks, and the squeeze to his leg is the pinch he needs to reaffirm that he is, in fact awake. "Any leads on her?" Who 'her' is, Matt leaves as a mystery, but with the amount of loathing in his voice and the laying back of his head into his pillow that comes with the question doesn't leave too many suspects.

"Try not to strain yourself, Agent Parkman. I would hate to see all my hard work go to waste." Linderman gives Matt's leg a firm pat and then rises to his feet, glancing in the direction of the door. "Your associates over at Primatech Research have a fairly good idea who's responsible for your… ah, current state. Rest assured, they're doing everything in their power to see that justice is served."

If it weren't for his access to Linderman's file with Homeland Security, Matt's knowledge of the older man's ability would have been limited to what he has stated publicly. "You didn't have to… do what you did, sir," he says, wincing halfway through. It seemed a thing that needed to be voiced, after all. How bad is it? he adds, but this time, the agent's trembling fear is audible, palpable beneath the words. He hasn't looked at that side of him yet, at least not directly. Sure, he can feel the bandages, but Matt is clinging to the ghostly whispers of a limb that isn't there that should be.

"No," Linderman agrees. "I didn't, but a man with my credentials likes to have friends in high places. It's good for business, and my business is important to me. The only thing I ask for in return is a small favor — one that I can call in at a later date. Does that sound agreeable?" Either Matt doesn't put enough energy into his unspoken question for Linderman to hear it, or the older man chooses to ignore him. The full extent of his injuries isn't something that Matt needs to be burdened with, not yet.

Previous experience, though it seems like ages ago now, has taught Matt that once you get on Linderman's good side, you stay there. You don't say no, you don't try to weasel your way out — or a leggy blonde woman will come and drop you flat, or worse. Matt only nods, swallowing quietly. "The least I can do," he breathes, narrowing his eyes as if searching for any hints at what that favor might be.

I warned you not to strain yourself. Linderman's voice, though disembodied, is low and teasing. You'll know when the time is right.

A sharp knock at the door interrupts his train of thought and he turns, a smile on his reddish face. "That would be Detective Damaris," he murmurs. "I have to give Commissioner Lau credit for this one. Emotional involvement isn't always better, but… you should be safe, as long as she remains posted outside your door."

Kaydence…that means she won't see Matt in his current state, but whether that is a good or a bad thing is left for interpretation. A lazy smile slides onto Matt's face as he puffs a bit of air before wincing slightly. Are visiting hours over, sir? The question is an attempt at humor, and after a beat or two, Matt segues into his previous question. How bad? The paramedics thought there was little hope, but Linderman had been close enough to force them to keep him…well, in whatever state he was in that gave them such little hope.

"Bad," Linderman says, shaking his head as he moves toward the door. There's no use ignoring the elephant in the room if Matt is going to be so persistent about it. "But not so bad that you won't recover. As I said, you should be on your feet again in about a week." His hand on the doorknob, he pauses. "I've already done all I can for your arm."

All of those horrible noises in the alley replay in Matt's mind. Wrenching. Tearing. Cracking. He winces as he takes a shuddering breath, but he grits his teeth. "Thank you, sir," he says, and he means every word of it. "I'll make it up to you."

"Yes, you will." The door opens, allowing the bustling sounds of the outside hallway — muffled until this moment — to filter into Matt's room. Then, just as abruptly, it closes again, leaving the wounded man alone with the sound of his labored breathing and the steady pulse of the machinery keeping him alive.

Matt doesn't lift his head to watch Linderman leave the room, but he does listen. When the door clicks back into place, the agent releases a breath he didn't even know he was holding. Slowly, he curls his left hand into a fist, the right a whisper of sensation. Ghost limb. A frown washes over Matt's face, wrinkling his brow and pulling down the corners of his mouth — adding five years to his appearance.

September 23rd: Ah Have A Plan
September 24th: Wounds of All Sorts
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