Path of Endurance chapter 15
Brianna had hardly laid her bag on her desk when the chief demanded to see her in his office. The chief was ye-average-chauvinist pig with an endless cigar in his mouth, and a VIP membership in the 'Lei Wulong da supercop' -fanclub. His office smelt like an ashtray and on some occasions, even looked like one; neatness wasn't obviously a part of his vocabulary. Not even the fan on the ceiling was any help, since his door was always closed as well as the windows. The fan only rotated the smoke in his room into a spiral-like figure. It was no wonder there weren't anything but plastic plants in his room.
Every day Brianna hoped he would choke to death in his putrid office.
"Fury, Fury, Fury..." the Chief sang. "You really live up to your name, missy. Now give me an excuse not to put your sweet ass behind the bars immediately."
"Because mine is bigger than yours," Brianna muttered under her breath.
"What was that?"
"You're a real smart ass, kid, and I don't like it. Yesterday we sent Wulong over to your place, to remind you of your civil duty to protect America from terrorists. He comes back with his whole body black-and-blue, and with no information about the freaking codename Yoshimitsu! You wanna explain what happened?"
"Why don't you ask him?"
"Well ain't we cute today, Fury. I tell you what ? welcome to the first day of the rest of your suspension."
"Suspension?" Brianna cried out. "For what?"
"Misconduct! Now beat it, before I... -"
Suddenly, the door of his office flew open and Wulong stormed in with a few bandages over his face. "Morning chief, detective Fury..." he said. "Sorry I'm a bit late."
"Don't stress yourself Wulong, I was just sending her sorry ass away from here because of yesterday," the chief grinned.
"Oh, you've got it all wrong," Wulong laughed. "She had nothing to do with this!"
Brianna's eyes weren't far from popping out of her skull.
"She hadn't?" the chief was as disappointed as Brianna was surprised.
"By golly, no way!" Wulong said, sitting down on a sofa that was once black, now gray because of the smoke in the room. "You see, I was on my way to her place yesterday alright, but I fell off the stairs when I decided to take a shortcut through the city park. It hurt quite a bit, so I decided I would head to the doctor's right away, and I kind of forgot about her later that day..."
WHAM! The door of the chief's office slammed shut.
"Why, Wulong?" Brianna growled as she ran after Wulong who had gotten a head-start out. "Why were you covering me? What do you want from me?"
"A little gratitude wouldn't hurt," Wulong grinned without stopping on his tracks.
"Bite me. Cut the bullshit and get to the point."
Lei turned on his heels, nearly bumping into Brianna who was closer than two feet from him. She kept her distance while Wulong sighed, as if all the worries in the world were his. "Derek's dead," he finally managed to say. Brianna raised her brow in a slight surprise. "Your partner?" she clarified. "The one sent after the international mafia?"
"The one and same," he said. "His cover was blown and he was executed... by a thug named Bruce Irvin."
Brianna gasped ? she couldn't believe it; the Bruce Irvin that taught her kickboxing? As if he was reading her mind, Wulong continued: "Yes, the very same man that claimed teaching you kickboxing, even though your style differs very much from his. Don't let the timid behavior fool you; he also confessed murdering Derek."
"He got caught already?"
"Confessing isn't always a result of getting caught."
Brianna sat down on her desk. "I still don't understand what the hell this has got to do with me," she said, avoiding all emotion. "You don't need me to ID Irvin."
"Remember the King of Iron Fist tournament I mentioned?"
"They're holding a re-match; the second tournament has already been announced, and Irvin's participating. I'm going in after him."
At the very same moment Brianna understood what Wulong was trying to say ? if there would be a second King of Iron Fist tournament, Yoshimitsu would surely be in. Not only Wulong was trying to nail Bruce Irvin, but codename Yoshimitsu as well!
"Don't you dare!" Brianna cried out, leaping from the desk and pinning Wulong on the wall. "Leave him alone! You can hang Irvin by his balls for all I care, but don't you lay a finger on...!"
An awkward silence took over the usually quite noisy office as even the spiders in the corners stopped to look at Brianna's sudden raging. They were used to her somewhat psychotic behavior while arresting criminals, but never ever had she assaulted a comrade before. Relatively quickly Brianna gathered herself together and let go of Wulong. "What're you lookin' at?" she growled at the rest of the crew.
Out of the blue the same, devastating shaking took over Brianna's body again. Without saying a word, she ran into the ladies' room, locking the door after her just before her legs gave in again and she fell on all fours. The shaking threw her body around mercilessly, forcing her to sit down and lean against the cold wall. All she was able to do was to hope the seizure would end before she would lose consciousness once again. Meanwhile Wulong had ran after her. "Brianna?" he called through the door. "Are you alright?"
Knowing her voice would give her condition away, Brianna choose to remain silent. Wulong persistently knocked the door for ages. "Brianna, I'm coming in soon."
As Wulong's lockpick twisted in the lock, the shaking had already ceased and Brianna just sat on the floor, leaning on the wall with her head pressed down. A slight depression had taken over, along with the merciless feeling of weakness. "Brianna... are you alright? You look paler than usual," Wulong inquired, crouching down. Brianna sighed. "I'm fine," she muttered. "Just... a little tired. Could you just leave me be?"
"Sounds like a somewhat epilepsy to me."
Brianna tied her hair into a loose ponytail and wore her sweater while an illegal organ market owner named Janet Dickinson checked her MEG and X-Ray results. "What's this...?" Janet suddenly gasped. "There's something stuck inside your skull."
"A piece of a beer bottle," Brianna said, noting a pack of cigarettes on the doc's table. "May I?"
"Knock yourself out. You do realize that beer is supposed to be taken internally?"
Brianna took one of the cigarettes and lit it. "So what's the deal?"
The doc took the pics off the wall. "Epilepsy," she confirmed. "A chronic, neurological condition that is characterized by..."
"I mean can you cure me."
The doc sighed heavily and lit a cigarette. "Well, there are known surgical treatments to this..."
"Then let's get on with it."
"It would probably kill you."
The doc sighed yet once again. "I can't say for 100% sure, but my guess is that your epilepsy originates from that shattered glass in your head. It could be removed, but since it apparently has been there for quite some time..."
"Two years..." It all came back to Brianna in a single flash; the argument with Cary, Bryan's illness and the sudden pain in her head before everything blacked out. Sometimes she felt it had happened to someone else, like it had been a story she heard, but it times like these the cold truth was once again smacked into her face; she was the one who suffered the pain damage and became a psychopath.
Brianna's eyes lingered through the dark basement that was now a makeshift surgery room combined with a lab and some other rooms you might find in a decent hospital. The doc went on yammering about the dangers of the surgery while Brianna herself was definitely somewhere else. She remembered blasting herself through the basement doors a few months ago, when some weasel had dropped the dime on this illegal institute. The doc was operating a young girl, about Bryan's age, with the girl's mother just far enough to not see the blood. She had learned that the girl suffered of a bad heart condition, and that the mother or her family had not afforded a legal transplant. Brianna had fought her consciousness for a good while before taking out her radio and informing the rest of the crew that she hadn't found anything suspicious. When she had returned to the doc's basement, she had 'kindly' reminded her that she owe her a favor. Besides, you never know when you need allies that work underground.
"As I was saying," the doc said and put out her cigarette. "I would suggest that you try and treat the seizures with a specific medication. There is a black market just around the corner, there is a Vietnamese woman who sells all kind of medical stuff. She's a friend of mine, if I call her I think she can get the pills for you by tomorrow morning."
"How much do they cost?" Brianna breathed out the cigarette fumes. She was already feeling dizzy and the ill-tasting cigarette didn't help it.
"The drug is extremely similar to Valium," the doc explained. "But it's only used in hospitals, so they are very hard to get..."
"How much?" Brianna roared, but withdrew immediately when a piercing pain ran through her head.
"...130 dollars," the doc muttered. "Per bottle."
"Great..." Brianna sighed. "How am I ever gonna afford those bitches?"
"Well, you see, the bottle is not from the smallest end, and you only need to take the pills when the seizure is starting," the doc explained, trying to cheer the depressed patient. "I have a theory about what triggers the seizure. You said it first occurred when you kicked that Wulong out of your house, right?"
"And then it appeared when you assaulted him this morning?"
"So what's your theory? I'm allergic to Wulong or something?"
"Tell me how you felt before the seizure started."
Brianna thought about it, seriously this time. She had assaulted him both times, because he had laid a threat on her Hero. She had just stood up to defend him, and... she admitted she had been somewhat upset. No, very upset, to tell the truth. "I was... upset," she admitted, putting out the cigarette. "You think that's what triggers the seizure, huh?"
"Stress and extreme emotional changes are known to trigger different neurological conditions, such as epilepsy and migraine," the doc sat down onto a table to relax her feet. "The pills are able to put an end to incoming seizure, but the best thing you are able to do is to avoid getting upset. You must control your temper, otherwise the seizure is sure to come."
Brianna grabbed her jacket while standing up from the table. "By tomorrow?" she checked.
"Tomorrow morning, the black market two blocks from here," the doc said. "130 bucks, in cash, sharp. Sure you can afford?"
"You worry about the pills, I'll worry about the money, okay!" Brianna growled.
"Tut-tut, the temper!" the doc snapped. "Now remember, Brianna, the less you get upset, the better. I'll call the dealer immediately, you go home, have a bath and relax. Tomorrow morning."
Brianna was exhausted when she got back home. Every time the epilepsy had occurred, she had felt tired and depressed afterwards. She felt like a useless wreck. Since she didn't own a bath tub, she took a shower, wrapped herself into a warm bathrobe and collapsed onto the sofa, letting a deep sigh escape through her lips. Her thoughts raced; how on earth she was supposed to gather up 130 bucks by the next morning?
"Waaaaait a minute -" she thought suddenly, sitting up. "Wasn't it payday today?" She grabbed the phone from the table and quickly tapped in Wulong's beeper's number. Almost immediately the phone rang. "You beeped?" Wulong's voice inquired. Apparently, he was a little bitter of Brianna's assault, and she understood it perfectly.
"Wulong, listen, I'm sorry about what I did," she muttered, feeling extremely awkward since the feeling of apologizing was as artificial as was the Hero's left hand. "But, uh, do I afford to ask you a favor?"
"I have a feeling you'll ask anyway."
"It was payday today, wasn't it? Could you bring my pay over?"
"Why not come get it yourself?"
"I... feel a little sick, Wulong. You saw me, I'm not well."
"Apparently. I weren't the only one."
"The chief has ordered you to take a drug test ASAP. He said you act like a junkie doll, and I have to partially agree with him."
"Huh, a junkie? Why don't you ask that smart-ass how the hell could I afford drugs when I can hardly pay our rent, our food, let alone Bryan's school?"
The world took a spin around Brianna, who fell off the sofa extremely loudly. She no longer heard Wulong's voice from the phone, nor Bryan's rapid footsteps as he ran into the living room, only to find his Sis shaking violently on the floor.
When Brianna regained her consciousness the next time, she was staring straight into a ceiling she was sure that wasn't theirs. There was a fancy roof fan spinning silently, and she was lying on a comfortable bed in a comfortable night gown. She was still feeling dizzy, but she couldn't complain. Sitting up to see the room better, she was shocked to see Lei Wulong sitting on a chair, observing her. "You're awake," he said, as if he had been a anesthesia doctor. Brianna was hardly able to whisper his name in her astonishment.
Just then, Bryan walked into the room, and seeing his sister awake he rushed to embrace her, jumping onto the bed next to her. Brianna felt like crying ? shedding tears into her brother's short, white hair, but repelled the emotion almost that instant, focusing in soothing the shocked Bryan. "Sis, I was so scared!" he cried, clinging hard into the night gown Wulong had provided her with. "I didn't know what to do, so I asked him to help me!"
"Shh... it's okay, Bryan," she whispered. "It's over now. I'm fine."
Wulong coughed, to get her attention. "When were you going to tell you have epilepsy?" he asked. Brianna shifted uneasily, moving her eyes away from Wulong. She knew she couldn't struggle her way out of the situation; she was tired and weak, even insanely depressed. "I... I wasn't aware of it, until today," she whispered. "After the... incident today... I went to see... a friend of mine, who is a doctor... she diagnosed epilepsy."
Her icy blue eyes met the warm, blue eyes of Wulong. "But, Wulong ? you mustn't tell anyone," she said, fear making her voice tremble. "If I lose this job, I can't make enough money to afford our living. You must understand this!"
A tear was making its way towards her cheek, but she was still able to restrain them. Wulong let out a heavy sigh, but then nodded. "I understand," he said, as softly as if he could have triggered her seizures with his voice. "But, you do realize that now that I know, I'm partly responsible, right?"
Brianna shook her head. "No, Wulong, you don't have to-"
"No buts, Brianna," he interrupted a little more loudly. "After I return from the tournament, I will assign you as my partner. That way I can keep an eye on you. You okay with that?"
Brianna sighed, running her fingers through Bryan's hair. "I do not think I have a choice," she said. Wulong nodded in content and stood up. "Good. Now, get some sleep. You pay check's in on the kitchen desk when you need it."
Just then Brianna realized, that she was in Wulong's apartment. Worse yet, in his bed, and probably wearing his ex's night gown, but she was too tired to care, too tired to even grimace in disgust. "Where are you going to sleep?" she felt obligated to ask.
"I have a guest bed. A little less comfortable than my own, but not uncomfortable by any means. And I trust you and your brother fit in just fine...?"
"'Course," Brianna replied, lying back down. Bryan snuggled under the willow, laying his head over Brianna's chest. She wrapped her arm around him and closed her eyes, very soon falling asleep.