"It's them," Rachel said, waving Nina and Kat down from their positions by the door.
"Of course it's them," said Gary. "I would have told you if it was someone else. Our cameras still work." He flicked his fingers some more and gave up. "There are hardly any signals to watch. That was mean of Parish. To get rid of all the signals. And to make all the people die. Like my mom. And your family," he said toward Rachel. He squinted at the air once more, then went over to the desk where his laptop was sitting and began typing something.
Rachel closed her eyes for a moment, trying to avoid another wave of tears at the reminder. Behind her eyelids, the memory came back in full color, her parents' bodies lying on the floor of the apartment. With so many vehicles—and their motionless drivers—still stranded on the streets, and having to care for Dr. Rosen first, it had taken her a day before she was able to check on them. She could still smell the decay… She blinked rapidly in an attempt to clear her present mind of the memory. There was no use dwelling on the past.
"How is he?" Cameron asked by way of greeting as he came through the door into the room where Rosen lay. He set down his pack on the floor and came to the side of the bed. Bill followed him with several larger ones.
Rachel studied Rosen carefully. His chest still rose and fell in a regular rhythm, and the IV continued to drip nutrients steadily into him. "No change yet," she said with a sigh.
"Were you able to get everything?" Kat asked. She opened Cameron's pack and began rooting around in it.
"Mostly, though I couldn't find—hey, leave it alone, it's organized for carrying," Cameron told Kat.
"You call this organized?" Kat retorted, tilting her head with an incredulous look on her face.
Nina knelt next to one of the duffels Bill had been carrying and began pulling out cans of food to see what they had gotten. She raised her eyebrows and lifted up a can towards Bill. It read "snails".
"Jeannie liked them; she used to make them for dinner once in a while," he said quietly.
Nina's face softened and she nodded. She mimed lifting the packs and pointed towards the side room that served as their storage, with a question mark on her face.
Bill nodded. "Sure." He amped up and carried the two large packs into the storeroom.
"Nina, wait," Cameron called, stopping her from following Bill. He pulled a book out of his inside pocket. "Here, I got you this." The cover read Beginning Sign Language. "Maybe we can all start learning."
Nina smiled as she took the book and set it down in her corner before going into the storeroom to help unload.
"In other words, maybe you all can start learning. I may just need to read the book once," Kat said with a shrug. "Who knows what the lights did to my ability." She zipped up the pack Cameron had brought and began to lift it. "Then you can send Nina with me on missions because we'll be able to communicate silently." She struggled to lift the pack onto her shoulders; Cameron shook his head and rescued her. "Hey!" she protested.
"You might be Quantico-trained, but it doesn't make up for the lack of upper body strength," he pointed out. "Muscle memory doesn't work if you don't have the muscles to start with."
She scowled at him. "You going to grab some weight equipment on your next run, then?"
Cameron rolled his eyes and took the pack with him into the storeroom.
Kat came over to the bed where Rachel sat her quiet vigil. "Do you think he'll wake up?"
"The rest of the people who—who lived have, right?" Rachel asked hopefully, and Kat nodded in response. "Maybe it's just because he's older than most of them," Rachel suggested.
"Could be," said Kat. "Hopefully it's soon, so he can start taking care of his own bodily functions." She glanced at the tube snaking out of his pants to the waste bag hanging on the side of the bed; learning how to insert the catheter had been one of the more unusual applications of her ability.
Nina came back out of the storeroom and held out her ever-present pad of paper. It read: "lunch?"
Rachel nodded. "You can sit with Dr. Rosen, then. Come on, Kat."
"Does this mean another cooking lesson? You make me feel so domestic…" Kat's voice echoed from down the hallway.
Nina lifted one of Rosen's limp hands in hers and rubbed it gently. When she was sure no one else was in earshot, she whispered, "Come on, Lee, wake up. We need you with us." As she watched, his eyes fluttered and began to open. "Gary," she whispered a little louder.
Gary looked up from his typing and hurried over at the sound of Nina's voice. "Oh, Dr. Rosen, you're awake."
Nina waited till it looked like he was fully awake, then told him, "Do what you want," to release him from the push.
Gary continued, "You were asleep for days, and they had to put a tube in you so you could pee."
Nina grinned a little at Gary's bluntness. Trust Gary to state what no one else would mention.
Rosen's eyes slowly cleared from their confused state to the lucidity usually present. "Wha—what happened?"
Before Gary could answer, Nina tapped him on the shoulder and pointed down the hallway.
"Oh, yeah, I should call them." Gary got up and went to the doorway. "Hey, Dr. Rosen woke up," he called. "You should come talk to him."
Bill, Cameron, and Rachel came running into the room and surrounded Rosen's bed. Nina raised her eyebrows at Rachel in a question. "Oh, Kat's stirring the pot on the stove so it doesn't burn," Rachel said in response to the unspoken query.
Rosen looked around at all of them. "I feel as if I've missed a lot. Bill?"
Bill took a deep breath. "Parish's big plans were to set off photostims across the continent. He connected them to the power grid somehow. You remember us working late trying to figure out what he was up to?"
Rosen nodded slowly.
"They went off at 8:18 on October 22."
"What day is it now?" Rosen asked.
"The 27th," Cameron answered.
Rosen's face registered shock. "That was five days ago? And I've been unconscious this whole time?"
"You were lucky, Dr. Rosen," said Rachel. "Most people who weren't Alphas…" She glanced down and away.
"Oh no," he whispered.
"As best as we can tell, anyone who was an Alpha just got boosted like Rachel did," said Cameron. "Anyone who wasn't an Alpha, well, the few that survived, they're Alphas now. You probably have an Alpha ability now and you just don't know what it is."
"Maybe his ability is like Dani's, because he was her father. You said Alpha abilities are genetic," Gary added to Rosen directly. He turned to face Cameron. "And Tyler's is like yours."
"That does seem to be the case," Rosen said. He glanced over at Nina, who still held one of his hands in hers. "Is there something wrong with your voice?"
"Oh, it's her ability, Dr. Rosen," Gary said. "The lights made it so she pushes everyone when she talks now. Except for me. I'm the only one who gets to hear her voice now."
"We're going to learn sign language, so she can communicate without gestures or pencil and paper," Rachel said.
Rosen tightened his hand a little on Nina's. "What's the situation out there?" he asked.
Bill made a face. "On one hand, with so many people dead, there's plenty of food and other supplies everywhere just for the taking. And Parish seems to have figured out how to keep the electricity and other utilities running. Even the internet."
"And it's every man for himself out there, and you can't walk ten feet without passing by a dead body," Cameron said. "Not to mention there's crashed cars everywhere you look and the occasional fire or sewer leak. In other words, it's chaos, and we'll be neck deep in disease if we don't start figuring out something to do with all the bodies."
"It's not our business—" Bill began.
"No one is going to bury them because they're all dead," Cameron argued. "The rats are already getting fat on them."
"Stop it, please," Rachel cried, covering her face with her hands.
"Enough," said Rosen. "Who survived of the people we know?"
"You're looking at us, doc," said Bill. "Plus Kat," he gestured, as she entered the room to join the others surrounding Rosen's bed.
"Your wife?" Rosen asked.
Bill shook his head silently.
"Rachel?" Rosen turned to her.
She shook her head as well. "We've been living here, at the office, because of the security. To stay together." She tried not to think of the freezer in the restaurant across the street, stuffed with all the bodies they couldn't figure out what to do with. She had tried to help the others move them until she saw John's body, after which she spent the next hour crying by the side of Rosen's bed.
"Tyler's alive, though," said Cameron. "In Vegas. And now that you're awake, can you tell Bill that everyone's safe enough without me? Patti didn't make it, and Tyler's all alone, living in a house with a corpse."
"We're a team, Hicks. And this team needs you," said Bill.
"Yeah, and you don't have anyone else to look after. My kid needs me."
Bill's fist came up suddenly and would have hit Cameron's face had Rosen not interrupted with a decisive order. "Bill, Cameron, stop!"
They froze, Bill's arm in midair, Cameron already ducking the punch. They stared speechlessly at him.
"Whoa," said Kat, blinking in surprise.
"I think you found your Alpha ability, Dr. Rosen," said Rachel. "When you said stop, I could feel this—this really strong emotion. Of disapproval," she added.
Rosen smiled. "Well, then let me make it clear," he said, struggling to sit up. Nina helped him rise to a seated position. "We are a team. You need to remember this, Cameron. And right now it sounds like you need us."
"What are you going to do, walk to Vegas?" Kat asked Cameron scornfully. "It's not like you'd find gas stations open anywhere."
"No, walking to Vegas would hardly be advised," Rosen said. "Nor would driving, even if the roads weren't cluttered with wreckage. You would take far too long and there's too much risk of not making it."
"So what are you saying? That I leave Tyler there? Or tell him to walk here?" Cameron crossed his arms.
"Think about it, Cameron. What's the most direct route to Vegas?" Rosen asked.
After a few seconds, Bill shook his head with a little bit of amazement. "Of course. The one big source of survivors who were not Alphas."
Cameron raised his eyebrows. "You're suggesting I fly? I was in the Marines, not the Air Force."
"You might make a good copilot, but no, that's not who I had in mind." Rosen turned to look at Kat.
"Oh no. You are not suggesting that I learn to fly a plane." Kat shook her head. "No, no, no. You've got to be crazy."
"I think you'll do just fine," Rosen said, patting her shoulder. "Gary, I'm sure you can find Kat some training videos to watch?"
"Yeah, I can do that." Gary turned to walk back to where he left his laptop, but halted. "Wait, Dr. Rosen, which plane? There are lots of models, and they have different cockpits. You have to train for the right one."
"I don't know which one yet; look for videos for the small planes first. She can watch those and work up to the larger ones."
Gary nodded and sat back down, absorbed in the computer right away.
Bill shook his head in disbelief. "You serious, doc? We're going to get in a plane, flown by her—" he said, pointing at Kat.
"Hey!" she exclaimed, indignant. "Pilot might not be on my wishlist as far as careers goes but it sounds like that's what you need. I'll learn it just like I learn anything else."
Rosen looked Bill in the eyes. "Yes, Bill, that's exactly what I'm thinking. We'll do this as a team. All of us."
Cameron looked at Rosen, taken aback. "You really believe that. I can feel it."
"Absolutely," he said with a smile. "Now, I smell food. Given the position of the sun, it appears to be lunchtime?"
"Oh! The food! You turned off the stove, right?" Rachel asked Kat, worry radiating off of her.
"Relax, of course I did," Kat said as the two of them hurried back to the makeshift kitchen.
"Since I'm awake now, I presume you won't object to me removing these," said Rosen, preparing to unhook the IV and take the needle out of his arm.
"Uh, yeah, I'll go help them get lunch ready," Bill said, leaving quickly when he realized the other tube to remove was the catheter.
"Uh, same here," said Cameron, following him out.
Nina smiled and squeezed Rosen's wrist before heading the same direction as the others.
"Ha! I found a good source of them. All the flight training videos you need." Gary grinned at the screen, not looking over to where Rosen was concentrating on freeing himself of the last tube. "That's why this is going to work, because we're a team. No matter what."
"You're absolutely correct, Gary," said Rosen. He hung the catheter bag on a spare hook on the IV cart, and rolled it away from the bed. "No matter what." He would wait for them to return before he tried to stand, though. He could take advice from himself once in a while, after all.