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" What ?"

Curt's tone was harsh and cold. Owen almost flinched: "C… Chimera. What's wrong?" he added when Curt let out a dark chuckle.

"What's wrong. What's wrong , he asks!!" he laughed, in a bad parody of Owen's accent, " Everything !! Everything is wrong."

His tone went from cold, to mocking, to heartbreakingly pleading: "I'm better now. I… I'm doing better. We should… we should thank Chimera and be on our way now, we've bothered them long enough."

"Curt-"

"Owen, please !"

He felt his heart crack a little. That was the exact same thing he said in his nightmares, in the exact same voice. Did Curt know something about Chimera?

He sat on the edge of the bed and kept a firm hold on Curt's shoulder to prevent him from getting up: "Curt, what's wrong? Have you heard of Chimera before?"

" Before …" Curt repeated, pensively, "I guess you could say that."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm not telling you…"

" Curt !"

"Let me finish!! I'm not telling you, until we're out of here." he smiled, and the dead-eyed stranger was before him once again, "That's the deal."

Under more favourable circumstances, Owen would have agreed with him and been done with it. But these were decidedly not favourable circumstances, and he was running out of options for where to hide. Chimera had been nothing but kind to them. Obviously, Curt's reaction warranted a deeper investigation into their intent and purpose, but until then…

"Give it a couple days, Curt. Just until you're-"

" No !!"

"You're in no shape to travel."

"And you're in no position to tell me what to do."

"Curt…" he shook his head in disbelief, "Curt, love, you can barely stand. You were unconscious for almost a day."

"Still choked a guy alright."

"Yes, about that…" Owen sighed, "You can't just do that."

"Watch me."

"Curt!" he scolded, "What on Earth has the poor boy ever done to you?"

Curt pouted like a child, his normal reaction when he decided that silence was better than admitting to being wrong. Owen resumed his tirade: "You can't attack a stranger and expect me not to lecture you, love. He was trying to help you. So let him."

"But-"

"No, Curt, I'm not done. Since I've arrived here, they've been nothing but kind to you. And…" his voice dropped to a whisper, "And… they don't mind… people like us, here."

That seemed to give Curt pause: "What do you mean?"

"I mean that I've already run into a lesbian who wouldn't stop gushing about her girlfriend and a guy who was knowingly rooming with two bisexuals." Owen deadpanned. Curt froze in his tracks.

"So," he continued, dryly, "I'm sorry for trusting them with your life when I had no other option. I haven't told them about us. But just know that we're safer here than we've ever been with our agencies."

He didn't stand up or storm out. It would've been childish. Besides, Curt seemed calmer.

"Alright." he said, "No more attacking doctors. Just promise me one thing, Owe."

"Yes, dear?"

Curt's face melted into that of the dead-eyed stranger from before: "Promise me you won't join them."

"I-" Owen was taken aback, "Why?"

"I'll explain it. But not here. Not until we're out of here."

Owen couldn't convince him otherwise.

So he gave his word.

 

Henri came in not five minutes later with a scowl on his face. He didn't even let Owen start his usual, rehearsed apology.

"I would appreciate it if you didn't attack my friend. Ever, but especially now. He's still weak."

His tone was ice cold and there was no kindness left in his hazel eyes. Owen felt a sudden, unsettling awareness of how buff the kid was for a nurse, and how he looked like he could snap his arm like a twig if he so desired. And he almost seemed to. But his anger was mostly directed at Curt, who had no reaction at all beyond a small nod and a half-hearted "'kay."

Henri didn't take very kindly to that: "You should rest, Agent Mega. It'll do you no good to strain yourself so early."

Then he was gone.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" asked Owen, and Curt nodded.

"He's mad at you." said Owen, at the same time as Curt sighed: "His friend's been tortured."

Owen's head snapped back: " What ? No!!"

Curt groaned like a student being given homework after the bell: "Come on, Owen, it's not that hard. He seemed more freaked out about losing a button than about being strangled. He's hiding something."

"We don't know what that is, though!" he protested, "For all we know, he's got an embarrassing tattoo."

"Yes, and his fainting spell, poor coordination, and general anxiety are all coincidences." Curt deadpanned.

"They might be!" Owen insisted, "And even if he has been…" he trailed off, "Still!! We don't know what happened to him before Chimera found him. He might've been captured."

"Or," Curt shrugged, "Chimera might be evil."

Owen couldn't help the irritated groan that escaped him: " Why are you so determined that they're evil?"

The stranger smiled at him.

 

Curt had agreed to apologize to the doctor when he next came to visit. Owen did not trust that promise for a second.

The dead-eyed stranger had appeared more and more often since Chimera had found them, and he was terrifying. Owen didn't know how to deal with a complete stranger. A cynical, unyielding, heartless stranger like the one he saw in Curt's eyes sometimes.

His partner allowed the doctor to take a blood sample that time.

"Hey, I'm sorry for attacking you earlier."

"Oh." Damon smiled, shyly, "It's not a problem. It's pretty standard for… well, agents coming off of painkillers."

"I can imagine." Curt nodded, "You ever been on painkillers, Damon? Can I call you Damon?"

"Uh, yes. And yes." the doctor laughed nervously, glancing at the door, "I've been in hospitals before. But I can't say I've ever tried to fight a doctor."

"Good kid." grinned the stranger, "Say, you don't exactly look adventurous. When would you have ended up in a hospital?"

Owen caught on at that moment. He gave the stranger a what the hell are you doing glare, which he didn't respond to. Damon looked like he'd rather be anywhere but there: "Oh, just an accident."

"What kind of accident?"

"Fell from uh… fell from a rope in P.E. once. Broke a few bones."

Curt's tone was sarcastically sympathetic: "Oh, that sounds nasty."

"Well, it was some time ago." Damon smiled, but he was keeping well out of Curt's reach and they both knew it. It was a sound choice, but Curt was strong. Standing a few feet away wouldn't save him.

"You know, Damon…" Curt continued, "I couldn't help but notice you seem a little dizzy sometimes. What's up with that?"

"Low blood pressure."

"Really?"

"Yes. Long time problem."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"It's alright." Damon glanced in Owen's direction, nervously, and that was all it took for Curt. Without hesitation, he raised his hands and clapped them, inches away from Damon's ear.

And Damon was on the other side of the room in a split second. He stared, wide-eyed, at Curt's hands, rattling the doorknob behind his back. The worst of it, though, was his breath, ragged and fast, which almost let them make out the rabbit pace of his heartbeat.

He opened and closed his dry mouth like he wanted to say something, but didn't know where to start. His eyes darted from Curt, to Owen, to the door behind him.

Finally, without a word, he stumbled outside, leaving the door wide open for two nurses to stare at them in confusion.

Curt stretched his arm out to the open door.

"See?"