The journey to the hospital wing of the Lost’s “Agency” – this particular location bore the name of “Sunmote Gardens” – was the same as the trip to Hook’s office, a mix of the almost familiar, overlaid with bright colours, simple magic, and a sense of fun that the corporate atmosphere that the Agency soundly eschewed.
When they turned the last corner towards the main hospital entrance, they walked down a long hall – where a tall nymph in a lab coat stood in front of a window, his face blooming as a sunflower, drinking up the morning rays.
‘Jessa, Erstwhile,’ the doctor said as Hook approached – “Jessa” was the “I’ve already said hello to you today” casual fairy greeting. ‘There’s been no change.’
Hook indicated to her. ‘My young friend here is Agent Mimosa, she’s willing to speak to the boy for us.’
The sunflower doctor turned to look at her for a moment. ‘Mimosa? The name is familiar.’
She shrugged. ‘It’s a drink, and a flower. Most people know one of the two.’
The doctor nodded. ‘Perhaps that’s it.’ His face began human-seeming again, though long yellow petals still layered themselves through his hair. ‘He’s in room seven-oh-three, if you would. We have said that we’re running a number of standard tests. A familiar uniform may do him some good.’
‘Is he freaking out, or-’ She stopped as the doctor looked to her Captain. ‘What?’ she asked, knowing the look was significant.
Doctor Sunflower!face’s look turned grave. ‘I would feel far more settled about this situation, if the boy were more panicked. RIght now, he is resolved and indignant. I feel as though I’m keeping him prisoner,’ he looked to Hook, ‘even though I understand the situation.’
Hook lifted his arm, indicating into the hospital proper. ‘Erstwhile?’ she asked as he fell into step beside her.
‘A nickname, dear heart, it is not my name.’ He gave her a careful look. ‘It is a common thing to call…one’s former companion of the heart, when you are still on good terms.’
She looked back towards the sun-bathing doctor. ‘You dated him?’
For a moment, Hook’s eyes twinkled. ‘For a good number of years, yes.’
They stopped in front of Austin’s room. Hook produced a keycard from his pocket – the most modern item she had ever seen him use – even though some of his magic had likely had a technological origin, and he unlocked the door.
‘Okay,’ she mumbled, ‘one sec.’ She brushed down her vest, then straightened herself as best as she could, trying to look like her father’s daughter, even if being a good agent wasn’t something she had mastered as yet.
She brushed her hair back – its colour and cut were naturally pretty agent-y, but sweeping it back always helped put her in the agent frame of mind.
Hair back, uniform set, she nodded to Hook, and he let her through.
The hospital room was something that wouldn’t have been out of place in the better class of children’s hospital – the bottom half of the wall was a green to evoke fields or storybook hills. There was a window, but unlike the sunny garden that the sunflower doctor had been looking out on, this one showed an ocean. She nodded to herself – it had to be memory glass.
The bed looked like it could have come from any hospital.
And on the bed, sat a young boy with black hair, tan skin, and dead eyes.
‘Austin Reilly?’ she said, putting of much of Ryan into her voice as possible. ‘I’m Agent Mimosa.’
Austin looked up at her. ‘Department?’ he demanded. ‘Agency?’
‘I’m the secondary field under Director Ryan of Brisbane. I’m here to check on you, and to assure you that-’
‘The individual who brought me here was not Agency personnel.’
‘No, Master Reilly, he was not, however, in the circumstances, the manner of your transport was necessary.’
Austin stared at her, and she did her best not to shudder at his horror-movie eyes. ‘Whatever medical tests need to be done can be done in my agency. I demand to see my father. If I do not have proper contact within a reasonable amount of time, I have to surmise that I am being held hostage, and that you, Agent – if that is your rank and title – are complicit.’
‘I assure you, Master Reilly-’
‘I have told you what I require, Agent. Until further notice, I cannot consent to any further tests or conversations.’
‘I understand,’ she said, keeping her voice neutral. ‘Refreshments will be brought to you.’ She bowed her head, and backed out of the room.
She kept her expression agenty until the door lock’s light showed red again. She took a few steps away from the room – a locked door didn’t mean that the child couldn’t listen in, and even if he was only half-agent, his hearing would be of the superhuman variety.
‘Somewhere to breathe,’ she asked.
Hook took her gently by the arm, and lead her to a day room – currently unoccupied. Warm sun streamed in through the windows, and everything seemed so normal, compared to the short exchange with Austin.
‘I see,’ her Captain said, ‘that I do not need to expound on the situation. That is not the boy that cried for his mother, who sought solace in adventure, who…played.’ Hook laid his hand on hers. ‘Please tell me,’ he let out a long breath, ‘that what the System took, it can restore.’
‘I don’t want to promise anything,’ Stef said, ‘I think false hope is probably the worst thing in the world. If you have hope, even if it’s false, you believe…and it breaks you even worse.’ She looked to Hook. ‘Isn’t comfort you area, Captain?’
‘The Lost can seek advice from the Found, dear heart.’