Dreamers – Part Four

Getting down to business.  This section picks up right where the previous one left off.  This was written using another picture prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.  (It’s also rather long.)

**

Taurys fell into step with Marian and smiled. “You don’t want to get changed first?” he said, shaking his head.

The other man gave a shrug. “Dr. Beaumont will be cross enough that I’ve taken this long,” he said, shaking his head. Then, in relative silence, he led them through the winding corridors. Taurys could feel that they were moving upward, towards the surface, but he didn’t say anything.

They passed several rooms and Taurys could hear people hard at work inside most of them. Sometimes, he could hear the clatter of keys. Other times, he could hear soft discussions or the workings of machinery. Finally, they reached what was clearly some sort of examination room. Tensing, Taurys looked sharply at Gilbert.

“She’s not going to hurt you,” Gilbert said, his tone clearly meant to reassure. He smiled faintly. “The Cabinet just wants to… you know.”

“Make sure I’m actually in here,” Taurys said, his voice soft. He looked around the room and added, “Verify that I’m not just some sort of very complex computer program, like RX-9 was.”

“Just so,” a new voice said.

Taurys looked towards the speaker. She was a petite woman with short brown hair and dark eyes. She was a little heavy-set, but she looked healthy in spite of that. Her features, while not striking, were even and held a sort of plain-spoken beauty to them. Taurys took in all of this at a glance and then looked towards Gilbert for some sort of introduction.

Gilbert adjusted his glasses. “Dr. Beaumont?” he said, tilting his head slightly to one side. He stepped forward, extending his hand. “I’m Dr. Gilbert Schneider. I’ve read of your work. I find some of your theories simply fascinating.”

“Charmed,” Dr. Beaumont said, taking his hand briefly in her own. “I know of your work as well, Dr. Schneider. I look forward to examining Singer.” As she said the last word, she looked over at Taurys.

Taurys shifted uncomfortably. “Dr. Beaumont,” he said, nodding politely. He fidgeted with his bangs and said, “I… prefer people to use my name.”

Dr. Beaumont regarded him critically for a moment. Then, she nodded. “Taurys, then,” she said. She waved dismissively at the others. “If you would leave us, then I shall begin my examination.”

“Sure thing,” Gilbert said. He smiled at Taurys. “Just be yourself and I’m sure everything will be fine,” he said. He nodded and then Marian escorted him and Felicja out of the room.

Once they were alone, Dr. Beaumont turned away and picked a clipboard up off a nearby counter. “You may undress, Taurys,” she said.

“What?” When she looked over at him with a frown, he felt his cheeks warm. “I can’t… I mean, you’re a woman and that wouldn’t be proper and…” he trailed off. She was a doctor, after all. She wanted to examine him and undressing was a normal part of that. Ducking his head and fidgeting with his hair, he said, “Could I have some privacy, maybe?”

Dr. Beaumont wrote on the page clipped to the board and then nodded. “I will give you a few moments, of course,” she said. She waved towards a cabinet and added, “You will find the gown in there, no?”

“Uh, thank you,” Taurys said, as she turned and left. He heaved a sigh as he shook his head. He rubbed at his brow. “Get hold of yourself, Taurys. There’s no reason to be so shy.” Then, he turned to the cabinet. He found the gown she had spoken of. After shedding his clothing – down to his boxers – he pulled it on and then stepped over to the door.

“Awkward,” he murmured. Then, he peered into the corridor. He gave her an uneasy smile. “All set,” he said, shrugging. “Sorry for the wait.”

“It is no problem,” she said, smiling brightly. Then, she stepped into the room. As he settled on the examination table, she took out a stethoscope and set it against his chest. Taurys heaved a sigh and looked up at the ceiling.

“Dr. Schneider did a fine job with your body,” she said. “It is nearly impossible to tell that you are not… organic.”

“Yeah,” Taurys said, smiling wanly. “Sometimes, I forget that myself. Then, I’ll…” he trailed off as laughter met his ears and he sighed. “I’ll hear Gilbert, laughing down the corridor and remember that I really shouldn’t be able to hear something so far away.”

“Indeed,” Dr. Beaumont said. She finished the physical examination. Then, she said, “I am going to show you a series of pictures and I would like for you to tell me which, if any of them, jumps out at you as… different in some way.”

“All right,” Taurys said. As she set a binder in his lap, he tucked a lock of hair behind his ear and frowned. She opened the cover and he looked at the first set of pictures. They were pictures of animals: a rabbit, a songbird, a deer and a bear. He tapped the bear. “Bears are omnivores and these others aren’t,” he said, his voice soft.

He turned the page and found that the second grouping was like the first. One image stood out to him as, in some way, not belonging. This went on for some time. Finally, he came to four pictures of children. His gaze locked on one in particular. “Milda,” he breathed. He felt his cheeks warm and his hands tightened on the binder. Looking up sharply, he said, “How did you get a picture of my daughter?”

“Dr. Schneider was kind enough to supply it, at my request,” Dr. Beaumont said, her tone calm. “Your daughter is safe and well, Taurys. You have my word on that.”

“Right,” he said, his voice soft. He ducked his head and rubbed his fingers over the image of his little girl. “All right, I guess.” Looking up at Dr. Beaumont through his lashes, he shrugged. “Sorry for snapping like that. It’s just… Milda’s been through so much and…” he trailed off as tears welled in his eyes. He caught himself and took a steadying breath. “I’m sorry,” he said, rubbing the tears away. “She’s been through a lot.”

“As have you,” Dr. Beaumont said, her tone gentle.

Taurys shrugged and flipped the page. The next grouping showed four men in business suits. One was working at a computer. One was sitting in a café. The third was leaning back at his desk, looking smug. The fourth was floating above the city, looking just as comfortable as any of the others. He tapped that image. “People don’t fly,” he said. He laughed and added, “At least not without an airship.”

He turned the page and then chuckled at the four images there. It showed a bird perched in a tree, a monkey perched on a balcony, a squirrel perched on a bench and an elephant perched on top of a tower. He tapped the elephant and then smiled at Dr. Beaumont. “Is there a reason why these pictures are so silly?” he asked.

“I assure you, there is,” she said, returning his smile for the first time.

He went through several more picture groupings. Some were like the first set, where one image simply didn’t belong with the others. Some had a single image that was absurd in some way. He turned to the last page and flushed, slamming the binder closed without more than a glance at the first picture.

“Taurys?”

Still blushing, he looked up at Dr. Beaumont. “My wife would not approve of me looking at such pictures,” he said, his voice soft. When she arched an eyebrow, he added, “Those ladies were… um, naked?”

“Very well,” Dr. Beaumont said. She wrote something in her papers and then took the binder from him. “You may dress now, Taurys. Marian will return to show you to your room in a moment.”

“Thank you,” Taurys said, nodding. As soon as she was gone, he removed the uncomfortable hospital gown and pulled on his normal clothing. He had just finished dressing when the door opened and Marian peered around the edge of it.

“You and Gilbert are close?” he said, tilting his head.

Marian blinked. “Yeah,” he said, shrugging. “We were in training together, along with Maddie. How’d you know?”

“I heard you joking together while the doctor was examining me,” Taurys said, shrugging. As he fell into step with Marian, he said, “He hasn’t got a lot of friends, has he?”

“Just me,” Marian said, his voice soft. He gave Taurys a sidelong glance and said, “You too, I guess. The way he talks about you…”

“Madeline, too,” Taurys said, nodding. He gave Marian a weak smile. “Did Dr. Beaumont give you any clue how I did?”

Marian laughed and shook his head. “She didn’t say, but she kept repeating, ‘Remarkable, truly remarkable.’ I figure… that’s got to be a good sign. Right?”

Taurys nodded as he chuckled softly. “I guess,” he said. Then, he blinked as Marian opened the door to a room. It was spacious, with a huge window overlooking a bed that would have filled the room he’d shared with Daina when they were in Veligrad together. Beside the bed, there was a desk, with a chair.

inspiration interiors

“This room… it’s for me?” Taurys said, blinking. He looked at Marian just as the other was nodding. “My whole apartment from Veligrad would fit in there,” he added.

Marian laughed and nodded. “Yeah, my place would fit in this room too,” he said. He shrugged. “Not everyone has such nice rooms, but Dr. Beaumont wants you to be comfortable, so she said to show you to one of the special guest rooms.”

“Thank you,” Taurys said. As Marian turned to leave, he said, “Where’s Gilbert?”

“Just next door,” Marian said, pointing up the corridor. “Tinker’s in the room across the hall, if you need her.”

“I expect that I won’t need Felicja, but I sometimes have difficulty going to sleep and… Gilbert knows how to fix that,” Taurys said, shrugging. He nodded his thanks and then stepped back into the room. As he closed the door, he closed his eyes and focused his listening towards Gilbert’s room.

“As I told them,” Gilbert said, his voice strained. “I can’t really begin to understand it completely, but that’s definitely Taurys!”

“I believe you, Gilbert,” Dr. Beaumont said. “His reactions to the photographs – the range of emotions he is able to display and that he can note things as having a wrongness to them which simple machines would not recognize – this convinced me that it is as you say.”

Sighing, Taurys pulled away from his eavesdropping. He shed his clothing and stretched out on the huge bed. He smiled to himself, wondering if simple machines would be able to lie and dissemble. Somehow, he doubted they would.

He took a steadying breath and began going through the relaxation exercises that Gilbert had taught him. He visualized Daina and Milda, praying that each of them were safe and well. He hoped that they wouldn’t stay at the base for long. He missed them both. He also prayed for Gilbert and Madeline and their children. Then, he cleared his mind of thoughts and focused only on taking deep, even breaths. Soon, he was fast asleep.

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