(NOTE: This is the second part of "Senses", during which Theoren and the rest of the Guild head to Westchester for Theo's surgery. I don't know if there's going to be a third part, or if the gang will decide to let me wrap it up after this one. We'll have to wait and see. They don't belong to me, Marvel gets all the credit, but the story idea is mine.)
Theoren leaned on the rail beside his young cousin with a sigh. "Hell yeah I'm scared." He admitted. "More scared dan I've been in my life. Right now, I'm standin' here b'side you an' unless I turn my head an' look directly at you, I can' see you. An' it's terrifyin'..."
Instinctively, Emil reached up and rested his hand on Theoren's shoulder. "Why didn' you mention to someone b'fore dat you were havin' trouble seein' sometimes?"
"I didn' wan' worry anyone..." Theo replied, trying to keep his voice light and failing. "An' I t'ought it would go 'way or somethin'."
"Liar." Emil joked softly. "I b'lieve you didn' wan' worry us, but you knew in your heart it wasn' gon' go 'way."
"You knew dere was somethin' up too, didn' you." Theoren had to say it. Ever since Tante Mattie had died a few months before, Emil had changed. He had inherited her emphatic powers...only they seemed to be a lot stronger in Emil than they ever were in Mattie...and he had also gained a type of visionary powers to go with the empathy. He could see the future through glimpses in dreams, and often felt the emotion of everyone involved in what he saw. On more than one occasion, the visions and the emotional stress that went with them were enough to put Emil in a coma for days.
Emil sighed. "Oui. One of de first visions I had was of next week. All of us up in Westchester, you havin' surgery. Lots of fear an' uncertainty. In a sense, I been waitin' for dis for months."
Theo chuckled even though he didn't feel the least bit like laughing. "You didn' happen to see de outcome, did ya, kiddo?"
"Nope. Kinda wish I had...but yet den 'gain I'm glad I didn'. Don' like knowin' de outcome b'fore it happens...scared 'nough as it is."
Tears sprung to Theoren's dark brown eyes as he realized just how much pain Emil was in. "Hey. Look at me." He turned to face his cousin and when Emil tilted his head slightly to look back, Theo reached up and rested his hand under Emil's chin, making eye contact and not letting Emil look away. "You ain' losin' me."
"I know..." Emil whispered.
"I can' tell you not to be scared...dat would make me a hypocrite seein' as I'm scared too. But look at it dis way. You've been dependant on me for a long time even if we both don' like admittin' it. When my eyesight goes, it's gon' be your turn to look after me. I'm countin' on you to be my eyes, Red. De others too, but it's mostly gon' be you. You're de only one who knows as much 'bout computers as I do, if not more." Theoren reminded him.
Emil nodded. "Oui."
"Okay den. Now let's go inside an' see if de others wan' finish playin' de game. I have a feelin' I'm gon' wan' do a lot of stuff like dat while I still can..."
One week later, the eleven members of the Unified Guild of Thieves and Assassins were assembled in the waiting room outside the MedLab at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, where Dr. Henry McCoy had just finished debriefing them regarding the surgery Theoren was about to undergo. The blue-furred doctor was a trusted friend of the guild members, and they had learned very quickly that he wouldn't lie to them or sugarcoat things, and they were grateful for that even if it hurt.
"...So you see, it's really a very simple and yet very complicated procedure. Are there any questions?" Dr. McCoy finished.
The guild members looked at each other and then at Dr. McCoy. Mercy voiced the question they all had been thinking for the past week. "We jus' have one right now, Dr. McCoy. What're de chances of dis not workin' an' Theo comin' out of it blind?"
"As I explained to Theoren last week, there are no guarantees except thatat if he doesn't have de surgery he'll be blind in six weeks. I wish I could tell you there's no chance of him being blinded by the surgery, but I can't. It is a possibility."
"An' de odds?" Emil asked, his voice shaking ever so slightly.
"Fifty-fifty." Dr. McCoy replied frankly. "I'm sorry they're not better than that, but those are the best odds I can give you at this juncture. Now, if there are no other questions, Theoren and I have to get ready for surgery."
Ten pairs of eyes looked at Theoren, each of them mirrored with silent fear and worry. Even the Assassins were worried, which surprised Theoren, because they didn't normally worry much about the thieves. The thought crossed his mind and Bella Donna chuckled ironically in reply, her voice echoing inside his head telepathically.
"Yeah we're worried...you guys are de ones wit' de long lives, 'member? Dis kinda t'ing scares us too. Don' like de t'ought of growin' old."
Theoren smiled understandingly at her and then stood up. "I'll be okay, guys. No matter what happens in dere, it'll be okay. But jus' in case..." Before he followed Dr. McCoy into the MedLab, Theoren did something he'd been doing a lot of in the past week. He looked at each of the other guild members directly in the face and tried to commit what they looked like to his memory so he'd never forget their faces. When he was done, he went into the MedLab, leaving his family in the waiting room.
Six hours later, Dr. McCoy came out of the MedLab to find that Gambit, his teammate and patriarch of the Guild, had joined the assembled thieves and assassins. He was glad of that, because Remy seemed to be one of the few people capable of putting the guild members at ease.
"It's over?" Zoe asked hopefully.
"Yes it is. Theoren is still sleeping right now, and I do not know if the surgery was a success or not. I want to keep the bandages on his eyes for at least twenty-four hours before removing them, so unfortunately, we're all going to have to wait to see the results. I'm sorry to have to do that to you all, but it can't be helped."
"Can we go see him? Even t'ough he's sleepin'?" Mercy asked.
"I don't see why not. Just be quiet, and try not to disturb him. After that, I think you could use some rest as well."
"I've got rooms ready for you guys," Remy informed them before they filed into the MedLab. "An' Hank'll let us know when he wakes up."
The Guild formed a silent circle around Theoren's bed in the MedLab. Remy stayed behind with Dr. McCoy, who was impressed with how quiet they were. "They certainly do know how to keep quiet."
Remy chuckled. "Dey're a group of professional t'ieves an' assassins, Hank. Bein' silent is part of de trainin'."
After a couple of minutes, the circle broke up and the Guild turned to face Remy and Dr. McCoy. They were all exhausted from worry and stress, and that exhaustion showed plainly on all faces. They needed rest as much as Theoren did.
"C'mon, I'll show you guys where your rooms are." Remy whispered. "Hank, you'll let us know when Theo wakes up?"
As they walked along the hallways, Remy explained the way the school was set up. "It never seems to stop anybody if dey're determined enough," he laughed as he led them down a corridor. "But de Professor's pretty adamant 'bout keepin' guys an' girls separated. Dis is de girls' wing."
He paused half-way down the corridor and looked at Bella Donna, Mercy and Zoe. "Hope you t'ree don' mind roomin' together. I can' give everyone deir own rooms, an' didn' t'ink it would be fair to anybody if some of you had your own rooms an' some didn', so I eliminated de problem." He opened a door to his left. "Dis is your room. De way I look at it, it's only for a few nights an' you're grown women. You can handle it. Dere's an intercom on de wall. When Hank wants to get ahold of us, he'll do it usin' de intercom."
"Uhm..." Singer's eyebrows raised above her dark glasses.
"Duh Singer." Remy shook his head. "You an' Feef get special married-people treatment. Dere's not many married couples 'round here, so we tend to treat dem well. You'll see what I mean in a moment. But first, I wan' get de guys straightened out."
"Oh now dat's gon' be int'restin'..." Singer giggled.
"Actually, no it isn'." Remy replied. "Takin' Fifolet out of de equation makes it very easy, as a matter of fact." He led them all down another corridor. "All I needed was two rooms, an' dey're right here, one across from de other. One for Gris-Gris an' Questa, an' one for Emil, Claude an' Genard. Same deal wit' de intercom, guys. Now get some rest." He looked at Fifolet and Singer. "An' you two, come wit' me."
Remy walked with Fifolet and Singer to another section of rooms. "Now. Dis ain' exactly de honeymoon suite at de Hilton, but somethin' tells me you'll like it better. Jean an' Scott used it b'fore dey moved to Alaska."
"Oh Remy...we couldn'..." They protested.
Remy shook his head. "You can an' you will. Jeannie knows all, 'member? If she finds out you didn' use de room when you wer here, she'd never forgive you an' you know it."
"T'anks Remy." Fifolet said quietly. They felt uncomfortable using the same room used by their friend Jean and her husband, but Remy's argument held weight, so they agreed fairly quickly.
A few hours later, Theoren woke up to a very dark world. He didn't understand it at first, and ihe panicked. "Dr. McCoy?!"
Dr. McCoy walked over to his patient with a smile on his face. "Ah Theoren, you're awake. How do you feel?"
"Uhm...scared, actually. Why can' I open my eyes?"
"There are bandages covering them, Theo. I will remove them tomorrow. Until then, we won't know the outcome of the surgery. I want to give your eyes time to heal before removing the bandages. Other than that, how do you feel?"
Theoren thought for a few minutes. "Little weird...head hurts...an' I'm not sure I like dis...when I go blind...dis is what it's gon' be like...I won' be able to see a t'ing...an' I don' like it..."
"True, but you have the opportunity at this moment to begin adjusting yourself to the idea of not being able to see." Dr. McCoy explained.
"Where are de others?"
"They're up in the rooms Remy arranged for them, resting. I will call for them shortly. They are very concerned about your well-being."
"Well dey are my fam'ly after all, y'know." Theoren reminded him. "We all kinda pulled together after Tante Mattie died, an' set our diff'rences aside."
"I am very glad to hear that. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll call your family and get them down here to see you."
The guild members made it from their rooms to the MedLab in less than five minutes. Theoren chuckled at them. "Dat was quick, mes amis."
"How are you?" Mercy asked.
"Well I hate dese bandages, an' I'd be doin' better if I knew if dis darkness was permanent or not...but other den dat, I'm okay." Theoren replied candidly. "Gotta admit, I'm scared stiff right 'bout now. Jus' ask Dr. McCoy. When I woke up an' couldn' open my eyes, I panicked. Was only sort of relieved when I realized it was b'cause of de bandages, but now I'm scared 'gain."
"You're scared dat when he takes dem off, nothin' will be diff'rent. Dat you won' be able to see anythin'." Gris-Gris commented.
"Bingo." Theoren said. "I hate not knowin'. Jus' wan' take dem off an' get it over wit'."
"What's it like?" Genard was curious.
"Dark. Very, very dark. Like bein' in Slidell on a night when dere's no moon or stars an' no lights on in Tante Mattie's old house."
"Oy vey..." Questa voiced the opinion of everyone present. They all knew from experience how dark that was. And even though they were all creatures of the night and they all felt at home in the dark, the image that went through their minds wasn't a very pleasant one. They all prayed that when Dr. McCoy removed the bandages from Theoren's eyes, he'd be able to see, and wouldn't be consumed with darkness the way he was now.
The next afternoon, over twenty-four hours after the surgery, the Guild assembled in the MedLab, where Dr. McCoy was about to remove the bandages from Theoren's eyes. They waited, almost impatiently and more than a little fearfully, as he gently and slowly took the bandages off. It felt to Theo like a huge weight was being lifted off his face and he loved that feeling. But he still bit his lip nervously, his eyes still closed.
"What is it, Theo?" Emil asked.
"I'm nervous. An' scared." Theoren admitted. "An' I can feel every single one of you watchin' me an' it's freakin' me out."
"Okay, here's what we'll do, den." Bella Donna took charge of the situation, because Remy was in the middle of a training session in the Danger Room. "Mercy, you an' Emil stay here wit' Theo for moral support. You guys are de closest to him. De rest of us will go waitin' outside until you call us back in. Dere's no need of all of us bein' here makin' him uncomfortable."
"T'anks, guys." Theoren said gratefully as the others filed back into the waiting room.
"Anytime you're ready, Theoren." Dr. McCoy told him once they were in relative peace. Both Mercy and Emil found themselves holding their breath, afraid of what Theoren would say when he opened his eyes.
Theo nodded. "Okay. Cross your fingers, guys." He said and then opened his eyes. "My God..." His voice was barely above a whisper.
"What...?" Mercy and Emil asked in unison, voices shaking.
"I can' see anythin'...I mean I know my eyes are open, but I ain' seein' a single t'ing. No light, no nothin'..." Tears welled up in Theoren's sightless eyes.
Moving almost as one, Mercy and Emil went to him and sat down, one on either side of his bed, putting their arms comfortingly around him.
"I'm sorry Theoren." Dr. McCoy said.
Theo sighed through his tears. "You got nothin' to be sorry for, Doc. De risk was always dere, you warned me of dat up front. It jus' wasn' mean to work, dat's all. Could you go tell de others please?"
Two minutes later, the rest of the Guild followed Dr. McCoy back into the MedLab, sorrow and sympathy on their faces. They knew Theoren couldn't see them, but the expressions were there all the same.
"Theo we're sorry..." Claude said, speaking for everyone present.
"I know. It's okay."
"What do we do now...?" Zoe asked.
"We get me some dark glasses an' adapt." Theoren said firmly. "I'm blind. I ain' dead. Sure, I'm gon' be bumpin' into ev'rythin', an' cursin' when one of you moves somethin' on me, but it ain' de end of de world. It's jus' gon' take some gettin' used to, dat's all."