4689/Another You: Scars Without and Within

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Another You: Scars Without and Within
Date of Scene: 11 January 2021
Location: One of the laboratories at the tower
Synopsis: Caitlin and Gar discuss avenues towards his recovery.
Cast of Characters: Terry O'Neil, Gar Logan, Caitlin Fairchild

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Yesterday had been intense, but in a much different way that the previous week had been. Gar's recovery lifted a huge weight off Terry's shoulder, but not all of it... after all, Gar was in a bad shape on the outside, and he worried about the inside as well. But that would come in time. For the moment, Gar's wellbeing and creature comforts were more important to Terry- which is why, probably against everything Caitlin would hold dear, there is a twin bed wedged onto the side of the lab so that Gar could sleep close to the seawater tank without going too far (the benefit of Rabbit Holes- Terry could make a *bundle* as his own moving company).

At one point in the early morning, Terry woke up and, judging by Gar's level of deep sleep, he figured he could get a few things done before the green one got up. Untangling himself from Gar, Terry rose and went about his day.

For starters, he needed to change out of his wetsuit, and so he went to the room he shared with Gar for some of his clothes- and Gar's. He selected a T-shirt and shorts for Gar, something that he could get in and out of easily to make the transitions to and from the tank easier. He also brought more towels, because Gar wasn't exactly bone-dry when he came out of the tank.

He also took the liberty of ordering a massive breakfast from Gar's favorite place- if he hadn't eaten in a week while he was a starfish, he was going to need it. He also sent messages to Donna, Caitlin, Nadia and Robin about Gar's status. He asked Caitlin if she could drop by soon to check on Gar, and talk about potential avenues of recovery vis a vis: starfish regeneration.

Terry wasn't really a practicing believer, but in his crisis Caitlin was one of the people he came to. In one of his moments of despair, Caitlin suggested they go to the cathedral to find some peace of mind... and there Terry had secrelty lit a candle to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. He thought noboy saw him...

But Caitlin did.

<<Cait, Gar should be waking up soon, I think. He was looking better when I went to do errands this morning. I'll be with him if you want to do a check-up.>>

Terry walks through the door. He isn't quite street-ready, just a pair of gym shorts and a T-shirt that reads "Run? I thought they said RUM" adorned with a Jolly Roger. He tiptoes in to the lab and closes the door behind him, Gar's clothes in hand. He approaches the bed to see whether Gar is asleep still, or if he's awake.

"Hey-" he whispers as he approaches. If Gar's awake, he'll hear that. If he isn't, he usually snores through it.

Gar Logan has posed:
Gar Logan was practically motionless for hours, and hours longer. Ever need to get Gar to stop doing something? Just wait for him to sleep when he /really/ needs it. That boy's activity levels are usually off the charts when he gets going. Even a night of hardcore gaming often has him moving around. He eats enough, consumes enough calories to need them all.

This sleep was so deep that either he didn't dream at all because his mind was just so worn out, or whatever he did dream about wasn't enough to produce a physical response. Chances are he's had some /things/ swirling around in that noggin of his, because whether someone saw the video surveillance feed or not, they know what happened was very bad.

All slumber must come to an end sooner or later. Even Rip Van Winkle woke up eventually. By the time Gar begins to stir, all physical traces of the sea star are gone from his complexion, which at least helps him look more normal again. It's given Terry time to live a little, knowing Gar was down there. The whispered word may be from a voice he's attuned to, for his eyes blink open slowly and he reaches to rub at them. "Unnhh.." he groans, and while one hand finds the mark the other just..passes by and bumps the side of his head. "Eh?"

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
Caitlin waits until Terry gives the clear, and sneaks into the room as quietly as she can. She's in grey winter-weight leggings and a pale blue hoodie, worn over a black shirt with a white d20 partially visible under the unzipped garment.

"Hey, Gar," she says in a quiet tone. "Terry asked me to stop by. I've got some stuff from medical, painkillers and your anticortisols. It'll help with the pain." She pulls over a little rolling stand and starts setting up the IV feed that's next to the bed. "Terry asked me if I could do anything to help with the regeneration process," she tells him. "I've got a few ideas but I wanted to run it past you first. If you're up for it," she clarifies. "I didn't want to just start injecting you with experimental gene therapies."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Hey," Terry says quietly and sits on the bed, reaching over to stroke Gar's hair. Gar's initial puzzlement at the missing part of his limb is expected... while Gar was asleep and Terry wasn't (he had slept a bunch thanks to that Amazon medication), he did as much reading as he could regarding loss limb trauma. Whle there was a chance Gar could regenerate his lost forearm and hand... his mother had taught him that you prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. This sometimes had a tendency to catastrophize some things, but at least it meant you weren't unprepared.

"I brought you some clothes. Cait should be by-" right now!

"Let's get you decent."

Considering Gar is still very much naked under his covers, Terry quickly leans down and dives under the covers, pulling the gym shorts up Gar's legs since Gar might still be too disoriented and coping with his limb loss to do it right away. "There!" he says, resting his hand on Gar's stomach and he turns around.

"Hi Cait," he gives the fellow redhead a smile, and realizes that the T-shirt was not a good choice for Gar, so he puts it aside. Later, he'll get him a tank top, which are easier to pull off with one working hand.

Gar Logan has posed:
"Hey," Gar answers Terry at first, then the door to this particular lab is opening to admit someone and Terry's just /all/ over him. "What are you..? Oh." To get the shorts on, of course. Leaving him shirtless does show that the wounds he took during the attack have actually healed over, a side effect of the prolonged time he spent under de sea. In fact, aside from missing part of his left arm, he /looks/ more or less fine.

Looking fine and feeling fine are two very different matters.

He again tries to shift positions so the stump of an arm, just past the elbow, isn't as clearly seen. If anyone looked closely enough, the tiger tore it off above the joint, so there's been enough growth to reform it, a good sign so far. "Hi, Cait." He manages a little smile. "I'm..not really in pain, just..sore," he admits, voice on the quieter side. "I just did the..only thing I could think of..and tried to wait. But..what do you have?"

The eyes show the pain the body does not. They're haunted, still a little distant, clearly giving off 'wounded' vibes that match his facial tics.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
Caitlin politely looks away while Terry helps Gar get decent. Strangely, with the medical equipment in hand, Caitlin looks much less bothered by Gar's undress than one might expect. Part of it's medical professionalism; part of it just stems from too many times when Caitlin had to play medic for someone on the team.

"Okay, so, I'll try to make this as easy to explain as possible," Caitlin promises Gar. She works with tidy efficiency. Not a medical doctor, but Caitlin's spent more than a little time learning how to handle medical needs for the Titans. Even sticking Gar with the IV is done smoothly and almost painlessly. "Normally, humans can't regenerate missing limbs," she says. "Even a lot of metas can't. It has to do with the telemorase structure, the things that tell your RNA when to start and stop. Mammalian telemorase degredation is why we have cancer. It's also why stem cell therapies aren't entirely a cure-all."

A few milligrams of liquid painkiller are added into the IV drip, which is packed full of nutrients and vitamins. "The starfish protocol is working, though, which means your body is producing myocytes in your starfish form that it can translate backwards into myomers. Er, you're growing starfish msucle, and your body's turning it into human muscle," she explains.

She moves to the side of the bed and kneels down so her head's on a level with the two men's. "I think that-- in this instance-- we need to find a way to hybridize your two states. Starfish and mammal," she clarifies. "I'd like to combine that with a few other ideas I have. We could 3D print a collagen matrix to replace your missing forearm and hand. Then stem cell therapy combined with the cytoplasmic fibroblastomas for structure."

She llooks from Terry to Gar, back again. "Oh, uh, sorry. I mean-- I think there's a chance we could potentially re-grow your entire arm. It'd take a couple of weeks, but..." she shrugs. "Is that something you'd want to try?"

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry lets Caitlin talk. Just like it was back in the black hole, he was out of his depth in this subject and Caitlin had the expertise. He does, however, sit by Gar's side and put his arm around him from behind, a quiet support in response to the haunted look in his eyes. The possibility of regrowing his arm will do something to alleviate things, but that'll only be part of it. Gar will still need to process through what happened to him.

He doesn't offer anything at this point, since this is Gar's choice. He simply rubs Gar's back with the palm of his hand in slow and soothing up-and-down strokes. He has /ideas/ to add, but he wants to see what Gar's mind is.

Gar Logan has posed:
One of Gar's things is knowing as much as he can about the animal kingdom, no matter how big or small. It is what makes him so potentially effective in combat, or just for laughs. When you can be your own personal menagerie, the sky's the limit.

But how would that be impacted by having part of a limb missing? Animals compensate, but...yeah.

The deeper science of it all is not something he's dug into as much, certainly not on the level Caitlin has, so it's good to hear things from the perspective of someone who knows what she's talking about. He eases onto his back after the IV is set up. While it will provide some nutrients and other useful things, it won't take the place of a huge meal. His stomach growls to drive the point home.

He says, "I think..with enough time as a starfish, I could do it myself..but we don't have the time. I don't." Can't say too much at once, without a few moments to pause and let it process. He reaches over for a cup of water to sip from, goes on. "He's still out there. Me. The other me. I..never had a chance to fight back. That hurts the most, knowing it was..." He fails to finish the thought. That is a mental issue he's dealing with, and it's hitting him heavily.

Closing his eyes for a few more seconds, he shakes his head before saying anything else. "I think..I can do that. Have to try. Of course I..I want to be whole." Terry's support is a help, even if it's just reflected in a slight shift of his position, a lean into it felt.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
"It's going to be time-consuming," Caitlin warns. "Your powers are... complicated. I'm trying to do this off of what I know rather than turning you into a prolonged project to figure out *Why* it works. We know the starfish form is regenerating, your mammal form is not, so we've got to find some overlap. You're going to need to work at it, it won't be easy. Balancing the starfish and mammal DNA and repair sequences to accelerate growth-- basically using the starfish morphogensis to start the mammal stem cells into motion."

"So... a week or two. Maybe longer. You may need to stay in a saline tank, and at a minimum we'll need to build a prosthetic enclosure for your arm to grow into. And I may have to bring in some help to do corrective surgery and prevent fibroblastomas from growing out of control."

She looks to Terry, then to Gar. "You already went one round with your evil twin and it took a chunk of you with him. I think for round two, you let the family take him on and you focus on healing." She smiles wryly and offers his hand a squeeze. "Everyone needs to take a knee sometimes. This might just be your turn."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Doctor," Terry asks now, not realizing he's calling Cait by her title, "Is there any way we can streamline the treatment so that it can be monitored by a layperson, with the proper training?"

Terry raises his hand to clarify, "Something to be done over a month- Gar, wait a little..." he says, anticipating Gar's objection.

He knows that if the team fights the doppelganger without Gar... well, he's going to go to a dark place. The powerlessness and grief Gar had lugged around since Doomsday would echo. This was a demon Gar needed to face. Not alone... but to be taken out of the fight would do more harm than good to the inside. However, fighting him while still mid-regeneration would do more harm than good to the outside.

"I was speaking to Nadia... and you know," he gives Caitlin raised eyebrow, "She has that laboratory she carries around in her pendant..." he leaves it hanging for Doctor Fairchild to see where he's going and see, potentially, if it would be a good idea.

Gar Logan has posed:
Gar Logan's mouth opens, and he is close, /so/ close to saying something in contrast to Caitlin's advice. It shows in his eyes, a darker cast passing over them that Terry might not catch based on his positioning, but he can feel a tensing up of the muscles in Gar's back. Cait might spot it, depending on whether or not she's looking that way at the moment.

He breathes. Deep breath. Think calm thoughts. Not working completely, but no outburst right away. He sticks with what he knows. "I..am what I become. It's why I changed into.." Another breath. They saw what he turned into. They know what perhaps the last thought going through his head at the time was. "I was just..going to take more time to be a starfish, and try to wait. If it can be faster..somehow..yes."

Then he can't help it. "I have to face him. Face me. I have to."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
"It's okay, Gar. We get it," Caitlin promises him. Her voice is soothing and reassuring, affirming his words rather than arguing with his intent.

"Terry's idea is a good one. Nadia's microverse has a significant timeshift, time moves faster there. An hour realtime is a day in her lab. She's already set up for almost everything I could need to do and we could stay in contact with you in the facility. You'd be out of commission for... gosh. A day. Two, maybe," she ventures. "I'll know fairly early on if we're making progress and I can give you a better update once you're sequestered. You would need someone with you 24/7, just in case something goes wrong," she advises him, and looks to Terry. "You sure you're up for that?"

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Thirty hours, a full month. Just a day and four hours," he says- a sort of reverse Van Winkle effect. Cait had followed his line of thought and she seemed on board with the idea. They probably shouldn't tell Raven that Terry hd a good idea, though, because she might accuse him of being the Doppelganger.

His hand goes to hold Gar's side and pull him gently against Terry's side when he speaks. Cait's question isn't just a question of 'do you want to go on vacation with your boyfriend for a month?', it's the very serious question of whether he was up to being Gar's caretaker and be with him. Constantly. For thirty days. Some people have thrown each other out the window for being sequestered together for less. And Gar would be facing not only the reconstruction of his body but the trauma of the attack, and what it did to him.

It's not going to be easy. But nothing worth doing was easy. "More than up for it," he says quietly, and touches his nose to Gar's shoulder, "You think you can put up with me for thirty days?"

Gar Logan has posed:
Imagine Gar bristling, then settling back down again. He didn't really grasp the concept of what Terry proposes to Caitlin, and it shows in an initially confused look on his face. "What are you talking about?" he asks, moving again to sit a little more upright, his expression contorting into one of determination. His strength is down. Just this much effort is a chore right now, leaving him a bit short of breath.

He is absolutely in no condition to do much right now except to convalesce.

"Microverse..timeshift...huh." Moments later, it's as if the internal lightbulb blinks on. "We can do a month..in like a day, almost? Wow." This is perhaps something he has not paid the closest attention to, not having spoken much with Nadia, but if that is possible..it opens wide the door of patience. Is the door of patience even a thing? It is now.

He nods affirmation. "Let's..try it. And try your idea. I can turn into a sort of...hybrid, I think. If I had a better idea of it. I can think harder." Terry is given a smile that looks more silly in the moment than it's meant to be. "Think I can handle you for that long."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
"I'll kick around some other options," Caitlin suggests. "Maybe a... I don't know, I can get some PET scans of your brain in both states and combine it with some sort of neuroinduction. Help you with some sort of feedback if you're slipping out of the variable zone. I'll be in there with you for at least the first day or so tweaking the machinery and setting up the system. It'll be mostly automated, as much as I can," she promises. "Terry will be there for moral support and to decant you in a hurry if there's an issue. Also, probably change the TV channels and stuff," she says with a dimpled smile.

Caitlin pats Gar's knee and rises, stooping over to kiss his forehead with a maternal sort of affection. A hug goes along with it, for as long as Gar's willing, and she straightens up. "Those drugs should be kicking in. If the pain starts getting bad or you start getting itchy, here's your second dose," she says, and points at a second plunger attached to the IV line. "If the pain gets worse, call me. I can only give out so many painkillers before I need to have an actual medical doctor come by."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry smiles back at Gar, and then nods at Caitlin. "I don't think it should take a month... but I am expecting that Gar might want to do some physical therapy and conditioning before we come back. So I'll be consulting with you on all of that to make sure I can help... " and some emotional recovery as well, so maybe he'll talk to Harley.

Just because she was, you know, Harley, it doesn't mean she forgot everything. In fact, a lot of times, she proved she hadn't.

"Cait, you're gold. You know that, right?" Terry smiles. He glances over at Gar and strokes his cheek. "Do you want to stay up and talk some more? Food should be arriving soon..."

Gar Logan has posed:
Even if Gar insists he's not feeling much pain, that could be painkillers kicking in. Could be true. Could be it's more of a mental pain, and that can take longer to heal from than the physical pain. It usually does.

"We can try things. Something will work," he says, nodding, glancing between the two as Cait talks up what Terry can assist with. He gingerly takes the smooch and hug, cautious with his good arm and the one that's the focus of their recovery efforts. "Yeah..I will, thanks," he promises, before easing toward his back again for the moment. "I felt Garth out there. In the water." Beast Boy was probably shutting down all but the most vital things keeping him alive, letting the sea star do what came natural to it, just to hang on.

He weakly touches back at Terry's hand, nodding. "I'm as hungry as a..a..well. I'm just..I could eat a lot." The fingers curl into a fist, tight as he can make it, and in this moment it's pretty strong for what he's got. "I'm not done with that..that other me. I kept the receipts."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry nods and leans to the side to kiss Gar's cheek, letting his arm support him some more. "Just remember you're not alone in this. We're with you. And I love you."

It's at that moment that there is a knock on the door. With a puzzled look, Terry looks at Caitlin to see if she's expecting someone-

"Terry, are you in there?"

The redhead's mouth opens wide. "Oh my god, it's..."

The door opens and Agatha O'Neil waltzes in, accompanied by a smell that would make anyone salivate. The willowy, red-headed woman with an angular face lowers her sugnlasses. She's laden with bags on her other arm. "Terry O'Neil you should be ashamed," she says, "You were planning on feeding him restaurant junk while he convalesces?"
"Mom, wha-"
"Your card got declined. And you gave my number as the contact number by mistake."
"So did you pay-"
"I've brought him some /proper/ food," Agatha says, hefting the bags. There are a lot of boxes. "A proper breakfast to keep-" she trails off., She had had the maternal blinders on and had hyper-focused on Terry. Now she sees Caitlin. You'd be amazed anyone could /not/ see Caitlin, but Agatha had trained herself as a young single parent to laser focus on Terry in a crowd. Old habits died hard.

"I'm sorry, that's very rude of me. I'm Agatha O'Neil- you're Doctor Fairchild, correct? That nice woman at the front let me in. I'm supposed to show this..." she lifts a finger, with the correct ink dot applied. Terry grumbles and makes a guess as to who the 'nice young woman at the front' was, and why she didn't tell Terry that his mother was being let into the tower, and on the warpath towards him.

It's not as if he /intended/ to get shot.

"Would you like some breakfast as well? I made enough," she offers Caitlin. The boxes have a fragrant scent of oeggs, mushrooms and tomatoes fried with bacon and butter. There might be enough for Caitlin /and/ Gar. Maybe.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
"Prop--" Caitlin's eyes go wide but the objection is halted by Agatha's polite and profuse apology. Caitlin tempers her own reaction and when Agatha nears, her own good manners kick in and she immediately helps offload the cargo in her hands.

"It's nice to meet you too, Mrs. O'Neil," Caitlin says. "And please, call me Caitlin. We're not long on ceremony here in the tower." She smiles pleasantly and sets the food aside.

"I'd love to stay, but I'm sure you want to take to Terry, and you have some family stuff to discuss," she suggests as delicately as possible. "And Gar's appetite is coming back so he needs to eat as much as possible. I've got food upstairs. I'll be off," she says and gathers up the medical equipment. "I'll call when I've got news. Agatha, nice to meet you," she says, and offers a brief wave farwell before heading to the elevator.

Gar Logan has posed:
Gar Logan's eyes reopen around the time the door does and the scents and smells have a moment to reach him. Labs and medical facilities are notorious for their sterility. Introduce anything even remotely pleasant and it will be noticed.

In Gar's case, his sniffer still works just as well as ever, and he doesn't even need to be a cute animal for this to register. Sitting bolt upright, there is a sudden burst of energy in him, and of course he's mostly exposed except for the covers over his lower half, plus the shorts.

There is a hint of saliva at a corner of his mouth, which he quickly tries to hide by licking his lips. "Mrs. O'Neil! You smell..I mean your food smells great! I think I just died and went to heaven."

Whether he believes in heaven or not, it fits for a common phrase. He almost slipped up big time, too, and right in front of Terry. "Caaaait! I'll call for yours later!" The food, that is.

Sometimes the appetite is the first thing to come back. Is it any surprise that's the case for Gar?