In which Callahan has more questions than Tailor likes. Which is to say, he has questions at all.
Initial Setting: Tailor's office
Callahan flip flip flips through the pages in the medical journal as he strides down the hall. The last couple days have been a nightmare of paperwork; by now it's pretty clear there's a huge fucking Mariana Trench between the medics in the office and the rest of base in terms of trust and willingness to share even the most bloody basest of information. It's infuriating, sure, but he finds it might just work in everybody’s favour – he always seems to dislike people the more he gets to know them, and the paranoid feckers get to save their dirty filthy laundry lists to themselves.
There is a few journals he – despite promises to not give out more shits – probably will have to give a few about, though. Thus, why he’s been going over this one in particular a few times, and why he’s now on his way to the doctor’s office despite technically and whole-heartedly being off-duty
Callahan knocks on the door with the foot of his boot, still flipping through the detailed pages.
The buzz of another person ceases instantly with the clunking, replaced with a startle of slipped papers and an immediate silence. Zach looks down at his hand, grasping nothing like it were a knife. ...rrright.
"Hallo? Who is it?" He calmly leans to pick up a stray sheet or two and slips them out of sight in the drawer. He tugs his fringe out of his eyes with a sort of jaded diligence and pushes his glasses back up his nose. "Door's unlocked."
The handle of the door clacks and rattles like someone's shoving at it in every conceivable way -- except using their hands. Eventually, it shuffles open and Callahan slips inside, closing the door with a kick behind him.
Dr Tailor watches this rickety contraption of a man. "If you needed a hand that badly you could've asked. I'd have gotten up." He doesn't look like he had any particular desire to, really, now that he knows it's Callahan, but hey, he offered.
"No, tha' wou'd jus' have been a sorry sight," Callahan replies shortly. "Hopefully, this'll be quick."
"Uh-oh." Tailor grumbles it, knowing that's likely code for 'this is going to be longer than either of us want'. "Has something happened... ooor is this the followup on that abysmal mess you made of the staff folders the other day?" With juuust enough of a smile; he clearly loved putting all that away again. It hadn't really bothered him so much as the lame gesture implied with it had. Just lame. But no harm done.
"Wot? Y'need ano'er one t'clean up? You coulda tol' me, I'd a made you a card castle outta all th' files, just fer you," comes the blithely-hateful reply.
"No, I do not need another pile of things to tidy, that's the other medic who loves that shite. What's the problem." Tailor intends to keep this on topic, unlike their last chat. It's too early for this banter and he doesn't want to complain about taking night watch lest someone put in a word to take it for him.
Callahan nods, cutting through the foreplay snark suits him just fine. Without the smarmy glee that normally hangs off every one of Tailor's words, the other doctor seems about a smidgen less punchable. Whodathunk.
"Roight. I been havin' a butcher's at O'hannigan's files. Last time you an’ I had th’ wonderful opportunity to run around in useless verbal circles, ye seem'd to give th' impression tha' ye at least have invested a bit o’ interest in th’ lad. I’d like ye t’shed as much light on his condition as yer willin’ an’ able,” he says blankly and puts the file on the desk, open on the pages detailing nightly seizures and medicine prescriptions for recurring cases of migraine.
Oh for the love of - Dr Tailor calmly leans forward on his desk to look at the files. He already knew everything in there. He wonders if the heelsprings are going to get dragged into this conversation too, since there's actually x-ray information for those. This was not going to be a short conversation. Hmm. Not a lot of secrecy he could really play with another medic. The headset's existence was public knowledge. Not what it did, though.
"Mnnnh, I see." He scans over his own writing, knowing he's made mention of the headset in there, not in detail. Just the damage left by it at most. Might be better described as information around it. "Well, redundant verbal circles aside, what's not in there already that you want to know about?"
"Th' files are... fine, as is. Compared to others, jasus. Th' cause o' most o' his complications, though, ain't in there. The seizures at night. Migraine. Don't seem like epilepsy..." Callahan stops a moment, eyes Tailor shortly. "Be ye his consultin' doctor? When... if he gets these seizures. Be there any... pers'nal triggers I should know of when tryin' t'calm 'im?" he asks as tactfully as possible. Which... well, it still sounds flat as a board full of rusty nails.
For all the callous exterior, Tailor thinks, the guy does give a hoot about patient care. Has all the charm of a chalkboard and might just be asking because he has to share a room with the scout, but still.
"Consulting Doctor? … about as close as one gets to any official title out here, yes. Yes I am. He ah. ...we haven't found any consistent triggers for the seizures, it's the panic attacks that..." He points to the notes regarding anxiety. "Don't make him feel cornered." It feels completely alien discussing this without the usual concerned-friend approach he sees when having to answer things like this. This was just paperwork.
"He been takin' th' presciption medication?" Callahan asks and follows the lines of chemicals in the file with a bony index finger.
"Not the anti-convulsants. Got him to try one for about a week and a half, the anxiety medication for maybe a day or two. Said both interfered with his job more than the seizures did." He knows Harvey isn't one to lie, "Though I expect he meant his daily life."
Callahan frowns. Normally, one would need more than a few days on new medication to let your body get used to the changes, and interference for the first month or so was to be fucking expected. Though, from Tailor's tone of voice, it feels like arguing will be a moot point.
"This recent surgery tho'," the thinner doctor continues. "Any possible connection to th' seizures? Have they been returnin' since then?"
Dr Tailor really doesn't feel like rolling around in guilt over this too, leaving instead a taste of annoyance in his mouth. The kid kept conveniently forgetting to take the damn things and it would've turned into a fight neither of them had needed. He follows Callahan's loose gestures with significantly more patience than he feels he possesses. "...yes, and... not yet, no." he's holding his breath on that one.
This time Callahan's not so willing to glance over the issue. "God willin' ye be a biteen more detailed on tha'?"
Dr Tailor leans forward on his desk, palms down. "Listen, I don't know what kind of experiment was done on him but he had this, this headset-thing. You've seen his legs. Everyone in this company seems to ignore it," his eyes flit with the doubled notion that everyone here is crazy; or he fucking hopes that's the case, "Nobody knows where they came from, Harvey refuses to speak of it--" His real concern for the scout and himself comes through as a quiet hiss of distress, as if he's never witnessed anything like this and the act of having now seen more has him scared.
There's a bit of a pause in which Callahan digests the information. Yes he'd... noticed the... leg thingamobs. He had (wrongfully) assumed they might be part of the dodgy set of technology the closed-circle war here employs, like the mediguns.
Callahan pitches together assumptions and conclusions based on what little he knows, and from what little he's seen of O'hannigan's behaviour. He doesn't like any of them, of course. It all feels very much like what the boy needs is widely out of his range of training. Out of anybody's range of training.
"The..." he grimaces, "headset, it preceded his arrival here, then. An' it was removed on base. Y'still got it aroun'?" he inquires quietly.
Dr Tailor deflates somewhat, the hint of fight or flight settling into worried resignation. "All of it must have. His medical files..." he stops, they're right there in front of him. "There's this paper full of nonsense, no previous base listed, and then his transfer to Teufort," he flips through the documents in pace, x-ray of a leg fracture revealing the heelspring had already had time to heal in place even then. Much later, Dr. Tailor's handwriting joins the fray. "... and then Dustbowl." He doesn't like that he's answering honestly to the either half of the question. "No... nothing but the original casing --" As uncomfortable as genuine paranoia was, it worked as well for the truth as it did for fiction. "--look, if that thing was this company's doing, I want my name as far away from it as possible. I'll use their mediguns if it means taking the implants out but the less I know about this mess the better." So no, he doesn't have notes on it.
"Ye perform'd th' surgery?" Callahan quirks an eyebrow. "Wh' happen'd to th' rest o' th' device? Did ye hand it off to some o' th' engineers fer them to research?"
Dr Tailor takes considerable time in responding. "...Yea--no I did not hand it off to the engineers, that thing needed to be destroyed lest anything else come of it." He knows that's bad practice if anything in its' function could be useful in managing Harvey's current state. It was bad practice to perform anything like he did without a surgical team too. The picture seems to be adding up to one in which Zach tried to help, and panicked in the follow-through.
There's a bit of a silence.
It takes on a strained edge.
Tailor's argument sounded weak, he lets the silence linger longer. His stubbornness keeps Callahan's frustrated glare from turning him into any sort of apologetic puddle. "Well I regret it now," he snips, well aware he can't change how he felt when it was over and done with (of course he wouldn't change his decision anyway, but that's not going to be discussed). His feelings now aren't going to bring back the offending device.
Callahan's face washes completely blank and unreadable. He straightens up and pulls the medical journal with him in a long movement of the spindly arm. Flips through it again.
Despite... pretty much everything his attitude hints at his thoughts on the capabilities of his peers, Callahan really does hate assuming a fellow colleague is incompetent. The most obvious picture is assuming Tailor's an dumb twat, scared off by the intricacies of dealing with the consequences of technology gone awry; specifically technology pertaining to a company he's still employed by.
The harder, more complicated picture is that he's doing it on purpose, to hide something. Which isn't hard to imagine. Everyone here's got something to hide. They have their reasons. And Callahan really doesn't need to know those. Chances are they aren't going to make his job any easier or make him any more keen on any of these pillocks if he knows all their soppy little sad-secrets.
So he flips the medical journal closed, looks up at Tailor and says, perfectly reasonable: "Th' anisocoria, wou'd tha' be a consequence o' th' headset implant then? It predates th' surgery an' didnae disappear in the post-surgery period. I'd expect a lot o' his complication, seizures and..." he opens the file again and checks again, "... periodical fits o' confusion along wi’ certain spatial-visual comprehension issues, can be blamed on that. Further surgery might be adviseable, if blood clots or th' like 're creatin' th' pressure that's causin' that anisocoria."
Dr Tailor's particular choice of words at times, a masked attentiveness to the body language of his peers; these all seem in subtle opposition to the picture of an incompetent twat. Zach waits for Callahan to ask something else. Zach knows this isn't about him. It's about Harvey. The tired, attempting-to-not-be-ashamed leer that Zach pulls to look at it can see that dead-neutral stare knows how not to be read. Callahan is not stupid, for all his babbling habits of speech might imply to some. He relaxes partially when the judging returns to patient questions.
"He says the anisocoria's from an accident when he was much younger, but ah... the rest of it is, as I understand it, like you say. The fact it hasn't resolved means either his memory's right, or an obstruction like you're suggesting." Attempts to request past medical records from off-base had so far been ignored, but he wasn't out of options on that one yet.
Callahan continues the blank-faced query. "So ye havenae done tests ta see if there's residual blood clots from whatever procedure implant'd th' device? Or... god forbid, residual blood clots from th' boy's recent surgery." The surgery that apparently only has one MD's name attached to it in the papers, and that doctor’s sitting right in front of Callahan, giving off the stale smell that long-kept bullshit tends to leave.
"Yes I--" he stops. He flips a couple more papers in the folder over, checking he hasn't missed one stuck to each other. "Hhh--that's not right." There ought to be an additional little folder in here with additional information on post-operative recovery. Someone's moved it--wait. He scrunches his nose up in self-directed impatience, gets up from his chair, right out of his office to find the filing cabinet with his own folder sorted away.
Callahan shuffles lazily behind Tailor, keeping him in sight but not attempting to crawl onto his shoulders, trying to nose into whatever excuses the plump medic's looking for now.
Dr Tailor is at the cabinet in quick strides, he hears the other doctor follow. Don't kid yourself, he's not running away. He slides a drawer open.
"Ohlookitthat they're all neat now," he lets slip. Ruffling through paper, a cabinet shoved shut, and one quick, unamused thwap of the slim folder in hand as he holds it up for the one present onlooker. It bothered him less that part of Harvey's paperwork was tucked in with his own than the possibility he'd overlooked something vital; there was always that possibility. Thankfully this error didn't hurt anything but his appearances.
Callahan watches the little display with a tired sort of disinterested patience. "And th' answer, then?"
Dr Tailor answers quietly. Likely the lack of sleep. Sudden preoccupation with being considerate was... not really his way if he's this bugged with himself. "The answer is yes I checked for blood clotting, and if you see something there I don't let me know." Just. take the folder. Please.
Callahan nods and reaches for the folder. He takes it with very little hurrah or closer inspection of Tailor, but doesn't move an inch as he opens it and starts to skim the contents in resigned quietude, like a schoolteacher checking the pupil's late homework for faults.
Dr Tailor would prefer to default to his usual smarmy defense. Inappropriate. Also he's tired and stuck standing here like an ignoramus. He leans against the cabinet in an attempt to at least be more comfortable.
Callahan closes the folder, apparently content, or at least minimally satisfied, with what his quick inspection of the papers showed. He nods at Tailor. "I'll be borrowin' this," he says flatly. "Ta fer yousser time," and thanks for wastin' mine seems to almost be tacked on in the pseudo-polite monotone of his voice.
Sudden interruption, hard line of questions, and flip! He's off and it's over with. If he were an honest man he'd probably feel a little socially violated right now. Zach perks an eyebrow. "...right then." Tone-matching perfectly because it was easier than stressing out. For some reason he bothers to grab the rest of Harvey's files and leaves his office again to hand those to Callahan too. "...so it doesn't run off and hide in the wrong folder again."
He turns to get out of here without waiting for a reply.
Dr Tailor's step catches, he turns his head but the rest of him doesn't follow.
Callahan tucks the folders under his arm, and straightens up slightly. He’s got a bit of a worn look on him, but then again, everything from top to toe on this man looks second-hand. Especially his interest seems recycled several times over, making the following words sound oddly detached in their monotone honesty:
“Ye shoulda read my file by now. It prob’ly says somethin’ about me ownin’ a private practice in Dublin a year ago or so. It don’t say that I used ta be doin’ back-alley abortions on a reg’lar basis. In catholic Ireland. I presume tha’ e’en a chucklefuck like yerself kin imagine th’ amount o’ popularity that sorts o’ shady bullshit gets ye. Not to speak o’ th’ fact it requires a certain amount o’... discretion.”
The speech is momentarily interrupted as he starts to leisurely walk out the office.
“Makin’ sure tha’ patients who’re already hurtin’ don’ fall inta th’ eyes o’ folks who’d be hurtin’ them worse. I get that. Experience, however, tells me there be a keen difference between bein’ a subtle act an’ bein’a fockin’ paranoid tosspot who’ll end up bein’ th’ one who hurts the ones already hurtin’,” he says in a quiet, simple tone.
Filing away every word said, Tailor still ultimately pipes up in interruption: "Hey, heyEY what does this have to--" he steps after Callahan before the guy buggers off altogether. He refrains from raising his voice more than a hair. "What. If this is about you, make it about you and don't toss advice at me while you're running away."
He dislikes that both standing, he still has to look up at the guy as far as he does. "If this is about how I've handled the surgery… well. Trust me, it's not news to me at this point so just say it straight."
Callahan retains a calm expression. "I got th' distinct feelin' yer ain't keen on makin' things abou' yerself. So I didn't. But," and he nimbly sidesteps the smaller doctor. "--if it does happen to be relevant ta ye, it ain't any of my business. This--" he waves O'hannigan's folder over his shoulder as he walks down the hall "--is."
Tailor doesn't chase after Callahan further than that. He lets the worried concern turn to a temporary grimace and the beginning of a headache while backs are turned.
"... Fair enough and good luck then." Hollow but polite, his way of admitting he isn't picking a fight out of that. If this guy doesn't freak Harvey out further it'll be a miracle.
When Callahan returns to his room, it’s quiet and dark. Flicking on the lights, his eyes fall on the lonely stark-yellow model plane on the dresser. That he’d first sardonically mistaken for belonging to a child.
It still feels like it’s belonging to a child.
Callahan shakes his head and softly puts the files into his lonely, empty drawer for later perusal.
Tailor’s mistaken. It’s not about him. And it’s certainly not about Callahan. It’ll always be about those lonely, pathetic broken creatures, the patients, who nobody cares about unless they’re paid to do so.