2007-10-29: The Doctors Aldric


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Cass calls her father to try and find out the information he has gathered. The two brainstorm and realize they really need to think outside the box to figure out all the missing puzzle pieces.

October 29th, 2007:

The Doctors Aldric

Undisclosed Locations (meaning I don't know)

Finally managing to decipher her father's strange email, Cass immediately goes for her cellphone to call. Stepping away from her battered laptop, she pushes the right buttons until 'Dad' comes up on her phonebook and finally, she pushes send. Holding the phone up to her ear, she paces while waiting for him to pick up.

Sitting in front of the controls to a medical imaging machine, print-outs of past results laid out beside him, is Dr. Aldric. He's deeply lost in thought, occasionally making a mark on a clipboard, when his phone inside his labcoat vibrates. "Mhghhrrrmm," he protests, because he forgot to turn it off — it's not supposed to be on in here! Taking it out and glimpsing the Caller ID (worth that extra cost!), he hurries up a small set of stairs. His steps still thud as he answers. "Cassandra!"

Hearing the sort of commotion in the background and her father's exclamation of her name makes her stop in her pacing for a moment and put a hand on the wall. "Dad." It's not as excited, but she's certainly curious. "I just got your message. What is going on? Someone else died of the virus? You were at the Petrellis?"

Dr. Aldric says, "Yes, ah… unfortunately. I visited the Petrelli residence, yes." The commotion halts as he stands in an empty corridor. "I felt time was of the essence. Have you examined the virus lately? It's making noise about progressing, if you ask me. I took the brothers and Ms. Gomez in for further testing. The etiology seems to match that of the recently deceased Mr. Burstein."

"Unfortunately? They're really not that bad patients." It's her attempt at a little humor, as stale as it may be. Cass sighs and nods, even though she knows it means nothing to her father right now. "I haven't even heard about Mr. Burstein until you told me. But, you're right, it seems to be advancing. I talked management at your Company…Mr. Bishop. He wasn't really very helpful. We have to talk to someone else he wouldn't explain more. But this is ridiculous, dad. If the virus is progressing like you say it is, we don't have much time."

"I imagine he's trying his best," Dr. Aldric says. "Burstein was probably just a nameless face in the crowd until— until, well, until now." When he's dead. "I can forward you this list of other potentially infected persons. But look, Cassandra, I'm going over the results from the MRIs and ultrasounds and the advanced blood testing on top…"

"Hmph." Whether or not Cass thinks Bob is 'doing his best' is up for debate. At least he talked with them. That's certainly a step in the right direction. "Yes, please." Because going over the same things over and over and getting nowhere is frustrating. At least this is fresh information. But, when Aldric trails off, her breath catches in her throat. "But, what, dad? What's wrong?"

"It was much more advanced in Burstein's case — I was able to see his file." Through Company ties, no doubt. "Much more aggressive. But I'm seeing a pattern, here. The hormone levels are off. More off than before, if my eyesight still proves correct. I'm seeing almost what you'd see in a case of severe adrenal insufficiency."

Of course. Those Company ties. It's like being a part of the Old Boys club. Not that Cass is calling her father old in her head, even if he is. Sort of. "I don't doubt your eyesight." Because even if he wears glasses, that doesn't mean anything in this case. "Adrenal insufficiency?" That makes her think further. "….kidney failure." That's what Cara Hayes was pronounced dead of. It's starting to make sense. Going over the symptoms that everyone has, it all starts to fit together. She scrambles for her own files. "Dizziness. Tiredness. Weakness…" they all have it. "It's attacking the adrenal glands? Why in the world…"

"I'm not sure. I suppose kidney failure is just as good as heart or lung failure if you're a virus attempting to end your host's life," Dr. Aldric comments. "His blood is being tested now for contagiousness. His body was sent over from the morgue. Just in time, they're postponing the funeral…"

"I suppose." If a virus has to kill, it kills. "…postponing the funeral. Oh God." If man had it, that means…it could be all over Manhattan. Further, even. And it's not limited to those with abilities. Everyone could have it. But, it's not airborne. They haven't found anything to indicate it being airborne. "Mr. Bishop said that it's not merely attacking those with abilities. That anyone can have it. We still don't know how it jumped bodies, do we?"

"Mhhh. There's nothing to indicate Burstein was anything other than like you and I." Normal. Dr. Aldric clears his throat and sighs raggedly — tiredly. "No."

Clearly frustrated, there's a long silence on Cass' end of the phone. "So it's killing the people without abilities faster than it is killing those with? Or…well. Mr. Burstein lived with this virus supposedly for years without it advancing to the stage where it killed him. What made it change now? Or…or did he contract it relatively recently? Dammit, I hate not having all the facts in front of me."

"Well, let's think about what we do have," Dr. Aldric instructs his daughter. "The virus doesn't present until it has that separate half. Our catalyst. Until then, it appears dormant, or … at least asymptomatic. If Burstein followed the same pattern, he was either exposed to some kind of trigger earlier, or yes, it destroyed his system more quickly. The reports are certainly indicating an aggressive illness before death. He was forcing himself to work all that time, says his wife."

There's a quiet moment for Mr. Burstein and his wife that Cass gives him. That moment where a patient is more than just a statistic, he was a living breathing person who forced himself to work through what must have been near impossible conditions and kidney failure. "The catalyst. Through Peter's bloodwork, I think I can narrow that much down. He had the asymptomatic version of the virus before and then a few months later, he had the full blown thing. So. We're dealing with two separate forms of spread infection? Or…I don't know. Burstein would have had to come in contact with Peter or Nathan or Elena in order for him to contact that part of the virus, wouldn't he have? Unless…unless there's a link we're missing."

Dr. Aldric shares that same moment of silence. "Or what did they come in contact with? Maybe Burstein encountered the same thing. Which Mr. Bishop hasn't, at least since contracting the initial virus, and which Peter Petrelli hadn't encountered until later. Maybe we have to think outside the box, here, Cassandra."

"What did…" Cass thinks that over. She's been playing too by the book, by the rules, trying to figure this out. She's literally been reading everything she can in books. "Let's think. Let's think. Peter thinks this is all his fault somehow. That…he brought this back somehow. But if that were the case, then Mr. Burstein shouldn't have been sick because I doubt the two had been together. Where did Mr. Bursetin work? What did he do? Do we know?"

"That's right. He said that. Something about a dream. I— " Dr. Aldric's thought is cut off by another of his thoughts, that of Burstein's workplace; prompted by Cass's questions, he says, "Hold on, let me just…" He heads down a hall, making some twists and turns until he opens the door of a lab and rummages in a drawer and… "…here somewhere…" Any time now. "Ah, he worked in a plant in the meatpacking district. People run into each other all the time, Cassandra, without even knowing it. It's New York City."

"Meatpacking district." Anything could have happened. Trying to think outside of the box hurts her head to a certain extent. It means there are so many more possibilities. "What are we missing, dad? What are we not thinking about? If it was Peter going to the future, I can't see how anyone else could have contracted it who didn't come into contact with Peter. And I've never heard of Mr. Burstein before." It's so frustrating.

"The f-future?" Dr. Aldric stumbles over that concept. He blinks rapidly behind his glasses, the sheets of paper containing information about Burstein flopping over in his hand — not that Cass can witness this. "Didn't come into… well, hold on a minute, are we sure there's anybody we know of, who's sick — sick now — who hasn't come into contact with Peter? There's Burstein but who's to say. But I suppose all of your… patients… were also at Mount Sinai also. Hmm. So was our Mr. Bishop and he's fine. That is, he hasn't encountered a— a catalyzer, we'll call it. I haven't encountered a problem going in circles like this since my theoretical classes in med school."

"Neither have I." And even then, it wasn't something she can handle. Cass pauses, maybe she shouldn't have let that slip. The future bit. But, well, she's frustrated and not thinking. She's trying to bounce ideas off of her father and for a moment she forgot that maybe he shouldn't know everything. "Yes," she says. "He didn't have the second catalyzer until he came back. He may have gotten it before that, but he certainly had it afterwards." Thinking over everyone she's tested, the woman shakes her head. "I can't think of anyone. The only people who were sick that I personally know of who have the symptomatic version of the virus have had contact with him. They were all at Sinai, they all had contact with Peter." Even more frustrating. Putting a hand over her face, she resists the urge to shout. "We're getting nowhere. If Burstein had this virus, he had to have gotten the second strand somewhere. If it's not from Peter, then what do they all have in common? If Cara Hayes didn't die of the virus, then her being out of state doesn't need to fit in."

"We will figure this out. Before more people die. We will, Cassandra. We'll sleep with our thinking caps on, huh?" A persistent *beep-beep-beep* interrupts the lab Dr. Aldric stands in. A pager. "I'm being paged, I ah, I have to go. I'll talk to you soon."

"My hair looks funny when I fall asleep with one of those on," Cass sighs into the phone. While she'd like to monopolize her father's time entirely until they figure this out, she realizes he has other things to do. Hopefully other things having to do with this. "Alright, dad. Thanks for the information. I'll talk to you soon. Love you."

"Love you too Cassandra," the doctor says before hanging up — terse, but sincere — before hanging up and rushing off. Duty calls.

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