Five Times Gary Bell Spoke the Truth and One Time He Didn't by Lbilover

Originally written for Yuletide 2012.

1. Sandra Bell. 317 words.

It wasn't as if their relationship had been rock solid before Gary was born. Sandra sometimes thought guiltily that her pregnancy was less about wanting a child than wanting to save her marriage. Instead, it destroyed it as surely as a torpedo sank a ship: hitting it below the water line until, slowly at first and then rapidly, it went under.

Because Gary was different. He wasn't demonstrative nor was he responsive to physical affection. He existed in his own world, drawing strange patterns in the air with his small hand, seeming to see things invisible to anyone else.

Sandra felt a fierce protective love for her son, and she treasured every rare time that Gary smiled at her or laughed or let her hold him without squirming. To her he was beautiful, her strange, beautiful boy. To her husband, he was an object of embarrassment, and he left Gary more and more to her sole care.

“He needs to be institutionalized,” he finally said one day when Gary was five years old. His expression was disgusted as he watched Gary’s fingers flick and twist and his eyes track back and forth as if following a moving object.

“Never,” was Sandra’s flat response. She put her arms protectively around Gary, who struggled in their confines.

“If you won’t agree to it, Sandra, this marriage is over.”

“It was over a long time ago. Get out.”

He didn’t waste any time but packed a bag and got out, and slammed the door behind him. Sandra lowered her head to the table and wept.

“Mom,” Gary said. “Mom, don’t cry.” She stared at him in shock. He was looking at her as he looked at the invisible patterns he wove in the air, with his full attention. “We don’t need him.”

Out of the mouths of babes, she thought, recognizing the truth of his words, and dried her eyes.

2. Lee Rosen. 585 words.

Sandra Bell had the troubled expression of someone doubting the rightness of her actions. Lee half expected her to change her mind, and began marshaling arguments to persuade her that allowing him to work with Gary was in fact the best thing for her child. He understood, none better, the peculiar hell that was being parent to an Alpha, the combination of confusion, pride, terror, protectiveness and helplessness that it invoked.

Matters hung in the balance as Sandra hovered in the doorway of his office. Then she stepped inside and drew Gary in with her, and Lee released a breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding.

“Honey, this is Dr. Rosen,” Sandra said. “Dr. Rosen, this is my son Gary.”

“Hello, Gary,” Dr. Rosen said, and held out his hand. Gary took it with visible reluctance, seemingly no more keen than his mother to be there, and shook it, avoiding direct eye contact all the while.

Sandra went on, “Dr. Rosen is a therapist, Gary. He works with people like you, people with special abilities like yours.”

Gary jerked his head and played with the blue cotton wristband on his left wrist. “I know, Mom. You already told me.”

Lee said quickly, “Sandra, I’ll take things from here. Come back in an hour, all right?”

“Dr. Rosen...” She bit her lip, clearly torn.

“You can trust me.” How he hoped that was true.

She stared at him for a moment then squeezed Gary’s shoulder. “I’ll see you later, honey,” she said, and left.

“Why don’t you have a seat?” Lee invited, and gestured at a chair.

But Gary wasn’t listening. Mouth hanging slightly open, he was staring intently at something Lee couldn’t see, and his right thumb and forefinger flicked and twisted in the air while his left hand supported his wrist.

Sandra had explained, as best she could, the nature of Gary’s ability. “He watches TV and surfs the Internet, Dr. Rosen, but without a television or a computer.” A human transducer, in other words, who could intercept electromagnetic wavelengths. Lee was fascinated.

“Gary, what are you looking at?” Lee asked.

Gary ignored him at first, his eyes focused on whatever transmission he’d found. Then he said without looking at him, “Dr. Rosen, you have terrible security on your server.”

“What?” Lee stared. “You mean you’re accessing the office computers? But we have a firewall.”

“You have a terrible firewall,” Gary corrected him. “Anyone can get by it. Why did you google ‘gingko biloba’?”

Lee was startled into laughter.

Gary scowled. “It’s not funny, Dr. Rosen. You should be more careful.”

Lee sobered. “You’re right, Gary. I’m sorry for laughing. Security is not a laughing matter. Thank you for telling me. I’ll have it looked into as soon as possible.”

“You don’t have to,” Gary said. “I can do it.”

“You can?”

“I just said I can. Dr. Rosen, you don’t listen good.”

A sobering charge to be leveled at a therapist, Lee thought. “I’m sorry,” he said again. “I’ll try to listen better. And yes, if you can make the server more secure, I’d be very grateful, Gary.”

For the first time, Gary made eye contact with Lee and smiled, revealing an entirely different young man hiding underneath the protective layers he wore like a turtle’s carapace. “You’re supposed to help me, but I’m helping you. I’m helping you, Dr. Rosen.”

“You’re right,” Lee said. “Now I want to help you in return.”

“Will you teach me how to drive?” Gary asked.

3. Gary Bell. 250 words, based on the episode 'Rosetta'

“You don’t need Doctor Rosen, or your mother to take care of you,” Anna had said. “You’re really smart.”

He thought about that after Nina left. Nina was upset with him. But he was upset with Nina. She didn’t understand him. No one did, except for Anna. She was the first one. She didn’t treat him like a child. She didn’t make fun of him, call him ‘big shot’. She didn’t think because he was autistic he couldn’t take care of himself. She said he was amazing.

She was his friend. The first friend he’d made on his own, unlike the rest of the Alphas team.

Anna opened windows in Gary’s mind that let in new possibilities, showed him what he was capable of.

But Anna had lied to him. She’d deliberately given him the wrong truck number.

“Make a choice for yourself, Gary. All you have to do is say nothing.”

The words ticked over in his brain. He had two choices: to say nothing or to give Dr. Rosen and the team the information they needed to stop people from being hurt. No, Dr. Rosen wasn’t one of them, and yes, sometimes the others were impatient with him or treated him like a child. But they were his friends, too, and he was still part of the team.

Make a choice for yourself, Gary.

He slid his cell phone from his pocket, texted Rachel.

And then he told Anna what he’d done.

4. Nina Theroux. 400 words, based on the episode 'Wake Up Call'.

Nina swore she was finished with the team and nothing would persuade her to come back. She'd placed her faith in Dr. Rosen, she'd allowed others into her life and heart, and all it had brought her was grief. She didn’t need them. She was fine on her own. Better than fine. She had the best of everything: cars, clothes, men. Anything she wanted or needed, she could have with a simple push. And why not? Who was Lee, or Cam, or anyone else, to tell her how to use her ability?

Then one day, on a New York City sidewalk, Lee Rosen called her name.

"Go home," she said dismissively to the very attractive man she'd been pushing, and turned to find Rosen and Rachel, both of whom looked stressed and exhausted.

Lee smiled tentatively at her, and Nina hardened her heart. "What do you want?" she asked. "Because I have things to do."

"Nina, Gary's in trouble. He needs us."

Those seven words acted on Nina with as much force as a push. She didn't even consider refusing. Not Gary, she thought in dismay. Anyone else, but not Gary. Rosen might be the team leader, the glue that had held it together until he was sent away eight months' earlier, but Gary, he was its heart. An exasperating, infuriating, difficult heart, yes, but also a funny, sweet, endearing one.

What Lee told Nina on the drive to Binghamton turned her cold as ice inside. What she saw after the rescue, when Gary was back safe in their office, made her want to weep.

She snapped at Rachel, offering him hummus. She viewed every attempt to bring Gary out of his catatonic state as doomed to failure. And then Lee stepped in and found the way. She might have known. Hadn’t he found a way past her defenses, too? Showed her a different side of herself?

Nina waited until Lee was gone, until Rachel and Cam were gone. Only then did she go up to Gary, put her arms around him and give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“No, don’t do that,” Gary said, predictably. “I don’t like that.”

“Too bad,” Nina said with a smile, and didn’t let go. She knew none better how it felt to endure what you didn’t want to endure. But sometimes you had to. Sometimes it made you a better person despite yourself.

5. Bill and Jeannie Harken. 636 words, based on the episode 'Life After Death'.

When Bill went into the kitchen, Jeannie turned from the stove where she was warming Adam’s formula and said with a frown, “Bill, I wish you’d stay in the family room.”

“Relax and stop worrying,” Bill said. “Adam trusts Gary. I trust Gary.”

Jeannie sighed. “I’m sorry, but it’s hard not to worry. Gary’s autistic.” She said this as if it were the only pertinent fact about Gary that mattered. "I'm not saying he'd harm Adam on purpose, but I don't think it's safe for him to be left alone with our-" she caught herself, "with Adam."

Bill had to remind himself that he'd had a slow, rocky start with Gary, that it had taken a while for him to understand what a truly remarkable young man his partner was beneath his numerous tics. "Gary won't let anything happen to Adam, Jeannie. Remember, he's the reason Nina and I didn't hand Adam over to the couple pretending to be his parents. He could tell something didn't add up with their story."

"But you and Nina were there. God knows what might have happened otherwise."

"The way I look at is Gary was there and God knows what might have happened if he wasn't.” He took her gently by the shoulders. “I care about Adam, too. I’d never do anything to endanger him.”

Jeannie removed the bottle from the warm water and wrapped a hand towel around it. “I know. I guess I can’t help but worry after what was done to Adam.” A rueful smile curved her lips. “Even that awful tasting antidote I have to take every day can’t affect my feelings. I love him, Bill.”

“You’re not the only one, sweetheart.”

Neither mentioned the fact that they didn’t know how long he’d be staying, or that increasingly they were hoping he’d become theirs permanently.

They returned to the family room to find Gary sitting on the sofa with Adam in his lap. He smiled at them when they came in, and said, “I told Adam a joke, Bill. He laughed.”

“He did, huh?” Bill said.

“Yeah, he did. He thinks I’m funny, Bill.”

"Gonna start a new career as a stand up comic for babies, huh?" Bill joked.

"No, Bill, I'm a professional government agent."

Jeannie said, obviously trying hard not to laugh, “It’s time for Adam’s bottle, Gary. I’ll take him now.”

“I can feed him. I know what to do. I fed him before, at the office. Remember, Bill? I was incredible. Nina said so.”

“Yeah, I remember, Gary.”

Jeannie glanced at Bill, who nodded, and then with a little shrug, Jeannie gave the bottle and a bib to Gary. She hovered nearby, just in case, but Gary appeared to know what he was doing. He fastened the bib around Adam’s neck, positioned him correctly in his arms, and tested the temperature of the formula on the back of his hand before setting the nipple to the baby’s lips at precisely the right angle. Adam drank contentedly, and Jeannie relaxed.

“What did I tell you?” Bill said softly.

“He does seem to have a way with Adam,” she admitted, watching them.

Gary had his head bent and he was talking to the baby. “I’m taking care of you again. But just this time. You have Bill and Jeannie now. They take care of you good. They’ll always take care of you good. You’re lucky.”

Jeannie let out a strangled sound, and Bill put his arm around her. Damn, he thought. Sometimes Gary hit the nail a little too solidly on the head for comfort. But if Gary said it, it was the truth. And that meant something.

“Maybe they’ll change your name to Benjamin or Kyle,” Gary added. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Bill burst out laughing, which, after all, was better than crying.

6. Gary Bell. 250 words, based on the episode 'God's Eye'.

Bodies lay everywhere, sprawled motionless on the unforgiving floor. The silence was absolute, shocking after the uproar that had preceded it. Even the air was dead, the signals with which it normally teemed and buzzed, like the bees at Alphaville, muted as if in horror at what had occurred.

Gary moved stiffly, stepping over outflung arms and bent legs, careful not to touch them, the way he was careful not to let the different foods on his plate touch.

“Bill.” He called his partner’s name as he made the slow tortuous trek through the station, but Bill didn’t answer. No one did.

Gary crept down the stairs to the train platform. It was empty save for six bodies lying close together. He walked slowly forward, his horrified gaze moving from one person to the next: Bill, Rachel, Dr. Rosen, Stanton Parish, Hicks, Nina.

His eyes returned to Dr. Rosen. “Dr. Rosen,” he said, then more sharply, “Dr. Rosen. Dr. Rosen.”

Dr. Rosen had to wake up, Gary thought. He had to fix things. He had to make them right again.

Once Gary had said to Rachel that she had to keep telling her father the truth until he paid attention, like he did with Bill. He wanted to say to Dr. Rosen, “You can wake up now, you’re alive.” He wanted to say it to him over and over until he paid attention.

But Gary didn’t speak, and Lee Rosen remained curled on his side, like a child fast asleep.

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