1965-03-25 - Rescuing Joey
Summary: Josh rescues a little mutant boy whose own power is attacking his body.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
josh daire 

|ROLL| Josh +rolls 1d100 for: 42

Sitting on the desk, having moved Josh's papers and things to one side, Daire had been working at the Community Center, stocking things, doing inventory of what was needed, and generally helping out, but now the day was winding down and he was mostly waiting for Josh to be done so that they could head out and grab some food. It was around then that a woman had come in, looking distraught, and had asked to speak with Josh.

She told him that her young son was a mutant, and that they weren't entirely sure what his power was, but that he seemed to take damage and the heal from it at a fairly rapid rate. They never could figure out what caused the damage, but he seemed to heal quickly so they had hoped it would pass, but in recent days things had gotten worse, and now he seemed to be taking damage faster than his healing was able to counter it, and she had heard that Josh might be able to help her son.

Josh, for the moment, happens not to be gold; its not that no one needed care but that the care was all minor and readily done with first aid. He didn't even do it himself, having been training others basic emergency and first aid care so they could keep someone alive while waiting for Josh to get here. It's part of his strategy to improve the general wellfare but also conserve his own not unlimited power. That said, he nods soberly to the woman, "I'm sure, one way or another, I'll be able to help." He doesn't elaborate on the one way or the other is. A glance over to Daire and a quick smile and a cocking of his head to the door, "Lead the way, ma'am?"

Daire hops down off the desk and grins, knowing that the healer's work is never done. He goes along. He tends to go along, particularly if Josh makes house calls, just in case. Never know what one might run into, and it's good to have someone at your back. The woman seems grateful for the help, and she doesn't seem to mind the presence of the gargoyle-looking mutant. Indeed, where they are headed isn't all that far from the community center.

It's a run-down little apartment building, kept tidy, but clearly in need of repair. She explains as they go, "He's been complaining that the pain has been getting worse, and then we noticed the bruises weren't healing, and then.. well, you'll see." She lets them into the small apartment. It's not large, but seems comfortable. There are family photos everywhere of mom, dad, son, perhaps aunts, uncles, and cousins. Some have obvious mutations, most do not. Her son's room is at the back of the apartment.

Inside, the boy lies in bed with the blankets and sheets drawn up to his chin, looking wan with big dark circles under his eyes. There are shelves with books, boxes with toys, and a window that looks out onto the courtyard below covered in potted plants, with a flower box outside, but the plants inside seem to be dried out and less than healthy.

Josh pauses to examine the room, pursing his lips thoughtfully, looking from the young man to the flowers outside. He glances sidelong to Daire and nods to the flowers, to indicate he thinks their state might be relavent, and then heads over to crouch by the boy's bed. "Hi." Josh smiles, warm and kind, "My name is Josh, I'm a doctor and a mutant. I'm here to see if I can help you." He reaches a tanned hand out and nods encouragingly to the kid, "If you'll let me hold your hand I might be able to figure out what's wrong and how to help you."

Daire glances over toward the flowers and wanders over to take a look at them, and then out the window and to the surrounding neighborhood. He doesn't say anything, just sort of staying out of the way, hands in his pockets and being unobtrusive. This isn't his area of expertise. Still, he grins a little when Josh starts talking to the boy.

The boy's skin, at least on his face, seems to be rapidly bruising and then healing, lacerations opening up and then going away again. However, some of the bruises are lingering, and they seem to be spreading, more remaining than healing. "I'm Joey," he says. When Josh asks for his hand, he says, "Okay." He holds out his hand to take Josh's.

On a first scan it's clear that the boy's body is taking massive and consistent damage. The damage on the inside is as extensive as it appears on the outside, extending to organs and extremities alike. Conversely, he also seems to have an aggressive healing factor that is working to counteract the damage as quickly as it can, but it doesn't seem to be strong enough.

There is a frown on Josh's features, and he glances over at the flowers outside. "Open the window?" he asks of Daire, stepping over to the window and reaching a hand out to touch the plants as he does so. "I'm going to try something; worst case scenario…, well, one way or another you'll be fine before I leave, Joey. I promise." And with that a golden light radiates out of his hands as his skin turns gold, and that light flows over the plants, suffusing them with life and healing them up to peak condition. As he does this his eyes are entirely upon the boy.

Daire moves over toward the window. As soon as he opens it, however, the boy starts to cough violently and groans in pain. Josh is able to heal the flowers without any trouble, though in the process of sensing their condition and as he heals them, he can tell that they are heavily polluted. It might be then that he notices that the room itself smells fresh and clean, but the breeze that wafts in through the window is heavy with industrial odors from factories and businesses nearby.

"Okay, close window please." Josh goes back to the kid, and crouches by him again to take up his hand. He pauses for a long moment, thoughtful, "I believe he is extremely sensitive to pollution, that he is absorbing it somehow— and it causes massive damage. His healing factor is impressive but is steadily being overwhelmed. Here, while I figure this out." The golden glow spreads from his gold skin and flows into the young man, not quite healing him yet, but completely nullifying pain. He glances around, "In here, its… pristine, clean. Out there it's polluted. The only reason the inside would be this clean was if he was taking the pollution into himself, I think. Dai? Other ideas?"

Daire assists as asked, and closes the window back up, flipping the latches to lock it back in place once more. It takes several long moments, but eventually the boy returns closer to the state that he was in when they arrived, though the growth of the damage has still not abated. Joey seems to rest a little easier once the pain has been taken from him, though, easing back on the bed and letting his eyes close.

Looking around the room and breathing in the air, Daire nods and says, "It definitely seems cleaner in here. And that makes sense, if he gets worse when we open the window and let the air in." He then looks over toward the mother and asks, "When did this start?"

She says, "We first started noticing his healing about six months ago. Before that.. he didn't seem to have any mutations, like some of his cousins. But this started getting much worse over the last few weeks." She looks over toward the plants on the windowsill and says, "He loved all the different colors, watering them. But we couldn't keep them alive lately."

"Okay, there's… some options." Josh turns to look up at the mother, "First, I could restore him and keep him stable, and you can move out to the country where its not very polluted. Outside of a city its likely his healing factor would keep the damage under control. The second is I can attempt to alter his physiology so its more resistant to pollution — so the healing factor can 'win' in this arms race." He hesitates, sounding… tentative, "The third, and I offer this only in the most extreme cases where someone can't control their ability and its a threat to themselves or everyone else, is I can deactivate his x-gene. That's not guaranteed to be a permanent solution, as it might reactivate during a future traumatic event." He pauses, "The other option is I can work with him to try to teach him to control this pollution absorption ability. That's likely to take quite awhile and its likely best that I turn off his x-gene between sessions. I note that in both situations involving deactivating the x-gene leaves him vulnerable to… anything else. His healing factor is impressive, I doubt much could really hurt him normally."

The mother listens in silence as Josh lays out the possibilities. Her brow furrows a little bit, and she looks to her son and back to Josh several times throughout the entire process. "I'm not sure that we can just pick up and move out to the country. I would have to talk to his father. Our jobs are here. We can afford this place, but we'd both have to find new jobs." This seems to concern her, but doesn't seem outside the realm of possiblity. Then she says, "I don't like the idea of turning off something that is a part of him…" She looks over at Joey, "But if it's hurting him.. " Then she says, "But you said you could boost his healing? Make him heal faster? Would he still be in pain, though? Would he feel all that pain while he's healing, even if he could heal it away?"

"I'm not sure: I might be able to boost his immune response so that he doesn't suffer as much damage, then his healing might very well heal it almost as soon as the damage happens. Or I could refine his ability to heal this particular kind of damage. You only feel pain at major injuries— cells die all the time and you don't feel it. If his healing factor kicks in to heal as soon as individual cells die, he _probably_ wouldn't even notice." Josh pauses a moment, lifting a golden hand, "Note that this is theoretical, I won't really know until I try. Its an option, but if it doesn't work or leaves him in pain, we can approach other options."

The mother says, "What do you think is the best option? Which would you choose if it were up to you?"

Josh goes silent for a long moment, thoughtful, turning his gaze to look at Daire. Not that he expects Dai to know what's best in this, this is Josh's area after all, but just to get comfort for seeing the support he knows he'll see there. "I suggest I attempt to adjust his physiology, make him more resistant to the pollution, as a first step. Maybe it won't work, maybe it will, but its the least… extreme option. But that level of modification will be taxing and will take some time. Do you have coffee? Cookies or something else with sugar?"

Daire reaches over and gives Josh's arm a gentle squeeze, nodding his support and giving him a little smile that says "You've got this."

The mother nods and says, "I think.. I'd rather not turn off what is a part of him, especially if it will help keep him safe, keep him healing. Please try." She then nods and says, "Yes, I have coffee and we have cookies and coffee cake. I'll go put on a pot." She then turns to head out of the room and goes to the kitchen where she begins to get down some cookies and slices of cake, setting them on a plate. She gets down three mugs for coffee and starts a pot brewing, leaving the two to attend to Joey.

Daire says once she's left the room, "It's a good first step."

"This might not be comfortable, Joey." Josh turns his attention to the kid, "I can't leave your pain off and see the reaction of your body to the effect as readily; I'm sorry. I'll numb it as much as I can, but it is something that's going to feel at the very least weird." He nods over to Daire again, flashing a quick smile for the squeeze, "Open the window again? I need a… clear and overt signal of the damage being done to be able to make this work." He turns and looks at Joey, takes a breath, and closes his eyes. The golden glow radiates off of his skin, and flows over into the young man; this is not a simple healing, nothing trivial at all. He delves deeply into the tissue, watching cell by cell as tissue dies, and looks for the contaminant the reaction the tissue beyond it holds. Josh doesn't focus on the healing factor, but instead on the body's own immune system and filtration process. Something in the kid's body is not reacting as it should to these foreign substances, and as it happens, he has on hand a perfectly tuned example to compare the reaction of pollution to— his own body, that he understands intimiately.

Daire moves over and opens the window again, standing by it to close it again if need be. He's more than content to assist in whatever way that he can, but otherwise let Josh do his thing.

As Josh delves into the kid's body and the window is open he can see the sudden surge in damage. What he can also see is that while it seems to cause great irritation in the body, the body tries to absorb it, in what appears to be a massive immune response as though to an allergen of some kind. However, the body also seems to be creating its own sort of toxins that seem to come from the boy's mutation. These seem designed to process the polutants, because when they combine with it, it seems to be destroyed, leaving the area around the boy free of contaminants. However, the toxins seem to also be what is doing the damage to his own body that his healing factor is struggling to keep up with. He is effectively both purifying the environment and poisoning himself.

It is a long period of several minutes with Josh silent, glowing lightly gold, and holding onto Joey's hand, as he studies the process. He focuses upon the toxins, reaches in deep to capture just one— a single antigen in the masses of biology. This he looks at and turns this way and that, his power keeping it from touching anything else, focusing only upon the matter. He seizes a memory t-cell, and brings it together with that of the antigen; and he spends time, time he can't even count and isn't aware of, shaping the memory cell to produce an antibody that will bind to the antigen that destroys the pollutants. The boy's body is essentially an autoimmune disorder: it is producing an antibody to pollution, btu that antibody persists after and attacks his natural cells. And so, Josh seeks to make an antibody to that antibody. If it works, it wouldn't likely completely destroy the damage, but he hopes it would stop the damage soon enough that the healing factor can smooth it over.

Daire watches Josh as he works, settling nearby. He takes a cup of coffee gratefully that is offered to him and he sips from it, his attention wholly focuses on Josh and the boy. He says to the mother, "What he can do? It's really amazing. If anyone can help Joey, it's Josh." He reassures her with all the confidence of one who believes those words with his whole heart.

As Josh works, he is able to create an antibody for the antibody, and it seems that it does what he hopes it would do, helping the boy's own immune system that is working so hard to combat the pollutants that it is also poisoning itself. When Josh allows the antibody to go to work, he can see that it is doing what he hoped it would do. If he can cause the boy's body to generate both on its own, then it should be able to neutralize enough of the damage that even in this highly polluted atmosphere, that he should be able to heal it over and overcome it once more.

Josh reaches a hand out, questing; this is a familiar thing. He wants sweet, sugar, caffine. Either, really. Each has a pro and con with how it effects his energy levels: both boost him, sugar lets him last longer while caffeine crashes him quicker, but in an immediate moment, … either works, in short-term, but Daire knows his habits on food and healing. Something complex likely will go better if there's not the crash of caffeine. Having a memory t-cell in place, he guides it to the thymus, and lets it settle there and multiply. To make those memory t-cells part of his natural immune response. This done, Josh collapses back and falls flat on his ass, breathing heavily. "I… don't know if that will work, long-term." he breathes, "But it might. Dai? Can you give them our home number? In case."

When Josh reaches out, Daire puts a slice of coffee cake into his hand to eat, starting him with the food and the sugar. It's just substantial enough and with just enough sugar that it should allow him to continue. And when he falls back, Daire is there to catch him with one arm going around him so that the impact of ass to floor is at least a soft one. Once he's made sure that Josh is lowered to the ground and safely seated, he hands him a napkin and the cup of coffee as well. "Yeah, I'll write it down," he says, finding a bit of paper and a pen and writing the number down.

Joey begins to slowly look visibly better. His healing factor, with the combined antibodies, begin to take over and even with the window open, he begins to breathe easier and some of the bruising begins to ebb. It's not instantaneous, but it's clear that what Josh has set in motion seems to be taking hold. Daire gets up and goes over to close the window, "Just.. to let him get back to stable," he explains. "Once he's doing better, try opening it a little bit and see how he does. If he stays good.. let us know. If it gets worse, definitelyc all us and we'll come back," he promises.

The mother smiles with relief and goes to sit by Joey on the bed. "Thank you, thank you so much."

Eating the cake isn't precisely neat, but with flour and fat in addition to the sugar, its good maintaining Josh's strength, so Dai chose well, as Josh expected. But there are crumbs. CRUMBS. There's a long moment after he's finished when he just sort of relaxes leaning against Daire, for a time. But when Joey starts looking better and Dai heads to close the window, Josh nods in slow agreement, "It might take some time. Open for a minute, if he suffers, close. It should clear him in a few minutes. Next day, open another minute. Ideally, every day its longer— a lot longer— it should be exponential as the memory cells replicate through his body. If at any day he's worse then the day before, call us immediately. If over the course of a week he's not better, call us. If something weird or painful or unusual, call us." Josh reaches out to grasp Joey's hand and give it a golden squeeze, smiling, "You'll be fine, believe me. Your gift isn't unlike mine: once we have this set I don't think there's much that can kill you." He nods to the mother, "You're welcome. I gotta get home, I'll stop by tomorrow to bring you the coffee cup back and check how things are."

Joey says a warm thank you to Josh and squeezes his hand, looking better the longer that they sit there.

When Josh is ready, Daire helps him up and back toward home.

Only time will tell, but it looks like things are going in a positive direction for Joey.

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