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The hospital building loomed before him, and he stopped his vehicle just outside its entrance. A man who had been waiting on the steps came down to greet the newcomer.

" Dr. Xavier. You've finally arrived," he extended a hand. " I'm Dr. Miles Manson; the one who invited you here in the first place." Charles took the proffered hand, and Manson shook it quickly and let go.

" You know your job, Xavier. You're a new doctor, and you'll be treated as such. But you have one priority patient, and if anything happens to her, you drop everything and go to her, understood?" Charles nodded and turned to unload his bags, but was arrested by Manson next remark.

" And Xavier... you're being paid extremely well, so I expect good work from you. Damned good work."

" Understood." Charles found the man's attitude to be cold, business-like. He could sense it, with or without his ' special ability'. Manson did not conceal his emotions well. And Charles felt his own coolness setting in.

" Well, come along then: I'll have to show you your living quarters and your office. There's work to be done, and you aren't going to get it done standing around like this."

Manson left Charles with his own luggage, and swiftly led the way up and disappeared into the Civilian Hospital for War Victims, as the hospital was known.

Charles struggled with his several bags of no small weight, trying to match the good doctor's pace. He failed to do so. He made his way up the steps slowly, a comical balancing act, and found his superior chatting merrily with a handsome nurse at the receptionist's counter. Their talk died when they saw him. A veil fell over the warm and casual atmosphere that had preceded his arrival. Replacing it, was a smug look of superiority on their faces. Theirs was not the look of knowledge of any physical or mental superiority on their parts; rather it was the look that one gave to newcomers. The smug assurance that the ' tenderfeet' were definitely inferior in some obscure yet significant way.

For any normal man, the look would have been enough to make him uncomfortable.

For Charles, who did not have to guess at men's feelings and thoughts, but rather, knew them, it was truly embarrassing.


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