Sure, Alex was a Floor Nine doctor, and that meant that he was profoundly accomplished. He was the top in his field, the one who could handle the most difficult patients. He was so, so special.

But what did it actually mean?

He was rapidly realizing that Marigold was the first person to actually question it. It felt like a single finger slipping into his ribcage and, one by one, pulling all of his bones apart. It was like a perverse magic trick, or one of those nightmares where all your teeth are connected.

Alex didn’t really control the drugs. He rarely even directly handled them; that was the job of the nurses, whom he very rarely saw. He didn’t do surgeries, or therapy, or any hands-on work. He didn’t seem to do much of anything, he was realizing. He wasn’t much of anything, other than the person whose name was on the paperwork.

So who was he? And why couldn’t he keep any of it straight in his head?