See Diaz through Elliot’s eyes. . .From BORN TO DARKNESS:
Elliot sighed as he opened the door to exam room one. It was dark inside and the automatic sensors didn’t make the room light up, which was odd. So he slapped the wall switch, and the fluorescents sparked to life.
And illuminated Stephen Diaz, who was sitting on the floor in the corner with his knees drawn up to his broad chest, his head in his hands.
“Oh, sorry,” Elliot said. “I’m so sorry — I didn’t know you were in here.”
Diaz was up and on his feet so quickly, in one smooth motion, that Elliot almost doubted what he’d just seen. Almost. But he closed the door and stepped directly in front of it, blocking the exit, as he asked Diaz, “Are you okay?”
The other man couldn’t — or wouldn’t — meet Elliot’s eyes as he shook his head no, even as he ran his hands down his face and said, “Yeah, I’m just . . . I needed a minute. It was a really rough night and . . .” He made a sound that was vaguely laughter-like as he shook his head again.
“Yes, it was a rough night,” Elliot agreed. “Come on. Quick med scan. Off with your clothes and up on the table. Computer, access EZ. Prep full scan of Dr. Stephen Diaz. I know you did this when you first came in, but . . . It’ll take us two minutes, tops.”
Diaz looked as if he were going to give birth to a water buffalo, right there on the exam room floor. “Oh,” he said. “No. No, I just . . . I really need to be alone right now. I need to not, um . . .”
Elliot made a face. “Stephen. I gotta scan you, man. You know the rules. We can’t play games with your health and well-being. If you’re having a problem — ”
“I’m fine,” Diaz insisted. “It’s just overwhelm. Please, Dr. Z, I need you to give me a break.” He closed his eyes. “Please.”
If he’d wanted to, Diaz could’ve gone right through Elliot. Not only was he bigger and stronger, but at fifty percent integrated, he could’ve picked up Elliot without laying hands on him, floated him through the air, and moved him away from the door.
But a significant part of the training program here at OI focused on choosing when and where to unleash one’s powers. And in dealing, respectfully, with all of the many fractions who inhabited the world. Between Diaz and Mackenzie, Mac was the one who had trouble in that department.
Diaz, however, completely embraced the zen-related philosophy and monk-like lifestyle that was supposed to allow him to train more easily as he strove to be even more highly integrated.
A man of few words, he usually moved quietly through the halls at OI, doing his work and keeping to himself — which couldn’t have been all that easy for him, considering the amount of attention he generated just by looking the way he did.
The Greater-Than was jacked. He was also about three inches taller than Elliot, and Elliot had passed the six feet mark back before he’d turned fifteen. Diaz walked around on legs that were like tree trunks, and had those arms and shoulders that . . . Yes. The man was in excellent physical shape. And with his dark hair worn short, those stormy-ocean green eyes, perfect nose, and chiseled features . . .
Needless to say, Diaz’s visits to the OI gym had become something of a spectator sport for the female R&D staff.
Even though — at least as far as Elliot knew — Diaz took his training vows and accompanying celibacy very seriously.
But the truth was that Elliot didn’t know. He and Diaz weren’t friends. They were co-workers. Acquaintances who shared a mutual respect for one another. They knew each other well enough to not be thrown if they were matched during the holiday season as each other’s Secret Santas. But while Elliot regularly hung out with Mac and occasionally shot the shit with Bach, he’d never sat and chilled with Diaz.
But that wasn’t because Elliot hadn’t tried. For the seven years he’d worked here — including the past three that he’d lived on campus — he’d kept the friend card at the top of his deck whenever he’d dealt with Diaz.
It was Diaz who’d carefully kept his distance.
For a while, Elliot had thought that it might have been a gay thing — that Diaz was uncomfortable with Elliot’s sexual orientation. But as time went on, he’d realized that Diaz kept his distance from everyone.
“Okay. You can go,” Elliot said, but he didn’t move away from the door as Diaz opened his eyes to look at him. Eye contact. Finally. His pupils weren’t dilated and his eyes weren’t glazed. That was good. “But if I don’t see a report that you’ve been scanned again, sometime within the next thirty minutes? Don’t make me come and find you. Because I will. And that’s a promise.”
Diaz clenched his teeth, the muscles jumping in his jaw as he just stood there, staring back at him.
“You understand?” Elliot pushed.
Diaz closed his eyes and nodded. He even laughed a little as he whispered, “I understand,” as if something Elliot had said was funny.
“Good.” Elliot didn’t get the joke, but he stepped to the side.