A weird thing happened when September screamed its fury at Dou.
It happened a long time ago, well over a hundred years, and was called the Event. The then thriving world of Dou, full of sky-scrapers, and planes, and cars, came to a sudden halt when the sun September lashed out, a solar flare erupting and clawing out into the solar system. All technology instantly failed. Even emergency generators couldn't stand against the onslaught from the planet's sun. Many people died that day, from accidents, or from their own medical devices switching off. The hospitals were overwhelmed, and there wasn't much they could do.
But that wasn't the weird thing. That was just the unfortunate part. No, the weird thing was a small percentage of people, who suddenly gained strange abilities. They became super, but other. Most couldn't control them - they caused many deaths, including their own. But eventually, they were all gone. With time, humanity moved on. It continued, it persevered. The super-others became storybook heroes, tales for young children, that sort of thing. Soon, people began to wonder if it had really happened that way, or if a few people had gotten it into their heads that stories from books must have happened in real life, and thus they were the ones sharing such a ludicrous tale.
Humanity knew that the flare, the dreaded Event, happened, though. They created new ships, unlike their planes, that would be able to withstand even September's tantrums, even if they slowed travel to a more leisurely pace. It was better than falling out of the sky if such a disaster happened again. That became the norm, and life moved on, leaving the super-others in the past, in the pages of comic books and printed on lunchboxes…
It was forgotten, that it was real.
The Sunsetter rested idly among the dissipating storm clouds, one sad red light blimping from the cockpit to warn others of its presence. They had just weathered a severe storm, found another ship that had also been caught in the bad turn of atmosphere, and rescued the three occupants. But any thoughts of getting the three survivors to a city or station disappeared when their own ship was caught in another storm, and refused to steer any longer.
Young Kem, just newly seventeen years old and with a bizarrely orange shade of hair, fiddled about behind the wall panel, pulling out wires after wires while running the facts through his head. The storm had battered them about, and the outerplates were weakened. Then the second storm came, and there was a leak. Structural integrity was also compromised - nuts and bolts loosened, some welds had even cracked. Countless miles of cabling throughout the ship ended up both strained and fried, before finally being baptized, and had given up on life.
At least the floats are still running… he sighed relief at the thought of the powerful floats on either side of the ship's main hull. The only reason they were still in the air.
There was a whiff of chemical strawberries, and a honey voice called his name, 'Kem, come on, let's go have some fun…?' two smooth arms wrapped around his neck, something nuzzling his ear.
He could feel his face go hot, and probably bright red. 'Ah… Satishe?'
'I even got all pretty, you know?' a hand pulled his face to look at the speaker. Satishe had thick waves of golden hair -though she kept it short above her shoulders, and the smack of red lipgloss was hard to miss.
I wonder if that's what smells of chemical strawberries… fake sweetness… he couldn't move.
The voice carried down the service corridor, and Kem could feel the body against him tense up.
'Ah, damn… the Elderly Brigade…' Satishe spoke openly, almost smiling with her eyes while her lips tugged down in annoyance. She must have been pleased about her insult, but annoyed by the audience.
And Kem wanted to disappear. The Elderly Brigade!? There in the corridor stood the ship's captain, Carren Farre with her hair pulled back in a sharp bun, and the Sunsetter's first mate, a bald man with deep gouges across half his head; Lumpy. That was his nickname, his real name was Pott Lund, and the worst bit was…
Kem Lund grimaced, leaning out into the corridor, away from the wall panel and the cabling behind it. 'Hey, dad…' he paused, eyes going to the last of the three adults. It was a man with shining black hair that was always stylishly wavy, and his slim, tilted eyes seemed to be puzzled at the moment, trying to figure out if a twenty-seven year old could be counted as "elderly" along with the two people definitely beyond their thirties.
'Satishe, are you even wearing clothes!?' Captain Farre snapped.
And Kem's face went bright red. At least nobody could see his freckles now. He didn't even want to turn and look at Satishe. He knew her answer, despite her trying to reword it.
'Maybe…? A little…?'
The hands retreated from his shoulders, the body pulled away. He gave a sigh of relief and wondered if he would be included in whatever lecture the nineteen year old girl, curvaceous and gorgeous and proud of it, would get.
'Honestly, that girl…' Lund muttered, shaking his head.
The Captain nodded, 'I think a punishment would work better, she doesn't listen otherwise…' Farre's words trailed off as she noticed the younger man beside her staring back down the corridor after Satishe - who was clad only in hotpants and a bra. 'Where the hell are you staring!?'
'Hm?' the man looked back at her, his face calm and thoughtful, 'she came in yesterday with a complaint about a rash on her back. I gave her a salve, it seems it worked quite well…'
Kem smirked at the Captain's puzzled stare, but he daren't let anyone know that he reacted to the young Doctor's brazenly unbothered comment.
'Fayne, you…' Farre trailed off, shaking her head and nodding back at him. 'Kem. What's the damage report?'
'Ah. It's bad. Gotta do a whole system repair, plus I'd say get an engineer to check the hull and maybe reinforce the beams and slats, and the outerplates, so… I guess we gotta pull a stop somewhere, properly. Mm, otherwise, from what I can do, I still need new parts.'
Farre started to nod, just as the doctor, Fayne, raised a hand and waved it a little.
'Oh, me, too.'
'You need new parts…?' the captain snapped out the question.
Fayne stared, momentarily puzzled. Was that really a big deal to make a comment on? He pulled a face, 'supplies…?'
'Very well,' Farre nodded back at Lund, ignoring Fayne's raised eyebrows as he stared at the ceiling. He looked out of place for a multitude of reasons, including his tendency to wear traditional Han Empire crossed-robes and tied-up coats that never had buttons, most often with broad waist bands and a collection of intricate prints. Everyone else wore either the ship's uniform of collared brown shirt and trousers, or their own modern clothing.
Of course, Satishe went out of her way to wear as little as possible. She probably didn't even know where her uniform was, he figured. As for Kem, he had his uniform shirt on, but over the top was his jersey and overalls made of thick, oil-proof material and with plenty of loops and straps to keep his tools within reach around his waist or even on his sleeve or thigh.
And then there was Anon… in her long white dress, plain and simple, with white-gold hair that was long and neat, but not styled. She was more like a mirage… and technically… well…
But they were, for all their differences, a crew. A team. The uniform was mostly only to be worn on duty, and said little about a person. Personal clothes, however… Kem studied the print of Fayne's robes. Today was light blue crosshatching with faint little flower petals stitched into it. In Kem's mind, only Fayne could wear something so sweet with such stylish authority. It was a bizarre combination.
Farre finished speaking to Lund, and pointed at Kem. 'Get this thing going, even if it's gonna limp, we need to set her down safe.'
'Got it…! I'll just tidy this up…' he went back to his work, smiling. The innards of the Sunsetter - he knew them well. Every single bolt was known to him, every single little dent in the wall panels, the very thrum of the engines… of course he knew it well, he'd lived on the ship long enough.
Hell, he was born on it.
The three people who had been rescued off a damaged ship were in the infirmary, all silent and severe in their expressions. The girl with long brown hair lay, asleep, as she had been for the past week, a weighted tarp over her small frame, while the computer in the wall beside her steadily beeped, keeping track of her vitals. A bespectacled boy sat on the end of the bed, knees under his chin as he perused through the data on a small digital screen. His floppy hair was soft, fluffy, and the sort of hue and texture of a baby duckling. And there was the young man, leaning against the wall, staring at the floor emptily. His hair was a pale gold, and most of it was tied back in a loose knot, but the strands around his face seemed to flow where they wanted. A part of it had been tied with a red ribbon, hanging by the right side of his face. His scarred face. There was a deep cut on his right cheekbone, though clean and healing, it would never truly fade, and there was still a plaster stuck to the other side of his face. That didn't sound too bad, but his left arm was wrapped up in bandages and still ached.
The door beside him swished open, starling him into stepping away and turning to stare as Fayne came into his abode.
'Heya, Sep. Was talking to the captain, she invited you to meet her properly, dinner tonight,' Fayne told him, not really offering a seat as he took his own at his desk.
The silence behind him was questioning, and he glanced back to see a gentle baffled look on the young man's face.
'I'll go with you, okay?'
Sep nodded. They only knew his name was Sep because the boy, Takki, had told them. Sep himself said very little, mostly nodding or shaking his head, and often watching Takki as if trying to decipher what few words to speak.
'And me?' Takki hopped off the bed, wide-eyed. 'Am I invited!?'
'Ah, nope,' Fayne smiled, 'but I'll get Anon to bring you dinner.'
Dejected, the boy stared worriedly at Sep for a moment longer, before going back to his spot on the end of the young woman's bed. They had only told the crew that the woman's name was Meri. Nothing else. Neither Sep nor Takki would let the conversation continue for long.
'Thing is…' Fayne's eyes went back to the pale beige tunic that Sep was wearing. 'You can't go to dinner with the captain dressed in an infirmary gown. My clothes should fit you, though, you're almost my height and Han robes are easily adjustable for size. Hm?'
Sep raised a worried eyebrow but said nothing in complaint.
Eh? Farre stared as Fayne walked into the captain's quarters. She'd invited Sep to share a meal with her and Lund, but Fayne hadn't been invited. No wonder he didn't complain at the time, he wasn't planning to obey in the first place…
She sighed, standing up. 'Welcome, Mister Sep, was it? I'm Captain Carren Farre, this is the my first mate, Pott Lund, and… uh… you've met our doctor…' she trailed off, frowning at Sep's clothes. They weren't his clothes. They were Fayne's. The print was a pale orange and scattered with pale pink flowers and shapes. Why flowers…? Her eyes went from the blushing - and momentarily unsteady - Sep, to the smug Fayne who was busy smirking.
'Nice blushing, dude,' Fayne murmured quietly, 'just don't faint.'
Sep did look ready to pass out, wobbling slightly, his face still flushing red. Nerves? Fear? Pain?
'Come on,' Fayne pointed out the seat at the table, closest to Farre, while taking a nearby chair for himself.
I didn't bring food for you, Farre thought, staring at Fayne. Who pulled out a small, acrylic coated container and a pair of chopsticks, settling down to his own meal and suddenly completely disinterested with his location and situation while he ate.
Lund passed Sep a plate with food - boiled potatoes and TVP - vegetable proteins that was supposed to resemble meat. They didn't have anything else.
'So… ' Farre looked back at Sep, smiling as politely as she could. The austere hair bun pulled the skin of her face taught, and the politeness could only look cold. Looking at her hair from behind, it was in fact three-coloured, with a dark brown underneath, a strip of reddish-orange, and the rest being a greying blonde. For someone so fun-free, it was a curious feature.
Sep flustered through some words, picking them out slowly, 'thank you… for… aiding us…'
'Dead ship in the air, had to do something,' explained Farre. 'What happened anyway?'
'Ah… ah… an attack, then… the storm…'
'Attack? Pirates or bandits?'
Sep was still staring at his own lap, his shoulders slouched forwards. 'I failed… t-to… I f-failed, pro… protecting…' the shaking got worse. His hands were becoming cold and he clasped them together, trembling fingers interwoven as if to pray for mercy. 'I failed to protect-!'
Though preoccupied with his own meal of rice and fake-meat curry, Fayne had started watching as Sep devolved into a panic. What in the world…? He bit onto the thin ends of his chopsticks and put his now-free hand on top of Sep's head, patting the youth's hair gently.
Sep paused, blinking back tears in surprise. His heart settled, the flush on his face fading.
And Farre murmured only, 'Doc…?' though her eyes added; 'what the hell was that?'
'Healer's touch,' he replied simply. 'Please do not needlessly agitate my patient any further,' he went back to his meal.
'Fine…' Farre blinked. So that was why Fayne walked in as if he was supposed to be here - he was keeping an eye on the youth. Panic, huh? Perhaps even PTSD. She nodded at her own conclusion. Then she could have another question, seeing as Sep had been at least trying to answer someone this time. It was her first time meeting him properly while he was conscious - the only other time was when the three were first brought onboard, and he was out cold at the time, concussed, while Fayne had immediately performed surgery on his fractured arm and treated the burns on it.
Another question, but not about the attack…?
'Do you happen to know where you were headed, originally?'
Sep raised his head, his eyes suddenly dark, the very air around him twitching in agitation. 'That my Lady Mirenka refused to inform me clearly…'
'Eh?' Fayne leaned forwards to peer closer at Sep's face, puzzled and curious, but not a thought in his eyes.
'What?' Sep asked flatly.
'Hm…?' the other sat back, rubbing his chin in thought, his eyes far away.
'What is it?' Sep asked again, still dark, still agitated.
Without any explanation, Fayne picked up another clump of rice, 'go back to the infirmary. I will be there soon enough.'
Three pairs of eyes stared back at him, but he matched none, focused on his food, waiting. Finally, Sep stood and left the captain's quarters, and in the continued silence, Fayne finished his meal and put everything away.
'Explain yourself quickly, Fayne.'
'You didn't listen to what I said; not to bother my patient further.'
Fayne sighed, clapping his hands together and resting his face on them, his eyes gazing at the table top. 'That youth hasn't shown any emotions other than pain and relief ever since we rescued them. He has equally never spoken as much. Suddenly, in a single meal, we have the beginnings of a panic attack, and deep irritation…' he spoke clearly, without care that the captain had been a thread away from scolding him.
After all, he was more ticked off than her.
But he leaned back in the chair, arms folded and resting on the table. 'Any more, a little bit too far, and I don't know how he reacts when angry. We were but a step away, for safety's sake, it was best that he calm down.'
'I guess that makes sense…' Farre mumbled, rubbing her forehead. Fayne had a point - he had tried to warn her, and instead of changing the topic completely, she had still tried to get information out of the young man. That was her error…
Beside her, Lund watched silently, waiting.
'I guess,' she finally decided, 'we'll just leave this problem to our handsomely eccentric doctor, then.'
'Ah, thank you,' came the smug grin as he bowed to them both and stood, heading for the door.
Lund stifled a cough, while Farre just looked at him with bored eyes. 'I told you, as long as you put a compliment in with an insult in the same sentence, he won't notice.'
Fayne had just closed the door on the last comment, and smirked at its reality. I took the "eccentric" part as the bigger compliment. He turned to head back to the infirmary, passing by the private cabins along the way, just as a voice yelped out a giggly, 'oh!'
He paused, letting his face drop with disgust. 'Uwah, it's you. But good for you, you found your clothes.'
'Hm?' Satishe giggled back. She had a top - it had stunningly low cut neck line, and was overall short enough to finish just under her bust. Only a tiny zipper length kept her chest modest, and it would be the easiest thing in the world to just grab the shining silver zip and tug it free. Her shorts were still the same ones from before.
Fayne rolled his eyes, trying to walk past her, when she stepped up in front of him, nose to nose, her face filling his view.
'You did think about seeing more, hm? Nothing to hide-'
She didn't even paused to blush, 'oh, did you now, so how about somebody else? Wanna see more of-'
'I'm the ship doctor. I've seen everyone's everything and have no desire to waste my time on this conversation. Scram.'
Satishe watched him leave, and frowned at the floor, just as Kem came out of his cabin, puzzled and looking around in confusion. He'd heard the talking, but there was only Satishe in the corridor, looking subdued and almost disappointed.
'Satishe? Why do you look… upset?'
'Hm… don't you ever wonder about the doc?'
'Wonder…?' Kem kept his face straight. I think the guy's awesome but I'm not gonna say it. Ah, but that depended on what Satishe was wondering about specifically. Ah, don't wanna ask about that either.
Unfortunately for him, he didn't need to.
'I mean his type, his type!'
'Isn't his type the non-bothersome sort?' the words were out and he cursed his own mouth.
Satishe stared at the floor. Then at him. 'What does that mean?'
'Um. Not you…?' ah, I am so dead now…
Satishe glared at him a moment longer, then pouted, raising her chin. 'Yeh, well? Th-then he's not my type anyway, either! I mean, with the… cool, silky hair, you know, and nice skin, and he talks with that voice that's gentle even if he's saying something mean, and that hair, god, he's not my type at all!'
Watching the girl with shattered dreams huff herself into contentment, he could only grimace. Sure…
Suddenly she grabbed his wrist and was pulling him down the corridor. 'Come on, Pumpkin Head, I'm bored-'
'Your hair makes your whole head look like a pumpkin. I knew it was some sort of vegetable, I thought like an orange onion at first, but nuh, it's a round orange pumpkin-' she grabbed a twist of hair on the top of his head that refused to stay down, 'and that's the stem.'
The young woman continued to sleep, her face peaceful and serene.
Sitting at his desk, Fayne had his head propped up on one arm, turned to stare at the woman there.
'Wake up, you're defenseless…' he mumbled through pursed lips. And sighed at the lack of response, slumping over his desk. Yeh, like that would work… hmph. The name. Meri. I doubt it. Sep had added "Lady". Sure, he could mean his own master - Sep held the aura of a well-trained slave. But… it could be something else. 'Lady Merinka Bel Tacha of the Zurra State Capital and the Territories Parliament…'
I wonder if this is her…?
There was a soft gasp behind him, and he turned, staring at the young boy who had just popped on his glasses and was staring at Fayne in shock.
'Sorry, kid, thought you were asleep.'
'H-how did you know that name…!?' the boy mumbled through the words.
And Fayne shrugged. 'Basic stuff about Zurra Territories? It's not hard, kid…' he trailed off, resting his cheek on his hand again, 'that, and she looks like her.'
But that was years ago, Fayne thought to himself, his eyes suddenly sharper, colder, more piercing. I hated her. So much.
Anon never spoke. So much so, that they didn't know her real name. Eventually they settled on Anon, as a shortening of Anonymous. She nodded at this choice, as if to accept it, and that was what they'd called her ever since.
And from everybody on-board, this was the only person Fayne could call a "favourite". Who was she? Where did she come from? Do any of them care?
I don't, he yawned while checking through the information on the curved screen. It was data from a blood test, there was something in it that piqued his curiosity, and he'd had little sleep while trying to figure it out. Morning had arrived, both Sep and Takki had gone to join Satishe and Kem for a morning meal, and Fayne was still in his chair, half dozing off while Anon was organizing the drawers and checking over the medical supplies.
A cup of coffee clinked against the desk's glass top, catching Fayne's snoozing attention. 'Hm?' he glanced back up at Anon, but she went straight back to her duties without even requiring a word of thanks. This person is good… he thought to himself, slumping in the chair. But I might just close my eyes a second…
Her footsteps paused. And Fayne felt something soft rest over his hand. He looked around sleepily, seeing that Anon had placed her hand over his that was on the desk. But her attention was elsewhere, her head turned towards the only occupied bed in the infirmary; the woman, Meri.
Meri's eyes were opened, and she was looking around fearfully. 'Wh-where am…?'
The voice was the same. Meri. Merinka.
Fayne's eyes went wide. No way. Deep down he knew it, but he desperately hoped he was wrong. But Takki's response had been a final nail in the coffin, yet he still prayed that was wrong, too.
'Who are you!?' Merinka yelped out, sitting up and staring at Anon who gazed back at her silently.
That would creep anyone out, you'd think an angel came to kill you, Fayne got to his feet and went to Mirenka's side, slipping a stethoscope onto her bandaged chest while quickly explaining, 'you're safe, you're on a private ship, I'm the doctor who's been treating you the last week.'
'Week…?' Merinka's eyes were still on the stethoscope, and the bandages… she must have been injured. Burns? Was there a fire?
She raised her head, warm, mahogany eyes so beautiful and rich, but Fayne knew. He kept his eyes down on the stethoscope, listening, counting on instinct, but forgetting why. What the hell else was he supposed to say or do?
'Ah, what about Takki and my Se…' she trailed off as she turned her head, her eyes staring at the doctor… who looked up at her with a deadly gaze.
For a moment, they stayed poised, silent. Merinka's eyes dropped back down to her bandaged chest. And in that fatal moment, Fayne realized what was about to happen. His eyes widened - don't, just don't-!
In the cockpit of the ship, Farre and Lund exchanged a glance, but there was no other alarm sounding. Teenagers, they both figured, deciding Satishe had done something yet again and going back to their own discussion about repairs and were to land.
'Sorry, but I do need to check…' he hoped his face didn't bother blushing for the stupid girl. Her face was red enough, the blanket clutched close to her chest.
'B-but maybe Takki or, or that lady over there can do it…' she trailed off, already knowing the answer.
Fayne sighed, rolling his eyes, 'sure, if they're an actual doctor. Or, like, achieved the qualifications for it. Hurry up and stop whining, I've been treating those burns the past week already…'
Merinka sighed, relinquishing the dignity of the infirmary blanket and letting Fayne change the bandages around her abdomen and chest. Her eyes were closed, she let herself pretend it was someone else there treating her.
Of all people… what a farce….!
'It's healing well enough,' Fayne finally said as he finished putting the bandage in place and pulled off his gloves, dropping them onto a tray that Anon was holding for him. The old bandages and gauze were already dumped on there, too, and she took the tray away to dispose of it all. 'You're lucky those burns weren't any worse. Sep pulled you away from the flames, got burns all up both arms and he fractured one at some point but wouldn't explain that part well, too much happened it seems on your misadventure.'
'Mm. He's probably with Takki right now in the galley having a meal. I think…' he shrugged. He didn't know, or care really.
'I… I see…'
Fayne glanced over his shoulder. Anon was at the disposal box on the other side of the infirmary. As far away as possible in the small area. He glanced back at Merinka with cold, dead eyes. 'All done, unless you have a fib you wanna go tell someone?'
The young woman winced at the comment, turning her head away.
I hated you so much… he kept staring at her, seeing the child from several years ago in the body sitting before him. And I still hate you.
Satisfied with his confirmation of his hatred, he nodded, and went back to his desk, smiling as Anon turned, ready to assist with whatever else was needed. 'Mm, I'm done, actually. Anon, should we go get some food? I need a meal…'
The smile was empty. Cold. Anon tilted her head at him quizzically, then her eyes strayed to an empty bed.
'Mm, I'm fine for now,' he forced a smile, 'I need food more than sleep.'
Again a quizzical look.
'Okay, technically I need sleep more than food, but if I try to sleep right now there's no way my stomach will settle…' he lied. His stomach was already unsettled. He just really wanted to leave the infirmary. 'Mm, very well, you can take care of Lady Merinka, I'm going to the galley…' he headed for the metal door that swished open as he waved his hand over the lock panel. 'But, you know, it's a bit lonely… please?'
Anon stared at him, then sighed, shaking her head and making a gesture that Fayne could only guess was trying to either call him a child, or small-minded.
'If I faint from a lack of sleep, you can revive me with CPR,' he winked at her.
She followed after him, stealing a quick glance back at the puzzled patient left behind. Then Anon tapped Fayne's arm, gesturing again while he tried to keep up with her movements.
'Mm… you won't revive me, you'll just… suffocate me…?' he shrugged. 'Eh, very well. Have it your way. I just wouldn't mind the company.'
The galley was a small, cramped spot, more a widened corridor than anything else, with a small food preparation area, and all the table tops were chunks of the wall that folded out. The seats folded away and were stashed in a compartment by the doorway.
It wasn't the comfiest place on the ship, certainly, but at least it didn't look like the pristine infirmary. Anon sat beside Fayne, eating her meal with a disinterested look on her face, while Fayne stared at his porridge-like slop and wondered when his next proper meal would be. According to what the kid had said, it looked like it would be soon enough after all. The ship needed repairs - and lots of it…
Anon kept glancing over at him, annoyed by his constant weary sighs and that he hadn't eaten anything after all. At one point, she rested her hand on his shoulder, waiting for him to turn and look. He caught her gaze and scoffed a laugh.
'I haven't fainted just yet…!'
'Who's fainting?' Kem pulled out a seat and sat on Fayne's free side. 'Hey, doc…'
'You look tired…'
'That's because a certain…' his face flushed red when he heard his voice being called. 'Ah, damn, she noticed-'
Fayne reached out and brought Kem's chair closer to his own, turning to face the teenager as if Anon was not to be part of the conversation.
And just as Satishe stumbled into the galley, grinning at finding her prey, she heard the mumbled words from the ship doctor, about a rash that should settle down, and not to worry about any burning feeling while using the toilet.
'Eh?' Kem started - but Fayne's raised eyebrow silenced the rest of his confused indignation. He hadn't said anything of the sort…?
But Satishe pulled a face and stepped back out of the galley, 'okay then… leave you boys to it… but doc, keep them private consultations in the medpit, mm 'kay?'
Fayne smiled back at her, mimicking her conclusion with, 'that's true, but please don't interrupt, either, mm 'kay?'
Kem grimaced once she'd left. 'I don't understand girls…'
'I am reluctant to classify her as one in view of even trying to understand her… she breaks the mould in every way…' Fayne replied. 'Anon would never wonder around the ship in her underclothes… I think…' just in case, he glanced back at Anon. 'Would you?'
The silent woman seemed to ponder the question honestly, tapping her chin as she thought. Then she shrugged, waving a hand at him.
He smirked. 'Hm. Seems she might but only if nobody else was around. Learn something new every day.'
Anon was still tapping her chin, then she tilted her head, closing her eyes and shrugging.
And Fayne blinked in surprise, turning his face away from her to stare at Kem in silence.
'I don't understand…' the younger boy murmured nervously. Had a landmine blown up? What was the silence for?
'She… uh…' he stifled a laugh, 'nothing you need to know about… I think Satishe might stop nagging you at least a little, but… I hope you do know why she's carrying on like that?'
'I don't want her as a girlfriend. I mean, I wouldn't mind a girlfriend, but I'd like a girlfriend who's at least… not… scaring me.'
'Amen to that,' Fayne nodded, glancing back at Anon with raised eyebrows. Now that there were three patients, the main three beds in the infirmary were taken, and Fayne was sleeping on a mattress under his own desk, while Anon was back in the main cabin, sharing with Satishe. But before the rescue, the two of them would use beds in the infirmary, sleeping there - separately. He couldn't help but wonder how she was going right now.
It was the blood test… there on the screen, all the information he needed, and yet it gave him nothing useful, only more questions.
He was back in the infirmary, ignoring Merinka who, in return, was ignoring him by pretending to be asleep. Whatever. To hell with her… he found himself glaring at her yet again. His work as a doctor - and of course the general intrinsic need to not be labelled a murderer - was the reason why he'd treated her wounds so well, but if it was up to him… ah don't go there. I might think of something really sweet…
The door opened, with both Takki and Sep returning.
'I didn't see you in the galley, thought you boys were there,' Fayne welcomed them back without looking at them, his eyes suddenly to a new data page on his screen. Something about burn treatments.
'We were in the commroom,' Takki replied, 'I got more stuff to read…'
'Ah…' Fayne smiled at the boy, 'clever kid. But you know, reading alone isn't enough… you're not memorizing it just by doing that.'
'You need to test yourself as well, that way you'll know for certain if you've learn it or not.'
Takki nodded slowly. 'I see. I shall try that…'
'Takki…?' Merinka stirred, pretending to wake and sitting up, smiling at the boy. 'Takki, you're here-'
'You're awake!' Takki grabbed her hands and kissed them before reaching out as if for a hug. He stopped when he realized that she only had bandages covering her. 'Oh, that really does look bad…'
Sep looked away, rubbing at the bandages on his own arm.
Failed to protect, hm? Fayne's eyes noticed everything, despite his keeping his head turned, his posture disinterested in the sudden crowd. So this young man… boy… thinks he needs to protect her? 'A lover…?'
The words were out of his mouth and the air went cold.
Takki didn't seem to understand, and tried to laugh it off, but Sep and Merinka were silently staring at the sudden enemy. Well, not entirely sudden. Sep was too puzzled to even start trying to comprehend what was going on, and Merinka should have already known.
'With the disposition of a servant… that, I thought was interesting,' Fayne turned his chair to face them. 'A very loyal servant, but without an ounce of meat or assertiveness, so it's incredibly difficult to say he's supposed to be a bodyguard. I want to, I really do, it's just not realistically possible. Therefore, lover. And likely… a scandalous affair, for someone of your position to be intimately involved with your… slave. Unless that's specifically what he's for… but again, the need to protect says something more…'
Sep glanced down at the floor, still absently holding a hand over the bandaged arm. But his mouth was set in a grim line yet again. Silent. Merinka flinched as she tried to turn, but her skin felt like it would tear and she stayed the way she was, only her head facing the accuser.
'I mean, I could be wrong, but he gives off the slave vibe a little too… pungently. The aroma of subservience with no dignity left. Mm, maybe that is what he's for after all then?'
'Oh, don't you go there, Fayne, leave him alone-'
'Oh? Am I close? You both seem aggrieved by my words- just flippant sounds to amuse myself. You shouldn't pay them much heed. It's not like words ever destroyed a person's life-'
'Fayne, stop it-!' her voice was loud, a smack against the stale air in the small room.
And Sep had stepped forward, right up to Fayne's desk, a troubled expression on his otherwise gentle face. 'Please do not make Lady Merinka cry-'
'Oh, damn you all!' Fayne leapt to his feet, shoving Sep aside and marching himself out the door, 'I'm the one who wants to cry! This ridiculous joke deserves to be blown up and forgotten about!'
The door closed and the three left sat in silence.
After a moment, Takki shook his head, 'I… I need to go for a walk…'
With a shuddering sigh, Merinka leaned back against the wall that made up the headrest of the bed. 'Damn it… of all people. Ah. But they don't know, about that?'
Sep kept his eyes on the floor. 'No, they don't.'
'They have no clue.'
'Are you sure…?'
'My lady…' his voice dropped to a faint whisper, 'they have no idea that I am your Sceptre.'