“The good news is, you’re going to survive this,” Weyland said.
From her makeshift hospital bed, Sera mumbled, “Suck it, death.” Weyland had given her a lot of painkillers. Either she had been in more pain than she’d been willing to admit, or he’d figured out that it was the only way to get her to sit still enough to accept treatment.
“The bad news is, you’ve set your recovery back by at least a month. You’ve got a complete tear through your supraspinatous muscle, and the tendon’s badly damaged. If you want to regain full range of motion I’ll need to perform surgery, and then you’ll be on a physical therapy regimen.”
Sera made a face, but quickly lost interest and began trying to scratch under her bandages. Captain Dysart redirected Sera’s hand with her good one; her fingers on the side of her broken wrist had swollen so much that she couldn’t move them.
Weyland turned to Jianyu, who was holding a tissue to his face, trying to stop the blood streaming out of his nose. “Time for your examination.”
Jianyu sighed, but ducked his head and allowed Weyland to slide the medical probe into his neural port. His senses shifted as the probe began collecting data; the metallic taste of the blood at the back of his throat was suddenly a high musical tone, and the cold metal of the algae vat he was sitting on smelled like cinnamon. When he came to, he was on the floor for some reason. Captain Dysart and Weyland were kneeling on each side of him, and Sera was doing a poor job of trying to sit up to get a better look at the action.
Parsing the sounds he was hearing was difficult. Jianyu stayed still, waiting for the words to make sense again, and then he kept lying down for a while longer so he could pretend he hadn’t heard phrases like can’t keep doing this much longer and irreversible damage if this continues. This was exactly why he’d asked Weyland to examine him before letting his parents into the lab.
When he was finally able to sit up, Weyland moved on to examining Captain Dysart’s hand. Standing too fast didn’t seem like a wise idea, so he scooted his way across the floor to the cot Sera was lying on. She grinned when he settled down next to her. “Hey, dummy.”
“Hey, idiot,” he replied. “Why’d you take the capacitor out of the copilot’s station?”
“Because nobody makes that kind of capacitor anymore.” Sera tried to pick at her bandages again. When Jianyu moved her hand away, she settled for scratching at the scars along her jawline. “I told you I could fly one-handed.”
Jianyu’s parents, held off for as long as Weyland could manage, finally pushed into the lab. The room was already cramped, and now, with another human and an Eridani inside, it was standing room only. Jianyu stood up carefully, his head still swimming, and tolerated his parents fussing over him. “It’s just a blood pressure thing,” he said. “Nothing to worry about. I’m not burning out.”
Sera glared at him. He looked away, and found Weyland staring at him with his eyebrows fractionally raised, which was about as expressive as Weyland ever got.
Better change the subject, and fast. “What’s next for you and dad? Are you going to try to find another farm?” It had been his father’s idea to try farming, after decades of service to the Coalition as a diplomat. He hadn’t expected his mother to take to a rural life, but after the end of the Coalition, she’d taken to land management with unexpected enthusiasm.
“I don’t know,” his dad said. “We’ll see where we land.”
“If you need money, transportation, anything, you know you can ask me for anything.”
“We know.” His mother slipped her arm around his, elbow crooked around his forearm, fingers resting on his wrist. A part of Jianyu would always remember her as a giant, but in that moment he was painfully aware of how small humans were, how frail. “The best option for us might be a Minervan outpost. We’re keeping our options open.”
Minervan space was as close to lawless as the known galaxy got, and most Minervan outposts were on small, mean planets that weren’t worth fighting over. Few of them had prime agricultural land. But then again, Minervans wouldn’t look twice at a mixed-species couple, and many had a fondness for the Coalition that a few years of turmoil hadn’t erased.
“That was certainly an interesting flight,” said his mother, turning to Captain Dysart but keeping her hand on Jianyu’s arm. Weyland was holding a scanner over the captain’s cast, and frowning slightly at whatever he was seeing.
“Sera used to be a Coalition pilot,” said the captain.
“Oh,” said his mother, smiling. “What ship did you serve on?”
“The Integrity,” Sera said.
“Under Captain Zttr?” his father asked. His pronunciation of the name, while not truly as good as a Centaurian’s, got some of the tonal clicks humans didn’t have the range for.
“That’s right,” Sera said.
His parents caught each others’ eyes, and shared a look even Jianyu couldn’t read. Sera, too high to notice, continued, “So, got any good stories about Jianyu? The more embarrassing, the better.”
His dad said, “Well, there was that time I came back from the treaty negotiations on Iota Pavonis…”
“Dad,” Jianyu said, already covering his face to hide his blush.
“You were, what, eleven? Twelve?” his mother said, picking up the story seamlessly. “And someone in your class had slipped you this anonymous note, covered in hearts–”
“Mom,” Jianyu said, as Sera laughed, delighted already or maybe just so far gone that everything was funny.
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