I was still running my fingers over my smooth scalp as I entered the MedLab, more than a little ashamed. Even though the Commander couldn't see me, I still felt like I should cover up the remains of my sleep teaching study gone horribly wrong. Perhaps I would take Suzee up on the offer to make a wig. Scrunching my shoulders up with my blanket still wrapped around them, I once again laid eyes on a sight I'd never wished to see.
"You're missing out on some interesting times, Commander."
I knew what was happening inside the healing chamber. It was mending him, fixing, repairing. But still... it still couldn't calm my nerves when I saw the gauze wrapped around him, holding him together. His grey-tinted skin made him look as if he were some sort of specimen in a jar. Hadn't our experiments already happened? The space rift, the crew, the crash landing, the killcruisers? Never mind the whole fiasco from today... Why was he still in the jar?
I sat myself down in the chair next to the chamber. "I had a literal mental overload."
Now, I as well as anyone could see that the Commander was in no capacity to respond or even hear my news about the day. I had been keeping detailed daily reports even before the Commander's... accident, but I still had some personal issues to get off my chest. THELMA can listen, but I'm sure that she won't want to speak at me after the cruelty I subjected her to. And the children don't need my burden, never mind they have their own feelings tearing them apart at this age...
"Everyone switched places. Harlan became Andromedan, Radu was human, THELMA was human, Suzee turned into an android... even Rosie and Bova switched personalities." I smirked to myself. "Imagine Bova as a Mercurian, and Rosie down in the dumps!" My smile faded as I realized the Commander would have to imagine these things some time later. "I had a giant cranium filled with information but caused, well, this," motioning to my head, "and the whole situation in the first place... But luckily the children brought me to my senses. Well, forced me."
I could only look up for a second at the man behind glass before I lowered my head again. "Imagine... well, imagine if you and I had switched places. You would be poised and proper, and fainting at the first sight of danger, and I would be like you, brave and passionate and leading like a STARDOG..."
I thought back to the stories that my father used to tell of the Commander giving orders to fleets and fighting enemies with his bare hands. Then I saw it in person, his leadership, and knowledge. And now, now... there he lays, sedentary in a tube like an exhibit, some sort of museum display...
"You aren't supposed to be like this, Commander," I whispered. I couldn't pull my blanket any closer around me. My teeth grit, and like one of the many things I could not stop from happening, tight tears rolled down my cheeks. "You're supposed to be helping us get home."
I know, tears are futile. Stupid, stupid tears. Everything felt so futile: my tears, his recovery, the trip home...
The impulse to pound my fist at him overcame me, but I wouldn't dare touch the chamber with anything more than my fingertips. "You can't do anything stuck in that airtight seal, that prison." I spat my words at him as much as I could muster through my helplessness. "I can't do anything with you there, either."
A rather warm hand placed itself on my shoulder. "You're doing fine, Miss Davenport."
"What are you doing in here, Rosie?"
I quickly, very quickly, wiped my face and tried to scrape up some sort of composure. She returned my nervousness with a knowing grin. "It's my last check on the Commander before bedtime."
I must have lost track of the time. "Well, now, how is he doing?"
"Better than he looks." Her smile stayed in place as she crossed over to the chamber's control panel. "He seems to be healing faster than I predicted. The ship is doing all she can to aid the Commander in his recovery. Endochronal ossification is occurring, and myofibroblasts are being formed at a rapid rate."
She turned back to me and caught the puzzled look on my face before I could react. "That means he's going to be just fine."
"Yes, well," I nodded, still attempting to regain my composed facade, "it's good to see that you've been keeping up with your studies."
"Taking care of the Commander is teaching me a lot," she noted as she typed up her findings in a CompuPad. "See, he's helping us out even when he's hurt."
I worried that she was just saying that in response to my rash words earlier and tried to agree. "Well, that's the Commander, I suppose..."
I watched her intently as she ran a few tests and noted each procedure with a diligence I hadn't seen for quite a while in her. "You're doing very well, Rosie."
"Thank you." She jotted down the last of the data and, resting the CompuPad on the console, sat down next to me. "Miss Davenport?"
"Can I ask you something?" She looked down at her fidgety hands. "If you don't mind."
"You can ask me anything you want."
Her lips turned into a frown for a moment, which made me take notice. "Did you really not care if everyone got back to normal?"
I only had vague memories of earlier today, and from what the crew told me, I don't think I wanted to remember, either. I looked down at my boots. "I don't believe, even with all of that brain, I was thinking clearly."
"Harlan said you called him Radu. You didn't care who he was."
"I may have." My mind was still fuzzy. The whole thing seemed like a bad dream. "I'm sorry, Rosie, I don't recall."
"Well, it just seemed... so unlike you, Miss Davenport. You aren't that... cold." She really didn't want to look me in the eye. "Even when we were your problem students at the Starcadamy, you knew who we were. You knew everyone."
I thought back to my discussion with the principal. You have a lot of friends, Davenport, she noted. While I didn't ever want to think of the lot of them at my funeral, I suppose that I did have a network of people that I came in contact with. There were many of them that I did consider my friends. Yes, every once in a while I would forget some small detail that was mentioned to me, but that was out of human fault, not because I didn't care about what they were saying. We were all very busy people.
"I just think," the Mercurian started slowly, "I just think that you tried to handle everything, but it came out wrong. And you're upset about the Commander and maybe you thought that if you had facts inside your head instead of memories, you wouldn't have to think so much about what's happened."
"Oh, Rosie." I could feel the tears returning to my eyes, but I refused to let them see the light of this cold clinic again. Instead I just rested my elbows on my knees and buried my head into my hands. "Maybe I've just got to get some rest."
"I think that after a good night of sleep, you'll feel better." I could hear her encouraging smile through her words. "Without the tapes, of course."
"Yes, dear, without the tapes."
"Feel better, Miss Davenport."
I heard the doors open, and with the same grace that she entered with, she was gone. I can't even stand it when I let my peers see me cry, and now I've gone and let a student see my vulnerabilities. This day was getting to be too much.
After a few moments of silence trying to get myself realigned to things I stood up, straightened my clothes out a bit, and looked at the chamber. An echo of the first time, I placed my palm softly on the glass barrier. "Well, 'health is worth more than learning', isn't it, Commander? Tomorrow's another day."
I bit my lip. "Get better soon, Seth."
Blindly following the path from the MedLab to my quarters, I arrived in my room ready for a night's rest. It took a moment to register the small stuffed animal sitting on my vanity, and the chip in its paw. Inserting the card into my CompuPad, I was greeted with the same warm voice I was earlier this evening.
"This is just to keep you company, Miss Davenport. Don't worry, I didn't go into your room or anything; Thelma brought it for me, and I made her promise that she'd leave right after she got there. His name is Richard. Oh, and I think I have a question on the homework, but that can wait. Sweet dreams and good night!"
I couldn't help but smile as I picked up the toy lion, who stared back at me with beady black eyes. It was an adorable little thing... I will admit, it made me feel much better. "I guess you're not the most cowardly one in the room now, are you?" I joked as I placed him at the head of my bed.
Perhaps all I needed was that little bit of encouragement. After all, my students were taking this in stride, and were doing so in a much better manner that I expected they would. It seems... it seems I should be learning from them through this ordeal. I can't let myself get dragged down, or lose hope. I suppose we all must keep looking towards home.
Glancing at the stuffed toy, I sighed. I'll keep watch for you, Commander.
I knew he couldn't respond.
I started this before I came across Mystery Machine's brillant piece "Even If Your Heart Would Listen", so it's sort of similar, in the whole Davenport angst sort of way.
The title of my fic is a quote from the anime/manga series Bleach, and fit very well (and sweetly) for this piece. It's also thanks to my friend Deno for beta-ing! The quote "Health is worth more than learning" is from Thomas Jefferson, and is probably something Davenport needs to tell herself frequently. The lion is not only named Richard after the Lion-Hearted, but has another quirky tie: one of my hometown weather reporters is named Dick Goddard. Tri-connection!