Zhaan learned more about Crichton the next day

Zhaan learned more about Crichton the next day. After the morning meal (during which he did not eat much) Zhaan requested that he go with her to the ship's infirmary area. There wasn't much that she needed to do with it to arrange it to her liking, so after a few minutes of moving things about, she was ready to give Crichton the "medical thing," as he called it.

"What exactly are you going to be doing?" he asked, hopping up to sit on the exam table when she asked him to do so. "Listen to my heart, shine a light down my throat, what?"

"I'll be giving you a thorough exam, as well as taking samples and a complete medical history," she said, assembling the tools of her trade.

Crichton eyed those same tools nervously, but he removed his shirt when asked. "Didn't you do that yesterday? Examine me?"

"That was only to determine your species," she told him, picking up a monitor and placing it on his chest where the heart would be on a Sebacean. "Stay silent, please, so I can get an accurate reading." She listened for a few moments, but according to the monitor, Crichton had no heart. Becoming increasingly puzzled, she shifted the monitor about, trying to hear something until Crichton guided her hand to the right place. The monitor registered the readings, and according to it, Crichton's heartbeat was strong and there seemed to be no problems with his heart that it could find. Satisfied, she switched the functions on the monitor to listen to his lungs and to his major organs. All were functioning well with no major structural or other problems. Still, the monitor only told her so much.

"What is that thing?" Crichton asked after a few minutes. "Like a super-powered stethoscope?"

"What is a stethoscope?" Zhaan asked, intrigued.

"It allows a doctor to listen to your heart and lungs and…things."

"I suppose it's something like that," she said, putting it away after downloading the results into Crichton's file. "Now for a full-body scan."

"What is that?" He seemed even more nervous.

"Exactly what it sounds like. It is a detailed scan that this machine will take of your body," she said, motioning to the appropriate machine. "It will make a record of your body, its structures and organs, and how they function correctly. That way, if you are injured I will be able to treat your injuries successfully and without the risk that I will cause damage or a lasting condition due to that injury or ignorance of your body."

He was quiet, but he lay down when asked to, and he remained still while the machine was scanning him. The only difficulty she had with him was getting him to relax while the scan was going on, or else the scan would show him with most of his muscles tensed. With an effort he relaxed, and the scan was completed shortly afterward. She showed him the resulting images from the scan, and showed him his own skeleton in movement waving hello. That actually coaxed a smile from him, and she put the images away in his file.

What followed was the most difficult part of the exam: samples. She had a strong feeling she should have done all of the sample-collecting the day before while he'd been unconscious, but some respect for this odd creature's privacy and the wish to have his consent had kept her from doing so. The blood and saliva samples were not hard to collect, but collecting the other bodily fluids was difficult since he was very unwilling to have the samples taken. She hurried to assure him that none of what she did would hurt, but in vain.

"I'm not worried about it hurting," he said, getting to his feet and backing away from her. "It's an accepted rule on Earth that sometimes going to the doctor hurts. What I'm worried about is what you actually have to do to me to get those samples. I'm not about to let you go cutting holes in me just to get a sample of my stomach acid, among other things!"

"There's no cutting involved," she explained, wondering just how primitive healing could be on Earth and thinking that he really was worried about any possible pain. "I simply place the collector against your skin or even your clothes in the appropriate spot and wait for a moment while it takes the sample it's been programmed to take. It will be just like having a blood sample taken."

She could see him thinking about that. "You mean all I'll feel will be a little buzz and a shot of cold, and that's it? No cutting or giving you samples in other ways?"

Zhaan fought down a smile. "What other ways would there be?"

"Oh, a couple, and some of them I really hate and try to avoid having done unless absolutely necessary," he said, seeming more relaxed and retaking his seat on the exam table. "Okay."

Ten microts later and she had all the samples she needed. Once they had been put away, she asked him to tell her about the types of human illnesses there were and their symptoms. According to Crichton, humans were susceptible to every type of illness that existed: viruses, bacteria, congenital disease, environmental disease, and cancers. He described each one the best he could as well as their symptoms, and he gave his own medical history. He'd had some of the strangest-sounding illnesses she'd ever heard: measles, mumps, chicken pox, tonsillitis until his tonsils had been removed, earaches. Those, he said, were childhood illnesses, and most healthy children on Earth had them at one time or another before they matured, but adults could occasionally have them. Colds—little viruses that could make a human miserable for a few days—were universal among all ages. Other illnesses and injuries included pharyngitis, influenza, concussion, and various broken limbs at different times in his life that resulted from activities he'd engaged in against better judgment. He'd had a bad concussion, some broken ribs, and a broken arm from a vehicle crash when he'd been nineteen, but other than that, nothing too serious.

Following that was the dietary requirements of humans, which seemed to be practically identical to that of Sebaceans, and further testing of his blood would inform her of anything that he would need later. Sometimes some species had had to take supplements in the Peacekeeper prisons since the food cubes did not supply all of their needed nutrients or trace elements. She could easily formulate such remedies for him from the supplies she had on board. At least that was one worry off their minds. After that, she asked about the mental health of humans. Crichton described a good number of mental disorders and their causes, but Zhaan was pleased to note that he showed none of these. It turned out that in some cases the cause could be inefficient brain chemistry, brain injury, genetic factors, or a great deal of stress or trauma. According to Crichton, a mix of those factors or sometimes one factor alone could cause humans problems, but all the same, sometimes the causes of mental illness were a mystery in otherwise healthy individuals.

"I see," she said, making a note of that. "What about you?"

"What about me?" he echoed, surprised.

"Have you ever had a mental illness, or do you have any of those factors?"

"There's no history of mental illness in either side of my family, and I've never exhibited symptoms of any major illness except for anxiety due to stress, which I should be exhibiting now."

Zhaan looked at him and nodded. "You are. At least, I think so. Is this your typical reaction to anxiety, Crichton?"

"Pretty typical, yeah," he admitted. "I have trouble sleeping at first, and I clench my jaw and seem worried and on edge. I get headaches. Then, once I calm down a little bit, I sleep. A lot of people do that after a great deal of stress, and sometimes the fatigue can last a couple of days."

Zhaan made a note of that too and put everything away in Crichton's file. Crichton's complete medical evaluation was finished, and the feeling of a job well done was very satisfying. "Well, that's all I really need for now, and unless you come down with something, I won't need to have you in the infirmary any longer. How do you feel?"

"Like a nap would very nice right about now."

Zhaan smiled. "Why don't you have one? There's nothing really pressing you have to do until later today, so there's plenty of time for some rest."

He looked at her, confused. "What happens later today?"

"Education, apparently," she said, still smiling. "Ka D'Argo and I were preparing breakfast this morning, and he said that for all of our sakes, you had best learn all you can about this part of the universe before too much time passes. I agree with him, and during this time of relative peace we have the leisure to teach you."

Crichton shook his head, apparently surprised that they had been discussing him and that it had been the Luxan who had come up with that idea. "You and D'Argo?" he asked, but then he seemed to remember something. "D'Argo? Isn't he the big guy who said he'd kill me?"

"If you threatened his freedom," she reminded him.

"Sorry, I'm still focused on the 'kill' part," he said, sounding extremely reluctant about having D'Argo for a teacher.

"You will still need to learn, but there will be time for that later," she told him, letting him know that he had essentially no choice in the matter. "Go rest now, and I'll see you at the midday meal."

"Thanks for the check-up, Doc," he said, getting to his feet and pulling on his shirt. "And thanks for the warning."

--

The first of Crichton's training sessions did not go well, not because of Crichton, but because of D'Argo. It was still abundantly clear that he thought teaching John was a waste of time (he still viewed the human as a higher brain function deficient, and he treated Crichton as such), but he was unwilling to take the chance of having him make a stupid mistake and inadvertently alerting the Peacekeepers to where they were. Zhaan's presence and frequent reminders that Crichton was learning kept the two males from coming to blows.

If it was clear that D'Argo thought Crichton was deficient, then it was also clear that the human's nerves were approaching breaking point by the time they finished. It was also time for the evening meal, so they had to stop, and Zhaan blessed the interruption. The meal was its usual morass of emotions—several people in enforced living conditions generated lots of hostile feelings, and the fact that one of them was a former Peacekeeper did not help matters. Aeryn's resentment of Crichton did not help, either. She avoided him as if humanity was catching, ate, helped clean up, and bade everyone a good night before heading to her quarters. Crichton headed to his quarters shortly after she did, and when Zhaan passed his quarters on the way to hers she saw that he was already deeply asleep. That was surprising, but then again, he'd told her that fatigue was his normal reaction to stress. Perhaps after sleeping he would feel better.

--

D'Argo showed up in the maintenance bay as planned the following day for John's training. Zhaan was already waiting there, and today they would be showing John how to help maintain Moya, and Pilot would be teaching him over the com about Leviathans in general. After a few microts it was clear that Crichton was not on his way.

"Crichton!" D'Argo snapped into his com. "Answer me! You were supposed to meet us in the maintenance bay! Where are you?"

A moment later a garbled answer came back from Crichton. "Lemme sleep, Dad, it's Saturday."

Confused, D'Argo looked to Zhaan, who fought down a wave of amusement. It seemed that Crichton had been having another nap in response to all of the stress of the previous lesson.

"Crichton!" D'Argo snarled, trying again. "Get your deficient human self down here!"

"Ah'm up…" A light snore followed, and Zhaan laughed. There were times when Crichton was very amusing!

Muttering curses under his breath, D'Argo headed for the quarters, clearly intent on dragging Crichton out of bed or at least throttling him. Zhaan followed, mostly to save the human's life if necessary, but also to see what would happen. When they arrived at John's quarters they found him curled up in a ball in bed, deeply asleep and unresponsive to the universe.

D'Argo stopped in the doorway, looking at him with an odd expression on his face. "He looks like a child, sleeping that way."

Coming from D'Argo, that was very surprising. "Well, from what he told me about his age, he is very young compared to us. Humans do not have as long a life span as we do."

D'Argo snorted. "Another mark of their inferiority," he muttered. "Why is he asleep in the middle of the day?"

"Fatigue is a human reaction to stress and upheaval, and you have to admit that Crichton has experienced both in a very short time."

He muttered something, but he accepted it. "Let's teach him after he's gotten enough sleep. No point in us trying to hammer something into his head when he can't absorb it."

"A wise decision," Zhaan said, pleased with D'Argo's sudden understanding. Perhaps he'd had experience with younglings in the past and was beginning to view Crichton as something like one. It might make Crichton's present situation a little less intense and would give him time to prove himself to D'Argo later. Anything that released some of the tension on board would be a blessing.

Two solar days later it did not seem as if Crichton would be awake for longer than an arn or two at a time anytime soon. Zhaan was beginning to be worried and asked if he felt all right, but he assured her that he was only tired. She was willing to accept that, but D'Argo's patience was in short supply.

"Are you sure he isn't dead?" D'Argo demanded of her. "I have never seen a creature that sleeps like he does!"

"We've never seen anything like him before," Zhaan reminded him.

"He looked dead when I passed his quarters earlier," D'Argo argued.

"He's not dead," Aeryn said, stopping in the hallway. "He was talking a few microts ago. Something about someone called T-bird. His eyes weren't open, though."

D'Argo muttered something and headed towards the quarters, ostensibly to take a look for himself. Zhaan followed, and they found Rygel by John's door, looking in speculatively.

"He told me to tell you that he's hidden his things," Zhaan told him.

"I wasn't doing anything," Rygel said quickly.

"Of course you weren't," D'Argo answered.

"That's why you were so quick to defend yourself," Aeryn added.

"Why the frell is everyone on this ship so suspicious?" Rygel wanted to know.

"Because we're on this ship with you," Aeryn pointed out.

"I was just wondering why Crichton was sleeping all the time!"

"According to Zhaan, it's a human reaction to stress," D'Argo said before leaving, muttering something about humans.

"So he passes out like this every time he's under stress?" Rygel asked, sounding surprised. "How does his species survive danger?"

"I think that's one of life's little mysteries we'll never solve," Aeryn said as she headed to her quarters.

Zhaan was the only one who saw the evil little smile form on Rygel's face, and she wondered just what he was thinking.

Zhaan was in the galley the next morning, helping Aeryn prepare breakfast. She saw Rygel go floating past, and a microt later they both heard the oddest noise.

"Bwaah!!"

"Aaaaaagghh!! Rygel! Damnit, what are you doing, jumping out from behind stuff? Are you trying to scare me to death?"

"You're supposed to pass out and fall over!" Rygel said, sounding disappointed and very annoyed.

"Now, why would I do that?" John demanded irritably as he entered the galley and took his usual seat.

"It's a human reaction to stress!"

"We do not pass out and fall over, Rygel, we sleep," John corrected him. "We're not goats with a neurological disorder."

Rygel looked at him. "What's a goat?"

"Never mind."