AN- Speedy updating for all!
In the Name of Science
Chapter 9: Adjusting
Lance was getting better every day, and it only made Ilana and Octus happy to see him hungry again, sleeping again, even training again. After a week, he was released from the hospital into their care, and they hardly gave him a moment alone- but he had to be honest, he didn't mind at all.
However, one thing had been haunting him since he had returned to Earth, and he was pretty sure that Ilana felt the same way. It took him a week to feel confident enough to even bring it up. He was worried about her reaction; after all, she had always seemed very happy here in their home. And Galaluna was a nightmare.
"Ilana?" Lance leaned in the kitchen's door frame, wrinkling his nose at the smell coming from the contents of the pot.
"Mm?" She stirred in what seemed to be a lump of spaghetti. The water turned brown.
"We have to go back."
Her face fell. "I know. I was thinking the same thing."
"We can't leave them all behind to suffer. It's not right. I'll talk to Octus about getting a ride home as soon as we can." He smiled and walked into the room, standing beside her. He pointed at the pot with a crutch.
"So what's for dinner?"
Octus stood outside the room, grinning. They didn't know he'd heard them, but he had just the right idea of how to get back.
For the next week, whenever Lance tried to corner Octus and ask him about a way of getting back to Galaluna, Octus would find an excuse to leave, or just not listen to him at all. Lance was getting increasingly frustrated- with his leg still in a cast, he was finding it hard to chase Octus down.
But on Friday, as the teens sat down for dinner, they saw that Octus hadn't come to the table.
"Octus, dinner!" Ilana called. They waited, but they didn't hear his footsteps. "Octus?" They looked at each other, both confused. "I wonder where he could be." Ilana took her napkin off of her lap and put it on the table, getting to her feet. Lance followed her out of the kitchen and into the backyard, where a strange light was emanating behind the trees.
"Octus?" Ilana called. Then she stopped walking, and Lance, not paying attention, accidently bumped into her.
Standing in the clearing before them was a gleaming ship, almost like the one they had originally taken to Earth, except with some obvious improvements and upgrades. Octus emerged from behind the ship, smiling.
"Oh Octus, thank you!" Ilana ran up to him and hugged him tightly.
"Of course, Ilana. I know that the both of you would like to help Galaluna."
"Yeah, Octus, thanks." Lance grinned.
"So when can we set out?" she asked.
"Why not now?" Lance asked.
She swatted at him. "Lance, don't do that. Your leg needs to heal first."
"Oh, come on, Ilana. It's fine. I can take the cast off right now."
"No. The doctor said two weeks. You've been great though. Lance, I'm so proud of you." She went to hug him, but he turned away. He was for a fleeting moment reminded of his own father. In returning to Galaluna, would he leave his father behind?
"Okay." He turned back to the house and began to walk inside, shivering slightly.
Ilana looked up at Octus. "What did I say?"
Octus shrugged. "You should follow him."
Running after Lance, she managed to reach him right before he entered the house. His defensive slouch had returned, and it worried her- she hadn't seen it since their very first Earth arrival. She put a hand on his shoulder, and he shrugged it off.
"Lance, what's wrong?"
"Just leave me alone, okay?"
"Not until you tell me what's wrong!"
"Dammit, Ilana." He walked away and up the stairs. She heard him slam his door.
"Ilana, how did it go?"
"I think…I think he was crying," she said, shocked. "I have to…" Ilana went up the stairs and knocked on his door, pressing her ear to it. "Lance?"
When she tried to open the door, she found that it was locked. Irritated, Ilana took a deep breath and used her strength to force the door open. She wanted to storm angrily to his side, but when she saw him, she stopped.
"…Lance? Oh my gosh, Lance." She rushed to his side. He had been curled up on his bed, and as soon as he saw her he sat up and turned his back to her, wiping angrily at his face. "Ilana, go away," he grumbled.
"Just tell me what's bothering you!" she pleaded.
"I saw my dad, okay?" he shouted. He buried his head in his hands.
"My dad. In the hospital room. I think I was dreaming- I don't know. Forget about it, it's not important."
"Obviously it's important to you. If he's here, you don't want to leave him behind," she said sympathetically. "We'll try to find him."
"We're not going to find him," Lance snorted. "Forget about it, okay. We need to get to Galaluna. We just have to wait until I get this cast off, and we'll go."
"And we'll look for your dad in the meantime!" Ilana exclaimed. Lance groaned.
"Can I go to sleep now?" he asked. Ilana was about to speak, but he interrupted her. "Ilana, I swear, if you ask me how I've been sleeping, I might actually kill you."
"Okay, okay, grumpy. I get it. Good night." She got to her feet. "Come on, Octus, let's go to bed."
"Turn off the light. Please," Lance mumbled.
The light turned off, and Lance closed his eyes.
AN- So this sort of wrote itself- I didn't expect this development. But I sort of like it, so I guess it stays. Might actually extend the story. Maybe by only one chapter, maybe by four. We'll see what ideas I get. Hope you enjoyed!