6/?: What the Healer Discovered.
Himon returned to the exam room, throwing a strange look at his two patients, and quickly picked up the vial-gun. He drew new blood samples from both Adam and Teela and was gone without having said a single word. Both the King and Queen paid this little mind, but Duncan was disturbed enough to hover near the door while keeping Teela in clear sight. The nurse attendants were their typical fuss-pots, taking the common battery of tests and scribbling in their otherwise indecipherable scripts, it lent a certain level of routine to the scene that helped put everyone present at ease.
That ease all but evaporated when Himon stepped back into the room, his usual frown so much deeper and darker. He gestured for the nurses to leave, murmuring instructions to them to clear the infirmary entirely and engage the outside seals. It was the sort of action he'd normally have resisted taking, and would later kick himself for as an overreaction and still more grist for the rumor mill. As it was, he was simply too disturbed to think further than keeping his next words as controlled as possible, both in the saying and whose ears they'd go to.
The elder waited an appropriate span, then looked directly at the Prince and Captain. "I have just one question for you both: exactly how old are you now?"
"Why would you ask such a thing?" queried Adam, not looking even remotely surprised by it.
"Because if I hadn't taken and run your blood work myself, I'd think the vials had been mixed up with ones from Madame Rostha." Rostha was the unofficial 'social secretary' to the Queen and easily the single oldest person attached to the Palace. No-one was sure of her exact age, given she wore it incredibly well and needed nothing but a cane to walk around; Randor had known her since his birth, and he confessed she'd already looked ancient back then.
Adam and Teela glanced to one another, an entire conversation passing between them before Adam answered "What did you find that makes you think that?"
"First, I don't 'think' it. The vials were in my hands at all times, thus a mix-up isn't realistic. Second…" Himon paused and instead addressed the parents gathered there. "You Majesties, Duncan, you know how our bodies change internally as we grow older? Men's testosterone levels gradually diminish, as do women's estrogen levels. Plus metabolic rates slow however gradually, and women will suffer some rather jarring complications…"
"Yes, yes," Marlena put in. "Menopause and all that. What does that have to do with Adam and Teela?"
Himon had to think a few seconds how best to say what he needed without sounding utterly mad. "Their hormone levels right now read as so low as to be virtually nonexistent. There's also some very, very faint traces of antigens in Teela's blood I've only ever seen relating to pregnancy."
Duncan was the only one who could form a vaguely coherent response to this. "Wait…what…?" Randor and Marlena just stared as Himon continued, neither of them looking like they'd actually heard a blessed thing.
"Beyond that, their insulin levels are significantly off, suggesting their metabolic rates have suddenly changed speed. Not unheard of, but neither is it even remotely common enough to be normal." He all but glared at the Prince and added "I'll wager when we x-ray your throat we'll see some sudden development in your larynx and vocal chords, Your Highness. Teela's as well, although perhaps not as notable as she isn't sounding like she's suddenly put on a few decades.
"So, again, exactly how old are you two now?"
Neither Adam nor Teela saw fit to respond immediately, nor meet the fixed gazes of their parents. Randor and Duncan were entirely too taken aback by this information to speak, while Marlena had no difficulty there. "What does that mean?" she demanded. "How is that even possible?"
Adam sighed and looked towards them. "That…would take a lifetime to describe." This was the first time their eyes had directly met, and his parents fairly trembled at the depth and age reflected in those blue eyes. "Because that's what it's been: a lifetime." A moment's glance was shared between himself and Teela, much being communicated there. It was Teela who spoke next, and in the process tore the rug and floor out from everyone.
"Our bodies were here, on Eternia. But our minds and souls were…elsewhere. And as Adam said, we've lived a full lifetime there."
"How long?" Marlena asked, her grip on her husband turning her knuckles white. It was amazing she was able to speak, never mind coherently. She seemed the only one capable of it at that moment, even as her eyes bespoke of something very far from calm or coherent.
Adam's lips quirked an odd grin. "Long enough to see my grandchildren have grandchildren." Teela blew a small, deliberate breath, leading Adam to amend his words. "Our grandchildren."
Teela muttered something in an unknown language, which led Adam to glance her way and snicker in the same. Whatever was said brought a whisp of a smile to Teela as well, even as her own gaze moved from her father back to her hands. Himon watched the interplay with the sort of dethatched fascination one watches an avalanche form and fall down a mountainside, at once overwhelmingly awed and emotionlessly objective. "Your arm?" he managed to ask.
"I lost use of it awhile ago. What for me…us…was awhile ago."
"'Awhile' being…what?" Himon ventured. "A year? Five years? Ten?"
"Long enough to become used to having just my left hand to work with." Adam threw an annoyed glance at Teela as she loosed a loud breath and another curse. "Tee…"
"Tell them," she growled, powerful authority residing in those two words.
Adam attempted to argue, saying "It will change nothing…"
"Tell them, damn you."
"Tell them or I will!" Before Adam could even open his mouth again, Teela jumped to her feet and snarled "He can't move his right arm because he hasn't had a right arm in a good many years!"
Himon blinked and tried to digest this. "He 'hasn't had'…you mean he literally lost it? As in…" When he couldn't bring himself to finish the obvious, Adam did so.
"It was amputated," he stated flatly. "My shoulder included." Adam's reply was every bit as calm as her's was frantic, and no less furious for it. "You'll want to watch yourself on Teela's left side. She hasn't had use of that eye longer than I haven't had my arm." His lip curled in clear distain. "Lost it whilst battling to save my worthless carcass."
"You were bleeding out," Teela hissed. "What was I to do? Leave you there?"
"We aren't having this argument again, Tee." Adam sounded very tired and worn at saying this, as if it were something repeated day in and out for longer than living memory.
"There's no argument to be had, Adam," Teela said, voice neither triumphant nor placated. They caught each other's eyes and chuckled as one.
"Nyssa would have our heads if she heard us arguing like this."
"Your head, Adam. Me she'd just run through and leave me…"
"Stop it!" Marlena all but screeched, eyes wild and nearly hysterical. "Grandchildren…arms…who…who are you? You aren't my Adam! Give me back my son! Give me back my son!" She charged before anyone realized she was moving, colliding with Adam and nearly knocking him flat. She began beating upon his chest and head with full and lethal intent; these weren't mere slaps but full-on punches that could easily have broken boards of ashroot wood, and Adam was hard pressed to fend them off.
Randor and Duncan were so caught off-guard they only dimly realized what was happening. Teela bit her lip, uncharacteristically indecisive; she was not as practiced in nonlethal combat as in her youth, and had no desire to cripple or kill the Queen. Adam understood this perfectly and was silently relieved at her restraint, even if it did mean he had to deal with a hysterical mother (literally) single-handed.
Adam himself was out of practice with subduing rather than crippling, and so had to endure nearly a full minute of this before he could think of an adequate response. Said response came down to simply waiting until she tired a hair, her punches becoming slightly sloppy enough that he could dodge at the right moment, leaving his mother stumbling forward and thus give him the chance to get around behind her and wrap his arm around her torso. This effectively pinned her arms to her sides, giving him space enough to throw a look at Teela.
The younger woman sprang forward, fingers shooting out in a blur and catching the still-screeching Queen's temple with a glancing blow. The effect was instaneous: Marlena's eyes dimming and limbs going limp. She didn't slip into unconsciousness – Teela was too out of practice with that particular technique to risk it – but she was rendered insensate enough that Adam could hand her over to his father.
Nothing further was said between them; what was there to say? The look exchanged between father and son - two parts confusion and one part fear - said more than enough.
De Author Seez:That's it for the moment. I hope you'll overlook how rough this is and maybe drop a note or three, if only to tell me its absolute rubbish and get back to my regular stuff. Don't worry; the story is all plotted out, at least in my head. It'll be a bit of work to get it all out. Hope you'll stay with me for it.
Thanks for reading. See you sooner (or later, whichever comes first).