PQ12 told TO to go on early, just after they finished compiling the last batch of results. Today, TO was more than happy to leave. They enjoyed working with PQ12 and they enjoyed being away from the stronger, more painful lights in the rest of the lab, but the work they were doing was horrifically boring. Despite the thoughts from just a few days ago, TO decided that working in the production labs was not the job for them.
Would the next job be right for them, or would they realize halfway through that they couldn’t do whatever waited for them next? There was an even worse idea that filtered into TO’s head; what if they proved to work well somewhere, and only realized after they were properly placed that they hated it? If they hadn’t taken part in the dissection then they wouldn’t have realized that they weren’t meant for working in the production labs.
Maybe they were lucky to have been forced to do the dissection.
Because they left early, they ended up finding DH and GiDi before they got close to the cafeteria. DH saw TO first, and ran up to them with a big beaming smile as GiDi chased after them.
“I’m glad we found you early!” GiDi said as they approached. DH fell silent, letting GiDi talk. “We were worried about you. Was everything ok?”
TO smiled and fell into step next to them as they continued towards the cafeteria, “Surprisingly. I was assigned with PQ12 to do some laboratory work with them. But..” They gave a sheepish smile at GiDi as their ears flicked down, “It was awful, tedious, boring work. I don’t know how you managed as long in weapons production as you did.”
GiDi laughed, “Just try to imagine some music while you’re working. Or… Maybe think of some of the shows that we’ve been watching from the cultural archives?” They glanced over at DH, a small smile playing at the edges of their lips, “DH was telling me about some really nice shows that they’ve been watching a lot of lately.”
TO looked over to DH and was surprised to see their ears flicked down and flushed, their eyes wide in horror. TO stopped and turned, taking DH by the shoulders, “DH!” They said, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing!” DH protested, their ears twitching. TO frowned.
“Oh, they’re just a little shy about the shows they like.” GiDi said.
To TO’s surprise, DH gave GiDi a withering glare.
“I told DH that it probably wasn’t a big deal.” GiDi said. “And that you wouldn’t think they were silly or stupid if they wanted to share their favourite shows with you.”
TO felt their ears flick down, “I”d never think you were stupid.” TO insisted, “Why would you even think that? What’s wrong with the movies you like?”
DH grumbled and looked away, their ears vividly blue, “It’s nothing.” They said, “I… I’ve taken a liking to romance. That’s all.”
TO almost laughed, but held back knowing that DH might take it the wrong way, “There’s nothing wrong with romance shows.” They said, “I mean, that’s half of what the rest of the galaxy produces. Most species are half obsessed with it.”
“Yes… I know. But we’re not like most species. Right?” DH looked up at TO a hint of desperation in their eyes, as though they wanted TO to contradict them, “I mean, We’re not meant to care about that stuff, right?”
TO smiled and gave DH’s shoulders a quick squeeze, “DH,” they said, “Of all the ways we’re strange and different, I think having a preference for romantic shows might be the least problematic out of all of it.”
“... Do you like romantic shows?” DH asked timidly.
“Haven’t we watched some? The three of us?” TO raised a brow at GiDi, “We have, yes?”
“We have.” GiDi confirmed. “I like them too.”
“They’re not my favourite, but I like them just fine.” TO said. They moved to the side as they started walking towards the cafeteria again, keeping one hand on DH’s shoulder “I mean…” They frowned and gave DH a quick squeeze, “Why would you be worried about something like that? It’s just some shows.”
“Right.” DH said, their ears flushed blue, “It’s just some shows.”
GiDi sighed and shook their head, “Well, if you’re both done being dumb, can we get to the cafeteria?”
TO’s eyes widened as they started hurrying, letting their arm slip from DH’s shoulder, “Right.” They said, “I actually have a lot to tell you, but I want to wait until we’re somewhere private.”
They ran off towards the cafeteria, and no more mention of any shows in the cultural files was mentioned.
“They still have that sling on.” DH muttered behind TO.
TO had been lost in thought as they went over what they had overheard from PQ03 and PQ12 earlier, so they hadn’t really noticed what was around them. They looked around, and saw Q10 walking towards a nearby table, balancing their tray in one hand as their other arm was still in a sling.
“I thought that would be healed up by now.” TO muttered, “They were brought into the medical bay while I was there the other day. They were given some accelerant.”
GiDi, who was standing ahead of them, winced, “I saw that happen to them.” They said, “We were practicing holds, and they did something wrong - I don’t know what, but their partner flipped them over and there was this awful sound, and a scream…” They shuddered. “I thought they broke something.”
“Nothing broken.” TO said, “The Medical Officer just said that they had a dislocated shoulder.
Q10 looked up, looked around the cafeteria, and saw the three of them. Their eyes lingered on each of them for a moment, then narrowed as they went back to their meal.
“Well, we had nothing to do with it.” DH hissed, “No idea why they’re glaring at us.”
TO wondered idly if maybe they were angry that TO had given them some painkillers. Maybe they were angry that TO had interfered, and angry at themselves for taking them painkillers when they knew they probably shouldn’t. At least that meant that they would be unlikely to actually report TO for it. Not that there was a rule against sharing painkillers with someone else. Still. Those resources had been allocated to TO, and they could only imagine that the Medical Officer wouldn’t be happy to hear that TO had just given them away.
“I hope it hurts.” DH snapped.
“Why?” TO asked.
“I’m sure they had a hand in you getting reported for drawing your claws.” They said, “They should just leave us alone”
TO shook their head, “I… I don't’ think they had anything to do with that.” TO said, “I mean, they weren’t even there. And…” They glanced over at Q10 once more, taking in their pained expression as they rubbed their shoulder. “I… I really don’t want to see anyone in pain.” They frowned, “Even if maybe they deserve it for other things.” They gave DH a quick grin. Even if they didn’t want to see Q10 in pain, they’d never forgive them for the pain they had put DH through. The tears in their eyes, their wings wrapped around themselves...
“Ok.” TO said, looking away, “Maybe a little pain. But not a lot; Not like that.”
They got their food, and left the cafeteria quickly, rushing down the hallways.
“Alright.” GiDi said, “Are we going to the Flight Training Room, or the abandoned storage room?” They asked, “Or to the dormitories? Is there anything we have to get done today?”
“Flight training.” TO grumbled, “I've been hunched over a desk all day recording stuff on a computer. I’d like a chance to spread my wings after I eat.”
GiDi nodded, “Alright. I’m just glad your eyes are ok again. We were really worried about you when you had that migraine.”
TO stopped, nearly dropping their plate. An uncharacteristic curse left their lips.
“What is it?” DH asked, panicked.
“My goggles!” TO said, “I left them in the lab!”
DH released a deep breath, their shoulders sinking as they relaxed, “You scared me.” They said, “I thought something was really wrong.”
“Well, something is!” TO insisted. They passed DH their food, and started heading down the hallway, “I have to go get them!”
“Wait, why?” GiDi asked, “You’re going back there tomorrow, right? They’ll still be there.”
“Yes! But I don’t want to risk losing them and having to go back to the medical bay to get another pair. And what if PQ12 sees them, and thinks I’m being scatterbrained, or not being careful enough? Or what if they send them back to the medical bay, and then I don’t have my goggles for tomorrow? Or what if they’re not the lab, and I have to go looking for them now before I need them again? Or what if-“
“Fine, fine. Go on.” GiDi said, “It’ll only take you a minute.” They glanced at DH, “You want one of us to come with you? Maybe DH would like to see where you’ve been working.”
TO shook their head, not even noticiung the withering look that DH gave GiDi, “No, It’s fine; I’ll just run in, get the goggles, and get out. Hopefully nobody will even notice that I left them in the first place.” They beamed at GiDi and DH, “I’ll meet the two of you in the training room!”
“Alright.” GiDi said as TO took off down the hallway, “Hurry back!” They called at their retreating form.
TO waved back at them, and turned the corner, desperate to get their goggles as soon as possible.
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell