TO was led down a hallway behind the Medical Bay and past a series of doors until the medical Synth that was leading them stopped in front of one seemingly at random. They pressed their hand to the chip reader, and the door slid open.
“MO-6?” the medical synth said as they entered with TO, “I brought them.”
MO-6 was sitting on a stool next to a bed, taking notes. Though TO couldn’t recognize the synth on the bed right away because of the bandages that covered the side of their face that was facing them, they were certain it was DH; Who else would it be? They were laying on their back with a thin blanket thrown over their naked body. A small, mechanical spider-like device was clutching DH’s arm, a needle from it’s abdomen stuck firmly into the skin.
“It’s a drug administration device.” MO-6 said as they noticed TO’s gaze lingering on the strange machine, “It reads chemical levels in the bloodstream and administers more painkillers if levels drop below what’s prescribed.” They looked back to their notes, “I’m nearly done here.”
“Is it alright for this one to be here?” The other medical synth asked, “Procedure says-“
“If 70H67 was granted a transplant, then I intend to see that it takes, and that my patient is healthy afterwards. Having them get needlessly upset and agitated won’t help their recovery.” They closed their files and stood up, looking over TO, “I’ve heard this one call you TO before.” They said simply.
TO felt their ears flick back in worry, “Is that bad?”
“I don’t really care what they call you.” MO-6 said, “but they’ve been upset since they woke, looking for a ‘TO’.” They started to walk to the door, “Keep them calm. The more relaxed they are, the less likely we are to have complications with the transplant.”
“It happened then. It worked?”
“It did.” MO-6 said, “It was a complicated procedure, but not outside the range of my skills.” They gave TO a careful look, “Am I to understand as well that you’re the one who mentioned the availability of the eyes?”
“I’m led to understand that you were present when the eyes were saved. Did you work on it directly, or simply assist?”
TO didn’t want to think about that. They felt their stomach churn as their ears drooped, “I assisted with the right, and removed the left myself.”
“You did good work.” MO-6 said, “Very clean, and very little damage done to the optic nerves.”
MO-6 nodded as they passed TO, “Stay with them for the rest of the day.” They said with a gesture to DH, “Keep them calm until we can reduce the amount of painkillers in their system. They’re on a heavy dose of accelerants to encourage healing, and a heavy dose of painkillers because of that. If they end up in too much pain, it might affect the eye. However, the painkillers have affected their cognitive state. They’re not in their right mind, and their short term memory is impared.”
“They’ll be alright though? That won’t be permanent?”
“No. It’ll diminish as soon as the painkillers are reduced. In the meantime, keep them calm.” They frowned, “I don’t normally like having other synths in my recovery room, but this one needs to be calm, and they wouldn’t stop calling for you.”
“Apologies, Officer.” TO said without really understanding why they were apologizing.
MO-6 shrugged, They are not themselves, and neither you, nor they can really be held accountable for their actions at this moment.” They turned to the medical synth, “Send word to Overseer T that 09T07 will be staying here until meal time tomorrow.” They said as they opened the door. The medical synth followed MO-6 as they left the room.
The door slid shut, and DH and TO were alone.
TO went up to the bed and sat down on the edge. “DH?” They whispered as they put a hand on their shoulder, “Are you awake?”
“....T?” It was a half mumble. Their unbandaged eye opened up and searched about the room until it landed on TO. A weak, tired smile flicked across their face, “You’re here.”
There it was at last: relief. DH was awake, though not fully coherent. The eye had been transplanted. Nothing terrible had happened to them while they were in surgery. TO leaned over then, trying to hold them without moving them from their spot on the bed. They rested their head on DH’s chest. They wanted to tell DH that they’d be fine. That it was ok. Tears of relief flooded their eyes as they clutched at their friend.
“I was so worried.” They managed to whisper as their tears fell onto the blankets.
It was only now that DH was awake that TO could really feel how hard this day had been. All the terrible things that had happened from their conversation with C12, with PQ03, seeing C12 and the former PQ12 – Flit and Snout– up in the higher levels of the training center, the whole situation with King Decon, GiDi’s reaction to the attack, DH’s injury–
Q10. Q10’s breakdown. Q10 being corrected.
It had been a lot. It was hard to imagine that it had all been one day.
TO didn’t sob– they were far too tired for that. They lay atop DH, holding them and letting the tears fall on their own. They felt DH’s hand settle atop their head, scratching for just a moment before falling still.
“I wasn’t worried.” DH managed to slur out, “I knew I’d be fine.” They gave a soft little hum as their breathing deepened.
“You did?” TO managed to whisper, “How?”
“You. You were there. You always fix things. You take care of things.” They gave a sleepy yawn, “Can you stay with me?”
TO wiped the tears away before they answered, “Yes.” they said, “I can. I’m allowed to stay while you sleep.”
DH gave a hum, then appeared to fall asleep. They made this soft chirping noise in the back of their throat as their breathing deepened. A moment later they seemed to wake suddenly with a jolt, as though someone had shaken them awake.
“... m’eye.” They mumbled.
“It was damaged.” TO whispered back, “You’ve got a new eye.”
To TO’s surprise, DH gave a whimper, “I liked my old eye.” They whined. TO had to keep themselves from chuckling, despite everything. DH just sounded so petulant; like a child. They reminded themselves that the Medical Officer had said they’d be a little off for a while because of the painkillers.
TO sat up and smiled at DH, “Your new eye is going to be fine.” They said.
“But I liked my old eye.” DH insisted, “Didn’t you like my eye?”
“Of course!” TO said, “But... In a way I got you this new eye.”
TO forced another smile, trying to ignore the sound of cracking bones that played in their head. At least now they could remind themselves that all that awfulness, the dissection of the juvenile synth, had served a purpose. It had saved DH’s eyesight at the very least. TO gently ran their fingers over the bandages, “Yes.” They whispered, “I saved the eye for you.”
Another hum – this one far more content and peaceful. “Can you hold me?” DH whispered, their ears flushing as they asked.
“Of course.” TO said, “Let me tell GiDi you’re awake first.” They sat up properly so they could send a message; “DH is awake. Procedure was a success. I’ve been asked to stay with them tonight. Are you ok?” The last part was added with a pang of guilt. TO had been so worried about DH that they had forgotten about GiDi’s mental state for the most part. They felt bad for not going back to check on them, but at the same time they would have felt worse if DH had woken and they weren’t there.
Well, nothing they could do about it now. They hoped that GiDi would have met them in the Medical Bay, but they hadn’t shown up. TO was just starting to worry, fearing that something had happened to GiDi as well when they got a message back.
“I’m glad. I’m fine; just watched the update. I’ll meet you before training tomorrow morning.”
They were alright. TO decided that they’d spend a lot of extra time with GiDi tomorrow, to make sure they were fine. They’d bring GiDi to visit DH too.
But that was tomorrow. For now, King Decon was alive. GiDi was fine. DH was healing up with a new eye. There was nothing to be done with Q10, except for trying not to think about it for now. DH hadn’t asked yet, and TO didn’t want to tell them right away. Instead, they slid onto the edge of the bed next to DH, slipping under the blankets and lifting DH up just a little so that they could wrap their arms and wings around their friend. DH tried to move, to curl into TO, but TO stopped them.
“Stay on your back.” They said, “You’ve got that thing on your arm.”
DH turned their head to look at the mechanical spider on their arm. They seemed confused for a moment, but then just hummed again as they turned their head into TO.
“Am I going to have scars?” They whispered.
“Probably.” TO said, “But that’s fine.”
“Do you think I’ll look ok with scars?”
TO almost laughed, but settled for reaching up to scratch DH’s head, “I don’t think it matters if you have scars or not-“
“But do you think I’ll look ok with them?”
“They’ll make you stand out.” TO said, “You’ll be easier to recognize. I’ll think you’ll look fine.”
Another hum as DH nuzzled into TO. They muttered something quietly, something that TO couldn’t quite make out. As they started to drift off to sleep once more they gave that little chirping sound and their ears flicked in a way that reminded TO of happy, sleepy young synths in their tanks..
DH was content. For now DH was content and drifting peacefully off to sleep despite their injuries and the awful day they had. Yes, TO was sure the drugs were part of it, but MO-6 had said that DH had been agitated before TO arrived. They said that DH kept calling for them.
TO curled themselves around DH, shifting themselves up and resting their chin at the top of DH’s head.
Yes. Of course they loved DH and GiDi; Their best friends, Their family– if a synth could be said to have a family. They had worried about being sharp with DH before they went in for their procedure. They had hoped that DH knew that they still loved them.
Would it be weird to say it?
TO almost laughed. Despite everything, they worried that telling DH that they loved them, that they were their closest friend and the closest thing to family a synth could have.
DH was half asleep and loopy from drugs: They probably wouldn’t remember it anyway.
“Hey… DH?” They murmured against DH’s forehead. DH gave only a low, sleepy hum in response. “You know I love you, right?”
Another hum, this one almost questioning. TO wasn’t sure what kind of question it could have been. They tightened their grip on DH, “You’re … you’re my closest friend. My family.” They said, “I’d do anything to protect you. You know that right?”
Another low hum. TO could feel their ears burning and they worried that maybe they said something wrong, that this was crossing an invisible line.
After a moment, DH shuffled closer and started chirping again. TO figured that either it hadn’t bothered them, or at least if it had then they already forgot due to the drugs, and due to being so sleepy.
TO finally relaxed, the muscles in their shoulders loosening up for the first time since they saw the live news in the auditorium. There was pain from how long they had been tense, but they could ignore that for now.
With their wings wrapped around DH, TO drifted off to sleep.
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell