When TO saw GiDI as they rounded the corner and approached the cafeteria, they noticed the way that GiDi's ears relaxed with relief, and how they released a long, deep breath. They went up to GiDi, and met them halfway down the hallway as GiDi was running to them.
“I was worried about you!” GiDi whispered, keeping their voice low enough that other synths nearby couldn’t hear them.
“You were?” TO said as they walked towards the cafeteria doors, “Why?”
To TO’s surprise, GiDi laughed; it was a chocked, sudden laugh which had an almost manic sound to it.
“Why?!” they asked, their voice louder than TO was used to hearing it, “Why? Why wouldn’t I be worried about you!?” they laughed again, then turned around as they caught the eyes of two other synths who were giving them weird looks.
“Everything that’s happened today, yesterday, it’s all made me worried about you!” they hissed. They took several long breaths, then turned back to TO, their ears pinned back and their breathing slow and measured. “Why would you think I wouldn’t be worried, I-” They glanced at other synths coming down the hallway, then sighed. “Yeah. I was worried about you. Is everything ok though?”
“I… No.” TO said with a sigh, “Vocational training was awful; Tedious and boring.” They forced a smile, “But you know what that’s like.”
GiDi seemed to relax a little, “Yes.” They said as gently nudged TO towards the doors, “I do. Maybe it’ll get better though! Just keep working, and show them that you’re clever and things will go better.”
“Don’t think that will work.” TO said. “Come on. Let’s get our food and go see DH. I’ll tell you both all about it.”
They got to the medical bay, which was deserted because it was meal time; from their own time in the medical bay, TO knew that the medical officer ate nearby, and would show up if someone needed assistance. Of course, if MO-6 knew that TO and GiDi were there, then they likely knew they were just going to see DH. TO scanned their chip for the door to the back and went down the hallway until they got to DH’s room. They worried for a moment that maybe their chip wouldn’t work to open DH’s door, but it did.
The door slid open, and they were presented with the sight of DH, curled up on their side and moaning in pain. TO dropped their food, and ran up to DH, pushing them onto their back so that they could see DH's face better.
The bandages were off. There was a single eyepatch over DH’s new eye, but even around that TO could see the deeper blue color of the skin, and the slight swelling that made their face puff up.
That wasn’t the most shocking thing though.
TO hadn’t seen the cuts that Q10 had given DH; there had been too much blood at the time, and they were too rushed to take a proper look at the injuries. Now they could see the long, jagged scars that ran across DH’s face, and the thin black stitches that held the still healing skin together. One cut went from DH’s eye almost to their ear. Another had caught the bridge of DH’s nose and pulled right across their cheek. The final one had come so close to their lip, so close to pulling apart their mouth that it was scary. TO was a little surprised that Q10 hadn’t just pulled their mouth open.
“DH..?” TO sat down and put their hand on DH’s shoulder. DH shook their head and gave this awful cry, one that trailed off into a pained squeak.
“It hurts.” They managed to whisper. “It hurts so much. Make it stop.”
“What’s wrong?” GiDi asked as they stepped forward. DH gave a whimper, and held one hand to their face as they turned into TO, their other hand clutching at TO’s uniform as they whimpered in pain.
“I don’t know!” TO said as they put their hand on DH’s head, hoping to try to distract them from the pain, “Go find MO-6!”
GiDi put the food down on the table- including TO’s food that they had dropped- and ran off.
DH was shaking; whimpering. There were tears running down their cheeks. TO had seen DH cry, had heard them sob before, but this was different; this was pure pain and desperation. A quick glance told TO that the spider-bot was still on DH’s arm, and the little screen on its face was still showing all the readings as it had earlier - temperature, heart rate, blood pressure.
DH clutched at TO, another pained sob shaking their body. TO couldn't do anything but hold them, and hope that GiDi came back soon with the medical officer.
Thankfully, they didn’t take long.
“What’s wrong with them!” TO demanded as soon as the officer entered the room, taking no heed for their tone of voice. MO-6’s ears pinned back in anger, and it was only then that TO realized their mistake, “Please,” They added, “They’re in so much pain-”
“Not quite.” the officer said, “They think they’re in pain.”
“... Isn't that the same thing?” GiDi asked at the officer's side.
“They’ve been on a heavy dose of painkillers.” MO-6 said as they came closer to DH. They didn’t reach out to touch them, they only looked at the readings on the spider, “It’s time for them to come off the painkillers, but now they’re feeling the pain of their injuries for the first time.” they shrugged, “Their body will regulate by tomorrow. With the accelerants in them, this shouldn’t take more time than-”
“But it’ll hurt more that way, right?” TO said, “Can’t you do something?”
“I already did.” MO-6 said, their ears pinning back once more. Even TO could tell that they were doing their best to try to keep their temper in check. TO looked away, their ears drooping.
“We’re just worried.’ GiDi said, “We’ve never seen anyone in so much pain before!”
“I gave them a lower dose of a weaker painkiller.” MO-6 said after a moment, “Something to help. But if I kept them on what they were taking before, they’d suffer disastrous long term side effects.” they looked back at TO, their ears pinning back again, “I assure you, it’s not my intention to force them to suffer, but this is the way things must be done.”
DH gave that awful, strained cry once more. TO tightened their grip on their friend, wanting to have a way to just take the pain away.
“Won’t this hurt them more?” TO asked, “ Won't it damage their eye-”
“The eye will be fine at this point.” MO-6 said, an unmistakable hint of pride to their voice as their ears quirked up, “It took very well, and healed fast. Their vision is still a little off, but that should adjust as the swelling and trauma around the eye heals. That’s why they’re coming off the painkillers though, there’s no longer a risk of them damaging the eye.” They tilted their head, “They will be released in a couple of days. I imagine they should be healed by tomorrow, but they'll be too tired to function, and I'll want to keep them under observation before I release them properly”
TO frowned, “That… that feels really fast.” they said.
“They’re no use to us until they’re healed.” MO-6 said, “They were given medication with that in mind to accelerate their healing. That’s also why they were given a very strong, high-level painkillers.”
Another whimper from DH as they clung to TO. “I’m staying with them tonight.” TO said. They didn’t shout or hiss, they didn’t even sound angry; It was just a simple statement of fact.
“That is unnecessary-”
“It would mean you wouldn’t need to check on them.” GiDi said quickly, “And if they needed something simple, we could help with that, right?”
“Please.” TO added as they looked up to MO-6, “I can’t leave them here alone like this.”
There was that look again. TO hadn’t seen that look on MO-6’s face yet, but there it was; that odd, confused look that asked 'Who are you? What are you doing here?' It lingered on their face for only a moment before they sighed and looked away.
“I imagine if I said no, you’d simply find a way to get in.” They said, “Know that I will have to inform your Overseers if you choose to stay.”
At first, a jolt of horror went through TO’s spine, but then they remembered that their overseer had seemed fine with them being around DH. They seemed pleased because TO was helping DH to improve, and that was helping to prove their Overseers own little theories.
“My Overseer has actually suggested I keep close to 70H67, and try to help them.” TO said, “I think it should be ok. Should I ask them first?”
“No need.” MO-6 said, “I’ll send off a message. I will, however, have an assistant come in and tell you what to watch for through the night.” they gave TO a hard look, “There’s a very good chance that they won’t sleep, and as such, neither will you. You’ll still have to go to your training tomorrow.”
“Understood.” they said, “I’m sure I’ll manage.”
MO-6 just looked at TO for a moment, then nodded, “Very well then. I’ll let your Overseer know, and-” their words were cut off by another long moan from DH. TO held them tight, scratching the back of their head.
“Isn’t there anything I can do to help them?”
“MO-6’s expression softened slightly and they shook their head, “There’s not.” They said, “Get them to eat, that’ll help a little. It’ll give them strength, and help them to recover. Aside from that, this is just a matter of time, which -I assure you- will pass with or without you.”
TO nodded, and gently stroked the back of DH’s head. “I understand, Officer.” they said. They didn’t care, they just didn’t want DH to be alone in this state. DH moaned again, drawing TO’s attention as they tried to soothe them. TO didn’t even notice MO-6 leave, or take note of anything else that they might have said. They did notice when GiDi sat down on the other side of the bed with a handful of tissues. They reached over to help wipe sweat and tears from DH’s face.
“We’ll get sleep.” GiDi promised, “Well sleep in shifts if we have to.”
TO shifted to get more comfortable, resting their back against the wall and pillows at the head of the bed. They arranged DH comfortably on their lap and proceeded to scratch at the back of DH’s head, waiting for the pain to dissipate long enough to try to get them to eat something.
DH managed to look up, their good eye rimmed with blue, their lower lip bleeding from where it looked like they had bitten down too hard. “I’m sorry.” they murmured.
“No.” TO said as they took up a bit of food, “You did nothing wrong. Now eat.”
DH let TO put the food in their mouth, and then lay back down on their lap as they ate between waves of pain.
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell