TO hardly paid attention to the orders they were given during combat training the next day. They were still exhausted from everything that had happened, so they went through the simulations in a daze, hardly realizing they were following orders. C12 didn’t say a word to them, but TO took that as a bonus.
They would rather C12’s silence over their hatred any day.
They were nearly at the medical bay when they finally snapped out of it, thanks to GiDi giving them a sharp nudge in the ribs.
“Wake up.” They said, their ears flicking down as they looked at TO, “You’ve been like this all day?”
“Yes! In a daze. Not really there.” They frowned. “Didn’t you sleep well?”
“I did. Sorry.” TO looked away. They had slept well. They didn’t feel physically tired, they felt mentally tired. They felt like their thoughts were slipping from their head. They wanted to sleep just so they didn’t have to think. There was so much going on that when TO tried to consider any one thing, tried to puzzle through a single problem, all the other problems came up.
They entered the medical bay, expecting it to be empty as it had been the day before. Instead, they saw DH sitting on one of the beds, with MO-6 pulling back the eyelid of their freshly implanted eye, shining a dull red light over its surface. MO-6 glanced over as TO and GiDi entered, then went back to what they were doing.
“This one will be alright to leave in a minute.” They said as they continued their examination, “I’m just doing some last checks.”
TO moved to the side so that they could better see DH, but they couldn’t see their face because MO-6’s arms and hands were in the way.
“Alright.” MO-6 said as they passed DH the eyepatch, “keep wearing this for the rest of the period; Just to be on the safe side.” They stepped away, removing gloves which they tossed down a waste disposal, “I actually recommend you eat here today though.”
“Understood, Officer.” DH muttered. They caught TO’s eye, and looked away, turning the injured side of their face away from TO’s gaze. It still didn’t look great. It had healed more, but it was clear from the deep blue lines that puckered the skin of their face that they’d have scars.
TO didn’t care about scars. So long as DH was safe, TO was happy.
MO-6 looked over at GiDi and TO, “You two can stay if you want. I assume that was your plan?”
“Yes, Officer.” They said in unison.
“Very well. There’s nobody else in here right now, so it doesn’t bother me.” They went to the door that TO assumed led to their office, and left without another word.
The moment they were gone, TO was at DH’s side. They turned DH’s face, their hands holding onto their chin gently so that they could see how the healing was coming along. The skin seemed to have stitched itself together, but still had the fragile look of fresh scars. The new eye was almost indistinguishable from DH’s old one - big and black and bright- but there was still a light blue tinge around the eye. After just a moment, DH turned away again, a hand up to their face.
“Sorry.” TO said quickly, letting their hand fall, “Does it hurt that badly? I was trying to be gentle.”
“...It doesn’t hurt.” DH said, their voice soft and quiet, “It… I hate them.”
“Hate them? Them who?”
“Not who. The scars.”
GiDi sat down on the foot of the bed to get a better look at DH’s face, “It doesn’t look that bad.” They insisted.
“It does.” DH said, “The look is bad enough, but the texture…” they lifted their hand and traced a finger over their damaged cheek, “It feels awful.The rest of my face is smooth, and then-” Their fingertip hit the blue scar, “It’s hard and weird here, and I hate it. It looks awful. It looks hideous.”
“It doesn’t matter how it looks.” TO said as they put their hand on DH’s shoulder, “You’re ok. It’s not infected. Your eye got replaced. You’re still here, that’s all that matters!”
DH’s fist tightened on the blanket beneath them. “...Others are going to look at me, and all they’ll see are the scars. All they’ll be able to think about is the scars. They-”
“Other synths don’t matter!” TO insisted as they gently turned DH towards them, “It’s really not a big deal. You’re here; that’s the big deal. That’s all I care about.” They look at GiDi, “Right? A few scars don’t matter.”
“Right.” GiDi said quickly, “I think they look interesting anyway. Sets you apart.” They looked over at TO, “What do you think?”
TO forced a light laugh, “I’ll tell you if DH lets me get a good look!”
DH clutched at the blanket again, took a deep breath, then with their ears pinned back they turned and looked TO in the eyes. The bright blue lines ran ragged over their face like electricity. Without thinking, TO reached up and gently traced a thumb over the scars, to get an idea as to what DH was talking about when they mentioned the texture. Their skin was- just like TO’s own- soft and smooth. The area around the scars did pucker oddly, creating an interesting contrast in texture in TO’s opinion.
“They’re interesting.” TO finally said. Their ears perked up, “And now, you don’t look like any other synth, do you? You’re unique!”
“... You don’t think it’s awful?” DH asked, “It doesn’t disgust you or bother you or-”
“I’m bothered because I'm worried it hurts, but i’m not concerned about how it looks.”
“... This is just how I look now.” DH said.
TO realized that they still had their hand at DH’s cheek, running their thumb over the scar and feeling the transition from soft skin to scar tissue. They felt their ears flush as they realized they had been doing that. “Yes, it is.” They said as they quickly pulled their hand from DH’s face. Their ears suddenly perked up, “And you know what? No matter what else changes - what they change your call number to, or what you get assigned as, you’ll still have them.” TO beamed, “They’re yours. Nobody can take them from you!”
DH released a breath and relaxed. “I guess I’ll be easier to find in a crowd at least.”
GiDi shook their head and sighed, though they were smiling. They passed DH their food, “Here.” They said, “Eat up. TO and I will fill you in about what’s happened.” They gave TO a meaningful look, “TO will tell you everything you need to know.”
TO felt their ears flick back. Right. GiDI was talking about Q10. Now that DH was better and not loopy on pain medication, it was time to tell them what had happened. TO took a deep breath, and prepared themselves.
“You should have told them!” GiDi said as they left the medical bay.
“I couldn’t!” TO insisted, “Not just yet. I can tell them later, right?”
“Why couldn’t you tell them!?”
“I didn’t want them to get upset.” TO said as they glanced away.
“And you’re still worried that DH will hate you for it. They won’t!” They gave a frustrated hissing noise from the back of their throat, “You’re such a moron sometimes.”
“Hey now, I’m hardly-”
“You are a moron.” GiDi said. “And you need to tell DH. They won’t hate you, but if you leave it off too long, they’ll find out and they’ll be upset that you didn’t tell them earlier.” They frowned at TO, “What happens if they leave the medical bay and end up running into Q10? They’re going to know pretty quickly that they got corrected!”
TO’s chip beeped, alerting them to a quick message from DH. A moment later, GiDi’s beeped as well.
“Well…” GiDI said, “looks like DH is working in the medical bay this period.”
“That’s good!” TO said, “MO-6 can keep a closer eye on them, to make sure they’ve healed up properly.” Their ears relaxed, “I was starting to worry that they might be sent down to maintenance.”
“Because Q10 might be there?”
TO hadn’t even considered that, “I was more concerned that they might get hurt. It’s dangerous down there, and injuries are common- especially with new people. But… I guess that the synths that normally start their training down there are newly corrected. They're always a little off for the first few days.”
They stopped at a split in the hallway. GiDi had to head towards the kitchens, TO had to continue on to Shipping and Receiving.
“Look.” GiDi said, “DH wants us to meet them at the Medical Bay when we're done. Just go and tell them about Q10. I promise they won’t hate you. They might be sad, but the longer you keep it from them the worse it'll be.”
TO gave a deep sigh, and nodded, “I know.” They said, ‘I just…” They looked away, “I hate to disappoint them.”
“You can’t fix everything.” GiDi said. “Just tell them. It’ll be fine.”
“Alright.” TO said,” But I’ll wait for you to show up too.”
GiDI sighed, their ears twitching with irritation, but then they smiled, “Alright.” They said, “I’ll meet you there. But if you don't tell them, I will.”
They rushed off down the hall to their assignment, with TO watching after them. “Thats fair!”” TO called after them. GiDi waved and disappeared around the corner, leaving TO alone to head to their assignment.
Another long, tedious day in Shipping and Receiving passed. TO used most of it to try to figure out how to tell DH about Q10. They had a whole speech in their head by the end of the day.; they’d Tell DH everything - how they had tried to help Q10, what Q10 had said, and how they seemed like they wanted to be corrected.
By luck, TO was even released from their training early; they had finished going through their fourth crate, and SR45 thought it was too late to start another. TO ran to the old observation deck to stash more things, then ran down to the medical bay.
GiDi was right. They had to tell DH, and the sooner they did, the better. At least they’d stop worrying about the result, and they’d stop worrying that DH would bump into Q10 before TO told them.
They got to the Medical Bay, and the door slid open to let them in.
DH was standing next to one of the beds, with MO-6 at their side. MO-6 was instructing them, watching carefully as DH carefully cleaned a wound on the leg of their patient; Q10.
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell