Thursday, May 31, 2012

Aurora - Part 17


Are you going to ask him to stay? The question was ricocheting like a boomerang around Aurra’s mind. Why was this a question at all? The facts were still all the same. Garran had no official identity, no relatives or friends he trusted, potentially no access to his money though most of it was in numbered accounts and should not have been seized at his ‘death’. And she still wanted him. She still very much wanted to pick up where they had been so rudely interrupted. So why the doubt?

Was it because if he stayed it would now likely be for an indefinite period? Because if they carried on from their encouraging start, was it likely they would become permanent partners? Was she ready and prepared to be a wife again? Or what if in two years or three or four Doc found a way to undo Garran’s paralysis, would he then leave her behind because she had always only been the second best alternative?

From what Garran had told her, it didn’t sound like settling down with a woman had ever been part of his life plans. Especially if settling down meant a nomadic existence like hers? If he stayed, would he come to resent her for the circumstances that trapped him even though they were completely beyond her control?

She heaved herself out of the pilot chair after checking the auto-pilot. Leaden tiredness was spreading through her limbs once again. She had been up for nearly thirty hours now, twelve since Garran had sped away from her in front of the medical bay and disappeared into his cabin.

She walked into the crew lounge, grabbed a prepared meal out of the cold store and stuck it into the micro to heat it up. DF would have done it for her, but he wasn’t around and Aurra was not one to sit idle and wait for him to return to be waited on. He didn’t work regular shifts anyway, just prepared meals for them to pick up whenever they felt like it, but as she had come to know he spent most of his waking time in the galley or with Jason, sometimes both combined. They two of them had become fast friends and Aurra suspected they were on their way to becoming more. Quiet and geeky Jason and the older, but almost painfully inexperienced DF seemed to complement each other perfectly.

The micro dinged and Aurra pulled out the food. She settled at the table just as DF walked into the lounge carrying a tray.

“Hi Aurra.”

Aurra nodded in acknowledgement through a mouthful of food.

He sat the tray on the table. It had several uneaten items of food on it. “I wanted to bring Garran some food. He hasn’t eaten anything in over twenty hours, but he sent me away.”

Aurra couldn’t help but smile. “Are you keeping taps on all our eating habits, DF?”

“I … I, no …, I don’t, I mean…” A blush was creeping over his cheeks.

“DF, you are not doing anything wrong. I think it’s amazing you are taking such good care of all of us. It’s just not something we are used to.”

DF shoulders slumped in relief. Aurra knew he still felt terribly unsure of his place within the crew and was afraid to be sent away or worse to be sold into slavery again.

“I think you have all of us wrapped around your little finger with your cooking. Don’t worry; we will never make you go.”

“Thank you Aurra.” He mumbled, now clearly embarrassed about the praise.

Aurra focused on her food again, but DF still hovered.

“Can I ask you something?”

Aurra nodded.

“Garran shouted at me—through the door—do you know what I did to upset him?”

Aurra put down her fork. “Have a seat, DF.” Once he had pulled out a chair and sat she continued. “You didn’t do anything to him. He’s had some very bad news from Doc. He’s just upset about that. He’s not angry with you.”

“Oh.” A frown appeared on his face. “I also had some bad news from Doc, but I didn’t shout at anyone.”

“Really? Do you mind telling me?”

“My failsafe—it can’t be removed.”

“Hmm. I imagine that must be discouraging, but I assure you we would never ever use it against you.”

DF smiled sadly. “I believe you, but it just means that I will never be truly free. Jason has promised to find a way to deactivate it though, so that it cannot be set off remotely like the one that almost went off inside Garran’s body.”

“That is great, DF. Jason is very good at what he does. If there is a way, I am sure he can figure it out.” She picked up her fork again and put another bite of the delicious meal into her mouth. 

“So what bad news did Doc have for Garran?”

She chewed while considering whether to answer the question. Doc had said that Garran had given permission to inform the crew. Obviously Doc hadn’t shared the news yet; neither had she.

“Doc can’t treat Garran’s paralysis. He won’t be able to walk again.”

DF was quiet for a moment, a thoughtful expression on his face. “Has Garran been doing a good job so far?”

Aurra was perplexed. “Yes, he has. Why do you ask?”

“So he doesn’t need to be able to walk to do his job?”

“Not his current job, no.”

“Do you want him to be able to walk?”

Aurra swallowed hard at the question. How could she answer that? If she was really totally honest with herself, then no, she didn’t want him to walk. She wanted him just like he was. But what would DF or Doc or the rest of the crew think if she ever expressed that sentiment? Suddenly she realized what her earlier hesitation and uncertainty had been about. If Garran stayed she would have to tell him how she felt about him and how his physical impairments added to the attraction instead of detracting from it.

She contemplated answering with a politically correct I don’t mind if he can’t walk, but she couldn’t form the words. Finally she just shook her head, her gaze lowered.

“You like him, don’t you?”

Aurra sighed. Had she been that obvious? “Yes. I like him, but why are you asking me all these questions?”

“He likes you, too, you know. I think he’s scared now you won’t like him anymore. Maybe you should tell him that he doesn’t have to be able to walk to live up to your expectations.” DF pushed away from the table and took the tray into the galley, leaving a stunned Aurra behind.

***

Garran sat up in his bed. Damn he really needed to use the bathroom. He had eventually taken the sleeping pill that Doc had given him when for hours he had not being able to quieten the thoughts racing through his mind.

DF’s persistent knocking had woken him and he hadn’t meant to be rude to DF, but he was neither hungry nor in the mood for company. But now he wished he had just let DF come in, leave the food and fetch the wheelchair from the opposite wall. Garran reached for his phone contemplating to call Doc to ask him for help. Yeah, sure. Commander Garran Raulsten, decorated for bravery a few times over, was too scared to work his way across the room to retrieve his own damn wheelchair.

He could feel the anger about his situation starting to churn in the pit of his stomach again. He put the phone away before the urge to throw it after the wheelchair grew too strong to suppress. He pulled the blanket away from his legs and once again the sight of a stump in place of his lower left leg caught him off guard. It surprised him how he could forget about the amputation. But would he ever be able to come to accept the paralysis? Get beyond the gut-churning anger and feeling of unfairness?

He lifted his right leg over the side of the bed and pushed himself all the way to the edge. He reached for the floor and then let himself slip down. Stretching himself out flat, he reached for the chair but it was still just beyond his grasp. His flat hand hit the floor in annoyance then he elbow crawled the two paces to cover the distance. He levered himself into the chair, relief temporarily replacing fury.

What would Aurra have thought of this pathetic little spectacle? The thought struck him cold. What a sorry, pitiful sight he must have been. All of his six foot five stretched out flat on the floor, dragging a paralyzed leg and a half behind. He would die of embarrassment if she ever caught him in a situation like this. 

Would she ever kiss him again? Would she even consider asking him to stay? And would he have the courage to stay if she asked him to?






Aurora - Part 18

4 comments:

  1. I love how you add the differing perspectives of all your characters. I am enjoying this immensely! Thanks for the addition.

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  2. Still loving this! Thanks so much for the update.

    I didn't realize until Pepper mentioned it but, yeah, I love all the differing perspectives, too.

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  3. Really nice. Keep it coming! I like all the side stories and details too.

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  4. Short but sweet...in an angsty, gut-twisting kinda way!

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