9.3

Hedgy was waiting for him by the reception desk at an unassuming clinic at the far end of the station. He gestured to follow and headed back through a set of wooden doors. Sam followed, glancing around at the carefully neutral artwork and the occasional doctor scribbling furious notes outside of a room. Everything seemed planned to not challenge or threaten and that made it worse somehow. He was relieved to duck inside the last room on the left with Hedgy. It was well lit, with no artwork or doctors.

“They ran a full suite of tests, although they don’t specialize in technopaths. There’s a specialist about a week out but I don’t know if it would be worth it to bring them out here.” Hedgy gestured to an empty chair next to the bed. Sam remained standing and after a moment Hedgy sat down heavily. Equipment beeped softly and the little cleaner bot whirred in response. Calvin seemed to almost blend with the bed, pale and still with his eyes closed.

“What’d the tests show?”

“Severe trauma, he’s basically bricked himself. The theory is he was talking to his ship when it got struck by lightning and the trauma of it dying while linked was too much. He’ll probably recover somewhat, but at this point they don’t know if he’ll start communicating again or not.”

“I need him to answer questions.”

“Sam, they barely got him back to swallowing on his own.”

Sam stomped around the room, then returned to the bedside and glared down at the still figure, “You remember the data pendant I found with Jessie?”

“The scrambled one? Yeah, you tried to get that fixed for years. Is that what you want to ask him about? I don’t know if he’d have any better luck, and hes not doing any repairing in this state.”

Sam took it out of his pocket and tossed it to Hedgy, “He fixed it already. Look what’s on it.”

Hedgy activated it and frowned at the pictures projected on the wall, not saying anything as he read. Sam found another chair in the far corner and sat down.

“Sam we’re not even sure those are her parents, we just assumed. Nobody ever responded to-”

“I want him transferred to my custody once he doesn’t need constant medical care.” Sam cut him off.

“Sam that’s not how it works. You can’t just take a prisoner because you have questions.”

“You and I both know I’ll find a way if you don’t help me with this.”

“Sam.”

“Hedgy I have to know, I’m so close to having some answers.”

“No, Sam. I can’t just transfer him over to you.”

“Then pick one of the funds, he can recuperate at the estate. It’s technically licensed as health facility.”

Hedgy sighed heavily at his friend’s desperate expression, “I don’t think you need these answers, but fine. He should be physically recovered in month or so, hopefully by then he’ll have woken up a bit more.”

“Thank you.”

“Just… this is on your head. Anything happens to him in your custody I let you roast. Technically he’ll be under one of your charities’ care for recuperation.” Hedgy held up a hand, “Don’t thank me, you know I hate when you pull shit like this.”

“I wouldn’t if it wasn’t important.”

“I’m not sure it is Sam, but I know there’s no point arguing that with you. You’re just going to rush off headlong anyways.”

“Speaking of headlong, I should probably go rescue Julian from the kids.”

“Call your mother first, she’s been ringing me for the last hour since you haven’t checked in.”

Sam frowned, “Did she say why?”

“Call your mother, then go rescue Julian. I’ve got more work to do.”

“We should really spend more time together Hedgy, you’re always so much fun.” Sam winced a little as Hedgy whapped the side of his head soundly.

“It’s good seeing you Sam, but you need to stop dragging trouble to my door every time you visit. Go call your mother.” He started shoving Sam out of the building.

“I’m going, I’m going.” Sam exited and Hedgy sat down in the waiting area, burying his head in his hands. One of the nurses stopped and looked at him.

“Do you need help with anything, Sir?”

“No, not unless you serve alcohol.”

The nurse chuckled politely and went back to her work, leaving him to sit and think.

***

Julian opened the door quickly and a paper fluttered out, nearly escaping before Sam caught it. He could hear the children running rampant somewhere among the bookshelves and looked down at the page of a likely destroyed book. “Are they being little terrors?”

“No, they knocked a couple books down early on but they’re sticking to the floor now.” Julian took the page in his beak and set it down on a stack nearby. Sam entered and spotted Jessie briefly darting around a corner. She seemed to realize he was there and reappeared a moment later to latch onto him.

“Misa, you’re back!”

“Yeah, done with the boring stuff. Why don’t you and Kevin clean up while I have some adult talk with Julian, then we can head back to the hotel.”

“Okay!” She darted away again and he could hear a thud as a book fell somewhere.

“You wanted to ask me some advice, right? Let’s take a quick walk.” Sam gestured back outside, away from the claustrophobic maze of bookshelves.

“Yes, please.” Julian hurried to follow him outside. They walked in silence for a moment before he spoke again, “Kevin asked me to let him learn to fly instead of getting his wings clipped.”

Sam glanced down at Julian’s stooped neck, “What’d you say?”

“I said I’d think about it.”

“And?”

“I’m terrified, I don’t want him to get hurt. I know he’s getting to be the right age but…”

“I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask for advice on this, Julian, I only just got my daughter back from being kidnapped.”

“Yes and she’s still bouncing off the walls chasing Kevin at the end of the day. I don’t know if Kevin is that resilient.”

“I’d argue some of the tackles I’ve seen him take prove he is. Besides I’m not even sure Jessie understood what happened fully. She kept acting like it was her fault and worrying about the guy who took her.”

“Are you going to explain it to her?”

“Maybe after there’s been a trial… I don’t want her being afraid of people coming for her.”

“But maybe she should know about the danger. She’s not going to stop being a shifter you know.”

“I know, I just want to protect her.” He hesitated and nodded to himself about something, “Like you want to protect Kevin. I guess we’re both bad about that.”

“I suppose we are. But here we are again, and the place is still intact.” Julian gestured to his door. They had circled the block already, “Perhaps I will discuss flying with Kevin, and perhaps you should discuss some things with Jessie. When you’re ready.” He added, pushing open the door.

The children were giggling about something near the back of the room and Jessie yawned as the adults entered.

“Well it looks like you’re ready for some more rest.” Sam held out his hand and Jessie took it.

“Bye Kevin, bye Julian! Thank you for having me over.” She curtsied awkwardly and Julian nodded.

“Always a pleasure, Jessica.”

“Bye Jessie!” Kevin bobbed his head politely, “Bye Mr. Mitchell!”

“Goodbye you two, hopefully we’ll be able to visit again soon.”

Jessie lagged behind him a bit as they exited the building and he scooped her up, letting her wrap her arms around his neck. By the time they were back at the hotel she was already asleep and he tucked her in bed in her clothes. Exhaustion hit him suddenly as well and he lay down on the couch, quickly falling asleep as well.

 

 

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