10.4

The sun had barely risen the next day when someone started knocking on the door, disrupting Jerret’s peace. He sat up and slid off the bed, reaching the door just as it opened. The faint smell of peaches announced the presence of a woman but Sam was blocking her from sight.

Jessie’s father grinned and put a hand on his shoulder, guiding him back into the room. “Good morning, I hope you slept well.”

Jerret removed the hand from his shoulder and glanced at the woman behind him. It was the same one from before. She was frowning at Sam but noticed his gaze and gave him the same cheerful grin.

“Sam I told you to stay hands off. Go sit down.” She shooed him off to the chair in the corner and held out a hand to Jerret, who continued to keep his distance. After an awkward moment she used that hand to clutch a tablet and brushed some stray hairs out of her eyes, “I apologize for the early intrusion, Mr. Jerret. We were hoping to get the uncomfortable parts of your visit out of the way quickly if that’s alright.”

“Uncomfortable?” Jerret had inched his way a few feet across the room as she spoke and she covered the distance  with a few steps.

“Unless I’ve misjudged the situation I make you uncomfortable with my presence, and there’s only two things I’ll need to be up close and personal with you for.” She held up one finger, “Your initial physical checkup, and tidying you up for dinner.”

“Initial checkup?” Jerret could feel his pulse racing a bit and he focused on breathing slowly as she fiddled with her tablet and shoved a thin piece of plastic at him.

“If you cooperate and I can get a good baseline after this you’ll just need a monitor on you in case of emergencies. Bite down on this, front teeth but let your jaw sit naturally.”

“And don’t let her smell fear, she’ll just get worse.” Sam muttered from his corner.

“Shush, Sam, or I’ll make you wait outside.” She waited until Jerret had followed her instructions and tapped the screen again. He could feel the plastic vibrate almost in his mouth, “Oh, good start. Perfect scan on the first try. Have you done dental scans a lot?”

“Usually with bigger scanners… Standard procedure in med units.” He handed the plastic bit back to her and rubbed his jaw a little, it always felt oddly loose after a dental scan.

“Alright now strip.”

Jerret could feel every muscle tense in that brief moment before she laughed.

“Wow, immediate reaction. You shouldn’t tease him like that Sarah.” Jessie’s father was clearly grinning despite the scolding tone.

“Gods, you two are definitely related.” Jerret relaxed a little and moved over to the bed to sit down.

“That being said the scans usually go smoother with fewer layers, and good scans mean we don’t have to do this again. Let’s try it like this, maybe we’ll get lucky again.” She handed him two metal rods that Jerret held in either hand, still sitting on the bed.

They buzzed in his hands as the scan started. This model was high enough quality it didn’t feel like his insides were shaking loose but he still had to focus to maintain his grip. The vibration stopped and he could see the woman frowning at her screen.

“Not a good scan?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Jerret, the bottom half is fine, the top part of the scan isn’t clear enough though. We can try again if you like, I’m in no rush and I know this is already uncomfortable for you.”

Jerret glanced at Jessie’s father, who sat in the corner, silently pretending to not pay attention. The woman, Sarah, was frowning at her scans still. “Just the top half? Like taking the shirt off might help?”

“It probably would, but you don’t have…” Sarah trailed off as Jerret pulled his shirt off and picked up the rods again.

“Try it now.” Jerret was struggling to keep his face neutral. The sooner she got good scans the sooner she and her peach-smell would leave him alone. His stomach growled, which created an unpleasant tingling as the scan started again. This time his discomfort was rewarded with a smile.

“Clear as day. Last thing is attaching a monitor and you’ll be all clear.” She pulled out piece of paper with silver lines on it and hesitated briefly, “I need to position this on your chest just above your heart, are you alright with that?”

“Fine, whatever.” Jerret forced himself to relax as she got closer, even though it felt difficult to breathe as she positioned the monitor and peeled the paper away, just leaving a patchwork of circuitry on his skin. “Is this going to wash off?”

“Not unless you bathe in alcohol. It’ll last a month, but we can take it off if you leave before then.” She smoothed it slightly with one hand and his chest started hurting. She glanced down at her tablet and back up at him, concern written in her eyes, “Are you alright?”

“Just need a little bit.” Jerret pulled his shirt back on quickly.

Sarah looked ready to say something else but stopped with a sigh, “See, Sam? I told you it would be fine. Now if you’ll excuse us I need to go prepare lunch and Sam has chores to do. Did you want to take lunch in your room again?”

“Please.” He put more emphasis on his response then intended, and both siblings exchanged looks.

“Alright, Sam will bring it by then. Feel free to wander around if you’d like, the library is down the hall and to the right and the girls know to leave you alone. If you need anything there’s a call button on the lamp by your bed, I don’t know if Sam mentioned.”

“I should be fine, thanks.” Jerret glanced at the lamp, noticing the button for the first time.

“I’ll still need to get you a haircut and properly shaved, but those can wait till tomorrow. I think I’ve traumatized you enough for one day. Come on, Sam.” She grabbed her brother by the arm and hauled him out of the room, closing the door softly behind them.

Jerret exhaled and scratched at his arm. Everything felt itchy but at least his heart wasn’t racing anymore. He got up and ran the hot water in the bathroom sink for a moment, carefully washing his arms until they stopped itching. The rest of the itching subsided as the peach smell faded and he relaxed finally.

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