Kyle got there two hours later and hated himself for it with a vengeance. His entire body felt like one huge bruise and the knife wound felt like it was festering despite having it changed by the nurse every day. Since he’d woken up a day and a half ago in his own bed, he hadn’t had much sleep. It was hard to get a shuteye when it was on his favorite side to sleep on and he kept turning over in his sleep to sleep in the “good” position. Which resulted his wound to send painful reminders to his brain and jolting him up as if his bed had been made up of red hot coals.
“Where were you? I’ve been going nuts here!”
Swick’s nostrils flared funny, Kyle snorted. He sat down in the middle. “You told me to stay away for a week! I lasted two days, what’s your problem?” He lowered his head on the cool counter, groaning. This had been a bad idea in the first place. A cold bag was set near his head and he thanked Jocelyn. “He’s late today.” He noted, sawing a complete stranger occupying the place Tyton usually sat on.
“Yet here you are!”
Kyle looked up to check if Jocelyn meant it as a nice teasing joke or if she was being sarcastic. To his dismay, she was being sarcastic.
“Dakota’s shift.” he reminded them.
Swick grabbed his wife’s shoulders and manhandled her out of his way as he made his way closer to Kyle. “What’s the decision?”
He didn’t answer. He wasn’t sure coming in public so shortly after the fight was a good idea. His head was still pounding and the stab wound was turning his entire lower region into something he could only compare with a swamp of nasty snakes oozing their poison into his body while nibbling away with his abdomen.
“I lost the fight.” Kyle cringed against their impressions. He expected Swick to swing over the edge of the counter and give him a good beating to top off everything else, but there was silence. Silence was worse, he knew and looked up. “I’m sorry.”
They were indeed silent and staring at him as if he’d said something strange. Then the couple exchanged weird glances which only meant something had happened during those two days he’d spent in Morpheus’ haze. Something he didn’t know about. Swick’s eyes turned on his stomach and stayed there for a long moment. His eyebrows did a weird hop before permanently sticking on the root of his nose.
“Go home, I don’t want to see you for another week.” Swick announced quietly. He sounded hurt.
“Swick!” Jocelyn tried, but he slapped his hand away and headed to the back. “We’re glad you’re ok.” She turned to Kyle, took the cold bag from the counter and pressed it into his hands. “But, please, go home! Get well, enjoy your leave.”
“We’ll look after Dakota, I promise! Now, go home and lay down so that wound of yours can heal.”
“How do you know about the wound?” He frowned, confused. He’d been embarrassed to even admit he had one, so he sure as hell hadn’t planned on telling them unless it came out by itself. Maybe he should have told him? Called him and say, hey, I need that bottle of whiskey on the upper shelf!
“It’s oozing through your shirt.” She pointed at the black light above the counter.
He pulled away from the counter immediately and checked the wound. It had soaked the edge of the shirt. “Oh.” When had he pulled on the strings?
“And talk to Tyton.”
Hell with the wound! “Why?”
“Just talk to him!” she waved, following a customer that showed up at the counter.
He had no choice but leave before Swick returned from the back room. She meant business, when she got that tone in her voice. He returned to the sickbay to get yelled at, despite swearing he had no idea how his wound had got reopened. Then he wondered around a bit before heading home, to his room and diligently keeping to doctors orders from that moment on – lay on your bed, get up only to eat and to use bathroom. The painkiller mix was divine though, he chuckled, looking at the three bottles lined up on the small shelf above his bed.
He didn’t call Tyton immediately. He waited, worrying his lower lip and flipping the fingers above the screen for a long time. There were things from the night of their fight he wasn’t sure about. Small glimpses of smells and images in his head he couldn’t place. Things like looking at the metallic floor in the main hall and knowing how it felt like under his bare toes. He’d never gone barefoot there, so how would he know? Or when he noticed Tyton in the far end of the diner he’d used and knowing what that intricate pattern on his jacket’s edge looked up close. Weird things. Weird, but nice.
He only punched the call in when he realized it was way past Tyton’s working hours. He hoped he wouldn’t pick up, it was his office communicator after all, but he choked on his own breath, when the phone was picked up after less than two rings. His eyes flew up, staring into empty space before him.
He heard the quiet sound of beaded fabric and scrub of an ear as the knudhy locked the phone between his shoulder and his ear. There was paper shuffling on the background. He was still working?
“Swick said I have to talk to you. Why?”
There was a long pause, which made him think he could have been nicer to him and perhaps politer, now that the alien gave him time to bonder.
“How is your wound?” Tyton asked finally.
“Could be better. You’re not interested in my health. Why did the two tell me to speak to you?”
“I haven’t decided on your bar yet, that’s why.” He said calmly and he heard him take the phone between his fingers, his calloused hand scraping the plastic near the microphone.
He sucked his lower lip between his teeth and held his breath. He tried to think of a witty response, but couldn’t find any that didn’t make him feel better. He found himself oddly questioning why was the alien still at work, instead of thinking on his own situation.
“I lost, what’s there to think about?” He sounded sad, but there was still that hint of hope in his voice that made his stomach stir with smile. Thankfully none of his people had heard, why they were fighting and he thought he’d heard the humor of it all in the knudhy’s voiceless huff.
“Take this as a lesson, Kyle. Don’t challenge me again.”
What the hell was that supposed to mean? But the phone went dead a second later and he was left wondering. Did he mean they were saved or did he want them to leave?