Chapter 1: One
It had been a nasty job. Of the five crew members who made it back alive only Gable was unharmed. And they’d set out with a party of twelve. Gable was carrying one unconscious woman bridal style while two more people supported a man; Gable thought his name was Final Bill. He was missing one leg and the other was at an angle it shouldn’t have been. One of the people supporting him carried her hand in her pocket. It was no longer attached. All in all, not a great sight.
So Gable had to give Dref credit. The bloody group turned up in his sickbay and he seemed to work on automatic. Beds were found, tourniquets produced, and a lot of pain killing serum brought out. He set bones and reattached limbs like he was five men and not one. It was only after everyone was stable that Dref collapsed.
Literally. One minute he was fine, the next he looked down, saw how much blood he was covered in and dropped to all fours retching. It was only thanks to their abnormally fast reflexes that Gable got a bucket under him in time to save the floor.
Gable sat with Dref for what seemed like an eternity (they would know) but was probably only an hour or two. They patted his back gently and offered him sips of water every now and then. When he was done retching they helped him get washed and changed into clean clothes. And sent Jonnit and Travis to clean up the sickbay. The last thing they needed was for Dref to faint at the mess.
Chapter 2: Two
“How long now?” asked Jonnit, hopping from foot to foot in excitement.
“About two minutes later than the last time you asked,” said Travis. “Here, hold this watch.”
“Th-th-thank you for l-l-letting us watch this – ah – procedure.”
“I like to call it the goopening.”
“Th-that sounds – ah...”
“It sounds gross! But so cool! What animal will you be?”
“Why ruin the surprise?”
Jonnit looked down at the watch and started counting. “Sixty, fifty-nine, fifty-eight...”
Dref leaned forward in his chair and pushed his glasses up his nose. Travis wouldn’t admit it but it was a little fun having an audience. Especially if it meant Dref watching him so closely.
“Sometimes the tail comes first,” drawled Travis. “Keep looking.”
Dref stared fascinatedly at Travis’s arse, before he realised what he was doing and blushed.
Then the sun slipped below the horizon and the cracking noises began. If Travis’s eyes hadn’t been moving round to the side of his head, he might have seen Dref go from red to pale white and then rapidly to green. As it was his now rabbit formed ears picked up the sounds of Dref being sick and Jonnit shouting words like “cool” “rabbit” and “do it again”. He assumed Dref had opened a porthole in time because he couldn’t smell sick.
Eventually the cracking stopped and in time so did the retching. Dref sat down shakily and wiped his mouth with a handkerchief. Travis hopped onto his lap and gently rubbed his head against Dref’s hand.
“You can stoke my fur,” he said. “For research and all of that.”
He didn’t mention how nice it felt. Dref slowly began to stroke his fur and the faint tinge of a blush in his cheeks showed Travis he was feeling a little better. It was hard to blush and be nauseous at the same time. Then again if anyone could manage it, it would be Dref.
Jonnit moved to stroke him and Travis tried to glare at him. Unfortunately as he was a rabbit and Jonnit was a ball of hyperactive sunshine, Jonnit didn’t notice the glaring and stroked Travis. At least Dref seemed a lot calmer.
“Can I stay and watch you change back?”
Travis shrugged as much as a rabbit could.
“I n-n-never w-want to s-see that again.”
“You raise the dead.”
“The d-d-dead d-don’t – ah – crack. Much.”
“Well,” said Travis. “At least you made it to the porthole.”
Chapter 3: Three
When a seven-foot tall angelic being says you're friends, you're friends.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“I think that’s enough for the day,” said Gable.
“J-j-just a l-little more. I th-think I’ve – ah – nearly g-got the breathing.”
“Dref,” said Gable more firmly. “He’s dead. It can wait until tomorrow.”
Gable looked at Travis for help.
“Well,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere. And oh, look at that! Two minutes until the goopening. And spring changes can be long.”
Dref swallowed audibly. “P-perhaps I’d – ah – we’d – ah...”
“We’re going,” said Gable. They steered Dref out by his shoulders and mouthed a quick thank you to Travis. “Food and then sleep,” they told Dref. “You need to take better care of yourself. We need you for this to work, and if you die we can’t bring you back. And also you’re our friend.”
Unfortunately that last statement caused Dref to stop mid-step and stare at them in shock. While walking down stairs. Gable reached to catch him but despite their excellent reflexes they missed, and Dref tumbled down the stairs.
“I’m o-k-kay,” came his shaky voice from below. Gable wasn’t sure if their voice was shaky due to injury, exhaustion or if it was just his normal shaky voice. They weren’t taking any chances.
Upon seeing a seven-foot tall being jump down a full flight of stairs Dref reassessed how injured he was. He’d been sure that he hadn’t hit his head. Maybe the lack of sleep or the fact he hadn’t eaten today was causing him to hallucinate?
“Are you hurt?” asked Gable, in an aggressively normal tone. A tone that suggested that of course they had walked down all those stairs. A perfectly normal human voice.
“J-just my ankle. I th-think it’s only a sprain. I d-d-didn’t hear a – ah – snap.” Gable helped him stand and Dref yelped in pain.
“You still need to eat,” said Gable. “I’ll carry you.”
They scooped him up before he could protest. Cradled in Gable’s arms Dref felt safer and more relaxed than he had in a long time. Even the throbbing of his ankle felt better. He was sad when they reached the mess and Gable gently sat him in a chair.
“Stay here,” they said. “I’ll be back soon with food.”
“Th-thank you,” said Dref when Gable returned with a large bowl of stew and not one, but three rolls of bread. His stomach grumbled loudly and he turned a little pink.
“Like I said, you’re our friend and we care about you. Now eat, and then we’ll see what we can do about your ankle.”
I was meaning to get this all finished yesterday but ironically, I was ill... It should be finished soon!
“You,” said Travis. “Look even worse than normal.”
“It’s n-nothing. I th-th-think it was the – ah – injury, I had to treat earlier.”
“Yes, I did see the blood on the deck. What happened?”
“The n-new gunner sl-slipped and l-l-landed on a – ah – c-cannon hook sh-she was c-carrying.”
Travis watched Dref carefully as he fiddled with the bottles in his medicine cabinet. He’d seen Dref affected by his patients before, but this seemed different. Travis largely thought this because Dref looked less green and more white than usual. The bottles tinkled gently and Dref swayed. That was all the warning Travis got before Dref crashed to the floor. The bottle he’d been holding smashed on the ground and filled the air with the scent of cloves.
“Of course it would be the doctor who faints,” said Travis, trying to figure out what he should do. He began moving Dref towards one of the sickbay cots. For a scrawny, tiny, anxious mess, Dref was a lot heavier than he looked. Luckily for Travis, Dref woke up when he started being dragged across the floor.
“Oh d-d-dear,” he said. He blinked and stared at the ceiling in confusion.
“Do us both a favour and get into bed before you faint again.”
“Oh. I g-guess that w-w-would explain why I’m – ah – on the gr-gr... floor.”
Dref didn’t move and Travis rolled his eyes. If he did it to hide his concern that was his business.
“Up,” he said, pulling Dref to his feet. Dref wobbled. “Now get into bed.”
Dref mumbled something and turned red.
“I b-b-bet you s-s-ay that to all the b-b-boys.”
“You’re choosing to start flirting now?”
Dref turned redder and shook his head. Travis helped him into a cot and lay him down.
“So,” said Travis. “What’s wrong with you?”
“M-m-m-many th-things I...”
“Specifically, what’s wrong with you that led to you fainting like a goat?”
“Yes, what about that phrase is unclear? And what is wrong?”
“I – ah – don’t know f-f-for sh-sure.”
“Wow, I feel so safe knowing that you’re our doctor.”
Dref stared at the ceiling again and frowned. He lifted a hand and seemed to be counting.
“Wh-wh-what day is it?”
“H-how l-long since we – ah – l-left port?”
“Five days, why?”
“I m-may n-n-not have eaten in a w-week.”
Guess who is a tiny bit better and actually wrote stuff! Sorry for the wait everyone!
Chapter 5: Five
Gable rubbed Dref’s back while he worked through a coughing fit.
“At least you waited to get the flu until everyone else was better,” said Jonnit.
“Yes,” said Gable. “That did work out well.”
Dref tried to respond but he just started coughing again.
“How is he?” asked Travis, walking in after a sunrise transformation.
“Still terribly ill,” said Gable. “But his fever broke a little while ago.”
Dref nodded but didn’t seem to want to give speaking another go.
“Bed,” said Gable and Travis in unison.
“But I wanna help...”
“Three days ago it was you with the flu,” said Travis. “And for a kid you produce far too much snot.”
“I don’t know,” said Gable over Jonnit’s protests of “I do not” and “stop calling me a kid”. “I’ve always noticed that the smaller and younger a child is, the more snot they seem to have.”
“Exactly how many children have you been around?”
“Well, there’s all the sickly orphans that we just have all over the ship.”
“I will give you that, we have far more orphans than any ship needs.”
They were interrupted by Dref sneezing. Gable gave him their handkerchief.
“But yes,” they said. “Jonnit you really need to go to bed.”
Gable turned to look at him only to find Jonnit fast asleep on a spare cot.
“Well,” said Travis. “That was fast.”
“He’s been helping me all night,” said Gable.
“Oh I’m sorry, I only just got back my hands!”
Dref made a retching sound at the idea of the goopening which led him to another coughing fit.
“Now that you have hands could you get more honey from the kitchen? It might help his cough.”
“Stop talking,” said Gable, rubbing Dref’s back again. “And stop thanking us. Just lie down and let us look after you. Travis and I are here to take care of everything you need.”
Gable kindly pretended not to notice that Dref went pink and let out a strangled little moan. Travis raised his eyebrows at Gable.
“I’ll be back.”
Gable nodded, and Dref curled up with his head in their lap. Gable gently ran a hand through his hair while Dref closed his eyes.
“Sleep,” said Gable. “We’ll all be here for you when you wake up.”
Chapter 6: Plus One
“Have you seen Dref?” Travis asked Gable.
“Jonnit said he was pacing up and down in a panic outside the Captain’s room.”
“Is he working through a problem? That thing with the winking?”
“Jonnit also said he was breathing fast and looked as pale as, and I quote, a ghost covered in flour and white paint.”
“Oh. That sounds bad.”
“You don’t say?”
“Well did you check the corridor? Or the Captain’s room?”
“No, I was too busy becoming the stupidest person on this ship.”
“I’m just asking! We need to make sure that Dref is ok.”
“Because the last time we found him this anxious he couldn’t breathe at all.”
“And he was sick everywhere,” Travis reminded them.
“You’d think for someone who does it so often he’d be neater.”
“So,” said Travis. “Where do we look?”
“I tried that.”
“Why don’t we check the Captain’s room again and go from there?”
But Dref wasn’t in the Captain’s room, even though Orimar was. He stared almost, but not quite at them as they walked in. Then he winked.
“See,” said Travis. “I told you he isn’t here.” He turned to walk out and bumped straight into Dref.
“Found him,” said Travis.
“W-were you b-b-both l-looking for me?”
“We wanted to make sure you were ok,” said Gable.
“Jonnit said he saw you pacing.”
“Ah?” said Travis. “Were you pacing or weren’t you?”
“I – ah – may have b-been p-p-pacing.”
“Is everything alright?” asked Gable.
Dref turned red and stared fixedly at the floor.
“I, I m-may have b-b-been needing to t-t-talk to y-you both.”
Travis and Gable looked at each other confused, and then back at Dref. Dref continued to look at the floor.
Travis broke the silence.
“I – ah – was w-wondering if you b-both m-might like to - ah...”
“What do you want to know?” asked Gable.
“M-m-m-might l-like to g-g-get d-dinner with m-me.”
“Oh,” said Travis, eyebrows raised.
“Huh,” said Gable. “We often get dinner together. Do you mean dinner or dinner?”
“They want to know if this is you asking us out,” said Travis.
“Ah, y-y-yes. Th-that would b-be my intention.”
“Is this why you were pacing?”
“Well,” said Travis. “That was pointless.”
“Why,” said Gable, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Would you ever think that we would say no?”