Kamila peeked into the dim room. All was still and quiet, and closing the door carefully behind her, she padded softly across to the bed and chair. The only light came from a small lamp—one of her own creation to make a softer dimmer light good for tired eyes after poring over schematics. Turned out, it was good for a sick room too. Cabanela lay still and she hoped peacefully asleep. And—
“Gramps?” she whispered.
Cidgeon was slumped in the chair, mouth slightly open and glasses askew. Lovey-Dove cooed very quietly once at her from her perch on his head.
She bit her lip. She didn’t want to disturb him; he’d been working non-stop to help Cabanela. He needed real rest too. Maybe… grandma could help?
“I’ll be right back,” she whispered at Lovey and scurried back out of the room.
Now where would she be… probably her rooms now? She started to head that way only to nearly run into Tabatha in the halls.
“Whoa there. Is something wrong?”
“Oh! I was looking for you. I went to check on Cabs and gramps and gramps fell asleep. I just thought it’d be better if he could sleep in his own bed... He’s been working so hard…”
Tabatha snorted. “And after all that badgering Jowd and Alma. All right, I’m coming.”
They returned to the room, Tabatha following after Kamila. Kamila glanced at Cabanela then Cidgeon; neither appeared to have moved. Lovey-Dove bobbed her head at their arrival and fluttered up. Very gently, she plucked Cidgeon’s glasses away with her beak and Kamila held out a hand.
“I can take those.” And she carefully stored them in one of the more insulated pockets of her work apron.
“All right, old man,” Tabatha muttered. “Up we get.” In one smooth motion she lifted Cidgeon into her arms. Kamila couldn’t help a smile; he looked even tinier in her arms.
Lovey-Dove perched on Tabatha’s shoulder and without a backward glance Tabatha carried Cidgeon out of the room. Kamila’s smile faded. Maybe she’d just been entirely focused on gramps, but she hadn’t once looked at Cabs while she herself had trouble keeping her eyes away. She hesitated, looking at him now. It was too strange to see him so motionless.
His hands rested on the coverlet and tentatively she reached out. His hand felt thin and frail under hers and his skin papery. She gave it a gentle pat and backed away. He was going to be okay, she reminded herself. Gramps made him the antidote, so of course he’d be all right now, and he had reminded them recovery wouldn’t be easy or quick, but he was going to be okay.
Besides, she added, as she hurried out of the room to catch up with grandma, he was always okay.
It didn’t take her long to catch up and together they went to Cidgeon’s rooms. Tabatha safely deposited him into bed with nothing more than an unintelligible mutter from him. Kamila set his glasses in their usual spot on his nightstand where he’d be able to find them in the morning, and with a soft appreciative coo Lovey settled into her nest. Everything was handled. Almost.
Back out in the hall Kamila treated Tabatha to a hard stare. “It will be all right, you know.”
“Of course it will!” Tabatha said jovially like Kamila didn’t know those particular tones that only confirmed her suspicions.
“Grandma… I mean it.” She hugged her. “I… don’t know what it was like then, but I know you and dad have been thinking of grandpa.”
Tabatha sighed. “As perceptive as your mother…”
“It… wasn’t hard.” Kamila stepped back. “But, it’s different now. We’re all here and gramps is really good at this kind of thing and Cabs always fights through everything. Err… not to say that grandpa didn’t!”
“Easy there kiddo. I know what you meant.” She looked distant. “If only…” And she shook her head. “That was a long time ago now.”
“Um…” Kamila fidgeted. “When was the last time you went to visit him? I was thinking… when things are calmer, maybe we could go see him?”
“I…” Tabatha looked startled then smiled. “You know, maybe we ought to. Yes… But for now,” she added with an attempted sterner tone Kamila couldn’t take seriously if she tried. “You look as bad as the rest. I know how much you’ve been supporting Rindge and your parents and doing the Goddesses know what with the engines. Get yourself to bed before your parents get after me.”
Kamila gave a sheepish smile, but crossed her arms over her chest. “Then it’s a deal.”
“A deal is it?” Tabatha laughed. “All right, all right. Now go on with you.”
“Good night, grandma!” Kamila gave her a last hug before leaving for her rooms.
She was tired and her eyes itched for it, but as she came to the branch in the halls she hesitated. It wasn’t that much of a detour from her room, but she shouldn’t keep disturbing him, except he was all alone now… Would one last little visit hurt?
With that her decision was made and once more she found herself slipping into Cabanela’s room. And she froze as his voice, far hoarser and raspier than she’d heard from him before, spoke.
“It’s me.” She approached the chair and perched on the edge. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Kamila… Nothin’ to apologize for…” Cabanela blinked at her long and slow. “Where’s… others?”
“Sleeping now, but they’ll be back in the morning.”
“Haa… Wore ‘em out, diiid I?” His elbows dug into the mattress as he attempted to lever himself up before he slumped back into the pillows with a grimace.
“Hey, you don’t need to move yet,” Kamila protested.
“Gotta always keep movin’. ‘S’what I always saaay…”
“Maybe, but not right now. How… are you feeling now?” He still looked pretty awful to her, all rumpled and pale.
Cabanela blinked several times. “Right as rain. Be uuup…” His eyes closed for several seconds and she thought he’d fallen asleep right there before they half opened again. “…and about in no time…” His voice trailed off as his eyes slid closed again. She waited.
No, he really did seem asleep this time. “Aw Cabs…” Kamila stood up and leaned over to readjust the blanket after his failed attempt to sit up. Then she flicked the lamp off and quietly left the room feeling a little lighter despite the tiredness weighing on her own limbs. So, he was weak and way driftier than normal, but it was such a relief to talk to him even that little bit.
The tiredness hit her in full when she reached her room. She kicked her shoes off, hung her apron and frowned vaguely at the tool still in one of the pockets. She was normally so good about putting them all away too… Well, one night wouldn’t hurt. The thought of doing anything else sounded impossible and she collapsed into bed for a good night’s sleep at last.