It was a rare moment when the MedLab was entirely empty except for the two of them. He rubbed at the bridge of his snout. “Hey, Dak,” he said quietly, sending a tentative wave over the Drift.
The wave swelled through Dakkan’s mind. It did not break over a stupid pun, or rebound with a laugh. It fell through, and continued into the sea of his mind unhindered. As nothing was there to stop it. As if there was nothing left of Dakkan's mind. He could feel it, pulsing faintly with emotion and sensation, but no coherent thoughts surfaced.
Quinlan sighed. Dakkan had been unresponsive for nearly two weeks now, and the loneliness was beginning to wear on him. As the only one immune to the Mush, Eira was overburdened with all the other crew confiding in her, and he didn't want to add to her unending work. Because of his drift with Dakkan, the Lutren had been the only crew member Quinlan could confide in and trust completely. Now that was gone.
“We managed to restock on oxygen,” he said at last, “had a skirmish with some Hunters along the way.” He paused, and wrapped his arms around his chest. “Missed having you along,” he said, “Some of your skill bled through the Drift and I managed to shoot a couple down as we flew back up, but... I messed up. Almost got Crim killed.”
The door opened, and Quinlan started. Captain Kenosh stepped in. The tired bags under his eyes had not gone away, but his spine was still straight. Quinlan tensed, just a little. “Captain,” he said.
“Doctor,” the Captain acknowledged, and moved to his son’s side. “I can stay with him a while,” Kenosh said.
The Tamian shrugged. “It’s good to relax,” he said.
For a moment, they locked eyes. Quinlan wondered if Kenosh knew that Quinlan had felt the blow that had struck Dakkan across the back of the head- if he knew that Dakkan had recognized the presence coming up behind him and tensed, anticipating a lecture or a terse order.
Something flickered in Kenosh’s eyes.
Yes, Quinlan realized as he saw something glint in the Captain’s hand, he knew.