The care facility was quiet. When designing it, the Xandorians had tried to make it feel less like a hospital and more like a home. The walls were painted tender pastels, there were plenty of plants, and the staff al wore friendly faces. Of course, that attempt at cheerfulness could quickly turn sour when a patient was screaming loud enough to be heard in the entire ship. For some residents, the stay in Victoria had messed up their minds pretty severely, and the extreme life change of the Singularity caused some people’s symptoms to intensify. Luckily, most patients were only in the facility for a few days, and with therapy and medication they were able to leave soon enough. Most, but not all. One patient in particular wasn’t showing any signs of being able to leave anytime soon. Jane stood in front of their door. A small part of her kept telling her to run, let the caretakers handle it, and just keep the memory of who Xander used to be intact. But that part of her brain was quickly pushed to the side, and Jane opened the door to their chamber.
Xander sat in their wheelchair. They had tried to fit them with bionic limbs, but Xander wasn‘t lucid enough to go through the motions of rehabilitations. Without the skill to use them, prosthetics would just be discomfort. So, right now, they would move around in their chair. Soft velcro straps crossed over their chest, keeping them in place. It broke Jane’s heart, but it was for the best. They tended to forget they were a triple amputee, and on multiple occasions had tried to get up and hurt themself.
They were muttering again, so softly and quickly she couldn’t understand it. They didn’t look up when she entered the room. It was like she wasn’t even there.
Jane calmly walked across the chamber and crouched down in front of them.
“Hey Xander,” she asked softly. “How are we doing today?” There wasn’t really a baseline for ‘good’ days or ‘bad’ days so far. There were just days their rambling was quiet, and ones when they would be screaming and crying. She wasn’t sure which scared her most.
Xander had stopped mumbling, but they still didn’t look at her. They muttered something.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.” Maybe they heard her, maybe it was a coincidence. But they did repeat their sentence a bit louder.
“I-I couldn’t. I couldn’t save her.” Jane’s heart constricted at their broken tone.
“Yes, you did.” She tried to remind them. She leaned to her side, trying to get into their line of vision.
“I’m right here, see? I’m okay, thanks to you.” Xander didn’t seem to see or hear her.
“I couldn’t do anything. I was slow and stupid and now she’s stuck and she’s never waking up and her body, her body, I have to fix, leave your body, she’s- her body-” They were rocking slightly, their brain pulling them into another spiral of memories. Jane gently tried to touch their shoulder in an attempt to ground them.
“It’s okay, you’re okay. I know it’s confusing and scary, but I’m here. I’m right here.” Xander kept rocking, but instead of rambling they started whining softly. Jane rubbed their shoulder.
“There we are. It’s okay.” Suddenly, their head shot up, eyes wide.
“I forgot.” They gasped. “I forgot to visit!” They tried to get up, but the straps prevented them from doing so. They kept struggling, though.
“Xander, please stop. Who should you visit? I can take you there.” Xander had started crying. Jane was beginning to wonder if she should leave. She only seemed to make things worse, somehow. But she couldn’t just let abandon them.
“She- she’ll be all alone.” Xander hiccupped. “What if she wakes up, and I’m not there, I should be there, it’s my fault, my fault, m-mhhhm! Where is she-she, I should visit-” Jane had stepped back a little, tried to give them space while still crouching on eye-level.
“I’m right here, Xander.” She repeated calmly. “Can you look at me?” Xander just shook their head.
“No, no, nononono! My fault, I should’ve- we should’ve left. Should’ve much, much sooner, but I was- I was stupid and, mom, please, we have to leave, leave, we left, but it was too late, and then her body, and it’s my fault-”
Oh. Xander wasn’t talking about her at all. For a moment, Jane felt stupid and self-centered for assuming.
“Do you want to see Macayla?” She asked. They raised the volume and pitch of their ranting further. “I need to visit, she’ll be lonely, where is she, why can’t I- I have to visit!” For a moment, Jane considered telling them the truth. That they were on a spaceship, many lightyears away from the place their sister was hospitalized. But what good would that do? Even if they understood her, it would be cruel to reopen that grief, just to let the madness take the knowledge from them the next day. Instead, she opted for the merciful lie.
“You can visit her later. Right now, the doctors are very busy working on her. But she’s safe, and you can visit soon.” Xander went quiet. Jane wondered if she finally hit something, if anything she said really pierced through and reached them. They still didn’t look at her.
“I-I can visit?” They asked softly. Jane had to suppress a dance of joy. They heard her, they were communicating, Xander was still in there. She tried to keep her voice slow and collected, despite her emotion.
“Yes, you can. Just not right now, okay?” She repeated.
“Oh. Okay.” Any guilt she felt about the lie melted away as Xander’s expression changed from confusion and guilt to calm. They absentmindedly rubbed their shoulder.
“Did-did I fix? Is she okay, save, did I save?”
Jane wouldn’t make the same mistake of assuming twice. “Did you save who, Xander?”
They ignored her question. “Was hard. It-it hurt, my brain, it hurt to think, too much, but I had to, my fault... Still hurts.” They trailed off.
“I know it hurts. That sounds very scary.” Jane said. There was no response.
“There is something I wanted to try today. Is it okay if I sing you a song?” Still no reaction. Xander just stared off into space. Jane sighed. Well, she might as well start.
She had heard that music creates very strong memories, and they were useful as therapy for certain illnesses of the mind. Of course, fae-induced madness wasn’t exactly in the DSM, but it was worth a shot. She cleared her throat and softly sang a lullaby about angles and stars. It was the same song they used to sing to her, when she was just a little girl. Was it selfish of her, to purposely pick a song in the hopes they would remember her? She hoped not.
As she sang, Xander looked up, eyes wide. Jane was nervous they would starting ranting again, that she had jinxed their calmness, but they stayed quiet. They seemed to listen intently. When they turned to look at her, the first time they had in all her visits, Jane nearly stopped singing in surprise. But she only hitched a bit and carried on. When she was done, she paused a few seconds. Xander didn’t say anything, they just...stared at her.
“Hey, Xander.” Jane said softly. She didn’t know what else to say.
“Hey, h-hey...Jane.” Xander replied. Jane’s breath caught and she smiled.
“You... do you recognize me?” She asked. She almost didn’t dare to hope. She tried to prepare herself for when it turned out to be just a coincidence, a word in the whirlpool of Xander’s thoughts that happened to line up with what she said. But then they nodded.
“Jane, you-you're... You’re awake? Are you hurt?” Jane laughed sadly. The first coherent thought they had about her, and they were worried.
“No, Xander, I’m not hurt. Thanks to you.” Xander’s eyes wandered. They kept looking at her arms, and her wings, and back at her arms, and her face. “Did I- have... Are you-you fixed?” Jane pushed back the tears. Who knew how long their lucidity would last, she couldn’t ruin it by crying and making it all about her.
“Yeah, I’m fixed. You saved me. I cannot thank you enough, I don’t know how I can ever repay you. But I’m trying to make you better, and you’re doing so well, but I’m-” She caught herself. There she went, nearly crying and rambling. She knew she had to keep her sentences short and clear, but there was so much she wanted to say. She took a shaking breath.
“I love you. I love you very much, Xander.” They smiled. “I love you too, Jane.” Then their smile fell. They shut their eyes and winced. ”Argh, hurts... Hurts to think, I can’t..” They grabbed their head with their hand. “I-I tried. I tried, but I couldn’t...I have to fix. It’s my-” Their tone went quiet. They started muttering incoherently, like they had when Jane walked in. She sighed, got up and gave them a kiss on the top of their head.
“I’ll be back tomorrow, okay? Same time as always.” They didn’t react, but just kept mumbling at the same level. Jane felt heavy as she closed the door. It really hurt to see them like this. But there was progress. They had recognized her, they had responded to a question twice! The fae had said their madness was incurable. But Jane took that as a challenge. They would get there. And even if they couldn’t get back to their original level of sanity, she would try until her death to help them.