[TheNoir] "Treading Water"
- From: "Brad Ruder" <groundzero@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: thenoir@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 9 May 2005 18:44:22 -0700
by Trey Onadan
& Robert Cameron
His eyelids fluttered open and he took a sleepy look around the room. Bella was blissfully unaware that he had woken up and still laid sleeping on the couch. He could've sworn he had heard Shane around earlier, but if he was he wasn't there anymore. Trey struggled to get his legs off the couch and mustered all his strength to stand. Pain had begun shooting up through his extremities, but he was determined to walk.
"Fuck," Trey said through gritted teeth as he meandered towards the door. It felt like an hour before he was able to access the panel and unlock the doors and step into the hallway. Made it to the door, he told himself as he left their quarters behind, now to the next one. It was a chore and he felt himself falling. In two steps his right knee buckled and he fell to his knees. "Damn it."
Looking up as he rounded the corner, Robert watched the young man go down. Weak. Reflex kicked in as he reached for his knife but stopped himself halfway. "Are you alright?" he asked gruffly.
Shit. He was unarmed and crippled to add to it. He was cursing inside - up a storm. "I'm fine," he shot back just as sharply. He struggled once again to rise, but found himself to weak and collapsed against the wall. To save face, he put his back against the corridor wall and sat there.
Robert leaned down and offered his hand. "You don't look it."
The hand was a gesture, but what kind? Trey took the man's hand and was hoisted to his feet, but the pain was still too excruciating and he slid back along the wall to the floor. "Thanks, but I think I'll sit here for a while."
Nodding once, Robert followed suit and sat next to him. "Robert," he said. "My name. What's yours?"
He fought the urge, but lost, and perked an eyebrow. "Trey."
"Good. Now we both know who we are." Staring straight ahead, Robert searched his memory for any kind of small talk but it wasn't coming. Instead he resorted to curiosity. "How were you injured?"
"I was shot while scoping out that damned monastery."
"But the wound must be easily healed. Why are you having so much trouble walking?" Before he could answer, Robert swivelled around to face the young man and reached out to touch his leg. "What is the ongoing problem?"
"The medicine causes intense cramping, and the surgery caused the tendons to fuse together. So, they're still rebuilding themselves. But, I need to walk." Trey's initial reaction was to slap the man's hand away, but the vibe of a friend cut through that suspicious fog. "It's frustrating."
"I know." His bluntness still annoyed him. Why can't I find Lilli's compassion? her gentle caring? He huffed. Offering both hands to Trey, he said, "Put all your weight on me and I will lift you to your feet."
Again with the relying on people. He had gone so long without having to lean on others and now he was doing - literally. Sighing, Trey grabbed the man's hand and was pulled to his feet. He bit down and gritted his teeth trying to stand, but his right knee gave out and he collapsed on this stranger. "I'm sorry." Somehow, he managed to stand again.
"Don't apologize." His tone was sharp and blunt. "Don't ever apologize. Not for anything, ever. Do you understand me boy?"
Trey looked at the man, suddenly feeling a change in demeanor, "But I didn't mean to fall, I'm trying here. For having only known me five minutes and starting with a courteous gesture, you're sure going downhill."
"Then try, but don't apologize for it. You are weak but there is no need to add to it by acting the part of the victim. You must always appear strong even when you're not." Shaking his head, Robert guided them slowly down the corridor. "I did not make a courteous gesture simply because I felt sorry for you. For some reason, my sister has chosen this as our new home and so I must fit in here. But if that means walking on eggshells simply because I do not accept apologies for things that didn't require one in the first place then perhaps I am in the wrong place." There was a holosuite on this bloody ship somewhere, he was sure, so he pointed them in the direction he thought would be right. "Be strong and sure of yourself and no one will ever take advantage of you."
"Thank you wise sage," Trey said sarcastically as he took it step by weak step. He wasn't entirely discouraged, but he sure as hell didn't like the attitude of this new guy. And, Trey let his emotions show it, he was sure. "So, your sister wears the pants in the family? She is the almighty dictator and you just follow like the lost puppy?"
"Do not mock her," Robert growled. "She is my world and I am hers. We live for each other." Shaking his head, Robert shrugged. "But yes, I would follow wherever she led me." The door to the holosuite loomed before them so he asked the computer to run a standard program. When they entered, they found an Olympic size swimming pool. "Get in."
"Are you kidding?" He looked at him with a stunned confusion. He was already supporting himself solely on Robert's arms. "I don't have good use of my legs, man, I'll drown in a heartbeat. Unless you are trying to kill me, you've officially gone crazy."
Sighing heavily, Robert moved them over to a shallow area of the pool and began walking them in. "The water will support you." As they got deeper, he eased off of holding Trey as surreptitiously as he could.
It was an amazing feeling to be solo again. He pushed away from Robert, treading water with his hands and letting his legs dangle underneath him. He paddled over to the shallowest end and sat down on the edge to pull off his shirt and strip down to his boxers. "What's next Teach?" Trey smiled, allowing the term to take on a more jovial meaning. "Laps?"
The man's joy finally touched a quiet place inside Robert and he grinned. "Yes, essentially. Take it easy at first, keep to back stroke, that way if you get tired then you can just stop and rest as you float. Use both your arms and legs to propel yourself. Do not allow the weakness in your limbs to prevent you from using them." Robert pulled himself out of the pool and removed his trousers and shirt, crossing to where Trey was still sitting. "I will support your back for a while, if you like."
Trey laid on his back and floated on the surface. Pushing himself off he slowly paddled backwards with his hand and moved his legs enough to get them working. He propelled his body down the length of the pool rather easily. "Why didn't I think of this? Thanks, Rob - can I call you Rob?" It was nice to get out of the ship and into the water; whether or not it was holographic didn't make much difference.
Rob? "I've never been called that before. I suppose that you can, there's very little that I can do about it." Watching Trey move through the water, Robert said, "As you feel stronger, start front crawl and build that up. Then when you are satisfied with that, move onto breast stroke. Don't expect miracles. Injuries such as yours will not heal over night, but swimming will get the muscles healing quicker without putting too much strain on them." Pushing off from the edge, Robert glided up next to Trey. "If you need me to come with you again, just let me know."
"Thanks Rob." Trey said genuinely, resting his arms across his bare stomach.
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