"Wrestling is with hands, not sharp pointy objects," says Dr. Len Prashad. He lifts a tablet from the counter and thumbs through her chart. The top of his dark brown scalp peeks through the hair at the top of his head. There's a lot more grey now.

I look over and see Ash sitting on a similar bed next to the doctor and my heart lurches. This is the first time we've been face to face since Sarka pulled her out of my cabin. And then the shame hits me full force. Shame that I never had the nerve to visit her, shame at what she said to Hartley.

Instead of dealing with it, head on, I turn back to Yakovich. "I thought Sarka..."

She shakes her head. "He's been as quiet as a cucumber." She hops off the bed, careful of her shoulder. "Am I good to go, Doc?"

Dr. Prashad waves her off. "Stay away from sharp objects for the next couple of days. And it's as cold as a cucumber, not quiet."

"As far as I remember, cucumbers don't make noises." She smirks and ambles away, turning back to gaze at Ash. "Take care, Ash." She nods at me as she passes. "Captain."

When I first met him, I didn't think much of the short opinionated man. That changed real quick the first time I had to go see him. Back then, I was only a second lieutenant, helming on a small cutter. And as the doctor put it, I'd bitten off more than I could chew. I was dating this woman in botany, who among other things, was running me ragged with her stamina. One night she had the idea of sneaking into the hydroponics hold where they grew the wheat grass. It turns out I'm allergic to wheat grass. I'm indebted to Dr. Prashad for his discretion, even if it did come with unsolicited advice.

Ash is in uniform pants and a tank-top, her tunic folded over the table beside her. She's no longer wearing the brace, but her arms are still covered in grafting bandages. There are less of them, but they plaster the majority of her body. Her skin is so pale the freckles on her face stand out, making her appear younger and very vulnerable.

"Is she fit for duty?" I ask Dr. Prashad.

"I'm fine."

I stare at the doctor, knowing Ash's version of fine and mine aren't the same in the least. Even if she'd lost a hand, she'd still say she was fine.

"I don't want her on any space walks until the grafts are healed, but I'm clearing her for light duties." He hands me the tablet with her workup. I scroll through trying, and failing, to stay neutral. But seeing it here, her injuries stacked in list form, is overwhelming.

"What are light duties? The grafts aren't going to give her any problems are they?"

"Despite my injuries, sudden deafness wasn't one of them. I'm right here, you can talk to me, you know." She glares up at me from the exam bed, her is face flushed. It happens often. Always a good indicator when she's mad. Those green eyes flash dark which means she's ready for a fight.

"You want to tone down that attitude, Lieutenant?"

Her shoulders slump but her eyes stay hard. "I'm sorry, Captain." She sighs and looks down at her stilled legs. "I don't think I can take another day sitting around doing nothing." Classic Ash. I swear they invented the motto 'it's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission' for Ash. Her stance is already to beg forgiveness but I'm not falling it for it this time. Those eyes are still on fire.

I touch Dr. Prashad's arm, stealing his attention from a set of test results in his hand. "Can you give us a moment?" Startled, he looks around the empty med centre and frowns.

Sarka was right. A humiliating thought. My commands are more like requests.

I raise my eyebrows in question when he still doesn't move. He makes a big show of taking his time. He purses his lips. He huffs. He unhooks the sensors covering Ash's upper chest, then leaves.

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