October 21, 2357
Camp Emergence Hospital
Camp Emergence, America
Bed rest was too literal for Ari. Despite the fact that there was a very newly healed wound in her side, it didn't stop her from getting out of her bed and taking baby steps to the window of the second floor hospital room she was placed in. Her irritation was higher than average already when the convoy had brought her and Sergeant Naois from the soldiers' immediate encampment outside the city. Now that she was in a clearly older hospital with fairly outdated equipment, her mood was not much better. Apparently 'medical condition' meant little to the soldiers of Camp Emergence and they thought whatever was at their disposal could easily account for any complications.
When they'd arrived at the hospital, Jace had admitted her with both him and his mother as the attending physicians. There had been a general disruption in allowing a civilian doctor on the premises, but a smart remark of Ari's about returning to the city put a stop to that immediately. She was instantly assured that, despite the technology available in the city, they knew more about treating stab wounds than any other doctor in the world. She took that to mean: she had no choice and she wasn't going anywhere.
Perched on the very edge of the narrow windowsill, Ari stared off into space with her jaw clenched so tightly that it was eventually starting to hurt. Ignoring the pain, she kept in the same exact position of stubborn stiffness. Unique to her, she always believed, was the ability to be completely lethal and completely still at the same time. When she was at her most furious, she never twitched a muscle. Marble was more relenting in comparison.
Ari was still in the same position when the door opened and two distinct sets of footsteps entered. One was the loud, heavy sound of a pair of army boots. The other was lighter and squeaked slightly on the laminate floor, naming them as standard sneakers.
The Naois doctors had arrived.
As the sneakers moved further into the room, Ari heard the boots come to a sudden stop right inside the door. She didn't even bother to turn her head when she heard his voice growl, "Bed rest means you stay in bed, Ari."
Her muscles were coiled tightly and she had to resist the urge to lunge at him. Or rather, resist the urge to bolt out of the door he still held wide open. She'd never make it in her condition, for one. Not to mention, she was certain the ability to outrun Jace was slim to nil. Even if she made it out into the corridor, he'd snatch her back in no time and have her physically strapped into her bed.
"Ari? How are you feeling? Would you like to tell me what happened?"
Slowly, Ari's head turned away from the window. Her gaze settled balefully on Lita's blue eyes. There was so much she would have liked to say to her right then, but time and constant contemplation had nullified any remark she could give. If she threw baseless accusations at her doctor, it would be only thrusting her spite for Jace off onto her. Besides that, she needed her.
Yet, Ari couldn't stop herself from sneering, with a pointed look at Jace, "A panic attack."
When her attention returned to her doctor, Lita's own eyes had widened considerably and a look shot back and forth between her son and her patient. The hint was all she needed to put two and two together. And understanding dawned in her eyes a moment later when she realized the animosity between them was much more complex than she had imagined.
After a moment had passed, with Jace still glaring at Ari and Ari still ignoring Jace, Lita finally sighed, "Well, well. It really is a small world."
Jace's jaw strained and he took the opportunity to order in a commanding voice, "Ari, get back in bed. Your wound—"
"Is just fine," she snapped back. "There's no internal bleeding—you checked it yourself. I'm all sewn up—better than you yourself could do. And my real doctor is here now. I'm fine. I'm alive. And I'm ready to go home." Turning to Doctor Lita, she then demanded, "How soon can you get me discharged?"
Jace took five large steps across the room, stopping where he was barely looming over her. "I am your doctor here. And you may go when I discharge you. My mother is here in a consulting position. Now, if you ever have any hopes of leaving here again, you get your ass back in that bed!"
In an instant, Ari was on her feet. Her black eyes glared into Jace's as she spat, "You can't keep me here. That's kidnapping. If my physician says that I can be discharged, who are you to stop me?"
"I am your physician. And if you attempt to do anything to jeopardize your health, I will sedate you."
"It's against the law for you to hold me here against my will, Doctor. Even if I was on my death bed and wanted to be discharged, you couldn't keep me here. It's the law."
"You forget where you are. Base laws are very different from civilian ones."
"But I'm not a soldier. Base laws hold no restrictions on me. If you are holding me against my will, who in their right mind would side with you? I can go above your head, Jace."
His eyes narrowed menacingly at the blatant threat. "And my commanding officers will all defer to my medical opinion. As they have always done."
"Not when I have a physician who has been caring for me since birth available to me back in the city." Ari's expression was almost too smug as she indicated his mother.
It proved as no leverage whatsoever. "After wounds like yours, she won't allow you to be moved any more than I will. You're outnumbered, Ari. And severely weakened. Now give up and get back in the damn bed."
"No. I want to go back to the city."
"Ari, there are people trying to kill you in the city," Jace sighed in exasperation.
"'So.'" Jace's voice was inflectionless, though his features clearly displayed his astonishment. It was quickly melted away by his own anger. "So? Damn it, Ari! You could be killed back there!"
"What makes you think I care?" she yelled back with equal ferocity.
Jace's features turned cold and unyielding. His lips pursed like he tasted something sour. Only a second after the words left her lips, however, he snatched up the ancient remote for the fifty year old television set and slammed his thumb on the power button. "That's why," he snarled as the news headlines were broadcast over a three by four foot section of the wall.
Ari was too stunned to respond. And a faint, false murmur entered the space between her heartbeats as the bold headlines traveled across the screen.
Cai Balere Hospitalized With Suspected Stab Wound
YOU ARE READING
Separate, they are nothing. Together, they are a secret worth killing for. Ari Keir has always felt hollow. An empty longing has lived inside her chest for as long as she can remember. And for nearly eighteen years, she never knew what caused it...