Chapter 21: Discharged

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October 27, 2357

Geneva National Hospital

Geneva, Switzerland

Cai exhaled irritably as the news once more announced that, after a week laid up in the hospital, the Supreme Commander's son was finally to be discharged. After listening to a bit more of fruitless suspicions, he shut off the wall projection in disgust. For a week straight, cameras and reporters had been camped outside of the hospital. From the moment the medics rushed him in, he was not given a moment's peace. It was even harder on his mother.

The day after Cai was admitted, his mother had stood before the hospital with an ashen face. In the least composed voice and manner Cai had ever seen, she explained the situation as best she could. That Cai had suffered pain in his side and was rushed to the hospital. Nothing alarming. No danger. Healing well. All the usual commentary one would expect. If she hadn't looked like she was about to faint, the people might have believed her.

Only a day later, Cai was witness to another story completely. Apparently, one of the medics who had first arrived at his house had tipped off the reporters that it looked very much like a stab wound that had appeared in his side. It was a single, clean puncture that traveled roughly five inches into his body. From that point on, his anger with the attention had grown beyond any amount of composure and he found that they were lucky he couldn't leave his hospital room for a week.

Taking deep breaths to calm himself, Cai checked the outdated wall clock to find that Ris was late. Again. Irritation caused his lips to twist and he wondered what could possibly be keeping her. Though she wasn't exactly known for her punctuality, today of all days she should have been on time. He wanted real clothes.

Just as he finished the thought, the door burst open with an equally irritated Amaris striding into the room with a small bag in her hands. "I swear, if your mom hires another bodyguard, I'm going to scream. I had to go through three security scans before I got here and I don't think you're even going to want to wear your boxers. A lot of hands have touched them recently." A delicate shudder ran up her spine as she held out the bag to him.

"Thanks for the heads up," Cai grumbled in disgust, taking out the garment she spoke of and tossing them directly into the trash. Grabbing the rest of his clothes, he headed immediately for the bathroom while Ris took up a seat on the end of the hospital bed.

"Have you been watching this lately?" she called as she turned the wall screen back on. "And I didn't think reporters could get any more pathetic. Hey, did you see me burst into tears the other day? I swear they replayed it every fifteen minutes on all the stations."

"How could I not see it? You burst into my room, jumped on my bed, and changed it to the station not twenty seconds after it happened."

"Well, it was a good piece of showmanship. And it took me way longer than twenty seconds to get from the barricade to your room," she said. Cai smirked as she rolled her eyes. "Hey, who are you going to choose anyway?"

"For what?" He knew exactly for what.

"Who you're going to lean on as you walk out of here? On one hand, it'll be good for your mother to appear very maternal. But on the other hand, I'm the natural choice, as the best friend and pretend girlfriend."

That earned a laugh out of him before he was able to answer, "Neither. I'm more than perfectly healed and can walk upright all by myself. Sorry, Ris, I'm flying solo."

Amaris snorted. "You'll be lucky if you can go to the bathroom 'solo' from here on out. Cai, there are at least six bodyguards waiting out there. And I don't think you'll be able to talk your mom down from this one. Oh, and she's going to try and cancel the birthday party. Again. Just a heads up."

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