Challenge #02612-G055: Befriending Sunshine
I figured I would take a stab at hoping for a part 2 of a story? It's from this prompt.
Ms. Lilcoon goes looking for her friend, Mr. Sunshine, after she has the surgery on her paws to make them more like dextrus hands. She's grateful he saved her and had tried to keep in touch by writing him. But with her hands bandaged for a bit, writing would be hard. She told her family about what happened, of how he saved her, and was given permission to go and meet him for lunch and a chat. After all, everyone needs to have friends, right? -- DaniAndShali
One of the allegedly nice things about modern technology was that hands were no longer necessary for writing. One of the drawbacks of speech to text was still that it couldn't transcribe everything. Lil was at a further disadvantage because the painkillers also slowed her tongue and slurred her speech. Half the time, her family and carers didn't understand her. The other half was spent in reassuring her that the Pax Humanis enforcer would not hurt her.
She tried to tell them that she was not a delicate and precious flower. She tried to tell them that she was not a fragile Havenworlder. She, too, was from Deathworlder stock, but the attending Mediks interpreted her protests as becoming upset or disturbed and ramped up the tranquillisers. It was a long time before she was able to make herself clear.
In that time, she feared that Mr Sunshine might believe she had abandoned him. It took some explaining, once she was on lighter painkillers, that Mr Sunshine had been nothing but protective of her and had even saved her from a Nufurrian who had attempted to claim her as both property and a bedmate. That was when the blocks between herself and him came down.
Which lead, in a roundabout way, to her sitting nervously at a cafe with her hands still bandaged and a supervisory Medik lurking nearby with a protective family member in tow. It wasn't her Unty's fault. Not really. She had been such a very small kitten and there had been some medical issues springing from flaws in her manufacture. She was made for beauty, not robustness. A timer peeped and she ran through her dexterity exercises, which included manipulating a colourful segmented toy into a set of three-dimensional configurations.
Was he delayed? Was he not coming? Was he enacting revenge for her unintended silence? Had he come to an unpredicted end with his -er- wetwork? She hadn't received any notice. She had no claws to flex, any more, and rhythmically kneading something soft hurt her after only a few repetitions. Lil had other dexterity exercises to keep her calm, now. Knitting or crochet were recommended. Painting and calligraphy when her bandages came off and the healing was pronounced sound.
There he was. Parting the crowds like an ancient religious figure parting the waters. He walked at a relaxed pace, careful of a large and shallow square prism he held close to his side. He needn't have been careful. He repelled people from his person like he possessed one of those 'force fields' of ancient science fiction. Lil relaxed and smiled. He had not abandoned her.
It was a strange life, being an Uplift. The Alliance helped where it could, foster programs, assistive technology or assistive biotechnology, surgeries and so forth... but the people? The people always kept their distance. As if being an Uplift was somehow infectious. There was that sort of... nervousness. Not in Mr Sunshine. He approached her as if she were any other cogniscent being.
"I must apologise for my delay," he said. "Customs had to scour my clothing clean of a novel microbiota sample and I was forced to wait for their technicians to be done."
"I was worried you'd somehow come to harm," said Lil, deciding not to mention her other suspicions. Fears. "I know your -ah- day job is dangerous."
He sat, with her permission, and poured the tea. "I'm the most dangerous thing in my day job, I doubt my employment would come to harm." He made sure she had the insulated cup. "Congratulations on your new hands. I hope they're up to the task of a lunch."
"Barely," she allowed. "I'll be unconscious on painkillers for the rest of the night, but... it will be worth it. I never got a chance to thank you for that rescue, and I tried to write... um. I don't know what got through."
"I did receive seventeen rather interesting attempts at speech to text. I think it thought you were speaking Drokhaar. The auto translation didn't help."
Her hands stung a little as she covered her face. "Oh no..."
"Please don't fret, Ms Lilcoon. I was able to reverse-engineer it to the point where I could listen to the original audio. Far more educational."
She had to put her crochet down, as the nerves were starting to zing and sting. The insulated cup, however, was just right for soothing her new hands. "Did I say anything very alarming."
"On the contrary," said Mr Sunshine, "I found it adorable. You needn't worry yourself about me, Ms Lilcoon. I'm rather used to the isolation. My welfare is... sufficient."
"Everybody should have a friend, Mr Sunshine," she said, pronouncing it correctly. "If I am your only friend, then I would consider it an honour."
This time, his smile was genuine and not the product of calculated artifice. "You are a rare gem, Ms Lilcoon. You have made me do something I thought impossible... I have... hoped. Specifically, I have hoped that you would say something like that and mean it. Which I can read that you do. I brought this," he gestured with the prism, "in the hopes of somehow paying for what you have already offered freely. This is... new... to me."
"It shouldn't have to be," said Lil.
"That's why this is now a 'thank you' gift. I took some liberties with the hands, since yours are still a work on progress, but... I think the research is accurate."
It was a wrapped portrait. He had worked his magic on her. Her white fur was rendered as if it were glowing from within. A fluffy goddess perched on a throne of pillows. Yet, also a victorious warrior with an enemy at her feet. An enemy with a nearly disturbing resemblance to the man who had attempted assault.
"Thank you," she said. "This more than enough motivation to complete the physiotherapy portion of my recovery. I will write when I can, I promise."
"I look forward to your messages," he said. It was, perhaps, the first time in his life that the normal formalities of polite conversation were... genuine.
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