Character Takes Care of Sick Friend

“No, really, you don’t have to stay.” Domerin didn’t have the energy to put his usual tone of command into the statement, but he hoped his tone would do the trick anyway.

It didn’t. His daughter’s boyfriend still hovered over his bed, shifting from foot to foot, head hanging as though he’d just been caught with his hand in a cookie jar. Daniel Barrett had never been Domerin’s favorite person. It had nothing to do with the fact that the kid was dating his daughter – though he rather thought she could do better – and much to do with his service record. If it hadn’t been for Robin, and the rest of her squad, vouching for his mistakes, he’d have been off the company roster the first time he failed his evaluation. Arrogant upstarts got under his skin in a way rowdy, undisciplined soldiers did not. It was a lot harder to keep them in line without crushing their ego first, and Domerin didn’t often have the patience.

Lucky for him, his daughter was as sharp of tongue and as strong of will as she was. Daniel didn’t dare talk back to him now or he’d get an earful from his girlfriend, whose opinion he valued much more than his commanders. Unfortunately, it seemed Daniel feared a similar tongue-lashing over abandoning his girlfriend’s father despite their mutual opinion on the matter. It was his understanding Robin asked Daniel to keep an eye on him while she and Crescent were both busy with duty shifts.

Domerin would have preferred to endure this indignity alone.

“Robin told me you’d say that,” Daniel replied when finally he found his tongue.

Domerin grit his teeth. He was about to offer a sharp retort, but half the muscles in his body chose that moment to seize, cramping for several long seconds before they fluttered and relaxed, forcing him to focus on breathing. Fire flowed along the veins of his right hand, followed soon but a duller fire in his knees, moving steadily up his leg. Only his left arm ever escaped unscathed, the only limb which didn’t bear the artificial replacements that allowed him to function on a daily basis.

The occasional day of miserable agony seemed a small price to pay for being able to take care of himself the rest of the time. And while he appreciated his daughter’s determination to help him through these episodes, he wished she hadn’t foisted her boyfriend on him.

“There isn’t much you can do in the first place. I’ll take a dose of morphine and sleep. It’s not like my quarters require supervision.”

Daniel Barrett cleared his throat. “She… uh… she also told me you’d say that, sir.”

His exaggerated sigh became a soft growl. His daughter knew him too well. “Suit yourself,” he grumbled. “Stand over my bed like a shame-filled gargoyle if that’s how you want to spend your day.”

It took a great deal more effort than he was willing to admit to lift himself and turn to one side, as if every muscle in his body expended the last of its reserves just to shift his position. Gritting his teeth again, he fumbled for the drawer beside his bed, but his fingers scrabbled ineffectually against the smooth surface.

Out of the corners of his eyes he caught his unwelcome guest smirk, for the briefest of moments, before crossing his arms over his chest. “See? You do need help after all! You can’t even open a simple drawer!”

If only his people had perfected the art of telepathic eye lasers. Was there a race that had perfected such technology? He must have conveyed the depths of his displeasure in a single glance because Daniel started and dropped his arms to his sides. “You want to be helpful, wiseass? Go ahead and open the drawer.”

Daniel hesitated. The look of uncertainty on his face suggested Domerin had just asked him to walk through a minefield. A slight narrowing of his eyes unlocked the boy’s limbs and he darted forward, grasping the drawer handle with both hands.

He pulled. Nothing happened. He pulled harder. The entire nightstand shifted, rattling slightly at the disturbance. Daniel looked uncertain. He tried again. If the drawer had been loose, the kid would have shot across the room with it.

Domerin swatted his hand away and Daniel released his grip, stumbling back from the bed. “There’s enough morphine in there to seriously harm a person. You think I just leave it unlocked right next to where I sleep?” He drew a small measure of pleasure from the contrite look that crossed the kid’s face.

This time he managed to swing his fingers into the space beneath the drawer and tap the proper sequence on the number pad. The drawer popped open with a hiss and Daniel hurried to pull one of the vials from within.

Domerin rolled back into a more comfortable position, if one could be said to be comfortable in the midst of several muscle spasms, before he held out his hand for the vial.

He couldn’t miss the way Daniel shifted as he pressed the device to the crook of his elbow. Nor the slight wince on the kids face as Domerin hit the button. He even gulped as he took the vial back and slid it into the drawer.

On any other day, Domerin would have ignored him and waited in silence for the drug to take effect. The dose was just enough to knock him out for a couple of hours. Usually by then the cramping and spasms would fade.

But today was not a normal day, and Domerin was in a particularly rotten mood. He fixed his guest with another scowl. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Daniel gulped. “N..nothing, sir. It’s just… well, I don’t know how you inject yourself like that. Like it’s nothing.”

Domerin’s eyebrows shot upward. “It is nothing. All you do is press a button. The device does all the hard work. It even indicates when you’ve found a vein.”

“No, I know that, sir. But still, it’s the needle. I just really can’t stand needles.”

Well, he wasn’t the first soldier Domerin had met who admitted to such a phobia. Nor was he likely to be the last. He closed his eyes. “If you had any idea how many needles I’ve been pricked with over the years, you’d understand. Try fifteen odd intense hours of open-cranial surgery and then tell me how needles make you squeamish.”

He heard the kid gulp and gasp and open his mouth to talk again.

“Yes, it actually happened.” Domerin interrupted without bothering to open his eyes. “If you don’t stop sticking your foot down your throat every time we talk, you’re going to have some serious problems. I’m pretty sure my daughter already articulated her feelings on that matter.”

“Sorry.” The single word sounded sincere. “I don’t do it on purpose, you know. I just kind of open my mouth and…”

“Disasters fall out?” Domerin cracked his eyes enough to see Daniel nod. “You’ll have to pardon me if I don’t rush to offer sympathy. You’re the one who started all this. You ever think of running your words through a filter before you just blurt them out?”

The tips of Daniel’s ears burned red. “I mean… No? Maybe not.”

Whatever his daughter saw in this kid, Domerin couldn’t figure it out. “Probably had something to do with your rotten attitude,” he muttered, letting his eyes slide closed again.

“My attitude?” Daniel sounded indignant.

“Yeah,” Domerin replied, opening his eyes wide enough to glower. “You’re goddamned rotten attitude. The I’m better than everyone and always ready to prove it attitude you’re so proud of. That kind of attitude doesn’t usually survive a month in this company.”

Daniel snorted. “I don’t think I’m-“

“Of course you do. Why else would you have gone out of your way to take a shot at me during that first evaluation? Because play-killing me – an honor mark not many can boast – was more important to you than protecting your squad. Because your personal success was more important than the group’s success. And probably because you’re desperate to prove I’m not half as good as people make me out to be.”

“Is that why you don’t like me?” Daniel demanded after several seconds of stunned silence.

“I never said I didn’t like you,” Domerin replied, letting his eyes drift closed. He was beginning to feel pleasantly disconnected from the rest of the world. “I said I don’t trust you. It’s always been you who didn’t like me. And while I, frankly, don’t give a damn, it rather upsets your girlfriend.”

“Oh come on.” He could hear the eye-roll in the kid’s tone. “You really expect me to believe that it doesn’t matter to you what your daughter’s boyfriend thinks? What if we got married? You’d just be okay with my silent loathing?”

Domerin smiled. It wasn’t a sarcastic smile, though it must have looked ghastly against his ashen, sweat-streaked skin. “You know something, Danny-boy? I always thought my daughter would outgrow me. That she’d find some guy she couldn’t live without and flit away to build a life somewhere that didn’t include me. And I always thought when that time came I’d step aside, let her go, support her from afar.

“But we both know that’s not what’s going to happen. Robin has made her position resoundingly clear. She wants me in her life as much as she wants you in it. More, in fact. I’m pretty sure she’s threatened to get rid of you if you don’t learn to behave, not the other way around. And I love my daughter. I’m not going to stand in the way of what she wants, even if that something is you.

“So the way I see it, you can hate me all you like. It isn’t my problem; it’s yours.”

He didn’t open his eyes to see the look on Daniel’s face. It was more fun to imagine his eyes filled with silent horror as he skulked from the room muttering, “I’d better go get you some water for when you wake up.”

domerin - sick friend

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The long version of this prompt was “Character A takes care of Character B while they are sick.” I know this is the second Domerin prompt in a row, but this was super fun to write! ;)

Check out what my writing partner did with this one!

And if you’d like to participate leave your response in the comments and I’ll feature it next week!

2 Responses to “Character Takes Care of Sick Friend”

  1. ganymeder Says:

    This was an interesting dialogue. I enjoyed it!


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