Chapter 1: When the broken grass litters the floor
He’d finally gotten his EM field under control when First Aid knelt to help clean up the mess of shattered containers. As if Pharma’s castigation hadn’t been bad enough, now he had to deal with his coworker’s pity.
Ambulon’s shoulders hunched as he tried to gather the shards of glass faster. First Aid tentatively reached for his arm, but he jerked it away. “Not now, Aid.”
“He’s not being fair to you.”
“I’m used to it. I just need to keep proving my worth.”
“Let me help,” the doctor—nurse—begged. “I can talk to him about it. This has been going on ever since we got here…”
“It’s my job.” Ambulon plucked a piece of glass from his finger joint. It must have gotten lodged there by his fist’s clenching during Pharma’s spiel. “I’d like to keep it.”
“Do as I say, Aid. I rank you now.” Ooh. Low blow.
First Aid turned away, stung.
Ambulon winced. He stretched out a hand and touched his friend’s shoulder in wordless apology.
Chapter 2: With a hoarse voice, under the blankets
First Aid found the lights off in their hab suite, but a yellow glow emanated from the insulation tarp-covered lump on Ambulon's berth. He cycled his vents once to alert his colleague to his presence.
An strained voice acknowledged his presence. "I hate him," came from under the tarp.
First Aid winced. Pharma got a little worse each day, and no one felt the brunt of it like Ambulon.
He sat down on the edge of the berth and was immediately glomped by seven tons of what he had taken for an upset ward manager. With their EM fields in range, First Aid felt his mistake. Ambulon was furious.
He started to pull away, to give him a little space, but his best friend just clung to him more securely and tucked his face into Aid's collar armor. "I hate him."
"I know," Aid replied softly. "I know."
Chapter 3: Muffled, from the other side of the door
Ambulon fled the bar the moment he had transformed back into root mode. First Aid shot a glare over at Swerve. The bartender pretended to be engrossed in cleaning glasses. Aid huffed his vents and headed off after his best friend.
Their habsuite door was, unsurprisingly, locked. Aid sat on the floor and leaned back against it. He counted thirty second before speaking.
“Are you going to let me in?”
“No.” The short, sharp response made him smile. Peeved, Ambulon was a step closer to okay than silence.
“So I’m to just wait out here, then?”
“I’m never going back to Swerve’s.”
Six words? That was a record for an upset Ambulon!
First Aid let his smile creep into his voice. “And forfeit your access to the long-coveted engex source? Am I still speaking to Ambulon?”
There. That was definitely a stifled chuckle. Time to adjust his tactic.
“You don’t have to go there again. But I bet Ratchet’ll tell him off for you.”
Aid rapped his knuckles against the door. “Trust me, Amby, he’d do it for one oil chip. Pit, he’d do it for free. We’re part of his crew, now. The Hatchet’s got your back.” He dropped the serious tone for a wheedling one. “Now let me innnnn. I have to administer emergency cuddles to the universe’s most stubborn patient.”
“‘M not stubborn!”
“...yeah, okay.” Aid jumped to his feet as the door slid open.
Ambulon glowered at him, but the corner of his mouth was twitching. “Brat.”
He patted his best friend’s cheek. “You know you love me.”
“Now get over here for your cuddle prescription.”