It was becoming a nightly occurrence.
He held his breath as Jiya convulsed in the darkness beside him. His hands hovered above her. As he looked around for anything dangerous to move away, he had to fight to not hold her down. As she told him last time, when it almost resulted in a dislocated shoulder, it didn’t help.
The seizures never lasted more than a minute or two, but it felt like an eternity. He couldn’t imagine what it was like for Jiya to be the one experiencing them and the visions that accompanied.
When she finally came back from God-knows-where, he breathed.
“It’s okay. I got you.”
She nodded shakily.
“Do you wanna… talk about it?”
Rather than meeting his worried eyes, she kept her tired gaze on the wall. “I just want to go back to sleep.”
He gently rubbed her back because it was the only way he could help, but he knew it was her exhaustion that let her fall back asleep. He hadn’t realized how long he’d been watching for spasms until he looked at the clock’s boxy “5:42 am.”
Routine was hard to find around the bunker. Their schedule was dictated by the Mothership’s journeys and there wasn't any sunlight to tell them when to wake up or eat dinner.
It was something he missed: predictability, stability. He missed waking up each morning and driving to work after making his brother breakfast. He missed pancakes and having more than one bathroom between a family of eight, and he knew Jiya missed it too.
The least he could do was make her breakfast in bed; and hope they wouldn’t dragged off onto another mission mid-meal.
Supplies in the bunker weren’t great. They had cereal; lots and lots of cereal, and more than enough bland non-perishables. But pancake ingredients? He’d have to smuggle them in via Agent Christopher.
“Rufus, I want to help. I really do. But I simply don’t have the time to make grocery runs for you.”
“Please,” he begged. “It’s for Jiya.”
Denise’s expression softened as much as one could expect the expression of Denise Christopher to soften.
After a moment that felt like it lasted hours, she finally responded. “Fine. Give me a few days.”
Rufus had to keep himself from throwing his arms around her. Instead, he stood there beaming. “Thank you!”
Jiya had had another rough night, and Rufus finally had all the ingredients he needed to give her something positive to wake up to. He slipped out of the room and rushed to grab the pancake mix from its hiding spot.
He bolted, as quietly as possible, to the kitchen. He also sent several pans clattering to the floor in his haste. Once he was sure he hadn’t woken anyone, he continued setting up, calculating how much time he had left until Jiya usually woke up.
He nearly dropped an egg he was cracking when footsteps thudded behind him.
“Whoa, is that…” Wyatt sniffed loudly. “Is that pancakes?”
Rufus turned to him, wielding his spatula like a sword. “Step away. These are for Jiya.”
“Alright, alright.” Wyatt put up his hands and stepped back. “Where’d you even get the ingredients for these?”
“I have my ways.”
“Is this why we had maple syrup in the fridge the other day?”
Rufus’ blood pressure spiked. “What do you mean ‘had’?”
He bolted to the fridge, nearly ripping the door off its hinges. The syrup bottle, which he had hidden in a broken drawer, was nowhere in sight.
“I drank it,” Wyatt mumbled.
“You… You drank it.” He let the words sink in, biting his lip before snapping. “Who drinks maple syrup!? No, who drinks an entire bottle of maple syrup in the span of two days !?”
“You say that like it isn’t normal.”
“It isn’t! Aw man, Jiya’s going to be so upset.”
“I mean, if there was a note or something on it I wouldn’t have touched it.”
“Please,” Rufus begged, looking away as he pointed at Wyatt’s quarters with the spatula. “Just go.”
With a box of cereal in tucked under his arm, Wyatt headed off. “Sorry, man.”
Rufus finally opened his eyes when the footsteps were far away enough for him too scream into his hands.
“It’s okay,” he told himself. “It’s one set back. You still have your decorating skills to fall back on.”
He took a deep breath and forced himself to continue.
He was used to making Star Wars themed pancakes from cooking for his family, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ones. So he stole one of Jiya’s Star Trek DVDs as a reference. At least he wouldn’t have to create the insignia from memory.
Batter sizzled against the pan as he worked, sweating over the stove and fending off other bunker members with his life. He glanced at the clock as he flipped the spatula. Jiya would be awake in a matter of minutes.
A groggy “Morning” from a voice he wanted to hear every other morning shook him to his core. He threw himself in front of the stove to try and hide his surprise, but it was too late.
“Jiya! You’re not supposed to--”
“What’s that?” she asked at the end of a yawn.
“Are those… pancakes?” Her eyes widened as she made her way over. “Where did you get pancakes? Oh my God, Rufus, is that a tribble ?”
He nervously smiled. “Yeah. I, uh, asked Agent Christopher to buy some for me. But Wyatt drank all the syrup and--”
Jiya wrapped her arms around him.
“You made me pancakes,” she said as if it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her.
“You made me Star Trek pancakes. Thank you, Rufus.” After a moment, she pulled back from their hug. “Wait, did you say Wyatt drank the syrup?”
“Yeah, he uh… Yeah. Anyway....” He pulled out a chair from the table. “You should sit down before your breakfast gets cold.”
He sat down beside her once the table was set. She leaned into his shoulder and cut into a golden Star Trek insignia. It wasn’t what he’d planned; no breakfast in bed, no syrup, and no big element of surprise. But Jiya was smiling, and that was enough.