“Okay kiddo i’m gonna need you to take a deep breath in, and then out”
Delta listened to the instructions from the ship’s pseudo medic, and after flinching slightly from the feeling of the cold stethoscope touching her skin she filled her lungs with air, waited for him to nod, then blew it back out slowly.
“Now that is sounding a lot better. The rattle is almost completely gone, and you’re recovering ahead of schedule.” Datsun said happily, he pulled on the cigarette that hung on the corner of his beak.
Delta smiled meekly, happy to pull her sweater back on. The air in the “nurse’s office” as Datsun’s work room was called was quite chilly.
“Delta I think you’re stable enough for us to try something, it’s just to test how well your body can take it and if there’s any complications we can try again later but…”
He opened the mini-fridge that housed various samples from other crew members and pulled out an apple. After closing the door to the fridge he buffed it on his shirt, then offered it to Delta.
“I think we can start you on food- real food, not just those nutrition packets. You in?”
Delta blinked at him. “Am I in? I…..I….Of course I am! Thank you!” She accepted the fruit graciously, and also allowed Datsun to place a scalpel in her hand as well.
“It might be easier for you to cut it up while you eat, just a suggestion.” He explained.
She nodded again, and after being dismissed she walked off to find a place to enjoy her first real bite of food in over 50 years.
Settling on some empty crates near the back hatch of the ship, Delta sat herself down and began to methodically cut off chunks of the red, juicy, apple and pop them into her mouth. She chewed slowly, the flood of saliva stinging in her cheeks as her taste-buds adapted to the once familiar tartness of it.
The sound of one of the ship's many automatic doors sliding open let her know she wasn’t alone eating, and the echo of a whistled tune told her immediately who it was that entered.
“Heya girlie! Whatcha munching on there?” Renensco chirped, stride as bouncy as it always was. He plopped himself beside her, and grinned with razor sharp teeth.
“An apple. Datsun said I could move on to solid food now, thank god.” Delta answered.
“Looks like you’re off suicide watch too yeah?” He commented, before pointing at the scalpel in Delta’s hand when she gave him a quizzical look.
She looked at it as well, chewing thoughtfully. “I guess so” She swallowed. “I didn’t even know I was on it.”
There was silence for a moment, before the purple alien cleared his throat.
“So uh, The Good Doctor mentioned you were feeling better….physically I mean- who knows what’s going on in that screwy nut of yours- but I thought i’d be a gentleman and pass along an invitation to a very exclusive and prestigious-”
“I can’t go to a show with you yet, if that’s what you’re asking.” Delta interjected.
Renensco pouted. “Why not? Do I stink or something?”- He mimed smelling his underarm and made a face. Delta couldn’t help but giggle at his theatrics.
“Datsun said no extraneous activity, heavy bass, or fast tempo. Something something...arrhythmia.. Something something my heart could stop...something something.. Uh.. i’m 70.”
“Jesus Herschel Christ kid! You sure you’re not suicidal? I know I'd be!”
“Y’know Blue you really oughta work for one of those hotlines with at risk youth. I’m sure you’d be a natural.” Delta said- voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Count me the fuck out- between you and Halby I’ve got enough angst that the orphans of the world have started searching the sewers for pennies to donate to you sad saps.” Renensco replied, scrunching up his face, what little of one he had.
“I could do with more pennies...I’m running out of genuine vintage to hock.” Delta took another bite of her apple.
“There’s vendors at the venue we’d be going to, and your best bud Renensco can pull a few strings, kiss a few dicks, and probably score you a booth! Then you can sell those patches you’ve been making lately.”
“Cool plan, except the fact that i’d die if I went near an amp.”
“Hey, sometimes you gotta die a little to really live it up. Ya know who said that? Diogenes.”
Delta snorted, holding her hand over her mouth as she laughed. It was difficult not to be convinced of his sheer persistence alone. She finished her snack, feeling a little melancholy now that it was gone, and set the scalpel beside her. She leaned forward with her elbows on her knees and her chin resting on her palm.
“Why’re you so eager to bring me down planetside anyway Ren? You’ve got friends coming out both ends.” Delta asked.
“What I can’t add a few more? C’mon Deeds, you’re wasting away up here. When you’re not wrangling the stowaways you’re either asleep or sitting on the examination table. You’re a walking corpse in creepers.”
He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly.
“‘Sides, maybe I just like being around you. Ever thought about that?”
She blinked, the genuine response catching her off guard. Renensco shoved his hands deep into his pants pockets and shrugged. As the words sunk in she felt her cheeks redden, and not wanting to let the pause grow too pregnant she tried to find a response.
“I mean- It’s not like...Uh..thanks?” She stammered, looking away from Renensco and wondering if the scalpel was even necessary for her to kill herself- seeing as she was on the path to dying of embarrassment anyway.
“Aw geez you really gonna make a guy beg?” He added, his wide toothy grin taking up all the real estate on his minimalist facial structure. Putting yet another image in Delta’s head that made her hand inch closer and closer to the nearby sharp object. Soon a third voice spoke, cutting through the awkward atmosphere.
“Hey Blue, ‘we still hitting up the Rabid Raingutter’s concert? I heard the opening act’s bassist used to fool around with Elsie- maybe she’ll be there to see the loser.”
As if by a divine miracle, Halby made his entrance to bring the focus onto himself- an action that was usually punishable by shoes filled with shaving cream. But to Delta it was a welcomed diversion, seeing as Renensco’s semi flirting had put her in a tough spot.
“Currently being negotiated my compadre- just trying to convince Del to join us in the festivities.” Renensco replied, sounding only a little annoyed at his best friend.
“Well convince her faster, we gotta be there before the first set just in case that skeezy musician tries to get with Elsie backstage before we get there.” Halby whined, turning around again.
“Un-fucking-believable.” Renensco scowled. Rudely gesturing to Halby’s back as he left the two alone in the cargo hold again.
“Y’see why I’m so gung-ho about you tagging along girly? Imagine being stuck with that for an entire 5 sets. Look I love the kid but, shit gets old.”
“So your saying misery loves company right?” Delta remarked.
“No. I Loves’ company- Misery loves Halby and we run the same circles.”
She laughed. He was making the offer sound less and less refusable. Delta pursed her lips, she didn’t wanna leave Renensco hanging, but she wasn’t lying about the risks being around heavy music equipment would pose either.
“I’m sorry, but I really don’t think it’d be good for me… The last thing I want is to be bedridden again. Sorry I had to kill the buzz” She said sadly.
Renensco scratched himself, then spoke again.
“Okay. Don’t come to the concert, but can I at least bring something back for you?” He asked.
“I’m not one to turn down free stuff.” Delta smiled.
“Good. Because now that you’ve moved on from baby food I can treat you to some of the best franks this universe has to offer.” Renensco grinned. “And don’t worry, they’re beef dogs. Totally Kosher.”
Delta brightened up at the idea. She was always grateful for the way Renensco would make her feel included, even if it made things more difficult on his end.
“Okay yeah! That sounds pretty wicked actually.”
“Then the pact has been sealed.” Renensco joked, doing a poor impression of Boris Karloff. He spat into his palm, and offered the wet hand to Delta, who grimaced but shook on it regardless.
She couldn’t wait.