Sam's eyes opened slowly then he stretched with a yawn. He sat up and blinked a few times, had he been dreaming? He couldn't remember what about but the feeling of unease was enough for him to guess who about.
He eventually woke up enough to realize that the lights were dimmed down low; Jay must have gotten up already. Had he overslept? What time was it? Popping open a window on his wireless he checked the time; it was still early. He sat there and thought for a few moments before giving himself a shake and getting up. With the number of injured in their care it was bound to be a busy day; might as well get up to face it.
He flipped through a few functions on his wireless as he stumbled for the latrine; it looked like they would reach Ares in just about two more days. Okay, so he'd have to keep it together at least that long, after the wounded disembarked it would be a relatively tranquil flight to Delaware station so he'd have a chance to catch up then.
Jay was still in the shower so he grabbed his toothbrush out of the cabinet; his mouth tasted like a garbage can lid and he was regretting not taking care of it before falling asleep. Jay called out from inside, "Sam? Heck, I was trying not to wake you."
Sam spit into the sink, "Don't worry about it; would've had to be up in a few anyway."
"Well you looked like you were pretty well shot last night and I feel badly about how things went on the Isabella. Look, I was gonna cover for you anyway if you wanted to go back to bed that's fine by me."
Sam looked at the huge purple bump on his forehead, he'd really smacked himself hard last night, wait, what had he just said?! "What? You feel
you're the one who wound up getting shot!"
He poked his head out of the shower stall, "Yeah, and you're the one who is stuck having to answer for the whole thing. If I would've been paying attention it never would've gone down like that. Heck, if you hadn't reacted when you did
who knows how it would've ended for us."
Sam just stared at him with his mouth hanging open and toothpaste dribbling down his chin; he'd only just gotten up and the morning was already feeling a bit surreal to him. He'd nearly gotten him killed; twice, and Jay was the one who felt badly about it?
Sam wiped the foam from his chin as he tried to figure out what had just happened before shaking his head at him, "No, no it's okay. Don't worry about it
He finished up then took his turn in the shower. He was still puzzling out Jay's point-of-view as he started up the ladderway to grab something for breakfast. As he was passing deck two he saw Cpt. Pitja dozing in one of the command stations as SAMPSON went about the center performing his duties. She looked exhausted; it was the first time he'd seen her in want of anything since he first met her and it stunned him. He couldn't help but to stop and stare; and was forced to consider how many days in a row she had to have been up for.
She gave a yawn and a stretch before noticing he was there, "Oh, Sam, glad to see you're up. SAMPSON's got the ship functions under control so I want you and Jay to focus on taking care of the wounded among the evacuees."
Sam stepped through the hatchway, "Yes ma'am, I already figured on it."
She smiled sleepily and shook her head at him, "you can drop this 'ma'am' business; my name is Feile."
"Yes m-" Sam caught himself and then laughed at his own awkwardness.
She gave a single chuckle at him before saying, "Hey, do me a favor and go tell Tejir to get down here; tell him his coffee is plenty portable if he gives you any grief."
"Y- Sure, I'll get right on it."
Sam climbed up to deck three and found Tejir seated at one of the tables glaring across the compartment at the two men from the Isabella who were likewise glaring back at him. He must've guessed why Sam was up here because he got up and stormed over to him as soon as he saw him. "Hey Tejir, Captain said she needed you on the command deck."
Tejir didn't give any sign he'd even heard him but growled under his breath instead, "I do not like those two, they're trouble. I will sleep a lot better when they're off this ship."
Sam blinked at him, "What?"
He leaned closer and kept his voice down, still growling as he spoke, "They're not from Sol; they're from Bishop. Can't you tell?"
Sam looked at him as if he were crazy, but kept his own voice quiet not wanting to cause a scene, "Don't be absurd, Bishop was destroyed in the war. No one can be from there."
Tejir gave him a hard look before departing down the ladders. Sam gave him an incredulous look as he left then shook his head and shrugged his shoulders to himself. He knew that Tejir's family was among the first Droog on Earth, it was very possible that they had been refugees from Kajet, but still. Don't people have enough trouble in their lives without dragging up what their great-great-great-grandparents had done to each other over a hundred years ago?
The two men seated at the other table exchanged some quietly spoken words between them before one of them got up and walked over to Sam. Ian had trouble looking Sam in the eye but eventually said, "That guy
there's something about that guy that makes me nervous."
Sam shook his head, "That's just Lt. Ijan, don't mind him too much he just hates everybody. Anyway, I know things were a bit rushed yesterday. Are you finding everything you need?"
Ian laughed nervously but finally looked at him, "Well, mostly
It's been a long couple of days though; there someplace we can get cleaned up around here?"
Sam nodded and pointed to the ladderway he'd just entered from, "Oh, sure, all the way down and take the hatch to the right. If you need assistance just let SAMPSON know and he'll direct you."
He nodded and looked away for a moment, "thanks again
just thank you."
As the two men left Sam overheard the taller one quietly whisper, "Just 'cause one of them seems decent doesn't mean the lot are."
Ian shot back, a little louder, "Shut it, I don't-"
Sam lost the rest of his hissing reply as the hatch shut. Grabbing a meal packet he tossed it into the oven and leaned against the counter. Scowling at the floor he had to admit that this was the first time he'd ever really experienced anything like this. Everywhere he'd ever been on Earth there had been almost as many Droog around as Humans; nobody spared him a second glance. Out here where there were fewer mixed populations, maybe he did stand out a little. And if Tejir was right, if they were the distant decedents of a dead world, a world destroyed by people who looked just like him
As he calmed down he had to admit, other than being irritating they weren't really hurting anything; besides, in a couple of days they'll be out of his hair anyway.
Exhaling loudly, he looked around the room; the young man and the woman were both asleep and their monitors were quiet, he had a few minutes to himself. Still puzzled at Jay's behavior this morning he scowled back at the floor he rubbed his chin in thought; what would have happened if he weren't here? Well for starters, Jay wouldn't have been shot
come to think of it he never would've been in danger in the first place. Pitja would've stuck with her original plan, they wouldn't have been spread so thinly and nobody-
His thinking was interrupted by a noise from the far side of the compartment. He glanced up and saw the woman's eyes glittering in the dim light. She was looking at him out of the corner of her eye and struggling against the restraints trying to turn her head toward him, he could see from the look on her face that she was in a great deal of pain.
Sam rushed across the compartment. He grabbed a small remote tethered to the side of the cot and pressed it into her hand, "Easy, calm down, you're alright. Here, press this button until the pain goes away. Good, like that."
The strain left her features, but she didn't look away from him as he checked the medical equipment hooked up to her. He spoke calmly to her as he worked, "Calm down, you're okay. You're on the Manhattan. Everyone from the Isabella is here too and they're all just fine. Can you remember anything? Why don't you tell me what your name is? Can you do that for me?"
She didn't answer him but instead blinked slightly and a tear ran down her cheek before she quietly said, "You must be the angel who brought me back."
Sam was stunned; he opened his mouth to reply but couldn't find anything to say. She kept quietly talking to him, "I was dead. I fell, saw the console coming up to me, felt the blow
and that should have been it. The young man who was here earlier told me what happened, the risk you took for me."
Sam's bedside manner failed and he swallowed hard before answering, "I had to
you're important to somebody. I couldn't just stand by and let you go, not when there was a still a chance."
She shook her head slightly; as best as the restraints allowed her to, "I don't think I could have done the same, but you did it, for me; for some human you don't even know."
Sam shook his head, "Didn't matter, it wasn't about me. When I heard the distress call
you and your husband, Ian, there was so much left for you. I couldn't live with myself, not when I could save it."
She was secured to a backboard that kept her from moving much, but she managed to stick her hand out for him and he took it, "Anything else I have in this life, I'll have because of you."
Hours later Sam lay awake in his bunk listening to Jay snoring loudly above him. It'd been a hard day, he was exhausted but he just couldn't relax. He couldn't put what the woman said to him behind him and he was lost in thought. He'd been so caught up on all the small ways he had felt he'd failed everyone around him and he'd missed the bigger picture. Somehow, despite everything that had happened over the week everyone was still okay. Really, against the odds all things considered, and he knew he'd played a part in it all.
Rolling onto his side he did his best to quiet his mind and relax. There was still a good day-and-a-half left to go, he really needed to get what sleep he could.
Tomorrow would be another day after all.