July 5th, Epsilon
“Just hold still, damn it.”
I do my best to keep my body in place, do my best not to look at the pool of blood that I lay in. “My table is ruined,” I try to say, but I choke and end up with a coughing fit instead.
“Stop moving, kitten. You’re making this hard for me.” He picks up a pair of tweezers from the cluttered tray of medical equipment, laying a cold hand on the part of my stomach closer to my chest. “Now you have to stay still. Incredibly still.”
“Yes, well, you need to try harder. It’ll hurt like hell if this thing touches anything in there besides the bullet, so I’m gonna do my part and keep my hand steady-”
“-and you are going to grip the side of the table and try not to scream. Or move.”
“Here goes nothing.”
I stare at the ceiling, tears stinging my eyes though it hasn’t even touched me. Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe. The soft clink of the bullet attracting to the electric end of the tweezers fills the silence in my still-ruined workshop, when all of a sudden, a cough tickles the back of my throat. No, no, no, bad timing! I hold my breath harder, shutting my eyes tight.
“Almost there,” he whispers, tapping me on the hand quickly to signal that it’ll only be a second.
A second is too long… Slamming my hand against the side of the table to hurry him, he drops the bullet in a metal tray that almost floats in blood next to him and I let out a cough that sounds and feels more like a wheeze. The liquid I lay in is a crimson red with light streaks and swirls of blue, and I try to ignore the fact that somehow I’m not just bleeding from the Hue part of me — something in my other half is punctured.
“K, I’m just gonna sew you up. It’ll be over before you know it.”
“Just get the thing done,” I whisper, my voice a raspy wreck.
He picks up a pre-threaded needle. “On three, tighten.”
I push my head back, digging it into the wood and biting down on the inside of my cheek. Brace, brace, brace. Heads down, stay down.
“One. Two. Three.”
The needle pierces my skin, and though I should scream as it penetrates through the sore parts or at least wince, I feel nothing. I’m too used to pain by now, too used to lying on this table, face down or face up, wondering how I get myself into these things while Detroit pulls emergency kits or toolboxes out and fixes me, good as new. You’d never know he didn’t go to med school.
“Done,” he says, tying off the string and carrying the plates and trays to the sink across the room.
I try to sit up, but he rushes back over, pushing me down by my arms and wiping the sweat off my forehead with the back of his hand.
“You need to rest.”
I open my mouth in protest, but one look from Troy makes me shut it.
“You’ve proven real well that I can’t trust you to take care of yourself, so I will do it for you.”
“Don’t. Don’t even say a word. It’s been two days and you’ve almost ruined yourself. I-I support what you’re doing and I want you to live forever, but…”
“You. It’s for you, Detroit. We talked about this.”
“We did, and I never agreed to that or anything of the sort.”
“Well…” I think hard about what to say. “Who’ll fix me when I break myself if you’re not around?”
He chuckles sadly, tousling my hair and lifting me out of the puddle of blood. “Don’t try me, kitten.”
“Hmph.” He carries me to my bathroom, careful not to drip any blood on the carpet as he sets me in the tub.
“I’ll get the girls to clean you up, k?”
“Okay.” He’s about to walk out when I remember I wanted to ask him something. “Detroit.”
Spinning on his heels, he walks back to the tub and kneels next to me. “What?”
“I need to know where you stand.”
He furrows his eyebrows and sits on the floor, pulling his knees to his chest and resting his arms on top of them. “On…what?”
“This whole thing. Do you want me to go on?”
“With the Dasha ordeal? Yes. Hurting yourself? No.”
“But if it were to come…as a package, say.”
He sighs, tipping his head back. “I-I guess I could live with it. If I knew that you would be safe in the end.”
“You could live with it.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I guess so.”
“Okay. That’s all.”
He stares at me for a while longer, reaching into my lap and taking my hand in his. “You can do this, kitten. You’re stronger than her. You’re Cy. She’s Hue.”
“But she’s so…good, Troy. She shot me. That’s not supposed to happen.”
“Well, you just let your guard down.”
“You don’t get it,” I say, shrugging my shoulders in frustration. “My guard isn’t allowed to come down. I’m not programmed that way.”
“Sometimes…” He gives my hand a quick squeeze, standing and walking to the door, “things don’t work the way they’re programmed to.” Smiling softly, he steps out and shuts the door gently behind him.
I gaze at the spot by the tub where Detroit sat, collecting myself before the girls inevitably burst in, bringing their bubbly, chatty nature to the room and whisking the words Troy said to me away.
Maybe… Raising my hands to eye level, I study the blood-soaked tips of my fingers, the dripping joints of my ‘bones’.
“The metal you’re made out of came from a scrap,” the examiner had told me when I was five, learning about metals in school, and curious about what kind I was. “Scrap?” I asked, tears in my eyes. Detroit stood up, dragged me out of there, and never let me go back. “Everything comes from scrap,” he said when we got home, “and to scrap it will return. Even the most beautiful things.”
I turn the insides of my palms to face me, inspecting the light, carved-in lines that are supposed to resemble the imprints of Hues’ palms.
“Something so common, yet so beautiful,” I mutter, smiling to myself.
I’m so beautiful.