The edge to Doctor Spiner’s voice chipped away at Zahir’s resolve as he came to a stop just near the airlock doors to Sophie’s apartment at Raven Ridge. Mustering his courage, he turned the suit around to face the specialist. “Doctor, I was going to come and see you afterwards.” He spoke, the suit modulating his voice to help hide his identity.
“She could have died.” Bradley Spiner’s brown eyes bored into the hero’s visior, even if he had to strain his neck to look up at Teknight’s head. He looked in his mid-thirties, with soft brown hair gathered at the back in a ponytail and an athletic build.
“I know. If we were aware then of what we were now, I would have taken more support with me.” Zahir replied, doing his best to keep his tone level.
“That’s a little too late. In any case, if you’re here to offer her more work you can forget it.” Brad snapped. “Until she turns eighteen, Sophie is under our protective care. It’s dangerous enough for her as is without going into situations like that.”
Taking a deep breath from the cleaned and cool air that the suit’s systems re-circulate, Zahir drew himself up. “I am here to apologize to her, and to see how she is doing.”
“Come see me afterwards, Teknight. We’ve been having some issues with the monitoring equipment.” The Doctor said, walking away with hands in his lab coat pockets.
“You can come in.” Sophie called from inside the room, not quite as excited as the first time Teknight came to visit her.
Stepping through into the hospital room, his eyes were drawn to the assorted items littering her bedside table. She was sat up in bed, her hair rather messy even when tied back. Sophie managed a wan smile at him, her eyes glowing softly.
“Presents from the staff here?” Teknight inquired with a gesture of one large white and black metallic gauntlet.
“Oh, they’re… um, Santa.” The girl lied, eyes looking ever so briefly to the monitoring equipment. Minute little reactions like that were easily captured by the vision analysis software in the helmet.
“I… see. Well, I was going to bring you something, until I could not work out what to get.” The hero shrugged, crouching down by the bed to avoid causing any more neck aches to anyone at the facility. “I’m sorry, Sophie.”
“Don’t be.” Sophie smiled weakly. “I mean, I got to go out for a day and…” Her eyes were starting to brim as her voice trailed off into pained sobs, a hand clasping against her bandages.
Zahir’s armour-clad hand hovered helplessly, halfway between trying to pat her shoulder and backing off to give her space. Glancing about, he quickly grabbed several wads of tissue paper to wrap around a metallic finger. Reaching out, he carefully wiped the tears from Sophie’s grey cheeks. “You did well in that situation, given your circumstances and experiences. I’m proud to have worked with you that day.”
Sniffing loudly, Sophie plucked the tissue from the finger to finish drying her eyes. “Can you stay for a while?” She asked in a small voice, radiant blue eyes locking onto the pale blue of Zahir’s visor. Gesturing up with the patient-controlled pain relief device in her other hand, she explained “It makes me tired, but it takes a bit.”
Zahir took a moment to peer at the radiation tolerance levels of the Teknight suit. She was putting out less than she had been on his first visit. “I can stay.” Glancing about, he picked up one of the albums from the table near him. “Do you think I would like ‘Her Darkest Shadows’?”
Turning a little to better face the hero, Sophie caught her breath before pursing her lips. “That depends. Do you like symph-metal?”
Teknight laughed. “I have no idea what that is, but I’m willing to learn.”
Reaching for her bottle of fruit juice, a quick sip was all she needed to start lecturing the scientist on musical sub-genres and trends, the pain of her wounds soon pushed to the back of her mind.
“You were in there for almost five hours.” Doctor Spiner stated, a cup of coffee in his hand. He was separated from the hero by the wall of the decontamination unit.
“Time flies. She is putting out less power currently, so the suit was able to handle the radiation.” Teknight shrugged, an array of nozzles squirting a mixture of liquids over the armour.
“Even so, you may wish to limit your exposure for a while, just in case.” Brad counseled. When the decontamination procedure had finished, he waved Teknight through.
“Let’s take a look at the monitoring equipment.” Zahir spoke, ignoring the rumbling sound from his stomach. Breakfast had been skipped on account of his nerves, and lunch had long since been and gone. “I’ve something to discuss with you while we do.”