It wasn’t until they were safely through the jumpgate that Morgan felt clear to go back to check on Kordieh. He was lying on the bunk exactly as she had left him. His eyes were closed but she could see his lips moving slightly, as if he was talking to himself. She watched him a few moments, then very quietly spoke his name, to not startle him. “Dunstan.”
He opened his eyes and turned his head toward her. “Margaret. Cherie.”
“How are you feeling?” She came to sit on the edge of the bunk again. She had brought the medical kit with her, but set it on the floor for now.
“Been better … but also a lot worse.”
She scowled at him, but was clearly using it to mask other emotions.
“I’m afraid to move,” he said after a minute. “Let alone look at myself.”
“Well, I came to clean you up. And deal with whatever else I can.” She took his uninjured hand, gave it a bit of a squeeze.
“Merci.” He tried to smile. “I knew you would come for me.”
“I am sorry it wasn’t quicker.”
“It’s all right. My fault for getting caught out.”
Morgan shook her head, her scowl deepening.
“What is it?” he asked, his voice suddenly showing fear as well as pain. He recognized that her scowl was often a mask for some other emotion, but it was hard to be certain.
“Nothing. You did nothing wrong,” she added. “I was too slow checking on you.”
He said the only thing he could think of. “I forgive you, cherie.”
Her stomach just twisted at that. With one hand, she leaned down to open the kit, get out the supplies to start cleaning him up.
“Two broken ribs, scalp laceration … then the hand … what does it look like?” he asked.
“A mess.” She tried to smile for him. “But fixable. I got worse on shore leave a few times,” she added, trying to lighten a bit.
He smiled, a little wobbly. “When you came in, I was reciting trivia to focus. I’d just gotten to Zidane. It fits.”
“Zidane?” She freed her hand for a second to put antiseptic on a pad, then returned to holding his good hand while she set about cleaning his face.
“Ever follow football? The World Cup?”
“Ah. A little, if we could get a feed.”
“2006, in Germany. Most outstanding player was Zinedine Zidane — until he headbutted another player in the final. Knocked him flat.”
“Ow.” The dried blood cleaned up fairly quickly — she could see now it had all come from a single ragged gash just above his hairline. He squeezed her hand as she started applying the antiseptic. Morgan returned it. “It isn’t bad,” she said quietly, though her brow was furrowed.
“Couldn’t quite duck the bucket,” he said, trying to be casual. She didn’t answer, but her jaw tightened. “The broken ribs … tribute to their insistence I was Centauri.”
“That… I wouldn’t have thought we were so easily confused.”
“What they wanted to think. Any excuse … ” he paused for breath, then added wryly, “Two broken ribs … still better than the alternative.”
She had to pause a moment, to rub at her eyes, furious at herself.
He lifted up his good hand to touch her cheek. “Cherie … it’s not your fault.”
“I can’t lose you,” she responded, fiercely.
“You won’t. I promise you that.”
“I thought I had. And.. .and I could have torn the ones responsible apart with my bare hands.”
He blinked, hard, several times. “I … no one’s ever thought that way about me.”
She wasn’t expecting that reaction. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. She still had to keep it together, somehow. He waited, stroking her cheek once or twice with his fingertips. That didn’t help much either, but she finally managed it, for the moment. “I did not expect it. I could not control it either.”
“But you did.”
“Only just. And then I had to get you to safety.” She opened her eyes then to look at him – a fierce look, though just a little watery.
He smiled. “And you did.”
“Still.” But the corner of her mouth twitched up.
“Merci. For letting me walk out of there. Not quite mora’dum … but …”
“It was important to you. And I needed both hands, as it happened.”
Several moments passed in silence. “I … forgive me, cherie … I am so tired now … I think only the pain keeps me awake.”
Morgan stirred. “Let me finish, and you’ll feel a bit better. I can wrap your ribs up too, so you can move easier.”
He nodded. “Will you need help … with the ship, or our passengers?”
She hesitated. “I would like it, but you should rest.”
“Oui. But as soon as I can walk without falling over … ”
“You can at least keep me company in the co-pilot’s seat,” she finished for him.
He nodded again. “Done.”
Morgan returned to cleaning the gash on his head. “I do not think this will need a bandage, unless it reopens.”
“Now, I am sorry, but I will need you sitting.” He nodded, clamped his jaw shut, and used his good hand to lever himself up. With an arm around his shoulders, she assisted, then started to work on this too.
“And you said … you’ve had worse on shore leave?” he asked when she was done wrapping.
“Ie, a few times. Now, I am just afraid it will happen if I move wrong, though it has not.”
He squeezed his eyes shut, thinking, then said, “Has the Minbari treatment — the plant you got on Rolui — has that helped?”
“Perhaps a little. And I am careful now.” She gestured – she had replaced brace she had used for him.
“Which brings us to … this.” He looked toward his left hand.
“Ie.” She looked as if she was going to be very ill, thinking about it. “I set it as best I could, and I have had some practice.”
“There are compound breaks, aren’t there?” he asked soberly. “Aside from disinfecting the wounds there may not be any more we can do until we can reach a healer. I haven’t had that much training yet.”
“I think so. I … could not look very closely,” she admitted quietly.
“Don’t blame you,” he said. “I still can’t.” He looked down toward the medical kit. “What have we in the way of painkillers?”
Morgan opened the kit to see. “Amironil, Itenibar, Ninal.”
He thought for a moment. “Ninal. If memory serves, that’s middle of the road. Save the strongest in case we really need them.” She nodded, pulled that out, then got up to get him a drink. “Two stops before we make Babylon 5, isn’t it?” he asked.
“Ie. I hope we can stay long enough for them to help you,” she said quietly.
“So do I,” he said.
She returned with a bottle of water for him, opening it helpfully. She knew she needed to get back to everything else, but she sat beside him again for just a bit longer. After swallowing two of the large red pills and most of the water, Kordieh settled back on the bunk again. “I think I will sleep for a little while. Sorry to leave all the work to you.”
“You will, ah, pay me back, I am sure,” she said lightly, though frowning again.
“Something the matter?”
“I only worry, that is all.” She tried to smile for him.
“I’ll be fine … don’t worry … louve …” he said, the last word little more than a long exhalation as he fell asleep.
Morgan frowned a little, not understanding right off. She rubbed his good arm a moment, before getting up, adjusting a blanket over him, then taking herself out. She checked on everyone else, making sure they were all right, before heading back to the tiny bridge. She was still turning the word over in her mind. Once she sat down, she had to access the computer, to try to find a meaning for it.
She finally found it in a French-English dictionary: “Female wolf; she-wolf.” Startled, she sat back, turning it over in her mind. She rubbed at her eyes absently, warmed by the sentiment.