The Imponderable Factor
Seiko started quietly packing up her medical tools after making sure the condition of the murderer on the cot was stable enough. She had made sure that the little cabin room was warm enough and that she had all she needed for emergencies around her.
The final scalpel in the bag, she closed the medical case. Snap! The sound of the clip securing it shut made her flinch, louder than she had expected it in the quiet stillness of the room. She huffed, as if chastising herself for that, and arched her back, settling a little more comfortably. Soon they’d come for her, and she’d leave, and let him wake up on his own, wondering perhaps, who had thought to be kind to him.
“I knew you for weak, not stupid.”
She jumped again in her seat and glanced at the cot. He was awake. She frowned.
“We all make false judgments; I don’t think it’s too clever of you to tell me saving you was a mistake when you’re still defenseless.”
“I can take you even in my state,” Fudo smirked weakly, his eyes gleaming with fever.
“No, you can’t. Your blood pressure is such that if you try anything, you’ll pass out from hypoxia. It’s mild and normally harmless, but not the best thing to be when you’re also weathering a gunshot wound.” Somehow, in the isolation of the cabin, Seiko felt isolated from her own timidity as well.
Fudo chuckled a little painfully.
“Ah… then the harmless thing can become deadly,” he commented. Seiko arched an interested eyebrow.
“That’s right. You’re not completely naïve to medicine.”
“We’re not so different; I just seek to kill efficiently, you seek to heal efficiently. But …our common ground still is the human body.”
Seiko’s lip curled.
“You’re babbling, it’s one of the hypoxia’s symptoms.”
“You know it isn’t babbling,” Fudo grinned up into the ceiling. “I’m feeling far too chipper and happy for babbling.”
“Still the hypoxia. Being high is one of its symptoms,” she shot down his words rather coldly.
Fudo didn’t seem to mind. He turned his head slowly towards her.
“Seriously… it was a mistake keeping me alive.”
“Feel free to kill yourself, when I leave.” She impressed herself with her lack of effort to argue otherwise. Fudo smiled thinly.
“You know I won’t do that.”
“Then save your breath- literally, breathe deeper to oxygenate your blood a little more.” She shrugged, pulling her knees to herself and hugging them.
For some time, there was no reply from Fudo, and she didn’t venture to break the silence. She knew he wasn’t dozing- his eyes were staring thoughtfully, intently, at the ceiling as he breathed a little more carefully, following her advice. She wished he was; then the silence wouldn’t make her so uncomfortable. Part of herself was urging her to flee, to leave, to simply let Fudo be now that he was awake and let him take his chances by himself. Another part of herself bolted her to the chair, as if it would be some sort of loss, of defeat, if she were to leave there and then. She didn’t know what she was competing against, nor what she was seeking to prove, but she WAS seeking to prove something. She could feel it in her bones, in her heart- everywhere except her brain, where she’d be able to put words to it and understand it.
“If you’re not stupid or weak… then what are you?” Fudo’s voice was thoughtful, the question uttered softly, as if he was asking himself.
“I’m the constant that nobody takes into account- and I guess that also makes me the imponderable factor.” She watched herself reply as if she was a mere spectator in her own body.
Fudo smiled, his eyes drooping heavily.
“If that’s true… then you’re the greatest player in all of this. Are you?”
“I could be… if I choose to.”
“Then do… for it would be a bad game if you let Raidon win it.” He sighed.
Seiko smiled to herself as she leaned over to check that he was only falling asleep and nothing more. By the time she was done, he was breathing softly and quickly, as most hypoxics do, deeply in slumber.
“It would be,” she muttered, then, at the sound of people approaching the cabin, she stood up- still quiet, still unassuming, yet oddly liberated.
It would be, but it won’t.