Perfect 13-I

FLINT

Perfectly Perfect.

The door opened before Talie could knock, leaving her hand hanging in the air. It swung open for a few inches before clanking against a chain, and a bespectacled eye appeared in the gap. It widened almost as soon as it saw us. “Natalie?” a muffled voice asked.

“Hi, Daniel,” she said. “How are you doing?”

“Um, good, I guess?” He glanced down at me, and I waved a little with my free hand. “Uh… how are you?”

“You know, Daniel, I’m doing pretty well. She sounded far too casual for someone supporting the entire weight of an adult male. “My friend here, though, isn’t doing so great.” He glanced down at me again.

“Hi,” I said.

“…hi,” he replied warily. “Do you… want to come in?”

Talie glanced left and right, down the corridors of the college dorm corridor we were standing in. “I think that’d be good.”
“Right.” The eye disappeared, and there was the sound of jingling chains. The door swung open fully, revealing a room that looked pretty much exactly what I’d imagined a college dorm looking like. The blinds were drawn, only letting in a small amount of the afternoon light in little slits that cast unevenly throughout the room. There was a bed/desk combination on either side of the room, and cabinets beyond them. On the right, they were further back, leaving a gap that was filled by a half-open doorway into a bathroom. One side of the room was slightly tidier than the other, but both bore the trademark mess and scatter that signified a busy life and an unwillingness to spend any extra energy keeping tidy. I should know, it’s pretty much exactly what my room looks like. The desk lamp on the left hand side was on, and the right side was empty, so it was a safe bet that his roommate was out.

Daniel stepped out from behind the door, gesturing for us to move into the room. He was pale and portly, round face and round thin-framed glasses. His hair, wispy and sandy brown, was already receding up his forehead, and I reckoned he’d be bald within a decade. With that, the glasses and the pocket protector he had, he looked more like a middle-aged engineer than a college student.

We moved in through the doorway, my arm slung over Talie's shoulder as she took most of my weight. My feet were theoretically touching the ground, but they may as well not have been: we’d figured out pretty quickly that walking put too much strain on my ribs. She’d been basically carrying me for more than a few blocks, and yet she showed no sign of tiring, or even getting slightly out of breath. And it’s not like she’s a giant uber-athlete or anything: she’s barely taller than me, and she’s fit, but not muscled.

Daniel closed the door behind us, doing up multiple locks. “Put him down in the bathroom,” he directed, and she did so, lowering me down gently onto the tiles.

“Whoo,” she exhaled, stretching up and arching her back. “Damn, Flint, you need to diet.”

“I am in peak physical condition,” I muttered. “Your jibes cannot reach me.”

Daniel entered the room, pushing his glasses up onto his forehead. “Right,” he said a little awkwardly. “So what happened to him?”

“Third-degree concussion, 15 fractured bones, mostly ribs, and mild internal bleeding,” Talie rattled off almost immediately. He looked at her in surprise. “One of the heroes scanned him, and I have a good memory.”

“…okay, then.” He knelt down near me. “How’d you get him here?”

“Flew most of the way, walked the last few blocks.” As soon as she’d confirmed the heroes were gone, she’d taken me from Ribbon and told the rest of them to go home. Then she’d lifted off in a roaring gale, and flown halfway across town to the university campus. Stopping on the edge of the campus, she’d ducked into an alleyway and come out in civvies that I know she hadn’t been carrying. I couldn’t really remove my costume in my current condition, so I’d managed to slip into a coat that covered the most conspicuous parts of my costume. Hopefully, it wasn’t too weird to wear white pants with grey boots. And armor plates.  We were just lucky most people were at lectures.

“How long has it been since he got the concussion?” he asked Talie.

“Hey,” I said irritably, clicking my fingers without moving my hand off the floor. “I’m right here.”

“You have a third-degree concussion.”

“Well, I’m feeling better now.”

He looked desperately at Talie, and she laughed. “Daniel, this is Flint. He’s… unique. Flint, this is Daniel. He’s a medical student, and he helps me out sometimes.”

“Charmed,” I said dryly.

“…likewise. Are you sure he had a concussion?” he asked her.

“Trust me, if you’d seen him half an hour ago, you wouldn’t have to ask.”

“I’m not as confused as before,” I interjected, “but I still can’t really… concentrate on anything. Plus, it feels like a rock concert being played inside my skull.”

“Still, you’re remarkably cogent. Do you have any powers that grant you increased resistance to harm?”

I glanced up at Talie questioningly, and she nodded. Apparently, she trusted this guy. “Not as far as I’m aware, no.”

“Anything that could’ve reduced the impact?”

“Apart from thick skin? Nope.”

He seemed to brighten up. “Oh? Thick skin? How does that work?”

“Not like that, Daniel,” Talie laughed. “He means metaphorically.”

“Oh. Right. I knew that.”

I snorted, the movement causing a brief spike of pain. “Where’d you find this one, Talie?”

“He volunteers at a hospital. I ended up there in a bit of a bad spot, and Daniel helped me out. I repaid the favor, and now we have a working relationship.”

“Oh!” He smacked his forehead. “I completely forgot. Is she-”
“Yeah, she’s fine. I checked in on her a few weeks ago.”

“A few weeks, huh?” I narrowed my eyes. “Is that where you disappeared to?”

“No, Flint, this was something else.” We’d had conversations like this before, and she was obviously pretty over it. Well, too bad. I was going to keep hammering on this until something cracked.

“Disappeared,” Daniel asked, obviously confused.

“Don’t worry about it. I think we’re getting off topic anyway.”

“Oh! Right, yes.” He turned back to me, and I ground my teeth. “Do you know anything else about the injuries?”

“I know that they bloody hurt,” I snapped.

“Where?”

“Ribs, left forearm, left shoulder. Ribs when I breath, the others just generally.”

“Mm-hmm. And because you’re not already dead, I’m assuming the internal bleeding isn’t too bad. What happened to you?”

“Got thrown through a wall.”

His eyes widened. “Thrown?”

“Oh, good point. Blown through a wall.”

“How?!”

“Do you really want to know?”

“You don’t,” Talie interjected. “Trust me. Can you fix him?”

“Wait.” My head snapped towards her. “Fix me? He’s a fucking healer?!” Remember what I said about teleporters being rare? Take that, and multiply it by ten and square it, and you have the sheer uncommonness of healers. “Jesus H. flipping Christ, what the hell are you doing at college?! You could be rich!”

He shrugged. “I don’t really want to be, honestly. I just want to help people, so I’m volunteering at hospitals, and trying to get my medical license. Helping people like you is just a side thing I do for Natalie.” Yep, that’s Talie for you. I’ve never met anyone who knew her and didn’t feel like they owed her in some way. It’s not sinister, she just has a habit of fixing people’s problems. “And in answer to your question, Natalie, yes, I should be able to.” He turned towards me, and rested a hand on mine. “But fair warning: this is probably going to hurt a lot.”

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