Part II: Infection
Through dinner that night, there was a kind of silent energy between Yougen and I, a mix of excitement and anxiety. A fight had broken out upstairs and it had sort of threw us off our moment, we hadn’t had the time to talk about what had happened.
I went to bed with a thousand thoughts burning through my mind that I wanted to desperately tell Yougen but with everyone around, having a moment of privacy could be hard…
On the next morning not long after breakfast all the returning parents came back and then left with their kids, going to a teacher-parent meeting in the administration building, I opted to go out and take a run through the school grounds as I would often to in the mornings before class.
When I came back, I jumped in the shower to wash out. Thanks to my black blood strain, I didn’t really sweat but grime still got on me. As I came out of the bathroom I saw Yougen was busy at the stove, a few things going on at the same time. I looked around and nobody else was in the house.
“You know the cafeteria’s open today thanks to the parents, right?”
“I know, but I thought I’d try my hands at making something.” She said with a smile. “I did a little when I was down in New York, but the people housing me were nowhere near as well equipped or stocked as here.”
“Who were they?”
“A really nice older black couple Macy and Jean, they were a foster home for parahuman children. There was two other kids with me, younger; Marie-Lou and Brian, they were twins and total brats.” She said with a chuckle. “What about you, where did you stay before you came here?”
“Legion headquarters, Erna, eh Indigo, set me up. She’s the one who got me into here.”
“Eh, lucky you. I had to apply.” She said with a grin.
“How’s the application process?”
“Weird, like it doesn’t really ask about experience or anything. Instead they want an introduction letter and for you to write an essay on a superhero related topic.”
I took a moment to think about it. If I had to guess they cared more about character than aptitude, you could teach the latter, the former not so much.
“Since we have the whole house for ourselves and it’s still a nice and sunny day, want to have a little picnic outback?” Yougen proposed.
“That would be nice.”
“Can you get a big blanket and a grill from the storage closet? I remember seeing one when doing laundry.”
I went and gathered what she needed along with a bag of charcoal. I went out and set it outside in the garden, keeping the grill down to a low level. When I came back into the house, Yougen was putting some sealed containers into a big lunch bag. She gave it to me to carry and she went out back. I helped her out of her chair and onto the ground, leaning against the tree I’d set the blanket against.
We then took out the food out of its bag. It wasn’t much; a fresh miche of bread cooked in the morning by Annabelle’s parents, cheeses, spreads and dips, a pesto pasta salad Yougen had just made, cookies, potato chips, cold cuts and also a pack of uncooked sausages for the grill. I helped her lit the grill and she started the first batch.
“This is nice.” She sighed, content. I sat next to her against the tree and she rested her head on my shoulder.
“It is.” I whispered. “Not thinking about survival, training, exams or any of that stuff. Just enjoying the day.”
I turned to look at her and our eyes met. She slightly leaned toward me and dropped a soft kiss on my lips.
“You know about last night…” She began. “We never got to talk about what that makes us.”
“We didn’t.” I looked away blushing, chewing on a piece of bread quietly for a moment.
“Are you having doubts, regrets?” Yougen asked, clearly alarmed at my silence.
“No!” I dropped my food down in the panic of answering her. “It’s just this is all kind of new and crazy; I actually like someone and she likes me back! I’d always kind of thought with everything that had happened to me it would never happen.”
Yougen chuckled at my answer. “You know, I had the same fears, that I’d never get to be with a boy or girl…” I reached out out she took my hand in hers and we sat there, quietly focusing on that contact. “Do you like boys or only girls?”
“I’m not even sure myself.” I sighed. “With the militia I never really had the opportunity to explore my feelings about it.”
She used her arms to drag herself closer to me and she wrapped her arms around my chest, dragging me into a hug.
“But I like you, I know that.” I whispered to her ear. “And I want you to be my girlfriend.”
“I would love to be.” She said with a grin. I repositioned myself to better kiss her, putting an arm on her thigh only for her to jerk a bit.
“I felt that!” She said, looking at her leg.
“You felt it?” I blinked.
“I’m not supposed to feel anything in my legs, but I left like a light jolt!” She exclaimed, excitement over the news, I wasn’t so thrilled. “Are you alright, Yikaru?”
“Maybe you should see the doctor? It can’t be normal for that to just happen. I want to be happy and all, but I’m seriously worried.”
“You’re right.” She sighed. “I guess we can finish lunch first?” She gave me a pleading look.
“That would be an acceptable risk.” I said with a grin. I put my hand on her cheek and drew her closer a real kiss this time.
After finishing our meal and cleaning up I escorted Yougen to the Doctor’s office. Doctor Szijkith was an oddity, even for this world, an alien doctor in love with humans. She was however clearly qualified.
When we came in and asked to see her for a consult she looked jubilant at the idea of having an excuse to chase away questioning parents here due to the open doors, well as jubilant as Venusians could look, they didn’t really show emotions well. Yougen explained what had happened and the doc happily ran some tests after which she had us wait a few minutes in her office.
“Found anything?” I asked once she came back into the office. Next to me Yougen looked a little stiff so I squeezed her hand tight.
“As is my job and was requested of the Legion, I studied your combined conditioned. Although many things are different, the one trait you both share are a filament growth coming out of the brain stem and wrapping itself across the spine.” She took out a folder of X-ray pictures from under her arm and showed it to us. “Here is the picture I took of Yougen when she first came a month ago and here is a random archive image for comparison.”
Although it was hard to tell what was happening, having never seen those kinds of pictures, the one with yougen had mass around the spine.
“And here is the one I took earlier.” She flipped it and the mass had grown just a smidge. “As you can see, the fibrous growth has begun breaching the gap between the severed vertebrae.”
“Is that good or bad?” I asked.
“This is something entirely new never encountered on this earth. I have no idea. How are your infection level Yougen?”
“42.7 for the last nine days.” She answered.
“So 1.3 higher than at the beginning of the month.” Doc Venus confirmed.
“Her infection is progressing?” I asked, alarmed at the news.
“It has, slightly.” The doctor confirmed. “But this could simply be from the increase in usage due to Ravenhold’s demands. From that data you both gave me, I believe it’s possible it will stay stable and with Yougen’s mass and age she’s still far from the danger zone.”
I wasn’t particularly relieved. Our place here was entirely reliant on using the blood’s powers, it wasn’t like we could hold out on doing that.
“I’ll still recommend avoiding extraneous usage of your abilities as much as humanly possible, but for now you’re discharged.”
“Thank you doctor.” Yougen said.
We went out and back toward the house.
“Guess I’m already scaring the crap out of you on our first day as girlfriends…” Yougen sighed after a moment of silence.
“You’re not the only infected here.” I reminded her. “And taking care of you is kind of part of what I signed up for as a girlfriend, didn’t I?”
“I guess you’re right. I’ll have to make up for it.”
“You don’t have to.” I said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s not start keeping scores? We just gotta do our best for each others.”
“Okay.” She nodded.