As written by Kite Winters and Ryan Fraedrich…
Kite had gone running off as soon as the Commander, Dan, wasn’t it? As soon as he had dismissed her from reporting in on arrival, she went running off to the hospital wing. Dan had told her the names of those she’d be fighting alongside. She stopped in the doorway with a brief sigh of relief; it would’ve felt really stupid if she’d been wrong. “I figured there couldn’t be many Ryan Fraedrichs in the world, but you look like you’ve seen a Ghost.”
Ryan looked up, surprised at first, but then smiling with all the warmth of seeing one wholly good thing in the world after months of meat-grinding war. He laughed with joy and relief, feeling for a moment like Atlas, only with someone else having lifted the world off his shoulders. The moment of levity was brief as he felt sharp pains of skin not ready to be tugged, so all he said was, “Heh, ow. Why does my everything hurt?” though still managing to say it with a smile.
Kite stepped to Ryan’s bedside with a grin, “I’d hug you, but the nurses already threatened to sedate me and throw me into the brig if I didn’t stop running. I doubt they’d look well on me tackling someone in here, even for a hug.”
Ryan shifted in his hospital bed to get his left arm more mobile without splitting the skin open, beckoning Kite closer to hold her hand when it won’t risk injury. For awhile he doesn’t say anything, just appreciating that she’s solid, and this is real.
For awhile Kite is silent, just watching her friend’s face, fear in her eyes seeing the extent of his injuries, but determination is well. In this moment, just basking in that, while it’s far from how they planned to one day meet in the flesh, it’s good to have been able to finally do it. With the world gone to hell, they’re both still alive, there’s still space for moments like this. Eventually though, she broke the silence. “So, Deng’s kinda got condemned after the attack on Melbourne, but I’m sure we can arrange something delicious to celebrate with anyway.”
Ryan gives a wry smile and said with the best dry humor he can muster, “We have the finest hospital food you can imagine. Pork chops that can deflect bullets, bread harder than Locust armor, and apple sauce that could degrease a diesel engine.” After a pregnant pause he continues, “I’m just happy to see you.” He squeezes Kite’s hand again and looks apologetic. “I’m sorry I haven’t been in contact. The facility has been under a comms blackout. Personal messages almost never get approved.”
Kite just laughed, “It’s alright. I’ve missed you, but it’s alright. I wasn’t exactly reachable myself. As soon as you’re up and about, I’ll want your help, though. This is all new to me, and I want to get up to speed as soon as I can.”
Ryan lets go of Kite’s hand and raised it up as far as he can, implicitly asking Kite to lean forward. She squirms and smiles as he pets the top of her head and says, “I’ll do whatever I can to keep you safe, kitten. You’ll be ready to fight in no time. I promise.”
“I’m gonna be watching your back too, you know.” Kite smirks in reply, though pushing her head into Ryan’s hand. “Do they know when you’re going to be getting out of here?”
“It will be another week before I’m back to taking head shots.” He looked over the burn scars covering most of his upper body. “Fortunately the doctors can fix up my skin like mostly new. Otherwise, I’d be adding Leatherface to my list of nicknames. How are you and your husband taking the move?”
“Badly. Neither of us travel well, but at the same time, neither of us were happy living in a hotel turned refugee shelter, but we’re going to be better off here where we can do something about it. We’ll settle in fast enough.” She grins, shaking her head a little “He brought several unfinished kits with him.”
“That’s the closest we’ll get to giant, stompy robots on our side of the war. Drones, flying saucer interceptors, but no giant mechs with flaming swords we can pilot to save the day.” He gives a wry grin. “Though if I had my druthers I’d pilot Doom Moose the Belligerent.”
“I’ll settle for phosphorus in a grenade launcher under my shotgun, and sword decals on the side. Giant robots are a pain to house, especially underground.”
“That’s why Doom Moose wold be powered by Imagination. The most potent jet fuel there is. He’ll take to the skies and pierce the heavens.” He squeezes Kite’s hand again. “Give it a few days and this base will start to feel like a home.”
Kite squeezes back and nods, not at all surprised that Ryan can read her like a book — even better than she was used to, now that they were talking in the flesh. “I’m sure it will.”