I think Aurie is much more tired, and possibly traumatized physically and mentally, than she’s letting on. She doesn’t want Jimmy to cluck over her or the doc to try to restrain her (now that would be a disaster…) so she’d not telling the whole truth. I bet the conversation with her army’s chief medical officer will be quite revealing. We shall see.
After being gently reprimanded by Colour, Burns finally starts pushing back to this crazy girl’s suggestions. Recall he met her just shy of a day ago? It’s been a long 24 hours.
Not wanting to wave the battlerifle around again, he left it and opened his front door.
To see Colour in the kitchen and to smell meat frying.
“Hi, Jimmy,” she smiled over her shoulder. “Aurelia dosed off again, or maybe she was with her family, I don’t know, so I walked here to make myself useful. I hope you don’t mind.”
“I’m not useful at all, am I?” he asked.
“You stupid kids,” he heard her mutter, turning the pork chops over and adding pepper. She raised her voice.
“You are one of the brighter stars in my friend’s sky right now. What happened at the spaceport? Had it just been she and I, I bet we would have run.” Colour flicked the gas off. “To protect two? The other men? The base itself? She did what she was trained to do.”
From the back burner, she moved a pot and scraped some instant mashed potatoes into a bowl.
“I can eat here, that’s fine,” she said. “I don’t know where any of your dish covers and storage containers are…”
“Here, I’ll get them,” he said, pushing past her and kneeling to pull some plastic out. He paused. “She’s told me so many lies. I think that she likes me is just another.”
“I disagree,” Colour said, placing her hand on his thick dark hair. “Her cover story was because of who and what she is. She liked you before you met.”
And what does that mean?
“No,” she went on, “it’s her family. She’s a princess. General of an army – ”
“What did you just say!” he demanded, jerking back up.
“It’s why she’s in these parts,” Jansen continued. “She lead four legions to the border of my country to ask if we would throw in with the imperium. So far, the final answer is unclear.”
“About twenty-five thousand men,” Colour said, taking the plastic and putting some meat and potatoes into it. She drew some forks and knives from a drawer and put all that into a canvas bag. “And, Jimmy? I’ve seen them. They are the best army in North America. They could swat my nation like a fly but they asked, politely. Canada? God, I hope your politicians aren’t stupid.”
I need to call my uncle.
“Here,” she held the bag up. “Take her dinner. Oh! Before you interrupted, I was saying about her family. She told me the Empress demands she be married this year. I just don’t know about a non-noble, foreign national like you.”
She moved her plate to the little table and sat down.
“You’re a clever lad, Jimmy. Help her out, okay?”
He opened the front door and stopped.
“Thank you, Colour.”
A nurse had just hung a new cefepime bag as he was walking in. Aurie – Aurelia – was asking to have someone from accounting or billing see her before the end of their day. Jimmy glanced at his watch. 1630. It was a pleasant morning drive with a cute girl just minutes ago. What happened?
“I did, Jimmy!” she cried, right arm up. “Set my rifle in the corner. Oh! Don’t move!”
Concerned something was wrong, he froze.
“I see. I cannot know the details, but you broke the law to get it for me. Are you trying to make me fall for you, Jimmy?” she demanded.
“I,” he began, leaning it carefully, “lied to a cop. Twice. Stole evidence. Quite possibly committed treason, knowing who you are.”
“That’s sweet! What did you bring me? I’m hungry.”
He stomped over the rolling table and started setting the food out.
“I’m teasing you, Jimmy,” she clarified, batting her eyes a little.
“Just to be clear: I’ll eat with you and even spend the night here.” He took a breath. “No sex. Things are already too complicated.”
“Wise. Wish I’d thought of that,” she acknowledged. “I act before I think when it comes to personal matters.”
She sniffed at the pork.
“Colour made these! I love my friend so much.” She slapped her palms together. “Thanks for the food!”
“Will you come back?” he asked, settling back into the chair under the window with a rapidly darkening sky.
“Only God can stop me. Not even the Empress.”
He paused. Better answer than I expected.
“No clue,” she said before taking another bite.
There was yet another tap at the door. An older woman in business casual, not scrubs, was there.
“I’m Sylvia, from Billing. You wanted to see me?” she said.
“Mmm,” Aurelia nodded, still chewing. She swallowed. “Jimmy? I need some water, please. I’m leaving first thing in the morning and will need my bill ready…”
He didn’t hear the rest as he went to the end of the hall where he had seen some cups and a sink. The cups looked and smelled clean, so he filled two and returned.
“…paying in silver coins, from the imperium. The exchange rate to Canadian Dollars is,” he saw her eyes twinkle a little, “eighty point six seven four per ounce. And I’ll take the change in your currency. No worries.”
This Sylvia seemed a bit flustered as she took notes. Aurie touched his hand to thank him as he set the water down.
“I’m sure I can have everything ready by ten, or thereabouts…” she began.
“I’m leaving at oh eight hundred,” the princess announced. “If you are not ready, I’ll leave an address for you to bill me.”
She paused the last piece of pork before her mouth.
“Yes, Miss Hardt, I understand,” the older woman said, beating a quick retreat.
“You really do have a pushy side,” Jimmy noted. “From being a general?”
“Colour let that out, did she?” Aurelia asked with a little tilt of her head before eating the last of the mashed potatoes. “Carbs. Yuck. But I need what I can get right now. You got any more protein on you, hot guy?”
“Stop looking at my crotch.”
“A girl can dream,” she sighed.
He watched her shake a little.
“Horny?” he smiled.
“Yes, but that was from the last of the drugs and programming leaving my systems,” she clarified. “I’ll be asleep in about thirty seconds. Can you kiss me until I am?”
He was up and around her bed in an instant. Their lips touched and she held him with her right hand.
Until it dropped. Just like in my truck. She doesn’t fall asleep, she turns off. This is so weird. Impossible to lie down next to her, Jimmy returned to his chair and tried to find the least uncomfortable position. I can barely remember what my life was like two days ago.