Cybernetic Care

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Ylva looks after Rhode when the latter takes a bad hit to her prosthetic arm.

Author's note: Nan, the person who plays Rhode, suggested this earlier:

current thoughts: Rhode getting comfortable enough with Ylva to trust her to both inspect and perform maintenance on her prosthetics.

Ylva, for context, is a mechanic and tech out in non-Union space, and she and Rhode have gotten quite close since their daughters met through an online video game.

Ylva approaches carefully, hands slightly raised and empty, showing the appropriate caution as she looks Rhode's arm over. "All right. I'm just going to take a look now. I'm not going to touch anything. But you tell me if it hurts, and I'll stop immediately."

"Right." Rhode's smile shows too many teeth to be strictly friendly - it's more like the wary grimace of a wounded animal tentatively allowing a person to approach because they don't seem a threat yet. Ylva knows this look well. She's dealt with many of them in her business. Usually wary for financial or pride reasons, not literally wounded like Rhode is now.

"Let's see. You were right not to remove it here - it looks like the nerve connectors are damaged and sparking. Could have done some real damage to you if they arced during the disconnect, and I'm sure it would be hard to do something with this precision while in this much pain." Ylva's words are all business, but her voice is soft and affectionate, reinforcing I'm not a threat, I'm just here to help. "What's your range of motion?"

Rhode demonstrates, swiveling her shoulder and wincing at one point. "Hurts when I do this."

"Okay. And your hand?"

"Can't move some of my fingers." Rhode makes a fist, and only three of her fingers curl - and even those to varying degrees. "Feels too tight."

"Okay," Ylva murmurs. She retrieves a maglift screwdriver from her toolkit. "I'm going to open it up and take a look at the inside. Is that okay?"

"It's what I asked you to do," Rhode says through clenched teeth, smarting from the demonstration. "So, yes."

Ylva nods, letting Rhode's pained frustration wash over her. Every spark is probably sending jolts up her arm like she's hitting her elbow. She's probably not in the most jovial mood right now. The maglift driver whines as it disengages internal screws using specially magnetized bits in the head, and Rhode's arm pops open. "How's it feeling open?"

"Fine." Rhode's arm is in pain this way, Ylva can tell. But she's too proud to admit it.

Right. Focus on fixing the pain first. She puts on her magnifiers, grabbing a set of nanogyro-stabilized tweezers. "Okay. I'm going to disconnect the nerve connectors individually. Tell me if it hurts."

But as Ylva's skilled hands carefully remove tiny wires and clamps, Rhode's perpetual grimace relaxes. "... Feels better."

Ylva smiles, continuing her work with unshakable focus. "Nerve connectors are disconnected. I'm going to get you a fresh set. Looks like your hydraulic converter is slag as well, and most of the fluid has leaked into the casing. I'll need to refill some fluids and get a new converter and some new tubing."

"I can take it from here," Rhode says, making to get off the workshop table.

"Yes, you could," Ylva says, planting a hand on Rhode's chest and pushing her back onto the workbench. "But I would like to take care of you, if that's okay. You do enough for others. Let me do this for you."

This quiets Rhode, and she settles back in.

Ylva pulls a box of nerve connectors from a drawer, and begins painstakingly reattaching them, careful in her work to avoid unnecessary sparks and arcs. She can feel Rhode's gaze on her, but doesn't look up.

"Sorry," Rhode says finally. "I was-"

"Hurting. I know," Ylva murmurs, not looking up from her work. "That's why it's important that I do this for you." She finishes applying the nerve connectors, lifting her head and smiling. "Hold still. I don't want to soak up anything important." She takes a small sponge and delicately dabs it across the spilt hydraulic fluid, using her tweezers to then remove the tubing that had failed to hold it. "New converter... some fresh fluid..."

Rhode relaxes. "I knew I could count on you. As good as if I'd done it myself."

"Always here for you, Rhode. Wearing a smile... and sometimes little else."

This gets a laugh out of the patient. It's gonna be okay.