It was just another busy day on Rhodes Island. At least for the Doctor, to be honest. As the sunlight coming through the open curtains, shine upon the rumpled white sheets, woke up the person rolled inside. Gained back the consciousness, Doctor tilted her head over the small cabin next to her bed to see what time is it. 6:22 AM huh? Time to get up then. Starting the daily routines, she put on the dark lab jacket, took the roast bread from the stove before went out.
When on the way ahead to the office to meet up with Amiya and the others, Doctor seem to have something in mind. Suddenly, Doctor bumped into a small figure that runs toward her direction. A loud crash echoed through the empty halls.
“Ouch ouch, my head…” Groaning as she laying on the floor while the other person had already gotten up and hurry to collect the stuff, the Doctor noticed the eye-catching yellow braid recognize herself.
“Oh hello, Doctor! Good morning! Sorry that I knocked you off the floor, are you okay ?!” Quickly grabbed the Doctor’s arm to help her get up, Gummy apologized.
“Yes, hello Gummy, good day to you too ... I'm fine, just please don't run in the hall like that okay? You will get hurt running into people. ” Gently put up her hood, she gave the little girl a head pat.
“I got it, don't worry. Promise. ” Gummy made a pinky promise to her. Then the Doctor sat down on the floor next to her and offered a hand.
"Right ... Let me help you pick up your stuff."
"It is okay Doctor, you should go to your office, I can take care of this."
“Don’t bother, mind if I ask why are you in such a rush? Still early morning though, did you come up with a new recipe for the breakfast? ” During their small talk, Doctor could recognize what these bottle may are. This smell was way too strong.
"Because there are really a lot of wines."
"Nah it's not mine, Zima told me-"
“Ah right! The wines! Zima asked me to take it for her! Sorry Doc, chat later, gotta go !! ” Gummy suddenly remembered something, she hurriedly took back the bottle from Doctor’s hand and ran off. The Doctor couldn’t help but call out for her:
"Hey wait up! You haven’t told me what are you guy planning ??"
“Ehh? You really don't know? ”
“It's almost New Year, so we have to throw a big party of course!”
"A party huh .." The doctor muttered to herself, seeming negligent with everything around.
"Doctor, are you paying attention?" A call sudden appeared, interrupting Doctor's thoughts, drawing her attention.
"Ah, excuse me, sorry, can you repeat that ?" She found herself at the meeting with L.G.D about the upcoming exchange task.
"Pay attention when you listen to someone, it is important." Doberman gently reminded her from behind, made Doctor felt a bit guilty.
"Alright, I'll cover the subject again, please pay a little attention." Amiya said softly.
"Within the next 2 days, you will be at the Lungmen to help solve the supply issue directly related to maintaining Rhodes Island, which is why Doctor will leave with Dr Kal’tsit while me and the others take care of other things. "
"Is there any problems ?"
"Why don't you come with me instead?."
"Because Dr Kal'tsit has arranged the exchange before the meeting this morning, I can only announce this."
"I see ..." Showing a lack of vitality, the Doctor crouched down on his office chair, lying lazily on the table. Looking bored at the pile of documents on the side, Doctor said:
"In the next 2 days, I have to leave?"
"And how long does the trip take?"
"I don't know, it might only take 1 to 2 days, after that we will meet at Lungmen." Looking through the file in hand, Amiya looked thoughtful.
"And that means I will have to handle three days of work to prepare for the trip?"
"That's right, don't worry, I'll help you with that." Encouraging the Doctor with a beautiful smile, Amiya looked very energetic.
"And that's all it takes to mention the schedule of the next few days, the other activities will still take place normally. Now, please continue what you need to do, I have to go prepare the report. Ask Doberman to filter through the list of operators, Doctor will need to submit it to HR at the end of the day. See you later. " Amiya left the room, leaving the Doctor alone with the whole stack of documents. Oh forget to say, there was still Doberman. Clearing her throat, she handed the Doctor a thick cover file and sternly said:
“Well you heard her, back to work and maybe we can finish this before 4:00 PM.”
“Haha right...” Wasn’t it a few minutes ago when Amiya promised to help she?... Where are you going, come back, don’t leave me here with Doberman. So scary...
The silent in the room remained for the next 4 hours, only the sound of scratching paper can be heard. None of them made a word to each other and Doctor started to appreciate having Doberman as companion. She is a hard-working person, concentrate on her duty as an assistant. The end of the year sure had a lot of stuff to take care of, because the amount of work the Doctor received was twice times thicker than usual. Having finished the sign-in document over an hour, Doctor could finally put down the pen and fall back to the chair and relaxed.
“Thank you for the hard work, I will help you send this away. And as Dr Kal’tsit has insisted, don’t forget to have lunch on your break. I’m leaving now.”
“Roger that Instructor, I will.” Waving at Doberman as she exited the room, Doctor exhaled a long breath and laid down on the table, mind full of thought. A light knock came from outside, without sitting up from the seat, she answered in a sluggish manner:
“You can come in.” She heard someone enter and the smell of coffee sudden spread throughout her office, Doctor could guess who this person might be, so she continued laying over the table lazily. “Thank you for the drink Amiya, I’m really beat up now...”
“Allies, you tired?” A different voice came from on top of her head made the Doctor almost jumped up as she recognized her guest.
“Huh-?“ “Sil, SilverAsh..? You came back...” All of sudden to see the head of the Karlan Trade Co.LTD standing right in front of her, Doctor felt a bit surprised.
“Just a while ago, so I decide to see you first. But it seems like I may interrupt your rest then, don’t worry, I will leave your coffee here.” His eyes made a glance over the office, messy as always, filled up with documents to be dealt with. The Doctor was overworked herself again. Although SilverAsh’s face showed no sign of unpleasant expression, she could tell that he was bothered. Doctor got up from her chair and quickly grabbed his coat as the owner intend to leave.
“No, wait, it’s fine. I’m not busy, just being a bit lazy just now.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, come and sit down, I have time to talk. How was your trip back there?” Doctor sat next to him as they having their small talk, besides business. His big tail curled up all over her laps as usual, and no matter how many times she has brushed through it, it felt good like the first time Doctor had SilverAsh’s permission to touch it. Like an old habit, she gently fondled the soft fur in her hand.
“Nothing much, things were easy to handle so I return as soon as possible. It’s almost New Year, after all, I have promised Encia to be here by that time. She and the others may come up with some celebrating.” Let the Doctor had her way to play with his tail, SilverAsh made his words calmly.
“Oh, so even you notice that? I mean, you sure are a busy man, even I forgot the date too... How dumb was I..” She laughed.
“Then that is no good allies, I may be a businessman, but something will always come to my first prioritizes. Family. They are everything I have left, so I must cherish that precious moment with them. What about you?” Holding his cane in the hand, SilverAsh asked. He has never questioned about the Doctor’s past, he has no reason to. Now as the subject was brought up, it was a good chance to learn about this mysterious person. His allies.
On the other hand, Doctor showed a thoughtful face toward this question.
“I.. have no idea if I even have a family out there. Things is hard to say when you are stuck like this. But, at least for now, Rhodes Island is my home and every one part of it is my family, included you too SilverAsh. Isn’t that obvious?”
“Hmph, as expected of someone like you to say that. Very well then, Doctor, I’m looking forward to New Year.”
“Me too but...”
“What is this?”
“I have to leave to Lungmen for a few days, maybe I won’t be able to make it back on time. You guys enjoy yourself, no need to wait for me.”
“Is Kal’tsit with you?”
“Yeh, probably, how did you know?”
“I know what I need to, don’t mind that. If you are with Kal’tsit then it would be fine, you two can have your time there.”
After all, to you, she was more than just "family", wasn't she?
Standing in front of the closed door, Doctor was thinking whether she should make a knock or not. Her mind was full of thought about the talk with SilveAsh back then. As she was hesitant to make the move, Doctor realized someone was watching her back. From the ceiling...
“Red...?” Without turning around, she asked. The red figure showed up from above Doctor’s head, maintained an upside-down position with total balance, greeted her with an expressionless’s face.
“Good afternoon. Doctor. Walk?” The Doctor is familiar to this kind of conversation, although Red took after Kal’tsit a lot in doing with people around her, she could still read through this simple child. Just by looking at her tail. It was wagging up and down. That means she must have a good day.
“Hello, it’s nice to see you here. Would you like to come down..?” The Doctor reached out her arms to catch Red, and she landed down perfectly. Red rubbed her head into Doctor’s coat for a moment before letting go of her, she said:
“Doctor. Coffee, no lunch. Bad.” Oh, this is very bad, the Doctor is now busted for not eating her meal properly. How could she forget that Red had one of the sharpest nose in Rhodes Island. It wasn’t like Doctor wanted to disobey Kal’tsit order, the talk with SilverAsh made she forget about it, she didn’t even feel hungry. Ugh, she should have covered her smell before coming to this place.
“Red. Tell Dr Kal’tsit.” The worst-case had come, Doctor had to think and act fast, she said:
“Hang on Red, I um..”
“Can you... Not tell Kal’tsit about this..? Please, you don’t have to. I, I will tell her myself okay-?”
“Hm. No. Must report everything.” Red insisted on refusing to do so.
“Okay then... How about I make you crepe for breakfast tomorrow? And I won’t forget to have lunch too. It’s only today, I promise.”
“..Sure. Promise?” Red stared at her blankly. The tail behind stayed still as if it was waiting for an answer.
“What are you two doing out here?” Unexpectedly, the door in front of them suddenly opened. And there was Kal’tsit. The Doctor’s heartbeats froze for a moment. A chill ran down her back as she was afraid that the talk between her and Red might be heard. Before the Doctor could say any word, Kal'tsit gave her a cold look:
“Is there something you have to discuss with me, Doctor?”
“Well, no but-“
“Then our conservation can end here, you should get back to your work, I suppose you don’t need me to remind you that we have a trip to prepare. I hope you will be ready on time.”
“Of course I will...”
“Good, now if you don’t mind, I will need Red for her daily check-up. Come inside Red.” Turning back to her office, Kal’tsit only glanced at the Doctor one last time.
“Bye,” Red said and followed Kal’tsit step. Suddenly, Doctor clung to the door and asked:
“What?” Remaining the cold face toward Doctor, Kal’tsit respond.
“About the trip in the next 2 days, can you make it an exception-“
“No. You heard my answer.” Okay, this is hard, she was shut down before she made her word.
“Don’t you think that I don’t know about the party’s plan that Exusiai and the other are running around. This is work, and as the one who is responsible for everything, you must understand how much important it is. To all of us. To Rhodes Island. And beside of that, about you..”
“... you are in much more trouble than you think you were, Doctor. Even if Red doesn’t report your behaviour to me. I will still know.” As the atmosphere was tense enough, the Doctor left out a long sigh.
“Okay, I’m sorry. I will work hard for the trip.”
Leaving the room with the closed door behind, Doctor seem thoughtful and dispirited. I only want to ask...
Lungmen, 8:43 PM.
“Good work everyone, that would be all for today. You can dismiss.” Ch’en submitted all the files in her hand and stood up to leave the meeting room. As Doctor was preparing to go, there was a light tap on her shoulder. She turned over to see who is it. Hoshiguma, the Inspector of L.G.D. She smiled brightly and said:
“ Since you are free from now, have any plan after work yet? Want to go for a drink with me? I mean, in case Kal’tsit doesn’t forbid you to come back late .”
“Haha, thanks but I’m not good to that stuff though. Besides, isn’t today Christmas, how about you ask Ch’en instead?” The Doctor can only laugh it off. But Hoshiguma left out a long sigh.
“Too bad but you know her, not a type of person for the party. This holiday keeps her busier than usual, she won’t leave her desk.”
“Same to Kal’tsit even though we have already prepared a party back at Rhodes Island.” These two surely can share something in common.
“And where is she?”
“She left before me, seem to be in a rush. Busy you know?”
“So you are coming back tonight?” Hoshiguma asked. They were walking side by side in the hall of L.D.G’s department. People could tell from a look that Doctor from Rhodes Island and Hoshiguma had a good relationship between them.
“Hmm I’m not sure, we still have things to do so I guess you will still see me around.” Rubbing her chin to think, the Doctor could only give out a vague answer. At least a break from tonight.
“I see, then Happy New Year Doctor. Enjoy tonight yourself.” They both stopped and Hoshiguma waved at Doctor as they farewell each other at the main entrance.
“You too Hoshiguma, have a nice evening, just ask Ch’en to go out. I know she will.”
“I will try.”
For any Nomadic city she had ever been to, the weather was always a thing to deal with. For Lungmen, it was December and the temperature was lower than usual as they were heading toward the North. Tonight might be snowy, but it surely couldn’t cool down the air of this busy city. Doctor could feel it, from anyone she passed by the street. She remembered being told that there would be a firework festival held at the centre square. But it would be a shame to go there alone.
Lungmen, 10:24 PM.
When Kal’tsit was writing the report and contacting with the HR back in Rhodes Island, suddenly, a new message appeared on the screen next to her.
You received a message from Doctor
She stared at the owner’s name for a moment and decided to pass it and focus on working. Another sound came from the chatbox and kept interrupting her work. One by one.
Right on the moment she was about to get up from her desk and turn off the sound, it stopped. No more message was sent to Kal’tsit.
Took up her communication, Kal’tsit read the words with a cold expression.
“Doctor: Are you free at the moment?”
“Doctor: I know you won’t pick up or answer me so I will just say this real quick.”
“Doctor: It’s almost New Year and it’s snowing here. I heard there will be a fire watch.”
Oh, so she may consider this as an invitation? Without thinking, Kal’tsit replied:
“Kal’tsit: So what, Doctor?”
“Doctor: Oh, you answered?”
Doctor deleted a message
“Doctor: Sorry, it’s nothing. Keep on working, don’t mind me, I will get back soon. See you later. Byeee.”
Her ears stood up in the air as the anger rages inside Kal’tsit’s mind. Kal’tsit gripped the communication in her hand. Very well, Doctor, you dare to get on my nerves and playing around as much as you wanted. Then now all of sudden you decide to run away after this? What is this about?
Gently massaged the sore eyelids, Kal’tsit turned off the screen and sat down. This is stupid, she thought. Why would she even bother? She had her duty to take care of. Many important things. Not just about... She.
She looked out the clear window from the office and watched the snow fell down the city. Snow. Of course, she would like snow, that who she always is. That idiot...
Her mind was carried away with the thought, some old memories from the past. From the days before, longer than she would expect herself to recall.
A familiar figure, wearing the dark coat, stand out in the brighten white scenario. The cold wind breeze through and for a moment, she thought that person could be blown away, like a withered leaf standing against the storm. One moment, to vanish into the thin air like no one was there. Kal'tsit could only watch from behind, she wondered if it was real or not. The cold was real, the snow was real, she felt real... But that person, was she "real" too? It didn't feel right to her.
This world is different from the reality, there was only the person Kal’tsit stood side by side with through so many years. The one she knew that love standing under the snow as it falls upon the sky and just silently watching. Not tainted in the red blood. Nothing at all, like the white snow, clear and pure.
That person was no longer here. Their memories no longer existed. She left that past behind with everything.
It’s a fresh beginning , to start over again. To meet you again. To see you again. To touch you again. To fall for you again. Again and again.
The light went out in Kal’tsit room, only the sound of the closed door and footstep echoed through the empty halls could be heard.
Lungmen, 11:16 PM
Standing under the snow, Doctor dazed off a bit, stared blankly into the dark sky. Snow had fallen all over her hair, left a long white trail on both her shoulder. Doctor exhaled a thin smoke and gently rubbed her hand together. It was a bad idea, she thought. Why on Terra would she climb all the way to the rooftop of this building just to watch the fire watch. Should have picked somewhere else, it was windy up here... Peering her head out of the rooftop, looked down the crowded street filled with colour light, quite a nice view, the Doctor thought.
“What do you think you are doing?”
“Ah, Kal’tsit.” She turned over to the newly arrived person and smiled dumbly. “You came. I save you a seat.” Kal’tsit let out a long sigh and slowly approached Doctor. She frowned as she noticed how much snow there were on top of her head. Even the earlobe hidden under the hair had already turned red because of the cold. Just how long had she been standing here alone? She reached out for Doctor's collar and pulled it back.
“Wear your hood properly, you want to catch a cold so bad?”
“Look who is talking right now haha... I’m fine Kal’tsit-.”
“No, there is nothing fine about this, don’t you know to get inside if the snow is heavier? At least have responsibility for your body and health.” What was the Doctor thinking, of course, she knew Kal’tsit was busy. And she hates being cold. That why she is angry. As Kal'tsit was grumbling about it, the Doctor peep a bit at her cloth. She didn't even care to bring her winter coat with her, in a weather like this. And all she did was being mad about the Doctor for not wearing her clothes properly.
“...I was wondering if you would come.” So I waited for you, I want to watch the fire watch with you. That was what her mouth was going to say. But her mind said no.
She wouldn’t care about this childish idea.
“You are an idiot.” Kal’tsit sighed.
“But aren’t you here with me now? The show almost start.” Leaning her arms over the railing, the Doctor said. Kal’tsit stared at her back and stepped next to her, silently looked into the dark horizon. An unexpected warmth wrapped around her shoulder and pulled her close to the Doctor. Kal’tsit turned her head over and asked:
“What is this?”
“Well help you warming up of course. It’s freezing out here. You forgot your coat, you will get cold.” Doctor answered innocently.
“Fine… Just for a while. I have a higher temperature than you, it should be fine.”
“Sure. You can see it as I’m leaning on you for warmth. It’s cozy to stay like this.”
“...” They both fell into silence for a while. The air was getting awkward between them to stay like this.
“What is it about?”
“Did I or maybe we ever spend our time like this?”
“No, from back there everything was different. You were different.”
“Different huh? How much? In a good way or a bad way?”
“I can’t tell. You figure it out yourself.” Exhaled a long breath, Kal’tsit just gazed far away like something was on her mind. The winter breaths blew across her cheek, passed through the white hair, carried the unique scent that only belonged to her. The Doctor couldn’t help but feel greedy for it. It smelt nice. And safe, so familiar.
“Remember what I trying to said that day at your lab?”
“Well, actually, I was planning on asking you out for this. You know, a day off wouldn’t sound bad, give yourself a break. It’s New Year, have time for you and join with everyone .”
“I don’t have such an idea about it.”
“Right right, whatever you said. I just want you not to overworked.”
“Then you can start by stop making trouble by running around like this time.”
A shout came from the street yelled out which caught both’s attention on the sky.
“Here come the fire watch!”
A spark was shot into the air and flashed, followed by a brilliant explosion on the night, lighten up the whole area. The clock had turned 0:00 AM. It's a new year.
“It’s midnight. Happy New Year, Doctor.”
“Happy New Year. You have my best wishes.”
Without noticing, they stood side by side and Doctor’s hand slowly reached out for Kal’tsit’s. The moment didn't last too long, but it was enough for Doctor to remember the warmth she once held like that. She secretly stare at the person next to her, and there she saw. A gentle smile on Kal’tsit face, far different from what expression she always shows. While the Doctor was mesmerized because of it...
...Something soft and warm touched her forehead and quickly disappeared before she could recognize what was it. Being froze for a moment, the Doctor’s face, from a complicated expression slowly turned blussed with redness covered both of her ears.
Still in a state of shock, the Doctor could only mutter the word inside her mouth.
“Kal’tsit... What, what was that..”
“You have my best wishes Doctor.” Kal’tsit returned to her usual face, it was still a smile, but a smirk one.
A notification sudden popped up out of nowhere, pulled both of them away from the atmosphere just now. The Doctor hurried took out her communication and received a message from Amiya. It was an image. Of herself and everyone from behind at the party. Thing sure got noisy back home. She smiled at the image and saved it to her phone. So excited to meet up with them again, her family.
After the fire watch stopped, Kal’tsit turned around and offered Doctor a hand:
“We should go back, it’s getting cold up here. Let go see them tomorrow.”
“Sure.” No hesitant to hold back, the Doctor took her hand and followed Kal’tsit downstairs. On the way back to the hotel, the footstep of both printed on the thick snow, the snow was still falling but with the person next to her held her hand tight, Kal'tsit didn't felt the cold. Not anymore.
“The best wishes, next time, I want to do it too.”
“Suit yourself, we shall see.”
There would be plenty of time