Megaman X, X and Axl, 921 words.
Summary: It's never easy to face the unknown.
Notes: I suck at titles. *sigh* Anyway, challenge #42 for insert_phrase--must use the phrase "I won't let anything happen to you." Once again, my morbid predictions about what happened after X8 are all over the place. So sue me.
The med ward was silent, save for the hum of monitors and occasional beeps and blips from the scanning equipment. There were times when X felt it was a comfortable silence--the relief from the hubbub that dominated most of HQ was relaxing, and the sounds of the equipment provided just enough white noise to be reassuring. Sometimes, he reveled in it, wished it could last longer.
This was not one of those times.
"Scan should be finished momentarily," said Lifesaver. His expression was completely neutral as he watched the readout on the monitor.
"I can't tell you anything this early in the game, X. It'll take time to analyze the results."
X sighed, pacing back and forth beside the console. "How long?"
"It depends how many abnormalties are present. But even given optimal results, at least an hour."
An entire hour. Perhaps even more. X managed to keep most of the dismay from his voice. "I'll keep an eye on him while you take of care of it."
The monitor pinged as the scan finished, and Lifesaver nodded. "Thank you, X. I'll be looking this over in my office--don't hesitate to interrupt if anything happens."
If anything happens. Lifesaver was normally not one to dance around a point; the doctor rarely had a problem with being blunt and to the point when it was called for. It was a trait X normally appreciated. This time, however, he was inwardly quite glad that Lifesaver did not elaborate. They both knew quite well that Lifesaver really meant if he goes out of control again, but X didn't need to hear it. The past few hours had been hellish enough already.
And things were only likely to get worse, all things considered. As Lifesaver left the room, X turned his attention to the unconscious figure on the lab bed--the figure that was now beginning to stir--
He forced himself to unclench his fists and take a deep breath. Stressing out isn't going to help either of us right now. "Axl?"
Axl slowly opened his eyes. "...X..." he said weakly, staring at the ceiling.
"Are you sane now?"
"Sane? What did I--oh, god." Axl closed his eyes again.
X moved to stand a bit closer to the bed. "How much do you remember?"
"I--I fired on you, didn't I?" Axl asked anxiously.
"Yes. And after that?"
"I don't know, it's...it's just a blur." His eyes opened, and he moved his head to look at X. "I--did I hurt you?"
There was no point in glossing over the consequences of the kid's actions. "Zero took a few hits, but the damage was minor. You didn't get me." X frowned. "It could have been much worse."
Axl mumbled something incomprehensible and slowly pulled himself into a sitting position, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. "Am I...going to be..." He trailed off, his gaze dropping to the floor.
Retired. X shook his head. "It's too early to think about that, Axl." He took a seat on the bed next to the younger Hunter. "Lifesaver's checking your scan results. There might just be an error in your programming. This is serious, but that doesn't mean it's not fixable."
"And if it's...not?"
"Hey, I said it's too early to think about that," said X, giving Axl a gentle punch in the shoulder and doing his best to keep his tone light...although his heart sank at the thought. "I know you wouldn't do that deliberately. Signas and Lifesaver know it, too. If there's anything that can be done to fix whatever's wrong, we'll do it."
They sat there in silence for minutes that felt like an eternity, Axl still quietly staring at the floor and X watching him with concern. However much X might want to reassure them both that it was completely fine and nothing was going to happen, he knew it was only a half-truth, that maybe things would be fine but there was still a great chance that they wouldn't. Axl's anti-viral systems were supposed to be flawless, and while the technology for dealing with infection in older reploids had become quite advanced, there were no countermeasures developed for the new gens--there had never been a perceived need. Maybe the treatments used for older models would work. And maybe they wouldn't. And if they didn't...
God, this can't be happening. I don't want Axl to be retired... He reached over and put a hand on Axl's shoulder. "Axl."
The kid raised his head to look at X. His facial expression was unreadable, but there was no mistaking the anxiety in his eyes.
X tried to smile--tried, but somewhere halfway he gave up and settled for the most non-threatening expression he could manage. "I won't let anything happen to you."
It might only be a half-truth, but X needed to be reassuring--whether for himself or Axl or both of them, he wasn't quite sure. They stayed there for a brief moment, looking at each other, and then Axl suddenly scooted closer and his head dropped onto X's shoulder. "Don't wanna be retired," he mumbled.
X sighed, his arm slipping around Axl's shoulders. "Shh. It'll work out, Axl. I promise."
He didn't like making promises he wasn't sure he could keep, but X intended to do everything in his power to keep this one. And as they sat and waited for Lifesaver to finish processing the test results, he could only hope that would be enough.