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A Brinnite walk-in on Byway
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Inside the second-floor door they slide, into cool shadow, as Xakda has decided that the second floor is sufficiently full that he shouldn't bother checking the first. Wheels, meet floor. Jerk to a stop, then clear out of the entryway, brake the propellors until they stop, fold wings, go look for a spot!


As their eyes adjust, it's actually decently lit in here. The carplanes are mostly similar to Xakda's. Some are significantly bulkier, designed to carry cargo or twenty people, and these are parked in bigger spots. Common colors include white, gray, all shades of blue-green. One is vivid purple. Xakda drives around (it's a level square drive, not a spiral, inside the building), finds a spot, parks, and absently takes off his backpack inside the cab -

". . . Oh, now's when I usually take my actual stimulant," says Xakda. "It won't kick in that much within the first three minutes, but it will a little. Do you want me to wait until you're done practicing?"

(Xakda would legitimately bet a decent amount of money at 2:1 odds that he is not noticeably cognitively slowed in habituated-unmedicated state with respect to the dopamine reuptake inhibitor relative to his drug-naïve baseline state, but not at 10:1.)


...Minaiyu decides that now is extremely not the time to ask about carplane crash statistics.

He doesn't have the spare bandwidth to pay attention to the signposts, but he does catch a glimpse of a statue or two. He is--at least once they land and he can think about things other than the balancing act of neither moving nor freezing--curious about them, and asking about their subjects does seem like a conversation much more likely to go well than the one about carplane crash statistics, but also not a top priority at this time.


Should he ask what drug it is? On the one hand, he's viscerally uncomfortable with sticking an unknown overlay onto his soul; on the other hand, given the already available information "it's some kind of stimulant that a-human-in-general-and-this-body-in-particular can take on a regular basis without running into blatant problems", there are pretty diminishing returns on further details; on the third hand, this world may well have taken slightly different pharmacological paths and the name might not link up with any of the pre-existing concepts in his mind anyway; and on the gripping hand, he really does not want to go anywhere near anything that sounds like it might be picking a fight with Xakda over whether-to-take-the-drug-at-all.

He'll set the question aside for the moment. Presumably he'll get a look at the label at some point, possibly today depending on how the practice goes.

"Uh, I guess wait? It probably wouldn't interfere, but only probably."


He's worried he's going to end up waking up mid-blood-draw or something, but...well, as the saying goes, 'danger lies also in the absence of action, not only in the presence'.

He tries, sort of-- yanking himself backwards, in a not-quite-physical way.


He's at a desk, much like the one in Xakda's bedroom. On the desk is a monitor showing what appears to be the view through Xakda's eyes. He's wearing a wireless headset, through which he can hear the background noise of the garage.

(The subtly off feeling that Xakda first noticed in his body upon waking up today is gone.)

He looks around. He's in a small room, mostly shadowy and undefined. Behind him is a cot; ahead of him, to the left of the desk, is a door.

He runs a hand through his hair, feels the familiar curls.

Okay! He was...not actually expecting it to go this well! Oh, it's a bit bare-bones, sure, but it's a very good result for a first try. Looks like they're in business.

He tries the headset microphone.

<Can you hear me?> says a voice in Xakda's head, clearly distinct from Xakda's own.


"Yeah! Wait -"

Yeah, Xakda tries, internally.

"I'm not sure if - did you get that?"

The pilot who parked after him, who has a wireless earbud in himself, passes by without appearing to notice anything strange.


(He did not get that.)

<I can see and hear from in here, but I can't feel the body, let alone move it-- at least, I don't think...> he waves his hand in front of his face, not that Xakda can tell. <...yeah, no, it's not moving.>


It is not!

"Should I be able to return-send? Also, is anything horrible liable to happen if I get out of the cab now?"


<It's not surprising if you can't, especially on day one. With practice you might be able to get the hang of doing it from out there. I have it easy because I've got this, like, headspace avatar: subjectively I'm just talking out loud, I'm not having to do any particular mental motions or anything.

I can't think of any reason getting out of the cab would pose an issue.>


So it's like that, huh? Xakda nods and exits the carplane to stare idly/sagely out a window (he doesn't understand at all).


For a couple of minutes, Minaiyu also looks out the window, albeit at slightly more of a remove.

Then it sinks into his subconscious that the immediate crises are over and there is nothing he needs to do right this moment, not even staying still so as not to interfere with Xakda's movements, and he finds he's trembling too hard to stand.

He curls up on the floor (tearing off the headset in the process), shaking uncontrollably, overwhelmed by a confused tangle of emotions. The past subjective-day (and who knows how many centuries or millennia it's been back home while he was unconscious) could have gone so much better and it could have gone so much worse and he should have fucking waited for that pleuritic truck driver to stop instead of betting his life that they correctly understood who had right-of-way and he was like this fucking close to getting into two fatal vehicle crashes and it's such a weird feeling to have an entire other language attached to his mind (even as he is grateful for the ability to readily communicate) and he literally does not even know what drugs he is on right now and all of his routines are shattered and there are so many people he'll never get to say goodbye to and projects left unfinished and places he'll never again set foot in and he is so utterly alone and never alone ever again and-- and-- and--


"Okay, Minaiyu, I should go in. You ready?"






Well now he's starting to feel like the passersby are looking at him. They aren't, Xakda . . .


Everybody hallucinates sometimes.

Xakda's Inner Critic: . . . About heart attacks or rabies.

Well, he takes the L, then! Time to go to work.

Down the elevator, through the street, through the hospital employee entrance, double-checking his backpack (and taking meds) as he goes.

Nobody he works with, great! Aaaaalmost at the terminal -



". . . Everything good?"


Sigh. No, Aleith, I cannot '~tell you anything~'! Even if I could tell you anything. And I'm even the type of person who can in fact ~tell~ any people ~anything~,

"Yeah, just - accidentally -" he can't say he woke up Sinber normal people live alone that sounds weird "- had a morning." Please just let me sign in.


Nod! Hand-salutation. He ducks into his own consultation room.


The first person he receives has been having mysterious shoulder pain for months, which he'd assumed was 'cramps', but then it suddenly got worse. It's easy to put Minaiyu out of his mind as Xakda practices a decision tree that is nowhere written down, because there'd be too much to write.

Range of motion? Not great. Muscle? Mostly there's too much give, but in weird places . . . definitely not cramps. And motion causes pain here, and here . . .  Xakda gets it X-rayed. Yeah, there's . . . certainly a problem! After twenty minutes of studying it, the sheet Xakda hands over to the treatment planners, along with the patient, centrally tells a story about the joint having slipped months ago, leading to bone wear and eventual tissue decay, with meliorating possibility-branches. (He does get a chance to corroborate with Nakoru on this one! Nakoru, unexcitingly, draws almost all Xakda's same conclusions, but still.) That patient's case being the first of the day would qualify for Xakda as 'frontloading his difficulties' but, gambler's fallacy. Then again, regression to the mean! Then again, this whole aphorism-heuristic is based on rewarding yourself for frontloading difficult tasks you have the choice of frontloading, and Xakda has no control over this. So never mind!

The next patient subjectively has some kind of . . . pressure? weird sensation? . . . going on in his ear, chronic although it was sudden-onset. He thinks it could maybe be related to some subjective balance problems he's been having lately? Approximately a half hour after 'Minaiyu' disappeared (ancient laboring sages, what was wrong with Xakda this morning), Xakda is twisting a camera-otoscope in the patient's ear with one hand, and remote-zooming the camera's-eye view on his desk monitor with the other.


Eventually Minaiyu feels...well, somewhat better. Done for now, anyway.

...he...didn't...warn...Xakda...did he. He winces.

He gets up, sticking the headset back on. Xakda does not look interruptable right now.

in fact if he had blacked out and woken up at this moment that would probably have gone pretty badly, you do not fuck around with sticking things in people's ears

He waits and watches. It's not so different from shadowing people at work, really.

(He tries to think of a way to phrase an apology that does not rub it in that Xakda hasn't had any downtime in which to do emotional processing, but he can't come up with anything. He'll just have to forge ahead, he guesses.)


After he checks for Nakoru (who is sadly tied up now) and ships off the ear patient, he'll spend a few minutes reading and notetaking case studies at his standing computer terminal. But during that time, his constant clock-checks and glances at his (open) office door, will signal to Minaiyu that this is not actually time Xakda has predictably free. Indeed, within a few minutes, a notification sketches out the info of his next patient. He barely has time to read over it before meeting them.

It's about two and a half hours after the start of Xakda's shift, when he relaxes a little (though not, if you knew him, as much as is usual for him), stretches, and, backpack loaded, locks his office door and takes the stairs down to the break area.

No windows, but it's very well- and warmly-lit. At first it may appear small and stark - tiny table, a couple vending machines - before you notice that the common space is not the main attraction, and the actual breakrooms are the surrounding sixteen-odd single-person private areas. Xakda enters one, throws his backpack on the table, closes and locks the door, and is immediately cut off from all light and sound from the outside world. He settles in and sets up his laptop. Begins some online shopping related to his and Sinber's planned home renovation. The first motions of this go very slowly and laboriously. Xakda is in denial about how the reason they are going very slowly and laboriously is that he is having a panic attack.


It's probably not an issue with quality of customer experience.



Minaiyu feels increasingly awkward about not having apologised or anything yet as the hours go by--does Xakda even know he's watching right now, or just assuming Minaiyu's unconscious? he was specifically trying to avoid Xakda not knowing when he was watching--but he doesn't quite dare to speak up until the private room.

<Hi. I'm sorry about dropping out on you all of a sudden like that. Everything...kind of caught up with me.>


Oh, so it's going to start pretending to be real every time he's alone, conveniently never becoming real to anyone else, is it. That's a familiar pattern of delusion, even if this particular shape of delusion is alarmingly immersive.

Ideally you meditate it away on your own. Especially at age - well, at age fifteen, let alone twenty-five. But he strongly suspects he's not actually in a position to accomplish that, right now, so his next best option is 'insist on the reality of your delusion to such professionals as should be able to detect what you're imagining, if it's real, until your brain is satisfied with their refutations'.

Sigh. Ripple of creeping dread. He's too old for this.

He's still got 18 minutes of break left.

He packs up and hauls ass to the neuro wing. Thank twisted fate he knows Andor at all.

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