Sylvester comes into the living room and discovers Beth sitting in the armchair and the new Earthling David lying on the sofa, covered with a small blanket.
– We ate just downstairs last night, and when we came back he fell asleep before I could even bring him a glass of water, she whispers
– But you could have stretched out in the next room.
– I could have, but I preferred to stay with him.
– Come with me. We’re going to prepare breakfast.
They go to the kitchen.
– Thank you.
– What for? asks Sylvester.
– For him and for this, she says waving the magnetic key the two Smiths gave her the previous day, before they went out to the restaurant.
– Did you have a good evening together?
– He ate like an ogre. I could see he was dying to hear of how I’d found the morning star. But we were in a public area. So we talked about Earth. He asked me tons of questions.
– He had been awake for just a few hours when you arrived.
As they go on speaking, Beth and Sylvester set the table and prepare fresh and hot drinks.
– He was still very weak when he opened the eyes. It took him some time to succeed in getting up and taking a few steps without fainting. But we had the most difficulty convincing him to stay quiet. This guy is really as stubborn as a mule.
– An adorable mule, she murmurs.
Paul enters the kitchen.
– Good morning everybody, he says joyfully. Was the evening good, Beth?
– I spent it with a charming companion. Thanks to both of you.
– Where is our brand new Earthling then?
– He’s still sleeping. He fell asleep instantly, a few seconds after we got back last night.
– He needed to rest. He made a spectacular recovery. It wouldn’t have been reasonable to undertake the way to your flat last night.
– I know. The day I took over my new body on Dalygaran, I flaked out the same way, just after I’d eaten. There’re suddenly so many new sensations to manage, that it literally empties all your energy. And when you wake up the morning after, it’s like you’ve always been in this body. Cues are quickly taken. I hope it’ll be the same for him.
– It smells terribly good here!
– David, exclaims a radiant Beth.
They are standing facing each other across the room. Paul and Sylvester look at them. They can obviously see that these two are on excellent terms. Paul, raising his eyes to the ceiling, says,
– For pity’s sake, if you’re waiting for our permission to kiss each other, you can wait a long time.
Beth begins to laugh and now goes without hesitation to take refuge in the Major’s arms.
– This waking up is much better than the previous one, he murmurs in her ear.
She takes him by the hand and leads him near the table.
– Come eat. You’ll see, Earthling breakfasts are very good too.
Everybody sits down and the breakfast takes place in a good mood, until the Major declares,
– I have to go back to Dalygaran.
Beth and the two Smiths stop eating. All looks converge on the Major.
– I have to go back to Dalygaran, he repeats. They believe I’m dead there. I have to tell my family, my friends, the Great Council and the High Command too.
– Oh my God, they are burying you today. Your funeral has to be canceled, adds Beth.
The two Smiths still say nothing.
– Paul, Sylvester, I’m fine. I can travel.
Sylvester stands up and goes out of the room, and returns with a probe in the shape of a pen.
– Let me be the judge of that, he says, waving the probe all around the Major’s head, and then along his chest.
Then he goes out of the room again and comes back with a tablet in his hands.
– Yes, indeed, this has nothing to do with yesterday. You’re in perfect health.
– We have 12-Earthling-hour travel pills, announces Paul. We can’t do better than that for the moment.
– Hang on, I’m going to take the communicator to inform Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
– A communicator, you said Beth? asks Paul.
– Yes, Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe gave it to me. I came quickly yesterday to leave it here before I took my extraction pill.
– You see. You’re barging in like you own the place. You don’t need any keys finally, answers Sylvester on a false sulky tone.
– I’ll be right back.
Beth leaves the room.
– Why are you looking at me like that? asks the Major of the two Smiths.
– We chose you to take care of her. Don’t disappoint us, answers Paul, quite harshly.
– I didn’t wait for you to arrive in order to take care of her. I betrayed my country to enable her to come back here. You don’t need to talk to me like that, he says through his teeth.
When Beth comes back in the room with the communicator in her hand, she can sense a certain tension. She puts on the communicator and engages the direct connection with her former host. As he appears on the screen she says,
– Prepare the body in the disembarkation room. I’m coming.
Then she cuts off immediately.
– He certainly must be muttering something over there, she says smiling.
– I was the one supposed to go, protests the Major.
– But you’re the one who’s going to go, she answers. He is going to have such a surprise.
– I know, impossible.