Another Life: Ch. 2
Joel woke before the morning sun peeked through the window. Today was the day he was to be allowed to get up. He'd been confined to bed for almost two weeks. He didn't remember the first week as he'd been almost comatose with an illness.
That illness, he'd been told, was Travelers Flu. All of the people who had suffered from the illness had come to Gliese from Earth. Joel had been one of the last humans who'd been transported from Earth to Gliese. From what Archer had told Joel, Earth was no more. Well the planet was still there, but there were no humans left alive. Gliese was a planet that was almost identical to Earth and the Historians had transported the humans who would survive the illness to this planet.
The second week he was confined to bed, Joel would have liked to say that he'd fought his hardest to get up and see this new planet he was on. But the truth was when he wasn't eating, he was usually sleeping. His body wasn't healing only from the Travelers Flu, but from years of malnourishment.
But with the nourishing food and the extra rest, Joel felt he was strong enough to get out and see this new world. Last night, Archer had finally agreed that today Joel could get out of bed.
Joel started to throw off the covers, but thoughts of Archer stilled him. He wasn't exactly afraid of the big man, but Joel would admit to being a bit intimidated. Joel had never met anyone taller than himself; at 6'4" he'd always towered over everyone else. But Archer was even taller. And bigger, more muscular. Archer had to be at least a good 3 inches taller and with his piercing hazel eyes, Joel didn't want the man angry at him. Archer could break him in half with no effort at all.
Joel scoffed at himself as he looked down at his arms. They looked like twigs with knots where his elbows bent. His legs weren't any better. No wonder Archer had demanded that Joel rest and eat, he looked like a walking skeleton. The squeak of the door broke Joel out of his musings.
"I figured you'd be lying here, anxious to get up," Archer said in a quiet, rough voice. Walking the rest of the way in, he dropped a tunic and pants on the bed. "I will help you dress."
Joel opened his mouth to argue, but Archer held up a hand. "Do not argue with me. I do not abide arguments."
Having felt that large hand swat him once, Joel wasn't eager to feel it again. He guessed that the one swat Archer had given him over a week ago, hadn't been at full strength. Joel turned his gaze away and nodded his consent.
Swinging his legs off the bed, Joel allowed Archer to pull the tunic style shirt over his head. When the bigger man held out the pants, he asked, "no underwear?"
"The tunic and pants will cover your modesty," Archer said assuredly.
Shrugging, Joel accepted the pants and stood up. He hadn't taken into consideration the last 2 weeks in bed and almost fell.
"I've got you." Archer's strong hands held him up. "Let's take this slowly. Sit back down and I'll help you get them on."
Joel was blushing bright red in humiliation. He couldn't even get his pants on without showing how weak he was! With his head bowed, he saw Archer drop to his knees. When the big man pulled his leg up, Joel let himself be man-handled into the pants. No, man-handled wasn't the right term, Archer was very gentle as he lifted each of Joel's legs and slid the pants on. Once the pants were up to his knees, Archer lifted Joel up to his feet.
"You steady now?" He asked as he drew the pants up the rest of the way.
Joel nodded when he felt he could stand without falling. Archer quickly tied the drawstring that held the pants up.
"Come. Trey is still asleep. I've some morning bread warming," Archer said then took ahold of Joel's arm.
Joel wanted to pull out of the firm grasp, he wanted to show this self assured man that he didn't need help. But the truth was, he did need the help. At least at this point. Joel hoped that soon his body wouldn't be so weak.
Walking into a large room, Joel couldn't help but gape and gaze around. The room was so clean. The walls painted a soft cream that was warm and inviting in the bright morning sunshine. One side of the large room held two plush chairs and a long couch. The other side had a heavy wood table and chairs.
"Come. Sit on the couch. The chairs are too hard for your delicate nature," Archer commanded as he guided Joel to the soft furniture.
Joel bristled at being called delicate. He was the one to always work the longest in the garden! He was the one who went out to find food, when the others were too weak to walk so far! He was the one...Joel's rambling mind stopped. He was the only one alive. The others in the basement had been crushed under the falling building.
Thankful that he was next to the couch, Joel felt his legs give out. Not only from weakness but from the realization that he was alive when so many others had died.
"Stay put. I'm going into the kitchen and will bring back some morning bread I've had warming," Archer said.
Joel stayed put. He knew at some point he and Archer would have to come to an agreement that Joel didn't need someone to tell him what to do, but he knew now wasn't the time. He was still grieving over his lost life and recovering from the Traveler's illness.
"Here you go. We do have muesli if you'd prefer, but I'd rather start building some mass on you. Morning bread is made of a mixture of grains and honey; sweet but healthy," Archer said handing Joel a wooden plate filled with warm buttered bread.
Flavors, sweet and wholesome exploded in Joel's mouth. Never before had he tasted such a sweet bread. Joel ate slowly but didn't stop until the last piece had been devoured.
Archer handed him a mug. "It's juice. More calories. More energy stored in your body. Soon, you'll be allowed coffee."
Joel again bristled at the commanding tone. "I'm not a child," He groused. But then quickly took a sip of the juice when Archer raised his eyebrows at him.
"You're learning," Archer said with amusement lacing his voice.
Joel didn't realize how lucky he was that at the moment he rolled his eyes at Archer's comment, Archer had turned toward one of the doors in back of the great room.
"Back to bed, Pais," Archer growled gently to Trey who was peeking out the door.
After Trey had quickly shut the door, Joel looked at Archer. "Pais? That's Greek, isn't it? Means boy?"
"Yes. It came from Earth's long ago. Before contact had been severed," Archer explained almost absently. His gaze was focused on the door that Trey had shut.
Concern for the young man rose in Joel's chest. "Is he ok?"
"Yes. A bad night. He needs extra sleep at times," Archer said. "Come, let's show you your new world."
Taking the hand the big man held out, Joel stood up and they walked to the door. There, Joel got the first look at a world that was fresh and green.