Jim was pretty surprised when he walked in the house and somebody was doing something to Kelly. Since Leonard was sitting right beside the fellow, he didn't yell.
"Hi, Hulk. I was even shorter last time you saw me. Jody Stanley. I'm testing his eyes and ears. He tells me when he sees a dot or hears something with a tap on my leg. I agree on other kinds of tests, but this is just to make sure he sees and hears all the things you're going to show him clearly. His eye muscles are weak. Focusing is not currently easy to do. He's working on it though. Incredible peripheral vision. Don't rush down the highway. Take back roads and drive about thirty a lot of the time. His eye muscles will work to focus if it's not just a blur. It won't take long for you to strengthen them, Kelly. I've got nice pictures of healthy eyes and your hearing is exceptional. We both know that's because it's extremely well trained. Wear earplugs if you go to concerts. The volume level will cross your eyes. You know, so loud you go like this."
"Sonata sent him, Jim. He's the same age as Kelly. I think he invented the equipment he's using."
"I wish. I just put several things together to make it portable. Fowler and Alexis programmed the computer to overcome a lot of the limitations caused by the several things I didn't include. I can't do a glaucoma test, but optical sensors don't get that often and Kelly said he had one of those recently anyway."
"That's a device to test optical sensors?"
"It's a device to test sensors period, but human optical is why it about takes a steamer trunk to carry it. I'm going to make you something. I'll need Gizmo to build some of it and Nerds Incorporated to program some of it."
"Andrea decided his grandfather was the physics professor with the bongoes three years ago."
"I heard, Leonard. Dad told me she gave up trying to remember his name after awhile."
"My dad was never worried she'd come up with one. Sonata has figured out our town is rather different. I gave her a brief synopsis of recent history. Kelly gets more in depth and from a different viewpoint. I'm starting with girls our age to dodge and not to dodge as fast. I know exactly who's husband hunting and how to tell."
"I'm currently a prime candidate for the sixteen to twenty-four year old group. You dodged it. He won't. Gizmo made sure of it."
"Word is out."
"The yell to man the defenses is out. I edited a statement to be released. I said it didn't need any and took Sonata to meet Grandmother. Right after she dropped Daddy Kelly on me. Been to see Heather and Mersia?"
"Take Kelly to meet your girls, Hulk. He'll love them. Oh, tap, tap, tap of agreement on that one. What? Oh, sure I'll teach you to cross your eyes. Hulk, you leave without seeing those little girls and you'll get slugged again."
"I'd deserve it again."
"Since it's Kelly's dinner time, I'll go see if I can keep my mind on what I'm saying long enough to tell Gizmo what I want to do. The last time I talked to her I trailed off into 'uh, uh, uh' when I looked in her eyes. Of course, I was barely sixteen at the time and it was just polite conversation. Took me two and a half years to come up with something to talk to her about. See you in a few, Kelly, lucky dog."
"They call him Eyes, Jim. He couldn't decide which scholarship to take so he's going to community college. I think he's been working to be Gizmo's shop buddy since you left. That's when he started lifting weights. Sonata kept him from having to go through Fowler to get here. That unit does human eyes because he built that part of it FOR Kelly. We both noticed."
"I noticed he was about five nine with shoulders that belong on someone seven three."
"Yeah, they're not quite as wide as yours, but pretty close. He doesn't have to turn sideways to go through doors. Kelly, everyone knows who Jody's grandfather was. Alfred Leiderman was sixty-eight, brilliant, single and the primary school principle. Andrea Stanley decided his genes weren't leaving this town either. We're all still helping her keep her promise not to tell they were lovers for six years before he died."
"My parents said she put too much work into her reputation for anyone to spoil it. Are you ready?"
"Tonight I'm fixing you a steak and slicing it thin."
"Huh, huh! Huh, huh! Sert. Cirls. Huh, huh!"
"Oh, you were told."
"Yes, I was. Kelly, Jody came to talk to you."
"Huh, huh. Cirls."
"Leonard, tell Gizmo that Kelly wants to meet my daughters and Jody I'm going to strangle him. I'm not ready for this situation. I wasn't ready when I got into this situation. Which is why I got into this situation."
"Meet them for dessert?"
"Huh, huh. Soy. Soy. Ice."
"Eyes. Jody. Sorry. Oh, Jody thinks I should meet them... Kelly, I'm too nervous to think."
"Yeah. OK. Leonard, where should I meet them?"
"Cratchett Park. Let Kelly watch the boats from a picnic table bench and see how sticky Gem and Kris can get him feeding him toasted marshmallows. Mersia won't trip you until AFTER you're crazy about your girls. Gem and Kris know they're sisters. Take my scooter. It's all set up for Kelly to ride."
"Phone. I'll give you the numbers."
Casey was with Heather and Kris and that helped Jim a bit at first. At first was all the help he needed. His girls were "dolls" and he was "smugly awed in about forty seconds." Kelly giggled every time he looked up at his grin while he got marshmallow out of his hair. Kris had been pretty good with the marshmallow "burned perfect gooey," but she'd needed to assist her aim by holding on with the other hand. Gem had explained she was still too little to keep one hand clean. Kelly had giggled for nearly a solid hour and actually ached a bit from it. He'd certainly had enough marshmallows to last a very long time. Jim's hair needed washing too. He'd helped him eat a lot of marshmallows.
"Yeah, I'm smug and I didn't do anything but get too drunk to say goodnight twice. Gizmo is sure or Sonata wouldn't have called out the troops. I don't know how they know, but I don't think any woman really needs a pregnancy test. I never saw one who looked surprised when she picked up a test result at the county hospital. I worked as an orderly slash clerk there for a year and handed a lot of them out. My parents had several foster children, all of them for a fairly short period of time. When they became sure Mom had twenty years to raise a child, they adopted one. I was about sixteen months old, big, and working on climbing up on a fire engine at the county fair. Nobody was looking for me. No one ever did."
"Yes, I loved my home. I've always thought my mother tried to do well by me. I'm not from around here. I was brought here, where there's plenty for all and great schools, scrubbed clean with my hair combed, and left among a dozen volunteer firefighters from THIS town. Dad was one of them. They'd been approved to adopt. I was the first one on the county list and Dad HAD taken me home with him."
"Exactly. I've wondered if my mother brought me here because they'd been approved to adopt. Mom was pretty sure of it. She tried to find my mother. Dad was pretty sure Mom had earned me. The alien telepath stuff started when my dad pointed out the transporter on the Enterprise as a possible way I'd been delivered to Mom. Leonard loved it."
"Oh, yes, I definitely ran away and hid. I only had sex with Mersia and Heather for the first three years. Mersia caught me right afterward when I was... a total wreck. Heather caught me when I was still avoiding women out of habit. I left three ladies this time, but I did let them know I'd be leaving quite some time in advance."
"Neh mrr ree."
"No, none of them had wedding plans. Kelly, you're still having muscle spasms. I can see they hurt."
"They hurt your head?"
"Your head hurts first."
"Fast? A sharp pain in your head just before the muscle spasm?"
"Huh, huh. Neh."
"When you do something new. Kelly, this isn't progressing like any recovery of muscular control I've heard of. It's sudden big steps, then fill in a very little bit and another big step. I'm afraid to take you on the road yet. I want this spa close."
"Hotels on the bankcard isn't that discreet, Kelly, and it's still not close to a spa except when we're in one."
"Yeah, I'm ready to go too. Scooter was fun, huh?"
"Oh, that was clear. Leonard's driving is a bit too much whee. He can't ride a motorcycle. One could be modified for him, but it would never be comfortable. Bitsy built him something the size of a big motorcycle with all the roar and whee. Notice his chair zips around. That baby is stable zipping around with the seat fully lifted. It weighs a lot more than it looks like. All right, I'll work out a way I can get hot wraps on you, or something, and we'll do soaks in a spa evening and morning. The pain in your head scares me, Kelly. So do the spasms. It confuses me because I don't know if I want them to stop."
"I know you don't want them to stop. All right, but I've got a feeling I'm going to be running up to someone's door with you and telling them I'm borrowing the bathtub."
"Lff ick. Hir guh."
"Now you know exactly what people mean by laugh til your sides ache, and it does hurt good."
"Hulk! You'll be needed in six hours!"
"Gizmo, why are you sure a night is six hours?!"
"They're three! I'm giving you two in a row! Jody, Leonard and I are getting one each! Your estimated time of departure is morning two days from now! You get a day to paint while we build the last pieces for the inside and finish the comp programming! Then we're going to paint your paint job with something! Your departure time is because of its delivery time!"
"I wish I could take you out there when I'm painting, Kelly. I'd like you to watch, but they'll be working in the clean room or I'd be waiting to paint. No, the fumes are toxic period. I wear a mask and Gizmo only has one really good one."
"Should have known one of your first words would be bankcard. All right, I'll get you a mask so you can watch me paint."
"Six?! One for everyone including the kids?"
"I don't WANT that big an audience."
"You're right. They'll all come to watch for awhile or just look in to see how it's going. Safe is masks. I'll hang them on the door."
"Oh, yeah, definitely a chair. It would take hours to clean the workbench off so you could lay on it. I'll just throw a tarp over it."
Kelly started working on what Jim had said before. His recovery was 'odd' to start with, but even he knew it wasn't progressing in the fashion most did. He did something without knowing he was even attempting it and he could do it again after that, but it was still the same movement. His mouth and tongue worked, but he could open and close and push air through. He could make some small changes with his tongue, but he couldn't shape words with his lips. He was still saying things like a very bad ventriloquist. He could lift his hips, but he couldn't bend at them. He could tap a finger, but just one and he couldn't move his wrist. Why? He wasn't going about it right? He wasn't thinking about it right?
That 'struck a chord.' Was he just feeding current to the circuit? Did he have anything switched on to use it when it got there? He began to review what he'd learned of the human body 'studying' with Jim. It was time to see if he could apply it. He didn't have long to learn what he really needed, to make it so he had some control over the breakthroughs themselves. If it was just those that tied him in a knot, he could work on others while they traveled and those when they were in a spa.
He envisioned a connection being made in his head. There was sudden pain and his legs jumped. Jim pulled him from the tub and ran for the spa. Kelly went from grimace to grin in seconds this time.
"You did it intentionally?"
"Huh, huh. Hlls. Benker. Dih. Benker dih. Benker dih! Hmph!"
"Hey, don't get frustrated. You got the sound. You'll get it stuck to the end of the word. You know, a couple vids showing hearing impaired people how to shape words might be an idea worth chasing down. You moved your legs, Kelly. Both of them and all the way to the toes. You didn't realize that? When your legs jumped, you flexed your knees and ankles and curled your toes. Oh, that pleased you."
"Sitz dih en."
"Check lights? Oh, Gizmo's analogy. You... turned everything on before you added current. Uh, huh. And you picked where and knew we'd be running."
"Yeah?! You figured it out!"
"Meh gays guh."
"Your grades were better in physiology too?"
"Ow. I think I expected it. I never forget the name of the muscle I have my hand on, but it just doesn't translate to 'name the muscles of' on a test."
"Heh dih. Neh wir en."
"You decided it gets switched on in your head and not where the filaments attach?"
"And you figured out how."
"Obviously. You're trying to make it predictable so I stop worrying about you having muscle spasms in the van. Kelly, it will always bother me when something hurts you."
"Yeah. Luf. Nie en nie sert."
"I liked the come back on that one too and 'two' nights is still short sleep."
"You want me to put you in the chair, but just you this time."
"Yeah. Nuh tir."
"Kelly, if you're going to keep working on this, I'm afraid to sleep."
"Stisses guh nuh. Guh nuh. Gunuh!"
"Getting frustrated right after you get a hold on it doesn't make sense, Kelly. It wasn't just the stitches that worried me."
"Yis! Ser ser! Tuf!"
"Sore is sore is not reasonable, Kelly. Contraction that extreme can actually cause damage."
"Jeh mih en finnehs."
"All right, but please stick with mouth and fingers and I'm STILL tying a string to our toes."
"Yeah, no cheating and how disgusted you sound is just why I'm making sure you stick with your mouth and fingers. Kelly, it's still real fast. You've never HAD control of your body. You hadn't learned it yet as a baby."
"That's exactly what you figured out!"
"Sinkif kih mif."
"I guess they all were instinctive kinds of moves. Damn, Kelly, I've just been too busy to work with you like I should. I know Leonard has been, but I'm the one trained to help and... I'll like having you watch while I paint the van. I feel like I don't see you much. I don't... I feel like I don't touch you as much as when I worked for you. I always thought of it like that. I didn't work for any of those people who came in and... discussed you like expensive coffee for the break room. Nobody could really tell the difference, but the package was good public relations."
"Fits is why I didn't like several of them."
"Yes, test. We work on words and finger wiggles a little in the spa and I might sleep SOME of the next six hours. You can make all the sounds. See if you can... run them together. You can. You do say bankcard. You don't have the d stuck on the end, but the k in the middle is REAL clear. You can stick an s in the middle. Maybe you should think of those ending sounds as middle sounds."
"They precede a pause and the next sound."
"Oh, that's lots closer to chair. A! You made an A sound! All right, let's work through the sounds of the alphabet just like they do on Sesame Street, then I'll move your fingers and you can try."
"Nie nie. Meh."
"Gizmo! Since Kelly's going to be in the chair working on motor control, I will probably NOT be well rested in six hours!"
"It's not delicate work, but I need your fast hands and touch with a wrench!"
"I think I was hoping you'd tell Kelly to put it off!"
"Kelly, if you were a patient, he'd be pushing! Five and a half hours, Hulk! Sleep!"
Kelly was asleep when Leonard gently woke Jim and told him he was taking over his toe ring. He was grinning very widely. Jim looked to see why and grinned wider. Kelly's hands were palm up in his lap. "Fingers" had gotten a bit far, but he hadn't had severe muscle spasms or he would have awakened him.
"He's probably pooped, Jimmy Boy."
"Has to be. He's got a handle on it. The key might be he isn't relearning the control. The gross movements, but not the refined ones."
"Babies can't hold things in their fingertips and don't know how they grasp things with their hands. That took every muscle group in his upper body to some extent, but primarily his arms."
"He was working on fingers."
"He got a handle on it."
"Even if he didn't get the fingers to move. He will NOT be pleasant if that is the case."
"Thanks for the warning and tip."
"He's getting really frustrated, Leonard. This kind of thing can, usually does, take years. It takes years in a baby. We need to get on the road so there are other things for him to think about. This evening was wonderful. Heather's mom planned it?"
"I was sure you'd recognize the artist. Gizmo is the one about to drop, but I'm getting a 'night.' Go to work with Eyes and pitch her on a flat spot as needed more later."
"We've got a 'girl' called Boom coming. He told her he wanted something to... No, he gets to tell what he wanted. She rattled off four chemical formulas and said she could make what he wanted without 'biting' patents but it wouldn't be cheap and it would take two days to get some 'stuff' and get here with it. She's Fowler and Alexis' internet buddy and she's moving here. She's in her early fifties and retired from the Marine Corps as of tomorrow. Evidently, the move is just being rescheduled at an earlier time. You're getting something right out of a comic book, Hulk."
"That name is taken and so is Kelly's Heroes. I just wanted things to make Kelly more comfortable, Leonard. It would be silly not to accept something that will make him safer, but... "
"He couldn't use his body because he despised it. You changed that with your magic touch. In the fairy tales, the sleeping princess awakens and they dance off into happy ever after. In the fantasies, the cursed and crippled prince is suddenly wielding the sword of justice and vanquishing the demons. Watch a lot of Saturday morning cartoons with him, Hulk? It's all in his mind. It's quite possible it almost always has been. They encased him in a pretty body and convinced him he couldn't do anything because it was THEIR body, and they were building it with his family's money so they could keep using his family's money. It began in pain and it never ended. You know that's why Gizmo decided now."
"It's the one place he never had surgery. His diaper and car seat protected him just long enough. There's something physical to it."
"Oh, I agree, but I don't think they could find enough damage to account for his condition except what they DIDN'T know about the brain at the time of the accident. 'Too bad. Brain damage. No change ever.' From that point on, no one touched him as a person until you did. They touched him as a body and spoke of him as a paycheck or a business expense that could only be justified as public relations. He wouldn't have TRIED to move if every move brought pain when others moved him. They were careful not to injure the surgeries, but they weren't worried about discomfort. As magic a touch as in the fairy tales, Hulk. You FELT he was alive and made the world worth seeking with a gentle touch on the prince turned to stone. I know what you watch when you're not watching classes on TV. I've seen you watch a movie every time it's run on a network seven days in a row."
"I couldn't afford a VCR and I'd been waiting for that one to hit TV."
"You're waiting for every one with a magic spell or a spaceship in it. You worked days, so you watched sitcoms and movies."
"He got REAL excited when Star Trek Voyager came on the other night. He'd never seen it before."
"I know people who would consider that the supreme outrage of all that happened to him. Hmm, how about Tank?"
"Well, you pointed out Hulk has been used and it's a natural with Waters."
"Sleep, Leonard. You obviously need it badly."
"Hey, that was the best wince I've gotten out of you in years."
"Leonard, there's a gleam in your eye."
"One of the TV channels is running all of the Batman series starting in about six hours and repeat til Monday. I've got the movies."
"He'll love them."
"Wha' whill I luvuh?"
"I werkedih hardih. See?"
Kelly unclasped his hands and lifted them from his lap. He moved them over the arms of the chair, turned them over, laid them down and then drummed his fingers. All the movements were slow and quite deliberate, but none were shaky or tentative. He giggled. Both Jim and Leonard were staring at him with their mouths open.
"Sef... Sev ven teen yee ears be ying moo ved. Didih it in re ver sih. In sti tink tive saidih couldih movuh. You saidih vi de oh to see. I havuh feltih all movuh. Makuh thatih fee luh andih getuh thatih movuh."
"You didn't practice talking like that or I'd have heard, Kelly."
"Staruh tin guh nowuh oh er I dih bih ee bih et ter. Workedih on movuh oh en ull ee."
"Hulk, he's just starting."
"Oh, I did notice he said that, Leonard. I'm not going to tell him any of it's impossible."
"Yeah, it's working so well, would seem silly to stop just because of that. The what is an old TV show, Kelly. Every episode is being shown and they're all on your schedule."
Suddenly Jim started singing with "Do do, do do, do do... " and Leonard joined in on "Batman." They did it loud enough Gizmo and Eyes heard it over the intercom and joined in for the next "Batman." Kelly had seen ads for the movie on TV, but the 'chorus' and Jim and Leonard's grins told him this was quite something else. Leonard got to sleep after he set his alarm watch and strapped it on Kelly. Kelly smiled and worked on talking. Jim was a light sleeper. Leonard was definitely not.