Chapter VII: Decisive Meeting (Part 6)

Aden broke through the surface when he was far away from the starboard side. If he had not had known any better, he would have said that the unconscious and tied girl had an affinity for the ocean. And it was not in a good way.

As he swam over to the hull of the Phoenix, he found the rope that Leo had prepared for them when they went with a single drifter to rescue the Lodger. When he grasped the rope in his hand and supported the girl in his right side, he realized how difficult it would be to climb up without the use of both hands. Slipping down the rope, he sighed before letting go of the girl and swimming underneath her. He waited for her figure to float over him, and he maneuvered so that she was on top of his shoulder.

He swam back to the surface and attempted the rope again, and with better luck, he climbed farther and farther up. It was when he reached the rail that hands came to pull him up and over.

“Lay her out on her back and I will check her breathing and heart rate,” Marklin instructed Aden as the male ripped the breathing supplement he had on his nostrils off his face.

Laying the girl down, he looked at her features before checking the rhythmic beatings of her heart. One of the first things they learned with drowning cases was that there is a higher likelihood of adults to suffer bradycardialike symptoms such as slowing of the heart rate under fifty beats per minute. Marklin immediately stood up and rushed downstairs into the cabins to get his medical kit, telling Aden, “Open her airway and check to be sure there is nothing constricting her throat.”

Doing as he was instructed, he reached for her neck and craned it delicately back. He was plagued with flashbacks of Charie unmoving on the deck, and like before, the girl was triggering the memory to arise.

It had only been two months since their departure from Chiariotti, but everyone was unnerved by the murder of the android. Placing his index and thumb around her chin, he slightly opened her lips to allow airflow to circulate. The male had hoped that she would start breathing on her own, but like the first time he rescued her, she was not breathing. Panic was coursing through his veins once again as he saw the bloody Charie appear before his eyes.

Shaking his head of the vision, he suddenly realized why the vision appeared. Her chest wasn’t moving nor was she gaining any of her color back. Leaning his ear down over where her heart was, he listened for any possible heartbeat.

“She’s not breathing,” Aden stated aloud, and Marklin burst through the cabin doors with an alerted face.

Quickly, the male with glasses scrambled over to Charlotte’s side and checked for a pulse in her wrist. Marklin counted the heart rates in his head and was about to instruct Aden to start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) but paused when Aden had maneuvered both his hands into the interlaced position above her sternum. Aden didn’t bother to ask what to do next since he had done it a year prior.

Aden performed three to five consecutive compressions into her chest before leaning over to breathe air into her parted lips. After the third time of giving her air, he leaned his head over her chest to listen for anything. When nothing happened, he pulled back and began pumping her chest right above her heart once more.

“I’m not having you die again, you stupid girl. Not again.”

He repeated the cycle for another two to three times before there was finally a response. The girl jerked up slightly, finally breathing air on her own as water gurgled past her lips. Tyler Marklin turned her head to the side so that she didn’t choke on the water she brought back up. “You never told me you knew cardiopulmonary resuscitation,” he said in amazement while Aden leaned back into the bulwark.

“You learn lots of things when you become a captain of a ship.” He reached a hand forward to grab a strand of her wet auburn hair. He played with it between his fingertips before immediately dropping it to the deck’s board, feeling a slight chill run through his body.

Tyler nodded at Aden before getting up. “I guess we didn’t need the first-aid kit!” he replied with relief and got up. He began thinking that he would retrieve a couple of blankets. “I’m going to retrieve some blankets downstairs for you and her. It would be terrible if you two got sick!”

Aden stared at the haunting image of the girl lying on the deck; it was just like Charie two months prior. Memories of her hazel eyes haunted his dreams at night, screaming at him to protect her this time. He was lucky that it was an android, but this girl before him was the real thing. He needed to protect her, which was a strange obsession he took up only after he started to remember his past through writing letters to her.

Charlotte opened her eyes slowly, looking through the haze to see the familiar emerald eyes that haunted her in her memory and dreams. Thinking that this too must have been a dream, Charlotte rose her hand up to reach for his cheek, only he was too far away for her to touch.

Aden was bemused by her action and merely stared at her, past his dripping bangs.

“I’ll keep them safe . . .” she murmured softly, remembering his vulnerability in her first dream a year ago. “I’ll protect you.” Then Charlotte gave her brightest smile despite her aching lungs and bruised face.

Aden quirked his eyebrow before shaking his head; her face looked like it had seen better days with a boorish purple and blue mark forming at the corner of her lip. “Dummy, you couldn’t protect anything even if you tried.”

And she just smiled, a pitiful smile from a waterlogged girl, but it was the same smile from Charie. Or was it her actual smile that Charie imitated.

“Then I’ll keep trying until I can. You can rely on me too, you know.”

She fell asleep with the drop of her hand, and without thinking, he reached out to catch it. He could feel the life in her wrist compared to his own and closed his eyes to reflect back. It was a small gesture in itself to offer protection to someone else despite their own problems. Shaking the water droplets from his hair, he looked up at the sky where the stars and moon beamed brightly.

“Don’t say stupid stuff if you can’t stay awake to hear the reply back, dumb girl.” He moved himself away from the bulwark to go beside her.

While he could wait for Marklin to come with blankets, he figured it would be smarter to take her into the cabins downstairs himself. Lifting the girl in his arms, he dripped water all the way down the companionway to where the cabins were located underneath the deck.

۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞

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