It was two more days, before Ceram commed Kim with a significant update on Cort’s condition.
“His brain scan is normal, Pledge Mother,” Ceram clicked. “He may still have emotional outbursts, but I think the worst is behind him.”
“He can be around women again?” Kim asked.
“Maybe not you, but most women, yes.”
Kim couldn’t imagine that she had any tears left, but more ran down her cheeks as she said, “And Dalek?”
“And Dalek, Pledge Mother,” Ceram clicked. “And your surprise. But I am sure there will be an emotional display then. I suspect that one will be genuine though.”
An hour later, Cort was showered and ready for his day. Ceram had confined him to the ship, but he could work again. He donned a FALCON and left the medical bay for the first time weeks.
He walked to his quarters, where he found Kim and Dalek waiting for him. The boy jumped up and ran across the room. Two feet from his dad, he launched himself into the air and Cort caught him.
Cort feigned a fall to the floor and rolled around with Dalek for a minute before Kim released the wolves who joined in the fray. It was several more minutes before Cort sat up with tears in his eyes. His FALCON was covered in hair and slobber, and Dalek stood in front of him and said, “You have to stand up, Poppa.”
Playing along, Cort stood up and said, “What next, sir?”
“Marine, you will wait here until I bring your grandpa.”
Cort looked at Kim, who only smiled as Dalek disappeared into Cort’s office. A moment later, he came back holding the hand of a man in a World War I uniform. The man came to attention, saluted Cort, and said, “Corporal Reed Clement Addison, Second Squadron, Third Balloon Company, American Expeditionary Force, reporting for duty, sir.”
Cort would have recognized Reed Addison in a gunny sack. A picture of the man had been on the mantle of Cort’s childhood home his entire life. Cort’s eyes began to water as he returned the salute of a man he had always called Clem, then he stepped forward and hugged his great-grandfather.