WHO: Ezra (Levi) and Zoe WHEN: September 20th WHERE: Zoe’s workshop WHAT: Fitting WARNINGS: None STATUS: Complete
“Okay… there we go… go ahead and stand, it should support your weight.” Zoe stood back, from Levi as she finished securing the prosthetic. She was already making mental notes about redesigning the belt to make it easier and more secure. For the time being it was just adhoc since she just had the frame of the leg done.
The frame was sturdy but only hinted at the final project. Made of three main parts; the foot, hooking at the ankle, the calf and the small knee joint. But the important part was making sure the height was right. “Now keep in mind it may feel a little loose on you leg, but that’s okay, There will be more built inside, and it’s always easier to make smaller than bigger.”
Zoe watched the former soldier as he stood there, hoping she wasn’t blushing anymore, or that he hadn’t seen her blush or her hands shaking a little with nerves as she’d helped secure the leg. She’d tried to keep her mind on the professional, but it almost felt like an intimate action- and she’d never touched a guy’s leg like that- or leg at all before. “I should be getting the processor and the motors I need next week.”
Getting a new everyday leg was exciting for him. Most of what the military had done was bare minimum. But he was thankful for it. Now he had noticed Zoe’s blushing. But Ezra wondered if she could see that he was trembling a little. He never let anyone outside of himself or medical staff get that close to what was left of his right leg.
He kept a hand on the table he had been sitting on as he stood on the prototype leg. “Yeah, a little loose. Used to the suction aspect.” Ezra shook his head. Learning to balance with a different leg on was always a challenge. He didn’t want to over compensate with his left leg and risk strain or injury.
“Yea, there will be a cover and padding in the socket, once all the innards are in.” She said, stepping up to him. “There will be a motorized joint in the knee and ankle, to allow for more fluid movements.” She explained gesturing to where he has to look. “How does the height feel though. If it’s too big or small I can add to or remove from the bumper at the bottom.” She’d put a small bit of foam at the spot where his knee rested in the sleeve, it gave her measurement on how thick the casing needed to be- or if the entire frame needed to be enlarged or shrunk. Thankfully his measurements had been pretty accurate.
“Good, good.” Ezra looked Zoe in the eye and then followed her gesturing as she spoke. “The height is pretty good. Balancing is a careful thing. Do I look like I’m slouching?” At times he needed someone else’s opinion. The Frenchman wasn’t one to complain a lot. He had learned to adapt quite a bit. His fingers hovered over the table’s top, still working a little on his equilibrium.
Zoe shook her head. “No, listing a little to the left.” She giggled. “Which is to be expected.”
She grabbed up her tablet and tapped open a program. “So, I was thinking of incorporating a socket attachment, but it would involve a bit of surgery, if you’re up for it.” She showed him the schematics on the tablet. There was a female port in the leg where the leg would hook into. Kind of like plugging headphones into your computer. “It would allow me to design the straps to be more weight bearing to ease the stress on your leg instead of having to worry about that and keeping it stable.” The tablet also showed a few concepts of straps. “I’m using a light weight carbon material, but some parts- like the motors- are still a bit heavier.”
She just had to focus on the technical part and not the fact that he kept making eye contact with her. Pretty eyes…
He tilted his head a little and nodded.
Looking at the schematics on Zoe’s tablet, Ezra frowned a little. Surgery. He wasn’t a fan. And with what he had heard about residents being mistreated, guards being found dead, and more recently a resident found dead and apparently with signs of being in a hospital or laboratory environment, the veteran was not too comfortable with the idea of being unconscious in a medical setting.
He was unsure about this, but he liked Zoe’s enthusiasm. “I...don’t know,” Ezra spoke, his French accent a little heavier for a moment and then settled into his usual slightly blended voice. “It looks great, don’t get me wrong.”
“Something to think about.” She said, setting the tablet down where he could still look at it. “There’s one doctor I work with a lot on stuff when I need medical help for people. They’re really nice, but I know surgery is a big step, even something relatively minor like this.” Relatively because it wasn’t invasive but not completely because it did involve drilling a small hole in the bone. “The other alternative are extra supports.” She pointed to one of the designs on the tablet. “They’ll be blinded tighter here, and here for stabilization, but might not be the most comfortable. I’m still exploring other options though.” She explained, not wanting to overwhelm or force him into a decision.
Zoe tucked some blonde hair behind her ear as she moved to his leg and checked the frame. “Do you think you can try to put your weight on your right for me for a moment?” She asked.
“Yeah,” he frowned a little. If it involved drilling into the bone, Ezra knew it would be quite painful. “We can try both. And yes, but when have any of the previous or my current prostheses have been completely comfortable?” He usually took his prosthesis off only at bedtime or when he showered. The amputee had become comfortable and practiced in hopping on his left leg.
“Yes, I think so,” he replied and reached on his left hand but stopped. “Mind if I?” Ezra motioned as he let his hand hover above Zoe’s right shoulder.
“Doesn’t mean it can’t be.” Zoe commented matter of factly. “And I can make it better than what you’re used to.” She was proud of her work and the thought that she’d give someone something not perfect- or that wouldn’t be as perfect as possible was unacceptable in her mind.
She furrowed her brow in confusion and then noticed his hand. “Oh yea, sure. Whatever you need to keep your balance.” She insisted, feeling an apprehensive tinkle run down her back at the thought of his hand in her shoulder. Focus.
Zoe looked back down to the leg as Levi did as she asked, trying not to think about him touching her as she made a mark on a couple parts of the frame- areas that have ever so slightly and would need support. Others wouldn’t be able to see it, but she just knew once he’d put his weight on it that those places were weaker. Her powers could be very confusing sometimes.
Nodding, Ezra sighed. “I appreciate everything you are doing to help me.” He was sincere and knew it took a smart mind to construct and modify things like this.
“Thank you,” he smiled softly and rested his left hand on her shoulder, but was careful not to put too much pressure on her. Ezra thought Zoe was beautiful - both inside and out. He would keep this professional.
Watching her, the Frenchman noted how precise she was in finding where she made the marks.
“Okay, you’re good.” She said, letting him shift his weight. “I think we can take this off and get your normal put back on.” Zoe would let him, not wanting to invade his space again, and gettin off was easier than on. “And it’s no big.” She shrugged. “It just keeps me busy- so really you’re doing me the favor.” She sat back on her stool, letting him take his time. “If I wasn’t working on this, or one of my other projects, I’d be looking for something to do to keep busy.” Like when she’d created her robot friend. “So it’s better to do something that’s useful than something that not.”
Didn’t hurt that she got to see the cute smile- Focus. He’s probably taken or gay. And definitely much older. Zoe tucked her hair behind her ear again, “And it’s fun making something I’ve not made before.”
Nodding, he gently let go of her shoulder and moved over to the table where he sat down again unfastened the velcro of the pant leg to expose all of the prototype leg and took it off. He gently handed it to her as he listened. Then he adjusted the black sleeve he wore on his stump when wearing a prosthesis. It wicked away the moisture and reduced friction that often led to blisters. “It sounds like you have quite the restless and intricate mind.” Ezra smiled.
“I wish I had your focus.”
Zoe couldn’t help but laugh a little. “Yea, that’s one way to put it. It’s my gift. Like seriously, my power.” She admitted. Not a lot of people asked about her powers or inquired on that sort of stuff. Kyrie had. “I was always smart, but when I developed ‘powers’, I sort of just got better.” And even more socially inept. “I can’t forget stuff. It’s kinda like a computer up here.” She tapped her temple. “I also sort of just know stuff about machines and how they work and stuff.” She shrugged. “It’s hard to explain. And isn’t as nice as you probably think it is.”
“Mmm, it sounds tiring. And probably not too terrible. Do...you sleep?” Ezra asked as he sat there letting his stump ‘breathe’ (which was something he often did). Many times he’d have phantom pains of the rest of the leg being there but not in a good way. Closing his eyes, he breathed and remembered those times. Then he opened his eyes to catch Zoe’s.
“Yes I sleep.” She laughed lightly, shaking her head slightly. “I’ve learned to cope most times. Does cause issues sometimes when-“ Her eyes caught his and she looked away a bit shyly, blushing slightly. “No powers are perfect.” Zoe shrugged slightly.
Not perfect. Especially when memories decided to reply I’ve real life. Like a life size movie. Every moment like she was experiencing it again exactly got it had happened. Thankfully she hadn’t had any that day. And she’d also gotten good at hiding it when she wasn’t completely caught off guard. She could be having a flashback and he’d never know.
“Good, good.” Ezra grinned. “Coping is something I guess all of us with abilities must do.” His own abilities were both beneficial and troublesome. He may have not come to the island if it were not for a horrifically vivid nightmare where he had only enhanced a storm off the coast of Washington State, the same storm that hit this very island a while back.
“I’m just happy when I can help others to manage theirs.” Zoe replied as she leaned on the table a little, trying to look casual. She wasn’t good or used to casual conversations. “Even if my own gift really isn’t controllable- though I guess one might argue that it’s not something that can even be controlled.”
“I hope it doesn’t cause you pain, Zoe,” he spoke as he looked over at her. Ezra had accidentally shocked himself the one or two times he had harnessed some lightning while trying to take shelter from a sudden thunderstorm.
She shook her head. “Not really. I get headaches sometimes. I used to black out when too many memories would try to replay-“ That’s what caused her to be found to be a mutant and brought to the island. “But that hasn’t happened in a while. But not like some people. Do yours hurt you?” Zoe asked, wondering if that prompted his concern.
Listening, Ezra nodded. “I used to get headaches. But my abilities don’t really hurt me. I guess I haven’t used them enough to stress me in a while.” He shrugged as he found it safer to not let on about his abilities.
“I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have my gifts turned off. How much of a difference it would make. Or if I had control over what I could and couldn’t remember.” Zoe shrugged. “But wondering doesn’t do anything really.” She found herself glancing at him as she tucked her hair again.
“At least I kinda kick ass at most trivia games- well unless they are mostly pop culture. Then I’m a bit in the dark.” Zoe tried to shift the tone to something less weighty- she wasn’t really good at that.
“Maybe one day you will be able to control them,” Ezra nodded and smiled softly. He tried to stay positive most days. Better to be positive for others. It was harder to do it for himself.
“I think you kick ass at this stuff,” he replied as he gestured to the lab and the prototype prosthesis.
Zoe was just not going to stop blushing thanks to the compliments. “Nice to be good at something. Just understand machines better than people.” She admitted with a shrug.
“Yeah. I haven’t found the thing I’m good at yet.” Ezra shrugged as he reached over for his ‘normal’ prosthesis and put it on. There was always a little bit of discomfort, but he got used to that. After hours of wearing it, he did get tired. But so was the process of being an amputee.
“I’m sure you have, you just don’t realize it yet.” She smiled softly. “What did you do before the island?” Zoe inquired, watching him not what he was doing.
“Mmm, I was a photographer.” Ezra replied as he finished putting on his ‘leg’, smoothed the pant leg, and closed off the velcro.
“Hmmm…” She thought. “Not really a demand for that here.” People didn’t really have need for pictures and it didn’t seem like many wanted to remember the island. She wasn’t sure how the guards would feel about it either. Though… “Though we do get a stipend, so it’s not like you -have- to work. You could just capture life on the island.” The good and bad. “Assuming you can get a camera.”
“Maybe,” he nodded and stood to make sure he had his prosthesis secure and balanced as much it could be. “I was able to bring my camera. But I don’t really want to do any photography here right now. I know I can cook decently and I saw there was a diner in the Marketplace.”
“Someone who can cook is always a nice commodity.” Zoe laughed a little. “My brother’s a cook. Actually they pulled him to work in the barracks as a cook. It’s kinda his gift.” She held a hand out almost instinctively to make sure he was balanced. More as a mechanic concerned about her work than anything. “How’s the balance? Did the adjustments we made last time help at all?” She inquired. Just looking at it she knew it was in fine working condition, but that didn’t mean he could tell a difference.
“I haven’t cooked much more than myself, but I’d like to try. Oh, that’s amazing.” He smiled and reached out to take Zoe’s offered hand. Feeling how he distributed the weight between his left leg and the prosthesis, Ezra breathed. “It’s pretty good. Perhaps better. Yes, it helps.” Then he took a step, leading on the prosthesis and nodded. “Good, better.”
“I mean everyone is a better cook than me, but it’s actually his gift apparently. He found out he was a mutant when he came here and apparently his food has a healing aspect to it.” Zoe shared.
She managed not to blush when he took her hand, her mind on work, not the cute guys hand in hers. “I’m glad. And hopefully the next visit, you’ll have a brand new, higher quality leg to leave on.”
“That sounds like quite a gift.” He smiled. “Better than the dangerous gifts.”
Ezra was polite, professional not thinking too much of holding Zoe’s hand. She was a beautiful and smart young woman, yes. “Hopefully. Apologizes for not liking that connector idea.”
Zoe shook her head. “No, I understand. Believe me if I had the option I don’t know what I’d do. I mean logically I know it would allow for the best hold, but knowing there are other options that aren’t as invasive.” She nodded. “But then again I’m also just not a fan of hospitals.”
She took her hand back and tucked some hair behind her ear. “Maybe I’ll see you around, Levi. Outside of the lab.” She laughed lightly. The chances were slim that seeing someone outside of work meant leaving her apartment.
He nodded. “I’m not a fan of hospitals either. Had enough pain and discomfort. But hopefully the other options will work.”
Letting go of Zoe’s hand, Ezra gathered up his jacket and nodded. “Perhaps. I should be around the Marketplace.” He smiled.
“I’m there for food sometimes. Or to trade away the ingredients from my rations for meals.” Or she did before Adam had come to the island. Recently she’d been giving him her ingredients. Zoe really was a failure at normal human functions like basic cooking skills. “At least the stuff AC doesn’t want.”
“Good, good. I like to sit with a coffee or tea and watch people go by. Yes, boring, I know.” Ezra smiled softly. He was sure Zoe was much more capable than he was at many normal human things. “I usually give most of my rations to my cousin.”
“Oh I don’t. I tend to go and get home as soon as possible.” She shrugged slightly. “Machines have always been easier for me to understand than people. Facts and stuff over feelings.” Zoe admitted- unsure why she was embarrassing herself like that. “So, I tend to normally avoid risking random interactions with people- I’m not always sure how to act.”
“Being outside is better for me. With the time I was kept inside recovering, four walls became stifling.” Ezra described. Then he smiled at her. “I think you’re interacting with me quite well. At think I’m still a person, am I still one?” He tried joking as he gestured to his prosthetic leg.
Zoe nodded, understanding. She smiled shyly at him. “On your way to cyborg I think.” She joked. “And thanks. Talking to someone I’m working with is different than… any other situation. I do have a friend who’s been helping me. She grew up sort of in a strange circumstance like I did. And of course now that AC is here, he was always the social one of us.”
“Mmm, wasn’t there a show about a woman who was ‘bionic’. I remember watching when I was still learning English. You’re welcome. Well, it is a good thing. Oh? Well, I think we’re all the best at something.” Ezra smiled as he shifted his balance a little to delay any muscle ache.
“Something like that.” She nodded with a laugh, choosing not to go into the difference between bionic and cybernetic. “Well, I shouldn’t keep you any longer.” He probably had things to do and people to see. He struck her as the kind of guy who was popular- like her brother. Or at least someone who used to be. “Thank you for coming for the fitting.”
Machinery and technology was Zoe’s arena. So Ezra smiled. “It’s no problem. I appreciate the time you have given for me to be here.” He didn’t have much to do. Looking after his sister and observing people were his activities. “No...no...thank you for agreeing to work on this project for me.”
“Always happy to have a guinea pig.” She joked.
Oh god, had she just made an animal cruelty joke to him? Did she just insinuate that she wanted to experiment on him? Keep experimenting on him?
Zoe slowly walked to the door as she took a moment to overthink her attempt at a joke.
He blinked, not letting on that he wasn’t worried about the joke at all.
Ezra followed Zoe over to the door and smiled. Stopping beside her, he offered his right hand for her to shake.
“I mean a project that is different and I can run to completion. Something that’s not assigned, but I can choose to do.” She clarified.
She shook his hand with a nod. “Take care. And if you need any repairs, you know how to find me.”
“Of course,” he nodded.
Shaking Zoe’s hand firmly but gently, Ezra smiled. “You as well. Thank you. I appreciate it.” Slowly he let go of her hand, opened the door, and slipped out of her lab.