Once he returned, Richard’s performance at the gym was average. For a human, it was quite good. For Richard, it was the same. Secretly, though, Richard was glad he hadn’t made himself worse. He hadn’t thought much about it at the time, but large-scale changes to his own body were probably very dangerous. Something his friends would likely not fail to remind him of.
Lately, Richard had started sparring with Xevaronians other than Jot. He needed practice against more skill levels, and Hiroshi wasn’t even using the same style as them.
The sparring was going just about normal as well. Then, there was a loud “crack”. Everyone looked over in Richard’s direction. Richard himself looked down at his left arm. “Huh. Interesting.”
Jot immediately hurried over, only to see Richard’s arm hanging limply at his side. “Hmm, what happened?” Jot looked at Hiroshi. Hiroshi shrugged, as if to say it was hard to explain.
Richard spoke. “Well, I just got into an awkward position. That’s probably how it got dislocated.”
Jot nodded as Richard described the move combination. “And?”
Richard looked at his arm. “Well, I think I tried too hard to pull out of it with force. That’s probably what broke it.”
Jot nodded again, then looked at Richard closer. “Did you hit your head?”
“You should be crying out in pain every time you gesture with your arm. Also, stop doing that.”
Richard’s eyes moved down and to the side. He barely stopped himself from grabbing one arm with the other. “Oh, yeah. It hurt a lot so I just reflexively turned it off.”
Jot looked like he would like nothing more than to shake Richard back and forth until some sense got into his head, but he held back on account of his injury. “Time to go to the clinic.”
Richard almost looked surprised to hear that. “Oh yeah, that’s probably a good idea. I’ve never been there conscious before…” On the way, Richard called his father. “Yeah, both broken and dislocated. Can you come? That might be… useful.” Then he turned to look at Jot. “Can you put my shoulder back in?”
“Thanks, that would be great… Jot?”
“I can, but I won’t. If I thought you were otherwise fine, it wouldn’t be a problem. It just takes a little strength. However, there’s something wrong with you besides that. Your arm shouldn’t have broken. No, perhaps none of that should have happened. We need to get it looked at properly.”
Richard slightly grumbled at that.
“Stop moving your arm. You’ll make it worse.”
“It’s fine, I can’t feel it.”
“That’s not the reason!”
Richard took half a step back at Jot’s sudden outburst. “Sorry. I’ve been feeling really weird for the past… entire time you’ve known me.”
In the clinic, Richard also got a comment on his state of consciousness. Then he got his arm in a cast and shoulder put back where it belonged. His lack of reaction had the doctor ask about it.
“He’s highly tolerant to pain,” Jot interjected.
“Yeah, that,” said Richard.
The doctor took some scans of Richard’s arm, then asked, “Is your father here?”
Everyone jumped at the sound of Mr. Smith’s voice.
“I just arrived,” he said by way of explanation.
The doctor took him off to the side and talked with him for a bit, but the only thing Richard heard was his father saying something like “genetic trait”. After they came back, Richard was informed he would have to stay overnight, at the very least. Then, the doctor left.
Mr. Smith took a close look at Richard. Richard felt his eyes move over his body, but also felt that there was something more happening than just the look. “I thought you were in biology classes?”
Richard didn’t really know how to respond to that. “Sure, I am. Why?”
Richard’s father shook his head. Richard was getting that reaction a lot lately. “You’ll probably need to figure it out on your own.”
“Uh, okay. By the way, could you stay here for a while?”
“Sure, is there something you want to talk about?”
Richard had a lot of things he wanted to talk about, but not at this moment. “Actually, can you just… stand there for a while?”
Mr. Smith didn’t even ask for a reason, but nodded.
Richard looked at his broken and healthy arms. They were pretty much the same apart from the obvious. Richard felt the muscles were stronger than his other ones had been, but felt somehow that had been the cause of his current problem. Maybe he’d done it wrong. He looked at his father with his extraneous senses. In fact, he had remembered correctly. He saw nothing different between his and his father’s muscles, besides quantity. Richard briefly thought that his father must be very strong but he didn’t know how to bring that idea up casually. Instead, he observed some more. Then, it hit him. Fortunately, it wasn’t such as literal feeling this time as it could have been. His body wasn’t entirely the same as his father’s. Sure, the muscles were the biggest and most obvious difference, but there were many. The key elements in this case were related to exactly what problems had just occurred. The muscles were strong, indeed. There was no problem there. Instead, it was the rest that was a problem. The muscles were attached to ligaments and bones that weren’t strong enough. Just a part of the system had been changed, but Richard’s current body couldn’t support it. Richard observed that a very small part of his bones were like his father’s slightly different ones. The shape was the same, but they seemed, like the muscles, denser. The tiny parts of Richard’s bones that were “right” were directly connected to the first muscles to be changed. It appeared that this better physiology was spreading on its own, but slower. Although Richard didn’t like it, he decided he shouldn’t mess around with his own body any more for a while. He would observe its progress, and let things happen naturally.
In the morning, the doctor came in and looked at Richard’s arm. After looking at it, he seemed surprised.
“Of course not!” the doctor sighed. “Normal means it will heal up within a few weeks. What else did you expect?”
“A miraculous recovery?”
The doctor shrugged. He seemed to have expected that too. “It looks to be on the path to heal fine, although of course it’s hard to tell after so little time. You’ll have to come back later for another checkup, but for now you can go. Try not to move the arm too much.”
Once Jot showed up, Richard got up and left with him. Standing up, he slightly jostled his arm, and grimaced. Jot smiled slightly.
“You’re back to normal. The pain is there to warn you, after all.”
Richard sighed. “Yeah. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”