Gersten knelt down and bent over the opened faceplate. “Are you all right, Hawks?” he asked.
Hawks L looked muzzily up at him. There was a trickle of blood running out of the corner of his mouth. He licked at it, running his tongue over the bitten places in his lower lip. “Must have been more frightened than I thought, after M drifted away from me and I realized I was in the suit.” He rolled his head from side to side, lying on the laboratory floor. “Barker all right?”
“They’re getting him out of the receiver now. He seems to be in good shape. Did you make it, all right?”
Hawks L nodded. “Oh, yes, that went well. The last I felt of M, he was giving the observation team a verbal report.” He blinked to clear his eyes. “That’s quite a place, up there. Listen — Gersten—” He looked up, his face wrinkled into an expression of distaste as he looked at the man. When he was a boy, and suffering from a series of heavy colds, his father had tried to cure them by giving him scalding baths and then wrapping him in wet sheets, drawing each layer tight as he wound it around Eddie Hawks’ body and over his arms, leaving the boy, in this manner, pinned in overnight. “I — I hate to ask this,” he said, not realizing that his face was turned directly up at Gersten, “but do you suppose the crew could get me out of my suit before they do Barker?”
Gersten, who had at first been watching Hawks with interest and concern, had by now become completely frigid and offended. “Of course,” he said and stalked away, leaving Hawks L alone on the floor, like a child in the night. He lay that way for several moments before one of the technicians who stood in a ring around him realized he might want company and knelt down beside him, in range of the restricted field of vision through the faceplate opening.