The whine of a baby broke through Jet’s pain-filled haze. He stared at the barracks ceiling for a few long minutes, no longer used to any noise besides his own in the room, before rolling off the cot and stumbling upright. Pain stabbed through his hips as he staggered across the room – he hadn’t thought the surgeries could get worse than those first few – and caught himself on the edge of the crib. “Hey.”
The infant – 001, he remembered; they’d changed his number again – quieted. He blinked up at the teenager. I didn’t mean to wake you.
“I wasn’t asleep.” Which might have been true; he was having trouble telling lately. “C’mere.”
I don’t think you should—Oh. Jet had up and cradled close to his chest before 001 could finish the thought. Jet slid down to the floor, back against the crib, and ran his fingers through 001’s hair.
Jet ran his fingers through 001’s hair again, head tilted back. He’d been moving on automatic, following faded memories of helping his aunts and grandmothers care for his baby cousins: babies fussed, they got held. He didn’t have access to milk, even if 001 needed changing he didn’t have any supplies, so that left…
“Ninna nanna, ninna oh, questo bimbo a chilo dò?”
He stumbled over the words, the distance of time mixing with the drugs in his system blurring the lyrics and language, but he thought he got the melody right. 001 had relaxed against his chest, one hand curled clutching Jet’s shirt.
That was nice.
Do you know any more?
Jet cast his mind back, digging through dusty memories. “Yeah, I think so.” He cleared his throat. “Una mariposita, que del cielo bajó…”