Monday, July 23, 2012

"I'll be fine."

"You're an idiot. That wound is more than a week old and it just keeps bleeding. Where it's located, something could have punctured a kidney or angled down and hit your guts. I'm just a field medic, you need to see a real sawbones." Lily planted her feet and glared. "Or you can do nothing and drop over dead a month from now. Cause of death - stupidity."

Marc turns to glare at Addley, encountering nothing more than a raised eyebrow. He switches to Andy. "Don't look at me, bro, she's the closest thing we have to a doctor. If she says you need to see a doctor, see a doctor."

"Look, we can do this one of two ways," Lily says, eyes hot. "You can either go to the doctor or I can beat the hell out of you and make you go to the doctor. Your call."

Marc's lips twitch and Lily glares back. It's not an idle threat - for all that Lily is five-foot-nothing and probably weighs less than a hundred pounds, her strength is augmented by chaos energy and she's a helluva lot stronger than she looks. As the only woman in the group, she could make his life miserable by passing him over when she chooses her sex partners. After a month, he'd do anything she asks, just to get back in her bed.

So he might as well do what she says now and spare himself a beating and enforced celibacy.

"Fine." He glares, making it clear he's doing this under duress. "Find out who Ob and his people use and set me up an appointment."

Rowan is still up at the Manse, caring for Tannr and Ob. That night Marc makes his first visit to the gloomy old pile, escorted by Stoney. Gnimaor is playing doorman tonight and he lowers the wards when they're within half a dozen steps of the gate. A sylph takes over then, leading the two to the infirmary.

Rowan is there, already gloved, with a lab coat over her jeans and tee. "Take off your shirt and have a seat,"she says without preamble. "I'll be with you in just a minute."

She speaks quietly with Stoney, updating him on Ob and Tannr's conditions, then turns back to Marc. Her eyes flare briefly as she sees his naked chest. "Well," she says lightly, "this job does have some perks."

"Oh? What would that be?"

"I get to see lots of good-looking guys without their shirts." She winks. "And sometimes in less than that."

Marc stares, then laughs heartily. "Well, you have a sense of humor at least."

"Comes with the territory," she says, examining the wound first with a high-intensity lamp and then with her penlight. "Seeing people torn up inside and out, you either learn to laugh or you crack. Well, this is interesting... looks like there's something still in here."

"Can you get it out?"

"Probably. Lie down on the table, will you? Make yourself comfortable as you can... you need to lie still for me."

Marc arranges himself on the too-narrow table while Rowan busies herself with the equipment she needs. "Okay - Marc, is it? This is going to be cold and it might sting, just for a sec." There is the hiss of an aerosol and his skin goes numb. "Okay, now you shouldn't feel much more than pressure... just lie still... there!"

She leans over to look into his eyes. "How's it going? Any pain?"

"No, I'm fine."

"Good. Now we're getting to the nitty-gritty. Just lie still for me and I'll give you a lollipop when we're done." Rowan moves the lamp to focus on the affected area, a deep cut just above the kidney. "You got lucky. An inch lower...." She probes with a pair of long-handled forceps. "Okay... well, you're stuck in there good and tight, aren't you? Easy... easy...." She finds the angle she needs and slowly draws the object into the light. "Ick."

"Something the matter?"

"Just that you've got a nice little infection going where this thing was lodged." She brings the object over where he can see it. It's a steel square, rusty and grimy, garnished with blood and pus. "Want a souvenir?"

"I'll pass."

"Okay, now I need to clean this up and then the worst of it will be done. Stay still...." She cleans and irrigates the wound, repeating until she's satisfied, then packs and dresses the wound.

"You'll need to pack and dress the wound every day for about a week. Come back and see me then and I'll see how things go."

Marc tries to nod, but he's still lying flat. "Oh, sorry... you can sit up now."

By the time he's seated, she's over at the cabinets, putting together a package that rattles.

"Here," she says, handing him a bottle."One a day, every day till they're gone."

"What do I owe you?"

 "Just take better care of yourself. The man who owns this house is paying for everyone's treatment, which is mostly just the meds."

 "Damn good of him." He searches her eyes. "Are you sure there's not something I can do to repay you?"

"Actually, there is. Pull down your pants."

His eyebrows arch. "Excuse me?" She grins and holds up a hypodermic. "Tetanus shot. Drop 'em and bend over."

The injection done, Rowan tells him he can get dressed. For the first time he notices the signs of stress, the fine lines around her eyes and mouth, and he decides.

"Look, how about you let me take you to dinner sometime? No pressure... just a chance to get away from things for awhile, maybe de-stress a little."

She studies his face seriously, then one corner of her mouth quirks up. "I'll think about it."

"Okay, I'll be bunking down at the Tavern if you decide to take me up on it." He scribbles his cell number on the back of a prescription pad.

She hands him a card. "There are numbers here if you run into any complications. The phones here are manned day and night - don't hesitate to call."

He smiles when he sees that one of the numbers is written in ink - and out to the side, one word.


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