Bound Up and At Loose Ends
It felt good to have solid metal under his feet again, and recycled air had never smelled so fresh. Lestrade would have preferred being back on duty to convalescing, but at least he'd been released to his own quarters on Edinburgh Base. His injuries were healing well, thanks to Doc's quick thinking and outstanding treatment.
There was something perverse, something so very wrong that the doctor had become the patient. Certainly Doc would agree, but he'd not been awake enough to express much of an opinion. At least not while Lestrade was around to hear it. Fucking Conundrum. The war was over and the Conundrum lost, damn it, but those cocksucking drones had just kept coming.
He didn't know he'd made a noise until Marquardson spoke up.
"You're thinking about Doc."
"What gave me away?"
She looked up from where she sat reading status reports, her feet upon on the small metal table that served as desk and eating space for them both in the shoebox of a living space. "The expression on your face. The muttered profanities. The fact that you can't keep your ass in a chair for more than three minutes running despite the fact that Doctor Jones told you take it easy."
Lestrade's good shoulder slumped. The other was still secured with heavy-duty bind against the plasma blast that had taken him out of the battle against the Conundrum reps. He scratched idly at it with his opposite hand.
"Don't scratch," Marquardson chided.
He dropped his hand and glared at her half-heartedly. "I've got nothing else to do but pace and swear and scratch. They won't even let me review combat reports from the battle I bloody well commanded! Arse-licking medical leave bullshit."
"Oh, you poor, wee babe," she replied without sympathy. "Have you tried reading a book? Or you could take up the piano."
She let her feet meet the floor and set aside the reports. "Stop pacing and go to sick bay. See how Doc's doing."
"I'd be in the way."
"Nonsense. You could get yourself seen to while you're there. Maybe they'll let you out of all that bind. You know you'd like to have use of that arm back even a little. Besides all that, I'm tired of you prowling around our quarters like a caged tiger."
"Have you ever seen an actual caged tiger?" he asked, genuinely curious.
She shrugged. "No, but I still say you're doing a fine impersonation. Now scoot! Some of us aren't lollygagging invalids. I've got work to do." She picked the reports.
"You'd choose paperwork over my charming company?" he teased.
"I'm sorry. Are you still here?"
He chuckled and crossed to the bed where he sat down and shoved his feet into his boots. He couldn't be bothered do them up one handed and he wasn't going to ask for help, so he left them loose and simply determined not to fall on his face on his way to the medical bay.
"Love you," he said on his way out the door.
"Love you, too, you sorry whiner," she replied good-naturedly.
Greg grinned to himself as the door closed behind him. It had taken three days after his injury before she'd insulted him. That was when he knew she wasn't scared anymore that she might lose him. It felt good to be back to normal in at least one part of his life.
The trip to sick bay was via the base's maglev train. He savoured every moment as the transport carried him through tunnels of verdant trees and lush foliage. The lungs of the space station he remembered Boffin Stamford calling it. How long ago had that been? A month? A lifetime.
He watched the trees skim past and thought, Sophie and I still haven't had that picnic.
He arrived at the Medical Halt and disembarked along with a pair of orderlies and someone who looked like she was going visiting. Convenient, that, as the woman distracted the desk drudge enabling him to slip past unnoticed.
Ignoring the fact that he really did need to have his injuries seen to, he went straight to Doc's room. He was unsurprised to find Oracle there before him. In fact, he wasn't entirely convinced Oracle hadn't spent the entire time since their return from Earth at Doc's bedside.
He looks exhausted. Has he slept? He must sleep. Mustn't he? I mean, he's just as human as any of us. It was a fact easy to forget when more often than not Lestrade only dealt with him when Oracle was uploading data directly into his brain.
Lestrade waved a hand at him. "Don't get up. How's he been?"
"Improving. He was awake for nearly half an hour earlier."
"Complaining, I hope."
"A little, yes."
"That's good. That's progress."
Oracle quirked a small smile. "It is, yes."
Lestrade crossed good arm over bad and leaned against the smooth white wall. For a while, he simply stood there, sharing the almost-silence with a man he knew well and yet whom he often felt he didn't know at all.
The medical equipment's readouts meant almost nothing to him. He took comfort in the fact that they were running and gathering data. That meant Doc was alive, and that was all he really cared about just then.
The door behind him slipped open and he turned to see Williams. The nurse stopped briefly in surprise.
"Commander," Williams greeted him. "You ought to have told someone you were here."
"Rather than sneaking into a patient's room, you mean?"
"We do like to keep track of who comes and goes." There was a hint of rebuke in the younger man's tone that Lestrade acknowledged with a nod.
"I came to get checked up, actually." He pushed away from the wall with a wince he couldn't quite keep off his face. "I hope this damned shoulder's healed enough to get the bind off."
"Take a seat in exam three. I'll be in to see to you after I'm done here."
"I'll wait here, if that's all right." Lestrade knew he was pushing protocol, but it was worth a shot. Jones would've sent him off straight away. She was young, but she was tough and battle-hardened in her own way. Williams was a gentler sort, and Greg was banking on that with his request.
"Well... Only if that's all right with you, Mr. Holmes?"
Oracle nodded. "Fine."
Williams nodded once and promptly went about his business. He checked readouts, ran scans, adjusted IV drips, and did all those medical things Lestrade was happy he didn't have to keep track of. Give him a blaster and a target any day. Even commanding an entire army was less daunting to him than those little machines that beeped and pinged.
"Good," Williams announced finally, then turned to Lestrade. "After you, Commander."
Greg led the way. Williams paused behind him to say something to Oracle. Greg didn't hear what it was and figured it wasn't any of his business in the first place.
They passed through the main area where Williams gave the desk drudge the hairy eyeball as he marked Lestrade in. They continued into exam room three, which looked exactly like every other exam room in the place, and Lestrade was fairly certain he'd seen all of them by now.
"Do you need help getting your shirt off?" Williams asked. "Or doing up your boots?"
"No. Thanks." It was a challenge every day, getting dressed and undressed. Today, he'd fought his way into a service-issue t-shirt that was a size too big to accommodate the arm bound to his torso. He'd be damned if he asked for help to fight his way out.
"I've got it." It was a struggle, but in the end he won out.
Williams examined the wound, making thoughtful and encouraging noises. "Eighty-four percent mended," he announced, reading the result from the scanner in his hand.
"So I can get out of this now?"
"Yes and no. I'll remove the heavy-duty bind, but it still needs a standard layer to keep out any impurities."
"Oh for fuck's sake. All right. But do you have to pin my arm to my side? I'm going bonkers here."
"That depends on you, Commander." Williams began carefully removing the heavy-duty bind. It was a slow process in deference to the healing flesh underneath.
Lestrade turned his head away. He seriously disliked watching medical manoeuvres being performed, particularly on himself. It was a testament to his respect and affection for Doc that he'd stood there and watched the team that put his friend back together after the drone's strike had felled him. "What do you mean, it depends on me?" he asked for the sake of both distraction and information.
"I can wrap your arm separately from your shoulder, which would allow some mobility. But can I trust you not to over do it in those circumstances?"
Williams' hands froze in place and he pinned Lestrade with a look.
Lestrade could see enough of it to know the nurse didn't believe him. "I'll try. How's that?"
"Hmm." Williams returned to his work, hands deftly removing bind and checking the wounded area. "It's Doctor Watson's orders, you know."
"What? You mean I've been trussed up like a one-winged turkey on Doc's orders?"
"And as he hasn't been available to alter them--"
"That little shit!"
Williams chuckled softly.
Lestrade's eyes narrowed. "Wait. Are you having me on?"
"I'm not, as a matter of fact."
"Then I stand by my statement."
Williams chuckled again. "Look. I'll bind you up with your arm free, but I'm giving you a sling to keep that arm in. You will use it."
"You will because if I hear you haven't, I'm going to restrict your access to Doc's room."
This time it was Lestrade's turn to skewer with a glance. "You wouldn't."
The nurse didn't even flinch. "I would and I will."
A tense silence filled the air between the men. In the end, Lestrade backed down. It was a small price to pay, he told himself. "You're tougher than you look," he said grudgingly.
Williams smiled wryly. "I have to be. You haven't met my wife."
"Tough as plexteel, huh?"
Lestrade snorted a laugh. "I know all about that. All right. Do what you're going to do, and I promise I'll be good."
"That's on record now." Williams tipped his head at the medical recorder.
"You don't miss a thing, do you?"
"I've learned from the best."
"Doc?" asked Lestrade.
They shared a grin.
"Doc," Williams confirmed.