|Subject: Chapter 313 - Part 2 (16 and above)
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Date Posted: Monday, November 12, 07:02:20am
In reply to:
's message, "Chapter 307 - Part 1 (16 and above)" on Monday, October 22, 07:10:11am
It was as he was pondering this fact, trying to stop himself from shaking from his battle against nausea and anesthetics, that he heard someone approaching. He still didn't open his eyes, quickly thinking back--hoping his returning memories would tell him something he could use. It was probably his only hope of knowing how to address this newcomer.
Still, this wasn't easy, his physical state--and the lingering effects of the sedatives--not helping. The last thing he could bring back was being in France with Sophie and Ackerman, the woman having somehow managed to get them there and find them the promise of passage across the channel. For at least a week before, he had been starting to grow ever weaker, far more easily tired--the pain in his leg such a daunting constant that he had been increasingly uncertain how to cope. He vaguely recalled giving a last "Thank you" to Sophie--a vast understatement, considering her Moses-like effort in guiding himself and Bill across Europe; his thoughts slid sideways. She was truly an amazing woman. Parting the Red Sea would probably have been child's play to her.
He could hear the footsteps coming closer, a small, feminine murmur accompanying them--making all his efforts far more immediate; his heart nearly stopped, terrified of what he would discover. Whatever might have happened to Sophie and Ackerman, he owed them so much. He just didn't want to find that they had both been sacrificed, if he had been caught.
It was to his immense relief, therefore, to hear a distinctly British voice. "Oh dear. I was afraid of that." He felt firm but gentle hands moving him, leading him to sit up further; it made his head feel a little woozy but not half so bad as it had been at first. "Let me clean that up."
He started to turn toward the woman, inexpressibly thankful that she was both English and apparently concerned for his welfare, but she just turned him back toward the far wall again. "Oh, Lord, no, dear. Don't look." He caught a half-smile out of the corner of his eye, as she turned him away, continuing to clean behind him. "That always makes it worse, doesn't it?"
He had to agree--but that wasn't where his mind was focused at the moment. "Where am I?" he wondered, although he was beginning to suspect the answer. It just seemed far too wonderful to believe he was right.
"Well, you're back on base, aren't you?" she laughed softly. There was a small frenzy of activity behind him--which he was thankful he couldn't see--before she finally let him look at her. Once he did, he saw a slightly-plump, good-humored woman, probably in her early 20s or so. She was smiling at him. Somehow, he managed to return it--utterly amazed, especially given all he had been fearing. He had never been half so grateful to see any woman besides his wife.
She seemed to realize his thoughts, gave a small, pleased laugh--allowing him a moment to try to sum her up. While she didn't seem the type to frown on any man for falling into the "Florence Nightingale Syndrome" of falling in love with his nurse, he suspected that she wasn't actually here for that. Probably a civilian volunteer, she seemed genuinely concerned with him--and he suspected that it wasn't entirely due to the fact that she might once have seen his face glowing before her in the dark.
Michael was more than a little grateful for this fact, letting out a very deep breath. Still, there was much he didn't know. "How did I get here?" Even if it was only a channel, there was still a lot of territory to cover from the last memory he had.
She had fluffed up his pillows, was helping him lean back against them--but the question took the smile off her face. He realized that she probably didn't know the answer, was sorry to have made her look so sad. A happy face had become too entire a rarity to want to waste it now.
She didn't get the chance to try to answer him, however, was interrupted by the presence of a large, sour-looking man coming up behind her. "That's enough, Flo. Leave the patient to rest."
She obeyed immediately, gave the newcomer a brief--and, Michael noticed, far-less-genuine--smile, before turning away with her burden, but the injured man's voice stopped her. "Flo?" She turned back to see him smiling with more humor than he had felt for weeks. "Florence?"
She gave a small shrug. "It's Flora, actually." She caught the doctor's eye, seemed to cringe a little, before starting to hurry away. "I'll be back to change those linens in a little while." But it was clear to Michael that, whatever was to happen, his recuperation would be greatly aided by her good-humor.
The man beside him was another story, his look incredibly dour--bringing the actor back; he didn't bother with frivolities like introductions, went straight to the point. "You're damn lucky you didn't lose that leg," he nodded over toward it--his tone leaving the airman with no doubt as to whom his thanks were apparently due. "I had a devil of a time trying to piece the bone back together." He gave a small snort, his next, minor concession obviously a challenge for him. "You're lucky whoever treated it originally didn't botch it any more than he did."
Michael had no doubt that Stephan hadn't "botched" his aid at all--had certainly done more than was technically possible with what he had available--but there was clearly no arguing with a man such as this. He too became all-business, needing the details. "What will happen now?"
His surgeon gave a small shrug, seemingly unconcerned--his work apparently done. "It'll heal, eventually." His expression didn't change in the least. "So long as you don't expect to do much beyond, perhaps, walking again."
This wasn't an encouraging prognosis, the airman utterly sober--the effects of the anesthetics, thankfully, wearing off. He did his best to cut through this oddly-phrased warning. "*Will* I walk again?" If he couldn't, the results might well be devastating. Even at home, his Nikita would already have one baby to take care of. She certainly didn't need another in her husband.
The possibilities of what might happen to many other parts of his life, including his film career, didn't occur to him at all--only his life with his wife of true importance. Still, he pushed the fear aside a second later, wasn't ready to face it. In many ways, he knew that they were only talking about a broken bone--an injury which shouldn't be a lifetime debilitation. But most people with such injuries had them correctly set early on--and certainly didn't walk across half of Europe on the decidedly shaky results, if they didn't.
It was these truths which had landed him here, his future he had to face. The doctor's expression still didn't change, as he told him the rest. "It's not going to be simple. You'll be on crutches at first. If you're careful and slow about it, you can probably switch to a cane eventually." But he didn't promise him any more than that.
Surprisingly, this wasn't as much of a burden as Michael might have expected. He tried to wiggle his toes, out of the sheer gratitude that he still had them, but the combination of anesthesia dulling sensation--and the pain beginning to win through it, telling him *not* to try that again--made him stop. However little he wanted to return to Nikita as a cripple, he knew it could have been *much* worse. Besides, some small part of him was beginning to hope that he might be seeing her much sooner than he had ever dreamed.
He pursued this silent prayer, knowing how little use he would be to the RCAF after this. "What will happen to me now?" The doctor only looked confused, apparently only inclined to answer the most specific of questions; Michael tried another approach, as admittedly disingenuous as it was. "When will I go back on duty?"
This, to his hidden elation, brought the answer he had hoped for. "You must be joking. You're useless to the war effort now." Part of Michael's mind wondered whether this fact accounted for the doctor's less-than-warm bedside manner, but he had too many other, pressing concerns to follow up on it--the man continuing, as he turned to go. "You'll be discharged from the service in a week or so."
This was, hands down, the best news the airman had had in *months*. Still, he managed to hide his joy, refusing to let the doctor go just yet. "And I'll be going home?"
"If you want," the man shrugged, still walking away. The conversation, as far as he was concerned, was apparently over.
"Wait!" Michael had to call to make him stop--only one, pressing need driving him. The doctor did, with a sigh, reluctantly turn back toward him. Even if the ex-actor wondered what the other man found so important--no other patients evidently here to need his attention--he didn't mention it. "Would you send a telegram to my wife? I want her to know that I'm alright."
This was, without a doubt, his most immediate need--another fear rising within him, as his mind cleared further from the anesthesia. What if the RCAF had already telegrammed Nikita to tell her he was missing--or dead? What if she had started to despair? Dear God. What if . . .?
The doctor's phlegmatic tone broke through his terrors; the words might have seemed caring, coming from someone else. "You don't have to worry. Command decided not to inform anyone of your plane's loss." He turned away once more. "It's not as though she'll think you're dead."
This decision might have seemed callous, but it was all part of the logic of war; Michael was left to mull it over, as his doctor walked away. The loss of the Allied forces' star recruit--in the earliest days of a war which showed no signs of slowing down--wouldn't have done much for public morale. Since no one could expect that a widow--and a Hollywood star, to boot--could keep quiet about such a fact, the RAF's silence was understandable; Michael let out a sigh, wishing. But he would, more than anything, like to let her know that his month or more of silence didn't mean that he was permanently lost.
This desire was understandable, but it didn't go any further at the moment--certainly couldn't, given the state of his leg. Just standing up from this hospital bunk was going to take an effort. And it wasn't as though he were likely to get much cooperation in finding a nearby phone to call her long-distance with.
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