So... This is how Gerald's parents met. And annoyed each other. :P
I love them so much. I actually already started writing a continuation of this scene. Send help. o.o
Cold air burned its way through Jennine's lungs and she gave an involuntary shiver. A tiny smile twisted the corner of her mouth at the fumes escaping her nostrils and forming tiny clouds in front of her face. She remembered being a small child, huffing in people's faces and pretending she was a dragon. It drove her father mad. Repeating the act as an adult, after one particularly cold night of drinking, had her entire unit addressing her as 'fearsome dragon knight' for the good part of a year as well. Both were equally fond memories and solidified her belief that winter was, in fact, the best season of the year.
Entering the Castle from the courtyard didn't improve the temperature, but the narrow halls did create some illusion of warmth. Jen straightened her stance, no longer feeling the need to huddle in her cape. She let the white fabric loose and it swayed behind her back, catching the wind current invading from the doorway. The halls were empty and she was grateful for that. If one of her comrades saw her leaving a simple display spar in her current state they'd never let her forget. She might take some pride in being the girl who gets drunk and acts like a dragon on occasion, but no one could say she wasn't the best fighter in her squad and if it was up to her no one ever would.
Jen stopped and frowned at the closed door. She had never needed to enter the Healer station before. She'd needed medics on occasion when she was a recruit, but she'd never been injured to the point of having to be sent to a White Shadow. It felt a bit extreme really... Was just a little bump in the head. Just a little slash on her palm. She could probably handle that herself.
The sound of dripping liquid broke through her thoughts and she looked down at her slashed hand with a frown. The cloth she'd used as a makeshift bandage was soaked and dripping blood onto the stone floor. "Okay, maybe not." Jen sighed in resignation and pressed her left hand to the door to push it open.
The Healers' station was a large room consisting of a small office-like area, an examination area, and a section hidden behind a white curtain meant for patients who required an overnight stay. The place was void of life save for a young man seated behind the large oak desk, face buried in a book. Whenever Jen thought of the White Shadows she imagined them as cranky old men; because granted, the few she met had been, but this one looked about her age. Half his face was squished into his hand as he leaned on it and his light brown hair was disarrayed as though it had been repeatedly disturbed by nervous hands. Probably not the best of times to be concerned with that, but she wouldn't deny the word 'cute' did cross her mind right before the world started to spin out of control. "Wh-whoa. Oh, shit."
Jen tried to cling to the doorframe for support, but missed it and stumbled forward, landing painfully on her right knee. Her little scene must have drawn the healer's attention because, next thing she knew, she'd been pulled up from the floor and seated on the examination table. She leaned forward, put her head between her knees and took a few deep breaths, trying to keep her mind from shutting down. Healer or not, the thought of being unconscious in front of some stranger didn't appeal to her at all.
"Do you get hit on the head a lot?"
Jen slowly lifted her head and looked at the healer, unsure of whether he was trying to imply something with that. The man's expression was serious and it seemed like he was legitimately asking. "No. Why?"
"I didn't have to tell you to do that. Please hold still, I'll be right back."
"Oh," Jen mumbled. Twins her head was fuzzy. She felt so stupid. "I have training... Uhm... Field medic..."
She watched him go through a large cabinet behind the desk and pile a bunch of supplies in his arms. Bandages and several bottles of things she imagined would sting horribly in a minute or two. "I see," he mumbled. He arranged the supplies on the examination table next to her. "Did they not teach you how to make bandages during said training?" It sounded more like a scolding than a question and he didn't seem to be expecting an answer. The healer simply proceeded to unwrap the cloth and inspect the diagonal slash on her palm. "That cloth wasn't even clean."
He snorted. "Not yet, but wait for it." Once again he moved away, discarding the bloody cloth onto a bucket in the corner of the room. He dragged a wooden stool closer to the examination table and then a wash basin, propped on a stand. He sat down on the stool and held her hand over the wash basin, pouring some water over it in generous amounts, the liquid pooling red on the metal bowl. That alone had stung badly, but nothing close to whatever the next thing was. It burned like hellfire.
"Ah! Son of a motherfucker..." Jen hissed in pain and frowned when she thought she saw a smirk on his face. "So glad you're enjoying this, you ass."
"Marshall." He muttered, dousing her hand with more water, which alleviated the sting from what she now assumed was some sort of disinfectant. "If you must call me something, I'd prefer you use my name."
"Marshall... That's a very distinct name."
Marshall set aside needle and thread and his eyes rose to meet hers for the span of a few seconds. His eyes were odd. While his right iris was mostly brown and had only a couple of small sections colored a dark green, his left eye was almost split in half between the two colors. Jen had never seen anything like that in her life. It was absolutely stunning.
"Sectoral heterochromia," Marshall mumbled. He was watching her from the corner of one eye while disinfecting the needled with the same burning liquid he used on her cut. "It's when areas of the iris contain two or more different colors. It can happen on one or both eyes and may be hereditary, caused by injury or by illness," he recited. "Hold still." The warning was followed by the first stab of the needle to her skin. "Mine happened during my Awakening."
Jen only grimaced when the needle broke through the skin of her palm, it hurt, but only for a moment, and she wondered if the needle had been treated with some kind of numbing agent. She looked up at the healer and saw his expression had changed after mentioning his Awakening. While she had been born with no magical gifts herself, she knew enough Enlightened to know it was a sensitive topic. "I didn't mean to stare, just... I've always been a bit jealous of enlightened folk. Such pretty eye colors on some of you," she smiled.
"Your eyes are pretty," Marshall stated, not looking away from his work.
"Are they?" Jen was genuinely surprised at the compliment, her smile widening a bit.
Marshall paused and took a moment to steady his hand before resuming the stitchwork. "Yes. And if you want me to do this right, please stop distracting me."
The woman laughed, unable to hold back a little snort from escaping at the end of it. "Oh, I do apologize, sir, for distracting you with my pretty eyes."
Marshall once again paused, lowering his head further than it was necessary to focus on the stitches. "Please," he repeated.
Jen's smile softened and the playfulness faded from her expression once she realized he was genuinely uncomfortable. That was far from her intention so she nodded along and fell silent, watching Marshall make quick work of the remaining stitches with literal surgical precision. It was impressive, to say the least. Once the stitches were in place he ran his thumb across her palm, it tickled and her fingers twitched on reflex.
"Was that painful?"
"No." Jen was the one to lower her head this time. She could feel warmth rise to her cheeks and desperately wanted it hidden.
The answer was followed by an uncomfortable moment of silence. Marshall occupied himself with wrapping the stitched cut in a thin layer of bandages. Once the work was complete he stood and pushed the stool and the wash basin away. Jen took this to mean they were done and started to push herself up from the examination table. The healer startled and immediately pushed her back down.
"Don't move," he scolded.
"I feel fine." Jen shot the man a stubborn glare. "I'm no longer bleeding. I can go back to work."
Marshall didn't even dignify her protests with a proper response. The healer moved closer, now standing over the sitting Knight, and placed his hands on each side of her face. He stared into her eyes for a very long moment, the expression on his face unreadable. After a moment he tilted her head to the side and leaned forward for close inspection.
Jen snorted in aggravation but complied. She was sure that he was doing this for a reason, but it made her feel beyond stupid that she didn't know why. Marshall took a step back, his hands moved and she felt him applying pressure to the spot just behind her left ear, his eyes were locked on her, searching for a reaction. She felt nothing.
"Can you yawn for me, please? A really big one."
Jen arched an eyebrow and shot him a questioning look, but once again complied. A healer says 'jump' during an examination, you just do what they say after all. So she took a deep breath and forced herself to give the most exaggerated yawn she could manage. It wasn't supposed to be a real yawn, but she was tired, and it became one. She immediately regretted everything. Literally, everything from the moment she was born. The moment her jaw was fully extended something popped inside her ear and the pain was so intense she could only see red before her eyes. She squeezed her eyes shut and grabbed the edge of the examination table with both hands, pain returning to her hand in the process. Even with her eyes closed, she could feel the world spinning and her consciousness trying to make another daring escape.
Marshall's tone was unexpectedly soothing compared to his previous one. For a second she wondered if learning to do that was part of their training. She complied and willed herself to breathe. After a few moments, the pain began to subside and she felt it was safe to open her eyes. The room was blurry but visible. She paid no mind to the fact the healer was still holding her face in his hands and forced a weak smile. "I get the feeling you're not letting me get back to work, huh?"
Marshall seemed far from amused. "Were you injured during a spar?"
"Uhm... Yes. Why?" Jen frowned. She didn't like where this was going.
"Your opponent should be disciplined. Shield bashing during a training exercise is excessive force. It could have ruptured your eardrum."
Jen snorted a laugh, legitimately surprised that he knew that much about sparring etiquette. "How do you know I was struck with a shield? Are you a healer or an investigator?" She sighed, gently gripping the man's wrists and lowering his hands. Marshall visibly flinched as though he hadn't been aware of his hands anymore at that point. "It wasn't like that. We were putting on a display for the rookies from the academy. It was a rehearsed fight. The shield wasn't supposed to hit me, but I..." Jen snorted. "It was my fault really."
Marshall let out a soft snort of his own, looking displeased with this answer, but not pushing the subject. "Well, your eardrum isn't ruptured by some miracle, but you should be on bed rest for a couple of weeks."
"I can't do that."
Marshall sighed. "I have the authority to go to your superiors if I feel you might be endangering yourself, but I'd much rather not get involved that way."
Jen crossed her arms, trying to regain enough composure to look intimidating. It didn't work. She couldn't steady herself without grabbing the table for support. Marshall noticed this and took it as an opportunity to make her lie down on the examination table. The surface was stiff and cold, but it felt nice against her back. She closed her eyes and relaxed, feeling new aches stir in her muscles from having hit the ground. "Armor is stupid," she muttered. "Yeah, it keeps you from getting stabbed, I guess, but ugh, my head. Fuck."
Marshall made a sound that could have been a laugh or something else entirely. "You're not wearing armor."
"My sparring partner helped me out of it." Staying awake was proving difficult now. "I can't be out of commission, I..." Jen's eyes snapped open. Crap she said that out loud. She turned her head slowly. Marshall was sitting on the same stool as before, a good distance between himself and the examination table, his expression mildly intrigued. "What I tell you... Has to stay between you and me, right?"
"How are you then allowed to discuss my medical condition with my commanding officer without my consent?"
"Because you haven't told me that putting your stupid head inside a helm again might exacerbate your condition. It's a fact. I'm very much allowed to state facts to whomever I well please."
"Did you just call me stupid?" Jen couldn't help but laugh a little at the insult. "That's so unprofessional. Tsk."
Marshall crossed his arms over his chest, frowning. "You aggravate me."
"Thank you, I try." Jen smiled. Marshall's expression was unmoved by her quip, but she didn't mind. No. This was perfectly fine. With a bit of effort, and taking care not to roll right off the examination table, Jen turned on her side so that she could look at him without straining her neck. It was sore; possibly from the impact. The healer did react to her sudden offering of undivided attention by very discreetly squirming in his seat. She didn't want to make him nervous, but she wouldn't deny that it was a tiny bit satisfying to cause that reaction. "Am I dismissed?" She asked.
"You can leave whenever you feel able. Though I will, once again, advise against going back to work."
"I have people who depend on me," Jen muttered. "I can't be out of commission."
Marshall shrugged. "You already are out of commission. Denial won't cause you to miraculously heal."
Jen hated irrefutable logic when it was being used against her. "I don't expect you to get it, I just... I needed to be helping out a friend this week."
"If they're your friend, I'm sure they wouldn't want you hurting yourself on their account."
Twins save her from this healer and all the sense he was making. "Your logic aggravates me," Jen muttered.
"Thank you, I try," he deadpanned.
This caught the White Knight extremely off guard. Marshall's expression hadn't changed. There was no playfulness in his eyes, no smirk, no nothing, but there was no denying he had been deliberate in using her own words against her. "I see that."
"I also don't expect you to get it, but... How would you feel if you saved someone from harm and they said 'oh thanks for helping me, but now I have to go jump off a cliff; it's my responsibility'?"
Jen laughed at the analogy. It was difficult not to. "That's a bit of an exaggeration."
"You are, quite literally, brain damaged right now." Marshall's bluntness left no room for discussion. "Your brain was knocked against your skull with what I can imagine was violent force. And while your helm sure does keep your skull from cracking, the pressure and vibrations of a metal cocoon around your already damaged brain sure don't help matters much."
Jen frowned at this. Yes, he was right, she was being stubborn and reckless by wanting to jump back into action, but at the same time, she didn't appreciate being condescended like a child. "I..."
"Not to mention, you are either terrible at your job, or you were already overworked if you were unable to dodge a blow you knew was coming."
Jen's protest was caught in her throat. He definitely had her with that one. "You definitely aggravate me."
Marshall's response to this was a simple shrug. "Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if you were just terrible at your job. For someone with such a high position in the military, you are sure lousy at following simple instructions."
"You don't have the authority to be giving me any orders."
"Why I plan to speak with your Captain."
Jen knew this was going nowhere. Not only was the man right; as much as she hated to admit it, he might actually be more stubborn than her, and that was definitely a feat. "Fine. Fiiine. I'll be good. Bed rest. All of that. You have my word."
"I'm still speaking with your Captain."
Whatever rude retort Jen had at the ready was cut off by a gigantic yawn. It hurt. A lot. Not as bad as before, but still a lot. The pain caused her to jolt into a sitting position and cover her ears with her hands. She groaned, massaging the spot behind her left ear until the piercing agony started to dissolve into something bearable. Her entire body felt heavy now with exhaustion. "Is sleeping okay?"
"Sleeping is fine."
Marshall hadn't moved from his seat at her outburst of pain, but the look in his eyes had changed to something Jen could certainly recognize. A man on a mission. It almost made her feel guilty for putting on such a fight. Sure, he didn't know her well enough to say he cared for her well-being, but if anything, he was definitely committed to it. She wanted to say something nice, anything better than the fussing she'd been doing for however long she'd been in that room, but all she managed was a weary sigh. Giving in to the realization her brain could no longer function correctly, Jen plopped back down on the examination table and closed her eyes.
All she could manage was a mental note to be nice later. It was the least she could do.
gaaaaaahhhh I love them!
Only because I'm committed to seeing SR finish before getting spinoffs, I'll do my best to help you stop writing that continuation until......... idk. The end of this episode? Then you're allowed to write a little more?
@typical_demigod Hah. I don't think I have that much self-control. :|
I will try to at least finish the current chapter though. >.>