2010-06-29: A Day To Stop



Date: June 29th, 2010


Sometimes you live, and sometimes you die, and sometimes people yell at you no matter which you do.

This scene takes place during events described in the The Inquiry series.

"A Day To Stop"

Hospital Room 1516

Nothing seems to kill me

He enters on the tail of Detective Maggie Powers leaving, coats brushing — hers the grey of her habit, and his the white of his profession. Neat lettering stitched to the breast pocket naming him — or, at least, the owner of the coat — as Dr. Francis makes his place in the hospital even more clear cut. There's a glance for the leaving detective before he slips the door shut, but not tight, behind him. His eyebrows drop sternly while he observes Laurie observing him back, the consultant having remained in his spot against the furniture, fingers tapping rhythmically on the bed and occasionally catching up pieces of bed-sheet. As the stare-down drags on, Laurie's shoulders begin to tense expectantly.

Francis snaps a medical chart away from his chest to eye the script upon it before glancing up at the patient it names there. "I thought I made it clear I never wanted to see you here again."
Embarrassment seems to make Laurie shift in place, shoulders wiggling uncomfortably, and tongue wetting lips without answer. But it's an act in prelude to a joke. The grin that appears is fit to bursting — bursting his stitches, that is. "Is this your work?" He asks cheerfully, waving a hand near his face as though this thing wasn't clear, "Would you be terribly insulted if I took to wearing a mask? This seems like such a good opportunity for it… but I'm such a big fan of yours."

"Bullshit," the doctor calls, letting the chart drop with a sigh — from him — and a clatter — from it — onto the nearby stand, even as the cloudy expression on him lightens to something only a touch less disapproving. What happens is the antagonism draining out of his face, leaving only the frustration that comes from honest concern. But Francis is able to rein his in with a zen mastery formed out of years of this practice in doctoring, and only the man across from him really knows the extent that his face is telling. Waving his hand impatiently, he approaches until that wave becomes a grip on Laurie's shoulder that he uses to spin the disobedient patient around, allowing Francis to lift up that newly applied shirt over Laurie's shoulders so he can give everything there a good examination. "You avoid hospitals like you're allergic to common sense." His eyes scan from the recent burn to that older, but not so old, raised skin at the shoulder. "Look at this — bullet wound? It looks like somebody tried to make a piece of work out of it."

Turned about, Laurie has to lean some to allow the shorter doctor a clear look-see at the extent of his back, and his glance to him is therefore somewhat around his own arm braced against the bed again. He gives a whimsical, appreciative hum. "… She did have the hands of an artist…"

"It would've healed right if you'd had proper stitching— "

"She was a doctor. Of the wrong chapter."

Snorting, Francis moves his hand just to the right of the wound and grabs the less mangled skin there to give the consultant a swift, sharp pinch. Laurie's yelped 'oww' is out of surprise, and obligation, and a little bit of indignation at the end. All of which Francis dutifully ignores. He only steps away from his close spot, cueing Laurie to straighten, a soft tug letting the shirt fall into place again. "Perhaps you should consider taking less irresponsible women on your suicide missions."

Still situating the loose garment, Laurie's hands momentarily slow, his head jerking to look at Francis with the sullenness of the child he hasn't physically been for decades. "Then they wouldn't be very good suicide missions…" His eyes flash defensively, once. "And it's not their fault. I'm an impossible bully."

Francis considers this a moment before giving an allowing nod, a second half-sigh as he begins to pace in another direction through the room, hand trailing to the chart he left. "I know," accepting; something he's come to terms with a while ago and speaks now with a sort of bewildered admiration simply for the nature of what it is. And his years of doctoring. "I don't think I'd ever had a patient both die on and then try to walk off my table before." Laurie chuckles, attempting to sound sheepish, reminiscent. He is none of those things. His blue eyes harden with a dark shadow as a next breath fatefully brings out that pushing, nudging ever-present pressure against his ribs.

On the chart is written a history, in the old unreadable handwriting of Francis' occupation. He knows the words there well, but he reads over them anyway and that keeps his eyes down so that he doesn't have to look into Laurie's. It was noticeable as soon as he walked in the room, that something had changed. Watching this strange man toss his life about like it had no consequences had compelled Francis on a personal level before, curiosity winning over professionalism, but some spark — some something — was missing now. And that somehow made him feel even more unsettled. If the man who could convince you he didn't care had lost his edge…

Carefully, the venerable old doctor feels himself easing his words into an argument he hasn't had the urge to bring up for years. Very carefully. "I'm going to go out on a limb and say you haven't been taking it easy in your retirement like I highly recommended…"

Laurie only sniffs, gesturing a hand out before completing the cross over his chest. "Something came up."

"Something will always come up," Francis challenges, his head raising fast when he can't stop the gruffness in his voice, "If a part of you is still looking for it."

Blue eyes slip to the side, return to Francis. Laurie puts out his mouth to consider, making odd shapes of the wound there. "That's deep," he declares finally, all the scars on his face realigning to show a purposeful delight, "I'm not deep, but I like that," he releases the one hand from off his bicep to indicate Francis, "Can I quote you on that?"

Bam the chart slams down. "Laurence Miles! Despite what you may have been thinking, letting someone drill a second hole in your mouth doesn't mean you can quip twice as much!" Doctor Francis doesn't necessarily raise his voice so much as he raises his ability to sound like your disappointed father. The effect is twice as reaching. But Laurie, being himself, has to work a moment to close his mouth — and its addition — over an extremely amused smile that isn't at all appropriate. Spotting it anyway does not endear Francis much to the consultant's sense of taking this conversation seriously. Still, watching Laurie distracted by his own fancy, the yet older man brings his voice down to a quieter level. Expecting to be ignored, but sincerely spoken even so, he cautiously broaches: "… there's improvements to surgical procedures every year…"

Caught by an deeply buried gut reaction, Laurie's hand plants near his side where, just right, his fingertips touch the lightly protruding area where — in the right conditions — a sharp point could be felt there. For now, it's wiggled its way down, inspired by the encounter with Mandy Larson. Cavalier doesn't match his motion, but Laurie brandishes it anyway. "But I've gotten so attached."

If Francis was hoping that the worn feeling he got coming in was Laurie being softened to argument — he's not anymore. "I hope it's worth it," he finally decides, picking and choosing his battles as only an old field doctor can, "Whatever you're holding onto."

Seeing the hand that drifts across Laurie's abdomen without the consultant seeming to realize, he adds practically, "Does it hurt?" The hand retreats to the bed. Laurie's shrug is made noncommittally by one shoulder. "I see. How often?" A hint of lower lip; the blue eyes blink then reappear. "Constant pain it is— don't give me that look, Laurence, I've had a hundred patients almost as obstinate as you." What look it was vanishes, leaving Laurie only glancing idly downwards to push away from the bed long enough to adjust his ankles to be crossed opposite. As far as battles go, Francis knows this one is over. Some gleam of argument rises in his throat and he expels it with a short-lived sigh.

There's a business-like click of the pen he takes out of his front pocket. "… I'll write you another prescription." In the end, maybe it's all he can do. So he'll do it to have tried. "But, Laurence— " When his writing has stopped, he looks up and Laurie obliges him by doing so as well. "If you don't stop acting like your own stunt double— it won't be here there'll be taking you next time."

The prescription done, he offers it out. Laurie doesn't move. So the piece of paper is slipped onto the stand, underneath a tray with an ignored glass of juice buoying a small straw. He steps to go and almost makes it before that voice pipes up again.

"Aren't you going to stop me, doctor?"

He has to think about that one. But not for long. "I'm not so sure anything can."

Laurie's grunt is unfavorable — and also the most animated reaction he's given. "Well, that's not fair. Everybody should get something." Mandy Larson, a serial killer, did. Are we so different? He's a little bewildered, Francis, before he can dispel it with a shake of his head he rewards all silly things that come out of the consultant's inability to be reasonable.

Unsure should he ever get another opportunity, he clutches the door frame and gives Laurence Miles a steady, searching look. "Goodbye, Laurence."

And the cut-up cowboy hopefully replies, "Maybe."

No matter how hard I try.

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