By Sue James
This story follows “The Challenge” and was the result of a comment Fidelma made after reading it!
“Mr. Morton. Could you come down to Sickbay please?” The quiet but commanding voice of Seaview’s doctor reverberated around the control room as the submarine’s executive officer raised his eyebrows quizzically at the request.
“What does he want with me?” he frowned at his best friend and commanding officer, Lee Crane.
“Why don’t you go and find out?” Lee smiled at him across the chart table.
“Have you been talking about me?” Chip’s frown deepened as he looked intently at his friend, trying to detect if he was lying or not.
“No!” Lee laughed. “Honest, Chip. I haven’t been talking to the doc about you. He probably just needs to talk to you about something regarding Sickbay or one of the men.”
“So why didn’t he ask for you?” Chip queried suspiciously.
“I don’t know,” Lee answered patiently. “Stop acting so paranoid, Chip and go and see what he wants.”
“Mr. Morton. Could you please report to Sickbay?” The repeated request brought a scowl to the exec’s face and a smile to the captain’s. “Go on,” Lee urged his friend. “I’ll look after things here.”
With a heartfelt sigh and another glare at his best friend, Chip Morton dropped his pencil on the chart table and made his way aft to Sickbay. Opening the door he looked in and was surprised to find the room empty. Reluctantly he walked right into the room closing the door behind him.
“Ah, Chip. Thanks for coming down here,” Will Jamieson emerged from his office smiling warmly at the exec.
“What can I do for you?” Chip smiled guardedly at the older man convinced that he wasn’t going to like whatever the medic had to say to him.
“Just take your shirt off and sit down on the gurney,” Will said with another smile.
“Why?” Chip frowned and made no attempt to comply with the request.
“I think you know why,” Will looked levelly at him, “but if you want to play games, Mr Morton I’m happy to join in. Either you do as I ask or I will have someone remove your shirt for you.”
“It’s Lee isn’t it. I’ll have him for this,” Chip grumbled as he pulled off his tie and began to unbutton his shirt.
“Lee hasn’t said a word,” the doctor stood watching him, a grave expression on his face. “I admit I did ask him why you had taken to eating your meals with your left hand but he said it was nothing to do with him and I would have to ask you myself. Don’t look at me like that Chip,” he admonished the younger man who had stopped unbuttoning his shirt to glare heavily at him. “I’m a doctor. I’m trained to notice when someone favours his left hand even when he is right handed and I’m also trained to notice when that same someone is in obvious pain so get that shirt off and let me take a look at your arm.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my arm,” Chip grumbled as he undid the remaining buttons and pulled his shirt off.
“Maybe not,” the doctor conceded as he ran his professional eyes over his patient’s torso, “but how did you get that bruise on your shoulder, huh? Sit down,” he motioned the now silent exec to the gurney and, as Chip sat reluctantly down, he peered intently at his right shoulder noting the varying degrees of bruising that covered the shoulder and upper arm.
“How did you get a bruise like that?” he asked his expression grave.
“I fell over,” Chip replied grudgingly.
“How?” Jamieson removed his eyes from Chip’s shoulder to look him in the face, noting the dark shadows under his eyes and the paler than usual complexion that told him Chip Morton hadn’t been sleeping properly in recent days.
“Does it matter?”
“It does,” the doctor took a hold of Chip’s right hand and began to raise his arm gently. “Tell me when it hurts,” he said solemnly his eyes on Chip’s face looking for signs of increased pain as he continued to elevate the arm.
“Ouch!” Chip yelped when the pain became too much for him to bear and glared as the doctor gently lowered his arm back down.
“That was several seconds too late,” Jamieson said with a slight grin. “I can’t help you, Chip if you won’t level with me.”
“I don’t need help,” Chip continued to glare. “It’s just a bruise.”
“Mmm,” Jamieson looked again at the offending shoulder. “And how long ago did you fall over?”
“Last week,” Chip admitted. “The day after Christmas.”
“The day after Christmas?” Jamieson raised his eyebrows. “That’s ten days ago, Chip. That must have been one hell of a fall and yet you can’t tell me what happened.”
“I’d rather not,” Chip said weakly.
“Were you drunk?”
“No, I was not!” Chip’s protest was indignant.
“I see,” Will Jamieson rubbed at his chin and looked appraisingly at the man sitting in front of him. He was well aware that Chip Morton resented his interest in his injured shoulder and equally aware that, like his Captain and best friend, Seaview’s exec had an unhealthy disregard for Sickbay and the doctor’s ministrations. He was stubborn too, well known for his ability to remain tight-lipped about something when it suited him but then, so was the doctor and with little else to do at that moment he was quite happy to take his time in finding out the truth about the executive officer’s injured shoulder.
“Okay,” he smiled at the glum faced officer in front of him. “I’ll get Frank to x-ray your shoulder and then…”
“X-ray?” Chip interrupted his blue eyes wary. “It’s just a bruise, Jamie.”
“Maybe,” Jamie smiled knowingly, “but it’s a ten day old bruise, Chip and however much you might deny it, it’s hurting you so I want to x-ray it as a precaution. Then, you can settle down in that bunk over there…” he pointed to the bed directly behind the exec, “…until I’m satisfied about how you came by the injury and…”
“You can’t do that!” Chip protested. “I’m supposed to be on duty.”
“I’m sure Captain Crane will understand when I explain the problem to him,” Jamie smiled pleasantly at his increasingly agitated patient. “In fact, he might even be able to help us both by explaining how you came by the injury in the first place.”
“He doesn’t know,” Chip lied and immediately felt guilty about it although not enough to admit the truth.
“He doesn’t, huh?” Jamie frowned, “yet you say you sustained this injury on December 26th and I’m sure the captain told me that he went home with you for the holidays. In fact, knowing you both as well as I do I feel sure that he knows only too well how you came by that bruise. Maybe he was even there when you fell over?”
As the doctor came uncomfortably close to the truth Chip’s scowl intensified until his forehead was a mass of furrows. Seeing the look Jamieson said casually, “Maybe while Frank x-rays your shoulder I’ll go and see if Captain Crane can shed any light on this little mystery.”
“He won’t tell you,” Chip continued to scowl.
“So you admit he knows?” the Doctor couldn’t resist smiling at the very disgruntled man in front of him.
“Yes, he knows,” Chip almost growled his reply. He wondered if Lee had bought his photos aboard and shuddered inwardly at the idea he might share them with the doctor. He felt his ears begin to redden at such an embarrassing thought and decided that, maybe he had better change his own tactics if he wanted to keep his skateboarding antics a secret. Abandoning the scowl that he had adopted almost as soon as he set foot in sickbay Chip turned his most beseeching look on the doctor and in his most innocent voice said, “Look I admit that I fell and I landed on my shoulder and I admit that I’ve ignored any damage I might have done. Can’t you just treat it and forget about it?”
Will Jamieson smiled at the earnestness of his patient and shook his head.
“No…” He held up one hand to forestall any further pleading by the exec. “Perfectly fit and healthy young men don’t fall over for no good reason, Chip. So, either you had some sort of accident and are hiding other injuries from me which will necessitate a complete physical check up or you have some other hidden problem which caused you to fall over which means I need to subject you to a very thorough medical examination.” Pausing for effect Jamieson eyed his reluctant patient sternly before saying quietly, “Now what’s it to be?”
“Sometimes I think I hate you,” Chip thought crossly as he realized that he wasn’t going to succeed in keeping his holiday antics a secret. Either he told Jamieson the truth or he risked Lee telling the truth for him or, even worse in many ways, he endured a completely unnecessary medical examination which would waste both his time and Jamie’s.
“Okay,” he gave a resigned sigh. “You win; I’ll tell you what happened on the condition that you don’t share it with anyone else!”
“Of course I won’t tell anyone,” Jamieson looked mildly affronted.
Chip looked around the room, “Are we alone?”
“Yes,” Jamieson nodded.
“Okay,” Chip sighed again and launched into an edited account of the skateboard race he and Lee had participated in. Keeping his eyes firmly on the doctor’s face he mentally dared the man to laugh but if he was amused by the exec’s story Jamieson kept it to himself, his expression grave. When Chip got to the part where Lee had crashed into him and they had both ended up on the ground the doctor interrupted, “So, are you telling me the Captain also got injured in this escapade?”
“No,” Chip shook his head. “He was fine; I cushioned his fall.”
“I see,” Jamieson continued to regard him with a grave expression. “So Lee crashed into you, then fell on top of you and you landed on your shoulder?”
“That’s right,” Chip nodded while wondering if he was about to get reprimanded for childish behaviour.
“And did you have any treatment at the time?” Jamieson looked again at the offending shoulder.
“No?” The doctor took a step back and looked enquiringly at his patient. “You just ignored it?”
Chip nodded and cast his eyes to the floor unwilling to face the disapproving look forming on the doctor’s face.
“I don’t know,” Jamieson sounded slightly despairing as he looked down at his patient’s bent head. “Why is it that an intelligent, educated, sensible adult with a highly responsible job becomes a total idiot whenever he is sick or injured?”
Chip looked up, his eyes narrowed as he wondered whether he should challenge the accusation that he was an idiot. “It wasn’t that bad,” he mumbled. “My ankle hurt more.”
“Your ankle?” the doctor’s eyes went automatically to the exec’s feet. “You hurt your ankle as well?”
“Lee’s skateboard crashed into it,” Chip mentally cursed himself for mentioning the ankle well aware that Jamieson would insist on taking a look at it.
“Okay,” Jamieson drew himself up to his full height as he said firmly, “I think I need to check you over completely, Chip. Take the rest of your clothes off and…..”
“Jamie!” Chip’s voice was pleading as he interrupted. “That’s not necessary. It was just my shoulder and my ankle. Helen treated my ankle and its fine. Honest. I didn’t get any other injuries.”
“Helen treated your ankle but not your shoulder?” Jamieson frowned. “Why?”
“I didn’t tell her about my shoulder,” Chip sighed heavily.
“And she didn’t notice that you were having trouble using your right arm?” Jamieson sounded disbelieving. He had met Chip’s older half-sister and knew that her brother’s welfare was very important to her; he couldn’t believe that she would have allowed him to ignore his current injury.
“I wasn’t having any trouble,” Chip said unhappily. “It was a bit sore, especially first thing in the morning, but I could still use it,” he paused and fixed his eyes on the floor before he continued, “It was only after the football game that it really hurt.”
“Football game? You played football with an injured ankle and shoulder?” Jamieson sounded exasperated.
“My ankle was fine,” Chip protested as he looked up at the doctor’s irritated expression. “Trust me, Jamie. Helen wouldn’t have allowed me to play if it hadn’t healed. She even insisted on bandaging it before the game just to protect it.”
“So what happened?”
“We had this game on New Year’s Day. It’s a family tradition,” Chip explained almost defensively. “Chris’s brother tackled me and I landed on my shoulder but I still had the ball and I tried to throw it backwards as Tommy tried to take it from me. I guess my shoulder wasn’t up to it.”
“That explains why some of the bruises look fresher than others,” Jamieson said in a satisfied voice. “And you still didn’t get any treatment?”
“No,” Chip shook his head. “Helen wanted me to wear a sling but I convinced her that it would be better to keep moving it, stop it getting stiff. I was flying back the next day and I said I would get you to look at it,” he looked rather shamefaced at this admittance and the doctor eyed him disapprovingly.
“You mean you lied to your sister, Chip?”
“I would have got around to it,” Chip argued. “I wasn’t expecting us to sail almost immediately; I haven’t had time to come see you.”
“You’re a dreadful liar,” Jamieson grinned suddenly. “But never mind, you’re here now so get those clothes off and let me satisfy myself that you’re not hiding any other injuries from your holiday activities. No arguments, Chip,” he held up a hand, his face stern as the exec opened his mouth to argue. “You should have honoured your word to Helen and come to see me as soon as your plane landed. I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t check you out thoroughly.”
Realizing that he had no-one to blame but himself Chip reluctantly released the belt on his uniform trousers and prepared himself for the indignity of having his entire body closely examined for hidden cuts and bruises. Thirty minutes later after enduring a thorough examination and having his shoulder x-rayed he was fully dressed again, excluding his tie when there was a knock on the door and the smiling face of Lee Crane looked into the room.
“You okay?” he looked enquiringly at his exec. “You’ve been gone ages. I thought I’d better check up on you.”
“You knew, didn’t you?” Chip questioned with a frown. “When he called me down here you knew why.”
“I suspected why, yes,” Lee admitted with a grin, “but so did you, Chip. You must have known you couldn’t hide that shoulder from Jamie.”
“Wise words, Skipper,” Jamieson grinned as he reappeared. “I’d like to think that had it been you with a damaged shoulder you would have come straight to see me but, knowing your complete disregard for your own health, I suspect you would have been as remiss as your exec here who will now find himself on restricted duty.”
“Restricted duty!” Chip was aghast. “It’s just a bruise, Jamie. A few painkillers should sort it.”
“Are you telling me how to do my job?” Jamie raised his eyebrows at the younger man. “It’s not just a bruise, Chip; it’s badly sprained and swollen and you need to rest it COMPLETELY.” He looked levelly at his patient, “You should have taken your sister’s advice and worn the sling,” he said seriously. “Instead of aggravating it by using it. You need to learn,” he looked from one to the other, “both of you, that you can’t go about abusing your bodies and expect injuries to heal while you carry on regardless. You’re terrible,” he looked pointedly at Chip who glared back at him, “and you’re worse.” He turned to frown at Lee who had the grace to hide the grin he’d been wearing. “You both need to learn to take better care of yourselves.”
“I’ll see to it that he does everything you expect,” Lee said gravely.
“You better,” Jamie said sternly as he reached into a nearby drawer and pulled out a large bandage which he proceeded to turn into a sling to immobilise his patient’s right arm. “You will wear this, Chip until I say otherwise. You will NOT take it off for any reason. Understand?”
“Yes,” Chip’s expression was mutinous.
“If I find that you have disobeyed me I’ll confine you to Sickbay with your arm strapped to your chest for a week,” Jamie said warningly as he ensured the sling was both comfortable and secure.
“I promise,” Chip’s voice held a resigned note. “Can I go now?”
“When you’ve taken these,” Jamie handed him two capsules and a cup of water. “They’re just anti-inflammatory pills,” he said patiently as Chip eyed them suspiciously. “And when you leave here you will go straight to your quarters and rest. I bet you haven’t slept properly for days.”
Chip swallowed the pills reluctantly and stood up as the doctor and his best friend watched him, one with an expression of grave concern and the other with amused sympathy.
“I’ll see that he does as you say, Jamie,” Lee grinned happily at the doctor as he reached for the door handle.
“This is purely for your own benefit, Chip,” Jamie said quietly as his unhappy patient headed for the door.
“I know,” Chip admitted with a slight grin. “And I do appreciate it, Jamie, even if it seems like I don’t!”
“I know,” the doctor smiled at him and placed a gentle hand on his left shoulder. “Now go rest and I’ll come by and discuss your duty restrictions later. And gentlemen,” he smiled warmly at both young officers as they paused at the door and turned to look at him. “I suggest that you leave the skateboarding to the younger generation in future!”
“You told him?” Lee Crane regarded his best friend in astonishment as soon as they were out of earshot of Sickbay.
“I didn’t have any choice,” Chip grumbled good-naturedly. “He insisted on knowing how I came to fall on my shoulder. He was going to come and ask you if I didn’t tell him.”
“And you think I would have told on you?” Lee sounded hurt.
“Maybe not willingly,” Chip admitted with a grin, “but I know what he’s like. He’d have insisted it was for the good of my health and you would have felt obliged to tell him how you fell on me. I was worried you might even illustrate your explanation!”
“Illustra….Oh, you mean the photos,” Lee’s momentary puzzled look cleared as he understood what his friend was alluding to. “Don’t worry about those, Chip. I left them in my apartment.”
“You did?” Chip sounded relieved. “Thank goodness for that.”
“Yes,” Lee mused thoughtfully, “but in addition to Jamie’s threat to inter you in Sickbay and wrap you in yards of bandage I’d like to say that if you don’t follow his instructions to the letter I might have to show him the evidence of your accident when we get back to port!”
“Thank you friend,” Chip growled as they approached his cabin. “May I remind you it’s your fault I got hurt in the first place and now you’re conspiring with Jamie to curtail my freedom!”
“It wasn’t entirely my fault,” Lee protested. “You did get in my way and you insisted on taking part in the football game; your shoulder would probably be fine by now if you hadn’t got into that struggle over the ball with Tommy.”
“True,” Chip sighed as they came to a stop outside his cabin.
“Now get inside,” Lee held the door open. “And get some rest. I know its frustrating Chip but it’s for your own good and if you’re tempted to go walk about or remove that sling just think “Photos!” “
“Thank you,” Chip grinned in spite of his bad mood. “Maybe you could bring me lunch later?”
“Sure can,” Lee grinned back. “Anything else?”
“No, thanks,” Chip shook his head as he sat down carefully on the edge of his bunk. The soft pillows suddenly looked very inviting and it crossed his mind that there may have been some kind of sedative in the medication he had taken as he longed to lay down and sleep.
“I’ll be off then,” Lee said cheerfully as he took in his friend’s sleep heavy eyes. Knowing how much Chip hated a fuss he suspected he would give into sleep as soon as he was alone. “See you later, Chip.”
“Yea, see you later,” Chip nodded and, as soon as the door had closed on his friend, he kicked off his shoes and lay down carefully on his bunk.
Meanwhile, as the exec drifted into a deep sleep in his own quarters, Seaview’s doctor was busy writing up a report on his patient’s injury. The report was purely medical facts but as he jotted down the recommended treatment he found a huge smile spreading across his face at the mental image of the captain and executive officer racing each other on skateboards like a couple of teenagers. He wondered what the crew would think if they knew how their commanding officers spent their vacation time and although he knew he would never tell on them he wondered if anyone in Chip’s family had had the presence of mind to take photographs. He would have to remember to ask the Captain in a casual way as such photos might be very useful weapons in his never ending battles to get the C.O and his second-in-command to follow his medical advice. With that very pleasant thought in mind Will Jamieson gave his attention back to finishing his report.
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