This is sort of a follow up to my dues story Experiment 4, but like that one, never made it into my printed story Crisis, either. Enjoy!
To the Rescue
By Diane Kachmar
The rustle of sheets made Will Jamieson rise from his desk to check that neither of his two newly discovered difficult patients was making a precipitous exit. He stopped in the entrance to his small office area when he saw it was Chip Morton who was up.
Still not steady and loath to use his bandaged hands to brace himself, the XO lurched his way over to slump into the now empty stool sitting beside the other occupied rack.
The occupant of that bed was thankfully still in it. It would help Chip to finally be able to say his piece, since between his pain medications for the electrical burns and Crane’s shock neither one had managed to be awake when the other one was since they both had been brought down here.
Jamieson smiled as Chip lifted the chart that was hooked to the rail, pushing it awkwardly with one gauze covered hand to where he could read what was written there. Will would have preferred to be asked for a report, but he couldn’t exactly tell that to someone who outranked him. Morton was entitled to the information and it surprised Will that Morton could read his medical shorthand, much less understand it. Seems he would have to stop underestimating his senior officers.
Morton grunted softly and let the chart fall, apparently satisfied that his CO was recovering. The XO began straightening the blanket with awkward fingers.
Will took a step forward to caution Morton he would definitely wake up Crane with what he was doing, but stopped again. He was curious to see what Chip was going to do and how Lee would react.
Morton tugged the blanket back up over Crane’s shoulder. As expected, Lee twitched when Morton’s hand touched his shoulder. He rolled over on to his back, still half asleep, into a position where his vitals could be easily checked.
Jamieson stifled a grin. At least one of them was learning the drill.
Morton’s fumbling attempts must have sent a warning message this was not him or Frank tending him, as Crane suddenly started, his eyes snapping open. He looked up at Morton a moment, his body tense, then slowly relaxed back into the pillow.
“Chip?” Lee questioned, his voice still more raspy than Will would have liked, but the last pulse oximeter check finally had his number out of the danger range.
“You won’t be giving any orders with that voice.” Chip finally tugged the blanket in place.
“And you won’t be plotting any courses with those hands,” Lee countered. “I take it you are not here to tell me what’s going on with the boat?”
Morton shook his head. “Like Will would let me get a report.”
Crane cocked his head. “She feels in trim. The repair must be holding.”
Morton scowled and raised one bandaged hand. “Is that all you have to say about this debacle?”
Crane settled deeper into his pillow. “We’re both still alive to talk about it.”
Morton clenched one of his hands, winced and his scowl deepened. “Of all the stupid grandstand heroics! You almost died! You would have if Frank hadn’t known what to do after you collapsed dragging me out of there! You know better! Ever since that lab accident, you have to –”
Crane raised a hand, trying to calm his livid XO. “I did what I had to do. I knew you were trapped by the fire.”
“So did the DCP!” Morton slumped in the chair, spent and glared at Crane.
Lee shifted uncomfortably in the rack, but did not wither under the gaze. “It’s done.” He reached out to lightly touch Morton’s arm. “Let it go.”
“I can’t.” Chip ducked his head. “This boat has already lost one Captain, and we are determined not to lose another one! You can’t keep doing this to us, Lee!”
“I didn’t plan this! I was there, and – ” Lee sat up, his voice hardening.
Morton’s head came back up. “And you should have sent some else in! In gear! Damn it! I don’t care what you think! You are not expendable!”
“Neither are you!” Lee retorted, his eyes flashing dangerously.
Morton’s scowl softened. “I appreciate that, but putting yourself at risk for me isn’t right. It’s not fair. To the crew, to the Admiral and especially to Cathy. Don’t make me be the one who has to tell her there isn’t going to be a wedding because the bridegroom is dead!
Crane flopped back on onto the pillow, his face set in command mode. “Don’t even go there. My duty doesn’t recognize personal privilege!”
“Your duty is to run this boat, not rescue me!” Morton replied. “I should not have to tell you this! I know you think you are healed, but if you go into shock again, Will, as good as he is, may not be able to pull you back and we will lose you! It’s my duty to make sure we don’t! Captain.”
Will watched them stare each other down, wondering which one would fold. Neither was up to a protracted shouting match. To his surprise, Crane’s scowl softened first, becoming an almost sheepish smile.
“Duty?” Lee questioned, his hoarse voice unable to achieve the bantering tone he was trying for.
Morton’s scowl became a smirk. “Aye, sir.”
Crane relaxed back into the pillow. “I will not promise you that I won’t take any more risks, Mr. Morton, but I can promise not to interfere with your duty as you see it, if that will help.”
“It will.” Chip Morton tried to reach out with his bandaged hand and winced. “Ow.”
“If you don’t stop flexing them, you are going to continue to have that reaction.” Will knew he needed to break this up. “And who told you, you could get out of your rack?”
Morton slumped in the chair. “I wanted to talk to him.”
“Okay. You talked. Now you are going back to bed.”
“Jamie!” Lee spoke up. “Don’t yell at him. This is my fault.”
Will turned toward Crane as he offered Morton a hand up. “Yes, it is. And unless you want me yelling at you as well, you will let me take care of him so you can both get back to duty and stop driving me crazy.”
Chip stood up, using him as a brace. “That’s the whole idea, Will.”
He could see Lee shaking with suppressed laughter as Jamieson led Morton back to his rack. Yes, he had to definitely stop underestimating his senior officers.