Trying to find people in a hospital is annoying as hell.
First of all, everybody else is too busy being concerned over a nose being broken instead of answering the question. It’s not even that hard of a question. “Hey, we’re looking for an old man and a gamer goof that got smacked up. Probably followed around by a sweetheart who can smack the shit out of you if she wanted to. Have you seen them?” Not a hard question at all but everybody’s gotta worry about the blood gushing from your face and your ability to breathe. It’s almost like they don’t get what ‘verse they are living in. Rules don’t apply here, even when they allegedly should. Besides, you already stole an ice pack from Dr. Motley Crue to put to the back of your neck to stop the bleeding some. What more do they want?
Secondly, even when you decide that you’re better off finding them yourself, there is still the matter of all the halls looking the exact same. It’s efficient to build for sure. But they all merge together in a blur of beige, gray, and slightly darker beige. The signs only help so far when you don’t know if they’re getting scans and x-rays taken or they’re bored in a bed or if they’re getting hit in the knee with one of those tiny doctor hammers. Why would you know this shit? You don’t fuck with doctors or hospitals unless you’re absolutely forced to.
This is the mindset of Anna Daniels, Multitudes and all, as she stalks yet another random hall. One hand on the ice pack, another attempting to not drag around the title she’s won. And since playing Marco Polo hasn’t worked in this labyrinth of suck thus far, one of them has made the brilliant decision to attempt to piss off somebody by bellowing at the top of their lungs.
“PRINCESS PEACH IS A TRAMP!”
From down the hallway, a young man with raccoon eyes and a sour expression pokes his head out of the trauma ward waiting room. His hair is pulled back into a ponytail and he’s now wearing more traditional gear, a stained GG shirt and ripped jeans.
“She’s not a tramp, she is a metaphor for Helen of Troy. Or female empowerment. Or being out of McRibs at one store and chasing the dream all over the city only to be told that ‘maybe the next location still has it.’ Anyway, not a tramp.”
Eddie Cross, or what’s left of him, steps out from the waiting room and gives a nod to Anna as she walks up.
“Hey Anna, thanks for the assist. Not sure how bad that might have gotten if you two didn’t show up when you did.”
For a moment, the thought comes to mind to ask young Edward if his Tom Nook-looking self is always this philosophical when he gets his ass kicked. However, the sensible Multitudes override this, preceding to give a slight smile and a return on that nod.
“You’d think being what we are, we’d be better at our timing. But at least you only sound dead inside instead of being actually dead.”
Is this an over exaggeration? Maybe, but probably not. The vessel shakes her head. “Never mind that. How are you? How’s Gibson?”
Eddie rolls his shoulders. “That camel clutch move hurts a lot more than it looks like on TV, but I’ll be OK.” He looks a little bit toward the floor before continuing. “Dave, he ain’t doing so good. Doc’s said he’ll be out and cussin’ before we know it, but they really did a number on him.”
He groans and pulls out his phone. After logging into Dave’s medical chart, he reads off the prognosis. “Two broken ribs and a bruised kidney as well as other general trauma to the torso.”
Anna nods. “Makes sense.” Unlike most things around here. “It was only a matter of time before Gamble sent a message and he did it in the only effective manner that works. Try to crush your spirit and break your trainer in the process.”
Then the little smile on her face grows a bit.
“You might be underestimating the old goat, though. He’ll be hurting for a while, but he doesn’t strike us as the type to stay down if he can help it.”
“No,” Eddie replies. “Though he ain’t gonna be happy when he finds out that I told the doctors I was his next of kin so they would let me see his medical records. We’re going to be having a talk when we get back home about his blood pressure and the amount of salt he puts on everything.”
Just then EC looks down and notices the brand new Intense Title around the waist of The Muse. “Holy shit, Anna, you beat Paxton Ray?”
“No, we just stole the damned thing and Paxton’s coming after us.” A beat. Okay, so the sarcasm in her voice should make the joke obvious. But at the same time, that seems way too possible. We’re not even going to get into how the vessel absentmindedly slapped it on her waist in the middle of the conversation.
Let’s be a little less of a smartass here.
“Of course we beat Paxton Ray. Even he can’t handle getting his brain rocked. Probably should’ve borrowed a helmet from No Fun Foster.”
Eddie laughs at the thought of Paxton wearing Foster’s ridiculous helmet.
“Well, Mori will find us eventually. You wanna go back and pay your respects to the dead?” Eddie rolls his eyes to emphasize the joke he made. “I mean not really, but he has been carrying on so much, I don’t want to be around if he ever gets a cold.”
Anna smirks. “Like the vast majority of men. No offense, but you all can be so whiny.” It’s true. You just have to look at Jabber for five minutes to see that. A sigh. “Lead us to the cranky zombie man.”
They grab the attention of a nurse and he leads them through a set of electronically locked double doors and down the hall. Before they get to the room they hear the braying of an old hound with a lame paw as Dave yells at an orderly.
“No, I don’t want to try to piss again. Maybe I wasn’t clear the last time that it feels like shoving hot needles through my dick and I ain’t a big fan.”
“Ok, but sir, I’m just following the doctor’s instructions. Every two hours you are supposed to… “
“I heard that old fart, too, and I don’t care.”
“Sir, I can see your medical records and Dr. Robison is younger than you. Can you please just follow me to the bathroom?”
“Fuck all that, where is Ed? I am tired of sitting here and I gotta go make sure the kid is OK.”
“I’m fine Dave.” Eddie says as he rounds the corner into the room. “You, however, need to listen to the doctor and go try to flush out your system.”
The Multitudes prefer to lean towards the door frame, not quite in and not quite out. It seems like the perfect place to be given the situation. After a moment, the vessel resigns to crossing her arms. “Not to mention the more you fight with these people, the more of a pain in the ass this will be. They aren’t going to leave you alone until they get their stuff done. So quit being a little bitch baby and do what the orderly says.”
Normally, it would be strange treating a grown man like this. Especially in a place like this. There’s not even a promise that Dave would actually listen to the words. There’s a fifty-fifty chance he’d fire back with some type of comment. But sometimes, the best way to make people do stuff they don’t want to do is to speak in their own language.
Instead Dave stops and looks up at the door and just says “Oh, it’s the one I like!” He finally stops fussing long enough to stand up and work his way into the bathroom. As he begins urinating with a groan, he talks over the uncomfortable and embarrassing noise. “The other gal, that young lady, scolded me and said something like ‘Mr. Dave, you need to listen to the doctors! They know what is best!’ and then I think she went to go find some candy in the vending machine or something.”
He finishes, washing his hands with the powerfully scented anti-bacterial soap and patting them dry. “Good kid though, she has a lot of potential.”
“Dave,” Eddie groans. “Don’t you think maybe you should pay attention to the person who came to see you?”
Eddie shoots him a look that suggests “and “I” am the one with no people skills?” before nodding to Anna.
Anna–or one of her at least–proceeds to mouth “one he likes?”, then shakes her head in response. “Nice Kohime impersonation.” That wasn’t sarcastic either. You can hear her say that in your head. “We’re taking that as a good sign of your health, besides the whole needledick thing.”
There’s a brief pause as a realization hits on what she just said. Her face contorts through a few different emotions, mostly wondering whether to laugh or apologize. The mental debate ends with a shrug to Eddie and her sitting down on one of the few random chairs in the room, slinging the Intense title across one of the chair’s arms. Luckily, Dave is a master of not selling improvised offense.
“Ey!” Dave says to Eddie. “Now that’s how it’s done.”
“Oh fuck off, Dave.” Eddie responds sarcastically, making Dave chuckle and groan.
“For serious, I’m proud of you, kid.” Dave has no idea who The Multitudes are, their age, their travels, experiences, etc. He just knows that they embody an ideal that is universally true from Carolina all the way to planet Fahrvergnügen or wherever they are from… No matter how many times you get knocked down, you keep on kickin’ until you get to where you’re going.
Eddie raises a finger to explain that Anna was most definitely not a kid, but then thinks it isn’t really that important and if they want to explain it, they will. The Vessel would appear to be young to Dave, after all.
Although, the part that baffles the Multitudes wasn’t that he considered them a kid. That part isn’t really a bother and while 400-and-something is nearly ancient in Earth age, it’s more like being in your twenties in Gallifreyan age. So he wasn’t quite wrong or right. Matter of perception and all that jazz. What befuddles the Time Lord was that Dave was proud of her. That’s…not really a phrase any version of Anna Daniels has heard often. There’s always a “good job!” or a “congratulations!”. There is even the occasional “you deserve it!” or, as Gamer Boi so hilariously reminded them, a “holy shit, you beat so-and-so?!” But proud? Of her? That always hits a little different.
The vessel’s eyes drift. To anybody who doesn’t know, it seems like she is looking at the belt she was holding. In truth, she looks at the hand holding it. She looks at the wedding ring still very much covered by the gloves she didn’t bother to take off after walking away from those idiot reporters. This isn’t the first time somebody has been proud of her, but it still has an effect. For somebody who finds it hard to connect, that means something. A smile crawled across her face, looking back at Dave.
“Thanks. Really.” And she means it. “But we’re not here to brag about how absolutely awesome we are or to show off this shiny belt, even though we should. We just wanted to check up on you boys. See that you’re okay, ya know. That’s what you’re supposed to do for your people.”
It’s a lesson that they forget sometimes. Yet they try to remember it, even when they know how temporary things become.
Dave sighs and winces. This isn’t the first time he had been in a hospital after taking a hard bump, but he certainly didn’t expect it at this point in his career.
“Hey Eddie, I gotta get some rest,” he looks up with care in his eyes at his protegé. “Why don’t you and your friends head on back to the hotel and I’ll send you some money on that Van Gogh app so you can all go grab a bite.”
Friends? Eddie thinks to himself. He looks at Anna and knows they didn’t have to do this. Mori is somewhere right now in the building looking for a snack because she had been there just as long as Eddie had. Dave was right, they weren’t just allies.
“Okay,” he replies and instinctively fishes for his glasses, remembering they were broken. Not that he could wear them with his puffed up face anyhow. “I love you, Dave.”
If Dave heard him, he didn’t show it. He was already breathing the slow rhythmic cadence that preceded ‘sawin’ logs’ as he called it. Eddie turns to the door and closes it quietly after Anna walks out.
“And before we go, let’s get that nose checked out,” he says to them with warmth in his voice.
They catch that warmth, but the potential return of it is overridden by an eyeroll. “People are way too worried about this. We’re fine!” This doesn’t deter Eddie from dragging her to a doctor anyway, even with the grumbles of wax bodies and Timey Wimeyness.