Phoenix: Chapter 50 (Xavier)
“Well, you’re cleaned up, at least,” Hannah said. “Where’s Daniel?”
“Finding us some non-bloody clothes,” I said. “He’ll have a job waking Mark up to have him put them on.”
“Well, he’s going to,” Hannah said. “I don’t want his wound totally sealed up.”
Mark was slung over a mattress covered with a bunch of blankets Nevin had brought. He, Hannah and I were in her herbal workroom, where she made potions when needed and where she kept all of her herbs and remedies. The shelves were full of bottles, brightly color-coded with food dye, some with plant things floating and/or growing in them. A giant terrarium full of thyme dominated most of the space on the first west windowsill; Hannah’s other plants sat crowded onto a table on the second one.
“Hold this,” Hannah said, and gave me a tea towel.
She crossed to the other side of the room, which was occupied by a giant desk with lots of cabinets. There was no paperwork to be seen. In the cabinets was where Hannah dried the herbs that she couldn’t grow in her terrarium year-round.
“A broken rib, a cracked rib, a fractured shin bone, and a broken, bloody nose?” Hannah said, setting up a mortar and pestle with a plastic liner, which she muttered a spell over so that it wouldn’t break or mix in when she ground herbs in it. “I hope you gave more than you took, at least. You must have given a lot.”
“I killed him.”
Hannah stopped her herb-mashing in surprise. “Are you okay?”
“No!” I said. “I’ve got four different bones either broken or almost so! That’s why I’m here.”
“I meant the other kind of okay,” Hannah said quietly. I’d always known her to be down-to-earth and a hard worker, but now she was showing the kind of weird sort of emotion that can only be described as female.
I didn’t respond. Of course, I knew what she was talking about, and it was a legitimate concern, but I guess I had some sort of psychological defense mechanism that prevented me from thinking about it too quickly. So I just kept quiet. Hannah didn’t talk any more. She just finished grinding the herbs, said another spell, popped the liner out of the thingy and slathered the paste onto the side of my nose. The herbs, which were cold, felt good but stung at the same time.
Hannah took the tea towel back from me and pulled up my shirt. Her hands were still cold from the herbs as she felt along my ribs gently, finding the damaged ones. Not that I was complaining. Any shred of cold dissociated the situation from the desert. I was still sweating.
She brought my hand to the damaged spot to mark it as she crossed the room again for the ice pack, wrapping it in a tea towel and then rummaging around for another one.
Hannah said a spell over the tea towel, which extended. She folded the ice-pack bundle into it and wrapped it snugly around my ribs. It felt extremely good, but extremely sore.
“I won’t do magic for this,” Hannah said. “It needs to heal on its own. In the circumstances, the drawbacks from using magic to heal you outweigh the quick recovery. It would make you too silly to do anything, and it’s too risky to have you out of action. You’re more prepared to fight with a few damaged ribs and a fractured shin than you would be if all you could do was sit around and stare at the ceiling, making squeaky noises and smiling vaguely. That’s what most of the magical patients do.”
Chirrrrrup, I thought. Then I wished I hadn’t. I still didn’t know where Phoebe was, or if she was actually all right. And whether or not she was condemned to baby-hood for a third time.
“Where’s Leslie?” I asked, as Hannah attended to my shin.
“Being healed up by Dr. Wynne, I think,” Hannah said. “She was very reluctant to stick around. I don’t think she trusts us a whole lot. She does have a point, though, after what happened to Phoebe.”
“But… oh, that time,” I said. My brain had still been fixed on how she was doing now, a situation for which the Agency couldn’t be blamed. Well, you probably could find something to blame them for if you really tried, but when it came down to it, this was a combination of bad circumstances.
“Yeah, that time,” Hannah said. “I think you need to sleep off the excess crazy before you try to do anything else. Rest, ice, compression, elevation… you know?”
“Maybe that would be a good idea,” I said, grinning.
Then Key came in. She had taken the least amount of damage out of all of us, but was still blood-stained and shell-shocked.
“Mark’s all right, then,” she said breathily. Seemed like she’d been running or something.
“And out cold,” Hannah answered. “I used a little magic. He’ll be all right when he wakes up. Maybe a little silly, but he should still be fully functional. I stopped the bleeding and got the bullet out. Mostly muscle damage. It was a bit of an adventure working on a polar bear!”
“So he’s all right,” Key said. “All right.”
And then she left.
“Sorry about that,” I said to Hannah. “Her main method of dealing with stress is generally to freak out, then punch somebody on the jaw or nose. It can be pretty useful in the right situation.”
“Almost everything is useful in the right situation,” Hannah said. “Now… go to bed!”
Usually, I’d argue. This time, I was exhausted anyway. So I went to bed.
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