Battle of Little Sickbay

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Title: Battle of Little Sickbay
Category: Humour/Drama
Rating: PG
Summary: The big guns are at it again: Malcolm keeps refusing to do as the doctor orders, so Phlox has to resort to extreme measures to get his patient to be, well, patient.
Author's Notes: Not one of my personal favourites, but the title has me smiling every time ;)

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Murphy's Law: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

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Another away mission, another injury to add to a rapidly-growing catalogue. Despite his best intentions, despite taking the Kyrnia (the Denobulan version of the Hippocratic oath), despite any compassion he felt for treating his patients and ensuring their fast and safe recovery, this was the only thought running through Doctor Phlox's mind as he ran a medical scanner over his patient.

The man was a walking disaster zone. Surely this couldn't be normal, couldn't be typical of all human ordnance officers. In which case, what was this particular officer doing wrong? Did he deliberately set himself up for alien onslaughts? Did he actively invite fellow crewmen to take close-range pot shots at him during phase pistol training? Could so skilled a crewmember be so unbelievably clumsy when it came to all things heavy and awkward?

And what on Denobula had he done to deserve this? Phlox wasn't particularly religious - heck, he wasn't religious at all, but even he was willing to consider the possibility that he had done something very wrong and heinous in a past life to warrant such torture in this.

It was times like this that he very briefly regretted agreeing to stay on board an Earth vessel for such a long period of time. But only briefly. The many merits of studying human culture at such close quarters did, after all, far outweigh the few moments of tribulation he experienced when treating Lieutenant Malcolm Reed on what felt like an almost weekly basis, the injuries of whom would soon be enough to fill an entire medical journal. Likely one of the bigger ones he had encountered at medical college on Denobula.

Breaking from his thoughts, the doctor studied the readout from his scanner and sighed. This wasn't going to be easy. "Lieutenant," he began. Best to keep things as cordial as possible before things spiralled out of control.

"Doctor." Things didn't sound good.

"According to this you appear to have sprained your left ankle rather badly. Dare I ask how this happened?"

Malcolm scowled. "I was down on the planet's surface with Ensign Rose, carrying out a series of security sweeps and scans of a series of rocky outcroppings. Rose tripped over a boulder of some design, fell on top of me and pushed me rolling down the hill. Thereby doing this," he finished irritably, indicating a thoroughly bruised, swollen and multi-coloured left ankle. "And if you don't mind, Doctor, I really should be going. Rose may be competent most of the time, but I'll be damned if I let him near those cannons unsupervised for too long." He manoeuvred himself into a sitting position and made as if to actually climb off the biobed.

"Actually, Lieutenant, I do mind," Phlox said, allowing a warning note to enter his normally cheerful voice. "You've managed to inflict quite a bit of damage to that ankle. I don't want you using it for at least a whole day."

A look appeared on the lieutenant's face, vaguely reminiscent of just about every other time he had stayed under the doctor's care for more than two hours at a time. It suggested that Phlox had somehow managed to get both the diagnosis and prognosis for Malcolm wrong, and if not rectified soon then said medical officer would die a slow, torturous, ignoble and painful death.

Sadly, he was growing accustomed to its appearance - already had, in fact - and it was spared no more than a single raised eyebrow as he prepared some old-fashioned bandages and a pain hypospray.

By the time he had turned back around, Lieutenant Reed had disappeared, and the doors to sickbay were just closing with a faint hiss.

Phlox sighed again. He had expected something like this. After all, it could be quite dangerous to underestimate the armoury officer where personal injuries were concerned. With the ease and smoothness of long preparation and the anticipation of numerous case scenarios, he moved over to a container that was home to a particularly pungent Polurian reptile, and moved it to one side. Underneath its original position was a medium-sized dent in the supporting surface, a construction defect. Phlox had seen no reason to report it once he realised what it could be used for.

He reached into the dent and pulled out a small, sleek hypospray that shone at odd angles, indicating it had never been used. At least, he amended, it hadn't been used yet.

He sighed again before laying the spray down on one of the work surfaces. Drastic times did call for drastic measures, after all. Using the main sickbay computer, he called up the area of the ship where Malcolm was currently located.

He pressed the comm button on the little panel adjacent, and it chirped. "Sickbay to Lieutenant Reed."

Silence. No response, and once more Phlox rued the day he had agreed to a human captain's absurd proposal that he take care of a wounded Klingon on an alien ship's maiden flight.

He tried again. "Lieutenant Reed, please report to Sickbay immediately."

Again, no response. Either Malcolm Reed was incapacitated, too busy to answer a comm hail, or was simply being stubborn as only he knew how to be.

Phlox wasn't a betting man, but mentally he wagered on the third option being closest to the truth. In which case he would have to do something about it.

Feeling quite the air of apprehension around him, a rather unusual sensation for him, Phlox left sickbay, taking the sleek hypospray with him, having tucked it safely into a pocket within easy reach if need be.

The medical scan had shown the presence of a possibly unsafe alien microbe in the armoury officer's ankle, one that had somehow managed to escape detection in decon, and like it or not, the lieutenant had to be treated before something went wrong.

Knowing Malcolm Reed as well as he did, no thanks and of course partially due to the man's many trips to Sickbay, Phlox was also willing to wager that something would most likely go very wrong if given even the slightest chance in that direction.

The doctor would later learn that this was commonly referred to as Murphy's, or Sod's, Law.


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Newton's Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

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Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker was the last person left in the mess hall, combining checking the day's engineering reports with downing a slice of hot rhubarb pie. Variety was the spice of life, after all, although in his mind pecans were the be all and end all; that was how it was going to stay.

Chef didn't agree with him, though. Today it was either rhubarb pie or no pie. Trip had had a really taxing day with the engines, and he wanted pie.

Hell, rhubarb would do.

Trip hadn't been on the survey mission that had gone down to the uninhabited M-class planet that afternoon (no engineers needed), but Travis Mayweather had and within ten minutes of his return to Enterprise the helmsman had made sure that everyone knew how 'clumsy' Ensign Matthew Rose had tripped and sent his C.O. rolling down a long, high hill (Travis had, of course, been witness to the whole thing).

It therefore came as no surprise to the chief engineer to see a very pissed-off looking Malcolm Reed stalk into the mess hall with a sour expression on his face and head over to the drinks dispenser. It also didn't escape Trip's notice that Malcolm had a very slight limp in his left foot, and he wondered to himself if Malcolm had been to see Phlox about it or not... probably not, given the lieutenant's track record with the physician.

Malcolm pulled the mug out from underneath the dispenser, oblivious to the presence of any other people in the mess, and sat down in the nearest available chair. Amused, Trip watched him alternate between glaring out of one of the windows and glaring into his mug, which was steaming a little. The comm panel on the wall chirped once or twice, but neither man made any move to answer it, nor did they acknowledge the sound at all.

Eventually the engineer finished his pie and decided to give up on the rest of the report; it wasn't anything that couldn't be done tomorrow, after all. Rising from his chair he walked quietly over to where Malcolm was now staring into the murky depths of his untouched mug and lightly tapped the man's shoulder.

The effect was instantaneous. The armoury officer jumped about five or six inches, jerked violently and whirled around on his seat to find his attacker. Only to find Trip Tucker grinning.

"Woa, Loo-tenant," he said, still chuckling, "where's the fire?"

Malcolm glowered, but said nothing.

"Mind if I join ya?" Trip asked, indicating the table.

Still glowering, Malcolm nodded, and Trip sat down.

"How're ya feelin'?" he asked nonchalantly.

"Fine," was the gritted response.

"Is that 'fine-I-just-got-a-nasty-little-boo-boo-on-my-head', or 'fine-except-I-seem-to-be-at-Death's-door-with-God-knows-how-many-freakin'-injuries-and-do-I-look-like-I-need-to-see-a-doctor'?" Trip enquired innocently, grinning at the slightly annoyed expression on Malcolm's face. A few seconds later he caved in. "I know about you rollin' down the hill, Mal," he continued. "Come to think of it, most of the ship knows by now."

"What a pleasant thought," Malcolm replied acerbically. "And no to all of the above. I do not have a 'boo-boo' on my forehead or in any other place. I am not about to keel over at any given moment. I do not have any life-threatening injuries, and I've already seen Phlox this evening."

"You don't wanna make that a repeat performance?" Trip asked.


"'Cause I saw ya limpin' when you came in here," he explained. "Not too much, but enough for me to know that ankle o' yours in gonna hurt in the mornin'."

Malcolm stared long and hard at him. "I think I'll be the judge of that. Mister Tucker," he said evenly. "And while there is some pain attached to this, I assure you it's not anything that I can't handle."

"Okay, okay, I believe ya," Trip said quickly, holding his hands up in mock-defence. "And speakin' of which," he added, looking over the edge of the table, "is your ankle s'posed to be that... big?"

Malcolm leaned down as well, and had a look for himself. "Oh dear God," he said when he got back up, "I do believe that's called bruising. Trust me, Commander, I've had much worse in my time, and it'll have gone completely down by the morning."

"That your expert medical opinion?" Trip asked sarcastically.

Malcolm shot him a dirty look. "If it's still swollen in the morning, I'll go and see the doctor," he said in a tone that implied he would do no such thing if he could at all help himself.

Trip nodded, accepting that he had just lost that little battle. "'Kay," he acquiesced. "See that ya do."

Before Malcolm could say anything else the mess hall doors hissed open. Both men looked up to see Phlox walk in with purpose in his step and a smile on his face.

"Evenin', Doc!" Trip called out.

"Commander," Phlox replied. "Lieutenant."

Malcolm gave a curt nod in response, said nothing, and pointedly resumed glaring into his mug (which wasn't steaming any more, Trip noted).

"Mister Reed," the doctor continued blithely. I'm afraid your departure from Sickbay earlier was a little more premature than I would have liked."

Malcolm's head snapped up. He then stood up slowly and silently placed his chair inbetween him and the Denobulan, who was still smiling.

"If you'll accompany me back there Mister Reed, I have a few more scans I need to perform on you before I can officially declare you fit for your next duty shift."

Still silent, Malcolm shook his head slowly and began backing away from the chair, occasionally letting off the tiniest indication of pain when he leaned too heavily on the bruised ankle.

"Mal," Trip said uncertainly, in some attempt to persuade his friend, "bein' stubborn ain't gonna help ya right now." There was no sign that the armoury officer had heard him, so the engineer let it go, but watched the proceedings with a concerned eye.

Malcolm was now about six feet behind his original table, and showing no signs of changing direction; for his part, Phlox had reached the same table where Trip still was, and was now in a clear mental debate as to which way around the table he was going to go. Either way Malcolm would probably be able to counter it.

It was then, and only then that Trip noticed a bulge in the breast pocket of the doctor's pale grey tunic... a disturbingly familiar looking bulge...

Trip hoped it wouldn't come to that. It was only a sprained ankle, after all...

After a few seconds' thought, Phlox darted for the left side of the table, away from the person seated there. Instinctively the armoury officer made for the opposite direction, so that they were circling clockwise around the same table, the only noises being almost inaudible grunts of pain from Malcolm.

Without warning, the Denobulan changed direction again and again; each time he was countered by an increasingly agitated-looking Malcolm. "Lieutenant," Phlox said, speaking for the first time in several minutes, "it would be in your best interests to accompany me back to Sickbay."

No response.

"Mister Reed," he tried again, changing tack a little. "There is something in your ankle. I -"

"Something besides the twisted tendons?" Malcolm asked, breaking his unspoken pact of silence.

"Yes!" Phlox practically sighed.

Trip decided that now was likely a good time to voice his own opinion. "Jus' go with him, Mal," he said placatingly, "your tea's still gonna be here when ya get back."

He was barely spared a glance. "I'm perfectly fine, Commander," Malcolm replied evenly. "Or should that be, I will be as soon as I can get back to my quarters," he amended with a mirthless smirk.

"Trust me, Mal." Trip wasn't going to give up that easily. "Your ankle ain't lookin' all that great right now. Maybe the doc can do something for it. Right, Doc?" he asked.

Phlox nodded, but Malcolm wasn't deterred. "I told you, I've had this before," he said, clearly referring to the injury in question. "And I assure you it will be fine by the morning."

"Mal..." Trip floundered for a second, then gave up. He wasn't going to change his friend's mind, and he knew it. Stubborn Brits, he thought to himself. Wonder how far that stick got jammed up his ass...

But as it happened, he wasn't going to get a chance find out; for no discernible reason Malcolm tripped, stumbled and fell onto the floor of the mess, panting a lot heavier than he had a few seconds earlier, temporarily winded.

It was all the time Phlox needed. Quickly and quietly he slipped around to the other side of the table and knelt down by Malcolm's wheezing form. "I apologise, Lieutenant," he said sincerely, "but this is necessary for you to make a full recovery."

As the armoury officer mumbled something, Phlox reached into his breast pocket and withdrew a gleaming silver hypospray - confirming the chief engineer's suspicions - and held it to Malcolm's neck.

The effect was almost instantaneous; Malcolm collapsed then and there, right where he was, and a few seconds later the only noise in the mess was the sound of heavy, sedated breathing.

Trip stood up, stunned. "Was... was that completely necessary, Doc?" he asked.

Phlox nodded. "I'm afraid so, Commander. The injury he sustained was quite a bit more serious than he anticipated."

"Definitely," Trip said. Then, "How's he gonna be, then?"

Phlox didn't smile. "I assure you, Lieutenant Reed will be just fine."


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Boyle's Law: Gas expands when it is heated, and represses when it is cooled.

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 Trip ended up having to help Phlox carry the unconscious armoury officer to Sickbay, and was more than a little surprised to find that the normally light-sleeper they were carrying didn't so much as twitch as they made their way through a maze of corridors and lifts.

"Tell me somethin' Doc, will ya?" Trip finally asked as they laid the prone Malcolm onto one of the sickbay biobeds. "When is an armoury officer not an armoury officer?"

Phlox looked up in confusion, then grinned. "Oh!" he said. "Is this similar to those riddles Crewman O'Malley tells?"

Trip grimaced, knowing O'Malley's sense of humour. "Not quite," he said. "But close."

"Ah," Phlox replied reasonably. "Well then, Commander. I'm afraid you'll have to provide the answer. Tell me, when is an armoury officer not an armoury officer?"

"When he's out cold in a medical bay and loaded up to the eyeballs with... what the hell did you give him back there?" Trip asked, trying hard to keep the slow-rising irritation out of his voice.

Phlox didn't answer him straight away; instead he had picked up a medical scanner and passed it over to the confused commander. "Take a look for yourself, Commander," he said genially.

Trip did so. On the little readout screen there was a miniature diagram of Malcolm's injured ankle, along with minutiae information scrolling down next to it. A few seconds later, he had cottoned on. "That's not s'posed to be there, is it?" he asked.

"I'm afraid not, Mister Tucker," Phlox answered, clearly knowing what the other man was talking about. "That was why I was so insistent the Mister Reed returned to Sickbay. As you can quite plainly see."

"You coulda told him this back in the mess, y'know," Trip countered. "Tellin' him mighta made him agree ta come down here without needin' to knock him out."

Again, no answer, but the doctor started bustling around Sickbay, eventually reaching into one covered metal container and withdrawing something nestled tightly in his closed hand. "A Tenebian parasite," he said, answering the unasked question. "Give it a couple of hours and Mister Reed will be as right as rain!"

"Uh, sure," Trip said slowly as he watched Phlox opened his hand and he got his first clear view of the little slug-like creature. "Let me know when he wakes up, Doc. I, uh... I gotta go." He then left without waiting for a response or to see what the little beastie of Phlox's was capable of doing.


Some time later
"How're ya feelin', Malcolm?"

"Like someone ran over my leg with a starship."

"Ah. Feelin' okay otherwise?"


"But you're fine now, though. Doc did a good job on ya."

"That still remains to be seen."

"Yeah, I guess. Anythin' I can get you?"

"Besides out of here?"

"Which ya know I can't do."

"Then no, there's nothing you can do right now, Trip. Nothing at all."

"Okay, then. Tell me, Loo-tenant. Is there anythin' you've learned from this little... incident?"

"Of course."

"An' that would be..."

"I am never taking Ensign Rose on a survey mission again."

"Anythin' else?"

"No, not unless there was something you wanted to fill in for me?"

"Nope, nothin' at all, Malcolm. Look, I gotta go check in on Engineerin'. Get better soon."

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