Challenge: Papaya #23 - You've Outdone Yourself; Guava #2 - Why Can't You Be More Like ____?
Word Count: 975
Summary: Arkadiy has a very low boredom threshold and a talent for causing trouble; you'd think the nurses would never let him out their sight...
Notes: Well this turned up in my head two days ago and flat out refused to leave. I hope I've evicted it now. If anything writing seems to have got more difficult, not less, and I got halfway through before I [realised I] was writing it in Jones' POV - so apologies for, well, everything really. Interestingly, I have no idea who Jones actually is, beyond a reference to the cat in Alien...
“Oi, Jonesy, give me a hand.”
The man in the opposite bed laughed. “You’ve got two perfectly good ones of your own!”
“Yeah,” Arkadiy grinned, “and you’ve got two perfectly good legs you’re not using.”
Jones gestured with his left hand to his empty right sleeve and made an offensive gesture at the other soldier, then laughed again and slid from the bed. “What you want, anyway?”
Arkadiy’s grin widened. “Some fun. Can you find me a wheelchair?”
“A wheelchair?” His grin faded as the other man gave him a strange look. “Alleycat, aren’t you supposed to- Y’know, stay put?”
"I've stayed put every day since they transferred me here," he leaned forward and folded his arms over the remains of his thighs, staring up at Jones with angry blue eyes. "I've got no choice but to stay put."
Jones stared at him for a few moments longer before the corner of his mouth quirked up into a half-smile that made the other soldier's grin return full-force. "I'll see what I can do."
"You're sure you don't need any help?"
"It's my legs, not my brain, Jonesy." His teeth were gritted despite the smile as he maneuvered himself into the chair. More difficult than he'd expected; he let himself take a few deep breaths and rubbed one hand across his face. But such a relief not to be stuck in that bed any more... He looked up at the sergeant's concerned expression and laughed. "Thanks."
“Hey, Jonesy!” Another voice from halfway across the ward caught both men’s attention: a young soldier with cropped brown hair waved vigorously at him. “Can you get me one’a those too?”
“Jeez, what am I? General fuckin’ Dogsbody?” Jones grumbled, clearly doing his best to ignore the sound of Arkadiy’s laugh as he trudged off to comply with the other soldier’s request.
“Hey, hey, Jonesy!” A third man yelled. “While you’re getting his…”
“Alleycat Olenov, you bastard, look what you’ve started!” Jones yelled back over his shoulder at the still-laughing Arkadiy. “What you guys planning to do anyway? Not like there’s anything to actually, y’know, do here.”
He assumed the most innocent expression imaginable, rolling himself over to the other two men as the sergeant returned with two more chairs. “Well, there is something we can do…”
As he outlined his plan, it was all he could do not to start laughing again, this time at Jones’ priceless expression. “Dear God, the nurses are gonna kill you themselves…!”
Arkadiy gently patted the man's arm. “Quit complaining and get officiating.”
"Can't believe I'm doing this," Jones muttered, gripping the shirt and staring at the three men lined up at the makeshift starting line. "On your marks..." He halfheartedly waved his 'flag'; "go."
All three men, cheered on by other patients on the ward, lurched away from what passed for a starting line with various degrees of speed and straight faces, racing toward the finish line at the far end of the long room. A finish line - a whole race - that became abruptly much shorter when a nurse appeared in the doorway, staring in open-mouthed shock. "What the hell is going on here?" And when silence descended and all but one of the patients had the grace to look at least a little contrite, she added with a long suffering sigh, "would I be correct in assuming this is somehow your fault, Captain Olenov?"
He shrugged, tilting his head to one side and smiling up at her. "Is there a problem, nurse?"
She sighed, turning his chair and moving him back towards his bed. Briefly he considered gripping the wheels, stopping her from shifting him, but relented; it wasn't her fault he was so damn bored. "I swear you've outdone yourself this time. Why must you misbehave so, Captain?"
It was his turn to sigh, leaning his head back to stare up at her. "I can't help it." It was the honest answer and despite - or perhaps because of - her sad smile he suspected she believed him.
"Can you please try to behave in the future?" She reached out to help him from the chair; he stopped her with a gesture. "And when I say the future, I mean, of course, now."
Jones wandered toward them. "Is he not listening to you again?"
Arkadiy almost choked at the sight of the sergeant's virtuous expression. "You-"
The nurse lightly slapped Arkadiy's upper arm and looked severely down at her wayward charge. "Now why can't you be more like Sergeant Jones here? He never causes me any trouble."
The soldier's mouth opened and closed a few times, trying to formulate an answer to convey his indignation at this blatant lie; finally he dropped his chin to his chest and smiled instead. "If you say so." He gripped Jones' offered wrist and managed somehow to push himself back into bed. "He's got his uses, anyway."
The nurse pursed her lips as Arkadiy winked at his friend. "I will deal with you later, Captain Olenov."
As she turned away to oversee the two other racers, already being helped back into bed by friends, he couldn't help himself: "I hope you will..."
She glanced back at him. He braced himself for another telling-off; this time it was his jaw that dropped as she winked at him and tapped her lips twice, silently. Before he could respond, she was striding towards another bed.
"Did I- Did she..."
"What?" Jones gave him another of his looks that told him he thought his superior officer had taken leave of his senses. "Did she what?"
"Nothing." Arkadiy smiled, pulling his sheet back over himself and elbowing his pillow into shape. Suddenly, he thought, he might just have something to look forward to.