• Published 28th Apr 2015
  • 2,952 Views, 80 Comments

Love and Other Bandages - Cold in Gardez

What is the best medicine? How do we respond when life challenges us? Six variations on a theme.

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“Well, good afternoon Miss Rarity,” Nurse Redheart said, looking up from her clipboard as she walked into the partitioned room. “I didn’t think I’d be seeing you back here already.”

Rarity raised an eyebrow. “It’s been two months. That’s more than enough time, I thought.”

“It is, but after last time…” Nurse Redheart trailed off with a shrug and set the clipboard down on the metal cart that followed behind her. She began unsealing the various instruments on it from their plastic covers, and gave the room’s other occupant a smile. “And hello to you too, Fluttershy. Are you donating as well?”

Fluttershy quickly shook her head, scattering pink ribbons of mane all around her shoulders. “Oh no. I just came to make sure Rarity would be okay.”

“That’s very thoughtful of you.” Redheart stepped over to the gurney where Rarity was resting on her belly, her left foreleg already held out in offering. She turned it to expose the bend in Rarity’s knee and felt along the inside of the joint with the tip of her hoof.

It wasn't tender there anymore, but the light pressure was enough to remind Rarity of her last adventure in the clinic. She swallowed soundlessly and tried to ignore the cold sweat breaking out beneath her coat.

It’s easy. You don’t even have to do anything but sit here. She focused on her breathing – deep in, hold, slow out – and watched in silent fascination as Nurse Redheart began scraping the edge of a safety razor against a small patch of her coat, slowly exposing the bare pink skin beneath. Nurse Redheart knew Rarity well enough, it seemed, to keep the shaving to a minimum.

“Need anything? Juice?” Redheart asked. She dropped the used razor in a plastic bin and set out the rest of the materials for the procedure: an empty bag, several feet of clear tubing, a wide elastic band that Rarity knew would pinch when Redheart wrapped it around her leg, a roll of tape, a bottle of iodine, and of course the most dreaded item of all, a short, thick plastic plug. Hiding inside was the beveled needle that would soon be sliding through her skin like it was the softest of silk.

Rarity loved needles, normally. They were the essential tool of her trade, and she could manipulate one better than a surgeon. But this needle was not one of the slender, elegantly eyeletted slivers of metal she was so used to. No, this was a monster, a fang, beveled and hollow and hot. For some reason it felt hot when it went in, which made no sense because metal was cold. But blood was hot; dear Celestia was it her blood she felt last time—

“Rarity?” Fluttershy’s voice broke through the tumble of thoughts ransacking Rarity’s mind.

Rarity turned to see Fluttershy’s face just inches away. She had moved to sit next to her, and draped a wing over her back. It felt warm and soft, and it banished the cold, sweaty chill that threatened to set Rarity shivering.

“Do you still want to do this?” Fluttershy whispered.

Rarity could smell the iodine now, and a moment later felt the rough touch of linen against her bare skin as Nurse Redheart rubbed it on her leg. It trickled into her coat, and she suppressed a wince.

“Of course, darling. I’m absolutely fine.” She smiled for her friend. “You know, the iodine is the worst part. It’s just impossible to get out of my coat, and I’ll have a brown stain on my leg for days.”

“Better than an infection, though!” Nurse Redheart said. She sounded rather chipper about the prospect.

“This is so brave of you,” Fluttershy said. “I don’t think I could ever do this. Especially after last time!”

“Yes, well, we don’t need to talk about last time, do we?” Rarity twitched and forced her leg to stay motionless as Nurse Redheart wrapped the elastic band around it, just beneath her shoulder. It was tight and pinched at her coat, and already she could feel her leg begin to pulse in time with her heartbeat. Blood flowed into the limb, but it couldn't get out.

Nurse Redheart felt Rarity’s skin with the tip of her hoof. “There we go, a nice big vein. Okay, remember, if you feel like you’re going to pass out, say something this time.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Rarity felt like she should have a pithier response, but her full attention was on the needle held in the crook of Redheart’s hoof. It was larger than she remembered, more like a shiv than a pin, a sadist’s version of a soda straw. Dear Celestia, did I say the iodine was the worst part? What was I thinking?

“Okay, this might pinch a little.”

Pinch? A little? Redheart was lying, surely. Rarity opened her dry mouth, ready to call the whole thing off, when Fluttershy’s voice sounded again. It was soft and muffled, as though Rarity’s ears were stuffed with cotton.

She turned. “I’m sorry?”

Fluttershy smiled. “I said it’s okay. I’m here.”

“I know. Thank you.” She let out a long breath before speaking again. “Ow.”