A Minor Misdemeanor

Chapter 33

The Doctor sat there for a moment, before producing a small leather wallet from somewhere in his coat.

"John Smith, UNIT. The girl and her wife are with me." He told the startled nurse, flashing the contents, which included the latest photograph he'd been able to extract from one of the human photograph kiosks that seemed to be liberally distributed around larger food shops. He also held out a business card.

"There's a number on the card. Or you can find a number for yourself, I don't really care." He told her, handing it over.

Reluctantly, she dialled the number on the card, and spoke to someone at the other end, before looking up and describing his appearance and manner.

Then Vastra, for reasons best known to the Silurian, decided to take her veil off with a hiss reminiscent of a boiler venting steam.

The nurse turned white.

"She's from a species known as Homo reptilia, or as Silurians, from before current recorded history. Normally, she lives in Victorian London. She is perfectly friendly, and would like you to treat her wife."

"E..." The nurse said, before seemingly plucking up some courage.

"Would you kindly get out of my light, Madam?" She asked.

Vastra gave her a look, before getting back to the important business at hand, namely nuzzling Jenny and crooning to her.

"Vastra, let the human do her thing. She knows what she's doing."

Reluctantly, the Silurian backed away, before allowing the nurse access to Jenny. The woman knelt over the smaller human, before conducting a more detailed head to toe than her first assessment.

"Jenny, I'm going to have to examine your ankle now." She told the smaller human after perhaps five minutes of careful examination, her voice very tender. "I'll have to cut the cast off first, and It'll hurt a bit, and then I'll know if you need an X-Ray or not."

"Uh." Jenny groaned." If you 'ave t'." It was the first coherent sentence she'd managed to produce since entering the examination bay.

Vastra winced as the woman powered up a small circular cutter, which made a most irritating noise as it sheered through the gypsum plaster, before the layers of plaster were peeled away, allowing Vastra her first look at the actual injury. The ankle was swollen and bruised, and she could see the sudden strain in her little ape's body as the cast was pulled away.

Gently, the nurse probed Jenny's ankle, eliciting a series of groans from Jenny, each of which caused a highly protective Vastra to briefly glare at the woman, before finally stepping over and enveloping her wife's hand between both of her larger, scaly hands, and allowing the soft, cool scales on her palms to press against Jenny's, giving the small ape something to focus on other than the continued pain in her ankle.

"Were you two playing some kind of bondage game or something when she fell?" The nurse asked, curiously. "I can't think exactly where those injures could have come from otherwise. Still, I understand why you wanted a better equipped hospital to take a look at these."

Vastra briefly looked away, the scales on her face turning darker in what could only be described as an embarrassed blush.

The nurse just rolled her eyes slightly, before looking up at the Doctor again.

"Her ankle is too bruised for me to be able to tell if she's broken anything. I'll need to send her through to X-ray to get a definitive answer."

"What exactly is an X-Ray?" Vastra asked, curiously.

"We use a machine that generates X-Ray radiation, and expose a photographic plate with the limb placed between the plate and the source."

Vastra's tongue flicked out briefly, in alarm. "You want to irradiate her?"

"The level of exposure isn't very great. No more than a few milliards."

The Doctor said something briefly in Silurian, and Vastra replied in the same language, before glaring suspiciously at the nurse.

"Miss, let 'er." Jenny groaned, turning slightly paler than before. "She aten't goin' to 'urt me more'n my leg does."

She's lapsing into street-ape. Vastra realised with a wince. The last time she did that was when she fell off the roof while fixing that damned chimney. I didn't understand half the words she used while she was hanging from her ape climbing harness, so I guess it must have been. And it wasn't my fault the ladder was too short. She thought, grinning. The fire apes had to come and rescue her, not to mention the sleet, which I believe is what the apes call frozen water crystals that don't settle on anything. She grinned slightly at the image of her wife, wearing a pair of trousers, and dangling from a climbing harness that left her suspended about twenty feet above Paternoster Row, and most of a metre away from the wall, with a rope too damp to get a grip on, even in work gloves. She had been forced to dodge several masonry repair tools as a reward for standing there making a sissing noise. To be fair, Jenny hadn't thrown them very hard, or particularly aimed them at her.

In the end, they'd been forced to summon a wagon about twenty feet long, with what at first looked like a wooden ladder laid along the top. It had been swiftly and carefully rotated until it was pointed slightly below Jenny, and then the rattle of a chain on gears had driven Vastra backwards as the ladder was slowly extended under her wife, at which point, one of the fire apes gallantly clambered up the ladder, holding a short boathook, which he used to snare the line and haul Jenny onto the ladder, taking a firm grip on her harness before allowing her to untie herself, then pulling her onto the ladder in a single move that had brought applause from the inevitable audience of costermongers, tinkers, shop keepers and passers-by that seemed, by some inevitable law of the universe, to congregate wherever there was something interesting, or possibly something was about to happen.

Reluctantly, Vastra glanced at the human woman before nodding.

"I will be allowed to accompany my wife?" She asked.

"Not into the room itself," the nurse began, at which point Vastra started bristling again. "It's NHS policy. We aren't allowed to have anyone who isn't behind a screen in the room with an X-Ray machine. You'll be as close to her as we are." She nervously reassured the Silurian.

A few moments later, the nurse pressed a small control on her desk, before speaking into a small grill. Shortly afterwards, another human, wearing a similar uniform, came into the room, and placed his feet briefly on two pedals at the base of the gurney Jenny was lying on, allowing him to push it through the door of the triage bay and into the main corridor, Vastra following close behind once wearing her veil and skullcap.

Jenny's eyes were like saucers as she rolled through the building, which was lit with massive numbers of electric lights far brighter than anything she'd seen at home, even when Vastra took her to lectures with a stern look on her face, or to watch everyone else watching a play in the west end, although the habitual pause at a fish and chip shop was also one of the silurian's objectives, she guessed. The last tough to attempt the mugging of an old widow and her small vulnerable maid had ended up as the main course for Vastra' s dinner, along with a plum compote and something Jenny had found down at the docks while exploring, called dolmardes, which appeared to be vine leaves, judging by the flavour, somewhat reminiscent of wine, at least according to silurian taste buds.

The rapid sequence of glowing tubes overhead quickly hypnotised Jenny as they swept past, pulsing in her somewhat muzzy mind, already lifted slightly out of her body by the dose of morphine she'd received an hour before, which had been the maximum safe dose for her body size, and had dulled her pain enough she'd been able to drowse. Now, with the flicker of fluorescent tube lights overhead, her muzzy-headedness very quickly became stupor, as the floor and movement of the trolley were smooth enough that there was no random noise to prevent her from sleeping.

She was brought sharply awake when she felt her injured leg being slowly lifted, before it was let back down and she could feel a rough, rubber surface, almost like the device she used when attempting to remove most of the evidence of one of Vastra's impromptu luncheons. She groaned slightly, before the person standing next to her retreated, and there was a brief noise like the shutter of one of the oversized cameras that the police were beginning to use to record crime scenes.

Vastra had brought her a more or less portable model from America, although she'd also ended up buying the materials to transform one of the disused garrets in the attic into a darkroom, which she was very happy to use in developing prints. She'd been banned from the room by Jenny after they ran out of stop bath for the second time in a week.

It took perhaps a few seconds for the X-ray itself to be retrieved and developed, before then being attached to an illuminated board. Jenny would have taken a large amount of interest, but she had fallen asleep almost as soon as the print was removed from under her leg.

The X-ray technician examined the injury carefully, before turning to Vastra and the Doctor. "Her ankle is not actually fractured visibly on the X-ray, although I cannot rule out a hairline fracture from her pain level. Ideally, I'd like to be allowed to admit her overnight so we can manage her pain levels and prevent further damage."

Vastra looked sceptical.

"Look, we've travelled a fair distance to have her checked out. Is there anything that you can do that would make it safe and practical to discharge her today?" The Doctor asked.

"Not that would be both."

Vastra looked at her small ape, noticing that almost unconsciously she'd slipped into the very defensive posture she'd slept in when Vastra first found her, curled up on her side, forming a slight arch with her body to protect her valuables, and oriented towards the nearest wall.

"I'll allow her to stay in overnight." Vastra said, before giving the Doctor a look. "I require directions to a sweetshop, and ideally a restaurant that serves steak with all the trimmings."

"I can find you a list, Madame." The technician replied, turning towards his computer just long enough for Vastra to take several quick steps across the room and begin examining her wife, before carefully tasting the air she was exhaling.

The technician was unlucky enough to turn around before the prehensile tongue had withdrawn.

"What the fuck?" He yelled. "What... What the hell is she?"

"I am a lizard woman from the dawn of time, here to accompany my wife to hospital." Vastra replied indignantly. "I have not harmed you or any of yours, so you should have no quarrel with me."

With a slightly resigned look on his face, the Doctor just showed his UNIT ID again, before the porter arrived, and transferred Jenny onto a ward.


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