Chapter 10: Returgent
AN: J-J-J-Joker face. J-J-Joker face *insert lady GaGa noise*.
as The Doctor would say... Allon-sy! (...Or Geronimo, if you're a Matt Smith lover)
I'll shut up now and let you get on with reading the story. Much lovecakes *kisskiss* xx
Morning rises as refreshing as settled dew on summer's first berries. I bathe in it's radiance absorbing the sunshine through my open pores and letting it soak into my tumbled-down hair. I climb up from the floor to see that Andri, the older doctor's make-shift replacement, is still in slumber. Not wanting to wake him, I sweep across the floor to the bars of the adjoining cell, something warming inside as I see Bane's face, forehead pulled taught in an uncomfortable expression, even in sleep. I wonder if he can still feel the pain of his injury in this state.
Careful not to wake him, I slip a hand through the bars and place it on the bed sheet over his chest. His heart beats lightly against my fingertips, and I close my eyes a while, concentrating on it. Feeling that steady thump brings me more peace of mind than I thought possible in this place.
I break the bond a moment when I hear a light scritching sound from inside Bane's cell and see the old doctor sat across from him, bundle of blanket across his lap.
I smile weakly, feeling a blush creep over my ruddy cheeks. The ageing doctor gives a half-smile back, then mutters something lightly under his breath before moving over to Bane's side of the room. He plunges a cloth into a half-filled basin of water then presses the rag against the sleeping Bane's forehead, causing him to shudder awake from the shock of the stagnant cold water.
He tries to sit up, and the doctor presses his hand onto his collar, reassuring him to lie back. I stare at Bane's flustered eyes a moment, indulging in their brilliance a half-second before drawing attention to myself.
"Bane," I say, and his eyes follow beneath his knotted brow as he locks my gaze.
"You're okay," I say quickly and with immense relief, although I knew this already from Andri last night.
"I've been worried sick," I say, wanting to reach out to him again, but I restrain myself. He ignores my words, glancing about the room with his brow crossed, then says half-alert,
"How did you... he went and got you?" He tries to confirm, attempting to sit upright although it's clearly great strain.
"No-" I answer, assuming he's referring to Andri, "I managed- lie back down- I sneaked down last night."
"What?" He says, voice grumbled through pain, "...how did you-?"
"I... convinced one of the men to open the cell door, then came down here," I answer vaguely.
"...How did you 'convince' him?" Bane asks knowingly with his arm drawn over his eyes.
"...I... used my... womanly charms," I say with disdain, knowing that he already has guessed this. "Never mind that... are you alright?"
He groans as if to affirm this, pulling his hand to his lower back. Just on time, the old doctor reappears and gestures for Bane to sit up- he reaches for his arm but Bane refuses, talking him down and hauling his torso into sitting position with a great, agonized moan. He's shirtless again, I see, the covers of the shallow bed falling back. To the lower right of his spine is a yellowed bandage, speckled from years of reuse, bleeding through red- I look down to the bed and see an equally dark patch in the corresponding place.
"How serious is it?" I ask worriedly, and he turns his head to me nonchalantly.
"A flesh wound at best," he calls groggily, "it's nothing."
"Bane, you got stabbed," I say expressively, shocked by how dismissive me is of the matter.
"It's nothing," he repeats in a darker tone, turning to face me so that the old doctor can inspect the stab wound, though with his poor eyesight I doubt if he's the best person for the job.
As if on cue, there is a dry sort of cough from the room I'm in and I turn to see Andri groaning to life.
"As-Salâm Alaikum," he mutters hoarsely, heaving himself from his bed.
"Wa-laikum as-Salâm," replies the old doctor as he pulls back the bandage, and Bane winces.
"I presume this will be a regular occurance,"
Andri says blankly, "your waking me up in the seething hours of the morning, with your talking."
"Sorry," I say with a half smile, watching as he blithers around the cell, searching for something, by the looks of it.
"Here we go," he says a few seconds later, picking up an old key, then he moves to the join between the two cells and sticks the key into the lock of the barred door, twisting it so that it unlocks, opening the two cells into one. Andri moves through and talks to the older doctor; "Hida, Bobby, Hida."
Waving his hand, the proud older man goes back to his work and Andri is left to stand and wait till he is finished. Andri looks up to me, catching me watching Bane.
"Are you going to stand and watch him all day or are you to come through?" He says, beckoning me through the door, "hida, Gotze- Hida! We do not have all day!- well, we do, but... that is beside the point..."
I stand upon order and move through the door, where Andri motions for me to sit on the side of the doctor's bed.
"O'pra," Andri says to the doctor, sounding slightly annoyed, then he jabbers on at him in Arabic and with a rustful retort the older man hands Andri the cloth and what appear to be tweezers.
A good ten silent minutes pass, crushed only by the occasional exhale of pain from Bane as the doctor works away at the stab wound.
At a particularly painful part, Bane flips out on Andri, and the doctor throws back with a reaming lecture, calling him a 'Budalla' several times in the process. I don't know what this means, but it doesn't sound too complimentary, and it seems to put Bane back in his place.
"Lie on your front," Andri tells Bane, who looks hideously against this idea and begins, with great difficulty, to lower himself face-down onto the bed with a groan. The doctor's assistant gives him a firm assistance by pressing against his chest until he is flat- Bane groans. Andri's hand begins working at the wounded area again, preparing to redress the wound.
These two cells, though cast further into the weathering of the sun, are individually larger than Bane's upstairs, with half-decent furnishings- hand-constructed beds, made from the wooden crates which delivered the leeks and oats- and more crates stacked upon each other to serve as chairs and desks; luxury compared to our modest cardboard tower.
"It's nice in here," I say, smiling at the interior.
"'Nice?!'" Scoffs Andri, "come now, do not lie to an old man. I have seen nice- up there. This is not nice."
"Well you know, compared with-"
I stop mid-sentence and look to Bane, blushing. "Sorry."
"Well, it will be far less 'nice' now there will be four people living in it- more beds means less space, but sacrifices must be made, I suppose..."
I count up the people in the room in my head again, reviewing what he's saying.
"You mean... I can stay down here?"
"Well of course, where else would you go, back to Bane's empty cell? Ha ha. You would not last five minutes. I must admit, the thought of stealing the key to that place off Bane and selling it on to the highest bidder did cross my mind- the key to the only woman this place has seen in six years would surely sell well- but my conscience did catch the better of me."
I feel slightly sick at that, and unsure of how to react to it.
Half an hour or so later, Bane has been sorted and is now lying down on his back, looking utterly exhausted, eyes closed although he is not in sleep, with an expression of determined thought glazing his features. He is clearly in a great deal of pain from the stab wound inflicted to his side, but seems intent on masking this fact- not once does he mention it, simply lies in silence.
I sit opposite him on a wooden crate, feeling awkward due to the absence of Andri, who proclaimed not five minutes ago that he was starving and was off to find food. When I offered to come along and help him, he made a sound which suggested this was the most ridiculous notion he ever heard, stated firmly that he would be far better off without my presence at his side and danced from the cell, reminding the old doctor to lock the cell behind him.
In the silence, I bite at my already worn down nails of my fingers, blotting one on the side of my rather filthy skirt as it starts to bleed. My feet kick rhythmically at the straw covering the floor, which reminds me of the cage of an animal- but then again, that is what this is, isn't it? A cage. Filled with those not deemed fit to walk the sweet surface of the Earth. The condemned.
A sudden torrent of abuse hurls down the stairs, drawing the attention of all the inmates who are awake and waking the rest of them. All heads turn to see a skinny little stubbled man hurtle into our section of the prison web, expression furious and with a scrap of my skirt fabric clinging to his ankle.
His eyes find me first, and I recognize him as the prisoner I used to escape the cell upstairs. Wrists red raw, he does indeed look as though he has spent the night trying to work his way out of the bonds I'd set him in; I mentally compliment myself on my previously undiscovered knot-tying skills.
Face raging, he spits something in tangled Arabic through the bars in my direction, and Bane revives from his limbo state and slowly manages to sit upright- face contorted, he turns his head slowly towards the intruder at the bars and spins a web of words in his direction, encasing the man to paralysis from his angered state. Far more calmly than before, the inmate at the cell front defends himself to Bane, supposedly explaining the situation, his aggravation heightening again mid-sentence as he gestures angrily to me, at which Bane talks him down again; for a second he looks as though he's going to attempt standing up, but his expression changes and he's clearly decided against it.
They talk a further five minutes or so, before the thin man turns from the bars, expression still fiery with annoyance, spits on the ground then slumbers his way back up the sloping stairs.
"Hallelujah that he's gone," I say, rolling my eyes in the departing man's direction.
Bane stays quiet, watching the man's back as he finally disappears into the upper levels of the complex.
"He told me what you did," he says. I sense a slight tinge of accusation in his voice.
"What do you mean?" I ask, trying not to sound offended.
"The way you lured him in," Bane replies, looking at me now. "made him think you would..."
He doesn't finish the sentence; he doesn't have to. There's almost timid revulsion encased behind his dark eyes.
"There are far better ways you could have gone about getting out," he says, voice sounding a little disgusted, as though I'm in the wrong.
"Like what?" I ask. He gives no response, just stares out of the cell bars without giving any reaction.
"It got me out of there," I say defensively when I realize he isn't planning on responding, "it worked."
"And what if it hadn't?" Bane snaps. "Do you have any idea what could have- would have happened-"
"Of course I do!" I say in a raised voice, "but what was I supposed to do, just sit up there and wait to starve to death?!"
"That wouldn't happen," Bane says, head now bowed, "I wouldn't have let that happen; you know this. Andri-"
"-planned on selling the key to the cell, Bane. Didn't you hear him earlier? The fact of the matter is, I did what I had to. Yes, it was risky, but I didn't have any other options. So- please- don't look at me like I've done something wrong. Just don't do that."
I look back to Bane to find his expression one of pain- physical pain, and I feel instantly guilty for arguing with him when he's in such a state. I snap my eyes shut and draw away from the world.
The silence has plagued the dingy cell since Andri departed wafts through again, festering in the corners and putrefying the already dense air. I bat it away with the inner workings of my mind and block out everything else, veering into the sanctuary of my own thoughts.