It hasn’t been quite five minutes, and you very much doubt he’s remotely calm, but you think this is probably the best you’re going to get. “Okay, give me the arm that doesn’t have the cannula.” You wheel the blood pressure machine over, attach the cuff to his arm, press the button… and nothing happens.
The screen says 8888 and is flickering slightly.
"Ah," you sigh as you un-velcro the cuff. "That was kind of an expensive machine, Galley." You captchalog it and get your the manual blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. You’ll have to do this the old fashioned way.
You fold into a ball with a creamy traumatized plush animal center. You are impossible. Utterly impossible. You can’t even make the sparks clear up. You, the key mechanism of the Sunslammer, are leaking from the horns like a wiggler.
You think about more dumb screensaver scenery shit but it’s no good. You call up a memory of doing it with Bel. Nice, but not really helpful. Snuggling with LL? You try that. Try to recapture how calm feels. Maybe it helps, you don’t know.
You may or may not be hyperventilating a little bit.
Unbidden to you comes a flashed image of another troll holding a stuffed animal—the same screaming face—in Sigmah’s care.
That fucking violetblooded garbage.
What reason does he have to be afraid of a medical professional? Did him get an owie and they pulled the adhesive medical strip off too hard and hurt him’s little boo-boo?
Cold fury floods you, and you surface from your ball of woe with something like a sneer.
"Well?" you prompt Sigmah. "It’s not gonna go down any lower."
"Yes, I’m getting that," you say sadly. "Well, we’ll do what we can, and maybe Pancho can take your blood pressure at the kitchen table a few times and send me the results." You put the cuff on him, tuck the stethoscope bell under the edge of it, and pump it up with the little black rubber bulb.
The result is a bit high, but you were expecting that, and it’s the relative numbers you’re most concerned with. “Good,” you say as you release the cuff, “That’s pretty normal. Now I’m going to put this strap around your chest, it should fit snugly but not inhibit your breathing.” You fasten the respiration monitor around his ribs, making sure it doesn’t bunch up his t-shirt uncomfortably, and test that you can get a finger in under it easily enough. “Feels all right? Okay, just breathe normally. And this is the blood oxygen monitor, it just clips to your finger.” Clip!
"And now we sit around for a few more minutes. I should’ve told you to bring something to read, sorry."
"He’s got books in his head," Bel points out, as if you’re a bit slow, and you have to concur that you are being a silly butt to forget that.
"Don’t need ‘em," You say flatly. You are staring intently at a certain photograph in your head.
You are, for the first time in your life, experiencing a horrible, wonderful feeling that is both completely illegal and so powerful that it’s distracting you from your own anxiety.