The Cage 
set during the aftermath of this thread, fight night
for Gina/Jackie

A little shaky on his feet, but still standing, Fletch wandered towards the back of the venue and flopped, jelly-like, into a chair. All things considered he felt pretty good, but his neck hurt something fierce, and breathing was an interesting balance between pain and necessity. His tongue poked at the shattered remains of a few teeth.

'Nurse.' The demand rasped from him. 'Yeah, you.' Metaphysically she felt like a budget version of Mathis, a little more on his level. Tormenting another spotty cat felt the best way to restore balance to the universe, so he hailed her with a grin he instantly regretted. He laughed, ragged, and that hurt too. 'Those healing hands of yours any good?'

"Fletch, Fletch, the gaelic wretch,
Big, tough man from overseas,
Couldn't even kick 'em in the knees?
Have an ale, you're looking pale,"

A sing-songed answer to the shitty little ditty he'd delivered her with upon her pitiful victory. She'd approach with a beer in hand, extending it to him with a half-cocked smile. Admittedly, she'd taken some time to come up with a rhyme, and it wasn't near as clever with his. Still, she'd tried. Heidi would send an apologetic glance to the girl that was supposed to be fixing his face, swearing she wouldn't intrude long.

'Hey now, what's this? Pity committee?'

Followed up by a battery of hacking coughs, Fletch at least had the sense to bring the back of his hand to shield his mouth as he accepted his consolation prize. It was blissfully cold, and he sucked down a good couple of draughts before tucking it beside his chair. Heidi got the once over. 'You got a wee skirt and pom poms to go with that?'

Fletch looked a wreck, and yet none of those strikes the cheetah got in had dulled his sharp tongue. Heidi smirked and clicked her tongue into the side of her cheek, shaking her head, ”Sorry, that’s a horror show I reserve for winners, Fletch.”

'Oh.' He turned to face front and folded his arms. Tipped his head toward her to subtly surrender the point. 'Must try harder, then.'

”Be a good patient,” She’d say with a shake of her head and a gentle pat on his shoulder. Didn’t want to hurt him. With that, she’d let the doctor do her work and wandered back into the crowd to watch the next fight.

 Nurse Jackie took no offense to the demand, instead picking up her kit and setting it on the table in front of the coyote. "Some would say so," She answered with a fleeting smile, turning to rummage through her bag as a friend of his came over to... make sure he was okay? Heckle him? She wasn't quite sure, since the other Were seemed to make fun of him, but he did the same right back so it must have been their thing. She wouldn't interrupt.

 They wrapped it up pretty quickly, however, and Jackie took the chance to step forward, eyeing the bruises that were already blossoming across his face and throat. "I'm going to touch your face to see if anything's broken," She advised him in her doctor voice, soft and gentle as her fingers lightly prodded at his jaw line first, focusing to see if she could feel any fractures.

'Thanks -' for the beer, he meant to say. But Heidi left too soon, and the word came gruffer than he meant it; cast him in a sullen light, as though rain clouds gathered about his head. It was certainly starting to feel a little foggy up there.

Didn't matter, he told himself, because he'd bagged the bonniest medic of the bunch. The recurring theme with these slinky, spotty cats. Each of them plucked straight out of Vogue. Beneath the attentive fingertips of this one he quietened in a way that suggested he might have taken his band mate's instruction to heart.

Until he opened his mouth.

'No need to stop there,' he ventured, fighting to keep his face straight. 'Think he got a couple of good ones below the belt, too.'

 She couldn't help the blood rushing to the surface of her skin, causing a bright blush across the bridge of her nose and along her cheekbones. Even her eyes melted into the rosy color of her beast, as she looked at him for a moment, trying to decide whether or not he was serious. It was only a moment before pink gave way to green again, leaving Jackie to blink at him rather owlishly, stammering out a response.

 "Uh... I.. if that's where he hit you, I can certainly um... take a look..." She hadn't watched the fight, after all, and had no idea if he was messing with her or if he had actually been injured.... there. Despite her reaction, her fingers did not falter, sweeping along the line of his jaw and applying a slight pressure here and there. Two fingers on each side of his jaw, placed at the temporomandibular joint, the cheetah gave him an instruction. "Open your mouth and move your lower jaw side to side."

The effect his vague innuendo had on medic made Fletch chortle. Pink suffused her face and her eyes in the way watercolour bleeds across wet paper. Pretty, and so vibrant he expected her hair to follow suit.

'Aye,' he went on, continuing to flap his jaw up and down with the act of talking, instead of left to right as she asked. 'Think my ego took a pounding too. You know any cures for that?'

He wondered how long she had worked in the field, to falter and fall apart as soon as she found herself faced with someone a little mischievous. Pink eyes were plenty endearing. But they tended to raise suspicion amongst ordinary people.

 While she had been taken off guard at first (she had honestly been expecting Weres to have different manners than the people she saw in the emergency room), she regained her composure quickly enough that when he did not do as she asked but instead kept talking and honestly, Jackie wasn't really surprised. "No cures," She said easily enough, gently holding his lower jaw and easing it side to side, listening intently for any kind of sound that would signify bone grinding against bone. "A lifetime sentence to the nearest psychiatric facility might help, however."

 She moved on, green again eyes examining the bruises around his eye sockets. A little pressure here and there, but she felt no concerning breaks. "You might also look into a retirement home. I hear those are good for people your age." She smiled slightly, a glint in her eyes the tell to her joke. "You might have an orbital fracture. Does it hurt when I touch it?"

It was difficult to speak when your jaw was being worked side to side by a physician, but Fletch made his feelings plain enough. A short huff, a roll of the eyes; really, after what the band had hurled at him in the ring this was just a continuation on a theme.

'No.' He lied, betraying himself with a subtle jerk from her grasp. 'Any ones you'd recommend? Shady Pines was mooted earlier. Kind of fancy one that gives twice daily sponge baths by someone fit and female, personally.'

 A quiet laugh came from her, not at his pain but because he had fibbed about his pain. "Oh, come now. You're not that old." She was horribly at carrying a joke along, not wanting to make him feel bad. "You've still got another, what. 30 years?"

 Grasp still light, Jacquelyn held his head in place and touched the area once or twice more. Moments later, she released it, turning to her bag and fished out a sterile hypodermic needle and a vial of laminoamide. Removing the cap from the needle, the blonde filled it with the liquid and advised him of what she was going to do.

 "This is a local anesthetic. It'll help with the initial pain tonight." Carefully, she stuck the needle in different spots along his eyebrow and then down around and along the lower part of his eye, avoiding the lid. "I advise shifting when you get home, both to coyote and back to human. That will help the process along so do it whenever you can. You'll have a nasty bruise for a bit but overall, nothing to worry about. Now, were you hit in the ribs at all?"

Though he would deny it until he was blue in the face, defeat at Mathis' hands had left a small claw of doubt in his rhino-thick skin. Hard to see beyond the muddy layer of bullshit, hidden by wrinkles, it niggled all the same, and when the same tired jokes were made at his expense, time and again, it drove the barb just that little bit deeper.

'Hah! You trying to do me a kindness now, or them?' Laughing with a little more bite than was necessary, Fletch sunk deeper into his chair and crossed his arms. The thirty-some years she bestowed on him did much to soothe the shard of concern that maybe he was past it, even if it made no difference to the deepening laughter lines.


Short lived, the smile slid from his face like vomit down a drain. He had banked on a little poking and prodding, a few steri-strips and maybe some aspirin. But the moment he caught sight of the needle his blue gaze blinked to amber, and the rest of his face blanched in a way that made even his bruises look pale. 'Woah, woah - hang on - wait - can we just?'

In absence of something to hold onto, Fletch gripped his own thigh and the arm of the chair; scuffed knuckles showing white beneath split skin and drying blood. Eyes shut and his face buckling in a grimace, he drew a sharp breath inward. But this didn't stop the small, strangled whimper the first time her needle punctured his skin. Nor the mouthed curse when he realised she meant to stab him more than once.

When it was over, he dredged up courage enough to open one, jaundiced eye.

'Dunno. What happens if the answer's yes?'

 Needle fears. She had certainly dealt with them before, had even had one when she was a child, but didn't completely understand them in Weres. They couldn't be hurt by them, since they weren't silver. She supposed, though, that she was a bit desensitized to it all by now. Blood. Needles. The fear that, at times, came hand in hand with healing.

 The cheetah did hear the sound he made and drew no outward attention to it, touch gentle and almost soft as she held his chin in place with the strength that being a Were afforded her. More than once, she had been grateful for that strength and now was one such time, so that they did not have a mishap.

 "Easy," She spoke softly, voice easily lost in the din of the crowd. "Last one." And true to her word, with one last administration, Jacquelyn stepped away from him and capped the needle to drop it into a pocket she was using for hazardous waste. "If the answer's yes, I'd like to take a look. Make sure we set you up to heal as fast as possible." She gave him a warm smile as she turned back to him, waiting to see what he'd decide to do.

Keeping her in his eye line, Fletch ticked down a list of possible tortures she could inflict on a man with busted ribs. Prodding fingers would be uncomfortable, he was fairly certain that modern medicine advised against strapping them up, and a needle there didn't count amongst the things he personally found upsetting.

With a short huff and a wince, he lifted his shirt. Mathis had caught him good along his torso, the pale skin flushed angrily and yet to bruise. 'Eat your heart out.' He muttered, 'that's a side of prime dad bod, right there.'

 This one liked to put himself at the butt of his own jokes, she was noticing. Still, Jax gave a soft laugh, removing a glove and picking up her stethoscope as she stepped in closer to kneel down beside him. "Aged to perfection, no?" Using her fingers, she pressed and felt along his rib cage where the redness indicated the body's irritation.

 With her hand, Jackie placed the listening device's diaphragm on his chest and looked up at him to ask, "Take a deep breath for me?"

Oh, now she was just being sweet. A coarse laugh left him; skinned knees on gravel and concrete, as he wondered at what had caused her about face.

'Pickled in piss and vinegar,' his chest expanded on command, bellows-like, before it snagged and faltered in pain. A greyhound stumbling at the finish line. He huffed, managing a smile despite how it tightened in frustration. 'I'm not normally such a jessie, honest.'

 "Well, you certainly don't smell like a pickled coyote."

 What she heard in his chest, however, made her frown instead of smile. Moving the diaphragm, Jackie found another spot to listen to and said "Again" with no humor. A few seconds later and her face relaxed with relief. "You have a fractured, possibly broken rib but it hasn't punctured anything. Again, shifting is going to help you best. It'll hurt to breathe or cough right now, so no strenuous activity, okay?" She stood and removed the stethoscope from her ears.

 "Apply ice packs if it hurts. If those don't help -- Do you have a cellphone? I can give you my number and you can reach out to me and I might be able to prescribe something." If he did, she could plug in her number and send herself a text message.

'Fantastic,' he said, as the medic announced her diagnosis; grimacing as he found a more comfortable position to sit in. 'There goes my reputation as Mountainside's chief Lothario.'

He hoped by now she would understand the remark came served with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Already, he was working out how much ice his minuscule freezer box could hold, and whether he could resort to the good old-fashioned standby of frozen peas instead. If memory served him correctly, there was at least a quarter bag lurking alongside the lone salmon burger and the go-gurt.

Distracted, her next question had him patting the pockets of his shorts. 'Ah ... not on me. Left it in the -' he motioned some way across the venue, where people left their personal effects before a fight. In a heartbeat he'd reached for her doctor's bag, rummaging one-handed through the contents. 'You got a pen? I know my number.'

 While normally, Jackie would have lightly swatted the hand out of her bag, she let him dig around in it with a faint smile, having some idea that this behavior was very normal for him. "How about just plugging your number into my phone?" She offered, since the one thing she didn't tend to carry on her person was a writing utensil. It was really a problem she should correct, though it always slipped her mind.

 Offering her unlocked phone to the man, Jackie took a moment to pack up her bag and put the items she'd used away after wiping them down with a quick alcohol pad. "Was there anything else that you wanted me to look at?" She asked with her back turned.

The offered phone had the intended effect; drawing Fletch's attention up and out of her bag. 'Mn? Oh, pens too old school for you, eh?'

It took a pregnant moment for him to tap his digits into the device and save it under a new contact as Fletch, but when he had, he relinquished it with the utmost care. Kids were precious about their phones, he knew.

'No, think you've done about all you can for me.' An uncomfortable climb to his feet while her back was turned, his hand found her shoulder, brief and in thanks. 'I'll take it from here. Appreciate the help.'

A few pints later he would be numbed enough to continue making a nuisance of himself, but for now, Fletch shuffled, stiff-limbed and sore to the bar.

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