The corridor was large, painted in light blue with soft lights encased in the white ceiling that gave the place a strange suspended atmosphere. There were many doors, each one with a label with a name on it written in clear capital letters; along the corridor were many uncomfortable plastic chairs the same color as the walls. At that hour of the day the place was calm. And silent.
People dressed in green gowns or in light blue uniforms were coming and going in and out of the many doors, without looking at him, without even acknowledging he was there. They smelled of antiseptic. The whole place smelled of antiseptic.
There he waited, alone in the long corridor under the cold lights, wearing only his underwear, feeling his heart thundering in his chest. The LT was so nervous that his stomach felt constricted and he was unconsciously opening and closing his fists, trying to breathe normally despite the deep fear that was threatening to envelop him.
Hannibal had disappeared behind a door on his left quite some time earlier.
Face wondered how many times they were going to re-live this nightmare. He really hated hospitals. What he hated most was the eternal waiting for a doctor; time seemed to expand in those places and a minute felt like hours.
When a door was opened suddenly, catching him by surprise, he almost jumped out of his skin and a young and cute nurse smiled at him. "The doctor will talk to you in a few minutes, Lieutenant," she explained calmly, looking at him with an odd gaze. Face had forgotten he was almost naked and the effect his well shaped body had on women.
He would have thanked her but he was unable to speak now, his mouth completely dry. He smiled back at her, instead, and she blushed and hurried away down the corridor.
It took more than a few minutes, though, and Hannibal still hadn't been released. The LT was starting to seriously worry, feeling his heart going a mile a minute and the corridor started to whirl around him.
He decided to sit down, just for a few minutes, in order to calm down: he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and rested his head in his hands with his elbows on the knees. He blocked out all the sounds of the hospital, focusing his mind only on his breath. He couldn't pass out now.
After what seemed an eternity, he felt a little more in control but still stayed with his eyes closed, avoiding the concerned stares of the nurses or doctors passing by. He just wanted to be out of that place, back with Hannibal in their little private house.
"You okay?" a gentle voice asked him.
Face didn't answer. He then felt a big hand resting on his shoulder, gently squeezing it in a gesture of comfort.
"It's your turn. You think you can walk or do I have to call a nurse?" the Colonel asked softly, never taking the hand away from his shoulder.
Face opened his eyes and the world came back into focus and stayed still. Turning to face his commanding officer and lover, he groaned and stood up. Time to face the music.
"I'm fine, Hannibal, thanks. I'm a Ranger, remember?" he croaked in a shadow of his always brilliant voice.
Hannibal smiled at him.
"It will be over in a few minutes. But if you feel like passing out, let the doctor know, ok?"
The LT nodded. He was deeply ashamed by his own behavior but he couldn't help feeling scared. How many times did he pass through the same routine? Once a year, not considering the other times when he had been injured on a mission.
His fear was something completely irrational, he knew it was just a normal routine examination and he was a Ranger, for crying out loud! How many times had he seen his friends and companions injured and helped them, using the basic medical training he received in the Army? Didn't he put stitches in Hannibal's arm when a bullet grazed him two years ago? That time he didn't have any hesitation, he had been calm and did his job at his best and the doctor had actually complimented him for the almost professional job.
He himself had been injured and Hannibal administered morphine to him, actually injected the miracle substance in his thigh muscle. He didn't even flinch when the needle was carefully inserted by the Colonel's expert hands. Or maybe he was hurting too much to notice. Maybe.
Anyway, the fact remained: he was a Ranger, he was trained to face almost every dangerous situation, he wasn't supposed to tremble like a girl at the thought of a simple blood test.
Hannibal knew how he felt perfectly well. The Colonel was always supportive to him, trying to make him relax and not think about it but the LT couldn't exactly expect his commanding officer to come with him into the doctor's room, holding his hand like he was a child.
Trying hard not to hyperventilate, he ventured inside the room. A nurse was taking notes on Hannibal's files and the doctor was waiting for him, stethoscope in hand.
"Please, sit down Lieutenant," the doctor asked in his cold professional tone.
Face complied and did as he was instructed while the doctor took his blood pressure and administered the rest of the examination, checking his newest scars and making notes on his files. The doctor, a new guy Face had never met, commented his BP was a little high but that was normal, considering how nervous he was, adding it was almost over, a little blood test and he was finished.
Face blushed at the doctor's comment. He was utterly ashamed.
The young doctor smiled patiently at him.
"You would be surprised to know how many of you Ranger guys are afraid of a simple blood test. Personally, I don't understand it, with the work you do and the things you see every day. Anyway, I don't want you to pass out on me so if you follow me the nurse will make you lie down."
And gently he guided the LT to a very comfortable recliner. Face, despite his nervousness, was very grateful to the doctor for his humanity.
He was actually calmer but when the nurse tried to tie the tourniquet on his bicep he grew agitated again.
When he was a child, about two years old, the sisters of the orphanage he was living in at the time took all the kids about his age to the local clinic to get a blood test. He had no memory of that period of his life but he remembered perfectly well the huge orderly that was trying to hold him in place on the hard plastic chair and tie the tourniquet on his small arm while the doctor was waiting impatiently to torture him with the huge needle. He was terrified.
Every time he had to do a blood test, his mind went back to that moment.
Back to the present, once the tourniquet was secured on his bicep, the nurse started to prepare the many vials with colored labels and a butterfly needle. Right there, in front of him.
Face felt his heart in his throat and turned his head to the wall, not wanting to see what the nurse was doing. After just a few minutes, that seemed like hours to the LT, the young nurse explained gently that she was going to insert the butterfly needle.
"You'll feel just a little prick," she added softly.
Face was still facing the wall and did flinch a little when the needle was inserted in the vein, but it was just for a second. Then the nurse worked for a few minutes in silence, taking small samples of blood in each vial. In a matter of a couple of minutes, the procedure was over. The needle was extracted and the woman secured a small cotton ball tightly to the vein with tape.
"All done. Stay down for a couple of minutes. Then, if you don't feel dizzy, you're free to go," she explained and left him alone.
Face was so relieved that the examination was over and also that it didn't hurt that much. He was eager to leave the doctor's room, though; he was feeling good, he could finally breathe normally and his heart wasn't thundering in his chest like before but running at a normal rhythm.
He stood up, thanked the doctor and nurse and exited the room.
Outside the door, Hannibal was waiting for him.
"So, did you survive?" he asked seriously.
The LT snorted. "Ah ah very funny Colonel. Yes, I survived."
"Oh come on, Face! I was just trying to lighten the moment."
Face smiled fondly at his lover.
"I know, Hannibal. Thanks. And it didn't hurt that much. I don't know why I was so agitated," he explained.
"I told you".
"Don't 'I told you' me, Hannibal. It wasn't funny! I wasn't faking, I was really feeling bad," Face declared very seriously.
"Well, maybe next time you'll be more relaxed," he asked, raising an eyebrow "or maybe not?"
"Maybe, I don't know. I know it's a stupid thing but I can't help being afraid. I hate needles," he stated.
If he could, Hannibal would have kissed the kid then but they were still in that corridor, wearing only their underwear, and that was enough to drive Hannibal crazy. The LT was so beautiful he almost couldn't stop watching him.
"Let's get dressed and eat some breakfast, Lieutenant. I'm freezing," he ordered gently, smiling fondly at his lover.
"Yes Sir," Face replied, wondering if they could manage a small sex session before the job.
The twinkle in Hannibal's eyes told him he was thinking the same thing.