Disclaimer: George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and assorted companies affiliated with them own everything related to the Indiana Jones universe. I'm just having fun and am certainly not making any profit off this.
Note: I'm working on a set of fics focusing on Mutt as he struggles to find his place in his new world post-Akator. This story plays with the same character dynamics as the longer piece and will probably technically fit between the third (or second) and fourth (or third) fics in that series. Because it is from Indy's POV and I intend the larger set be entirely from Mutt's POV, this will have to remain at best an outtake from that larger series. It works well on it's own and is the only thing actually finished right now, so I figured I'd go ahead and post it as a one-shot and I'll label it as an outtake later if it still works within the dynamics of the larger series once all is said and done.
Dr. Jones' Bedside Manner
In the dead of the night when everyone should be asleep, every sound made by those awake appears unnaturally amplified. The pad of bare feet on linoleum, the creak of a hinge as a door swung open and shut, especially the muttered curse as a switch was flipped and a small light over the sink flared in the darkness all seemed to Indiana Jones to be loud enough to wake the dead, let alone the other two occupants of his house. Indy pulled the sash of his robe tighter and squinted, trying to force his kitchen to come into focus before his eyes were fully accustomed to the sudden brightness. He opened a cupboard above his head and reached for a glass, accidentally knocking over the one next to his target. Pushing 60 or no, Indiana Jones' reflexes were more than adequate to catch a falling glass. Except when his vision was blurred and his movements were dulled by sleepiness.
Indy held his breath, waiting. The kid upstairs might have slept through that crash, but Indy's bedroom wasn't very far away. He didn't remember Marion being a particularly heavy sleeper.
No call of "Indy?" and no sounds of footsteps bringing someone to investigate forced him to admit that maybe his memory was wrong. Or maybe that too had changed.
He sighed quietly and filled the glass in his hand from the faucet. He took a chug before setting down his glass and beginning to gather up the shards in the bottom of the sink. Just as he was throwing the last piece in the trash, he thought he heard a noise coming from somewhere deep within the house. Perhaps he had woken her up after all.
The silence of the night swallowed his whisper. He must have just been imagining things. He picked up his glass and was reaching for the light switch when he heard something again. This time there was no mistake. The noise, whatever it was, was much louder. It sounded like someone groaning. Ears straining to catch the slightest sound, he flicked the switch and padded back out of the kitchen, going slowly so as not to stub a toe on something before his eyes readjusted to the darkness. He was halfway across his study to the curtain hiding the bedroom before he heard the groan again. He frowned and turned to look back over his shoulder. The noise had definitely come from behind him.
He shuffled through his house and heard the noise again at the foot of the stairs. It had to be coming from the kid. He thought longingly of his bed, his soft, plump pillow and Marion's even softer, warm body waiting for him to curl up with, but there was something in that groan that spoke of pain and called to him with an urgency he couldn't quite explain. Grumbling to himself about "This better be worth it," he climbed the stairs.
When he reached the second floor, he knew immediately he had made the right decision. Between the occasional louder groans, he could now hear an almost constant low moaning. It sounded like the kid was dying. He rapped softly on the closed door. When he got no answer, he opened it a bit and poked his head around the corner. "Mutt?"
The light coming in through the window was dim, but it was more than enough to allow Indy to make out the ball of flesh and bones in the middle of his son's bed. Mutt was curled up tight with his back to the door, moaning softly. Even as Indy pushed the door more fully open and entered the room, the kid gave a loud groan and twisted the upper half of his body around so he was almost facing the ceiling. The moaning resumed as Mutt's legs straightened somewhat and followed his upper body around so he was flat on his back. It was only then that Indy realized the kid's arm was wrapped tightly around his gut. Before Indy had reached the side of the bed, Mutt groaned and rolled again. This time his upper body twisted so he was facing Indy, but he also bent slightly at the waist, forcing his arm to tighten around his middle. Indy guessed the kid's next move would be for his knees to curl back up into a fetal position and from the look of the sheet bunched and twisted around his legs, this was far from his first circuit.
Indy set his water glass down on the floor by the bed and then reached out and gently shook Mutt's shoulder. "Hey, kid."
Indy's hand fell away as Mutt's entire body jolted. The kid's eyes flew open but almost immediately closed again. He groaned and his other arm came around to clutch at his stomach. He began a steady stream of mutterings. "It hurts. Ooooh. Oh, man. It hurts. It hurts."
Indy again reached out and shook Mutt's shoulder. This time when the kid's eyes flew open with surprise, they stayed that way and slowly came to focus on Indy.
"Man," the kid moaned. "What do you want?"
"I heard something and came to see if you were alright."
"Oh, yeah. I'm fantastic."
Indy grinned slightly. He was still worried about his son, but if the boy could pull off that attitude, Indy knew he would be fine in time. "I'm not so sure about that. Hold on. I'm going to switch on the light."
He paused for a moment to give Mutt a chance to cover his eyes and then flipped on the lamp on the nightstand. Indy's eyes readjusted quickly and he examined Mutt in the faint light. The poor kid still clutched desperately at his stomach with one arm while the other was now draped across his face, shielding his eyes. From what Indy could see of his face, the kid was ghastly pale and he was biting hard at his lip, fighting to contain his moans. An occasional gasp or whimper slipped out and was always followed by a grimace, whether of pain or of disgust at himself for showing weakness Indy didn't know. Mutt's normally perfectly coiffed hair was a mess with random pieces sticking up in the back and hanging in his eyes in the front. The sheet under him was soaked and he was covered with sweat.
"You look terrible, Junior."
Mutt pulled his arm away from his eyes and glared at Indy. "Thanks." He grunted and rolled onto his side. Both arms wrapped back around his gut and he brought his knees up slightly. "Let's see how you look if someone wakes you up in the middle of the night and your stomach is killing you."
Indy squatted by the bed so he was at eye level with Mutt. "Where's it hurt?"
He was rewarded with another glare. "In my big toe! Haven't you been paying any attention?"
Indy rolled his eyes and fought down a sigh. "Could you drop the attitude for a minute? I'm trying to help! I meant where does your stomach hurt. Is the pain higher or lower? Left side or right?"
"I don't know, man! It just hurts!" The kid groaned again and his eyes crinkled at the edges. He gnawed at his lower lip for a moment and finally said, "Maybe lower right. I don't know."
"Damn." Indy frowned. "Could you lay flat on your back?"
"I want to check something."
Mutt's brow wrinkled and his eyes narrowed as he hesitantly moved to comply with Indy's request, but his worry and confusion were quickly swallowed by another wave of pain. He groaned and closed his eyes and fell back flat on the bed, no pillow in sight.
"Try to relax," Indy said, "and let me know if it hurts more when I push or when I let up."
Mutt moaned and briefly nodded his assent. Indy pushed on his son's abdomen, held it while Mutt gasped and his face tightened, then released. The kid relaxed again. "Definitely hurt more when you pushed," he gasped.
"What's good, man? And what is with you and the cryptic comments?"
Indy arched an eyebrow. "Cryptic, huh?" He chuckled softly, stopping abruptly when Mutt cracked one eye open to again glare at him. "Good that your appendix isn't about to burst."
Both of Mutt's eyes flew open wide. He had clearly never considered that it could be something that serious. "You sure? You can tell from that little poke?"
"Well, not for certain, but it's a lot less likely." The kid looked close to panic. "Don't worry about it. You've probably just got a kink in your plumbing. I'm sure you'll be fine."
"Right." Mutt rolled his eyes. "As long as you're sure," he muttered. He again rolled onto his side and wrapped his arms around his gut. He stayed curled up for a moment, still breathing fairly hard and occasionally moaning. Indy sat back, uncertain what else he could really do for the kid. Finally Mutt spoke again.
"I'm cold," he half whispered.
"I'm not surprised. I think you've got a fever. Here." Indy stood and bent over the bed untangling the sheet wrapped around Mutt's legs and spreading it over the boy, followed by the blanket bunched at a corner of the bed.
The kid watched Indy straighten back up. He stayed curled up, but he relaxed a little, knees not quite as high and shoulders not quite as hunched. He still moaned occasionally, but not nearly as often.
"Uh. Thanks," he said at last.
"Yeah. Listen, why don't I go get your mother?"
"No!" Mutt sat up, reaching out as if to physically restrain Indy, but quickly fell back, his eyes closing with a groan. "I'll be fine," he gasped out as his arms slid under the blanket and once again tightened around his gut. "You even said so."
"Sure you will. But she might have some ideas for making you feel better quicker."
Mutt opened his eyes and softly shook his head. "All she can do is worry. Let her sleep."
"She can probably help. Moms are good at this sort of thing."
Their eyes met and they stared at each other in silence for a few heartbeats. Indy wasn't sure if he really saw a question in the kid's eyes or if it was just his imagination thanks to the "What about dads? Shouldn't they be good at this stuff?" bouncing around in his own mind.
"I'm not some little kid who needs his mommy for every little thing."
So that was the problem. "Have it your way." If the kid was still sick in the morning, Marion would skin them both alive for not waking her, but Indy would worry about that when the time came. "Anything I can do for you?"
"I'll be fine." Mutt grimaced and curled up tighter, burying his face in his bed. When he relaxed again as the pain subsided, he looked back up at Indy. "Well…"
Indy sighed. "Spit it out, kid."
"I'm kind of thirsty."
Indy bent down, stifling a groan of his own as something popped in his back. He picked his glass of water up off the floor and offered it to the boy.
Slowly, Mutt sat partway up and took the glass. "Thanks," he murmured before beginning to gulp down the water at an alarming rate. He'd almost drained the glass when another spasm of pain caused him to gasp. Unfortunately, this caused the last swallow of water to go down the wrong pipe and he began violently coughing.
Indy took the glass from him with one hand and pounded on his back with the other. "Easy."
When the coughing fit ended, Mutt flopped back, panting heavily. He threw one arm over his eyes and returned the other to his stomach. "Will this night never end?"
Indy stifled a yawn and nodded in sympathy. "Are you sure you don't want me to get your mother?"
"I'll be fine." Mutt lifted his arm slightly and peeked out from under it. "You don't have to stay, you know. I can take care of myself."
"Right. I suppose if I were to offer to get you another glass of water before I go, you'd tell me you're fine and can get it for yourself?"
"Well." The kid grimaced and his one arm tightened around his stomach. "Now that you mention it, I am still thirsty." He sounded rather sheepish and Indy could just see a faint hint of pink to his cheeks. That there was any color returning to the boy's face, Indy took as a good sign, whatever the reason.
"I'll be back if you think you'll be alright by yourself for a bit."
"I'll. Be. Fine."
Down in the kitchen, Indy remembered a few things he had that might help the kid. It took him far longer to gather all his supplies than it would have to just get a glass of water, but Mutt could wait a few extra minutes for better help.
When Indy finally made it back upstairs, Mutt was exactly as he had left him, flat on his back with one arm over his eyes and one over his stomach. He was so still, despite the occasional moans, that Indy was sure the boy had fallen asleep, but when a floorboard halfway between the door and the bed creaked under Indy's foot, Mutt's elbow lifted and one eye peered out from under the crook of his arm.
"Thanks, but what'd you do, get lost without a treasure map?"
"Funny." Indy set the tray he carried on the bedside table. "You're going to think I found a treasure if this stuff works." He grabbed a hot water bottle from his tray and threw it lightly at Mutt's stomach. It landed perfectly on the bulge the arm wrapped around the kid's gut made in the blanket.
"Hey! That's hot!" Mutt lifted his head with the help of the arm that had been over his eyes to look at what Indy had tossed him. Surprise gave way instantly to understanding and he pulled the hot water bottle under the blanket and placed his arm back on top to press the soothing heat into his gut.
"You do know it's supposed to be hot, right? That's why they call it a hot water bottle."
"Yeah," Mutt half grunted. "You could have warned me, though."
"I'll consider it next time. Right now, drink this." He held a steaming mug out to the kid.
Mutt's eyebrows lifted. "What's that?"
"Tea. Plus a few herbs that should help your stomach."
Mutt struggled to sit up without dislodging the water bottle on his stomach.
"Don't you have a pillow?" Indy asked.
Mutt shrugged and took the mug. "Had one when I went to sleep. I'm not sure where it is now." He took a sip of the tea and wrinkled his nose. "Not bad, but not good either."
"Drink it anyway." Indy looked around the room while Mutt sipped slowly at the hot beverage. He spotted the kid's pillow on the floor a few feet from the opposite side of the bed. "You really were tossing pretty violently in your sleep, kid."
Mutt looked back up at Indy. "What're you talk…" The question died as Mutt followed Indy's gaze. "Oh." He leaned and reached, trying to keep the water bottle in place with a knee so he could have a hand free to grab the pillow. It was several inches beyond his grasp and he began to scoot towards the edge of the bed.
"Hold on. I'll get it."
"I can get it myself," Mutt said, but Indy was around the bed and picking up the pillow by the time he had finished the thought. Indy held it out silently and the kid took it with a sour frown.
"Thanks," he grumbled and shoved the pillow against his headboard and leaned back into it. He rearranged the pillow, the water bottle, and his bed coverings and took another sip of the tea. He looked at Indy out of a corner of his eye. "Thanks, Old Man," he said in a much softer voice.
"Don't worry about it, Junior. How you feeling?"
Mutt turned to look at him fully. "Better. I'm still cold and my stomach still hurts a little, but it's a lot better."
"Yeah. You know, you don't have to stay. You should get some sleep."
Indy shrugged. The kid probably didn't need him anymore, but what if he started feeling bad again? "I'll just stay 'til you finish that," Indy pointed at the tea mug, "so I can take the cup back down with me."
Mutt took another sip. "Suit yourself. What's in this anyway?"
"I told you, it's just tea and a few extra herbs I've picked up along the way."
"With how much better I'm feeling, I wouldn't be surprised if you told me it was magic holy water."
Indy chuckled. "Nah. With how fast some of that in the right cup can heal a bullet wound, you'd be perfect by now even drinking it from that mug."
"Huh?" The kid gave him a blank stare and Indy laughed harder.
"Sorry. That one's a really long story."
"We got time while I finish this." Mutt again sipped at his tea.
"Right." Indy glanced around the room again. Marion's and the kid's things hadn't arrived yet so the room was still set up as a professor's guest bedroom. This included a reading area in a corner with a table and a small armchair. Indy dragged the chair closer to the bed, wincing slightly when it scraped noisily on the floor.
"How much do you know about the Holy Grail?" he asked as he dropped a throw pillow to the floor and settled into the chair.
"Uh… I read Malory in a lit class a couple of years ago. Why?"
"You wanted the story of the gun shot wound, right?"
The kid's eyes grew huge and his jaw dropped. "Bullshit! No way you found the Holy Grail! It's just a myth."
"Watch your mouth." Indy pointed a warning finger at Mutt who rolled his eyes. "We'll save my part in the story until sometime when we're both more awake and just do background tonight. If you read Malory, you remember the Arthurian quest basics?" Mutt nodded, still looking rather skeptical. "That's probably the most fanciful of all the Grail legends. Do you know about Joseph of Arimathea?"
"Name's not familiar." The kid wiggled a little, trying to get comfortable.
"Here." Indy offered him the throw pillow. Mutt slipped it behind his back with his own pillow and squirmed down into the extra cushioning. Once he was settled, he took another sip of his tea and turned to look at Indy, clearly ready for a story.
"We'll start with Joseph then. And you'd better pay attention or your grandfather will find some way to disown us both from the grave."
"Whatever you say." Mutt sipped at the tea mug that was already over two-thirds empty and Indy launched into the complicated story of the Holy Grail. By the time he had explained about the supposed travels of Joseph to Britain, the empty mug was on the bedside table and the water glass Indy had also brought was over half empty. Mutt's eyes were closed more often than open and he was reaching increasingly less often for the glass on the nightstand. By the time Indy reached the three knights and the first brother's promise to the monk that markers would be left with clues to the Grail's location, the boy was sound asleep.
Mutt had slid down in the bed so he was no longer upright, but the presence of the extra pillow behind his head was forcing his neck to an odd angle. Not wanting the kid to wake with a horrible crick in his neck, Indy stood, bent over the boy, and carefully wiggled the throw pillow out from under Mutt's head. The boy gave a slight grunt when his head dropped but otherwise didn't react. Indy's hand brushed Mutt's forehead as he stood up and he noticed the boy felt a bit warm. He dropped the pillow in the chair and placed his palm on Mutt's head. The kid definitely still had a bit of a fever.
Indy watched him sleep for a moment, lost in thought. When he'd had a fever as a kid, his mom had kept him cool with a wet rag on his head. It was the only thing he could think of to do. He went to the upstairs bathroom to get a washcloth and somehow managed to wet it in the sink without knocking over any of the kid's hair gels. He returned to the bedroom and carefully placed the folded cloth on Mutt's forehead. With the way the kid had been tossing and turning earlier, Indy decided he had better stay for at least a few minutes. The cold cloth wouldn't do any good if Mutt rolled and it fell off immediately. He sat in the chair, pulled the throw pillow up behind his head, propped his feet up on the edge of the bed, and settled back.
The first thing Indy was aware of was a throbbing pain in his lower back. When he opened his eyes, he knew something wasn't quite right. It was lighter than he thought it should be and the view out the window wasn't what he was used to. Turning his head to pop his neck, he saw Mutt curled up on his side in his bed and remembered where he was and why. He reached around to rub at the knot in his back and levered himself out of the chair. He really was getting too old to sleep sitting up. He stifled a groan and bent over to feel the kid's forehead. It was much cooler to the touch. Mutt's face was relaxed and peaceful with no trace of the pain that had earlier contorted his features. Indy nodded to himself and smiled. The kid seemed to be fine.
Indy grabbed the washcloth from where it had fallen on Mutt's pillow. The now tepid water bottle was on the bed, partway under the kid's side, and he carefully tugged it out. Mutt rolled over to his other side and muttered something incoherent but didn't awaken. Indy looked back at the window. Sunlight was just barely beginning to brighten the horizon. He could grab at least a couple of hours of sleep before he'd need to be up for the day. He walked around the bed, tossed the water bottle and washcloth on the tray with the mug and glass, turned off the lamp, and grabbed the tray. At the door on his way out, he stopped and looked back at Mutt. It was hard to believe the boy sleeping so peacefully was the same one that had been moaning and tossing when he first entered the room that night. Indy carefully balanced his tray on one hand, whispered, "Good Night, Son," and pulled the bedroom door shut behind him. Just as it clicked into place, he heard a faint "G'morning, Pops" from the other side.