A/N: 'Doctor's Orders' is a 1975 hit by Carol Douglas. According to Lostpedia the events of 'La Fleur' onwards take place in July of 1977. Based on that assumption, and the knowledge that they lived as part of the DI for 3 years, the timeline for this fic is Nov/Dec 1974, approximately 6 - 7 months after they joined. This ficlet was prompted by a request for cute roommate bicker-fluff, and the fact that I broke Juliet's ankle and kind of need her to heal before I move on here. Plus I was kinda keen to see Juliet-with-broken-ankle fic. I've also read a lot of spec/fic that places Juliet as the elder sister, but after having seen "The Incident" it would seem that she is, in fact, the younger so I'm running with that. BTW, season 3 is a complete inspiration for anyone needing to write S/J bicker fic!
By the end of week one she was bored out of her mind.
She couldn't do anything, so in turn, she did nothing. James was content to fuss over her, whether out of concern or guilt she wasn't sure, but she was too irritated by the fact her foot felt like it was constantly about to fall out of its cast to care too much.
She thought he'd already come up with all the one-legged nicknames in the book. However, just when she thought he'd exhausted himself, he came up with a new one.
"What's up Limpin' Beauty?"
She was too bored to summon the effort involved in rolling her eyes.
"I think they set the cast wrong." She said.
"You said that yesterday." He said.
She pulled a face. "I'm serious. Doctor Gillespie did it wrong and I'm going to have to wear a cast for the next three months to make up for the fact that the bone wasn't set correctly."
"You said that yesterday too." He replied.
She exhaled loudly. Limping Beauty. She didn't know whether to be insulted, or flattered.
By week two she'd had enough.
It was simply impossible to get around. Every task took her an hour and by the end of each day she felt like she was a first year resident again. She grabbed a large bag of chips from the cupboard, and then hopped over to the fridge to explore its contents. She reached in to loose one of the Dharma beers from a pack, failing to compensate for her change in balance. Grasping the door for support, she reached back in and took out the entire six-pack instead. Still on one foot, she hobble-hopped to the living room, and collapsed onto the sofa. She opened her book, the chips and a can of beer.
He found her hours later, giggling hysterically over her book. He glanced at the title - Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman - and raised an eyebrow. She looked up, pink in the face and clearly a few cards short of a deck. The woman was in no condition to argue with a doorknob. He noted she'd emptied one six-pack, and made it half way through another. He stared at her, silently impressed that she was still conscious.
She hiccoughed. "Did you know that you can't make a cup of coffee and hop back to the living room with it in your hand?"
By week three she was ready to saw her foot off.
Crutches supporting her, she headed over to the patch of shaded grass he was sitting on and parked next to him, knowing full well it would take her at least twenty minutes to get up again.
He lowered his book and looked at her over the rim of his reading glasses. "Nice nap?" he drawled.
"Leg cramped. Woke me up. Thought I'd broken it even more."
"'Nuff said." He smiled, hoping the effort would coax one out of her. She merely sighed. "Y'know, when I was eleven I fell off a horse and broke my arm." He continued. "And when I was twenty-four I got into a – uh – let's just call it a disagreement with somebody's husband. Winded up goin' through a glass window and hittin' the pavement, Doc called it a hairline fracture. Broke my wrist in prison too. Boxing match."
"I know." She said simply. "I read your file."
"Anythin' you don't know?" he asked with the barest hint of sarcasm to his tone.
"I guess I still don't know why you jumped out of that helicopter." She replied.
She hadn't brought it up since that day in the jungle almost seven months ago.
He sighed. "It don't matter now."
"Yes it does. Why else would you not talk about it?"
She didn't expect an answer, and they sat in silence for a while, each staring into their own voids.
Eventually he spoke. "It was losin' fuel."
She looked at him, but said nothing.
"We'd already tossed everything we could, we weren't gonna make it to the freighter. I was just – givin' 'em a chance. Don't really know why."
"Some might call that heroic." She told him.
"And some might call it runnin' away. I ain't a hero Juliet."
"Okay. Say you were running. Running from what?"
He looked at her. "Anything, everythin'. Been runnin' my whole life, maybe it's all I know. Besides, I had nothin' to go back to."
She frowned. "You could've started over."
"Maybe." He replied. "But then who'd be here to watch your back? Make sure you don't fall into giant holes and the like?"
She laughed. "Um. Actually, I did fall down a giant hole remember? Because of you."
He shot her a look, mock offense exaggerating his features. "Okay. But you gotta admit your life's more fun with someone 'round to drive ya crazy."
Her smile made it all the way as she shrugged her shoulders. "Meh."
He grinned. "So you ever broken anythin' else, aside from hearts that is?"
He caught the look in her eyes before she had time to mask it, and made a mental note to come back to that one the next time she was mellowed by wine.
"Nope." She replied, her expression neutral once more. "Dislocated my shoulder though. Four times."
He raised an eyebrow. "How'd you manage that?"
"Well the first time, let's see, I was eight and Rachel was ten. We were jumping on the beds and swinging round and round in circles and I guess it got a little crazy and I got swung off the bed." She smiled at the memory. "Second time was during combat training here on the Island. Third time was – during combat training here on the Island."
He grinned. "And the forth? Get into a brawl with a polar bear?"
She hesitated, unsure of herself. "Actually, it was Kate. I dragged her out into the jungle and handcuffed myself to her in the hopes that she'd feel sympathy for the fact I was left behind."
He smiled a little, no doubt remembering secret assignations under the stars - a time before gun fights and burning freighters.
She barked a laugh. "She wasn't very sympathetic."
He chuckled at that.
She wished she hadn't said anything.
By week four she'd gotten the hang of it.
"James!" she called.
She was outside standing on the grass, leaning on her crutches when he found her. Aiming one of them in the direction of the front porch she said, "We need to take care of that ants nest. I'm scared they'll move into the house, crawl down my cast and set up shop."
She had just the right amount of frown to make her look genuinely concerned as she held his eyes in a faux angelic gaze. He lowered his eyes at her. She'd been pointing out the red sand since October. They'd argued a little over whose responsibility it was, and it had ended in a stalemate with both of them refusing to touch it.
The morning sun caught the top of her head, causing a halo effect. He huffed, and marched off to find the ant poison. "Wench." He muttered it just loud enough so she would hear, and then settled down to work.
She was still standing on the grass grinning.
By week five she'd started to rebel.
Tired of washing her hair over the sink and sick to death of sponge baths, she filled the tub. A generous amount of bubbles later - she'd tied a plastic bag around her cast, stripped naked, and lowered herself cautiously into the steaming water, trailing her offending foot over the edge. The heat turned her skin bright pink but she didn't care. She was having this bath! Resting her head back she breathed in the aroma of the scented bath oils, and savoured the sensation of bubbles tickling her skin.
Burying her nose in Watership Down, she idled away the afternoon reading about a group of rabbits as they journeyed in search of a new warren. When her eyes became heavy and the water too tepid to stay there much longer, she tossed the novel to the floor. Hands gripping either side of the tub, she made to haul herself out. The layer of oils now lying on the bottom of the tub disagreed with the motion and forced her back down with a splash. Uh oh. She tried a different approach. Using both hands on just the one side of the bath she tried twisting her body onto her submerged knee. Now she was facing the wall, back to the ceiling, left leg stretched out into the air in some sort of mad yoga move. Crap.
She heard the front door open and close. James. "Honey, I'm home!"
She rolled her eyes at the joke. I miss being an Other. She thought. "In here." She called.
She heard him petering down the hallway, heard him pause outside the bathroom door.
She looked down at herself. Both hands and one knee submerged under water, back flexed to support her demon leg, rear end to the sky. "Uh… Yeah."
"Don't get your cast wet."
She heard him chuckle a little as he headed back down the hallway. It was only the thousandth time he'd said it. Reversing course she half-turned, half-slid so that she was sitting once more. Pressing her lips into a thin line she evaluated her position. She could either call for help, or she could just move in here.
Well I'll just have to live here then. She thought.
Thirty seconds later, the cold water chose for her. She glanced around for her towel. Of course it was exactly where it always was, neatly folded over the towel-rack minding its own business, the inconsiderate piece of fluff. She rolled her eyes again.
"James!" she called.
"Yeah?" Came the disembodied voice.
"Could you come here a minute?"
She heard him making his way back toward her, and she took the time to make one last ditch effort to get out. "Ouch!"
"You all right there Captain Ahab?" he called through the door.
"Yes. No." She huffed. "I – um – need you."
She could hear him smirk. "What didja do?"
"I – um – took a bath." She confessed.
"Uh huh. Got yourself into some trouble there?"
"You could… say that."
"Want some help?"
"Yes. No. Yes."
The doorknob turned.
"Wait!" Juliet cried.
"My towel's on the rack."
"Oh fer cryin' out loud." She heard him sigh as he came in, eyes averted to protect her modesty.
He grabbed the towel and chucked it at her. She caught it effortlessly. How she was meant to wrap the damn thing around herself she had no idea. She settled for letting the towel fall into the water as she pulled it around to cover her body as best she could. One leg still dangled helplessly over the side, which didn't help the towel do its job. "Okay." She said.
He turned around and stared at her, trying – and failing – not to grin.
She threw him a dirty look which only made him worse. "Just get over here." She demanded.
He obliged, taking his own sweet time and grinning from ear to ear. He got down on his haunches, leaning his arms on the bath and his chin on his hands. He looked into her eyes, noting her face was flushed with embarrassment. He glanced at the book she'd tossed aside. "Huh. Y'know that's one of the first books I read on this Island. Came down with the plane."
Juliet cast a look at the ceiling. "It's just been published. Came in with the last sub."
"Want me to tell ya how it ends?" he wiggled his eyebrows playfully.
She looked at him. "It's a book about bunny rabbits, how can it possibly end badly?"
He grinned again, his gaze dropping as he did so. He wasn't quick enough to mask the look of appreciation on his face as his eyes found her legs. It wasn't that he didn't think of her as a woman, of course she was a woman. She was all woman. He'd just never let his mind go there. 'Cause if he did go there, there'd be all kinds of trouble.
"James?" she said, bringing him out of his reverie.
He had the grace to look bashful as he tore his eyes away. "Yeah?"
"Are you going to help me out any time soon?"
He coughed. Plunging his hands into the water, he lifted her out in a swoop. The towel clung to her body like shrink-wrap, and she saw his tanned face darken but said nothing. Navigating carefully he carried her through to her bedroom and lowered her gently to the bed.
"There ya go." He smiled.
She stared intently at his knees, suddenly finding them very fascinating.
"Need help getting' your jammies on?" the cheeky grin was back. "'Cause, yknow, you an' I don't have any secrets anymore."
She flicked her eyes up to his face. "James?"
By week six she was getting on her own nerves.
Not one for sitting still, she was itching to do something more than just "take it easy". She wanted to run, swim, climb a tree - anything! The closer she got to the finish line, the longer the hours became.
At the end of the week he went with her to the clinic, just as eager to be rid of the damn thing.
Gillespie examined her and broke the news as gently as he could. She was going to have to wear the cast another two weeks.
She was not amused. He looked like he was ready to bail.
She glared at her roommate. "You know this is your fault, right?" she said.
He blinked, still staring at the doctor. "Well there goes my Christmas."
"I wouldn't have been out there if you hadn't been such an ass."
"Next time I blow my transmission I'll walk through Hostile territory rather than call the motor-pool."
"I'm going to have such an uneven tan."
"Says the albino-chick."
"I am going to go crazy."
"You can get your own damn dinner from now on."
"Well you're gonna to have to go stay with Jin and Miles."
"See this is what happens when you ask a girl to stay for two weeks."
Gillespie suggested couples therapy.
They both told him where he could stick that.