Part III

Salen woke slowly without opening his eyes. The last thing he remembered was the fear in Joanna's eyes as the doctor began to cut into him. He had been braced for an intense pain, however the laser scalpel was far more gentle than Wilson's dull metal blades. He remembered trying to give Joanna a smile to reassure her, but he wasn't sure if he managed to pull it off. It had been just about that same time when Lancer had done something with his rib that caused him to pass out.

Slowly resurfacing the first thing Salen noticed was that he could breath easily with very little pain. Enjoying the ability he took a few deep breaths. As he became more aware of his surroundings he heard a gentle sound that was completely out of place. It was a pleasant low singing, he could hear the melody but the singer was muttering the words so that they couldn't be understood.

Opening his eyes Salen looked over at where Joanna was lounging on a small couch. Confused he looked around and found himself in a hospital room. He was in a bed that had the head tilted up so that he was partially sitting up to help his lungs. Joanna was using a stylus to work on a digital chart. As she did so she sung the cheerful melody to herself. Salen watched her while she continued to work. The morning sun was coming in through the window throwing gold highlights into her dark hair.

Salen didn't even realize that he was staring at her until she glanced up and their eyes met. Gasping sharply she put the tablet down and hurried over to the bed side. Like a true doctor her eyes first went to the biobed readout to make sure that he was stable. When she saw that he was doing well she turned her attention to him with a warm smile.

"Good morning, Sunshine." Joanna teased.

"That was a lovely song."

"Oh," Joanna flushed "my father used to sing it to me."

"It is very pretty." Salen looked around in mild confusion. "What time is it?"

"Almost seven."

"Did...did you stay with me all night?"

"Of course."

"Thank you."

Still feeling a little disoriented Salen looked up at the IV bag that was hanging near by. The tubing lead to a cuff around his wrist that was slowly diffusing the contents of the bag into his blood. He filled his lungs once more before exhaling heavily and returning his attention to Joanna. She was waiting patiently for him to adjust to his surroundings.

"What happened?" Salen asked.

"You were incredibly brave. You didn't even make a sound. When Lancer pulled on your rib to set it you passed out, which was probably for the best. The surgery went well, the bone should be good as new in a few weeks."

"I have to stay here for a few weeks?" Salen asked in alarm.

"No." Joanna shook her head. "You can home tomorrow. You still have a mild case of pneumonia, but you are recovering very well."

"Thanks to you."

"Dr. Lancer is the one you should be thanking, if he hadn't pulled that rib out..."

"As I recall Dr. Lancer tried to kill me with nitrous oxide."

"Yeah, that was a little frightening." Joanna smiled sadly. "I noticed in your chart that you basically never come to medical, now I see why."

"There are not many doctors who know what to do with a Vulcan on their table. It is minor details like the nitrous oxide that can easily get me in trouble. I am lucky that I have you. I...uh...mean, it was fortunate for me that you were there. How did you know about the nitrous oxide?"

"A story that my father told me about years ago about the fact that Vulcans don't find 'laughing gas' very funny." Joanna chuckled.

"No we do not." Salen smiled.

Still tired from the ordeal Salen closed his eyes. Breathing deeply Salen picked up on an intoxicating scent. He recalled noticing it the first time he met Joanna and decided it must be the perfume that she used. Although his lungs felt better he still started coughing. Joanna gave him a tissue and he gratefully accepted it.

"I still seem to be bleeding." Salen noted as he looked at the green stained tissue.

"It is more likely that you're just working the blood out. Let me take a listen just to be sure."

Salen froze as Joanna leaned in and pressed her ear against his chest. Paralyzed by having her so close he ended up holding his breath. It took Joanna a moment to realize that he wasn't going to take a breath. She stood back up with a bright smile.

"Salen, if I'm going to listen to your breathing you have to breath."

"Sorry...I...uh..."

"Just relax and take a deep breath."

Salen nodded and tried to relax. When he seemed to have centered himself Joanna leaned in again and rested her ear against his chest. Salen closed his eyes and took a deep breath, bringing Joanna's flowery scent closer. Joanna kept against his chest for a few deep inhalations before pulling away.

"Your lungs sound amazingly clear." Joanna said in approval. "I think you're going to live."

"Well that is good news." Salen smiled.

Joanna glances up at the clock and sighed.

"I'm sorry, Salen, I have to get to the clinic."

"Will I see you again?" Salen asked.

"I'll come visit you as soon as my shift is done."

"I would like that."

"Here." Joanna turned to the nightstand next to Salen's hospital bed and grabbed a notepad and scribbled on. "I want you to call me if you need anything...or even if you just want to chat."

"Thank you."

"Feel better, Salen."

Joanna leaned in once more and gently kissed his cheek. Before Salen could react Joanna rushed out the door. A little confused, but pleasantly surprised by the kiss, Salen settled back into to bed with a slight smile twitching the corners of his mouth. He rubbed his chest where Joanna had laid her ear. He decided that her hair had smelled vaguely of apples.

Just as Salen was thinking about drifting off to sleep he heard a knock at the door. Looking up Salen didn't see anyone at first. He sat up a little more in the bed and caught sight of Admiral Pike in the door way. Salen's face lit up at the sight of his adoptive father. Pike smiled as well and wheeled up to Salen's bed side.

"Father." Salen greeted warmly. "What are you doing here?"

"The Academy called and told me you ended up in emergency surgery last night, so of course I dropped everything, and came rushing down to see you."

"You did not have to do that, but I am pleased to see you."

"How are you feeling?"

"I am doing well."

Salen reached his hands out and Pike reached out to take them. He squeezed Pike's hands affectionately before letting him go. Pike looked his son over with a quizzical expression on his face. Salen mirrored his expression, unsure of what his father was thinking.

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

"There is something different about you." Pike replied. "Something about your smile."

Salen looked down and blushed a bright green.

"Did you meet a girl?" Pike chuckled knowingly.

"What makes you ask that?" Salen said trying to fein innocents.

"The phone number in your lap in the flowery handwriting was my second clue."

"What was your first?"

"The fact that for someone who almost died last night, you look happier than I think I've ever seen you."