This story was originally created as a dare by a fellow writer & close friend. She dared that I couldn't write a fluffy Leatherneck fic. And I did. :) It's rated T for some language just to be safe.

This is a work of pure fiction...I don't own anyone except for the OC's in the story.

Mending Hearts

Chapter 1

Juliette Rachtman frowned as she looked at the battered and bruised Marine that reluctantly sat on the edge of the gurney in front of her. She thought Beachhead was annoying but the man that was here now refusing treatment was beginning to slowly move into the first place for pain in her ass.

"Take off the shirt, Leatherneck," Juliette said as she lifted her stethoscope that was hanging from her neck and placed the metal around her neck to prepare to take a listen to his lungs.

"Nothing personal, Ratchet, but no," he said as he folded his arms across his chest. "My uniform stays where it's at."

Taking a deep breath, she sat the clipboard down on the stretcher next to where he sat and eased her hands down into the pockets of her white lab coat. The smell of smoke filled her nose as she stood in the small examination room with the man.

A fire had broken out on the training course when Leatherneck and two others were caught in the blaze. The other two were treated and released quickly but Lifeline and Doc. Unfortunately of the three men that came in after being ordered by Beachhead, she drew the short straw and got stuck with examining Leatherneck.

"Okay. First off. My name is Rachtman, not Ratchet. Secondly, if you don't take that shirt off right now I will get a Law and a couple of his MP's in here, pull out the leather restraints and strap your ass down on the stretcher so I can do what I need to do." Resting her hands on her hips, her eyes narrowed as she stepped forward. "Pick one, soldier. You got five seconds."

He glared at her almost four seconds before he mumbled something under his breath, dropped his boots to the floor and proceeded to unbutton his shirt. He tried his best not to cough but his lungs hurt too badly not to. Taking off the CUU shirt, he sat it down on the stretcher and looked at her.

"Bet you want me to take off the skivvie, too?"

"That's the point, Leatherneck," she said as she placed the earpieces of her stethoscope in her ears.

He mumbled something again as he crossed his arms over his chest and pulled the olive drab t-shirt off and drop it down over his CUU. "Want my trouser's too? Hell, while I'm at it, I'll just drop down to what the good lord gave me."

Juliette's eyes lifted to stare up at the ceiling as she blew out a heavy breath. Lowering her eyes, she shook her head and stared at him. "Just your shirts will do for now. Sit."

The Marine climbed back onto the stretcher and sat down with his hands resting on his knees. His eyes followed her as she walked around the gurney until she was out of his peripheral line of sight as she stood behind him. His fingers tightened over his knees, preparing himself for the cold metal of the stethoscope being pressed against his back but he never got it. The diaphragm moved slowly across his back from one position to another as she listened to him breathing.

"Not too bad. You have some smoke inhalation. Your lungs are a little ragged," she said as she moved back around to the front. "Let me listen to your heart a little." Her green eyes lifted to meet his brown eyes. "That is if there's even one in there."

"That supposed to be funny?" he muttered as she placed her hand on his shoulder and placed the diaphragm against his chest. He covered his mouth again to cough, careful to make sure he turned his head to not cough in her direction.

"Sit up straight," she said.

Taking a deep breath, Leatherneck straightened himself and tried not to take a deep breath to inhale the scent of her hair. He tried to ignore the sweet floral scent that was teasing his nose as she stood just inches away from him as she listened to his heartbeat.

Stepping away, Juliette pulled the earpieces from her ears and laid the stethoscope back over her neck. "I think it would be beneficial for you to take a breathing treatment or two to help clear out your lungs. You were in that smoke a little longer than you should have," she said as she picked up her clipboard and pulled a pen from her lab coat pocket. Hearing him coughing again, she sighed as she made a few notations on the clipboard. Lifting her eyes she met his again. "But, you'll probably just refuse it anyway."

He stared at her, thinking it would have been easier to deal with Beachhead and disobey orders by not coming down to the infirmary. He would have sucked it up and taken whatever punishment that he had coming to him from Beachhead. But after feeling his lungs hurting more as he sat there he was glad that he had. Not that he wouldn't admit it to her.

"All right," she said, not receiving a response from the Marine. "I'll make a deal with you." She walked over to the sink and sat the clipboard down. Pressing the metal pedal beneath the sink cabinet, she poured some soap into her palm and began to wash her hands. "Go back to your quarters. Take a nice long shower. If you're still having trouble breathing, come back down here any time day or night. I'll leave orders for any of the staff on duty to give you a treatment." Pulling out several paper towels from the dispenser, she turned around to face him as she dried her hands. "And don't wait until you get where you can't breathe at all, Leatherneck. No need to let this turn into something worse like pneumonia."

He frowned as he looked at the base nurse. "Pneumonia? You trying to make me feel guilty to do what you want?"

Shaking her head, she dropped the towels into the waste can. "No. I'm not. Just trying to give it to you straightforward." Juliette placed her hands into her lab coat pockets and leaned back against the counter. "I mean, if you'd rather have me candy coat it, I will."

He continued to stare at her quietly for a moment before answering her. "Don't do that. If you're going to say it just say it."

Nodding, Juliette watched the Marine drop to his feet and began to redress. "Okay then. I think you should take a breathing treatment now and then another one in four hours. It will keep you from getting sick and keep you out of here and out of my hair."

"Aww…that hurts, Ratchet," he said as he released the belt around his trousers to open his pants to tuck his t-shirt back under the waist band. Buttoning the top of his trousers, he began to fasten the buckle of his belt then stabbed himself in the chest. "Hurts me right here."

Juliette gave him a half shrug. "Suits me just fine, sergeant. If you want to make yourself sick then by all means, do so."

Grabbing his CUU shirt from the stretcher, he stepped over to where she stood by the door and stopped. Looking down at the woman, his eyelids lowered as he stared at her. "I'm leaving."

"Good thing," she said as she pushed herself off the counter that she was leaning against. "You're stinking up my infirmary."

His finger lifted to point it in her face as his jaw slacked. He was about to say something but stopped, knowing better than to say what he wanted. His father raised him better than that. Dropping his hand down to his side, he turned and walked away without saying another word. He made it halfway down the hallway before he heard her make a comment behind his back, making him stop in his tracks.

"See you in a couple of hours," she had said.

He groaned, shaking his head. Don't say it, Metzger, he thought as he began walking again. He'd prove her wrong. There was no way that he'd be back.