Rory picked up the patient's chart at the door checked the name, and stepped into the patient examining room.
"Now what seems to be the problem?" he asked cheerfully, with a confident manner that had won him accolades from his patients and coworkers.
The woman sitting on the examining table gave him a wry, pained smile. "I had a bit of an accident." She was an older lady, still fit and lovely despite the wisdom on her face. The hunched, pained way she sat on the table sent Rory around to look at her back.
The hospital gown she wore around the front gaped open to reveal three long wide scratches across the back of her ribcage. The top and bottom one were raw wheals, but the middle one was bleeding.
She looked like she'd been clawed by a giant. Rory immediately set the clipboard down and reached for the antiseptic wipes. "How did this happen?"
She winced when the astringent touched the wheals but her voice was steady. And just a bit too pat. "Fell against an iron spiked fence." Her voice dropped almost inaudible. "Didn't dodge fast enough."
Rory's hand stilled. His heart clenched. He moved around to her front, bloody wipe in one hand. "If someone did this to you..." he said, in a concerned voice that had steel running under it, but it was still a question.
She looked up, startled. "NO. No," she smiled wryly again. "I'm a bit accident prone."
Rory scowled, he'd heard that before.
She apparently realized what it sounded like. She started laughing. It was a light, free laugh. Not the sound of an abused woman. She grinned, twinkling eyes reassuring him, behind a youthful smile.
"This is just the sort of thing I used to get into with the Doctor," she said under her breath, not really talking to him.
Rory's ears instantly perked up, even though he knew it was not what it sounded like to him. He went back to cleaning the wound, checking to see if the middle one required stitches. "Know an adventurous Doctor do you?" he asked. Smiling secretly behind her.
"Oh, the absolute worst. We used to get into such horrible scrapes together." She hissed a bit as the astringent stung, but there was affection in her voice, nostalgia.
"Yeah, I know someone like that," Rory said. "Two someones, actually, this is just the sort of thing my daughter's likely to come home with."
"Adventuresome is she?" the woman asked, smiling across her shoulder at him.
He barked a laugh. "Extremely!"
"I bet she's adorable," the woman said.
Realizing the woman would naturally assume his child was a child, he smiled, proudly, "Yes, she is."
He frowned and peered closer at the middle slash. There was something caught in the end of it. "Hold still." She stiffened. He took a pair of tweezers and worked loose what looked like a sliver of bone, or horn.
In fact, when he pulled it free, it looked like the tip of a claw. A large one.
He looked up to find her staring at him. A very serious look on her face. She held one hand out flat. "I think I'd better take that."
There was authority in her voice.
He looked back down at the striated nail in the tweezers. He laid it in her hand. It didn't look like any claw he'd seen before.
"Do you want to tell me what really happened?" he asked.
She wrapped the claw in a bit of tissue paper and tucked it into her purse. "Just a bit of a tangle with a Slytheen, nothing for you to worry about," she said softly. As if she didn't expect him to hear the answer, or understand it.
Slytheen. Slytheen. Why did that sound familiar?
He frowned. It clicked. Something the Doctor had said. 'Slytheen," he said aloud, startling her. She stared at him. "Big, babyfaced, pot bellied... That Slytheen?"
Her eyes widened slightly. She started to slip off the table, urgency in every line, turning toward him. He pressed down on her shoulder and kept her in place. Her back started bleeding again.
"You've seen them? Where?" she asked urgently.
"No, no," he waved it away as he busied himself cleaning her wound again, wiping up the trickle of blood, pressing the wound to see if there was any foreign substance in it, especially anything green.
"It was just something the Doctor said," he said absently.
"THE Doctor?" she asked with emphasis, a bit of breathy excitement leaking into her voice. He looked up at her. She stared at him intently. "TARDIS," she said baldly.
He jumped, his eyes darted around as if anyone would hear them.
"You do know him!" She pealed with laughter.
Ignoring her back she swiveled around on the table, catching his hands. "The Doctor. Travels in the TARDIS. Prone to getting into trouble and talks a mile a minute?"
"Yeah." He felt breathless.
"How is he?" she asked, delighted. Settling in as if for a long chat. "When did you see him last?"
"Last weekend," he said, still a bit gobsmacked. "He and River came for dinner."
"River? His new traveling assistant?"
"His wife. My daughter."
"Daughter? I thought..."
He sighed. "She's older than me. It's a long story."
She grinned. "It always is with the Doctor. So, a wife," her voice was quiet with wonder, a huge smile spread across her face. She looked him up and down, he could practically see the wheels whirring in her head, "So that makes you the Doctor's father-in-law?"
He sighed. "Yes, for my sins."
She laughed. She had a lovely laugh. Then something apparently occurred to her. "Wait, that means your wife is his mother-in-law?" Her eyes were shining with glee. "Does she give him a hard time?"
"God yes!" Rory rolled his eyes. "No one can give a man a hard time like my Amy."
She laughed delightedly and clapped her hands. "Good! He deserves it!" She grinned. "You know, I once told the Doctor he had the biggest family on Earth. I'm glad to see it's expanding." She reached out to shake his hand, and winced as her back stung.
He turned her around with his hands on her shoulders. "Here, let's get you fixed up."
She nodded. "Normally, I'd just take care of it myself," Sarah said, smiling wryly, breathing out at the pain. "But it's in a bit of an awkward place."
"Yeah, it's not easy to bandage your own back. River has that problem," he said distractedly. "Sometimes I think that's the only reason she comes to see me." She heard a soft humming sound, felt a bit of warmth, and felt the cuts on her back seal up.
She sat up straight. "What was that?" she turned to look, twisting to see her own back. He stepped around in front of her and held up a small silver tube.
"Christmas present from the Doctor. I don't normally use it. Can't let people see. But I figure you'd understand." He slipped it back in his pocket, waved her to stay where she was. "We'll bandage you up so no one asks any questions."
She nodded. "Gifts from the Doctor are like that." She folded her hands in her lap while he bandaged the perfectly healthy pink skin on her back.
She grinned. "He gave me a dog."
Rory patted the last of the bandages in place. "There, you can put your shirt on." He turned away while she got dressed. He prepared a syringe.
He turned back and held it up. She pulled her glossy brown hair out of her neckline and straightened her shirt. He was surprised at how short she was.
"I'm going to give you a broad spectrum antibiotic, just in case. I didn't like the look of that claw."
She nodded and held out her arm.
He gave her the shot and noted it down in her file. She rolled down her shirtsleeve.
She smiled and held out her hand, her eyes glancing at his nametag. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Nurse Williams."
He shook her hand and smiled back. "Pleased to meet you, Miss Smith."
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