tagSci-Fi & FantasyMorgan's Genie Ch. 03

Morgan's Genie Ch. 03


Chapter Three: Perspective

Later That Night

Baghdad, Iraq

"So it could have been much, much worse," Major Bhandari continued. She traced out several small lines on the x-ray photograph of Morgan's ankle. "From what I surmise, either one of the hostiles had fallen in between your leg and the grenade when it blew, or you're simply phenomenally lucky to have caught so little in the way of burns and shrapnel. I have to say I lean toward the former."

"Well, better lucky than good, right?" Morgan replied. She deliberately looked at the doctor sitting in the chair next to her bed, because looking at Thomas's expression of amazement at the x-ray was going to make her giggle. She couldn't help but smile as it was.

"I will take luck any day," Major Bhandari nodded. Her accent was still closer to her Indian-schooled Queen's English than that of her American comrades, and the doctor's coat she wore looked much more fitting on her than her fatigues. Morgan felt an instant liking for Major Bhandari. She had an excellent bedside manner. Bhandari skipped straight to calling Morgan by her name rather than rank right off the bat. "And it's also good to see you in good spirits."

"I can't complain about getting to lay in bed all day," Morgan shrugged with a slight grin. She flashed a wink at Thomas that the doctor didn't notice.

"You may be the only person in this hospital who feels that way," Bhandari mused soberly. Morgan's grin disappeared. She was silent as the doctor wrote notes on her clipboard. Thomas noted Morgan's crestfallen expression with concern but said nothing that might make it difficult to pretend he wasn't present.

"So," Bhandari went on, "you'll be laid up for a couple of weeks, give or take, and you'll have to be on very light duty for a couple of months after that -- possibly three, though you're already doing marvelously. Given that, I have to say, you won't be here in Baghdad much longer. I can't say when you'll be off to Germany, but I can't imagine you being here more than a few days at the most. There simply isn't room for you."

"How...how bad is it, ma'am? In the rest of the hospital, I mean?"

Bhandari looked up at Morgan curiously. "We have a couple here that might not make it through the night," she said bluntly. "But as I'm sure you know, it's not like it used to be. We save many more of our patients than our predecessors could in earlier wars. It's the healing and the adjustments that are the real challenge." Bhandari paused, and then smiled a bit sadly. "It's not as bad as it was on my last deployment."

Seeing the sober nod from her patient, Bhandari put her hand on Morgan's. "I've already heard what you did, Morgan. You saved a lot of lives, and you saved yourself."

"So I'm told," Morgan shrugged. She looked up at the doctor thoughtfully. "How do you deal with working here? How do you manage it?"

"I put my head down and wade in, just like you did and just like all the grunts out there," Bhandari told her simply. "And I take care of myself as best I can."

"Feels kind of bad, now that I think about it," Morgan mumbled. "Sitting in here while all that's going on outside."

"A lot of patients feel that way. Morgan, you have a right to be happy. You're alive and in one piece. Being happy for yourself doesn't make you a bad person, no matter how badly off others are. You can't save them all. And you're no good to anyone else if you're never good to yourself."

She looked at Morgan, waiting for her patient to nod. It wasn't entirely convincing, but Bhandari couldn't linger. "On that note, though, I've got others to look in on. So like I said. Rest, eat and drink well and let us know if you feel any differently at all. And whatever you're doing for yourself, keep doing it, because you already look better than someone in your position normally would." Bhandari smiled kindly, gave Morgan's hand a maternal pat, and headed out.

"Thank you, ma'am," Morgan mumbled. She didn't know if the doctor had heard it or not, but there were other things on her mind already.

"Those were really pictures of your insides?" Thomas asked in awe as he stepped closer to her side. "The material alone is amazing, but what artist could paint--?"

"I'm such a douchebag," his mistress interrupted. "Such a selfish twat."

"You are not," Thomas frowned, knowing neither what a twat might be or what a douche was (or why one would need a bag of them), but understanding the tone perfectly.

"Thomas," she said, looking up at him now. "You aren't powerful enough to stop the war, are you? If I wished it? Could you make it stop?"

He shook his head. "Were genies that powerful, surely there would have been no Crusade. I could go out in search of your enemies. I could lay them low bit by bit, in groups of dozens or perhaps even a few hundred...but the more of them I face at once, the more my powers fade. Yet ultimately I would merely be one very effective warrior amid an entire war."

"Yeah. Okay. I kinda figured that." Morgan didn't give it much more thought. He was magical, but he wasn't psychic, and that would lead to the same basic problem of the war: if the enemy could be drawn out into large, open battles, there very quickly wouldn't be much of an enemy anymore, and the enemy -- however one defined them -- knew that all too well.

She put it aside. Fretting about that would only make her more insane. There were other productive things that could be done. She had to think of something. "You can help the people in this hospital, right? The wounded? The sick?"

His gaze held a warning. "I can," he nodded, "but I have to remind you that we must be careful. Magic must be kept hidden by its nature, and—"

"Alright, I know already. Look, I'm not asking you to just magic everyone's problems away. But anything's better than nothing." It was hard to keep from sounding desperate. She probably wasn't doing a good job. "You can do something, right?"

"I suppose that would be a matter of circumstance," the genie shrugged. "I would have to see each one at a time."

"Then I need you to get out there and help people however you can. Can you sneak me around with you? Or would that slow you down?"

Thomas considered it. "I don't yet know the limits of my power. I only know that it is finite. But I understand so little of what is going on here. I can't imagine that I would do as much good alone as I would if I had you to guide me."

"Then get me up and make me invisible or however it is that everyone ignores you," she said, gesturing to the door. "Just...look, we can't let anyone die here tonight, all right? I don't want to think about people being in pain and dying while I'm laying in here getting laid and having a good time, alright?" Her voice cracked at the last. Tears were forming in her eyes.

"I'll do my best," Thomas bowed. He reached for her legs, mending each one in seconds.

Morgan swung herself out of the bed, pausing only to test the strength of her legs. "Sitting in a hospital in the middle of a war," she grumbles, "and the first thing I think of when a fucking genie lands in my lap is that I want to try out his cock."

Thomas blinked. His face flushed. When Morgan looked up at him expectantly, he could do little more than clear his throat.

"Am I invisible?" she asked. "And can we make sure nobody notices I'm gone?"

"Yes. Of course," Thomas nodded. He raised a hand toward the bed, and soon there was another Morgan laying in it sound asleep.

"Good enough. Let's move out, soldier."

* * *

It was an education in how much the world, and warfare, had changed.

The hospital, as Morgan called it, was swarmed with people. He came to understand that her room was an anomaly, as many of them were shared. Yet the two or three wounded soldiers per room was still an astounding luxury to his thinking, as was the meticulous cleanliness of the building.

After some consternation in trying to learn her way around herself, Morgan brought him to the "emergency room." It was, she said, where the newest patients were brought, and therefore where those in most pressing need would be. He thought, on arrival, that men and women were simply not brought to this floor of the hospital (as Morgan called it) until they were bandaged and no longer bleeding, but even on the bottom floor where the wounded were brought in, he found that spilled blood and bile and such were promptly cleaned up.

It made for a considerably less unpleasant setting than the sort of mess made when the wounded were gathered from the sorts of battles he was used to.

There was blood, though, and pain. Few cries for aid. Those happened, too, but to his thinking there was less anguish from the wounded than there was urgent conversation from those tending to them. The sheer amount of aid was jarring as well -- so many soldiers devoted to healing, so much equipment and space and energy.

"Okay, so make sure none of these guys die...can you do that?" Morgan asked softly. She stayed on his arm, clinging to it almost, guiding him as much as she used him to steady herself. His mistress had her hand over her mouth and nose. It seemed in keeping, he realized, with the number of masks people around him wore on the bottom half of their faces.

Yet for a place where the wounded and dying were to be brought, Thomas was amazed at how little the room stank at all.

"That one shall live without my aid...so will that one...and he..." Thomas frowned. The injured man lay on a table of sorts, tended to by several soldiers whose expressions and tones conveyed urgency. Someone was pushing down on his chest, rhythmically, looking on at another healer for some sort of confirmation. "He is dying."

"Keep his heart beating," Morgan mumbled, "and, um, has he lost a lot of blood? That's what they're saying. Can you give him more?"

"I can," Thomas nodded, turning his mind to it.

"You need to keep blood, not lose it," Morgan went on. "We don't put leeches on people or 'bleed' the sick anymore. That's stupid, it's...it's counterproductive, you're supposed to stop bleeding."

He paid only little heed to her explanation at first. What she asked of him required some concentration. Yet after a moment, he was satisfied that he had fulfilled her directions. The urgency in those around the injured man lessened somewhat, and the one pushing on his chest let up. Thomas turned to Morgan. "In my day, such steps were taken well after the battle, not in the immediate aftermath," he smirked. "One doesn't immediately think, 'That man is bleeding out, but if I ensure he bleeds more he will survive.'"

Morgan opened her mouth as if to say something, then caught his expression and let it go with a bit of a fuming breath. "Smartass," she grumbled.

"These men will all recover. That one, however, will suffer from great confusion. Disorientation. It is as if he has suffered a blow to the head much worse than yours. Yet it seems to have hit him all over."

"Can you fix that? Lighten up the injury some?"

Thomas nodded. He stared at the next patient for a moment. "I have," he said. "He is still injured, yet not nearly so much. I believe he will recover. And his pain is lessened," he added.

"Thank you," she breathed out.

"If I might ask," Thomas frowned, "what manner of battle is it that harms these men so? I don't see cuts from swords. Some of these wounds are punctures as if from splinters, yet it is metal. And so many of them, like that last, seem to have been injured in much of their bodies all at once?"

"You don't...you don't see a lot of up-close fighting anymore," Morgan tried to explain. "Most of it happens at range. You had bows and arrows. Crossbows, too, right?"

Thomas frowned. "Yes," he said. "Effective, but many feel it's cowardly to fight at distance. They don't take much training to use well compared to a sword or a bow."

Morgan was already leading him out of the room and down a hallway. "Well, these days, people don't really worry about what's cowardly or not. You think about how to make the other guy dead and make sure you get home alive."

"I suppose there's sense in that," Thomas shrugged.

"Well, anyway, I'll show you more later, but the weapons that get the most use now are called guns, and they're a little like crossbows. Much smaller, though, and what comes out of them flies faster than you can see. That's some of what you're seeing. The rest...well, the rest are bombs. Explosions. You ever, um..." Morgan thought as she walked, leading him around several people walking their way without noticing them. "You ever see burning wood burst in a campfire? Well, think of something like that happening without the burning first. Only with a lot more power. It's kind of what happened to my leg."

He frowned. "Yet it was all metal that went through your leg."

"I'm explaining this poorly. I'm not a history expert. I'm not sure what you'd understand and what you wouldn't, because we just don't have the same frame of reference." She looked around, reading the signs. "Oh God," she breathed. "Burn ward." Morgan kept hold of his arm. "C'mon."

* * *

"You mustn't be hard on yourself," she heard Thomas say gently.

She laid in her bed, turned on her side, one arm underneath the pillow and the other hand tugging the blanket close. Thomas sat in his chair again, speaking to the back of her head.

It had been less than two hours before he confessed that his powers were spent. They had seen to the worst cases in the building, thankfully, and he still had power to use on the pair of Iraqi policemen who were brought in with gunshot wounds...but after that, Thomas could only look to her sadly and shrug. He didn't know yet how long it would be before he was up for more.

"We could've done more," Morgan sniffed. "Could've probably helped someone else if I hadn't spent all day playing with you like you're my personal magic porn star."

He didn't respond immediately. "Do you mean," he said gently, "when we laid together?"

"Yes. Laid together. Had sex. Fornicated. Fucked."

"I see," he replied. She imagined him nodding. The gentleness did not leave his voice, but he sounded a bit embarrassed when he said, "It did not take so much energy."

"Then my legs must have taken some energy, I'm sure," she countered bitterly. "Bouncing back and forth between hurt and healed just for the hell of it."

"You had been through a great deal, and were confronted with sudden fortune. You should not be hard on yourself."

She didn't respond. Morgan was being dramatic, and knew it, and was irritated by that, too. It wasn't her style at all. Even now, she knew she could and should cut it out. It wasn't doing her any good, let alone Thomas. He was probably more worried about whether or not their earlier fling was suddenly forgotten.

But she was doubly irritated by the fact that she could be conscious of her own dramatics in light of what really bothered her. She had all this power here at her disposal, ready and eager to please, and instead of thinking about her fellow soldiers or the dozens of Iraqis here, combatant and civilian alike, she thought of herself. People all around her were in pain while she was getting it on in her hospital bed. Selfish. Stupid. So stupid.

"How long has this war gone on?" Thomas asked.

"Goin' on six years," Morgan said. "Since March of 2003. It's January of 2009 now. And no end in sight."

"And how many of your countrymen have died here?"

"Four thousand somethin', last I heard," she sniffed. "Couple hundred allies from other countries."

He let out a breath of shock. "Four thousand," he murmured. "I saw nearly that many cut down in a day at Dorylaeum."

Morgan turned to him at that, looking up but not knowing what to say.

"What I saw tonight was terrible, make no mistake. I do not belittle what you or your comrades have suffered. I am sure you have lost friends; I have as well. But to my view, what you have done here has been nothing that would bring shame. Many would not have even considered sharing fortune as you have. And you gave of yourself just yesterday as well. Your liege, Wallace, said so himself. Were it not for you, others would surely have died."

"I just...don't feel like it's right for me to have a good time while all this is going on around me," Morgan said softly.

"Perhaps," Thomas shrugged, "perhaps not. But it is as the healer -- Bhandari? -- told you. You have to take care of yourself. Keeping good spirits will aid your recovery, and you must look to that. My magic can heal what ails your body, but I cannot so easily heal the scars on your heart. And there are such scars. Any who have seen war will carry them."

He fell silent for a moment, looking down at his feet and then back at her. "I know not what our future together holds, or what place I might take in your heart, or if even thinking of such is presumption...but laying with you this day meant a great deal to me. You were not the only one to feel joy or solace." His words came out slowly. Softly. Thomas hadn't struck Morgan as a stoic or a macho man, but realized now that he likely didn't have many outlets for discussing emotion. "And so if you do not feel that it was necessary for you...I can tell you, for what it is worth, that it was very much what I needed. And I will always be grateful."

Something inside her crumbled. Morgan's lip trembled a little, and her eyes began to water again. She hated crying -- she was tougher than this. Yet her secret companion had suddenly shown her an unexpected side. She hadn't thought of him as a toy, certainly, but somewhere in the deep, stirring voice and the battle-hardened sexiness, Morgan hadn't really thought too much yet about what lay inside.

She gingerly reached out her hand, which he took up and softly kissed. She smiled a bit, feeling like she should blush or something, but was after all this a bit too emotionally spent for that. Yet his gaze was stirring. Heartfelt admissions or no, he certainly hadn't lost his composure.

"It meant a lot to me, too, Thomas," she told him. "I really like you. A lot. And I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am to have you here. Or for today. And...I don't want to sell today short, but I'm even more grateful for what you did tonight."

He bowed his head just a bit, though smiling tenderly. "I am at your service. You should not feel reluctant to command me. Even if it is something just for yourself. You have already done much for others, even before I came along."

Morgan nodded. "Any more magic juice back?"

"Some small portion," he answered after a moment's consideration. "It returns in a trickle. I could not yet do much, but being at rest helps me recover."

"I don't know...I don't really know how far we're gonna go," she said. "You and I. But I really like you. You're warm. You're good. And I'd really like it if we could at least consider each other friends and maybe work from there?"

He smiled. "I would like that." Then a wry smirk appeared on his lips. "Do friends...in this day and age, do friends lay together? Has that become normal?"

"It's not normal," Morgan laughed, "but it happens. For friends like us, anyway," she said. Looking in those eyes again, she found herself losing a small battle within. She knew she should be more guarded than this, for her own sake -- and, she understood now, for his -- but she just couldn't take the thought of him suffering over ambiguities. "More than friends," she added in a final compromise with herself. "I would really like it if you would lay here with me tonight. Not to have sex, but just to be close to me."

"I would very much appreciate that, too," he said. Morgan shifted as best she could, tugging on his hand, and Thomas clambered up to squeeze into the bed as best he could. There was certainly less room on it now than there had been earlier in the day through his magic. "I could make the bed wider soon, I think," he suggested with a frown.

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