Title: Reunion - part 9
Character/s: Gaius, Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Gaius visits Merlin for a follow-up.
Word Count: 1,033
Prompt: 426 permission
Author's Notes: Please do not use any of this as medical advice. I am not a physician, and therefore anything the doctor says cannot be assumed to be true. ... But still, Arthur probably should not be jerking his head around this much.
That morning, the physician does come to check on Merlin's progress.
Three guards let him in and stand watch outside the open cell.
He is a white-haired old man who stands straight and carries over his shoulder a round bag the likes of which Merlin has never seen.
"Good morning, Sire," he says to Arthur.
"Gaius," Arthur nods. He moves aside to make space for Gaius at the bench. "This is Merlin. Merlin, Gaius is the court physician."
Gaius looks down at Merlin on the bench. "Right where I left you, I see. Good boy. Now that you're awake, I can formally request your permission to act as your physician. What say you?"
"A yes or no will serve," Arthur adds.
"I appreciate what you have done so far, so don't stop now," Merlin replies.
"Excellent. Quick questions first, then," Gaius says as he puts his round bag on the bench by Merlin's feet. "I expect Arthur has been asking you some through the night?"
"He has," Merlin replies.
"Pain, nausea, or dizziness right now?" Gaius asks.
"My arm and leg hurt. No dizziness. There hasn't been any nausea, before or after eating."
"So you did get some food. Good," Gaius remarks. His eyes flick to the guards outside the cell, but only Merlin sees his look of disapproval.
"Yes," Arthur confirms, "before first light. He only ate half of it, though."
"Diminished appetite? That's odd if there's no nausea."
"Arthur, don't mislead him!" Merlin says to Gaius, "I made him eat the other half. I think you haven't been allowed to see him; he hadn't eaten in three days."
"We're talking about you right now, Merlin," Arthur admonishes.
"He's here, Arthur. You should take advantage of it. Stop being so self-sacrificing and get a few minutes of medical attention." Merlin looks Gaius in the eye. "You won't leave until you've inspected under my bandages, correct?"
"That is the job I am here to do, yes," Gaius replies louder than before.
Merlin understands that Gaius' volume is not for him but for the guards; he follows Gaius' lead. "Then I request that you see to my carer, for my benefit." At regular volume, Merlin adds, "He is strong, but he has not been treated with basic decency for several days in a row."
Before Arthur can protest again, Gaius turns to him with a swish of his long robe, a raised eyebrow, and a beckoning finger.
Arthur stays where he is.
"Arthur, come on, I know you heard that," Merlin coaxes.
Arthur breathes out a short, exasperated breath and lets his shoulders drop a fraction of an inch. He takes a step forward, but, not knowing exactly where Gaius is standing, accidentally stops just out of his reach.
Gaius frowns. He closes the distance to Arthur and peers into Arthur's eyes. He doesn't mince his words. "How much can you see?" he asks quietly.
Arthur purses his lips. "Nearly nothing," he says very quietly. "I can tell if it's night, because the darkness is more complete. There is a hint of light in the daytime. No shapes or noticeable shadows, though."
Gaius inspects Arthur's head visually and manually. As he does, he says, "It looked like quite the blow to the head. I assumed it wasn't as serious as I'd previously thought because you were moving about on your own. However, if there is this much damage to your vision, then it is quite serious indeed. Frankly, I am surprised that you are able to function at all at this point."
"I have done little but rest for the past four days," Arthur says.
"And be starved," Merlin interjects.
"Is there any pain in your neck?" Gaius asks Arthur.
"No," Arthur answers. "Only at the point of contact here." Arthur indicates the spot.
Gaius shifts Arthur's hair aside. "Yes, there is a large bruise here. No broken skin. No bleeding."
"That's good, then, isn't it?" Merlin asks hopefully.
Gaius throws him a puzzled look.
Merlin thinks Gaius is beginning to wonder about their familiarity. He chastises himself. Maybe Gaius' manner put him at ease, or perhaps he couldn't hide his concern for Arthur any longer. Either way, he should have been more careful around a stranger.
Gaius turns back to Arthur. "Have you had any nosebleeds?"
"One, on the second day."
"I suppose you wouldn't know what color the blood was." It isn't a question.
Arthur answers anyway. "You might be able to tell for yourself. I used my cloak to catch it."
"Arthur," Merlin says, "your cloak is filthy."
"Is it?" Arthur asks in surprise. "Well. I suppose I have been sleeping on the ground of a cell. Nevertheless, you may find something." Arthur slides his hands along the front edges of the cloak. He grips it about halfway down and spreads his arms out to the sides. The move spreads the cloak out so Gaius can look for the stain more easily.
"You look like a giant bat," Merlin teases.
Arthur grins. "Or a fearsome dragon?"
"Oh, very well. Your head isn't quite big enough to pull it off, but–"
"Here it is," Gaius cuts them off. He stares at it a moment. "Hm. It is too soiled and dried up to tell definitively." He straightens up and comes back around to Arthur's front.
"What would the color have meant?" Arthur asks.
"It might have indicated an internal bleed or a release of pressure, versus a common bleed."
Merlin stores that information away for later.
"I'm afraid we'll need to wait and see about your vision," Gaius continues.
"You mean it might not be permanent?" Arthur asks. "I thought it would be."
"It may yet be. I wish I could have examined you as soon as it happened," Gaius laments. "There are things that seem obvious at the start that get obscured the more time passes. Still, now we'll have to let time tell. Keep resting. If you notice anything else unusual, send for me. I know I don't need to tell you to seek a way around any obstacles."
Arthur frowns, though not at Gaius, then nods in agreement.
Gaius turns back to Merlin. "Let's see those injuries now."