David's Star II: Journey's End - Chapter 8
Archie frowned, watching Hannah remove the soiled bandages on his chest. Whatever he'd been expecting, it was not what he saw.
As the bandage was pulled away, his eyes widened in shock. Down the center of his chest was a long stitched incision. To the side of it, where the gunshot had been, there were more stitches. Between the stitches in both areas, blood was still seeping through.
Noticing his alarm, Hannah gently pushed his head back so he could see less of it. "Katryn had to crack your chest." She finally informed him.
Archie raised his eyebrows, looking partly confused and partly amazed.
"She had to saw through the breastbone and open the entire chest." Hannah translated. "There were too many difficulties with clotting. We're going to have to keep you on meds for a while, because it's going to hurt where the bone was split."
"And how did it get back together?" Archie asked, confused.
"They had to wire it back."
Blinking, Archie swallowed. "Does this wire have to come out?"
"Not unless there are some complications down the line." Hannah answered. "Sometimes it can loosen over a period of time and cause some annoyance poking at the skin but usually, it's fine to just leave it. However, if it does come to be a bother later on, it can be removed fairly easily."
"How long will it take to heal?"
"Not as long as your leg took." Hannah answered, cleaning around the stitches. "But it will take at least a month or two. You will not be able to raise your arms up without it causing some pain so you'll need some assistance with some everyday tasks for a while and you will not be allowed to lift anything heavy for at least six weeks. Other than that, it generally heals faster than most would think, depending on the internal damages."
"I see." Archie chewed his lip. "Does Horatio know yet?"
"We're trying to chase him down." Hannah told him, shaking her head. "Davey told Bush to stall him, so we have a pretty good idea of where they are, but that's only if he succeeded."
"The ship's orders were to sail back to England." Hannah informed Archie. "We're hoping Bush was able to delay that."
"You left a few dead bodies on an island." Hannah reminded him. "Deserters, I believe? If Will succeeded, they'll be retrieving and burying the bodies."
Archie gave a doubtful look. "I don't know how Horatio would react to that." He remarked, honestly. "He doesn't look upon deserters very well."
"We told him to play the wild card."
"The wild card?"
"Play against the fact that Horatio was forced to throw a body overboard, and even though they were deserters, they still deserve to be buried." Hannah explained.
Archie looked a bit impressed. "That may actually work." He replied, after a moment.
"We're counting on it."
As Hannah secured a new bandage to the surgical site, Archie noticed again the gold chain around her neck. The locket hung below. Although he saw this, he did not comment this time. He desperately wanted to know if his suspicions were correct, but this was not something he could just ask straight out. If she noticed him eyeing the locket again, Hannah did not comment on it.
As she finished the new bandage, Hannah instead looked over to the left. "Ah, I believe Dr. Sebastian has returned to the land of the living."
The old doctor slowly sat up. When he saw Archie looking at him, his mouth broke to a smile. "And I see I am not the only one who has returned to life."
Archie couldn't resist a grin.
"I'll just leave the two of you to catch up." Hannah put in, pulling the curtains around them as she left.
Archie watched the nurse depart, intently.
The doctor, noticing this raised an eyebrow. "She seems to be very nice." He spoke up, pointedly.
Kennedy, with a slight blush, looked back down at his lap. "From what I know of her, she is." He remarked, quietly.
Dr. Sebastian smiled, shaking his head.
"Did anyone mention how close they are to finding Horatio's ship?" Archie asked, after a pause.
The older man shrugged. "I believe we should know by either tonight or tomorrow." He replied, not sounding sure. "We are headed to the island specified . . ."
"But they are not sure Will was able to stall the ship." Archie finished, sighing.
"Let us pray he was." Dr. Sebastian went on, seriously, before he continued. "Because I will have to be transferred off this ship before it returns to Florida."
Archie closed his eyes. He had known they were taking him away, but still, the thought of leaving behind everyone he knew and respected caused some distress.
Dr. Sebastian, reading the look in his eyes, nodded. "I've heard a mention of perhaps another trip like this some time." He informed the younger man.
Archie gaze turned back to him. "You mean they may come back?"
The old doctor shrugged. "I'm not completely certain on it, but there were a few of the crew speaking of it as a possibility." He answered. "But in all honesty, I do not think you should go back to England in this time."
Archie nodded. "I know." He responded, absently. "If they catch me, they hang me."
"Well, see that's the key word." A familiar voice spoke up from nearby.
Archie frowned, as Dr. Sebastian opened the other side curtain. In another sick berth bed not far away, Lt. Dave Conrad was sitting up, grinning at him.
It had been three years since Archie had last seen Dave. He looked well, if one could ignore the bandaging over his eye.
"What is the key word?" Archie asked him, confused.
"'IF.'" Conrad replied, matter-of-factly. "The makeup and disguise techniques of the future are a lot better than they are now. In all honesty, we could change your looks so well, not even Horatio could recognize you if you ever did want to go back."
Archie, now definitely interested, blinked. "Really?"
Conrad's grin widened. "Oh yeah."
"Although your ship's current orders are to return to Florida." Dr. Sebastian pointed out.
"Well, yeah." Conrad admitted. "But if we do come back . . ." He trailed off.
Archie shrugged and went back to his cup of ice chips. This was certainly very welcome news. Perhaps he would be able to come back after all . . . someday. Whatever he was going to do before that happened; he still had no idea.
Before anyone else could comment, they were interrupted by Jesse's arrival.
"Guess what!" He announced.
"You've sighted the Bermuda Triangle." Conrad quipped, half serious.
Jesse looked at him like he was insane. "We're in the Bermuda Triangle." He pointed out.
"We're lost?" Conrad tried again.
"Shut up." Jesse retorted.
"What is it?" Archie asked, impatiently.
"We found out that our tuna-fish really is made from dolphins!" Jesse announced, proudly.
Archie stared at him. What? Was that really even worth announcing?
"Will you two stop teasing them?" Katryn scolded them, before turning back to the other two. "They just found what we are assuming is Horatio's ship."
Archie's head perked up. "Really?"
"Well, we're not totally sure yet." Jesse put in. "I mean it's not like he wrote 'Horatio's Ship' on the main sheet or something, which would have been really helpful, but we assume it's his ship."
Archie suddenly choked on his ice. The very thought of Horatio doing such a thing was completely unlike him, but it certainly made for a hysterical mental image.
Katryn rushed over to help him, and glared at Jesse. "Way to go, Babe. Choke him to death just the second we finally find Horatio to tell him he's alive." She said in a reproaching tone. "What are we supposed to tell him then? 'Sorry man, we did save him but he choked to death on an ice cube before we could flag you down!'"
Archie now had tears streaking his face. He'd managed to swallow the ice, but he couldn't stop the laughing. His chest had started to hurt and he was sure he was bleeding again, but he loved this ship and these people.
Not even Dr. Sebastian could keep a straight face, at Katryn's perfect imitation of Jesse's manner of speaking.
Hannah, completely sober, finally cut in. "Someone's going to have to change his bandage again before we bring Horatio down here or he's going to freak." She stated, pointedly.
Archie looked down at the front of his gown. "Oops." He murmured, guiltily, before he pointed at Jesse. "He did it."
"Well, it didn't take long for all that Navy discipline and proper behavior to revert back to where we had him before." Conrad announced, proudly. "Horatio will be so pleased to hear that we broke him again."
On the Retribution, Horatio was starting to get annoyed with his First Lieutenant. The bodies of the deserters had been recovered and given their burials at sea, and yet still, Lt. Bush was stalling him. Yes, he was sure of it now. For whatever reason, Horatio couldn't figure out, their return to England was being purposely delayed. After they had completed the burials, Lt. Bush had then suggested, rather desperately, that perhaps they should get a supply of fresh water while they were there; although they had already obtained sufficient supplies before they'd departed from Kingston. This was subsequently noticeable as a ploy to delay them that even Hobbs caught onto it and was persistently eying Lt. Bush with a suspicious frown.
Seated at his table, in his quarters, Horatio had sent word for Mr. Bush to come see him. It was time he told his Captain what was going on. Their orders were to return to England and Horatio was going to see that they did just that, regardless of what Mr. Bush was scheming about.
He looked up at the sound of knocking at his door. "Come!" He called out.
It was not Mr. Bush who was knocking. It was Styles.
Frowning, Horatio stood up. "What is it, Styles?"
"Sir, Mr. Bush's respects, we've sighted David's Star to the southwest." Styles replied.
Horatio's eyes widened and he quickly followed Styles out of his quarters and out onto the main deck, where Lt. Bush stood, motioning to their immediate southwest. Sure enough, it was indeed David's Star.
"I thought you'd want to see this, sir." Bush informed him.
Seeing the look on his face, Horatio sighed, realization suddenly dawning on him. "Did you know they were coming?"
William's gaze drifted to the deck for a moment. "Yes sir."
"This is why you've been delaying our return to England." Horatio stated, not sounding happy about it.
Bush slowly nodded.
"They're signaling sir!" Matthews announced, interrupting what would have been an argument. "They say they have a British crewman who needs to be transferred off their ship, and they want you, Mr. Bush, Mr. Hobbs, Styles and myself to come aboard."
Horatio frowned, confused. "A British crewman?" He questioned, turning to his First Lieutenant. "Do you know anything about this?"
"No sir." William responded honestly. Indeed, he knew nothing about a transfer of anyone. As far as he knew, Archie was not to be returning with them, so the crewman couldn't be him.
Horatio sighed. "Very well." He finally answered. "Prepare the jollyboat."
"Aye sir." Styles responded.
On the deck of David's Star, the men from the Retribution were helped aboard.
"I apologize fer surprisin' ye like this." Captain Richards declared, noticing the confusion on Horatio's face. "Our orders are ta return ta Florida, an' we canna keep an extra man on board when we return."
Horatio raised an eyebrow, casting a sideways glance at Mr. Bush. "Not all of us were surprised, it seems."
Richards sighed. "No." He returned apologetically. "Davey sent word to yer First Lieutenant that we would be lookin' for ye. We asked him not ta tell ye for another reason." Then the Captain changed the subject. "Mr. Matthews and Mr. Styles, the men wanted ta see ye before we left. Mr. Hobbs, I believe Hannah would like ta see ye."
Surprised, Hobbs turned to look where Richards had indicated. Indeed, Hannah was standing on the Quarter deck. Nodding, he climbed up to join her.
"You two come wi' me." Richards finished, leading Will and Horatio down a staircase.
As they followed, Horatio realized they were being lead toward the sick berth. No. It couldn't possibly be . . . They had said they couldn't change it. All this was going through his mind, as Richards opened the door to the sick berth. Once inside, Horatio's heart-rate quickened. Could it possibly be? Was this the reason they had stalled his return?
From a curtained area, a man appeared. Horatio's heart sank in disappointment. It was Dr. Sebastian. Although, he had not seen the old doctor in a couple years, he couldn't keep the disappointment from showing in his face.
"Horatio, can I see you a second before you take Dr. Sebastian with you?" Katryn called from the doorway to her quarters.
Sighing, Horatio nodded and entered her room, missing completely the looks exchanged by the old doctor and Lt. Bush.
"You look like someone shot your dog." Katryn commented, once they were closed inside her room. "Is it that disappointing to see him here?"
Blinking, Horatio shook his head. "No." He replied, distantly. "I was - " he couldn't go on.
"You were hoping for someone else." She finished.
"I brought you in here because I wanted to apologize."
He frowned. "About what?"
"For lying to you." She answered. "True, it wasn't completely a lie, but there were reasons we couldn't tell you."
Horatio stared at her. What was she saying?
"You had to believe he had died or no one else would have." Katryn went on.
"And we would have told you before we left Kingston, but we had to make sure he'd survive the surgery."
"What are you saying?" He asked in a whisper.
"Mr. Bush knew what we were doing because he overheard it." Katryn went on. "We asked him to stall you because we needed the time to see if Archie would survive the surgery."
"Then he is alive?"
Katryn smiled. "Yes. He woke up only a couple hours ago." She explained. "We kept him in a comatose state for a week to start the healing process. Commodore Pellew oversaw the switch at the prison, but he couldn't tell you because we didn't want to raise your hopes until we were sure he'd live."
"Will he live?"
"I believe he will." Katryn answered, nodding. "But if you want to ask him yourself how he's doing, he's out there in the curtained off corner. We've been giving him blood transfusions, to replace the blood he's lost, and due to clotting we had to thin his blood, so if he looks like he's bleeding a lot, it's normal. I'm only telling you this so you won't be surprised when you see him hooked up to a bag of blood."
Horatio couldn't believe what he was hearing. Archie was alive! They had managed to save him! But then he frowned in confusion, remembering the signaled message. "Your message said you had one crewman to transfer." He remarked. If the crewman was Dr. Sebastian, what would happen with Archie?
"I'll let Archie explain that part." Katryn answered after a minute. "I believe he's been asking to see you, and nearly jumped out of his bed when he was told we'd found you. I don't think it's fair to let him wait any longer."
Horatio was out the door in a moment, rushing over to where Katryn had told him he'd find his friend.
Katryn stood at her doorway, shaking her head with a smile, as Horatio disappeared behind the curtain.
Dr. Sebastian had pulled Lt. Bush off to the side, where he was obviously describing how the doctors had managed to save his friend's life. William watched as Horatio came out the door and ran to the curtained off area. Somehow, he knew he would be forgiven for deceiving the Captain. He too was anxious to see Archie, but he would wait his turn. It was enough at the moment to know he was alright.
Archie had grown tired of waiting. It drove him crazy to know Horatio was in the room, but he couldn't see him. However, he also knew Katryn had to tell him why they hadn't told him the truth first. After what seemed to Archie like eternity, Horatio strode out of Katryn's room and rushed over to the corner.
The look on his friend's face when he saw Archie sitting up, waiting for him somehow made all the waiting worth it.
"I knew they would find you." Archie spoke up, quietly. His throat had not completely stopped hurting yet, so he continued to speak softer than normal. The ice was helping, but the rawness would take a while to heal up.
Horatio seemed to be completely speechless. He was slightly taken aback at the IV's and monitoring devices that kept track of Archie's vital signs.
"Was this the plan from the beginning?" Horatio finally managed to ask.
Archie nodded. "I wanted to tell you." He told his friend, earnestly. "But Katryn forbid it. You had to believe I was dead."
Archie gave a half smile. "H'ratio, you're the model of a perfect Officer." He remarked, pointedly. "But you're a lousy actor. If you thought for one second I was alive, no one else would believe I wasn't."
Horatio sighed, realizing his friend was right.
"Besides, they told me I only had half a chance anyway." Archie went on. "As it was, they almost lost me twice from what I'm told. The surgery was so bad, they made Dr. Sebastian leave the room."
"They almost lost you?" Horatio questioned, concerned. Had it been that bad even for such advanced medical practices as the crew of David's Star possessed?
"Meaning my heart apparently came close to stopping twice during the operation." Archie translated. "Then they had to crack open my chest and that was when Katryn made Dr. Sebastian leave the room . . . or so Dr. Sebastian has told me."
Horatio wordlessly sat down in the chair beside his friend's bed. They had cracked open Archie's chest? He couldn't even imagine doing such a thing to a living person. "So back when Katryn came aboard the ship to see you . . ." He trailed off, shakily.
"She came because this had to be my own choice." Archie informed him. "They couldn't save me and take me away without first asking me what I wanted."
Horatio's face froze. "Take you away?" No! He couldn't mean such a thing!
Archie sighed. This was the part he had dreaded. "According to History, I died in Kingston." He told his friend. "The only way they could save me was to take me at the moment I would have died. I cannot go back to England with you. If they find me alive, they will hang me. I have to go back with David's Star to Florida as part of their crew."
Horatio shook his head in denial. That Archie should be saved, only to be taken away again was too much to bear.
Archie laid his hand on Horatio's arm, gripping it. "Please understand this, if nothing else." He pleaded. "If I had died, I knew I would never have seen you or anyone else again, yet if I let them save me, I faced the same thing. But either way, you would have had to live without me. Tell me truthfully. Which option would you have advised, had I been able to tell you?"
Horatio closed his eyes in defeat. "I would have wanted you to live." He replied, after a moment. "Even if I never saw you again, I would still have wanted you to live."
Archie nodded. "I know."
"Although I would prefer you to be alive and happy." Horatio commented. "What are you going to do there?"
Archie shrugged. "Honestly, I don't know." He answered. "Katryn said I would have to start my life over. There was so much I'd wanted and never could do."
Horatio gave a thoughtful smile. "You could always be an actor."
Archie gave a laugh. "True." He admitted. "Although for what it's worth, I did eventually come to enjoy the Navy and being at sea. Now that I finally have my own choice, I find I don't know what to do with the rest of my life."
"You could also get married or something." Horatio suggested.
Archie shrugged. "Perhaps."
"There is just one thing." Horatio spoke up.
Archie raised an eyebrow.
"If there is some way. If it could be done . . . could you somehow get word back here?" Horatio requested. "I would like to know you're all right at the very least."
"You have my word, if there is a way, I will get word to you somehow." Archie promised.
Horatio nodded and reached out to shake Archie's hand.
Archie took the hand and pulled his friend in for a hug. "I shall definitely miss you, my friend." He confessed, with a sigh.
"As will I; you." Horatio managed to respond, swallowing a lump in his throat.
Archie grinned. "Now stand aside so I can bid farewell to the others before we go our separate ways." He remarked, laughing.
Horatio smiled and nodded. "I'll send in Will."
"H'ratio?" Archie spoke up before his friend could leave through the curtain.
"What is it?"
"You wouldn't by any chance know what became of my sea-chest would you?" Archie asked, pointedly.
Horatio smiled. "I most certainly would." He replied. "We were taking it back to England to your family. I'll see to it that we somehow manage to lose it."
Archie nodded. "Thank you. Katryn has told me that my entire collection of gold sovereigns is worth a fortune in their time."
Horatio stared in amazement.
"And you wouldn't believe what my books are worth!"
"Well, I suppose that means you'll have something to live on." Horatio commented, shaking his head, as he left.
Archie watched after him, with a grin. He was going to miss his friend; that was certain . . . but it helped that he had this chance to see him at least. Somehow, whatever the future held Archie knew he would be ready for it, and perhaps as Conrad had mentioned, they would someday return to this time.
When William opened the curtain, Archie motioned for him to take a seat.
As Horatio stepped out on deck, he frowned at the sight that met his eyes. Hannah was hugging Hobbs, and the man was smiling for the first time Horatio had ever seen him.
"She wanted to thank him for bringing her back here." A voice spoke up from behind Horatio.
Horatio turned seeing another young woman he had not yet met. "I'm Allyssa Marsden." She informed him. "Katryn told me all about you. But don't worry; I didn't believe all of it."
Horatio sighed, knowing she was only teasing. "You were the Medical Student on the radio when Dr. Casse called for Hannah." He remembered, shaking her hand. Allyssa had not been in the sick berth when Horatio and the others had come to deliver Hannah's effects from David's Star to Renown. Katryn had mentioned that she was on duty in the mess at that time.
"Yeah, that would be me." She answered. "I'm here for some extra experience in the field, and it looks good for my teachers if I get a good recommendation here."
Allyssa watched his face. "Are you worried about your friend?"
Horatio turned back. "Some." He confessed.
"He'll be okay." Allyssa informed him. "Katryn's already said she'll help him out until he gets settled in."
Horatio nodded. Somehow he'd already known that Archie would not be set out on his own. Knowing this set Horatio more at ease. Then again, he also knew Archie. Yes, Archie would be fine. After all he had been through and survived . . . he would continue to survive somehow.
(Author's note): The term "Scut-Puppy" as being a slang term for "Medical Student" is from an Episode of ER in about 4th Season, I believe. When Dr. Carter got his first Med Student to train. The quote used was that this was his very own "Scut-Puppy." My sis and I thought it funny so it was incorporated into this story, and in case anyone is wondering, Allyssa Marsden is created after Lucy Knight. Despite the dark hair, her appearance as will be shown in my David's Star 2 drawings, not finished yet, will also resemble Kelly Martin.
As for Hannah White Eagle, she is created after a very special nurse who was one of the funniest characters I've gotten to know in books. Hannah was not only modeled after but named after Ms. Hannah Palemoon in the book series, Left Behind. (if you're curious she comes into the story during "The Indwelling" and remains in all the books that follow it and is one of the funniest characters in the series)