Healthy as a Flying Horse

July 04, 2018:

Claire Temple gives Luke Cage an exam to make sure he's ready to get back out into the fray.

Danny Rand's Kitchen

The Gramercy Park flophouse for the Defenders. And there's food.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Danny Rand, Jessica Jones

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

First: The phone call with Jessica's phone. There were only a few seconds where she had to hold the phone out at arm's length to deal with the volume of the rapid fire Spanish being launched in her direction. But give Soledad Temple credit - once it's clear her daughter is okay, the guilt trip may cut deep, but it's delivered swiftly before turning to admonitions to do the things she's neglected for the last few days. Basic human functions and what not. So the magic app phone (Seriously - Morgan Freeman's voice, Jess?) is returned, traded for clothing, and the nurse disappeared into the guest room to scrub life, death, and everything in between off of herself.

After the shower? Just a quick nap. That's the logic going through Claire's head when she sits down on the bed in one of the myriad guest rooms. Not even a nap. Just going to close her eyes a second. She'll just reach out and set an alarm and … no phone. It's going to take days of getting used to, but it's not going to start now. Now she's just going to check the pillow. Make sure it's comfortable. For later. After she's gone out again. Hours from … zzzzz.

Unfortunately, it does turn out to be more nap than the deep half day or more of sleep that she really needs. Two things shake her out of the too short sleep - her own coughing fit and the nightmare born from this latest even more excessive than usual violence. It's one thing to see it in the ER. Heck, to see it in her living room. To see it everywhere at once is going to take some dealing with.

So after a few false starts (Did Danny even know he has a music room? Danny has a music room. And so far she counts 13 closets and seven bathrooms…), there's a brunette in the kitchen wearing Jess' clothing, but wrong build. Wrong body language. The same tired resignation, but not as sharp. Bonus, at least, there's water on to boil (couldn't find a kettle). And she's only guzzled down most of a pitcher of water so far. And just about anything in the fridge or pantry that has vitamin C is on a counter.


Luke made sure everyone was set up in their various rooms in a way befitting one who fears the wrath of a certain butler. After that, he stuck around because then it's the wrath of a certain detective he doesn't want to tempt. He promised he'd stay at Rand's and not head back out there until he was cleared by Claire. That doesn't mean he's idle when he waits. A few phone calls to make himself, he went back up on the rooftop terrace but there's heavy footsteps plodding down the grand well of stairs and head to the front door. In the distance there's an exchange of voices, only the low murmur of which can be heard from the kitchen and then the door closes and mechanically locks again.

Soon the big man is joining Claire in the kitchen, plopping down a heavy sounding neon orange emergency bag on the counter that Claire might recognize as an EMT field kit. "I come bearing gifts."


Most people would also come to fear the wrath of a certain nurse, if only because the medical professionals are typically the ones with the needles. Funny how the bulletproof can escape that fear!

Claire looks up from the sound of footsteps, just missing Luke on his way to the door. But at least that mean she has time to get a second mug out of the dishwasher. That's one thing she could find in the cavernnous kitchen.

Usually Luke Cage would be one of the more eyecatching things to come into a room, but the bright orange color gets attention first. "I think this is the first time a patient showed up with their own gear. Well. In a non creepy way." Claire abandons a half peeled tangerine in favor of going to rummage through a few of her favorite things. "How did you get this at this hour?"


"I…don't think I want to know what the creepy way is." Luke leans a hip against the counter, arms folding over his chest as he tries to look casual about being called a patient. At least he doesn't rebuke her on that point this time around, albeit begrudgingly, thanks to Jones. "I know a guy that runs a rig out of the HHC." The Harlem Hospital Center. "He owed me a solid because I got his baby brother out of a jam, so he loaded it up and ran it by after his shift. Figured you might need it, if a bunch of Danny's friends start trickling in from the Kitchen while you're here."


His mention of not wanting to know the creepy way drags her focus from her bag to the giver. Claire's lips curl into a smirk. "You only think you know how strange this city can get if you haven't worked third shift in the ER on the weekend," she answers, leaving out the elaborations he doesn't want to know and she doesn't want to think about. At least it's a momentary distraction from all the bleak corners of her current mental landscape.

A few items are pulled out, the better to get to work. "Spirometer - have to get one of those for the next few weeks," she mumbles to herself. "HHC. I've rotated there once or twice during the holidays." Once she has the things she wants for the exam, she heads for the sink to wash her hands. There's comfort in falling into the routines - in forgetting that her new exam room is a bazillionaire's kitchen instead of her tiny living room. "I had about half a dozen of these stashed around the Kitchen and one in Harlem, but … thank you. It's making me feel really bad about forgetting your name."


"You'd be surprised." The Man Mountain rumbles about seeing strange things. It's a simple statement that runs deep when his eyes shift away to focus on some random spot on a cabinet. Eyebrows tick up as he pulls himself back to the conversation. "Luke. No harm, no foul. Things were kinda crazy when you came in. On a flying horse." He reminds her, like she'd forget that particular experience. "Make a list of what you need, and I'll see what I can do. We'll all see what we can do." Luke promises. After all, it's the least they can pull off for the woman who's helping them and with Rand's connections (and his money) no doubt she could have a full ER set up in Danny's foyer if she wanted it bad enough. Warily, he eyes the stuff she's laying out on the counter.


"Luke." There's a pause after the name, making sure it sticks in her memory. Her eyes half close when it's quickly followed by the horse reminder. That's a city girl, land-lubber shudder that goes down her spine at the memory. Of course the memory is probably mostly burying her face against Dani's back and not looking down. "Alright. Some of the strange stuff comes when people get you to do house calls, too. Hey, your friend that got you the bag? I've got him covered for lunches this month at the Cafe." The Cafe that has a real name, the one that mom manages. Her ease with the geography suggests she's more than a little familiar with Harlem.

Now for the bag's contents. The good news? So far there's nothing too alarming looking coming out of the bag. The not so good news? She's going to put him to work again. "Can you get a big bowl and some bendy straws? Danny has to have some of those around here." Or for Kennis, but Kennis is still a mystery. For her part? She's getting one last thing out - a big two liter bottle from the fridge. Which gets unceremoniously emptied down the sink.


There's a nod about hooking up the EMT with lunch, a vague agreement that Luke will pass along the message. "Bendy straws." Luke deadpans, "Are we throwing a birthday party?" He pushes off his lean though, to fetch what she requested. The man seems utterly familiar with the kitchen, even though it's Emery's domain. He's spent plenty of time here since his bar burned down, and no doubt there were plenty of late night snacks eaten why the butler was at his other place of employment. He spins a big plastic bowl out on the counter from the depths of one cabinet, kept in the back among the less respectable serving ware that no doubt needs to be polished before it's used. Then he's going into the pantry where the paper goods are kept and comes back with a cardboard box of pink bendy straws.

"You known Jess long?" He asks casually, though no doubt he's feeling her out for what she may or may not know about those staying in the house. Claire saw Luke stop a vehicle, but what does she really know about /him/?


Claire Temple takes the time that he's gathering to fill the bottle with water. Then the bowl gets filled about halfway. Both are set at the counter in front of a stool. She gestures him towards the seat, sadly lacking in panache and come on down fanfare. The lady's still exhausted. Before they get to the science experiment, she'll start with more standard fare - pulse, checking the pupils. "Well, we could probably do something similar with birthday candles. With this many folks in the house it has to be someone's birthday. But for now, you have to be patient." She pops the stethoscope around her neck, nodding towards his chest. "I get dibs on the nosy questions. But I'll start easy. Did you have any symptoms before the explosion?"


Luke settles into a seat at the counter, the furniture making a sound of protest at the weight but it holds. As she nods towards his chest, he grabs the hem of his t-shirt and elbows it off above his head, leaving it a wad close at hand. For a man that was in and out of burning and crumbling buildings, there's not a mark on him. No burn, or gash, or even scrape for all his troubles. "Healthy as a flying horse." Maybe he's needling about that. Just maybe. There's a shrug, "I'm doing this just to make Jones happy. The coughing was worse right after, but it's calmed down. Just a tickle in my throat now."


Thank goodness for clinical detachment and loyalty to one's friends. There's one blink but then Claire's back to business. The purple gloves are put on before she listens for heartbeat and breathing. Then it's on to examining for tenderness on the torso and abdomen. Nice to meet you, now just pretend to be a slab of beef for a few minutes. "Tell me if you feel any pain. And a flying horse probably looks batshit crazy to a vet exam. I'm guessing hollow bones at least." She's fairly deadpan with the joking back.

"I'm a fan of people doing things to make Jones happy. You get points. But the points are doubled if you're not an idiot. Which means actual answers." The questions roll out during the examination -

"Have you had bronchitis, asthma, other long annoying coughs before?"
"How many alcoholic drinks do you have in a typical week? Any recreational drug use in the past? The present? Current medications and past?"
"Other medical conditions?"
"What kind of work do you do? Any hobbies that might expose you to anything unusual?"

And the touchy stuff, at least asked with genuine eye contact and a tone that's expertly balanced between compassionate and professional - not maudlin, but still a freaking human being. "Any history of breathing difficulty or respiratory illness in the family?"

There's one or two more, but that will be when it gets into the dehydration check.


Look presses his lips together into a thin line and gives his flat look of 'Nurse, please' when she talks about getting actual answers to her questions. If Jess trusts Claire, that means he's going to have to as well, but it's not like he goes into full disclosure mode. "I don't do drugs, I drink more than I should, but not around Jess. Not often to excess, but I've been on a few benders in my life." The listen to his heart reveals a nice strong beat and no hiccups in its rhythm. As far as work, "I own a bar, and soon I'll be managing the building it's attached too - we haven't had our grand reopening since it burned down. So, that answers your question about previous coughs conditions. I had smoke inhalation then too, but it cleared up on its own. I, uh, tend to do that faster than most."

His lungs don't sound too horrible, but there is the tale end of some raspiness to it and if she looks down his throat she'll see the remnants of a scorched throat that's healing. "When I said I was healthy as horse, I meant it. I don't get colds or the flu. Haven't had a fever in something like eight years now. My mom," He sighs and drags the web of his forefinger and thumb down over his mouth and down his goatee. "Died of breast cancer. Don't know about my dad, we've lost touch." The word 'touch' is over pronounced like it leaves a bad taste in his mouth.

The remaining question is more touchy. "As far as 'hobbies' go, let's just say I run into trouble instead of away from it."


Look at her Not Very Shocked face when he gives her the Look. Look at her Not Very Shocked face when he says that he heals faster than others. "Not doing drugs will help - the drinking shouldn't impact too much, though you should cut back for a few weeks," she says as she takes reaches over for that face grooming hand of his and turns it over. She pinches the skin on the back of his hand and checks how long it takes to return to its normal position - probably longer than usual if he's dehydrated. "I'd usually take blood and urine to check for dehydration, but it's almost a given after the last few days. We can do that later." Or at least one of the two. Good luck with that blood draw, Temple.

With the basic checks done for the moment, she takes a seat at the next stool to /listen./ Not to the heartbeat or lungs. To the person. When he finishes? Yeah, there's empathy in her expression. And more questions. "So on top of everything, I'm going to say you have some high stress levels. I'm sorry - the bar, your mom." His dad, but that tone goes a long way. "It's a lot. As for the hobbies, well, I seem to have landed at the house of "Oh Look, there's Trouble, my old friend. I should go say hi."

"At least you're saying healthy as a horse and not a dragon," she murmurs, glancing up at his face when she says that. Lips twitch again before she goes on. "You mentoned eight years ago. That brings up other past exposures to anything unusual - chemicals." A pause and pained pinch of the forehead. "Unusual radiations. Strange, I don't know, glowing rocks or cosmic forces. Hell, make out with a Norse God's goat at a frat party?" Yeah, there's some exasperation in her tone there as she jerks a hand up in a 'what will you' gesture.


Luke succumbs to her will when it comes to the pinching of his hand, but it's pulled (albeit gently) away when she starts saying things like urine and blood samples and being sorry for his family and the bar. "I'm fine." He reiterates, and those arms fold of his bare chest once again, warding off the evil nurse lady who keeps asking questions. "People don't become people like us," He glances upward to indicate the house, "Without things like dragons." Perhaps he's talking metaphorically. "Just what /do/ you know?"


"You're dehydrated and you probably have mild abrasions in your lungs and throat that are still healing. You're recovering fast, you might be able to run the Triple Crown, but you're not fine. Besides. I'm more worried about what Jessica would do if I half-assed this exam than I am about …" Claire gestures to the arm folding, defensive posture. "I'd like to hook you up with some fluids for a few hours. It will help with the dehydration. And take advantage of Danny's sauna rooms after you've been out there. Long showers, lots of steam. Plenty of water and electrolytes."

She slips off the gloves and stashes them next to the tongue depressant - things to go in the trash. "What do I know? I know that with my apartment gone, Hell's Kitchen is out it's unofficial clinic for patients with … unique phsyical attributes" She makes her own glance upwards to indicate the house. "I know that when I read about Danny Rand's interests in supporting mutants, Jess revealed a secret life of billionaire buddies and hooked me up with a meeting and I got a job with him." She positions the straw so that the short end is pointed away from Luke and bent up before handing it over to him. "And then he threw himself after a car going into the river. See? Trouble, old buddy."

She scoots closer so that she can get the bottle of water ready to upend into the bowl. "Somewhere along the way, all the trouble you guys go running into? The runners started showing up at my door. I'm the one that tells them they SHOULD go to the hospital, but I end up helping them anyway. And I'm someone that knows I owe you a thank you for more than this very, very sexy med kit. But I owe you my life seems a bit heavy for a first talk, you know? I was going to slide that in right before I left."


Not really the answer he wants to hear, yet he knows that Claire finding out about him - and what he is capable of - is inevitable, given she wants to do a full work up for Jess and he agreed to it because of the same.

Doesn't mean he can't have a little fun in the mean time.

"Do what you gotta do, I might not like it, but it beats the alternative." Of having to deal with Jones fallout, or wanting to disappoint her in any way. Claire playing that card worked like a charm. Luke takes the straw and starts spinning it between his fingers while he waits for instructions on what to do with it, exactly. "I don't need thanks. I got the kit because you're helping /us/ and as for back there…" His wide shoulders shrug.


Claire Temple takes out that super high tech medical device - a marker - and uncaps it before putting it next to the bowl. "Yeah. I never need thanks either. But sometimes people need to give it," she says. There's a brief pause before she adds, "So suck it up and be glad I'm just going to tell you to blow into a straw rather than try to jab you and draw blood." She unscrews the bottle top and upends it so the neck is under the water. "Put the end of the straw in the bottle, take a deep breath, then put your mouth on the straw and blow out until you've exhaled everything in your lungs."


Luke smiles for the first time since this little encounter, showing a row of pearly white teeth in a grin that's just a little too cheesy. "Now that'd be a sight." He does bend over with the straw though, and maneuvers it into the open mouth of the bottle. He takes a deep breath through his nose and then exhales. Hard. It's not like one of his superpowers is creating a gale force winds, but with his enhanced strength, he's able to squeeze his diaphragm and chest muscles in such a way that if Claire isn't holding onto that bottle tight, it's going to pop right out of her hands. Or possible burst and give her the second shower of the day.


She's a distractable creature, especially when she's not really thinking 'potential air pressure damage'. "What would be a sight?" There's only one hand on the bottle when she reaches for the marker in preparation to mark the change in water level. So yeah, they're both going to be wearing the latest in pipe burst couture when the bottle pops. Claire blinks. Several times. There's a bit of a cat trying to look dignified and I meant to do that. A bit of incredulity. And then both hands going up in a whatever the EF was that? look. "I… alright, without having a base line, I'm going to have to guess that it's okay." The hands start jerking as she tries to shake water from them. "So. How long can I convince you to stay here before going back out there to help? Or better question. How long can Jones convince you to stay?"


The exploding bottle just causes Luke to laugh, a deep belly sounding thing that lights up his somber face. As the chuckle is dying away, he's leaning to snag a kitchen towel and offer it to Claire with a toss before picking up his shirt and just mopping his chest and face with it. "If you say I'm good to go, I'll do the steam room, and drink buckets of water if you want me to. The rest is kind of impossible. But I need to get back out there, and start shaking down some leads about who was responsible for this. I can't let the trail go cold."


Claire accepts the towel and starts patting herself dry, hints of that affronted dignity still on display what with the belly laughing. It lasts whole seconds before she begins laughing herself. It's not that deep belly laugh, though. It's the exhausted laughter that threatens to turn and turn quickly. She can feel it in her chest, the heaving that wants to become tears. The nurse pushes up to her feet and heads back towards the refrigerator and throwing open the freezer. No excuse to look for something there, just the blast of billionaire ice. And no, she's not looking for brownies.

Shoulders hunch forward and she doesn't say anything for a minute. Just keeps up that borderline laughter while she quietly reaches down and pinches her own hard, trying to balance it all out. She takes a few deep breaths when she starts to come down. Which sets off the coughing fits, which .. yeah. It's another good minute before she can answer, eyes red and voice newly raw.

"You're not quite good to go. Do that first - take a few hours rest and hydrating. Steady hydration - not all at once. Think of it this way. If you go out there now, what happens if you're in the middle of shaking down a lead and you pass out in front of the people you're shaking? It's not going to help your case. I'll check you again in a few hours. See if you can get signed out." Once she's started an IV line in the living room. Hopefully Danny has some good movies to stream.


Luke takes his damp shirt and shakes it out, flipping it until it's right side out before he tugs it back down over his head. Random wet splotches are on it, but they'll dry quickly enough and no sense in dirtying another shirt. "So long as during those couple hours, you take your own advice." That's his way of agreeing he can put his work off a little longer, if only to ensure it doesn't go down like she said it might. Last thing he needs to do is pass out in some back alley, even if he thinks the chances are slim. "You alright?" He asks before he vacates.


An eyebrow goes up when he asks that. She opens her mouth to try and say something reassuring, but ends up answering with the truth. That whole simple, complicated, "No." But it comes with a sad smile before she walks over and pats him once on the back. "Take some water and some fruit back with you. Vitamin C - though you might want to get vitamins instead of the fruit after this until your throat is finished healing. Go rest. I'm going to clean up and then get some more rest. And, you know again. Thank you."

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