He awoke in a strange room, beeping machines all around him. There was some kind of mask on him, slowly hissing out oxygen. His eyes were heavy, probably due to whatever pain killers they were pumping into him. He looked up and saw the sterile white ceiling of a hospital room three and a half meters above him. He turned his eyes slightly to the side and saw a white coat, some hospital worker, he decided. He looked the other way and saw several machines that made weird noises and were rather entertaining to someone as doped up as he was at that point.

He itched in a spot that was rather awkward and tried to reach down to scratch, only to find his arms and legs were lashed to the bed. He tried opening his mouth and speaking, but found that dry mouth had struck again. “Oh, you’re awake Captain, so good.” A female voice said to him, a slightly lilting Irish accent to the voice. He cursed his brain for trying to identify what region of Ireland she was specifically from, that not being nearly as important as the itch. “Water.” He finally managed to force out past lips that were as dry as a desert camel’s ass. She leaned across him and he felt her body against his, her rather nicely sized breasts rubbing against his chest. “Oh my, Captain, you may want to stand at ease.” She said, he took a moment in his drug induced haze to realize what she was talking about.

Too high to be embarrassed he simply smiled instead as she brought up a water bottle and put the straw in his mouth. He suddenly realised his right leg hurt terribly, a fire like none he’d ever felt before. Then he remembered the terrible truth, his leg was gone. Then the even worse realization, she was gone. He fought to free himself from this bed, as if his getting up could somehow change the truth.

He fought against the restraints and the tears for what seemed like hours, but were in actuality only minutes. He finally ceased to struggle as his energy died away, laying exhausted as the nurse injected more sedative into his IV tube. He tried to protest, but before he could the medicine hit him and he was gone. He dreamed strange dreams as he slept. She was there, then his exwife, then so many friends and comrades who’d fallen or left.

He awoke gasping for air, the Irish Nurse now being replaced by a middleaged Asian man with a short trim mustache. “I’m Dr. Han, how are you doing today, Captain?” He asked, his tone clinical, sterile, cold, detached. “I’d be better if I wasn’t bloody well restrained.” He said hotly. Dr. Han smiled, he’d heard that one before apparently. “We must restrain you for your own protection, please try and understand.” He made a note on his medipad. “Well, could you at least do me a favor and scratch an itch for me?” Sebastian asked. Dr. Han gave him a look that said simply: You want the Irish Nurse for that, not me. He smiled and walked away.

Sebastian cursed him and all the doctors in the human race as he left. Suddenly her voice was there, that Irish lilt, but he didn’t hear her with his ears. “I know where the itch is. I’m finding something to scratch it with.” He heard her voice in his head. “You’re a telepath, what are you doing here?” He asked, thinking instead of speaking. “I am a councilor, I am here to try and help you move on and become a stable person again.” She ‘said’. He grinned despite himself. “Stable? What the Hell is stable about a man who’s lost a leg and so much more?” He thought with as much irony as he could. “Be a smart ass and no scratch. I’m going to make sure you are well, that means being with you for as long as it takes.” She replied. Her thought voice revealing how serious she was, as well as how seriously she took her job. “You are going to go through physical rehabilitation, then psychological, the end goal to bring you back to being a productive member of society, and, with luck, a safe return to duty.” He wondered why she cared, then figured it was her job to act like she did. The thoughts that went through his mind were, suggestive, to say the least. “At ease.” Her voice said in his ear. He gulped, wondering why she had been assigned to his case, then decided not to care as she gently sang to him. It was an old song, a song his first unit had used as their theme. “Gary Owen” was wonderous when she sang it, the drugs helped too.