“Magnum, are you still alive?”
Thomas Magnum jolted rudely awake by the blinding ceiling lights and blinked blearily at the blonde woman standing beside his bed. “Higgins?”
Juliet Higgins leant down over him, peering at his eyes as if assessing him. “You’ve a concussion. I’m making sure you don’t die in your sleep.”
He rolled over, pulling the sheets up over his chest, and burrowing his face into the pillow. “Didn’t know you cared. Now go away.”
“Concussions aren’t something to play with magnum. They can be quite fatal. And I’m afraid you don’t have the brain cells to spare.”
“Are you calling me dumb?” He rolled back over, dark brown eyes glaring at her. “And I don’t have a concussion. Why do you think I have a concussion?"
“How many fingers am I holding up?” Higgins held up four fingers a foot away from his face, ignoring his question.
He ignored hers. “Did Katsumoto call you?”
“Follow my finger.” She waved back and forth in front of him. He rolled his eyes then obeyed, focusing on tracking her finger with his eyes and not on how much his head hurt.
“I don’t have concussion. I know what a concussion feels like. It’s all good, Higgy. You can’t stop the Nurse Ratchet routine.”
She sighed and pulled back from him, standing up. “Forgive me for caring.”
“You’re forgiven. Now go away. I want to sleep. I have a date with Katsumoto in the morning. I need my beauty sleep.” He rolled onto his stomach and pulled the pillow over his head.
Through the pillow, what Higgins said next was too muffled for him to hear. So like a lot of her nagging, he ignored it.
The lights flicked on, waking him instantly. “What is it now?
“I just need to check that none of your five brain cells have experienced sudden anoxia.”
He sat up, looking at her, confused. “You want to check if my brain is anorexic? Cute jammies by the way.”
“Anoxia is when cells are starved of oxygen, in the case of concussions, due to the blood and other fluids floating free in the brain.” Higgins explained as she sat on his bed, ignoring his jibe about her matching silk pale blue pyjama shirt and pants. She waved her pointer finger back and fourth in front of him, looking disappointedly and pointedly at him until he sighed and obeyed her directions, his eyes tracking her finger with exaggerated movements.
“Look, Higgins, I’m grateful you care enough to check on me, and five months ago you would have been very happy to watch the ambulance drive away with my dead corpse –“
“I would not have.”
“You hated me.”
“Hate is a strong word.” She stopped moving her finger and ran her hand through her short blonde curls. “Your brain appears to be functioning as adequately as normal. For now.”
“My point is,”Magnum continued, ignoring her interruption. “Is that I appreciate you being nice because I know it’s very hard for you, being British and not-hating me and all, but please just let me sleep. I’m tired. I spent too many hours hiking through muddy trails. My head hurts and I just want to sleep.”
“Enough to die in your sleep?” She raised an eyebrow at him.
He nodded solemnly. “Right now, yes.”
“Fine.” She stood up, brushing imagery dirt off her pants. “I’ll tell Rick to give a moving eulogy. And TC to buy the biggest flowers he can find."
“You do that.”
She left. He went back to sleep.
This time, the creak of the door woke him before the lights were turned on. “Please, Higgins, for the love of God, go away.”
“Shan’t.” He could see the dark outline of her arm raise to turn on the lights. “Believe it or not, I don’t actually want you to die.”
“Please, don’t turn on the lights.”
“It hurts?” Higgins lowered her arm and padded softly over to him, close enough he could see the concerned expression on her face.
Sometimes, he was shocked that she used to be a spy because when she wasn’t being the ice queen bane of his existence, he could read her like a book. “Yes. But not because I’m concussed –“
“But because you’re a vampire?” Her smile gleaned in the moonlight coming through the ceiling to floor windows behind him. “I should have suspected it sooner. The sleeping during the day, the parasitic behaviour, the unhealthy amount of red meat you eat –“
“Funny Higgins. If one of us would be a vampire, it’s you.”
“How so?” She cocked her head at him.
“You like way old things, like things that our generation shouldn’t like, you’re paler than snow white, you talk like a Victorian lady and –“
“That’s just because I’m English.”
“No, it’s because you’re a vampire. It actually explains so much.”
She sighed but she was still smiling. “You do know that light sensitivity is a sign of a concussion, right?”
“Yes, Higgins, I do know that. I don’t have a concussion though. You don’t need to worry.”
“One of needs to worry.”
“It’s a plan then.” He grinned up at her. “You worry and I’ll sleep.”
“I’ll worry and wake you in an hour so you don’t die on me, how about that?” She walked slowly out of the room, giving him one last concerned but slightly amused look before leaving.
“Good night Higgins.” He didn’t bother arguing with her. It would just be more time wasted not sleeping. And, god, he wanted to sleep.
“Are you dead?”
“No, I’m not even sleeping because some annoying Florence Nightingale wannabe keeps waking me up.” Magnum sighed, lying flat on his back looking at the bamboo ceiling fan slowly rotate above him It was making him dizzy but he was hoping in vain it would make him sleepy. It wasn’t one of his best plans but at 3 am, no one made their best plans.
“Florence Nightingale was an interesting woman. I’d say read about her but we both know you don’t read.” Higgins said through a yawn. He felt the mattress dip as she sat on the edge of the bed. “Come on then, follow the finger.”
“Do I get a lollipop, Nurse Higgins?” He sat up and obeyed, his eyes tracking her finger as it moved back and forth.
“No, you eat far too much sugar.” She yawned again. “Sorry.”
“Awww, you tired Higgy? You should go to sleep.” He pulled some exaggerated expressions and moved his eyes in deliberately erratic movements to annoy her.
She rolled her eyes at him and leant back from him, regarding him with one of her patented ‘Magnum, you’re an idiot’ expressions. “Unfortunately, I can’t. I’ve got a stubborn idiot to keep alive.”
“You love me really.” He grinned that grin that had made many a woman blush and bite their lip at him.
Higgins stood up, immune, as always, to his charms. “I’ll see you in an hour.”
“I hate you though.”
“Sleep tight Magnum. Don’t let that lonely brain cell die.” She closed the door behind her.
He mumbled into his pillow.
“Yes, I know you hate me but this is for your own good.”
He hugged the pillow tighter and buried his face in his pillow, refusing to acknowledge her.
She pulled the pillow out from under his head and threw it on the floor.
Higgins huffed irritably, blowing a stray curl out of her face. “Magnum, I’ve had even less sleep than you. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
“You’re the one making it hard. I’m fine.” He turned his head, deigning to speak with her. “I don’t have a concussion. I have a hard head.” Magnum opened an eye to squint up at her, seeing the moonlit ghost of a delighted smile. “Don’t make a pun of that.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Her smile grew wider. “Tonight. Tomorrow, well today, really, is another story.”
“What does that finger thing do anyway?”
“I don’t know really. They always did it on Casualty and ER so I figured it must do something.”
He rolled over, staring at her, incredulous. “What?”
She shrugged nonchalantly. “Young George Clooney was fit. My mum and I watched it a lot.”
“No, that I get, he’s a fox.” Magnum sat up, still staring at her. “But you and your finger have been tormenting me for hours based on a TV show?”
“Well, you wouldn’t let me call a doctor.”
“You didn’t ask!”
“You would have said no.”
He would have. They both knew that. “Besides the point.”
“Anyway,” Higgins cut him off before he could start a monologue blaming her for trying to help him. He knew she had good intentions but he really didn’t like her methods. “I assume it has to do with the attention needed to focus on a single moving point. If you can’t do that, you’re pretty brain damaged.”
“Or you just wanted to play Doctors and Patients with me.” He folded his arms behind his head, showing off his well-toned arms. “You could have just asked, Higgy.”
She closed her eyes and sighs heavily. “Magnum.”
“I have a stethoscope around here somewhere.”
“Ugh.” She threw her hands up and her face twisted in disgust.” I don’t even want to know where that thing has been. I’m leaving now.”
“Please don’t come back.”
When Magnum woke up next, his head pounding and his mouth drier than the desert he’d been stuck in for six months, he was alone. He groaned and rolled over, his arm swiping at the water bottle he kept by his bed.
Taking a sip, he looked at his watch.
It was quarter past five.
Higgins had missed her hourly check in.
He sat up quickly, then regretted the sudden movement as it caused his head to pound even more. He looked around the room, thinking that maybe she was hiding somewhere and going to scare him as some sort of test of his reaction time in case his non-existent concussion had affected it.
But that was a Magnum thing to do. Not a Higgins thing.
As mean as she was to him, she wasn’t that mean. Unless he’d made her angry, which he hadn’t. Or he couldn’t remember if he had. She was very good at telling him when he had.
Magnum pulled open his bedside table, pulled out some aspirin and swallowed a couple of tablets with some water. It was good practice for a PI as talented at finding trouble as he was to have a well-stocked medicinal cabinet within arm’s reach of his bed. He’d used it more times than Higgins or his friends needed to know about.
He got up slowly, tugging on a shirt he’d thrown on the end of the bed. With all the other clothes strewn around on the floor, he realised Higgins must have been very concerned about him if she’d not nagged him about the state of his room.
Then he walked out into his living area and realised that she would have been a hypocrite. The coffee table and surrounding floor area was covered in phone parts, various chargers, screwdrivers and technology things he knew he wasn’t allowed to touch.
It looked like a bomb had gone off.
Next to it was Higgins. She was fast asleep, her laptop resting on her stomach and her arm dangling off the edge of the sofa, inches away from where her phone was vibrating with an alarm.
He padded slowly over to the sofa, navigating the minefield of pointy objects on the floor and picked up her phone to turn it off. Magnum lifted the laptop off her and put it and the phone on the table next to the victim’s phone she’d obviously spent the night trying to crack open.
“If you break that, you realise you’ll be paying for a new one in blood.”
“Good morning Higgy.” He sat on the other side of the sofa. “Did you sleep well? Because I didn’t. I had this annoying bird waking me up every hour like a deranged cuckoo clock.”
“You’re welcome for making sure you didn’t die.” She rolled onto her side, hand on hip. “You could be a little more grateful.”
“Do you want an another ‘attagirl’?”
“No, Magnum. I couldn’t possibly ask so much of you.” Sarcasm dripped like poisoned honey.
“Fine then.” He stood up “Breakfast?”
Higgins looked confused. “You’re offering to cook me breakfast?”
“Yeah.” He walked over to the kitchen, asking over his shoulder, “Is that better than an ‘attagirl.”
“Depends on if I get food poisoning or not.”