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Out of Practice

Posted on Wed Oct 2nd, 2019 @ 9:45pm by Lieutenant Joshua Miller M.D. & Lieutenant Benjamin Armstrong PhD

Mission: Reaching Out in Hope
Location: Sickbay | U.S.S. Sentinel
Timeline: MD6 | 1325 Hrs

“Just let me know if your ear infection flares up again.” Josh patted Petty Officer Grant on the arm and discharged him. As he was making a few notes in the Engineer’s medical file, the doors opened and Ben Armstrong came in, cradling his right hand. Josh set the PADD to one side and immediately moved to the Science Officer’s side. “What happened?”

Armstrong winced as Josh gently took the injured hand and began to visually examine it. “I was working on a research project with my team. Went to get up, tripped and fell badly on my wrist. I think it’s sprained.”

“Why don’t you sit up on a biobed and let’s see if you’re right.” Josh told him. From the look of it, the wrist was more than sprained but he would need to scan it in order to confirm that. As Ben hopped up on the nearest biobed, Josh moved off to retrieve a medical tricorder.

The atmosphere in Sickbay had turned decidedly awkward. The pair hadn’t spoken since their surprise blind date had ended badly several nights ago. Josh could feel Ben watching him, those deep brown eyes trained on him, but he didn’t look up, deciding instead to focus on the screen of his tricorder. “Looks like it’s broken.”

Finally, he forced himself to look up and, sure enough, he was met by a pair of brown eyes that he could quite easily lose himself in. Josh could feel the heat rising in his face. “I’ll just grab an osteo-regenerator, and have you fixed up in no time.”

As Josh moved to retrieve the device, he was stopped when Ben reached out his good hand and gently wrapped his fingers around Josh’s arm. “Are we really not going to talk about what happened?” Armstrong asked softly.

“I don’t know what to say.” Josh told him after a few seconds pause.

Ben chuckled. “Ellie was right, you’re really not very good at this.”

“No, I’m really not.” Josh replied. What he’d wanted to say was that ‘it had been a long time since he’d met someone that he genuinely liked’ but the Chief Medical Officer was too shy to admit that just yet. “Why don’t I take care of your wrist and then we can talk.”

Ben nodded and let go of Josh’s arm. The medical officer moved off to retrieve the osteo-regenerator and returned moments later. “Hold your hand out for me.” Armstrong complied and Josh pointed the osteo-regenerator at the Science Officer’s wrist. Activating the device, a blue beam emanated from the device. Slowly, he moved it back and forwards, allowing the device to repair the bone.

“When was the last time you dated someone?” Armstrong asked after a few seconds of silence.

Josh glanced up and in embarrassment answered, “About five years ago.”

“Wow. It's no wonder you're out of practice.” Armstrong watched the medical officer work in silence for a few moments. Breaking the silence again, “I enjoyed that hour or so we spent on Deep Space Nine.” He paused for a second to let that sink in. “I’d like to spend more time with you. Maybe see where things go?”

Both of them knew that there was no guarantee of anything beyond friendship developing if they spent more time together. Josh also knew that if there were to be a chance of anything, that his priorities would have to change and that he would have to open himself up, make room in his life for someone else and expose himself to the chance of getting hurt. That was a scary prospect after such a long time on his own.

Josh smiled and met Ben’s brown eyes once again. “I’d like that.” Feeling the heat rising in his face again, Josh returned focus to his work and deactivated the osteo-regenerator. “There we go. Good as new.”

He returned the osteo-regenerator to the equipment tray as Ben gingerly began bending his wrist back and forward. “It’ll be a little tight for a few days but other than that you shouldn’t suffer any more pain.” On his way back to the biobed, Josh swung by one of the glass jars filled with lollipops that he’d dotted around Sickbay. Upon returning to Ben’s side, he held the wrapped candy up. At the confused look on Ben’s face, Josh told him, “See the Doctor, get a lollipop.”

“Why Doctor Miller, this your way of keeping me sweet?” Ben asked flirtatiously as he accepted the lollipop and jumped down off the biobed. They were standing only a few inches from each other.

With a confidence that he didn’t feel and a flirtatiousness that was uncharacteristic of him, Josh replied, “Maybe it’s my way of telling you that I’m sweet on you.”

They slowly moved closer together, so lost in each other that neither of them heard the door behind them open. Doctor Bennett walked in, reading a PADD. “Hey Josh, can I…” She trailed up as she looked up and instantly realised what was happening. “Oh," after a brief moment of awkwardness she added, "I’ll come back.”

With both of their faces quickly turning red, Ben slipped past Josh and announced, “I was just leaving.”

Josh was kicking himself for a lack of professionalism in that moment. That didn’t stop him spinning around and calling after the Science Officer, “I…” He struggled for a few seconds before coming up with a weak, “I’ll see you around.”

“Yes, you will.” Ben replied with a smile before turning and leaving Sickbay.

Josh stood staring at the door with a dopey smile on his face until he was brought back to reality by Ellie snapping her fingers in front of his face. “What?”

“So, you and Ben are…” Ellie began, with a grin on her face.

She was quickly cut off. “It’s not what you think.” He told her as he retrieved the medical tricorder from the biobed that Ben had been sitting on and returned it to the equipment tray.

“I think if it hadn’t been for me walking in when I did, you two would be making out right now.” Ellie replied, her grin widening.

They both knew that she was right so there was no point in denying it. Josh did spend a few second trying to come up with an alternative explanation before deciding that that ship had sailed. “Okay,” he began, “it is what you think.” Leading her into his office he told her, “We’re just going to spend some time together and see where it goes. Okay?”

“Okay.” Her grin didn’t falter.

Josh sighed and quickly changed the subject. “What did you need?”

“A second opinion.” Bennett told him, holding out a PADD.

He took the PADD and began to study the data contained within. “Let’s see what you got.”


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