The Doctor leaned over the Brigadier, where he lay sleeping upon the bed before him, and smiled. The Silurian plague had been a killer, and one which the Brigadier had only survived due to the mercies of a strong constitution and the fact that the Doctor had managed to find a cure in time, but his brush with the alien bacterium had left him in a significantly weakened state and in need of further medical attention. The Doctor had taken him aboard the TARDIS to rest whilst he recovered, and so that he could keep an eye on his most dear friend.
He was sleeping now the Doctor observed, and although he was without a doubt that the Brigadier was still very unwell he was quietly confident that he was over the worst. When only a few days before he'd seemed to have been so close to death it now looked as though, given time, he was going to make a full recovery, and the Doctor couldn't have been more relieved.
He now reproached himself for being so angry with the Brigadier for blowing up the Silurian stronghold, for he had almost been blindsided to the first stages of the contagions manifestation – such an ignorance which could have cost his friend his life – and looking back over the past few days he realised that he couldn't entirely blame the humans for being fearful of a race which had tried to wipe out their entire species.
The Doctor's mistake had been in making the assumption that because the Brigadier's body had been doing such a good job of holding off the effects of the infection for the first few days that he wasn't a carrier of the Silurian plague. The anti-biotics had probably helped him to stave off the initial effects of the bacterium, and thereby lulling them all into a false sense of who was most at risk of contracting the full blown strain of the disease, but the injections had only been a temporary solution to the epidemic. The Brigadier it had later transpired had not received a second dose of the anti-biotic after the first couple of days, and this had left his own immune system unable to cope with the growing infection as it spread its poison rapidly throughout his body. By the time the Doctor realised what was happening to his friend there was little more he could do than pump him full of a broad-spectrum anti-biotic and regular, measured doses, of the established cure for the plague, and hope for the best.
When Liz Shaw had entered the infirmary to check on the Brigadier just a few hours after he'd gone down with the disease and succumb to the infectious poison which was now being spread through septic blood to every organ in his body the only honest response he could give to her questioning was; "He's fighting Liz, he's fighting" and fight the Brigadier had. He'd shown he was strong not just in body but in spirit, and that he had courage beyond the battlefield. His pulse had raced, his temperature sored, his skin oozed, and every vital organ at some stage had been in danger of failing, but still the Brigadier had failed to give up his fragile hold on life.
The Brigadier's blisters had since healed nicely, and all but a few had almost completely cleared up now the Doctor observed as he inspected the sleeping man's skin. There were still a few however which remained, oozing blood and infection, and the Brigadier's right arm remained tightly bandaged in a bid to try and ease some of the pain caused by the seeping lesions.
The fact of the matter was that his body was now clear of the disease, but he needed time to recover from its effect, and time recovery would in this case take, but the Doctor was well aware that the Brigadier was not going to like having rest enforced upon him.
As he put an ear to his shallow moving chest to check his breathing and reached for one limp wrist to check his pulse Liz knocked and entered carrying a metal try upon which were several vials of medication and a hypodermic syringe. She placed the tray down on a table beside the Brigadier's bed and looked down at her friend.
"How's he doing?" She asked.
"A little better I think." The Doctor responded, and she smiled as she filled the syringe with several millilitres of medication, before handing it to the Time Lord. The Doctor accepted it from her, and added a small amount of medication from each of the remaining vials to create a medicinal cocktail he hoped might aid the Brigadier's recovery. Liz watched as he flicked the bubbles from the anti-biotic solution, and then as he turned to her to give her a look she was used to receiving from him by now. His eyes still twinkled warmly, but now their steely stare held her attention, and despite the smile which curled the corners of his thin lips she realised that it was his way of asking for some space. She smoothed the Brigadier's hair flat against his forehead and smiled.
"I'll leave you to it then." She dismissed herself as he turned to leave, and the Doctor reached out to squeeze her hand affectionately.
"I'll be back at the lab if you need anything." She whispered in his ear as she left, squeezing his wrinkled wrist in return. "Let me know if there's any change."
She slipped out quietly and once she had gone the Doctor gently released the button securing the Brigadier's sleeve cuff and rolled the soft cotton arm of his pyjamas up to his shoulder. He rubbed the fleshiest part of the man's arm with a cotton swab of anti-septic and as he did the Brigadier stirred and opened his eyes, looking up at the Doctor through a tired but still keenly alert gaze.
"Sorry Alistair, did I wake you?" The Doctor asked kindly, using the Brigadier's rarely used Christian name and surprised to see the man awake and even more so alert despite the frail condition he was still in, but the corners of the Brigadier's mouth turned upwards in a weak smile as he made an effort to shake his head.
"No, you're alright Doctor." He explained in a voice almost as weak as he looked. "I wasn't asleep."
The Doctor looked down at the syringe in his hand.
"I need to give you this I'm afraid." He explained, holding up the hypodermic in front of the Brigadier for him to see and squirting some of the liquid out of the top of the needle.
"I'm not afraid of a needle Doctor, if that's what you're concerned about." The Brigadier wheezed, and there was no trace of fear or apprehension upon his face, only mild curiosity as he asked. "What is it?"
"Broad-spectrum anti-biotic," The Doctor explained, "and I want to continue to give you small measured doses of the anti-dote to the plague bacterium, just to be sure that the disease is completely out of your system."
The Brigadier watched as the sharp point of the needle pierced his skin and emptied its contents into the muscle, although he didn't flinch or show any sign of discomfort despite the fact that the Doctor realised that the process must have been uncomfortable for him in his condition at best, and possibly even painful. He then placed the now empty hypodermic back down upon the metal tray and rolled the Brigadier's sleeve back down before fastening it again at his wrist. He took a moment to double check the Brigadier's pulse before gently placing his arm beneath the blankets and covering the man over again. The Brigadier gave him a defiant look however as the Doctor perched himself on the edge of the bed, and as he withdrew his hand from beneath the blankets covering him the Doctor chuckled temperately.
"Still holding on to that stubborn streak of yours then, hey Brigadier?" He asked with a smile.
"I'm not quite dead yet Doctor," The man declared, "and whilst there is a single ounce of strength left within me I will not be mollycoddled."
"Perhaps," The Doctor considered mildly, "but you do need to take it easy Brigadier, you'll be vulnerable to secondary infection for a while yet and I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous that would be at this stage in your recovery."
"Rest?" The Brigadier exclaimed, although his vociferations, which the Doctor suspected were intended as a demonstration of his authority, came out more as a wet rattle which set his chest heaving with the effort of drawing breath. "But I can't just lie around here waiting to get better, I have a job to do. I have a department to run!" He coughed.
"My dear Brigadier," The Doctor smiled. "I'm afraid if you tried you would find yourself too weak to get out of bed, let alone return to your duties, but I'd love to see you try. Now, let's take a look at this arm."
The Doctor then set about carefully unravelling the Brigadier's bandages, and prising the dressings away from his bloodied arm. The Brigadier flinched and grimaced despite his obvious attempt to conceal his discomfort this time however, and the Doctor immediately ceased, looking down at him with concern in his eyes. Presently he withdrew a second hypodermic and injected a small amount of morphine into the Brigadier's shoulder.
"There, that should help with the pain." He smiled, and the Brigadier held his gaze gratefully. The Doctor waited a while, giving the medication enough time to take effect before finishing prising away the last of his friend's blood stained dressings from the oozing sores beneath.
The Brigadier observed his mangled arm, the flesh cracked and oozing blood and yellow puss, with a mixture of repulsion and lingering pain – he may have won his initial fight against the disease, but he was an intelligent man and was well aware that he was now in significant danger of the infection spreading to his blood. A few of the other surviving plague victims had already lost their lives in this way.
"So what's the verdict Doctor?" The Brigadier asked as he watched the Doctor patiently tend to his remaining blisters, cleaning the open wounds as best he could before applying an anti-septic solution and re-applying the sterile dressings and layers of bandages. When he'd finished taking great care to make sure that his friend's dressings were comfortable he looked down at him and sighed.
"Well your lungs still sound a little congested," He offered in explanation, "but clearer than they were, so you're likely to find breathing a little easier now. Your blood-pressure's up, and your temperatures down, but you've still got a long way to go. You're not out of the woods yet. You know there was a time only a few days ago when I thought we might have lost you."
"You should know by now that it will take more than a few alien germs to finish me off Doctor." The Brigadier forced a smile, but the Time Lord could see through the man's façade to the cold actuality expertly concealed behind his hard exterior. He could see through the man's smile to the pain in his eyes, and knew that he was still suffering a great deal more than he was letting on.
"I would hope that I'm made of stronger stuff than that." The Brigadier spoke from behind his one un-bandaged hand as he stifled a yawn.
The Doctor leaned over him as he inspected the dark circles within the bright blue irises of the man's tired looking eyes, and realised that he must be exhausted. "If you were not you would already be dead." He acquiesced with the merest hint of a small grin curling the corners of his lips. "Make sure that you get some rest, you only have a couple of hours before your next dose of medicine."
"I thought you said you weren't that kind of Doctor." The Brigadier laughed, as the Doctor got stiffly to his feet.
"Brigadier, I am every kind of Doctor." The Doctor smiled.