"Given how many of my friends feel that way, I could almost start to take offence." She leaned over to give him a salutary kiss on the cheek. "Hello. How are you this morning?"
"Perfect," he assured her, although his attempt to sound as though there were nothing at all wrong with him managed to do nothing for the paleness of his face. "I could run a marathon, honest."
"Right now I doubt you could run to the door." Sitting on the edge of his bed, Hope leaned over to kiss his other cheek. "You could do with a shave."
"It's a little difficult at the moment," he told her, and she shot him a mock-despairing look.
"I'm sure somebody else would be happy to help out. I could do it myself if you like."
"You? With a razor?" He shook his head. "I don't think so. Help me out here, John. A couple of day's stubble is cool, right?"
"I guess." John shrugged, smiling across at his old friend. "I'm not really the guy to ask."
"Some help you are." Bo let loose with an impressively sorrowful sigh. "What I really need is to get out of here. I wanted to dig a tunnel, but they tell me that's impossible on the fifth floor. I think that's just unfair."
"Should be possible," offered John, sounding as though he rather liked the idea. Marlena rolled her eyes.
"At this rate they're going to be pulling up the floor tiles by lunchtime. You--" She directed her first glare at John, "are supposed to be at a board meeting, and you--" The second glare was for Bo, "are supposed to be demonstrating to me that you're fit to go home. Just at the moment I'm not convinced."
"Kayla said the same thing." Bo heaved another sigh, although not quite as dramatic as the last. "I've been here for days, Marlena. Days and days and--"
"It's about a day and a half," Hope told him, and he frowned.
"Are you sure?"
"Quite." She held up her watch, in order to point out the date to him. "You see?"
"Oh." He leaned back against his pillows, and stared morosely at the far walls. "Feels like longer. The walls are starting to close in, Fancy Face. Honest. If I don't get out of here soon, I'll be needing Marlena as a psychiatrist rather than as a medical doctor."
"If I have to listen to much more of your complaining, I'm going to need a psychiatrist." Hope stood up, giving him a quick kiss on the top of the head. "Fortunately for me, I'm due at the office. I have to meet with a whole lot of politicians about the mess that Serena Colville caused. You see? There are worse places to be than hospital."
"I don't know. Right now I think I could almost enjoy a meeting with politicians." He frowned, clearly rethinking that statement. "On the other hand, maybe you're right."
"Just look after yourself until I can get back." She caught the nearest of his hands, giving it a quick squeeze. "And stay in bed. I wasn't joking about the handcuffs, you know."
"I can believe it." He smiled up at her. "Drive carefully."
"I always do." Sharing a smile with Marlena and John, she left, her footsteps fading almost as soon as the door swung shut behind her. Bo sighed again.
"At this rate I won't have anybody to talk to soon. How about giving that board meeting a miss, John? We could plan our tunnel."
"Don't tempt him," said Marlena immediately. John grinned.
"Sorry, partner. No can do. It's an Alamain thing. Video conferencing with Lawrence, and a whole lot of arguing about the percentage of our profits that are going into charity work. I've got my work cut out for most of the rest of the day." He looked at his watch. "I'd much rather be digging tunnels, though."
"I can believe that." Bo smirked. "And there was I thinking I was hard done by. Do give my love to Lawrence, won't you."
"Now why do I get the impression that you don't really mean that?" John grinned. "I'll see you later, partner. Don't go giving the nurses a hard time."
"As if I would." Bo held up a hand in farewell, and John turned to leave. As soon as he was gone, Bo turned forlorn eyes to Marlena.
"I suppose you're going as well now," he said, in the grumbly tone of voice of a small boy. She laughed.
"You're terrible, you really are. You actually come close to being a worse patient than John, and that's saying something."
"Hey, I learned from the best." He smiled, the expression sobering slightly after a moment. "So how is everything in the big bad world outside? Hope's being a little tight-lipped about everything. I think she figures I'll jump right out of bed, or something like that."
"There's not a lot that you could do if you did." She shrugged. "Everything's pretty much back to normal now. Aside from the clean-up operation of course. That will be going on for a long time yet. The police have rounded up most of the troublemakers now. There were a lot of witnesses who came forward once everything quietened down."
"Most of the troublemakers meaning everybody except Victor and Stefano," said Bo, and she nodded.
"I'm afraid so. Roman can't wait to get started on this new mission with Shane. He says that anything must be better than tearing his hair out trying to pin something on those two." She looked a little jaded, her expression showing just how very familiar she was with that particular situation. "Has he stopped by yet today? He did say that he wanted to see you before he left."
"He's due pretty soon. His plane leaves at noon, so I guess I'll see him in the next couple of hours." Bo looked instinctively at his wrist, then sighed when he saw that his watch wasn't there. "They steal everything in here, you know."
"It's in your locker, where it belongs." She favoured him with one of her stern doctor's glares, and he laughed.
"You've had a lot of practice with that look, I can tell."
"Just a little." She smiled down at him, her expression softening. "Anyway, enough about what the big bad world is like at the moment. How are you? And the truth, Bo. There's no John to play tough guy in front of now, and no Hope to put on false cheer for. How are you really feeling?"
"Stiff." He shrugged, then winced. "Ow. That sort of thing doesn't help. I don't know, Marlena. I've been shot before, and this doesn't feel so bad. I know I got lucky, and it wasn't a bad injury. It does hurt, though. I think I must have lost quite a lot of blood, also. I have to admit, I was feeling pretty woozy for a while there."
"You did leave rather a lot of blood along the bank of that stream," she told him, and he smiled ruefully.
"Sure felt like I did. I'm a lot better now, though. I guess I need rest. I'm not fool enough to pretend otherwise. I just don't feel like I can relax so well here. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm sure I'd be better off back home, with the kids hollering, and climbing all over me."
"It doesn't sound crazy." She laid a fond hand on his shoulder. "I know exactly what you mean. I've been in a fair few hospitals in my time, remember. Sometimes they're the best places to be, but nothing quite beats being at home. And I suppose we always feel better when our children are around, don't we."
"So I can go home, then?" he asked, immediately looking hopeful. She laughed.
"I didn't say that. Look, I'm not really your doctor. I just offered to do a basic assessment, since I can also take your mental wellbeing into account. You're going to have to go through a proper assessment from your actual doctor before you can get an official release."
"No fair." He tried to look imploring, and she could not help but laugh again.
"I'll talk it over with... it's Tim who's looking after you, isn't it?" She picked up the board that hung on the end of his bed, reading through it carefully. "You are coming along nicely, I have to admit. There's no reason why your stay should be a protracted one. If you are allowed to go home, you're going to have to promise to take it easy, though. Really take it easy. No suddenly running off to solve crimes or save the world, or any of that sort of thing."
"I'll be good." He held up one hand in a cub scout salute, and she swatted it back down again with a smile.
"I have almost as hard a time believing you as I would John. I know you too well."
"I guess you do." He relaxed back against his pillows, some of his fatigue beginning to show. "How about you, Marlena? How are you after everything that happened?"
"Oh, I'm fine. I wasn't hurt at all. Just tired. I wish that John would take things easy for a while, though. His arm is still a mess, and his shoulder is horribly bruised. Still, trying to get him to sit still is a losing battle, unless I can spend the time to stay with him." She sighed, rolling her eyes. "And now Tony is starting to get fidgety as well."
"He can't go home yet, surely?" asked Bo. Marlena shook her head.
"No, it'll be some while before they let him out. He seems fine, aside from being very tired a lot of the time. There are still tests to do, though, and we have to make sure that there's no hidden damage. There certainly doesn't seem to be, but you can't take risks with head injuries. Not that it's easy telling him that."
"I thought he liked being lazy," said Bo, and she nodded.
"He does. At home, in a nice, comfortable chair, with a glass of expensive wine. None of which he's allowed right now. The nurses have already caught EJ smuggling him food twice. Nothing that he's actually allowed to eat, needless to say."
"Tell them to divert him my way next time," said Bo with a grin, and she laughed.
"Oh no you don't. You're not having any of that sort of thing either. Not until you're well clear of this place." She looked at her watch. "And now I have to be going as well. I'm sorry, Bo."
"Patients?" he asked, and she nodded.
"Just a couple this morning. I'll drop back at lunchtime, if you like."
"Thanks. Hope brought me a couple of books earlier, but it gets pretty quiet in here on my own." He gave her a quick wave with his good arm as she headed for the door. "I appreciate the visit, Marlena."
"I know. Believe me, I know what it's like to be stuck in here." She stopped at the door, smiling back at him warmly. "Now rest. The more rested you look, the more chance you have of convincing everybody that you can go home. You're still looking a little pale."
"I guess I could stand to sleep for a bit." He closed his eyes, trying to relax. "Just don't go letting anybody do anything too exciting while I'm stuck on light duties. I should hate to miss any fun."
"Oh, don't you worry about that." She opened the door, leaning on it as she turned back to bid him farewell. "After the trouble that we've had lately, it'll be a long time before any of us has another adventure. I can assure you that I am very determined about that."