Alexander Myers stared into the face of a small, black and white rabbit and was not swayed by the twitching nose or the soft, floppy ears.
"This thermometer is going in," he informed the bunny. "And I don't mean your mouth."
The rabbit stared back at Alex impassively, not impressed in the least. Alex glanced up at the elderly woman who was stroking the rabbit's fur with a withered hand. "I'll try to hold him," she said in a quavering voice. "But sometimes he kicks."
Alex smiled at her. "I can do it." And with one swift move, he pinned the rabbit to the table and inserted the thermometer.
The rabbit did indeed give one strong kick before pretending that its life had ended and going limp on the table. Alex snorted. "You're fine," he told it, waiting for the thermometer to beep.
The rabbit did not respond, preferring instead to play dead, so Alex shrugged and watched the digital display on the thermometer. It eventually beeped and he withdrew it, jotting the animal's temp down on the chart.
"Is it high?" the woman asked, like they always did. "Can you tell what's wrong?"
"A little high," Alex admitted. "The doctor can tell you more. He'll be right in." He cleaned the thermometer and deposited it back in the drawer before making a hasty exit. Patients always thought Alex knew more than he did, just because he was the first one they saw before the doctor. He really wasn't sure how weighing an animal and taking its temperature could be good indicators that he knew what was wrong with their pets, but they always asked him anyway.
The thing was, he usually did have an idea what was wrong with them. But not for the reasons the clients thought.
Alex shook his head and closed the door to the exam room. He thumbed over his shoulder at the door and handed off the chart to Dr. Morrison. "Why does she keep coming into the emergency clinic when she knows that rabbit will be fine until morning?"
The on-duty vet shrugged and studied the paperwork Alex had handed him. "Maybe she doesn't know. Or maybe she just wants company."
"Yeah, maybe." Alex returned to his position at the front desk and pulled his textbooks toward him again, hoping to get through one whole chapter of Clinical Radiology on Birds of Prey before another frantic client came through the doors of the emergency clinic.
It wasn't that he didn't love his job, because he did. Working as a front-desk clerk slash vet tech at the local animal emergency clinic allowed him both the experience that he needed and time with animals he loved, not to mention time to take his beginning courses at veterinary school. The hours at the clinic kind of sucked, since they were only open during the times when regular veterinary offices and hospitals were closed, but he was single and used to it.
He'd been fortunate to find a school that offered its beginning courses online before switching to the classroom, so Alex spent most of his days off either sleeping, studying, or glued to his laptop computer in order to finish his latest assignment. He wasn't quite sure what he was going to do when the time came to switch over to the classroom, but since it was still a year away, Alex figured he'd cross that bridge when he came to it.
The front door made the soft electronic beep that signaled another client and Alex shoved his textbook away. It wasn't even midnight and they'd been busier than usual, so studying was probably out of the question.
"Bleeding," the young girl gasped. "My puppy. Bleeding. There was wood and a nail and bleeding."
Alex shoved back his rolling chair and came around the counter to get a better look. The puppy was indeed bleeding, although not as profusely as the girl's frantic demeanor seemed to indicate.
Hurt hurt hungry thirsty hurt came forward in waves from the small dog, probably a mixed-breed puppy about four months old.
"I know," Alex murmured back to it, taking the animal from the girl. "You can have a drink when we're done with you."