Littlest Big Man
I do not own Star Ocean: Till the End of Time or House
This story is a parody. Please do not try to make any sense of it.
Damn. Too much sweat. Too much heat. Too much pain. Why did it always have to be this way? Why couldn't his life be more simple? He should've been a farmer. No, they had to work too damn hard. They lost fingers and legs and shit all the time. He'd already lost his allotment of limbs in this life time--at least he hoped so. Maybe a teacher? They seemed to have it pretty easy. He could yell at people, threaten to kill them if they failed his classes. Yes. That seemed like an idea.
Too bad he hadn't thought of that back in med school.
Dr. Albel Nox grimaced as he squatted behind a tall pillar of rocks. He wasn't sure if the red haze he saw was from the heat of the Lava cave, or from the pain shooting through his lower abdominal muscles.
Crap. He smiled at the irony, then remembered how pissed off he was. He just wanted to get home. He could see the door of his abode peeking out through the waves of heat, hidden slightly behind a grouping of stalagmites. So close, yet so damn friggen far. His stomach lurched again, driving the point home.
That stupid, sneaky, demented, diabolical, heartless, good for nothing, red-headed Hyacinth. This was her fault. Another wave of agony rolled through his gut in agreement. Nox braced his hands on the warm stone and waited for it to pass. When it did, he thought up another stream of vivid adjectives to express his ire.
Wiping a cold sweat from his brow, he sighed heavily. He should've known better than to eat suspicious food left sitting on his desk. But how was he to know it wasn't one of his cronies lunches? It wouldn't surprise him if they tried to kill him with poison. Well, not the thug or the blue-haired dimwit. They were too stupid to think up something this clever. The other one however…It hadn't been her. He was sure of it. Not after the way the other militant harpy wench saw him off with a bright smile and cheerful, "See you tomorrow, Nox." He should've known something was up then.
Nel Zelpher was going to pay. Some how, some way, he would take her dignity and scruples and skip through the mud with them. Then smother her with a pillow while she slept at night.
Nox managed to smile through his grimace. Oh yes. He would make her feel his pain one hundred fold. Lessons needed to be taught, and poking a serpent with a thorny stick was one way to get bitten. That thought gave him enough strength to pull himself up from his rocky privy and stumble the rest of his way to the door of his sanctuary.
Almost to safety, his beeper went off.
Hand frozen over the door handle, Nox swore and dug through his pockets. He found his beeper, glanced at the message, and almost tossed it into the closest pool of lava.
"It took you long enough to get here," Mirage Koas said as she swooped in on him the minute he staggered though the hospital door. "Why are you walking like that?"
Nox glared at her. It was impossible to stand up straight. He felt like someone had tried to snap him in half over their knee. "My dog got to excited. Decided to make a woman out of me."
Koas frowned. "You have a dog? I didn't know you even liked dogs."
Nox made his way to his office, using his good hand and the wall to stabilize his steps. "Yeah, with a lot of spices and a little sauce," he muttered. He glanced at the director and rolled his eyes. Her frown was so deep it almost folded her face inside itself. Neat trick. "Never mind," he growled. "What's so important about this patient that it couldn't wait until tomorrow?" Or the next day, or the day after that.
"His life is important, Nox. That's why. And you are a doctor," she said.
Nox grunted. "What's one less human in the world," he said.
"He's not human."
"Do I look like a veterinarian?" Nox snarled as he peered through the large glass wall that separated the noisy hallway from the patient's room.
"He's not an animal either, doctor," minion number two replied, running a girly-boy hand through his girly blue hair. Recently promoted minion number one nodded in agreement, his ham hands tucked under his arm pits.
Nox studied his newest charge. The…boy…was small, probably not even four feet tall. His body was compact, like someone stepping on an upright tin can. Large, wolfish, ears drooped from his head and a fluffy tail protruded from the backside of his gaping hospital gown. "Says who," he said, watching the tail wag as one of the buxom nurses bent over the check the dog-boy's vitals.
Minion number two thumbed through his clipboard. "He's a Menodix, sir. His home is in Surferio, which is part of the Sanmite Republic."
"I know where it is. When did we start letting freaks into our hospital?" He turned and looked at Dr. Leingod. "Forget I asked," he sighed, leaving the short twit standing with a puzzled look on his face.
Dr. Fittir pulled the clipboard from Leingod's hand. His apish face was twisted in a Neanderthal frown. "I'm with the Doc on this one. This kid's measurements just don't add up." He winked at Nox.
Minion two snatched the clipboard back. "That's exactly why he's here," he snapped.
Minion one raised his brows. "Because he wants to be a woman?"
Nox ground his teeth. "I'm going to my office. Don't follow me."
Nox opened the glass doors of his office and shuffled to his desk. His stomach was doing weird flip flops, but at least the lancing pain had stopped. The half gallon of Peptol Dismal…er…Bismol he drank at home was obviously working. But he'd regret it in the morning. He made a mental note to eat a lot of fiber today.
From his coat he produced a white bag. Glancing at the two doofuses that had followed him, he discretely slipped it into his desk drawer.
Leingod was still rambling on. "And so he ended up here. He seems to be shrinking at a rate of 2.343897234350--27375 centimeters per day."
"What?" both Nox and Fittir said at the same time.
"2.2349739653974200387393693 centimeters per day. Shrinking. Not good," the blue haired doctor said again, scowling at them.
"But the number just changed," Nox pointed out, sliding into his leather chair.
Leingod sighed. "If you divide the number by pi, then add the speed of light, divide that by the polarity of the sun and multiply by .97936..."
"What the hell does that have to do with anything?"
Fittir snatched the clipboard from Leingod's hands. "You moron. That's the interest rate in your bank account." He was quiet a minute. "Damn, you need to find a new lender. You're getting screwed."
Nox took a moment to reflect on the other candidates that had applied to be his cronies. The legally blind schizophrenic was beginning to look like a better choice. Running a hand through his hair, he sighed (for the billionth time today) and said, "So the brat is shrinking. We need to find out why."
"Or just make him bigger so he stops bitching about it," Fittir replied, chuckling at something no one else seemed to find funny.
Nox stared at him. The blond doctor stopped laughing. "What? Are you trying to pick a fight or something?"
Nox shook his head. "No. I'm just astounded something so brilliant could come out of your mouth."
"But you haven't even talked to the patient yet! You haven't even seen him!" cried Dr. Leingod.
Nox swung his head around and leveled his lackey with a glare. "I saw him," he stated.
"Through the window."
Blue brows shot up. "Doctor, it's not my place to remind you that last week you had twelve complaints brought up against you."
Nox narrowed his eyes and stood violently. He swooped the laser pointer from his desk and snapped the light on. Leingod made a girly screech as the bright red light blasted his eyes. "You're right. I'm below average lately. We've got to fix that." With that, he dropped the pointer on his desk and strode out of the room.
Dr. Fittir rushed to his companion's side. "You okay?"
Leingod shook his head and rubbed his blind eyes. "Did…did he just agree with me?"
They both stared out the open door for a long moment. Finally, Fittir shook his head. "No one can say for sure, Fayt. But don't get your hopes up."
Nox marched into the Administrative offices and found Dr. Koas' door closed. No big deal. Not missing a stride he kicked it open with a shiny loafer and let himself inside. Mirage Koas looked up from a stack of paper work, peering at him over a pair of the ugliest Groucho Marx glasses he'd ever seen. Startled, he gave an eep of shock and recoiled.
"What the hell is on your face?" Koas removed the glasses slowly, folding them neatly and tucking them away in a drawer. Her face held that creepy serenity that always sent a tingle of wariness through his arms. Evil had a way of hiding itself in beautiful places--he could think of another red haired example…
NO! He couldn't!
Nox shook his head furiously.
"Doctor Nox. What brings you to my office today?" Koas said as she looked over his shoulder. "I don't see an entourage of angry patients or Miss Zelpher trailing after you and I'm certain you didn't just stop by to say hello."
Nox glared at her. Spooky wench. "I need to use your phone," he stated.
Koas raised her brows. "You have a phone, don't you?" She thumbed back over her calendar. "You're privileges were reinstated a week ago."
"My office might as well be Grand Central Station. I need to make a private call." Koas stared at him for a long moment. So long that Nox began to imagine her head suddenly spinning around, corn yellow hair flying about like a pinwheel, and a demonic voice ordering him to "Get Out". It wouldn't surprise him one bit. Scare the shit out him--yes. Shock him--no.
"What kind of private call?" she asked.
"It wouldn't be private if I told you, would it?" he growled.
"True," Koas said, going back to her paper work. "Go use the payphone."
Nox blinked. "What?"
Koas sighed. She opened her drawer and Nox took a step back. A large burlap bag came out and she rummaged around inside for awhile. A second later, she flipped a shiny coin in his direction. "The payphone. Use it."
Staring at the coin in his hand Nox frowned. "I can't use the payphone."
He thought for a minute. There really wasn't any reason why he couldn't, except the fact that he didn't want to. "Because I need to make two calls." A second coin rocketed by his head and embedded itself in the wall behind him. Okay, he could take a hint.
The payphone was dirty, grungy thing. Blue gum was stuck in the coin return slot and the brownish black smears on the numbers looked suspiciously like blood. That wasn't what bothered him though. Nope. It was the insane amount of instructions that went along with dropping one stupid coin into a tiny hole and punching in a series of numbers. NO! He didn't want to use the Hyda IV plan. What the hell was that anyway? NO! He didn't want to place a collect call! And why the hell did he have to push zero THEN one to make the number connect?
After about the third attempt and listening to a robotic feminine voice explain his options Nox had enough. "JUST CONNECT MY CALL, YOU COMPUTERIZED WHORE!" he screamed, crushing the receiver in his clawed hand. Bits of plastic and metal bits fell from his talons.
Nox snarled, anger surging over him when he realized he'd broken the only working payphone in the hospital. Grabbing the box with both hands, he ripped it from the wall and tossed it over his head into the waiting room. The mangled wires and crushed metal skidded across the linoleum and knocked over a row of worn plastic chairs.
It took a moment for him to feel the weight of the silence in the lobby. Nurses peered out from the check in booths. Patients stared at him with wide eyes and gaping mouths. Someone was calling the mental ward in the back ground.
A sliver of shiny silver winked at him from between his feet. Growling, Nox picked up the coin and threw it at the ruined phone. "I just wanted to buy a damn cake!" A surge of electricity sputtered in agreement at his back. Someone coughed, but most were holding their breath as he stomped back to the elevator.
Back at his office, Nox threw the door open so hard it cracked the full length windows. "Get out," he snapped, slapping the coffee from the blue haired idiot's hand as he stalked to his desk.
"Whoa. Who pissed in your Cheerios?" the blond buffoon asked, crossing his arms. He put his hands up when Nox glared at him. "Wasn't me. Talk to the little guy wiping coffee off the floor." Then he quickly exited the room.
Nox blinked, gazing at the spot where Fittir had stood, then swung his gaze to Leingod. The blue haired twit was furiously wiping a hole into the floor. "Is he serious?" Nox asked.
Leingod jumped at the sound of his voice. "Uh. No sir. You see, it was an accident."
"I don't eat these…Cheerios," Nox replied. Hell, he didn't even know what they were. Some sort of stupid Earth food he supposed.
"Yeah. That's too bad," the idiot said.
"Give me your phone."
"What?" Leingod clutched the coffee stained rag to his chest.
"It's not like I asked for your liver. I want to use your phone. Give it to me." Apris be damned. Why was he surrounded by idiots? Honestly, he should have listened to Woltar's advise and stuck to the military. At least he could systematically eliminate all the morons under his charge there.
"But you have a phone. Right there," Leingod said, pointing at the dusty old rotary on the desk.
Nox sighed. "Yes, but by now mon Fuehrer Koas has probably heard about the payphone and my privileges are being revoked as we speak."
"Never mind, just give my that cell phone thing you have attached to you palm."
Leingod handed over his phone--if one could call it that. Such a tiny thing, it looked like a suppository. He glanced at the blue haired idiot and shook the thought out of his head as he took the phone between two fingers. "You may leave now," he said to the hovering doctor.
"But…you've never used one before."
The top of the phone flipped up and the buttons lit up neon blue. Nox ignored Leingod, staring at the contraption with rapt interest. "It's just a phone, Leingod. I'm sure I can figure out how to make it work."
"Well--okay. But I'm running low on my Any Time Minutes," he said as he shuffled to the door.
Nox pulled a phone book out of the drawer. "Yes. Yes you are, aren't you?" he mumbled to himself as he scanned the bakery listings. He didn't see Leingod give him a horrified look and scurry away down the hall.
"Hello? Cakes to Die For? Yes, this is Dr. Albel Nox. I'd like to speak to the Killer Chef."
Nox was whistling a tune when the door of his office crashed open again. He was really going to have to get one of those electronic sliding contraptions. With laser sensors set to stun unwanted guests, preferably. He watched as Nel Zelpher stormed in with the fury of a tempest, Dr. Koas drifting on her heels. Smiling he put his feet up on his desk and steepled his fingers.
"Nox!" Zelpher roared. He smiled at her and withheld a shiver of glee when her expression became puzzled.
"Yes, Ms. Zelpher? You--rang," he said.
"Don't try to be funny, Nox. Do you realize what sort of commotion you caused in the lobby today? Three patients went into cardiac arrest. Three! Because you scared the shit out of them."
"I fail to see how it's my fault their hearts are worn out," he replied.
"That's not the point! You're a doctor. D-O-C-T-O-R. Start acting like one! Doctors do not rip payphones from the wall and toss them about like beach balls. What in the hell were you doing, anyway?"
"Ordering a cake," he said.
The silence was profound. The two women stared at him with equal measures of bafflement.
"A cake," Koas repeated.
"Yes. A cake. More specifically a chocolate cake," Nox elaborated. The lawyer and director shared a look.
"You don't like sweets," Zelpher said, looking defiant.
Nox shrugged. "A little sweetness is good now and then. Especially when surrounded by such hard and bitter things." He watched Zelpher's face turn red, her eyes glazing over with anger. "Not that being hard and bitter is bad, but too much is--well--hard to stomach after awhile." He smiled at her, trying not to laugh when her redden face paled somewhat.
The beeper on his desk went off and Nox picked it up. Skimming the message, he pocketed the pager and opened his desk drawer. "Excuse me ladies," he said with all the eloquence he could muster. He stepped between them and made for the door.
"Wait, Nox." Koas' voice stopped him in his tracks. Nox looked over his shoulder. The tall blond crossed her arms. "You're phone privileges have been revoked. And you have to pay for all the payphones to be fixed."
Nox opened his mouth to argue, but snapped it shut. He had important business to attend to now. "Fine, whatever," he snapped.
"And you need to go see your patient. Now," she finished.
"That's exactly what I was going to do," he said. Right after he went down the lobby.
"We're watching you, Nox," Zelpher chimed in.
With a grin, Nox looked over his shoulder and met her gaze. "Oh, I have no doubt about that, Zelpher." He exited the door, letting her hear his laughter as he vanished down the hall.
Nox stood with his arms crossed and stared down at the small…thing…laying on the bed. Its tail swooshed from side to side, obviously annoyed. "What're ya look'n at?" it snarled at him, baring a set of baby canines. How easy it would be to pop the brat's head off his shoulders and call it a day.
"Unfortunately, brat, I have to look at you to examine you. Believe me, it's not pleasant for either of us," Nox replied, still gazing at the sawed off child on the bed.
The Menodix glanced at Dr. Fittir. "Did he just insult me?" he asked. Fittir shrugged. "'Cause if he did, I know people. Big people. People who eat scrawny guys like you for breakfast." He glared at Nox and puffed up his chest.
Scrawny? Nox glared at the runt. At six one he was considered fairly tall. The blond lummox was the only one in the hospital who had a few inches on him. He leaned over the bed and smiled. "Big is a relative term. I might be skinny, but at least I'm not short and fat," he said.
"Dr. Nox!" Leingod exclaimed, his face horrified. The little Menodix scrunched up his face as if to spit, but Nox's hand shot out and pinched his lips shut. He waved a finger at the boy, tsking him.
"My mi--associate tells me you're shrinking. I've looked at your previous medical history and I have to say it is intriguing. In one year, you've shrank nearly 2 inches. So in about 24 years you'll vanish into nothing. How long to Menodix live anyway?"
The Menodix didn't look quite so sure of himself. He glanced away, staring at some spot on the wall. "A little over a hundred years or so."
Nox crossed his arms. "Ah, that's really too bad for you, isn't it?"
"No! You're gonna help me! Ya have to 'cause you're a doctor! I wanna be big'n strong so I can…"
"So you can what?"
The Menodix grew silent, playing with the edges of his blanket.
"Dr. Nox," Leingod said. "I really don't see how this is helping the patient. He's sick. We're supposed to fix him, not torment him."
And that was what was wrong with medicine today. Nobody believed anymore that what didn't kill you made you strong. No wonder the world was full of wusses. "I'm not tormenting him. I just want the truth."
"What do you mean, truth?"
Fittir cleared his throat and took the files from Leingod. He thumbed through them, scanning the data. "I think he means that this medical history is a forgery." Nox glanced at the blond buffoon. For such an idiot, he had moments of clarity that were frightening. He'd have to keep his eye on that one.
"What?" Leingod grabbed the papers from Fittir, going over them with a flurry. "That's not possible."
"Sure it is," Nox said. "If your desperate enough to get what you want, anything is possible. Isn't that right, Roger?"
"Um…no, I'm really sick. It says so in the papers! Ya have to help me. You're a doctor. Law says so." He began cough and wheezing, holding his throat and puffing out his cheeks.
Nox smacked him on the head. "You know what the law does to con artists?" The Menodix shook his head slowly. "Horrible, terrible things, Mr. Huxley. Horrible things." Nox shuddered, ignoring the eye rolling going on at the opposite side of the bed.
Roger stared at him for a minute, then burst into tears. "No, no. There really is something wrong with me! I shouldn't be this small! I shouldn't! I'm too brave to be this short!" The wails became so loud, the doctors had to put their fingers in their ears.
Cringing, Nox turned and looked at the others. "Leave us. I wish to speak to Mr. Huxley alone for a moment." Leingod and Fittir shared a look, then shrugged. They both hurried out the door, grateful to be away from the noise.
Alone in the room, Nox stood and shut the blinds. Roger continued to wail until he felt his cheeks clenched in a cold, metallic grasp. Wide eyes opened and gazed into a gleaming set of deep red. "Listen up, brat. I think we can help each other out. You wanna deal?"
Dr. Albel Nox sat in his quiet office reading his favorite book, "Art of War" by Sun Tzu.
"Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots," he read aloud with a smile.
Indeed master Tzu. Indeed.
The door to his office slide open. No laser fire went off, but that option had been nixed with he'd petitioned Koas for a new door. He didn't complain too much. She'd repealed the order that had him paying for all the payphones. Even one such as himself knew when to give a little.
Roger Huxley came in carrying a small white box. His fat little face was all smiles. It was nauseating. On his legs were odd metallic braces that made a clunking sound as he scurried across the floor. Behind him Nel Zelpher and Dr. Koas followed, the faces skeptical, but pacified.
"Hi-ya Dr. Nox!" Roger said, bounding up to the desk.
Nox set his book down and pulled his long legs from the desktop. "What an unpleasant surprise," he said.
"Nox," Zelpher hissed, patting the boy's head. Nox rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair.
"I wanted to say bye and thanks. Mom made this cake for all you nice people." He put the box down on Nox's desk and pushed it across the lacquered cherry wood.
Poking at the box, Nox opened the lid and stared at the dark brown cake sprinkled with raspberries. Such a shame the raspberries had to go to waste. He put the lid down and slid it back to Roger, who gave him a sad frown. "Sorry. I don't like cake," he said.
"Albel," Zelpher snapped. "Just take the cake. He's trying to be nice."
"I'm diabetic," Nox said with a shrug. "Eating it would be my demise. Which is probably your plan anyway."
"Since when have you been diabetic?" Koas asked from the doorway.
Nox smiled. "Since I started working here. Surrounded by all this female sweetness." Koas rolled her eyes and Zelpher let out an exasperated sigh.
"Just take the cake, Nox."
"If you want it so bad, you take it. I'm sure Mr. Huxley understands."
Roger nodded slowly, his face uncertain. He turned sad eyes up to Zelpher and held out the small box. "Dr. Nox is right. If he can't eat it, you can have it. It would be a shame to let it go to waste. Ma worked hard on it." His eyes brightened with unshed tears and Nox could see Nel melt into a puddle of mushy estrogen.
Damn, that kid was good.
Zelpher took the box and hugged Roger. The Menodix gave Nox a thumbs up sign with a toothy grin. When Nel pulled him back and patted his head, his face was a picture of torn youth.
That kid was really good.
"Your mom is downstairs signing papers, Roger," Koas said. "We should get going."
Roger nodded and looked back at Nox. "Thanks Dr. Nox. Physical therapy sounds like a lot of fun. Next time you see me, I'll be as tall as you--but not quite so scrawny." Then he scampered-clumped out of the room, closely followed by the two women.
The doors slid shut and the red light blinked on the touch pad. Nox picked up his book and returned to reading. "It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on," he read.
Indeed, Master Tzu. Indeed.
Nox was putting on his coat, preparing to leave for the day when Maria Traydor stepped into his office. Her blue hair was swept back in a tight bun that looked painful. She adjusted the heavy black frames of her glasses, then crossed her arms in front of her. "Dr. Nox," she said in a voice that commanded attention.
"Yes, Traydor," he replied, rummaging through his desk for his Chiclets.
"Would you explain why I'm being dispatched to Kirlsa First two days out of every month?"
"Medical Research," he said, smiling when he found the multicolored baggy beneath a receipt for two pounds of Ex-lax.
"Research. I thought you'd like to study the neurological effects of pain and bone growth in young Menodix children. Since Dr. Koas has decided to start taking them as patients, I figured we'd better learn as much as we can."
Traydor stared at him, thinking it over. "And the Rack you ordered from Airyglyph?"
"Study materials, my dear. Study materials."
Silence again. Traydor was almost as creepy as Koas. But in a more terrifying, intelligent way. Finally she nodded. "Understood," she said and marched out the door.
On his way out, Nox stopped by the nurses station. "Have you seen Ms. Zelpher?" he asked. "I was supposed to give her the reports on the Menodix boy but I can't find her anywhere."
The nurse gave him solemn eyes and shook her head. "Ms. Zelpher went home ill about an hour ago."
"Ill? What a shame." The nurse arched a brow at Nox's smile and he had to turn away so she wouldn't see the look of glee in his eyes. Striding out the door, trying not to bounce, Nox whistled a merry tune from his youth.
Sometimes it was good to be alive.