"I ain't a fag, doc."
The scribbling of a pen on a pad of paper did little to comfort the boy fidgiting in his seat, fingers drumming against the metal of the medibay cot, eyebrows furrowed together. Scout rocked his body back and forth. He looked at every item in the room at least twice before settling upon the doctor- who still scribbled away at the paper. He frowned.
"You listenin'? You ain't said a woid since I got in here-"
"Yes I am, Herr Scout," Medic quickly replied, which surprised Scout. "Now, please," the Medic exchanged one folded leg for another, "continue?"
Scout nodded. He licked his lips a few times before continuing. "Like I said. I ain't a fag, doc. But that moment with fat-flaps, it just... kinda... you know what I'm talkin' about?" He moved his hands in a circular motion as if this would help the German understand, looking to the wall and avoiding all eye contact. Said German uncrossed his legs, sat forward, and cleared his throat disconcertingly.
"You stated previously that this had been a mere fleeting instance, ja? Nothing else had come up after this at all, no other feelings, just that particular one?" He stood up suddenly - wincing at the brittle joints that creaked and popped as he did - and walked to the Medibay cabinet and opened it, shushing Scout as he questioned what exactly he was doing. Every shape, color, size, and label of bottle looked back at him, some yellowed with age, others warped due to the constant fluctuation between face-meltingly hot and penguin's-tit cold. He sifted through them muttering to himself, until with a small noise of accomplishment he withdrew a small, white bottle.
"I will prescribe you this. I will need the bottle back, however, once you are finished; but this should, erm, quash your feelings." The Medic took the pencil and rubbed out the label that read 'Aspirin' in hastily written letters. Instead he wrote 'Placebo' and tossed them to the boy. It wasn't as if he would know. "Take one every six hours. Don't take them with food, otherwise you're going to throw up everywhere. Don't crush them either, or take them with high-acid drinks"
Scout simply nodded, ignoring everything he said while studying the label. He smiled. This would keep those pesky thoughts away. "Yeah, sure. Thanks, doc!"
The Medic screamed at him to watch out for the box of hypodermic needles much too late and instead settled for yelling at him in German as he darted out of the door, eager to not help clean up. That was fine. He'd be sure to slip a muscle relaxant into his drink tomorrow morning. Sighing, he set to clean up the mess. The needles were placed precariously back in the box according to size and the few that had been broken were quickly swept up and the remnants discarded. Nothing made Medic happier than a spotless medical bay. In fact, it could have been classified as an obsession, his lust to keep everything immaculate. When Soldier often came in protesting that he'd had a bit of a scuffle on the field - organs pouring out of the strangely common abdominal injuries he received kept from spilling out only by an arm half-heartedly thrown over his wound - dripping blood everywhere, the stains upon the linoleum pressed at the front of his mind, not the dying man before him.
If things were to be kept clean in Germany, they would be kept clean here. Old habits and that, the obsession to keep everything clean only exacerbated by old rules. Perhaps the only thing he agreed with in his medical training.
Everything else, well. It never hurt to experiment a little.
The Medic had set to straightening the cot when a knock sounded on his door. He cursed softly. Was it possible for people not injure themselves for one day, especially during ceasefire? "Come in," he muttered. The door opened just a crack and a yellow helmet eased its way in.
"You, uh, you busy, doc?" Came the smooth voice of their Engineer. The Medic gestured for him to enter. He was hunched over - as if he couldn't look any smaller - and nervously turned his hat over in his gloved hands while surveying the room. Or possibly not. Hard to tell with the goggles and all. "I'll only be a sec, doc. Won't be any trouble to ya' t'all." He took a stool from the corner and dragged it between his legs. Medic grit his teeth.
That was going to leave a mark on his floor.
"I saw Scout run by lookin' happier than a two year old in a toy factory. Considerin' he's been down in the dumps since him and Heavy had a 'run in', I figured you must'a cured him some how-"
"Oh, that." The German waved a hand dismissively. "I haven't 'cured him', as you put it. Simply given him pills."
"What kind of pills?"
He paused and tapped his chin. Now that he thought about it, that might not have been aspirin at all. Bottles with their labels changed countless times to sate the current patient were returned each day, and any pills placed into them were treated with the same nonchalance. He shrugged. "That is a very good question. But I'm sure he'll be fine. If he dies, then, well-" he gave another gesture of dismissal at the same time skillfully tossing an item into the trash bin, "-at least I don't have to worry about his chronic leg injuries that he's always whining about. The label said aspirin. I trust myself." Medic took a seat after discarding the tissue paper on the table. "What seems to be the problem?"
The Engineer placed his hat back on his head and rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, other'n the kid's possible death, I gotta admit I've felt pretty weird, doc. I been missin' my family somethin' terrible these past few weeks; and honestly, that ain't too normal for me. Usually I'm so indifferent about 'em. But, I mean, I been stayin' up late, and cryin' over 'em. And it's been affectin' how I fight. Just between you an' me," the man leaned in close, face contorted into an expression of distress, "I built my sentry wrong the other day." He spoke the words and flinched as if God were going to strike him down for even daring to utter such a phrase.
The Medic frowned, dumbfounded. "You do realize that I am not licensed for therapy..." He trailed off at the sight before him. Engineer had buried his face in his hands out of sheer disgrace. Noises of strangulation came from his throat. He was sobbing. A rogue tear slipped over the edge of his glove. Medic couldn't have resisted helping this man even if he were breaking everything, finger painting on his walls, and throwing dirt on everything. "Calm down, calm down! Men such as yourself should not cry. Use, ah, this to dry your eyes." The Engineer graciously accepted the left over scrap of tissue paper. Another sob.
"Oh doc, I hate bein' like this! First I thought I heard Spy talkin' about my overalls and I nearly slugged him. But instead, I just cried. Everythin's about cryin' now! Hell, I can't even- can't even-" he stuttered between a few sniffles, "-even walk through the darned base without thinkin' that someone's gonna jump out at me. Then, I start cryin' at that, too. People are startin' to look at me funny. God, doc, you must think I'm a quack."
Quack doesn't even begin to describe it. He shook the thought from his head. "Has this, uh, ever happened before?"
The Engineer shook his head, dabbing at the tear streaks that stained his chin. He hadn't taken his goggles off yet tears still made their way through. "No, cryin' was seen as a sign of weakness- oh doc, am I gettin' weak? I can't be gettin' weak! I jus' can't! I can't imagine what my Pa' would say!" The Texan lurched forward and grabbed the doctor with vice-like, Gunslinger fingers, eliciting a cry of alarm from Medic, then proceeded to shake him a little.
"Herr Engineer, that is enough!" The German threw the hand off of him and stood up in a huff, adjusting his attire. "You are obviously delusional. Delusional, or you have been associating yourself with Demoman and I will give you the same advice I gave him: the whipped cream cans are not to be used for a substitute for drinking." An inhuman snarl stopped his train of thought. The Engineer lurched forward and grabbed him yet again.
The Medic gasped. "Doggone it! You're supposed to be useful! What good is a doctor that can't cure a damned patient!"
"A doctor without a license." Realizing that he'd said something he really shouldn't, he quickly added: "A-ah, but good thing that isn't me!"
The Engineer's grip became lax, mouth twitching downward at the corners. "So- you're gonna help?"
With a little coaxing, the Engineer admitted everything that had happened the past few weeks. Every little disturbing detail, from when he woke up and went to bed, to when he cried, to the horrid realization that he could no longer hold an erection one evening. "A feller gets lonely sometimes!" The Texan admitted ashamedly. Medic couldn't help but agree and told him to simply continue. He gave him a time table of when he ate, and every meal that he had. Considering the common gruel around the base was SPAM incorporated into poorly conceived meals, the menu didn't have many differences day to day. Still, somehow, despite the hawk-like eye of the Soldier when it came to illicit substances, the men managed to sneak snacks to one another as if locked within the confines of the penal system, trading this for that and so forth. Medic had found things men should never have in their bodies lodged in the stomachs of countless members - a circular magnet that the Heavy had been told was a doughnut, pieces of shrapnel painted orange and called chips -, a false trade for something greatly desired. Perhaps this was the cause of Engineer's sudden mood change, the German thought. He asked him to go into greater detail.
"Well, it was jus' like I do every week, doc. Trade Spah a carton of those cigarettes he likes so much for good meat. Texan blood requires a nice slab of beef at least once every few weeks. Heavy an' I usually swap little trinkets: I gave him a gen-u-ine Texas belt buckle an' he gave me these little Russian dolls that fit inside one another. Think I'm gonna send 'em to Susie when I get the chance" He smiled widely at the thought. "Hm, lemme see... Pyro's been givin' me these candies in exchange for long matches. Small little things that don't taste like much, but they sate my sugar cravin's."
"Do they... have writing on them?"
A slew of German curses spewed forth. The Medic shot up out of his seat and set out of the room at an alarming speed, leaving the Engineer following blindly in his wake.
Pyro's room was thankfully close, door propped open slightly, a thin curl of smoke trailing out of the crack. Faint orange light painted the walls. Messing with fire again despite the rules and past instances of burning the entire base down (because Soldier thought that everything being made out of wood was as American as you could get). The suited person turned quickly around at the heavily accented insults, shielded his eyes as the Medic turned the lights on, and quickly extinguished the matches. "Mmaht? Mmhathshht?" Came the muffled voice in a slightly angry tone.
"Look at what you have done to this man!" He threw a gloved hand at Dell, who had taken to asking if everyone could just get along and dabbing at his eyes once he realized that no one was listening. "I told you, those pills were only for you!"
The Pyro reared back as he slowly realized what the German was talking about. "Mminntsnnk-"
"You're right, you obviously didn't think."
The Medic shoved Dell out of the room. He took to the bed clad in plain black sheets, wincing at the creaks that came from the springs, hand running through dark hair threaded with gray. The Pyro still stood in his corner. He shifted nervously from foot to foot with hands behind his back, leaning against the wall. The man jumped slightly when the Medic cleared his throat.
"Have I not told you that those are yours, and yours alone? They aren't candy to be handed out to just anybody. You have no idea how difficult it was to obtain those little devils. Well, it wasn't actually difficult, it was more an awkward moment because I had to seek permission from the Administrator- ach, you get where I am going with this. Those pills, they work on everyone, not just you. It isn't an exclusive thing. The same thing that is happening to you is happening to the Engineer as well: now he is a woman-like abomination and I do not appreciate having more than one effeminate man on this team. Not to say that there is too much wrong with you." The Medic waved a hand dismissively, but the Pyro didn't seem to take offense to it.
"Rick." To be honest, the Medic wasn't sure that 'Rick' was the man's name at all. He'd simply suggested a name one day, and a nod of approval certified its use. "I understand your request to become more woman-like, and it's my duty to help people with their medical problems. My only regret is that I cannot provide you with surgery, because I know I would be too tempted to... well. I'll just keep those naughty, unethical fantasies to myself."
After fetching the distressed Engineer from outside the door, the trio came to an agreement. Engineer wouldn't tell anyone about Pyro's gender confusion and Pyro wouldn't give him any more pills. The Medic would instead give the Texan stale, aged Mann Co.-issued lollipops that he got every month for being a doctor to sate that sweet tooth so that nothing else like this would happen again. And everything was right with the world.
"Uh, doc- I don't much care for needles."
The Engineer's lips became a fine line as the syringe came into view. Within the glass sloshed a semi-translucent liquid. The Medic simply rolled his eyes, gave the patient a tissue to wipe his, and disinfected the area on his arm. The short man couldn't help but tense up.
"Oh, don't be such a baby. This will get you on the road to being normal again! You want that don't you, ja?"
"Sure, but- aaugh!" Medic stuck him before he could get another word out. The procedure was over in a minute. He gave him a Saxton Hale bandage to place on his arm and one of the lollipops and motioned for him to get off of the cot before he dirtied it up even further.
"I have just injected you with a mixture of testosterone and steroids. Now, I've given you more than the recommended dosage, to speed up your body's shift back to normal hormone levels. I heavily suggest you stay away from everyone if you think they're going to rile you up. Steroids make men 'violent', to put it simply, and that's only going to make it doubly so when in combination with testosterone. And I don't feel like resetting any broken bones." After a series of emotional and heart-felt 'thank-yous' from the Engineer, he was shown out of the office. The Medic slammed the door behind him and sighed heavily, contentedly.
Finally alone. God, the day had been too long. The chair was an inviting welcome. Leather supported tired muscles, aching bones. He slipped his boots off and undid his jacket. The Medic suddenly realized how exhausted he was. Eyelids became heavy.
Yes, sleep. Sleep was good, sleep was here, sleep for Fritz...
A sudden violent crash from somewhere in the building ruined any prospects of rest.
"Come'ere, ya' yellah-bellied coward!" A dull thud; then, the sound of splintering wood.
Glove hands immediately shot for the medical kit. A Medic's work was never done.