DISCLAIMER: Alas, I own it not.
Warnings: Horrific medical inaccuracies, some swearing, a tad of violence. Nothing too drastic.
A/N: A little speculation on the fanon concept that Engie is the team "medic".
(Dedicated to SoulxCyanide)
(an apple a day does not keep the doctor away, because there is no doctor, just a rather flustered engie)
"Pilot, I don't know how to fix him."
"But you have to!" Pilot cried. He flung himself down at Engie's feet, hands grasping at the bottom of the engineer's coat. "You can't let him die!"
"I don't know how-"
"You have to try!" Pilot was near tears by now. Engie hopelessly glanced over at Snippy. They made eye contact, but the sniper's expression was hidden beneath his mask.
Engie bit his lip. "Fine," he said. "Fine."
As he prepared for the operation, his mind cast back to the sequence of events that had led up to this moment. To how the others had come to think of him as the "doctor" of the group, despite the fact that he had no medical training other than basic first aid. How he had been forced to learn on the spot many times; a crash-course in how to stop the others from getting themselves killed.
It had started, he recalled, with the "diving board incident".
Zee Captain had ordered him to do some pretty weird things, from descending into ominous-looking pits of doom to testing out a helium-balloon-chair flying machine.
This was not the weirdest, but it was the one thing that Charles Snippy was not going to do. Period. And no amount of cajoling or threatening was going to change his mind.
"But it is for science," Captain exclaimed, flinging his arms out dramatically as if the gesture would somehow persuade Snippy.
Snippy shook his head, glancing over at the rickety wooden plank extending out over the precipice. To call it a diving board would be an overstatement. Below was a dizzying drop down into a pit of deep, radioactive water.
"I said no, and I meant it."
"I suppose you would like to face The Mug then," Captain threatened, emphasising the capital letters. He waved his mug of tea in Snippy's face, evidently hoping that the threat would work as well as it had last time.
Snippy shook his head again. Just the thought of the water was making him feel sick. "For the last time: No! Get Pilot to test it." This with a glare at Pilot who was bouncing around behind Captain. "I can't-"
"Insubordination!" Pilot yelled, cutting him off. "Captain, he is trying to mutiny and should be dealt with accordingly."
"Indeed," Captain agreed. "Snippy, do not question my orders! When zee captain says jump, zee minion says 'off what'?"
"I," Snippy growled out through gritted teeth, "am not doing this. I don't care what hot beverages you threaten me with." He elbowed past Captain... right into the waiting arms of Pilot, who grabbed his shoulders, turning him around, and forcibly marched him to the edge of the beam.
"And now the insubordinate minion shall walk the plank!" Captain cried gleefully.
Snippy opened his mouth to protest, but before he could get a word out Pilot was shoving him off the board and he was plummeting through the air.
He might have screamed. He wasn't sure. Either way he could hear nothing but the wind roaring in his ears and his stomach lurching as he dropped like a stone; the water, dark and menacing, getting closer and closer to his face.
With a splash he plunged deep into the ice-cold, radioactive soup, and things just went downhill from there.
Panicked, Snippy flailed wildly, water seeping into his respirator and filling his nose and mouth. He couldn't get to the surface – couldn't see anything but blackness and muck, and anything could be lurking in here, and oh god WHY had he skipped out on those school swimming lessons?
Alexander "Engie" Gromov was breathing heavily by the time he rounded the first pile of rubbish. He paused to catch his breath, pleased with himself for his developing stamina. A week ago he would have been lying on the ground gasping. Now he was only mildly winded.
Colour and motion up ahead made him squint through his goggles, peering down at the bay below. A body of menacing black water lay in front of him – he cringed, having encountered enough monsters to know that anything could be lurking in there.
And standing in front of it were the Captain and Pilot, peering into the water as though they were expecting something to emerge.
With a heavy sigh Engie decided he may as well see what they were up to, and trudged down the hill – much easier than climbing up – to stand beside them.
Captain turned towards him and sucked at the straw sticking out of his mug. "Greetings, Engie."
"What are you doing?" Engie asked, turning to look at the water.
"He's been under there five minutes now!" Pilot piped up, then continued counting under his breath – for lack of a stopwatch he was apparently keeping time manually.
"What? Who?" Engie questioned.
"Mr Snippy is testing out our diving board!" Captain pointed up at a plank of wood sticking off the top of the cliff nearby. Engie spluttered.
"Charles is under there?" he demanded, and Captain nodded safely.
"That is indeed what I said."
"And he's been under there five minutes? Good God, man, he's probably drowned by now!" Much as Engie wasn't fond of Snippy, he didn't particularly want him dead... plus there was the fact that there were few humans left as it was, and it wouldn't do to have them dying off so quickly.
Captain didn't seem alarmed. "He will emerge when he emerges."
Engie eyed them cautiously. "Do you not know that humans can't survive that long without air?"
Neither of them moved.
Engie bit his lip. I do not want to do this. At all. Why am I doing this? Because, damn it, I can't just stand by and watch someone die for stupid reasons like testing out a diving board.
Shrugging off his jacket, Engie took a deep breath and waded into the water. It was cold, biting into his skin even through his clothes, and he could practically feel the radiation seeping into him. He heard a cheer from Pilot – the idiot probably thought this was all good sport.
The water was deep, the lake was big, and he had no idea where Snippy was. Sucking in another breath, Engie steeled himself and bobbed down under the water, looking around.
It was murky but he could just make out a shape drifting some meters away. Swimming closer, he grasped Snippy by the jacket and hauled him up to the surface of the water.
Either unconscious or dead, he wasn't sure which, the sodden sniper was completely limp. Engie draped his arm around his shoulders and began the slow haul back to the shore.
"Thirteen minutes!" Pilot announced as an exhausted Engie collapsed onto the bank, letting Snippy fall next to him. Captain just stood there, staring into the distance.
Engie ignored both of them. Gathering his strength, he pulled Snippy out of the shallow water and onto dry ground. They were both drenched, Engie chilled to the bone and shivering violently. He wrung out his shirt and pulled his jacket back on, grateful for the warmth. Turning to Snippy, he frowned – he didn't appear to be breathing.
Pilot hovered over them. "Hm. Snippy's dead." He sounded pretty happy.
Engie pushed him away. "Move," he ordered, yanking Snippy's respirator down.
"What are you gonna do?" Pilot asked.
"Do either of you know CPR?" Engie asked, looking up.
Pilot stared at him blankly, and Captain didn't respond. Sighing heavily, Engie pulled his own gas mask down and began mouth-to-mouth.
He could feel ribs under his hand as he thumped on Snippy's chest, alternating it with puffs of air into the sniper's mouth.
It's not working. You're not a medic. He's dead. Three more times and then I'm giving up...
On the last thump Snippy drew in a rasping breath, then coughed, lurching forwards as he sat upright and hacked up lungfuls of water. Engie sat back, exhausted and trembling as the adrenaline faded.
Pilot stared at Engie as if he had grown two heads. "He's alive again!"
Alive indeed, Snippy wasn't in a very good state. When he finally stopped coughing, he sat, hunched over, sucking in shuddering breaths and shivering violently.
Pilot squatted near them, glancing at the Captain who was still staring off into space, steam floating up from his mug of tea to shroud his head in an ominous white mist.
"Snippy! You failed the swimming test. Engie saved you with the kiss of life," Pilot informed him.
Snippy mumbled something could have been either "pass my respirator" or "piss off, motherfucker" before turning to look at Engie questioningly.
"I had to do CPR. Put this back on." Engie handed Snippy his mask. "There's so much crap in the air..."
At that moment Captain emerged from his reverie, looked around, and found his minions huddled together. Bouncing over to join them, he seated himself next to Pilot. Engie could practically feel the radiation levels rising.
"I hope you're proud of yourself," Engie growled. "If it wasn't for your idiocy I would be warm and dry right now."
"UMAD?" Captain asked. "Snippy, your boobery has caused our experiment to fail! Zee Captein is disappointed in you."
Snippy coughed. "I can't swim!" he croaked angrily. "You could have killed me!"
"You were dead!" Pilot cried. He turned to Captain, waving his hands frantically. "Captain, Captain, did you see it? Engie brought Snippy back to life!"
Captain turned to Engie and tilted his head. "Oh really?"
"What? It was just CPR. Don't you know about CPR?" Engie asked, but they didn't appear to be listening. Captain stared at him a moment longer before getting to his feet.
"Come, Pilot. We must build a flame of epic proportions."
"Okay! Why?" Pilot asked.
"To dry off your fellow minions. It shall be the grandest bonfire in the history of bonfires!"
Engie watched the two of them wander off, gesticulating madly as they planned out their fire. He turned to Snippy and, in a moment of spontaneous generosity, offered a hand to help him up.
Snippy ignored him, clambering to his feet on his own and shivering as he pulled his wet jacket closer about himself. "Congrats. You now have Pilot thinking you're some kind of god."
"Nah. He only worships Captain. He'll forget about it in no time." Engie frowned. "A bit of thanks would be nice, by the way. I did just save your life."
"You said yourself it was 'just CPR'," Snippy pointed out. After a moment he added a rather grudging "But thanks, I guess."
"You owe me one."
"No I don't."
Engie had almost forgotten about the incident until, two weeks later, Pilot came limping up to where he was sitting on a bench, fiddling with a broken radio and trying unsuccessfully to get some sort of signal.
"What?" Engie asked, as Pilot plonked himself on the ground in front of the bench and stared expectantly up at him.
"I hurt myself," Pilot said simply, and fiddled with his boot, rolling up his trousers to reveal a rather nasty gash on his leg, bleeding sluggishly.
Engie glanced at the wound and grimaced, the sight of blood making him feel slightly queasy. "That does look nasty."
He turned back to his radio, waiting for Pilot to hobble off to go see the Captain or something, but to his surprise, the aviator hauled himself up onto the bench next to him.
"What?" Engie snapped, leaning back as Pilot invaded his personal space.
"I hurt myself!" Pilot insisted. He swung his leg onto Engie's lap. The Engineer startled backwards with a yelp.
"What do you expect me to do about it?" he protested.
"Fix it!" Pilot demanded. "Like you fixed Mr. Snippy!"
Ah. So that's what this was all about.
"Sorry, but no," Engie said. "I'm not a doctor. Go get Captain to help you."
"Captain won't be back till later." Pilot was peering up at Engie, the green of his eyepieces almost hypnotising in the light.
Engie sighed. Dammit. "Fine. I guess I can try to clean it out for you. Not here, back at the base. Come on."
He found himself having to help Pilot off the bench and back to their current domain. It was a thoroughly awkward experience, at least for Engie, who was not the most tactile of people and had never anticipated having to get so handsy with the rather clingy Pilot.
Finally the gruelling walk was over. Pilot flopped down on the battered settee and Engie wandered off to find some of the purified water they had salvaged.
"How'd you get this, anyway?" he asked as he rummaged for a handkerchief and soaked it in the water.
"I was on a mission for the Captain and a stinky monster chased me and then I fell on this- Ahhhghhh haaagh!" Pilot broke off with a wail as Engie dabbed at the wound with the hankie. His foot shot out and kicked the engineer in the face.
"Oof!" Engie huffed as he fell over backwards. He sat up, readjusting his respirator and glaring at Pilot. "What was that for?"
"You hurt me!" Pilot replied angrily, clutching at his leg. "Owwww. You said you would fix it!"
"I said I'd clean it, which is what I was trying to do!" Engie threw the bloodied cloth at him. "You know what, you can do it yourself now."
"You're mean! How come you fixed Snippy but you won't fix me?" Pilot said miserably.
Engie turned away with a huff. After a few minutes he chanced to look over at the other man. Pilot was huddled on the couch, staring sadly at his bleeding leg. The very picture of the kicked puppy dog.
Engie bit his lip. Yeah, he wasn't the most amiable guy, but he wasn't completely heartless either. With a sigh he sat back down next to Pilot and grabbed the cloth again.
"Hold still, this is going to hurt."
One bandage, two boots to the face and several choice words later, and Pilot was as patched up as he was going to get.
"You probably need stitches and a tetanus shot, but since we have neither of those, we'll just have to hope that it doesn't get infected," Engie commented.
Pilot tilted his head. "What happens if that happens?"
"Well... we might just have to cut the whole leg off," Engie replied ominously.
Engie snickered. "Only kidding. Well, half-kidding. Just try not to run around too much."
Pilot saluted. "Yes, doctor!"
"No, no, no! I'm not a doctor!" Engie said quickly. "In fact, next time you get hurt, go to Snippy, not me."
Had Pilot's mask been off, he would probably have been pouting. "But you fixed me! And you fixed Snippy! Snippy can't do stuff like that."
"Go to Captain then."
"But you're the one who fixed me," Pilot persisted.
It was like reasoning with a five year old. Engie just sighed and face-palmed and hoped that maybe, maybe Pilot would just forget about it. Or at least not get injured any time in the near future.
"Mr Engie! I have a present for you!"
Engie sat up groggily and yelped as a heavy object was thrown onto his chest. Not the most pleasant way to wake up, especially considering morning hadn't even broken yet.
Captain squatted down beside him and prodded at his shoulder. "Rise and shine, Engie!" he declared.
Engie rubbed at his eyes and pulled his goggles on. "What is it?"
"A most delicious gift for you! Happy birthday!"
At which point Pilot popped out from behind Captain and threw a handful of confetti all over Engie.
"It's not my birthday," Engie replied a bit sourly, but since it didn't look like he'd be getting back to sleep any time soon, he sat up and squinted at the box Captain had chucked at him. A white tin with a faded red cross on it...
"Is this a first aid kit?" Rather more alert now, Engie looked down at the box, then over at the Captain. "Look, I don't know where you guys got the idea that I was a doctor, because I'm not. I know CPR and I can slap a band-aid on a cut, but other than that? Jack squat."
"Congratulations, Mr Engie, you have been promoted to team medic!" Captain responded cheerfully, seemingly ignoring him. "I also declare you Employee of the Month!"
More confetti rained down on Engie as he spluttered in unheard protest.
It only escalated from there.
The slightest bruise, bump or graze had Pilot running to Engie to demand medical treatment – which mostly consisted of a bandaid, or simply swabbing the wound and telling him to suck it up like a man.
Unfortunately, the perilous nature of the wasteland often lent itself to more serious wounds, usually manifesting themselves in Snippy after one of the Captain's insane and thankless tasks.
One such event took place on a cold grey morning (well, wasn't every morning cold and grey nowadays). Engie was having a leisurely time of it, as Pilot and Captain were out doing god-knows-what and he had the place ("place" being the ruined remains of a condo) to himself. He was reclining on the sofa, trying to nap and shifting about every now and then to avoid the springs digging into his back.
A loud crash and the sound of swearing alerted him to Snippy's arrival.
He sat up as Snippy entered the room and sat on the nearest chair. He was clutching at one arm and breathing quite heavily.
Engie gave him a moment to compose himself before sauntering over and sitting down across from him.
Snippy glanced up at him, somehow managing to glare from behind his gas mask.
"What happened to you?" Engie asked mildly.
"Several stupid and unlucky things," Snippy snapped. He winced as he let go of his arm to lean against the table. "Y'know what, this always happens when I go for supplies. Always. It's like there's some sort of curse, the curse of Snippy going for supplies."
Engie tilted his head. "Are you injured?"
"No, I'm clutching my arm for the fun of it!" Snippy growled. Naturally, pain made him irritable.
Engie raised his hands defensively. "Ooh, he barks, he bites! I was just asking."
"Well don't ask, unless you know how to fix it. Which you don't. Because you're not a doctor."
Yeah, and Snippy seemed to be the only one who realised that. But this accusation riled at Engie. Yes, by his own admission he was not a doctor, but the way Snippy said it made it seem like an insult.
He had the sudden urge to prove himself.
"I could take a look at it," he suggested, and was striding over before Snippy could protest, taking hold of the injured limb.
Perhaps grabbing it hadn't been the best idea.
Snippy reacted like he'd just sat on a bed of hot coals. With a loud "Bwah!" he thrashed wildly, jumping up from the chair and lashing out at Engie with enough force to knock him back a few steps.
Slightly winded, Engie doubled over to catch his breath.
"God. Fucking. Damn. Why did you do that?" Snippy choked out, cradling his arm.
"Language, Snips!" Captain chided as he swept into the room. Pilot followed him, nearly obscured by the massive bunch of helium balloons he was holding. "Are you two playing nicely together?"
Muttering under his breath, Snippy sat down again, now as tense as a coiled spring. "Stay away from me," he warned Engie.
Well. This was a bit awkward.
"What's happening?" Pilot asked. He let go of the balloons and they floated up to bump against the ceiling. "Snippy's hurt himself? Engie can fix you!"
Pilot seemed to have taken it as his job to advertise Engie's (non-existent) doctoring abilities to everyone he came across.
"Yes, I quite agree!" Captain said before anyone could object. He leaned back against the wall and folded his arms. "I wish to see my minion in action!"
"No way. I'm not his lab rat," Snippy said with distaste.
"Your time starts... now!" Captain declared, and then began to make ticking noises, as though this was some sort of contest. Engie shifted a bit nervously. Okay. Apparently he now had a time limit in which to fix Snippy.
Pilot was hovering over his shoulder as he sat down next to the sniper, which was only making him feel more awkward.
"I need a bit of space," he ordered, and the aviator obediently went to sit at Captain's feet.
Engie felt vaguely guilty when Snippy flinched back from him, and made sure to take hold of the arm more gently this time.
"Well you're not bleeding and it's not broken... can you move it?" he asked.
"I don't want to move it. It hurts," Snippy replied flatly.
"Doctor? Diagnosis?" Captain asked cheerfully.
"I think it might be dislocated. Did you wrench it or something?"
"Then we have to... relocate it?"
Snippy groaned and let his head drop down to the table. "You made that sound like a question. This concerns me. You really have no idea what you're doing, do you?"
"Go Engie, go!" Pilot cheered, which really didn't help much.
"Okay. Look, I think we just sort of... ram it back in," Engie said.
"Ram it back in?" Snippy scooted back from him. "What brought you to this startling conclusion?" Hm. Apparently pain made Snippy not only irritable, but dangerously sarcastic as well.
As saying 'that's what they always do in the movies' would probably not be very reassuring, Engie opted instead for "Do you have a better idea?"
"Yes, I do," Snippy said, and proceeded to talk Engie through the basic process of relocating a shoulder. It seemed that before becoming a tour guide, he had been required to take a basic first aid course.
Why he couldn't have brought this up sooner was beyond Engie.
"Five minutes earlier and you could have saved yourself a lot of pain, Charles," Engie said when the shoulder was fixed, Captain had gone off to make some tea and Pilot had finally stopped asking for an encore.
"Kind of hard to think when your arm feels like it's falling off," Snippy replied, rubbing the aforementioned limb. "It's fine now, though. No thanks to you."
Engie huffed indignantly. "Maybe you should be team medic, then, since you know so much more than me."
Snippy laughed humourlessly. "Not that much more. Not enough to save someone. Besides, I'm busy enough with all of Captain's ridiculous demands."
There was a pointed cough from the doorway, and they turned to see Captain standing there, nursing his mug of tea.
"Engie, your ignorance today was inexcusable!" Captain declared. "I will grant you two weeks to improve your skills, then you will be... examined." This last word was said with a certain degree of ominous relish.
Captain's 'examination' consisted of several rats in mice traps, which Engie then had to release and attempt to save before they bled to death. It was a somewhat gruesome task which brought back memories of dissections in tenth-grade biology class.
All of the rats died.
"Mr Engie!" Captain exclaimed when he came over to 'mark the test'. "Explain this to me."
Engie looked down at the dead rodents. They looked like rag dolls, patched together with stitches and bloodstained cotton wool. He thought quickly.
"Due to the... dangerous nature of the subjects – namely their teeth, high level of radiation, and likelihood to cause rabies – I thought that it was my duty to make sure that they, in fact, did not survive, as they posed a threat to you and your minions."
Captain clapped his hands. "I am delighted. You have passed with flying colours."
Engie huffed a sigh of relief, but truth be told, he was a bit concerned.
The wasteland was dangerous, that much was obvious. And the incident with Snippy had proved that none of them was equipped to deal with serious injuries.
If they were going to survive, Engie would need to step up his abilities.
"Having fun?" Snippy asked wearily as he flopped down on the sofa next to Engie.
Engie shifted sideways a bit, snapping the book he was reading shut almost guiltily. "Yes, as a matter of fact. Did you get beans?"
"No. I'm sick of beans. Potted meat this time; let's hope it hasn't gone off." Snippy peered over at the cover of the battered and worn textbook. "'The Human Anatomy'. Huh. Good reading?"
"Thrilling." Engie shoved the book down the side of the sofa cushion. "What are you giving me that look for?"
"You're actually reading up on this doctor stuff?" Snippy asked.
"Someone has to do it," Engie replied. "And since I'm probably more intelligent than all three of you put together – what, it's true! – I believe I am the most suited. There's also the fact that Captain seems to expect me to be a fully qualified physician."
"Suit yourself," Snippy scoffed.
Engie's eyebrows furrowed. "You'd do well not to be so derisive, considering you are the one who seems to get injured the most," he pointed out.
"I'm hardly going to let you experiment on me," Snippy shot back.
"Suit yourself. Just wait until you break something, then you'll come running right back to me."
Ultimately, it was Pilot who broke something first, and it happened in the most ridiculous way.
Captain's latest insane objective had been to build the world's biggest rubber band ball, so for the last few weeks the four of them had been wandering around gathering up elastic bands. To be fair, it was quite impressive to see the massive sphere grow and grow... until one day a sudden gust of wind sent it rolling away down a hill.
Pilot gave chase, grabbed for it, and managed to get his arm caught under one of the bands. The next turn of the ball as it rolled wrenched his arm forward and twisted it around with a sickening crack.
The whole affair ended in tears, with the ball falling apart, rubber bands raining down everywhere, and a sniffling Pilot sitting in the middle of the mess with his arm at an odd angle.
"Right!" Engie rubbed his hands together and tried not to look too gleeful. He was no sadist, but he did intend to take the opportunity to put his theoretic knowledge into practice... and to be perfectly honest, he was relishing the fact that Captain now had to face up to the drama and pain his plans often caused.
"Why! This ball is a great and powerful weapon." Captain looked around with interest. "We must reassemble it to use against our enemies. It shall be named the Bonebreaker."
"Shouldn't we be focusing on Pilot right now?" Engie asked.
Captain nodded. "Yes, Mr Engie, but that is your field of expertise. Go, go, don't just stand there! Fix your fellow minion."
Setting the bone was easier said than done... and definitely not as easy as text books made it out to be. Without painkillers and having only makeshift materials with which to bind the broken limb, it was painful for all parties involved.
"Are you sure you did that right?" Snippy commented when they'd finally got the arm bound to an improvised splint. Pilot, who seemed rather shellshocked, let out a low whimper and the Sniper absently patted his shoulder. Captain produced a lollypop seemingly out of nowhere and handed it over.
"It's the best I can do with what we have," Engie snapped. "We don't exactly have a cast. Let's just hope the bone resets properly without any complications."
Fate seemed to be on their side for once, because it did. Engie wasn't sure what he would have done if it hadn't.
"Stop the bleeding, stop the bleeding!"
Engie could feel his heart pounding away in his ears as he pressed down on the wound, his arms coated up to the elbows in blood. Snippy jerked under his ministrations, a semi-conscious hiss of pain escaping him.
How could a simple mission have gone wrong so quickly?
There really must have been a curse of Snippy going for supplies, because the supermarket had looked empty until a hostile waste-lander jumped them from the shadows, knifing the sniper before Pilot managed to take him down.
"Engie, do something!" Pilot said frantically.
It was odd, Engie mused, how the Pilot had been so nonchalant after the diving board incident, yet right now was working himself into a panicked frenzy. It was probably the blood – God, there was so much of it, and it was making him feel light-headed-
"Calm down!" Someone shouted, and then Engie realised it was himself. Taking a deep breath, he pressed the bundled up jacket more firmly against the wound (that jacket would never be white again) and forced himself to think rationally.
"Pilot, go find the Captain," he ordered.
Pilot skittered to his feet and left, and Engie instantly regretted the order. What if there were more raiders lurking around? He glanced at Snippy's fallen rifle – no idea how to use that – and decided that he couldn't worry about that right now.
"Okay. Charles. Stay with me," he muttered. The bleeding seeming to have slowed, he took a chance and lifted the jacket to take a look. It didn't seem too deep. Maybe it was just a flesh wound. Snippy had hit his head falling over; that might explain the lack of consciousness.
Okay... okay. All the reading in the world couldn't prepare him for being thrust into the deep end like this. If it's just a flesh wound, the most I need to worry about is blood loss and infection, right? He hit his head, so maybe a concussion... in which case he shouldn't be sleeping.
"Wake up. Charles. Snippy!" He tapped on the side of Snippy's face a few times, then when that didn't work, slapped him quite hard.
Snippy's eyes opened groggily, blue clouded over with pain. "Gromov-!" he broke off with a cry of pain, and Engie pressed down with the jacket again as blood spurted from the wound.
"Hold still, idiot! You're bleeding."
"Ow... ah... shit that hurts..."
"I know. Just stay with me. Captain's on his way."
Snippy squeezed his eyes shut. "You're a crappy doctor."
There was a tense silence.
"You'd better not have ruined my jacket," Snippy said weakly.
Engie let out a shaky laugh.
The incident was a wake-up call for all of them.
Engie spent nights creeping out to find more books that hadn't been burned or otherwise destroyed in the apocalypse, terrified out of his wits that something would attack him on his journeys, and days reading up on things, examining skeletal remains and trying to learn something, anything that would keep him from feeling so helpless again.
There was one terrifying moment when they thought Pilot had appendicitis.
It turned out to be indigestion.
The Captain's luck never seemed to run out, and of the four of them he was the only one who never seemed to end up getting injured.
There was only one occasion when Engie had cause to treat their leader. They were travelling in a part of the wasteland rather more ash-ridden than the others, snow drifting down from the overhanging clouds and the air so smoke-filled and polluted that none of them dared take their respirators off.
In the midst of this zone was a pond, frozen over with ice, the reflection of the clouds overhead shimmering on its surface. Surrounded by the grey, dead ground and scattered skeletons, it was unexpectedly beautiful.
Captain stepped out onto the ice. "A glorious day for skating!" he declared, and set forth gliding about on the ice.
Pilot, of course, followed him, but for lack of ice skates fell over instantly and began to slide around on his belly.
Snippy and Engie stood by the side of the pond in reasonably companionable silence. The Captain, despite not having ice skates either, still seemed able to move around surprisingly gracefully.
Of course, things couldn't go this peacefully for long.
With a horrible cracking noise, the ice beneath the Captain broke. One second he was standing in the middle of the pond, the next he had vanished with a large splash and a fountain of ice cold water.
They stood frozen for a moment, staring in shock.
"Captain!" Pilot screeched, and began to scramble forward on the ice towards the hole. "Captaaaain!"
"Pilot, don't, you'll fall in!" There was a tinge of panic in Snippy's voice as he ran forward, slipped, and face-planted onto the ice, crawling forward the rest of the way to grab Pilot before he could fall in as well.
"Where is he?" Engie shouted, coming around the side of the pond.
"I can't see him." Snippy leaned closer towards the hole, Pilot grasping onto the back of his jacket. "Go get a stick!"
Engie cast about and caught sight of a convenient stick. Picking it up, he slid it across the ice to Snippy, who plunged it into the water and poked around.
"Captain!" the sniper called out. "Cap- whoah!" He lurched forward as something tugged on the stick, Pilot's grip tightening on his jacket.
"Pull it out!" Engie called, and watched as the two of them scrambled backwards, heaving on the stick. Finally it emerged from the water, a sodden Captain holding on to it with one hand and grasping his mug with the other.
"Look!" Captain announced, seemingly unfazed, as he climbed out onto solid ice. He raised his mug, which was filled with water and had what seemed to be a fish tail sticking out of it. "I have caught a most scrumptious beastie."
Pilot and Snippy, who were sprawled on the ice gasping, stared up at him, speechless. Pilot was first to recover, bouncing to his feet with a cry of "Are you alright, Captain?"
"What? I am perfectly fine." Captain tilted his head. "Naturally."
Snippy face-palmed and crawled off the ice back to less perilous terrain, the other two following. Engie wandered back over to them, shaking his head at the uncanny luck and resilience of their Captain.
"Let's make a fire, I'm freezing," he grumbled.
"An excellent idea," Captain agreed. He was drenched, water dripping from his coat and the brim of his hat.
Pilot and Snippy walked off to look for wood, leaving Engie standing next to Captain. They were close enough to each other that Engie could feel the Captain shivering slightly beside him. He glanced over, but Captain was happily fiddling with the fish in his mug and appeared nonplussed.
Perhaps I should offer him my jacket, Engie thought.
But then I'll be cold! The inherently selfish part of his mind added.
Ten weeks ago he wouldn't have hesitated to keep the jacket, but time spent in the others' company had softened him. Despite his firm resolve to stick with the Captain for the purposes of survival only, it was impossible to live in such solitude with only three other people and not form some sort of bond.
"...you may have my coat, if you wish," he said stiffly.
Captain turned and looked at him, the stare from those purple goggles making Engie feel like a bug pinned down under a microscope.
"Well?" Engie asked gruffly.
"How chivalrous of you, Mr Engie!" Captain exclaimed. "But my own coat is perfectly adequate. In fact, it is more awesome than yours."
"Fine." Feeling inexplicably embarrassed, Engie turned away and started trudging in the general direction Snippy and Pilot had gone. "Don't blame me when you end up with hypothermia," he muttered under his breath.
"I defy hypothermia," Captain said cheerfully.
Engie stopped walking and held one hand up to his face. "You might be blessed with the most uncanny luck I've ever seen, Seven, but in the end you're only human like the rest of us," he snapped.
There was a moment of frigid silence.
Engie wondered where that outburst had come from. Letting out a huff of breath, he shook his head again and kept walking. I haven't thought of him as 'Seven' in... how long? When did he start being 'Captain' to me?
Captain was uncharacteristically quiet.
The two of them sat down and waited for the others to return. There was an uneasy silence hanging about them, broken only by the occasional splash of the fish.
"Engineer, your service has been most commendable thus far," Captain said suddenly.
Engie sighed. "Just take the damn jacket," he growled, stripping it off and throwing it into Captain's lap.
It wasn't long before Snippy and Pilot returned, and nightfall found the four of them huddling around a campfire and trying to stop Pilot from getting too close and setting alight. There was a nasty moment when the water in the mug started to boil and they had to throw the fish back in the pond to stop it being cooked alive.
Engie woke up the next morning to find that a certain someone had decided it would be amusing to swap his, Pilot's and Snippy's jackets around. He kept an eye on Captain for the rest of the day, but nothing further was said about the incident and he seemed none the worse for wear.
It seemed he really was just that lucky.
Over the next few weeks the catalogue of injuries increased. Pilot sprained his toe, Snippy managed to fall off a cliff twice (once was acceptable, twice was just getting ridiculous), Pilot got beaten up by a raider, Photoshop sat on Snippy, Engie was attacked by a wild, mutated dog and spent a week panicking about the possibility of catching rabies (he didn't)...
Captain roused them all early one morning and made Engie take "the Hippopotamus Oath", which he did grudgingly while trying to ignore Snippy's sniggers at the "warmth, sympathy and understanding" part.
And so it was that this chain of events led up to Engie standing over his latest patient, preparing to do an operation, the likes of which he had never anticipated before.
"Pilot, I don't know how to fix him."
"But you have to!" Pilot cried. He flung himself down at Engie's feet, hands grasping at the bottom of the engineer's coat. "You can't let him die!"
"I don't know how-"
"You have to try!" Pilot was near tears by now. Engie hopelessly glanced over at Snippy. They made eye contact, but the sniper's expression was hidden beneath his mask.
Engie bit his lip. "Fine," he said. "Fine. I need a needle and thread," he ordered Snippy. "And tweezers, and a flat surface."
Snippy obeyed. Pilot hovered beside Engie, wringing his hands, and pausing every now and then to glare over at Photoshop.
"I can't believe you, Photoshop!" he said tearfully. "How could you... if he dies, I shall never forgive you!"
"Okay. Let's get started," Engie said.
Pilot winced loudly with every stitch of the needle. The whole process took a grand total of three hours, whereupon Engie put down the instruments, cracked his knuckles, and said "That's all I can do."
Pilot snatched up Mr Kittyhawk, now slightly squishy from lost stuffing and sporting several rows of stitches, and hugged him close to his chest.
"Oh Kittyhawk! I thought I'd really lost you!" he cried, then reached forward and hugged Engie too.
The engineer stood stiffly for a moment before awkwardly patting Pilot's back. "Just keep him away from Photoshop from now on. And stop hugging me now."
Pilot let go of him and pranced off with his arms outstretched, making aeroplane noises.
Engie rubbed the back of his neck, feeling a crick forming. He glanced over to see Snippy still watching him.
"Where'd you learn to sew?" Snippy asked, sounding vaguely amused.
Engie felt his face flush. "Shut up. It wasn't difficult to figure out. Don't come crying to me next time you need stitches."
"I never come crying to you."
"No, you just sit there expectantly and wait for me to patch up whatever injury you manage to acquire," Engie snorted. "Face it, you three would be lost without me."
He expected a retort, but Snippy tilted his head thoughtfully, presumably considering the numerous occasions when Engie had fulfilled his role as 'team medic'.
"I suppose we kind of would," the sniper said grudgingly, and Engie knew that was as close to a "good job" as he was going to get.
The engineer-cum-doctor smirked.
Reviews and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated. Be brutally honest with me, folks. I can take it.
A/N: Plot? What plot? This is a random collection of injuries! 3 Snippy wounds, 2 Pilot, 1 Captain... I'd say that's a reasonably fair distribution of whump XD
Thanks for reading :)