Character/Pairing: Scout/Miss Pauling, Medic, various birds
Author's note: From a request by Waffleasaurus.
The metal panel was pulled back, with all the wires exposed. For once, the lights weren't flashing with the constant surveillance. The screen above was dark, a slight crack going through the left corner.
"Smells weird," Scout said.
Above the smell of disinfectant, there was a strange scent she couldn't quite place. Not the rotten egg smell of methane, the bitterness of coolant, or the nauseous odor of gasoline.
"I don't think there was a leak, and there's no gas lines in this area for a reason, and Pyro isn't allowed past this area," she said. Without thinking, she wiped her hands on her dress, effectively ruining it. She sighed and stared up at the ceiling. So far the matches had been put to a grinding halt, the cooling had gone out Dustbowl, and she was the first in line of defense against gears and schematics which made next to no sense to her.
So, yes. The day was going wonderfully.
She'd attempted to take the proper lessons from Engineer to keep things in oder, along with the other things she'd learned to keep things running smoothly at TFI, but she could say without a doubt that mechanics were not her forte. She could write up a complex contract in a night, she could watch over nine of the most troublesome men in all of Badlands, but give her a wrench and she'd do more harm than good.
Still, with a problem in front of her and Engineer miles away, and she couldn't let it alone. Her perfectionism demanded action. She wiped the sweat from her brow with the back of her hand. He held the instruction booklet, his hand shaking slightly as he tried to stay bent over for her. Even with something as simple as this, he couldn't stay still.
"Smells weird," Scout said more insistently.
"Yes, Scout. I heard you the first time," she said between gritted teeth. "I can smell it as well."
It was out of the corner of her eye that she saw the sparking wire, perhaps the trouble to all their mainframe issues, or the unidentifiable smell. But he was the one who acted first, pushing her far across the room as the spark ignited in a flash of red gold. Flames licked at the controls, wiring popping in their wake.
She coughed, barely able to see through the smoke haze. After the scream, she hadn't heard a thing outside of the ringing in her ears. She pushed herself up and elbowed through the glass of the fire extinguisher holder. Lifting it almost made her topple with its weight, but she held steady and began to spray white cloudy substance all over the flames.
Not enough. Not nearly enough.
Through the flames, she reached for him. She began to drag him towards the door, unwilling to give him up. Even as the heat and pain began to assault her senses and the smoke left her dazed, she kept on moving away from the flames.
Without the backup generator and the Medigun in Medic's office, Scout would've been beyond repair. She had a few minor burns bandaged over her arms and treated with the high australium content medicine which the men used, but he had damage comparable to a close-range Pyro attack.
The sheets were pulled high, bandages extending down his arms and over his chest and neck. The IV draped around the metal frame of the gurney. His eyes were half-lidded. Even if he'd woken, he hadn't become fully lucid. She waved her hand in front of his face.
"You smell like...pancakes," he said dreamily.
"Has he proved difficult now that he's back to consciousness?"
"Nein, I just give him more morphine whenever that happens and the screaming usually stops," Medic said. "I'm thinking about implementing it even after he recovers."
Scout let out another happy sigh.
"Medic, you're standing on the button again," she said.
He glanced at Scout, and leaned in a moment before stepping off. "Whoops," he said.
I mean to do it, he whispered it to Archimedes, who had come to rest on his shoulder.
Miss Pauling sighed. "Medic, we had this discussion when you prescribed alcohol for Demoman's mood swings. We had this conversation again when you prescribed 'birds' for Sniper's insomnia," she said.
"He and Sir Hootsalot are very happy together. They drink coffee together all night long," Medic said.
"That's not the point," Miss Pauling said. "We have enough addicts here. We don't need another one."
"Nothing wrong with a little morphine. I was a doctor once, I should know," he said with a laugh.
"Yes, you should know how dangerous and addictive it is," she said.
"Feeding time!" He said, cheerily ignoring her. Several birds landed on his shoulder as he opened up the fridge. While his back was turned, she checked under the covers make sure Scout wasn't missing any kidneys again. Last time an orderly had gone to visit the good doctor, several of their organs had gone missing. The orderly in question had been slated for execution anyways, but it'd still been an inconvenience.
She slipped in something, her heel catching on something sticky. She looked down and inspected her heel, and the thick, dark substance still couldn't be identified. Frankly, she didn't want to know. With a visible shudder of revulsion, she put her heel back down.
Why hadn't the maid cleaned it up?
Oh, that was right. She had to kill the last maid and hired a new one. She was always losing track of which faculty members she'd buried in a shallow crave and covered with quicklime and which ones she hadn't yet.
She looked back to ask a question, only to find that Medic was putting a tiny argyle sweater on Archimedes. Knowing that asking anything more would be fruitless with birds in tiny sweaters taking up Medic's focus, she instead returned her attention to Scout.
"Pancakes and pretty Paulie and...I'mmmm in heaven..." His voice was dreamy, not quite connected.
"You nearly landed yourself in heaven," she said.
Or maybe purgatory or hell would be a better fit. His file said he'd been expelled straight out of St. Catherine's School For Boys, after all.
Scout smiled at her. "Already there."
"Medic, you didn't take special brownies from the hippies again and share them with Scout, did you? You know talking with hippies is forbidden."
"Nein. I wouldn't know where you got that idea," Medic said, wiping chocolate crumbs from the side of his mouth.
"Of course you didn't," she said under her breath.
Even with the Medigun, he'd been in rough shape. Red light shone down on him from whatever machines the good doctor had made this time. She gently rested her hand on the metal frame of the gurney.
"You'll have a bunch of new scars," she said.
"Yeah, I'm scar-y awesome," he said.
She cleared her throat. "I brought you something."
She pulled out a plastic container of waffles she'd made just before she arrived. Real maple syrup sloshed from side to side, turning the clear surface a golden brown.
"Daamnnn, pancake angel, you're my favorite," Scout said.
"They aren't pancakes, but a waffle iron was all I had," she said. "You're always talking about them, so—"
"You sweet on me, pancake angel Paulie?"
"Consider it the apology for the stint in rehab you're about to go through while the upgrades and repair on the mainframe continue."
She cut up the pieces of waffle into bite sized pieces. His right arm had an IV in it, so she lifted the fork to his mouth. Syrup dripped down his face. She wiped it away with a napkin. He ate fast, taking bite after bite with a look of such bliss that she had to check beneath her feet to make sure she wasn't stepping on the button.
"Real syrupp...love you...pancakes."
"They're waffles, but close enough in your state, I suppose," she said.
She took one last look back towards the edge of the infirmary. However, far be it from a smirking and knowing look, Medic wasn't paying attention to her at all. He had Heavy's bird perched on his arm, and wearing a matching argyle sweater. On the table right beside uncleaned surgical instruments were some small tea cups. Medic was watching with pure rapturous joy as the birds drank tea.
She began to speak in an undertone, low enough for only Scout to hear. "I'm a perfectionist. I just couldn't wait and let it be, and I'm sorry you got hurt because of that. If you hadn't been there, I would've gotten myself killed."
"Yeah, you're perfect all right. Perfectly pancake."
"I don't even know what that means, and I'm fairly sure you don't either...but, thank you," she said.
There were many things on the tip of her tongue. It isn't the same working without you. and despite it all, I find myself...missing you. She said none of them. By all means she shouldn't be here, shouldn't be letting herself fall this far.
But it was to late to regret what had already long begun.
"Everything is gonna be all right," he said.
She wondered if it was a lucid moment, but that was dispelled when he mouthed pancake angel.
On the other side of the room, Medic was putting very tiny top hats on the birds. The clock on the wall ticked slowly.
"...I have to get back to work," she said.
He took her hand in his and squeezed it.
"Scout..." she said.
He lifted her hand and kissed the knuckles, even despite obvious pain coming across his face.
Still, she stayed there, his cracked lips against her wrist. At the juncture of life and death, she made a choice. If it meant breaking the rules, the so be it.
"I—" She cleared her throat again. "...You aren't going to remember a thing when this is over," she said. But even in your least lucid moment, you're charming me.
"I'll see you when your recovery is complete. I trust that Medic will have you as good as new with all your internal organs intact," she said, loud enough for Medic to hear as well.
She continued in a lower tone. "...and when that happens, I'll cook for you for real. I'll buy a griddle and everything. You can request whatever you want...blueberry pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes. I'll make dozens if that's what you want."
"It's a date," he said.
She chuckled, despite herself. "It's a date," she said softly.
She walked out to the sound of the clock ticking away.