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A Matter of Pride

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From the moment he heard the rumor of the Medic taking on a female helper to aid in his never-ending stream of work, the Scout knew he had to check her out by any means necessary. But, he could not just simply appear in the infirmary without some sort of problem lest he get turned away at the door. So, he made attempts to make himself sick, but the common cold was just not coming out of thin air in the middle of a hot July. No, the Scout had to make an even more desperate attempt—and he found it by way of angering a certain Heavy.

So, there he was, smiling smugly to himself as he sat on the edge of the examination table, his right eye swollen shut and in a disgusting shade of purple. (In fact, the Scout was lucky one punch was all his Russian comrade would give him for his efforts.) The regular Medic, of course, would find a simple blackened eye too minute to deal with, thus handing the patient over to his assistant.

Just as planned.

The Scout’s head perked up as the door to the exam room creaked open and he immediately began rocking his dangling legs in excitement. But, before he could utter any flirtatious remark, his smile drooped. There, in the doorway stood the female Medic, but she had surely not lived up to the dream version the Scout had planted in his own mind. Granted, she was still a very lovely lady, with her dark hair neatly pulled back in a bun, her glasses lingering over the bridge of her nose, and her uniform snugly hugging all the right spots in a neat manner. There was still something off-putting about the woman that made him feel all sorts of wrong for even considering having a fantasy about her.

“Lost a fight, have we?” she finally spoke, interrupting his thoughts as she neared the Scout, medical chart in-hand.

“Uh, yeah, I guess you could say that,” he murmured in retort. Suddenly, the boy did not feel like bragging about how he earned the shiner despite his conquests being the first thing he would announce to the opposite sex.

She grasped the Scout’s chin, turning his head toward the light for better viewing, giving a soft hum as she did so. It made him blush slightly despite the gentle touch.

“Well, from the looks of it, you don’t seem to be in danger of dying, so that’s a good sign. But, you’re going to have some swelling for awhile.” The Medic took to her chart once more, jotting down a few notes before moving towards the door, opening it and disappearing as quickly as she had entered, leaving the Scout to stare at it in a dumbfounded manner.

She returned a few moments later with an ice pack in-hand and carefully applied it to the boy’s swollen eye. He gave a slight gasp as the chill of the bag touched his warm skin, but it was not entirely uncomfortable and the Scout found himself relaxing against it. The Medic gave another hum of approval as she grabbed the boy’s hand and moved it to the ice pack, persuading him to hold the thing himself. She then gave a soft pat to his shoulder and provided a warm smile, something that caught the Scout off-guard and he quickly realized what was so off-putting about the woman by way of the very next thing that spilled from his mouth without thought.

“Thanks, Ma.”

He nearly dropped the ice pack as their eyes met. All the pieces came together. It finally made sense; the Scout had just compared the female Medic to his own mother.

His free hand began waving frantically as his face looked something akin to a tomato in color. “No, wait, I didn’t mean that! I, uh… That is to say… You remind me of my ma. Wait, no, I ain’t callin’ you old or nothin’! Ah, shit---I mean shoot! Shoot! Sorry…” The Scout gave a sigh of frustration and rubbed the back of his neck in a nervous gesture, eyes finding themselves staring at the floor.

The Medic merely looked on with a raised eyebrow as the boy went off on his tangent, but her features would remain soft and understanding. She then broke the awkward silence with a laugh and patted him on the shoulder once more and moved the ice pack back to his bruised skin.

“Do you miss her?” she spoke calmly, her focus on her work.

“I, uh—she ain’t dead,” he stammered, feeling a bit taken back.

The Medic nodded, her eyes traveling back to the Scout’s. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. But, you do miss her, don’t you?”

The boy frowned and would have lowered his chin had it not been for the ice pack on his eye. His shoulders shrugged and he found himself looking at his bandaged hands. Anyone else on the planet would have gotten a verbal beat-down for infringing on his personal life—the Spy, especially—but here, he felt he could lower his walls of caution.

“Yeah—I mean, yes, ma’am.”

“I can tell,” she replied with another slight nod, “I’ve got two children of my own.” The Medic leaned back with a sigh. “The things we do for the sake of family, right? I’m pretty sure you aren’t the type to just waste your earnings with someone back home to take care of.”

The Scout thought briefly about the time he spent all of his savings on memorabilia that might never be worth the money he put into it. He blushed a bit and gave his own sigh. His mother had been so let down, and the boy did all he could in his power to earn both her trust and their savings again. It was a hard road, but battling Grey Mann and his robots reaped better benefits now than before; however, Ma’s trust would be a whole different ballgame altogether.

“I’m tryin’,” he finally spoke, feeling rather ashamed of himself. His fingers knotted together in his lap and a leg bounced against the examination table.

“It’s the best you can do,” the female responded with another kind smile, as if she could read the Scout’s thoughts and emotions. He had to wonder if she was also skilled in psychology as well. She was not the average cold-hearted Medic that was only interested in opening things up and patching them together again. It was…nice.

“Ya said ya got kids?” he spoke as he cleared his throat nervously.

“Yes,” the lady Medic nodded, her eyes glazed over with thought of her children. Her face could only be described as beaming with pride. “Twelve and eight. They are my life.”

“Oh. Well…ya really don’t look old enough ta—“

She playfully slapped the boy on the arm. “You be quiet about that, considering you just compared me to your mother, though I’m sure she’s a very lovely woman.”

“Sorry. They,” He paused, feeling sheepish and finished in a whisper, “They got a…a dad?”

The woman nodded her head. “My husband’s a very good man. He’s the one who chose to stay home so I could pursue my career.”

“I see. Good for them.” The male took a breath and released in a sigh. “Mine’s gone.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. It must be hard.”

The Scout puffed up his chest and clenched his fists, “I can take care of myself and my Ma. We don’t need no one else—not even that damn Spy…”

The Medic raised an eyebrow, but relaxed her face, moving towards the boy to lift his hat up and plant a soft kiss on his forehead. He blinked with his good eye and stared at her, confused.

“You’re a good son and a good man. You’ll do your mother proud.”

She quickly enveloped the youth in an embrace as his shoulders shook and the tears pooled over his eyelids though he bit his lip in a futile attempt to hold everything back. The ice pack fell upon the table with a dull clunk. He allowed the Medic to navigate his cheek against her shoulder, where he melted into her and the floodgates could hold no longer. They remained this way for a good while until the Scout’s cries were merely hiccups, and then, the female moved him upright by way of grasping his shoulders. Her face was nothing short of the very essence of warmth.

“Nobody’s ever said that ta me before,” the Scout finally murmured. “It’s nice.”

The Medic gave a soft chuckle, “It’s true. Times are tough, but you’ll be just fine. I’ll bet your mother is very proud of you and happy to have you as her son. Now,” she clapped her hands together, “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

“Okay,” he sniffed, using his bandages to wipe away the remaining wet trails on his cheeks, “Thanks.”

“Anytime,” she replied, ushering the Scout to a sink to wash his face, which he did with vigor. The Medic gave his shoulder another reassuring pat, and then gently pressed him towards the exit. “Knock ‘em dead, kiddo.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he responded, adjusting his hat and headset and giving her the traditional Scout smirk of confidence before closing the door behind him, ready to take on the world.