Five Reasons To Loathe
Sanjay Alim stared at his computer screen with distaste and wondered if he could ignore the reminder for another few days. Two Turks and one SOLDIER had died during his shifts in the past month, and Hojo was demanding the usual – disturbingly so – in-depth reports from his shift notes. Nothing was supposed to stand in the way of building better… whatever they were supposed to be, automatons or soldiers or cannon fodder for ShinRa, so he had best get the unpleasant task over with as soon as possible and hope he had better luck next month. To think that he was already disillusioned with aspects of his new job in under a year… he should have listened to his mother before signing the contract, but he still believed that there was some good that could come out of working for the Shinra Electrical Power Company.
He had just started on the report when Allison IM’ed him that ‘Investigation Division of the Department of General Affairs’ was sending down a new recruit for a medical evaluation. He barely had time to acknowledge the message before a file was delivered in his inbox, a bare-bones background on the candidate to give him an idea of what tests were to be ordered once the suicidal idiot showed up in Medical. There was a beginnings of a headache in the front of his forehead as he opened the file, but as the newest doctor on staff, there was no way for him to turn down the task; he always got stuck with the recruits since the rest of the staff did not want to deal with the Turks and SOLDIERs most likely to be killed off in the upcoming months.
This one did not look at all likely to last very long; he was left wondering if the poor soul was being hired for a specific mission or something, or as a practical joke. He noted the sparse comments on the recruit’s background and previous ‘profession’, decided on the appropriate course of blood work, immunization, and the such, printed out the report and his notes, and waited for Allison to notify him that the recruit was ready in one of the exam rooms.
When he first stepped into the room, he immediately thought that his eyes were playing tricks on him. Then he next thought that either the Turks or his fellow doctors were the ones playing the trick on him. "Okay, get your ass out of here, since I don’t have any time to waste on practical jokes," he told the malnourished kid sitting on the exam table.
The kid pushed the pale blue cotton gown that was sliding off both of his bony shoulders back up and glared at him through the tangled red bangs falling over his blueish-green eyes. "Fuckin’ na’ a joke, ya asshole. Wanna see me brea’ ya kneecaps a’ somethin’?" The Below-Plate accent sounded authentic, and while the kid barely looked able to pass for thirteen years old, Alim had been around enough Turks to recognize that dangerous stillness that usually had the more experienced doctors pull him back from harm’s way. He stared at the kid in amazement for a few seconds, unwilling to comprehend that the Turks had actually sent such a young recruit to be examined before the required training period, even if he had seen some almost this young for the SOLDIER program.
His question was first answered with a sarcastic roll of the eyes and a loud snort. "Yeah. Though’ ya doctors were supposed ta be smart. Who else is gonna be sittin’ here waitin’ for ya ass, eh?" The kid stretched his arms up over his head and popped his spine, no longer possessing a dangerous air, but one bored and condescending. Alim’s eyes narrowed as he stared at a brat who had to be at least half his age and weight, and who most likely would not survive the upcoming year, and once again felt that this had to be some sort of joke. If Reno was not being hired for some sort of one-shot mission – most likely to give a fatal venereal disease to a target – then perhaps his coworkers were not past the phase of ‘let’s torment the newbie’. Hell, for all he knew, it was a mixture of both.
"Well, then, far be it for such a dim fellow like me to hold up someone as important as yourself," Alim snapped as he set the thin folder he had brought with him down near the waiting tray of prepared hypodermics that had been left based on his instructions. "We might as well get started, since I’m sure checking you for every sexually transmitted disease known to mankind and then some is going to take quite a while." He did not normally trade insults with patients, but he felt he was owed a rare slip in professional composure after the way this brat had rattled him.
Reno glared and muttered under his breath what was certain to be insults or threats in that near-indecipherable gutter dialect the entire time Alim drew blood, got him up to date on his immunization (hell, it was probably the first time in the kid’s life that he had ever been given any type of immunization shots) and conducted one of the most uncooperative physicals in his career. So he should have known something was up when he checked the kid’s mouth and throat. Granted, he did not need to apply quite so much pressure to Reno’s lower jaw to keep it open, his thumb pressing down on the kid’s lip/teeth as much as the thin wooden tongue depressor. He was just about to pull the depressor out when the brat snapped his teeth – which were in surprisingly good shape for Reno never having seen a dentist in his whole life – shut with crushing force.
Alim let out a yell as those teeth bit through the thin rubber glove on his thumb and into flesh, and almost smacked Reno to get him to let go before his thumb was released. As he jumped back with his bleeding thumb held cradled to his chest, the damn brat smirked – lips smeared with blood.
"Sorry, though’ ya were a customer o’ mine fo’ a minute. He’s inta me bitin’ ‘im. Real kinky bastard. Ya could be twins."
Granted, he had not been practicing medicine for very long, but Alim had yet to come closer to breaking his sworn oath to never do harm to his patients until that moment. He considered a barrage of tests he could order on the smirking brat, the pain from his thumb and the shots that he would have to get as a precaution now, thanks to whatever diseases Reno may be harboring and decided that it would be in the best interest in everyone involved if he declared this particular Turk recruit cleared for training. With any luck, Reno would be dead by the end of his first mission and no one would ever care that his entrance physical had never been completed. Alim allowed himself a few seconds’ venomous glare at the brat before he gathered up his notes and the collected samples, then left the room before had to explain to Veld how the man’s newest recruit had ended up throttled to death.
"Aw, I can’t believe that they sent you there! Isn’t that against some rules?"
Alim left his office to find out what, or who, the nurses were fussing over, only to feel his headache worsen when he found out the cause. Sitting in an open exam room was the person he was beginning to think of as the bane of his existence, currently the youngest Turk to be found in ShinRa headquarters, Reno. Why the redheaded bastard could not live up to mostly everyone’s expectations and die on a mission one day, he had not the slightest clue, but the kid was like a cockroach in that he survived almost anything.
"I believe that everyone has duties that they need to perform?" he snapped at the gathering of nurses as he snatched a chart from Maureen’s hands, giving it a quick glance to check Reno’s condition rather than face what he was sure were disappointed or upset glances from the staff at being shooed away from one of their favorite patients. It must be a maternal thing or something, as most of the female staff had fallen under Reno’s sway since he had become a Turk and fussed over him as if he were their son or younger brother. Alim did his best not think of why some of the male staff fussed over the redhead…. Maureen hovered by the bed to assist him and accepted the chart back once he was done with it. "So according to what you’ve told your partner and the staff here, I don’t see the need for any medical attention other than a wrap for your left wrist, followed by a period of icing it and some rest." He dared the kid to argue with him, not about to hand over any pain medication without extensive tests, nor to let Reno milk any time off of work for a minor injury.
To his surprise, the kid did not attempt to argue with him. "Eh, Rude’s jus’ bein’ paranoid." Reno shrugged as he held up his left wrist, which did look a little swollen and abraded. He had put on some weight since joining the Turks, but was still on the scrawny side, the bones of his wrists protruding more than on most people. "Tol’ him it’s normal for people ta be smacked around a bi’ atta place like ta Red Whip."
Alim did not recognize the name of the place, but judging from the furious blush that spread over Maureen’s face, and the salacious grin over Reno’s bruised one, he assumed that it was probably a less than savory business that the Turks had cause to patronize from time to time and decided to not ask any more questions. He also decided to take Reno at his word about the injuries and set about bandaging the kid’s wrist, telling himself that any undue pressure he applied was to make sure that Reno was not putting on a ‘brave’ face. Judging that the wrist was only slightly sprained, he did put a note in the kid’s file for light duty for the next several days before sending him home.
He did not think much else of the case, as the rest of his shift was busy, until he was standing in the break room with Dr. Sherman as they waited for a pot of coffee to finish brewing. As he stood there, he put his hands in the pockets of his white coat and realized that something metallic had been dangling out. He pulled it out and held it up to exam it, at first not surprised to see the clamps at the one end of the chains, but puzzled by the thin leather collar. He was trying to make sense of it all when Dr. Sherman cleared his throat in a loud manner and motioned at the strange contraption.
"Look, what you do on your own time is your personal business, but do *not* bring such things to work again." Once that was said, the man left the room without waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.
Alim stared after him, now confused over the device in his hand, how it had come into his possession and what had caused such a reaction on Dr. Sherman’s part. Of course, as soon as Dr. Adams had walked into the room and burst into shocked laughter, he began to have some suspicions as to what was going on and why, which of course led to who was responsible for the whole mess. Not that he could ever get the redheaded bastard to confess to anything, or for his superiors and half the staff to believe that he was not into bondage in his spare time.
Alim responded to the emergency tones that rang through Medical by rushing out of his office to the main waiting area, only to see over a dozen Turks and what had to be all of Hojo’s staff begin to pour into room. "What’s going on?"
"Hojo’s trying some new serum, and I guess some of the poor guys are having reactions," Dr. Adams informed him in a quiet voice, his normally cheerful expression carefully blank as they watched the Turks stumble and weave about as if drunk. All of the Medical staff stayed out of the Turks’ way, uncertain if they should offer help and risk any danger to themselves while the affects of whatever Hojo had done were unknown. The doctor himself stood by the door to Medical, his eyes hawkish as he watched his victims stagger about, while an obviously furious and concerned Veld was by his side.
"What are we supposed to do?" one of the nurses asked Dr. Sherman, and was told to start ushering the affected Turks to exam rooms where they could be observed while the effects of… whatever Hojo had given them worked through their systems. While a nurse tried to lead Michael to a room, he lashed out with a sluggish speed that had more to do with aggression than agility and knocked the poor woman halfway across the room. Hojo motioned for the Turk to be removed from Medical and returned to his own research lab while the tension among Alim’s fellow coworkers increased.
Alim was about to assist Allison with a badly dazed Cyn when someone bumped into him from behind. He turned to find out that it was Reno; the redhead was flushed and sweaty, his odd-colored eyes almost glowing as if in reaction to a Mako injection. Reno appeared to be attempting to run away, so Alim grabbed hold of his arms to prevent that, as well as to keep himself from being hit. "Stay here and you’ll feel better." He did his best to sound as soothing as possible.
Reno stared at him for a few seconds, making him think that the kid was actually listening to him. Just as he was about to let go and turn Reno around in the direction of an open exam room, the damn brat made a retching noise and threw up all over Alim’s chest. It was not the first time he had been thrown up on, but whatever had been in Reno’s system was *vile* enough to almost promote a similar reaction from him in return, along with a sense of annoyance that of *course* Reno had to single him out for such an honor. He almost found himself yelling at the kid, when Reno began to shudder and go into convulsions.
At some point, Hojo had left his station at the door to come to Alim’s side, along with several assistants. "Take him back to lab," Hojo told them as he pointed at Reno, who was instantly picked up and carried out of the room. Alim watched the redhead go with a sense of relief, and was in the process of going to his office for a change of clothes before assisting his coworkers when he found himself grabbed by the left arm and dragged in the opposite direction. "I’m afraid you’re to go as well. As of now, you’re under quarantine until I understand what went wrong with this latest batch, doctor," Hojo informed him as he was forcibly removed from Medical. "Consider it your latest contribution to science."
Alim tried looking to Dr. Sherman or any of the higher ranking staff for help, and found all of them turning away as he was basically kidnapped from Medical on Hojo’s orders. All too aware of the power that the scientist wielded, he did his best not to think of what was probably going to happen until he could prove to the madman that whatever Reno had thrown up on him had not affected him in any way, and could only find any sort of consolation in promising himself that he would be the one to perform the redheaded bastard’s yearly physicals for as long as Reno remained alive.
"You know you shouldn’t have moved him like that! Why didn’t you call Medical for a proper extraction?"
Alim looked up from the bed that he and Adams had just finished preparing in time to see Rena usher Rude into the exam room, the Turk looking as if he had no right to be still be able to remain upright with the amount of blood and bruises that covered his body and torn clothes. He carried his partner draped over his left shoulder, the sight of which made Alim wince and want to berate the fool with a lecture about internal injuries and possible spinal damage.
"Because you guys don’t like getting shot," was all Rude said as he placed his partner on the exam table with an amount of care that Alim would have thought beyond him, with the way he had staggered into the room a minute before. That motion seemed to use up the last of his strength, and Adams grabbed the tall Turk by the left arm and dragged him off to another waiting exam room.
Left to deal with Reno’s injuries and certain that there would be more Turks showing up shortly – both to be healed and to find out what was going on – Alim quickly set about prepping his patient by removing Reno’s ruined uniform. "We’re going to need to check for a concussion," he told Rena as they worked, busy cutting through the blood-soaked dark blue and white material. "There’s a gun shot wound to the upper right arm and shoulder, and two to the lower right abdomen." He would need to make sure the bullets were out before he could Cast any Cure spells, along with any other possible debris. Leaning over Reno to check his head for any wounds, the only warning he had of Reno regaining consciousness was the slight feel of motion beneath him, and then thin, long fingers bit into his throat with a shocking amount of strength. He stared at the top of Reno’s head as he tried to pry off those fingers, the sound of his heartbeats thundering in his ears as he struggled to breathe overwhelming the cries of Rena as she called out for help. There was the random thought that he was a grown, healthy man fighting against a half-dead patient, yet he could not break free from Reno’s grip no matter how much he tried. Pulling away only ended up with both of them falling to the floor, Reno half on top of him with sharp object scattered about; he had a moment to debate grabbing one of them and attempting to stab the Turk, but if he let go of Reno’s hands around his throat, would the bastard also go for a weapon?
Luckily, at that point help arrived and someone sedated the redhead, leaving Alim gasping for air on the floor for several seconds before he staggered from the room. Once Dr. Perez had checked his throat and declared him all right, he stood outside in the hallway for over a minute, just breathing in and out, before he could confirm that the blood on his clothes was Reno’s and not his. At that point, he accepted the offer to return to his office to finish out his shift, leaving any and all psychotic Turks to his coworkers for the rest of the day. He took the time to change his clothes (yet another dry cleaning expense report that would be turned in to ShinRa, thanks to Reno) before he sat down at his desk, with the intent of drafting a report to Dr. Sherman about how he now planned to follow a policy of restraining all unconscious Turk patients from this point onwards. He figured that he had a better chance of starting such a policy if he did not so obviously single out a specific Turk, but there was no way in hell that he was ever going to touch Reno again while the Turk was out of it, unless he got to issue a sedative to or strap the bastard down first.
Reno cursed at Alim and motioned to his right shoulder, which was restrained in a sling. "Come on! There’s no way in fuckin’ hell that Tseng’s gonna let me back in the field like this! Gimme a potion!"
Alim spent a good thirty seconds thinking of all the ways that Reno had tormented him over the years – it could have been a good thirty minutes – and just barely resisted the urge to smile. "No. As I’ve told you numerous times before, you have exceeded the recommended limit this past month, and so will have to recover the normal way." He did his best to not let too much of his enjoyment show, as it really was not a good idea to provoke a Turk. Reno *had* exceeded the limit of potions and Cures this past month, and Alim was certain that Tseng would not authorize an override of the rule for a relatively minor wound as a dislocated shoulder, unless the Turks were short-handed in the near future. More than likely, once the thirty day grace period was over, Reno would be down here demanding a potion, but for the next four days, Alim would have his way. No, smiling right now would not be a good idea, but he only had to wait until Reno stormed out of his office to gloat.
Reno let out an impressive string of curses, but Alim would bet his license that the Turk had already been to his supervisor and told ‘no’, before coming down here to browbeat him yet again into speeding up the healing process. There were not many times when he had a chance to ‘win’ like this, so moments like this were to be savored.
"I’m not going to give you a potion. Unless you’re here early for your yearly physical, then there’s no other reason for you to be wasting my time," he informed the furious Turk, and this time did allow himself a small smile as Reno slammed his left hand down on his desk and spun around to leave the office in an obvious snit of temper.
In a good mood for once, Alim spent the next hour catching up on his paperwork. When it was time to carry out some routine physical exams, he got up from his desk to leave his office, and almost tripped over something small and round that was lying in the middle of the floor. He bent down to pick the object up, his curiosity snared by its unfamiliarity. There was something spherical wrapped in black tape, connected to a small plastic box. He turned it over in his hands a few times, and noticed that there seemed to be a button of some sort, that he did not think anything of to press. All that he was immediately aware of after that was a blinding flash of light and the stench of sulfur, and a very loud noise. What followed in the next few minutes was a barrage of alarms going off as Medical was shut down in response to the flash bomb being activated, embarrassment on his part, and extreme displeasure from the higher-ups.
Of course Reno had no idea how the flash bomb had managed to ‘slip’ from one of his pockets, and it was not unheard of a Turk carrying such a thing. All of Medical had to go through extensive training on identifying potential explosives, as it was expected for supposedly intelligent people to not pick up strange objects and play with them, and Reno wisely made sure that his next few physicals were scheduled on Alim’s days off.
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