The Trench Rats: Part 13
ONE FINGER, TWO. One letter appeared on the page and then another. And after a very long moment, another. Gold squinted at the piece of paper before him and sighed. Maybe he should have taken up typing while in training. It would make the boring stuff like this fly by at least a bit faster.
He scoured the keys for the letter C, found it hidden beneath his left hand, and then pecked it in. Then he pecked another, and then squinted, and pecked. Squinted and pecked.
He was relieved to be interrupted when Copper entered Black's office, saluted, and practically dumped another huge stack of papers on the desk. Relieved, that was, until he did that. Gold sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"All of this stuff? I'm supposed to type up all of this stuff?"
"That's what I heard, Sir."
"I swear, I think you guys should be the ones with the responsibility. You brought in the refugees, not me." He sighed again and pushed aside a few of the folders. "Are they at least sorted? Silver's not the best with sorting things, and you can let him know so, if you want."
Copper placed his hand on one folder, then on a second and a third. "Personal records, medical records, personal effects. And here's internment histories. I knew you'd be picky about it so I took the liberty of improving on Silver's technique."
"Which is pretty much just tossing everything in a huge pile and letting me sort it all out. Thanks for the help. I must be on page...two of two thousand." He grumbled and pecked the letter R. "I hardly have the patience for this."
"Anything else I can do?"
"Type it up for me?"
Copper almost smiled, he knew it. "No thanks."
One more sigh. "I thought I'd give it a shot, at least. Oh, oh, oh. I've never done this before so you have to let me know what the hell I do with this stuff whenever I do get it all copied." He glanced at the clock. "Which should be around 1987."
"Take it to Mahogany. He's in charge of all that anyway."
"Then he should be the one in..." Gold's voice trailed off into unintelligible mumbling as he started pecking at the keys again. Copper saluted and turned about, exiting. Gold grumbled to himself now and looked around for the Q key, without success. Where the hell was it?
He distracted himself from his growing frustration by pulling the stack of folders and papers closer, poking through them, sorting them out a bit more. When he'd done that he shuffled them and then sorted them again. And then sorted them in a completely different order. Then he looked again for the Q key. He opened up a drawer and poked around inside. What did Black keep in this place? The drawers were practically empty; what a waste. He'd have to fill them with something. He considered filling them with Ping-Pong balls, just to piss Black off. He smirked at the thought, then looked for the Q key. He found it nestled up next to the W right in the corner and felt like biting off his tongue.
"I KNOW I looked up there already! Stupid thing!"
With an even louder, still unintelligible grumble he tore out the sheet of paper he'd finished typing up on and stuck in a new one. He spent the next five minutes rolling it up and down several times, then adjusting it just perfectly. It was too bad Copper wasn't doing this. He would have had it done two hours ago.
He sighed and adjusted the paper one last time and pecked the letter Q. Nothing happened. He blinked and stared at the blank form, then tapped the key again. The same result. He poked it, then prodded it, then punched it. The page remained blank. He stuck his finger in between the keys and wiggled it around, relieved for the distraction, yet annoyed at the same time.
"C'mon, stupid thing..."
The door opened again and this time Turquoise came in and saluted. Gold waved at him but didn't look up, too involved in rattling the typewriter's gears. It was a moment or two before he even realized the other Rat wasn't speaking.
"Um..." Turquoise watched his battle with the clunky machine for another moment before answering. "They told me to come take the refugees' information to Mahogany, but it looks like you aren't done with it yet."
"No, not really...feel like typing, Turq?"
"Too bad, your loss." He picked up the typewriter and slammed it down upon the desk. Turquoise blinked.
"Having a problem, Sir?"
"Yeah, the Q's not working...I finally find it and it doesn't want to work." He started typing again, grumbled, and smacked the machine's side. "Well, scratch that. Now none of them want to work."
"Machines tend to do that, when you slam them against furniture."
"Well, you should have told me that before."
Turquoise's mouth twitched but he didn't reply. He started to turn around. "I'll be in the West Wing if you need me, sometime next year..."
"Does Doomsday fix typewriters?" Gold called. "I think this thing just died on me."
He sensed, rather than saw, Turquoise roll his eyes. "Take it to him and find out, Sir." He also left the office, and Gold gave the typewriter an evil look, hoping to frighten it into submission. He pecked the L key. Same result. With a huff he scooped the heavy machine up, coming out from behind the desk and taking it with him.
"C'mon, buddy. At the very least D-Day will have a gun, and I can just put you out of my misery."
He made his way out into the hall, just barely managing to shut the door with his foot. He nearly dropped the typewriter when he did so, and cursed aloud. But only because it almost landed on his other foot. He hefted it up higher and set off down the hallway, trying to whistle as he went.
All of the hallways in Trench Rat Headquarters were kept dimmed, bare bulbs dangling from the dripping ceilings the only source of light. Because of the nature of the structure, how quickly it had been tossed together, he assumed, moisture regularly worked its way in through the walls, keeping the place permanently humid and cool. Luckily the offices and private quarters had been built better than the hallways, in order to escape such a fate; but he still had to remember to watch his step or else slip and take this God-awful machine down with him. Knowing his luck it would probably break his ribs in the fall. He tried whistling again and finally picked up a tune, albeit a weak one.
A shuffling, splashing noise grew ahead and he lifted his head, ears cocking. The shape before him looked up as well, recognized him, and then started to turn the other way. He was upon her almost instantly, picking up his step.
"Hey, I remember you!" he said cheerfully to the young woman with the dark hair, falling into step beside her as she grimaced and went back the way she'd come. "I never do forget a pretty face, you know. What brings you to this neck of the woods?"
"Leave me alone," the girl--he racked his brain to remember her name, it was faces he was good with--Mirela?--Mirela was her name--mumbled. She walked a bit haltingly, and he assumed she must not like the atmosphere.
"Now, is that any way to talk to the guy who probably saved your life?" he said, then rolled his eyes. "Indirectly saved your life. Sort of. Kind of. I know, Silver and Copper did it, really, but I must've done something right in order to be graced by your presence." He beamed at her and she just about bared her teeth, muttering something in Romany. He blinked a few times.
"Eh...wow. I'm not sure what that meant, but it sounded like a curse in any language."
"You're right for once," she said, and kept on walking, not looking up at him. Gold felt like rubbing the back of his neck, but only in the nick of time remembered the heavy typewriter. He lifted it again as it began to slip from his hands. She shot it a glance.
"What I'm doing with such a big machine?" he said, voicing her thought aloud. She looked away again. "I'm supposed to be making heads and tails of all those personal documents we just raked in...but I'll be darned if I can get this thing to work. Know anything about typewriters?"
"Do I look like it?"
He grinned. "I think you and Turquoise would make a great couple."
"Eat shit, Gadjo."
"Wow," Gold said, nearly stopping in his tracks. "Now that was a curse!"
He hurried a bit to catch up with her again when she winced and grasped her arm, stumbling. His eyes grew and he peered down at her.
"Hey, are you all right?"
"Leave me alone." Her voice wasn't as convincing as it had been before.
He smiled. "You know, I tend to have that effect on women...making them swoon and all..." She stumbled again and this time he grabbed her arm--having to slide the typewriter to the floor to avoid injuring himself--and she stopped and the pained look on her face just grew worse. She would have fallen to one knee if he hadn't pulled her up at the last minute.
"Hey, really, are you okay? I really do make women swoon, but I don't make them pass out cold. Even I'm not that good, trust me."
"Go away!" She flailed at him feebly and backed into the wall. Gold pulled his hand back and bit the inside of his mouth.
"Well, I understand if you think I'm coming on too strong or something, but I really didn't mean to..." He frowned and lifted up his hand, peering at his fingers. They were wet, the tips stained dark. He cocked his head with puzzlement, and spoke before he even knew what he was saying.
"Hey. You're bleeding."
She pushed herself away from the wall and tried to walk off. Gold blinked and shook his head. He grabbed onto her hand and pulled her back and she actually cried out. She pushed at him futilely when he lifted her arm and tugged at her shirt a bit, until the wound in her limb was revealed. His eyes grew.
"Hey! You're BLEEDING!"
"Would you just leave me alone?" she snapped, still trying to pull away. Gold shoved the typewriter toward the wall, out of anyone's path, and grasped her lower arm and pulled her along with him before she could break away. She tried to resist at first, before stumbling after him.
"Look," he said, "you're bleeding, and that's usually not a good thing. Unless it's a woman thing, but unless I missed something in General Anatomy, that doesn't happen from the arm. At least not the way I learned it."
"Would you just shut up and let go of me!" Her face went red and she grabbed onto his hand and attempted to pry his fingers free. He winced as her nails dug into him but didn't loosen his hold.
"I'm just going to take you to the ward so you can get it properly looked at. Looks like Burgundy isn't such a hot doctor after all!"
After a few more futile attempts, she finally gave up resisting him, and followed along with a scowl on her face. He sighed inwardly. It was a lot better than having to put up with her fighting, especially since he'd been about to let go of her before she could decide to bite him. He'd always felt it might be intriguing to be bitten by a woman...but not quite in that manner.
They reached the hospital ward and went inside, Gold glancing about for a medic. He couldn't see Burgundy anywhere, but one of the nurses was over tending to one of their non-Rat patients. She turned her head to look at them as they came in and Gold smiled again.
She rolled her eyes and turned away. Gold held up Mirela's arm, ignoring her grimace of pain.
"I hate to bother you in the midst of your truly important duties, but I think maybe you could take a peek at her? She's not feeling herself."
"I'm wondering if you had anything to do with that?" the nurse mused, setting aside a stethoscope and coming their way. Gold gave her his most charming smile as she took Mirela's arm and looked it over.
"Well, I do tend to make women swoo--"
"Stuff a gauze in it, Corporal."
Gold started laughing. "Aw, come on, Nurse Janette, you know you don't mean that. Or at least you mean it in the most loving way possible. Is gauze a euphemism for anything?"
Mirela's lip curled back. "Swine," she muttered under her breath.
Janette's mouth twitched. "Don't mind him. He might be a swine, but he's a harmless one."
"Do you go for harmless guys?" Gold asked. "Because I can completely do harmless."
"That'll be the only thing you're doing, Corporal." He made a face like he'd been shot in the chest and she frowned at Mirela's arm and went for some bandages. "She has a gunshot wound in her upper arm; I thought the lieutenant looked at her already?"
"Yeah, well...she wasn't exactly being the most accommodating just then...and you know how lovely Burg is when his patients aren't being accommodating. It's a wonder he didn't hit her over the head with a mallet. Is it serious at all?"
"Straight through. Most of the bleeding's stopped. I'll bandage it up until he can take a better look at it."
"Good idea." He finally let go of Mirela's arm and accepted a towel when Nurse Janette handed it to him, wiping the blood from his hands. She started washing the wound and then wrapping it. "Look, I have to go see a man about a typewriter. I'd love to stay and keep an eye on you two...really keep an eye on you two..." he suddenly winced when the nurse ground her heel into his foot "...but more pressing matters call. Perhaps I can come back later and we'll do lunch?"
"Like I said, Corporal, that'll be the only thing you're doing."
He bit his own hand now. Mirela frowned at him. "Ouch. You know, with that attitude, I just might be forced to drag you out of here kicking and screaming. I think you need to see the fresh air again. Or my quarters. My quarters are just as good as fresh air, so they say."
Nurse Janette rolled her eyes again. "Down, boy." She fastened the bandage on Mirela's arm. "Maybe your quarters can teach you some new pick-up lines."
"Does that mean there's at least hope for us, then?" Gold grinned. He gave them both a mock salute and then bowed. "Well, I really have to get going, as much as I like to see you two in action. Really see you two in action." He had to cut off a pained sound when Janette stomped on his foot a second time. His voice came out weak and strained as his smile. "I'll see you two later, preferably together...ciao."
Janette ignored him. Mirela gave him a look bordering on venomous as he departed, but by now his foot hurt too much for him to care. He considered letting the nurse put some ice on it...but with her attitude, she'd probably end up putting the ice somewhere considerably north of his foot.