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Image (ficlet; Black Lagoon)

Title: Image
Author: opalmatrix
Warnings: Descriptions of hideous wounds and medical treatment.
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): n/a
Spoilers: A bit for Balalaika's background.
Notes: shortfic written for smillaraaq . Prompt: Balalaika, mirrors. Un beta-ed.
Summary: What does Balalaika see in her reflection? It depends.


The face that stared back at her from the glass was a stranger, recognizable only by the eyes and the color of the severely pulled-back hair. The burns were in an in-between state that looked almost as uncomfortable as they felt - no longer wounds, not yet scars. They were corrugated with grooves that showed where dead flesh had been scraped away. The memory of the pain of those repeated operations took her breath for a moment. She had screamed her throat raw

"Like what you see?" inquired a sardonic voice behind her.

Dr. Marinov. Go to the devil, doctor!

"What about you, doctor? Do you like what you see, here on my face?" How about here, on my breast, you perverted son of a bitch?

She wrapped her dressing gown more firmly about herself and turned around.

"Not particularly. It's too bad you're no longer eligible for the treatment that a heroine of the Army would deserve. We have some good plastic surgeons in Moscow."

For a moment a moment, regret filled her gut, her mouth, like vomit. Then she remembered pictures of burn patients who had been treated with modern techniques: like dolls, with smiles painted on, and seams around the edges. She breathed in, banishing the nausea, and looked past him.

"Are you here for some reason, doctor? Other than to pick at my wounds with your tongue, I mean."

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see him shaking his head. "Too bad for you, girlie. It won't be your beauty that makes the men take a second look."

"That's Captain Girlie to you, little man."

"Not anymore, Vladilena Mikhailovna. You'd better think about where you're going after this. We're going to throw you out in a week. The Army isn't paying for you anymore, you know."

He left then, thank God. She turned away from the glass and threw herself full length on the bed. Her hands itched to be holding a gun.

And whom would you shoot, Lenushya? The odious doctor - or yourself?

As a final humiliation, she felt tears prickling at the back of her nose. She breathed evenly, deeply, fighting them off. And then, abruptly, she fell asleep.

She was awakened some time later by a knock at the door.

"Captain?"

The voice was familiar. "Boris."

"Yes, Captain. May I come in?"

She rolled to her feet, hissing as the nascent scars on her body pulled and burned once more. For a moment, she considered sending him away, but what was the point? "Please do."

For a moment, as the door swung wide, he stood as though frozen, framed against the brighter lighting of the hallway. Then he stepped torward her, slowly, formally. "Captain."

She could see that he was scarred on the face as well, but not so grotesquely as herself. Otherwise, he seemed unharmed. And undismayed by her appearance. "I'm not your captain any longer, Sergeant."

"And I am not anyone's sergeant. But you will always be our Captain."

"What do you mean?"

"We've decided, all of us. We're leaving the army."

"You're all insane. You had medals, commendations! And where will you go?"

"Wherever you tell us to go, Captain."

She did not frown, because it hurt too much, but she stared into his eyes. She thought she saw there what she had been. It was there, so close, just waiting for her to grasp it. She took a long, slow, cleansing breath.

"That's good, Sergeant - very good. About our destination: I think I may have some ideas."

 

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
smillaraaq
Oct. 9th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
Wheee, thank you! (And sorry this comment is so late!) This is fabulous -- it's fascinating to imagine what the backstory of Balalaika and her men might be from the few hints we get, and so little fic that actually bothers to go there.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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