In this Wednesday Brief, a mad doctor is sick and someone has to act as nurse. Our story takes place in the Soul Eater manga-verse and stars Dr Stein and Marie, but I think it's still readable even if you aren't overly intimate with the series as a whole. Enjoy!
In Sickness (1/2): Soul Eater (manga), Stein/Marie, PG-13, prompt - "stomach, claws, blanket".
Canon note: takes place between the seizing of "Brew" and the storming of Baba Yaga Castle.
"My stomach hurts."
Marie wheeled around in her chair to find Doctor Stein, looking paler than usual and in his patchwork pajamas. It was late and Marie had been deep in paperwork for the DWMA. She should have expected Stein to intrude at least once, especially since they were rooming together and the good doctor kept unusual hours. He was once up at four in the morning, testing electrical currents on cactus while playing opera.
But Stein was not playing mad scientist tonight. He looked absolutely sickly. Was it the madness, the strange affliction which kept him off the front lines and out of the classroom since the Brew incident? It was always an underlying problem, although some days were better than others. It was why Marie and Stein were now sharing the same abode; she was the only one trusted by Lord Death to look after the man and make sure he didn't pose a threat to himself—or to others.
Then again, maybe Stein ate a bad sausage link. Who knew, in his state? Honestly, some of the food Marie had found while cleaning out Doctor Stein's pantry gave her serious pause. The man clearly didn't pay attention to expiration dates—or didn't eat what he bought.
With a medical eye, Marie quickly assessed Stein's condition. He was pale and sweaty, moisture rolling off his face in a faint sheen. His posture was bad, but that wasn't new. He was definitely weaker than usual.
"Your stomach hurts?" Marie repeated. "Do you want some stomach medicine?"
Stein grumbled something unintelligible. His eyes shifted downward, not meeting Marie's gaze.
She sighed. "Very well, then. Let's get you back to bed and then I'll get you something for your stomach." Leaving her piles of paperwork for later, Marie managed to grasp Stein's arm and lead him back to his bedroom without any argument from the sickly doctor.
As they walked through the labyrinthine hallways of Stein's home, Marie could not help but remember the first time she had stepped into his home, his lab. At one point, she’d been scared of Stein. Most DWMA staff were. He was a meister without a weapon, who delighted in strange experiments and doing everything possible to not do his job. Or so it seemed. Plus, the whole "operates on himself" thing, which put off a lot of folks. Even though one of their colleagues, Sid, was now a zombie, so such things should have been above their average shock level.
Marie had been afraid, once. Stein was certainly an off-putting person. But he cared about his students. He cared whether they lived or died, and if they reached their full potential. She saw that in the way he dealt with the studious neurotic Maka, with the boisterous Black Star, even with Lord Death's own son, Death the Kid. He may have seemed apathetic on the surface, but Stein put more effort into teaching his students practical weapon/meister skills than most others in his field.
And yet here he was, reduced to stumbling around his own house, black blood pounding in his head, a wicked gift from Medusa. Medusa, who had deceived everyone during her stint as a nurse in DWMA, only to infest Stein with the same terrible darkness that birthed her only child. The very thought of Medusa and her forked snake tongue was enough to send Marie's blood boiling. This woman had hurt Stein so deeply, and it was unsure whether or not Stein would fully recover.
If Medusa had heard the horrific, maddening laughter that had escaped Stein's pain-wracked body as Stein and Marie emerged from Brew's magnetic field, she would've been assured that her plan had worked. Stein was deep in the black that the slithering witch had planted in his heart. If she had the chance, Marie would make Medusa pay for every single stitch on Stein's body that had been tainted. She would spill all the dark blood that flowed through Medusa's body and make it burn to ashes.
Stein coughed. His lungs sounded like they were rattling in his chest. Marie tightened her grip and soon had him in his room. The smell of sweat sent her nose into a permanent wrinkle. Stein's bedspread and sheets were soaked in the stuff. His clothes were thrown about haphazardly, lab coats falling one over the other on a broken table. A window was the only source of light, moonlight streaming through the glass so strongly that artificial light wasn't needed.
Marie grimaced, her mouth set in a hard line. "Stein, just sit here. I'm going to clean up a bit before you get back into bed, okay?" He did not visibly protest as she led him into a nearby chair which was thankfully clean and empty.
She quickly made short business of Stein's bed, stripping it of sheets and blankets with a skilled hand that would have made an ER nurse jealous. The long abandoned hamper quickly filled with dirty laundry, which she exiled to the hallway so the smell would stop permeating the walls. The bed was quickly wiped down and made again with fresh sheets and a duvet that did not smell like sick and was not dripping wet.
"Stein—" Marie turned around to find Doctor Stein slumped in his chair, eyes glassy. He was absentmindedly playing with the skull-shaped buttons on his pajamas, constantly doing and undoing the top two buttons. His left foot kept tapping out an uneven, nervous beat against the wood floor.