Reworking a very old story about post-MMX apocalypse. This takes place in between some of the stuff I already wrote right at the beginning. A snapshot of Mia and Patch's relationship, with Io thrown in for good measure. Forgive me the pun.

Getting Patched Up

Mia hesitated a moment before pushing her way into the badly run down building, hovering in the doorway and looking over its interior -- a strange, mismatched conglomeration of medical clinic and garage. She rolled forward to bob on the balls of her feet, then rocked back. Maybe he was out on one of his rounds.

"Did you get shot again?" a voice demanded sharply, from somewhere outside her range of vision.

"Um ... a little?" She stepped the rest of the way inside, letting the door fall shut.

"Oh, just a little this time." He stepped into view, wiping his hands with an already-greasy rag. "Why don't you come over here and show me exactly how you get shot a little."

"It really isn't bad, I just startled him --" She almost lifted her hands in a helpless shrug, but her injury twinged and she let them fall, instead turning her attention to removing her travel pack and the heavy trenchcoat beneath it.

"Hey!" She looked up blankly at his shout, but he was turned away from her, barking up the stairs. "Get on down here and help me out, girl."

There was a shuffling sound from above, and footsteps started down the metal steps, eventually revealing a tall, athletically built Reploid with red hair, green eyes watching them incuriously.

"Girl?" Mia asked, arching an eyebrow at him.

"I don't know her name, she's practically a mute. Kept coming around, so I put her to work. Bandaging and sealant." He pointed sharply at a nearby shelf, and the Reploid turned away. "And Mia, sit your ass down over here and let me have a look."

She snorted, lifting herself onto a metal examining table and removing a by-now bloodstained and hole-riddled shirt, which she dropped next to her. Her chest and shoulder were similarly stained and riddled, synthetic flesh practically shredded.

"A little, she says ..."

"Well, none of it got to my vitals ..."

"You're a goddamn robot, idiot. He'd have to have it shoved in your gut for it to get to your vitals." He paused, poked at one of the injuries, then jabbed his fingers into it, digging around for a moment to tug free a small piece of metal.

"Awgh, Patch! That's gross!" She made a face, gritting her teeth at the pain of his indelicate prodding.

"Oh? Then don't look. It's all just lodged in the synthflesh anyway -- this won't take long." He frowned, digging out another piece, then tossed both absently on the tray. "Girl, what's taking so damn long?"

She appeared at his side almost the instant he spoke, offering the bandages and sealant without a sound. He waved at her to drop them on the table next to Mia, and she did so, taking a step back and hesitating.

"You can go," he said, reaching now for a slightly more surgical implement to retrieve the shot from her shoulder and chest. The girl nodded, then walked away toward the stairs, vanishing shortly into the upper rooms of the shop.

"You don't know anything about her?" Mia asked after a moment, grimacing as he continued to pluck metal from her skin.

"I assume she goes out and picks fights somewhere, since she comes back banged up sometimes, but that's about all I know. She looks pre-cataclysm, and she's holding up better than most models I see."

"Weird ..." Mia turned her head in an ineffectual attempt to peer up the stairs.

"Don't you go bothering her, idiot." Another piece of metal clanked onto the tray.

"I wasn't going to!"

"Like hell. I know that look better than you do." He reached one hand up to smack lightly at her cheek. "You're nosy as hell."

A flicker of annoyance crossed her face, and she resisted a strong urge to fold her arms defensively. "And you're an asshole."

"Sure am."

He continued his work with practiced efficiency, managing a precision and speed that was superlative in a cyborg -- and probably one reason the Mavericks left him largely in peace. He'd give help to anyone who needed it, good, bad or indifferent, and he was very, very good. Mia couldn't help a smile. Even if he was a complete asshole.

"There, that's most of it." He straightened, glancing at a clock, despite the fact he kept time probably as well as any Reploid. "Twenty minutes? Not bad for one of your visits."

She stuck her tongue out at him.

"Put that back in your mouth."

He wasn't even looking at her, but she did anyway.

He grabbed the sealant and opened it, slathering it rather messily on her wounds, then snagged the bandages and slapped them in place, holding them until the adhesive chose to stay put. "You know the drill -- eight hours before you take them off, ten hours before you do anything crazy."

"Aye, sir!" She gave a mocking salute.

"Don't be a smartass."

She laughed, pulling her shirt back over her head and straightening it as she slid from the table. "Thanks, Patch. How much --"

"Don't come back to my shop for a month and we'll call it even." He glanced at her, ambling over to the sink to wash his hands -- more because the sealant made an incredible mess than out of any desire to be sanitary. "Where you headed next?"

"Oh, I dunno." She bent to scoop her trenchcoat off the floor and settle it heavily on her shoulders. She winced slightly, then straightened, working the buttons a little clumsily. "I was thinking of going through Dun City, see if I can scrounge up some info."

"Dun City, huh? Kind of a big place."

"Yeah, that would be why I picked it." She fingered the slashes in her trenchcoat with a small scowl, rubbing the metal underneath to find it slightly scored. She'd have to get it fixed sometime, but for now it would pass.

A grunt. "All the same, keep your head down. I know you're a nosy shit, but the fact is the place ain't safe. And --" He paused, turning to wag a finger in her direction. "-- keep that damn helmet under wraps while you're there."

"Whatever you say, Dad," she said, now reaching down to sling her pack around her shoulders. "And I always keep the helmet under wraps unless I'm on business."

"Didn't I tell you not to be a smartass?" He rubbed his fingers through his graying hair and glared at her. "Look, Mia, I know how you are around people. So go, do your thing. But don't you trust a single damn one of them."

She fell silent, expression caught somewhere between hurt and resigned. "All right, Patch. I'll be careful."

He huffed out a tired breath, rolling his eyes heavenward. "Oh, and as long you're headed out there, do me a favor and drop something off at the clinic."

"Sure --" She unslung her pack again, dropping it on the examining table with an extremely solid thunk. "What is it?"

"Just a message," he grunted. "And a couple vials of antibiotics -- they get humans through there sometimes."

"How do they manage that?" She accepted both the message chip and the vials from him with a mystified expression, snagging one of the remaining bandages to wrap it all together before dropping it in one of the pack's inner pockets.

"Mavericks won't touch the place. Don't know why."

She gave him a doubtful look, and he scowled.

"It's not your business, idiot! Just drop the shit off and do your thing."

"Fine, fine ..." She rolled her eyes dramatically, tugging her pack closed and putting it on again. "See ya 'round, Patch."

"Better not be for at least a damn month."

She laughed again and pushed her way out the door.