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Academic Rivalry (12)

1 .

“All I’m sayin’, Doc, is that there ain’t structurally sound. It’s gonna go boom the second you try ‘n use it in battle.” The Engineer’s stubby fingertip prodded a blueprint covered in German notation.

“Und what would you know about it? I have never seen you using a focus for any of your generational devices! That Dispenser wastes so much energy on useless fumes. Gott im himmel, save me from technicians with ideas of grandeur.” The Medic swiped the intruding hands away from his plans for a new Medigun, shooing the Engineer away.

“I may well be a damn technician, but I got 11 phds in Engineerin’, and you ain’t even got yourself a medical diploma! I’m tellin’ you, that design ain’t sound!”

It was the fourth time the argument had erupted that week. Without an ongoing battle, the team found itself confined to base with very few diversions. Personalities were beginning to clash, and even the soft-spoken Texan and aloof German were starting to run into each other entirely too often for tempers to remain calm.

There is a widely acknowledge truth that certain academics do not take challenges well. If one were to take two such academics of disparate but overlapping disciplines and force them into an environment whereby they would have to focus on the overlap, it will only be a matter of time before something goes badly wrong.

When the Engineer picked up his pencil to scratch out the Medic’s notes, that point was reached. The Medic snatched away the Engineer’s pencil, snapping it as he did so, and shoved the Engineer away from the desk.

“Do you know why I don’t have that diploma, Herr Techniker? It is not lack of skill or knowledge!” His voice grew louder as he spoke, anger replacing mere irritation. “It is because I dared to push the boundaries of medical science! I dared to investigate beyond the piddling little limits imposed by men who could never imagine true invention! They took my license from me, when I had more than earned it by my labors! I will not sit here and have some small minded little technician tell me what I can and cannot do with my own invention!”

He grabbed the blueprint, nearly crushing the paper in his fist, and stalked out.

The Engineer had never seen such a display from the usually ice-cold doctor, and for a moment even considered running after him to apologise for his comment about the medical diploma. When the corridor doors slammed, it was too late.

Being cooped up was doing none them any good, and pushing the Medic to snapping point would hardly help when they finally got back out on the field. The Texan just wasn’t used to discussing anything that took real brainpower, and he’d been so long amongst his clumsier teammates that he found himself forgetting the people skills that had managed to get him through so many diplomas despite the bitter infighting that universities tended to experience.

The ceasefire continued, and the team remained confined to base. The Medic took to simply leaving a room when his teammates entered it, cloistering himself away with his studies in a way that was starting to worry the Engineer. It wasn’t good for a man to isolate himself like that.

After dinner, he knocked on the infirmary door, a roll of blueprints under one arm.

“What is it? If you have injured yourself and are bleeding out, just wait for the Respawn!” the doctor’s unwelcoming greeting was just about audible through the thick door.

“It’s me, I got somethin’ to ask your opinion on.” The Engineer leaned in close to the door to be sure he was heard, and was startled when the it pulled open a crack to reveal a bloodshot and suspicious eye.

“And what, given your evident opinion of men with fewer fancy little pieces of paper than you, could you possibly want my opinion on?”

“Actually… I was thinkin’ about what you said, with the Dispenser needin’ a better focus, so I thought I might ask you t’ clarify a few points. Course, if y’ain’t interested I can go try it out myself.” The Engineer balanced the flattery as carefully as if he were seeking approval from the head of a funding board. It worked, and the door pulled open just far enough to admit the stocky Texan.

“There is no room on my desk. You will have to lay the plans on the operating table.” The Medic returned to his own piles of notes while the Engineer unrolled his plans and got them weighted down.

“Doc? When you got a moment.”

“Ja, ja. Coming.”

The Engineer waited until they’d both been poring over the plans for a little while to risk asking why the Medic was avoiding the rest of the team so avidly. The German snorted in disbelief.

“You mean that no one’s told you?”

“Can’t say as they have, no.”

“The … men… are not talking to me because this ridiculous extended leave we are on is partially my fault. They are used to fraternizing with civilians during the ceasefire, and unfortunately have developed a habit of visiting houses of, ah, ill-repute. You would not like to believe what vile conditions I have had to treat when the idiots don’t take precautions.” The Medic’s nose wrinkled in disgust, though it seemed as likely to be because of civilian fraternisation as because of the team’s unfortunate choice of encounter. “I simply reported the little problem, and now we find ourselves confined to base. I suppose it is the Administrator’s idea of patient confidentiality not to have announced the reason to everyone. I have no idea how you haven’t heard about it already.”

“I don’t tend to take kindly to fellas bein’ disrespectful when they’re talkin’ about ladies. Guess they realised I might not be too patient in hearin’ about their habits.” The Engineer shrugged. His upbringing had instilled a pretty fierce set of rules about how to treat women, and after a while he’d simply decided it was a darn good thing he was more interested in knowledge than ladies. “How come you ain’t just sent ‘em off with better instructions for next time? Had you pegged as the pragmatic type.”

“And have them come to me for advice on every sexual issue they experience? Eugh, nein. I preferred to use our ceasefires to catch up on my research. This confinement is making even that impossible.” The Medic pursed his lips in a moue of annoyance. “Had I known I’d be stuck in the building with them, I’d have just sent them off with another pack of prophylaxe!”

“No good solution, huh? You come up against another practical problem like that, you pass it my way. I might be able to talk some sense into them, save us both the bother of gettin’ confined to base again.” He tapped on the blueprints in front of them. “Anyway, back to business. Now, I was thinkin’ of putting a pair of highly refractive lenses here with the intention of manipulating the directed rays into kind of a tight focus…”

The conversation passed back and forth between refinements to ubercharges, MediGuns and Dispensers, with a brief diversion to look at the disappointing arc of fire that let the Syringe Gun down badly at medium range. A better compressed gas canister might help with the distance, but there wasn’t much to be done for the accuracy, and by the time the size of the gun was adjusted to allow for the gas canister instead of spring propulsion, it was just unwieldy.

The pair pored over sketches and reference books long into the night, and it was only when the Engineer yawned and stretched that he noticed he was jammed right up beside the Medic, close enough to smell the other man’s hair tonic and shaving cream. He stepped aside a touch abruptly, feeling awkward to be so aware of someone else’s physical presence.

“Tired, Herr Techniker? I believe I have some coffee somewhere, the Turkish kind that would waken even the dead. Not literally, of course, though I have tried.” The Medic laughed at his own little joke, apparently unaware of the Engineer’s awkwardness. “Or there is Kirschwasser if you prefer.”

“That’s mighty kind of you, but I just didn’t know how late it was gettin’, is all. I should probably be gettin’ back to my own room, ‘stead of keepin’ you up to all hours.”

“What? But we were about to look at the storage potential of those new alkaline solutions!” The Medic appeared almost offended. “I know I am not the best host, but I had thought the use of my reference library was incitement enough to get these modifications finished. We cannot abandon science midway through a series of discoveries! And then we had that hand of yours to look at as well, since you mentioned the tensions required further calibration and I’ve only just had a delivery of the latest anatomical theories on muscle tensions and efficiencies. No, you must have a Kirschwasser, there is far too much research to be done. Sleep is hardly essential.”

Before he knew it, the Engineer found himself sitting with a glass of clear liquid in one hand and a grease pencil in the other, conned into continuing the hours of study and comparison. He had to admit, it was invigorating. Whether it was the fiery 100 proof cherry brandy or the sheer intensity the Medic devoted to his work, the Texan confessed to himself that this was more fun than he’d had in ages. It was too rare to get a chance to stretch the mental muscles out here in the middle of nowhere, and the back and forth of challenge, counter, modification, update felt almost like waking up after too long a nap.

With the kirsch came new levels of animation, alcohol and tiredness stripping away those last bits of reserve the Medic had. His hands waved, his eyes lit, he recited fascinating tidbits of useful information in a tumble of German, English or Latin depending on where he’d learned it. The Engineer was pulled in, soon leaning fervently in to stab with a fingertip at some point of interest or manipulable weak spot on the designs they both sketched carelessly over the top of.

At last, and halfway down the bottle, the Medic quietened down a touch.

“Herr Techniker. What I am about to show you is deeply confidential and highly experimental, so you must promise not to breathe a word until it is ready to share with the world.” His gravitas was spoiled slightly by a couple of tiny hiccups and glasses that kept sliding down his nose. From somewhere in the dark recesses of his desk he pulled a wide roll of paper, dramatically sweeping the other sketches off the operating table as he unrolled it.

In painstaking detail, the paper outlined all the major organs, blood vessels, muscle groups and nerve centres and - and here the Engineer’s attention flared up - notes on how each of these could be artificially reinforced through use of cutting edge medical technology. The whole thing had been hand-drawn and inked with loving care, as fine as if it had been printed.

“My goodness, Doc, that’s…”
The Medic waited with baited breath, lest he be condemned for inhuman tinkering.
“That’s goddamn beautiful. I had to take the whole forearm off for the ol’ Gunslinger, but following the reinforcement here and here… And maybe here… If I need to upgrade I could balance the weight a bit better without needing external shoulder straps and maybe even use kinetic energy storage to keep the arm itself at full power 24/7!”

“Ja, ja! Und with the kinetic storage system, we also have this regulator for the heart to act as a backup, similar to the pacemaker but rather more powerful. No heart attacks ever again! A basic blood monitoring system, easily embedded in the spare space within the abdominal cavity, would allow for blood health monitoring to prevent the build up of cholesterol or deadly blood clots, preventing hardening of arteries and risk of stroke. All powered by the body’s own constant movement, without need of external batteries!” The Medic seized the Engineer’s human arm to demonstrate the placement of upgrades on a 3D model, and the Engineer felt a jolt of warmth at the touch.

Less inclined to step away now than earlier, he observed instead in fascination as the German pointed out muscle groups and pain receptors and which areas would be best suited for operation on a standard physique and where or how to tailor the approach for different subjects. The Medic’s nimble hands worked up from the fingertips along the hand and wrist, past forearm and elbow and bicep, outlining shoulder and collarbone with fervour that went right past professionalism and into the reasons he no longer had a medical license. This was science as art and passion, not mere recitation of flat fact.

The Engineer’s breath caught when the doctor’s fingertips started on his neck to demonstrate the correct placement of electrodes and the hair-fine wires that would act as extensions of the nervous system, augmenting the usual array of senses with additional understandings of magnetic fields and the shape of electricity itself.


“Hm?” The fingertips paused where they were, still pressed into the sensitive skin at the nape of the Engineer’s neck. Cautiously, the Engineer reached one hand up to those on the back of his neck and laced his fingers through them.

“You tryin’ to drive a man mad, Doc?”

“Herr Techniker? Was ist los?” The Medic’s voice was hesitant, wary.

“Might just be the Kirsch talkin’, but you seem a sight friendlier tonight. Y’ got a - a warmth to you, a passion, when you’re talkin’ about science.” The Engineer drew the interlaced fingers over his shoulder, resting his jaw against them. “An’… I don’t think I’ve seen that in anyone else before. That, that kinda fire of discovery. I like it.” He kissed the back of the captured hand. “Sorry if I’m a bit forward. Swear I’m not usually like this.”

The Medic was quite still and quite silent for a long few seconds.

“Ist das ein Witz? Has all of this evening just been some sort of a joke to you?” The Medic hadn’t withdrawn his hands just yet, but his voice was low and hissing. “I have been speaking to you as an equal, an intellectual, and you’ve just been treating this as an exercise in flirtation?”

“Wh- no! Course not!” The Engineer turned to face the doctor, looking up across the half a foot difference in height. “I mean it. I only came over by way of a peace offerin’, ‘cause I figured I shouldn’t have said all that about the diplomas the other day. I wasn’t expectin’ you to really… to be this intense about your research. You’re amazin’ when you get all het up about your studies.”

“Und that has suddenly turned the - the Texan good ol’ boy, so respectful of women, so conservative, into a raging homosexual? I doubt it.” The doctor pulled his hand from the Engineer’s grip. “Your contributions this evening have been useful, but I think perhaps it is time you left rather than let this mockery of yours continue.”

Right in front of his eyes, the Engineer could see the Medic’s barricades going up. That openness, that unbridled raw quest for knowledge had only opened slowly through the evening, and now it was closing right off.

“I ain’t teasin’.” He grabbed for the hand that had been pulled away. “I know you might not much like fellas, but I wouldn’t feel right if I left you thinkin’ this was some kinda cruel prank. I’m dead serious, an’ I’m not… I’m not expectin’ you to be interested back, but I damn well meant every word. You got a beautiful brain an’ clever hands, Doc, and that does more for me than ladies ever could.”

The Medic looked more puzzled than anything else, but he hadn’t quite shuttered everything off behind cold, distant professionalism, not yet. The Engineer turned the captured hand over slowly, feeling out the tension and flexibility in the slender joints.

“If you could give me a few pointers, I’d really welcome them right about now,” the Texan admitted. “D’you still want me to leave? Does it bother you, either way?”

“All this just from this evening’s work? Really?” The doctor’s tone wasn’t harsh or cold, but genuinely questioning. He hadn’t taken his hand back, yet.

“Really.” The Engineer nodded for emphasis, still waiting on a response. This kind of thing was why he preferred his studies and machines to dealing with people. You never knew what the result was going to be with people, and it could sometimes be more dangerous than mishandling organic nitrates.

“It is unexpected, Herr Techniker. I cannot say I planned to be dealing with confessions of interest at this hour of the night.”

“Consider it an experiment, then, how’s that? Ain’t exactly my area of expertise, but I reckon it’s better to try than just not know.”

He’d used the magic word, “experiment”, and the guardedness slipped down behind the Medic’s eyes. Like or lust or interest weren’t quantifiable things, they were loose concepts that one could not really pin down. But an experiment? That was simpler.

“How would you propose we start such an experiment, then?” the Medic asked.

“Could start by seein’ if there’s any physical or mental response to this…” The Engineer stepped in closer and, with the same delicacy he’d employ when handling those volatile nitrates, slipped his arms around the doctor in a warm embrace. So much shorter than the Medic, he found his face pressed into the man’s shoulder and he was surrounded by the scent of shaving creams and hair tonic and that slight musk that came after a long day since the morning shower.

Though it took a few seconds, the Medic returned the hug.

“Was nun?” he asked, voice a little softer, a little quieter than before.

The Engineer didn’t speak a lick of German, but he understood the sentiment. His arms briefly tightened around the Medic, then he let his hands wander instead - the waist, the spine, the ribs, the shoulder blades. He could feel everything laid out under his hands as clearly as if it were on that meticulously labelled diagram, and the thought of the intelligence and precision required to create it renewed that warm jolt that had nearly been quashed. He didn’t quite say as much, but leaned up to secure a quick, light kiss and smiles, describing in a half-whisper all the modifications the diagram had laid out in loving detail.

It didn’t take so long for the Medic to catch on this time, and he reciprocated with long, elegant descriptions of the amendments he would make to the human nervous system, fingers tracing out the lines of a new sensory system made of the finest conductive wire, up and down the Engineer’s spine, pausing on the bare skin of the neck.

They passed back and forth, taking turns to outline the superhuman, the miracle of science, the ubermensch that their combined skills could bring forth out of mere mortal flesh. The Medic’s breath grew faster as he described in lascivious detail his plans to remodel the human hand in a more useful configuration, and the Engineer was entranced enough by the flow and trade of ideas that he offered up his Gunslinger, wordlessly inviting the Medic to suggest changes and improvements. When the Medic kissed the skeletal metal fingertips instead, he nearly blushed at the sight.

The Medic’s thin hands explored the Gunslinger, fingertips outlining over air and metal the placement of newer, better mimicries of the human body, ideas that only a student of physiology could have conceived.

The Engineer slowly stroked the Medic’s face, following the lines of the jaw, temple, cheek, brow. He studiously avoided the little glasses that still perched on the Medic’s nose, instead offering promises of optical lenses that could be built out upon the skull, adjusting by the power of thought alone, paper-thin wafers of polished crystal that can adjust endlessly beyond the ability of weakening eyesight or the limitations of fixed prescription glasses. Coloured filters to help screen out unwanted light and noise, refining vision for surgery to see the world in a thousand shades of red where any colour unwanted or unexpected is lit up in black as an intruder.

The Medic leant into the cold metal touch, eyes closing at the visions of surgical clarity and extensive modification that the pair had conjured up between them. This injection of the deeply personal to the purely scientific was far stranger than either had imagined, mingling fiercely intellectual hungers with the physical temptations of dextrous hands, soft lips, warm flesh.

“This… experiment of yours seems quite satisfactory so far,” the Medic whispered, bending in by the Engineer’s ear while his deft hands explored the muscles and veins and cartilage of the man’s throat. The Engineer didn’t speak in response, tilting his head back and exposing his neck. When the Medic’s mouth ghosted against it, all he could do was moan his approval and encouragement.

It’s new for both of them, this equal meeting of creative genius and needy flesh. The Engineer began to slide the Medic’s coat off his shoulders, pulling away his tie and shirt to better reach, touch, kiss the tall man’s flesh. He’d had one or two experiences before, mostly with fellow grad students while earning one or other of his degrees, and he mostly knew what he was doing, but he was unused to the experience being so alive instead of merely biological. Certainly not used to anyone like the Medic, who even at that moment was displaying excellent familiarity with the nervous system by toying with the outstandingly sensitive skin at the back of his neck and soft inner wrist.

It was impossible to tell whether the Medic had hands-on experience with other men or whether it was just that painstakingly detailed knowledge of the human form that gave him such skill in manipulating the Engineer’s reactions. The Engineer began to wonder if it was even deliberate, or whether the Medic was simply curious to see the effects he could wreak.

It wasn’t until the skin-warmed metal of the Gunslinger ran up along the doctor’s inner thigh that the Engineer regained the lead, teasing and coaxing with his prosthesis while his hand of genuine flesh and blood unpicked the belt and trouser buttons. Something about the metal got the German excited and the Texan was quick to pick up on the advantage, sliding the long, almost bonelike digits past the doctor’s shirt and across his exposed skin.

The metal arm didn’t have very much sensitivity, it was true, but over the years the Engineer had learned to control it with as much finesse as his real hand. He knew just how light his touch could be, and how firm. Metal dipped below the Medic’s belt, tracing the crease where leg met body, and the Engineer whispered the names of the veins and arteries that he could feel pulsing even through the lifeless limb. He made suggestions for intimate ways he might test the Gunslinger’s fine motor control, offered experiments that the Medic might perhaps be tempted to join in with. He wasn’t nearly so au fait with the human body as the doctor was, but he knew a thing or two and put as much of that knowledge to use as he could, suggesting debauched acts in the name of science and always, always hoping that the Medic really was participating rather than merely testing and observing. He got something like an answer when the Medic rested a heavy hand on the back of his neck.

“Go on, then. Continue with your… investigation.”

Something about the word brought out the deep, guttural syllables of the Medic’s mother tongue, rolling and purring over “investigation” in a way he usually only did for threats of an unwarranted examination or a chance to saw up an enemy on the field. It was halfway terrifying, but more than that it was encouragement, rocket fuel, accelerant.

The Engineer tugged the Medic’s trousers open just a little further, allowing enough space to wrap his hand around the still-soft flesh that nestled in the cloth. He was greatly intrigued to note that it barely responded to his own flesh-and-blood hand, but twitched and perked up when held and groped by metal instead. The Gunslinger lightly stroking and squeezing, the Engineer wriggled his other hand into a glove. It was far more effective than mere skin had been, the Medic arching and gasping something undoubtedly obscene in rich, Teutonic murmurs as the rubber and metal worked him up to stiffness.

For a few more minutes he continued simply to play with the Medic’s now-hard cock, enjoying the exploration, learning the weight of it in his hand, finding the sweet spots for the best reaction. But the teasing, while fun, wasn’t really likely to go anywhere. He looked up at the Medic, who was watching appreciatively when he wasn’t closing his eyes and panting. It was difficult to read the man’s face, to discern whether the attraction was to the Engineer himself or just to the particular situation and series of little kinks that had wormed their way in. He hadn’t seemed to be interested in the feeling of flesh on flesh, which suggested the latter, but the Engineer could think of one way to test that theory.

Hands never falling still, he licked his lips and knelt down. The Medic’s response to the sudden hot wetness was immediate. His hips bucked forward and the hand resting on the back of the Engineer’s head curled and flexed against the suede-stubbled scalp. Flesh on flesh was an absolute success, after all.

While the Medic was halfway to coming undone already, the Engineer’s cock had been sadly neglected. He snuck his gloved hand away to undo the front of his overalls, pulling back from the Medic for a brief second to spit into his palm for lubrication, and started to stroke himself furiously as he licked and sucked on the Medic’s eager erection. The doctor hadn’t seemed to notice the loss of the gloved hand, but moaned in complaint if the Gunslinger lifted away for even a moment. That suited the Engineer just fine, as he’d never enjoyed using the metal hand for personal pleasures and was all too pleased to instead use it to wrench long, whining moans from his teammate.

He felt his own orgasm coming on when he looked up at the doctor’s thoroughly dishevelled face and rumpled clothes. He sped up accordingly, harder and faster, seeking out that second when the Medic would cry out and crumple over, wanting to watch the usually stern doctor give in entirely to that moment of pleasure. It didn’t take long. The Medic’s hand spasmed, he gasped and shuddered, and he was coming all across the skeletal metal hand and into the Engineer’s mouth, hot and salt-bitter on the tongue.

The Engineer followed close after, still milking the last traces of the orgasm from the Medic when he hit his own peak. He rode it out a little more quietly, resting his head against the Medic’s hip through a long, shivering sigh of relief, and was only a little embarrassed to find he’d splashed the Medic’s boots when he came.

The Medic was first to recover, cleaning up in an efficient manner that seemed at odds with his disarrayed appearance. His touch was unexpectedly gentle when he wiped an errant splatter from the corner of the Engineer’s mouth. He smiled.

“This has been a most interesting experiment, Herr Techniker. Would you like to make it the first of many?”

2 .

Really enjoyed this! Hot and in-character. Just one error I noticed - 'It’s new for both of them, this equal meeting of creative genius and needy flesh.' - This seems to have slipped into present tense.

3 .

Suddenly wondering why I haven't seen more of this pairing. This is FANTASTIC. Wow. Just wow.

4 .

Thank you for this. It was written well! (No seriously it's about time I saw some Engie/Medic because I thought I was crazy for thinking that it had some kind of base as a pairing but this was just awesome and everyone was so in-character so kudos to you.)

5 .

Fuck, holy fuck I seriously don't think I've ever seen Engineer and Medic together outside of a team orgy context, I didn't even think about the possibility and wow -- wow. You did it. You did it /right./

Nnnngh. What a story. Thanks for sharing this with us. Would you consider writing more of it? Because I'm sure we'd all gratefully read it.

6 .

Oh that was fantastic!

I love this pairing and agree with others that there's not nearly enough Medic/Engineer in the world, let alone well written pieces like this.
May the experiments long continue.

7 .

Correct. Everything you have said here is absolutely correct. I have never seen anybody ship a pairing more correctly than you have just done. You deserve to be called a doctor for being correct about this pairing. I hope you don't mind that your honorary PhD in Correctness is drawn on the back of a grocery receipt.

8 .

Thank you all so much! I'm pleased you like it. I take prompts over on my tumblr, same name as I use here, so if there's anything you'd like to see for this pair or just in general please let me know. I can always use more writing ideas.

Yeah, I hummed and hawed over leaving that in present tense. On the one hand, everything else in past tense with a bit of urgency injected through creative verbage. But on the other hand, something about the immediacy of present tense just seemed more fitting to that particular line, and I didn't want to skip it entirely. I'm sure in a week I'll wake up at 3am with a much better line and facepalm.

9 .

I'd like to agree with the other commenters and say that this was absolutely fantastic! This was very well-written and Medic and Engie were just wonderfully in character and this was just. amazing.

10 .

I am not really into slash fics, but this is the best one i read, in a long time. Keep up the good work!

11 .


12 .

I've been searching far and wide for Science Party fics. This was AWESOME.

13 .


Why would you bump something that's like 4 years old?! If it wasn't so fracking good and I wasn't so thankful that your boneheaded action introduced me to such a great fic, I'd chew you out.

Instead, I'll just give my regards to ZiGraves, knowing it's more than likely they'll never see this.
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