This sounds like a Starbucks order and I’m all about that life. This was also a harder prompt than I anticipated! I kind of failed on the bromance front, but I hope you like it regardless.
19. “The paint’s supposed to go where?”
24. “You’re the only one I trust to do this.”
There was a word for this, for the empty victory of knowing how the future unfolded, only to long for those discovered facts days, months, or years in the past. “Énouement;” it was a kind of vocabulary confined to the more privileged circles among Coruscanti elite. For as little as Captain Rex even heard the word used (for the record, once or twice by Senator Amidala), he certainly experienced it more than he cared to admit.
Today, for instance. Rex’s past self would’ve happily accepted today’s knowledge about a week ago when General Skywalker looked him in the eye and told him, “You’re the only one I trust to do this,” before handing off an upcoming mission.
It was a joint operation with Commander Cody to the moon of Sijden, coupled with the most uninformative brief Rex had ever received from a rather hassled midshipman. In retrospect, the barebones brief of the lunar environment seemed to fit their surprisingly smooth mission. Until today, when they returned to the 501st flagship.
The rare feeling of an objective efficiently accomplished fled from Rex’s mind not two minutes into their mandatory post-mission physical in the medbay when Coric screamed, “Get off the beds! Now!”
It was the loudest Rex heard the medic shout off a battlefield, and the most frightened he’d seen Coric look when not in immediate danger. Rex and Commander Cody, sitting on the medbed next to him, complied, jumping to their feet, mirroring Coric’s expression of fear. They stood frozen, awaiting orders, in their mismatched uniforms– painted lower plastoid armor and black bodysuit tops.
“What? What’s wrong?” Rex’s voice sounded far from composed; keeping a level tone was impossible when the legion’s head medic barely got words past his own surprise.
Coric zipped back into his adjoining office. Noises identical to spelunking crashed about as Coric apparently explored every drawer he owned. “You came into contact with the water?!”
Coric’s last statement not ten seconds earlier had been so nonchalant. He didn’t even ask how they felt; he just outright surmised their physicals would be simple due to no exposure to water.
It seemed innocuous to negate. Rex just as nonchalantly admitted how he and Cody had fallen into a lake on Sijden. And that’s when Coric flipped out.
“Microscopic parasites run rampant in the water on Sijden!” Coric shouted from the next room over, his drawer-slamming matching his vehemence.
“That was conveniently left out of our brief,” Cody intoned.
And it would’ve been great to know, in hindsight.
“Any exposure to water needs to be examined!” Coric once more bustled into the medbay wearing protective gloves up to his elbows, goggles, and a face mask. “But don’t worry, I’ve just called in the hazmat unit.”
The officers exchanged wide-eyed glances.
“You what?!” Rex cried, but Coric was already barking orders over the protests.
“Take all your armor off! Stack it here!” The medic didn’t let the fact that he only had basic sanitation spray stop him– he practically hosed down the growing pile of discarded armor with every dispenser he could get his hands on by the time two clones in large yellow protective suits waddled into the medbay.
Specialty squads like the hazmat unit were still an enigma to Rex, and seeing them in full gear gave him pause. Cody seemed to share his hesitance as he observed the new clones with a stiffness mirroring Rex, but Coric enthusiastically waved them in and directed them to the dripping armor pile.
While one investigated the armor with a handheld scanner, the second approached the officers bearing two canisters in each hand.
“We don’t have the tech on this ship to safely scan for microscopic parasites on organics,” the clone said from behind a thin shield of transpariplast. It was just large enough to show his nondescript face inside his yellow hood. “But put this on your skin and it’ll help amplify the scanners we can use.”
The second hazmat soldier joined his brother around the armor, leaving Rex and Cody to exchange glances once more, followed by a mutual, bracing breath.
Rex opened his canister to stare at the potent green paste inside. He grabbed Coric’s arm as the medic passed, pulling him between two possibly contaminated clones.
“The paint’s supposed to go where?”
“On everything your bodysuit’s touching.” Coric slipped straight out of Rex’s hold and sprayed his own armor with sanitizer. He continued on his way, cleaning every surface he came across.
Cody leveled a glare at the captain. “This is your fault,” he mumbled as they both pulled off their shirts.
“You would’ve told him about the lake yourself!” retorted Rex.
“And the reason we fell into the lake in the first place was your fault, too,” Cody reminded. “This is going in your next Officer’s Report.”
“The 212th doesn’t contribute to my OR.”
“It will this time.”
Despite their griping, their clothes came off and the cold paint went on. Yes, the énouement was bitterly strong today.
Cody winced the further down he spread the paste. “Is it supposed to burn like this?”
“Burning means it’s working,” one yellow-suited clone responded. They both waved different types of scanning equipment across the armor pile. One, sleek and oblong, made frequent beeping sounds as it emitted a transparent red beam; the other, wired to an outdated box gauge hanging from one clone like a satchel, clicked sporadically.
Coric donned a new pair of medical gloves for the third time. His cleaning rampage ended– just short of scorching the medbay with fire– in time to see Rex and Cody painted from their necks to their ankles.
“This is the last time I’m volunteering for one of your missions,” Cody muttered, shifting from foot to foot.
Rex stood a little more compacted than before. “This is the last time I’m accepting one of these missions.”
“Don’t worry,” the medic assured them, “green’s definitely your color.”
The yellow-suited clones closed in on them, waving a third type of scanner, one that screeched, over the green paint. Rex couldn’t remember a time he’d felt more exposed– or a time his body burned in so many places at once. To the hazmat unit’s credit, they were very thorough. That just meant the scanning process took upwards of an hour, and for that whole time Rex and Cody stood there in coagulating green paint.
At least it gave Coric the courage to approach them once more.
After the hour-long scan, the hazmat clones declared the officers were safe, but temporarily confiscated all their gear. The bodysuits they intended to burn, while the armor they loaded into a cart brought by additional clones from their unit. They planned to decontaminate the pieces in their own bay where they had access to much more specialized equipment, assuring the officers their armor would be returned… soon.
“In the meantime, a night in the medbay for observation is the best thing for you,” a hazmat clone advised before the unit exited. The only trace they were ever there was the green paint left on Rex and Cody.
Coric rubbed his large sanitized gloves together. “Perfect timing. Kix is on duty tonight!”
Rex tried to move. Faint cracking noises sounded from the top layer of paint; everything underneath was still congealing and the texture alone convinced Rex to not move again.
“I need out of this now.”
Coric pointed the way to the medbay ‘fresher, and unfortunately for Rex, Cody pulled rank for the privilege of using it first.
Énouement brimming, Rex sat on the edge of a medbed covered in coagulating, cracking, flaking green paint, while Coric escaped to his office once more. The medic returned in his standard armor, all preventative accoutrements gone.
“This physical went a little differently than I was expecting,” Rex grunted. As much as he wanted to fling all limbs wide, he suffered the repulsive squish he created by hunching over, and modestly crossed arms and legs to hide places covered in paint anyway.
Coric gazed across the spotless medbay. “It hasn’t been clean like this in awhile, but it’s not exactly worth a parasite scare.”
Rex chuckled despite himself, and a fresh series of cracks responded. A moment later, the door opened for Ahsoka to dash in, panting from what could’ve only been a long run. She held a wad of black in her hands.
“Kid–!” Rex fought all programming that demanded he jump to attention– or just stand in acknowledgment of her presence– at that moment. He managed to curl up a little tighter on himself, cheeks suddenly ruddy.
“Rex!” Two steps closer, Coric held out a halting hand.
“Commander, you should probably, ah, keep your distance.” He intercepted her and received her bundle– a black bodysuit. “Thanks for this, sir.” While he brought the suit back to a medbed to fold properly, Ahsoka took a faltering step, as if remembering a half a second too late she wasn’t supposed to advance.
“Rex, how are you feeling? I heard from Coric about the quarantine and I wanted to check in on you.” The sincerity in her voice hit him as hot as the ‘fresher he was missing out on. “Plus I had to bring over an extra suit.”
Rex leveled a glare on the medic. “You called the commander to have her bring a change of clothes?!”
“I did no such thing,” Coric responded, hands defensively high. “I told her the situation and she ran errands all on her own.”
“It’s fine, Rex,” Ahsoka spoke up. “I would’ve come regardless. Had to make sure you were all right.” She was close enough to see the pity in her eyes as she looked over his green body.
Rex’s limbs crossed him a little tighter, and he tried not to cringe at that extra squish of paint. “Thanks for your concern, sir. I’m fine. I’ll feel better once I get showered and change…” If Cody ever relinquished the ‘fresher.
Ahsoka smirked. If she hadn’t picked up on his body language, his dark blush must’ve clued her in. “As you were, Captain.” She casually retreated to the door. “If you need any help, just call.”