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This page last viewed: 2017-12-13 and has been viewed 1312 times
Warnings: Angst throughout, death (in the past, not of a major character)
Summary: Things are not always as they seem when Dr. Richter learns something new from a low-key patient
Dr. Alan Richter jotted a few notes down and looked back up at his patient. "Keep going," he urged gently, supportively.
"I respect him, you know."
"I know." The conversation was starting on the same track as always.
"I-I'm just doing my job. They don't get it." He rubbed his eyes wearily. The room was almost completely quiet for a moment, the soft tick-tock of the wall clock being the only sound present.
"Doc, do you think that a man is the sum of his actions?"
This was new, Richter thought. "Well, it depends, I think."
"On the man."
A pause, then: "What if he regrets them?"
Richter looked at him curiously. Those normally hard, steely gray eyes held a certain fear in them today, as if he were reliving something he'd rather forget. "What. . . what do you mean?"
The patient ran his hands through his silver hair. "I wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night. Every night, since the day I got back." His voice was matter-of-fact, but Richter noticed the heavy shaking in his hands.
He opened his mouth to speak, but couldn't form the words. He looked at Richter sadly.
"Just try. That's all I'm asking."
The man raised his head to meet Richter's calm, detatched gaze. Richter found his eyes disturbing. They were glazed over in painful memory, wide and vulnerable. It didn't look right on this man. He'd never looked so. . . small before.
"They say they were just following orders, right?" Richter knew who "they" were all too well. Come up in every session. "Well, I was just following orders, too." His voice was getting noticably more hysterical and high strung with each word. "It's not like I wanted to, I had to. My C.O. would say, 'Go blow up that hospital,' and I would. And then I'd get back to base and send my mother money so she could pay her hospital bills. 'Go destroy that orphanage.' I close my eyes at night and see burned corpses next to stuffed animals. Smith thinks they had it bad? I had a three year old son to face at home." He laughed mirthlessly. "I can hear the conversation now. 'Daddy, what did you do today?' I torched a kid who could've been your best friend in a different time and place, son." The laughter turned into anger, then quiet sobs, and then finally died down into silence. Colonel Roderick Decker leaned his forearms on his knees, hands and head hanging listlessly. He was slackjawed and spent. With nothing left to say but the obvious, he got up, wiped his eyes, and left.
Richter hoped to high hell that his composure didn't match his mind. Decker had never done anything, said anything like that before, and he had a feeling that it would be a while before he heard from the good colonel again.
Moments later, Murdock walked in, head facing down the hallway. His head snapped towards Richter. "Decker was here?"
"Yeah." Richter knew Murdock would jump to conlusions about Decker's reasons, but the shrink couldn't mention anything about that. Doctor-patient confidentiality, and all that. But he did say what he could:
"Remember, Captain, the world does not revolve around your friends."
The anger that was boiling up in Murdock simmered down to quiet confusion as he sat down to begin the session.
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