so warning I guess: Ptsd, some hurt/comfort, some bad joking at the end, idek my guys I wrote this at three am three weeks ago.

Conquest is quiet, buried in the countryside of England and hidden down dirt roads and gravel and hours away from a city so as not to disturb the he likes it; Currently he doesn't. It's cold and it's wet and he thinks it might snow and Infection can't get a good read on the spores and the pollen and the growth rates of the viruses around them. He'd been here for six years now, been all over the world and all over other worlds for thirty-five years prior and maybe some indeterminable amount before that, yet the grey compound makes the Ophacian tired to look at so he tries not to, bundled up and making an attempt to help cover the rose bushes he'd planted in the front of the building and he realizes it.

There's a blankness behind his eyes and its spreading through his head and all Infection can think is 'Oh, that isn't supposed to happen' so he ignores it. He goes about his day and he feels detached, the limbs he's using aren't his but they are, the voice that's speaking and laughing isn't his but it is. This body isn't his (but it is, he chose this one, he remembers this) and its heavy and uncomfortable and Infection comes to realize that this must be what dissociating feels like, or at least from what he can guess. For forty years he's dealt with soldiers who would suffer through this and he tried to help them but its the one thing he can't understand; He as a whole has no brain, he's a parasite and a diesease that has only gotten this far through evolution and body stealing and he tamps the thoughts down. He's being altruistic again when he can't afford to be.

He really wants to know why he couldn't have died or been frozen solid twenty years ago so he wouldn't go through this now. He decides not to dwell on it and suffer through the bite of cold in his hands at the late autumn chill in England and finishes up quietly, greets those coming and going with a nod and quiet words. He's only forty-one and he isn't sure whether everyone sees him as an ally or as a potential threat still. The thought sends shivers down his spine at the memory of prodding needles and gloved hands and bright white lights.

Infection doesn't go inside until the lieutenant comes out to get him; he can't feel his fingertips or his nose, and his brain helpfully reminds him they weren't his once.

Being humanitarian while not being human weighs heavier on him than it should.

It was fine, he lied, Nekomata didn't know what he was doing when he did it. He was fine, he continued to lie, he just wasn't getting enough sleep. That one was at least a little true, seeing as he'd wake up with his limbs stiff as a board, hearing Nekomata snoring in the bed next to his while he tried to force awa Uh the images of explosions dancing behind his eyelids as he blinked and the faces of those he couldn't save twisted in horror and agony and Infection felt like he was going to throw up. Forcing himself out of his bunk and out of the room on shaking legs, heading towards nowhere in particular and ending up in the common room. Umbra is there, watching something and cleaning her rifle and they look at each other briefly before she make room for him on the couch.

Infection doesn't ask why she's awake and Umbra doesn't ask him; They've both been alive long enough to have been through things they don't care to share and Infection finds himself wondering if Umbra is awake to try to run away from nightmares and memories too. Instead, he finds a blanket draped over his shoulders and the warmer body of the Cheomnephi pressed to his side as she continues with what she's doing and he stares at the television silently, not seeing or hearing but blocking the world around him.

Umbra isn't wearing her prosthetic and that's all the answer he needs for how the sniper is feeling.

It was the worst timing, the worst mission, the worst week; They were deployed to deal with contingent soldiers in Nigeria, it was supposed to be easy. They were supposed to be home before noon. Wheezing in air as he places himself behind debris, Infection sits there and covers his ears; he's lost his headphones, they were left somewhere in the streets and it's all too loud, it's all too much, and just as he's about to move, get out of hiding an explosion rocks him to the left and he can hear distantly screaming and sobbing from civilians, from soldiers young and old and he stumbles up, feeling too young and too old at the same time.

Stumbling, hurrying to more cover as another volley of explosives rocks the world near him, knocking him off his feet as he hits the ground hard and cracks his mouth off of sharp flagstones and he lets loose a sob. Its too much, it's just way too much and his head feels like it's collapsing and expanding at the same time and he can't push back the sounds of gunfire and screaming and explosions and it's all too loud loud loud. He can't stop seeing that night years ago when it all started, when they'd lost hundreds of people all over the world and its happening again.

It starts to switch to something else, something worse and he must be screaming because there are hands on his face and covering his mouth and they're covered in latex gloves and his balaclava is too tight and he can feel patting on his cheeks and he hears something distantly and tries to focus on that.

Opening his eyes reveals a very concerned Moira, the lieutenant's face set heavier into worry, her grey-blue eyes afraid and he freezes, trying to breathe and failing and choking on stale air and her hand moves from his cheek to his mask and its pulled down and he sobs. He sobs and wails and he knows it's not happening but he can feel bullets tearing through his stomach and it hurts.

"Moira. Moira, Moira, the civilians, you have to, to, to get the civilians-" his hands are grabbed and she shushes him.

"There are no civilians, Doc, the were all evacuated-"

"No, nonononono, Moira they are in danger, Moira please!" and he keens, feeling hard biomass tearing through his skin in a subconscious way to defend himself. The spidery limbs are curling around him pitifully and they're batted away so she can lean in and grab him, carrying him on her side like he was a small child but he just clings, shaking as he comes down from the flashbacks and his biomass goes limb and drags along the ground pathetically.

Never before has he been so thankful that Moira was so large, it made it easier to hide from the rest of Ego 5 as they boarded the ship.

It's the middle of the night when he's laying there the couch in the common room two days later, still exhausted from the mission and his attack. No one pressed him for information, they walked on eggshells and Infection slept. He didn't want to be stuck there in his room and away from everyone else. Opening an eye as his feet were lifted and then set down on something cold and metal that made him try to pull his feet away on instinct, he saw Nekomata. The cyborg didn't look at him as he turned on the tv and sat back, hands rubbing at his bare feet and ignoring the soft noises of confusion he made as he forced himself to be more awake.

"What are you doing?" he mumbled, crimson eyes tired and curious.

"I'm rubbing your feet."

The deadpanned reply had him trying to sit up but he fell back with an 'oof' as his foot was tugged upwards, "Why though?"

"You look like you need something to help you relax," he shrugged silver shoulders, grinning, "I mean, I could always try and seduce you into a quickie in the couch if you'd prefer-"

"No, oh my god, shut up. I will take the foot rub." Nekomata's laugh hurt his ears and he made a face at him, cheeks red. Settling back in, it was quiet for a few moments.

"You can't change the past," looking at Nekomata, Infection furrowed his brow.


"You had a panic attack cause of what happened on the mission. Moira said it was cause of something twenty years ago," his biomass froze in his veins, and he made to move but was suddenly blanketed by a cat masquerading as a cyborg, "You don't have to feel like shit alone."

"I couldn't save them…" Nekomata blinked at him, "So many people died that night. I couldn't… i couldn't save them…" the last part was whispered and he wanted to cry again when a pair of hands threaded into his hair and he was nuzzled into by the other. Instinctively wrapping his arms around the other's broader chest, feeling metal hands move through the loose curls.

"You can't change the past, Doc. You can just live with it and deal with it." Infection simply heaved a sigh at the other, rolling his eyes at the twenty three year old. They laid there for an hour, Infection tracing the seams on his back as the other scratched the back of his skull gently.

"Feel better," Infection nodded at him, watching as the cyborg pulled away, "Good. Just so you know, sex is still on the table-"

"No. Absolutely not." The medic pushed Nekomata off him, watching as the soldier flailed as he fell backwards and off the couch, making him snort out a laugh that worsened as the other looked at him in indignation, eyes narrowed and lips pressed into a thin line. Calming himself after a few moments at the other's expense, Infection let himself flop back down, staring at the other with matching pink cheeks. He may not be human, but he supposed his memories were, even if they made him want to die and feel inferior and he smiled, eyes soft and he could see how the man looked away in embarrassment.

"Thank you, Shuu." and he couldn't help breaking out into another fit of giggles as the other looked like he'd been slapped and it was okay.

He was okay.