Before the rest of the Baltics had awoken, Feliks had set a special alarm an hour early so that he’d have time to run back to his room, get a shower, and finally change into his own clothes. The shirt and pajamas he’d borrowed from Liet he’d return after washing them. Eventually. With a glance to the clock, he realized he still had just enough time to get back into the Baltics’ room, on the other side of the floor.
He made it just in time to see Toris wake up. When the brunet went to wake up the boys, he nodded and replied:
“I’ll grab something like breakfast and get my car keys.”
As one of the few Nations who had, Feliks had come by car instead of by train. Shut up, it certainly wasn’t because he didn’t think he’d be able to afford plane tickets…! (Other countries had their governments pay FOR them.) It was a personal choice. That’s all.
Either way, he loved the old modified Syrena. He’d, with Gilbert’s help, squashed some bugs in the design and pretty much rebuilt it from scratch, but it still retained the beautiful shape that was usually one of the few upsides of this model. As he ran to his room to grab the keys (the countries were neighbors! Why were their rooms so far apart?), he remembered breakfast and grabbed a few granola bars from a snack machine coming back.
With a glance to his watch, he realized it was only 7:30. Good. He’d been unable to find the keys before, but he did locate them in the end (inside one of his shoes- he wouldn’t even ask).
“Are you guys ready to go?” The man called as he walked in. He noticed that indeed, Lithuania was and was making coffee. Estonia was half-dressed and helping Latvia. Sealand was sleeping like a rock.
They’d forgotten Peter! He was still sound asleep in Ravis’ bed. Feliks quickly made his way over to the sleeping child, shaking his shoulder.
“Peter…Peter! Peter, wake up.”
“Huh…?” The micronation mumbled, sitting up groggily. Disoriented. “It’s really early, Mr. Felix…”
“Yeah. I know. Ravis is going to see a doctor now. I’m going to take you back to Finland’s, okay?”
“Is he gonna be okay?”
“Sure. Just a check-up to see if he’s healing all right. Oh, and Dr. Lewis told America and he told whoever woke you to tell you that he sends his greetings. Tell Tino, okay?”
“Sure!” Sealand seemed more awake now. “You’re going to see Dr. Lewis? He’s my doctor! He’s really nice!”
“Sure. Come on.” Feliks took the small boy’s hand into his own and made for Finland’s room.
Once Poland came back, he and Lithuania coaxed the others into the car. Each of the younger boys was given a granola bar, though they seemed too nervous to eat.
The drive to Dr. Lewis’ office was silent. Estonia and Latvia clung to each other and slept, and Poland and Lithuania didn’t want to wake them by speaking.
As soon as they found a parking spot in the (relatively) deserted parking lot, Lithuania gently shook the younger Baltics awake. Instead of waking up instinctively like they were conditioned to, it took Latvia a few moments before his eyes snapped open for good. Estonia looked mentally exhausted, but was able to get up after cracking his neck. Noticing that his friend was having trouble walking, the bespectacled Nation picked him up, almost cradling him in his arms.
It took some time to get to the office (since Lithuania guided everyone down the wrong hallway), but once they did, they sat down and waited to be called.
“Why is this place empty? I thought for sure that there would be a whole line of people waiting to be checked out.” Lithuania looked around, confused.
“That’s because you’re here before we’re technically ‘open’.” A blond man with curly hair and a warm smile entered the room from the door that led past the reception area. “I’m Dr. Lewis.” He stretched his hand out to Lithuania, who shook it. He did the same with Poland, but when he tried extending his hand towards Estonia and Latvia, they merely looked down, almost unsure of what to do.
“Well, let’s get you all back into my office so I can take a look at you.”
Estonia sucked in his breath, creating an almost-pained hissing noise that did not go unnoticed by the doctor.
“I’ll be gentle, don’t worry. And your friends will be with you the whole time, unless you want privacy.”
The Finno-Ugric boy merely looked down again.
As soon as the group made it into the examination room, Latvia and Estonia took the chairs closest to the door, while Poland and Lithuania stood.
Dr. Lewis sighed. “All right. America said you all had some scarring, which is to be expected. However, I still want to look at them before I move on to the X-rays.”
“X-rays?” Latvia practically squeaked.
“They won’t hurt, Raivis. Please trust me; I’m here to help.”
“How do you know my name?” Latvia looked suspicious.
“I’m Peter’s doctor. You’re one of his best friends; he’s showed me pictures of you.”
“Oh.” Latvia looked less concerned, though his hands twisted the fabric of his jacket nervously.
“Who wants to go first? Estonia?”
Estonia shook his head, pulling his jacket closed even tighter.
“I’ll go.” Lithuania knew that he’d be the first one to be looked over; of course the others wouldn’t step out of their comfort zones. (Not that he wanted to, either, but it had to be done.)
Taking a deep breath, the brunet removed his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt. As soon as his back was exposed, Dr. Lewis’ eyes widened.
“Oh…oh my.” The blond man jotted down some notes. “America wasn’t exaggerating… I hoped he was, but…” He took a breath. “Are the others like you?”
“Yes.” Lithuania’s voice was barely audible. “Though Latvia’s and Estonia’s are worse now, since some of their wounds have been reopened.”
“He’s still abusing you?”
Lithuania knew exactly who Dr. Lewis was referring to. “He was… But America finally ended it all.”
“I’m glad. I don’t know you well, like I know Arthur and Peter, but nobody deserves this.” He gestured to the scars on Lithuania’s back and chest. “Who’s next?”
The eldest Baltic looked at the younger ones, silently pleading that one of them step forward.
Much to his surprise, Estonia raised a (shaking) hand. “I’ll go.” Closing his eyes, the boy undid his shirt buttons and let the garment pool to the floor. Taking a shaky breath, he bit his lip as he unbuttoned his pants. Once he (ungracefully) kicked them off, he clenched his fists, which were plastered tightly against his sides.
“Your thighs, too?” Dr. Lewis shook his head sadly. “Could you undo the bandages on your chest and shin? I want to see how the healing is coming along.”
At the word ‘healing’, Estonia flinched. But he did what he was told.
“Estonia? These wounds are infected.”
When Lithuania really looked at them, he saw that the doctor was right. Bright red skin contrasted with Estonia’s pale flesh, creating an almost-beautiful contrast. Pink radiated from the main wounds, making the skin around them look puffy. While his legs were starting to scab, the deep cuts on his chest were still lightly bleeding.
“This shouldn’t happen! Your healing abilities should have at least stopped the bleeding!”
“Not mine. Mine failed back in the eighteen-nineties. I heal only a little faster than a human, now.”
Before he could continue, Dr. Lewis gently wrapped his arms around him. “This shouldn’t have happened! I wish I was there to help you.”
“No. Don’t ever wish that upon yourself.” Estonia’s voice was cold. “Never wish to be with me, in that era. I would never wish it upon any human.”
“But if someone could have saved you, would you have accepted the help?” Dr. Lewis ended the embrace, but kept his hands on the boy’s shoulders.
Estonia squirmed, unused to the physical contact. “Not from a human,” he finally said. “But not because I don’t like them. It’s because they can’t come back. It was already hard enough to see… to see Raivis…to see him…”
Suddenly, Estonia yanked himself away from the doctor and ran for the door. Lithuania stopped him, grabbing the younger Nation and pulling him into a hug.
“Sssh, it’s okay, Eduard. You don’t have to run. You’re safe here.” The brunet tried to soothingly rub his bare back, but was met with stiffened muscles and quiet sobs.
“I don’t want anyone else to die. Not because of me… Especially not humans.”
“I didn’t know the question would affect him.” Dr. Lewis looked sadly at the trembling boy. “His injures go much farther than his body…” Kneeling down, he tilted Estonia’s chin towards him. “Tell me, Eduard, did Russia say anything to you about humans?”
Estonia would not look the man in the eyes, but eventually, he nodded. “He said that if they helped me, they would die, because they were betraying the USSR. And it would be all my fault, since they were fighting for me. So many people died because they wanted me to be independent. But it was for Estonia, not Eduard. Russia was stupid; he thought people were aware of us. But they weren’t. Russia didn’t have to worry about my people helping me escape. Because I didn’t exist, to them.” He laughed, his voice hoarse.
“Eduard…” Lithuania knew something was wrong; the boy wasn’t making much sense. “When did this happen? What did Russia do to you?”
“Soviet era. Right after we were taken back from Germany. You were helping bandage Latvia at the time. I was working downstairs. Russia was mad about something. About my people resisting, I think. He caught me off-guard.” Now, Estonia grabbed Lithuania’s arms like a lifeline. “He locked both of us in the bathroom. Stripped me. Made me look at myself in the mirror. He pointed out everything that was wrong with me, and my land. And why it was only natural that I would forever serve under other Nations. He humiliated me! And then…he…”
“What happened?” Poland demanded.
“He filled up the sink with water, grabbed my head, and pushed me underwater. I had to agree with his statements otherwise he’d really drown me. I don’t know how long it had been, but when he finally left, I couldn’t think straight. All I knew was that my people were dying for me. Because of me. And I couldn’t see it any other way.”
Dr. Lewis looked at the two older Baltics, alarmed. “This is worse than I thought…” he muttered.
Lithuania looked down at the trembling boy in his arms. This is nothing. Wait until you see Raivis…
“Ravis? Can you take off your shirt and show me your scarring, now?” Dr. Lewis nodded toward Latvia, who was sitting in a chair against the wall.
“No…” The protest was quiet and meek, but when Feliks knelt down to help him with the buttons, he didn’t stop him.
Lachlan surveyed him silently, nodding slowly when he turned around. After what had happened with Eduard, it seemed to Feliks that he was now more careful with what he said. But the way that his jaw went slack when he saw the extent of the scars was obvious.
“Well, the good news is that yours aren’t infected. Now, is that all of it?”
Ravis said “yes!” at the same time that Poland shook his head.
“No, please!” The little Latvian wasn’t even looking at Lachlan anymore, as if he were pleading with Feliks alone. “Please, can’t I just leave it alone? It hurts…”
“And Dr. Lewis is a doctor, right? I’m sure he can help you if you show him your leg.”
“No! No, no, no…” Tears had started to leak out of Ravis’ eyes, and he hid his face in the Pole’s shirt, shaking. “No…”
“It’s going to be okay,” Feliks murmured, hugging him gently. “But you have to show Dr. Lewis what’s wrong if you want to get better.”
“Come here.” Feliks took the boy gently into his arms and sat him on the examination bed, legs dangling over the edge. He then sat down next to him and pulled Ravis to his chest gently, shielding his head with his hands as he nodded to Lachlan.
“His right leg. To the knee.”
But when the doctor made to pull up his pants leg, the boy kicked his hand away with his good leg and struggled to get out of the considerably stronger Poland’s grip.
“Oh, my… Is that…” Feliks had almost forgotten that he was a veteran and perhaps had heard of-
“Yeah, it is. The entire area from his knee down was stripped of skin entirely.” His tone was curt and without any deeper emotion, forcing an indifferent tone so as not to worry Ravis more.
“I’ve heard of such things happening, back in the forties, but… never to children, not innocent children…”
“Then you’ve never seen war from the civilian perspective, have you? It’s traumatizing as a soldier. And even worse when you’re not. Trust me, I’ve seen both…”
“I’m sorry, and you are?” Previously, this perplexing man, who originally had given off a youthful aura but when touched seemed infinitely old, had simply introduced himself as “Feliks.”
“That’s right.” Feliks gently pushed the boy upright, wiping his face with his hand. “Will you let Dr. Lewis see your head?”
A nod, and a sniffle. “Okay.”
“Does it hurt when I touch you like this?” Head shake. No. “And here?” No reaction. “Does this hurt?”
“Can I take a closer look?” No reply. Lachlan gently pushed away the boy’s thick hair and inspected it carefully.
“I’m going to need to take an X-ray of this.” He turned back to Lithuania and Estonia, who had already retrieved his clothes. “If you would all come with me to the X-ray room?”