The worst is when the burns on his face start to heal. The scabs itch worse than the crotch rot Ray had by the end of his tour in Afghanistan. He can't escape it, every time Ray smiles, talks or fucking looks anywhere he can feel the pull on his tender new skin. He can't even wear his shades because they keep rubbing on the scabs next to his nose.
They're not even 48 hours into the war and Ray is going crazy. He's high on ripped fuel, no sleep and nerves. It all makes for fidgety hands that need to do something, move, or pick at something.
When they stop Ray loses his distraction of driving, massaging the radio into working, reaching for dip and water. He itches. So fucking much.
He's just dug his gave when he gives into the urge to scratch at his face. It's such a relief that Ray groans a little. One little rub at his face and the dam just breaks.
He's still scratching when he walks over to 2-3's Humvee. The pleasure is intense, better than his last jack before they left Matilda. It's bordering on painful when his sensitive skin pulls but Ray can't stop because for the first time in days it doesn't fucking itch.
Ray walks up to Baptista and Espera, fully intending to give the former shit for falling back into Spanish on the comms again.
"The fuck do you think you're doing?" Doc Bryan is up in Ray's personal space so fast Ray wonders if he somehow warped time and space.
"Taking in the beautiful Iraqi air?" Ray knows he's in for it, so he goes for one good last scratch. Tim's fingers are like a vice around his wrist when they snatch his hand away.
"Was there some part of do not scratch your fucking face that was unclear, Person?" Doc Bryan's glare is scintillating as he dares Ray to say something. Ray shakes his head negatively.
"Go ahead, keep it up. When your face starts pussing and bleeding from infection, don't come looking to me." Tim's turn is near regulation perfect as he walks back to 2-3's Humvee. He roots around in his pack for a second.
Tim tosses a foil packet at Ray like an accusation. It oozes viscous fluid when Ray opens it.
"The fuck is this? Lube?"
"It's aloe with lidocaine and you're going to put it on your goddamn face. If I see you even think about scratching your face again, I will cut your fucking fingers off. Are we clear, Corporal?"
Doc Bryan's back is stiff with indignant annoyance when he walks off.
"Shit dog, you just got told," Poke says after he spits into the dirt.
"I would not want to make that motherfucker really mad," Ray replies.
"We'd probably find you dead in your ranger grave one morning," Poke agrees. "Assuming there was even a body to find. White folks are fucking scary like that."
"Amen, brotha," Batista chimes in.
The problem is that Ray keeps thinking about his initial question. The aloe works great, makes Ray's face stop itching for at least an hour. The relief opens up Ray's attention to other matters, like how horny he is.
The lotion makes his skin go tingly then slightly numb when Ray puts it on. Ray's always been careful about exactly what he puts on his dick and the idea seems pretty bad at first. But the more sleep he doesn't get, Ripped Fuel he mainlines and longer he thinks about it; the more Ray starts to wonder.
When Ray gets the next foil of aloe from Doc Bryan, he thanks him and shuffles off quickly. Ray's sitting in his grave with his helmet off and vest open, contemplating the shiny packet when Tim's shadow looms over him.
"It goes on your face, Person."
Ray doesn't start out of guilt only because he heard Doc Bryan walking up.
"Of course it does," Ray says. He's not quite prepared when Bryan reaches down and hauls him, gear and all, out of his ranger grave. His face smashes into the side of the vehicle when the other man shoves him up against 2-1's Humvee.
"I know Marines will fuck anything, but unless you want your dick to go painfully numb I'd strongly suggest using that on just your face." Doc's shoved up right behind Ray with his hands trapping Ray's wrists behind him, snarling into his ear.
"You’re going to put the lotion on your face, Ray. You’ll do it when I tell you."
"I rub the lotion on my skin or I get the hose again?" Ray huffs a laugh and struggles slightly against Tim's hold. Tim doesn’t laugh at his little joke. All Ray can feel is Bryan's solid, unmoving mass behind him.
"If you keep ignoring my orders, you'll be lucky if I make a suit out of your pimply hick skin."
Doc pulls Ray away from the vehicle, only to turn him around and slam him back against it. Reaching down, he pulls the foil packet out of Ray's hand.
"Fucking Devil Dogs, so goddamn retarded." Doc Bryan smears some of the aloe on Ray's face, his fingers gentle in counterpoint to the harshness of his voice.
"If I have to do this again myself, I'm going to zip-tie your wrists, do you understand? You can be the one to explain to Sergeant Colbert why your numb hands can't operate a steering wheel or radio." Tim tosses the remainder of the packet to Ray as he steps back.
"Find something else to help with your combat jacks and keep that off your dick. Do you hear me, Person?"
"Roger that," Ray mutters.