Prompt: Fall, fear, overwhelmed
Word count: 1K
Warnings: Language. Character death (not A/E). Pre-slash.
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He's young. Maybe too young, they think.
But he doesn't think so. Of course, they never do.
Even when he doesn't know what he's doing, even when he's scrambling around, ducking bullets and diving behind desks, the adrenaline pumping through his veins, breath shallow and rapid, pulse fluttering beneath heated skin. Sweat staining his clothes, eyes flickering at the littlest movements.
He can do this, he tells himself as he grits his teeth.
How many times has he practised this already?
Five minutes under. Ten. Thirty. Hour after hour. Day after day after day. Under the machine as the seconds count down. But it's not the same when you're under. You die, you wake up. The pain, however real, never lasts.
It's not the same here.
Here, if you get shot here, you die.
There's no reset button this time. Game over. Just like that.
Like Takada, lying on the tiles, body twisted and riddled with bullets. Blank eyes forever open, staring sightlessly.
He’s seen death before. Old age. Car accident. But not like this. Not this brutal, unforgiving war. He's experienced death before, seen the blood spilling out, flesh torn and bleeding. But it's never been real. Never been like this. Even after all the times he's been under, he's never really been prepared for this.
He breathes. In, out. Fingers gripping the gun tight, so tight. Knuckles white, trying to keep the stale taste of fear from overwhelming him.
Then he sees his other teammate, Colt, crouching low behind a potted plant. She's signalling to him.
A distant, numb part of his brain realizes what he's seeing. He shakes his head, no. No.
She glares at him, her hand signals coming more swiftly now.
Fuck. No, not like this--
And then she does it. Rolls out from behind the plant, shooting, giving him a chance to get away.
The bullets rain down on them. A hail of deadly fire.
He doesn't know how but by miraculous, sheer luck, he manages to dodge it all. And then the two of them are running. Pelting down the hallway, rounding the corner.
Footsteps echo loudly behind them; they're being followed.
They just need to make it outside. Two more corridors. Just two.
Hearts in their throats, they're running and running, their pursuers nipping at their heels. He slams into the door, heaving it open.
It's night sky and an ocean of stars, spilling across the dark banner like bottle of glitter. It's clean and cold, crisp air even though it's midnight in July.
It's their getaway car, driver with the window rolled down, gun cocked at the door.
And they're diving for the passenger door, and they're in, with the tires squealing as they peel away from the building.
Eames asks if they're all right. Doesn't bother to ask about Takada. If he's not with them, he's gone. Simple as that.
He's about to reply that they're okay but his partner's heavy panting tells him otherwise.
She yanks her jacket aside and he sees her shirt, soaked with crimson. Eames tells him he'll have to staunch the blood, keep the pressure on it, since they're miles away from any sort of help and since Takada their resident doctor.... Since Takada. Otherwise--no, there is no 'otherwise'.
The shirt, white and stark, blossoming with red, red blood in the low, interior light of the car.
Then he's cutting the shirt off with a pair of scissors; he's never seen this much blood before. At least, not in real life. It's thick, sticky and bright. So very bright.
He fumbles for the tweezers, trying not to drop it. Fingers scrabbling, he can feel the panic filling his fingers, seeping into his limbs. They tremble, they shake.
He thinks he's going to throw up, bites down on his gorge, fights the urge. Shaking his head, he tells her he can't. He just can't.
She grips his arm with her good hand, clenching until it hurts, her voice low and hard as she tells him that he has to.
He has no choice.
She grabs her jacket and bites down hard, muffling her scream, face losing all colour, turning bone white, when he's in, stainless steel twisting and grabbing inside her body, inside her flesh.
Get it out. Get it out.
After what feels like hours, he finally extracts the bullet, drops it like a bomb. And it falls. It falls and falls, a bullet in the dark, a little piece of grit, and hits the floor, staining the carpet. The tweezers follow suit and he applies a broad-spectrum antibiotic, patches her up with what feels like thick, clumsy fingers, and keeps pressure on the wound.
She tells him he did a good job, her voice faint, her eyes closed.
He doesn't think so though.
Seconds pass. Second after second, piling up into minutes. Minute after minute after minute. Until it feels like hours. Days. Years. He knows though, it's probably only been an hour. Hour and a half, tops. And yet, somehow, he feels as though he's aged a lifetime.
And then the car is stopping. And they're back at the warehouse.
And he stumbles out of the vehicle and then he's on his knees, retching. Dry heaves that leave him shaking like a leaf as he stares at his hands. Stares at the blood staining his fingers, the blood that's not his own, that's so very real. Even from the faint light of the vehicle, he can see the rivulets of blood seeping into the life lines on his hands.
Shuddering, he scrubs his hands on his pants and rises to his feet. He feels numb, cold. Staring at his hands, he feels a sudden rush of vertigo, hears a distant ringing in his ears as little black spots form before his eyes.
He draws in a faint breath, clenches his fists and tries to focus.
“You all right, kid?” Eames asks, laying a comforting hand on Arthur's shoulder. It's warm and heavy, grounding him, bringing him back from the blood.
You all right, kid....
He doesn't know, doesn't reply. Doesn't have any words in him.
He's young. Maybe too young.
Many thanks to the wonderful ohmydarlingdear and staticlights for doing a reading of the fic and drawing such gorgeous art. You guys rock! ♥