So...It's been a while. I've decided that the story will work its way out, one way or another, and I should stop worrying about the sequence of posting (since the parts posted so far are all out of sequence anyway) and just go with the flow. I won't get anything posted otherwise.
After some consideration, I've combined two bits into one, since they occur during the same period and I think anyone still reading this deserves a big chunk to make up for all of the lost time. These bits aren't very exciting, true; they're not "mission-based" posts, so don't get your hopes up. But I think they have a little spice to them, nonetheless.
These are, needless to say, from the same time period as Number Five. Some introduction to a few new characters; more on them will be posted later, of course. I'll see what I can do about the next post including more heart-pounding, bullet-dodging action.
The world itself seemed to lurch sideways, and a white light exploded behind his eyes; a sharp scream escaped Kari’s mouth, before Ross collapsed on top of her with a soft grunt. There were a few moments of pause in the darkness, while their shaky breathing seemed to fill the entire room. As their hearts began to slow to normal, Ross turned his head slightly to one side, speaking into her ear.
“Hey, are you okay?” His breath stirred the hair around her face, tickling her cheek. “I didn’t hurt you or anything, right?”
Kari took a deep breath and let it out slowly, taking stock of her body and composing herself as best she could. “No, I’m all right…” Feeling a bit more normal now, despite the awkward situation, she quirked a saucy eyebrow. “You’re heavy, though, by the way.”
Ross huffed a quick laugh and pushed himself up on his elbows, moaning slightly as he moved away. Kari narrowed her eyes, peering up at him in the darkness. “What about you?”
“…Feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. M’head’s killin’ me…”
Kari smiled at the irony. “Well, we’re certainly in the right place to have it checked…Though we should probably get up off the floor before someone comes in. Being found sprawled out in the Infirmary isn’t something I’d like to live down…”
“No kiddin’….No offense or anything, babe, but my reputation with chicks is bad enough as it is.” Ross carefully climbed to his feet, wincing slightly at the sound of crushed glass under his boots. “Never thought I’d see the day when those bastards would get a direct hit…”
“Hells yeah, man…Though if it really were
a direct hit, I think we’d be dead right now…” She felt around absently for the corner of the counter; it ran all the way along the wall, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. She reached further, wishing the emergency lighting would just come on already. “Still, close call. The Brass are going to go bat-shit over this one…”
“Aw, fuck….Everything that flies is gonna be grounded ‘til they figure out how those bitches finally found us.” Ross clutched at the counter and swore again. Just standing up assaulted him with vertigo. “Not that I’ll be flyin’ anytime soon…”
A subtle hum started up through the floor as the emergency generators kicked on. The few lights that were still in one piece gave the room a muted glow, but at least now they could see where all the broken glass was; the soles of their boots were pretty thick, but it wasn’t a chance either of them would have liked to take.
The sound of a metal clamp skittering across the floor brought their attention to a new arrival; the Doc’s face was quickly draining of color at the sight.
I’ll probably have casualties pouring in here once everyone snaps out of it.” Her gaze quickly settled on the two of them. “Kari, I’ll need you working triage; Ross, if you could get all this glass swept up, or at least out of the way until I can spare the time to do it right…” She had already turned away, quickly opening cabinets and tallying the supplies that were left intact from the bombing.
“Uh…” Ross raised his hand, like a student in class, until he got the doctor’s attention. ”As much as I’d love to help you out, I’m kinda dizzy right now. The floor keeps movin’ when it’s not supposed to…”
Cassie put down the bottles of epinephrine she had been pulling from the shelves, and gestured towards the examination table. “Have a seat, then. I’ll take a look.” He pushed himself from his anchoring hold on the counter, and swayed slightly over to the metal slab. Kari helped him hoist himself up to sit, then set out down the hallway to find a broom; the glass wasn’t going to disappear by itself, and there would still be some time to kill before the injured arrived.
“I got hit over the head by somethin’ when the bombing started.” He gestured towards the opposite doorway. “Kari an’ I bumped into each other when we both came lookin’ for you, and decided to wait ‘til you got back. Something must have fell on me during the shelling…”
Ross trailed off as the doctor sighed and closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her freckled nose in frustration. At his questioning look, she pointed to a microscope lying on its side near the door. “That’s probably what hit you…It usually sits on the corner of that counter. It was expensive, too…If not nearly irreplaceable
His tone of voice and eyebrow both rose in incredulity. “Wait just a sec’, here….Are you trying to blame me for your microscope bein’ broken? Take it up with the Authority’s bombers, babe; not me
. Besides, it nearly broke my skull when I broke its fall…”
“Right; I apologize. Let’s see your wound, then.” She leaned forward as he turned, inspecting the large welt that was quickly swelling on the back of his head. A breath hissed sharply through his teeth as she began to probe it with the tips of her fingers. He winced slightly, even at the gentle touches around the edges of the area. “Well, you’ll live; the very fact that you’re upright and talking is a good sign. But I’m going to have to keep you overnight for observation. To be honest, I’d like to get an x-ray, if at all possible. I’ll check out the equipment once I handle the more serious injuries around here. You can sit in the chair over there for now, but don’t let yourself doze off.”
Ross’ eyes narrowed. “You…think I’m in danger then, Doc?”
Her eyes darted down and away while she helped him off the table and towards the chair in the corner. “Well, it’s always a possibility with head wounds. The next few hours are the most important, so it’s better safe than sorry. You just stay in the chair over here until I can get a better look. But definitely no sleeping.” She let go of his arm as he sank into the chair, the dizziness not quite as bad as it was.
She turned back towards the stack of usable supplies, before pausing and giving him a careful look over her shoulder. He couldn’t figure out what exactly she was searching for in his eyes, but she turned towards him fully and placed her hands on her hips. “I can’t keep checking back on you all the time while I have patients, so I’ll expect a smartass remark from you every five minutes or so; just to prove that you’re still lucid.”
His hand came up in a lazy salute, mouth quirking into a leer. “Yes, ma’am!”
Kari snorted as she strode in with a broom and an extra box containing painkillers. “Good idea, Cass. If there’s one thing that boy’s good at, it’s sassin’ back. Where do you want the morphine?”
The doctor glanced up and waved vaguely. “Over there should be fine for now.”
“I’ve been known to fly planes, too, you know...Christ, this chair’s a pain in the ass.” Ross settled into a different position against the rigid metal back, and crossed his arms over his chest. He had been happy to be able to sit down at first, and any chair would have been heaven; but now that he was feeling better, and the wait would be stretching on for a few hours, he was starting to wonder who the Hell would actually design a chair this way. Some kinda sadist, probably. “This is just my luck; I come here for some sleeping pills and end up with a goddamn concussion…”
Ri paused in her sweeping to bat her eyelashes at him. “Oh, but Fantasma…If you hadn’t shielded me, I would have been hit in the face. You’re my hero
He tried not to smile at her cooing voice, instead sitting up straighter and shaking his fist at her. “You bet your ass
, I am! A fuckin’ hero
, and I demand a squishier chair.”
Cassie and Kari shared a vaguely amused look, before continuing with preparations. As Kari swept up the last of the glass, the doctor’s eyes went slightly vacant and her hands stilled over the rolls of gauze. Her head tilted slightly to one side, as if listening to something far off in the distance.
“Ah, I see; I was starting to worry, actually….Yes, that’s fine. How many?……Good. We’ll be ready for them, so you can direct them here right away….Thanks, dear.”
Generally speaking, people in The Resistance don’t talk to themselves; they talk to Ethan.
Kari leaned the broom against the far wall and turned to face the doctor. “So? What’s the ‘almighty grapevine’ have to say?” She felt something relax and loosen inside her chest to see Cassie smile.
“So far, only five people have been reported injured, and of those five, four of them are only slightly hurt. Scrapes, cuts, and some bad bruises. Mostly those that were in storage areas, where things were likely to fall. The fifth was caught on the stairs when it happened, so he has a broken wrist. Maybe even some cracked ribs, but it doesn’t look like he hit his head; we’ll double check when he gets here, though.” Cassie’s smile widened as she finished packing things into a mobile med kit. “And all children are accounted for and unharmed.”
Kari let out a low whistle of appreciation. “Go April! Small children can be a nightmare, but she somehow manages to always keep things together. Major kudos for her.” Kari accepted the med kit that was handed to her and smiled.
“I’m going to go check on the imaging equipment; we’ll need x-rays for Ross and ‘Mr. Stairs’, whoever he is. In the meantime, someone needs to check around for missing people; we haven’t gotten a complete list yet, but Ethan should keep you posted with regular bulletins. There might still be one or two that just haven’t taken time to check in yet, but mostly you’re on the lookout for people who were alone during the shelling and may be too hurt to call for help.” She tapped her left ear. “Keep in touch…If you find someone unconscious, don’t move them. Ethan’s already activated my emergency frequency, so you can call in directly to me.”
“You got it, Sugar. I’m all over it.” With a wink and fluid turn, she sauntered out the door, swinging the med kit like a model swings a purse on the catwalk.
The doctor turned to walk out, but was interrupted by a cleared throat behind her. “So….You’re just gonna leave me here?”
She turned and gave him another probing look, as if trying to see if he was hiding something. “Yes, for now. I’ll be down the hall, in the radiology room. I shouldn’t be too long, so don’t worry yourself.”
Ross looked away and crossed his arms over his chest again, a small frown creasing his face. “It’s not like I’m worried ‘bout it. You just said that I shouldn’t nod off, that’s all.”
“If you think that you might, then do something to occupy yourself until I get back.” She turned to go, pausing in the doorway when another question waylaid her.
“Occupy myself?” Ross gestured to the sterile white room, empty but for a stack of assorted medicine on the far counter. “With what
“Well…” Her eyebrows rose in mock innocence. “You could always sing.” And with that, she disappeared into the darkness beyond the doorway.
Ross settled further into the chair; stretching his legs out in front of him, he crossed them at the ankle and resisted the urge to run his hands through his hair. Folding his arms over his chest once again, he frowned into the darkness. “How many times do I have’ta tell these chicks that I can’t sing? All it takes is one drunken song’ta ruin your reputation forever. Oye….”
He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. The room seemed dimmer now, with one of the halogen lights flickering at odd intervals. The rest of the lights gave off a barely audible buzz, which seemed to mix with the hum of the generators downstairs to create a dull drone. Kari must have missed a small concave shard of test tube up on the counter, because the flickering of light caused a kind of Morse code of flashes to be reflected from the glass.
It was all kinda…relaxing. In a creepy kind of way, of course.
Ross shifted in the chair and began to hum softly. Then he began to sing under his breath.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen your face…”
Grant was having a bad day.
One minute he had been walking down the stairs, and the next, he was lying at the bottom of them- with his whole body feeling like someone had taken a baseball bat to it- and some idiot shining a flashlight in his face and babbling about how his pupils were still responsive.
Who gave a flying fuck about his pupils
when his ribs seemed to catch fire every time he took a breath? Not to mention that his right wrist was sending rhythmic pulses of agony
up his arm.
Something brushed against his forehead, and blonde hair glinted in the low light. A memory of Laura’s laughter flashed across his mind. Was it…Laura…? The pain was making it hard to think. “Where does it hurt, Grant?” Molly’s face seemed to loom suddenly out of the darkness above him.
“Everywhere.” Grant choked halfway through the word as his ribs screamed in protest. He grimaced, breathing shallowly while he tried to pinpoint which injuries were most serious. Ribs and wrist, that was for sure. Sparing himself from speaking, he used his good left hand to gesture towards his chest and other wrist.
He instantly regretted it, as she began to feel along the left side of his chest. If he’d had enough breath to scream at that moment, he would have woken the dead. Every muscle in his body tightened up, and he instinctively struggled to pull himself into the fetal position; the edges of his vision darkened and he struggled not to pass out while she pressed gently along each bone. It was several moments after
she moved away that the pain lessened to some extent, and he was able to go limp. Each shallow breath was a struggle; his body throbbed dully with his pulse, his vision gradually clearing while a cold sweat broke out over his skin.
There was a slightly rushed sound to Molly’s voice; a tightness that said she wasn’t panicking yet
. “Okay…Sorry….Okay, just try to relax. I’ll tell Ethan and we’ll get a stretcher down here. And I’ll get Laura to meet you in the Infirmary.” Grant barely heard what she was saying, though he managed to catch her eyes while she leaned over him. He figured that he must look about as hurt as he felt; Molly’s face looked pale, and her hands trembled as she tried to make him a little more comfortable. “I’m going to go grab a stretcher and get some help for carrying you. I won’t be gone long, okay?” There was no way he would have been able to answer her, but she didn’t seem to expect a response before she turned and took the stairs two at a time. As his second adrenaline rush in the past twenty minutes started to give him the shakes, his survival training began to kick in.
Small breaths, small breaths. Control your breathing. Slow your heart rate. Concentrate on something else.
Grant lay there in the semi-dark of the stairwell, trying to pull his thoughts together. He recalled the sound of explosions from above, right before his little trip down the stairs. Despite the pain it would cause, he was dying to ask what exactly
had happened. An air raid? They had been living here underground for as long as he could remember; something like this had
to be unprecedented. Did one of the ammunition storage rooms blow? Whatever had happened, the aftermath wasn’t going to be pleasant...
By the time Grant realized that he was probably going into shock, the lights came back on; he could feel the vibration from the back-up generators through the side of his head and shoulder. He could also feel his rescuers’ footsteps on the stairs before they turned the corner from the upper flight and rushed down to him.
The trip to the Infirmary was a blur to him after the pain of being moved to the stretcher; though he did
distinctly remember that one side kept dipping down below the other, threatening to tip him onto the floor.
Give any of them a rifle, and they could take out a target in the dark from three hundred yards; but give them a stretcher, and they’re half-trained monkeys. It figures
A deep sigh and some tisking sounds welcomed him to the examination room. He gingerly craned his neck back to look the Doc in the eye, watching as a dark eyebrow arched.
“Now, Grant….You promised me that I wouldn’t have to see you again for at least
another two months…” The tone was light, but there was definite worry in her green eyes. He knew that she meant well, but now was not the time for smartass comments.
He raised his good wrist slowly, and resolutely flicked her off. A tight smile curved her lips, and she gestured for him to be moved to the examination table. “I’m glad to see that you’ve still got your wits about you…” The amusement in her voice quickly shifted to alarm as the stretcher collided with the table. “Easy there! What the Hell do you think you’re doing?! He’s a casualty, not a crate of compressors. Show a little sense
…” The “volunteer medics” quickly left, leaving the petite doctor to vent under her breath while she turned to pull on some rubber gloves. Words like “clumsy idiots”, “obviously retarded”, and “already forgotten their basic medical training” could be heard above the steady stream of mumbled complaints.
For once, Cassie’s bitching was music to his ears.
She turned back with a small flashlight and moved closer to his head. “Let’s have a closer look, then.”
Ah, we’re checking the pupils…again. He would probably appreciate this same treatment someday, when his head was actually injured; but for right now, breathing
seemed a Hell of a lot more important. He gestured gingerly to his ribs with a soft grunting noise.
“All right, I know. One thing at a time, dear. I could
start with your chest, but if you had any swelling in the brain, none of that would matter much.”
“Swelling…in the…brain?” The normally firm voice was panting around each word, and Grant lost sight of the dark blonde hair as Laura bent over her knees to catch her breath. Laura was normally at the other end of Headquarters at this time of day; with its labyrinth of twisting passages and seemingly endless staircases, Headquarters was a natural fortress. Any invading force would have to split up and spread themselves thin to search the higher levels, while the lower levels were filled with hundreds of side doors and blind alleys designed with ambush defense tactics in mind. In fact, the Infirmary Area alone had eight different doors and directions of entry, and this examination room had three. Any enemy would be hopelessly lost long before they reached anything vital.
As great as that was in theory, the place was a bitch to get around from day to day. Meaning that Laura had probably just enjoyed a four-mile walk. Or run
, apparently. Cassie flicked off the flashlight and turned to face the other woman fully. “No, thankfully not. But he’s a bit worse for the wear.” Laura straightened back up and quickly approached the examination table; seeing her carefully hidden worry, Grant reached out with his good hand and gave her a small smile. Laura wrapped her fingers slowly around his, and turned to face the Doc. “How bad is it, then?”
“Well, that’s what I’m working on now…” She reached to feel along his side, only to hesitate when he automatically flinched away; Grant looked distinctly embarrassed for his body’s show of pain, and shifted back to his original position. It may have been too painful for him to speak, but his eyes met hers evenly as he made an abrupt “Well, get on with it…” gesture with his hand. Laura moved protectively closer, despite her best friend’s show of bravado, and the doctor smiled apologetically at them both. “I’ll have to touch them, but I’ll make it quick. Oh, and I’ll give you a little present, to make this easier for you.”
When the doctor held up a syringe and a bottle of clear liquid, Grant felt a surge of relief. As far as most Agents were concerned, nothing turned a bad day around like morphine…
Cassie cut away his shirt and began to spot-check his torso, while Laura watched closely and Grant floated in a very happy place. “Well, if some of his ribs are
broken, they obviously haven’t pierced the skin…” Grant only blinked lazily as she pressed the cold stethoscope to his chest. “And from the sound of his breathing, they haven’t pierced his lungs either…And I’m not hearing any signs of hemothorax, but I’ll have to do more tests to check for other internal injuries and swelling…” The Doc kept up a steady stream of commentary the entire time, though whether she did this for Laura’s sake or just did so naturally wasn’t clear.
“I want some x-rays right away, and some other images as well. At this point it’s more likely to be a fracture than a break. But a fall that could fracture a rib isn’t going to be gentle on the rest of his organs, so we’ll have to focus on his chest first before I deal with the wrist.” Laura nodded and offered a firm ‘thank you’ before the Doc turned to summon more stretcher-bearers for the journey to the radiology room. With a quick, knowing look back over her shoulder, she left the two alone.
Laura heard a door open down the hall, quickly followed by a man’s voice complaining about having his ‘head bashed in by the Doc’s own equipment, then being left to fuckin’ die alone
’. The door seemed to close with a bit more force than necessary, and muffled voices could still be heard bickering back and forth, though the actual words were lost.
It was Laura’s cue to finally relax. She leaned heavily against the examination table, still holding Grant’s good hand gently. Her legs still felt weak from the long sprint to the clinic, and the shock of the whole situation seemed to be slowly dissipating, taking with it all the energy she had used to get there. Everyone had made peace with the fact that they’d see loved ones go out and never come back, but Ethan’s call had been like a slap to the face. The thought that Grant could die within the very walls of their Headquarters, within her very reach…
Grant’s eyes were closed, and he seemed to be resting well despite the circumstances. Her heart was gradually slowing its pace, as she reached out to physically affirm he was still alive and present. Her fingertips slowly wandered across his face, ghosting along his brow and cheek before brushing aside his stray hair; his lips quirked into a slight smile. From the continued sniping down the hall, it didn’t seem like she’d be interrupted anytime soon; she let her guard down even more, her shoulders relaxing and hand moving to brush through his hair without any real purpose. She let out a soft breath as she discovered yet another
grey hair; Grant had far too many for a young man still in his twenties. Perhaps all the sick leave he’d receive for his broken bones would be just what he needed. Everyone’s missions seemed to be even more dangerous than usual lately, and Grant had been no stranger to sticky situations from the start. Covert ops, infiltration gigs; it couldn’t be helped. But he’d be safe for the next few weeks, at least. If he didn’t kill himself on everyday objects around Headquarters, that is.
Laura felt half-giddy laughter bubble up in her chest as the last of her tension faded. She continued to stroke his hair, watching his slack face with a fond expression.
“I can’t believe you fell down the stairs, you idiot…”
Spelling and grammar errors Y/N? Also, I would like to add that writing about yourself is a painfully awkward experience, even from an artistic point of view. Hopefully that doesn't show through too much.