The roar of the crowd was thunderous, echoing off the nearby buildings and shaking the very ground of the Italian town square. The famous, or infamous depending on who you asked, Dylan Shrike and Daniel Atlas had appeared on the edge of the Venice canals to perform their amazing act for their fans. At least, that's what the Horsemen lead the public to believe. The true plan was for Jack, Lula, and Merritt to use the commotion that Dylan and Danny caused across the street to infiltrate the office building of Marco Rossi. Rossi was an extremely corrupted business tycoon that had his hands in quite a few illegal smuggling rings. They need access to his files so they could expose him to the world. That night, the air was bitingly cold, and the massive number of people crowding around the two Horsemen did nothing to warm up the area.
The cheers grew louder as Dylan did a simple trick of the light illusion with the water below him to keep the crowd entertained while a couple of feet to his left Daniel made a few paper airplanes do elaborate loops above their heads. Dylan had just gotten confirmation from Merritt that the other Horsemen were making their way out of their Rossi's building, and that things seemed to be going pretty smoothly on both sides of the mission so far. However, almost immediately after Danny had made the paper airplanes crash into each other and shower the crowd with confetti, a piercing noise filled the Dylan and Danny's com units.
Dylan cringed at the harsh wailing noise, but continued on with the show in order to keep suspicions low. Struggling to focus on the show and the sound of their teammates in danger, Dylan and Danny prematurely began to wrap up their performance. Through the combined noise of the building's alarm in his ear and the cheering crowd, Dylan was barely able to hear Jack's panicked voice speaking to him and Danny.
"Rossi must've had his security system updated! We gotta jump ship!" Jack yelled, with Lula cursing colorfully in the background.
"Kid's right Dylan, backup plan time." Merritt agreed, "We'll meet at the docks."
Dylan muttered a quick affirmation before looking towards Daniel. The younger man nodded and moved to side while Dylan took center-stage to address the crowd.
"You've been wonderful tonight. Really. But all good things come to an end. Please, spread the-" Loud yelling from the top window of a nearby building suddenly interrupted Dylan's closing speech. Less than a second later, Rossi could be seen from the top window holding what looked like a high quality assault rifle. The crowd immediately pushed and scrambled to get to safety, and Dylan belatedly realized that maybe a show so close to the target's line of sight wasn't the best plan of action that they could've come up with. The only thought that the older Horseman found running through his head as Rossi screamed obscenities and pointed his weapon at Dylan, was that at least the others would be able to escape with the focus drawn off of them. He just wished that Danny would find a way to escape instead of staring at the scene before him with wide eyes and a shocked expression.
Time seemed to slow down as Dylan turned around to yell at Danny to get out of there, only to see him sprinting towards his spot next to the canal. Danny continued to run straight at Dylan, crashing into him and sending them both tumbling into the dark water, a loud crack filling the air as Rossi fired his weapon the exact moment the two Horsemen collided.
Dylan found himself tumbling through the freezing water, completely disoriented and struggling to get to the surface. When his head finally broke the surface, Dylan looked around wildly for any signs of Danny. He could still faintly hear Rossi, but he figured that they were well hidden in the shadowy canals. After several seconds of intense panic, a splash sounded about ten feet ahead of Dylan's position, followed shortly by Danny's coughing and quick intakes of air.
"Danny!" He said as he swam towards his Horseman, "C'mon, we gotta get out of here."
The two men made their way to the edge of the canal, and quickly climbed out. Danny was a little bit slower than normal, but Dylan assumed it was because of the icy wind that now pierced through their soaking wet clothes. However, after a couple minutes of running Danny was still lagging behind, taking deep laboring breathes as he followed Dylan through the twisting Venetian alleyways. It only became glaringly apparent that something was wrong when Dylan heard a dull thud followed by a quiet groan. He quickly spun around to see Danny laying facedown on the ground with one arm pinned under him and the other sprawled out on the pavement.
"Danny!?" Dylan yelled as he crouched down next to the fallen showman and turned him on his back, "What's wrong?"
"I-It's cold." Danny stuttered, his lips tinged slightly blue and shivering in Dylan's arms. The younger man's eyes were glazed over and didn't seem to be focusing on any one thing.
Dylan frowned, wondering why Danny had collapsed after only being in the water a short time. He pulled Danny closer to his body to warm him up and spoke quietly, "Hey, it's okay. Danny, I need you to focus on me now, are you hurt anywhere else?" He questioned.
"N-no." Danny forced out, obviously struggling to catch his breath and trying to squirm out of Dylan's hold.
"Stay still, and let me see." Dylan ordered, ignoring Danny's weak protests as he carefully peeled back the soaking wet jacket and lifted Danny's thin undershirt. In the dim light, Dylan was horrified to find a very deep gash on the right side of Danny's quivering abdomen.
Danny paled at Dylan's reaction and advert his eyes, "It's that bad?"
"What the hell, Danny! When did this happen!" Dylan frantically spoke as he put pressure on the bleeding wound, earning a pained hiss from Danny.
"When I was saving y-you." Danny answered, holding tightly to the edge of Dylan's jacket to distract himself from the pain, "Rossi's bullet must've grazed me as we fell into the water."
Dylan felt extremely guilty for inadvertently causing Daniel this level of pain, but he reeled in his emotions and shifted into his boss persona.
"Dammit, Atlas. You don't need to act so tough and then not say something when you get hurt like this." Dylan muttered, lifting Daniel to his feet and slinging an arm around his shoulders. "We need to meet the others and get back to the base." He continued and began practically dragging Daniel down the street. The younger man didn't even argue at that point, as he was too focused on trying to support his weight while ignoring the searing pain in his side.
Apparently, the upright position that Daniel had to be in to 'walk' only amplified the pain he was feeling, and not ten minutes later did he find himself unable to see clearly or breathe enough air to support himself. Dylan felt Danny's weight get heavier, and looked down to see the man's eyes completely closed and mouth parted slightly. Panicked, he quickly set the man down and felt for a pulse. He was relieved to find one, even though it was racing underneath his fingertips. However, Danny's breath came in short, shallow gasps that did nothing to reassure Dylan's worried state of mind. He gingerly picked up Danny and made his way to the other Horsemen as quickly as he could. When he arrived at the location, Dylan was immediately surrounded by the other members of his team.
"Rossi." He offered as a quick explanation, "Someone get the med kit."
Dylan placed Danny's unconscious body on the threadbare couch and waited as Lula ran to get the medical supplies needed to bandage the wound. Dylan took out the medicinal alcohol from the kit and poured it on Danny's side to prevent infection caused by the murky waters of the Venice canals. As soon as the liquid touched the gash, Danny's eyes flew open and he let out a distressed groan from the excruciating burning feeling.
"Dylan?" He whispered and clenched his hand around Dylan's arm. The frightened look on the younger man's face almost caused Dylan as much pain as Danny was surely feeling.
"It's okay, I have to clean it and then put on the bandage. After that you can rest." Dylan spoke in soothing tones as it was clear that Danny wasn't fully aware of his surroundings. Danny nodded slowly and allowed Dylan to continue treating him.
After completely dressing the wound and grabbing a blanket, Dylan settled down into a chair next to the couch. Throughout the night, Dylan looked over to Danny make sure he was safe and comfortable. Danny woke up once in the early hours of the morning, his bandaged side made it difficult to move and for a moment he was confused to where he was. He began to hyperventilate and panic, but a hand suddenly reached out and grasped his. Danny looked up and saw that the hand belonged to a gently smiling Dylan, and Danny found himself slowing relaxing back into the couch, still holding onto the hand.
"You're safe now." Dylan reassured softly.
"Thank you." Danny sighed, before closing his eyes and falling back asleep, knowing that he had nothing to worry about because Dylan would do everything in his power to always protect him from harm.