IF YOU THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO LEAVE THIS ALONE YOU NEED TO STAY AWAY FROM WHATEVER DRUGS YOU'RE ON BECAUSE THAT WAS SUCH GOOD WHUMP ALMOST WHUMP I COULD CRY
TAG TO 1X08 STEALTH IM SHOOTING DALTON AHAHAHH
Also, hell yes am I doing a fix-it fic on the whumpiest episode so far. Just you wait. This fandom's got me.
Waiting was hell. It always is. Crouched uncomfortably in stalky, stiff tall grass was the cherry on top of the panic and nervousness sundae. Low level panic about your team leader (and coincidentally, a brother) was not something you just sat on. And yet here we all did, guns pointing towards the tree line, just praying to god that Top would come running out of there.
If he didn't, if the gunfire just stopped and the shouts were final, then we'd weight long enough to know he wasn't coming before arguing with Preach about going to find him. It would go two ways, either Preach dictates we have to get out of here and manages to convince the others in which case I say screw you and go to find Dalton regardless, or luck is on my side and Preaches emotions kick in and we go to find him together under the guise that even dead, he might have a piece of the skin from the drone.
Yeah, this is what my brain does when I'm waiting helpless in the fucking prairie lands of China, I plan out the many scenarios that end in me or my team dead (hence the hellishness).
I'm just getting creative with my arguement responses when the noise that had been echoing in the air goes from faint, to loud and clear. My safety clicks off with the others, and I tense beside Jaz, staring through my scope to watch Top stumble his way down the hill. All previous fears dissipate with a swift burst of relief that speeds up my breathing. Internally I'm celebrating, a personal cheer squad of adrenaline silently urging Dalton to make it, they aren't far behind but he's so close now and-
He stops at the edges of the trees.
"No!" I want to yell, and I can sense the rest of the team does too. "Keep going! We're right here!"
The purpose of being hidden is not some trick tactic. It's so no one can see you. If no one can see you, the odds of you getting shot is much less.
Unfortunately, that means Dalton can't see us either, as evident by the searching look on his face that's mixing with dread and maybe a little bit of disbelief. In the split second I have before moving my gun to adjust my aim, I notice the discoloration on his side. Blood.
God damn it Top.
The shouts sound louder now, and he starts running, panting as he weaves across my line of fire. Shots ring out, and I focus on one who's aiming directly at his back. Inhale, finger slides to the trigger, exhale one, two, three-
The bullet hits its mark, and the man goes down the same time Top does. Like a well oiled machine I'm standing with the rest of the team, stalking forward while firing again and again, each of us taking down our fair share of Russian as we progress in a line towards our fallen teammate.
It's impeccable timing that they all are dead right as we surround him, and Jaz and Amir kneel in front of us, ready for more. My gun drops to my side as finally put my eyes back on Top.
Well, I wasn't wrong about the blood. His side is covered in it, glove tainted by the dark red substance and I want to smack him just as hard as hug him because for once in his life could he do something easily?
Dalton's face is screwed up in pain, eyes clenched shut while both his hands are almost limp on his chest. My hands instantly start roaming the bloody region, searching for a bullet hole, knife wound, impalement, something that would cause that much pain and be bleeding enough. Something I can treat. We got him, he's not dead, and it's my job to keep him that way so why can't I find the goddamn wound?!
"Talk to me, whats going on, where's this blood from?" The words spout from my lips at a mile a minute while my fingers probe and press around the area, Top making pained noises through gritted teeth. I don't get a response at first, save for a wonderous yell of pain that sends my heart rate through the roof.
"Hey, where are you bleeding from?" I ask again, still pushing up against the side of his chest, trying to find whatever's ailing him. I can't treat what I can't see, and Dalton's lack of response is more than worrying. Preach lands on one knee across from me at Top's head, and I'm about to tell him to help me roll him over, thinking he might have been hit in the back, when the blond headed idiot on the ground finally speaks.
"Don't, don't! Don't do that." My hands actually still for a second, confused at why. If he's hurt then I need to treat it, he should know that, unless he's concussed in which-
"It ain't my blood." He pants out after a gasp of pain, effectively stopping that train of thought before it even leaves the station.
"What do you mean?" I respond instantly, then feel like slapping myself as he explain. Serious, what else could 'Its not my blood' mean?
My hands stop for real this time, ducking my head the side with my hat off to make sure there really isn't anything sticking out of his side that there shouldn't be. And then Top makes a joke, and I'm chuckling despite myself (that low key panic thing that's been flooding my veins for the last however many hours has yet to just disappear) and the jackass pulls out a fucking piece of the skin because of course he managed to escape mostly unharmed and complete the mission.
I grip his hand in mine and Preach gives a wry smile.
"Thanks for the rescue." He says, and I smile just a little sadistically before pulling him up.
I'd be lying if I said his grunt of pain didn't satisfy the part of me that was so pissed at him for giving me a heart attack when he fell.
We actually make it to the choppers before I figure out somethings wrong.
Well I shouldn't say that. I thought something was wrong with Top before we even made it back to the village, but I stupidly attributed it to his ribs and maybe falling down a hill a few times. It was subtle enough that it took me a good half hour to notice it. The way he was riding was off, and every once in awhile he'd get this unfocused look on his face, like he was thinking too hard and was spacing out. Then someone would ask something, as the conversation continued, and he'd blink a few times and look like he was making an effort to pay attention again. It wouldn't have been that much a big deal, if it wasn't so unlike Top.
He's not a huge talker, and always prefers to listen and take everything in, only voicing his opinion when he needs to, but the spacey-ness was downright alarming. Dalton never got lost in his head while in the field, even right now when they were as safely inside the Mongolian border. Still, I knew it was possible he was concussed, and, since I hadn't been able to really check him out, I couldn't be sure it was (or wasn't) the cause.
"C'mon Top, stay with me." I growl, carefully lifting the edges of the blood soaked gauze Preach is currently pressing against a bleeding bullet wound in his back. More blood immediately floods from the hole the second Preach lets up. I drop my hands. "Stay with me."
All the way to the choppers. He'd been bleeding for hours and I didn't notice.
"Just keep pressure!" I snap, wary of the agitated team around me. It's not their fault of course, they're just as worried for Adam as I am. Having your team leader collapse in front of you when they're supposed to be fine will do wonders to get the emotions flowing.
He seemed unsteady when we grabbed our gear. Amir even grabbed a fist full of his shirt to keep him upright when he swayed getting off his horse. His hands were shaking so hard when he tried to put his cam back on that Jaz ended up doing it for him, and he let her without complaint or comment.
"How fast can these things go?" I ask, sticking the gage needle into the crook of one limp arm. Jaz slams her boots to the floor of the cab so fast it almost doesn't register, and she's moving her way to the front of the cabin. "Tell them we need to be at base yesterday!" I call out, knowing full well her speed is due to a need to be useful.
Helplessness is a bitch.
"Amir get his head." I command. "We're gonna roll him towards me, one, two, three- good, stop." I readjust Preaches hands to keep as much pressure as I can get with him on his side. My hands are soaked with his blood, making my gloves stiff and sticky. Muttering obscenities I use my knife to cut away the fabric of his shirt.
"Of course there's not exit wound, why would you have a fucking exit wound." I mutter, noting the dark bluish red coloring the skin around where there should be another hole. There's that internal bleeding I've been looking for.
"Alright. Amir, you're going to switch with me. Put one knee up against his front so Preach can press harder."
My teammate jerks his head up, and I have to dedicate special effort to not letting the fear in his eyes affect me.
"Should we have him on his front-"
"He's got three broken ribs, we lay him on his front, his breathing becomes impaired at best or he punctures a lung at worst, I do not need to be putting more stress on his system right now okay? Now switch with me."
He does. I situate Preaches hands one more, stacking them on top of each other and walking him through the pressure points before slapping fresh gauze on the wound and telling him to press once again. Dalton barely flinches as he reapplies force, a low sound of protest just making it through the ambient noise of the rotor blades. I squeeze his shoulder and turn to Preach, who hasn't said a word since his best friend dropped.
"Don't move your hands." I put all my conviction into the words, voice low. He looks at me, meeting my gaze with a serious expression on his face as he nods. "Amir, brace him." I order, then slip around both of them to kneel next to his head.
"Top? Hey can you hear me?" I call, pushing two fingers against his carotid. Weak, thready pulse, skin is cool to the touch, he's going into shock. No coherent answer, just a small noise and fluttering eyelids. I snag a flashlight, gently peeling open each eyelid to check his pupils. They react normally, if a bit sluggishly. No concussion, thank god.
"Dalton, man, come on you gotta give me something here." It seems like I'm talking to the air, and the tension in the transport sky rockets when nobody hears him answer.
"Jaz get me a line to the DIA!" The brunette sniper pops back into my airspace just long enough to ask why before rushing to grab our stuff, looking for Dalton's comm.
"I need to know if any of us can give him blood." She nods, crouching by the bags to make the call.
"C'mon Top, stay with me." I mutter, slipping a balled up shirt under his head as I do. "Stay with us."
I can't honestly say catching it earlier would have helped. I'd like to think it would have, because then our first priority would have been to get him on a helicopter and back to base, and we wouldn't have let him do most the things he did, however not strenuous they were. It would have been 'sit here, breath and do nothing but drink water'. Not jump off your horse, not walking all over a camp bending over to get stuff and aggravating your wound. But either way he'd still be bleeding, I'd still not be able to do much, and then we'd be here anyway.
It isn't the rest of the teams fault of course. Even if one of them saw the blood stain on the back of his shirt, they had every reason to take him at his word and assume it wasn't his blood. I know I did. But I'm the medic. It's my literally my job to notice. And I didn't.
I made an effort once we got on the Chinook, once it took off. I wanted to check for a concussion, wanted to make sure they were just broken ribs, not something else. I needed to check to reassure myself, but I didn't want to make it obvious because Top notices that shit, and then there'd be some weird heart to heart that would be really awkward at the time but then later on I'd be really glad it happened.
I could've- I should've handled it better.
"Hey Top, sit down, I gotta check you out man." The rest of the team is quieting, making the answering silence that much more noticeable. Unease prickles its way up my spine and I stop fiddling with my pack, turn on a knee to look at him. His head is up, and he's still standing but his skin is white and his eyes look clouded, confused and unfocused.
"Top?" The rest of the team looks over at my second call, reassuring me that I'm not the only worried one. "Hey Dalton you alright?" I stand, dread settling in my stomach as no response comes.
Adam sways on the spot, eyes fluttering. In the next second his legs give out, one arm reaching out in an halfhearted attempt to grab something. I jump forward, but Preach is there first, catching him with strong arm around the waist and gently lowering him to the ground.
And now he's clinging to consciousness, lying on his right side on cold, unforgiving metal as the bullet wound in his back seeps fluid necessary for life all over Preach's pants.
"You sure this will work?" Jaz asks, handing me my kit as I roll up my sleeves (because of course I'm the only person on team who won't kill the guy with a blood transfusion).
"It fucking better otherwise he won't make it back to base." I mutter, sticking the needle into the inside of Top's elbow, fingers skimming over the tube to make sure it isn't twisted before doing the same in my arm, watching with satisfaction as blood begins to flow. It's a scary sense of deja vu, as I was doing the same thing to him only a few weeks ago, but with opposite intent. Jaz helps me get the line in my other arm, then I get down on my side next to him, wary of the effects of giving blood.
"Preach, you don't touch these unless I pass out, got it?"
"Woah wait I thought you said-" Amir's concerned voice
"It's a good four hours till touch down, I need to give him everything I can." I glance up at Jaz, who, to most would look pretty calm but is almost clearly panicking to the rest of us, stares at me with fear in her eyes. "I won't lose him Jaz." I say, softer although I'm sure Preach is at least paying enough attention to hear it. "I can't."
She nods, and tiny bit of emotion shows through the cracks in her armour.
"Neither can I." She says back, voice nearly inaudible. Then Dalton shifts ever so slightly next to me and she's back to business, kneeling next to his head with a curt "What can I do?"
"You know how to find a pulse?" She nods. "Good. Keep two fingers on his carotid, and every ten or so minutes check it on his wrist. If at any point he goes from getting better to getting worse we need to know alright?"
"Got it." I nod in acknowledgement then drop my head to the cold metal floor, scrunching my legs up to give Amir room and laying out both arms in the space between our bodies with a few encouraging words to our leader.
The silence is filled by the hum of the engine and the steady breathing of the team as we wait.
"...on McG you gotta get up man."
Hahaha nope. Try again. Joseph McGuire is currently unavailable, please contact a different office for help.
"Damn it McGuire you're the medic, you're not supposed to be doing stupid shit like this. I already have Top giving me a heart attack, I don't need you giving me an aneurysm on too."
I actually manage to mumble something in response, which is both unexpected and disappointing, because my come back would have been great if I could have gotten it out but I also didn't command my anything to move and yet there I was, running my mouth.
The comfortable blackness slowly starts to recede from my thoughts, letting me take stalk of my body. Nothing really hurts persay, not even my head, which I would normally blame for loss of consciousness should there be no other ailments and the person wasn't sleeping-
"Come on McG open your eyes, I gotta know you're up." I moan in response. Doesn't Preach know how much effort it is just to think right now?
Anyway, I know I wasn't sleeping, but I don't know why I know that, and it's really weird how tired I am because I don't remember being this exhausted since-
"That's it buddy, come on back." Shut up Amir, I'm thinking!
-since that time in Kandahar when we had to rescue that group of Rangers and this shrapnel bomb went off and I had to carry Top and Preach across a fucking mountain range to get to a rally point all while bleeding from this wound in my stomach-
I suck in a breath, a spike of adrenaline shooting through my system, making my head spin as awareness returns.
"Hey woah McG go easy-" I peel my eyes open to Amir's blurry face.
"Wheres Top?!" I demand, although its slurred enough that more sounds like "'s'tp?". I struggle to sit up, and the inside of the helicopter blurs worse than a smeared painting as Amir moves behind me, hands gripping under my arms to help me up. The change in altitude, however small, does not agree with my head, and I end up slumped up against Amir with moan as the pain spikes straight up the back of my skull.
Right. Probably gave too much blood.
"Probably? Are you- are you being serious right now because it's not a probably, probably assumes there's some possibility that you didn't give too much blood and trust me when I say that possibility doesn't exist okay-"
"D'n't mean t' say it." I manage, the 'out loud' part being assumed by all that's present. Which isn't just Amir, since I think I saw someone else walk past me before my eyes slipped closed. The way the helicopter was tilting and spining was making me nauseas.
"Amir this isn't helping." Oh thank god its Preach.
"-were fine and talking and I look over and then you're suddenly passed out and whiter than Dalton and-"
Is he still talking?
"What did I just say man?"
"-could get you to respond for over an hour you self-sacrificial idiot-"
The talking stops. Somebody grips my wrist, two fingers pressing just below my thumb. A tiny spark of satisfaction and pride flits through me because at least somebody was listening to me.
"McGuire you with us man?"
"Unfortunately." I mumble, still keeping my eyes closed. "Hows...Top?" I ask, putting extra effort into making my words intelligible.
"They took him straight to Med, they'll probably go right into surgery." Well that makes sense at least. Of the images my mind could comprehend from before, the only people left on the transport are us, the bay doors open and the sky grey with rain. We must've landed and their first priority was Dalton.
"Good?" It's a vague question, but Preach get's it nonetheless.
"The doc I talked to said he should be okay. They said you saved his life."
"Well...he owes me a beer." I huff, still struggling to not fall back under the tide of unconsciousness that's pulling at my thoughts.
"I think you can bargain harder than that." Amir jokes, and it's actually a good idea but I am not with it right now so it just get stored for later.
"You think you can get up?"
"No." I mumble, already slipping under again, muscles relaxing completely.
The last thing I get is the feeling of my body moving, being manhandled onto something softer than the metal base of the chinook, and a tiny prick in my arm. Then it fades away completely.
I've been in some really sketchy situation. I'm the leader of a special ops team, I've lost people, and I've almost lost people. The number of times when I fully believed I was going to die is more than I can count on my finger and toes, and the number of times it's not just been my life or my team's lives on the line is incalculable, but many.
I do not stress easily. It's my job to be cool and collected under pressure, to stay calm when panicking. Therefore, this should not be stressing me out. It's not the first time I've drifted up from unconsciousness in pain, so I should know the drill by now. So while Preach talking to me shouldn't be necessary, it's a welcomed sentiment to my confused brain.
"...just stay calm, you're alright, everyones fine. We're okay, we made it out, just stay calm okay? Just relax man, they'll take it out in a second."
I am calm.
"Don't fight it. Just breath with it."
I am so unbelievably calm.
"Top, come on man they're gonna sedate you if you don't stop freaking out."
I am so unbelievably fucking calm I'm not freaking out I'm not it's just there's a thing down my throat that's really uncomfortable and I'm exhausted and in pain and I know that's Preach talking to me which is good because I trust him and I trust him when says everyone's okay but I don't know why they wouldn't be just like I don't know why I'm clearly not okay and I'm just totally unbelievably calm-
"Thought he was awake but he wouldn't-"
-I just can't breath around this thing in my throat and it all hurts and I can't think I-
"-fighting the ventilator-"
"-need to get his heart rate down-"
"... gonna have to sedate...push...make sure his…"
"It's alright Top, it's alright...you'll be okay."
It takes a while, but around the millionth time I struggle to the surface of consciousness, I actually manage to make it there. I get to be proud of myself for about five minutes, then Jaz glanced over at me as reflex and let out a noise of surprise that alerted the rest of the team to my awakeness.
It quickly went downhill from there.
The team, like most special ops teams, are very good at not expressing their emotions towards one another unless its anger. They also aren't subtle at all when trying to hide them from someone who's known them for long enough (namely, me) because I know all the little tells that they will deny they have.
So here was the view: Preach brooding in a corner (which means he's angry but won't talk to me about it for the next few days) Jaz cleaning her rifle on the little hospital side table like a fucking sociopath, Amir passed out in a very uncomfortable position in a very uncomfortable chair, and McG also brooding in the corner opposite Preach, which was really terrifying because McGuire does not brood. It's not a McG thing. It's like Patton hissing, it can't (and shouldn't) be done.
He stops doing it, thank god, and jerks his gaze up from the floor to me, hope and wariness in his eyes (I get told later that there were many times where I was conscious, but not coherent, and so most of the team were almost used to me waking up, but not actually waking up, McG wasn't the exception).
"Top?" He asks, hopeful and anxious at the same time. My uncooperative mouth manages a grunt of affirmation. The near immediate response seems to set a change in the team, as everyone currently awake perks up, the two who are standing taking a few steps away from the wall.
Now, naturally, I'm on some form of painkiller. And that makes total sense, seeing as I'm in a hospital bed, and the floor is tilting weirdly, and everything feels floaty. That said, I really should request that they just keep me sedated until I wouldn't need drugs that are so potent I can't thing.
The words kinda slipped right past my mouth before I can even register that they are definitely the wrong thing to say.
"What are you so mopey for?" Because that goofy part of my brain (that is, all of my brain because morphine) that thinks everything is funny right now somehow decides that those words will make Preach and McGuire's anger just disappear. They easily have the opposite effect, and the tiny, little, miniscule, portion of my body that houses rational thought tells me that I still don't know why I'm in a hospital bed, and that maybe if I asked that question first, I could have somehow controlled the desensitized word vomit.
McG's face morphs, flickering between outrage and hurt before finally settling on passive anger, if that's a thing. He makes a few attempts at starting a sentence, opening and closing his mouth with a huff before storming out of the room.
Preach follows without a word. Jaz opens a plastic water bottle, sips her coffee, and throws the open container at Amir's head without even looking up.
"What just happened?" I ask as Amir jolts upright with a yell. She glances at me, only this time its bordering on a glare. Something is muttered about an "incurable idiot that has people who care about you" and "what'd you expect when you ride for two hours with a bullet in your side and tell no one about it", before Amir really wakes up and figures out I'm semi-conscious.
So now I'm in the middle of receiving an angry rant about said idiocy from my newest team member, which I think is really funny but that may just be the drugs.
"You're a fucking idiot you know that you and McG both I swear to-"
"Jesus man give the guy a break would you, he just woke up." I watch, too tired to participate in the conversation but definitely amused by how Amir has somehow developed into a mother hen (and not in the hovering over injured teammates sense, but in the "you scared the shit out of me and I'm never going to let you forget it as long as we both shall live" sense. Although I'm sure the former will happen once I'm released).
He's been pacing the room every since Jaz woke him up (and while splashing water in his face isn't the best, it's way nicer than throwing the coffee she was holding at him so I guess she's starting to warm up to our newest member), which mind you, was about ten minutes ago. The other guys have yet to come back, and if my shit was in order I'd be able to be worried about that, but as it is I'm still struggling to figure out which way is up.
He keeps ranting too, which isn't helping me stay awake, but also kinda is, because it's funny and I keep laughing.
"You do know he's your commanding officer right?" Jaz pipes up at one point, although one slow eye flick in her direction tells me she thinks I deserve it, and the protest is only half hearted. Amir freezes in mid step, whirling around with an incredulous look on his face.
"I don't care if he's the secretary of defense okay, no-" He turns back on me. "-you're the leader of a special ops team Dalton you don't just forget to tell us you're injured-"
"Alright! He gets it Amir!" Ah thank you Miss khan. "Make yourself useful and go find the guys. Make sure they haven't broken anything." She mutters, finishing reassembling her gun. Amir seems to copy McG's earlier lack of words and angrily storms out of the room which is also really funny to me because he's smaller than Jaz so he can't really storm anywhere, Amir's specialty is the sophisticated "I can kill you before you see my hand move" kind of walk, so "storming out" is...an interesting sight to say the least.
It also might be the drugs. Drugs are fun. Or they're making everything fun.
"So…" I mutter, trying not to think about the way I'm slurring. "What happened with…"
"You're an idiot is what happened."
"Right I got that but like...why am I… especially idiotic this time." She raises an eyebrow at me.
"I don't remember..." I have to think for a second. "...anything after...um...Mongolia?"
"Leaving Mongolia or coming back." I suck in a breath, squinting at the ceiling.
"Coming...back? Yeah. We had...were talking about westerns? I had checked in with Cambel."
The worry changes to anger and she sets her jaw.
"So you did know about it then." Swearing under her breath and rolls her shoulders back, settling into the chair. "You wanna tell me why you didn't feel like telling us you were shot?"
I blink a few times, trying to reconnect with my body to see if shes telling the truth. I can't feel anything.
"I...no, I wasn't shot, that wasn't my blood." I mumble, remembering being checked over by McG after they took out the russians. I told him the same thing after he so wonderfully pressed on my ribs. "That was...I killed some guy who caught up with me, used my knife."
For some reason this is the wrong thing to say to her, because she actually looks away from my bed, staring at the wall while trying to control her anger.
"You got shot probably ten feet from us." She says, still glaring at the wall while her voice betrays animosity I don't understand. "Out in that field, the rally point that was basically a kill box? You were shot, and you didn't say anything. You just passed out on the transport home."
"Oh." The word makes her turn her head back to me, anger starting to abate into frustration.
"McG had to give you blood you know." She growls, running her thumb along the handguard of her gun. "If he hadn't, the docs said you wouldn't have made it back to base. And while that's cool and all, we almost lost him too in the process. So everyone's pretty fucking pissed off at you because you almost died from a gunshot wound you told no one about!"
"If you're about to make an excuse-"
"No, no that sounds pretty…" I struggle to think of a word. "...stupid. Yeah. Definitely stupid." I was going somewhere with this. Where was it again?
The eyebrows go back up.
"Jesus christ you are so high right now."
"Jazzzzz." I slur again, grinning at the way the elongated 'z' sound feels on my teeth.
"Please for the love of god go back to sleep Top."
"No." I say stubbornly. There was something I had to do, fucking shit there was something-
"Shock!" I blurt out, startling Jaz who blinks in confusion.
"No, I was- I mean- it wasn't my blood!" There's a sigh.
"Top, seriously I'm not having this conversation when you can't even count to ten."
I open my mouth to reply, and loose whatever the hell I was going to say again. I can totally count to ten that's just not...what the hell man.
Something to do with shock. And blood. And...okay shock, blood that's all associated with McG.
"'Guire?" I ask, peeling my eyes open, not entirely sure when they closed but apparently it was long enough ago that Jaz is surprised by my word, probably thinking I passed out again.
Jaz sighs, kicking her boots up on my cot, looking casual as all hell but I know full well she's taking care not to jostle the bed to much. I hold in the 'awww you care' because she'll kill me, but with little to no filter between my brain and my mouth, it's close. She keeps her gaze focused on the weapon in her lap, tracing the surfaces with her fingers as she talks.
"McG's a medic. He has the medic attitude that says it's his job to save everybody all the time. It also says he has to be inordinately panicked about things out of his control because he's seen worst case scenario's of what happens when things goes south, he's treated them, he's lost people to them. Seeing as you're his team leader, friend, and basically family, he really does not want to have to deal with those worst case scenarios being applied to you." She glares pointedly at me again. "And then you went and made him apply it to you. So he is very, very angry. He, along with the rest of us, want to know why you thought you couldn't tell us. Why you didn't trust us enough to tell us."
"Because- Because I didn't-"
"God Top, this is a team! You tell us that every single time one of us try to pull some bullshit like this. You're our leader if you can't trust us how are we supposed to trust you? How are we supposed to operate?"
"-didn't know." I finish, and it gets her to stop.
"I trust you guys. Trust you more than I trust myself sometimes." And whoops, that wasn't supposed to come out. I figured out the thing though, but the way Jaz's face falls at that admission sidetracks me for a second, so I struggle to make her understand through the soupy fog that's invaded my thoughts and made lips loose.
"I care about- about all of you. Can't have- I won't lose you guys. Not after- not-...not again."
Jaz's face crumples. She looks nervous, shaking her head and glancing at the door.
"Top you don't have to…" She whispers.
"I wouldn't not tell you if I knew. It would-" I cut off with a cough that rips through my chest, making pain bloom through the drugs. It takes a shit ton of effort to stay awake as it fades, taking my energy with it. I'm running on sheer will power and the fear of what might happen if I don't tell get this thing out there in the open. "-would be a….would put you guys….in danger if something...happened. Stupid. Wouldn't do that." I get out between taxing breaths.
Jaz's eyes are wide with surprise and concern. She opens her mouth to say something, but I beat her too it.
"I don't think...I don't remember feeling it. I don't remember getting hit." Suddenly understanding floods her face and her feet drop back to the floor as she sits up.
"Shock." She says, and I almost see the puzzle pieces fit into place in her head. I hum in agreement, feeling the sharp undertow of sleep pulling at me harder.
"Tell G. 'n Preach." I murmur, eyes sliding shut. "I trust them."
I didn't believe Jaz, (not really anyway, because I was still angry and that emotion just didn't want to die) until about two weeks later, when I caught Top in the middle of a nightmare.
Sure, I knew what she was describing was possible. In fact, I'd seen it happen before. Adrenaline and shock are one hell of a combination, and the body doesn't always register pain when it should.
Preach accepted the explanation with relief and an eyeroll.
"Adam wouldn't lie about this. If he screwed up, he'd own it." Is all he said. I can only guess at whatever experience he got that from, but for some reason, it wasn't enough for my emotions (those ugly motherfuckers just love to stick around), for my anger and distrust, to dissipate.
Dalton knew it too. I could tell by the way he talked to me, the way he mirrored my strict clinical language, the way he always seemed to be about to talk to me then would stop. It was like ice between us for almost no reason, but I couldn't get it to go away, I couldn't let go of it. I was fine with everyone else, and it wasn't like I suddenly forgot our friendship and the history we shared. I was angry, even though I knew that being angry at something I couldn't change and wasn't technically his fault was useless.
Then I walked into the bunk room before everyone else (it was card's night and I hated poker) to find Top squirming around on his bed, face pinched in pain. Nightmares weren't uncommon in our field, and it was one of those undiscussed topics on the team. We all had them, and normally someone else would wake up and calm the other down. By morning we'd act as if we hadn't heard anything, and it seemed everyone liked that just fine, even if waking someone up meant a black eye.
However, something you don't do, is leave someone else trapped in one.
"No. I didn't know, I didn't know I swear!"
Especially when they sound like that.
"Hey. Top, hey man wake up." I shake his shoulder, and surprisingly the dream is interrupted just by that. Eyes bleary with sleep and filled with residual fear snap open with a gasp that I know hurt his still healing ribs.
"McGuire?" He mumbles, bringing up one hand to grip my arm.
"Yeah man, you're alright you just had a-"
"I didn't know!" He says, eyes still too wide, pupils blown too large for the half lit room.
"-nightmare." I finish, a twinge of unease flitting up my spine as Top continues to ramble, clearly not with the reality. It's not totally uncommon for someone to wake up but not really wake up: like you're no longer in the dream, but can't connect that whatever you just experienced wasn't real.
"I didn't know I swear to god I couldn't feel it I would have told you-"
"Top just calm down-"
"No, I have to- to tell you- you die because I don't tell you-"
"Dalton!" I yell, shaking him again because...well alright fuck it, because he's talking about me (or us? Does he mean the team?) dying and that's not an illusion I want him to be caught in. Ever.
The jolt seems to actually get him back to reality, and the fast panicked breaths stop, turning to quiet gasps that calm quickly. His hand never leaves my forearm where he's got a death grip. I stay silent as his eyes dart around the room, finally settling on me.
"McG?" I nod, still a little freaked out by what he said.
"You okay?" I ask, noticing how he withdraws the second he realizes what must have happened.
"Yeah, yeah I'm...sorry." He finishes, and I can't tell if it's a dismissal or an opening. I hope for the former, and stand to leave in a heavy awkward silence.
"McGuire." The name stops me no more than four feet away from the door and I freeze, knowing full well whats coming. I turn around, pulling on my training to keep my face neutral. Top is sitting up, one arm wrapped around his still healing ribs, looking serious.
"I know you are still caught up on what happened in Mongolia." I grit my teeth.
"Caught up is one way to put it." I respond, unable to keep the tone of anger from my voice. Top catches it, if the way the his own anger seems to flare, hardening his own voice as he continues.
"If you can't figure it out - or if you don't want to, then I won't hold you here."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I ask, anger disappearing under a tide of confusion and fear. Dalton blinks.
"If you want to transfer, I wouldn't...I'd support whatever you did. Wherever you wanted to go, I'd talk to Campbell, make it happen. I don't know-"
"I don't want to transfer." I snarl, suddenly not so confused about why I've been mad, if the jolt of dread and fear in my stomach at the thought of not being on this team was anything to go by.
I'm covering. And its stupid how long it's taken me to figure it out.
"Well then- I just- McG you can't keep walking around me like I shot your mother, okay that's not gonna fly. I told you what happened, and I can't magically go back and change it, and even if I could, if I could make my body's involuntary response suddenly voluntary, it still wouldn't have changed that I was shot!"
"I know!" I yell, gripping my hand into a fist and knocking it against one of the bed frames. "I know that." Repeating the words, however much calmer they are, doesn't make the point for me. "I know that and that's not what I'm angry about. Well it was but I just…you scared the shit out of me you know that?! I'm the medic okay I'm supposed to be able to notice and treat these things, and I didn't. I thought you were fine, then you just dropped, and if you died, it would have been my fault."
"I'm sorry, I must have remembered that mission wrong." He says flatly. "But were you the one who put a bullet in my side?"
"No." I growl.
"Then if I died, it wouldn't have been on you. It's our job McG, you can't save everybody. I know you know that, and I know that you've seen a lot of shit and I know that you don't ever want to have to see one of us hurt but damn it McGuire you saved me. You've saved all of us, you've kept us alive, and you can't sit here and be mad at what might have happened. It didn't. Be proud of yourself for two seconds and move on."
I think I actually flinch back at his last sentence. Surprise and shock flits through my head, followed by some swell of emotion in my chest.
'Be proud of yourself.'
Because...because of course Top knows. And that was his way of saying 'you're good enough' in the most serious way he could.
"So…." He starts, pulling me back to the room. "Are we good?" I glance over his form, unconsciously noting the way he's sitting is even, a good sign that his wound is healing right.
"Yeah. We're good." Dalton starts to grin, and his facade of innocence seems to settle us back into old territory.
"But I swear to god Top, you pull something like this again and I swear to everything you find holy that I will make you feel pain."
"Love you too McG."
This was...way longer than I intended. I know that we haven't really gotten a lot from the characters because the show is so new, but I know McGuire talks about how his mom didn't want him in the army, and I figured that it wasn't an easy thing for him to go any. At the very least I assumed she doesn't approve, and I know that can create a lot of deep seated doubts in a person. Also, I liked exploring his character.
Please let me know what you thought and if you'd like more stories like this.