I saw Fallout earlier this week, and the way Ilsa and Ethan were checking on each other's injuries at the very end had me weak. (He's literally laying in a hospital bed, but still all worried about her…) That scene made me want to see more of that kind of thing, and since there's a disappointing COMPLETE LACK of fanfic featuring the two of them, I had to do it myself. (Or at least attempt it. :p) So here you go!
Ethan Hunt was reaching up to pull a small box off the shelf in front of him when the door to his safehouse slammed open. The invader made eye contact with him, then sagged against the door, panting from exertion and relief. She raised a hand to her ear.
"He's here," Ilsa said, staring directly at Ethan. She closed her eyes and nodded slightly, listening to to the response from her hidden radio. "Copy." She reached up and removed the small transponder from her ear, still leaning heavily against the open door.
There was a pause.
"What happened to your comm?"
Ethan raised his eyebrows. "Ah."
He reached a bloodied hand into his pocket, drew forth a small object, then opened his palm to display the crushed remains of an in-ear radio. He gave an apologetic half-shrug.
"It's seen better days."
Ilsa scoffed, pushing off from her leaning position and letting the door swing shut. She gave him a critical glance: a still-bleeding cut on his brow; assorted cuts and contusions; stance shifted so all his weight was on one leg; posture curled slightly forward as if to assuage protesting ribs.
"So have you," she remarked dryly. She took a few steps into the room and sat down heavily on the old sofa. A cloud of dust rose to meet her and she coughed, wincing slightly.
"Bring that kit over," she said, nodding to the box in his hands. "You need it."
Ethan couldn't argue with that, although he had a feeling they both needed more care than the meager contents of a field medical kit could provide. He opened the box, took out a roll of gauze, and tossing it to Ilsa. It bounced off her shoulder as her hand rose a second too late to catch it. She spared the gauze an annoyed glance, then propped her elbow against the arm of the old couch, closing her eyes and resting her head briefly on her hand.
Ethan sat down next to her and gently ran his fingers through her hair, pulling them back red and damp. A trail of dried blood ran down behind her ear.
"You have a concussion," he said in a reprimanding tone.
She opened her eyes and stared at him, tracing the trail of blood that ran from his hairline down his jaw and to his neck with slightly unfocused eyes, then returned her gaze to his dilated pupils.
"So do you."
Ethan quirked a resigned eyebrow, as if to ask What else is new?
She reached up a hand and drifted her fingers across the bloodied side of his face, tilting her head slightly to assess the damage. "Are you bleeding anywhere else?"
He shook his head slowly.
Good. At least they didn't have to contend with stab wounds and bullet holes this time.
"Does the sink work?" she asked, her eyes still tracing the curves of his face. He nodded. She started to push off from the sofa, but stopped when his hand closed around her arm.
"I'll get it," he said.
She raised an eyebrow and leaned over to place a hand on his left knee, which was visibly swollen through the torn cloth of his trousers. He winced and pulled back from the light contact.
"No, you won't," she said. He opened his mouth to protest, but then settled back into the dusty cushions with a resigned sigh.
"Don't fall asleep," she admonished, receiving a quiet grunt of assent in reply.
In a few moments, she had filled a bowl with water, found a couple reasonably clean cloths, and was headed back toward Ethan with a slight limp. His head was tilted back to rest against the back of the couch, but there was accusation in his half-lidded eyes at her uneven gait.
"It's nothing," she said.
She sighed, retaking her seat next to him. "Just a twisted ankle." She nudged his leg in a none-too-subtle reminder of his own injuries. "Jacket."
Ethan heaved himself upright with a barely stifled groan, Ilsa's hand guiding him forward. She deftly pulled down his jacket by the collar and freed one arm from its sleeve, then the other. Ethan shivered. It was almost winter now, and the nights were beginning to feel it. His thin undershirt didn't do much to stave off the chill inside the poorly insulated cabin. Ilsa placed her hands on his chest, and he shivered again.
"Sorry," she said, the corner of her mouth curling slightly. "Cold hands."
He shook his head. "It's fine."
She ran her hands carefully along his ribs, exerting slight pressure. Ethan screwed his eyes against the pain.
"Definitely bruised," she murmured. Ethan hissed as she ran across a particularly sore spot and a lance of pain crossed his chest.
"Cracked," she asserted. She continued on, striking up a conversational tone as her hands moved. "How did you get these?"
"I had a philosophical disagreement with a tree," he said in a slightly strained voice. Ilsa raised an eyebrow.
"I think his name was Boris."
She blew out an amused breath and continued on, eventually hitting the spot Ethan was dreading the most. The sound he involuntarily released was less of a hiss and more of a whimper. She gave him a sympathetic glance.
He nodded in rueful agreement.
"Just the one, I think," she said, searching through the kit for a roll of bandages. Ethan began to lift the hem of his shirt to expose the wounded area, then pulled short with a grunt of pain. Illsa shot him a reprimanding look and took the handful of fabric from him, gently pulling it upward to reveal a mottled patchwork of black and purple bruises covering his abdomen. Her mouth opened slightly and she ghosted a hand across the worst of the bruises. Their eyes met, concern and reassurance passing silently between them.
It was a quick task to wrap his injuries, her hands moving with a deftness born of more practical experience than either of them would have wished. Ethan gave a shallow sigh of relief when the task was done and immediately regretted the motion. The wrap eased some of the pain, but all but the most shallow breaths would remain an unpleasant experience for some time. Ilsa gave him a sympathetic look.
"Your turn," he said.
She shook her head, taking a fresh roll of bandages from the kit. "Not yet." She leaned over to start wrapping a brace around his injured knee, then stopped short. The small motion had sent a stab of pain through her temples and a roiling nausea through her stomach. Ethan immediately noted the gray tinge to her face and unfocused eyes, and took the bandages from her still hand.
"Your turn," he insisted.
Reluctantly, she closed her eyes and leaned back. It was hard to argue with a concussion, and throwing up on him wouldn't help either of them. Ethan cut off a section of gauze, dampened it in the bowl of water, and gently parted her blood-crusted hair to clean the wound on her scalp. He gave a hmm of dissatisfaction at realization it was still bleeding slightly.
"What's the score?" he asked conversationally, pressing the bandage to her head.
She gave a tired hum of annoyance, eyes still closed. "Now?"
"Why not?" They had to keep each other awake somehow.
She fell silent, and for a moment Ethan feared she had fallen asleep.
"You're still leading me by three cracked ribs and a concussion," she stated a moment later.
"So I'm winning?" He tried unsuccessfully to hold back a grin.
She cracked an eye open to glare at him, although its intimidating effect was somewhat lessened by the amused curl of her lip.
"I'm winning," she corrected him. "The goal is to be less injured than the other person."
He hummed in dissatisfaction. "I've never understood games where lower scores win."
"No one likes a sore loser," she teased, eyes closed again.
"Well, in this case, the loser is always sore," he quipped back. He went to grab a fresh section of bandage, but over-extended his reach and felt a firey stab of pain in his ribs. Ilsa caught the hitch in his breathing and looked at him in concern.
"Lay down," she ordered.
Ethan opened his mouth to argue, but thought better of it. He pivoted on the couch with slow, careful motions, gently lowering himself down until he was laid flat with his head pillowed on her leg. From this new, more comfortable position, he took brief inventory of his physical condition and decided it could be summarized rather neatly in one word.
His eyes were closed now, lines of pain etched in his face. Ilsa ran a gentle hand through his hair and felt him relax at the comforting motion. She reached over him to dampen a cloth in the water and began cleaning some of the blood from his face. As much as she preferred the comfortable silence, she had to keep them awake.
"It's rather fun, you know," she said. "Working in the field for the same organization. Despite all the injuries."
"I don't know," Ethan said with a grin. "It was kind of exciting wondering if you were going to kill me."
"That could still be arranged," she retorted in the same joking tone.
She worked in silence for a moment, carefully cleaning around the cut on his brow.
"But the way you work, I doubt I'll get the chance," she said softly.
She had only been with the IMF for less than a year, but Ethan's reckless disregard for danger had made that time feel twice its length. She was already beginning to lose track of how many times they had searched for Ethan after a mission, never knowing whether they would find him unconscious, blue from exposure, shot, stabbed… or even if they would find him at all. Too many times she had to staunch the flow of blood from his wounds, and sit by his bed wondering when—or if—he would wake. Even tonight, she had watched his small, damaged plane descend far too rapidly into the forest, lost radio contact, and ran through the trees with her heart in her mouth toward the crash site—until noticing the light on in his small cabin safehouse along the way.
Ethan caught the worry in her tone and opened his eyes. He started to reach up to her face, but the pain in his ribs shortened the motion to resting his hand on her arm. Her concern was not one-sided. His mind drifted to a mission that had occurred months previously, when he had found her lying motionless with blood pooling around her head, and prayers and promises he had uttered in the long, long seconds before she finally stirred in his arms.
Ilsa moved her arm so his hand slid down and caught it in her own, twining their fingers together. She knew he longed to voice promises to be safe, to be careful, but he remained silent for the same reason she did: the reassurances would be empty. They were spies. Every mission they chose to accept came with the chance to lose it all.
Still, Ethan thought, momentarily tightening his grasp on her hand. It was good to have something to lose.
Thanks for reading this far! I will love you forever if you leave a review 3 :D