Title: The Shot

Prompt: 004. 'Insides'

Word Count: 500

Note: This one contains descriptions of blood and gunshot injury; proceed with caution if you are of a delicate constitution in such matters.

The shot hits him low in the ribcage on the left-hand side.

There's no pain – just impact, a mule-kick impact that almost folds his legs beneath him. Only years of training and discipline keep him upright and moving, adrenaline surging as he half-stumbles the rest of the way to cover.

His knees buckle when he gets there and he slumps against the wall, momentarily crashing. As the burst of adrenaline fades it's replaced by white-hot, indescribable pain, and the world narrows to the railroad spike of agony driving its way towards his spine. It blazes through him, disrupting his thoughts and cutting short his every . . .

Breath. His mind snaps back to the ingrained discipline that has kept him alive this long, tearing his attention from the pain to the injury itself. Hard to catch a breath, can't fully inhale. Which is an understatement; he's gasping, each measure of air hard-won and verging on not enough.

Punctured lung, partly collapsed. With his left hand he gropes for the wound, applying pressure despite the flare of greater pain doing so earns him. Bullet broke a rib, maybe two.

Twisting sideways is its own special kind of agony; he pushes past it, slips his right hand under his jacket and around his side, fumbling. Pain roars through him, but his fingers meet no wet patch, no tear in his shirt, and after a moment he lets his hand drop with a grunt. No exit wound. Bullet's still in there.

Most likely it pushed shards of shattered rib with it as it tore into the lung, and he fleetingly pictures the clean, merciless line of the shot, the ragged path it ripped through cartilage, muscle, bone, through a thousand nerve endings now aflame with damage done . . .

Focus, he commands sharply, as his fingers slip in the spreading patch of blood at his side. There's a tiny flare of fear at that, faint and easy to shove away. The patch is creeping in its growth, no tell-tale pulse of severed artery; he is not bleeding to death.

Not quickly, anyway.

His right hand finds his pistol and he closes his eyes, visualizing the firefight. Six opponents in a loose half-circle, firing from cover, mostly handguns. Face and Murdock twenty yards to the left, returning fire; B.A. behind them, prepping explosives. Another five minutes, then, before the explosion that will turn the fight in their favor. Maybe ten, at the outside.

It's a long time to be pinned down with a bullet in his lung and his gun half-empty.

He braces up and rolls sideways, facing the enemy. The effort costs him; agony jolts through his ribcage and his vision dims. But when it clears again, he is in position to fire around the edge of the wall. Better a small victory than nothing . . .

He tightens his grip on the pistol, reflecting grimly that this was not, after all, one of his better plans.

It's gonna be a long five minutes, he thinks, and opens fire.