Disclaimer: I don't own Half-Life.

Gordon stuffed himself underneath an overturned car, ducking his head down as bullets ricocheted off the vehicle's metal skin. Panting fitfully, he shook out the spent caps in his Magnum and reloaded, only half-listening to the HEV suit's soft complaints in his ear.

The irritating sound of deflected bullets finally receded behind him. Blinking what felt like either sweat or blood, or a mixture of both, from his eyes, he slowly inched his way around the car. Gordon blew out a breath. How could anyone get used to this? And he was just on recon.

He heard the soft clink-clink-clink before he saw the dull red LED of an active grenade tumbling towards his position.

There was no time to think. And Gordon was still getting used to that.

It exploded, the car taking the brunt of the damage, flipping over onto its other side and almost crushing Gordon in its wake. His ears rang and screamed in trauma.

Two Combine soldiers trotted in, pulse rifles raised. Gordon raised his Magnum and fired, killing the first and seriously wounding the other. Then he turned and fled further down the cracked asphalt, ignoring the pain that thrummed through his body like a too-tight guitar string.

He couldn't tell if more were following him; he'd lost count long ago of how many he'd encountered on this desolate stretch of highway. The ringing in his ears was slowly fading, replaced by the sound of wind and birds. Seeking shelter beneath a rotting tree, he hunched over and panted for breath, magnum dangling loosely in one hand.

Damn, he needed a medic. Or a battery. Hell, he would be happy for a AA alkaline right now.

That, and a cold beer.

A crackling sound next to him made him scramble to his feet, heart leaping into his throat. He turned the muzzle of his gun towards the source, and halted suddenly.

Standing amongst the crackling leaves, tail waving high in the air like a flag, was a domestic cat.

Still wary, Gordon lowered the magnum slightly, stepping towards it.

It mewed, green eyes peering at him from a patchwork face.

Tentatively, Gordon bent down and reached a hand out to it, almost laughing at himself for his own caution. Were the Combine stuffing bombs in cats now?

The cat, completely oblivious to whatever danger was surely following Gordon at this moment, leaned forward and rubbed against his fingers.

A high buzzing whine came to Gordon's ears, followed by muffled, distorted voices. His stomach dropped and he gripped his magnum tightly.

Four shots left, along with his crowbar, and the Gravity Gun.

Turning away from the errant feline, he crouched down behind the fallen tree and peered between the leafless branches. Three Combine, including the one he thought he'd crippled. Pushing up his glasses with his nose, he leaned against the tree, aiming the magnum where he assumed they'd show up.

They did. Gordon fired once, twice, before they had their own machine guns trained on him. A spray of sand and loam spat in his face, and he felt the rapidly-draining HEV suit take the pain of a bullet in his leg. He shot again. Two down. Their flatlines buzzed out into nothingness.

The last one threw a grenade. Panicking, Gordon pulled out the Gravity Gun, grabbing the beeping grenade and throwing it back, just in time for it to explode brilliantly white against the grey sky. Then something blotted out the sun for a split-second- Gordon didn't even have time to move aside-

Blackness, and silence.

Seek medical attention. Seek medical attention.

The lull of the HEV's voice cut through the haze that was Gordon's world, depositing him harshly back into light and fire. He blinked against the too-bright overcast sky, wondering how exactly he'd ended up on his back. Something moved against his side and he started in fear, reaching for what he hoped was any sort of weapon.

He came up with his crowbar, undamaged by whatever had damaged him, and raised it.

A pair of inquisitive green eyes stared at him brightly.

The cat. How had it survived at all, when Gordon had been knocked senseless for God knows how long?

It looked miraculously unharmed, and, Gordon noted as he slowly rose to a sitting position, a little old. Her black spots were flecked with silver, and her hair was short and scruffy like a creature left to fend for itself.

He liked her. She reminded Gordon of himself right about now.

She mewed plaintively again, rubbing herself against one of his arms.

Gordon coughed. Now he really, really needed a medic. He felt the familiar dull pain of what was probably a fracture in his leg, masked by the HEV suit's morphine.

What the hell had hit him?

Looking around, he spotted a car door. Further ahead, he saw the remains of a car, and Combine corpses.

Great. Brained by an exploding vehicle.

There were more embarrassing ways to die.

A large knot had made a home on his head, and he rubbed it ruefully as he got slowly to his feet. The cat meowed, snaking itself round his ankles. Gordon frowned down at it as he collected his weapons. You'll lose what's left of your nine lives if you follow me, cat, he thought.

It was surprisingly silent now, and not just because of his partial hearing loss. Gordon knelt down and picked up the only intact SMG he could find on the bodies, holstering his magnum in favor of a quicker weapon.

Gordon started off down the road, feeling a chill wind blow at the back of his neck.

He looked back after a few minutes. The cat was right behind him. She meowed at his look and flicked her tail from side to side.

Gordon shook his head. He definitely didn't want to worry about a cat right now. After all, he had White Forest- and Alyx- to go back to.

(A/N. Inspired by a video I saw of a calico cat in G-Mod. Should I continue? Please let me know. Also, this takes place after Gordon reaches White Forest, but before the Strider/Hunter battle. I'd like to say that the big fight didn't begin right after Gordon and Alyx reached the base.)