Author: GRINtelligencer PM
A certain lack of communication about the powers of Liam's chain means a hasty rescue party is sent back to Isla Yura's mansion with a very specific search and rescue mission. Liam and Break, CrackishAU.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship - Xerxes B. & Reim L. - Words: 2,892 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 1 - Published: 01-28-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6695161
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summery: A certain lack of communication about the powers of Liam's chain means a hasty rescue party is sent back to Isla Yura's mansion with a very specific search and rescue mission. Liam and Break, CrackishAU.
Characters/Pairings: Liam and Break and vaguely Liam/Break, minimal Barma, Isla Yura, Gil, Oz, and Sharon
Comments: So I kinda wondered what would have happened to Liam if he hadn't woken up and Break managed to make it out of Retrace 54 without dying. But the result… is is possible to have crack-angst? I feel like this suggests it must be. Please tell me what you thought!
Spoilers: Retrace 54 onward.
It all started with a simple misunderstanding. A small lack of communication. It could have been so easily avoided except… it wasn't.
Barma had called Break to meet with him, citing the want for a personal account of the events of the disastrous Isla Yura party as his reason. Sometime during the interrogation Barma had made a vague comment questioning where Liam was, as he hadn't seen him since the party.
That had led to Break rather tersely explaining that Liam was dead, to which Barma replied with a very surprising, "Are you sure?"
And Break had said, "Why wouldn't I be?"
And then Barma had asked, "Don't you know the power of his chain?"
Ten minutes of hurried explanation later Break was tearing down the hallways of Pandora as fast as was possible with a healing bullet wound. He almost ran over Oz, responding to his startled question with a, "Liam is alive!" thrown back over his shoulder.
The young lord stood, stunned, for a moment, then he processed what he had just heard and bolted after Break.
When Barma had told him what March Hare's power was the first thing the Break had done was desperately wrack his brains for the last time he had -not seen technically- but known of Liam's body. That had been in the underground room in the mansion, a day and a half ago. But where would it be now?
After the disaster had calmed down the entire Pandora contingent had been too bloody, bruised, and tired to want to face the prospect of going back down through the mansion to collect Liam's body. None of them had the heart to go look for the sad corpse, Break especially.
They had left, counting on the Pandora group coming through after them to do what they hadn't been able to. When Break burst into the Pandora common room and started demanding who exactly had been in the retrieval group he found out that right after the Isla Yura party a particularly large illegal contractor attack had claimed the group's attention and no one had gone back to the mansion. Which meant Liam was still there.
And it had been a day and a half since the party, easily enough time for one man to bleed to death.
Three hours later Break was riding in a bouncing carriage across from Sharon, stuffed onto the same seat as Gil and Oz, all heading for the remains of the mansion as fast as the carriage could possibly take them. They were actually only one part of a much larger search and rescue party, their carriage was just the first in line. It was surprising, and perhaps rather touching, to see how many members of Pandora had volunteered for this mission.
Considering the size of the mansion and the amount of rooms the more people the better, especially since fire had destroyed parts of the mansion and rubble would take time to sort through.
Throughout the entire trip all Break could do was clench his fists and will the coach faster because his mind was conjuring up some terrifying possibilities to torture him with. Had Liam had woken -he wasn't even entertaining the idea that Liam was really did die that night, he could not be dead- to find the mansion empty? Had he known they had left him behind? Had he thought they had abandoned him? Had he wandered through the empty mansion, alone and wounded? Had-
Sharon had finally reached across the carriage to put her hand over one of his. "We'll be there soon." she had said to him.
It was a good thing that she had been right, he didn't think he could stand waiting any longer. As the Pandora agents disembarked from their carriages and formed in a group to figure out an ordered search pattern Break ignored them, despite Sharon's attempt to tug him in their direction, and marched into the mansion on his own. He retraced the steps he remembered taking when he could still see something, down through the the mansion and into the basement rooms.
He was looking for one room in particular, one room that was burned into his memory and thus not too hard to relocate.
Had he still been able to see he would have been able to tell if Liam was still there at a glance, perhaps it hadn't been the best idea to go here alone, but without sight he had to walk the room, swinging his stick out to the side to cover more ground. Any moment he would hit something soft and yielding and it would grumble something to the effect of, "Stupid Xerxes," at him and everything would be fine. Just fine. Any moment now.
"He's not here, Break." The sentence came from Gil, who was standing somewhere vaguely off to his left, near the entrance he had entered by. "Was this… where you last, um, saw him?"
"He was here." Break punctuated the sentence with a tap on the stone with his cane, "Right here."
The rustle of Gil coat told him that the other man had come forward to inspect the floor where he had indicated. "There's blood. A lot of it. And… there's smears leading that way."
"If you're pointing I can't see where."
"Just lead the way." Break snapped and Gil frowned, not used to this new, impatient, anxious Break but not about to cross him when he looked so… desperate.
With Gil act as his eyes they were able to track the splattering of blood out of the room and down another hallway. Sometimes it was blood on the floor, but all the more often it was blood smeared on the wall, as if a bloody hand had been pressed there so its owner could keep their balance.
Eventually the trail let them to a small room off the passage, which appeared to be some sort of auxiliary library. There they'd split up, each mapping the room, searching between the shelves with hurried steps, fumbling hands, and one set of anxious eyes until-
"Break, I found him."
He ran for the voice.
Xerxes Break had never regretted not being able to see more than that very moment. If he could still see he would be able to tell immediately if the friend he was kneeling in front of was alive or not. "What does… how does he look?" he demanded of Gil, who was standing right behind him.
"Not… good." Gil said. "It looks like he tried to stem the bleeding but… his color's horrible."
Break reached out, searching through the darkness until he found a face with his hands. The skin he felt under his fingers was deathly cold but he searched for a pulse at the throat anyway, because he hadn't done this once and look how that had turned out.
"Tell me more." he snapped to Gil.
"He, um, he's sitting against the wall, his legs are drawn up, he's holding -I think that's a piece of his tunic he tore off- and it's over that big wound on his shoulder which is sort of bandaged under that… it looks like that bled through. Break, he looks…" even Gil's voice faltered off at that.
"Are his eyes open?"
It seemed to take far too long for Break's fingers to find where the pulse would be in the throat, that his hands were shaking probably didn't help one bit. His fingers rested there, on the too cold skin for a quiet eternity.
"Break, I really thing he might be-"
"Shut up." he hissed.
There was a pulse under his fingers.
"Break, there no way-"
Break interrupted him. "He's alive."
"That's impossible. All that blood…"
Another pulse under his fingers. He raised his other hand to hover over his lips, felt a slight breeze on them. "The dead don't breathe, Gilbert."
At that Gil made a spluttering sound of surprise that was a passable comparison to the one Liam had once made -makes, Break corrected himself, present tense now- and babbled something about getting the others. His footsteps faded quickly as he ran back toward the upper levels.
That left Break alone, with only his hand to his friend's pulse keeping him sure this wasn't all some bizarre dream. Surely he couldn't dream up the very real feeling of a pulse under his fingers. He ran his other hand across Liam's face, remembering the contours, the feeling the small scar the temple, his fingers rasping across patches of died blood and registering the lack of glasses.
This could not be a dream. This could not be a dream.
Eyelashes tickled the hand Break had to his face as they flickered and the eyes opened; the feeling of the movement unmistakable. He was here. He was alive. He was conscious.
This had damn well better not be a dream or Xerxes Break was going to be one very angry person in the morning.
"…Xer…x?" the voice was a dry rasp, barely audible.
The mouth under his palm quirked into a smile so familiar Break knew it by heart. "What took… you so… long?"
Of all the things he might imagine Liam saying to him in this situation this was not one he could possibly dream up. That proved it, he had to be awake.
"I… I thought you were dead." was all he could think to say.
The sound Liam made was very like a derisive, "Huh."
"Sorry." he offered. "A rather nasty miscommunication. Just wait, the others will be here any moment. I do believe the entire of Pandora dropped everything it was doing for this little search and rescue. Gilbert's off to fetch them."
"…good. I thought…" he didn't end the sentence but Break could in his mind, with plenty of options -no one cared; that everyone had forgotten; that no one would find me; that I would die here, alone and no one would ever even know.
"We found you. It's going to be fine." Break assured him. "Just. Fine." he repeated, as if simple force of words would make it so. He pulled his coat from his shoulders and settled it over Liam, who was far too cold to the touch. It was strange echo of another time, a different person on the floor, a different coat. His was a little too short to cover completely. "Any moment now they'll be here. It's going to be fine."
"I… lied… to you… about Hare… I'm… sorry."
Break sighed, settling back on his heels, the bullet wound in his back aching as the movement pulled at it. He didn't take his hand from Liam's cheek, as if that would break the spell and everything would disappear instantly. "It's fine."
"…stop …saying that… it's not."
"We can have this conversation later, you know. It would be easier."
"No… now." Break could imagine the way Liam was probably scowling at him, he had done it often enough in the past. There was an odd warm feeling in his chest that Liam was alive to be even scowling at him at all.
"Alright, if you insist.
"…tell me… what happened… tell… me why… the bandages…"
It took Break a moment to realize what he was asking but when he did his hand went to the bandages that must have been just visible where they poked out from under his shirt. "Oh, that. The little Baskerville shot me."
The expression Break felt pass across Liam's face from the hand he had on his cheek could have been anything, from surprise to anger. The pulse under his other hand quickened. "Lily… shot you?"
"Was that her name? Yes, she did. I was lucky, as I usually am, it wasn't fatal. I did manage to kill the other Baskerville but the little one got away."
There was no comment from Liam but Break could feel another expression he didn't know pass under his hand.
"…what… else?" he might have had trouble forcing the words out but they were insistent.
"Well, Isla Yura tried to make a second Tragedy but we stopped him. He's dead, if that makes you feel any better. There was some nastiness with finding out who the Headhunter was, I was right, by the way. I knew I would be. Things got very mess for a while but we survived." He felt the corners of his lips lift into a smile. "And then we found out so did you."
"…why… are you… acting like everything… is fine?" a hand reached up to touch the one Break was holding to Liam's face, the hand was ice cold and a fine tremor ran through it. "…I lost… a lot of … blood."
"You're going to be fine."
"Xerx…" the hand on his squeezed it slightly. "… can't you… see that…" he paused, not for breath to force out the next words but out of surprise, "You're blind… completely now… aren't you?"
"I am. What am I supposed to see? What's wrong?" He went to move the hand that was on Liam's cheek but Liam wouldn't let go of it.
He took the hand at Liam's pulse away and felt his way down the man's chest, encountering the line of rough bandages as he did so. Feeling his way toward his shoulder he found the tunic under his fingers crackly with dried blood, so stiff with the stuff it almost wouldn't bend. With the spread of his hand he measured the spread of the bloodstain, it took two lengths of his hand before he even got to the shoulder, and he winced. "This is bad."
The snort Liam gave implied that he was an idiot and Liam had warned him he didn't want to know.
"The others from Pandora will be down here any moment. There's a doctor, you'll be-"
"Xerxes…" Liam cut him off from repeating the phrase again. "There's a… chance… you're going… to have to… finish things… alone."
"No." For a second time Liam cut him off. "…no talking… listen to… me. You… need to… finish it… no matter… what happens… to me. So… no berserk… revenge… attempts… alright, Xerx?"
"I can't agree to that. And you're not going to need avenging anyway since you're going to be fine." Break made a face. "How slow can Gilbert be? Surely he must have reached the others by now."
"Xerxes?" A hand came out to grab his coat in a surprisingly strong grip. "…promise me."
"I… I can't." And that was true. He had, after all, been trying to do exactly what Liam had just asked him not to and he would have gone through with it if Gil hadn't hadn't stopped him.
"…then… at least… promise me… if you have… to get revenge… don't die… doing it." The hand clenched in his coat tugged, weakly, but demanding all the same. "…it's too important… more important than… me… you've got to… finish… it."
"I should have never told you what I was up to." Break muttered.
The chuckle Liam gave was brief, "…I would… have figured… it out… anyway. Promise… me."
The sound of urgent feet in the distant hall made Break sigh, he knew -from previous experience- Liam would not drop the subject. "I think about it." he said quickly, then turned to the door as the first of the rescue party made their loud entrance.
Before he relinquished his spot to those who would soon insist on taking it Break pried the hand off his coat and gave in one last squeeze. This is real, he reminded himself.
"We'll talk about this later," he told Liam, then relinquished hand and backed carefully from the scene. By the time he made his way to the door to the library it felt like he had passed a great amount of people. Someone caught his hand at the door and Break could tell that it was Sharon.
"How is he?" She demanded and then, "Your hands are covered in blood!"
"He's alive," Break told her. "He's going to be… he's going to be fine."