This is a 'random fic'. I haven't stopped writing, it's just slow. This is a bit of a peak into Beachhead's mind at a high stress moment. It could seem a bit morbid, but I hope the humor lessens that for the reader.
I hope you enjoy and rest assured I'll be posting more fics soon!A big thank you to the Twitter crew, some of whom beta-read this(and then I sort of ignored most of the advice, sorry) and the title was contributed by LadyJaye1.
I do not own the characters and make no money from these writings.
Beachhead felt the steel as it slipped inside his body. His mind instantly switched from a fierce concentration on five things at once; how was this battle going, did a Joe just go down to his four-o-clock, watch that Viper headed in on his left, aim and squeeze the trigger to take out a Viper approaching stupidly from in front, left hand completing a hammer punch to the knee of another opponent... and suddenly his entire world narrowed down to 'oh god oh god what the hell is happening'.
"His hands were going a bit numb and unresponsive as he felt the attacker grabbing him from behind. His knees buckled underneath him from an unseen kick. The battle still raged on loud and bright around him. But it all was a distant haze as his eyes flicked upwards to a face half-covered in black fabric, the Cobra emblem displayed on the helmet crest above. The bastard barely looked at him. The steel was very cold as it slipped just a hair deeper, entering just below his left armpit, seeking a heart strike. It felt as if it would exit the right side of his ribcage... so deep, so intrusive. He had a sudden flash of insight and wondered if his face looked like all of the faces of the ones he himself had dealt a death blow to.
Just as suddenly as the knife had stabbed into him, it was withdrawn, smoothly and without any unneeded flash and pomp. He felt himself falling to the floor and couldn't stop his fingers from grasping desperately at the Cobra trooper's sleeve, almost a voiceless plea for mercy. He spared just a little self-loathing for that and realized how ridiculous it was to worry about appearances at 'a time like this'.
Well, now he was lying on the floor. Couldn't he have at least landed on his back with a little dignity? No, instead he sprawled awkwardly on his right side, one arm twisted beneath the weight of his rapidly numbing body and legs kicked out in the way of what seemed like every other live person in the room. A wealth of hot wet blood flooded across his chest and back underneath the body armor. Fat lot of good the body armor had done this time. But then, no one had ever devised body armor that covered your armpit area and allowed you to move in battle. Beachhead quickly forgave the designer for developing body armor that had led to Beachhead getting stabbed in the armpit. He also willfully ignored the fact that the front of the body armor sported no less than four scars from today alone where it had turned lethal bullets into small lumps of harmless lead. He was dying here, he could be choosy about what he was angry about.
There was a little bit of familiarity with the way his body became cold. That was the loss of blood, his warming and cooling system didn't have enough liquid to continue to pump through the entire body. He knew far too much about how the human body worked and it was annoying that he was spending his last seconds of life reminding himself that his laboring heart and circulatory system would shunt blood to only the most vital areas; lungs, heart, brain... leaving the rest of his flesh to begin to cool and cramp and go numb.
Yet another person tripped over his legs, stumbling and cursing. He tried to roll up in a ball to keep out of the way of the rest of the fighting but the signal got lost somewhere and all he managed to do was twitch his fingers. As he lay there looking at the blood slicked floor and various empty brass and discarded weapons and bodies scattered across the room, his vision narrowed and focused on his own fingers. They twitched often, dying nerves still struggling to fight. Undignified. The least his body could do would be to lie decently still as it finished dying. Shallow breathes caused him to jerk a little bit every few seconds. His eyes got blurry. The fingers twitched and quivered inches away. Ahhh... it was close... Death's shade crept over him. That was fucking poetic. Probably too poetic, he'd probably read it in some book somewhere. Hopefully it was a classic and not some two-bit crappy romance title he'd read out of sheer boredom. It would be better to have a great final thought, something original. Something that held deep meaning that people would contemplate and nod to themselves even years later.
He was pretty sure he'd just pissed himself. So much for dying with some fucking dignity.
Sergeant major's down! Medic!" Someone's hand grasped his shoulder and then turned loose. "I don't know, but he ain't got up yet, must be serious."
Beachhead thought it might have been a greenshirt. Unfortunately his brain was beginning to feel the loss of blood as well and he couldn't identify the voice. Could have been Shipwreck. The sailor wasn't all bad. He could always rely on him in a fight, even if he was the biggest slacker in the history of slackers off duty. And the damn parrot shit on everything.
There was tugging on his sweater and the straps on his upper left side as someone worked to get to the wound. He was still lying on his side, and whoever it was didn't think to roll him over. Undignified. Someone stepped on his ankle and he wished he could kick the bastard for not watching for poor dying Rangers lying on the floor bleeding and trying to think of really touching last words to gasp out.
"Hang in there." Stupid things you can say to wounded people. "You're okay." Okay, more stupid things to say to wounded people. He knew he wasn't okay. Some Cobra trash had stuck a freaking knife into his chest. That wasn't 'okay'. He really should have set up a class in things not to say to dying Rangers.
"Stay with me, I've got you, it's not that bad." Oh. THAT explained it all. That was definitely Lifeline. God love a duck but the guy trotted out every stupid trite overused phrase to use on wounded people after a battle. Beachhead conveniently ignored the fact that he himself used all those phrases too. Lifeline was a trained and experienced medic and should have an entire repertoire of comments to use. Beachhead was just a dumb redneck hick. At least, that's what he let most folks think. Maybe some of his closer friends would make sure to mention he was smart and decently educated at his funeral. That'd be nice. Nothing too sappy, just some basic facts that everyone had been underestimating their drill sergeant all this time. Yep. Brilliant man. Knew tactics and poetry and all kinds of stuff that didn't keep him from getting freaking stabbed in the armpit but would sound nice if accompanied with a little bit of tears and maybe a sniffle of sorrow.
There was a bubbling pop as Lifeline poked into the wound, probing around. More undignified treatment. Couldn't the medic see he was dying? He should prop him up and let him utter something profoundly moving and brilliant. His fingers quivered. He'd tell the little twerp off if he wasn't busy bleeding out here. Damn it, he couldn't even talk and here if he COULD talk, he'd say something brilliant. Beach thought to himself that he really should have discussed it with Lady Jaye. She could probably have helped him come up with some great inspiring last words. She was smart. Lousy taste in men, picking Flint, but then no one was perfect.
This dying business was taking too long. Lifeline was still putting things into his chest wound, things that should rightfully not be inside a human body no doubt. It was completely unacceptable. The medic kept talking, although he wasn't sure it was aimed at him as the patient or someone else. The noise had gotten all garbled. Seemed his ears were lacking blood to work right too. Or maybe his brain had finally quit working. He watched blurry fingers as they twitched again. Nope. Brain still worked.
"I've got the worst bleeders clamped off, he needs an immediate EVAC to surgery though. He's in lousy shape." Lifeline bent over and got the balaclava off. The medic leaned to peer at his eyes. "Hey, Beach, you're going to be fine!" A fake smile and a encouraging nod. "You got stabbed but we're going to take good care of you." As if he didn't know he'd been fucking stabbed. Twerp. AND as if he couldn't hear him just say he was dying. Stupid medic. He'd give the man a piece of his mind.
"Hnnngh..." The soft burbling moan was accompanied by a string of spit dribbling out of his lips. Oh yes, dying with dignity. He couldn't do that.
His body was moved onto a stretcher and lifted up. Beach's eyes rolled up and his head swam. You know, he spoke to himself, passing out would have made all this drama not happen. He could have been unconscious throughout the entire dying process. Just lay there, bleed a bunch and pass away quietly with dignity. Damn it. He should have thought of that right after the bastard stabbed him. Now it was too late. And why the hell was his arm hanging off the stretcher? It was hard enough to be taking his last shallow gasping breaths but he was also being distracted by the fact that no one thought to put both his damn arms onto the stretcher with him. Fuckers. Wait. Could he have shallow and gasping breathing? Dammit, if he was unconscious already he wouldn't have made that mistake.
Sunlight hit his eyes. It was bright and squint inducing and he knew it wasn't artificial lighting, only sunlight felt that warm and calming. Sunlight had that glow about it... natural radiation baking your cares away. Well, not that he had any cares, being dying and such. Although he did care that no one had put his arm up on the stretcher YET. You know what? He'd yell at them. Yep. He'd tell them all off for carrying a decorated dying bleeding-out stabbed in the armpit although without a pithy last comment Ranger with his damn arm hanging off the stretcher. /span/p
p style="margin-bottom: 0in;""span style="font-size: 14pt;"Huu... lurgle..." Dammit. If he had any last shreds of dignity, he'd just thrown them away to gurgle nonsense at a couple idiots.
There was a loud thumping noise that got even louder. Sounded like a helicopter in fact. Medical evacs often used the big Tomahawk choppers. Plenty of room for a few patients and medics to tend them. He wondered who had gotten wounded bad enough to need evac this time. Other than himself, seeing as he wasn't wounded, he was dying. Slowly. Way too slowly for any dignity. Stupid Cobra troops. The guy SHOULD have rightfully twisted the blade once he'd gotten it all the way in. That would have opened up more arteries and he would have bled out in seconds. He'd done it to enough people over his time in battles. One good stab, twist and withdraw and they were often dead before the body hit the ground. It was pretty humane as deaths went. Sometimes he didn't think they even realized what happened. Just alive one second and dead about 3 seconds later. Quick. Dignified. Fucking Cobra never spent enough time properly training troops. Well, Destro did. His Iron Grenadiers knew how to fight with some discipline. He'd bet if one of them had stabbed him, he'd be rightfully dead and dignified right away. None of this lingering and drooling nonsense.
His stretcher bumped into the gun station as they loaded him into the Tomahawk. Predictably, his arm hung up on it as well and someone had to finally grab it and fold it up onto his chest out of the way. When the stretcher thumped onto the floor he gasped in a deeper breath and made a high pitched noise of pain. That pain might mean he'd gotten a puncture in his lung too. That could account for the difficult breathing. He grudgingly gave the Cobra another few points for at least getting a lung while botching the heart stick.
"Hey, man, you're fine." Beachhead's eye roll had less to do with blood loss and more to do with frustration this time. "We'll get to a good hospital, okay?" Beach really tried to focus his sight on the face hovering over him. Everything was blurry and he couldn't clear his vision. Whoever it was lifted his left arm and placed it up over his head instead. "Watch the wound, he's got three clamps stuck in there." He assumed the guy was talking to someone else. He couldn't do much about his own wound, he was busy dying. Wait... three clamps? What the hell was wrong with Lifeline sticking three fucking metal clamps into him and leaving them there? He could very well die with any dignity with fucking metal tools sticking out of his chest cavity. God DAMN that medic.
The engine noise increased as there was a familiar lurch and they took off. Beach's lungs were finally faltering and giving up now. His lungs were tough. They didn't seem to think they needed blood to work. Ranger lungs. Keep going no matter what. Although big knives poking holes in them probably wasn't too good. He gurgled a shallow breath in and felt his eyes roll up in his head again. His fingers twitched. It was time. His damn fingers needed to stop twitching. He was dying now. Alone, undignified and without any inspiring comments that weren't verified to not come from a romance novel. Wait, he hadn't actually said that, he'd only thought it. Beach tried to decide if that should count for or against the level of dignity. He decided arbitrarily to call it a draw, no last words were no worse than a lousy choice of last words.
His fingers twitched spastically again. Vision gone, but he could feel the little jerky movements as his body refused to finish dying properly. A warm hand grasped his and squeezed firmly.
"Hey, I'm right here. You're not going to die. We're going to take you to a hospital with some very good rich doctors who get off on saving critical patients every day. So you just try to breathe nice and slow and relax. I got you." It was a deep caring voice, the kind of voice that you could trust not to tell you lies. Not that Beach minded Lifeline telling him lies occasionally... things like 'if you don't stop running, you'll pull those stitches and Doc will kill you'. Doc wouldn't kill him. Oh he would probably yell a lot. But not actually kill him.
Beachhead scoffed at the idea that he needed any comforting while he finished dying without any dignity, bleeding out in a speeding chopper with half a dozen other wounded guys shouting and screaming and crying around him. He was a fucking Ranger and Rangers could die with stoic dignity. They didn't need some nice guy reassuring them.
Wayne, on the other hand, struggled to squeeze that hand back and hoped rather desperately that the flight medic would have time to hold his hand just a little while. He'd never died before and he was pretty sure he was fucking it all up.
When he woke up, he was warm and comfortable in that confusing hazy way that told you that chemical assistance was making you forget all the issues your body had. He really hated being drugged up and feeling thick and stupid. Whatever drugs they'd given him had made him forget all about his hatred of drugs. That circular argument kept him bemused for a while.
Ahhh yes. Someone had to come bug him. He'd fucked up the dying part and now the price was he had to listen to people babble at him and try to get him to do stuff he'd rather not do. Right now, he wanted to lie here in his warm comfy cocoon and ignore the entire damned world.
"Wayne... please." There was a little tiny sniffle that came after the words.
Fucking hell, it was Courtney. He really should put it in writing that they couldn't let her in until he was good and ready to face the world again. He heard another little pitiful sniffle and sighed. He would reassure her that he was going to be okay and she didn't need to cry or worry.
"Staap cryin gawddammit." Or that. He could just say that. Sometimes he really was a dumbass. This was all that damn Cobra's fault. One twist of the knife, why couldn't he have just twisted the damn knife?
Courtney took it well though, as always. She was reassured that he wasn't dead and didn't seem to be going to die, so she got all snarky with him, making him struggle to retort. His brain was so foggy that he was certain half his comments were all jumbled up so he included enough cursing to make up for the nonsense. You can never go wrong with cursing.
When a doctor came in, it wasn't one he knew so he frowned at him.
"How are we today?" The doctor looked professionally cheerful and entirely too self-satisfied.
He decided to frown harder. "We? I dunno, I got stabbed in the damn chest by an incompetent lunatic. How are you?"
The doctor had the audacity to smile wider at him. "Well, technically you were stabbed two days ago, but that adventure is all in the past. You're recovering nicely today."
Beachhead grumped. "Well if you knew all about how 'nicely' I'm doing then why the fuck ask me?" He coughed softly for a moment and pain raced through his entire chest. It must have shown on his face because the doctor put on that fake expression of deep concern.
"You'll be coughing a bit, don't suppress the urge to cough. We don't want you to end up with pneumonia after all." The man fiddled with his IV pump and made it beep a few times.
"Can't have that, wouldn't be...*cough* proper." Beach felt his head swim again. Either the drugs or the damage to his body tackled him and dragged him towards blackness. After a moment, he blinked again realizing the doctor was telling him more stuff about healing and not-that-bad and enthusiasm for recovery. He interrupted the stream of blather. "Go to hell."
"Wayne!" Courtney, as always, smoothed things with the guy, telling him lies about the Ranger still being in pain or not usually being 'this way'. The doctor left after some instructions Beachhead would ignore and reassurances he didn't bother to listen to.
"Wayne, one day you need to learn to be nice to your doctors." Courtney was scolding him. He would be annoyed because it was undignified to be scolded by some little slip of a girl, even when he was flat on his back in a hospital bed. Secretly he found it a bit amusing that she thought she needed to school him in how to behave socially. He knew the rules. He just liked to ignore the rules. After all, if someone took a comment amiss, a proper response was to apologize profusely and make it up to them and to resolve not to insult the person in the future. Beachhead could grunt and sometimes even punch the person. His way was MUCH better.
She kissed his cheek before she left. That was nice. He liked it. Not that he needed to go admitting it or anything but having a really hot girlfriend who came to see him in the hospital was pretty nice. Prior to that, he sometimes didn't see a familiar face until he arrived back at base after recovering. Well, excepting whoever came to debrief him, which was normally Flint. Covergirl was vastly preferable to Flint, in any sense of the word. Except perhaps in a hand-to-hand fight. Love the girl but she still lacked upper body strength. He reminded himself to comment on that when he saw her again. Sure, she'd get mad, but then she'd go work out twice as much to prove him wrong and that was exactly what he wanted.
He sighed heavily and went back to sleep. If he wasn't going to die then he needed to get on with healing up so he could escape this boring hospital and get back to the Joe team where he belonged.
His last fading thought before sleep took him was that as much as he loathed not being good at things... he was damned happy to be lousy at dying.
"I hope you enjoyed. Don't fret, I'll be back to more normal stories quick, I hope! Blame StormShadow for mucking up my writing.