Title: We'll Joke About This When We're Old

Author: OpheliacAngel

Characters & Pairings: Susan/Ford, Nancy

Genres: Romance/Horror

Rating: Mature

Summary: "Oh, Jesus, Ford! Your arm's hanging off."

"What did I tell ya? F***ing impervious to death, aren't I?"

A/N: Written for Trick or Treat Exchange as a treat for Diaphenia for your prompt 'Rick's stories are the real horror show.' I wanted to nab your pinch hit but it was claimed before I could, so I wrote something for your awesome prompt anyway. Honestly, these two are impossible not to write. Hope you don't mind where I took your prompt and Happy Halloween! Also a fill on my h/c_bingo card for the wild card space: major illness or injury.

Susan should have known that Ford would go off and do something stupid.

Lately, she's been the one doing stupid things, as in waking up with Ford in her bed one night after another with little memory of how it happened. Sure, she remembers the night before all too well, incredibly vivid scenes that unfortunately could never be beat out of her, but the events leading up to Ford ending up in her bed are somewhat more cloudy.

She tries not to think about it. She takes case after case and in-between them there are the nights with Ford and she can't take anymore of Nancy psychoanalyzing her quite literally psycho behavior, so she stops talking about it altogether. Rick always eggs her on to the point where she can't get any information out of him, plus she doesn't want to admit to her partial cluelessness anyway. He'll go on and on about how she liked this and that and relate to her the various sex adventures of his life. If Susan is ridiculously unlucky, she'll shower and then walk into her kitchen to find him there, cooking her breakfast and then proceeding to drive her up the wall with his 'good morning, sweetheart.' At least it's better than this: 'good lay, ain't I?' Or his 'come on now, you know you fancied it, darlin,'' once he catches her horror-struck expression that he's still there, at her stove, using her pan, in nothing but his boxers.

The thing she can't quite figure out is if all of this is just some joke to him. Then again, why would he try so damn hard?

Susan Cooper refrains from banging her head against the wall at the mess that has become her life.

The thing that no one told her is that all of Rick's stories - or at least some of them - are true.

Maybe not the getting caught on fire while jet-skiing, or crawling naked over a mile of glass while attempting to rescue a hostage, but the complete macho behavior when Ford's about to face losing an actual limb while Susan lowers her gun and attempts not to completely lose her shit is definitely true. Given she's an unwilling witness and all.

Worse? Rick's probably going to start using this as one of his stories as soon as tomorrow.

"Oh, Jesus, Ford! Your arm's hanging off." The room's dark but it ain't dark enough. Ford's in the corner, bloodied and beat-up and those two are huge understatements. His once white long-sleeved shirt is soaked in blood and his face looks like one huge bruise, blood running down his forehead and cheek from a pretty impressive gash at his scalp. One of his arms is behind his back and the other is dangling from his shoulder by a mere piece of flesh, nearly completely chopped in two. It's like she's in some damn horror movie. Note to the audience: Susan Cooper is not a fan of horror movies. She is also absolutely not okay with someone pretty much having sliced her man's arm off. And… she can't believe she just said 'her man.'

"What did I tell ya? Fucking impervious to death, aren't I?"

And holy shit, he's still somehow awake.

Once satisfied that the room is secure, Susan holsters her weapon and steps over to her partner, who is currently tied to a chair but obviously only by one of his arms. As soon as she's close enough to see the extent of the damage and that: no, she wasn't imagining it, she coughs and presses her face against her arm. It takes several seconds to steel herself and she still has to swallow down the bile violently rising up in her throat, but she's determined to cut through the ropes securing Rick's legs to the chair as soon as possible so that they can get the hell out of here. "Couldn't you have gotten out of these before this happened."

"Chill out, Cooper. This was planned," he bites back, but she can't help but notice that his words lack sufficient bite. No wonder, the ground is coated in blood. Most likely his since there doesn't seem to be anyone else around. She saws at the ropes harder and faster, but still keeps an ear out.

Nancy's supposed to be keeping a lookout for her, but after killing only three men upstairs Susan is still wary about trouble being over yet. Even after what's happened to Rick, it still seems too good to be true for Susan to be here right now. "Nance, you still there?"

"Roger that, Susan. Don't see anyone else around." God, it's so nice to know that someone else is with her other than a bleeding out and delusional Rick.

She grimaces at the state of his arm - she can see the bone underneath - and glances away quickly, managing not to spew everywhere in sight. It takes everything in her to push forward, but it's her job and this is her partner, maybe in both senses of that word. Don't think about that now, Susan.

Susan bends down and works on freeing his other arm now. Rick's starting to list against her which is definitely not a good sign. She doesn't blame him, it's by some horrible miracle that he's still awake considering how much blood's he's lost and that he's been down here for three days, maybe without food and water and contact and Susan really can't be thinking about this right now. She still has to get Rick out of here herself, and she can't exactly carry him to safety. "Ford's in pretty bad shape, Nancy." Luckily, she doesn't have to lose anymore time by explaining just how bad.

"Don't worry," Nancy reassures in her ear. "We'll have someone to take care of him as soon as you get out of there."

"Thanks," she grits out as she finally frees Rick and helps him stand. She decides to return to their previous conversation, her first effort in a long line of many saved up in her head to keep him standing and hopefully walking, let alone awake. "Having your arm almost completely hacked off by some bad guy was planned?" God, he really had to get his priorities straight.

"That's right," Rick slurs, swaying against her. "Ain't the worst state I been in."

"Sure it isn't, tough guy." Susan manages to keep him upright and gives him a gentle push towards the direction of the stairs, holding onto him all the while. How she'll manage to get him up them she has no idea. "What'dya say we get you out of here before they decide to play operation on your other arm." Or finish their sick game on that one.

"Sounds like a plan, love."

Miraculously, he takes two steps on his own towards the stairs before crumpling to the ground. Susan sighs in frustration before rushing over to him. "Rick! Rick, you okay?" No sense in worrying about keeping her voice down now, especially when she's half expecting Rick to have stopped breathing. "Get with it, Susan," she berates herself as she presses two shaking fingers to his neck, searching for a pulse and nearly having a heart attack when she finds it, weak but definitely there. Still beating, still breathing. He's also groaning and shifting slightly, his groans increasing in volume as he shifts his grotesquely injured arm, the one that Susan tried to forget about, like an idiot. "You just can't do anything halfway, can ya?"

Seeing as his shirt is pretty much useless, as torn and bloodied as it is, and that his arm is most likely to fall off if she doesn't do something right the fuck now, Susan works quickly without thinking much about it as she unbuttons her over-shirt and wraps it securely around the gap in Rick's arm, receiving a pained cry for her efforts to keep the arm together.

"It's okay. You're okay." She sucks at the whole comfort thing, but seeing Rick's bloodless face pinched in pain is not helping her heart beat any slower. Wanting desperately to do something other than cause him additional pain, she wipes the sweat off his forehead and leaves her hand there for a minute. "Susan Cooper to the rescue and all," she mutters under her breath, smiling as his eyes latch onto hers for just a second. Jesus, what have I gotten myself into? You're in too deep, Susan. She doubts that her makeshift bandage will do much good, but if she can at least hold the flesh together until she can get him to help then she'll feel like she's won 'spy of the year.'

It's hard to see Rick like this. She's haunted by the last time she saw him: turned towards her in her bed, snoring softly and the look of a happy man written all over his face. It didn't strike her then how happy she had been too, to see Rick so relaxed and at ease with her, to know that she felt something for him other than irritation. Ford was a good guy, a tad bit too bullheaded and charming for her tastes, but women like her couldn't complain all the damn time. Just most of it.

If she loses Rick now, she'll never wake up to the smell of him cooking pancakes in her kitchen ever again.

This panic fuels her to lift his upper body up until he lies half in her lap, then to proceed slapping his cheek until he regains full consciousness again. "Wake the fuck up, Ford! I am not joking right now." Rick coughs but his eyes flutter open again and find hers. He also smiles this altogether goofy and ridiculous smile at her that makes Susan want to slap him harder to snap him out of it. "You ready to be serious now? I can't carry your heavy ass out of here. Breaking my back isn't in the job description."

"I bet going out with your partner isn't exactly in there either," Rick says. He still manages a mischievous glint in his eye even though he's dying and this is the absolute last thing he should be worried about.

"Are you… are you trying to ask me out on a date?" She splutters, she can't help it. Here she is: crouched down on the filthy floor of some torture chamber, Rick's blood literally on her hands and her shirt being the only thing preventing his arm from falling off, and he honestly wants to talk to her about taking her on an actual date that doesn't involve pancakes? Rick should really stop trying to find ways to get her to pass out.

"So what? You gonna think up some elaborate excuse to turn me down, Cooper?" God, that accent, every freaking time, she curses under her breath.

Rick spaces out for the next few minutes it takes to get him back on his feet, but at least he's still awake. She wraps his good arm around the back of her neck and shoulder and lifts him up at each step as they progress up the stairs, counting on him at least somewhat to not fall backwards and break his neck. It's the most effort she's put into anything in her entire life, but with every heaving breath she takes she knows it's worth it. This is Rick, the obnoxious guy who just won't get the hell out of her bed, the guy who chooses to put up with her efforts to get him out of her apartment as he cooks her breakfast, the one who never fails to show up at her door with new, overdone tales to tell and thoroughly foolproof ways to get Susan to let him in every single time.

Still… "You are going to be making this up to me for the next few years, Ford," she grunts as she half-carries his heavy ass up the stairs, Rick barely helping her at all.

"Looking forward to it, sweetheart."

By some miracle, he doesn't pass out until they get to the car. On the ride back, Susan has to slap herself repeatedly to prevent herself from taking her eyes off the road and kissing Rick until neither of them can breathe anymore.

She's in this as deep as he better be.

Rick heals well and bounces back on his feet in no time. They go on that date that he promised, some fancy Italian restaurant where they order expensive wine and Rick skirts around the topic of her dress, which she spent a lot of time picking out, before actually admitting he likes it just before they leave the restaurant. Eventually, Susan lets him stay over on weekends and they watch cheesy movies together and Rick is still annoying and she is still done with his shit most of the time, but it's kinda funny how it all works. It's also funny how it's sorta like a happily ever after. One she never thought that she'd get.

She should have known Rick would never shut up about it.

"One time, I withheld under three days of brutal torture. At one point having my arm completely torn off…."

"Shut up, Rick!" She yells from the kitchen, despite knowing that it won't phase him one bit. She proceeds in uncorking a bottle of wine as she finishes preparing dinner for the new friends she's invited over.

A lot has changed since she saved Brad's life and then Rick's. Susan shakes her head. "Men,"she says under her breath. Such damsels. She can't decide whether the lack of credit being given to her or the horrific memory brought to mind from a not exactly factual retelling of events is worse. Both. At the same time. The credit isn't really what she needs though, all the thanks she'll ever need is Rick being alive to tell the tale. Oh god, wrong term. So, all the thanks she'll ever need is Rick paying up for the next few years or so like she promised: Rick hauling his ass out of bed every morning to cook her breakfast, getting his head beat in when he doesn't bring her flowers, and absolutely not doing that thing with his thumb in bed. Of course, he'll get a kiss when he turns too much of his charm on her, knowing she can't resist… oh well. She's not impenetrable after all.

She'll change that to a slightly dysfunctional happily ever after.