A/N: old upload of fic I've written a couple of years ago. Tag to Strike Back: season 3, episode 8.
I don't own anything.
Michael jumped into the car with one last surge of adrenaline rushing through his body. His body was throbbing and he was on the brink of collapsing. Scott turned around to give him a cocky grin.
'You like that one, huh?' he laughed, showing the trigger they had used to blow up the ambulance.
Michael rolled his eyes and closed them wearily. He tried to ignore the sharp bite of the rip-ties around his wrists. The car sped away, leaving the riding arena behind and raced back to their head quarters. They had to think of a plan to get Lilian Ltulu back and Knox in custody.
When Scott was sure that they weren't followed anymore, he gave an order to pull over. When the car came to a stop. Damien turned around in his seat, giving Michael a glance.
'Shit.' he mumbled and got out.
He opened the passenger door and squatted down next to a seemingly unconscious Michael. Blood was marring his pale face and his breathing was laboured.
'Hey Mikey, how about you open your eyes for me now? You are pretty enough as it is so no need for more beauty naps.' Damien joked. But the joke fell flat, as Stonebridge didn't respond.
Scott's fingers trembled as he carefully took away the duck-tape around Michael's mouth. He then proceeded to cut through the rip-ties when Michael stirred and inhaled deeply.
'Hey mate, it's about time you woke up. How are you feeling?' Damien asked and slashed through the plastic bands with his pocketknife. He cringed as fresh blood welled up from the abused wrists.
'You got your ass handed pretty good.' Damien mumbled, his concern increasing by the moment. Stonebridge was incredibly lethargic, eyelids fluttering, closing on their own accord.
' Thirsty.' Michael whispered, a little trail of blood rolling down his chin.
Scott pulled out a water bottle and carefully helped Michael situated on his elbow. Michael's head rested in the crook of Scott's neck. The Brit shivered as Damien put the water bottle against his chapped and bloodied lips.
'Easy does it.' Scott instructed. 'Just don't drink too much.'
Michael drank about a quarter of the bottle before he turned his head to the right, indicating that he had enough.
'Are you okay?'
Michael nodded. He was anything but okay. He just wanted to go home, to his bed and sleep for the rest of the week. Damien shifted, wanting to go back to the front and travel further to HQ when a cold hand grabbed his wrist.
Damien quickly glanced at Baxter who had been with him. But he was too busy talking to Major Dalton, informing her about the past events.
Michael's heavy lidded eyes flicked up to Scott's face.
'Sure buddy.' Scott muttered and got in the car, wrapping an arm around Michael. 'Hey Baxter, take us home.' Scott said. Baxter looked at him through the rearview mirror and nodded, starting the car and speeding away.
They were almost at their destination when Scott noticed that there was a green tinge to Michael's face.
'Michael, are you okay?' he asked, and sat up straighter, watching as the man swallowed convulsively. Said man shook his head.
'Pull over, Baxter.' Scott demanded with great urgency. He'd rather not have vomit all over the upholstery. The car had not yet come to a full stop when Michael ripped the door open and heaved up everything he had in his stomach.
The vomit splattered onto the hot concrete road, amplifying the smell of blood.
'S-Scott…' Michael whispered as he saw the puddle of red gore lying on the ground. This wasn't what the colour of vomit was supposed to look like. Not to his standards at least. Scott leant over and saw the red barf and frowned.
'It's okay, bud.' He assured the man, and carefully closed the door, wiping Michael's chin with the tissues Baxter had handed him.
' We're almost there. Hang on for a little while, yeah?' Scott queried and signaled Baxter to start driving again.
It took them five more minutes to arrive at HQ. In those five minutes Michael had grown paler by the second and little droplets of sweat rolled down his face.
'What the hell is wrong with him?' Baxter asked as they got out of the car, Scott dragging Michael with him. The man was leaning limply against Scott's shoulder, legs giving out. Combined with the body weight of a barely conscious Michael and a bruised shoulder, Scott crashed to the ground, not able to keep them both up.
'Fuck me.' He groaned.
With the help of Baxter, they managed to get Stonebridge inside.
'What in the hell happened?' Dalton bellowed and strode towards them.
'Not now Dalton.' Scott spat, dragging Michael towards the cot and carefully placing him on it. Sergeant Richmond grabbed the first aid kit and handed it to Damien, seeing how livid the man was, she backed away, motioning Baxter to do the same.
They had learnt the hard way what happened if Scott was pissed off and someone was bothering him. Baxter shot a warning glance at Dalton, but the Major ignored it and grabbed Scott's shoulder.
'What the hell happened back there, Sergeant?' She demanded.
'What happened is that Knox has Lilian Lutulu and Bryant is still playing dirty games. That's what has happened!' Scott spat, ripping free from her grip and opened the first aid kit.
Dalton fumed and stomped back to the command post, seemingly pissed off by Scott's behaviour and the overall situation.
'Do you need something, Scott?' Richmond asked carefully.
'Yeah, someone who can get that stick out off Dalton's ass.' He sighed. He looked at her and saw the sincerity in her face.
'Fresh water, a cloth, a bucket and a bottle of water.'
Richmond nodded and headed out to fetch the required items. Baxter backed off, returning to his computer, toying a bit with some cables that were lingering around.
This had been a close call.
Scott was on edge, Stonebridge was injured and Dalton was wrecking havoc in the little side chamber they had called an office.
Richmond came back right in time. Scott just managed to put the bucket underneath Michael's chin, when the man threw up again. The American looked at Richmond, his face tinted with panic. The vomit was red again and judging by the look on Damian's face this wasn't the first time.
She carefully lifted Stonebridge's shirt, checking the damage underneath, palpating the abs for a sign of internal damage. She at last looked at Scott.
'There is no internal damage. He might have cracked a rib or two, however.'
'Then why is he throwing up blood?' Scott asked.
'My best guess is that he has been lying on his back. You can see that he has had a nosebleed and a pretty bad one on top of that. He must have swallowed a lot of blood. And well, blood is pretty heavy on the stomach, hence the nausea and throwing up. It's nothing to worry about, Damian. It's not pure blood he is throwing up.' She said and cringed as Michael heaved again.
'Just give him some time to recover.'
Scott nodded and muttered thanks. He dipped the cloth in the bowl of fresh water and started cleaning Michael's face with care. Ten minutes later Michael started to regain consciousness. He felt less nauseated than before and somehow a bit better.
He slowly flicked his eyes open. Everything was fuzzy for a moment but the world regained focus slowly. Michael frowned and carefully propped himself onto an elbow, wincing at the soreness he felt in his body. A damp cloth fell from his face.
'Hey Sergeant, how are you feeling?'
Michael looked up and saw Richmond smiling at him. He tried to smile back, hiding a wince as his split lip opened. He carefully positioned himself upright. Scott was sitting opposite of him, watching him like a hawk. Michael frowned as he saw the blank look on Scott's face. It was then he noticed the vile taste in his mouth. He cringed and motioned for the bottle of water.
Richmond sat down next to him, handing the bottle of water and a clean bucket. Michael took a large gulp and swished his mouth, spitting out crimson-tinged water into the bucket.
Richmond placed a hand on his lower back, asking: 'Are you okay?'
He muttered something along the lines of: 'I'm fine.' when Baxter came in. He threw an apple at Scott, who caught it easily. Richmond gently tried to scrub away some dried blood on his forehead when Baxter turned the screen towards them. Michael pushed the hand softly away, his attention towards the screen. When he saw his picture on the screen, next to Scott's, as suspects he cussed.
Just what they needed…
'Ah, we're famous.' Scott sighed, chewing on his apple. 'My mommy is going to be so proud.' His gaze went to Michael, still with that unreadable face.
'She would be a lot more proud if you'd found those nukes.' Dalton commented, handing an ice pack.
Scott sighed again.
'The last thing that we need at this stage is you two Muppets in the spotlight.'
She clapped Scott on the shoulder, who groaned in response.
'Muppet.' He retorted, flicking his eyes once more at Michael.
He laughed at the off-handed comment.
'Now Stonebridge, I think it is best for you that you get some shut-eye. I can't guarantee that we will have a peaceful evening.' Dalton said, hands on her hips.
The man nodded and lied back on the cot, closing his eyes, exhaling deeply.
'Oi Baxter, turn down the volume, will ya?' Scott said.
'Richmond, come here I need you.' Dalton called out. 'Baxter, you too.'
'Jesus folks, can't you be a little more quiet.' Scott huffed and got up, ignoring his injured shoulder. This was nothing compared to Michael's state of health. He grabbed a thin blanket and laid it over his friend.
'You owe me one, bud.' Scott sighed and walked out of the small area, smiling as he heard the muttered comment of Michael.
'You too, Muppet.'
It was hard to sleep. How could someone sleep with Baxter rattling on the keyboards, Dalton stomping around giving orders and various blips and bleeps coming from the computers? Michael rolled on his side again for the umpteenth time. He sighed aggravated. It was hard to fall asleep. His side was sore and his stomach was doing weird flips.
Baxter had explained that it was from ingesting too much blood.
'You okay, Mikey?' a voice softly asked.
Michael opened a tired eye and saw Damian sitting next to him, icepack resting on his shoulder.
''M fine, just can't sleep with all this racket.' Michael sighed once more, closing his eyes.
A warm hand rested on his shoulder and it felt rather cold when Scott left his side.
Then, after approximately five minutes, everything was quiet.
There were soft footsteps and a groan as Scott sat back down in his chair. He clutched his shoulder and winced. He looked over at Michael and saw the man looking at him.
'You should have that checked out.' Stonebridge muttered.
'It's just a bruised muscle. Now sleep.' Scott smiled.
'Scott, I-' he began but the man didn't let him finish.
'It's okay Michael. We'll talk about this, another time. Just sleep, okay? It took me a great effort to make sure everyone would be quiet.'
Michael huffed and closed his eyes once more. Then he succumbed to a peaceful sleep.
Scott had no idea it was so damned hard to keep his colleagues quiet. Dalton was constantly making calls with her ever so loud voice. It came to the point where he got up and politely, yet firmly asked her to go to her 'fucking hellhole you call an office.'
Baxter, well he was being his noisy self, clattering on his keyboard, playing Space Invaders when Dalton wasn't looking and constantly shifting in his chair.
The only person who had the decency to be quiet was Richmond. Scott knew she fancied Michael. He could see it every time she looked at the Brit. The sparkle in her eyes, the little smile, the occasional touches…
Scott rubbed his eyes. He checked his watch and noticed that it was almost seven PM and they had yet to eat something. Michael hadn't had any food since yesterday and must be starving.
He carefully got up. Michael had been sleeping for a solid three hours and Scott hoped that Michael got the chance to sleep two hours more. The blanket had slipped down. It wasn't particularly warm inside, so he took the blanket and pulled it up to Michael's chin, gently tucking in the corners. He knew that Michael was an exceptionally light sleeper, but he was so out of it, you could drop a bomb and he still wouldn't wake up.
There was a loud thud, followed by a series of metal clattering on the ground. Great, someone dropped a box with bullets.
'And then they accuse me of being loud.' Scott hissed and glanced down at Michael. Wonder by wonder the man was still asleep.
Scott walked towards the weapon-shed and opened the door and saw Richmond looking sheepishly at him.
'Sorry…' she whispered.
'Yeah, tell that to Michael.' He huffed.
'Did I wake him up?' she queried.
'No, you didn't, but one of you will if you all don't shut the fuck up. Jesus.' Scott growled.
'What is all this ruckus about!' a voice bellowed and both Scott and Richmond cringed. Leave it up to Dalton to spoil everything.
'Nothing Major, I accidentally dropped something.' Richmond explained.
Dalton looked at her and then at Scott.
'Major, we need some food. Michael hasn't eaten for approximately 24 hours and he needs food to get some of his strength back.' Scott said, voice low and soft, hoping Dalton would catch the gist.
She nodded: 'We'll send Baxter. He is too fidgety now that he has been out in the field.'
Good, one down, two more to go, Scott thought grim.
Dalton walked up to Baxter, who hastily clicked away a YouTube-video of a cat.
'Ma'am?' he asked, face feigning innocence.
'We need a supply run.' She said, looking at him sternly.
'What should I get?' Baxter asked.
'Burgers.' A weary voice said.
They all turned around and saw Michael standing, leaning somewhat heavily on a table. Scott's smile was vibrant.
'Sure, that's the spirit, buddy! Go get him some burgers!' he laughed and walked up to his friend.
Richmond shifted uneasily and looked at Baxter.
'I'll come along, Baxter.' She said and followed said man out of the door.
Dalton looked at the two men with narrowed eyes and said: 'I'll be in my hellhole.'
Michael raised his eyebrows but didn't say anything when he saw the little shake of Scott's head. They both sat down, Michael on the cot, his back resting against the thin wall, and Scott on the chair.
'You should try to rest some more. I have an inkling that we will have some serious shit to deal with later. Mostly involving shooting and dead people, or people getting hurt.' Scott huffed.
'You've never seemed to care about people getting hurt before.' Michael said, wrapping the blanket around his shoulders when he looked back up, he frowned.
Scott was staring at him, that pained expression on his face again and now Michael understood the emotion that had been dominating his features before was fear. He hadn't noticed at first. Scott was never afraid. Never. And if he ever had been, he sure as hell knew how to hide it, so why show it now?
'Are you okay, mate?' Michael asked, narrowing his eyes.
'Just dandy.' Scott whispered. He wasn't okay. At all. His best friend had been captured, tortured… And when he had been throwing up blood. It was just too much.
He had seen pain and gore and violence. Dead children, babies, and mutilated corpses of the victims of some corrupt drug lord…It never ended and he had learnt not to care.
But then he had this mission…and the kid…Daniel…He had cracked and his guilt had been eating him alive.
And then with Michael…every mission was a close call. Too close. What if he would end up like one of those dead bodies. What if those eyes would stare at him, glazed over and vacant?
Scott looked up and saw Michael much closer to him than before. The man was squatted in front of him, a warm hand on Scott's knee.
' Mate? Are you with me now?' he asked.
Scott blinked at him, confused, his eyes watery.
'Damien?' Michael asked softly, squeezing Scott's knee.
His heart skipped a beat when he saw a lone tear trailing down Scott's face.
Scott sniffled, furiously wiping the tear away.
'Gah, look at me. Being all dramatic when you are the one who is really hurt.' Scott laughed with a shaky voice.
'Bollocks.' Michael snorted; he looked at Scott, feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Scott who was an ass at best but always managed to cheer him up, make him laugh.
The same Scott who had saved his lily-white buttocks more times than he could remember.
Scott rested his head in his hand, trying to shield away his face but Michael put a hand around his chin, pulling Scott's face towards him.
'Look at me, Damien.' He said and inwardly cheered when Scott's watery eyes looked up at him.
'I thought I had lost you…'Scott whimpered,' I can't do this anymore, Michael. Every mission, the time they tortured you in that researchers facility…Every mission…I can't lose you. If I'd-' his ramble was cut off when two warm arms wrapped around him.
Scott inhaled sharply but immediately relaxed and leant into the warm hug. They both needed the reassurance. Reassurance that they were okay.
'Thank you.' Scott whispered looking at Michael when they let go.
The man smiled and patted Scott's uninjured shoulder.
'It's okay. We're okay.'
Scott nodded. Michael lied back on the cot, keeping a steady eye on Scott, who despite his mental breakdown seemed rather impassive. But Michael knew what maelstrom of feelings was running havoc inside of him.
When Richmond and Baxter came back in, soon followed by Dalton, they both acted as if everything were okay and nothing had happened.
Michael chewed on his burger and looked at Scott with sincerity and worry.
Scott nodded, almost imperceptible.
They were fine for now.
They had each other to count on and that was what really mattered.