::Under the Surface::

Slip under the water.

Let the cold brush against the skin, every pour, every nerve end tingling at the sudden cold. Open eyes. Look around, without moving your head. Don't breath, don't think. Must not think. Concentrate on the plan. Hold your breath for as long as possible. Ignore the faint burning for now, it will grow in time and then you can react. Just... don't do anything.

Wait. You have to wait as long as you can because this has to work. The next mission requires you to hold your breath until the guards pass. Skinner would have perhaps been a better choice, as then, even if the guards had looked in the water they wouldn't have seen anything. But he was still recovering from his burns, his horrific burns that were your fault. No, you're not thinking. You're just waiting, holding your breath.

Pause. Is the burning unbearable now? No, you can hold it longer, it's only mildly annoying now. Even the water isn't as cold anymore, or at least you can't feel it as badly as you could at first. Mrs. Harker would have been the best choice for the underwater part, as she doesn't need to breath. But she is needed in a different part of the building, the same with Dr. Jekyll and Captain Nemo. So that just leaves you, the brash American, who is only part of this team because you bribed your way in.

You're thinking again. You don't want to think, not about that, not about him. Though all thoughts eventually wind back to him and to all your mistakes. You should have been faster, stronger, smarter. Even as you tell yourself your not thinking, you wouldn't let yourself think about it, you know it's a helpless thought. Part of you believes you should have died that day. Though the other part, the part that should be telling you it's not true is too busy trying to work out which day you mean. Do you mean the day you lost Huck or the day you lost Allan? Each death sucks a little bit more out of you, robbing you of your spirit and sometime you don't understand how you can carry on.

It's reaching the point where you should rise up to the surface and breath, your lungs are really protesting now. Even though your body screams for oxygen, you don't move and even consider staying under the water, to let your mouth open and water rush in. What would that be like you can't help but wonder. Would your body thrash in the water, as you tried to cough up the water, even as every second just results in more water filling your lungs. Would you slowly give up, your body accepting it's fate. The end would be peaceful, as your eyes close and the world would simply fade away.

No! You can't just let it go, you have to keep going. Because not only do the League need your help, but you don't deserve to die, you don't deserve rest. Not yet. The fire in your lungs is unbearable and you push your body upwards, reaching the surface and there is a sudden rush of sound as the real world comes back to you, the one you don't really notice under the water. Not long enough, you have to try again, even as you fight to get your breathing under control and brush some of your soaking wet blond hair out of your way.

Breath out. Breath in. You cannot falter. You cannot, will not fail, not in this, not when they are counting on you, not again, not like last time, the first time, the most important time.

Don't think.

Slip back under the water again.