Karma, Bad Karma
by Valerie Vancollie
valeriev84 at hotmail dot com
Characters: Ian Edgerton
Summary: It was karma, it just had to be. Not even three weeks ago he'd been in LA with Eppes, jerking some criminal's chain by pretending to be unable to steady his hands and now look at him.
Spoilers: Toxin, Pandora's Box
Note: This fic was written for the Ian Edgerton het/slash round at Numb3rs Write-Off, an LJ community. I was a member of Team Angst and choose the word prompt 'seizure.'
His hands were shaking.
His hands were shaking.
His hands never shook.
Not the first time he'd fired a gun. Not the first time he'd shot someone. Not even the first time he'd aimed to kill someone; either before or after the fact. It was one of the reasons he'd become such a renown sniper so damn quickly. He had incredibly steady hands. Hands he could control even when adrenaline coursed through his body, making other sniper's hands shake uncontrollably. Well, that and his superb aim.
Which was probably why it was happening now, when he needed it least. Never before had so much been riding on his ability to make the shot. At least not for him. There were other times where more lives had been at stake than now, but never had those lives meant so much to him. They were normally innocents, civilians caught in the crossfire, or enemy soldiers of some form. Almost never did he know the victim personally and when he did, it hadn't been someone he was intimately involved with.
Now the victim was.
His brain almost refused to acknowledge the word. Refused to associate it with Laura Benjamins. Special Agent Laura Benjamins, one of the FBI's finest trackers. Yet there she was, not more than a couple hundred yards from him, being held at knife point by some former soldier-turned-sociopath who had thought it a good idea to take a young child hostage when the cops got too close.
Even from this distance, Ian could easily see that the blade was sharp, the glint of sun off it indicating that the target took as good care of it as he did his rifle. So, prepared and crazy, not the best combination yet one he'd faced all too often. He could clearly see why Laura had offered herself instead of the girl, the target was clearly unstable. He'd have done it too, knowing the man would see a federal agent as a more valuable hostage.
Yet it made the whole scenario infinitely worse. And not only for him. It would have done so regardless of the sniper as Laura was about level with the target. At least the little girl left him wide open. Laura... Laura hid him too well. Ian could barely see anything of the man but a few inches of his side and his head as he argued with the FBI agents near him.
Another tremor traveled down his hands and along his rifle. It wasn't a huge one, but it would have been enough to completely throw off his aim if he'd been firing. He could have hit Laura if he'd been firing.
Ian shoved the thought from his mind. He would not let himself start down that road, it would only make things worse. Worse than they already were. Not only was he emotionally invested in the victim, but his shot was terrible. Yes, he could see part of the target's head and yes he had hit things with a smaller area, but it was the angle of the shot. It was one of the things they'd taught at Quantico. A head shot from this angle would not guarantee that the target would drop on impact as most others would. No, given the shot he had, it was possible that the bullet would trigger a seizure.
A seizure which would drag the knife across Laura's throat, slicing open the carotid artery at the very least. If the blade was anywhere near as sharp as he suspected it was, it also had the possibility of cutting as deep as her spine. Ian gritted his teeth as he tried to force the target to move through sheer force of will. All he asked for was another inch. Just enough to ensure a better kill shot.
As he watched, Laura brought a hand up to clutch at the arm wrapped around her middle and Ian shivered as he felt the ghost of her touch along his own arms. It seemed like much more than a mere handful of hours since she'd caressed his skin, smiling coyly at him even as she teased him. Her eyes daring him as they'd done so often when they'd first met and tried to outdo each other on the training course the FBI had them attend to hone their tracking skills.
Ian cursed as his hands continued to shake. It was karma, it just had to be. Not even three weeks ago he'd been in LA with Eppes, jerking some criminal's chain by pretending to be unable to steady his hands and now look at him. It was bad karma. He didn't even believe in karma, let alone the bad kind.
He could do this. They didn't call him the bastard son of Clint Eastwood and Yoda for nothing. Impossible was supposed to be one of his specialties. He could do this.
No, he /had/ to do this.
As if the sheer determination were enough, Ian found his hands steadying as he checked his rifle once more, the habitual action soothing him before he looked through the scope. Exhaling slowly, he waited until his whole body had relaxed fractionally before he minutely adjusted his aim. He knew he wouldn't get anywhere near his normal state of calmness, so he would just have to make do with what he had.
The target moved slightly, exposing more of his head to Ian's sight and he gently tightened his finger on the trigger, squeezing off a round.
Time seemed to slow as he felt the kickback against his shoulder. The bullet seemed to be inching forwards as it left the barrel and glided through the air towards Laura and the target. Ian thought he could catch the glint of sunlight off it before time seemed to reassert itself and the bullet leapt forwards, embedding itself in the target's head.
Ian clutched his rifle as he watched the man spasm briefly, causing a small jerk in his hand before he dropped like a stone, dragging Laura down with him. He leapt to his feet to get a better view as FBI agents swarmed forwards from their sheltered positions. Normally he experienced a rush of sound after firing as his mind finally stopped filtering out extraneous noises, but not now. Now it seemed like he was in a vacuum, he could see people moving and knew that they must be making noise, must be shouting, but he couldn't hear it.
There had been blood. Ian had seen it blossom along Laura's neck as the target's hand jerked just before he went down. The question was, how bad was it? Although his mind screamed at him to drop the rifle and run down to see, his body refused to comply, instead freezing him in place for several eternal seconds.
Then, suddenly, he heard a gasp before Laura lurched upright and rolled away from the target. One of her hands came up to her throat, smearing blood even as her other hand reached before her in a defensive position; just in case. The action and the fluidity of it spoke volumes for her condition. The blade may have broken the skin but it hadn't nicked the carotid artery. Relief flooded him and sound rushed back into his ears.
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