Title: Not-So-Mutinous Insurrection
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine, the world is not.
Summary: The scents of powder, gun oil, human sweat, and spilled blood are everywhere around him. Not hell, then; and he's pretty sure heaven would be much cleaner. 4600 words; slash.
Fandom: DOOM (2005)
Notes: Written for DV Skitz in Yuletide '08.
Of all the things that have happened since they set foot on that fucking hellhole of a planet--
"We kill 'em all," Sarge's voice sounds, rough, from just in front of him. Reaper can only see the side of his face, the stern set of his jaw, but over the looming rise of Sarge's shoulder the Kid stares back, eyes wide, face pale with panic and confusion.
"Let God sort 'em out," Sarge continues firmly, as though he were giving any other order.
--This is the last thing Reaper had been expecting. His right hand tightens instinctively on the grip of his weapon as the line of Sarge's spine sends warnings straight to his reptilian hindbrain.
How had it come to this? Could Sarge even hear himself? He certainly wasn't hearing anyone else any more; for all the impression Reaper had made a moment ago trying to tell him about Sam's discoveries regarding the infection currently turning half the scientists on this base into monsters, he might as well have been talking to a wall.
He grits his teeth as Dantalian shakes his head; can't the Kid see that outright defiance is only going to make things worse? Sarge had been ready to shoot Pinky a second ago; any chance there might be of defusing this situation is slipping further away with every no their CO hears.
"This is wrong," the Kid stutters, disbelieving. "I think--"
"Son, you don't think," Sarge roars back, drowning out anything else Dantalian might have said. "That's an order."
Reaper closes his eyes in the brief pause that follows, heart pounding as he scrambles to find some way of stopping what he knows is coming. He should have seen the signs sooner. Back when it had been Reaper's turn as the Kid, when he'd been the fresh recruit on a team run by another sergeant with another handle, Corporal Doug Mahonin had been known as "Rock" for his steadiness in the field-- and for his tendency to shut everything down when the going got rough to focus one hundred percent on completing the mission. No matter what was asked of him, he'd do it with a stone face and no hesitation; it was his way of keeping his feet under him in a situation he couldn't otherwise control. Only those who drank with him afterward ever guessed how much he was actually affected; and only Reaper had ever got him to talk about it, late one night when he'd been haunted by flashbacks of his own from the rockfall on Olduvai that took his parents.
It has happened less and less since Sarge got his own squad, but then again, they've never been in a situation as bad as this one, either. Half their men left behind on Mars, killed by a science experiment gone out of control, turning into experiments themselves-- and all Reaper had to throw against Sarge's orders to contain and neutralize the threat was his sister's theory about how the infection spread, one she'd even prefaced with an "I don't think" in Sarge's presence. Sarge had never dealt well with maybe.
"We're in the field, soldier," Sarge continues, prodding Dantalian to do something more than stand there, staring at him in mute disobedience.
Reaper shakes his head, sick at heart, and tries one more time to reach the man with words. "Sarge, if nothing's found them..."
Sarge doesn't so much as turn his head in Reaper's direction; he talks right over him, demanding a verbal response from the Kid. "You will obey the direct order of your commanding officer."
By the time he finishes speaking, his voice is quiet and deadly with intent. The tension in the room ratchets up another notch; something deep in his gut tells Reaper that this is it, if he doesn't stop the Kid from saying what's clearly written all over his face there'll be no going back from it. Sarge might not deal well with maybe's, but there's only one thing left Reaper can think of that might reach him-- a maybe he'd kept locked tight in the back of his mind since they'd first met, all those years ago. Sarge had never replied to any of Reaper's infrequent cues, or said anything overt-- but John has seen it in his eyes from time to time, often enough to know it is more than a figment of his imagination.
He's moving almost before he's aware of having made a decision; he extends his left hand, reaching for the join of neck and right shoulder in front of him, dipping inside the high collar of the other man's uniform. Sarge's skin is warm, sweaty from exertion, and twitches under his fingers as he rests them there, demanding attention.
The touch gets to Sarge where words had not; he turns sharply, leaving the kid stuttering as he takes a step toward Reaper, his weapon half-raised as he advances inside the arc of Reaper's arm.
John ignores the snarl, the fury in the set of Sarge's jaw, and simply focuses on not letting go: on what the bunched muscles under his fingertips are telling him. Underneath the furious tension is a faint tremor he can barely detect; behind the blank, black shield of Sarge's glare is a well of horror and denial.
"You said contain," he says mildly, trying to keep his tone non-threatening. At this point, what he's saying is less important than how; treating this conversation like an alpha challenge is what had gotten them to this point in the first place. "I saw a welding torch when I came through; if we can't evacuate them, then let's just seal them in and leave them for UAC to deal with."
He applies pressure with his fingers as he speaks, rubbing at the tight sweep of trapezius muscle just under the skin, reaching up with the thumb to brush at the corner of Sarge's jaw.
The rage doesn't leave Sarge's expression as he snaps an answer-- but neither does he shrug off John's hand, and that gives him hope.
"We can't risk any of them getting to the surface," Sarge growls. "Never leave an enemy behind you, Reaper-- you know that as well as I do."
"So we seal them in while we clear the halls," John replies calmly, stepping an inch closer to extend his grip around the column of Sarge's neck. He's well into his CO's personal space by now, rubbing firmly at the taut cable of muscle along Sarge's spine in an effort to ground the man by touch. "Duke can guard Pinky and Sam while they fix the computers and reactivate the quarantine; we clear out the rest of the demons, kill all the wounded, and leave the uninfected right where they are. Then everyone's happy; we save the facility, we save the innocent, we even save their fucking experiment, but no one dies who doesn't have to."
In that moment, Reaper is almost sure he's reached him; Sarge's eyebrows draw together, as though he's finally considering something other than mass slaughter. But then the scrape of a footstep behind him shatters Sarge's concentration, and he takes a step back, shrugging out of Reaper's reach. "Get your fucking hands off me," he hisses, glares around at the others, then turns his attention back to the Kid.
"And as for you--" he begins to say--
Sam's attention is still on Reaper, brows knit in confusion as she watches him; Duke and Pinky are both glancing between him and Sarge, neither one of their attention on their surroundings. Reaper ignores them all as he steps back toward Sarge-- and is the only one looking in the right direction as something large, familiar, and murderous appears behind Pinky's wheelchair.
It's the big one, the one he and Goat had shot at in Genetics back on Olduvai; the original subject of the C24 study, the criminal Stahl. Reaper moves without thinking again as the beast wraps one clawed hand around Pinky's neck and begins to swing him around like a weapon; he shoves Sarge to one side, screaming at Sam to duck, as the heavy wheelchair prosthesis whistles through the air in their direction. The impact of a wheel against his face knocks him flat, sprawling across the cold, sticky floor. For a brief moment, all he can see is the black aftermath of pain; his cheekbone throbs violently to the rhythm of his pulse, the rhythm of the gunshots echoing all around him. The others must be firing back at the thing.
Sam screams, and the panic he can hear in his sister's voice forces John to sit up and focus. Sarge is already out of the room, the Kid hot on his heels; Reaper can hear their footsteps echoing down the hall as they pursue the demon. He staggers to his feet, lifting his weapon, and surges after them. Duke glances worriedly at him as he passes, but Reaper has no time for the other man's concern; he jerks his chin back toward the room, growling at him to get Sam, and follows in Sarge's wake.
The next few moments are frantic, and strangely anti-climactic all at once; Reaper advances down the hall, covering Sarge as he goes, the rush of adrenaline clearing his mind from the pain and making threats out of every shadow. The base is so damned dark; he has no doubt that one of the first things Stahl did after arriving in the Nevada complex was to wreck as much of the infrastructure as he could, just to make it harder for the Marines to pursue. They've lost sight of him already; after he'd charged through the open nanowall they'd followed immediately, but there's no sign of the monster anywhere in front of them.
Sarge stops moving, weapon braced against the wall, searching the corridor in front of him with his eyes. Reaper tilts his head and listens, wondering what the hell the monsters are up to now. Had Stahl been trying to lure them into a trap? He could have killed more than just Pinky in the Ark room before they'd been able to respond, but if he'd been trying to lure them away--
The rasp of many feet and the growl of voices carries to him, and Reaper hisses a warning to Sarge, all thought of the earlier confrontation forgotten. Seconds later, a shambling mass of half-turned, infected scientists rushes them; Sarge orders a retreat, and Reaper brings up his own weapon, firing furiously into the inhuman bodies as he moves back toward the dubious shelter of the nanowall.
His magazine runs dry, once, then again; he calls his status out to the others as they move, Sarge, Duke and the Kid likewise staggering their fire to keep up a steady hail of lead. Duke is the last one behind the transparent barrier; Reaper informs Sarge of their position at the top of his lungs, holding his fire as Sarge hammers the button to lock the wall with the butt of his gun.
Faced with this horror, he can almost understand Sarge's desire to gut everything that moves. He holds his breath as the grey metal surface of the nanowall snaps into existence, holding back the zombies-- but then it flickers out again, like a patchwork blanket, visible in one place but not another. "The wall's not closing!" he calls, firing again furiously, his entire attention focused on killing the enemy in front of him, on protecting his sister. Everything else can wait.
But he's forgotten to account for Stahl. Sam screams again, behind him, breaking his concentration; he glances back toward her, then jerks his weapon around as he sees what's going on. The Kid had fixed his stance right over a grille in the floor, and massive claws have reached up through the gaps in the metal, snaring the young soldier's ankles and pulling him downward. He's halfway through the floor, choking on his own blood, before Reaper's aim even tracks to his position-- but there's nothing to fire at, nothing, the monsters are under them!
Their position is compromised, the Kid is dead, Sam is in danger-- only the presence of Duke, already tugging Sam out of the corner she's trapped herself in, gives him the strength to turn away before the Kid has even finished dying. The metronome sound of Sarge firing round after heavy round into their attackers has stopped, which means someone needs to face front again before they are overrun from two directions at once.
He's still in motion when he sees another pair of clawed hands thrust through the wall at floor level, grasping for Sarge's boots. Reaper swears and fires; the hands are the only portion of the creature that's visible, but he doesn't need a killing shot; he just needs the fucking thing to let go--
The aim that had earned him the nickname Grimm Reaper stands him in good stead, and Sarge stumbles away from the wall, wide-eyed and swearing, bringing his own weapon around as Reaper screams his defiance. "C'mon, let's go," Duke says shakily, tugging Sam back away from the nanowall, but Reaper isn't listening; over the roars and the scream of gunshots all he can hear is the fall of rock, the fear in his parents' voices as Olduvai killed them all those years ago, as surely as it was killing everyone who'd dared set foot there today.
"John!" Sarge yells, furiously-- and Reaper jerks backward, snapping out of it, as something hot and sharp snags at his thigh. The wall has finally solidified, not that it's going to stop the monsters for long; if they're going to retreat in any kind of order, they're going to have to do it now.
He slips a little in the Kid's blood, a strangely weak leg threatening to fold under him as he moves. Sarge snags the back of his tac vest as he stumbles, then pulls Reaper up to brace against his own solid strength; Reaper nods, waving off his concern, then jerks his chin at Duke, and the four of them make their way toward the nearest room with a blockable door.
The pain in Reaper's cheek has faded, and despite the sweat pouring off him he's starting to feel chilled. He knows that's a bad sign, but can't bring himself to say anything as Duke and Sarge begin shifting huge reels of wire to barricade the room they've chosen from the inside. They're all going to die there; it's only that he's going to fall a little sooner than the rest of them. He stares into Sam's concerned face as she eases him to the floor, and wishes he'd kept in closer touch with her over the years; wishes he'd said something to Sarge long ago, made the maybe's into something the other man couldn't ignore. John had hid behind duty and professionalism for years; had told himself that Sam had rejected him first, returning to the planet that had killed their parents.
Too late now for regrets. The only thing he can do now is give his sister the chance to die human-- he knows Sarge and Duke can take care of themselves.
"Sam, this is important," he says urgently, fumbling in his pockets for the deadly cylinder he still had with him. "This is an ST grenade. When they come through, you pop the top and hit the button. Pop the top and hit the button..."
The world goes fuzzy around the edges; the sound of his mother's music box drifts through his mind, the way it had in the dig earlier that day, and he turns his head a little, looking for Sarge. He shouldn't have snapped at the man for asking about his parents' death, should have told him...
"John, stay with me," Sam says firmly, recapturing his attention. She's messing around with something just below his field of vision, he can't tell what; beyond her he can hear Sarge and Duke arguing about the quarantine again, something about finding the nearest computer. Reaper knows he knows the answer, wants to tell them where it is-- but despite having memorized the schematics of both this base and the one on Mars when they first built them when he was a kid, he's having trouble remembering the layout.
"Stay awake! John, stay with me please," Sam says again, wrapping his left forearm in a firm grip. He glances down, frowning, and sees a needle in her other hand; a needle filled with-- with--
"What's that?" Sarge interrupts them, kneeling suddenly at Sam's side. "Is this C24?" he barks, grabbing her wrist in one massive hand, turning the needle up and away from John's skin. He's staring at her the way he'd stared at the Kid earlier, and something in John's stomach lurches at the thought of his CO seeing his twin sister as a threat.
"No--" Reaper objects, weakly, tugging his arm away from Sam to push at Sarge. As much as he doesn't want that shit in his veins, he wants Sarge and Sam at each other's throats even less.
"It's from Carmack's lab," Sam admits, mildly. She doesn't struggle in Sarge's grasp; the panic has all drained out of her, and the base determination she shares with John is visible in the calm, unyielding way she holds herself. "It can save him."
"No way. Forget about it!" Sarge growls. "You've seen what your precious Chromosome 24 does to people-- it's already killed everyone that's not in this room! And now you want to do that to your own brother?"
"He's bleeding to death!" Sam pleads with him, glancing back down at John. The cold, the black is tugging at him, but he can't look away; can't leave them here alone, not now, not like this.
"And you think turning into a monster's any better of a choice?" Duke speaks up from somewhere near the door. "I don't want Reaper dead any more than you do, but I was right there with you when we saw what happened to Carmack. You can't seriously tell me you still think that shit's reversible."
"Not just reversible," Sam says, softly. "I don't think he'll turn at all. You weren't there when I showed him-- this thing, it chooses hosts, that's what I was trying to tell you. The extra chromosome makes some into monsters, yes; but it doesn't do that to everyone, or the people who originally lived at Olduvai would never have created it. It can make some superhuman, and those are the ones the monsters have avoided infecting, I know it. John's a good man--"
The faith in her voice is almost too much for Reaper to handle. There's things he's never told her-- that he'd bumped that support in the tunnel on Olduvai just before the rockfall collapsed the dig and killed their parents, the problems he'd deliberately caused their foster parents before he could legally escape their custody to join the Marines, the people he's killed since under the convenient banner of orders. "Sam, you don't know me," he says, eyes tracking back to Sarge's face. "I've done some-- some bad things--"
Sarge looks back at him, and that something is there again in his eyes; that unspoken connection that's kept them on the same team for so many years, that led John to tell him things he'd never tell another living soul, that let Sarge listen to him when anyone else would be reprimanded for insubordination. He's spent years satisfying his urges in the shower rather than risk ruining everything, but there's no time left, no more turning away.
Sam grabs his arm again with a frown, interrupting the moment. "You're my brother," she repeats, and jerks her other hand free of Sarge's suddenly loosened grip. "I know you." The needle pricks John's arm, and a wave of heat suddenly spikes outward from the tiny wound.
"Duke, take her," he hears Sarge order, harshly, as the world begins collapsing in on him. "Take the BioForce Gun; shoot at anything that moves, just get her to a computer and reset the fucking quarantine. I'll stay with him."
"You sure about that, Sarge?" Duke asks.
I know him, John thinks he hears one of them saying. Then the heat spreading up his arm reaches his chest, and he hears no more.
Touch is the first one of Reaper's senses to return. He's almost as surprised to awaken at all as he is at the sudden, total absence of discomfort and pain; for an idle moment, he wonders whether he might be waking up in the afterlife instead, but he can't hear the crackle of flame, and there's something-- a hand, he thinks-- stroking gently, back and forth, across his scalp. The scents of powder, gun oil, human sweat, and spilled blood are everywhere around him. Not hell, then; and he's pretty sure heaven would be much cleaner.
Further sensations resolve into a hard thigh pressed under his formerly wounded cheek, and a deep, thoughtful voice rumbling away somewhere above him. John wants to let whomever it is know that he's awake, but he's almost too comfortable to move. The chill is gone, and all the pain and discomforts of a long, brutal mission have faded away; the fingers carding through his hair are leeching all the strain and tension right out of his muscles, leaving him satisfied and content.
"You better wake up soon, you son of a bitch," Sarge is saying; Reaper smiles faintly as he realizes who it is, and the general warmth spreading through his veins begins to pool in more specific, pleasant portions of his anatomy.
"I don't know how you can look at me like that," Sarge continues, bitterness heavy in his voice. "You think you've done bad things," he snorted. "You know me better than anyone else does-- so how can you look at me like that? I was ready to shoot you for mutinous insurrection, for God's sake!"
"Not the kind of 'rection I'm interested in," Reaper slurs, amused, turning his head in Sarge's lap to look up into the man's face. He feels ridiculously light-headed at the moment; somewhere out beyond the confines of this room there must still be monsters to slay and a sister to protect, but just at the moment there's only the two of them, and Sarge's touch feels very good on the back of his neck.
Sarge's nostrils flare, and his gaze drops; when he looks back into Reaper's face, he's wearing that same damned smirk he'd greeted Reaper with at the door of the 'copter just before the mission, and it burns in his blood now the same way it did then. "I see that," Sarge says, "but now is really not the time."
"Sam?" John asks, bemused, still refusing to move. "The quarantine?" He's pretty sure more than just his healing factor has changed in the last however long he's been out; he could practically smell a change in Sarge's body chemistry just then. Arousal? Maybe. He certainly hopes so. Another thought chases itself around in the back of his mind for a moment-- arousal, neurotransmitters, was it really just a genetic thing, or was it also tied into the victim's state of mind when C24 was administered?-- but he lets it go in favor of watching Sarge's face as he answers.
"Duke got your sister to a computer and she reactivated the lockdown," Sarge replies. "They ran into some resistance, but he had the BFG with him and that took care of that. They're a little banged up, but if she's right about how the infection spreads, they're both still safe."
"The civilians in the storeroom?" Reaper can't help but ask, tensing slightly as he remembers the argument that had led them into that catastrophic ambush to begin with. It had taken 45 minutes for Stahl's transformation to take effect on the downloaded video he, Sam, and Sarge had all watched; the C24 had probably taken at least that long to repair John's near-fatal injury and bring him back to consciousness. Sarge could easily have left him there and returned just in time for him to wake.
"Duke made sure they were still locked in," Sarge says, a dark, rueful twist to his mouth. "Only time I left was when those fucking zombies came for us again. I figure, since we've killed their original experiment, it's only right we leave UAC a few more warm bodies to play with."
"You know, your sense of humor leaves a little something to be desired," John replies, relaxing again.
More positive memory fragments, just tiny flashes from a long, hellish day, come back to him as he grins lopsidedly up into Sarge's face: the concern in Sarge's voice that morning as he'd warned him they'd been ordered up to Olduvai, the banter in the chopper, the concerned question when they'd visited the archaeological dig. Older memories, too: the sound of the laughter that no one else in the unit could coax out of him, Sarge's careful, steady hands sewing him up the last time he'd been injured in the field, random moments of pure physical appreciation when one or the other of them had come back from a workout or a shower, the quiet moments when all the others had gone out on leave and they'd spent the time alone together in drink, weapons maintenance, and conversation.
"Wasn't aware it was my sense of humor you desired," Sarge growls in reply, as his smirk shifts into an outright leer. The hand ruffling the hair on the back of Reaper's neck has stilled, but the other, resting somewhere on John's chest, is now moving, almost petting him as he lays sprawled out as if for Sarge's personal approval.
And that's enough of that, John decides suddenly, gathering his legs under him and surging up from the floor. He snags the front of Sarge's vest as he leaps to his feet, then pushes the man up against a wall as soon as they're vertical. John's muscles respond beautifully, far stronger than they'd been just an hour before.
Sarge struggles a little, pushing against John's shoulders as they came to a halt; John refuses to budge, grinning darkly as it becomes clear just who is the dominant one between them now. They can still call the whole thing off, call this a misunderstanding-- but no. Sarge's eyes dilate suddenly, his breath coming quicker, and Reaper can feel something pressing against his thigh through all the layers between them.
John kisses him then, a fierce kiss that's almost a bite. Sarge growls back into his mouth, shoving at him again, then laughs as John deliberately drops his face to Sarge's neck and licks the strip of skin he'd gripped earlier. Sarge grabs the back of his neck again, then shifts his weight until they stagger away from the wall, pressing Reaper's back against the sink on the other side of the room.
They spend another minute in pulse-pounding, pleasurable grappling, until the radio crackles again: Duke reporting that he's got Sam to the elevator, where they'll be waiting for Sarge and Reaper to join them. John pulls back, grinning ruefully at his CO, and stoops down to pick up his weapon.
"Later," he says roughly, in a tone of voice filled with promise.
They've still got a job to do, but for the first time in years, he's whole-heartedly looking forward to what comes after.