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Shot XVIII: Clash

The burning comes as a surprise. Every part of him feels red and raw: his eyes, his nose, his throat. The only thing that doesn't burn are his teeth which chatter relentlessly in the chilly cold.

They say water gives life; well, this water is fighting to take his away. Waves pound and swirl around him, dragging him down into its murky depths, where the currents attempt to suffocate him. It's an unfair fight. When one force lets up, another rushes in to swallow him whole.

This is not pool water: clean, clear and chemically treated. This is nature's water. Water at its most elemental.

It's not clean; it's full of salt and sediment that stings his eyes and leaves a layer of film in his mouth when he finally breaks through the surface and gasps for air.

It's not peaceful. This water swirls around him, disorientating him. He loses his senses for a moment and has no idea which way the water is coming. He cannot tell which way holds air(life) and which way holds water(death).

He searches, but can't find the person he's seeking. Lanky Lassiter with his lovely, long limbs. Lassiter who's fearless in the face of bad guys with bullets, but is helpless in the throes of nature's fury, thrashed about like a child's abandoned bath toy.

The water bobs over his head, dousing him in the gritty water. He shakes the ocean from his eyes and looks over the horizon. He yells the others name, but is drowned out by the sound of crashing water and his own pounding heartbeat.

The water must take pity on him, because for a split second, he sees a foot. Then a leg. A long leg that Shawn would recognize anywhere—even here in the midst of the tempest.

He struggles against the water to reach the capsized man. Inches feel like miles and his strength fails him half-way to his destination. He has to stop and rest and by the time he paddles his way to where he last saw Lassiter, the other man is gone.

Tears (more water) borne of frustration, desperation and determination flood his eyes. The cleansing fluid eases some of the burn in his eyes for a moment and give him a moment of clarity.

"We'll die here." He stills at that, sinking slowly back into the blue gray-depths. "No no no no no no!" his mind repeats over and over. He will not die. He flails against the sheets of water that continue to overtake him. He will not die. Not here. Not alone and cold and in surrender of all this damnable water.

He kicks suddenly. Pathetically. And his foot hits something soft and solid. Without thinking, he goes under and pulls the heavy, torpid body up of his friend (more like his life) from the cold grasp of the undertow.

The face is pale and riddled with tiny cuts and bruises. He tries desperately to wake the other. He screams his name, splashes him in the face and presses frantic, icy lipped kisses all over the other's face.

He's efforts are useless.

He expends too much energy fighting to save a man whose already gone and feels his body giving up against the ever-present pull of the sea.

His cry is quiet and choked. He's too worn out to struggle; he's too tired for fear. He closes his eyes and releases his breath. He pulls the other close and finds comfort in the feel of the solid body against his. He's not too out of it to notice the beloved beat—which had lulled him to sleep countless nights before—has gone silent.

The water begins its assault anew: pounding, dragging, pulling, smothering. The battering isn't as bad now that he's not fighting it.

His awareness and control over his body slip through his fingers with the ease of wind. Still, his mind fights to keep his grip on consciousness. But as the depths get darker and his head feels lighter, he clasps the hand of the man next to him and then ...

He let's go.

A/N: I wrote this in about an hour while listening to what must be the most inappropriate death-fic writing music ever. In all honesty, I have no idea where this came from. It just sort of popped into my head and demanded to be written. I'm terrified, not so much of drowning, but of finding myself in a situation in which there is no way out or no way to survive. It can be drowning, trapped in a fire, buried alive, falling in mid-air, whatever. The element doesn't matter. I just find the idea of being surrounded by it and being unable to escape it horrific. =(

I feel like I've been ignoring this series. I've been busy with fic prompts (wedding!fic, kink meme) that are multi-chaptered or still on the back burner, so this story gets ignored. I'll try and pay it more attention. One-shots and drabbles are the love of my life. And I love seeing how my writing's progressed from the very first chapter (which, I'd like to point out, was also my very first Psych story ever!).