Disclaimer: Pity the fool who thinks I own this!
A/n: Thanks to reviewer Wyld Yarrow, who reviewed my other Brothers Bloom story (The Day I Die), and set loose an ultra vicious plot bunny that hit me over the head and wouldn't leave me alone to sleep – today this spewed out. How I had literally never considered this idea until they mentioned it, I have no idea. This is technically a companion to The Day I Die (as evidenced by the title) but is more of a tag to the ending of the movie than anything (though it's just a shortie). Enjoy. :)
(Edit: Thanks to reviewers Kara and Kate for catching my mistake about Bang Bang!)
The Day He Didn't Die
He had lost a ton of blood, she could see that at once. He was barely conscious and his clothing completely soaked, his body slumped sideways in an awkward and painful looking way on the little chair. She approached him slowly, afraid she was too late, afraid that things had gone much more awry than they'd been expecting.
He was still Stephen, however, so as soon as his senses, sluggish and on the verge of shutting down completely, recognized her, the corners of his bloodied mouth curved upwards in a characteristic smirk.
"Well, well," he murmured croakily. "Heard you were dead."
She rolled her eyes at him and gestured at the pool of blood on the floor beneath him.
"Yeah, not yet," he said softly.
She sighed and proceeded to help him stand. She was surprisingly strong, but they still struggled to make it down the stage's steps and down the aisle. He was not exactly light, nor at this point able to walk terribly well, so most of his weight was on her. It was strangely comforting to be the one helping him, the one who'd been searching for him and finally found him.
She gently lowered him into the passenger's seat of a car he didn't recognize. She could tell he wanted to ask her where she'd gotten it but couldn't seem to muster the energy – she'd just lifted it, anyway, which she figured he could guess. She climbed in herself and they were speeding down the road at an insane speed only she could manage.
They'd come this far, she wasn't about to let it end here. She glanced at him frequently to ensure he hadn't died on her. Every time he seemed like he was almost gone and she urged the car to go faster.
At some point, she couldn't be sure when, his eyes shut and they didn't open again.
When he opened them, it was with a little shock of surprise. He'd been so sure he was...
She was sitting in the chair beside his bed, close to the window, nonchalantly smoking a cigarette. She flashed him a little smile when she noticed his eyes were open.
"How..." he began, not sure what he wanted to ask. He changed his mind and began again, "Did it work? Is he safe?"
A wave of relief washed over Stephen. The whole double-crossed-by-the-Russians bit had been the plan, except then the plan became real. He hadn't been counting on the possibility, exactly, but he wouldn't be Stephen Bloom if he hadn't come up with a sort of back-up plan to the back-up plan. This one involved Bloom getting away safely with Penelope at all costs, and himself and Bang-Bang hopefully reuniting at some point after the fact and disappearing. Sitting on that chair bleeding to death in the theater, he was pretty sure that the latter part of the plan wouldn't be happening since her car had gone up with her in it. But he'd convinced Bloom it was a con, convinced him to run, and his brother was finally free. Free to have the life he'd always wanted, and though Stephen lay back and could feel death closing in on him, it was okay, because he'd saved Bloom and given him everything he'd ever wanted.
And then his thoughts brought him back to the fact that he wasn't in fact dead in the theater, and Bang-Bang wasn't a pile of ashes in twisted metal. He took a few seconds to maneuver himself painfully into a sitting position and she watched him, silent as ever.
"How'd you find me?" he finally asked.
She shrugged and took a long puff on her cigarette, as if she'd just happened to be passing by when she'd discovered him bleeding to death.
He smirked. "Right."
She blew the smoke out the open window and then he realized she was trying not to look at him for some reason.
"Bang-Bang?" he whispered her name.
She bit her lip and lifted her tear-filled eyes to meet his. She shook her head slightly. "Don't ever... do that again." she whispered, and he realized it was only about the third or fourth time he'd ever heard her speak. He always managed to forget she was even capable of speech, having spent so much time with her and never hearing her voice.
He stared open-mouthed at her for a good few seconds and then belatedly recovered from being caught so off guard as she brushed her eyes dry and stamped out her cigarette.
"I thought you couldn't..." he stammered and trailed off.
She rolled her eyes at him.
He chuckled quietly as she lit up a new cigarette.
They sat in a comfortable silence for quite some time, Bang-Bang going through a few more cigarettes before she was apparently satisfied. He still wanted to ask her how exactly she'd survived the car bomb and subsequently found him, but she was Bang-Bang and he'd known her long enough to know that he knew nothing about her. On top of that, she always seemed to find everything easy, and possessed the ability to be able to disappear and reappear in the most subtle, frightening and perfect way. It didn't matter how she'd found him or how she survived, only that she had.
"Well, thanks." he eventually mumbled.
She saluted him with two fingers. You're welcome.
As he dozed off later that night, his thoughts were once again centered on his brother and the con that turned out to be quite the opposite. Bloom was free and was with Penelope. He, himself, wasn't dead at the hand of Diamond Dog and the other Russians (they'd pay for trying, though, he silently promised) and neither was Bang-Bang. His stitches were incredibly itchy and fairly painful, but it was a far cry better than the aching and horrible pain of the hole that'd previously been in their place.
This latest con had been a close call, and not only because things had twisted unexpectedly. It was a close call because emotions got in the way – his love for his brother and his brother's love for Penelope, namely, got in the way, and it almost cost him far more than he could afford. It made him pause and think about his life, about all his cons and games and plays and tricks. It made him think about Bloom's unwritten life, about his desire to be away from it all.
It made him think, sure. It didn't make him think he could or would stop the cons and the tricks, though. He was still Stephen and she was still Bang-Bang and this was their life. He heard her shift in the bed next to him and wondered if she was thinking along the same lines. He turned and could make out her features in the moonlight. She wasn't asleep and must have sensed his gaze, as she slowly opened her eyes to meet his.
Bang-Bang's lips curved into a wide smile which he couldn't help but match.
Yup, it wasn't over.
Besides, he still had some unused plays to make.
A/n: There may have been the barest hint of Bang-Bang/Stephen shippiness in there somewhere, but it was mostly supposed to be friendship/team -ness. And YAY Stephen lived! Officially how the movie secretly ended for me. ;) Thanks for reading! Reviews intensely appreciated.