N/A: This is a story written as a response to a Deb Drake's prompt on LJ's Macabre March Madness.
The prompt is: Hawke and Archangel survive a helicopter crash in the wilderness and must rely on each other to survive. That's the least of their problems - the real problem is that someone (or something) is hunting them.
This is not my normal genre and it's completely unrelated to any story lines I've posted, past, present or future.
For those who are still interested, I am still working on 'The Devil You Know' but it's longer and more complex than this, so this was just sheer fun and a thank you to Deb, who is my beta reader and who nags me to keep writing.
I don't like the story title that much either but it does tie to a key element. I almost named it "Be careful what you ask for" since this didn't go in a direction that Deb had anticipated.
At least that's what he thought he'd said, but what he heard sounded something a lot more like "Ergfh…"
"As articulate as always," answered a familiar and distant voice. "Welcome back to the land of the living, Hawke. I was beginning to think you were going to make me do all of this myself."
Hawke raised his eyelids to half-mast, let them dip and then slowly cranked them until they were fully open. The light seemed sideways somehow, for which he was grateful because it was overly bright: sunlight was glinting off a sea of glass in which he seemed to be sitting and reflecting off the main rotor blade resting across the nose of the helicopter, just in front of where the windshield used to be.
He blinked again and ran horrified eyes over the entirety of the blade, which was not only in the wrong damn place, it was a good deal shorter than it should be. One tip disappeared somewhere off and down to his right; a jagged edge to his left rested only a few feet in the air above the cockpit.
He lifted a hand, wiped his mouth and it came away bloody. His eyes slipped out of focus for a brief second and he watched his hand wipe itself on the thigh of his jeans, as if the hand was making decisions entirely on its own. Head full of static, he moved it slowly and very carefully as he glanced around the interior of cockpit, across instrument panels that were cracked and in some cases, slightly scorched, wiring hanging loosely like Christmas garland draped across the pilot and co-pilot's seat….
He squinted at the empty co-pilot's seat.
"How's your head?" said a voice directly behind him.
He turned to his right, far too quickly according to the sharp pain in his neck and the sudden sway inside his head.
"We crashed," Briggs said, leaning forward to peer closely at Hawke's face though the open hatch to the right. "Hmmm. Your pupils don't look unequal but your eyes are not focusing properly."
Hawke could have told him that.
The rest of his body was starting to report, slow waves of dull aches that sharpened as he moved a leg, a foot, an arm or his shoulders.
"I'm not entirely sure but I wouldn't move your…."
Hawke startled himself when he screamed.
"…right ankle," Briggs said, sucking in an audible wince. "I think that one's broken."
There was now even more blood on his lip from where he'd bitten it but as he rode out the pulses of agony, he managed to notice that there was something not right about Briggs. Hawke struggled to get his eyes to focus jointly, trying to figure out what was wrong.
"Alive and grateful for it. I didn't think we'd get down in one piece."
The hatch protested with a loud creak as Briggs pulled it fully open so that he could lean in and run a hand over Hawke's ankle. Bracing himself against the expected pain, Hawke was grateful for Briggs' light touch.
"It's pretty swollen. Your boot is stabilizing it fairly well but I think it's too tight and could cut off circulation." Briggs' head was level with Hawke's knee and he glanced back up at Hawke, frowning. "I'm going to loosen the laces a bit, so you might want to grab hold of something."
Hawke instinctively reached for the cyclic, sighing at it came away in his hand.
"Broken." Briggs grimaced. "This may hurt a bit…."
The pain was sudden but mercifully brief as all he saw was black.