Disclaimer: CoD Modern Warfare does not belong to me. I acknowledge the rights of its original creators and wish to impress upon them that this work of fiction is a homage at best. No offence is intended to them, the readers or anyone else.
First Call of Duty story that has made it up here - first story in a while.
Standard practice of read and review if you like it, if you don't - feel free to wander off. This was a product of coffee and intense boredom, not a shot at writing perfection.
The former SAS Captain raised his gaze from his intense examination of a couple of grainy surveillance photographs resting in his lap. Nikolai had presented them to him, claiming they were a product of much effort on the Loyalist's part. He had hoped they could be of some use.
As of yet, Price was still trying to figure out exactly what the greyscale blur was meant to be.
But the low rumble of a Scottish burr was far more important.
"Finally awake, eh?" he chided, softly, "Might have to shot you back to the Regiment for a reminder of appropriate rising times."
Eyes open to mere slits, it was clear the jest sailed clean over Soap's head from the non-reaction. Not that Price took it to heart; the lad had after all taken a good kicking from Shepherd.
That was even before taking into account the cocktail of drugs flooding his veins to keep him from noticing the great sodding knife wound in the middle of his chest.
The doctors had given him fair warning that he would be a little foggy when he woke. If Price were asked, he would say he was closer to catatonic than foggy.
The marksman blinked slowly, observing his fellow fugitive from behind dulled, glassy eyes - the gears of a usually sharp mind, grinding laboriously through the warm daze of narcotics.
The urge to sigh dismissively gripped Price for a long moment, holding Soap's gaze with a terse frown.
Did the man have an off switch? Even buried beneath layers of chemical blankets, he still had the presence of mind to cling to the mission? It was the same bloody side of him that prompted the reckless gamble of pulling the knife from his chest to hurl at Shepherd.
There was something to be said for MacTavish's vigilance.
Gaze flickering briefly toward the table at his side, and the sheaf of papers gathered there - he considered informing Soap of President Vorshevsky's disappearance on the way to a peace summit in Hamburg. Of filling him in on the endless whisperings amongst the Loyalist sources of Sierra Leone and the dog of a man that shifted through the ether of the current crisis like a malevolent spectre.
Soap had been down three days thus far and already almost everything he had known about the state of affairs beforehand was now horribly outdated. The situation was developing from one minute to the next.
Like the world was hurtling along at such a clip, driving headlong into the unknown - blissfully unaware that there was very little between them and a freefall into absolute chaos. Something big was edging closer from the far edge of the horizon - threatening to shatter that illusion of security, and Price was willing to bet the lives of every good man he had ever known that it was Makarov who was holding the reigns.
But to utter a single syllable of all that the grizzled soldier had heard over the past seventy-two hours would need to the circumstance at its back to adequately explain it.
It would worry Soap - disturb him, when what he need above all else, was rest.
If he even remembered any of it when he next woke.
Setting the puzzling images aside, Price immersed himself in nonchalance.
"Nothing solid. Just rumours."
Even as doped as he was, a flicker of discomfort coloured MacTavish's features for a moment as he swelled with an inhalation - disturbing the patchwork of stitches buried within his chest.
"If he comes up...for air..have t'move quick" he blinked heavily again. "Might lose 'im"
Price nodded sagely.
"I'm well aware. But he's a ghost at the moment. If that changes, you'll be the first to know."
A white lie - one that the invalid could brood over later.
If anything came through, Soap would be left in the dark until the Price and the doctors were satisfied that he was well on the way to recovery. A few weeks at the most, by which time the world might well be unrecognisable to the both of them.
The patient bobbed his head in agreement as best he could, eyelids beginning to droop as unconsciousness beckoned once more.
He mumbled something unintelligible as the subtle beeping of the monitors seemed to advance. Measuring each and every muscles twitch from their charge with meticulous care.
A quick glance over the neon readouts gave Price no cause for concern. Everything was off kilter, gravitating a few points beyond normal range. Most had improved since first settling him into this particular bed, but not by a large margin. If he were in a civilian hospital, he would have been considered critical...
But he was responsive.
Which was more than most anyone could have hoped for, if his condition upon arrival had stood for anything.
It gave the ex- SAS operative some measure of comfort to know that as bad as the state of his body was, Soap's mind was still kicking.
For a long while, Price was content to let the world spin on toward its cataclysm without his scrutiny, satisfied to simply watch his closest remaining friend rest - relatively at ease after such suffering.
The fiasco of Northern India would cling to him for a life time, the wet rattle of his breathing as they raced through endless corridors, the warmth of his blood pulsing against his palm as he held the meagre dressing over the wound...
It would haunt him, he knew - but Price would keep this memory just as close, secure in the knowledge that Soap was still with him, and would continue to fight like a Kilkenny cat until either they reached their end, whatever that may be.
It brought a faded smile to his features, one that would linger long after he returned to his examination of the surveillance photographs.