Title: Lights Out
Pairing: non, gen, friendship fic
Words: 16,000+ words, complete
Summary: The county drops into a blackout but when needed, Station 51 can still find each other.
Author's Note: Four days of blackout, no computer, just a notebook and pen so of course, now, my muse wanted to write! (groan)
He was burning alive.
There was a fire deep in his gut, simmering, roiling, like ripples of heat that churned before licking a trail along his right side, clinging stubbornly to his side like an oil slick. An ignited oil slick.
It was hard to breathe. Why was it hard to breathe? Was there smoke? His paralyzed lungs seem to agree yet his nose did not.
With a groan (whimper), John Gage lifted his head. Or tried. As soon as he attempted to move his head, a warm hand slipped over his forehead, weighing him down. Just as well. When he'd tried to move, the fire wrapped around his lower abdomen flared up as sudden as a flash. And there was a real scary moment when he couldn't breathe.
"Ouch." John wanted to throw up.
"Easy. Keep still while I check you out."
There was something soothing and familiar about the calm words that accompanied the hand's sure touches as it swept to the back of his head, down his neck and over his shoulders.
It wasn't soothing anymore when they reached his ribcage.
John screamed. Maybe. His head throbbed. Blood pounded in his ears. But he was pretty sure he must have shouted because the hand jerked back and then returned to settle on his chest to rub small circles. The vise around his lungs eased and the white out in his vision receded.
A name feebly attached to the face stooped over him, pasty white under the glare of a flashlight.
"Yeah. You back with me?"
John grimaced when he realized his face was wet not with blood but something else. But he couldn't bring his hands up to wipe his face dry. Roy's hand was light on his chest but it might as well be a four by four. It felt like he'd need the power lift to get out from under it.
"Easy. Slow breaths. Try not to move so much."
It wasn't clear if the darkness around the edges of his sight was real or just a concussion creeping up on him. He could feel swelling at the back of his head. It throbbed every time he rolled his head and the tender skull touched something. When he swallowed though, there was no nausea, no double vision. Oh good. No concussion. Small favors.
John blinked once. Twice. And tried to remember how to get his mouth moving again. Oops. Maybe a mild concussion. Just a little one. "How long was I out?" he rasped.
"…Not sure." Roy looked like one of those late, late show monsters: hair in crazy directions, frowning, unblinking eyes, tight-lipped under a beam of light and stooped over him. Hold on.
John tentatively stretched towards the dashboard where the flashlight was propped haphazardly with his left arm. It hurt too much to move his right.
The flashlight was lying on its side, butted up against a helmet that was jammed in tight between the dashboard and the cracked windshield.
Everything was lopsided, even Roy, whom he now realized stood half hunched, scrunched up in-between his knees, one leg bent and braced on the seat against John's left hip, one hand gripping his right shoulder to keep him from leaning into the inferno still licking flames on his side.
John blinked hard.
"Are we upside down?"
"Not quite." Roy patted around John's shoulders, inspecting the raised arm before he pulled John's hand down, pinning it between one hand and two fingers. "The squad must have rolled over and landed kind of on your side." He paused.
"What do you remember?"
John furrowed his brow but the answer came pretty quick after a glance around them revealed nothing but dark.
"The blackout." John scowled. "Three houses using candles in their windows." Boy, it took forever to explain to those folks why it was dangerous to do that. Doors slammed shut in their faces during their patrol, driving around all night along with the police to provide the streets light from their sirens.
"And?" Roy prompted. "How did we get here?"
John's frown deepened. "We just finished going through Willow Lane. Thought we'd better go up Glen Canyon first."
There had been a flash of red and blue out of the corner of his eye, a pair of deep throated engine roars, before two cars zipped past their squad.
"Cars. Mustangs I think."
Roy had wrenched the wheel to the right, John's stomach dropped when he felt the tire underneath him slip off the embankment they knew was there but couldn't see. John threw out his left arm across Roy's chest when the squad lurched and Roy nearly hit the roof despite his seat belt.
And then John felt the squad began to roll.
"Drag racers cut us off." What a stupid thing to do. LA County was choking in the longest blackout in history. There weren't even any traffic lights. John rested his head back against the rear glass window; it felt cool. John wished he could press his cheek against it. His face felt sticky with sweat.
Roy lowered John's arm after he finished checking his pulse. "That sounds about right. Can you move your legs?"
"Uh uh. I'm stuck." John could feel the running board on his door, driven in like a nail and denting the door inward. The warped metal clamped down on his right thigh. He didn't feel any breaks when he flexed his knee. His foot was falling asleep though. Shoot.
John squinted at Roy; his partner leaned just outside of the flashlight's field. When he squinted, he could sort of make out Roy, his face cloaked with the flashlight shining partially on his back.
"I'm not the one with broken ribs."
John blinked. Broken ribs? Huh. "Right side?"
Roy looked pinched under the weak light. "Can't you tell?"
"Sort of," John admitted. "Kinda feels like it's all over." He tentatively looked down where Roy had drawn up his shirt. Sure enough, there was a purple-red splotch the size of Roy's hand spanning his seventh to tenth rib. John made a face at the minor swelling. Ugh. Not again. At least he didn't look and—more importantly—feel like he was getting cyanotic. Maybe just cracked ribs? Boy, he sure hoped so.
A palm settled flat on his diaphragm. John vaguely made out Roy, still staring at a point past his head, mouth moving as he counted to himself. John tried to follow but he lost count after twenty three.
John inhaled cautiously. He winced. "If I keep it shallow."
"How's your vision?" A fuzzy mass that was probably Roy's finger floated off to the side of him. "Can you see that?"
John's mouth quirked. "It is kinda dark here. And you cheated. You didn't put that finger in front of me." He relaxed when he heard Roy's huff.
"I can see you if that's what you mean." John scoffed—it's not fair how that hurts, too—and gestured behind Roy, at the cracked windshield. "Can't see much of anything else either." It was getting harder and harder to keep his arm up. "Maybe if I turn that floodlight towards—Oh." John sagged.
It hurt to make a face but John made it anyway. "Lamp's busted." Actually, it was crushed, mangled with the side mirror. It was creepy how dark everything was, even with their meager flashlight; a whole lot of black swirling and spreading…
With a jerk—big mistake, Gage—John nearly knocked heads with Roy, who nose to nose with him, was gripping him by the shoulders but not quite shaking him.
"Huh? Wha'?" Why was Roy yelling at him? John could feel his eyelids dragging down and he tensed. Oh no, not good.
"I think you drifted off for a moment there." Roy didn't let go of his shoulders.
"Sorry," managed John, "was thinking."
"Well, think out loud, all right?" Roy didn't quite snap but it was a near thing, enough so John stared.
"Yeah, s-sure. Sorry." John tried to continue but a wire-thin feeling in his chest rattled and he coughed to get it out and suddenly, he could feel that cough tearing its way up his esophageal airway.
John cried out. Then he knew nothing more.