Someone posted a horrible prompt on Tumblr expressing that all of Season 11 of RvB was just in Wash's head, and that in reality he was drugged in prison.
So I wrote it.
It made folks cry on Tumblr, so I figure that's worth a cross-post. Enjoy!
Even His Escape Is Torment
Characters: All of them. But mostly Agent Washington & Private First Class Tucker.
Warning: Spoilers for Season 11
Summary: The jungle and the valley are all in Wash's head.
Agent Washington was the threat.
That's what the UNSC prison staff had decided. He was the Freelancer. The dangerous one with all the training. So out of all the Blood Gulch crew that had been contained and shackled, he was the only one pumped so full of tranquilizers and other drugs that he couldn't see straight. However, he managed to stay awake through it, somehow. His eyes open and glazed. He was a functioning vegetable, mumbling constantly to himself.
Sarge had commented that it would have been kinder to shoot the poor man in the head and let it be. Every couple of days after listening to the drama that was unfolding in Wash's head, Tucker agreed.
Not that Wash had been in much better a state after the initial arrest before the drug cocktail. Tucker hadn't realized Wash had already been to a UNSC prison when they were running around with Carolina. Wash had earned the first tranquilizer by taking down four guards in a panicked frenzy to get away while simultaneously trying to free the Blood Gulch crew. He broke down screaming when his body slowed from the drug and he dropped his rifle. Then they shot him again in the neck with a second needle to be safe.
When Washington fell, everyone else wisely put their weapons on the ground, and put their hands up.
Their only reprieve, was that the Reds and Blues shared a cell block in the UNSC Prison Facility. Tucker and Wash shared a small cell about eight by six feet. Across the hallway, Sarge and Caboose resided. Grif and Simmons were to Tucker and Wash's right. They were their own little corner at the end of the row, split off from the rest of general population by four or five empty cells. Stripped of their armor, the group was still considered dangerous enough to be chained to the wall at all times with a loose chain. They never left their cells. There was no 'outside time,' and meals were brought to them with Wash's daily dose of pills.
"Suspicious behavior," Wash mumbled, his head flopped to the side as his body tried to fight the debilitating drugs. "Stupid Freckles."
Freckles was the new guy, Tucker had figured out. The group of them listened to Wash's ramblings day in and day out, and had gathered he was living a different reality out in his head. Some alternate scenario to escape his drugged up state of mind: Tucker was his second, and Caboose missed Church. The Reds were part of the team now, but still lived on the other side of the jungle. Wash's fake Simmons had joined Blue Team at some point, which scandalized Sarge and Simmons alike in the real world.
Even Doc and Donut had shown up in the poor ex-Freelancer's head. It was almost depressing how Wash had gathered all of his new friends and companions in his head to keep him company, when their real counterparts were sitting right next to him in reality.
But he couldn't see them through the haze.
"Mr. Freckles sounds nice," Caboose said, swinging his feet back and forth on his bed. Sarge was underneath, spread out on the bottom bunk. "I miss Church, but I'm glad Wash gave me a new friend."
"Don't talk about Church," Tucker hissed. He tossed a wad of paper at his teammate through the bars. "No one wants to hear about that bastard."
Caboose recoiled, pulling his feet up on the mattress. "Sorry."
The words "Carolina," "Church," and "Epsilon" were taboo. No one wanted to bring up those two because frankly, everyone had the same thought concerning them: Where the ever living hell were they!? Tucker tightened his hand into a fist and breathed heavily as Wash continued to mumble, barely sitting up right on his bed. Carolina and Church had abandoned them. It'd been near a month now—so where was the rescue? Carolina could easily break the group out.
She owed it to Wash.
But they hadn't showed. No one was coming to save the Reds and Blues from this UNSC prison.
"No," Wash said, his chest moving faster with an increased heart rate. He gripped the sheets, and his breath hiccuped. Tucker jerked his head over to see the man start to thrash as if he were having a nightmare. That was new. Wash grunted. "No, just a pilot. Don't do…don't do it."
Tears formed around the corner of Wash's eyes and his fingers twitched into the fabric. Tucker threw his head at the clock. It was almost time for his next dosage: The drug was wearing off, but he was still trapped in his head.
"NO!" Wash screamed, lurching forward. He toppled off the bunk, and Tucker scrambled to his side. Sarge was off his bed and at the cell door, while Caboose huddled in the corner of his bed, biting his thumb. Grif watched, paying attention but not moving. Simmons gripped the bars, wishing he could get over to help. Wash thrashed, tears streaming down his face. "No, no, no! He was there to rescue us! Why'd you shoot him!? WHY!?"
"Wash!" Tucker yelled, grabbing both of the man's shoulders. He shook him hard, watching his head flop. "No one's been shot. Look at me! Look at me right now!"
Wash's body froze, and his eyes narrowed in on Tucker's. He gulped breaths, his body still uncooperative from the draining drug. But Tucker saw it—the recognition. It was there. The slightest glimmer, and Tucker dared to hope.
"Tucker?" Wash asked.
"Yes, it's Tucker," the aqua soldier answered. He grabbed Wash's face with his hands and held it steady. "I'm right here. Focus."
"Caboose had you…fixing the radio…tower?" Wash asked, his breath picking up. The confusion in his voice was agonizing to hear.
"No, no. No radio tower. There's just me, Wash. Tucker." The soldier kept his voice steady, as everyone watched. "You're here with me."
Wash's eyes held Tucker's for a few moments, before they darted to the right. He saw Caboose leaning over the edge of his bunk, eyes wide and eyes teary. Wash whispered, "Caboose?"
"Agent Washington!" Caboose said, leaping toward the edge of the bed. He leaned over the side and waved his hand back and forth. "Can you see me?"
Wash nodded, shaking violently under Tucker's hands. He pulled back and away, slamming his back into the bottom bunk. His head jerked around the room, eyes seeing his surrounding for the first time since he'd been tossed on the bunk like a rag doll. "Where…where are we?"
"If I say UNSC jail, are you going to freak out?" Tucker asked with his hands raised. "Because that would be bad."
"Jail? No, no. We were in the jungle. The ship crashed! It crashed and everyone died and you made a bad joke about it," Wash said, his voice picking up. He pulled his legs in and grabbed at his hair. "We were trying to fix the tower to get help."
"That was just a dream, Wash," Tucker said slowly. "You were asleep for a long time, but you're awake now. So stay with me, okay? Caboose and Sarge and everyone were waiting for for you to wake up."
"They were?" Wash asked. The hopeful tone in his voice stabbed Tucker in the gut. He was going to murder Carolina himself is she ever showed her face again for leaving them all to this. "Really?"
"Really," Tucker said. "Right guys?"
"Good to have you back, Soldier," Sarge said. His voice was chipper, but his eyes were heavy. He leaned on the bars, and looked at Wash like he was a lost little child. A grandfatherly nature took over the hardened soldier's exterior. He said softly, "Blue Team's not the same without you."
"Now that you're awake, maybe Caboose and Tucker'll stop acting like babies," Grif said, grumbling softly.
"GRIF!" Simmons shouted, smacking his cell mate in the arm. "Don't listen to him, Wash. He's an immature child who can't admit he missed you. It's really good to see you awake, sir."
"All of you calm down!" A guard shouted, making his way down the row. He smacked his nightstick along the bars as he walked, dragging a tray behind him. Dinner. "Sleeping beauty's got his pills to take, so stop riling him up."
"No," Tucker said. He leapt toward the bars and grabbed them. "Please! This is the first time he's been conscious since you dragged him in here. He'l behave! He doesn't need those things. Don't do this to him again. It's cruel."
"Back away from the bars," The UNSC Soldier said. He slammed his nightstick into them, rattling the cell bars, and making Wash jump. "Or not only is he taking those pills, but I'll drag him down to solitary and leave him there. Is that what you want?"
Tucker gripped the bars, grinding his teeth together so hard he swore he heard one crack. Wash on drugs in solitary was a death sentence. Tucker backed up from the bars, his stomach caught in his throat. "No, sir."
The dazed Wash was handed a cup with two little white pills, and forced to swallow. They chased it down with a lukewarm cup of water, and the grimy guard shoved his fingers in Wash's mouth to check and make sure the pill had gone down. Satisfied, they tossed the two lunch trays on the ground and left.
Tucker reached down and picked up a spoon. He'd have to help Wash. Like always. Tucker dug up a mouthful of applesauce on the utensil and collapsed next to Wash. Routine had murdered their moment of joy. "Hey, buddy. Time to eat."
Everyone ate in silence as the light in Wash's eyes faded into nothing over the course of dinner.
Empty trays were shoved under the bars and into the hallway, as Wash began mumbling again about his little jungle hideaway. Only now, there was something darker there. A new haunting that tormented him, even in his escape.
The Blood Gulch crew vowed that day that someone would be sorry for this. If it killed them all, someone would be sorry.