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AOS fic: Between Heaven and Hell (1/1)

December 21st, 2015 (02:12 pm)
melancholy

feeling: melancholy

Title: Between Heaven and Hell

Disclaimer: I do not own Agents of SHIELD.

A/N: This is dedicated to sophie_deangirl. I know this was a rough year, so I hope 2016 is full of better times -- and fic!! Merry Christmas!

A/N 2: Fills my Purgatory square for hc_bingo. Set sometime after S2 (probably early S3). No beta.

Summary: When it comes to Bobbi, Lance has had heaven, and Lance has had hell.



-o-

Funny, Lance actually expects fire.

He’s not particularly religious, and he’s never put a lot of thought into whether or not he believes in an afterlife, but when the bullet comes hurtling toward his chest, all he can think is damn, this is going to burn.

And it does.

It’s like fire going in, ripping through his lung and shattering a rib. He can actually feel it, the splinters of bond lodging through his chest cavity. And the beat of his heart as it pumps blood that has nowhere to go.

He inhales, shocked.

Then, he’s on the ground, staring at the ceiling.

This is it, then.

This is it.

The fire spreads, burning through his chest and torso, simmering down his limbs and engulfing his head.

So when he closes his eyes, honest to whatever God you choose, he expects fire.

When he opens his eyes, though, it’s anything but.

If anything, it’s cold. The sky is dark and overcast, with somber clouds hanging low over the wind-swept moors. The land is unsettlingly vacant, dull green grass brushed with brown, and there’s nothing, as far as the eye can see, there’s nothing.

For a moment, Lance stands there, not sure what else to do. He should be bleeding to death, after all.

Then, it occurs to him.

He’s already bled to death.

And this is….

Hell?

He considers that, looking over the vast, empty land. He’s a mercenary, so he knows that torture isn’t all pulled fingernails and bleach over open wounds. Sometimes it’s psychological, and deeply so. Sometimes it’s about separating out the weakness and pressing it.

Sometimes it’s just isolation.

Knowing you’re alone in the world and that there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Lance knows a thing or two about that.

The air is cold in his lung, and his chest still aches. It’s desolate, maybe, but it’s not horrible. Lonely but not lost. No, Lance knows where he is, knows it like it’s a part of him. It’s his childhood, his special forces training. It’s the day he said I do and the day he signed the divorce papers. It’s working as a gun for hire before finding Phil Coulson in a bar and signing his soul away.

Heaven, then?

Not paradise, but a place for second chances? A chance to remember the good? A chance to make sense of the bad? That’s the greatest gift, and Hunter knows that, too. He knows that all anyone really wants is the chance to do better the second time around.

But the air is cold, and it settles into his bones. He can feel it, filling the hole in his chest where the bullet should be.

He looks down, fingering the bloodstained hole in his shirt.

Where his heart should be.

It thumps, a feeling the echoes through him. It reminds him how empty he is.

More than that, it reminds him that he’s not dead yet.

Gritting his teeth, he turns himself, looking with new purpose out at the horizon line. It’s starting to rain now, a distant sound of thunder rumbling in his chest. Everything looks the same in every direction; and he doesn’t know--

Hunter, please--

He squeezes his eyes shut, tries to listen.

Tell me, tell it to me.

It’s not an angel on his shoulder or a devil in his heart. No, that, that--

Don’t die out there, okay?

Is the only reason in the world to get the hell out of here.

Eyes open, he starts running. It’s impossible to tell what’s right or what’s wrong, but somehow, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that he’s not staying here.

The rain turns it a deluge, soaking Lance down to the bone. The grass turns to mud beneath his feet, and he trips a few times, falling face first into the sludge.

He doesn’t stop, though.

He doesn’t dare stop.

Heaven or hell, they’ve got nothing, after all.

Nothing that stands up against her.

He trips again, but when he tries to catch himself, the ground gives way. He’s tumbling, then, down a muddy slope. He hits rocks and branches on his way down, the constant churning leaving him disoriented. The incline doesn’t stop, doesn’t slow.

Down and down.

Lance is a little scared it’ll never stop.

Then again, he’s terrified it will.

It’s not his choice, in the end.

Never was.

Never will be.

Lance inhales.

Then everything goes dark.

-o-

Funny, Lance still expects fire.

He gets numbness instead.

Confused, he looks down but the blood stained shirt is gone. So is the warehouse and the dingy ceiling. Instead, he’s wearing a hospital gown, and he’s pretty sure all the machines aren’t just for show.

This, he decides, is probably a good thing.

He’s not dead, after all.

He grimaces, trying to move and finding his whole body heavy. His limbs feel weighted, and his head feels fuzzy. But it’s the dullness in his chest that gives it away: he’s on some very strong drugs.

There will be fire later, no doubt.

He manages to turn his head, just a little.

Just enough.

Bobbi is there, her blonde head laying on the bed next to him. She’s hunched over in a way that looks uncomfortable, in a way that tells Lance she’s been there for a while.

This, of course, means that he’s badly hurt.

It also means that Bobbi never left his side.

Not hell, then.

Definitely heaven.

She stirs then, making a small of discontent as she shifts. For a moment, he worries she’s just going to go back to sleep, and he’s not sure he has the energy or the wherewithal to stop her. But she lifts her head, blinking drowsily as if to check on him before her eyes widen.

“Hunter!” she says, voice pitching more than she probably intends. She fumbles, scooting forward and taking his hand in hers. “You’re awake!”

He manages a small, thin smile. Swallowing is a monumental effort, but she’s worth it. “Seems so,” he croaks.

He must sound horrible because her face creases with worry. “You’ve been unconscious for a day or so,” she says. “Lots of damage to your chest--”

Lance winces, shaking his head. “Gah, Bob,” he moans. “I don’t think I want to know.”

“Well, you need to know,” she says. “You almost died. There was so much blood, and I--”

She falters, face almost breaking.

“And I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she admits, softer now.

“Hey,” he croons. “I think I know the feeling.”

Her mouth lifts up, just enough to make a smile. “I suppose I was worried about nothing,” she says jokingly.

Lance feigns hurt. “How’s that?”

Bobbi shrugs diffidently. “Well, if you die, it’s either heaven or hell, right?” she asks.

He brings his brows together, uncertain.

“I’ll win, every time,” she says. “Because heaven and hell? They don’t want you.”

Drugged and weak as he is, he still manages a respectable scowl. “I wasn’t this mean to you when you took a bullet.”

“Hey, I am being nice,” Bobbi protests.

“By getting your shots in while I’m still too drugged up to remember them later?” he rasps.

“By letting you know that heaven and hell can quibble over you all they want,” she says. “Because they’re no match for me. And I? I want you more.

That’s the dream, then. See, when it comes to Bobbi, Lance has had heaven, and Lance has had hell. And what they have now, it’s somewhere in between, somewhere undefined and hard to pinpoint. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in Purgatory, but the only thing they need to make it through is one another.

That’s the dream.

Fire and rain.

Love and hate.

The things they won’t let go of again.

Still, Lance pouts. “That’s still not very nice.”

Bobbi opens her mouth in incredulity. “If that’s not nice, then what is it?”

Things are going to hurt later, and recovery is going to be a bear. But for now, Lance has what he needs.

He smiles. “Amazing,” he tells her. “It’s amazing.”

Her face brightens. “You may be right about that,” she says, squeezing his fingers as she leans forward and kiss him.

Lance kisses back and feels himself start to smile.

As far as he’s concerned, heaven and hell can wait.

Purgatory doesn’t seem so bad for right now.

Comments

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2015 06:49 pm (UTC)
Enjoyed this!

Thanks so very much for this lovely little fic! I really enjoyed the requisite suffering that you know how much I love and Hunter and Bobbi are a fave couple now that Ward and Skye/Daisy are pretty much done. I appreciate the time it took to write it and that you thought of me when you did.

Thanks for this gift!

Fave parts:

The air is cold in his lung, and his chest still aches. It’s desolate, maybe, but it’s not horrible. Lonely but not lost. No, Lance knows where he is, knows it like it’s a part of him. It’s his childhood, his special forces training. It’s the day he said I do and the day he signed the divorce papers. It’s working as a gun for hire before finding Phil Coulson in a bar and signing his soul away.

-- I enjoyed the comparisons.

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