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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Chaos fic: Still Breathing 1/1

July 29th, 2011 (08:27 am)
Tags: ,

Title:  Still Breathing

Disclaimer:  Not mine.

A/N:  eviinsanemonkey  asked for Michael whump based on the lyrics from “Ride Forever” (included below).  I’m not sure how well this goes off the lyrics, but hopefully it still works :)  Unbeta’ed.

Summary:  But Michael’s alone, lost in the desert with no phone, no backup.  No anything.  He’s probably going to die out here, and no one will ever find him.

-o-


I'm still breathing
and I still have my pride
I have my memories
your life it never dies



-o-


The sky above him is blue, scattered with white puffy clouds that float idyllically across the expanse.  Looking up, he thinks how he can see for miles, how it’s all there, so close and so far away.

It’s beautiful, of course.  Picturesque and vibrant.  He takes a breath and reminds himself that he’s still alive; he’s still breathing.

But these things don’t matter.  The sky is blue, the expanse is vast, Michael is breathing, and none of it changes the reality.

Because he can see the sky, he can touch the expanse, he can force his lungs to breathe, but it’s just the illusion of what can be.  It’s nice to think that the sky is beautiful and that the world is his to grasp.  It’s nice to pretend like he can survive this, just like he can survive everything else.

But Michael’s alone, lost in the desert with no phone, no backup.  No anything.  He’s probably going to die out here, and no one will ever find him.

Probably.

Still, for the blue sky, Michael takes a step and starts walking.

-o-

Using the sun, it’s easy to determine the direction he’s going.  However, considering that he was brought out here unconscious, he doesn’t have a point of reference to head back toward.  Still, he heads north and pins his hopes on the idea that he has to hit civilization sometime.

If not, the ocean.

If not, then it doesn’t matter anyway.

-o-

The sun is hot and Michael’s skin starts to crawl.  The bruises on his face feel shrunken with the heat and it’s hard to tell if the ache in his ribs is from the beating he took or the beginnings of heat exhaustion.

In the end, it doesn’t matter.

Michael forces his legs, one foot after another, and pushes onward.

-o-

He marks time by the sun.  He notes when it hits noon and plows ahead.  He sees when afternoon dwindles and doesn’t stop.  He sees the fall of night and just keeps going.

Sleep is likely to kill him at this point.  If he lets his body give in a little, he’s not sure it won’t give in completely.  So his feet keep moving, a trail of lonely footprints disappearing to dust in his wake.

-o-

In the darkness, Michael’s mind gets hazy.  It’s hard to make out anything in the bleakness.  Nothingness is nothingness is nothingness and Michael starts to wonder if he’s still alive after all.

He takes a ragged breath just to remind himself he is.

He lets it out and wonders if it matters.

-o-

When dawn breaks, so does Michael.  His legs give out and he falls to the sand.  The hot grit is a strange feeling and Michael looks up again.  The sky is lighting in a myriad of colors, vibrant and real, and Michael takes a heaving breath.

He wonders where his team is.  If they’re on a plane back to the States.  If they’ve figured out where he is.  If they’ll be able to track him.

He wonders if Fay is worried.  If Higgins cares.  If there’s room for another star on the wall.

He wonders if they’d blame him.  If they’d called him a coward for giving in.  If they’d care at all.

But he doesn’t have to wonder.  He knows.  He knows all the answers already.

And Michael gets to his feet and walks again.

-o-

The sky is blue and it stretches forever.  So far, Michael thinks he should be able to touch it.

He can’t.

He takes desperate breaths, feeling the pain in his stomach spread until his hands are numb.  This is the beginning of the end, he thinks, but reconsiders it quickly.  It’s probably been ending for a while now--well before this mission started--and he’s just never allowed himself to admit it until now.

-o-

Michael doesn’t remember falling.  He just feels the hot sand pressing against his face.

He blinks and sees the sky.

He takes a breath and feels the heat in his lungs.

And he remembers marrying Fay.  He remembers losing Simms.  He remembers recruiting Billy.  He remembers meeting Casey.  He remembers Rick’s first mission.

He remembers.

He remembers.

-o-

Michael remembers and he breathes and the sky darkens while the expanse shatters.

Dying isn’t the end, he thinks.  Dying is never the end.

-o-

It’s not the next breath, but it’s the next one that matters.  Cold, moist air filling his lungs.  His body still aches, but it’s different now.  Less.

He opens his eyes.  There’s no sky.  The ceiling has beige drop panels filled with holes.

“And the hero awakes,” Billy drawls, and his exuberance is tinted with relief.

“About damn time,” Casey mutters, but it’s just to hide his fear.

Michael turns his head and sees his team seated in chairs.  Billy is beaming; Casey is scowling.  Rick just looks exhausted, almost as bad as Michael feels.

“How do you feel?” Rick asks.

Michael takes another breath and considers the question.  He considers the dull ache that’s buzzing but fading.  He considers the memory of the desert and the thoughts of dying.

“Not bad,” he admits.

“Not bad,” Billy says, grin widening.  “So says the man who spent nearly two days alone in the desert with not a lick of water or a shred of direction to aid him.”

“It is an impressive feat,” Casey concedes.

Rick’s the only one who can’t quite couch his worry.  “We nearly didn’t find you in time.”

Michael smiles at them all and nods his head.  “But you did,” he says, rolling his head back toward the ceiling and closing his eyes just for a second while he remembers and purposefully forgets.  “You did.”

Comments

Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 01:42 pm (UTC)
Vin with rifle

Beautiful. I missed you guys while LJ was down! I'm glad you're back with such wonderful fic - and Michael-centric. Fantastic imagery. And great characterization. Thanks for writing!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
chaos team moves

It feels so good to have LJ back. I was in serious withdrawal without it!

And I figured you'd like this one for Michael's sake :) Thanks!

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 02:11 pm (UTC)

This is so, so beautiful.
You capture Michael so perfectly here, and the way his mind works through his situation, and the writing is gorgeous and the characterization of everyone is perfect (and I especially love Rick's line at the end "We nearly didn't find you in time" because everyone's thinking it but Rick's the one who'd say it and it's so perfect).

Thank you!

(you're up!)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
billy earnest

I'm so glad you liked it! Though I need to find new places for peril because I keep using the desert!

(The team; improvisation)

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: July 31st, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)

Well, there's always the rainforest. the arctic. outer space...

(here you go!)

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 03:30 pm (UTC)
Billy yay

Lovely writing and gorgeous imagery.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
billy watches

Thank you :)

Posted by: altpointofview (altpointofview)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
earnest billy chaos

I am so supposed to be sleeping but I remembered reading this random email during my lunch break at 3 am & thought must see if promised fic is posted. It is/was... *squee*

You know how much I love you to write EPICS!!!! But I have to say you have this ficlet thing nailed! Wish I could express so much in so few words.

((But he doesn’t have to wonder. He knows. He knows all the answers already.
And Michael gets to his feet and walks again.)) *SIGH*

If LJ will just stay behaved so I can get more fics and pics I will be a very happy camper (even if I am freaking working the entire weekend). ;)

Now stop reading all the lovely peoples lovely comments on another one of your brilliant fics. Just glance back up at that small paragraph above... you know the one that mentions EPICS... and start writing little missy. ;)

Edited at 2011-07-29 05:02 pm (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
billy approves

LOL, I love you reading fic at 3 AM :)

And epics just take so much effort! I do have some stuff in the works, though nothing epic epic. In this fandom, I seem to be topping off around 20K.

Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
Chaosketeers

I could feel the heat and Michael's angst. Beautiful.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2011 12:40 pm (UTC)
chaos team 2

Thank you :)

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