?

Log in

No account? Create an account
do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Baywatch fic: Last Resorts

December 24th, 2018 (11:28 am)
Tags: ,

Title: Last Resorts

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: Fills my allergic reaction square for hc_bingo. No beta. Questionable medical descriptions.

Summary: All his years of swimming, he’s never met anything like a jellyfish before.



-o-

So, like, Brody has been swimming a lot. Like, he’s a swimmer. It’s his job. He grew up swimming; it was his only recreational pastime, and it’s, like, literally the only thing he’s ever been any good at.

As a foster kid, he’s learned not to be picky. He swims wherever and whenever he can. Sure, a pool in the backyard is pretty nice except when it needs to be cleaned and no one’s bothered to clean it. But, you know, it’s still water and Brody learns to hold his breath a really long time.

And fine, the Y is cool. The local rec center is legit. Of course, Brody knows there’s pee in those pools, and it’s hell to try to find a clear lane during open swim, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Seriously, they can’t be. The choice is: swim or not. There’s no in between and no one gives a shit what a dumb ass kid like him thinks of his accommodations.

College is a little better as far as swimming is concerned because those pools are big and set aside for actual swimming. Except Brody’s a terrible student and he’s almost always flunking out so when someone suggests he trains for the Olympics instead, he figures what the hell.

That’s when the pools get nice, you know. People with serious cash make those pools and Brody swims in them because he’s fast enough for people to pay for him to do it. That’s totally cool with Brody. And really, everyone gets on him for yakking in the pool at Rio, but did anyone see that pool the day before races open? The damn thing was green, and all the other swimmers balked and said, “How can I swim in that?” and Brody never blinked twice. Because if there’s water, Brody will swim in it.

Plain, simple, to the point.

The end.

And then, Brody meets Mitch and swims in the ocean.

Sure, Mitch is all, “Watch out for the killer riptides” but whatever. Brody can handle riptides. He can handle waves and rocks and boats and shit like that. It’s no big deal. Still all water, and Brody can own anything when water is involved.

The thing is, though, when you swim in the ocean, you’re not just competing with little kids in the surf or surfers or jet skis. No. You’re competing with animals. They talk about sharks and manta rays, but that shit’s not common, right? Brody can deal with fish because whatever they’re little and harmless. But then, one day, Brody meets a jellyfish.

All his years of swimming, he’s never met anything like a jellyfish before.

And he swears to God, he hopes he never does again.

-o-

As is probably not a surprise, Brody is swimming.

It is, quite literally, his day job. Even before this whole lifeguarding gig, Brody was a swimmer. You know, an Olympic swimmer. There’s never been much more to him than that.

So to say he’s swimming is not a surprise.

But it’s a little more than that.

He’s swimming with Mitch.

Now, even that isn’t exactly a surprise. He and Mitch work together, so, you know that’s a thing. They go on rescues together. They’re heroes together. Yay and shit like that.

However, they’re not on the job right now.

This is also not exactly surprising. In the months since joining Baywatch, Brody has become acclimated to life as part of a team. He has not, however, been able to afford a place to live. He hasn’t intended to be Mitch’s roommate, but that’s basically what he is. They share food and household expenses, and they commute to work and fight over who has to feed the fish because they’re not actually roommates who are totally roommates.

They also like to work out together.

That’s how it starts, anyway. Casual and all that.

But really, they’re just trying to one-up each other. Plain and simple. Neither of them likes to admit it, but they’re competitive assholes and they both want to prove to the other that they’re better at, well, everything.

Especially swimming, though.

Like, especially swimming.

They both take their swimming super personally. Mitch hates the fact that Brody hasn’t had any trouble adjusting to swimming in the ocean, and Brody hates the fact that he hasn’t quite adjusted enough to be able to best Mitch in a race when he holds the world record in the 200.

So Mitch is going to keep racing to remind Brody that he’s the new guy with everything to prove. Brody’s going to keep racing to prove to Mitch that he may be the new guy but he’s not some novice swimmer who can’t hold his own against a damn riptide.

Damn it, Brody is going to win a race with that damn riptide.

He is.

Today, in fact.

Today, the water feels great and Brody’s stroke is strong. His kick is damn near perfect, and all the factors are working in his favor. He’s pulling away in the last leg of the race; he’s on fire, Mitch left in his wake.

That’s such an amazing feeling that he doesn’t even slow down with the blob in front of him appears. The ocean is full of blobs, Brody has found. Usually it’s trash, and most people are all “Oh no trash!” but whatever. Brody’s wam in ponds with cow shit before so trash doesn’t freak him out.

Except this blob moves more.

Fish?

It’s too blobby to be a shark.

Whatever.

Brody powers through it, eyes on the finish line, go, go, go--

Stop.

That’s not so much a conscious thought as it is a knee jerk reaction. Because one second he’s swimming past a blob; the next second the blob is actively attacking him in a way that only a blob actually could.

He makes it another two strokes before he can’t.

Can’t see, can’t move, can’t breathe.

Can’t do anything but hurt.

It’s a small sting and then it’s a bigger sting and then his whole body feels like it’s on fire, only not in a good way anymore. In a bad way, the worst way, in the way that makes him feel like he may actually die right here and now.

No, really.

Brody thinks he might be dying. If not from the pain, from the fact that the rush of adrenaline to his head is so disorienting that he can’t make his way up or down. He can’t find the surface as he flails, trying and failing to dislodge the blob, which seems to have decided to stick to him like glue.

It’s agony now; and Brody’s pain receptors start to overload as his lungs start to constrict for a lack of oxygen. He opens his mouth -- to scream, to cry, to breathe -- and he takes in a mouthful of water, which burns as he inhales it. He gags and coughs and gags again before somehow his face ends up above the surface.

Gurgling, he screams, but it’s cut off when his own thrashing takes him under again. He tries to stop, but he can’t.

Oh, shit, he can’t.

Underwater, he’s turned around again, and his vision is starting to gray out around the edges. He writhes uselessly, mouth opening as he screams in desperation.

He thinks, dimly, that he may die here.

He thinks, he can’t die here.

Because where the hell is Mitch?

As if on cue, strong arms wrap around him and drag him upward. Brody’s so grateful that he doesn’t have it in him to be embarrassed, even as Mitch drags his sorry ass all the way back to shore.

-o-

They hit dry land, and Brody thinks that it has to help.

He doesn’t.

Mitch helps him stagger out of the surf, where Brody promptly collapses onto his hands and knees and gasps for air. He coughs, bringing up salt water, and cries out as Mitch manhandles him onto his ass, starting to disentangle the blob at the same time.

Brody curses vehemently, because now he recognizes the blob.

It’s a jellyfish.

And not just any jellyfish. As Mitch detaches it, it’s clearly the biggest, ugliest, most terrifying jellyfish in the whole damn ocean. Mitch appears mostly unfussed as he throws it back into the ocean and drops to his knees beside Brody to look over his wound.

At the first touch, Brody hisses and tries to pull away as he gasps for air. “What the hell?”

“You got stung by a jellyfish,” Mitch says, using his fingers to probe at the welts starting to rise on Brody’s chest and arms.

Brody coughs, inhaling so sharply that his eyes water. Also: he’s still in agony. “That had to be, like, five jellyfish,” he pants.

“No, just one,” Mitch says. Then he bobs his head to the side, as if in concession. “Though a pretty big one.”

Brody somehow is not appeased by this concession. His chest still heaves for air, and he shakes his head. “Is it supposed to hurt this bad?”

“Their stings are known to be painful,” Mitch says. Then, off handedly, he adds, “For first timers especially.”

Brody mutters a curse, and he’s crying now. Like, actually crying. He doesn’t like it, but he can’t stop. “This is more than a sting,” he says, and he still can’t catch his breath. Mitch moves around to examine his back. Brody shakes his head. “This is torture.”

“Well, you did get pretty wrapped up in it,” Mitch says, coming back around to Brody’s front and lifting his chin to look at his neck and shoulders. “You’re not supposed to swim straight at them.”

“It swam at me!” Brody protests, but his vigor is lost a little in his utter breathlessness. His chest feels tighter; his breath feels shorter.

Mitch gives him a quizzical look. “You didn’t even see it?”

“I was too busy winning the race!” Brody snaps with a grating breath. He has to brace himself against another wave of pain as it roils through his body with a surprising force.

“And you thought that was a good reason to hug a jellyfish?” Mitch asks.

Mitch is making jokes and he’s being an asshole with the best of intentions, and normally Brody would continue the banter, but he can’t.

Like, it’s not just that he can’t think of a response.

He can’t think.

He can’t breathe.

Why can’t he breathe?

Gritting his teeth, Brody tries to focus. “Shit, Mitch,” he says, pausing to gasp. “This is -- bad.”

Mitch is back to looking at the welts again. “The swelling is worse than I would have expected,” he agrees. “You did a number on yourself.”

Mitch doesn’t get it, though. Brody blinks rapidly, trying to clear the spots from his vision. “These can kill you -- can’t they?”

Looking up at him again, Mitch frowns. “Not usually,” he says, but he seems to notice that Brody’s not looking quite right.

At least, Brody hopes he can see it, because Brody really doesn’t feel right. His head is light, and his ears are starting to ring. “But it happens?”

Mitch has gone into lifeguard mode, and he’s got that calm facade, the one he uses for panicking victims who think they’re going to die when they’re not. Brody resents it a little, but it is awfully effectively. “It’s very rare,” Mitch assures him.

Brody actually wants to believe him. First, because he’s kind of freaking out now. And second, because he doesn’t much want to die now.

Or, you know, any time soon.

Possibly ever.

He blinks, and then he hears Mitch all his name. Then, when Brody opens his eyes, he’s on his back somehow. It still hurts; he still can’t breathe.

Above him, Mitch is staring at him intently.

Brody shakes his head, and he feels like he’s apologizing. “Mitch -- I think -- I think -- this is -- one of those -- not common -- times.”

He can’t speak in complete sentences anymore; he’s not sure he can hold a coherent thought.

“You’re exaggerating,” Mitch scolds him a little, but he looks worried now. “Let’s get your breathing under control, and we’ll take you to the ER to be safe.”

“No,” Brody says, and he shakes his head. “Not exaggerating.”

He’s having trouble forming words now. His whole body is shaking, and the pain has ratcheted up to new heights.

Mitch puts a bracing hand on his shoulder. “You just need to calm down, okay?” he says. “I’ve seen lots of jellyfish stings in my time on the beach. I’ve never seen someone die from one.”

That’s supposed to be reassuring, but Brody can’t be reassured. Not when he’s in so much pain that it’s trying to blind him. He swallows as hard as he can, and he shakes his head so Mitch understands he’s not shitting around. “No,” he says. “You need -- I need--”

He’s trying to think of something, of some solution, of some answer.

His eyes light up, and he fixes his gaze on Mitch intensely. “Pee,” he announces. “You need -- to pee on it. That -- helps, right? That helps?”

That’s not the answer Mitch is looking for. “The theory is that the acid in the pee makes the pain go away,” he amends on Brody’s behalf.

“Okay,” Brody says, a little too readily. “I’m down -- with that.”

Mitch shakes his head, looking a little perturbed now. “It’s a myth -- it’s been widely disproved,” he says. “Where did you even hear about it?”

Shit, Mitch wants to argue the details with him now. When Brody’s about ready to convulse from pain. “A movie, I think,” he gasps, breath starting to rail. “Worked there.”

Now Mitch just looks offended. “You really believe all the shit you see in movies?”

Brody sobs a little now, because the hell? What the hell. “It’s better -- than doing -- nothing!” he seethes with as much emphasis as he has left.

For the record, it’s not a lot, what he has left.

Shit, it’s hardly anything at all.

Mitch purses his lips, eyes narrowed. “Urine is not an effective treatment for jellyfish stings, plain and simple,” he says, like that’s that.

But shit. How is that that? How is anything that? “How do you know?” Brody all but cries, and his teeth are starting to chatter; he’s losing feeling in his toes.

“Because I know!” Mitch insists.

“Have you -- tried?” Brody asks, because he can’t feel his fingers and he’s pretty sure that his junk is going numb, too.

Mitch is downright incredulous now. “Why would I try it?”

“Because,” Brody says, heaving for air. “Jellyfish -- stings -- hurt!”

“Oh, stop being dramatic,” Mitch lectures him.

That’s easy for him to say, but here’s the thing: Brody’s not being dramatic. At least, not really. Because this isn’t just painful. This is actually killing him.

He realizes it a second too late, and his throat seizes up before he can tell Mitch that he should just call 911. A weird keening noise emits from his throat as his chest struggles for air that he can’t quite bring in.

Above him, Mitch is back in lifeguard mode. But he’s in rescue mode, now. Not placating mode.

“Brody?” he asks.

Figures; Brody can’t answer now. His eyes widen as he tries to, tries and fails.

“Brody,” Mitch says, and Brody can barely feel Mitch’s hands on his shoulders. “Talk to me.”

His eyes are dimming now, vision going dark around the edges as the ringing in his ears increases, and the numbness climbs up the back of his spine with a shuddering horror.

“Brody!” Mitch is yelling now, and Brody can hear the fear in his voice now.

That’s funny, really. That Mitch is scared now.

Right as Brody is starting to finally stop caring.

About everything.

“Brody!”

But Brody’s eyes are closed, his chest goes still, and that’s really all there is.

-o-

In the dark, Brody feels like he’s swimming.

Honestly, that’s not surprising. Brody’s been swimming his whole life. Like it’s been his chance to escape.

That’s so stupid when he thinks about it. He’s spent his life swimming back and forth in tiny pools; he’s never getting anywhere. When he’s done he still comes out to the same crappy life and he’s still the same crappy person he was when he started.

But now he’s starting to swim in the ocean.

Vast and big and changing and wild.

You can’t dive into the same water twice.

You end up someplace different than when you start.

Funny, maybe you come out a different person for it.

Brody’s not sure.

But he thinks he’d like to find out.

He just has to keep swimming.

Keep swimming.

Keep--

-o-

Brody opens his eyes with a gasp.

There’s no pool.

There’s no ocean.

There’s not even a sky.

There’s a tile ceiling and a heart monitor?

Brody blinks a few times, and then he remembers: the jellyfish.

“Hey,” a voice calls from beside him.

Brody turns his head, and there’s Mitch, looking weary and relieved. “You’re back.”

Brody swallows. It feels funny, like his tongue is a little too big and his throat is a little too small. Everything itches. “What happened?”

“Anaphylactic shock,” Mitch reports. “One of the worst cases the hospital had ever seen.”

This is probably significant, but Brody can’t make heads or tails of it. He’s pretty sure that means he almost died and all that shit, but Brody can’t remember right now. Maybe it’ll bother him more later.

Maybe not.

Life and death and shit is something he’s getting used to under Mitch’s tutelage.

Speaking of which: “You stayed with me?”

“Sure,” Mitch says. “Been here the whole time.”

Brody nods along in consideration. “Did you pee on me?”

Mitch raises his eyebrows. “That’s the part you remember?”

“So you did pee on me?” Brody clarifies.

“No,” Mitch says, a touch of exasperation now. “There was no peeing involved.”

Brody looks away, feeling somehow let down.

“Seriously?” Mitch asks. “You’d feel better if I did take a piss on you?”

Brody looks back at Mitch, shrugging one shoulder. His chest has been bandaged and covered in some type of goo. It feels disgusting, and the lingering burning is still there and his head feels fuzzy. “Maybe,” he admits.

“I told you peeing doesn’t help,” Mitch reminds him.

Brody remembers that, but still. He fiddles with his hospital gown. Because of course this day can’t get anymore humiliating. Of course he’s in a hospital gown.

Reading Brody’s disappointed expression, Mitch rolls his eyes. “I did do things to actually save your life,” he says, as if to remind Brody. “I called 911; I perform rescue breathing as your airway started to swell shut.”

That means that Mitch has kissed him.

Twice.

Brody sinks deeper into the pillow. “That doesn’t make me feel better.”

Mitch actually groans a little. “And I’ve been by your side this whole time,” he says. “In the ambulance, when you were admitted, when they treated you--”

“Wait,” Brody says, even more disconcerted by this revelation. “You were there when they took my clothes off?”

“Oh, come on,” Mitch says. “You want me to pee on you, but you’re bothered by the fact that I saw you naked?”

Brody finds himself incredulous now. “You looked?”

“Not really!” Mitch says. “But I mean, there was a lot going on, and they were asking questions about your medical history and you were getting a shot of epi and I don’t know--”

Brody is all but miserable now. He’d rather be on the beach suffocating. “This really isn’t helping.”

This time, Mitch’s groan is much more pronounced. “Fine,” he says. “How about this: if there was a shred of evidence to suggest that peeing was an effective treatment for jellyfish stings, I would have done it of your. In a heartbeat. No questions asked.”

Brody stops, and this time he looks at Mitch.

Really looks at him.

Because all the shit Brody’s done. All the shit he’s tried to earn.

No one’s ever offered to pee on him.

Not for all his gold medals and world records times.

Suddenly, for all of his posturing and pouting, it actually doesn’t make much sense. “Really?”

Mitch doesn’t even hesitate. “Instantly.”

All his swimming, and it’s the race he doesn’t win that makes a difference. That finally gets Brody to the place he needs to go, the place he wants to go.

Right here.

With Mitch.

“Huh,” he says finally. “You know, that actually does help.”

Mitch shakes his head with a sigh. “You are so weird.”

“Like you’re one to talk,” Brody counters but he starting to smile. “You’re the one who said you’d pee on me.”

Mitch banters back, because that’s the way it is between them. Each one trying to prove who’s the better swimmer, who’s the better lifeguard.

And, ultimately, who’s the better friend.

That’s a competition that Brody doesn’t mind losing for today.