Given: RDA/MS, JB
LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY villeinage)
Summary: Richard Dean Anderson has Michael Shanks at the forefront of his thoughts. Then he meets John Barrowman.
Read at your own risk; I warn for nothing. This is fiction.
He surfaced from sleep, gasping , as the pressurized water caught him full in the face. A warning. Obediently, he rolled, first flat onto his belly, and the hose sprayed cold down his chafed spine.
Next, knees under, and he reached back to pull himself open. The faster he did it, the faster it went, and the spray was almost quick today. Then finally, over on his back, and triumph--only a brief burst of water head to toe, and the lab tech, coveralled and masked, moved on down the rows of cages.
He shivered. There used to be warm water, and warm jets of air. But maybe that was only for the younger slaves. Or maybe it wasn't a real memory, just something left from the jabs of burning, thick fluid that made the walls come alive, made him sweat and twitch while the lab techs made eager noises at the monitor.
Things were better now that he had the ports. He had several in his arms, keeping his veins open, and the burning drugs went straight in. And he had a large tube in his chest, for the times when nothing stayed down, and he heaved and retched until yellow came out.
Two cages over, a new boy curled into a ball, trying to hide from the cleaning. John winced and closed his eyes. They always tried, the new ones, and the techs made a game of it, turning up the water pressure, herding them into a corner of the cage, turning them with the bruising, icy stream, pointing it straight at their mouths and noses while they choked on water and blood.
It was over at last, the hose scraping as it coiled into a large black reel, and the doors flapping shut.
Now was usually the long white stretch of nothing before Feeding, when the only sound was the creaking of metal, and something John thought was like the faintly-remembered sea, but was only the fast, panting breath of men in pain.
Time passed. Was he done with this set of drugs, or would there be more today? He reached to touch his head, wincing at the soreness in his arm. He tugged at the soft fuzz on his scalp, and it stayed rooted, so, no. Probably more drugs.
Unless he was done with drugs, and was in Procedures. That might be why there was no Feeding yet--he wouldn't be fed if he was to have a Procedure. Had they moved him to Procedures while he slept?
He lifted his head. No--the lights, the green rough walls, the whiteboard with its numbers, dates, and notes were still the same.
He felt himself exhale. He hated Procedures--the paralysis before and after, the fuzzy grey static of pain, worse than the burning and vomiting of drugs.
His arm hurt a lot today.
The next time he woke, something. Something was different. He lay still, very still.
It was so quiet.
And dark. Why was it dark?
He was very thirsty.
Drifting , he let himself slip back into dreams.
The pavements were rough beneath his feet, slippery in the condensing evening damp. Around him lights were coming on, soft yellow smears through narrow windows. He was a child again, running home, laughing. He glimpsed green gardens through a gate as he ran.
“Over here,” Scott said, gesturing him into an alley. “This way!” They huddled together shivering, giggling as David and Robbie passed them by.
Rick took a deep breath and sauntered over to the cluster of medical staff huddled outside the ER door. He took a crumpled pack of cigarettes from his jacket, shook one out.
“Got a light?” he asked.
The intern looked up from his cigarette. “Sure,” he said, fumbling in his short white coat.
“You look beat,” Rick said, inhaling as the spark took. “Busy night?”
“You wouldn't believe it,” the boy said, sagging back against the white brick wall. “We had ‘em stacked for a while. Jesus.”
“Yeah?” Rick smiled and let his eyes soften, warm. Come on baby, he thought. Tell me all about it. “Pile-up? Traffic was bad on the freeway.”
“I wish. Nah. Commerce raid.”
Rick angled his body, tilted his head the slightest bit, let a little confusion show in his half open mouth.
“Yeah,couple times a year, Commerce cracks down on one of the slave markets, or a med lab. Keeps the abolitionists off their backs, I guess. Just wish they'd give us some notice before they drop off a truckfull of damaged slaves.”
“Let you call in some extra help. Open up some beds.”
“Christ, we don't keep em!” The doc snorted. He ground the butt of his cigarette into the sidewalk.
The healthy ones get stitched up, bones set, antibiotics, some labs if there's a question. Most of them are processed out by now.”
Shit, Rick thought. Shit, too late.
“Still got a load in the morgue, though, waiting to be put down. But guess what?” The boy smiled.”My shift's over.”
He took a few steps forward, then turned back.”Want to get some coffee? There's a Starbucks around the corner.”
Rick let his eyelids drop regretfully, shaking his head.
“I'm here with my sister-in-law,” he said.”She might need stitches, and my brother pukes at the sight of blood.”
He found the elevators easily, and once he was down in the basement, he followed the stench.
He slowed his steps as he turned the corner. Stretchers glinted against both sides of the hallway. Some of the stretchers were covered with small mounds of sheets. Long yellow fluorescents buzzed overhead.
Rick made himself go to the living first.
Most of them were almost gone. There were two women, breathing the deep intermittent gasps of the dying. Not her. One man still had his eyes open, tracking, like marbles rolling in a skull.
The corpses now. Rick pulled the sheet down.
“Fuck,” he whispered.
God, Michael. He jerked the sheet back up and turned away.
I'm not going to lie to him. I don't know what they did to her.
There was a crash behind him, and he whirled.
It was skull-guy.
He was on the floor, dragging himself towards Rick.