Author: FancyFigures
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about 'em for free etc
Pairings: 1+2
Category: POV, drama, romance
Warnings: Yaoi, twist of lime
Spoilers: None
Notes: Just that life is not like it is in the movies. Sometimes it's better.
Feedback: If you liked it, PLEASE let me know!

Written for merith's request on fic_on_demand. Matched to her gorgeous DJ pic.

Reality Check

Fuck, it hurt!

I'd always wondered what it'd be like to get shot in the arm. I mean - I know that sounds bizarre, but you know what I mean - in a Hollywood movie kind of way. Visions of clutching at the wound, pinning the bleeding shreds of skin together; eyes bright, still watching for danger, teeth gritted and a face hard-set in its _expression; dragging my body along steel-insulated corridors, the clatter of my boots on the hard floor; the harsh panting of my breath against the silent whirr of distant, strangely malevolent machinery.

But always finding the exit in the end - bursting out into sunlight and into the arms of the rescue force. Cynical cops would cheer; my co-star would gasp, having been the last to hold out only the faintest of hope, and exclaim at my incredible and indomitable ability to survive.

My co-star. Right....

All I knew was that, in reality, it hurt. It hurt one huge great hell of a lot, and I couldn't seem to stop the bleeding, and I didn't seem to have a lot of energy in my legs to get me up and running. And I really did think I should be doing that. Running away. Even in the best films, the villain didn't stop at one shot, did he? Didn't know how the rest of the team was faring - let's face it, I didn't know if I was in at the end of the story, or just opening up the whole can of blood-spattered worms. I hadn't given it sufficient thought in the first place.

"But you're so brave," my co-star would say. "Jeez, we'd given you up for dead! I never thought you'd talk him round - never thought you'd get out before he let loose the whole damned arsenal..."

"It's my job," I'd modestly say. "As a negotiator, we have to be trained to go into potentially dangerous situations. For God's sake, don't make a fuss! Let me set off for home with just your handkerchief around my arm, and maybe you'll have supper with me later on..."

Right...

*

I nearly laughed aloud, but luckily thought better of it. Looked like I was hallucinating now. OK, so it was my job - but I was pretty new to the whole thing. I had a few more months to complete in training, even on the fast track - as I was - and I was only meant to be back-up for the main negotiator. I wasn't sure what had made me follow him in, against the advice of the police cordon outside the bank. I just thought the guy inside didn't look that dangerous - he looked mad, and he looked hungry, and I could sort of remember a time I felt like that too. I thought I could probably find some common ground there; talk him out in a while.

Heero Yuy had looked daggers at me when I appeared at his shoulder. Yo. The thought of that still gives me the shivers, even though the whole of my left side feels pretty cold just now. It wouldn't be like that in the movie, would it?

"Thank God you're here," he'd murmur, breathlessly. "You can find the way in to his twisted, tortured mind. You can take the lead - let me back you up. Save the terrified hostages, Duo."

Well, there weren't any hostages, of course. Heero had already negotiated them out. The cache of sub-machine guns large enough to take out a small Caribbean island had also been surrendered, and placed out of harm's way. Mad Guy was still bleating for his million dollars and his personal helicopter out of the country, but I knew the police snipers were already closing in. Looked like Heero had it all covered.

Then the cameras had caught Mad Guy's full face, and even through the blurry quality I'd noticed a gleam in his eye that was also rather familiar - the gleam of insanity; the glint of unpredictability. Guess I moved in those circles once; call it a misspent youth. I felt nausea that was all too real - someone inside my body decided to change the blood in my veins to iced water. That's when I lurched out and started my rather rash approach, towards the bank. Of course Heero would have noticed the renewed danger, I thought, but still walking on through the shouts and the furious hissing of the radios. Of course he would have suspected things were never that easy...

I don't know why I'd doubted it in the first place. Heero, after all, was a master. He was my mentor. He wrote the book on procedure and provocation and proactive, tactical negotiation. He could talk a bird down from the tree; he could sell ice to an Eskimo. He'd taken issue with the President; he'd crossed swords with the CIA. And now he trained newbies like me to crash in after him and fuck things up.

Well, OK, so that's why I went in, in the first place, right? Because of him. Heero. Yeah, he wrote the book - but I've lived it. Some gut feeling made me think he might need help; and there was no chapter on that.

That gut feeling helped me see Mad Guy's hidden handgun just a fraction before he did.

I know what followed was so not like the movies that I may never pay my entrance fee to a blockbuster again. I think the only thing I'd actually heard Heero murmur was 'Butt out, you moron'. It might have been the roaring in my ears, of course. I didn't stop to ask - just moved forward in front of him and went to take the guy down.

*

The voice at my elbow caught me unawares. I think I'd pretty much accepted I'd lost the Hollywood plot by this time altogether. My forehead felt a bit clammy - my fingers were numb on that left side. Whoever said blood was warm? It was cold and sticky under my arm. And I'd never heard his step.

"How bad is it, Duo?"

I sighed. "Heero. Hi. It's nothing." Fucked if I was going to give him the satisfaction of passing out. The hero always chatters on in the face of agony. I would have shrugged if it didn't hurt so bad. "Is it all over, then? Mad Guy dead?"

A bottle of water was at my lips; there were sounds in the background that were reassuringly familiar; like the calls and grumbles of relieved cops. "No, he's not dead. He was so shocked that he actually hit you with that ancient old thing he stole from his dad, that he dropped it and gave up immediately. He's due back in the secure facility as we speak; he only escaped yesterday. Borderline psychotic; local boy gone mad."

"There but for the grace of God..." I burbled.

"Shut up, Duo," he snapped. "You shouldn't have come in after me. What the hell have I taught you about following the plan -?"

"Someone has to cover your back."

"I can cover the whole of me, thanks -"

"Alone?"

Maybe he hesitated. "Yes."

"Yeah, maybe not. He was aiming at you just when I caught his eye."

Heero snorted; the water bottle wobbled a little. "You more than caught his eye, you stupid bastard. I never wanted you on this call in the first place."

"Not got the grades?"

"It's your neighbourhood, Duo. Your people. Your kind of causes."

"Sure you know that. It's your job to read up on the files of all your newbies."

"That's not always the reason I do it, Duo."

I tutted. "Anyway, that's a plus point here, far as I see it. Makes it easier for me to empathise with 'em..."

"Makes it harder for you to stay objective."

I smiled very slightly - the water had moistened my lips and I thought I could hear the sirens of the paramedics in the distance. "Hey look here, man. He only got my arm, right? I made sure he never had anything larger in his sights. Lesson 7B; minimise target. Distract aim. Must get me a 'B' in that paper, surely?"

That may have been a soft laugh from the man himself. The teacher. "Yes, that's true. Maybe you put that theory to good practice, Duo."

"Sounds like only a 'C' comment to me," I sighed. My head rested back on the cool wall. "You sure expect a lot of your guys, Heero."

"I do," he said, shortly. "Why shouldn't I expect the best from you? Your success is a reflection on my training. And it's critical if you're going to be my partner."

Partner? "Is that like a co-star, Heero?"

"What the fuck -?" He sighed, wearily, but he reached the water to my lips again. "You must be the most difficult guy I've ever handled, Duo..."

"I'm a challenge, Heero. To all your superb training." I was groaning a bit now. Things were throbbing where they shouldn't; someone was trying to rip their way out of my head with blunt machetes. "You think I'll ever make the end of it? Training?"

He grunted. His arm seemed to be around my shoulders. "You're lucky you'll make the end of the day. My best student - bleeding all over the floor of the vaults. You're still a stupid bastard. Too rash."

"Sometimes you have to take risks..."

"Calculated ones. That's what I teach."

"Everything's calculated with you, right? No melodrama - no last minute leap for freedom - no sudden rush of passion to the head..."

He was quiet for a long moment. I could hear feet hammering down the corridors - the smell of medics. Heero's arm got tighter. "Sudden rush of passion, eh?"

Then he kissed me.

The cold numbness down my left side was sort of counteracted by the warm glow all up the right side. He tasted very fierce - very angry. Very worried.

Very, very tasty. Helped take my mind off the metallic tang of blood in my mouth. Helped soothe the fear from that so-very-stupid manoeuvre of mine in the bank. Helped make me think I might not be so far off that 'B' grade after all.

*

Guys running about in fluorescent jackets put paid to the whole thing, though I insisted Heero lift me to my feet himself, draping my good arm over his shoulder. I could touch the muscles of his arm from there; they were warm and strong. We set off for the exit, mercifully nearby, and definitely bathed in sunlight and rescue forces. Though I couldn't clutch at the wound any more; my fingers had been peeled carefully off it as I got up.

Heero bent his mouth to my ear. "It's almost stopped bleeding - but you want my handkerchief on that?"

I didn't answer; might have been because I was concentrating on staying upright. Might have been because I was just savouring the sound and touch of his lips, those lips that had been closer to me than any bullet, just seconds ago.

Life can be like the movies, I guess...just small vignettes.

He peered at me, frowning. "Why are you smiling?"

"Nothing," I said, letting the medics support me to the ambulance. I turned to call back to Heero. "You want supper later on? My treat. It may not meet your high expectations, of course..."

"You're insane, Maxwell," he said in reply. But he smiled, all the way to his eyes. "I'll take you up on that. And you'd better believe that I'll expect a hell of a sight more than that out of you before we're finished."

End

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