As part of Premiere Week here on Castle Inanity, I humbly submit to you all, my latest one-shot. It's entitled I Am Tomorrow, I Am Today. Find it after the break.
of warm for Italy, but whatever, because it's not like he even has time to really consider that thought with the building exploding and gunfire raining down like summer hail storms and goddammit he is not going to jump before Sarah precisely because he's the human Intersect and precisely because he loves her. She can get Casey doctors for the gunshot wound in his stomach because the man is just too stubborn to die, so she doesn't need to worry about that, she needs to worry about getting to the next rooftop before the building collapses and, hell, if it starts going down the Intersect has parkour, okay?
She jumps and he watches in slow motion as her legs stretch out like infinity and her hair flies backwards away from her face, framing her high cheekbones and the bright sunlight illuminates her eyes and he knows in that moment how lucky he is even if the whole gunshots and buildings exploding and Casey dying thing seems to contradict that; again, whatever. At least she's jumping and she clears the rooftop easily and he can tell she wants to start running towards Moretti's compound, but she stops and looks back at him and dammit, she shouldn't be stopping but he doesn't let himself dwell on that, instead he turns around, firing two shots blindly into the crowd as he tries to give himself enough of a distance where he'll be able to make the jump.
He hears music as he begins running, the rhythmic pulse of primary charges blowing base charges, the drumbeat of a controlled demolition. The building rumbles like the sustained chords of a trombone section under his feet and each of his steps is like an elaborate counter-rhythm; 6/8 against 2/4; and the molded edge of the building's roof begins to deteriorate just as he puts his foot on it and he can hear Sarah yelling out his name even though she probably shouldn't because they're supposed to be undercover right now, but whatever, and he's somehow able to push off, even with the concrete and plaster and etcetera all melting away under his feet and he reaches, reaches and just barely grabs on to the other rooftop's edge and Sarah - her eyes all serious and blazing and red with fire and righteousness now - fires back at their faceless attackers and he scrambles up the building ledge and
night is quiet and dark. Peaceful, in an unexpected way. The SUV, a Cadillac Escalade, is truthfully more high-powered a machine than Morgan ever thought he would have the privilege of driving. He likes weaving it across the forested Midwestern countryside, taking the winding turns of the Wisconsin county roads more sharply than he probably needs to.
Sarah and Casey and Chuck are asleep in the back seats and he likes looking at them through the rear view mirror. He's of course seen Chuck sleep numerous times; they live together and when they were kids sleepovers weren't uncommon. Chuck sleeps different now, since the Intersect, with his body stiffer and his face more set, but when Sarah shifts against Chuck he sees his best friend's expression soften and he sleeps a lot like he did before Mary left. He likes seeing that. He likes seeing Chuck how Chuck used to be. This is where "used to be" means before Stanford rather than before the Intersect. He likes it when he sees his friend's expression soften in relief, knowing he has someone he loves next to him.
Casey, on the other hand, doesn't even look peaceful when he's sleeping. His harsh facial expressions and imposing posture are still apparent, even as he's unconscious. And, Sarah? He'd never seen Sarah sleep prior to her moving in, but he sees something so different of her when she's with Chuck. Not the mysterious, enigmatic yogurt girl. Not the staggeringly efficient CIA spy. She's Sarah and whatever that means, he can see it when she mumbles Chuck's name in her sleep. The best thing that's ever happened to his best friend, for sure, but it occurs to him seeing her sleep for the first time that he's the best thing that's ever happened to her, too.
He checks the road behind him, and sees that the couple of tails they picked up a few hours ago are still behind them, so he decides to turn up the radio. It's not like it will help with the tails, but it tends to relax him and he
"I don't know if I can do this, Devon." Ellie says this as she paces, back and forth, back and forth, across the linoleum of the hospital room.
"It'll be okay, babe." They're empty words and she's smart enough to know it, but he's never good enough with those words to be able to reassure her as he'd like.
"I just..." She sighs, stops pacing for a second. "I just can't keep watching over four..." She gesticulates wildly in their direction. "Coma patients, waiting for them to wake up!"
He takes a deep breath. "I know it's hard." The waiting, he's come to find out throughout his tenure as a doctor, the waiting is the most difficult part. "But we need to be here for them, okay?" He almost starts the next sentence with the word "If." "When they wake up, they'll need us."
Ellie starts pacing again. "He was out, Devon. Chuck was out. Now he's back in." She stops next to Chuck's bed and he could look just like he was sleeping without the diodes and nearby heart monitors. All four of them, Chuck and Morgan and Sarah and even semi-crouched Casey, they look like they could just be sleeping. "Now he's back in," Ellie says again, softer.
"He had to." He steps closer to his wife, putting his hand on her shoulder. Ellie turns away from him and he knows it's because she's trying to fight back tears and the tears always come when someone looks at her.
He can hear them, though, when she says, "He's special."
He watches as she runs a hand along his forehead, and despite the severity of the situation, he
likes to compare his hands to Devon's hands when they flash on field surgery skills because, well, Devon always had those enormous, football player hands that still moved gracefully through a heart valve and repaired damaged atriums and he never felt like his hands, those awkward bumbling things, could ever compare, but with this being the second time he's had to take a bullet out of Casey, he finds himself feeling a little bit of pride in the fact that those thumbs, usually more adept at pressing buttons on an XBox controller, can do the same things as Captain Awesome's.
But whatever, he can't take too long because as soon as Casey is patched up the big guy is lumbering back toward's Moretti's estate. Sarah, tight lipped and disapproving at Casey's activity of course, still gets up and yells something discouraging at him which Casey responds to with a grunt ("Don't bet on finishing the mission without me, sister.") but she's off right behind him and his hands are now pushing against the ground and catapulting his body forward into a sprint and he's almost as fast now as the both of them like he always wished he'd be.
He even has time to throw Sarah an "Okay, I know we're in serious danger of dying here, but don't we work great together, c'mon" grin which she returns all "I don't want to encourage you but you're right and if we make it through this the adrenaline-fueled sex we have afterward is going to reduce you to a stammering idiot"-style and his own smile splits open into "You always reduce me to a stammering idiot" and her facial expressions don't have a good comeback for that except for her shaking her head which causes her hair to unwind out of its tightly constructed bun.
She's wearing blue, a light blue blouse and a pair of sexy but nonrestrictive lightly washed blue jeans and when her hair blows back like that he half expects her to have a cannon for an arm, but it's only an extension when she lifts up her pistol and straight just takes out two guys that tried to get the jump on them and in that moment she is totally Samus and wasn't that new Metroid game coming out soon? Whatever, even if its tomorrow its still a few years away and what's the point of pining for Samus when she's right there in front of him?
She turns around, all of her history and heartbreak spinning over her shoulder in the process and the tendrils seem to shake loose everything wrong that ever happened to her because the smile on her face is so beautiful that he wishes this whole thing were backwards, that a second here was a year. It doesn't seem right that the one second he sees her at her most astounding is the one second that doesn't even
of dawn are beginning to creep over the tree line, so Morgan figures it's only a matter of time before the tails begin to make their move. He doesn't drive any faster, as it won't really do any good, but he does start taking more random turns, spiraling randomly through unincorporated towns until he comes back onto the highway he just left, because it buys all of them a little more time. Every second here is pretty important.
Leaning against each other in the very back seat, Sarah and Chuck have dopey grins on their faces and, you know, that's just adorable. Casey, too, looks a little more peaceful and Morgan figures it's because he stopped taking those turns at ten miles an hour over the posted speed limits. If they're comfortable, that pretty much means he's doing his job.
Doing all the driving while they sleep doesn't bother him, not because he's used to it or anything, but because Chuck asked him to do it. Casey had growled at him and threatened him, Sarah didn't say anything because what could she say to someone she lives with who goes bibbledy at her unless she's wearing mountain climbing gear. Chuck just asked him and if there's one thing he doesn't do, save for dire, dire circumstances like mixing gaming and whiskey, it's tell Chuck no.
As the tails get closer, he sees that they all have the same license plate, KFL-189. Except for the Delorean at the head of the pack with a custom license plate that reads DEMORGAN. He squints to get a better look at it; he can't quite believe his eyes. But, then, that's kind of the whole point. For whatever reason the Demorgan makes him put his foot on the gas a little heavier. Just like he knows, it doesn't do any good, but seeing his former car come back to haunt him is more than a little unnerving.
He wishes he could wake Chuck up to hear his best friend's sage words of wisdom. Chuck always knew what to do in these situations, but again, it's kind of the point that
to turn up the thermostat. It's too cold in the room for people not comatose, but he can't do that, so Devon eventually submits to pacing with his wife. It helps that it's also something to do besides wait.
He's a doctor, so he's never found medical equipment so ominous before. He's never noticed how the beepings fall and rise not only with heartbeats and breaths but with hopes. He's never noticed how infinite the time between those beeps beats breathes hopes can seem. He's never until this very moment understood the relief that crosses every visiting family member's face with each one.
Of course, his family has always been absolutely dedicated to not being in this kind of a position, so he's never been on the wrong side of dealing with those kind of stakes.
He doesn't like it any more than Ellie does.
She stops for just a second, sighs, looks at their friends and family. He can tell she wants to let out a huff of frustration but she also doesn't want to take her eyes off the clock, even if the time for the two of them to worry is far enough off where blowing a stray hair out of her face is going to mean life or death.
He almost laughs, but then sighs in relief when he hears another beep.
"They're gonna be okay." He doesn't know why he says it, but he does.
Her sharp look says "There's no possible way you can know that any more than I do," even before she says it out loud.
All he can do is shrug helplessly to that, waiting for breath to travel down their tracheas, down through their bronchial tubes, expanding their lungs while contracting their diaphragms. He thinks about the medicalese of it because it's a welcome distraction. If he can take the time to break down each individual process, that kills more of
and Casey, lumbering in his broad-shouldered, "I can take three tranq darts, five bullets, a half gallon of poison, and a few car crashes and still be alive" sort of way, pushes him roughly aside even though he's the gorram Intersect and if anyone should be able to open a safe it should be him, right? But both Casey and Sarah would rather try it the old fashioned way, which he thinks is probably both a matter of pride and a matter of keeping the Intersect safe, though in Sarah's case she's probably more thinking about keeping her boyfriend safe because even though she knows he's the Intersect he thinks that she forgets it sometimes. Even when, okay especially when, he's in physical danger because her commando/ninja/Prince of Persia/Cirque du Soleil crazy fight stuff always has a tinge of desperation in her fatally focused determination. He figures he's responsible for that and he feels a little bit scared that he can make Sarah slightly unhinged and a little bit proud that he can, well, make Sarah slightly unhinged.
Sarah, with her con artist past and gear and skills has her ear to Moretti's safe, holding her hands to it like she can feel the mechanisms and gears within the steel contraption and he wonders maybe if she can now. They have been doing this stuff for, like, eight months now - or was it a week or was it a few hours - and he wouldn't be entirely surprised if Sarah was now a super hero.
It's deathly silent for a few minutes and if there were pins to drop, well that sentence kind of finishes itself. Casey of course has his eye on the entrances to the safe room, his pistol aimed high - head level - to take out the faceless masses that are sure to be interrupting the deceptive calm that's fallen over the safe room. He breathes like a wounded bear mostly because he kind of is a wounded bear, all wide and thick and vicious (and also occasionally fuzzy) and Chuck thanks about three separate deities that he has is long past poking the bear with a stick.
There's this relenting click and hiss from underneath Sarah's Wonder Woman hands and the tension of the big bank heist movie spinning wheel thingy gives way, spinning like a top or - Lester rubbing off on him - a dreidel. The collective "Oh shit" inhalation is kind of Big Deal cinematic moment in its drama, as the tension of the wheel gets transferred to their lungs and then everything goes to hell and he feels like he's the Serenity crew holding off the Reavers so Mal can get the signal out even before the shooting starts. He pulls his gun up to
does not like being in an action movie. Morgan would very much rather prefer being in a sci-fi movie. And not even one of those badass ones like Alien or Dune, just one of the funny ones, like Back to the Future, so he could and Doc Brown could rip it to 88 miles per hour and see some serious shit. Instead, he's sandwiched between two cars at well past 88, trying to maintain some semblance of control over the vehicle. Which is just not working. At all.
The hairpin turn comes out of nowhere and the other cars peel off, some swerving into the ditch and others taking the run. Morgan slams the breaks, turning into the spin, trying to get the vehicle pointed in the right direction. But he's not a driver except on Gran Turismo or Need 4 Speed, so the rear end of the car ends up slamming all ultraviolence into the guardrail. The back end of the Escalade folds up like an accordion, but only partially, the safety design of the car keeping the cabin mostly intact. He punches the gas, but goes back the way he came instead of down the other end of the hairpin, and he prides himself a little bit on the fact he was clever enough under pressure to figure that one out.
He looks at the rear mirror, glad when he can see his three best friends still safe. The Escalade explodes with acceleration back the way it came. When he uses the mirror to actually look at the road behind him, he exhales so hard that the inside of the windshield fogs up just the slightest bit. It's only for a brief moment, but he stares at it for the entirety of that moment. It's like watching those condensed water molecules evaporate causes him to realize exactly how close he - and Chuck and Sarah and Casey - were to dying. He freaks out and wishes he could wake Chuck up again.
Instead, he keeps driving. Even when the cars behind him, Demorgan included, begin swerving and swirling like an angry hive of hornets, he just keeps driving. He pushes the Escalade up to 88 miles per hour, just because he knows that they're all in for some serious shit. His fingers go white-knuckle against the steering wheel and no matter how hard he presses down on the gas pedal the wolf pack behind him gain.
Demorgan catches up enough to tap his crumpled rear bumper, and the Escalade fishtails just the slightest bit. The weight distribution is all off thanks to the crash and it takes the kind of focus only found on nights where he's downed an entire bottle of NyQuil to keep the SUV from flipping over. The other cars gather around him again like moths to a
fitting, of course, that the machines start beeping faster as time winds down. It reflects the urgency in their situation. And, of course, it contradicts the utter helplessness of having to wait before they can do anything to help. Devon finds himself counting the heartbeats as seconds, only to realize time isn't moving that fast. Then he finds himself counting the seconds as heartbeats, and worrying why their pulses have slowed so horrendously.
"We're prepared, okay?" It's stating the obvious, but Ellie is nearly hyperventilating and he figures the obvious can't hurt.
"We're prepared," she repeats.
"We know exactly what we have to do, when we have to do it."
"We know exactly what we have to do." She spits a deep, pained breath. He can see her eyes squint in heartache and pain and frustration and love.
"And when we have to do it," he says again. He wants her to say it.
"And when we have to do it."
Every muscle in her body screams tension and it's as if they're not watching the clock but watching the countdown for a bomb. She looks like she'd rather have an explosion right now than to spend one more second watching these near-lifeless bodies.
She finally looks at him, and he does his best to turn into Doctor Woodcombe in that moment. He says, "We're going to do this."
She looks like she believes him.
The clock strikes exactly
doesn't like shooting, but it's not like they're real people, anyway. So, whatever, he takes one two three four five down in quick, single-shot bursts. Right between the eyes like the Intersect taught him and Sarah's okay with it for the past eight months, a week, a moment, because she knows when it's all over none of this will have actually happened and everything will be worth it, though he privately is only hoping all of that because Sarah isn't really open on the subject.
She's too busy kung fu movie-ing everything in sight, particularly right now because it's like a freaking colony of ants that instead of clawing and scratching and biting are shooting and knifing and beating. And Casey looks like a beetle among them, so much larger and more adapted for exactly this, his limbs shooting out and breaking ants like toothpicks or his gun shooting out and, um, breaking ants like toothpicks.
They don't have much time and their holdout, while going okay, is not going to ever end, so Chuck starts ducking and shifting as he shoots, trying to make his way to the vault door. Sarah and Casey see what he's doing and must realize the exact same thing. Sarah begins pirouetting like a ballerina, her limbs slashing in wide dancer's arcs and taking down whatever is in her way and Casey becomes a bulldozer that slams into whatever is in his way and just crushes it.
A hand grabs his shoulder and he shrugs it off violently, throwing his elbow back with enough force to push nasal cartilage into brain matter but it misses and his balance is sent flying and suddenly his legs and arms are grabbed and yanked and they start pulling him away from the vault door. He yells Sarah's name, can't see her in the melee and he wonders if - of all things - how fast he dies here matters.
He closes his eyes because he doesn't really want to see what happens, but then there is this painful, agonizing noise, somewhere between a scream and an alarm and it takes him a few moments to realize it's Sarah screaming and again he gets that fear and pride in her going unhinged but he keeps his eyes closed because it's just safer for his psyche not to see all those nameless faceless bodies shot, stabbed, beaten by his girlfriend.
It's quick, her freeing of him. He feels the pressure of hands slacken within moments and there's a quick lull in reinforcements so they hurry to the vault because this - this - is exactly what they've needed and there's not a lot of time and he almost stops when he realizes that in a few seconds he's going to know, not just think, but know exactly
knows way too much about Deloreans, probably. Still, Morgan knows that he doesn't want to mess with the car's stainless steel plating, or the fiberglass body underneath that. He knows that even though the Delorean is roughly the height of - um - him, that the Escalade, especially as battered and crumpled and messed up as it is right now, won't survive the whole car chase scene/jockeying for position/running into each other thing. Instead he keeps trying to weave between the other cars, simply trying to get to the cliff.
He knows he's got about a forty-five seconds.
Which really really doesn't seem
only being a foot or two between them and their patients, Devon notices that both he and Ellie break out into a dead sprint, their hands extended, trying to get to the bodies as quickly as possible.
He feels his hands connect with their bodies in a sick sort of slow-motion. He notices how cold they feel under their clothes, notices how they bear no normal reaction to human touch. It's like they really are dead, but he shakes that for long enough to give one good, solid
can't find it and they're running out of time. Everything around them is rumbling and Chuck knows that this whole building is going to be crashing to the ground, just like the hotel they had been trapped in earlier today, two minutes ago, and he's flying around in an absolute panic because this is is one shot and if this doesn't work then nothing will. Sarah and Casey are ripping boxes from the walls, trying to find anything in the huge vault.
He stops when he figures it out because its only by everybody being quiet for a moment that he's going to find what he's looking for, and he doesn't even need to say anything because Sarah and Casey take their cues from him and he walks very slowly to the back of the room; they don't have enough time for him to be acting so theatrically, but whatever, because he feels like this is a moment that needs some import regardless of circumstance. His fingers wrap around the stainless steel of the dead center drawer on the back wall and he opens it.
Inside is a little silver charm from a charm bracelet, identical to the one he found in his dad's house almost a year, two weeks, a few days ago.
He looks at it, flashes on it, and just in time because the entire ground falls away from under them.
pretty badass how he throws the Escalade into park, the emergency break screeching and spinning the back end of the SUV around and sending all of the other cars flying by. He then puts it into reverse and just about destroys the gas pedal with his foot as he starts the vehicles backwards journey towards the wooden fence.
He stares right at the Demorgan as it comes at him, all angry and a reminder of past mistakes, and when the Escalade flies over the lip of the cliff, he can't help but think in the Delorean's direction: Neener, neener, neener.
Then the four of them hit the ground.
fall from the hospital beds is the weirdest thing Devon has ever seen as a doctor, because it goes so violently against the Hippocratic Oath and just about every standard practice of medicine that he's ever seen. Their gowned bodies hit the floor with dull thuds, barely something worth noting if it weren't for exactly what it was supposed to mean.
There's this pause. He looks sidelong at Ellie who returns the gaze back at him. He sees a million questions in her troubled glance. He opens his mouth to reply but is interrupted by a cough.
Ellie's eyes snap over to her brother like whiplash. She begins to rush over to him but midway through all the rest of them begin coughing, waking up. Immediately a wide grin spreads across Devon's face. He walks over to his brother-in-law, offering him a hand. Chuck takes it and as Chuck pulls himself to his feet with Devon's help, Devon asks, "Did you get it?"
Chuck's eyes look around for Sarah first, making sure she's okay. When he sees Ellie tending to her, he relaxes and his eyes take on a smile. "Come on," he says. "It's me."
Devon sees Ellie's heart stop. "You know? You know where Mom is?"
Before anyone can even revel in that victory, everything begins melting into Monet colors that fade away...
Chuck wakes up, and his head immediately snakes around to make sure everyone else is doing the same. When he realizes they are (when he realizes Sarah is), he springs out of bed.
The round object in his pocket had been given to him by his father: a miniature replica of the light discs that they used in Tron. He walks, his limbs weak and shaky, over to the dresser. Over his shoulder he can hear the others begin to rustle around and he wishes he could be relieved, but he's not.
He places one edge of the light disc on the dresser, his index finger of his right hand holding one side in place and his left thumb opposite it, keeping the small toy upright. With careful precision, he twists the disc, sending it spinning across the tabletop.
For several moments, it spins in place.