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28 December 2009 @ 03:34 pm
Keep Breathing - The Rangers - Part 1/1  
This is the story I mentioned last night that put me through a ringer... I hope you guys like it.

I mention the team (specifically referred to collective as 'The Rangers' because of Jo Lupo's status as a former US Army Ranger, other teams are/were called other things) as caring P-90s. These are real submachine guns, and they are the weapon of choice in the Stargate 'Verse. They became standard issue for the SGC Teams in about 2000, and were standard issue for the Atlantis Expedition. One of it's pluses is armour piercing capabilities. For more In-Universe information, check here on the Stargate Wikia.

'The Trust' is another Stargate 'verse thing. They are an interplanetary terrorist group who's priority is gaining new technologies, even if they have to destroy other, non-earther, humans to do so. They want the tech for the sake of power and money. And now that money is worthless following the apocalypse, they are focusing on technology so they can rule the world. Yeah, pleasant folks there. For more information, look here also at the Stargate Wiki.

I also mention 'Croats' and 'Croatons', which are from Supernatural. These are people infected with a virus that causes the same kinda reaction as the Rage Virus in 28 Days Later. Basically? Living Zombies who will tear you apart without any hesitation. Essentially, this is a future that was partially inspired by the SPN episode 'The End', where Dean was sent into a possible future, apocalyptic of course, and dealt with a world in ruins. For more info on the 'Croats' and the episode 'The End', go here and here. Also, for info on 'The End', try here. All links go to Winchester-Journals, which is an awesome SPN resource site.

Yeah, this world is totally fucked up.



4. The Rangers

"Hang a right in about 15 feet," Ryan told Jo as they crept down the hall, their footsteps almost silent from practice and necessity.

"What the hell is this place?" Riggins muttered as they moved past a patch of dented and cracked concrete wall.

"Doesn't matter," Jo said firmly as they turned the corner, effectively silencing them. "We've got a job to do, let's do it and get out."

"Here we go," Ryan said, moving to the solid door and beginning to pick the lock.

"Thank God for power outages, electronic locks would be a bitch," Faith said, watching Ryan work and wishing for a moment that she had half his finesse with things like that, instead of her usual break it down method.

"Got it," Ryan said, moving back to let Jo with her guns go through first, followed by Faith with her speed and stamina. He and Riggins brought up the rear, their P-90's out and ready.

The room they'd entered was empty, though, at least of living people. A noisy generator powered the morgue freezers that lined one wall and kept the room itself chilled.

"Spread out, see if he's here," Jo said, moving to the first of the drawers while Faith took a defensive position near the door.

They made quick work of the drawers, rapidly checking, then closing each one until finally Ryan opened one to see a familiar face. "Got him," he called, his voice just loud enough to care over the noise of the generator.

Riggins took Faith's place by the door so the Slayer could join Ryan and Jo at the slab. "Looks like he put up one hell of a fight," Jo commented.

"He would," Faith agreed, one hand moving to rest on the center of the dead man's chest. "Spike..."

As the name slid past her lips, the man's eyes snapped open and he jerked upwards, only to have Faith slam him back down. "Let go of me bitch!" he yelled, fighting her.

"I'll let you up when I'm sure you're not gonna feed on my team," Faith said firmly.

"When's the last time they gave you blood?" Ryan asked.

"Two days after capture," Spike said, calmer now.

"No fangs, or you get staked, got it?" Faith said, letting Spike sit up.

He moved slowly, stiffly. "Hell," he muttered.

"No way is he gonna be able to move on his own, let alone run or fight," Ryan said, kneeling down to open his pack.

"Yeah, well, he's not feeding on anyone to get strong enough," Jo said. "If he can't keep up, he gets left behind, mission priority be damned."

"We'll find a tasty guard," Faith promised.

"No need," Ryan said, straightening up with a vial in his hands. "Fresh drawn this morning," he told Spike as he unscrewed the cap and held it out. "Well? Drink up."

"What the hell?" Jo asked as Spike gulped it down, pausing only to catch the dribble from the corner of his mouth and sweep it back into his mouth with a fingertip.

"Good blood, powerful," Spike said as he finished, getting to his feet and already looking better.

"Who's blood was that?" Faith asked.

"Does it matter?" Ryan asked, repacking his gear, then shouldering his bag. "Let's get out of here."

They made it halfway down the long hallway before a patrol came around the corner. For a moment, both sides froze, but the Rangers moved first, raising guns and taking aim. They took down three guards before the others could raise their weapons, and it was a good start that ended just as quickly as it started when a second patrol appeared at the opposite end of the hall, leaving the Rangers in the middle. Ryan and Faith took the second batch, leaving Jo and Riggins to handle the first, and Spike to lob a grenade from Jo's pack down the hall whenever there was the briefest of openings to do so without risking the other Rangers.

As he took down one of the men, Ryan felt a sudden pain in his back, but forced himself to ignore it as he ducked into an alcove for cover, sinking to the floor. He tried to lift his P-90 to check his ammo, but suddenly found he didn't have the strength to get it off the floor, and instead opted for his hand gun as he heard the guards advancing. He took a deep breath, then leaned out, getting off two quick shots that took out two different guards, before ducking back behind the support as the other guards turned their attention to him.

It was over in a few minutes, with Spike trying to convince Jo to let him take a couple gulps before the blood stopped pumping, but Ryan found himself struggling to focus. "F... Faith?" he called, trying to get up but unable to do much more than scuff his feet on the floor, feeling them slip in pooled blood that he figured was probably his own. He hazarded a glance down at his chest, and saw a mess of torn flesh and muscle, realizing what the pain before had been. "Faith?" he called again, just a little louder, but this time she heard him.

"Fuck," Faith said when she got to him, her hands immediately going to his wound and making him choke down a scream of pain. "Fuck..."

"I think I got hit," Ryan said, his mouth going dry as he stated the obvious. "I don't think... I don't think I can move..."

"Ry..." Faith whispered, looking at the wound, then back up at him.

"Shit," Jo said, grabbing the first aid kit from her pack and put pressure on the wounds to slow the bleeding. "You're going to be okay," she said.

"Yeah, absolutely," Faith said. "Dean'll kill us all if you're not."

Ryan chuckled weakly. "He... the first time I met him... he had a bullet in his side... he ever tell you that?"

"No," Faith said.

"I told... I told Soph to close her eyes, and then I took a pocket knife, and I dug the bullet out, and I stitched him up, and... and he was okay..."

"You'll be okay, too," Jo repeated.

"No, I won't," Ryan said, his breaths coming quick. "I don't wanna die here..." he said.

"You're not going to," Faith replied.

"I don't wanna leave Soph all alone..."

"You are going to be fine," Jo repeated once more, grabbing Ryan's chin to make him look at her. "That's an order, Ranger."

Ryan nodded slightly. "I wanna go home," he said after a moment. "I know... I just wanna go home..."

"We're going now, as soon as we get you moving," Faith said.

"Slayer," Spike said, his voice quite, tone almost soft. When Faith reluctantly left Ryan's side, he pulled her down the hall a bit. "I know wounds, caused enough of 'em in my time... he's lost too much blood already."

"I know," Faith said, looking back over her shoulder towards Ryan and the pool surrounding him. "Trust me, I know."

~~~

Usually vehicles were left a mile away from camp and teams returned on foot, all meant to keep the quiet and lessen the chances of Croats finding them. So when Dean and Jack heard the roar of the rusty jeep's engine, they knew something was wrong. Dean didn't bother grabbing his crutches, moving just that fraction faster without them than he would with them, and followed the faster Jack outside and towards camp center as everyone else poured out of the cabins, guns at ready.

The jeep stuttered to a stop, and Riggins was out in an instant, running for the supply room while yelling at Chloe to get the key or he'd shoot off the lock, and Jo was yelling to them to start a fire in the lodge, where they performed the rare surgeries they even bothered to try. And Faith... Faith was the back, Spike leaning over her shoulder, cradling someone against her chest with heard bowed and shoulders trembling slightly.

Jack got to the jeep first, his own stop nearly as lurching and sudden as the jeep's had been, and he almost immediately turned to grab Dean, to stop him from seeing.

"No..." Dean said, trying to pull free because he could see the dirty blonde hair where a head rested against Faith's arm, and he could see the fear and the grief on the Slayer's face when she looked up. "No!" Dean yelled, hitting at Jack to try to get out of his grip, try to get to Ryan's side. "No! That's my brother!" he screamed, not even realizing it was the same thing he'd said a year ago when he'd watched Sam face down Lucifer to save him, save Dean, from being killed by an army of Croats.

His frantic screams snapped everyone else from their stupors, Matt running to help unload Ryan, while Tyra, one arm wrapped around her stomach, ran to help Riggins and Chloe with the limited medical supplies.

Jack forced Dean further way as Faith, Matt, and Spike carried Ryan's limp body towards the lodge. "Let me go!" Dean yelled, fighting with everything he had in him, distantly aware of the pain in his knee but not caring. "Damn it, Jack!"

"You don't need to see this!" Jack replied.

"He needs me!" Dean snapped. He reacted on instinct then, going for his last possible means to get away, and pulled his knife, slamming it into Jack's throat and then breaking free as the man died. Some of the others, mostly the newer arrivals, gasped and someone screamed, but by the time he got to the steps, he heard Jack gasping back to life and calling him an asshole. Dean ignored it all as he ran to Ryan, dropping down by the younger man's head to see the wound. "Bullet still in or was it through and through?" he asked in a choked voice.

"I don't..." Chloe began.

"Through and through," Faith said, from where she was using her knife, the wicked looking one she'd once said was a gift from a pure demon, to cut away Ryan's jacket and shirt. "One hit, both an entrance and an exit wound," she continued.

"Who'd we figure out was his blood type?" Dean asked, trying to remember.

"Harris," Spike supplied.

"Go get him," Chloe told a hovering Riggins. "Go!" she added. She looked at Dean. "Do you know what to do?"

Dean nodded. "Had to do it once when my dad got shot and we couldn't get help in time," he hesitated, looking at the mangled flesh and muscle. "We need to stitch him up first or a transfusion won't do any good. Chloe, do you think you can keep your hands steady or do you need me to do it?"

"I can do it," Chloe said, pulling on a pair of gloves as an already gloved Tyra laid out the equipment. "Just hold him still in case he wakes up. Because I don't think drugging him is a good idea right now."

"It's not," Dean agreed, his face stony. "I'll talk you through it, princess, don't worry," he added, even though his own face was full of fear and doubt.

"Dean?"

Dean's entire face changed at Ryan's quiet, weak, voice. His expression went softer, gentler, and the fear and doubt were replaced with calm. "Hey," he said, swiping a hand across Ryan's forehead to remove some of the sweat. "Didn't we have a talk about only one of us being allowed a serious injury?"

"Mine's more serious, so you gotta be fine, right?" Ryan joked weakly.

"Nah, you weren't suppose to get hurt in the first place, remember? Because I'm a selfish ass who decided to get my knee fucked up before you could get hurt."

"Guess you should have told that to those guards, huh?" Ryan said.

"Knew I forgot something," Dean agreed. "We're gonna fix you up, okay? You're gonna be fine."

"If I'm not..."

"You are."

"Dean."

"What?"

"If I'm not okay, take care of Soph. Please..."

"You know I will," Dean promised. "But I won't have to because you will be fine."

Ryan nodded, the movements jerky. "It's really bad, isn't it?"

"Nah, just a scratch," Dean said.

"You wouldn't be laying it on so thick if it was nothing," Ryan pointed out.

"You are such a bad liar, Winchester," Faith agreed, moving so that she could hold Ryan down if he reacted to the pain. "Chloe, you need to get started," she said, looking up at the wide eyed girl.

"But he's..."

"I can't feel it," Ryan interrupted. "It doesn't hurt, and I know that's bad, so just do it so maybe it won't be so bad anymore."

"Do it," Jack ordered, moving to hold Ryan's legs, just in case.

"There's blood on your neck, Jack," Ryan said, confused.

"Someone thought stabbing me in the throat was a good idea," Jack replied with a forced smile, looking at Dean.

"You were keeping me from getting to my brother, what was I suppose to do?" Dean asked. "But... sorry."

"No killing the boss, Dean," Ryan said, looking up at him with a shaky grin. "It's bad for... bad for moral..."

"See, this is why you'll be fine. What would I do without those little gems of wisdom?"

"Get yourself in deeper trouble?" Faith offered.

"Chloe, just do it now," Dean repeated, seeing the uncertainty on the woman's face. "He's not gonna fix himself, so you need to do it now."

"Right," Chloe agreed, casting one last glance at Ryan's pale face before going to work trying to repair the damage while Dean talked her through it.

~~~

"I'll take a shift," Faith offered as she found Dean still at Ryan's side hours later, hours after the team had finished giving Jack their report on what had happened and gotten some food. Faith had even gotten some sleep in before coming back to find Dean in the same position he'd been in from the moment Chloe put in the final stitches.

"I'm fine," Dean replied, watching Ryan for any sign of consciousness, movement... any sign of life.

"It's not going to do him any good to have you exhausted and sick when he wakes up," Faith said, sitting down in front of Dean, where she could see Ryan's face as well. "Go get some food, and some sleep..."

"I'm not leaving him," Dean said firmly.

"He told me about the bullet in your side when you guys met."

"He saved me life," Dean said. "I don't even know... he'd been on his own for a week, since the refugee center him and his family were in was over run. Just a 21 year-old architecture student and his 4 year-old sister."

"Architecture? That's what he'd studying?" Faith asked.

"He told me once that math was comforting," Dean said, letting out a quiet chuckle. "I told him he was crazy, and he told me it was because math couldn't lie. Two plus two? Is always gonna be four. Five minus three is always gonna be two..." he paused, looking down at Ryan and brushing back sweat soaked hair from the boy's head. "He always got sad when he said that second part..." he concluded.

"His family," Faith said. "He had a brother, and parents... And they're all gone. But you, and me, and everyone else here that loves him is here. He is not alone, and he'll be fine."

Dean nodded, wanting to believe her but not able to. "How's Xander?" he asked.

"Sleeping," Faith replied. "Tyra's watching him, Spike's keeping guard for them." She laughed at Dean's skeptical expression. "She'll shoot him if he so much as licks his lips," she added.

"I taught her well," Dean said with a slight grin. "Girl didn't even know how to load a gun when we found her."

"And didn't know how to throw a stake until I found you amateurs," Faith added, reaching out to run her fingers through Ryan's hair as the boy's lips parted in a soft, pained, moan. "Runt?" she asked softly. "You with us?"

"Faith?" Ryan asked, eyes blinking open but seemingly not seeing her even though she was right in front of him.

"I'm right here," Faith said, cradling his cheek in her hand. "So's Dean," she added.

"We're not going anywhere, okay?" Dean said. "Just rest, we'll be right here when you wake up."

"Do you need anything for the pain?" Faith asked.

"Doesn't hurt," Ryan said before drifting unconscious again, unaware of the fearful glances being exchanged over his head.

~~~

"We've got new arrivals incoming," Jack said as he crouched down near the trio a few days later. "It's gonna get noisy in here, so do you wanna try to..."

"He won't know any difference," Dean said, unable to keep the defeat out of his voice as he tugged the blanket a little tight around Ryan's still body, the only movement a slow, uneven, rise and fall of the shattered chest. "He's as good as dead already."

"Dean," Jack began.

"He hasn't woken up in four days," Dean said. "He hasn't moved in two, and he hasn't even made a sound in a day. He's dead, he just hasn't stopped breathing yet."

"Dean, he might..." Jack tried again.

"Don't," Faith said warningly. "We don't need or want any fucking pity words of comfort. Save 'em for the next people to lose someone."

"Sir?" Matt called quietly to Jack, playing up the military aspects for the newbies they could all hear out on the veranda.

"Bring them in," Jack said, casting one last disheartened look at Ryan before getting to his feet to face the small crowd of newcomers. "I'll tell you up front, if you join us, you do whatever you can to help. And nothing guarantees safety," he added, looking down at the trio. "Five days ago, one of my teams went on a mission to save a captured member of our group from The Trust. They were ambushed and one of their number was shot in the back with a high caliber weapon. He's still breathing, but he hasn't woken up in four days, hasn't moved in two, and hasn't made a sound in a day. He's dead but his body doesn't know it yet. He's also not the first person we've lost to a long, lingering, death. So if you wanna hole up somewhere and hide? This isn't the place, isn't the group, for you. We fight, with everything we have, for as long as we have."

Faith got to her feet, catching a half hearted eagerness on Xander's face but ignoring it. "He fought the good fight, and we expect everyone here to do the same."

"You know we will," a voice said, and Faith leaned against the couch, a mixture of relief and annoyance washing over her.

"About time you got here, B. Could've used the back up this past year."

"Sorry, we were busy trying to control the apocalypse in Scotland."

"How'd that go?" Faith said.

"Compared to there? This is a paradise," Giles admitted.

Faith let out a harsh chuckle. "My hell is your heaven, figures," she said, looking back at Dean and Ryan. "I'm gonna go check on Soph," she told the Hunter.

"Thanks," Dean said.

"I'll bring back a knife," she added.

"Thanks," Dean repeated, his voice cracking slightly.

"What's she talking about 'a knife'?" a blonde girl asked Jack.

"He doesn't deserve this," Dean said before Jack could. "He deserves better than laying here dying for god knows how long before he does. We made a deal, him, me, and Faith. If it came down to it, if one of us were dying, the others wouldn't let them suffer."

"Peter..." the girl said, turning to the dark haired man who's hands were on her shoulders, gripping them like he was trying to control her actions, and maybe his own.

"I... I was a paramedic," the man, Peter, said. "Maybe..."

"He's already dead," Dean repeated. "His body just hasn't realized it."

"Maybe there's something I can do," Peter tried again, a little more force in his voice.

Dean had known psychics, he knew what it felt like to have someone pushing at his mind, and he made sure his wall was firmly in place as he settled Ryan's head on a pillow and got up, his leg stiff from being still so long. As he stood, he drew his gun, seeing Jack's was already up, and both Matt and Xander were drawing theirs. "We don't give a damn if your psychic, but don't fucking try to mess with our heads," Dean growled.

"I can help him," Peter repeated, through the pressure on their minds had dropped immediately at the sight of the guns.

Now that he stood, Dean could see a girl, maybe 10 years old, clinging to one of the blonde girl's hands and gripping Peter's jacket in her hand. "No, you can't," Dean said. "If I thought there was anything..."

"Have you heard of the people popping up with... abilities?" Peter said. "People who fly, and people who walk through walls? The bank robbery in New York where the robbers sent out concussive blasts from their hands?"

"Yeah..."

"I'm one of them," Peter said. "I can copy any power I come in contact with. And I once came in contact with someone who could heal from any injury as long as their brain was intact. If you let me, I can draw some of my blood and give it to him," Peter said. "Maybe you're right, maybe he's too far gone and it won't work. But maybe it can save him and bring him back."

Dean hesitated, his gun hand wavering slightly, and the others waited, watching Dean for their cue. Even Jack was willing to follow Dean's lead, even though he wanted to yell, to demand, that Dean accept the offer because they needed Ryan. They needed his intelligence and his sense of duty, and his heart. "I'm watching you," Dean finally said, loweirng his gun and gesturing for Peter to come over to Ryan.

"I need to get a needle," Peter said, gesturing at his bag and waiting for Dean to nod before he opened up a pocket and removed a more advanced first aid kit than they had. He tied off his arm quickly, then drew the blood and after flicking it to rid it of bubbles, he tugged Ryan's arm into position and worked to find a vein before inserting the needle, slowly pushing the plunger. "We should know if it worked in a minute or two," he said, moving back a little.

Ryan took a deep shuddering breath after a moment, and Dean dropped down beside him. "Ry?"

Ryan slowly blinked open his eyes, confused. "Dean?" he asked, slowly pushing himself upright.

"Shit," Xander said.

Faith came back, Riggins, Jo, and Spike close behind, just as Dean broke into a grin and pulled Ryan into a hug to keep the boy from seeing the tears rolling down his face.

"Oh my God," Faith whispered before dropping her knife to run over and drop down beside them, reaching out to touch Ryan's arm as though she thought he wasn't real. "How..." she whispered.

"Peter here's one of those people with abilities," Dean said, pulling back to look at Ryan again, seeing the confusion build as the boy looked down, touching his hand to the bandages around his chest and pressing in. "He's got magically healing blood."

"I can duplicate the abilities of other people with... abilities," Peter explained. "I know someone who can heal from just about anything, so..."

"You can heal from just about anything," Ryan said, getting it even if he still seemed to be in shock.

"Ry?" Dean repeated.

"I had a hole big enough to shove a fist through in my chest," Ryan replied. "And now... I think it's gone..." He took another breath letting out a laugh. "And I think my ulcer's gone too, because I'm fucking starving and it isn't burning." He looked up. "Are you gonna keep staring or are you going to get me some food, Dean?"

Faith laughed, wrapping her arms around Ryan's shoulders and holding on. She took comfort from the feel of his hand coming up to grip her forearm and his forehead pressing into her shoulder. "I missed having help mocking him," she whispered.

"After a while, she starts to really suck at it," Dean agreed.

They were so caught up in their relief, that none of them noticed that the blonde girl had walked around the worn couch and was staring. "Ryan?" she whispered.

Ryan lifted his head, stunned, then pulled away from Faith to stand, though he wobbled slightly, weak from not moving even though his wounds were healed. "Claire?" he replied.

The blonde, Claire, smiled and nodded, moving forward to grab Ryan as he stumbled in his step towards her, the two of them holding on to each other as tightly as Faith and Dean had held on to Ryan moments before. "I thought for sure..." Claire whispered.

"I saw you..."

"I'm the one Peter knows that heals," Claire said. "Apparently, healing goes hand in hand with immunity, because... no infection."

Ryan cradled her face in his hands. "I don't care how, I'm just glad you're here," he said.

The End

The points I actually teared up? Ryan telling Faith he didn't want to die and leave Soph, Dean screaming at Jack to let him go to Ryan, Ryan asking Dean to take care of Soph, Dean and Faith's hopelessness when Jack suggested they move Ryan so he wouldn't be bothered by the noise, and finally I was tearing up right alongside Dean when Ryan sat up alive and okay. Ryan's reunion with Claire didn't lessen the tears, either... lol
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on December 29th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
I love the story of course. You are the only author that I know that is able to make so many different characters from different stories flow together. I love the faith dean ryan relationship. It is always good in any story that has those three. great job. I like how you had heroes characters in the stories and I am interested in the ryan/claire pairing. Of course ryan is great with anyone as you have already proven : )
garnigalgarnigal on December 29th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
I love it! These huge multiverse apocafics are always so heartrending and wonderful.

Thank you.
fifimom on December 30th, 2009 06:15 am (UTC)
Sweetie you really pulled my heart strings with this one. Wow, very emotional, very good. Thank you for writing and sharing.