Title: Pushing the Needle (Too Far)
Character/s: Gwaine, Percival
Summary: Modern Police AU. Gwaine & Percival are on a routine patrol when danger strikes unexpectedly.
Word Count: 1170 (sorry!)
Prompt: 328 - "Whatever you're going to ask, the answer is No!"
Author's Notes: [Part 1/?] Couple of notes under the cut.
Author's Notes (cont.): 1) Police terms & structure for this fic are American, since that's what I'm familiar with. 2) Title is from the Indigo Girls song. 3) Sharp-eyed readers will note an earlier prompt lurking in here as well. This started as a fill for last week's prompt and morphed into one for this week when I got stuck in the middle.
The world welcomed Gwaine back to consciousness with a nauseatingly cheerful wave hello. He rolled over and puked.
His head was killing him. His throat felt hoarse. All his limbs seemed to be in working order, at least. And his hearing was intact — an alarm was ringing nearby. Distantly, as though through water, he could hear Freya singing. That meant something, didn’t it? Something bad. Something...
Not again, he thought. Please, not again. He’d been so careful.
“-aine? Gwaine!” She was calling him. He had to find her, had to save her—
Twelve minutes earlier, Gwaine’s radio crackled to life as he and his partner climbed out of the patrol car. Percival’s voice came out in a hiss of static. “Control, this is 612.”
His radio squawked again. “I hear you 612. Go ahead.” That sounded like Lamia, the sweetheart of the dispatch center with a crush on (and as big as) Percival.
Gwaine grinned and nudged him as they fell into step together. It was like trying to nudge a tree, and about as successful — Percival just rolled his eyes and reached for his radio. Obviously, he was still in denial. To Lamia, he said, “Control, we’re off at Danforth and Canterbury for a park and walk.”
The secret to a good ribbing, Gwaine had learned, was all in the timing. So instead of mentioning Percival’s (currently non-existant) love life, he turned his attention to the job.
The building that stood at the corner of Danforth and Canterbury Street had been abandoned twenty years ago and looked it. Once a commercial building, the original owners had gone belly-up during the ‘92 recession and sold it to a group of Neo-Druids for conversion into an urban nemeton. The Druids had apparently done well for a while — well enough to commission a fancy wildlife mural to cover the bland storefront and install beds for a community garden — but not well enough to escape the Collins riots six years later.
Gwaine eyed it with distaste as he tugged his vest down. Nowadays the mural was buried under layers of graffiti tags and the concrete grove offered sanctuary only to night folk — hookers, their johns and janes, addicts and the dealers who preyed on them, homeless squatters taking shelter from the streets — you name it. With no upkeep to speak of, the place had fallen into garbage-filled ruin. It was one of the biggest trouble spots in the city and therefore the first to be suggested for Captain Bailey’s new ”Park & Walk” program.
Tonight, though, there seemed to be no one about. Lucky thing, that. It left him free to resume his current quest — getting Percival laid. The rookie was so painfully uptight, shy even, that it seemed an impossible task. Gwaine lived for impossible tasks. “Lamia’s really something, isn’t she?”
“Don’t even start, Gwaine.” Percival turned his head away as if scanning the grounds. Were his cheeks turning pink? Adorable.
“Sure, sure.” Gwaine shrugged and held his hands up in surrender. “I’m just saying. Have you ever thought—?”
“Whatever you’re going to ask, the answer is no.”
“You didn’t ever hear the question!”
“I don’t need to, do I? It’s always the same thing with you—” An ear-splitting shriek drowned out the rest of his words.
Gwaine felt a familiar shot of adrenaline kickstart his heart. His eyes found Percival’s and saw the same thought forming there — that came from inside. They took off for the entrance at a sprint. Over his shoulder, Gwaine heard Percival call in to dispatch. Trusting him to follow suit, Gwaine reached for his gun and shoved his way inside, sweeping his sights across the front hall. Clear. Coat room — clear. Altar room — also clear.
A loud crash echoed from behind the main altar, leaving an eerie silence in its wake. Percival tapped Gwaine’s arm and gestured to a door, hidden by dust-covered fake vines, then to his ear. Straining to hear, Gwaine caught the edge of a quiet sob. There was someone in there. He nodded back.
Three, two, one —
Gwaine went in first, gun and flashlight steady in front of him, Percival just over his right shoulder.
The door swung open easily onto a dark room. A quick sweep revealed scattered plastic chairs, a table shoved against the near wall, and a row of cabinets, doors hanging open and peeling motivational posters fluttering, above a countertop strewn with trash. A kitchenette, maybe, or a former break room. More trash and bits of plaster covered the floor.
Empty. Gwaine felt his hackles rising. Then he noticed the slight figure hunched into a fetal position in the farthest corner.
It was a kid. Young. Fifteen at most, swallowed up by a baggy sweatshirt and loose fitting jeans. He barely twitched as they crept over the threshold. Nodding his intent to Percival, Gwaine crouched down in front of him. “Hi there. I’m Officer Greene, and the big guy is Officer O’Dare. He doesn’t bite, I promise. We’re going to take care of you.”
The kid didn’t move. Behind him, Percival asked, “Are you hurt? Did someone scare you?”
Silence. Gwaine dared to shuffle closer. “Kid. Hey, kid. Can you hear me?” A floorboard creaked under him.
“NO!” With a jerk, the kid came to life. His face reared up, eyes darting blindly around, hands flung out in a warding gesture. “Back, stay back! Stay—”
“—it’s alright, calm down—!”
“Easy—easy now! You’re safe, we’re not going to hurt you!” Gwaine held up a placating hand, holstering his gun with the other.
Still staring, the kid stopped shouting. His breath rattled out, eyes flicking to the floor, the flashlights, the open doorway, back to the floor, in a continuous motion. For a moment Gwaine was thought he might try to run. Instead he whimpered and folded himself back up into a tight ball.
Sensing an opportunity, Gwaine tried again. “What happened? Why did you scream like that?” The kid shook his head roughly but said nothing. “Are you hurt? In danger?”
“...yes.” His voice was low and hoarse, barely audible.
“Yes, you’re in danger? Or yes, you’re hurt?”
But the kid’s attention had drifted back to the door. Growing manic, he mumbled, “...coming back, coming… please, I didn’t — I don’t want to die!”
“Hey, no one’s dying, you hear me?” Alarmed, Gwaine moved closer and felt something crunch underfoot. He had only a moment to look down at the white ring of powder and think a drug? Meth, cocaine? before a sudden gust of wind slammed the door against its jam.
The kid screamed. His eyes widened impossibly further — flat black eel’s eyes, fixed over Gwaine’s shoulder — and his jaw dropped as though pried open. His face sunk to a sickly blue-grey shade in the flashlight beam which—flickered—
In the darkness, the scream was a banshee’s cry, a bone-jarring vibration that took the sky down with it as it fell. The world exploded.