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Detective Conan: SNAFU (3/3)

Title: SNAFU (3/3)
Series: Detective Conan
Rating: PG
Pairing: None

Summary: The Whiskey Trio runs a disastrous mission; adversity may just bring them closer together - if they can all survive it.



Bourbon wakes slowly. He has a dull headache and his mouth is desert-dry. The ceiling above him is pock-marked; a fan turns lazily in it. The air is hot; sun is shining in through thin curtains over the bed.

He looks over and sees Scotch passed out on the bed beside him. While he’s tucked in under the blanket, Scotch is lying on top of it, his boots still on. His right arm is in a sling.

His broken arm.

In a moment it all comes back – Scotch falling from the beam, their being trapped under gunfire, Rye’s blowing the barrels of kerosene sky-high. The aching bullet wound in his leg. He reaches down and feels the gauze bandage tightly bisecting his thigh, feels the thick pads over the wound itself. They feel dry – no blood has seeped through.

He sighs, head dropping backwards.

Then he realises that Rye isn’t in the room with them. Another memory comes to him, this one fuzzier, of cleaning up Rye’s torn back. Of the realization that the operative had come for them at the risk of his own life. Of their promise.

He hauls himself up, pushes the blankets away, and slowly gets to his feet. His right leg nearly gives out under him and he stumbles heavily over to the wall where he catches himself with a thump. Then, leaning on the scarred plaster, he heads for the outer room.

Bourbon still feels out of it, slightly separated from the world as though by a pane of glass – invisible but present. But he’s much more aware than he was the night before, which in his memory now has a strange ghost-like feeling to it. He pads along in stocking feet – clearly someone took off his boots – until he comes to the doorway.

Rye is straddling one of the two wooden chairs in the centre of the room, his pistol on the table beside him, his eyes on the front door. There’s an ashtray full of cigarette butts near his elbow, and a smell of smoke in the air. He looks over slowly as Bourbon comes limping in.

Although Rye’s thick lashes tend to give him a perpetually-tired look, Bourbon can see the real exhaustion on his face now. His skin is translucent, his eyes heavy-lidded. Small strands of hair have slipped loose from his braid and frame his face like dark feathers; they only serve to highlight his pallor.

Bourbon leans against the doorframe and stares at him. “You look like shit. Were you up all night?”

“Someone had to keep watch. Preferably someone still able to fire a gun,” Rye adds, lips twitching but not making it as far as a smile. “Drink something; you lost a lot of blood.”

It’s hard to argue with that. Besides which, his hands are a rusty red with dried blood – much of it Rye’s. Bourbon makes his way slowly into the kitchen and turns on the sink, gently rinsing the stains from his skin before reaching down a cup. He fills it, drinking two glasses before his stomach feels full. He leans back carefully against the counter and turns to consider Rye. “I’m surprised you made that promise last night,” he says eventually.

“I’m surprised you remember,” retorts Rye. Then, more slowly, “It seemed a fair trade.”

“What?”

“My word for yours. We are equals, Bourbon. Why should I shy away from committing myself to something you are willing to? Besides, I happen to agree. If we do not protect ourselves, no one else will.”

Certainly not the Organization, thinks Bourbon. His leg is beginning to tremble; he limps over to sit in the free chair beside Rye, letting his weight down carefully. The cuts in Rye’s back are still open, newly-dried blood coating his mottled skin, discoloured by burns and lotion. He still needs stitches, Bourbon realises.

“And besides,” adds Rye, looking over to him. His cheek is resting on the chair back’s crossbar, his half-open eyes shining in the mid-morning light, “I would rather have you as a friend than an enemy.”

“So your grand gesture is really just self-serving.”

“That’s a very… you way of putting it,” drawls Rye. His eyes slide closed.

He’s practically asleep on his feet, Bourbon realises. Utterly exhausted. Now is no time to consider stitching up his back.

“You should get some rest,” he says. And then, when there’s no answer: “Rye?”

Rye’s breathing is slow and stable, just barely audible in the quiet apartment. With his watch relieved by Bourbon, he’s fallen asleep where he sits.

***

Bourbon remains sitting in the wooden chair; while the arm-chair would be more comfortable it looks deep and spongy and he’s not sure he would be able to get out of it again. He has the Organization’s secure chat open on his phone, and is typing in a message with his thumbs.

Intel confirmed as reported. Infiltration discovered at the target site; shots fired. Anonymity maintained. Class 2 injuries sustained by all operatives.

Class 1 refers to life-threatening injuries, class 2 to those which might put an operative temporarily out of service. Class 3 aren’t worth reporting.

Of course, the fact that the mission went south won’t by now be a surprise to anyone on the receiving end of his message. If everything had gone as planned they would have reported in hours ago. Bourbon sighs and presses the send button. There’s no point holding off the inevitable onslaught of accusations; if anything Gin’s ire will only grow the longer they delay.

He closes out of the chat and starts to scroll through the news sites. Ongoing election angst, forest fires, stock market gains. No news of a small fire at a warehouse south of LA. Unsurprising.

What Bourbon would really like is some morphine or, failing that, some scotch. His leg is throbbing relentlessly, sending unceasing stabs of pain through him. But all there is is vodka, not his drink of choice, and besides which he’s technically on watch.

He spends three excruciatingly sober hours working on his phone before Scotch wakes up, appearing from the bedroom with his hair standing up in a cowlick and his face drawn. “Bourbon?” he says, as he steps out.

Bourbon turns and raises a finger to his lips, pointing at Rye who’s still asleep in his chair – he’s going to have a hell of a sore neck when he wakes up. But realistically, his back will upstage whatever minor pains sleeping in a chair leave him with.

Situation? signals Scotch, movement a little clumsy with his left hand. Bourbon raises his phone.

Reported in. Awaiting reply. Situation normal.

Scotch nods, and raises his broken arm slightly. Need treatment. Going to hospital.

Roger. Bourbon gives him a half-assed wave; Scotch smiles.

Take care of RYE, he signals, spelling out Rye’s name. Bourbon nods. Scotch slips across the apartment and out the door, disappearing silently.

Bourbon goes back to his phone.

***

Rye wakes up two hours later. It’s an abrupt transition from unconsciousness to wakefulness, Rye simply sitting up as though he had only put his head down a second ago.

“What time is it?” he asks, voice rough as miles of unpaved road.

Bourbon glances at his phone. “1:30.”

Rye passes a hand over his face, long fingers running down his cheeks and over his jaw. “Did someone report in?” he asks, without looking up.

“I did. No response.”

Rye sighs. He knows as well as Bourbon does that that’s not promising. Either they’re being ignored, or Gin is mad as hell. Neither are good options.

“Scotch still sleeping?” he asks.

Bourbon puts down his phone, shaking his head. “He went to get casted.”

Rye straightens, wincing. His eyes remain narrowed with pain, the long line of his mouth thin. “Lucky him.”

“You’re going to need stitches.”

Rye glances at him. “And you’re the man for the job?”

“You know how much I like seeing you in pain,” replies Bourbon, flatly. He leans over and rummages through the first aid kit. At the bottom is a suture kit, complete with sterile sutures and a pre-packaged needle. He also finds a pair of latex gloves, and pulls them on. “Turn around.”

Rye does so slowly, partially rising and pivoting his chair until his back is to Bourbon. Before they begin he reaches out and unscrews the top of the vodka, taking a long pull.

“Fell better?” asks Bourbon, dryly.

He puts the vodka down. “No.”

There are four gashes in Rye’s back that need stitching; all have bled slightly overnight. Bourbon threads the needle and starts on the top-most one, pinching the skin together and stitching even while more blood begins to seep out. Rye is taking deep, shuddering breaths, one hand grasping the edge of the table.

Bourbon cleans each gash after he’s finished stitching it, wiping away the blood and affixing a pad of gauze over it. The long cut running parallel to Rye’s spine is the most difficult; the skin there is very tight, the ridge of his spine leaving little slack for stitches. Bourbon works as quickly as he can, pausing halfway through to let Rye take another pull from the vodka.

When he’s done the stitches look neat, if not perfectly even; Bourbon prides himself on his work, but he doesn’t have extensive first aid training. He bandages that wound as well and leans back. “Done,” he says, stripping off his bloody gloves.

Rye lets out his breath, head dropping to rest his chin on the chair back’s crossbar.

“Of course,” adds Bourbon, “We’ll have to take them out again later.”

Without looking up, Rye gives him the finger.

***

The text from Gin comes in at the same time as Scotch returns, his arm still in a sling but a new white cast now adorning it.

Congratulations, it says, Bourbon reading it aloud to the three of them, deal’s still on. You get to live.

Clearly, the wait had been to determine whether the Organization could still do business with the gang. If the deal had fallen through, retribution would have been swift and merciless.

Bourbon sighs and tosses his phone onto the table. “Well,” he says, “I guess we live another day.”

“We’re a valuable resource. Gin may have been bluffing,” says Scotch. No one contradicts him, but they all know that Gin doesn’t bluff. Failures are punished, usually by death, without consideration of the value of the asset.

“Either way, he won’t give any regard to our injuries,” points out Rye. “As soon as the next order comes in, he’ll expect full deployment.”

Bourbon looks at Scotch, leaning against the wall with his broken arm in a sling, then to Rye, folded over the chair back with his back a mess of gauze and lotion. He himself can hardly walk. They’re all three of them a complete mess. But Rye’s right, Gin won’t give that a moment’s thought in handing out assignments. “If we work together, we’ll manage,” he says. “It’s the only way for us to get through this. Right?”

Scotch nods. Bourbon looks to Rye, who glances up. His eyes shine like Chinese jade in the California sun.

“I did promise,” he says slowly, smoke spiralling lazily upwards from the cigarette between his fingers. “I keep my word.”

“Together, we can do it,” concludes Scotch.

END

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