Just a signal. I don't have to do it.
That got him through the preparation; steadying himself, taking aim. And then the wiser self intruded. You know what you'd be doing. He wouldn't. Matron, their Matron, lost and mad and Seifer right there with her. Maybe she'd told him, reminded him, what they'd all once been, back on the shores of Centra. Maybe he'd chosen - no. No time. Choose, now. For real or to signal. Aim for the head, or the shoulder. To kill or not to kill.
At least I know what I'm giving up, he thought, and sighted on her head. Pulled the trigger, fired to kill.
The reaction was faster than the bullet itself. Blinding force lashed back along the bullet's path and struck him squarely. Irvine's hat got the luxury of staying behind, with his gun, as the rest of him was launched, airborne and backwards, with ten times the force of the bullet he'd fired.
He shouldn't really have had time to think much of anything; he remembered, afterward, the vague sight of Squall, behind the blinding white, leaping off the rooftop in the other direction - charging to the attack. /Just a signal after all/.
The other thought was a rather annoyed /and someone needs to find the intelligence team for this mission and kick their asses/.
And then explosive pain burst forth, radiating from his spine, arms, hips, legs, and the back of his head as he slammed backwards and full-body into a very solid wall. Sheer force of impact held him there exactly long enough to comprehend that he was going to die, and very soon, and then released him to fall with a thud to the street below.
Movement was not an option. Ifrit prowled around the inside of his mind, an angry lodger annoyed at his host's uselessness. Irvine released cure spells, one at a time, even as the world went dim. The last thing he heard sounded remarkably like a mob in the beginning stages of panic - which, on later reflection, was probably exactly what it was.
He woke, which was a surprise in itself. Further surprise ensued as he realized he was not in a jail but surrounded by the clean, sterile walls of a hospital. Bemused wonder filled that portion of his mind that Ifrit had not claimed for his own; miracles apparently did happen, and he owed the ghosts of his adoptive parents a sincere apology. At some point. He debated the idea of moving and opted against it; looked, instead, and realized the vaguely constrictive, nesty sensation was due to being in a body cast. Right up to the chin; probably the head wound was the only thing his spells had had time to heal. He hadn't exactly been fully stocked to start with; Squall had ordered Selphie to pass him the junction before leaving Garden, he'd drawn what he could when he could after getting over the sickening disorientation of a second presence inside his head, but he and they had assumed the assignment temporary.
"Ah, you're awake, Mr. Green," said a nurse, bustling in, and Irvine decided very quickly that in his current state he did not want to be explaining erections, so he kept his eyes on neutral territory. Such as the wall behind the nurse's head. The oddity of his name could be explained later. "How are you feeling?"
Whoa. I can talk? Go me. How the hell long have I been out? He blinked, and gave it a go. "A little tied up at the moment," he said, and found his voice rough and hoarse.
"Well, you've missed the first two weeks, and those are usually the worst," she said brightly, and proceeded to change around several plastic bags - both full and empty - that he realized with vague surprise were connected to him - bound to the cast. "I'll just adjust your pain medications...you're really very lucky to be alive, Mr. Green."
/Don't I know it/, was Irvine's personal opinion. "What happened?"
The nurse was a tease. This would have been welcome at any time other than one where his groin was buried under thick plaster. Her cleavage tried to climb up his nose while she adjusted pillows for him, and, oblivious, she continued, "You got trampled, Mr. Green. You're lucky someone helped you to the hospital, or you surely would have died in that mob."
"Nrf," was about all Irvine could manage until the cleavage retreated. Plaster was feeling very uncomfortable, and revealing definitively the presence of tubing he was very glad he hadn't been awake to notice being placed. Business. Think business. Think howling amounts of pain...ah. That helped. "Mob?"
"When those SeeD attacked our Sorceress," nodded the nurse. "It's all taken care of now, though, so don't you worry."
Ardor of any kind went walking along a beach, possibly in the vicinity of Timber. That sounded...very, very bad, actually. He smiled back at her with lead in his stomach - always be nice to the nurses that see you fed and watered when moving is not an option - and wondered just how bad "bad" was going to turn out to be. He listened carefully to the nurse explaining the voice codes for operating the television, thanked her, and was in no small way relieved when she left. He spent a good while verbally flipping channels, watching newscasts.
"Bad" was really, really, amazingly bad. Trabia Garden was rubble. Balamb Garden was rubble. Edea had ordered missile strikes. And Galbadia Garden only stood because Edea had, as she'd promised, made it her base. What happened? What happened to Squall? Zell? Quisty? Sefie?
Not questions to be asked aloud. Wherever his new identity came from, his survival depended on keeping it intact. And only one Irvine Kinneas would know the names of everyone on that mission.
He turned the television off. Staring at the ceiling had its benefits.
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