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no one has to pull the trigger today

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Nate sets the gun on the concrete edge and walks, back straight, shoulders slumped; the weight of the world both lifted and compounded by words Sophie can't hear from their catwalk vantage point. Latimer and Dubenich just look at each other in his wake, and Sophie realizes something over the rushing in her ears that might be relief, may be the water: Nate miscalculated, just a bit, how much both hate him.

Latimer dives for the gun. Dubenich dives for Nate. Eliot –reaching the same conclusion as Sophie- blurs into motion. Nate's still walking towards safety, spine rigid, each limping step slower than the one before. Sophie sucks in a breath to yell, but her shout drowns in the water, Hardison and Parker's yells, and the echoing bark of the first gunshot.

It all happens too fast.

The bullet slams into Nate's knee, and their mastermind –their friend- goes down hard. He flounders in the blood seeping from his leg as Dubenich lunges from behind with a speed lent of desperation, grabs a handful of wounded shoulder, a fistful of crazy-curled hair, and yanks Nate upright regardless of his wordless whine of pain.

Just in time for Latimer to shoot Nate's other knee out from under him.

Dubenich's grip is the only thing keeping Nate on his feet. It's iron-strong, rough. The pudgy convict yanks the shuddering, dazed mastermind around, a look on his face that says it all: "What the hell are you doing we need him to have any hopes of surviving Spencer-" when Latimer pulls the trigger twice more, plugs Nate in both shoulders – then jams the revolver in Nate's mouth when he yowls in agony, silencing the cry and Sophie's thoughts simultaneously.

"Tell me," Latimer hisses as Nate freezes in Dubenich's clutches, eyes bleary, scared, teeth chattering against the muzzle of his father's gun, "did you count those bullets?"

The roaring in Sophie's ears turns to static; her fingers clenching so tightly on the railing that her knuckles have gone white as Latimer, ignoring Dubenich's increased babbling, pulls the trigger.

Twice.

There's only one gunshot. It has a roiling, hideously final sound that bounces off the trees, tears through the static, drowns out the click and muffles Dubenich's frantic, high-pitched denials. Latimer turns, something dazed, dirty and triumphant in his eyes. "Well. I guess he counted ri-"

The door slams open so hard the brick on the wall behind it shatters, showering Eliot with splinters and dust as he springs out like a bull, Hardison on his heels; both ignoring the way feet skid in the blood splashed over the pavement. Dubenich backpedals, but his bones snap under Eliot's fist anyway, and Latimer howls when he hits the edge and goes over.

Nate's warm, but it's still too late.

And sometimes, in the middle of the night, Sophie's certain no one came off that dam alive.