In the movies, things always seemed to slow down when someone got shot, at least when it was one of the good guys - you'd get music, too, and people screaming inaudibly, and half the time, you could tell if they were going to make it (if they were going to live) by what kind of music it was.
Clearly, this was not a movie, which was just his luck, really. If anyone'd ever asked him how he wanted to die, he'd have said fast. Make it quick, make it clean, and make it him alone, nobody else around to look back and think if only I had.
Two out of three had probably been the best he could have hoped for all along.
"Gee," Sam said, which seemed mild, given the circumstances, but then he said: "You fucker." which explained things; that first bit hadn't been 'gee' as in 'golly, Miss Molly', it'd been 'G' as in his name.
"Ambulance is on its way." Kensi, occasionally the practical one. If he found out Sam hadn't been the one to call 9-1-1, he'd be disappointed. Always keep a cool head, that was Sam.
Always beating himself up over other people's mistakes or misfortunes, that was Sam, too. That boxing bag back at the office was in for one hell of a beating again this evening, and possibly all week.
"What's that bag ever done to you, huh?"
"Did he say something?" Kensi looked like she was going somewhere, except not backwards, but upwards; like he was sinking, maybe, except that he was lying down (in Sam's lap, and God, of all the times to get his mouth close to Sam's cock, it would have to be now, of course, when he really didn't feel up to doing anything about it).
Sam's face came closer, close enough to kiss, but his eyes were worried, not like he was thinking of sex or anything, which, okay, fair enough.
" - need to - " Sam said, which was perfetly unhelpful.
"You've got to speak up, I can't hear you."
"Don't - me," said Sam, and he looked halfway to angry now.
Coping mechanism, Nate said, as if G hadn't figured that out by himself - and it was such a common one, too; don't get sad, get mad. "Don't get mad, get even."
He hoped they'd gotten the guy who shot him. Fucker deserved -
"Fifty over seventy," someone said, which might be a score or something - sports game, maybe.
His chest tingled, then hurt, and then his lungs felt -
" - losing him," another someone said.
"Hey," G said, thinking where's Sam, is Sam all right, has anything happened to Sam?.
"Did - thing?" the first someone said.
"- can't - " the second someone said, and G thought well, obviously, because clearly, whatever they were trying to do wasn't working out so well, and small wonder; they should be -
"I prefer the attaque au fer," Hetty said and G opened his eyes.
Hospital, spacious, private room. Flowers, on the nightstand, three bouquets. Hetty, Nate and Eric, because Kensi didn't like flowers and Deeks would do whatever Kensi did and Sam -
Hetty looked at him seriously. "You're in a hospital room, Mr Callen, and very lucky to be here," which wasn't an answer to his question at all, and also, he rather begged to differ about that 'lucky'.
"Careless, reckless behavior I would not even have expected from a rookie," Hetty said, which didn't sound like Sam at all either, except that Sam had been upset, of course, and angry and worried, and upset, angry, worried people did stupid things sometimes.
Hate these, but hope you'll like them. Deeks picked them. one of the small cards with the flowers said, so it appeared he'd been wrong just now: Kensi and Deeks had sent flowers (and together, even) so maybe Sam had, too.
"Hetty?" He'd only turned away for a moment, and just like that, she'd left, which didn't seem like her at all, unless she'd thought he'd turned to read the card because he wanted to be left alone, but that didn't sound very logical either, since she'd surely realize he'd want to know about Sam and she hadn't told him anything. She'd only talked about him, except for the part where someone'd acted worse than a rookie, and that couldn't be Sam, surely.
"G, you fucker," Sam said, and G thought what did I do now? because Sam generally kept things clean (quick and clean, he remembered thinking, except that hadn't been about Sam at all - that had been about how he wanted to die, and Sam wasn't dead).
His legs felt wobbly, and he was lying down, and all the noise around him seemed to be fading in and out, like he was watching a movie with the speakers turned all the way up, except that the sound system was malfunctioning.
Sam could have fixed it, probably, or maybe just switched it off, but Sam was right behind him, holding him up, more or less, and if G was honest, he didn't really want Sam to move.
"I need you to stay with me, all right?" Sam said, as if G was struggling to get away, instead of struggling to keep his eyes open, his mind working, because someone'd just - and he needed to -
" - wake?" Sam asked, and he looked perfectly fine, except for the fact that he looked like he hadn't slept or eaten in a week or thereabouts, so not fine at all, really.
He was clearly alive, though. "I was until you shouted at me," G said.
"I thought I'd lost you," Sam said, and G noticed that second I - taking responsibility where none is due, Nate said, and G remembered the Sam in his dream? memory? telling him: "I need you to stay with me", which didn't sound like Sam making himself responsible at all.
It did sound like Sam thinking G was like his favorite watch or pair of sunglasses or something, but G could sort of live with that. He regularly thought of Sam in much the same way, after all. Mine, even if Sam had never said or done anything to confirm that.
So how many years've you guys been married? Deeks had said one time, and Kensi had grinned and Sam had chuckled and G had thought two months, sixteen days after I met you, because he liked to keep track of things. Well over fifteen years now.
"What day is it?"
"Tuesday," Sam said. "August 16th."
"Damn." That meant he'd missed the game.
"You missed the game," Sam said.
"I took Hetty. Turns out she's a fan, too."
Sam grinned at him. "I need you to stay with me," he'd said, but there'd been something else, too, after that. "Deeks took Kensi."
"Kensi took Deeks, you mean." Even if Deeks might have been the one Sam had given his tickets to, because the second time they'd met, they'd beaten the crap out of each other, and G had sat in a room too far away to intervene, watching. Hoping. Praying. Shouting quietly, in his head, where nobody had ever been able to hear him, which was the way he'd always liked it, before.
"Ambulance is here," Kensi had said, and then Sam had said: "Hang in there, okay?" and then: "Careful, it's bad." and G hadn't made a single sound when they'd moved him into the ambulance, even though he'd really wanted to.
"You have to let it out," Nate had said, but he'd waited until he was sure, absolutely sure there wasn't anybody around anymore who could hear him.
He didn't need people worrying about him; there'd still been a shooter on the loose, and everybody always got distracted when someone you knew went down; it was inevitable.
"You fucker." and that was Sam caring, right there - covering up his real emotions with anger, the way he always did, because it was safer that way, just like G did, except that G didn't use anger.
"Love you, too, Sam."
It was amazing, the truths people would let slip right past them if you made it sound like you were joking. Like Deeks, always flirting with Kensi as if it didn't mean anything. Like Kensi, always turning him down, which would have been hell to deal with if G'd been the one flirting with her, he thought, but Deeks didn't seem to let it get to him.
"Sam?" Sam didn't turn people down cold, even when they were joking. Sam just took it - took everything you wanted to throw at him, and then some more, no matter how shitty it was.
G hoped he'd been able to find some sort of punching bag nearby.
"I need you to stay with me, all right?" Sam said, and his arm was moving around G, like an awkward hug, and all the background sounds sort of faded until Kensi came back to say the ambulance was there, and Sam said: "Careful, it's bad," when they lifted him into the ambulance.
There was blood on Sam's shirt, and G wanted to ask him if it was all his, if Sam had gotten hit, too, but then they closed the doors and someone said: "Shit, I don't think he's going to make it," and everything went dark.
"It's not uncommon for the mind to block out certain parts of a traumatic event," Nate said. He'd brought a fruits basket instead of flowers and Eric and Hetty had chipped in and now G had a fruits basket that came with an encyclopedia so that he could look up the fruits he didn't know, which was most of them, and also several sorts of tea.
Maybe Sam would want some, next time he came by. "It wasn't a traumatic event. It was something Sam said."
"Something Sam said while you'd just gotten shot," Nate said. "You can always ask him, although there's a small risk hearing the actual words will trigger the traumatic memory to resurface. Given how much you do remember, though, it seems doubtful it'll be anything too bad."
"I'll do that."
Nate nodded, looked like he wanted to say something else. Didn't.
"He probably just said he was going to kill me if I died on him." That sounded like Sam.
"He'd have had to get in line," Nate said.
"Careless, reckless behavior," Hetty had said, and she hadn't been talking about Sam, too overwhelmed by anger and misplaced guilt to keep his head.
She'd been talking about him. "I did what I needed to do. What needed doing."
"You survived," Nate said. "They'll probably cut you some slack for that."
"I said a lot of things," Sam said, and G knew that wasn't true; Sam had only said four, maybe five things, and he already knew three of them.
Sam's expression turned vaguely annoyed. "Okay?" "You fucker."
"Hey, if you don't want to talk about it, that's fine. I'm not going to force the issue." Frontal assaults had never worked well on Sam; he was well grounded, saw you coming. Stood his ground, solid as a rock. (That's what this love is.) You had to be a little bit sneaky.
Sam snorted, relaxing again. Letting his guard back down, or seeming to. "I'd like to see you try."
No, you wouldn't. "But we're okay, right?"
"We're okay." Sam reached out, put a hand on his shoulder. "We're okay, G."
"You should take me someplace nice sometime."
"Dinner and a movie?" Sam squeezed once. "You stay out of the hospital for two months, you're on."
G could have spun it out a bit from there, probably, but then Kensi walked in and said: "Sorry, am I interrupting something?" and that would have been fine; Kensi'd be fine to let in on the joke, but Deeks was right behind her, carrying another fruits basket, so instead G just put a grin on his face.
Sam pulled his hand away.
"Good news, guys," G said. "He said yes."
Kensi grinned and Deeks chuckled - one of the guys, familiar with the jokes by now, but Sam glanced at him with a mix of resignation and fondness and something else, and just like that, G remembered.