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On the Beach at Tintagel

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The worst part of going from sitting in the Waverider to plummeting through the dark, was that even before he hit the ocean, Jax was pretty sure what had just happened, and how he'd been complicit in his own plunge. The shock of hitting the water doubled–smacking his ass and legs, then half a second later a blow to his back, and the feeling of the air being forced from his lungs and panic. Jax had a second to be glad that wherever Gideon had scattered them to, at least he and Gray were in the same place, before the panic increased, and Gray was drowning.

Jax forced himself to think, not react. He was under water. He had to get up. He kicked against the way he'd come down, he thought, and flailed his arms. He was having a hard time telling his own growing panic from the searing fear echoing off Gray, but he kicked again, and by some miracle got his head above water. He caught a wave in the face right after, and almost sucked in water instead of air, but the next time he came up he was in the clear. He took two great gasps of air, then started looking for Gray.

Their link had never been locational, and wherever they both were was cold, dark and in the sea. Jax tried yelling, but couldn't hear a reply, and the wind and surf probably wiped out his words. He and Gray been right next to each other on the Waverider! Jax turned again, and thought he saw a splash that didn't look like a wave, and dove for it. Another miracle: he caught the sleeve of Gray's jacket, just a few feet down. Gray flailed against him, and Jax tried to think, Calm down, you idiot! at him as hard as he could. The annoyance at least got through, because Jax was able to get Gray's arm over his shoulder and kick them both up to the surface.

"Gray, Gray, Gray... calm down, man." Jax was saying almost before he had time to breathe, but Gray spluttered and coughed and didn't replay past squeezing Jax's shoulder. Jax tried to look around. It wasn't quite as black as he'd initially thought, just rainy twilight. Facing into the waves, there was nothing but rain and sea, punctuated with the occasional face full of water, which was not good. If that transporter had just dropped them where the Waverider was in some other time, they'd be hooped. No way he could swim all the way back to New York Harbour. Hell, in a few more minutes, he was going to be too cold to do anything. He didn't see any boat around, either. "Gray, we gotta merge. I know you're not..." he started, but Gray had stopped kicking and started sinking again, clearly unconscious. Jax swore and shifted so that his arms were wrapped around Gray's stomach and they were both somewhat floating on their backs. It wouldn't last long. They should have merged right away. It wouldn't work now, with Gray out of it.

It took a minute to get them both turned around, but Jax thought he saw dim shapes through the rain. Maybe it was just more mist, but it was the best bet they had. He started to kick backward, towing them both, and letting the waves push them on, holding tight to Gray. He'd be damned if he'd lose him now, after all this.

What he'd thought might be cliffs partly obscured by the rain turned out to be a much nearer pebble beach. They ended up involuntarily surfing the last few yards, and Jax got rocks in a few places he didn't want to think about, but they made it on shore. The next problem was Gray, who was still completely out of it, and didn't have a pulse at his wrist any more, though he was still breathing. It was definitely hypothermia, and could be shock, but Jax was worried there might be a blow to the head in there too. He couldn't get much of a read on what Gray was feeling, though that could be his own hypothermia talking. They needed to find shelter, preferably with people in it–a hospital would be ideal.

Jax pulled out his phone–long since water, fire and ice proofed, with a 25th-century power source–but of course got no signal. That figured. Why would Gideon and Rip strand them some place with technology, when they could drop everyone into the stone age? Jax and Gray would probably be devoured by a dinosaur within the next half hour. He jammed the phone back into his pocket and decided to deal with the situation to hand first. He could worry about dinosaurs and what might have happened to the rest of his crew, or to the Waverider itself, later.

He got Gray sitting on the rocks high enough up the beach that he wouldn't be swept back in when Jax's back was turned, and went to look around. The gravel sloped steeply up, and slid back with each step, making his knee ache. Behind him, the rocks hissed and roared with every wave, echoing up the beach. Gray was feeling fuzzier by the minute, and Jax was starting to think that the best possible scenario was that his own growing panic would somehow wake him up.

Water splashed around his feet, and Jax stared stupidly at it for a minute before realising that he'd stepped into a creek. He dropped to his knees to splash water on his face and rinse the salt out of his mouth, then crouched to look around again. It was lighter now, maybe even morning. The beach kept rising, turning into scrub-covered rock, with a clear path up the hill, but he couldn't see any sign of houses or lights gleaming through the rain. There was a cave though, which looked shallow, but the best bet so far. He went back to get Gray, and by the time he'd hauled them both inside, he was stumbling from cold and fatigue.

They were both soaked, and the whole get the wet clothes off and put on something dry thing clearly wasn't going to happen, so Jax did the best he could–resting his back against the wall, he wrapped his arms around Gray and attempted to huddle for warmth. It would have been awkward, if everything else about sharing an immutable psychic link and sometimes a body with an elderly white dude wasn't already super weird. Rubbing Gray's arms briskly, Jax started talking to him. His voice sounded small in the darkness, making him feel more isolated, not less, but he thought it might be stirring something in Gray.

"I'm going to kill Rip," he said, speaking carefully to hide his chattering teeth. Gray didn't move, but Jax kept going."I can't believe I programmed that for him. Where the hell did he just send us? Greenland? It sure is cold enough. Look. You gotta to wake up. I am not losing you to something as stupid as hypothermia. We got out, we do it as Firestorm, and for something good." Not for the first time, he thought of Ronnie Raymond, Gray's first partner, and wondered what it would feel like to have haft your soul just ripped away like that. He knew he never wanted to find out. They'd come too close already. "Come, on," he snapped, suddenly angry. "Don't do this to me!"

"Jefferson?" Gray said abruptly. Jax could have cried he was so happy to hear that cranky old man. He squeezed Gray tighter and hoped he felt how relieved Jax was. "Jefferson, if we were to merge..."

"You got it," Jax said, and found Gray's hand. He was still pretty out of it, but not more so than the first time they'd done this. Flame surrounded him, and then he wasn't cold any more, and neither was Gray. "God damn," he muttered. "Time to find out where we are."

I couldn't agree more, Gray replied, safe now, wrapped in Firestorm's nuclear warmth.

Jax laughed and took them both up into the sky.