Jim's reloading, crouching behind the only decent cover he can find and trying to assess just how fucked he is, when one of the idiots running this operation stumbles. The guy's head tips back like he's just been punched, and he falls.
That's because he has just been punched. Adam steps out of thin air, dispassionately avoiding the prone body as he uncloaks. He's got a few bruises, already healing due to whatever aug immune system he's got in there, and he's focused, so coiled tight it looks like it hurts. He heads straight round the corner, sees Jim and says, "Hey." He shifts his weight, and suddenly the wild-animal tautness is gone, and his shoulders are relaxing in relief.
Jim glares up at him. "What the hell are you doing here?"
The corner of Adam's mouth ticks up, and Jim thinks out of nowhere, even through the anger, that he'd really like to see that more. Not the point. Adam says, "They sent the ransom message to HQ."
"And you wasted resources on - ?"
Adam's head tilts, and there's a barely-repressed eyeroll in there. Fucking Jensen. "Just me. I'm not exactly here... officially."
"Why am I not surprised?" Jim sighs. "I'm getting really fucking sick of being a high-value target. How many more?"
Adam tilts his head again. "None."
He knew Adam worked fast, but - "Christ." He stands and exhales, holstering the pistol he liberated when his kidnappers took their eye off the ball.
The briefest shit-eating grin, quickly smothered like all those other moments of personality, and then Adam pauses. It's replaced by concern. "You all right?"
"Yeah." Then he shakes his head, and somehow, he feels all the fight go out of him. "No. No serious injuries, but I think they dosed me with something. The pain's not setting in as much as it should."
"Guessing you didn't come quietly," Adam says, and there's a warmth to it.
"Broke one of 'em's jaw. And that's when I was still tied up." He winces, pinching the bridge of his nose and trying to soothe away some of the building ache. God, this'll be a killer. He sags, and mutters, "I'm so tired of being drugged." He grits his teeth; he didn't mean to say that. Some part of him's still screaming that it doesn't do to look weak in front of an agent. Even one who's watched him dying painfully. Or one who watched him slump on the way back from London. Some people just settle for inter-office karaoke.
He feels Adam move closer. "What're the effects?"
"I... Fuck, I don't know. I just feel like..." He blinks, tries to find the words, and runs a bloodstained hand through his hair. "I'm so tired of this." The words were quiet, but he already wants to shove them back into his mouth. They sound defeated, weak. Old. And it's not like that's going to help the mission. It's not the bloody point. He didn't mean -
A hand on his shoulder. Adam's grip is gentle. Probably carefully kept that way; the guy could tear people in half if he wanted to, but he's never seemed to use that strength in anger off the field. Jesus, he's always so careful. It has to be exhausting, holding yourself in check when you're a hurricane. Or maybe he's just not the type to get physical. Jim's suddenly deeply glad they've got an augmented madman on their side, and that he's a decent one. Adam says, in a voice like overly worried sandpaper, "Jim?"
Jim stares into gold, oil-slick-reflective eyeshields, and blurts out: "You ever take those things off?"
Fuck. That was definitely not what he meant to say.
Adam's eyebrows shoot up from under the shades. There's the slightest pause, a quick little inbreath, before Adam says, "You know I do." And Jim hears it: there's just a bit more roughness round the edges than usual, almost fear.
"Not enough, you don't." Jim frowns at him. "Why don't you look at anyone? I assumed it was just bloody posturing at first, but... are you that scared of us?"
Adam's fingers flex, briefly, and there's the whirr of tiny servos. A definite inhale. "You're right. They definitely gave you something."
"Probably. Could be I'm just tired of pretending I don't notice."
"We should get out of here. You sure you're not injured?"
"Yeah, all right, we're naturals, but... I know it's not that. You're not the type." Jim takes a step closer, and watches the big scary aug take half a step back. "And most of us have seen eye augments before, they're not that strange. You're just the type who likes hiding."
Adam's tense as a coiled spring again, but this isn't mission-focus. "Sure. We can talk about this later." He's moving, turning to leave.
"I can still tell you're looking at me," Jim says.
Jim does, too. And then wants to kick himself. Or kill himself. That might work. "That wasn't - You're right, we should..." He rubs at his forehead, and stares at the wall. It's easier, saying it to concrete. What's the harm. "But you do it a lot. Thought at first you were just twitchy and trying to figure out if you'd screwed up. Then I got it."
There's silence. Not even the rustle of canvas, but then, Adam can be dead-still when he wants to.
And now Jim's dug this hole, he might as well bury himself in it.
He exhales. "You learn to spot it, after a while. Once you've been doing it enough yourself."
More silence, and then that low servo-sound again. Jim knows from experience that Adam's fists are clenching, unfolding. He looks up, and sees it. Clench, unfold, same again. It's always controlled. Too fucking controlled. The stiffness, the fear. He's tired of it.
He says, "You ever been honest? Or are you out of the habit?"
Adam turns, slowly. "Coming from you," he says, quiet and rough. Then he ducks his head, and he's probably wincing behind the shields. "Shit. Sorry, boss. Got no idea what you're talking about." He gets nervous, still; it's in his shoulders and his hands. He wears the stillness too consciously, too obviously, times like this when he's in the light. He's a shit liar.
"The hell you don't. You launched a one-man mission, like an idiot, to pull me out of here."
"It's just - "
"And don't tell me it's just the augs, or just recon."
"There weren't that - "
"There were enough of them you could've asked for backup. It's the sort of stunt I might've pulled fifteen years ago, if I hadn't had family around. I know when someone's leading with the heart instead of the head."
Adam looks aside, mouth tightening. "Not the time. You want to chew me out for being unprofessional, we can do it later."
Jim grits his teeth. "Christ, why won't you listen to me? And take those bloody things off." He taps a finger to Adam's temple, and Adam turns sharply back to look at him. He doesn't know why the touch lingers, or why he keeps going until he ends up running the backs of his fingers over dark, sweat-spiked hair.
Adam swallows. He breathes in, and his mouth opens just slightly, like he couldn't help it. Like he's savouring this. "Not a good idea, boss." But he doesn't move, or tell Jim to stop this fucking insanity, and... suddenly the shields have slid away. He blinks startledly at Jim, pale and exhausted and somehow more real. "I..." He screws his eyes shut. "Shit. Didn't mean for that to happen." But he's drifting on his feet, head tilting, leaning into Jim's hand. "You're... not trying to chew me out, are you?"
"I'd feel a lot better if you looked at me."
Adam's eyes open, and they're dark, pained. For all the tech, the lines around his eyes are very... human. "Wanting something doesn't make it right."
"Yeah. Aside from rank, you're too bloody young for me. And you're a hotheaded pain of an agent."
"Yeah," Adam says, quietly. "And you're goddamn drugged, so we should - Mmph."
The end of that sentence gets lost. Adam's lips are chapped, but softer than they look. Jim uses that startled little noise to kiss him harder. Adam's frozen - and then his mouth opens, and instead of an augmented statue under Jim's hands, there's a man with a warm mouth and a scratchy beard, who kisses back. Adam makes a soft sound low in his throat, a cut-off moan, and then breathes Jim in. Adam's hand tightens against Jim's arm, and for a moment the strong leanness of him is pressed against Jim's chest, hot even through the tacvest.
God it's good. It's far too good. Better than the ideas Jim never let himself have, or the cut-off awkward dreams. It's one of the worst mistakes he's ever made.
Adam breaks away roughly. "Jesus," he breathes. "Jim..."
"If you're going to keep pulling my arse out of the fire, I thought I should at least say thank you."
Adam's a mess, still blinking dazedly, mouth red and his eyes dark, wild. Jim didn't know the augs could do that, but Adam already looks like someone's shoved him against a wall and - Oh, God, no. He can't let himself think like that, he'll go nuts. He wants - oh, fuck, Christ, he wants everything. His fingers twitch with the memory of how warm Adam was. And how strong. Taking someone like that to bed - No, no, he can't let himself be that kind of idiot... But it's been so long since someone's touched him like this. Since he held anyone. And the way Adam acts, the distance... Must be a long time for him too. Though who the hell wouldn't want -
"This is the drugs," Adam says. His tone's firm, but his voice is still shaking, and his brow's a pained line. And dammit, no-one should look that good turning you down.
Jim sighs. "The honesty is. Me sticking my tongue down your throat? No, that one's been around for a long time."
Adam's eyes are wide and pleading. "You're gonna hate both of us when you're sober. You're probably not even gonna remember this..."
Jim can't help himself. He reaches out again, touches Adam's face, running his thumb over beard and scarred skin. "I know. But just once, I wanted... Just once."
Adam looks like someone's kicked him. Just for a second, he sways into the touch, eyes closing. "Yeah. Yeah, I know." Then he's pulling away, and the eyeshields snap back into place. "Come on," he says, already walking, "there's a bird waiting."
Jim breathes, tries to pull himself together, and follows.