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the pain of this moment

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“You’re a fucking idiot,” Nile snarled, hoisting Andy up into her arms. Around them, Nicky and Joe cleaned up the remaining attackers—not that many had been left after Nile saw Andy take a shot to the shoulder and fall to one knee in pain. Nile wasn’t quite sure what she’d done, but there had been a red fog and when she’d gotten control of herself again the axe she’d grabbed from Andy’s side had been dripping with blood.

Andy laughed a little, pressing her jacket onto her shoulder to help staunch the blood. “It’s hard,” she offered. “Remembering after so long.”

Nile snorted; she’d heard that excuse fifteen times in the last year. “You’re still an idiot.” She retreated, trusting that Nicky and Joe would trail behind once the refugees were safe. They’d gotten word of this assault (War crime, Copley had bitten out in his briefing) barely soon enough to come make a difference, but she was glad they’d managed. Even if she was furious that Andy was still throwing herself into danger. “We had a plan!”

“Yeah, but no plan is worth a child getting hurt.” Andy’s head rested on Nile’s shoulder, warm and heavy. “Just take me back to base and patch me up and yell at me after, okay? Being hurt sucks, in case you’d forgotten.”

She hadn’t. Or, well— She still sharply knew the way fresh wounds stung, and she knew the way it burned as her flesh knit itself back together, but the lasting drain of constant pain? That was like a nightmare being left to the past. Nile sucked air past her teeth and carried Andy back to their truck. “Just take it easy for at least a month this time, okay?” she said, instead of I’m sorry or You’re right; none of them were comfortable with emotions while on the job.

Andy groaned; performative, not pain. “If I had a dollar for every day I’ve been told to take it easy…”

“…you wouldn’t even have a hundred dollars?” Nile raised her eyebrows as she deposited Andy in the back seat of the van. She glanced back; Nicky and Joe were coming, but she still had a little time. “This is going to hurt,” she said cheerfully as she pulled out the first-aid kit she and Copley had made them start carrying.

“What—” Andy hissed as Nile peeled back her jacket and poured a generous amount of disinfectant on the wound, swearing in old Greek and Arabic and everything else she’d ever learned. Nile absently tried to identify all the languages—she had a lot of catching up to do on that front—as she methodically cleaned the wound and put new bandages on it. Anything else could wait for a real medical facility.

She was just finishing up as Nicky and Joe jogged over, jumping into the front seats. “Buckle up, bella,” Nicky called as he started the engine. “Time to go!”

Andy kept swearing as Nile buckled her in—none of the rest of them bothered—and Nile laughed, happy to be surrounded by her squad.