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and then i’ll lay down next to you

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Barney was cornered. The cries of surrounding aliens echoed through the stairwell. He’d lost his helmet a while back, so he had no protection from the parasite-crab-things that were currently poised to pounce at his head. He raised his pistol at the zombified scientists that were stumbling towards him and pulled the trigger, only to hear a few pitiful clicks. He was out of ammo. He was pressed up against a wall. He was completely and utterly fucked. He screwed his eyes shut, dropping to the floor and covering his head with his arms in a vain effort to delay the end for just a little bit longer.

Next thing he knew, the stairwell was filled with the deafening sound of gunshots and creatures screeching in pain. Something hit his boot and he instinctively kicked out, making contact with something… metal? He cracked open an eye and looked up, taking in his armored savior. They were holding a crowbar in their left hand and a pistol in their right, staring down the guard cowering in front of them through the dark-tinted visor of their hazmat helmet.

Suddenly their weapons dropped to the floor with a clatter. Barney jumped, and the stranger flinched, taking a step back. After a few seconds, they reached up to remove their helmet. Barney’s heart stopped.

“Gordon?”

The physicist held out a hand and Barney took it, letting him pull the guard to his feet. The second he was on stable footing, he threw his arms around Gordon’s neck, threatening to send them both crashing to the floor again. He couldn’t help but notice the slight hesitation before Gordon reciprocated, as if he were afraid Barney would evaporate at the slightest touch.

After a few moments of silence, Barney pulled away ever so slightly and reached up to cradle Gordon’s face in his hands. He wiped a tear from his freckled cheeks with his thumb. “God, Gordon, what the hell happened?” The man in question simply shook his head, clearly not wanting to talk about it. Or maybe he didn’t know either. It didn’t matter.

Gordon brought his hands up to sign, and they were shaking. “[I didn’t…]” He cut himself off.

“Didn’t what, darlin’?”

Gordon looked away, focusing his gaze on the body of a former scientist. “[Didn’t know if you survived.]”

Barney let out a humorless laugh. “‘S gonna take a lot more’n whatever the hell that was to kill me,” he said almost confidently, as if he didn’t almost die to a hoard of aliens not even 5 minutes ago.

All of a sudden, Gordon leaned heavily on the guard, who just barely braced himself for the full weight of the HEV suit and the man inside. Turns out all that working out was coming in handy. “Woah, everything okay there, doc?” He caught Gordon fingerspelling [T-I-R-E-D] out of the corner of his eye.

“Alright, uh…” There… wasn’t really anywhere exactly comfortable to sit and rest. But there was a medstation on the wall over there, so he supposed that would be the best place to start. Carefully nudging a dead headcrab out of the way, Barney led Gordon over to the wall and sat him down on the floor before eyeing the medstation nervously. He didn’t need to use it right this second, did he? Nah, he was good for now. If he could avoid that fucking needle, he would.

But now that he was looking closer, Gordon looked beyond worse for wear. He didn’t know how long ago the explosion, or whatever it was, was, but the physicist looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that his suit was practically dyed red and yellow from all the various kinds of blood that coated it. Barney didn’t want to think of how much of it could be his. “You need this?” he asked, pointing with his thumb to the medstation.

Gordon looked up and thought for a moment. “[I don’t know,]” he signed, “[I don’t feel any pain, I’m mostly just tired.]” He paused for a second. “[Might not be a bad idea, though, just in case.]” He pulled some kind of cord from the chest panel of the HEV suit and handed the end of it to Barney. When the guard only responded with confusion, he elaborated, smiling just a little bit: “[Plug it into the medstation.]” Barney did exactly that.

“Damn, lucky bastard,” he grumbled lightheartedly, gently kicking Gordon’s thigh with his boot and listening to the machine work. “You don’t have to stick your finger in that hell-device and wait for it to jump you with a fuckin’ needle every time you scrape you elbow or somethin’.”

Gordon laughed soundlessly. “[Just don’t be scared of needles.]”

Barney let out a bark of laughter and plopped himself down beside the physicist. “You li’l shit,” he chuckled, leaning his head against Gordon’s shoulder.

They sat in silence for a minute before Gordon tensed and let out a gasp that set Barney on high-alert. His hand flew to his pistol, but Gordon put a hand on his shoulder. When the guard turned to face him, he signed, “[It’s just the needles in the suit.  Everything’s fine.]” Barney breathed a sigh of relief, then chuckled half-heartedly.

“Seems you don’t get to escape the shots, huh?” Gordon elbowed him in the side. But then Barney had a thought.

“Hey… I love you, you know that?”

Gordon looked at him like he had grown an extra limb. “[Yes? Of course I know that, you tell me that every time you get the chance.]”

The guard scratched at the back of his neck. “Yeah, but… I wanted to say it again… just in case I didn’t make it outta here-”

“[Stop. Please.]” The expression on Gordon’s face could only be described as horrified. But Barney was only being realistic.

“Gordon, you’ve seen everything else. You’re in a literal suit of armor, it’s… it’s more’n likely that you’ll be the only survivor of this fuckin-”

Gordon’s lips were on his before he even knew what was happening. It wasn’t for long, though. The physicist buried his face in Barney’s shoulder, crying quietly. Barney shifted so he could pull him into a hug and he let out a sob.

Eventually Gordon pulled away just enough to be able to sign between them. “[Barney, I… if I make it out of here without you, then I would’ve failed. I can’t leave this place without you.]” His hands started shaking more and more as he went on. Barney wanted to hold them so bad, but he had more to say. “[I’ve passed so many guards lying face-down, crushed by a cave-in or killed by an alien, and every time, I’ve been so scared that they were you .]” If he had been talking, there was probably no way he would be understandable. Hell, he was barely understandable as it was.

Barney stilled Gordon’s frantic hands and brought his own to the physicist’s face. He didn’t really know what to say, so he just pressed their lips together. He knew it probably wasn’t the best time (or the best place, considering all the bodies), but he didn’t care. All that mattered right now was Gordon. Gordon, who was currently gripping onto Barney’s vest like a lifeline.

When they parted, it felt like 100 years had passed, even though it had only been seconds. Gordon once again laid his head in the crook of Barney’s neck, pulling them as close together as possible. Barney pulled Gordon’s hair free of his hairtie, threading his fingers through it gently.

“I know you’ll get us outta here, darlin’,” he murmured. “Dead or alive, I’m not leaving your side.”