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drown the beating drums

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Rain tumbles out of a steely sky like a hail of bullets and he lies morosely on John's couch, bottle of whatever-it-is lying empty on the carpet. He doesn't know what he's been drinking, only that it burns and there's not enough of it to blur the edges of his thoughts into a comforting oblivion. He doesn't think he's moved for days, except to get up and phone the American Embassy in what used to be Saigon, day in, day out. He thinks that the telephone operators there must be getting rather fond of him after almost a year of daily calls - his voice the one constant in their lives. Tomorrow they might be hauled out and shot in front of the wrought iron gates, tomorrow, Sergeant Scott will call again.

 Hope and time and his sanity are slipping through his fingers. She has to still be alive, she HAS to be, there's no way that his Kim is out there in a shallow grave somewhere. Please-let-her-still-be-alive, please-let-her-still-be-alive...

 The door bangs open. "Are you up, asshole?"

 John, back from work. Somehow John's managed to pull himself through, to recover the old person that Chris supposes he was before the war, but then again, John wasn't stupid enough to go and do something like fall in love, John didn't leave anyone behind.

 He doesn't reply. There's a lot of murmuring from the front hall. John's plaid shirt appears in his line of sight.

 "Get up you lazy fucker. We've got a guest."

 Chris blinks blearily.

 "God, how many of these have you had?"

 Chris doesn't bother to deign that one with an answer. He turns his face away into the pillows. Would the world be like this, soft and black and squashy if he just stopped breathing? Wouldn't it be better that way?

 "Look, please, just get up...I promise..."


 Wonderful, now he's hallucinating. He didn't think he'd had enough to drink for that.

 "Chris, please..." the voice waves, uncertain, fluttering at the air.

 He opens his eyes, turns his head back towards John, but there, right there, inches from his face are a pair of dark eyes that he would know anywhere.

 "Kim?" his voice is cracked with disbelief.

 "Yes." The word hitches on a sob. He stares at her for a second, drinking her back in, tracing the new pink scar under one of her eyes, the raindrops glinting in her black hair like tiny shards of ice. And then time skips forward and she's in his arms and he's crying like he did when the helicopter rose away from Saigon and he couldn't do a damned thing to save her from the city of flames and crumbling buildings and hysterical, screaming crowds below. She's crying too, her face buried blindly against his shoulder, and John is standing, not even attempting to hide his smile.

 It takes a long time for Chris to remember how to speak. " did you manage it?"

 "Nothing to do with me."

 There'll be time for words later, words and stories and how-did-you-get-out's and he's-been-an-absolute-wreck-since-the-second-I-dragged-him-onto-that-helicopter, but for now, all he can think is that Kim is alive, back from the dead, and she's here in his arms and he's never, ever going to let her go again.