The shock wave threw Colleen off her feet, knocking her to the ground. By the time she picked herself up, the entire building was falling inward, crumbling in a wave of heat and noise.
"Danny!" she screamed, throwing an arm across her face against the heat and light. She stumbled forward, only to be brought up short by someone grabbing her jacket, dragging her backwards.
"Colleen --" and that was as far as Ward got before she broke his grip and nearly broke his thumbs along with it.
She made it another three steps forward before he threw his arms around her and tried to bodily drag her backwards. This worked out about as well for him as it had the last time; this time she threw him, landing him flat on the ground, as hard as she'd ever put down a recalcitrant student. He grunted as she landed knee-first on top of him, driving the air out of his lungs.
"And stay down!" she snarled, but all he did was try to grab her wrists. She detached his grasp with a sideward twist that must have come close to dislocating his shoulder. "What do you want? A broken arm?"
"I know what Danny would say to me," he gasped out, getting a grip on her arm again, "if I let you go get yourself killed in there."
He literally couldn't stop her; she could put him on the ground as many times as it took. But she knelt on his chest and stared at him, and slowly the frantic need for motion began to drain away, and in its place a kind of desperate, hollow sorrow swelled to fill her chest.
"Danny," she said helplessly.
"I know," Ward said, and the worst part, the very worst part of all of it was that she knew he meant it; he did know, he understood, like no one else would have. "Can I, uh ... Colleen, I can't really breathe ..."
He was clearly breathing well enough to talk, but she was starting to get a grip on herself now, and she moved her knee and then staggered to her feet, stumbled and went down hard, and sat on the ground. The building continued to burn, and after a moment Ward managed to sit up next to her, and leaned over, rubbing his shoulder.
"He got out," he said after a minute. "It's Danny. He's got nine lives. I mean, how many times was he supposed to be dead by now?"
She wanted to tell him to shut up, but she drew in a hitching breath and then all she could do was sit there, shaking, and eventually she buried her face in her arms.
She wasn't expecting a hand to settle hesitantly between her shoulder blades. All she wanted to do was shrug it off; the last person she wanted here, at a time like this, was Ward Meachum -- and yet, he was also the only person who could possibly know what she was feeling, right down the bones. That raw bloody hole in her chest ... she'd seen the same thing in his eyes, and that was what what made her lean toward him, until her shoulder rested against his, and they just sat there, watching the building burn.
"I'm sorry I almost broke your arm," she said after a little while. Her voice was rough, her throat raw with smoke.
Ward gave a sharp, hoarse laugh. "I had it coming. Honestly, I'm surprised you didn't."
She started to answer, but then she was distracted by something moving against the flames.
A moment later, she lurched to her feet, and she was moving forward, and then running, to throw her arms around Danny. He staggered and sagged against her, burying his face in her hair. He stank of smoke and chemicals, and she didn't care, all that mattered was having him here and alive in her arms.
And when Ward stumbled up to them a moment later and hugged him, hugged both of them, Colleen turned wordlessly and put an arm around Ward's waist and just held on there too, while Danny breathed heavily into her hair and she just ... hugged him and hugged him, and didn't want to ever let go.
Whumptober Master List
Oct. 1 - Shaky Hands (Stranger Things) - also on Tumblr
Oct. 2 - Explosion (Iron Fist) - also on Tumblr
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