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beth writing 30 days without

Fic: Hard Landing, (1/1), K+


Title: Hard Landing

Author:  maddie_amber

Rating: K+

Disclaimer: Fringe and all the characters belong to someone else only the plot belongs to me. No in’fringe’ment intended.

Summary: This story was written for vicki_james98, for the O/P ficathon.  She requested the following:

Story Request 1: Olivia's in physical danger and Peter needs to rescue her. Peter angst.
Story Request 2: Peter and Olivia survive a plane crash in a remote area.

(Okay, I know that you requested an ‘airplane’ crash, but my son is a helicopter pilot so I tend to favor helicopters.  Besides this is based on a freak accident one of his friends actually walked away from unscathed when he should have been dead.)

This story is set sometime during the middle part of the first season.

Spoilers:  None.

Thanks:  To lone_pyramid for the quick beta.  Your suggestions were much appreciated.

 




Hard Landing

 

No one should have survived.

The pilot hadn’t.

Peter lay on the spongy moss covered ground, his left side a sheer wall of pain from his shoulder to his ankle.  The reek of aviation fuel permeated the air and only God knew why there had not been an explosion.  He tried to move but his right leg was tangled in the mangled wreckage, forcing him to look at the remains the R44 they had been flying in only moments – it seemed like moments – before.  The pilot’s head was twisted at an impossible angle, dead eyes open and staring, his body held in place by the safety harness wrapped around his torso.  Peter had not been wearing his. 

A swell of panic hit him as he looked for the seat that had been beside him. 

“Olivia!”  He made no attempt to conceal the sudden rush of fear that engulfed him.  He couldn’t see her anywhere.  She’d been sitting next to him, talking one minute, and the next he was here on the ground.  What had happened?  What had brought them down?  He’d been in a disabled helicopter before and any pilot worth his license could bring a helicopter down in a controlled autorotation if he lost power, a helicopter version of a dead stick landing.  This accident had happened suddenly, with no warning and no time for the pilot to react. 

“Olivia!” he bellowed.  The fear that gripped him also pumped adrenalin into his system.  He forced himself to a sitting position, ignoring the pain in his shoulder.  With his good right hand he tugged at the wiring and ironically, webbing from his own unused shoulder harness, which gripped his left ankle until he managed to pull himself free. 

“Olivia!?”

He stood, testing his ankle, turning in every direction, searching for the one thing he needed to see.  “Olivia?”

He hobbled to the rear of the helicopter, ducking to avoid the tail rotor that spun idly, pushed by the slight breeze whispering through the surrounding scrub pines.  There was no other sound.  No birds.  No animals.  The stark silence a startled response to the violence and abruptness of their arrival.  Then he saw the remains of her seat piled against a downed and ancient tree trunk.  His heart caught in his throat.  “Oh, God, Olivia,” he whispered as he limped towards the seat.  He could see her blonde hair flowing over the top of the seat, caught by the macabre fingers of the same breeze that turned the tail rotor.

Olivia slumped forward, held in place by her still-intact safety harness.  Peter slipped a trembling hand to the base of her throat and found her pulse with a sigh of relief.  It was light but it was a pulse.  Carefully, cursing his own useless left arm, he leaned her seat backward until it was resting against the ground and then he carefully unhooked her harness. 

“Olivia,” he said softly.  “I could really use you to wake up right now.  I need to know if you’re injured.  If you’re in any pain.”  He brushed the strands of hair from her face.  There were no bruises or marks on her face, and hopefully no head injuries.  “Olivia?” 

She stirred slightly against his hand.  A soft grunt escaped her then her eyes flew open as she sucked in a gulp of air.  Confusion filled her eyes as she stared wildly around, trying as he had moments before to make sense of where she was.  “What happened?”

“Specifically,” he said as relief rushed through him, “we crashed.  As to why, I have no idea.  I need to know if you’re alright."

She nodded as some of the confusion cleared from her eyes.  She experimentally moved her arms and legs.  “Nothing broken,” she said, but when she tried to roll out of the seat she collapsed back into it with a groan.  “Stomach,” she said, “I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach.” 

Peter glanced from her to the tree trunk her seat had slammed into.  A long dead and broken branch protruded from its side.  What was the freakish chance that she had survived this crash and been injured by a tree?  But then freakish was their stock in trade, was it not? 

“Here,” he said.  “Let me help you.  If you can lie down flat on the ground I can take a look.”

Olivia moaned softly as he helped her slip out of the seat and onto the mossy ground.  “I don’t think anything is seriously damaged.  Just sore.  Help me up.”

As Peter complied she seemed to become aware of the fact that he was also injured.  “Peter!” she said, her voice rising slightly with alarm.  "Your leg.” 

Peter glanced down at his lower left leg.  The bottom of his jeans from his knee to his ankle was darkened with the stain of blood.  He had been so concerned about Olivia he had not bothered to find out why his leg hurt. 

“And your arm,” she continued.

“Shoulder actually,” Peter said, wincing.  The weight of his arm hanging from his injured shoulder was excruciating.  He lifted his left arm with his right hand and tucked the hand into the front of his jacket, supporting his injured shoulder.  Now, he thought, I can add Napoleon to my list of counterfeit personae. 

“You need medical attention.” Olivia said firmly, taking command.

“A sling would do the trick.  Nothing much else you can do for now.” Peter said. 

“Is it dislocated?”

“Judging from the angle of my collar bone, I’d say separated.  Of course I can’t tell without an MRI and some x-rays.”

As he spoke Olivia pulled off her belt and began fashioning a sling.  “It’s the best I can do for now.  And I need to look at that leg.  There should be a first aid kit aboard…”  She glanced at the remains of the helicopter.  “What the hell happened?”

Peter shook his head.  “Whatever happened, the pilot never had time to react.”  As he studied the mangled wreckage he saw a cable snaking from the remains of the R44 to the nearby trees.  “Although that might have had something to do with it.” 

Olivia looked in the direction he was pointing.  “A cable?”

Peter nodded.  “The pilot said he flew this route frequently and knew it well.  My guess is that cable was rigged recently.  Maybe as part of some planned construction, new power lines perhaps.  It may not have been intended as a helicopter snare, but it certainly did the job.” 

“”Because we were flying low looking at the ground for signs of the reported anomaly…”

“…and not watching for obstructions in our flight path.”  Peter finished her thought.  “The sun was low in the sky.  That might have obscured it.  Especially against the trees.”

“The pilot?” Olivia asked.

Peter shook his head. 

Sadness ghosted across Olivia’s face, followed by an expression that could almost be construed as guilt. 

“There’s nothing either one of us could have done,” Peter said.  “Either to prevent the accident or help the pilot.”

Olivia composed her expression then turned toward wreckage.  Cautiously, she approached the downed aircraft then disappeared around the far side.  She returned moments later with a bright orange box that could only be a first aid kit, and another object.  He had eased himself onto the fallen log and sat with his injured leg stretched out in front of him.  Olivia stumbled as she approached, and he did not like the waxen paleness of her already pale skin. 

She raised her hand as if to say, I’m okay, but Peter felt a lurch of concern in the pit of his stomach.  “Are you alright?” he asked as she knelt next to him.

“Honestly?” she asked, “I just got thrown from a helicopter that was flying near 80 miles per hour, and made a very sudden stop.  I think I’m alright, all things considered.”  She opened the first aid kit, took out a pair of scissors and slit the lower leg of his jeans.  “And you?” she asked wryly. 

“Been better,” he admitted.  He remained silent as she cleaned and dressed the deep gash on his calf.  It would need stitches when they got back to civilization, but for now steri strips would have to do.  At least the bleeding had slowed appreciably.

When she finished, she turned to the other object in her hand, a satellite phone.  It was obviously damaged.  “Think you can get this to work?”

Peter shrugged doubtfully, turning the crumpled phone over in his hands.

“Because if you can’t,” Olivia continued, “and this helicopter wasn’t equipped with a digital distress beacon, it’s going to be a long walk back to Fairbanks.”  She patted his good knee, and then pushed herself to her feet. 

Peter glanced up at her as she walked away.  “And what are you planning?”

“I’m going to cut the pilot loose.”

“He’s dead, Olivia.  I don’t think he’s going to notice.”

Olivia turned to face him.  “But his family will.  They will need to know he was treated with respect.”

Peter sighed.  “Okay.  Wait.  You’ll need help.”  He rose slowly to his feet to follow her.

“You’ll be more help working on that phone.”

Peter continued to follow her.  “The phone can wait for a few minutes.  And after we get the pilot cut down we need find out if this helicopter was equipped with an automated distress beacon.”

It took more than a few minutes to free the pilot’s body, arrange it carefully on the ground, and cover him with a tarp they found in the back of the helicopter.  By the time they were done, the pain from Peter’s shoulder radiated outward in pulsing stabs until his entire body thrummed with the rhythm of it.  He would have more concerned about it had he not been so worried about Olivia.  She had grown increasingly pale and her movements were stiffly controlled as though she too were in pain.  The one time he suggested she rest, she brushed off his comment, pretending there was nothing amiss.  As she finished covering the pilot’s corpse, he turned to study the interior of the helicopter.  He wasn’t certain what a digital distress beacon looked like, so he checked for any obviously active electronics.  It could be so well integrated into the systems that it was not going to be apparent to someone unfamiliar with the system.  Perhaps, Olivia was right.  It might be wise to spend his energy repairing the sat phone.  And, he had noted the unmistakable smell of aviation fuel as he worked around the downed helicopter and the plinking sound of liquid dripping on metal.  They would both be wise to move farther from the craft.  It may not be a large leak, but it was still a leak and the helicopter’s tanks had been partially full when they crashed.  He did not want to risk a fire or explosion. 

Peter was ready to rest even if Olivia was not, and had decided to admit it.  He gave the interior of the cockpit one last cursory inspection then turned back to Olivia just as she crumpled to the ground in a boneless heap. 

“Olivia!” he cried.  He was at her side as quickly as his injured leg would let him move. 

Olivia began to stir as he reached her and knelt beside her.  She drew a hand across her eyes and blinked as though disoriented before trying to push herself up to a sitting position, but he held her in place with his good hand.  “No,” he commanded firmly. 

“I’m fine,” she protested.  “Just a bit light-headed.”

“You are not fine,” Peter countered, silencing any protest with a stern look.  “Now, if you don’t mind, I need you to unbutton your
shirt.”

Olivia did not immediately comply. 

“Olivia, I need to determine whether or not you were injured internally.”

“So was one of your many previous personae ‘Dr. Bishop, MD’?”

Peter shrugged his good shoulder, then immediately regretted the gesture as collateral motion in his other shoulder painfully reminded him of his own injury.  He winced, and said, “No.  No MD.  PhD several times.  But hanging around Walter, you pick up a great deal of miscellaneous medical information. “

Again, she opened her mouth to protest, but he shushed her firmly.  “If you check out, you can take over, but I need to find out if you’ve done any damage to yourself first.  Now relax.  Tell me if there is any pain when I apply pressure.”  

She lay back quietly but he knew she rankled at the implication she was weak or helpless.  Dear Olivia, he thought, always putting yourself last.  She had unbuttoned the bottom of her shirt and pulled the tails from her waistband as he had asked her to do.  He tried to remain clinical and analytical, telling himself this was just another of Walter’s subjects, but he felt a cold grip clutch his heart when he saw the already purpling bruises on her abdomen.  One looked suspiciously like her sidearm, which had obviously been driven into her body with great force.  As gently as possible he applied pressure to various points, checking her spleen, liver, stomach.  He flinched every time she did, but neither said a thing.  Her abdomen was tense and rigid to the touch.  A cold fear and cloying sense of helplessness crept through him. 

“So what’s the verdict, Doc ?” she finally asked.

Peter was unusually silent, and he knew she would find that suspicious.  “You’ve got extensive bruising and discoloring along your sides.  And pain, though you aren’t going to admit it to me.  That along with the lightheadedness you’ve been experiencing are classic symptoms of intra-abdominal bleeding.  So is the shortness of breath you’ve been trying to hide."

Olivia was solemn as she listened to him.  He knew she had seen enough injuries in her time as a field agent to know that internal bleeding was nothing to fool with. 

“We need to get you out of here,” Peter said calmly.  “Until we can, we need to keep you still and warm because shock is a distinct possibility if you continue to lose blood.  Its getting late and we are going to need a fire before the sun sets completely.”

As he started to get to his feet, she attempted to sit up. 

“Stay still,” he admonished. 

“You would get done faster if I helped.” 

“You’ll be dead faster if you help,” he said sternly.  “Olivia, just this once, allow me to be the protector.”

She took a deep breath as though to continue the argument, but he held up a hand to silence her.  Not this time, he thought; though every inch of his own aching body would have given anything for some help, he knew he had to keep her as still as possible.  He had no way of knowing how much blood she might be losing, only that she was. 

He started to rummage through the wreckage of the R44 one more time and quickly found what he was after.  Thank God for well prepared pilots that lived in cold climates.  He soon had a light weight but well-insulated sleeping bag, a butane lighter, bottled water, and some dehydrated rations.  There would be no food for Olivia until the extent of her injuries was known, but he might need something himself. 

The sun was already beginning to set and the chill in the air was noticeable.  Yes it was only early September, but it was September in Alaska and the night could get very cold.  Within minutes, with Olivia’s help, he had her in the sleeping bag.  Working one-handed, he managed to scavenge enough twigs and broken brush to start a small fire.  He didn’t think he could keep it going for long, but once she was secure and warm in her ‘cocoon’ the fire would be more for his benefit, for light if not for heat.  He wanted to make sure he could keep an eye on her as long as needed. 

That done, there was little else to do except hope someone would realize they were late and send searchers.  He picked up the sat phone again and settled on the ground next to Olivia.  She was so still and quiet, her face more pale than before.  He reached out and brushed the backs of his fingers across her cheek.  When her eyes fluttered open, he moved to brush a strand of hair from her face. 

“Just checking your temperature.”

“Warm,” Olivia said, half asleep.  “You need to rest.  You’re injured too.”

“I’ll be fine,” he assured her.  His fingers rested gently at the base of her throat, finding her pulse.  It was weak, but steady, and her breathing was regular.  So far no shock, he thought.  “Sleep,” he said softly.  But she was already

The breeze ruffled the stray hair that floated around her face.  The blonde strands looked strangely dark against her pallid skin, but her face, so serious when she was awake, had softened into innocence.  Peter had never thought of Olivia as carefree.  She carried more than her share of the world’s weight, whether she needed to or not.  Yet in this moment, in this place, under these circumstances, she seemed so much at peace.  Peter swallowed hard against the lump that had formed in his throat.  He rested his hand against the side of her face, and she shifted into his touch, a small smile touching her lips as she did.  She could be dying and he was unable to help her.  They were down in the middle of nowhere and he was helpless. 

Peter turned his attention to the sat phone.  He would make it work.  It was the one thing he was always good at – even if his only tool was the pocket knife he’d scavenged from the dead pilot.  He had done more with less.  If nothing else, he hoped he could create a static burst that some alert technician somewhere might recognize as a good old-fashioned SOS.

 

**

He was not sure what brought him out of his dream.  Had he sensed her distress even in his sleep?  The change in her breathing, the clamminess of her skin where his arm rested against hers screamed alarms in head that she was going into shock. After tapping out his makeshift SOS for what seemed like hours, he had finally succumbed to exhaustion and his own injuries and had fallen asleep.  Stretched on the ground beside Olivia with his injured arm draped across her, the changes in her physical condition sent waves of awareness though his injured limb. 

But the sound that had awakened him had not come from Olivia.  He could still hear it, the faint distinctive thwopping sound of a hovering helicopter.  No, it wasn’t hovering.  It was receding, going away from their present position.  He pushed himself up, his body screaming its own pain as he struggled to his feet.  He had to get them back and he had to get them back now.  The helicopter had been so close and had not seen them.  He had to get their attention.  Then he caught the scent that had alarmed him earlier.  Aviation fuel.  It was still dipping from the damaged fuel tanks of the R44.  His own feeble fire was just a dim glow of coals.  Not enough to do the job.  But he still had the butane lighter he had started it with. 

There was a slightly darker area on the ground near the downed R44.  He hoped it was fuel.  He touched the flame of the lighter to the small pool of liquid and at first there was no reaction.  Then the small pool caught fire.  Peter backed off, watching and hoping as the small fire grew, then started to climb up the fuel tank itself.  Please work, he thought desperately, before it’s too late.  He backed off a few more steps to Olivia’s location.  The fire continued to grow and the heat began to intensify, but it was still not enough.  He doubted there was enough heat to actually cause the fuel tanks to rupture, and what he needed was for this fire to get really big, really fast. 

He picked up Olivia’s gun from where it lay on the ground by her side.  This was going to be a one armed shot, but it was their only chance.  It took three before he was able to puncture the fuel tank.  The remains of the helicopter went up in a whoosh of flame and heat. 

“Come back!” he said out loud.  “Damn it, come back.”  He strained his ears to hear over the roar of the fire.  But then he heard it again.  The sound of the props, and this time they were approaching.  Within minutes the underbelly of the hovering helicopter was visible in the opening in the trees overhead, their position illuminated in the glare of search lights.  He waved his good arm frantically, but he didn’t have to.
 

***

Peter sat in a chair next to Olivia’s bedside.  His shoulder was packed in ice and his head buzzed with the effects of the pain killers, but he was awake.  He had accepted only the most basic first aid until he was certain that she was no longer in danger.  As she rolled out of surgery and into recovery, her prognosis was good, and he had agreed to the ice and the pain killers.  Surgery to repair his damaged shoulder would be scheduled sometime in the next week. 

For now he was content to sit with her, knowing she was going to recover.  His hand rested on her arm, aware of every movement of her body.  Her breathing was slow and regular, the constant bleep from the monitors in the room a comforting and assuring backdrop.  Peter leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.  He was exhausted.  Again, he fell asleep without realizing it and awoke to the feel of her fingers curling around his own.  He sat up, shaking the fuzz from his brain, and looked at her.  A small smile curled the corners of her lips. 

“You look like hell,” she said quietly. 

“And you probably feel that way,” he said grinning.

She smiled and shook her head.  “More like Walter.”

“Walter?”  Then Peter understood her joking reference to his father’s fondness for illicit drugs.  “Sorta feel that way myself.”

The conversation ended there as Olivia drifted back to sleep, her fingers still curled around his. 

Peter watched her, until he was certain she was soundly asleep.  Leaning forward, he kissed her gently on the forehead.  “Sweet dreams,” he murmured.  Then he leaned back into his own chair, propped his feet on the end of the bed, and closed his eyes, her hand held firmly in his. 

(end)

 

 

 

 

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