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Mudslide (Team Angst): "Excavation" - Light One Candle

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May 30th, 2008

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11:27 pm - Mudslide (Team Angst): "Excavation"
Sorry this is a little bit late, you guys!

Title: Excavation
Author: izhilzha
Pairing/Characters: David Sinclair, Colby Granger
Rating/Category: PG-13/Gen
Spoilers: "Trust Metric," oblique references to "When Worlds Collide"
Summary: God save idiots like my partner.


by izhilzha


By the time we’re a few hundred feet up the sloping side of the canyon, Colby’s already ahead of me, hauling himself along like he was made for this. He’s wearing jeans and sneakers, the perks of undercover work. I don’t keep boots in my SUV, and the smooth soles of my office shoes keep slipping on sparse, wet weeds and pulling free of soaked earth with a squelching sound. I push aside a handful of brush and get splattered with rainwater for my trouble.

Damn unseasonable mid-May Los Angeles storm.

My partner is almost out of sight. I try to pick up my pace, but there are only so many ways to handle this terrain without taking a spill. Something like this is a job for Search and Rescue, really. The Bureau’s equivalent, at least; we can’t have civilians chasing down a scumbag like Mike Brassan. I pause for a moment, listening. If he’s doubled back, gone to ground along the little creek bed at the bottom of the canyon, then we’ve lost the trail already.

But Colby’s sure he spotted the man climbing. It’s been a long couple of weeks since I saw that certainty in his face, that eagerness to go. And I don’t have nearly as much experience in outdoor tracking, so I called in for backup and followed him. And now I’ve lost them both.

I don’t want to warn our prey, so instead of shouting I pull myself through more water-logged brush to where the ground opens out, running in a steep ragged curve up towards the heavily clouded skyline.

I relax a little as I see Colby (in shirt sleeves, having wisely left his jacket on my passenger seat) turn and give me a thumbs-up. He points at a cluster of boulders to his left. The sneaking posture he adopts to approach this possible hiding place is wildly exaggerated for my amusement. I unsnap my holster and ease several steps upward, into looser, slicker soil.

It’s hard to find my footing, and when I glance up again, I’m suddenly dizzy.

The sensation could be a minor quake, a tremor, but it doesn’t feel right. It’s something else, something I haven’t. . . . The entire hillside above us is shifting, melting, collapsing. “Colby!” I try to bolt uphill, but the ground is too slick. I almost drop my gun when I fall. “Colby!”

He makes a frantic gesture for quiet–he hasn’t seen what’s happening. I point at the quickening slip above us. “Mudslide! Move!”

Instead of getting out of the path of the slide, Colby just keeps going, headed towards the cluster of rocks and a possibly armed felon. God save idiots like my partner. I keep moving, keep my gun in my hand, stumbling upward as tons of yellow-gray earth gather momentum and come pouring down the slope. There’s a rush of wind, and rain patters against my face. That must be what triggered the slide. I can feel it now, the shiver of the ground under my feet, a rumble too low to really hear.

A figure leaps from behind the boulder, and Colby grapples with him. I bring up my gun, but can’t get a shot, and there’s less time than I’d thought, there’s no time at all, and both figures vanish into a sweeping wall of mud.

In emergency training, they tell you to put your arms around your head if you can’t escape a debris flow or a mudslide. As long as you can survive the flow, you have a chance of making it out alive.

Hard to do when the world has thundered down into blackness and deafening silence, to cold gritty slime that wipes out all other sensations. No breath--no room to breathe, with the mud pouring into my ears, my nose, pressing against my mouth, pinning my arms and legs. I’m moving, I can tell that much by the bumps I hit, but there’s no way to measure time in this sluggish coffin, except by the lightheaded fire of hypoxia burning through my muscles. Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe. Better to suffocate outright than fill sensitive lung tissue with the shit currently trying to rip the skin from my face. Don’t. Breathe.


I slam into something hard. The pain jolts a bubble of air out of me, and silty muck fills my mouth. I gag and cough, and there’s air, too--the coughing blasts through a thin coating of mud, and I taste damp oxygen over the iron on my tongue. One hand is trapped, but the other wiggles when I make an effort. I wrench that hand closer to my face, pawing away the goo plastered over my eyes and nose.

For a minute all I can do is lie here. Breathing without shredding my lungs is a real trick. That muck hurts coming back up, and I’m still short of breath with the weight of all this earth against my diaphragm. I twist my arm to a better angle, and cautiously scratch more mud away from my eyelids. Between the light patter of rain and the wash of tears, my vision starts to clear a little.


I want to shout, want to hear him respond. But I don’t have breath, or any idea where he is. First things first: get out of here, then see if I can find Colby, or call backup.

The image of where all that mud was heading pushes everything out of my head for a moment. The clear open space at the base of the canyon, where my SUV is haphazardly parked, is the obvious place for backup to pull off the road and join our search. It’s also probably impassable at the moment. God, I hope no one was down there.

I can’t even turn my head to check. From what little I can see, I’m pretty sure the slide dumped me against a low shelf of rock or a thoroughly stationary log. I’m effectively buried in the drift it left behind.

The side of the canyon has become a featureless slope of gray under the heavy sky. Trees are bent or missing (and I’m blessed or damned lucky that I didn’t meet one of those on my way down), brush and debris swept away or smoothed over. No landmarks left to steer by. To use as a compass, to find . . .

I can’t see anything breaking the surface.

Nothing that’s moving, anyway. Not within my limited field of vision.

There’s no sound, either. Shouts or sirens would be nice.

I’ve pulled myself out of sticky situations before. Not this literally, I hope, Megan would say if she were here. I’m not thinking about that, though. I’m thinking about getting out of this mud bath.

It’s harder than it sounds. I’m pinned on my side, and it’s hard to dig with just one arm, especially when the sleeve of my jacket is filled with mud. It takes too long to clear enough room that I can lift my head. Longer, to clear my whole torso, and make enough space that I can use my other arm to get a little leverage against the ground.

Something in my hip twinges when I sit up. Surviving a mudslide with my head intact is about all I can ask for; hopefully it’s just in an awkward position, not broken or dislocated. I try not to think about stories I’ve read, about limbs torn off and necks broken. Dealing with that would just be the capper on a very bad day. At least last time Colby’s heart stopped we were on a dry boat at midday, not a battlefield of nature.

My watch is gone. Probably ruined anyway. I count the time by heartbeats as I scoop; every set of hundred that goes by chills me further. I’ve scraped away all the mud I can from my head and ears, but there’s still no sound except the wind. I’m alone on this hillside.

No. Not alone. I won’t think about that.

The last time this team fragmented, Don and I were left to get everything done. That worked out just great, and it is not happening again. I’m not going to let it.

I wriggle my foot out of its temporary grave and ease myself a few feet up the hill, where the mud left shallower deposits. Nothing seems broken. Good. I glance downhill, and see that my conjecture was right. There’s nothing to be seen of my SUV, or any other vehicle that might have been in the area. Just deep, flat mud. I’m going to have to be careful where I step. That’ll be like quicksand.

So, no backup. At least not yet.

It’s up to me, then. I turn to start crawling and am several yards away before I realize that I’m minus both shoes and socks. I’m surprised my pants stayed on. They’re weighted with mud, and in a moment of insight I pause to struggle out of my jacket. It falls to the ground and blends right in, mud on mud. No one will ever find it.

I start crawling again. “Colby!” Calling out chokes me, but he’ll hear that. “Colby, make some noise, huh? I don’t know where you are, man!”

Several minutes, several yards, and I have no idea which way to turn. “Colby!” There’s still no answer. I breathe the wrong way and spend a long minute coughing. Colby, damn you, answer me. Be here. Be all right.

Something brushes my ankle. I stop my reflexive kick just in time. Mud-colored something against more mud–I twist around and reach for whatever it was, and yes. It’s a hand. I wrap my fingers around the cool wrist, and its fingers twitch in response.

“Hang in there, Colby, I’ve got you.” I couldn’t tell you for sure that this is my partner I’m talking to. It could easily be the sick bastard we chased out here. But the fingers curl around mine, tight and quick, and I know who this is, lack of evidence be damned. “I’ll get you out. Hang on, don’t move until I tell you, okay?”

There are still no sirens. For all I know, Don and his new rookie really are at the bottom of the mudslide down there, and nobody knows two FBI agents are stranded on this tiny piece of Los Angeles wilderness. Can’t do anything about that now; I’ll settle for excavating my partner out of his latest mess. “Hang in there, buddy.” At least I’m here this time. At least someone is.

Last summer wasn’t the end. This won’t be, either.


This fic was written for the Angst vs Schmoop Challenge at numb3rswriteoff. After you’ve read the fic, please rate it by voting in the poll located here. (Your vote will be anonymous.) Rate the fic on a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being the best) using the following criteria: how well the fic fit the prompt, how angsty the fic was, and how well you enjoyed the fic. When you’re done, please check out the other challenge fic at numb3rswriteoff. Thank you!
Current Mood: tiredtired

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[User Picture]
Date:May 31st, 2008 01:38 pm (UTC)
Oh man, that was really fantastic! Loved David's pov, and his certainty that he's going to save Colby. The last line was perfect. *g*

(Awesome job with this prompt; I know it was a tough one. *g*)
[User Picture]
Date:May 31st, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it! David is much tougher to write than I thought he'd be, but I did have some fun with this one. Despite the evil, evil prompt. :-)
[User Picture]
Date:May 31st, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)

Poor Colby! You must write a sequel where you dig him out!

Oh, no! Don and Newbie! No killing the Newbie (or Don). They did that on CSI: Miami.

This is an excellent story. I love the David POV (not enough David stories out there.) And I really admire how you captured the feel of climbing through the mountains and getting caught in a mudslide. (Been in the mountains in the rain, never in a mudslide, knock on wood.)

Curse you, I shall have to give this a high rating! (Kidding) ((About the cursing, I mean. Not the high rating.))

Edited at 2008-05-31 05:30 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:May 31st, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
Hee! Oh, Colby's fine, I'm sure. Not that David's really all that sure himself, no matter how hard he's trying to be positive. *smooshes David* (Sheesh, I think I'm going to be writing angst all summer.) I really should try writing David again sometime. I like him.

I got a kick out of referencing the rookie, even though I'm leery of what she'll actually be like when she shows up.

Well, I gave your story a high rating also, so maybe we'll even each other out. *g*
[User Picture]
Date:February 11th, 2009 05:09 am (UTC)
Just dropping by to see if there's a sequel to this that I missed.

So? Is there a sequel? Did you smoosh the Newbie? I know that Nikki has made a few enemies in this fandom, so she might not survive this.

?? Inquiring Minds Want to Know ??
[User Picture]
Date:February 11th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Aw, no sequel yet, thought I'm amused you remembered. :) And I kinda like Nikki now that I've met her, so I probably wouldn't squoosh her.

I'm bad at writing sequels, just so you know.
[User Picture]
Date:May 31st, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
nicely done.
[User Picture]
Date:May 31st, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
[User Picture]
Date:June 1st, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
Ah, I see you got it done. Good on ya!

Now, no more ficathons until you finish the fandom script (and visions!Dean). :-)
[User Picture]
Date:June 1st, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
Yes'm, no more ficathons. *g*

(Hey, would you be free to chat a bit today? You could help me brainstorm CSI stuff or stuff for the fandom script....)

(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:June 1st, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Yeah, I thought it'd be fun to write some David and Colby, and now I want to write *more*. Hmmm. The boys, they are addicting.
[User Picture]
Date:June 1st, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
I really, really, really, really like this. This was awesome. I love David and Colby. I really do. And I know that David was lucky enough to keep his pants, but in my mind Colby wasn't as lucky... and maybe his shirt was another casualty... *ahem* yes... I'm dirty. I know. But really who doesn't want to see that man in as little as possible? I suppose I'll let him keep his boxers *evil grin*
[User Picture]
Date:June 1st, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, these guys are great, I should write more about them. LOL to Colby losing his clothes--it's not like any of his skin'll be visible under all that mud, but hey, whatever floats your boat. *g* (And I know what you mean, he's one attractive man, indeed.)
Date:June 2nd, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)

Now, seriously, was it absolutely necessary.....

((The sneaking posture he adopts to approach this possible hiding place is wildly exaggerated for my amusement.))

...to make me spew coffee on my computer first thing in the morning? And now that that image is burned in my brain, what am I supposed to tell people when I'm giggling for no apparent reason all day, huh? HUH?

Ahhh, 'tis a beautiful angsty story, as I told the ficathon people in no uncertain terms.....but you knew, didn't ya', that I'd zero in on the Colby scene. Makes a Monday at work go by sooooo much better. Thank you!
[User Picture]
Date:June 2nd, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Now, seriously, was it absolutely necessary.....

*snicker* Glad to be of service, lyra!

Yeah, well, Colby's awesome, and yeah, not surprised that you went for that bit particularly. Thank you so much, including for your vote! My team appears to have won, so, yay! *g*
[User Picture]
Date:June 3rd, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Aw, it came out so nicely, despite all your kvetching! (Not that I mind your kvetching, of course. You kvetch amusingly, and allow me to kvetch to you, in turn, so how could I?)

*hugs mud-covered David and Colby*
[User Picture]
Date:June 4th, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)
Aw, I'm glad you don't mind my kvetching. I'm starting to think it's a natural part of my writing process (if so, pity whoever I end up working with when I finally make it in television, lol).

And I'm glad you enjoyed the fic!
[User Picture]
Date:June 4th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
You mean there are people for whom kvetching is not an integral part of the creative process? But surely you jest! *grin*

And yes, very much enjoyed the fic, esp. the bits of humor woven in with the angst. David and Colby really are a fun friendship dynamic, I should read more of them.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
Hey I found this in a random google search. It really good. I absolutely adore David! Very nice angsty piece.
[User Picture]
Date:March 4th, 2009 07:54 am (UTC)
I think that may be the first time someone has read my fic from a Google search! I win! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed the story; it was my first time writing from David's pov, and I must do it again, because he is awesome.

Thank you so much for the unexpected review! It kind of made my evening.
Date:February 6th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)

Single Kontakt aus Munchen


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