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25 September 2009 @ 11:59 pm
The Hurt Locker Fiction: "Lethal Games" (PG-13)  
Title: Lethal Games
Fandom: The Hurt Locker
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: JT Sanborn, Will James (Gen, Drama)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: It's too hard to watch this, but he can't turn away…
Author's Notes: happywriter06 requested any kind of Will/JT ("The Hurt Locker") for The Fall Fandom Free-For-All. This is for you, because I know you could use some love right now.
Also for writers_choice, this is "Superhero."

x-x-x-x-x

It's too fucking hard to watch this, but he can't turn away—it's his job. He's survived ten missions with this psycho, and any one of them could've been the last. This one, maybe.

Will James thinks he's invincible, and every bomb-threat deployment brings them one step closer to finding out he's not. Will James can still pretend there's no possibility of failure, because he didn't have to pack up his commander—his friend—and send what was left of him home in a government-issue box.

Sanborn did.

It still hurts, two months later, and the whole sequence replays itself endlessly: the stalled robot, Sanborn and Eldridge sealing Thompson in the suit, Thompson going into danger-range to free the robot, and then the earth and sky exploding all around them.

Sanborn knows the risks, the cost to everyone if the mission goes sour, and yet he has to stand there and watch Will James throw sense and protocol out the window exactly when the situation demands them most. Hell, half the time the motherfucker takes off the protective suit.

He's going to get himself killed, no doubt. Problem is, he might take Sanborn and Eldridge along with him.

The bastard's good with bombs, maybe even the best yet. He's got some kind of feel for them, some superhuman instinct for where they are and whether there are more he hasn't found. That seven-bomb cluster three weeks back… they were lucky, unbelievably lucky. James didn't quit after finding the first series of wires (even though it had already taken too damn long), and he didn't set off any of the bombs in that grouping. Three square blocks, Sanborn figures, would've been the minimum. Nothing but bodies and debris after an explosion of that size.

Sweat trickles into Sanborn's eye in the unrelenting heat as he scans the perimeter while trying to tether James back to the team before he goes loose cannon again. James is approaching the suspicious vehicle. "Do not open the door," Sanborn commands, only to see James reach out his hand. "Do you copy? Respond!" he barks, for all the good it does.

He braces himself as James opens the door anyway and slides into the passenger seat, and why the fuck do they even bother calling this a team? James doesn't listen to him and they can't help him, other than monitoring the area. Any sharp-shooting soldier could do that, without wasting all the special bomb-squad training Sanborn worked so hard to learn.

The next five minutes stagger by slowly, every nerve in Sanborn's body alert and messaging home constantly as he surveys windows, doorways, the edges of alleys and the roof-lines above. Then James gives the "all clear" signal, and they cover him while he makes his way back to the jeep.

Sanborn can't help noticing how relaxed the Sergeant seems, cucumber-cool apart from the smile, while Sanborn himself fights to stay focused as they pack up and leave the area, always watching for snipers or other danger along the way.

They get drunk later, back at the barracks. Sanborn and the Sergeant take shots at each other like last time, testing something that might be anger or revenge, or some twisted kind of friendship that has its roots in disregard and distrust. It's fucked-up, no matter how you look at it, but all of them are laughing in the end.

It makes no more sense than any other damn thing that goes on in wartime, that's for sure.

Months go by, and all three of them are still alive by grace or miracle. Sanborn's no closer to understanding James or his dumbass antics, and he never will be. He's no more comfortable with the risks either, no surprise there, because only a fool would ignore them. He'll never be that stupid.

It's when they find the abandoned body of the boy—packed with enough C-4 to take out the surrounding buildings—that something finally changes.

James stays behind so long that they almost go back to get him, and he doesn't set the body to blow like he's supposed to. Instead, he staggers out into the sun with the dead child in his arms like a precious burden.

What for? Sanborn wonders, because it's too late to do anything that matters. They're on damage-control here and the clock is ticking, and this isn't the first child to die in this godforsaken war.

Then he unravels the look on James' face, something vulnerable and fleeting.

Will James might think he's invincible—probably still does, and maybe always will.

But today he finally realized that other people are terribly, heartbreakingly mortal.


---------- fin --------

 
 
 
happy is as happy does: Fangirly joyhappywriter06 on September 26th, 2009 07:53 am (UTC)
This was the first thing I saw when I checked my f-today. I can't even tell you how happy I am right now.

I love the character of James because he's the kind of guy that makes you want to punch him. And I love the character of JT for the line that he walks in dealing with him as a superior and a man.

They get drunk later, back at the barracks. JT and the Sergeant take shots at each other like last time, testing something that might be anger or revenge, or some twisted kind of friendship that has its roots in disregard and distrust. It's fucked-up, no matter how you look at it, but all of them are laughing in the end.
My favorite line because it takes me back to how I felt watching that scene. I was nervous because their interactions coudld've gone either way and they can't afford to hate each other.

You. Are. The. Best.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on September 26th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
I love the character of James because he's the kind of guy that makes you want to punch him.
So good at what he does, and yet so infuriating, and dangerous to other people because of that overconfidence.

And I loved JT because of his steadiness in dealing with every situation, no matter how aggravating. You could never be sure Eldridge wouldn't come apart, but JT was utterly dependable even if it was killing him to stay planted in a bad situation.

My favorite line because it takes me back to how I felt watching that scene. I was nervous because their interactions coudld've gone either way and they can't afford to hate each other.
The whole movie made me nervous, because they keep returning to incredibly dangerous situations and then you have the volatility of James and his risky choices on top of it. I spent half the movie waiting for them to kill each other out of some form of stupidity. And I know what you mean about that scene-- it could have turned so easily into something poisonous and unfixable, and in the end they'll still have to get up and work together the next day.

I'm so glad you liked this! I hope it brought you some much needed happy, just having your own story from a very random-fandom indeed. ♥
tyricaltyrical on September 26th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC)
WOW! This was so spot on for this film. I knew something changed in the man when he saw that boy's body but I couldn't figure out what. This story right here encapsulated that moment and clarifies it and brings out that raw emotion that identifies Will James as human. A human with a heart that can break, feel pain, can be touched by the horror of war, and by the fingers of death. My Lady you truly have a small idea of how much I adore your talent. Simply breathtaking.

Edited at 2009-09-26 12:12 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on September 27th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
I knew something changed in the man when he saw that boy's body but I couldn't figure out what. This story right here encapsulated that moment and clarifies it and brings out that raw emotion that identifies Will James as human.
That was such a pivotal moment, in how the viewer feels about his character, and when I set out to write this for Simone I knew exactly which prompt I wanted to work with, and where this story would end. James transforms the tiniest bit over time, and the shift from being the careless jackass who's sure nothing can touch him to realizing that it ISN'T always about him made his character all the richer.

I'm so pleased you liked this-- the three of us were among the few who saw this movie and were really caught up in it. It's honestly one of the best war movies I've ever seen-- I'd place it third behind "Platoon" and "84-Charlie Mopic," both of which I love (and which are incredibly different from each other).

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
devilc: JoshJadeddevilc on October 15th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
OMG!

Somebody else wrote Hurt Locker fic! Snoopy Dance!

But today he finally realized that other people are terribly, heartbreakingly mortal.

And this gets right back to a line I read in a really good review of Hurt Locker, which described the movie as a series of cruel tests of character.

Excellent.

Bravo!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on October 15th, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
I can't believe there's more than one person that did! Even on my f-list, it seems as if maybe two other people besides me have seen this movie, though it was incredible and I've recommended it.

which described the movie as a series of cruel tests of character.
It IS, and not only of Will James' character but of all the people in the movie. But it's a stunning story, and the characters are less predictable than you'd expect.

I'm so glad you liked this-- and I've got tabs open to look at your fics!
sassy, classy, and a bit smart-assy: Gretchen thumbs upbadboy_fangirl on February 3rd, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
So, yes, I watched The Hurt Locker and I really liked it. Do you think the title of the film refers to the cache of stuff he kept under his bed--relics of his dismantling travels?

This is good, though I couldn't figure out who JT was until I IMDB'd it and saw that Sanborn's first name is JT. :-)

I agree with Simone about that scene where they were "play" fighting, because I was like 50% 'boys are so weird' and 50% scared someone was going to get knifed.

When we were watching it, I said to Lisa that you need to be a little bit crazy to the kind of job they do, and we need them to be a little bit crazy so there are people to do that kind of job. It's a horrifying thing. When he re-upped at the end, I knew it was the only thing he could do, but I was glad the movie was over and I didn't have to watch and wonder when he would die.

Excellent job.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on February 4th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
Do you think the title of the film refers to the cache of stuff he kept under his bed--relics of his dismantling travels?
I had to look this up again (the meaning was explained around the time the film released in the U.S.) It seems to be less a literal thing than an idea of a place you box up your pain (repressing it so you can go on, which applies more to Sanborn). Though the urban slang dictionary uses it as synonymous with failure, as in "We sent that team to the hurt locker."

I agree with Simone about that scene where they were "play" fighting, because I was like 50% 'boys are so weird' and 50% scared someone was going to get knifed.
Oh, me too. That scene was so full of raw emotions and negative bleedover that there was always the real possibility of one of the guys losing it and killing someone. But it was a great scene, because it underlined how these guys are being forced to work together even though they're not functioning well as a unit and they don't trust each other for a second (and with good reason).

When he re-upped at the end, I knew it was the only thing he could do, but I was glad the movie was over and I didn't have to watch and wonder when he would die.
Exactly. Some people didn't really "get" the film (there's an idiot on imdb.com who has a campaign of "The Hurt Locker Is Not A Film" running), but that opening quote with "War is a drug" said it all as far as the main character was concerned. He was an adrenaline junkie, and danger was the only thing that made him feel alive. Even after all he'd seen and learned, he couldn't help going back to chase that thrill, even knowing that someday it'll probably kill him. It's frustrating, and yet it's absolutely true to the character.

I'm so glad you liked this-- I really loved the film, and I wish more people had seen it. It was probably the best movie I saw in 2009, and my third favorite war movie ever (behind "Platoon" and "84-Charlie Mopic". That last one really deserves to be better-known too).

sassy, classy, and a bit smart-assy: Atonementbadboy_fangirl on February 5th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
Have you ever seen Tigerland, starring Colin Farrell? It's one of my favorite, not "war" movies, I guess, but "military" movies. It's about guys in Boot Camp, getting ready to go to Vietnam. Aside from one gratuitous sex scene (which I so love Kathryn Bigelow for not going there), it's my favorite Colin Farrell performance, and I'm a big fan of his. It was his American Film debut, and the first time he portrayed an American. He hung around bars in West Texas to pick up the accent.

Also, Jeremy Renner and Colin Farrell starred in SWAT together. 6 degrees of separation, and what have you!

I've never seen Platoon, or the other film you mention. With Platoon it's always been that I was afraid of it traumatizing me. In comparison with The Hurt Locker how would you grade it on violence?
tommycruisestommy50702 on January 16th, 2015 04:39 am (UTC)
The Hurt Locker is one of my all-time favorite movies.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Random Fandomhalfshellvenus on January 28th, 2015 06:53 am (UTC)
Mine too! It was both tense and intense, and you just couldn't be sure that the Will James wouldn't get all of his men killed.