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[Originally posted by The Burned Handler]

Max had broken the surface coughing and spluttering, soaked to his bones and spitting out blood and filthy water alike. Somehow he'd not cracked his head against the ramp on the pool's floor, and a moment's glance found Amy fleeing for the shallow end. For safety. For a chance to get her club or his gun and end him.


He'd moved without thought, swimming as best he could while trying not to inhale any of the disgusting sludgewater around him, pushing himself harder and faster until he was trudging up the ramp too and, taller than her, able to stand up properly. Hurrying through the quickly-shallowing water was almost impossible, each step dragged back by the filth around him, but he kept going, moved by thoughts that weren't thoughts, the part of the brain that said "kill the fucking tiger before it eats you and your kids".

Then he was throwing his arms around her and pushing his weight into hers and feeling her fall before she disappeared into the water with a scream that never finished, and he felt her hit bottom and his hips and legs moving to straddle and pin her there, while her hands clawed and batted at his until somewhere in his groping around he took hold of that lovely hair and made it his saviour, almighty leverage to keep her head where it lay while his free hand found one of hers and seized it by the wrist and shoved it to the floor to stay.

She kept fighting all the same, and he felt and heard the water churning and bubbling while he found himself swaying back and forth to stay on. He had held her down before, but that was when she'd wanted to be, and now all 130 pounds of her thrashed around underneath him and her free hand scratched and tore at his grip. He felt her try to bend a finger back to where it would break, but the water weakened her grip even as it made his body want to float away, and he tore from side to side to try to dislodge her and could only think Hold on.

He kept repeating those two words even as his arms began turning to lead and his legs ached from kneeling on long-neglected pool tiles that would have sliced into him if he were wearing something thinner. Breath was already coming faster and heavier, and he pulled back on her hair until he heard the bubbling scream racing to the surface, and saw her hand rise from the deep to bat and tear at his sleeve, then he pushed as hard as he could against water resistance and her weight and the heaviness seeping through his arms and Amy's marked preference for not being down there to crack her head against those tiles.



...Hold. Hold and pray and beg her under your breath to just stop.
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