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There is a circle of cold steel pressed against my temple. It occupies the entirety of my concentration, even though I can barely see it out of the corner of my eye. It is gargantuan in the realm of my perception, shoving out the sound of his breathing behind me and the feel of the nylon around my wrists and the hard wood of the chair against my ass.

“You know,” he says, “when I pull the trigger, it won't be murder. Per se.”

I disagree. He knows it, but I'm not talking to him. He is, after all, holding a gun to my head. That's just over the line.

“Just flesh and bone and neurons whizzing away in there. Nothing important.”

The skin over my temple stretches as my jaw clenches and the muscle flexes. The tip of the revolver moves slightly against my head. Goosebumps radiate from the point of contact, and I shudder involuntarily. Even if I agreed with his assessment of the situation, my body definitely would not.

I flex my hands, trying to keep the circulation going, but the nylon ropes are tied tightly. I sigh. His breath is hot against the back of my neck.

“You're backed up and everything. You're going to wake up in a loft, in bed, in silk pajamas.” He chuckles, a rattling sound deep in his throat like a wishbone having a seizure. “I would do that for you, man. Silk pajamas. I'll even put them on for you.”

“That's real big of you, Dean,” I reply. “You're a fucking asshole.”

Dean chuckles again. There's a little bit of spit on the back of my neck, now. It does not bother me as much as the revolver held to my temple.

“You'll be a pioneer, Fitz,” he says breathily. “A trailblazer. A goddamn hero.”

“I will also be dead. Not so uncommon among heroes, though, is it?”

“I'd argue with you, Fitz,” Dean says with a smile – yes, I can hear him smiling, the jerk – “but I think the man with the gun is usually right, isn't he?”

“That's because people who argue with him often end up dead, in a decidedly non-heroic fashion.”

“Yes, but—“

“And that, Dean, is because the guy holding the gun is often fucking crazy.”

Dean is silent for a moment.

“Are you trying to imply something, Fitz?”

“No. No, I'm just making an observation. Please continue to explain the benefits of you shooting me in the head.”

“You're really making this out to sound worse than it is.”

“Oh, I'm sorry. I'm just a little uncomfortable with being dead.”

“But that's just it, you won't be dead.”

I am silent. We've gone down that road before.

“Okay, you won't be dead for very long.”

His breathing and the creak of the chair legs.

“You won't even know you're gone.”

“Fuck you, Dean. Just...fuck you.”

The revolver suddenly vanishes from the side of my head, and Dean sighs. I let out a breath that I didn't realize I had been holding. You never really realize how good it feels to not have a gun held to your head until you've actually had one held to your head. It's like taking off wet socks, but better.

Dean's shoes click against the concrete as he walks around in front of me. He is wearing a lab coat and sweatpants with old paint on them. Obviously he did not want to get bloodstains on his good clothes. He is unshaven and sweaty, and his hands are a little shaky. He really thinks I'm not going to be dead – for long – but it's not easy to shoot someone in the head, especially if you know their name.