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Chaos fic: Another World 1/1

September 6th, 2011 (12:34 pm)
Tags: ,

Title:  Another World

Disclaimer:  Not mine.

A/N:  This is an AU piece stemming from eviinsanemonkey who prompted with what each team member would be doing if they weren’t in the CIA.  Quick beta given by the unparalleled and super-cool moogsthewriter.  Other mistakes are mine.

Summary:  Four different men all wanting to make the world better, the only ways they can.

-o-

In another world, Rick Martinez works for the State Department.  His interest in linguistics dovetailed nicely with political science, and with his high marks and abounding praise from his instructors, he was a shoe-in for an internship in Washington before he graduated.  He impressed so many people that a position was created for him, and he’s been there ever since.

He values his work, even when it’s simple.  It’s in his nature to do what needs to be done.  Government is complex and difficult, and for all its corruption, Rick knows it’s the only hope for the world.  He can make a difference in that; he can do it better.

This is his belief from the beginning, even when all he’s doing is simple translations in a small office no one can find.  But his work is so precise and punctual, that people begin taking note.  Soon, he’s being tapped for live translation jobs.  Not long after, he starts accompanying aides and diplomats overseas to serve as a liaison.  

It’s quite the learning experience.  It’s a whole new world--more complex than he could have imagined.  His ideals are tested and his strengths are forged.  His understanding of international politics is heightened and he starts to build a career.  His skills are matched by his quick thinking, and people soon count on him for his discretion as well.

Rick likes the traveling.  He likes rubbing shoulders with important people.  He likes knowing the ins and outs of the world stage.  He feels like what he does matters, like he could make a difference in this.

So when there’s talk of promoting him, it’s everything he could want.  More responsibility, more opportunity.  He’ll be in situations where it’s more than his translation skills that matter, but where he can actually change things.  Improve relationships around the world.  Bolster American interests and forge world peace.

This is what it’s about, Rick thinks.  Not the perks, not the power.  Making the world better.

His bosses love this about him, grasp onto it and tout it whenever they can.  They beam when they introduce him, sing his praises and soft peddle him into success.

Rick is grateful for this.  He falls in love with the daughter of a diplomat, marries her, and they have three kids before Rick gets his first real posting as an aide to the U.S. Ambassador in Brazil.

It’s a good life, Rick thinks.  An important life.  At least, that’s what he tells himself every night before he goes to sleep, even when he dreams something to the contrary.

-o-

Billy Collins has always managed to talk his way in and out of trouble.  This means he makes friends as readily as he loses them, and for every success he’s encountered, he seems to leave enough mess to undo it all the same.  He wants to change the world, sometimes, but he also wants to enjoy it while he does.

At university, he’s popular.  He studies everything he can, just because it all seems worthwhile.  His teachers like him, but he’s prone to drinking too hard and talking too much.  He’s not serious when he streaks across campus one day, but the marks on his record are serious enough.

These blemishes are minor, perhaps, but they keep him from the best jobs when he graduates.  Still, if there are lemons, Billy makes lemonade, and even though he’s not interested in sales, he’s still damn good at it.  He thinks maybe he can change the world later, after he makes his paycheck.

The company is small and since he brings in over half their revenue, they are inclined to overlook his indiscretions.  And when he questions what they’re selling and how they’re doing it, he’s told that surely he, of all people, can understand the value of a few indiscretions, every now and then.

This gives Billy pause, but he needs the job, so it’s easy to look the other way.  And really, it’s still simple to fit in, to thrive.  The people there aren’t exactly nice, but they get drunk well, and Billy can make small talk on the weather and profit margins, even when he’d rather talk about other things.  He’s the life of every party, but when he goes home, he still feels alone.

After a few years, he’s making good money but he’s miserable.  He has everything he could want except the things he actually needs.  He gets more outrageous in his sales pitches, more blunt in his dealings, because he mostly doesn’t care anymore.  Such antics are the only distraction he has to hide the fact that he’s not a very good person.

He thinks he’s okay with that, but ultimately he’s not.  On his latest business trip, he drinks too much and tells all the buyers what they can do with their money, tells them about the corruption that he knows about but overlooks, and flips them all the bird before walking out of the meeting.

His boss is incredulous, yelling and speechless in alternating turns.  Billy tells him thank you for the work, but it’s over now, and promptly quits and never looks back.

Unemployed, Billy remembers what he loves.  He remembers reading and music, writing and art.  He sells his spacious flat and opts for an artist’s studio.  At night, he starts playing at the local pubs and working on commission for whoever will pay him.  It’s not a glamorous life, but it’s one that makes him happy.

He makes friends that way, meets a girl.  When someone approaches him about a record deal, Billy’s almost inclined to say no, but said girl is pregnant and tells Billy that he still has something to share with the world.

It seems sort of silly, but she really seems to mean it, and Billy begins to wonder if there’s more than one way to make a difference in this world.

-o-

Casey Malick works in security.  When he tells people he works in security, they aren’t impressed, but Casey isn’t some two-bit security guard working the night watch at a factory.  He’s a top of the line agent for a world-class security firm.  

This is lucrative work.  Casey has enough money to pay for a comfortable apartment and virtually any amenity he can think of.  He uses his expendable income for fine meals and the latest weaponry, which is acquired mostly by legal measures.  

Still, Casey doesn’t actually care about the money.  He likes his toys, this much is true, and he has no qualms with the women who seem to flock to men of his monetary stature.  But Casey doesn’t need the money--doesn’t crave it the way most people do.  For him, it’s all about the challenge.

It’s always been about the challenge for Casey.  In person, he’s neither impressive-looking nor imposing.  He’s always compensated for this by being the best in all the ways he can control, be it intellect, information, or simple physical prowess.

In this, Casey has excelled.  He joined the army and rose through the ranks quickly.  When he left, his superiors were disappointed, but while a lifelong career in the military would have perks and stability, Casey felt he had proved everything he could in this role.

Numerous positions were available to him after his departure, and while Casey spent some time around the world studying various self-defense techniques, he eventually allowed himself to be recruited by a security firm.  He only entertained the best proposals, and his salary demands are less about the dollar amount than the principle of having such leverage.

To some, it would be a lonely life, but Casey doesn’t inherently crave companionship.  Each mission is more than enough for him, and he relishes the challenges.  At first, he doesn’t care about who the clients are.  His background intelligence is only a matter of being properly forewarned of any potential risks.

But sometimes it bothers him.  Protecting companies that associate with terrorists.  Providing security for dictators who order the execution of innocent people.  It’s all in the job, he tells himself, except he wonders if it should be.

When he’s asked to head a detail for a Columbian drug lord, at first Casey is going to play it by the book.  The payday is immense; the challenge great.

But as he does his background, there are too many things that bother him.  Things this man has done that should not be allowed by any society.  The outstanding warrants mean that Casey is not only protecting him from rival factions but law enforcement agencies as well.

Casey has helped evade authorities before.  But he has to wonder if it’s right.

Ultimately, he stages his own coup.  Arranges it so the FBI has total access to his client, setting him up for a clean, legal bust completely devoid of violence.

Casey could cover it up.  He could spin a story and plant enough evidence to defend himself to his employer.

Instead, he takes pleasure in submitting his report, including every acute detail of how he betrayed his client and went against his orders and cashed his check anyway.

When he’s fired, he doesn’t bother cleaning out his desk.  Just holds his head high and walks out with a grin, saluting his colleagues as he pities them all the same.

-o-

Michael Dorset is a doctor.  He could have worked at any research institution of his choosing, pursuing the best cases with the most notable advances.  But instead he takes an ER position at a hospital that needs him.

It doesn’t pay well, and he’s still drowning in his school debt.  He works terrible hours and is spit at, cursed at, and bled on regularly.  It’s mostly thankless work, and he starts taking on additional administrative duties because there’s simply no one else to do it.

Still, Michael’s good at it.  He’s good at seeing things and figuring out solutions.  Whether it’s a patient presenting with odd and disparate symptoms or a hospital budget that simply seems unfixable, Michael’s the one who gets it done.

He meets a pretty girl on the side, and she’s about the only thing he has going for him.  They date and they marry, but Michael works too much and no matter how good his intentions are, she doesn’t like coming second to every person who walks through the ER doors.  Michael understands when she leaves him, and asks for nothing in the settlement.

Married or not, Michael works the same.  He saves lives; he keeps people employed.  It’s a thankless job, and most people he helps never even know his name.

In all of that, it doesn’t seem like enough.  Every time he turns around, the rest of the hospital board is breathing down his neck--to trim costs, to cut corners.  When he helps people on his own time, they fret over liability and ask him to stop.  Michael asks how he can stop helping people when that’s his job.

They tell him his job is at the hospital.  He has to understand his boundaries.

But Michael doesn’t understand his boundaries.  

This usually works out, but when Michael gives away medicine to a patient who can’t afford it, he gets caught because it ends up being picked up on a bust by the local PD.  He’s brought up on review and lambasted by his colleagues, and even when they let him keep his job, it still feels wrong to Michael.

He’s half inclined to quit, but the fact is, there’s no one else to do this job.  If Michael won’t help these people, then no one will, and as much as he hates the system, he needs to leverage it if he’s going to be any help at all.

It’s not perfect--nothing in Michael’s life is--but it has to be enough.

At least, he hopes it’s enough.

-o-

The flights out of D.C. are overbooked.  With a security conference, a medical seminar, and a musical festival in town, that’s probably no surprise, but it’s still inconvenient.  Four passengers are bumped from their flights, regardless of their pleas.

Rick tries his contacts at the State Department, but they’re all in bed.  Billy calls home to talk to his girlfriend, who assures him that the baby is fine and they’ll be happy to see him whenever he gets back.  Casey uses a few creative threats with the airline personnel but ultimately decides that the free miles are worth it.  Michael is simply too tired to care.

They end up in the bar, which is the only place in the terminal still open.  Rick sits at the bar in defeat, ordering a drink that’s stronger than he’d normally opt for, but he figures what the hell.

He’s halfway done when he notices Billy staring at him.

Billy smiles, lifting his drink.  “You look down, mate,” he says.

Rick laughs bitterly.  “Got bumped from my flight.”

Billy nods, taking a drink.  “Join the club,” he says.  “Something important?”

Rick shrugs.  “It could almost be a matter of national security,” he says.

Billy lifts his eyebrows.  “And here I was feeling miserable about being away from home another day,” he says.  “When men like you have real concerns.”

Rick smiles half-heartedly.  “What do you do?”

“Musician,” Billy informs him.

“Yeah?” Rick asks.

Billy nods.  “You?”

“Government,” Rick returns.

“Ah,” Billy says.  “The noblest of all thankless callings.”

At the far end of the bar, Casey snorts.  “Governments are full of corrupt and opportunistic individuals,” he says, taking a sip of his own drink.

“Not everyone,” Rick defends, because it’s a common criticism that he bristles against.

“Aye,” Billy agrees.  “And I prefer to give each man the benefit of the doubt, regardless of past or occupation.”

“That’s because you’re a musician,” Casey gripes.  “You add no inherent value to society.”

Michael is at a table behind them when he speaks up.  “The value of human life is measured in more than physical well being and scientific advancement,” he says.  “Studies suggest that the arts are crucial to overall happiness.”

“Because the studies are conducted by bleeding hearts who are lobbying for anything that will win them a grant to give them another paycheck,” Casey tells them.

Michael’s eyes narrow.  “They say bitterness is usually a front.”

Casey inclines his head.  “Usually is an operative word.”

There’s a brief lull before Billy says to Casey, “So, then, what do you do, mate?”

“As if it matters,” Casey grumbles.

“We’re stranded in an airport,” Michael contends.  “Why not?”

Casey sighs.  “I’m currently entertaining my options.”

Billy grins.  “So you’re unemployed.”

“And no doubt about to file for unemployment,” Michael says with a bemused smirk.

Casey glowers.  “I have no need for unemployment,” he says.  “I am entirely self sufficient.”

Rick lifts his chin.  “So what are you going to do next?” he asks.

“Anything I want,” Casey snaps.

Michael gets up, moves his drink to the bar, nodding at the bartender to fill it.  He smiles.  “That’s called denial,” he says.  “A classic response when someone is suddenly out of control of their life situation.”

“Oh, and how would you know?” Casey asks harshly.

“I’m a doctor,” Michael replies.  “I specialize in emergency medicine, but I find that keeping up on my psychiatry is pretty useful for most of my patients.”

“A doctor,” Rick says, impressed.

“In league with pharmaceutical companies and big business, no doubt,” Casey mutters.

“I try not to be,” Michael says.  “But it’s hard.”

Rick snorts.  “I know the feeling.”

“Which is why such industries need brave men such as yourself,” Billy says.  “Real heroes stay in the system to change it, make a difference from the inside out.”

“You talk like you know,” Rick says.

Billy blushes.  “And sadly, I took the easy way out,” he says.  “I didn’t have the stomach to make dealings with injustice at the cost of my soul.”

“Sometimes walking away is the nobler choice,” Michael concedes.

“Sometimes I wish I could do it,” Rick admits.

“No, I admire you men,” Billy says.  “Sticking with it.”

Casey scoffs.  “Nobility is a lost ideal,” he says.  “It’s all pragmatic.  Making the best difference will depend entirely on each situation and each individual.”

They all stare at him.  “So the cynic does have a heart of gold,” Billy says.

“I never said that unemployment was a choice I regretted,” Casey says back darkly.

“I do wonder, though,” Billy says thoughtfully.  “How life could have been different.  You know?”

They all nod, staring at their drinks.  

After a moment, Rick sighs and nods his head.  “I should probably be going,” he says.  “I can catch another flight in the morning.”

They all nod back.

Rick hesitates.  “To making a difference,” Rick says, lifting his glass.

“Any way we can,” Billy adds, clinking it firmly with his own.

“I can drink to that,” Michael says.

“I’ve drunk to less,” Casey admits.

Their glasses slosh together, and they finish their drinks before going their separate ways, four different men all wanting to make the world better, the only ways they can.





Comments

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: September 6th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
Billy

The mark of a good AU is one where the reader says: "Oh, those are *my* characters!" And I found myself nodding all through this fic because they *are* my characters.

Lovely, bittersweet fic.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 6th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
chaos team 2

That's a very nice thing to say :) I still love these characters very much, and I'm starting to miss them more and more.

Thanks!

Posted by: Walking Liability (asemic)
Posted at: September 6th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)

I love this. You did a great job slotting them into their lives and the consequences of their actions. I am so glad that there is a good amount of well written gen fic for this show.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 6th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
CHAOS team

I wasn't sure what to do with them all at first, but as I wrote, their stories seemed to come together so I'm glad it read believably :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: September 6th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
Chaos: Team

aw, this is brilliant! So perfect!!

(feel free to prompt :D)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 6th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
billy watches

I ended up liking the prompt quite a bit, so I'm glad the results were worthwhile :)

(I keep listening to Mumford and Sons' "After the Storm" so something team centric--or certain members of the team, if you prefer--inspired by those lyrics would be nice.)

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
Chaos: Team

(here you are!)

Posted by: squeezynz (squeezynz)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)

oh well done....excellent. Spot on with the characterisation and voices. Just perfect.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
billy earnest

Thank you :)

(And randomly unrelated, but I completely love Billy's expression in your icon for some reason.)

Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)
Vin profile - sharp

That is so - sad, but so lovely at the same time. I can see each of them exactly that way, because they do each have that 'drive' to try, no matter how much they think they'll fail.

Nicely done. Thank you!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 12:32 pm (UTC)
chaos group

This fic sort of makes me want to keep writing something until these four finally do find their way to each other on a more permanent basis because they just seem incomplete otherwise.

Thanks :)

Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
Vin profile - sharp

Oh I totally agree - you should keep writing until they all end up together!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
chaos group

Since I need more plot bunnies.

(Though I did start plotting such things in my head...)

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC)
Team

It's nice to see what would happen to out guys if they hadn't joined the CIA :)
They are still them, but somehow still different. And I absolutely liked that they still managed to meet each other and somehow connect

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 12:33 pm (UTC)
billy watches

I really do prefer them in the CIA, all things considered, but a little what if jaunt is always fun :)

(And I have a fic for you but my poor beta is already inundated so it may be a bit yet!)

Thanks!

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 12:59 pm (UTC)
Inconspicuous

Definitely prefer them in the CIA, that way their more disruptive :)
(Waiting makes the anticipation grow :)
BTW: I found a reason why they are in the mountains)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
billy likes

Although, now that I'm thinking on it, I could have made something far plottier with this AU lives. Just think if these four, sans CIA met, under a situation of duress...giving them a chance to each show their skills, bond, and endure peril (and whump!).

I need to stop thinking of plots, though :)


(And I will try not to make you wait too long.)

And I knew you would :) You're awesome like that.

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
James Murray

Ah, the more plot ideas, the more stories and the smaller the withdrawal :)

(*Blushes* Don't know about awesome, but you can judge once I'm finished)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC)
billy guitar

LOL, this is true. Which is why so many of my bunnies have become fics these days. Plus, I'm four weeks from my due date, and it's like this gigantic deadline that I'm frantically trying to fit all my fic ideas in front of.

(Your fics are always so much fun! And random, but did you ever post Home is a Fire? I don't recall seeing it.)

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
Torch

I have like three fics that I'm currently writing *facepalm* And I've written down ideas for other possible stories. Have totally forgotten about Home is a fire, and will post it right away :)
At least it's a positive deadline :) But then you definitely will be too busy to write. Is otherwise everything running smoothly in the pregnancy?

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
billy watches

Three fics? What fandoms? Inquiring minds want to know!

Right now I'm mostly just plowing through one and then plowing through another. And I'm ridiculously impressionable. Seriously, just about any idea involving whump is one that I'll tackle for no other reason than someone told me I should.

It is a deadline I'm mostly looking forward to, although I remember the sleep deprivation from the first time around and that is sort of overwhelming to think about. And I'm hoping that I'm not AWOL for TOO long, but I suppose newborns take precedence over fic.

Everything seems to be going okay these days. Just lots of not fun pregnancy symptoms that you almost can't avoid at this point :)

(And I'm so glad you posted Home is a Fire! It deserved to go up :))

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
Spies

Inquiring minds will get answers :) They are actually all Chaos fics. One of them is the fall down the mountain story :)

I shouldn't start so many fics at once, but my mind just keeps throwing out these ideas and lines that I want to use and I just have to write them down, scared that I forget them when I don't.

Maybe you're lucky at the little one will be a calm one. There are some, who start to sleep through the night relatively fast. And you can always read her fics as a goodnight story :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 7th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
billy earnest

:) That makes me smile a lot to know. Because there is seriously not enough Chaos fic out there to feed my insatiable need for it. And the fact that you're going to make Billy fall down a mountain is beyond awesome.

And it's better to get the ideas on paper before they leave altogether. Although then it's hard to follow any one through to completion, but that's a good problem to have.

Time will tell, I guess :) And sometimes sleep deprivation actually loosens the muse, so who knows what insanity I'll write about at that point.

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