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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Chaos fic: These Mistakes You've Made 1/1

December 8th, 2011 (10:37 am)
Tags: ,

Title: These Mistakes You’ve Made (You’ll Just Make Them Again)

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: I wrote this on a whim after exchanging emails with sophie_deangirl. It’s mostly a plotless excuse to whump Billy nice and good :) Much thanks to moogsthewriter for a beta.

Summary: Maybe Billy’s been suffocating all along and he just never knew it until someone kindly tied a noose around his neck and started to squeeze.



-o-

Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, boys
So cradle your head in your hands,
and breathe, just breathe

-from Breathe (2 AM) by Anna Nalick

-o-

As a spy, Billy has learned never to take things for granted.

Things like identity and friendships. Job security and sleeping peacefully at night. Clean clothes and knowing what time zone he’s in. Such things are tenuous luxuries for a man like him, and for the most part, Billy’s okay with that. Accepted it, embraced it, and thoroughly moved on.

Funny, though. Even with all he’s given up -- his home, his family, his country, his pride -- he’s always counted on breathing as his fall back. That lowest common denominator that makes him still human -- in general, the thing that prevents him from being a corpse.

So maybe that’s why it comes as such a shock when he can’t do it anymore.

Yes, he’s mentally prepared himself for pain and torture and general blood loss. After all, getting nabbed by a mark is never an ideal situation. And he has been well and thoroughly nabbed -- him and Rick both, double crossed by their asset in a turn fit for Shakespeare. Billy might wax poetic about the injustice of it all -- for he is surely fortune’s fool -- but he’s a little too busy not breathing to muster up much more on that train of thought.

It’s the damned rope around his neck. He had thought that it was just a pleasant way to lead prisoners around like cattle, but now he can clearly feel the other benefit of such arcane measures. When said cattle are being difficult -- and Billy can’t deny that he takes a certain pride in being difficult -- it also makes for an apt lasso.

Only instead of jerking him into submission, apparently squeezing the life out of him is all the more fun. Because where a lasso is good clean fun, a noose must surely be so much better.

At least, that’s what Billy surmises, from their captor’s point of view. Because he’s certainly not having fun as he tries to take another strangled breath, his body bucking for air and coming up short.

The rope tightens again and pain explodes throughout his body as his throat is constricted and his fleeting wheezes are cut off entirely. Death by asphyxiation is not a pleasant way to go, though Billy’s never experienced it firsthand before.

It’s something to experience, all right. The sort of thing you just have to feel in order to understand it, and Billy understands it all too well now.

At first, it’s not even just the lack of air. It’s the disbelief. The pointless inhales that dredge up nothing, nothing at all.

It doesn’t seem possible; it doesn’t seem real. Billy’s mind seems incapable of making such things parse, as if he can just work harder and the oxygen will be there for the taking once again.

Billy flails a bit -- or tries to. He’s gotten out of sticky situations before; he’s gotten out of plenty of worse situations before. All he needs to do is take a breath, inhale and exhale, breathe. He rocks his body, fighting against the hold, but such measures would be more effective were he not on his knees with his hands tied behind his back. There’s also a gun pressed to his back, but honestly, he doesn’t much care about that as he tries again to breathe.

It doesn’t work.

Disbelief gives way to desperation, and Billy realizes that he needs to find a solution and quickly because he needs to breathe, he needs to breathe. He bucks and rocks -- harder now, with everything he has -- trying to kick his legs and wiggle his hands free. The neurons in his brain are firing at a rapid pace, trying to keep up with the millions of thoughts flitting through his oxygen-starved brain.

Things like, did he leave the coffee pot on at home? Did he forget to tip the maid? Did he remember his mother’s birthday last year? Does the CIA provide funeral benefits? Would anyone show up to a bloody funeral anyway?

And he inexplicably remembers. Remembers kissing Olivia Drummond for the first time, her lips like honey, warm against his. He remembers graduating from university, walking across that stage with diploma in hand. He remembers sitting on a plane with a one-way ticket to America, knowing that he can’t go back, can never go back. He remembers telling Rick that this mission was no big deal, in and out, get it done, walk in the park.

His lungs burn -- they’re on fire -- and his eyes water. He can see everything now, the entire scene in crystal clarity. He sees the men with guns around them, the warehouse stacked with cargo. He sees Rick next to him, in a similar pose, but the noose lax around his neck even as his guard holds it ready in his hands.

It’s all so clear to him now. That this mission is as simple as the next only because none of them are ever simple. That Billy’s got more enemies than friends in this world, and some would put a bullet in his head before saying hello.

Others will ask questions, demands answers, and then choke him to death before he has a chance to even come up with a feasible lie. It may be a tactic to create desperation. Maybe a way to convince Rick to talk. Maybe they just like to see people suffocate. Sick bastards who sell weapons that kill children probably enjoy that kind of thing.

Desperation fades as the need for oxygen escalates. It’s a pressing, dire need now -- it’s the only thing now -- and Billy’s gaping for the air he can’t take in. He can taste it, feel it prickling his tongue, lifting the hairs on his arms. He can feel it, but he can’t have it. He can’t have any of it. It’s so close and not close enough and he’s choking for it, tongue swelling and eyes bulging, but it’s not his.

Panic comes next. It’s a frantic thing now. He needs to breathe. He needs to breathe, breathe, breathe. But then again, Billy needs a lot of things in life. He needs an apartment, not a motel room. He needs a woman who sees him for who he is and not a good looking one night stand. He needs a way to vindicate himself back home. He needs a ticket back to the place he loves and misses.

He needs a little happiness, a little success. He needs things he can’t have -- won’t have -- never again.

And maybe air’s just another thing. Maybe living is just one too many things to count on. Maybe it’s always been meant to end like this. Maybe he’s been suffocating all along and he just never knew it until someone kindly tied a noose around his neck and started to squeeze.

Rick is yelling, but Billy can’t make out the words. There’s fear in his tone, though, and Billy would appreciate the effort if he could. But his body is too preoccupied with dying at the moment to take much note.

And it’s all fading. The men and their guns, Rick and his screaming. The mission, the CIA, the life he left in England. Billy works and he labors and it’s all getting away from him.

The panic peaks and Billy has no choice but to give in. Darkness caves in around the edges of his vision and he feels himself go lax. There’s nowhere to go and the rope pulls hard against his neck. It’s like they don’t want this to be over, they want to make it last. Killing Billy isn’t enough; it has to be on their terms.

And Billy has no other option but to comply. He’s not trying anymore. He’s given up on air, just like he’s given up on most of the rest of it. He’s not proud of it, but he’s not sure what else can be expected of him, given the circumstances. Death will come, inevitable and irreversible, just like deportation and decommissioning before it. Billy’s helpless to it, helpless all around.

He thinks darkness will be a release, but it feels the same. Heavy and pressing, closing in on all sides. He still can’t get away, can’t get reprieve, can’t get anything.

He drifts. Not breathing, not dying. Somewhere between. Somewhere--

And then air pressing hard into his mouth, hands on his chest. There’s pushing and pulling, breathing and breathing and breathing.

Billy gasps, eyes flying open as he startles back into awareness. He sputters, his chest aching and his head spinning. He’s rolled to his side and kept pressed to the ground and, for a moment, all he can do is force his lungs to let air in and push it back out.

It’s such a basic thing, something he’d take for granted, except he can’t anymore. He can’t.

There’s a hand on his shoulder and he hears Rick’s voice. “Breathe, Billy,” he says, and he sounds like he’s begging and thanking him all at once. “Just breathe.”

Rick probably doesn’t think it’s a lot to ask, but it still feels like a monumental task to Billy, like he has to relearn it all from scratch.

“We’re lucky to get him back,” Casey says, somewhere above him. He’s trying to sound cross; he’s not quite succeeding.

“We’ve always been lucky to have him at all,” Michael muses.

It makes Billy want to smile as much as it makes him want to cry and Rick squeezes his shoulder again and says, “Just keep breathing.”

Billy’s not sure about the rest of it, but he thinks maybe -- just maybe -- he can manage that much for the time being. It’s something small, and even if he can’t take breathing for granted, he’s fairly certain that he can count his teammate’s unwavering support as something that he’ll never lose.

Comments

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: December 8th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Locked Door

Wow.
Definitely needed to take a deep breath when I finished reading this.
The description felt very real and I felt like I was suffocating with Billy.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 13th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
billy earnest

I had far too much fun writing this one. I'm a bit sadistic, I think :)

Thanks!

ETA: I owe you a beta! I am aiming for the end of the week/weekend.

Edited at 2011-12-13 08:59 pm (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 11th, 2011 06:33 am (UTC)

That was incredibly intense! Amazingly vivid descriptions of Billy's thoughts and feelings, very well done. And Rick was just sweet at the end. Thanks for another great story!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 13th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
billy watches

I'm always glad to please :) Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: January 8th, 2012 01:33 pm (UTC)
Chaos2

OMG! I forgot to breathe while reading this fic.
Mesmerising, chilling fic.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 8th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
billy guitar

It's always flattering when fics elicit that kind of response :) Thanks!

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: February 1st, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
Wonderful!

I LOVE this!! I love how you have Billy have his own bit of "life before his eyes" as he slowly chokes. The suffering is lovely, of course, but the angst, oh so much more satisfying. I'm glad you got the whim to write it and I'm happy I had a hand in it, even a little bit. HEE!

Fav. Parts:

Yes, he’s mentally prepared himself for pain and torture and general blood loss. After all, getting nabbed by a mark is never an ideal situation. And he has been well and thoroughly nabbed -- him and Rick both, double crossed by their asset in a turn fit for Shakespeare. Billy might wax poetic about the injustice of it all -- for he is surely fortune’s fool -- but he’s a little too busy not breathing to muster up much more on that train of thought.

--Sigh!

The rope tightens again and pain explodes throughout his body as his throat is constricted and his fleeting wheezes are cut off entirely. Death by asphyxiation is not a pleasant way to go, though Billy’s never experienced it firsthand before.

--Of course you know that I LOVED this!

Does the CIA provide funeral benefits? Would anyone show up to a bloody funeral anyway?

--This is an interesting thought to have. It makes sense, but oddly, for me, it's something I never considered him even thinking about for some reason so to read here that he is thinking about it is kind of poignant especially when you think he doesn't think would come to his funeral.

He needs an apartment, not a motel room. He needs a woman who sees him for who he is and not a good looking one night stand. He needs a way to vindicate himself back home. He needs a ticket back to the place he loves and misses.

He needs a little happiness, a little success. He needs things he can’t have -- won’t have -- never again.

--*sniffle!

Death will come, inevitable and irreversible, just like deportation and decommissioning before it. Billy’s helpless to it, helpless all around.

--*sigh!


“We’ve always been lucky to have him at all,” Michael muses.

It makes Billy want to smile as much as it makes him want to cry and Rick squeezes his shoulder again and says, “Just keep breathing.”

--What a wonderful thing for him to hear, from Michael which is really, for me, the last person, second only to Casey who would even say that out loud. It's seems much too personal, yet PERFECT!


Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 4th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Wonderful!
chaos team 2

Sometimes a little gratuitous h/c sans all attempts at plot is quite nice to write -- so I'm glad it seems to be fun to read for others as well! And heh, I am prone to making characters say things they wouldn't otherwise say; it's a peril of writing schmoopy h/c, I think. I like to make characters give voice to the things they'd otherwise keep to themselves but we all know they're thinking about.

Thanks! For inspiring this and reviewing!

Posted by: Lena7142 (lena7142)
Posted at: August 28th, 2012 04:04 am (UTC)

"... and I won't let you choke, on the noose around your neck..."

... Another lyric that springs to mind with this fic. ;)

Which is absolutely beautifully written, by the way, combining character study with gruesomely wonderful whump in a really poignant way. I've re-read it a couple times now and figured I ought to point out its brilliance.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 03:31 am (UTC)
billy earnest

Gah, yes. I love that song.

And I'm glad that my gratuitous whump seems worthwhile.

Thanks!

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