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Chaos fic: Run for Your Life (If You Can) 1a/3

November 8th, 2012 (06:28 am)
hopeful

feeling: hopeful

Title: Run For You Life (If You Can)

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: So, once upon a time, serenity_pen wondered why there wasn’t more Michael fic. I offered to help her out and took on a Michael prompt. Then I sat down to write said prompt. And this happened. It’s still sort of the fic she asked for…just not quite like I think she probably wanted. And definitely not like I intended. Still, I hope it helps fulfill the need for more Michael whump in fandom because I tried hard to deliver on that front.

A/N 2: I couldn’t have written this without lena7142. She basically was there every step of the way and listened to me whine about this fic more than anyone ever should. Then, she beta’ed it. Because yes, she really is amazing like that.

Spoilers: None, except vaguely for Proof of Life because of Carson Simms. This is set preseries. Divided into three parts but all posted today!

Summary: Billy had made a career of running, until he met the ODS.

PART ONE (A)
PART ONE (B)
PART TWO
PART THREE



-o-

When Billy was fourteen, he ran away from home

The reasons why were vague to him now, but he could still remember his indignant thoughts, about how limited he was, about how no one treated him right; about how he could do so much better on his own.

Of course, failing his maths test was another compelling reason. His father had never much tolerated his fanciful notions of how studying was a wasted act for a young boy’s ever-evolving psyche.

Whatever the reasons, when things got tough, Billy ran.

For a few days, it had been a lovely thing. Wet and hungry though he was, he figured suffering on his own terms was better than enduring uncreative punitive action from others.

Or so he’d thought until the police had picked him up out of an alleyway, shivering with fever and nearly curled up with hunger.

They bundled him in a blanket, gave him something to eat, and told Billy to just sit tight, they’d have him home in no time.

“You’re calling my mum?” he asked, a little pathetic.

“That is the idea, son,” the cop replied. “You look like a drowned rat, and much longer out there and you’d be catching pneumonia for your troubles.”

Billy sunk wearily down. “But I ran away,” he mumbled, chewing lazily over the soggy fish and chips he’d been given.

The cop tutted, laughing a little. “Boys always do,” he said, starting the car. “When you learn how to tough it out, then we can talk, man to man, yeah?”

Man to man, Billy thought he could tolerate. Hand to ass when he got back home, however, made him think maybe running was still the better option.

-o-

Over the years, Billy had made a career of running.

It was rather important in being a spy, he found. Sure, subterfuge and deception were still the preferred methods of going about the job, but sometimes, when things got difficult, running was the only option left that offered any chance of survival.

And besides, he’d literally made a career of running. When his antics got him drawn up on disciplinary measures in the UK, he’d been offered the chance to go to trial and defend himself. Or he could accept a plea deal that ousted him, disgraced and rejected.

It was perhaps no surprise that Billy had chosen to run.

Running meant he could rely on himself. If he just went fast enough, far enough, he wouldn’t have to face up to the unsavory alternatives that possibly awaited him.

So Billy ran.

This time, it was cocaine dealers in Venezuela. Nasty bunch, though not overly bright. Billy had nabbed the intel and had seen no need in finessing an exit that could have led to excessive bloodshed. Not when running was a perfectly viable choice.

And especially when Michael had promptly seen their odds and yelled, “Run!”

Billy wasn’t great with orders – no one who ended up deported from their homeland was particularly good with orders, he reckoned – but he did appreciate that Michael Dorset gave practical orders. Ones that generally made sense and tended to be for his survival and overall wellbeing.

Which was why Michael Dorset was a relatively easy man to follow, all things considered.

Though, the man was a mite slow, if Billy was honest, because when he told Billy to run, Billy took that quite seriously. By the time they’d got outside the perimeter of the camp, he’d started to out distance the man easily, his longer stride and youth pushing him forward even while Michael’s footfalls started to lag behind.

But Billy ran. For the mission, sure. Because it was an order, yes. Because it was his life.

Farther back, he could still hear the sounds of men yelling, their Spanish punctuated by gunfire.

As if Billy needed more inspiration to go faster.

He pushed on, finding endurance he kept saved for just such occasions, pushing himself onward. Because he needed to survive. He needed to make it out of here alive. He needed to run.

He hadn’t left his career in the UK to die in Venezuela. He hadn’t sacrificed everything to fold up and give in over cocaine. Billy was more than happy to serve the greater good, but he’d learned the hard way that if he didn’t look out for himself, then no one else would do it for him.

And Michael couldn’t complain about that. He’d been the one to teach him that lesson, nearly getting Billy killed on his first day with the CIA. He’d been duped, tricked and blackmailed, and if trust had to be owned in the Agency, that meant it could be sold out just as fast.

True, Billy was grateful for the second chance and all, to actually attempt making something of his life, but his new teammates had hardly been the welcoming sort. They’d subjected Billy to every possible ridicule, subjecting him to the worst possible jobs, often without warning him what to expect. He’d been their lackey, the butt of their not-so-funny jokes, and none of his ideas were ever welcomed with anything but disdain and mockery.

Simms had been better than the rest, which was probably why Michael never let Billy work with Carson. This was why he was assigned to Malick, who treated him like a dog, or why he was kept close to Michael, as though he wasn’t to be trusted on his own.

Not that he couldn’t entirely see their point, really. Spies didn’t trust by default, and Billy was an MI6 reject, so the basis for distrust was clearly there, but still.

Billy lived in a tiny rented flat and had three suits to his name. He could barely afford his daily needs and drove an unreliable car with seatbelts that didn’t even work any more. He missed his mum, his girlfriend had dumped him in a bloody email, and he’d been sitting on a milk crate using a computer from 1989.

So when Michael said to run, Billy ran and didn’t look back. Because it was an order. Because it was better than staying and dying. Because he didn’t doubt that his teammates would run on without him, if given the chance.

Only Billy wasn’t about to give them the chance.

Because he could run better than the rest of them.

Moving faster, he gritted his teeth, jumping over the fauna and skirting trees. He made his way over a fallen log, darting forward and veering away, trying to give his pursuers a less visible line to follow.

He couldn’t hear Michael now, but trusted that they were both heading due east, toward the drop point with Carson and Malick. Michael was a paranoid bastard; he could take care of himself.

So Billy ran.

Harder, faster, careening through the jungle, heedless of anything. He would survive; he would run.

He saw the sharp decline, and made a move to avoid it, but his momentum was stronger than he’d expected. He veered abruptly, changing his direction, but as he moved to even out his pace, his foot caught on a rock.

He teetered, trying to right himself, but with his forward motion it was just too much—

Too fast—

And Billy saw the ground coming up to meet him before everything went dark.

-o-

Billy was supposed to be running.

True, he wasn’t much for orders, but running was less an order and more of a biological imperative that promoted his long term survival.

So he wanted to be running.

But he wasn’t running. He was…falling?

No, because he wasn’t moving anymore. He was…still?

Which mean that he was a sitting duck, an easy target, which meant he had to run.

That thought galvanized him and he jolted, coming back to consciousness with a horrifying moment of disorientation. He didn’t know how long he’d been out or what exactly had happened. He’d fallen down the hill, he vaguely recalled, he’d missed his step and—

He needed to keep running.

He was so intent on this notion that he fumbled, trying to push himself up—

“Collins, wait—“

But Billy didn’t wait. Couldn’t wait. And he was halfway up, putting pressure on his leg when—

Pain exploded, ripping through him, lighting his leg on fire, burning up the length of his body and paralyzing him. He flopped back to the ground with a scream, sucking in hard as he choked on a sob, hot tears freely down his face.

Someone swore close to him, shuffling closer and putting a hand on his shoulder while he flailed helplessly in the underbrush. “Quiet, quiet, quiet,” Michael hissed. “Just…hold still.”

Billy whimpered, squeezing his eyes shut as tears continued to fall. The pain was buzzing now, ringing in his ears and throbbing between his temples. He could feel everything, every beat of his heart, the rough brush against the back of his neck, the encompassing agony from somewhere below his right knee.

The hand squeezed again, the voice gentler now. “Just breathe, okay?” he said. “Just clear your head, in and out, in and out…”

Billy was too weak to disobey, pushing out harsh breaths through his nose and doing his best to stop crying as he breathed in again, each one helping to calm him – a little, anyway.

He laid like that, just breathing while Michael coached him, letting himself drift for a long moment in the pain before his head cleared enough for him to think straight and he opened his eyes.

And there was Michael, hovering right above him. He was still holding onto Billy’s shoulder and offered him a small, lopsided grin. “You back with me now?”

Billy took a shuddering breath, and fought to regain his sense of composure. He swallowed tremulously and managed a small nod. “What happened?”

Michael gave him a funny look, uncertain and guarded. “You fell.”

Billy gritted his teeth and nodded again. “I figured that. How long was I out?”

“A few minutes,” Michael said. “You may have a slight concussion but it doesn’t look bad.”

Billy took a few more breaths. “So we should be running again, yeah?”

Michael’s look turned quizzical. “I don’t think you’re up to it.”

Billy frowned, but Michael’s gaze flickered downward toward the pulsing pain that was Billy’s leg. Billy considered that, and followed the gaze, straining to lift his head enough to see down the length of his body.

At first, he didn’t see much. There was no blood – just a few scraps and a nasty rip on his left sleeve – but something was wrong. Something in the dead weight below his waist, in the intense pain that he was just barely keeping at bay.

And then, he understood. Understood the blinding pain, understood the uncontrolled tears. Understood why running, his best form of defense, was no longer a viable option.

Because his leg was twisted, the foot grotesquely askew in the wrong direction, clearly and very badly broken.

-o-

Billy’s first instinct was to run.

He was hurt; he was in pain; he was scared. Because there were still people with guns out there, and he needed to get out. He needed to go. And he needed to go now.

But he couldn’t.

He couldn’t run. He couldn’t even move.

Panic rose in his throat, threatening to suffocate him and he shook his head in desperate denial. “No,” he said, pushing himself awkwardly on his elbows. He tried to scoot back frantically. “No, no, no.”

Michael sat back a little, hand falling away, but he still hovered. “You’re going to want to be still—“

But Billy didn’t want to be still. He wanted to run. He wanted to get away from this and get away from this now. His leg couldn’t be broken because if his leg was broken, then he couldn’t run. Then he was stuck here. He was stuck here to die.

And Billy didn’t want to die. So he couldn’t have a broken leg. It wasn’t that bad. He could make it work, he could—

His backward movement jarred his leg against a rock and the world whited out. When he came to, he was being propped up against Michael, one arm steadying him around his heaving chest, the other pressed across his mouth.

“Seriously,” Michael said, voice close to his ear. “You need to be still.

There was a quiet urgency in Michael’s voice; this wasn’t an order of contrivance or whim. It was an order of necessity.

Billy tensed, his entire body trembling as fresh tears flowed down his face. He wanted to fight, but Michael’s grip was too secure and his leg ached—

And voices.

Farther away. Footfalls and calls and—

Billy’s breath hitched, heart skipping a beat. Their pursuers were coming.

“We’re going to lie back now,” Michael told him, voice low and almost soundless. “The brush is thick here and the best route is at the top of the ridge, so they’re not going to come this way unless we give them a reason. If you move, you’ll give them a reason. Do you understand?”

Billy blinked rapidly, but finally nodded.

Carefully, Michael shifted, releasing his hold on Billy’s mouth as he moved slightly, lowering Billy down. This time, Billy didn’t resist as Michael placed him on the ground. Quickly, Michael moved, lying next to Billy, his back facing up the ridge, partially obscuring Billy’s exposed form from the view above. Their jackets were neutral, easily blending into the surroundings. With the thicket, they might have a chance.

Or they might not.

Panic threatened to choke him again and Billy closed his eyes, grinding his teeth together so hard that his jaw hurt. Michael was pressed closed to him, and Billy could feel his even breaths, hot against his face.

But Billy didn’t move. He didn’t dare move.

The voices above got closer, the scuffling almost on top of them. Billy flinched despite his best efforts, a low whimper in the back of his throat. Michael’s breathing caught just slightly in response, as if to remind Billy that he wasn’t alone.

As if Billy believed that.

Still, Michael didn’t waver, and after a moment, the voices started to fade, the footfalls dissipating.

Moving on, moving out.

Until the only sound was Michael’s breathing and Billy’s own pounding heart.

-o-

It was hard to say how much time had passed, but the minutes had slipped by in the tense stillness. When Michael finally sat up, Billy was lightheaded and nauseous, leg feeling wooden with the unrelenting pain.

On his knees, Michael gave Billy a quick once over. “You okay?”

Billy swallowed shakily, eyes blinking rapidly. “My leg,” he croaked.

Michael nodded grimly. “Yeah,” he said. “You did a number on it.”

Tentative, Billy lifted his head, looking down again. Calmer this time, the sight was no less unsettling. The bottom of his pant leg seemed to be taught, the hot, swollen flesh underneath making it tight. His foot was askew, and despite the fiery pain in his shin, the foot itself felt as though it wasn’t there at all.

Whimpering, Billy dropped his head back, working to keep his breathing in check with only marginal success. “I broke my bloody leg,” he repeated, his hands curling into fists on the jungle floor, pounding lightly in frustration. The implications became suddenly clear to him. A broken leg could just as well be a death sentence. He was like a lame horse, no good for anyone. Only there was likely no one around who would kindly put a gun to his head and finish the job.

Billy paled, glancing over at Michael. Or maybe there was.

He squeezed his eyes closed at the thought, fresh tears slipping out. He’d fallen, broken his leg, fumbled the mission. Maybe MI6 had been right to boot him; he was a screw up, and this proved it. A second chance and no more than six months in and he’d broken his leg. It was pathetic; it was probably typical.

Michael was scuffling about in the brush next to him, and Billy opened his eyes, suddenly afraid. Michael was checking his supplies, zipping up his pack.

Getting ready to leave.

Billy couldn’t blame him for that. After all, when Billy had been running, he hadn’t looked back. Hadn’t bothered. If Michael had gone down, Billy probably wouldn’t have even noticed. Billy was a part of the team, but he was still the new guy. He was pretty sure Casey didn’t even know his first name yet, and Michael seemed to watch every move he made, waiting for a chance to exploit his errors or simply tell him how wrong he was.

And Carson was just happy for someone else to be the butt of jokes for once.

And Billy deserved it. Because he’d been running so fast to save his life that he’d effectively killed himself with one misstep.

Billy swallowed. “You’ll come back?” he asked, daring to hope.

Michael paused, frowning at him. “I wasn’t aware I was going.”

Surprised, Billy stared at him for a moment. “But when they realize they’ve lost the trail, they’ll double back,” he said. “We won’t be lucky twice.”

Michael smiled wryly. “I didn’t realize we’d been lucky yet,” he mused.

Billy kept staring. “But…”

“But I was just seeing if I had anything for you to bite down on,” Michael explained, putting his pack aside. He shrugged, undoing his belt. “I know this isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I have.”

Dumbly, Billy blinked, entirely confounded. “You’re going to strangle me with your belt?” he asked. “Wouldn’t shooting me be easier? Or just leave me the gun and I can do it myself.”

Michael gave him a funny look. “That seems a little drastic.”

Drastic, perhaps. But Billy had a broken leg in a remote region of Venezuela. If the angry drug dealers didn’t come back and behead him, he’d be found by a military sweep and disappeared into a prison system or flaunted as a political pawn. Billy wasn’t walking out of here; he wasn’t running out of here. To his mind, there was no other way out, least not one that wasn’t a bit more permanent.

“I’m as good as dead out here,” he said, breath hitching as the starkness of the reality gripped him. It was oddly settling, numbing the burning pain receptors with cold understanding. “We’re miles from the drop point, and there’s no way Casey and Simms will get here in time before our friends double back. Leaving me here alive just means I’ll be captured. So there’s not really any option left.”

At that, Michael smiled. He moved forward, belt in hand. Billy flinched despite himself. He liked to think he was braver than that, but time had proven otherwise. Michael paused but kept moving, holding it out. “You’ll need something to bite on.”

Billy frowned. “Why?”

“Because when I set your leg, it’s going to hurt,” he said. “A lot.”

Billy’s brow furrowed. “But…”

“Your desire to die for the CIA is very noble,” Michael told him. “But I think it may be a little premature.”

“But I can’t walk,” Billy reminded him. “I’m literally dead weight. You have to leave me.”

Michael shook his head. “We’ll talk about that later,” he said, still holding out the belt. “After I set your leg.”

Billy didn’t know what to say. Didn’t know what to do. But it wasn’t like he had any other options. Crippled as he was, he was at Michael Dorset’s mercy – for better or for worse. If he had the perverted notion to torture Billy before leaving him to his own devices, that was the man’s business. Maybe he thought he’d give Billy a fighting chance. Spy agencies were funny like that; they screwed you over while giving you so-called tools to survive. MI6 threatened to put him in prison for the rest of the life or gave him the chance to start again.

Michael would set his leg, maybe in the insane hope that he could carry his own feeble weight out.

Choices that weren’t, it seemed, and yet, Billy could only comply. He’d taken the plea deal; he’d joined the CIA. And reluctantly, he opened his mouth, letting Michael place the worn leather between his teeth.

When it was positioned, Michael sat back, seemingly satisfied, before he turned his attention to Billy’s misshapen leg. Wincing, the older operative ran his fingers gently down the leg, and Billy hissed protectively, starting to tremble again as Michael carefully palpated the clearly broken bone.

Frowning, Michael gripped the bottom of Billy’s pant leg, ripping it quick and clean. It jostled Billy, not much, but enough to make him yelp, biting down instinctively on the hot leather in his mouth. The exposed skin seemed to prickle, pain receptors objecting to the fresh onslaught.

His breathing got heavy as Michael’s fingers trailed on the skin where the bone was clearly jutting awkwardly, pulling it unnaturally taut.

Michael studied it for a moment longer, nodding to himself. “Okay,” he said, moving around to Billy’s foot. He looked up at Billy. “You know, I was premed for a while.”

“Oh?” Billy asked around the belt, feeling vaguely hopeful suddenly. “So you know what you’re doing?”

“Not really,” Michael said, brow furrowed. “I liked the theory, but not so much the application.”

Billy felt his heart stutter, his brow crinkling in a sudden cold fear. “But—“

There was no time to finish his statement. There was no time for anything. Because Michael gripped his ankle, pulling hard and steady. The first yank made Billy’s world explode, his entire body seizing, teeth grinding hopelessly into the leather until the taste of the warm fibers filled his mouth. The intensity usurped his control and he was crying and screaming, flailing desperately, begging around the belt for reprieve, for anything—

Instead, Michael pulled again, and Billy could feel the bones grating, the sound clicking into his consciousness and pulsating hotly through his body like a roaring, uncontrolled flash fire of agony that stole his breath. When the wave reached his head, the blood pounded in his ears until the darkness overtook him.

-o-

This time, Billy remembered. On his back, he had a vague sense that time had passed, but when he opened his eyes, nothing had changed. The jungle was dense and hot around him, and Billy was still helpless on his back, his leg broken.

And Michael was still there, sitting next to him, watching him with a curious expression.

Billy swallowed, finding his throat painfully dry. The small movement made his head ache, his consciousness still tenuous as he took uncertain breaths.

“Hey,” Michael said. “Welcome back.”

Billy winced but made no further effort to move. “If this is a welcome party, mate, you Americans need to work on your hospitality.”

Michael grinned. “Good to see your injury hasn’t impaired your total lack of gratitude.”

Billy closed his eyes for a moment, swallowing with difficulty. He let himself breathe for a few long seconds, before opening his eyes again. “How long?”

Michael shrugged. “You’ve been out for about twenty minutes,” he said. “Gave me time to finish with your leg.”

At the mention, pain flared again. Billy lifted his head, squinting as he looked down. The pant leg was entirely tattered now, strips being used to tie a large stick into place, serving as a makeshift splint. The tight knots put pressure on the leg, but with the overwhelming pain, it was hard to differentiate one infliction from another.

He dropped his head back again, sighing as he looked toward Michael. “I reckon thanks are in order,” he said.

“Well, we’re not out of here yet,” Michael said.

Billy nodded, suddenly aware of the jungle around the again. “We probably don’t have long before they come back,” he said. He sucked in a shuddering breath, trying to control the pain even as his chest ached with the effort. “You probably need to get moving.”

Michael gave him a funny look again, but he didn’t disagree. “We’ll get to that point,” he said. “First, let’s take care of you.”

He said it simply, matter of fact, as though time wasn’t of the essence. As if angry drug dealers wouldn’t be doubling back with every intention to kill them – and sitting there, at the bottom of the hill, they were still defenseless.

Still, Michael seemed intently oblivious to such danger. This was perhaps not entirely unexpected. The ODS had a habit of being nonsensical and illogical, though usually they made such choices with their own self preservation in mind. After all, Billy’s second mission had had him playing bait, unarmed and unconscious, giving the bad guys enough pause to see if he was still alive before the rest of the ODS had disarmed and arrested them.

This might have seemed heroic, except for the small fact that Casey had choked Billy out and left him in said state to begin with.

Billy’s well being was a tenuous, expendable thing. MI6 thought so; the ODS was no different.

So why was Michael still there?

Playing doctor, nursemaid…

Michael unscrewed a bottle of water, holding it out.

And now playing mother hen, too.

Billy eyed it, skeptical.

“It’s not poisoned,” Michael said.

Billy still looked at it.

Michael rolled his eyes, taking a quick drink and making a point of swallowing before holding out the bottle again.

So it wasn’t likely to be poison. Unless Michael had somehow built up an immunity to whatever he might use to dose Billy, but that seemed unlikely, even for the ODS.

Well, for Michael anyway. Billy had his doubts regarding Casey.

But that was entirely to be expected considering the fact that the man was probably the closest thing to a genuine psychopath that Billy had ever met – on either side of the law.

Besides, Billy was thirsty. In fact, he was almost parched. So risking a sip might be well worth it.

Defeated, he reached out, taking the bottle from Michael. As he brought it close, he found his hands shaking, and when he looked down, his vision blurred uncomfortably as he attempted to unscrew the cap.

Working his jaw, he did his best not to show his troubles. It was agonizing work, and he still managed to splash some of the water down his chin, but when he was done, he screwed the cap back on and held the bottle back out.

“Thanks,” he said, hoping that he didn’t sound as breathless as he felt.

Taking the bottle, Michael gave him a wary look. This might be bothersome if Michael wasn’t habitually fixing him with such looks, as though he was always assessing Billy’s status – on missions, during briefings, when Billy first walked in to the moment he walked out each night. That was what Michael did. He assessed.

And Billy had yet to pass muster.

Still, Billy was an MI6 reject so he wasn’t sure what he expected, though he was fairly certain daily flagellation at the hands of his so-called teammates had not been part of the plea bargain he’d agreed to. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, and Billy knew that, but there he was, broken leg in the Venezuelan jungle with angry dealers set to return, and Billy wasn’t begging or choosing. He was simply at the mercy of Michael Dorset.

None of this boded well.

He swallowed, feeling conspicuous. And horribly vulnerable. If there was anything worse than falling down and smashing his leg, it was falling down, smashing his leg and enduring a strange sort of analytic sympathy before being duly left behind to die.

With a shuddering breath, Billy sought to regain some composure. If humiliation and death were inevitable, some self-respect was all he had left. Swallowing again, he nodded, wetting his lips. “Right, then,” he said, matter of fact. “So I reckon that’s about all you can do. I might be able to hobble along…”

Michael shook his head. “That’s a bad break,” he said. “You’ll never get very far.”

The simple pronouncement made Billy’s stomach roil and he felt his composure waver. His jaw trembled and he resisted the inexplicable urge to cry. This was his own fault; his own mess: he couldn’t play the victim. He wouldn’t.

He gave a shaky laugh instead. “Seems like it may be worth the try, I think,” he said. “I mean, I could stay here, but a rescue mission would be too dangerous – no sense in risking any more operatives when we have the intel we need. Granted, the odds aren’t good either way, but seems wrong to lay down and die.”

“I agree,” Michael said. “But you’re forgetting a third option.”

Billy blinked, fumbling for an answer but coming up with nothing. The pain was making him weak, slowing his mental processes as most of his energy was diverted into the simple act of staying conscious.

“You can’t walk on your own,” he said. “But I can help you.”

“You’ve already splinted it—“

“No, I mean, you can lean on me,” Michael said. He shrugged. “A human crutch. It’ll be a little awkward but it should work out okay.”

Billy stared at him, wondering if in his pain he had become delusional without realizing it. The world had taken on a surreal tint, this was true, but there was something staunchly realistic that he couldn’t shake. As if Michael had actually just made such an offer.

Billy snorted. “I’ll slow you down,” he said. “Chances are, they’ll catch us both and we’ll have got nowhere for the trouble.”

Michael eased a shoulder up. “Or we might both make it out of here alive,” he said. “Seems like it’s worth a try.”

In theory, there was something appealing about that. Brothers in arms, and all such things. After all, they were teammates, and the whole point of teammates was to work together to achieve the preferable end.

But they were spies. Bloody spooks. They weren’t soldiers in the battlefield where blood was tested and the bonds were strengthened. The world of espionage was backstabbing and subterfuge; you lied to your enemies, you lied to your friends. You used anyone who was useful, no matter who they were or who they worked for. Loyalty was a strange concept, too tenuous to matter. Spies burned each other; spies used any means to achieve their ends.

This was how Billy had ended up here in the first place. This was why he’d been unceremoniously fired by MI6 and why he hadn’t taken the high road to clear his name. This was why his team had used and abused him, and why Billy had been running without a thought to Michael’s safety.

Because spies were the epitome of lone wolves. They could work together for as long as it was convenient.

It was no longer convenient. Billy would slow Michael down; he could get Michael killed.

For a moment, Billy kept his eyes on Michael, who showed no signs of wavering. “You’re kidding.”

Michael didn’t even blink. “That’d be kind of cruel, wouldn’t it?”

Cruel would be drugging and ditching him. Cruel would be leaving him on the need to know so he almost got his head blown off. Cruel would be sending him into briefings with no background and expecting him to work miracles with the director, who could barely stomach his presence.

His team had been nothing but cruel to him.

So maybe it was a joke. And that was the ultimate cruelty. Let Billy believe there was a chance, that he wouldn’t be abandoned and left, just to make it even more horrendous when he found himself injured, delirious and alone.

Except…

“You’re really serious?” Billy asked.

Michael rolled his eyes, getting to his feet. Billy watched, still waiting for him to leave as he crossed in front of Billy.

But then he stopped, offering down his hand.

Billy gaped at it.

Michael held his gaze, hand still out. “I’m ready when you are.”

Billy wasn’t sure he was ready, but he knew he wasn’t ready to die. Selfish to the end, Billy would let himself be a hypocrite and an undeserving bastard as he took the proffered hand and let himself be hoisted up.

-o-

Even with the hand up, getting to his feet was a difficult task. The instant he moved his leg, pain erupted with renewed intensity, and Billy blacked out for a moment, jaw clenched and eyes squeezed shut as he desperately sought to control it.

But he did control it, if only because he had to. Michael was helping him, but Billy couldn’t be so foolish as to think that was an infinite extension of grace. Billy would have to carry most of his own weight, as it were, or he’d find himself back on the ground. And Michael was right – he wouldn’t make it far on his own. Staying awake and staying upright was his only chance of survival.

It wasn’t easy, though. Even after the pain had abated to levels he could control, he still felt shaky and weak, his stomach churning uncomfortably and his head swimming. He was upright, but listing heavily despite his best efforts, putting more weight than he wanted to on Michael’s apparently willing shoulders.

“Just give yourself a moment,” Michael coached, voice soft even as his fingers tightened under Billy’s arm. “When you think you’re good, let me know.”

Billy didn’t think he’d ever be good. Not with his leg busted, his pride damaged and his survival pinned so tenuously on the benevolence of the ODS. Not with a deportation notice and a job dependent on results and angry drug dealers trying to kill him. Not with his mum still crying every time he called, with his friends not taking his calls, and his girlfriend dating his sniveling roommate and telling the world that Billy was a pathetic dolt who had never been worth her time.

Nothing
was good.

Maybe this was part of Michael’s next phase of torture. Kill him with kindness.

The pain still coursing through him, it seemed plausible enough.

But only if Billy let himself die. Broken leg, damaged pride, sadistic team leader all aside, he was alive. If he could move, then he had a chance.

Pain, humiliation, utter misery: it was a chance he’d take.

That resolution firmly in mind, he sucked in another breath, opening his eyes and putting the pain to the back of his consciousness. The jungle was a little blurry around the edges and his head was buzzing, but he felt mostly coherent.

Mostly ready.

Or as ready as he could be.

Bracing himself, he ground his teeth together, nodding in short, curt movements. “Okay,” he said. “I think I’m ready.”

Michael craned his head, looking at Billy. “You sure?”

Billy was nauseated and in blinding pain while using a man he hardly trusted as a crutch while on the run from drug dealers in the Venezuelan jungle. Billy was sure of nothing, except that he needed to move.

Even if he couldn’t run, he needed to move.

“As much as I can be,” Billy confirmed, hoping he sounded more confident than he felt.

Michael seemed vaguely impressed. “Okay, then,” he said. “Let’s go.”

And Billy hoped it was that easy.

Comments

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: November 12th, 2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
I SO love this!

I read the whole thing and just thoroughly enjoyed what you explore in this story! I JUST ADORE how you're portraying Michael. We saw the practical leader on the show, even when running to save Rick in Mole, he was doing what had to be done. No less heroic, but it just felt like he was doing the only logical thing, by ODS standards, that had to done to accomplish saving Rick. You have that here too, but what makes this so delightfully unique is Billy's POV. I LOVE that you have my vision of Billy completely flipped sideways. He's not the jovial, devil may care, or even heroic Billy I tend to paint him. Here, you show how the deportation and the ODS hazing has left him insecure, doubting, distrustful to the extreme feeling unworthy of rescue, feeling like Casey, Carson and especially Michael just want to be rid of him and in some ways he feels they shouldn't want him and because of all those feelings, Michael's actions seem all the more heroic because of Billy's insecurties and throughout you show Michael demonstrating to Billy how he had "chosen" Billy, that he saw his merits even if Billy doubted them himself. WONDERFUL!!

The rest of the reviews will be fave parts. So many great moments!!!

Fave Parts:

Pain exploded, ripping through him, lighting his leg on fire, burning up the length of his body and paralyzing him. He flopped back to the ground with a scream, sucking in hard as he choked on a sob, hot tears freely down his face.

Someone swore close to him, shuffling closer and putting a hand on his shoulder while he flailed helplessly in the underbrush. “Quiet, quiet, quiet,” Michael hissed. “Just…hold still.”

Billy whimpered, squeezing his eyes shut as tears continued to fall. The pain was buzzing now, ringing in his ears and throbbing between his temples. He could feel everything, every beat of his heart, the rough brush against the back of his neck, the encompassing agony from somewhere below his right knee.

The hand squeezed again, the voice gentler now. “Just breathe, okay?” he said. “Just clear your head, in and out, in and out…”

Billy was too weak to disobey, pushing out harsh breaths through his nose and doing his best to stop crying as he breathed in again, each one helping to calm him – a little, anyway.

He laid like that, just breathing while Michael coached him, letting himself drift for a long moment in the pain before his head cleared enough for him to think straight and he opened his eyes.

And there was Michael, hovering right above him. He was still holding onto Billy’s shoulder and offered him a small, lopsided grin. “You back with me now?”

-- you know I loved all this h/c!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 2nd, 2012 12:44 pm (UTC)
Re: I SO love this!
billy thinks

It was weird to write Billy this way -- so different than we normally do it. But it was sort of refreshing, and really, it gave him a stronger redemption storyline, which I sort of like :)

Thank you!

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: November 20th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
Inconspicuous

Amazingly painful start :)

The description about the broken leg was definitely very visceral.

And I love the fact that Billy is more or less forced to trust Michael to get them out of there.

(And if it weren't so late and I wouldn't have to get up so early tomorrow I'd be reading the next part right now)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 2nd, 2012 12:45 pm (UTC)
billy casey trouble

I'm really glad you liked the start! I had way too much fun breaking Billy's leg :)

Thanks!

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