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Chaos fic: A Three Hour Tour (And Then Some)

January 10th, 2013 (06:35 am)
indifferent
Tags: ,

feeling: indifferent

Title: A Three Hour Tour (And Then Some)

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: This fic probably isn’t worth posting, but eh. Here it is. It’s very weird, so be warned. It probably needs to be a much longer fic, but I didn’t have it in me to write more than this. Thanks to postfallen for the beta. This fic sort of started out as crack but really didn’t end up that way.

Summary: This is two men, stranded on an island.



-o-

Rick is not panicking.

Yes, his cover has been blown. Yes, he’s on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that he doesn’t know the name of. Yes, things seem rather bleak, but Rick knows better. He’s a CIA operative. A trained spy. He’s part of the ODS.

“They’ll be back, right?” Rick asks, watching at the boat gets smaller in the distance, moving away from shore and back out to sea. By the time he’d come to, their captors had been too far away to chase down.

Billy draws a breath. “No,” he says. “I reckon they aim to leave just once and stay gone.”

Rick nods, blinking rapidly. This makes sense. This is a clean execution. Leaving victims on a deserted island make it seem less like a death sentence, even while conveniently ensuring that they never were capable of getting rescue -- and getting revenge.

“But, uh, we’re still wired, right?” Rick asks. “Michael and Casey will be able to track us with that.”

“Highly unlikely,” Billy replies, squinting at the disappearing boat. “I mean, if they were in range...”

In range. Back on the island where they’d set up base three days ago. Before Rick and Billy had gone undercover, before they’d gallivanted about the ocean, before they’d been outed, knocked out and...

Rick shakes his head, swallowing thickly. “But we have a plan, right?” he says. “A plan to get out of here?”

“Of course!” Billy says.

Rick audibly sighs, shoulders slumping in relief. “Thank God,” he says. “I thought we might be stranded here. What is it?”

Billy looks at him. “Sorry, what?”

“The plan,” Rick says. “What is it?”

“Oh,” Billy says. “The plan.”

Rick waits expectantly.

Billy smiles ruefully. “The plan is to think of every episode of Gilligan’s Island and a good portion of Lost and figure out all our options. Granted, they had far too many near-successes on Gilligan’s Island, and I daresay we’d be lucky if this were inhabited by a primal tribe, but I still think it’s a better option that Lost, which relies far too much on the supernatural for its storytelling.”

Rick stares at him, gaping.

Billy slaps him on the shoulder. “I suspect our time together will be nowhere that eventful,” he says. “But time will tell. I mean, stranded! Us! This is a new one!”

Rick stares as Billy retreats to the beach.

Rick looks out at the now-empty ocean.

He looks at Billy.

And Rick panics.

-o-

The first night is surreal.

They set up camp, picking just the right spot and gathering anything they can by way of supplies. They find a nestled alcove in the forest, near a stream but still close to the beach, and they agree that its the best option they have for now.

“So, I mean, we just...sleep?” Rick asks, looking around anxiously.

“Unless you were thinking maybe of staying awake forever,” Billy says with a shrug.

Rick frowns, gathering a breath and letting it out. “What if a plane goes by? Or a boat?”

Billy lifts his eyebrows. “You think you’ll be able to see it in the dark? And even if you hear it, we have no flares. No way of contacting them. In the grand scheme of things, sleep is really the more productive option.”

In the grand scheme of things. What the hell does that even mean? They’re stranded on a desert island. It’s a cliche television trope, and Rick’s living it. He’s on a damn island, and Billy is talking about productive options.

As if his life hadn’t been ridiculous enough.

And yet, Billy’s right.

Rick has no more arguments when Billy offers to take first watch. Instead, Rick drops his head and finds a clear spot on the foliage, trying to get comfortable. He lays on his side, legs curled up and blinks his eyes into the dark, listening to the sounds. The insects, the water, the even hum of Billy’s breathing.

When dawn finally breaks he’s still awake, almost shaking in the dampness and the cool, trying not to admit how much he wants to go home.

-o-

The second night is exhausting.

This time, Rick takes first watch. They’ve spent their day productively, searching the island and gathering more supplies. They conclude it’s small -- likely uncharted -- and there’s minimal sign of human intervention. There seems to be no major predators that Rick can tell, though there’s a collection of smaller creatures that scuttle past them during their trek.

Water is easy to come by, food a bit less so. They have no weapons, so hunting is out of the question, and Rick’s still working on trying to build a fire. They find some fruit that looks edible and decide to eat it to quell the gnawing hunger in their stomach.

“If we can get a fire, we’ll have a better chance of rescue,” Rick says, fumbling with the sticks. He shakes his head. “I’ve done this before...”

Billy huffs a little in laughter. “It’s also a better chance of staying warm and cooking food,” he says.

Rick rolls his eyes. “I guess,” he says. “But I think we need to stay focused on rescue.”

Billy sits down heavily, fingering a few larger sticks and testing a few rocks. “No arguments here,” he says. “But honestly, for tonight, I’d settle for any number of creature comforts. I’ve never exactly been a fan of roughing it, as it were. A little camping can be good for the soul, but sleeping bags and running water is good for the rest of me.”

Rick doesn’t look up. “It won’t matter when we’re rescued.”

Billy sleeps hard when the sun goes down, and Rick sits, perched on a rock, fiddling with two sticks, wondering if this is survival.

-o-

The third night, Rick finally sleeps.

It’s been a horrible day; a long day. They hike around the island again, and arrange a sign in the sand in case a plane happens by. Rick checks their wires, which seem to still be working, but there’s no way of knowing.

There’s no way of knowing anything.

Except that the fruit is safe and the water is good enough and that Billy’s just as talkative when he’s on a deserted island as he is back at Langley.

“They’ll come, right?” Rick finally asks, looking out across the water.

Billy sighs. “I have no doubt.”

“I mean, all of this will be worth it,” Rick continues, feeling his nerves twinge.

“As much as anything else we do,” Billy says.

Rick doesn’t reply, doesn’t say that he suddenly doesn’t find that as reassuring as he should.

Billy seems to understand. He breathes in, offering a sympathetic smile. “I know this seems like quite a predicament, and I’ll admit this is one of the worst situations I’ve found myself in,” he says. “But we’re spies. We live a life unexpected. One of unseen threats and unpredictable turns. At any given moment it can seem bleak and pointless and useless, but it’s the greater good that matters. Always has been. Always will be.”

Rick nods, and tries to believe it. “I just. Um. This isn’t exactly where I thought I’d be when I signed up at the CIA.”

Billy laughs this time. “Well, if it’s any comfort, it’s not where I thought I’d be either,” he says. “But perhaps it’s not so bad. We can survive this. We can get back to slaying giants. All will be well.”

Rick breaths. All will be well, he thinks.

And when the sun goes down, Rick has nothing left to fight with and he sleeps through the night.

-o-

The fourth night, it starts to feel like a routine.

They have security measures; they have protocol. They take turns resting and working, bathing and organizing. They do scouting, set up patrols.

It’s effective; it’s efficient.

“You can’t pee there,” Rick says.

“Pardon me,” Billy says. “But I thought one corner of earth was just as usable as the last.”

Rick sighs. “No, that’s too close to where we’re going to store the food,” he says. “Go over there!”

Billy squints and shakes his head. “That’s where I was thinking of setting up the football pitch.”

Rick stops, looks up. “What?”

Billy grins. “Just seeing if you were still listening.”

Rick rolls his eyes.

But when night comes, Rick sees no reason not to sleep.

-o-

The fifth night, Billy starts singing.

Their day has been productive -- they’ve made beds to sleep on and pillows to rest with. They wash out their clothes on the banks of the stream and find a place to store a cache of food, including the nuts they’ve just discovered.

But it’s been five days -- busy though they’ve been, they’ve had no source of entertainment but each other -- and Billy’s stories are running thin. When he can’t think of something to say, he sings instead.

And as twilight falls Rick joins in, singing until Billy nods off and his own voice lilts quietly in the increasingly familiar dark.

-o-

The sixth night, they celebrate.

Still no sign of rescue, but Rick starts making sparks and Billy finishes a knife. When he goes to try it out, Rick doubles down, narrowing his focus until he sees the spark catch and the smoke take. He leans down to blow, nursing the sparks to flame that grows into a fire.

He leaps up, cheering. Billy comes crashing back through the thicket, eyes wide with concern until he sees Rick’s jubilant expression.

“Fire!” Rick says, pointing proudly. “We have fire.

Billy’s eyes light up. “Excellent!” he says. “And just in time, too.”

Rick cocks his head.

Billy grins. “Because I have meat,” he announces, holding up what looks like a squirrel up by its tail.

Rick roasts it over the burgeoning flame, and it crackles as they eat with their fingers, laughing and telling stories, bellowing out in raucous freedom into the late hours of the night.

-o-

The seventh night is hard.

After yesterday, Rick’s tired. The fire still burns, but it feels hollow now. They go about the routine, and when dusk falls Rick finds himself looking out across the beach.

“A week,” he says, when Billy joins him. “We’ve been here a week.”

“Aye,” Billy agrees. “Not a bad week, though.”

Rick furrows his brow, nodding. “I know,” he agrees. “But...”

But he wants to go home. He thought rescue would come. He’s scared it never will.

Billy sighs, and puts a hand on his shoulder. “I know, mate,” he says quietly. “I know.”

-o-

One week becomes two.

They continue to fortify their camp. They outfit it so it’s comfortable, familiar. Billy starts making a mess, leaving his fruit husks and palm leaves about.

“This isn’t your flat!” Rick grouses, trying to pick up.

Billy chuckles. “And it isn’t yours either, so you don’t get to pick the rules.”

-o-

Two weeks becomes three.

Rick starts to keep track, marking off days on a tree. He thinks about his day planner at the office, the things he’s missed. Briefings and meetings, dates with Adele, calls to his mother. He wonders if Michael and Casey are still out there, or if Higgins has called them home.

“They’ll come, right?” Rick still asks when the stars wink above them.

Billy murmurs, half asleep. “Of course,” he says. “They’ll come.”

Rick lets that promise be enough as he drifts off to sleep.

-o-

Three weeks is a month.

They’re quieter now. Billy sings to himself but they don’t see the need to talk. They know each other intimately now, aware of the nuances of their behaviors, understanding their patterns. Rick knows when Billy’s about to make a kill, sees the way his eyebrows knit together, the way his body goes very, very still.

Billy seems to understand that Rick needs 30 minutes of silence at the start and end of every day, and somehow disappears just long enough for Rick to center himself, to find his calm.

To convince himself that everything is going to be okay.

And in the morning, it starts all over again.

-o-

One month is two.

Their clothes are tatters, but they do the best they can. Their beards are overgrown, hair bushy and untamed. Rick’s stopped smelling their body odors and he’s gotten lean and wiry, though still well fed.

Every day, they still keep the routine. Still check the beach, still make sure the message is there.

They learn to catch fish; they find gourds to make pots and bowls. They find colorful feathers to decorate with, and tie them into their hair just because.

It’s something to do.

It’s something.

-o-

Two months is three.

This is longer than their time on the lam. This is more isolated.

This is two men, stranded on an island.

Some nights, that’s okay.

Some nights, Rick rails against it. Yells and curses and throws a fit. Billy says nothing, lets him do it.

And when he ends up crying himself to sleep, Billy curls up at his back in silent solidarity.

-o-

Three months is four.

A storm blows through, upsets their camp. It’s all they can do to ride it out, hunkered down together as the waves lash the beach and the rain pelts them relentlessly.

When it’s over they have to start from scratch. Their pots are broken, their spears are scattered. The sign on the beach is gone.

“Sort of wonder if we should bother,” Rick says, looking out over the still-wet sand.

Billy sighs. “Never underestimate the power of hope,” he says, moving forward and picking up a stone, setting it in place.

Rick watches for a moment, watches as Billy starts the H.

Hope, Rick thinks.

And he tries to remember.

-o-

Five months.

After the storm, Billy gets sick. Rick doesn’t know if it’s related, doesn’t know much at all. But the fever comes quickly, and one morning Billy doesn’t wake up. It’s all Rick can do to keep it in check, bathing Billy with water from the stream, coaxing a fire nearby and settling Billy into the palm leaves he’s managed to scrounge.

Rick thinks how stupid it is. How they’ve been here five months. How they’re still alive and flourishing. How Michael and Casey were supposed to come. How Billy’s not supposed to die here, like this.

How stupid it is.

Because it is stupid. Stranded on an island. Just the two of them. Five months.

And it can’t end like this.

It can’t end.

-o-

Six months.

Billy recovers. They rebuild.

Rick stops thinking about life back home.

Rick stops thinking about rescue.

Rick stops thinking.

-o-

A year.

It’s Billy who hears it, the faint noise in the distance. He goes still, head cocked.

Then he frowns.

“What?” Rick asks, his own voice sounding oddly foreign to him.

Billy doesn’t answer; he doesn’t need to. He’s already running, moving toward the beach at breakneck speed.

Rick is full of questions, but he doesn’t ask them. Instead he follows, just a few paces behind, thundering through the forest until his feet hit the sand and he looks up.

Billy’s standing in front of him, gaping.

Because above them, in the sky, is a helicopter.

-o-

There’s no time to pack. There’s no time to look back. The rotors blow hard, whipping up the sand, but the basket that drops down is plain enough.

It hovers for a moment, and Billy looks at him. He gestures. “After you,” he says.

Rick blinks.

He thinks about how this began.

Where this began.

The same place.

But it’s so different now.

Different isn’t always good, but it’s not always worse.

Rick grasps the basket and pulls himself on.

-o-

The ride back is a blur. Michael and Casey are there, grinning and relieved. They hug and they talk, and it’s like nothing has changed. There’s joking and there are almost apologies; there’s understanding and explanations.

It had been hard to track them, obviously. The signals on the wires had died months ago, and Higgins had recalled them, placing Billy and Rick officially on the MIA roster. Still, Michael and Casey didn’t give up, running frequent checks with local contacts of the area. When a local fisherman remembered an island that was off limits -- drug deals, he’d thought -- the general location had fit.

Satellite imaging had found the place, and the HELP sign was clear enough.

“We would never leave you,” Michael promises.

Rick tries not to think about how, for a year, they did.

Instead he smiles, lets Michael pat his shoulder, lets Casey hover near. Lets them give them food and water, take them back to the mainland and to the hospital.

Rick lets it happen because this is what he’s been waiting for.

This.

-o-

They’re greeted back home with fanfare.

It’s been a week, and Rick is shaved and cleaned up. He’s got real clothes and has taken a hot shower and has remembered what it is to eat real food again. He calls his mom; he talks to Adele. He’s ready to go back.

Billy is all smiles. He’s full of adventures, mostly true, some embellished, and he captivates audiences from the minute of his rescue. It’s like he never left.

And a few weeks later, there’s almost no evidence they were even gone.

They are both cleared for duty; they are both debriefed. The ODS is back, and Rick tells himself that that’s what matters.

-o-

“You think we’re ready for this?” Rick asks one morning. They’re the first ones in the office and Billy is standing at the coffee pot, watching the liquid drip into to pot.

“Aye,” Billy says. “We survived a year alone on a desert isle.” He winks at Rick, grinning. “I think we’re ready for near anything.”

Rick nods, watches as the pot gurgles. There’s enough for a cup, but he doesn’t move for it; neither does Billy. Then, Rick sighs. “I just. I mean,” he tries to say, but doesn’t know quite what he means. “I don’t know if I’m ready.”

Billy’s smile is understanding. He nods. “Hardly seems real, yeah?” he asks. “All those months we survived, just for this. We’ve taken everything else thrown at us, it seems silly to turn our noses up now that we’ve finally got what we wanted.”

Rick looks at the coffee pot. “Yeah,” he agrees. “I just...what if I’m not the spy I thought I was?”

Billy inclines his head, shrugging a little. “I know you better than anyone else in the world,” he says. “You’re not the spy you were. You’re better.”

“But what if we’re not good in the field?” Rick says. “With Michael and Casey...”

Billy clasps his arm, a silent solidarity. “I imagine this year was just as long for them,” he says. “And I reckon it changed them just as much.”

Rick considers that while Billy walks away, the coffee still dripping. Rick watches it for a moment, and thinks. Thinks about what it must have been like, what everyone did back home. About the days that went by while they were missing, what that must have been like.

This year hasn’t been easy for anyone.

Rick stuffs his hands in his pockets and follows after Billy.

-o-

They have a mission; they have another. Rick does paperwork; he’s a spy. It’s important work; this is a meaningful life. He fights the good fight, and Rick is glad he has that chance once again.

Sometimes, though, when he goes home his place seems foreign and he has trouble sleeping without the sound of insects and the rushing water of the nearby stream.

Sometimes he misses the taste of grilled squirrel; sometimes he misses the smell of dew on the sand in the morning.

Sometimes he sees Billy pause; sometimes he sees his brow furrow and he knows what Billy’s going to do before he does it.

Sometimes there’s too many people; sometimes Rick feels like there’s just too much stuff, and he feels like he’s missing the point altogether.

Sometimes.

-o-

They almost die a few times; they save the world a few others. It’s like it was before, except when it’s not.

They’re a team, though. They were a team before this began, and they’ll be a team now that it’s over. They’ve failed each other, and they’ve gone to great lengths for each other, and in the end, they’ll still fight side by side.

“I’d almost forgotten,” Michael says breathlessly after they just manage to escape certain death.

“Oh?” Rick asks.

“What it’s like to be a team again,” Michael continues.

“Truth be told,” Billy interjects, “I think we may have forgotten a bit, too.”

Casey shakes his head. “I never thought I’d say that it’s nice to have you back, but Michael is horribly stingy and I’m tired of buying drinks by myself after missions,” he says.

Billy chuckles. “Glad to know you missed us so much. The feelings, I can assure you, were entirely mutual.”

“Yeah,” Rick says. “We found a way to keep you two around, though.”

“Yeah?” Michael asks.

“Ah, yes,” Billy remembers. “We did manage to capture their...fruity disposition.”

Michael cocks his head; Casey’s eyes narrows.

“All we really had was fruit,” Rick says with a shrug. “But we did say hi every day.”

“And I assure you, I only ate Casey because we ran out of food and you did look rather deliciously ripe,” Billy adds.

Michael laughs.

Casey scowls. “I told you we should have put the mop and the broom in their chairs,” he mutters to Michael. “They would have been better company most of the time.”

Breathless and sore, they laugh until they’re hoarse, mostly because they finally can.

-o-

Rick doesn’t know how long it’s been anymore. He’s lost track without the tree to notch his existence away. It seems like there’s no evidence of him anymore. Life is too busy. It’s always been busy, he supposes, but he’s never realized it until now.

He’s never realized a lot of things, about how technology controls him, about how many people he sees or how many words he doesn’t need to use. Life is something he used to plan and control, but now it’s something that happens and Rick does what he can to keep up. In the field, in the office, on desert islands -- wherever, whenever, Rick does what he can.

After all of this, he’s a better spy, he thinks. More capable, less afraid. Casey is impressed; Michael trusts him more. Higgins is genuinely pleased with him.

The ODS has changed, too. They’re quieter now, more effective. Billy still charms, but there are times when they’re alone on a stakeout when there are no words, only comfortable silence as the night stretches on.

Rick finds he misses that.

Rick finds he misses a lot of things.

And yet, he’s grateful. For his hot showers and his coffee. For his mother and Adele. For Michael and Casey never giving up. For the CIA and what it does.

The things that matter.

Even when Rick sometimes doesn’t remember why.

Rick doesn’t know how long it’s been anymore. Because a year is an instant, and a lifetime passes in the blink of an eye and stretches on to the endless horizon when the sun sets everyday.

-o-

Rick finds that he still wakes with the sun, and sometimes he walks down by the river and finds Billy there.

It’s never something intentional; it’s just something that happens. Like getting placed with the ODS, like getting shot in Bolivia, like getting stranded on a deserted island for a year.

Rick used to question these things; he used to overthink and analyze and get restless. He used to panic, to preen, to posture.

Now he just accepts.

He’s not sure if that’s the lesson in all of this, as if his year away can be so easily reduced. Rick doesn’t harbor any resentments, but sometimes it’s still hard to trust that things are actually real. He tries to remind himself that the year on the island was the dream, that this is the solid reality, and that should be easy.

But things are not always as they should be, Rick knows.

At the river, there’s no beach, but it’s the closest they have. In the morning, the insects hum and the water runs, and it’s close enough.

They don’t talk most of the time; they don’t have to. They watch the sun go up and go about these new lives.

“Is it stupid that I miss it?” Rick asks one morning.

“No,” Billy says. “Sometimes I wake up and think I’m still there. And I admit, I do miss the beard.”

Rick lets out a breathy chuckle and drops his head. “The whole year, all I wanted was to come back.”

Billy shrugs. “And here we are.”

“Yeah,” Rick says, the words lingering awkwardly. “Here we are.”

Across the river, the sun breaks away from the horizon, lifting into the sky. Its rays are young and bright, almost blinding.

But Rick doesn’t look away, and neither does Billy.

“I was right, though,” Billy says. “About our time together.”

Rick has to smile. “It was strangely...uneventful.”

“And we were rescued,” Billy points out.

“And this time I don’t want to panic,” Rick adds.

Billy grins. “Then I think, perhaps, all is well.”

Rick considers that, looking out toward the sun. “Yeah,” he agrees. “Maybe all is finally well.”