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Chaos fic: Worst Rescue Ever 1/2

February 28th, 2013 (07:09 am)
drained

feeling: drained

Title: Worst Rescue Ever

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: Written for the amazing lena7142 and beta’ed by sockie1000. This is a completed fic with about 13,000 words. However, I'm spreading out the posting because quite frankly I don't have time to post it all now! I'll aim to have part two up on Monday assuming I don't forget.

Summary: This is a rescue operation, damn it. So someone is going to get saved.



-o-

Rick’s going to die.

Granted, he’s had such a thought more than once in his career with the CIA. In fact, with the ODS, he’s convinced he’s going to die at least once per mission. Sometimes more than that. It’s sort of par for the course.

Still.

Rick’s going to die.

Because he’s alone, with his cover blown, walking through the streets of Beijing. It’s not so much that the Chinese would throw him in prison if they caught him; it’s that the Chinese gangsters who are converging on his location have every intention of beating him, eviscerating him, and then generally chopping him up into tiny pieces. There’s less to dispose of that way.

China does have a pollution problem, after all.

Rick wants to run; but there’s nowhere he can go. He knows a few of the faces, but not enough. This mission went wrong before he could ID enough of them. If he runs, he’ll tip himself off for sure. If he walks...

Well, he may delay the inevitable.

The hair on the back of his neck rises. He glances nervously down the busy street, watching the rush hour traffic. There are vendors peddling their wares; school children walking home; businessmen in suits; tourists snapping pictures.

Then, there -- a man in dark glasses, his head turned toward Rick.

And there -- a man in a leather jacket, huge biceps flexing as he sits on a parked motorcycle, watching.

There -- the man reading the paper.

There -- the woman with her phone out but not looking at it.

There -- a car with dark tinted windows.

There--

He’s probably paranoid, but with so many options, one of them is bound to be right. Rick’s heart skips a beat and his chest constricts. He feels the irrational urge to cry because Rick doesn’t want to die.

He keeps walking, his pace picking up. His skin turns to gooseflesh as the crowds seem to converge. He sees a flash of a gun across the street and he flinches.

He’s going to die.

Ready to run, Rick knows it’s suicide, but he has no choice.

Until there’s a squeal and the people yelp, the crowd parting just enough as a motorcyle comes to a stop in front of him.

Rick braces himself, ready for anything. But there’s no shot. No Chinese gangsters.

Just Billy -- holding out a helmet. “Come on, lad,” he says, grinning a little. “Your rescue has arrived.”

-o-

Rick barely has time to strap his helmet on and slide into the seat behind Billy when they’re off. The engine purrs, and the lithe machine moves easily into traffic. He starts to slip, but wraps his hands around Billy, inching closer to the Scot as they start to pick up speed.

“Do you know where we’re going?” Rick asks, trying to direct his voice in Billy’s ear. The Scot isn’t wearing a helmet -- it figures he gave Rick the only one -- and Rick hastily pushes back his visor to communicate easier.

Billy makes a face, glancing back. “Wherever they’re not.”

Rick’s stomach flips, and he hears the engine before he sees it. There’s a lot of traffic out, but the higher pitched grind of the motorcycle is easy to place, especially with its velocity -- and its proximity. Rick barely has time to turn when he catches sight of the movement.

It’s the motorcycle he ID’d earlier. The rider is still wearing his dark glasses, but his face is hard as he cuts off a driver and makes a pedestrian scatter. He’s approaching quickly -- and he’s not alone.

Rick sees another motorcycle, and then another, converging from different parts of the street and making up time quickly. One darts across the sidewalk; another screeches around a vendor.

Leaning closer to Billy, Rick hisses, “We need to go!”

“Thank you for that helpful assessment,” Billy says, but this time he doesn’t look back. His hands are tight on the handlebars, his body rigid in front of Rick. “Now hold on.”

-o-

Rick’s already holding on, but he still almost falls. He’s ready for a chase, but when Billy guns the engine, lurching them forward with unprecedented speed, he’s still taken off guard. He’s even more surprised when they ramp up the curb, cutting through a throng of people who shout and scatter before darting quickly through an alley and taking a hard turn that nearly sends them spinning.

When Billy rights the bike again, Rick’s heart is racing as he clutches Billy’s shirt for dear life. “You think that did it?” Rick asks hopefully.

Suddenly a shot pings off a nearby car, and someone in the crowd starts to shriek. The roar of their pursuit starts up again and Billy grinds his teeth. “What do you think?”

-o-

This time, Billy doesn’t even hesitate. They weave through the traffic recklessly, and Rick’s given up on trying to anticipate the moves. He just holds on, trying not to flinch as they nearly crash.

He’s not as surprised this time when they leave the sidewalk, slipping up the walkway even as bullets rain down around them. Glass shatters; people scream. Billy doesn’t slow down. When he makes a hard left, pulling them off the sidewalk and down a set of stairs, Rick can’t help but cry out.

The stairs are jarring, and the bike bounces, metal grinding worryingly. They have trouble gaining traction at the bottom, and Billy mutters something under his breath as he revs the engine hard, giving the gas all its got as they break into a straightaway.

They’ve gone several yards before Rick realizes they’re crossing a small inner-city park, the grassy knolls flush with people out for the morning. Dirt flies up behind them, and when the gunfire starts up again, they have nowhere to hide. Rick tries to duck, but it’s not exactly effective, and it’s all he can do to keep from falling off as Billy takes another hard turn and steers them toward the bridge.

The bridge.

It takes Rick a moment to understand the implications. His breath catches. “Billy, are you sure--”

There’s no time to answer. The engine roars as Billy bears down, and at the speed they’re going, there’s nowhere to go but down--

Rick’s seen motorcycle chases in movies; he’s ridden a time or two. There was even the chase through Montevideo. But not this.

Not full speed off a bridge onto the highway.

This is suicide, he thinks.

He’s going to die.

He holds Billy tighter as the edge appears and closes his eyes.

-o-

There’s no freefall.

Instead, the bike shifts dramatically and they pitch hard to the left. The tires squeal and skid, and Rick can almost feel the pavement coming up to meet them. It takes a moment -- a long moment -- but Billy manages to right the bike, pulling parallel with the edge of the bridge, following it along toward the cross street.

Behind them, more tires squeal and more people yell and Rick looks back in time to see two of the riders careen into the barricade, flying over the railing to the traffic below. Horns blare; something crunches.

Rick remembers to breathe.

Right as the third bike cuts out early, seeing the turn and compensating, falling in line behind them and closing the gap. The dark glasses are still in place, and Rick swears he sees the man smirk as he raises his gun and starts to fire.

-o-

The gunfire is closer now; more accurate. The bullets nick the pavement and a close shot almost takes out one of their tires. Billy is taut in front of his, knuckles white as he drives them forward. They reach the cross street and keep going before veering off into one of the underpasses. They blow by a construction sign, which gives them a momentary cover of privacy as they leave the traffic behind.

“If we pick the right route, we can lose him,” Rick says, glancing back. “We just need to move--”

And they are moving. But slower somehow. Less focused.

Rick looks back at Billy. “Hey, we need to keep going--”

Billy seems to say something, but the words are hard to hear. Rick leans forward, and he’s about to ask a question for clarification when he doesn’t need to. Because he sees the answer; he sees the reason, plain as day. Blood.

It’s smeared on Billy’s pants, the stain still spreading while they drive.

Rick swears. “You’re hit?”

Billy manages a small nod, his shoulders trembling just a little as he tries to keep them steady on the bike. The fact that he doesn’t try to speak says a lot. Too much. Rick’s heart flutters.

“Here, pull over -- let me drive--”

It’s a good suggestion -- probably the only suggestion that makes sense -- and even though his team seems inclined to never listen to him, he thinks Billy might actually take him up on this one.

Except, there’s no time.

Because behind them, an engine roars, closing in fast. Rick glances back, his heart in his throat now. There’s no time to pull over; there’s no time to hide; hell, there’s no time for anything. Billy’s still driving them forward, even with his face paling and his body starting to sag. His consciousness is clearly dwindling, so the fact that he’s able to keep them straight and moving is actually pretty impressive. It’s not even a bad clip -- in regular traffic they’d fit right in -- but this isn’t regular traffic. This is a rescue mission, a high speed chase, a fight for their lives -- and now they’re losing ground.

That’s better than the alternative, though.

Still, road kill or a hail of bullets -- it’s not much of a choice.

So Rick chooses neither.

This is a rescue operation, damn it. So someone is going to get saved.

The motorcycle gains on them steadily now as Billy’s head starts to dip and the motorcycle starts to wave. It only takes seconds before the pursuer is in range, and Rick knows it’s up to him now. If Billy can just keep them upright, Rick will take care of the rest.

At least, in theory. In application...

Rick is unarmed, but pulling of a shot while moving is tricky anyway. No, he needs to stop the bike -- and that will effectually stop the biker.

But how? And with what? He’s got a pen and a wallet and the clothes on his back and--

Rick’s eyes light up. “Steady, Billy,” he mutters, using one hand to unhook his helmet. Billy doesn’t reply but he doesn’t have to; the bike wavers precariously but doesn’t fall, and Billy keeps them moving. The gunfire starts up again, and Rick winces, jerking hard to undo the clasp. Another volley starts and Rick turns, taking a second to aim and throws.

He misses the rider.

That’s okay, though.

He wasn’t aiming for the rider.

Instead, the helmet hits the ground, right in front of the bike. There’s no time for the rider to veer, and his front tire hits it, causing it to ricochet up. The bike jerks, losing traction, and Rick can see the terror on the man’s face even through the dark glasses as the motorcycle goes airborn, twisting in the air before slamming mercilessly back to the pavement.

“Helmets,” Rick says with a snort, watching as the man doesn’t get up. “They really do save lives.”

-o-

Rick did it. He actually managed to stop their pursuer with nothing more than good aim and a bike helmet. For a second, he has a giddy moment of jubilation.

Then he realizes he will probably still die because he’s on a motorcycle with a driver who’s been shot and he’s not even wearing a helmet.

In front of him, Billy’s out now, his head dipping forward and the tension leaving his body. As he slips, Rick has to fumble to right him, keeping him from spilling onto the pavement. He manages to catch him, Billy’s dead weight pulling hard at him, but the simple act means that there’s no one left to even try steering the bike.

Which means, they’re still going to crash.

Rick is keenly aware of this, even as he juggles Billy’s weight. Rick can’t stop the crash, but he thinks maybe he can control it.

He hopes so, anyway.

Grinding his teeth, he tightens his grip on Billy with one arm, using the other to reach ahead to the handle bars. It’s a stretch, and he doesn’t quite get there, but the shift in his weight tilts the bike to one side. He leans further, heart pounding in his chest, holding his breath as he whispers a prayer and jerks his weight to the side one more time even while he keeps his head up and tries to prop Billy in the other direction.

The bike groans; the engine falters; everything tips as sparks fly and the ground comes up to meet them.

-o-

Rick blinks and the world seems to go white. There’s a strange, suspended moment of clarity, in which he realizes a few salient things.

First, he’s probably going to die. He should have died a few times on this mission, and really, his luck is probably about run out by now.

Second, dying seems really pretty stupid. Especially after this mission and the motorcycle chase and getting rid of three overzealous pursuers.

Third, he needs to call his mother.

Fourth, he should have kissed Adele more often.

Fifth, Billy needs to work on his rescue skills.

Sixth...

Rick opens his eyes.

Sixth, Rick’s not dead. Which renders the first and second realization pointless. The third and fourth are still relevant, but they can probably wait.

The fifth, however.

He startles upright, wincing as pain flares in his side. Nothing feels broken by everything is strained, and the skin on his left side feels a little like it’s on fire. He looks down and sees shredded fabric on his arm and a nasty string of abrasions underneath. Road rash; painful, pretty nasty looking, but probably not fatal.

For a moment, he wants to laugh. He not only downed his attacker with a helmet but he managed to crash without said helmet and still be relatively fine.

There’s still that fifth point...

Gingerly, he gets to his hands and knees. Breathing tightly, he sees the bike skittered in the distance. Then, he sees Billy.

The Scot is sprawled on the ground not far from him.

He’s not moving.

Swallowing, Rick forgets all the points and drags himself over. “Billy?” he calls, settling in next to his friend. “Hey, you okay?”

Billy doesn’t answer, but he doesn’t particularly need to because the answer is pretty clear. The crash doesn’t seem to have caused much damage -- less than Rick, actually. Part of his jacket sleeve is tattered and there’s a marred section of his pants. There’s a small scrape on his cheek but no other apparent damage.

Except the gunshot.

It’s still bleeding, not copiously, but it’s soaking his pant leg and smeared across the ground.

Grimly, Rick clasps Billy’s shoulder. “Hey,” he calls again, closer now, more insistent.

Beneath his touch, Billy stirs, eyes fluttering open as he struggles to focus.

“Billy?” Rick prods.

Billy’s eyes dart about before they finally settle on Rick. Then his brow furrows. “We crashed?”

Rick snorts. “Yeah,” he says. “After you were shot.”

Billy just looks more confused. “Our attackers?”

Rick glances back; he can still see the unmoving heap where the last one went down. He’s stony when he looks back at Billy. “Taken care of,” he says.

Nodding, Billy’s consciousness seems to flag and his head starts to loll as his eyes drift shut.

Rick shakes him again. “Hey,” he says. “We’re still not in the clear. We need to get to the extraction point with Michael and Casey so we can get out.”

Billy struggles but manages to focus. “We have the coordinates, but our attackers weren’t working alone,” he says.

“I know,” Rick agrees. “So what was the next part of your plan to get us out of here?”

Billy’s nose wrinkles. “Well I was planning on driving us out...”

Rick waits for more. “It was bad before, but by now, they’ve got a dragnet out there for us,” he says. “We may even have the police on us now.”

Billy’s breath seems to stutter as he inclines his head. “Indeed,” he muses. “That was our one opportunity for a getaway, and I’m afraid it’s gone now.”

Rick works his jaw, and tries his best not to panic. There’s no one shooting at them; no one is actively following them. Things aren’t good but they’ve been worse.

At least, that’s what he tells himself. “So what was your contingency?” Rick presses.

“Contingency?” Billy asks.

“Yeah, your backup plan,” Rick says. “In case we couldn’t make a clean break the first time out.”

Billy sighs, eyelids slipping. “I’ll admit,” he says, voice barely a murmur now. “I didn’t think quite that far ahead.”

The words seem to leave him spent, and Billy closes his eyes again, the blood still seeping from the wound. For a second, Rick can only stare.

And then he realizes: there is no out. Billy has no hidden tricks; there is no quick fix. Hell, there’s not even a slow fix, as best Rick can tell.

There’s just Rick, with a blown cover. Billy, who’s got a slow, persistent bleed. Michael and Casey, waiting for them ostensibly at the airfield. Chinese gangsters from at least two factions, who want to kill Rick for lying, for stealing, and for betraying them.

There’s just Rick -- and no way out.

-o-

Rick’s going to die.

The three men on motorcycles is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There will be more. There probably already are more, moving to converge on his position. He’s basically a sitting duck, and even if he was armed, protecting Billy would be hard enough without worrying about trying to get out.

Which means, Rick’s going to die if he tries to run.

He looks at Billy. He could run without Billy, but the Scot came back for him. Billy’s only hurt because of Rick’s blown cover, and if the Scot will risk his life to rescue him, Rick can only return the favor.

Which would be more noble if Rick wasn’t going to die.

His head goes light; he feels shaky. He blinks rapidly, tears stinging behind his eyes. He doesn’t want to die; he just doesn’t.

He takes a jagged breath.

What if he doesn’t have to.

Running is suicide. But maybe he doesn’t run.

As a kid, Rick’s short legs had made him easy pickings during a recess game of tag. But then he’d learned that the trick wasn’t to run faster than the other kids; the trick was to stay away from them longer. If he ducked behind a slide or curled up under the jungle gym, he could always outlast them all. The strategy turned him from a playground loser to a bonafide hero for underdogs everywhere.

This isn’t the playground, but the idea is the same. If Rick can’t run, he just has to hide.

With new resolve, he shrugs off his jacket, using it to hastily bandage Billy’s leg. He ties it as tight as he can’t, eliciting a groan from the Scottish operative.

Without hesitating, Rick moves, using Billy’s good arm to lever him into a seated position. The change makes Billy groan again, and his eyes flutter as his breathing catches. “Rick?”

“Yeah,” Rick says, positioning himself under Billy’s arm and starting to lift.

Billy inhales sharply, his weight heavy across Rick’s shoulders. “What are we--”

“Can you walk?” Rick asks, grunting as he drags the taller man upright, gripping Billy’s wrist tightly.

Billy makes a face, fumbling to find his footing. “Not far,” he says breathlessly. He wheezes for a moment, shifting his weight to his uninjured leg. “You’ll never make it with me. You should leave me and run--”

“I’m not leaving you,” Rick says, adjusting his grip as he guides Billy forward a step.

Billy hisses, biting back a cry. “I can’t run--”

“We’re not running,” Rick returns, trying to pick up the pace just a little, even as Billy’s larger frame bears down on him.

“But--”

“We’re hiding,” Rick continues tersely.

But stumbles a bit, gasping. His face is pinched and white. “But--”

“But nothing,” Rick snaps, stopping them abruptly to look fully at the other man. “You had your turn. Now it’s my turn, okay?”

Billy looks chagrined; he actually looks stricken with wide eyes and a guileless expression. Rick almost feels guilty, but Billy inclines his head, even as he squares his shoulders. “I’m not really in a position to argue, it seems,” he says finally.

Rick takes a steadying breath, nodding as he lets it out. “No,” he says. “Now stay with me.”

“Aye,” Billy says as he limps to keep pace. “Lead on.”

-o-

Rick walks with less flair than Billy drives, but their slow and steady progress is still something. Outside the garage, Rick chooses the back alleys, sneaking along as far away from the street as possible. He hears sirens in the distance, but does his best not to flinch, focusing instead on keeping Billy upright and moving.

It’s no easy task, either. The walk is straining Billy, and the burden is weighing Rick down, too. They won’t make it much farther like this.

Which isn’t part of the plan. Rick just has to find the right place.

There are plenty of nooks and crannies in the alleys, but they’re still too exposed. He needs something inside.

He starts to try the doorknobs, just to see. Most are locked, and the first few he open show too many signs of activity. Billy is listing heavily by the time they walk three blocks, and Rick’s sweating through his shirt. They’re both ready to collapse when the next door gives and opens into a dark hallway.

Rick hesitates, listening as he looks down. There’s no sign of movement.

Stepping in, he waits again, eyes scanning the walls and the floor.

It’s dusty; it’s dank. Being unlocked, there’s a good chance it’s used, but the dark hallway hardly looks like a place where people loiter.

Cautious, he ventures in. There’s a staircase. Glancing up, he can see light filtering through a window higher up. Glancing down, there’s nothing but dark.

Pursing his lips, he adjusts his grip on Billy again. “Okay,” he mutters. “We’re almost there. You think you can manage the stairs going down?”

“Down is about the only place I’m going,” Billy quips.

Rick doesn’t laugh, and Billy says nothing as Rick leads them into the gloom.

-o-

The steps down creak and Rick flinches with every step, expecting someone to come after them. By the time they reach the bottom, Billy is almost slumped on top of him and Rick’s shoulders ache pervasively. They’re both breathless, and it takes all he has not to collapse on a heap right there.

At the bottom, there’s another hallway. The first door opens to a furnace room; the second holds tools. The third seems to have boxes. The fourth has nothing at all.

It’s still a risk, of course, but so far it’s the best one he’s seen. They just need a place to hide, until Michael and Casey can come and rescue both of them.

“Okay,” Rick says, half dropping Billy as they both slide to the ground. “I think this will work.”

Billy groans, and his eyes are wet in the dimness. “And the plan?”

“We wait,” Rick says, wetting his lips as he tries to help Billy settle into a somewhat comfortable position. He finds Billy watching him, and tries to smile. “This is a rescue operation after all, isn’t it?”

Billy’s mouth ghosts slightly into a smile. “That it is,” he agrees, even as his slip shut and he starts to sag.

Rick watches his breathing even out before he lets out a sigh. “Let’s just hope it goes better this time.”

-o-

Hiding is the smart option. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Billy slips back into unconscious quickly, and this time, he shows no sign of waking. Rick roots around and finds the penlight he carries in his pocket, and grips it between his teeth to get a better look at the wound.

The bandage has slipped and is heavily stained. Removing it, he looks through the rip in Billy’s pants to see the small, puckered wound on Billy’s thigh. Fresh blood continues to well up, but not as fast now. Still, there’s no way to know how much Billy has lost -- or how much more he can afford to lose.

With that in mind, Rick is more purposeful in wrapping the wound this time, tying the bandage securely and making sure it is well packed. Billy will still need a hospital -- and possibly a transfusion -- but it should buy them some time.

How much time, Rick doesn’t know. Rick also doesn’t know how long it will take before help arrives. He checks his own emergency beacon -- and it’s still active. But if Billy came to the rescue, then Michael and Casey probably aren’t going to be motivated by that just yet. He needs to tell them that things have gotten worse.

Muttering an apology, he goes through Billy’s pockets until he finds the lighter. Billy doesn’t stir as he flips it open and presses the button. The red light comes on, and Rick closes the top again, flipping it back open just to be sure it’s still lit.

Billy’s distress beacon should send the message loud and clear.

With a sigh, he tucks the lighter back into Billy’s pocket and looks at the unconscious man again. He does his best not to fret, but he can’t deny that it’s hard. Walking through the streets with a target on his back was hard enough; sitting here idly...

Is almost torture.

It’s all he can do, though. Sit, tend to Billy, and wait for rescue.

-o-

Rick waits.

He checks on Billy regularly, watching the bleeding and pressing his hand to Billy’s forehead before fingering the pulse on his carotid artery, counting the beats, just to be sure. He takes stock of their supplies -- which include mostly nothing; he’d been forced to give up everything when he’d been made and Billy’s cell phone is broken from the crash -- and scavenges about the abandoned room for anything he can find.

Which is to say, he finds nothing useful. And the mousetrap is awfully large, which is somewhat unsettling.

He checks Billy again, finding the Scot unchanged. Then he busies himself by checking the hallway and securing the door. The lock doesn’t function, so he sets up a chair at the end of the hallway as a makeshift trip wire; that way, if someone is coming, at least they’ll know.

When he’s looking for the chair, he finds a better flashlight, which he sets up in the dank room where he’s holed up with Billy. The glow is a little eerie, but it’s better than his penlight, and he can easily see Billy’s wan complexion in the dimness.

He checks the bandage; feels Billy’s pulse. It’s faster now; his breathing more shallow. There’s the faintest sheen of sweat starting to break out on his hairline.

Rick gets up; he paces; he checks.

Billy sleeps fitfully; he bleeds; he gets worse.

No matter what Rick does, he can’t change that.

Rick works and he tries and he does everything he can, but he’s still waiting.

He sits on the ground, huddled next to Billy.

They’re both just waiting for a rescue that Rick has to believe will come.

-o-

Billy’s breathing starts to wheeze; his heart rate flutters. His skin is clammy, and he starts to moan and mutter in his sleep. Sometimes his eyes open, but even when Rick’s right there, Billy can’t seem to see him before he slips back under.

Billy’s getting worse.

Billy shudders in the dark, whimpering in the stillness.

Billy’s dying.

And Rick’s waited long enough.

-o-

Plan B isn’t very good, but since Plan A was nothing more than hiding and hoping for the best, Rick figures it’s better than nothing. He still has a map of the city tucked into his wallet, and he lays it out under the beam of the flashlight, trying not to listen while Billy’s breaths continue in staggered intervals.

Instead, he finds their location -- or pinpoints one as best he can. Then he glances up the map and looks for another area he knows, one he scouted before the mission began. In the northern part of the city, there’s an FBI office attached to the American Embassy. It’s not exactly a welcoming face, but he knows when push comes to shove, no amount of bad interagency blood will usurp actual blood. If Billy’s dying, they’ll help.

Of course, getting there’s another story. On foot, it’d be impossible. He’ll have to steal a car, preferably something with doors this time. If he can find tinted windows, even better. Anything to cover his identity while he drives through a city full of mobsters looking to kill him.

It’s risky, of course. If he’s ID’d, he’s not sure they’ll be quite as lucky on a second high speed chase. They’ll be killed or arrested, and even if they do make it to the annex, he’ll probably compromise his CIA cover so badly that he may never be able to work in China again.

If at all.

Of course, the alternative is sitting here in the dark while Billy dies. Jaw locked, he glances at Billy. He’s colorless now, shivering visibly. He’s going downhill fast, and no matter what Rick does, the wound continues to leak blood. He’s running out of time.

Billy’s running out of time.

Which makes the decision easy in the end.

If rescue won’t come, then Rick will have to go to it.

-o-

He’s shaking while he fixes the bandage over Billy’s leg, adding another strip of fabric for good measure. He knows there’s a good possibility that walking outside will get him killed, but he doesn’t see another choice.

His fingers linger on Billy’s pulse before settling on his shoulder with a squeeze. He feels like he should say something, but honestly, at this point, he doesn’t know what.

With a sigh, Rick collects his resolve and gets to his feet. The hardest part isn’t walking out into a city looking to kill him; it’s walking out alone. If he’s going to have any chance to steal a car, he can’t be carrying Billy. He has to steal the car, bring it back to the alley, and then transfer Billy out.

All before anyone gets suspicious. At this point, it’s a tossup as to whether he’d get the cops or the mob on his tail. And really, he’s not sure what’d be worse. It’s not even the lesser of two evils. It’s just one impossibility after another.

He glances at Billy.

He takes a breath.

And then something crashes noisily in the hallway.

For a second, Rick is so stunned that he forgets to move. Then he realizes that it’s the makeshift trip wire he set up -- someone has come down the stairs and knocked the chair over.

There’s a muffled curse and then everything goes very still. Rick’s heart hammers in his chest. The gangster could be checking building by building. They’d know the location where they’d crash; it wouldn’t be impossible to trace them here.

He looks at Billy again, still insensate on the floor.

The hallway is unnatural silent, and the hairs on the back of Rick’s neck start to rise again. He’s still unarmed, but he can still win a fight. He inches back, dropping into a position of attack behind the door. He takes a deep breath and lets it out, calling on his resolve, harnessing his nerves. He’s ready.

Or at least, as ready as he’ll ever be.

The door knob moves, minutely at first but then it turns all the way. There’s a pause and then the latch releases and it creeps open. Slow, steady--

Rick tenses. He’ll only have one shot.

A foot inches in, then a leg, and when the shadowed torso comes into view, Rick pounces, flinging himself forward with everything he has.

The body hits the ground hard and there’s a oompf of surprise. Rick doesn’t hold back, wailing in rapid, uncontrolled movement until the body beneath him yelps in pain. But before he can get another punch off, someone grabs his hand and twists. The pain is immediate, and Rick caves, flailing to turn himself to minimize the pressure, even as the second attacker keeps him on his knees.

It takes a moment for the pain to die down, and he looks up desperately to see who it is who bested him; to at least see the face of the person who is probably going to murder him.

The darkness still shrouds everything but the pale face above him is twisted with a snarl.

A familiar snarl.

Behind him, there’s scuffling, and the first attacker gets to his feet. He moves around, checking his bloodied nose with his hand before looking at Rick with a smirk.

“Nice to see you too,” Michael says.

Rick gapes. “You’re here?”

Casey glowers. “We can leave again if you want.”

Michael chuckles. “But that’d be a pretty crappy rescue.”

-o-

His team, as it turns out, is pretty awesome.

Michael and Casey have impeccable timing, and their unflappable presence calms Rick’s nerves almost immediately. Sure, the whole city is probably gunning for him, but he has help now. Rescue has arrived -- for him and Billy.

With newfound courage, Rick helps prepare Billy to be moved. Rick has to think this will be a short trek, but lugging Billy won’t exactly be easy. Fortunately, Casey’s brusque bedside manner is enough to bring Billy back to consciousness, and the two of them are grousing as they work together to get Billy upright and mobile.

Still, it’s a slow, arduous trek. Billy’s awake and moving a little, but the blood loss has made him weak and drowsy, and Rick has to shrug under Billy’s other shoulder to help Casey navigate the Scot through the narrow hallway.

Michael eases his way at point, creeping up the stairs cautiously. “I think we’re clear for now,” he murmurs, keeping his voice low as he glances back at them. “We’ve got a car parked in one of the adjacent alleys. We tried to get closer, but you picked one hell of a remote spot to hide, Martinez.”

Rick grunts, tugging Billy closer as they start up the steps. “That was kind of the point.”

Billy winces as they take the steps, half staggering even as Casey props him up further.

“Well, it didn’t make this rescue any easier,” Casey mutters. “What the hell happened anyway?”

Rick almost wants to laugh. He doesn’t even know where to start. From getting the intel to getting made, to thinking he was going to die to the high speed chase through town. He grunts. “Mission went south,” he finally says. “So did Billy’s rescue.”

Next to him, Billy’s head bobs and he hisses disagreeably. “I worked with what I had,” he says, the words slurred together as they limp up another step. “A rescue mission on the fly is not the easiest thing in the world.”

“Tell me about it,” Michael says, reaching the landing and holding, glancing around the corner.

“Yes, well, the whole point of being rescued is getting the person out alive,” Rick reminds them, sweating fully now and panting for breath as he and Casey help Billy to the landing.

Billy lifts his head a little, white face looking disappointed. “Is that ingratitude?”

“Well you did get shot,” Casey reminds him.

“Yes, rescuing Rick,” Billy objects.

“And then I had to rescue you!” Rick exclaims.

“And now we’re rescuing both your asses,” Michael says, starting around the corner. “So shut up and let us do our job.”

-o-

By the time they make it to the street, Rick is too exhausted to be worried. Michael glances around fretfully, but they don’t waste time in moving down the alley, Billy almost dragging his feet now as Casey and Rick haul him. They round a corner, and Rick sees the car, and a knot in his chest unfurls as Michael approaches it, opening the back door on the passenger’s side to let Billy in.

And that’s when the gunfire starts.

-o-

The bullets come fast, and Rick’s about to look for cover when he finds himself collapsing under Billy’s weight. As he fumbles to catch Billy before they both hit the ground, he realizes that Casey’s dropped Billy’s other arm, leaving Rick to fend for himself while he joins the fray.

This is annoying, but since Rick’s about to be squashed by his own teammate and shot to death, he decides to forego annoyance and focus on survival. He can’t stop the fall, so he twists his body, trying to control it instead. He lunges as they go down, hauling Billy the short distance to the relative cover of the car. He hits the ground and scrambles, dragging Billy after him until they’re both positioned with the car as a buffer between them and the gunfire.

It takes a minute to get his bearings, but he’s struck by the realization that he’s survived this far. Glancing down, he can still see Billy breathing, which means the Scot is still alive, too. After all this, they’re still good to go.

Michael and Casey, however, may not be. It’s a bit of a buzzkill, if Rick’s honest, and one he knows he has to rectify if this hellish mission is ever going to end. Getting to his feet, he stays low, but ducks his head around the front of the car to look.

Michael is pinned down behind the door, offering apparent cover fire while Casey works his way across the alley to where a pair of cars is parked. It’s risky, but when Casey gets close enough, he doesn’t even slow down. He jumps on the roof of the first car, kicking one man before swinging himself down to punch out another. He’s taking on the third with a successful chop to the neck when the fourth turns the gun on him.

Casey doesn’t flinch. He’s moving to disarm when the gun goes off and they both go down.

Rick stares, waiting for Casey to move.

Nothing happens, and the fifth and sixth man start their gunfire again.

Across the way, Michael curses. He lifts himself up and Rick can see his head through the window, eyes focused as he fires four successive shots.

The return fire stops.

There’s a moment of silence, tense and uncertain; Rick doesn’t dare breathe. On the ground, Billy is still, face colorless and still in the gray daylight.

After a moment, Michael stands. “I think that did it,” he says, brow furrowed. He turns toward Rick, mouth open to speak.

And then another gunshot rips through the alley, and Michael goes down.

-o-

Rick stares.

He has to be dreaming.

Surely, he’s dreaming.

This can’t be real. Because Billy’s been shot and is bleeding out and now Michael and Casey are down, too. They all came to rescue him, and now they’re all shot, and the only person left is Rick.

The thought of it makes him want to curl up in a ball and just die right now. It also makes him want to laugh hysterically. But both those options are probably not ideal since they’ll probably get him killed.

More than that, it’ll cost him what little he has to gain from this mission.

Worse still, it’ll leave his team for dead.

Which means, it’s Rick’s turn.

Again.


NEXT

Comments

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: February 28th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
Tank Killer

Aww, poor Rick. Neither attempts were much of a rescue.

Loved the motorcycle chase scene and the angst. Way to much. I'm not sure if I can wait until Monday :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 14th, 2013 03:31 am (UTC)
chaos rick

It's hard to say who really has it the worst in this fic. But Rick certainly has to deal with the brunt of it!

Thanks!

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