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Chaos fic: Best Laid Plans (1/1)

March 14th, 2013 (06:25 am)
gloomy
Tags: , ,

feeling: gloomy

Title: Best Laid Plans

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: lena7142 wanted hurt Michael fic. Since I can’t say no to her, here is hurt Michael fic. With thanks to sockie1000 for the beta.

Summary: Michael always had backup plans and fallbacks. For all the good that did him now.



-o-

This wasn’t part of the plan.

Granted, when it came to normal operations for the ODS, the plan was a fluid thing. The plan changed; it evolved. Sometimes it was shot to hell and the whole damn bottom fell out.

Even so, Michael tried his best to prepare for such contingencies. He always had backup plans and fallbacks. He made sure to do all his homework and to know the mission for every angle so that he wouldn’t be surprised when something went horribly awry.

For all the good that did him now.

They were supposed to be taking down a drug lord in Argentina. Michael and Billy had gotten in as potential buyers while Casey and Rick took backup at the factory next door. It’d gone well -- really well, actually -- and Michael had just finished transferring their wealth of intel to Casey and Rick when his phone pinged.

He’d checked the text, only to see Billy’s number and a simple but telling message: SOS.

Billy had been erasing their trail; he had been scheduled to meet them in five minutes for a full extraction.

When Michael tried calling, it went straight to voicemail.

Grimly, he looked to Casey and Rick. “Stay here.”

“You can’t go in alone--” Rick protested.

“I still have a cover,” Michael insisted, checking his gun.

“That’s probably compromised,” Casey pointed out. “You’ll need all the backup you can get.”

“I know,” Michael agreed. “On the outside. Be here with the car. We’ll be leaving hot one way or another.”

Rick was gaping; Casey looked ready to stop him.

“Trust me,” Michael said, looking at them each in turn. “I’ll get him out.”

If Casey and Rick had further protests, Michael didn’t hear them.

He was already gone.

-o-

Michael’s instincts were to run. After all, he’d gotten an SOS and now Billy wasn’t answering his phone. All signs pointed to trouble, and, knowing Billy, it was probably serious trouble.

However, without knowing what kind of trouble, running in the building with guns blazing was nothing short of suicide. If Michael was going to get Billy out, he had to be smart about it.

Still, it made his skin crawl, smiling at the security check, nodding to the so-called friends he’d made over the last few weeks. They all let him pass with not a hint of concern, which either meant that Billy’s SOS was something unrelated or the matter had been contained.

Either way, it worked in Michael’s favor, even if it did make his skin crawl. Being slow and leisurely while Billy was God-knew-where...

If God knew, Michael had to find out. He started with the place he’d last seen Billy -- the shipping office. The place was vacant, though. And he checked the conference room where most of their meetings had gone down, and that was empty, too. He tried the bathrooms, the storage area, and he even skirted by the corporate offices just to see.

Nothing.

No Billy.

Michael’s face started to flush, and he felt his heart rate increase. Whatever was happening, he should have found Billy by now. He had some leeway since his cover was still intact, but if he kept poking around, soon he wouldn’t have that either.

He had to find Billy.

Now.

Mentally, he went over the building, mapping it out in his head. They’d been given ready access to the shipping bay and had been in the corridors to and from the corporate offices. Michael had sneaked a few side trips along the way, and he knew that processing and development were handled on opposite ends.

The only area he hadn’t gotten a glimpse of was the basement. Basements were for storage and utilities most of the time. The same was probably true for drug operations.

However, a basement was great for hiding things, too. Old equipment; noisy water heaters.

Outed spies.

It was a guess, maybe, but Michael knew it wasn’t a long shot. Either way, it was his only shot.

And it was sure as hell a shot he was going to take.

-o-

There were two staircases that Michael was aware of. He figured there were probably more, but those two both had exterior access from the wells. That wasn’t much intel on the space, but it was something.

Michael had worked with less.

He felt conspicuous in the corridors toward the stairs, but Michael resisted the urge to attempt stealth. People didn’t pay attention to things that seemed normal; if Michael acted normal, he was more innocuous than if he attempted to sneak.

In theory, anyway.

Still, his heart skipped a beat when he opened the door, and he took the stairs down two at a time. At the bottom, he hesitated, pressing himself against the wall and listening.

To silence. He waited another minute, just to be sure.

Not that he could be sure. That was one of the hard things about his job; certainty was a rare and tenuous thing. Michael didn’t believe in absolute truths. He just believed in making the best decision he could based on the present data.

Right now, he didn’t have a lot to go on. The basement was quiet, which was a good sign that Michael could probably open the door and walk through without getting killed. However, it could also mean that he was following a dead end lead. That maybe he was wasting his time and Billy was someplace else entirely.

But the basement was the most likely place. He knew it. If Billy had been nabbed in any capacity, that was where he’d be. It’d be secure, harder to get out of, and remote. If Michael were a drug dealer trying to root out a mole, that would be where he’d take potential suspects, too. It’d be harder to hear them scream.

Michael’s stomach flipped.

And he opened the door.

-o-

It was almost anticlimactic on the other side. It was an unremarkable basement with decent lighting and no general appearance of foreboding. The ceiling was a bit lower, maybe, and there was a faint musty odor, but it seemed to be extra storage, just as he’d expected. The first room had files; the second had items from the front business. The third was the utility room.

The fourth room, however, was at the end of the hall. When Michael tried the door, it was locked. There was no window on the door, and when Michael leaned close, there was no sound.

Billy was never quiet, unless....

Michael swallowed hard and pulled out his lockpick. He wasn’t as good as Billy, and his fingers were shaking, but after a few seconds, the latch clicked and the door opened.

Slipping in, it looked like any of the other conference rooms. There was a long table and a few office chairs. A white board ran along one wall and the overhead lights were on.

And there was Billy, ziptied to the radiator with his head tipped forward, unmoving in the corner.

This wasn’t part of the plan at all.

-o-

Michael froze.

In his mind, he charted the likelihood of this possibility, how he should have seen it coming. How Billy could be dead, could be hurt. How it could be too late, how this could be a trap. It might even be nothing but unfortunate coincidence -- maybe Billy just pissed someone off -- or maybe they knew everything and the entire mission was a bust.

Too many possibilities.

It was impossible to plan for them all.

So Michael didn’t. He forgot the odds and screwed the probabilities, and assumed that no matter what, he could still make this mission work. He could still get Billy out.

No matter what.

-o-

Michael moved.

Fast and efficient, he crossed the room in five paces, going to his knees in front of Billy’s slumped form. The Scot was listless, propped up against the wall with his arm pulled up with the ziptie. “Hey,” Michael said, reaching out and cupping Billy’s chin, lifting his face up. “Billy.”

Under his touch, Billy’s skin was cold and his eyes were closed. He looked pale, eyelids almost dusty blue and his lips dark. Michael shifted for a steadier position, bringing his other hand up to touch Billy’s cheek. “Hey, Billy,” he tried again while the Scot’s face tipped toward him lifelessly. “Come on.”

There was no reply, and Michael muffled a curse, moving one hand to Billy’s throat instead. The skin there was clammy, but the wild cadence of Billy’s heart beat was easy to make out. Mostly because, it was too fast, too irregular.

Shifting again, Michael ducked his head, his ear close to Billy’s chest. The frenetic beat was terrifying, but he waited another second until he heard the grating push and pull of Billy’s lungs. There was a raggedness about the process, though; a steady strain that Michael knew wasn’t natural. It was hard to say if the heart rate was prompting the compromised breathing or if the reverse were true -- hell, it could have been something else entirely, two separate symptoms of...what, Michael wasn’t sure.

But he had a pretty good idea.

These were drug dealers after all. It wasn’t like they didn’t have plenty of product lying around, and it wasn’t like the experts didn’t like to get creative when it came to trying out new recipes. Plus, these guys didn’t just hock the normal stuff. They catered to high end buyers, with some evidence that some of their compounds had been used to murder and torture. That had only been conjecture...

Until now.

Which meant that Billy had been drugged. With what, Michael had no idea. He didn’t know what other symptoms to expect or what the consequences might be to Billy’s body. He didn’t know how long they had before the drugs ran their course; he didn’t know if things were going to get worse or how much worse they might get.

Michael didn’t know anything.

Except this: he’d found Billy. They had an extraction. Michael just had to get them out -- and fast.

Plus, Billy’s heart was beating; his lungs were working.

That was something, at least.

Looking at Billy’s lifeless face again, he had to believe it was enough for now.

-o-

Michael made quick work of the ziptie, slicing it with his pocket knife. Billy’s hand fell limply to the ground, his body sagging forward. Michael reacted quickly, moving to catch Billy’s weight with his body, and the Scot slumped against him heavily while Michael struggled to put his blade away. Whatever they’d given Billy, Michael could figure it out -- once he got them both out.

Hastily, he moved Billy back, propping him against the wall so he could position them both for a fireman’s carry. This time, however, Billy’s head tipped back and he moaned.

“Billy?” Michael asked, looking intently at his teammate.

Billy’s head lolled for a moment, but his eyelids fluttered.

“You with me?” Michael asked, reaching up and jostling Billy’s chin again.

Billy’s eyes opened, but the normal vibrant blue was clouded and obscured by unusually large pupils. It took the Scot a long moment before he seemed to focus on Michael, and even then, the effort seemed to be taxing. “M’chael?” Billy asked, the word slurred and uneven.

Michael still grinned. “Yeah, buddy,” he said. “You think you’re ready to get out of here?”

Billy’s gaze drifted again. “Wasn’t fast enough,” he muttered, head tipping forward.

Michael caught up, jerking Billy’s head back upright and turning his face until their eyes met. “Do they know anything?”

Billy blinked. “Just...suspicions,” he murmured, eyelids heavy. He took a heaving breath, a shudder running through his body. “G’nna be back...for questions.”

Billy’s gaze skittered off again, and this time, Michael let it. “Yeah, well, I don’t think we should be around for that,” he said, hefting Billy upward with a grunt.

With a squawk, Billy flailed, his body uncooperative and gangly as Michael got them both to their feet, slipping under one of the Scot’s arms. Billy sagged against him, his head drooping and his knees buckling even as Michael hoisted him higher and pulled him close.

“Just got to keep with me,” he said. “Just a little longer and we’ll be done with this mission, okay?”

Billy whimpered a little.

Michael drew him even closer, nudging him slightly. “Hey,” he said, jostling Billy until his head lolled back to meet his gaze. “Do you trust me?”

It wasn’t clear how much Billy was comprehending -- or if he even saw Michael at all. But for the second their eyes met, there was a certainty in Billy’s face that Michael couldn’t account for.

“Always,” Billy said, the words strangely clear.

Michael didn’t have much of a plan, he probably didn’t stand much of a chance, but somehow, that didn’t matter.

He had the trust of his team, and he wasn’t going to screw that up now.

“Okay,” Michael said, adjusting his grip. “Try to keep pace and we’ll be out of here in no time.”

-o-

In no time,
it seemed, had been a bit optimistic. In truth, they didn’t have far to go -- the length of the basement hadn’t been that long, and there was just one flight of stairs until they found an exit. But despite Billy’s brief lucidity, the Scotsman was clearly drugged and the effects of whatever was in his system had compromised him on every level.

His awareness seemed to be fleeting, his head bobbing forward intermittently and jerking back up at odd intervals. His breath caught in his throat and then seemed to stop entirely for long seconds before letting out with a wheeze. His skin was still cold even though his heart was racing, and it seemed to take so much of Billy’s effort to stay conscious that the concept of walking was just about lost on him.

In all, it was about all Michael could do to keep Billy upright, and every time they took a step, the Scot’s lean frame threatened to send them both to the ground again.

“Come on, Billy,” he muttered, his own heart pounding now from the exertion alone. He tightened his grip. “I need just a little help here.”

Billy seemed to mumble something in reply, but the words were gibberish.

Cursing, Michael hauled Billy the last few feet to the door. “What did they give you anyway?” he asked despite himself.

Billy’s head rolled up, the blue in his eyes almost gone now. “M’chael?” he asked, his brow furrowed in genuine worry. “M’ybe we should go...”

Chuckling breathlessly, Michael nodded. “I’m working on it,” he said, opening the door. “One way or another.”

-o-

Opening the door, Michael shifted his position, preparing to drag Billy out under his armpits. It wouldn’t be graceful and Billy would protest if he was at all aware, but that was the point. Billy wasn’t aware. Even the fleeting moments of cognizance were mostly nonsensical, and Billy was entirely compliant if not entirely useless. He could drag the Scot down the hallway, scope out the stairs, pick him up with a fireman’s carry and bolt the rest of the way.

All in all, it was a pretty good plan.

Until he opened the door, however, and gunshots split the air.

-o-

The shots were wild, but Michael still had to dive back fast, yanking Billy down with him as they crashed unceremoniously to the ground, Billy’s weight half on top of him. A pain flared in his wrist, and Billy was struggling, limbs flailing in apparent shock.

Desperate, Michael wormed his way out, leaving Billy in a mess of limbs as he drew his gun and made his way back to the door. He’d been so set on getting out, that he hadn’t swept the hallway -- and now he had no way of knowing how many shooters there were and really, just how badly screwed they were.

Opening the door would be an invitation to get shot at, but barricading themselves in the room was the stupidest move he could possibly make. They had only one exit. And Michael was damn well going to take it, gunmen be damned.

Of course, that meant he had to open the door.

Chewing his lip, he glanced at Billy, who hadn’t been able to sit up yet. He could hear voices outside now -- two distinct ones -- and he made his choice.

Moving quickly, he went around to the far side of the door, positioning himself so he could open it without exposing himself to an easy shot. He controlled the tremor in his hand as he reached out, grasping the handle and twisting.

The gunfire was immediate. Michael winced, ducking down even as he swung the door wide, wood splintering above him. The shots continued, pelting the far wall with jagged bullet holes, but Michael held still and listened.

There were at least two shooters...three.

No more.

There could be more people, however. Michael had no way of knowing. He was no human weapon, but with a little straight shooting, he could take down three and still have a hope of getting out of here. The basement was well insulated, after all. It would have to be if this was the kind of business they did down here.

All he had to do was to draw them out, get himself in position. He needed to move quickly, to minimize the number of people who knew they were there, who knew there was a breach.

But before he could reposition himself, someone else did it for him.

Michael had been so set on counting his enemy that he’d forgotten about Billy.

The drugged operative was lurching to his feet. He staggered, leaning heavily against the wall, and for a second, Michael hoped he’d go right back down again. But instead, he shook his head, taking a lurching step forward -- right into the open doorway and in the line of fire.

-o-

This wasn’t part of the plan.

They were supposed to be in and out; Michael was supposed to finish the mission, protect his team.

But Billy was compromised; drugged. They were pinned down and cornered.

And now Billy was walking straight into a bullet.

Michael had let the rest happen.

He couldn’t let that happen.

He just couldn’t.

On his feet, Michael lunged as the gunfire started. The world exploded as he collided with Billy, tackling the other man to the ground. Beneath him, Billy’s body went limp, and when Michael looked down, Billy’s eyes were closed, his face ashen now.

Michael’s stomach churned so hard that it actually hurt, and he had to push himself up, his knees threatening to give out as he got to his feet.

He didn’t let them, though. Not now. Not when there was still a mission to complete.

Gun raised, he forgot about the plan, and shot at the first sign of movement outside the door. There was a yelp and a thump, and when something else moved, Michael fired three shots with the same result.

Two down.

One to go.

If this was one was smart enough to keep his distance, that was fine. Michael wasn’t going to wait around this time.

Instead, he moved to the side of the door, narrowed in on the open doorway kitty-corner from him. He saw the flash of a muzzle and heard the shot, but he narrowed his gaze and fired.

The man went down, this time without even a sound.

It was a heady feeling, and the adrenaline went straight to his head. A wave of dizziness swept him, and he found himself leaned against the doorjamb before he knew what was happening. Blinking, he saw the blood.

On his shirt; coating his side. A dark stain on his pants.

He’d been shot.

Of course he’d been shot.

And then he felt the pain.

It came suddenly, blinding him with its intensity. He squeezed his eyes shut as his stomach threatened to rebel, and he fisted his hands, pounding one against the wall in desperation as his consciousness wavered precariously.

He’d been shot, and he didn’t know exactly how bad, but it felt bad enough. It made him want good drugs and a comfortable sedation. It made him want a comfortable bed and warm blankets and sleep...

Michael jerked his head up.

He didn’t know what the hell the plan was anymore, but falling asleep and bleeding out certainly wasn’t part of it.

In fact, getting shot didn’t change anything. Getting Billy out was still a priority. He just had even more incentive now.

His eyes flitted to Billy -- as if he hadn’t had enough incentive before.

Gritting his teeth, Michael forced himself to move. Because he’d asked Rick and Casey to trust him; because he’d asked Billy to trust him.

And Michael wasn’t going to let them down now.

-o-

Casey was the human weapon, but Michael had completed more than his share of impossible feats. It might have been noteworthy if he hadn’t seen such instances as mere necessities. After all, Michael liked setting tangible goals and meeting them. It was how he’d managed to run 15 miles in Bolivia to get a doctor for Rick; it was how he intended to escape a hostile building while carrying an injured teammate while nursing two gunshot wounds himself.

It was a lofty goal, but it was concrete, and wholly dependent on his own fortitude. It wasn’t like his plan to get back together with Fay, which hinged unfortunately on her preoccupation with not being married to him. It was a task. It had high risk and numerous complications, but the actual methodology was easy enough for a child to understand.

Maybe not easy enough for a child to do, but Michael wasn’t going to dwell on that. Because he was a trained operative; he was physically fit; he was determined.

That was all he needed.

Sucking in a sharp breath, Michael steeled himself before making his way back to Billy. The first step was excruciating, and the next wasn’t much better. When he went to his knees, his vision tunneled precariously, and he had to breathe for a few extra seconds before he could actually focus his eyes.

Billy was sprawled on his stomach, and when Michael rolled him over, he flopped listlessly, head lolling to the side. His lips were dusky now, his complexion almost translucent, and his heart was beating so fast the Michael could see the rapid throbbing at the pulse point in his throat.

Billy hadn’t been much help before, but he was completely out of it now, so Michael didn’t waste any more time pretending like the other man might walk out under his own steam. Instead, he dragged Billy up, stifling a cry of pain as he threw Billy haphazardly over his shoulder. Getting his legs underneath himself was a monumental task, and Michael could feel tears stinging his eyes as a fresh stream of blood made its way down his stomach. Billy’s dead weight was crushing, and every fiber of his being protested, but Michael didn’t care.

Couldn’t care.

He’d asked his team to trust him.

He wouldn’t betray that trust; not even for his body’s sake.

Grinding his teeth together, Michael found his equilibrium, tightening his grip on Billy with one hand before making sure his gun was firmly in the other.

Then, he began to run.

-o-

It was ironic, Michael supposed. His body was in agony, and Billy was entirely lifeless, but all in all, everything was finally going according to plan.

Michael could barely see the three bodies in the hallway, only enough to avoid tripping over them as he lurched his way to the exit. At the door, he had to steady himself, bracing himself for a moment on the handle and trying to remember how to breathe.

Then again, breathing was irrelevant.

Getting Billy out -- that was what mattered. Finishing the mission, protecting his team.

Michael squeezed his eyes shut, ignoring the hot tears that slipped down his face. His shirt was sticky with blood now, clinging uncomfortably to his body and soaking his pants and boxers. It hurt, a gnawing, throbbing, encompassing pain that threaten his consciousness with every move, every breath.

Breathing was irrelevant, Michael remember.

He opened his eyes.

Getting Billy out -- that was what mattered.

And he opened the door.

-o-

The stairs were literally small steps toward freedom. He was so close. But as he lifted his foot to take the first one, his knees almost gave in and he found himself falling. He had to reach a hand out to catch himself, the metal of the gun resounding loudly in the confined space. On his back, Billy’s weight shifted, threatening to take him down, but Michael couldn’t let that happen.

Wouldn’t let that happen.

Pushing himself up, he breathed out hard, tightening his grip so hard that he could almost feel his knuckles splitting. He lifted his leg again, biting savagely on the inside of his lip as his foot came down and the movement resounded through his body with horrifying intensity.

He was so close.

He had to make it.

He would.

-o-

At the top of the stairs, Michael was drenched, but he couldn’t tell how much was sweat and how much was blood. Billy’s body felt like ice above him, and he could no longer discern the telltale sign of a heart beat.

Michael refused to acknowledge that, though. It didn’t fit with the plan.

Then again, neither did the door behind him bursting open.

All in all, Michael was used to the plan being shot to hell, but he was getting pretty tired of it.

Growling, he turned, lifting the gun in time to see the glint of a pistol being raised at him in return. Michael fired -- once and twice -- because he wasn’t sure exactly what he was even seeing anymore. The figure went down, and Michael could hear voices in the distance.

It was well past time to go.

His vision was dim and his body felt weak. It took all his weight to throw open the door to the outside, and the automatic alarm that triggered blasted in his ears.

Not that it mattered, though.

Because Michael had made it this far, almost according to plan.

He wasn’t stopping now.

-o-

On the outside, Michael ran.

By nature, Michael had always been a runner. Cross country had been his sport of choice in high school, and he’d always preferred solitary runs for his personal workouts. There was a quiet rhythm about running, there was a long term commitment that required planning and foresight in order to make it through. He always liked that about the sport.

This time, however, there was no planning. He had no reserves; he had no alternative strategies. He didn’t know how far he had left to go, just that he had to get there -- and fast. Every step was harder than the last, and the weight on his body was almost overwhelming. In fact, he didn’t think he could do this anymore.

He just knew he had to.

For the mission.

For his team.

For Billy.

Michael ran.

He was so set on his destination that he didn’t see the two new figures until he almost ran into them. He tried to lift his gun, but he found himself quickly disarmed. Michael panicked, starting to flail as they tried to take Billy from him. Michael had come too far to give up now -- he’d come too far...

“Easy,” Casey’s voice came, steady in his ear even as he forcibly restrained Michael. “It’s us.”

Michael blinked, trying to get his dimming vision to clear. “We’re out?”

Everything was spinning, and this time when Martinez started to move Billy, Michael didn’t fight him.

“Once we get loaded up in the van,” Casey confirmed.

Michael watched as Rick dragged Billy toward the open back of a van, Casey moving over to help gently lift Billy into the open back. Billy was gray now, unmoving. He looked bad. He looked...

Rick was back, next to him, frowning up into his face. “You okay?”

Michael blinked, surprised. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Instead, his vision began to blur and his head went light and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get his body to respond to basic commands.

“Michael?” Rick asked again, seeming to look him over for the first time. “Is that...?”

Blood, Michael thought. A gunshot wound. Two gunshot wounds.

He shook his head. “Didn’t go quite the way I thought,” he muttered, or he thought he did, but really, he was too busy passing out to be sure.

Rick yelped; Casey cursed.

Then everything went dark.

-o-

When he woke up, there was a bright light in his eyes, blinding him. He tried to move away, but pain flared in his side and someone held him down while a monitor started to beat steadily in his ear.

Grimacing, he turned his head, trying to squint around the sudden flurry in his field of vision. A moment passed, and Michael realized he was in a hospital.

Turning his head back, he made out the masked faces above him, trying to make sense of their words flying above him.

He needed to ask them, though. About his team. About Billy.

“Hey,” he said, half choking on the words. “Hey--”

Someone grabbed his shoulder, speaking to him but none of the words made sense.

Michael scrunched his nose, shaking his head. “I’m okay,” he said. “But -- my friends--”

A monitor started to beep louder, and Michael looked to the side, watching as a doctor moved a bloody scalpel. Michael blinked, trying to make sense of it.

“Really,” he said, trying to make the words count. “I just need--”

He needed to know where his team was. He needed to know where Billy was. The plan...

Then another monitor chirped and someone held a mask over his face and everything went dim again, slipping away from Michael before he had a chance to stop it.

-o-

Michael wasn’t sure how, but he was pretty sure that none of this was part of the plan.

For starters, he couldn’t really move. His body was heavy, and everything felt strangely disconnected. When he opened his eyes, his vision was blurred and his chest felt tight. When he took a breath, pain ignited in his side, burning down his leg and up his shoulder.

On top of that, he felt weak, his brain felt fuzzy and his throat ached. For a moment, he stared at the ceiling, trying to remember what happened, but he found his memory unsettlingly addled, the thick cotton in his brain almost making him panic more than anything else.

He didn’t panic, though. Because Michael might not remember, but he could deduce. He wasn’t that badly compromised.

But he was compromised. More specifically, he’d been injured. Shot.

Which meant, he realized slowly, he was in a hospital bed.

This definitely wasn’t part of the plan.

They were supposed to finish the mission, roll up the intel on drug dealers, be on a plane to Washington, but Billy...

He startled, the fog dissipating as he jolted. He didn’t make it far, though, before the pain spiked and everything went black for a long, consuming moment.

When he opened his eyes again, the pain had abated just slightly and someone was standing above him.

Glaring at him.

He wrinkled his forehead. “Casey?”

“At least there’s no brain damage,” the older man muttered.

Michael tried to even his breathing but didn’t try to move this time. “What happened?”

Casey raised his eyebrows, nonplussed. “You got shot,” he said. “Twice.”

Michael frowned, trying to remember. He remembered the pain; he remembered the blood. He remembered running... He gave up on the details. “Billy?”

Casey sighed, but he didn’t looked surprised. “I don’t suppose telling you that you coded twice on the table and nearly bled to death would change your priorities,” he said.

There were implications to that, and Michael knew it; somehow, though, he didn’t care. “Is he...?”

“Alive,” Casey supplied. “He’s in a bed just a few doors down, in fact. He’s been awake a few times, though. They think he’s going to be fine.”

Michael let out a breath he hadn’t quite been aware he’d been holding. A small pressure unfurled in his chest. “Did they--” He had to cut off, swallowing to build up the saliva in his parched throat. “Did they figure out what he was -- dosed with?”

Casey pursed his lips, a flash of rage in his eyes. “It would be easier to figure out what he wasn’t dosed with,” he said. “The doctors are still trying to sort through his toxicology. When he got here, his vitals were all over the map and he wasn’t breathing. They ultimately threw every drug treatment at him they could and he bounced back pretty quick.”

Nodding wearily, Michael felt his energy flagging. It seemed too early for that, but he couldn’t stop it. And it wasn’t like any of his plans had really worked out so far, so his desire to stay awake was probably just another casualty of Michael’s total and complete failure.

Casey hesitated, and his face softened just slightly. “We weren’t so sure about you, though,” he said, and Michael was out of it, but he could still hear the traces of concern in Casey’s words. “You’ve been on the critical list for nearly three days.”

Michael’s brow furrowed. “Three days?”

“Well, you did get shot,” Casey reminded him. “Twice.”

“But the plan...”

“Is no longer your concern,” Casey told him abruptly. “You trust us, right?”

The question was simple, but it hit Michael hard. Caught him off guard. He asked his team to trust him, now they wanted the same.

Michael was good at earning trust; he had a much harder time of giving it. That was why he planned everything; that was why he knew all the piece of the puzzle. Because Michael didn’t trust much beyond his own logic and skill.

But the question still stood.

And really, all the evidence told him that the answer was just as simple as the question. “Yeah,” he said, eyelids sagging as his body started to relax.

“Good,” Casey said, a small, rueful smile on his lips. “Then rest, and everything will be better the next time you wake up.”

This time, Michael didn’t resist the encroaching darkness and he gave up control -- maybe with regrets but certainly without hesitation.

-o-

The next time he woke up, Michael felt better. Blinking his eyes a few times, he yawned, settling back into his pillow -- he felt a lot better. Sleepily, he glanced toward the machines at his side, noting the IV strung from his hand and figured that had a lot to do with it.

“Hey!” Rick said, sounding downright giddy. “You’re awake!”

Michael turned his head downward, finding Martinez situated in a chair at the foot of his bed. He gave the kid a smirk. “Glad to see your observational skills are better than ever.”

Rick rolled his eyes, but his cheeks still flushed a little. “You’ve been in and out for most of the day,” he explained. “I was starting to wonder if Casey made up the last time.”

Michael frowned, turning his head to look for a clock. “How long has it been?”

“Another day,” Rick said.

Michael’s frown deepened. “Really?” he said. “It doesn’t seem like it...”

Rick shrugged a bit. “Well, they did start you on some pretty strong drugs, so the doctors said you may be a little out of it for a bit,” he said.

Michael found himself smiling despite his better judgment. “Normally I don’t like the heavy stuff, but this time, I don’t think I can complain.”

“Considering the surgery you went through?” Rick asked. “I wouldn’t think so.”

The candor in Rick’s voice was surprising, and Michael became vaguely aware of the fact that under the guise of the drugs, he was still weak and spent. “How am I doing?”

Rick’s candor quickly evaporated. “Good,” he supplied, all too readily. “Really, really good.”

Michael narrowed his eyes. “I’m drugged, Martinez. Not stupid.”

Rick sighed. “You are doing good,” he said. “Relatively speaking.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you had major surgery a few days ago,” Rick explained. “It means you almost died a few times. You’re going to be laid up for a while, and it may be a few months before they even think about clearing you for duty.”

Michael had wanted honesty; he needed the facts if he was going to be in control of the situation, if he was going to make a good plan.

But this time, the facts sort of sucked.

Rick leaned forward, almost sounding apologetic. “But you have made a lot of progress,” he said. “And I’ve been talking a lot with Fay. She’s been personally looking into getting you set up for remote access so you can log in from home when we get back. She sends her well wishes, by the way.”

If the kid was trying to cheer him up, Michael had to admit, Rick was doing a pretty good job. He didn’t like being injured, and he hated missing work more, but eliciting actual emotion from Fay? Was always a good thing.

But there was still one rather large loose end Michael still needed to attend to. “And Billy?”

“So far there’s no sign of any residual effects from whatever they dosed him with,” Rick said. “They watched him pretty closely the first few days because he had trouble regulating his heartbeat, but he’s already charming the nurses into all sorts of things.”

Michael didn’t think Rick was lying -- he sounded too sincere for that. But Michael didn’t like to take facts in second hand. He needed to crosscheck, to confirm.

Mostly, he just needed to see Billy.

Which meant, he needed a plan. Pushing himself up a bit more, he winced, testing out the limitations of his body. Even with the drugs, pain resounded through his body, and he felt stiff and sore. He wouldn’t make it on his own; not in this condition. If he could just talk Martinez into helping...

“Are there any wheelchairs around here?” Michael asked.

Rick balked. “Did you forget the part where you’re recovering from major surgery?” he asked. “You’re still in a critical care ward.”

Michael gritted his teeth, shaking his head. “I’ll stay in the chair, but I just need to see Billy--”

Rick was on his feet, pushing Michael back down.

Michael didn’t yield, though. “I need to see him--”

“I know, I know,” Rick said. rolling his eyes. “But we’ve already taken care of it.”

Confused, Michael stopped his struggling to look at the kid. Rick checked his watch, and then the door opened.

And there, in the wheelchair pushed by Casey, sitting up with his bare legs showing, was Billy, grinning like an idiot.

“And you’re awake!” Billy crooned. “I don’t think we could have planned this little trip any better, if I do say so myself.”

-o-

Rick and Casey excused themselves, leaving Billy in the wheelchair pushed close to Michael’s bed. In their wake, there was an awkward silence before Billy chuckled. “This is a strange reversal of sorts.”

“No kidding,” Michael said. “When I got your SOS, I worried that I’d be the one doing a bedside vigil.”

Billy’s smile faded a little. “Yes,” he said. “Well, while I appreciate the rescue, I admit, I could do without your theatrics.”

“My theatrics?” Michael asked, indignant. “You’re the one who got drugged. What happened anyway?”

At that, Billy’s smile was gone entirely and he seemed to shrink in on himself. “Apparently I was a bit too thorough,” he said. “One of the lieutenants saw me wiping down the room and took me straight to the boss. They couldn’t crack my cover, so they seemed to think I could use a little help in the honesty department. Bloody geniuses drugged me, ziptied me in the basement but didn’t take my phone. We’re lucky I can text one-handed.”

Lucky didn’t quite seem like the right word. Michael shook his head. “I’m sorry I left you alone,” he said. “I should have stayed--”

“And we both would have got nabbed and lost the intel,” Billy said. He shook his head. “Your plan was good.”

“The plan nearly got you killed,” Michael reminded him.

“Well, that is the nature of the job,” Billy reminded him. “Near-death experiences are part and parcel in the spy game.”

“It was still my plan,” Michael said.

“Which I agreed with,” Billy said. “Whole-heartedly. Honestly, the whole thing after that is a blur, but what I do remember -- more clearly than anything else -- that I knew you’d figure something out. I didn’t doubt that, not for an instant. I wasn’t even scared.”

It seemed ironic. Billy had been badly drugged and completely helpless, and he hadn’t been scared at all. Michael, on the other hand, fully skilled and cognizant, had been downright terrified.

“Which is all to say,” Billy continued. “Thank you. For getting me out. I don’t actually care what plan you used, I’m still breathing thanks to you, and for that, I am grateful.”

It hadn’t been any sort of plan, but then again, maybe that didn’t matter. Maybe plans were only as good as the people who made them, and team leaders were only as capable as the teams they led. Maybe Michael spent too much time asking his team to trust him and not enough time acknowledging how much he trusted them.

Maybe all was well that ended well.

It sure felt that way; hell, it felt like this was what Michael should have planned from the beginning.

Smirking, Michael shook his head. “You know, that’d mean more if it wasn’t such a tired line.”

Billy’s forehead furrowed. “Beg your pardon?”

“You, thanking me for saving your life,” Michael said. “You seem to be making a habit of it.”

Billy shook his head, confused. “I’m not sure--”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Come on,” he said. “This is, what, your fourth ER visit this year alone?”

Billy’s mouth fell open. “Most of those were minor incidents -- nothing more than precautions--”

“And that’s not even counting the times we didn’t take you in,” Michael said. “I mean, what about the time you got electrocuted by a car battery?”

Billy scoffed. “That was entirely different--”

“Or the time you fell into a frozen lake and nearly died from hypothermia?” Michael pressed.

Billy’s mouth hung open. “I didn’t realize you were keeping count.”

“It’s sort of hard not to,” Michael said. “If you didn’t do so much for this team, your insistence on nearly dying would be problematic.”

“Oh, so what,” Billy said. “This little stunt of yours is an attempt to even the score?”

Michael found himself grinning. “Like I could,” he quipped. Then he shrugged. “Really, I’m just trying to do my part in all this.”

“Well,” Billy said, shaking his head and trying -- and failing -- not to smile. “You did that -- and then some. Trust me.”

Michael asked for a lot of trust; it was usually harder to give. But in this case, Michael didn’t have any doubts. None of this was part of the plan.

The worst things never were.

But neither were the best.

Comments

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: March 14th, 2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
Ah, just wonderful

Forgive my lack of creativity with my adjectives to your stories. Sometimes I worry I'm boring you to death using the same old words over and over again, that I should be just as creative as your h/c of Billy, but I hope you know how much I delight in your stories and your "scenes". In many ways there aren't enough words or the right ones to express how much I just "drink up" the suffering!!!



Shifting again, Michael ducked his head, his ear close to Billy’s chest. The frenetic beat was terrifying, but he waited another second until he heard the grating push and pull of Billy’s lungs. There was a raggedness about the process, though; a steady strain that Michael knew wasn’t natural. It was hard to say if the heart rate was prompting the compromised breathing or if the reverse were true -- hell, it could have been something else entirely, two separate symptoms of...what, Michael wasn’t sure.

But he had a pretty good idea.

-- I can NEVER EVER get enough Billy h/c


On his feet, Michael lunged as the gunfire started. The world exploded as he collided with Billy, tackling the other man to the ground. Beneath him, Billy’s body went limp, and when Michael looked down, Billy’s eyes were closed, his face ashen now.

--You KNOW how much I LOVE Billy heroics!


“Which I agreed with,” Billy said. “Whole-heartedly. Honestly, the whole thing after that is a blur, but what I do remember -- more clearly than anything else -- that I knew you’d figure something out. I didn’t doubt that, not for an instant. I wasn’t even scared.”

It seemed ironic. Billy had been badly drugged and completely helpless, and he hadn’t been scared at all. Michael, on the other hand, fully skilled and cognizant, had been downright terrified.

“Which is all to say,” Billy continued. “Thank you. For getting me out. I don’t actually care what plan you used, I’m still breathing thanks to you, and for that, I am grateful.”

-- Billy's logic and gratitude is SO lovely!!!


Billy’s mouth hung open. “I didn’t realize you were keeping count.”

“It’s sort of hard not to,” Michael said. “If you didn’t do so much for this team, your insistence on nearly dying would be problematic.”

“Oh, so what,” Billy said. “This little stunt of yours is an attempt to even the score?”

Michael found himself grinning. “Like I could,” he quipped. Then he shrugged. “Really, I’m just trying to do my part in all this.”

“Well,” Billy said, shaking his head and trying -- and failing -- not to smile. “You did that -- and then some. Trust me.”

--Billy absolution. Nothing better than that!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 24th, 2013 02:33 am (UTC)
Re: Ah, just wonderful
billy bruised

It's good that you can't get enough Billy h/c since I seem incapable of not writing it! I do love his heroics -- and his pain :)

Thanks!

Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: March 15th, 2013 12:52 pm (UTC)
Vin forward-half

Great characterization! I love hurt!Michael (thanks to Lena for wanting in!!) Nicely done and thanks for sharing!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 24th, 2013 02:34 am (UTC)
chaos team 2

I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I am a Billy girl but I love them all.

Thanks!

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: March 17th, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
Michael Running

Another masterful piece :)

I adore Michael's dedication to the team and the plan (whether it really works or not)

And this: " There was a quiet rhythm about running, there was a long term commitment that required planning and foresight in order to make it through. He always liked that about the sport" : Dead On :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 24th, 2013 02:35 am (UTC)
chaos team 2

Michael is such a wonderful team leader. I love messing with his God complex in all the worst ways.

And I'm not a runner so I'm glad I got it right :)

Thanks!

Posted by: serenity_pen (serenity_pen)
Posted at: March 31st, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
Stonebridge Gold

I don't know where to begin....so let's start with, "Thanks"! Thanks for continuing the fantastic adventures of the ODS. Your writing of them is "pitch" perfect and always amazes me. You have the characters down to an art and the way you write I can "see" the scene. Some of your stories could easily have been episodes. You are also the only one that I feel that gets the character of Michael down. He is not one who is easily written and yet you pull it off flawlessly. I love Billy whump but am thrilled that you have Michael whump in this one as well. As I said, Michael is difficult to write but I think even more so when he's hurt and yet...you did it fabulously.

Thanks again for keeping this fandom alive!

Now....if I could just get you to write stories for Strike Back! :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 12th, 2013 11:22 am (UTC)
billy thinks

You are very kind :) I really enjoy writing Michael, in all honesty; I like his POV as team leader and the implicit control issues that he has. I'm not usually prone to whumping him, but every now and then I suppose it's due :)

I'm just glad there are still people who read this fandom from time to time! My muse is not ready to move on.

Thanks!

LOL, I've never even heard of Strike Back. I actually don't really watch TV anymore so I'm not prone to new fandoms at all :)

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