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Chaos fic: Complications (1/1)

February 13th, 2015 (12:54 pm)
amused
Tags: ,

feeling: amused

Title: Complications

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: Someone prompted this, but I apologize in saying I don’t recall who as it was several months ago. But still! Beta with thanks to sockie1000.

Summary: Rick doesn’t see it coming.



-o-

This mission has been complicated.

Given that Rick works for the CIA and that he’s a member of the ODS, that statement means something. Because Rick’s been arrested in Russia; he’s snuck out of North Korea. He’s been shot miles from medical help in the back hills of South America.

And yet, this mission is complicated.

It’s not so much the drug ring they’re trying to take down. It’s not even the massive sale of heroin that they’re trying to stop without official consent from Langley. It’s not even the mercenaries who showed up out of nowhere, ambushing them just off the coast of Australia and making off with everything they’d managed to collect so far.

No, it’s mostly the fact that in the scuffle, wherein the ODS had been outnumbered three to one, they’d all gotten their asses handed to them, all of which had left them inexplicably one man short.

“Uh, guys?” Rick asks, rubbing his head. “Where’s Billy?”

Michael is getting unsteadily to his feet, wiping at his bloody lip. Casey, who broke his foot earlier in the mission, is hobbling in a mangled cast, looking more annoyed that he’d lost the fight than the fact that their improvised mission has been compromised.

“Did you check inside?” Michael asks, wincing as he braces himself on the rail.

“I saw him get whacked over the head pretty good,” Casey reports with a grimace.

Rick goes to the cabin, looking inside. He looks around the back and feels his heart skip a beat. “He’s not here--”

“Well, they didn’t take him with them,” Michael says. “They had their hands full.”

“And why would they want him anyway?” Casey asks.

“So where is he?” Rick asks, voice starting to pitch just a little.

Michael looks first.

Casey looks second.

Then Rick understands just how complicated this mission is.

They can lose the intel. They might even compromise on the drugs. And okay, sometimes the bad guys get away. And it’s not like Rick’s not used to being on Higgins’ bad side.

But they’re not going back a man short.

They’re not.

“Where did you last see him?” Rick asks, kicking off his shoes.

“Up by the bow,” Casey says. “He went down pretty fast in the first assault--”

Rick makes his way there.

“Martinez,” Michael says. “What--”

“We’ve lost everything else,” he says, shrugging out of his shirt. “We’re not losing this.”

With no further preamble, he mounts the side, takes a breath, and dives in.

-o-

The good news is that the water is perfect.

They’re not too far off the shore, so at least it’s not too deep. Better still, this is Australia, so the water is comfortable and surprisingly clear for the ocean. There are some currents, but Rick can’t detect anything too strong where they’re positioned, which makes swimming easy and reduces the chance that Billy’s been pulled away from their anchor site. Plus, it’s broad daylight, which makes the fact that they got bested by mercenaries a little embarrassing, but it certainly improves Rick’s odds for success in this.

The bad news is, of course, that Billy’s been underwater too long.

And that their entire mission is a bust and they’re probably going to get fired and arrested and everything else horrible and awful.

But that’s pretty much how it goes in the ODS. He trusts they’ll turn this around somehow, or, at the very least, they’ll find a way to make it palatable when they get back to Langley. The ODS -- they’re strangely idealistic realists, dreamers who know when to quit.

That’s all he can think, that’s all he can focus on.

They’ll make this work.

He’ll find Billy; they’ll get him back.

They’ll get the drugs back; they’ll catch the mercenaries and the drug dealers.

Everything will be fine.

That’s when Rick sees Billy. Submerged and not moving, the Scotsman is off to Rick’s left. With a few good kicks, he’s there, pulling the other man toward him and kicking toward the surface.

He’s so set on his goal that he doesn’t see it coming.

But he feels it.

His upward momentum is eclipsed, overwhelmed by a sudden and powerful pain. The intensity of it steals his breath, and he inadvertently gasps, inhaling a mouth full of water. The pain and choking conflate, and for one horrible moment, Rick thinks he’s going to drown.

Wouldn’t that just be typical? Wouldn’t that just be perfect?

To be so close and to have it end here, like this? To lose Billy and himself, all at once?

Flailing, Rick’s eyes burn.

This isn’t it, he tells himself.

This isn’t it.

No, he’s going to get to the surface. He’s going to save Billy.

Because the mission is complicated, but that isn’t.

No, that’s really, really simple.

Grinding his teeth together, Rick adjusts his grip on Billy, grimacing through the pain as he swims toward the surface once again.

-o-


Resolve is a remarkable thing.

It gets him to the surface.

It doesn’t, however, do anything about the pain.

The agony is intense and unrelenting, pulsing up and down his leg and sending cascading waves of pain throughout his body. It pulls tight in his lungs, turning his stomach into knots, and every beat of his heart only seems to make it worse.

“Rick!”

“Martinez!”

Blinking, Rick tries to take a few breaths but only succeeds in half sobbing. He falters, barely managing to tread water with his leg, and Billy nearly slips back underneath the water. He bobs badly himself, choking on another mouthful of water as he flails blindly to stay afloat. He is still badly disoriented when the boat appears from nowhere in front of him.

“I got him, I got him--”

Just like that, Billy is pulled from his arms. The limp Scotsman is hoisted up and disappears, which should have made it easier.

But without Billy, Rick’s self control slips even worse. His leg feels like it was on fire, and now there’s no distraction. Mere movement is a cruel and unusual torture. Drowning would be better. Drowning would be--

He gets another mouthful of water, and he is choking when someone grabs him too. He is being lifted up and--

“It’s okay. We’ve got you--”

Rick shakes his head. “My leg--”

“We’ve--”

“My leg,” Rick all but yells, coughing viciously again.

As if on cue, his affected limb hits the side of the boat hard, and it is raked roughly over the lip of the boat until Rick is half dropped, unceremoniously on his ass. The indignity of it might bother him, if it isn’t for-- “My leg--

“What the hell?” Michael asks.

Rick spits more water, heaving greedily for air.

“Martinez, what--”

Rick blinks, craning his neck up to get a look for the first time. “Is that--”

“A jellyfish,” Michael confirms grimly, already on his feet.

Rick almost convulses, struggling to steady his breath without jarring his leg. “A jellyfish?” he asks, but his voice sounded off pitch and strange.

Michael returns, face pinched as he goes to Rick’s leg, towel in hand. “Nasty bastards.”

Rick is too dumbfounded to reply. His fingers are fisted against the deck, and he lets himself glance to the side where Casey has Billy laid out, pinching his nose shut to breathe twice. “Billy?”

Michael spares a quick glance. “Casey’s got him.”

Rick forces himself up on his elbows. “But Billy--”

That’s when Michael touches his leg.

And fresh agony ensues.

It’s so sharp and it’s so sudden, that Rick is wholly unprepared to deal with it. His vision goes white, and he’s wracked with pain so intense that every muscle in his body abruptly goes stiff as a board before his energy leaves him entirely.

He flops back to the deck, smacking his head hard, and stars are exploding behind his eyelids. He’s drowning on dry land, for some reason. He’s dying, and he doesn’t know why.

“Rick?” a voice asks. “Martinez!”

Finally, Rick manages to inhale, deep and ragged. The influx of oxygen infuses him with new life.

And new pain.

He screams, arching off the deck.

“What the hell--” he demands as much as he begs.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Michael says. He’s half floating above Rick, holding the waxy figure of a jellyfish in a towel. “It’s off.”

Rick’s vision normalizes a little, and he manages to take a breath without keening in agony. “What?” he asks. “You want to keep it as a pet?”

“No,” Michael says, moving it to the side and wrapping it a little better. “I want to keep it in case we need to know what kind it is.”

“Why do we care what kind it is?” Rick asks incredulously. “As long as it’s not attached to my leg.

Michael doesn’t look amused.

In fact, he looks even worse than before.

Rick clenches his teeth, straining to look back again. “Billy?”

“Casey’s still got him,” Michael reports, this time not even looking back himself. He reaches out, taking Rick by the shoulders. “How do you feel?”

“Horrible,” Rick says. “But Billy--”

“Casey’s got him,” Michael says, eyes still on Rick as he shakes him just a little. “Your breathing. Is it okay?”

“I swallowed a lot of seawater,” Rick says, still trying to look for any movement while Casey does another round of compressions.

“But no numbness?” Michael presses, ducking his head as if to force Rick to hold his eye contact.

“Numbness would be nice right now, honestly,” Rick says, trying to look around Michael as he watches Casey breathe for Billy again.

“I’m serious, Martinez.”

“So am I!” Rick says, because he’s in pain and he’s exhausted and Billy’s lying on the deck not breathing. He turns furious eyes on Michael. “Billy’s not breathing--

“Casey’s got him,” Michael says, sounding almost exasperated now. He lifts a hand to Rick’s brow. “I need to know if you’re feeling flushed--”

Rick jerks back. “I think we have other priorities!”

Michael holds him tighter, pressing his palm to Rick’s forehead. “Yeah,” he says. “Like you, who may or may not have been stung by a box jellyfish.”

“Well, of course I was stung by a jellyfish!” Rick protests, sneaking a look around in time to see Casey start another round of compressions.

“Not a jellyfish,” Michael says. “A box jellyfish.

Rick shakes his head. “I don’t really see--”

“They’re one of the most toxic creatures on the planet,” Michael says. “They’ve been known to send people into cardiac arrest within five minutes.”

At that, Rick stops. He blinks up at Michael, not sure what to say.

“And you know where they’re found?” Michael asks. “Most of the time, off the coast of Australia. A lot of the victims don’t even see it coming.”

Rick swallows hard, his heart fluttering in his chest. “Wait,” he says, starting to tremble now. “You think--?”

“I think,” Michael says, flat and plainly. “I want to know how you feel.

In light of this new information, Rick considers it. It still hurts -- a lot -- and he’s having a hard time getting his pulse to calm down. But with everything that’s happened, the adrenaline rush isn’t out of the question. It can all be explained by adrenaline -- the light headedness, the weight in his chest, the tingling in his leg.

“Rick?” Michael asks again.

Rick’s gaze skitters away to the jellyfish lying prone on the deck. “I…,” he starts but doesn’t know how to finish. He looks to Casey, who is cursing at Billy as he starts to sweat from the exertion. “I don’t…”

Michael’s calm facade wavers, and Rick sees a flash of something much more desperate. Shutting his mouth, Michael seems to lock his jaw, getting to his feet and making his way to the controls.

Rick’s breath catches, and he almost sobs. Billy’s still not breathing; Casey’s still not stopping and the tingling is turning to ice all the way up his leg and his lungs start to feel cold and hard. “Wait,” he calls, unable to control the keen of fear in his voice. “You’re actually saying--”

Michael has the engine running, and he spares a glance back. “Yeah,” he says. “I’m saying that Billy might not be the only one who needs a hospital.”

-o-

This mission has been complicated.

Hell, Rick thinks as he pulls in a ragged breath, it still is.

Because there are drug dealers and a heroin shipment and mercenaries and blown leads. There are near drownings and broken feet and unapproved operations that could get them all fired.

Michael’s at the controls, skimming them over the water too fast to be safe.

And there’s Casey, red in the face and dripping sweat, as he keeps doing CPR at a blistering pace.

There’s Billy, too, lying still and lifeless on the deck.

And Rick, struggling to breathe, propped up against the side of the boat, feeling the icy cold tendrils of shock move up his leg and tickle his heart. Each breath is harder than the last, and he can’t think, he can’t--

There’s a jellyfish, too.

The bastard.

It’s always a jellyfish. Something you don’t see coming. Something you can never predict. Something you can’t control.

Rick’s as good as he can be, and he’s always learning, and most of the time, he thinks that’s pretty good.

But it’s not good enough.

Casey falters, pausing to wipe his brow. Billy’s turning blue, and Michael won’t look back. Rick’s heart starts to seize, and he gasps with pain as he keels to the slide, slipping down until his cheek is pressed against the ground.

No one is perfect, he tells himself. No one can be perfect.

His lungs refuse to work and spots fill his vision.

Even when they have to be.

He’s shaking now as the numbness spreads over his chest and constricts his throat.

It’s not so complicated, then. Not really.

Suddenly, Billy convulses, making a deep, choking sound as Casey rolls him on his side. Water spews from his mouth and he gags, retching on more seawater as it spills on the deck. He’s alive.

It’s good timing, Rick thinks. Billy’s heart is beating.

Just when Rick’s stops.

His last thought is fleeting, fast and unforgiving.

But damn it all, he really should have seen this coming.

-o-

That’s it.

Rick Martinez survived countless dangerous missions as a spy; he’s saved lives. He’s a true hero, through and through.

And he dies from a jellyfish.

Admittedly, he’s a little disappointed about that.

Dying, and the whole jellyfish thing.

This sort of thing, though, it’s just complicated.

Because that’s it.

Except not quite.

-o-

There are moments, strange and mingled. One second, Rick can hear Michael yelling. Then Casey’s counting, fast and steady. There’s an electronic whine somewhere, and Billy mutters, “Come on, come on, come on.”

There are bright lights and the smell of bleach. He’s moved and rolled, and poked in places he’d rather not think about. Everything still hurts -- his leg, his head, his chest -- and he’s cold and flushed all at the same time. His body feels heavy, and moving on his own is simply not a consideration.

It seems like he’s sleeping, but for the life of him, he can’t think why.

For the life of him, he can’t wake up, either.

There’s a jellyfish, flying through the air, cackling with glee as it makes off with the stolen drugs. The thing leaves a trail of mercenaries and criminals in its wake, all the way out into the ocean’s sunset.

Things are complicated, sure, but they’re not that complicated.

Then he realizes: for the life of him.

And feels strangely lucky as he just sleeps on.

-o-

Until he wakes up, anyway.

Rick’s usually a morning person, but he’s sore and achy and despite the fact that he feels like he’s been asleep forever, he feels more tired than just about ever in his entire life.

And then he realizes he’s in a hospital.

And he’s not alone.

It takes him a good moment to recognize Michael, who is inexplicably seated at his bedside. The ODS’ so-called fearless leader gives him a friendly smile and wave. “Welcome back.”

“About time, too,” Casey mutters from the far wall, where he’s perched against a window sill. He’s flipping through a magazine. “It’s not like we don’t have a job to do.”

“To be fair,” Billy croaks with a thick accent. “This is mostly my fault.”

Rick sits up with sudden vigor.

Sure, it makes him dizzy and he wants to cry a little, but the overwhelming relief of seeing Billy alive and sitting in the next bed is pretty powerful stuff. “You’re okay!”

Billy, who looks somewhat worse for wear, smiles sheepishly. “No thanks to my failed fighting skills,” he says. “I hear I have you to thank.”

“And me,” Casey says crossly. “Unless you think anyone can perform nonstop CPR for five minutes.”

“I have already thanked you duly,” Billy says. “But poor Rick here just woke up.”

That’s the thing, then. Michael’s here and looking smug. Casey’s sitting and looking disinterested, and Billy’s waxing poetic.

Which doesn’t explain why Rick’s the one waking up, disoriented in a hospital bed.

He frowns a little. “Speaking of that,” he says. “Anyone want to fill me in?”

“Before or after you decided to tag with a jellyfish?” Casey asks.

Michael takes a breath and lets it out with a long-suffering smile. “What do you remember?”

“I remember the jellyfish,” Rick supplies with a terse look at Casey. He looks to Billy. “And I remember the CPR--”

Michael nods along. “You went down just as Casey got Billy back,” he says.

“You have good timing,” Billy commends him earnestly. “And respectable underwater retrieval skills. I’m sure that will come in useful again.”

Casey folds the magazine and glares at Rick. “You’re lucky I have the stamina I do,” he says. “Two rounds of CPR back to back? I won’t need to do an arms routine for a week.”

Michael almost rolls his eyes. “I radioed for medical support before we got back to shore,” he says. “They administered the anti-venom there and restarted your heart.”

Billy beams. “Just that easy!”

Rick gives him a look.

It seems like a lot of things, but it doesn’t seem easy.

With drug dealers and mercenaries and going against Higgins’ orders and underwater rescues and CPR and jellyfish.

He sighs. “Thank you,” he says finally with a solemn nod.

“Well, if I’m going to bother to save Billy, I’m going to bother to save you, too,” Casey says with a shrug.

“Such sentiment,” Billy says. “But worry not. We’d never let anything happen to you, our mission MVP.”

“That and Higgins would be really pissed if we lost you and the mission,” Michael says.

It might be easy to think they’re deflecting with humor, and let it go at that. It’s part of the ODS and how they operate. All just par for the course.

Except, there’s still something about this.

Rick compromised himself, and he compromised his mission and his team.

He knits his brows. “I’m serious, though,” he says. “I didn’t even see it coming.”

Michael raises his eyebrows. Casey inclines his head. Billy gives him an off kilter look with his eyebrow cocked.

“I should have paid more attention,” Rick continues.

“Are you forgetting the part where you saved my life?” Billy asked.

“Or the part where you noticed Billy was gone in the first place?” Casey asks.

Rick gestures in futility. “But we have to be better than this! I need to see all the variables; I need to predict the unpredictable--”

“Or maybe you’re just forgetting the part,” Michael interjects, “where it was a jellyfish.

“But that’s exactly the sort of thing you guys would see coming!” Rick says. “None of you have ever been stung by a jellyfish!”


“Right, because I plan all my missions with a jellyfish caveat,” Michael says.

“I can’t say that I’ve practiced my charm on sea life,” Billy says.

“Though now that you mention it, building a resistance to jellyfish venom might be a nice addition to my regimen,” Casey says.

“It’s not about the jellyfish,” Rick says. “It’s about my ability to do my job--”

This time, Michael does roll his eyes. “Martinez, please,” he says. “We’re trained to be good. And we work hard at it. But we’re not perfect. There are things we can’t predict or control.”

Rick’s cheeks burn, and he fidgets on the bed. “You mean like jellyfish?”

“We mean like jellyfish,” Michael agrees. “It’s not about seeing all the outcomes. It’s about knowing how to deal with those outcomes.”

“And I have to say, you did pretty damn good,” Casey says. “You got stung and still managed to bring Billy to the surface.”

“A fact which I greatly appreciate,” Billy says.

Rick looks to them each, swallowing hard. Partially because of the emotion. Partially because his tongue still feels a little swollen. “I just feel sort of stupid,” he admits.

“Well,” Michael says. “We did blow the mission.”

“In a most spectacular fashion,” Billy says.

“And if we go home like this, we’ll probably all be fired,” Casey says.

Rick’s stomach sinks. “If this is supposed to distract me from the jellyfish--”

“It’s supposed to remind you what matters,” Michael says. “We can still fix this.”

“Those bastards won’t get a drop on me a second time,” Casey promises. “Walking cast or not.”

“And I’d rather like not being kicked out of another country,” Billy says.

Rick nods, considering that. He can’t help but think about the possible ways to track the mercenaries, to recover the drugs, and make all the arrests.

“You’ve got an idea,” Michael realizes.

“Oh, I don’t know--” Rick starts.

“He’s got a bloody good idea!” Billy says.

Rick shakes his head. “I don’t--”

“You should tell us,” Casey says. “Unless you’d rather tell it to a jellyfish instead.”

Rick gives him a look. “It’s...just a little complicated, is all.”

Michael glances to Billy and Casey in turn. They all look at him. “We’re listening,” Michael says.

Rick swallows again, wetting his lips. It’s a little complicated, sure.

But with his team, he thinks he can probably figure it out.