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Chaos ficlet: The Measure of Success

July 16th, 2011 (08:50 am)
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Title:  The Measure of Success

Disclaimer:  Not mine.

A/N:  eviinsanemonkey  wanted Michael whump inspired by the lyrics from “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney, I believe.  I’ve posted the quoted lyrics below.  Also, no beta on this one so expect a few wayward typos.

Summary:  A successful mission is accomplishing the objective and getting his team out.


When you were young
And your heart was an open book

You used to say, "Live and let live"
(You know you did, you know you did, you know you did)
But if this ever-changing world in which we live in
Makes you give in and cry

Say live and let die


Michael has learned to measure success in unique ways.

It’s a successful day when the break room coffee pot hasn’t burned the caffeine brew beyond recognition.  It’s a better day when Billy can actually find the file he’s looking for in his mess of paperwork.  It’s a downright amazing day if Casey doesn’t try to injure someone (even better still if he hurts someone before they can hurt one of his team).  And it’s really about the best day ever when Rick learns something new--not about CIA procedure--but about how to stay alive in this game, both in the field and in the office.

A successful mission is accomplishing the objective and getting his team out.  The rest of the details are irrelevant.  It doesn’t matter what corners they have to cut or what orders they have to circumvent.  Breaking a few international laws is a non-issue and whether or not they make friends or enemies is really a secondary concern when the entire thing is said and done. 

A successful career is having more successful missions than failures.  It doesn’t matter if he’s still barely eeking out a living.  It’s not really important if he never moves up the CIA food chain.  He’ll take sitting at the same desk with the same uncomfortable chair.  It can cost him his free time and his sanity and his sense of normalcy and self.  It can even cost him his marriage, and as long as his missions pay off and his team stays alive, Michael counts it as a win.

It wasn’t always this way.  When he was younger, he wanted to do things right.  He thought the ends and means always had to be in order, as if one was just as important as the other.  But he’s seen too many people die, he’s seen too many missions cost more than they’re worth.  He’s given more than he has to lose and never taken enough back to make a difference.  This job changes people--this job has changed him--and Michael is a simple man now.

When he started, he wanted to save the world.

Now, all these years later, Michael just wants to save his team and finish the mission.  In that precise order.

So all things considered, this is still a successful mission.  The mark is secure; the intelligence is safe.  His team is on its way to safety, and all is well and that ends well.

The bullet in his side, the gash on his forehead--these are frivolous details.  The fact that he’s alone in the desert with no one coming from him is unfortunate but ultimately doesn’t change his assessment that this has been a successful mission.

As his consciousness ebbs, he still thinks about the way he’s changed.  He still thinks about the wide-eyed operative he once was.  He remembers marrying Fay and thinking maybe his priorities could change enough to make it work. 

But in the end, Michael’s a simple man.  Billy calls it paranoia; Michael calls it survival.  Live and let live is the best way to live; live and let die is successful all the same.

So it doesn’t bother him that he’s bleeding to death out here.  It doesn’t bother him that his body may or may not be recovered.  It doesn’t change the outcomes that matter, and that’s the only thing Michael’s concerned himself with all these years.

Success is success.

But when he hears the sound of an approaching car, when he sees his team pile out.  When Casey presses a hand into his side and Billy hoists him into his arms.  When Rick wets his lips and smiles and says, “It’s going to be okay.”

Michael shakes his head, as if in protest of it all.  “The mission was a success,” he tells them, his voice hoarse as Billy settles him in the back of the car.

Billy climbs into the driver’s seat and Casey checks the makeshift bandage once before settling himself in.  Rick perches next to him, a small smile on his lips.  “Now it is,” he says with a nod.

Somehow, despite everything he knows, this is one time Michael can’t actually disagree.


Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)

d'aw, I love the ending!
And, oh, Michael *hugs*
Love it!

(You're up!)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)

Too many of your prompts could be full on fics if I let them, so I'm glad this still worked in a truncated version.

(I sort of really want wee!Billy. Or at least preseries Billy.)

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)

*shifty eyes*

(hmm...I'll see what I can do)

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 02:33 pm (UTC)

kid billy! I wrote it kind of quick, so hopefully it's not too...odd...

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)

You had me worried for a minute! Very satisying fic.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 02:02 pm (UTC)

In general, I do prefer happy endings :)


Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)

OMG - wonderful. That is *so* Michael's voice, I can almost hear him saying all of it. Wonderfully done. More, please?

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)

I'm so glad it sounds like him! And LOL, I'm always open to prompts :)


Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
Vin with rifle

Okay - so where are you guys posting prompts? I've noticed (d'uh) mentions of them in several of the stories as of late . . .

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
billy content

It's just something eviinsanemonkey and I have been doing together for our own personal enjoyment. We take turns. I prompt her, she writes. She prompts me, I write. I'm not sure why but it's been fun :)

But yeah, I'm pretty easily influenced to write things, so if you have something you really want to see, I might be able to oblige :)

Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
Martin - sex

Ah, you gullible fool. *g*

Here you go: Billy and Casey, understanding what Michael doesn't say

Billy and Casey - Leaving Rick with Michael not be the best idea

Casey and Rick - why Michael and Billy work so well together

Rick - watching Michael and Faye

Faye - watching Michael, Billy, and Casey together, knowing why the marriage failed (even if Michael can't see it)

Faye and Casey - the lab's analysis of the perfume

Billy and Casey - what to do with the ripped skirt

Team - how to kill someone with a feather

Team - Rick's baseball

Team - Casey's static cling (after the electrical shock)

Team - Operative Blanke's thoughts on each of them

Team - Billy has laryngitis

There are a - a few; I'll see if I can come up with more *g* Feel free to share!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
billy likes

LOL. You certainly do have a nice variety of prompts there. I will see what I can do :)

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)

Oh, Michael. *huggles him softly*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 16th, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC)
billy watches

He really does need a hug even if he'd never admit it.


Posted by: Average Girl Extraordinaire (legsi003)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)

Awww! Very Micheal, love it!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 19th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
CHAOS team

I do love protective!Michael. Thanks!

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