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Chaos Fic: Plan B 2/5

December 16th, 2011 (08:34 am)
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Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five



In the ODS, things going slightly off course is really pretty much all part of the process. Michael has come to expect that; hell, there are some missions that he finds comfort in the inevitable miscues along the way.

This, however, is one hell of a miscue.

Most missions involve being betrayed by an asset or having someone up and kill their mark. There are paperwork snafus and procedural dilemmas. There are backup failings and interagency mishaps. It’s never clean or easy but it’s not this.

Of course, no matter how problematic this current situation is -- and it is problematic, Billy’s got his leg caught in a bear trap, of all things -- he thinks they can fix it.

Billy’s got on a brave face and Martinez is half on top of him. Casey’s at the trap, fingers ready to finagle the vice grip open and Michael has his fingers laced around Billy’s leg, ready to pull the second the prongs of the trap are wide enough to give it a go.

Casey can open this trap; Michael can pull the foot free. Rick can hold Billy down, and Billy can endure it.

It’ll hurt like hell, but he can endure. He can survive.

They all can.

Casey looks at him, and Michael nods. Casey’s jaw tightens and his face is clenched but he nods back, turning his attention back to the trap.

Rick leans forward and Billy tenses instinctively. Michael primes himself and waits as Casey leads them off.

“One,” Casey says, his fingers tightening on the trap, ready to pull. “Two--”

Michael knows there’s not going to be a three. It’s nothing Casey’s warned him about, but he knows Casey. The countdown is for Billy’s sake, but it’s clear that the man doesn’t intend on waiting even one more second to get them out of this situation.

So Michael’s ready when Casey moves, his entire face going pale before flushing red as he pries the two halves apart. The trap creaks but yields and as Casey gets some space, he moves his fingers precariously into the grooves to get more leverage.

Billy responds immediately, his entire body bucking even as Rick moves to squelch the movement. The first of Billy’s yells is cut off and surprised, but the ones after that are nothing short of agonized.

Michael forces himself to ignore the noise, and Casey’s face is strained with the effort as he continues to draw the two sides apart.

This is a dangerous game -- one Michael probably wouldn’t have okayed had he known in advance -- but there’s no time to doubt it now. The second the bloody prongs are clear of Billy’s leg, Michael is shifting, pulling back as carefully and as quickly as he can.

For a split second, it’s working.

And then Casey curses.

Billy writhes and Rick bears down but Michael can’t get Billy’s leg clear.

Casey curses again, and there’s something panicked in his tone. Michael’s so focused on Billy’s leg that he looks up in time just to see Casey’s face twist with pain, his entire body quivering before his hands slip and the trap snaps shut before Michael has the chance to do anything.

Billy’s cries are wrenching now, echoing off the trees. Then, suddenly, the cries are cut off and the tension leaves Billy’s body as he goes entirely limp on the ground.

There’s a long moment when nobody moves. The forest hums with eerie silence and Michael hears his own heart thudding in his ears as he tries to make sense of what happened.

He looks to Rick, who is still over Billy. Billy’s face is lax now, mouth hanging open as he breathes laboredly. Then he looks at Casey, who is staring at his hands, a blank look on his face.

There’s blood on his hands.

On the ground, Billy’s leg is still ensnared, fresh wounds with a growing patch of blood.

And Michael hesitates.

It’s not something he’s proud of -- usually he’s good under pressure, quick on his feet, no matter what the situation -- but it happens. With Billy unconscious, Rick shell-shocked, and Casey downright lost, Michael hopes it’s forgivable.

Forgivable but not practical.

His team needs him.

Swallowing, he focuses on Casey first. “You okay?” he asks.

Casey blinks, still looking at his hands. “It would have taken my fingers off,” he says.

Michael looks at the bloodstained hands, noting that they’re all intact, though clearly cut up.

“I would have let it,” he says. He looks up. “Fingers are easily reattached.”

This is as lost as Michael has seen Casey, and he understands what his teammate is saying. He would have given up anything to get Billy’s foot free. He would have but he couldn’t.

Logically, Michael knows this isn’t Casey’s fault. The amount of force Casey was working against was immense, even for someone like Casey. Casey’s not superhuman, even if he thinks he should be. Failure will happen.

And he thinks Casey can usually work with that.

But not at Billy’s expense.

“Extended nerve and muscle damage exposed for this period of time could lead to loss of function and sensation,” Casey reports, a little robotic. “The damage could be too much.”

Michael’s stomach roils, but he can’t let himself acknowledge it.

Behind him, Rick leans toward them. “But we have to get him out,” he says. “I mean, don’t we?”

It’s the only viable option. They could unearth the trap’s anchor, but moving through the woods with the trap attached isn’t a good solution. It’ll slow them down, and Michael knows they need to clean and treat the wound sooner rather than later.

Assuming it’s not too late, which Michael has to assume. At all costs.

He pulls himself together because someone has to. Rick looks too young and Casey looks too blank and Billy looks too close to death and this is Michael’s job. It’s his responsibility.

“We do,” Michael says, and the authority he finds in his voice is all instinct. “And we will.”

With that, he moves forward, taking Casey’s hands in his own. He looks, wiping the blood away. There are slices there, and they’re deep. “We’ll have to wrap these before we take off,” he says. Then he nods up toward Billy’s torso. “Can you switch places with me?”

Of all the things, it probably makes sense that this is what breaks through Casey’s shock. His eyes narrow, brow furrowed. “You can’t possibly think that you can open this,” he says plainly.

It’d be insulting coming from anyone other than Casey. But if anyone has a right to question his strength, it’s Casey, if only because the man has dedicated his entire life to enhancing his own. And Michael doesn’t have time to be insulted anyway. He sees his opening; he takes it.

Shrugging, Michael says, “With those hands, you’re going to need the reprieve.”

Casey snorts. “I can get it done.”

“No one thinks less of you--” Michael tries to say.

“I can get it done,” Casey interrupts him tersely.

Michael meets Casey’s eyes and holds his gaze. The blankness is gone now, and the intensity in its place is almost frightening. It’s the gleam before he takes on an enemy combatant. The look of sheer determination when the odds are stacked against them and Casey’s about to go in anyway.

It’s a look that has always led to success.

A look Michael has trusted with his life.

A look Michael will have to trust Billy's life to now.

Nodding, Michael eases back. “Okay,” he says, giving Casey a resolute nod. “Then let’s do it.”

As he moves back to Billy’s leg, Michael tries not to see. Tries not to see Martinez’s wet eyes as he moves back toward Billy’s head. Tries not to see the small tremors in Casey’s hands as he feels the trap experimentally again. Tries not to see the torn flesh of Billy’s leg through the shredded fabric of his pants.

Tries not to see anything but success as they start again.


Somehow, when Rick signed up for the CIA, he’d envisioned very particular situations of peril and espionage. He’d had fantasies of working behind enemy lines, adopting deep cover when the stakes were highest and pulling out missions in the face of insurmountable odds.

Lies and uncover work, kidnapping and duplicity.

Hero’s work, that’s what Billy had called it. And Rick had believed him. Still does, except that this isn’t what he thinks it should look like.

Because Rick can make sense of the woods and the incapacitated smugglers. He understands the intel in Michael’s bag and their furtive rush toward escape. He can understand the strain of the journey in his lungs, the pounding of his heart in his ears--

But the rest. The rest isn’t what he thought it’d be. Because there are heroics and then there’s this.

Billy’s limp on the forest floor now, arms splayed unmoving. His chest is rising and falling shallowly, slight wheezes accentuating each one as if to suggest the pain Billy’s feeling, even in unconsciousness.

And he is in pain. Rick doesn’t know how he couldn’t be. His leg is a mess -- more so now than before. The blood is spreading rapidly now, soaking his lower pant leg and staining his sock. It’s smeared on the forest floor, surreal red smudges amongst the browns and greens.

It’s a lot to take in; too much. Feeling the anxiety building within him, Rick redirects his attentions as best he can, looking back at Billy’s face.

In theory, he hopes that by not looking at Billy’s leg, he’ll be able to control the gnawing fear in his stomach. But as he looks at Billy’s ashen, slack features, it’s hardly an improvement.

The bloody leg is frightening, but Rick has to admit, seeing Billy’s usually animated face so dim is almost more so. Billy’s always in motion -- has been since the moment Rick stepped into the ODS office -- and now he’s just...not.

In unconsciousness, Billy looks drawn and tired. His years show in the lines around his eyes, the deep set of his cheeks. The scruff on his chin usually makes him look dashing, but the stark contrast to his gray skin just make him look haggard now.

Repositioning himself, Rick frowns at the small smear of blood at the edge of Billy’s mouth. At first, Rick worries the injuries are even worse than he thought, but as he leans forward and opens Billy’s mouth, he realizes that in his thrashing, Billy has bitten his tongue.

The bite is a minor injury, but it still bothers Rick. Everything bothers Rick. It bothers him that they’re still two hours from civilization. It bothers him that he doesn’t know if the smugglers are alive or dead. It bothers him that Billy’s hurt and Rick doesn’t know how to help, doesn’t know anything at all.

“Okay,” Casey says, jarring Rick from his thoughts. The older operative is down at Billy’s foot again, eyes trained on the trap. “I think if I get better leverage, bear down more from the top -- I should be able to hold it open long enough.”

This sounds ridiculous to Rick because he can see the blood on Casey’s hands, even through the fabric he’s wrapped hastily over the slashes. It’s not clear to Rick why a second attempt will be any more successful than the first, but he also doesn’t have the ability to doubt it right now.

There’s really no other option, after all. They get the trap off or they’re screwed.

Instead, Rick nods intently.

Casey looks at Michael. “Pull faster. Even if you cause more damage, it’s nowhere near the damage we’ll be looking at if the trap clamps down again,” he says.

Michael nods.

Casey looks to Rick next, and his gaze is so intense that Rick almost has to look away from the sheer weight of it. “You’ll need to hold him down,” Casey orders.

Rick stares at him.

“Billy’s unconsciousness may help us somewhat, but the kind of pain we’re talking about isn’t going to be contained by it,” Casey explains. “He’s just not going to be able to control it at all, so we’ll need you to put more pressure on this time. Sit on him if you have to; anything to keep him still long enough for Michael to get the job done.”

Rick’s not sure what bothers him more -- the idea of sitting on someone who has already been hurt so much or the notion that Billy’s pain is strong enough to eclipse even the refuge of unconsciousness.

Michael turns his head to look at Rick, too. “Can you do this?” he asks. “Because we need you focused. Now more than ever.”

They need him. Billy needs him.

Rick’s eyes glance down to Billy, the pale, lifeless face.

He swallows with effort and looks back up, nodding as best he can. “I can do this,” he says. “I’m ready.”

It’s the right reassurance, but Michael and Casey only look wearier with the affirmation. This is the best they can do, though, and Rick hopes it’s enough.

Rick hopes, but he doesn’t know. Because he’s trained for everything, but he hasn’t trained for this. He has no background to help him watch someone he cares about suffer, to have so much that needs to be done and to be so impotent to do anything. He’s trained for action, but the only thing he can do now is sit and hold Billy down, hold him still to endure more pain.

This is the reality, though. This is what heroes work is, sometimes. Uselessness and blood, pain and the impending sense of failure. These bleak things and the courage to face them anyway.

That’s what he needs, and that’s what he has to find again. Courage.

In the back of his mind, Rick can still hear Billy outside the restaurant in Boston, asking how scared he is. Billy’s the one that grounded Rick that night, who pulled him back from the uncertainty in his mind. Rick wants to return the favor, but the question is more pressing than ever.

On a scale of one to ten, how would Rick rate his fear?

Before Rick can answer that question, before he can quantify it at all, Casey says, “Okay, no holding back.”

Michael shifts, fingers tightening. Casey’s face goes blank with concentration and he braces himself. “Okay,” Casey says again, taking one last breath. “One, two...”

And Rick doesn’t have time to think as Casey says three and Rick repositions himself, bearing down hard as Billy’s body comes to life in pain once more.


It’s simple. Position himself firmly on the ground. Get a firm grip on the two sides of the trap. Pull apart, creating a wide enough gap to gain a better grasp. Work quickly and efficiently to further pry open the two sides while maintaining proper positioning and minimizing the risk of slipping. Cuts to the skin are likely but inconsequential as long as the two sides are kept from snapping shut suddenly. That that happens, this time Casey will not let Billy’s leg bear the brunt, even at the expense of his own fingers.

But that point is negligible because Casey will not allow that to happen. His position is better, his grip is more secure, and his tenacity is unparalleled. It’s not a question of whether he can; it’s a mere fact that he will.

This is all Casey allows himself to think about. It is the only relevant fact. The rest -- Michael’s blind trust, Rick’s terrified hope, Billy’s bloody leg -- they are tangential and distracting. He can’t afford to dwell on them. They can only make him sentimental, and that is a weakness Casey cannot afford right now.

More than that, it’s a weakness none of them can afford.

Casey’s had enough weakness. Casey’s had enough failure. Now there’s nothing left, no other options; his focus zeroes in, the rest of the world zones out.

“Okay,” he says, taking one last breath, pushing the last of the distractions away and tunneling his vision until all he can see is the trap -- not the blood, not his own shredded fingers, not Billy’s mutilated leg -- just the trap. Just the task at hand. “One, two...”

Whether he says three or not, he’s not sure. It’s irrelevant anyway. Casey needs all of his focus to bear down. The first pull is the hardest and it’s improbable that his will fingers keep their traction but with Casey’s willpower, the rusted trap yields to his pressure.

Casey feels it as the prongs slip free of the flesh but he doesn’t let himself fixate on the blood that wells faster in their wakes. Instead, he grits his teeth, summoning his self-control and stamina to wrench the trap even more. It gives an inch but then sticks, the rusted device catching with its age.

It’s progress, but it’s not enough. Michael has no room to pull the leg out.

There’s a sudden tremor through Billy’s body, and Billy’s leg jerks just slightly in front of him. Out of the corner of his vision, Casey sees Rick reposition himself, ready to move on top of Billy if necessary.

It will be necessary. Michael is trying to pull and Billy’s body starts to buck in earnest as an unconscious cry of pain is emitted, high pitched and wailing, through the forest.

And Casey’s fingers quiver. The trap hovers. His strength feels expended; it’s going to be too much. The metal cuts through fabric and skin, and the old blood mixes with new.

Billy writhes and Rick’s on top of him now but it doesn’t do much good.

Nothing will do much good until Casey gets the trap open.

Casey has to do it.

With that determination, Casey doesn’t let himself think. He doesn’t blink, doesn’t flinch, doesn’t breathe. He sees the trap -- that’s all there is, that’s all that matters -- and he imagines it opening. He can see it in his mind.

Mind over matter. Belief can be a weakness but only in the mind of those of a poor disposition. In the mind of one with the right facilities and the grit and the determination, it can make all the difference.

It will make a difference now.

And Casey’s consciousness splits. He exists outside his own body, his spirit disconnected from his brain. The actual act is beyond him; all he knows is the intention to succeed. For his team. For Billy.

The trap gives. The two sides open and as Billy sobs Rick holds down and Michael pulls without hesitation as Casey holds steady.

Then, it’s over.

Billy’s leg is free and Casey pulls his fingers away as the trap snaps shut with frightening voracity, clanging in the still forest as it settles with one last act of impotent defiance on the ground.

For a second, that’s all Casey can see. The metal trap, stained with blood, discarded on the forest floor. It’s clamped shut now, its rusted exterior too worn to be used again, for its intended purpose or others.

It’s over.

Casey blinks and he comes back to himself entirely.

Looking up, Rick is stumbling off Billy as Michael is ripping the shredded jeans away. Moving forward, Casey surveys the scene. “How is he?” he asks.

Michael’s face is flushed with exertion, and when he speaks, the emotion is barely at bay, contained only by the pressing need to fix this. “We’ll want to clean it and wrap it quickly,” he says. “Can you--?”

Michael doesn’t have to ask; Casey is already digging through the pack, looking for the water. His hands stain everything red and he distantly thinks about tending his own wounds, but it's not the priority. The gouges on his fingers are painful and messy, but they're superficial. In short, he'll heal; he has no such guarantee for Billy. Finding the water, he pulls it out, turning back to Michael and holding it out.

With the trap out of the way, the damage is clear. Billy’s leg is a mess. The flesh is torn in equal intervals, burning red with angry flesh and blood. The first set is somewhat deeper than the second, and the two sets nearly encompass Billy’s leg.

Michael accepts the water without a word. He's not normally the field medic of the group, but he certainly is a capable one when the need arises. It's against Casey's instincts to give Michael this control, but with his own bleeding, he's just not the best man for the job right now. Casey likes to be in control, but he's also realistic.

Still, watching isn't easy, and he feels anxious as Michael pours the water carefully but liberally, using his fingers to clear away any sediment in the wounds. In this, they both get a better look at the severity of the wounds, and Casey's stomach clenches.

The mars are deep. The second set has easily ripped through skin and muscle, and in the first, Casey can see the hint of white bone underneath.

While that fact is daunting, Casey knows it’s not actually their biggest problem right now. No matter how much water Michael uses -- and even if they had some type of antiseptic -- the corroded metal of the trap has had far too much time to work its way into Billy’s system. Closing the wounds up quickly may keep additional contagions out, but the worst damage is already done.

He doesn’t let himself dwell on it. If he does, he’ll be useless and he can’t be useless now. Not when Billy needs him the most to be at 100 percent.

Instead, he accepts the water back from Michael, trading it for the ripped swaths of fabric they prepared before removing the trap. They'd salvaged them from some of the extra clothes in the pack, and Casey knows they're not perfect, but they're better than nothing.

With due efficiently that makes Casey proud, Michael bandages the wound. He makes the bandage as tight as he can, and Casey can only hope it both controls the bleeding and prevents further contamination. When he’s done, Michael feels carefully down Billy’s ankle and foot. They’d taken off Billy’s shoe for the first attempt and now Michael pulls down the sock and feels for the pulse.

Michael's face is taut, and Casey can see him counting the beats, which means there is a pulse, but given Michael's concentration, Casey knows it's weaker than it should be. From a distance, Casey can see that the coloration is still decent, though: not great, but it could be worse. As it is, Michael puts the sock back on and sits back on his haunches.

Michael looks positively haggard. He sighs, eyes still on Billy, wiping his bloody hands on his pants. His face is deep set with worry and though his expression is composed, he’s really anything but.

Rick’s even worse because the kid can’t hide it. He’s eased off Billy, but still hovering with one hand pressing on Billy’s shoulder. His eyes are clearly wet but he seems to be keeping it together, which is as much as Casey can ask for at the moment.

And then there’s Billy. The Scot is trembling, even as his eyes are closed. Occasionally, his body twitches as small moans escape his mouth. His face is colorless and glistening with sweat. Each breath seems to be a trial, even as they come fast and shallow.

In all, it’s less than ideal. And that’s without considering the two hour hike they have ahead of them.

Swallowing, Casey has to dig deep to find what’s left of his strength because he realizes with grim certainty that it’s nowhere close to over yet.


Over the years, Billy has become accustomed to waking up in any variety situations. He has a habit of falling asleep in strange places at home, often sprawled with a book on the couch or a chair, once inexplicably on the coffee table. On missions, this might mean in a foreign motel room or pressed up in close quarters against one of his teammates while camping.

And of course, sometimes this means less than ideal situations. Being doused with water for a torture session, coming to after being slapped around in the line of duty. Once, being stripped down to his knickers while finding himself tied to a bed in what remains the most perplexing and invigorating missions the ODS has ever undertaken.

And Billy has met all these situations with a grin and quip. Billy takes pride in such things, and really, the more unusual the situation, the better story it makes during long stakeouts or celebratory drinking sessions.

At least, that’s what Billy has always believed.

Until he wakes up in the Canadian forest with his leg trapped excruciatingly in a rusted bear trap.

Of course, this logical thought is long in coming because when he first comes to, all he is aware of is pain.

Everything hurts. Every breath, every movement, ever minute fiber of his being. It’s a constant, persistent, defiant agony. It’s in the air, on the ground, running through his blood.

It’s all so unpleasant that Billy would rather not wake up at all. He’s not one who believes that ignorance is bliss, but his current situation is quite certainly powerful evidence to the contrary. And just this once, he thinks no one would begrudge him a slight shirking of responsibility.

Billy, however, does not have that kind of luck. He has the kind of luck that keeps him from ultimate peril but always tangles him straight up with near misses, and he may be able to skip out of Agency necessities by sheer force of chance but when it’s a tossup between passing to sweet oblivion and facing the cruel world, Billy’s luck always runs south.

Consequently, it’s the voices that do him in.

Not the kind in his head -- because those are all yelling to go back to sleep, in Welsh, no less -- but the kind just over his head.


“Billy,” someone is saying. “Billy.”

The voice sounds a bit ethereal through the pain, but Billy doesn’t have to hear the nuances of the tone to recognize Michael all the same.

He’s the kind of selfishly unrepentant bastard who would insist upon Billy waking up while facing unimaginable agony.

And Billy’s just the kind of person who would feel obliged to obey.

Which is why his eyes are already open, blinking blindly for a moment.

At first, there’s only light. Then, as the pain settles into something that Billy pretends is manageable, shapes are discernible. Shapes and faces. Shadows amongst the light, bobbing and hovering and looking positively grim.

With difficulty, Billy manages to swallow, although he finds the action tenuous to his uncertain stomach.

“That’s it,” Michael coaxes, because Michael is good at that sort of thing, not like Billy is but still in a way that Billy finds impossible to resist. Because Michael says things plainly, not ordering, but like he expects it. Like it’s the most natural thing in the world and who is Billy to fight that sort of thing?

Billy doesn’t have an answer to such manner of internal rhetorical questions; what he does have is an ascending consciousness and a new bout of pain to contend with.

This time, he hears his own whimper and scrunches his face in embarrassed distaste.

“You think he’s okay?” another voice asks, and it’s easy to trace that kind of boyish uncertainty to young Rick.

“It’s hard to say,” Casey says. “Without his mouth moving, it’s impossible to assess.”

Casey says this as an insult, and this might bother Billy were he not already in so much pain. Swallowing again, Billy tries to control his breathing and dampen the pain. When he opens his mouth, he’s not sure what will come out, so he’s somewhat relieved to find his voice still works. “Sticks and stones, mate,” he says, trying to focus in on Casey’s face even though it takes more energy than it should. “Seems superfluous to add insult to injury, even for you.”

The quip is clever enough, even if his voice is strained and tired, leaving much of the delivery to be desired. The few words make him feel spent and in retrospect, he considers that maybe holding his tongue would have been more prudent.

But entirely less appropriate, because the looks on his teammates faces soften just enough to make the exertion entirely worthwhile.

“I simply have no other baseline to assess your well being,” Casey counters. “As long as you’re talking, the world is how it should be.”

“Ah, well,” Billy says, panting through the pain. “If the sound of my voice provides you such comfort, I can’t deny you that.”

Casey snorts but doesn’t disagree.

Michael leans in. “How do you feel?”

It seems like something of a silly question -- really, fairly below Michael, if Billy’s honest. But, given the situation, Billy’s not quite up to par himself, so he supposes that he can forgive Michael such a silly lapse.

Besides, as Billy takes another breath and shudders, he realizes that it’s not such a straightforward question after all. Because he feels entirely horrific, when it gets right down the point. The pain, though he has it controlled, is vast and expansive, threatening his composure with every breath Billy manages to eke out. And it is an eking process, because his strength is depleted, his entire body heavy with the sensation of agony that radiates from his leg. It clouds the edges of his vision and clouds his mind and, if he’s quite honest, he’s not entirely sure he has the ability to move anything more than his mouth, and even that seems more and more of a struggle.

That’s a rather wordy assessment, and Billy is usually one for verbose displays, but he thinks if ever there’s been a time for economy, this is it.

He tries to give a wan smile as he says, “Not great. Though I’m sure it could be worse.”

Rick actually scoffs at that.

Billy looks at him, a little apologetic. “In these circumstances, I suggest we not tempt fate by assuming the worst has passed,” he advises, though for once he can’t actually blame the lad for thinking contrarily.

Casey lifts an eyebrow. “The eternal optimist has had a change of heart?”

Billy chuckles breathlessly. “The change is in the leg; the heart has no choice but to follow.”

Michael pats his shoulder. “Well, we’re working on that,” he says.

Billy’s senses are acute but his brain is still a step behind. Still, in the pain, he somehow thinks to look at the source of it all. It’s no easy task, although he only turns his head marginally, and keeping his head up long enough for his brain to make sense of the sight threatens his very consciousness.

Then, he understands.

“It wasn’t easy,” Casey tells him, and the admission is worth noting from the likes of the human weapon.

“But now we can get you out of here,” Rick says, sounding positively relieved.

Which all makes a certain sense when he fully acknowledges that the trap is off. He can see it, discarded on the ground near his foot, jaws clenched shut on nothing this time.

This is relatively good news. It would be better if his leg actually felt the better for it.

As it is, his leg actually feels worse. It feels wooden and useless, not clamped by metal but hindered by sheer agony alone. His entire ankle is wrapped in fabric, a makeshift bandage of flannel that extends up his shin. The bloody fabric of his jeans is flayed, loose and wet around it. The sensations are so strong and unrelenting that Billy doesn’t realize he’s half in his stocking feet until he looks.

In all, Billy’s not entirely certain if he’s relieved or unnerved by all this. Truthfully, Billy’s not entirely sure of anything, what with the nausea swelling and the dizziness surging with a wave of intensity that Billy has thoroughly failed to anticipate.

Then, he’s looking at the leaves again and his team is a parade of shadows against the light.

“Billy?” Michael asks. “Billy.”

He’s using that tone again, the one Billy has a hard time saying no to, but even when his mind says yes, the rest of him seems intent on rebellion.

“What’s wrong?” Rick asks, and there are ample jokes for a reply but they’re lost between the synapses of his brain.

“The pain,” Casey says. “It’s too much.”

This sounds like rubbish until Billy is reminded that it’s very much the case. Because there is pain. There is pain in every thing he does, underlining every thought. Just pain, real, vibrant, and terrifying.

“Billy, can you hear me?”

It’s just a voice now, no faces, no shadows. Things are fading quickly, dwindling. He’s dwindling as the pain rises.

And he wants to answer; more than that, he wants to hold on. But spirit only accounts for so much and the pain counts for so much more and he has to focus on breathing through it all, breathing through the hurt, breathing and breathing until there’s nothing left for him at all.


Michael knows it’s a good thing that Billy’s unconscious. With no head injury to worry about, consciousness isn’t an indication of stability and while it could help indicate when Billy’s blood volume is too low, it’s fairly clear that the pain is too severe for such an indicator to be reliable anyway.

Besides, unconsciousness will make the next steps easier for all of them. Billy’s compliant enough when Michael sets out his plans, but extreme pain can bend the will in ways Michael would rather not see at the moment. And really, if Billy’s unconscious, then he’s not left grappling with the pain.

Which, given the nature of Billy’s injury, really is a blessing. Michael wouldn’t wish that kind of agony on his enemies, much less those he cares about.

So Michael knows it’s a good thing, but even that steadfast knowledge does nothing to ease the growing pit of unease in his stomach. It’s somewhat irrational, but hard to avoid. After all, Billy looks sickly, his colorless skin worn around his eyes and mouth, his too-still body splayed on the ground. It looks wrong all around, and every second Michael has to see his friend like this is another minute of his own private agony.

He could dwell on it, if he let himself.

Which is why Michael won’t let himself. Dwelling won’t get them out of there. Dwelling won’t make Billy better. Dwelling won’t do anything. Dwelling isn’t an option.

There’s a long moment, though, when none of them move. They’re all watching Billy, afraid of what comes next. Michael knows he has to speak, has to act, but he’s not sure how.

He wouldn’t admit it but inside, he’s terrified.

Rick looks at him first, wide-eyed and hopeful. The kid still thinks he’s fearless.

Casey’s not far behind. Casey knows better than to think such foolish things, but he also knows that fear isn’t something Michael gives into.


“So,” Casey says, still kneeling next to Billy’s bandaged leg. “You said something about a plan B.”

Plan A had been simple: shake the smugglers in the woods, run to open ground, secure transport, get the hell out.

Plan B isn’t that much different in its objectives but in execution, it’s going to require some finesse.

And Michael’s mind is working again. They’ve already neutralized their combatants and stabilized Billy as best they can. Now it’s time to move.

Running through the woods is a simple and efficient escape route, but only when all members of the party are able. At this point, running’s out, which means Michael will have to get creative.

“We’ll need to make a stretcher,” he says aloud before the idea has fully crystallized in his mind.

“It’ll take too long,” Casey counters. “I can carry him.”

Michael looks at Casey. He doesn’t doubt Casey’s intentions or his capabilities, but he has reservations about his practicality. Casey sees this as a personal failure. It’s not, of course, because he didn’t set the trap and he didn’t lead Billy into it. But Casey, for all his logic and rationale, is stupid about these things, which is why Michael’s team leader.

He shakes his head. “No, it’s too far,” he says.

Casey opens his mouth to protest.

Michael holds his gaze steady, effectively staunching the argument before Casey can mount it. “There’s no guarantee we won’t run into any other unfriendlies on our way back,” he explains. “And a stretcher will minimize any jostling, keep Billy out of pain a little bit better.”

Throwing in Billy’s suffering will ensure no further argument. It’s something of a low blow, but time is of the essence for all of them and Michael doesn’t have time to beat around the bush.

Casey’s jaw works, but that’s the only outward sign he gives of his emotions. It’s enough, though, especially since Michael has bigger issues to deal with.

Namely, getting them out.

His mind refocuses on that fact, everything else falling away.

Turning to Rick, he’s entirely to the point. “I’m going to need your help,” he says.

Rick nods readily, still a bit like a deer in the headlights, but at least he’s responsive. Michael can work with that. He will work with that.

“We’ll need to find any extra clothes we have in our packs to make the bed,” he says. Then he looks out to the woods. “And two long, sturdy sticks, about the same size to make the poles to carry him.”

His mind is working with this, going over the logistics, the necessities. He has the construction in mind -- he’s made them before, once in Cambodia, another time in Chile -- and he knows what they’ll need to anchor the fabric and carry the load. It’s a question of tying off the fabric and having sticks strong enough and comparable enough to get the job done.

This is the process, stripped bare of emotion and personalization. It’s a straightforward series of steps -- one, two, three, four -- that must be followed in order to find ultimate success. Michael likes to think of it like that -- a cold, impersonal task -- and not what it is.

Because if Michael lets himself think like that -- if he thinks about carrying Billy out because he’s too weak to do it himself, if he thinks about dragging Billy out of the woods while he fights for his life -- it’s too much.

It’s too much.

Swallowing hard, Michael steels himself. Rick’s still watching him, intent and worried. Purposefully, Michael holds his eye line. “I want you to go through our packs,” he says. “We didn’t come prepped for a full on emergency, but we should have enough spare clothing to make the base of the stretcher. Find it and rip it if you have to to get it ready.”

Rick nods.

Michael turns to Casey. “I want you to stay with Billy,” he says. “Watch him to make sure his condition is holding steady. If he tries to wake up, keep him still at all costs. We don’t need him to exacerbate his injuries any more than we’re going to have to as it is.”

Casey snorts a little but doesn’t disagree.

"And take a minute to clean yourself up," Michael adds, nodding to Casey's bloody hands. "I'm going to need you on the way back."

Casey looks down, as if he'd forgotten. "It won't be a problem."

It seems somewhat ludicrous, but Michael know Casey well enough not to doubt it.

Instead, Michael takes another breath, finding strength in the solidarity of his team. “I’ll find the poles,” he says, reaching for his pack and digging through it. He produces a knife. “We may have to cut a branch down or at least strip the sides.”

Casey nods; Rick seems to hesitate.

“Something wrong, Martinez?” Michael asks.

Rick’s eyes flicker to Billy, who is still on the ground. He’s unconscious, but the wheeze in his breath suggest the pain he can’t express. “Is this going to work?” he asks. “Can we call for backup?”

In any other situation, Michael might ream Rick out for his doubts, for his lapse in the chain of command. But Rick’s not being defiant; he’s terrified. Michael can understand that much. More than that, he can sympathize with it. If he wasn’t team leader, if this wasn’t his responsibility--

But it is.

And that’s the simple fact that determines the rest.

Mouth tight, Michael inclines his head. “If you can get a signal out this far, be my guest,” he says. “But even if we did get a call out, we’re too remote for any kind of pickup, especially if we want to keep a low profile and get our intelligence out without causing any more problems.”

This is all true, of course, but the certainty in Michael’s voice is rote. It’s spoken with a confidence he doesn’t feel.

Rick believes it anyway. Taking a breath, he closes his eyes and nods. Looking up again, Rick says, “Yeah, yeah. I guess we better hurry then.”

That’s all Martinez needs as he picks up his own pack and unzips it. Casey looks at Michael keenly for another moment, and the message is implicit. It’s one of solidarity, but it’s also one with warning. They have a plan and it’s the only plan that might work, but they still have to hurry. For Billy’s sake.

Michael lets his eyes linger on the Scot for one last moment. The other man whimpers a little, face contorting even in unconsciousness as he labors.

It’s the motivation Michael needs to get back to his feet and head out into the forest. He doesn’t have to go far to start mentally sorting through the sticks on the ground, ruling out ones that are too big or too small, too short or too long. He needs something that will hold Billy’s weight but not so heavy that they won’t be able to carry easily. The rest of their trek is by no means a cakewalk, after all, and Michael needs to create a stretcher that is easy enough to carry so they can keep up a good pace.

He picks up a stick, considering it. It’s too light. The core will snap.

Throwing it aside, he steps a little farther out, eyeing another branch and wondering if he can cut it down to size to make it work.

Gripping his knife, he leans over and starts to saw.

It feels good to be doing things. It feels good to be making progress. It helps him focus on the right things. Helps him forget the wrong things.

And yet, nothing can help him let it go entirely. Michael is always fully invested in his missions, but this is different. It’s always different in situations like this. Michael does his best work when he’s done his worst work, it seems. He knows that Rick remembers him running miles in the middle of the night to find a doctor to save his life; he knows that means a lot to Rick. But all Michael remembers is coming up with a plan that got his man shot and crashing the car that nearly left him to bleed out.

Michael also know Casey begrudgingly recalls the mission to Sudan where Michael sucked the venom of a snake out of Casey’s leg in the field, keeping Casey alive until they reached a hospital where an antivenin could be administered.

He doesn’t talk about how Michael came up with the plan that led them through the wilderness and how they’d been running so fast from the ambush Michael hadn’t seen coming to avoid stepping right on the snake’s den.

Billy likes to tell the story about Laos and how he’d almost suffocated in a sealed vault before Michael came sweeping in for a rescue, just in the nick of time.

In his colorful rendition, Billy glosses over the part where it was Michael’s intel that had gotten Billy captured, gotten him stranded, and left Billy not breathing when it was over. He never tells the part about CPR or the hospital stay or how Billy probably doesn’t even remember it at all because of the severe oxygen deprivation.

And none of them talk about Simms at all, as if somehow silence changes the fact that Michael left him behind.

There are the risks of being a leader, Michael knows.

He has to make the successes just as much as he makes the failures. His team might forgive him for this -- he knows they probably already have. But Michael can still hear Billy’s cry, still feel the pain he can’t escape -- and Michael knows that none of it will matter because Michael won't forgive himself. If he doesn’t get Billy out of here alive...

Gritting his teeth, the branch finally snaps, a large portion breaking off. Picking it up, Michael weighs it in consideration. It’s a little heavier than he’d like, but it’ll do.

With one down, Michael keeps moving, looking for the next. He has to trek farther this time, fanning out through the trees and when he finds the second piece, he’s out of his team’s eye line. And as he starts to cut, he feels his control waver.

Michael is good with facades. They all are; that’s why they’re spies. More than that, though, Michael is good at leading. He’s good at making people believe what he wants them to believe, do what he needs them to do. Billy’s the charmer and Casey can intimidate people into submission but Michael knows his plain approach to missions invokes loyalty of the highest kind.

His team will follow him anywhere.

They have, and they risk their lives for him. It’s a weight Michael doesn’t take lightly, but right now, it could crush him.

Fay divorced him for being too controlling but she never realized that was how Michael showed love and concern. What she had called unreasonable had been his way of expressing how much he valued her. It’s a distinction he’s never had to explain to his team, but their implicit trust just makes it harder.

Three years ago, he left Carson Simms behind and the team never really recovered. It’s the kind of story that reminds Michael that it’s not always enough.

Sometimes, he’s not good enough.

When he ran to get Rick help in South America, he could have been too late. The kid could have bled out in a van, with Billy at his side and Casey singing songs. That could have been he end.

Michael has not allowed himself to say it, but Billy could die out here. The wound is bad, worse than any of them is admitting. The blood loss will be substantial over the next few hours and the extent of the infection is already a given. None of them has felt for a fever, but it’s just a matter of time.

Michael’s sparse medical training and his extensive practical experience tell him that they’re likely to get Billy out of these woods alive, but he’s not likely to survive after that. Two hours is a long time. By the time they get Billy to help, it may simply be too late.

Michael may be too late. Michael may fail.

The futility is overwhelming. As he cuts the second branch, Michael’s eyes blur uncontrollably.

The emotions surge and Michael feels his chest constrict. He holds his breath until the branch comes lose and then he exhales forcefully, breathing heavily for a moment.

The oxygen is cleansing. It helps him gather his senses.

Michael may be too late -- but he’s not yet. He may fail -- but he hasn’t yet.

His team deserves a chance. Billy deserves a chance. And that means Michael has to keep it together -- for them.

For them.

Resolved, Michael swallows, pushing the emotions back. Pocketing his knife, he picks up both branches and heads back to his team.


Building the stretcher is hard. Layering the fabric so it is spread evenly down the length of the poles is the first task, and Rick has to get creative with what little he has. Casey and Michael give up their jackets for the task, which helps give the structure the extra strength it will need to carry a load, but even then, the entire thing is piecemeal. And that doesn’t even touch on how difficult it is to secure the fabric around the poles, fashioning ties that will keep the entire device together.

Still with all this, somehow putting Billy on it is even harder. The Scotsman is still unconscious when they make the transfer, which should make it easier in theory. Rick can only imagine the commentary they’d be subjected to if he were conscious, not to mention the inevitable reactions made in pain that would slow them down.

In this, it should be easier, but as Rick takes hold of Billy’s torso under his armpits and lifts him just off the ground, it’s the hardest thing yet. Because Billy is limp under his ministrations, eyes darting beneath his eyelids as Casey carefully hoists his legs off the ground at his knees. He moans as they move him the short distance to the stretcher, where Michael is waiting, helping them guide his pliant body onto the makeshift surface.

The entire thing takes no more than thirty seconds but when they’re done, Rick feels spent and exhausted. His body feels heavy and his head aches as he swallows hard and looks down at Billy.

He’s probably no worse, Rick knows logically, but he’s also no better. Billy moans and mutters but still hasn’t woken.

“With any luck, he’ll stay asleep for this next haul,” Michael says, and he’s right, but somehow none of them believe it.

“We better get going,” Casey says. He straightens and looks out through the trees in the general direction of their exit. “The last part of this hike isn’t exactly easy, and we need to make good time.”

Everyone looks at Billy but no one says the obvious.

They have to make good time or they may be too late. Rick’s no doctor, but he aced first aid courses. More than that, he has common sense. The wound is not inherently life threatening -- at least, not at first blush. The gouges are deep and undoubtedly painful, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve nicked anything vital.

There’s more to it than that, though. Blood loss is a significant issue, though Rick suspects it’s not the most pressing one. Because blood can be replenished and skin can be stitched but fighting off infection is a much harder prospect. And given what caused the wound and the prolonged exposure and the delay of treatment, Rick knows that they can’t actually hurry fast enough.

Rick nods. He’s never been one to shy away from a task, and the over-the-top heroics of the ODS have become second nature to him. Besides, if he’s going to keep it together, he needs to do something productive.

Something like saving Billy’s life.

Something like picking up a damn stretcher and starting to walk.

Bending down, he hefts up the end of the stretcher near Billy’s head. The Scotsman grunts, shifting slightly, but doesn’t wake. When he looks up, stretcher feeling heavy in his hands, Michael and Casey are watching him.

“What?” he asks. “I thought we had to make good time.”

At this, Michael and Casey exchange a look. It’s hard to see much beyond the weariness and worry in their faces, but Rick is fairly certain he detects a hint of pride.

Turning around, Casey kneels down and picks up the other half of the stretcher. His hands are thickly wrapped now, but it doesn't seem to bother him. Together, they take a moment to balance.

When they seem ready, Michael gives them an approving look. “Okay, then,” he says, and he seems to be rallying, pulling himself together. “Let’s do this.”

That’s that, and that’s all they need. They haven’t quite before and they’re not quitting now. Not when the stakes are this high.

They start off, Casey facing front and leading them as he mans Billy’s stretcher. Rick falls in step behind him, keeping his footing light as they traverse the uneven ground. He can’t help but watch the ground from time to time, half wondering what else is lurking in the foliage to catch them unawares.

Michael takes up position behind him, trained and ready. Rick can feel his tension, even without looking. If force of will alone could determine success, Rick has no doubt Michael would pull them through.

Glancing down at Billy, slack in the stretcher, mouth open as he draws tenuous breaths, Rick just hopes that’s the case.

For all their sakes.


Casey is not one for relativism. Things are or they are not. It’s plain and simple that way. He’s never given into the fallacy that time can seem slower or faster; time simply is and Casey has trained his internal clock to mark the seconds evenly, to the point where he’s acutely aware of every moment of every day, even when in the throes of sleep.

Even with this training and resolve, Casey has to admit that these minutes in the forest are the longest of his life.

It’s not for a lack of something to do, of course. At point, Casey may be holding Billy’s stretcher, but he’s also keenly aware of his surroundings. He’s always scanning the forest, watching for signs of trouble -- be it natural or not -- and he’s mentally reworking their route for the fastest arrival while balancing the need for easy passage of the stretcher.

In all of this, Casey is fairly preoccupied, which he counts as a blessing. At least, if he were inclined to such things. Mostly, he’s just glad that he has plenty to keep his thoughts focused otherwise he’s fairly certain where his mind would roam.

In fact, it’s hard not to let it roam there as it is. This is entirely human, Casey knows. Billy’s been badly injured, and most people find coping with such things, especially in the field, is a difficult task. Add to that the fact that Billy’s looking worse with every passing step, and it’s a situation fraught with angst.

Casey wants to tell himself that it’s okay to worry, if only to assuage his self-flagellation. Human weapons are powerful and destructive forces, but they are still human. Even at 100 percent, there’s still some inherent weakness involved, no matter how hard Casey tries to purge himself of it.

Any mission with lives on the line dredges up such feelings of dread and uncertainty. When one of his teammates is imperiled, however, it’s much harder to keep it in check.

Billy would laugh at him for that, he’s sure. Make fun of him and then assure him it’s okay. That’s how Billy is, and over the years, Casey’s found it to be a helpful coping mechanism -- not that he’s ever admitted that, of course.

The fact that Billy can’t offer him that -- can’t even offer him a grousing negative -- doesn’t help matters at all.

Which is why Casey chooses to allow himself to focus on things that do help matters. Like getting them the hell out -- now.

He’s set a good clip, somewhat ambitious but nothing too taxing, not even with his injured hands. While Casey knows he is capable of going faster, he also knows that Martinez is not in top form at the moment, despite his impressive game face to the contrary. Even Michael is functioning at less the optimum by virtue of his guilt, and so Casey doesn’t want to push it. Getting out of the woods means they all have to be working in synchronicity -- more so than ever to compensate for Billy’s dead weight.

The term makes him twitch a bit, and Casey is so perturbed by it all that he scowls and picks up his pace a little better.

It’s not as if Billy’s dead, he reminds himself pointedly. Billy’s still breathing and Casey knows because he can hear the exhalations over their hurried footsteps. From time to time, as Casey is discerning a snapping twig from afar, he can even hear the Scotsman groan.

This could be the new way to measure time: strained breaths and intermittent moans. Not quite as accurate as seconds and minutes but perhaps more telling.

Casey knows they’ve gone exactly a third of the distance when he brings them to an abrupt stop. He can go farther -- there’s no question about that -- but he has no means of knowing how winded the others are, especially given their stressful situation. 

More than that, Casey’s blind charge provides them an expedient exit, but it does not allow them to assess Billy’s condition as they go. While there’s not a lot they can do for Billy on the run, Casey does not believe that ignorance is ever bliss, so keeping apprised of his condition is imperative.

Besides, Casey has to know unequivocally that he’s not carrying a corpse. While logically he knows that Billy is likely to survive at least this leg of the journey, he’s uncertain enough about what comes after to seek comfort in an actual assessment.

Carefully, he puts his end of the stretcher down, mindful of Billy's leg positioned on his end of the stretcher. Turning, he finds Rick mimicking him and lowering Billy's upper body to the ground. “Why are we stopping?” the kid asks, and even though he sounds perplexed, he also sounds winded, so Casey knows his timing is fortuitous.

Michael doesn’t ask -- Casey knows at this point in their time together, Michael has already figured out Casey’s thought process -- and he moves around to one side of the stretcher, settling down on the ground.

Casey moves to the opposite side, intent on the Scotsman. “A quick assessment,” he says absently to Rick’s question. He glances up tiredly. “Billy’s condition is relatively unstable. I want to make sure we maintain it as best we can.”

This is true, though he doesn’t bother mentioning the fact that while they can check, there’s not actually much they can to do help Billy. But knowledge is power; or, at the very least, it’s comfort, and Casey will allow himself this much weakness.

Attention back on Billy, he reaches a hand up, pressing two exposed fingertips into the pulse point on Billy’s neck. He counts the beats, noting their speed, using his other hand to rest on Billy’s chest, feeling the rise and fall through the bandage. The fact that Billy’s alive is something, but his breathing is fast and strained, which is an indication of pain and stress. This is perhaps expected but not exactly reassuring.

However, what’s more disconcerting is the obvious heat starting to radiate off Billy’s body. With a purposeful touch, Casey presses his hand against Billy’s forehead briefly, controlling his expression to hide his mounting worry.

“He’s got a fever,” Michael notes across from Casey.

Casey pulls his hand away, grim. He readily notes the flush to Billy’s cheeks, coloring the unnatural paleness. Casey knew this was going to happen but that doesn’t make it any easier to see.

Still, he keeps himself together, moving from Billy’s upper body back toward his leg. The makeshift bandage is soaked through, wet and heavy. Carefully, Casey unwraps it, wincing slightly at the sight of welling blood in the wounds. With gentle movements, he wipes away the blood, trying to get a better look.

The edges of the wound are raw, but now they’re inflamed as well. The stark red isn’t just from blood; it’s a sure sign of infection. He runs his hands along Billy’s shin, feeling the burgeoning heat. Moving his grip downward, he feels Billy’s foot, noting its distinctive coolness. The pulse in his ankle is there, but diminished.

All in all, it’s the worst case scenario. Billy has the makings of every possible complication Casey feared, from infection to blood loss to a reduction of circulation in his foot. It’s hard to say what exactly will kill him first, but death is looking more and more likely if Casey doesn’t get them all the hell out -- and soon.

Suddenly self-conscious, Casey makes a point not to look up. He knows that Michael will see his growing doubts on his face; the kid might, too. It’s one thing for Casey to harbor such fears but he’s not sure how to keep it together if the secret of what he’s really thinking is so plainly compromised.

His efforts are in vain, though. Michael nods towards Billy’s foot and asks, “How bad?”

Rick scoots closer, face twisted in a grimace. “It’s getting worse.”

It’s an apt observation, if something of an understatement. Sighing, Casey looks up, resigning himself to the inevitable proclamation of truth. “Infection is setting in quickly,” he says. “With the blood loss, he just has less to fight it with.”

“And his foot?” Michael prompts.

It figures Michael would know to ask that.

Casey presses his lips together, gathering his self-control to speak evenly. “Also getting worse,” he says. “But until we get that infection taken care of--”

Michael nods knowingly. “--it won’t make much difference.”

Rick is watching their exchange fretfully. When he finally interjects, his voice sounds more than a little nervous. “Is there anything we can do?”

Casey drops his gaze, starting to wrap the wound again. “Nothing until we get him out of here,” he says, finagling the damp fabric back around the wound. He shrugs out of his overshirt, ripping it efficiently to add a new, fresh layer to the bandage. It's a little awkward with his own bandaged hands but he doesn't let it slow him down.

Michael looks out into the forest. “We’ve still got a ways to go yet,” he observes.

Casey grunts, tying the new fabric around, pulling it tight. “Then we better get moving,” he says, giving the bandage one last pull to secure it.

Suddenly, under his touch, Billy twitches.

Startled, Casey stops what he’s doing, eyes going to Billy’s face. Michael and Rick have already followed suit, and they’re all staring intently, stiff and expectant, while Billy moans and twitches again.

Casey’s not sure if this is a good sign or a bad sign but there’s really no time to speculate when Billy’s eyes open again.

Part Three


Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: December 21st, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
SOB! Wonderful!

I love how you extend the moments, that you don't hurry the action because in real life, it's not that simple or easy. It's sometimes failure, frustration, fear and yet also doggged perseverance.

This made me faint:

Billy’s cries are wrenching now, echoing off the trees. Then, suddenly, the cries are cut off and the tension leaves Billy’s body as he goes entirely limp on the ground.

Dashing - tee hee, good word to describe Billy:

In unconsciousness, Billy looks drawn and tired. His years show in the lines around his eyes, the deep set of his cheeks. The scruff on his chin usually makes him look dashing, but the stark contrast to his gray skin just make him look haggard now.

This description embodies Casey:

And Casey’s consciousness splits. He exists outside his own body, his spirit disconnected from his brain. The actual act is beyond him; all he knows is the intention to succeed. For his team. For Billy.

LOVELY description and love "defiant agony":

Everything hurts. Every breath, every movement, ever minute fiber of his being. It’s a constant, persistent, defiant agony. It’s in the air, on the ground, running through his blood.

And thud again:

What’s wrong?” Rick asks, and there are ample jokes for a reply but they’re lost between the synapses of his brain.

“The pain,” Casey says. “It’s too much.”

This sounds like rubbish until Billy is reminded that it’s very much the case. Because there is pain. There is pain in every thing he does, underlining every thought. Just pain, real, vibrant, and terrifying.

“Billy, can you hear me?”

It’s just a voice now, no faces, no shadows. Things are fading quickly, dwindling. He’s dwindling as the pain rises.

And he wants to answer; more than that, he wants to hold on. But spirit only accounts for so much and the pain counts for so much more and he has to focus on breathing through it all, breathing through the hurt, breathing and breathing until there’s nothing left for him at all.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2011 01:48 pm (UTC)
Re: SOB! Wonderful!
chaos rick

Writing Billy's pain was more fun than it should have been. I am definitely a masochist when it comes to torturing the characters I love :)

Though it all makes me want actual h/c on screen even more!!

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