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Chaos fic: When I Am Lost (You Have Not Lost Me) 1/1

February 23rd, 2012 (07:08 am)
lazy
Tags: ,

feeling: lazy

Title: When I Am Lost (You Have Not Lost Me)

Disclaimer: I sadly do not own Chaos, no matter how much I love it.

A/N: I wrote this a few months ago but sophie_deangirl graciously agreed to beta it for me just this week :) As usual, any remaining mistakes are my poor typing skills. This is set pre series, based on backstory provided in “Proof of Life.” Title borrowed from the song “Crawl” by Superchick.

Summary: And Carson Simms is dead and there’s nothing Michael can do to change that.



-o-

It’s over.

Missions start and missions end; this is the way of things at the CIA. Some endings are smoother than others; some never seem to end at all. Sometimes it’s a capture; sometimes it’s securing intel. Sometimes it’s handing off the case to another organization in the name of jurisdictional control.

Sometimes it ends in a plane ride and a briefing back at Langley. Sometimes it ends in a hospital with instructions for outpatient care.

Sometimes it just ends.

This time, Michael’s in the hospital. Casey’s got a concussion and bad burns on his right arm. There’s talk of skin grafts and the risk of infection is too great to move him. Even if he could, he wouldn’t anyway, not with Billy still under anesthesia after having a bullet pulled from his stomach.

Not that Michael can do anything. Because that delusion went up in smoke and flame, burned to the ground along with the warehouse where they last saw Simms.

Where they last saw Simms and haven’t seen him since. Where they are probably never going to see him again.

Michael’s not one to normally accept defeat, but he can still feel the heat of the flames. The force of the explosion left him singed and bruised. He’s been back. He’s walked on the ash and dust. There’s nothing left, nothing at all.

It’s over, Michael knows. This time, it’s really over.

-o-

Casey isn’t thrilled to see him, but he also doesn’t tell Michael to go away, which is as much of an invitation as Michael knows he’s going to get.

Still, Casey is sullen. He’s in pain, his injured arm cradled close to him, but he’s hiding it by scowling and complaining.

“I’m fine,” he says, not for the first time. He sounds sure of that fact, but Michael can see by his pale face and pinched features that it’s not entirely true. “We should be out there.”

Casey’s tenacity in this is to be expected. That’s just how Casey is: dogged in his pursuits, even at personal peril. He’s not the sentimental type, but being a team matters to him, even if he won’t come out and say it. Casey’s not one to admit defeat, especially when it comes to one of their own, and Michael has a feeling that if Casey loses hope in a rescue, he’ll lose hope in everything.

Michael tightens his jaw and looks just beyond Casey’s eyes, focusing on his ear instead. Michael doesn’t think of himself as a coward, but he’s not sure he’ll be able to hold up under Casey’s unrelenting stare right now. Not when he’s been up for three days straight, not when he’s already broken international law at the explosion site and found nothing. “You need to recover,” he says instead, ignoring how weak it sounds.

Casey scoffs. “Give me a few clean bandages and some antibiotics and I’m good.”

Casey sounds certain, and no doubt he’d try if given the chance, but Michael knows better. “You have serious burns on your arm,” he says flatly. “Even you can hold off infection, without treatment, the skin could heal too tightly and severely limit your mobility. Then you won’t be much good for anything, will you?”

At the end, he meets Casey’s eyes and holds his gaze. It’s something of a low blow, but it’s the only leverage Michael has and his own reserves are too drained to try for reasonable diplomacy with Casey.

Still, Casey barely flinches, even if his lips flatten and his jaw sets harshly. “That’s not going to happen,” he says, trying to growl, but there’s the smallest note of uncertainty that lets Michael know he’s won his point.

There’s not much satisfaction in the victory. Michael smiles coolly. “I know,” he says. “Because you’ll be staying in that bed until you’re given a clean bill of health.”

Casey doesn’t let his shoulders slump, but the defeat is still clearly not easy for him to take. “We need to go back, though,” he says. “We need to start at the beginning, to find Simms.”

Michael leans back in his chair, eyes going to Casey’s ear again. “We will,” he lies. “We will.”

-o-

When Billy wakes up, he’s not nearly as sullen but he’s just as stubborn. The doctors barely have him extubated and cleared for visitors, when the Scot is already asking questions.

“When are we going back?” His voice is strained and hoarse, but the urgency is crystal clear.

Michael isn’t surprised by that question, of course, but he still doesn’t have a good answer. Instead, he smiles. “You just woke up from major surgery,” he says pointedly. “I think for now you should focus on your recovery.”

Billy frowns a little. “There can’t be time for such indulgences,” he says. “Carson is never one to laze around when peril is imminent; I should return the favor.”

Casey hides his affections, but Billy makes no secret of such things. He’s not as forward in his protective nature, but he’s just as determined on that front. Billy jokes and makes light, but he’s serious about his team, and Michael is uncertain if even Billy has enough platitudes and euphemisms to get past the stark reality.

He had to be blunt with Casey; Billy requires more finesse. He never had to try with Carson, who always just knew, but that doesn’t matter now.

Easily, Michael inclines his head with a rueful smile. “Carson would also kick your ass if he knew you ditched the hospital AMA on his account,” he says, because he’s seen Simms’ protective instincts kick in when it comes to Billy. He’s not sure if it’s Billy’s accent or his ready need to be accepted or just the fact that neither Michael nor Casey are equipped to play mentor, but Billy’s been Simms’ pet project since the beginning. They all know it, especially Billy.

Which is why staying in here will be so hard for Billy. Which is also why he’ll end up staying on this account.

Which is why Michael can’t tell Billy the truth that it’s over. Not yet.

Billy sighs a little, deflating. His energy seems to slip away, and he suddenly the weight of the injury is clear on Billy’s face. He’s tired, features drawn and body weak. His eyelids begin to droop, as he seems to give in to the inevitable.

“Just rest,” Michael says, sounding as reassuring as he can. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”

It’s not much of a promise, but it’s the only one he has, and he hopes it’s enough as Billy lapses back into sleep.

-o-

There’s no body to claim, but Michael still has to write the report. Langley will want a rough copy before they get back, and with the long hours in the hospital, Michael doesn’t have much else to do.

But when he sits down to write, he doesn’t know what to say. He writes about tracking Salazar, writes about their asset and the intel on the warehouse. He writes about the bust they set up, their manner of infiltration. He writes about Billy taking a bullet and running out in the smoke. He talks about turning around and Carson not being there. He talks about the explosion and how it ended.

That’s the story. But it’s not. It doesn’t explain how Carson had taken rear to make sure Michael got Billy out. It doesn’t explain how Carson smothered the fire on Casey’s arm before it had a chance to burn him whole.

It doesn’t explain how Michael keeps looking behind him, expecting to see his best friend. It doesn’t explain how Michael still sees Carson’s smile before they raided the warehouse. “Let’s get this son of a bitch,” he’d said.

It doesn’t explain how well they worked together, how they moved as one. It doesn’t explain how they were family. It doesn’t explain how four misfits finally found their place. It doesn’t explain how Casey growls and Billy sings and Carson runs interference in every plan Michael has made in the last ten years.

It doesn’t explain how this was Michael’s plan, Michael’s mission, Michael’s team, and that he’s not sure anything survived in the aftermath.

It’s an ending without a beginning, and Michael can’t find any solace in that.

-o-

Michael might call it luck that Casey doesn’t need a skin graft and that Billy manages to avoid a serious post-op infection, but given the way this mission has gone, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. As it is, Casey takes to physical therapy with a vengeance, requesting more and extra and refusing his painkillers. For his part, Billy is withdrawn and unusually quiet, still sleeping more than he’s awake even as his condition is upgraded to stable.

So this isn’t luck, but it’s good news, and Michael needs all the good news he can get these days.

And it has been a long couple of days; a long couple of weeks, really. The mission in North Africa had been difficult from the start, and the stakes had been high to close in on Salazar and his money operation. The intel had been good enough to act, though, even with the set backs.

At least, that’s what Michael had thought. But then Billy got shot in the sting and the entire building had gone up and in the smoke, Michael lost control. He still remembers, grappling at the floor, hoisting Billy upright to drag him out. He still remembers calling for Casey and for Carson. He still remembers them both saying they would be right behind him.

Michael had believed in them. He’d never doubted his team and with Billy leaning heavily on his shoulders, he didn’t figure it was time to start.

But on the outside, up on the hill away from the warehouse, he’d settled Billy on the ground, putting pressure on the wound. Casey had come struggling up the hill and when Michael asked, “Where’s Carson?” the only answer was the explosion that ripped through the warehouse.

The force had been enough to knock them to the ground. When Michael had regained his senses, he looked back and there had been nothing. Nothing left.

Billy had been only semiconscious and Casey was out cold. Michael had to make his choices.

Michael still has to make his choices. Which is why it’s been five days and Michael hasn’t told Billy and Casey the truth, why he hasn’t checked in with Langley.

He can’t avoid it forever, so he picks the lesser of two evils and calls Higgins.

Higgins actually sounds glad to hear from him; asks about the condition of his team. Michael starts with himself, then Casey, then Billy. When Higgins asks about Simms, Michael says he needs permission to go back.

On the other end, there’s silence.

Michael’s throat closes up and his stomach turns. “I can’t leave a man behind, sir,” he says, and he means it and he hopes that even if Higgins can’t respect much, that maybe he can respect that.

There’s another pause and Higgins draws a breath. “We’ve had a team on site,” he says. “Trying to see what we can salvage.”

Higgins sounds different than usual; there’s sympathy instead of condescension.

“There’s nothing left,” he says. “No sign of the operation, no sign of any of the printing press. It’s all gone. There are no survivors.”

Michael closes his eyes and wants to stop him, wants to stop everything. But his voice isn’t working and the denial never forms.

“I’m sorry, Operative Dorset,” Higgins says. “It’s over.”

A shudder passes through Michael, but it’s nothing he doesn’t expect. It’s what he’s known, what he’s known since the force first hit him, since he looked up and Carson wasn’t there. He’d fight this if he thought he could, if he thought he should. If he thought there was anything he could change.

But the warehouse is gone. The mission failed. Casey got burns on his arm and Billy’s got a hole in his stomach.

And Carson Simms is dead and there’s nothing Michael can do to change that.

It’s over, Michael knows. It’s really over.

-o-

Michael spends the rest of his time with what’s left of his team. He doesn’t think about the site; he doesn’t think about Salazar possibly escaping. He doesn’t think about another team cleaning up his mess; he doesn’t think about someone from the Agency telling Simms’ mother that he won’t be coming home.

Instead, he thinks about Casey and his healing arm. He makes sure the other man takes care of himself, even when he acts like he’s just fine. He helps him with his physical therapy, pushes him and challenges him, which is as much comfort as Casey would ever accept.

He is there when Billy comes in and out of consciousness, which is still intermittent and unpredictable. He offers ice chips and water, helping him sit up when he’s still groggy on the meds. He makes a point to laugh at Billy’s jokes and pretends like he hasn’t heard the stories because he knows that the façade is the only thing that keeps Billy from reality and despair.

He makes friends with the nurses, talks to the doctors. When Billy is transferred to a different floor, he makes sure he shares a room with Casey. Billy and Casey have never been close -- Simms has been the link between them -- but his team will need each other now, even if they don’t know it yet.

For a few more days, it’s a tense game of pretenses. Casey gripes and groans and Billy makes a half-hearted attempt to be friendly. Michael sits between them and plays referee, but they’re all just talking about everything else so they don’t have to talk about the one thing that matters.

It’s the doctor’s fault when that changes. She writes up Casey’s discharge and sets a date for Billy’s release and says, “You’ll all be going home in no time.”

When she leaves, Casey mutters, “About damn time.”

This is the one thing that Billy can agree with. “As comfortable as the accommodations are, I have to say I’m more than ready to go myself,” he says.

Casey shifts in his best. “The trail for Simms will already be cold,” he says. “We’ll have a lot of ground to make up.”

“But I suppose the one good thing is that at least this will give Salazar some time to show up on CIA radar again,” Billy says. “If we can find Salazar, maybe we can get some clue to where Simms may have gotten to.”

These are all practical thoughts. These are the thoughts Michael had days ago, when Casey was still drugged up and Billy was intubated. These are the trails of hope he hadn’t wanted to give up, the ones he’s been avoiding because he’s followed them as far as he could and watched the entire thing unravel before him.

“I hope the local police haven’t fouled up the scene,” Casey mutters.

“Simms will have left something, if he can,” Billy says knowingly. “He wouldn’t leave the trail cold for us.”

It almost hurts to hear. It hurts more to stop it. There’s no easy way to say it, so he doesn’t even try to sugarcoat it. “We won’t be going back to the scene,” he says.

He’s to the point about it, and for a moment, both Casey and Billy just stare. Maybe trying to see if they heard him right, maybe trying to figure out if there’s something else Michael’s not saying.

Finally, Billy says, “Officially, maybe. But unofficially...”

Michael shakes his head. “We’ve been ordered to go home.”

“To hell with orders,” Casey snaps. “We can’t leave a man behind.”

Casey’s angry, but Billy’s incredulous. “It’s Carson,” Billy says, almost pleading it. “He would go back for us.”

This is true, all of this, and it’s almost more than he can take, because that’s Michael’s mantra and has been since the beginning. It’s how he’s blended this team of misfits, how he’s brought them together and made them more than the sum of their parts.

Because they are disparate parts. Casey’s never worked with anyone successfully in his career. Billy’s a washout from the British Secret Service. Carson almost destroyed his career through gambling and booze. And Michael’s never known how to trust anyone, much less a team. But together, they work. Together, they get the job done. Because they are there for each other, they do what they have to do. They never leave a man behind.

Until now.

Michael’s heart is in his throat and he can’t look at Billy or Casey. But he has to say this and he has to have them listen. “We already left him behind,” he says. “I’ve been to the site. I’ve looked at the ashes. There’s nothing left. Carson couldn’t have survived.”

It’s the truth Michael’s known since the blast, the one he’s refused to say out loud. But now that the words are out there, he can’t take them back. Can’t change them.

Casey is staring daggers; Billy may cry.

And Michael takes a ragged breath and when he speaks, it’s with a finality that his team can’t argue. “I’m sorry,” he says, and he says it to Billy, to Casey, to Carson. “It’s over.”

-o-

The rest of their stay is quiet. Casey’s released and stays stubbornly in the motel room performing various workout routines. When Michael suggests they go see Billy, Casey snorts and changes position, leaving Michael to go alone.

In the hospital, Billy’s recovery seems to plateau. The glowing reports from the doctor are replaced by notes about psychological trauma. Billy’s getting crass, his accent pronounced and while he’s always been flippant, he seems to mean it this time.

All things considered, Michael knows he needs to get his team out of there -- and fast -- before he loses the rest of them.

-o-

The flight home is with the military. It’s not exactly comfortable, but it’s convenient and confidential, which is exactly what Michael is looking for. He’s not sure he could endure Casey and Billy through customs, anyway.

As it is, none of them seem to handle the flight well.

Casey tries to pick a fight with a Marine flying back home for furlough; Billy tries to pick on the pilot. They’re both nearly successful, and it takes all of Michael’s capabilities to keep them both in line so as to avoid some kind of incident.

When they finally land back in the States, Casey is sullen and Billy is hunched with pain. Usually, stepping back on American soil is refreshing, a reassuring sign that things are over.

This time, the sun is so bright it’s blinding and the cool air bites at his arms as Michael unloads and goes home.

-o-

At home, Fay is waiting for him. She’s something of a mess, and it’s clear she’s been crying. When he gets in the door, she’s on him in an instant, arms wrapped around him tightly, face buried in his shoulder. “I’m so glad you’re alright,” she breathes.

Michael knows he’s supposed to hold her back, but the movements are awkward as he pats her on the back and tells her it’s okay. He’s okay. They’re okay.

She wants to talk, but Michael wants to sleep. She relents, but sleeps close to him, arm on top of his under the covers. For all his protests, Fay’s asleep first and Michael stares at the ceiling of their home and he tells himself it’s over. It’s over and he’s alive and it’s okay.

When he falls asleep in the early morning, it’s more like surrender than rest, and when he wakes up, the day feels abrasive and old, even if it’s just begun.

-o-

Fay says he doesn’t need to go to work, but Michael goes anyway. Casey and Billy are still on forced medical leave, but Michael needs to face Higgins sooner or later.

In the Director’s office, he’s actually surprised to see Michael. “I didn’t expect you back quite yet,” he says. “It was a tough mission.”

Michael doesn’t let himself flinch. Instead, he stands erect and nods his head. “I figured you’d want to debrief.”

Higgins doesn’t disagree, but he looks uncertain as he invites Michael to sit. Michael obliges stiffly and when he’s seated, Higgins hesitates before he continues. “I want you to know I’ve already seen the reports,” he says. “Both from you and from the secondary team we put on the ground after the explosion.”

Michael nods. “I was going to get a fresh start on tracking Salazar,” he says. “See where he’s gone. If the explosion was an inside job, then most of his valuable assets were already moved--”

Michael would continue but Higgins sits forward and clears his throat gently. “We already have a team on that,” he says.

The words are simple, but Michael struggles to comprehend.

Higgins smiles sympathetically. “We’re working on some leads as we speak,” he explains.

Michael shakes his head. “It’s our case, sir,” he says.

“Your team has been severely depleted,” Higgins reminds him. “I’ve seen their doctor reports. Operative Malick may be cleared for desk duty but he has a long way to go before he’s truly going to be field worthy again. Operative Collins is even worse. They need time.” He pauses, looks at Michael. “You need time.”

“I need to find out who did this to my team,” Michael counters coldly.

Higgins sighs. “I know how you must be feeling--”

“Do you?” Michael snaps. “Behind your desk, looking at files and briefs, do you really know how I must be feeling? I left a man behind; I left him in a warehouse to die. I need to know who did this. I need to know why it happened.” His eyes are burning and his throat hurts. “Sir,” he adds as a painful afterthought, the word dripping with condescension.

There’s a dangerous flash in Higgins’ eyes, but he takes a measured breath and pulls it back. He wets his lips and keeps his eyes on Michael. “Your team took your shot,” he says. “The asset betrayed you and the local government pulled its backup. It wasn’t your fault -- no one could have seen it coming -- but what’s done is done. You’re burned up when it comes to Salazar. Even if you had a team still intact, your cover has been too seriously compromised in that arena. It’s over.”

The words are plain and for as much as Higgins seems to dislike the ODS, he’s not being cruel here. His words make sense, on some level, but Michael doesn’t know how to accept it.

Higgins leans back, sighing again. “This mission is over,” he says again. “It’s time for something new.”

It’s not until he’s dismissed that Michael realizes he has no idea what that means.

-o-

In the office, everything is just as they left it. Michael’s papers are stacked just so, his glasses perched on top of the latest book he’s reading. Casey’s stress ball is on top of his mouse pad. Everything is in its place and the computer’s still in sleep mode. Billy’s desk is a mess of papers. Daily crossword puzzles are layered with mission reports.

Simms’ desk isn’t that messy, but it’s not immaculate either. There are notepads everywhere because Carson’s a restless sketch artist, crafting stick figure cartoons on intel folders and office memos. There’s a half finished drawing on his desk, and Michael remembers that he said he’d finish it when he got back.

“Something to look forward to,” he’d said with a shrug and a grin.

But Simms isn’t coming back.

Simms is dead.

And Michael sits there and doesn’t know what to do.

-o-

Life resumes. Michael starts working his usual lines of intel, keeping in contact with his assets. He passes the lonely hours in the office with busy work; even reorganizes their files for the lack of something better to do.

Within a week, Casey is back at work.

“I thought you were still on leave,” Michael says.

Casey scowls. “The CIA doctors were trying to be overly cautious,” he says.

Michael lifts his eyebrows. “You suffered severe burns.”

“I’m fine,” Casey says curtly.

Michael looks ready to protest.

Casey eyes him with a deadly glare. “I’m fine,” he says again, emphatically this time.

Michael doesn’t have the heart to disagree.

-o-

Michael isn’t one to play nursemaid, but going to check up on Billy means he doesn’t have to go home just yet. It’s not that he doesn’t love Fay, but she always wants to talk and Michael doesn’t know what to say.

At least with Billy, Michael knows not much response will be required from him. In the three years he’s known the Scot, it’s become clear to Michael that Billy’s conversational prowess requires no actual interaction in order to thrive.

Besides, Billy’s on his team. There’s a responsibility in that, a weight Michael feels more profoundly than before.

Truthfully, as he stands outside Billy’s motel room door and knocks, he’s half afraid that no one will answer, that maybe he’s lost Billy, too, just like he’s lost Simms.

It takes a few minutes, but Billy finally answers. He looks bedraggled, hair askew and donning pajama pants with no shirt or shoes. The bandage around his stomach is plain but clean. When he finally seems to recognize Michael, a grin widens on his face. “Fancy meeting you here.”

The words are heavy with his accent, jumbled slightly by what Michael can only assume is a mix of painkillers and sleep.

He forces himself to smile. “Just wanted to make sure your apartment didn’t eat you,” he says by way of joke.

Billy chortles good naturedly and steps away from the door, wandering back inside. It’s not an explicit invitation inside, but Michael takes it for what it is and follows the Scotsman. As Michael circumvents the mess, Billy makes his way back to the couch and sits down heavily.

With one look, it’s clear to see that Billy has been living on his couch. There are boxes of crackers and an empty container of beef jerky, littered amongst various bottles of water, soda, and beer. There are a stack of books, some spread on the coffee table, others strewn haphazardly over the furniture. The open bottles of Billy’s medication are scattered on an end table, and Michael tries not to think too hard about any of it.

“I think it may have tried,” Billy says.

Michael looks at him, confused as he sits down awkwardly on one of the chairs flanking the couch.

Billy raises his eyebrows. “The flat,” he clarifies. “I think maybe it tried to eat me, but decided I wasn’t worth the effort.”

He says it with something of a twinkle in his eyes, and Michael remembers to laugh even if it’s not really all that funny.

Michael stays longer than he wants to, longer than he should. Billy talks a lot but not about anything important, but Michael takes comfort in the nonstop words anyway. It means Billy’s alive, and that much is something Michael needs.

When Michael gets home that night, Fay is in bed. The leftovers from dinner are in the fridge and Michael eats them cold on the table before going to bed.

-o-

He goes to work early; he comes home late. He spends the nights scouring intel and putting together missions and working assets. Not for Salazar, but for everything else. Anything else.

Fay is quiet around him. She makes his favorite meals, invites him to bed. She puts on the TV shows he likes and suggests they go out for dinner.

Michael endures and he declines and one day she throw her hands up. “This has gone on long enough,” she says, and her anger is tempered by frustration.

“What’s gone on long enough?” Michael asks dumbly, because he knows better. He knows even if he won’t say it.

She shakes her head. “The mission in North Africa,” she says, because she’s not pulling her punches anymore. “Simms.”

It’s all Michael can do not to flinch; as it is, he keeps himself ramrod straight and refuses to move, doesn’t even blink.

Fay swallows and she seems to hesitate but presses ahead anyway. “You’re not dealing with this,” she says.

“I’m dealing with it just fine,” Michael counters immediately.

“No,” she says, even more seriously now. “You’re ignoring it.”

“No,” Michael attempts to clarify. “I’m not letting it get to me.”

“Denial isn’t healthy,” she says. “Not with something like this.”

“Well, neither is wallowing,” Michael says.

She actually laughs at that. “Oh, and there’s no happy medium? Is it still all or nothing with you?”

Michael doesn’t have an answer. He doesn’t know what to tell her. Because he wants it all -- he wants his team, together and whole -- but he doesn’t have it. He has Casey at work and Billy recovering but Simms is dead and while it’s really just short of everything, it feels like nothing.

It feels like absolutely nothing.

-o-

Work isn’t better than home. There’s more to do and less questions to answer, but the reminders are everywhere. The day planner on Simms’ desk is still open to the day they left, and Michael has to field calls from Simms’ assets and try to explain the change. There’s a tupperware container in the break room fridge with his name on it and sometimes his phone rings, and Michael and Casey sit there and stare at it until it’s done.

There’s nothing to be done, nothing to say. Casey’s never been one for small talk, so there’s no one around to breech the growing silence.

One day, someone from tech support shows up and starts dismantling Simms’ computer.

“What are you doing?” Casey asks with a glare.

The kid blinks up at him. “Oh,” he says. “We need this for the new recruit over in counterfeiting.”

Casey looks at Michael, his eyes deadly.

Michael’s chest hurts; tears sting his eyes. “Well,” he says. “Okay, then.”

The next day, Casey shows up with a travel bag. When Michael asks where he’s going, Casey tells him that he’s got a mission in Laos to go on.

“By yourself?” Michael asks.

Casey shrugs coolly. “It’s a one-man job,” he says. “Since we’re not doing anything....”

“Are you sure you’re ready?”

Casey just looks at him, doesn’t humor him with a response before he walks out without looking back.

-o-

Casey gets back from Laos and goes to Sudan. Michael spends his days much the same and checks up on Billy at night.

Billy always welcomes him in, and each time, he stands a little straighter. He’s getting better in some ways, and when he stops taking his pain meds, he starts drinking in earnest.

One night, Michael comes over and when Billy answers the door, there’s a girl in the background giggling.

Michael frowns. “Are you sure you’re up for this kind of thing?” he says.

Billy just grins. “Life is for living,” he says. “So that’s what I fully intend to do.”

-o-

Higgins calls him in to his office, says he wants to talk. Michael’s not sure what to expect, but he doesn’t expect this.

“I’m worried, Operative Dorset,” he says flatly.

“About what?”

“Your team,” Higgins says.

“They’re doing better,” Michael says. “We’ll be back in the field soon.”

Higgins wets his lips and regards Michael uncertainly. “Operative Malick has repeatedly ignored the request of doctors, psychiatrists, and his field handlers regarding missions and protocol,” he says. “He single-handedly took out a terrorist operation last week, putting himself in great personal peril and completely disregarding the mission’s objectives.”

Michael shrugs uncomfortably. “That’s just how Casey is, sir,” he says. “If he sees a better way, he’ll take it.”

Higgins is unconvinced. “Operative Collins has stopped going to physical therapy,” he says. “In fact, the last time he showed up for any kind of appointment, he was intoxicated and was caught sleeping with a nurse in a supply closet.”

Michael shifts in his seat. “He has to blow off steam--”

Higgins lifts his hand and shakes his head. “I’m not here to accuse anyone of anything,” he says. “But I’m telling you this as a favor. You lost a man in North Africa. Don’t lose the other two on American soil, because the Agency respects what you’re going through, but we can’t support it. Not indefinitely. Do I make myself clear, Operative Dorset?”

Michael hears the sympathy as well as the warning. He nods woodenly and doesn’t look up as he leaves the office.

-o-

He tries talking to Casey first. “You can’t keep this pace up,” he says.

“I can and I will,” Casey argues.

“It’ll kill you,” Michael tries, but he knows it’s not enough. Carson had a way of joking Casey into submission, making conversation that convinced Casey to acquiesce out of the sheer nonchalance of it all.

Casey scoffs. “Only if I’m weak enough to let it.”

-o-

He doesn’t have much better luck with Billy. There’s a girl in the shower and Billy’s drinking wine for breakfast. “You’re never going to get better if you don’t focus on recovery,” Michael explains.

Billy laughs and the motion accentuates how thin his torso, ribs stark against taut skin. “Recovery is a relative term,” he says. “It assumes that I want to be fully restored to a certain state when I am quite happy where and how I am.”

“You’ll never get cleared for duty,” he tries again. He tries to remember the way Carson used to cajole Billy, the way he told a story instead of giving an order and the Scot always fell in line.

“And why does that duty matter so much?” Billy asks. “I’m serious, Michael. Work will be the death of us all. Life is more than that. Life is more than this.”

Michael might believe it, but Billy closes his eyes and downs the rest of the bottle before Michael walks out.

-o-

At home, Michael stops coming to bed. He stays up on the couch, going over intel and mission reports. He opens up the file about North Africa and reads it again and again, until he knows every detail, until he has it memorized from beginning to end.

Fay stops asking; she goes to stay with her mother.

Michael hardly notices.

Michael doesn’t notice anything. Not the bruises Casey comes back with, not the heavier scent of alcohol on Billy’s breath. Because Michael’s still looking for what went wrong. Still looking but he can’t find it.

Carson used to sit with him on the tough missions, used to crack a beer then crack a joke and work through the details until morning. They didn’t always find the answer, but they always found enough.

Now, though, Michael can’t find any clues that say why it went wrong. He can’t find any way that would have changed the mission. He can’t find the mistake he made, the mistake that cost him Carson, that is still costing him everything else as well.

-o-

He stops trying to talk Casey out of missions. He stops trying to cajole Billy into his physical therapy. He just stops.

At work, Fay pulls him into her office and looks him in the eyes. “It’s over,” she says, looking him in the eyes. “It’s over.

Michael wants to laugh but can’t find his voice.

“Higgins is out of patience,” she says. “He’s going to put you all on suspension pending psychological evaluation. He’ll disband the ODS. It’ll be over.”

Michael blinks, hearing her words for the first time.

And he looks at her.

Really looks at her.

She’s been there the entire time, but he’s stopped seeing her. Stopped seeing how beautiful she is, how concerned she is. Stopped seeing how she’s at the end of her rope, how she still wants things to be okay.

She still wants to save him.

Her look is earnest now. “I know what you lost in North Africa,” she says. “But this isn’t like you, Michael. This isn’t like you at all, and I’m not going to stand here and watch you self-destruct. I can’t.”

Michael is still looking at her, understanding it all for the first time since he got back.

She inclines her head, the pain conflated with her exhaustion. “I won’t.”

-o-

It was Carson who used to remind Michael about reality. Not just paranoia, but what matters, and that’s what Michael needs now.

“She’s right, you idiot,” Carson would say. “And you’d be a bigger fool if you didn’t admit it.”

Casey sees the negative, Billy sees the positive. Simms just saw it how it was.

And as it is now, Fay’s right. If it’s over, Michael can’t change that. But he can control how it ends.
Because he’s lost Simms. He left a member of his team -- his friend -- to die a horrible and pointless death. He ran out and Carson died alone and abandoned and that may or may not be Michael’s fault.

But he can’t change it. Carson’s dead and Michael has to leave him behind because it’s over like that.

But it doesn’t have to be over for the rest of them. He doesn’t have to leave Casey and Billy; he doesn’t have to leave the ODS and all they’ve worked for, all Carson stood for. He can still save them.

He can still make that right. There’s no guarantee, of course, but there’s never a guarantee. Carson proved that in one last lesson that Michael will never forget.

At least, this time, Michael gets the chance to try.

-o-

Casey’s in the hospital after a training incident. When Michael enters the room, Casey’s already got a dozen excuses, but Michael doesn’t listen to any of them. Instead, he pulls Casey’s IV and rips the leads off his chest and holds out the bag with Casey’s clothes.

“Something I should know about?” Casey asks, eyeing Michael with something akin to suspicion.

Michael doesn’t smile. “Just get dressed,” he says. “We’re leaving.”

Casey’s never been big on orders -- not even ones he wants to follow -- but he seems to hear something in Michael’s voice that’s different this time.

Without a word, Casey takes the bag, still cautious. When Michael loiters, Casey cocks his head. “What?” he asks. “No privacy.”

Michael purses his lips. “I’ll be in the car out front,” he says. “Be there in five minutes or I’ll drag you out half-naked if I have to.”

Casey makes it in three.

-o-

Michael doesn’t bother checking Billy’s motel room. He goes to the neighborhood bar instead and tells Casey to stay put and leave the engine running.

Inside the bar, Billy’s splayed on a bar stool. It’s hard to tell how many drinks he’s had, but he’s smiling broadly at a giggling blonde on the stool next to him. He’s reaching for his drink when Michael walks up and takes it, shoving it out of the way.

Billy frowns at him. “Unless I’m mistaken,” he says, “that was my drink.”

“I’m sure it was,” Michael agrees, “but you don’t need it.”

Billy raises his eyebrows melodramatically. “I would beg to differ,” he says. He glances over at the blonde, winking. “And so would my liver.”

The girl erupts into laughter.

Michael rolls his eyes, lifting Billy’s arm and pulling the Scot to his feet. “We’re going,” he says in no uncertain terms.

Billy teeters and then resists. “Michael, I am quite fond of you,” he says, “but my interests swing in other, more feminine directions.”

“Not tonight, they don’t,” Michael says shortly.

Billy makes a squawk, bucking a little and pulling away. “That’s hardly the way of a gentleman!”

Michael tightens his grip on Billy’s arm and pulls him closer. “That’s fine,” he says. “I’m not a gentleman. I’m your team leader and I’m telling you that we’re leaving. If you don’t want to go voluntarily, I will knock you out and then you can only imagine what that will do for what’s left of your reputation around here.”

Billy is looking at Michael, face pale and eyes wide. He looks more than a little sickly but he doesn’t protest any more as Michael drags him out to the car.

-o-

The car ride is quiet, tense. Casey watches him from the passenger’s seat with curious resentment. In back, Billy is sitting loose limbed, humming intermittently while he stares at the ceiling.

Michael looks between the two of them while watching the road. He’s not quite sure where he’s going, but he figures he’ll know the place when it gets there.

After all, it’s not about the destination in this case. It’s about the journey he’s on.

He looks at Casey, scowling in the sunlight, Billy, half-dozing in the back.

The journey he’s on and the people he’s with.

Hands tightening on the steering wheel, Michael just hopes they all get there in one piece.

-o-

Michael sees the sign for a state park, and it seems right. The pull off is out of the city, away from the hustle of the capitol. Since the weather has turned cool, the wilderness area seems deserted, although the area is still well-developed for visitors.

As it is, Michael guides the car through the park, not settling for the first parking area but the next. There’s several trails there, and Michael’s been here before a few times with Fay. He remembers a picnicking spot at the end of one, overlooking a lake, and that seems good enough for him.

Billy and Casey file out behind him, skeptical.

“You checked me out AMA for a hike?” Casey asks.

“Lovely, I’m sure,” Billy agrees. “Though I would prefer such a locale with my lady friend.”

Michael grunts, rolling his eyes. “Just follow me,” he orders, unpacking a bag from his trunk. In it, he has a flashlight and other gear, things he keeps on hand for emergencies.

This isn’t an emergency he’s planned for, but, really, it’s the most important one he’s dealt with in ages because he has to save his team -- not from the enemy, but from themselves -- and Michael’s putting it all on the line, once and for all.

-o-

By the time they reach the picnic area, the day is dwindling. Michael starts a fire in one of the grills while Casey and Billy stand uncertainly nearby. When the fire is crackling, Michael turns back to them and settles on a picnic table.

Casey looks at Billy reluctantly. The Scot shrugs and sits down across from Michael. A moment later, Casey stiffly follows suit.

A moment lapses and Michael looks from his team to their surroundings. He is keenly aware of a memory, suddenly. Not the memories of this place, but of these people. Of Billy and Casey. Of Simms.

“You know,” Michael says, eyes on the sun falling in the sky. “When I first met Carson, I thought he’d be a wash out.”

Casey stiffens imperceptibly and Billy visibly pales. They’re both begging him, in their own ways, to stop. Normally, Michael might comply -- he doesn’t want to do this, either -- but this time he has to.

For all their sakes, he has to.

He collects a breath. “He was a sarcastic pain in the ass, right from day one,” Michael continues. “Every mission we went on, he had something to say about it, always working his own agenda and never thought to tell me about it until after it was over.”

“He liked to keep his options open,” Billy muses suddenly.

Michael’s eyes dart to Billy, who is looking out at the sky, a small smile on his face.

Casey snorts. “Usually it involved finding a good poker game and coming up with as many reasons as possible for missions to finish early.”

“Just so we could spend the extra time as holiday,” Billy says, his grin widening slightly.

Michael chuckles. “You know the first thing he asked when he joined the team?” he says. “If we could get a mission to Paris because he had a monthly card game he was hoping to work into his schedule.”

Billy laughs and Casey looks at his hands to hide his bemusement.

Michael’s throat is tight, but he nods at the memory. “It would have been annoying if he wasn’t so good,” he says. “First mission in, he was supposed to be backup. Things got dicey and I was in over my head. Thought I was a goner for sure.”

Michael pauses because it seems like another life, now. So long ago that sometimes he wonders if the memory is really his at all.

Still, he pushes forward because he has to remember. For his team, he has to remember. “I told the rest of the team to stay back, to keep their cover no matter what,” Michael continues. “But then, there’s this knock at the door, and when the terrorists opened it, there was Carson, posing as a delivery man, of all things.”

“The man did look good in a pair of shorts,” Casey acknowledges.

“Not an easy thing to pull off, for sure,” Billy agrees.

Michael smiles, shaking his head again. “He took them all out,” he says. “Saved my life.”

“That’s Carson,” Billy says, and there’s a hint of mourning now. “A hero, through and through.”

“Somehow he always made stupid plans work,” Casey says. “Defied all logic.”

“I know,” Michael says. “I never thought he’d make it, much less on my team, but he did.”

It’s true, even if it’s hard to admit now that Carson’s gone. But Michael needs to say it, needs to define Carson’s place on this team if he’s ever going to cope with letting him go.

Now Michael looks at Casey and Billy. Looks at the pieces that are left and promises he’ll make them whole again. He’s not sure how, but he has to all the same.

“He was the first person who showed me that leadership is less about giving orders, more about fostering collaboration,” Michael continues. “I owe him for that.” Michael breathes, fighting the emotion. “I owe him for a lot of things.”

It’s not everything Michael has to say, but he hopes it’s enough.

Eyes still on his teammates, he watches them carefully. Sees the guilty shift of Casey’s countenance; notices the defeated slump of Billy’s shoulders. He can’t order them to share, to open up this burden between them, but he’s led them this far, so he hopes they follow.

As day loses its fight with night, Michael really hopes they follow.

-o-

There’s a silence that comes. The sun sinks and the sky darkens. The flame from the grill is still burning, and Michael is preparing himself to wait when Billy finally talks.

“He’s the only one who didn’t ask,” the Scot announces.

At first, Michael doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Then Billy smiles, shrugging one shoulder wistfully. “Everyone else, they wanted to know, always the first question on curious lips and don’t get me wrong, I understand it. Spies are a suspicious lot by nature, and anyone with a secret has to be wary, but Carson’s the only one who never even asked why I left England, how I ended up with the CIA in the first place.”

It’s not a surprising admission -- it’d been Michael’s primary point of interest when recruiting Billy -- but the fact that Carson never asked isn’t something Michael’s considered.

Billy nods to himself, lips flattened a little. “At first, I thought it was a tactic, like the rest,” he continues. “But days, then weeks, then months past, and the bloody git never even brought up the topic.”

Michael is watching Billy earnestly now, and Casey’s paying attention, too.

“Finally, we were in Budapest, and we were both locked in that closet,” he says. He glances at Michael. “In the security compound?”

Michael remembers, just like he remembers everything. “I thought you two had gotten captured,” he recalls. “Casey and I had to subdue fifteen guards just to get close to you.”

“For which we were both quite grateful,” Billy says. “Spacious closet, but the lady who used it had a horrific affinity for sequins which made the entire ordeal quite uncomfortable.”

Casey snorts.

Billy’s smile fades a little, his brow furrowing. “We were both in that closet and there wasn’t much to say or do, so finally I asked him,” he says. “Flat out asked if he was at least curious about the entire thing.”

In his mind, Michael can see it, hear it.

Billy’s jaw tightens. “And you know what he said?” he asks. “He looked at me, just as plain as day, and said no. Just that simple and when I asked him why not, he said he didn’t care what I’d done before, just what I was doing now. People change, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. As long as we got out of that closet together in one piece, that was what mattered. Nothing else.”

It’s a conversation Michael never heard, but one he can envision nonetheless. That’s how Carson was. He had no delusions of grandeur, didn’t think of himself as a hero. He was a practical man, pragmatic in his approach and simple in his outlook. He understood people, knew how to interact with them. He didn’t charm them like Billy did, but he knew how to interact with them in a way none of them could. Naturally and honestly.

Billy swallows hard and looks at his hands. “He was the only person who didn’t make me feel like I had something to hide, even if I did,” he says. “He was the one spot of normal when the rest of my life felt completely and utterly out of control.”

This is also true. Michael recruited Billy, Casey trained him, but Carson had been the one to mentor Billy. The one to make him part of the team. So much of who Billy is could be traced to Carson’s influence. Michael had always known of Billy’s talents, had seen what an asset he could be when he had recruited him, but Carson had made him fit, had made him flourish.

Billy looks up, meets Michael’s eyes. There’s the hint of tears. “I miss him,” he says, voice wavering slightly. “Damn bloke, went and died, and I bloody miss him.

It’s the admission Michael’s been waiting for, but it’s suddenly not easy to hear because Michael’s not sure what to do with it. Not sure of anything.

Billy looks down again, and Michael stays still, stays near. “I know,” he says, not sure if his words sound as scared and uncertain as they feel in his throat. “Me, too.”

-o-

They have to wait longer for Casey to share. Minutes pass and the sun is almost gone under the horizon. Finally, Casey sighs, almost in resignation before he says, “I tried to hate him.”

Michael tries not to show his surprise. He resists the urge to respond and even Billy keeps his mouth closed.

Casey’s expression is sour as he shakes his head. “I didn’t want to be on a team at all,” he says. “I needed a career shift, they told me. They said it’d be a valuable experience, which is the only reason I agreed to the transfer at all.”

Michael remembers this. He remembers Casey’s file and the way the man had glowered through their first meeting and the cold reception in the months that followed. He’d been the best operative Michael had ever seen, but he wasn’t a team player. Michael had almost cut him loose before things had changed.

“And then there was Carson,” Casey says with a small shudder. “Always making small talk, sitting down to eat lunch with me. He kept telling me stories, asking questions and never cared that I threatened to kill him instead of answering.”

Michael has to smile; he remembers this. He remembers the one-sided conversations, the awkward interactions before things had just...settled.

Casey finally looks at Michael. “I wanted to hate him, but I never could,” he says then he shrugs. “Which is probably why I hated him most. Until he died. And now I hate him even more because I actually miss him.”

It’s almost an ill way to speak of the dead, but Michael recognizes the words for what they are. Casey isn’t one for affection, and this is the closest that Michael has seen him come in all these years.

Billy is watching sympathetically.

Casey draws a ragged breath. “I miss the son of a bitch,” he says. His gaze turns out again, staring at the dying day with regrets. “Bastard.”

It’s not how Michael would say it, but somehow, he still agrees.

-o-

They haven’t said a lot, but they’ve said enough. The day is almost over now and the chill in the air is sharp, but Michael hardly feels it, instead he looks at his team, looks at what’s left of his team, and knows it’s time.

Michael doesn’t like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s time. For closure. For letting go. For ending.

“He was the perfect fit,” Michael says, and they’re watching him now, watching him carefully, looking for his leadership now more than ever. “For all of us.”

Michael turns his eyes to Billy. “He kept you grounded,” he says. “You always had potential but he knew how to keep you grounded, knew how to take all your energy and actually make it work,”

Billy’s face blanches in the dim light and he swallows with difficulty but doesn’t look away.

Michael looks at Casey. “You, he kept human,” he says. “He knew how to soften your edges and make you laugh, even when you didn’t want to.”

Casey’s jaw works but doesn’t disagree.

Michael looks out again, sees the sky. The sun is down now, the last rays fleeting over the horizon. “He was invaluable,” he says. I can’t replace him.”

The silence stretches, painful and hard.

Michael looks at his operatives, his friends. “That’s how this started,” he continues. “But it’s over.”

The words register but Casey stays still, Billy doesn’t look away.

Michael forces himself on. He’s been on tough missions, but nothing as tough as this. “But we have to decide how it ends,” he says. “We can go out in flames, burn ourselves to ashes. If we do that, then Carson died in vain.”

Michael takes no joy in this -- there’s no pleasure in it -- and it’s easy to see that Casey and Billy don’t want to hear it. Casey still doesn’t flinch, but his eyes darken, and Billy shifts uncomfortably in his seat.

This is why it matters. “Or we can make an ending where his death matters,” Michael says. “But, if we do that, then all the rest ends. The drinking, the danger, the denial -- it ends tonight. Either we go back together -- strong and ready -- or we don’t go back at all and the ODS is over. We’re over.”

For a second, Casey and Billy just stare at him. There’s pain in their eyes -- pain and truth. It’s all laid bare now, the things they’ve been avoiding since North Africa. It’s plain now, and it’s a simple choice that will change everything.

Casey’s face is hard; Billy’s expression is composed. For the second time in Michael’s CIA career, he’s not sure what will come next, not sure of anything at all.

But this time, he’ll be here to find out. One way or another, he’ll find out.

-o-

In the early pre-dawn, they go back to Michael’s car. They’re all sore from sitting, voices hoarse from talking, eyes strained (from allergies, Casey says, as if anyone is asking). They’re weary and sleep deprived, but as Michael pulls back out onto the highway, he’s still more refreshed than he’s been in weeks.

It’s not all fixed, of course. Casey’s arm is still scarred and pinched; Billy still has weeks of therapy before he’ll be cleared for duty. There’s an empty desk in the office, and Michael doesn’t know what a three man mission for the ODS will look like just yet.

But it’s over; not forgotten, but done. They’re not walking away anymore but moving forward and that’s a difference that matters.

And so they drive, back to what matters, following the rising sun as the day starts anew.

Comments

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
Hard at Work

Dealing with loss is though and you show impressively how the remaining team tries to cope with Simms' presumes death in their own way and how they mainly fail.
I love how you characterize Simms and it’s painful to imagine what must have happened to him in those three years to betray his team/friends like that.
All in all another impressive story :)

(Pain's nearly gone and I'm off the meds which his just awesome, because they muddled with my brain)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 27th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
billy bruised

It's weird because the Simms ep wasn't particularly my favorite but it's spawned so much fic because of the backstory provided. Grief is simply fascinating to explore, especially in the sense of how formative it may be.

Thanks :)

(And I hope you're continuing to improve!)

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: February 24th, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
WONDERFUL!

I really love this look after Carson is presumed killed and how each of them deals with the loss. I like that you have Michael "going along" with their grief, at first, but then when he decides enough is enough, he takes the leadership role seriously and forces them to come face to face with their loss to bring them back. The memories of Carson are bittersweet and also healing.

Fave parts:

Billy’s jaw tightens. “And you know what he said?” he asks. “He looked at me, just as plain as day, and said no. Just that simple and when I asked him why not, he said he didn’t care what I’d done before, just what I was doing now. People change, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. As long as we got out of that closet together in one piece, that was what mattered. Nothing else.”

It’s a conversation Michael never heard, but one he can envision nonetheless. That’s how Carson was. He had no delusions of grandeur, didn’t think of himself as a hero. He was a practical man, pragmatic in his approach and simple in his outlook. He understood people, knew how to interact with them. He didn’t charm them like Billy did, but he knew how to interact with them in a way none of them could. Naturally and honestly.

Billy swallows hard and looks at his hands. “He was the only person who didn’t make me feel like I had something to hide, even if I did,” he says. “He was the one spot of normal when the rest of my life felt completely and utterly out of control.”

This is also true. Michael recruited Billy, Casey trained him, but Carson had been the one to mentor Billy. The one to make him part of the team. So much of who Billy is could be traced to Carson’s influence. Michael had always known of Billy’s talents, had seen what an asset he could be when he had recruited him, but Carson had made him fit, had made him flourish.

Billy looks up, meets Michael’s eyes. There’s the hint of tears. “I miss him,” he says, voice wavering slightly. “Damn bloke, went and died, and I bloody miss him.”

-- THUD! This is SO the kind of recollection that's perfect for Billy! SO LOVED IT!




This is why it matters. “Or we can make an ending where his death matters,” Michael says. “But, if we do that, then all the rest ends. The drinking, the danger, the denial -- it ends tonight. Either we go back together -- strong and ready -- or we don’t go back at all and the ODS is over. We’re over.”

For a second, Casey and Billy just stare at him. There’s pain in their eyes -- pain and truth. It’s all laid bare now, the things they’ve been avoiding since North Africa. It’s plain now, and it’s a simple choice that will change everything.

Casey’s face is hard; Billy’s expression is composed. For the second time in Michael’s CIA career, he’s not sure what will come next, not sure of anything at all.

-- LOVED this moment of clarity that Michael gives here.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 27th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Re: WONDERFUL!
billy watches

The show brought up so much potential with the Simms backstory and it just seems wrong not to explore it a little bit. And I love that between the two of us, we've evolved a distinctive relationship between Simms and Billy that really resonates :)

All in all, thanks! For everything :)

Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: February 25th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
martin - pizza boy

OMG. This is so very good. Thank you. I just hurt for all of them.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 27th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
billy watches

I'm so glad you enjoyed it :) I do like to write the angst. Thanks!

Posted by: sockie1000 (sockie1000)
Posted at: February 28th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)

I love backstories and you have done a wonderful job with this one (as far as I can tell having never seen the show, lol!)

I feel so bad for all of them, Michael in particular. It's not his fault that Simms died, but of course, he thinks it is. And I feel bad for all of them for losing their friend.

But I'm glad you had them all work through their grief so they could get on with their lives, even if they can never forget.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 6th, 2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
billy earnest

Heh, half the battle with backstories is just that people believe it, so the fact that you did still means a lot :) And hopefully someday when you watch the series, it'll still make sense. (Because you really still do need to watch the series someday!)

Thanks!

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: February 29th, 2012 02:05 am (UTC)
Pensive


////Billy’s conversational prowess requires no actual interaction in order to thrive////

LOL. That's our boy *G*

Love how you've fleshed out Carson here, his sketching, his mentorship of Billy, and how Billy felt about everyone asking him how he was kicked out of the UK.

Great look at their pain and their ways of (not) coping with it, including what Fay went through.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 6th, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
chaos three musketeers

There is something appealing about putting normally capable and strong characters into situations in which their coping skills are greatly tested. The beauty of h/c and angst is that it allows us to explore the inner workings of a character, to get at the heart of what they're about and what they're trying not to show.

At least, that's what I like to think. Sometimes I think I just enjoy making them suffer!

Thanks :)

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