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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Chaos fic: To Sleep (Perchance to Dream) 1/1

April 5th, 2012 (07:08 am)
pensive
Tags: ,

feeling: pensive

Title: To Sleep (Perchance to Dream)

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: I wrote this on a prompt from moogsthewriter a few months ago. Then, Lena7142 provided a generous beta (especially since she knows so much about the topic!). And here we are. Fic! Sadly, I think this is my last Chaos one shot in the queue, though I do have several longer one I need to get polished and up (and I'm also 60k into another one). So there's more Chaos to be had, but it may just be longer than a week before I post it :)

Summary: Billy needed sleep -- and a whole lot more.



-o-

It had been almost ninety-six hours.

Michael hadn’t meant for it to get this out of control, but really, in retrospect, it had been inevitable. With Rick visiting his parents out of town and Casey cooped up in the hospital with a concussion from their last mission, it was just him and Billy and a lot of surveillance.

They had started by taking turns, watching the suspected drug smuggler as he went about his business, but then Fay’s mother had had an emergency and Fay hadn’t known who else to call. Michael usually relished the chance to spend time with Fay, but the trip to her mother’s was three days, at least.

“I’ve got this,” Billy had assured him.

Three days later, Michael was less than certain.

They had their intel, though, which was the good part.

The bad part was that Billy hadn’t slept in almost four entire days.

Michael first became aware of this problem when he picked Billy up for work that morning. The Scot had been duly chipper as he settled into the seat, already drinking coffee from his oversized travel mug. Then, Michael noticed the smell.

Glancing toward Billy, it became readily apparent that the taller operative was still wearing the same clothes he’d had on when Michael left three days ago. They were more rumpled than usual, and his tie was askew. “Have you even showered?” he asked.

Billy looked at him earnestly. “I haven’t even slept.”

Michael was going to write this off as an exaggeration, but then he thought about it. Three days of surveillance on his own. There wouldn’t have been time to sleep.

He looked at Billy again. “Are you sure you should be coming to work then?”

“I believe in saving my sick days for true illness or injury,” Billy said. “Such as when I am copiously bleeding or rendered unconscious for prolonged periods of time. Besides, this coffee is amazing! Truly one of God’s greatest wonders on this green, lush earth.”

Michael raised his eyebrows as Billy took another gulp. “How many cups have you had?”

“Cups? Pshaw!” Billy said, swatting at the air. “I lost count after the third pot.”

“Why didn’t you sleep when you got off duty last night?” Michael asked.

Billy waved the file in his lap, the loose ends flapping. “Paperwork!” he said. “Though I may or may not have used an overabundance of punctuation that would otherwise be entirely inappropriate for a formal report.”

Michael stared. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay home?”

Billy took another long drink and scoffed. “Don’t be silly!” he said. “While it is probably wise for you to be operating the heavy machinery today, I feel otherwise fantastic!”

-o-

Fantastic, in Billy-speak, meant absolutely insane.

With Casey and Rick back, they had their morning meeting. Billy was drinking another cup of coffee – he’d drained the travel mug halfway to work and bounced restlessly the rest of the way – while Michael delineated what they had learned from their surveillance effort.

“So, it seems like we may have enough to put together a mission,” Michael tried to explain.

“A mission!” Billy exclaimed, half jumping out of his seat as he interrupted. “A foray into adventure! An escapade of unknown potential! Danger! Intrigue! The stuff of movies! And particularly well-written spy novels!”

They all looked at him.

Billy gestured broadly, jittering more than a little. “What, you’re not all excited at the prospect?”

Casey looked more annoyed than usual. Rick actually looked a bit afraid.

Michael shrugged, a bit apologetic to the rest of them. “He hasn’t slept in four days.”

“Ah,” Casey said.

Rick frowned. “Is that healthy?”

“Healthy?” Billy asked mockingly. “I’m positively invigorated!” He got to his feet. “I need more coffee! Anyone else?”

And they all stared while he left the room.

-o-

When Billy didn’t come back, Michael was vaguely concerned. He didn’t ask, but Casey understood Michael’s glances at the door and took it upon himself to organize a search. It was nearly forty minutes later when Casey finally brought him back.

For his part, Billy was stumbling along and protesting loudly. “I was just fine!”

“Sure you were,” Casey said, shoving him in his chair.

“I was, in fact, excellent!” Billy insisted.

“You were trying to pick up the entire technology department,” Casey reminded him.

“Successfully!”

“I know,” Casey said, sighing as he sat back down. “Because you were offering to buy them all tickets to Scotland.”

“Which is a fabulous first date!” Billy said, throwing his arms out.

“Which you can’t afford,” Casey said. “Not to mention the fact that you’re banned from ever stepping foot there again.”

Billy groaned, dropping his head back. “You are such a grouch! A surly, poor excuse for a man!” He sat up and looked at Casey, an accusatory finger jabbing the air. “You need some happiness in your life, man. Let love in! Love is all you need!”

Then Billy started belting out the chorus of Yellow Submarine , and Casey looked like he might actually resort to violence. Michael worried for a moment he might. But the other man shook his head. “I would incapacitate you, but it hardly seems fair,” he said. “However, if you keep talking, I reserve the right to change my mind.”

Billy sighed and flopped forward in melodramatic fashion to get to work.

-o-

For a while, Billy’s sleep deprivation seemed to be under control. Billy did start singing the hits of the Spice Girls at one point, but after Casey had duct taped his mouth shut, they’d had some silence while Billy tried to remember how to take it off without ripping off his four days’ worth of facial hair.

This was fine with Michael -- as far as he was concerned, sometimes ignorance was bliss when it came to Billy -- until Rick broke their temporary reprieve. “What are you doing?” he asked.

Instinctively, Michael glanced up at Billy, who was studiously leaned over at his desk, wielding a pair of scissors with unsettling ferocity.

“A very important project,” Billy replied.

They all waited for him to explain.

When no further explanation came, Rick hedged. “Which is?”

At that, Billy lifted his so-called project. An impressively intricate string of paper snowflakes appeared, each finely cut with precision and unparalleled skill.

“Wow,” Rick said.

“And you didn’t cut your finger off?” Casey asked.

Michael frowned. “Where’d you get the paper?”

Billy shrugged, beaming somewhat at his creation. “This report had too many pages in it anyway.”

-o-

When Higgins called them in, Michael tried to leave Billy behind.

“I’m a valuable member of this team! An asset to this organization!” Billy protested. “Tried and true! I have bled for you! Each of you! More than once! Willingly!”

They all looked at him. Then at each other.

Billy rolled his eyes. “I’m a little tired, not daft,” he said, stalking past them. “Let’s go!”

Reluctantly, Michael followed. Really, though, he told himself, how bad could it go?

-o-

After Higgins nearly fired them all and Billy was nearly deported from yet another country, Michael realized it could go pretty badly.

Back in their office, he knew it was time to take action.

“You need to sleep,” he said flatly.

Billy shook his head, stubborn and defiant. “No.”

“You’re exhausted.”

“True,” Billy agreed.

“So you need to sleep.”

“No,” Billy said again, words heavy with his accent, which seemed to get worse with each passing hour of sleeplessness. “I need a nice drink of scotch perhaps, and I could definitely use a night off, but sleep is very much a secondary concern.”

“You’re going to get us fired.”

Billy shrugged. “That’s a fine example of hyperbole,” he said. Then he looked at Michael pointedly. “But I know you, Michael Dorset. Paranoid bastard, fearless leader, and a complete failure with attempts at figurative language.”

“What?” Michael asked.

Billy giggled, leaning back and turning in his chair. “And you think I need sleep!”

-o-

Michael was afraid to leave him alone, but he didn’t have a choice. Lingering just outside the office, he took Rick and Casey aside.

“We need to do something,” he said.

From behind the door, Billy was reciting what Michael could only guess were portions of the Magna Carta.

“I can’t believe he’s even awake,” Rick commented.

“It’s hypomania,” Casey said. “When the body is deprived of sleep too long, it creates a disjointed feedback loop. The less you sleep, the less you feel like you need to sleep even as your body starts shutting down in other ways. In essence, he’s drunk on his own exhaustion. He could stay awake until he dies and he wouldn’t even notice.”

“And he’s going to drive us crazy,” Michael said. “So we need a plan.”


-o-

It was a good plan.

Well, maybe not a good plan, but a straightforward one. At this point, Michael was willing to try anything.

They went back inside. Billy was now singing the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber, directing an imaginary orchestra with broad waves of his hands when they ambushed him.

It was quite the struggle, with kicking and hitting and even some biting, but the three of them managed to overpower him.

When they were done, Billy was taped to his chair, wrists pinned to the armrests and his feet attached to the wheels.

“You’ve all gone bloody mad!” Billy yelled.

“You’ll thank us,” Michael said.

“And if not, at least you’ll sleep,” Casey added.

“Sleep well,” Rick said, turning off the lights as they left the room.

-o-

A short time later, when Michael came back to make sure Billy was okay, the lights were still off. Inside, though, Billy was somehow free. The remnants of his duct tape bonds were lying tattered by his desk. He was lying on the table, staring up at the ceiling, legs dangling over the end, mumbling.

Inching closer, Michael made out the words. “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,” Billy said, words low and slurred. “Soft you now! In thy orisons, be all my sins remembered!”

Michael wasn’t as well read in the classics as Billy, but he could recognize a Shakespearean soliloquy when he heard one. Sighing, he moved closer, foregoing any pretense of stealth. “How’d you get out?” he asked.

“You think I haven’t practiced a duct tape escape in my free time?” Billy asked, not looking at him and not missing a beat.

Michael rolled his eyes. “You need to sleep.”

Billy sighed and glanced toward him. “That, among many things,” he said, and he sounded tired now, voice weary. His face seemed worn, the lack of amusement aging him beyond his years.

There was something in his disposition now. Something honest. Something sad.

“Well,” Michael cajoled gently, “let’s start with the sleep and deal with the rest later.”

Billy smiled at him, the corners of his lips upturned in bittersweet caution. “I can’t fault you for seeking deferment,” he said, voice clear again and quiet, but the words resounded loudly in Michael’s ears.

“Just prioritizing your health,” Michael told him. Then, he added wryly, “And our sanity.”

“Noble, noble things,” Billy agreed. “It’s just like you, to find that perfect medium, that happy balance that benefits us all.”

“So why don’t you listen to me and go to sleep?” Michael asked, not harsh but pointed.

Billy let his eyes drift back to the ceiling. “It’s easier to pretend like I don’t need things, like a home, like a family, like sleep,” he said. “Because admitting it and not getting it is just so, so much harder.”

It had been over four days since Billy slept, but it was also a lot more than that. It was a job he’d lost, an agency that had disowned him, and a life he’d been forced to leave behind. Billy had been in the States for nearly a decade, and he never talked about whether or not that bothered him. Michael pretended that Billy’s silence was his way of saying that everything was fine, but really, Michael knew that it was what Billy didn’t say that mattered most.

Because Billy needed sleep – and a whole lot more.

It was Michael’s turn to sigh. “Billy—“

He was cut off by the sound of a snore. Stepping closer, Michael peered in the dimness and saw Billy’s eyes were closed. His mouth was open and his body was lax, having finally surrendered to the inevitability of exhaustion.

Standing there, Michael had to wonder just how much Billy held at bay for the sake of his job, for the sake of his team. What was Billy living without because he thought he had to, because circumstances gave him no other choice?

More than that, how often did Michael take it for granted?

Lingering by Billy’s side, Michael squeezed the Scot’s arm gently. Reaching over, he snagged Billy’s rumpled blazer from a nearby chair, spreading it out over his recumbent form.
He couldn’t fix most of the things in Billy’s life, but he could let him sleep.

“Just rest,” Michael murmured. “And we’ll be here when you wake up.”

It was a quiet, simple benediction, but one that mattered, as Billy slept on.

Comments

Posted by: x_tremelylost (x_tremelylost)
Posted at: April 5th, 2012 01:36 pm (UTC)

This is so funny and sweet. I read and love all your Chaos fics, I am just a lousy commenter, :)
Thanks for keep sharing your stories!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 7th, 2012 11:50 am (UTC)
billy content

Well I'm glad to know people are reading :) With a fandom this small, it can be hard to tell!

Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: April 5th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
phoenixblue

Sweet dreams, Billy! *tiptoes away*

Boy, Billy in hyper mode!....I'd still love him, though *g*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 7th, 2012 11:50 am (UTC)
billy knows

He is pretty lovable, no matter what state he's in.

Thanks!

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 7th, 2012 11:51 am (UTC)
chaos team 2

I've meant to get more involved over on DW but just haven't gotten around to it. I think I've seen that comm, though :) Thanks!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 7th, 2012 11:50 am (UTC)
billy

Aw, thank you! I certainly do enjoy writing Billy so it's good to know there are people who like reading him, too :)

Thanks!

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: April 5th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
James and Cat


I can picture Billy trying to pick up a whole department *G*

////they’d had some silence while Billy tried to remember how to take it off without ripping off his four days’ worth of facial hair.////

and
////“You think I haven’t practiced a duct tape escape in my free time?”////

HOWLS! Love the various things that Billy was reciting, their attempts to 'subdue' him, his escapes, and the whole situation. Brill!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 7th, 2012 11:52 am (UTC)
billy likes

Heh, I imagine I'd let him pick up my department, if I still worked.

Anyway, I'm glad you got a few laughs out of it. I always feel out of my element with humor :)

Thanks!

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: April 8th, 2012 01:34 pm (UTC)
Coffee

After tired, comes stupid :) (that at least is a saying in Germany)
And that became clear here. Billy's tiredness really bleeds through and that accompanied with his vulnerability makes a real great read. I chuckled at Michael's and Casey's unsuccessful attempts to get Billy to sleep.

(Wanted to actually review earlier, but RL got in the way)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 14th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
billy casey trouble

Ha, that's a good saying :) Apt and true enough.

This started out as pure silliness, but using Billy's vulnerability for a deeper look was too tempting not to use. I'm glad you liked it.

Thanks!

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