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Chaos fic: By a Thread (1/4)

March 28th, 2013 (06:09 am)

feeling: weird

Title: By a Thread

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: Beta given by postfallen. This is a four-part fic, and I’ll post Thursdays and Mondays until it’s through :)

Summary: An injury robs Billy of his voice – and a whole lot more.


Billy didn’t see it coming.

One minute, he was getting out of his car. The next, something clubbed him in the head and everything went dark.

He came to, briefly, and found himself being dragged roughly across the ground, voices in Spanish skipping over his consciousness. He blinked a few times and when someone looked down, their eyes locked and something came down hard on his head again.

This time, when he woke, he was face down, face pressed against the concrete. Someone was tying his hands roughly. When they saw he was awake, they jerked his arms harder, almost dislodging them from their sockets, and spit in his face.

Traidor,” the man hissed at him before straightening, using his foot to kick Billy roughly at the back of the head.

It hurt, but this time he didn’t pass out, and in the precarious seconds that followed Billy realized what had happened.

He’d been found out, obviously. Perhaps not as CIA -- his Scottish descent made it easy for him to hide that fact -- but as a traitor nonetheless. The team was on a mission to Ecuador, trying to get established in a drug cartel that had recently taken two American contractors hostage. They’d already rescued the men, but when they’d found out that the latest shipment was being slated as a set up to start buying weapons they’d decided to knock the operation down a peg.

Apparently, their plans had been a bit ambitious since Billy had been accosted and taken captive.

Before he had time to think this through any further, he was hauled roughly to his knees and the leader -- an unpleasant man called Castillo -- stood in front of him, his machine guns prominently displayed. “You lied to me, friend.”

Billy smiled as best he could, even with the aching pain in the back of his head. “You’re right,” he agreed. “When I said it was a pleasure to be in your company, that was more than a slight exaggeration--”

His glib remark was cut off by a quick punch across his face. He could taste blood in his mouth, and stars danced across his vision even as he was forcibly kept on his knees.

Blinking, Billy worked to clear his vision, spitting blood on the ground. “A good assessment, then,” he muttered.

“I do not know who you work for,” Castillo said. “I do not care.”

Pissing bad guys off was one thing. Earning their total indifference was entirely another. When bad men got angry they got violent, which often gave Billy a fighting chance. If Castillo wanted revenge, Billy would have a means with which to stall.

Indifference meant that there would be no drawn out process. Chances were he’d execute Billy and just be done with it.

Throat tight, Billy’s heart skipped a beat. Indifference was bad. The good news was that Billy was an expert at talking his way out of things. A few words could turn the tide in his favor. He could win countless friends with his golden tongue.

More than that, he could earn countless enemies with a few taunting phrases.

Billy snorted. “Well, you should,” he said. “Because you’d be stupid not to. I’m not alone, you know.”

It was bad form to out himself, though in his defense, he’d said nothing of the CIA. This mission wasn’t sanctioned; if he died, the mission died with him. If he could stall long enough, if he could give his team time to find him, then they could still recover something to go home with.

Namely, his life.

Billy straightened, chin lifted defiantly. “And they’ll be after you sooner than you think,” he said. “We know a lot about you, and trust me when I say we are not people you want on your tail.”

Castillo shrugged. “This is why killing you is the best solution.”

Billy scoffed. “Except that my absence will just bring the hounds faster! Even now, if I’ve missed a check in, they’ll be on you.”

The thing was, it was mostly true. The ODS would be after him the moment he’d been knocked out. He had a strict check in schedule, and when he didn’t arrive at his intended destination the ODS would activate the tracker hidden in his watch and be here in no time.

Well, soon at any rate.

Billy just needed to stall.

A few more words.

“I may be able to hold them off, though,” Billy bargained. “We can maybe cut a deal.”

Castillo smiled. “You think I would do that?”

Billy grinned. “I think you are a smart man,” he said, nodding intently. “A clever leader. You know when someone is offering you a deal.”

“And when they are wasting my time,” Castillo said, nodding at someone behind Billy.

There was movement, and Billy tensed. “Come on, now,” he said, his heart rate picking up. “You shouldn’t do anything hasty--”

Castillo gave an order in Spanish, nodding. Billy was hauled to his feet, and he struggled in vain.

“You’ll regret anything rash when they come to find me,” Billy said.

“No, I do not think I will,” Castillo said with a sanguine smile. “And have no fear. You will not either.”

Billy did his best to retain his composure. “Yeah? How do you figure?”

“Because you will be dead,” Castillo said simply.

And just like that, he was yanked backward. He almost tripped, but the guards dragged him so his feet stumbled and tripped over each other before standing him upright and maneuvering something around his neck. Something thick and coarse and--

A noose, Billy realized.

His eyes widened, his mouth opened to plead, to beg, to stall.

There was no time, though, not as the noose tightened suddenly and he was jerked off his feet. He swayed violently, flailing as best he could with his hands secured, the pain in his neck radiating through his body, almost blinding him.

He was hauled higher, the pain threatened to take his consciousness. He hung on doggedly, trying to breathe--

Then he realized he couldn’t.


Michael had known the instant things went south.

This mission was dangerous. More than that, it was unsanctioned. He didn’t mind taking his team off the radar when the situation demanded it, but he was keenly aware of his lack of backup. Taking Castillo out of the game had been a necessary risk -- they’d all agreed.

But still a risk.

A big one.

They’d managed to get the captives free, but only by separating Castillo from his guards and mounting a rescue by the cover of night. They’d been in and out before Castillo had even been roused out of his bed to report the breach.

And really, the fact that they’d staged that coup had probably only heightened the man’s sense of paranoia. Michael could appreciate that, of course. Paranoia was an asset for people who wanted to stay alive in a complicated world. Taking Castillo's hostages had only made the man edgier than ever, making him more skeptical of everyone.

Michael had counted on this, but since Billy’s cover had been established prior to the rescue, Michael had thought that it was less likely Billy would be a suspect if he showed up again like nothing had happened.

And it had seemed to work. Billy made inroads on a possible gun deal, and Castillo was dangerously close to setting himself up.

Then Billy had been taken.

Right there, in the street. One second he’d been getting out of his car, the next he’d been knocked out and dragged into a van by two men. It had taken no more than ten seconds, and Michael found himself running desperately after the van, radioing Casey to double time it down the street in their car.

Rick met him at the corner, and they’d piled into the car when Casey paused just enough. They’d almost lost the son of a bitch once, but by staying back and keeping to the alleys, they’d been able to follow the van until it stopped.

At Castillo’s warehouse.

They had had to park far enough back to avoid detection, but they could only assume that Castillo abducting Billy off the street was a bad sign.

Rick glanced down at the computer console. “It says he’s in there still,” he reported, looking at the blip of Billy’s tracker.

“Yeah, and he’s not moving,” Casey observed curtly. He looked up at Michael. “He’s been compromised.”

Michael knew that, but he couldn’t be sure how bad.

“But we could compromise the mission even more if we barge in,” Rick said. “We don’t even know how heavily armed Castillo is right now.”

Michael knew that, too. He’d been thinking it since they’d pulled up.

“So, what, we want to take the chance of doing nothing?” Casey snapped. “Castillo will kill Billy.”

“But Billy can stall, can’t he?” Rick asked, trying to sound confident, but in truth, he just sounded young.

Both valid points, and his teammates looked at him for confirmation.

Because this was Michael’s choice. It’d been his choice to keep going on the mission; it’d been his choice to use Billy’s cover. It’d been his choice, and now Billy was compromised and the whole thing could end very, very badly.

“We kill two birds with one stone,” Michael said. “We go in, rescue Billy and take Castillo down in the process. We won’t get as good of charges, but he still has outstanding warrants that will take him out of the game.”

Rick swallowed, clearly nervous.

Casey was stoic.

Michael took a breath, solidifying his resolve. “It’s a plan that can work,” he said. “With our firepower and Billy’s stalling tactics, this might all still turn out alright.”


A hanging.

Billy had to give Castillo credit, it was a creative means. A bit slower, but a mite less messy, and very dramatic. Billy had considered many possible methods of execution, but never this.

Dangling on the end of the rope, trying to breathe, trying to--

And failing.

That was the point, he knew, but the sudden shock of it was still overwhelming. His eyes popped open and he looked about, finding himself swinging wildly as his legs kicked in futility. The men on the ground were watching him; Castillo was already walking away.

And there was nothing left to say. There was really nothing left to do.

Billy’s eyes watered, his face turning hot even as the rest of his body went horribly numb. It was hard to say what was worse -- the pressing need for air or the encompassing pain.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. The more he kicked, the tighter the noose got, and his vision started to gray out, everything going unpleasantly dim as the world exploded around him.


The minute they got in range, Michael knew something was wrong.

Mostly because nothing seemed out of place. The guards were calm, and there was Castillo, walking out the front door, as easy as he pleased.

“Maybe we were wrong,” Rick whispered from their cover behind a row of brush. “Maybe Billy hasn’t been found out...”

“Or maybe he’s already dead,” Casey said, voice low and tense, his posture so stiff that he seemed ready to snap.

“We go in hot,” Michael said, unable to accept either option. “Our goal is to subdue, but we need to get inside quickly, so it’s no holds barred.”

He didn’t explain. He didn’t need to.

Some missions took meticulous planning.

Some were intuitive.

The approach was easier than Michael might have suspected. The first guards went down without a sound, and the next set weren’t much harder. They fanned out, working methodically, but when they reached the main building Castillo appeared ready for a standoff.

Normally, Michael might humor him to try to control the loss of life. Especially if Billy was in play.

But the fact that Billy was nowhere to be seen did not bode well. If Castillo was keeping Billy as a card to play, he wouldn’t have hidden him.

This meant they had nothing to lose.

Michael glanced across the grounds, nodding to Casey, who was hiding behind a truck. Casey nodded back.

Then, Michael turned to Rick, who was pressed up against him behind a series of crates. “When the gunfire starts, we go in,” he said.

Rick’s eyes were bright and wide. “Okay,” he said.

“You look for Billy,” Michael ordered. “Let Casey and me worry about the rest. You look for Billy.”

Rick nodded.

Then there was a movement and the gunfire started, Casey streaking through the yard with unrestrained rage. He yelled, deep and guttural, and it was the only cue Michael needed.

“Go,” he shouted, pushing Martinez to his feet and shoving him forward.

Rick stumbled once, but broke into a run, and Michael followed close behind, firing as he went, clearing a straight path toward the door.

There was no stealth; no hesitation. The men were falling around them and Castillo stepped out, gun raised.

Michael raised his back as Rick came to a halt between them.

There could have been a standoff, an exchange of words.

But Castillo wasn’t the type. Instead he leveled his gun, finger on the trigger--

And Michael fired.

Castillo fell with a yelp, writhing on the ground.

Michael caught up with Martinez. “What did I tell you,” he said. “Billy--”

He cut off, and followed Rick’s line of vision. The door behind Castillo was wide open, and it was easy to see the scene before them. Casey had been busy, and there were bodies strewn about even as a firefight ensued toward the back of the building.

But that wasn’t what Rick was looking at.

No, he was looking up toward the rafters.

Toward the spot where Billy was hanging by his neck from a rope, feet dangling uselessly off the ground.


Then, the pressure was gone.

Billy blinked and realized he was on his back. Somehow his hands were free and he was staring up at the rafters. Michael was there, and Rick. Casey hovered behind them.

He was down. Billy realized that with sudden, swelling relief. He was down. And he was alive.

It was a relief so palpable, he could have damn near cried.

He opened his mouth, to breathe, to say thank you, but nothing came out.

Working his throat, he tried to swallow, and fresh pain ignited. It lit through him, faster than before and more intense. It racked his body and he found himself trembling at the onslaught, eyes widening in horror.

Because he was down, but it didn’t matter. He still couldn’t breathe. Still couldn’t move. Still couldn’t do anything.

He tried, though. With all he had.

The pain only escalated, and he couldn’t help it when hot tears stung his eyes. The sheer tenacity of the sensation shook him, and he tried to cry out, but that just made it hurt worse.

Desperate, he inhaled, trying to get his bearings. He just needed to breathe -- just a tick--

But there was only pain.

Not just pain -- because Billy was used to pain. This was wrenching agony, worse than anything he’d felt before. It was like his throat had been torn out, like there was nothing but a gaping hole--

Billy shuddered, almost panicking now, his mouth open as he labored uselessly. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. They’d come for him, they’d got him down. He was supposed to be okay. He was supposed to take a few gulping breaths, make a quip and move on.

But there was no air. There were no words. There was pain. He wanted to squeeze his eyes shut, to get away, but the darkness scared him, threatened to consume him and he stared out instead, looking at his friends, trying to get his words to work, to not fail him now.

Rick was pale, Casey frozen. Michael was next to him, hand grasping his arm and face close, eyes boring into his, mouth moving but Billy couldn’t quite make out the words.

Billy tried to wet his lips, tried to explain. They needed to know. They needed to understand. He needed to tell them, he needed to...


He needed to...


He convulsed, desperation setting in as his lips moved and his consciousness abated, the fire in his throat mounting until there was nothing left.

No words. No air.



For a second, Michael wasn’t able to move. He stood there, paralyzed, just watching, trying to make sense of the surreal, morbid tableau.

Because Billy was...

Hell, they’d hanged Billy. Michael had always planned for worst case scenarios, but he’d never exactly planned for...


Billy, noose around his neck, face suffused with red and legs limp as they hovered off the ground.

Billy, dead.

Not dead, Michael told himself, forcing the truth over his consciousness ruthlessly. He wasn’t dead. Not until they had him down, until they’d felt for a heartbeat, listened for breath...

Billy wasn’t dead.

But only if Michael moved.

Rick was still staring, gaping and pale. Jostling the younger operative, Michael broke into a run. “Come on!”

When Michael glanced back, Rick was still standing there, looking at Michael now, shocked.

“If we’re going to have a chance at saving him, I need your help,” Michael said, trying to make it sound like an order. It felt like a plea. “Now, Martinez. Let’s go.”

Michael couldn’t afford to look back any longer. When he got close enough to Billy he scrabbled for the closest box he could find, dragging it over haphazardly and stepping up, drawing Billy’s limp form closer to him and hefting him up.

Hanging was usually death by strangulation. If Billy was going to have a chance, Michael needed to restore the airway.

He refused to think about the other way hanging killed. About how it snapped necks, killing victims instantly. How no amount of timely intervention would make a difference.

That wasn’t what had happened.

Blinking furiously, Michael turned, looking around Billy’s legs as best he could back toward Rick.

“Martinez, now,” he yelled, voice thick with the emotions he refused to acknowledge. “Get your damn knife and get over here to cut him down.”

Rick seemed to stammer.

“If he dies, so help me God, Martinez,” Michael said, almost choking on the words now. Billy’s body turned listlessly above him. “I’ll blame you if you don’t get your damn ass over here.”

Martinez blinked, and seemed to remember himself. Seemed to remember how to move.

It only took a few more seconds before Rick was next to him. He stood at Billy’s side, flailing for a moment, before he managed to find a table. The wooden legs scratched hard against the floor as Rick dragged it over, and the kid nearly tripped climbing on top of it. He withdrew his knife, fingers shaking so bad that Michael worried the kid might cut his own fingers off by accident.

But he didn’t.

Instead, Rick reached up, face going stony and still as he stood on his tiptoes, reaching up high on the rope above Billy’s head, grasping it with one hand and sawing with the other.

Michael could hear the fibers plucking, and it only took a moment before Billy’s body shifted, sagging a little. The unexpected weight almost threw Michael’s balance, but he kept his footing, staggering just a little as he reached up further, trying to brace Billy’s chest as the rope continued to fray.

It took time -- precious seconds, horrible seconds, seconds Billy might not have -- but when the rope finally gave, it was all Michael could do to catch Billy, the sudden load knocking Michael off his feet, and he crashed unceremoniously to the ground.

He hit hard, jarring his elbow and knocking his head, the air rushing out of his lungs with force. Everything went white for a moment, and when he finally focused, Rick was already there, pulling Billy free.

The younger operative laid Billy on his side, working steadily at the bindings on his wrists. Michael scooted his way around to the front, ignoring the pain in his elbow and back, using his numb fingers to pull at the noose, loosening it as best he could.

The flesh was swollen underneath, an angry red and purple line burned deep into the skin of Billy’s neck. Gritting his teeth, Michael slipping the noose up and over, trying not to look at the mottled features of Billy’s face.

When Rick was done with the bindings, they laid Billy hastily on his back and Martinez squatted behind Michael, eyes as wide as saucers. “Is he--?”

Michael didn’t know. God help him, he didn’t know. It was Michael’s job to know the details, to know the big picture, to know everything, but he didn’t know if Billy was alive...

There was a noise, but Michael didn’t look up. Rick flinched, lifting his knife, but Casey skidded into view. “I did my best to hurry...”

He didn’t finish.

Instead, he fell silent, watching as Michael reached down with one hand, pressing his fingers into the side of Billy’s bruised and distended neck, hoping...

And Billy’s eyes opened.

The sudden start was surprising -- so much so that Michael nearly fell back into Rick, who nearly crashed into Casey. Billy sprung back to life with an unexpected vigor, his entire body tensing and flailing, eyes wide and searching.

Before landing on Michael. And Rick and Casey.

Michael stared.

And then he nearly laughed. Damn near cried. Because Billy wasn’t dead, Billy was okay.

But then Billy’s eyes widened even further. He started to tremble, his expression going from surprise to fear to horror to...


Not just pain, because Michael had seen Billy in pain. This was more than that. This was agony.

Billy’s mouth opened, and Michael leaned closer. “Billy? Hey, Billy,” he said, hand tentatively grasping the Scot’s shoulder. “Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

That should have been the easy part. Usually, Michael couldn’t get the Scot to shut up. Usually, Billy prattled on endlessly. Usually.

This time, Billy’s mouth moved--

Nothing came out.

Billy seemed to convulse, pressing his lips together for a long moment before he opened his mouth again--

Still nothing.

Billy’s face was paling rapidly now, going from red to pink to ashen within seconds.

Michael felt his stomach churn, his fingers tightening on Billy’s shoulder. “Billy?”

Billy shuddered violently, legs starting to kick restlessly. His back arched, his mouth gaping like a fish out of water. Tears started streaking down his face, fingers balled up into fist as he nearly started to seize in earnest.

It didn’t make sense. They’d cut Billy down. Billy was still alive. Billy was conscious...

Then, Michael remembered.

Sometimes it wasn’t a lack of oxygen.

Sometimes it was damage to the neck. And not just a clean, easy break. Sometimes it was a deviated windpipe, compressed arteries, damaged veins.

They had cut Billy down--

But he was still dying all the same.

Slowly, painfully, starving for oxygen but this time with no rope to cut.

Nothing to do except watch.

“What’s happening?” Rick asked, sounding small, young.

Michael’s own breath caught as Billy’s lips went blue, his struggles fading as his legs stopped kicking, his fists unfurling, fingers scraping limply against the cement as his shoulders fell and his eyes started to droop.

“He’s dying,” Michael replied, the words heavy on his tongue. “The rope must have damaged his throat...”

And there was nothing he could do. He wasn’t a doctor; he had limited medical experience. He could plan and plot and he was still powerless.

“He’ll only die if we don’t do anything,” Casey growled, voice deep and almost guttural. He shoved past Rick and nearly knocked Michael out of the way.

Rick yelped, and Michael steadied himself, refusing to be deterred. He looked at Malick critically, even as Casey pulled out his knife.

“You sure about this?” Michael asked.

Casey’s eyes were on Billy, even as he pulled out his flask, pouring its contents over the blade. “We’re miles from medical help; there is no backup or extraction,” he said curtly. He turned his eyes to Michael, and they were red and wild. Desperate. “I don’t see any other choice.”

Rick had found his footing. “Any other choice about what?”

Michael’s jaw was tight. “You do this wrong...”

“What?” Casey asked, dabbing the blade dry. “I’ll desecrate his body? Billy’s already as good as dead.”

It was true. Michael’s eyes went down, settling on Billy. His face was blue now, lips almost purple. They were out of time. It could already be too late--

“Guys,” Rick interjected more forcefully now. “I don’t--”

He didn’t finish. He didn’t have to. Because Casey had leaned over Billy’s prone form, tilting his head back. He gauged the area, pouring on more alcohol over Billy’s exposed and distended throat.

Then he positioned the knife and cut.

Behind them, Rick gasped audibly. Michael’s stomach threatened to turn itself out, but he swallowed it back unforgivingly. Blood welled up from the incision, but Casey didn’t hesitate. Face blank, he pulled the skin apart, squinting as he dug the blade deeper.

“You have something to keep this open?” Casey asked, dipping the blade just so.

Michael fumbled, patting down his pockets. Behind him, Rick wavered. “Something to keep it open?” he repeated, a little feebly.

“A pen, a straw, tubing -- anything,” Casey snarled, keeping the knife in place.

Michael felt his phone and his wallet and--

“But I don’t understand,” Rick said.

“What’s not to understand?” Casey snapped, looking up with bright eyes. “I just cut a hole in Billy’s neck. Unless we get a tube in there to keep it open, then I’ve just cut up our teammate for my own damn satisfaction. So get me a damn tube.”

Then, Michael found it. “Got it,” he said, pulling out a pen. He bit the end hard, pulling it apart with his teeth and spitting the end away. Then he tapped it, pulling the tube out. Without waiting, he blew through it, clearing it out as best he could before snatching Casey’s discarded flask and cleaning it quickly. It wasn’t perfect -- and Michael knew the risks of infection -- but at this point, the risk was worth it.

Because Billy was lifeless. Billy was dead.

Without this, Billy was dead.

Resolved, Michael handed Casey the tube and the older operative took it without comment. His face was pinched now as he worked his fingers deftly, slipping the tube in right as he removed the knife. The skin closed around it, fresh blood still streaming out.

Michael stared as Casey held the tube in place. He stared at Billy’s unmoving features, his still chest. Behind him, Rick was retching. But Billy didn’t flinch; didn’t flicker.

Michael’s chest constricted. Casey locked his jaw. “Come on, damn it,” he muttered. “Come on, come on...”

But Billy didn’t move.

All this, and it might be too late.

It might be...

Michael shook his head, face scrunching up in desperation. He leaned down, pressing his ear to Billy’s chest. It was hard to hear -- the sound of his own heart so frantic -- but there it was. A distant thump. Then another.

Michael nearly sobbed, but he didn’t have that luxury. Billy didn’t have that luxury.

Instead, he sat up, moving closer toward Billy’s head. Mindful of Casey’s position, red-stained fingers holding the tube in place, Michael leaned down. He didn’t explain -- there wasn’t time -- and he didn’t have to. Casey kept steady and Michael blew through the tube.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Billy’s chest rise.

He breathed again, and the result was the same.

That meant there was hope. The tracheotomy had worked -- Casey had successfully cut into Billy’s windpipe and with the tube, they still had access to Billy’s lungs.

Billy could survive.

The sudden spring of hope was overwhelming, and Michael felt a giddy surge of adrenaline, even as he breathed twice more. He paused, watching; and when nothing happened, he tried again.

Because Billy’s heart was beating. Billy still had an airway. Billy wasn’t hanging by his neck. Billy was alive. He could come back from this.

They could all come back from this.

Rick was there again, hovering just above Michael’s shoulder. Casey was taut. Billy’s slack face didn’t flicker.

Michael ignored it all and breathed again, willing Billy’s lungs to respond.

Another breath.

Another moment.

Another hope.

This time, when Michael waited, there was a slight movement. Billy’s chest expanded and fell.

Michael froze, almost terrified to believe.

But then, Billy’s chest rose again.

Michael sat back on his heels, exhaling with a laugh and a sob. He took a moment -- just a single, tenuous moment -- to compose himself.

Because this wasn’t over.

There was Castillo and his warehouse, his men and his operation. There was Billy with a crushed neck, miles from help.

This was a long ways from over.

But Michael found his certainty again. He could do this.

He would.

Because there was simply no other option.


Billy was suspended.

He couldn’t feel the noose -- its coarse fibers digging into his skin -- but the pain was still there, constricting his neck and squeezing his airway, even as he dangled just below full awareness. He wanted to kick, to flail, to get away, but it was a useless endeavor.

Suspended. Between consciousness and dark, between life and death. Like a dying man on the end of a string, helpless and defeated.

And for the first time in Billy’s life, he seriously considered death as the better option.

Because everything hurt. The noose had stolen his breath and then wrested away his self control. It took his words and left him vulnerable and worthless; it stole everything. He was at the mercies of fate, be they cruel or kind.

It was no choice, therefore, when someone opened his eyes and blinded him. Once, twice. Then the other eye. And consciousness came crashing over him, jerking him back with an unexpected force.

He blinked, trying to make sense of it. The warehouse was gone; Michael and Rick and Casey were gone. There were people, gloved and masked and--

Hospital, Billy realized. He’d made it to a hospital.

The sudden revelation should have been reassuring. Most people hanged from the ceiling by angry criminals didn’t live to tell the story. There should have been satisfaction in that, that Castillo hadn’t won, that he’d underestimated them all.

There was talking all around him, but not at him. Someone fingered his neck and he opened his mouth to gasp--

But nothing happened.

Something was wrong.

Everything was wrong.

He was breathing but he wasn’t. He was awake but couldn’t move. He was trapped; caught; hanging by a thread.

Desperate, he tried to flail, bucking meagerly with all the strength he had left.

It wasn’t enough.

Eyes watering, he tried to make eye contact, still squirming when someone finally clamped down on his arm, leaning close, her eyes locked with his.

“Tranquilizate,” she said, voice muffled through the mask. “Te ayudamos.”

Billy knew Spanish, but couldn’t think up the translation. Couldn’t think of anything.

He needed to explain. What, he wasn’t sure, but it didn’t matter. He just needed to ask. He needed to speak. Words were his ally, his only comfort when things went wrong. They were his strength, his certainty, his only weapon when all else failed.

He took a shuddering breath, trembling in earnest as he wet his lips--

But nothing happened. There were no words.

There was nothing.

Panicked, Billy tried to swallow and nearly choked. He convulsed, a fresh terror spreading through him. This was wrong. This was very, very wrong. He’d been hanged and his friends weren’t here and he was alive but he didn’t know how.

He didn’t know anything.

The voices picked up, something warm radiated up his arm. He tried to hold on, to fight back, but it was too much.

He’d been wrong before. Maybe Castillo had won. Maybe he’d choked Billy to death.

Or maybe Billy had done it all on his own.

Either way, Billy had no choice but to give up the fight once again.


To say Michael was tired would be something of an understatement.

Michael was more exhausted. More than that, he was simply spent. It had taken every ounce of energy and control he had to get them this far, and now that they were here, in the hospital, his adrenaline was crashing and he was starting to face the real nature of their situation.

That Billy had been hanged.

His cover had been blown; he’d been snatched off the street, and strung up to die.

He nearly had died, too. If not for Casey’s quick thinking...

Michael shuddered, dropping his head into his trembling hands. They’d cut Billy down; they’d put in a temporary airway. They’d got him breathing and loaded him up, driving all the way back to town. Michael had been at the wheel, of course, because that was the only place he could think to be. But he’d watched the rearview mirror more than anything, turning it down so he could see Rick holding the thin tube in place, bracing himself against the seat with staunch features while Casey held Billy down, keeping one hand wrapped around Billy’s wrist to feel for his heartbeat.

And Billy didn’t move. He lay on the seat, legs folded at funny angles on the bench. One long arm was draped over his stomach while the other was lax over the edge of the seat, bouncing as Michael hit a rut in the road. His face was pale, lips still slightly blue, complexion even more ashen by the stark blood that stained his neck.

Needless to say, it had been a long drive. Maybe the longest of Michael’s life.

They’d made it, though. They’d got to the hospital, turned Billy over to the doctors and found themselves in a waiting room with nothing but outdated magazines in Spanish.

So Michael waited.

The most exhausting, soul-sucking waiting of his life. Every moment punctuated by the doubts -- what if he’d been faster, what if he’d pulled Billy out earlier, what if he’d gone home with the mission was actually over -- and laden with the responsibility. And haunted by that image of Billy, body limp, hanging from a rope...

Michael lifted his head, looking bleakly around the waiting room again, trying to take a breath. It hurt, but the air moved in and out. It was easy to take it for granted, except he could still remember how Billy had struggled, how nothing but part of a pen had kept Billy alive.

Pressing his lips together, Michael looked over at his other teammates. Rick looked wrecked, face still unnaturally pale as he sat listlessly in the chair next to Michael. He was staring at the wall and had done nothing more than blink since they’d got here. He looked younger than normal -- too young, really -- and Michael felt guilt churn in his gut for putting the kid in this position. Rick had been frozen when they’d found Billy, and Michael had done what was necessary to save Billy’s life, but he knew the burden of that initial inaction would be hard for an operative like Martinez to shake. He prided himself on his instincts, and in the face of losing one of his teammates the kid had been paralyzed. It was human and understandable, but Rick was too new to understand that and Michael was too weary to explain.

On his other side, Casey was expressionless, but his jaw was tight. He had not spoken since taking control back at the warehouse, and when the doctors had asked who had completed the emergency tracheotomy, he’d acknowledged his work and dared someone to question or criticize him. No one would, though. Casey had saved Billy’s life. To most people, Casey was remarkably unchanged by such a remarkable feat, but Michael could see the telltale signs of stress in Casey’s disposition. The tension in his shoulders, the rigidity of his posture. The almost inaudible hum pushed out through his nose.

He could call Langley. Hell, he probably should, but he’d been avoiding that since they went off the book last week. Still, no matter what unsanctioned work they’d done, Fay would help them sort it out with Higgins. Adele would run interference. Even Higgins, as much as he resented them, wouldn’t leave them hanging...

Michael winced at the choice of words. He suppressed the urge to shudder again and when he reached up his hand to run it through his hair, he was keenly aware of how badly he was trembling.

He dropped his hands, blowing out a breath. The silence was killing him -- no, the silence had almost killed Billy. He could still see Billy’s eyes bugging wide, his mouth open, but no words, no air moving--

He took another breath and straightened, glancing toward Martinez. “You okay, kid?” he asked.

It was a stupid question, but it was all Michael could do to keep the tremor out of his voice.

Rick seemed to flinch, blinking a few times as he turned his head toward Michael in surprise. “What?”

Michael persisted, mostly because it was too late to back out now. “You doing okay?” he asked again, a bit more gently now.

Rick took a stuttering breath, swallowing with effort. “I – think so,” he said. Then he shook his head. “No.”

Michael offered him a meager half smile. “Billy’ll be okay,” he said. “He’s been through worse.”

At that, Rick stared. “Really?” he asked, plain and disbelieving. “He’s been through worse?”

The kid had a point, but Michael wasn’t about to let the kid know that. Not just out of principle, but because the last thing Martinez needed was the truth at this point. “Maybe,” he said, shrugging a little. “We got there in time.”

He tried to sound convincing, but the lingering image of Billy with the noose around his neck...

Michael shook his head, glancing toward Casey. “And I’m impressed, Malick,” he said. “You’ve upped your game as a field medic.”

Casey scoffed, giving Michael a bitter look. “It’s basic anatomy,” he said. “And it’s really sort of the reverse of some imperative self defense techniques. Crushing the windpipe is just the reverse of salvaging it.”

It took effort to keep smiling. “Well, all the same,” he said, rallying his self control. “You were like a pro out there. Where have you practiced that?”

Casey’s face went tight again, and he seemed to pull into himself a bit. “I haven’t,” he said. “I happened to watch part of a MASH marathon last weekend, which, by the way, is one of the only television programs worth watching from the last fifty years. I figured if they talked nonprofessionals through it there, I could do it with my heightened fortitude and stability.”

Michael didn’t know whether to laugh or yell. Instead, he stared.

Behind him, Rick laughed, incredulous. “You cut into Billy’s through after watching an episode of MASH?”

“They were very thorough in their descriptions,” Casey defended.

“It’s a TV show,” Rick hissed.

“And it worked,” Casey shot back.

Rick flailed out an arm. “You could have killed him!”

“Oh, and you had a better plan?” Casey said sharply. “Standing there and doing nothing while Billy suffocated in total agony was so much better.”

Michael felt Rick start to spring and reached out his hand, clamping it down on the other man’s forearm. He looked at Casey, staring him down. Across the waiting room, the other people were watching them now and a nurse had stopped, eyeing them curiously.

Michael inhaled slowly, not releasing Rick’s arm or deviating his gaze. “We all did what we could,” he said, voice taut and low. “That’s as much as we can ask for.”

Casey didn’t speak, but the intensity of his gaze said enough. Rick’s fist clenched, but his posture eased.

Letting go of Rick’s wrist, he eased back a little. “We made it this far,” he said. “By working together. We can’t lose that now. For Billy.”

Rick had no protest; Casey had no objection.

It was a victory.

For whatever that was worth. Because Billy had still been hanged, and all they could do was wait.


This time, he came back slowly. Billy was first aware of the gnawing pain in his throat. It felt different somehow -- a little muted -- but nothing could eradicate the throbbing in its entirety. Though with the edge gone, he became keenly cognizant of how wrong it felt, like everything was out of place somehow.

Then he remembered the noose yanking him roughly off the ground and the mind-splitting agony.

There was no somehow about it. What they’d done to him...

He tried to swallow, and remembered too late how foolish the act was. His throat protested, and his body seized as he tried to breathe and ended up gagging instead. When he tried to move he found himself restrained, neck stiffly in place, chin forced almost painfully high.

Someone put a hand on his arm, warm and reassuring -- but foreign. Billy couldn’t recognize the smell, and it was too small, feminine.

He opened his eyes.

It was still bright, but perhaps not as glaring as it was before. It still took him a moment to adjust his vision, and another long moment after that to cope with the stunting pressure in his throat and the disturbing rise and fall of his chest even as air didn’t pass through his mouth. There were noises -- whirs and beeps -- but with the neck brace he found that he couldn’t even look to see.

With pain came fear, and when Billy found himself trembling again he wasn’t sure he could actually identify the cause. He reckoned this was better than swinging by his neck, but that had happened so fast, the darkness had come so quickly.

This was different. Long and uncertain and unsettling.

There was a woman by her side, still in scrubs but she was unmasked this time. “Senor Gillespie,” she said, her accent thick as she stumbled over his alias. “Do you know where you are?”

The English was cumbersome but thankfully understandable. Billy tracked her with his eyes as best he could from his position, and opened his mouth to speak before he remembered. The odd flow of air made him shudder and tears sprang to his eyes.

She squeezed again, her matronly face sympathetic. “You cannot speak,” she said. “Please, do not try.”

He furrowed his brow, trying to make sense of that. On the one hand, confirmation was appreciated. On the other, medical confirmation that he couldn’t speak was not exactly reassuring as to his condition.

“The rope did much damage,” she said, gesturing with her other hand to her own throat. “I am afraid that your trachea has been badly injured.”

Billy’s mind raced, a sweat breaking out on his forehead. His trachea. His windpipe. That small but ever so important bone that let him breathe--

Billy’s eyes burned, his throat itching. His neck was on fire and everything was hazy. He needed to breathe; he needed to--

“You currently have a surgical airway in your throat to keep your airway open,” she explained, slowly and carefully. “We have you hooked up to oxygen as a precaution while your vitals continue to stabilize.”

Stabilize. That was good. That had to be good.

They’d stabilized him by a surgical airway.

Billy was no doctor, but he understood the implications. They’d stabilized him by cutting a bloody hole in his throat and pushing oxygen through it.

The thought made his stomach roil and his cold sweat spread. His palms were balmy, sweat starting to slick his back where he was lying on the hospital gurney.

If he could speak, he’d crack a joke. Maybe try to flirt. Anything to divert attention from his obvious discomfort and mounting fear. The words could distract; the words could calm.

There were no bloody words.

He closed his mouth purposefully, and tried to keep himself still.

She pulled her hand away. “Is there someone we can talk to about your condition?” she asked.

It was instinct to open his mouth, regardless of what he’d just been told. Instinct to prattle off the names of his mate, aliases and all, as easy as he pleased. Talk about young Rick’s boyish complexion, mention Casey’s dour disposition. Explain Michael’s hair, sprouting more grays by the second while he sits inevitably idle in a waiting room.

No words.

The nurse was ahead of him, though, holding out a pen and paper.

Billy glanced down, feeling even more pathetic as he reached out shakily. The nurse had to assist him, scooting her chair closer as she helped get the pen in his hand and held the paper steady while he wrote in a sloppy scrawl.

When he was done, the nurse took the pen and looked at the pad. “These are your friends in the waiting room?” she asked.

Billy blinked a few times, offering her the faintest hint of a smile. He tried to work up a twinkle in his eye but found that he didn’t have it in him at the moment.

“Do you want us to explain your condition to them?”

Billy worked his jaw, wishing he could just tell her to explain everything they knew. They were like family, after all. They all had secrets, but not from each other. Not about this.

But his tacit agreement would have to suffice.

She smiled again, getting to her feet, busying herself as she put the call button next to Billy’s hand. “If you need anything--”

He’d know whom to call.

The push of a button. The scrawl of a pen. Considering that Billy had very nearly died, he reckoned he should feel lucky that he was alive at all.

The nurse left and Billy closed his eyes, trying to believe that was true.


In his mind, Michael had already reconstructed the sequence of events.

Castillo had suspected Billy all along, but probably had waited to trace more of Billy’s movements. They’d been careful, but Billy had probably been seen by someone with the hostages, so that had probably been that. It had been a risk all along, but a risk Michael had deemed acceptable at the time.

A risk that had compromised Billy. All of them, for that matter. Badly.

A street abduction was a risky choice, but he figured part of it was a power play. If Castillo suspected that Billy was working with outsiders, he’d probably suspect that Billy’s abduction wouldn’t go unnoticed. Which was also why he probably took Billy back to the warehouse, which would be the first place anyone would look.

It was also probably why the place had been low on staff and why Billy had been hanged.

It would, after all, be a telling message to whoever found Billy. A horrifying display of power and vengeance.

Billy hadn’t died, but the message was still one Michael was having a hard time shaking.

Castillo was good, but he was overconfident. He hadn’t suspected that they’d be able to follow Billy from the street and stage an immediate rescue. If they’d been any slower...

Well, that would have been bad. And they wouldn’t be in a hospital. They’d been transporting Billy back in a casket, trying their best to work through customs with a dead body.

As indelible as the image of Billy swinging limply by his neck, Michael could deduce fairly easily that he hadn’t been there long. Billy had been red faced and his eyes had started to bulge, but he hadn’t gone through the full fit of death throes that Michael had seen in other victims of hanging.

No, Billy had only been up for 10 or 20 seconds, and he hadn’t passed out from oxygen deprivation. More likely the noose had compressed his carotid artery, cutting off the flow of blood to the brain, and Billy had been out fast.

Which was why when they cut Billy down, he came back to. The blood flow had been restored and Billy had come to consciousness -- just in time to start succumbing to oxygen deprivation.

It could have been swelling, Michael knew, but Billy had gone under quickly -- and the distorted shape of his throat had been a telltale sign of trauma. When they’d jerked him up, they’d probably crushed his trachea, cutting off his airflow with or without the rope.

By the time Casey had reestablished the airway, Billy’s lungs had stopped trying to work, but his heart hadn’t quite given out. With a few rescue breaths, they had been able to restore breathing and Billy had survived the trip to the hospital.

Of course, that didn’t necessarily mean a lot. A lack of oxygen was always dangerous, and Billy had been nearly purple before they’d managed to oxygenate his brain. That could lead to damage. Irreparable damage.

And if the damage couldn’t be repaired, Billy could face other impairments as well. A broken trachea wasn’t like other broken bones. And if the arteries and vessels had been damaged--

Well, this could be far from over.

Michael knew that. He knew all of this.

But when the doctor explained it, it was still hard to hear.

The doctor hadn’t spoken English, but Rick’s Spanish was nearly flawless. He nodded seriously, eyes wide as the doctor delineated the facts, explaining the points slowly. When he was done, Rick nodded, face blank for a long moment.

“So?” Michael prompted. “How is he?”

“He’s alive,” Rick supplied, his voice sounding funny. “And stable for the moment.”

“Stable is good,” Michael said, trying to sound upbeat.

“What’s the but,” Casey interjected pointed.

Rick took a breath and let it out. “The rope -- it almost destroyed Billy’s throat,” he explained slowly. He swallowed painfully. “They’ll have to do major reconstructive surgery to repair the trachea and surrounding tissue.”

Michael kept himself still, very still, not trusting himself to move.

Casey snorted. “And we’re trusting these idiots?”

“This is the best hospital in the country,” Michael supplied quietly. He knew that, because he’d done his homework. For whatever that was worth now.

Rick nodded, blinking rapidly now. “They think they can repair it, but it’ll be a long surgery.”

“And if they can’t?” Michael asked.

Shrugging, Rick looked bleak. “Then he’ll have to have the trach permanently.”

Permanently. A hole in his neck for the rest of his life. The idea of it was almost impossible to understand. Impossible to accept.

The doctor interjected in rapid fire Spanish, nodding and gesturing a few times.

Rick nodded along with him, continuing. “While most of the damage is to the trachea, there also appears to be a fracture in the voice box.”

“Meaning what, exactly?” Michael prompted.

The doctor said something else, and Rick took a sharp breath. “It means he may never speak again.”

It seemed like it shouldn’t matter as much. They’d cut Billy down from a noose, after all. He’d almost watched Billy die. The fact that Billy was expected to live was supposed to be the important thing.

But Billy was a spy. He needed to breathe normally. The scars would be risk enough.

And this was Billy. He didn’t need words to charm most of the people he met, but words were Billy’s safety net. They were his greatest assets to talk marks into compromising positions, to talk his way out of danger, to pass the time on a long mission. He told stories, read poetry, sang songs. Without his voice...he’d hardly be Billy.

“He wants to see us,” Rick said.

Michael startled, looking at Rick in surprise. “He’s awake?”

Rick shrugged. “Yeah, I guess,” he said. “Apparently he’s asking for us.”

That was unexpected. But in a good way, for once.

“Okay, then,” he said, getting to his feet, finding his resolve once again. His eyes lingered on Rick, who still looked too young, and Casey, who still looked too blank, before he nodded again. “Let’s go see Billy.”


Being still had never been one of Billy’s strengths. Ever since he was a lad he’d been full of restless energy, prone to fidgeting and meddling, no matter where he was or what he was doing. It got him in trouble more often than not. He was often disciplined at school, and his da had never been fond of the way he bounced in and out of the house while football was on.

Becoming a spy had been a smart career move; that way he could use his energy and direct it to the greater good. Now when he fidgeted, he did so in the name of national security. All that energy was perfect for forging covers and sneaking into top secret locales without warranting nary a second glance.

But now, he had all that pent up energy and no way to expend it. Someone had put morphine in his drip, which had helped take the edge off the pain, but nothing could quite calm his ever-fraying nerves. Because he was stuck on his back, the brace keeping him securely in place. If he moved -- even the slightest flinch -- the tube in his throat pulled, and the tugging sensation was more than a little unpleasant.

It was irrational, Billy knew, but he couldn’t help but worry that one wrong move and the tube would fall out and he’d be unable to breathe again.

The thought made his stomach roil. The memory was strong and surreal, the pain and the pressure and the pressing need for air--

He blinked rapidly, staring at the ceiling and doing his best to regain control. He was an operative. A trained spy. He’d survived the bloody hanging. He could manage the hospital bed.

Except he wasn’t sure he was. In all honesty, he still felt like he was hanging, still twisting in the wind--

The door opened.

He heard the noise, but when he went to turn his head he met up with resistance from the intricate brace. He settled for darting his eyes in the general direction instead, but it was still several seconds before the familiar faces came into view.

Michael was first, but Rick and Casey weren’t far behind. It was such a relief -- a palpable, overwhelming relief -- that Billy almost felt the urge to cry.

Instead, he wanted to do what he did best -- to talk.

To say something cheery, to distinguish the situation with a joke. The tension was so ripe -- the mood was so primed -- Billy was the designated comic relief--

But with the tube, he had to smile instead.

Michael smiled back warmly, walking right up and standing close by so Billy didn’t have to strain to see him. He gripped Billy shoulder, the familiar squeeze the best thing he’d felt all day.

“Got yourself into a mess this time,” Michael mused.

Billy tried to shrug, but even that small motion was beyond his capacity. He worked his lips, mouthing sorry.

“Nah,” Michael said, wrinkling his nose. “Just be grateful you don’t have to be in the waiting room with Martinez and Malick.”

Billy blinked, eyes darting over Michael’s shoulder to where his other two teammates were standing. Rick looked a little scared; Casey looked terrifying.

Chest constricted, Billy found himself struggling to keep the air moving normally through his lungs.

Michael’s fingers squeezed again. “Just relax,” he said. “You’re fine. Doctor told us you’ll need some work done, but he sounded pretty upbeat from what I could tell.”

Billy dared to hope.

Michael jerked his head toward Rick. “Of course, I’m trusting Rick’s translation skills.”

It was a joke, an attempt to lighten the mood. Normally, that was Billy’s job, but all things considered....

Rick inched forward, looking down at Billy steadily. “They’re good here,” he said. “A little work, you’ll be out of...this, in no time.” He gestured vaguely to the brace and the tube.

Billy inhaled awkwardly, blinking rapidly, his only way to communicate that he understood.

“You feeling okay?” Michael asked.

Billy lifted his eyebrows. He was immobilized in a neck brace with a tube coming out of his neck. His windpipe had effectively been crushed by being strung up with force.

Michael smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, okay, point taken,” he murmured.

Billy tried to smile, tried to relax. He found both more than a little difficult.

“Hey,” Michael said, and he waited until Billy’s eyes locked on his again. “It really is going to be okay.”

Billy wanted to believe him, but when he tried to take a deep, steadying breath, all of his willpower wavered again. He tried to swallow, to shift, but the entire process was wrong, and all he could do was lie there helplessly while his friends watched on.

Michael glanced over toward the IV, nodding a little. “They got you on the good stuff.”

“Morphine,” Casey observed. “No wonder you’re a mess.”

Even Casey was trying, playing the part. Billy wanted to reply, but could only furrow his brow in mock indignation.

“Morphine’s probably the best thing for him,” Rick countered, somewhat oblivious.

“Sure, for the pain,” Michael said. “But Billy has never handled his pain meds overly well.”

“He can drink an entire liquor store, but the minute you get the happy juice flowing Billy’s an overly emotional idiot,” Casey said, shaking his head. Then he paused, thoughtful. “Then again, he’s always an overly emotional idiot, so maybe there’s not much change after all.”

That was enough to make Billy grin in earnest. It was an effort, but he lifted his hand. Even if he couldn’t see it, he held out his middle finger.

Rick laughed and Casey scowled.

Michael was grinning, patting him on the shoulder before finally letting go. “Glad to see this hasn’t hindered your sense of humor,” he mused.

“Or lack thereof,” Casey growled.

Michael shifted, face falling slightly. “So, Martinez tells me they’ll be taking you up for surgery here soon,” he explained.

Billy blinked a few times, trying to incline his head before he remembered the brace once again.

“The doctor sounded pretty good about it,” Rick said, stepping a little closer.

Billy tried to breathe deeply, wishing again he could speak. Because he’d heard platitudes. He wanted to know the truth.

“He deserves to know the full prognosis,” Casey said.

Billy glanced toward him gratefully.

Michael hesitated, but finally nodded. “They’ve got to do some reconstructive work on your trachea,” he said. “It sounds pretty crazy, but they’ve been doing these procedures for years. There’s every reason to believe they’ll repair the damage and you’ll heal up and we can get that tube out of your throat.”

That sounded good. That sounded really good.

Billy closed his eyes, working to control his emotions.

This time, it was Rick who squeezed his wrist, looking intently at Billy when he opened his eyes. “And we’ll be here the whole time,” he promised. “Right here when you wake up.”

Billy managed a small, wavering smile as he looked at them all in turn again. They were there, steady and unyielding. That counted for something. It counted for a lot. They’d cut him down; they’d saved his life; they’d still be here on the other side.

The tears burned again, and he wanted to curse in frustration. Casey was right; he couldn’t handle the drugs. But it was more than that. The vulnerability of being laid out and exposed. He had no means to cover himself, not even a wayward phrase to protect his shaken psyche and damaged body.

It was a lot to handle.

It was almost too much.

But with his team -- with his mates -- he had to think he could make it through.

At the very least, he had to hope, because the alternative was...

Well, the alternative didn’t bear talking about.

Not that Billy could talk at all.



Posted by: Lena7142 (lena7142)
Posted at: March 29th, 2013 02:50 am (UTC)

That hanging scene and the horror of it are so visceral... my heart leaps into my (suddenly sore) throat every time I read it. I find myself holding my breath. Your descriptions are so vivid, you never cease to amaze me. :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 31st, 2013 02:53 am (UTC)
billy considers

You are far too kind. I often feel like I'm full of complete nonsense and that people read my fic without totally thinking I'm a moron is a huge feat to me.

So thank you :) For making me feel way better than a moron.

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: March 29th, 2013 01:58 pm (UTC)

Not only is this another unique (and lovely, I might add) method of applying h/c to Billy, but you've even found a way to do silent/Billy that as he once said "cuts to the heart" of who Billy is, his words. It's so true and you can feel Billy's frustration at not being able to employ his craft and the palpable concern of the others at the mere idea of a forever silenced Billy, even Casey. Just perfect. Your descriptions of Billy's pain and immobilization had me swallowing hard and feeling a sore throat. Great detail.

Fave part:

“He can drink an entire liquor store, but the minute you get the happy juice flowing Billy’s an overly emotional idiot,” Casey said, shaking his head. Then he paused, thoughtful. “Then again, he’s always an overly emotional idiot, so maybe there’s not much change after all.”

That was enough to make Billy grin in earnest. It was an effort, but he lifted his hand. Even if he couldn’t see it, he held out his middle finger.

Rick laughed and Casey scowled.

Michael was grinning, patting him on the shoulder before finally letting go. “Glad to see this hasn’t hindered your sense of humor,” he mused.

“Or lack thereof,” Casey growled.

--sigh! There's a sense of normalcy and hope in this moment

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 31st, 2013 02:54 am (UTC)
billy bruised

I take pleasure in finding new methods of hurting characters and this was a fun one to explore. The idea of taking Billy's voice is a cruel thing, and it made for a different sort of fic as you'll see in the subsequent parts.


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