do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth) wrote,
do i dare or do i dare?

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Chaos fic: Running on Empty (1/1)

Title: Running on Empty

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos. Seriously. At this point, do you think anyone is confused about that?

A/N: Written for my h/c bingo card. Prompt is “low blood sugar.” With thanks to lena7142 for the beta.

Summary: Billy is on a stakeout that goes less than perfectly.


“It starts with two CIA agents in a van,” Billy says with as much gusto as he can muster. He lifts a hand, gesturing to an imagined scene. “Two noble agents with stalwart hearts and unquestionable dedication, risking life and limb on the unfriendly streets of Moscow.”

Rick makes a face. “No matter how you spin it, I still think it sucks.”

“But we’re doing hero’s work!” Billy insists, arms going wide -- or as wide as possible until he hits the sides of the small, boxed in interior. “We have high tech equipment while we track one of the most notorious criminals in the world.”

“We’re watching someone wanted for tax evasion while tapped into a single security camera,” Rick counters. “And we can’t even use the air conditioning while we wait to see if he happens to stop by a bank.”

“A move which would crack the entire case wide open!”

“It’s probably not going to happen,” Rick says dourly. “This is Higgins’ retribution for Ecuador last month.”

“All the more reason to make the most of it!” Billy says grandly.

Rick slumps. “I feel like dying.”

Billy frowns. “Well, that’s a bit melodramatic, even for me.”

Rick’s eyes go wide, and he shakes his head as he grips his stomach. “No, I mean, I really may be dying.”

Billy cocks his head.

Rick goes pale. “The goulash!” he says, lunging for the door. “Oh--”

He flings it open, and Billy can hear the hurling. He winces sympathetically but makes no move to help. “I knew I made the right choice with the borscht.”

Rick pauses and then wretches again.

“Never fear, Rick!” Billy croons. “Hero’s work!”

Convulsing, Rick takes a moment to give Billy the finger.


Billy isn’t about to clean up Rick’s vomit, but he does call Michael before Rick’s even done emptying his stomach. By the time the lad pulls the door shut and slumps miserably against one of the consoles, Michael’s on his way.

“I know it can be tempting, but never over exert yourself while dining in Russia,” Billy says gently but knowingly.

Rick glares at him. “You live on potato chips and beer,” he mutters. “Who are you to talk?”

“At home, yes,” Billy says. “And I have a few staple dishes I turn to while abroad, but in general I’m very careful.”

“You’re giving me an I told you so lecture?” Rick asks incredulously. “Really?”

Billy shrugs slightly. “Consider it a friendly tip,” he says. “Because believe me, I’ve been there. And you do not want to be in need of a toilet while traveling with Casey Malick through the Congo.”

Rick looks uncertain. Then his face darkens. Then he pales, opens the van door and starts up again.


When Michael arrives, he’s kind enough to have Casey in tow, although they have to remind Casey that making Rick walk to the hotel defeats the purpose. Michael handles the transition and Billy keeps a keen eye on the monitor, in the off chance their mark decides to live up to Higgins’ trumped up mission objective. It’s not a fool’s errand exactly, but it is a job that the ODS is well overqualified for.

“Still no excitement?” Michael asks, settling in Rick’s abandoned seat.

“Nary a movement, unless you count Rick’s stomach,” Billy reports.

Michael makes a small face. “What did you guys eat anyway?”

“Local place, very nice,” Billy says.

“You had it, too?” Michael asks with concern.

“Barely a sampling,” Billy reports. “I imagine you’ll hear my stomach growling before long.”

“Well, keep it under control,” Michael orders. “No way I’m sharing a meal with you in here.”

“You’d deny me nourishment?” Billy asks with feigned hurt.

“Hell yeah,” Michael says, looking over the monitor. “Listening to you slurp coffee every day is bad enough, I’m not going to watch you make a mess of yourself in a confined space.”

“You are a cruel man, Michael Dorset,” Billy says.

Michael smirks. “Proudly.”


They’re on five hour shifts. It’s a bit long, in truth, but they all hate the surveillance so much that it had seemed like a fair trade off.

At least until Billy is sitting there after nine hours, trying to keep himself from going stark raving mad.

He’s a bit jittery, if he’s honest. And his long legs can’t even stretch the full width of the van, which makes him feel vaguely claustrophobic. He likes Michael -- he really does -- but the man can be sour company when he’s utterly focused.

Which, of course he is. Only Michael Dorset could be totally enthralled by a mission that was below their paygrade. Metaphorically speaking. Billy hated to think how people made enough money to survive paycheck to paycheck below his literal paygrade.

He’s been good overall, but by the last hour, Billy’s tapping his feet and sighing heavily, fidgeting in his chair.

Michael looks at him critically. “Someplace you need to be?”

“Out of here, mostly,” Billy says, ignoring a pang of hunger as his stomach growls.

Michael checks his watch. “It’s almost shift change,” he says. Then he chews his lip, glancing at his paperwork. “I’m also due to call into Langley.”

Billy shrugs. “Do whatever you want,” he says. “I intend to use my time off sleeping, eating and showering, not necessarily in that order.”

“No,” Michael says. “I mean, I have to call Langley. I’ve got a meeting I have to sit in on.”

“So?” Billy asks.

“So, I can’t do it from the van,” Michael says. “The interference would be killer and it would be too likely to draw attention to us.”

Billy shakes his head. “I’m still not--”

Michael sighs. “You’ve got to stay,” he says. “You’ll have to take next shift with Casey.”

Billy’s mouth drops open. “But that’ll be fifteen hours!”

“I’ll swing back early if I can,” Michael promises.

“Fifteen hours!”

“Hey, I have to conference call with Higgins,” Michael protests.

“Fifteen hours!”

Michael has the decency to look sheepish. “At least you don’t have the stomach flu, right?”


Casey arrives with no fuss. He sits down and promptly tells Billy that they’re there to work. “So no stories, no idle chit chat. We sit; we observe. Nothing else.”

Billy furrows his brow. “That sounds rather boring.”

“It’s surveillance work,” Casey mutters. “It’s not meant to be exciting.”

“I’m just saying it seems unduly boring,” Billy clarifies. “For us.”

Casey just glares at him.

“What about our camaraderie?” Billy asks.

“You seem to be confusing me with someone who enjoys such things,” Casey says sullenly.

“If I recall, you were the one who was insulted by my silence in North Korea,” Billy reminds him.

“That was the cold in North Korea,” Casey replies. “This is a van in Russia. I hate Russia. North Korea is a scintillating challenge. Russians...” He scowls. “There is never anything fun in Russia.”

Sitting back with a pout, Billy fiddles with his shirt. “I’m starting to agree.”


It’s only four hours when Michael shows up again, and Billy’s so relieved that he’s already halfway out the door when Michael stops him. “Wait,” he says.

Billy pauses. “Wait?”

Michael purses his lips and he looks regretful.

Billy’s stomach plunges, and for a second, he actually feels lightheaded while the blood tingles in his hands.

“We may have another lead,” Michael says.

Billy is hesitant. “That’s good, right?”

“Yeah,” Michael says. “Except it’s one of Casey’s contacts.”

“Sergei?” Casey interjects.

Michael nods. “Yeah.”

“That’s great,” Billy says. “So we can move the mission along for everyone--”

“He will only meet now,” Michael interrupts.

Billy stops and stares.

“And only with Casey,” he continues.

Billy swallows, fighting the irrational urge to cry. “Another shift?” he asks, feeling suddenly desperate.

“Or more,” Casey says. “Sergei isn’t quite local.”

Billy looks at Michael in desperation. “What about Rick?” he asks.

“The kid’s still puking every three hours,” Michael says.

“So shouldn’t someone stay with him?” Billy suggests.

Michael shakes his head. “You know protocol,” he says. “We need two people here at all times.”

“We break rules all the time,” Billy says.

“Not the ones that matter,” Michael says. “And Higgins is already on our backs for that snafu in Ecuador.”

For a moment, Billy wants to object more forcefully. In truth, he wants to throw a fit like a petulant toddler. He wants to ball his fists and stamp his feet.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter.

There’s a mission to be done. Billy’s part of the team. Sure, he’s tired and he’s hungry. Yes, he’s irritable and restless.

But he’s a spy.

He can power through.

He will.

With a weary sigh, Billy climbs back in and sits back down. “I should have eaten the damn goulash.”


Billy can’t sit still.

He’s trying -- he really is -- but he feels like he’s suffocating. He’s never much liked closed spaces, but van interiors have never been a problem.

But then, he’s also a bit sleep deprived at the moment.

And hungry.

His stomach rumbles again.

Michael gives him a look. “You need something to eat?”

His instincts are yes, please, or I’ll devour the tie off your neck, but his stomach turns slightly and he feels somewhat queasy. Suddenly, food doesn’t sound like the end all, be all.

And he thinks of Rick, curled up and vomiting. Billy doesn’t like to vomit.

Billy doesn’t like a lot of things.

Like poetry elitists, who think poems that rhyme are somehow inferior to free verse. Like big tobacco companies marketing to children, the bastards. Like NASA losing funding when there’s still Saturday mail.

He frowns. What is he thinking about again?

“Billy?” Michael’s voice cuts in. “You okay?”

Billy blinks rapidly and regains his composure. “I’m stuck in a van for almost 20 hours,” he says. “What do you think?”

Michael grins. “Just making sure.”


Billy watches the monitor. But all the people start to look the same. Their faces are all fuzzy and their coats make them look vaguely like walking kidney beans.

He doesn’t like kidney beans.

He usually likes people, but people as kidney beans is perhaps not the best thing. Then, some of them seem to have horns and then sometimes his vision blurs that he has to blink and rub his eyes to see anything at all.

Thirsty, he gropes for his bottle of water and downs the last drop. It does nothing to settle his stomach. It doesn’t even help clear his vision. Maybe he has the flu after all.

He considers telling Michael that, but the other man is so focused. Michael’s always so focused, and really, what’s the point? Billy just has to make it a little longer. Just a little longer and then he can sleep.

He can get out of this van and he can eat and he can use a proper toilet and mostly he can sleep.

Soon, Billy tries to tell himself even though he has no idea what time it is. Very, very soon.


When Casey comes back, Billy is so grateful that he nearly hugs the other man. He stops himself short, though, and is still smiling stupidly when Casey glares back.

There’s nothing atypical about that, except that it seems a bit rude.

It is a bit rude.

Billy’s taken more than his share of turns and he’s tired and hungry and Casey wants to glare?

Then, Casey frowns. “Are you okay, Collins?”

Billy snorts. “Now you ask.”

“I just got here,” Casey says.

“Because I took your turn,” Billy replies tersely.

“My call,” Michael throws in. “We’ll give you an extra bit of time off when Rick’s up and running.”

“Oh, and like it’ll matter then,” Billy snaps.

“Your whining is unnecessary,” Casey says. “If you weren’t leaving, I would throw you out unceremoniously on your ass.”

Billy grunts, bolstering his stance by puffing out his chest.

His chest -- his heart is pounding.

He blinks a few times and gets his bearings and stares down his nose at Casey. “I’d like to see you try.”

Casey’s face screws up in confusion. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Billy flings his arm wide, smacking the wall again. He hears a hysterical laugh, and he realizes that it’s his. “I’m fine,” he says, voice hitching unevenly as his vision goes blurry again. This time, when he blinks, it doesn’t improve anything. “I’m just bloody fine.

He takes a step forward, but stumbles. Casey reaches out to steady him, and Billy recoils, flailing wildly away from the touch. He has no control over his momentum, and he tumbles, falling into the console before trying to right himself. He overcompensates and staggers, and even as he uses his arms to steady himself, his knees start to go weak and his vision dims.

And really, that’s all there is.


It’s hazy, and Billy is aware enough only to know he’s not aware at all. There are voices over his head, and someone touches him. His eyelid is peeled back, and he startles, blinking wildly as he looks up into Michael’s eyes.

“Hey,” Michael says, brow knitted in what seems like concern. “I need you to sit up.”

Billy is going to protest, but his mouth isn’t working, and his teammates don’t actually care about his opinion. He’s hoisted up and propped back, and the scent of the body supporting him is familiar and rigid -- Casey.

Billy’s so busy processing that that he doesn’t see the bottle of juice until it’s pressed to his lips. His mouth is flooded with liquid, sugary and sweet, and he coughs and chokes. It splutters down his chin, and Michael frowns deeply as he tips the bottle up again. “Come on, Billy,” he cajoles. “Do this one for me.”

Billy’s already done more than his share of favors on this mission. Billy’s given his teammates everything they want -- and then some.

The thought leaves him indignant.

But there’s no reason to stop now.

This time, the liquid seeps in and Billy controls it, swallowing awkwardly and almost choking, body bucking slightly against Casey, who holds him steady. It’s embarrassing, really. To be held like a child, to be nursed like a baby. He doesn’t know what’s wrong -- but he knows he’d do anything for his team.

Just like they’d do anything for him.


It’s a bit vague after that. He drinks the juice, and he eats the candy bar Michael all but force feeds him. His stomach sounds noisily, and as he’s brought to his feet, things go dark again. He can’t feel his hands or feet; his head is fuzzy. There’s movement, but Billy can’t control it so he doesn’t even try. He gives up, because what choice does he have?

Billy does what he has to do. He’s used to having no choices.

It’s okay this time.

It’ll be okay.

His heart is thrumming in his ears, and Billy slips away.


When he comes to, the first thing he realizes is that he’s not in the van.

The ceiling above him is stained and too low, but it’s not the van.

Billy is almost overjoyed.

The joy is somewhat short lived when he tries to sit up and fails miserably. He’s interminably weak, and as it is, turning his head is a magnificent feat.

“Hey,” Rick says from where he seems to have been sitting vigil

Billy gives him a scrutinizing look. “Don’t you have the stomach flu?”

Rick blushes. “Haven’t puked in five hours,” he says. “Besides, you’re the one who gave us a scare.”

Billy tilts his head.

“You didn’t eat,” Rick explains. “You didn’t sleep. Did you even drink?”

Billy tries to remember, but the act of thinking is a bit much for him. “I honestly don’t recall.”

Rick rolls his eyes. “Figures,” he says.

“But what happened?” Billy persists.

Rick sighs. “You didn’t eat for a day,” he says. “Best we can figure is that your blood sugar levels crashed, and you passed out. Why didn’t you tell us?”

Considering this, Billy’s not sure what to say. “Reckon I didn’t quite notice,” he says. “Everyone ate in their off shifts.”

“But you didn’t have an off shift,” Rick says, the note of guilt unmistakable. “You need to take care of yourself better.”

Billy grins impishly. “You mean by eating more goulash?”

Rick pales again. “No,” he says. “But by telling us what we need to do. We’re a team, right?”

“I certainly hope so,” Billy says.

“So don’t cover for us at your own expense,” Rick says. “I mean, you’ve been out of it for nearly six hours now. Who do you think is stuck in the van?”

Billy sits up a bit at that. “Michael and Casey? Are they--?”

“Fine,” Rick says. “And still no sign of the mark. Plus, they’re both eating.”

Blushing, Billy settles back into the pillows. “It wasn’t deliberate,” he says by way of an apology.

Rick’s expression softens. “That doesn’t make it better,” he says. “We almost had to take you to the hospital.”

“Well,” Billy says as seriously as he could. “If you hadn’t eaten the goulash and got the stomach flu--”

Rick’s mouth drops. “Really?” he asks. “Another lecture? After I spent the last few hours nursing you back to health?”

Billy raises his eyebrows. “If you gave me the stomach flu...”

Rick groans, throwing his hands up. “I should have just taken you to the hospital,” he mutters. “So you could have died without annoying me.”

“Aw,” Billy says. “You wouldn’t do that.”

“No, but I’d want to,” Rick says.

Billy grins. “I doubt that.”

Scowling, Rick moves and lifts up a bottle. “Here,” he says, getting to his feet as he hands the bottle, complete with straw to Billy. “Drink this.”

Billy obeys with a sip, but asks, “Where are you going?”

“To order in,” Rick says. He smiles. “You still haven’t eaten much.”

“And I’m trusting you to pick the menu?” Billy asks.

Rick snorts. “I’ve learned my lesson, I think.”

As Rick retreats, Billy thinks he’s learned his, too. Not about eating in Russia or managing blood sugar. But about teammates and friendship, about doing what’s necessary because his team is worth.

He settles back, stomach still feeling strange. His fingers are hard to move, and the liquid tastes bitter in his mouth even as he forces a swallow.

They are more than worth it.

Tags: chaos, fic, h/c
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