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Chaos ficlet: Life Signs (1/1)

October 10th, 2013 (06:39 am)
Tags: , ,

feeling: anxious

Title: Life Signs

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: For my hc_bingo card. Prompt is arrest. Beta thanks to sockie1000.

Summary: Right now, he has to save Billy’s life.


The heart has an internal electrical system that controls the rhythm of the heartbeat.

Michael knows this from his pre-med biology class. He aced that class, breezed through the tests. Hell, he practically memorized the textbook after three days in the class and pissed the teacher off by sitting in the back and answering every question before she finished asking it. He can point out all the chambers of the heart and describe the motion to a T. He knows it like the steady beating of his own heart -- thump, thump, thump -- ever present in his chest.

He knows this like the haunting stillness of Billy’s -- dead and flaccid -- void beneath his skin.

Problems can cause abnormal heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. There are many types of arrhythmia. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or it can stop beating.

This sort of thing doesn’t just happen. Billy’s young enough, and he’s healthy. He eats like crap, and he drinks too hard, but he’s got a damn Scottish constitution that serves him well. Plus, the Agency doesn’t let field operatives go out with known defects. That’d be stupid; that’d be reckless. Billy’s healthy. He’s not going to keel over and die just because.

Except, lying slack and pale on the floor in front of Michael, it seems like he just has.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart develops an arrhythmia that causes it to stop beating. This is different than a heart attack, where the heart usually continues to beat but blood flow to the heart is blocked.

Not a heart attack, then. That’d be pretty damn coincidental in their line of work, to be tracking members of the Russian mob just to die near the end of a mission from a clogged artery or a burst vessel in the brain. That sort of thing doesn’t happen.

No, Billy hasn’t had a heart attack, at least not naturally. If he looks, maybe he could find an injection site. Maybe if he thinks, he could recall some place where his food could have been compromised.

But Billy doesn’t have time for that.

There are many possible causes of SCA. They include coronary heart disease, physical stress, and some inherited disorders. Sometimes there is no known cause for the SCA.

The reasons don’t matter. Michael will figure out the reasons later, just like he’ll figure out how to save this mission, how to get his team home, how to make sure this never happens again.

Right now, he has to save Billy’s life.

Without medical attention, the person will die within a few minutes.

Michael knows CPR just like he knows biology. He knows the science behind it, the carefully crafted motions. Find the sternum and depress the chest. Press hard and fast; speed is just as important as placement. The blood has to circulate, and people don’t give the heart enough credit -- it’s a hard job.

He stops, pausing long enough to pinch Billy’s nose and breathe into his mouth.

Then he positions himself at Billy’s chest and keeps going.

People are less likely to die if they have early defibrillation.

The problem is, this is a stopgap. It’s a short term solution. He can artificially pump the blood through Billy’s body; he can temporarily give air to Billy’s brain, but people come back to life way less than they drop dead.

He can’t stop, though. Because then there’ll be nothing left of Billy to save.

And then he hears footsteps. Not as reassuring as a beating heart, but pretty damn close. Casey’s steps are soft and steady. Rick is running flat-footed and hard.

“Oh my God,” Rick says.

“Tell me what you need,” Casey says over him.

“Defibrillator,” Michael huffs, pounding on Billy’s chest. The rib cage moves, something cracks and Michael keeps going. “Now.

Defibrillation sends an electric shock to restore the heart rhythm to normal.

Rick may be crying. Casey is yelling. There are footsteps and somewhere, wood splinters and metal screeches.

Michael doesn’t look up.

He keeps moving, ignoring the way his arms are starting to burn and the tightness in his own chest. Beneath his touch, Billy’s face is grey, his lips starting to turn blue. Billy’s dying.

No, Billy’s already dead.

The realization is wrenching, and Michael’s arms almost give out as he chokes on a sob. He falters mid compression, head dropping down to Billy’s lifeless chest as he can’t hold back the tears.

Billy’s heart’s not beating; Billy’s not breathing; Billy’s dead.

You should give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to a person having SCA until defibrillation can be done.

Then someone is pulling him away. He’s too tired to fight, and he all but falls into Rick’s arms as Casey goes to his knees next to Billy and rips the Scot’s shirt open. There’s still no sign of life as Casey hastily slaps on the pads and presses the button on the defibrillator. The machine whirs and the voice talks.

Casey sits back on his heels and there’s a jolt--

Billy arches off the ground before going still.

There’s another whine and a jolt--

And Billy goes still.

Michael’s own heart stutters, his breath catching.

Then there’s one last jolt--

And Billy’s body arches and curls, his mouth opening as he sucks in a ragged, wheezing, horrible breath.

It’s the best sound Michael’s ever heard.

Frantic, Michael pulls away, scrambling back to Billy’s side. His fingers are trembling too bad to be of any use, so he drops down, putting his head on Billy’s chest and listening.

There it is.

The sound of life. The sound of relief. The sound of possibility.

The sound of a beating heart.


Portions in italics were used from this website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/cardiacarrest.html


Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: October 11th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)

You sure have a penchant for deliciously helpless and silent Billy and the compounded anxiety of the team is palpable here and I am lapping it all up! You're the only one who could get away with no suffering on Billy's part. HAHAHAHA! Or just silent suffering anyway.

Fave part:

Billy arches off the ground before going still.

There’s another whine and a jolt--

And Billy goes still.

Michael’s own heart stutters, his breath catching.

Then there’s one last jolt--

And Billy’s body arches and curls, his mouth opening as he sucks in a ragged, wheezing, horrible breath.

It’s the best sound Michael’s ever heard.

--I held my breath here with Michael. Terrific!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 28th, 2013 02:16 am (UTC)
billy knows

Heh, silent Billy is something that happens in my fics quite often :) I'll leave his talking anguish to you!


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