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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Chaos ficlet: Three Minutes and Forty-Five Seconds (1/1)

August 6th, 2014 (07:15 pm)
exanimate

feeling: exanimate

Title: Three Minutes and Forty-Five Seconds

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: Nothing new here, I’m afraid. Beta thanks to sockie1000. And thanks to anyone who’s still reading this fandom! My muse can’t let these boys go.

Summary: Casey can’t defy the inevitable.



-o-

Casey can hold his breath for three minutes and forty-five seconds. This is not his most impressive feat. In fact, he finds the numbers paltry and hardly fitting for a man of his skills and talent. But he’s always thought that holding his breath was one of the least practical survival skills available. In three minutes and forty-five seconds, he would have plenty of time to escape any prison, underwater or airtight, and it would be ample time to disable any attackers in the process. It would be enough time to feign death and achieve freedom. It would be enough time to save himself.

He’d thought that would be all that matters.

Now, diving beneath the flaming wreck of their mark’s ship, he realizes it’s not enough. Lungs burning, he turns to the surface. He takes a heaving breath disdainfully, treading water as he tries to get his bearings. The entire thing had been a trap, and he can still see the small jet ski in the distance as their mark tries to get away. As far as plans go, it wasn’t the worst one Casey had ever seen. To blow up possible turncoats in an operation while subsequently faking your own death is a good way to get a fresh start.

Except for the police net that Casey knows Michael has had in place since Billy set off their distress beacon.

But that’s not really Casey’s concern right now.

No, Casey’s concern is the fact that Billy never surfaced after the explosion. Which means Billy’s somewhere underwater. And Casey can hold his breath for three minutes and forty-five seconds and none of it means a damn thing because Billy can’t.

Billy can’t.

Which means…

Locking his jaw, Casey blinks the salt water out of his eyes and takes another sharp breath. He dives under again, moving in the opposite direction. Wreckage is floating freely, some of it sinking, some of it not, making it excessively difficult to navigate the underwater gloom. He kicks, propelling himself deeper into the water. The sun grows distant and Casey’s ears start to pop. He can feel the pressure start to build in his chest, and the nagging desire to breathe presses on him again.

He won’t give in, though. He kicks again, following the debris trail farther. Whatever type of explosive had been used, it had been effective with a widespread pattern. Debris is everywhere, spread wide and getting wider. There’s too much area to cover, and Casey’s been underwater for three minutes again…

But then, he sees a strange silhouette, farther to the left and floating in the dimness. It could be a hallucination -- visual impairments brought on by oxygen deprivation -- but Casey knows better.

With a powerful kick, he moves forward, making a straight light to the figure. As he gets closer, he sees around a chunk of the boat to the human-shaped shadow--

Three minutes and forty-five seconds comes and goes, and Casey feels it with a desperate pitch in his head. Everything hurts and his vision is spotting, but he can’t stop.

Three minutes, four minutes, as many as it takes to get Billy.

He holds his breath viciously, straining against the impending darkness as his arm reaches around Billy and pulls the lax form close. With the contact, Casey stops his mental clock and kicks to the surface.

Bubbles stream from his mouth and his limbs feel dead and heavy. His ears are ringing; his heart is pounding and he keeps his hand locked tight around Billy.

The sun is approaching, closer and closer and--

Casey inhales before he even realizes he’s at the surface, sucking in greedily with every ounce of strength he doesn’t have. The sunlight is blinding him, but it takes several more breaths before he’s able to realize he’s face up toward the sun.

He’s alive.

He’s okay.

He turns his head, looking to his clenched fist. Billy’s still in his grasp, floating head down in the water next to him.

And that’s not okay.

Frantic, Casey rolls Billy over, supporting the taller man against his chest while Billy’s head lolls backward. The waves lap against them, and Casey reaches his deadened fingers up to feel for a pulse.

It’s a stupid thing to do. Billy was underwater for far longer than three minutes and forty-five seconds. And the chances are that he entered the water unconscious, which means he drowned within a minute. This means that Billy’s heart stopped beating at least five minutes ago.

This means that Billy is dead.

The certainty of this realization comes with another horrible truth. There’s nothing Casey can do. Alone in the water, Casey could administer rescue breathing but there’s no way to administer CPR. He needs a stable surface, or at least a flat surface, and Casey has nothing.

Desperate, he turns back to the flaming ship. There’s some of it left on the surface, but the hulk is charred and smoldering. The largest pieces of debris on the surface would make an acceptable life raft, but there’s no way they would support him while doing chest compressions.

Casey is faced with the daunting reality that Billy is dead.

That he’s been dead for three minutes and forty-five seconds.

And there’s no going back.

The waves are choppier suddenly, and as they buoy Casey, it’s all he can do to keep hold of Billy. It’s only a second later that he realizes that the rushing in his ears is no longer his heart.

He turns and sees the boat approaching.

He doesn’t have to ask. He doesn’t have to guess. Instead, he starts to swim. His exhausted muscles protest, but he ignores it. He pulls Billy along with him, holding his lifeless body up to the boat as it comes to a stop and a pair of hands reach down.

“Come on, come on,” Casey mutters. “He’s not breathing.”

When Billy disappears, Casey’s reaching up to pull himself over but he’s met with a hand. Surprised, he takes it, fumbling over the ledge gracelessly while Rick watches.

Billy is laid out on the deck, water dripping from his blue lips while Michael kneels beside him and offers two breaths. He pauses, looking at Casey just long enough to ask, “How long?”

Three minutes and forty-five seconds. Times two.

He shakes his head, though. “Long enough.”

Michael’s face is grim as he moves over to Billy chest and starts compressions. Rick has already moved to Billy’s other side, waiting for Michael to pause just enough to give two more breaths.

The pace of CPR is fast and constant, just like it needs to be. They’re all well prepared; they’re all good.

Casey sits, still dripping on the deck, as he watches Billy’s lifeless features jerk unresponsively to the ministrations.

Casey is counting again, the clock starting again. At a minute, Michael starts to sweat. At two minutes, Rick starts to look sick. At three minutes, they exchange a glance.

Chest tight, Casey can feel the pressure building. He’s holding his breath again, willing Billy to breathe, begging him to make this better. Casey can hold his breath for three minutes and forty-five seconds, but that’s not his most impressive feat.

No, his most impressive feat is having a team he cares about and who cares about him. His most important successes have always been bringing his team home safely.

And that’s all that matters.

Casey can’t defy the inevitable, though. The need for oxygen is too much, and he nearly explodes for a gaping gulp of air. He breaks, almost on a sob, inhaling so raggedly that he feels like something broke inside.

And then, over the pounding in his ears, he hears it.

The sound of breathing.

The sound of coughing and spluttering.

Shocked, Casey looks up. Michael has Billy rolled on his side and the other operative is curled up protectively while he retches on seawater.

For a second, Casey thinks it’s a hallucination, a visual impairment brought on by oxygen deprivation, but then Michael hoists Billy up against him and the Scotsman opens his eyes.

Tired, weary, still a little blue, he coughs again and looks straight at Casey. “Reckon I might need to brush up on my swimming--” He cuts off with a wince, swallowing in obvious pain. “--bloody hell, that hurts.”

Casey wants to smile; he wants to cry.

Ultimately, he does neither. “For both of us, I think,” he says.

Billy nods slightly, collapsing back further against Michael in total exhaustion. He’s still breathing, though. He’s okay.

Because three minutes and forty-five second is impressive.

But Casey knows that the rest of their lives matters a whole hell of a lot more.

Comments

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: August 8th, 2014 09:47 am (UTC)
Stephen Clouds


Yay for Casey! And Billy may be able to TALK underwater, but not breathe underwater (well, unless he followed his lookalike cousin into freediving *G*), so I'm glad that Casey was on the job.

That mark is really really gonna regret what he did...

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 11th, 2014 02:19 am (UTC)
happy rick

Hah, a crossover with Phoenix Blue. Now that would be a new one.

LOL, now I'm amused.

Thanks!

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: August 16th, 2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
Repeating myself

At the risk of repeating myself, nothing beats Billy and Casey h/c. You have them nailed perfectly. The bond between them is so strong and yet needs no elaboration. It's all in their actions especially for Casey who isn't overtly emotional let alone affectionate, but his life saving actions reveals everything. You do them so well that it's a joy to read.

Fave part:

For a second, Casey thinks it’s a hallucination, a visual impairment brought on by oxygen deprivation, but then Michael hoists Billy up against him and the Scotsman opens his eyes.

Tired, weary, still a little blue, he coughs again and looks straight at Casey. “Reckon I might need to brush up on my swimming--” He cuts off with a wince, swallowing in obvious pain. “--bloody hell, that hurts.”

Casey wants to smile; he wants to cry.

Ultimately, he does neither. “For both of us, I think,” he says.

Billy nods slightly, collapsing back further against Michael in total exhaustion. He’s still breathing, though. He’s okay.

Because three minutes and forty-five second is impressive.

But Casey knows that the rest of their lives matters a whole hell of a lot more.

-just lovely!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 21st, 2014 01:45 am (UTC)
Re: Repeating myself
billy casey trouble

I'm glad you don't grow weary of my repetitive h/c. LOL, my muse likes what it likes.

Thanks!

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