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Baywatch fic: One Month and Counting (1/2)

December 21st, 2018 (10:06 pm)

Title: One Month and Counting

Rating: M

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: Fills my exhaustion square for hc_bingo. Unbeta’ed.

Summary: Because it’s only been a month. Brody still has plenty of time to screw crap up.


Brody has been a full fledged member of Baywatch for exactly a month.

Brody knows this because he’s keeping track. It’s a thing he does, almost without meaning to. He always keeps track of how long he’s in a single place. This can probably be traced to his time as a foster kid, when he was always counting the days and weeks like they somehow proved that he was worth something.

And also because the longer he was in one place, the more anxious he was about the inevitable change to come. Because in Brody’s life, nothing was constant.


Mitch says Baywatch is different. Mitch says Baywatch is a way of life, not a job. Mitch says it’s family.

But Mitch also said once that Brody was a selfish bastard who didn’t know the meaning of team, so Brody’s got his reasons to be skeptical.

It’s been a good month, at least. Brody would like to imagine that it might be able to last another month. Maybe two months. Three months? A year?

It seems possible from the Baywatch end of things. They’re all about teamwork and togetherness, and when they do team building exercises, they don’t seem silly or forced. They seem legit, you know. Like, actually meaningful. People who become part of the team really are treated like family.

The trick, of course, is whether or not Brody can keep his selfish tendencies at bay in order to prove himself worthy of a place.


For what it’s worth, Brody is trying. He’s learned a lot at Baywatch, and not just about lifeguarding or swimming in the ocean. He’s learned a lot about people. This has been useful to him in several capacities. It has helped him get laid consistently. In fact, Summer is actually fine with the idea of them dating exclusively, but Brody’s not technically sure if that makes them boyfriend and girlfriend yet. Honestly, he’s a little too scared to ask, because he likes what’s going on between them too much to risk changing it.

It’s also useful because he and Mitch are getting along. Like, really. Brody still can’t afford a place of his own, and the idea of putting his name on a lease seems awfully scary to him, so he’s tried his best to be a good roommate to Mitch. A few weeks ago, he offered Mitch some rent money, which Mitch accepted without commentary reflecting the fact that they both knew it was pocket change and in no way matched current rent prices in the area.

Still, it had been a gesture.

Mitch had got it.

And it’d been cool.

So that’s going well.

And work’s going well. Brody, as it turns out, is actually a pretty good lifeguard. Yes, that’s partially because he really likes to swim, but also, he’s just good at it. He likes helping people; it’s, like, gratifying or something. It’s surprisingly fun not to think about himself all the time.

What people don’t always realize about Brody is that he can actually learn things really well. The catch is that it has to be stuff that interests him. That’s why he holds the world record in the 200 and barely graduated from high school. It’s why he’s known lovingly as the team idiot and still somehow manages to be the best lifeguard on the beach.

So when Stephanie’s out of town for a week, Mitch asks him to step a bit, take over a few of her responsibilities. Brody had protested, pointing out that there are other people on staff -- CJ, especially -- who are probably more qualified.

“I’m trusting you,” Mitch tells him instead. “Don’t make me regret it.”

It’s probably not exactly intended as a threat.

Brody still feels like it is one.

Because it’s only been a month.

Brody still has plenty of time to screw shit up.


He doesn’t, though. It actually goes really well. He’s good at operating the schedule. It’s really easy to run morning briefings sometimes. And he can fill out paperwork really effectively. Brody is feeling pretty good about things, like this is one month and counting.

Then, one month and two days after Brody becomes a full member of Baywatch, Mitch gets sick.

“What do you mean, you’re sick?” Brody asks, standing in the doorway to Mitch’s bedroom, ready for work and truly vexed.

Mitch clears his throat, coughing into his hand in a way that does seem contrived somehow. “I got a cold,” he says. “It happens.”

Brody doesn’t know what to make of that. Mitch is like a force of nature. He took down Leeds while shot. He literally poisoned himself to save the day. “But what about Baywatch?”

Mitch sneezes, mopping it up quickly with a tissue. “Well, I thought you could fill in for me,” he says.

“Me?” Brody asks.

Mitch shrugs. “You do have experience with the job.”

Brody shakes his head, feeling somehow desperately vehement. “We all agreed that my time as lieutenant didn’t count.”

Mitch rolls his eyes. “You really will be fine,” he says. “Just keep doing what you’ve been doing, and see who can come in to cover for you while you take over tower one.”

For some reason, Brody feels a bit like panicking. “For how long?”

Mitch sneezes again, as if for good measure. “Today, tomorrow, I’m guessing,” he says, pausing to empty his nose of snot. “I can’t swim like this, and I sure as hell can’t do CPR. A few days, maybe through the weekend.”

“A few days,” Brody repeats, mentally tallying those up. A month and a week, then. Brody rarely goes a month and a week without being a shithead. “Through the end of the weekend.”

“You’ll be fine,” Mitch assures him before hacking again. “I believe in you.”

Well, shit.

What’s Brody supposed to do with that?


Answer: the job.

Brody does the job.

He goes to work. He informs Casey Jean that Mitch is ill and that he’s going to be filling for him and Stephanie. He calls in an off duty team member to help balance the load on the beach, and he astutely manages the team issues before sending everyone out for work that morning.

At tower one, he is extra vigilant, patrolling his portion of the beach while keeping in radio contact with all other towers. During his lunch, he skips going out with the others and goes to Mitch’s office to see what paperwork needs to be dealt with. He organizes it and facilitates what he can, earmarking urgent matters to pass along directly to Casey Jean and putting others aside for Mitch’s consideration when he gets back to work.

The afternoon shift is much the same, except for the fact that Brody conducts two rescues and stops a sand grifter. After his shift, he apologizes to Summer and says he has to cancel their date that night.

“You sure?” Summer asks. She’s looking at Brody, a little concerned. He only sees her when he glances up over the stack of papers on Mitch’s desk.

“Mitch told me to take care of things,” Brody says. “These are things.”

She chews her lips, thoughtful for a moment. “He probably just wanted you to cover tower one and manage the work schedule,” she says.

Brody shakes his head. “No, he wants me to take responsibility,” he says. “I have to take responsibility.”

She holds up her hands in defeat. “Okay, okay,” she says. She crosses over, and he stops long enough to kiss her. “This whole dedicated worker thing? I like it.”

He kisses her back, smiling a little. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” she says. “It’s kind of sexy.”

Brody puts the paper he’s holding down. “Sexy?”

She trailed her fingers down his front, lingering on his waistline. “You know, everyone’s off duty now,” she suggests. “Maybe we don’t have to go out to have a little fun.”

That’s tempting.

Like, tempting tempting.

Brody basically has never said no to sex. Ever. Because why would he? Especially with a woman like Summer?

Except that’s the selfish thing to do.

To blow off work for sex? Selfish.

To have sex in your boss’s office? Selfish.

To shirk the responsibilities give to you by the dude who lets you crash at his place? Selfish.

Brody can’t be selfish. Not if he wants to make it to one month and one week. Mitch’s admonition is still in his head, and Brody can’t shake it because he knows Mitch is right.

And he knows Mitch probably has forgotten it either.

Brody pulls away from Summer, smiling apologetically. “I have to do this,” he says. “For Mitch.”

She looks surprised, a little disappointed and a little not. She drops her hands and smiles at him. “I still mean it, you know,” she says. “This responsibility thing? It’s a good look for you.”

“Well, remember that,” he says, shuffling the papers again. “Because when Mitch gets back to work…”

She grins now. “Definitely.”

It’s something to look forward to, then.

One month and one week is sounding more important to Brody all the time.


When Brody does get home, it’s pretty late. He calls a hello but there’s no answer and Brody peeks in Mitch’s room to find the other man sound asleep. The bed is littered with tissues, but there’s also water and cooling bowls of soup next to the bed, so Brody knows that Mitch isn’t dead or anything.

Still, he picks up a few of the dishes and replaces them with fresh water and an energy bar. Then, he puts the cold medicine by the bedside table.

He’s not sure why, but it kind of seems like the thing to do. Brody’s got no experience with this, and his gut instincts are generally terrible, but he’s got something to prove this week.

He’s got everything to prove.


Brody is too tired to make himself much for dinner, so he eats whatever he can find that requires zero effort. He loads up the dishwasher, feeds the fish and promptly goes to sleep.

When he wakes up, he’s still tired, but he thinks, one month and three days.

After that, it doesn’t seem so bad.


It seems a little bad when he checks on Mitch before work. The dude is like almost dying or something, and he can barely speak because his voice is so messed up. Brody kind of wants to take him to the doctor or something, but for some reason, he still has to ask.

“You’re not going in today?”

Mitch looks at him skeptically. “Do you think you can handle it another day?”

One month four days?

Brody shrugs, mustering up a grin. “Why not?”


So, he does.

Brody can work hard; you don’t get to the Olympics by not working hard. He knows how to make sacrifices, how to push himself further and harder than everyone around him. This is the same thing, just totally different.

There’s no gold medal at the end, but if Brody makes it to one month and one week, then who knows? Maybe he’ll make it another week.

And another week.

A month.

Maybe more.


The day does not go smoothly, however. In fact, it’s kind of a mess. Two other lifeguards have caught Mitch’s death cold, and Brody has to call in more backup. Even then, he can only fill one post, so he has to creative rotate the shifts to make sure that there’s always a lifeguard on duty at each tower. This is imperative; it’s prime tourist season. He doesn’t want someone to drown while he’s the one in charge.

Okay, so he never wants someone to drown.

But it’s his responsibility now, the whole beach, the whole bay.

Brody’s not going to be the selfish one today.


In his scheduling antics, he forgets to schedule himself a lunch, but that’s okay. He’s too busy to eat; too distracted to worry about it. There’s a school of manta ray in the bay. Shit, that’s actually a thing that happens.

Brody’s first impulse is to call animal control.

He does.

And then he goes out and handles it Mitch’s way, too.


By the time he’s dealt with the manta ray and handled all staff issues, HQ has cleared out for the night. Summer hangs out with him for a few minutes, but he’s so invested in the paperwork that she eventually agrees to leave when he suggests it. CJ stops by with Ronnie at some point to make sure things are okay.

“You know,” CJ says. “When Stephanie covers for Mitch, she doesn’t do this much work.”

“What?” Brody asks, sorting papers from one pile to another before adding a note to one of them. “What do you mean?”

“Mitch always just expects to have stuff to make up when he gets back,” CJ says.

When Brody seems to have no idea what she’s saying, she continues.

“I think you can go home now,” she says, more to the point. “Mitch can do this when he gets back.”

But Brody looks at the papers.

He remembers Mitch’s hacking cough from the other bedroom at home.

He can still hear Mitch telling him in no uncertain terms how selfish he was, how he was done at Baywatch.

He shakes his head. “Nah, I can do this.”

CJ and Ronnie exchange a look of surprise. “You’re making the rest of us look bad, man,” Ronnie quips, and he’s joking and not.

Brody gives them a quizzical look. “I doubt that,” he says. “Have a good night, though!”

When they leave, Brody’s already buried himself in the paperwork again.


Mitch is on the couch when Brody gets home, which Brody thinks is a good sign.

Until Mitch speaks.

Or tries to speak.

It’s all a garbled mess.

“Dude,” Brody says. “You sure you’re okay?”

“Just a cold,” Mitch says. “The worst cold I’ve ever had, but….”

“Do you, like, want to go to a doctor?” Brody asks.

“No,” Mitch replies, blinking lazily. “I just want to rest here. I came out for some food but only made it this far.”

Brody looks from the couch to the kitchen to the bedroom, not sure what to do. Finally, he scratches his head. “Do you want me to get you something?”

Mitch looks surprisingly grateful. “Would you?”

Brody throws his keys on the side table. “Why not?” he asks. Because he knows that tomorrow will be one month and five days and that there’s no way Mitch is going back to work.


So Brody makes dinner that night. Like, it’s soup from cans but he does make it and he does serve it. He eats next to Mitch and they make awkward chit chat when Mitch isn’t hacking up a lung or whatever. He offers to help Mitch to bed, but he just wants to lay there, so Brody gives him a blanket instead and shuffles his feet before moving to his own room for the night.

“Brody,” Mitch calls after him.

Brody turns, expectant.

“Is everything okay at work?” Mitch asks.

The weird thing is, Mitch asks like he might actually expect it to be okay. Like he’s not super worried about the answer. Because this is an afterthought, not the first thing on his mind. Baywatch is always the first thing on Mitch’s mind.

But this week, he’s entrusted it to Brody.

And his doubts are merely an afterthought.

Brody can’t help it; the realization makes him smile. “Yeah, sure,” he says. “Nothing you have to worry about at all.”

“I’m not making it in tomorrow, man,” Mitch says with resignation.

“I’ve got this,” Brody says. “I’ve totally got this.”


The next morning, Brody is up early. He makes breakfast, okay. He makes a good breakfast for him and Mitch and he gets out the door well before the morning shift is due to start. He has the office organized, and he double checks the schedule, monitors the weather report and is ready to go when the first round of lifeguards checks in.

He briefs them, and reorients the schedule when another lifeguard is down for the count with the killer cold. This means that Brody won’t get any time off, but that’s cool.

Because Mitch believes that Brody’s got this.

And Brody might just be starting to believe it, too.


There are no manta ray, but Ellerbee stops by to talk about a case, and Brody ends up organizing an undercover operation that has him monitoring the beach and surveilling a possible drug deal. By noon, he helps Ellerbee make an arrest by jumping on someone who produces a gun and making sure that no one is caught in any kind of crossfire.

He’s going to get a bite to eat, but there’s just no time, and Brody keeps himself awake during the afternoon with bottled water and adrenaline. The riptide’s a bear out there, and he has to make three saves on his own and he ends up helping Ronnie in tower two when three people go down at once.

There’s so much paperwork to pass on to Casey Jean that he ends up in a meeting with her for about an hour after work, and he still wants to update the report forms on the desk for Mitch’s approval when he gets back. When he finally makes it back home, Mitch is already asleep and Brody is just going to lay down for a moment, rest his eyes.

He wakes up 10 hours later.

Ready for one month and day six.


Brody’s the first one there, and he quickly realizes that they’re going to be severely understaffed. He does what he can, but there’s just not enough lifeguards. To compensate, he spreads out the available staff, alternating towers, thereby extending the range of each lifeguard and increasing their foot patrols. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best he can do.

He covers all extra shifts on his own. There’s no time for lunch. There’s no time for dinner. Not when there are sand grifters and drug deals and paperwork and everything. Summer asks him if he’s taking the night off. “It’s Friday,” she says, a hint of a whine in her voice.

But Brody shakes his head. He’s so close to one month and one week, he can taste it. “I have to do this; you know that.”

She sighs, disappointed. “But I really want to hang out with you,” she says. “This isn’t your job.”

It is, though. Doesn’t she get that?

She can’t get it.

She’s not inherently selfish.

She’s not the one working against her nature.

She can’t understand why Brody has to do this.

“The instant Mitch is better, I’m taking you on the best date,” he promises.

She sighs again, but she can’t argue that. “I am impressed,” she says. “You play like you’re a slacker sometimes, but this job means something to you.”

“Everything,” he says. “It means everything.”

She leans over the desk and kisses him. “You sure you’re okay?” she asks. “You look a little pale.”

“Just tired,” he says.

“Well, we have tomorrow off at least,” she reminds him.

“Not if Mitch is sick,” Brody says.

“Brody, seriously?” she asks.

“Summer,” he says, looking at her.

She rolls her eyes. “Fine, right,” she says. “You go be the responsible one.”

Brody looks at her back, somehow grateful that she understands. “You’re kind of amazing, you know that?”

She chuckles on her way to the door. “Yeah, well,” she says. “Turns out, you’re not so bad yourself.”


Brody intends to just do a little paperwork, but the problem is he keeps falling asleep. He’s not sure why he’s so tired, and he’s not sure why he can’t make himself do the shit he’s supposed to do. He’s still selfish, probably.

He’ll probably always be selfish.

One month, one week, maybe that’s a crazy dream.

He wants to find out, though.

That’s the motivation Brody needs to keep working, keep working, keep working.


When he wakes up the next morning, he realizes that he’s still at the office.

Like, seriously. He’s in the chair. He’s been sleeping with his head slumped on the desk. It must look ridiculous. It feels horrible. His neck is all messed up and he feels light headed when he gets up.

He’s about to go get something to eat when he realizes that it’s time for the morning shift to start. Scrambling, he settles for half a cup of coffee instead and starts the morning routine to get HQ up and ready for a busy day at the beach.

Is this one month and one week?

Shit, Brody’s been so busy that he doesn’t remember.

He’s not sure.

He just knows that nothing he does is ever enough, so he has to keep trying.

He has to get the job done, no matter what.


Under Brody’s direction, Baywatch is up and ready to go. The beach is protected. Everyone is safe and secure. All is right with the world.

He doesn’t think about the fact that he’s tired. He doesn’t think about the fact that he’s hungry. He doesn’t think about himself at all.

And the day slips away.

One more day, as uneventful as it is important.


See, that’s the thing. Brody keeps track of the days. All he’s ever done is take it day by day. That’s all he’s ever been able to do. Just one day. Just one more day. Maybe this is he one that ends in disaster.

Maybe this is just another day.

That’s how you make a life, build a family.

By finally forgetting to count the days.