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Chaos Fic: Part of the Plan 1/1

April 26th, 2011 (08:53 pm)
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Title:  Part of the Plan

Disclaimer:  Not mine, though I would suspect I would show them more love than CBS.

A/N:  I kept telling myself that writing fic for a show that’s mostly canceled is not smart.  My muse, however, refused to listen.  Much thanks to geminigrl11  for giving this a beta, and for introducing me to this wonderful, if short-lived, show.

Summary:  Rick’s been focused on the goal for so long that he’s never let himself stop to consider failure.  Never stopped to think about anything less.

-o-

“It’s simple,” Michael says, looking seriously at Rick.  “You have to break into the compound, override the security system, then make a quick exit.”

Rick nods.  “I know, so then the tactical team has the ability to conduct a full raid on the facility without fear of detection and counter measures,” he concludes.  “You’ve told me this five times.”

“You can’t be too sure,” Michael tells him.

Rick glances over to Billy on Michael’s flank and Casey, who is watching from his desk.  “You’re not telling Billy or Casey,” he observes.

“Billy and Casey are experienced operatives,” Michael says.

“I’ve been on missions,” Rick asserts.

“You’re the only one on the team who still believes that these briefings have meaning,” Michael says, shrugging.  “I’m trying to play to your strengths.”

Rick frowns.  “The details are important,” he says.

“That’s why I’m telling you again,” Michael says.

Billy grins, tilting his head.  “You sort of walked into that one.”

Rick nods.  “Yeah, I know,” he mutters.

“So do we need to go over it again?” Michael asks.

Rick rolls his eyes.

-o-

In Bolivia, they’re on the ground.  Billy has a GPS and they’re navigating through dense foliage.

Rick swipes sweat from his brow.  “Are you sure this is part of the plan?”

Billy doesn’t look at him.  “The only way to break into the compound and disable its security is to find the compound,” he reminds Rick.  He pauses, cocks his head at the GPS, then veers left.

Rick follows.  “But why aren’t we all going?”

Billy stops and look at him.  “I thought we didn’t need to go over it again.”

Rick feels a bit chagrined.  His annoyance at being told the plan countless times could not fully obscure the fact that he still wanted to hear it that many times and more.  “I know the plan,” he objects, squaring his shoulders a little.  “I’m just wondering about the why.”

“Because we believe that terrorism is wrong?” Billy asks with a shrug.

Rick looks at him, not amused.  “I mean, why aren’t Casey and Michael with us?  I mean, if this is a well fortified bunker housing a weapons cache to stock gun runners in cooperation with Al-queda, shouldn’t we be pulling out all the stops?”

Billy actually looks vaguely impressed.  “Logical,” he comments with an approving nod.  “I like it.”

While Rick takes inherent satisfaction in any amount of validation when it comes to his job, even he knows that Billy’s praise is rather easily won and given more for effect than any actual belief.  “So why aren’t we doing it?” Rick presses.

“Because we’re spies,” Billy reminds him.  “We take it upon ourselves to subvert logic.”

“I thought we were subverting terrorists?”

“Aye, with illogic,” Billy tells him.  He nods once, quite seriously.  “That way, they won’t see it coming.”

Rick’s face screws up in confusion. 

Billy shrugs, turning back around.  “Besides,” he continues in a cheery voice.  “Too many people just make it more likely for us to trip the booby traps.  We don’t want anyone to end up filleted now, do we?”

Rick’s eyebrows raise.  “Booby traps?”

Billy is moving forward.  “You mean we forgot to mention the booby traps?”

“Yes, you forgot to mention the booby traps!” Rick exclaims, scurrying behind him.

Billy grins over his shoulder.  “I guess we should have gone over the plan one more time, then, hm?”

Rick doesn’t know if he wants to kill Billy or latch onto him as they venture onward into the jungle.

-o-

It takes another two miles, but Rick gets the rest of the story out of Billy.  The compound is not just well fortified: it’s never been breached.  It’s the biggest supplier of guns to terrorist organizations around the world, and a number of insurgencies are expected to have been fully armed from this single facility.  Government agencies from around the world have tried to penetrate it to take it down, but none have managed to even come close to the perimeter.

This is why a small tactical team has to go in first.  If they don’t disarm the security, the following CIA force would be blown out of the sky and likely mutilated by a wealth of demented surprises from the jungle below. 

“Don’t worry,” Billy assures him.  “These traps are designed for full fledged assaults.  The sensors are only trained to pick up massive forces.  The two of us?  We look like monkeys to them, and while these are terrorist-friendly folk, I don’t think they take to killing monkeys.”

“They just don’t want to waste the ammunition,” Rick mutters.

“Well, we’ll take what we can get,” Billy agrees.

“So why didn’t Michael just tell me this from the start?”

“It takes him awhile to trust people, lad,” Billy says with a sympathetic smile.  “I wouldn’t take it personally.”

“When did he start treating you like a member of the team?” Rick asks.

“Well, I came in with training,” Billy says with another shrug.  “I was a top operative for British Secret Service, you know.”

“And Casey?”

“The first time he saw Casey in the field, he knew he had to or Casey would kill him.  He has that effect on people.”

Reasonable explanations perhaps, but that still doesn’t substantiate the bias against him.  “You know, that’s not fair,” Rick objects.  “I’m a trained and valuable member of this team.”

Billy stops and looks at him earnestly.  “And there’s no one I’d rather have at my back,” he says.

Rick stops, his indignation faltering.  “Really?”

Billy gives him a dazzling grin, slapping him on the shoulder.  “Look alive,” he says.  “After about fifty yards, we have to cross the river with crocodiles.”

Rick is nodding along when he realizes what Billy is saying.  “Wait, crocodiles--Billy--”

-o-

Circumventing the crocodiles is actually fairly easy.  At least compared to navigating the minefield and stepping over the erratic lines of trip wire.

“How do we even know this stuff is here?” Rick ask, feeling sweat pool in his armpits.  He’s huffing behind Billy as they press against the outside of the well-camouflaged bunker.  “I mean, you just navigated a minefield!”

Billy leans toward him, and Rick notes with disdain that the sweat and mud on his features only enhance his roguish charm.  “We got fairly lucky with our intelligence.”

Rick’s eyes bug a little.  “Fairly lucky?”

Billy’s eyes flit away.  “A former employee was a bit disgruntled,” he says.  “Apparently, terrorism supporters do not necessarily believe in workers’ compensation.”

“But how did he live to tell about it?” Rick asks.

Looking at him again, Billy’s expression is amused.  “Your CIA may be rather illogical at times, but it knows how to offer a good bribe and full protection.”

“So we’re just taking the word of an ex-terrorist?” Rick says, realizing the implications.

“Aye, it is a bit unnerving,” Billy agrees.  “But you have to admit, he was dead on about that minefield.”

“Is that supposed to be reassuring?”

Billy grins again.  “For someone who supposedly loves his job, you’re a bit of a Debbie Downer.”

“I just appreciate knowing that the intelligence I’m working off of is sound,” he replies grumpily.

Billy gives him a hurt look.  “You don’t trust me?”

Rick stares back plainly.  “You didn’t tell me any of this until we got here.”

At that, Billy nods.  “Good point,” he says.  Then he pauses.  “Would you like to turn back?”

Part of him does, because Rick is in the middle of the Bolivian rain forest, on the outskirts of a compound that has never been breached.  He’s been trusting the intelligence of a turned criminal and the guidance of a team that can’t even tell him the truth.  And the most infuriating thing is that everything seems to be working just fine, and beyond the principle of the whole thing, Rick can’t fathom any reason to actually walk away or even pose further protest.

It’s one thing when his team is frustratingly vague and purposefully deceitful.  It’s another that they’re almost always able to pull it off, even when it seems like there is no feasible way for that to happen.

Resigned, Rick sighs.  “Let’s just get this over with.”

-o-

It seems a little funny, but finding the control panel is actually the hardest part.

Although with the sweat and the bugs, funny is probably not the best term, but with the sweat and the bugs, it’s the best Rick can think of at the moment.

The panel is on the far side of the building, well-obscured by plant life.  “Do they never come out to check this thing?” Rick asks, swatting at a bug on his neck.

Billy is leaned over it, chewing his lip thoughtfully.  “It’s only a secondary system,” he says.  “Their backup generator of sorts.  Most of the action goes on through the front door, and you can’t underestimate how quickly these plants grow.”

“And they probably thought the minefield and the crocodiles would be enough to keep any idiots from approaching through the jungle,” Rick concludes.

Billy cocks his head, peeking up at him.  “Logic,” he says.  “See, bites you in the ass every time.”

-o-

While Billy is tinkering at the control panel, Rick figures he should maintain protocol, even if no one else on the team is going to.

Especially because no one else is going to.  He knows how badly Higgins wants to liquidate this team altogether, and Rick would very much like to keep his job for the time being.

Even if he does have to work with the craziest group of people he’s ever met. 

Talented, deadly, damn good, but straight up crazy.  How they’ve survived this long, Rick is still not sure, and honestly, it’s a toss up as to whether or not that comforts him or worries him.

“I’ll make the call back to Michael and Casey,” Rick says, his voice a low whisper.

Billy nods in a friendly manner, forehead still creased and lips pursed.

“To check in,” Rick feels compelled to add. 

Billy seems to be trying to hot wire something and Rick half expects an alarm to sound or gunfire to rip through the air.

“It’s protocol,” Rick continues.

At this, Billy looks up, fingers paused.  “Then by all means,” he says, gesturing with his head.  “I’ll continue to disarm the security system for this very large and very dangerous complex, and you make that phone call.”

It’s hard to tell if Billy is being sarcastic or genuine, because everything Billy says has an earnest tone.  He can be lying through his teeth, and Rick still wants to believe him.

With a small growl of frustration, Rick fishes out his SAT phone and punches in the numbers.

-o-

Rick intends to be professional.  But as soon as he hears Michael’s easy tone on the other end of the line, it sort of irks him.

“Why didn’t you tell me about the booby traps?” he accuses.

“It was in the file,” Michael says.

“Not the file I read!”

“You gave him the abridged version,” Casey reminds him from the background.

“Oh,” Michael says.  “Then you did a very good job thinking on your feet, operative.”

Rick grits his teeth.

“Tell them we’re almost in,” Billy says, not looking up.

“We’re almost in,” Rick reports dutifully.

“Make sure Billy remembers the last trap,” Casey chimes in.

Rick frowns.  “Billy, did you remember the last booby trap?”

Billy stands up, looking proud for a moment.  “All done,” he says, a little proud.  “Now we just have to go inside to disarm the rest of the security grid.”

Rick looks expectant.  “So you did remember the last booby trap?”

Billy blinks, then pales slightly.  “Oh,” he says, expression turning a bit grave.  “Maybe that last briefing really would have been helpful.”

-o-

For a moment, neither of them do anything.  Michael and Casey are silent on the other end of the phone.

Rick’s sort of waiting for the other shoe to fall.  The gunfire or armed guards surrounding them.  Maybe a spear falling from the sky or a hungry jaguar released in their general proximity.

“What’s the last booby trap?” he finally asks, almost demands.

Billy’s forehead creases.  “Do you know CPR?”

Rick stares at him.  “Yes, of course.  It’s standard training for all operatives,” he says.  “But--”

“Good, good,” Billy says, very seriously now.  “The whole thirty compressions, two breaths?”

Rick shakes his head, trying to get a grasp on the situation.  “It’s vigorous compressions, one hundred per minute.”

Billy looks impressed.  “Most excellent,” he says.  “You really are a trained operative, aren’t you?”

“I’ve been telling all of you that for weeks,” Rick says.  “But what does this have to do with anything?”

“Ah, nothing really,” Billy says with a dismissive shrug.  “I just find it a bit of a comfort, and I think you should, too.”

None of this makes sense.  Nothing with the ODS makes much sense, but this is worse than usual.  Because there’s one last booby trap and Billy may have triggered it and they may be moments from impending doom and no one seems to be the least bit concerned except him.

Billy reaches out, slaps him on the shoulder.  “Just remember, you know what to do,” he says.  “You’re a CIA operative.  You are well trained for all situations.”

If Rick’s gaping, he doesn’t think it’s his fault.  “But, what’s the last trap?” he asks.

Billy arches his eyebrows.  “I know you still take this all very personally,” he says.  “But remember, this really isn’t your fault.”

Rick’s about to demand answers--from Billy, from Michael, from the damn crocodiles in the river, but before he can say anything, Billy’s posture stiffens.

Then, Billy’s eyes twitch and he’s going down hard, hitting the forest floor with a muted thud.

Before Rick can even move, Billy’s thrashing, his entire body convulsing.  He slams into the side of the building, almost kicking out Rick’s legs from under him.

It’s not even thirty seconds later when the convulsions stop just as suddenly as they start, and Billy goes deadly still.

Rick blinks, still staring.  Billy’s face is ashen beneath the dirt, and then Rick realizes that Billy’s not breathing.

Going to his knees, Rick rolls Billy onto his back, pressing two fingers into Billy’s neck to find a pulse that simply isn’t there.

-o-

Billy’s dead.

This is the most relevant fact Rick knows right now.  The how is still burning in the back of his mind and the why is almost a constant issue with this job, but at the moment, it seems that the simple what is the thing Rick needs to deal with.

Because Billy’s dead.  Rick can answer the how and the why later, but there’s certainly not a large window of time to remedy the what.

Of course, it takes Rick a couple of seconds to remember that screaming for help is neither viable nor professional.  Michael and Casey are on the other end of the SAT phone, but they’re not important right now.  Rick is the help.  He’s a trained operative.  He’s ready for all situations.

Even when his teammate goes into convulsions and dies for unknown reasons while they’re stranded together outside an enemy compound in the Bolivian rain forest.

He’s trained for this.

His memory triggers: vigorous compressions.  One hundred per minute.

He knows what to do.  He knows--

Dropping the SAT phone to the jungle floor, Rick goes to his knees over Billy and has to pause.  This isn’t a training scenario.  This isn’t a first aid dummy.  This is a person.  This is his teammate. 

Damn it, this is his friend.

And if there’s ever been a mission Rick needs to succeed at, it’s this one.

Hesitations aside, Rick straightens, finding the right spot on Billy’s chest.  Arms stiff, he pushes down, keeping a mental tally in his head.

In training, CPR had been exhausting.  A hundred compressions a minute is a steady clip, even in an air-conditioned office with a trainer by his side.

On the floor of the Bolivian jungle, however, it’s more than exhausting.  Rick is already sweating, his muscles weary from the long day he’d spent in the jungle.  He’s physically fit, this much is true, but it’s much easier to maintain a steady pace when he’s at peak capacity. 

Not to mention the fact that he can feel Billy’s chest moving with every compression.  True, the CPR dummies provided an approximation of proper resistance, but there’s something different about feeling the ribcage of someone you know and sort of care about.

And that doesn’t even get Rick started on thinking about the rest of it.  About Billy’s heart not pumping, about manually moving the blood in Billy’s body, how the only thing between certain death and a second chance is Rick’s steady and proper approach.

Too slow and the blood might not move fast enough.  Too fast and Rick could over stimulate Billy’s failing body.  There’s so many things that can go wrong, and Rick’s looking for the one way to make it all right, and he doesn’t know if he can do it.

He doesn’t know.

He always tries to do the right thing.  He always tries to be prepared.  He tries to be considerate and aware and thoughtful and discerning.  He’s been purposeful and direct and careful and proactive.  He’s done everything he can, and then some, and yet here he is, in the middle of the jungle, trying to save the life of one of his teammates.

This is life and death, the sort of thing Rick always dreamed bout.  Being a hero.  Putting it all on the line behind enemy lines.  Glory and service and serving his country and the whole damn nine yards.

And it’s hinging on one hundred compressions a minute and the fleeting confidence in his training.  If this goes wrong....

If they don’t make it out....

If Billy dies....

Rick’s been focused on the goal for so long that he’s never let himself stop to consider failure.  Never stopped to think about anything less.  He doesn’t know how to make sense of that.  Doesn’t know anything at all.

Just the heat of the jungle and the bugs whirring around his head.  The green of the foliage and the stark white skin on Billy’s face.

Then the sudden jolt as Billy’s body convulses, hitching upward to take a strangled breath.

-o-

Rick can’t help it.

He sits back on his heels and cries.

One breath turns into two, and then three and four.  Somewhere past fifteen, Rick loses count.

Billy’s alive.  He’s still unconscious and Rick has no idea what’s wrong with him, but Billy’s alive.

For Rick, that’s all that matters.

-o-

Michael and Casey are not so sure.

“So Billy didn’t remember the last booby trap?” Michael asks.

“What the hell was the last booby trap?” Rick snaps at them.

“A neural toxin, injected into the fingertips.  It’s on the keypad,” Casey explains.

“If it was on the keypad, how were we supposed to break in?” Rick demands.

“Billy said he had it covered,” Michael counters.

“He died,” Rick reminds them.

“You don’t think that was his plan, do you?” Casey asks from the other end.

Rick is almost yelling now.  “How is dying a plan?”

There’s an awkward pause on the other end.

Rick can’t hardly think straight.  “It’s not a plan!  It’s a problem! We need an immediate extraction--now.”

“Negative,” Michael’s voice comes back.

Rick’s eyes shot up.  “Negative?  What’s negative about that?  Billy just died, and unless he happens to die on every mission, then...”  Rick’s voice trails off, as the notion settles over him.

There’s no contradiction of the fact.

“He doesn’t die every mission, does he?” Rick asks, doubt coloring his voice.  “I’ve been on missions on where he doesn’t so he clearly doesn’t die in every one.”

“Not every one,” Casey agrees.

“Just--” Michael says, but there are no other words over the radio.

“Just what?” Rick pushes in sheer incredulity.

“Just that one of Billy’s unique talents is dying,” Michael concludes.

It’s ludicrous, but this is the ODS, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. 

Still, in this way Rick is a slow learner.  “How is dying a unique talent?” Rick asks, the disbelief evident in his voice.

“He just has a natural propensity for it,” Michael continues.

“Like you and languages,” Casey offers helpfully.

“I study new languages,” Rick counters.  “How does Billy practice dying?”

“He doesn’t practice,” Michael says, as if that much should be obvious from the twisted conversation.  “He just is aware of his body’s natural resiliency.”

“He’s unusually able to respond to CPR,” Casey adds.

They’re all very calm about this, and Billy is still very still on the ground, and Rick feels like this is all getting dangerously out of control.  “And how would you know that?  You practice killing each other during your down time?”

It’s a ridiculous question, and for a moment, he worries it’s true.

“It was a fluke the first two times,” Casey explains.

“Two times?” Rick says.

“It happens,” Michael interjects.

“And Billy bounced back immediately,” Casey continues.  “The doctors were very impressed.”

“Since then,” Michael says, “Billy’s just always been more than ready to take one for the team.  We’ve never had a problem.”

Rick looks at Billy in total disbelief, watching for the rise and fall of his chest, remembering the feeling of Billy’s ribs beneath his hands.  “You’ve never had a problem with him dying?”

“It’s only for brief periods,” Casey says.  “Electrocution a few times, drowning once.”

“Simple poisons,” Michael joins.

“The basic things that stop the heart but don’t cause any permanent damage,” Casey concludes.

Rick blows out his breath and looks up at the night sky.  “So how many times has he done this?”

There’s a pause, and some muttering back and forth.

“Five,” Michael starts.

“Six,” Casey interjects.

“Six,” Michael agrees.

“Well, seven now,” Casey says.

Rick sighs, looking back at Billy.  “Seven,” he mutters, shaking his head.  “So I take it the extraction is out?”

“You’re almost there,” Michael says.

“And the fact that Billy died?” Rick prompts uselessly.

“You can’t let his sacrifice be in vain,” Michael tells him.  “Check his breathing one more time, then you should be in and out.  We’ll be there to pick you up in ten minutes.”

Ten minutes, Rick thinks.  Ten minutes ago, he thought this mission was easy as pie.  Ten minutes ago, he hadn’t performed CPR on an actual person.  Ten minutes ago, he still believed, however wrongly, that his team might be marginally sane.

A lot can change in ten minutes, and Rick’s not sure whether to find comfort or distress in that simple fact.

“Fine,” he grinds out.  “Ten minutes.”

-o-

The hardest part is leaving Billy.  The Scot is still unconscious, his breathing raspy.  Still, his heart rate has evened out and his color is pinking up significantly.  Rick is no doctor, but all signs are positive.

Still, somehow leaving Billy alone and vulnerable seems kind of wrong.  The fact that his team would do it to him doesn’t really make it easier to stomach.

But Michael has made it pretty clear.  There will be no extraction until Rick finishes the job.  Billy’s a sitting duck either way, and if Rick can finish this quickly, then they can both be on a chopper and get the hell out of here sooner rather than later.

And Rick would very much like to get out of here.

Giving Billy’s vitals one last check, he pulls some foliage closer, trying to obscure his teammate as best he can.  When he’s done all he can, he lifts his head back to the door.  With a deep breath, he mentally hashes over his part of the plan.

Go in.  Override the security grid.  Get the hell out and wait for the show to begin.

A lingering look at Billy, and Rick’s ready not just for it to begin, but for it to be over, too.

-o-

It’s actually a little anticlimactic.

For all the effort the terrorist put into safeguarding their exterior, the interior security is a little lacking.  It doesn’t even take him two minutes to find an access panel.  A few quick pulls and he has access to all the wiring.  Billy’s handiwork outside ensured that the alarm system wouldn’t be triggered by his entrance.

A few more snips, and Rick has guaranteed that their air detection capabilities are neutralized as well.  In two minutes, Rick has effectively turned one of the strongest bunkers in the world into the most accessible target the CIA will ever take down.

Rick glances at his watch.  Eight minutes have passed.  If he runs, he can keep his promise.

-o-

On the outside, Billy is right where Rick left him.  His breathing seems easier now, even steadier.  There’s a flush in his cheeks under the grime.

Rick lets himself breath a sigh.

He’s about to pick up his SAT phone to call it in, when the whir of a helicopter catches him off guard.

At first, he thinks it’s one of the terrorists, maybe someone who has picked up on their intrusion.  But when he squints up, he sees Michael strapped to a tether, leaning out an open door.

A second later, a rope is lowered, with a basket harness tied on the end.

Despite everything, Rick really does have to grin.

-o-

It takes some work to get Billy secured, but by the time Rick takes the next rope up, Billy’s stretcher is secure across the open back of the helicopter.  Casey is already leaned over him, hooking up some medical equipment.

Michael closes the door, signals to the pilot, and then looks at Rick.

Rick gives him a look.  “I thought you said immediate extraction was out.”

“You said ten minutes,” Michael calls back of the whirring blades.  “I took you at your word.”

As the chopped pulls up above the treeline, Rick can see more in the distance.  Although Rick hasn’t seen it often, it’s good to know that the CIA really can pull out all the stops.

When it wants to, anyway.

The rest of the time, he figures the ODS can mostly handle itself.

And Rick grins again.

-o-

Rick gets situated in a seat near Billy’s stretcher.  Casey is studying a medical monitor, as if trying to make heads or tails of it.

Michael is watching all them, with one keen eye still out looking out, as if worried something else might happen.

On the stretcher, Billy stirs, eyes fluttering open.

Rick leans closer.  “You with me?” he asks.

Billy blinks a few times before his eyes focus.  “Rick,” he says back, the quiet wheeze of his voice almost lost in the rotors.  He smiles a little.  “I told you that you could do it.”

Rick smiles back.  “Are you talking about the mission or saving your life?”

Billy’s eyes fluttered again.  “Both,” he murmurs, just a his eyes settle closed.

It feels kind of good, really.  For all that his team has lied to him and kept him in the dark and treated him like an outsider and an inept child, when push comes to shove, they really trust him.  Billy counted on him to save his life and Michael pulled the backup right when Rick needed it.

This whole team thing, it might actually work.

And then Billy’s heart monitor begins to wail.

Casey is frowning and Michael is on his feet, leaning closer.  Billy’s eyes are closed again.

Rick shakes his head.  “Why is he doing it now? he asks.

Casey and Michael share a look.

The realization hits him.  “This isn’t normal, is it?” Rick concludes.

Michael’s answer is to strip away the blanket covering Billy, positioning himself over the Scot’s chest.

“Casey, can you get the oxygen?” Michael asks as he starts to bear down with clean, even presses.

Billy’s body moves with the pressure, rhythmic and flaccid.

Casey is pulling out an oxygen max, placing it squarely over Billy’s mouth and nose as he set the tank.

“What can I do?” Rick yells.

Michael barely glances at him.  “Do you know how to work an AED?”

-o-

The AED is stowed with the rest of the first aid equipment.  Rick has had training this as well, but with his heart pounding in his ears, he’s more than a little glad that the entire device is so user friendly.

With it open, he brings it over to Billy.

Michael lifts his hand; Casey lets go of the mask.

“Alright,” Rick says, swallowing hard.  “Clear.”


With that, he presses the adhesive strips to Billy’s chest and abdomen. The machine does its reading, tells them all to stand back, as it charges, and the delivers an electrical shock.

Billy’s body jerks, then settles, but Michael’s already back in position while the device loads again.

When it’s ready, Michael and Casey fall back.  Rick follows the machine's instructions again, watching Billy's pale face as the automated voice says, "Do not touch the patient."

-o-

By the time they reach the hospital, Billy is breathing again, but his vitals are all over the map.  They land on a helipad, and the team of doctors that greet them speaks fluent English with a heavy accents.

Michael gives them the basics, explaining more about the toxin than Rick had assumed they’d known.  It’s funny to him how Michael is prepared for this, especially since Rick would think being prepared would mean not letting it happen at all.

The ODS is like that, though.  Brilliant and stupid, all at once.  The bigger picture is so important that often compromising the details just comes as second nature, even when those details include one of their lives.

They follow the stretcher all the way to the examination room, but when the door closes abruptly in their faces, Michael swallows hard.

Rick looks through the window and sees the rest of Billy’s clothes being stripped.  He’s having a tube put down his throat and an IV threaded into the crook of his arm.

“Shouldn’t we be in there?” Rick asks.

“We’re not doctors,” Michael tells him.  He’s watching Billy, too, but then he turns away.

Rick is a bit indignant.  “He’s a member of our team!”

“And we’ve done everything we can,” Michael explains.

“What does that mean?”

Michael inclines his head and there’s a look of resignation and acceptance there.  “It means we wait.”

With that, Michael turns toward the waiting room, leaving Rick gaping in his wake.

Casey lingers and almost smiles.  “Even America’s best can only do so much,” he says, voice soft.  Then he shrugs.  “We’re spies; we do spy work.  These are doctors; they do medicine.  That’s what Billy needs now.”

It’s surprisingly gentle coming from Casey, but as the older man follows after Michael, Rick can’t help but steal another glance at Billy. 

He doesn’t know what’s happening--which really seems about par for the course.  But even when he can’t make heads or tails of the mission, he’s learned by now that his team will always pull through.

At least, he really hopes that’s the case as he joins Casey and Michael in the waiting room.

-o-

The doctor’s English is good.

Well, Rick isn’t really sure how good it is, because he stops listening after, “Mr. Collins will be fine.”

Michael is asking about the toxin and the side effects and the composition of the compound and how soon they could transfer Billy back to a hospital in the States.

That’s all important, Rick’s sure of that, but at the moment he’s just too relieved to care.

-o-

In Billy’s room, he seems to be resting comfortably.  The tube is still in place, but his color is good.

“How long does he have to be here again?” Rick asks, pacing a little by the window.

Michael is in the chair.  “Tube will be out in the next two hours,” he says.  “After that, we’ll all go home tomorrow.”

“But he can’t fly commercial,” Rick says.  Then he stops.  “Can he?”

Casey almost looks amused.  “Military transport,” he explains.

“No crappy food,” Michael interjects.

“But lots of legroom,” Casey concludes.

Rick feels doubtful and he looks at Billy again.  Chewing his lips, he paces again.

After a moment, Michael says, “He’ll be okay.”

Rick pauses to look at him.

Michael meets his gaze.  “Really.”

And for some reason, Rick believes him.

-o-

By the time Billy wakes up, Rick is tired of pacing, but since Michael is in the only chair, he doesn’t have much else to do.

It takes a few minutes until Billy’s actually with it, and when he is, his gaze passes over all of them.  “Not quite according to plan, then,” he quips.

Rick has the urge to yell at him, but Michael tilts his head and says, “Somehow I think it was just according to a different plan.”

Billy actually blushes a little.  “You always tells us to play to our strengths.”

Casey snorts.  “You’re supposed to be our charmer,” he says.

“And what charms women and men alike more than a little peril?” he asks.  “Tell me the nurses haven’t been doubling up when they check on me.”

Rick frowns, because that’s actually true.  Two of them almost got into a fight over who would get to administer the sponge bath.

“Still,” Michael says.  “The doctor says you were lucky.”

“It’s not luck,” Billy scoffs.  “Scottish genes.  Best in the entire West.”

Michael rolls his eyes.  “Yes, well, after seven times, I think you’ve proven your point.”

“It can’t have been seven,” Billy objects.

“We’re counting the time in India,” Casey says from the wall.

Billy sighs.  “And Portugal?”

“Especially Portugal,” Michael says, levering himself to his feet.  “So let’s make Bolivia the last.”

Billy groans a little.  “Alright, alright,” he accedes.  “I will do what I can.”

“You’d better,” Michael warns lightly.  He glances toward Casey.  “You think we’re ready for a briefing with Higgins?”

Casey makes a face.  “And if I say no?”

Rick makes a move to follow, but Michael shakes his head.  “Stay here,” he says, then he glances at the Scotsman in the bed.  “Make sure Billy doesn’t do anything stupid.”

Billy groans, calling after Michael as he and Casey exit the room.  “Just because I died doesn’t mean I need a babysitter!”

-o-

It’s a little awkward.  The last time Rick was alone with Billy, the older man went into convulsions and died.  Try as he may, that’s pretty hard for Rick to forget.

 Billy is sitting up more now, fiddling with some of the tubes and wires.  “It’s like being part of a science experiment,” he muses.

Rick fidgets.  He’s taken the seat Michael vacated, but sitting there feels wrong.

“I can’t imagine all this is actually necessary,” Billy continues.  He looks up at Rick, waving one.  “I mean, what is this?”

“An IV,” Rick reports.  “Probably saline.”

“And what is saline?”

“To help replenish your fluids.”

“And they couldn’t just give me a glass of water?”

“Not while you’re unconscious and intubated,” Rick points out, a little sharper than he intends.

Billy smiles.  “Aye,” he agrees.  “There may be some sense in that.”

“You think?” Rick asks.

“That’s why you’re a CIA operative, I’m sure,” Billy tells him with genuine affection.  He pauses, fiddling again with the tubes.  “Still, if I’m going to be wired, I’m not sure this would be my first choice.”

It doesn’t seem like any choice at all, and suddenly Rick can’t fight the nagging question in the back of my mind.  “So how did you forget that last booby trap then?”

Billy stops with his finagling and looks at Rick, eyebrows raised.  “Forget the last booby trap?”

“At the compound,” Rick says.  “You knew all the other booby traps.  How did you forget that one?”

There’s a moment of indecision on Billy’s face.  “Forget, conveniently overlooked:  it’s really all the same thing, don’t you think?”

It’s not an answer that surprises Rick, but the rise of frustration still catches him off guard.  “You mean you did that on purpose?” he asks, more out of indignation than actual disbelief.

Billy has the decency to look sheepish.  “There wasn’t another feasible way of completing the mission,” he explains.

Rick has to hold himself back from scoffing.  “I’m not sure dying counts as a feasible way either!”

Billy makes a dismissive sound in his throat.  “I assure you, it’s nothing I haven’t done before.”

“That doesn’t assure me of anything except your stupidity!” Rick explodes.

Billy actually looks surprised.  “It worked, didn’t it?”

“Barely,” Rick says.  “What if something went wrong?”

At this, Billy almost looks perplexed.  “But that’s why you were there,” he explains reasonably.  “Never once did I doubt that you would be a perfect partner for such a perilous job.”

Rick’s inclination is to be mad.  After all, Billy is being an idiot, self-sacrificial or not.  There’s the illogical means of the ODS and then there’s just plain suicidal, and Rick’s not sure he’s ready to walk a tightrope that’s quite that thin.

And yet, Rick understands the full implication of what Billy is saying.  Because it’s not just suicide, not when there’s a backup plan in place.  It’s just a little hard for Rick to wrap his mind around the fact that he is the backup plan.  Billy went in knowing he was going to die and rather than feel a sense of natural trepidation, he simply trusted that Rick would be able to bring him back.

Billy is often full of hot air, by his own admission, even.  But there’s still substance in there that matters.  Billy really does trust Rick to have his back, just like Michael trusted him to get the job done when he told him to.

Rick’s brow furrows and he finds himself pouting, mostly because he can’t maintain his anger.  “You should have told me,” he says finally, hoping he doesn’t sound as petulant as he thinks he does. 

“Would you have let me do it if I did?” Billy returns.

The answer is unequivocally no, but Rick doesn’t feel like having that argument.  Somehow, such measures seem counterproductive to their fledgling partnership. 

Instead, Rick squares his shoulders.  “We would have found a better way,” he says, a bit more forcefully than he intends.  “Together.”

Billy looks impressed.  He nods.  “Well,” he says.  “I suppose that’s logic that even I can’t argue with.”

Rick swells with pride.  “You better believe it,” he says, and he hopes Billy does, because Rick’s not sure he has enough counter-arguments to actually hold his ground.

Comments

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 27th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)
stephen blue sky

And the amount of squee when I saw that you watched Chaos? And that you'd be into Billy!whump? Was pretty epic. I was convinced this fic would be lonely and unread and instead I discovered that you and I have more in common than before. Which would be a bit creepy if it wasn't just so awesome!

I'm glad it sounded in character in the like. With only three eps to go on, it's hard to be sure.

(And Chaos is largely the reason I am so distracted from our Big Bang stuff. I blame Billy.)

(And also, my muse is ripe for suggestions...and you do have a birthday coming up....)

Posted by: Moogs (moogsthewriter)
Posted at: April 27th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Oceans - Reuben

The amount of epic squeeing around here is just... epic. Yuk yuk.

(That's a perfectly logical excuse, I think. Quite reasonable.)

(Well, I'm always good with straight up whump. I've been wanting to write something that has more Billy back story, but I've been waiting until we see a few more eps... Also, I've had the insane urge to cross it over with Inception, but I have no idea what that would look like. Only that Billy and Eames worked together or something. I don't even know. *facepalm* But srsly, though. Whump is always good. And icons. I could use an icon or two, even though I have no space...)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: April 27th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
stephen breathing

Sometimes it's nice when things are epic in a good way :) Though, seriously, sometimes the coincidences between me and you are just crazy. You know, on an epic level.

It all helps that I really like the word epic.

(I'm glad you understand. Of course, in order to indulge my muse more, I need you to write our Big Bangs. Or I just need more time to write. Why must I have a life?!)

(Well now I have some ideas...I just need the time to execute. I'll see what happens :) Mostly I love the idea of writing more Chaos fic and writing fic for you is alway a fun time. Oh and icons can definitely be done.)

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