Title: Unsentimental Lessons

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: Fill for my blood loss square in hc_bingo. For those who like to see Rick whumped, this is my yearly offering :) Beta by sockie1000. Merry Christmas all! Here's to more Chaos fic in the new year. If you ever have ideas and/or requests, feel free to PM me.

Summary: Casey's a pragmatist; Rick's an idealist. It's all part of being a team.


Casey doesn't do sentimentality. He's not one to cry at weddings; he doesn't find babies particularly cute. He doesn't keep in contact with friends from college, and there is no one he wants to visit at holidays. In fact, he finds holidays to be mostly pointless except that he appreciates a day off of work every now and then.

Casey doesn't keep mementos or keepsakes. He doesn't have a drawer with ticket stubs from his first date, and he doesn't display pictures of his personal life anywhere. He celebrates his birthday only because Billy buys lots of beer and damn it all if Casey doesn't enjoy a slice of cake every now and then.

No, Casey is a pragmatist. Casey lives his life on logic and orders his existence with persistence and dedication. Emotion is useful when it is controlled, not when it is indulged. He's lived by this ever since he was young, and he's never faltered, not once, not ever.

So when Rick asks, eyes wide and voice tremulous, "Am I going to die?"

Casey can only reply, "Honestly? It'd be better if you hadn't stepped in front of a bullet."

Rick blanches, swallowing hard but not bringing himself to disagree. His complexion is pallid, hinted gray as he starts to shiver. Billy's driving the van; Michael's on the phone. Casey's playing medic because he's the only one with the constitution for it, and he refuses to admit just how much he hates it.

Still, Rick nods a little, jaw working as he blinks rapidly and fixes his eyes on the roof of the car, trying to even his breathing out. "I didn't even think," he admits. Then, he laughs as if it's funny. "I knew he was going to shoot."

"And you thought it'd be fun to get shot again?" Casey asks, keeping the pressure constant. The bullet's still in there, lodged someplace in his chest. The blood isn't arterial, at least, but Rick's breathing is labored and getting worse. "I thought you would have learned in South America."

The smile falters, and Rick licks his lips. "I did," he says. "I did-"

He trails off, eyes going strangely blank for a moment.

Casey jostles him. "You learned what exactly?" he asks gruffly. "How to get shot in a more dangerous place?"

Rick looks at him again, a little confused. "What?" he asks, brow creasing. "No, I mean, I learned that it's worth it."

Casey makes a face, ignoring the way Rick's blood is still seeping through the bandage, making his fingers slick. "You really do visit your plaque back home, don't you?"

"No," Rick says, voice more distant still. "That it's worth taking a bullet if you guys are okay."

It's so stupid, that's what it is. It's sentimentality of the basest kind. Rick probably does cry at weddings, and there's no doubt that he finds babies cute. It's a known fact that Rick keeps in contact with everyone, even the brother who stole his fiance out from under him. And Rick loves holidays, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day - all of it, and it has nothing to do with a day off from work.

Because Rick's an idealist. He believes in the greater good, in better things. He has a sense of karma, an inherent belief that good begets good, and that doing the right thing is self evident in his worth. He cares about the mission; he cares about the Agency; he cares about the team.

Emotion is useful when it is controlled, not when it's indulged.

Casey's lived by this ever since he was young, and he's never faltered, not once, not ever.

But Rick's bleeding out from a bullet that was never meant for him. He's bleeding to death in the back of a crappy van, telling Casey that it's worth it. He's probably dying, and he's not talking about what to tell his mother or how he wants his apartment packed or what he wants to give Adele, even though Casey knows those things would all matter to someone like Rick.

No, Rick's thinking about the good he's done, and the things he's saved. Somehow, he's being entirely pragmatic.

So maybe this time - just this once - Casey can be the sentimental one.

He holds fast, leaning a little closer and doing his best not to scowl. "Don't die this time either," he coaches, voice teetering on a command. "And I'll visit your plaque with you this time, okay?"

Rick is surprised, his breath catching. "Wait," he says, looking suddenly terrified. "I really am dying, then?"

"What?" Casey says. "Why would you-"

"You're being nice," Rick says.

"That's what you do," Casey snaps.

"When someone is dying," Rick hisses, chest hitching unevenly.

"No," Casey shoots back. "When someone saves your life."

Rick stops, blinking a few more times.

Casey settles back, feeling both embarrassed and mollified.

"Oh," Rick says finally. "Okay."

Casey straightens again, keeping the pressure constant even as he feels the van start to slow, turning and coming to a stop, presumably outside a hospital since Billy puts it in park. "Now," he says, looking pointedly at Rick. "Get inside; don't die."

Rick nods, more earnestly than he should as the back of the van opens and Michael appears with a doctor.

"Because," Casey says, shifting to help move Rick. "We will never speak of this conversation again."

It's not sentimentality; it's not even pragmatism.

As far as Casey's concerned, it's all just part of being on a team.