Summary- Starting a new life after prison had been the hardest thing Prophet had ever done. But he made it work with help from Cooper. He had a new life with the FBI and a shot at redemption he didn't think was even possible. Therefore he owed Cooper everything in return. Even if it was never going to be enough.
Rated teen for themes as always. Nothing particularly explicit though. There are no pairings. I personally don't ship Mick with anyone other than Gina. But it could open to interpretation if anyone wants to think differently. There are spoilers for quite a few of my previous works. This falls into the main story line but takes place when Prophet and Mick were first recruited by Cooper. You might want to read those if you haven't yet. It's not necessarily, but it'll make a bit more sense if do. No one beta reads my work, although I won't refuse, so any grammar and spelling mistakes are my own fault. Please don't verbally kill me for a typo.
Sadly I do not own anything involving Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior. I wish I did. Just like I wish Matt Ryan(the actor) had a Twitter account I could follow. But unfortunately neither of which are probably ever going to come true. Anyways… The only things I do own are my creations and imagination.
Enough of my rambling! To the story!
Free Part 2
Prophet had always been a social person. In his younger years, his family told him that he was abnormally happy. That his interest in people was a bit strange because they couldn't find a reason for it. While they hadn't been entirely supportive of him joining the government to study and apprehend serial killers, he learned to love his job because it meant dealing with new people. And he met Debra during a case, which had been the most defining moment of his life. He liked people, although he wasn't keen on being the center of attention, and that attitude was what made him quite likable among his peers at one time. That was one of the qualities Debra claimed to adore about him.
But over the years he learned that his fascination with the human mind was not what he originally anticipated. He had seen people mutilated by delusional serial killers, children and women brutally beaten for someone else's own sick minded entertainment, serial killers that used anything and everything as a weapon of some kind. In prison he witnessed men get stabbed with a shank or beaten within an inch of their lives because they looked at the wrong person, even some had committed suicide by hanging themselves or slitting their wrists or purposefully swallowing bleach and alcohol from the infirmary and laundry room.
It changed his view on the world, having seen so many disturbing things. The idea that people were fascinating fell away during his years in prison, replaced by the cold fact that people were their own worst enemy at times. That wasn't so much fascinating as it was logical realism.
That realization made friendships strenuous at best. His teammates, his friends, had left him to the wolves after he pleaded guilty to murdering McCoy. Not a single one visited him after the first six months of his ten years sentence. Hell, they probably didn't even know he had gotten out early thanks to Cooper. His best friend, the man who drove Debra and Prophet to admit that they loved each other and attended their wedding as the groom's best man, hadn't even bothered to talk to him in six years. They were partners on the team. While Prophet ran the unit, he considered Brandon Wallace another member of the family. And he hadn't been there at all since the day he was sentenced.
So understandably, Prophet was jaded when the subject came to friends.
He followed Cooper's lead once they were in DC because he didn't know who else he could call.
Cooper helped him rent an apartment a few blocks from his own loft, which was drastically better than the one he had settled in Los Angeles. His neighbors didn't blare annoying music at ungodly hours of night. The furniture didn't reek of dead rats and didn't leave kinks in his neck and back. All of the appliances worked accordingly, meaning the stove didn't threaten to burn the place to the ground and the refrigerator didn't shriek. It was comfortable, quiet, and the exact opposite of what he had lived in for the past six years.
Between meetings with the director of the FBI, he refilled for his drivers license and was rewarded a week after his test with a freshly printed license. Afterwards Cooper contacted an old friend who sold used cars. Some sort of deal was arranged, though Prophet didn't know the details of such exactly, and his used car was delivered with legal documentation to the apartment building. The payments were low because it already had high mileage and was expected to only last another year or so. But Prophet knew he could find the parts at the local scrap yard to transform it back to its original glory. It was a side project between the days he attended classes at the FBI academy to reapply for his new Red Cell position.
It felt strange to return to the academy after so many years. There were bright new faces, young and eager to prove themselves for the first time, and Prophet couldn't relate with any of them. The feeling seemed to be mutual, seeing as he caught their stares and whispered conversations between friends with pointed glares in his direction. A majority of the instructors either knew about his trial and sentence because it was tagged in his files, or they figured out that he had gotten bailed out by the director and Cooper. Either way, they obviously weren't pleased with his presence. The physical training instructor appeared to make it his goal to embarrass and belittle Prophet as much as he could. Prophet, not one to be stepped on, promptly proved himself fit when he completed the one and a half mile run before the rest of his classmates and in record time.
After five months, he graduated in the top one percent of his class with high marks from all the instructors. Despite how much they appeared to dislike him. Fickler officially signed the paperwork for his readmission to the FBI the day of his graduation. Somehow he and Cooper devised a small celebration at a bar opposite Cooper's loft, including people he didn't know and alcohol he drank too much of and good food he hadn't had in far too long. Fickler himself didn't attend, but Cooper did say that he sent his best regards and congratulations for his accomplishments. Which, if Prophet were honest with himself, meant a hell of a lot.
In April of 2009, ten months after his release from a state prison in California, Cooper decided to add another teammate to their Red Cell. They had been working cold cases since the day after Prophet's graduation, and had managed to solve quite a few that other Red Cell teams hadn't even gotten close to. Oddly enough, the cases had been much simpler than what he expected. It surprised him to see that the other Red Cell teams hadn't finished them in the same manner. Their methods weren't bad or inadequate, they were just looking in the wrong directions.
It was the first of April when Cooper notified him of his new teammate's arrival. Upon first assumptions, he thought the older man was playing some kind of April Fool's joke on him. They worked well together, playing ideas off one another in a truly methodical show of intelligence and creativity. Cooper, as hard as Prophet fought it, grew to be the only real friend Prophet had. So why did they need another teammate? It was dictated by Fickler that all Red Cell teams had to consist of five members, that much he knew. But surely there was another reason.
He arrived at Cooper's loft at nine o'clock that night per Cooper's request. From the exterior, it appeared to be an old abandoned brick warehouse of some kind. There were two sets of windows, first and second story, and several of them were blocked by what he assumed were sheets. Curtains held back the majority of dimmed light, but the soft hue peeked out in time with a single human shadow passing through. Street lamps illuminated a metal grate serving as a door to the interior, the glint of motorcycle reflectors through the holes grabbing his attention. He knew Cooper only rented a standard four wheel car when necessary. Otherwise he preferred his motorcycle. Prophet didn't fault him on such a thing because he had a motorcycle when he was in his early twenties. So he knew how thrilling they were.
The first of April showers started an hour before, meaning Prophet's red flannel jacket was damp on the shoulders where his black umbrella was pulled away from him with the winds. It was wet and chilly, the passing cars slinging water in their wake and the street lamps visibly shining the rain. Prophet tugged his jacket zipper closer to his chin, sniffling against the air before he rapped his knuckles against the cold grate paneling.
There was a rustling noise somewhere beyond the dark alcove, then a blinding sudden flicker of a light bulb attached to the ceiling springing to life. Another set of doors opened, one aged metal while the other creaked of solid wood, before Cooper headed towards him with a welcoming smile on dark features. He skirted around the parked motorcycle, his tattered baggy jeans and long sleeved gray tee shirt brushing the side and his old boots scuffling against concrete. The grate was pulled open and Prophet was invited in, the umbrella in hand taken from him and shaken before propped against the door safely. Once they were inside where he could see the other man properly, Prophet realized that he seemed genuinely pleased to see him.
As Prophet followed him inside, he paused for a few moments to observe the loft décor. Sections of the floor plan were separated by metal support beams and antique wooden foldable walls. Candles across surfaces assisted the dimmed lighting, giving it a comfortable glow that felt welcoming and calm. Bookshelves were skewed about, littered with various books he couldn't read the names of and trinkets he found strangely fascinating. Paintings were scattered about, some hung on walls because they were finished while others were one easels staged on one portion of the loft that seemed to be centralized for painting supplies. All of them, must of Prophet's concern, were painted in the same grays, blacks, whites, and reds, and resembled some form of murder scene never seen before. Which was truly disconcerting when he thought about the representation behind each one.
A single table sat towards the kitchen area, surrounded by the foldable walls and few potted fern plants and other bookshelves. Prophet could see someone sitting at the table with his head down against the wood, but couldn't get a clear view of who he was just yet. He did see the chess board placed to one side and the stack of paperwork to the other. The kitchen area itself was a long counter resembling a bar with few metal cushioned stools pushed in front of it. A tea metal kettle whistled on the stove top, a small glass mason jar of crushed tea leaves and a ceramic coffee cup on the cutting board counter beside it.
"He's jet-lagged. Tea always helps more than coffee." Cooper stated quietly as he headed for the steaming pot and removed it from the burner, clicking off the stove and pouring the water into a second metal pot before adding a spoonful of the tea leaves.
Prophet turned his attention to the center table at the sound of paper shuffling and a mumbled slew of words he couldn't distinguish. From the position opposite Cooper, he could see the man in question dragging a tan hooded jacket sleeve against the polished surface towards the stack of paperwork. At that rate, he was going to knock them to the floor. Judging by his posture, Prophet estimated that he was only in his mid twenties. No more than twenty five at the most. His face was still pressed into the table motionlessly, dark short hair unruly in the sense that it made him appear like a teenager rather than anyone else. The motion was sloppy and uncoordinated, which suggested he wasn't truly aware of his actions as sleep demanded attention. The swing of holey tatted jean clad legs and black socks against wooden flooring meant he was probably dreaming too.
That explained why Cooper kept his voice low.
"Is that the guy you were telling me about?" Prophet whispered with a jab of his finger over his shoulder at the other man.
Cooper did tell him a small amount pertaining to his new teammate. His name was Mick Rawson, born in Wales but raised in the foster system of London with his younger sister. Supposedly he spent six years fighting in the British SAS from the time he was nineteen. And between missions he worked with Interpol to catch international serial killers. The only credits to his name that the FBI would even consider were that given by the British SAS and Interpol. Prophet imagined it took a lot more to get him out of the SAS and to the FBI than it did to get himself out of prison.
He sounded like a notable asset to the team. But Prophet knew there was something more to it.
"It is. He'll be staying here for the next month until I can help him find his own apartment. I've got a spare room upstairs. He starts training tomorrow morning at the FBI building after a meeting with Fickler. I'm sure you two can become acquainted over paperwork." Cooper replied with a nod of his head.
"Paperwork? I have a hard enough time understanding everything I had to sign months ago. Somehow I don't think I'll be any help…"
He stopped in mid sentence as the swoosh of paperwork from the table followed a scuffle, a curse in what Prophet assumed was Welsh, and the distinct echo of a knife being drawn from a sheath.
Cooper dropped the lid to the mason jar and rushed for the younger man, placing himself between Prophet and Mick without a word. Prophet stood on his toes to see Mick blink at Cooper hazily, features pale and drawn and in desperate need of a shave. He looked as though he was going to be sick, like his stomach was twisting into knots at whatever he had been dreaming about in rhythm with the rapid intakes of air, and Prophet knew by the vice grip on the military issue combat knife in one hand that the younger man didn't know the difference between reality and a dream instantly. Cooper kept his hand outward and open, portraying that he wasn't a threat as he whispered something Prophet couldn't hear. After a few tense seconds his shoulders sagged a few centimeters and Cooper was able to gently pry the knife from his grip, placing it on the table and out of sight.
"It was just a nightmare. It wasn't real. Just breathe." Cooper instructed quietly with a firm grip on the other man's shoulder, shaking him every few seconds to kept rouse him back to the present.
Prophet teetered on his heels nervously as he watched them, stepping aside to gain a better view. He didn't know what to do or say. Nothing sounded correct, no matter how many times he played it through his head within the ninety seconds it took Mick to realize that he was staring. When he caught the harsh glare in dark eyes, he ceased his anxious movements and offered what he hoped was a reassuring expression.
"Who the bloody hell are you?" He asked with a heavy breath, accent bitter and rough as he tried to calm himself.
"This is Prophet. I told you about him, remember?" Cooper responded calmly, shaking his shoulder lightly again.
Mick furrowed his brow as he looked up at him, seemingly trying to remember. Then he nodded briefly, turning back to Prophet with a less threatening posture. "Right, of course. I'm a bit jet-lagged so this headache is makin' me unpleasant. Sorry about that." He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, digging into the sockets and he shrank into the chair with an exaggerated sigh.
Prophet shrugged away the apology with a wince of sympathy, stuffing his hands in his jacket pocket and offering a better smile than he had forced before. He knew the effects of jet-lag from personal experience. Headaches, insomnia, irritability, disorientation, those were just the few he could remember immediately. It wasn't necessarily dangerous but it was a nuisance until the body's internal clock became accustomed to the new time zone. He waited until Cooper removed his grip from the other man, watching him return to the tea on the counter, then slid one of the chairs out from under the table opposite Mick and flopped down ungracefully. His smile fell away as the other man flinched, stiffening to draw himself rigid and glancing at the knife left on the edge of the table out of his reach.
Hyper vigilance or paranoia?
Prophet had seen both over the course of his career. Generally, it wasn't part of jet-lag, but of an underlying psychological condition. Sometimes in unsubs suffering from Schizophrenia or some other mental illness, though those were generally rare. Victims he had interviewed during cases always stayed five feet from others at the least and tended to sleep with some kind of weapon under their pillow at night. Even in few who suffered from a severe anxiety disorder such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in war veterans.
However, Cooper wouldn't have allowed someone who was clinically paranoid and hyper vigilant to work cases. The most gruesome photo or crime scene or firefight could have triggered something that could have jeopardized the entire team. Moreover, Prophet didn't feel confident of someone with that level of hyper vigilance giving him cover should he get into some kind of trouble. While the hyper vigilance makes people incredibly aware of their surroundings, it also makes them more likely to have some form of panic attack when they are needed most.
"Jet-lag, huh?" Prophet muttered, trying to divert his thoughts. It was challenging when he noticed the gaunt tone to the other man's features, the insomnia as clear as day and the headache and stress creating dark circles beneath his eyes.
"International flights tend to do that." Mick retorted with a shrug. "You would think a trip from London would be a straight hop over the pond. But the flight was rerouted twice. First time through Dublin because there was something wrong with one of the engines, then through Philadelphia before it landed at Washington International. That's twelve damned hours stuck in a cabin with screaming children and blokes that wouldn't shut the hell up and women who kept asking for my number. I swear, at one point I was seriously considering jumping out over the Atlantic and swimming back home."
Prophet couldn't help but smirk at the thought. He had used commercial flights before and they were rarely ever pleasant. If his assessment was correct, then Mick's paranoia only made that stress drastically worse. "Somehow I doubt you could swim all the way back to London, man."
"I could try."
"And get eaten by sharks on your way."
He shrugged again, forcing a smirk in amusement that contradicted the stiff posture. "Maybe. They'd have to catch me first." His response was cocky, arrogant, humorous, and childish in nature, which Prophet assumed was a true personality trait.
"Arrogant smartass, aren't you?" Prophet retorted with a grin and a shake of his head. Honestly, the quick banter between them reminded him of his once best friend. Of the verbal puns he used to exchange with Brandon that most misread as fighting. It was refreshing, entertaining, and drew a tired grin on both of them. "Were you born that way or did the SAS drill it into you? I've heard that Welsh folks are generally very proud…"
Mick's grin fell away at the words as he folded his arms with a heavy sigh, posture still tight as he studied Prophet curiously. For a moment, Prophet thought he had inadvertently stepped over the line. He blamed it on the lack of social interaction over the years, which seemed to hamper his once steady tongue towards others. Judging by the grind of Mick's teeth and the harsh gaze, he had accidentally said something inappropriate. "What'd Coop tell you?" Mick questioned commandingly.
'Not nearly as much as you may think." Cooper intervened as he set the cup of tea in front of the younger man and ducked out of sight to collect the paperwork scattered on the floor. "Show a little more respect. We're all on the same team here." Mick reached for the ceramic cup tenuously, swirling the contents before sniffing it. Prophet heard Cooper mumble something undoubtedly in frustration and annoyance before he rose back to his feet with the paperwork in hand. "It's just tea. I used the tealeaves Jenna packed for you and found the instructions on the internet. If you don't trust me not to poison you with it, then trust Jenna."
Jenna, Prophet thought as he watched Mick sip the tea greedily a moment later, must have been his sister. In addition, by the insinuations at her name, she was one of the only few people Mick really did trust. He probably had severe trust issues as well as insomnia. Prophet wasn't sure if that was caused by abusive foster homes in his youth or something he experienced when he was overseas. Either one carried the same result.
Mick, for whatever reason, was undeniably paranoid.
Meaning earning his trust, even in the slightest, was going to be a challenge in itself.
Once Cooper placed the paperwork back on the table, he leaned against the surface with his hands spread on top and looked between the two expectantly. "I don't expect you two to become friends within the first day. But I do expect both of you to work together from now on. Tomorrow afternoon you two can work on the official paperwork for the director. Prophet can help you finish the academy classes because he just graduated again a few months ago."
"Shouldn't be too hard…" Mick muttered as he finished the tea in one final gulp, clutching the mug inches from the table.
"The instructors are a bunch of biased jackasses." Prophet interrupted bluntly, the words falling from his lips in a matter of seconds before he could stop them. It was true, although he probably would not have been so blunt to the instructors themselves, and it was only fair that he warned Mick. They didn't like Prophet because he was a criminal that had only gotten out of prison via an agreement by the new director of the FBI. In a way, he was viewed as a tainted asset. And more than likely, once they learned that an SAS soldier offered a position in a Red Cell team by the director as well, Mick was going to be treated with the same amount of prejudice.
Mick blinked at him in surprise, eyebrows disappearing into his bangs, much in the same fashion as Cooper's expression. But he didn't argue the point, nor did Cooper, and smirked with a shrug. "Sure they are. Sandhurst was the same way. But I don't think they'll give me much grief when I kick their asses in the firearms drills. Not to brag, but I do have the reputation as the best sniper in the British SAS. That's got to count for something, eh?"
Yeah, that counted towards quite a lot.
Starting over was the hardest decision of Prophet's life. More than agreeing to sign the divorce papers Debra put in front of him in prison, more than beating McCoy to death after Daniel's corpse was found, and certainly more than selling his soul to his fellow criminals in prison. It was the realization that he had something new, something different and better and safer, that imposed the stress on him.
Some portion of him didn't believe he deserved it. Another, something more rational, argued that he needed it.
It had taken months to fall into a comfortable rhythm. Wake at seven o'clock every morning, eat breakfast either with Cooper at the local café or pick it up from the doughnut shop several blocks down the street from his apartment building, then travel to the temporary office Cooper rented to spend the rest of the day solving cold case files. It was simplistic and casual, and Prophet found it rather easy to become immersed in such a routine.
However, that was only after he graduated from the academy again. Before his graduation, life had been a mess of tests and classes and stress.
Therefore, he understood what Mick had to go through in the academy. He understood the courses and instructors were rigorous, his classmates roughly his same age but woefully inexperienced in comparison to a credited soldier, the days long and stressful in themselves. Mick, as much as Prophet found it hard to agree with him on multiple subjects, deserved the same level of assistance that Cooper gave during Prophet's reinstatement into the FBI.
Because unlike Prophet, he was not starting a new life in a familiar country after years of imprisonment for a crime. He had a life in London with foster parents and sisters that loved him. At least that was what Prophet assumed when he heard him mention his family to Cooper days after his arrival to the US. He had just returned from Afghanistan at the end of January. There were no more missions assigned from the SAS or Interpol yet, and Prophet was doubtful Mick would agree to such even if there were. That meant he could have focused solely on the FBI requirements.
Essentially, he was starting over in foreign country and a new job, both of which left him a visible outcast when the drastic differences between England and the Untied States presented themselves.
Therefore, Prophet understood, and he tried to assist his adjustment accordingly.
Unfortunately, Mick did not seem to want the help.
A week before his graduation, in late June, Prophet realized that the behavior he had witnessed since his introduction to the sniper was only worsened by the forced assistance. He knew alpha personalities didn't accept help willingly. They despised sympathy and the prospect of weakness. In addition, it became transparent over the course of the weeks that Mick was no exception to that assessment. Prophet had hoped, and Cooper seemed to have the same idea, that Mick would have been more lenient considering his lack of experience in the United States and FBI. He should have accepted the help because he had no other choice.
Prophet had admittedly tried to be friendly. He tried to invite Mick to the bar opposite Cooper's loft on the weekend nights, to breakfasts at the local café and lunches at the country dinner down the street. However, he only agreed if Cooper attended as well. At the bar, he flirted with a handful of women and usually left with one or two for a cheap motel before the bar shut down for the night, then returned to Cooper's loft sometime before Prophet arrived to invite them for breakfast, hung-over and disgustingly arrogant about his escapades the night before. No, Prophet did not need nor wanted to know the details of such. The lunches and dinners were met with a disturbing amount of paranoia. Mick refused to sit next to anyone else or an open window, flirted with the waitresses that willingly gave their cell phone numbers on napkins, and profiled every other person in the room as if he were afraid any one of them were going to open fire upon the customers.
Paranoia, hyper vigilance, insomnia, unwillingness for close contact from others unless completely wasted on alcohol, and refusal towards assistance and crowded places. All signs pointed to a psychologically disturbed and tormented mind. It was hidden fairly well, yet not well enough.
However, when Cooper was called by Fickler on a late Friday afternoon, urgently requesting his presence at the FBI building almost an hour away, Prophet knew Mick's hostile attitude had caught up with him. He didn't argue with Cooper about driving them to the building, even though Cooper was hesitant to agree, because he wasn't just going to sit in the office and study cold case files while one of his team was in trouble.
"He got himself into some kind of trouble because of his attitude, didn't he?"
Ten minutes before they arrived at the parking garage, Prophet decided to question the behavior that had been nagging at him since the first day they met with Cooper. His car stopped at a red light for a few minutes, waiting for the opposing stream of vehicles to subside and the light to change. The interior was an old craft of wood and gray upholstery, the stench of dust and dirt that had once layered the surfaces faded, a buzz of a classic nineties rock band from the dimmed radio speakers breaking the silence between them. Outwards, the wipers against the windshield squeaked in time with the movements to dispel the afternoon rain, sunlight peaking over the diminishing clouds overhead, and the temperature rising indicative of the summer flash storm.
Beside him in the passenger seat, Cooper glanced at him with the same tense expression he had been carrying since the phone call from Fickler interrupted their casework. On his knee sat a hand-sized frayed black leathered notebook, splayed open with a pen in hand inches from page Cooper had been sketching in. Prophet couldn't determine what he was drawing, but it seemed to keep his mind busy from the troubling thoughts of their other teammate.
Cooper never went into detail, but Prophet could see that he and Mick were close friends. Mick felt comfortable around the older man, much in the relationship of brothers in arms or even a father figure. It was hinted on a few occasions that they even served overseas together, which insinuated that Cooper had probably gotten him out of several life-threatening situations before.
"Fickler didn't give specifics." He replied fretfully, tapping his boot clad foot against the floor anxiously. "He just said that Mick got in a fight with another student and we need to get there now."
That should have surprised Prophet. However, as he learned days before, when one of the instructors invaded the sniper's personal space as a method of intimidation and received a swift kick to the groin, Mick had a rather bad temper. Especially if he felt threatened.
"Is he usually violent, or is it just because he's still adjusting to everything?" Prophet asked, drumming his finger against the steering wheel as the opposing line of vehicles slowed.
Cooper breathed a sigh, dropping the pen inside the book on his knees before running the same hand over his eyes. He was stressed, Prophet decided, and for obviously good reasons. "He's not usually like this." He stated sincerely. "Really, he's a good kid. But the years of working in the SAS and Interpol, witnessing his teammates get slaughtered in the field because of a war they didn't even sign into and then working some of the most gruesome serial cases Interpol has ever had a hand in, it all just left him trying to understand humanity again. He's only been out of Afghanistan since the last of January, and he won't tell me what happened but I know from a contact that his team was caught in an IED ambush during their last mission and Mick was the only one who made it out in one piece, so he's still becoming used to civilian life again."
Prophet stared at the older man in speechlessness, ignoring the changing light in front of him for several moments to comprehend what he had just heard. He had seen a teammate shot on the field before. Once, the first year he had been working for the FBI, he had even seen one of his closest friends gun downed by a serial sniper during a raid. It was surreal when something like that happened, as if you were living a nightmare that just would not end. Sometimes the feeling lasted for days until the funeral, until reality sank in like a ton of bricks in the pit of your stomach. From what Prophet had seen in few others, the feeling never really ebbed away completely.
Losing a teammate in the field was rough to begin with. However, in a war zone, seeing close friends blown to pieces directly in front of you on more than one occasion was so much worse.
Suddenly Mick's behavior made perfect logical sense.
The blare of the car horn behind him drew Prophet's attention to the road again. He gripped the steering wheel for a moment longer, glaring at the hatchback car behind him in the rear view in annoyance, and stepped on the gas to ease back into traffic.
"Has he been tested for PTSD?" He blurted the next thought cautiously, unsure of how Cooper would respond to the underlying assumption.
Cooper nodded briskly and replied, "After he returned to London. His foster parents tricked him into talking with a psychologist. He caught on to what they were doing half an hour into the lunch and purposefully answered the questions in a way that contradicted her criteria paperwork. He lied and because it was so damned convincing, the psychologist could not get a proper reading on him. His foster mother contacted me afterwards and asked if there was anything I could do. The only thing I could think of was to get him into a new environment without the pressure everyone else back in SAS and Interpol was giving him. It's just taking some time to take full effect."
Prophet frowned at him, turning the car onto the street with the parking garage just ahead. That was some form of advanced reverse psychology. To be honest, Prophet was finding it hard to understand in its entirety. He understood the idea behind bringing him into a new environment without the constant pressure from SAS and Interpol. Surely, his family could have provided the necessary support to compensate. Unless the family, like Prophet's, had been unsupportive of his time overseas and therefore did not desire to help. Prophet had the suspicion that Jenna adored her brother, which meant it was possible that she was the only tether keeping it together.
"So he's just traumatized?" He questioned, slowing the car as the parking garage grew closer.
Cooper seemed to mull over his response, then offered another curt nod in agreement. "Basically. But I wouldn't say that to him directly. Not unless you want to get your ass kicked. And trust me when I say that despite his size, he's quick on his feet and knows how to defend himself remarkably well." He paused for a moment to sigh, closing his notebook with a snap and stuffing it in his jacket pocket as the car turned into the parking garage entrance. "That's what I'm afraid of in this instance. That some punk pissed him off or threatened him and he defended himself on instinct. The last person who really threatened him, he had him on the floor and in a chokehold before I could stop him. Damn near almost cost him his job in Interpol and SAS for that one."
Somehow, Prophet couldn't doubt that.
"He put the guy in the hospital with two broken ribs, both arms dislocated, and a cracked skull from smashing his head into the floor repeatedly, Sam. I can't just let that slide. It's damned lucky he didn't kill him. Otherwise things could be much worse for everyone." Director Fickler all but shouted, tone crass and frustrated through the partially closed oak door of his office.
Two broken ribs, both arms dislocated, and a cracked skull from smashing his head into the floor repeatedly.
Prophet had gotten into physical hand-to-hand fights with others before. He was quite skilled at the art of self-defense, if he were honest with himself. In his younger teenage years, it involved other teenagers in his school. Most of the time it concerned which girlfriend he had at the time that left him for another fellow football teammate, or the bullies that he had stopped from beating one of the younger kids from the science and chess clubs for their lunch money. When he joined the FBI, he found that few unsubs dared to confront him personally. The scarce few who did were usually driven into unconsciousness by a tight choke-hold and a swift slam of his fist against their temple. During his prison years, he tried to avoid the riots that broke out and the gang fights. Unfortunately, he had gotten in the middle of a few. Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time had left him with a few scars for show. However, he found that using his larger posture and long limbs to his advantage tended to lead to less bloodshed.
However, never in his years, aside from the blind rage he used against McCoy, which he honestly didn't remember all the details of, had he caused someone else that amount of physical injuries. He used to spout curses that would have made a sailor blush when he was pissed at the world. Alternatively, purposefully break something in frustration because it was better than attacking someone else. Never had he actually attacked someone without a damned good reason.
McCoy gave him a damned good reason.
For Mick, someone who stole from him and then broke said item to throw it back in his face was a damned good reason as well.
Fickler hadn't told Prophet everything, but he said enough to paint a basic description before dragging Cooper in his office to discuss what sort of punishment Mick was going to receive for his actions. And Mick's furious expression as he sat on the floor in front of the waiting chairs outside the office, hair tousled as if he had been dragging his hands through it in stress and navy blue hooded jacket ruffled and ripped on the shoulder seam from his fight, suggested that the fight hadn't been one sided at all.
Supposedly, and Prophet wasn't sure how much was entirely accurate, one of the younger academy students had been known to bully the newer students as if they were in high school. During the last physical training test just two hours before, they had just finished the timed run course and then ordered to go shower and meet their instructor in a classroom when they were finished for their last written test. After the shower, when Mick was dressing in the locker room, the student found his personal bag and stole Mick's CD player and headphones. Mick found him listening to it, they argued and Mick demanded for its return. When the student refused, Mick cursed his entire lineage in a rather disgusting display of profanity. The student then proceeded to snap the headphone wires and throw them at Mick's feet. Then smashed the CD player and the CD inside to pieces and kicked them at him.
After that, the witnesses stated that it was a mess of fists and feet and blood.
Because the incident took place in the Quantico building, which was just over an hour drive time from the Washington federal building, and Fickler demanded to see Mick personally after the incident, he traveled via helicopter to the federal building.
Mick, other than a few bruised ribs he was tenuous of, was unharmed by the entire fight. He was pissed, grinding his teeth and mumbling to himself in Welsh as he tried to repair his belongings with super glue and tape, but physically unscathed. Considering the student was larger than him that was quite telling towards Cooper's previous warnings.
While he physically unharmed, psychologically he was a wreck.
Prophet stayed two seats away, watching carefully but not saying a word. He drummed his fingers on the leg of his jeans to keep himself otherwise occupied, allowing himself to consider what he was observing exactly whilst listening to Fickler and Cooper argue just beyond the office door. Thankfully, the hall was empty save for the secretary desk, and the woman who had been sitting behind it had disappeared to the bathroom ten minutes before. Other than Fickler's office, the only adjacent room was a locked janitor closet and a fire escape stairwell door.
He tried to understand the few English words slurred by Mick's accent, but it was difficult to discern between English and Welsh exactly. Surprisingly enough, Mick didn't seem to care that Prophet was staring at him. He just sat cross-legged on the floor with the pieces of his CD player scattered in front of him, a role of office tape and a bottle of super glue most likely conned from the secretary in the midst, and frantically attempted to fix it. Prophet knew by the amount of broken plastic and board pieces that it wasn't going functional anymore.
Mick couldn't fix the CD player, the CD, or the headphones. For whatever reason, instead of replacing them with new, he was on the verge of shooting the next person that he came across because he was enraged.
Prophet profiled that it was a subconscious reaction rooted from the fact that he probably didn't have much of anything during his younger years. He protected what he did own vigorously, and Prophet could understand that because he did the same after Debra took the majority of his own personal possessions. They became something to hold onto when he had nothing left; physical objects that mounted him in the real world of possibilities that maybe one day he could have been a free man again. Therefore, the fact that someone had stolen from Mick and then proceeded to break it was inexcusable.
Mick's reaction, in Prophet's eyes, was justifiable.
"The guy stole from him and then broke the items in front of him. What did you honestly expect was going to happen? You know as well as I do that men like Mick don't take well to theft or loss of something personal…" Cooper's voice drifted through the wooden barrier just loud enough to capture Prophet's attention.
"He's not a child, Sam!" Fickler interrupted with a slam of his fist on his desk. The noise echoed through the hall, making Prophet react by leaning forward in his seat rigidly. Mick jumped at the noise, posture tightening as he looked towards the door with large eyes in full alert. "He's a damned adult! It's about damned time he acts like it!" Fickler continued, lowering his tone after a few moments. "I know you two are close friends, but you can't protect him. The fact is that he's damaged and he's a liability. I told you that in February when you tried to convince me to let him join. I told you that in 2004 when you wanted to go back to London after they returned home. You need to realize that he is not a stray puppy you can pick up off the street and turn into a reliable watchdog. A reliable team isn't made of tragic pasts like that. They can't be trusted when it matters most."
They. Not he. But they.
As if to say, that Mick wasn't the only mentally unstable person on the team. It sounded like Fickler was insinuating that Prophet was as well. That Cooper had tried to create a team of misfits because they were brilliant. But they were too mentally scarred to be of any real use to the FBI because there was too much baggage beneath it all. They were a liability, and therefore didn't deserve a position at the FBI in a Red Cell team. Regardless of IQ status or records that stated otherwise.
They didn't deserve a second chance at life.
Fickler didn't have to say it. Prophet read between the lines because it was simple. That was one of his reputable traits at one time. It wasn't fair, he seethed wordlessly as he locked his jaw into a scowl and studied the door, gripping his knees until his fingers began to ache. What the hell did Fickler know? Prophet had spent six years, three months, and four days in a federal prison in California for the justifiable murder of the bastard who slaughtered his six-year-old son. He had lost his life in a heartbeat, and spent the past several months just trying to start a new one. Cooper gave him a second chance because he believed Prophet was going to use it wisely. So far, Prophet had done just that.
He could only assume that Cooper gave a similar offer to Mick in some fashion. A new country to fight for, a new home and family without the pressures his previous life was driving down upon him like an overbearing weight.
Cooper had saved both of them from themselves. It wasn't fair that Fickler didn't see the same thing Cooper did. That he didn't believe that they even deserved a second chance to live again.
Prophet was going to intervene. He was going to burst into the office and explain that if Cooper hadn't gotten him out of prison, if Cooper hadn't put him back on solid ground, he probably would have hung himself in prison. It didn't matter that doing so would have been the end of his career in the FBI. That if he was to argue with the director, he probably wasn't going to be dealt with the same amount of understanding and leniency as Cooper had given him. He rose to his feet regardless, clenching his fists to contain his temper, and closed the gap between himself and the door in two long strides.
Cooper was there to stop him though. He pulled the door open before Prophet could lay a finger on the surface, one hand still gripping the door handle and the other held outward to stop him. Stern dark eyes trailed to Mick behind Prophet, who had risen to his knees at the sound of the door as if he were going to stand at a moments notice, and gave a nod in silent order to stand down. Prophet could see the frustration boiling in his features, the tight set of his jaw that clearly meant he was refraining from being unnecessarily blunt with Fickler, and knew in a heartbeat that there was only one possible outcome for the situation.
Prophet's rant on the tip of his tongue wouldn't have helped in the slightest.
Cooper leaned just slightly closer to Prophet and whispered, "I got this."
Meaning he was going to defend Prophet and Mick. He was going to be the fall guy, vouch his entire reputation on the people he chose for his team, and Prophet found himself immensely grateful at the notion. Cooper had been able to get him out of prison before his sentence was finished. Prophet was sure he could have talked the director into showing a bit more lenience and understanding if he tried hard enough.
At Prophet's short nod in agreement, Cooper shut the door with an audible click. That left Prophet to attend to Mick, who had turned back to his scattered pieces after mumbling something Prophet didn't quite understand through his accent. He forced himself to relax, trying to remember the calming techniques he used to rely on when his temper threatened to get the better of him. Then finally exhaled after a few moments and felt the physical signatures of his anger start to ebb away.
He approached Mick cautiously, keeping himself in front of the younger sniper and at least two feet away at all times. Sidestepping a few of the pieces, he sank to his knees and finally managed to sit cross-legged opposite him. Mick had him on age and physical health and some aspects. It always took Prophet an extra five seconds to pull himself off the floor than Mick. Because of that, Prophet envied the youthfulness the Welshman still had. To be quite blunt, age was a nasty bastard that decided to make itself known just after Prophets thirty-ninth birthday just six months before.
Mick didn't remove his gaze from Prophet, even as Prophet just placed his hands on his knees and returned the look equally. He was still hyper vigilant to a fault at that point, noticing everything in seconds that seemed to be longer to Prophet than himself. One hand hovered over a piece of the broken CD, another inches from the attaching piece.
Prophet noticed the designs on the CD because he had the same one. It was one of the few that Debra left him because she hadn't been a fan of the band as he had. She liked a few songs, but not the majority of their albums. The album in question was from an American band, primarily alternative rock or 1990s grunge, and certainly not what Prophet expected a prideful Welshman like Mick to listen to in his free time. The CD itself was old and scratched in several places, the pieces less smooth to indicate that it had been put to good use over the years, the top label torn in places and stained with who knew what.
It was just unexpected.
"Stone Temple Pilots?" It was more of a statement because Prophet already knew the answer. He was just curious as to how Mick would have responded.
His eyes fell down to the pieces, the frown on his face loosening microscopically. "You've got the same album, eh?" He questioned quietly, snatching the pieces and the tape in one fluid movement.
Prophet nodded, hoping the reassuring expression on his face seemed sincere enough. "It's one of my favorites. Maybe I can help you find another copy. There's a music store a few blocks from my apartment building. They sell all kinds of used oldies for a decent price…"
"I don't want a damned new one." Mick interrupted bitterly when the tape refused to hold the two pieces together. He slammed it to the carpet a second later, running his fingers over the sharp edges dangerously. Something about that particular CD was special. Prophet didn't know why or how, he just knew that Mick wasn't going to settle for a new one. Either someone important had given him the CD, or it held a deeper sentimental value in the essence of it once belonged to someone else.
"You know, man, we do live in the twenty first century. There's such a thing as MP3s and IPOD and downloadable music files." Perhaps that was a bit hypocritical. Prophet had a 2002 IPOD Debra had bought him before the nightmare started. Unfortunately, Debra took it during the divorce as well, and he hadn't had the desire to purchase a new one since his release. Besides, in his opinion, a CD had better clarity than an MP3 file ever did.
Mick pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut as if to ward off an approaching headache, holding his breath for several seconds before exhaling exaggeratedly. "Yeah, I know that. I've got an MP3 back home. Apparently, I was so busy in everything else involved with moving to the States that I missed a bag. It's on the way, but it'll take another week to pass through customs because it had some other stuff that will probably raise some questions in it too."
"Other stuff like what?"
He shrugged nonchalantly, seemingly realizing that he wasn't going to fix the device on the floor of the FBI building with super glue and tape as he started to compile the pieces in a small stack. Prophet didn't dare try to touch them because he knew it wouldn't have ended well. "Some old dog tags from my first stint in Afghanistan, a few of the awards and medals I got during service, a couple rifle shell casings, and half my collection of burner mobiles…" He rambled for a moment, stopping as he looked back up at Prophet and narrowed his eyes in distrust. "Why do you care? Not to sound like an ass or anything…"
"First, because I was just curious. Second, your paranoia does make you look like a jackass. Is that on purpose, or are you afraid someone is going to come and eat you alive or something at any given moment in time? Because if you do, then you might want to get checked out for paranoid schizophrenia." Prophet replied briskly.
Mick stared at him for a moment, mouth agape and response on the tip of his tongue. Then his posture changed from pissed at the world and all who inhabited it, to brutally sincere as his brow furrowed in thought. A flash of a smirk ghosted his lips. "You're the first person that's ever said it that bluntly before. Everyone else just assumes I've got some untreated PTSD or something. I mean, no it's not on purpose. I didn't think I was being paranoid. I was just being careful."
"There's a fine line between being careful and being paranoid." Prophet replied. "Since the first time we met, you have been leaning more towards paranoid than anything else. And I didn't understand why until Cooper told me what happened on your last mission in the SAS. I can't even image what it must have been like to watch your teammates and friends get murdered like that."
He expected the sniper to lash out at him for the comment about his previous war days. Any questions pertaining to his stint in the British SAS had always resulted in a warning glare to drop the subject or a blatant refusal to respond. There was a decent reason for such, Prophet knew and understood that. However, Mick's latest behavior meant that the silence of it all was eating away at him. He just needed a friend, someone other than Cooper he could confide in without judgment, and Prophet wasn't entirely sure he could do that.
He sure as hell could try.
Mick, instead of shutting down about the subject, dropped his eyes to the pile of pieces in front of him. "The CD belonged to my foster brother. We were stationed in Iraq together between the time I was nineteen and twenty-one. He used to play this damned thing over and over again." He paused to draw a heavy breath. The tired features highlighted the edging sorrow beneath the surface, the sincerity that he couldn't mask despite his best efforts. Prophet was almost afraid to hear what happened to the sniper's foster brother. Whatever it was hadn't been good, otherwise he wouldn't have clung to the CD so tightly. "I was listening to it earlier before classes started. That bloody arshole broke it, so I repaid the favor."
Prophet blinked at him in surprise, stunned for a moment. It wasn't the mention of a brother that surprised him. He expected Mick to have more than one sibling, blood related or not, that he didn't talk about openly because he was a very private person in nature. It was the carelessness underneath that startled him the most.
True, the person did steal from him and then started the fight by breaking it. However, he had just bruised a few ribs on Mick. Mick had actually put him the hospital in retaliation. He could have killed the man if a few of the other students hadn't pulled him off the guy. Moreover, he didn't show any remorse for it.
If the voice in the back of Prophet's head was correct, then Mick felt his actions were justified. Even if they logically and professionally were not.
"You do realize that you could be charged with assault, right?" Prophet asked pointedly.
Mick raised an eyebrow in response and shrugged. "It was self defense. He threw the first punch. I warned him that if he didn't give it back, then I would have to take it from him. You see how well that went."
"Who taught you how to fight like that? Because I've got say, taking down someone a lot bigger than you with only a few bruised ribs is pretty damned impressive."
A smirk flashed on the sniper's face as he answered honestly, "He did. My brother, I mean. He was the best hand-to-hand combat fighter SAS had for a while. Taught me everything I know about how to stay on your toes and when to throw a punch. We used to have these bets going on between some of the others in the camp. Most of the time he'd kick my ass hands down. But I did manage to win a few."
"Past tense." Prophet mumbled to himself, internally cursing himself when Mick gave him a confused expression. "Everything you mentioned about your brother was past tense. Like he's dead…"
"He's not." Mick corrected instantly. When he continued, it was more to the effect of hesitance and reluctance to admit the truth. "He's not dead. He just never came back from Iraq. Not as the same person I knew, anyways."
That was when Mick's actions started to make sense. The CD belonged to a beloved foster brother, a mentor of sorts that probably raised him and cared for him like family, and the same brother never came back from war in one piece. Which meant Mick was still holding onto whatever was left of his brother, not the shell of the man he used to call family, because that was all there was left of him. When the bully broke the CD, something snapped and he lost his temper.
Which was probably the same point Cooper was arguing with Fickler at that very moment.
"Tell ya what," Prophet responded, his rooted southern accent presenting itself for just a moment before he shoved it away, trying to mask his sympathy because he knew how much Mick despised it. "We'll put the CD back together. It won't ever play again. So I'll drive you to the music store and you can pick out whatever music you want. I'll even foot the bill."
"Why would you do that?" Mick asked in confusion, fumbling with a wayward piece of plastic in hand.
Because Prophet could sympathize with him. For the first time since they met, he felt like there was something they could stand for on common ground. He knew how difficult life had been when everything was taken from him, when all he had left was a box of miscellaneous junk that captured the better days he tried to hang onto. So he understood why Mick clung to something that had the same effect from his brother.
Cooper had helped Prophet stand again, and it seemed that his attempts to do the same for Mick weren't going as planned. Therefore, Prophet decided with a quick smirk towards the younger man, he was going to assist as much as he possibly could.
"Call it a late birthday gift. That should hold you until your MP3 gets here, right?" That was just an excuse of sorts. Prophet hadn't gotten him anything on his birthday back in April because he didn't know it was his birthday until later that night. Cooper invited them for a night at the bar across his loft, and had given him a new book he had been searching for the past week. They had kept the celebrations to a minimum as preferred by Mick.
Mick cocked his head to the side and studied him, as if trying to find the ulterior motive behind the words. There wasn't one. Prophet wasn't lying or trying to deceive him in some fashion. He was just trying to make him see that paranoia and hyper vigilance, although probably kept him alive in war zones, had no justifications in modern society. Someone wasn't going to shoot him with a sniper rifle or steal from him without a reason. Whether it was because the person was an average jackass, they were a reoccurring criminal in some way, or they were provoked. There was a reason for it, and keeping yourself out of the limelight tended to be better than being noticeably outwardly paranoid.
"Thanks, mate." Mick stated after a tense few seconds, visibly relaxing just enough to prove that he understood.
They weren't friends. Prophet didn't expect that until he became better adjusted to civilian life again. Nevertheless, they were teammates, a work in progress, and that was better than the alternative. It was just going to take time. This was a start though, finding common ground, and that was all Prophet could ask for.
He had a team again, although there were two more members Cooper had yet to recruit, which was entirely opposite from his previous life. This was a surrogate family, a man he admired and owed his life to and a sniper battling his own demons. Fickler may not have agreed with it, but Prophet couldn't care less. He had something substantial again, and he wasn't going to allow politics to tear it apart for a second time.
Note- Ta-da! Finally! It's finished! This took forever to finish, and I apologize for that. Between trying a new perspective which always takes a bit longer, and the fact that my younger sister is in the hospital again with another lung infection thanks to the damned cold virus that was going around (She's got Cystic Fibrosis), writing has been a bit difficult.
So, just a quick few points towards this. I wanted to do something with Prophet this time because it was in my head for a while and wouldn't leave me alone. This shows how he got out of prison and gives a lot of background that will be useful later. It also shows how he joined the team. Mick, naturally, comes in second. That part really plays into the first one shot I posted as far as Mick's attitude. In the first one shot it wasn't nearly as bad. This just shows how it started and how Prophet and him found common ground to work with. Which is the base behind their friendship, really. I will expound on that further because it's interesting. Lastly, I mentioned Liam in a vague sense as to not mess up the current story line. Prophet didn't exactly put the pieces together. Therefore that coincides with his reaction when he learned the truth about what happened to Liam.
I think that's all for now. You know what to do, right? Reviews are loved and appreciated. A huge thanks to all who have read, reviewed, and subscribed to my work so far!