BETA: Nope, nada, zip. I wish I had the guts to ask.
A/N: I was greatly inspired by the great Faye Dartmouth, the reigning monarch of Chaos H/C Fics. Thank you so much.
A/N 2: I'm kind of happy with the way this story is going, but I love constructive criticism. If you hate it (and there might be good reason for that), think of cute stray puppies and maybe kindness will come effortlessly.
Of course, like pneumonia, it's gonna get worse before it gets better. Also, the title will hopefully make sense as I overcome the lazies and keep writing. Or, if it's really bad... I'll stop.
"I don't like it."
Billy Collins was seated haphazardly in a wooden chair by the window, his head tilted back as he tried to catch as much of the breeze that came in. His Adam's apple bobbed as he spoke and Rick turned to him curiously.
"What do you mean?" the young operative asked concern etching his brow.
"The timing's off," Michael offered vaguely as he sliced off another piece of the severely disfigured pear in his hand. He had positioned himself on the only bed in the room and from the way he occasionally squirmed, it was as uncomfortable as it looked.
Casey was situated at a table in the corner closest to the door. A laptop sat open in front of him, it's fan whirring with the effort of functioning in the scorching heat.
The city of Rabat is the capital of Morocco. Summers here weren't exactly hell on earth considering it enjoyed a rather Mediterranean climate. But as luck would have it, the one summer the ODS were in town, the temperature had peaked at a surprising 48º Celsius. Rick and his knowledge of the city had been tested. The flight had been long. Casey had been annoyed. Billy had called it 'Global Warming' and Rick hadn't felt any better.
The adhan to the noon prayer had just been called and people were flocking to the mosque across the street.
Billy sat up, taking the binoculars that hung around his neck and looked towards their rendezvous point.
"What do you mean the timings off?" Rick asked a little louder this time and Billy turned away from the window and looked at him sharply.
"It's prayer time now, right," Michael said leaning forward and tossing the pear core at the waste basket, "It means when the people are done praying, they go home, have lunch and then rest until the afternoon prayer."
Rick considered the explanation.
"It won't be that crowded on the street when the meet actually happens," Billy continued, "Obviously, there will be people... it's a farmer's market right there." The Scot waved his hand out the window at the thinning crowd around the marketplace.
"It could be a grab and go."
Everyone looked up. Casey hadn't spoken at all since the morning when he had shoved Billy out the door and ordered him to buy fruits from the market. Apparently, breakfast and water could be combined together.
"What's a grab and go?" Rick asked looking confused.
"Tell him, Billy," Casey said and from his tone, Rick guessed there was a story there. It also earned the man an exasperated smirk.
"That's what we call this sneaky maneuver we got blind sided with some years ago," Billy said, leaning forward and resting his expressive hands on his knees, "You arrange a meet some place you know won't be that crowded, then, when you see your target, you walk past like everybody else, but you grab him and take him with you." At the word 'grab', Billy spoke louder, lurched forward and closed his hands into fists, as if strangling an imaginary foe.
Rick jerked in his seat. His brow furrowed and he looked at Michael. The fact that Casey expected this mission to go south came as no surprise. Casey expected a lot of things to go south. In fact, no one was really surprised because sometimes Casey was actually right.
"Don't worry, Martinez," their leader assured, widening his eyes and shaking his head at Billy, "Your new suit has a GPS tracker in one of the buttons and you know Billy and Casey will be close by."
The conversation quietened into a short pause and Casey felt the inevitable question coming.
"What happened?" Rick asked looking at Billy who shook his head almost immediately.
"It's a long and epic tale but we should save it for another time."
Several minutes later, Michael glanced at his watch and slid off the bed, "Alright guys, we have an hour to get ready. I'm taking the shower first. Martinez you take it last."
Billy followed Dorset with his eyes, then turned to Rick, "That way, you'll look and smell the finest, and we'll sweat through it in no time."
Butterflies, moths and ugly, disgusting cockroaches fluttered around in Rick's stomach. His first kidnapping had definitely gone better than Billy's. This would be a cakewalk. He took a sip of cold water to settle the winged insects in his belly and went over the plan in his head one more time.
His asset's name was Adil Karim. Thirty two years old, small built and at the very bottom of a brutal food chain. He was practically the tea-boy for a small but effective organization of arms and drug traffickers. But, he had provided Rick with valuable intel over the past few months.
They had managed to shut down an operation that brought opium from Afghanistan and stopped over in North Africa before heading to Europe and America.
Today, Rick was going to meet with his man for information on a weapons supply route to Sudan and Chad. Some of the arms they used to threaten refugees, take away their food aid and rape innocent women. This was clearly a small fish. Weapons came from lots of places. Warmongering was big business. But if they could start here, there was still hope. And the ODS thrived on hope.
Higgins had already authorized them to continue the mission if the information was legit. They had also been assured assistance from the US Military base in the city as well as from others in the region.
Rick Martinez exhaled deeply. He had a good feeling about today. On Billy's scale, he rated his fear at a 2. The eager and confident Mr. Collins would be proud.