Title: Six Weeks Out
Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.
A/N: So penless wrote this awesome fic called Five Weeks In. I loved it so much that I ended up writing a companion fic from Michael's POV. It's not as long or as awesome, but hopefully it doesn't ruin the greatness of her fic! She also gave this a beta (and thanks to lena7142 who held my hand as I revised).
Summary: Michael is used to missions going from bad to worst, but this one has gone from bad to possibly the worst mission ever.
Michael is used to missions going from bad to worst, but this one has gone from bad to possibly the worst mission ever.
And that means something to Michael. He's had some pretty horrible missions, including one that left Carson Simms dead in North Africa.
Their mark is dead, and the mission is in an awkward state of being done but not quite successful. He and Casey have had to be two steps behind the entire time. That's how they planned it, after all. Billy and Martinez would get Gomez and fly him out; Casey and Michael would meet up with them and they'd all head back to the States together.
That's how it was supposed to go.
Before Gomez decided to run all over the Colombian mountains; before a storm crashed their plane; before Billy and Martinez were on the run from Gomez's cohorts with backup still too far off.
Because chasing criminals through the mountains is never enough. Not for the ODS. There have to be plane crashes and treks through the mountains and enemies in pursuit. Just to keep things interesting.
Michael's had enough with interesting. He's ready for a whole lot of boring, because now that he and Casey have finally found Martinez and Billy it's pretty clear that things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Because Michael has just managed to eke ahead of the bad guys, but when he stumbles into the makeshift camp no one greets him. Martinez is half tipped over, blinking his eyes vacantly, mouth hanging open with the side of his face caked with blood. One look, and it's pretty clear the kid has had his brains scrambled.
And he's the one who has clearly fared better.
Next to Martinez, slumped against the fallen log, Billy's limp. His face is gray, lips clearly blue even from a distance. For a horrifying moment, Michael has the realization that maybe he's too late again, that maybe he wasn't good enough, maybe this mission is the one he'll never get over—
But Casey's in front of him, hand pressed to Billy's chest. "He's alive," he reports, glancing back at Michael. "But if we don't move, that won't be the case for long – for either of them."
Michael looks at Casey, serious and worried. He looks at Rick, dazed and injured. He looks at Billy, blue and dying.
And Michael moves.
Getting them out is easier said than done, which is really how it usually goes. Martinez rouses enough to walk on his own, but he's a mess, stumbling and incoherent most of the time. Michael wants nothing more than to haul the kid over his shoulder and drag him out ass forward, but with Billy on the stretcher, they're sort of out of options.
And Billy's – Billy may not even be alive. He hasn't moved – not even a twitch – and with the distance they need to cover there's no time to stop and assess him. Michael's pretty sure Billy has a punctured lung from his cursory examination, and if he got that in the crash then they're really just about out of time.
As if Michael hasn't realized that already.
There's no hope, maybe. Martinez looks like a zombie; Billy looks like a corpse; Casey wants to go throw himself on his sword, and Michael is mere minutes from an exit and it may not be close enough.
Failure. Loss of control. Not good enough.
It's North Africa and it's his marriage and this is why he's never wanted to replace Carson, because he can't take another variable, another factor, another person to lose…
The fact that he cares about Martinez is only half the story.
The fact that Martinez has saved Billy more than once is another.
Then, Martinez saves them all.
With a few distorted words, Martinez convinces the kid to help and throws the bad guys off their trail. Suddenly, they can all leave together.
Suddenly, there's hope.
And as they stumble the rest of the way, Michael remembers why a four man team was so powerful in the first place. Yes, it's another life to worry about, another weight on his shoulders, but it's someone else he can count on, trust in.
Five weeks in, Michael realizes Martinez may be that guy after all.
When they get to the chopper, Michael actually wants to cry in relief.
It's salvation, he thinks.
Then Martinez collapses and Billy is blue, and Michael feels his stomach rebel because it may not be enough.
Five weeks in.
Five weeks out.
It's not enough.
In the air, the medics tell him there's not much they can do for Rick. They have to shock the kid once to get his rhythm back on track, and then they set up an IV and tell Michael they have to wait and see. His heart rate is fast but steady, and his left pupil is blown. Head trauma is a given, but they won't know how bad until they get to the hospital.
Billy may not make it to the hospital.
The Scot is almost translucent, face unnaturally slack in the dim light. As soon as the medics hook up Billy to a heart monitor the thing starts blaring wildly. They scramble to save Billy's life, pressing an oxygen mask over his face and ripping his shirt away, and Billy doesn't flinch, doesn't flicker. The tube goes in and Billy's chest inflates, even as the medic starts squeezing the bag, face grim as he reads the monitor for Billy's vitals.
Michael's no doctor, but he can see the irregular cadence of Billy's heart, and he sees the pinched look of worry as the medics tend him in the air.
In the end, there's not much they can do for any of them.
On the ground, Rick hasn't moved. The doctors test his reflexes but nothing happens. He's stable, at least, but unresponsive.
Billy's heart stops and the doctors intubate him before whisking him off to surgery.
Casey stands through it all, fists clenched and jaw tight.
Michael watches. Helpless.
On the phone, Fay sounds encouraging. "Higgins is pleased," she says. "We wanted Gomez alive, but the fact is, his death is a serious blow to his network. It'll be years before they're up and running at full capacity again. He's counting this one as a success."
Michael laughs bitterly. The Agency has one definition of success; Michael has another. "Was it worth two operatives?"
Fay hesitates. "How bad are they, Michael?" she asks, voice soft. They're divorced, but there's still tenderness there. She doesn't show it often, but she cares.
Somehow that doesn't help as much as he wants it to. Rick's still in a medically-induced coma; Billy's still in surgery.
Michael closes his eyes. "Bad," he says.
She swallows, and the silence that follows is tense. "They'll pull through," she says, and it could be a platitude but it doesn't sound like it.
"How do you know?" Michael asks.
"Rick's a good addition to the team," she replies. "He's changed things. He's changed you. You won't lose that yet. I know it."
Michael wishes he could be so sure.
Rick has a hematoma. It's not a small one, but the doctors don't think it's large enough to operate on.
"With medication, we've managed to control his ICP," one explains in halting English. "We'll keep a close eye on it, but we think it should go down on its own."
Casey snorts. "So you went to medical school for all those years just to recommend nothing?"
Michael takes a breath; he doesn't have time to place blame, especially since any accusations start and end with him. This is his team; getting them out is his job. "Can we see him?"
Rick looks worse in the bed, even though his injury has been cleaned and bandaged. He looks small, young.
"He's too young," Casey whispers next to Michael.
"He's a good operative," Michael replies, thinking about the signal Martinez left in the plane, the way Martinez had kept walking even when half unconscious. "He saved Billy's life. He saved all of us with that kid."
"I know," Casey says. "And that's my point. He shouldn't be here. It's only been five weeks, and he's already laid up in a hospital bed after single-handedly salvaging what's left of this mission."
Five weeks is enough, though. Enough to prove yourself. Enough to risk your life.
Enough to matter.
Michael stands vigil, and it's enough.
When Billy is out of surgery, the doctor looks tired. "The damage to his lung was extensive, but we think we controlled all the bleeders. We were concerned with his fluctuating heart rate and other anomalous vital signs. Is there a chance he was struck by lightning?"
Michael blinks, and then, he almost wants to laugh.
Because there's more than a chance. This is the ODS. The impossible is a given.
"Yeah," Michael says. "He was outside in a thunderstorm."
The doctor nods, thoughtful. "That makes sense, then," she says. "We've been trying to medicate him to bring his rhythm back to normal, and there's already signs that his nervous system is trying to rebound."
"And why am I sensing a but?" Casey interjects gruffly.
The doctor shrugs. "The good news is that lightning strikes are rarely fatal if the victim survives the initial blast," she explains. "But we'll have to monitor him for heart and lung damage. And given the bruising on his chest, am I safe in assuming CPR was administered?"
Michael's own chest tightens, and his stomach clenches. "Let's put it this way," Michael says, as straightforward as he can. "If you can think of a worst case scenario, you might as well assume it happened."
Because that's just the kind of luck the ODS had.
Billy's on a ventilator, but he looks better. The doctors seem optimistic as his heart rate evens out.
Rick's scans suggest that the hematoma is resolving; he's hanging in there.
They're all hanging in there.
Billy's vitals stabilize and when he's extubated, the doctors seem to think he's going to be okay. Martinez has been improving steadily, and the doctors think it's safe to transfer both of them to the same room.
It's an ordeal, and Billy's only semiconscious when they make the move and he's in need of a sedative when they settle him. Rick doesn't stir, and as Billy lapses back into sleep, Casey settles into a chair.
Michael stands at the door, and watches.
"You may as well sit down," Casey says, a little derisively. "I know they're doing better, but it looks like we're going to be here for a while."
Michael finds a chair and tentatively sits down. He's still tired, his nerves are still frayed, but he thinks, maybe things are going to be okay.
They're together, after all. They're a team.
And everything is going to be okay.
Billy wakes up first. He's sore and out of it but he rebounds quickly. He's joking and flirting by day's end.
Martinez is slower, still rising to consciousness by degrees. He's off the worst of the meds now, though, and the doctors say it's only a matter of time.
It's been five weeks. It's been three years.
Michael can wait a little longer.
Michael is used to missions going from bad to worst. He's not as experienced with things working out better than he expected.
In this case, Billy almost died, and Rick, too. But the fact is, they didn't. More than that, Martinez proved himself a valuable asset to the team, and somehow everything seemed to come together in the end.
Five weeks in, and Michael wasn't sure of anything. He was too critical, too skeptical, a paranoid bastard through and through.
Six weeks out, though, and maybe Martinez is a part of this team. Not just in name, but in spirit. In everything. He's bled for them; he's saved them. Fay's right; he makes them better.
Five weeks in, and Michael was still looking for reasons to stay the course, to hold onto what used to be, no matter what.
Six weeks out, and suddenly Michael's ready for a whole lot more.