A/N: Wow! I'm kinda surprised that so many people have expressed interest in this little collection. Thank you so much for your feedback, and I'll try not to disappoint with these. :)
Characters: Beckett, Esposito, Ryan
Summary: Together, they are unbeatable.
Date posted: October 11, 2012
Beckett's roughly exhaled breath bounces off the wall she's pressed against and blasts its oppressive heat straight back at her. The wood is abrasive against her cheek, but she dares not move even that fraction of an inch to give herself some space.
The slightest shift could give away her position, and this is too important for her to blow it just because she's uncomfortable.
The problem, though, is that she's been here for far too long; she'll get caught soon if she doesn't find another cover, but she hasn't received the signal from Ryan yet that will put their plan into play.
She needs to wait just a little longer, but the pounding rush of her heart thump-thumping in her chest makes it difficult to focus. Adrenaline speeds through her veins, and she holds her body still purely through sheer force of will.
This is her plan, her strategy. She knows it's a sound one, utilizing both Esposito's strengths as a sniper and Ryan's ability to sneak through the cracks to their advantage.
But with each ticking second that crawls by, the sweat trickling down the back of her turtleneck and making her head itch beneath her protective facemask, she worries if she'd sent her boys on a suicide mission.
No! she berates herself.
She can't let herself think like that. She has to have faith in her team.
And she does. They're the best at what they do. They won't fall that easily.
She trusts them with her life. They won't let her down.
That's when she sees it.
A single yellow flag flaps in the air, and Beckett knows her boys have done it. The rest is up to her.
Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, she holds it in for a few seconds, and then she's bursting from her hiding spot in a sudden rush, her aim the abandoned shack about thirty yards from her current position.
A hail of bullets greet her the moment she exposes herself, and she dives behind the ruins of another wall to catch her breath, the empty spot where she once stood now puckered with splashes of red. She smiles grimly to herself when the barrage abruptly ends; Esposito did his job and took out her assailant.
Halfway to the shack now, she scans the landscape with a practiced eye. By her count, the opposition still has two shooters out there. Ryan lured half the group away with a diversion, and Esposito just took one out. He'll be on the lookout to pick off another, but he won't know their location until they start shooting at her.
Two shooters. She just needs to make it past two.
She can do that.
Without giving herself another moment to doubt herself, she breaks from the wall in a dead sprint, the muddy ground sucking at her soles and making her thighs burn, her rifle gripped tightly in her hands.
She's ten yards to the shack when the shouts go up, and her head's a maelstrom of turbulent emotions; dread that they'll cut her down before she makes it and barely-suppressed euphoria that she's just a few steps away from accomplishing the mission.
She's so close to victory that she can taste its sweetness on her tongue when she hears it.
Without a moment's hesitation, she tucks her chin into her chest and falls forward into a roll. The bullet whizzes just past her to land with a sickening splat somewhere to her left.
Beckett rolls fluidly into a standing position and finds herself standing right next to the little dilapidated building. She rips the flag from the post at its side, the move eliciting a chorus of groans, even as a disembodied voice comes crackling over the loud speakers.
"It looks like that's the game, folks. For the third year in a row, Team Beckett from the 12th Precinct wins the NYPD's annual paintballing tournament. Give it up for Detectives Kate Beckett, Javier Esposito, and Kevin Ryan!"
Beckett rips off her goggles with a triumphant laugh just in time for Esposito and Ryan to nearly tackle her in their enthusiasm.
"Attaway, Beckett!" cheers Esposito while he and Ryan exchange one of those elaborate handshakes she never really got the point of.
"Thanks for the warning," she says to Ryan with a grin.
The detective's blue eyes are bright with boyish enthusiasm. "Don't mention it. We got your back."
Then the boys exchange a mischievous look, and Beckett breaks away to level them with a mock glare.
"Don't you dare try to lift me up again," she warns. "It was embarrassing enough when you did that last year. Don't make me break your arms."
Esposito and Ryan sputter out a chain of rapid denials, but to be honest, she's still too high on the victory to bother keeping them in line.
Various members of the force from the many departments and precincts come up to congratulate them, and Beckett can't keep the grin off her face when Captain Montgomery presents them with the cheap plastic trophy her team has now claimed for the third straight year.
It's a ridiculous little statue that looks like it might have been picked up from the dollar store, but the swell of pride that rises up in her when she wraps her fingers around its base is nearly overwhelming. It's a tangible sign that when her team works together, they're unbeatable.
The crowd of cops make their way to the grills, the mouth-watering aroma of a massive barbecue feast attracting the scores of hungry officers like flies to honey, Beckett finds herself flanked on either side by her teammates.
When Detectives Javier Esposito and Kevin Ryan had been assigned to her squad, she'd been skeptical at first. Esposito seemed too much like the macho type to be willing to take orders from a woman, and Ryan had looked so fresh-faced and green that she wondered if he could be an effective street cop.
But their years together have seen the tenor of their relationship evolve from mutual skepticism to burgeoning respect to true camaraderie. Together, they became a team.
In a somewhat uncharacteristic move, she slings an arm around the necks of both her boys as they exchange good-natured barbs at each other and exaggerate their feats of bravery on the battlefield.
Beckett can't think of anyone else she'd rather have to watch her back than these two men right here.
Even in paintballing.
A/N: Heh. Action sequences aren't my forte, but I had fun with it. :) For those of you who might not know, there are many variations of the games/objectives you have for paintballing. The most straightforward is, of course, just splitting into two teams and seeing who gets everyone on the other team out first. When I went, we also did variations of capture the flag, protect the base, take out the leader, etc. The one I used in this oneshot is capture the flag.
Oh, and this is set about a year before they all meet Castle.
Anyhow, I hope you guys had fun with this one. Now I really want to go paintballing. :D