faye_dartmouth: (chaos three musketeers)
[personal profile] faye_dartmouth
A/N: This is a chapter I enjoyed writing. So you can probably guess a little bit what’s coming.

Previous parts in the MASTER POST .



PART SEVEN

-o-

Michael’s plan was screwed.

Not just a little messed up, but totally obliterated. Every step he’d carefully plotted and haphazardly thrown together was for naught, because Jenkins had had all the cards. He’d had the one up the entire way and the only reason any of them were actually alive right now were because Jenkins wanted it that way.

It was a cocky sort of thing, but it was also practical. Jenkins didn’t know who they were. After the way Billy and Casey busted in earlier that day he might have had suspicions, but a good leader didn’t just neutralize threats; he tried to understand them as well. The best way to preempt future problems was to understand past compromises, and so capturing the ODS alive was probably part of that plan.

And it was a damn good plan. The kind of plan Michael would make. Had made. For all the good it had done him.

That was why, for a moment, all he could do was stare. Casey was still crouched low behind his cover, gun in hand. He was sweating in earnest with the heat of battle, eyes burning as he held himself perfectly immobile out of sight and well out of the line of fire. He was assessing the situation, just as much as Michael was, but he was also waiting for Michael to take the lead.

He wasn’t the only one. Rick’s eyes were fixed toward him, the dark brown making the whites stand out starkly, even from a distance. There was a flicker of fear there, but it was overwhelmed by the frustration, the apology. He was trying to say sorry, trying to tell Michael this wasn’t his fault, absolving him if—

Michael would not tolerate the if. There was no if in his plans.

From the rank of soldiers, Jenkins stepped forward. He was armed, wearing a combat helmet, but he was decidedly vulnerable. A clean shot to the torso would take him down. But he wasn’t afraid because they all knew any shot to kill Jenkins would lead to a barrage of bullets at Rick. A barrage he wouldn’t survive.

It’d be a knight for a king in a game of chess, a worthwhile move, but not one Michael was willing to make. Victory had conditions for him. And bringing his men home alive was not negotiable, even if some people would tell him it should be.

“This has been an interesting game,” he said. “Though I admit, despite being within reach of total victory, I would rather know who I am fighting in order to properly document this success.”

The words were calm and confident. Michael’s stomach churned and he locked his jaw, refusing to move. Casey looked back toward him, but Michael couldn’t bring himself to look back.

Jenkins shrugged easily. “I understand this must be difficult,” he said. “Facing defeat in the battlefield is rarely something that is easily swallowed. I should thank you, though, for showing me that my men are more than capable for a greater challenge.”

Michael watched, noting Jenkins’ demeanor. He was erect and proper, eyes not searching. It was a pose of general ease, and it wasn’t forced. He believed what he said. Not that he didn’t have reason to be confident, but he was too sure of controlling the variables.

It was a mistake to believe yourself beyond screwing up.

Michael knew that, was learning it the hard way.

“I imagine you are much more than the competition,” Jenkins continued, musing now. “Though I admit, I can’t figure out who sent you. Are you trained by the government? Or maybe a private backer?”

Jenkins wanted information. This was Michael’s only leverage. However, playing with that leverage would likely deem Rick unnecessary. The longer he was silent, the longer Rick had to stay alive. Until Jenkins finally gave up and executed Rick in front of him. It was a matter of timing.

Not that Michael knew what he was going to do. Not that there was anything he could do.

Of course, he could stand up, offer himself in exchange, but it wouldn’t work. The more face time he gave Jenkins, the more likely it was for the man to discern who he was and who he worked for. The longer the mystery was maintained, the better off Michael’s position was and the more likely it was that Michael would regain control of the situation to free Rick and finish the operation.

He could kill Jenkins, charge and hope for the best. Casey would join him, and there was a chance, however small, that the melee would be enough to give Rick an opening and they would be able to get out of there alive.

It was a long shot, and Michael knew it. Then again, it was about his only shot.

“Given your escape this morning, I counted on this being a team that values its members,” Jenkins said. He glanced casually toward Rick. “If I’m wrong—“

The men around Rick moved forward and there was the sound of a gun cocking. Rick tensed but didn’t quite flinch. In front of Michael, Casey looked back anxiously.

Michael took a breath. Then another. He needed to stay focused. Stay calm and collected. The mission depended on it. Rick’s life depended on it.

Michael looked to Casey, holding his gaze for a long moment so Casey understood. Then he looked back toward Rick and then to Jenkins. He breathed again, fingers tightening on his gun. No more thinking, no more hesitating. He let the tension build in his body, springing to his feet when everything shifted again.

His heart raced but he couldn’t hear it over the sound of an oncoming vehicle. A smattering of gunfire started up again, but it didn’t matter. Michael turned in time to see the Jeep careening through, breaking the line of soldiers before crashing heavily into the wall of the building. There was a brief second when the sound of impact was all there was, heavy and resounding as the wall crumbling.

Then, just like that, there was a flash of light bright enough to blind Michael and the boom was loud enough to deafen him as the force of the explosion threw him to the ground yet again.

-o-

People thought that spy work was exciting, with mysteries and intrigue, aliases and explosions. Michael was more than content to let them have their fantasies while he rolled his eyes and went about his mundane life at the CIA. But really, intrigue was predictable and the aliases got monotonous, so no, it wasn’t usually like that.

Except for when it was exactly like that.

Most missions had their moments. This one seemed intent on having nonstop moments. After all, this was, what, the fourth explosion?

How could one mission have that many explosions?

And more appropriately, how the hell had Michael survived all four explosions?

There was no accounting for luck in this kind of measurement, and mostly, there was no time to ponder it because the fact was that Michael was alive, which meant that this mission wasn’t over yet, which meant he had work to do.

Blinking, Michael realized he was staring at the sky, ears ringing.

Work to do. There was work.

If he could just remember what that so-called work was. It was probably something of national importance with serious international implications. There was something illegal, something dangerous, something that surely warranted four explosions.

He blinked and his mind jolted. If he was here, where was his team?

Then he remembered: Billy in the Jeep, Casey taking cover, Rick with a gun to his head.

Startled, he pushed himself up, head spinning even as he tried to make out what had happened. There was yelling and people were scattered. The fortified building was in flames now, with a few bodies littering the ground. Soldiers struggled to get away, and that was when Michael saw Rick.

His summer suit was easy to discern from the uniforms, and the blood soaking the tan exterior was unnaturally bright in the deepening afternoon. He was on the ground, pushing unsteadily to all fours.

He was alive.

Michael grinned, almost drunk with relief. Carefully, he tried to get to his feet, feeling his head reel even as he groped for his gun.

The relief was short lived, however, because before Rick could get to his feet Jenkins came up hard behind him. The soldier was dirtier than before with a contusion on his cheek. But his movements were smooth and his eyes clear as he hauled Rick to his feet and dragged him back.

Rick yelped and struggled, but disoriented as he clearly was, it did no good.

It wasn’t fair. Jenkins should have taken the brunt of that blast. But good luck was a tricky thing, and Michael knew that it ran in his favor as often as it ran against him.

Still, their odds had greatly improved, so Michael abandoned the idea of holding his ground and got to his feet, trying to stumble into a run.

He only made it a few feet when he went down hard. His legs refused to work and he tasted dirt as his breath left him a huff. But even as he fell, he heard the gunshot and felt the air move above his head where he’d just been standing.

It would have been a fatal shot.

He should be dead.

Instead, his nose was bloody from his impact with the ground and he had dirt in his mouth.

Groaning, he rolled. Blinking, he saw Casey above him. “I’m going to blame your lack of foresight on the fact that you’ve endured more explosions than any of us in the last few days,” the older operative said dryly.

Michael frowned, sitting up, slower this time. He looked back and Jenkins was gone now, even as his men tried to scramble back up into some kind of defensive position.

“Not that I can’t appreciate your intentions,” Casey said, squinting toward the flaming building. “But I think we’ve all had a bit too much self sacrifice for this mission.”

Michael frowned and worked to get a better grip on his bearings. He was missing something, something important, something-- “You don’t think Billy was inside the Jeep, do you?” he asked.

Casey’s face was pale and pinched; there was a new smudge of dirt and blood on his temple. “If he thought it was his only chance—“ He didn’t finish the thought.

Michael tried to breathe. Tried to think. Because Rick was gone, inside whatever was left in the compound and left entirely to Jenkins’ whims. It was something of an advantage that Jenkins didn’t actually have whims; he had plans. Killing Rick still wouldn’t be part of the plan, not if getting rid of them all was the ultimate goal. Rick was his bargaining chip, and now more than ever.

And Billy was gone, too, though Michael couldn’t be sure where. Because if he was inside the Jeep, if he’d crashed it into the building without jumping out first, then he was dead. He would have to be dead. The Jeep’s frame was hardly visible, totally engulfed in flame. The men nearest the point of impact hadn’t moved.

Even if Billy hadn’t been in the Jeep, he was likely still injured. There would be no way to plan that kind attack with much forethought, so even if Billy jumped out, he was probably still close to the point of impact, which meant that injury was likely. How serious, Michael couldn’t be sure, especially given Billy’s condition prior to the mission’s start.

This meant…

This meant that things were bad.

This meant that Michael had to act.

This meant that Michael had to go forward and this time, he couldn’t let Casey stop him.

On his feet, he ignored the dizziness and checked his gun. “I’m going after them.”

Casey stood next to him. “I wouldn’t respect you if you didn’t,” he said. “But this time, let’s try to do it together so neither of us end up dead.”

Michael had to smile, brief and fleeting thought it was. But before they could move, new clatter came to their right.

Ducking instinctively, Michael tried to figure out what was going on. The firefight was frenetic, punctuated by loud yells and the movement of men as they formed what looked to be defensive ranks.

Next to him, Casey was frowning. “That’s unexpected.”

Michael’s brain worked. He shook his head, the realization settling. “No,” he said. “That’s Billy.”

-o-

For most people, the sound of gunfire and general mayhem wouldn’t be relief. For Michael, though, it was just enough hope to keep him going. Because the idea of Billy, sick and alone in the midst of a firefight, wasn’t exactly reassuring, but it was a vast improvement over the idea of Billy charred and dead inside a burned out Jeep.

Billy was alive, if not well, though given the way the men were falling back on his position, he might not stay that way for long.

Next to him, Casey cursed. “He’s pretty pinned down,” he said, squinting out over the ground.

Michael followed his line of vision and finally saw the point of focus through the throng of men. The attention was directed toward one of the smaller buildings, which had the windows broken out. Bullets pinged the exterior in a steady stream, though occasionally there was a flash of a gun poking out the window, though the shots seemed to be more for effect than anything else.

Michael’s eyes trailed back, watching the men setting up their positions. They had been taking a defensive tact this entire time; Michael knew that wouldn’t last. The Jeep’s collision with the last structure had been an unexpected wrench in their plans. It confused them, but hadn’t seriously impeded them, and Michael could only wager that now it wasn’t time for them to play around, but to get serious. They had Rick in custody; they would take Billy, too, one way or another.

And if Michael knew the Scot, the another would probably involve bloodshed.

“They’re circling him,” Casey said, sounding frustrated.

Michael nodded, watching as the men tried to fan out. Billy’s intermittent gunshots were deterring them, but just barely. “They’ll overtake him soon,” he agreed.

The tension began to build, the way it always did when one of his men was in immediate danger. Glancing back, he saw the men in front of the building reorganizing. Jenkins was gone now, and so was Rick. Martinez would still be alive, for now.

He looked back toward Billy’s location and sighed. He couldn’t go after them both. He had to prioritize.

As a bargaining chip, Rick’s life had worth. As a factor at large, Billy was currently an unnecessary risk. Rick was injured, but still in stable condition from what little Michael had gleaned. Billy’s condition was unknown but likely to be compromised, possibly badly. He was at least suffering from weakness and nausea, and there was no way of knowing if he’d endured any other injuries in the fight up to this point.

The conclusion was simple. At least, in the abstract.

“We’ve got to get to Billy,” Michael said definitively.

Casey lifted his brows. “And Martinez?”

Michael didn’t let himself glance back. “Will stay alive longer than Billy will, at this rate.”

“We could separate,” Casey offered.

“The divide and conquer technique hasn’t worked so well for us,” Michael said. “The odds are against us enough as it is; we need to stick together.”

This was the only logical course of action, and Michael said it without hesitation. If he gave into his doubts now, this whole thing would end up badly.

Or, at the very least, worse than it already was.

Casey inclined his head, expression somewhat grim. “Probably for the best,” he said. “I’ve faced worse odds, but with the concussive blasts, I’m functioning just slightly less than 100 percent.”

Michael looked at him, allowing himself a moment of bemusement. “Is that an admission of weakness?”

“It’s an admission of practicality,” he said, glaring at Michael somewhat even as he checked his remaining ammo. “My 95 percent still beats the hell out of anyone else’s 100.”

Michael grinned. “I’m not doubting it,” he said, peering to glance over their task again. “Should we leapfrog it again?”

Casey sighed. “Doesn’t seem to be a lot of other options.”

“You do say that you want more challenges,” Michael cajoled.

Casey leveled him with a deadpan look. “Somehow I’m not sure facing an entire army is what I meant,” he said. Then he paused, shrugging. “But I suppose I can’t fault you for your intention.”

Michael chuckled even as the hails of gunfire increased and Casey ducked out into the fray. The laughs tapered off, choking in his tightening throat as he looked up over their cover and hoped like hell he wouldn’t regret this later.

-o-

The necessary route was circuitous but clear enough. Casey led first, negotiating his way out of the line of fire, finding the best spot to hole up while Michael made his follow up dash. They took turns this way, circumventing the distance and effectively driving a wedge between the contingents of Jenkins’ men. The last bit was the hardest, and Michael found himself leading the way through no man’s land, running with all the reserve he had left before making a hard dive into the open doorway.

Inside, he was greeted by the sound of a gun being cocked.

Michael looked up. He saw the gun first, a well worn pistol, shaking just slightly but aimed perfectly at his head.

Then, he saw Billy.

The Scot was pressed against the wall next to the window, leaned against it so he could still see outside. Despite this, he looked ready to fall over, chest heaving and entire body trembling. His face was downright ashen now, with deep circles under his eyes and a bright flush in his cheeks. Sweat drenched his face, soaking his shirt.

He was filthy, dirt and dust smeared all over the place, and the knees of his pants were ripped and stained with blood, probably from his dive out of the Jeep before sending it off to crash. His stance was shaky with legs locked defiantly, and his blue eyes seemed to blaze unusually bright as he clearly put all his energy into holding his aim.

Michael didn’t move, and for a long moment neither did Billy. Finally, recognition dawned in the Scot’s eyes and a tremulous smile crossed his lips. “Fancy meeting you here,” he quipped, his gun finally lowering.

Michael eased himself up, offering a small smile in return. “I thought I told you to stay in the Jeep.”

Billy shrugged sheepishly. “That went up in flames,” he replied. “Much like the rest of the mission.”

“It’s hard to plan when you won’t follow orders,” Michael chided.

Billy huffed a laugh. “I would think that would be the one constant you could plan on,” he said. Then he seemed to droop, eyes getting hazy as he visibly labored for air.

Michael was going to say You’d find a way to screw that up, too but there didn’t seem to be any point. Not when Billy’s legs were giving out and his eyes were rolling up into his head, and it was all Michael could do to close the final distance before the Scot collapsed bonelessly to the ground.

-o-

Billy went down hard, but Michael got there in time to prevent the Scot’s impact with the floor. His body was heavy and unwieldy, and Michael had to shift awkwardly as he tried to keep his footing and lower the taller man to the floor. Fresh gunfire ricocheted off the outer walls, and Michael minded the window while he gave Billy a fresh once over.

Billy’s sweat-flushed face was lax now, turned to the side. His breathing was fast and with the close contact, Michael could feel the heat radiating off him. To the side of the window, Michael made out a small puddle of bile.

Anxious, Michael found the pulse point on Billy’s neck, pressing two fingers into the throbbing beat. It was fast – too fast.

This was more than the flu. Michael wasn’t sure what it was just yet, but he was beginning to think this was a bigger deal than he had counted on.

Just then, the flurry of gunfire increased outside. Flinching, Michael readied his gun, lifting it in time to fix on the figure that tumbled through the doorway.

His first instinct was to fire.

His second was to sigh. “Casey,” he said, letting his gun down again. “I didn’t even get to lay down any cover fire.”

Casey dusted off his shirt. “You assume I need it,” he said. Keeping low, he moved closer. His cool confidence flickered, and Michael saw a hint of uncertainty, a touch of fear. “Billy?”

Michael glanced down. “Collapsed just as I got here,” he reported. “The fever’s worse.”

Casey came closer, kneeling down on the Scot’s other side. He pressed a hand to Billy’s head, frowning. “This is more than the flu,” he said.

Michael sighed, sitting back on his haunches. “I know,” he said. “Fever, nausea, dry cough. Clearly weak and probably anemic.”

“You’re thinking malaria,” Casey concluded.

Michael’s eyes lingered on Billy’s slack features. “We’re in the right territory.”

“We’ve all been inoculated,” Casey countered.

Michael snorted, giving Casey a reproachful look. “Tell that to Billy.”

Casey lifted his brow. “Touché,” he said.

“Whatever it is, I don’t think Billy’s getting out of here on his own,” Michael said, glancing back toward the window. There was still intermittent gunfire outside, but the absence of activity did not necessarily bode in their favor.

Because silence meant that the men outside were regrouping. Regrouping meant that they were probably getting ready to converge on their position. If that happened, Michael would have very few means to properly defend their location. They’d be overrun and they’d all be captured with no hope of rescue.

Which meant they had to go. Quickly.

This conclusion was easy enough to come by, but its implications were less certain and far harder to swallow. Because leaving was the ideal, but Michael could see no way for them to go together. Billy was in no condition to fight; getting him out of here in one piece was going to be a full job. Given the Scot’s height, the person carrying Billy would probably be unable to even fire in defense during the flight.

Which meant that getting Billy out was, in fact, a two person job. It was perhaps fortunate then that they had two people for the job. But if two people were required to get Billy out, then there was no one left to get Rick.

Getting Rick would be the more difficult task. It could be attempted with one, but much better executed with two. In truth, Michael had been counting on all three of them when he’d come up with his makeshift plan of escape. Without that, a rescue was suicide.

They could take Billy with them, but that would only increase the likelihood of someone catching a stray bullet. If they left Billy behind, he’d be captured and another rescue operation would be required.

In short, this was a problem without a satisfactory solution. Michael was going to leave one of his men behind or risk sacrificing all of them.

Casey was watching him, a knowing look in his eyes. “You can’t really be thinking of leaving him behind,” he said.

Michael’s jaw worked and he met Casey’s gaze. “I’m open to hear alternatives.”

“We split up,” Casey said. “I can get Martinez out by myself.”

“Carrying Billy is going to be a full time job,” Michael said.

“You could hole up here with him,” Casey said. “I’ll meet you back.”

Michael wanted to consider that, but glancing outside, he saw the men move. He shook his head. “We’re out of time,” he said.

“And if we leave now, we’re out a man,” Casey shot back.

Michael looked down at Billy, still limp on the floor. If this was malaria, it was going to go from bad to worse – and quickly. He shook his head. “We leave, secure Billy and then come back again.”

Casey’s look of disbelief was muted only by his deadpanned nature. “Since our first surprise attack went so well.”

“It’s the only plan that gives us any chance at all,” Michael snapped.

“Unless they kill Rick,” Casey pointed out.

“They won’t,” Michael said. “They need him.”

Cased was unconvinced. “Until they pack up and go to ground.”

“Which they won’t do until after their shipment,” Michael said. He took a breath, the plan solidifying in his mind. “So we get Billy out, return to our remote location and then come back tonight. In the dark, we should have some stealth on our side. We can get in, get Rick out, and then finish this mission. Even without Jenkins, we’ll have the intel we’ve gathered so far.”

Casey regarded him skeptically. Beneath them, Billy moaned a little, body twitching a he labored for air. “What if the kid decides to play the martyr?”

Michael grimaced but tried not to let it show. It was a possibility, and not even one that seemed overly impossible. Rick was new and he was naïve. He still believed in the grander virtues of the spy game, for better and for worse. But in his short time with the ODS, Michael had to hope the kid had learned one lesson better than the rest. “Rick knows we won’t leave him behind,” he said.

It was clear by the look on his face that Casey wanted to disagree. Some might attribute it to a contrary nature, but Michael knew better. Casey was strong and stoic, he believed grief was a pointless emotion, but the thought of losing one of his teammates – it never failed to make the crusty operative as skittish as a newbie.

But Casey, even with a fear he might call irrational, was practical when he had to be. And he knew Michael was right, even if he didn’t necessarily like it.

The older man gathered a breath, glanced briefly at Billy and then nodded curtly. “Would you prefer to rely on my impeccable aim or upper body strength?”

Michael had to smile; Casey’s persistence was a reassurance he needed. “I can carry Billy if you can clear the path.”

Casey checked his gun, visibly counting the remaining rounds. “Just don’t slow down,” he warned. He peeked up over the edge of the window. “I assume you have a plan for a vehicle since Billy saw fit to destroy ours?”

Michael squinted out. “Sure,” he said. “Run like hell and take the first vehicle you see.”

Casey grinned, a little grim. “Simple,” he said, readying himself. “I like it.”

Michael took a steadying breath, reaching down and grasping Billy’s limp wrist. He hoisted the taller man up, catching the flopping body on his shoulders as he prepared to heave them both upward. “Well, I’m saving judgment,” he admitted, shifting Billy as best he could until the Scot was splayed evenly over his shoulders.

Casey tilted his head. “Right now I think we could use some of Billy’s blind optimism,” he said.

Michael snorted, feeling Billy’s hot cheek pressed against his shoulder. “I’ll be sure to tell him that.”

“You’ll do no such thing,” Casey said. “Of course, given how bad our odds are here, I’m not sure it matters.”

“And there’s the Casey I know,” Michael said, a tight grin on his lips.

Casey shrugged. “You ready?”

Michael tightened his grip on Billy’s wrist, wrapping his other hand on the man’s leg to steady them both. He nodded. “Let’s go.”

Casey didn’t need to be told again, and Michael didn’t hold back as they ducked outside into the line of fire.

-o-

For once, Michael didn’t slow down to think. He didn’t even analyze. He didn’t have the energy. It was all he could do to keep Billy steady on his shoulders, to keep himself upright and running.

Casey plowed ahead with a skill and determination that had earned him his reputation. Michael understood the probabilities, the plain fact that they should be easily overtaken at any given moment. But Casey didn’t believe in failure any more than Michael did, so when they got to the first vehicle, Michael didn’t even feel surprised.

He didn’t feel relieved either. The entire thing was a plaintive revelation, a necessary step if the rest of the plan was going to succeed.

It was a mere matter of practicality. They had to find a vehicle because they needed a vehicle to get out of there. If it didn’t happen, then the plan was irrelevant because they were dead.

So Michael didn’t stop, didn’t even think to be grateful. Instead, he let Casey yank the driver out, knocking him out as Michael ducked around the backside, feeling Billy’s hand flop loosely against his back. The Scot’s sweat-soaked hair was wet on Michael’s shoulder, his body heavy with unconsciousness. It had been a chore to avoid the bullet, but there was no time to ponder that success. Instead, Michael opened the back door, shoving Billy inside and tumbling in after him even as Casey slipped into the driver’s seat and threw the vehicle into gear.

The sharp acceleration nearly threw Michael off the seat, and as it was, he barely kept Billy from hitting the floor.

The vehicle turned sharply and Michael slid hard to the side with the inevitable momentum. The gears jerked and Casey lurched them ahead, engine grinding as Casey pounded the pedal mercilessly.

“Everything okay up there?” Michael called, bracing himself as best he could while keeping one hand on Billy.

“Peachy,” Casey grunted, voice tense with concentration.

The vehicle veered sharply and Michael’s head connected hard with the door, throbbing even as he was jerked back in the other direction. “You’re making me remember why I never let you drive,” he called.

“You should never insult the person in charge of your future,” Casey sniped back. He pulled the wheel hard and Billy almost ended up in Michael’s lap. “But your point is taken.”

Shifting, Michael tried to regain his seat, but found himself ducking low as a shot took out the window over his head. The glass splintered, and Michael ducked, covering Billy as best he could while Casey careened, turning the car so fast that Michael felt the wheels leave the ground.

They didn’t fall, and Casey gunned the engine until they regained their equilibrium. They were in a dead straightaway when Michael finally got his head up and steady to look out again.

Men were scattering. Guns flash and bullets pinged. In the front, Casey’s eyes were narrowed, his arms straight as he took them headlong toward the exit.

An exit that was thoroughly blocked. Clearly, Jenkins’ men had learned something from the ODS previous great escape. They had formed a line of cars and armored vehicles, two deep, across the entire access road.

“Uh, Casey?” Michael asked.

“Trust,” Casey muttered, not looking away. “I hear it’s a virtue.”

Michael grimaced. “And I hear that we’re not especially virtuous men.”

“Then it’s a good thing you have no other choice,” Casey grit out, pressing the pedal down harder. Fresh gunfire escalated, cracking the windshield and hitting the seat in front of Michael with a muted puff.

Wincing, Michael felt his heart rate speed up. Leaning lower, he put himself half on top of Billy. The Scot was hot and still, his ragged breaths audible in the close quarters over the rising wail of the engine.

Casey drove without finesse, but this kind of job probably didn’t require finesse. It required brute force, which was fortunately Casey’s specialty. Michael trusted Casey, trusted him with his life and the mission and the lives of his team, but still.

Michael suppressed a shudder, holding Billy down as the Scot moaned slightly. The engine churned and the patter of gunfire increased. Then, as the barricade of cars approached, Casey veered sharply to the left, pushing through the gathered throng of men and toward the fence line. The car impacted audibly, and Michael was jarred violently. He held on, even as the fence toppled into their windshield and flew with a few glancing hits over their roof.

Distantly, there was yelling. Gunfire came from behind them now as tires screeched and slipped over the terrain. The vehicle hit a few runs before coming clumsily back onto the pavement and Casey jerked the wheel a few more times to right them before bearing down on the gas and going as fast as he could.

By the time Michael regained his equilibrium his heart was still lodged in his throat, ears ringing from the adrenaline. Sitting up, he glanced at Billy first and found the taller man still lying limply on the seat, long legs smashed awkwardly against the far door. One arm was flailed over the edge of the seat and his mouth was open as he drew his fevered breaths.

From there, Michael looked out through the broken windows, noting that they had already gained a substantial distance from the compound. They weren’t being followed.

“We don’t have to be virtuous,” Casey said from the front seat. Michael turned his eyes toward him, noting that his arms were still locked, so stiff that he was shaking and his knuckles were white. The human weapon didn’t look back, hardly moved. “We just have to be successful.”

Despite everything, Michael had to chuckle. The adrenaline was almost too much, and the release of the laugh was short and bittersweet. Success was the objective, and the relief of breaking free was palpable.

But it was hard to call it success. Not with Billy, unconscious on the seat. Not with Rick, taken hostage on the compound. Jenkins was at large; his men were compromised. This was nothing like success.

Michael swallowed hard, his laughter choked off and forming a hard lump in his chest. Leaving Rick behind went against all his instincts, no matter how necessary it had been. Billy wouldn’t have survived any longer in a firefight. Regrouping was the only option.

Michael took a breath, steeling himself against this reality.

“You remember how to get there?” Michael asked.

Casey scoffed. “I won’t humor that insult to my intelligence with an answer.”

Michael nodded. “How fast can you be there?”

“Faster than we got here,” Casey assured him.

Michael steadied himself, eyes turned forward, and hoped it was fast enough.

NEXT

Date: 2012-06-21 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nietie.livejournal.com
OMG! This is true CHAOS! (and I love it *g*)

Date: 2012-06-24 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
The show is aptly named :)

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-21 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lena7142.livejournal.com
Boom! *takes a drink* XD Poor Michael getting blown up left and right...

The action here is great! I love the agony of Michael weighing his options and having to make an impossible choice. Poor Rick. Poor Malaria-ridden Billy! This fic has everything – plot, action, whump, and of course, Casey being a total badass.

Looking forward to the next installment and Rick's rescue!

Date: 2012-06-24 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
Poor, poor Michael. I really don't cut him any slack here.

I'm glad it's still holding your interest despite how long it is!

Thanks :)

Date: 2012-06-24 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kristen-mara.livejournal.com

Love the thoughts about so many explosions!

And Casey's wit. And poor Michael having to choose between Rick and Billy...

Date: 2012-06-24 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
LOL, once I got started with the explosions in this fic, I decided to just go all out :)

Thanks!

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