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Chaos - Lead by Example Part 1/4
sophie_deangirl

Summary: The ODS loses Michael and it's left to Billy to keep them together, but at what cost to him? WARNING: CHARACTER DEATH

A fanfiction written based on the characters from the cancelled TV show, Chaos. 

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and I seek no financial gain. Just hope you enjoy the story. You don't have to be a fan of the show.


ChaosChaosChaos


He awoke, his body aching from every muscle.  He tried to clear his head and tried to remember the last thing that had happened.

He remembered someone yelling his name, then falling to the ground, no, being shoved to the ground by a tackle.

He tried to rise up so he could observe his surroundings. It was semi-dark, but he knew he was in a building. As he focused his vision, he saw bodies, prostrate all around him. He couldn’t make out the faces, but the rush of memory was certain.

He had been ambushed, no, they had been ambushed.

It was then that he had heard it, panted breathing with agonized groans. He looked around him and saw him.

Michael.

Billy tried to get to him, but found that he wasn’t completely unharmed. A stabbing pain hit him, high on his right side, pinning him to the ground and his groans joined in a chorus with Michael’s.

Still, there was something more ominous in Michael’s and it pushed Billy towards him, grimacing as he lifted himself to his feet.

He found Michael curled into himself.

As he grasped his arm to turn him towards him, Michael grabbed it and looked up.

“No…don’t…” he said, almost pleaded.

“Michael, I have to see how bad –“

“It’s bad, Billy, trust me.”

Billy looked down and the sight that caught him made him inhale sharply and bile rose up into his throat.

A knife was protruding from Michael’s abdomen.

More memories flooded back.

“You shoved me,” Billy said, his voice almost wistful.

Michael smiled through the pain.

“Had…to… you wouldn’t obey…orders and leave me behind," he teased.

“And you took the knife meant for me…” Billy said, full recognition complete, sadness settling in.

Michael curled tighter and Billy couldn’t help, but to try to reach out to him.

“Get out, Billy. Others are coming back. You have to get out of here,” Michael said with another groan.

“Not without you,” Billy insisted.

“No, no, I can’t move. I’m probably slowly bleeding out as it is, but if I get up or move, I’ll bleed out faster.  I’ll just slow you down.  I’m done, Billy. You have to get to Rick and Casey…warn them, help them.”

Michael saw the indecision on Billy’s face and couldn’t help, but smile again.

Life and death decisions. It was why they paid him the big bucks as he used to tease. Billy wouldn’t leave without him. He had to make him.

“Billy, you have to leave…otherwise all of it is for nothing…Rick and Casey will get captured…the mission…compromised…can’t let that happen. Not for me. I know you won’t let that happen.”

“I can’t let you die, not because of me,” Billy said, his face clenching in pain.

Michael noticed.

“That’s…that’s hardly fair is it? You’ve put yourself in harm’s way for me so many times, but I can’t do it for you?” Michael challenged.

“You’re –“

“The paranoid bastard who’s your leader and I’m telling you…I’m not going to make it and I won’t bring you down with me…”

Billy swallowed, straightened then grimaced.

“You know I’m right,” Michael said, his breathing laboring.

“Funny, I thought that knowing what's right would make it easy to do. Not so in this case, I’m afraid,” Billy said regret in his voice.

“It is when you do it for a friend,” Michael’s moaning and breathing melded into one. “Just like leaving is when a friend gives you permission.”

Billy just stared at Michael.

“It’s okay, Billy. It was worth it. You were worth it. All three of you were worth it.”

Michael then realized what Billy was doing as he felt him take his hand. He was staying with him until it was over. He wasn’t going to leave him behind facing death alone and Michael knew that on that, he wouldn’t change Billy’s mind.

“I’m sorry,” Michael said as he moved his hand to the hilt of the knife.

“For what?” Billy asked, confused.

Michael then pulled the knife out swiftly, groaning and arching with pain as he did it.

Billy watched in horror. He watched the blood flow out, every heartbeat pushing it out from the wound, helplessness never feeling as painful as that moment.

“What the BLOODY HELL are you doing?” Billy cried out in dismay.

“What needs to be done…can’t…can’t have you captured, you stubborn, Scot,” Michael said, his breathing slowing. “ My job’s to see that you get out safe.”

Billy found himself trembling with both frustration and loss. Michael had hastened his death so that Billy could leave him though he wasn't convinced he could. He wanted to do something so badly, but watching the blood, he knew anything he did would just speed up the process that much more.

All he could do was hold onto Michael until it was over.

“Thank you,” Billy said. If he couldn’t save Michael, he had to tell him things he’d been meaning to for the past six years. “For saving my life six years ago, yeh? And for all the other times in between."

Michael smiled, his eyelids blinking slowly, fatigue seeping into his body. He could actually feel his heart struggling to keep beating. So this was what dying felt like.

“You…more than earned…your keep,” he said with another weak smile then his face grimaced. “Rick’s your responsibility…don’t need to tell you that, right?”

Billy just nodded.

Michael’s breathing slowed even further, his eyes searching as if trying to find Billy even though he was right there. He smiled again.

“Casey’s going to take it the hardest…and hide it…been together for ten years…fighting the good fight…worried he won’t get over it…you’ll need to help him the most…he’ll fight you…fight back…fight for him, Billy…don’t give up on him…”

Billy was moved by Michael’s concern.

“Aye, I’ll try, but…no one can lead them, can lead me, but you," Billy said, grief filling his voice.

Michael's expression hardened both from pain and from determination.

"D...don't care what you have to do...lie, cheat, steal, or charm but don't let the ODS die with me. I don't want that. Best work I’ve ever done. Best team I’ve ever led."

Billy understood.

“You’re the strongest of them all, Billy…you can keep them going…”

Billy wasn't sure how he'd accomplish it, how they all would accomplish it without Michael. All he knew was that he didn't want it to end either and he would do it for Michael.

"Not so sure about that, but I'll fight for it, mate. We all will,” Billy said, his eyes welling.

Michael nodded, his expression softening, going lax as if fading into sleep.

“Tell Fay…I still love her…always will...sorry for hurting her…”

“I will, mate,” he assured.

Michael then turned his head upward. He took in another breath.

“Doesn’t hurt anymore…” He exhaled.

Michael then stilled. And Billy knew he was gone.

Suddenly, Billy found the strength to table his grief because Michael’s first and foremost concern and order to him was to get to safety then to Casey and Rick. Billy would follow those orders.

But not without Michael. He was not going to leave him behind.

He hoisted Michael’s body over his shoulder, the weight and any pain not even registering. Michael was beyond pain now, but Billy would not leave his body behind. He could almost hear Michael telling him how foolish it was, that it would slow him down, but Billy’s determination and in many ways devotion to his leader was non-negotiable.

He walked quickly out of the warehouse where the ambush had left only him alive, an almost choking chest squeeze from that realization nearly stopped him dead in his tracks, but he kept putting one foot in front of the other.

He reached the car that he and Michael had arrived in and placed him gently into the back seat. He was having a hard time remembering that Michael was gone.

Billy drove off towards Casey and Rick’s location. When he got there, he saw them run up to the car.  Billy took in a deep breath to prepare himself for what he knew would be shock and grief from his friends, from Michael’s friends.

He stepped out of the car and watched them come to a halt as soon as they saw him. Shocked expressions already on their faces, he then realized that he probably looked bloodied both from his blood and Michael’s.

They started walking towards him again and he met them. He had to brace them before they saw the body.

“My God! Are you okay?” Rick said, seeing all of the blood and wondering where Billy was wounded.

“I’m all right, lad.”

“Then how…” Rick started.

“Where’s Michael?” Casey asked, his mission mentality still in play.

Billy couldn’t stop his eyes from welling up then bowed his head. Casey’s eyes went wide with realization.

“Where’s Michael?” He asked again, his voice sounding wary and yet flooding quickly with emotion as he was having a hard time damming it quickly enough to keep the tears from filling his eyes.

“He didn’t make it,” Billy said, scolding himself inwardly for the lack of compassion in the words, but he felt dancing around the subject to cushion a blow that would be like being shot themselves was pointless. “He died saving my life.”

Billy’s voice was broken and he had decided that he didn’t have the will power to hold them back anymore.

“Is he?” Rick asked pointing his glance to the car, his voice quickly clogging up with emotions, his eyes already spilling tears.

“Aye,” Billy said, finally allowing his own tears to fall. “I couldn’t leave him behind.”

Casey was the first to move towards the car, his body reverberating with anger, which was swiftly turning to rage. His hands were making fists as if trying to decide whether to hit something or not, needing to channel it in someway.

“You were with him?” Rick asked.

Rick was thirsting for details, needing to hear, needing to understand. He knew that practically speaking, one of them would eventually take a bullet permanently, the line of work made that an eventuality, but for some reason he had never envisioned Michael as being a casualty. It wasn’t logical, he was just as vulnerable, just as mortal, but as their leader, he had watched him formulate plans, come up with escape scenarios for situations that seemed impossible to escape. He couldn’t be dead. He would have found a way out.

Billy nodded in reply, his emotions completely slipping his tenuous grasp of control.

"To the end." Billy said his voice cracking.

Casey walked up to the window.

He stared into the car.


He saw Michael’s still body.

Billy could hear the rapid breathing and he knew Casey well enough to know what was coming.

Casey raised his right arm, his hand clenched into a fist so tight, it was turning white.

A cry of rage and loss so profound cracked through the air and cut into both Billy’s and Rick’s hearts.

Casey swung his fist into the window. It didn’t shatter immediately, but he kept punching it over and over again until it cracked.  His hand was bloodied, but he kept punching.

Billy intervened then, caught his fist and held it with every ounce of his strength. Subduing Casey Malick under such circumstances with his concentration so fixed on destruction was dangerous, but Billy knew he would keep going even after breaking every bone in his hand and he couldn’t let that happen.

“Let GO!” Casey yelled.

“No, you’re hurting yourself.”

“I’m warning you LET GO! It’s my hand, it’s my body –“ Casey threatened.

“And you’re my friend and doing this won’t bring Michael back.”

It was then Casey looked up, his cheeks streaked with tears, and brusquely walked away.

He walked past Billy then Rick. Rick tried to stop him, but his arm was yanked off.

“Best leave him be, lad. He needs time to process,” Billy said sadly.

“We shouldn’t leave him alone,” Rick said.

“We won’t. When he’s ready, we won’t.”

Billy had seen this before with Casey, when they had lost Carson. This was ten times worse. Of all of them, Casey had started his career with Michael. He had never known a time without Michael. Billy knew that and knew why Michael, with his dying breath, had told him that Casey would take his death the hardest. He would have to muster all he could to get Casey through losing Michael.

Rick then turned his attention back to the car and walked over. Compared to Casey’s approach his steps were slow, achingly tentative. He looked in and saw Michael’s body. He squeezed his eyes closed both in grief and also begging disbelief to take over so that when he opened them again, Michael wouldn’t be there, be there dead.

Billy’s heart felt for Rick. Though Rick had known Michael the shortest and perhaps had only glimpsed into the potential of Michael’s strengths as a leader versus the inherent distrust that was second nature to him, he had seen enough, had bonded enough to understand the loss, to the pervasive aimlessness that had only just begun to settle in.

Billy walked over and put a hand on his shoulder.

Rick then broke and reached for Billy and clung to him in despair.

ChaosChaosChaos

There are no grand military funerals for CIA agents. No pomp and circumstance to herald their sacrifice. Just a quiet service, a small plaque, acknowledging the credit, but that would never leave the building and a lone anonymous star on a wall filled with other anonymous sacrifices.

It didn’t seem enough. It would never seem enough.

For a few weeks after Michael had been buried, Higgins had respectfully left them leaderless. There was nothing pressing to address and he may be a lot of things, but first and foremost, he understood the loss and grief that came with losing one’s own. That kind of sorrow couldn’t be rushed or dismissed, not if you wanted your agents to function again.

Still, after that time had passed, he had asked Billy into his office.

Billy dreaded the meeting because he knew what it was going to be about.

“Operative Collins, come in.”

Billy walked in and sat down, uncomfortable and feeling as if he were betraying Michael as well as the others for even being there, but he knew it was inevitable and unavoidable.

He also hadn't been feeling very well since arriving back and was struggling to act normal around Higgins.

Upon returning home, Billy had insisted that he had been fine, avoiding a thorough medical examination, but over time, he had been feeling achy and dizzy. His appetite had waned, only nibbling with opportunity snacking. Sleep had also been elusive, nightmares invading, reliving Michael's death causing Billy to avoid sleep all together where stamina would allow. He knew his health was compromised, but he had no will to do anything about it.

“First off, I want to say that no matter our past differences nor your feelings toward me, I want you to know that I am truly sorry for your loss, for all our losses.”

Billy felt the sincerity there and took it on its face value.

“I appreciate that, Director.”

“How is the team holding up?”

“As well as can be expected,” Billy said, knowing they were barely functioning.

“I understand, but the inevitable question must be faced. Will the ODS continue –“

“Of course it will continue,” Billy said defensively, the effort rattling his body and he clenched in pain.

Higgins noted it with concern.

"Are you all right?"

"I'm right as rain, just tired...as well you can probably understand given all that's happened," Billy said without further clarification, feeling none was necessary.

Higgins looked doubtful, but let the subject drop.

“I’m not suggesting that it not continue, but you will have to agree that with Operative Dorset gone -“

Billy zoned out at the words and felt pain over the reminder.

“Someone will need to lead the ODS and I think you should consider it.”

“What?” Billy said, confused, wondering if his fatigue was making him hear things.

“I think you should lead the ODS. You and Operative Malick have the most experience, but I think you’ll agree that Malick has…limitations when it comes to command qualities.”

Billy couldn’t dispute it even if he had wanted to. Casey might want to lead, but his leadership would get them all killed in short order.

“I don’t know if even I–“ Billy started.

“It must be in-house, Operative Collins. You know that. An outsider would never understand the workings of your team, even I can concede to that.”

“So what you’re telling me is that I either take command or the ODS is disbanded.”

“Quite simply yes,” Higgins concurred.

Billy then heard Michael’s words:

"D...don't care what you have to do...lie, cheat, steal, or charm but don't let the ODS die with me. I don't want that. Best work I’ve ever done. Best team I’ve ever led."

Billy hadn’t even considered the possibility that it would be solely left to him whether the ODS survived or not.

“I appreciate you candor, Director. I need to talk to the others and think about what you’ve said.”

Higgins could only nod, signaling Billy that the conversation was done.

Billy walked out feeling anguished. He didn’t want to lead the ODS, felt that he could never measure up to the respect that Michael had earned and had commanded. It was almost an unspeakable idea, but how else would the ODS survive? Higgins may be a jerk about many things, but his words about the team were spot-on. They could never take orders from an outsider. That left him and Casey to decide the fate of the ODS and of course, by proxy, Rick’s fate.

It was almost too much to fathom for him.

ChaosChaosChaos

Flashback

Billy had noticed that Casey had been coming to work with bruises, his hands bandaged and those were the wounds he could see. From the way Casey carried himself, the way he hissed and clenched with pain or from stiffness, Billy knew that Casey had been taking out his grief over Michael's death through physical means, excessively venting his rage on hapless gym equipment and training opponents unaware of his intent.

This was how Casey coped, but the method was slowly destroying him and Billy couldn't watch it happen any longer so he followed him one day and had decided that he would make it his personal mission to stop Casey, even it meant taking him on himself.

"What are you doing?" Casey confronted.

"Making you see that you're killing yourself, slow and sure and that it has to end."

"You're not my keeper and you're not M-"

"Michael? You're right I'm not and I know that I could never measure up to the respect you had for him but I do know that he wouldn't want you to do this to yourself."

Casey's eyes flared with an anger that was no longer under control by his proudly professed stoic center.

"You have no idea what Michael would want," Casey gritted with festering grief.

"I may be wrong about a lot of things, but I do know that Michael wouldn't want you to punish yourself like this. If you must exact your rage on someone, exact it on me. It was I who let him die on my watch," Billy said with equal festering guilt.

Casey's control then snapped and he punched Billy across the face. Billy staggered momentarily, but straightened back up to readily face more, concealing the pain he was feeling.

"He died saving me, putting himself between me and a blade, all because I had placed myself in harm’s way.”

Casey struck again and Billy straightened again.

“Why weren’t you careful? Why didn’t you stop him?” Casey blurted more from emotion than from blame, but Billy felt the sting of the accusations nonetheless because he had already asked those questions, over and over again of himself.

“Aye, I made a grave tactical mistake and Michael paid for it with his life.”

The punches then came in succession with Billy continuing to bounce back, allowing Casey to thrust his anger with each blow. Billy barely felt the pain, so numbed by his own grief and guilt that he couldn’t tell if he was even bleeding.

“FIGHT BACK YOU BASTARD!” Casey yelled. “HIT ME!”

“I won’t help you punish yourself because there was nothing you could have done. You couldn’t have saved him. It’s not your fault.”

“I’M THE HUMAN WEAPON, DAMN IT! I should have been there! It’s my purpose! It should have been me who died!”

Casey’s remorse finally replaced his anger and he had no more strength to expend. He dropped to his knees, sobbing, as Billy had never seen him. He dropped down to his own knees as well, the effects of the beating settling into his still not completely healed skin, muscles, and bones from the mission. He placed a hand on Casey’s shoulder, knowing he wasn’t a man who gave into outward expressions of physical contact, but needing it for himself.

“No one should have died that day, Casey and yet someone did, someone who believed in the greater good more than he ever admitted and someone who cared for his men even more than that greater good. We must mourn for him, of course, but the ODS must also go on for him. His last words to me were to save it at any cost, through any means. So, hit me as much as you want just so long as at the end of it, you come back to us as whole as you can be.”

“I don’t know if I can,” Casey said, his baritone voice plaintive with exhaustion. “Be whole again.”

“You can, mate. I know you can. True, none of us will ever be the same men we were before, but for Michael’s sake, we mustn’t surrender to our loss.  We must take all that we have learned from him and live up to his example.”

Casey, his breathing slowing, his rage dissipating, looked at his friend and felt the needed kinship. Realization of what he had accused Billy of settled in and he hated himself for saying the words, his despair no excuse for hurting a fellow comrade.

“It wasn’t your fault either, you know,” Casey comforted, knowing it to be true. “What I said was uncalled for, I said it because I didn’t have control –“

“No, mate, you said it because it's true. In our most heated, unvarnished moments, we’re allowed the luxury of speaking the truth because it’s all we have, because saying the lies isn’t worth the effort anymore, “ Billy said, his expression twisted in pain.

“Billy, you couldn’t have done anything any more than I could have,” Casey explained, his calm control back in play.

“Nice of you to say, but that’s one lie you cannot sell, not to this purveyor of untruths. I know the truth. I was there with him to the end…I know the painful reality.”

Billy then rose back up fully onto his feet, wavering on his legs, groaning. He managed to reach out a hand to help Casey up. Casey saw the raw pain on Billy’s face through the cuts and bruises he had inflicted and hated that he had caused those wounds. He knew that Billy was wrongly blaming himself and worse, felt he deserved them and he didn't. Casey hadn't meant them.

“You should hit me,” Casey said, simply as if it would solve everything. “You’ll feel better.”

Billy smiled despite the pain it caused to his face because it was Casey’s way of saying “I’m sorry” and maybe even “I’ll feel better if you do hit me”, but it would serve no purpose in Billy's mind so he would never raise a hand to him.

“You owe me a beating,” Casey insisted, exhaustion both emotional and physical clearly in his voice.

Billy shook his head and continued to smile.

“I hardly think I could pull off a beating upon you, mate, besides, it would serve no purpose nor bring absolution. It would only bring more unneccessary pain,” Billy said, joking at first, but then with gentle resignation as he limped off, rubbing his chin.

Casey watched him leave and the guilt he felt suddenly transformed itself to a need to help Billy as he had helped him. The forced joviality was Billy’s defense mechanism just as physical confrontation was Casey’s way of coping.

Billy had understood that was the best way to get to the pain Casey was feeling, but he hadn’t counted on hurting Billy emotionally with his outburst. It wasn’t his intention, but once in the throes of the moment, he couldn’t stop blurting the words out. He was blaming himself when he had uttered them. He still blamed himself for not being there so that Billy wouldn’t have had to face losing Michael alone or at all if he had any control over the situation.

He feared that it would be a much harder task to convince Billy that Michael’s death wasn’t his fault, that it wasn’t a flaw in his actions, but that sometimes the bad guys won. He had made it worse with his words. He didn’t believe the same method Billy had employed on him would work in reverse. Billy would never hurt him. It wasn’t in him to harm someone he cared about. All Casey knew was that he would be there for Billy when the crash happened to him just as he had been there for him.

ChaosChaosChaos

Flashback

Unlike Casey, Rick had been more introverted with his grief. Casey was large gestures and outward acts of self-punishment. Rick was quiet, too quiet. Introspection to the point of taking a vow of silence it had seemed. Billy sensed that Rick was cocooning himself from the pain, trying to act normal when normal was the last thing he was feeling.

Billy hadn’t been surprised to find young Rick at the memorial wall. After almost becoming a disavowed agent himself back in Volgograd, Rick had pondered that brief encounter with sober reflection there.

When Rick had been injured, facing his own brush with death, he had posited how he could understand why Corwin had sold secrets, driven by the anonymity of the job and though none of them craved attention or did the work for the credit, for the first time, Rick had hated that Michael’s sacrifice would never be denoted by anything more than a star on a wall. 

Casey had said, “Smart men don’t join the Agency for the ‘atta boys’.” And Billy had finished the thought with “Or the parades…”

None of it helped ease the pain and the loss. Rick hadn’t expected it to, but he also couldn’t help the thoughts from coming into his head.

He hadn’t noticed Billy sidling up to him.

“We have to stop meeting like this. People will talk,” Billy teased softly.

Rick barely acknowledged the quip and continued to stare at the stars.

“You need to talk to me, lad. It’s no good this silent treatment you’re doing. It’s eating you up inside.”

Rick looked over at Billy, noticed how tired and haggard he looked, maybe even a little pained, but he was feeling that way as well.

“I never got to know him. Michael, that is. He’s gone and I never got to know him.”

Billy sighed, feeling a twinge of guilt for robbing Rick of more time with a leader who could have taught him much about leadership if not so much about how to be a trusting person.

“Michael played things close to the vest. You knew as much about him as any of us did. He was old school spy craft like Casey. They went through the ranks together.”

“You see? Like that, I didn’t know that. I should have known that.”

“It’s not a matter of what you should have known about him, mate. It’s the example he set as our fearless leader that you should take away from your time with him and he’d be the first to tell you to not become the paranoid bastard that he had been,” Billy said, a small wry smile on his face. “Michael was a ‘need to know’ kind of spy and there were a load of traps, most of them spring-loaded, working towards anyone gaining any more knowledge about him than what he was willing to reveal. I managed to ply a few open with alcohol and during some rare, unguarded moments on those very bad days when a mission failed…” he breathed heavily. “…As they inevitably do on occasion during our commutes to the office, but he only volunteered so much.”

Rick listened intently and sadly.

“The most important things you need to know about him, you already know. He was a stellar leader, yes, he had a fevered brain, but that brain saved our lives more than once…” Billy said as he swallowed back his emotions.  “He cared about the work, but he cared about the people even more. He loved and lost because of the work and he’d be the first to tell you not to fall into that same trap. The best thing you can do to preserve his memory more than any star on a wall could is to fight for your principles and to put people first. You already possess those qualities. He knew that the moment you walked in even if his paranoid nature wouldn’t let him show it outright.”

Rick began to crumble.

“It’s unfair. This job is unfair. I get Corwin even more now. I understand his bitterness,” Rick said, his voice etched with resentment. “Michael didn’t deserve what happened to him and deserves this pitiful means of recognition even less.”

Billy straightened, feeling the inadvertent reference to being the cause of Michael’s undeserved fate. He still found himself checking his hands occasionally to see if Michael’s blood still stained them. He was becoming the embodiment of Lady MacBeth, even fearing her madness might be seeping into him.

“Indeed, his last act saving my life. It should have been me. No one would have missed an already ex-patriot of one country such as myself.  A blank star would have been an appropriate acknowledgement of my contributions to the CIA.”

Rick then realized what Billy had taken from his words.

“No, Billy, I’m sorry, I wasn’t blaming you and no, it shouldn’t have been you anymore than it had been Michael.”

“No need to backtrack, lad. I know the truth and have come to terms with it. It’s neither here nor there now. What’s more important is that the ODS continue as Michael would have wanted it.”

“I don’t know…”

Billy sensed Rick’s trepidation.

“If you feel you can’t go on, then I understand. Just like the fear you felt with kidnapping LaRouche, it is your choice and yours alone whether to overcome it or not. It is not my call to make, but I know you Rick, you do have a hero’s heart, just as Michael did. You said, yourself, this is the job you signed up for. Aye, this is the worst possible moment in a spy’s life, losing one’s own, and I won’t tell you that it gets any easier, but it is part of the life we lead here. I know you have it in you to do great things, to command someday yourself, but only you can know that for yourself and you must want it with your whole heart and soul because anything less puts lives at risk.”

Billy took in a breath and pondered his own future for a moment as he spoke his words to Rick. He wasn’t sure of his own fate and here he was lecturing to Rick about his. It felt hypocritical, yet he knew in his heart that Rick would do great things and he had to do everything he could to salvage his confidence as well as his career. He knew from the small conversations he had with him that Michael had been hopeful for the future of the ODS and the CIA with Rick there so in his own way, he had hoped that he was fulfilling another wish of Michael’s.

“Think long and hard about it Rick. Michael had faith in you even if he never showed it openly. And you already know that I have every confidence in you.”

Billy patted him on the back and walked away, leaving Rick to look back at the stars on the wall with a new perspective and perhaps with a renewed sense of purpose.


TO BE CONTINUED...