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Chaos - Lead By Example Part 3/4
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.





Part Three:


Rick and Casey screeched to a stop and piled out of the car, leaving the doors open.

Rick continued to call out to Billy on his cell never disconnecting the open line, but there was still no answer.

Casey ran ahead of Rick and got to Billy's door. Adrenalin was flooding his body. Protocol be damned, he didn't bother to knock or call out. Instinct and Billy's lack of response drove him and he kicked the door open.

Rick was right next to Casey and they both rushed in.

"Billy!" Rick called out as he spotted his friend's prone body on the floor.

Rick turned Billy over and was shocked to see him so pale and with blue tinged lips, blood leaking from his nose. Billy twitched and moaned.

Billy's eyes fluttered open and seeing Rick in his line of sight brought a smile.

"Hang on, Billy. Fay called EMS before we left. They're right behind us," Rick assured, unsure if Billy could hear him.

"Damn it, don't you die on me you idiot," Casey said, Rick hearing the break in his voice despite Casey trying to act defiantly pissed off.

Billy's smile grew wider, demonstrating to both of them that he was conscious and had heard them.

He took in struggling, ragged breaths.

"Aye, orders...received...loud and…clear...mustn't die," he said, clenching his eyes closed and moaning again. “Will do my level best…to comply.”

"That's YOUR job, giving the orders. You hear me? Nobody else's. You're accepting Higgins's offer. Do NOT make me convince you."

Rick couldn't help but smile.

"Right..." Billy smiled weakly. “Wouldn’t…want that…now, would we?”

Billy coughed and blood stained his lips. Rick held him tighter, fear gripping him in its own stranglehold.

"And Rick isn't the only one who would go to hell and back for you. I'm insulted that you even had to question that," Casey said, a mix of sarcasm and certainty in his voice.

Billy nodded, drawing a smile through the pain.

“My…mistake…” He gasped and wheezed.

He swallowed then closed his eyes as they heard EMS arrive.

Rick was now frozen with fear.

Casey felt the adrenaline drain from him and dizziness tried to take over, but he resisted it, easing himself into a nearby chair.

"He's going to be all right," Casey said.

Rick stepped away to allow the EMS to work on Billy.

"How can you be so sure?" Rick asked, wanting to hope, but seeing Billy so deathly ill, he couldn't be sure.

"Because Billy never disobeys orders, not when he has control, not when he knows people are counting on him. In the six years we've worked together, he's never let me..." Casey paused, "never let...us down...he will make it."

"I hope you're right."

Casey hoped he was too, his usual confidence not as firmly implanted in his stoic center as he wished it was.

ChaosChaosChaos

It felt strange and oddly lonely for Rick and Casey as they waited in the waiting room. They had been in their fair share of hospital waiting rooms, but Michael had always been there with them, no matter who was injured. It was a rare mission that had Michael hospitalized. He often said that the hardest thing about being a leader was sending one of them on life threatening missions and staying behind to coordinate or doing the undercover set up.  He preferred it when he was directly involved in the mission with them so that he could watch over them and he never took for granted that they protected him in return.

But they also knew that Michael was always ready to take any fall necessary whether it was battling Higgins for acceptance or an enemy combatant threatening any one of their lives. It was what Michael did.

And he had finally paid the ultimate price.

But Casey and Rick knew that he had done it without any hesitation and they knew that he had thought that Billy had been worth it.

It was now up to them to not only convince Billy that Michael thought he was worth dying for, but that they also would die for him and even more importantly that they would follow him into the heart of darkness if he asked.

Billy was in surgery and the blur of the doctors and their explanations of all they had to repair had been dizzying and if allowed to sink in any deeper would paralyze them both.

Translation: Billy had a long war ahead of him, locked in a fierce battle of wills that they had to hope that he would prevail, that it wasn’t too late.

Fay and Adele had joined them and they had felt less alone.

Adele brought Rick into an embrace and he melted into it.

"Any word?" Fay asked.

"They just got Billy into surgery," Casey said.

"What did the doctors say?"

"I got a migraine listening to them," Casey said as he paced.

"They would only confirm that he has pneumonia. They said that Billy had only allowed a cursory physical after we came back…after Michael's death," Rick said sadly. It still hurt to say the words. "He kept saying that he was fine and refused any other treatment. He was probably in pain all this time -"

"Then I go and make it worse by hitting him," Casey said with disdain.

"You didn't know and he let you hit him," Rick tried to help defend.

"Not an excuse to do it. I should have known something was wrong."

"How could you have known?" Fay asked.

"I should have known that letting me hit him was as much about him as it was about me. He helped me at his expense."

“Casey –“

“I’ve known him for six years, Fay,” Casey said, regret filtered through his voice. “We’ve been through hell and back together enough times to know each other and as much as I hate to admit it, he’s been a lot more…understanding when I thought I had botched a mission, but I’ve never been good at…those kinds of things. Losing Michael was hard, but no more difficult for me than it was for Billy…maybe more for him because he…cares...he cares more deeply and he had to watch him die.”

Rick, Fay and Adele listened, having never heard Casey rant about anything at length that didn’t involve wishing someone ill will and exacting physical harm. They watched him practically tremble with self-loathing.

“Casey, it’s okay. You said it yourself. Billy will make it. He always does,” Rick tried to console.

“That’s not the point. I should have known better. He deserves better than a teammate who can’t see beyond his own self-absorption…who beat him.”

Casey shook his head with disbelief at his actions.

“The doctor said that the injuries were all from the mission. There was nothing –“

“Screw the doctors! How the HELL can they know that for sure? I KNOW! I KNOW what I did. What I don’t know is how I can ever make it up to Billy. How he can ever trust me again.”

Casey stalked off. Rick went to follow him, but was stopped by Adele.

“Give him time. You both have gone through a lot. For all of Casey’s stoicism, deep down, I think he’s more easily hurt than he lets on and he sets a much higher standard for himself. Give him room to breathe and more importantly, be there for him if Billy –“

“No, no, Billy will make it. It’s what we both know about him.”

“He’s not superhuman,” Adele said trying to be gently realistic.

“Maybe not, but sheer will is Billy’s superpower. The day there’s a kryptonite for that will be the day both Casey and I will quit the Agency because none of it will mean anything anymore to us.”

Adele drew Rick back into a hug.

Fay followed Casey outside into the cold air of the evening.

“Casey?” She called out softly.

“I’m sorry you had to see that. I’m okay. Go back in,” Casey said, his control back in place, for now.

“No, you’re not. We’ve been friends too long for you to pretend with me.”

“Don’t…” Casey said, his control slipping again.

“Don’t what? Don’t tell you that Michael’s death wasn’t your fault? That you couldn’t have prevented it? That Billy’s injuries aren’t your fault? That Billy knew what he was doing? I think you know all that, but it’s so much easier to take on the blame because it gives you a reason for what happened to Michael, for what’s happening to Billy, but I know you, Casey. You know that sometimes the spy game has casualties, that it’s a heartless profession.”

“Fay… stop.”

“No, I won’t stop because I know how much you cared about Michael and care about Billy. You HAVE to let Michael go. He’d want that. He would tell you to stop wallowing and to move on and you know it.”

Casey squeezed back his tears. Fay had known him as long as Michael had, longer than Billy did so he knew she had the right to say the words, to call him on his behavior.

“I miss him, Fay. I can’t lose Billy too. It’s just too much. Even for a bastard like me.”

Fay came over and laid a comforting hand on his back.

“I know and you’re not a bastard. You just have a hardened shell, but see? It’s easy to crack,” she softly teased. “We haven’t lost Billy yet, but…if we do, you can’t walk away like you want to. You have Rick to consider.”

“I’m not a very good example for him, Fay. All I know is how to inflict pain and suffering.”

“And to be strong and centered,” she pointed out.

“It’s not enough to do the job.”

“Rick has the other qualities and you might want to take the time to learn a little from him.”

Casey shook his head.

“Look at how long Billy’s tried and he’s failed. If he can’t…”

“Really? Seems to me, he’s made some significant in-roads if what I’m seeing isn’t a hallucination. You’ve always cared, but not like this, not taking on unnecessary blame like you are now. That’s a Billy trait.”

“If you’re going to be insulting…” Casey said, no malice behind the statement, a small smile creeping at the corner of his mouth.

“Casey, I’ve known you for a long time. Michael trusted you with protecting the team and you have, but it’s not all you do and you can’t be everywhere all at the same time. Not even the human weapon can split himself like an atom.”

Casey found himself smiling again.

“Billy will have it the hardest, Casey and you know it. Being there when Michael died. Truthfully, you were lucky. He’ll need you to help him remember the best of Michael, not how he died.”

“I guess so.”

“Rick is new and naïve in his devotion and needs to be led, will allow himself to be led. You’re the only one who can show Billy that he’s capable of leading because he’d know you wouldn’t follow anyone you didn’t trust with your life. You don’t give that right to just anyone. Probably only two now.”

Casey listened to her and he felt his body relax with the comfort. She was right. Though he knew she was suffering loss as well, she knew him, she knew the ODS with Michael and had a perspective that he needed in order to see the ODS without Michael.

“Now, come inside before you freeze to death. I really don’t want to do more paperwork about another hospitalized operative though with the ODS, it’s practically expected,” Fay teased.

Casey nodded. He turned to go in and then Fay caught him in an embrace.

“Michael would want you to be there for Billy and Rick. Concentrate your energies on that, okay? Skip the channeling through rage part.”

They parted and Casey snorted.

ChaosChaosChaos

Adele held Rick’s hand and saw the red-rimmed anguish in his eyes.

“I never thought that we’d lose Michael and now…Billy might die…”

“Don’t lose that faith you have in him. I don’t know Billy well, but I’ve seen him bounce back from injuries that would break a lesser man…well, second only to Casey,” she softly teased and comforted. “I’ve also seen how he’s been with you. You need to keep believing.”

Rick nodded.

“Thanks…you know…for being here with me.”

“Where else would I be?” She said with a small smile.

He smiled back.

“I’m sorry about Michael.”

“I didn’t really get to know him, but I respected him, even his paranoia,” Rick joked.

“He respected you too,” Adele said.

Rick gave her a curious look.

“How…?”

“He wanted me to know how well you were doing because he didn’t have any confidence that Higgins would acknowledge it.”

Rick looked at her, emotions once again coming to the surface.

“Wow…I didn’t realize…”

“He didn’t want you to know about it because he was worried that you would suspect something nefarious,” she smiled. “He admitted that he didn’t exactly instill trust in you. It was early on in your time there.”

“Early on? They tested me for months.”

Adele smiled again.

“Michael admitted that it was better for you to think that. It hadn’t been about testing your loyalty, but rooting out Higgins’s influence on you. He told me your loyalty was plainly there,” she giggled.

“What?”

“He said that nobody could be that patriotic and have a hidden agenda.”

Rick then laughed.

“Am I that easy to read?”

She nodded. “Yeh, you are, in the best of ways. I think he envied it. I know that I do.”

Rick sighed. “I wished I had known him.”

“You did for as much as he was willing reveal.”

“I guess, but…”

“He was impressed and proud of you, Rick. A seasoned operative like he was, if he felt that you didn’t measure up, you would have known. You would have been out of the ODS. He had that kind of power.”

“Sounds like you knew him better than I did.”

“He talked a lot about you. He told me that he would never entrust the lives of Billy and Casey to someone he didn’t trust himself,” she said, then smiled again. “I also think he suspected that I was a bit taken by you myself. Maybe before I even knew it. As you know, I can be a bit slow about such things.”

Rick smiled and caressed her cheek.

“I felt privileged really, that he would trust me that way. Funny thing about this place, you do learn to be suspicious of people’s intentions, seems almost expected of you, but the ones who truly offer it, do it in a way that ensures you don’t question it, they let you know it. Michael had that way.”

“Yeh, yeh, I guess he did.”

Suddenly, the quiet comfort between them had been interrupted by the surgeon, who had entered the room, his expression grim and less than confidence inspiring. Fay and Casey joined the group as well. They all stood up. The suspense was suffocating.

“How is he?” Rick asked quickly.

“The good news is that he survived the surgery and his vitals are holding –“

“And the bad news?” Casey asked, always cutting to the chase.

“He has fully involved pneumonia in both lungs. He’s on a ventilator and we have him on antibiotics.”

“So we wait, right?” Rick asked.

“Yes, but…”

“But what?” Casey asked, his voice rising in irritation.

“I’m afraid he’s fallen into a coma.”

Rick’s knees felt as if they were going to buckle underneath him.

“That doesn’t mean anything. He’s been worse,” Casey declared.

“I understand that and as with anyone, there’s always a chance, but you need to know that his chances dwindle the longer he stays in the coma or if it deepens. If he had just come in sooner, I’m concerned that his immune system has been severely compromised.”

And that was the statement that had left everyone without a defense.

They all knew that Billy had ignored his health to take care of them first and though it was the kind of leadership quality that made him the man they would gladly follow, the cost for that compassion could be his life.

“Thank you, doctor,” Adele intervened.

As the doctor walked off, Rick sat down in a chair, Adele holding him, easing him into it. Casey walked over to a nearby wall and threw his fist into it.

ChaosChaosChaos

It had been a week.

Billy had remained stable, but he was still unconscious. The pneumonia was abating, but it wasn’t gone completely. Still, he had improved enough to attempt removing the ventilator. He began breathing on his own. Small victories.

Vigils were all too common with the members of the ODS. Too many close calls and injuries and most of them seemed to happen to Billy. Casey knew why because just like him and yet in every important way, not like him, Billy ran into situations to save someone and often got hurt for his efforts. He had realized why. Unlike him, Billy never planned or strategized before he thrust himself into danger. He just did it on instinct. If someone was in peril, that was all the criteria that Billy had needed and the rest was just survival and Billy had survived a lot.

But Casey wasn’t sure that Billy would survive this and continued to feel the guilt of his contribution.

Billy had done the same thing for him and Rick, even suffering his own pain, his own grief he had put them aside and had acted on instinct.  For them. His friends were hurting and that was all he had needed to know to leap in. To put them first.

It didn’t matter what the others had said, in the end, Casey knew he had made it worse. Even if he hadn’t contributed to Billy’s illness or injuries, he knew that where it had counted the most, he had done the most damage one man could do to another.

Casey had abandoned Billy when he had been begging to be saved.

He had never claimed to be someone who was easy to talk to, someone a person would turn to, to talk out anything personal, but…

That didn’t change the fact that he had abandoned Billy when he had needed him the most, to face the worst demon of all for an operative, an operative like Billy who took everything personally.

Survivor’s guilt.

He had accused Billy of not being careful, questioned why he couldn’t save Michael and when he had tried to retract his words, it had been too late. The damage had already been done.

He didn’t need to use his defensive postures or his weaponized skills, he knew how to employ those; it was his go-to instinct.  No, he had abandoned Billy by not telling him what he most needed to hear, that he didn’t blame him for his grief, for what had happened to Michael.

Casey could explain away why he was incapable of such gestures; that he needed to focus 100% on being the human weapon. It was what he had trained himself to be. He had rationalized to Linda about why he couldn’t even be 2% off his game. If he had possessed the courage, he would have admitted and agreed that the 2% was love.

When Billy had needed him, he was more than just 2% off. It was the first time that he had been at nothing. Zero percent. Hitting Billy had been a vain attempt to regain any of that control he had valued so much, to return to that stoic center he had often bragged about obtaining without effort. Instead, it had depleted him even more because he had tried regaining it at Billy’s expense and that wasn’t being the friend he should have been; that was being nothing. Zero.

And now, as Billy lay unconscious, as close to death as he had ever been, Casey realized that if he lost Billy. He was done. It would be over. He could never be the human weapon again. He couldn’t be anything ever again. He would be nothing. Zero. For the rest of his life. As much as he liked Rick, he couldn’t stay even for him.

He didn’t want to leave the ODS, but he knew that if Billy died, he’d have to. He’d be no good to anyone anymore.

He watched Billy breathe and should have been comforted, but he was scared, scared that when Billy woke up, would he be able to make it up to him, would he find the right words to make things right between them? He would want Billy to beat him up. It was what he was comfortable with, but he knew Billy and he would refuse because Billy knew what a good man did. He absolved without violence.


TO BE CONTINUED...



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