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Chaos - Denial then Acceptance Part 3/5

Summary: Hallucinations and reality merge for both Billy and Rick as they face their worst fears. Capture and torture.

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 3:

The revelation silenced everyone for a moment.

"What?" Rick said.

Michael pondered about revealing more of Billy's past with them, taking into consideration confidentiality, but realized that it was more important for them to understand the pain that Billy was clearly reliving. He was the only one who had known about Billy's past. If Billy’s going through PTSD from the torture, he would need all of them to help him.

"Billy's dossier had the details of his deportation. Normally, I'd keep it confidential, but I'm worried that Billy might be suffering PTSD from what was done to him and he's going to need all of our support to get him through it."

"I'll do anything you ask to help him, Michael. Just tell me what to do," Rick volunteered without any hesitation.

"Make that the both of us," Casey said just as quickly and with the same conviction of commitment.

Michael smiled with pride at the men he had considered a privilege to lead and serve alongside. He then took a glance at the man suffering so much, obliviously sleeping for now yet facing terrors no good man should have to face, but he wouldn't face them alone. Billy had come to the ODS needing a purpose and had more than returned Michael's investment in him. Seeing him through the horror of not only the torment he had been subjected to, but also bringing him back through the looking glass of a despaired and in Michael's opinion unjust disavowal from his country was an honor.

"Okay, so we're on the same page."

Rick and Casey nodded practically in unison.


Billy had awakened hours later with Michael sitting next to his bed.

Since they couldn’t gauge at what timeline he would emerge, Michael felt that he’d be the less traumatic presence. He had to hope that Billy would recognize him and that he would ease him back with as many relevant facts as he could without overwhelming him.

Billy looked around him and saw Michael’s face. His expression was one of emotional exhaustion. He grimaced with pain and it didn’t go unnoticed.

“Are you all right?” Michael asked. “Do you need a doctor?”

Billy slowly shook his head in response. Michael couldn’t read through the pain and fatigue if Billy had recognized him.

“What happened?” Billy finally spoke.

“What do you remember?” Michael asked.

There was a long pause.

“I’m not sure.”

“Well, then let’s start with the basics –“

“You mean the CIA third degree? The President is Obama and I work with the best men I’ve ever known. You mean those basics?” Billy teased.

Michael had never felt so much comfort and relief in a few spoken words than he had felt at that moment.

“Yeh, those would be the ones. Good to have you back,” he said.

“It’s good to be alive, yeh? But the way I’m feeling, I’m not so sure how good it is to be conscious,” Billy joked tiredly.

“I bet,” Michael said, his smile fading a bit.

Billy detected it and knew what Michael was trying to get the courage to ask.

“I know what happened, Michael…I was captured and tortured…the thing that really threw me for a loop was that it was at the hands of my old mate, Eddie and…”

Billy’s face then registered panic.

“Oh my God, Emma! Where’s Emma? She got captured with me. That right bastard kidnapped her and…damn it, I can’t remember anything else…Michael, what happened to Emma?”

Michael’s relief dissipated like a draining energy force and he felt the color leave his face.

“What’s wrong? What are you not telling me? Where’s Emma? You must have found her, she was with me…she fell asleep in my arms…Tell me you found her. Tell me you have that bastard in custody!”

Billy was hysterical and as much as Michael wanted to comfort, he was at a loss as to what words could begin to comfort him. Telling Billy that Emma was dead, that she’d been dead for six years and that he only imagined her alive through a drug induced hallucination or lie to him and tell him that she was still alive, that they had captured his nemesis friend.  The former would be the painful truth that could send Billy reeling to a place he might never emerge from. The latter would salve his anxiety, but in the end Billy would have to face the truth and Michael couldn’t imagine the resentment he might receive from his friend at lying to him, to make him hope that Emma was still alive even if it was to protect his fragile mental state.

It was an impossible moment for Michael, to not have a quick answer, to not have a plan in place and selfishness was driving him to want to choose the lie, to rather have Billy be comforted with it versus being forced to face a truth that clearly he had come to terms with, but that the drugs his captors had injected into him had resurrected for him to endure another round of denial and acceptance.

Luckily, the doctors saved Michael from making the cowardly decision. They came in and sedated him; Billy’s fading consciousness left a trail of softly uttered pleas to be told what had happened to the love of his life.

Michael could only sigh in relief and he had never hated feeling that way at the expense of his close friend’s sanity as much as he had at that moment.

He walked over to Rick and Casey in the waiting room. They didn’t need anyone to tell them that something bad had happened. It was written all over Michael’s face.

“What happened?” Rick asked.

“From the look on your face it’s nothing good,” Casey said bluntly stating the obvious as he had a talent of doing.

“Billy remembers where he is, but…” Michael said as he took in a breath. “He’s remembering Emma as still alive and that Eddie was the one who took them both.”

“So he’s having mixed reality hallucinations?” Casey posited as if he were an expert.

Michael and Rick looked at him curiously.

“I’ve been reading up on…well, psychological torture. You know, to prepare myself for such an event…” Casey stuttered out, saying it as if the roles had been reversed, he’d have known what to do.

Michael and Rick continued to wait for more detail.

“Those terrorists injected Billy with something that would distort his realities so that they could manipulate him into revealing things without knowing. On the one hand, he’s the Billy we know, here and in the present, but he’s superimposed people from his past into the roles of his captivity. I don’t know anything about what happened to him back when he was with the British Secret Service, but clearly, he’s trying to –“

“Change the outcome of the past…” Michael interjected knowing the facts from the dossier.

“That seems likely, but there’s a risk that if the drugs clear his system  -“

“And the hallucinations don’t…” Michael tried to finish, but couldn’t bring himself to say it aloud.

“You mean he could stay this way?”

“If he’s unable to break through the false reality, deal with the truth of what happened six years ago, we’ll lose him for good,” Casey said matter of fact even though inwardly, he hated to be the bearer of such devastating news.

“How do we help him?” Rick asked, needing to do something.

“We can keep telling him what really happened. He’ll resist at first, but hopefully in time, he’ll remember on his own,” Casey suggested.

“And if he doesn’t?” Rick asked, dread in his voice, as he already knew the answer.

“He’ll likely retreat into himself and further into the fantasy world where Emma is still alive and in his mind, still able to be rescued,” Casey finished.

They all gave each other knowing looks. Their faith in Billy’s strength to overcome any torture was absolute, but the sophistication of the chemicals injected into him may have broken a wall so fully erected that by breaking through it, revealing the comfort of having the love of his life back and alive could be the one broken barrier that would seduce Billy into staying in a false reality permanently because facing that loss again and it seemed obvious to all of the men, facing whatever failures Billy perceived had caused him to lose her would be more than even Billy could bear.

After all, regaining a lost opportunity to get back something as powerful as the love of one’s life would be irresistible to a lesser man. To a strong man like Billy, it could be his complete undoing. And what could any of them offer Billy that would be worth facing the horrific loss all over again and coming back to their reality.

All three of them would be hard pressed to blame Billy for wanting to escape them and the harsh truths they would be representative of.

It gave them pause for thought and Rick braved the suggestion.

“Maybe it would better –“

“No, it wouldn’t be,” Michael said with emotional conviction.

“How do you –“

“Because I know Billy. Right now, all that’s important is what Billy wants and he would want the truth, no matter how painful. He wants to be here, not stuck in the past, his mind useless, unable to do the work he loves. He'd rather be dead."


Billy and Michael were huddled in a booth of the bar, sharing shots of scotch whisky, each of them dreading the lonely trip back to their apartments, or in Billy’s case, hotel room. Discussions about missions past and present went back and forth and then a solemn silence veiled over both of them.

Billy broke it as he toyed with his shot glass.

“I’ve been thinking…ever since Carson’s death…” Billy said. “I’ve come to a decision that you need to know.”

Michael stiffened with worry that he might be losing another member of his team.

Billy detected the slight change and smiled.

“I’m not leaving the ODS, Michael.”

“What? I knew that.”

“Right,” Billy smiled at Michael’s defensiveness.

“You know I really hate when you do that.”

“What? Read you like a book? I consider that my talent, reading people.”

“I thought your talent was charming people?”

“Yes, well, that goes without saying, but in order to charm them you have to have a certain sixth sense, an ability to see past the facades that people put up.”

“Oh, and you have this ability do you?” Michael teased.

Billy’s face fell just a bit. “Not as often as I’d like. I’ve had my share of miscues. It’s gotten me into a fair bit of trouble in the past which brings me back to my point-“

“And that is…”

“As I said, Carson’s death got me thinking,” Billy paused as if trying to find the words, another talent that usually never failed him. “If I should ever get captured –“

“We’ve already talked about-“

“No, no, we haven’t, not about this,” Billy took a swig from his glass as well as a breath. “I know that you and Casey would do everything in your power to get me out and even if not alive, you’d never leave me behind and believe me when I tell you that nothing gives me more comfort as well as strength than knowing that.”

“Then what?”

“We both know that capture usually comes with torture, our collective nemeses never seem satisfied to keep to the old school methods. Chemical warfare not only plotted against our bodies, but also against our minds are constant threats.”

Billy’s expression fell further and Michael wondered what was weighing so heavily on his mind.

“When I was in the British Secret Service, I lost a mate to capture and torture. I had reached him too late. I do blame myself and always will, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. He had been brutalized in a way that had left him not only physically damaged, but mentally disfigured as well. He wasn’t the man I knew. He had to be institutionalized, his mind was so disoriented that no matter how much truth was given to him, he could never accept it.”

“I’m sorry, Billy.”

“I watched him slowly shatter before my eyes, forever lost to everyone he knew, locked in a world that I can’t even imagine…” Billy’s expression went far away for a second, but then returned. “I want you to promise me that if that ever happened to me –“

“It won’t.”

Billy smiled.

“Not even the great Michael Dorset can promise such a thing and I would never ask that of you. In our line of work, that torture is inevitable. I just need you to know that if I’m ever found to be emotionally broken, do not institutionalize me. I’d rather be dead than locked away. Do whatever it takes to bring me back, but failing that...if I fail to emerge back to this reality, I want you to promise me that you’ll leave a gun in my hands and walk away.”

Michael was a bit shocked by the declaration.

“Billy, I –“

“I know I’m asking a lot from you, but my mind is my trade and my comfort. If I were to lose it, I would rather not live. I would NEVER ask you or Casey to take me out of my misery. That wouldn’t be fair to either of you. I would never ask you to do something that would most assuredly scar you and keep you from continuing to do good work. All I need to know and believe me it will bring me as much comfort as knowing you’d never leave me behind is that you’d respect my wishes on this.”

Michael looked at Billy, hoping he’d see clouded judgment from the scotch, but Billy’s eyes were clear and his resolve evident.

“I still maintain that it will never come to that, but all right, I promise.”

Billy smiled.

“I thank you.”

Michael took in a breath as he faced going into the room. The doctors had emphasized keeping Billy calm. He hoped that he would accomplish this particularly personal mission with as much mercy as he could muster.

Billy was awake, if a little groggy. Michael had never felt so afraid to fail. So much was riding on helping Billy back from the brink of madness. The doctors couldn't determine how long the drugs had been in Billy's system or what long-term damage they had caused.  It was up to Michael to do that, to either guide Billy back to this reality and force him to leave the security of someone he loved in a fantasy world or hand him a gun to end his existence in both worlds. Michael could understand the seduction. There were many moments where he would have chosen to stay in a blissfully ignorant past over living with a painful reality, but he knew what Billy wanted, what Billy valued most and that was his sanity, the clarity of it no matter how agonizing the truth was. Michael was determined to help Billy regain it. Failure would mean doing something he wasn't sure he could do despite his promise.

He walked over to the bed and Billy turned. He gave him a reassuring smile as only Billy could offer.

"Ah, our fearless leader," Billy said indicating nothing wrong in his weakened voice.

"How are you feeling, Billy?"

"I'm afraid I'm far from 100%."

"It's understandable given all you've gone through," Michael evaded the details.

"Aye, such is the risk of the work, yeh?" Billy said.

The familiarity of the admission no longer held the comfort it had when Billy had declared it in the past now it was just a painful memory.

"I'm sorry it took so long to get to you," Michael said sincerely, regret riddled through his voice.

"No need to apologize, Michael. I had every confidence you would come. That's never been in question," Billy said with a smile.

"What do you remember?" Michael treaded hesitantly.

"I remember..." Billy said, his face reflecting confusion and struggle.

"It doesn't matter. Just take it easy."

Billy's expression then contorted in distress.

"Billy? Are you okay? Do you need a doctor?"

"Eddie...He's alive. He was there. He..."

Michael was then filled with concern and disappointment for Billy's continued mental confusion. He just wanted to leave and not strain him any further by making him remember more false memories.

"Emma! Michael, where's Emma? She was with me. She's in danger!"

As Billy became more agitated, Michael calmly took Billy's shoulders to steady him.

"Billy, listen to me, Emma wasn't there. Eddie wasn't either. The drugs the terrorists gave you just made you think they were there."

Billy became more distressed and confused.

"No, no, I saw them there. Eddie defected and blamed Emma for choosing me!"

Doctors and nurses heard the commotion and tried to help, but Billy continued to resist.

"Billy, please -" Michael pleaded.

"Tell me you have Emma. She's in danger."

Michael saw the pain on Billy's face and knew that he had to break it in the worst possible yet necessary method. The truth dished out directly without mincing it with softening prefaces, coldly delivered, without reservation. It would be the way Billy would want it given to him.

"Billy, she wasn't there because she died six years ago."

Billy's eyes went wide with shock and Michael felt that he was no better than Billy's torturers. It seemed cruel to make Billy face something that had caused so much pain.

"You're lying!!!"

"I wish I were. Believe me, lying to you would be easier for both of us, but I know you, Billy, you would want the truth. You told me you wanted me to tell you the truth, remember? You told me you'd rather be dead than lose your mind, to lose your sense of reality."

Billy looked as if someone had punched him.

"I'm sorry, sir, you have to leave. We have to sedate Mr. Collins. He's hurting himself."

Michael backed out of the room reluctantly, trying to keep eye contact with Billy, hoping that something inside of him would see Michael's anguished desire to help him back to reality.

Billy didn't break the eye contact as well and despite every cell in his body telling him he had seen Emma alive, the earnest pain on his friend's face made him question himself and though the pull to want to believe Emma was alive was overwhelming, something else inside of him was pulling him in the opposite direction, knowing that Michael would never betray him with such a cruel lie.

Suddenly, the effects of the sedative was slowly relaxing him, tunneling his vision towards darkness.

Michael watched his friend drift into unconsciousness and go limp. All he could feel was that he had left Billy behind, breaking a promise he had made to him that he'd never do that.

Michael walked into the waiting room, looking pained and in a daze. Rick and Casey went up to him just as he sat heavily into a chair.

"What happened?" Rick asked.

"I feel like Brutus," Michael said tiredly.

"No, Michael, you didn't betray Billy, you told him the truth that he needed to hear, that he made you promise to always tell him. It's easy to lie to someone, but it takes courage to tell the truth especially when it's painful," Rick comforted.

"Thanks, Rick. I hope you're right. Right now, I feel no better than the terrorists who did this to him."

"That's ridiculous and you know it, Michael. Billy knows it too. You're not giving him much credit for his ability to understand the difference. I know that he does and with time, when the poison they put into his system wears off, he'll tell you that you did the right thing."

Michael smiled at Casey's pragmatism.

"That's pretty philosophical for you."

"It's not philosophy, it's fact."

"Duly noted," Michael said with a smile and a sigh. "I hope you're right."

"I know I am and I know Billy. You should too."


Billy had been given enough sedative to calm him down. He felt loopy, but it wasn't enough to put him asleep.

He pondered Michael's words and his thoughts strayed to that night in the bar. He had remembered their conversation. He had asked Michael to do an unthinkable favor for him back then. He had hoped that he would never have to put Michael in that position, to redeem that favor and yet here he was unaware that he was as mentally impaired as he had feared back then.

Billy was in turmoil. He couldn't decipher what of his memories were real and what were manufactured. Seeing Eddie taunting him with the injections, talking to Emma, it all brought real emotions, it all felt so real and yet Michael was telling him it was all a hallucination, that it was all a lie. Emma was already dead, had been dead for six years. He so wanted that to be the lie, but he couldn't convince himself of it.

So he let the sedative seep into him, to lift his mind into atmospheric oblivion, but it fell just short of obliterating either memory.

Then someone walked in. He turned and saw Michael again. He had never seen the leader who he had pledged his full fidelity to look so frightened. He had to make him know that he didn't hold him to blame for what had happened earlier.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"You don't owe-"

"Yeh, mate, I do. I know you were just keeping your promise and I'm sorry for putting you in such an awful position."

"You remember?"

"Yeh, I just never expected that you'd have to actually..."

"It's okay, neither did I. I wish the circumstances were different."

"You and me both, mate. I have to be honest, I'm still not sure what to believe..." Billy said, "but I believe that you're telling me the truth. I know that you wouldn't lie to me...I just..."

Billy couldn't stop his body from trembling. He felt pain radiating throughout his body and he felt cold.

"Billy? What's wrong?"

"I'm not feeling so well," Billy said as he clenched his eyes closed.

"I'll get a doctor," Michael said as he rushed out of the room.

When Billy opened his eyes again, he saw Emma there, smiling at him.


She just continued to smile.

"Am I dying? Have you come for me then?"

Then all Billy remembered was Emma's hand reaching out for him and being unable to grasp it.

Darkness enveloped him again.


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And now the real torture for the team begins -- having Billy back and facing the possibility that he may never be the same man -- that's just a horrible thing for them to face. And to see Billy, normally so easily strong and unbreakable, weak in the aftermath is truly hard to read. Your flashback with Michael here is especially poignantly done.

All in all, you already know how much I love this fic and the second read through is making me love it all the more. But now I need the ending! Where's the rest?!

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