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Chaos - Survival - Chapter 5/5
sophie_deangirl

Summary: When you're alone, it's all about survival until help comes your way and Billy learns that help can come in many forms. Casey doesn't accept failure well and it takes Billy to convince him that he's more human than weapon.

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.



Survival

Chapter 5:

Dehydration and malnutrition: Two words that Michael would never have equated to the human weapon. Casey considered his body a temple and one he took pride in worshipping with nutritious foods and dogged exercise.  For Casey to neglect himself so severely was inconceivable on one level and completely logical on another.

It explained why he had been AWOL for the last few days. He was clearly working out without sleeping or eating. Michael knew this was Casey’s coping mechanism. Self-punishment through perceived self-improvement. He would convince himself that he needed to be better, stronger, prime up his body, isolate his focus even more narrowly so that the same mistakes would never be repeated again on his watch. In the process he had neglected eating and hydrating properly and due to the brutality that he approached every workout, re-injuring his own wound from the mission.

He tore open hapless punching bags when he needed to vent his emotions, most of which he considered superfluous to engage in, but Michael knew that all that pent up anger and frustration had to be vented somehow. Not even Casey despite his protestations to the contrary could withstand some of the very real emotional upheavals that sometimes come with the job.

Billy being critically injured was a particular vulnerability for Casey because he had confided to Michael, under penalty of the threat of bodily harm if he had shared the information to anyone else as well as denying he ever expressed it if Michael did, that Billy was everything he was, but he was also a better man than him because he possessed a love for humanity that Casey didn’t. Michael had promised to keep the revelation confidential, but pointed out that Casey wouldn’t put his life in peril on every mission if he didn’t care about people. Casey would snort at the suggestion, but Michael knew better.

He knew that this particular breakdown was specific to this mission and what happened to Billy because of it. Casey wouldn’t share details, but Michael could only guess that he blamed himself for what had happened to Billy. For a man who professed not to care about mankind, his devotion to his team, especially Billy was indisputable.

Normally, if he had wanted to get concrete details about a mission gone wrong, especially where Casey was involved and where he had blamed himself for the mission going south, he would have to get them from Billy.

Sadly, this time, the font of information from that source was being silenced by a ventilator and unconsciousness, which was slowly evolving into a coma. The edema had gotten worse.

Casey would recover and emerge from his unconsciousness once enough fluids were put back into him.

Michael hadn’t missed the irony of the situation. Billy needed fluids removed. Casey needed fluids to hydrate.

He had to admit the idea of confronting Casey about his foolish behavior as well as getting at the root of it could bring physical harm, but Michael figured, maybe in Casey’s weakened condition, he had a chance of either hammering at him enough that he would give in or he’d be able to hold off any assault easily.

Neither option was attractive, but it was necessary to find out what was happening with his men. He was their leader. It was his job to lead them out of the despair and health crises they were both dealing with. Since Billy was facing his battle alone and there was nothing Michael could do to help him except be there when he woke up, he waited for Casey.

Michael sat and watched as Casey emerged awake, startled and in true Casey fashion, resisting.

“What? What happened?” Casey said as he tried to rip off his IVs.

“Whoa, there, stop,” Michael said as he got up and restrained Casey with a firm hand to his chest.

“I’m fine, Michael, now let me –“ Casey protested, but as he tried to get up, dizziness assaulted him and Michael had to guide him back down to the bed.

“Yeh, sure you are,” Michael said.

Casey laid back and closed his eyes breathing through his dizziness.

“Two words: Dehydration and malnutrition. What the hell did you think you were doing?” Michael scolded lightly.

“I don’t appreciate being interrogated, Michael.”

“Well, that’s just too bad because I want answers,” Michael asked firmly, knowing that Casey responded better to that versus coddling concern.

Casey opened his eyes and a look of sincere concern was on his face.

“How’s Billy?”

Michael then eased off.

“He’s unconscious, but the edema’s slowly being reduced.”

Casey noted Michael’s expression and knew that he wasn’t telling him the whole truth.

“I don’t appreciate being lied to either,” he said.

Michael relented.

“It’s a setback, but Billy’s fighting.”

“Billy’s always fighting…He just shouldn’t be this time.” Casey revealed in a rare moment of weakness as he rubbed his eyes and the bridge of his nose.

“Casey, you know that things like this happen. It’s not always –“

“Yes,” Casey said emphatically. “It is ALWAYS avoidable.”

“Mind explaining to me how you’ve come to that conclusion?”

Casey took in a breath.

“Is that an order?”

“It doesn’t have to be,” Michael said softly.

Casey sighed.

“Just because we…” Casey couldn’t even spit out the word fail, especially when he knew he was applying it to himself. “Doesn’t mean we can’t prevent it from happening again.”

“Or die trying?”

“Maybe…yes,” Casey dodged, but Michael could see the uncertainty in his eyes.

Uncertain was something Casey rarely was. He’d rather be out and out wrong and deny it than be unsure, especially of himself.

“And explain to me what we could have POSSIBLY done to avoid what happened? Contrary to what people see in Bond movies, we can’t mind read our assets –“

“Billy got shot because he had to save my sorry ass. There. Happy now?” Casey blurted.

Michael nodded.

“It’s called teamwork, Casey. He saw that you needed help and did what any one of us would have done.”

“You don’t get it. It should never have been necessary. I got cocky and –“

“You? Cocky? No!” Michael teased, but saw that it didn’t have the humorous note that he had intended. “Casey, you’re not invincible, contrary to what you may believe.”

Casey shook his head.

“You’re still not getting it, Michael. If I can’t protect any of you, what good am I?”

Michael wasn’t surprised by the revelation, just the admission.

“And here I thought you had a much higher opinion of yourself. Could it be that the Mighty Casey Malick is as much human as he is weapon?” He tried to tease again.

Casey scoffed.

“If you’re going to mock me, then leave.”

Michael then mellowed.

“Seriously, Casey, is that what you really think? That all you are to us is a weapon to be deployed like an IED and nothing else? Because I can tell you right now, you’re the only one who thinks that. We may tease you about it, but in the end, you’re flesh and blood, not metal and explosives. You are NOT expendable, Casey. And I KNOW that Billy thinks that you’re more than that.”

“And that’s the problem.”

Michael looked at him confused.

“You’ve lost me.”

“Billy…he…never listens…never follows orders,” Casey said, his voice growing more clogged with emotion. “I told him to wait, to stand down, but he just barrels right in and gets himself shot because of me, because I couldn’t subdue those assassins fast enough and missed someone that I should have seen.”

Michael heard the words and felt the tone.

“You think you’re slipping, don’t you? That this 100% crap you throw out to explain your concentration isn’t as infallible as you think it is and THAT SCARES you,” Michael said, but not accusingly, just firmly because Casey responded to that, usually defensively, until now. “And I’m telling you that’s okay. It’s why we’re a good team. We work together to get the job done: All of us together, Casey, not just you against all the assassins of the world. If a situation calls for us to step in to do what’s necessary to help someone, to save someone we care about, then it’s a no brainer call. You know that. Do you think you’re not deserving of that?”

Casey didn’t answer. He didn’t have to. He rolled over and turned his back to Michael.

“You can leave now.”

Michael knew that he had touched Casey’s sore spot, but he was at a loss as to how to solve it. For as many years as he had known him, Casey was better with punches and kicks, delving any deeper into his psyche was like venturing into a well-fortified mine field where there was literally nowhere safe to plant your feet. If Casey were the medieval type, there would also be moats and trebuchets guarding the entrance where his feelings were. Few people ever cracked that. Michael could only assume that his parents had a key to that fortress having never met them, he couldn’t be totally sure. The only other person he knew who had been allowed entry, if reluctantly, was Billy with his cajoling albeit relentless caring.

Michael believed that Billy just wore Casey down with his, sometimes bordering on playful, hazing. It was an evolution of friendship that Michael wouldn’t have called considering how drastically different the two men were both in temperament and in outlook on life plus how much Casey had resisted Billy’s presence when he had first joined them, but after they had lost Carson, it had been Billy who had played healer for both of them.

It had been Billy who had knocked on Casey’s door incessantly, even singing or reciting almost full Shakespearean scenes to draw the kind of attention Casey hated in order to have him surrender and let him in. Michael didn’t know what other “magic” Billy had applied to ease Casey through his guilt and anger back then, but it had worked, for both Casey and him. It had turned out to be a full time job because when Rick had joined them, Billy had to not only salve their distrust of Rick, but to also welcome Rick into the fold with as much reassurance as he could without sacrificing his fidelity to Casey and Michael. Michael had known that Billy had made his assessment of Rick in an instant. It was his skill, reading people and he had known Rick was trustworthy from the get-go. That same said skill was why Billy was able to crack through the hardened shell that is Casey Malick.

Casey needed Billy. It was an unlikely partnership that bloomed like a hearty plant does under harsh soil and weather conditions. Once established it was an unbreakable bond, it was a bond of friendship that Casey had never forged as strongly as he had with Billy so Michael understood. The investment and commitment to that friendship for Casey was lifetime and so for every time Billy was injured, especially critically, a piece of Casey’s carefully crafted equilibrium would be chipped off, leaving him open to emotional breaks. And if Casey believed he was to blame for Billy getting hurt, it was a responsibility he would carry until Billy emerged from his coma to convince him otherwise.

Survival for Casey was directly tied to Billy’s survival and Michael had to believe that Billy would make it. He always did. Only Billy had the answer and the mystery was slowly killing Casey.

ChaosChaosChaos

Casey had finally been released. He had sworn to everyone that he would take better care of himself and to no longer participate in overworking himself in any physical workouts under threat of having a “babysitter” tagged to him to ensure that he kept his promise, Rick happily volunteering, but he hadn’t left the hospital.

Charlotte, in the absence of Billy’s reassuring presence, clung to Casey’s side. If it hadn’t been for the dire situation, Michael and Rick would have enjoyed the scene, ribbing Casey no end about revealing this vulnerable side to her, Billy especially would have enjoyed the sight, but with him so gravely ill and unconscious, all they could do was watch with mild amusement.

“I’m glad you’re better,” Charlotte said meekly.

“Thanks. I’m sorry I scared you.”

“It’s okay. You couldn’t help getting sick. Just like Billy can’t help it either.”

Casey swallowed his emotion back.

“You know, you’re really brave for coming back,” Casey said.

Michael and Rick unable to hold back their delighted smiles. A little girl brought out a compliment from the normally reticent man.

“Nice of you to comfort her in my stead.”

Casey looked over at Billy and knew that he was still unconscious. He felt a small squeeze of his hand and he looked over at Charlotte.

“Do you hear him too?” She asked.

“What?” Casey asked a bit flummoxed.

“Billy. Do you hear him too?”

Casey didn’t know how to answer. He didn’t know whether to admit it and feel only remotely comforted that she would believe him or continue to wonder if he was going crazy even if she did.

“Billy said that he hears you in his head when he needs help. Is Billy your imaginary friend too? It’s okay. I hear him too.”

“I’m not sure,” was the most Casey would admit to.

“I’m scared for him and sometimes I hear him tell me that things will be all right, that he’s doing his best to come back, but just needs more time to rest,” Charlotte explained with a smile.

“I hope I don’t disappoint the lass. I usually never break promises, especially to pretty young ladies like her.”

Casey took in a breath.

“If Billy made a promise, he’ll keep it. He won’t let you down. He’s never let any of us down.”

Casey’s voice caught on some emotion.

“There, try to get out of that one. You’re really on the hook now. If you can’t do it for me…” Casey thought to himself. “Okay, it’s official, I’m losing my marbles.”

“What’s wrong, Casey?”

“What do you mean?” Casey asked as he straightened defensively.

“Your face, you look like you’re going to cry.”

“No, I’m not,” he said clearing his throat.

Charlotte smiled at Casey's denial then decided to drop the subject and just hold his hand.

After a couple of hours, Charlotte had to go home, but Casey stayed, vowing to get some rest if they’d let him take first watch over Billy. Only remotely suspicious, Michael and Rick left for home.

In the semi-darkness, the silence was deafening. Normally, Casey relished the peace and quiet of solitary thinking, but he suddenly realized that he missed Billy’s nattering about everything other than the mission at hand. It was too quiet. He didn’t think he’d ever say that.

He was glad that Billy was off the ventilator, but the stillness of his form, even with the rise and fall of his breathing under his own power versus the machine wasn’t comfort enough. He almost found himself begging for Billy to say something.

“Right, knew someday you’d miss my mellifluous voice and Sean Connery accent.”

“Yeh, it only took a coma to make me realize how much…” Casey stumbled. “What is happening to me?”

“Come on, admit it, you miss me. You needn't worry. It’s not like I’ll be lauding it over ya, after all, I’m in a coma and this is probably all in your bloody head anyway, complex place, that, I must say. Perhaps I’m just a crack in that stoic center of yours, aye? Or am I? Could it be that I’m not a figment after all, but the voice of your conscious talking? Maybe you really are going starkers, aye?”

“My luck. I’m going crazy hearing you in my head. Typical…” Casey paused. “And I don’t miss you…I just wish you would wake up so –“

“So? So what?”

“So I can ream you a new one about getting yourself shot on account of me,” Casey blurted in frustration.

The nurses heard him, turned their heads for a second and didn’t even blink. It must be normal for them to hear people talk to comatose patients.

“It’s not your fault. I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Billy’s voice softly said with a sincerity that nearly brought Casey to tears. “We’re mates, aren’t we? Isn’t that what mates do for one another? Keep each other safe?”

“No, you can’t do that, I mean, I can’t do that. I won’t rationalize what I did.”

“And what is that exactly?” 

“I let you take a bullet that was meant for me.”

“I don’t recall them having any engravings on them.”

“Be serious, will you?”

“What? I am being serious. And what do you mean ‘let’ me take a bullet? Who said that every bullet only has your name on them, aye? Those bullets I took for young Charlotte there, they were mine and mine alone and likely put me here in the first place and as I said, I’d take those bullets again in a heartbeat. It’s what’s expected from the job. I know it. You certainly know it, to excess if you ask me. Michael and Rick do as well. Why are you obsessing over this?”

“You don’t understand.”

“Clearly I don't, so why don't you explain it to me then?”

“I can’t lose any more friends, all right? Are you happy now?”

“You have plenty of friends.”

“No, what I have are colleagues who are my friends.”

“Is there a difference I’m not seeing?”

Casey sighed with exasperation.

“I take it back. I DON’T miss the sound of your voice.”

“I’ll not be silenced until I get a proper explanation.”

Casey blew out a frustrated exhale.

“I need you here to keep me balanced, okay? Contrary to what you see on the outside, it’s not easy to be me…I…” Casey’s voice trembled as he whispered, almost as if giving a confession. “I’ve told you things, showed you sides of me that no one else has seen because I trust you. There aren’t many people I can trust. You’ve never betrayed that trust and you’ve never treated me like a monster, like some sort of hybrid of man and machine.”

“Michael and Rick don’t see you –“

“Yes, they do and that’s okay, it’s what I am…but it’s not who I am and it’s why I need you here…I need you to remind me that I’m more than just a human weapon because sometimes...I do wonder if that’s all I am.”

Casey then heard something. Whispered words that weren’t his own were filtering towards him. He then realized it was a voice. Billy’s voice. He bolted up and saw him come awake, moving his mouth.

“I’ll get the nurse.”

He felt Billy’s fingers tap lightly on his hand.

“Wait…” Billy said hoarsely. “Need…to…say…something.”

“It can wait. You –“

“Heard you…not who you are…more to you...than that…”

“What?” Casey said confused, all manner of memory of the “conversation” shot out of his head in the urgency of the realization that Billy was waking up.

“You…are…not…a machine…would do it again…in a heartbeat, yeh?”

Casey almost lost complete composure at those words, words that he thought he had fabricated in his head, but that were now being said by Billy himself. Suddenly he wasn’t sure where illusion ended and reality began.

The doctors examined Billy and though they gave him a cautiously optimistic prognosis, they also warned that he had a long road of healing ahead of him as well as physical therapy. He was also extremely weak and would tire easily for a few weeks at least.

Though his usual joviality was tempered, he was able to engage enough of it for when Charlotte visited to ease her anxiety. She had gone through so many shocks with his setbacks and he felt he owed her some much needed reassurance despite the brave face she was showing towards him.

Casey had been unusually subdued and Billy had known the root of the problem there and was determined to straighten out the misunderstanding between them. It would be easier to make convincing arguments now that he was on the mend.

Charlotte had come by every day while he had been unconscious, but on her first visit since he had regained consciousness, she felt a little nervous in the beginning, but was glad to see Billy looking better if weak.

"Hi, Billy!" She said cheerily.

Her presence was the best medicine for Billy. Her joyfulness gave him the needed boost to keep his own mood and strength up.

"Hello, there, lass. How lovely to see you again," Billy said his voice raspy, but the lilt was still there.

"How are you feeling?"

"I won't lie to you, love, I'm feeling a bit knackered, that's tired to you, sweetheart, but the doctors tell me I'm on the mend finally so I plan to do my best to get better and better. I'm sorry I scared you."

Charlotte’s expression softened and she grasped his hand. His weak squeeze back made her sigh and smile even more widely. It also brought a small giggle.

"It's okay. Casey said he was sorry too. I'm just glad you're both better."

"Ah, right, I remember now that he had been stricken as well."

"He was more scared about you, though he didn't say it because he wanted to protect me."

"Aye, that's our Casey, always taking on unnecessary burdens."

Billy took in a deep breath, feeling the weight of responsibility of Casey's unnecessary self-recrimination and he knew he had to set things right soon.

"Would you mind terribly if I talked with him first? I fear your powers of observation are spot on and he needs a bit of reassuring."

She giggled again.

“Sure, I’ll go get him,” she said as she turned to leave, Billy gave her hand another quick squeeze.

“Thank you for looking out for my mate, Casey there, for being there for him. He sometimes acts too brave for his own good, yeh?” Billy said. “And thank you for watching over me as well. You kept us both going with your strength.”

Charlotte’s face was luminescent with joy that she had helped them both.

“I’m glad,” she said just as toddled off to get Casey.

Billy laid back. He hated feeling weak and exhausted, but understood that after what he had gone through he couldn’t be expected to feel like dancing. Still, he knew he couldn’t fully rest until he had talked with Casey.

“Ah, speak of the devil,” Billy said as he watched Charlotte escort Casey into his room, his hand covering hers.

It was a sight that even in his compromised state, Billy could enjoy and would remember for future mining for ribbing purposes when they were both back on their feet.

Casey glowered.

“Ah, and escorted by the lovely Miss Charlotte, thank you, love.”

“You’re welcome,” she twittered.

“Shall I see you later then?”

“Sure,” she said as she pranced from the room.

Billy turned his attention back to Casey.

“I see that being in a coma hasn’t deadened your charm. Guess that means you’re on the road to recovery finally and I can kiss the lovely silence I was enjoying good bye,” Casey commented, but Billy could hear the strain.

“My me thinks thou protests too much, aye?”

“Spare me the Shakespeare, okay?” Casey protested.

“I see that hospitalization has only made you even more sullen and to think I didn’t think that could be possible.”

“Guess I’m full of surprises.”

“Much as I enjoy these pleasantries and quite honestly, have actually missed them while unconscious, we need to talk -”

“No, we don’t. I don’t want to be held responsible for impeding your recovery. I’ll never hear the end of it from Michael and Rick. As it is, their attempts to psycho-analyze me have been insufferable -”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Billy blurted out in order to get a word in edgewise with the defensive human weapon.

Casey froze in place, his next retort dying in transit to be expressed by his lips. Instead, a deep sigh replaced it.

“Yes, it was,” Casey finally relented.

Billy shook his head sympathetically.

"We are partners, are we not?" Billy queried.

"Of course. We all are."

"Clearly not all created equal."

Casey fell silent.

"You are not the proverbial sacrificial lamb of the ODS. I will not abide you believing that and never will," Billy insisted. "If it makes you feel better, I take full responsibility for my actions."

"It doesn't."

"Casey, you could not predetermine my choices no matter how much you'd like to convince yourself that you could. One thing you must accept is that I have my own mind and I will defy any and all rules if any of you are in peril. To tell me that I have no choice will always be met with rebellion, so best get used to that insubordination."

Casey listened and felt a sense of gratitude at the honesty of Billy's words. His continued silence spurred Billy on with his arguments.

"As distasteful as you may find it, you have friends, yes, friends who will do whatever it takes to keep you safe as you always do for us on each and every mission."

Casey remained silent with humility. Billy sensed it and that he was slowly breaking through to Casey's stoic center so he kept talking, the exhaustion creeping into his body, threatening to silence him before he could finish convincing his friend that he had been worth every wound.

"You play your bravado to the end, but I know better. You feel it a weakness to care, a crisis in character to fail at protecting those you have been entrusted to protect, but that protection goes both ways, my friend and I would take nothing back to spare myself this hospitalization. I would do it all again to ensure your survival."

Billy could no longer hold back the insistent unconsciousness, his body's call for rest, but before he drifted off, he heard Casey say, "Okay...I get it."

He then smiled and said, “Good...that's settled then...”

Casey waited until Billy had fallen asleep then placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Thanks,” Casey said as he sat back down in his chair and stood guard over Billy.

FIN. Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.




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I just wanted to say again how much I enjoyed this. :) Poor Casey! He really did have a rough time. But, I'm glad that Billy could help him find peace again.

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