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Chaos - Hour of Darkness Chapter 3/5
sophie_deangirl
Summary: Inspired by and dedicated to Faye_Dartmouth and her co-author, lena7142. None of the  characters are mine, but I was so moved by their story, Rack and Ruin, this one wrote itself with my own very Pollyanna twist to it. I highly recommend you read their story, it’s a wonderful read.




Hour of Darkness

Chapter 3:

He looked through the door window again to make sure it was clear. He cocked his gun just in case, as a last resort, preferring not to use it if he could help it and bring unwanted attention to himself. He slunk out into the hallway and the faint smell of imprisonment was in the air. Nothing overwhelming, not yet anyway, but you couldn’t move people in and out of fetid cells without the aroma that followed a body just short of decomposition or that had been swimming in its own juices.

Billy quivered with the memory then moved on. Each cell had its own window, not for the prisoners, it was much too high to look through for them, but for the guards to take a quick check of them. Billy had to do the same to locate his friends. He didn’t know if they would be together in one cell or separated. There were psychological advantages to both. He had to hope they would be together, if for no other reason than for Rick’s sake.

For each glance and finding a broken soul on the other side of the glass, Billy had to contain his gag reflex and more difficultly, his need to free them all. In the end, those who were already wounded past the point of being able to walk under their own power, let alone psychologically scarred, cowering in a corner for fear it was a guard coming to take them away again, were better off left behind. It sounded cruel, but they would either hold them back from escaping or just be recaptured and suffer greater torture for their audacity for even trying to escape.

Tsykalov. He had been killed for his defiance.

Billy had to wipe the memory away. Memorials for lost lives and lost opportunities had to wait until he had freed his friends. He had a lifetime for recriminations.

Finally, he got to one cell and he saw Casey. He was uncharacteristically quiet, caged agitation would be what Billy would have expected to have seen. That didn’t bode well. Still, he didn’t look severely injured and Billy needed his help. 

He slid the card through, the lock disengaged with a click and he opened the door. The first thing that assaulted him was the expected smell. These cells didn’t have housekeeping services. He looked over to where Casey should have been. When he didn’t see him there, he knew exactly where to look.

Casey was positioned to Billy’s right, ready to punch and kick. He had maneuvered into position as soon as he heard the lock. Billy had to smile. Casey was still Casey. His spirit as yet unbroken.

“Whoa, there, sonny,” Billy said with a whisper. “I wouldn’t render the person who’s come to your rescue unconscious. That would be against both of our interests.”

Casey barely relaxed, could only stare at Billy in shock and there was something else there. Relief. It gave Billy pause to silence the human weapon with just his mere presence.

“While I enjoy leaving you utterly speechless, a rare event I might add, and a goal of mine for the six years that we’ve been together, I fear we’ll have to celebrate our glorious reunion later. I need your weaponry to fetch the others.”

Casey then relaxed entirely, swallowed, exhaled a long breath as if he had been holding it for days releasing the tension in his muscles and said, “What took you so long?”

His expression was barely holding back the emotion of seeing his friend, the friend that he had written off in order to deal with his own grief at having not rescued him quickly enough.

Billy could only smile.

“Aye, classic Casey. I’ve actually missed that hardened cynicism of yours.”

Billy then looked out into the hallway to see if the coast was clear.

“Right, better make haste I suspect. If memory serves, we have about ten minutes before the next spot check. You wouldn’t happen to know where the others are, would you? It would quicken the pace of getting out of here significantly,” Billy said, his teasing tone feeling normal to him and he enjoyed its easy return. “I’m not in favor of overstaying our welcome here.”

“I don’t know where they are,” Casey said, almost dejected. “They split us up when we got captured.”

“Well, it was a thought,” Billy said. “How are you holding up?”

Billy knew Casey would lie to him about the true nature of his injuries, but even an injured Casey was all the weapon Billy needed.

“I’m fine. I just need to expend some pent up energy,” Casey said, the venom in his voice not lost on Billy and it brought a smile.

“You wouldn't happen to know how the others are fairing by chance?” Billy’s concern evident.

Casey sighed, the only obvious tell that Casey couldn’t control and that gave Billy a chill.

“They’d sometimes bring us all in to watch one of us get interrogated, hoping that the others would break to save him.”

Billy nodded in understanding. “Aye, nothing like having an audience. The Romans would have nothing on these blokes.”

“It’s been the hardest on Michael,” Casey said.

Billy gave him a surprised expression. It was a comment he wasn’t expecting to hear.

“Michael?”

“Not because of the torture, but because -”

Recognition lit up on Billy’s face.

“Ah, they’re sparing him the physical torture, but doing much worse to him psychologically by making him watch helplessly as they torture the rest of you.”

“Especially Rick. They’ve figured out that I can take it, but Rick...”

Billy nodded. “I feared as much. All the more incentive to hurry this along then.”

“You’d be proud of the kid. He’s been holding his own,” Casey commented, hoping it would ease Billy’s anxiety.

Billy bowed his head.

“I’d much rather he was proving his mettle anywhere else than here and not under these circumstances.”

Billy looked back up into the eyes of his friend.

“I’ve always been proud of the lad, of all of you,” Billy said with pride and sympathy. “It’s what made breaking all the worse for me.”

Casey nodded. He felt frustration at possessing the one skill he needed at that moment, expression of his feelings. Billy smiled and patted him on the shoulder, telling him he didn’t have to say anything.

Billy tried handing Casey the gun, but Casey shook his head, opting to face his captors hand-to-hand, trusting Billy to do what’s needed if it should become necessary.

Billy smiled. “Right, then, best be off.”

Casey grasped his arm, making Billy look back.

“I’m sorry,” Casey said, the shame on his face evident and raw, “for not getting to you in time.”

Billy was now the one who had been left gobsmacked for a moment. It was a simple statement, but one that carried huge implications for both men. Casey hardly ever apologized so it meant the world to Billy to hear him admit to a failing that Billy didn’t hold against him. He gave Casey a nod and a small smile.

“There’s no need for that. I understand.”

Casey nodded. “Let’s go.”

Having Casey covering his back was allowing Billy to let his guard down a little and the consolation was welcome as his body released its tension, still his concern for Rick’s physical well-being and Michael’s emotional one preyed on his mind.

Billy continued to look into each window as Casey played lookout for guards or any other unwelcome obstacles to their rescue of the others. Casey then bumped into Billy.

“What the -” Casey said irritably.

When he turned around, he saw Billy using his key card again. He had a grave expression on his face and it made Casey blanch.

When Billy opened the door, he saw Rick. His face was battered, bruised, and swollen. Along his neck, there was a rope burn dark and angry, bleeding. It made Billy stiffen with rising and renewed rage. Rick hadn’t even flinched as Casey had when the door had opened. He sat laxly, his limbs limp. Billy couldn’t tell if Rick was even conscious.

Billy’s expression was determined and filled with resolve. He knew what had to be done even if he wasn't sure of how he would cope with it. The whole mission had been one test after another for him and thus far, Billy had been able to grapple each challenge, if not with the same gusto that he had possessed before, then at least with enough grit as he could muster to accomplish what was necessary. What he was thinking of doing now could prove to be the most daunting challenge, but it was not for himself. It was for Rick. Decision made, he handed Casey his key card.

He looked at it confused.

“Go find Michael and come back for us,” Billy said, matter of fact.

Billy’s gesture of trust was not lost on Casey. There was always a risk that he’d be recaptured or that the captors would find Billy with Rick, putting Billy back in the cross hairs of his torturers. It took courage for him to risk imprisonment again, but Casey had always known that he had possessed such courage. That had never been in doubt.

“We can take Rick with us,” Casey said as the absurdity of the statement rung in his own ears.

“No, he’s far too injured for the two of us to carry through the halls. We’ll be caught for sure. No, you have to find Michael, hope to God that he’s in good shape and come back for us. It’s the only choice, mate and you know it.”

Billy then spied something minute in Casey’s eyes, a barely perceptible twitch of uncertainty.

"I can't leave him like this, Casey. More to the point, I won't leave him to face whatever is next alone."

Billy's words struck Casey in his chest.

“But...what about...” he trailed off unable to gather the right words into his mouth.

"What? Have I rendered the great Casey Malick speechless twice in one day? Surely a red letter day this is,” he teased.

Casey just stood, feeling the internal turmoil that was raging within him, not enjoying feeling like King Solomon having to make an unacceptable choice.

“It’ll be all right...” Billy reassured and it hadn't been a false sentiment. “I’m all right. I’ll be fine.”

Casey found it hard to command his legs to move for a second. It brought a sly grin to Billy's face, but then it fell. He then handed Casey his cell phone.

"Casey? If you can't make it back, don't try, you understand, yeh? Get out of here. Get another extraction team and come back, if you have to, but you and Michael HAVE to make it out if it comes to making that choice. All of this will be for nothing if you get recaptured and I promise you there will be nothing worse for me than that."

Casey choked on an inhaled breath and could only nod since protesting would only waste precious minutes they didn't have.

Billy’s words edged Casey on and he nodded as he rushed out of the room, knowing time was of the essence if both of his friends were going to escape with him and Michael. On that, he was resolved.

Billy watched the door slowly close in front of him, the audible click of the lock engaging again. He felt his stomach contract with fear. Once again he was a prisoner, but when he looked over at Rick, at the bruises and blood coating his face and neck, he knew he had made the right choice.

It had been the only choice.

ChaosChaosChaos

Rick began to stir. Every move he made brought wave after wave of pain and he moaned. Even breathing and moaning brought pain. Suddenly he sensed that he wasn't alone and he flinched trying to see through his swollen eyes.

"There, there, Rick. You needn't fear."

Rick was confused at first then fearful that he had finally lost his mind.

"Billy?" He said plaintively, hope and anxiety colliding.

"Aye, it's me, lad, in the flesh," Billy tried to reassure.

But instead of being happy to see him, Rick recoiled.

"No, no, you're not here! You can't be here!"

Billy's heart felt like breaking. Rick was slowly entering the darkness of doubt and terror. He hoped that he wasn’t too late, that it was just a knee jerk reaction versus a transformation of thinking.

"Rick, listen to me, you're not going mad, lad, I promise you. I'm really here," he said, while slowly placing a comforting hand on Rick’s shoulder.

Rick calmed, but there was no comfort there. He slumped against the wall, grimacing with pain.

"Then I wish I were hallucinating because if you're here, it means you've been captured too and that's the last thing I wanted."

Billy understood the meaning of Rick's words. He was both touched and saddened.

"I think I preferred Casey's reaction to my return. He only just tried to kill me. Course, he's always trying to do that," Billy teased, hoping to lighten the moment.

Rick tilted his head with confusion.

"What?"

"I see that a wee bit of explanation is needed here. I wasn't forcibly extended an invitation this time. I crashed the party on my own. I fear the life has most assuredly gone out of this particular party and it's time for us to leave."

Rick's expression was hard to read through the bruising and swelling, but Billy heard a choke of tears.

"You came back to rescue us?"

"Aye, now you've got it. Now, rest up, for when Casey gets back, we'll be needing to hit the ground running."

Rick let out a sigh and some sobs. Billy pulled him towards him to reassure him of his presence and to comfort him.

"But...what happened to you...you shouldn't be here."

Billy felt saddened by the impression that Rick would forever have of him, of being weak and afraid. He'd have to rebuild that trust again even with his own uncertainty looming over him. Saving his friends was the first step towards defeating that uncertainty, facing it head on in the very place he had lost everything.

"Nor should any of you, lad. You came here to avenge my imprisonment and now it's my turn to return the favor. I'll not lie to you, I am far from the man you once knew, perhaps, I will never be that man again, but if I am ever going to do the craft again, trust myself with all of you again, I must face and defeat that fear. More importantly, I could not have your lives be lost to the monster who destroyed me. THAT, I will not allow to happen. Besides, wasn’t it you who told me that I shouldn’t surrender? Well, here I am.”

Rick took in a breath and tried to smile.

Then a sound came from the door and Billy watched Rick involuntarily flinch. He well understood the reaction. He was just barely keeping himself under control, trying to keep the visceral response from emerging.

He had hoped it was Casey and Michael so that they could leave this place.

He was sorely disappointed. You’d think he’d be used to that by now.

Two guards stood at the door, both surprised at finding Billy there with Rick.

“Кто вы?” “Who are you?” one of them asked in Russian.

“Ваш худший кошмар,” “Your worst nightmare,” Billy replied back.

Rick stared at Billy incredulously.

“What are you doing? What did you say to him?” Rick asked, noting the angry expression on the one who had asked the question. “Because whatever it was, it’s not making him happy.”

“Nor should it, lad. Didn’t learn your Russian, aye? Let me translate then. He asked me who I was and I told him I was his worst nightmare.”

“WHAT?” Rick yelled back, suddenly feeling a rush of adrenaline from the shock of Billy's cavalier attitude.

It enlivened him and if it weren't for the pain, he would have relished its return.

The guards then came further into the room.

“No! Get away! Leave him alone!” Rick yelled as he watched the guard with the angry expression pull Billy up to his feet as the other one lifted Rick.

Billy was touched that Rick, even in his battered state would place himself into harm's way to protect him. He enjoyed watching Rick's courage emerge victorious. Heart of a hero. He had known it from the start.

“It’s all right, lad. Keep your wits about you. Besides, they don’t understand a lick of English.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Don’t worry. I have a plan.”

“Really? Well, would you mind cluing me in on it, please?”

“That would take away from the element of surprise, now wouldn’t it?”

Rick could only sigh. Though hearing the defiance mixed with the sarcastic humor of the old Billy was comforting, he feared a certain recklessness stemming from the need to exact revenge on what had happened to him, still, he trusted Billy and would follow his lead.

They were walked out of their cell and Billy, ever observant, spotted Casey, with Michael just within his peripheral vision. He smiled. They were both  safe and he knew they would remain that way. He could concentrate on saving Rick now.

The guard noticed Billy’s smile.

“Что ты улыбаешься?” “What are you smiling about?”

“ничего,” “Nothing,” Billy said as he was shoved forward.

Casey and Michael looked dispirited at what they were witnessing.

“I can take them,” Casey said, teeth gritted.

“I know you can, but we still have Rick to consider. He’s in bad shape. Billy’s right, we’d never make it out of here. We have to get help.”

Casey gave Michael the steeliest glare he could muster.

“I AM NOT LEAVING THEM,” Casey hissed.

Michael understood and didn’t take offense.

“I know. We’re not leaving them, but we need more back up.”

Casey was trying to control his breathing.

“You go get the back up,” Casey said, giving Michael the cell phone and key card Billy had given him. “I’m staying with them so I’ll know who to rip a new one if anything happens.”

Before Michael could protest, Casey was away. Michael had never been as proud of his team as he was at that moment. It was up to him to make sure they all made it out this time.

The guards pushed Billy and Rick down the hall. Rick was moving slowly and trying to keep himself from stumbling. Billy wished he could help, but he had to play cagey. If Casey were with him, they would have put down the guards immediately, but Rick was in bad shape, in worse shape than Billy had first noticed. He watched as Rick curled into himself, his right arm pressed against his side. His ribs were probably bruised, maybe broken. He had a limp, at the very least his legs or knees had been beaten. If broken, he wouldn’t be walking at all, not that it would have stopped the guards from making him walk, but if he couldn’t, they would be dragging him and the toll on his feet and ankles would then be added to the injuries list.  Billy understood the signs of each of those injuries. He had had them and more. His only comfort was that Rick had yet to be completely shattered, but he knew it wouldn’t be far behind if they stayed any longer.

There was a schedule to these things. Body, bones, muscles, spirit, soul. Billy would know that progression for the rest of his life. Seeing Rick’s suffering made him realize that no matter what happened to him now, his friends needed him, was depending on him to aid in their escape with the knowledge that only he had possessed from his time there and he would make use of every bitter moment to help them, to help Rick. He understood now that was why he was there.

For them.

They finally reached a door and one of the guards used their key card to gain entry. They opened it and shoved both of them into the room.  One guard entered, the other stood watch outside.

Rick tripped into the room and fell. Billy just wavered on his feet. Once steadied, he helped Rick up from the floor.

“Ah, so we are back, are we? Just couldn’t stay away, aye?”

Billy froze in place for a moment.

He recognized the voice. It didn't belong to the Commander, but he knew it. The recognition brought a chill and a resurgence of phantom pain, long healed, but shockingly and easily recalled as if he had never left his prison. It hit him square in the chest. He slowly turned, looked up and had to swallow back a gasp.

Tsykalov.

“Hello, Vasili. Surprised to see me, no?”

TBC – Thanks for reading




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