Chapter 1: Newbies
Hello readers, it’s Spitfire! And it’s time for the rewrite! (Ten points to whoever gets the (sorta) reference) I’m gonna be completely re-writing Indestructible (it will be deleted five days after this chapter goes up), since I’m not happy at all with its current state. So, there are a couple changes to go over first: I’ve renamed her Rebecca “Dash” Myers (Five points if you get the name reference), Roach is no longer ‘the new kid’ Dash is, Archer and Toad will also be a feature couple (later on in the story), and I’m going to throw in my writing buddy’s favorite depressed sad-sack of an OC: Jason “Jay” Miller and make it a co-written story with her. So let’s get on with it, shall we!?
*Three points to whoever knows what game they’re playing
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
~Spitfire (and Kat!) out
(PS from Kat: I’m Jay’s mun! ^_^ Find me and Jay on Tumblr with the url jayofthe141 J )
Everyone usually relaxed after ops. Even Archer and Toad took a break from the range to relax in the rec room or sleep in. As it was, Roach and Chemo were playing video games and Ghost, MacTavish, and Archer, the three officers of the team, sat at the table, talking and playing a simple card game with few rules.
Archer mentioned seeing a couple new names crossing his desk earlier when he’d been doing paperwork and MacTavish nodded, “They’ll be comin’ in in the morning,” he confirmed, placing a card in the middle, “King of Hearts.”
“Bullshit,” Ghost called him out and flipped the card to find that MacTavish was, indeed, lying, “Who are they?” he questioned as MacTavish grumbled and took the pile. *
“Rebecca Myers and Jason Miller,” Archer answered, “Call-signs Dash and Jay respectively. Ace of Diamonds,” he placed the card face down on the middle of the now empty table, nobody dared to try their luck at calling Archer on his bluff, but he’d actually laid down a Queen of Spades.
MacTavish nodded, “Myers is a close-quarters fighter, and Miller is a medic. Not sure what they did to catch Shepherd’s eye, but that’s not really my business until they get here.”
Ghost hummed his approval, “We’re short-handed on medics. Glad Shepherd found another,” he laid down a card, “One of Clubs.”
“Archer,” Toad called from his place at the counter where he was typing away at his computer, “Captain,” he added as an afterthought.
Both men sighed and set their hands face down on the table before standing to go see what it was Toad wanted.
“I’ve got a solid lead on the ACS module,” he looked up at the TV where Roach and Chemo were in the middle of a racing game and grinned, typing in a few commands, and suddenly their game was replaced by a map.
There were shouts of protest and then an argument over who had been winning. The three men at the counter laughed at them for a moment before turning their attention to the screen.
“There,” Toad said, as he highlighted the location on his laptop, “The Tian Shan Mountains, on the border between Kyrgyzstan and China. Intel says the Russians built an airbase there a while ago and it’s been seeing a lot more activity than usual since the ACS was stolen.”
“Good work, Toad,” Archer commented, gripping the younger sniper’s shoulder.
“Roach, get ready, you and I have places to be tomorrow afternoon,” MacTavish spoke with a smirk.
“But what about the FNGs, sir?” Ghost questioned.
MacTavish grinned, “You and Archer can handle them.”
Ghost rolled his eyes and Archer chuckled and checked his watch, “Alright, it’s getting late, I’m gonna turn in.”
Toad relinquished control of the TV to allow Roach and Chemo to keep playing and shut his computer down. The snipers roomed together and Archer was a very light sleeper who would be grouchy if Toad woke him up by coming in after he’d fallen asleep, so he left to join Archer in their room, he’d probably just read or something until he was tired.
Ghost put the remnants of Archer’s hand, only one card, into the pile on the table then looked at MacTavish expectantly.
He sighed and sat down, picking up his hand again, “Where were we?”
“You got two.”
MacTavish grunted his reply and set down his card, “Two of Diamonds.”
MacTavish grinned as Ghost flipped over the card that was, in fact, a Two of Diamonds. He grumbled and took the small collection of cards.
The next morning, Archer and Ghost were found waiting at the front gate for the new arrivals while MacTavish and Roach packed for their op.
Archer checked his watch when the bus pulled up, “Right on time,” he looked over at Ghost, “How do you want to play this? Your usual ‘intimidate the shit out of the newbies’ routine, or actually try to welcome them this time?”
Ghost grunted with a smirk as he pulled his mask down over his face.
Archer sighed as Ghost walked up to the bus to greet the recruits, “Intimidate the newbies it is,” he muttered to himself, hurrying up to join them before Ghost ran them off.
“-First Lieutenant Riley, you can call me Ghost or ‘sir’,” Archer caught Ghost saying as he approached, “And this,” he gestured to Archer, “is-“
“Second Lieutenant Richards,” Archer cut him off, “call me Archer, welcome to the one-four-one.”
“Master Sergeant Rebecca Myers,” the woman introduced herself first, sticking her hand out to shake Archer’s hand, Ghost hadn’t offered, “Call-sign Dash.”
Her hair was cut short, auburn in color, and in a bun, but a few pieces that were too short to fit into it were hanging down around her face, framing it nicely. She looked extremely young, in her lower to mid-twenties maybe. Her accent, Archer thought, sounded like she was from one of the more rural areas of Texas.
“Corporal Jason Miller,” he was much quieter than Myers had been, “Everyone calls me Jay…” he shook Archer’s hand as well, though the sniper thought it was probably so that he didn’t come off as rude or disrespectful.
Jay’s hair was oddly both brown and blonde and he had tired eyes, he probably looked older than he was.
“Alright, well you both are probably tired from the trip,” Archer said politely, “so we’ll make this quick. The Captain is getting ready for an op so you’ll meet him later and do the full tour then, for now we’re just gonna show you the basics.”
The recruits nodded and picked up their bags. Jay carried two, Archer noted, one with a medic’s symbol, the other with his name stitched into a patch that he’d sewn on, and Dash only had one. Archer concluded that the bag with the symbol was Jay’s med-kit. It was a messenger style bag that hung across his body and hung just at his waist.
The two officers turned away to lead them into and around the base. They were shown to the mess hall, the training field, the infirmary, the gym, and the barracks, where Archer and Ghost stopped to give them both schedules and their room assignments. Dash, being the only woman aside from a few nurses that lived on base, would be rooming with one of said nurses, and Jay was roomed with Prophet, who was apparently the team’s psychologist. Jay fought to keep the disappointment out of his face, he was not a fan of psychologists, he made every effort to avoid them, and now he was roomed with one.
Finally, they were shown to the rec room to meet the rest of the team, minus the two that had only just left by helicopter.
Introductions were brief and uneventful and mostly just consisted of people saying their name and their specialization then going back to what they were doing.
“Toad,” one copper haired man said from his laptop, raising his hand, “I’m Archer’s spotter, we make up Sniper Team One,” he gestured to his computer, “I also hack and track.”
Archer nodded proudly.
“Chemo, basic field medicine.”
“Ozone, hacking and infiltration.”
“Scarecrow, also infiltration.”
“Driver, um… duh?”
“Rocket, demolitions and EOD.”
“Worm,” he shrugged, “tracking.”
Dash grinned, “That’s a lot of people,” she laughed, “I’m Rebecca Myers, call me Dash or Maya.”
“Jay,” he introduced himself simply, he was tired, and he just wanted to go to his bunk and nap right now.
He picked up his bags and left the room to do just that.
Jay was almost to his room when Archer caught up to him, “Something wrong, Corporal? You don’t seem to be doing to good.”
“I’m alright, sir,” Jay answered, “Just tired, it’s the pain meds,” he shrugged, it was half a lie, he just wasn’t very social to begin with, “just got out of the hospital.”
“Really? What happened to ya?”
Jay sighed slightly, he wasn’t in the mood for this, “Long story short, I pushed a guy out of the way of a stray bullet and caught it in the lung,” he neglected to mention that this ‘guy’ had been General Shepherd himself.
Archer nodded slowly, “Well, I should let you get some rest then… I’ll see you later.”
Jay nodded his thanks and turned to go find his room. He checked the room number twice before opening the door. This ‘Prophet’ guy hadn’t introduced himself in the rec room and Jay had hoped he’d be away at the office or something, but instead Jay found him lying on the bottom bunk reading. Jay rolled his eyes and entered the room.
Prophet sat up, “Hey, you must be that new kid, uh, Jay? Was it?”
“Yeah,” Jay answered simply and set his bag down by the ladder up to the top bunk.
He stretched his back and winced as his injury pulled. Jay checked his watch and sighed, it was time for more pain medication and to change the bandage. He went over and sat down in the chair at the empty desk and set his kit on top of it.
He felt Prophet watching him as he took his shirt off, “Don’t you have more productive things to be doing?” he questioned.
“Ah, not really, no,” Prophet shrugged, “What’s with the attitude?”
Jay peeled the old bandage off and disposed of it, “I’m tired,” he got out a clean gauze pad and medical tape, the bandage was really just to keep the stitches from rubbing against his clothes and irritating the wound.
“Liar,” Prophet accused as Jay worked.
“Half a lie is still a lie.”
Jay sent him a glare as he took his medication. He sat back for a moment, waiting for it kick in. He slipped his boots off after a couple minutes and stood to climb up to what would be his bunk.
Prophet caught his shoulder before he could climb up, “You’re hiding something, and whatever it is, it’s not healthy. I’ll be here when you decide to get you head out of your ass and talk to someone.”
Jay scowled at him, “I’ve been dealing with it for five years, pretty sure I don’t need your ‘help’,” he pushed Prophet’s hand off his shoulder and climbed up.
He laid down on his back and was asleep within seconds. Prophet stared after him for a moment before sighing and going back to his book, this kid needed help whether he knew it or not.
In the rec room, Dash was getting to know everybody, “So… what do you guys do when you’re not on an op?” she questioned curiously.
“Toad helps coordinate all of the ongoing ops,” Archer answered for his spotter who gave a small and short wave in affirmation, “but he doesn’t like to be alone so he does it from here instead of the command room.”
Archer ruffled Toad’s hair, earning a glare that said ‘I don’t like that, but I’m too busy to care, don’t do it again’. Archer chuckled at that and walked away from him to grab a couple beers from the fridge. He set one down next to Toad and kept the other for himself.
“How many ops is he coordinating?”
“Right now, only two,” Toad answered, taking a small break to take a drink from his beer, “Can’t tell the newbies about them ‘till they’re over though.”
Dash nodded, “Understandable. What about the rest of you?”
“Pretty much what you see us doing,” Royce shrugged, “We just got back from an op yesterday; otherwise some of us might be in the gym or whatever.”
“What were y’all doing yesterday?” Dash asked.
“Leveling a building,” Rocket grinned.
Dash chuckled at him, “Well, it was a long ride and I’m tired, so I think I’m gonna go hit the hay,” she said simply, waving as she left.
Jay jumped awake and looked over at Prophet, who had woken him up, “Ugh… What?”
Prophet chuckled, “A, you were having a nightmare. B, Doc wants to see you in the infirmary.”
He sat up and cracked his neck, “Alright… How long was I out?” Jay ignored the comment about his nightmare.
Prophet checked his watch, “About an hour and a half,” he answered as Jay climbed down and put his boots on.
Jay yawned and stretched his back, it popped in several places and he sighed contently. He packed up his kit, which he’d apparently forgotten to do earlier when he just wanted to take a nap, and slung it over his shoulder. Prophet left before Jay, heading to his own office, there was something about this kid he needed to know that he obviously wasn’t going to be told about.
“Hey, you must be Rebecca Myers!” the nurse greeted her with a wide grin.
She was pale, like she didn’t get out much, and had died her hair a light floral pink… Dash thought it was odd, but it complemented her face and completion well, “That I am,” Dash smiled back and shook the hand offered to her, “but you can call me Maya or Dash.”
The nurse nodded, “Everybody calls me Redheart**,” she replied, “Nobody’ll tell me why though…” she commented in confusion then shrugged, “I’m the head nurse down at the infirmary. So, Maya, what’s your story? Where you from? What do you do?”
“I’m from Texas,” she answered, “And I fight close quarters. All I need’s me, my fists, and my SPAS.”
The nurse gave a sly smile, “Then I expect to see you in the infirmary a lot,” she laughed, “our close-quarters specialists are known for their bad luck and getting hurt.”
Dash laughed with her and gestured to herself with her thumb, “Well I’ll be different. I always win, you won’t be seein’ a lot a me in the office.”
Redheart nodded, “Let’s hope not,” she took Dash’s hand, “Now c’mon! I’ve got a stash of strawberries and whip cream, and you have a home to tell me all about,” she grinned and dragged her further into the room.
** Five points to whoever gets this reference
Hey, okay, I know this wasn’t the update you all were waiting and hoping for and wanting, but this has waited long enough. I know Jay kind of stole the show here, but that’s because he’s a lot more developed than Dash is and he’s easier to write. (Kat: Imma kill her for rooming my angsty baby with a shrink.) No you won’t, calm down. Anyway! Anyone to get thirteen points from the references in the chapter will get a 500 word preview of the next chapter of Stoic! (Unless you don’t want the preview, that’s cool too) Well, that’s all for now, please let us know what you think so that we can get the next chapter pumped out soon!
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
~Spitfire (and Kat!) out
Woo! Chapter 2! We had one person get the thirteen points from the references, and now I’m gonna tell you what they all were anyway: the first one was a reference to Three Dog’s radio show in Fallout 3, Dash’s name reference (R.Dash) is a reference to Rainbow Dash from MLP, they’re playing Bullshit, and the nurse at the end is based on Nurse Redheart from MLP. Anyhoo, big thanks to Hawk-eye-33, TheShadeOps, justagenericusername, and Coffee Monsta for your reviews.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
~Spitfire (and Kat!) out
Missing psychological exam. Yep. Shepherd was going to be up his ass about that no doubt. Prophet rubbed his forehead as he kept going through Jay’s file. It was odd, the kid didn’t seem to have any problem talking to psychologists, his history was full of the reports of his monthly visits, so why was this different? Why had there not been an exam in five years. Five years. Jay had told him that he’d been ‘dealing with it’ for five years. Whatever happened was hurting him horribly and Prophet had half a mind to list him unfit for duty, but he wanted to hear Jay’s side of the story first. He wouldn’t read any more into it. That would be going too far, being too invasive. He’d have to try talking to him tonight.
Dash was in the gym, preferring keeping in shape to lounging around waiting for orders. At the moment she was going through sparring drills on dummies.
That was, until Meat walked up to her, “You need a sparring partner?” he asked, flashing a flirtatious grin.
Dash smirked at him and shrugged, “Sure, I could go for kickin’ your ass,” she laughed.
Meat laughed as well as they stepped over to the sparring mat, “Ain’t gonna be that easy, newbie.”
Dash gave a cocky smile and got into her stance, “Prove it.”
Meat frowned and went at her. He hit the mat only five seconds later with a very shocked expression. They went several more rounds, each ending the same way, but lasting longer each time. After about five matches they called it quits and went for the water bottles.
Meanwhile, in the infirmary, Doc was going over Jay’s injury with him, inspecting the stitches and the wound itself.
“Oh yeah, these can come out now,” Doc said to himself, giving the stitches a look over, “Lie down,” he ordered, setting aside scissors and tweezers.
Jay obeyed without a word and lay back on the table. He took to staring at the ceiling as Doc removed all four stitches. It did not take long and Jay was able to sit up again shortly.
“So, when do you think I’ll be able to get back to work?” Jay asked curiously.
“Just take it easy for today and tomorrow and you should be fine,” Doc answered simply.
Jay nodded and pulled his shirt back on, “Anything else I need to do before I go?”
Doc shook his head in reply and Jay stood and walked out of the room, grabbing his bag from where he’d left it on his new desk before leaving.
Jay thought about simply going back to the barracks and hanging out in the rec room with everyone else, but decided against it and headed towards the gym. Prophet hadn’t been mistaken when he’d said that Jay had been having a nightmare. They were common, but that didn’t mean they didn’t bother him. He needed to take his mind off of it and he planned on doing that by testing his limits.
Dash saw the other newbie, Jay, come into the gym and drop his kit by a punching bag on the other side of the room. She considered going to talk to him, but she was busy talking to Meat instead and decided to just leave him be. He looked like he rather be alone anyway.
She tried to focus on what Meat was saying, something about how he got stuck with the nickname ‘Meat’, but she couldn’t help looking over his shoulder at the medic now pushing himself to do pushups one-handed. Meat looked behind him to see what had caught Dash’s attention.
He gave a sort of half-chuckle, “Shepherd doesn’t mess around with the recruiting, huh?”
“So, this ‘one-four-one’ is the best of the best?” Dash asked curiously.
“Of the best,” Meat added on with a nod, “We’re the top tier fighters from all over the world.”
“That explains the accents,” Dash commented with a chuckle, “Where’re you from?”
“France,” Meat answered proudly, “What about you?”
“Texas,” Dash answered with a grin.
Jay was pushing himself hard, harder than he should have, he knew, but that didn’t stop him. Jay was never one to stay down when he was losing. He didn’t pause until he saw Prophet enter the gym, appearing to be looking for someone, until his eyes locked on him. He frowned harshly, and went back to his exercises.
Prophet walked straight up to Jay, completely disregarding the look he’d been given. Something had happened to give this man a sour attitude towards shrinks, it was all over the reports, Jay had never had a problem talking to them before, and now, for five years no psychologist has been able to get him to talk. Prophet was determined to be the one to change that.
He watched Jay for a moment, the man seemed to be trying to ignore him; his eyes caught on a large and strange scar on Jay’s back and he became curious, “What happened?”
Jay paused again to look at him. Prophet was looking at his back, probably at the scars there. There were two that were visible, in the shape of an ‘L’. The long side went from his shoulder blade down to his mid-lower back. The short side went across there. They’d been carved into his back with a knife.
Jay saw no harm in telling about it, he wasn’t bothered by it anymore, “I was stuck in a Russian prison for a couple weeks,” he answered, “I was bound to come out of it with some scars.”
Prophet nodded to himself, he’d read the reports of the counseling he’d had after recovering physically. He remembered there being more than a few mentions of someone sticking by his side and helping him cope with the nightmares, even going, at Jay’s request, to the sessions with him. That didn’t seem to be the case anymore, however, and Prophet wondered if it had any connection to his current state. Of course, that had been more than seven years ago, there was a good chance the two had simply gone their separate ways.
Jay frowned deeply on seeing Prophet’s brow furrow in thought, “Stay out of my business,” he snapped, standing up from his work out.
Prophet sighed a little, ‘Right… shoulda seen that coming…’, “Where are you from, Jay?” he asked, it was a harmless question really, he was curious.
Jay gave a chuckle, “Technically, nowhere,” he answered, “Grew up with both parents in the military, I moved every couple months, so I’m not really from anywhere,” he explained before Prophet could ask.
“What’s with the accent then?” Prophet questioned, “American? British? I can’t fuckin’ tell!” he laughed.
“Both,” Jay answered, “My mum was a nurse with the SAS and my dad was a US Marine infantryman.”
“Must’ve been hard growing up like that,” Prophet commented, “Moving around all the time, probably missing one parent most, if not all, the time.”
Jay shrugged, “It’s all I know. I was fine with it, I had friends all over the world that my parents helped me keep in touch with. Got to see the world before I could want that to be any sort of reason for enlisting.”
“Why did you enlist then?”
“Because I wanted to help people,” Jay answered, taking on a more somber tone, “’Just like Mum and Dad’ I’d always said as a kid, it’s all I’d ever wanted to do.”
There it was. It was the way he’d said he’d wanted to help people. Prophet was willing to bet Jay had lost someone. He knew that hit medics extremely hard, he’d seen it happen, seen the usually cool and collected fall apart and blame themselves for something they couldn’t have stopped. But surely, he’d lost people before. He thought hard back to what he’d read of Jay’s file. He’d only ever lost one person on the job, but he couldn’t recall anything about it, that hadn’t been his business. Prophet was getting close to what he wanted to know, he could tell, but he wouldn’t try to press further for now, lest Jay figure it out and push him away again. Though he couldn’t help but notice how unusually open Jay had been in some of his answers. Perhaps there was some small part of him that wanted help, but didn’t know how to get it.
“That’s enough about me. What made you want to be a shrink?” Jay asked after a moment.
Prophet smiled, “Same as you, just wanted to help people. Might not have known as early on as you apparently did, but it worked out I suppose.”
Dash couldn’t help but watch the conversation between Jay and that other man she hadn’t been introduced to yet. It was a strange one and she could see several different emotions and thoughts running through both of them.
Meat noticed her wandering eyes and followed her gaze, “That’s Prophet,” he explained, “Team shrink. He’s a good guy. Lord knows this Task Force needs him,” he laughed.
Dash chuckled with him, but didn’t say anything as Jay went back to his workout.
The rest of the workout didn’t last long. When Jay reached up to grab hold of the pull-up bar his face twisted into a harsh grimace and he bent over in pain, gripping the right side of his chest. Prophet was down by his side in an instant, about to lay him back on his back, until he was pushed away, physically this time.
“I’m fine,” Jay ground the words out, sitting back and coughing a little, trying to catch his breath; he straightened up a little to show the scarring wound on his chest, “Just hurts…”
“Maybe I should call Doc…” Prophet suggested, already standing up.
Jay grabbed his arm to stop him, “I’m fine,” Jay stood up slowly, checked his watch, and sighed, “Pain meds wore off half an hour ago. It just hurts, no big deal.”
“How long ago did that happen? It looks healed… Shouldn’t it not be hurting like that?” Prophet questioned, he was an expert on mental health, not physical health.
Jay rolled his eyes, “A couple weeks ago. It is, mostly. And yeah, it should be, I got shot in the fucking lung by a sniper,” he answered bluntly, “I’d be worried if it didn’t hurt.”
Prophet’s eyes widened, “A sniper shot you… in the lung… A sniper. Don’t they usually finish the job? How the hell are you alive?!”
“Because the General was standing right next to me…” Jay answered, “Him and my old team…”
Prophet’s jaw dropped, “General Shepherd?” he asked.
Jay simply nodded, “That’s how I got here… that’s how he explained it to me anyway, my ‘intuition and reflexes’ were ‘among the best he’s seen’ or something…” Jay shrugged a little, “any medic coulda done it honestly, it’s just a medic’s instinct I suppose…”
“Wait, wait, wait, back it up. What did you do?!”
Jay looked at the floor, “I ah… pushed him out of the way and caught the bullet in the chest…” he answered awkwardly.
If Jay was being honest with himself, it had been an impressive feat, and even more so impressive that he’d survived. He very nearly didn’t.
“So, Dash, you know why Shepherd recruited you?” Meat asked, tearing his eyes away from the other pair.
Dash nodded and flexed, “My combat skills,” she answered with a grin, “All I need’s me, my fists, and my SPAS.”
Meat laughed, “Impressive.”
Dash dropped her arms and laughed as well.
Hey guys. Sorry about the wait on Stoic, I’m having technical difficulties with the document and also just got back from a vacation and writer’s block is also a bit of an issue, but I promise I’ll try to get it out soon. In the meantime I’ll up the preview offer from last chapter to the first 1,000 words if you can tell me one reason I named this story Another End? As a sort of ‘sorry I suck at being on time’ kind of thing? Also this is kind of turning into more Jay’s story than Dash’s, but Jay is so much easier to write so it might just stay that way…
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 3: Telling
Whew, okay, finished a Stoic chapter, time to work on this one. Probably not gonna do any more preview giveaways for the time being. Also, we’ve decided that this is gonna focus more on Jay than Dash, simply because Jay is easier to write and for some reason we’re both terrible at writing female characters xD Anyway. Thanks to TheShadeOps and Coffee Monsta for your reviews. Sorry this is so late guys, I got caught up with finishing Stoic then half way into writing this my computer broke and it was a month before I could get a new one.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
~Spitfire (and Kat!) out
“Yes, sir,” Prophet responded simply to his phone, drawing eyes, “Understood. Yes. Yes, sir, I’ll get it done.”
He hung up and slid his phone back in his pocket before slumping back on the couch. It seemed Shepherd had only just found out about Jay’s missing exam and he’d been very adamant that the exam happen before the week was out. It was Wednesday. Prophet was good at what he did, but he wasn’t sure he was that good. Getting Jay to talk was going to be quite a trial.
“What was that all about?” Meat asked curiously.
“Work,” That was all Prophet had to say about it, it was all he could say about it.
The recruits had been there for two days now. MacTavish and Ghost had them out in the training field with Roach, Archer, Toad, and a couple of others. They were testing the newbies’ abilities.
First up was CQC. Dash excelled and was an even match for Ghost. Jay, on the other hand, was nowhere near being a skilled fighter.
Roach threw him to the ground for the third time, “Stay down greenie, if ya know what’s good for ya.”
Jay pushed himself up and jumped to his feet again and charged at Roach, again.
He was thrown down again and got up, again.
Roach sighed and rolled his eyes, “C’mon, kid, I’m gettin’ tired, you lost a long time ago.”
“That’s what I was counting on,” Jay answered with the ghost of a smirk.
Jay attacked smart this time, staying his distance and ducking under the slow and tired punches. He launched a powerful punch to Roach’s unguarded mid-section and sent the sergeant down to the ground. Jay was quick to pin him for the win.
He got up and offered a hand up to Roach, who took it gratefully, “You got a problem with losing or something?” Roach asked with a laugh.
Jay shrugged, “My dad was a Marine, going down and staying down wasn’t an option growing up.”
It wasn’t until they were running through a simulated firefight that anyone understood why Shepherd had recruited him.
The only warning he gave was a quickly shouted, “Move!” before he’d shoved Roach out of the way and only just avoided getting hit himself.
That was the first time ever that Archer had not hit his target.
When it was over, Archer confronted him, grabbing his collar threateningly, “ How. Did. You. Do that?”
Jay looked at him with wide and shocked eyes, “Do… what, sir?”
Archer released him, “How did you know when and where I was going to shoot?”
“Oh, um… I didn’t,” Jay answered with a shrug.
Archer’s brow furrowed in confusion and the others started listening, “Then why did you…”
Jay shrugged again, “I had a feeling. I learned a long time ago not to second guess my gut.”
“You… had a feeling…”
Jay nodded, “That something was going to happen and we needed to get out of the way.”
“Calm down, Arch,” Toad commented with a hand on his shoulder, “It’s not like he was the enemy on an op. It’s no big deal.”
“That’s not what’s bothering me here, Toad,” Archer replied turning to his spotter, “What’s bothering me is what if it had been. If he can do that, what if…”
“Arch, we’re all here because we’re the best at what we do. There’s no one out there that can do what we do. Whatever the hell that was,” Toad gestured to Jay to reference his feat, “is obviously why Shepherd brought him in. So calm down, you’ve missed before, but never when it matters, and I’m confident you won’t.”
Archer sighed and nodded, giving Jay one last look before walking away. Jay let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
“He’s a lot more intimidating than he seems, huh?” Prophet commented, walking up.
Jay looked over to him and rolled his eyes, walking off towards the range where he was to continue the skill assessment MacTavish had been running.
Prophet frowned. Jay was giving him the cold shoulder again. He’d woken him up the first night when he realized that he was having a nightmare. Jay had insisted he was fine and pretended he’d gone back to sleep. He’d simply laid there for the rest of the night. The second night Jay had been having another nightmare, but this time Prophet let it run its course. Jay had woken up from it with a gasp then left the room quietly after grabbing some clothes and his shoes. Prophet hadn’t seen him again until that morning in the mess hall. It was clear these nightmares were more common than the medic wanted anyone to know.
Prophet followed the small group to the range, he had to talk to Jay and he’d find his chance at some point.
Jay was a decent shot, better than Dash was. She claimed she was better with a shotgun and at close range. Archer retorted that anyone would be. That had made her angry and made her shooting worse. They shot for a while longer. Archer gave Dash pointers, against MacTavish’s wishes, he’d simply wanted to see where the newbies were at today, not improve them yet. They’d worry about that tomorrow. He let it go because he knew how much it irked Archer when people shot that badly on his range. It was amusing, actually, so MacTavish simply passed it off with a chuckle.
Prophet watched them for a while. Jay seemed to be doing alright, nothing really seemed to be bothering him at the moment. Prophet took the moment to pull MacTavish aside and talk to him. If he was going to have to pull Jay aside at some point, he’d have to know beforehand.
MacTavish nodded his understanding after Prophet finished explaining, “We’ve got one more field to test, then he’s all yours.”
Prophet nodded in turn and MacTavish walked away to grab the recruits’ attention as they finished shooting.
“Alright. One more, then we’re done,” MacTavish announced to the pair, “I want to see you both run the pit, then we’re done for the day.”
The newbies nodded and followed MacTavish as he led them to the pit.
Dash was first up on the pit. She got close to the record time, but didn’t quite catch it. MacTavish nodded his approval and motioned for Jay to step up.
“You’re up, Miller. Whenever you’re ready.”
Jay took a breath at the gate before running forward. He finished fairly quickly, scoring an average time for the Task Force.
MacTavish talked to them for a moment, explaining how their training would go and who they’d be paired up with for what.
“Alright, you’re dismissed.”
Dash started walking away towards the barracks and rec room, while Jay headed towards the infirmary after collecting his kit. Prophet had to admit it was odd that Jay carried it everywhere, but he wrote it off as a necessary caution. He suspected the caution had come in handy many times for the young medic, else he might not be carrying the kit with him.
Prophet caught Jay by the shoulder, “We need to talk.”
Jay glared at him and pulled way, “I’ve got work to do.”
MacTavish narrowed his eyes at the hostile display, Jay hadn’t seemed like the type, “Corporal,” he nearly had to shout to get the medic’s attention, “If Prophet says you need to talk, you need to talk.”
Jay’s shoulders dropped a little, “Yes, sir.”
He sighed and followed Prophet reluctantly. As they walked, Prophet noticed Jay slowing down, steps becoming more hesitant and he was very carefully trying to keep his breathing calm.
Prophet stopped and turned to look at him, he was staring at the floor, “You alright, Jay?” he asked cautiously.
Jay put one foot back, “I can’t do this,” he said, very quickly, running the words together into one, before turning quickly on one heel and walking back the other way.
That explained the hostility… Prophet sighed and continued on to his office, he’d find him later and talk to him on his own terms. Prophet sat in his office in silence for a long moment. He’d finished up all the paperwork he had to do the day before. He pulled Jay’s file from the drawer again, he was much too curious to not give it another look. He looked specifically at the medic’s casualty report. Rhys Allen, shot through the lung, died on the scene. They hadn’t even managed to recover the body. He knew that had to add to the sting for the young medic. He powered his computer up and searched for Rhys’ file. Oh. Oh. He needed to talk to Jay immediately.
He checked their room first to find it empty. Next was the gym. It’s only occupants were Dash, Meat, Roach, and Ghost. He walked around a bit longer before finding Jay lounging in the grass near a basketball court, where the yells from the group occupying it weren’t too loud, but still audible. His eyes were closed and he was very clearly focusing on the voices.
“Why not join them?” Prophet asked curiously.
Jay opened his eyes and looked at him a moment, “I play baseball, not basketball,” he shrugged and sat up.
Prophet chuckled, “None of them play either,” he commented, sitting down next to Jay.
Jay looked at them and shrugged, “Coulda fooled me.”
Prophet sighed, “That’s… not why I came looking for you…”
Jay gave him a hard look, “I’m not talking about it.”
Prophet shook his head, “I’m not asking you to. I just… I want to know, are you afraid of me?”
Jay looked at him curiously, “No…”
“Are you afraid of what I do?” Prophet asked after a moment.
“…No… It’s got nothing to do with you…”
“Then… what are you afraid of?” Prophet asked curiously.
Jay looked at him for a long moment then back at the people playing basketball, “Being alone, mostly,” he shrugged.
He knew that wasn’t what Prophet was asking him, but that wasn’t really a question he wanted to answer.
“You’re avoiding the question,” Prophet stated simply, “Please, Jay, just talk to me, I want to help.”
Prophet sighed and was quiet for a long moment, he couldn’t really force Jay to talk to him, but maybe he could convince him, “I know what happened to Rhys, Jay…”
Jay tensed up. He moved before Prophet realized what was going on.
He took him by the collar and bringing them both to their feet, “ You don’t know shit about what happened.”
The reports were there, sure, but they held basic information, the kind that said where he was shot, by what caliber bullet, when, and that he was dead, but there was no way Prophet could really know what had actually happened.
“Then please, Jay-” Prophet placed a light hand on the one clutching his shirt- “tell me.”
Jay glared at him a moment longer before releasing him, “ No. ”
“I’m not gonna try to convince you that it wasn’t your fault, I know it’s too late to chance your mind about that,” Prophet caught him by the arm before he could leave.
“Just leave it, Prophet,” Jay snapped, pulling his arm away from him.
“I’m not gonna leave it either, Jay, you’re hurting yourself trying to keep it to yourself like this, and you’re going to end up hurting everyone around you if you keep it up.”
“ Prophet ,” Jay cut him off before he could continue, “I’m not talking about it, not to you, not to anyone, so just stop .”
“We can talk off the record, if that’s what you’re so worried about. I’ll even write a fake report for your file to get rid of the missing exam note, so the psychologists stay off your ass and Shepherd gets off mine,” he made no mention of the trouble he could get in for going through with it.
He didn’t have to mention it. Jay knew .
Jay simply looked at him for a long moment.
He sat down again and settled for staring at the ground, “I can’t.”
Prophet sat down next to him and put a hand on his shoulder, “Why not? What are you so afraid of?”
Jay didn’t want to answer, he wanted to lie, but he was a horrible liar and it would just raise more questions, “Forgetting…”
“Forgetting what?” Prophet asked curiously.
“Rhys…” Jay answered after a long moment.
Prophet gave him a soft, sympathetic smile, “Good. Because I don’t want you to forget him.”
Jay looked at him then shook his head and look away, “Prophet, how long does it usually take to forget someone’s voice?”
Prophet hesitated to answer, simply because he hadn’t been expecting the question, “Two months… Why?”
“I still remember it… five years later and it’s in my head, clear as day,” Jay answered, picking at the hem of his pants.
“You have a recording then?”
Jay shook his head, “I hear it every night. It’s a horrible, twisted version of it, but it’s still his voice.”
Then Prophet realized how much Rhys had to have meant to Jay for his death to leave this big a mark on Jay’s life, “How about you tell me about the nightmares you’ve been having?” he stood up and offered Jay a hand, “Somewhere more private maybe?”
Jay simply looked at him for a long moment, his mind racing a mile a minute. He knew he should, but he was afraid, he wasn’t sure what of, just that he was afraid. Prophet had told him that he didn’t want him to forget. He sighed and took Prophet’s hand in a brief moment of courage. Prophet smiled at him and helped him to his feet.
Jay stood still and silent for a moment, then swallowed thickly and followed Prophet. He could feel his heart racing, palms sweating, hands shaking, and realized he was chewing his lip, but they ended up in their room, rather than Prophet’s office. Jay supposed he was thankful for that, and sat down at his desk.
Prophet sat down on his bunk and looked at Jay, prompting him to speak.
Again Jay sighed and looked down at his hands, “Where do I start?”
“Where ever you want,” Prophet answered softly.
Jay nodded, “Well… It’s… kind of hard to explain?” He scratched the back of his neck then turned to his desk and pulled his old, worn, leather bound sketchbook out of the top drawer, “It’s… this thing …” he flipped it open, standing and moving to sit next to Prophet, he stopped on a page where he’d sketched the monster that basically controlled him now.
It was ghastly to say the least. It looked like a big blob of molten flesh and had three disfigured faces. Jay went on to explain that one of the male faces belonged to his father, the other to Rhys, and the female face was his mother’s. All of them were dead and his only loved ones. Grandparents had passed when he was too young to really remember and no aunts, uncles, or cousins to speak of.
Prophet nodded his understanding, “Do you blame yourself for your parents’ deaths?” he asked curiously.
Jay shook his head, “They died when Makarov had a bomb dropped on the base they were both at in Afghanistan. I was in basic at the time, they told me what happened after graduation. There was no way I could’ve known, nothing I could’ve done if I had known.”
Prophet nodded, biting his lip in contemplation of his next question, he had it in mind already, but he wasn’t sure if it was a particularly good idea, “Tell me how he died?” he asked it anyway, “Rhys, I mean.”
Jay swallowed and looked down at his hands, wringing them tightly, he took a long moment to get his thoughts together then finally opened his mouth to speak, “We were in an unpopulated area, a forest, just outside of Moscow…” he started.
Woo. You wanna know how Rhys died? Gonna have to wait! xD I’m evil like that. Again, so sorry this took so damn long. It would’ve been out way sooner if my computer hadn’t broken I swear. Well, that’s all for now. Please review? Pretty please?
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 4: Matters of the Mind
Sorry about that cliffy guys, I couldn’t help myself. So here we are, with chapter four, and a very angsty story. Fair warning that this story will start dealing with depression and the like so tread carefully. Thanks to Coffee Monsta, TheShadeOps, and Justagenericusername for your reviews.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
“We had to hold out, we had no choice, had to wait for our ride… There were so many of them, it’s impossible to know where it came from…” Jay sighed, “Rhys and I were right next to each other, there was a fallen log between the trees we were taking cover behind. Rhys was trying to get a shot off, but he couldn’t so much as peek around the tree without getting shot at, so I stepped out of cover, drew fire to give Rhys and the team a chance to thin them out…”
Prophet noted that Jay’s eyes had started watering, he wanted to tell Jay to stop, start somewhere else, somewhere less scaring, somewhere happier, but he’d been explicitly told not to interrupt, so he said nothing and let Jay continue.
“ Everything and everyone was telling me to get back into cover… Rhys, Jack, my gut, my head, everything … I don’t know why I didn’t… I just stood there and kept shooting…” Jay bit his lip, “I don’t know if everything stopped or I just tuned it all out, but when Rhys pushed me down… everything got quiet… I heard him hit the ground, I could hear how much pain he was in …” His hands were shaking terribly now, “He took the bullet for me, right through his right lung…” Jay could hear the pain in his own voice, “I looked at him and I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think ,” he shook his head, “It wasn’t a panic attack, I’ve had them before, that wasn’t it, it was so much worse… I knew I could save him, if I just moved, if I just did something, I could’ve saved him…” the tears were falling now, quick and heavy, “But I didn’t…”
Prophet swallowed thickly, but he could tell there was more Jay wanted to say about it, he didn’t want to urge him to share any more of such a painful memory, but he had to, “And?”
“And I watched him die as Jack dragged me away, kicking and screaming… I fought tooth and nail to stay with him… I wanted to die with him, had hoped they’d put a bullet through me too… but the chopper was there, and the gunner opened fire, pushed ‘em back… I was ‘safe’… they didn’t even let me go back for his body…” His voice broke into a choked sob.
Prophet wrapped an arm around him as his shoulders shook violently. This was a whole new level of guilt and depression as far as Prophet was concerned. Everyone had lost people, all in different ways, some more painfully than others, but Jay’s story… it was one of the most painful Prophet could even think of.
Jay got his crying under control and started talking again, “We got back and I went back to mine and Rhys’ room… we both left our letters, just in case, but we never thought it would actually happen… When I went in, I found Rhys’ letter with a box…” he pulled the worn letter and small, black, velvet box out of his pocket and handled them as if he were afraid they’d turn to dust in his hands as he passed the letter to Prophet but kept tight hold of the box, “He was going to ask me to marry him when we got back…”
Prophet read through the letter, but was caught off guard by Jay’s confession even though he’d finished reading. He hadn’t thought the story could get more painful.
Prophet swallowed and shook his head, “Y-you don’t need to say any more, Jay…”
Jay nodded and bit his lip, clearly trying not to cry. He failed and Prophet pulled him against him and rubbed comforting circles on his back.
Jay’s shaking stilled and his erratic breathing and crying eased and softened over the course of an hour or two. Prophet sighed when he’d finally fallen asleep, and eased Jay back onto his bunk. It would take too much effort to get Jay onto his own bunk, he’d end up waking him, and he needed the sleep.
Prophet left the room quietly to go to the mess for a glass of water to set aside for when Jay woke up. He couldn’t help but think about how honest and open Jay had been with his story, especially considering how much it upset him. He sighed as he filled a glass with water, he couldn’t think of a good reason for someone like Jay to be so open with something like that. He’d figured Jay would have some level of trust issues, given what happened to him on his first deployment, but it didn’t seem he did.
“Hey, Prophet, where’ve you been all day?” Chemo questioned as they passed each other in the hall.
“Working,” Prophet answered simply and kept walking, as far as he was concerned, he was still working.
When he entered the room again, Jay was still asleep and hadn’t moved. Prophet left the glass on the nightstand and left again, he had work to do after all.
“Maya?” Redheart waved her hand in front of the other woman’s face, “Maya?!”
Dash jumped and looked at her, “What?”
Redheart raised an eyebrow, “I’ve called your name like five times now. Everything okay?”
“Oh, yeah, sorry,” Dash chuckled sheepishly, “I must’ve spaced out. What is it?”
“I was asking how training went today?” Redheart asked, leaning back on her bunk.
Dash shrugged, “It was good, I kicked ass, as usual. That Archer guy was kinda a dick though…”
Redheart chuckled, “Lemme guess, you shot like crap on his range?”
“ His range?” Dash questioned, “Oh right… he’s a Lieutenant… and a sniper… Yeah, I wasn’t doing so good with the rifle they gave me. I’m better with a shotgun up close and personal.”
“Uh-huh,” Redheart responded with a grin and shook her head, “Subject change: What had you so distracted?”
“Huh? Oh, nothing, I’m ADD, it happens,” Dash shrugged.
“ Uh-huh,” she responded skeptically, “You sure you weren’t thinking about Owen? I’ve seen you two talking a lot.”
“Owen?” Dash wracked her brain, “That’s… Meat, right? Yeah, no, he just wants pointers after I kicked his ass in a sparring drill.”
Redheart rolled her eyes with a humored smile and went back to her book.
When Prophet returned to his room to check on Jay he was only slightly surprised to find Jay thrashing and whimpering in fear in his sleep. It was how he’d woken up every night since he’d gotten there, and Prophet believed it was how he woke up nearly every night since Rhys died. He pinned Jay down carefully to keep him from hurting himself and waited for him to wake up on his own.
Jay jumped awake after only a moment and Prophet caught his arms carefully, “Hey, hey, easy, it was just another nightmare,” he spoke softly.
Jay looked at him for a moment before dropping his head on Prophet’s shoulder, taking heavy breaths. Prophet simply rubbed soothing circles on Jay’s back as he caught his breath.
When Jay calmed himself down he moved away and Prophet let him go, “Why don’t we head down to Mess and get something to eat?” he suggested, checking his watch, “It’s around dinner time now.”
“Yeah, sure…” Jay answered quietly, his voice barely above a whisper as he avoided looking Prophet in the eye.
By the time they arrived in the mess hall, everyone was already there. Prophet was glad they seemed to go unnoticed as they entered, got their food, and sat down. Jay chose to sat a ways away from everyone else, but Prophet followed and sat across from him. Jay looked at him curiously, but said nothing as they ate.
The runner entering quickly to speak with MacTavish and Ghost did not escape Prophet’s attention. He could see the tension in the Captain as the runner delivered his message. Prophet got the feeling that they were going to be deployed awfully soon.
He was proven right when the Captain stood and clapped his hands together loudly, bringing a sudden silence as everyone looked to him, “Briefing room in ten minutes! That means everybody, rookies too!”
Prophet looked at Jay and he could hear murmurs of encouragement and good natured teasing aimed at their other recruit. Jay was already standing up to get ready to head to the briefing. As ready as the young medic looked, Prophet could see the tension in his face.
“We’re the only ones that know it was Makarov's op. Our credibility died with Allen.”
[Match Found - Place of Origin: Brazil]
“Follow the shell.”
The map tracked two positions in Rio de Janeiro.
“Never heard of him sir.”
“You know him as Alex the Red. He supplied the assault.”
“One bullet to unleash the fury of a whole nation. Which means…”
“He’s our ticket to Makarov.”
So sorry this took so long. Dash is a problem child. I ended up with a month’s worth of Writer’s Block just trying to write that itty bitty conversation with her. I might have to write her out of this, she causes too many problems… Well, here you go, a feels trip among other things. Enjoy. Let me know what you think please.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 5: Rio
Well. Here we go. The newbies’ first mission. Umm… Yeah, that’s all I got… Thanks to Coffee Monsta and Justagenericusername for your reviews.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
“No sign of him…”
“The plates are a match, it’s him…”
“Whoever these guys are, they’re not happy to see him!”
Shots fired. Driver was hit. Jay knew instantly, but he checked anyway. He had been dead before his head hit the steering wheel. Jay felt a pang for him, but that was all he could afford himself. The Captain and Roach were already mobile, chasing after the target.
“Get switched on rookie, it's time to move!” Meat shouted, running past the vehicle as Jay scrambled out of it.
Jay shook himself and forced his wandering mind back on the task. He was hot on Meat’s heels when he heard over the comm that they had him.
Then they were running through the favela, Dash with Meat and Jay with Roach and Royce. It was like they had kicked a hornet's nest, the Brazilian militia was everywhere. On the rooftops, in the allies, hiding behind doors and underneath windows.
Everything started going to shit when Dash went down and Meat reported her KIA.
Royce was being backed into a corner by the men on the rooftops, Roach was struggling to get a shot on them and keep himself from getting shot in the back. Jay came out of seemingly nowhere and knelt down in front of Royce, catching two bullets in his Kevlar that would have struck fatal blows had they hit the other man. As it was neither bullet pierced through Jay’s reinforced Kevlar. He’d had extra layers put in a long time ago, figuring with his tendency to catch bullets it would be more than beneficial. He was right. Still, the force of them knocked all of the air from Jay’s lungs and made him stumble, but it had been enough for Roach to deal with the militiamen behind him and turn to suppress the ones shooting at Jay and Royce.
Jay coughed as he caught his breath, “Oh that’s gonna leave a mark…” he grumbled, sinking down against the wall as he brought up his rifle to help clear out the last of the militia in their area.
“Thanks for the save, Jay,” Royce turned to him and offered him a hand up, “You good?”
“Just peachy,” Jay answered, taking the hand offered to him.
“We’ve got Rojas’ location!” MacTavish shouted over comms and gave the team their new orders.
“Alright, let’s get a move on!” Meat started off in the direction.
The four men pushed hard through the favela, with several close-calls along the way. It was hours of a hard, grueling pace as they raced through the favela, ducking and dodging bullets, snipers, and RPGs. Within time, though, they caught Rojas and Ghost called for their evac. Only command wouldn’t send one. MacTavish called a friend of his, neglecting to explain who this friend was, and had Ghost interrogate Rojas where they were. They were on their way again in a matter of only minutes.
If Jay was completely honest with himself, the thought of how Ghost had gotten Rojas to talk so quickly made him even more than afraid of the masked lieutenant. Now was not the time to think about that though. Now was the time to get to the LZ, fighting through hoards of the militia. They made it, the pave low was in sight, Jay was exhausted and ready to be on board it. But then there were the RPGs. They all fired at the pave low, but the apparently more than skilled pilot easily evaded every one of them. There was a secondary LZ. They had to keep running.
Up, over a wall, onto the roof tops, and onward. They sprinted across the tin, wood, and concrete platforms. Jay was too focused on getting one foot in front of the other to pay attention to the banter between MacTavish and his apparently Russian friend, Nikolai. That was, until they had to jump. One by one, Jay listened to the thuds of his new team landing on the other side, counting, making sure everyone made it across. But one, the last one, sounded… different. He turned in time to see MacTavish lunging, trying to catch their falling teammate.
Jay rushed to the edge, looking over and seeing the sergeant out cold on the ground, about ten feet below. Jay prepared himself to jump down and tend to him.
MacTavish grabbed Jay’s shoulder to stop him, “No time, rookie, we gotta get to the exfil, now! ”
Jay glared at him, standing up sharply, “ I do not leave people behind ,” he turned back to the ledge and started lowering himself down.
“Corporal, get back on your feet and keep running, do not make me make that an order!” MacTavish commanded, “Roach’ll be fine, he’s a hard bastard.”
Jay glared at him again, “Don’t know how you operate, Captain, but if it’s by leaving men behind then you might as well transfer me out. I don’t leave people behind ,” and with that, Jay disappeared over the edge, landing hard on the ground and kneeling down next to Roach, turning him over and checking him for wounds.
Finding nothing noteworthy, Jay shook the sergeant’s shoulder gently, “C’mon, Roach, wake up,” he urged and looked up as he heard voices, he felt his heart leap into his throat at the sight of the silhouette of the militia coming for them, “Wake up, c’mon, we gotta move!”
Roach started waking up, looking blearily up at Jay then at the corner where the first of the militia were starting to appear and got up quicker than Jay would’ve recommended and started running. Jay ran after him, ducking as the militia shot at them. He felt several bullets pelt into his Kevlar, but thankfully none penetrated. They ran and ran, and kept running. Jay winced at the sight of Roach breaking through a window at the bottom of a slope and knew he’d be needing stitches for some of those gashes. It was only a bit further. Jay could see the chopper, and, more importantly, the ladder hanging out of it’s door. Roach jumped first, caught the ladder and held fast. Then Jay. He grabbed onto the rungs and held tight as he could. He nearly melted with relief when the ladder started going up, the men on board the chopper pulling their teammates up and into the safety of the hull.
Safe inside the chopper and surrounded by people who wished him no harm, Jay finally slumped into one of the benches, exhausted after running for his life for a solid several hours.
“You alright Jay?” Chemo asked curiously.
Jay, with his head resting against the hull and eyes closed, held up one hand with his index finger and thumb together and the other three fingers raised in the ‘okay’ hand sign. There was a chuckle and the sound of Chemo walking away and someone else walking up. Jay opened his eyes and came face to face with his new Captain.
“Sir,” Jay greeted, looking at him evenly, knowing he was about to get an earful for jumping down to save Roach despite being told not to.
“You could’ve been killed,” MacTavish practically growled the words at him.
Jay frowned at him, “And Roach had better chances alone? Lying unconscious in the middle of the alley, hardly anywhere to run but straight with their line of fire? What would you have done if he hadn’t woken up? Where would he be now? Dead? A prisoner of the Brazilian Militia? Be glad you don’t have to know.”
A dead silence overtook the passenger bay at Jay’s response. The Captain was obviously furious, but had no argument. Jay was right and he knew it. He turned away and walked towards the cockpit to speak with his pilot friend.
There was a low whistle and Jay looked towards its source, a young looking man with a pilot’s helmet pinned under his arm, “Congratulations, rookie,” he had a slight Australian accent, Jay noted, “You just won a faceoff with Captain Mac-fucking-Tavish.”
Jay shrugged and leaned back again, focusing on catching his breath and not thinking about how sore his chest and back were. Someone sat down beside him and he huffed, looking up once more to see who was trying to ‘entertain his company’ now. It was the same young pilot.
“No one rides with me without me knowing who they are,” he gestured expectantly at Jay, “I know everyone here but you.”
“Corporal Jason Miller, call me Jay. I’m their medic,” Jay answered shortly.
The pilot stood up and nodded, “Flight Lieutenant Liam Nelson, but you can call me Gale,” ‘Gale’ grinned, sticking his hand out in greeting.
Jay looked at him in annoyance, but shook his hand anyway.
“Oh wow, real cool Mr. Tough Guy, all quiet and brooding,” Gale laughed, “Lighten up mate.”
“Gale!” there was a Russian accented shout from the cockpit and Gale slipped his helmet on.
“Duty calls,” he stepped off and hurried to the cockpit where MacTavish was now leaving to rejoin his team.
When they finally arrived back at their base, all Jay wanted to do was sleep. He dropped his gear in the armory and left, headed straight for his and Prophet’s room, not bothering to hit the showers with everybody else just yet.
“How was the op?” Prophet politely avoided reacting to the fact that Jay definitely needed a shower.
Prophet frowned and sat up, “You sure you don’t want to shower?” he asked hopefully as Jay kicked his boots off and started climbing up to his bunk.
“Sleep first, shower later, then food,” Jay answered, allowing himself to fall face first into his bunk.
Prophet didn’t miss the wince Jay gave as he moved up the ladder, “And when do you plan on letting Doc check you out?”
Jay grunted, “Don’t need him to. Bruised, battered, and sore, but otherwise fine, but if it makes ya feel better I’ll talk to him after I eat.”
Prophet sighed, “Well it’s better than nothing I suppose.”
Jay grunted again and this time Prophet let him drift off to sleep.
Oh geez, how long did this take me this time? Ohhh why can’t I stay on top of timely updates? Ugh… Well, sorry for the wait guys, here ya go. I know a lot of you are gonna be pissed for how I just glossed over the fact that Dash was dead and never mentioned it again, but I’ll be sure not to just let it go and never mention it again, I’m not that bad, I just have absolutely no patience for her right now. I’ll do something with it next time. Also Gale is another one of Kat’s oc’s, she has a lot of really good oc’s that are easier to write than mine. We’ll learn more about him next chapter too.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Alright. So it took me like a month to pick this back up. Sorry. Lost my muse for a while and I also had the flu for a week. Yeah, that uh, that sucked. All I can say is this: pray you never have to find out what a Hotty Toddy is, and if you already have… I’m sorry. And then I got sick again, and it went away and then came back and I just… It’s been a bad time for my health. Anyway, I’m back now, I’ll get back on To Dust in a bit, promise. Thanks to TheShadeOps and CoffeeMonsta (friendly reminder that you’re more than welcome to send me reviews by methods other than FFn if it’s easier for you that way) for your reviews.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Prophet leaned on the door frame to Jay’s office, “I heard about Dash…”
Jay looked up at him, “And?”
“How’re you holding up?”
Jay rolled his eyes, “I was nowhere near her. The way Meat tells it there would’ve been nothing I could’ve done even if I had been. I didn’t know her. Long story short, I regret hers and Driver’s loss, but I’m fine.”
Prophet nodded thoughtfully, “Fair enough I suppose. Can’t save ‘em all I guess. And what did Doc say about those bruises?”
Jay shrugged, “More or less the same thing I did. Just sore…”
“More or less?”
Jay gave him an exasperated look and didn’t answer, looking back down at his work. Prophet shrugged to himself and left him to his mounds of paper.
“Range is hot!” Archer called as he inspected the line to see that everyone was ready.
He’d been drilling the members that hadn’t been selected for the op in their shooting nearly non-stop. Toad was the only person that could even come close to matching his accuracy, but that was to be expected, as the team’s scout snipers they were held to a higher standard than the rest of the team. Save for MacTavish, who had been trained under an expert marksman himself.
He watched with an appraising eye as the group on the firing line took their shots and winced at the results. Archer would never catch himself shooting like that. He had to remind himself several times throughout the session that they were not snipers and couldn’t be expected to shoot dead center every time. He walked up and down the line, inspecting each shooter’s position carefully. He stopped at the eighth position and frowned.
“Rocket what are you doing?” he questioned.
The shooter in question looked at him curiously, “Sir?”
Archer sighed, “Get that elbow down, stand straighter, angle your hips toward the target. You won’t hit the broadside of a barn door shooting like that.”
Archer looked to Toad, farther down the firing line, as Rocket shifted. Toad gave him a sympathetic look between shots, seeming to tell him to ‘hang in there’ before turning back to his target. Archer sighed again, shaking his head as he continued down the line. He stopped at Toad to watch the younger man’s perfect form and technique. It was a welcome break from their less accurate teammates.
An hour later they finished and Archer sunk down on the couch in the rec room. He looked over as someone else sat down next to him.
“Gale? I thought you’d have left with Nikoli?” Archer questioned.
Gale shrugged, “Shepherd asked me to stay for a bit and my OPS-O obliged. I’m with you guys for about a month I think.”
Archer nodded thoughtfully, “Alright then, fair enough.”
He turned back to the tv where a football match was well underway. Archer wasn’t a fan of sports, believing none-too-quietly that shooting well required more physical and mental strength than any sport, but he could appreciate the entertainment value when players faked injuries to get the other team penalized.
Prophet wandered into his and Jay’s room, having nothing else that needed his attention that day. He planned to simply relax in privacy and consider what he’d learned through the week. He’d finished the report for Jay’s file. It had been a true report, mostly. He had neglected to mention Jay’s severe depression and recurring nightmares. If Prophet were honest with himself, under normal circumstances he’d insist Jay start taking anti-depressants, but these weren’t normal circumstances, and any medication Jay had to take the way he’d have to take anti-depressants would spell medical discharge for the young medic, and he worried more about what that would do to him than what the medication could do for him.
Jay seemed to rely on his job as a sort of anchor. He’d seen Jay at work in the infirmary, dealing with Roach and his tendency to get himself hurt. Jay was almost different while he was working. Prophet could see everything else being pushed to the back of Jay’s mind. For now it seemed Jay was only okay when he was taking care of people. That sort of reliance wasn’t good for him, Prophet knew, but it was all he had, and Prophet feared the alternative would be worse.
Prophet was changing into something more comfortable than jeans when something on Jay’s normally spotless desk caught his eye. He finished tugging on his sweatpants before taking a closer look. It was Jay’s sketchbook journal, he’d left it behind on his way to the infirmary. An instant curiosity tugged at the forefront of Prophet’s consciousness, and he knew he really shouldn’t pry. He flopped down on his bunk and opened his book, trying to push the sketchbook from his mind, but his gaze kept wandering over to it. He briefly considered putting it away in one of the drawers of the desk, but dismissed it, Jay might think he had been snooping and be angry, no, the sketchbook had to stay where it was.
Over the course of the next twenty minutes the temptation only grew, and grew, and grew, until Prophet could no longer ignore it and, despite himself, he wandered over to the desk, sat down, and opened the sketchbook. On the first page was a rose, beautifully drawn and simple with shading to define the curves and folds of the petals. Prophet flipped several pages in and stopped at a sketch of the monster he’d been shown before. It was gruesome and Prophet couldn’t blame Jay for being so afraid of it. He flipped several more pages until he found the most recent drawings, dated for only a day before.
On one page was a portrait of a smiling man, dark hair that was longer than regulation said it should be, stubble covering his jaw. Jay had used a colored pencil or something like it to shade the eyes blue. There was an unnatural light to the smile, it was contrary to what Prophet had seen in the earlier drawings. Jay was meticulous about the anatomy and lighting, everything was just so, so that if Prophet hadn’t known better he’d think it was a photo at first glance. But this was different. Jay had taken extra care around the man’s face and smile. The smile itself seemed to be giving off it’s own light. The man looked familiar, but Prophet couldn’t place it, and he usually had such a good mind for names and faces.
On the other page… That was unmistakably him . Prophet himself. Jay had sketched him, not smiling. The man in the drawing seemed to be thinking, calculating, but there was something in his eyes that was so… soft, for lack of a better word. No, he was smiling, just a small smile, but Prophet could see the care and concern in the eyes and it was echoed in the smile. He closed the book, it had almost been like looking in a mirror. Jay had a good mind for anatomy, which made sense, Prophet thought, but that wasn’t simply anatomy in his drawings. It was as if the drawings themselves had life. Jay was a skilled artist, but Prophet had no doubt the young man would deny that he was really that good, claiming that it was all in a steady hand and understanding of the body. Prophet would enjoy the chance to call bullshit on that.
He laid down on his bunk, one hand behind his head, the other resting comfortably on his chest. He fell asleep thinking over what he’d seen in the sketchbook, trying to remember where he’d seen the other man before. The mystery was solved in his dreamscape, where he saw Jay’s monster and the mystery man side by side. It was Rhys, had to be. Prophet could see the same, strikingly blue eyes in the face Jay had pointed out as Rhys’ in the monster.
Jay walked into the room an hour later as Prophet was waking up. Prophet sat up and stretched, sighing contently as his back popped.
“What time is it?” he asked curiously with a yawn.
Jay rolled his eyes and checked his watch, “16:37, almost time to eat.”
He sat down at his desk, still dressed in his scrubs, and sighed. He’d been on his feet all day. It was something he was used to, but it was still nice to take a rest.
“Still sore?” Prophet asked curiously.
Jay gave him a pointed look, “ Yes, ” he let out a breath, leaning back in his seat, “I’ll probably be feeling it for a couple more days.”
He let out a breath and turned to face his desk, picking up the pencil placed neatly beside the sketchbook. Prophet watched for a moment, hoping that there was no evidence of his snooping. He really shouldn’t have, he knew. He saw Jay stop at the last pages he’d been looking at, then flip to a blank page and start sketching. Prophet watched him from his bunk for a while, not wanting to pry more than he already had.
“What'cha drawing?” He asked curiously after a while.
“Caduceus,” Jay answered flatly as he stopped drawing and leaned back to inspect his progress.
“Cad- what now?”
“Caduceus,” Jay repeated, and held up the sketchbook, showing him the winged staff that spanned both pages, it wasn’t finished yet, and was only a sketch, but Jay had only just begun working on the serpents that would wrap around it.
Prophet nodded, “Huh, so that’s what it’s called… You know, you’re a pretty good artist.”
Jay shrugged and set the book down to continue working on it, “I’m not that good really. Better at portraits than anything I suppose.”
Prophet had to agree there. Where the staff Jay was currently drawing looked nice, the portraits Jay had drawn were amazingly detailed and polished.
Prophet stood from his bunk, “Well, I’m gonna go get some food, you coming?”
“No,” Jay answered, not turning to face him.
Prophet frowned. Jay had been pulling away again, giving him the cold shoulder again. He was acting as if they had never talked, like Prophet still didn’t know what was hurting him. Prophet bit his lip, but left Jay to his sketching.
Jay relaxed a little when Prophet left, feeling better without those observant eyes watching him and everything he did. He shook his head to himself, it wasn’t Prophet’s business why he had the nightmares he had. Especially since he dealt with them just fine. Although he felt a fear creeping up on him once he was alone again. He had to remind himself for a moment that he was afraid of being isolated. Jay sighed and closed his sketchbook, he’d work on his caduceus more over something to eat and a cup of coffee. Yeah. That sounded good. Jay stood and made his way to the Mess.
He got his food and coffee and sat down at a fairly empty table and started drawing again, careful not to get anything on his sketchbook. He felt curious eyes on him and looked up to see others looking at him only to look away and pretend they were making conversation when he looked at them. He rolled his eyes. There were always bound to be rumors wherever he went. Jay couldn’t help but wonder what rumor was being spread this time. He’d heard plenty in his time.
He finished eating and sat for a while longer while he drew and the dinner crowd lingered, carrying on in their conversations. Eventually he considered the caduceus finished enough and picked up his things with a yawn. He’d head to his room to leave his sketchbook and collect a fresh set of clothes before heading to the showers.
Jay was towel drying his hair when he walked back into his room. He pulled the towel away from his face as he walked in and came face to face with Prophet. He jumped a little, he had been planning on avoiding Prophet as much as possible. Jay avoided looking directly at him as he moved away and started getting ready to turn in.
“You okay Jay?” Prophet asked curiously.
“Yeah, why?” Jay answered shortly.
“Your eyes…” Prophet trailed off, he’d never actually seen those dark circles and bags under Jay’s eyes, he looked exhausted.
Just hours earlier he’d looked perfectly fine… Was he using makeup to hide how tired he really was? Prophet wondered. He’d seen people do it before. Prophet chewed his lip but let it go as Jay refused an answer, keeping his back to him.
Yes, there is an unlabeled time-skip in this chapter. Between Archer watching football in the rec and Prophet doing his snooping one week passes. Also I’ll be referring to soccer as football because most of the characters are from places where that’s the right word for it. So, yeah, that’s all I got… Sorry again it took me so long to get on this, To Dust is next.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 7: History Lesson
Heyo, I know I promised I’d work on To Dust next, but this is a very important chapter that I’ve really been anticipating and I just couldn’t wait, I’ll try to get on To Dust as soon as I can. Anyway, like I said, this is a really important chapter, so let’s get down to it. Thanks to Coffee Monsta for your review.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Gale had spent his past two weeks with the 141 flying scouting teams to and from their LZs. It was about all he’d been doing, and he was itching for a real combat operation to fly. But at last, he was called into a mission briefing. There was an oil rig SAM site, civilian workers taken hostage, and a gulag with some of the tightest defenses he’d ever had the pleasure of out-flying. Finally, a bit of fun for the bored pilot.
Prophet was already awake when he heard Jay shifting restlessly in his bunk, making sleepy distressed noises. Prophet stood and stepped up the ladder to check on him, but as soon as he was able to see Jay, he shot up with a tiny scream. Prophet dropped back down with a sigh, figuring Jay wouldn’t talk about it.
“You okay?” Prophet asked anyway.
“Yeah,” Jay was panting and Prophet could hear the sheets rustling as Jay untangled himself from them.
Jay jumped down from his bunk and Prophet took a moment to look him over discretely. He slept shirtless, wearing only boxers and sweatpants to bed, and his torso was a mess of small, faded scars, little nicks and flicks that looked almost strategically placed. Prophet had no doubt it was a result of his time in a Russian prison. Jay narrowed his eyes at Prophet feeling his eyes on him, before turning his back and pulling on a clean shirt, covering his more notable scars before Prophet had a chance to really look at them.
Jay knelt by the door after putting his clothes on and started putting on his running shoes.
“Going somewhere?” Prophet asked curiously.
“For a run,” Jay answered shortly, standing from lacing his shoes and leaving quickly before Prophet could stop him.
A few hours later the entirety of the 141 had been called to the PT grounds- the briefing room was too small to house them all- it was informal, but General Shepherd himself stood at the head of the meeting with McTavish, Ghost, and Archer. They were talking in hushed tones for a moment, waiting for any stragglers, Jay guessed. Then the meeting was called into order and they formed up at attention out of habit. Jay was confused when he and Gale were asked to stand with the command group.
There was a hush as Jay and Gale took their spots before MacTavish started talking, “Now I know the lot of you have jobs to do, so we’ll make this quick. These two men, Corporal Jason Miller and Flight Lieutenant Liam Nelson, have proven themselves in combat, fighting with valor and determination, showing incredible loyalty and honor, and have displayed unique and impressive skills,” MacTavish stepped up to Jay and handed him his new unit patch, and then to Gale, presenting him the same patch, only slightly modified, on the bottom was an extra chevron border matching Jay’s except that it said pilot where Jay’s said medic, “Welcome to the one-four-one.”
“Sir?” Gale questioned curiously, “I thought my stay here was temporary.”
MacTavish looked expectantly back at Shepherd, who nodded thoughtfully.
“That was just to give us time to get your higher ups to approve the transfer,” Shepherd explained, “Your operations officer was reluctant to release the RAAF’s best pilot to the 141.”
Gale looked down at the patch and took in the information before looking back up, “Thank you, sir.”
Jay repeated the sentiment and MacTavish nodded to them then looked past them to address the assembled team, “Dismissed!”
The team dispersed slowly, everyone returning to their duties. Toad caught up to Archer and the pair headed in the direction of the range. Ghost, MacTavish, and Roach headed towards the offices with Shepherd, likely to continue planning for the upcoming op. Others headed off in random directions. One group seemed to be heading to the gym, another to the practice field where team members often trained with paintball guns, fake knives, and fake gear. Jay headed back to the barracks. He was just finishing getting dressed in his scrubs when Prophet came in.
“Hey,” Prophet greeted, sitting down at his desk, “You hear about the op coming up?”
“No. You can tell me later, I got work to do,” Jay said quickly as he opened the door, clutching his sketchbook tight, Prophet noted.
Prophet caught his arm before he could leave, “You and I are both assigned to this op, so whatever this hostility is, you need to figure it out before tomorrow.”
Jay drew his arm back out of Prophet’s grip, “I’m not hostile and I think you’ve done enough brain picking.”
He left before Prophet could stop him again.
Prophet didn’t see him again until the mission briefing that night.
Jay wasn't really paying attention, he got the jist: oil rig, hostages, gulag, Prisoner 627, exfil. It was a game of follow the leader to Jay, as the medic he was assigned to stay to the back of the squad, where he'd be safe and out of the line of fire. It frustrated Jay, but he understood his value to the team. The longer he stayed alive the more lives he could save, the more people that could go home to their families. Jay didn't have a family to go home to, so it was more important that they lived than he did.
Jay scanned the room, finding that most everybody was intensely focused on the briefing. Most everybody, Prophet was looking right at him. His eyes were so much like Rhys’, Jay couldn't make himself look away for a moment. Until he finally did, and forced himself to focus on the briefing again, trying not to think about the likeness. He had something much more important that would need his full attention tomorrow. He couldn’t afford to be distracted.
Jay went straight from the briefing to the showers and then to bed, avoiding interaction with Prophet at all costs. The next morning he was awake before anyone else, as per usual thanks to the nightmares, and the first thing he did was conceal the dark circles under his eyes. And then, contrary to usual, he sat at his desk rather than going for a run.
He pulled out his sketchbook and opened it to the pair of portraits he'd drawn. One of Rhys, and one he hadn't really meant to draw: Prophet.
There was a hand on his shoulder and Jay jumped and slammed the book shut, “What?” He snapped, looking over his shoulder at Prophet.
“It’s time to start getting ready… You okay?”
Jay stood up and Prophet stepped back to give him room, “I’m fine,” he answered flatly.
Prophet wasn't sure he believed that, but he let him be and followed silently when he left towards the armory.
The team was split. One group, Bravo Team, would leave an hour after the first group, Alpha Team. Alpha would deal with the oil platform, infiltrating from underneath, where they’d never be expected to come from. Once the SAM site was dealt with, Bravo Team, loaded up on choppers would pick up Alpha and head straight for the Gulag. Once there, most of Bravo set up outside in the courtyard once it was clear while Alpha and a few of Bravo infiltrated the facility.
Jay didn’t like this place. It reminded him too much of the Russian prison he’d been held in for just over a month. He had a job to do though, so he pushed it back and kept watch on the team’s six. Once or twice he glanced over his shoulder to assure himself everything was okay, nothing had gone wrong.
Prophet rarely went into combat zones, it wasn’t what he was there for. He could handle himself, sure, but it made him nervous, he rather not carry a weapon at all, but in a combat zone like this, where everyone was aiming to hurt him, it was better safe than sorry. He kept glancing back at Jay, who seemed a bit more on edge than usual. Prophet figured maybe it was just how he was, or possibly it was because he was remembering his time in captivity. Either way, having the medic watching his back made him feel much safer, almost as if he weren’t in any danger at all. Prophet nearly laughed at the idea. Here he was, in the thick of enemy territory, surrounded by drunks and bastards and people that wanted to hurt him, feeling safe with an anxious medic behind him.
Things were fast paced. They made their way down, they held off the Russians while trapped in the armory, then rappelled down to the bottom and continued on down a dark corridor, easily pushing the Russians further back as they went. A hole was blasted in the roof by the Navy’s bombardment and MacTavish yelled about getting them to stop. Things only went faster from there.
They breached a wall into the shower room and that was when the chaos began. There was a hail of hot lead flying at the team, it was a miracle no one suffered worse than a graze or two. then the riot shields and smoke screen, but a smoke screen worked both ways, and allowed Ghost, Roach, and MacTavish to disappear and reappear behind them and take them out with a few efficient shots. They made for a hole in the floor on the other side. Jay got there first and turned to provide cover fire for the rest of the team.
Prophet was last to make it there and Jay still hadn’t jumped down yet. He was waiting, making sure everyone else was clear first. Taking the implications of his job farther than he was technically meant to. As astute as Jay was, Prophet noticed something he apparently hadn’t, and shoved him down the hole. Jay fell with a shout of surprise as a 40mm grenade hit the ground where Jay had been and exploded, launching Prophet down after him.
Jay coughed and groaned as the dust settled. He turned on his side and slowly started pushing himself up. Then he looked up. Prophet didn’t move and Jay felt his heart leap into his throat.
No, no, no, no, no This couldn’t happen again, Jay wouldn’t let it happen again, he moved quickly to gain his feet and stumbled a bit, a little dizzy from his fall. A hand steadied him, but he brushed it off and took the couple steps forward to Prophet and kneeled there.
No, no, no, no, no. Jay shook his head, he could barely breath, barely think. He squeezed his eyes shut and forced himself to slow down. Hold his breath for one… two… three… okay. He forced only one thought into his head. Assess the damage… what’s the worst of it? Remove shrapnel and flush the wound, control the bleeding… done. Dress it. Next… Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit… No. Focus, focus… Jay was tense as he worked. No one disturbed him for a while, not until he was finished dressing the worst of the wounds and checking Prophet’s vitals, nodding to himself.
“Jay, we gotta move, how’re we looking?” MacTavish asked.
Jay looked up, “Not good,” his voice was shaky, “He’s hurt bad… won’t be walking out…”
“And you?” Roach questioned.
“I’m fine… why?”
Roach shrugged, “You just seem… a little shaken…”
“I’m fine,” Jay repeated, “I’ll carry him. You guys go ahead, I’m right behind you.”
Jay shifted to pull Prophet over his shoulders in the fireman’s carry and followed the team as they moved on. Things were slow for the moment. They’d ditched the Russians, the sewer system was empty. Ghost told them 627 was on the other side of the wall, they’d have to breach to get in. Jay stood back with Prophet still over his shoulders while the rest of the team went in. He waited until he heard a body hit the floor and saw a dead Russian flung just outside of their entry hole.
He walked in to find Roach being helped up by an older looking man as Worm asked who ‘Soap’ was. No one got the chance to answer as the Navy started their bombardment and it was time to run. Jay didn’t really pay attention, he was focused to hard on the feeling of Prophet’s strained breaths against his neck, making sure they were still there, pressing his fingers into the pulse-points he was holding on to, making sure his heart was still beating. All he knew was that they ended up in a room with a hole in the roof.
He was breathing heavy with the effort of running with Prophet on his back. He looked at the roof nervously as debris started falling and nearly ran to push Roach out of the way of a rather large chunk, but Prophet’s weight on his shoulders stopped him, he couldn’t risk Prophet like that.
“Roach is down! Roach!”
Price and Worm started digging him out and Jay let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding as Roach stood under his own power when Price helped him up. A rope dropped down and Jay didn’t hesitate to clip himself in and shift Prophet to clip him in on the same knot and hold on to him.
Jay curled himself protectively around Prophet as the helicopter started pulling them up. Before he knew it he was on board the chopper, Prophet was still stable, he was checking Roach for a concussion- which he did have-, and treating Worm for some minor burns. Jay sat back after a while of watching over Prophet.
He woke up when the chopper touched down back at base. Jay hadn’t even realized he’d fallen asleep. He checked Prophet’s vitals in a panic and calmed when he found Prophet looking better than he had been. Still wasn’t good, but it was marginally better. He had help getting Prophet out and onto the stretcher Doc had ready for him.
MacTavish followed behind them as they headed to the infirmary.
Doc barred Jay from following any further than the trauma wing, much to his displeasure. Jay paced restlessly until Doc came back, but rather than acknowledging the anxious medic, he spoke to MacTavish.
“Anything else I need to know about?” Doc asked respectfully.
“Roach has a concussion, Worm as some minor burns,” MacTavish answered, “And don’t let him fool you,” he added, pointing at Jay, “He took a fall, looked like he hit his head pretty hard.”
Doc looked over his shoulder at Jay, who was still pacing, hands shaking, he punched his palm a couple times, clearly anxious and distressed.
“I’ll take care of it,” Doc nodded.
He turned and caught Jay, turning him by his shoulder to follow him.
Jay rushed him through his checks and through his shower, skipped the nap, and headed straight for the room Prophet had been put in and stayed there.
Once he was satisfied that Prophet was in no immediate danger of dying of his injuries, Jay finally allowed himself to sit down and breathe. He wasn’t sure how long he was there, but Doc was in and out, bringing him water and food as he kept watch over Prophet. Jay refused to leave at Doc’s prompting and insisting that he needed to rest as well. He was fine dammit. As long as Prophet was okay, he was fine . Prophet would be fine, he had to be.
At one point one of the nurses had brought him his sketchbook. Jay filled a page with a sketch of Prophet laying still in the bed, another was filled with sketches of flowers. Orchids, roses, daisies, he’d even done a lotus flower in the bottom right corner. But he didn’t sleep. He couldn’t sleep. He’d tried that. He’d woken up screaming, scared the shit out of Doc and a couple nurses in the process. He hadn’t tried to sleep since. Jay wasn’t sure how long it’d been, he was going solely off of coffee at this point.
Doc came in again while Jay was checking the monitors Prophet was hooked up to. Prophet still hadn’t woken up and it was scaring him.
“Jay,” Doc’s voice was firm, “You need to rest before you burn out.”
“I’m not gonna burn out…”
The next thing he felt was a sharp pain in his neck. He flinched and covered the spot with a hand as Doc stepped away, setting an empty syringe on the counter for disposal later.
“What…” Jay was suddenly at a loss for energy and thought.
He caught himself on the counter with one hand to his head.
Doc came up to him again and caught his arms, “C’mon, it’s time to get some sleep…”
“No…” Jay grumbled, shaking his head, trying to fight off the effects of the sedatives, “No, no sleep… I can’t…” he trailed off with a tired groan as Doc guided him towards the cot the nurses had set up in the corner for him.
He was out as soon as he was down and Doc sighed in relief as he pulled a sheet over the exhausted medic.
MacTavish walked in a little while later, before Doc left and raised his eyebrow at Jay sleeping on the cot.
Doc shrugged, “He hasn’t slept in a week, what did you expect me to do?”
MacTavish simply rolled his eyes and chuckled.
Woo, finally done. This is one of the longer chapters I have planned, but I may have managed to condense it into an average length chapter :P Well there you have it, one of the most important chapters of the story. Up next: another important chapter. Woohoo. Please please please review?
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 8: Drowning
Big thanks to Coffee Monsta for helping me name this chapter, I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me and also getting me motivated to actually write, idk I had a big motivation/inspiration drop while I was trying to write this, it was annoying. Thanks also to Coffee Monsta (again), Justagenericusername, lisadewaele581, and TheShadeOps for your reviews. Alright, we got another important chapter ahead of us. Things are getting super plot heavy. If I leave too many plot holes be sure to let me know so I can fill them in.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Jay woke up slowly, groggy and disoriented. He sat up, rubbing at his his head, trying to remember how he'd fallen asleep and how it was he wasn't being woken up by a nightmare. Almost as soon as he wondered he remembered, Doc had sedated him. Jay frowned and got up from the cot slowly.
He was a little dizzy, but otherwise felt fine, and immediately began checking over Prophet again. Doc had made new notes on his chart. It seemed Prophet, or rather Nathan , Jay noted, was improving. He checked his watch to see how long he’d been asleep for. Eight hours. Felt like he’d been asleep for days, he was still groggy and tired.
He was still looking over the monitors, noting any changes when Doc came in.
“Morning, Jay,” he greeted and left the young medic to his work as he checked the iv drips.
Jay frowned at him, “We will be talking about what you did.”
Doc took the chart from Jay and snapped it closed, “You want to talk about it? Let's talk about it. What part of not sleeping for a week is okay and healthy or even close to normal? It's not. You need sleep, Jay, eight hours, every day. I don't care when you sleep, as long as you get sleep. If you keep up with this not sleeping thing you've got going on you can be damn sure I'll keep up with the sedatives.” Now, you wanna tell me why you haven't been sleeping or are we just gonna pretend that nightmare of yours never happened?”
Jay rolled his eyes and shook his head, “You can't just put someone to sleep like that…”
“I can, I did, and I will do it again,” Doc retorted, putting Prophet’s chart away before crossing his arms over his chest, “I’ll give you a few minutes, if you're not out of here by then I'll do it again.”
He left before Jay could argue further.
“I wouldn't test him if I were you, Doc doesn't make idle threats.”
Jay jumped at the voice and turned to look at Prophet, “Oh now you wake up?” He shook his head, “Welcome back.”
Prophet smiled and chuckled, “What's this about you not sleeping?”
“Oh no you don't. You're not doing any brain picking until you can stand up and move around on your own,” Jay refused.
“Is that coming from my doctor or my stubborn and frustrated patient?” Prophet asked curiously.
Jay frowned at him, “I'm not your patient…”
Prophet chuckled, “‘Course you are. Everyone on this base is my patient. Of course if you were my patient I couldn't do this.”
Jay was in the middle of checking how much morphine Doc had Prophet on when he was pulled down by the sleeve of his scrubs. Jay flinched back when Prophet pressed their lips together. He wanted to run, hide, and disappear, but Prophet still had a hold of his sleeve. Jay pulled back and Prophet looked at him curiously, confused.
“You're not hurt are you?” Prophet asked as he let go of Jay's sleeve.
Jay bolted as soon as he was able, leaving Prophet confused and concerned.
He ran, not really sure where he was going, just trying to force everything out of his mind, focusing just on getting one foot in front of the other as fast as he possibly could. It became easier as he went and became tired, the lack of energy forcing him to focus harder on moving his feet than on Prophet’s eyes, the way it felt when… No! Jay shook his head, trying to chase away the thoughts, but in doing so he lost his balance and fell. He felt like he was drowning.
A shadow fell over him as he pushed himself up to his hands and knees. He looked up to see Ghost standing there, looking down at him.
Jay pushed himself up to his feet, “Sir,” he greeted with a nod.
“Corporal,” Ghost greeted back, “You look like you got a lot on your mind.”
“Yes, sir…” Jay saw no point in lying to the Lieutenant, he was a terrible liar, trying would just lead to questions he didn't want to answer.
Ghost gestured to the gym with his head, “C’mon, I need a sparring partner and you got steam to blow and need the training.”
Jay nodded, “Sounds good, sir,” he agreed and followed the Lieutenant to the gym.
Roach, who had been at the punching bags paused as the pair entered and made their way to the sparring mat. He grinned and followed them over.
"Alright, Corporal, show me what you got," Jay could almost hear the smirk in Ghost's voice, could probably see it if it weren't for that damned mask of his.
Jay got into position hesitantly, Ghost was one of the best fighters the task force had, he had to be crazy to be doing this. He glanced over at their audience of one, who appeared to be doing his best to give him a more reassuring look. Jay rolled his eyes and turned back to Ghost.
He kept his hands up and waited for Ghost to make the first move. He saw the hit coming and thought about the best way to block or avoid it. By the time Jay decided on a course of action the hit connected with his gut and he stumbled back a bit. All of the moves Jay made were too slow to be of any help as Ghost landed hit after hit.
Finally, Jay managed to duck under a swinging fist and his quick mind caught up to the quicker fight and he landed a heavy blow on the Lieutenant's middle. He danced back a couple steps out of Ghost’s range, giving himself time to think as Ghost came at him again. He pivoted to the side as Ghost tried to tackle him, throwing him off balance with the unexpected lack of resistance.
“Olè!” Roach laughed from the sideline as Ghost tumbled to the mat.
Ghost sent him a glare as Jay helped him up, “You pack quite a punch, rookie.”
Jay shrugged, “I do more strength training than cqc…”
“I can tell,” Ghost responded, shifting his weight to one foot, “You're sloppy. You'll never win a real fight, thinking as much as you do.”
Jay shrugged again, “My entire job is thinking and planning and considering what happens next and what happens after that and so on.”
“So it is,” Ghost nodded, “You're gonna have to slow down and not plan so much in a melee fight. It's instinctual, not logical.”
Jay nodded, he'd been told the same many times before, but he always found that when he tried he generally stopped being able to think and plan altogether. He rather be able to save a life than win a stupid fight.
“Hey, LT, time for that brief Price asked for,” Roach interrupted.
Ghost looked over at him and nodded once. “Keep working on it, Corporal,” with that he turned and followed Roach out.
Jay watched them go before moving to the line of punching bags.
He wasn't sure how long he was there, but he worked himself as hard as he could until MacTavish called a briefing. It was dark when Jay left the gym.
He first took note of who was attending the briefing. Both Captains, Ghost, Archer, Roach, Ozone, and… Jay froze, Prophet. There was that drowning feeling again. Jay was sure he should still be resting. How long had he really been training for? But Prophet was there and looked perfectly healthy and alert. Jay wrote off the surprise as his nerves causing him to exaggerate Nath- no, Prophet’ s injuries and let himself be glad he was okay. Jay shook his head at his thoughts and focused on the briefing. Base, nuclear submarine, eight warheads, disable them and the sub and the base entirely. It seemed simple enough. Jay took a second look at the movement plans and considered them for a moment, making sure no one would be placed in unnecessary danger.
Jay nodded his approval of the plan as MacTavish gave him a curious look. Apparently he'd been asking for said assessment, as the gesture seemed to please him and he went on to call the briefing to a close. He went over the timing once more and made sure everyone understood when they were to head out. Then they were dismissed and Jay headed for the showers, still coated in sweat and grime from his workout.
He stood under the already cold spray long after he finished washing. He was thinking and trying not to. He liked Prophet, he did. But he just couldn't, could he? No, he decided, he could not risk that pain again. He wouldn't be able to take it. Jay resolved that he'd get over it, he simply could not bring himself to try again, not this time. He didn't even know if Na- Prophet had meant what he'd done, he had been completely out of it on pain medication. Jay convinced himself, or rather tried to, that he hadn't meant it, and that the feeling was not mutual. How could it be? Jay had made a conscious effort to push him away at every turn, he was sure Prophet thought he hated him. Jay sighed and turned the water off. He was thinking in circles at this point.
He towel dried his hair and wrapped the towel around his waist as he left the showers and stepped into the locker room. Jay changed into his clean clothes quickly and immediately headed towards his room.
He hesitated at the door. If Prophet was up and around then he'd be back in their shared room too. Jay rolled his eyes at himself and entered the room. Prophet was laying on the bottom bunk, staring up at the bunk above him. He looked over as Jay entered and Jay avoided making eye contact with him. Prophet sighed, silently cursing the drugs he'd been on for making him jump the gun.
“Jay?” Prophet asked.
“Jay… we need to figure this out…” Prophet prodded, he was sure Jay wouldn't even let him apologize, he'd been under the influence and out of control of his actions, Jay would realize that and he was too good a person to blame him.
“What's there to figure out?” Jay questioned.
It was a start, “You and me?”
Jay was quiet. He wasn't sure how to respond. Yes he liked Nathan, but he couldn't. Jay didn't think he could manage that kind of relationship again. He couldn't. He was too broken too scared to try again.
He was on the verge of another panic attack when Prophet appeared in front of him and laid a hand on his shoulder.
“ Breathe, Jason, it's okay,” he assured with a small smile, “I know you're scared.”
Jay took a breath, eyes locking with Nathan’s as he let the touch on his shoulder ground him. He took another breath, and another. He was okay, he wasn't crumpling to the ground in a fit of panic, fear, and anxiety. He was okay. Maybe… Maybe he would keep being okay.
Jay opened his mouth in a brief moment of courage, “You and me.”
Prophet smiled at him, “Thank you, for trusting me. I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you.”
Jay nodded and touched the hand on his shoulder, “Just… just don’t leave. Don’t let me get hurt like that again…”
Prophet pulled him into a light hug, “I would never.”
Jay leaned into him and they were silent for a long moment, “I’m scared…”
“I know… It’ll be alright, I won’t let anything happen.”
It’s a little shorter than I wanted it but I’ve taken too long. So here ya go. Yeah… That’s all I got… Ummm, I feel like there was something I wanted to say, but I can’t remember… So I’ll leave it at that. Well. Let me know what you think fellas :3
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 9: Nightmares and Daydreams
Woop. Chapter Nine and crawling ever so much closer to Loose Ends. Woo boy that’s gonna be a doozy. These chapters are pretty much writing themselves at this point, I have so much planned and set to happen really all I gotta worry about is transitions and /how/ to write that specific part. Both of which are a bitch xD Anyway, to answer a couple common questions from the reviews last chapter: Yes, Prophet and Jay are a ‘thing’ now. Yes, I will be continuing To Dust, but we’ll probably be seeing one or two more chapters for this before I can get back into that. And finally: Yes, lots of angst in store for our characters. How could there not be with Loose Ends coming up? No but seriously, you think I’ve been heavy on the angst so far? Get ready for me to dial it up to eleven in the next few chapters. Thanks to Coffee Monsta, Gotasegway, and justagenericusername for your reviews you lovely people <3
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
The first thing Jay noticed when he woke up was that the dawn sun was peaking through the blinds. The second thing was that he wasn’t still tired and wasn’t waking up from a nightmare in the middle of the night. Then he realized how warm it was and how safe he felt. He let himself forget for a moment who it was he was waking up next to. Jay sighed once he remembered and pressed his face into Prophet’s chest.
Prophet rubbed soothing circles on his back, “It’s time to get up, BlueJay…”
Jay sat up with a sigh and planted his feet on the floor. He took a minute and held his head in his hands.
Nathan sat up with him and rubbed the back of his shoulder, “Hey, it’s okay, we can go as slow as you need…”
He nodded, sighing again, “Yeah… it’s just... Gonna take some getting used to again.”
There was a knock on the door before Nathan could respond, “Time to suit up!” came a voice from the other side of the door.
Jay and Nathan both sighed and stood up, dressing in their uniforms before leaving the privacy of their room and heading towards the armory where everyone else was already gathering. Jay’s jaw was tight as he got his gear together, wrapping himself in a couple extra layers in preparation for the sub-zero temperatures. He double checked his kit, leaning ever-so-slightly into the contact when his shoulder brushed Prophet’s.
Prophet, to everyone’s surprise, had volunteered for the mission. MacTavish had curiously asked him why, only to receive a shrug and a comment about field experience in return.
Before long the team was loaded up on the C-130 en-route to a HALO drop point in the middle of nowhere, Russia. Prophet didn’t miss the way Jay leaned back with his eyes closed, hand pressed to the caduceus patch he wore on his vest over his heart. It almost looked like he was praying, but as far as Prophet knew, Jay wasn’t sure about religion and didn’t pray. It left him wondering what the significance of the caduceus was to Jay. He considered asking, but they were far too crowded by their teammates and he was sure Jay would rather have privacy.
The lights went out and the red signal light came on.
“Drop point in 30,” An Australian accented voice cut through their comms as the cargo door opened and the team finished their gear checks, “Ten.”
The light turned green after a long ten seconds just as an alarm blared and Gale cursed, “Hold on! SAM sites have us locked!”
The unsuspecting team stumbled and fell and tripped as Gale banked to avoid the missiles being fired at the large plane.
“Go! Go! Go!” Ghost shouted over the chaos, “Gale get out of here we’ll find our own way out!”
A first group leapt from the cargo bay and began their free-fall. Jay noted the absence of Ghost, Archer, Toad, Chemo, and Ozone. Then the plane jerked and stuttered as a missile hit and Gale cursed loudly. Jay and Prophet fell from the bay, followed shortly by Roach and Price. Jay struggled to right himself for a moment before pulling his chute and looking back to where the damaged C-130 was now turning to exit the air space.
“What’s the damage Thunder 2-1?” MacTavish asked over comms.
“Losing fuel, HUD’s down, flying LOS,” there was a pause, “One of the engines is damaged, it’s not keeping up with the others. Shifting vector and velocity to compensate. Don’t know that she’ll make the trip, but I’ll get her as far as she’ll go. I’ll find somewhere friendly to set down and make repairs.”
“Solid copy Thunder, do what you can, but don’t risk yourself trying to save the craft,” MacTavish responded, “Ground team continue with the mission. Price, I can barely see Roach’s chute from the sat-feed, do you have a visual?”
“Roger that, Soap, I’ve found Roach, he appears to be intact,” there was a slight chuckle from several sources interrupting the update, “We’re gonna head northwest to the sub base, over.”
“Copy that. The rest of the team landed near Ghost, pretty far to the east…”
“Tell them to continue with the mission. We’ll regroup if possible,” and with that, Price’s comm cut out.
Jay had taken the moment they had to rest while everyone was getting sorted out to check himself and Prophet over for injuries. Finding they were both fine, he got up and unclipped from his chute and readjusted his gear, letting his touch linger for a moment on his caduceus.
“Jay, Prophet,” Ghost came over a closed circuit comm channel, “What’s your location?”
Jay checked their surroundings, “Looks like we landed about a klick from the village… I think I can see a road a little to the north.”
“Copy that. Get to the road and follow it until it turns off. Stay out of sight and wait for us.”
“Yes, sir, see you there.” Jay answered and turned back towards Prophet, “Alright… let’s get a move on.”
Jay led off at a slight jog, making sure to stay low and leading the way through the trees to the side of the road, lest an enemy patrol drive by and spot them. It was ten minutes of a hard push through ankle deep snow, ducking under branches and skirting bushes before they came to the point where the small road veered off to the right. Jay knelt down in the trees behind the guardrail and kept his rifle ready, constantly scanning, stretching his senses all around him as Prophet knelt down, keeping a careful eye, and ear, out for anyone who might spot them.
“You are allowed to relax, you know,” Prophet commented quietly, resting his rifle lazily in its sling.
Jay didn’t look at him, “I know you’re not experienced in the field, Proph, but no, we’re not. Relaxing out here is how you get caught off guard and get yourself killed, or worse,” he replied, still scanning their surroundings.
Prophet sighed, looking at him for a moment, before shifting to a more ready position. They were waiting for another minute, before Prophet spoke again.
“That caduceus on your chest. You keep touching it. What’s so important about it?” Prophet asked curiously.
“Later. Takes too much focus to explain something that important,” Jay responded simply, sparing Prophet only a glance from the corner of his eye.
Prophet hummed in consideration. He let Jay have his quiet for the rest of the ten minutes that they waited for the rest of the team.
“There they are,” it was Jay who spotted them first, of course, he was the alert one.
He stood up and went to step out of the foliage to meet up with the rest of the team when Prophet pulled him back with a sharply hissed, “Get down!”
At that moment a patrol vehicle drove past, the larger team managing to get to cover quickly enough to avoid being spotted as well.
“Nice catch, Prophet, thanks,” Jay nodded to him, getting up again.
This time, they made their way out of the woods and into the center of the road to meet up with Ghost and the others. They knelt there in the muddy slush to discuss their plan.
“Sniper Team One is going to break off here and find points along our path to provide overwatch and surveillance. Jay, Prophet, you’re coming with Chemo, Ozone, and I to the village just past that wall. We’ll have to follow this road north a ways and double back to a path inside,” Ghost spoke, using gestures to indicate direction.
He waited for an affirmative nod from each of the team members before moving to lead the way north along the road.
“Thunder 2-1 to Command, come in,” Gale coughed, struggling to keep the plane level, “Command, do you read?”
“Loud and clear, Gale, what’s the situation?” MacTavish answered.
“The damaged engine’s blown. Cockpit’s filling with smoke. The other three engines are stuttering. We’re gliding at this point. Nearest landing strip is still an hour away…” Gale blinked hard against the acrid smoke stinging his eyes, “I have to try to put her down. I’m over a populated area I can’t bail, there will be civilian casualties if I do. I’m gonna try to ditch her in the forest just past the city.”
“Gale. Do not risk yourself trying to do this. If you can’t make that landing, bail out, we’ll deal with the consequences later,” MacTavish replied, “Good luck. Command out.”
Gale flipped a switch above his head, closing out all communications and shouted back to his co-pilot who was trying to get the fire under control in the cargo bay, “Buckle up! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!”
The plane jolted and twisted again with another explosion as the second engine blew. Gale winced and pulled hard on the steering column.
“C’mon baby, hold together, just a bit further,” he muttered under his breath.
There was a gut wrenching sound of metal twisting and snapping and tearing.
“We just lost the right wing!” The co-pilot, Johnson, shouted.
They were thrown into an uncontrollable dive and twist with the loss of the wing.
“Shit…” Gale cursed, trying hard to angle the nose up.
They cleared the city, only just, before the plane hit hard into the forest on the other side. Gale braced himself on the console and switchboard above him as the momentum tried to throw him forward. The only thing keeping him seated was the harness he'd clipped in to.
The resistance was heavy, even before they reached the base. As it was, they were just outside of it, pushing their way through the village on the outskirts. Apparently, the village only served as housing for the soldiers of said base, else Jay would have been convinced the Russian soldiers were coming out of the woodwork. He could almost swear half of Russia’s army was there. But he knew better, most of Russia’s forces were in DC right now, invading his home.
Jay had to focus, though, they were coming in force and Jay couldn’t afford to be distracted. His eyes searched out Prophet as he ducked in cover again. Prophet looked back at him and gave a reassuring smile. Jay returned the look and returned his attention to the fight.
Then he saw it. A grenade landed close by. If left alone it would kill three men, four if Jay counted himself, and wound several others. He made a split second decision.
Jay dashed out of cover and grabbed it. He planted his feet and gave it his best pitch. It exploded mere fractions of a second after leaving his hand.
The shock wave and subsequent wall of shrapnel threw Jay down onto his back, clear in the enemy's’ line of sight.
It was enough, no one else was hurt. But Jay wasn’t moving. Prophet felt a surge of panic as the gunfire stopped and everyone waited to see if he would move.
Jay groaned and someone whispered for him not to move. It was too late, though, Jay was already turning over on his side, rolling over to his stomach to begin pushing himself up.
There was no sound when the bullet pierced the back of Jay’s Kevlar, slicing right through the extra layers of protection. The bullet tore through him and was finally stopped by the Kevlar covering his chest. Jay collapsed flat on his stomach, grimace plastered on his face.
“Jason!” Prophet screamed, bolting from cover despite the warnings of his superiors.
Prophet turned him over and looped his arms under Jay’s shoulders, pulling him back towards cover, leaving a trail of red in their wake.
“Chemo!” Ghost shouted, returning fire at the Russians, keeping Prophet and Jay covered, “Help him!”
Chemo let his weapon hang on its sling and bounded forward to help Prophet pull Jay back. The Russians were falling left and right at this point, Archer and Toad were keeping them covered from the ridge Price and Roach had come down from, and Roach was keeping the Russian reinforcements at bay using the predator drone.
Chemo unclipped the strap of Jay’s medical kit and set the bag aside as Prophet worked at the fastenings of his Kevlar. They carefully removed the vest and worked to get the layers of clothes out of the way.
Jay coughed, groaning in pain, and forced his eyes open, “Sorry, Proph…” he coughed, “I thought I had time…”
“Don’t worry, Jay. You’re gonna be fine, you’ll be alright you don’t have to apologize,” Prophet was speaking quickly, he was scared out of his mind if he was honest with himself, but he had to hold himself together, couldn’t let his panic show, couldn’t let Jay worry about him.
“Prophet…” Chemo spoke quietly and Prophet turned to him, “he’s in bad shape. I need you to distract him, this is gonna hurt.”
Prophet swallowed thickly and nodded, avoiding looking at Jay’s exposed chest as he turned back to Jay.
“Hey,” he gripped the back of Jay’s head as Jay looked to be drifting off, “stay awake. You haven’t told me about that caduceus of yours yet.”
Jay groaned and grimaced before opening his eyes again and looking Prophet in the eye, “It’s the only thing they can’t take away from me...”
What can I say? I am evil. You can also blame Coffee Monsta for telling me to end it there when I said I was debating ending or continuing xD Lmao. In all seriousness, this was a pretty fun chapter to write. Lol I even had to draw out a map to get the movements and shit right xD So, leave a review and let me know if my efforts paid off?
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 10: Time
Woo okay, I just watched some really funny videos and my stomach hurts from laughing too much. Lol. So here we go, Jay's hurt, Gale’s crashed in a forest, let's get on with it and see how they get outta this one. Thanks to Coffee Monsta and TheShadeOps for your reviews.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Gale woke up slowly, leaning forward but kept upright by his harness. He lifted his head slowly, groaning at the ache in his neck. Fire. He coughed and braced himself against the seat. There was fire outside. He remembered now, he’d gone down in a forest. The two blown engines must’ve cause the fire. Gale considered his options a moment as his head cleared. He could go outside, find some form of help, but then, there was the fire, he wasn’t sure of the extent of the blaze and for all he knew it spanned miles of the forest around him. And then there was the fact that he was in Russia, which wasn’t exactly on friendly terms with the Task Force at the moment. Gale sighed and unclipped from the safety harness. He stood, wincing at a pain in his chest as something shifted, and moved to check his controls.
Gale did not have high hopes for having any power to the console. After confirming his suspicions, he moved towards the back of the cockpit, grabbing for the emergency radio. Only to have pain shoot up his arm as it refused to move. Broken. Great. He grabbed the radio with his unbroken left arm and inspected it. It appeared intact, but it would broadcast on an open frequency. Any hostile Russian base in the area would pick it up and know exactly where he was. No. Better to wait until he was somewhere less… hostile . Yeah… good luck with that… he told himself. Gale sighed and put the radio back. He slumped in his seat again, thinking through his options.
He winced and held up his good arm in defense as the console sparked. Gale stared at it a moment. Something still had to have power. It was just a matter of wiring and routing the power where he wanted it. This, he could manage. If he could get the power routed to the communications he had a chance of getting through to Command over a closed channel.
“Chemo, Chemo , he's not breathing,” Prophet whined, holding one hand on the back of Jay's head, angling it so it was easier for Jay to breathe, but he wasn't breathing anymore.
“Damn…” Chemo looked up at Prophet then down at Jay's face.
He was grimacing, it looked like he was trying to breathe at least, but he couldn't. Jay's eyes shifted to look at him, he was in pain, struggling and scared, as any sane person would be.
“It's alright, Jay, CASEVAC’s enroute, we’ll get you outta here and then you'll be fine. Just fine,” Chemo assured and looked back at Prophet, who looked like he was only just holding it together, “Proph, gonna need you to take your own advice here and breathe, you're not going to be much help to him panicking.”
Prophet looked at him, wide-eyed, and nodded; he took one deep breath, then another, and bit his lip a moment before speaking again, “Wha-what's wrong with him? Why isn't he breathing?”
“He can't. Look,” Chemo gestured to Jay's face, it looked as if he was gasping for breath but wasn't getting any, “I think his diaphragm’s damaged…”
“You… you can fix it, right?” Prophet asked cautiously.
Chemo shook his head, “I don't know how, I only know the basics, y’know, a good tape job, stitching wounds closed… but I think I can help him breathe at least a little. Expanding his chest too much might make the damage worse, but at the same time if we leave it he won't be able to breathe, the weight and tension of every thing is keeping his lungs closed.”
“So… we just need to get them open…”
“By expanding his chest a little,” Chemo finished with a nod, “He won't be getting enough oxygen out of the air, though, he’ll need an O2 mask…” Chemo dug around in Jay's kit for a moment, “But then he won’t be able to breathe out either. It’s that same weight and tension that forces the air out of the lungs… We’re gonna have to move his chest for him…”
“How do we do that?” Prophet questioned.
Chemo made a face, “We’ll figure it out?” he sighed, “I don’t know, I’ve never had to do this… but it’s the best we got and he’ll suffocate by the time CASEVAC gets here if we don’t try it.”
Prophet nodded, “Just tell me what you need me to do.”
“Just keep his head elevated like you’ve been doing and keep him distracted.”
There was, admittedly, a problem with Gale’s plan. He only had one arm and he couldn’t get the damn panel off the console . Gale huffed and kicked it, wincing as his ribs shifted again. He made a mental note not to do that again.
He heard a groan and suddenly remembered: he had a co-pilot .
“Johnson?!” Gale called, bracing himself on his seat, “You still alive back there?”
“No…” came a pained groan and Gale gave a huff of a chuckle as he turned.
Johnson was leaning on the hatch frame leading into the cockpit.
“Think you can lend me a hand?” Gale asked curiously.
Johnson shrugged, “I better be able to, I’m better off than you, looks like.”
“Aw no, I’m fine, just takin’ it easy, mate,” Gale sat down stiffly in his seat, “Do me a favor and get that panel off, something under there’s still got power.”
Johnson knelt by the console and got to work on the screws holding it in place, “And what do you plan to do with that power?”
“See if our comms still work, what else?” Gale questioned, “I’m gonna route the power to them and hope I can get a signal out to command.”
“With one arm?”
“I’ve done more with less,” Gale shrugged his left shoulder, moving to kneel beside Johnson as the panel came away, “They don’t call me Gale just ‘cause it sounds good y’know.”
He took a good look at the wires and frowned. A lot of them were already severed and torn. He could still manage, sure, but the wiring was a mess.
“Why do they call you Gale?” Johnson asked curiously as Gale shifted to lay on his back to get a better angle on the wires.
“Flew easy through a typhoon. Didn’t even really realize it was there ‘till I landed back at base,” Gale chuckled.
Johnson simply looked at him, “You flew through a typhoon… without realizing it was a typhoon…”
“Yeah…. Alright, that should do it,” Gale crawled carefully back out of the space and sat heavily in the seat, “Here goes nothing…”
He flipped the comms switch and waited for the tell-tale static of an open line with his team.
“ Chemo…” Prophet was nervous, Jay still wasn't breathing despite their efforts and he had passed out.
“I know, I know,” Chemo bit his lip, “I'm doing the best I can.”
There was the sound of rotors closing in and Prophet could see the snow being kicked up by the wind they produced.
“There's CASEVAC…” Prophet pointed to the spot where the chopper marked with a distinct red plus on a white field was touching down, “Let's go.”
By then the rest of the team had moved ahead, leaving Jay in the care of Prophet and Chemo, who would take the CASEVAC back to base with their wounded teammate. Chemo guessed the other SAM sites had been disabled, else the chopper wouldn't have made it so far. Medics and doctors stood at the door to the heli while a couple soldiers stepped out to cover Chemo and Prophet as the carefully carried Jay onboard.
They were in the air in a matter of seconds and the doctors were instantly at work, cutting away the rest of Jay's uniform, left to keep him somewhat warm in the frigid outdoors of Russia.
Prophet watched tensely, gnawing on his lip and wringing his hands, but stood out of the way, even though he couldn't see what they were doing to him. He waited and prayed to the God he wasn't entirely sure he believed in, leaning and stretching every so often to try and get a look at Jay.
When the doctors finally moved back they were nearly back at base and Prophet nearly let out a choked sob at the sight of Jay. There was a tube down his throat with a bag on one end, one of the medics was slowly squeezing and releasing it, and a line of stitches over his abdomen, but his chest was rising and falling rhythmically now and a little color had returned to his face. Prophet moved forward slowly and gently took Jay's hand.
“He's freezing…” Prophet commented idly.
The medic pumping the bag nodded, “He’s lost a lot of blood and was exposed to sub-zero temperatures for quite a while. He’ll live, but we can't promise a full recovery…”
Prophet’s shoulders slumped and he nodded. The chopper was landing now and Jay would be whisked away any moment. He let go of Jay's hand reluctantly, but followed the team to the infirmary.
He paced in the lobby, Chemo having taken his gear for him, until Doc came out and stopped him.
“There was a lot of damage to his diaphragm, it'll be a while before he can breathe properly. Took some shrapnel to his arms and face, nothing to serious there. He’ll live. About how long would you say he wasn't breathing for?”
“I don't know, it felt like hours…” Prophet responded, “Can I see him?”
Doc nodded, “Not sure when he'll wake up, he's on a ventilator at the moment, we’ll replace it with an oxygen mask when he wakes up,” he explained as he turned to lead Prophet to where Jay was resting, he stopped outside o8f the glass door of the ICU, “I have to warn you, there’s a chance of irreversible brain damage. It depends on how long he was without oxygen. We’ll know when he wakes up.”
Prophet nodded and Doc left. Prophet pushed the door open and sighed at the sight of Jay. He was still pale, but looked better than he had when they’d brought him in, aside from the tube down his throat and the IV drips and wires and sensors keeping track of his vitals. They’d cleaned his face of dirt and, consequently, the makeup Jay used to hide the dark circles under his eyes. Prophet sank down in the chair beside the bed.
Gale sat back in his seat with an accomplished sigh, he’d managed to get a hold of MacTavish, who was now sending Nikoli after him and Johnson. All they had to do was wait and hope that the Russians wouldn’t come and investigate.
Prophet opened his eyes slowly, having fallen asleep in the chair next to Jay after setting up a playlist of orchestral music to play. His brow furrowed at the sight of a husky resting its head on his knee.
“Tip?” Prophet questioned and the dog looked up at him and appeared to be smiling.
Prophet looked up to see two women standing there, one much shorter than the other, “Rea? Sky? What are you guys doing here?”
Reagan, the taller of the two women wore a grin, “Hey Nate! We got a call from a friend of yours and we decided you needed some company. Besides, Alaska is cold…”
Prophet chuckled and ruffled the fur between Tip’s ears, “Well I’m glad to see you two, but Tip really shouldn’t be in here,” he commented with a glance to Jay, who was looking significantly better.
Skylar, quiet, short, and shy, shuffled forward to take Tip’s leash from the floor and lead her back towards the door, “I’ll wait outside with her,” she commented, before leaving and standing right outside with the dog.
“So, you going to introduce me or?” Reagan asked, gesturing to the sleeping man.
Prophet rolled his eyes, “This is Jay, he’s a medic.”
“And your boyfriend?” Reagan questioned, nodding at their hands.
Prophet was still, very gently, holding one of Jay’s hands. He was quiet a moment, simply looking at Jay for a while.
“I think so…” He finally answered.
“What do you mean ‘you think so’? You either are or you aren’t.”
Nathan shook his head, “He was hurt, bad. He’s scared. We’re working on it.”
Reagan nodded her understanding, “I see.”
There was a quiet moan and they both looked down at Jay. He started jerking and Prophet shot up to his feet, taking a better grip on Jay’s hand.
“Yell for Doc!” he shouted over his shoulder at Reagan as he pressed Jay’s shoulder down gently.
Only a few seconds later Doc was pushing him back, telling him to calm down.
“What’s wrong with him?” Prophet questioned.
“Nothing, he’s fine. He’s just bucking the vent, it’s not exactly comfortable. He’s starting to wake up,” Doc explained, “but I’m gonna have to ask you to step out for a moment,” he added, gesturing to the door.
Prophet bit his lip, and looked at Jay, who was still jerking, and left quietly. Doc pulled the curtain closed over the glass wall and door.
“What happened?” Skylar asked nervously, petting Tip.
Prophet shook his head, “Doc said he’s starting to wake up.”
Sky nodded, “Oh. That’s good then. I’m glad,” she smiled.
Reagan nudged him with her shoulder, “You alright, Nate?”
Nathan looked at her, “Yeah, I’m alright…”
Reagan looked at him skeptically, “I don’t believe you,” she commented as Tip walked away from Skylar and laid down on Nathan’s feet, “and neither does Tip.”
Nathan sighed and knelt down to scratch Tip behind the ears, “I guess I’m just nervous…”
“About?” Skylar asked curiously.
“You know you can talk to us, Nate,” Reagan insisted.
Nathan sighed and sat back on the floor, still petting Tip, “He wasn't breathing for a while, Doc says there's a chance of brain damage…”
“But didn't Doc say he'd be fine?” Reagan questioned.
Nathan nodded, “I know he will be, I'm just worried about what’ll happen if he does happen to have brain damage.”
Prophet shook his head, “Not really for me to share.”
Skylar frowned sadly and hugged Nathan’s arm, “Everyone’s gotta vent somehow, you’re not exempt just because of that confidentiality mess. You can talk to us, you know whatever you say will just stay between us.”
Prophet sighed and shook his head.
Then Doc was opening the door and stepping out to join them, “He’s awake. I have him on some pretty strong painkillers and gave him a light sedative to calm him down so I could take the vent out without hurting him. He might be a little out of it, but he’s responsive if you want to see him.”
Yep. That’s it. We’ll see about that brain damage and Gale’s pick-up next chapter. Soo… Yeah. That’s it. Reagan and Skye are Coffee Monsta’s creation given in part to Prophet’s back-story that she’s writing. So big thanks to her for that. And Tip is the service dog he trained himself and ended up keeping out of both want and necessity (at the time, he doesn’t really /need/ her anymore, but she still helps him with anxiety and shit).
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 11: Old Meets New
So it took me way longer than it should've to start this chapter. I was trying to work on To Dust, but I couldn't really get anywhere with that either. So we're back here for now. Thanks to Coffee Monsta, Anaihs(AO3), and TheShadeOps for your reviews. Also I realized I messed up last chapter. Skylar is tall and lanky, Reagan is short and built.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Prophet let out a relieved breath as he stepped into the room and saw Jay’s eyes shift over to him. He raised his hand a little and let it fall again, a sort of weak wave.
“Hey,” Prophet greeted quietly, walking over to Jay's bedside and taking his hand.
Jay's eyes followed him as he moved and Jay didn't respond for a moment, “Sorry I scared you like that, Nate.”
Nathan shrugged, “Do you remember what happened?”
Jay squinted, “I… remember the grenade, and getting thrown. That didn't hurt too much, but it dazed me. After that it's bits and pieces. Mostly I just remember not being able to breathe, and you being scared out of your wits,” he chuckled a little but it dissolved into a cough, “yelling at Chemo to do something.”
“Are you okay?” Nathan asked nervously, with a hand on Jay's shoulder.
“Yeah, I'm alright, you mean the coughing? Don't worry about it, it's a long story but it's part of the recovery,” Jay assured, then gestured at the glass wall allowing Doc to monitor him while tending to his other duties, “You gonna tell me who they are? And why there's a dog in the infirmary?”
“Oh, uh, yeah. Those are my old friends, Reagan and Skylar, and the dog is the service dog I trained, Tip,” Nathan explained, gesturing for them to come in.
Jay saw the taller of the two women make a gesture and her lips move as she gave the dog a command. The dog sat obediently and she entered behind the shorter one.
Skylar waved shyly and Reagan grinned, “Hi, I'm Reagan, and Miss Tall-and-Beautiful over here is my wife, Skylar.”
Jay nodded his greeting at them, but didn't say anything, he was tired and didn't feel much like talking anymore.
Reagan was quick to keep talking, not letting Jay's silence make things awkward, “Alright we introduced ourselves, we'll let you rest. Sky and I are gonna get some food. See you guys later,” she waved at Nate before leaving with Skylar.
Jay noted Skylar taking up Tip’s leash as they went and leading the dog away as well.
Jay's eyes widened suddenly with a realization, “Nate, where’s my ring?”
“The little box! It was in my pocket, it always is!” Jay was starting to panic.
“Hey, hey,” Prophet put a hand on his shoulder, “I’m sure Doc has it.”
At that moment the pink-haired nurse poked her head in.
“Hi~” She chirped, stepping in, “Special delivery.”
Redheart smiled sweetly as she approached Jay and pulled the small, velvety, black box from her pocket and tucked it into Jay's hand, the one Prophet wasn't holding.
Jay let out a breath as he gripped it, “Thank you, Red.”
She winked at him, “You bet. Now… how are you feeling?”
“Been better…” Jay commented blandly with a cough.
Redheart smiled and laughed a little as she checked the monitors Jay was hooked up to, “Well you're certainly looking better than when they brought you in.”
Jay nodded, “I don't doubt it,” he replied, squeezing Prophet’s hand lightly, “What about my gear?”
“Your kit is cleaned and stocked and on your desk. I wouldn't know about the rest, someone took it to the armory to be repaired. You didn't have it when you came in,” Redheart answered simply, “Now, on to even more serious business. You weren't breathing for at least six minutes. Three to pass out, and the crew report says it took three to get you breathing. By all rights you should be in an oxygen mask, but Doc says…”
Prophet watched blankly as the nurse delved into talk of blood oxygen levels and something about his diaphragm and some kind of code? before coming back into territory he understood. But it was Jay who spoke when she was done.
“Six minutes…” he breathed, leaning back into the pillows behind him, “Brain damage happens after five…” He didn't really need to say that, Prophet and Redheart both knew, he just had and he wasn't sure why except that he was terrified of what that meant for him.
She gave him a sympathetic smile, “First impression says you're fine…” she offered, “But you’ll still have to take the tests… just to be sure…”
Jay swallowed thickly and nodded in response.
“In the meantime I suggest you get some rest. I'll have some food and water brought in for you later,” Redheart finished and Jay simply nodded again, gripping Nathan's hand and the ring box tightly.
“It'll be alright Jason…” Nathan assured once they were alone again.
Jay's eyes were closed and for a moment Prophet thought he'd fallen asleep, then they opened again, hazy and glassy as he fought to keep the tears from falling.
“I can't remember his voice …” he choked, the tears welling up and falling.
The adrenaline had worn off about half an hour ago. And in that time, Gale, who had only broken a bone once or twice in his whole twenty-seven years, was in excruciating pain. Not only from his arm, but also from his chest, his left leg, and his head. Johnson however seemed perfectly fine. Lucky bastard.
No amount of ‘Tough Australian Blood’ could save him from the perils of a plane crash, Johnson had teased while using their meager medical supplies to do what he could for Gale’s injuries. Unfortunately no painkillers they had were strong enough to be of any help.
At the moment Gale was watching the skies through the shattered windows of the cockpit from his seat while Johnson kept watch for any curious Russians with guns. The fire had burnt out fairly quickly and was much smaller than Gale had first thought it was. It left a clear opening for anyone curious to come and investigate the crash. There was cover for anyone approaching, but the two stranded pilots were out of luck, all they could hope to do was play dead and pray no one took a closer look at the wreck.
“Gale! We got company!” Johnson shouted from the back.
Gale groaned, they each had a pdw and a pistol of course, but Gale really didn't feel like moving to take up the defensive positions they'd agreed on.
“Are they armed?” Gale called back.
“Looks like it,” Johnson answered, stepping into the cockpit.
Gale sighed and used his good arm to push himself up and out of his seat, “Alright… let's take our positions and hope they just move on.”
Gale moved to the length of wall on the right side of the entrance to the cockpit and sat down, resting his weapon at the ready in case someone entered the cockpit. Johnson took up the left side after taking the black box and stowing it in a hidden compartment.
They sat there for a while and for a second Gale thought maybe they'd decided to just leave the wreck be. But of course that wouldn't be the case. The black box held information they could use to trace the 141 back to where they came from and where they were going and where they had dropped the team. That was tactical information Gale could not let them have. And of course the Russians would want it. It wasn't too long until he heard people boarding the downed plane. It was almost silent as they looked around the cargo hold, probably finding evidence of the team they'd dropped.
Then a voice shouted in Russian and Gale tensed. Those sounded like orders. Gale couldn't know what those orders were, but it was easy enough to guess.
It started with one. One Russian soldier walking cautiously into the cockpit. Looking for three things in particular: the bodies of the two pilots, and the black box. He checked the right corner first.
Before he could yell, Johnson crept up behind him and covered his mouth to keep him quiet and pulled him back as he killed him. Gale gave him a nod as he let the body down slowly, minimizing the noise. But the soldier had kicked as he died and his steel toe boot had connected with the wall, resulting in a rather significant bang .
Gale shifted into a ready position, wincing as his ribs shifted and he put too much weight on his left leg, efficiently toppling himself over to land on his right arm, which caused enough pain that he yelled. Johnson had to force himself not to move to help Gale as he picked himself up.
Two came in next, while Gale was still trying to pick himself up. Johnson took a few shots to dispense of them before they could shoot Gale as he righted himself.
Gale was prepared when three more entered in rapid succession and was able to use his pistol to defend himself.
MThere was more Russian shouting. Then a canister was thrown into the cockpit and Gale looked at it a split second before realizing what it was and shielding his eyes in time for the deafening bang that left his ears ringing.
Johnson wasn't so lucky, he was blinded and deafened and fell back as the rest of the Russians stormed in. There were five that Gale could see. He had a twelve shot pistol and he'd fired three. That left him with nine. Should be plenty, unless he missed. Gale hoped he wouldn't miss. He leveled the pistol and took the first two shots. They were good. Two Russians went down. He aimed for a third and snapped the shot off. Miss. Shit . He fired again and hit him that time. Three down two left. But they were getting close. The ringing in his ears was dying down though. Which meant Johnson should be recovering from the flash bang. The two Russians were approaching Gale when Johnson managed to shake off the lingering effects of the flashbang and shoot the remaining two.
Nathan realized two things with Jay's confession. The first, was that Jay had at least some brain damage. It took two months to forget a voice and Jay had told him that he remembered Rhys’ voice because of the nightmares he had every night. It might be a broken version of the voice, but it was still his voice, and Nathan knew for a fact that Jay had been having the nightmares the day before, before they even left the base.
The second realization was much more cutting. That was why Jay had avoided help. That was why Jay had been so hostile when they first met. That was why he kept quiet about something he had clearly needed help with. He didn't want help. He didn't want the nightmares to stop. They were one of the few pieces of Rhys he still had, and he didn't want to lose them.
Nathan left after Jay fell asleep. He knew Jay would be afraid and confused if he woke up alone, but he needed some time to think over what he could do to help Jay remember. It was there, Jay had said, somewhere, in the back of his head, he just couldn't remember . Nathan sighed as he entered the mess hall, eyes scanning for his friends who waved him over after he got his food.
“Hey, I thought you'd be staying with Jay?” Reagan asked curiously.
“Needed some time to think everything over…” Nate responded, eating slowly.
“Did something happen?” Sky asked, sneaking a piece of food to the dog under the table.
Nathan sighed, “It's a long story…”
Whelp. That happened. Yes I did have to hammer some more angst in. That was totally not necessary. Gale and Johnson fought off a horde of angry Russians with guns and Gale is apparently more hurt than he thought. But they're chill waiting for Nikolai to pick them up. So… yeah that's all folks. Hope you enjoyed.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 12: Voices
Hello. Mmm. This time we’ll be starting off with a little something and it might be a little confusing but just stick with me alright? It'll sort itself out shortly. Thanks to Coffee Monsta and TheShadeOps for your reviews.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
The first thing Jay registered was grey. Everything was just so grey. It was ash, he realized, but… he couldn’t smell fire or the aftermath of one. There was ash, drifting like snow, and trees, pines and firs, covered in it. But everything smelled so… fresh… and clean… Just like a fir forest should smell.
There was noise… something he couldn’t quite hear, there in the back of his mind, nagging at him, trying to claw his attention to it. He followed, listened. Voices. Quiet and murmuring. Jay focused, listened, trying to make out what they were saying as he turned, searching for their source, but he was alone. A whine escaped from the back of his throat. He hated being alone. So he closed his eyes and listened. The voices were there somewhere. He could hear them now, muttering and whispering, as if now trying to avoid his attention, talk behind his back.
Jay caught a few words. A few, stinging words. Things he realized he actually heard quite often. They were talking about him, picking out whatever personality traits they didn’t like and twisting them and turning them and making them bad . He was this and that and things he just wasn’t and never would be. Jay frowned at a few who swore he would never amount to anything. That he was a terrible medic and shouldn’t be trusted to save lives. Jay shook them off, though, he had saved lives, many of them. He was good enough. But good enough isn’t enough. Jay groaned opening his eyes and looked about.
The voices were growing louder. Moving on from torments to… things Jay honestly tried not to think, but failed. It was your fault. He’s dead because of you. It should have been you. Why did you let him die. I thought you loved him? Jay bit his lip, turning in frantic circles now, hoping to find a source, something he could blame, someone he could yell his frustrations at. He breathed faster and faster, walking now, searching, looking for whoever, or whatever , was in his head, ready to yell at them to get the fuck out and leave him alone. But of course, he was alone. There was no one else in the forest. The voices were yelling now, blaming him and chastising him. The voices were muddy and mixed and muddled, he couldn’t make anything out. They were just voices. Ones he thought he might recognize, but no, they were too jumbled and mixed. Voices screamed at him and blamed him, others whispered and devalued him.
Jay fell to his knees, covering his ears, just wanting it to stop. And then he picked one voice out. It was familiar, but he just didn’t know. He got up and started walking. It got louder. It was different from the rest. It talked about his art and his loyalty and his strength and his dedication and smarts. He ran. He tried to get closer to it, figure out who this voice belonged to and hug them and love them and never let go. It struck him as black tendrils seeped out of the ashy grass and wrapped around his legs, pulling him down and back, forcing him back into the pit of hurtful words. Rhys.
Jay fought, clawed at the grass in attempt to get free and get to Rhys. but tendrils seeped out of that grass too, and wrapped around his hands and arms and pulled him back and down and under and away, away, away. All while he cried and screamed and clawed.
When Prophet entered the infirmary and approached the glass wall of Jay's ICU room he was surprised to see that an oxygen mask had been placed over his face.
Doc passed by, giving a distracted greeting as he checked the tablet he used to keep his patients and paperwork organized.
Prophet called after him, “Doc…” he gestured to Jay, still asleep but now with a mask over half his face, “What changed?”
“He wasn't getting enough oxygen. He can force himself to push it when he's awake, but fact is his diaphragm is weak now, his chest won't expand as much as it used to for a while. Have to start him on some breathing exercises soon to help with that,” Doc explained, tucking the tablet under his arm as he observed Jay as well.
Prophet simply gave a thoughtful hum in response and watched Jay breathe. He sighed as Doc left and he entered the room, he still didn't have a clue how to help Jay remember Rhys’ voice. Of course, he knew how to deal with amnesia, but there was no guarantee that this would be temporary. He sat down in the chair next to the bed and rested his hand over Jay's.
He vaguely noticed his music still playing softly in the background. He knew sensory details-music, smells, pictures, even tastes-could help restore lost memories. In an ideal situation he'd have a recording of Rhys. Of course, this was not an ideal situation and they didn't live in an ideal world. Jay didn't have a recording. No old voicemails, no recorded phone calls or video chats or just plain videos. Nothing . Prophet sighed and rested his forehead against the edge of the bed. All Jay had were pictures, a ring, and a note. He'd seen photographs taped to pages and redrawn in his sketchbook when he had snuck a look over Jay's shoulder. The ring box was still clutched in Jay's left hand. Prophet wasn't sure where Jay kept Rhys’ letter.
Prophet got up again, not really sure what his plan was or if he even had one. He left the infirmary and headed for his and Jay's room. There, he fished Jay's sketchbook out of the drawer and grabbed a pencil and eraser from it as well. If Jay was going to be stuck in bed for a while, Prophet was sure he'd appreciate something to do.
Gale was back in his seat with his helmet in his lap. He hadn't gotten there without help, though and he could feel Johnson staring at him.
“Oh stop your mother-henning,” Gale complained, “This sucks but it's not as bad as my first crash.”
“Maybe not, but we're not out of the woods yet,” Johnson replied.
Gale hummed, “Go keep watch will ya, NJ…”
Johnson chuckled, “Yeah, yeah, you just keep on watching your clouds, Liam ,” he teased.
Gale rolled his eyes, but he did watch. He watched the clouds roll and shift, he watched the sky change, he read the story the sky deigned to share with him.
It was an uneventful few more hours before Gale caught sight of Nikolai’s chopper. Uneventful for Johnson at least, Gale was always fascinated by the stories the sky shared with him, they could mock him all they wanted, but they'd never know the sky’s stories. Gale pulled himself from his thoughts as Johnson came up to him, offering an arm as Nikolai got closer.
When Jay woke up it was slow. His eyes blinked open, bleary and slow, still weighed down by the sleep and painkillers.
“Hey Bluejay,” Prophet greeted once Jay seemed properly awake, “How you feeling?”
Jay grunted tiredly and pulled the oxygen mask back from his face, “Headache… and… I had a nightmare? I think…” he grunted again and sat up slowly, shifting so that he could recline back and wake up some more.
Prophet passed him a cup of water that had been placed nearby and Jay sipped at it in silence for a moment, seeming to collect his thoughts.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Prophet offered, giving Jason every chance to refuse and simply keep thinking about it.
Jay shrugged, “It’s… a little hazy… Voices, lots of voices, I couldn’t tell you what they were saying… I don’t think it was anything good… I couldn’t make any of them out really, but there was one… I almost had it… I think…” Jay blinked slowly a couple times before squeezing his eyes shut, “I can’t remember…”
“It’s alright, Jay, dreams and nightmares are hard to remember,” Nathan patted his arm, taking the empty cup and placing it back on the side table.
Jay simply sighed, fidgeting a bit and working his hand around the ring box.
Prophet held out the sketchbook, “I thought you’d like something to do while you’re stuck here.”
“Thanks…” Jay took it lightly and flipped it open to a random page, looking at the picture taped there for a moment before he continued flipping.
Jay was on his feet three days later, unsteady and slow after so long confined to a bed. He started exercising, Redheart keeping a close eye on him to ensure he didn’t over do it as he was so prone to doing, and was soon able to pass his physical tests. All that was left was the mental ones. Those were the ones that had Jay nervous. He quizzed himself every moment he wasn’t preoccupied with other things.
Jay was currently waiting anxiously for the results of the test of his medical knowledge. He’d already passed the mental health one. Jay had been confident in his answers, but there was still that nagging feeling in the back of his head that told him he’d fail and lose everything. That, Nathan had assured him, was just anxiety, and had no weight on how he’d actually done. Nathan had then gone on to mutter about ‘just anxiety’ being an oxymoron.
Doc came in soon after and Jay looked at him expectantly, he didn’t waste any time on ‘suspense’, “You have a perfect score, Jay, you’re clear for active duty.”
Jay fell back against his seat with a relieved breath and Prophet chuckled, “Told ya so.”
“Shut up, you,” Jay muttered.
Doc laughed and patted Jay’s knee before leaving.
“C’mon, Bluejay I’m sure you’re excited to get back to work,” Nathan offered a hand and Jay took it as he got up.
“You don’t have to come y’know. I know it’s not the most exciting thing in the world watching me work out,” Jay commented, leading the way out of the infirmary and towards the gym.
“Oh I don’t know about that,” Nathan grinned, “You do have a nice body.”
Jay flushed and raised an eyebrow at him.
“What?! It’s true!” Nathan laughed.
Jay rolled his eyes and chuckled as they entered the gym. He stopped, however, when he saw who it was occupied by, and crossed his arms
Jay cleared his throat to get the men’s attention and Gale turned and smiled sheepishly.
Jay frowned at him, “What are you doing, Gale?” He leveled his most pointed glare at him.
Gale’s right arm was wrapped and in a sling and he favored his left leg, all results of his crash landing in Russia.
Gale looked at Johnson out of the corner of his eye, who was also glaring at him.
“Uhh…” Gale chuckled nervously.
Jay sighed and shook his head and looked at Johnson, “And what made you think it was a good idea to let him go along with this?”
“Tried to stop him…” he sighed, “but I couldn’t very well leave this idiot to his own devices. You know how Australians are,” he commented as if that would explain everything, but with a smile that clearly said he was teasing his friend.
Jay shook his head, “Gale… really… you’re gonna be grounded longer if you keep stressing your arm, go see Doc, make sure you haven’t screwed yourself over.”
Gale sighed and did as he was told, Johnson following.
Prophet chuckled, “Not ten minutes back in the saddle and you’re already putting people in their place.”
Jay grunted and moved forward into the gym, “Would’ve yelled at him even I wasn’t cleared yet. Doc showed me the x-ray, it was a pretty nasty break. Probably hurt like hell.”
Prophet hummed his response and leaned against the wall as Jay hopped up to grab the pull-up bar.
He turned towards the entrance again as someone else entered and smiled.
“Hey Reagan!” He greeted and knelt down to pet Tip as the dog trotted over to him.
“Hey Nate, Jay. How’d the tests go?” She asked curiously, watching Jay go through the motions, doing pull-up after pull-up.
Nathan had caved and told her and her wife about his concerns about Jay being discharged, but without going into detail about why exactly, only saying that the job kept him stable.
Jay grunted his greeting, too occupied by his task to really pay attention.
“Doc cleared him,” Prophet answered for him with a grin.
“How long are you and Sky staying here anyway?” Prophet asked curiously.
“Oh Sky found an IT job in town, we’re moving into an apartment down the block from base! I was just coming to let you know!” Reagan answered, practically hopping on the balls of her feet.
Jay dropped from the bar at that, “That’s good news. I’m sure Nate will be happy to have you three here,” he ruffled Tip’s fur as he emphasized three.
Nathan smiled widely and hugged Reagan, “It’s great news!”
Tip barked happily, sensing the excitement in the room. Jay simply ruffled her fur some more before walking over to the treadmills.
Reagan, as a professional fitness trainer herself, had been helping Jay regain his form. He hadn’t been attending the Task Force’s daily physical training sessions, he wasn’t up to it yet, but he was getting there.
“How long have you been at it today?” She asked as he started at an easy jog
“Just started,” he answered, “Twenty pull-ups before you came in. Would’ve done more, but,” he simply shrugged.
Reagan nodded, “A mile and a half?”
“Was gonna do two.”
She nodded, “Just don’t overdo it,” she warned and Jay raised an eyebrow at her.
Prophet chuckled, “He chewed Gale out for overdoing it when we came in.”
She smiled, “Of course he did he’s the one that has to deal with him if he fucks himself up. I’ve trained doctors before, Nate,” she shook her head, “They do not listen. Always pushing harder than they need to.”
“I can hear you,” Jay commented, keeping his eyes forward as he jogged.
Well that was fun. Gale’s an idiot who just really likes the sky. Reagan and Skylar are sticking around. Johnson was supposed to be a one-off, but I decided to keep him too. And you’re probably curious about the NJ bit, his name is Nick Johnson, so Gale calls him NJ sometimes. And NJ calls him Liam back. So… yeah… Review? Pretty please?
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 13: Holding Ground
Woo okay it’s actually been a while since I worked on this. I got caught up with the collab with TheShadeOps (which you guys should totally check out, it’s called All or Nothing and we’re grinding out chapters like a well oiled machine). Okay well I feel like I’ve missed some major characterization for Jay in this, so we’re gonna go through some filler missions and things to get that in. So, filler but important filler. Let’s get on with it shall we?
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Jay would never admit to being glad to be in a briefing. And also being glad that Prophet wasn’t. Shrinks didn’t belong in the field.
Archer and Toad were leading the mission and briefing, standing shoulder to shoulder as they talked through the motions. Jay smirked at the barely there touches and looks. He’d been involved in enough of them to know, but these two were clearly trying to be discrete so Jay pretended to see nothing and focused on the briefing.
“We picked up some radio chatter coming in and out of this base’s comms. Makarov’s name came up quite a lot and it seems he’s going to be stopping by for an inspection tomorrow. That’s when we strike. It’s an opportunity we can’t miss. The rest of the Task Force is following a different lead, so it’s just us,” Archer said looking around at the assembled team.
Jay looked as well. The team consisted of himself, Archer, Toad, Scarecrow, Ozone, Royce, and Rook. It was a small team to be taking on the Kingfish himself.
As if reading his mind, Archer spoke again, “I know we’d all rather have a much larger team, but we’re all we’ve got and the window is closing quickly. We act now or he lives another day and continues his warpath.”
“Right,” Toad continued, stepping up and turning on the projector, “We’ll be spread thin, but we can make this work.” The projector lit up the whiteboard with a map and Toad picked up an expo marker and drew three red Xs on the map, “Archer and I will be set up here on overwatch keeping you guys covered and guiding you,” he said, gesturing to the one furthest from the base on the map, it was on a high cliff. He pointed at another, to the east of the base in a thicket of trees, “Jay and Rook will infiltrate through here,” he drew a dashed line to mark the path they’d take, “Archer and I will have a hard time covering you two until you get clear of the forest, but there’s plenty of cover. Keep our medic safe Rook, we only have the one,” everyone, Jay included, chuckled at that before Toad continued and pointed at the final red x, “The rest of you will drop here. It’s pretty open, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to sneak in. They won’t be expecting us. Once inside, both teams will place charges linked to a detonator Archer will be carrying. Place them inside buildings, on vehicles, fueling stations, and main roads. If you think it’ll make a big bang, put a charge on it. Once you’ve done that get out and rendezvous here,” he drew a circle in red outside the base in the tree line, “Archer and I will watch for the convoy Makarov will be with and blow the charges when he’s in. Once the chaos starts, you lot will have to go back in and confirm the kill. We fight our way out from there to here,” he drew a square over an open field to the west, “Questions?”
“Who’s our pilot?” Rook asked curiously.
“Does it matter?” Archer responded and shook his head, “Gale is flying infil and exfil, he’s already been briefed.”
Jay raised an eyebrow, “Hope his copilot is good…” he commented idly, drawing the attention of the others, “He had a pretty nasty break in his arm. And his hip dislocated. Sure he’s recovered by now, but still. He’s probably stiff.”
Archer nodded his understanding, “I’m sure it won’t be a problem.”
Jay shrugged and motioned for the briefing to continue.
“What if Kingfish doesn’t show?” Scarecrow asked.
“Then we have the pleasure of taking down an enemy base,” Archer answered and with that, there were no more questions.
Jay knelt in the snow of the forest next to Rook.
Rook keyed his comm, “Echo team in position.”
“ Kilo team in position,” Scarecrow responded quickly.
“ Sniper team one in position, ” Archer replied, “ Move in. ”
Rook and Jay moved forward wordlessly, taking care to watch their step and avoid patrols. It was an hour of sneaking through ankle deep snow before they came to the edge of the forest and base.
“Echo team holding at rally point bravo,” Jay said quietly into his comm.
“ Copy Echo team, I’ve got you in my sights. Hold for Kilo,” Archer responded smoothly.
Half an hour later Scarecrow’s voice came through the comm, “ Kilo team holding at rally point bravo.”
“Copy Kilo team, got you in my sights. Echo and Kilo teams you are clear to move forward to point charlie,” Archer replied again.
Rook and Jay moved forward smoothly, ducking in cover as a patrol passed by. They moved slowly, placing their charges on vehicles they passed by.
Jay keyed his comm once they had placed all of their charges, “Echo team moving to rendezvous.”
“ Copy Echo team, stay safe we’re covering Kilo,” Archer responded.
“Copy Sniper Team. Keep ‘em covered and safe for me,” Jay responded, “Echo team out.”
“Sniper team, eh?” A thickly accented voice said from behind them and Jay winced and cursed under his breath before turning to see the Russian behind them, “Where might they be?”
Jay shifted in front of Rook and glared at the Russian soldier.
The Russian shrugged and reached for his radio. Jay launched himself at him to stop him. He was thrown to the ground quickly but Rook was right behind him. The noise however quickly drew more soldiers to their location and Jay was on his feet and in the fray quickly.
“Rook! Go!” Jay yelled as he was wrestled to the ground by two men.
Rook, backing up from the fight seemed reluctant, but turned and ran.
Jay fought his way from underneath the two much larger men and kicked one in the head before taking a heavy fist to the gut that winded and staggered him. He regained his senses in time to dodge the butt of a rifle aimed for his head. He grabbed it as it flew past him and wrestled it from the man holding it turning it on him and three others before one tackled him from the side and tore it away from him. His head lashed back into the concrete before he could stop it and he grimaced, dazed for a moment as he got up slowly. There were at least five surrounding him, there was no winning this fight, but Jay had no intention of giving up just because he couldn’t win.
He launched himself at the first person he saw, only to be grabbed around the chest and thrown down again. He was halfway up before he took a knee to the ribs that sent him back down. A light splt accented one of his attackers falling dead. Archer. One of them hauled him up and wrapped an arm around his neck. Before Jay knew what had happened there was a pistol to his head and two more had fallen, leaving just two attackers including the one holding him. The other also had his weapon trained on him, finger on the trigger. There were no more silenced shots to save him. One shot could cause his captors’ muscles to tighten around their triggers and spell his death.
“ Jay,” Archer’s voice cut over the comms, “ On the count of three, flip him.”
Jay gripped the forearm on his neck tightly as Archer started counting. On three Jay put a grounding foot back and wrenched the gun from his face as he flipped the larger man over his shoulder. The surprise caused both to fire their weapons, even as they fell with Archer and Toad’s bullets in them. Three bullets were stopped by Jay’s Kevlar and the rest hit the ground harmlessly. Jay fell to one knee, a hand to his chest as he coughed. Those would leave a mark. He got up slowly, giving a thumbs up towards his saviors, before wobbling and putting a hand to his head. Jay figured he had a concussion from having his head lash back into solid concrete and used the wall to support him as he made his way to the edge of the base. Alarms were blaring, giving him a massive migraine. The Russian’s guns hadn’t been silenced and now the whole base was on alert.
“ Jay keep moving I’ve got you covered,” Archer said over comms.
“What about Kilo?” Jay questioned as he went.
“ They’re at the rendezvous ,” Archer assured, “ don’t stop moving.”
“ I won’t,” Jay answered simply, stumbling a little as he picked up his pace.
Before long Rook was by his side, helping him into the cover of the trees.
“We’re clear Sniper Team,” Scarecrow said unto his comm as Rook sat Jay down against a tree.
“ Right on time. Convoy inbound,” It was Toad that spoke this time, “ Be advised Echo and Kilo, you’ve got chasers coming.”
“Noted,” Ozone commented, readying his weapon.
Jay shifted, pulling his pistol out, his rifle having been taken in the fight.
Rook pushed him back down shaking his head, “No way, mate, you barely managed to walk out of there, you’re not shooting with a concussion that bad.”
Jay frowned at him, “I’m fine, Rook,” he argued.
“Humor me,” Rook replied, holding his hand out, gesturing for Jay to give him the pistol.
Jay sighed and handed it over.
“You’re bleeding, by the way,” Rook commented, putting the weapon in his own holster and tapping the back of his head.
Jay reached around and felt his head, pulling his hand away to see the blood on the tips of his fingers. He sighed, “Damnit…” he cursed under his breath. He slid his pack off his shoulder and set it on the ground next to him.
He rifled through it, pulling out a gauze pad soaked in alcohol and pressing it to the wound with a hiss, wiping away the dried blood and tossing the pad to the ground after a moment, replacing it with a dry one.
There was gunfire as the others took care of their chasers, but Jay ignored it in favor of watching their backs.
The first and last thing Jay saw when he turned to widen his field of view was the butt of a rifle heading right for his face. It connected and Jay fell back in the snow with a heavy grunt. He shifted slowly, dazed and confused, he managed to lift himself part way up before the butt of the rifle connected again and he fell back in the snow, unconscious.
“Drop your weapons!” The Russian sergeant commanded, dropping the unconscious medic on the ground in front of him and aiming his pistol at the prone man’s back, “Or your comrade dies.”
Rook was the first to turn, weapon ready and trained on the sergeant.
“ Echo, Kilo, what’s your status, the convoy is nearing point delta,” Archer spoke over the comms.
Royce answered, “We have a bit of a situation ourselves Sniper Team One…” he replied lowly. “Jay’s down. They’re using him as a bargaining chip…”
There was a long pause, filled only with the Russian shouting his commands again.
“ Copy Kilo, I don’t have eyes on. Stall if you can we’ll see what we can do,” Archer responded.
“Negative, keep on the objective… we’ll figure something out…” Ozone cut in.
“Shut up!” One if the Russians commanded, “Do not move! Drop your weapons and get on your knees!”
Jay groaned, shifting slightly from his position on the ground. The sergeant planted a foot on the medic’s back and Jay turned his face to look at the man.
“Wh…” Jay groaned and squeezed his eyes shut, starting to push himself up slowly.
The Russian shouted at him, “Derzhis'!” He pressed harder on Jay’s back, forcing him back down.
Jay, dizzy and confused stayed put this time.
The fireworks started a few terse moments later, explosions going off all at once and the base going up in flames. In the Russian soldier’s shock, the rest of the team made quick work of them.
Rook shoved the dead sergeant off of Jay and helped him up slowly, “You alright mate?”
Jay grunted, “Got a wicked headache… What happened?”
“Dunno,” Rook replied, “They must have gotten the drop on you.”
He tried to stand under his own power, only for the world to spin faster, falling back into Rook’s support.
“Easy! I’ve got you,” Rook urged.
Jay groaned with a hand to his head, “Dizzy…”
Rook lowered him to the ground carefully, sitting him against the tree, “Take it easy, the others’ll finish up delta and then we can head for exfil.”
Jay grimaced as his stomach twisted and he turned and emptied the contents of his stomach on the ground next to him. He coughed and grimaced, wiping his mouth on his sleeve before he sat back with a groan.
Rook simply patted his shoulder sympathetically. They could hear the echo of gunfire from their position, and Jay itched to be there with the others, keeping them covered, being there in case one of them went down, but he could barely stand up straight without feeling like he was gonna topple over and pass out. That would be less than ideal. So he stayed put with Rook, his head resting back on the tree, eyes squeezed shut as he tried to make everything stop spinning.
Moments later their comms came to life again and Jay had to force himself not to mute it in favor of his migraine, “ Negative ID on Makarov, repeat negative ID! No sign of Kingfish, he wasn’t with the convoy ,” Royce shouted over the comms.
Archer cursed lowly, “ Copy Kilo team, pull back and rendezvous with Echo team for exfil .”
Prophet left the command center after only a few moments of listening in on the op, it had given him an idea. Jay, still struggling to remember that voice he’d forgotten, had gone back to sleeping on the top bunk, claiming that he was too used to sleeping alone now and slept better there. Prophet knew it was a lie, he just wanted the nightmares back so that he could remember. Sitting in the command center reminded him, there were audio recordings of every single op from over the communications links. There had to be a recording somewhere with Rhys’ voice, he’d just have to find it.
He started in the personnel records, looking for the team Jay had been transferred in from. The file wasn’t difficult to find and Prophet was soon in contact with Jack, Jay’s former squad leader.
“Hello?” Jack answered after the second ring and Prophet took a breath.
“This is Doctor Nathan Wolf, I’m calling about the medic that transferred out of your squad recently…” he said slowly.
“Jay? Did something happen?” Jack seemed nervous and Prophet scratched the back of his head.
“Well… yes and no, not what you’re thinking I’m sure. He’s just…”
“Depressed,” Jack finished for him, “Yeah, I know. What can I do for you doc?”
“I need a mission recording. Doesn’t matter what, just has to have,” he checked the paper for the rank and last name, “Corporal Allen’s voice.”
There was a long silence, “He forgot didn’t he…” Jack sighed, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Prophet thanked him and they exchanged information to have the recording sent to before hanging up. Prophet sighed, leaning back in his seat.
Jack, hundreds of miles away, was mirroring Prophet’s actions as he hung up. Finally, he could do something rather than sit by and watch his medic fall to pieces. He got to work quickly, sorting through old mission reports and recordings that had been archived upon Rhys’ death.
Jay was ushered off to the infirmary as the helicopter landed and Gale and NJ began their post-flight routine.
Jay grimaced as Doc shined the penlight in his eyes and swatted it away, “You already know it’s a concussion and you already know it’s not good. Is that really necessary?” He asked pointedly, squinting at Doc, trying to turn three people back into one.
Doc simply chuckled and shook his head as he put the light away. Jay grunted and felt sick again. He leaned back, squeezing his eyes closed, and focused on his breath.
Doc patted his leg and said something Jay didn’t really hear before walking off.
Jay sighed and opened his eyes, “Nate?” He asked curiously at the smiling face in front of him.
“I’ve been trying to wake you up for like ten minutes, Bluejay… you okay?”
Jay grunted and waved dismissively, “Concussed, badly… I’ll be fine in a day or two…”
Prophet hummed thoughtfully, “Alright, come on, let’s get you to bed…” he said, helping Jay get to his feet slowly, “And after you have a nap, Doc gave me some meds for you to take when you feel up for it.”
Prophet got an email that night containing an audio recording. He listened to it in the hallway to avoid waking Jay.
He smiled fondly as he listened. There was so much love packed into that voice. This would do perfectly. He emailed the sender back, thanking him for finding the recording for him.
Chapter 14: Theory
And we are now down to the wire. I still feel like I’m missing big parts of Jay’s character so hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze it in at some point. For reference if any of you could describe Jay’s character as you see it, it would be very helpful. Thanks to Coffee Monsta for your review (and prodding to get moving on this xD). So I had a plan for this, but then changed it, so the original plan might get written and posted separately. Also skipping the part with the trucks leaving because where tf did those javelins come from snipers don’t carry fuckin’ rocket launchers.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Nathan had decided that with Jay suffering from a concussion, it would be best to wait until he was recovered to present the recording to him, and now that Jay was returning to work, he could think of no better time.
“Hey, Jay, hold up a sec,” Nate hopped up from his bunk as Jay prepared to leave and held up the device he’d loaded the recording on, “I got you something,” he smiled as he handed it to Jay.
“What is it?” Jay asked curiously, inspecting the audio playback device. It was old fashioned, but seemed reliable enough.
“A solution to your problems,” Nate answered with a smile, “Press play.”
Jay shrugged and pressed the button.
“I love you Jaybird… I’ll be home in time for dinner tomorrow,” Rhys’ voice was cut by static and Jay nearly dropped the device.
“I love you too, Ry, stay safe,” Jay’s own voice responded, less distorted, but still with the staticky overlay, “Don’t make me go out there to get you.”
Rhys chuckled, “I won’t… and Jason… get some sleep. No falling asleep at your desk tonight, sleep in a bed , okay? I gotta go… I’ll see you soon, love you.”
There was a click and Jay’s eyes were watering as his voice came over the recording again, “Love you too Ry… miss you…”
Jay looked at Nathan, “How’d you get this?”
“Jack dug it up in the archives,” Prophet answered, “Now you don’t need those nightmares anymore. You have his voice, his real voice not that broken one from the nightmares.”
Jay nodded stiffly, “Thank you, Nate, I needed this…”
“I know…” Nathan wrapped an arm around Jay’s shoulders, “I hope it helps.”
Jay leaned into the contact for a moment before stepping back and wiping his face on his sleeve with a nod, “It will. Thanks… I gotta get to work, I’ll see you later.” With that, Jay left, Prophet smiling after him.
The next time they saw each other was in the briefing room. The room was packed with the entirety of the Task Force with Shepherd himself at the head, flanked by one of his assistants. He, MacTavish, Ghost, and Price appeared to be discussing things in hushed tones.
Jay, having been busy in the infirmary was the last to arrive.
“What’s going on?” Jay asked as he squeezed in next to Prophet, “Why’s the whole team here?”
“Makarov slipped up,” Prophet whispered back, “We have two locations. Georgia-Russia border, and a scrapyard in Afghanistan.”
Jay’s eyes widened in shock, “He ‘slipped up’ ? Remind me how long he’s been at this?”
“Corporal,” Shepherd said from the front as the others took their places, “Do you have a concern as CMO?”
“Yes, sir,” Jay answered, “It’s too convenient for someone as experienced as Makarov to just ‘slip up’. I feel we’re walking into where he wants us. We saw with Private Allen that he knows what we’re like, he knows our strategy and motivation, he’ll know we’re coming.”
“Noted,” Shepherd nodded at him, “but given the chance that you might be wrong, it’s a risk we’ll have to take.”
“Agreed, sir, I can only suggest caution and preparation,” Jay replied evenly.
“Duly noted,” Shepherd responded, “MacTavish?”
MacTavish stepped up to the head of the briefing, “We’ll be splitting into two strike teams. Ghost, Roach, Archer, Toad, Ozone, Scarecrow, and Jay, you’re taking the safehouse on the border. Prophet, you’ll be here, helping coordinate in the intel room, Meat and Royce will be with you, translating intercepted enemy comms. The rest of you are with me and Price in the boneyard. Split into your teams now. Ghost take yours to briefing room two to go over your plan. Prophet, Meat, Royce, head to intel start getting set up. Gale, you’re flying support for Ghost’s team, make your preparations and load for bear. We move out when everyone’s ready. Everyone clear?”
There was a chorus of yes sirs and MacTavish dismissed them to their preparations.
The plan was, in theory, simple, in practice, however plans didn’t exist. No plan ever survived first contact. Ever. That was simply the way things were. As Jay’s training sergeant had said: “Anything can go wrong, will go wrong, and if nothing has gone wrong you obviously don’t understand the situation.” Jay couldn’t agree more with that, but the plan, for the moment, was simple, but only in theory.
Land two klicks north east of the compound and approach via a hiking trail that lead a switchback trail down the cliff, Archer and Toad would set up there and the rest of them would wait until they got the signal from command confirming heat signatures at the location. Then they would move in fast and quiet through the trees and go loud once they hit the main road, due to the lack of cover, since they’d probably be spotted immediately at that point. From there it would be a simple sweep and clear.
Of course, it was only simple in theory.
Jay, recording device in his pocket with an earbud in his left ear, playing Rhys’ voice over and over, checked his weapon for what had to be the tenth time. For as much as it felt like a trap it also felt like it. Like Makarov would be there. And if he was, it would be a quick end to a long war. As much as Jay hesitated at hurting people, he would have no qualms with putting a round or two through the terrorist. He had killed thousands, maybe even a million. Regardless, the medic would show him no mercy.
Jay hesitated as the thought crossed his mind. Could he really be so cold? Sure the man deserved to die, but… Jay was hard set in his morals, everyone got the same treatment, regardless of uniform, belief, or nationality. He shook his head at himself, Makarov was different. He’d murdered thousands without a second thought. Had probably looked Allen in the eye as he murdered him. Makarov didn’t deserve his sympathy. Jay settled that he would indeed turn a blind eye if he saw the man suffering. Just as he’d done to the men, women, and children in the airport. There was no redemption for a man that evil, Jay would not care to give him the chance, as he did for others.
Jay sighed and touched the caduceus on his chest, and then the bright, red cross on his shoulder. The only thing they couldn’t take away from him. Jay drowned out the noise of the helicopter’s rotors as he recited what the staff on his chest stood for, what it meant to him. He realized as he did that he’d never answered Nate’s question about why it was so important.
“LZ in ten!” The voice over the comm in his right ear pulled him out of his head and he checked his kit and weapon one last time before switching the recorder off and tucking the earbud in the same pocket it was held in within his kit.
He shifted to a ready position and noticed eyes shifting away from him. Jay wondered why they’d been watching him and what they’d been thinking, but pushed it away as Gale lowered the Little Bird for a soft touch down before powering down.
“Have fun out there rock jumpers!” Gale shouted after them, “Kick some extra ass for me!”
The hike to the cliff trail took an hour, and by the time they got there Prophet was on the radio, informing them of heat signatures in the trees, most likely patrols. They stopped and waited while Archer and Toad took their positions.
“Snipers in position,” Archer’s voice was low.
“Strike team go. Engage Makarov on sight,” Ghost ordered, moving forward slowly, taking point.
Scarecrow and Ozone responded in their own turn.
“Let’s go. Let’s go,” Ghost repeated, moving faster with restless energy.
They were not far into the woods at the bottom when the first nine popped up and Roach dropped down as Ghost yelled ambush.
Jay saw one pop up next to him and he yanked the nearest man, Scarecrow, down with him. It went off above their heads and suddenly there was a hail of fire coming down from the cliffs they hadn’t come from and a smokescreen in front of them. Scarecrow and Ozone both apparently felt the need to keep yelling ambush, as if it wasn’t already obvious.
“Left side! Left side!” Ghost shouted as they returned fire.
Jay felt bullets zip past him and ducked behind a tree. He waited a moment before sprinting for the next cover, closer to his team. There was an explosion and Jay shielded himself from the rain of dirt and shrapnel.
“They’ve got this area presighted for mortar fire!” Scarecrow yelled over the chaos of battle.
“Counter attack into the smoke! Push, push, push!” Ghost ordered back, already running ahead.
Jay followed closely, covering their backs as a few stragglers tried to flank them. They pushed quickly up to the house and cleared the exterior before breaching the doors and clearing the main floor. Ghost sent Roach and Scarecrow down to the basement while he went upstairs with Ozone, leaving Jay to secure the main room.
Jay ignored the radio chatter once the house was clear. There was no sign of the Kingfish himself, but there were enough men here to make him wonder. So, while everyone else was occupied focusing on the conversation, Jay watched their backs. He listened with half an ear as Ghost gave out orders and Roach started the download. Jay set himself in the basement, making sure his team stayed safe at least from that angle.
There was a lull and Jay frowned and bit his lip before reaching for the comm in his ear, “Sniper Team One, check in.”
There was a shout and the click of a comm turning off and Jay was already off at a run when Ghost gave the order for him to go check it out.
A few of the Russians simply ignored him, Jay guessed they’d seen the red cross on his shoulder. It was technically a war crime to shoot at him. The ones that did stand in his way did not stand long. Jay knew his importance and held his mission in high regard, no one was going to stop him. He would defend himself and make it to the pair of snipers. He made it quickly to where they were supposed to be and keyed his comm.
“They’re gone,” Jay reported.
“ KIA ?” Ghost asked back.
“No, just… gone. They’re not here,” Jay inspected the area, “Some scuff marks and disturbed leaves and dirt, but no blood, no other sign of them.”
There was a pained scream from over the comm, more gunfire, and Jay waited tensely, “ Get back here Corporal we’ll have to deal with that later. Download is finished and Scarecrow and Ozone are both hit! Evac is inbound one mike to the east!”
Jay clenched his jaw and cast another look around him before sighing, he hated having to leave the snipers behind, “Copy, I’m on my way to the safe house. Rendezvous at evac once Scarecrow and Ozone are safe to move or pop smoke for medevac if they won’t be.”
“Solid copy. To the east Roach go!”
Jay switched his comm off and focused on making it back to the house.
He caught movement in the corner of his eye and pivoted on his heel, bringing his weapon up as he moved. Only to catch a bullet in the hip. Jay shouted as he went down, left leg giving out as the bullet tore muscle and ligament and splintered bone.
Prophet watched the feed from the small camera mounted to the side of Jay’s helmet with his heart in his throat. He watched at the Russian approached Jay slowly. Jay shot him and Prophet let himself be glad that Jay was alive.
Jay got up slowly with a grimace plastered on his face and limped heavily the rest of the way to the house. He had to get to Scarecrow and Ozone. He had to make sure they made it home. He paused inside to quickly patch himself up, the bullet had gone all the way through, the exit wound was easy enough to find. Jay ensured he wouldn’t bleed out while he was tending to the others and moved on to find where they had gone down. They were easy enough to find. Both were conscious and able to call out to him.
It took Jay half an hour to ensure that neither man would die of his wounds.
“ Corporal Miller,” General Shepherd spoke over the comm, “ The DSM is secure. I hear you have wounded?”
Jay keyed his comm, “Yes, sir,” he answered, “Sergeant Walker and Lance Corporal Young are wounded and stable. Second Lieutenant Richards and Staff Sergeant Williams are MIA.”
“ You checked their last known?”
“Yes, sir,” Jay sat back heavily, wincing as he put too much weight on his wounded hip, “Signs of a struggle, no other sign of our men.”
Shepherd hummed and spoke again, “We’ll launch a search party for them later. I’m sending Thunder Two-One to pick you up.”
“Yes, sir,” Jay breathed, “Thank you, sir.”
Jay let his head rest back against the wall. And groaned at Prophet’s voice in his ear.
“ You alright Jay?”
“Yeah,” Jay grunted, “Gonna be feeling this a while… but I’ll live.”
There was a long pause and Prophet spoke again, sounding concerned, “ Jay I’m reading four thermal signs in the house moving towards you. Gale and his crew only number two and aren’t there yet.”
Jay lifted his head and looked around at his surroundings, “Wonderful…” he commented sarcastically, raising his weapon as he heard footsteps approaching.
Jay hesitated at the first Russian to round the corner, but shot first when the other shouted and raised his weapon. The second was prepared and tossed a flash bang before rounding the corner and disarming the stunned medic. Jay fought against the weight holding him on his stomach, but there wasn’t much fight he could give with a bullet hole in his hip. The Russian somehow managed to maneuver him and get his vest off as the other two removed his companions’ weapons. And started restraining them.
“Hey!” Jay shouted, twisting violently against the man holding him, “Leave them alone! They’re wounded!” They, of course, didn’t listen, and Jay kept struggling, shouting at them.
He somehow broke free and tackled one of them. Jay landed a few good hits before feeling a pain in his back a split second before a shock surged through him, forcing his muscles to seize. Jay groaned in pain and fell to the side. The shock stopped and Jay squeezed his eyes closed, breathing heavily. He couldn’t say he’d ever been tased before. He could say, however, that he could go without it happening again. Jay started pushing himself up, only to be hit again. It felt like it went on for several minutes, but when it finally stopped, Jay collapsed again with a groan.
Some of you, ie a lot of you, are probably very confused right now. That is okay. All will be revealed in the next chapter. By means of another perspective, maybe several perspectives. Anyhow, Happy New Year and start it out right by letting me know what you think maybe? Lol
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 15: Do No Harm Do Know Harm
Here we are. Here we go. No reviews :(. Last time we visited the assault on Makarov’s safe house. Archer and Toad are MIA, Ghost and Roach made it to Shepherd, and Jay Scarecrow and Ozone are in a bit of a situation. Let’s go ahead and resolve that shall we?
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
“Thunder Two-One, I’ve popped red smoke in the tree-line! Standby to engage on my mark!” Ghost called over the comm as Gale swung the bird into position.
“Roger that, I have a visual on the red smoke. Standing by.” Gale replied, nodding to Johnson in the copilot seat to be ready on the guns.
“Thunder Two-One cleared hot!”
“Roger that, cleared hot. Guns guns guns,” Gale answered and NJ let loose on the guns as Gale kept them steady, avoiding RPGs and fire while maintaining a bead on the enemies in the trees.
The incoming fire stopped and NJ let off the guns.
“Thunder Two-One waving off, hostile forces down,” Gale said into the comm, swinging around to where the line of evac choppers were waiting.
He set down carefully, putting a barrier between the crews and any remaining Russians.
“Do you have the DSM?” Shepherd asked, sliding an arm under the wounded Sergeant to take some of his weight from the Lieutenant.
“Yes sir, we got it!” Ghost responded over the roar of the rotors.
“Good. Let’s get Sanderson aboard with the medics. Where are the others?” The General asked, helping the Sergeant forward as he spoke.
“Back at the safe house with our medic,” Ghost answered as the lowered Roach onto the bench and stepped away for the paramedics, “Two were wounded, waiting on the Corporal’s assessment.”
“No need, I’ll have Thunder 2-1 pick them up at the house. No need to make the wounded move more than they have to.”
Ghost nodded, “Yes, sir.”
Shepherd gestured at the pilot of the Little Bird and received a nod in response before the Australian pilot took off again, heading towards the house.
There wasn’t much fighting Jay could do with a bleeding bullet hole in his hip and his arms restrained behind him, but he certainly wasn’t gonna make it easy for them. He purposely tripped and stumbled, pretending it was because of his, mostly useless now, left leg. It wasn’t too far from the truth, at least, he couldn’t put much weight or strain on the leg, it hurt too much. Jay bit his lip, wondering what the chances were he’d have a permanent limp because of this. The chances grew the longer the wound was left untreated, and the Russians were in no hurry to help him.
He scowled at their rough handling of Scarecrow and Ozone and struggled against the men holding his arms. He shouted at them, cursing them. Earned himself a knock on the head, but that didn’t stop him, he kept yelling. Maybe he could piss them off enough that they would forget about his wounded teammates.
They were walked outside towards a waiting helicopter and Jay looked up and spotted Gale flying towards them. The Russians spotted him too and shouted, raising their weapons and shooting. Gale banked away in time to avoid the bullets. Jay didn’t blame him for not sticking around. There wasn’t much he could do to help. Jay was shoved and he tripped and stumbled again, this time unintentionally. He cried out as his leg gave out and he landed painfully on his side. The Russians picked him up by his arms and Jay kept his left leg off the ground, hobbling awkwardly on his right as they forced him forward and onboard the chopper.
Jay frowned at the sight of the two snipers both restrained and gagged already aboard. He was shoved down into a seat and tied down to it. He shifted uncomfortably, trying to take weight off his wound and looked carefully over Archer and Toad from where he was sat.
They were both bruised and battered, one of Toad’s eyes was half closed. Archer looked mostly okay, aside from the way he was hunched, Jay suspected cracked ribs.
“Shit!” Gale cursed, waving off from his landing as the Russians shot at him.
He angled the Bird away to shield himself and NJ from the fire and contacted the General.
“General Shepherd, Thunder Two-One.”
“Shepherd, go ahead Two-One.”
“Our men in the house have been arrested by the Russians. Took small arms fire as I got close and had to wave off…” Gale reported.
There was a small pause, “Understood, we’ll launch a rescue later. RTB for debrief.”
Gale sighed, “Yes sir.” He’d been hoping for orders to chase, figure out where they were headed with their people, do something, anything that could help, not just… return to base and sit on his ass and wait.
Johnson patted his shoulder gently, “We’ll get ‘em back Liam.”
“Yeah,” Gale nodded, “Just wish I could do something now rather than later.”
NJ shrugged, “Follow and we get shot down. Try to shoot them down and our people go down with them. Not much we can do.”
“I know,” Gale sighed.
Do no harm. A basic moral principle of any medic. One Jay held in high regard, after all, medics were supposed to heal people, can’t do much of that when you’re busy hurting them. Do know harm. The counter principle. Medics, with their study of the body, knew its weaknesses better than anyone, making them very dangerous enemies. A pissed off medic could bring the pain just as well if not better than their teammates. Jay did not often practice that principle, he was more of a shield than a sword. But, of course, as the old saying went, sometimes the best offense was a good defense. So Jay made himself an excellent defense.
When their captors entered the cell, making a show of looking over the captured members of the task force, he placed himself between them, glaring at the Russian like a mother dog protecting her pups. When the large man tried to shove Jay aside to grab Archer, Jay shoved back, throwing his sharp knuckles into the man’s tender belly. He ignored the pain in his hip and pushed the larger man back and kept himself between his teammates and the Russian man.
The Russian scowled at him and grabbed him by the hair, Jay simply scowled back, “Want to play hero eh?” The Russian questioned in a thickly accented heavy voice.
The Russian shifted his hold to Jay’s arm and shoved him out of the cell, following closely behind as the men waiting restrained the medic and guided him along. Jay limped forward with his shoulders squared. Shields tended to get pretty damn beaten up, and Jay wasn’t afraid of it.
It started with a few questions. Name. Who did he work for. Where was the base. What did they take from the safe house. Jay only answered one of those questions and earned himself fists in his jaw, gut, head, wherever the Russian could reach, in response to his silence.
They took him back to the cell hours later, dropping him unceremoniously in the middle of the concrete floor. Jay sat up and spit the blood in his mouth to the side.
He shrugged at the concerned looks from the others, “Certainly not the worst they can do,” he commented with a smirk.
Archer shook his head, “We’re all in this, Jay, no more of that. I appreciate you trying to keep us safe but the only way we get through this is together.”
“Don’t know if you know this, Lieutenant,” Jay replied, “but I got nothing to go home to. The rest of you have families and husbands or wives or whatever,” Jay shook his head, “Would-be fiancé died years ago, parents years before that, never knew my grandparents, no aunts, uncles, or cousins to speak of. I’ll take the beatings, you all get home in one piece.”
“And what about your home? Don’t you live somewhere outside of the military?” Scarecrow questioned.
Jay shook his head, leaning back casually, “Home is where the Army sends me.”
“And what about Prophet?” Toad questioned.
Jay frowned and sighed, “Probably better off without my problems.”
Toad rolled his eyes and leaned into Archer muttering about it being bullshit.
Jay shook his head, “It doesn’t matter anyhow, they’ll come for us. I can hold out as long as the rest of you are okay, not much I can do about injuries without my kit. I’ll go crazy inside an hour if they hurt one of you and I can’t do anything about it.”
“What if they beat you badly enough you can’t take any more?” Archer asked.
Jay shrugged, “Cross that bridge when we get to it?”
“Well if and when that happens you’ll be in no shape to stop us from protecting you,” Ozone commented matter-of-factly, “And will be secure in your knowledge that you did everything you could and more.”
Jay hummed in response, “You, Ozone, are supposed to be resting.”
“Says the stubborn ass medic who’s been shot in the hip and just took a beating for his teammate,” Ozone replied sarcastically.
“Don’t argue with me, even in here I’m still your medic and I’m still gonna do my job, kit or no kit,” Jay responded in kind.
“Archer,” Ozone complained.
“Do something about our resident stubborn, bossy idiot.”
Archer shrugged, “Sorry mate,” he chuckled, “Medic authority overrules rank authority.”
Jay smirked triumphantly from where he sat.
Prophet paced around the rec room, he knew he couldn’t have done anything to help Jay, but damn if he felt at fault.
Shepherd was heading to Site Hotel Bravo, leaving the Task Force to their business while he hunted leads on Makarov with his Shadow Company. MacTavish couldn’t help but feel like they were being replaced, even if he did appreciate the opportunity to find his missing men. At the moment they had nothing to go off of. Meat and Royce were monitoring what chatter they could find for anything that could give them a hint. They needed somewhere to start looking. MacTavish had assigned a scouting party to search the area Archer and Toad had gone missing in, they’d only come to the conclusion that they’d been captured along with the others.
Prophet really tried not to think about what they could be doing to Jay and the others, he really tried. He wouldn’t accomplish anything worrying and getting all anxious. He stepped over to where Meat and Royce were working and looked at the readouts over their shoulders. Prophet frowned, he didn’t know Russian.
“Anything?” Prophet asked hopefully.
Meat sighed, “Nothing solid, just mentions and rumors mostly… we can trace a predicted path, given where these rumors are coming from, but…” Meat shook his head, “It’s not reliable intel, just rumors and whispers.”
“Still we’ll take any lead we can get,” Royce commented beside him, “And so far we can tell they headed…” he checked his notes, “south west.” Royce shrugged, “It’s not much but it’s something.”
Prophet nodded, “Even a little progress is progress.”
Royce nodded and turned back to the work as Prophet stepped away.
Prophet looked up from watching the floor as he paced when he heard people enter and was surprised to see Reagan and Skylar, “Hey, what are you two doing here?”
Reagan smiled at her friend and hugged him, “Sky heard rumors at the office that something had gone wrong and not everyone came back from wherever the hell you all went, we wanted to make sure you were okay. Where’s Jay, how’s he been, haven’t heard from him in a while?”
Prophet bit his lip and looked over his shoulder at Meat and Royce who gave him a sympathetic look in return, “We… we don’t know… he and four others are MIA…. all we know is that the enemy has them...”
“Hang on,” Meat raised a hand, pressing the headphone to his ear and listening hard for a moment before nodding to Royce to trace it, “Sounds like our boys stopped for fuel, I heard Jay yelling in the background,” he chuckled, “For a quiet guy he sure can yell, had a few choice words for our friends .”
“Got the location,” Royce said, hitting a few keys to mark it on the digital map, “Looks like they’re starting to swing back around towards the east.”
Meat set his headset down, “Sounds like they’re there for a few hours while they run diagnostics on the chopper and fuel up. I’m gonna go report to Tav’, if we move fast enough we might be able to catch up.”
Meat left quickly. Prophet stood rooted to the floor, chewing his lip.
Skylar patted his arm, “C’mon Nate, you could use some fresh air.”
Prophet nodded and walked with his friends outside, his hands stuffed in his pockets.
Jay grunted as he shifted uncomfortably.
“You okay?” Toad asked curiously.
“Leg’s getting stiff…” Jay admitted with a sigh, placing a light hand over the wound in his hip, “Hurts, but I’ll live.”
“You should get some rest too, y’know…” Toad commented, leaning back comfortably against a sleeping Archer.
Jay shook his head, “I already tried,” he cast a careful look around, ensuring everyone else was asleep, “You and Archer?”
Toad raised an eyebrow at him, “What about me and Archer?”
Jay rolled his eyes, “I’ve been involved in enough of those ‘ casual ’ looks to know it when I see it.”
Toad chuckled and shook his head, “Yeah, me and him, we’ve known each other since we were kids. You and Proph?”
Jay sighed and looked away, “Like I said, would-be fiancé died years ago…” he shrugged, “guess I’m still hung up…”
“Would-be?” Toad asked curiously.
The only answer Jay gave was a shake of his head. Toad appeared to understand what he meant and didn’t press. That, or he stopped talking because they both heard the Russians coming back. One, the same one from before, entered the cell and moved towards Toad. Jay shot to his feet and punched him in the jaw and got between him and his teammates again.
“You want them you gotta go through me, meathead,” Jay snarled.
The Russian glared at him and grabbed him, “Fine by me,” he growled in his thick, heavy voice.
So uh, by resolve I may have meant make it worse. Yeah Jay’s not doing so great and he’s a stubborn idiot to boot so. Yeah. That’s all for this chapter I suppose.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Chapter 16: Sword and Shield
So… I started this a few minutes after posting fifteen, mostly because Coffee is not so happy with me for the situation Jay and the others are in and I wanted to get a head start on saving them before she murdered me. So yeah… it’s gonna get worse before it gets better but it does get better. Thanks for the review Coffee Monsta.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher
Jay groaned and laid still for a moment after they brought him back to the cell. They’d worked him hard and he hurt everywhere. He got up slowly, pulling himself upright. There were hands on his arms and back, pulling him back to rest against someone.
Jay grunted and resisted, sitting up under his own power, “Not the worst they could do,” he shrugged stiffly, wiping the back of his hand over the corner of his mouth, “I’m alright.”
“Bullshit,” Ozone accused, “You don’t look alright.”
“Looks worse than it is,” Jay claimed, sitting back heavily against the wall of the cell, “Scarecrow, c’mere,” he waved the man over.
Scarecrow gave a curious look and moved to where Jay was sat, “What’s up?”
“Just need to check your wound…” Jay answered simply, leaning forward as Scarecrow nodded and sat back for Jay to look him over. He checked over the wound he’d stitched back at the safe house and looked for any new ones, “Looks like it’s healing nicely, will probably scar, but it’ll be fine. Ozone,” Jay gestured to him.
Ozone shook his head, “Not until you rest and agree to stop taking all the heat for us.”
Jay sighed but didn’t press. He simply leaned back against the wall again and closed his eyes, “Won’t make a promise I can’t keep.”
The others looked between each other curiously, but let Jay be, retreating to their own corners and walls to sit and wait for the next time the Russian meathead came for them.
Price shook his head, “What we need is a map of their holding facilities and prisons. Then we can trace their route to the most likely destination.”
Ghost nodded thoughtfully, “How do you propose we get this map?”
“We can check the data from the DSM, although ole Kingfish was never one to get his hands that dirty, never knew him to make any personal appearances at prisons for interrogations. Even for me, and he knows I’ve been hunting him for years,” Price responded, “Most likely, we’ll have to break into any one we can find and download the map from their data archive.”
“That’s doable,” MacTavish nodded, “But we’ll have to move fast, there’s no telling what they’re putting our boys through and we need to get them outta there as soon as possible.”
Price shook his head, “Don’t worry too much, son, they won’t kill ‘em. Not as long as they think they might lead them to us.”
“You think they’ll talk?” MacTavish questioned incredulously.
“Never said that… but I wouldn’t blame them. You said three were already injured? I can’t imagine any of them are doing so good right now.”
Ghost shook his head, “They won’t talk. Miller is with them, and given how he fights, I can’t imagine he’ll be letting much happen to the others.”
“Miller…” Price looked at MacTavish, “That’s your kid medic right?” MacTavish nodded and Price continued, “If he’s not careful they’ll use the others against him.”
MacTavish frowned, “We need to move fast on this, the kid’s stubborn, he’ll take a hit for someone, he’s probably in bad shape. What’s the plan, old man?”
Archer’s medical knowledge was extremely limited, especially compared to Jay’s, but he knew enough to know that Jay was worse off than he was letting anyone see, especially if that pale skin and heavy breathing was anything to go by.
Jay had fallen asleep against the wall and Archer used the opportunity to move quietly over to him and check under the gauze the medic had taped over his hip. He peeled it back carefully and grimaced at the swollen, angry red. Definitely infected. No doubt a result of not being able to properly tend the wound. Archer sighed, pressing the gauze carefully back into place, there wasn’t much he could do about it, especially in here.
Archer sat back and looked at his face. Jay had woken up and appeared to be making an effort to keep his eyes open. They were bright with fever. Archer, as observant as he was, was surprised he’d never noticed how dark the circles under his eyes were.
“You’re done,” Archer said in a tone that brokered no argument, “No more, you need to rest.”
Jay lifted his chin to look at Archer squarely in the eyes, “The others are coming. I can hold out. It’s my job to keep the rest of you alive and okay.”
“Not at the cost of yourself,” Archer argued, “You’re hurt and sick, you aren’t taking any more.”
“Try and stop me.” Jay’s eyes slipped past Archer to the Russian approaching the cell.
Archer turned to look at them over his shoulder and placed a firm hand on Jay’s shoulder. The cell opened and Jay shoved Archer away from him and lunged at the man in the door. Archer reached to stop him, but Jay was already gone, his fingers only brushed Jay’s arm.
The man easily threw Jay aside and into the bars of the cell. Jay shouted in pain and fell to the ground in a heap.
The Russian watched him struggle upright with an appraising eye before grabbing the nearest member and grabbing them. He tossed Scarecrow to his knees in front of him and pulled out his handgun, “You, Little Bird are done being a pain in my ass.”
Jay froze at the sight of Scarecrow on his knees with the pistol to his head, “Coward,” He accused lowly, but he stayed where he was on the ground, glaring at the man.
There were a few tense moments where the imprisoned task force wondered what he would do.
The Russian chuckled and lowered his weapon, but kept it out, “That’s better.” He gestured at Jay with the pistol, “On your feet Little Bird.”
Jay scowled and slowly gained his feet.
“ Jay,” Archer said in a warning tone.
Jay paid him no mind and squared his shoulders as the man grabbed him by the back of the neck. He hobbled along awkwardly as he was guided towards the door and shoved out. Jay had to catch himself on the opposite wall of the hallway as his leg refused to take his weight.
Prophet sighed and sat on the floor of his office, wrapping an arm around Tip and rubbing her thick fur.
“I wish there was something we could do…” Skylar commented.
“Ah Jay’s a tough guy,” Reagan waved dismissively, “I’m sure they’re fine.”
Prophet groaned anxiously and Tip whined and licked his face.
There was a knock on the door and Prophet sighed and buried his face in Tip’s fur a moment before standing up and brushing the fur off his clothes, “Come in.”
“Or don’t…” Reagan muttered, rolling her eyes.
Skylar nudged her for the comment as the door opened.
Meat stepped in, wearing his uniform and Prophet looked to his friends, “Rea, Sky, if you could give me a moment?”
Reagan straightened up from where she was leaned against the wall and moved towards the door with Skylar, “We’ll be outside if you need us, Nate.”
The door closed and Prophet leaned his hip on his desk and crossed his arms, “What can I do for you?”
“We have a plan,” Meat said bluntly, “It’s not solid, but it’s better than anything else we got.”
Prophet nodded stiffly and Tip moved and laid on his feet, “When do we leave?”
“Two hours. We have to move fast, since all we know is that three of them were already hurt.”
Prophet nodded and stood straight, “I’m coming with.”
“You don’t even know what we’re doing yet,” Meat commented.
“Don’t care,” Prophet responded, “I want to do something instead of sitting here worrying.”
Meat shrugged and sighed, “Suit up and get to the helipad, Cap and Ghost are gonna brief on the way.”
Meat left and Reagan and Sky came back in, “What’s up?” Reagan asked curiously.
“We have a plan,” Prophet answered and sighed, “Sorry, but you gotta go home, we’re leaving now.”
Reagan nodded and pulled Skylar along, “Good luck, Nate, come back safe.”
Prophet nodded after them and gave Tip the command to go with them.
They had Jay strung up by his wrists to a ring in the ceiling, like a piece of meat on a butcher’s hook. One man paced in front of him, taunting him with a metal pipe while another cut his shirt off. He stopped close to Jay, leaning in, Jay never learned why. He brought his right leg up and kicked him hard. It left him swinging, but the man was knocked back a couple paces and winded, Jay smirked at his small victory.
He straightened up and glared at the medic, grabbing the leg that’d kicked him, “Think you’re clever, eh?” He snarled, swinging the pipe down into his leg several times in two different places until the captive screamed.
Jay scowled at him as his leg was released. It hung useless and stiff now, no doubt broken badly. Definitely hurt like it. He could barely curl the toes of his left past the swelling and pain in his hip. It was like the injury ran the full length of his leg. If Jay weren’t feeling it he’d think he was crazy for thinking it.
The Russian grinned maliciously, tapping the pipe on his palm, “Feel like talking yet, Little Bird?”
Jay would’ve spat at him if there were any moisture in his mouth, instead he settled for a rough fuck you and earned the pipe breaking his already cracked ribs for his effort. He coughed and tasted copper. Jay grimaced as he spat the blood on the ground in front of him, barely missing the Russian’s boot. The next hit was his gut, not really damaging, but still painful. The hit winded him and left him coughing again. Then his shoulder, Jay was pretty sure something there had dislocated or broken or something, because holy fuck that hurt.
He watched curiously as the pipe was set aside and the man picked up a length of braided leather, “Bit old fashion don’t you think?” Jay mocked as he was approached with the whip.
He earned a testing lash across his cheek for that one, and it stung like hell. The Russian moved behind him and Jay quickly lost count of how many times he’d been struck. The whip didn’t have any metal tips or frayed ends, just plain, braided, boiled leather, lashing into his back time and time again. By the time the Russian stopped, Jay simply let his chin rest against his chest, his back now just an entire plain of stinging pain and agony.
Jay lifted his chin a little as the Russian stepped in front of him again. He grabbed his chin and lifted his face, looking him over.
The Russian man gave a scoffing chuckled and let go, letting the medic hang limply by his restraints, “Dumayu, ya, nakonets, slomal yego…” (“Guess I finally broke him…”)
The others in the room chuckled and Jay lifted his head a bit and spat blood to the side, “Still not tellin’ you shit…” he rasped.
The Russian looked at thin with a raised brow and shrugged with a laugh, “We will see, Little Bird! We will see.”
Jay, any reserve energy now spent, simply let his head drop again. He was dragged back to the cell by his arms and dropped on his side. He didn’t move for a while after they left, and when he did he simply groaned, left arm twitching slightly, moving closer towards him as if to cradle his ribs.
Toad was the first to move towards him when he didn’t make a move to get up, “C’mon man, you always get up…” he placed a light hand on his arm.
Jay groaned and forced his eyes open to look at Toad, “Hurts…” his voice was strained and Toad wasn’t sure he’d actually heard him.
“Yeah, I bet it does…” Toad looked him over quickly and winced at the sight of his back.
“What is it, Toad?” Archer asked curiously from where he sat further away.
Toad looked at him then back at Jay, “I don’t wanna move him too much… his back is just… shredded. ”
Jay made a noise in his throat, “Leg’s broke too… and some ribs…” he coughed and struggled to breathe for a moment, he wheezed in a few breaths, deep as he dared with broken ribs poking his lungs.
Scarecrow moved over to him and lifted his head slightly, resting it back down on his leg, “I got him,” he said quietly to Toad.
Someone, no one saw who, dropped a single bottle of water through the bars of the cell. Toad picked it up and moved back over to the others. Jay was on the edge of consciousness, awake, but not aware in the slightest. The others used that to their advantage in unanimously deciding to give Jay the bulk of their water, he couldn’t protest what he didn’t know about.
Archer sat back with a sigh, Toad looked at him and around at the others, “How long have we been in here do you think?”
Archer shrugged, “Two days? Give or take?”
Toad sighed and sat down next to Archer, “Hope he’s right in saying they’re coming for us. Shep’s a hardass… wonder if he’s actually gonna let them search for us.”
“Even if he doesn’t Cap and Ghost’ll do it anyway,” Arched replied, “You know how they are.”
“Yeah, but being sneaky about it’ll take longer. Not sure Jay can hold out till they get here if that’s the case,” Toad commented, lightly chewing his lip.
Archer simply hummed in response.
“Aaaand…” Ghost trailed, “Got it. Map’s on screen now.” He held up the tablet Meat had handed him of the projected path he and Royce had created, “Cross-reference, and they could only be heading to one place.”
“Good,” MacTavish nodded at his Lieutenant, “Get those coordinates to Gale. We go directly there. Download any intel and wipe their systems.”
Prophet was practically buzzing with nervous energy as he stood watch while everyone else rifled through drawers and desks, stuffing files and hard drives in their bags.
They were in the air again in less than five minutes, MacTavish giving Gale the word to make the trip as quickly as possible with the pave low.
They were there within an hour. The assault was unplanned and haphazard, but the team worked well enough together that it didn’t matter. In half an hour they’d cleared most of the prison and made it to the offices where Ghost got into their systems and found the location of their men.
It only took them ten more minutes to reach them. Meat shot the lock off the cell and the door swung open, it’s occupants stunned by the sudden arrival of their friends.
“Hey guys!” Meat greeted with a grin.
Prophet looked over them and sucked in a breath at the sight of Jay. He was laying on his side, his back to them. Prophet knelt down beside him.
Jay grunted and lifted his head, giving a stiff smile, “Hey, Proph… good to see you. Knew you guys were coming…”
Okay there we go. Saved the boys. Jay’s not doing great, but it’s mostly just pain, nothing immediately life-threatening. So uh… that’s that I guess. We continue next time with the return to base and medical treatment for the injured.
Thanks for Reading, Fly High Aim Higher