Oh god, he was tired. He had found it really hard to keep his eyes open whenever he sat down. Jason now was really tempered to let Sonny off his leash at the cake eaters if they call him telling him that they had another drill to do. It was all he and Bravo seem to do since they got back home. True, he didn't want to be deployed without all of the team. He would never admit it but god, he missed that kid.
Clay was annoying, egotistical and a real pain in the backside. But he was theirs. Clay was Bravo's and no one else was going to get him. It was one of the reasons why he didn't want to deploy without him. He wasn't stupid, even with the last name 'Spencer' other teams had made their voices heard when speaking about the kid. A lot of them had wanted him, he had been top of nearly all team's wish list when the Green Team graduates were released. And Jason knew that even if he didn't understand the kid, he would be a foul to pass the kid up.
He remembered reading the kid's file. There hadn't been much in it regarding his personal life, expect who his immediate was. But regarding his life in the Navy, the kid read like a boy that had been training to become a Seal all his life. The kid had entered the Navy with top marks and recommendations from his headmaster. And the kid didn't disappoint the Navy at all. Even with his last name.
The kid had sailed through BUDs. His instructors had reported that he was one of most determined men they had ever met, he met every challenge the same. Head on. Jason had seen the respect that those instructors had for the kid. And he knew that Clay had gotten the respect from every Seal he worked with and had quickly become Second-in-command of Seal Team Three Alpha Platoon. The youngest in the history of the Seals. His former CO only reported good things about him, his loyalty, his determination and his fighting spirit. The kid never allowed any of his team to fail and always brought them home. Even if it meant risking his own life.
The running theme that ran throughout Clay's whole file. The kid had it built into him that he needed to save others, and many times that meant he didn't value the risk of his own life. A theme Jay saw now. Clay risked his life every time he had to in order to save others. Running into that street in Manila was no different. He wanted to help save other victims of the bombing, and he had. Two brothers still had each other thanks to the kid. And a woman got to live another day. But in doing so ran directly towards the second bomb. The bomb that had almost cost him his life.
That day haunted Jay.
Most nights all he could remember was hearing the sound of the second explosion and looking up trying to find all his men. Ray had been with him. Brock and Trent not too far away. However, when Sonny's voice cried out Clay's name before leaving the bar caused him to freeze. He hadn't seen Clay go outside, nor see where he went but soon they were all heading into the street to try to find their guy.
But he couldn't erase what he saw when he got out there. Following Sonny's cries, they soon found their guy. Clay had been laying on the edge of the road, bloody and barely responding to them. As they ran to get to him, he remembered seeing the crater that had been left by the bomb. And Clay's shoes. He remembered finding them in the street. Clay had been knocked right out of them. That only caused his heart to sink more. He had seen peoples' injuries when they had been knocked out of their shoes. And it was never good.
As he had gotten to his man, he hadn't seen Clay's injuries but focused on Clay's face. The kid had been barely conscious. He had heard the worry tearing through Sonny's voice. They all knew that the kid was in trouble. And Trent had made that known as well when he sent Brock to find the things he needed and said that they needed to get him to a hospital. They all knew what that meant. Clay's injuries could spell out the end of his career.
But Clay hadn't let that happen. He fought. Was fighting. Still.
But yet he still wasn't back with them. Not yet anyway. However, he had personally seen Clay run the training courses with Brock, Trent and Sonny when they were free. Or he would run it with Derek and Scott if Alpha was home. He had also seen him with Big Chief on the occasions that all the teams were busy. He was fighting to get back to them, he barely walked with a limp anymore. However, to the doctors and the Brass, he wasn't ready to return.
It had been the reason why the Navy Brass had sent Clay off to a rehab clinic. That had really set Bravo off. Trent and Ray had to take Sonny off to calm him down after Blackburn had told them that Clay was gone. Yes, the clinic would help get Clay's leg back to fighting strength and that meant that he could return to them. But they didn't like the idea of not been there for the kid. Clay hadn't looked excited to go however Jay knew that Clay wanted to come back to them and so needed to go. He just didn't like the idea of sending him away. It felt like he was of losing him again.
Sonny had hated the idea and had voiced it to all of them until Trent and Ray had calmed him down and it took them nearly an hour before they were confident that he wouldn't go and do something stupid. Sonny had grown the closest to the kid out of all of them. They had become like brothers. And finding his brother laid in the street injured had really affected Sonny. More than he was letting on. As soon as they had gotten back Jay had seen Sonny relax and when he was with Clay he was back to normal.
Jay knew that he had to thank Trent for finally calming Sonny down. Trent had snapped very harshly at Sonny reminding him that Clay may never operator again if he couldn't get his leg back to normal. The kid's whole life had been training and fighting to become a Seal. They were just being selfish, when they were deployed all they wanted to do was to be stateside with Clay and now they were home he was being sent away again. But if it meant Clay could return to them ready to fight alongside them again, it was worth it.
Trying to get his mind off Clay he looked around the cages, which was only lit with small lights from each cage and the moonlight that was shining through the window. Trent, Sonny and Brock along with Cerberus had left just after they had finished the last drill. They were all tired and as soon as they had gotten back to their cages, Jason had sent everyone home. Including Ray.
However, Ray had returned only an hour later. He had said that Naima was doing a night shift at the hospital and the kids were with her parents for the night as they hadn't known if they would be doing another night drill. But Jason knew that his best friend didn't want to leave him alone for too long. And he was glad not to be alone. With Emma off at college and Mickey still alway, he hated being alone and often he would go to the bar, or back to base, just to be around people.
Jay turned to see Ray sat on his chair cleaning his rifle with so much concentration that Jason found himself looking directly at him for over twenty minutes before he looked up. Jay smiled at his best friend.
"Think you might rub away the metal if you keep going," Jason said smiling at him.
Ray looked at him with a look that clearly said 'really' and shook his head. "Please brother, next time I have to save your arse you can make it up to me with a bottle of whisky. I've been telling you for years that this helps me relax." Ray called back putting down his cloth and getting to his feet. "You try fitting in all of Naima's jobs and these drills along hardly any sleep because of your son waking up at some godly hour."
He finished when he leant against Jason's cage. Jason smiled, he knew that Naima was making cracking the whip at Ray to get the jobs she wanted doing around the house before they were deployed again. He knew very well how scary Naima could be when they didn't do as they were told. She reminded him of Alana. And he missed that, having someone shout at him for not finishing a job. He missed his best friend, and that was who Alana was. She was his best friend and he had lost her. But he had to be thankful for his team. They had stood by him, and helped when he felt like the whole world was going to collapse on him.
Ray knew what Jason was thinking. It seems that his friend never really wanted to be alone and he didn't blame him. He had watched his friend lose his wife, and then blame himself when Adam, his replacement, was killed on the operation to which he should have been on. He also knew that after his return Jason thought that he needed to prove to the team and himself that he could still lead. And it rubbed a lot of them the wrong way. Even him.
But after Clay had gotten injured they had all seen the anger and pain in Jason's eyes that they all knew well. It was the same anger and pain that they had seen when they had lost Nate. Clay was like a little annoying brother to them all, and to Jason he was a lot more. He was like a reminder that sometimes two people can be so much alike that it allows wounds that may never close due to the loss of a friend can heal with time.
They all saw Clay a little differently and he meant something different for each of them. To Sonny, he was a little brother, someone who he felt like he needed to look after, that he had to be responsible for someone other than himself. Something that he had not felt before. It was new to him, that feeling. But he found himself enjoying it. He could push Clay and knew that his friend would understand why or even challenge him. He was also his best friend, with Clay he could speak about anything and the kid never judged him. Sometimes he was just a soundboard, listened to his problems without a complaint in sight. He was also a good drinking buddy when he needed one.
To Trent, Clay was a challenge. Both medically and physically. He like all of them hated to admit that they were in pain however with Clay, it seems, didn't feel pain until he allowed himself to feel it. Like he could block his pain receptors. He had seen the kid risk his life without thinking about his own safety and come out without a scratch. Well tell them he didn't get hurt only to find out later that he lied to them. Sometimes not purposely but still lying to them. However, on the other hand, Clay had a thirst to learn new skills and would often ask him to teach or test him on his medical training. It was nice for him to teach someone who wanted to learn and not just do it for the sake of it.
To Brock, Clay was a brother who understood him better than anyone else. The kid could easily read him and knew what he needed of him. It was strange. He was the quietest out of all the tier one operators but Clay never asked him why; Clay just expected him. And his dog loved the kid. It was one of the things that made him aware that Clay was meant to be on Bravo. Cerberus expected the kid the moment he joined the team. He even jumped up into Clay's hammock on the way back from their first operation. He also helped out with looking after Cerb whenever he needed it, he often walked and feed him when he had been busy. The dog loved him and trusted him. So, so did he.
To Jason, Clay was a mixture of a little brother and a son. The kid needed someone to look out for him, both physically and medically. The kid had been given a bad set of cards. A father who betrayed the brotherhood. A mother who died when he was only little. Sent halfway around the world to live in a foreign land and having to learn a new language to live with his father's parents. Then returning and having to deal with the loss of the only place he knew as home. And even with what his father had done, he had joined the Seals and had fought to become a team guy. Making the name Spencer mean something again. He was proud of the kid. Like he was his own son, Alana had mentioned once that he was old enough to be the kid's father which was a scary thought. However the kid needed someone to look after him, he only knew the harsh life and needed some help working out what it meant to be in a family that cared.
To Ray, Clay was like a kindred spirit both of and on the range. Clay, like him, enjoyed time looking down the scope, just them and the scope was the most peaceful thing in the world. They often found themselves together on the range, just them, firing perfect headshots at the targets pushing their skills as far as they could go or when they got called away. When the team had returned and he had patched things up with his own family, he had met Clay on the range. It was their way of being able to say what was truly going through each other's head without the risk of someone else overhearding or interrupting them. Also, Clay had connected with his family like no one else before. Even his fellow Bravo brothers had taken a few months before getting comfortable around Naima and his children. But with Clay, it was almost immediate. Clay was going to make a great father in the future. That was clear to him, the kid had a good heart. Something that made him who he was. It made him a better man, brother and friend.
Ray looked at Jason who's eyes had moved onto Clay's empty cage. "You miss him," Jay said. It wasn't a question, it was a statement and one that they both knew was true.
"We are so close at getting him back Ray, all we need now is some specialist turning around and telling him and the Navy that he will never be able to operate again. Then what Ray? We will have lost him again." Jason said not looking at Ray until he asked him the question. He didn't want to believe the fact that Clay may never come back to them, even with all the work the kid had put into getting back to them. If the doctor said no, well the Navy would side with the doctors. And they would lose another brother, a kid that had so much to give.
"We are not there yet Jay. You heard Lucas give us that report, Clay is healing quicker than anyone he has ever seen and is already beating some of the Green Team guys at some of the courses. It is going to take time but Clay will make it back to us. If I can do it, then he sure as hell can." As Ray finished speaking Jason nodded. He remembered being told not only by Lucas but also by Big Chief, Derek and the other Green Team Instructors that had been working with Clay, that the kid was making them look bad by him beating them. He had been blown up for god's sake and he was beating fully active and healthy tier one guys. He was coming back. He had too.
However, before Ray could add anything else an all too familiar sound came from their phones. The call of an op.
Ray pattered Jason on the shoulder before collecting his phone and reading the message. Jason pulled his phone out of his pocket and did the same.
"Twenty bucks Sonny comes in complaining about this," Ray said popping his phone into his back pocket.
"That's a sucker bet," Jason said doing the same as they both headed towards the briefing room to get some fresh coffee going. They knew the team would only take twenty minutes before they got to them, but if the coffee wasn't available then they would all be dealing with a very upset Texan. And with the possible idea of them being stuck in the same room as Sonny in a bad mood, didn't bear thinking about. And Sonny in a bad mood on a long flight was something everyone wanted to avoid. If possible.