Chapter Sixty-Two

Could this day get any worse?

Being stuck in a bombed-out building in the middle of a small town right in the Green Zone wasn't the way he had wanted this op to go. Hell, the building was falling apart. It would fit perfectly in one of Sonny's apocalyptic world video games. It had three windows and one door. Each of them had taken a window with Sonny and Brock watching the door. The crumbling walls and the single panel door made him a little nervous. To be honest, the building looked on the verge of collapse but they didn't have another option. It was either this or been stuck in the open getting shot at. At least they were safe for now. But they couldn't stay here for long, if they were attacked by a large enough force then they were screwed in a whole other sense. This building wouldn't stand long in a fight. He was surprised it was standing at all.

The town had been subject to multiple airstrikes throughout the war due to the level of activity there but with the scale back it hadn't been hit for a few months. Their HVT had chosen it for that reason maybe. But Jason had a guess at the true reason. Civilians had been slowly moving back to the area which meant his hideout was surrounded by innocent people who would be directly in the line of fire of an airstrike. Which was why Command had decided against a drone strike. The bastard was using them as human shields. And that was why they had been set in. Civilian casualties were something that wasn't tolerated in their line of work.

Their original exfil plan had also been shot to hell. They had planned on driving into the town and then out of it again however they had run across a big problem. The bastard had lined the entire road in and out of the town with IEDs and roadside bombs with rolling guards which meant the road wasn't an option without raising the alarm for the whole town which would have allowed the HVT to escape.

Jason shook his head at their situation, this mission was meant to be easy. Get in, kill their HVT and get out in time for dinner. Plain and simple. Bravo didn't need to do this op, any team could have done it. Hell, even Charlie could pull off this op it was that easy. And yet here they were. Stuck in this hellhole. Which Sonny was loving. As normal.

Why couldn't things just go right for him?

Lately, everything that should have gone right for him hadn't. It seems that the world had it out for him and the people he cared about. Nate, Steve, the rest of Echo, Alana, Adam, nearly Clay, Swanny then nearly Clay again. It felt like he was losing too many people that he cared about. How long could he do this for? How long could he continue to deal with his losses before they started to break him?

But also back home, things weren't great either. Getting hold of Mikey had been a real problem. He knew that he was physically ok, thanks to Emma, but Mikey wasn't having a good time recently. His team had lost the last two hockey games that they had played and Mikey was taking it to heart. Jason had done his best to try and convince his son that loss was what made them stronger but Mikey didn't want to hear it. He had ranted at him in their last video that they had and what worried him the most was that Mikey had talked about maybe quitting hockey altogether. Jason had told him not to give up. Mikey had then made the comment that had made him smile a little. Mikey had said that Clay had told him the same thing. This short sentence had given Jason some hope.

Clay had always taken on the role of big brother to his kids, more than he had taken on the uncle states like everyone else. Clay was closer to their age than there's. It had been one of the reasons why he had taken a little persuasion in drafting Clay, the kid was too young for their line of work and to be this good had caused his fatherly side to come through. He was so worried that Clay would burn out too young and have to live the rest of his life with the nightmares that they all suffered. However Clay had shown him that he could handle this life, yes he needed to improve his communication skills and trust issues but he was getting there. One day at a time.

To know that his kids still went to Clay with their problems made his heart jump. At least their relationship had remained the same, even after everything had happened. He had worried about what would happen with Clay's relationship after everything that had happened to him. And that only increased when Emma told him the worrying news that she hadn't heard from her big brother in a while and that had led to an uncomfortable conversation between them. Emma had cried and yelled about why she hadn't been told about what was going on with her older brother but he knew that this was just her way of expressing herself. When she became quiet, then he worried. She was so his daughter and that night he had seen it completely.

A few days after her meltdown, Jason had come home to hear Emma talking to someone on the phone who was on speaker. He had frozen when he heard Emma laugh. He hadn't heard her laugh like that in a while. Quietly he moved to Emma's door and thankfully the door was open a little so he could hear clearly. And then the voice that came from her phone surprised him but also made him smile. Emma was talking to Clay. He rested against the door frame. Listening to his kids' joke around made his day. But the moment their conversation started to become deeper about what was going on with each of them, he moved to his own room. He had to respect Clay's and Emma's privacy. When they wanted him to know something then they would come to him. Even if he wished that they would come to him straight away. But from what little he overheard, Clay was still struggling with some stuff. However, there was some improvement.

He hadn't told anyone about what he had overheard between his two kids but sometimes he wished he could. Even if it was only to voice his own fears.

The crackle of his radio knocked him back into reality.

"To all Bravo elements, this is HAVOC, be advised you have a force of about twenty to thirty fighting aged males coming at you from the west. Will be right on top of you in ten mikes." Blackburn's voice came over the radio.

Jason sighed a deep and long sigh before allowing his body to fall down the wall that he had been leaning on. God, he was so tired. Couldn't this day end? Could it get any worse?

"Copy HAVOC, any news on our exfil?" Jason said, trying his best to keep his emotions in check. And not just for himself but for his brothers as well. He needed to make sure that his team made it home safe. That was his job and he wasn't about to fail at it again.

"Not yet Bravo One. Helo is still fifteen minutes out due to the weather." Blackburn said, but Jason could hear the stress in his voice. This mission was a complete shit show. And he was going to make sure that Command knew it. The intel that they had been given had turned out to be crap. There had been three times as many fighters than they had been told. Heads were going to roll.

"Looks like Christmas has come early boys," Sonny said with a grin as he checked his weapon's chamber. God did he miss this. Been stuck stateside, only having the gym and the range to let off steam. Or hitting the bars and drinking the night away. He had been told that his partying had to slow down but he didn't know how he would cope without it. Clay had helped a little, mainly as he was the person dragging him home at the end of the night. But now, he was alone.

He was born to do this and this was his life. He wouldn't change it for the world. Well, that wasn't the complete truth. There was one part of the job that he wished he could change. And that was having to lose his brothers and in some cases, so violently that if he didn't know it was them then he wouldn't believe it. He had lost brothers to explosions, bullets, knives, helicopter crashes and blue on blue. And it never got any easier. There were only two ways that he found comfort when he lost one of his brothers and that was, one getting revenge and the other was saying goodbye by burying them right. But sadly in their line of work, sometimes the coffins that they buried weren't heavy. Either due to them not being able to find enough of their fallen brother's body to bury or that there wasn't one to start with. Both were too painful to think too much apart.

Trent turned to look at Sonny with complete shock at that statement. He loved his brother but sometimes the man completely confused him. He confused all of them, the only one that could get a good read on the man was Clay and maybe Jason. But other than that, Sonny Quinn was a mystery to them. The man was an animal at times but at the same time loyal to a fault. He knew that Sonny would do anything for them but his love for a firefight sometimes really got on his nerves.

"Only you Sonny would think of thirty fighters coming to try to kill us as Christmas," Trent said, shaking his head.

Sonny turned to Trent who was standing at the window behind him as he was covering the only door, with a grin plastered across his face before speaking. "What?" He asked before seeing the look that he had seen before. "This is going to be fun." He added as he turned back to the door and carefully looked through the cracks to see if he could see any movements.

Ray sighed and shook his head at Sonny, "Sonny I am begging you, shut up."

"What? Don't tell me that you haven't missed this?" He asked, a little confused at Ray's reaction. Yes, the mission hadn't gone to plan but they were back together operating again.

"That's what I'm saying, Sonny," Ray said, turning to look out the window he was covering to see if he could see any moments on the incoming fighters. He was glad to be back operating again with the team but at the same time, he could feel the dark cloud that was still over them.

When Jason had returned back from South Africa, he could see the internal struggle that was going on inside his brother. He had asked him once about what was going on with him, mainly because that was his job. To take some of the pressure off Bravo One, but Jason had told him that this was something he needed to work out alone. That this was his problem and his alone. Ray had gone on and had respected Jason's wishes and had done his best to keep the rest of Bravo in line. But it hadn't been easy. They had all been shocked when Clay hadn't returned with Jason. And Sonny was pissed.

They were all worried about their little brother and for Jason to return without him had raised some red flags. They had all thought that Command would have ordered Clay to return with Jason and was confused that he hadn't. Clay wouldn't have gone against orders. To was Ray who had found out the truth from Jason, Clay's doctors hadn't cleared him to fly and with how well Clay was healing Jason had made the decision to return without him. But hadn't explained anything else.

"Lier;" Sonny's voice brought Ray back.

Ray shook his head at Sonny's comment. He just wished that this mission would just be over with so he could go home and hug his kids. But in a way, Sonny was kind of right. He did miss this. He was a warrior like they all were but at the same time, he had to think about his family back home. He knew that Naima worried about him, hell she worried about all of them. It was one of the many things that he loved about her, Bravo was her family too. That was what he loved about the Teams, they looked after each other and their families. No matter what. They were one big family.

"What's the plan boss?" Brock asked, turning his body so he could see them all. Cerberus had settled himself down at his feet watching the door carefully like he knew that the danger was going to come from the door. Without thinking, Brock ran his hands through his short fur. His pup was nervous and he couldn't blame him. They could easily be surrounded right now without even knowing and that was scary in itself. Without thinking he ran his fingers around Cerberus' collar and found the little pin that was on it. Automatically he looked down at it and smiled softly when his eyes fell on it. It was a little golden eagle painted in American colours. When Brock had first seen it he was amazed at how nicely it had been painted. And yes, he could tell it had been hand-painted and he knew exactly where it came from. Clay.

Clay was the one person he knew that would find the perfect gift for someone. No matter who. He had no idea where Clay had gotten it but Cerberus knew who it was from. Once he had taken it off his collar to clean and had forgotten to put it back on and Cerberus had thrown a fit. His four-legged friend had turned psycho and had destroyed one of his pillows until he had remembered it. After putting it back on, he was quickly forgiven. Cerberus loved Clay and right now he was missing their missing brother.

Jason moved to look back out the window, this was going to be hard but he had a plan. He then turned back to his team, "We hold our position here. Cut through those fighters and once we have the all-clear, we'll head to Exfil and out of this hellhole."

All they could do was fight, but thankfully that was what they were trained for.

They fell quiet as they waited. Something that they hated doing. Waiting made them all think. Think about what was about to happen, their own mortality and also things that were happening at home.

"Bravo One this is HAVOC, helo is two minutes out get ready to move." Blackburn's voice broke the tension.

'Thank god' Jason thought as he moved towards the door. He could hear the helo's blades cracking through the quiet sky and knew that it was closer than two minutes. It sounded like it was right on top of them.

"Good Copy HAVOC. Thought we were looking at twenty minutes?" Jason asked though his radio. Not that he was complaining that the helo had come early but then again he needed to make sure.

"What can I say Bravo One? The pilot put his foot down," Blackburn said and Jason knew right there that he had him smile. He had a feeling Blackburn had gone all Commander on the poor pilot.

"Get ready to move boys, our ride is here," Jason said as he moved to open the door a little. Thankfully there was a little opening that was right to the left of the building. He knew that the dash to the helo was going to be dangerous and with those fighters inbound.

As he saw the helo start to move lower, he couldn't help but think back to the time they were shot down after capturing Nouri. He had nearly lost Trent and Clay along with a few members of Alpha. Yes, he had hit his head and wrecked his leg but he wasn't going to stop until he got justice for Steve and the others on Echo. He had to do it.

Looking out at the helo was it hovered only a few feet from the ground, Jason shook his head and then pushed the door open. "Brock, clear us a path with the hair missile, I'll take up the rear," Jason ordered as he moved to let their Cerberus and Brock past him.

They quickly filed out and ran as fast as they could towards the helo. All Jason could focus on was getting his boys home. They were his focus that he didn't see the danger that was right there.

Jason couldn't work out what came first, the pain or the shots. All Jason could remember was his side suddenly exploding in hot pain that caused him to keel right over where he stood. He knew that he had heard someone scream his name and as he looked up he saw a man standing only a foot away from him pointing an AK right at his head. He was as good as dead. But he was ok with it. His team had made it to the helo and were safe. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, he was going to see Alana again. His kids would be ok, he had made sure of that a long time ago. Emma would finish College, go on to do whatever she wanted to do. Mikey would become one hell of a Hockey player. He was so proud of both of them. And he knew that they would be ok. Bravo would make sure of that.

Right before this tour, he had made sure that he had put Clay down as Mikey's guardian if anything was to happen to him. He knew that his oldest would make sure that Mikey did what he dreamt of. Would protect him. Clay would make sure that his family was safe. He was ready to die if this was his time.

He then heard a shot but the pain remained.

Was he dead?

Jason opened his eyes and saw his shooter lying there dead on the ground.

"Jase." A voice screamed and all of a sudden he felt hands around him. Looking up he saw Ray and Trent pull him to his feet and semi-carry him towards the helo. He was alive.

With them all on board, the helo took off as quickly as it came in.

"You good Jase?" A voice cracked through on his radio. A voice that he couldn't help but smile at, he then grunted in pain as Trent slammed a pressure pad into his side. He glared at Trent's actions but didn't speak. He knew that he was bleeding, the damn bullet had missed his vest.

He then grabbed his radio as Ray stabbed him with the morphine. And god did he need it. "I'm good Bravo Six. Meet us at Secondary extract and we'll pick you up."

Thank God for that kid's skills. Within ten minutes he had once again been shown what his family could do. With his kid safely onboard they headed home. Jason could help put a smile as Sonny pulled Clay onboard and he saw the worry in his eyes. The kid must have seen him get shot. He held out a hand towards the kid and as quickly as he did so Clay took it with the power that he wouldn't let go. They were all ok and they were going home.

Jason could help but be so proud of the family in front of him. His brothers. All different and yet at the same time the best that was out there. They had come from all walks of life and somehow they fit together like an unusual jigsaw.

Many people never got a family which was what made them all so lucky. They were lucky enough to have two of them. They watched each others' backs both on and off the battlefield. And they would continue to do so until it was their time to say goodbye.

Adam always said that the Teams were a family and that was true. But it wasn't just inside the teams but all the forces. They fought alongside each other each day. No matter where the battlefield was. Whether it was in the desert, the jungle or at sea, they would have each other's backs no matter what.

And that was the brotherhood. And God was he proud to be apart of it.