Because I don't have enough other stories in progress, I thought I'd let this plot bunny loose too: a few chapters on the initial formation of Cooper's Red Cell team centering on Mick and Prophet (and can I just say damn all Netflix recommendations that popped up while I wasn't feeling well). From a comment in the backdoor pilot, I've got Mick joining the team in 2009, and then I worked the rest of this around that. No Gina yet, and definitely no Beth since she was a recent addition in 2011, not sure if they'll make it into this story or not.

For the record, since the show never went into it except for Mick's jokes about Prophet's age, I just used the actors' ages in this story when I needed to sort out timelines, which puts Prophet at 41 and Mick at 30 in 2011 (39 and 28 at the start of this story).

Mick rubbed his forehead and refrained from cursing only by great force of will. He'd thought that the amount of paperwork that he'd had to do in the military was ridiculous, especially since most of the ops he'd been on were so classified that his reports had probably all been burned rather than read anyway, but right now the American Federal Bureau of Investigation was putting everything that he'd seen previously to shame.

More than half of what he was filling out didn't even apply to him since he wasn't a US citizen, but of course there were no 'not applicable' bubbles anywhere on these stupid green forms, and when he'd asked the woman at the desk who'd handed him the paperwork in the first place, all he'd received was a blank stare in return. Even his best attempt at flirting hadn't been enough to get her to budge about what had to be completed, though calling it his best attempt wasn't saying much right now considering how long it had been since he'd slept. At this point he was filling in what he could and making up answers for the rest and praying that he managed well enough that he wouldn't have to redo anything. Although if any did come back with red flags, he was damn well making Coop figure it out. After all, it had been his idea to pull Mick into this new team he was putting together in the first place.

Mick rubbed his forehead and then flipped to the next page. To be fair, the fact that his plane had only arrived two hours ago—and that his miserable luck when it came to sleeping on planes had held all-too true— was a good part of what had him in such a lousy temper, and he knew it. His original plan had been to get in a couple days early, meet up with Coop and do some catching up, and get the lay of the land a little before getting down to work, but with the strikes in Cardiff his flight to Paris had been held up, and then they'd had to route him through bloody Chicago rather than directly here, and between the delay and the detour all of his extra time had disappeared. He hadn't even had a chance to drop his suitcase off at his temporary FBI-assigned flat before being shoved into this room with twenty-odd strangers and a stack of papers ten inches high.

He reached the end of the third packet, and this time he did swear under his breath as he realized that he still had one line of green bubbles left. He went back up the page checking quickly and found his error, but the missed question had been about thirty lines earlier so he was going to have to waste another five minutes just shifting his answers down. He shook his head and made an attempt at erasing the last bubble he'd filled in, but apparently he'd been given a defective pencil along with everything else because all it did was smudge up the paper. And he knew that there weren't any pencils in the suitcase sitting beside him. He sighed and looked up. "Can I borrow a rubber?"

Stares and then laughter—some smothered, most not—met his question, and he flushed even as he tried to figure out what the hell he'd said that was funny.

"Suppose if you really want one, they'll have them at the drugstore down on the corner," the man behind him said quietly, a drawl audible in his voice, "but I'm having a hard time believing that anyone is that into paperwork."

Mick twisted to scowl him, opening his mouth to snap that of course he wanted a rubber—how else was he supposed to change his responses on these damn forms?—when he remembered that what Americans called a rubber, he would have called a condom. It, along with a few other language oddities, had been a good source of jokes when Coop and the other Americans had first been grafted into his unit, and if he wasn't half asleep, he'd have remembered that. "Eraser," he growled, feeling his flush deepen. On a better day, he might have managed to come up with a joke to cover his mistake, but right now he just wanted to sink into the desk.

The amusement in the other man's eyes didn't fade, but he did refrain from any more commentary as he offered a pencil with an intact rubber, and Mick took it with a mutter of thanks that was more automatic than genuine. Great way to make a first impression on his new coworkers, there. If he was very lucky no one in this room would be working within twenty miles of Coop's new team, but given the way his luck had been going the last few days, he'd probably be running into half a dozen of them on a daily basis.

There was some commotion a few minutes later as the man who'd loaned Mick the pencil tried to turn in his paperwork and ended up in an argument with the woman at the desk. He managed to convince her to take it by the simple expedient of dropping it on the desk and walking out the door despite her protests, but some dark muttering followed him from the others in the room, and Mick couldn't help but hope that the scene would be enough to make the others in the room forget his little faux pas. Although he had no idea what the muttering could be about; his best guess was that the guy was headed for some kind of white collar division given that he was a good eight or ten years older than Mick rather than a few years younger like most of the people in the room, and he'd seemed pretty harmless. Sure he'd been grinning as much as the rest of them about Mick's mistake, but in the end, at least he'd helped.

It took another half an hour, but Mick finally got the last of his paperwork done, and he handed the packet of papers to the woman at the desk and headed for the exit with a definite feeling of relief. He'd call Coop and let him know that he'd finally made it into town and then catch a taxi to his new flat. Hopefully sleeping the rest of the day away would put him in a better frame of mind.

"Mick!" a familiar voice called before he had time to do more than pull out his mobile.

He halted, dropping it back into his pocket as a smile split his face. "Coop. I wasn't expecting to see you today." He met the other man's outstretched hand automatically and pulled him into a quick hug of greeting.

"I got your message about your flight troubles, but no one called to say you'd missed check-in here, so I figured I'd stop by and try and catch you after paperwork was done," Cooper said. "I was going to introduce you to Prophet, too, but he had somewhere to be this afternoon so you'll have to meet him tomorrow."

As glad as he was to see Cooper, Mick was just as glad that he wouldn't be meeting anyone else today. He didn't particularly want to embarrass himself in front of a stranger that he knew that he was going to be working with, and as tired as he was, it was almost bound to happen.

"So do you want to grab something to eat?"

"Food sounds great." Not quite as great as sleep, maybe, but Mick could hold out for another hour or two, especially since Coop was right here.

It was amazing what a night's rest could do, Mick decided as he made his way to the gym. It turned out to be only a few miles from his flat, and he'd ended up walking it just to stretch out a little. He hadn't forgotten Coop's obsession with Kali.

He was curious about this new team member that he was supposed to meet. Coop had filled him in on the basics yesterday afternoon, but the basics didn't amount to much more than a nickname—Prophet—and the fact that he was an ex-con who'd killed a pedophile and spent a little over six years in jail for it before being pardoned. And that he'd finished his criminology degree after his release. Now, Mick was about the last person who'd get sanctimonious about killing, and he couldn't say that he'd shed a tear over a pedophile, but despite the degree, he was still a little unsure about what in particular had made Coop pick the man for his team. And even more unsure about how Coop had been allowed to pick him. Granted that if he got the urge, Coop could probably talk a drowning man into having a glass of water, but Mick was pretty sure that there were rules about turning felons into federal agents.

He snorted. Then again, there were rules about foreign nationals too, and while Mick's security clearance—it had officially expired after he'd left the military, but things like that got fuzzy sometimes—had probably helped smooth things over, Coop must have pulled plenty of strings to get him this job as well. Apparently when Cooper said he was putting together an experimental team, he'd really meant experimental.

There was a truck idling on the street in front of the gym, and Mick cut around it, only to pause as he caught sight of a man standing on the driver's side step and talking to whoever was inside. He wasn't totally sure, but that looked an awful lot like—

The man grinned suddenly and said something that Mick couldn't make out over the rumble of the engine, and then he leapt back off the step, landing neatly on the pavement. The engine revved as the driver made a decidedly rude gesture, and then the truck pulled out slowly.

The man shook his head, still smiling, and Mick bit back a groan because that was definitely the man that had loaned him the pencil yesterday. And, short of an incredible coincidence, Prophet. So much for not embarrassing himself.