After the dust settles, and Booker is exiled, and Andy’s wounds heal, they go to ground.
Nile had thought Joe and Nicky might need some time on their own after their shared ordeal, but instead they seem to be trading off shifts to keep Andy in sight at all times. Andy isn’t as visibly in need of reassurance, but she’s been through her own ordeal. Nile sees the way she relaxes when Joe or Nicky are around; the way she only smiles for them.
Nicky cooks a lot - a lot - which Nile guesses is its own kind of therapy, and Joe fortifies their position. It’s almost ridiculous to think of it that way, because they’re in a vacation house on the outskirts of a small town in the middle of nowhere, but it’s also obvious that’s what he’s doing. None of them like camera surveillance, but they have an alarmed security perimeter and a weapons cache you wouldn’t expect to find inside a house that looks like it should be listed on Airbnb.
Nile knows what they’re thinking without anyone needing to say it. They won’t be caught by surprise like they were outside of Paris. Not ever again.
There are three bedrooms, and Nile figures out which one is hers when duffel bags and backpacks appear in the others. She guesses this must have been Booker’s room, and doesn’t know how she feels about that. She doesn’t know how the others feel about it, either.
There’s not much in the room, but she finds a worn Bible in the bedside table and thumbs through it, looking for dog-eared pages or underlines, for traces of Booker left behind. She doesn’t find any, and puts it back in the drawer where she found it to read later.
They eat meals together. They go for runs. They read the books left scattered around the house, and the new ones Joe brings back when he goes into town. They spend several days in a row doing competitive chess puzzles torn from a yellowed, second-hand paperback published in the eighties. It takes a while for Nile to realize that she’s not the only one leaving her bedroom door open at night. None of them want to be alone.
Nile still doesn’t understand anything Joe and Nicky say when they lapse into Italian, but she’s slightly better with Dari after Afghanistan, if not by much, and the others are fluent. She’s learning. Joe warns her that their Italian is outdated and their Persian is worse, but it still translates well enough.
“We can’t keep up,” Joe explains, while Nile is running something Nicky just said through Google. “The world changes. We leave a place and come back to it a hundred years later, and the words are different. The accents are different. After a while, you don’t try as hard.”
Andy looks over Nile then, assessing in a way that makes Nile stand up taller automatically, shoulders squaring, like she’s back in basic training.
“Speaking of keeping up,” Andy muses. “We need to start training you.”
Training, Nile discovers, involves what Andy calls ‘retrieval missions’ and what Nile calls ‘capture the flag’. It’s slightly more elaborate than that, but the idea is the same: Drop in teams, retrieve the target - or t-shirt, in this case - from the center of an abandoned compound, and clear the perimeter without leaving anyone behind.
“You too, Boss?” Joe asks, when Andy outlines their mission parameters. Nile can’t tell if he’s asking whether she’s going to be with them, or whether it’s going to be the rest of them versus her, which Nile would still consider long odds.
Andy gives him a look, fond and intimate, so far from anything else Nile sees from Andy that it takes her off-guard. “You’re not getting rid of me that easily. Two-on-two, rotating teams.”
“Sure, Boss,” Nicky agrees, shifting his weight automatically to what Nile recognizes as a combat-ready stance, even if it isn’t one from anything like her time. “Weapons?”
Andy purses her lips, and Nile wonders if they’d be hacking each other to pieces if Andy weren’t mortal now. She decides she doesn’t want to know.
“We could use paintball guns,” Nile suggests. “And batons. They’ll leave a bruise, but nothing more if we’re careful with them.”
Andy nods like she’s agreeing, and then asks what a paintball is. They put the conversation on hold for a field trip, where Joe and Nicky go on a gleeful rampage and Nile just tries to keep up, while Andy spectates from the sidelines.
“This will work,” Andy decides, when they’ve changed out of paint-splattered clothes and gone out for drinks. “Let’s order what we need, and I’ll find a compound.”
“Who’s up first?” Joe asks, and Andy’s gaze sweeps the table.
“Nile, you’re going to lead your teams. You need to learn how we operate, and that’s the fastest way. Take Nicky,” she tells them. “He’ll be the easiest. You can work your way up to me.”
When Andy says ‘the easiest’, she must have anticipated the nervous jitters Nile can’t shake before their first run. Nile can’t wrap her head around the thought of leading someone who’s a thousand years old into an operation, even after a full day spent planning and strategizing. She thinks she’d have been fine with Joe, too, although Joe’s more passionate in expressing his opinions, and Nile doesn’t know whether she’d have wanted to stand up to him. She’s definitely not ready to give orders to Andy.
Nicky just listens to her plans, offers a few suggestions, and nods acceptance when she makes command decisions. He’s taking it easy on her, but Nile thinks it’s also in his nature, to make peace with whatever curveball the universe hurls his way. In this case, the curveball is her: a U.S. Marine gone AWOL partway through her first tour of duty, with no command experience and very little time in the field. She must seem so young to them, she thinks, such a child; and then her stomach turns over again, so she stops thinking about it.
They spend the hour before the mission at their base of operations, which is the kitchen table now that dinner’s been cleared away. Nile tries to keep her leg from jumping, her mind from spinning in the same circles. She tries to clear her head. They’ve gone over the plan a dozen times; there’s no need to do it again. She doesn’t know how this is going to go. She knows she wants to prove herself, maybe more than she’s ever wanted anything else in her life.
Nicky sits across from her in silence, oiling his sword. She’s never seen him fight with it, but he handles it like it’s a part of him, the same way Nile saw Andy handle her labrys. She wonders if it’s as old as he is, or older.
Nicky looks up when Nile’s leg starts jittering again for at least the tenth time, and when he doesn’t look down again, she pulls out her earbuds.
“It’s not just for you,” Nicky tells her. “She hasn’t said it, but this is for Andy, too. For all of us. We need to learn how to work together in a new way, now that one of us is mortal. It’s been a very long time since she has remembered her own mortality.”
Nile turns that over a few times, thinking about how they’d all moved to protect Andy before, and about the way Andy had acted over Booker’s body outside of Paris, her fear when he hadn’t revived.
“It could be any of you, though. Any time. You might become mortal, too.”
It could be Nile, too, although she doesn’t know how to handle that yet. She’s still getting used to the idea that it won’t be her, not unless something changes. Nile wonders when, exactly, she’ll stop being ‘too new’ to die.
“We might die, yes. But Andy will die, and that means that if one of us must be sacrificed for the others or for the mission, it will not be her.”
Nile watches Nicky care for his sword the way he must have done a hundred-thousand times over, his fingers familiar and relaxed but still careful on the blade. She thinks it’s probably the same way he touches Joe. She thinks about one of them coming back one day without the other, and her mind shudders away from the thought.
“How do you do it? How can you walk into those situations, knowing…?”
She doesn’t know how to ask it, but Nicky seems to understand, after looking up to search her face. “I can face death because he is at my side, and we face it together. Andy, too. And Booker, although that will take some time to heal.”
Nile knows she looks skeptical by the way Nicky’s mouth curls up at one corner when he catches her eye. She looks away, uncomfortable and not sure how to express herself with someone who thinks on such different terms, and such a different scale.
“It is different, when you’re alone,” Nicky tells her. “That’s why it was different for Booker. He thought he was alone.”
Nile folds her arms over her chest, thinking. “So what will be different now? With Andy. You said you’d have to learn how to work together again. Is that because of Booker, too?”
Nicky makes a thoughtful noise. “Partly.” He falls silent, and Nile wonders if that’s all the answers she’s getting, but after a moment he continues. “I read about astronauts, when they were new. It was such a wondrous thing, to leave the world, to see it from above, as we imagine God does. The astronauts say that when they return to Earth, they have to take care, because they have forgotten gravity. After weeks or months, they return to the world they have known all their lives, and they forget they cannot simply open their hand and let go. They forget that objects fall.”
Nicky turns his sword over to check it, the blade now gleaming bright. “Andy has lived lifetimes without knowing gravity. How easy will it be for her to forget that she can fall?”
Nicky slides his sword into its scabbard, satisfied, and Nile realizes she doesn’t know why he’s just spent all this time cleaning it. They’ve all agreed they won’t use bladed weapons. It’s too dangerous, and they don’t want anyone to get seriously hurt.
Nile gestures to the sword. “Why did you do that? You’re not going to use it, right?”
“It’s just a ritual, I suppose. It’s what I do to prepare myself, before a battle.”
“Is that what this is going to be? A battle?” She’d been thinking of it as a game. A training game, sure, a competitive one, but still a game.
“For Joe and Andy, it will be.” Nicky catches her eye again and smiles. “So for us too, if we're wise.”
Nile thinks about how her platoon prepared for combat, anytime they thought they might see action. She nearly reaches up to clasp the gold cross around her neck, and then hesitates, remembering Andy.
“Are you going to make fun of me for praying?”
She hadn’t really thought he would, but it’s still a relief when Nicky answers. “No. We all have rituals. We all ask for grace in our own ways.”
The skeptical look is back; Nile can feel it twist her face, along with something slightly bitter. “Not Andy.”
“Andy, too.” Nicky takes the sword in its scabbard and sets it between his knees, hilt up, and Nile sees the shape of it then; the outline of the cross. “She has just found her grace elsewhere.”
The training exercise goes badly. Nile knows it isn’t a real battle, but she still feels guilty and sick when Nicky goes down under a blow from the wooden dowel Andy carries in place of her labrys. Nile has seen Andy in action; she knows what that blow would have done, if it had been a real blade. She doesn’t want to imagine the look on Joe’s face, or Andy’s, if Nicky’s head were struck from his shoulders.
She doesn’t have to worry about it for long, because Joe leaps down from the roof behind her with a wooden dowel of his own and slits her throat.
“Don’t take it too hard,” Nicky advises as they return to the house. Andy and Joe’s arms are slung over each other’s shoulders, comrades-in-arms with the flag draped between them. “This was your first mission, and we’ve been doing this together for a very long time.”
Nile knows, logically, that he’s right, and there’s no shame in losing. She still feels awful.
“Victory popcorn,” Joe declares once they’re inside. “We should be given tribute.”
“I’ll do it,” Nicky says, moving past Nile toward the kitchen with a soft smile on his face. He’s taking their sound defeat gracefully, and Nile wishes she could do the same.
Joe’s expression abruptly shifts and he steps sideways, blocking the way to the kitchen. Seeing Nile’s confusion, he explains, “We don’t let Nicky make popcorn. He’s incapable of not burning it.”
Nile looks to Andy automatically for confirmation, but Andy is stripping off her tactical vest and ignoring them. “I thought Nicky was the cook?”
“Making popcorn is not cooking. That's what we tell him so he accepts his limitations,” Joe informs her, sidestepping again as Nicky, with considerably less grace than he’d shown a moment ago, tries to get around him.
“I can make popcorn.”
“Of course you can,” Joe assures him, “but not when anyone else is around to do it, so please move away from the microwave.”
“It says up to four minutes,” Nicky says stubbornly.
“It never means that,” Joe tells him. “Not even close.”
“It says to wait one-to-two seconds between pops.”
“It never means that either. This is how you reduce the simplest convenience food to smoldering gray ash, and the smell afterward is terrible.”
Andy stands up, and her presence is enough to turn all eyes to her, the group's awareness shifting as one. “If you stop arguing about it, we'll get the popcorn faster. And if someone else makes it,” she adds casually, “we might even be able to eat it.”
The next day, it’s Joe’s turn to join Nile’s team, and he finds her in the living room while Andy and Nicky are talking quietly in the kitchen, washing up the breakfast dishes. They’re probably strategizing. Nile needs a better strategy than she had yesterday, or this is going to be another short night.
“What's the plan, Boss?”
It gives Nile a thrill to hear Joe call her that, though she feels guilty for it a second later.
“It shouldn't be me,” she says slowly, stating the obvious. “You and Nicky...you guys have seniority. The new recruit doesn't get the promotion.”
Joe comes all the way into the room to join her at the table, kicking the chair out to make room before he takes a seat. “We don't want it. Andy knows that. There are leaders, and there are warriors, and Nicky and I know our strengths. Sure, if it comes to it, and you're not ready yet, we'll lead together while we finish training you. But you're Andy's chosen successor, and she's not wrong.”
If it comes to it. He's talking about Andy, about her dying, or growing too old to fight alongside them. It seems far off, but compared to the centuries the rest of them have spent working and fighting together, it might as well be an eyeblink.
Nile feels a hot glow of pride at being named Andy's successor, and she thinks Joe must see it on her face, because the smile-lines crinkle at the corners of his eyes.
“We're a team. We work together, all of us. Who goes first through the door doesn't change that.” Joe tips backward in his chair, lazy smile playing around his mouth, and says, “So, what's the plan, Boss?”
Nile doesn't even hear the shot, but suddenly there's a splash of white on the front of Joe's black vest, and he falls down laughing. “Shot to the heart,” he cries, flinging his arms open dramatically wide on the ground. “Molto bene.”
“Shit. SNIPER!” Nile shouts, although there's no one to hear her, as her only soldier is lying dead on the ground, gazing up at the night sky and counting seconds until he's allowed to move again. They’d agreed on a minute for revival time, which means that for now, Joe is out of play.
Her heart is hammering, adrenaline spiking even though she knows this isn't real, it's a game, and that's paint on Joe's vest, nothing more.
“Is that Nicky?” she demands, although she's pretty sure already, given Joe's dramatics.
“Of course it's Nicky,” Joe answers. He reaches the end of his count and starts to roll smoothly to his feet, only to be cut down again by another shot from the dark. Nile still can't see where they’re coming from.
“Mother fuck. Where the fuck is he?” Nile hisses, her back plastered against the wall, inside a narrow doorway. She scans the buildings around them, trying to spot a sniper tower.
“I have a good idea, but it's not really fair telling you when I'm dead for another...48 seconds,” Joe answers, which is no help at all.
Nile counts the seconds until Joe's minute is up, but when the timer runs down, he doesn’t move right away. She doesn't know what he's waiting for until it happens, and then he's moving fast, a tight roll toward the cover still much too far away. He doesn't even come close before Nicky paints him again, this time in the back. Joe sprawls back into the dirt, arms akimbo.
Nile looks around frantically, but there's no other cover; Nicky has them pinned down.
She waits three more minutes, because that's what she'd do, in Nicky's place, leave them cautious and make a sprint for the target; but when she starts to ease out from the meager shelter of the doorway, a paint pellet explodes against the frame, inches from her head.
“Mother fuck,” she says again, seething. He's not even going to let her get a good look at his position. She thinks she's got his direction now, but that's not nearly good enough to get off a shot.
She sees that Joe has tried to use her as a diversion to make a run for cover, and been shot down again as a result. His torso is more white than black now, the wet paint gleaming quicksilver where it isn't coated with dirt and dust.
“Love of my heart,” Joe calls into the night, “there are times when I am moved by the depth of your patience, and times when it is very inconvenient.”
Nile swears, and it takes another moment for her to realize the obvious: If Nicky has them pinned, where is Andy?
She finds out when Andy swings around the corner and her wooden dowel takes Nile across the stomach. Nile doubles over more from surprise than pain, and by the time she straightens, Andy has spun past her to take out Joe the same way. Nile watches, hot with helpless anger, as Andy crosses the compound to retrieve the flag.
Nile takes off after her at a sprint as soon as her minute is up, laying down a barrage of cover fire as best she can, but wherever Nicky is, she still hasn’t fixed his position, and a few seconds later she staggers sideways when a paint pellet bursts on her arm, another thudding into her chest for good measure.
She’s in the open now, just like Joe. This might be the stupidest mission she’s ever led, and after the clusterfucks she’s seen in Afghanistan, that’s saying something.
She doesn’t see Andy slip out of the compound, but as the minutes tick past—with Nile still furiously trying to come up with a new plan, a counter-attack, a way to save this from being a complete disaster—she realizes Andy must be long gone. Nicky too, probably, and when Nile tests her theory by cautiously raising her head from the ground, the silence of the night is unbroken.
Nile drops her head back onto the ground and says, “Fuck.”
Nicky and Joe trap Andy in a locked outbuilding, kill Nile, and retrieve the flag she’d just captured from her body in far less time than the 60-second count it takes Nile to ‘revive’. She's never seen any team work together the way they do. Nicky doesn't look at Joe once the whole time; he just passes Nile's gun, her baton, and the flag over his shoulder, and every time Joe is there.
Andy breaks out and catches them before they can make a clean escape, and Nile watches uselessly as the three of them face off, circling each other. Andy and Joe are grinning like lunatics, and all of them are so fast. Nile's never seen anything like it.
Nile knows her own skill at hand-to-hand combat, but she also knows she wouldn’t last in a fight like this the way Andy is, not against multiple opponents, and not ones as good as they are. She can’t even tell they’re going to move before they do, fluid and practiced, dancing around each other in a deadly circuit.
She sees Joe’s obvious feint, but Andy does too, and doesn’t even twitch in his direction. She doesn’t see what happens with Nicky; whatever it is, it’s such a subtle opening that Nile forgets herself and nearly sits upright when Andy suddenly spins toward him to go in for the kill.
Joe is there before Andy can finish her swing, and somehow Nicky is clear of it, rolling up out of the dust, and they’re both laughing while Andy spits curses at them in shared languages Nile doesn’t know.
“You’re both bastards,” Andy finally finishes in English, and Nile realizes belatedly that it had been another feint, that this time Nicky had passed Andy off to Joe, like she was Nile’s weapons or the flag, and that Joe had been ready and waiting for him to do so.
Nile tenses to jump up and run at them, to try to stop - or most likely, just delay - them, but she’s astonished to see that she still has eight seconds left. The entire fight was over in less than a minute.
By the time she rolls and pushes off from her back to land on her feet, Joe and Nicky are halfway across the compound, disappearing into the darkness.
Nile wants to be a part of that, to move like that, to have them fall in around her like that. No, more than wants to. She will be a part of that.
Nile and Andy linger at the compound to do a sweep for weapons, making sure they haven’t left anything behind. When they finally troop back to the house, it's dark and quiet. Nile frowns as she scans the living room and what's visible of the kitchen. “Joe and Nicky aren't back yet?”
“They're celebrating.” Andy moves past Nile into the room, propping her paintball gun against the wall by the door. “Adrenaline will do that to you.”
Nile's frown deepens. “It wasn't much of a fight.”
“Not for you, maybe.” For a moment, Nile sees a smile cross Andy's face, there and gone in a heartbeat. “They haven't fought against me like that in a long time.”
“You guys don't spar?” It seems like the sort of thing they'd do, to keep honed.
“That wasn't sparring.” Andy goes to the fridge in the kitchen and takes out one of the battered metal canteens they keep filled with water. “That was playing to win.”
Nile doesn't comment, unsure of what the difference is, and not willing to ask when she already feels young and green. She wanders in and turns on a light, since Andy didn't bother. “So...what, more popcorn?”
“Not that kind of celebration.” Andy chugs half of the water in the canteen without pausing, then wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. “We should go out for dinner tonight.”
Nile is about to ask when she realizes what Andy means, and her mouth snaps shut, face going hot.
“Mexican sound good?” Andy grabs money from the envelope on the counter, and stuffs the bills into her pocket. “Come on. They’re giving us a head start to clear out, but they're about nine hundred years past caring who hears them.”
Two plates of taquitos later, Nile has descended into moody introspection, reflecting on just how badly this has all gone so far. Andy is nursing a beer and looking at a piece of tres leches cake like she's either going to seduce or assassinate it. Possibly both.
“I don't know how to fit in,” Nile bursts out finally. It's been curdling inside her, building up steam, just waiting for her patience to run out. “All of you...you have your own styles, your own weapons, you fight like...like they're an extension of your arms. I've never seen anything like that. I don't know how to be like you. Am I supposed to grab a machete or something, and try to make myself that? Because I don't see it happening.”
Andy's gaze turns from the piece of cake to Nile. It's even more unsettling now that it's fixed on her.
“Nicky used to be an archer,” Andy says finally. “Genoese infantry carried crossbows. There's a reason he's still our best sniper. Joe and I first learned to fight on horseback. When the times change, we adapt. We're none of us what we used to be. Not just what we used to be.” She gives Nile another long, considering look, and then turns back to the cake, reaching for her coffee cup and a fork simultaneously. Before she sips, she tells Nile, “This is where you start. You evolve from here.”
Coming from Andy, that's the best inspirational speech Nile has ever heard, but it doesn't quell the night's frustration in her gut. “I failed the mission. All three times.”
Andy says evenly, “So we do it again.”
“For how long?”
Andy's gaze flicks up, briefly, from the bite of cake balanced on her fork. “Until you beat us.”
Like it's just that simple.
The thing is...
Nile thinks it actually might be.
Nile finds Joe cleaning paintball guns at the kitchen table and sits down across from him, folding her arms on the table. “Tell me about Nicky.”
Joe raises an eyebrow, a smile dancing in his eyes. “Aren't we on opposite sides, this next round? Should I be helping the competition?”
Nile raises her eyebrows right back. “Are you really telling me you don't want an excuse?”
“Nicely done. Look, you've already found one of my weaknesses. And my greatest strength. What do you want to know?”
Nile shrugs. “I know how you guys met, but...what was it like, traveling with each other, early on? How did you learn to work together? What was he like?”
“He was a bright shining star. My water in the desert.” Joe smiles faintly, focused on cleaning the next gun in line, but he continues to speak. “He was faster than he had any right to be with that sword, and he was grace itself on the battlefield. Economical. Not a move wasted. You have to be, with a sword like that, because everything is…” Joe's hand curves an arc through the air. “Bigger. Wide. Too easy for someone to get inside your guard. He's quiet, though, in a fight. He can come up behind you and slit your throat and you'd never hear him.”
“I know,” Nile says dryly, and Joe smiles, his eyes flicking up to hers for a moment before he looks down again.
“What can I say? My love is a whisper on the wind. He is the incarnation of an angel.”
“He's standing behind me, isn't he?” Nile asks.
Joe's face splits into a grin. “Like a whisper on the wind.”
“So how much of that was true?” Nile asks, leaning back in her chair and glancing around to see Nicky, who is leaning against the doorway, listening.
Joe shrugs. “All of it. It's not less true because it also helps me to score points.”
Nile hears Nicky snort with soft laughter, and she lets her smile and her tone turn sly. “Didn't you score enough points last night?”
Joe glances up - past her this time, unerring, gaze focused for a long moment - before he answers lightly, “No, I think the points last night weren’t mine.”
Before Nile can ask if they actually keep score - she's not even sure she wants to know how, and they'd probably tell her - Andy joins the conversation. “You can tell when one of them tops by how unbearable the other one is all the next day.”
She moves past Nicky into the kitchen to join them at the table, and Nicky shifts to trail in her wake, responding to some unspoken signal.
Joe looks up and grins at Andy. “Come on, Boss, you don't have to give away all our secrets.”
“She would have figured it out eventually.” Andy looks shrewdly at Nile. “You were asking about Nicky?”
Nile nods cautiously. “About all of you, really. I just started with him.”
“It's a good idea.” Andy smooths her fingers along the woodgrain of the table, and looks up to consult silently with Joe and Nicky in turn. Nile waits for their judgement until Andy says, “Let's all do it. It's been too long since we've talked about how to work as a team. We never did with Book—he found his own way. We can do better.”
Andy's gaze is forward, but Nile gets the sense that the words are for herself, more than for any of them. Joe and Nicky don't say anything, having given their silent agreement, and after a moment Andy stands again.
“I'm getting the liquor. By the time we get around to me, I'll need it.” She retrieves a bottle from the cabinet and lifts one finger from the neck to point at Nile. “Let's start with you.”
Nile sits up, startled and uncomfortable. “Me?”
“You don't think you bring anything to the team?” Nicky's voice is quiet, but there's weight to it, a challenge that Nile can't back down from. “You don't think we deserve to know your strengths, to make them our own?”
“I just don't know what I know that you don't,” Nile says, uncomfortable again.
“That's something we're here to find out,” says Joe, setting the latest gun down on the table and crossing his arms. “I can think of a few things. Drones. Computers.”
“You knew something was off with Booker in the cave,” Andy agrees. “You said something about a satellite phone. You’ll spot something like that before we will. You know about satellites. Internet links.”
“Jumping out of helicopters,” Nicky muses. “Grenade launchers. I've never launched a grenade.”
“And you've never stopped wanting to,” Joe returns, amused. “It's not a giant flaming arrow.”
“It’s close enough,” Andy says, and adds, “Body armor.”
“How to make microwave popcorn,” Joe says thoughtfully, and whatever look he gets from Nicky has him breaking out in another grin.
“Thousands of hours of training, you said,” Andy continues, echoing a conversation that feels like it took place years ago, rather than weeks. “Tell us about it. Let's figure out what you bring to the team.”
It takes Nile another five weeks to win their training games. At the end of it, when she's shot Nicky, taken Joe out with a fake flash-bang, and gone hand-to-hand with Andy for just long enough to make a difference and buy time - although not all three at once - she has to admit it was worth it. Nothing that really matters ever comes easy.
And this team?
They're worth fighting for.