It might sound weird, but my favorite part of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was when Benji stubbornly refused to let Ethan send him away. That part, according to TV Tropes and Idioms, qualifies as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. It also, to me, establishes Benji as having more depth than just a source of comic relief-he's also incredibly loyal, and brave enough to face danger to help his friend (as you might guess, he's my absolute favorite character). So this is a tribute to that.

The former IMF agents were still in the boat bunker, having figured out their plan. They would stay there and catch a few hours of sleep, head for Morocco in the morning. Ethan had considered finding a hotel (or two, to further prevent their being found by anyone who might be looking for them), but Benji was adamant that they not split up, because there was safety in numbers, and that way they wouldn't have to worry about the risks of regrouping. And while his reasons were logical, Ethan half wondered if the tech was also worried that he'd try to give him the slip and head off after Ilsa on his own. Well, he wouldn't do that. Loathe as he was to admit it, this mission would be a lot easier with Benji there to help.

Once they had that settled, Benji had flopped right down on one of the roll-out beds and gone to sleep, barely taking the time to change out of his tux into some less formal sleepwear. Ethan, try as he might, was not having the same success. Too pumped up about what they had to do, too busy thinking about how badly he wanted to take down the Syndicate...too surprised by the fact that his friend had chosen to stand by him. It showed him, to his surprise and chagrin, just how much he had been underestimating Benji.

Oh, Ethan knew that the Brit was a skilled computer expert, and a capable agent, despite the goofball personality...that was it. That was the crux of the matter, right there. Mostly what he saw, because mostly everyone saw it, was Benji's open, awkward demeanor. And because of that, and because of his habit of reacting fearfully to dangerous situations when everyone else was keeping their cool, Ethan didn't always expect as much of him as he should. Not when it came to something like this, anyway. After all, didn't he remember the man's behavior the first time Julia had been kidnapped, when he'd needed the tech's help?* First he'd tried to hang up, and then, even while giving him help, he'd spent nearly the whole time worrying about getting in trouble. It seemed only natural that when something this big came up, he'd want to be safe.

And yes, he hadn't backed out when they'd been in a Ghost Protocol situation, but there'd been more of them, and even though their equipment was limited, they still had a lot of it, and at least they weren't being actively hunted by their own government.** He'd still had some measure of security, compared to now, when it was basically just the two of them against the world. And if they failed, it wouldn't be as simple as them getting to share a prison cell, it would be them sharing a cemetery. But this time, he didn't seem at all afraid, and he definitely wasn't backing out. Somewhere, Benji had changed.

The older agent reflected back on his words after being told to leave, because Ethan couldn't protect him: "That's not your decision to make, Ethan! I am a field agent, I know the risks! More than that, I am your friend, no matter what I tell the polygraph every week! Now you called me because you needed my help, and you still do! So I am staying. And that's all we're going to say about that."

Surprised by what was basically an unexpected pledge of loyalty, Ethan had only been able to say, after a moment, "...Okay."

That level of loyalty and courage was both admirable...and downright frightening. Because Ethan cared about his friend too, and after losing so many people on account of his job, the idea of losing another one was horrifying. And he wasn't sure how to stop worrying about it.

Benji snored loudly, and shuffled around, nearly tipping out of his bunk before somehow getting himself re-centered. Then he settled, and relaxed into deeper slumber. Ethan couldn't help smiling fondly, with temporary relief from his black thoughts. He could count on Benji, he knew that. And he could take care of himself in a tight spot, for all his quirks. He just wished that he'd be able to repay his friend's devotion somehow.

Later, when the tech would be kidnapped by Solomon Lane and Ethan would be expected to choose between the disk and his friend's life, he would realize that wish had come back to bite him. But now, he just pulled the blanket more snugly over his chest, and tried to get some rest. It was going to be a long day tomorrow, and he needed to follow his friend's example.

*Mission: Impossible III

**Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol

How was it? It's my first Mission: Impossible fic; I don't think it was horrible, but maybe a bit cheesy and/or out of character. I don't feel that close to Ethan, I don't know if I know how he thinks. But if you like it, I am a total sucker for compliments *cough cough, hint hint*. And constructive criticism is always nice. If you could avoid insulting me while giving it *cough cough, hint hint*.