A/N: Just a little something I came up with. Brandt certainly had quite an emotional response to what happened, so I wanted to study that a bit…

Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Hoping Against Odds

The screeching noise of the van speeding up still resonated off the walls of the parking garage. It was still ringing in both of the agents' ears like some kind of an alarm siren as they stared blankly at the now empty space the vehicle had left. Their breaths were still heavy and uneven after the desperate and predictably futile dash from the station. The pure panic that was now settling down in their chests was suffocating them, paralysing their muscles and minds.

The sound of the footsteps behind them brought both Brandt and Ethan out of their short trance.

"She's gone," Luther's voice was low and dull as he began to speak before his friends even turned to face him. "I lost her".

As Brandt's mind was coming out of its stupor, his sheer panic started feeding on the facts, which were now getting connected in his head. They took Benji. She had something to do with it. And now she's gone. And there's no-one to answer for it now. And that was driving Brandt insane. Someone had to be held responsible, someone had to answer for this. He moved his glance from Ethan to Luther, as countless possibilities of what was going to happen next were buzzing in his brain like bees in a hive. None of them was good. Ethan was looking away from the other two men, as if scanning the opposite wall for some kind of an answer. And that made Brandt even angrier.

"She set us up, Ethan," he hissed, his glare drilling holes through the back of the older agent's head.

"No," Ethan sounded breathless as he spoke, "she delivered a message".

Brandt hated hearing it. Hated this feeling of guilt and failure. Hated feeling so helpless while this madman might be about to do God-knows-what to his friend. Hated himself for not being able to do anything in the most critical moment after all the days he had spent trying to keep both Ethan and Benji safe; to keep them alive. He hated everything. He began to pace, trying to put at least some of his anger into some physical activity.

"She set us up!" he yelled, much louder than he had planned to. He didn't care much about that. "She knew this would happen!"

"Only Lane knows what's going to happen!" Ethan's voice had risen in volume as well, as he finally turned to face the younger agent. He was shaking a bit, and in a split second Brandt saw it in his features: the same panic that was filling him. The sight of Ethan Hunt panicking was not something Brandt was used to seeing. It was flat out unsettling.

Brandt didn't have the chance to respond as the phone rang in the older man's hand and he picked it up wordlessly. There was a silence, both Brandt and Luther watching Ethan's face intently as he listened to whoever it was on the other side.

"I'm listening," he all but rasped after a few seconds. A few more moments later he managed to utter "I accept" in an equally low and defeated tone.

The silence that followed Ethan hanging up seemed to last for hours. The leader's jaw was clenched tightly as he seemed to be deep in thought, unable to produce a sound.

"He wants the disc, unlocked, by midnight tonight," Ethan finally spoke, trying to keep his voice calm and even.

Brandt realised he was shaking his head from the middle of that sentence. No. God, no. That demand was something truly impossible. There was no way they could unlock the disc. No way to get the data. No way to save Benji's life. The panic and worry he had been feeling up to this point were now giving way for pain and grief.

"Ethan," Luther's voice was strained, his eyes glistening with unshed tears. He understands, too, Brandt realised, feeling his throat tighten. "There's only one person on Earth who can unlock that disc".

"We have to take the Prime Minister," Ethan's voice was barely above whisper. This whole situation was ridiculous. So ridiculous it caused a bitter laugh to escape Brandt's mouth.

"Let's just think about that for a minute," he commented dryly, feeling lost more than anything.

"It's the only way to get Benji back," the older agent replied, his voice filling with determination.

"Ethan, that's exactly what Lane wants you to do," Brandt argued weakly. He couldn't understand whether Ethan really was that insane or just in denial. He wanted to get Benji back just as much as Ethan did, but this was taking things way too far.

He listened to Ethan's rambled response, which made little to no sense, and for a moment he wondered whether one of them had gone insane. Maybe this was all a figment of his imagination, a dream he would wake up from to find everything to be in order. He had to shake himself. This was real. Benji was gone. They had to deal with it. However, a small part of him wanted to hope against all odds. It kept telling him that he couldn't give up, that there had to be another way. He watched Ethan clench his hands into fists and take a deep breath. The leader clearly had to take a pause to get calm enough to explain the plan.

Once Ethan had finished, the senses of grief and panic loosened their grips on the other two agents. They had something to do now. They had to focus on that and move all of their fears and concerns to the side.

The three wasted no time before rushing to the abandoned apartment that served as their safe house. The fact that they had a plan now was endlessly comforting, but even then…

"Ethan, what if…" Brandt felt awful for bringing it up, but he felt like he had to. They had to be ready for it. His usual straightforwardness momentarily gave up on him, and he stuttered. "We have no proof that Benji's even…"

"He's alive," Ethan interrupted, slightly louder and harsher in tone than necessary.

"How can we be so sure?" Brandt asked, his voice soft and quiet. "I want it to be true as much as you do, but…"

"We'll get him back," Ethan cut him off again, nodding to himself slightly. Brandt realised that Ethan was every bit just as scared as he was. He wasn't sure if it made him feel any better though. He sighed. They had no right to give up now. It would mean giving up on Benji for good, and they couldn't do that. They had to do what they could and hope. Against all odds.

The End