A/N: So… I don't know where this idea came from, it was quite random. I hope you enjoy it though!
Disclaimer: I don't own them!
Nothing to Worry About
Benji blinked the bleariness away as he worked on the control panel in a tiny server room in a laboratory in the middle of nowhere. His left leg could barely support his weight, the right one rendered useless by one of the guards' bullets. The guard had gotten it worse though, Benji supposed, what with the hole in his skull from Benji's gunshot and all that. Thinking back to his own state, Benji suspected that there might be something wrong with his left knee as well, from the way it kept budging in all the wrong directions, but he didn't have much time to ponder on that.
He kept blinking furiously, staring at the video feeds from the security cameras inside and around the building. The light-headedness was beginning to really bother him. So was the voice in his head… no, wait, that wasn't a voice, that was Brandt in his earpiece.
"- see him? Do you copy? Benji!" Benji realised that Brandt must have been trying to get an answer from him for quite a while now.
"Yeah, yeah," Benji hummed, shaking his head. He needed to focus. "I, uh… can't see him on any of the security cameras…"
The place looked completely deserted, safe for a couple guards Benji had dealt with earlier. Well, 'dealt with' might be a generous term, as they had managed to deal with his ability to walk rather significantly, but he was alive and they weren't, so that was the gist of it. The team's diversion had clearly worked – Ethan had led most of their forces away and right into the IMF trap. Benji tried not to worry about that part of the plan. He heard no freaking out about it from Brandt yet, so that was a good sign.
The main trap for their actual target, one Peter Shepherd, was supposed to be here, in this laboratory with his biological weapons. He had to be here, to try to activate the weapons. Ethan's little stunt was also supposed to make him think that the IMF's major forces were away from this place, making this a perfect moment for him to act.
"-right? Benji!" Brandt's voice drifted in again, and Benji had to shake himself to focus.
"Are you alright?" great, Brandt was beginning to sound worried. That never meant any good.
"Yeah, totally, fine," he replied absent-mindedly, trying to sound as nonchalant as he could.
"You sure?" there was a strain in Brandt's voice now. Benji was thankful it wasn't Ethan he was talking to though. For some reason Ethan was the person Benji could never lie to. It wasn't like he enjoyed lying to Brandt that much anyway…
"Yes, mum," the Englishman almost growled. He had to lean more heavily on the control panel he was holding onto with his hands, his legs becoming less of a support with every passing second. It was that moment when he thought he saw something on one of the screens.
"Uh, Brandt, I think I got him," he tried to keep the breathiness away from his voice as he started to type. "He's headed to the eastern exit. Gotcha!" with a few taps on some keys, the exit was blocked, and Benji could almost see the confusion and frustration on Shepherd's face, even though the quality of the security camera's feed was nowhere near good enough for that.
"Benji…" there was something new in Brandt's tone… something sounding a lot like alarm. Benji didn't like it at all. "I pick up some readings… downstairs… right below you…"
"What readings?" Benji found it increasingly difficult to type and stay upright, since now he could only use one of his arms for support. His fingers were flying over the keyboard as he scanned the building's monitoring systems. There seemed to be some kind of a heating anomaly there… "Shit…"
"What is it?" Brandt was even more agitated now, and this time Benji couldn't blame him. "What's wrong?"
"Looks like we had a wrong map of this place," Benji noticed the target approach another exit and barely managed to block it in time. "The weapons are right below the server room. They are activated and are heating up".
"Heating up?" Brandt repeated dumbly, and Benji almost felt annoyed.
"The building is going to explode, polluting the area of about fifty square kilometres around," the Englishman mumbled, thinking out his next move.
"Can you stop it?"
"I don't know…" Benji was blinking more rapidly now as he worked. After a moment of silence, which he was thankful for, he felt his insides freeze. "It's… it's encrypted. I don't- I don't think I have enough time".
There was an audible sigh on the other side.
"You've got to get out," Brandt tried to keep his voice even, but failed hopelessly. "Can you hear me? Get the hell out of there! Benji!"
Whatever it was that Brandt said after that, Benji missed it entirely, blocking out all the distractions, his mind working faster than ever before with some miraculous spike of energy. His eyes were welling up, his whole body shaking from the strain, pain digging into him like daggers. After the tap on the last needed key he finally sank to the floor, rubbing his face and finally taking a better look at all the blood covering a large part of his trouser leg and forming a noticeable puddle around him. He allowed himself to shut his eyes for a moment before hearing the sound of approaching footsteps. Just as he had expected…
"Who are you?" a gruff voice sounded next to him, and he slowly cracked his eyes open. Just as he had thought, the first thing he saw was a gun pointed at him.
"Someone you really need alive," Benji really wished his speech wasn't as slurred as it was. He swallowed thickly and took a deep breath.
"Why's that?" the gun was not lowered a slightest bit, but it wasn't a problem. The real problem was that Benji was beginning to see red spots. He didn't know how long he could stay awake for. And it was crucial.
"Because I'm the one who knows how to open the doors," Benji explained simply.
As he had predicted, the gun was now lowered. Shepherd rushed to the control panel, kicking Benji out of the way. The agent fell on his side with a pained groan. He ignored Brandt frantically calling his name in his earpiece.
After a minute of futile tapping on the keyboard, Shepherd finally turned back to Benji, who was now trying to prop himself up back into a sitting position using his arms.
"Do you realise that this place is going to explode in less than seven minutes?" he shouted angrily. Great, he's panicking, Benji thought, that's probably a good thing. "And you're not leaving here!"
"Figured that out a while ago," Benji replied incredulously, looking down at his immobile legs and gesturing widely. "But the thing is… neither are you".
Shepherd punched the desk near the control panel in frustration.
"So what I think you should do first is deactivate the weapons," Benji's voice was now monotonous and quiet, "and then see if maybe I tell you how to get out".
"And what if," Shepherd drew his gun again, aiming it at the agent, "what if I get it out from you my way?"
"And what if I don't tell you?" Benji barely had the energy to even feel scared. He did not expect Shepherd to actually pull the trigger. That was why he couldn't stop a loud yelp from escaping his lips when the gunshot rang out like thunder, the bullet ripping through his shoulder.
Brandt's yelling in his earpiece was kind of comforting this time. The voice was bringing him back to reality. Benji almost smiled at the sound but shook himself in time to see Shepherd approaching him, aiming his gun at Benji's other shoulder.
"Tell me how to open the doors," he growled, stepping onto the gunshot wound on Benji's leg but not applying any pressure yet.
"Look," he said, his voice shakier and weaker with every sound. "I'm really close to passing out," that wasn't even a lie. "You have about three or four minutes to deactivate the weapons. Otherwise we're both dead. Of course, you can kill me now, but the effect will be the same".
For a few seconds, they just stared at each other. Benji sneaked a side glance at his leg, Shepherd's foot still resting on it threateningly. Finally, Shepherd swore loudly and jogged out of the room. Benji allowed himself to breathe deeper. The darkness in his vision was growing in sync with the ringing in his ears. The ringing almost overpowered another sound… a voice calling for him almost desperately. It took him too much of an effort to focus enough to hear it.
"Benji… Benji, Ethan is on his way to you," Brandt's voice was shaking almost as much as Benji's had been a few seconds ago. "ETA five minutes," Benji only managed to hum in response, noting in the back of his mind that it meant that Ethan had made it okay.
"He will need to get in. Can you open the door for him?" Benji almost laughed at that, too many memories hitting him at once, parts of previous conversations overlapping and creating a white noise in his head in addition to the ringing in his ears.
"Can be done remotely," Benji breathed out, unable to get his voice above a whisper. He was grateful that Brandt didn't comment on that, keeping it short instead with an emotionless "How?"
"Check your mail," was all Benji managed to get out before darkness finally consumed him and he felt like he was falling.
Voices. There were voices – or maybe whispers – around him. No matter how hard he tried to focus and listen though, he couldn't understand a single word. He needed to keep trying. He also needed to open his eyes, because something was telling him he was not on the floor in that server room anymore.
After an indefinite time of struggling, he began to make out individual words. The voices were comfortingly familiar as well.
"Rise and shine," he finally clearly heard from right next to him. This voice was the last voice he had heard before passing out, he remembered that clearly. Brandt.
Slowly, Benji forced his eyes to open. The light momentarily made him feel dizzy, causing his world to spin. Or maybe it was some kind of a painkiller he was on that was causing it. Nothing hurt, which supported his painkiller version. Benji blinked again and again, clearing the dark spots away from his vision, until he finally could see a face in front of his own.
As soon as the doctor had finished a check up on him, he decided to try to say something.
"Hi," his throat felt really scratchy and dry. As if reading his mind, Brandt reached out somewhere out of Benji's view and produced a glass of water with a straw.
"Here," he said quietly, lifting the glass to Benji's lips.
"Thanks," Benji sighed contently. That was some of the best tasting water he had ever drunk.
"Do I need to tell you how unbelievably stupid and reckless the thing you did was?" Brandt still kept his voice quiet, and Benji noted that the man had apparently gotten considerably better at controlling his emotions. He almost pointed it out aloud, but the painkillers didn't let his mind stay with the same point for too long.
"Was it like one of the stupid and reckless things Ethan would do?" he wondered instead.
"Benji, what the hell were you thinking?!" Ethan's voice drifted from the door the doctor had just left through.
"Is that a yes?" Benji suppressed a chuckle as Ethan walked across the room and took a seat at his other side. The older agent placed his hand on Benji's uninjured shoulder, giving it a familiar squeeze.
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Never better," Benji grinned like Cheshire cat.
"He's pumped with painkillers," Brandt reminded a slightly bewildered Ethan. "Although according to him, he's always totally fine".
Benji completely missed the blame in that sentence, as his eyelids were already heavy again, and he was pulled into sleep.
Next time he woke up everything felt different. He felt pain in his legs, shoulder and ribcage. The last one made him wonder. He didn't remember taking any hits there. He looked around him to see that the two of his friends were at the same spots as before. He tried to shift in his bed, but the smallest motions drew a hiss of pain from him.
"Feeling better?" the saltiness in Brandt's tone didn't go past him this time, but he merely winced.
"Why do my ribs hurt?" he inquired instead of giving an answer.
Brandt looked at Ethan, who took a breath before speaking.
"Two of them are cracked. When I got into the room, you were unconscious, and Shepherd was standing beside you…" he paused, as if trying to choose the right words. "I think he had been trying to wake you up and when you didn't come to, he just began to kick you".
Benji took a sharp breath.
"Well, someone got frustrated," he mumbled awkwardly.
"Frustrated," Ethan repeated. He shut his eyes tightly for a second. When he opened them again, there was something in them that looked like anger at an unpleasant flashback. "What if, instead of kicking you out of frustration, he had decided to shoot you? What if he had killed you before I ever had the chance to get there?"
"Ethan," Benji felt the worry in his friend's voice and it was killing him. "I know, but… I couldn't see any other way. I needed him to deactivate those weapons, and I couldn't find another way…" he was stopped by Ethan once again squeezing his shoulder.
"I know," the older agent said curtly. He sighed. "Just… be careful next time".
Benji wanted to say "Look who's talking!" but decided against it. In their line of work, things like these were obvious as they were. There was no need to say them. They both knew that situations like this were unavoidable. Instead, he turned back to Brandt.
"Brandt, look…" but whatever he was about to say was cut off immediately.
"Let's just make a deal, okay?" Brandt still looked slightly shaken. "If you are not okay, you will not tell me that you are okay. If something is wrong, or you are hurt, don't try to hide it. I know that at the time, it might seem like you are too much in a hurry to talk about it, or you don't want to make us worry. But it may lead to us misjudging the situation terribly. I just… I need to know, okay? Primarily as someone who might need to send reinforcements… But also as your friend".
Benji didn't know what to say. Fatigue was catching up with him once again, and he only managed a nod. Before his eyes closed, he finally saw a small smile grow on Brandt's face, and the feeling of calm and contentment settled in his bruised chest.
Everything was going to be just fine. At least until their next mission.