A/N: What can I say… I'm sorry.
"Ethan, I'm sorry," it was not even a whisper. Just a mere breath. "So s-sorry…"
"Shhh, Benji, don't speak, okay? Save your strength," Ethan was pretty sure that there might not be a single uninjured organ in Benji's abdomen. He could sense Benji's ribs shifting, and the way he drew every breath suggested some serious damage to his lungs. "The others friends will get to us soon, you just wait".
Benji drew another breath. Ethan could swear he heard liquid bubbling in that sound. He could feel Benji growing weaker. Could feel him fading. The thought alone filled with him with dread so intense that he felt his insides get cold.
"I'm… tired," Benji rasped, struggling to keep his eyes open and trying to focus on Ethan's face. Even that seemed like a difficult task for him now. "Gotta go… to sleep".
Ethan shook his head violently. So violently that his vision blurred. Or was there something else in his eyes making his sight blurry?...
Gritting his teeth in an agonizing effort, Benji raised his hand to wipe the tears from Ethan's face. His arm went slack almost immediately afterwards, but Ethan caught it and held it in place, pressed to his cheek. It was warm and soft, and Ethan suddenly felt as if it was some kind of a wire keeping him in this world.
"I'm really… tired, Ethan," it was another breath. And somehow it sounded even weaker now. More pained. More desperate. More like a plea. Benji moved his thumb across Ethan's cheekbone, and the older agent closed his eyes, trying to think of the better times but failing. "Gotta sleep," a tear rolled down Benji's face. "I'm sorry…"
Ethan shook his head again, unable to say a word, not even a strangled "no". A few more tears escaped Benji's eyes before they slowly closed. There were a few more shuddering breaths and then there was nothing. Benji went completely limp in Ethan's arms.
Ethan just… froze. He didn't move a muscle, as if afraid to shatter some invisible glass around him. He stared at Benji, as if waiting for him to open his eyes and tell him it was a joke. He stared, and stared, and nothing happened. It was like time itself froze and that moment stretched for years.
The door burst wide open, letting in the light and noises from the outer world.
"Ethan?" Brandt lowered his gun upon seeing no threat in the room. "Jesus, Ethan, Benji, are you okay?"
"Shh," Ethan hissed half-heartedly, his eyes still focused on Benji's face. He continued in a soft whisper. "Benji's sleeping, Brandt. You'll wake him up".
He was gently wiping the dust off Benji's face, running his hands through the younger man's hair.
Feeling a bit shaken, Brandt reached his hand to press his fingers against Benji's neck. His breath got stuck in his throat when he felt nothing. Just the still and cold skin. Way too cold. Stifling a sob, although his breathing got suddenly shaky anyway, Brandt looked back at the older agent.
"Ethan, he's-" the words failed him when Ethan finally looked up at him to fire him a scolding glare. He had never seen Ethan like this. So lost and almost childlike.
"Can't you see?" Ethan whispered almost casually. "He got really tired. Don't wake him up. He needs to sleep".
Brandt just shook his head, his eyes wide. Ethan turned his gaze back to Benji's still face, stroking it with his thumb. "You get your rest, Benji," he whispered gently. "You do need some rest".
Brandt took an involuntary step back. Then another one. The sight in front of him was so macabre and unreal that for a brief second, he wondered if this wasn't some kind of a twisted nightmare. He felt nauseous. He kept backing away until his back hit the wall and he sat down, leaning against it and still watching Ethan softly whispering to Benji's cold body. He pressed the palms of his hands to his face and let the violent sobs wreck him.
Jane and Luther arrived an indefinite time later. Getting Brandt up and out of the room was an easy task, as he obeyed any lead and any command in his state. However, it took Luther a lot of reasoning and pleading before he could take Benji's body from Ethan's arms, promising to not shake him to accidentally wake him up. Only after that did Ethan stand up on shaky legs and slowly walk out of the room. Just outside it, he saw Brandt, his eyes still filled with tears.
"He's not… waking up, is he," Ethan rasped, as if only realizing it now. Slowly, Brandt shook his head. That was when Ethan's world lost all light.