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Three days later
Brandt slowly opened his eyes to find himself laying on the couch.
'Nothing has changed.' He thought, glancing around the silent and still apartment. He craned his neck around the arm of the couch to look down the hall, while straining his ears to check for any signs of being in the company of his team. He heard nothing except the hum of their dinky refrigerator that barely kept the water cold. He felt the dull ache in his broken right forearm and the annoying itch under his cast. He tried to scratch it with a finger, but his cast started at the bottom of his bicep and went to his hand, circling around his thumb preventing him from reaching it. He shifted his position, testing out the soreness of his muscles around the twenty-one stitches in his right lower abdomen. He couldn't help but wince at the pulling of his skin, but overall he could deal with the pain. Slowly, and while holding his breath, he sat up. Once in an upright position, he closed his eyes, leaned back against the couch and took a few deep breaths. After the passing of a few minutes, he reopened his eyes and took in the condition of the apartment for what might have as well been the first time, considering the only other time he had had his eyes open the past three days was to go to the bathroom, which he was too groggy and sore to pay much mind to his surroundings.
It was a run down apartment to say the least. There was no doubt a few bugs occupying the space with them, but fortunately didn't appear to be so run down that rats found it to be livable. A few stains here and there covered the walls and what little possessions and clothes the team had scattered the floor, but there were bags piled in the corner ready to go in a hurry.
Brandt swallowed and the dryness of his mouth made itself known. He looked around the two room apartment once more, scanning for any presence of human life that would scold him from removing his body from the couch without assistance. Not seeing any of the three that posed such a threat, he wearily stood from the couch. His back popped in three places, instantly making him feel human again instead of a couch pillow. He spotted his sling on the small coffee table in front of him. He debated on putting it on, not really wanting the thing, but the ache in his arm was slowly creeping into his shoulder and he did feel a bit unnerved at the thought of Ethan, Jane or Benji finding him not only off the couch, but without his sling.
After his arm was in the sling, he paced himself to the other side of the room where the kitchen was located. He grabbed a glass next to the sink and filled it with tap water from the sink. Drinking down the first glass in two gulps, he refilled it and began to take smaller, slower sips. Brandt turned around and leaned against the counter with his eyes closed. He was enjoying standing, being off the couch, awake and alone, when a voice ruined all of it.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Will jerked in surprise, jarring his shoulder and pulling at his stitches. His eyes opened just as his fingers let go of the glass he was holding, sending it to the floor with a shattering end. Water and glass shot out across the floor, while Brandt stared at Benji with wide eyes and a dropped jaw.
He stammered, trying to get his explanation out before Benji unleashed a wrath of words on him, while slowing attempting to squat down to pick up the glass.
"Woah, woah, woah! Stop, man. Stop!" Benji replied, running from across the room, skillfully avoiding stepping on glass and grabbing Brandt's uninjured shoulder to prevent him from moving any further. Will looked at him and nodded, before straightening back up with a wince. Benji continued to stand in front of him with a disbelieving look.
"What in the world are you doing?"
"Drinking water." Brandt replied. He looked down at the floor, then back up at his friend. "Was drinking water."
Benji scoffed. "Yeah, I can see that. But you shouldn't have been."
Brandt rolled his eyes, wearily leaning back against the counter. "You're right. I should've been drinking something stronger."
"Ah, ah, ah. Alcohol and pain killers don't mix, my friend. But that wasn't what I meant."
Brandt's eyes narrowed at Benji, while he set his jaw. "I know they don't mix, but perhaps that was the point."
"A bit grumpy this afternoon, aren't we?" Benji countered, with a grin that expressed too much amusement for Brandt's liking. He got the memo. "Right, well, let's get you back to the couch and um, I'll clean this up before Ethan and Jane get back."
"No. I'm not sitting on that couch another minute." Brandt protested.
"Come on, Brandt. Don't-"
"No. I mean it Benji. I have to do something, even if it is walking in circles. I can't lay on that couch anymore." He rubbed his hand down his face and yawned, before pushing himself away from the counter and walking past the other agent, towards the door.
"What are you doing?"
Brandt stopped with his hand on the door. "I'm going outside to get some fresh air."
"Oh!" Benji exclaimed, running over to Brandt once more. "No, no, no. You can't do that."
Brandt looked at him with a floored look. "Relax, Benji. I'm just going to stand outside the door, not run around the block."
"Uhhh, no. No, you're not." Benji replied. "You can't."
"I can't?" The other man, rhetorically asked, his voice rising a notch with frustration and anger.
Brandt laughed, took a step as if complying, but when Benji stepped back as well he made for the door only to be stopped by Benji leaning his back against the door and shutting it closed again. Brandt started at the agent with a confused look, which quickly turned to anger.
"Benji, if you don't move, I swear I'm going to kick your ass."
"And just how do you plan to do that without tearing your stitches and with a broken arm?"
"Do you really want to find out?"
"Ok, ok. Brandt just sit down," Brandt narrowed his eyes at him and he quickly recovered, "or stand, whatever it is you want to do, but uh, you gotta do it inside."
"Why?" Will decided to use a different tactic.
"Um, well... Ethan said to keep you in here. Orders are orders." It wasn't technically a lie. He swallowed thickly while Brandt stared him down.
"There's more to it than that. Why doesn't Ethan want you to let me go outside?"
"I don't know."
"Yes, you do."
"Yes. You do."
"I don't, Will. Honest."
"I can't! Because I don't know what to tell you! I don't know."
"Benji." Brandt warned.
"Brandt, I don't know!" Benji yelled, letting his frustration show.
"Where'd they go anyway?" Will asked, mischievously changing the subject.
"They went to track down on a lead on the hit that is out on you!" Benji blurted out, before thinking about it. Once the words, were out of his mouth he sucked in a deep breath in shock. "Damn. I wasn't supposed to tell you that."
"There's a hit on me?" Brandt questioned.
"Ahhh..." Benji drug out unsure of what to say. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the door opened.
"I wonder if Brandt's woken up yet?" Jane questioned, as she followed Ethan up the stairs to their apartment.
"If he has I fear for Benji." Ethan replied, digging the key out of his pocket. They both shared a laugh that seldom came in the last few days, while Ethan unlocked the door. He turned the knob, opened the door and hit something.
He saw Brandt standing wearily just inside the apartment, looking at something behind the door and peaked around it to see that he had hit Benji.
"Oh, sorry." He apologized walking into the apartment, followed by Jane.
"Hey, Brandt. How are you?" She asked.
The four of them were standing in a square, Brandt closest to the door, all glancing around at each other in an awkward silence.
"What's going on?" Ethan finally asked.
"Why didn't you tell me there is a hit on me?"
Both Jane and Ethan turned to look at Benji with narrowed eyes. The latter held up his hands in surrender.
"You've been out of it for a few days. There was no point in telling you." Ethan answered.
"How long have you known?" Brandt asked.
No one made to answer.
"How long?" He asked again.
"Right after the car crash. We found evidence in the car." It was Jane who answered this time, taking a step towards Brandt who took a step back from her.
"We wanted to tell you, honest mate, but what good would it have done, huh? You needed the rest and we found this secure, run down shack that we could lie low in for awhile and allow you to, you know, rest, heal, whatever."
Brandt's mind was running a million miles a minute. He was finding it hard to take all of this in and the fact that his legs were beginning to feel shaky from exhaustion wasn't helping.
"Do you know anything about the person who ordered it?"
"Not really." Benji answered quickly.
"Not really. And what exactly does that mean?" Brandt questioned.
Ethan shot a look at Benji before turning back to Brandt. "It means that the only thing we know about the person who ordered the hit is an IMF agent."
Brandt laughed once. Then twice. Then erupted in laughter.
"Oh, boy. You've done it now." Benji murmured. "You've finally made him crack."
Ethan and Jane rolled their eyes.
"Brandt?" Jane questioned.
Will stopped laughing and gingerly held his stomach as the laughter worsened his pain.
"You're kidding right? I mean, not only is someone trying to kill me but it is someone from the agency? That's...that's rich. Good one."
"Brandt," Jane replied hesitantly. "we aren't joking. This is serious."
The agent looked at the three of them, taking notice to their grim expressions.
"I don't...I don't know..." Brandt struggled with his words while trying to wrap his head around their situation, his situation.
"We're going to figure this out, Will." Jane encouraged. "But for now, why don't you just sit down for a minute."
"No. I don't want to sit down or lay down or sleep anymore!"
"Brandt, you need to rest." Ethan tried.
"No!" Will once again protested but this time he reached for the door handle, threw the door opened and stormed out. "I'm getting some fresh air." He called over his shoulder as he walked towards the stairs that lead to the street.
Brandt was walking down the sidewalk, trying to clear his head. He thought he was being cautious and observant, but when an arm wrapped from under his armpit and around his uninjured shoulder and a hand covered his mouth, he knew he had messed up.
He was pulled into an alley with nowhere to go, trying to fight off whoever had him, but his efforts were seised by a familiar voice whispering in his ear.
"Shh. It's Ethan. Don't move." He followed Ethan's orders, but the agent didn't let go of him. "In a few seconds, a man is going to come around the corner. Just follow my lead. Remember we need him alive for answers."
Brandt nodded, expecting Ethan to let go of him, but wasn't expecting for the agent to keep his hold on him and push him out into the deserted street into the very man they were trying to avoid.
"I believe you're looking for him." Ethan said, adjusting his grip on Will as he eyed the disguised man. Brandt felt something cold being pressed into his left hand that was behind his back since the other one was in a cast and sling, turning it carefully in his fingers he figured out it was knife.
The corner of the man's mouth turned up in a smirk. Agent Hunt looked him over and watched his movements in attempt to time his move perfectly. He saw the man's finger twitch while he rocked back slightly on his heels.
In a split second, he pulled Brandt back away from the man as he lunged forward. However, the other man was quick and braced himself for Ethan's impact, instantly grabbing the agent around the neck. It was a smart move, but Ethan had counted on it happening, so he slacked in the man's grip, and waited for Brandt to use the knife.
A split second later, the man let out a scream and loosened his grip. Ethan escaped his hold, grabbed Brandt by the arm and took off running.
Ethan kept one hand on Brandt's arm as they ran through the streets. He pulled out his cell phone with the other and called Jane.
"Carter, we have to move now! Meet at the van! We're seven minutes out." He didn't wait for a reply, before hanging up and taking a sharp right turn, dragging Brandt with him.
They both climbed into the back of the van, Jane closing the door behind them as they sprawled out on the floor of the emptied out vehicle. Benji was in the driver's seat and wasted no time in flooring the gas and driving off.
Both agents were breathing heavily, as Jane just watched them with a worried expression. "What happened?"
"What do you think?" Ethan countered, sitting up and looking over at Brandt. "Are you alright?"
Brandt nodded and eased himself up, covering his stomach with his hand. He slowly brought back his hand when he felt something warm and wet. The sight of crimson red on his hand, made him groan in annoyance.
"I see you pulled your stitches." Jane said, grabbing the first aid kit. "Lay down."
Brandt groaned again, but complied nonetheless. He turned his attention to Ethan, while Jane went to work on restitching his stomach.
"Why did we run?" He questioned, confused. "I knew we needed him alive, but we could've taken him."
"No. He easily had two guns on him, if not more. We would have both been dead in seconds. Plus, you are in condition to fight, obviously." Ethan replied, indicating Will's reopened wound.
Brandt couldn't argue with any of his reasoning, but he still didn't like it. However, he soon realized that all of it was his fault, seeing as how if he hadn't stormed off out of the apartment in the first place none of it would have happened.
"That's not true." Ethan said, causing both Brandt and Jane to look at him questioningly. "I know you're thinking that this is your fault, and while it does appear that way and partially is because you didn't follow orders to stay in the apartment, you probably saved your own life if not all of ours."
"How do figure that?" Jane asked.
"Whoever it is knew where we were, at least in a general sense. Probably would have found us eventually, maybe even off guard."
Both agents nodded, Jane went back to stitching and Brandt closed his eyes.
"Next time I want to get fresh air you have my permission to stop me at any cost."
For only the second time in four days, laughter came easy to all four agents at Brandt's statement.
"Did you say any?" Benji called from the driver's seat.
Will was silent a moment, before answering, "I was only talking to Jane. She wouldn't do anything to horrible."
"Are you sure about that?" She questioned, teasingly.
"On second thought, I take that back. Just...don't let anyone try to kill me for at least a couple of hours." Brandt wearily replied, his eyes slipping closed in exhaustion.
Brandt smiled at the simultaneous response of the rest of his team before letting sleep claim him once more.
I was going to end this chapter with another cliff hanger, but I decided to be nice and end it on Brandt being safe (for now). haha. Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think in a review! :)