Even when Ethan Hunt had first slid into the limo and the Secretary had begun outlining the plan-that-wasn't, and Brandt had realised that things were not as they seemed -- IMF, when was anything as it seemed? He'd felt that uneasy tickle in the back of his throat, down in his groin and he'd wanted to run, then. He should have given in to his instinct: finding himself in a river trying not to get shot had only confirmed his suspicions.
Ethan Hunt was going to be trouble. Then, at least, he'd had mere survival to distract himself from everything confusing. He'd followed Ethan, seeing first-hand how much the reports about the owl were true. There were few enough avian weres on the IMF roster, but somehow Ethan not only made it work, but he succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
Brandt had known him for almost two hours and he already had a theory that it was because Ethan was insane and simply didn't know when to stop. Perhaps he knew and didn't care; flying forward was apparently his motto -- and if he was anything at all like the were-owls in support, he'd be distracted from logic and common sense by anything that seemed like a good idea at the time. As a field agent he'd be trained to always put the mission first, but a bird's idea of how to solve a problem didn't always jibe with anyone else's.
The real problem, Brandt knew, was that he was following Ethan and was relying on Ethan to get him out of this mess -- and Ethan had no idea about Brandt, he could tell, and he didn't have any idea how Ethan was going to react when he found out.
Rolling into car 47 to find the rest of Ethan's team didn't help. One pure human, the tech, because techs needed to be able to concentrate and ignore their instincts and most weres always ended up listening to instinct instead. Benji introduced himself with a nod of the head and Brandt didn't relax, didn't relax at all when the third member of Ethan's team stalked over and sniffed, then simply shook her head and paced back to her previous spot. A pure human, a were-panther, and an owl.
Brandt wanted to bang his head against the floor, but that wasn't going to help. All he could do was focus on the mission and hope nobody got themselves killed, got him killed before he could... of course, he didn't know what. IMF was gone and he had nowhere to go, except forward, charging into the fray, and try to help save the world.
The problem, of course, was that everything in his head was telling him to run, get away from the obvious insanity. And everything in his heart was screaming at him, for the first time in his adult life: pack.
After the mission was over and Brandt was finally convinced that maybe, just possibly maybe, Ethan wasn't going to get himself or any of the rest of them killed, maimed, or frozen in mid-change, he was able to relax. Not completely -- the mission had been, all things considered, a fairly short one though he knew it was primarily because he'd come in halfway through, when the plot had already begun to unfold. But he felt like it had been weeks, months even, and when the mission was over and they'd said their good-byes like good, proper IMF agents ready to disappear into the distance and return to make their reports -- Brandt had had a hard time going.
There were so many things he needed to say, some which he'd been able to tell Jane and Benji. He still didn't know if Jane minded his being on the team. She'd had her grief and revenge to carry her through, and the normal difficulties of a cat and wolf working side by side hadn't mattered. She'd never said a word about it, though, not to Brandt nor even to Benji or Ethan. He had no idea why and would have liked to ask, but it was hard enough talking to cats under normal circumstances without getting his nose clawed.
He'd let her go, knowing that it was entirely likely he'd never see her again, as he'd only been part of this team by chance and IMF might not even exist, tomorrow, much less see fit to return him to the field, and return him to Ethan's dossier of agents.
Benji had shaken his hand, given him a friendly nod and it was only after Benji had walked away that he realised the man had been careful not to smile wide at him. Refraining from baring his teeth, then, so Benji knew. Whether or not he'd tell Ethan, Brandt had no idea.
As he stood in the carport, watching Benji and Jane vanish into the crowds, heading for their transport home, he asked himself why it mattered. Why he was so determined to become friends with them -- why he needed them to accept him, when clearly it wouldn't matter if they did or didn't. The choice wasn't his, because the team was a motley crew and IMF procedures only extended to necessity.
If Brandt had found himself bonded to a wolf pack, they'd have simply re-assigned him and been done with it. But how could he explain that this... this group of a bird, a cat, and a human were making his instincts scream?
He hadn't even told Ethan the whole truth. Hadn't told him that he knew about his wife, that he was the one responsible. How could he follow that with the news that Brandt's instincts had latched on and that Ethan needed to accept him onto his team, else Brandt would find himself a lone wolf forever, unable to form any kind of alliance?
There was no hope, of course, and he couldn't let himself dwell on it. He had to focus on one thing at a time, and right now he had simply to get back to the States and file his report. It would be as detailed as always, and then he'd let IMF do whatever it is they wished, just like always. Assuming the scattered remains of IMF could pull itself together quickly enough and he wasn't left hanging, waiting to have someone to report to.
Brandt shook his head and took a careful whiff of the air. Sand and heat and spice, and nothing but pure humans as far as he could smell. India had been bereft of weres for centuries, and no one really knew if it had been voluntary migration or something more sinister. Indians claimed that weres simply reincarnated as human, and that after centuries there were none left so low as animals that walked like men.
Brandt had no idea, and he shivered, finally able to let the trepidation he always felt in this place creep through him. He was leaving now, anyway, and the land full of nothing but humans would do fine without him. Hopefully he wouldn't be back soon.
He started walking towards the airport entrance, knowing he still had time to kill before his flight to Vietnam would leave. But inside the International airport would be more comfortable, he might even be able to find a spot to sit where the air conditioner cleaned the air of scents well enough to breathe deep.
As he crossed the threshold inside, he paused. One whiff, but it was all he needed. Ethan. He turned towards the scent but saw nothing, caught no stronger scent than the single whiff he'd gotten.
He wondered if Ethan had changed and was flying himself home. Brandt laughed. He wouldn't put it past Ethan to think himself up for the cross-global journey on the wings of a barn owl.