"Unless you were to escape, somewhere between here and the airport, of course after assaulting Mr. Brandt and me"
It had been a long night.
That statement was a watered down drop compared to the tidal wave that had caused the dried blood and aching muscles among other things excluding but not limited to the destruction of the Kremlin.
The situation was abnormal, even for him who in a way had pioneered the impossible becoming normal, but yet it had still happened.
The shadows, the creases of weariness in his face from years of this shit, blended with the dark leather seats he had gingerly eased himself into. The movement had been effective, even smooth, but he still felt it as nerves screamed.
It was over…
It had started out as it normally would have, a pleasant enough greeting. Sharing Intel, discovering a terrorist plot, basically what they did on a normal basis.
…at least it was supposed to be.
"The President has initiated Ghost Protocol…"
He knew exactly what that meant, as his motions that came moments after proved. The older man across from him did not put up a fight as the door was flung open, cool ground replacing carpet.
Speed was not his strongest suit, many of those he had chased having a longer stride, but that did not matter as he moved swiftly down the connecting system of alleys.
He would not let everything end, not like this. Not after everything he had given, not when there was still a threat to be stopped. Despite the pain and cramps beginning to form, the cold still raced past.
Impossible, his logic yelled as he urged himself to run faster; it knew at this rate he would kneel over in another mile, not to mention if he went faster. He had to slow down, but that meant dealing with the stupid man that was following.
The analyst had balls, not every man would chase after the infamous Ethan Hunt, but did the man seriously think that he could be defeated and captured like this? Now a rogue agent, supposedly he was capable of more…
The logic eventually won out in the shouting match as he quickly found a place to ambush the man, because even though it was weary, his mind gave him the fact that the man ( Brandt was it?) despite being an analyst was still rested and unworn by the day’s events. Taking him on full on was foolish.
Focus would be key; taking down the man would be easy as long as he paid attention.
The steps slowed, drawing closer in a cautious sense…
It wasn’t enough as the gun soon slid somewhere that was impossible to spot in the dark, let alone as one was being attacked. Fists were the only viable weapons then, complimented by kicks and blocks.
Perhaps it was the fact that he had been ready to rest moments ago and had been thrown back into actions, perhaps it was the fact that his ribs had somehow not dented the hood of the van; but somehow it seemed that they were even in their skill levels.
Not that any agents working for the IMF were push overs in hand to hand combat, but considering that most analysts were more capable in the departments of research and cracking codes, it was strange to see his opponent not only block his attacks but launch his own.
His attempt at a head lock was escaped while at the same time a well-placed kick to his knee was launched before he could guard against it. Their faces were matching in that of being focused and on the edge, there was nothing else around them as they brutally dueled.
The other man was slightly faster than he was, more fluid in dodging the attacks and changing positions before he was able to follow; but what he lacked in agility; he made up for in strength and focused attacks that hit home. Their two styles were similar, obviously the byproduct of IMF training; his confidence in winning was becoming more faint with each moment.
Analyst his ass, there was something else going on.
Brick of the nearby walls dug into his back as he was push violently back, the well thrown attacks aiming for the spots he had thought he had hid when climbing into the van. A newly forming bruise blossomed upon his jaw and the man’s knuckles hit home; he returned the favor to the gut a moment later.
He needed to move, a team would be here soon.
The succession of an elbow to the jaw with a knee to the stomach a moment later, followed by a kick to the ribs left his fellow agent on the ground attempting not to groan. Knowing the attack would be giving the man the pleasure of seeing stars as well as giving him time, his feet moved without command.
Back on the route he had been moments earlier, with less wounds and the lack of adrenalin in his veins, he almost didn’t hear it.
Squealing tires and gunfire, miles away but still…
Suspicion was not enough to stop him, he had to move.
He almost did; perhaps the man was almost to his feet.
He didn’t look back.
It all made sense.
Everything fell into place so quickly that his mind staggered slightly as the memories and information connected together at warp speed. As the pieces fell into place, it felt as though once the puzzle was whole it was thrown at his head.
Or maybe that was just his body had adjusted as well as it could to the injuries he had sustained, even though he could hide it did not meant that it did not hurt.
It all spilled out, the swirling thoughts turned into words of a conspiracy plan against not only the United States but the world. A pinch of regret filed him, that he had not stopped Cobalt earlier, but was pushed aside as quickly as it appeared. It did not help the situation; there was no time and no reason to dwell upon it.
His audience listened intently but did not seem to be taking the situation seriously, which frankly was irritating him to no end. This could lead to nuclear war and they could not take a moment to…
"They won't listen, as far as the Russians are concerned, we just bombed the Kremlin. The tension between the United States and Russia hasn't been this high since the Cuban Missile Crisis. And the blame points right to IMF"
Not that he did not expect some backlash from Russia due to the events that occurred that day, but that was a bit extreme. Then again, in his business, everything was possible. It did not explain why the lines of age and stress were more pronounced on the Secretary’s face than ever before…
"The President has initiated Ghost Protocol; the entire IMF is being disbanded""
It was unspoken of, but every member of the IMF knew of it, they all knew what to expect. Nothing was set in place, but a pretty good idea could be formed in how a spy agency was taken down instantaneously. His mission had caused the order, meaning that there would be complications concerning on how he was dealt with.
It was going to get messy.
The Secretary could not help him even he wanted to and it was obvious that the analyst was not as free thinking as the older man was. Perhaps the man was afraid of him, but he was not going to wager Benji and Jane on a hunch. If they had not been captured yet, he could still get to them and stop the attack.
He needed a team, they would need him.
And he would be damned if he, and the world for that matter, went down without a fight.
It was not a surprise attack.
Well, it was a surprise attack per say if you consider the fact that the Secretary didn’t seem to expect it; but as for his target, Brandt was not surprised. Hell, the man seemed to be expecting him to attack him from the moment he had entered the vehicle.
Little to say, his attempt to grab the gun from Brandt’s field of area, also known as a personal space bubble, was not very successful.
Attempting to pin the man to the seat was failing as his grip on the man’s suit jacket was faltering, just as a knee came up to hit one of his ribs. He kept fighting though, although how he expected a gun to solve all his problems was beyond him. He delivered a few punches before Brandt shoved him into the driver’s seat.
The analyst was stronger than he looked; perhaps analysts received more training now than he was aware of. A slightly groan escaped as he fell into the floor board, right at the feet of the man who was now aiming the gun at him.
The Escalade then faltered in its smooth drive as bullets rained down, he aimed for the man’s ankle. The gun fell out of reach and Brandt was unbalanced, at least he wasn’t about to be shot.
What he didn’t count on was the air being knocked out of him as the vehicle rocked again, due to the fact that Brandt had fallen on top of him.
Karma hated him, that is what he decided as they plunged into the river.
Later, he would apologize for the punches as he dragged the analyst (who would be helpless in the field without the IMF) to where his team was.
Later, he would stop Cobalt.
Now, he would get the man off of him.
Dying by drowning was not how he was going to die.
Something was wrong.
That much was obvious, because even though the surroundings around him were filled with tension and worry, it was nothing compared to the attitude of the vehicle interior he stepped into.
It was only logical to assume that something was wrong, you know, past the fact that the Kremlin had been blow up and the secret police had come very close to arresting him to be interrogated. But it was something more.
The thought of what had happened to cause the Secretary to look more grim than usual did not dawn on him, but was instead given to him by the simple words that caused his life to crumble.
He was a part of the IMF, an agent. It was his life, his top priority that was like a destructive mistress. It destroyed everything else; his marriage and any chance that he was have a normal existence. Regret was not something he felt, but the statement was stripping him of the one thing that was constant.
His life was being disbanded by the president.
No. No. No. No.
He looked up to see a gun pointed at him, by the analyst.
“I’m sorry Ethan”
Looking at the Secretary was futile and foolish, he had been betrayed. Obviously the older man was under orders, but it did not make the fact that he was being treated like a criminal any less painful to his already battered body.
He was an agent, one of the top if not the best; being treated like scum by the agency he had given his life to was unacceptable.
Disarming Brandt was easy enough, his mind sharpened of all other objectives other than escaping. The driver would soon discover what was going on; he had to be out of the car before another body joined in on his capture.
In the tight space it was difficult to watch Brandt and the Secretary at the same time (the older man was retired of field work but that did not mean he was helpless), which led to the shot being fired. Blood stained the dark interior as the gasp hung in the air before dying.
The injured body of Brandt collapsed back into the seat where it had risen from a moment before to try and disarm him. The man looked at him with eyes that showed the pain, but as well satisfaction, like he had wanted to be shot, specifically by him.
The car slowed and the body driving it twisted, he needed to move now.
There wasn’t time for anything else as he opened the door of the moving vehicle, especially not to say sorry to the analyst. The man was only following orders, just as he had done up until this point, well for the most part anyway.
He had not meant to shoot anyone; the man did not deserve it.
There was not enough time, not even for a muttered apology.
Bailing from a car was never fun because no matter how well you were trained, it still hurt. The action was not helped in any sort by the fact that you were rolling on concrete. But he was free of the moving prison, it was worth it.
Shots rang out a moment later; he flung himself behind the closest cover, which happened to be a mail box. Squealing tires came to his ears; he looked out from behind his shelter just in time to see the Escalade go over the edge of the bridge.
The questions of why, who, how, and such did not come to mind.
The driver was dead; the car would not have gone off the bridge if he wasn’t.
The Secretary was more than likely dead, because the fact that the head of the IMF (which was the agency blamed for the Kremlin attack) was in Russia and was attacked was too good not to be the work of the Russians. Why else would the car be attacked?
But the analyst was more than likely alive due to the fact that the higher ranking target that had been sitting beside the man. He had only shot the man in the shoulder, but Brandt wouldn’t last long in the chilly waters especially with one of his arms compromised.
Men appeared from side streets, lining up with machine guns in hand; the other agent did not have a chance.
Not unless he helped the man.
If he was going to save the world, again, he needed a team.
Having an analyst around might be a good thing.
Scratch that, Russian water sucked.
While it was the temperature of the water that was pissing him off, it was fucking cold, he illogically hated the liquid surrounding him. Millions upon millions of molecules, comprised of billions of element atoms, surrounded and soaked him to the bone. The hydrogen twins were probably laughing their asses off at him while oxygen (the bigger and more sophisticated element) was snickering almost silently as he blindly swam for his life.
Unfortunately, there were not street lights under the sea and due to the fact that the sun was well on the other side of the earth at this point, he was swimming blind in a vat of darkness.
This was not how he had wanted the day to end (actually, this was not how he wanted the day as a whole to go at all, but with an evil maniac bent on blowing the world up, what were you to do?), but then again a horrible twenty four hours had to have a dastardly conclusion such as this. He did not even want to think about the temperature of the water around him, so instead he focused on squinting as much as he could in the murky surroundings.
His teeth gritted slightly, not enough to let precious oxygen out, but enough to divert the pain he was feeling from the shards of glass that had somehow dug themselves into his flesh during the crash.
His white grinders crashed a bit harder together; the Secretary was dead. It was unfortunate for such a good man to die, but at least the man had died without pain. The older man had not had to deal with the cold deep blue that he currently had the pleasure of being in.
He was not sure how far he was from the wreckage that was formally known as the Escalade that had been carrying the most powerful man in the IMF (as well the top agent), but the bullets seemed to be fading so he assumed he was far enough away.
Still too close for comfort, but better than being in the metal death trap.
A beam of light is streaming through the dark veil; he can see the outlines of old stone, it was the bridge that they had crashed off of.
At least he hoped so.
Putting all of his energy, which frankly was probably pitiful compared to what he could usually put out, into paddling his way towards the dark looming structure. It would give some safety, perhaps there was a dock or ladder nearby. He was sure he had seen a boat somewhere before the attack had started…
A body collided with him and despite the fact he wanted to let out a gasp of surprise (because seriously who expected an attack from under water?), his mouth stayed shut to conserve breath. Twisting to meet his attacker, he found it to be the analyst.
The man known as William Brandt had completely skipped his mind when they had hit the water, a stupid mistake since he was going to need help to stop Cobalt and Brandt had to be helpful in some respects, right?
The man was gripping onto him tightly, but blindly; clearly the man was not trained for field work, or rather he was scared. Brandt was slowing him down, his movement being faltered drastically to the point where he felt like a slug.
This needed to change, because even though Brandt would make a good asset, it would not matter if the man both got them killed. He moved to unhinge the man’s hands, to find that only made him hang on tighter.
His mouth let out a few air bubbles in irritation.
He really did not want to do this, but left with no other choices he began to push the other man away. They were currently chest to chest, which made it a very interesting situation but never the less one that he was going to deal with because he was not going to let some stupid chief analyst drag him to the bottom of the river.
Despite the fact that the man’s eyes were open, or at least he thought they were, it was too dark to try and signal the man what was going on and why his hands were between them trying to push the other man away. He even tried to bring his legs into it, even though they felt like lead weights, but they did nothing.
The situation reminded him as to why he hated underwater combat with a passion. Movements were slow, powerless, and easy to predict; it was every agent’s worst nightmare when it came to water missions.
The shadow of the bridge was closer than ever, but that did not mean they were completely out of the woods; especially not where he had a somewhat useless puppy clinging to him.
Struggling was not going to work, that much was for sure, because he was running out of air and somehow he had to become single again, not a fucking life raft.
He tried to think of another plan, but nothing came to mind which was obvious as small bubbles were released from both of them as they silently but fiercely thrashed in the weightless and wordless environment.
Somehow they were approaching the surface, having been driven there by the combined kicking; they were going to get spot if something did not change soon.
Leave it to the analyst to do exactly the opposite of what needed to be done; he was pulled closer to the other man, whose grip was that of steel.
He really did not want to drown, really did not want to die by water suffocation.
It came out as a bubble, his last one to be exact; somehow the man saw his lips in the dingy hell hole called the river. The grip loosened before he was released to kick his way to the surface, which he broke though just before his mind became dizzy in a bad way.
He looked around to see if he had drawn attention to himself, as well as to where his new analyst friend was so that they could get out of…
The lifeless body of one chief analyst was floating just bellowing the boundary of air and water, a wisp of blood showing that a stray bullet found a somewhat warm body. The gunmen were unaware of the kill, their attention still on the car and decoy he had deployed.
It was obvious that the man was dead; no bubbles disturbed the grave site.
The shots rang closer now; his body warned to move, now.
Later, as they rode from Moscow to Dubai, he left the others to their own devices and went to find out about the fallen. There had been a backup of Intel, most of which Benji had been able break, one of the hardest files being that of the one he wanted. One print out later, he had a life in his hand.
In the ride to the desert, he read about the fallen man. About the failed mission, the fact that the therapist (IMF agents were sometimes required to attend counseling after extremely traumatic missions) had noted multiple times that Brandt blamed himself completely for the failure.
The truth dawned on him with the weight of one hundred and seventy five pounds, the listed weight of the body that had protected him from the bullet. He had not even felt the body jerk with impact or reaction to the pain, but perhaps that was the fact that he had tried to push the man away.
Guilt was not becoming of an agent; casualties were inevitable in any job area, especially that of the always raging spy wars. But remembrance was necessary; to honor the fallen, to remind him to make sure that the sacrifice was not made in vain.
He immersed himself in the file after a few moments of silence in memory, a thank you.
The man had known him; he was trying to return the favor. Never had they met before, yet…
The crushing weight on his shoulders whispered that he was failing at it, shaking off the pounds was not as easy as it usually was.
The fact that Brandt did not have a family did not make it less pressing in his mind, nor the fact that the man’s younger sister had died in a car crash earlier that year; he still remembered the water and the weight.
The train car rocked, the folder faltering ever so slightly, to where an edge of a picture peaked out; it was Brandt with what seemed like a rare smile. The man had a tint of being flustered, like he had not expected the picture; it was a rare moment when an agent had been caught off guard. The man seemed too happy, not tense like he had been in the car or in the water moments before…
A hand touched his shoulder; Jane.
She retreated to the other side of the car, slowly preparing items for transport with Benji helping her; he barely noticed. They were worried, but Benji muttered something about him being fine during the mission and to give him space.
The picture made its way into his pocket, a copy of the file in his bag; then they departed.
In the back of his mind he set a note to himself, something to do when it was all over and he was back at his somewhat secure, somewhat permanent, home.
A dark frame would do, perhaps maple wood; it would complement the eyes.
Then it would sit next to the portrait of Julia that kept him company when he reviewed notes, reminisced, and inevitably got drunk in the living room.
Until then he had not found someone that belonged (and deserved to belong) in the sad category of who to remember, of those he had lost, to not forget and erase like he did with almost all of those who died around him.
It was a rare spot to be filled, because he had decided that no one fit.
William Brandt did.
It was in the top ten.
That was definitely true, although it was indeed possible that the sun had set on a day that had made its way into his top five worst days of his life list.
There were thousands of lists, that spanned his years in memories that he wished to relive (such as the top ten kisses he had received on and off duty) and those he did not (top ten most gruesome fights). A combination of each factor, more often than not the top of a few lists combined into a situation that made the worst day ever list, lead to the ones that haunted him.
Everyone has lists such as his, especially numbered days that wanted to be forgotten and yet somehow were remembered to be compared to bad situations; in his business, situations such as the one he was in were as common as bullet wounds.
The fragrance of what was about to submerge them, the unmistakable scent of the liquid that was necessary to live but you kill you as well, was alerting him that another second had ticked by and that they were close to…
Even if you had a metal chariot to break the surface tension, it was not fun dropping from any height, whether it is from a diving board or off a bloody bridge, into a body of water. Especially not when already worn skin is was being scratched to hell by the flying glass; oh, did he mention that he was currently in free fall?
Hitting the ceiling of an Escalade was not part of his schedule for today, but of course he had not planned on Cobalt. Of course he had to be in the same place as the madman and not have stopped him; not one of his finer moments.
Little to say; today was just not his day.
At the agency, they always warned their agents to keep a balanced mind, to seek help if you needed it; hitting rock bottom was to be prevented at all costs.
If only they knew, he would have had grimly chuckled if it did not waste the air he had somehow sucked into his lungs; the distinctive, yet almost silent screech of metal against the bottom of the river hurt his years as he kicked his way to the where the seat he had been sitting in was bolted to the floor.
Catching his breath in the thin layer of air, he looked around.
Hitting a wall that was nice enough to daze you, to where the stars and birdies were flying around your head, before letting you sink to a possible watery death was almost as dangerous as a gunfight.
There were flares, a medical kit floating by his head, but the other surviving passenger that he knew for a fact had not been shot was missing. While many things could go wrong in a car wreck, especially one that involved machine guns, he was sure that the other man was alive.
But then where was he?
It was unlikely, more like impossible, that the analyst was outside the vehicle; he had seen the man try to find something to hold on right before they hit the water.
Diving back down into the dimly lit interior, he couldn’t see a thing; finding the man was purely luck due to the fact that he ran into something solid that felt like an arm. An outline of a free floating body came to him when he squinted; grabbing the wrist, he pulled the body of what he was almost positive was Brandt’s, closer to him.
Finding the crook of the man’s neck, he found a faint pulse that assured him that another IMF agent was not going to die under his leadership. He was going to make sure of that.
As quickly as he could, without smacking Brandt’s head against the metal door, he dragged them both into more open waters. The bridge was their best bet of getting out of here; it would cover them from the gunfire, perhaps long enough for him to actually come up with a plan.
Plans were necessary, if not vital, to accomplish a mission; although he had been accused more than once of just winging it to pull off the impossible. It was one of his many talents, just like swimming in a leather jacket with a dead weight weighing him down.
It was a quickly formulated, but it would work…
Gunfire rained down from two directions; he back peddled as fast as he could to avoid him or more importantly Brandt being hit.
Well that plan was a bust; oh well, he preferred to wing it.
The free floating man he had claimed as his responsibility hovered in the thin safe zone outside the crashed Escalade, but he knew that it wouldn’t do much if the pulse vanished. And it would, it was getting weaker every second they were there.
Think! Nothing was coming to mind and if he didn’t think of something soon, the analyst was dead and he would be too. Even if he abandoned the man to die, which was out of the question due to the fact that he was not going to leave an agent behind, he could not stay in the pocket of air forever.
If only he could see, then he could know if there was some other cover they could swim for. But it was too dark; they needed some kind of torch.
He hesitated for a moment, just one moment, before diving back into the wreckage. He begged to whatever was out there for the body of his fellow agent to stay where it was and not float out into the crossfires.
Flailing around the watery space for an emergency flare was not graceful and not agent like, but he did not care as he quickly found the cylinder and swam back. He had accomplished the mission of finding the damn thing faster than it would have been if another method had been used; it was unorthodox, but it fucking worked.
Brandt had not moved thankfully, but then again that wasn’t completely a good thing. The correlation between the analyst and the dead body he was about to put a flare into the sleeve of was uncanny, which made him that much more rushed.
Igniting the bright light, he quickly tucked it into the decoy and forcefully shoved it through the river. It did not seem like a strong attempt, but the body was moving away so he really did not care. He waited until it was five feet away before he started to move in the opposite direction with Brandt in tow.
In the back of his mind, he thanked Luther for the damn deep sea swimming lessons the man had dragged him to (“Just in case you ever get stranded” The man said); he was pretty sure he would have just sunk to the bottom of the ocean with his lead legs if not for them. He had been sore for days after those damn lessons, but at least he had them for these situations.
While he would never admit it, the sound that came out of his mouth when he found a wooden dock to get out of the damn water with, was a mixture between a manly squeal and a so not erotic groan. It more than likely sounded like the sound an overworked donkey would make after carrying another donkey on its back; which he had essentially.
After dragging himself and the dead weight, err analyst, out of the water; somehow he did not rest. He did not collapse onto the wood; there was another he had to check on before he did that. He would crash soon enough or at least he hoped so, but first…
The man wasn’t breathing; the pulse seemed to be only a ghost whisper.
Ripping the wet fabrics that made up the tightly fitted suit the man wore was fluidly done to reveal a muscled chest. Finding the right position, he began what h hoped was only the first of a few compressions.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more commonly known as CPR, was a crude but effective method of keeping someone alive. It could bring someone back, if done right; there was a reason it was taught to every single member of IMF, no matter where you worked in the system.
It had been months, if not years, since he had last performed the technique, but it came to him like second nature. Under his palms, he felt one of the man’s ribs crack; he continued, it was not uncommon for the breaking of the bones you were pressing upon. You were trying to force heart to move; the heart was protected by the rib cage, something had to give.
Still nothing, he tipped the man’s head back, ignoring the warnings in the back of his mind that the enemies that had attacked them could be close by. This came first.
His own ragged breathing was gone now, which was perfect since he had to give as much air to the man as he could. After a few times of his lungs being empty and filled, he went back to forcing the blood to move within the veins of the man he had only met minutes ago.
Of course everything went to hell then, but still.
“Come on” The words slipped out as he increased the rate of compressions, it was becoming obvious that the chance of the man living was decreasing. Most of his upper body weight (massive ego, as Jane had said, included) was pushing down with each movement, but it still did not seem like enough.
Another set of breaths; this time he huffed every last wisp he had into trying to prevent another death at his hands.
This continued, until the breathing section that he was going to attempt for a third time. Three sets was the IMF standard limit; if the person was not breathing by then and the agent giving CPR was in danger that was the time that said agent was to leave the person. By then, it was almost completely unlikely that the person was coming back.
“Come on Brandt, don’t go like this” He muttered to the man before feeling the cracking lips against his own once more. They were growing cold, just like the body due to the chilled water and the wind battering against them.
He was going to fail another person, just like he had failed to be a good husband; that was the thought in his mind when he released the lip lock. Not another agent, dammit.
The combined sound of hacking and coughing was music to his ears, relief washing over him as he tipped the man to the side to let the water be spit out. The sound continued for a minute or so, in which he held the man in his arms until he was breathing on his own again.
It was anything but smooth, the other man was ragged and soft in his breathing, but he was alive. Only now did he see the river of red coming from what looked like a minor head wound the man had sustained. It would have to be looked at later, but there was not time now.
William Brandt, chief analyst, was alive.
“Mission accomplished” He softly said to himself before slowly rising to his feet, they needed to move.
The damp skin of his new teammate rubbed against his jacket as he lifted the man into a fireman carry; he would have to go slower, but it would be worth it. The weight of the body was a burden, but reassuring as he slowly made his way to the train station. Somehow he would get both of them into the train car, even if he had to throw the man into car.
He was not leaving an agent behind.
Especially not a damn analyst.
There was a reason he did not do field work anymore.
Part one of that reason was the fact that he never wanted to have to face the man whose life he had ruined with one stupid mistake, because if Ethan Hunt did not kill him the guilt would make sure to take him to his grave. It had occurred him to send a message to the man, an apology to try and relieve some of the pain that was constantly a reminder of his failure, but he was too much of a coward for that. No, he just hide from the man.
The second part of the reasoning that kept him crunching numbers and faces, a relatively safe position with the downside of being boring as hell ( But he was helping others, just like he couldn’t do in the past; that’s all that mattered), was the fact that he did not have to deal with the impossible situations that field agents were put in. Now don’t get him wrong, working in the field was exhilarating; you saw new places, learned new things. Field work was one of the many reasons why a person considered working at the IMF.
But he’d be lying if he said that every mission was exciting, some of them were just a pain in the ass with the reckless situations they were put into. There was a reason they were named the Impossible Mission Force, their missions lived up to the reputation. When those types of missions came up where you rather swim with the fishes than do it, usually you just sucked it up; but he wouldn’t, not when his last field mission ended so horribly.
This was one of those missions.
Swimming was the fishes was never a good thing, no matter if you were dealing with the mob or if you were in a situation where the water was you enemy; but he rather be in the Mariana Trench feeling the water crush him to bits than be where he was now.
He wanted to curl up and die than feel the gaze of an agent he quit field work for.
They were walking side by side, but he knew without looking that he was a step ahead of the other man, just enough for the man to collect information of him. There was only silence between them, no talking since they had both been gasping from their extended dip in the river.
Perhaps he did not know, which would give him time to figure out what he was going to say when Hunt finally did confront him. It was inevitable for the detonation to occur, for everything he had tried to forget to explode in his face. It had been fruitless to try and delay it, yet he had tried to run, foolishly thinking he could escape.
A chill distracted him from his thoughts, his shoulders shaking in time with the cold snaking up his spine. The water had been nothing short of hypothermia causing and despite the fact he had avoided death by freezing, thanks to the same person who hated him, the temperature was still being felt.
His clothing was wet, to the point where he was leaving wet footprints in his wake; normally he would have rung out the wet articles, but they had not had time. It had been ten minutes after his life had been turned on its head, literally as the transportation had flipped, and they had not stopped walking away from where their enemies were probably still shooting a thousand rounds a minute at them.
While it was important to get as far away from their attackers, he wished they could have taken a minute, just sixty seconds so that he wouldn’t be shivering now.
God dammit he was cold.
“Cold?” He to his left to see his biggest failure looking to make eye contact in concern
That’s wasn’t right, it was just a trick; he couldn’t make eye contact, he quickly looked down. Normally, he would make a comment dripping with sarcasm that would remind you of a snapping whip, but now was not the time.
Not when it was those green eyes; the pair that would be glaring at him soon enough.
He couldn’t deal with that now, not now.
Some noncommittal sound came from his mind so that he didn’t seem like an asshole, which he was, but he continued to trudge forward in hopes of reaching the shelter of the moving safe house soon enough. Or at least that a shooter would appear to end his miserable existence.
Ethan Hunt did not seem all that happy about being blown off; the prickling feeling that mixed in with the shivers was still very much evident, he was still being watched. If this continued, he might just crack. He had kept his composure when Julia had been taken, when Ethan had been taken to prison; but being watched by the man he had ruined?
Something had to be done, anything so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the fact that he was in the presence of, literally a foot from, the man who he hated himself because of.
A common technique used to distract oneself from physical pain was to fixate on what you wanted at the moment, something trivial like a book to read if you were waiting to be rescued. Imagining what type of book, the story line, or characters was also acceptable; something that would keep you from thinking of whatever was going on with your body.
Anything that would keep him from noticing the staring, it was worth a try; what did he want?
It took him only a few moments to figure out what he wanted, to shove aside the fact that his hands felt like there was frost forming on them while his feet were blocks of ice he could not feel.
His want was something he would never admit to even if it meant being tortured or perjuring himself, he would never tell another soul; but in foresight all of those things were rather extreme when it was perfectly acceptable for him to want what was filling his mind.
Nope, he still wouldn’t tell anyone.
He wanted a bubble bath.
No, not a bath; a bubble bath.
No matter how unmanly the notion was, he did not care; he just wanted to lounge in the heat and wash away the chill that seemed as those it was permanently apart of him. A shower would be a more effective use of time, but while he was all for efficiency, there was nothing quite like closing your eyes and just floating. The day would fall away in the isolation, nothing mattering as his body tanned itself in the hot, absorbing it for another day when he had to step back into the cold world.
It would be a type of washing where the tub was a Jacuzzi, the tub was big enough for his large frame to be comfortable, and the water, would be the perfect temperature always for as long as he needed it as the supply was endless. There would be clouds of white fluffiness wrapping around his worn skin, just a treat to play with like he had as a child, when things were simpler.
The smell of vanilla and cinnamon, reminding him of his mother’s cooking days, would waft through the air (with a hint of mint for a little kick) to help him forget water being shoved up his nose and the smog of the surrounding city filling his lungs.
There were candles by his head, the unwavering flames lighting only a small fraction of the bathroom, further isolating him from everything but the liquid that was quickly becoming an extension of his body. He shifted further down, to where his shoulders would be covered; the silky touch becoming a massage to get rid of the knots that were imbedded there.
He was no longer cold, he was in equilibrium; there were no wants, no needs, just nothing.
Care was no longer a factor; no scars from wounds that could never be completely healed, no finger twitches that were a habit of his when he was nervous, and there was not the scream of Julia Hunt echoing in his ears after listening to the recording of the kidnapping a thousand times.
Pure, complete and utter nothing that most would kill for; solitude free of any distrac…
Shattering the illusion was the fact that he had not seen the first rail that made up the boundary of the train station; to his credit, he did not fall like most would, he just stumbled for a moment. But it had broken his concentration, he was now back in the cold world where he couldn’t feel his toes.
Dammit; ironically, he remembered that the visualization technique was to be used when a person is sitting not walking. Good thing he would remember that next time.
Frustration bubbled up within him; god, he was so stupid! He was an agent and he fucking tripped over a train track. Just another mistake, another stupid, stupid mistake. In his burning hatred of himself, he almost didn’t hear the chuckle.
“Good to know I’m not the only one who is tired”
It was low, something that was heard in the back corner of a bar or in the street late at night with little light but the stars overhead; the context of it didn’t change who it was coming from.
Foolishly, he looked over to the source of the sultry sound, to find the other man smiling wearily at him. There was no trace of hate, nothing that he expected; it was warm, something that he had craved since Croatia and especially now that he had been reunited with the other important figure that had been there.
“The stash car, if I am not mistaken, is in two parts”
Did those words really just come from his mouth?! Was he actually talking to Hunt, did he actually just add to a conversation that more than likely would continue? God, he really was an idiot. His main priority was to avoid conversations with Agent Hunt, not be the instigator them.
Now he was making eye contact with the man, the warning bells were going crazy in his head; but he couldn’t help it, the one word was a liquid wisp that was helping dissipating the uneasiness and chill that was assaulting his bones.
Even in the dimly lit surroundings, the eyes of the other man looked like emeralds, as brilliant and dark as they would be in the light of a sunny day. Dazzling, forgiving; he could almost feel the rays on his face.
Clearing his throat, he tried to focus, now was not the time; he cranked his professional level up to an eleven to try and forgive the pause in speaking coming from his ogling. Yes, there was a list of hottest IMF agents amongst the analysts, they had to do something in their spare time even though he stayed away from the girls who compiled it, and yes Ethan Hunt was on the top of that list; that did not mean that he could forget the history between them, mostly on his end, because of those damn eyes.
“Yes, Agent Hunt, supposedly there…”
A hand came into his vision to cut him off, it was outstretched like his hand in the Escalade during what seemed like ages ago. He eyed it in suspicion, was he going to get slapped? Maybe that would snap him out of his newest distraction from the cold.
“Sorry about earlier, I wasn’t really free at the moment”
Oh. To avoid awkwardness, he grasped the open palm and closed his own around it in time with the other agent’s. It had been a bit off putting that the man had ignored him when he had tried to do a proper introduction; he ignored the warmth coming from the other man, who should be as cold as he was, as their connected hands shook once, twice before stopping.
“Call me Ethan” It was a simple request, straight forward with little force imbedded, one that was really saying something along the lines of ‘Do not call me agent, we are in an informal situation. It makes me feel old. Ethan. E – T – H – A –N . Remember it’. He understood, but he did not like it; first names meant attachments. Attachments made hate that much stronger, attachments made the hiss of betrayal that much harsher.
“Brandt” At least he had had the foresight not to let the man call him by his first name, at least it was one way that he couldn’t be cut when the glass shards of rising memories flew at him.
He could almost feel the inside nerves of his hand when their connection was severed and they continued from their stopped position; he internally cursed at the lack of contact.
The silence he had relished a moment ago once again settled between them, but now it was empty and the confusion of the sides he and Ethan were on (of whether the man hated him) echoed. Those few moments of conversation had broken his vow of vocal celibacy, the floodgates opening; he now craved it. Until this moment, he had only observed, guarded, and learned about Ethan from afar as was his mission; the file on the man was not substantial in the details he suddenly wanted. How did he take his coffee? What was his favorite color? Basic things, but he wanted the answers, he wanted to hear the voice that had been screaming the last time he had heard it.
He wanted to hear the healed version, the part that had just been smiling at him; something.
Luckily for him, Ethan still remember that he had cut him off from speaking, even if he didn’t remember himself.
“Now what were you saying about the stash car?”
The words came easier this time, there was less panic and even though in the back of his mind he still felt uneasiness to the situation, of what was to come, he ignored it to watch where he was going and talk at the same time.
“I believe the stash is actually comprised of two parts, one that holds equipment and another that is a sleeping quarters. We should be able to get some sleep whenever we get there”
There was another smile, the chills almost invisible now.
“Good, I am going to need a catnap before taking down Cobalt”
Somehow his shields were coming down, which was not necessarily the responsible thing for him to do considering that the smirking man with the sly eyes would tear him apart in the more than likely near future.
His response was full of surprise, with an underlying tint of sarcasm “A catnap? I feel like a want to go into a Snow White coma right now”
There was a chuckle that echoed off of the metal train cars as they walked deeper into the large collection of possible moving stash houses. He felt his own vocals join in, the relief coming from them as they were finally used, the laughter part having not been used in months.
Croatia has stolen that from him among other things; laughter had not escaped him since the night before the kidnapping, when everything had gone to hell, and now it sweet yet sour. This would come back to bite him in the ass, that much he was sure of; why he was allowing himself to give into the things, such as laughter and warmth, that he would soon be stripped of was another stupid mistake.
It would be just as soon as Ethan found out his background, that he really wasn’t a boring analyst; but that would be a while, unless he gave a reason for Ethan to doubt the identity he has assumed, if he was to blow his cover…
Then it hit him like a freight train, which was conveniently placed in the area where he was walking.
…LIKE HE WAS RIGHT NOW!
The screech of pure horror that sounded in his mind was to the caliber that if released outside his body, it would not only make his ears bleed, but Ethan’s and anyone in the surrounding mile as well as shatter glass and have a full on symphony of car alarms and dog howls joining in.
But since it was contained in his mind, it just killed the nerves that extended from the central head of the nervous system, also known as the brain. Oh yes, it was the equivalent of a time sensitive atomic bomb being set, waiting until he made a complete ass of himself to be set off. The surrounding explosion damaged the fuzziness he was feeling, as well as the nerves that control his vocal box; so in short, he was having an episode and did not stop laughing like he should of . Oh yes, he was still laughing, not having snapped his jaw shut and stopped the completely out of character move he was performing.
Shitshitshitshitshitshitshit…..he had done the one thing that was forbidden; it was drilled into your brain when entering any form of intelligence sector, do not blow you cover. It was one of the simplest secrets to keep and in an industry where you were a messenger, a collector, and a killer on any given day, you had to be able to zip your mouth and throw away the goddamn key.
Another stupid mistake!
Behind smiling lips, his tongue raked and scraped its way across his bottom row of teeth with enough force to where if he pushed any harder the dull edges would cut the slithering flesh. It was one of the few ways he could express frustration in the situation where his controls were fried.
Maybe he could salvage the mission, to escape the clutches of Ethan before he was strangled, oh and save the world from nuclear annihilation if possible; he just needed to stop.
The laughter that had been going on too long, sounding as happy as it had first come out despite the revolt that was occurring as the logic took back over, cut off as though severed in one stroke by a sharpened axe.
It left the surroundings sullen, as the other man followed suit; they continued to walk, he ignored the confusion coming off Eth - Agent Hunt. It was more professional, more like his held back character that had first been introduced to the man; it was an illusion he would keep until the final curtain call. He would not slip up again.
Now would be the time to break the silence, just so that something would happen to distract him from the chill that once again was invading his nerve endings. Something needed to be done before…
He was being stared at again, although you really could not expect anything else when you laughed like a maniac and then suddenly when cold as the ice water they had recently been in. While he wanted to swirl around and make the step of distance between them disappear and tell the man to stop fucking staring at him, along with some other key words (mostly along the lines of ‘I am so sorry. Julia. My fault. Sorry. Don’t kill me. Punch me. Tell me you hate me. Beat me. Tell me I ruined everything. I didn’t mean. Forgive me. Hate me. Sorry.’ ), that would not be in his boring character.
Say something, come on…
His pace slowed; it could be blamed on multiple reasons, but mostly it was the fact that he did not want the gaze of the older agent on him as he tried to think. Normally, he was unaffected by the gazes of other; but then again, nothing was really normal about Ethan Hunt. It slowed to the point in which he no longer was in front of Ethan by a step but the position was reversed.
Hunt stepped into his former role fluidly; to the untrained eye it seemed as though he was walking at the same place, but he knew the man was walking faster than he had been. The piece of information was wonderful, since that meant that Ethan knew that something was wrong. That also meant that Ethan would be keeping an even closer eye on him; the invisible eyes in the back of the dark haired head were glaring at him already.
Ethan was scanning the darkness for enemies, or perhaps it was to try and not make him feel as uncomfortable, maybe it was a combination of both. It doesn’t really matter; although the fact that Ethan was trying to give him space, even if it was just a step away without a spotlight on him, and while it didn’t do a damn think it was the thought that counted.
His arms tucked themselves against him, which could easily be taken as a motion to try and prevent the freezing of his hands and body, but it was to protect him. It put a barrier between them, to protect him vital areas, most importantly his heart, which is what he wanted to accomplish by saying something. Somehow all his walls had come crashing down and while he was frantically trying to rebuild them, brick by brick and lie by lie, he felt scared.
Vulnerable, which wasn’t something he had felt since first entering the academy. Hopefully, Hunt was more gracious than the drill instructors.
As he put physical barriers up, as well as try to create mental ones, some form of distraction made itself known as without any edit it slipped out to be heard by all. And by all he meant Ethan, who was the only person who could hear the low, rough whisper the question came out as. In all reality, it was a question to himself, but he knew it would draw attention to himself.
Which really he should be avoiding since all he wanted was to be left alone by Ethan Hunt, but then again the conversation would fill the empty silence and perhaps he could hear some of the warmth he craved in the response that was given.
“Why would that work?”
Sure enough, two eyes looked in his direction, away from their sprinkler like routine of scanning the shadows for possible alerts. It was just for a moment, before they went back to it, but he knew he had the man’s attention. Looking at Ethan’s back, he notice a small bit of strain drain from the muscles, just because of his question; perhaps the man was relieved to know that he was not having a panic attack.
The reply came after a moment, a few more steps “Why did what work?”
“The flare on the body…” They turned the corner to weave deeper into the hundreds of trains and cars; somehow he was now the one staring, though it was ironic that their roles had been reversed only moments ago. “…why would that work?”
Like a snap of a rubber band, the answer came instantaneously with no doubt in the voice as it released the letters one by one. “It did work”
He really did not care for the answer as he pressed further, his distraction was working.
“Yeah, I know, but…”
Maybe he really was tired, since before he had realized it, he had been waddling away from Ethan in the middle of a sentence. Perhaps it was the desire to do so, but leave it to him to forget the rules of ‘Follow the Leader’.
“Hey!” It was obvious that Hunt wasn’t going to let him go off on his own, after all the effort the man had but into getting him out of the water without a bullet in his back. The word was harsh, reeking of irritation that was perhaps coming from their conversation. But then again, he was William Brandt, chief analyst; he was supposed to be nitpicky about things that most people took for granted.
Like impossible plans for example and that included flares.
“But why?” He took a few extra steps in quick succession, so that he could catch up with the man even though he had the wider stride out of the two of them, not that he would ever pull the ‘taller’ card out. It wasn’t worth it.
“I mean, how did you know that would draw their fire?”
The man almost tried to make eye contact with him, which he avoided just barely. He knew by the content of the conversation that if Ethan was not already irritated, he would be soon. After all, he was being questioned on his unorthodox methods, especially after the fact. It was in the past and there was no reason to bring it up again, but then again that is something an analyst would do.
“I didn’t, I played a hunch”
That was classic Ethan Hunt for you; most agents collected research for a plan, but the man just ahead of him played hunches. It was a dangerous strategy and it didn’t work for many people, including IMF agents; it was like leather, only a few people out of every thousand could pull it off. Luckily for the IMF and the team members surrounding the trouble magnet, Hunt pulled it off, both impossible feats and leather.
His plan, which was created off of nothing (hell there was no plan!), was going fine, but he needed to keep going or the silence would descend to crush him. Can you do this? His emotions asked, to which his brain replied yes and his body did a head nod just to be sure.
“Kay. Alright, so what was you scenario?”
This was going to piss Ethan off; he knew that before the words came out. That was because Ethan Hunt, as everyone knew no matter the agency or nationally, did not have scenarios. The man rarely had plans, when he did he picked one and stuck with it until it failed before he made up shit off the top of his head that usually included crazy ideas. But he was on the Impossible Mission Force for a reason; that reason was not to be challenged about his bat shit crazy ideas, especially not by an analyst that had little field experience like him.
There was no immediate answer, he continued. “Right, so there’s a guy being shot at in the water, all of the sudden he decides to light up a flare and swim around?”
They turn another corner and without seeing Ethan’s face he knew the man was annoyed; the tension that had dissipated earlier was back. In the back of his mind he wondered if the man was actually going to attempt to answer or if he was just going to ignore him.
“I mean, what did you assume they would be thinking?”
The answer to his question was obvious if you thought abstractly instead of logically, which evidently a chief analyst was not capable of. Color caught the eye; the reason why the enemy had aimed for the flare was because it stood out against the dark waters. It was the same idea used in television commercials and billboards, highlight the product and it will sell. That was why they had been able to escape, because why would you aim for something you couldn’t see when there was a target plain as day?
Still, it would be interesting to see what the agent’s answer was.
The passage they were traveling down widened just as Ethan slowed, now they were almost shoulder to shoulder; this made it impossible to avoid eye contact when the older agent looked at him. Finally, there came a response which would be all mighty wisdom from the great and crazy Ethan Hunt himself.
Somehow his walls were back in place and although he was still firmly hugging himself, there was still fear, but the talking was making it go away. He wasn’t sure how talking to your enemy made the situation better or if it did in any other area, but somehow it was working here.
“Thinking?” It came out as a mocking question, a tone he had not expected; but then again h had expected something along the lines of ‘shut the fuck up’ with a sarcastic sunny disposition attached. It was a pleasant surprise.
“Yeah” Go ahead, keep poking the bear; it wasn’t like anything was going to go wrong. Perhaps then Ethan would swing out at him and while it would hurt it would be so sweet to know he had gotten, even if just a fraction of what he deserved.
A smile graced the other man’s face, one that came with the sigh of ‘I cannot believe that this moron is asking me this’ before another statement was spoken; Hunt was irritated, that much was certain.
“I didn’t assume they were thinking. I assumed they were shooting at anything that moved and I just gave them a target”
Then there was a chuckle as the step between them, the space that he had taken for granted, was gone and Ethan was in his face. Avoiding eye contact was pointless as the man ridiculed him, those green eyes looking at him with weariness that no shields he had could stop.
Before he could say anything in his defense of analyzing the plan, or lack of therefore, the man who had violated his personal space bubble spoke again. The tone was mocking and sarcastic, but he stood his ground.
“These guys aren’t trained scholars, you know?”
‘Yes Brandt, don’t you know not to ask stupid questions?’ The translation was more than likely spot on and was perfectly cloaked by the actual statement said by Ethan. A train that was in the direction they just came from started to move, giving him a reason to break eye contact. When he looked back, after a few seconds of separation, the other man was still staring at him; the sight connection established once again with delay or direction from him.
No matter how sadistic it was, poking and annoying another person or animal was fun; but at the moment he knew it was time to back off. His cover was back under wraps due to his ill thought of but successfully executed plan. Now all that needed was to end the conversation on a note that would not only confirm his helpless analyst status but also remind Ethan of the vulnerable front he had shown earlier. If he could remind the senior field agent of that, then the man would back off, perhaps keeping the guilt at bay as well.
There was a reason he was the chief analyst; not only did you have to be manipulating but strategic in every move you made. No one had succeeded in beating him in chess yet, perhaps he would survive this game.
“This is really happening, isn’t it?”
It came after a few short breaths, making him seemed panicked ever so slightly; it was low, stuttered just enough to give the illusion of far of the situation. Truth be told, he wasn’t afraid of the situation, they would find a way to stop it; it was the reaction that he dreaded.
“Yeah” The word was rough, yet soft, a breath so low, seemingly as though everything that was going through Ethan’s mind was shoved into the one reply. There was worry, for the situation and the team he had yet to meet, and concern for the same reasons. He wanted to believe that some of that emotion was directed at him at the chills, but it was impossible. He also detected small wisps of irritation, at the situation but mostly at him, with hints of lust…
The whistle announcing the departure of their only safe house interrupted his thoughts, just as he was about to question the last thing he had felt from the reply, and he quickly shoved everything to the second spot of his priority list.
“You know what that sound is?” The irritation is gone, the tone is pure thank god relief with a tint of I want to fucking sleep mixed in there; it was as if the conversation had never happened and he’s glad, now he just wants to focus on getting on their goddam train car.
“That’s our ride out of here!” Perhaps he sounds too happy, but forgive him if he’s happy to be getting out of here and out of the wet clothes that are clinging to him for life. With the agility belonging to most big cat, they both cross over a flat car and simultaneously begin searching for…
“Alright, it’s a green car…” When they were in the Escalade, which seems like days ago at this point, he had found it weird that the Secretary had briefed him not only on Ethan Hunt’s current team but the safe house as well. Now, he was glad the old man was smart enough to think ahead, may he rest in peace.
“…number forty seven”
Jumping down from the elevated platform, he felt off balance, just for a moment; touching Ethan was never a plan of his. The motion of landing led to him firmly placing a hand against the other man’s back; there was no reaction from Ethan, he was too busy scanning the cars. The touch, he expected to be cool just as his own body was, radiated heat from the black leather. It seemed impossible that his hands were receiving feeling back from the extended touch, his mind decided that more time needed to be spent thinking on the matter.
But there was not time, he needed to be focusing.
When Ethan pulled away, so that their vision paths would overlap less and cover more cars, he let his hand fall instead of drawing closer like he wanted to. His eyes darted across the moving metal, looking for the two factors that they had about the stash house on the same car.
“I see green!” The familiar voice commanded his attention as they began to move to where Ethan had spotted the dark color.
It wasn’t definite that it was their target, but it was a lead; they were one step closer. The statement was so relieving and focusing that he ignored the fact that his ruined dress shoes were squishing with each step.
“Let’s do it, go go go” He said under his breath, physically pushing Ethan forward around the corner. It was a light touch, but he was amazed he could still focus after the interaction.
He needed to focus, but the allure of a warm body, namely Ethan’s, made it difficult. With one last grip of the man’s shoulder, he put distance between them, running further down the line to try and count the cars and find the one they were looking for.
“Forty seven” Muttering to himself, he s continued scanning the symbols, also known as numbers, as fast as he could, he tried to ignore Ethan’s presence. It wasn’t helping, in fact it just reminded him how cold he was.
“I don’t see it”
“Forty seven” He ignored Ethan’s previous statement, watching as the speed of the train was picking up every minute that went by. In fact, he just ignored Ethan all together, they were never going to find the damn thing…
He almost did not hear the sound of feet running on gravel towards his location, it didn’t matter though because the fact that Ethan decided to come closer to him for no apparent reason was worthless information in the current situation. Perhaps the man wanted to talk about a plan for finding the elusive car, which would be stupid because by the time they figured something out the car would be gone, but for whatever reason Ethan scraped past him.
Which frankly just irritated him because why the hell was the man coming towards him when he should be looking for the car…
…which had just passed them.
He turns to face the train head on just when a specific green car happens to pass, which leads to him turn and running like hell. Not to say running wasn’t his strong suit, but after the night he’s had he really hated the fact that he had to fucking sprint after a train car. But on the bright side, at least he had spotted it; spending the night outdoors would have made the bad situation even worse.
He has the longer stride, which would concern him if it was anyone else who was following, but he knows Ethan will catch up; his eyes are fixated on the car that they somehow needed to get into.
Somewhere, in the back of mind, there is a notice that pops up; he’s being watched again. With everything that is going on around him, he does not give it that much thought. Although, the only person who would be watching, other than a sniper, would be Ethan. Not that the man hasn’t been doing for the entire night, but why would he be watching him, not the train car?
Narrowly being hit by a steel tower was enough to get that gaze off his mind, having a repeat of the train track tripping incident would not be beneficial. By this time, he was right next to keypad used to unlock and access the car, but he couldn’t unlock it even if he wanted to. For some reason, he had been made aware of WHERE the car was and WHAT color it was, but he couldn’t open the damn thing. Oh no, that was Ethan’s gig.
Running even faster than before, which he attributed to his legs getting over the ‘stretch’ period and starting to actually work properly, he gave enough room for the high and mighty field agent to access the control panel.
“This is it, the manifest!” That much should be obvious, but it never hurt to say it aloud.
In a standard voice, the panel asked the man to “Please input your code” which was an obvious but necessary action. The voice, not the moving trains or the man trailing him oddly enough distracted him to the point where he almost ran straight into another damn steel tower thing.
Whoever the hell built those things were idiots, seriously did they let a moron design the train station? There was no logical reason to have giant metal towers built that close to the moving train and there was no reason for them to exist, period. If he had time, he would have looked to see if the damned things actually held a purpose, but his money was on the fact that they did nothing. They were just wasted metal made into something stupid; one idea was that they were they to prevent people from boarding the train; just like they were…they were still stupid.
“OH!” The guttural gasp came out as he skid to a halt, hitting his head on industrial steel would not be the worst thing that happened today, but it would still suck.
Although in some way he doesn’t hate them all that much, because when he stops, just for a moment before running again, his back is skimmed by the other agent. It was a tactic so that they wouldn’t run into each other and so that Ethan could go key in the code, but at the same time it created a horizontal stripe across his back of warmth that sent a new shiver in his bones.
But that was in the past as he was now the one trailing, just for a moment when his height advantage prevailed and he once again passed the older agent. His eyes saw the four digit passcode being punched in and he sighed in relief, he could rest soon.
“Press enter” Had it not disrupted his running motion, he would be massaging his temples right about now. Really? The man couldn’t press enter? Frustration was not going to help the situation, but if was pretending to be an analyst he would be yelling at the man.
A grunt of fatigue came from Ethan, which worried him; all IMF field agents were in the best shape but considering how much damage the man had taken during the day before meeting him, it was most likely that the man wasn’t running at a hundred percent. Or seventy five for that matter.
Another piece of equipment decided to magically appear, he groaned internally, stupid IMF security.
“Retinal scanner!” Calling out the information, he wondered how the hell the man was going to be able to stay still long enough…
Of course that wasn’t the only problem, considering that Ethan Hunt was a bit shorter than the height required. He almost wished he had a camera to get footage of the infamous man jumping like a bunny to try and reach the scanner.
“Retinal scan required” Who knew machines could be so pushy?
At least this time he saw the stupid metal roadblock coming and was able to warn himself and Ethan of the obstacle; he was learning at least. “Watch out!”
By the time he had gotten back to the straight line path he had been following, he heard the most beautiful words to ever grace his ears, even if it was in that obnoxious computerized voice. “Agent confirmed”
The door began to move and so did he; despite the fact that his fingers had been used more than any other part of his body in the last few months, it was easy to pull himself into the opening. Now all he had to do was make sure that he did not fail Ethan a second time.
The train was picking up speed now, but that did not matter, he was going to get Agent Hunt’s crazy ass in the boxcar. The man took the first step in and probably could have made it on his own, but just to be sure he had a firm grip on the leather.
They landed to be surrounded by guns as the door slammed shut, not exactly a welcome wagon.
At least it was warm.
XxX (~Time Lapse~) XxX
A cool sheen still coated every inch of him; even with the warmth of the car he was still numb. The blues and blacks of professional outfit he had been wearing was still clinging to his skin, it seemed as though it was a second body suit, glued with a mixture of molasses and liquid duct tape to his tired self.
Somehow, he needed to strip himself and change; even if the fabrics were holding on for dear life.
A shower would be blessed right about now, but unfortunately there were to indoor rain clouds at his disposal. He had been right about the two car scenario, which was one of the good things about the situation. There were other things which made the glooming fact that he was stuck in the vicinity of Ethan until further notice; the other two members of the team seemed nice enough, although one of them seemed to be suspicious of him (as she should be), while the other just smiled happily at him and said hello. Hopefully he didn’t need to use one of them as a human shield when Ethan tried to take a shot at him. With there now being four of them, that meant there were three sets of eyes on him now.
Benji watched him lazily, but he knew it was just as focused as the others. Jane did not just stare outright, like a certain senior field agent, but she seemed ready to slit his throat if needed. He had read about Hanaway when being briefed on the situation with the Secretary, or former one if he wished to be completely correct, so the hostility was forgiven. Ethan on the other hand was flat out staring, just like he had on their ride over.
At least now he was alone, where there was no one of judge or silently asked what the hell he was doing here. While one section of the car was strictly a meeting room with equipment, the other part held clothes and the most beautiful thing he had ever seen…beds.
Even though they were twin sized and looked as though the sheets had never been changed, although used, they were what he thought heaven might look like. The light in the room was dim at best, he had yet to find the light switch, but still it seemed as though the fabric covered springs were bathed in a golden glow reserved only for the gates of heaven and halos.
Unfortunately, he could not indulge in the standard issue pillows and slightly scratchy blankets, no matter if his blood levels were doomed from a lack of coffee. He had only been released from the conference room to the dark sanctuary he currently occupied so that he would be shivering like a ‘kicked puppy’ (as Jane had put it) during the briefing on their newest mission.
Considering the grime look on Ethan’s face as he had listened to the information contained on the last flash drive ever given to them by the former Secretary (they had not been able to listen in for some reason, probably due to the fact that they were not the biggest agent in the IMF ranks) and the fact that there was a nuclear launch device in the possession of a madman, who happened to be named after a shade of blue, the debriefing as not going to be fun.
Rarely did he do it, but he wished he could skip it and sleep. He would have been able to if he was back in his IMF issued office, he was the head analyst and as long as he sent his assistants with the right information he was allowed to skip. He never did, but he could. Now he was on the bottom of the importance scale, back at the level of an intern; he still was contemplating skipping it though. Maybe the others would be kind and not throw him off the train.
It was impossible for him to do so, although they had been a part of a sub agency that did amazing things. Those thoughts would get him nowhere. He slid the brown dress shoes off with ease and efficiency, stepping on the heels to get them off faster. It did not matter if it made streaks on the leather, nothing of that sort mattered anymore.
Now all he needed to do was change and then return back to where he would be stared again, some with curiosity, some with sadness, and others with unreadable glares. The last set would belong to the green eyed person of interest he had been babysitting until the incident that was almost as bad as a baby getting its hands on medication. Instead of a stomach pump, there had been blood, enough to where he was sure some was still under his finger nails, no matter how hard he scrubbed.
The buttons were smooth within his fingers, each one slipping through the holes with ease despite the fact that his hands had been shaking only minutes ago. He tossed the blue dressed shirt in the same corner he had thrown the dress coat into; they were both useless now, no reason to be neat. The undershirt would be harder, since the skin tight shirt was behaving like a cat just taken from a tree, although instead of scratching him, it was clutching his chest to the point where he was worried it would cut off circulation.
Grabbing the edge of the white thin material, it only took him one tug to determine that he needed to dry off a bit more. There were no towels, so another cotton shirt was the nest he had to work with; at least it was soft. One dry sponge bath later, he had the thing half way off. Grumbling in exertion, the idea of sleeping once again popped into his mind.
If he just fell asleep, he would leave himself open to Ethan’s wrath if the man happened to find out during his resting period, however long it would be. There was nothing like being choked away, he would know.
Perhaps if he could jam the door, so that he would have industrial grade metal layers between him and the stares. Lock it so he wouldn’t have to be in the same room with the brilliant leader that he had ruined. Block them all out so he could wrap himself in the thin blankets and huddle in the corner where he belonged. Remove himself from the situation, just stay in the car until he died. It would be punishment enough for his failure.
It would never work though, no matter how appealing the plan sounded; one way or another they would get through the door. He doubted hell could keep Ethan back when he was bent on something (like ripping his throat), besides he knew Benji could hack anything he did to the programming of the door. While he wasn’t all that bad when it came to technology, he was nothing compared to the tech. And that left Jane, who would probably scratch her way through with her nails and then stab him in the groin with her high heel. Yes, she was that scary (or at least she was in the state of morning she was in, it was hidden well, but you could still tell); he did not doubt what he wrath could cause.
There was nothing he could do to the door, nothing he could do to avoid seeing the others again; that much was clear was the last wet piece of clothing left on his upper torso was thrown to the floor. His chest was slick, chilled, as it was exposed to the air with nothing between the two.
Going to rid himself of the other garments cooling his core, the belt slid through his fingers slowly as he decided he hated the door. He knew it wouldn’t cooperate, hell it would probably smack him in the face when he tried to block him. Stupid door, always against him. Doors had never really liked him; he remembered when a glass door had decided to get in his way when he was six, he had to walk around the class trip to the aquarium with bent glasses. Sure, he did his fair kicking of them when he was younger and as a teen, but why did the doors hold a grudge? He didn’t mean to piss off the inanimate species known as doors, but with his luck of course he did.
He wasn’t going to die from a bullet to the body, oh no, he was going to be hit by one of the damned things hard enough to give him brain damage. Then he would end up either bleeding to death by internal hemorrhaging or spend the rest of his life as a vegetable because some dumbass pushed the door too hard and gave the cursed objective the opportunity to kill him.
Yeah, there was no way a door was going to protect him from the other three.
Said door, that was probably silently plotting revenge, creaked as the train swung ever so slightly from side to side. Had the door had eyes, he would have glared at it, because it was indirectly preventing him from sleeping. But since there was nothing to stare at but metal, he turned away from it.
That was when it decided to open.
Somehow he knew who it was without turning to make eye contact, perhaps it was his ‘spy senses’ kicking in even though he had never been bitten by a spider of any radioactive; he paused his undressing, for courtesy of course in case it was Jane, and waited.
Landing in the right of his vision, where one of the bunks was located, was a long sleeve turtle neck like shirt. The material was grey and it looked warmer than the blankets.
“No pants, sorry”
Somehow he made some hand gesture or shoulder shrug, he wasn’t really sure nor did he care, to indicate that he had heard what the other man had said. Of course it was Ethan, who else would it be with his luck?
The door slid shut.
Now it moved, to shut him in a room with his biggest fear; stupid door. When he got home, if he ever did, he was going to take all the doors off their hinges, except for the front and back door, and burn them. He never had company over so it would be perfectly fine and he wouldn’t have to deal with the damn things.
One of the first rules learned in basic training for anything, from intelligence and hand to hand, was to never let your guard down. It was repeated constantly and consistently, so that all agents were prepared for anything and everything at any moment. That being said, he was not acting like an agent.
This was true because he did not see it coming, the bold use of strength. It was a surprise, the way he was flipped around and shoved into the nearest wall. It was clean, swift and almost predatory in the effectiveness used.
Slamming against the flat surface, it was smooth and cool as the air that was racing beside them with each mile that passed under the wheels of the train. He had only been in the position for a moment, but he knew that it was going to be near impossible to escape his current position.
The behavior of the man, whom he had failed in so many ways (Not being ready for the kidnapping, not keeping his team under control, not fucking calling for backup, and not telling a soul what was going on) could be characterized as hunting. Despite the ironic fact that it corresponded to the man’s name, it was a method used by many animals and people used in the sense that one living thing killed another.
Which meant that he was going die.
He accepted his fate, he had failed; perhaps this ending would just send him somewhere else where he wouldn’t have to be surrounded by those who stared. Being pinned to the wall by another person was an interesting way to go for most; being killed by another agent usually it was due to betrayal so the agent felt shock and sadness in their last moments, but of course he wasn’t in a normal situation. No matter how Ethan Hunt had found out, it was obvious he knew know.
The time for running, hiding, and denying was done; he had been caught.
It had been a while since they had been this close, chest to chest; the last time being a few days before the kidnapping. There had been some chatter across the intelligence lines about a threat against the Hunts; they had been keeping closer tabs on the two. Which had been the reason why he had been following the husband closer than he usually would on his morning run; he hadn’t been spotted, so the risk was acceptable. Then the husband had disappeared, leaving him running faster in a panic that he had failed and that the husband had been hurt. Instead he turned one wrong corner and found himself slammed up against a tree trunk, the man glaring at him. Considering the man was one of the best field agents ever, it was expected for him to be suspicious and/or catch on eventually. He had been able to bullshit his way out of it, but not before they had spent a good ten minutes just standing there literally a few inches away from each other.
The situation he was currently in was almost an exact repeat, almost being the key word.
For one thing, he was half naked; as the lighting, which seemed a lot brighter than it had a minute ago, proved as the result of field missions and gym training showed. He resisted the urge to shiver or hover closer to the heating unit also known as his fellow agent.
One other factor was that they both knew the other existed; then all the recognition had been on his end, now the man knew his name, his face. That was a big step considering that his identity was the one thing, the one crucial thing that tied him to his work in Croatia. It wasn’t comfortable being on this level, or on the edge knowing that in a moment’s time he could be falling into the pit of hell where he had the wrath of the man raining down on him; but somehow it felt right.
Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer, and keep the people who fell into both and neither categories closest of all.
Awaiting your own death was never a pleasant thing, but at least he had something to do while waiting for the man holding him to decide how to kill him and drop his lifeless corpse to the floor. It would more than likely be done in a fluid motion, a knife to the neck or something along those lines since a gunshot would possibly damage both their eardrums.
His mission for the moment, perhaps his last ever, was to avoid those green eyes. He did not want to see the anguish, the horror, the bloodcurdling sadness that would stare at him, glare at him for causing the whole ordeal that was about to come to a close.
He counted the miniscule, more like nonexistent, cracks in the floor, ignoring the other set of feet barely touching his own. It was cowardly, not to face his attacker, but it didn’t matter; he had taken the low road the last few months, no reason to rise above now.
Their breathing, separate yet similar, was slightly labored but seemingly in perfect synchronization despite the fact that one was being held and the other was doing the holding. The other man was exerting more effort, while he had theoretically rolled over and was just resting now in case his soul needed it for the trip to wherever the hell he was going.
There was a small sigh, followed by a muttered statement which sounded more like a plead to something other than him “Don’t punch me”
What that was supposed to mean was beyond him, because really who talked to their captive before they killed them? Ethan did not really seem like the sadistic type, but then again he could always be wrong because if it was one thing agents were good at, it was lying their asses off and hiding secrets.
Part of him almost didn’t care if it was eternal damnation or the white alternative; he just wanted this to be over with so he didn’t have to deal with…
Figures Ethan Hunt would pick the most unorthodox way to kill his captured prey; there was no neck snapping, choking, or stabbing.
Just two lips against his.
The sheen that had been a thin layer of moisture on bare skin was rubbing away, somehow evaporating despite the fact that the only thing that had been raised was his heartbeat, not the temperature. There were few drops that stayed behind as two warm hands held him in placed.
Logically considering what was going on and how he felt was irrelevant at the moment, his mind having received a message to stand down and shut down from an outside source. There wasn’t a moment to consider how he felt about his former charge sensually warming him, especially not when the cracked lips moved down his neck.
The other man seemed feverish, fire radiating onto formally chilled nerves, that enough was about to make him groan, not to mention the obviously cultivated skills of the other agent working against his sanity.
The man was trying to drive him insane, that was the only conclusion that he could come to. It was definitely a new technique that would more than likely be added to the agency’s list of torture if the agency was reformed, if the world didn’t explode or something, and especially if they found out about the moment.
This needed to stop; there was no way he could or would take advantage of a widower that he had caused to be single. And he did not need a brain to decide that, which was good since his mind was being scrambled like eggs by Chef el Hunt.
“Eth..” The name was cut off by another kiss, this time one that forced his head back against the wall as the former record of how close they had ever been was shattered. The muscles seemed to match and mold against his own, something that seemed unintentional yet perfect.
The vocal section of him seemed to suddenly come to life; his moan was swallowed by the other man and for a moment, it seemed nothing else really mattered. But that was probably the growing arousal talking. He decided to push back, just a bit, because if the situation was going to happen, he wasn’t going to completely roll over.
Besides, there was nothing like a good battle for dominance.
Ethan seemed to agree, allowing him a small amount of leeway, it was like giving him an inch; he took a foot. There was a small amount of surprise from the other man, but nothing that wasn’t welcomed it seemed.
This was going to be intere...
He gaped; there was a wink as the man peeled himself away and went towards the door. As soon as it had begun it was over? Definitely a torture technique.
“Debriefing is in in five minutes, get changed”
Then he was alone, again.
There are a few truths in life.
One was that the only things that were certain were life, death, and taxes. Another was that one did not simply walk into Mordor. A third was that brain bleach did not exist, no matter how much we want it or how much we need it.
That last one applied because half of him wanted to erase what just happened, while the other half wanted to nail the memory to the wall while framing it like a prized buck head.
He was delusion. It was some fucked up mixture of post traumatic stress disorder and insomnia, it had to be. Perhaps he had just fallen asleep standing up while changing; while being agent and that kind of not being prepared did not mix (he had left himself open to whatever happened!), it was possible.
That was what he was going with, it was some fucked up dream that was so hot that his blood felt like it was boiling. Ethan Hunt had not erotically assaulted him before leaving with only a sly smile on his face; his head was just in the nut house.
He had just finally snapped, left the world of sanity due to the stress of the day’s events and those in his past. He just needed to lay down with one of those flimsy eye masks and pretend that he wasn’t going crazy, perhaps Jane had a fruit based mask he could put on his face to try and not let the new wrinkles appear. And he needed ear plugs, so his own gasp wouldn’t echo the entire night.
He couldn’t think of the warmth or the fact that he felt like he would never be cold again for the rest of his life; it was just a dream after all.
Pulling on the long shirt that had been left for him every so kindly by the man who was messing with him mind, he waited and tried to rationalize the situation. Soon after, he found that he could not, after all who had a wet dream in the making about Ethan Hunt (other than every woman in the IMF, excluding Jane) ?
But he had to rationalize it somehow or he would be trying to do so during the meeting and that would distract him.
Rationalization might not be possible, he decided as he tucked the fresh memory into his large brain.
Then again, it was only a dream.
He wished it wasn’t.