Sometimes I Worry…
“Where is he?” Jane’s voice was bitter and sharp as she pressed the knife up against the man’s neck. Ethan and Brandt had their guns trained on him, waiting for an answer. When the man didn’t provide one, they watched their teammate lower the blade to his stomach and slowly apply pressure; the silver slowly becoming coated in red as it slid below the flesh. The man screamed out in agony as he squirmed on the floor. “Where. Is. He?”
The man lifted a hand and pointed to a corridor behind Brandt and Ethan. The team leader turned to Brandt and nodded. “Go.” The analyst didn’t need to take a second to think about it. Holstering his gun, he spun around and took off, calves burning and heart racing as he ran down the corridor. He spotted the door at the end and almost ran into it due to his speed. Pushing down on the handle, he found it to be locked. He cursed under his breath, backing up and forcing his foot into the wooden barrier keeping him from reaching his destination. It took a few powerful blows, causing his legs and feet to ache, however he didn’t give up and was soon rewarded when the door opened with immense force. Entering the room, he saw him.
Benji sat bound to a chair with his head lulled forward onto his chest, which was rising and falling slowly. Rushing to his side, Brandt dropped to his knees.
“Benji?” Pulling the gag from his mouth, the analyst placed a gentle hand on his cheek; the skin was so cold to touch. Lifting the younger man’s head with his hand, he caressed the outline of Benji’s cheekbone with his thumb. When the gesture didn’t rouse him, Brandt got to his feet and quickly untied him, making sure that he was fast enough to catch him as his limp figure was released. Falling to his knees, he rested Benji in his lap and softly stroked his blonde hair, which was sticky with blood from a nasty gash at his hairline. “Benji, can you hear me? Please wake up…” A soft noise escaped the tech’s lips and Brandt felt respite wash over him. “That’s it Benj.” When he saw Benji’s eyes begin to open he had to fight back the tears of relief and he smiled slightly. When the blue eyes he knew so well finally locked onto his own, his smile grew wider, reassuring Benji without words that he was going to be ok.
“Will?” Benji’s voice was weak, however just hearing his voice again was good enough for Brandt.
“I’m here, Benj. I’m here. I got you.” Brandt grasped one of Benji’s hands in his own. “You had me so worried.” It wasn’t a lie in the slightest. When he had heard that the men from their last mission had come back and snatched Benji away for information, he had felt physically sick. He knew immediately that he had to get him back and he had done just that.
“Hey, hey. It’s ok. Don’t be sorry.” He rubbed his thumb in circles on the back of Benji’s hand and lowered his head to place a kiss on Benji’s forehead. “You’re safe now.”
Sometimes I’m Sorry…
“Benji?” Brandt slowly pushed open the door to the living room of their apartment and saw the Brit sitting on the sofa, legs crossed underneath him. He was staring across the room at the television, which would be normal, however the device was currently switched off and his usually happy blue eyes were so vacant. Crossing the room, he trod carefully in the dim light and approached the sofa. When he was standing over Benji, the younger man finally looked up. Brandt’s heart almost skipped a beat when he saw that Benji’s eyes were slightly wet with what appeared to be tears that had not yet fallen. Brandt sat on the sofa next to his lover and placed a tender hand on his shoulder. “Benji, what is it? What’s wrong?”
“Why did you do that?”
Brandt was utterly confused. “Do what?”
“You know what.” Benji’s stare became cold and Brandt realised to what he was referring.
“Oh, that…” He wasn’t sure what to say. “Benji, if you let me exp-”
“No, Brandt.” Hearing Benji’s voice so harsh came as a shock to the analyst and he felt shot down. “Do you have any idea how stupid that was? You just walk in there, unarmed, without back up. He could have shot you!”
“Benji, our line of work is dangerous anyway, you know that.” Brandt tried to reason. “You’ve experienced first-hand how dangerous it can be.” He instantly regretted the words as they left his mouth and he winced as Benji’s jaw hung open slightly. The tech was still getting over his kidnapping ordeal and it was a soft spot which no one touched unless Benji wanted to.
“But it’s not like I walked up to them and asked to be taken, did I?” His voice was monotonous and curt, causing Brandt to drop his head into his hands.
“I’m sorry, Benji.” He spoke into his hands, causing the words to become muffled. “I’m so sorry. I just didn’t see any other way of getting those people out of there.”
“You didn’t take the time to search for another way.” Benji’s voice hitched slightly as he spoke. “I don’t wanna lose you.”
Brandt’s head shot up and he locked eyes with Benji. “You’re not gonna lose me, Benj. I promise.” Benji shook his head slightly.
“When you walked into that room, all I could see was Hanaway.” Brandt furrowed his brow slightly at the name before remembering. He had never met Agent Hanaway, however knew what had happened. Jane had killed someone because of it. He hadn’t thought of that when he had deliberately put himself in the firing line. All he had been thinking about was how to get the hostages out of the room; he hadn’t once thought of what might happen if he were killed.
“Benji, I… I guess I just didn’t think of-”
“You’re right. You didn’t think.” Benji raised his eyebrows. “But that’s something I’ve gotta get used to, I guess.” Brandt gave a small smile and let out a breathy laugh.
“Yeah. I suppose you will.” He reached down and grabbed Benji’s hand. “So are we good?” Benji tried to maintain the scowl on his face, however the look Brandt was giving him made him melt.
“Fine.” He let his frown turn into a smile and found himself wrapped in Brandt’s arms. Resting his chin on the analyst’s shoulder he sighed. “Just promise you won’t ever do something stupid like that again. At least not without consulting me first.”
“And would you say ‘yes’ if I did consult you about it?” Brandt’s voice was almost inaudible as his face was pressed against Benji’s neck.
“Probably not.” Benji replied, causing Brandt to laugh again and press a gentle kiss against the tech’s neck. Benji hummed at the contact and relaxed into Brandt’s embrace, relieved that he was ok.
Sometimes I Just Wanna Kiss That Frown…
Brandt checked the clock as he stirred, noting that it read 2:45am. Blinking away the sleep, he sensed something next to him and glanced over his shoulder to see Benji sitting up in bed, his back resting against the headboard. As he rolled over onto his back, Brandt noticed the way Benji’s eyes glistened in the dim moonlight and instantly knew something was wrong. Reaching over, he flicked on the lamp and pushed himself up into a sitting position.
“Benji?” His voice was still groggy from sleep. “You ok?” Benji turned to him and blinked a few times.
“Hmm?” It seemed to take him a few moments to realise what was going on and suddenly his mouth opened slightly. “Oh, I didn’t wake you did I? Sorry.”
“No, no. You didn’t wake me. What’s wrong?”
Benji sighed. “Just, you know, thinking about the mission.” Brandt was slightly confused. Their last mission had been a success; they had got the information they needed and all four of them had escaped unscathed.
“What about the mission?” he asked, tenderly. Benji sucked in a breath before beginning to speak, blinking rapidly as if trying to find the right words.
“Every time I close my eyes, I see him.” Benji turned to look Brandt in the eye and the analyst immediately knew what he meant.
“Benji…” He wasn’t sure what to say. While the mission had been completed, it hadn’t been without loss. When the team had been escaping the burning building, Benji had spotted a young man trapped in a nearby room. He ran to his aid without a second thought and managed to get him out, however when the roof began to cave in, the young man had been struck by some falling debris and fell to the ground. Benji had tried to get him up, but he would have been dead by that point anyway. Fortunately, Brandt realised that Benji was still inside and ran back in to get him. Benji had been simply standing over the man when Brandt found him and the analyst had to try numerous times to get him to hurry. They had waited outside watching the building burn to the ground and Benji just sat on the kerb, staring into space. When Brandt sat next to him, he wiped the smoke marks from his face and tried to reassure him that there was nothing he could have done. At the time, Benji had seemed to understand, but this was the third night in a row that Brandt had woken to find him not sleeping.
“Why couldn’t I save him, Will?” Benji’s eyes were filling with tears as he spoke, trying to fight away any emotion. It wasn’t working. Brandt sighed. Benji was still relatively new to the field and hadn’t had much experience in dealing with these sorts of things. “You and Ethan and Jane always seem to get things right. But when I try to save one person, just one, I can’t even do that. Maybe… maybe I’m just not cut out for the field.”
“Hey, now. Don’t say that.” Brandt shifted so that he could grab Benji’s hand. “You’re an amazing field agent, Benj. How many times have there been missions that we couldn’t have completed without you?” He needed Benji to understand just how good he was at his job. One flaw that Benji had was his insecurities over his own abilities. Sure, when you’re working with Ethan Hunt you’re bound to feel inferior, but Benji was more than capable and he needed to know that. “What about the Cobalt mission? You saved my life and pretty much the world.”
“Yeah right.” Benji scoffed.
“I’m being serious. Look at it the same way you look at Star Wars.” Benji tilted his head in confusion; not quite understanding how the Cobalt mission could be compared to a science-fiction movie. “You always say that the entire original trilogy wouldn’t have happened without one person’s action. Think about it. If you hadn’t have shot Wistrom, I couldn’t have got the power on. Then Jane wouldn’t have been able to get those drives in and Ethan couldn’t have stopped the bomb. We would have fallen into nuclear war if you hadn’t been there. You’re far better than you give yourself credit for, Benji.” When the tech nodded, Brandt placed a hand on the side of his face and leaned in to press their lips together. When Brandt nipped at his bottom lip slightly, Benji parted his lips, allowing the kiss to deepen. After a few moments, they pulled apart and Brandt rested his forehead against Benji’s, not removing his hand from his lover’s neck. Sitting like that, they took a few seconds to catch their breath before Brandt pulled Benji into his arms, settling back down on the bed as the younger man rested his head on the analyst’s chest. As Benji lay there, listening to Brandt’s heartbeat, he felt his eyes closing slightly.
“Thank you.” He mumbled, sleepily. Brandt smiled and gently stroked Benji’s hair, feeling the blonde man’s body relax and give in to sleep once more.
— † —
Sometimes I worry.
Will knows what has startled him into consciousness before he is even fully awake. He is a trained agent after all, aware of his surroundings at all times – even while sound asleep. Besides, it is the fourth night in a row this has happened. He wipes the remnants of sleep from his eyes, wishing he could put an end to this, but he can't. At the end of the day, it is not his fight. Thus, he can only sit and watch and worry.
Benji's features are clearly visible in the light of the street lamp right in front of Will's bedroom window. He never had a problem with its existence, never thought about blinds or shutters. In nights like these, though, he wishes it wasn't there so he would not have to take a look at his lover's distorted features, caught in a battle only he sees the opponents of.
Will does not dare touch him, for fear of scaring him and making things worse in the process. He can tell. He tried. Neither of them have overcome the memory of that night a few weeks ago, of a broken bedside lamp and red lines of blood. The scars on Benji's skin are visible as well, in the artificial light – violent reminders of a beloved not remembered. They will never fade.
It is not for the first time that he thinks about quitting and leaving everything behind, everything which causes his lover to feel the strong grip of heavy guilt and missed chances almost every time he sinks back into the arms of repose. He does not care about the world, about saving every lost soul out there, for it is their own lost souls he thinks about in the dark of the night, when he watches Benji shudder beneath the covers, his mouth open in a silent scream.
Yet, he knows he cannot stop. They cannot stop. They will go on until they cannot go any further. It is ambition and love which drives them forward in the heat of a mission – the same things that are tearing them apart as soon as silence descends upon them, the rush of adrenaline long gone.
Will curls his fists around the sheets, trying to prevent himself from reaching out and touching his lover. How he wishes he could just pull him into his arms and fight the demons looming over him, side by side. But still, he can only sit and watch and worry. It drives him insane, this feeling of helplessness which is eating away at his heart until there is nothing left but raw love and despair, mingled together beyond recognition. There is nothing he can do but wait.
And so he sits there in the twilight for hours, hands hovering over Benji's shoulders in an endless battle between affection and reason. He watches every movement, listens to every inaudible sigh and mumble that escape his lover, waiting for his chance to do what he is supposed to do. Yet, he is not allowed to decide on the pace – it is all up to his lover now.
When he finally catches the signs of the fight winding down, he prepares himself for what he knows is to come. Benji is drawing in his long limbs one by one, curling up into a position that hurts every time Will has to witness it. It is the epitome of vulnerability, something that can cost your life in their line of work. His lover releases a long and shuddering breath before he opens his eyes. They are sharp and clear, no marks of sleep lurking behind the blue irises. The first time Will has watched it happen, it scared him beyond belief. But he is used to it now, so he just sits there, waiting for Benji to turn around and seek the warmth and security etched into his embrace. He doesn't have to wait for long.
“I'm sorry,” Benji whispers against his chest, the words nearly lost in the sound of his rasping voice.
Will knows the words by heart, anyway. Therefore, he opts for saying the only thing he can think of, the only thing that is always at the forefront of his mind after another night spent in agonized silence, sitting, watching and worrying.
— † —
Sometimes I'm sorry.
“I can't do this anymore.”
For a few seconds – precious seconds before the thunderstorm is bound to erupt – Benji looks confused and lost, and then realization darkens his face like a black cloud tinting a cerulean sky. He plants his hands on his hips and opens his mouth to tell Will exactly what he is thinking about his revelation, but the words don't come. Instead, he crosses his arms over his chest and ignores his lover's attempts to lock eyes with him, staring out of the window instead.
“It's... I can't. I'm out of strength.”
Will jumps as Benji suddenly turns and storms out the door, his shoulders tense and his motions angry. He is at a loss for what to do, so he lets his mind wander and analyse the last few minutes, trying to determine what he has done wrong. And with a start, he realizes what Benji must think he has just said to him: 'You can't do this anymore. You're not strong enough and my strength isn't enough for the both of us.' He sinks down onto the couch, hiding his face behind his hands, and lets the guilt consume him.
— † —
Sometimes I just wanna kiss that frown.
Hours later, he is still sitting on the couch, still trying to reign in his emotions which are suffocating him, causing his breath to catch in his throat and his eyes to fill with tears. They had worked so hard to build and protect their relationship – a relationship that had evolved from the easy company they had been for each other into so much more. And with just one sentence, he has crushed it all, burned it to ashes with those few words. He knows that he cannot take them back. He meant everything he said, with an honesty only Benji has earned to receive – and no one else.
Still, he cannot help but feel like he has deliberately thrown away the best thing that has ever happened to him, just because he was not as strong as he had hoped he could be. There is no going back now. His decision is final, no emergency exits included. He will have to deal with the guilt, but he is well acquainted with this feeling, has felt it for years and years. He can move on.
Shaking his head, he lets out a bitter laugh. No, not this time. There will be no Ethan this time, to tell him that he did nothing wrong, that he did not fail. And if there were, no one would believe it, he himself least of all. He knows he will live. But he won't be alive.
When he hears quiet footsteps approaching the living room, he swears his heart stops beating for a moment, smothered by a wave of restless hope. Someone is standing right in front of him, staring at him. He can feel those eyes burning his skin. He doesn't dare look up, afraid it might be a trick of his mind, a last wave of good-bye before it lunges itself into the abyss of insanity, never to return. He hears the sound of clothes rustling and then warm hands cover his own, pry them away from his face.
“Look at me.” The command is soft, pleading and he cannot refuse. He never could.
He opens his eyes and his vision is blurred with the threat of tears. He opens his mouth to say something, anything, but Benji doesn't give him the chance to do so, leaning forward to press their foreheads together. They breathe the same air for a moment before Benji pulls back just far enough to kiss his hairline, his temple and then his mouth.
Their breathing grows erratic, both of them lost in the desire to just forget, but at the same time, they know that they cannot forget that easily. The life they are leading together is on the brink of something new – it is up to them to decide which path it is to take. It scares them both.
“I'm so sorry.” Benji's voice holds the promise of tears, too, and Will stares at him, dumbfounded.
“What? What do you mean you're-”
“No.” Benji sits back on his haunches, but raises his hands to cradle his lover's face, never losing contact. “Let me finish, please.”
Will cannot hold his gaze. Yet, when he tries to direct his eyes at the floor, Benji's strong hands grip his jaw and keep him locked in place. For another few seconds, they stare into each other's eyes, trying to seek strength there, as well as the promises they never spoke out loud – to protect, to hold on when reality becomes too much to bear, to love without restraints.
“I'm really sorry.” Benji clears his throat. “I know you'd never... question my ability to do this. And I thanked you by not trusting you, you and your judgement.” He closes his eyes for a moment, clearly searching for the courage to carry on. He draws a deep breath. “Let's quit. Wherever you want to go, I'll be with you. I want you to know that. And I want you to stop feeling guilty. You did the only thing that was right.”
Will's eyes widen and his hands come up to cradle Benji's face of their own accord. And then, all of a sudden, a laugh forces its way out of his mouth, rattling his whole body. He lunges forward and clashes their lips together. He doesn't care that he sends them both crashing into the floor. He doesn't care that this is going to bruise. All he does care about is that Benji will not leave him, will not cut the bond between them, will not disappear.
He kisses every inch of skin he can get hold of, laughing until tears are running down his face. Benji is laughing, too and they are rolling around on the floor, trying to feel everything at once, like there is no tomorrow.
But there is.
— † —