So, the thing is, Special Agent Brent Seabrook is pretty fucking excellent at his job. He’s got great marksmanship, he can work on a team without killing the other guys even when they’re incompetent assholes, and he could sweet-talk the Queen of England out of her own crown jewels.
Hell, he has sweet-talked the Queen of England. Out of what, he couldn’t say. That’s classified.
Also, he looks fucking great in a tux.
So when the Blackhawks Corp want to send in their best men to get the job done—well, they’d probably send in Captain Toews and Agent Kane, these days. But Brent and his partner Duncan basically built the Chicago intelligence force up from the ground, so they get more credit than flashy imports from Winnipeg and Buffalo, for christ’s sake.
Even if Kaner’s spin-o-rama is pretty fucking impressive.
It’s not like Brent is jealous of Kaner and Tazer or something. Although sometimes he does think that if the dream team hadn’t come to Chicago, maybe the captaincy would have fallen to Duncs, who really deserves it. He put in all the long hours, took all the shitty assignments, cleaned up everyone’s mistakes for so long when there was no one else who could do it except him. When you make that kind of commitment, you’re supposed to get a reward at the other end. You’re supposed to get higher in the ranks until you’re calling the shots instead of taking them. But maybe that wouldn’t have made Duncs happy; maybe all that blame falling on his head would have driven him crazy. Maybe he would have missed the day-to-day fieldwork. Brent doesn’t know.
But Brent likes the kids. Tazer makes a great captain, even though he’s so young—there’s something about him that makes you want to shut up and listen, even when you know he’s saying something you disagree with. And Kaner can cozy up to anyone and get them to talk. He plays coy like nobody’s business, and the marks never realize that he’s there to take them out until he’s got them on the floor with his gun at the back of their skull.
Brent respects them, and he’s proud to be their teammate. Also it’s kinda nice to be less repressed than someone else for a change. At least Brent knows how to smile at people who aren’t his partner, unlike some agents he could mention.
When Kane and Toews first joined up with the Blackhawks Corp, before he and Duncs had gotten their shit together, Brent had projected a 67% possibility that Kaner and Tazer were a couple, and a 98% chance that they were screwing. (When you’re a world-class spy, you spend almost as much time analyzing the people you know as the people you’re paid to write reports on.)
Now he knows for sure that they weren’t, and aren’t, because after that ugly run-in with Detroit last week he and Duncs had taken Kaner out to get him drunk (they had invited Tazer too, of course, but as usual he refused to be any fun). Kaner had basically spent the entire night sinking deeper and deeper into his spot between them in the booth, drinking his beer as well as Brent’s, if Brent didn’t finish it fast enough, and moaning about his feelings for Tazer and Tazer’s stupid-looking face.
And seriously, has Kaner not noticed that he’s the only person who gets Tazer to make real human facial expressions? Tazer is pretty much a Vulcan with everyone else on the planet, but when he smiles at Kaner, his whole face basically lights up in a single instant, from nothing to boom! smile, like screwing in a lightbulb.
And Kaner follows him around, one step behind him like a puppy trained to heel, smiling this ridiculously dopey smile at his back when thinks Tazer’s not looking.
When Kaner started describing how much he enjoys it when Tazer punches him on the arm and says, “Good job, Kaner,” Brent had to make sure that he didn’t look up over Kaner’s fuzzy blond head to meet Duncs’ eyes, because he was pretty sure he’d start laughing. Not to mock Kaner’s epic heartache or whatever—well, not only that—but because three months ago that had been him glaring at his bottle and telling Sharpy all about how Duncs would never love him back. So it was funny, because now he’s got Duncs and he’s got bragging rights; for once in his life he’s more together, emotionally, than someone else. He’ll take it, even if that someone is Patrick Kane.
Brent is used to being a guy who wouldn’t win any medals for getting in touch with your feelings (if they even gave medals for such a dumb thing). But that’s cool, because he’s also used to kicking ass at his job.
Tonight, he and Duncs are casing a ball at the Canadian Consulate of Chicago. There are two agents from Vancouver who are supposed to be here, guys Brent hasn’t met before: a pair of ugly redheaded twins, surname Sedin. He and Duncs have to figure out whether the bad guys came to make trouble tonight or just to party it up.
Brent kinda hopes that the Vancouver boys are legit this time, even though he would normally relish a chance to rough one or two of them up. He’s not in the mood for a fight tonight.
And anyway, he has a bet on with Kaner, who thinks it’s impossible for Vancouver agents to show up in Chicago without making a mess. “It’s, like, fucking genetic or something, man,” Kaner had said. Bullshit.
For this job, Duncs is working the truck, and Brent is handling the inside spot. Sometimes they do it the other way around, but tonight Brent pulled the short straw.
“Seabs, if I gotta dance with those ladies all night I’m gonna kill someone. I’ll make it up to you,” Duncs had said, smirking as he popped the buttons on his shirt cuffs.
What the fuck else was Brent supposed to do? He had straightened his bowtie and headed in, that’s what, and put aside all thought of Duncs, sitting there in the truck with his tie untied and his shirt unbuttoned. Because Brent is awesome and badass and a professional, who absolutely does not get distracted on the job, no matter how much of a milk run it is.
So here he is, waltzing away with some airheaded diplomat’s wife with dark hair piled on top of her head like an alien wedding cake. He’s been dancing with her, or women like her, for the better part of four hours. As much of a professional as he is, he doesn’t have it in him to avoid zoning out at least a little.
It’s still okay, Brent thinks, because he’s got a smile and a rapt expression for his dance partner, who is making small talk about the weather. God, is he ever glad he only pretends to be the kind of fun-hating bastard who comes to these sort of events. Also, he’s keeping an eye on the moves of his targets, Ugly Twin #1 and Ugly Twin #2, who are standing off to the side of the dance floor, sipping champagne and not smiling. Brent knows these guys are top-of-the-line, some of the best agents Vancouver has got, but the murderous glares pretty much look like amateur hour to him.
The problematic part is that the rest of his brain, the part that should be thinking seven steps ahead and four steps sideways, is zoned out on the memory of Duncan in the kitchen this morning, sleeves of his blue shirt rolled up to the elbows, his forearms glistening with soapy water. He had turned around as Brent came up behind him, smiled like the sun rising, and flicked Brent in the face with dishwater.
They did domestic shit like that all the time, these days. Things were finally starting to come together for them. They had this little apartment in the city—well, they had been living in the apartment ever since they moved to Chicago all those years ago, but there’s a difference between living together and living together. Now, they knew where they stood with each other. Now, they fell asleep watching SportsCenter on the couch, and when they woke up in the middle of the night curled together, lines on Dunc’s cheek from where it had been pressed into the seam of Brent’s shirt, instead of the awkward disentanglement and the sexual frustration, Dunc would just smile sleepily at him and say, “Come to bed.”
It’s kind of embarrassing how into Duncs Brent is. Even fucking Tazer (whom they call “Agent Serious,” because he is the self-professed actual worst at feelings) has clapped him on the back and said, “About goddamn time.” But Brent can’t bring himself to care, even when it makes him looks like—
“Oh fuck me,” breathes Brent.
Ugly Twin #1 has grabbed one of the party attendees, a young guy with slicked-back hair, and is holding a nine mil Beretta to his chin. The guy looks scared, but not like he’s going to do something stupid that’ll get him killed. Good.
Brent shoves his dance partner out of his sightline (she lets out an aggrieved and startled, “Hey!” as she stumbles on her high heels), pulls his sidearm out of his boot and kneels, taking the gunman down with a shot to the thigh. Brent’s dance partner runs, screaming, for the doors, as Twin #1 crumples to the floor. The hostage looks at Brent, who nods; only then does he run for the exit. That was smart, Brent thinks, impressed, he kept his cool.
Then Brent realizes something is missing. Where’s Twin #2? Where did he—Brent’s wheeling around, trying to see the missing twin, mind is scrambling to make up for the time he’s lost.
“Seabs? Everything okay down there?” says Duncs’ voice from Brent’s earpiece. And Brent opens his mouth to say, no, send me some backup stat, but then he can’t because, oh hey, here’s the missing twin. The twin has got something around Brent’s throat, trying to choke him—oh, it’s a belt. Classy.
“Agent Seabrook, come in,” says Dunc, starting to sound a bit grave. And Brent wants to come in, he really fucking does, but the world is starting to go slightly grey around the edges, and the only things he can hear clearly are the screams of the party guests as they flee out the open French doors into the garden, and Dunc’s voice asking him to come in.
This is getting ridiculous. What did you think would happen if you started making jokes about amateur hour, dumbass? says a voice in Brent’s head that sounds an awful lot like Duncs at his most wry and fond. He likes it much better when Dunc sounds like that, not all cold and toneless like he sounds in Brent’s earpiece right now.
Duncs is saying, “Cap, this is Agent Keith, I’m not raising Seabrook over comm. Request permission to leave the truck and assess the situation.” His voice is hard and commanding, tight with adrenaline.
Brent aims a vicious elbow behind him, at the stomach of the twin who’s choking him. But the twin holds steady, grip not loosening at all, and takes it with a little huff of exhaled breath like he was lifting a box over his head or something. Are these bastards for real?
Through his earpiece, Brent hears, “Agent Keith, this is Toews. Base says negative on leaving the truck.”
“I copy,” says Duncs, and he turns it into a curse. “But Tazer—“
“Base says no, Keith. Toews out.”
“Shit!” says Duncs. Then, with desperation coloring his voice in a way that scares the crap out of Brent: “Brent, I’m—“
“Don’t!” Brent gasps out. He knows what Duncs is trying to say, how much he wants to leave the truck and come dashing to Brent’s rescue, orders be damned. Brent struggles against the hold the twin has on him, trying to get enough air to tell Duncs to request backup instead of doing something rash.
But before he can say anything, he hears Duncan’s sharp inhalation, and a cold, “Fuck it,” and then Brent’s earpiece beeps twice to tell him that the person on the other end has disconnected it.
And Brent refuses to feel relieved as he tries first a kick, then a stomp, and, desperately, a head-butt on the invincible twin. The last thing they need is for Dunc to rush into danger when he’s been expressly ordered not to. The last thing Brent needs is for Duncan to have to pay for Brent’s stupid mistake.
But then the side door to the ballroom bursts open with a sharp “bang!” and Dunc is standing there, a shotgun braced on his shoulder, aiming at the twin.
“Drop him, or I shoot you right now,” says Duncan. Brent’s heart does something funny in his chest, but maybe that’s just the asphyxiation setting in.
“Fuck you,” scoffs the twin, smiling wide and feral. “You would never take the risk,” and he ought to be right; the fucker has got Brent between himself and Duncan like a human shield. If it were anyone else, Brent knows they wouldn’t take the shot at such close range to a hostage. But in order to taunt Duncan, the twin has had to loosen his grip a little on Brent, just enough for him to yell,
“Do it, Dunc!”
And Duncan trusts him, so he does.
* * *
At the debriefing, Brent is dismayed to see that all of the senior agents have been called in--never a good sign when a mission has gone down like theirs did tonight. Q, the director of the Blackhawks Corp, is holding court at the front of the conference room. To either side of him sit Captain Toews and Special Agent Sharp, the team leaders, looking somber. Sharpy’s mask of disapproval cracks minutely when Brent and Duncs walk in, though—he winces sympathetically at them when Tazer’s head is turned the other way.
Duncs nods slightly in acknowledgement, and then pulls out a chair for Brent before sitting down himself. He leaves his arm draped across the back of the chair, and Brent leans into it.
Kaner is smirking at them from where he’s perched with his ass on the conference room table, as close to Tazer as he can scoot. “You owe me forty bucks, dickhead!” he mouths at Brent.
Brent can’t flip him off from where he’s sitting, because Q would see. So he just glares daggers at Kaner instead.
Then the meeting starts.
“Boys,” says Q, “What the fuck was that out there?” And that’s the beginning of the longest fucking debrief of Brent’s life—even longer than the time he and Kaner almost blew up Millennium Park. On their day off.
(“Which part?” Duncs had asked, aghast.
“All of it,” Brent had replied miserably. Duncs had laughed so hard Brent was kind of afraid he was going to pull a muscle or something.)
Q and Tazer and Sharpy take turns yelling at Duncan. Then they take turns yelling at Brent. Then, just as things are winding down, they start yelling at each other about which of them is more to blame for the pathetic effort put in by the Chicago team that night.
Brent is starting to get a little fed up. It looks like they’re not getting fired, which is cool, or even benched for longer than their med leave requires. His throat hurts, and all he really wants to do is eat a giant bowl of cereal, take a long shower, and get into bed with his partner. In that order.
He and Duncan exchange a long, speaking look.
“Hey,” says Duncs over the uproar. Everyone quiets down.
“We got ‘em, eh? Mission fucking accomplished.”
There is a stunned moment of silence. Then Sharpy starts to laugh, and Q joins in. Pretty soon the whole room is in stitches, and by the time Agent Serious cracks a grin, the meeting is definitely adjourned due to hysterics.
When Duncan and Brent get home, they’re still giggling a little. Duncs has to lean against Brent’s shoulder for support as he gets the key out of his pocket, his breath coming in little hitches as he tries to keep the laughter in.
But once the front door is locked behind them and they’re sitting on the couch with their froot loops, Duncs gets a serious look on his face.
“OK?” he asks Brent.
“Yeah,” Brent sighs. “I’m just. I’m really fucking sorry.”
“We’re cool,” says Dunc, bumping his shoulder into Brent’s.
“I know,” says Brent, bumping back. He snorts. “Mission fucking accomplished.”
And they’re off again, laughing like a pair of idiots in love. Which, actually, Brent guesses that they are.