Brandt had never really liked silence. It caused his mind to run at one hundred miles an hour and it gave him far too much time to reflect. To think back on all the things that had gone wrong, all the mistakes he had made and all the failures he had experienced. In William Brandt's opinion, whoever said that 'silence is golden' was a downright liar.
Yet here he was, perched on the edge of the sofa in their apartment wearing his sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt. Ethan and Jane were out at the moment, much to his relief. He clutched a beer bottle in his left hand like it was his lifeline and ran his right hand through his scruffy hair. It was quite late and the only sounds were the cars from the streets below. The streetlights shone through the gaps in the blinds and cast an eerie glow across the room as Brandt sat there, a captive of the silence he disliked so much.
As he concentrated on the sound of his own breathing, he heard footsteps getting closer. He didn't need to look up to find out who it was; he already knew.
"Hey Brandt." The English accent virtually echoed around the room, hitting Brandt's ears from every angle and sending a chill down the analyst's spine.
"What are you doing here?" Brandt still refused to look up.
"Well, I just wanted to see how you're doing. After, you know…" Brandt knew exactly what Benji meant and immediately felt his stomach turn at the memory.
"How the fuck do you think I'm doing?" Brandt finally turned to his friend and was instantly horrified by how he looked. His skin looked so ghastly and his eyes seemed sad; yet at the same time, also appeared to be void of all emotion. He had lost some weight since Brandt had last saw him – not that he needed to – and his features were tired they made him look far older than he really was. Benji's eyes dropped to the ground and his shoulders sagged slightly.
"Do you blame me?" Benji asked, his voice displaying levels of vulnerability that scared Brandt.
"Blame you? For what?"
"For what happened."
Brandt felt a lump rise in his throat at these words. He couldn't let Benji go on for another second believing that Brandt blamed him. "Oh, god no, Benji. I could never blame you. It wasn't your fault."
Benji nodded. "How's the arm?" The tech pointed to Brandt's right bicep which had taken a bullet while the team had been trying to stop Callaghan's men from taking Benji.
"Getting there." Brandt replied. "The doctor said I was lucky it was a through-and-through."
"Brandt, can I ask you something?" Benji enquired and when the analyst nodded, he went on. "When you found me… what was-"
"No." Brandt cut him off abruptly, looking away from the younger agent. "Don't. Please don't ask me that. I don't want to relive that moment, ok? I just can't. Not right now."
Silence fell again as Benji didn't probe further.
After taking a few moments to recompose himself, he looked back up only to be taken over by a sinking feeling at the empty space before him. Part of him felt relieved that Benji had left before he finished his question. Brandt didn't want to revisit the moment when he found Benji's body in the alleyway where his kidnappers had dumped him. He couldn't bear to re-experience the way Benji's blood felt, oozing through his fingers as he tried to apply pressure to the gunshot wound, despite knowing that he was already lost. He wasn't ready to go back and see the way the body bag zipped up and his Benji's face from them.
He didn't want to, yet he did. Every single night.
He would wake up in a cold sweat at some unearthly hour, having found himself back in the alleyway. Having found his best friend lying brutally murdered all over again. He was sure it would get easier with time, but for now, he would remain in the silence.