A shrill ringing woke Brandt from his deep sleep and he uttered countless obscenities under his breath when he saw that the clock read 1am. It took him a few moments to pull his thoughts together – well, the actual thoughts that weren't simply made up of anger-induced profanities – and realise that the sound was his mobile phone. He groaned and pulled the sheet over his face as his arm flew out and grappled for the evil device. He finally found it and answered, pressing the phone to his ear without checking the name; whoever it was, they were about to get a piece of his mind. Before he could even open his mouth, however, a voice drifted through the earpiece.
The analyst sat up straight in bed. The tone of his friend's voice was so completely wrong that he instantly felt his heart start to race. "Benji? What's wrong?"
"I…" Never before had Brandt head the younger agent sound so vulnerable. "It hurts…"
"Oh god, Benji…" What hurt? What was going on? Brandt ran a hand through his hair as his mind ticked over far too fast, creating various horrifying image of what could have caused Benji to say this. "Where are you?"
"I don't know…"
"Alright, alright…" Brandt tried to control his breathing. "Stay on the line, I'm not going anywhere."
"You promise?" The softness of Benji's voice terrified Brandt and broke his heart at the same time.
"I promise." Brandt held the mobile in one hand while dialling IMF on the landing with the other. He called up the only person he knew would be able to help without alerting anyone. "Yusuf, it's Brandt."
"Will? What are you doing up at this hour? I thought you had time off."
"I do. Look I need a huge favour."
"Sure, what's up?"
"I need you to track Benji's cell phone for me."
"Benji's cell?" Yusuf sounded immediately concerned. "Is he ok?"
"I'm not sure, but I need you to find him so I can see if he is." Brandt heard typing in the background; he was relieved that their friend had been on a night shift.
"Leave it with me. I've almost got him and I'll send you the location."
"Great. Thanks Yusuf."
"Keep me posted." The line went dead and Brandt brought the other phone back to his ear.
"Benji?" His voice was met with silence from the other end of the phone, causing him to feel sick with worry. "Benji!" he yelled and fortunately he was rewarded with the sound of a soft groan.
"Hmm?" Benji's voice sounded so incredibly weak.
"Benj, what the hell happened?" Brandt grabbed his jacket and shoes, deciding to not change his sweatpants to save time.
"I'm not really sure." Benji's voice wavered as he spoke.
"Well, what do you remember?" Judging from his friend's voice, Brandt feared that Benji was close to losing consciousness. He needed to keep him awake until he could get there and see what was actually wrong with him.
"Uh… I was having a drink… I was talking to this bloke… We were talking about football."
"Ok, then what happened?"
"I think… I started to feel sick. I was getting dizzy so I decided to head home." As Benji spoke, things seemed to be coming back to him more and more. "I said goodbye and left… I remember walking down the street and then…"
"Then what, Benji?" Brandt was really starting to worry. He knew Benji could hold his alcohol well; better than any of the others. So he must have drank I lot to feel that ill.
"I nearly fell down… I thought I'd maybe drank too much, but I'd only had two pints. I stopped to catch my breath and…" Benji paused, the silence almost making Brandt worry Benji had passed out. "The guy from the bar was there."
Before Brandt could hear any more, his phone beeped in his ear and looking at the screen showed that Yusuf had sent him Benji's location. "Hold on a second, Benji." Brandt entered the address into his phone's GPS and was confused to see that Benji appeared to by stationary in a small alleyway. Grabbing his car keys, he brought the phone back to his ear. "Benji, I know where you are. Just stay there and I'm coming to get you, ok?"
"Kay…" Brandt really didn't want to hang up on Benji; he was worried of what would happen once he ended the call. But he needed to concentrate in order to get there quickly. Before he knew it, he was getting into his car and turning on the engine. Speeding to his friend's location, he drove towards the small dot on his phone and soon found himself pulling up at the end of the alleyway. Bolting out of his car, he made his way into the small passage.
"Benji?" He kept his voice quiet enough to not disturb other people, yet loud enough so that Benji would hear him.
"Brandt…" The weak reply was all he needed and he circled a dumpster to find Benji sitting on the cold, damp ground. His appearance horrified the analyst; Brandt immediately understood what Benji had meant when he said "It hurts". To him, it looked like everything hurt. His left eye was swollen shut with a large bruise forming; it looked suspiciously like the size of a fist. His nose and lip were bleeding and he had blood running down the side of his face near his ear. Even with his right eye open, it looked like the tech still had trouble seeing Brandt crouching down next to him.
"Benji, god, who did this to you?" Brandt asked, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Was it the man from the bar?"
"I think…" Benji swallowed, each word seeming to scratch against his throat. "I think so." Brandt tried to help the younger man to his feet, however when he couldn't quite manage it, the pair remained on the floor.
"Ok, we can stay here for a minute, just… just tell me what happened."
"Well, the man from the bar appeared and asked if I was ok. I told him I was fine and tried to brush him away, but he grabbed onto my arm. I tried to shake him off but I was really dizzy…" Benji had both his eyes shut now as he spoke. "I couldn't see very well, but I'm pretty sure some other guys were there too. They grabbed me and I tried to fight them…" The Brit looked down at his marked knuckles. "I think I got one of them in the face…"
"What happened next?"
"I don't remember… I think I blacked out. I'm not sure why, they didn't hit me. That guy must have put something in my beer cos the next thing I knew I was…"
"You were what?" Brandt pried. He knew deep down that Benji probably didn't want to be retelling whatever he went through, but he needed to know what these bastards did to him.
"I was somewhere else… I don't know where though… Some room…"
"What can you remember about the room, Benji?"
"Uh… I remember the sound of chains…" Benji spoke quietly and it was then that Brandt noticed the light bruising around both of Benji's wrists.
Sick fuckers must have tied him up. He thought, involuntarily clenching his fists.
"It's all really hazy, Brandt. I really don't remember much… except pain." Benji's voice was, for the most part, monotonous, yet it hitched on the last two words. "After that, I woke up here…" Brandt could feel the fury rising up inside of him. These men had not only drugged and snatched Benji from the street, they had then beaten him up and merely dumped him in a deserted alleyway. He wanted nothing more than to hunt these monsters down and make each of them pay; he was sure that Ethan and Jane would have no issue with that once they found out what these men had done to Benji. In fact, he had a suspicion they may want in on it too. But right now, the most important thing was getting Benji checked out. Other than the obvious beatings on his face, he had no idea what Benji had endured at their hands.
"Alright, Benji, do you think you can stand?" Brandt noticed the tech give a weak nod before helping him to his feet. Slinging one of Benji's arms over his shoulders, he slowly made his way back to the car and helped his friend inside. By the time Brandt had settled himself into the driver's seat, Benji had already lost consciousness. The analyst swallowed nervously and immediately set off for the hospital. He called Ethan and Jane on the way, telling them to meet him there and the second he pulled up outside the doors, he was out of the car. Fortunately, Benji had woken up as Brandt opened his door so the older agent helped him out and walked him through the entrance. When Ethan and Jane arrived, Benji was with the doctor, leaving Brandt to merely wait.
"Mind telling us what the hell is going on?" Ethan skipped the greetings and cut right to the chase.
"Benji called me. He didn't know where he was or how he got there and when I found him, he was beaten up pretty bad. Whoever did this really went to town."
"Do you know who it was?" Jane asked.
"No." Brandt shook his head. "At first I wondered if it had been some street thugs, but these guys didn't rob him and they went to the effort of drugging him first… They even took him somewhere else to hurt him."
"Does he remember if they said anything to him?" Ethan asked, worried that Benji's attackers had been after information. Brandt shrugged his shoulders unknowingly.
"I don't think so. At least not right now. Whatever they used on him seems to have kept him on the verge of unconsciousness the entire time. Let's hope that means he wasn't able to tell them anything." The other agents nodded and began to wait once more.
When the doctor finally emerged, they waited patiently for him to explain how bad the damage was. Fortunately, other than a concussion and bruised ribs, Benji's injuries were merely cosmetic. Maybe Brandt had been right and Benji had been too incoherent to answer any of their questions. The doctor had then led the trio in to see their friend. Brandt felt relieved to see that Benji looked far better than when he had last seen him. The blood had been cleaned and his wounds dressed, yet he still looked tired. The doctor stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on Benji's shoulder.
"Mr Dunn, it would be recommended that you get some rest. Would you like a sedative to help you sleep?" The others felt their hearts break as the tech's eyes went wide and he shook his head. Clearly he wasn't ready for any form of narcotics; not yet. "Alright, well you just need to sleep as best you can." Benji nodded, visibly glad the doctor hadn't forced him to take anything. They watched him settle down in the bed, the tech throwing Brandt a glance as he did. He didn't need to say anything for the other agent to see that he was grateful. They waited until his eyes were closed and the doctor had left before turning to one another.
"So." Jane spoke first. "What are we gonna do?"
When Benji finally opened his eyes, he saw three blurred figures standing at the end of his bed. His immediate response was to tense up, fearing that his attackers had returned for him, however after a few seconds he realised that he knew them.
"Hey, Benji." Despite his vision remaining fuzzy, he recognised the voice to be Ethan.
"How are you feeling?" That was definitely Jane.
"Uh…" The Brit pushed himself up in bed and blinked a few times before his friends came into view. "Better, I guess…" He watched Brandt pull up a chair and sit next to the bed. "Have you guys been here the whole time?"
"Pretty much." Jane replied, smiling softly.
"Thanks…" Benji whispered.
"The doctor says you're on the mend." Brandt offered. "You'll be out of here in no time."
"And what about the guys who did it?" Benji asked. "They're just gonna be out there. Someone else might get hurt." Ethan shook his head gently.
"No, last I heard, the police had a lead on where they are. I think they're gonna get what's coming to them." Benji sighed with relief at Ethan's words and slid back onto the bed with a weak smile.
The others looked at each other knowingly. They knew it was wrong to lie to their friend, but they didn't want to tell Benji about them stealing the security footage from the bar. They couldn't let him know how they tracked down each one of the men quickly and efficiently. Nor did they want to tell him about the beatings they gave the men in return for what they did to Benji, before dumping them in the middle of nowhere. They decided that they would keep it all a secret.
Because some things were better kept that way.