He left in the middle of the night, silent so as not to wake Benji. Sliding his arm out from under the younger man’s neck, Brandt watched him shift him his sleep before letting out a content sigh and settling down again. He wished he could stay; wished he could curl back up with him and watch the way his chest would rise and fall and the way his eyelids would twitch as he slept. He wished he could just lie back down and wake up the following morning with Benji wrapped in his arms. But he had to go.
They had made love that night and as they lay in each other’s arms afterwards, Benji had sensed that something was wrong. When he asked, Brandt didn’t know what to say; he couldn’t tell him that it would be the last chance they would have to do this for potentially a long time so instead, he simply kissed Benji’s forehead and told him to sleep.
Getting dressed as quietly as he could, Brandt grabbed his already packed bags from the closet before placing the note he had written on his still warm pillow. With one last glance at his sleeping lover, he turned and left the apartment without looking back.
When Benji woke up, he rolled onto his side expecting to see Brandt, not a small, folded up piece of paper with his name scrawled in familiar handwriting. A little confused, he opened the note and read it, slightly apprehensive as to what it would say.
I’m so sorry, but I’m afraid that I will have to leave. I don’t know how long I will be gone. I wish I could stay, but it is far too dangerous and I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you because of me.
If you will wait, I promise you that I will come back for you.
Half an hour later, Benji was standing in the rain on Ethan’s doorstep, clutching the note in his hand. While the team leader made coffee, Benji sat in front of the fire, wrapped in a blanket as he dried off, reading Brandt’s letter over and over. Almost as if his words were a cryptic message for Benji to figure out. He dealt with various codes in his line of work, but this was one that he could not decipher. Then again, maybe it really was just that simple. Brandt had left.
He decided that instead of reading the first lines repeatedly, trying to figure out why and where he had gone, he would concentrate on Brandt’s last point.
“I promise that I will come back for you.”
Until Brandt came back, he would just have to hold onto that promise.
He spent a week at Ethan’s house and on the seventh night, he decided to go back to his and Brandt’s apartment. It was far too quiet as he stepped inside, the silence taunting Benji with the reality that he was now alone. He let himself collapse onto the sofa, turning on the television to avoid thinking about where Brandt could have been. Reaching for the remote, his hands found the two plane tickets to Mombasa that Brandt had surprised him with for their anniversary the following week. Clenching his teeth together, he stood and placed the tickets at the bottom of the kitchen drawer before heading to bed. He figured that if this had been just an ordinary break up, then he would have been over it by now. But this felt different. Brandt mentioned danger in his note – they dealt with danger on a regular basis, so why now did it become an issue?
Shaking the thought from his head, he flopped down onto the bed, not bothering to change from his jeans and t-shirt as he let sleep claim him.
Benji was just beginning to stir at some unearthly hour when he heard the lock to the front door turn. Initially, his heart stopped and he instinctively slid his hand over to the bedside cabinet where he knew his gun was, however he soon realised that Brandt was the only one with a key. Placing his hand back on the bed, Benji smiled sleepily as he let himself relax. Brandt had promised he would come back for him.
Unfortunately, he didn’t notice that there were more than one lot of footsteps and by the time he did, it was too late.
Brandt got Ethan’s message the following day and when he called back he felt sick as the older agent read him the note that had been left in his and Benji’s apartment. The note explaining that if Brandt did not turn himself over, Benji would be killed.
His heart broke at this revelation; he had left specifically so that Benji would be safe from these men, yet they had still managed to find him. Ethan tried to protest, saying that they would find another way to save them both, but Brandt merely hung up. He didn’t care if these men killed him; it was him they were after and he would go to the ends of the earth to prevent Benji from becoming collateral damage. He grabbed what he needed and left his safehouse; he knew exactly where he would find the men and Benji.
When Brandt arrived at the building, the room was empty apart from a motionless figure lying on the ground. He knew straight away who it was. Stepping closer, his suspicions were confirmed and he picked up the pace, rushing to Benji’s side. His arms were pulled roughly behind his back and his was also gagged and blindfolded. Other than a small bruise forming on his cheek, he seemed unharmed.
Something suddenly hit him in between the shoulder blades and he stumbled, feeling intrusive hands grab his gun. A voice told him to stand and when he did so, he found himself staring down the barrels of two guns, with a third jammed into the back of his skull. Words passed between captors and captive, but Brandt’s mind was preoccupied with the sheer need to get Benji out of there. He demanded that Benji be released, but when one of the men told another to kill the Brit, Brandt’s head became engulfed with rage.
He couldn’t really tell what was happening, as everything seemed to blur, but Brandt vaguely remembered disarming the man behind him. When the gunfire started, he hoped that Benji was still unconscious as he fired his weapon. Managing to take down all three men, he quickly moved to scoop the younger man into his arms, however he was suddenly hit by blinding pain, which was accompanied by a resounding gunshot. The bullet tore through his side and he stumbled, dropping Benji as he fell. Spinning, he saw the shooter raising his gun again, but the analyst didn’t hesitate in putting his own bullet through the man’s skull.
Consciousness soon began to disappear and he glanced across at Benji once more, hoping that he would be able to see him properly one last time, however the tech remained unresponsive. As he slipped away, he thought he heard shouting, but at that moment he was just glad that he had been able to save Benji before anything happened to him.
When Brandt opened his eyes again, he found himself to still be lying horizontal, but it didn’t feel like the concrete he’d passed out on; this time, he felt safe and warm. These feelings were only intensified when he saw a familiar figure standing over him. Brandt studied the younger man, noting that the bruise on his cheek was more prominent now. He could see the bruises around his wrists from where they had been bound but the worst part was slightly further up his arms. On the inside of Benji’s right elbow were several puncture marks; his heart sank at the thought of them giving Benji drugs. His life would be destroyed because of Brandt. When Benji saw that he was awake, his mouth curved up into one of his beautiful, soft smiles and before Brandt could utter a word, the Brit bent down and captured his lips. The kiss was tender, but the emotions that went with it were very clear. When Benji pulled back, he rested his forehead against Brandt’s and the pair closed their eyes while they just breathed.
“Hey.” Brandt said, his voice groggy.
“Hey yourself.” Benji replied with a small laugh. A slight glistening on the younger agent’s cheek caught Brandt’s eye and he gently touched it, wiping away the fallen tear. “I thought I’d lost you.” Benji started, his voice wavering. “Twice.”
“I’m so sorry, Benji.” Brandt practically kissed the words into Benji’s cheeks, catching any more potential tears. “I never meant for you to get caught up in this. That’s why I left in the first place.”
“I understand, Will.” Benji whispered. “But you are my partner. I care about you and I take the good and bad that comes with you. If you have any problems, please talk to me about it. We’ll work through it together.”
Brandt nodded and Benji gave him another kiss before perching himself on the side of the bed. “Benji?” Brandt spoke cautiously, feeling like the next question left him on a razor’s edge. “Your arm… They didn’t…”
“No.” Benji replied, rubbing a hand over the small dots on his skin. “They kept me drugged the whole time, but the doctor said there’s no other substances in my body besides what’s left of the sedative.” Brandt felt relief wash over him and smiled. Benji was right. He shouldn’t have left, thinking that it would make things better – he had left Benji alone and vulnerable, making it much easier for the men to grab him. He should have stayed; at least then he would have been able to stop them from taking Benji in the first place. But they were both safe now and that was what counted.
“Hey.” Brandt said with a smile. “Come here.” Once Benji was close enough, he grabbed the tech’s neck and pulled him down for another kiss.