"Brandt. It's Ethan. I need you to meet me at the hospital."
Brandt took a sharp intake of breath at his teammate's words. "What is it?"
"It's Benji." Ethan didn't have to say another word, as Brandt had already hung up the phone and was grabbing his jacket as he bolted for the front door. He had no idea what had happened to Benji for him to wind up in the hospital, but from the way Ethan spoke on the phone, his unsettling stomach knew it wasn't good. What worried him more was the fact that they were not on a mission at that moment. As far as he was aware, Benji was spending his break at home, resting up. What could have happened to him while he was safe at home?
The analyst pulled up into the hospital car park and ran inside, seeing Ethan and Jane standing in the foyer. He saw that the former's clothes were coated in red; he tried to avert his gaze from them.
"What happened?" he asked, his eyes flicking between his two friends.
"Benji was shot." Ethan spoke with a wavering voice, his eyes blinking rapidly.
"Shot? But how? Who did it?" Brandt had so many questions that needed answering yet he wasn't sure if he wanted to know the answers.
"His neighbour called me. She heard a loud bang and when she went to check on him, she found him just..." Ethan trailed off, images returning that he did not wish to see. Brandt saw that his colleague didn't want to continue so he nodded and quickly spoke again.
"Do we have any idea who did it?"
Ethan shook his head. "When I got to the apartment, there was no signs of a break in. His safe was untouched and his wallet was in his jacket pocket. Whoever it was, they didn't wanna rob him." He paused, taking a deep, shaky breath. "It almost seems like-"
"A personal attack." Jane spoke up for the first time since Brandt arrived and this made the analyst sick to the stomach.
"So where is he now?"
"Still in surgery. Doctor said they don't know if he's gonna..." Ethan took a moment to recompose himself and, assuming that Brandt knew what he was getting at, moved on. "They said they'd keep us updated." The analyst nodded and silence fell over them. None of them had any clue where to start with this. They knew of no one who would have a grudge against Benji. He was one of the nicest people they knew. Why would someone want to harm him? Could it be someone with something against one of them? Had someone gone out of their way to hurt Benji as a way of getting back at Ethan or Brandt or Jane? But even then, the attacker could have chosen any of the others; why Benji? Was he easiest to get access to? Brandt rubbed his hands over his eyes and sat down in a nearby chair.
And now we wait.
Seconds turned into minutes. Minutes turned into hours. The trio had lost track of how long they had been sitting there for as they awaited news. A few times, they had watched doctors rush through the theatre doors, shouting medical terms that the agents didn't quite understand, however they knew it wasn't good. They had tried to ask what was going on but no one would stop to tell them. Sure, if they had been told that something bad had happened they would have felt sick, but the fact that they had no idea what was happening made them feel worse.
Brandt had glanced at Ethan a few times during their wait, noting the expression on his face. It was obvious that he was worried about Benji – the analyst couldn't even begin to imagine what Ethan would have seen when he entered their friend's apartment. Yet, as Brandt watched the older man's face, there seemed to be something else there; something else that was playing on his mind. He wanted to ask Ethan what else was bothering him but decided that it could wait until they had received news on Benji.
Ethan stared at the wall opposite him, trying to will away the image of Benji's limp body lying in a pool of his own blood. Despite everything having seemed like a blur, now as they adrenaline wore off, he remembered everything.
"Hello, is that…" the voice paused. "Mr Hunt?"
"Yes…" Ethan replied, noting the panic in the female's voice. She sounded in her fifties or sixties. "Who is this?"
"M-my name is Irene. I live next to Benjamin Dunn."
"Oh?" Ethan was curious as to why Benji's neighbour was calling him. "How can I help you, Irene?"
"Uh… you need to come over right now, please. It's Benjamin."
Ethan's heart felt like it stopped briefly as he sat bolt upright in his chair. "What is it? Is he ok?"
"I-I don't know…" Irene's voice wavered and she sounded close to tears. "There's just so much blood."
"Shit…" Ethan whispered, standing quickly. "Ok, I'm coming right over. Can you stay with him?"
"Ok, can you see where the blood is coming from?"
"Um." There was a pause as she searched. "Yes, it's near his waist."
"Alright, I need you to get as many towels as you can and put pressure on it. Have you called an ambulance?"
"Not yet." Ethan's eyes widened at this, wondering why that hadn't been the first thing she had done. "Benjamin told me when he first moved in, if there was ever an emergency, I should call you before anyone else."
Ethan understood his reasoning for this. If anyone were to find out who he was, then it could mean serious trouble for IMF and even more so for Benji. "Ok, good. Thank you Irene. Call one now and I'll be right there."
Ethan remembered grabbing his jacket before practically sprinting out of his front door and down the driveway. The trip to Benji's apartment seemed to take several times longer than the usual ten minute trip, as every second set of traffic lights was against him. When he finally had reached Benji's apartment block, he ran just as fast to reach his friend.
Jogging along the corridor of the fourth floor, Ethan felt ill, hoping that it was just some kind of sick joke. His heart pounded painfully against his ribs, which were still bruised from their last mission, and his breathing was overly rapid. Swallowing as he reached the open door, he rushed inside.
"In here, Mr Hunt!" He followed her voice to the bedroom and was quickly greeted by a sickening sight. Benji lay half on, half off his bed, sprawled on his back with his legs hanging over the edge. One arm was by his side while the other was bent up next to his head. As Irene had described on the phone, the amount of blood was horrifying. It had formed a large red patch on the white sheets underneath his body and there was a small pile of soaked through towels nearby. Irene was kneeling next to him pressing the newest towel into his side as Ethan entered the room. Rushing to the bed, he climbed on and placed a hand to Benji's neck. He felt a very weak pulse, causing his heart to pound more in his ears.
"Irene, tell me what happened."
"I, uh, well I was just watching TV. I heard this horribly loud bang come from next-door. At first I thought he'd just dropped something, but then I could hear him shouting." Ethan placed his hands on the towel as a signal that she could let go. Her hands shook as she lifted them from the wound.
"What happened next?"
"I went out into the hallway and knocked on his door to see if he was ok. But then I heard him crying out for help. I grabbed his spare key from my cupboard and came inside. That's when I found him…"
"Was he conscious when you found him?"
Irene nodded. "He passed out only moments before I called you."
Ethan tried his best to force a weak, reassuring smile. "You did great Irene. Are the paramedics on thei-" He was cut off by the sound of sirens getting closer and let out a sigh of relief. Looking down, he lifted Benji's upper body into his lap, keeping the pressure on the wound. "Stay with us Benj. Help's coming." He glanced up to Irene again to see her holding something out to him. "What's that?"
"It was next to Benjamin when I arrived." She handed him the piece of blood splattered paper. As he took it, the door burst open and two paramedics entered, pushing Ethan and Irene aside. Once they had Benji on the stretcher, Ethan glanced down at the paper.
He knew what they had to do.
It was 2am before any news came.
The team had been moved into the family room and when they saw a doctor entering, they stood up immediately. The grave expression on his face, however, made their legs want to give out.
"Doc?" Brandt spoke, willing the doctor to give them the news they may not want to hear.
"The surgery was very touch and go. The bullet was a through-and-through, hitting his kidney. Fortunately we could tend to the damage there. He also lost a lot of blood so we had to give him a transfusion."
"Is he ok?" Jane asked, unconsciously gripping the back of Ethan's jacket.
The doctor gave a sigh. "He is alive, but I'm afraid he has fallen into a coma." Never before had any agent felt such a mixture of emotions. The first three words had brought an overwhelming sense of relief, yet the latter part of the doctor's sentence caused their hearts to be crushed. None of them could remember words ever giving them so much heartache. "I know that this is a lot to take in and please know that we are going to try our hardest to make sure he pulls through, but right now, you need to remember that Benjamin is exceptionally lucky to be alive. I don't wish to cause you more shock when I say this, but Mr Dunn died twice on the operating table. Despite his current situation, he is fortunate. We don't know how things will go from here on, however considering the circumstances, I'm sorry to advise you not to get your hopes up."
The doctor's words hit them like a truck.
They had lost Benji twice. The reality of how close they had come to losing him permanently began to set in and Jane had to sit back down. Now, they still had a chance of him dying. They didn't want to imagine their lives without him; the team wouldn't be the same. Jane looked down at her hands and had to jam them between her knees to stop them shaking. No matter what, she wanted to see whoever did this to Benji pay. She remembered what Ethan had told her after she killed Moreau.
"We can't get them back."
Revenge on Benji's shooter would not make their friend recover faster, nor would it undo what had happened. But whoever they were, they damn well deserved it.
"Doctor, can we have a few moments alone, please?" Ethan's voice almost made Jane jump as it broke the silence.
"Of course." They watched the doctor leave and once the door was shut, Ethan turned to his remaining teammates.
"Please tell me we're gonna find this son of a bitch." Brandt gave voice to Jane's thoughts and both agents watched their leader pull a piece of paper from his pocket. The sight of bloodied fingerprints on it made them sick, but they waited for Ethan to speak.
"This was found next to Benji after he was shot. I think it might be our first lead on who did this." Handing it to Brandt, he and Jane read the scrawled handwriting.
"This one is for you Andrew.
What you took from me, I now take from you."
Jane looked up. "Andrew?"
"Andrew Dunn. Benji's father." Ethan explained. "Now let's go talk to him and find out who would want revenge on him."
The sun was setting over Somerset and the warm summer breeze whipped around Andrew's ankles. On evenings like these, he liked to just sit in the garden and reflect on things. Tonight, he found himself thinking far back into the past; this was because it would soon be his only son's birthday.
Andrew looked back to the winter of 1970. He had been studying law and worked at a local bar to help fund his way through college. One night, a young woman had been getting harassed by one of the drunken patrons and although Andrew ended up with a broken hand, he also found himself with a new girlfriend. In the spring of 1974, Andrew married Karen Riley and the summer of 1975 saw them welcome their first and only child. Unfortunately, when Benjamin was 6, the pair separated and divorced a few years later. Upon the divorce, Andrew had moved to further his career in America.
He kept contact with his son and heard that Karen had been killed in a traffic collision while Benjamin was studying at Oxford; a few years after that, the boy came to the US for work. Andrew had never known why his son had travelled all that way just to work as an IT assistant, but he liked living so close to him again.
Time went by and soon, Andrew chose to retire. He planned to move back to England in his retirement and hoped that Benjamin would go with him.
"Come on, son. What do you think?"
"It sounds great, dad, but I think I'm gonna stay."
"But why?" Andrew asked, persistently. "All your family and friends are back there." Benjamin shrugged away the hand from his shoulder.
"I have friends here." His voice was firm.
"Bu-but think of all the job opportunities back home, Benjamin. I mean, you have so much potential…"
"I like what I'm doing here, dad." The younger Dunn turned away.
"So you just want to spend the rest of your life wasting your talents stuck in some… some deadend job as an IT assistant?" The words came out of his mouth before he could stop them and his son froze.
"Benjamin, I didn't…"
"No, dad, I always figured you didn't really approve of my career choice, but I never thought you'd stoop so low as to say something like that."
"Please, Ben, I don't-"
"I've always known you were disappointed that I didn't wanna be a lawyer like you. That I wanted to spend my time dealing with technology rather than stopping the bad guys, but guess what, dad. My job is worth so much more than what you think."
After that, the pair simply stopped talking. Andrew knew that he had hurt his son and deep down, he knew that Benjamin's words were somewhat true. But he didn't realise why his father had said them. Andrew had gone to find his son on his way to the airport, hoping to make amends, but was told that he was on vacation.
So he left.
Part of him really regretted not making a great effort to reconcile with his son, but he knew how stubborn Benjamin could be. He'd lost track of how long it had been since they last spoke. As he sat, skimming through photographs from when Benjamin was little, his phone rang. Placing the album on his lap, he reached out for the handset.
"Hi, is this Andrew Dunn?"
"Sir, my name is Ethan. I work with your son." Andrew sat up in his chair and involuntarily gripped the phone tighter.
"Yes, I'm afraid I'm calling with some bad news. Benjamin is in the hospital."
"The hospital?" Andrew's stomach flipped. "Why? What happened?"
"Well, if it's all the same to you, sir, I'd rather we discuss this in person." Ethan paused. "The situation is quite complicated."
"I'll be on the first flight over."
"Ok, I'll send the hospital location to your phone."
"Thank you." Andrew hung up and glanced to the album in his lap. The photograph in front of him showed a two year old Benjamin holding a phone to his ear. Andrew touched the image tenderly as a tear formed in his eye before closing the book and running inside.
Ethan and Brandt stood outside the hospital waiting for Andrew to arrive. Both were nervous to meet a man of his standing. After researching him, Brandt found out that Andrew Dunn was once one of America's most esteemed criminal lawyers, working numerous big cases and putting many dangerous people in prison. They figured that would be a good place to start in their search for the shooter.
After waiting ten more minutes, a Mercedes pulled up and the driver stepped out. When the back door was opened, a man in his early sixties got out. He wore a dark blue jumper – the small, embroided logo looked like that of a golf club or the like – with the collar of a white shirt folded over the neckline. He had beige trousers on and a pair of shiny brown dress shoes. It was clear that the man had money. His eyes were a blue-grey colour and he had greying hair which evidently used to be blonde, much like Benji's.
"Mr Dunn?" Ethan held out his hand. "My name is Ethan, we spoke on the phone." Andrew shook his hand and glanced to Brandt. "This is William. He also works with Benji." Brandt extended his own hand and Andrew took it with a nod.
"Can you tell me what happened to my son?"
Ethan nodded. "Of course. Let's grab a coffee."
Once the trio were seated, Ethan took in a deep breath. He had no idea how to explain this to him.
"Mr Dunn, I'm afraid that Benji-uh, Benjamin was shot." He heard Andrew's sharp intake of breath, but kept going. He couldn't stop now or he would never finish. "The surgeons have managed to repair the damage but we've been informed that he has now fallen into a coma." The two agents watched as Andrew's face began to crumble slightly, but the older man retained his composure. His eyes glazed over with what looked like tears he was fighting and his jaw dropped slightly. They knew that this was a lot to take in, but for someone like him – lawyers have remarkable poker faces – to be showing such emotion, it made Brandt feel a lump in his throat.
"Where did it happen? How?" Andrew just made out those words as he tried to force away the cries that wanted to escape.
"We believe that someone ambushed him in his apartment." Brandt explained. "His neighbour heard the shot and found him."
"Do you have any idea who did this?"
"Well, Mr Dunn, we were hoping that you could tell us that." Ethan placed the note on the table. "This was found next to him."
Andrew looked at the note, immediately seeing the fingerprints marked in blood. His son's blood. Carefully pulling the paper towards him, he read the note.
"Oh my word…" he whispered.
"Mr Dunn, we believe that this could be someone related to your past. Maybe someone who wanted revenge for one of your old cases." Brandt suggested.
"Is there anyone you can think of who would want to do this?" Ethan asked, his voice soft and kind.
"I can't think of anyone…" Andrew paused. "I'll try. I need to find out who did this." He spoke with such determination. "Can you take me to my son?" Ethan nodded and the three men made their way down the corridor.
Sorry this update has taken so long to update, but I hope this chapter is worth the wait.
"One of our other colleagues is in there with him." Brandt warned as they approached the correct door, not wanting Andrew to worry when he saw Jane. As they entered, they sensed Andrew's body tense up. They didn't blame him, having had the same reaction upon seeing Benji themselves – unconscious and hooked up to numerous machines. They introduced him to Jane and then let him sit down next to his son. Silent tears fell down his cheeks as he took Benji's hand. After a long bout of silence, Andrew spoke up.
"My son isn't an IT assistant, is he?" The others froze at this. What could they say to that?
"What makes you say that?" Jane asked.
"I'm a lawyer, Ms Carter. I know how to read people. Besides, why are you following up on this note and not the police?" Andrew paused and managed to tear his gaze from his son's motionless body. "Are you the police?"
"Not exactly." Brandt replied.
"We work for the government." Ethan spoke up next. It was half true… "I'm afraid we can't say more than that."
"But we want to find out who did this to him." Jane added.
"I see." Andrew turned back and placed a hand on Benji's forehead. "Is he happy? Living here, working here?"
"Yes, sir." Brandt replied, hoping it would give the man some comfort.
"I've not seen or heard from him in so long. Nothing since I retired."
"Mr Dunn, I hope I'm not being intrusive, but why did you retire?" Ethan asked, warily. "You seem quite young for retirement."
Andrew let out a small, breathy laugh. "Yeah. I had hoped to still be working now; but there was this incident a few years back. I was about to take on a very big case, the biggest case of my career, but my men caught wind of something. Some plans being orchestrated by the person I was going up against. They were planning on abducting Benjamin as a way to make me bend the case in their favour." He saw the shocked expressions on their faces and continued. "I didn't want to risk my son's life so I threw it all away and announced my retirement immediately. I then decided to move back to England and tried to get him to come with me. I wanted him to be safe. But he wanted to stay. I may have said some harsh things to him, but I just…"
"You wanted to protect him." Jane finished his sentence and Andrew nodded.
"Did you ever tell Benji about the kidnapping plans?" Ethan asked.
"No. I didn't want him to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. I didn't want him to ever feel like he was in danger." The trio didn't want to think about the fact that Andrew had no idea of the dangers Benji had faced since working for IMF. None of them knew what to say. Ethan remembered Benji telling him about what happened with his father. He had been terribly upset but had never known the truth. He only hoped that Benji would wake up so that they pair could talk about it and rebuild these broken bridges.
The group sat in silence for what felt like hours. No one was able to think of the right words to say as they waited for Andrew to think of who would want to do this. Ethan watched the older man, taking in the way his eyes never left his son's face. The agent was certain he could see lines of worry appearing on his brow as he sat there in silence. He couldn't tell what exactly was going through his mind, but judging from the look on Andrew's face, it was clear that his mind was working at frantic speeds as he tried to figure it all out. With one hand still clutching Benji's, Andrew brought the other up to pinch the bridge of his nose before wiping away a fallen tear. Ethan couldn't begin to imagine what he was going through at that moment. To him, Benji was one of his closest friends, who'd helped him through thick and thin; the thought of losing him was hard to grasp. But Andrew was now facing the loss of his only son. The sheer level of that pain was too much for Ethan to even think of.
Jane stood up slowly and approached Andrew, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Mr Dunn, would you like me to get you a cup of coffee?"
"You don't have anything stronger?" Andrew replied. They were sure he was trying to keep some sort of good spirit to avoid falling apart, but the sound of his voice took away from any kind of satire in his comment.
"I could try, but I don't think the doctors would agree." Jane offered him a small smile as he looked up at her; it was the first time he had taken his eyes off Benji since they got there.
"It's alright, pet." Andrew tried to return the smile. "I haven't drank for years. Not since…" Suddenly he trailed off.
"Mr Dunn?" Jane asked, wondering what had caused him to abruptly stop speaking and stare into thin air with glazed over eyes.
"David Skinner." Andrew spoke with little emotion in his voice.
"Who?" Brandt asked, sitting upright.
"A few years ago, before I retired, I dealt with a case involving the death of a young woman. Her husband, Jamie, would drink every night and beat her until one night he killed her. I proved him to be guilty and he went away for life." Andrew shuddered at the memory of Jamie not even flinching as his sentence was given to him. "About five months into his sentence, he was found hanging in his cell. The medics were unable to revive him." He took in a deep breath before moving on. "One day, Jamie's father, David, came to my work as I was leaving. I expressed my condolences to him on Jamie's death; the man may have murdered his wife, but he was still somebody's son. Having a boy myself, I couldn't bear to imagine the pain he would have felt. I tried to keep him calm but he continued to become aggravated and just before someone came to pull him away, he whispered something into my ear." Andrew squeezed his eyes shut as it became obvious that the memory was washing over him. It seemed like it was something he hadn't thought of for a long time.
"What did he say, Mr Dunn?" Brandt asked, softly.
"He told me that I wouldn't get away for what I'd done to his son." Andrew made eye contact with the analyst and Brandt felt his heart sink.
"What you took from me, I now take from you." He spoke with a monotonous voice, feeling sick that this man not only blamed Andrew for his son's death but had now tried to kill Benji as an act of revenge. He could understand the pain and rage David would feel at losing his son, but to go as far as shooting Benji… Brandt would never be able to see how he could do that. He knew that rage caused people to do stupid and irrational things – he thought back to Ethan killing those six Serbians to avenge Julia – but this was something far more personal… Well, at least they had an almost definite name for the person who shot Benji. Now it was just a matter of figuring out what they would do next.
"So what happens now?" Jane asked, glancing at Ethan. The leader soon realised that all three of them were looking to him for direction. In those few seconds, he felt as though the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. He began to think. They needed a way of finding David before they could do anything about him.
"Mr Dunn, do you think that if David found out that Benji was still alive, he would try to change that?" The others looked at him, confused.
"I'm not sure. But I have a feeling that if he found out that he hadn't succeeded, he wouldn't be too happy."
"What are you thinking?" Brandt asked, wondering where this was going.
"I have an idea." Ethan glanced between them. "It is quite risky but I think it might work."
Sorry it's so short...
David Skinner flicked through the channels of his television until he found the news. Dropping the remote onto the sofa next to him, he grabbed his beer in one hand while the other clutched a photo frame. Rubbing his thumb over the glass, he stared down at the image of Jamie's smiling face. The picture had been taken only a few days before everything went downhill. But now, he felt glad that Andrew Dunn had paid the same price he had.
"In other news, the son of an esteemed lawyer has been shot in his home." David's ears pricked up at these words and he turned up the volume on his television. "Andrew Dunn, former criminal lawyer, has released the following statement about his son's shooting." The image on the screen flicked to outside a hospital, where the man who he had hated for so long stood. His face was pained and sombre as he began to speak. "I was heartbroken to hear about the attempt made on my son's life."
"I have spent the last few years back in England, however flew straight over when I heard that he was in hospital. I cannot go into great detail of my son's condition, however I would like to thank the staff at the hospital for looking after him and hopefully we can get him back to full health in no time."
David watched as Andrew retreated back into the hospital, noting the name on the side of the building. Benjamin Dunn had survived the shooting. That would mean he would not only be able to say something to the police, but also David's actions had not worked. Gritting his teeth together, he glanced over to the drawer where he had put the gun after returning from Benjamin's apartment. If he was going to do something about this situation, he couldn't use a gun. That would attract attention of hospital staff. Chewing on his bottom lip, he considered his various options. The most obvious option would be to suffocate Benjamin – but if Andrew was there, that wouldn't be possible.
Then an idea struck him.
He could make Andrew watch as the life left his son; watch as the son he knew disappeared forever. At least then he would have some idea of what David had felt.
Andrew sat in complete silence, hands clasped in his son's, his eyes once again never leaving Benji's face. His heart was racing and his breathing was shaky, but he remained calm, waiting for his son to wake up. He suddenly heard the click of the door opening and froze, knowing exactly what was coming. A few seconds passed and the door shut again, footsteps getting closer. He ignored it for as long as he could until he heard a voice.
"Hello, Mr Dunn."
Andrew turned around and saw him. He didn't appear to be armed, making him fear what the man had planned for Benji.
"Mr Skinner." Andrew tried to hide the shaking in his voice. He wasn't scared of this man, but he was terrified and furious coming face to face with the man who shot his son. He watched as David stepped closer at a horrifyingly slow pace, however that proved that he thought he had all the time in the world. Before he could get close enough to lay a finger on Andrew or Benji, Jane appeared from her cover and wrapped her arm around his throat from behind, effectively placing him in a choke hold. Andrew watched her squeeze on his throat and was quite astounded how a woman as petite and beautiful as her could prove such terrifying strength. He saw David trying his hardest to dislodge her arm, however she was far too powerful for him and he gasped for air. After what seemed like forever, Ethan appeared behind her and coaxed her to remove her arm, happy that David was now too out of breath to pose a threat. As his legs buckled, Brandt caught him and put him into one of the chairs. He tried to get up again, but Brandt forced him back and Jane, who was standing behind him, placed her wrists on either shoulder. She didn't do anything, but the potential was enough to make him stay.
"Wh-who are you people?" David asked, suddenly scared. As far as he was concerned, there should only have been Andrew and his son there. Who were these strangers?
"That is none of your concern." Ethan snapped. "Care to explain what you were doing here?"
"I-uh… I was just here to see how Mr Dunn's son was doing. I s-saw the news."
"Bullshit." Brandt exclaimed. He knew he shouldn't have said it, but he really couldn't hold back. He did have some issues with his temper and when his friend was lying there because of this man, he wasn't able to stop himself. He felt Ethan's eyes on him, but didn't look at him.
"We know you told Mr Dunn here that you wanted him to pay for what happened to Jamie." Ethan saw the way David's demeanour changed at the mention of his son's name. It was as if the innocent façade had disappeared entirely and his eyes were filled with hatred. "And I think it is safe to say that you wrote this note." The agent held up the piece of paper, showing the words and specks of blood that were displayed on it.
"I wanted him to feel the same pain I did." David suddenly spat. "I went to visit Jamie every day when he was in that prison. Every day. And I had to watch him deteriorate; watch the life he once held slowly slipping into the darkness. I'll never forget the day when I went to the hospital to visit him and when they went to get him from his cell, they found him dead. I spent those five months watching my son disappear and then he was finally gone."
"So that's what you wanted?" Jane asked. "You wanted Mr Dunn to go through what you did?"
"Yes." David stared right at Andrew, who still held Benji's limp hand. He then looked to Benji. "I wanted you to watch while I strangled the life out of your son. I wanted you to feel every single inch of your heart break as you watched that monitor begin to flat-line." Before he could utter another word, Brandt was moving, throwing his fist into the man's stomach. As he doubled over, Jane gripped his shoulders tightly, pulling him back into the sitting position.
"Brandt." Ethan spoke, holding out his cell phone for the analyst to take without actually looking at him. "Call the cops. Tell them that we have the man responsible for the shooting of Mr Dunn's son."
"You got it." Brandt took the phone and dialled, never taking his eyes off David's face as he told the operator where to send the police.
It had been four days since Andrew and the others had confronted David and had him locked up for attempted murder. Benji still hadn't woken up and Andrew still hadn't left his son's bedside. The team took turns in sitting with the pair however no one said anything. What could be said? When someone you love is lying in front of you, fighting for their life, there really are no words that would feel fitting.
By day five, Benji's stats still hadn't changed.
By day six, they were becoming more and more desperate. They watched as Andrew began to slowly express his emotions more freely.
On day seven, as Ethan sat in the chair opposite Benji's bed, he heard something. Andrew's voice broke the painful silence, barely coming out as more than a hoarse whisper.
"You know, Benjamin was always a bit of a hero." It seemed like the older man was talking to Ethan, however he kept his eyes on his son. "When he was seven, his little cousin Daisy fell into the pond at their grandparents' house. She would have only been about five. Benjamin shouted for us, but still ran to the water himself. It wasn't very deep, however Daisy couldn't swim yet. He threw himself into the pond and hit his head on the fountain in the middle. You might have seen the scar." Ethan recalled the line that ran across Benji's forehead, sitting faintly above his right eyebrow. "But it didn't matter how much his head hurt, he grabbed onto his cousin and pulled her up to the grass. By the time we got there, we pulled them both out. Daisy was ok, just a little shaken up. We took them both to the hospital straight away."
Finally, Andrew looked across at Ethan, raw emotion in his eyes. He wished that he could tell the other man how his son had saved the world, but that damned red-tape stopped him.
"Your son is very brave, Mr Dunn." Ethan spoke up. "He's saved my ass a few times, pardon the expression. Also, Brandt and Jane's too. He is a wonderful man." He wasn't really sure what saying all of this would do, but he just felt the need to tell Andrew something positive. He also thought back to how Benji had helped save Julia back when he still worked in the labs. Benji had done so much for them and he wanted to make sure he was given the proper recognition for it. He saw Andrew's lips turn up slightly at the edges, clearly knowing how appreciated his son was made him somewhat happy.
"Thank you..." Andrew whispered across the room. The pair fell back into silence once more and it lasted another hour before it was broken once more. But not by either of them. Ethan's head shot up at the strange sound and saw something amazing. He met Andrew's gaze and they both realised what was happening.
Benji was waking up.
"I feel like I work in a florist…" Benji croaked, looking around at the numerous plants and bunches that sat scattered around the room.
"Well, being the son of a respected lawyer, you are known by a few people." Jane offered, placing the newest addition on a table opposite the bed. It was an interesting looking plant with plastic-looking leaves.
"Wait…" Benji held up a hand and Jane paused. "I like that one… can you put it next to me?" he asked with a sweet smile and Jane couldn't resist. Brandt lifted the small bunch of sunflowers from the bedside table, leaving room for the pot to sit. Reaching up, Benji grabbed the card to read what it was called.
"Spathiphyllum?" Benji raised a confused eyebrow as he turned the card over. "Ah, more commonly known as the peace lily. Yeah, I like that." He looked to Brandt, who was chuckling slightly at him. Benji ignored him and continued, looking around at the flowers. "I think I'll give some of these to Irene. I mean, I'll thank her properly for helping to save my life, but still. I think she'll like them."
"I'm sure she will." Jane smiled. "It's a lovely idea." Before anyone else could say another word, the door opened, revealing Ethan and Andrew standing in the doorway. The team leader motioned for the two agents to leave and they took the hint, saying a quick goodbye to Benji before exiting the room. Ethan smiled at Benji before following his team out, leaving Benji alone with his father. It was the first time they had been given time alone since Benji woke up two days earlier, so the tech was slightly anxious. They hadn't seen each other for so long, then when he had regained consciousness, Andrew had been the first thing he had seen. His father sat down on the chair Brandt had been using and there was a small pause between them.
"How are you feeling, son?"
"I'm actually feeling pretty ok. Still sore, but that's to be expected." Benji offered a small smile.
"Before we say anything else, Benjamin, I just want t-"
"No, dad, you don't have to." Benji interrupted, but Andrew brushed him off.
"Benjamin, please." He was firm and looked his son directly into the eyes. "I need to say this because we left things on bad terms last time we saw each other. And now I almost lost you and I just… I need you to know the truth."
Benji's brow furrowed and his head tilted slightly. "Truth?"
"Ben, what I said, what I did… I did it to protect you." Andrew watched the confusion intensify on his child's face and continued. "There were some men, some dangerous men who wanted to hurt you. They wanted to take you away to make me do what they wanted. I couldn't do that, I couldn't put you in danger like that."
Benji listened to his father speak, feeling slightly taken aback that the man would go to the trouble of throwing away his entire career to avoid his son being put in danger. It felt almost ironic to him, really, having faced the end of the world, having been shot at, rendered unconscious, attacked… He had come out of those relatively unscathed and was perfectly capable of defending himself, but he was very limited as to what he could tell his dad. Even if he could tell his dad that he could look after himself, the fact that he had been ambushed and shot in his own home didn't really give him anything to go by.
Benji's mind drifted off, travelling back to what had happened and how he had managed to be caught so off guard.
Benji walked across from the kitchen, drink in hand, and headed into his room. Humming along to some song by Coldplay that had been stuck in his head all day, he was finally going to tackle the pile of clean washing that had been sitting on his bed since the previous mission started. As much as he loved his job, he did get a bit irritated when they were thrown into missions spontaneously when they were halfway through domestic jobs.
He placed his glass down on the table next to his bed and eyed up the rather large pile of clothes that sat in front of him. One by one, he picked up shirts, jeans and underwear until they were finally all back in their designated places. As he flattened the covers on the bed, he heard a bang from another part of the apartment, causing him to freeze. Remaining perfectly still, he listened in, wondering whether it was worth going to check, however he didn't get the chance to move before there was a voice behind him.
"Hello Benjamin." He turned slowly to see a man, wearing jeans and a dirty hoodie, standing in the doorway to his bedroom. The worst part about the picture was that the man held a gun in one hand with a small piece of paper clutched in the other.
"W-who are you?" Benji asked, raising his hands and contemplating diving for his own gun, which he knew was in the bedside cabinet.
"I have a message for your dad." The man replied.
"My dad?" Benji asked, but before he could utter another syllable, the trigger was pulled. The loud bang left ringing in his ears and only split-seconds later, the pain hit him. The force threw him backwards and his knees hit the edge of the bed, causing him to fall. As his back landed on the mattress, he let out a cry, hands grappling at the gaping wound in his side. The man walked over to Benji and bent down, placing a hand on his forehead as he lowered his lips to Benji's ear.
"That's for Jamie." Benji heard the horrific mixture of evil and emotion in the man's voice and watched through blurring vision as he stood back up and threw the piece of paper onto the bed next to him before disappearing.
"Help!" he cried out. "Someone, please! Help me!" What did that man want? Why did he shoot him? Why was this considered a message for his dad? His dad lived in England now… So many questions ran through his frantic mind and his head throbbed. "Help, please! Help me!"
He wasn't sure how many times he shouted, begged, pleaded for someone to come to his aid, but he soon heard the lock on his door click. At first, he worried that the man had heard that he was still alive and was coming back to finish the job, but he soon heard a comforting voice.
"Benjamin?" It was Irene. "Where are you? Is everything ok?"
"Irene! In here, please!" His voice was almost a sob as he waited for the familiar figure to appear in the doorway. When she did, Benji saw the way her hand went to her mouth.
"Benjamin, oh god, what happened?" She rushed to his side.
"Man… shot me… Gotta call… Ethan…" Benji's voice was coming in gasps at this point and he wasn't sure how long he could hold onto consciousness for.
"Ethan?" Irene asked before remembering. "Oh, yes. Where's your phone?" Benji pointed to the table and watched as she grabbed it, however he didn't hear her asking for Ethan's surname as he slipped. He fell down until everything around him disappeared and he lost sight of everything.
"Benjamin?" Benji's dad's voice brought him back to reality and he shook himself.
"I'm sorry, dad…" he blurted out, feeling rather bad about drifting off like that when the man had been trying to put things right. Hopefully he could blame it on the pain medication.
"No, don't you be sorry." Andrew reached out and grabbed Benji's hand. "I just hope that you understand why I did what I did."
"I do. I'm sorry for getting so angry at you. I just…" Benji dropped his head, feeling wrong for getting so mad at his dad when all he had wanted was to keep him safe.
"You didn't know." Andrew spoke up. "You couldn't have known." Both men smiled softly at each other, finally understanding. To Andrew, it felt like a weight had been lifted, knowing that Benji did not hate him for what he did. To Benji, he was just glad to have his dad back.