Chapter 1: Scooby Dooby Doo
Written for the comment_fic prompt: "Thoughtcrimes, Freya McAllister + Brendan Dean, Freya's not the only telepath: the constant litany in Brendan's head? The Scooby Doo Theme Song? It's all his way of blocking."
It took Freya longer than she’d care to admit to figure it out. Because she was constantly in tune with Brendan’s thoughts when they were on the job, because they’d spend every waking moment together for days on end while on a case, they were always on the same wavelength. They used enough words that none of the other NSA agents made jokes about either of them being psychic, but they could understand each other with a look, because Freya knew the thoughts behind Brendan’s eyes and Brendan just knew Freya. Or so she thought.
And then one time she was sitting in a diner with Brendan after an all-night stake-out and she was almost falling asleep on her plate and she looked at her hashbrowns and thought, I need ketchup, and Brendan pushed the bottle of ketchup toward her without a word.
He’d done that a few times, responded to her thoughts, made her think she’d accidentally spoken them aloud, but this time she really hadn’t spoken.
He looked as exhausted as she felt, pale and drawn, shadows around his eyes, and he was forking up his breakfast mechanically, like he couldn’t even taste it.
The diner around them was empty, but as the morning wore on, people came in for before-work coffee or breakfast.
Across from her, Brendan began singing the Scooby Doo theme to himself in his head.
And then the diner was full, and Brendan wasn’t just singing the Scooby Doo theme to himself, he was imagining the actual version and singing along to that while he ate. And he was picturing the opening animation. How much Scooby Doo had he watched as a child?
His mental response, swift and automatic, was All the time. It kept the voices out.
Freya said, Brendan?
He swallowed a mouthful of food. “Freya? What is it?”
“Nothing. You just look - distracted.”
“I just want to get home and sleep.” And get out of this crowd.
“I’m done,” Freya said. She pushed her plate away. “Let’s go home.”
Chapter 2: Talking Secrets
Written for the comment_fic prompt: "Thoughtcrimes, Freya McAllister + Brendan Dean, Telepathy is great for talking in secret."
Freya confronts Brendan about his telepathy.
Chapter 3: The Sound of Silence
Written for the comment_fic prompt: "Any, any telepathic/empathic character, sudden silence."
Freya listens for any sign of Brendan, and instead finds him in the silence.
No one was looking for Brendan or Welles. It was like the entire NSA had forgotten either of them existed, and Harper had put Freya off every time she'd asked about them. Something very bizarre - and frankly scary - was going on, but Freya had no choice. She had to look for Brendan herself.
She started with the place he'd said they would meet, to talk about his telepathy. She fanned out in a grid search, a little bit more every day, listening. Since the NSA had forgotten she had a partner, they'd more or less forgotten about her too, so as long as she had her cell phone on her and answered her emails, they didn't seem too keen on assigning her new cases. The ones she'd been working on with Brendan had vanished.
Day in, day out, she walked the city, and she listened.
She didn't hear even the tiniest thing about him.
It was the sudden silence that told her something was amiss. Not even the most dilapidated old buildings were this silent, crowded as they were with the homeless, the runaways, and the junkies looking for a private place to get a fix.
When she passed by the hollowed-out old deli and heard absolutely nothing, she knew she'd found something. The only other time she'd sensed similar silence and nothing was when Brendan had sat beside her, hiding behind his panic room mental blocks. The blocks around this deli were different. Just as strong, but more flexible, like medieval maille armor, thousands of tiny links woven together to form an impenetrable barrier.
This had to be the place.
Freya made sure she had her gun in hand before she pushed open the back door and sneaked in.
Into the kitchen, where a man was waiting for her. He was tall, slender, with wild red hair, cat-like green eyes, and a hideous olive-green double-breasted overcoat that clashed with the yellow bandanna keeping his hair out of his eyes.
"Hello, mein katzchen." He had a German accent.
Freya remembered how strange it was, that Brendan swore in German in his head when by all accounts he only spoke Spanish as a second language.
"So nice of you to join us," he said. "And now we have the matched set."
Freya's world went dark. The last thing she remembered was seeing Brendan, wearing a pristine white suit and glasses, smirking at her.
Chapter 4: Bad Sign
Written for the comment_fic prompt: "any, any, Born under a bad sign."
Brendan rescues Freya.
Freya came awake to Brendan saying her name over and over and over again in her head.
No, screaming it.
She gasped and jerked upright, then swore when pain wrenched in her shoulders. She was bound to a chair in the back kitchen of that deserted deli. The smirky orange-haired man was standing opposite her, arms crossed, still smirking. A teenage boy was sitting up on the counter beside him, legs crossed, tapping away at a laptop. When he looked up at Freya, he had uncannily blue eyes. And beside the boy was another man, white-haired, with a patch over his right eye. His arms were riddled with scars, and he was spinning a knife, its blade flashing in the dim light.
Freya cast about, searching for Brendan.
And there he was, standing in the middle of the room, wearing a pristine white suit and glasses.
Only Brendan was bound to another chair on the opposite side of the room. He hadn’t shaved in days, and there was dried blood on his face, and his hair was matted and dirty.
“Castor, Castor, Castor,” the white-clad man was saying.
Freya took a run at his mental walls, but they were mirror-smooth and revealed nothing. He didn’t even twitch toward her. He wasn’t Brendan.
“You and I were born under a bad sign, brother,” the white-clad man continued.
You’re alive. You’re awake. You’re okay. Freya Freya Freya. Call for help! The real Brendan cast her a look of mingled relief and desperation.
“My name is Brendan,” he said aloud, glaring up at the man who must have been his twin. He added, “Bradley,” for good measure.
Bradley’s eyes narrowed behind his glasses.
“And I’m not Castor any more than you’re Pollux,” Brendan snapped.
Freya took a deep breath, reached out with her mind, and screamed for Harper.
“None of that,” the orange-haired man said, and suddenly Freya felt like she was swaddled in bubble wrap. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe.
No, she could breathe, she was okay. He’d trapped her mind.
She kicked and screamed and clawed at the barriers, but they wouldn’t budge.
“It was an admirable effort,” Bradley continued. “You managed to stay hidden from us - me - for a long time. You always were such a talented operative.”
“Let her go,” Brendan said. “This is between you and me.”
“Oh, not anymore,” Bradley purred, and the gleam in his eye was dangerous. Freya had talked to more than her fair share of killers and knew when a man was dangerous. “We found you because you made a mistake.”
Brendan sneered. “We’re human. All humans make mistakes.”
Bradley knelt so he was eye-level with Brendan. “You made a friend, silly boy. There are no friends in this line of work, and yet you went and made one.” Then he stood up, crossed the room and knelt beside Freya. He curled a hand in her hair and wrenched her head up. “I can see why. She’s a pretty thing. Has the makings of a powerful telepath, too, if only someone hadn’t screwed up her training. With the right application of...force, she could be a second Mastermind.” He cast a significant look at the orange-haired man.
Of course he was a telepath. Were the others? The boy looked disinterested in the proceedings altogether, was apparently playing some kind of video game, and the knife-wielding cyclops beside him cared only about his spinning blade.
“What do you want, Brad?” Brendan asked. He sounded tired.
“At first, to bring you home. I mean, I have other jobs to do, but the Elders would be most pleased if I could return their wayward son to their hallowed halls. But now I have bigger goals. Welles was only a cog in the machine.” Bradley straightened up. “He barely knows a thing, as evidenced by his shabby treatment of poor Freya and her gift. I want the rest of them. The talents that Welles’s superiors have. They belong to us. To Rosenkreuz.”
Rosenkreuz again. Brendan had been afraid Freya was one of them, hidden his gift from her because of it.
Brendan narrowed his eyes. “What? But -”
Bradley leaned in and said, softly and deliberately, “You know the rules, brother. Rosenkreuz is for life. Rosenkreuz is forever.” When he stepped back, Brendan’s expression was unreadable, but he was no longer afraid. Just wary.
Brendan said, “Promise not to hurt Freya.”
“Don’t worry,” the orange-haired man said, “we’ll be gentle.”
Freya wasn’t reassured at all.
Brendan nodded slowly, and Freya wanted to scream.
“Nagi,” Bradley said, and the teenage boy lifted his head, flicked a glance at Brendan. The ropes binding Brendan’s hands and feet fell away, and he stood up. The boy had never stopped typing.
Freya’s voice died in her throat.
Telekinesis. The boy had telekinesis.
Bradley murmured something in German. Freya caught the words Castor and Gemini, but she still wasn’t good enough at German to understand the whole thing.
Brendan responded in fluent German, and Freya understood Pollux but nothing else.
“Actually, these days, it’s Oracle,” Bradley said, in English.
Brendan flicked a glance at the orange-haired man. “Will you drop the lock on my place of employment, please? I’ll need access to my NSA resources to help you.”
“What’s the magic word?”
“Schuldig,” Brendan said sharply, and the orange-haired man rolled his eyes.
“That’s my name, not the magic word.”
Schudig wasn’t a name. It was a the German word for guilty.
Bradley said something in German. Schuldig looked like he wanted to roll his eyes, but instead he closed them, took a deep breath, and then he said, “It is done.”
“Release Freya,” Brendan said.
“Not her mind,” Bradley cut in.
Already the ropes around Freya’s hands and feet were falling away.
“Let her talk to me at least,” Brendan said. “If she can’t talk to me, she can’t do her job, and Harper and the others will get suspicious.”
“Fine.” Schuldig rolled his eyes again, and then there was the faintest loosening of the bubble wrap around Freya’s mind.
“Where’s Welles?” Freya asked.
Brendan’s expression turned stony.
“Don’t worry,” Bradley said, “once Schuldig was done with him, Farfarello made it fast.”
The one-eyed man with the knife grinned and chuckled, low and filthy.
“Now go, be good NSA agents,” Bradley said. Brendan hurried to Freya’s side, checked her over, but she batted his hands away, she was fine. No one had hurt her. At least, not physically.
“And remember,” Bradley said, “who you belong to.”
The look Brendan cast him would have set him on fire.
“Welcome back, Gemini,” Bradley called after them. His word echoed in her head long after they were out of earshot.
“What the hell is going on?” Freya demanded.
But Brendan dragged her into a rough embrace, hugged her so hard she could barely breathe.
“Freya,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
“For this,” he said, and pressed his forehead to hers.
Right before her world went black, she heard the words, Forget me.
Amita Ramanujan came awake gasping. Her alarm clock was blaring. She rolled over and peered at it, swore.
Dammit. She was late for her first day of grad school.