"Well. What the hell are we supposed to do now?" Brandt asks. Things have finally begun to slow down and he and Benji are taking a well-deserved break in a little coffee shop across from the hospital where Hunt and Carter are. He looks up from his barely touched coffee and lets out a huffy sigh. "Benji!"
Benji jerks awake. "Bloody hell! What!"
Brandt smirks. "I was just wondering what in the hell we should be doing now that things are, well…over."
Benji takes a sip of his Earl Grey and sighs. "Clean-up, I suppose."
Brandt makes a face. "What, uh, what exactly does that mean? Clean-up."
"Oh, you know. Feeding plausible, non-incriminating stories to the media, patching things up with local law-enforcement-that sort of thing," Benji replies.
"Great," Brandt mutters. Because that's exactly what he wants to be doing right now. He's sore and exhausted and, not that the adrenaline has worn off, fairly certain that Wistrom may have cracked a rib or two. Not to mention, it's hotter than Hades. He finally gives up on his espresso and asks the waitress for some ice water instead, making Benji raise a speculative eyebrow.
"What?" Brandt asks, a little defensively. "It's hot."
Benji just shrugs in the teenager-esque 'whatever' way and goes back to his tea.
As nice as the down-time is, Brandt can feel himself getting restless. Luckily, whether he can sense Brandt's discomfort or whether he's feeling a similar compulsion to go do something, Benji puts down his tea and some cash and stands.
"You ready to go?" he asks unnecessarily. Brandt is already on his feet.
They decide to drop by the car lot first in the hopes of intercepting local law enforcement and giving them an acceptable explanation. They don't have a car (Ethan's was towed), and neither of them really feel like taking a cab, so they agree to walk.
It's not long before Brandt's ribs are killing him, and between the pain and the fact that it's really, really hot, breathing sucks and walking sucks and he kind of wishes they'd stayed at the coffee shop because being restless was better than this. He silently berates himself. He's a CIA analyst, and worked in the field before that, and the military before that. He's been in far more dangerous situations in far worse conditions. Hell, this is a walk in the park. So why does he feel like he's on the verge of collapse? He finds his pace slowing steadily. In a few minutes, he's well behind Benji, who hasn't seemed to notice his sudden lack of partner.
Brandt's head is aching, a throbbing pulse behind his eyes. He lets out a small groan as he's overtaken by a wave of dizziness. He puts his hand on the wall to steady himself. Unfortunately, it doesn't help as the world seems to spin out off control and his vision begins to get dark around the edges, and he finds himself gasping for air.
"Benji," he calls weakly. He barely gets the whole word out before the uncomfortable darkness smothers him.
They've been walking for a while now-in complete silence. It's a little awkward, to say the east, but Benji has no idea how to bring up conversation, or what conversation to bring up. So he doesn't say anything, just watches his feet as they weave their way through the foot traffic, which is surprisingly thick for such an ungodly hour. Someone passing by bumps into his shoulder, and as Benji turns to see who, he realizes with slight horror that Brandt is nowhere to be seen.
"Brandt!" Benji calls as he starts going back the way he came.
There's a small crowd forming around something Brandt can't see. With mounting worry Benji pushes his way through, his heart sinking as he sees the object of their attention. Brandt is lying in a heap on the ground.
"Move. Move!" Benji cries as he forces his way through the last few layers of spectators. He kneels next to his fallen partner.
"Hey Brandt. Will!" he prompts, putting two fingers to Brandt's neck. He almost pulls away again; Brandt is burning up. His pulse is fast and thready, and he's wheezing slightly. Benji feels panic beginning to set in. "Come on, Benji," he mutters to himself. "You're a field agent now-focus!" But, he realizes, panicked or not he has no idea what to do.
Suddenly, a hand is on his shoulder, pulling him back. "Excuse me sir, I'm a doctor," a young man says in an accent Benji can't quite place. He takes Brandt's pulse and frowns. He turns to a man standing in a shop doorway and shouts something in Indian. "We need to try and bring his body temp down," he says. Loosening Brandt's tie. He frowns again and puts an ear to his chest.
"What is it? What's wrong" Benji asks, trying his best not to sound frantic.
"I'm hearing a slight rattle," the doctor answers, opening Brandt's shirt. Benji's stomach drops.
Brandt's torso is littered with bruises, and the left side is entirely bright red and purple. The doctor moves his fingers gingerly over Brandt's chest, feeling for broken ribs. Obviously there are some, because Brandt lets out a cry of pain. His eyes snap open and he grab's the doctor's wrist. The doctor tenses, but keeps calm, somehow.
He points a finger at Benji, not taking his eyes away from Brandt. "I need you to call an ambulance," he commands. Then, the tone of his voice changes completely as he turns his attention back to Brandt. "My name is Jack. I'm a doctor. I'm a doctor, and you need help, but I can't help you unless you let go of me."
Brandt looks at him skeptically for a moment before shifting his gaze to Benji.
"You can trust him, Will. He's here to help," Benji says in what he hopes is a reassuring voice.
Brandt reluctantly releases Jack's wrist, his chest heaving, face red, heat pouring off of him.
Just then, the man from the shop comes hurrying out, his arms hull of plastic bags filled with ice. Jack points to the ground and the man dumps his load there before rushing back into his store and slamming the door.
"It took bloody long enough," Jack mutters. He puts the ice under Brandt's armpits and against his neck and groin, evoking a weak cry of protest from Brandt.
"Oh, don't be such a Nancy. Would you rather all your major organs shut down?" Jack asks.
Brandt doesn't answer. His breathing has become fast and shallow, and his eyes roll back in his head.
"Shit," Jack says under his breath.
"What?" Benji asks. "'Shit' what?"
Jack ignores him. He's tapping desperately at Brandt's cheek. "Come on, Will. Come on," he mutters. "Damn it, where is that ambulance?"
"Would you mind telling me what in the hell is happening to my friend? Please? Because I have been standing here the whole time wondering what's going on and you haven't told me a damned thing and I'm tired of being in the dark!" Benji shouts.
Jack finally looks up at him, a little taken aback. "He's got broken ribs, and I think a punctured lung. And heatstroke."
"Heatstroke," Benji repeats. "How heatstroke? It's not that hot out here, not really…" He trails off as he comes to a realization. "Damn it."
"What?" Jack asks.
Benji opens his mouth, but the sound of sirens cuts him off before he can say anything. A few paramedics jump out of the back of an ambulance, and Jack starts chattering at them in Indian as Brandt is hurried in. Jack jumps in the back, too.
"I'm riding with them to the hospital. I don't think there's room for the two of us, so meet us there."
And then the ambulance doors are pulled closed and it speeds away and Benji is left standing, gaping on the sidewalk as the crowd disperses and the city goes about its usual business.
Jack sits heavily in a plastic chair next to Benji and heaves a sigh.
"How is he?" Benji asks.
Jack looks at the floor. "Not too good at the moment. They've inserted a chest tube and it seems to be doing its job. And they've gotten his body temp down."
Jack slumps a little in his chair. "But he hasn't regained consciousness. The doctors are worried that there could be permanent damage."
Benji swallows as a wave of guilt washes over him. "What…what kind of damage?" he says softly, his voice cracking.
"There could be organ damage…and there's a possibility of brain damage."
Benji takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "I have a question."
Jack nods, a sympathetic expression on his face. "Anything."
"Suppose-hypothetically-a man gets…dropped into basically a large oven-but someone catches him-erm…Could that-could that potentially cause heat stroke?"
Jack's eyebrows climb up his forehead. "Bloody hell, mate, what have you been smoking?"
Benji glares at him, and Jack raises his hands in an apologetic gesture.
"Okay, okay. I think that yes, if a man were to be dropped into a large oven, that that could cause heat stroke."
So it's definitely his fault. Fan-bloody-tastic. Benji buries his head in his hands. "Can I see him?" he mumbles through his fingers.
"I don't see why not. You doing alright?"
"Fine," Benji says curtly, slowly getting to his feet. "I'm gonna…gonna go check on him. He's my friend, you know? I should-I should be there."
Jack nods. "I get it. Come with me, I'll walk you down to his room."
They walk in silence for awhile before Benji finally speaks. "I know you have a lot of questions. Do us both a favor and don't ask them."
"Let me guess: If you told me, you'd have to kill me," Jack says with a sly grin.
"Something like that." The smile vanishes from Jack's face at the tone of Benji's voice. He clears his throat.
"So! Uh, this is his room. He's probably still out…I'll just-make sure it's alright for you to go in." Jack taps on the door twice and opens it, then gives Benji a nod. "I'll leave you to it then."
Benji thanks him and walks slowly into the hospital room, heart pounding in his ears. The room itself is a gloomy place, with dull cream white paint on the walls and not much else. His eyes land on Brandt, and he has to look away for a moment to collect himself because, frankly, he looks like shit.
There are tubes in his arms and tubes out his nose and a tube sticking out of the side of his chest(which looks pretty awful and kind of makes Benji want to puke). His skin is a sickly pale color, and there are dark circles under his eyes. His pale skin makes the bruises on his chest stand out.
Benji swallows down a wave of guilt as he settles himself in an uncomfortable plastic chair. He's not sure what he's supposed to do at this point. Hunt and Carter were both awake when he went to see them. And they weren't at risk of permanent organ damage due to something Benji screwed up. He takes a deep breath and talks, because if there's anything he's good at, it's talking.
"Hey, Brandt. I know we haven't…been together long, but you're one of us now. I already trust you with my life. And you trusted me with yours, and now you're here. That's on me, and I am sorry. If you wake up-when you wake up- I promise you, I will never drop you into an oven ever again, as long as I live. Hell, if you wake up, I'll take you out for drinks. We'll drink, maybe shoot some pool. I mean, assuming you like pool. It's okay if you don't. We could watch a football match instead, if you'd rather do that. Or, if you wanted, we could even go to one of our safe houses and plug in a movie. You know, Rocky, Die Hard, Star Trek…whatever you want is fine." He stops talking for a minute, hoping that maybe Brandt will open his eyes and tell him to stop talking. But he doesn't. Benji sighs. "Looks like it may be a little while, huh? Well, I'm in if you are."
Brandt wakes up gasping, sitting up in the hospital bed, heart pounding. He winces, squeezing his eyes shut. "Aah. Ow. Holy hell my chest hurts…Gah."
"You're awake. You're awake!"
Brandt looks over to see Benji leaning forward so he's nearly falling out of the plastic chair.
"Hey Benji," he breathes, sitting back in the bed. "What happened? I don't…how'd I get here?"
Benji looks embarrassed. "You had a punctured lung from your broken ribs from Wistrom. And also heat stroke. From me. Dropping you into an oven. I'm really, really sorry about that by the way. If it weren't for me-"
"Hey," Brandt interrupts. "If it weren't for you, we'd've failed the mission. And I would have gotten strangled to death by Wistrom."
Benji shrugs. "I guess so. But the oven thing-"
"Benji. It's fine, alright? You caught me."
Benji smiles a little. "Yeah, I guess I did." He stills feels a bit guilty, but he's not driving himself crazy with it any more. Because Brandt is right.
Benji caught him.