This is the long overdue sequel to Dark Skies. The title comes from, something I will own up to, pinterest with it meaning of grey skies and winter days. I chose it because I think it relates well to Brandt as a character.
To reiterate, my usage of assault is completely and utterly devoid of sexual assault meaning. It's a play on the quote from the movie, nothing more. I would highly suggest reading the aforementioned Dark Skies for context of this fic.
Chu: The Sound of a Kiss
He and Julia had always joked who they thought the cutest agents were. It was a game they played of sorts, which was one of the reasons he loved her so dearly. Insecurity was never a strong suit of hers, so much so that she went out of her way to try and fluster him. Which was hard to do, though the first time she had pointed out a man he had nearly choked on his drink. Her delivery, a crass "would you rather see him with me or you?" before tucking back behind her own beverage still made him smile. He had flushed, loosening a button on his shirt; she only smiled before picking another.
To be fair, the man in question was very attractive.
His own sexuality was, like everything else overshadowed by his work. He knew the complexities of the human spectrum had grown and were more detailed, but for him sex tended to fall into two categories. A mission, or a pleasure.
Missions did not afford him the ability to be choosy nor would he be. The mission always needed to be accomplished and if he could inflate his ego by seducing someone so be it. Unfortunately this only worked on certain men, leaving Jane to her task when chasing Cobalt.
Pleasures on the other hand depended on the person. He liked people, it was one of the reasons he was in the job he was in. The complexities of humans, from language to culture to behavior, he needed it all and he relished in his mastery. He valued the person, the mind. It was one of the reasons that Julia was a good match, she was smart and fiesty. Able to balance him with empathy and being grounded. Even in their parting, it had been on good terms because she knew that he was doing it for her even if she didn't want it.
During their honeymoon and later living around the world, she had pressed to learn more about him. Ethan had hidden his profession, which was a huge part of him. So she dug in, quizzing him and asking his thoughts on topics he had never considered. Like if he was a little less straight than he had always assumed, she had pointed to a man and then asked his thoughts. And from there it had gotten more ridiculous, especially on dirtier topics.
He enjoyed it though, as she persuaded to consider other options and eventually bring others to their bed. She taught him to slow down and when he thought back, he was happy about the ache she caused in her absence. He missed her every day, especially their banter.
Her game grew to include the IMF agents following them, when she spotted them on the honeymoon and he confirmed their identity. The Secretary had no less but promised their presence, as non invasive as possible. But Julia had noticed and then absorbed the answers he had given about his training, studying them.
He had teased her about her methodicalness, however she had even deduced that one of them likely had cancer due to the dark moles on their back. He had stepped away from the pool, calling IMF. The agent was pulled, the diagnosis confirmed. He had stopped some of the teasing after that.
There was one agent on the detail she liked the best. Names were strictly fake, but she had cornered the agent once and had a nice conversation on the nature of entropy in corporate systems. He had chuckled at the time of how she had scared the living daylights out of said agent by surprising him, but he had to agree from his lounge chair a few feet away, that the voice was soothing.
They had nicknamed him Blue for his eyes because "Jack" sure as hell didn't fit. It was cheesy, but Julia spoke of him in fondness since the others were too stiff in her opinion. Ethan had tried to gently remind her it was their job to protect, not interact, but she paid no mind.
Blue was the mission lead, meaning he wasn't around much. Familiar with the position and what it entailed, Ethan knew the man was nearby watching and feeding information. But on the rare occasions he showed his face, it was clear why Mrs. Hunt liked him.
Tall, with defined features. Muscled, but lean as most agents were so they could fight and run. Brown hair that showed signs of being well kept, but overgrown because of their location. The five o'clock shadow was definitely a draw, since Ethan knew his wife liked it scratching the inside of her thighs.
But really, the rash IMF agent knew it was the man's eyes. They were a mixture of blue and green, like the waves that featured their honeymoon. The eyes were intelligent, always scanning for new information even when the man himself was trying to relax. After than initial conversation, Julia had wanted to speak to him more, but he warned her that the agent would be removed if he thought he was compromised. She had understood, though she still sent him drinks.
Blue's eyes would crease in amusement and a little worry to the point that Ethan worried for his sanity. Knowing that one of the people you were trying to protect was sending you drinks had to send warning signs, but the man must of been ignoring it.
Though the potential conflict of interest he stayed, leading to Ethan liking his more rougish style. Because even when they went from the honeymoon to London, then to China, then finally Croatia Blue followed. He was a shadow, comforting; everytime they moved locations it seemed like Julia unpacked, but only the last weight was off her shoulders when she saw him.
Despite the assumption many made, Ethan Hunt was not a jealous man when it came to her. Maybe his work where his ego was stored, but not her. She was so confident in him and their marriage it radiated to him. And Blue...Blue just slotted into their routine. It was his assignment, but it was personalized.
If they had forgotten milk at the store, it appeared on their doorstep from their "neighbor" who knew their favorite brand. Once a drunk had tried hitting on her while he had been getting drinks. He had turned around with her arm on his, pointing to see the man being thrown out, followed by Blue who had scanned the room before leaving.
Despite the dangers, he found himself attached to the man as his wife was. Blue was professional, detail oriented, but wasn't overbearing as many agents could be on the assignment. Intelligence came naturally with him and Ethan felt confident he could fight with the man if needed. Though he did not have a name to go with the face, just have someone consistent in their detail comforted him.
And then one day in Croatia, she had started their game up again.
The locals didn't give them much material, so she moved to their detail. It was a three man unit, and the two visible as they went into town were ordinary. One was bald and muscular, standing out with the other tourists. He wasn't bad looking, but obviously just going through the motions. He had been with them since India, but Ethan had no desire to learn more about him and the feeling seemed mutual. Julia herself wasn't that interested since the agent lacked hair for her to imagine running her fingers through.
The other was new to their detail, younger than the others. Almost too young, which distressed Julia. He assured her that IMF would send anyone into the field who wasn't qualified. Internally he winced at his partial lie, knowing that talent in one area was seen as a compensate for other deficiencies. However seeing the young woman snooping around the shops selling plants and chemistry supplies, he knew her ability with poison made up for a lot.
She was mildly attractive, her hair pulled back in a long braid, a fact Julia pressed upon and teased him about. Ethan had turned to his wife and cupped her face, telling her that no woman compared so trying to ask him was futile. She grinned at that and went back to something they both found mutually attractive. Going from stall to stall, picking out ingredients for dinner, he elbowed her at one of the shopkeepers.
The worker was around his height, dark hair and eyes that were full of life. She cocked her head to consider it and engaged the man in conversation about his wares. This eventually dissolved into a bartering war over potatoes and spices, which eventually lacked the playful banter that it had. Her shoulders were tense and he knew she had settled the shopkeep in the no category of their game.
They had no want for money, but the fact that the worker seemed eager to jump into the argument rankled her. So she gathered the food and paid, ignoring any other attempts by the Croatian native to engage her. He stood by, taking the bag from her as they moved along. To break her out of the mood, he asked of her opinion and the rant that came afterwards had them both laughing at the end.
She went on and on about how the other man wasn't her type and how idiotic he was to think that he had a chance after jumping down her throat at the first chance. He had teased her, asking then what was her type?
She took her time dramatically describing him to a tee, including his open shirt and tussled air. Rolling his eyes, Ethan had asked for a description other than him. He accused her of cheating when Julia started again describing him in lesser detail. She wrinkled her nose, deep in thought as she scanned the passerbyers.
There was a nose here, a beard there, muscles and soft features. But nothing seemed like the whole package; he prided himself on constructing a task that took her a minute. Continuing to wander, they looked at miniature sailboats and it seemed she had a spark of inspiration.
"Well, someone who has a certain air to them." She said, hand on her chin like she was considering the idea herself.
He had questioned it, wondering exactly what she meant. She responded that it was a thing you noticed when they entered the room, like he had. Ethan thought it over, thinking if she mean competent confidence, or ego in his case.
It was then that someone interrupted their couple thought. He immediantly tucked her to his side and squiveled so he would take the person head on. It was instinct at this point, something that Blue found amusing.
"You forgot your change ma'am." Dropping the coins into her cupped hands, their guardian angel nodded to them both and left. The Hunts watched him weave back through the crowds, tapping the younger agent on the shoulder to pull her back from her chemical distraction. Then Blue tucked from sight, where they assumed he was before it started.
Julia looked at the change, muttering about how it was the difference she had been bartering with the food vendor about, then looked to her husband. Ethan admitted to himself he had not even seen the man appear, let alone get that close to him. Maybe it was a testament to how he didn't see the man as a threat.
"Someone like that." She said, answering his previous question. And he thought about it, about the blue green eyes that radiated intelligence and calm under pressure. The professional but relaxed posture, as well as the recklessness to show himself to a woman who had seen him on the honeymoon. Maybe Blue knew they knew and it was just one big game of being content with the situation being imperfect.
Regardless, Ethan understood Julia's type. It didn't surprise him when she turned towards him and asked if he liked the man as well. He diverted the answer, because he didn't want to go down the road if they both liked him. It was too much risk, too much conflict of interest. Though, as she said later, Blue was likely excellent in bed. It was a shame Ethan knew the industry and what it was capable of.
His trepidation on the subject proved right a few weeks later when there was an assassination attempt foiled on their lives. The younger agent was a double agent, attempting to poison their food. Between Blue and the other agent she was subdued and carted off, but it was too close for comfort. The situation of their lives was too chaotic for what Julia deserved, so Ethan brought up his plan.
Julia fought him tooth and nail, and the argument likely worried their neighbors as well as the entire town. She wanted to stay with him, no matter what, and was willing to risk it. He was not, as she was too precious. In the end she relented, knowing that she only way he could live was knowing she was regret with the plan was knowing what it would do to Blue.
And Ethan, knowing that they had been this close to bringing him in closer, bit his tongue and mourned the loss of the agent in their lives.
The morning of that day, he kissed her and despite her tears tore himself away. Settling a mask of normalcy on his features, he started his run. He knew Blue would follow as he normally did. That left two trusted agents with Julia and Luther standing by to whisk her away.
Running was normally just an everyday occurrence, but his anguish at losing his wife was bubbling up inside. He knew it was the right plan that would keep her safe, but everything he was not was in the process of getting on a private plane. Ideally he would never see her again and that hurt even more.
Blue was trailing him closer than usual, maybe it was because of the argument the nights before. He was concerned for them; regret bubbled for the grief it would cause the other man. Ethan shook his head, trying to shake the need to account for his decisions from his mind; this was the right choice.
It was almost time to head back and kick off the conspiracy to keep her safe. Perhaps he could prepare Blue for it, shock him into high alert. Ducking behind a tree, he grabbed the other man as he passed and pressed him into a tree.
He had never been this close. And despite the fact that Ethan was radiating tension and likely hostility, he couldn't help but notice the delicate eyelashes and softer feature of the concerned man looking back at him. In the back of his mind he lamented a lot of things, including that he was losing his wife and that they were losing Blue.
He dropped the man and went back to the "horror" that awaited him. He ignored the man's reaction to the scene, going through the motion of a distraught husband. The serbians he was to kill were on IMF's hit list, so it fit the narrative and an agency goal. But he still had to sell it.
And he did, which landed him in a prison that he was then broken out of. Honestly the structure was good to help him deal with the hole she left. Jane and Benji breaking him out was unexpected, but he had motivation rather than depression to drive him. Their mission in the Kremlin went spectacularly wrong and he ended up in a familiar position, speaking with the Secretary about one of his fuck ups. He would ask for the time to fix it blah blah blah.
As the Secretary spoke, Ethan had shifted his attention to the passenger. One William A Brandt, who regarded him with silent anxiety. His eyes, a dull green with a dash of blue, studied him before speaking his turn. Brandt also correctly identified Cobalt, which was a point in his column. There just seemed to be something familiar about him that Hunt could not place.
He wasn't given the chance as the Secretary died and they were left swimming for their lives. They chit chatted and argued about his plan regarding the flare distraction, giving Ethan a closer look. He seemed familiar but it didn't match anyone in his immediant mind.
Then they were running, trying to get on a train bound for safety and of course the ever efficient IMF put a retinal scanner on a moving train. Cursing, the two followed and Brandt touched his shoulder to signal to move.
And it clicked who the man at least resembled, if not was.
He focused on getting on the train knowing he could analyze later. But the firm touch, which was gentle yet directive in nature showed that the man was more than an analyst. It wasn't enough to prove who he was, but it was enough to put him at ease. Competency was commendable even if he didn't know the whole story.
Finally they made it, the running commentary from the other man amusing his subconscious as he pinned himself to the side of the train finally unlocking it. Hauling the other man inside, they found his teammates with forehead lines of stress and worry, but no worse for wear.
Brandt kept throwing looks at him, before he took dry clothing to go change into. As the outside agent excused himself, Benji threw him a look that read "are we sure about him?"
Ethan had just wearily nodded, changing himself while gathering his wits. As the oldest and most experienced agent, he was the defacto team leader. The Secretary of the IMF was dead, Russia in a near war frenzy over the Kremlin bombing, and there were nuclear codes missing. Automatically his mind started to formulate the plan, despite the fact that there was more information to know.
His mind was drawn from the endangered world, to the newest man in his trope of agents with a deathwish. It couldn't be Blue, there was no way the IMF would let him anywhere near Ethan after the "disaster" in Croatia. There would probably be fears of retaliation on his part against the team leader that let Julia falsely perish.
But he was reminded enough of the past figure to consider the feelings he had tucked away before, of security that familiarity brought. Blue had been his equal in a ways and had the assassination attempt not occured...he had no doubt what Julia's intentions were. Hunt could not deny that while his own desires took a backseat, the opportunity to be reminded of a more peaceful and happy time was tempting.
It was reckless. The team didn't know the other man, he was alone if not with them, and they needed all the help they could get to save the world. Outside of that there was the obstacle of homophobia which could lead to Jane throwing the man off the train if there was a gay panic. Overall it was a bad idea.
He thought back to the last time he had been reminded of the past in a positive way and weighed the risk versus reward. No one had ever called Ethan a smart man, only a motivated one; he rose from his seat.
Jane, likely deep in her thoughts about Hanaway, barely gave him a glace. Benji twitched an eyebrow, causing Ethan to say something regarding checking on the lone wolf. The techie snickered and went back to the tech he had found on the train compartment.
He grabbed a long sleeve shirt as an excuse. As he approached the other compartment door, he considered if he really should be doing this or had a plan in place. Both answers were pretty solid nos, but he continued just in part to satisfy his curiosity about the other man. Brandt had been quiet, but professionally assertive in his knowledge during their ill fated car ride earlier. It differed from what he remembered of Blue, who was sedated with an undercurrent of playfulness.
But there were enough similarities to draw his attention.
Ethan triggered the door to open and was greeted with the sight of the other agent turning quickly to face away from him. Likely it was done to preserve modesty, which the older agent respected. He threw the shirt on the nearby bunk, noting his apologies for not have pants to replace the man's wet ones.
"It's fine." Brandt noted, making a weak gesture to compliment the words. The response was a sign that he was nervous, making Ethan tilt his head in interest.
The door shut behind Hunt, seemingly making the other man even more nervous. Did his reputation follow him that much? Perhaps there was another reason. The tension in the room didn't feel like fear, worry perhaps? Maybe attraction, which would account for the looks the other man had been throwing him earlier, was the root. Brandt could be worried about being found out, being rejected. Ethan decided to prove that wrong, for Brandt's sake of course.
He reached out and pushed William Brandt up against the wall.
In the back of his mind, Hunt knew that he was rationalizing the situation in his favor. That he was being selfish in his plan to try and stem his continued grief over Julia by replacing her with a lookalike of their crush. He was abusing his power as a senior agent in a time where they should be planning to stop Cobalt. He also knew he still had time to turn back, reject his half baked desires and focus.
Instead he decided he could do it all, as he normally did, and whispered to the man not to punch him. A moment later, he kissed a blue eyed copycat and wished Julia was there. The man stiffened as he went through some of the same motions he had with her, relishing the contact.
The next time he kissed him, to his surprise and secret satisfaction, Brandt kissed back. Now he could focus.