Admission

Brendan Dean hunched his shoulders and cleared his throat cautiously. He felt the urge to cough, the obnoxious tickle at the base of his throat but he refused to give it any ground. I am not getting sick, dammit.

"You look a little flushed, though," a quiet voice murmured nearby and Dean straightened up in his seat.

"You know, you really gotta quit sneaking up on my brain like that," he grumbled before craning his neck to look up and around at Freya McAlister. "Makes it really hard to talk myself outta stuff." Or to notice how hot that skirt makes your legs look.

Freya blushed, suddenly, and then from the crooked—albeit tired—grin on her partner's face, she realized Brendan had done that deliberately, and sick or not it earned him a swat on the shoulder.

"Seriously, you don't look so good," she said guardedly, her eyes sweeping over his features, which were pale as the snow falling outside save for the flushed cheeks, and the dulled look in the hazel eyes. "You probably have a fever and you're breathing all over everybody."

The cough made an appearance, much to Brendan's chagrin and he turned his head, coughing hard. Freya winced; it sounded painful and made the thin shoulders shake. Seeing that her lame attempt at humor was getting her nowhere, Freya quite simply walked around to the other side of Brendan's cubicle and pulled down his coat.

"I can't go home," Dean snapped irritably. "Not yet. There's still all this data we need to sift through from the satellite feeds, and Merriweather said there's a file on Kingsley that's coming from the FBI office in Sacramento. If we can..."

The sharp thunk on his desk had Brendan wincing a little and he unconsciously reached up to rub his temple with one hand as if he could scrub away the headache that pounded away there. When he deigned to open his eyes again and look down, he found a bottle of cough medicine sitting there.

"If you're going to insist on killing yourself, at least make it a little less painful on you." And us, Freya heard the thought but knew it was tempered with concern.

This time the voice belonged to Terri Merriweather and in her other hand she held a thick manila folder. Brendan sighed softly and reached up to rub his eyes. What is it with people sneaking up on me today? He pulled his hand away from his face and held it out for the folder. "Kingsley?" he asked, fully expecting the huge file to be on the drug and arms dealer.

"Yup," Merriweather said, bypassing the outstretched hand and plunking the heavy folder on top of the small stack Brendan already had sprawled over his desk. "Sacramento says there's plenty more where that came from anytime you want some of their cold cases."

Dean snorted in spite of himself, and immediately regretted it as a small stab of pain layered itself over the rhythmic throbbing in his head. "Right, like we don't have enough to worry about here already." He was already flipping the folder open and beginning to sift through the preliminary data.

Freya set aside his coat, recognizing it would take something more forceful to make Dean go home now, and she settled for pulling up a chair and holding out her hand. "Look I know I'm not as experienced but I could at least help you go through some of that," she said when he looked up at her. There was a concerned look in her eyes, and Brendan sighed.

"All right," he croaked, and cleared his throat. He handed her a stack. "Right now I'm looking for anything that might give us a connection between Kingsley and Khalid. That...would put...us..." The tickle was back and begging for attention; Brendan cleared his throat again, very cautiously in a bid to keep it from exploding into another round of coughing. Stupid cold.

"So you admit you're getting sick?" Freya asked lightly as she thumbed through documents, not looking up at him, but paying attention nonetheless. Brendan exhaled in frustration—and coughed. And coughed...and coughed. The hard spasms, once started were not easily stopped and he struggled to inhale in between them. Finally the coughing eased and he drew in a deep breath of sweet air.

"I...admit nothing," he said dryly, but the effect was spoiled by the raspy voice.

"Take the cold meds," Freya nodded toward the bottle Merriweather had parked on the desk, that Dean had so conveniently shoved aside with the manila folder. Brendan sighed.

"I don't need to be all fuzzy-headed," he complained, but reluctantly reached for the medication. Freya smiled in spite of herself.

"You're always fuzzyheaded," she replied teasingly, motioning the hair that was perpetually in disarray, and received the expected scowl in return, which only made her laugh a bit. "Couldn't resist," she said apologetically, then shrugged. "It works for you," she commented. Inwardly, however she was relieved he was at least taking the cold medicine.

Glad you think so, Dean grumbled mentally. I'm sure as hell not gonna shave it off.

The mental image that produced had Freya laughing again.

"Quit changing the subject," she said as seriously as she could—which was to say, not very—and put down the stack of papers. "You need to take care of yourself. It's not going to help the case if you drop dead in here, you know."

That seemed to do the trick; appealing to Dean's over-aggressive work ethic. Finally Brendan uncapped the bottle and fumbled with the little dose cup that came with it. The equivalent of two tablespoons slid down his throat and he winced a little. Swallowing was starting to hurt a bit. Somewhere in here...

"Second drawer, over on the right," Freya replied, reminding Brendan where he'd put a stash of sore throat drops. He pulled open the desk drawer, snatched one and popped it into his mouth, and then wadded up the wrapper and shot it at Freya.

Well, at least this way I wouldn't have to talk, Brendan admitted; a slight smile. Throat's a little sore.

"You should be in bed," McAlister charged, giving the dark-headed agent a knowing look. "Look, I'll make you a deal. You let me take you back to your place, you can get some rest. I'll get us lunch and we can go over this stuff together." She motioned to the Kingsley file. "Deal?"

Brendan had to admit, it sounded like a nice idea. A warm blanket, a soft pillow and a short nap sounded incredibly appealing to his aching head and sore body. He rubbed his chest slightly, sore from the multiple coughing fits, and finally gave in.

Okay, I'm sick. Happy now...?

"Only if you mean it," Freya smiled warmly and stood up. "Let's get you home."