Disclaimer: I don't own or have rights to any of this.

Summary: Brendan battles illness as he and Freya try to gather enough evidence to assure the conviction of a drug-dealing cop killer. This is meant as a sequel to Kriadydragon's (Stealth Dragon) "Much Needed Company" (read at Matterothemind community at livejournal) and builds on the background she created for Brendan. If you haven't read it – GO NOW!! MANY thanks to her for letting me tag her awesome story and for all of her help!

Inside Out – Chapter 1

by Titan5

Glancing at Brendan's empty desk, Freya frowned, quickly shifting her eyes to the clock for what felt like the fortieth time. It was 8:15. Brendan was late. Brendan Dean was never late. Obsessively early on a regular basis, but never late. Something had to be wrong.

Freya took a deep breath and walked over to his desk to pick up the phone. The receiver was barely to her ear when the elevator arrived and she heard him, or rather his thoughts, radiating out from behind the opening doors.

Oh, crap, I'm so late. I can't believe I'm so late, late, late. Why won't the stupid doors open?

A smile automatically crossed her face as she replaced the receiver and crossed her arms, trying to look stern at the panicked man scurrying out of the elevator before the doors were completely open. The stern look didn't last very long when she caught sight of him.

He'd been back to work almost two weeks now after a battle with pneumonia and losing his mother, but he still didn't look well. He'd only gained back a couple of the pounds he'd lost while sick, and he'd lost quite a few. He'd fought the illness for several days before it finally worsened enough to be called pneumonia and his mother's funeral had only set him back at a time when he was beginning to recover. His color had been better the past few days, but he was back to ghost white this morning and his face was pinched with pain.

"Brendan?"

He threw his coat over the back of the chair as he began almost randomly rummaging through the neat stacks on his desk. "Sorry, I know I'm late, I got up late and then everything went to hell in a handbag," he rambled.

"Brendan," she said again, more forcefully this time.

The frantic motion stopped and he looked up at her, his body tense, but stilled. "What?"

Smiling, Freya breathed out a little sigh. "Calm down. Do you want some coffee?"

"No," he said, pointing to the water bottle he'd apparently brought with him. "I've got some water."

Freya frowned at him again, her concern etching upward. "Why are you late?" she asked suspiciously, already getting a glimmer of an idea.

A guilty look crossed her partner's face just about the time the image flashed through his mind. "I spilled something and had to change." The image told a different story, one of him vomiting onto the kitchen floor, splashing some on his shoes and pant legs. Freya hardened her expression to one more of annoyance than sympathy, letting him know he was caught. Crap! This isn't fair. Stupid mind replays.

She almost grinned. Almost. "Why on earth did you come in if you were sick?" she asked, knowing he'd have some pat answer.

"I wasn't sick," he said defensively as he dropped into the chair.

Snorting loudly, Freya sat in the chair beside the desk. "Looked that way to me. Let me see, vomiting on the floor. Yep, sick."

Brendan glared at her for a moment. "I was emptying the garbage," he mumbled.

"What?"

"I said I was emptying the garbage. I was on the way out the door and I remembered that the garbage hadn't been taken out in several days and I didn't want it to start stinking." He crinkled his nose, remembering vividly the smell. "When I opened the lid . . . let's just say it was too late to prevent the whole stinking thing. My stomach is still a little flaky and . . . I just kind of lost it."

Freya eyed him critically, searching for any sign of a lie. "And the only thing that made you throw up was the smell of the garbage."

Unbidden images of Brendan heaving violently into the toilet flashed quickly through his mind, making Freya shudder. "Only garbage, huh? That was a load of garbage all right." Part of her was angry as she leaned forward and placed her hand up to his forehead, only to have him jerk back from her touch.

"Not here," he warned tightly. "I'm fine, just . . . had something disagree with my stomach. It happens." His expression almost dared her to make more of it than that.

She was at least relieved to find he had no fever in her brief touch of his cool, clammy skin, but she still worried. He looked ill and she could tell he felt ill, even if he wouldn't verbalize it. He'd been through so much lately, both physically as well as emotionally. He didn't need another round of illness, with doctors and medicine and all the things that made him nervous. He was still so thin,

"What disagreed with your stomach? It couldn't be that bag of chips and coke you called lunch yesterday. And I'll bet you didn't bother with supper either, did you?" She wished she could hire someone to follow Brendan around and feed him good meals on a regular basis, at least until he packed some much-needed weight on his frame.

Smiling smugly, Brendan leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "I had a delicious chicken and broccoli casserole for dinner, with salad and garlic bread."

Freya couldn't stop her mouth from dropping open. "You actually went home and cooked?"

"I didn't say I cooked, just that I ate. Mrs. McCracken down the hall fed me."

Tilting her head a bit, Freya tried to remember ever seeing or hearing about a Mrs. McCracken. She got nothing.

Ha! Gotcha! Brendan continued to smile at her. "The reason you don't recognize the name is because she just moved in last week. When I got off the elevator last night, she was trying to get her key in the door with this huge box in her arms and I helped her."

"She fed you a big dinner for helping her with her keys?" asked Freya incredulously.

Shrugging his shoulders, Brendan uncrossed his arms. "Well, not just for that. When I carried the box in her apartment, it was kind of a mess. Furniture was just stacked around in no certain order and she's like sixty or something, so she was having a hard time getting it where she wanted. I helped her with the heavy stuff for a couple of hours and when we were done, she insisted I stay to eat."

Grinning, Freya nodded. That was the Brendan she knew and had come to care about. "That was nice of you. Does she not have any relatives around here?"

Brendan shook his head. "Nah, she said her husband died about ten years ago and they never had kids. It's just her. She recently sold her house for an apartment so she wouldn't have to worry about maintenance and upkeep so much. I thought she seemed kind of lonely." He looked up and into her smiling face. "What?" he asked, almost blushing.

"You're a good egg, you know that?"

Brendan cringed. "A good egg? Who says that any more?"

"Me. And you are. But back to the food, do you think you got food poisoning?"

"No, I think it was just me and my stupid stomach. By the time we ate, I was starved and it was really good, so I kind of stuffed it in. I haven't been eating that much at one time since . . . you know, since I was sick. And I haven't had anything that rich in a while; the thing was loaded with cheese. I think the combination of eating a large quantity of rich food way too fast just wreaked havoc with my digestive system." Wincing, he rubbed his stomach lightly. "Stomach's kind of sore, but I actually feel a little better."

Letting out a long breath, Freya studied him a moment. "I still say you look like you should be in bed."

"Freya, I'm fine," he drawled, his eyes shifting to Terri Merriweather as she hurried to his desk.

"Police just picked up Mark Greyson," she said seriously before doing a double-take at Brendan. "You okay, Brendan? Because you don't look so good."

Freya fought the smile she felt fighting to get out. Brendan slid his eyes her way. Don't say it. "I'm fine. Tell me about Greyson."

Terry didn't look convinced, but she shook her head and went on. "He showed up at his house about twenty minutes ago and they were waiting for him. He's at the 42nd on West Markham Street. Oh, and your search warrant came through a few minutes ago too. Looks like you're going to have a busy day."

Brendan was already on his feet and grabbing his coat. "Thanks, Terri. Have Kunzel take some guys down to Greyson's house and I'll meet them there after we talk to him. He'll know what to look for." He glanced at Freya as he passed her. "Coming?"

Sighing in irritation, she flashed Terri a brief scowl, only to have the woman respond with an innocent shrug and a weak smile. "Hey, I'm just the messenger."

"I know," Freya said as she whirled around to follow Brendan.

She could barely keep up with his thoughts on the drive to the station as he almost frantically ran through the case in his mind. Mark Greyson was the apparent head of a drug ring that stretched into five states. Some of the illicit chemicals were imported and others were made at various locations scattered across his domain. Months of investigation had culminated in a raid on one of his manufacturing and storage warehouses four days ago, at a time when they knew he would be on hand to be taken down. In spite of all their precautions, he had managed to slip out the back, but not before killing an agent. Brendan had witnessed the cold-blooded murder, something that had haunted his thoughts ever since, but hadn't been able to pursue Greyson in order to try and help Agent Porter. It occurred to her that Porter's death might be one reason Brendan was having stomach problems again.

They jolted to a stop in the precinct parking lot and Freya avoided looking at Brendan. His mind was a mess right now and she knew he was trying to organize his thoughts before confronting Greyson. Hearing his door open, she swung hers open and got out of the car. Taking a deep breath, she closed the door and looked over the roof of the car, expecting to see her partner looking back at her. Nothing. She walked slowly around the back of the vehicle to find him sitting sideways in the seat, his feet on the pavement and bent over double, hands clutched to his stomach.

"Brendan!" She quickly knelt down beside him, grasping his forearm. "Brendan, what's wrong?"

It's okay . . . just my stomach. It'll pass in a minute. He let his head drop the remaining two inches to meet his knees with a grunt.

"Brendan, we need to get you home . . . or maybe to a doctor."

The tension in his body relaxed slightly, his arms loosening their hold on his midsection, and he lifted his face from his legs. "No." It's getting better. Just give me another minute.

Gripping his arm even more firmly, Freya frowned at him. "I'm serious, Brendan, you're sick. You can't do this right now."

Brendan managed to pull himself up into a sitting position, leaning forward slightly with one hand still on his stomach. His face was lined with both pain and determination. "Yes, I can. I have to do this. I watched Greyson shoot Bryce in the face at point blank range, like he was nothing. He didn't have to kill him, but he did, because it was easier. I went with them to tell Carmen that he wasn't coming home. He . . . " Brendan's voice choked and trailed off for a moment while he tried to pull himself back together. Pictures flashed through his mind, making Freya shudder. He closed his eyes and Freya clearly saw a woman with long, blonde hair holding a blonde girl of about three open the door to Brendan, Kunzel, and Director Harper. Brendan shook his head, erasing the image from his mind as he stood up and leaned heavily against the roof of the car.

Freya knew when Brendan was this determined, all she could do was provide as much back-up and support as possible. "Fine, we'll go do the interview. But then we take you home."

Much steadier on his feet than moments before, Brendan closed the car door and locked it before turning to face her. "Thanks. Look, I just . . ." He rubbed the back of his head for a moment. "I need to be the one to confront him. He probably doesn't realize anyone saw him, so I need to shake him up a bit. I need you to see if he'll give away any other information that might help us, like the location of his gun. The more evidence we have, the less likely he ends up walking away from this like all the other times we thought we had him."

Freya nodded. "I know. We need to shut him down."

"Yes, before he kills someone else." Brendan's mind flashed briefly back to the shooting, making him wince.

Freya wished Brendan's memory wasn't quite so good, quite so detailed. She couldn't even begin to imagine the nightmares he must have been having lately. "But after we talk to Greyson, we take you home."

"If I don't feel better and if he doesn't give us anything we can use. I'd still like to take a look at his house."

"Brendan! That's too many ifs."

"Best I can do," he said as he began walking quickly to the front door of the police station.

"You're impossible, you know that?" she retorted as she followed him into the building. Some days she thought Brendan Dean would be the death of himself.

Fifteen minutes later, Mark Greyson was escorted into an interrogation room and guided to the seat across the table from them. He was in his mid-thirties, with dirty blonde hair that was at least twice as long as Brendan's and three times as messy. He had several days growth of scraggly beard on him as he glared at them with beady, brown eyes. "I'll be suing all of you for false arrest when you have to let me go for lack of evidence." Why do they continue to think they can catch me? How afraid of this skinny corpse and his hot girlfriend am I supposed to be? These guys suck at intimidation.

Brendan sat calmly, a small smile on his face, drumming his fingers lightly on the table. After a few seconds, he shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever makes you happy, but I don't think your case will get very far. Not with an eye witness to cold-blooded murder. That also ties you to all the drugs and weapons in that warehouse, by the way. I think it's much more likely that you'll be going away until you're old enough to be a great grandpa. We just stopped by to rub salt in the wounds."

Greyson narrowed his eyes at Brendan. "What eye witness? If it's some druggie or one of the warehouse people, those aren't what I'd call reliable witnesses."

Brendan's smile widened a little. She could almost feel his heart pounding in his chest. Either the pain in his stomach was almost gone or he was no longer aware of it over the rush of confronting Greyson. "How about a federal agent? Think a judge and jury will find that to be a reliable witness?"

Greyson scowled for a moment before leaning back in his chair and breaking out into a grin. "You're bluffing. You ain't got no witness. You ain't got nothing."

The smile on Brendan's face dissolved into a hard, cold expression that made Freya nervous. He leaned forward until he was practically in Greyson's face. "You're wrong . . . again. I was in that warehouse and I saw you shoot Agent Porter in the face. No warning, no attempt to evade him, just shot him point blank in the face."

He could be lying. I didn't see anyone . . . but I got out of there pretty quickly after that, so I suppose it might be possible. Greyson silently studied Brendan for several moments. "I still think you're lying."

Brendan glared at the man, keeping his expression neutral and his breathing even. In his mind, he was rounding the corner to see Bryce Porter making his way down an aisle of large crates, his gun held out in front of him. Brendan opened his mouth to let the agent know he was joining him, when Greyson stepped out from behind a crate, shooting Porter square in the face before the agent had so much as a split second to react. The splattering blood and falling body played in slow motion in his head, while Greyson turned and ran. Brendan tried for a shot at the fleeing fugitive as he ran for Porter, but he was never able to get a clear shot around the stored boxes. He heard the back door slam open as he knelt beside Porter to look for the pulse he knew wouldn't be there.

"You were wearing a light blue button up shirt, second button missing. The left side was tucked into your Wrangler jeans, but the right side wasn't. Brown cowboy boots and a dark green coat with brown cuffs and collar. Were you able to get the blood out, or did you have to ditch the clothes?"

Greyson's mouth dropped open. Son of a bitch, he was there. How does he remember all of that? How did he even see that much? He gets on the witness stand with details like that and I'm a dead man. Which means I have to make sure he never makes it to the witness stand.

Eyes growing wide, Freya glanced at Brendan and then back at Greyson. "Agent Dean has testified at many trials in the past and he's been threatened by some of those people. He knows how to take care of himself."

Brendan and Greyson both looked at her with a slightly confused frown on their face, their thoughts reflecting their expressions. "I'm just saying," she said lamely.

Brendan turned back to Greyson, but the killer continued to stare at her. It's almost like she could read my mind. He grinned and shook his head. What am I thinking? No one can read minds. Greyson looked back to Brendan, smirking a bit as he leaned back in his chair. "Still, accidents happen."

Freya was proud of Brendan, who didn't react to the threat other than a small shoulder shrug. "That's true, Greyson. Accidents do happen, in prison as well as out. Don't suppose you'd like to clear your conscience by telling me where you put the gun. We'll find it eventually, but it would be easier if you just told me."

Recognizing the stimulus Brendan was using to goad Greyson into thinking of the gun, Freya concentrated on the murder's thoughts. Suddenly he was kneeling on a wooden plank floor and using a knife to lift one of the old, finished boards. Pulling the board out of the way, he picked up a faded red towel and opened it, revealing a gun inside. Freya heard him snicker to himself as he folded the towel back over the weapon and placed it in the hole under the floor. Quickly replacing the board, he stood and stomped it back down with his booted foot and then covered it with a small woven rug. She couldn't tell much about the room, other than it looked like an old structure with one window visible and some junk piled around the edges. Then the memory was gone.

"If there was a gun," taunted Greyson, "and I'm not saying there is, it would be in a place you would never find it. Ever. Guess you'd just better pray nothing happens to you before the trial, because without your testimony, you're high and dry."

Looking at Freya, Brendan raised his brow in a questioning look. "I think we're done here," she said with a smile. Brendan looked relieved as he turned back to Greyson.

"Okay, guess we're done. I'll see you at the trial."

"We'll see," said Greyson.

Brendan and Freya stood and nodded to the guard, who let them out of the room. As soon as they had walked a few steps down the corridor, Brendan turned with his back to the wall and leaned over, his hands leaning against his thighs just above his knees.

"Brendan?" Freya could almost feel the waves of pain rolling through his gut.

I'm okay, just need to catch my breath.

"You're not okay. I'm taking you home," she said forcefully, taking him by the arm.

Brendan resisted her tugging, but did manage to stand more upright, one hand going to his stomach. "It is better, believe it or not. Stomach still kind of hurts, but the nausea is pretty much gone. I need to know what you saw. We need to find that gun." His eyes held her, his gaze unwavering.

Greyson's calculated thought about getting rid of Brendan made her shudder. "You know he's going to try to have you killed, right?"

"I kind of figured." Brendan grinned impishly at her. Worried about me?

Crossing her arms, Freya glared at him. "Someone has to worry about you, since you obviously don't worry about yourself."

"Don't need to," said Brendan with a smirk. "You worry enough for both of us. Look, I'll be careful, I promise. Now, I really need to know what you learned about that gun. Let's get out of here and you can tell me on the way to Greyson's house." He pushed off the wall and began walking down the dingy, narrow corridor.

They arrived at Greyson't house twenty-five minutes later. Freya had filled Brendan in about Greyson's memory on the way and they were both hoping she would recognize something in the house. Brendan flashed his badge at the police officer who approached them as they got out of their car. Two patrol cars and two unmarked cars were parked in the driveway.

Kunzel met them at the open door with a grim expression. "We've almost searched every inch of this place and nothing. No drugs, no guns, no money. He's either very good or he's got another place somewhere. Did you get anything from your little talk?"

"I got a death threat, but Freya might have something. We need to look around inside."

"Be my guest," said Kunzel, waving his hand dramatically across the living room. "By the way, Dean, you look like . . ." He paused and glanced at Freya. "Uh, crap."

Freya stifled a broad grin, knowing that was not the word he had intended to say. Brendan rolled his eyes, obviously not needing mind-reading skills to figure out the same thing.

"Thanks, Kunzel, I had no idea," he said wryly.

Laughing, Kunzel patted him on the shoulder. "No problem. Let me know if you guys find anything." Brendan watched as the agent walked across the room to talk to one of the men currently searching through the end-table drawers.

"Let's look around," said Brendan. "Let me know if you see anything that looks familiar."

They walked into each room, looked around a moment, and Freya shook her head. Mostly she looked at the floors and none of them appeared even remotely like the one in Greyson's mind. Kunzel was at the front door when they returned and Brendan just shook his head.

"Looks like we struck out too," Brendan said. "This guy is really starting to get under my skin."

"Yeah, well, it's not just you," said Kunzel sadly. "I think we all want him pretty badly."

They stood in silence for a few minutes, looking at the floor. Brendan and Kunzel were having similar thoughts about needing to get Greyson for killing Bryce Porter, about needing to find closure for his wife and child, and about missing a friend and co-worker.

Brendan cleared his throat and looked back up at Kunzel. "We're going to head back to the office."

Freya's head jerked up. "We are? I thought I was taking you home. Stomach . . . remember?"

His expression hardening, Brendan shook his head. "No, I'm fine. Greyson obviously has another place somewhere and we need to find it. We need that gun."

"Yes, we need the gun. But if we don't find it, we still have you."

Brendan looked at her for a moment and Kunzel was unusually silent. "We need something else. We need physical evidence," said Brendan.

"Why?" asked Freya, glaring at her partner.

There's always a chance something could go wrong and I can't testify. You know how things are . . . how unpredictable. She winced at his memory of Bryce being shot and he looked away, avoiding her gaze. "We need to go. The sooner we get back, the sooner we'll find something." He brushed past her, walking quickly toward the car.

Kunzel shifted uncomfortably. Smooth, Dean. Piss her off and leave me standing here. "He, uh, gets like this . . . you know, when he's feeling stressed out over a case. He'll be okay."

Freya smiled, appreciating the fact that Kunzel was trying to smooth things over, in his own inept way. "I know, I'm his partner, remember. I just worry about him sometimes."

Kunzel glanced around at Brendan climbing into the car. "We all do." He turned to face her, his expression serious, but genuine. "Keep after him. You're good for him and he needs that, whether he's aware of it or not."

Smiling, Freya nodded. "Thanks, I will." She turned and sprinted for the car, which was now running. She could see Brendan impatiently drumming his fingers along the top of the steering wheel, but she still smiled. Annoyed as he was, he still hadn't left her.

oOo

Freya set the sack down on the edge of Brendan's desk as he rubbed his eyes and looked up at her. "I got you a plain turkey sandwich, thinking it might be easy on your stomach," she said as she pulled the food out and set it in front of him.

Brendan looked down at the sandwich uncertainly. His stomach felt better right now than it had all day and he was afraid to send it back into spasms by sticking food in it too soon. He looked up at Freya to find her watching him closely.

"You said you were okay, so eat," she said, motioning toward the food.

"I just don't want any repeat performances." He looked back down at the paper wrapping and realized he was getting hungry. Sighing, he unwrapped the deli sandwich and cautiously took a bite. The smell and taste only made him more hungry, so he chewed with renewed vigor. Looking around his desk, he spotted his water bottle and washed the bite down with the tepid liquid, only to find Freya grinning at him. "What?"

"You actually are better . . . and hungry."

Brendan grinned. Yes, I am. Thanks for lunch and . . . "I'm sorry about being grouchy earlier. I just hate being . . . looked after."

"I kind of figured that one out a while ago," Freya replied. "But sometimes you need a little looking after. Besides, it's not like you've never looked after me. Remember when I sprained my ankle a few months ago. You waited on me hand and foot for two days."

Brendan chuckled briefly before taking another bite. After he'd chewed and swallowed, he nodded. "I did take care of you then, didn't I? Of course it was the least I could do since you sprained it trying to warn me about Williams having a gun."

"See," she teased. "We take care of each other." She was relieved to see Brendan's disposition had improved. That, combined with the way he was wolfing down the sandwich, made her smile as the tension eased from her shoulders. "You must be starved. I rarely see you eat like this."

Taking another swig of his water, Brendan glanced down at the sandwich, which was now over half gone. "I was. I guess digging through all this paperwork really worked up an appetite. I told you my stomach was better."

"Well, it's about time. You were starting to look like a scarecrow."

Brendan narrowed his eyes as he chewed. That was just mean.

Freya just smiled as she popped a couple of chips in her mouth. They ate the rest of the meal in silence, wadding their paper up as they finished and tossing it in the trash can. Brendan brushed a few stray crumbs from his desk, adding them and his water bottle to the garbage. "Back to work," he mumbled as he opened the folder and began sifting through the papers.

Freya grabbed the next folder from the stack and began her own scrutiny of the forms and papers within. A few minutes later, the desk rattled, causing her to look up at Brendan.

Oh, crap! The only thing she had time to notice before he jumped up so fast he sent his chair spinning was how white his face was. He was gone almost instantly. When she finally registered what had happened, she got up and headed for the hallway he'd disappeared down, pausing just outside the men's bathroom door. She was trying to decide whether she should burst in or not, when Agent Patel came out, his face scrunched up in disgust.

"Is Brendan in there?" she asked.

He nodded. "He should really go home, uh, when he's done puking." I almost lost my own lunch.

Grimacing, Freya nodded at the door. "Anyone else in there?"

"Nope, just Dean. Luck."

Freya took a deep breath and walked in. She passed a row of urinals, making her way to the two stalls near the back of the room. Peering into the open door of the first, she found Brendan sitting in the floor, his forehead resting on his arm, which was slung across the toilet. His eyes were closed and he was panting, as if trying to catch his breath.

"Brendan?"

He lifted his head and opened his mouth as if to speak, but quickly turned to lean over the toilet bowl as he began heaving. Freya grabbed several paper towels and dampened them in the sink. When Brendan finally stopped with an exhausted groan, she handed him the towels. Wiping his face, he handed her the wad of damp paper with a shaking hand.

Thanks. Now go away.

Freya threw the used towels away and crossed her arms as she turned back to him. "I'm not going anywhere, unless it's to take you home." Brendan's head was now resting on the edge of the toilet bowl, making Freya cringe. She was glad they had the cleanest bathroom in the state, or at least close to it.

I'd let you, but I don't think I can get up.

The confession both startled and scared her and she kneeled down beside him, placing her hand on his back and rubbing gently. "Take a minute to rest and then I'll help you. I think maybe we should stop by the hospital."

Brendan's head shot up, making her jump. "No, Freya . . . no hospital." His mind was once again filled with images of himself as a child, looking small and frail in the hospital bed while his mother hovered nearby. I just need to go home and lie down. I'll be okay.

The sound of the door opening caused them both to look around. Freya sucked in a quick breath at the sight of Director Harper standing just inside the doorway. "Uh, sir, I can explain," she stammered as she stood up.

What in . . . Harper frowned and then looked curious as he slowly walked over to stand beside her. When he caught sight of Brendan in the floor, his expression eased. "Dean, dare I ask what you're doing down there?" My god, he's white as a sheet.

Clearing his throat, Brendan tried to sit up straighter. "Uh . . . throwing up, sir," he said sheepishly.

Harper stared down at him for a second before shifting his gaze to Freya, who gave him a small nod. "I'll see that he gets home."

Looking relieved, Harper glanced back down at his top agent, currently looking more like a washed out dishrag than a federal agent. I hope I haven't pushed him too hard and made him sick again. Poor kid's been through enough lately. "Dean, go home. You look like death warmed over. Or maybe just death. And don't come back until you're well . . . as in not sitting in the bathroom floor puking."

Brendan managed to use the door of the stall as leverage to get himself up off the floor. Freya was a bit surprised to see him able to accomplish that and apparently Harper was too. "I'll be fine, sir, just need some Pepto and a nap." Brendan tried to smile, but the discomfort he was obviously still feeling caused it to look more like an evil grimace.

Harper snorted loudly and shook his head. "It'll take more than that, Agent Dean. We have Greyson in custody. There's no need to run yourself into the ground. Stay home a couple of days and get over . . . whatever this is." Harper wrinkled his nose. "Please, for all our sakes."

Brendan watched Harper leave, his ashen face taking on that crestfallen look of a boy just told he couldn't play with his best friend. We still need to find that gun.

"Yes," Freya said, reaching over to flush the toilet. "But we don't have to find it today."

Brendan raised and then lowered his eyebrows, letting out a deep breath before staggering over to the sink to wash his hands. He then cupped his hand to catch the water so he could rinse his mouth out. When he turned the water off, Freya thrust a paper towel at him.

"Are you going to let me take you home and tuck you in, or do I have to get ugly about this?" she asked seriously.

Wadding the damp paper into a ball, he threw it at the waste can. "Fine, I'll go home . . . for now."

Freya watched the paper ball hit the wall and drop into the can. "Good, wise move Agent Dean." That brought Brendan's eyebrows up. "Do you have any Pepto at your apartment or should we stop at the store?"

Wincing, Brendan reached for the door. "I've still got some. I've had to keep a supply on hand lately. What I should have done is buy stock in the company." They walked out into the hall, earning a step back and some strange looks from a pair of secretaries heading into the women's restroom.

Brendan, ghostly pale and barely on his feet, dredged up a small smile from somewhere as he pointed to Freya. "She gets confused sometimes."

Sick or not, Freya punched him in the arm hard enough to get a grunt.

TBC