Disclaimer: I don't own Thoughtcrimes or any of its characters, just having some fun with them. No infringement is intended.

A/N: Thoughts are in italics, and I know there are a few stretches in the story, but just think…it could happen…right? :D

End of the Case

Brendan sighed and rubbed his head as he looked at the files, papers, pictures, and other important data from the case he was presently working on scattered across his desk. This was his second week on the case and he felt like he was continually banging his head against a wall as every lead they found dead ended. They knew that there was an assassination attempt planned against Rachel Kistlen, a controversial judge, but they had next to no information besides that. Brendan felt like he had been going around in circles as he tried to figure out who was responsible, and when and where it was planned for. He felt like he was missing some vital piece of information and if he simply looked at the files one more time it would come to him.

Of course, he already had seven times with no new results and Freya was becoming irritated with him as he never seemed to get around to getting the sleep he had promised her he would get. She also kept saying he needed to eat more, and complained that he was losing weight. Brendan tried to explain to her that he simply wasn't very hungry lately, but she simply stared at him, plopped a deli sandwich on his desk and said she expected it to be eaten by the time she returned from interviewing their newest lead.

Brendan looked down at the partially eaten sandwich on his desk, his favorite type, and decided he should at least try to take another bite. However, his stomach was tied in knots and he kept having difficulties swallowing as he wondered if Harper was planning on kicking him off the case soon, since he was making no progress. Freya kept telling him he had nothing to worry about and that he was an excellent agent, but he knew that he was just one step away from being asked to resign.

Suddenly a painful cough interrupted his thoughts and Brendan rubbed his aching forehead. He grabbed for his bottle of cough syrup even as he remembered he had finished it yesterday night, and had not had a chance to go to a store and get more. He had originally planned on getting some more when he went home last night, but he had finally gotten the information he had requested from the FBI on their latest suspect and had to stay at the office to go over it. He did not leave the office until early this morning, and then he had just enough time to head home, take a shower, change, and get back to work, before his usual start time.

He hadn't told Freya about getting no sleep last night as he knew she would be upset. He was pretty sure that he had managed to not think about it any time when she was around him, so he was relatively sure that he was safe there…

Brendan realized his thoughts were wandering and turned his attention back to the files on his desk. His eyes roamed from one pile to the next going over what was in each file without even looking at them. One pile was filled with various suspects, while another had locations of special events Judge Kistlen was to be at in the next month. There was one pile with any background information they could find on Judge Kistlen, and beside it was a pile of all the possible motives they could think of for why someone would want to kill her. Brendan was distracted from going over the other piles of files on his desk as he saw Freya walking towards him.

"How did it go?"

"He doesn't know much, but as we suspected he was the one to transfer the weapon. He delivered it yesterday."

"Where or to whom did he deliver it?"

"He gave it to a man known as 'Trank'. The exchange took place on the docks at the corner of Robinson and Chastain late Friday night. He has no idea what the weapon is for, but he has worked with Trank before. I gathered from his thoughts that Trank always pays good money and he pays it on time."

Brendan was silent for a moment and then his mind started whirling and Freya could barely keep up with his thoughts. Suddenly he grabbed a paper from the pile of suspects that had a slightly blurred photo of a middle aged man with balding hair.

"Freya, what type of weapon did he deliver?"

"It was a M40A3 sniper rifle."

"That's it! Kaslov here used to be in the military and in all the hits that people have tried to associate with him; it is always some sort of military type weapon that is used. M40A3 is the standard sniper rifle used by Marines. Also, he is known to be one of the best in regards to payment. That's how he gets so many people to get him what he needs. It all fits!"

Even as Brendan said all this he was typing something on the computer. "Kaslov is not the type to carry his weapon far; he wants to have it on his person as little as possible. So, wherever he is hiding out it has to be near where the drop off was done…Perfect!" Brendan pointed at the computer as he spoke, "It's a warehouse that was abandoned for years until about two months ago when it was bought by a man who said he planned on tearing it down and building something else in its place. Yet, nothing has been done on it in that time. There is barely any information on the man. I would bet almost anything that is the place!"

For a moment Brendan was quiet as his incredible memory went over all the functions Judge Kistlen was supposed to attend this month. Finally, stopping on one that was planned to occur in three days.

"The benefit dinner taking place Saturday is probably when Kaslov will attack. Kaslov would never get the weapon too far in advance, though he would want it about a week before the event in case something goes wrong, which fits perfectly with when the weapon was delivered. Furthermore, in two weeks she is going to be proceeding over a controversial trial that Kaslov has interests in and her stance on this issue is decidedly against his interests. All we have to do now is get a warrant and takedown the warehouse."

As Brendan finally stopped talking Freya smiled at his obvious excitement. She was in wonder at how Brendan put together little pieces of information, let alone remember them all, but her smile faded as Brendan's long winded explanation caused him to erupt in a coughing fit.

Man, I really wish I had taken the time to get more cough syrup, but I really had needed to look at those files. Thought Brendan as Freya noticed the only half eaten sandwich on his desk.

Sighing in frustration at her partner's lack of care for his own health, she pointed towards the sandwich. "Brendan," she asked deceptively sweet, "what is that?"

Brendan looked at what she was pointing at, Crap! "Well…ummm…I had really planned on eating it all, and I started it, but then…ummm…I guess I kind of forgot. I mean…every time…" Brendan paused, there's no way I'm getting out of this one is there?

In answer to his thoughts, Freya said, "Not that I can see. Now, before you go and update Harper you need to eat that."

Brendan nodded and began eating it as his stomach untwisted a bit. Since, the chances of Harper reassigning him had diminished, now that he actually had made progress, the idea of food was enticing and Brendan realized he was actually pretty hungry.

As Brendan was momentarily preoccupied with the food, Freya took the opportunity to find out if Brendan had done as she asked and gone home to get sleep yesterday. "So, what time did you go home yesterday?"

Unprepared for the question Brendan was not ready to try to block the answer that popped in his mind or hide it under other thoughts. Five this morning is when I left…so does that really count as going home for yesterday or…" Suddenly realizing his mistake Brendan looked up to see Freya. "Hey, that wasn't fair! You purposely asked me that now; when you knew I was distracted. You are getting way too good at his whole interrogation thing."

Freya smiled slightly at his comments and compliments even as she worried about the toll this case was taking on him. She hoped this lead was right on, so that it would be over soon and she could force Brendan to relax some. It seemed that unless she babysat Brendan full time when he was on a difficult case she would never be able to get him to take care of his health.

Her thoughts were interrupted as Brendan stood up to brief Harper on all the intel they had gathered and the conclusion he had come to.

An hour later he returned. I don't get why Harper is ordering me home. I mean it isn't that late, and though I suppose Patel, Kunzel, and Merriweather will be able to figure out everything and get the warrant for tomorrow, I should be here with them. I am in charge of this case after all. He even said I wasn't allowed to come back to work until after lunch tomorrow. He kept acting like I'm the walking dead. I wonder why? I mean I just have a little cough.

At that moment Brendan broke into another vicious round of coughing. Okay…maybe not a little cough…

Freya laughed. "You think? So, Harper ordered you home for the day?"

"He seems to think I haven't gotten any sleep lately and won't be at my best for the takedown unless I get some rest."

"When should the takedown be taking place?"

"Well, apparently due to some special obstacles Kaslov has in place it will take a bit longer to get a warrant, but it shouldn't be a problem in the end. We just have to organize our data a little bit more. We should be able to take down the warehouse tomorrow afternoon."

"Great! However, I agree with Harper, you need to go home and get some sleep after you grab some more cough medicine."

"Fine, I'm going. I'll see you tomorrow Freya."

"Alright Brendan, but remember, don't come in until after lunch."

"But…" Brendan's sentence was interrupted by another round of coughing. When he could catch his breath he said, "…yeah…after lunch it is."

Freya smiled at him as he pulled on his coat and headed out of the office.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

As Brendan drove to a nearby pharmacy he hoped that the delay on taking out Kaslov at his warehouse didn't cause any problems. He knew that Kaslov had gained inside information in the past somehow, which allowed him to close up shop and disappear before anything could be pinned on him. Brendan wished he had a way to make sure that wouldn't happen this time; a way that he could at least know if Kaslov was trying to get out quickly…Then it came to him. There could be a stakeout by the warehouse. His mind quickly went over the options of who could do it and came up with a big blank. The agents he would trust to do the stakeout where all busy elsewhere, and there was no way he was trusting this important of a case to someone he didn't know…which left him.

He cringed knowing that Harper would never agree to let him be the one to do the stakeout and would insist on someone else. Yet, Brendan just couldn't have anyone who he didn't trust do it. Thus, he would simply have to do it without informing Harper of his plan.

As Brendan picked up his favorite cough syrup at the pharmacy he thought over how he was going to do this. He'd go home and take a shower, and start camping out by the building in his car around six. It would be dark by that time, but early enough that it wouldn't be suspicious his hanging out there.

His thoughts were interrupted by the cashier, "How are you today Agent Dean."

"I'm fine, how about you, Brenda? Did you get your grades back, yet?" How sad is it that a cashier at the local pharmacy knows my name and I know what is happening in her life. I obviously come in here waaaaay to often.

"I'm great! I got A's in everything but my English class. That one I got a B in, but considering how much I hated the class I'm just glad to be done with it."

"Congratulations!"

"Thanks," she said with a smile, "here's your change. I hope you get better soon."

Brendan nodded his thanks and headed out towards his car. His thoughts already picking up were he had left off planning his stakeout. He'd have his phone in case anything happened and he needed to get backup; plus, he always had his gun on him. Though, he decided he would leave his badge at home. That way, in the unlikely event Kaslov captured him Kaslov wouldn't know the NSA was onto him. After all, Brendan knew that Kaslov had plenty of other enemies and it wasn't too farfetched that one of them would be keeping an eye on him.

Brendan thought carefully over every aspect of his plan and smiled. It should work fine. He would even have time tomorrow to go home and take a shower, so it wouldn't be obvious he got no sleep. He felt a little bad about not going home like he told Harper and Freya he would, but this case was more important than his health and he wanted to make sure that Kaslov did not escape.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

It was about seven and Brendan took another swallow of his lukewarm coffee and shivered slightly. He desperately wished that it wasn't so cold in his car, but it wasn't like there was much he could do about it, and he knew that it was only going to get colder as the night wore on.

There had been no movement that he could see around the warehouse and nothing had changed. However, he also knew that there might be a back entrance and though he hoped Kaslov wasn't paranoid enough to use it, Brendan was not foolish enough to think it was not possible. He continued to scan the building for even the slightest bit of light coming through from one of its doors and sighed, wishing that he could have thought of an agent to do the watch instead of him. He was beginning to realize a bit of why Harper had wanted him to go home and rest.

Brendan was starting to think that between the cold and his fatigue, he might miss something he normally wouldn't. Though he was sure he could do a takedown fine, or even go over files with little difficult, just sitting in the cold watching a building that wasn't changing was simply not stimulating enough to keep him completely focused presently. Even with the caffeine from his coffee he was too tired to give this stakeout the attention required.

He sighed wondering if he should head home and ask Harper to put some agents on the stakeout or stick it out. However, before he could make up his mind he broke out into a coughing fit more severe than any he had had previously. When the coughing fit was finally done, he heard a knock on his window.

Trying to catch his breath he looked up and saw a gun pointed at his head. Yeah Brendan thought wryly to himself I probably should have listened to Harper.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

Brendan's wrists were tied tightly behind his back, and he knew that the ropes were cutting into his flesh. Of course, the fact that he kept twisting his hands to try and get free probably didn't help any. He sighed as he looked around the storage room he had been left in after the guy with the gun and his extremely buff friend had confiscated his shoes, socks, coat, jacket, and even his dress shirt, leaving him in his undershirt and pants.

He shivered wishing he could wrap his arms around his chest to conserve warmth. He coughed again and felt like cursing his cold as he knew that was the reason the goon had been able to come up to him without him noticing. He hadn't even been able to send the text he had set up to get backup if something went wrong. All it would have taken was him to press one button, but sadly he had had no chance. Though, Brendan supposed that on the bright side the goon had not noticed his cell phone and it had been safely left in the car.

Brendan heard heavy steps approaching the door and straightened his body, so he could face whatever was coming head on. The door slowly opened inward and Kaslov stepped in followed by the two guys from earlier. The buff one came to stand right behind Brendan, and Brendan struggled to not tense.

Kaslov walked towards Brendan and nodded towards the goon who had had the gun. "Mitch here says that you were watching my warehouse. Now I'm curious why would you be doing that?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. I was just waiting out there for a friend. He was supposed to meet me there, but he was late, I wasn't planning on waiting that much longer, so if you just let me go I'll get out of your hair and we can pretend none of this ever happened." Brendan said nervously as he decided to at least try and see if Kaslov would think it was all a misunderstanding.

Kaslov stared at him a moment then nodded to the guards. Buff grabbed Brendan's upper arms to hold him steady as the other one with surprising strength slammed his fist into Brendan's stomach.

Brendan curled over trying to ease the pain, but was yanked straight by Buff. "Let me make something clear for you. I do not tolerate lying and I know you are. So, unless you enjoy extreme amounts of pain tell me who you are and whom you work for."

Brendan was quiet for a moment as he thought over his options. Obviously, Kaslov was not going to believe he was just an innocent bystander, and there was absolutely no way he was going to let Kaslov think any government agency was onto him, especially the NSA. So, that left him with trying to make Kaslov believe he was working for one of Kaslov's other enemies, or remaining silent and just letting Kaslov beat the crap out of him.

Though Brendan wanted to sigh as he realized that even trying to get Kaslov to believe he was one of Kaslov's other enemies would also entail remaining silent for awhile and just accepting whatever Kaslov dished out at him.

Brendan looked up and glared at Kaslov and said in a resolute tone, "I'm a guy tied up in the storage room of a warehouse, and I hate to talk about work, so can we switch the subject."

Mitch slammed his fist into Brendan's face and Brendan would have spun around from the power of it if Buff hadn't still been holding him by the shoulders. The fist was quickly followed by a knee to Brendan's chest.

Brendan's head was exploding in pain, and he felt like he was seeing stars. He shook his head to try and clear it, and locked eyes with Kaslov as Kaslov said, "What is your name?"

"I'm Shaggy and my friend who I was meeting up with is known as Scooby Doo."

This time Brendan was surprised to feel a sharp punch to his lower back from Buff, while Mitch slammed his fist into Brendan's left eye. Brendan simply grunted at the pain and tried to focus on Kaslov despite his blurry vision.

"Ok, so I work for the IRS. Obviously, it's not something I like to talk about much."

This time, Brendan felt a boot connect with the back of his knee and Brendan found himself collapsing to his knees even as Mitch's foot lashed out kicking Brendan in the jaw. Steadying himself as best he could Brendan spit out some blood from his mouth.

Kaslov spoke up again as Buff pulled Brendan to his feet. "Simply tell me what I want to know and my men will be able to stop beating you up. Who are you and whom do you work for?"

"I'm Bill Gates and I own Microsoft."

A fist struck him right beside his left eye and Brendan felt blood begun to run down his face from it, even as he was distracted, by a fist slamming into his back. Brendan breathed heavily trying to catch his breath.

"Once again, who are you and whom do you work for? If you do not answer truthfully this time I will have to step this interrogation up a notch."

Brendan focused on Kaslov with his right eye, as he could barely see out of his left. "The name is Bob and I work at a manufacturing plant for rubber chickens."

Kaslov sighed, "Very well. Mitch, Joe, you may have some fun with him. When you are done leave him to think about the consequences of dishonesty and uncooperativeness."

Before Kaslov had even left the room, Brendan's room exploded in pain as fists, knees, and boots slammed into his body. Under the barrage Brendan fell to the ground and curled into a fetal position trying to protect his sensitive middle section. He wished his hands were free, so that he could protect his head, from the vicious blows that were raining down on him. Suddenly a particularly powerful kick connected with his temple and Brendan slipped into oblivion.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

Brendan awoke in a coughing fit. He tried to catch his breath from it and discovered it hurt to breathe. I must have at least a few cracked ribs, he thought with a grimace. He slowly pushed himself to a sitting position. When the world stopped fading and twirling around him he decided to take full stock of his condition.

Okay, head's killing me and I feel nauseas, so I probably have some sort of a concussion. Also, my head feels itchy from what I am guessing is blood, but I don't feel liquid flowing, so it probably isn't still bleeding. My left eye I think is swollen shut, though I can't tell for sure, since it is too dark to see anything anyways. Face feels bruised, but I don't anything is too wrong with it. Hmmm….definitely have cracked ribs. It hurts too much to breathe deeply…or cough he thought with a wince as he remembered how he woke up.

Okay, I feel bruised all over, and my lower left arm is killing me. I think one of the guards might have broken it with their boots. My left foot hurts a lot. I can't tell if it's broken or just severely bruised. I think Mitch or Buff…no he said his name was Joe…stepped on it, before they left.

Exhausted Brendan carefully moved himself to rest against a wall in the pitch black storage room and went over his options.

He sighed as he remembered that he wouldn't be missed until after lunch, though on the bright side, as long as they didn't move him, there would be the takedown this afternoon, so he would just have to wait until then. Brendan, now just needed to decide what he would do until that time. Brendan figured that he should try to do whatever he could to help his team, since he had stupidly got himself in this position. I am so fired after this, he thought with a sigh. Ignoring the thought though, Brendan realized that he might be able to make sure that Kaslov did not suspect the NSA was on to him, and even feed Kaslov some false information that might help the NSA.

So, despite his pounding headache and the bile Brendan had to swallow back, to prevent the pain, not to mention the smell, throwing up would cause, Brendan thought about who he should make Kaslov think he was. Brendan knew it would have to be someone not easily verified, but would make sense to have watching the warehouse. He was thankful for his perfect memory as his mind went over Kaslov's file in his head and focused on Kaslov's enemies, besides the government of course.

Hmmm…..he had trouble in the past with Garry Rokind's organization. No, Kaslov never would believe that Garry would leave just one man to watch a warehouse. He always has his teams work in pairs.

Mantello might work though. He got in a fight with Kaslov and claimed that Kaslov didn't complete on a deal. Kaslov prides himself on doing what he says, so he was not happy about that at all. They set up a tentative peace, but Mantello is known for changing his mind and causing trouble. Also, his organization is buried and large enough that Kaslov will not have an easy time verifying my identity.

Now, how can I use pretending to be one of Mantello's men to help my men with the takedown…?

Well, I doubt Kaslov is planning on moving me, and I figure if he is in the middle of interrogating me and he is finally getting close to actual answers, he will be less likely to leave this building. I had been concerned about him heading out, but my presence here could be the needed element to ensure he stays. Also, I'm sure he is going to be so caught up in dealing with me and figuring everything out on Mantello that he won't be as likely to notice the NSA closing in.

Ok, I just need to slowly reveal information and keep him interested, but keep it believable. I need to make sure he doesn't get close to any real answers until around the time the team is supposed to be stopping by. We had said early afternoon and I know Harper won't put it off too long while looking for me. This is too important for that and we need to get this taken care of…

Hmmm…I guess it will be somewhere between two and five then that they will come. At the next torture session, I'll hold off a bit and give them the tiniest bit…like my name. I'll also slip a few clues pointing to Mantello.

Okay, now what name to give myself…Jonny Stelts that will work. It has a nice ring to it I think.

Now, with a plan Brendan felt slightly more optimistic. Though, it also left him with more time to focus on how miserable and cold he was. He was right about it getting colder throughout the night, though at least when he had thought that originally he had had on a lot more warm clothing. Also, he kept breaking out into painful coughs that took a minute for him to recover from.

Brendan tried to figure out what time it was, and though he could not be sure, he figured it was probably about midnight. Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted by the door opening. Light came pouring into the room, and Brendan squinted his eyes at the onslaught of sharp piercing light that caused his headache to escalate in pain.

"I hope this time alone has given you time to consider the benefits of cooperating with me, and telling me what I want to know." As Kaslov said this he entered the room followed by Mitch and Joe. Joe was carrying a folding chair, and he placed it in the middle of the room under the single glaring light bulb. Then he and Mitch picked up Brendan roughly by his upper arms and deposited him in the chair facing Kaslov. Brendan panted through it as the movement caused him to see stars, and pain to explode in his broken left arm.

Kaslov sat down and motioned to Joe who untied Brendan's wrists, which had Brendan grunting in pain as it jostled his arm. When his hands were free, Brendan held his left arm close to his chest to prevent it from being jostled more, while Joe stretched out his right arm palm up and then held it that way.

"Now, what is it you are called and whom do you work for?"

"Well, I've been called lots of things before, frustrating, smart, clever, even chump once; take your pick."

Kaslov nodded and Mitch pulled out a nail. It wasn't too large, but Brendan knew that it would hurt a lot if they stuck it anywhere in his body, and he was thankful that he was up to date on his tetanus shot.

"I'm asking again. What is your name?"

Brendan remained silent, as he couldn't think of any good responses to that presently and he nervously watched Mitch fiddling with the nail.

"Very well."

Brendan tensed as Mitch placed the knife against the skin of his upturned arm and slowly placed more and more pressure. Brendan clenched his teeth as the nail broke skin. He watched in fascination as the nail sunk deeper and blood welled up beside it. His attention was snapped from the nail still in his arm when Kaslov said, "What is your name."

"No."

The nail was yanked from his arm and then plunged down again with surprising speed, and Brendan bit his lip to prevent the cry of pain that begged to be made. Sweat rolled down his forehead.

Again Kaslov asked and Brendan's reply remained the same. The nail was ripped out and dug into another spot on his arm.

And so the pattern continued until Brendan's arm was slick with blood from puncture wounds though he hoped none were deep enough to be a major problem. They just hurt like hell.

Kaslov was about to have Mitch shove the nail in again when Brendan felt like it was time for the first step in his plan to be put in action.

"Wait! Stop!" Brendan tried to breathe through the pain and said, "…my name…is Jonny Stelts…" He said it with as much an air of defeat as he could possibly manage and desperately hoped it was good enough to work.

"What was that?" asked Kaslov as he stayed Mitch's hand.

"…I said…my name's…Jonny Stelts…"

Brendan tensed waiting for Kaslov to tell him he was lying, but Kaslov didn't. He simply eyed Brendan sharply and considered what condition Brendan was in from his bleeding arm, shallow breaths, periodic coughs, bruises, cuts, etc. etc. and nodded.

Mitch stepped back and Joe released Brendan's arm. Brendan brought the trembling limb to rest on his lap as he stared at Kaslov through his one good eye.

"Jonny, to show you that cooperativeness is rewarded I'm going to give you a break before I ask you more questions as you answered this one. I suggest you take the time to rest."

Then Kaslov, Joe, and Mitch all left the room. The room was again plunged in darkness, but Brendan couldn't complain as it brought some relief to his pounding head. He slid slowly from the chair and rested his head on the cold concrete floor. He hoped that his acting job continued to work.

Though a bout of depression hit him as he realized this probably was his last case, even if he survived. After the stupid mistake of getting captured, he doubted Harper would even consider letting him stay in the NSA.

He sighed, not that it wouldn't have come eventually anyways. Lately, he had felt like he was simply a tagalong as Freya did all the work. He was sure the only reason their team had gotten any recognition lately was from her excellent work. Though he had made sure to carefully block that thought from Freya, because he was sure she would feel hurt by that comment. He knew she enjoyed working with him and was glad they were partners. Although Brendan had no clue as to why.

Suddenly Brendan had another coughing fit and found himself struggling to get air into his starved lungs. When, he no longer felt like he was suffocating he decided that he should take Kaslov up on his advice and rest. He hadn't gotten much sleep lately due to this case and felt exhausted, so it was not long before he was asleep.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

Brendan's sleep was restless and filled with nightmares, so he didn't feel that much better when he was awoken hours later by Joe and Mitch pulling him up and putting him in the chair again. The movement caused another coughing fit and Brendan hoped that Kaslov, Mitch, and Joe would catch his cold.

"I hope you enjoyed your rest and are ready to answer the rest of my questions."

Brendan struggled to focus on Kaslov as he went over in his mind what he needed to do in this particular interrogation. It was too early in the day for him to tell Kaslov of Mantello, though he could accidentally let slip some clues that would point to Mantello. No, this round he wouldn't be able to really give up enough information to get Kaslov to back down like he did last time. Brendan wanted to sigh as he knew his already battered body would be subjected to even more abuse.

"Now, you told us your name Jonny Stelts, but I also need to know who you work for."

Exhausted and miserable Brendan shook his head.

"Very well." Mitch stepped forward and pulled Brendan's undershirt up over his head, exposing his bruised chest. Joe grabbed Brendan's shoulders to hold him steady as Mitch took out a large box of matches.

Brendan swallowed trying to hold back his apprehension as Mitch took out one match and held it against the box.

"For whom do you work?"

"No."

Mitch lit the match and it burned brightly. Brendan tensed as Mitch slowly brought it closer and closer until the flame was licking Brendan's skin and he could feel the heat. Mitch held it there for a moment…then he pressed it down sharply and Brendan gritted his teeth at the burning pain. Slowly, Mitch removed the match from Brendan's body. The flame was out now, but it continued to smoke.

"We have a lot of matches Jonny, so it would be for your own benefit to just tell us what I want to know."

Breathing through the pain, Brendan looked up at Kaslov and said, "No."

Mitch lit another match and placed it against Brendan's chest. The heat was intense and Mitch held it there for a few moments that seemed like hours to Brendan.

Finally, he removed it and Brendan breathed a small sigh of relief. He glanced down at his chest and saw the two small burns on his chest and wondered how something so small could hurt so much.

Again Kaslov asked the question, and again Brendan said "no". So, Mitch lit another match and pressed it against Brendan's chest.

This continued until Brendan had 22 small burns scattered across his chest. Finally, Brendan was ready to start dropping his clues, though he knew the clues themselves would not stop the matches.

When Kaslov asked his question, Brendan instead of the usual reply of saying 'no' or shaking his head, responded with "I can't!"

Kaslov paused for a moment. "Why can't you?" Yet, Brendan did not respond and just shook his head as sweat clung to his hair.

Mitch again placed a match against Brendan's chest, but this time he placed it directly on one of his previous burns. The pain made Brendan give a small cry of pain, before he went silent again.

"Why can't you tell me?"

Brendan breathed heavily as he looked up at Kaslov. "…I like…being…alive…"

"You believe who you work for will kill you if you simply reveal his name under torture?"

Brendan simply nodded exhausted.

"Well, I can see your dilemma, but let me assure you of something, if you don't tell me what I need to know, I will also kill you, and since I have you in my possession of the two of us I am the one you need to fear presently."

Brendan tried to give the air of uncertainty as if he was seriously contemplating giving up the name, but then he shook his head and said, "Can't."

Mitch took out another match lit it and placed it against Brendan's chest. Brendan choked back a cry and wished that he would just pass out, instead of having to endure more of this pain.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

It had lasted probably about another 20 minutes, before Kaslov left with Joe and Mitch. The ground was littered with used matches, and Brendan shuddered a bit as he looked at them. Slowly Brendan pulled his shirt back over his head to cover his chest.

It stung as it touched his skin, but though the burns on his chest…well burned, the rest of him was cold as the cold air of the room interacted with his sweat from the ordeal causing him to feel chilled.

He replayed the conversation in his mind from the last session. After he dropped his clue of the person he worked for being harsh and unforgiving to his own men, Brendan had made small comments to enhance that view, though he had not added anymore real information.

Brendan's thoughts were interrupted by another coughing fit that between his burns, bruises, and crack ribs was pure agony. When he was able to breathe again, he figured that from the pattern of the previous interrogations he would be left alone for a few hours, before another session started. So, Brendan calculated as best he could what time it was and realized that though he could finally give Kaslov, Mantello's name in the next session, he would not be able to give any other information to ensure that there was at least one more interrogation.

He wanted to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kaslov was in the building when the NSA dropped by and the only way he could do that was by having Kaslov interrogating him at the time. Brendan hoped that his estimates on time were accurate, but decided he should rest some more instead of worrying about it.

He slowly made his way to the floor again and lay carefully on his back trying to keep the movement to a minimum as every move he made seemed to cause agony to shoot through his body from a million wounds.

He closed his eyes hoping that this time nightmares would not plague his sleep and drifted off.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

It seemed like only a few minutes had passed when Brendan was again placed in the chair. He sighed as he looked up at Kaslov looming over him. He wondered what form of torture Kaslov planned against him this time.

"Whom do you work for?"

"…I can't tell you."

Mitch took out a pocket knife and Brendan felt his breathing hitch for a moment as he took in the implications of that.

"I asked, whom do you work for?"

"No."

Mitch extended the blade and then held it over Brendan's left thigh.

"Last chance."

Brendan shook his head.

Mitch stabbed the blade down and Brendan was not able to bite back a cry of agony. Mitch quickly pulled out the knife and Brendan saw that it was red with his blood.

His cry had set off another coughing fit and Brendan felt his entire body explode in pain. Panting to catch his breath and recover from the pain. Brendan realized that Kaslov was getting impatient and if Brendan wanted to survive till the NSA showed up he would have to give Kaslov the information sooner rather than later. Still, he knew he couldn't give it too early either.

Kaslov yanked Brendan's attention from his thoughts.

"Are you ready to tell me now?"

"…I'd…be…as…good…as…dead…if…he…found…out…"

"If you don't tell me I can assure you will be just as dead, but a whole lot sooner."

Brendan shook his head.

Mitch stabbed the knife into Brendan's upper right arm.

The pain was so intense that for a moment Brendan thought he was going to black out. Stay conscious Brendan. You're almost done here. Tell him about Mantello now.

"…Stop…please…stop."

At Kaslov's nod Mitch stepped back. "Whom do you work for Jonny?"

Brendan was barely hanging on as blood continued to pour out of his body, but he managed to whisper, "…Man...tello…" before he slipped into oblivion.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

Brendan awoke to Joe placing him in the chair once again. Brendan figured a few hours had passed since the last session and he hoped the NSA would arrive soon.

He blearily looked down at his thigh and then up at his arm and saw that cloths had been used as bandages. They were both soaked with blood, but at least they did not seem to still be bleeding.

Brendan tried to focus on Kaslov as his body was telling him it was at the end of his strength. Just have to keep him here interrogating me until everyone shows up. No problems there…right? He thought to himself and then broke out into another round of painful coughs.

Brendan could tell that Kaslov was frustrated, but couldn't think clear enough to figure out why he would be. Luckily, Kaslov let him in on it.

"Jonny Stelts, you finally let me not only know your name, but also that you work for Mantello. However, I need more information now. I need to know why Mantello had you watching this place and I need to know what he is up to."

Brendan whispered, "…said…tmuch…ready…" He found himself concerned at how difficult he was finding it to talk, and how his words were beginning to slur, but he was shaken from those thoughts as Mitch slammed his fist into where Mitch had previously stabbed him in the upper arm with a pocket knife. Gasping, Brendan felt blood as the cut on his arm was reopened.

Kaslov spoke again and Brendan desperately tried to comprehend the words. "I am losing my patience Jonny. I am a busy man and I have things I need to be doing right now, but I can not leave until I have the information on Mantello. So, tell me what I need to know and I will have Mitch stop causing you pain."

Suddenly, despite all Brendan's suffering he felt a small glow of joy deep inside him. The pain he had endured hadn't been for nothing. He was keeping Kaslov at the warehouse for the NSA to pick him up. With this information he felt a fresh resolve to keep Kaslov interrogating him as long as it took to get the NSA to arrive, which meant he was not allowed to black out.

An unforgiving fist to his mutilated chest brought him out of his thoughts and caused him to focus once again on Kaslov.

'…don't…know…antello…dnt…say…why…"

Mitch's booted foot stepped down on his bruised possibly broken foot hard and Brendan gave a cry of agony.

"What is Mantello up to? Why are you here?"

"..Dnt…knw…" Brendan gasped.

Joe's fist slammed into the side of Brendan's head and his head snapped to the side. As his vision kept fading in and out, Brendan realized if he hadn't had a bad concussion before he definitely had one now.

"What is he up to?"

"…said…somthin…bout…wepns…nd…trp…"

"What weapons and what trap?"

Brendan remained quiet.

Mitch struck out violently and Brendan felt his lip split and tasted warm blood.

"I said, 'what weapons'!"

"…he…wnted…ou…t…to…thnk…wpns…frm…rglar…deler…"

"And…?"

"…but…th…they…hve…trcking…chps…so…"

Brendan suddenly closed his mouth as if realizing he had said too much. He knew that the NSA wasn't here yet, so he couldn't let this interrogation finish to soon, even if he did desperately want to just slip into the blessed darkness that was constantly by his side now.

At his silence Kaslov nodded again to Mitch and Brendan felt Mitch's foot impact with his broken left arm that hung limply at his side. The pain was so intense that Brendan was able to make a yell much louder than he could have ever thought possible with how miserable, weak, and sick he presently felt.

Another intense round of coughing followed and when he had caught his breath he slurred,

"…s…so…he…can…fllw…whrver…ou…g…go…nd…s…sab…otage…ou…"

"Alright, now why were you watching my warehouse?"

With all his other miseries and his horrendous headache, he couldn't even think of a reasonable response to that question.

At his silence, Mitch punched Brendan in the chest and Brendan heard the sound of a crack, but he didn't have enough breath to even make a feeble cry.

"I said why where you watching my warehouse!"

Brendan coughed painfully, but remained silent otherwise and wondered where the next blow would fall as he was too tired to keep his eyes open to see.

Yet, to his great surprise no blow fell and Brendan forced his eyes open and his head up to see why. Patel, Kunzel, and another agent were in the room with guns pointed at Kaslov, Joe, and Mitch whose arm was raised to strike him again. It seemed to Brendan's befuddled mind that everyone was frozen in place and he felt the illogical need to laugh at the sight, but he knew the pain that would cost him would not be worth it.

It seemed fuzzy somehow to Brendan, but he could hear Kunzel telling Brendan's captors to place their hands in the air and to step back. As they did so Brendan finally realized he was safe….well safe from being beaten anymore. He was sure he was still going to be put off the task force, but presently not having to worry about another fist pounding into his pain filled body was enough. Besides, it had worked and Kaslov had stayed in the warehouse, so Brendan felt that his mission had been accomplished and finally let the sweet painless darkness take him.

Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes…Thoughtcrimes….Thoughtcrimes…

To Be Continued…