Freya was out of her mind with worry when Brendan had still not shown up at work or answered his phone. She turned to Harper who had been watching her call Brendan's phone for the millionth time.
"He's still not answering. I figured he would try to come in early today, but it is an hour past the time he was supposed to come in and he's still not here."
"Yeah, I know. Something is definitely wrong. Dean is never late and there is no way that he would choose to be late on a day that we are taking down someone like Kaslov."
"I know," sighed Freya as she read Harper's thoughts of worry over the absence of one of his best agents.
"Why don't you check out his apartment, while I finish setting up everything for the takedown."
Freya nodded as she read Harpers thoughts. I hope this is just a simple misunderstanding and Agent Dean is completely okay, yet, somehow I doubt that is the case.
An hour later Freya was back with the disheartening news that Brendan, his phone, and his car where all not at his place. Harper sighed at the news. His thoughts rapidly went over his options. On the one hand, he wanted to immediately devote all his agents to tracking down Dean, since he just knew something was the matter. However, on the other hand, he knew that this was their chance to get Kaslov. Dean had worked way too hard on putting this case together for Harper to simply throw away all his work, and Harper knew that given the choice Dean would want all the resources to still be devoted to the takedown.
Sighing he let everyone know his plan. "Okay, we're going to do the takedown like we had planned, but Kunzel you're going to take Agent Dean's place. Everyone not assigned to the takedown is going to start figuring out where Dean is. Also, as soon as we are done with this takedown, everyone else is going to get involved in that as well. We will get him back people."
Everyone nodded and Freya felt slightly overwhelmed by all the thoughts. She just wished Brendan with his low self-esteem could hear them. Everyone was worried about him and planned on doing everything they could to get him back as soon as possible.
Freya knew Brendan didn't realize how many people in the NSA respected and even cared about him. In fact, the only person who ever doubted his abilities as an agent was Brendan. He always felt like he was a step away from being fired, even though that couldn't be further from the truth.
As Freya got in the car with Kunzel to head down to the warehouse she wished she didn't have to be a part of the takedown. All she wanted to be doing was searching every possibility of where Brendan was. Yet, just as Harper knew that Brendan would put the takedown before himself, Freya knew it as well. Truthfully, she knew it better than Harper, and as much as she wanted to be working to find Brendan, she knew he would want her at the warehouse to help make sure there were no hidden surprises placed there by Kaslov.
As they got closer to the warehouse Freya hoped this would be quick, as her thoughts were constantly revolving around Brendan. Suddenly, she noticed that Brendan's car was parked on the other side of the street from the warehouse and a little ways down.
"Kunzel! That's Brendan's car!"
"Are you positive?"
In a moment, Kunzel had alerted all the other agents to the fact Brendan's car was here. Freya found herself trying to read all the thoughts in the neighborhood to see if one of them was Brendan's but stopped herself as she realized there was no way she could filter it all out to hear his thoughts. Besides, Freya already had a pretty good idea where Brendan was.
It wasn't long before the team breached the warehouse. Freya followed the rest of the team into the building once they had secured the entrance. There she closed her eyes and focused her thoughts. It wasn't long before she sensed Brendan; she always had an easier time sensing him than others. However, she expanded her focus and knew that there were three other men with him and they were causing him pain.
In a moment, her eyes were open again and she was calling over the radio for the benefit of those not right beside her. "Brendan's here! There are three guys with him!"
"Understood!" was Kunzel's quick reply.
Freya felt a small amount of relief that they now knew where Brendan was, but it was almost completely overwhelmed by the amount of pain she had realized Brendan was experiencing. Freya stayed by the door as she wished she could rush up to be with the rest of the team as they rescued Brendan, but knew she would just get in the way
They had just started up some stairs leading to offices on the second floor when there was a yell of agony, which everyone instinctively knew belonged to Brendan.
If Freya had thought the team was moving quickly before it was nothing compared to their movements now with Patel and Kunzel at the lead.
Freya's heart seemed to stop as she waited an eternity to hear over the radio, "Freya, you can come up now."
When she heard it, immediately she was racing up the stairs. She stopped when she reached the room and nearly ceased breathing as the horror of the scene hit her. Brendan was unconscious on the floor with Patel beside him. Brendan was covered in blood, bruises, and shivering from either cold or shock.
Freya fell to her knees beside him and moaned, "oh Brendan."
She saw that Patel was putting pressure on a wound on Brendan's upper arm to stop the bleeding, and realized that blood loss might be a real problem as there was blood on his thigh as well as his arm. She studied his right arm closer and gasped when she recognized that the blood on his lower right arm was not from his upper arm, but from small puncture wounds. Forcing her gaze away from his arm to examine the rest of him she saw that his left arm was clearly broken and his left foot was covered in dark bruise.
Her examination was interrupted when without waking he broke into an agonizing coughing fit. He gasped for air, and Freya wanted to sob. She studied his face and saw that underneath all the blood there were many bruises, the worst being around his left eye, which was swollen shut.
Kunzel interrupted her examination by asking, "How is agent Dean?"
Turning to answer him Freya's gaze stopped at Kaslov. Kaslov looked furious and to her amazement she realized his anger was not as much about being captured, but something to do with Brendan.
As she read his thoughts more closely she found herself being once again dumbfounded at Brendan's ingenuity. Apparently, Brendan had convinced Kaslov that he was working for a guy named Mantello, and the reason Kaslov was at the warehouse when they did the takedown was he had been desperate to get information out of Brendan.
Now, Kaslov realized that Brendan had been stringing him along the entire time, and his anger knew no bounds. Freya shuddered slightly and found herself leaning over Brendan as if to protect him from Kaslov's gaze even as she belatedly answered Kunzel's question.
"He's not doing good. We need to get him to the hospital as soon as possible."
Patel nodded and said, "The ambulance is already on its way. They should be here shortly."
Freya could tell Kaslov was pleased at the idea Brendan was in rough shape, and wanted to punch the lights out of him. However, Kunzel and the agents helping him, were obviously of the same opinion, and roughly began pushing Kaslov and the others out of the room as Kunzel said, "You better hope he survives or that will be a third degree murder charge against all of you, and I can assure you that this one will stick!"
When they were gone, Freya once again fully focused her attention on the wounded man in front of her, and felt tears fill her eyes at the silence coming from his mind. Usually his mind was always thinking, and going over a million thinks at once…or at least one random song, she thought with a watery smile. Yet, now the stillness filled her with fear.
Freya felt the need to talk with him, even if she knew he could not hear her and began whispering encouragements to him. "We've got you Brendan. You're safe and you're going to be fine in no time. It's going to be okay. Come on, hang in there Brendan. It will be boring at the office if you aren't there, so I need you to keep fighting…"
Then the paramedics were there taking over. Before Freya could comprehend it all, they were rushing Brenan out of the building. She joined the gurney in the ambulance and took Brendan's pale cold hand in her warm one, and willed strength and fight into his weakened body.
The next few hours seemed like an eternity to Freya, and she felt like she was going to pull out her hair by the time the doctor assigned to Brendan came out to give an update to Freya, Harper, Kunzel, Patel, and Terri on Brendan's condition.
As he walked towards them Freya read his thoughts and wanted to cry at what she heard, I can't believe this poor guy was only captured for a little less than 24 hours. Not only is his body covered in wounds, but it's like he hasn't eaten or slept for weeks.
"Well, Agent Dean is stable for now, but I am afraid he is not in the best shape. He is dehydrated, slightly malnourished, and exhausted. I am afraid these ailments will make the rest of injuries harder to heal. Also, he has cracked ribs, which exacerbate the cold he has, which is pretty bad in its own right, and make it difficult for him to breathe. He lost quite a bit of blood as well, mainly from the stab wound on his upper right arm, and the one on his left thigh. He has a concussion and his left arm is broken, though it was a clean break, and there shouldn't be any complications. A small bone was broken in his left foot, and his foot is badly bruised. Moreover, his lower right arm is covered in puncture wounds. At first we thought it might be from drugs, but after blood tests came back negative for any drugs, we believe a nail was probably used. His chest is covered with small burns probably from a cigarette or match. Then, of course, he has bruises and cuts covering his entire body. To top it all off, infection has set in and presently he has a high fever."
At the end of the long list of injuries and ailments, the doctor paused for a moment. Sighing he spoke again, "I'm hopeful, he will fully recover, but it is still a little too early to tell for sure, and if he does make it through, he is going to need a lot of rest and help."
Freya nodded and said, "He'll get it. Can I sit with him?"
"You're his partner who came with him on the ambulance, right?"
"Yes, I'm Freya McAllister."
"Well, Ms. McAllister, I think that can be arranged."
Freya followed the doctor into Brendan's room and once again felt the need to cry as she took in Brendan's sorry appearance. It seemed that every part of him was either bandaged or bruised and wires and monitors were all around him.
He seemed so pale and still that Freya found the steady beeping of the heart monitor indescribably reassuring. She sat in a chair next to the bed and gently clasped his hand in hers as she felt the undeniable need to touch some part of him. She noticed that his wrists were bandaged and remembered how bruised and bloody they had looked.
She sat beside him until at 8:00 a nurse came and gently told her that visiting hours were over and she needed to go home and rest.
Though she did go home, Freya barely got any rest as all she could think of was how much pain Brendan had appeared to be in, even in the hospital on high duty pain killers.
The next day Freya was at the hospital and in Brendan's room the moment visiting hours began. She took up her previous position by his bed and felt her worry heighten as he restless moved in sleep. The nurse had explained that his fever had not abated and early this morning he had begun to have nightmares.
Freya realized that with his perfect memory he was probably reliving the horror he had experienced, and she tried to be a link to reality by calmly talking to him.
She reminded him he was safe and told him how Kaslov was in custody along with the two other men. She let him know that June was worried about him, and was praying he had a quick recovery. Freya spoke at length about all the things she planned on doing with him as he recovered. She spoke of the movies they would have to watch together, and reminded him he had promised to teach her strategies to use in chess…besides reading thoughts of course. She talked for hours and hours, helping to soothe him when he awoke from nightmares and was unaware of where he was. Finally, Harper ordered her home, saying that Brendan would kill him, if he allowed her to run herself ragged.
Reluctantly, Freya finally left, but only after she made the nursing staff promise to call her if there was the slightest bit of change in Brendan.
Early the next morning she got the call; Brendan's fever had broken and he was lucid for a few moments before he fell asleep again.
Freya felt like a huge load was lifted from her shoulders at the news. Brendan was going to make it! With a huge smile on her face she found her way to the new room they had moved him to. He was the only occupant and she once again sat beside his bed. As she took his hand and squeezed it in joy that he was beginning to recover, he feebly squeezed back. His eyes were still closed, but she heard his thoughts before he drifted asleep again, I'm glad you're here…
Though Brendan was now beginning to be lucid, it wasn't until the next afternoon that he was there enough for them to have a conversation. She had returned from a late lunch, and after she sat down in her usual chair, she looked up and saw his eyes upon her.
At his unspoken thought she popped an ice chip in his mouth. She smiled at his thoughts of his relief and then laughed.
"I'm not an angel, but I'm glad you appreciate the ice. Want another one?"
At his nod she slid it into his opened mouth.
"Yes, Kaslov and the other men are in custody and Judge Kistlen is completely out of danger. I'm going to be stopping by with Harper later today to get more information from Kaslov and the others. However, at the warehouse I read a few of Kaslov's thoughts and found out about what you did. I can tell you he wasn't happy to have been duped that way by you."
"…it was…good for…him…"
"Yeah, you're right. It probably will help teach him a little bit about humility. Still, I would like to know how you got yourself captured by him. I thought you were finally getting the rest you needed at home, and instead I find out you were being…well you know." Freya said as her voice broke.
Brendan squeezed her hand as best he could and Freya smiled at him. However, her smile left as she followed his fast paced thoughts of how he wanted a stakeout on the building, and his thought process of why he should be the one to do it. She wanted to cry at how he was ready to call it quits when Mitch grabbed him.
She saw rapid glimpses of his torture and followed his thoughts as he decided to use his position to make sure Kaslov was at the warehouse when the team showed up. She felt herself being astounded again at the plan he managed to not only come up with, but pull off brilliantly.
"Brendan, as much as I wish you hadn't gone through that, I have to admit your plan was amazing and it worked. I heard Kaslov's thoughts when Kunzel was pushing him out of the room. He had planned on being elsewhere at the time the NSA took down the warehouse. It was only because you had convinced him the information you had about Mantello was important that he stayed."
Brendan was beginning to lose his ability to stay awake, but at that he smiled and thought tiredly to himself, I am so glad my plan succeeded. I would have hated to go through that for nothing, especially as it will probably be my last case. I know Harper is probably thrilled he finally has the perfect excuse to get rid of me, after all I have been useless lately and just holding Freya back…"
As he fell asleep, Freya felt dismay. She knew Brendan always was afraid of failing at a case, and often was paranoid that he was going to get fired, but this was the first time she realized Brendan thought he was useless and not helping anything. Freya, felt like crying as she considered that he felt like he was holding her back when in reality he was the only reason she could go forward in this job. Not only that, but there was no way any of their cases could be solved without his amazing way of piecing little bits of information together into a rock solid case. Moreover, he was dedicated and persistent to the point his health suffered for it.
Yet, despite his excellence as an agent, here he was lying in a hospital bed thinking he was going to be fired, because he had given himself fully to the case. Yeah, Freya was upset that he had gone to stakeout the place alone, and she planned on lecturing him about it later, but she knew what had driven him to do that and so did Harper. There was no way Harper was going to fire him after this, though Freya was sure that Harper had his own lecture to give Brendan.
Something along the lines of take better care of yourself, you're too valuable to lose! Not that Brendan would believe it, but Freya had every intention of pounding those things into his head until he grasped the fact he was important and he was NOT a screw-up.
Sighing Freya got up. She had to go meet with Harper, and she had every intention of informing Harper of Brendan's current thoughts about himself. Though she usually kept his insecurities between them, with his present fragile health, she had every intention of removing as much fear and stress as she possibly could, and in this case that required Harper. Brendan would never simply take her word that Harper thought he was a great agent, and was glad he was on the force. He would think she was just trying to make him feel better, which left her no choice. She would have to explain things to Harper, so maybe next time Brendan wouldn't be driven to risk his health to make sure he didn't fail on a case.
Freya sat in front of Harper's desk rubbing her head with her hand. She and Harper had interrogated Kaslov, Mitch, and Joe, and now she had a headache that seemed to be constantly expanding, and she wished Brendan had been there with her instead of Harper. Not, that Harper hadn't done his job, and done it well, it just wasn't the same. There was something intangible when Brendan was with her during an interrogation that made it easier, and these interrogations had been particularly difficult.
Though it was not the first time she had seen violence or cruelty in a suspect's mind, this was the first time she saw it directed at someone she knew and cared about. Freya wanted to cry as she saw glimpses of the torture Brendan had faced from three different perspectives, not counting Brendan's. Each one revealed some new cruelty and pain Brendan faced.
Kaslov's interrogation, which also happened to be the last interrogation of the day, was the worst for her. His anger against Brendan burned red hot, and his mind was filled with pictures of what he would like to do to Brendan to hurt him. Though Freya had been able to hold it together during the interrogation, and get the needed information, once it was over she had made her way to the bathroom and thrown up all the contents of her stomach, until she was left heaving with nothing to show for it.
She then cleaned herself up a bit and headed over to Harper's office where she now sat with a massive headache. At the sound of the door opening, she looked up at Harper.
"I'm sorry you had to do the interrogation with me," Harper said and Freya could read the sincerity behind the words and smiled feebly.
"I know it was important, and it will help bring those…" Freya paused as she couldn't think of words horrible enough to describe the men who had so severely hurt her partner, but Harper nodded in understanding, and so she continued"…to justice."
"Well, Freya, why don't we hold off on the debrief. We already have a solid case against them, so there is no way they are wiggling their way out of this, and I doubt you learned anything urgent that we need to take care of," at her nod of confirmation he carried on, "so why don't you go home and get some rest…after seeing Brendan of course."
Freya smiled at that and slowly rose to her feet to walk out of the room, but she stopped when she got to the door. Turning slowly she broached the topic of Brendan's insecurities. "I know you are planning on talking to Brendan about taking better care of his health, but I think you should know what Brendan is thinking right now."
She paused for a moment and focused on Harper who was looking at her intently. Taking a deep breath she plunged in hoping that Brendan would forgive her as it was for his benefit that she was doing this, "Well, Brendan presently thinks that you are going to have him removed from the force. He believes that you have been only tolerating his presence, and have been looking for the slightest opportunity to get rid of him. Also, he feels as if he has been useless lately, and holding me back. I get the idea that he has been feeling this way for awhile now."
As Freya listened to Harper's thoughts as well as his response she felt relief, and was glad she had told him. He was appalled at the idea that Brendan thought that about himself. Harper had known that Brendan tried to make sure he never failed on a case, but he had no idea that Brendan felt like he was useless lately, and Harper had every intention of letting Brendan know that he valued him as an agent. Harper wanted Brendan to know that there was no way Harper was getting rid of him. He was too valuable to the workforce.
Freya smiled as she finally left Harper's office, and found that her headache had lessoned slightly at Harper's praise of Brendan.
Two days later Brendan was sitting up in bed reading a new book Freya had brought him when Harper stopped by. Everyone else from the office had previously stopped by, and Brendan had been both pleased and embarrassed by their concern for him.
Brendan straightened as much as he could in the bed as Harper approached, which caused him to break out into a small coughing fit. Though his cold was mostly gone, his cough persisted in remaining with him. Ignoring it Brendan gave an air of confidence, but inside his head his thoughts were far from calm. I bet this is it. He couldn't even wait until I'm out of the hospital to fire me. Probably he already has my replacement lined up. Maybe I can get Freya to pack up my desk, so I don't have to stop by the office and see the looks of pity….
Brendan's thoughts were interrupted when Harper began to speak. "Agent Dean, I want to say this now, so that you can stop worrying about it and focus on recovering. You shouldn't have gone alone to stakeout the warehouse. Not, because it was against any agency rules, because both of us know that is not the case, but due to the fact you were already exhausted and sick from working on the case. You were right we needed to have a stakeout, but you shouldn't have risked your health to be the one to do it."
Brendan nodded his head waiting for the other shoe to drop and Harper to tell him that after such a bad judgment call he was fired. Then as if Harper as well as Freya could read thoughts he said, "That being said, I want you to know there is no way I am letting you out of the NSA. You are too important to this agency. There are a number of cases that other agents considered dead ends that you pieced together with a speed and accuracy amazing to behold. Besides, though I really wish you had not put yourself in a position to be captured, Freya has informed me that it was only by your quick thinking while in Kaslov's hands that he was still at the warehouse during the takedown.
"In fact, that helps prove my point. Dean I can not think of another agent who could on the spur of the moment figure out a viable way to keep Kaslov at the warehouse, and pull it off brilliantly, ensuring that he did not become suspicious in the process. Dean, we relooked up the information on Mantello and his relationship with Kaslov that you had in his file. It was a barely a footnote! How you remembered that information and were able to put it to use, I do not even pretend to understand.
Brendan could only sit in the bed feeling slack jawed as his boss praised him and assured him that he was not useless. Brendan felt a sneaking suspension that Freya had said something to Harper about it as he knew she had heard some of his less than confident thoughts lately. However, he couldn't be too upset with her. It was a relief to know that he wasn't about to be fired. He was familiar with Harper, and there was no way Harper was saying all this just because Freya had asked him too; Harper must actually mean it! As Brendan realized this he brought his focus back to what Harper was saying.
"Dean as soon as you're back on your feet and are up to it, I'll have a new case for you. However, I do expect you to give yourself time to recover before you come back, and it will be the doctor's not your definition of recovery that I will be going on. Dean, you are not superman, and no one expects or wants you to be. You are one of our best agents, and it would be an indescribable loss to the force if something happened to you, so you need to learn to step back and take care of yourself. Instead of risking your health, ask for help. Let me assure you, no one will think less of you if you do."
It took Brendan a moment to form some sort of reply. "…yes, sir, I'll try to ask for help next time and take better care of myself." He paused for a moment and then continued, "And thank you sir. I appreciate what you said."
Harper nodded and smiled, "I have to head out, but remember you have a vital role in the NSA, it's just that your body can't keep up with you sometimes."
Brendan laughed as Harper walked out.
An hour later when Freya stopped by, she immediately heard Brendan's accusing thoughts, but she sensed underneath it all he wasn't really that upset with her. You're a tattletale, you know.
Smiling, Freya answered, "yeah, but it's a myth that being a tattletale is a bad thing, sometimes it's necessary. Especially when your partner won't listen to reason."
I should have known you were up to something as soon as you were constantly telling me what a great agent I am and that I had nothing to worry about over my job.
"Well, you are and you don't," she said with a smile. Then she turned serious and said, "Brendan I want you to know that I couldn't do this job without you by my side. I had to interrogate Kaslov with Harper and it was horrible. I missed your encouragement and help in the interrogations. You always are there to remind me that no matter what I see in their minds, there is good in this world, and a reason why we are fighting. Besides there's no way I could remember all the random details you do, and place them together, so we can get our man."
Though Freya could tell Brendan was pleased and surprised by her praise, he said in a gruff voice, "You're only saying that, so I won't be mad at you about telling Harper what I was thinking."
"Did it work?"
"Maybe…" Okay, it did. He though with a smile.
They were both silent for a moment and then Brendan said, "the doctor told me I might get out of here tomorrow, and get to go home as long as I promise to take it easy."
"Will you take it easy if he lets you go home?"
"Of course, I will" replied Brendan with an innocent look.
Reading his thoughts, Freya shook her head. "Brendan I don't think catching up on paperwork your first day out of the hospital is what the doctor had in mind when he said take it easy,…and no the second day doesn't count either."
"But, Freya, I've already been off work forever and…", but before he could continue she cut him off. "Brendan you've been asleep most of that time. Besides," she said with a smirk, "you're a patient right now. So, aren't you supposed to be patient."
"Ha ha ha, very funny, Freya."
Smiling Freya added, "More importantly Brendan, how can we watch all the movies I've rented for the week if you're working on paperwork? June is even thinking of joining us when you are up to it, and you had promised to teach me strategy in chess. Then there's…"
Brendan smiled and realized his recovery wouldn't be that bad as Freya painted a picture of all the things they could do during it, intermixed of course with long naps. Brendan figured a big part of why she was planning things the way she was, is that it would ensure she could keep an eye on him. Brendan grinned as he realized it was nice to have a partner who cared.
Freya smiled at his thoughts and continued talking until he drifted off to sleep.
A/N: Any reviews would be appreciated, especially constructive criticism