I owe a huge thank you to 'Alex Kade' for being a feckin' brilliant Beta and making generally amusing comments that kept me smiling as I edited. Hope you all enjoy!
It was straight forward enough.
Get in, grab the papers, be home in time for dinner.
It didn't even require the whole team, for which reason Jane had taken the easy role of sitting in the van waiting while Ethan kept a lookout from across the street.
Brandt and Benji were given the part of actually sneaking into the building. It was a pretty low key affair, about which Benji seemed somewhat disappointed. They didn't even require disguises beyond a clean suit and sunglasses.
"Remind me the point of this?" Brandt muttered as they hurried up the stone steps leading inside, passing a leggy blonde who shot them a curious look on her way by.
His displeasure with the situation had been clear from the outset. They were, at the moment, the top team at the IMF, employed regularly to complete jobs other teams just couldn't do. It was almost insulting to be doing something so simple.
"Because Ethan wants us to bond more as a team. We've only been doing difficult things since we were put together. Consider it a training day," Benji suggested.
"Uh-huh." Brandt removed his sunglasses and hooked them on the front of his jacket, shooting Benji a knowing look. "Not to mention that Ethan owed the guy a favour."
Benji scratched the back of his neck, fighting a grin as they entered the second level of the building and waited for the elevator. "Well. There is also that," he agreed.
The elevator doors pinged open and two men in black suits walked out, sparing them little more than a glance on their way. Benji stared at their retreating backs while Brandt hit the button for the top floor, one hand shoved deep in his pocket.
He leaned against the steel back of the elevator and watched the numbers above the doors as they changed rapidly. It was a tall building, and the journey up seemed to take a long time. Neither spoke, though Benji began to sing under his breath before a withering look from Brandt shut him up with a whispered apology.
The elevator ground to a halt when they reached their destination, and Brandt pushed away from the wall, taking the lead down the red carpeted corridor. The building had once been apartment blocks, and its older tenants were still in some of the rooms unused by the business that had since taken over.
It was for this reason that the guns each man carried bore the distinctive nozzle of a silencer attached to the barrel. On the off chance that the mission went awry, the less innocent people involved, the better.
"Is there going to be anyone in there?" Benji wondered as they approached the end of the corridor, coming to halt outside a doorway stamped with the numbers '445.'
Brandt knelt down by the door so that he was at eye level with the keyhole. He gave a one-shouldered shrug as he fished in his pocket for something to pick the lock with.
"He won't be. Ethan spotted him leaving twenty minutes ago. We got a gap of ten minutes."
Benji reached into his own breast pocket and produced a small, steel paperclip, which he handed wordlessly to Brandt.
"I know he won't be. But what if someone else was with him? We never checked."
There was a resounding click and the door swung open. Brandt pulled the paperclip from the lock and stood, straightening his jacket and shooting Benji a look tinged with impatience.
"Well, let's assume nobody is."
Benji stood unsurely at the threshold for a few moments, watching Brandt enter the room before he followed slowly.
It was more akin to a large office than living quarters, with several computers set up along the walls, and a desk littered with papers which Brandt headed for straight away.
The wall directly facing them when they walked in was made of glass, and Benji fought a wave of nervousness as he wandered over and caught the dizzying sight of ant-sized cars zooming by on the road below.
"Find anything?" he asked, walking back to the desk and peering over Brandt's shoulder at the papers he was rifling through.
Brandt nodded without looking up, eyes scanning the page in his hand. He handed it to Benji and turned to head for the door again.
The sound of an all too familiar click echoed around them, and they both froze. Standing at the door, five minutes earlier than expected,was the man whose passwords they were stealing.
He was tall, with a bald head and a shadow of stubble on his lower jaw. He held a revolver in front of him with both hands and he smirked as he edged into the room, kicking the door shut behind him.
"Who sent you?" he demanded in a thick Russian accent. "Who are you working for?"
Benji found quite quickly that his throat seemed to spontaneously close when he was held at gunpoint.
He looked helplessly toward Brandt, who broke the deafening silence with a nervous cough.
"We, ah, we work with the FBI. Some residents reported hearing strange sounds coming from one of the upstairs rooms. We were sent to check it out."
The Russian looked unconvinced, and Benji didn't blame him. Brandt was great in a fight, better with a gun, and was a hell of a friend, but lying was not a strong point.
"Sit down," the Russian said, gesturing with the gun toward one of the nearby couches that wasn't littered with papers.
Benji stayed where he was by the desk, debating what he should do. The Russian's gun was only aimed at Brandt, which gave him an advantage if he were to try reaching for his own. But what if he wasn't fast enough and Brandt was shot for his mistake?
Silently, he followed his friend to the couch and sat rigidly next to him. Tension seemed to roll off of them in waves, rebounding off each other and increasing as seconds ticked by and the Russian continued to aim his gun at them.
"So," he said finally, pulling a stool over from the desk and turning it to face them. He sat down, gun pointed squarely at Brandt's head, and chewed his lower lip in thought.
"You want my money? Do not lie to me," he added when Brandt opened his mouth to speak.
"He wasn't lying. We really are with the FBI. Seriously," Benji said. It might have been an awful lie, but he knew he was a better liar than Brandt, and was riding on the hope that he could at least sell it more convincingly.
"If that is the case, then you will arrest me if I let you go."
"No," Brandt said quickly. "No, we legally cannot arrest someone for protecting their property with or without firearms."
Benji looked at him, eyebrows furrowed, and recieved a sharp elbow in the side. Catching on, he began to nod vigorously.
"Oh, yeah. Yeah, guns are totally allowed for your own self-defence, and you had every right to jump to conclusions when you came in and saw us here rooting through your stuff -"
Brandt's foot whacked into his ankle and Benji stifled a yelp, shooting a glare in his friend's direction. The Russian, who had been looking on with some degree of bemusement while Benji spoke, was suddenly on his feet.
With a bang that had Benji jump in surprise, Brandt's shoulder splattered blood, and his head hit the back of the chair heavily.
"Fuck!" he shouted, hand covering the area the bullet had penetrated.
Benji watched with wide eyes as blood began to blossom from the wound, staining the sleeve and slowly dripping down onto the chair beside them.
Brandt's eyes shut tight against the pain, and he sucked in a deep, shuddering breath. To his credit, Benji mused, he hadn't screamed.
"You thieving scum!" the Russian shouted, gun hand flailing wildly as he began to mouth off in Russian too fast for either of them to understand.
Brandt grit his teeth and turned his head to face Benji. "Think you can tackle him?" He asked in a pained whisper.
Benji nodded mutely, turning back to look at the Russian just as he began to speak in English.
"You think I am stupid, huh? You think you can walk in and steal Rowland's codes and that I won't catch you, won't know what you are doing? Huh?"
Benji saw Brandt give a nod toward him from the corner of his eye, and without allowing himself time to think about what he was about to do, he dove for the Russian. His arms wrapped around his waist and knocked him to the ground, the gun clattering across the floor before the shocked man could react.
Brandt stumbled from the chair and snatched the gun from the floor, removing the magazine and ejecting the bullets with a speed Benji envied even from his awkward position on the floor, holding the Russian's hands above his head and leaning his weight into a knee that rested on the man's stomach.
Brandt pulled his own gun from inside his jacket, pointed it at the bald man, and motioned for Benji to get up.
The tech released his hold on the man's wrists and dug his knee in harder, winding the Russian and allowing himself time to scramble back and take Brandt's side.
Gun trained on the Russian, Brandt clicked back the safety and stepped back toward the door.
Benji glanced at him. "Are you alright?"
"Oh, yeah. Just peachy," Brandt snarked, not taking his eyes off the man who lay on the floor, watching them with a scowl.
Benji held up a hand as they backed toward the door. "Alright, alright. Just thought I'd ask, be polite. . ."
Brandt gave him a disbelieving look as they reached the door, gun still trained on the man lying glowering on the floor before them.
"Are you fucking serious?" he demanded. "There's a bullet lodged in my fucking shoulder. Of course I'm not alright!"
Benji made a face as he opened the door and withdrew his own gun. He ushered Brandt out ahead of him, feeling strangely disappointed when there was no argument given.
Before following, Benji turned in the doorway and looked at the Russian. He was sitting up, reaching toward his unloaded gun as he watched them leave.
Benji held up his revolver almost lazily and aimed for the Russian's shoulder.
Brandt stood outside, leaning heavily against the wall on his good shoulder and stealing occasional, pained glances at his injured one. Blood seemed to pump from the small wound at an alarming rate, and he tried not to roll his eyes out of bitterness when he realized the bullet must have hit an artery.
The muted zipping sound of a bullet from a silencer drew his attention back toward the door. It was followed almost immediately by a cry of pain, and he was drawing his strength to go back in when Benji suddenly appeared, clicking the door shut behind him and sheathing his gun back under his jacket.
"What did you do?" Brandt asked suspiciously.
Benji shrugged. "He shot you."
"I'd noticed. And you shot him back for me?"
Benji just grinned a little as he helped Brandt down the corridor, his relief at getting out fading fast when he saw the amount of blood covering Brandt's arm and dripping a trail along the carpet behind them.
He waited impatiently on the elevator, aware of Brandt's increasing weight against his side, the blood pooling from his arm onto the carpet beside them. When the doors shuddered open, he practically dragged him inside, hitting the ground floor button frantically.
Brandt leaned against the side of the elevator, eyes squeezed tightly shut.
"Can I have a look?" Benji asked.
Without waiting for an answer, he placed a hand on Brandt's good shoulder, pushed him down to a crouching position and knelt down in front of him.
The lack of protest from Brandt was mildly alarming, and only spurred Benji on as he pushed the jacket from Brandt's shoulders, sucking in a breath when he saw the entire arm and chest of his white shirt was stained with red.
"Okay." He tried to sound calm. He was a professional now after all, despite the fact that he'd never been on his own with a gun wound before. He wasn't sure what to say, but his mouth kept moving regardless. "Okay, that's. . .a lot of blood."
Brandt glared and Benji hurried on. "But it's probably not too bad. Well, I mean, it – it's definitely not too bad, it's only a shot to the arm. I mean, hell, I remember one time Ethan was shot in the -" he trailed off at the look he received. "But I'm sure it hurts," he finished pathetically.
"I hate you," Brandt stated as they reached the ground floor and the doors slid open.
Benji rolled his eyes and wrapped an arm around his waist, hoisting him to his feet. "That's gratitude for you."
"Gratitude?" Brandt repeated. "If it wasn't for you failing to keep watch -"
"Woah, hold on!" Benji protested. "When was it ever said that I was to keep watch?"
"Does it have to be said? I headed for the files, it was assumed that you were going to watch the corrridor."
Though indignant, Benji couldn't help but be slightly relieved. As long as Brandt was arguing with him, he wasn't focusing as much on his arm. The last thing he needed right now was for him to lose consciousness.
He kept the argument going until they reached the stone steps, determined not to have to drag an unconscious Brandt into the van. The streets were relatively empty as he half-dragged his friend across the road before finally setting him down to sit on a low wall and pulling his cell from his pocket.
Jane answered before the first ring and waited for Benji to speak.
"Hershey, this is Cadbury," he said. In his peripheral vision he could see the look of irritation on Brandt's face.
"Has the chocolate kiss been obtained?" Jane asked, voice laced with amusement.
Benji pulled the stolen page from his pocket. It was creased and folded, but he had it. "Confirmed."
"Great. See you soon."
He hung up glanced around before removing the sim from the back of the phone and bending it out of shape. He tossed it into a drain ahead just as the van rounded the corner.
It slowed neatly to a stop at the roadside in front of them, and the doors slid open to reveal Ethan standing in the back. He took one look at Brandt's blood stained shoulder and Benji's sheepish expression, and frowned.
"What the hell happened?"
Benji huffed as he helped Brandt into the van, where he fell heavily onto one of the cushioned benches, one hand pressed firmly to his shoulder.
"Turns out," Benji panted, "that our ten minute gap was actually a five minute gap."
Ethan looked quizzical as he slid the door shut behind them and the van started up again.
"I saw the guy leave," he said, folding his arms.
Benji took a seat next to Brandt, fingers slick with his friend's blood as he set to work unbuttoning the shirt.
"Ugh," Brandt groaned. "At least buy me dinner first."
Though his sense of humor was evidently intact, his eyes remained shut as he allowed Benji to pull his arms out of the sleeves and toss the balled up fabric to the floor behind him.
Ethan pulled the first aid box from under one of the benches and set to work loading a syringe, which he capped and handed to Benji.
He took it wordlessly and held it in his teeth as he cleaned around the area with a disinfectant wipe snagged from one of the smaller first aid kits nearby.
"You wish," he retorted, tugging the cap from the syringe with his teeth before plunging it into Brandt's arm, just below his elbow.
Brandt winced but remained silent as Benji cleaned up the wound and finally looked to Ethan, who seemed content to wait until later to ask questions. He sat on Brandt's other side and checked his pulse.
"The bullet still in there?"
"Damn. Gonna have to take him to the hospital."
"On it," Jane called from the front.
Satisfied, Benji leaned his head back against the seat and closed his eyes.
Ethan watched the pair with no small amount of admiration. He'd been working in this game for a long time, but never had he been on a team that were so like family - both to himself and to each other.
When the van hit a speed bump and Benji's head slipped to Brandt's uninjured shoulder, Ethan caught Jane's eye in the rearview mirror and didn't bother to fight against the amused smile that crept across his face.