Thanks go out to Red Tigress and Alex Kade, without whom I would still be stuck in a land of non-editing. This would be riddled with errors without both of them!


His hands were sweating so much the gun nearly slipped from his grip. He fumbled, managed to trap it against his thigh and tried to ignore the glare Jane sent him from across the room.

Ethan's hand rested on his shoulder, his whispered words echoing in Brandt's head. "Breathe. You can do it."

He could do it. He knew he could. But as he clicked the safety back, took aim and managed to steady his hand, the doubt crept back. As though sensing it, Jane's head snapped up and she met Brandt's eyes.

Her arms were tied behind the chair, ankles chained around it, and there was a woman standing right behind her. The space between the top of Jane's head and the woman's chin was mere millimeters. It didn't matter that he had the best aim out of the entire team. It didn't matter that the target was not half as difficult as some he had faced in his career. What mattered was that he couldn't afford to miss. He couldn't afford to accidentally hit Agent Carter.

"Do it now," Ethan said.

He did. His finger pulled back as he drew a breath, and then bullet was through the woman's skull and Jane was splattered in blood that wasn't her own. She looked up, met Brandt's gaze again and nodded her thanks.

Benji appeared from behind them, uncharacteristic silence broken as he muttered under his breath on his way down the podium to untie agent Carter.


The village was filled with isolated elders and frustrated young people.

When the team arrived, they were met with hostility from the former and an abundance of curiosity from the latter. It surprised no one when they began to be tailed through the town at night by cars full of smoking teenagers.

It surprised everybody when one of the kids struck up a conversation with Brandt while he was setting up a camera on the outskirts of the town one night.
"So what are you, like a speed cop or something?" the girl asked, arms folded across a barely covered chest.

Brandt glanced up – realized quickly that at this angle it was a bad idea - and looked back to the camera he was shoving into the ground.

"An analyst."

"Huh." She shrugged a shoulder. "You don't look that old."

"I'm not."

"Good. Wanna take me to the movies?"

He spluttered and Benji's laugh whooping through the comm was enough to make him cringe.


The girl knew him from passing through.

He was cute and quirky, was often arguing with his English friend when he came in. She offered them discounts when they bought from her store, and it made them come back.

Sometimes they came by twice in a week, and sometimes they didn't come for six months. But they always came back.

When he came back alone one day, sporting a black eye and a bloodied shirt, she stared and wondered what to do.

He said nothing, bought the same things he always bought, offered her a small smile. She asked if he was alright, realizing halfway through how ridiculous that sounded because of course he wasn't okay, and he laughed a little when she stuttered and trailed off.

She watched him walk out of the shop and told nobody about the visit. She decided to tell no one about any of the visits. She kept him and his snarky little friend to herself, and smiled hopefully every time the bell above the door dinged to announce a customers arrival.


He lay in bed for a long time that morning.

His head hurt, his back ached, his pride was wounded.

Ethan knew. It was hard to understand even that much. He had been assigned the mission, it had been his job to protect the woman, but they had still opted not to inform him that she was alive.

The new team was good. The night before, over cold beers and post-mission adrenaline, he had been excited at the prospect of working with Hunt and co again.

Early dawn light began to filter through the curtains, illuminating particles of dust as they swirled through the stagnant air of his hotel room.

Brandt sat up and sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair. It was time to move on.


He raced through the sewers, Hunt on his tail and Carter somewhere behind.

A gun in each hand, a knife tucked into his belt, a pen in his breast pocket, because he was still an analyst after all.

There was a glow of light at the end and he sped up, fished in his pocket for something to pick the flimsy lock with and shoved the sewer grate aside.

They were in a warehouse, and voices came from a half-open door to the left. Brandt ignored Hunt's hissed warning and ghosted along one of the walls until he stood outside the door, side to the wall.

He noticed Carter give him a somewhat proud look as she raced across to join him, Hunt following after an internal debate that played out across his face.

"Your friends will be here soon," a voice said from inside.

Benji's response was immediate. "You have no idea, mate."

There was the scrape of chair legs across the ground, followed by a startled squeak from Benji, and a crash. A peer through the crack in the door showed that the chair Benji was tied to was now on its back, and a small amount of blood was beginning to pool around the tech's head.

Brandt had seen enough. He ducked inside the room, kept his back to the wall and steadied both guns at the men who stood on either side of Benji, mouths open in shock.

Benji gave him a mouthed 'thanks' as Hunt helped him out of the chair and back onto his feet. Brandt just shook his head.


Brandt had been sulking since they'd left Miami.

No one bothered to ask why; his moods were not exactly unheard of, and everyone had their own ways of dealing with them.

Benji tended to poke fun at him, make "time of the month" gags that earned him a none-too-gentle punch from Jane if she happened to overhear. Sometimes, this was enough to break Brandt out of his mood. Most times it wasn't.

Ethan, if he noticed, paid it no mind. He treated Brandt just as he would at any other time, and if his orders were met with a louder door slam than was necessary or a mumbled cursing of his name, he conveniently didn't hear.

Jane would sometimes offer to talk to him about it, and he would decline with a grunt before returning his gaze to the passing street because it seemed that these moods only ever took hold when they were traveling a great distance.

It was Summer and girls in this part of the city seemed to take that as an okay to wear next to nothing when they went out. Brandt turned his head and met Ethan's eyes in the rearview mirror.

"Okay back there?" Hunt asked.

Brandt nodded wordlessly, ignored the suspicious look Benji sent between him and Ethan.

No one else really had to know about his hatred of long journeys.


It was cold and clinical.

Brandt remembered his training, kept a blank expression even as he by-passed several white sheets that only half-covered the dissected human bodies beneath.

Benji was in the van outside, was the only reason he had gotten this far. It was only a matter of time before they noticed all the security locks were disabled, but there was enough time to perform the extraction.

He passed through the next room, filled with steel cages and screeching monkeys with plugs in their heads that disturbed him so much he had to look away.

"How you doing?" Benji asked. Even he wasn't going to bother trying to lighten this one up.

Brandt shrugged a shoulder that he knew Benji couldn't see, pushed open the last door and froze when his eyes fell on the target. A young, quivering child of no more than seven years old. Large blue eyes, swollen from crying, strands of blonde hair hanging limp around her shoulders.

"I found her."


The sky was blue and the sun hung high above them.

They weren't working, and nothing had to be done. It was an unusual experience, but one they had long ago learned to take advantage of when it showed itself.

Benji had retreated to the seats on the deck, shielding himself with a large sun umbrella and sipping a brightly coloured drink as he peered at the rest of the team from over his dark sunglasses.

Ethan, clad in a white shirt and black slacks, had been unable to remain stationary for that long. He lay in the grass, performing push ups with an ease that only years of training could achieve.

Jane lay in a bikini and sarong on a towel laid out on the grass, sunglasses covering her eyes and magazine covering her nose and mouth. She could have been asleep, but none of them were brave enough to attempt waking her.

Brandt laughed as he tossed a waterlogged stick high overhead, watching as it fell with a splash into the sparkling blue water of the lake beside them. Jodie - a scruffy old stray that Brandt had been feeding since their arrival - dived in after it with a delighted yip.

Benji pushed his sunglasses up to cover his eyes, took a sip of his drink and shouted, "Why are you allowed to keep the dog? I wanted to keep that cat we found in Portugal and Ethan said no."

Brandt shrugged, leaning down and slapping his hands to his knees as the excited dog bounded over, stick hanging out of her mouth. Her black and white coat was drenched, and she paused to shake it dry after dropping the stick at Brandt's feet.

He jumped back at the shower of water sent over him, and shot Benji a glower when he sniggered loudly.


Brandt didn't cry.

It wasn't his way of dealing with things.

But when he arrived at the shop one day, two years since his last visit, a card in one hand and a smile on his face, he wasn't expecting the news he got.

"She died."

Ethan looked at him, eyebrows raised with surprise. "Who died?" he asked carefully, because really he had to prepare himself for anything.

Brandt walked into the kitchen, head down, and tossed something into the bin. He leaned back against the oven that none of them used and sniffed, scrubbing a hand down his face.

"The. . .the girl. Died."

It was his tone of voice, the fact that he had headed to the shop for the first time in two years without being prodded to do so by anybody that had Ethan finally putting the pieces together.

Benji walked in a couple of hours later, and the look on his face told them that he knew. When Brandt left to go for a walk, neither had to say it, but Benji did anyway.

"It was the shop girl," he said.

Ethan nodded. "Yeah."

They were silent when he returned.


They all stared, open mouthed, when she slunk by.

The woman was dark haired and wore a red dress that stopped mid-thigh, only just managing to cover her pushed up chest.

She took a seat at the bar next to them, and predictably three pairs of eyes followed. A loud clap followed by a waving of Jane's hand in front of their faces snapped them out of it.

"What?" Benji asked, sounding genuinely confused.

"Are you guys serious?" Jane hissed, eyes darting to the woman, who was currently watching their analyst with an almost predatory expression.

"I have never been more serious about anything in my entire life," Brandt said.

He turned in his chair to face the woman, and shot her a smile. Their words were drowned out by the music and chatter in the bar, but when two minutes later the woman stood and gestured for Brandt to follow her with a well-practiced smile, he waited until she was two paces ahead before shooting a thumbs up to his team.

"Really? I mean - really?" Benji demanded as he stared at his friend's retreating back.

Jane sighed heavily and massaged her temples. "I can't believe him," she said.

Ethan looked at her and shrugged as he drained the last of his beer from the glass and stood up. "Didn't think he had it in him."