Ok, so here's an epilogue. I really hope I haven't gone and ruined the whole story. LOL I have made Benji do something a little drastic in this chapter. A bit silly of him, but I wanted him to do something that would hit Brandt hard (no he doesn't literally hit Brandt) and make him realise the point Benji is trying to make in the chapter. I hope it isn't too out of character.
Enjoy!

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It had thrown Brandt off a little when he got Benji's text message.

Bar. 10 minutes. I'm buying.

Brandt had stared incredulously at his phone. He knew Benji well enough to know that when he offers to buy, he needs to talk to you. This couldn't be good. Regardless, Will grabbed his jacket and made the walk down the street from their hotel to the local bar the technician was referring to, spotting his friend almost immediately as he stepped inside. With a deep breath, he made his way across the room and when Benji saw him, he immediately put down his drink.

"Hey." He spoke with a smile as he motioned for the analyst to sit. "What are you having?"

"Uh, whatever you're having." Brandt took his spot and waited for his friend to order his drink. It had been just over a week since the incident with Bisley and the pair still had their wounds to show for it. Brandt was using a crutch to aid his injured leg and had a small mark on the back of his shoulder from the falling debris. His other shoulder would scar up nicely from the knife wound he sustained in the alley. Benji on the other hand, had more tell-tales signs of what he went through. As the tech turned back to him, Brandt saw the stitches on his forehead and the small white strips covering the edge of his eyebrow, along with the slowly fading bruise around his right eye. People on the street would probably assume he was just a guy who got into a drunken fight, but Brandt knew the truth.

"How's the leg?" Benji asked once Brandt's beer had arrived. Despite them staying in the same hotel, the pair hadn't really had a chance to talk since the incident.

"It's getting there; sore, but I'll live. How about you? How're you holding up?"

"Oh, you know, same old same old." Benji looked down at his glass as he ran his finger around the rim. Brandt knew he was lying, straight away. He had heard the technician's cries in the night as he fought the memories of what had happened. He wanted to do nothing more than to run into the adjacent room and help, but he knew Benji liked to deal with his things personally and alone. And as hard as it was for him to ignore his friend's thrashing, he had to respect that.

"Yeah…" Brandt offered a small smile as the tech looked up and took a sip from his drink. He wasn't really sure what to say. Fortunately, Benji must have sensed that and spun his chair around slightly so that he was facing him.

"Look, Brandt, I know we haven't had much chance to, you know, talk about… what happened. But I've still seen you. Over the past week, you've barely been able to look at me for more than a few seconds without turning away. What's going on in there? Please tell me." Brandt saw the sincerity and sadness-verging- on-pain in the younger man's blue eyes. Truth be told, the analyst knew that he had been doing just that, even subconsciously.

"I'm sorry, Benji. I just… I'm finding it hard to convince myself that it wasn't my fault Bisley got to you."

"But Brandt, I thought I said-"

"No, please Benji. I know you said you don't blame me and I can accept that. I just can't stop myself from blaming me, you know."

"But why, Will?" the way Benji produced his question seemed almost childlike and it only reminded Brandt of how vulnerable the tech had been. "It isn't your fault."

"Benj, it may not be an official part of my job, but I assigned myself the task of watching out for my friends. You, Jane… hell, even Ethan. When I failed to protect Julia in Croatia, I swore to myself that I would watch out for those close to me. And that I would protect them no matter what. But, when I saw those men throw you into that van, I knew that I had failed again."

Benji stared at the man in shock, trying to let the words settle into his brain. Suddenly, without warning, he stood up and began to make his way across the room, causing Brandt to tilt his head in confusion. He quickly rose to his feet and followed the technician into the restroom. Once they were inside, no one else in the cold, echoing room, Benji turned to Brandt. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small pen knife he kept there, causing Brandt's heart rate to double, dreading what Benji was planning on doing. He watched, mesmerised, as his friend took a deep breath and squeezed his eyes shut before letting the blade slice across the palm of his hand, bright red liquid dripping into the sink. Benji gasped as the stinging pain hit him and he dropped the knife into the bowl in front of him.

"What the hell, Benji?" Brandt began to step towards him, stopping when Benji looked at him, his blue orbs more penetrating than he'd ever seen. "I…"

"Brandt, it is so easy for people to get hurt. Look." He held his hand out to the perplexed analyst who blinked a few times and shook his head in disbelief.

"But, Benji, you did that yourself…"

Benji rolled his eyes and sighed. "I know that, Brandt. What I'm trying to tell you is that whether it's me hurting myself, or someone else inflicting it on me. Whether it's an accident or intentional. Things will hurt me. It's part of life." Brandt listened as the usually light hearted agent sounded serious and intense. "I could walk out there, right now, and be hit by a truck." Brandt winced at the thought. Why was Benji being so morbid? "It could happen. But that's because danger is everywhere. Every time I get up in a morning, anything could happen. But that's just how it is. And nothing can change that. This wasn't the first time I've got into a sticky situation and I can't promise you that it won't be the last. Brandt, you're my best friend. You look out for me, and I do the same for you; that's what friends do. But protecting me isn't your job. To do that, you'd probably have to, I don't know, wrap me in bubble wrap or something."

"I might just have to after this little stunt, Benji."

"Yeah, well if it gets the message into your head… Brandt… I've spent the past week thinking to myself; was it my fault that you guys got into that situation at the warehouse? Was it my fault that you got shot? I keep having this tugging at my mind that if I'd been stronger against Bisley, if I'd been able to fight harder, then none of that would have happened. It's a hard feeling to shake, but I just have to convince myself that it wasn't my fault. You need to do the same." Benji gave a pleading look towards Brandt and felt relieved when he saw his friend nod. "Look, are we good?"

Brandt gazed at his friend for a few moments before sighing. "Yeah. Yeah, we are."

"Ok."

"Now can we please get that hand sorted out?" Brandt pointed to the cut on his friend's hand and raised his eyebrows.

"Good thinking." Benji smiled as he leaned over the sink, rinsing the blood off the wound. There was a brief moment of quiet as the pair cleaned the cut before Benji broke the silence that had taken hold. "Thanks, Will."

"You're welcome." Brandt smiled. "Though I ain't helping you explain this to Ethan. You're on your own for that." Benji gave a laugh, which turned into an 'ow' as the wound was cleaned. However he was laughing again when he heard Brandt whisper a single word.

"Wuss."

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So there it is. Like I said, I know Benji cutting his hand was a little odd, but I wanted him to do something to prove to Brandt that he can't stop Benji from getting hurt.
Hope it was ok…
Much love x