A/N: Originally, Internal Affairs was a one-shot, cause I like one-shots. It's what I do. I rarely have the attention span for something longer. But a few people requested more, so I gave in. Thanks to Ve for the beta! I will probably have more coming, I just don't know when. In the meantime this chapter is also designed to be a one-shot, so no awful cliffies or anything. ;)
Jane had been stuck with "blood bag" duty on the way to the hospital. Every few minutes, Brandt had to spit out blood and saliva that he couldn't swallow, and Ethan would drop a bloodied paper towel into the trashbag she held. Benji had lovingly dubbed the job "blood bag" duty, but finally she had just yelled "I hate you all so much right now, starting with you, Benji!" The rest of the way to the hospital had been silent with the occasional spitting noises and moans of pain.
When they did arrive at the hospital, Ethan and Brandt had been whisked away for X-Rays while Jane remained to fill out their forms. The Parisian staff had asked her what happened. She glanced at Benji for a minute before answering back in French. "They were playing baseball and they crashed into each other."
The nurse looked skeptical. "Why are they wearing suits?"
Jane blinked before smiling. "They like to dress up. Typical Americans!" The nurse seemed to accept this at face value, and had asked Jane to sign some forms before sitting and waiting. Ethan was released a few hours later with some antibiotics and light pain killers. His nose was a dark blue color, but the doctor had reset it easily.
"What's going on with Brandt?" he asked with concern.
"They need to keep him over night, they have to do surgery tomorrow to re-wire his jaw," Jane said.
Ethan frowned, running his hand through his hair and looking quickly away from his teammates' eyes. "Do you have a phone?" he turned back them them. "I want to make sure the guy's someone sanctioned by us." Jane nodded, handing him hers. He walked away to a quieter section of the waiting room to make the call.
A nurse approached Benji and Jane then. "Are you two friends of Mr. Jones?" she asked in English. They nodded, knowing she meant Brandt. "You can see him now," she said smiling, leading the way. He wasn't in a private room, not for this, but he was looking decidedly unhappy in a bed wearing a hospital gown. A cup of water with a pink straw sticking out of it was on the table next to him.
Seeing his teammates come in, he mumbled "Just cause I'm staying overnight doesn't mean I have to wear a gown." Benji would have snickered, but the sight of Brandt's swollen and black jaw coupled with the IV of painkillers running through his system took the humor out of the situation. Brandt then asked "Where's Ethan?"
"Making a few phone calls," Jane assured him.
Brandt sank down into his pillows, looking a little relieved. It was apparent to Jane that maybe he wasn't quite over what had happened a few hours before, and she couldn't really blame him for that. She came closer and put her hand gently on his arm. "He's making sure you get the best surgeon," she told him.
"That's something," he mumbled. "What about the…weapon?" he finished, making sure there weren't any doctors or nurses within hearing distance.
"Another team's tracking it and will rendezvous shortly," Ethan's voice came from the doorway. Brandt whipped his head around, regretting it instantly, as a sharp pain cut through the dull ache the pain killers made of the mess that was his jaw. He gave a low moan.
"God, William, don't do that!" Jane admonished.
Ethan pretended not to notice, still not meeting Brandt's eyes. He pulled a plastic chair over to the side of his bed. "Carter, why don't you and Benji go back to the hotel, get some rest. I'll stay here." Benji opened his mouth to argue, but Jane cut him off.
"Will do. Call us if you need us." She practically pulled Benji out of the room.
"Feel better, Will, we'll be back tomorrow!" he waved.
Ethan chuckled, and Brandt gave a small smile. Neither man said anything for a few minutes.
"We're gonna take care of, Brandt," Ethan assured him.
"I know," he replied quietly.
"About earlier," Ethan started, but Brandt interrupted him.
"Look, can we talk about this later?" Brandt turned back over, looking Ethan in the eyes and vaguely motioning to the IV line. "Drugs and stuff…"
"Oh, right. Sure." Ethan nodded, seemingly very unsure.
"I'm not trying to…tryin' ta…" Brandt started to yawn before wincing sharply and moaning "…shit."
Ethan cringed in sympathy. "Get some rest. We'll talk later." Brandt nodded slightly as Ethan stood up to go back to the waiting room.
Two days later found Benji holding the door open for Brandt upon his return from the hospital. The swelling was nearly gone, but half of Brandt's jaw was nearly black. The bruising now stood out much more against the stark white bandages covering the stiches on the back side of his jaw from the surgery. "I can still walk and see, Benji," Brandt ground out.
"Sorry, just, you know, being polite!" Brandt flopped down on the couch in the hotel room, looking around slowly.
"Where are Ethan and Jane?"
Benji fidgeted nervously with a pen he had picked up off the coffee table. "Oh, they're, um, out." He said evasively.
"Ethan's got a broken nose. What kind of 'out'?"
"Well to be fair, Ethan's on surveillance. I think Jane is the one doing the actual, espionage…stuff."
"What?" Brandt moved to get up.
"No, hey, what are you doing?" Benji rushed around the couch.
"Why are they taking a mission? Ethan's injured," Brandt insisted, a twinge of guilt flowing from his gut at the knowledge that he was the one who caused it.
Benji sighed, grabbing his laptop off the table and plopping into the couch across from Brandt when he became sure he wasn't going to try and get up again. "Well…because of you, actually. Protocol is to send everyone home when the mission's done or canceled or whatever. But Ethan wasn't going to leave. So we all agreed to stay. And to do that, we needed something to do. Job-wise, you know."
Brandt looked down, struck by another pang of guilt. They could have gone home if it wasn't for him.
Benji seemed to notice his distress. "Hey, cut that out!"
"Cut what out?"
"It's not your fault we're here. I can see that look in your eyes! Ethan said this would happen."
"I mean…do you fancy some water?" Benji asked innocently.
Brandt smiled. "Sure,"
Benji grinned, putting the pen back in his mouth, and moved to the kitchenette.
"So Benji, did you have to do anything in this…mission?" Brandt asked.
"I got to make the mask! Not wear it of course, since it was a woman's mask, but I got to make it, which was nice. It's fantastic when those things work."
He seemed so pleased with himself, Brandt didn't want to point out that to "make" the masks you just had to turn the machine on.
Benji brought the water over, and Brandt slipped some painkiller pills into his mouth before drinking from the straw. "We uh…have some shakes, too." Benji pointed to a box next to the mini-fridge, filled with French protein shakes. He groaned. He wasn't supposed to do anything that involved chewing for a few days, but the sight of the protein shakes just filled him with dread.
Just then the lock mechanism in the door sounded and it opened. Jane's voice filtered through.
"-don't have to drive like that when we're not trying to stop nuclear war." She sounded peeved.
"I always drive like that," Ethan sounded offended.
"And it's downright terror-inducing," Brandt supplied.
"Brandt!" Jane said excitedly, upon seeing him. "How are you feeling? Do you want a shake?"
"Ugh, God, no," he mumbled.
"We have jello, too," Benji offered helpfully.
"Stick it up your ass, Benji."
"That's uncalled for," Benji moped. Switching gears, he focused his attention on Ethan. "How'd the mask work?"
Ethan looked thoughtful for a minute. "Well, good, if you take out the fact that Jane took it off to early and had to shoot a guy who saw her without it."
"You didn't tell me there was a fifth guy," she growled.
"I thought you could see him. He was the guy in the lobby making the shifty eyes and lifting his cellphone to his ear every few seconds."
"Ethan, that's your job, to tell me that. It doesn't matter if I see it or not."
Ethan looked at his watch. "Well, we have about five hours before you have to get back out there."
"I'm taking Dunn, then."
"I could go," Brandt supplied.
They all turned towards him at once, and all answered with a resounding "No."
Brandt's face fell.
"Brandt, you're not going anywhere," Jane said sternly.
"-you're on pain medication, you can barely move your mouth, and you just got out of surgery."
"Well, when you say it like that," he mumbled, turning back around on the couch.
"I'm taking a nap before we go again."
Benji sniggered slightly as she made her way to the bedroom.
"I heard that, Benji!" she snarled, before slamming the door behind her.
Ethan was writing on a piece of hotel stationary. As he finished, he ripped it off the pad and gave it to Benji. "Go to the store and pick this up."
Benji's eyes scrolled over the list. "Ethan, a quarter of this is hard liquor."
Ethan responded by making a "shoo"-ing motion with his hands. Benji grabbed his jacket, mumbling something about how IMF never let him charge hard liquor.
After he left, Ethan plopped down on the on the smaller couch opposite Brandt where a bunch of pillows were piled up. Apparently, he had been sleeping there since he wasn't allowed to lie down flat. At least for once he was trying to follow the doctor's orders, Brandt mused.
"How was the surgery?" Ethan asked almost lazily.
"Good I guess. I was unconscious for most of it."
Ethan shot him a look that said Oh, please. "How are you feeling now?" he asked.
Brandt shrugged one shoulder. "Been worse."
"Will," Ethan began slowly. "I want you to know…I do value your insight. You're a great asset to this team. You think logically, and you're a great balance. Lately I've been…"
"Sort of a dick?" Brandt offered.
Ethan laughed. "Yeah, sure. Sort of a dick. So I just wanted to tell you…don't be afraid to tell me if you don't agree with my decisions, and in return I'll try not to break your face."
"Oh, you'll try?" Brandt smiled. "That's very comforting, coming from the team leader."
"Listen, Ethan, I'm sorry I haven't been so trusting of you. Getting back in the field…" he hesitated. "It's been…difficult for me. After what happened." He looked down.
"I know," Ethan said reassuringly. "So don't even worry about it."
"So…we're good?" Brandt asked hesitantly.
"I should be asking you that. You're the one who had jaw surgery."
Brandt nodded, giving a tiny smile. "Yeah. Well, thanks for sticking around."
Ethan stood up, giving the other agent's knee a pat. "Least I could do after breaking your jaw."