A/N: Once again, all my thanks to the Beta Branch, specifically Sick for the beta and Alex K for the kickstarter. Again, the first paragraph is hers, but I took it and ran with it. But it's really thanks to everyone over there that I've been writing this much. I've never written this many fanfics for one fandom, much less over the course of a few months. It's a blast. And I am eager to please!
"'Hey! Let's make Brandt do it! He likes jumping into computer arrays, crawling through half-buried bunkers, and swimming through underwater grates!' Assholes." Brandt slid down the rope to the bottom of the elevator shaft seven floors below, where he was supposed to wait until Benji slowly lowered the car down, stopping it just above his head. He continued ranting in his false chipper tone as he carefully set down his pack. "'It'll be easy, Brandt! Just plant the charge and we'll get you out of there before it blows! Nothing will go wrong!' Yeah. Right. We're just going to forget all about the fan, and the cave-in, and the water pump malfunction. Damn elevator's probably going to come down on my head." He regretted the words the second they came out of his mouth.
The elevator made a kur-chunk noise, and Brandt's whole body tensed as it dropped a few feet. Not lowered, dropped. He waited for a few seconds, but it seemed the elevator wasn't moving again.
He angrily switched his comm link to unmute. "Benji!" he hissed. "The hell was that?"
There was a momentary burst of static before Benji's casual tone floated over the comm. "Sorry, damn thing must be rusty or something. Having a wee bit of trouble lowering it smoothly. How tall are you again?"
"Benji, that's not funny."
"I'm not laughing. I just want to make sure we have the measurements right." As he was speaking, the elevator descended another floor, but slowly this time. "Also, you should be using my codename. Remember, it's Dutch."
The elevator continued its slow descent as Brandt stared warily at it. "I still maintain you should not have been Dutch."
"Well, you took T-800, and then we got Conan over here-"
"Guys, please cut the chatter." Jane's disembodied voice reached their ears, sounding more than a little irritated. The soft sounds of a crowd and music could be heard.
"Roger that, Tasker."
The elevator had descended another floor now, but Brandt started hearing a screeching noise. "Dutch…"
With little warning, the elevator plummeted towards the ground. Brandt didn't have time to think as he hit the ground and covered his head with his arms, hoping against hope he wouldn't die down here.
The elevator screeched to a halt as suddenly as it had started. Problem was it was only two feet above Brandt's body. Someone was shouting in his ear, but he was too busy willing his heart to stop racing and was focusing on deep breaths to understand them.
"T-8? T-8? Will!"
"What happened?" Ethan's voice, sounding on the verge of panic came over the comm.
"Benji…tried to kill me…" Bradnt panted.
He could hear collective sighs of relief being issued.
"Are you alright?" Benji's worried voice spoke up.
"Yeah, um…" Brandt rolled over onto his back, lifting his hands in the air to feel where the elevator was. His fingers brushed metal before he could fully extend his arms. "…just trapped." He finished. He pulled the rappel cables out from underneath him, grunting as he did so. "Do you think you could do something about that? No rush."
"Yeah, just…I need a few minutes."
"Can you still lay the charges?" Ethan's voice. Of course.
"I have about eight square feet of maneuvering room, and you want me to start laying out the C-4? Are you insane?"
"It won't explode without the detonator," Ethan said matter-of-factly.
Brandt gave a heavy sigh, and scrunched up his face. "It won't explode without the detonator," he mimicked in an annoying voice.
"I can hear you."
"Yeah, I know!" Brandt shot back. He reached up to his forehead where he had a headlamp and switched it on. The light did little in the confined space, other than highlight where exactly the bottom of the elevator was. He wasn't sure if that made him feel better or worse. Reaching above himself, he felt around for his pack, and his hands brushed burlap. Pulling it down to his side, he fished around in it until he felt the solid bricks of C-4 and pulled them out. He wiggled around on his back, placing each of the charges in a corner of the elevator car. As he did so, he put the charges in them as well, priming the detonator, which he put in his vest pocket.
"Dutch," he seethed, "can I get an ETA on when there won't be explosives six inches from my face?"
In answer, the car above him shuddered and Brandt froze. Much to his relief, the car started moving back up the shaft and he let out a breath he didn't realize he had been holding. "I would move now, T-1000." Brandt mentally agreed, and sat up, pulling the crowbar out from inside his pack. He stood up and shoved the crowbar in between the two doors that led into the hallway of the lowest floor of the consulate. Grunting, he pried them apart, then pulled one the rest of the way. Throwing the crowbar into the hall in front of him, he turned around to grab his back, before hopping out of the shaft quickly.
As he stood up, he was face to face with the barrel of a gun. The consulate guard on the other end of it did not look happy. He grinned sheepishly. "Uh, Ni hao," he tried. Shit, his mandarin was awful.
The guard began railing something off in Chinese, making motions with his hands and Brandt dropped his pack.
"What's happening?" Benji asked. Brandt ignored him. Now that his hands were in the air and the pack had dropped, the guard felt more confident. He took a step forward.
Brandt moved to one side and grabbed his gun, sliding the barrel backwards and pushing the pin at the same time before yanking it forwards again. The slide came clear in an instant, leaving the stunned guard no time to contemplate Brandt's follow-up left hook to the side of his head. He was down in seconds.
"Are you guys about done, cause I'm ready to leave," Brandt said.
"Target's moving towards the elevator now," Ethan said quietly. Brandt moved down the hallway, away from the shaft. The explosion would be large, but wouldn't kill the people inside. Just toss them around a little, so Brandt could get in, grab their briefcases with classified files about the Chinese government, and get out again. But as he moved down the hall, the echo of multiple footsteps could be heard. Shit. The guard he took out earlier probably had time to call for backup.
"I got company," he mumbled.
"What kind of company?" Jane asked quickly.
"The armed kind. Is the target in the elevator?" Brandt began quickly moving back the way he came. About six guards rounded the corner, and catching sight of him began yelling and drawing their weapons. Brandt kicked down a side door next to the elevator shaft before diving in the room for cover.
"Target's in the elevator."
"This is probably gonna hurt," Brandt mumbled. He waited until the guards were almost to the door, before he opened the pocket in his vest and pushed the detonator.
The effect was instantaneous. A fireball blew down the hallway, sending the guards flying and incinerating a few. The entire floor rattled and even though Brandt was off to the side of the blast, he was thrown violently against the wall. He fell to the floor, dazed, and lay there for a while staring at the flames licking the doorway.
After what seemed like hours but was probably only about a minute, he saw a hand appear in the doorframe. Someone was crawling along the floor. He blinked, than slowly began to fumble for his gun as the muzzle of a 9mm came into view.
Brandt's ears were still ringing, but he heard a dull gunshot ring out. Brandt watched as the hand and gun in the doorway fell to the floor. He blinked slowly again, before someone appeared in the doorway.
"Ethan?" he slurred.
Ethan was speaking to him, but he couldn't hear anything. "Can't hear you," he mumbled, rolling his head back. A sharp slap to the face brought him around and he glared angrily. Ethan glared back, before grabbing his arm and throwing it over his own shoulder, pulling Brandt up.
Brandt's world spun, but he did his best to walk out of there while leaning most of his weight on his teammate. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, he probably had a concussion, and there were probably more guards on the way, and as soon as he could hear again Ethan was going to probably chew him out.
As they made their way through a corridor of back hallways, Brandt's hearing gradually began to return. As did some nausea.
"Uh…slow down," he mumbled.
"What?" Ethan didn't slow down, instead dashing down a corridor to their left, before kicking a door that led outside to a fire escape. Luckily, they were only about a story above the back parking lot.
"Slow down…please." Brandt tried. Ethan ignored him, taking the stairs two at a time, with Brandt doing his best to keep up.
"Dutch, we're in the back. Come get-" Ethan was cut off as Brandt vomited all over his shoes.
To Ethan's credit, he didn't flinch. "Sorry," Brandt whispered, spitting.
Ethan resumed a normal pace the rest of the way down.
They only had to wait about a minute before the van came around the side of the building, the door sliding open with Jane in the back. Her nose wrinkled up almost immediately. "What is that?"
"Me," Ethan said. "Courtesy of T-800 here."
Brandt gave a low moan as he was basically steered into the van by his teammates.
"I can't believe he blew himself up," Benji mumbled. "And here I thought Ethan was the person who did that."
Brandt smiled. "Hey, Benji…you gotta mask." Benji was wearing a mask to make him look like an old, Chinese military official.
Benji tore out of the parking lot. "Well, my mandarin's better than yours, and I don't know how else you expected us to get out of a Chinese consulate after we set off explosives inside it. And God, what is that smell?"
Brandt remembered the mission then. "Shit," he moaned sitting up. His nausea returned full force, but Jane held out her clutch for him, looking disgusted. "Sorry," he mumbled again. "The papers?" he pressed.
"I got them," Ethan said.
"By jumping down the elevator shaft after C-4 had exploded in it," Jane said shaking her head. "I can't believe you didn't break something."
"Practice, I guess." Ethan said nonchalantly.
"God, we…fail so hard…without you."
Ethan just gave a small smile. "I won't deny it's nice to have someone else blow themselves up once in a while."
Jane rolled her eyes. "You're just saying that because he puked on your shoes."
"Sorry, Ethan," Brandt mumbled again.
"It's ok. I'm glad you're okay enough to apologize."
"Well…I didn't stand directly in front of it…not…stupid, you know."
Ethan let out a huge laugh.