Author's Note: Thanks to PeggsterLover, GimlisBeard and The Beta Branch for their beta reading and support! Hugs to all of you!
Disclaimer: As always, no copyright, no money, just pure fun!
— † —
"Tell me again why we of all people have to do this?"
Ethan resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Because the target always chooses such occasions to deliver his products and IMF needed someone with inside knowledge of the community to pose as the buyer."
Brandt poked a finger in his team leader's direction. "Now, why am I going to be the buyer? Why don't you do it? You're better at this than me."
When he received an irritated glare, he shrugged his shoulders. "Just asking. Right, I fit the description. Okay. But there's one more thing: I don't have that inside knowledge. I could just as well wear a neon sign with 'I don't know shit' around my neck."
Ethan just shook his head. "Even if I fit the description, there's a reason why I am monitoring the mission this time." He poked at the blue splint that secured his right arm while glaring pointedly at Will.
"Aha! So this is about revenge? I would have told you about my plan if I'd had the time!"
His team leader just shook his head. He had grown very fond of the analyst, like they all had, but he could be quite irritable if he thought a mission to be poorly planned out. This mission proved to be one of those. Nobody had known what the target looked like or how he made contact with the buyers of the information on principal witnesses and police informers – until yesterday.
IMF computer scientists had stumbled across the deal while monitoring the email account of a local desperado they wanted to bust. And now their team was sent in to take care of both – with no time left to prepare the mission properly.
Ethan allowed himself a small grin. "I didn't tell you yet who your partner on this mission will be."
Brandt's eyebrows shot into his hairline. "My partner? Is he the one with the inside knowledge? Do I know him?"
Jane chose this moment to interrupt the discussion she had been watching in the rear-view mirror. "We're at the meeting point." The grin was evident in her voice.
Will turned to her with suspicion written all over his face. "You know who it is, don't you?"
She struggled to contain an amused chuckle. "Yes, I do. But you will never know if you don't get out of this van asap."
The analyst looked down at his jeans, shirt and leather boots – all in black – before he climbed out of the door Ethan had opened for him. "This is ridiculous," he muttered under his breath.
His team leader laughed. "You'll live," he teased before pulling the door shut.
Will watched the van disappear around the corner. "Ridiculous," he repeated, his already sour mood reaching a new low.
"Agent Brandt, are you ready then?"
Said Agent Brandt closed his eyes for a moment before turning to the source of the voice. "You've got to be kidding me!"
Agent Benjamin Dunn stepped out of the shadows with a big grin on his face. "Surprise!" He laughed when he caught the glare his friend levelled him with. "Don't give me that look. I had nothing to do with it."
Will eyed the getup of his team mate – plain shoulder bag, leather boots and jeans, black like his own, but – What the hell? An Iron Maiden shirt? "Where did you get those clothes?"
Benji planted his hands on his hips, clearly offended. "These are my own!"
His friend succumbed to a fit of laughter, before a thought crossed his mind and cut it short abruptly. "Wait! You're the insider?" The technician raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth to reply. "No, don't answer! Let me get this straight, okay? I'm going to pose as the buyer with no knowledge whatsoever and you're there to help me out with the information I need?"
He watched Benji nod with an unreadable expression on his face. "Well, then this is even more ridiculous than I thought! Why don't you go in with a mask?"
Benji rolled his eyes. "Security check! Ever heard of that?" He laughed at the sheepish expression on Will's face. "Have you been to a concert before?"
— † —
"Would you mind looking a little less irritated?" Benji regarded his friend with an annoyed expression on his face. They'd been waiting to get inside the music club for ten minutes now and Will's foul mood hadn't changed. It had gone even more downhill, if possible.
"Would you mind looking a little less excited?", Will retorted. He poked Benji in the ribs. "This is a mission. Stop acting like you're on god-damn vacation!"
"Ow!" A grin appeared on Benji's face. "I don't get invited by IMF to watch a concert for free very often." His grin turned even wider. "A Blind Guardian concert at that!"
His friend shot him an annoyed look. "You're doing your job here, not watching a concert!" He threw his hands up in a gesture of pointed exasperation. "And stop saying that band's name like they were The Rolling Stones! I've never heard of them before!"
Benji crossed his arms over his chest and raised his eyebrows, shooting him a dirty look that clearly said 'It isn't my fault that you know nothing about good music!'. "They headlined Wacken Open Air last year!"
Will just closed his eyes, resigning himself to his fate. "They headlined what?"
"Wacken Open Air! The biggest Heavy Metal festival in the world!" Benji sighed when he only received a half-hearted shrug in return. "It's in Germany." Another shrug. "Ah, forget it!"
Will watched his team member turn away from him in order to direct his pout the opposite way. He smiled and shook his head, wondering – not for the first time - how Benji managed as a field agent with his irritability threshold being so low. Wait a minute! Didn't your own irritability start this whole argument?
Shushing his conscience, he hesitantly put a hand on Benji's shoulder. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? There are so many things that could go wrong on this mission. I'm just worried."
His team mate watched him out of the corner of his eye. "Are you going to stop being miffed now?"
Will performed a mock salute. "Yes, sir!"
Benji laughed and mirrored the movement. "Well, we're good then, sir!"
Both agents jumped when Ethan's voice suddenly echoed in their ears. "Stop fooling around and focus on the mission!"
Will snorted. "Get out of my head! I'm still angry with you!"
Benji's snicker was cut short when the analyst elbowed him in the ribs. "Hey, stop that! What is it with you and my ribs today?"
Jane's voice suddenly joined the banter conference. "I'm wondering if they are going to ask you to show your ID cards. A band of five-year-olds isn't actually allowed to watch a Heavy Metal concert without a legal guardian, is it?" She struggled to suppress a chuckle. "Pun intended."
Will opened his mouth to retort, but was interrupted by the chunky security guard that appeared next to him seemingly out of nowhere. "Tickets?" The man held out a hand and raised his eyebrows, already annoyed when both agents just stared at him for a second.
"Of course." Benji smiled despite the irritation that shone in his eyes and pulled the tickets from his bag, smoothly handing them over. He put a hand on Will's shoulder who looked ready to say something insulting to the unfriendly man and mouthed 'Not worth it!' while the guard checked the admission codes. The analyst huffed, but decided to trust the experience of his friend. No need to get in a fight right before the mission actually begins.
"Right." The security guard thrust the tickets in Will's general direction who took them with a sickly sweet smile. Son of a bitch! The impatient man turned to Benji. "Your bag."
He rummaged through the bag, being anything but careful. Benji's smile froze, but he didn't move until the guard took a step back and waved them through without another word. Both agents shot him a glare which he deliberately ignored.
"Bastard!," Will muttered under his breath.
Benji nodded. "Agreed."
— † —
While Will understood and tolerated the basic concept of a support band, it was beyond his grasp why on Earth the headlining bands or their tour manager or whoever was responsible always seemed to choose obviously bad support bands on purpose. Sure, there happened to appear good ones on stage, too, but they were few and far between. And Will wasn't that lucky to get one of those on the one day he got to watch a concert for free.
Benji interrupted his musings by shoving him in the shoulder with a cup of beer he had decided to fetch while the poor support band tried their best to entertain the audience. There was not much else they could do other than standing around and trying to look inconspicuous, anyway. Their target had yet to appear in the music club crowded with young people wearing long hair and black clothes.
"I'm feeling a bit out of place here." He had to shout right into Benji's ear, but the technician just grinned in return and nudged him again with the plastic cup.
Will shot him an incredulous look. "Seriously? Drinking on a mission? That's a new low, even for you." He was bored and worried – Where is that little bugger? - which was a dangerous combination. Therefore, he decided that giving his team mate a hard time was well worth the consequences.
Benji, however, didn't take the offered bait. "Stop sulking around! It's not like I'd want to get us drunk. But you said it yourself that you feel out of place. Believe me, a beer in your hand will change that." Again, that grin.
Will took a look around the room and noticed that, indeed, most people carried around one or more of those plastic cups. Sighing, he took the one his friend handed him with a self-satisfied smirk. Well, why not? He certainly could use the calming effect of alcohol right now. This mission is getting even more ridiculous by the minute, anyway.
So he spent the next few minutes sipping his beer and listening to Benji rambling on about the quality of the support band while simultaneously raving about the show of Blind Guardian he had seen at Wacken. His team mate radiated pure excitement and Will felt himself relax further with every anecdote and wild hand gesture. The sudden lack of music, however, tore him out of his peaceful trance and found him again at high alert.
"Thank God," Benji muttered. The relieved expression on his face morphed into a grin as he turned to his friend. "Now, are you ready to listen to the good stuff?"
"Maybe." Will mirrored the grin. "But since it is you who advocates the quality of the band, I may have to think again." He dodged the playful blow aimed at his shoulder and was just about to return the favour when all of a sudden, Ethan's voice cut through their banter.
"Guys, I'm sorry for bursting your bubble, but the target is entering the location. Wearing the clothes he described in the email and being followed by two bodyguards."
Will locked eyes with Benji who shot him a look that said 'I have your back!'."Understood." He turned slightly so he could watch the entrance without being detected right away and straightened his back. Let the game begin.
— † —
Following the target around the music club proved to be easier than expected. It was impossible to lose sight of the tall bodyguards that accompanied the short man who eventually settled for the less crowded back of the room in order to see the show. Will reckoned that even Benji would be able to win in a height competition, but he knew better than to judge an opponent by his size. Such a mistake could end your life quite abruptly.
Both agents had agreed on holding off on their approach until the end of the concert, so they could spend that time scouting their target. No one knew who the man was or what he was capable of and they weren't about to jump into the mission without becoming acquainted with potential weaknesses or strong points first.
Besides, Jane still hadn't caught sight of the buyer who would provide them with the payment they needed in order to wrap up the deal that would send both target and buyer to prison for a very long time. Will scoffed. Diamonds, really! How clichéd! Yet, they were small, therefore easy to smuggle through security check and worth thousands of dollars each. A clever solution. One more reason not to underestimate that man.
When the lights went out, the whole music club including their target erupted into cheers and applause. Will watched out of the corner of his eye how Benji tried to conceal his excitement, yet lost the battle when the first few sounds of the intro echoed around the room. His team mate spoke the words he apparently knew by heart, along with the rest of the audience.
Will listened intently and soon found himself hoping that the lyrics didn't serve as a prediction for the outcome of their mission.
"The field is lost
Everything is lost
The black one has fallen from the sky
The towers in ruins lie
The enemy is within
That can't be good...
Benji didn't seem to pay heed to the meaning the words could hold for them. He was lost in the world of Blind Guardian as soon as the band entered the stage. Will decided to let him have fun while it lasted. They didn't need two people to watch the target who apparently knew every line of every song the band played. Just like Benji.
Will smiled despite the fact that they were on a mission where everything could go wrong. Being the most successful team of IMF entailed as much advantages as inconvenience – like the most dangerous and 'impossible' missions imaginable. At times, the analyst wondered how they made it out of all those battles alive, because apparently, nothing ever went as planned. He just had to trust their abilities and their luck to pull them through.
So he watched and waited, applauding and cheering from time to time so he would keep a low profile. He would never tell Benji, but he had decided to buy a Blind Guardian album once this whole ordeal was over and he had made it out of it alive. They were actually pretty good. But a mission was a mission.
As if on cue, the comm in his ear came to life and he had to press a hand to his ear in order to catch what Jane was saying. "I see the buyer. Closing in on him." He didn't notice the suspicious look their target sent them from across the room.
Will and Benji listened to the conversation their team member instigated with the buyer, smiling and trading relieved glances when it became obvious how easily Jane lured him into the trap she had set for him. The sounds of the struggle the little bugger put up could be heard over the comm, then silence.
And finally Jane's voice came, breathless, but steady. "Got him!"
Heaving a sigh of relief, Will turned to Benji to tell him to go and meet Jane at the entrance in order to fetch the diamonds, yet froze mid-way when he found himself face to face with their target who grinned and offered his hand. "Mr. Feanor, I assume?"
— † —
Thank you very much for reading! Penny for your thoughts? ;)
Oh, and thanks to Blind Guardian for still playing the music they want to play! You rock! :)