Author's Note:

Due to real life getting in the way, both "What a Tangled Web" and "What's in the Water" have been put on hiatus for a little while. I'll get back to them when I can. Until that happens, I wanna leave you with a little something that I wrote in my lunch-break today. I hope you like it. And if you do like it, please feel free to leave feedback. :o)


Even though Brandt is back in the field, we all know he is also a former chief-analyst. And Brandt knows that in order not to let his analyst skills go completely to waste, he has to brush up on them once in a while. So, on a slow day, Brandt happens to find a perfect target for practice: Ethan Hunt.

Brandt's analysis

Alright. So he was an analyst once.

Some might say he simply got into that kind of business, because he couldn't hack it out in the field anymore. And while there was a time, when the truth had perhaps not been too far from that assumption, there was also another reason for his deviation into the analysing field. And that reason was actually pretty simple: Brandt had always been good with numbers.

Plus, he really liked a challenge, which meant that even the most difficult analysis subjects – whether it was theories or people – were right up his alley. Brandt had a knack for getting right down to things, until even the most mysterious subject became nothing but a set of numbers that could be understood, categorized and processed.

But, right now, he was stumped. And he was this close to actually admitting defeat.

It had been a pretty good day at work. They had just gotten back in from the field, their latest mission successfully completed. Benji was enjoying their afternoon off in the next room, where there was a TV and a computer, and the only things Brandt could hear from there were some mysterious clicking sounds. He just hoped Benji wasn't gonna blow up their TV with whatever he was doing there.

In fact, Brandt distinctly remembered that Jane had actually given Benji that very same warning earlier. She had then changed her clothes and gone out for a run, saying she'd be back in about an hour. Ethan – clad in a comfortable pair of faded blue jeans and a light grey shirt, but no shoes – was meanwhile sitting over at the coffee table, his hair still wet from the shower he'd taken, and he was currently giving his Beretta an equally thorough cleaning, as it was lying neatly disassembled before him on the table.

Brandt, for his part, was using the slow afternoon to do something he hadn't done in a while. He wanted to give his analysing skills a workout.

The chosen subject:

Ethan Hunt.

It had been a coincidence, really. Brandt had been dozing on the sofa, when he'd gotten the idea to give his brain something to do. And from his spot on the sofa in the living room, the first subject for analysis he'd spotted had been his team leader.

So, Brandt had grabbed himself a pad and a pen from the low sideboard right behind the arm of the sofa, and – making sure that Ethan was not looking in his direction and that he was still very much concentrated on cleaning the gun – Brandt had started putting down notes.

That had been twenty minutes ago.

His analysis had begun like any other. As he mentally went through what he knew about Ethan's modus operandi, Brandt had confidently put down a percentage number for each individual trademark he came upon. Add it all up and he should be able to come up with a clear analysis of what made his team leader tick.

That had been the plan, anyway.

As it was now, Brandt's analysis was already in its third run. And he slowly got the feeling this third one was gonna go down the same road the previous ones had taken. Namely nowhere.

During the first attempt, Brandt had simply sat on the sofa. During the second one, he'd made himself more comfortable, actually lying down on the sofa on his back. Now, as he was going over his third attempt, he was once again sitting up with his knees drawn up as well, the pad on his knees and his back against the back of the sofa. He was the picture of determination.

With a frown on his face, he looked once more at the scribbled numbers on the pad against his knees.

+20 % skill

+10 % experience

+10 % fun

+10 % concentration

+20 % physical ability

+10 % ignorance of pain

+10 % refusal to give up

+5 % luck

= 95%

It. Did. Not. Add. Up.

He was missing 5 percent.

And no matter how hard he thought about it, it was these remaining 5 percent that he simply could not analyse.

He never even realized how long he sat like this, until he heard the front door close, as Jane walked back in. With surprise, Brandt looked up at the sound, and saw that not only had Jane gotten back – but Ethan must have moved at some point as well. The chair beside the coffee table was long vacated as Brandt looked, and Ethan was nowhere to be seen.

'Cripes, and I didn't even hear him move…,' Brandt realized with a frown.

Jane, who was just putting her MP3 player out of her pocket, took immediate notice of the frown on Brandt's face. Following Brandt's line of sight, she saw that he was looking where Ethan had sat earlier. Then she saw that Brandt was holding a note pad and a pen, and whatever he had been doing, Brandt had obviously been hard at work. Not a good idea, considering that Ethan had put all of them on standdown - as a direct order.

With Brandt's attention clearly not on her at the moment, she quickly snatched the notepad from Brandt's hand, before he even knew what happened.

"Wait!" Brandt whipped around with a sudden exclamation of protest. It actually sounded close to panic. Whatever was in that notepad, it had to be important.

Jane simply shook her head, smirking in reply:

"Nope, we're off duty, remember? 'You', however, look to me like you were doing some heavy-duty thinking there. And I may be wrong, but I distinctly remember hearing Ethan say that we were all to wind down. In fact, I think his exact words were 'if I see anyone who even looks like he's 'on duty', that person will get shot'. And considering he was cleaning his gun earlier, he might intend to do the shooting personally," Jane reminded Brandt with a smile.

As it happened, Brandt distinctly remembered Ethan's threat, as well.

Which was why he was quick to put things straight, not daring to risk Jane giving Ethan the wrong idea.

"I am off duty!"

"Then what is this?" Jane asked doubtingly, as she looked down at the notepad, giving the scribbled notes a real look for the first time.

"Well…uhm…." Brandt was clearly trying to come with an explanation. He just couldn't find one that wasn't either embarrassing, improper or too complicated to put into words. Faced with Jane's questioning gaze however, Brandt knew he had to say something.


"What?" Jane almost laughed, when she thought she had heard what she thought she heard. However, the ensuing remorseful expression on Brandt's face told her she had heard right.

Brandt had tried to analyse Ethan.

And he had obviously done what pretty much everybody else on this planet had done so far in that regard: He had failed to come up with a solution to the riddle.

Jane tried hard to put a lid on her smile, as she looked once more at the numbers on Brandt's notepad. In the end, she couldn't fully cover her smile, but there was now an added playful gleam in her eyes, as she reached over and took the pen from Brandt's hand. For a moment, she simply concentrated on what she was doing, as she wrote something on the pad. With a chuckle, she handed the notepad back to Brandt and then, one quirky goodbye-wave later, she headed on to take a shower up in her room.

As Brandt watched her go, his gaze eventually lowered to the notepad in his hands. Curiously he looked to find what she had written.

Right beneath his interim result of 95% Jane's neat handwriting read:

+ 5% ability to defy complete analysis by either friend or foe

= 100% Ethan Hunt

A smiley was beaming at him from right beneath the last number, with which Jane had completed the analysis.

Brandt was about to glare after Jane, as she had apparently figured out what he hadn't be able to put into numbers, but just then Ethan came back into the room.

He had put on a jogging jacket and was now obviously on his way out as well, to go on a quick jog before dinner. There was just one thing that didn't add up. In his right hand, Ethan was casually carrying a book. And as far as Brandt knew, Ethan didn't read while jogging.

'Unless the man has yet another skill I haven't figured out yet,' Brandt thought in confusion, but tried not to let Ethan see it.

Brandt's face, however, must have been an open book. At least to Ethan.

Because as Ethan passed him on the way to the door, Ethan spoke up with a smile:

"Here, try this, it might be a little easier." And with that Ethan flipped the book over in his hand once, before throwing it smoothly into Brandt's arms. Then, with a grin, Ethan left.

Brandt wondered what Ethan had meant by his remark. Hoping to find an answer, Brandt looked down at the book in his lap.

He turned it around so it was the right way up again. And as he read the title, he realized three things:

1. Choosing Ethan Hunt as a practice target for analysis: Bad idea. Period.

2. Just because Ethan is cleaning his gun, doesn't mean Ethan isn't aware of what's going on around him.

3. Ethan has a distinct sense of humour.

The title of the book that Ethan had given him was irrefutable proof to this:

"The Unsolved Mysteries of the World – A Complete Collection"

Despite himself, Brandt had to smile.

'Right, compared to Ethan, all the other mysteries of the world can be considered a walk in the park,' Brandt concluded with a chuckle.

Feeling himself relax with that realization, Brandt decided it was time to give his brain some rest, and get himself some coffee instead. But just as he got up and was about to put the book on the couch table, he realized that he had missed something during his initial look at the cover of the book.

There was a stripe of blank paper obviously slipped in between some of the very first pages of the book. Curious now, Brandt sat back down, and opened the book to the page where the paper lay. The page that opened showed a printed foreword by the author of the book. But that wasn't what was important. What was important was at the very bottom of the right-hand page. Brandt could see that Ethan had put a circle around the last four lines that concluded the author's foreword.

"But no matter how many of the mysteries, that we today define as unsolvable, will one day be solved, there is one thing that will always hold true: There are some things between heaven and earth that should remain mysterious. Things that we shouldn't ever try to define. Mysteries that we best just accept as they are. Because that is the real joy in a mystery: It will always have the ability to surprise you in a good way. "

As Brandt looked up from the book again, his gaze fell in the direction of the door, through which Ethan had gone out to jog.

It was a long moment before Brandt put down the book. And when he did, he grabbed his notepad again. Slowly, he took a hold of the page he had scribbled on. And with one fluid motion, he tore off the page that held his analysis.

With a content look on his face, Brandt crumpled the notes, and – with perfect aim – he followed through by throwing the paper ball into the nearby paper basket.

Then, with new determination, he got off the sofa. For him, there was only one mystery left that he wanted to solve.

"Benji! What the heck are you doing to our TV?"

The End