katydidmischief: (ghost protocol team)
[personal profile] katydidmischief posting in [community profile] cjs_own
disclaimer. I'm not sure I'd know what to do with them if they were mine.
title. Sometimes Complicated
rating. R
pairing. Ethan Hunt/William Brandt, Victoria/Ivan (RED)
summary. Will wasn't raised like every other kid. He didn't have a normal mother. Thank God for that.
warnings. Injury to main character-Gunshot Wound, Discussion of suicide as "endgame" to keep from being captured.
notes. Written for this prompt at [livejournal.com profile] ghotocol_kink.

Sometimes Complicated

You know, from the other agents, that where ever she goes, her son comes with. It's kind of odd, but, well, you have to be borderline insane to work in this field anyway; most of them wouldn't pass muster in any other profession. And anyway, when you meet Will for the first time, you think the kid's kind of adorable (though, God help you, you're never going to tell Victoria that.)

You teach him Russian and Chinese, and when she's not looking, a little French—hey, a guy has to have some secrets—and you try to make the safehouses he's growing up in better by insisting Headquarters supply them with books, a radio, and some canned goods to make at least one homecooked meal. Still, you all mostly live on take-out and local cuisine, making it damn near hilarious the first time Will eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and spits it out because it's too sweet.

And you're there when Victoria finally relents and eases back on missions so he can go to school, be with the other kids, and you walk him to his class room on the first day. For some reason you're never quite sure of, you're incredibly proud when Victoria calls you that night to say that the kids are all terrified of Will: "He told them that his Uncle Frank taught him to field strip a handgun," she says, "and then told the teacher that he's still trying to do it in under a minute."

If you're honest, if Will ever asks, you'd say that's the day when you knew he'd never be able to settle for a normal, run-of-the-mill life.


;;


Benji's voice crackles as it comes through the tiny earwig and Brandt knows he's got maybe a half-mile more before he's out of range and totally fucking screwed, but he can't stop running now, can't double back—

(Ethan had gotten the case. Will just had to buy him enough time to get back to the nest with it.)

—and he keeps running.

"Keep going... north, Brandt!" More static. "North!" He thinks the next part is that Jane's on her way, but his ears hurt from the hail and the wind and the static's getting worse so Will's not sure.

Someone fires on him.

Someone else yells.

For the first time in ten years, Will thinks about Germany and his mother. He reminds himself to call her later and tell her that this mission totally trumps Germany.

;;


Neither Agency has ever approved of Will's being with her on missions, has never approved of Will being in secure offices or in meetings, but when the best wet worker in the world narrows her eyes at you and states that they're a package deal, you do not argue. She is, after all, the one with the very large gun within reach—because if there's one thing always within Victoria Brandt's reach, it's her weapon—and you like your brain and heart where and how they are.

You tell her that he's her responsibility.

"Oh, darling, who else's responsibility would he be?" she tells you and you know, from the eerie and terrifying smile on her face, that anyone that tries to do anything to that boy, their body will never be found.

The higher ups still grumble, but you don't bring it up again.


;;


He manages to lose his pursuers after a few miles: clearly, exercise is not as high up on their list as stealing military command codes. Something, perhaps, that would have helped them to not get their asses kicked, Will thinks, but that's probably the oxygen deprivation talking.

Will turns into an alleyway when he realizes that the panting and the adrenaline are making him a little manic, and presses his back against the brick. Laughter bubbles up from his belly and he bites down on his lips to keep it in, aware that even though he's put distance between himself and their targets, there's always the chance of attack. In his pocket, he feels his phone vibrate; it stops and starts and he knows it's Ethan calling, hanging up, calling again, in a morse code of a different kind.

Sliding to the ground as the wooziness hits, Will fumbles for the phone. He can't talk—up to par, his brain is not right now—and types out a message, a quick and dirty text with the street and the name of the shop he can see just beyond the alley's entrance. He takes a few breaths and sends a note to Benji to tell Yusuf to work on better earwigs, tells him to let Ethan know that once he has oxygen in his lungs, Will's going to continue straight up until either he finds a place he can secure or they reach him.

Whichever, he writes, comes first.

Ethan sends two replies—Keep us apprised if you change direction and then Be careful. Your mother will kill me if something happens to you.—and Will can hear his boyfriend's voice in his head, the gruff and quiet "I love you" from the night before.

Before he gets back to his feet and sets out from the alleyway, Will texts Ethan one more time: Steak and a blowjob. I totally deserve one of each for this clusterfuck.

The phone vibrates again as Will takes off and he smirks because he knows without looking what Ethan's reply is and fuck it all, he has to stay alive because tonight's going to be awesome.

;;


You meet this kid on a job in Russia, back in the days when he was too small to understand what the hell is going on. He's smart as all hell though and despite the fact that he doesn't speak a single word aloud until he's five years old, you all understand what he wants from a look or a gesture; he's got eyes that speak volumes, too old for baby, really, and you wonder if Victoria ever thinks about what the constant moving does to Will.

Only once do you ask her that and it's out of respect that she answers, but it's clear to you that to ask again wouldn't end well. So you don't and honestly, it's for the best anyway because you love her like a sister and you love him like a nephew and really, with no one else to raise him, Will'd be left in some group home or worse: this nomadic life may not be the best for a child, but he's the center of Victoria's world and she makes it work.

So you help Frank cook dinner every once in a while, you learn that children's clothing comes in sizes you don't understand but eventually which sweater will fit him and you buy it for Christmas; you buy him books, leave the toys and the actually reading of the books to Marvin who can do the funny voices that makes Will laugh, and one day, when it's fucking freezing and you would do anything to get out of Siberia, you go to shave and Will stands on the toilet watching. He learns to shave from you and that stays with you for a long time, the knowledge that someday, when the body is cold, there'll be this man out there who learned to shave from his Uncle Joe.

You don't know why it's significant, but it is and you savor it.


;;


Eventually the street crosses with another and then stops, a dead-end, in a row of abandoned warehouses; a sign swings in the wind that reveals this was once a metalworking factory during one of the wars—the paint has peeled away enough that he can't tell if it says I or II—and Will gets the distinct feeling that he's being watched. It could just be how fucking creeped out this place is making him...

The bullets that start flying say otherwise.

He makes a break for it, sprinting toward the nearest building. They look to be interconnected, but it'll be difficult to navigate in the increasing darkness and he's so glad that Benji had insisted on Will wearing one of the lenses: they're uncomfortable, but the prototype Yusuf had outfitted them with this time had a nightvision capability wired in and it doesn't require his phone to be out in the open. Helpful despite the fact that it's only in one eye, and Will's bobbing and weaving and trying to get his own shots reeled off while he dials his phone one-handed.

"Hello, darling," his mother says.

"You remember Germany?"

"Yes, of course." Her voice is deadly calm.

"I've trumped it. Got any contacts in Kyiv?"

The shots he peels off are loud and they bounce off some machining equipment, grazing his arm and fuck, really? This is the last thing he needs; he hisses, and his mother asks, "William, are you hit?"

Someone yells and Will takes off again. "Ma, I don't have time."

"Where are you?"

"Metalworking plant. Northside. Abandoned," he tells her, then, "I have to go. Love you," and hangs up before she can get another word in. He winces and starts apologizing to Ethan mentally, because he know, without a doubt, that Ethan'll be her next call.

For a little while longer, Will keeps the game of cat and mouse going, but there's only one of him and at least eight of them. He's working on six hours of sleep and a breakfast sandwich, and if he were being truthful, a knee that's not fully healed from their last op. He swaps his empty cartridge for the full one; he ticks off the number of rounds he has left, counting in his head with each shot and he prays as does so—that last round is is his endgame, his guarantee to his country that he'll never betray their secrets, and he really, really doesn't want to use it. (He will though, without hesitation, if he has to. Because he knows too much.)

He's one bullet away from a very messy death when his radio crackles to life again. It's not Benji's voice on the other end and Will really could care less: he hears Vanya and huffs out a laugh, thinking of the agent his mother had dated once, when they were young and Will was younger.

Her voice is a whisper in his ear, "You grew up, William."

And he answers, "I forgot I wasn't supposed to."

;;


Germany is a beautiful country and Will loves it, and for a while, it feels like a home. The op is long-term and it's just the six of you; Will is getting big, getting smarter, and you buy him a model plane to build together. He listens patiently while you tell him about Vietnam as you attach the wings and he nods along with you because there was that mission, right near the end of the war, that Will's heard about enough times to know where you like him to respond.

That ends up being what you bond over—building cars, planes, helicopters out of balsa wood and cheap plastic, using paints that stink up the entire safehouse—and for the first time in the years, you feel a little less crazy.

It doesn't last, not when their targets realize the team's weak spot, and it's years before Victoria can forgive you.


;;


Will gets shot in the shoulder in the resultant firefight; he writhes on the floor of the van as Benji speeds them away, clutching the wound and knocking his head against the footboards. Ethan tries to cushion the involuntary blows and holds Will's other hand while Jane does her best to peel Will's fingers away from his shirt.

Vanya sits at his side, a phone to her ear and Will catches a few things now and again. Dizzy from the pain, he makes out only where they're headed and that getting out of Kyiv tonight isn't an option since these guys have eyes fucking everywhere and money in the pockets of some very useful people; he makes out that his parents are on their way there from Russia and were Will in full possession of the ability to form words, he would have told her to tell them that it really isn't necessary, but he knows it'd be moot anyway.

She gets them to a safehouse Will vaguely remembers and through the haze of pain, he thinks, Bigger when I was little, as he blinks at Ethan. "Tell me it went through," he pleads, forcing his legs to work even though they feel like lead and he wants to collapse right then and there. He'll be fine in the middle of the walkway, really.

"Sorry," Ethan answers. He truly is too, because it'd be easier on all of them if it was a through and through wound. Instead they will all have to endure listening to Brandt scream—and he will scream—as they dig out the bullet and patch him up, wrap his shoulder and immobilize that arm until they can get him to a medical facility within IMF's reach.

They get him into the house, into the kitchen and Ethan spreads a towel out on the table before he helps Will to lay on it. He whispers apologies and he looks at Vanya but speaks to Victoria when he says, "I am so sorry." This isn't exactly what he'd had in mind when he'd met her the first time, when he'd promised her that he'd do whatever he had to in order to protect Will.

As he heats a set of forceps over a lighter flame and Jane dabs alcohol and antiseptic around the hole in Will's skin, Vanya shoves the phone to his ear and Victoria tells him, "Part and parcel of the life, sweetheart. Just make sure he doesn't bleed to death before I get there."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Good boy. Now hang up on me before I say something I'll regret."

Ethan lets out a breath, ends the call, and passes Jane the forceps. "Benji," he says in a voice that's raw and exhausted, "his legs," and then leans forward to kiss Will's forehead, grasp Will's good shoulder and throw an arm over his waist. They wait, all of them, until Will breaks eye contact with Ethan and closes his eyes, grits his teeth, and nods.

;;


You meet him once, when he's still a boy, but you don't know then that he's your son. Victoria's ruthless when it comes to her child and though you wonder—he was born during a time you know for a fact she wasn't seeing anyone else—you don't ask: you're as scared of the answer as you are curious.

Besides, what good would it do either of you? She'll never give up her job, nor will you, and it wouldn't be fair to Will because what you two were best at was always fighting. She's raising him nicely, making sure he's surrounded by people who love him in their own way.

You make peace with the knowledge that the only way you'll ever know this potential son is through government files and reports. It's part of why you take the offer to move to the states in the nineties, after the cold war is over.

It's years later that Victoria introduces you to him and you know it was the best decision to not interfere: William is far more intelligent than you could ever have dealt with or nurtured properly and though you and Victoria have healed those old wounds, you know that even now, getting between them would end in bloodshed. (She missed once, out of affection for him; she wouldn't do it again.)

Instead, when he's left for the night, you thank her and ask if all three of you can have dinner tomorrow and it's almost like when you were fourteen and asking permission to date Anja, but not really. She smiles so widely at the request that, for once, you know you've done something right with her.


;;


Will had ended up passing out with the first dig of the forceps and Ethan was pathetically thankful for that last night, but this morning, not so much: Will's still asleep, pale from the blood loss and too weak to do anything more than twitch while Ethan cleans the wound when the bandage gets too wet for comfort. He sits beside his boyfriend, holding his hand and refusing to sleep, and when Victoria and Ivan arrive, he still won't budge.

It's Benji who Jane forces to bring Ethan the spiked orange juice when she gets back from knocking over that clinic a few minutes away, and Victoria whom has Ivan get Ethan to at least lay down before the drugs hit him. Someone might make a comment about forceful women, but it isn't repeated when Victoria demands and besides, she figures it was Vanya anyway. Minx.

"Now, how bad was it?" Victoria asks when Ethan's out cold, Vanya and Benji relegated to the kitchen with Ivan, and it's just herself and Jane working an IV catheter into Will's arm.

Jane has the sense to be blunt. "It was a clean wound—no exit, and no broken bones as far as I can tell without x-rays—and the bullet was easily extracted once I found it. It must have impacted something before it hit him, judging by the depth and the flattening. The biggest issue seems to be the blood loss, but hopefully the fluids are going to bring him around."

Victoria nods. That's pretty much what she'd been hoping to hear the entire journey to the Ukraine: for people in their line of work, getting shot is inevitable and it all comes down to where and how bad. Shoulder, clean wound, and no broken bones? She'll take it.

"And Ethan?"

"We got separated—Ethan secured what we came for and had me chasing down Will, but we were outnumbered and we got boxed in." Jane sighs and looks at the door to ensure that it's still closed, then finishes taping the IV to Will's skin, and whispers, "I've never seen him panic before."

"I'm sure he was."

Jane turns up the drip rate until it's wide open. It gives her a chance to look away from Victoria while she gathers her thoughts and when she looks back, Jane tells her, "Will never told us about the orders."

She doesn't clarify and Victoria doesn't need her to. It's something Victoria's talked to Will about before, and thank God she's on the IMF's payroll as a consultant because if she hadn't had the clearance... Well, at least if Ethan ever comes to her to say that Will's dead, that he's shot himself or taken cyanide or whatever needs be done, she knows it's because he knew it was that or break and there's no nobler a death.

"Maybe he'd be better off not in the field," Jane adds, flinching as she says it.

"Maybe. Maybe not. But you'll never convince him to go back—he loves his job and he loves Ethan, and that's a good thing."

"Why?"

Victoria gives her a little smile and touches Will's forehead. "Because when you love someone, it gives you something to fight for. To live for."

;;


You meet Will in Moscow on the second worst day of your life. You think he's a fucking liability at first, but he's useful and you don't know what to do with him. You think about it the entire time you're trudging to the train and you give him a chance to get out before you lay out the plan: he doesn't leave, which is a little bit of a shock but you push on, filing it away in your mind for later.

Later comes in a hotel room on the hundred-and-eighteenth floor of the Burj Khalifa with three armed hostiles and a diamond-infatuated mercenary, and it takes approximately thirty-five seconds for you to put two and two together to equal four—no analyst you've ever known has had field training and you remember the rumors of the guy who'd screwed the pooch, who'd asked to be taken out of the rotation. Again, though, you file it away since you don't have the time to sit here and psychoanalyze the analyst, racing after Wistrom/Hendricks into a damned sandstorm and when you get back, hitching a ride on the back of a pick-up, you think, safety-clean up-confront, as you guide Jane, Benji, and Will to the tiny abandoned apartment you'd bartered for with promises of something from Benji's bag of tricks.

But then there's Bogdan and his cousin, there's India, and hospital stays for yourself and for Jane, and there just isn't time to talk to Will until weeks later and by then, curiosity's gotten the best of you. And you know. And you tell Julia, so she knows, too, and both of you agree that no person should live with a guilt they don't deserve.

She tells you to tell him everything and you do.

She tells you, when you go on more missions with him, that you should make a move and you do.

She tells you, when you admit that you're falling in love with him too, that she's glad it's Will; she tells you to bring him home, and you do.

You'll never be like other couples, she admits, and she'll never get to have you as more than a specter in her life. You'll always love each other, but, she says, she needed to see that someone else loved you and could take care of you before she could let you go because this is a half-life and that's not fair to either of them.

You think, I am so lucky to have met you and once, I'd have given up everything for you, but life, sometimes, is complicated.

The night you sign the divorce papers, you're sad but Will takes you to meet Victoria and Ivan, and they both promise to kill you if anything happens to Will that's within your control before dinner is finished. It makes you grin and Will tells you that you look fucking creepy before finishing off his beer.


;;


Getting out if Kyiv would be easier if Will was conscious, but even though he looks better after two liters of fluids and he's woken up several times to bitch about needing to pee, bitch about the fact that Ethan has to help him pee, bitch about the IV, he can't stay conscious for more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time. Driving out of the country is inadvisable and impractical, but there's no train car cache within a reasonable distance, so they're stuck with option c: flying.

The airfield that Vanya arranges transport through doesn't know they'll have an injured man with and Victoria whispers something into the pilot's ear that makes him pale, makes him turn to his copilot and the airstrip's manager and tell them to get the plane ready to go. He flinches when she moves and Vanya winks at Ethan who's still bleary and a bit confused; he's awake enough to be angry that he was fucking drugged, but not enough to fully comprehend the fact that an ex-British Intelligence officer has blackmarket-dealed them out of the Ukraine.

If he were completely awake, he wouldn't actually give a damn.

And he doesn't when they touch down in Germany—though Victoria's clenching her teeth and the chair arms like she's enduring something painful—and he still doesn't when they land in England and there's a great big sigh of relief. Which is when, after everything that's happened, Benji finally asks, "Is anyone else unsurprised that the first people we thought to contact in a pinch were his parents?"

Jane laughs, because no, she's not; Ethan shrugs because he's not surprised but he's still not looking forward to writing that part of the mission report.

;;


You raise him safehouses because there's no other option: you're the one who chose to have him and to keep him and you'll figure out a way to raise him right. You tell anyone who argues that the deal is yourself and your son and if they don't like it, their loss because you've got more than one agency looking to employ your skill set. You protect him ruthlessly; you let only a select few close and they know that as much as you consider them to be family—as much as you demand to work only with them and no others—if anything ever happens to Will because of them, you will kill them.

You're glad for Frank and for Joe. You're glad for Marvin, too, and his peculiar way of connecting with William. They teach him things that you can't, things that his father would have taught him but you know, in your heart, that William is going to be a grown man before he ever meets Ivan, so you watch from the shadows when Joe teaches your boy how to shave, commit to memory Frank teaching French to Will over a notebook of Cyrillic letters, etch the image of Marvin and William bent over a model at the kitchen table before everything went to shit into your eyelids and they're what gets you through those days in the hospital.

(Those memories are why you don't kill Marvin when William gets taken though it takes you a while to forgive him for what happened, why you still let Joe and Frank close, and the reason you keep fighting when everyone is against you. They remind you of the love William has, unconditional, for his uncles.

For you. Because for each of those moments in time, you have a dozen more of those beautiful eyes looking up at you and that smile that makes your heart whole. There's a dozen more of William's face as he sleeps against your side and his glee when he learns something new, the noise he makes when he sees you at the end of the day and he runs full tilt into your arms.)

It's not a normal life and there are parts of it that William will have to take to the grave, but you know that you wouldn't trade him for the world and he, you. And that's all that matters.
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