blue flamingos

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Fandom: Thoughtcrimes

Category/Rated: Gen, PG-13

Year/Length: 2009/ ~3,136words

Pairing: Brendan+Freya friendship

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: He thinks that he cares for her, he trusts her, and that it won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

Author's Notes:

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

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Brendan thinks that there's pretty much nothing you can't get used to, and most of it doesn't take as long as you'd think. He thinks that this is going to be their biggest problem, him and Freya, the speed with which they get used to the fact that she knows everything he's thinking, and he knows that she knows.

He thinks that he's been through weirder things, even though he can't think what any of them are. He thinks that there's never been anyone else he'd trust with something like what Freya has, and that the way he's been thinking this since bare weeks after meeting her is maybe a good sign, or maybe a sign that he's desperate. He thinks that after six months, he should know, but he doesn't.

He thinks that maybe it'll be nice for there to be someone out there who knows him, not to have to struggle to say badly out loud what's so clear in his head.

More than anything, he thinks all of these things when he knows she's not nearby, because the one thing he wants to keep a secret from her is how knowing that he can't keep any makes him feel.

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Monday morning. Totally normal day, shower, breakfast, black knee high boots that she loves beyond the telling of it. Bus to work, she still doesn't have a car, despite all Brendan's offers to take her car shopping over the last six months. She doesn't want to tell him that she doesn't have a license, and doesn't want to tell him that she hasn't told, because she has a choice, but it's not fair for her to exercise it when he can't.

Coffee, email, folders dropped on her desk because they were out in the field on Thursday and Friday. Buzz of weekend gossip that she's only hearing in her ears, none of it in her head. Filters still working, and that still makes her smile.

She makes a joke, the first couple of times someone stops by her desk to ask where Brendan is - too much partying at the weekend, and a smile, though Brendan isn't any more of a party person than she is. She doesn't think anyone notices the smile is a little forced – for the first time since meeting him, she's not sure she wants to see Brendan.

It's only when her email pings with a meeting reminder that she actually starts to wonder where he is. No answer on his cell, no answer on his home phone.

She thinks about making an excuse for him to Harper, but she can't shake the nagging sense of worry. "I'm not sure," she says when he asks where Brendan is.

Harper looks at her, like he's the one reading minds, and Freya forces herself not to. Brendan lets her, let her in, but the others haven't even been asked, and she tries not to treat them like criminals. She's seen how much it can hurt when she knows something she shouldn't. "Get an agent to take you to his house if he hasn't called when we're done," Harper says, and Freya nods, yes, sir, and curls her hands into fists, fingernails biting into her palms.

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Brendan thinks that nothing's impossible, and his partner's living proof of that. He thinks that he said okay to letting her in, letting her know everything, stuff that no-one else knows, or no-one else who's left, when he went back to work after she told him the truth.

He thinks that he cares for her, he trusts her, and that it won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

He thinks that, if this is the case, he shouldn't have snapped, and that, though he doesn't believe in karma, or a just universe, this might be revenge for that.

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Brendan's apartment is perfectly neat, just like always, when Freya lets herself in. She walks through the yellow rooms, heels loud on wooden floors, and doesn't touch anything. She tells herself it's protocol, in case a crime scene unit ends up coming through. It's more than that: it's knowing that Brendan wouldn't be comfortable with her in his space without him; it's not invading more than he allows her to, even in a crisis, especially right now.

It's wondering if she'll be able to sense him, and not wanting to know the answer.

"Anything?" Merriweather asks from the doorway.

Freya shakes her head, hears her own voice say, "His badge is missing," unaware that she'd even noticed that. Her own head scares her sometimes.

"That doesn't mean anything," Merriweather says, calm and composed. It's not her partner who's missing, Freya thinks savagely, and makes herself stop. Merriweather cares about Brendan as well, was there long before Freya was. "Maybe his car broke down on the way to the office."

"He would have called," Freya says, but she thinks: his car. "Let's go check the parking lot."

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Brendan thinks that this ought to be the one time when Freya's ability comes in really useful. He thinks that it's ironic, that if he hadn't accused her of... Prying into my entire life, just because you can. It's none of your goddamn business... that he would have been paying attention, and he wouldn't be here, needing her.

He thinks that he shouldn't have yelled, that her wide, hurt eyes were like being slapped. He thinks that she's walking a damn fine line, knowing things he can't help projecting, but doing everything she can not to act like she knows. He thinks that it was only a matter of time before she slipped, and that he wishes it hadn't been then, that one stray thought.

He thinks that he's tired of hurting, of all the different ways he hurts, and also that the ringer on his cell is the most fucking annoying thing he's heard in days.

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Brendan's car is missing, and Merriweather thinks, She knows which one his parking space is? thoughts thick with innuendo in Freya's head. Filters slipping. She winces, catches it. She hasn't slipped in weeks, maybe months, except when she's been really tired. Friday night, coming off two long days, and she's never had to filter with Brendan, never tried to. Slipped anyway.

She thinks of all the things that can happen to an NSA agent in the Monday morning rush hour, on his own. It's a long list.

"You really think something's happened to him?" Merriweather asks. She's completely serious now – whatever she might think about Freya and Brendan, this is a potential case, potential harm to one of her own. The jokes will come later, when Brendan's safe again.

"He's over two hours late," Freya says. She can't tear her eyes away from the empty parking spot, even knowing it won't tell her anything. "He would have called if he could."

"Okay." Merriweather pulls out her cell. "All the agency cars have trackers, we should be able to trace it. Find the car, find Agent Dean." She smiles, and Freya doesn't let herself read the agent's mind, not wanting to know if the smile is real, or just a professional front.

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Brendan thinks that there are worse things than having a partner who knows all his secrets, and he thinks that he's thought that before. He thinks that he'd rather not have that secret at all, because it's been five years, and it still hurts. It's part of why he hasn't had a partner until Freya, once bitten twice shy and all that crap, but it's crap that's true, because he's barely dated either, since the break-up, and he's been lonely for five years.

He thinks that their friendship, their partnership, will maybe be better, be more.

He thinks that the thought terrifies him, because he loves Freya but he'll never be in love with her, and he didn't realize that saying yes to their partnership would mean saying no to something else he'd forgotten he wanted.

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They're halfway back to the office when Freya's cell vibrates in her lap. She gets it to her ear before it even rings, making Merriweather start when she says, "Hello? Um, Freya McAllister."

"Agent Patel," says the familiar voice. "We've located Dean's car, there's a local police unit on the way."

"Did they find him?" Merriweather asks when Freya closes her phone.

"His car," Freya says. She sounds distant to her own ears, far away. She feels it as well – Brendan's car is on a little used road heading back into the city, which means he spent the weekend somewhere else. She knows him well enough to guess he went camping, all alone with no-one to hear him, and she has to turn her head away, blink back tears while Merriweather says, "Freya, the location. Freya!"

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Brendan thinks that Freya pays so much attention to what her face doesn't give away of what she overhears that she forgets to pay attention to what she knows that she shouldn't. He thinks that they stumble along okay when it's work, when she pulls things from suspects' heads, from witnesses', half-truths about gut feeling and passing comments. He thinks that it's everything else where the line gets too blurred, almost always him, and that's okay, because maybe he's told her, maybe they have a really good partner vibe, maybe, maybe.

He thinks that it's other people who are going to be the problem, people who know Freya shouldn't know some of the things she knows about them – nothing big, but he heard her the other day, asking Merriweather about her date, and saw Merriweather's quickly hidden confusion.

He thinks that the two of them together are an amazing team, that Freya belongs where she is, doing good work –

And that, one day, it'll turn out to be the most dangerous place she could ever be.

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Merriweather drives too fast, and it's a good thing that they're going in the opposite direction to most of the traffic, because every delay makes Freya want to scream. She turns her cell over and over in her hands, willing it to ring. It doesn't and it doesn't and it doesn't, and Freya grits her teeth till they squeak.

She reaches for Merriweather's thoughts again, barely stops herself at Move out the fucking way, asshole, you think the siren's just a good alternative to the radio? before she hears anything else. Makes herself stop, because even Merriweather's angry invectives against other drivers aren't right. She misses Brendan's internal voice, the way his mind jumps – one, two, three – to something she'd never have found, the jokes he makes sometimes, just for her, or for the two of them to share. She misses the way she uses his thoughts as an anchor when she's stressed or upset, and now, when she really needs him, he isn't there.

She's going to kick his ass, when they get him back, safe and sound, and then hug him till he gives in and hugs her back.

"Nearly there," Merriweather says, cutting in front of a truck driver so close Freya can see the scratches on his head lamps. She sounds breathless, anxious.

Freya reaches out for Brendan's thoughts, thinks, Brendan? even though he won't be able to hear her. Up ahead, she can see the lights of the ambulance, the police cars, hiding Brendan's car from her.

She knows it's pointless, but she opens up her cell, dials his number again. Answer me, damn it, Brendan, don't do this to me.

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Brendan thinks that if he could just move another six inches, he could get his hand around his cell and pitch it the rest of the way down the cliff. He thinks that thinking this is a sign that things are getting worse, because he knows he should be thinking about calling for help.

He thinks, Freya? Any time now would be good. I really hope you can hear me. I can't see anything any more. It really hurts. Everything hurts. He hums a little bit of the Scooby-Doo theme, in his head, thinks, Remember, Freya? First time we met, and you saved my life. I hope you're feeling like an encore performance. Freya? I'm sorry. I really hope you can hear this. I'm sorry, it's not your fault. No-one knows about Robert, but it's not your fault you heard me. I didn't mean what I said. I'm sorry. Please. Freya.

He thinks maybe he can hear someone, but everything is fading out, and he can't be sure.

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"Down here," Freya calls, the car barely stopped, the door open behind her. Brendan's car is half off the road, pointing down into the ravine below, huge dent in the side, did someone hit him, oh God, but she can hear him in her head, saying her name, over and over. "He's down here," she says again, the paramedics looking at her like she's lost her mind.

Rationally, she knows they can't have been here more than a few moments, not when both she and Merriweather heard their sirens up ahead as they were driving, but the impatience bites at her.

"You can't go down there, it's not stable," one of them says.

"He's down there," Freya says, reaching for a tree to balance on as she takes a sliding step down the slope. It's steep, loose rock and soil, slick with leaves, but Brendan's down there and his mental voice is getting fainter.

"You can't –" the man says again, and someone else mutters, "God, save us from fucking desk jockeys who think they'll all be heroes," maybe out loud, maybe not, maybe both – she can usually tell, but not right now, and then she's ducking under a branch, into the undergrowth and all the voices fall away except Brendan's.

First time we met, and you saved my life. I hope you're feeling like an encore performance.

She stumbles, goes down on her hands and knees, barely feels the skin of her palms scraping. "Brendan!"

So far down, was he thrown from the car, I'm sorry. I really hope you can hear this, so far to fall, and he's been down here, all alone, for *hours* while she sat at her desk, read her email, it's not your fault you heard me.

"Brendan!" she shouts again, voice raw with fear, and she can hear the rescuers starting down behind her.

I'm sorry. Please. Freya, and then he's there, crumpled and bloody, half-covered with leaves, limp, unconscious.

She bites down the sob trying to rise up as she goes on her knees beside him, fumbling for a pulse. It's hard to find through the way her hands are shaking, but it's there, still beating.

"We're down here!" she yells to the rescuers, and reaches for Brendan's hand. "I'm here, Brendan, I'm here, I'm sorry we took so long. Everything's going to be okay now, I promise, I promise. Help me!" to the rescuers, then they're there, coming through the trees in bright coats with stretchers and medical kits, and gentle, "Let us through now, miss, we'll take good care of him."

It's only when she's slumped back against a nearby tree, watching them work on her partner, that she recognizes the trilling sound of Brendan's cell, just out of reach of his straining fingers, and becomes aware of her own, clutched tight in her hand, still calling Brendan's.

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Brendan thinks, ow, when he wakes up, and then he thinks, hospital, thank God, and then he thinks, Freya?

The hand on his squeezes gently, enough to make him open his eyes. Freya's sitting at his bedside, watching him with solemn eyes. Her face is pale, her hair scraped back from her face, and the part of her that he can see is wearing the dark blue NSA hoodie that she keeps in her locker, the one he gave her as a half-joking six-month anniversary of their partnership present. Her hands are bandaged.

"Happened?" he asks, fighting the pull of anaesthesia and whatever's in the IV by his head that's making the pain fuzzy and distant. His mouth tastes like cotton, his left leg feels like it's in plaster, which is no surprise, considering how much it hurt when he tried to drag himself back to civilisation, and he generally feels like he got run off the road then thrown down a cliff.

"You were in a car accident," Freya says, voice wobbling, eyes going a little too bright.

Brendan wants to turn his hand and squeeze back on hers, but he's afraid of hurting her. "You," he says. He can already feel the drugs trying to pull him down. "Y'hands."

Freya laughs, weak and relieved. He remembers the anger at the way her face twitched in sympathy when he thought so briefly of Robert, who broke his heart then got himself shot, but it feels distant in the face of her presence at his bedside, her relief. She's his best friend, his partner, and he can't remember why he minded, when he knows he'd tell her every one of his secrets if she asked.

"I tripped over a branch," she says, voice firming up again. "Scraped up my hands, and they'd only let me stay if I let them bandage me up."

Brendan hurts too much to laugh. "Wanted to match," he says.

Freya nods, bites at her bottom lip. "You scared me," she says.

"Scared me," Brendan agrees. He remembers the van that came out of nowhere, the crunch of the collision and how he lost control of the car. He doesn't remember being thrown, not clearly, just the shuddering pain of landing, then rolling down the slope, totally fucking helpless.

"Ssh," Freya says. She reaches up with the hand that's not holding his, strokes his hair back from his forehead. "It's okay now. You're safe. CSI did their thing, tracked down the van-driver. He's in custody, he wasn't – it was nothing about you, just an accident."

Brendan blinks, kind of stunned by how much they've accomplished while he's been unconscious. It probably means he's been out a lot longer than he thought, which means surgery, which means he's more injured than he thought, but he's too tired to think about any of it now. He's sure he'll have plenty of time later.

"Go back to sleep," Freya says softly. There's a bustle of movement at the other end of the ward, which probably means he's about to get visited by a doctor. He closes his eyes, lets the drugs take him. "When you're better," Freya says, "you have to teach me to drive."

Brendan slips away and thinks that it'll all be okay in the end, and that there's not a lot else he could asked for, really.


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