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Surviving the 80's

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"Do you believe in magic, in a young girl's heart-"

Brandt furled his brow and looked over at Benji. "What are you doing?" he asked breathlessly.

Benji adjusted his hold around Brandt's waist as they ran. "I'm, um, well I'm giving us a cadence."

"A what?"

"You know, a cadence. So you can, well," he shot an apologetic glance at his teammate. "so you can keep up. You're sort of, um, well, sort of s-slowing us down – a little, just a little." He shook his head and frowned. "Never mind, it's not a big deal. We can manage without it."

Brandt winced and kept placing one foot in front of the other, doing his best to hold onto the swift pace they were trying to maintain as they fled through a snow-filled forest. After they had gone a few feet in silence, he nodded emphatically. "I am slowing us down."

"No, I was being… I'm sorry. That was an ass thing to say. You're doing fine," Benji panted.

Brandt swallowed, shaking his head. "No, you were right. Not that it wasn't an ass thing to say, considering the fact that I'm trying to run while there's a piece of metal in my body that shouldn't be there, but still right. I need a little…"

"Help?" Benji offered. "I can do a different song."

"Just sing," Brandt huffed.

"Maybe you like Bon Jovi? I can do Bon Jovi. What do you think? 'Livin' On a Prayer?'"

Brandt kept his focus ahead of them. "I don't care, Benji."

The tech looked up thoughtfully. "Or maybe some Journey. Everybody likes Journey."

"Just pick a song," Brandt ground out.

"Oh! I know!" Benji raised the pitch of his voice to sound girly as he started in with, "Oh, baby, baby, how was I supposed to know-"

Brandt stumbled almost taking them both down, shooting Benji a glare as they righted themselves. "Brittany? Really?"

"Well, you said I could pick any song," Benji pointed out with a shrug.

"Not Brittany. Actually, nothing…" Brandt waved his free arm in the air for emphasis, "nothing that requires you doing a girly voice. Ever. Never again."

"Fine. Now we're going to be picky. I'm only trying to keep you alive, you know." Benji turned away quickly to avoid the darkening glare from his injured friend. He thought for a few seconds before asking, "Can I sing a lady's song?"

Brandt rolled his eyes. "Yes. Just, not with the girly voice."

Benji nodded, then fell silent for a few minutes. Brandt shot a few glances over at him as they ran. "Well?"

"I'm thinking."

"I thought you already picked one."

"No, I was just clarifying what my options were."

With a nod, Brandt kept quiet and decided to just pay attention to what was ahead of them. If he were to trip over something, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to get back up, with or without Benji's help. After another several minutes, Benji finally began singing again, a tad hesitantly as if unsure of Brandt's reaction.

"Call on me, oh call up, baby. Call on me, oh call." He glanced over at the analyst and, upon hearing no argument, he put a little more oomph into his lyrics. "Call on me, oh call up, darling. I know who you are. Come up off your calling chart. I know where you're coming from."

"Call me," Brandt mumbled along with Benji quietly, adjusting his running pace to match the rhythm of the song, "on the line. Call me, call me any, anytime."

The tech fought hard not to let the grin show that kept twitching at his face, but he couldn't quite hide it. Luckily, Brandt appeared to be too focused on matching the odd cadence to notice, so Benji again readjusted his grip on the agent and kept singing. By the time they reached the musical interlude about six minutes into the song, Brandt was singing nearly as loudly as Benji was – albeit in panting, pained fashion, but he seemed to almost be enjoying it.

"Do we…do we stop here at the interlude, or keep going?" Benji asked as the analyst continued to bob his head to the invisible music.

"Hold on, I'll tell you when to go again," Brandt answered, his eyes shut and his fingers twitching to unheard instruments. A few seconds later he held up a stalled hand, and dropped it down as the signal for Benji to jump in again.

Fully smiling now, Benji finished out the song with his teammate, then fell silent again for another several seconds. Unable to help himself, he smirked over at Brandt. "So…Blondie?"

Brandt shrugged. "It's catchy." He briefly shifted his gaze over to the tech without actually turning his head. "Don't tell anyone."

"Lot's of people like Blondie," Benji pointed out casually.

"Don't tell anyone," Brandt repeated. Another awkward pause went by before he arched his eyebrows up. "You know 'Brown Eyed Girl?'"

Benji nodded. "You start this time."

"Okay." Brandt took a few more seconds to catch his breath before jumping into the song. After that one they moved right into '867-5309' - Benji's pick - then straight to 'Bad Moon Rising' as Brandt's choice.

"Wait, wait, stop," Benji interrupted.

"Why? What's wrong?" Brandt asked, frantically looking around at the trees surrounding them.

"You can't sing 'Bad Moon Rising,'" the tech scoffed. "It's about, you know, the end and all."

Brandt nearly stopped running as he stared at his teammate. "So?"

"So, with you being shot and us on the verge of being captured and tortured, I just don't think it's a good choice. Besides, we had this whole 80's theme going. It would've ruined it."

With a heavy sigh, Brandt relented. "'She Drives Me Crazy?'"

"Right, that'll work," Benji agreed. "On three?"

"You count."

Benji did the countdown and they both began to sing at the same time. By the time they got through 'Caught Up in You' and 'Don't You Forget About Me,'" Brandt had dropped to only mouthing the words, saving his little remaining strength to just keep moving.

"We're almost at the pickup point," Benji informed him worriedly.

"I got it," Brandt barely panted out. "One more to get me there?" he added.

"'Sweet Dreams?'" Benji waited as Brandt closed his eyes, hissing past another wave of pain before nodding sharply. The tech didn't comment on the fact that he seemed to now be carrying most of Brandt's weight; as long as they could keep up their pace, it'd be fine. They were almost home.

The song was nearly over as the two lurched into a field where they could see a chopper sitting at the other end. Ethan, who had cleared a channel in the snow in the shape of the circular path he been walking in while he waited anxiously for his team members to arrive, spotted them instantly. He raced forward to help, taking up Brandt's other arm and throwing it over his shoulder.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Uh, bad guys, guns, lots of running, and 80's music," Benji answered.

Brandt started giggling like a little kid.

Ethan arched an eyebrow at the two as he practically dragged them to the chopper. From inside, Carter reached down to help pull Brandt up and laid him out on the floor. "What happened?" she asked, unknowingly parroting Ethan's tone exactly.

Brandt chuckled louder, sucking in little pained breaths between laughs. "Bad guys, guns, lots of running, and 80's music," he repeated.

Carter exchanged a look with Ethan, who merely shrugged, and Benji, who pointed down at the injured man. "He took a hit to the back, right side. He's probably a bit lightheaded. Blood loss, you know." With that, he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes, exhausted. He fell asleep almost instantly.

As Ethan and Carter began tending to Brandt, the analyst started humming something as he barely hung onto consciousness.

"Is that…?" Ethan began.

Carter paused what she was doing to listen for a second. "Hit me baby one more time," she sang along, with an amused look crossing her face. "80's music and Brittany Spears? I think we might have missed something."

Ethan huffed out a laugh as he patted Brandt's shoulder and slid up to the front of the chopper. "We'll ask them about it later. Right now let's just get our boys home."

Brandt sighed heavily. "That's a great idea," he mumbled before succumbing to his own weariness, trying desperately to hang onto the notion that if Benji ever told anyone about their impromptu forest concert, he'd give the tech a shiny new scar to match the one he had just been gifted with.

The End!