?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Oct. 4th, 2006 @ 07:40 am Hewligan Fest: Keep It Simple (Thoughtcrimes/Traders) by Valderys
Title: Keep It Simple
Fandom: Thoughtcrimes/Traders
Author: valderys
Recipient: darsnape_dracul
Pairing: Brendan Dean/Grant Jansky
Rating: PG13
Summary: When a mercenary army turns terrorist, the NSA are called in to investigate. But it’s just another job for Agent Brendan Dean and his partner Freya, because, after all – what could possibly happen to them in Canada?
Notes: Written for the Hewligan Fest. Hope you enjoy – this is yet another attempt at giving certain events in Traders a happier ending! (I think I’m obsessed :) At almost 9,000 words, it also got away from me a bit. I apologise too for a recurring trope – apparently my Grant likes to seduce people with food… Spoilers up to ‘No Fixed Address’.


It was a shitty day.

Of course, there were lots of shitty days in this job, and it wasn’t like Brendan hadn’t had his fair share of them over the years, but it was hardly his, or Freya’s, fault that the perp from the Rodriguez case had decided to off himself by jumping in the river. Freya hadn’t had an inkling of it, so it was pretty obvious the guy didn’t know he was going to jump until he did it either, so was it any wonder that such a half-assed plan for escape had back-fired to the extent of his body washing up ten miles downstream? Washing up along with Brendan Dean’s career, or that was what it felt like, as he waded through the back-filing that Harper had decided was right up his street for today, and probably for the foreseeable.

Freya had laughed, which was just peachy. Then she’d gone to visit her sister, although not without wagging a finger at him, and telling him to can the language. Brendan had thrown a cup-holder after her – he hadn’t actually said anything, now had he? If she wanted squeaky clean she could go visit a nursery, or something. He was a hard-bitten agent, dammit. Although, as he picked up H through to M, Brendan wondered if the violence and intrigue that surrounded a pre-schooler’s day might actually be one up on his morning so far.

Then the phone rang. Brendan grabbed it like a lifeline, prepared to do anything – anything at all – if it meant that he could see something other than the same four walls. Even if it meant – flying to Canada? He listened, and mmm-hmmed in the right places, and didn’t blow off the request, even if it was just scut work, something a rookie could do. A piece of international hand-holding, with about as much likelihood of a decent arrest as a chocolate teapot had of not dribbling all over the table. Brendan smiled, suddenly feeling cheerful. See how Freya liked being yanked all over the map. Maybe she’d curse a bit herself then. Yeah, things were definitely looking up.

***


Donald put another shiny metal saucepan into the cardboard box, and then looked up. Grant was doing it again.

“Umm. Grant… Could you, maybe, stop looking at me like that?” Donald asked, politely, as though it wasn’t creeping him out.

Grant did this to everyone, though. The big injured eyes that just stared and stared, until you didn’t know if you’d actually done anything wrong, or whether it was just the over-whelming Grant-induced guilt doing the talking.

Of course, in this case it was simple. Donald knew what he’d done wrong – he was still doing it. He was moving to London. He’d asked Grant to move out. He was planning on asking Ziggy to go with him. Sometimes it surprised him that he didn’t just melt into a huge puddle of guilt and get it over with.

“Shouldn’t you be packing too?” Donald tried again, since Grant hadn’t moved from his perch on the breakfast bar, his hands clasped round his knees. It didn’t look like he was cocooning again, he tended to go away and hide when he did that, although it still looked like Grant was in some kind of pain. But then, everything else was so messed up that Donald found that he couldn’t worry about Grant like he had done once. Like he had before Ziggy, when Grant would crawl into his bed like some kind of over-grown puppy, all elbows and knees. All furnace warmth, and tickling beard. Grant had been a comfort in those days. A comfort like a favourite blanket that you eventually grew out of, and then moved on to less childish things – although nothing else they’d done had been childish. Donald had carried the guilt of that for longer than most small betrayals, although Grant didn’t seem to bear a grudge. He liked Ziggy. He’d just stopped crawling into Donald’s bed, warm and damp from the shower, and Donald didn’t miss it. He didn’t. Any more than he missed Gardner Ross, or Bay Street, or would miss Toronto.

After all, Donald had to grow up some time, didn’t he? Like Grant?

Grant blinked slowly, and then tucked his head into the crook of his shoulder, hunching even more.

“I miss Jack,” he announced, apropos of nothing, and Donald sighed.

“I’ll call a removal firm, will that be all right? They’ll pack for you, and everything, Grant.” He watched him blink again, and said, “The lease finishes at the end of the week. You have to be out by then. Ok? You have to. That’s all. I can’t do anything about it.”

And Donald picked up another saucepan and began to wrap it in newspaper. He couldn’t do anything about anything. That had always been his trouble. Maybe he would be less helpless in London. It was something to look forward to, in amongst all the mess.

***


So, Brendan thought, he had to ask a few questions, smile a bit, do the good-will thing, and let Freya do all the real work. Even assuming anyone in this place knew anything at all. It was a tenuous connection, but they had to follow up all the leads. Why would a mercenary army with terrorist connections have any real dealings with a minor Canadian investment bank, after all? Money laundering, sure, but then weren’t there better places, and better firms, to risk it with? Canadians like these would smile and smile, and be polite and apologise, even when they were stabbing you in the back. Or maybe that was the point?

Brendan smiled like he meant it, and then shook the old guy’s hand. What was his name? Oh yeah – Cunningham, Adam Cunningham. He practically reeked of old money. Brendan stifled the urge to wipe his contaminated hand on his pants. Freya would be doing her thing, although she’d avoided shaking hands, for which he didn’t blame her. This place felt antsy, like it was always on the edge of something. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling, although the something in question didn’t really feel illegal. Brendan just hoped they’d get lucky.

“Sally Ross, is she available?” Freya asked abruptly, interrupting his small-talk, and Brendan tensed. Was this it?

Cunningham looked briefly pained, and then smoothly offered, “She’s no longer associated with the firm, I’m afraid. You might find her at home.”

Égide Obélisque were elusive bastards. Even more so with Brunet dead. Allegedly killed by another of these bankers. So that proved at least one of them was dangerous, although it still seemed hard to believe. In this case, however, Brendan would like to shake this Jack Larkin by the hand sincerely, even as he clicked the cuffs on, since Brunet had been scum of the earth. Polite scum of the earth, in a $500 suit, but still scum. Larkin, in fact, was a person that Brendan wanted to talk to quite urgently – but, let’s face it, local law enforcement were doing more than their best, and were probably keener to get the guy than he was.

He dropped the name into conversation anyway, to allow Freya to pick up on what Cunningham might free-associate with him, and then went with it, as Freya took over and abruptly asked after two more names. Cunningham sighed and then raised an eyebrow. Brendan decided he really was going to have to have a word with Freya about the protocol of interviewing witnesses who weren’t actual suspects, but the man answered, however unimpressed he was, “Donald D’Arby is another employee who we had to let go. And Jansky is… Well, his office is over there. I’m not sure how co-operative he’ll be. He has a… unique perspective on the world.”

And Freya winced. It made Brendan frown. And wonder what it was that Cunningham was thinking about this Jansky that had Freya so annoyed.

***


It was too hot in his cupboard. No, it was too cold. Perhaps he should open his air-vent just a little? No, that would be draughty. He didn’t want Amber to catch a cold. He wanted Amber to be comfortable.

Carefully, Grant felt in his pocket for the crackling feel of rolled up paper. That’s all it was really. Just paper. Like tickets for the opera, or a Valentine’s card, except it was in the abstract. Like the goods he traded for, except less theoretical than that, since he was actually fingering the money in his pocket. It was still just paper though really. That’s all Amber wanted. Paper. Money was all about numbers scrolling on a screen, not the crinkling of small sheets that smelled of metal, and leather, and sweat of a thousand different palms. No. Don’t think about that. A thousand different hands running over… No, Amber would be pleased, if he could get the temperature just right. That was what would really please Amber. If her pookie got it right.

There was a knock on the door, and Grant found his fingers flying to straighten the tie he wasn’t wearing, before remembering that Amber never knocked. Amber knew he was waiting, was always pleased to see her. This couldn’t possibly be Amber. He almost wondered who it was, but the possibilities skittered like sparkles on a shifting sea, and Grant was poised in the admiration of the pretty patterns they made, without any real curiosity as to his actual visitor. It almost surprised him when the door opened and an unknown man and a girl walked in. Grant flinched, and his shoulders rounded themselves in shock. People he didn’t know. Two of them. Come to see him. Strange people never boded well. Never. His thoughts flew away, as scattered as the lights on the water in his mind.

“Mr Jansky?” said the man, who had the most pointed ears Grant had ever seen. Maybe he was an elf? Or a demon? Or a pooka, although they could shift their shape, and you’d think they wouldn’t bother to keep the ears, if that was the case, since it had made him suspicious already… Oh, the pixie was talking again, and weren’t those eyes pretty – green and brown, and flecked with gold.

“Mr Jansky? I believe you share an apartment with a Mr Donald D’Arby?”

Pretty voice too, like a thin trail of syrup down a chin, or down a chest, as it glittered and got stuck to the hairs there. Dark hairs, Grant was willing to imagine, and it would tickle, and the pretty voice would laugh, with a higher pitched giggle than his speaking voice. Like Donald’s voice went, although he didn’t have a hairy chest, but he did have freckles, and syrup would have made them shine oddly through the golden liquid…

“Donald’s moving to London. Moving out. He’s called a removal firm for me. I have to move out too. I’ll move back to the park. I liked it in the park.”

Grant stopped abruptly, aware they were staring at him, and getting lost in pretty faerie eyes. Then he ducked his head, and felt bad, because Amber wouldn’t understand, and he shouldn’t be thinking about pookas when she was coming to visit her pookie, and that was a similarity, and maybe that’s why the man made Grant feel like a tuning fork, and he was a single note of music, resonating through and through…

“Do you know the whereabouts of Jack Larkin, Mr Jansky?” asked the girl, and Grant looked fleetingly at her before turning back to the green eyes and the hair, which stuck up like Grant’s own did sometimes, and Grant wanted to smooth it down. Jack had emailed that Jack was all right, that Jack needed Grant, and Grant liked to be needed. Grant could help Jack, would meet Jack in the… The man smiled right into his eyes. His heart thumped then, and Grant wondered abruptly if this was what hypnotism felt like, even though he’d never dared try that, since he’d had such a bad reaction to the meds that time, and Dr Chumley had pursed his lips and shaken his head, and been terribly disappointed. Grant hated disappointing people.

Then his stomach did a sort of flip-flopping thing because these people were looking disappointed too, but Grant knew he wasn’t supposed to talk about Jack, about meeting Jack, and so he said, “No,” quickly, and shut his mouth, because he mustn’t talk, mustn’t think about it. Must get out of there…

“Going now. I’m late,” he said, pushing past, and, wow, the man smelled wonderful. Like Sunday tea in the orphanage when they got strawberry jam, and cup cakes. And sometimes chocolate. Grant had loved chocolate – he wished he could still eat it, but maybe just smelling it would be enough. Smelling it on this man

Definitely late. Amber would be angry. He’d make it up to her though, with crackling paper and a picnic. She’d like that.

***


Now sometimes his partner drove him crazy. And sometimes she was spooky, and freaked him out. But mostly, Brendan decided, he just wanted to kill her.

“Will you stop laughing, Frey?” he asked, politely, he thought, as they walked down the steps of Gardner Ross Cunningham. He just hoped he didn’t sound as plaintive to Freya as he did to his own ears.

She snorted slightly, but did stop, although a suspicious smirk hovered around her mouth.

“What is it, anyway?” he asked again, “What’s so damn funny?”

“I thought you’d be interested to know that Jansky helped. He doesn’t know where Larkin is, but he does know where he will be. Larkin emailed him.”

Freya smirked again, and Brendan decided he was going to listen to the Girl from Ipanema as soon as he possibly could, or maybe the Macarena – listen to it for hours, until it was well embedded in his psyche. That’d show her.

“So – where will he be, then? That’s good enough, you know that. We need to get to Larkin before the local types do,” he stared at her, “Come on, Freya, you’re holding out on me.”

Now it was her turn to look uncomfortable, although not before time. She pushed a hand through her hair, and got that little frown between her brows. It made Brendan twitch, and realise he wanted to go for his gun. Huh. That was weird.

“Jansky’s mind doesn’t seem to work quite like anyone else’s. Even with a verbal stimulus he doesn’t think of the same things. He’s distracted easily. It’s like his mind… is sort of bent. Like he’s looking at the world at 90 degrees to the rest of us. I couldn’t quite…” She shook her head.

Brendan frowned. Did that make Jansky dangerous? Or just really, really weird? Did it mean Freya was hurt somehow by it? She didn’t look hurt. No-one laughed like that if they were hurt. What the hell did it mean anyway? He cocked his head and looked over to see Freya watching and giggling. Sometimes he hated this telepathic thing.

“Actually, I think you’ll get more out of him than I will, Brendan,” she said, her eyes twinkling at him in a disturbing manner, “You were all he could think about.”

“I… What?” He could swear she did this to him on purpose, and he huffed a little as he nearly missed the next step down. But almost involuntarily his mind flew back to the slightly hunched man with the beard, and the wild hair, and the hunted look, that they’d just seen. He’d had really blue eyes, Brendan thought. Really blue eyes.

Freya giggled again, so he tried to think of all the vicious things likely to be in her immediate future, starting with the salt that would be substituting for sugar in her coffee.

“Really,” she said, “Don’t start with me. You don’t want to know about the syrup…”

***


Grant supposed he should be grateful.

He hadn’t been whisked away to live out his natural life under a hill. And he hadn’t been forced to dance until his feet bled. And he hadn’t been dragged under the ocean wave until he drowned. Although that would be a bit hard, since Toronto was a long way from the sea, although he supposed the Lakes would do in a pinch. He didn’t think the fey were that picky, after all. Even the big pond in the middle of his park would probably do, if the faerie in question didn’t mind bicycle tyres, or Twinkie wrappers, or drowning him with the latest edition of the Toronto Star wrapped round his mouth.

The idea disturbed him much less than he thought it probably should do. In fact, it was sort of pleasant to be idly thinking about staring into green-gold eyes the same colour as the water… More pleasant than thinking about Amber. Although the picnic had been nice. She’d liked it. He was still her pookie.

It didn’t matter that the money was gone. That his hands smelled of chicken salad, not the greasy little crackling bundle. That he was still sat on the chequered cloth, and the basket was right there, not even packed, and yet Amber was gone too. Picked up her phone, and that had been that. He hadn’t brought enough paper. He needed to shower Amber with it, rain it down on her head like confetti, like cherry blossom. He needed to… He wondered if the pixie man would like to share his picnic?

He was lurking, and Grant wasn’t sure if he was supposed to have noticed him or not. They were tricksie things, after all. Maybe the man would be more comfortable if Grant pretended he didn’t see him? It wasn’t a hard thing to do. Grant liked to pretend the world didn’t see him sometimes, but right now, on his own, sat on a chequered cloth in a park, with all these people around him, it was really hard to pretend to be invisible. In fact, it might just be the loneliest place on earth. Lonelier even than Donald’s apartment, now that Donald had gone, because he still had his own room, until tomorrow anyway, when they would come to pack him away. Grant shivered. He didn’t want to be packed away.

Somehow, that decided him. He leant over and rummaged in the picnic basket until he came up with a little tub of blue jello. That would do. He was sure he’d read somewhere that they liked sweet things. At least this way, if he was lucky, he’d get to watch the pretty pooka lick the spoon. With the jello in one hand, and the spoon in the other, he got up and wondered over to the bench behind the bush.

“Umm. Do you… Would you like something to eat? I’ve got pudding cups, if you don’t like jello?” said Grant, hopefully.

***


Why did these things always happen to him?

To say that Brendan felt out of place was like saying the Himalayas were quite tall for the time of year. He was sure he used to be good at surveillance. Maybe having Freya on his team meant that his other skills were getting rusty? Maybe this was a wake-up call, and not just a really humiliating experience?

Brendan stretched his legs out and watched the visible section of his hairy calf disappear back into the pants leg that was meant to be decently covering it. He didn’t know what it was, but suits always felt stupid at picnics. Although, who was he kidding? This picnic would have him feeling stupid, whatever he was wearing. He could see it now – Harper would piss himself laughing once he heard. Brendan would be lucky if he was busted back to traffic, after this.

“You’re not eating your pudding cup,” came an anxious voice from beside him.

Resigned to the ordeal, Brendan glanced idly at his – suspect? host? – to see him also watching the slow slide of leg disappearing under wool. Grant – Jansky, wasn’t it? – wouldn’t look him in the eye, all Brendan could see were quick flashes of brilliant blue, bright under long lashes. The sight brought with it unexpected warmth, and Brendan rolled his eyes at himself. Just to cap it all, he found their only lead attractive. Insane, and quite possibly guilty as all hell. But attractive. Great. He might as well shoot himself now, and make it easier for everyone.

Of course, there was the fact that cute guys who liked him didn’t exactly grow on trees. Cute, insane guys, in a foreign country he’d likely never visit again, who had information Brendan needed… Maybe he should just change his name to Mata Hari Dean, and get it over with, since that’s where this scenario seemed to be rapidly heading. Instead, somewhat glumly, he took a bite of pudding cup. Butterscotch flavour. And what was this guy’s age, anyway? Twelve going on thirty?

Brendan found himself tensing as he suddenly realised that Grant had focused on him at last. That he was getting a wide stare from huge blue eyes that seemed to be watching… his mouth? Oh. Oh... He had a split second to decide whether to back away, and it was only the fact he was sat on his ass, with his dignity already through the floor, that stopped him back-peddling like crazy. Grant leaned over, rising onto his knees, so that he was a just a bit taller than Brendan, and those hands, which he’d noticed had never seemed to stop twitching, never stop moving and shifting, were finally still. They cupped his face, and Brendan caught a scent like fresh bread and ozone, and they were furnace warm, and broad, and… one finger swiped the corner of his mouth. And apparently Brendan was also twelve going on thirty, since he couldn’t even eat a pudding cup without spreading it all over himself.

Grant held up his finger, glistening slightly with sweet stickiness, and grinned like a child. Brendan ignored how his heart was thumping, and the spike of heat that seemed to shoot straight from Grant Jansky’s large hands to pool low in his groin. This man was a suspect, and the situation was stupid, and wrong, and he should just leave. Right now.

He didn’t move.

Grant was staring, like Brendan was more delicious even than the pudding cup, and that was a thing that Brendan could empathise with. So he’d never actually been seduced on a picnic blanket, in a park, by a suspect before? So what? There was first time for everything, wasn’t there? And it wasn’t even really as though Grant had made a move. Not a real move. There was no harm done…

Then Grant proffered his finger. Gently pushing at Brendan’s lips, offering him that last little bite, sugary and sweet, and so very forbidden. Brendan meant to pull away, he really did. He didn’t mean to let his mouth open. He didn’t mean to lick the warm finger inserted for his convenience – he certainly didn’t mean to let his tongue swirl round the digit, and taste the butterscotch, and the fainter flavour of something more savoury, with a hint of salt that bit at his palate and flooded his mouth.

He really didn’t mean to groan, however slightly. But even as Brendan stared up into Grant’s eyes something changed between them. Something that went from ‘I didn’t mean’ to ‘I want’. Apparently though, it was something that Grant spoke fluently, because suddenly Brendan was flat on his back with several armfuls of wriggling cute guy on top of him, all wayward limbs, and hot bruising mouth. Damn, but he missed this. The strength holding him down, and the eagerness, the way he wanted to thrust up at Grant in return like a horny teenager. The way this could get him so very busted.

Damn. Just, damn.

***


Ok, thought Freya, when she caught sight of Brendan on the way back to the hotel, maybe I didn’t need to tell him about the syrup, after all.

He was adorably mussed, and his tie was askew – although that wasn’t anything unusual – and his mouth was pink with beard burn. Freya debated the merits of telling him about the grass stain on his elbow, versus keeping it for ammunition later. Nope, there didn’t really seem to be any benefit to mentioning it, there was plenty of scope in just smirking at him, right here, right now. Hell, she didn’t even need to read minds to know exactly what wonder boy had been up to this afternoon.

“Hey, Brendan, whatcha doin’?” she drawled, as she caught up with him, just as he got into the elevator, and he sent her a rather wide-eyed, panicked sort of glance.

“Just don’t, Freya, all right?” Brendan seemed frazzled, not happy, not smug, and Freya thought back to the guys she’d known, back Before. The guys she’d dated, even, and decided that any guy who looked like Brendan did right now, should be as cocky as all hell about it afterwards. Even if only in his own mind.

She took another look, and caught ‘fuck, fuck, he’s implicated, I can’t, this is such a bad idea’ before she looked away again. So much for that. Poor Brendan.

“But did he tell you anything?” she asked, since if Brendan was going to be all messed up about it, then the least they could do was get what they came for.

“Yeah,” he offered, leaning back against the mirrored wall, and closing his eyes, “Jack Larkin will be at the Redfox internet café on Yonge Street tomorrow morning at 10 am, Grant’s meeting him there.”

“And the long face is because…?” She wasn’t just going to let him off the hook that easily, after all.

“Because Grant trusted me. I don’t think he even realises I’m NSA. We had a… a picnic, and he trusted me, and he told me everything, and now he’s going to know that I lied. That I used him. And I get the impression that this happens to Grant a lot. Is that enough for you?”

The elevator pinged, and Brendan pushed off violently, and was halfway down the corridor before Freya could think to catch him up.

She shook her head, and followed. Brendan was just mad at himself. He’d get over it. It wasn’t the end of the world, and Grant would understand. Wouldn’t he? Although even as she reassured herself, Freya found a tiny trickle of doubt creeping in. Grant’s mind was so very peculiar. Not broken, but certainly put together differently.

She resolved to make sure she was there. Not that Brendan would keep her out of it, but this was a very different Brendan. He was off-balance, and his judgement was all over the place. That much at least was clear. She was going to have to make sure she was present, and then she was going to support her partner, while he made this difficult arrest. And then – then – she’d get Grant and Brendan to sit down and make them talk to each other, even if she had to translate one man’s thoughts to the other. She had a distinct impression Brendan wouldn’t forgive himself, if she didn’t.

Freya sighed. What a stupid situation. Why did guys always find it so hard to talk about their feelings?

***


Was it a bad thing that he didn’t want to see Amber any more? Was he a bad person because he didn’t want to take the greasy handled money and watch her pretend, watch her blank eyes look through him, like fish’s eyes, all cloudy and grey. He liked the way she made him feel, liked feeling skin on skin, the connection, the release. But afterwards, he somehow felt dirty, and her eyes were always cold.

He hadn’t realised the difference. Donald had started seeing Ziggy ages ago, and Grant hadn’t realised how much he’d missed him, even before he went to London. He missed waking up with Donald, on his crisp white sheets with their high thread count, and the smell of aftershave on his pillow. He missed the little gasping noises Donald would make. He missed the warmth.

People always left. They never stayed. He knew that. It was one of the reasons why he’d started talking to the squirrels in the park. They were never going to leave - squirrels were dependable like that. And trees. Trees would outlive him, and they could never run away. He really liked the park.

It was funny how a faerie man called Brendan could remind him how true all that was. Could remind him how different it all was with Amber, and how the physical closeness wasn’t always enough. He’d always thought that it would be, when he didn’t have that – and with Donald it always had been, even if Grant had known Donald wasn’t for always and ever. But it took a total stranger – fey antecedents notwithstanding – to make him realise that he wanted more than Amber was prepared to give. That he wanted something real.

He thought about all of this as he went to meet Jack. He thought about all of this, and then he tumbled it over, and thought about it in a different way. He tried it upside down, and he tried peeking at it out the corner of his eye, and he tried flat out spreading all the options over the table like cards. He liked the man with the pointy ears, who was called Brendan. But he wasn’t Donald. Or Jack. He wasn’t Ann either though, and that had to be a good thing. Ann hadn’t liked him, not enough, not in the right way – she’d liked Jack. But Brendan had liked him enough to kiss him, so that must mean something, right? Anyway, Ann was dead. Blown up by bad men. By Égide Obélisque, so Jack had said, and… he mustn’t think about Ann any more. Jack had said that too.

He held the door of the Redfox open for some boy with glasses, and ducked his head when the boy attempted to catch his eye to say thanks. He was on a mission for Jack, that was what was important. Maybe he should ask Jack about Brendan? Jack would know what to do. Grant scuttled forward, eager to ask him, now he’d decided something, now he’d looked at it all ways up and come to this conclusion. Then the smell of his favourite coffee shop hit him like the welcome hug of a friend, and Grant straightened up, fully, just for a second, and he smiled. Moccaccino, with marshmallows, and extra cream. That’s what he’d order.

And then the shooting started.

***


Fuck. He should have known. Things could fuck up in this business faster than a speeding bullet, and he knew that. In fact, given that’s exactly what was happening Brendan decided that the speeding bullet analogy was a really bad one. Way to go, Dean, he thought to himself as he calculated angles, and trajectories, and felt his heart speed up. Freya was fine, she could feel the intention before it translated to the pressure required on the trigger finger, and was flat on her back behind a trashcan, but the perp still had them both pinned down. At least Brendan was inside the coffee shop. He’d seen Larkin, lurking at the back by the pcs, and he’d not wanted to wait. Something to do with Grant’s huge blue eyes. Something to do with wanting to rip a plaster off in one go, and as soon as possible, not leave it to itch and sting, and hurt by inches.

Once Brendan had arrested this son-of-a-bitch – who was meant to be Grant’s friend, but who didn’t hesitate about getting him involved in fraud and murder, and was just using him, just like everyone else – well, then Brendan could go home. Shake off the dust of this stupid country, and leave it all behind. But now… Well, now Brendan had to get them all out alive first. Easy-peasy. Even this bastard Larkin, because if he didn’t do that, then everything else was for nothing.

Another spray of semi-automatic gunfire sent him ducking his head as more cups and glasses shattered above the counter. There was a small scream from a terrified patron, and Brendan wanted to say something reassuring, but knew there wasn’t time. The thing that he’d been ignoring, the one small fact that was making his hands sweat, and his vision focus into a sharp, clear kind of anger, was the crumpled body near the till. His suspect, his problem – someone who he was meant to protect either way – who hadn’t ducked, who hadn’t been as lucky, and who somehow looked larger than usual, sprawled and unconscious as he was in an untidy heap on the floor. Brendan couldn’t see him bleeding out though, and it was hope enough to keep him sane in those frantic seconds, when he thought, fuck, not Grant, of all people, not Grant… It wasn’t fucking fair.

His hands were steady though, as he raised his gun and fired first one shot, then two. It was only then that Brendan noticed the smell of cordite in the air, like at the practice range, like he always did after a fight, after the fight – but he kept his concentration, he didn’t expose himself, the way he’d been trained. Even though he was pretty certain he’d neutralised the threat, he stayed on the floor. He hardly needed to listen to the steady uninterrupted drip of water from the espresso machine to know that it was safe, but it was good anyway to get Freya’s strangled call.

“Shooter’s down. He must be – I can’t sense anything.”

Freya was getting so good in a crisis, there was no running or freezing, just pure professionalism, she was the best partner he could ever hope for, and that meant it was fine to get up off the floor and turn to finish this. To do what he’d damn well come here to do, when he’d thought he’d be willing go anywhere or do anything to get away from his boring office, before he’d realised there were things that could fuck you up in the space of days – of hours even. Before he’d realised there were people that could get under your skin so fast…

He was shaking now, Brendan realised, even as he strode through the debris, through the scene he’d help secure later, once his target was restrained. His vision was tunnelling a bit, and that probably wasn’t good, but there was movement ahead, and he shifted his focus, like a bloodhound coming on a scent. Larkin. Trying to find a back way out, running like the bastard coward he was, letting others take his shit, and then ducking out, like he always seemed to do. Couldn’t take his jail time, could he? Couldn’t take anything, other people always paying, well, this time, it wasn’t going to work. This time the bill was coming fucking due.

He caught the asshole before he’d made it through the little storage room, all smelling of coffee beans, thick and rich and choking. At least he turned to fight, which made Brendan smile, and the first blow Larkin landed made him grunt, because it was solid and well-placed, no flailing, or messing. It made it better then, when Brendan threw a punch of his own that connected solidly to a jaw, although he hadn’t expected the spatter of blood, until Brendan realised that he was still holding onto his gun. He dropped it then, and dove back in, ignoring the bruising his ribs were taking, and instead concentrating on pounding the murderous bastard’s face into the wall. He didn’t know if it would make things better. He didn’t really care. His career was sliding out of control anyway, everything was sliding out of control. This was all that was left. And he was going to make sure…

Freya’s voice cut through the haze like a dash of water to the face, “Brendan, it’s ok, it’s ok, you’ve got him, he’s down. Jesus, Brendan! He didn’t murder anyone. He didn’t kill Brunet. He’s never used a knife in his life, I can tell. You can’t kill him, Brendan, he’s not guilty. Can you hear me?”

And it was enough to bring him back, from that far place, enough to make him want to curl up with the shame of having lost it. To make him want to cry out against his misery and confusion, and to shout about the unfairness of it all. His career was probably shot to hell for so many reasons, and someone who didn’t deserve it had gotten hurt, maybe even killed… And he’d just beaten an innocent man into unconsciousness. Yeah, this was a peach of a day.

He looked Freya in the eye, knowing she could read it all, if she wanted to.

“I’ll call it in,” Brendan said, bitterly, and reached for his cell. He really hoped ambulances were fast in Canada.

***


It hurt. Being shot hurt a lot. Grant was quite glad he’d been unconscious for the really unpleasant bits of it. But now… Well, apparently you got unlimited jello in hospital, and anytime he pushed his button he got a smiling nurse in a crisp clean uniform, and there was barley water, and flowers. And lots and lots of visitors. He hadn’t been brought grapes though, and he thought all patients were meant to have grapes. Grant thought he might ask Donald to buy him some.

Donald had flown in from London to see him, and that gave Grant a warm flutter in his belly. He’d looked so anxious too, and he kept trying to bring Grant things. He’d gone to the apartment (which hadn’t been packed away yet), and he’d brought Grant’s Gameboy, and his Star Wars action figures, and he’d wanted to bring his telescope, and his VR set-up too. The nurses had said no to those though, for space reasons, even though Grant had a room to himself, and there was plenty of space really. That was why Grant thought Donald might like to buy him grapes – it seemed like he wanted to be asked. Grant knew all about that though. He’d seen it a lot on people’s faces since he’d woken up in the ambulance. People felt guilty, although he didn’t really understand why. He’d been shot by accident, after all. Bad men trying to hurt Jack.

He remembered waking up and looking up into golden-green eyes. He remembered smiling and watching those eyes blink at him, and thinking that, of course, the pretty faerie man had saved him. He’d looked upset though, and Grant had tried to reassure him. He’d tried to hold Brendan’s hand, until Grant had realised that his right hand didn’t work, and that it hurt to move, and there was a tube running into him, just like Ann, and Ann had been screaming and shouting, and… Brendan had grabbed his other hand then, his left, and Grant had found himself calming. Brendan’s hands were so strong - long and thin and elegant, and Grant wanted to suck each finger and watch him shiver like that time in the park.

Then he’d looked over, and Jack had been in the ambulance too, although the bad men must have reached him, at least a bit, because he was all bruised. But it had made Grant happy that Jack had turned his head and smiled a bit too. And he didn’t look shot. He didn’t even look particularly hurt, despite all the bruises, and Grant had wondered a bit about that. He decided it was because Jack didn’t look trapped any more. He still looked tense, and tired, and a bit guilty, but it didn’t look like he minded being there, in the ambulance. It didn’t look like he minded being caught.

Jack was just down the corridor, in the same hospital. And Grant had been to see him, even with the police guarding the door. He’d been pushed there in a wheelchair by Donald, and that felt good. The three of them together again, even if only for a little while. Donald and Jack had eyed each other, until Jack had looked away first, and after that they’d smiled, and it had been ok. Grant had asked Jack about the bruising, and about the bad men. About Égide Obélisque. Jack had looked sullen and annoyed then, and told him to ask Agent Dean. It had taken a while before Grant had realised that he’d meant Brendan. He’d been meaning to ask Brendan what Jack had meant ever since.

Because best of all, better than blue jello, better than knowing Jack was safe, better than anything, there was Brendan. He liked Freya too, his partner, who came to visit Grant as well, although not as often as Brendan. He was glad of that because she reminded him somehow of Ann, which made him a little uncomfortable. It was something in the eyes, like she had secrets that no-one else knew, but she always smiled at Grant, just like Ann used to do. It made him happy, but it made him sad too. Ann would have liked Freya, Grant thought.

But Brendan. Brendan came every day, and his face always had that slightly pinched look that Grant was beginning to associate with guilt. Brendan watched movies with him on the tv above the bed. He played backgammon with Grant. He read to him, and let Grant hold his hand sometimes. But he wouldn’t let Grant ask him what was wrong. He wouldn’t do anything else either, although sometimes Grant thought he wanted to. Grant was beginning to get mad. He was determined that this time – this time – Brendan wouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

Grant could take it. Whatever it was. He’d thought hard about what Jack had meant, and so he’d guessed that Brendan wasn’t really a pooka. And, after all, compared to that, how bad could it possibly be?

***


His leave was running out, Brendan reminded himself as he got out of the elevator and walked along to Grant’s room. Even for a man who never took any, this was getting ridiculous. He was going to have to say good-bye to Grant, tell him he was going back to New York. Tell him…

Tell him all the things he’d been putting off for the last week. Yeah, right, good one, Dean. It’ll be so much better coming now, a week later.

He banged into the room, and winced at the noise the door made as it slammed into the wall. It didn’t seem to bother Grant – he looked up eagerly, and his huge blue eyes lit with an unmistakeable excitement. Brendan tried not to wince. The one thing that had made all this bearable was Grant’s complete cluelessness with people. But he was always so pleased to see Brendan, it was hard to keep his distance. Particularly since Brendan really didn’t want to.

Grant’s shoulder was healing well, so his doctor had said. And Brendan had to agree as he surveyed the man in the bed. A white bandage still marred his upper chest, but the skin around it was a healthy pink colour, what could be seen through the liberal chest hair, and Grant had straightened up without any appearance of discomfort as soon as Brendan had arrived. He felt his heart thump in his chest as he surveyed Grant – there was just something about the man that appealed to Brendan. God knows why. He was still cute and insane, but at least he was no longer Brendan’s suspect, and that was something.

“Now where were we…” said Brendan, as he pulled up the chair next to the bed, and picked up the book he had been reading to Grant. Not that Grant couldn’t read it for himself, but he seemed to like it when Brendan read to him. He lay back, and sighed, and sometimes he closed his eyes. Other times Brendan found Grant leaning over him to follow the words on the page – his breath ghosting lightly along his cheek. Occasionally Grant had rested his head on Brendan’s shoulder and, cursing his weakness, sometimes Brendan had let him. Frankly, this couldn’t continue. Brendan was going to explode.

“We got to where Bilbo is the only one free, and he has to rescue all the dwarves from the spiders in Mirkwood,” said Grant, all in a rush, and Brendan found himself smiling in spite of himself. God, Grant was so enthusiastic, so very easy to be with. So easy to fool. God, Brendan hated his conscience sometimes.

“So,” Brendan began, suddenly fed up with all his prevarication, “You know how sometimes people have to do things they don’t like, in order to help others. Like Bilbo. Or, umm, because it’s their duty. Or their job.”

Grant seemed confused, which would be about right, given what a complete hash Brendan was making of this, “You mean, like a soldier? Or a wizard..? Like Gandalf having to leave the ring with Frodo because that was his destiny, even though he thought it would be Frodo’s death?”

“Well, yes, but more like the soldier. Or a policeman,” said Brendan, a bit desperately. Save him from more metaphors based on Lord of the Rings – Brendan hadn’t read it since he was a kid. Trust Grant to know it backwards. “Well, say someone did something… or… said something, that meant someone else told him things. Things he might not have meant to tell anyone. And suppose that first someone regrets that he wasn’t honest from the word go, and that he wishes he hadn’t let the second someone go on believing things that weren’t really true, even though it was for good reasons, to do with duty, and… things.”

Brendan fingered the book in his hands, before putting it aside and looking at Grant – how could anyone understand that? Fuck.

But Grant was smiling. Brendan felt his stomach do a little flip-flop. “It’s ok,” Grant said, “I know you’re not really a elf. I’ve known for ages. I don’t mind.”

“An elf?” Brendan exploded, “What the hell..? Dammit, Grant I’m trying to tell you I’m NSA! Not some made-up mythical creature from a story! And that I’m sorry, all right?”

Grant stared at him then, and Brendan tried to read what was going on in his face. It was weird, Grant was so open most of the time, but the way his mind worked was so different to normal people that Brendan felt like he was constantly kept on his toes. Most of the time he liked it. Sometimes – like now – it was a real pain in the ass.

“So, if you’re not sorry for that,” Grant said slowly, “What are you sorry about?”

Brendan closed his eyes. Grant did have a way of cutting to the heart of the matter.

“I’m sorry that I used you to get to Larkin. And I’m sorry that you got shot because of it. Because that was my fault – you shouldn’t have been there.” Brendan took a deep breath. Better out than in, like his Mom always said. “And I’m real sorry that I beat up and arrested your friend. But it was my job. My duty. I’m Special Agent Brendan Dean with the National Security Agency. There. That’s what I’m sorry about.”

There was a small silence, that felt like it went on forever, and then Brendan felt a broad, warm hand creep between his own, where they lay on his lap, and he opened his eyes, startled and unsure. Grant was smiling, a bit uncertainly, and his head was on one side.

“Are you on duty right now? The NSA have agents that visit people in hospital, and bring them books, and read to them, and stuff? That’s nice. I like that.”

Brendan wanted to groan, but he really needed Grant to understand this, “No. Agents don’t do that, Grant. We arrest bad guys. Terrorists. People like that.”

“So do agents kiss suspects then? Do they do that to help them get the bad guys?” Grant still seemed bright, and interested, and it was breaking Brendan’s heart. Dammit, he shouldn’t even have a heart to break.

“No, Grant,” he whispered, “Agents don’t kiss suspects. It should never have happened. I’m sorry as hell about that too.”

“So you weren’t being an agent when you kissed me in the park. And you weren’t being an agent when you brought me ‘The Hobbit’ and Donkey Kong, or when you pulled all the blue jelly beans out of the jar because I asked you to. Or now..?” said Grant, and lifted their joined hands to show him.

Brendan was confused. What the hell did Grant mean? “Well, technically I’m on leave, but I might get called any time to go back to New York. I’ll stay as long as I can though.”

“And you don’t want money, do you? Like Amber?”

“What? No! …Who’s Amber?”

But Grant had dropped his eyes and was stroking his thumb delicately along Brendan’s palm. Brendan tried to not to feel ridiculous about the sudden stab of jealousy that spiked his gut – he would bet anything that Amber was that queen bitch he’d seen in the park. Who’d been trying to brush Grant off. Who apparently had been brushing Grant off, even after he’d paid her – and how wrong was that? On so many levels. Brendan realised he’d curled his hands into fists, and was clutching Grant’s hand tightly. He deserved so much more. He deserved…

“Well, then I don’t think it matters,” said Grant, like everything was sorted, and Brendan realised he’d lost the thread of their conversation entirely. Which also happened a lot with Grant, and made Brendan wild with frustration on one hand, and crazy with the urge to protect him on the other.

“What?” he tried again, trying not to gape like a fish.

Grant smiled beatifically, and said, “I didn’t kiss an agent, I kissed a pooka – and you aren’t visiting a suspect, you’re visiting me. And Jack’s not afraid any more, and Donald flew back from London, and I wasn’t packed away in boxes. So I don’t care. I like you.”

And Brendan wondered if it really was as easy as all that. He felt as winded as if he’d been punched in the gut. And then he watched as Grant looked away, that bright gaze looking blindly towards the window, and he saw that Grant’s shoulders were rounding again, and he was shrinking down into himself, and his chin was sinking towards his chest.

“But maybe you don’t like me. Because some people don’t. Sorry. It’s ok, though, I know. Everybody leaves. Except for squirrels…”

And Brendan had a startling thought. Here he was, spending his hard-earned vacation time visiting this guy. Who was insane, and cute, and seemed to be into him. Who drove him nuts, and wasn’t involved in his case any more. Who Brendan wanted to pin to the bed and kiss breathless. Who hadn’t cared that Brendan had arrested his best friend, or got him shot. Who thought Brendan didn’t like him – and that’s what he was really upset about.

Why the hell was he calling Grant insane?

It made Brendan laugh a little, at himself. Grant looked round then, his blue eyes seeming larger than ever, hurt radiating from every hunched line of him. But it was easy, Brendan thought. It really was. Perhaps, sometimes, everybody needed a bit of Grant’s logic in their lives.

He leaned forward, slowly and deliberately, and just caught the sharp intake of breath brushing his mouth, before his lips met Grant’s. It was all he needed to hear, and a deep delicious shiver ran down his back as Grant just took everything he offered, opening up a soft sweet mouth, and sucking him down, before melting back into the bed. Brendan delved a bit deeper, chasing for an elusive something, his uncertainty flying away in the reality of it all, in the feel of Grant’s beard tickling and sliding along his chin. He was conscious of Grant’s hand, large and warm and skittish, tensing in his own, and the other reaching up and tangling in his hair. Goosebumps chased themselves over his skin as Brendan gasped into Grant’s mouth. He meant it to take it slow, he really did, but Grant never seemed to take anything slow. He yanked, and before Brendan knew what was happening, he was lying halfway across the bed being enthusiastically explored. If he wasn’t so fucking turned on, Brendan would have laughed again.

He’d been right. Easy.

He pulled back a little, holding himself up on his elbows, and grinned down at Grant, just to see him smile back, obviously and delightfully happy once again.

“I like you too,” said Brendan, thinking of an old training maxim he’d heard once. Keep it simple, stupid. He could do that. Right. Right.

He leaned in to do it again.





Epilogue and More Notes

I wrote a little epilogue to Keep It Simple which involved Freya slapping some sense into Brendan when he has a wibble about the whole thing, but I’m not sure it worked emotionally, for this point in the fic. So I’ve left it off for now. I may post it separately though, in a day or two, since I’ve gone and written it an’ all :)
About this Entry
Grant/Donald/Jack - Heart
valderys:
[User Picture Icon]
From:grey853
Date:October 4th, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Very nicely done. I think you've really captured the "voice" of Grant. He'd be really difficult to write, what with the almost stream of consciousness he seems to swim in. *g* Good job. I enjoyed it.
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 4th, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I actually really enjoy writing the Grant bits - it's very freeing, writing stream of consciousness! But it's really hard to advance any sort of plot with Grant, 'cos he keeps going off on tangents :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:melagan
Date:October 4th, 2006 02:18 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I liked this very much. Syrup will have a whole new connotation now /g/
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 4th, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Hell, I wrote that scene and only *then* checked to see if golden syrup would be anything Canadians or Americans would recognise :) Thank god, it does at least seem to have been heard of - oh the perils of writing cross-culture!
[User Picture Icon]
From:ozsaur
Date:October 4th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I can see how Grant would think that Brendan was a pooka. LOL

Enjoyed the story and loved how you wrote all the characters. I love how Freya likes to tease Brendan. And Grant's realization that he wants more than what Amber can give him, was very well done. I look forward to the epilogue.
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 4th, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
My last fic with Grant somewhat informed this one, I think that's where the pooka stuff came from, and Amber? I hated Amber, in Traders. Although I know that's part of the point :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:maverick4oz
Date:October 4th, 2006 03:37 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I really adored this. I particularly enjoyed Freya's look inside Grant's mind. And I'm *qll* for happier endings for the woobie to end all woobies, Grant. Thanks so much.
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 4th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Oh, isn't he though? I get so knotted up inside watching Grant be traumatised by whatever the latest twist is - I think that's why I'm writing these fics, basically... :) *Love* your icon, by the way!
[User Picture Icon]
From:mangst
Date:October 4th, 2006 03:37 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Very nice! There is not enough Grant fiction in the world and I'm glad you added yours.
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 4th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Thank you! Grant is so adorable, and so easy to write - there should be more! Yes. *nods firmly*
[User Picture Icon]
From:tikiaceae
Date:October 4th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Wow. You should definitely write more Grant fic! I love his voice here and their relationship. Just brilliant! So adorable and just...
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 5th, 2006 10:49 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Yay! And if you'd never pointed me at gardner_ross... :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:ratcreature
Date:October 4th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
This was very cool. Great x-over.
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 5th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Thank you! I'd wanted to write a Brendan/Grant fic for a while, so the Hewligan Fest gave me a great excuse!
[User Picture Icon]
From:tipsywitch
Date:October 4th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Thank you for wonderful Grant fic!!!!

...and Brendan fic too ( musn't forget him...)
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 5th, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Hee. That's a bit how I feel... Joe is lovely and John/Brendan/whoever are also lovely, but I do like my Hewlett characters. I'm halfway through another of the prompts actually - Cube/First Monday. We'll see how David/Julian works out...
[User Picture Icon]
From:green_grrl
Date:October 4th, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
EEEeeee! I love Brendan and I love Grant and I so don't want Jack to end up dead! I am a happy, happy girl, now. Thanks, this was wonderful!
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 5th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I know! I know! I keep re-writing that bit of plot, and then re-writing it again another way. It was so saaad... *wails*
[User Picture Icon]
From:green_grrl
Date:October 6th, 2006 12:50 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I live by soap opera rules -- if we didn't see the body, he's not dead. :-)
[User Picture Icon]
From:torakowalski
Date:October 4th, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Aww, this is so good and so gorgeous. I love your Grant voice.
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 5th, 2006 10:55 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Cheers, m'dear! *hearts*
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:October 5th, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
'Cos let's face it - that's what people do to Grant :( He thinks they're his friends and then they end up using him, or leaving him, or dying. Wah. Which is why we write fic :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:tarlanx
Date:October 14th, 2006 02:12 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Oh, that was so sweet and lovely...and you saved Jack too!
[User Picture Icon]
From:valderys
Date:December 6th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Ooh, I'm sorry - bad me - I thought I'd said thank you to everyone, but I obviously missed this comment! Thank you very much! And of course I saved Jack - I *hated* it when they killed him. Wah.
[User Picture Icon]
From:velocitygrass
Date:February 24th, 2007 10:46 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
That was really lovely.

“You were all he could think about.”
Freya teasing Brendan was sweet.

And Grant's thoughts about Brendan, syrup and elf and making him realize he wants something real.

And the end with Brendan feeling so guilty and Grant's logic being so simple.

Thank you!
[User Picture Icon]
From:meneathiel
Date:June 21st, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)

Very Good.

(Permanent Link)
I have a lot of trouble with Traders because Grant is so used and so very vulerable, did I mentioned used?. I like what you did here though.
Excellent Grant thoughts, reactions etc. {{hugs Grant}} and I like the relationship you have made between Freya and Brendan as well. All around good feel for the characters. Hope you do make some more stories with these characters (hey I can dream there isn't much of this pairing to be found).

Thanks for sharing this.
[User Picture Icon]
From:beth_green
Date:May 30th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I've been revisiting the SGA fandom and randomly clicking on stories rec'd by others, which is why I'm commenting on a story you posted more than a bit ago. It's never too late to comment on a fic, so here you have it: two thumbs up, courtesy of Grant. I love John/Rodney or any variations thereof, and hurt/comfort, as long as I get a happy ending eventually. Thanks for delivering on my fic requirements with this enjoyable read.

Although I've written Rodney fic, I would never attempt to try to get into the twisty mind of Grant. You did so, and quite well, I may say. From what I've seen of Traders, your Grant matches my perception of the character and his wounded soul. Although I've never seen Thought Crimes, between what I've read and what you provided in your story, I had no problems understanding any of this fine story.

BTW, if you're ever in the mood, PopcornOracle kindly posted the Grant bits from Traders on YouTube. Her page is at http://www.youtube.com/user/PopcornOracle#p/u
You'll want to start with the oldest entries, to get past all of the Blakes 7 uploads (or visit a bit with Blakes 7, if you like.)