(Author's note after this chapter…I'm back from the 'disappearing writers club!')
To Catch a Thief
Chapter Seven: The Psycho and the Psychic
"You knew Ross?" Monica stood up, her face paling. "What…how…?"
"Believe it or not, I used to have a life you know." Chandler replied dryly.
"I-I've never heard Ross mention your name…not ever." Monica stammered, "He never brought you home Thanksgiving and other holidays."
"I don't know why Ross never mentioned my name but I haven't liked Thanksgiving since I was a kid…but that's a whole other story that I'm not getting into. As for Christmas and summer, I was forced to help my father in his Las Vegas shows to earn money."
"Las Vegas shows?" Monica arched an eyebrow.
"You really don't want to know that one." Chandler cleared his throat uncomfortably and fell silent.
"What happened after college? How come I never met you?" Monica asked softly.
Chandler stared at her. He wondered what it could have been like if he had met Monica before. His life would definitely had been different, that's for sure. "We lost touch. No reason really."
"I don't believe that." Monica said bluntly. "Ross would never have just stopped seeing you. You were probably the only friend he had as a teenager." She chuckled, a reminiscent look on her face.
Chandler opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted by the door opening. Robert walked in, smirking.
"Will you two keep it down?" He sneered, "We've got a game of poker going on upstairs."
"Well excuse me if I don't give a damn." Chandler snapped.
Robert walked up to Chandler, bent down and gripped his collar. "I really would keep it down," he hissed, "before I decide to take your little friend away." He released Chandler and eyed Monica up and down.
Monica curled her lip and straightened her dress awkwardly.
Robert laughed and looked back down at Chandler. "We've told Doug we have you and the agent. I think you should start saying your prayers."
He left the room, locking the door behind him.
"Ugh, I can't wait to nail him." Monica muttered darkly.
Chandler arched an eyebrow. "Too bad you didn't have a gun."
"How exactly was I supposed to hide a gun while wearing an evening gown?" Monica demanded, twirling round once.
"You coulda strapped it around the inside of one of your thighs." Chandler suggested airily.
Monica blinked and looked down at him. "Yeah…I-I suppose I could have," she admitted, shocked. "How did you think of that?"
Chandler shrugged silently.
Monica sighed. "You're really hard to read, you know that?"
"You've only known me two hours." Chandler pointed out, indicating his watch. "There's a whole lot of stuff about me you couldn't even begin to guess."
Monica frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Hey, you're the FBI agent, which mean I'm not saying another word. I've told you too much already."
"Does that mean that you haven't told me everything?" Monica demanded, sitting back down beside him.
"It means it's not the time and place to tell you everything that happened with Doug," Chandler said, rolling his eyes. "And I don't plan to tell you…at least not until we get out of here, which probably won't be for a while."
"My god, it's got really late Phoebs," Joey muttered, "the sun is gonna rise soon."
Joey and Phoebe had arrived at their destination – a small town with many little boutiques and houses.
"I know but we can't give up now Joe." Phoebe hissed. "Just stay quiet. We don't want to wake anybody up."
"Since when did you decide who's in charge?" Joey grumbled.
Phoebe rolled her eyes and glanced at her watch.
"Where are you?" She whispered. "You can't be far."
Joey glanced at her. "How do we really know Chandler's here?" he asked. "They could be in an entirely different state by now!"
Phoebe turned to face him. "I know he's here Joey. I can sense it."
"Oh no…it's one of those psychic things?" He groaned.
Phoebe nodded slowly. "Yeah." She replied seriously.
Joey stared at her silently for a few minutes before rolling his eyes. "Ok, whatever. I'm all out of ideas anyway so you lead the way."
"I was planning to." Phoebe muttered, glancing at her watch again.
"Why do you keep checking the time?" Joey demanded. "All we need to know is that we're up at a stupid hour in a place we've never been before."
"Shh," Phoebe hissed, interrupting Joey's flow. "Did you hear something?"
Joey looked around fearfully. "No, why? Did you? Oh god, what if it's those guys?"
Phoebe shook her head. "No, it's not them."
"Then what did you hear?"
"Me." A deep voice said in his ear, making him jump in fright and turn around. Things did not improve when Joey realised he was now staring at an automatic gun pointed right at his face.
The door to the basement opened once again and this time it was Tommy who walked in.
"Right, we've figured out what to do with you two." The man said, glaring at Monica.
Monica glared back. "Just you wait until my boys find us."
Tommy laughed. "How? They don't know where you are."
Chandler gave him a strange smile, which Monica couldn't figure out. "Things have been going wrong for you all night, I bet there is someone out there who knows exactly where we are. If that's the case, you're for it."
Monica wished that was true. She just hoped Chandler would stop provoking the gang. Someone was going to get hurt, and she didn't think it would be Kyle, Robert, Tommy or Dave who would come worst off.
"Chandler, please shut up." She hissed.
Tommy nodded at Monica. "Your FBI friend has got the right ideas. I really would shut your mouth." He signalled to somebody up the steps. Kyle appeared at the door with two sets of ropes.
"We're going to tie your hands together." Tommy continued, "for some reason, we don't trust either of you."
Chandler laughed. "What's the point in us fighting you? We've got no weapons, no back-up and nowhere to run. We're not that stupid."
Monica glanced at Chandler. She had to admit in spite of the mess he was in, Chandler was a good talker. If he persuaded the guys not to tie them up, maybe she could think of a way to get them both out of here.
Tommy glanced at Kyle, who shrugged. "It's your funeral. I know what I would do." He looked at Chandler darkly.
"Ok, we won't tie you up." Tommy decided. "I really can't be doing with that crap."
"I still say we should." Robert shouted from upstairs.
"If you don't tie us up…I will do as I'm told." Monica promised. She smiled brightly at Robert as he descended the stairs. "I mean that."
She noticed Chandler glancing at her suspiciously, but she ignored him. She had to distract at least one of the guys.
Robert walked across to Monica and stared at her. "Really?" He asked, looking at her up and down.
Monica cleared her throat nervously. "Yes." She answered, looking into his cool eyes.
"Mon, what are you doing?" Chandler asked. "This isn't worth it."
Monica shook her head at Chandler. "You go on ahead with Tommy." She looked at Tommy. "I promise he won't run."
Tommy sighed. "I don't like this." He glanced at Robert, who was now gripping Monica's arm.
"It's ok, Chandler won't run why his woman is with me." Robert smiled at Monica seductively.
"Monica, I'm not leaving you with this-this…pathetic excuse of a human being." Chandler said angrily. "You don't have to do this."
Monica stared at him silently, hoping to send him a message with her eyes that he would know what to do when the time comes to take action.
"I'll see you in a while." She told him. I promise.
"Put the gun down." Phoebe told the stranger.
The man, who was tall with blonde hair, glanced at Phoebe. "How do I know he isn't going to kill me if I let my guard down?"
"Because it's Joey. He wouldn't hurt a fly."
"Is he straight?"
"Yes." Phoebe met the man's eyes, reassuring him. He lowered his gun.
Joey looked between the two of them in complete bewilderment. "What the hell is going on here?" he demanded. "Phoebs, you know this psycho?"
Phoebe laughed. "Yes I know him, and no, he's not a psycho."
"I don't think the same goes for you." The man shot at Phoebe with a grin, re-holstering his weapon inside his jacket.
"That's the thanks I get for saving your life twice in the last three years?" Phoebe asked, lifting her eyebrows.
The man shrugged.
"Um…what?" Joey stared at Phoebe.
"Joey, I would like to introduce Kip Younger to you. I believe you two have already met?"
Joey stared at Kip closely. He widened his eyes.
"Oh my god…you're the museum curator Chandler and I met the other day!"
"Um, yeah." Kip replied with a grin. "Except that I'm no more a museum curator than you are a lord."
"Kip works for the CIA." Phoebe filled in. She glanced at Kip's concerned face. "It's ok, you really can trust him."
"The CIA?!" Joey gasped. "And you know him Phoebe?"
"That would be because I'm a CIA agent too." Phoebe confessed quietly, "and boy did you ever get us into one big mess."
Monica and Robert were now alone together in the basement. Robert stroked Monica's arms up and down.
"This is the deal? You're mine in exchange for not wearing some stupid ropes?" Robert asked Monica incredulously. "Boy, you must really love that Chandler."
Monica closed her eyes briefly before opening them again. She had known Chandler for less than three hours, he was a criminal, but god yes, she had fallen in love with him. She was damned if she was going to let those creeps hurt him or Joey.
"What are you waiting for?" She demanded. "Kiss me."
Robert blinked in surprise. "Hey, hey. I'm calling the shots here."
Monica grabbed the back of Robert's neck and pulled him to her. She pressed her lips against his, trying not to grimace. He smelled of stale cigarettes and beer.
He pushed her against the wall, and Monica felt his powerful body pinned against her. She closed her eyes as he kissed her neck. "You know, um, you're not going to get much satisfaction if you don't even let me breathe."
Robert paused and grinned. "Fine. You run the show."
He stepped back and Monica sat down on the floor. She tapped the stone. "Join me."
Robert eagerly sat down next to her and pulled her to him once more. Monica let him lie on top of her and he started to lift her dress. He stopped at her stomach and he ran his hands down her front. Monica cringed inwardly.
"Is that all you can do?" She demanded, touching his belt buckle.
"What?" Robert growled. "Right that's it. Take off my pants."
Monica shrugged. "Fine."
She pulled off his belt with a flourish, which had an automatic gun attached to it in a holster. Robert was so caught up in what Monica was doing that he had not noticed he was no longer armed. She unzipped his pants and pulled them off him.
"Wow that was fast." He mumbled.
"Kiss my body." She instructed.
"K." As Robert kissed Monica's body, she reached round his back as if to pull off his shirt but instead reached for the gun.
"Get your filthy lips off me buster." She hissed as she pointed it into the side of his head. Robert froze and leapt off, laying down flat on the floor. Monica quickly pulled her dress back down and stood up. She pointed the gun down at him.
Robert grinned bitterly at her. "I might have known."
"Did you really think I wanted you to do all that?" she snapped. "Men are so easy when they're aroused. Now, here is what you're going to do. You're going to unlock that door and let me out. Then you're going to stay in here like the good man you are and keep quiet, do you hear me?"
Robert scowled. "It's one against all of the gang. You won't overpower them."
"Maybe not. But I'm going to try. Now get moving."
"Get moving Chandler." Kyle snapped, pushing him along the darkened street.
"Where are we going?" Chandler asked.
"You'll know when you get there."
Chandler rolled his eyes. "Stating the obvious a bit." He winced a little and bent down to rub the back of his right knee. "ow."
Dave glanced down at Chandler. "What's the matter?" he growled.
"I've been sitting still in a van and then a cold basement for the last three hours. I'm a little stiff." Chandler muttered, pulling up his pant leg. "Please…can you just let me stretch? I won't be any good to you if I can't walk."
"Fine, fine." Dave grumbled. "Hurry up."
"Oh I'll definitely do that." Using one hand, Chandler ripped off the gun that was attached to his inner thigh and then wrapped his other arm around Dave's neck. He pointed his gun into Dave's side. "Oh I'm so sorry. This wasn't part of your plan?" He said to a shocked Kyle and Tommy.
"Is your tracker working ok?" Kip asked Phoebe, pointing to her watch. "It took you a while to find me. I've been here for at least an hour."
"I think the cold has got to it. So your watch says Chandler is here someplace too?"
"Hold it guys, I deserve answers!" Joey shouted. "What do you mean; I got you into a mess?"
"You were never supposed to meet Doug." Phoebe shot at him. "Chandler was right. You should never have got a job at the same company as him."
"Keep your voices down." Kip hissed. "Chandler's chip is telling me he's right near us."
"Chandler has been investigating Doug, your uncle Brian and the rest of the gang for years." Phoebe whispered to Joey, while also glancing around.
"Shh! Yes, it's true. Chandler works for the CIA. In the Frauds Department. Someone had been stealing original works of paintings, and selling them on in different countries. Brian's gang is good. They produced counterfeit copies of previous buyers and the authenticity certificate to the poor saps who bought them, just in case they were accused of stealing. These guys are the best fraudsters the CIA has known for years, but Chandler is the best document examiner in the business. He's caught many kidnappers based on how they dot their 'i's' on ransom notes, believe it or not. If he wasn't so honest, Chandler would probably make millions on fake bank cheques without getting caught."
"I don't believe this."
"You should start believing it right now. You were never supposed to be involved in this. Chandler's plan was to arrest Doug. When he found out Brian was your Uncle he almost had a stroke." Phoebe grimaced. "He had to get you out of the gang the only way he knew how – by pretending to be Doug's friend and then stealing one of the Picasso's." She glanced at Kip. "That's still hidden safe in our van."
"Oh by the way, all those paintings you and Chandler have been 'stealing' for the last few months? All fake." Kip cut in, grinning.
"What?" Joey asked faintly. "All of them?"
"All the robberies were set up by Chandler. He needed to coax Doug's gang out of hiding. Every museum curator that you have been talking to is a friend of the CIA."
"What about the FBI and the media? They're all after our backs!"
"Yeah…um…sorry about that. This investigation by Chandler's department is classified. We're not supposed to be telling you any of this. All that 'Black Panthers' stuff was started to rile up Doug's gang, get them out of hiding and find Chandler so that he could get them. Unfortunately, the dumb FBI decided to poke their noses in, didn't consult us and started sending out agents to find you. They think the CIA are after the Black Panthers, not realising we made that name up. The FBI has been chasing the wrong 'criminals' for months. Which kinda complicated things, but hey, nothing in this business runs smoothly." Kip grinned and shrugged
Joey looked at him angrily. "This isn't a joke. You guys ruined my life! I'm on America's Most Wanted."
Phoebe chuckled. "Don't worry. You're still unidentified – that security man that almost busted you in NYC? He's also CIA. Chandler didn't really drug him with laxatives, though that would have been funny. He was there to make the robbery look plausible."
"Jesus." Joey breathed. "I feel sick. I thought I was going to get shot at that night."
"No, you've always been safe. Although, in this last museum in Vermont, we didn't tell them anything," Kip explained. "I was genuinely undercover yesterday, keeping an eye out for Doug as well as getting you an 'in' on the opening night gala." He chuckled. "I tell you, I had trouble keeping a straight face at your 'disguises'."
"So what were Chandler and I doing at the gala last night?" Joey asked.
"Just before I met you guys, I had a visit from a couple of 'fundraisers' called Robert and Tommy. I saw through them straight away. I gave them invites to the party, tipped off Phoebe and then she tipped off Chandler. It all went wrong though. Some other guys were at the party, you were outnumbered and you know the rest."
"You really played me for a fool." Joey muttered, looking away.
Phoebe stared. "Don't take it that way Joey." She said quietly. "I couldn't tell you."
Joey stared at her sadly. "Phoebe…I love you. I wouldn't hide anything from you. I can't believe you put me through this."
"Joey, if Chandler and I had left you behind in New York, Doug would have visited your apartment and killed you. We were protecting you!"
"You could have told me about it!" Joey shouted, shaking his head. "This isn't Phoebe. I can't even look at you right now."
"Guys, save the domestics for later. We've got a situation." Kip said suddenly, pointing down the street.
End of Chapter Seven
:So it's been nearly two years according to this website. What can I say? Time flies when you're enjoying yourself away from the computer. I suppose I got fed up with writing. It happens. I knew where I wanted to go with my stories, but I the truth is I was too lazy to finish them. However, I'm back to finish this story and I actually think it's the inspiration from J.K Rowling finishing her Harry Potter series that clinched it. I was thinking to myself last week and I realised how could I leave my readers on tenterhooks? I wanted to show my readers the twist, and it's something I should have had wrapped up over one and a half years ago!!! And guess what, it's not over yet!! But you knew that anyway.