Richie jolted awake from his uneasy sleep. He was tempted to try to stretch, but the cage was too confining for it to do any good.

"Why are you doing this?" Richie asked, trying to keep his voice steady.

"Nothing to do with you," Ian assured him. "You are just going to be a little extra collateral. Now I want you to shut up. And you." He fit a key into the lock on Bridgett's cage. "You are going to do a little work around here." He grabbed her by her arm and roughly pulled her out.

"Hey!" Richie barked, his body automatically reacting and trying to spring into action. All he did was hit his head and nearly tip over his little prison. "Leave her alone!"

"Or what?" Ian laughed.

Richie forced himself to calm down. Bridgett was panicking. One of them needed to be level headed. "Look, I'll do whatever you want. Totally silent, no questions asked. Just leave her alone."

"You'll do whatever I ask?" Ian asked, looking at Bridgett who was shaking from head to toe.

"Anything," he agreed. "You just gotta leave her alone."

"Something tells me you can't do what I want her to do."

"I'm a fast learner."

"You know what I want?" Ian leaned toward the cage so only the wire was keeping their noses from touching. "I want you. to SHUT THE HELL UP!" He slammed his hand into the wire grid making Richie jump and nearly fall over backwards. "Heh, heh, heh, good lad."

"Can I just talk to her for a minute alone?" Richie half pleaded.

Ian looked from the trembling girl at his side to the caged American. "You have two minutes."

"Bridgett, come here," Richie said as soon as Ian left the room. "Listen to me. Just go along with them, unless they want sex." Bridgett flinched at the word. "Then you tell them no. If they're desperate, they can come to me. But they have to leave you alone. They won't hurt you, don't worry."

"How do ye kneu?" Her accent was thick.

"Because if they wanted to hurt someone, they would have done it by now. This reeks of ransom. They don't get any money if you're hurt. And don't worry about me; I'm stronger than I look."

"But what if they kill you?"

"They won't." Richie wasn't so sure, but needed her to play it cool.

"How do you know?"

"This has happened to me before," Richie told her. "Mac's a rich guy, people want money. Besides whatever these guys want to dish out. trust me, I've had worse. So don't worry about me. You just look out for number one."

"Time's up!" Ian announced coming back in. "Plan your escape?" he asked shaking Richie's kennel. "Unless you can shrink, I do believe you're stuck."

"One more minute," Richie said.

"Sorry. It's breakfast time and we men are hungry." Ian took Bridgett roughly by the arm and dragged her out of the room.

Richie took his hours alone to come up with a plan of escape. It wasn't going to be easy, but unlike his other kidnapping experiences, Mac wasn't going to rush in to save him anytime soon.

. . . . . .

"Now, how can I help you?" the woman behind the desk asked.

Duncan had been going round with incompetent bureaucrats all day and his patience was completely gone. "You are the ninth person I've stood in line to talk to!" he exploded. "What the hell kind of embassy is this? There is an eighteen year old American boy missing!"

"How long has he been missing?"

"Nearly twenty hours now! Since nine last night."

"Where from?"

"Our hotel in Charles Valley."

"Do you know what happened?"

"If I knew what happened to him, would I be here?" Duncan snapped.

"Mr. MacLeod, all I'm trying to do is see if we can't come up with what happened to." She scanned the papers in front of her. "Richard Ryan."

"He snuck out and disappeared, that's what happened! Now go out and look for him!"

"Mr. MacLeod."

"Yes, I have a cell phone; yes, he knows the number; yes, it works here; yes, he knows how to use a pay phone and phone book," he interrupted answering the questions he had been asked repeatedly all day. "He has no mental problems, is very level headed, can navigate himself through any city in the world without a map, and there is no reason for him to have not contacted me under normal conditions so obviously something is wrong."

"I was going to ask if you have filed a formal report," the woman asked unfazed by the outburst.

"Why didn't someone tell me that in the first place!? I've been going round with you people for hours! Just give me the papers and I'll fill them out!"

"I'm afraid I can't do that. You need to go to office 129 and request.." She didn't to finish her sentence before Duncan was out the door.

. . . . . .

Three days had passed and everything had settled into a routine at the cabin. Every morning Ian would come in yelling and take Bridgett who would cook and clean, and then when they were ready for bed they would just lock her in the room. It was Richie who was stuck in the k-9 prison. By the third evening Bridgett had gotten over her initial fear and would talk to Richie as they figured out how to get the food she brought through the little squares to Richie.

"Hey, they got an office or something out there?" Richie asked after taking the chicken Bridgett was tearing into small pieces for him.


"They let you in there?"


"Is there a guard on you?"


"Perfect. I need you to get me something."

"No. Richie, you'll make them angry. It's just for a few more days."

"Well, we can make it shorter. If you get me a safety pin, straight pin, paper clip would be best really. I can get us out of here."


"All I need to do is pick this lock, and then we can sneak out and make a break for it."

"Richie, we'll get caught."

"Not if you keep quiet and do as I say. We can get out; I know we can."


"Bridgett. Please. At least help me get out of here." He rattled the cage a bit. "Come on, please?"

"I don't know."

"Please, Bridgett. I feel like any day now they're going to cut me into veal parmesan. I can't move."

"It will be over soon."

"Bridgett, please. I gotta get outta here."

"Richie. Richie, I can't. I'm scared. What if they catch us?"

"They won't. Look, if you don't want to run. just see what you can do about getting me out of this damn cage! I feel like I'm about to be shipped off to some alien zoo."

"I can't."



. . . . . .

A week had passed and no word from the embassy except that they had local authorities in on the case. Duncan was going nuts and Tessa had flown in to keep him company.

"He must be so scared," Tessa said, snuggling into Duncan's shoulder as they waited by the phone. "All alone in a foreign country."

"I almost wish an immortal had him," Duncan admitted. "Then at least I could do something other than wait."

"He'll be okay."

"Yeah, I'm sure he's fine," he agreed. "He can't get in any more trouble than he already is now. There's no where to go but up."

. . . . . .

Two more days had passed and Richie was still in his little prison. It was the middle of another lonely afternoon for him when suddenly Ian burst into the room with Bridgett in tow.

"Hey, what are you doing?" Richie demanded.

"Get in there," Ian growled opening the cage he had put Bridgett in the night they had arrived. "If I hear a sound from either one of you, neither of you is ever leaving here, understand?" He left the room.

"What happened?" Richie mouthed.

"Someone knocked on the door," Bridgett mouthed back.


She shrugged. Richie strained his ears for what was happening in the next room. Then he hear the magic words. 'We're from the Charles Valley Police.' The next thing he knew he heard himself screaming for help.

. . . . . .

It had been a routine visit to warn residents of burglaries in the area. The two officers were about to ask about two missing teenagers when they heard yelling coming from a back room. Despite the three men insisting it was just the TV, one officer went to check.

"Hey, there are kids back here!" he called to his partner. "It's Bridgett MacDaniels and that American kid everyone's looking for!"

He broke the locks on the kennels while his partner put the men under arrest. They called for back up and as soon as they had been looked over by medics, Bridgett was sent home and Richie was taken to the embassy. He was in a small bedroom, laying down, stretching his legs and back when Duncan and Tessa arrived.

"Richie!" Tessa rushed into the room. "Are you okay?"

"A little sore and stiff," he admitted propping himself up on his elbows. "And I'm starving."

"Oh, petit, are you hurt?"

"Nope, just hungry."

"We'll get you fed as soon as we can get you out of here," Duncan promised. "And Rich."

"I know, I know, I'm grounded."

"And let this be a lesson to you to take your punishments as they stand. If you had just listened to me, none of this would have happened."

"I know."

"So this time, will you stay put?"

"You bet."

"And Rich?"

"Yeah?" he asked reluctantly.

"I'm glad you're okay. You really had us worried."

"I'm sorry."

"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to accept rides from strangers?"

"Well, yeah. but he had candy," Richie said with a grin. "I'm powerless when it comes to Snickers. And what really blows is I never did get it."

"Well, if you make it through this grounding without incident, I'll get you five."


"Sure, why not?"

"You heard him, Tess. Five Snickers at the end of the week."

"Who said anything about a week?"


"Duncan, he just spent over a week kidnapped. Don't be so hard on him."

"What? I was going to say the rest of the trip," Duncan said innocently.

"Sure you were, Mac." Richie rolled his eyes. "Sure you were."