Disclaimer: I don't own Adventure Inc. or any of its characters. I'm not making any money from this either, so please don't sue me. Besides all you'll get is my credit debt, which you can more than have!
Notes: I started this one a while ago and thought that I'd post it now, even though I'm not currently working on it. I will be working on this one again soon, I hope. Feel free to yell at me about working on too many stories at one time, but be forewarned that I tend to yell back.
I mustn't forget to say thanks again to Aimless for her help with a couple of scenes in this story.
"Think that she's had enough of us today?" Gabriel Patterson asked as he and Judson followed behind their beautiful business associate and friend.
"It's possible that she's just tired of you," Judson said, laughing inwardly at how much energy his young friend had. Gabe's voice was the only bright spot; only half of the street lamps were on and those gave off a dull glow barely lighting the street.
"No way!" The smile gracing his lips was full and showing all his pearly teeth.
"I'm tired of you both actually," she said, not turning to face either of them. Smiling to herself she said, "especially you, Gabe." Ribbing him every so often was just so much fun. She could tell that he hated it, but he went along with it and had even gotten very good at handing it back.
"Ouch!" Judson said with a laugh, watching Gabe's reaction to the hard comment.
"That hurts!" He exclaimed as he quickly covered his heart with both hands and doubled over with a pretend wound.
"And you guys wonder why I'm tired of ya," she half laughed, as Judson and Gabe's laughter caught her.
"Awe, come on, Mac, ya know you love us." Judson quickened his pace to catch her.
"And what gave you that idea." She looked at him with a twinkle of laughter in her blue eyes. "I thought that Gabe was right behind us?" She suddenly stopped.
"He was," Judson turned to look behind him. There was no one there. His heart began to race as his green eyes scanned the street for their young friend. Nothing. There had been no noise, no sound of a struggle, not even a sign of a struggle. There was just the empty street and the newly dampened pavement glistening in the dim street lamps. "Gabe?" He moved away from his spot next to Mac and back toward where he'd left Gabe. Where could he've gone? he thought as he moved about the street like a distraught father looking for his lost child.
"Judson," he heard Mac shout from further up the street. She was waving something at him. Quickly he moved toward her, hoping that she'd found something.
"Find something?" he closed the gap between them as he spoke. He could see that the object she'd been waving at him was an envelope.
"Saying it's a clue wouldn't be saying much," she handed him the thin white envelope, "it had your name on it."
Taking a deep breath, Judson tore open the envelope exposing a single slip of paper folded in half. Carefully he removed the paper from the envelope and unfolded it. Scanning it quickly he stopped breathing. He had to scan over the note a second time to make sure that he'd read it correctly the first time; he had. There was no way for him to say what was printed upon the piece of paper held firmly in his grasp.
"What's it say?" she reached for the note. "Oh my God," she murmured, nearly dropping the paper.
"We need to call the police."
"Why?" she stared hard at him. She hated the police. There were so few times in her past that the police were of any use. In her book, cops only complicated things and got in the way. "There's not a lot they can do, except get Gabe killed."
Still laughing and pretending to be hurt Gabe watched as Judson caught up to Mac. She had caught their bit of laughter; she really didn't laugh enough. She wore fake smiles and smirked a lot, but never a real laugh. It felt good to let go of the rigors of life, if even for only a moment. This was their only night out since they had begun their latest job. They'd been hired to find a cross that had been lost aboard a ship that had sunk a century ago.
"Keep quiet and everything'll be all right," a soft voice whispered in his ear before he felt the strong arm around his chest and the large hand clamped tightly over his mouth.
His every instinct told him to fight back, to do something to draw Mac and Judson's attention, but the grip of his attacker told him not to try. Cursing at himself, he allowed the person belonging to the voice and the hands to pull him back into the alley that was a mere five feet from the safe protection of his friends.
Pulling Gabe in closer the man pressed himself into the dark shadows of a near by doorframe. He could almost feel the fear of his captive vibrating through his body. Tightening his grip on Gabe's chest he heard a low moan come from his captive, quickly he repositioned his hand over Gabe's mouth.
Gabe's breathing became heavy and erratic when the concerned voices of Judson and Mac reached his ears. With a grunt he pulled against his abductor. Slightly panicked the man moved his beefy hand again on Gabe's face, covering most of his face. "Shhhhhh," he cooed softly in Gabe's ear in an attempt to calm his captive's breathing. It didn't work. Gabe's breathing just became louder and more uneasy. "It'll be all right," he reassured his captive, moving his hand again; this time covering Gabe's entire nose and mouth.
He could feel the panic that ripped through the young man he was holding tightly to his chest, as the young man realized his oxygen intake had been cut off. Gabe let what air he had left in his lungs through his nose as panic raced through him, leaving his captor's hand moist from the warm air. How was this all right, Gabe thought as darkness crept over him. He needed to stay awake; he couldn't let them take him.
The man swore under his breath as Gabe slumped against him. Removing his hand from Gabe's mouth he checked to see if his captive were still alive, hoping that he was.
"What else is there to do, Mac?" Judson looked at her a mask of fear and anger covering his normally handsome features. "We're trained to know what's going on around us all the time. How could someone just take him from under our noses?"
"Judson," her voice was softer than anytime he'd ever heard it. "We'll get him back."
Good question, she thought folding the letter up and putting it back in its envelope. Knowing that they'd get Gabe back should've been enough for her to begin to formulate the how, that however was contingent of there being actual clues to who'd taken him. And the only clue they had at that moment was the letter. Help us out a little, Gabe. She stuffed the envelope in the pocket of her nearly painted low rise on jeans. "I don't know, yet," she breathed. God, she hated saying that.
Judson could tell that she hated the position they were in right then. No warning, no clues and little to no hope of finding Gabe before whoever took him wanted them to. The only thing he knew for sure was that the person who'd taken Gabe wanted the cross more than the man who'd hired him. The yet in her statement made him want to ask what she had in mind, but the how wasn't as important as getting Gabe back.
"We've got a phone call to make." She signaled for Judson to keep quiet and play along. She could feel that they hadn't been alone. The alley behind her was the perfect place to hide and watch their reaction to their missing friend. Wishing that she'd brought her gun, Mac moved with graceful ease toward the mouth of the practically pitch black alley. Her blue eyes swept across the alley looking for anyone that might be hiding in one of the many doorways. Nothing. It was empty. Investigating the alley required one of two things. One, being going back to the boat and getting a flashlight, or waiting until the morning.
'Right," he said. They'd been together long enough that he knew to trust her instincts. More often than not she was correct in the danger that she caught onto. If she thought someone was in that alley they either still were or they'd just left.
Carefully she slipped a small slender Maglight from the pocket of her jacket. Twisting it on she entered the alley. Sweeping it, all she saw was an empty alley. Walking slow and shining the small beam of light over every inch of the shadow laden doorways that lined the alley, she looked for anything that told Gabe had been there. Nothing.
"It's clear," she called out from the other end of the alley.
"Nothing." He knew it without even having to ask or wait for her confirmation. The kidnaper didn't want them to find Gabe before they were wanted to. But that shape would he be in? His thoughts began to wander as he made his way toward Mac.
With a sudden jolt of confused fear Gabe's mind awakened him from the abysmal darkness he'd been forced into. Slowly his mind replayed all of the scenes he remembered before he blacked out. They'd been at a pub not far from the harbor and the boat. Judson and him had taken Mac on at a game of darts; a game she'd beaten them at. After a second round of darts, and finishing off the first and only round of drinks they'd headed back to the boat. Mac'd been teasing him again and then . . . a hand, a thick sweaty hand had been secured over his mouth.
Taking a quick glance around he knew that he was nowhere near the alley he'd been forced into. Great, he thought as he looked around the small room, only I could get kidnapped and held hostage in a bathroom. Boy, Mac's really gonna tease me about this when she finds out. Slightly laughing at, but mostly cursing, his luck Gabe took a quick look at his feet to see if they were restrained in anyway. They weren't. But judging the way his shoulders ached he guessed that his hands were. He cursed more when he realized that the knife Mac had given him for protection a couple of weeks ago was absent from where he=d clipped it in the back of his pants.
Not knowing if his abductor were on the other side of the faux cherry oak door or not, Gabe quietly aligned himself within the confines of the small fiberglass bathtub until he had himself in position to attempt a maneuver Mac had taught him a little over a year ago. Carefully pulling his knees up to his chest and compressing as much of his spine as possible, he curled himself into a tight ball. Ignoring his already sore shoulders, Gabe stretched his arms down behind him until his tightly bound wrists were even with his hips. Slowly edging his body through the small space between his arms, Gabe could feel the bindings, that he'd quickly determined were plastic cuffs, bite into his tender skin, allowing blood to ooze down his hands. Refusing to permit his mind to dwell on it. Gabe gritted his teeth and kept going.
Almost there, he thought continuing to maneuver his body through his arms. Yes, his mind yelled in praise of his progress as he pulled his arms closer to his knees. Pop. The sound was sick and resounded hollowly through the small bathroom. Hot pain surged through his left arm, halting his movements. Clenching his jaw Gabe let out a slow breath. Amid the heightened blood flow to his left shoulder, he could feel that his shoulder had become disjointed. Gritting his teeth together he steeled himself for more of the searing pain as he finished working his legs through the tiny expanse that his arms provided. With a low a grunt he stretched his long legs in front of him, bringing his hands into his chest. Breathing hard against the throbbing pain in his shoulder Gabe tried to think of a way out.
No windows, he thought wryly. "Come on, Gabe, think." Slowly, he pulled his legs in close to his body. Hissing at the dulling pain in his shoulder, he placed his bloodied hands on the edge of the beige tub. Using his legs as leverage he began to push himself up. He'd only gotten one leg out of the tub when the soft sound of the knob being turned assaulted his ears. Bile threatened to burn its way up the back of his throat as panic began to fill him. With Mac and Judson near by it was easy to keep fear and panic at bay. He knew that they'd always do what they could to protect him from the bad guys, but with the safety net of his sometimes too protective friends gone it wasn't so easy to stay calm.
He froze as the door began to inch its way open. Shit! There was nowhere to go. No windows to disappear through, no time to search for a way to free his hands. With no other choice, Gabe hastily moved to get back into the tub. Maybe if he could get back in the tub and pretend that he was still unconscious then maybe he could surprise is captor and stand a chance of overpowering them. Suddenly his world spun wildly out of control, and he could feel his body being pulled toward the ground with more speed than he'd ever thought possible. Cursing that his hands were bound so tightly, Gabe allowed gravity to pull him toward the beige tiled floor next to the tub.
A dull thud rang through his skull when his head connected solidly with the wall. For a moment he seemed to fall faster, but only for a moment. Twisting his torso seconds before he finally came to rest against the floor slightly propped up against the wall. With a grunt Gabe closed his eyes and tried to push the new wave of pain away. His shoulder burned more than it had when he initially injured it. His breath coming in shallow waves, Gabe stared at the door waiting for whomever it was to slam the door open and kill him.
As though it were happening in slow motion, Gabe watched in dazed horror as the door was pushed open and a man wearing a suit topped off with a black ski mask came through. A sly smile was firmly cemented on his lips as he stared at Gabe and where he'd landed on the bathroom floor. Moving smoothly he sat on the edge of the tub, continuing to stare at Gabe.
"Trying to escape?" A sparkle jumped to his flint blue eyes when a look of shock shimmered across Gabe's face. "I picked this place because of its lack of windows?"
"What do you want from me?" Gabe asked softly, pain laced through his voice.
"From you personally?" He leaned forward on the tub, taking in every ragged breath Gabe took. A spark of thrill still danced in his flint eyes as Gabe shivered against the shock from his injured shoulder. "Nothing." He sat back, the suit falling back into place. "Judson Cross and Mackenzie Previn are another story . . ."
"What'd they do to you?"
"No, it's more like what they're going to do for me." He could feel the strength Gabe gave off like a homing beacon. He'd been right about the young man propped against the wall since the moment that he'd seen him and decided that he'd make a good hostage. He had known then that Gabe would feel weak without his friends there to protect him, but he was still strong enough to keep his wits about him.
"What's that?" He wanted to move, to sit up more and take some of the strain his neck was feeling off of it but he didn't dare. His shoulder still throbbed and his head was just beginning to ache from being slammed into the wall.
"The Cross of Augustine. They're going to find it and bring it me." He could see the questions Gabe was preparing to fire off and wanted to laugh at the young man. "I don't really care about the client. You see now, I am the client."
"Judson'd never . . ."
"Let's see, your life or a few thousand dollars, which one do you think that he'll chose? I believe that he'll pick you over the money." He could feel the heat of Gabe's anger coming in crashing waves. "My man said that they scoured the street looking you. And that Ms. Previn almost did find the two of you."
More nervous than he'd ever been in his life, Judson picked up his cell and dialed the number they'd been given in the note. He prayed that Gabe was still alive with ring of the phone. There was no way that he wanted to tell Senator Patterson that his son was dead because of some relic they were chasing after. But then again that was the chance they all took every time they went out.
"Judson Cross, I was wondering how long it would be before I'd hear from you," a smooth tongued man said.
"Where's Gabe?" He balled his other hand into a tight fist. "He still alive?"
"He's on the floor in front of me, and yes, he's very much alive. Though judging from the look of pain on his face, he's wishing that he weren't." He smiled at Gabe and his pain. Gabe's breathing had become harder as the pain in shoulder became worse. It felt as though his arm were going to fall off, though he knew that wouldn't happen. And his head was beginning to buzz with a headache from hitting the wall.
"What've you done to him?"
"Nothing. All of his juries were his fault. No one was near him when they occurred."
"Let me talk to him." He needed to hear from Gabe that he was all right, and that they hadn't hurt him. There was no way for him to trust or even believe what the kidnapper was saying to him. He was talking with a person who was able to sweep in, grab someone, and disappear without a trace. How could he trust that?
"Sorry," Gabe tried to filter the pain from his voice as he spoke. "I shoulda fought back."
"Gabe, how bad are you?"
"Dislocated shoulder, that's all," he lied. Judson and Mac didn't need to know about the slight concussion he'd given himself. If he'd just played along, he wouldn't be in pain right now, and he wouldn't have to hide it from his friends.
"Do you know where you are?"
"No. Hotel I think."
"That's quite enough," the man in the suit said, tearing the phone from Gabe's hands. "Can't have you giving out too much information."
"What's the point of all this?" Judson asked.
"I want the Cross of Augustine. I believe that you're looking for it. I want it for Mr. Patterson's life. It's not hard really." He hung up without waiting for Judson's angered response. "What to do with you?" He reached out and gruffly grabbed the plastic bindings on Gabe's wrist.
"Not that. . ." he stopped when a dial tone assaulted his ears. Hitting the off button on the phone, he slammed it down on the table in the common area of the Vast Explorer. What he really wanted to do was throw the tiny mechanical thing and hear that satisfying crunch of it breaking into a hundred or more pieces. But that wouldn't get Gabe out of danger, nor would it find the Cross of Augustine. They'd searched the entire wreck four times in two days and had come up with nothing. Jusdon'd run out of ideas on where to look when both Mac and Gabe suggested that they take a night off and have some fun. And they did have some fun. "Damn it." He let his fist clenched hand slam into the top of the table next the cell phone.
"Take it that they wouldn't just give him back, huh?" Mac said, coming down the stairs to the common area.
"They want the Cross of Augustine."
"We don't have it." She leaned against the wall.
Gabe listened to the man give Judson the demands for his release. He couldn't help but feel as though he'd somehow let everyone down. If he'd just fought back when that guy grabbed him then maybe he wouldn't be sitting on the floor of some hotel bathroom with a dislocated shoulder and a headache. They'd be filing police reports and planning their next dive. He could've fought back and done some damage to the man who'd grabbed him. Why hadn't he? He was more afraid now than he had been the night before when he was grabbed. "I want the Cross of Augustine. I believe that you're looking for it. I want it for Mr. Patterson's life. It's not hard really." The smile gracing the lips of his abductor made Gabe want to hide inside the wall. He had to find a way to escape and soon. There was no way that he could wait for Judson and Mac to find the cross. As long as it remained on the floor of the ocean, he would stay alive. But if they did find it, he was more than certain that he would be dead. Of course he figured that if they never found the cross he'd be just as dead as if they did. He had to find his own way out. "What to do with you?" He reached out and gruffly grabbed the plastic bindings on Gabe's wrist.
Gabe let out a loud yell as the man pulled him from the floor. A hand was quickly shoved over his mouth. "Keep your voice down or we'll have to fix your tongue." Blinking back another wave of pain, Gabe slowly nodded his head. "Let's go see what we can do for that shoulder of yours." He allowed Gabe to lean against him as he led Gabe from the beige bathroom to the white walls of the actual room. Two of the four lamps were lit throwing odd shadows against the wall.
The room spun as his captor helped him to the floor. Gabe couldn't keep the look of horror from his face when the suited man pulled a menacing knife from somewhere, he couldn't tell where; it was too dark. Smiling the man slid the blade between Gabe's slender wrists and pulled it against the plastic bindings. Gabe couldn't help but let out a light hiss as the man pealed the plastic pieces from his skin where they'd become imbedded from his earlier movements. Setting the knife aside the man firmly grasped Gabe's wrist and stood.
"I have to put your shoulder back. I need you to stay quiet. I know that you can do that, since you were quiet about doing it in the first place."
Placing his dress shoe clad foot on Gabe's chest he gave Gabe's arm a sharp yank. Biting his lip Gabe barely managed to keep the pain filled scream from passing his lips. The man standing over Gabe smiled as the young man's face turned a deep shade of red and a loud grunt that his throat emitted the moment a thunderous pop filled the room. He was sure that for Gabe the sound was sickening. For a moment he stared at the young man who was somewhere between consciousness and the changing shades of gray unconsciousness. He was only half surprised that his young captive was still semiconscious. Carefully dropping Gabe's arm to the dark carpeting of the floor, he went for a first aid kit. He couldn't have Gabe getting sick from the cuts to his wrists.
Groaning against the pain he tried to remember why he was in pain. His left arm felt strange. Warm pain surrounded the muscles in that shoulder. The throbbing waves were less than when he dislocated it. His hands felt different as well. They weren't restrained behind him anymore. They didn't even really feel as though they were restrained at all. Hoping that he was right Gabe opened his eyes and surveyed his surroundings. He had been right, his bonds were gone, but only for his left arm. His right arm was cuffed to the frame of the bed, while his left arm had been tied up with piece of cloth. Looking at his wrists he could see that someone had cleaned them and wrapped gauze around them. Great, looks like I tried to commit suicide, he thought wryly dropping his head back to stare at the ceiling. It was all so odd. The kidnapping and the kidnapper. Why were they being so nice? He'd expected to wake up in an old drafty backroom to a warehouse, not being stashed in the bathroom of a somewhat nice hotel. What did they really want from him? Were they really after The Cross of Augustine or were they after more?
"You are awake," a voice said from the doorway to the room. He knew that voice. "You've been out for far too long, I was beginning to worry." The body belonging to the voice came closer, dragging his heals against the carpeting.
"Why are you doing this?" Gabe didn't try to move his head in attempts to see who his captor was. He was confident that the man still wore the black ski mask he'd had on earlier.
"Holding you for ransom or patching you up?" He knelt down beside Gabe, leaning over so that they were staring each other in the eye. The anger that he found in Gabe's hazel eyes was one of the more curious things he'd seen in a while. It was rare that he actually came across someone like Gabe, usually there was fear seeded deep in their eyes. He couldn't help but smile at Gabe seemingly lack of fear. He knew that the kid was afraid, but he did hide it well.
"Both." He didn't look away from the icy blue pair of eyes that were staring so intently at him.
"You're a good student, you know that don't you?" He reached for Gabe's cuffed wrist. Undoing the cuff he pulled Gabe up so that he was leaning against the foot of the bed.
"So I've been told."
"I'm not really into physical torture." He stood and began pacing the room. "It would be an unwise career move on my part to cause great bodily harm to the son of a US Senator." His smile grew as Gabe's shocked look changed to one of total dismay. All the control Gabe'd had over his fear, went soaring out the window as he realized just how small the world really was. "We have to move." He grabbed hold of Gabe's good arm and pulled.
Morning coffee in hand Judson made his way to the deck. Soaking up the early morning sun he stared hard at the sea. It had to be down there amid the wreckage. Where was the problem. He and Mac had searched every square inch of the sunken ship looking for it. Gabe'd even sent the camera down to record their diving path just in case they'd missed something. They hadn't. He was running out of ideas on where it could be. There were a few remote possibilities that he didn't want to consider. One was that it had already been recovered and was now sitting in someone's private collection. If that were the case then there was no telling who had it and where they were.
Taking a sip of the warm liquid he forced the last thought from his brain. It would've been noted somewhere if someone had found the Augustine. It was a rare piece and there were many scholars who wouldn't have been able to keep their mouths shut long enough to just let it slip quietly into some rich man's private stash of artifacts.
At least they didn't put a time limit on finding it, he thought. If they had lied to him about how badly Gabe was hurt, they wouldn't have to worry about Mac finding them. He was sure that she'd do her own sort of damage to them, but only after he finished doing his own. Getting Gabe back went beyond not wanting to tell Mr. William Patterson. He didn't want to loose a good crew member.
"Thinking about Gabe?" a soft voice entered his thoughts and pulled him out.
"A bit." He turned slightly to see Mackenzie standing behind him a fresh cup of coffee in her hand.
"Me too." She sat on one of the sun chairs they'd set up. "But I promise you, I'll get him back."
"I don't like you going after him alone." He sat in the one closest to her.