Chapter Four

I see him sweat. Oh, yeah, that Mulder guy is desperately looking for a hole in the trap. I can't say if he just wants to save himself or the others, too, but he wants to live. That's for sure. He's looking for another idea to talk Gin out of our plan. I almost grin. Gin won't bargain. I liked the way he said that about the Bible and that other book. Guess it's a book, right? Yeah, I knew it. Well, I'm quite clever though I can't talk like Gin.

I watch the G-man again. JD does as well, but with different intentions. He can't forget that he was called stupid. He doesn't like that. He'd beat him to pulp if he was allowed to. There'll be a time. I don't think that I can talk him out of taking Mulder with us. I sigh inwardly. What did I do by ordering the agent up? Should probably have been the old man I had on the phone later on.

"You might have planned this meticulously, Mr. Stanley, but why did you waste your geniality on two stupid robbers who'll just make mishief?" And when Gin ignores him again he adds, "The only plausible reason is that you don't intend to pay them in full, right? You made your own preparations, didn't tell the brothers ten per cent of it and you'll try to get away with the money alone." The G-man shrugs. "That's okay. I'd do it the same way if I were you. Why should you throw pearls before swines?"

I swallow hard on this comment, and while JD can't hold himself I glare at Gin to get the sentiment of what he'd say about it. But he's only checking his watch.

"Did you make your own plans?" I demand to know.

"Did he tell you that there's a different site to change transportation?" The agent adds matter-of-factly.

Gin doesn't react as I think he should. JD in contrast does what's his nature. He grabs the agent by his hair, pulls him back and screams in his face,

"What else do ya know, asshole? Tell me! Now!" He hammers the muzzle of his pistol at Mulder's chin. The G-man clutches JD's wrist with his bound hands, trying to tear away the weapon from his face. He sweats even more, struggling to end the threat.

"Leave him alone," Gin orders from behind in an absolute normal tone. Nothing seems to upset him. "It's time." But JD's too deep in his anger and frustration that the agent might be right. Gin looks at me with lifted eyebrows as if I have to stop the kid. And I can't help thinking about the words of the FBI man. Is Gin using us? Has he got a second plan to escape from the hotel?

"JD, leave him alone." I know he won't hear me. I repeat it louder. He doesn't want to hear me. They wrestle with each other. The agent holds tight to JD's left hand with the gun, tying to get it away from his face, turn it against my brother. He's strong. Much stronger than JD would admit.

"Get away from him!" I shout and step closer to grab my brother. He's not concentrated and too irrational to think about what he's doing right now. Gin doesn't want the G-man to be killed.

But it's not him who's in danger.

Mulder clenches his teeth, turns the weapon with all his strength, almost breaks JD's wrist. My brother screams in pain.

Suddenly the senator leaps at my legs.

The telephone rings.

I stumble and fall flat to the floor, no time to get my pistol out of my pants where I tucked it. Damn! Shit! The senator holds fast. I don't even know how he got at me!

Mulder struggles with the weapon, gets hold of it, pulls the trigger. The bullet hits the ceiling lamp.

Still screaming, JD slams him hard in his face. Must hurt. Same eyebrow as before. Blood again. Mulder screams.

Glass splinters rain on the floor.

"Knock him out!" I bark, trying to reach my pistol. To get rid of the old man hanging at my legs, I try to kick at him, try to turn around to smash his face. Is he crazy?! "Now!"

JD punches Mulder again. He can't dodge anymore. His hands lose the grip on the pistol.

The telephone still rings.

Gin points his gun at the senator.

"Let him go, or you die first."

The senator backs away. He breathes heavily, swallows hard, and his look gives away that he thinks of himself as very courageous. His wife and daughter don't share his pride, but tear him away from me.

The telephone still rings in an unnerving loudness.

I stand up, turn on my heels to hit the face of the old man. He grimaces in pain, but I know I'm the one who lost. I had a weak moment. And he'll remember that. As well as Gin. I'm infuriated.

"Don't ever try that again!" I scream, then turn to face my brother. He hovers over the unconscious agent, swallows, points the weapon at his closed eyes, ready to pull the trigger.

"I kill ya, asshole! I told ya!"

"No, JD, don't!" I order him and step over to take his arm.

"He'd have broken my wrist!" JD shouts in a high-pitched tone that sounds so insecure, more like a frightened boy. It's his luck he's not alone, and the FBI man is out cold for the moment. He lies on his right side. Blood spills over his cheek and chin. I don't mind the injury. He wanted to kill my brother! And if it wasn't for the rules I'd have gladly emptied the whole 15 bullets of my weapon into his body.

"Right, but he didn't. You're OK. Get back. Watch the others."

"'Kay." Shaking with rage he lifts the weapon and walks back to his place near the other side of the desk. I catch Gin's look. It's not only that he thinks of JD as a brick short of a load, y'know, there's more to it.

Disdain.

I hate that look.

"Call 'em," Gin orders me, and I think about a remark, but decide to wait until we're out if here. I'll watch him very closely from now on. He won't dump my brother or me!

"Right." I pick up the phone and dial the number of the lobby. Again it's Patterson. "The helicopter has landed?" I ask and find my voice calm and controlled though there are thoughts running through my mind which have nothing to do with that damned helicopter.

"We already tried to inform you," Patterson says. "You didn't pick up the phone. I hope the hostages are all right?"

"Yeah, fine. So clear the way, keep the engine running. And take your dogs out of our way, or we'll kill a hostage for every man we see. Got that?"

"Sure." But isn't there a hint in his voice that he doesn't believe me?

"I mean it. You know that. We always get away. Won't be different this time." I want to add something more to make sure he gets the point, but Gin disconnects the call. "Hey, don't you ever do that again," I snarl. JD massages his wrist, but is on alert. We can still kill Gin and get away alone. Why should we trust a man we don't know and who plans to dump us the moment we are out of the woods?

"Wake up, Mulder. We need to know what they're up to." We stare at each other. From the corner of my eye I see JD watch us with the gun in his right hand. He won't be as precise as with his left, but on the short distance it won't matter. "Now."

"Don't try to push me around, Gin", I threaten, but his face remains blank. He doesn't even twitch. It's like he expected everything we do. I turn and take a big cup of water to pour it on the agent's face. It washes the blood away, too, and he stirs. Moans. Yes, this surely hurts like hell, and I do not begrudge a second of it. "Wake up!" I take his chin between thumb and index finger and shake him. He opens his eyes, and I let go. "It's time you tell us what the SWAT team out there has in mind." He looks awful. I don't know if his mind has awakened, too. Maybe JD hit him too hard, and he won't be any use to us any more. Well, though JD would object he'd be a victim to discharge. "Come on, asshole, spit it out!"

He spits dried blood.

"I said I don't know. Didn't change while I was knocked out."

Gin suddenly pulls Miss Robertson from her place, tears at her hair. His face is grim, determined. I know what'll follow. The G-man knows it, too.

"I said I don't know!" he repeats louder, but not more convincingly for Gin. He points his weapon against her temple. She screams. He presses harder.

"Shut up!" he orders her. She sobs, presses her lips tight. "You better confess now, or she dies," Gin says and takes off the safety.

"They'll wait for you on the roof," Mulder gives in. "They won't let you get away."

"They have orders to shoot on sight?"

Reluctantly the FBI man nods,

"Yes. You showed no co-operation, so the order is to shoot you when the sight is clear."

Gin still holds firmly to the hair of the woman. It's moving in his face. He's frowning, still thinking what to do. Waste a hostage to make him say more? I can't tell what's behind his stern face. Suddenly he twitches, pushes the woman against the hotel room door and shoots her in the back of her head.

The senator's wife and daughter scream, turn away from the woman on the floor. The telephone rings again. The young man who looks like a student murmurs, "Oh, God!"

Gin stares at the dead woman for a second then turns to Mulder again, ignores the pleas of the student, the words of the senator and the loud crying of the wife and the daughter.

"It's a grave mistake, Mr. Mulder, to place them on one level with me. I am not stupid." There he goes again. I don't know if I can still take this lying down. He gets closer. The crying from the women is annoying in its loudness. It's ripping up my nerves. "JD, watch the others." Another step to Mulder. The agent glares at him.

"I told you the truth," he points out, but Gin sneers,

"Yeah, right. They'd shoot a senator, his wife and daughter. What would your commander say about that? Do you think he'd stay in his job a day longer? A week maybe?" He squats in front of the agent, narrowing his eyes. "No, he wouldn't. So, Mr. Mulder, no one will shoot us on the roof top. What's the plan? Let me know. One hostage is dead. Do you want to watch my determination by shooting a second one? Or injuring you? Maybe this is much more efficient."

"You won't get another answer," the agent replies, coughing. They eye each other.

"The 'copter's waiting," I remind him. "We take the senator's family and get out. Pure and simple. As planned," I stress, but he just purses his lips.

"He knows where they wait. - Tell me, Agent Mulder, or this will be a long day for you. One you'll never forget."

The agent wets his lips.

"I already won't forget this. You killed four people! If I could I'd send you to death row for this!"

"Naw, you won't. Let me assure you that we will get away as planned." He doesn't look at me when he says this, and my anger rises again. What happens when I kill Gin? Does he have an ace up his sleeve that will prevent us from leaving here without him? Has he got more technical equipment than he has shown to us so far?

"Every policeman in the country will search for you. We already found your escape cars. There are not many places where the copter can land. We checked them all. So, even if you take off from here you're still on the radar. Either the FBI or the police catches you and your… friends." Now the G-man looks at me mockingly. "Or would Mr. McIntyre prefer another definition?"

"Watch your mouth," I growl.

Gin has played with his .9mm the whole time. Now, in a fluent motion, he aims it at the G-man's left upper arm and pulls the trigger. The bullet hammers right through his flesh and cracks the wood of the desk behind him. Mulder cries out, tries to rise his right hand to the wound, but can't. He muffles himself by clenching his teeth. Squints his eyes shut. Breathes heavily.

Me too.

I don't understand what Gin does. Why he does it. We have the hostages. We can leave with them. Hooded. They will all wear raincoats. No one will know who is who. We'll reach that damned waiting helicopter just in time to fly away with all the money. So much money! Still lying there in two suitcases.

"Why…," I stammer out, "why'd you do this? We can…"

"Shut up!" Gin says with a voice that demands immediate respect. "Now, Mr. Mulder, would you like to revise your decision again and tell me what I want to know?"

"I don't know what they're up to," Mulder presses between his teeth. "You can blow me to pieces, but the answer's still the same."

Gin stares at him, then rises.

"You're playing clever, smartass, but that won't save you or any other."

What the heck does he mean by that?

----------

The fake Mr. Stanley turns away from me. I wonder if I would have told him the truth, too, if I had known what the SWAT team was up to. Could I have resisted? Tried to lie to him? Gin looks like a man in control in every situation. He doesn't need the brothers more than a rich man needs a butler. If he gets away with the helicopter he'll kill Mike and JD at the next available location. I don't know if they know this, too, but Mike seems to realize that his partner is colder than arctic ice.

I try to sit up again. I've never had such a headache before, but it will feel like a warm breath of air when the numbness in my arm decreases. Blood oozes out of the wound with every heartbeat, and my left hand is cold. The senator looks at me, demanding to know if I can still be of any help. He holds tight to his wife and daughter. My glance falls upon the dead woman on the floor. I know it's not my fault she died, but that doesn't console me. I failed to help the hostages. I'm only one more victim with no idea how to end the situation peacefully.

Mike throws the raincoats at the men and women on the floor.

"Put 'em on!"

JD takes one, puts it on, then steps closer to me with another one.

"Get up!" he orders harshly. And when I don't react at once, "Hurry, asshole, get up, or I'll make you get up!"

I take a deep breath. The Fake watches the hostages put on the coats, but he glances at JD and me.

"He won't go with us," he says flatly.

JD turns around, pulling the weapon and pointing it directly at the well-dressed man.

"He will!" he shouts.

The same moment Mr. Stanley draws his Smith&Wesson and shoots the young man in his chest.

"No!" Mike cries out. JD's legs give way. He stumbles to the floor, falls face down with an expression of surprise and disbelief. "No! JD! No!" Mike rushes to him, kneels beside him, turns his brother on his back. "JD! Can you hear me? Oh, God, please, no!" He presses his hands over the wound to stop the bleeding. It's clear to see that the young man will die if he stays here. Mike turns to Mr. Stanley. "Why, Gin, why? He's my brother! Not a fucking hostage you can play with!"

"He wanted to shoot me," the false Mr. Stanley answers, and orders the hostages to stand up. "Leave him and join us, or stay here and wait for the police."

"He'll die if we don't take him to a hospital!"

"He'll die anyway." Mr. Stanley points his gun at me. "And we won't leave behind any witnesses, right?"

I exhale. Look straight into the muzzle, into Stanley's eyes. He isn't hesitating because he is reflecting if it is right to kill me. He's just enjoying the moment of my defeat.

The door breaks open. The row is deafening. Two members of the SWAT team with black suits and helmets jump in with drawn guns. Stanley turns around, aims, but is too slow. He dies on the spot with two bullets in his chest. Mike raises his arms, drops the gun, and is flattened to the floor within seconds. Three more men run into the room, check the situation, and then take off their helmets.

"Sir, are you okay?" I see the young but earnest face above me, and though I don't feel like it, I smile.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

----------

Two days later I'm released from hospital and make my way back to my superior's office. His young secretary notices my arm in the sling and the stitched-up wound at my eyebrow, and smiles sympathetically.

"He's waiting for you," she says with an even broader smile. I enter the office and find Hastings sitting in front of the desk.

"Hey, good to see you," he says and hardly refrains from slapping my shoulder. "Sorry. You look much better. Do you remember that you fainted on the way downstairs? - No, probably not. You're really roughed up, kid."

I don't like to be reminded, but he doesn't notice. He's happy that only one hostage was killed instead of all of them. Patterson doesn't shake hands, and asks me to sit down while he looks through the reports on the case. Then the master himself takes the time to report the details I lack.

"I realized within a minute that you couldn't hear us anymore, but we could still hear you." He corrects his glasses and glances at me. "As long as the McIntyres were too far away and the fake Mr. Stanley, too, it was impossible to get in without risking the lives of the hostages - as you'll understand, Agent Mulder." Sure, yes, I understand. The McIntyres or Stanley might have killed everybody, but sure the team couldn't move in. "It was good that you informed us about the third party involved. Mr. Stanley's real name is Garrett. Brandon Garrett. He was a Secret Service member until, three years ago, he ran amok and killed two civilians in a gunfight with an assassin. He was dismissed, but no charges were pressed against him after an internal investigation. Obviously he used his knowledge in other kidnappings before." He drops the sheet of paper and looks up again. "We listened carefully to the happenings and decided to wait for noise from within to sweep the cornflakes. After that the team could place explosives at the door to break it open." He takes off the glasses. "The senator's family and the student were treated for shock and abrasions at a hospital, and he told me to relate his thankfulness to you.- And we have to thank you, too, Agent Mulder for your sensible handling of the situation."

Not a word that I was right about the McIntyre brothers, - that the idea of a hostage-taking wasn't theirs alone. And that they'd have reacted differently when they'd been alone.

I don't know what to reply. I nod and take the compliment without an argument. Patterson was wrong, and I take it as a note on my desk that he's not without fault.

"Agent Mulder? - Due to your injury you'll be on leave until next week. I expect you back on Monday the fifteenth." He only has to add 'Dismissed', but I get the message and rise. Hastings rises, too, and we both leave the office.

"You did a great job," the team leader assures me. I lift my eyebrows in disbelief. "Yeah, you did. Don't ya know, he never lets anyone go without telling him the flaws in his action. You're the first!" And he can't help slapping my shoulder.

-----------

Now you know the whole story. What do ya think? I lost my brother, got caught… Well, it wasn't my fault, y'know? If he'd have run to the plan we'd all be out of the woods within six hours. Gin messed it up! He killed my brother! Got another cigarette? -- Thanks. No, I don't even know who he was or what he did before, but I can tell ya that I won't believe any more 'recommendations', that's for sure.

You think you can use this in your article? Yeah, I know I'm not the wizard of hostage-taking, but remember - we killed no hostage. It was Gin - or whatever his name was. Not me. Not my brother.

Do you send me a copy of your magazine? I hope you do. We can't get them here on time, y'know. And I don't want to wait until one of the guards drops it in a wastepaper bin, okay? And spell my name right! It's Irish. And bring a beer next time!

THE END