AUTHOR'S NOTES: Although it is not super-important, this story takes place during the first season of BHH, before the events in "Fate." The important thing is Vaughn does NOT know about the Qui ball yet.

All of the characters except Vaughn, Victor, Josie, and Principal Durst are my own creations and have never appeared in the series. Call it alternate universe if you want.

This story is rather dark and does contain some violence and mild swearing. I am not trying to pick on Vaughn; rather, I wanted to explore he and Victor's relationship under stressful circumstances. Future fics will include the rest of the characters and be more like the BHH episodes. I just had to get this one out of my head first. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: Strange Days at Blake Holsey was created by Jim Rapsas and is the property of the now-defunct Fireworks Entertainment, Discovery Kids, NBC, and probably a lot of other people who could sue me. Please don't.

Wednesday, September 20th

Business was usually slow on Wednesday nights, and this night was no exception. From across the room, Lacey watched the two men in the corner both as she waited for her next order to come up. One was dressed in slacks, a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a tie. He looked as if he had just come from the office. The other wore a black t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, displaying muscular arms full of tattoos.

As she watched, a thin young man with sandy hair entered the bar. He scanned the room, caught sight of the men in the corner booth and hesitated. The man in the tie waved him over, and he took his seat with them.

"Quite a crew back there," Sam the bartender remarked as he loaded Lacey's tray with drinks. "They don't go together very well."

"Two of them were in here Sunday evening," Lacey explained. "I'd never seen either one of them before then. The guy in the tie was OK. Didn't say much to me, left a decent tip. The other guy's a pig. Kept calling me baby and trying to smack my butt."

"Guys like that don't go together," Sam repeated. "Coming in on slow nights, hiding in the back. They're up to no good; I'd bet money on it."

"Sunday night, every time I came near the table, they stopped talking," Lacey said.

The bartender nodded knowingly. "Probably best that you didn't hear what they're talking about."

"I'd better take these drinks and go get their order," Lacey sighed.

"Let me know if that guy gives you any trouble," Sam said.

"I'm glad you decided to come, Theodore," Jonathan Brady said as he stood and shook the young man's hand. Michael Jakes stayed in his seat, his tattooed arms crossed in front of him.

"You can call me Ted. I'll admit, I almost didn't come," Ted Clarke replied. "I'm still not 100 sure about this."

"And what is causing your hesitation?"

"Well…it's illegal…and I don't want to hurt anyone…especially not a kid."

"We don't want to hurt anyone either, Ted," Brady replied. "The kid won't be mistreated. We just have to take him away from his father for a few days, so he will pay to get him back."

"Good money," Jakes spoke up. He put a cigarette in his mouth and flipped his lighter. Orange light flashed across tanned face and dark eyes. "And easy. Especially for you."

They stopped speaking as the waitress came up to the table. "What'll it be tonight?"

"Three Bud draft, honey," Jakes said, leering at her. Lacey rolled her eyes and left to get their drinks.

"All you have to do is turn the kid over to us, then stay cool for a few days until we get the money," Brady continued. "Then we give you 100 grand, and you can leave town. Wouldn't it be great to get out of this town? And with one hundred thousand dollars?"

"How much does Pearson pay you?" Jakes asked.

"Twelve dollars an hour."

"And do you work full-time?"

"No," Ted answered. "Usually around 20 hours a week."

"So, that's 12 dollars an hour, 20 hours a week. After taxes, that's less than $200.00 a week." Jakes took a deep drag off his cigarette, then leaned in close and look Ted directly in the eye. "You can make in one afternoon what it would take you 10 years to make driving Pearson around."

Ted still looked doubtful.

Brady regarded him carefully, reading him. "You're thinking a hundred thousand doesn't go very far anymore, aren't you?"

Ted looked at him, surprised. "Well, it is a big risk."

"Three Bud draft," Lacey announced, setting the frosted mugs down on the table.

"We'll let you know if we need anything else," Brady said politely, but firmly. Lacey nodded. Jakes stared at her backside as she walked to the bar.

"A really big risk," Ted repeated after she was out of earshot.

"And a big risk should have a big payoff," Brady agreed.

"And it's not like he can't afford it," Ted continued.

Brady nodded. "An extra...hundred thousand would hardly make a dent in his bank account."

Ted took a swallow of his beer and leaned back in the booth, contemplating. "Two hundred thousand..." He looked up at Brady and smiled. "That's a lot of money."

Even with the dim light in the bar, Brady could see the excitement in those eyes. He could almost see the young man's mind churning, thinking about what all he would do with two hundred thousand dollars.

"But we won't hurt the kid?"

"No." Brady said.

"Of course not," Jakes chimed in. He took a big drink, swallowed it, and licked the foam from his lips. "We're not into that. Its just business."

"Just business," Ted repeated softly.

Brady glanced at Jakes and raised his mug. Jakes followed suit. "To business?"

Ted looked up. Slowly, he raised his mug and clinked it against their waiting ones. "To business."

Brady's lips curled into a wicked grin. Jakes laughed and chugged the rest of his beer down. "Lacey!" he called. "Another round, baby!"

Ted took a deep swallow of his beer. "I'm going to be rich."

"We're all going to be rich." Brady agreed.

Ted took a deep breath. "So...what exactly do you want me to do?"

Brady smile faded. He cocked his head to one side. "You provide the kid...we'll do the rest."