Title: Kismet

Author: Rose with Thorns

Rating: T for language, violence

Summary: Broken down busses and bribes lead to unexpected reunions. Seth's now on the hunt to bring the most unlikely person back to El Ray.Author's Note: This is a gene splicing experiment between a sudden plot bunny and a stalker plot bunny that's been bothering me for a while. All Spanish translations are thanks to the Konfabulator's Translate Mini.

Oh, and I do not own anyone or anything, but did bring the bus load of college girls and two old ladies, as well as some other people into existence for the sake of plot. No, none of the girls on the bus have phone numbers….Chapter One:

Blood and Irony

Bribery was a part of the everyday in El Ray. You just had to get used to it-and protect yourself. Sever all ties that might be held against you, don't keep women around, and keep an eye on your back. That was the way to go.

Jimmy Capone was one of those sort of men who thought that, by coincidentally having a badass surname, he automatically was one. Personally, Seth knew the guy was still wet behind the fucking ears, and that this little 'meeting' was a very stupid mistake on the man's part. In El Ray, everyone knew the club owner Seth Gecko, or Mikey Martinez as his papers said, was not one to fuck with.

He leaned back in his chair, exhaling and rolling the Cuban cigar between his fingers. Jimmy smiled from the other side of the dirty, shit-stained room with the look of a cat with a canary. His beer belly peeked up from just above the edge of the Formica tabletop, his chubby hands just folded in front of it.

"You're a good guy, right Mikey?" he asked knowing the answer.

"Depends upon who you're comparing me to, Jimmy. Am I 'good' on a saint level? No. But in El Ray, I'm the closest thing to the fucking pope you'll get."

The man grinned. There was a ten year difference between them at least, but the younger of the two had more experience-or was it commons sense? Seth was still trying to figure out why the dumb-nut would meet with him one-on-one.

"Hear about the bus that broke down just outside of El Ray?" When his guest nodded, Capone continued. "It was a bus just filled to the brim with young college girls, huh?"

Seth kept still. "I'm not following, Jimmy. Get to the point where I inevitably give you money."

This threw him for a loop. It took him a bit to restart. "But I know you wouldn't want something to happen to any of them. That's why I went to you." He leaned forward. "I might just know about a…problem that's going to take place. Thought you should know."

"Now why would I be spending my hard-earned money on some sort of ransom for a dumbass bitch on her vaca-" He stopped as the door opened and in came two men, dragging along a dark haired, beaten women. He didn't move.

They pulled her head up, her dark, frantic eyes met his.

For the first time in a very long time, panic took over.

She settled back into the seat, fanning herself. Of all the places to break down…

Nina, the willowy, bohemian blonde who had befriended her at freshmen orientation punched her in the arm. "Hey," she said warningly. "Cheer up. It's a minor pit stop. This is vacation; its an adventure. Relax a little."

She gave her a smile, but turned back to tapping her hands on her bouncing legs.

A bad tire shouldn't take this long.

The other girls, all members of their seminary's Spanish Club, had started to fidget. The air-conditioning had gone off when the engine was shut off, and most have them in their silver spoon-fed lives hadn't been without the luxury of A.C. for more than a few minutes. Some had pulled out their cell phones, already complaining to the first person in their phone Address Book.

Yes, college was turning out to be a most disappointing experience.

Perhaps she could nap. Lethargy was normal in heat, right? It could help. With her lack of sleep, recently…

The elderly driver got back on, but she could tell right away something was wrong as his head crested above the small wall. As his back came into view, the gun at his back did, too. A few girls noticed, automatically grew gravely silent. She swallowed.

The three, Hispanic men stared about the bus. The shortest stepped into the aisle. "Buena dias, señoras. No le guardaremos para demasiado largo. We just need one of you for un rato corto. Any volunteers?"

By now the entire bus was silent. The elderly two women who'd accompanied the girls clutched at one another, in fear.

"No volunteers? Pity then, we'll just pick."

They looked at all of them, the group of them scattered about the large bus. They were a small group. The more attractive ones had a higher chance of being picked, if the man's leering gaze was to be judged.

"You there. Get up."

It took her a moment to realize he was talking to her. Nina gazed at her, horrified.

"Don't g-"

She shot her a warning glance as she slowly got up. They gestured for her to follow.

The first step off the bus caused her to squint in the blinding sunlight, such a difference from the dramatically darker, drier bus. The wind slapped her cheeks as she staggered. Instantly a gun was in the small of her back. Her hands went up, automatically. They walked her around to the other side of the bus.

A portly, American man waited. He threw his butt to the ground, grinding it beneath his boot. She hoped it was a sign he might be a slightly more courteous kidnapper.

He turned towards them, and she could see he had not been in Mexico long, or he'd spent all of his time indoors. He grinned as he saw her, surveying her with a long, uncontrolled look.

"What's your name sugar?"

She swallowed, glaring. "Where are we?"

He shook his head, tisking at her. "I think I asked you a question. If you like that pretty little brunette head to stay on your neck, you'll answer me. What's your name, darlin?"

"Kate Fuller."

He continued to smile. "Well, Katie, you're going to help me out, okay?"

She swallowed. She'd been kidnapped once, and had made it out. She could do it again. He didn't wait for an answer.

He escorted her languidly to a beat up car and got into the driver's seat. Twisting in her seat, she could see the men stayed behind, but a few girls were pressed against the glass, looking to see what became of her. He pulled her back down.

"You're a smart girl, coming with me like this. Pretty cute, too."

"Don't think that's going to get you anywhere."

He chuckled. "Fiery. I like it, Katie."

She snapped. "It's Kate, you overweight cardiac-arrest-on-legs. Now where the fuck are you taking me?"

She was answered with a punch in the face, and the angle was just enough to cause the sting of a nose bleed. She cupped the side of her face, nursing the it.

He turned towards her, a fatty finger shaking at her. "Now there is no need to get fresh, young lady. Just sit back and enjoy this…scenic ride to El Ray."

Oh, the irony. It mingled with the coppery taste of blood in her mouth.

Seth tried to remain calm. For Kate's sake. What the hell was she doing anywhere near El Ray?

"What makes you think I'll pay?"

The man shrugged. "You're a softie, underneath it all. Boys, why don't you take her for a ride, alright? Keep her busy while me and Mikey talk this over."

Kate's head shot up, eyes pleading. "Se-" she never finished, which, in a way was a good thing. The bad part was the way she was silenced. Her head dropped forward like a rag dolls as one of the men pocketed the gun he'd just pistol-whipped her with. 'Mikey' was out of his chair, aiming the gun at the man.

"I really don't think you want to do that," he said, hoping for all the world that it sounded exactly how he felt.

The gun was back out, digging into the now unconscious girl's head. "I think that's my line, señor."

Even though the man across the table from him was still quite new at the business of extortion, the two other men weren't. They were professional, experienced goons, quite frankly. For Kate's sake, even though it killed him, he put his gun away.

"What are we looking at here, Jimmy?" he felt tired, exhausted and not prepared for what was about to begin.

The man shrugged. "Not quite sure yet, Mikey. Give me a little time, and I'll give you a number. But just to make sure, Andre is going to sit with ya, while Carlos takes this cutie for a little drive, and I go to think my numbers over." That meant he was going to go meet with whoever he was working for. Rumors and new around town would have scared him off from thinking of this alone. It was now up to Seth to mull over who exactly would try this…

The doors shut, and, much to his dismay, he didn't hear a scuffle outside, confirming the fact that Kate was clearly very unconscious. Two cars took off, he could hear, and he strained to hear which ways they went.

Andre gave him a grin that could only mean he was going to try to have fun with him.

"Andre, for your sake just sit your ass down and let me leave. I'll go get the money."

He shook his head. "We don't need the police involved."

Seth gave him an incredulous look. "Police? I haven't ever seen one within a fifty mile radius of El Ray. Ever. Have you? And why would I call 'em?"

Andre mulled that one over, giving Seth enough time to pick up the large, ornate stapler on Jimmy's desk and hit him with it.

He brought it down with such force onto the side of Andre's skull that both men staggered, the victim more so, Seth started to lift it again.

Andre stood up, half protecting his head and trying to punch Seth with one hand while pulling out his gun with the other. It didn't work, but his overall height and weight advantage caused both men to end up bumping into the desk, with 'Mikey' fall backward onto its surface.

Andre tried to pull the gun again. This time, Seth slid over the other side of the desk (due in part to momentum causing him to nearly lose his balance over the side). By now the blood was running down the other man's face freely, and the blood in his eyes hindered him a bit. It gave Seth enough time to pull out his own and, with two shots, end the threat.

The new silence allowed Seth to inspect himself. A slight scrape from the intimate encounter with the desk, but really nothing else. Readjusting his suit jacket, he started out towards the door.

The prim, Botoxed secretary started for the emergency button, God knew why, but a gun in her direction stopped the action. Seth stalked out the front in plain site, ending up on a side street of the main section of El Ray.

It looked a bit, as one tourist had once said, like the Caymans. It had all the wealth and opulence of a rich tourist spot, but the underbelly of any ruthless city. It was a surreal place, with a volunteer 'police force', elected money men who really did nothing. Unless you were 'in', you'd never know.

Seth knew the bus was probably just outside of town, and with that in mind, he dialed Nick Fantozzi, his business neighbor who owned a garage and tour bus company. Nick himself was the only person he came close to trusting in the city. The group of confused, scared girls were brought to the Holiday Inn down the street, and a pale, elderly woman rushed to Seth as she got off the bus.

"You have to help us," she said desperately. "A student was kidnapped and we have no idea where she is. I need to get to the authorit-"

"They said that no authorities should be involved, m'am. They approached me for the ransom money."

The woman groaned, hands covering her face as the inevitable tears started.

A blonde came over. "If this helps, here's her picture, sir."

It was a good picture of Kate, shyly smiling at the camera as she carried a cake out of a kitchen. But this Kate was not the skinny teenager he'd left behind. She was…

After he found her he'd be able to think like that. Now, however…

"Do you know where they've taken her, sir?" asked the girl, her large blue eyes wide with fear. He didn't respond. "If it's a problem about the money, I'm sure I could call my parents and have them wire the money."

"I've got it taken care of, kid." He bit his lip, pouring over the checklist in his head: find out who Jimmy was working for, track down that car, tear the man to pieces, get Kate back in one piece…

"Does Kate have a cell phone on her?"

She shook her head sadly. She held up a small leather backpack. "She left her purse." Seth cursed under his breath. "But she does have a walkie talkie. We'd gotten them for the tour of the temple ruins."

He could have kissed that girl then, had it not been that she was probably a minor. "Can I borrow it? I might be able to get a hold of her."

She handed it over. "Channel eight. It's her l-"

"Lucky number." He remembered it, from some side conversation on the RV at one point, probably.

The girl gave him a confused look. "Yeah. Please get her back to us, sir. She's my best friend…"

He gave her a curt nod and squatted next to the older woman on the cheap, stained hotel couch. "Just sit and relax. I've got this all under control."

Kate swallowed, wincing at the pain caused by her throat's dryness. She sat up a little. How'd she get in a chair?

The memory of what had happened came back, a little quicker than the returning pain on the side of her brow. It felt hot and swollen, and the itch just below confirmed her hunch she'd been bleeding. At least her nose hadn't started again.

A look around told her she was no longer in the same, cheery building she'd been in when she was pistol whipped. And now she was tied to a chair. The ogre of a Hispanic man that had been there earlier was gone, but the tall, lean man was still there, long, black hair shielding his face from her. He brought his head up when he noticed her moving about.

"Oh, you're up. Good afternoon."

Kate swallowed, trying to ready herself to say something, maybe to anger him enough to get him near her. She might be able to trip him….nothing came to mind.

"Hey, just sit tight." He turned on a TV in the corner of the dirt-floored room. The flat, dry terrain outside let her know she was probably nowhere near El Ray.

She let her head fall back, bright spots of pain and a view of a popcorn crackled, cracked ceiling encompassing her vision. To think five hours ago she'd just left the airport and boarded a bus, and that her only fear was of the memories she so desperately tried to push to the back of her mind.

This was not turning out as she'd planned it.