Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just borrowed them. Numb3rs and its characters are the property of those that created them. No copyright infringement intended. No financial reward gained. All real places and organisations are used in a fictional sense. Original characters and the storyline are mine however.
"FBI!" Don managed to rasp, his throat raw. The pressure of the gun increased. – Don finds that chasing an armed offender into an old building doesn't always go as planned.
As the minutes wore on it was obvious that their quarry was getting desperate.
The powerful red sedan took the last corner just that little bit too fast and started to slide. The pursuing black suburban held the turn, giving up a small amount of speed for control but maintained the pressure even as the distance between the two vehicles temporarily increased. The red sedan couldn't recover from the slide and spun out, passenger side crumpling as it hit a power pole outside an old apartment building. Here the skill of the driver of the suburban came even more into play as he rapidly adjusted the heavy vehicle's path and avoided colliding with the remains of the red sedan. The suburban went into a controlled slide, turning a full 180 degrees to come to a stop facing their quarry.
A moment later the driver's door of the damaged vehicle was forced open and the single male occupant pushed his way out, a familiar dark object held in one hand. He staggered but regained his footing, turning and firing twice. He was satisfied when he saw two heads duck down, taking shelter behind the SUV's open doors. He was granted a moment which he took full advantage of, running into the darkened doorway of the run-down and obviously vacant building. His access made all the easier by the lack of a door and he quickly disappeared into the darkness.
Out in the street a moment passed before there was any movement or sound.
"Fine, Don. You?" Special Agent Colby Granger straightened and peered quickly across the interior of their vehicle to his boss.
Special Agent Don Eppes nodded curtly and bobbed up to check the location of Pankow. It had only been a few seconds but the Russian hitter was gone. There was no sign of him on the surrounding street leaving only one option. He took a deep breath to settle the latest hit of adrenalin in his system caused by the shots fired at them. His gaze settled briefly on the remains of the red sedan.
It had been pure happenstance that they had come across the man. They'd been driving back to the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office after interviewing a witness from a recent home invasion. They'd stopped at a red light and Yuri Pankow had the misfortune to pull up next to them. His claim to fame was as an up and coming hitman working for the Russian mob that was still trying to take over the city's underworld. Colby, sitting in the passenger seat of Don's suburban had recognised him instantly.
There was no connection to the string of home invasions they were investigating but that didn't mean they wouldn't take the opportunity to bring Pankow in. His face was on want bulletins posted around the Field Office, evidence firmly tying him to a number of murders and he was a strong suspect in at least two more deaths. Pankow, not surprisingly, had taken off the moment they'd identified themselves. The pursuit had been underway for nearly ten minutes before the Russian had been pushed into making his mistake. While it had seemed like nearly forever, the pursuit had not been running long enough for back-up to make it through the heavy downtown traffic to assist them.
Don turned back to Colby to order their final location and status called in but saw that the junior agent already had his cell to his ear and was speaking with Control. Colby snapped his phone closed and their gazes met.
"We waiting?" Colby queried, already suspecting that he knew the answer.
The senior agent turned his attention back to the building in front of them. The ten story apartment building was one of many semi-recently abandoned buildings in this part of town. This one allegedly due for demolition on some unknown future date if the notice of development posted outside was anything to go by. The frontage was shabby but surprisingly it had more than it's fair share of intact glass windows and less than the usual amount of graffiti for such a building. That could mean something or nothing, anything could be waiting for them inside. Not the least of which was a wanted murderer. He made his decision.
"Let's go." The longer they waited the more likely it was that Pankow would either find a good hiding spot or another way out of the building. The pressure had to be maintained, the fugitive was not thinking too clearly, firing on them was a sure sign of that. It took a desperate man to fire on federal agents, with the guaranteed charge of attempted murder.
The two agents sprinted for the door, there was always the chance that Pankow had taken up a position to fire on them again. A few seconds later they made it to the comparative safety of the sides of the doorway without incident. A final check with each other and they moved, Don heading in first, Colby an instant behind. Each took only a few steps before crouching and waiting in silence, one on each side of the foyer. As their eyes adjusted to the relative darkness after the bright sunlight outside they each listened for a clue as to their quarry's whereabouts.
They were rewarded with the sound of running footsteps coming from above them. Don's eyes had finally adjusted and he could now clearly see a set of stairs at the end of the narrow foyer. Colby followed as he rose and they started moving as quickly as was safe, slowed by the need to maintain silence. This was where Pankow had a slight advantage, as in the pursuit his greater speed would increase the distance between them. But just as in the pursuit their more cautious approach should work to their advantage eventually. They would continue to push Pankow forcing him to make mistakes while at the same time not allowing the fugitive the opportunity to set an ambush by revealing their own location.
They went up a flight before stopping and listening again. The running steps had stopped, Pankow having achieved a good sized gap from his pursuers but a faint scrape let them know they needed to go up another flight. Moving much slower now and covering each other the two agents made the climb upwards, easing around the landing mid-way before reaching the third floor. There was no reaction, no bullets sent their way. Another look and shared nod and they started clearing the floor.
No conversation was needed, they had done this often enough that they knew each other's moves. It was slow going but as each abandoned room was checked they were assured that the building behind them was clear and that Pankow was ahead of them, blocked from escaping back down the internal stairs. They also kept the fire escape at the end of the main hallway under constant surveillance as they went. If Pankow tried for that they would know within moments.
It came as some surprise then when there was the unmistakeable sound of gunshots on the floor above them. The two agents stared at each other for a moment, both their weapons automatically pointed upwards towards the sound.
"He's up there?" Colby whispered, breaking their silence.
Don glanced upwards. Until that point there had been every indication that Pankow was on this level. Unusually there had also been every indication that the building was totally abandoned, they had not disturbed anyone during their search for the Russian. There was no time at the moment to wonder why the derelict building wasn't a haven for the homeless there was a job that needed doing. Don started back towards the stairs. "He must be, let's go."
Repeating their last careful ascent they made it up to the fourth floor. There were no more shots and now that they were on the correct level there was no obvious reason for the shots. There was still no evidence of any other people, Pankow must have been shooting at shadows. The agents would need to be very careful closing in on the increasingly desperate Russian.
The layout of the rooms on the fourth floor was different from the floor below, whilst those had been mostly single bedroom apartments these were multi-room, some as many as three bedrooms. Their search slowed as their anxiety increased, it would be easier now for Pankow to make it past them while they were deep inside such an apartment. There was nothing for it but to continue their search as carefully as they could. They were in the fourth such apartment, this one only two bedroom, when they opened a partially closed door to find Pankow lying motionless on the floor. The growing pool of blood around his torso explained why.
This time it was a puzzled look that the agents shared before Don jerked his head. In response Colby moved to check the room whilst his partner kept his weapon aimed at the Russian. Until the room was cleared they wouldn't be able to confirm that their quarry was dead.
"Clear." Colby reported a moment later after checking the small bathroom adjoining the room.
Don moved in and quickly confirmed that Pankow was no longer a threat to anyone. His fingers on the Russian's neck failed to find a pulse and the spread of the blood already seemed to be slowing.
"What happened?" Colby asked as he approached to take a closer look. There was no sign of trauma to the fugitive's head. "He shoot himself?"
"Twice?" Don shook his head. After a moment of careful observation, fixing the body's exact position in his memory before he disturbed the scene, he reached out and carefully rolled the body partway over to reveal Pankow's chest. The body had been lying in a strangely slightly hunched pose and now he saw the reason for that, the handle of a large knife protruded from the man's chest, the blade fully embedded. "I don't think this is his."
Colby raised his gun as it was confirmed there was someone else in the building with them, someone capable of killing an armed man. Something about the knife seemed familiar and he moved closer, bending over to inspect the handle. There was no mistake, he'd recognise the style of knife anywhere. "That's a KA-BAR knife."
"Huh?" The senior agent noticed that his partner was immediately on greater alert with the identification of the weapon.
"Marine fighting knife." Colby explained, scanning the cleared room with renewed suspicion. "Not something you'd leave behind."
"The gun's missing," Don started. There was no sign of the Russian's weapon, either in the man's dead hand or on the floor in the room. He was thinking that the unknown assailant had simply swapped up to a more superior weapon.
Colby saw the direction his boss' thoughts had gone and shook his head. "A knife is a better friend than a gun. It doesn't jam or run out of ammunition. You don't leave a knife behind unless you absolutely have to."
Don was becoming alarmed at his partner's tone, especially as he knew Colby was experienced in this area from his time in the military. He touched the end of the knife with one finger, feeling that it was firmly embedded, most likely into bone. That indicated the degree of force that had been used to stab the Russian and the reason it had been discarded. His initial thoughts that some homeless man or drunk had stabbed the intruder evaporated. He looked back up at the junior agent. "You're thinking someone with military training took him out?"
Colby nodded tightly, moving towards the bedroom door clearly intending to recheck the rest of the apartment. He knew it was as obvious to Don as it was to him that the mystery man couldn't be too far away.
Don eased the body back into it's original position before standing and lowering his voice even further than his previously quiet tones. "How long before our backup gets here?"
"Any minute now." Colby's voice was equally hushed.
The senior agent nodded and flicked his eyes to the right. They would recheck the apartment for the unknown new player. Colby moved left as Don took the room to the right. Nothing, the apartment was just as empty as before. Colby raised an eyebrow and jerked his head towards the hall.
Don answered Colby's question with a single nod, they would continue to search the floor. Some may have said that the mystery man had done them a favour by taking out the Russian hitter but Don was working on the simple fact that a man had killed another, was now in the wind and was armed. He needed to be found.
Entering the apartment on the opposite side of the hall they moved carefully, checking each possible hiding spot before moving onto the bedrooms and bathroom. With no furniture and basic fittings such as a single kitchen counter and only one built in closet per room it didn't take long. The apartment directly next to the one containing the dead Russian was the same as the first, a large pile of trash in the corner being the only extra furnishing. Don followed Colby back out into the hall before suddenly stopping and looking back. There had been something…
"Don?" Colby hissed.
He shook his head, for a moment he'd thought he'd seen the edge of the trash move. There was nothing now, it must have been a rat burrowing into the pile. There had been a more than a few of the rodents scurrying around. He turned and jerked his head at the next door across the hall. Another three bedroom apartment, same as the previous one and just as quickly cleared. Again Don followed Colby from the room.
The sudden blur of movement was totally unexpected. A dark shape collided with Colby pushing him out of sight. There was a sickening crack followed by a shout of pain and the unmistakeable dull thud of a body falling. Despite only being a couple of yards behind his partner by the time Don reached the doorway and stepped out into the hall it was all over. He had time to see Colby sprawled motionless on the floor several yards away and hope that he was only out cold before a large shape rushed at him.
He managed a hard shove that sent both he and his opponent stumbling back gaining precious space. With the added distance the shape transformed itself into a man wearing what appeared to be clothing made out of trash. Unhampered by trying to recover from a surprise attack the man was already starting to move in.
"FBI, freeze!" Don shouted, struggling to regain his balance and bring his weapon to bear.
He was nearly on target when the man launched himself at the agent. Don got a round off that went wild before the solidly built man slammed bodily into him forcing him back into the wall. In the same movement his gun hand was seized and slammed hard above his head. He barely maintained his grip on his weapon. Before he could begin to counter the move the man's other forearm was laid across his throat as he used his greater height and weight to apply pressure, pinning the agent in place. Don sharply raised his knee aiming at the man's groin but the other twisted and took the blow on his thigh. The man moved closer, using almost his entire body now to lean on the agent to prevent any further such attempts.
Black spots started appearing at the edges of his vision as his breathing was reduced to short gasps insufficient to his needs, the arm across his throat stopping him from taking drawing full breaths as the struggle continued. His attacker' eyes were filling his vision and he could see only determination in their dark depths. He had only one more unrestrained line of defence. With his free left arm he aimed a desperate punch at the man's head, the close quarters reducing the power behind his fist. The man seemed prepared and simply jerked his head to the side allowing the blow to glance off without effect. The arm across Don's throat pushed harder and the agent gagged as his airway was completely blocked. He could get no more air. Putting all his remaining strength into it Don tried to twist his right hand downwards to aim the Glock at his attacker.
The hand around his wrist tightened, the fingers pulsing and shifting, causing the bones in his wrist to grind together. The pain was incredible and despite his best efforts his hand opened allowing his weapon to fall to the threadbare carpeted floor with a dull thud. Becoming even more frantic as panic started to rise he kept fighting. He lost the strength in his legs from the lack of oxygen and would have fallen if not for the arm steadily crushing his throat. The attacker's dark eyes maintained their intense stare as he went limp and his vision faded to black.
It was all over.