If… As We Try - Prologue
Original Characters and story plot © E Phillips 2001. UC: Undercover premise and characters from the show are © Shane Salerno, NBC and associated companies. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: While this is a sequel to "If… In the End, it
is not strictly necessary to have read that story to understand or even
follow it. This story is rated R for scenes of sex and violence and
for the implied, underlying subject matter.
"This is taking too damn long. What is going on? What's wrong?" The accent he had been trying for so long to be rid of infused his voice with a richness that was at once incredibly sensual and terrifyingly dangerous.
"Ivan, relax. You worry too much."
"Ivan!" he corrected, irritated, stretching out the vowel as a long 'ah' sound. "I've told you many, many times – I will begin to think you do it deliberately to annoy me."
He squared up to the man, drawing himself up to his full height and the other man swallowed and backed up a step.
"You do not want to do that, my friend." He knew the other man, Matt Russell, and his companions had witnessed his temper and had been astounded by it… shocked even, he surmised, because it had been a long time before any of them had dared to call him off. He had been forced to demonstrate early in their association that he was no push over, and that he was just as serious as they in their plans and schemes.
"You still worry too much," said another member of the small group.
Gareth Walsh was a terribly cruel man… especially with the girls run by the group leaders as "entertainment" for their business contacts.
Ivan frowned as Gareth approached a particularly attractive one of those girls. She hadn't been with the group long… less time than he had as a matter of fact. He'd known from the beginning, from the moment he had laid eyes on her that she was terrified, young and, more interesting to him, inexperienced. He had immediately taken her for himself, guarding her jealously from the others, challenging any that even looked at her. Yet now, Gareth was sniffing round her as though she were in heat.
"Hey!" he called out sharply, glaring at the man until he took his hand off her thigh.
"Gyere ide," he instructed the girl and held out his hand to her. He knew she would understand. He had said it to her often enough that by now she would know to go to him when he barked those words. She looked fearfully between him and Gareth, but then complied.
He closed his fingers round her wrist to draw her in to his side, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. He dipped his head to plant a kiss on the side of hers, beside her temple, his eyes never leaving Gareth's. She whimpered and he tightened his arm still further.
"I thought I told you," he growled. "The girl is mine."
Gareth held up his hand in surrender. "Hey man, just…"
Ivan cut him off with another ice-cold stare.
"She belongs… to me," he repeated and drew her in front of him, wrapping both arms across her chest.
She made a small sound as he pulled her closer to underline his words and shuddered against him. He curled his fingers tighter around her shoulders, pushing aside a flash of remorse than ran through him.
"If I decide I am bored with her company," the fingers of his right hand lifted away from her left shoulder to frame her face and pass a light caress through her hair, "I will let you know."
Sensing the man was still a little resistant, he made the caress into a grip in her hair and pulled her head back until he could press a hot and obviously wet, possessive kiss against the side of her neck.
"Jesus man, you don't need to prove it to us!" Gareth snapped and turned away. "It was just a bit of fun."
Ivan would have answered, except that Greg, the fourth member of their team came racing back from his position, where they had left him to guard the exits and entrances of the club.
"OUT," he yelled. "Out now… we were set up!"
Instinctively, Ivan drew his weapon and flipped off the safety, once more shifting his grip on the girl, to hold her now hostage style, as the two others kicked down the door to the room where the meeting was taking place. They shouted almost in panic to their two bosses as the sounds of sirens became louder, bringing policed down on their position.
"Who the hell…?" Ivan snapped.
He brought his gaze up to the leader of the operation, the suited man, ex-military, ex NSA, who met his furious glare with equal strength.
Ex nothing, he thought. The man knew things that were fare too current to be 'ex.' either that or he had a man on the inside.
"You have a problem, Ivan?" the man asked him, raising an eyebrow.
"When I do," he answered in an uncompromising tone. "You'll be the first to know."
He let go of the girl long enough to slide back the chamber housing, and prime the gun.
"Right now, I suggest we leave."
She struggled in his arms, and jumped each time the gun went off or a shot impacted the car they hid behind. He held her close… he didn't want her getting hurt. He was sure she would have screamed except for the fact that he had his hand over her mouth.
Deciding to make a run for his target, he half carried, half dragged her with him toward the back of a squad car. She would be safe there. It was a risk, but…
"I need you to listen to me very carefully," he said, his voice almost, but not quite free of the accent and gentle – more gentle than before, but still firm. She met his eyes. Hers were tearful and confused. "I'm let…"
"Hey, Ivan!" Matt yelled from the half opened doorway of their getaway vehicle.
He sighed, and closed his eyes for a second, leaning against he cold metal of the squad car.
"What the hell are you doing?" Greg joined Matt at the van door.
"Leaving them a message," he answered quickly, the accent now returned. Raising his gun toward the girl's head he opened the rear door of the squad car.
"We don't have time for that," Matt snapped. "Come on!"
Shifting his grip once more on the girl, he dragged her, dodging gunfire, toward the vehicle, throwing both the girl and himself into it as it began to move.
"And you want me to authorise what?" Bloom laced his fingers together, letting the photograph fall to the desktop.
"Look," the commander of the taskforce said. "I have teams standing by, waiting on my word. We can finish this in less than ten. Face it Paul, the man's gone bad and we need to take him out, and shut his team down."
"I don't know." The justice department boss shook his head and frowned. A year ago he would have been happy to shut down that particular SOG, but now… with their solve rate… and after flushing out top ranking criminal elements such as Quiller – a presidential aide that had been selling arms for God's sake – he was more than a little reluctant. "You don't know what you're asking."
"Take… another look at the photograph." The commander nudged the glossy black and white print as he leaned over Bloom's desk. "In the middle of a gun battle, Paul…"
He picked up the photo and lowered his eyes to the shiny surface. The eyes that stared back at him, dark and familiar, that often glared at him from just where the commander now stood, were full of hate and rage. The handsome face, mouth framed by a neatly trimmed goatee beard was contorted into a dangerous expression of murder, but the most disturbing point of all, the gun held to a girl's head. She couldn't have been more than seventeen years old.
He sighed heavily, and closed his eyes.
"Do it," he said softly.
A dull thud, followed by a terrifying scream made Saran sprint from the kitchen to the lounge where Alethea was playing with her toys in the playpen.
She screamed herself – though not of fear – when she set eyes on the squad of black clad, armed men surging into her living room, rifles pointing in all directions at once. Her scream was one of protective denial to the officer that was even now, moving toward her child.
"No!" she yelled.
"Down on the ground!" instructions were repeated at her from several quarters. "Down on the ground now!"
"You touch my daughter and I'll kill you, you son-of-a- bitch!" She ignored all of the shouts, intent only on getting to her daughter before the officer did. The many months with Frank Donovan… as his wife, lent her the strength to act as she did.
She didn't make it. Half way across the room she was grabbed by a member of the SWAT team and forced, somewhat more roughly than necessary to her knees, and then face down on the carpeted floor.
"Let me go!" she fought like the proverbial tigress. A mother protective her cub as the man finally lifted Alethea from her playpen, and handed her to a woman she hadn't even noticed before, quite obviously a social worker.
"Mamma!" Alethea screamed and reached out toward her, throwing herself almost rigid and straight backed against the social workers body.
"You're scaring her!" she tried to get up, but the SWAT member had his knee in the small of her back.
"LET HER GO!" She struggled frantically, fighting with the officer that tried to cuff her as the woman started to carry her daughter away.
"She'll be quite safe, Mrs Donovan," the team commander, the man that had first touched her daughter told her. "Co-operate with us, and it will just be a temporary measure."
She met his eyes then, they were cold, and hard and calculating.
"Go through it again," Monica asked, as frustrated as the rest of the team, as they all started at the huge piece of paper in the middle of the table.
It had been three months since Donovan had disappeared, and they were still no closer to finding him than they had been, and they had been more than busy with their current case load, and having no leader – refusing Bloom's offer of a temporary replacement…
"I don't know what else I can say," snapped Cody, "than I haven't already said. He came in. He asked if I was okay. He gave me the tape and then he left."
"Tape?" Jake asked.
"Backup of his pc." Cody sighed. "And I've already checked it."
He virtually threw up his hands, meeting her gaze before she could ask him the question that was at the tip of her tongue.
"There's nothing there Monica," he said, "But a load of boring case reports and appointment calendars. I've checked hidden, read only… everything."
"There must be something we can…"
She was interrupted as the door exploded inward. And together with Jake, and Alex she drew her weapon as Cody went for the server keyboard and typed… "FDISK…"
"Don't execute that command!" the voice rang out like a shot, followed by others instructing them to drop their weapons and get down on the ground.
Monica smiled as she did as she was told, putting her gun slowly on the table top and lowering herself to her knees. The speed that Cody typed, he would have hit 'enter' even before the man had finished the word, "don't."
"Ooops, too slow," Cody said, and was rewarded with a rifle butt in the small of his back that drove him, crying out, to his knees.
"Hey!" Jake called out at the man who had done it, struggling slightly with the officer that was trying to cuff him.
"What the hell is going on?" Alex asked as she was hauled to her feet.
"Where are the backups?" A suited man crouched beside the still winded Cody and forced his head back.
Monica winced as her arm was pulled roughly behind her back and she too was cuffed and pulled to her feet. This was brutality…
"The safe," Cody gasped.
He looked up and met her eyes and she saw his fear. She shook her head almost imperceptibly in his direction, trying to tell him he'd be okay. The man nodded to another of the officers, and they set about blowing the safe.
"I asked someone a question," Alex repeated, drawing Monica's gaze away from Cody as she did. "What's going on?"
"As of thirty minutes ago," The suited man turned his attention in her direction, pausing only to allow the sound of the plastic blowing the safe door off its hinges to die away. "This unit is shut down."
"What!" Jake interrupted.
"You'll all be debriefed, and if appropriate, reassigned," he continued. "But that will be a matter for the discretion of OPR."
"What the hell does this have to do with OPR?" Monica found her voice again, still trying to crane her neck to check that Cody was okay.
"You're boss has lost it," Sneered one of the SWAT team. "Gone bad…"
"Fuck you!" Jake snapped in disbelief.
"Excuse me?" Monica ignored the outburst and addressed the man in the suit.
"I'm sorry Agent Davis," he said. "But we do have very good reason to believe that Frank Donovan is… no longer the man that you all believe him to be. And we expect your full cooperation in getting to the bottom of this."
"To stitch him up, you mean," Cody said quietly, but his voice was heard and he received another numbing blow to the small of his back. He hissed in pain, losing all of his breath, and if he hadn't been held up, Monica was sure that he would have fallen again.
"Fuck!" he hissed as he regained the capacity for speech and breathing.
She blinked in shock. It was, she thought, the first time she'd heard
him say anything harsher than "damn."