Chapter One - Kidnapping
A/N: Right, so I was talking with my co-writer, Renegade Vic, and we both agreed that the events in the Trap House could have potentially been altered for the better...along with most of the storyline of the SAW movies in general :P So, we've put our effort into creating 'Ties That Bind', our take on the franchise during and beyond Saw II...with a couple of OCs of course :) Hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoyed writing!
There were two things Mike became aware of on waking up- the first, that he was not on his couch in his apartment, as he had been when he had passed out earlier, and the second, that he had been drugged. The headache was proof enough for that.
Make it three things. The familiar weight of his switchblade was gone- someone had decided he wouldn't be needing it. The fact that someone had taken that into consideration meant, in all likelihood, that he would be needing it very much, very soon.
"The fuck…where am…" he mumbled, rising onto his hands and knees and looking around blearily. He was in a room somewhere, with a large safe standing in its center. The walls, yellowed and stained- probably equal parts humidity and various sources of smoke- had no windows- and one immensely large, metal door. It didn't look like it belonged with the rest of the room.
Four things. He wasn't alone- there were several others in the room, still unconscious. Mike forced himself to ignore the pounding in the back of his skull- a pounding worse than any hangover he had ever experienced- and rise to his feet. Immediately, he wished he hadn't; the sudden rush of blood through his body dazed him. Head rushes had always been brutal.
Nine other people. Four girls, five guys- six counting himself. Most of them looked older than he was; two looked his own age, and one was definitely younger by a couple of years.
Inhaling heavily, Ava decided that she was going to make her roommate quit smoking whatever the hell it was he was doped up on half of the time. The room they shared smelled more shitty than usual and her patience was running at a dangerous, all time low as it often did these days. She didn't even know why she bothered with him anymore. The stupid goddamn stoner was completely out of it half the time.
As she moved to rip back the covers of her bed, she realized two things. One, she didn't usually sleep on the floor. And two, she hadn't been at her room when she fell asleep. Groggily, she rose to her knees, her head heavy and her vision blurred.
"What the…the fuck…where am I?"
She struggled to her feet, adrenaline suddenly pumping through her system as her heart thumped in her chest. Another person across the room. Male. Probably older than she was, and certainly taller. There were others lying around them. She couldn't tell if they were breathing or not…
"Who the fuck are you?! What the fuck am I doing here?"
Ava's voice had risen several octaves on its own and she barely noticed it. Stumbling back, she collided heavily with the wall of…wherever it is she was, some of the paint coming away and sticking to her arms. She jumped away from it, brushing it off.
"Jesus, fuck!" she hissed, bits of flaky white sticking to her fingers.
"You think I know? I just woke up here…same as you," Mike replied, wincing as Ava's voice cut through the silence like a razor. "Mind keepin' your voice down a bit? In case the situation doesn't make it kind of obvious…we got drugged. Feels like a mosh pit is goin' on in my head, with everyone in it drunk on Jim Beam." The metaphor was too wordy- he realized it after he said it, but it was the closest fit to describe the dull agony that flared in the back of his skull with every beat of his pulse.
It was worse than when he had gotten into that fight with Jericho, after the fucker had wedged his riced-out Dodge into an alleyway, trying to take a shortcut in that race last year. He had a reputation for fighting dirty- but Mike hadn't listened. The prize money was singing a siren song even louder than his G6's engine- and he had won it, fair and square. Jericho had disagreed…and so had his tire iron.
A thought came to Mike, fast and terrifying. What if Jericho, or some goon he had paid off, had dumped him off here? Were the others just a cover-up? It wouldn't be surprising.
Wait…no… The guy closest to the safe was Xavier Chavez. Jericho's personal dealer. Why would he be in here- and drugged like everyone else?
There would be time to figure it out later. Right now, all that really mattered was getting out.
"So, who are you, anyway?" he asked the only other conscious inhabitant of the room. "Normally I'd be a bit more social, but this whole 'waking up drugged, with nine total strangers' thing kinda overrules that." He pulled his hair back over his shoulders, silently grateful that whoever had put him here had at least had the courtesy to leave his elastic hair-tie on his wrist. Shoulder-length hair got a lot of the rocker- and racer- girls turning their heads…but it was hell in the garage, sometimes.
Ava's upper lip curled as she looked the only other conscious occupant of the room up and down. Shoulder-length hair, jeans, band T-shirt…probably some heavy metal rocker that she'd had the fortune to pass over in her time at school, or some street druggie, she didn't know or care at this point.
As a teenager and well into her early adulthood, Ava had kept only certain company that consisted of respected members of society that appreciated her more than any other social circles usually would. Most people said she had a sort of superiority complex when she was around other people that she deemed worthy of her attentions, which was ridiculous really. But right now, whoever she might have been with didn't enter into the equation.
Whoever this man was, she had woken up in a room with him and these other people and there was no point in making enemies so early on. If they were in a kidnapping situation, it was probably better to make as many 'friends' as possible. And Ava had always been proud of her sense of etiquette.
"Ava…Ava Sullivan," she said, inhaling heavily as the hysteria that had rushed through her system not two minutes earlier dulled down to a mild pulse that allowed her to both calm herself and begin to wrap her head around the situation, whatever this…situation might have been. Her knees still felt weak and she was shaking, but at least her mind was clearer. "You?"
"Mike King…well, depends on who you ask," Mike replied, "sometimes I'm Mike, sometimes I'm 'that fuckin' maniac at three in the morning,' but that's only on race days."
Ava…he'd seen her somewhere before. It was tough to place where that somewhere had been, exactly- she didn't seem like she would appreciate his 'sport,' or the music that the band he had gotten into a few months ago created. Then again, not very many people did seem to appreciate Ripjack. He'd given Adam most of their fliers a while back, but that lazy sack of meat had probably just used them to patch the holes in his improvised 'dark room.' He was a good guy, yeah, but way too obsessed with his camera. It was going to get him in trouble some day…
Come to think of it, no one had heard from Adam in a while. He had been talking nonstop about some easy job he'd gotten, not too long before he dropped off the radar. Maybe someone got tired of him and set him up? It wasn't a fun thought, but it was hard not to expect that from this city.
The others were starting to move around- at least, most of them. The girl by the bricked-up fireplace- she was actually kinda good-looking, even though she looked like she'd gotten ambushed in her sleep too- was silent and unmoving, and the guy with the shaved head, over in the corner, was just as still.
"What the fuck is this?" Xavier's voice was instantly familiar; Mike had to suppress the urge to cringe. They had never really crossed paths in any significant way, but he had heard horror stories about the drug dealer from Dave and Mira. Apparently Dave had once had a buddy that had been slow to pay up, and Xavier had gotten his hands on him. Apparently. Dave was always the 'guy who knew a guy' when it came to urban legends.
"I dunno. We just woke up here, too…"
Ava instantly knew that she didn't like the muscular Latino and took a few steps back purely out of instinct, trying to put as much distance between herself and the much larger man who looked uncannily bear-like.
"Oh god…oh god…please…"
She glanced down and saw a young woman, not much older than she was clutching her long blonde hair in fear, her wide blue eyes bulging with terror and confusion. "Oh, god, where am I?!"
She was on the verge of a panic and was shaking. And to be frank, Ava didn't blame her. She'd felt exactly the same way a few minutes ago.
"We don't know yet. We just woke up here." She couldn't keep the bored tone out of her voice. Judging by how many people were still unconscious, it wasn't going to be the last time either she or Mike had to give the 'explanation', such as it was.
She doubted that Xavier had enough brain cells to string two sentences together intelligibly. He struck her as more the hired help than anything else, her initial impression made clearer by the tattoo on his bicep. Prison ink. She could recognize it a mile away.
"Try waking the rest up," she said sharply to Mike. "We need to figure out why the fuck it is we're all here, alright?"
She ran a hand through her hair, a few dark strands getting caught in her fingers as she did so.
What the hell had she done to deserve this bullshit? Kidnapped and thrown into a room with a band rocker and a prison bunker, and probably more to come? If she didn't know any better, she'd guess the blonde was a hooker of some kind, an occupation probably shared by the brunette in the pink halter.
Without a word to Ava, Mike nodded in her general direction and busied himself with the nearest of the room's occupants.
"Hey, c'mon- wake up, man. We gotta get everyone up and get the fuck out of here." It wasn't panic, exactly, that Mike was feeling- he knew what panic was. Panic was riding shotgun with Jake in his Toyota when the brakes decided to lock. Panic was staring down Jericho with a tire iron. This was more…urgency. Whatever was going on, there had to be a way out. There just had to be.
The kid- he really couldn't have been more than seventeen or maybe eighteen, now that Mike got a look at his face up close- stirred, blinking awake and jerking himself to a standing position almost immediately. "What…what the fuck?"
"Yeah. My reaction too, kid. Just chill out for a second, panicking isn't gonna help anyone. Deep breaths," he suppressed a chuckle as the sandy-haired youth winced at the room's distinctive odor. "Yeah, smells like retirement home ass, I thought so too. You get used to it though. The headache's the real bitch, though. Just get your bearings and help me wake everyone else up, huh?"
He looked kind of familiar, too, come to think of it. At least, his facial structure in general did. Was he that same kid who had tagged Isaac's car?
Nah. Couldn't be. He had darker hair.
The brunette in pink was next-closest- and she was already waking up when Mike got to her. She didn't look scared as much as she did confused- that was good. She might be able to figure something out, if push came to shove.
"Hey. You feelin' all right?" he asked, extending a gloved hand to her, which she took, rising unsteadily against the wall with Mike's help.
"Y-yeah. What the fuck is going on here? Wait a sec- Mike?!"
Addison. It had been months…and months hadn't been nearly long enough. Their relationship, if it could even have been called that, had never been 'on the rocks'- that would have implied that it had ever not been so. They'd met at a concert, had a couple of drinks, went home together- and found out the next morning that the vodka hadn't skewed either of their taste too much. Two weeks later, he found out she was a junkie. Mostly coke, but she admitted to trying heroin and liking it. Mira had warned him not to get too involved, that Addison would just leech him dry and leave him- but Mike had chosen not to listen to his friend, even though she was constantly right and knew it, and Addison had indeed bled his winnings away like they had somewhere they needed to go.
"Oh, fuck…Addison, look. Shit is shit is shit, and right now, we're neck deep in it. So I suggest we put our shit aside, and deal with this other shit now, and go our separate ways. Catch on?"
Upon seeing Mike and the brunette, whom she now knew was called Addison, interact, Ava reflected on the other occupants of the room, aside from the blonde that had since backed into a corner and crossed her arms tightly over her chest. Her panic-attack was in full swing by now and she looked paler in the face than she had done a few moments ago.
"Hey, what's your name?" Ava shot at her, her voice a cross between business and compassion, an odd blend that she only just managed to pull off.
The blonde blinked, almost like she hadn't heard the question.
"I'm…Laura…" She'd paused before speaking, almost as if she'd actually forgotten her own name in her near frenzied state. Ava had seen this type of behaviour before. Another minute and she'd be freaking out in the worst possible way.
"Okay, Laura. Just take a few deep breaths and try and calm down--"
"Calm down!?" Laura cried. "Just how the fuck am I meant to calm down!" She turned to the wall behind her and seemed to contemplate actually clawing at it. "SOMEBODY HELP!!"
"That's not gonna fucking do anything," Ava snapped, her patience running thin. "Whoever put us here obviously factored in the possibility of us screaming for help."
"Whoever put us here?" Laura looked more scared at the thought. Ava was reminded briefly of Brian, her younger half-brother, who had that very expression permanently fixed on his face. The boy had had a spine made of balsa wood.
"Yeah. Somehow I don't think this was just some wild rave party, do you?"
Truth be told, Ava hadn't actually ever been to a rave. She'd heard about them and seen them, but never bothered to attend. The one time she had received an invite, she'd been too fixated on her work. Lawrence had promised her a raise and she had been determined to prove to him that she deserved it.
By the time he had turned around to tend to the next of the room's new 'inhabitants,' all of them except the dark-haired girl in the blue had come to of their own accord. If the rest of them were any indicator, she'd be waking up in the next few moments as well; better to turn their attention to the room itself, and check on her if she didn't get up in the next few minutes.
Xavier was already trying the door- trying to push it open, or pull it off its hinges. The whole effort looked more like he was trying to violate the keyhole, though; Mike could barely stop a smirk from spreading across his face, despite the situation.
"Okay, something fucked-up is goin' on here, and I wanna know what all of you know." The African man- he was definitely older than Mike, but not middle-aged yet, either- had definitely come to his full senses faster than most of the others. He was asking the right questions, now that Mike took his words into consideration.
"I've got nothin'. Had a couple of drinks, popped in some old movie, passed out in my living room- woke up in this shithole," Mike responded, sizing up his fellow thinker. This guy looked like he had been around for a while- seen things most people didn't, and learned from them. He didn't look like a psychopath, either- Xavier had that particular act down in spades.
"Yeah, that's about all I've got, too. How about you?"
Ava shook her head, racking her brains in an attempt to recall the last few hours, which had become mysteriously fuzzy and distorted. Odd.
"I don't remember much. I think I was heading home from…from the library, I think. That's all I got."
A particularly loud grunt made her jump as Xavier continued in his attempt to rip the door off its hinges, either out of insanity or desperation. She didn't want to find out. The man was clearly not in his right mind if all he could think of was escaping in such a brutal way. She didn't know for sure, but she had an inkling that whoever put them here would have thought of making the door strong enough to withstand the assault of a fully grown man. Not that she'd ever say that aloud. From what she'd seen of him, he was sure he'd take out his frustrations on her, which was something she'd prefer to avoid.
She glanced over to Laura.
"What about you? How'd you get here?"
The blonde shook her head, eyes wild.
"Don't know…I…I don't remember…"
Ava was struck by a nearly overwhelming need for a cigarette, which she chalked up to the smell of the house around her, and began to pace the length of the room, muttering to herself and nearly tripping over the one of the other unconscious people, a woman. She didn't stir.
"Well, remember if you can, all right? Anything helps." Mike began to press on the wall, wandering around the room's boundaries, testing the wall as he went. Two of the walls- the one across from the door, and the one to Mike's right when he had woken up- sounded solid, like nothing but brick lay behind them. It made sense, considering the fireplace…but there was definitely a room on the opposite side. There wasn't much to use if they wanted to break through the wall- but if he could get the idea into Xavier's head, Mike had few doubts that the walking tank of a man would bash his way through with his own body, if he had to.
Assuming he didn't use someone else's body, anyway.
"I was out…walking." Addison began, hesitation obvious in her voice. "Someone grabbed me…I dunno who. Grabbed me from behind and pulled me back." She sounded close to tears; Mike had heard that particular tone in her voice before, when he had refused to give her money to fuel her addictions.
"All right, so what we know is some fuck's grabbin' people and knocking them out, and bringin' them back here," Jonas muttered, adjusting the shoulders of his jacket. "It's a start. How about you, man?" Xavier turned to face him, faint beads of sweat evident on his brow.
"Just got done at work. Next thing I know- I'm here."
Work, he says. Sellin' drugs isn't work, Mike wanted to say, despite his knowledge of what Xavier would do to him if he did say anything.
"Okay, so we've established that we're all either fuzzy on what happened or we got grabbed and drugged. Certainly clears up how we got brought here without noticing, but other than that, it accomplishes nothing! This isn't fucking helping!" Ava snapped, kicking the wall with the toe of her boot in agitation, her blood simmering.
"There's not much else…we can do…" Laura's voice was quiet, almost silent. She really wasn't much for 'public speaking' or even just drawing attention to herself. The blonde was basically just a wallflower.
"Thank you for that, Laura," Ava replied, her tone close to scathing as she attempted to remain calm. Getting pissed wasn't going to help the situation any. "I think we've figured that out by now."
She resumed her pacing, now biting into her bottom lip and taking care not to step on anyone else.
"What about you, kid?" she shot at the teenage boy, who was sitting in the corner of the room with his face against his knees. "You remember anything?"
He shook his head once.
Ava threw up her hands in exasperation.
"Great. That's perfect. Basically everyone is totally fucking ignorant of how they got here. There goes any possible chance we had for figuring out why the fuck we're here in the first place, doesn't it?"
Mike raised an eyebrow at Ava's miniature meltdown, trying desperately to resist the urge to comment on her lack of composure- and ultimately failing.
"So quick to just up and toss any kind of talking out the window, aren't we?" He chuckled, gesturing to the room with open arms. "Christ. You're the people person here. C'mon, Ava- battle plans! If some sick fuck's got us all holed up in a room like this, either they'll be coming back, or there's something we're missing in this room itself." He tapped on the safe, then spun the dial a few times for good measure.
"What's in the safe? Seems like it wouldn't just 'be here.' Anyone got a safe at home?" The others shook their heads or offered no comment. "You don't just 'have' a safe. You put things in 'em- important things. Whatever's in here probably needs getting out."
"Yeah, that's good, I like how you're thinkin'," Jonas responded, kneeling next to the safe as well. "Anyone know how to crack a safe?"
"Battle plans? Safe cracking? Do you have any idea how insane you sound?" Ava demanded. "Look, we've been 'holed up' in here with no explanation as to why or how. Exactly what is there to be gained by trying to open up a safe with god knows what inside it. You said it's meant to keep important things, what if there's something dangerous in there? Have you considered that?"
"If there was something dangerous in there, don't you think the psycho would've made it easy to open the fucking thing?" Addison shot at her.
Unable to come up with a decent response, Ava contented herself with a glare in the other woman's direction, folding her arms across her chest and saying no more.
Addison, happy with her victory, smirked at Ava.
"Some 'people person' you are," she sneered.
Annoyed, Ava rolled her eyes, holding back the powerful urge to permanently change the angle of the bitch's nose in the most painful way she knew how.
"Can we not?" The teen in the corner said weakly. "Fighting's not gonna help either."
"The kid's right, we need to back off each other and focus on getting our shit together. What's your name, anyway?" Mike asked, glancing toward the youth inquisitively. Kill the Gods, huh? He had good taste in music.
"Daniel…" he replied, shrinking further into the corner, if that were physically possible.
"Good. And yeah, I know I sound crazy, but if some crazy shit starts happening, it's how I rationalize. Make a plan, figure out what the fuck is doing whatever is crazy. Fight it. Beat it. Overcome it. You get what I'm saying?" Mike turned back to Ava, taking a half-step in her direction.
"Look. I get you're freaked out, I am too. I guess this kind of thing gets people off on the wrong foot…wouldn't know, but I guess. Always seems that way in the movies, and then people don't work together, and whatever the fuck the psycho-killer has in store work, 'cause no one trusts anyone, or even wants to work with 'em. Night of the Living Dead, classic example." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Daniel nod in silent approval. Good, the kid knew Romero. There was hope yet.
"Yeah…I watched this movie on TV last week, this guy was a reporter in a war zone, right? He falls asleep in his hotel room, and then he wakes up, he's in a cell…no windows or light," the until-now silent man in the white shirt added, his voice rising to a frantic pitch.
"Keep your over the top, pedantic bullshit to yourself," Ava snarled, rubbing her arms in order to warm herself up somewhat, as the room seemed to have dropped about ten degrees and she was freezing. "Last thing we fucking need is a worse case scenario, asshole, because clearly you're never been drunk and woken up somewhere."
"I've been drunk, I spent three years in college," the guy snapped back, running a hand across his hair, which was already slick with sweat. "Drunk…this isn't drunk. This is kidnapping."