Chapter Sixteen: Caught
He loved it when a plan came together.
Jacob Haskell held himself steady against the wind of the rotor blades and watched as the helicopters touched down softly, its door opening and disgorging first one, then two, then fifteen MPs. The men flooded the helipad and ran to designated spots to line themselves up in neat rows and wait for orders. The precision and training of the military never ceased to impress or amaze him. It seemed that with a machine this strong, nothing could ever stop it. That bolstered his hope that everything was going to turn out all right.
He straightened his shoulders as a gentleman with a fierce gaze and a woman in a smart-looking uniform clicked out of the helicopter and stepped towards him. His eyes lingered on the woman. She had the under-pressure beauty of a maple leaf dipped in silver - untouchable but breathtaking.
"Special Agent Jacob Haskell?" The man had all the sharpness of an eagle for his good looks, but his voice was smooth and even gentle. Much like the accent Haskell had tried to adapt with Teresa Kelly.
"At your service," he replied, holding out his hand.
The man shook it, short but firm. "Director Joshua McCready, DCIS." Nodding to the woman, he added: "Captain Charissa Sosa. We understand you've found four of our missing fugitives."
Haskell gave a short nod. "My contact has assured me that they're sitting in a mansion in Malibu as we speak." Well, that was the last known news Miss Kelly had given him before she'd taken the pin off of her shirt and turned traitor on him, but he had no reason to believe any different.
"Well, let's go and collect them. Once they're safely in our custody, we will present you with the reward money for catching them."
Haskell tried not to show his excitement at this prospect. Even after he received the money, he still had a long way to go before this whole mess was finally over.
Jess Teegan was pretty sure she was hearing things as she continued to try and unlock her car. She really needed to get the battery changed in the stupid remote - it no longer turned on the car from the other side of the parking garage. Now she had to be almost inside the thing before it sparked into action. Add the failing light and the near-certainty that someone else was in the parking garage with her, and she was creating her own little horror movie set. Where else but in Los Angeles...?
The voice was a strong whisper, coming from the front of her car. Now that was just unsettling. Slipping her hand down to the gun, Jess slowly clicked by the drivers' side door, heading for the front. "Who's there?" she asked strongly.
"Sssh! Jess, it's me!"
Slowly, two hands rose into the air in front of her car, followed by the dusty and dirty face of Teresa Kelly. Jess pulled her hand away from her gun immediately, her mouth dropping open. "Tessa?" she asked, her voice dropping automatically. "Tessa, what are you doing here? Why aren't you with the men?"
"Where's Agent Haskell?"
Jess shot a look around, though she knew perfectly well where Jacob was. "He left about an hour ago to go home. He said he had a family emergency. Tessa, you should be with Colonel Smith and the others. All the protection in the world will do you no good if you don't take it. Get in the car, I'll take you back. You'll have to tell me the way..."
"Follow Agent Haskell."
Jess paused. "What?"
Tessa dropped her hands. "I'm not with the men because I betrayed them, Jess. Agent Haskell told me that the modeling agency story was just a sham and the real threat was those four men. He gave me a camera and told me to go with them. I showed him the way to their house and now he knows where they are. I think he's going to try and capture them, and it's all my fault and we have to stop him!"
Jess blinked, trying to absorb the information. It was a little unethical that Haskell would have told Tessa the trafficking ring was a fiction and that was something she would have to ask him next time she saw him. But the camera made perfect sense to her. Haskell had wanted to keep an extra eye on Tessa. There wasn't anything wrong with that. Tessa seemed to be seeing herself as causing all of these problems when in reality it was just the nature of the job.
"Tessa, he wanted to keep an eye on you."
"Then why would he lie to me?"
"I don't know."
"Did he tell you he was going to lie to me?"
"Why?" Tessa came around the car and Jess could see she was covered in dirt and leaves, as though she'd been running and hiding a lot. "Why wouldn't he tell his own partner that he was changing the rules of the mission?"
"I don't know."
"There's a lot you don't know, isn't there, Agent Teegan?"
Jess bristled. "Tessa," she said sharply, "there's a lot you don't know either and a lot you're choosing to ignore. You are in danger right now, even just standing here talking to me. The A-Team are the ones we hired to keep you safe, and if we have to watch them as well as you, then we'll do that. Now get in the car and tell me how to get to their mansion."
Tessa stared at her, her face falling. Softly, steadily, she said: "Jess...no matter how wanted the A-Team is, Agent Haskell still has an agenda he's not telling anyone about, and I helped him with it because I told him where the A-Team was." She pointed at Jess's waist. "Call him. Tell him you wanted to make sure his family is doing okay. And if they are, you have to stop him. Those men saved my life."
Jess was ready to put the girl at gunpoint and force her into the car, but Tessa's change of tone made her stop and think for just one more second. And then she remembered two days ago, when Tessa had re-entered the hospital room after a debriefing with Jacob. Her face had been pinched, white, almost terrified. Jess had dismissed it as stress and panic from the mission. But joined with her conviction about Jacob now, Jess slowly began to realize that Tessa was honestly afraid of him. And...maybe she had a reason to be.
"Get in the car," Jess said, pulling out her phone. Tessa did, slipping into the passenger seat. Jess turned away from the car so Tessa wouldn't read her lips, and dialed Jacob's number.
A woman's voice answered. "H-Hello? Jake?" She was crying, her voice shaking violently. "Jake, is that you?"
"Is this Mrs. Haskell?" Jess asked, troubled. It sounded like she'd accidentally called a funeral. But at the same time a little alarm went off in her head. Why did the woman sound like she didn't know where Jacob was?
"Y-yes...who is this?"
"This is Special Agent Jessica Teegan."
"Special Agent..." the woman broke into sobs for a few moments, then regained control, "you work with Jake, don't you?"
"Yes ma'am, I do."
"Please, Special Agent...have you found her yet?"
Jess blinked. "Found who?"
The woman's voice turned to incredulous. "What do you mean, found who? Harmony! Have you found Harmony?"
Jess turned back to the car to give Tessa a shocked look.
Tessa was gone.
Everyone began talking at once.
"B.A., did she say anything to you?"
"Where did she go?"
"Everyone, back inside!"
"Bosco, help me!"
The four men shoved their way back into the living room, B.A. and Face pushing a struggling Murdock onto the couch. Murdock was having none of it, sitting back up and trying to get to his feet. "Bossman, we have to go after her," he said, his voice laced with frustration and panic. B.A. pulled him back down and Face shook his head.
"We will, Murdock," Hannibal said. "But we can't all go at once and all together like this. We need to figure out where she could have gone.'
"There's no time for that!"
"B.A," Hannibal's voice had deepened with his own brand of frustration, but he kept it checked and under control. "What did she say to you?"
"Nothing outside." B.A. thought furiously. "I saw her sitting in the study and I asked her if she was all right. She said things had gotten...complicated. I don't know what she meant by that, but she said things had gotten complicated and...she needed to leave."
"She said that?" Face asked. "And you didn't tell us?"
"She just said it before we headed outside!" B.A. shot back. "There wasn't any time to tell you!"
"And you left her alone out there," Murdock said.
"I was just getting her a punching bag." B.A. bristled. "She was upset and she wasn't listenin'. I was gettin' her something to hit before she attacked me again!"
"But you left her alone!"
"Cool it, Murdock!" Hannibal snapped. "B.A. says she was upset before he even spoke to her. Which means it was something to do with you and Face. Were you watching something on television that upset her? What were you talking about? Why did she get upset enough to describe things as being 'complicated' and then decide to run?"
"I have no idea," Murdock said through clenched teeth. "All I did while Face was in the kitchen was ask her if she liked peanuts. She said yes."
Hannibal looked at Face, who stared back at him and shook his head. "Hannibal," he said, "I have no idea what happened. Women have mood swings, and you know how upset Tessa's been about this whole thing. Maybe she had a relapse. She was fine when I went into the kitchen. When I came back out, she was quiet. She said she had to go to the bathroom and left. I asked Murdock what was wrong and he said nothing. We waited for her to come back, and when she did she had B.A. with her. That's as much as I know."
Hannibal continued to stare, and Face knew the story wasn't good enough. The only one who could really bullshit Hannibal Smith was Murdock. He swallowed and tried to hold the gaze.
A knock on the door first broke the tension, then added to it. Murdock tried to get up again, but B.A. held him down. Face and Hannibal headed for the door, and at the last moment Hannibal stepped to the side, hiding with a nod to Face.
Face opened the door.
His mouth dropped.
Charissa Sosa mouthed: "Face...run."
And then the military police came up behind her, all aiming fully loaded and fully cocked guns directly at him.
Happy Holidays! Five months, 78 pages, and 43,204 words later, Poker Face Part One is finally complete! On to part two! :D
Seriously though, I want to extend personal thanks to everyone who has stayed with me through this entire story. HeartMurdock345, InsideYourDreams24, Dr. Spleenmeister, and RandomRiter - I couldn't have done it without you. I know the story isn't officially over, but even completing part one is enormous for me, as I haven't completed a novel-length fanfiction story in over 4 years.
I want to give a special shout out to evie doodle. I haven't seen you finish your story and I wish you would - because you are the one who inspired me to write this. I never thought it would get this far, and I have you to thank for it.
I do of course continue to ask for reviews, and I hope to see you all at the dawn of part two. Are you can see - it's going to be intense!
Much love and thanks,