Bright blue eyes snapped open in thick, solid blackness, darting around madly.
Katara's own breath echoed in her ears. She had steadied it in her fugue-plagued state of nightmarish disorientation so she wasn't hyperventilating, her eyes wild in the dark around her. She could feel, under her legs, the rough, damp mud of the ground beneath her, and then, beyond her own breathing, she heard the sound of another person's breath. She thought for a moment on how she was positioned; in her fugue she had been more concerned with what was around her. She was sitting, propped up against a wall of some kind.
She gave a grunt of displeasure, attempting to lift a hand to check her face for cuts. Thick, layered masking tape wound her hands together behind her back, all the way from wrist to wrist and around her hands, securing her hands in fists against one another; she couldn't even move her fingers in the tape. "Wha-?" she frowned in confusion, feeling sweat from the tape in the palms of her hands.
Katara looked around in the dark, trying to find the source of the other breaths in whatever space she was stuck. Her mind reeled and her head spun. She wondered if it was still night; it had to be, with the darkness gripping her relentlessly, inviting her to fall back asleep. Her eyes began to adjust to the dark, and she could see a dim light against wooden stairs leading upward. She tilted her head up hopefully; those stairs looked like an escape route.
A chill ran up her spine as the breaths broke into a sick, amused laugh. "Sleep well?" a voice spoke out in the dark; jagged, dark, perverse. It formed a knot in her stomach that made her want to rip herself open to get rid of. She felt her whole body ache for a hug from her father, or even a nasty word from Lydia Roberts, so she could leave this world and go back to some semblance of reality.
Katara felt her chest tighten, glancing around madly for the source of the voice. "Who are you? Show your face!" she yelled out, cursing the way her voice cracked as she cried out to the man in the dark. Her fingers would've trembled if they could. She felt her breathing waver, and her heart wrench in anxiety.
"Aw, my sweets … are you scared?" he asked, obviously getting some kind of twisted pleasure from her terror.
Katara's face twisted in horrified unease. Katara's mouth went dry and she swallowed to get rid of the feeling, but it did nothing. She felt her arms move to hug herself, but the tape restricting her arms and causing them to cramp kept them from it. "N- … no," she managed out in a tiny voice, just barely above a whisper. She felt the twisting knot in her stomach tighten as he began laughing again, this time more pleased than before. She felt her fingers trembling despite how tight the tape held them, and her lip beginning to tremble the same. The state of Jin Territa after her rescue filled her head, and she bit her bottom lip.
The laugh was sickening, like he got some warped sense of sexual excitement from her worry. "Didn't daddy ever tell you not to lie?"
Katara felt tears begin to well up in her eyes, and she dared them to fall, just so she could do something. She was completely helpless to save herself, and she felt sick at the realization that she might not have mad it out of this. She said nothing in reply, but drew up her knees, recognizing that her ankles and feet were bound the same as her hands, burying her face in her knees, desperately hoping that this was all just a dream borne out of worry.
The man stepped into the dim light and she could finally see his sick, pale grin, on oily, white skin, with brown eyes so twisted with perversion that they were almost scarlet red. Dark brown, greasy hair fell messily in front of his face, stubble all over his chin and above his mouth. Katara could dimly make out in the dark that he was wearing some kind of cloak, with the hood pushed back. She tried to grimace in disgust at the man, but the only expression she felt on her face was pure, unadulterated fear.
"Why so quiet? Don't tell me you're shy …" he drawled out in curious initiation.
Katara couldn't help but yell out in helpless, desperate anguish. "Fuck you! Let me out of here!"
There was a moment of silence in the echoes of her demand, where Katara saw the sick amusement on his face distort into outrage for a moment, before he fell into a placid, apathetic demeanor that Katara compared to the silent moments before the explosion of a bomb. "I'm afraid you're in no position to be making any demands," he turned his back to her, and she saw how he held his hands behind it; it was an upper-class thing, and she knew it by the way Zuko's father stalked around the mansion in a thick fog of concentration.
Katara was sure she heard the lyrics to one of her favorite songs echoing in the distance. They feltsomehow appropriate, like humming 'take me out to the ball park' at a baseball game, or singing 'auld lang syne' at Christmas.
'As my life flashes before my eyes …'
The man looked nothing like anyone with money. She wondered for a moment if he had taken her resentfully; because she had money and he didn't, but then reminded herself that Jin Territa had nearly no money at all. What Agent Jones had said was his 'MO' was clearly the dark, ethnic appearance she and Jin shared. Kelly had also explained to her that this probably was because he had unresolved issues with a woman with the same kind of appearance - most likely an ex-lover, possibly a domineering one who made him feel weak, cultivating a need for him to dominate girls of the same appearance. In other words, the guy was completely out of his fucking mind.
'I'm wondering 'will I, ever see another sunrise'?'
The man turned again, seeming to have been thinking throughout the time Katara had been, and met her eyes with narrowed ones. With a quick, sharp smirk, he spoke again. "You want to get out of here?" his voice was ice cold despite the half-smile of deviousness. "Fine."
He stepped toward her, leant down and grabbed her by the shirt, tugging so hard she was sure the whole thing would just tear away, but miraculously, he just pulled her to her feet; albeit nearly giving her a heart attack. She was surprised that he wasn't this violent monster that she had built him up as in her head; he was deliberate. He calculated all this. She figured that was the reason he wasn't already in prison. Not that she liked him - she just knew that once he got physical, there would be no stopping him.
'So many won't get the chance to say goodbye,'
Somewhat like Zuko, and Aang for that matter. Zuko didn't freak out much, but when he did, you knew you were supposed to listen, or you'd walk away with a limp. Except she knew for a fact her friends only punched inanimate objects around the place when they were angry. She knew she couldn't say the same for this man.
It was no consolation.
'But it's too late to think of the value of my life …'
The man leant down and grabbed her feet off the floor, remembering how her feet were bound, and roughly threw her over his shoulder, which stabbed into Katara's stomach, causing her to groan in discomfort. "Put me down!" she screamed at him, her voice a mixture of some kind of fury and some kind of horror. She didn't see it, but she knew his grin only grew. He intentionally jerked upward as he walked, forcing her to smash into his shoulder again and let out another grunt of pain.
She heard him unlock something metallic and slide it open; it reminded her of the prison bars at the local precinct, the one time she'd been arrested; for vandalism and underage drinking. This made her think of Zuko, who had been the one doing the actual vandalizing.
'And you can see my heart … beating. You can see it through my chest, that I'm terrified, but I'm not leaving …'
Katara yelped as her plastic-covered feet made contact with the ground and she nearly toppled on them, before the man in black grabbed her arm again and dragged her into the dark. He shoved her ahead of him and threw her into the blackness ahead of her. Katara made contact with a brick wall at the back of the darkness, her cheek and chest flat against it, with a loud smacking noise. She crumpled at the foot of the wall, biting back tears of pain. Only after the pain began to subside did she notice the fearful breaths around her and loud cry of an infant.
The man growled out in a low voice behind her. "Meet your future, Katara," he ground out his words, his teeth clenched together.
Katara allowed the tears to roll down her face, and she heard someone shushing at the sound of the crying infant.
The man in black spat at the ground and let out a furious grunt. "A smart girl like you should learn not to fuck with me."
'… I know that I must pass this test …'
Katara found herself wondering why the girls around her didn't yell back 'Well that's all you want to do with us!', but then she figured that they knew better. She supposed the man did have a sort of point; the intelligent thing to do in a situation like this was to go along, and she failed miserably at that. The baby nearby started screaming deafeningly and the shushing got more desperate.
"Will you shut that thing up?" that loud, vicious voice exploded again, and Katara knew he moved closer by human senses. She heard skin on skin. She had thought she was scared of Zuko's father once, but now she knew she hadn't been. She'd just been merely unnerved.
"No! Please!" there was a girl's voice, the same voice that had tried to shush the baby.
Katara turned her head from the wall and felt her heart tie itself into a knot she'd never felt before. She felt the contents of her stomach - her expensive dinner - rush back up her throat as the man in black hurled a crying lump of reddened flesh away, into the darkness.
The echo of the young mother's scream filled her ears as the wretched vomit of horror escaped Katara's lips. There was a deafening thump against brick, or wood, or concrete, or something, and what sounded like a gurgle, and then silence. Except for the mother's broken screams and filthy, hateful insults at the murderer before her, and Katara's stomach convulsing in her middle.
He was every bit the monster of her nightmare.
'So just pull the trigger.'
"Katara!" Zuko knocked the door again. "Please, can we just talk? I know you can hear me!" he pounded the door with his fist. It reminded him of Sokka pounding the door at his New Years' Party. "I understand if you don't want to see me, but I'm not here to recite from Romeo and Juliet! I'm here to tell you something fucking important!" Zuko growled out in annoyance. "Dammit, Katara!"
He knew someone was home - the lights were on in the upstairs hallway and Katara's en suite bathroom. Could she have gone to sleep? Zuko checked his Rolex, to see it was nearly one in the morning, but that didn't put him off. Maybe he was a little drunk, but no drunker than he had been at dinner. With an annoyed grunt, Zuko took the end of his tie and produced a paperclip from inside it, bending it into a lockpick. He let go of the tie and slipped the paperclip into the lock of the door and tinkered about for a moment, concentrating.
"For fuck's sake …" he muttered, clicking open the lock and smacking his hand down on the doorknob, turning it and pushing it open. He walked into the house and turned his head left, glancing into the kitchen. The light was on - Katara had probably left it like that on accident. She'd probably been drinking to stop thinking about his stupid, idiotic kiss. Zuko gave a breath and closed the front door behind him, walking into the kitchen and reaching for where he was sure the light switch was.
If he'd blinked, he'd have missed it.
He only caught the flash of red on the floor out of the corner of his eye, in his peripheral vision, and glanced disinterestedly, before his eyes widened and his face paled, his whole body freezing over and his mouth falling open. There was a sharp knife on the floor, with a flash of blood on it, with even more on the floor. Whether or not it was Katara's blood, he was unsure, but she was supposed to be the only person in the house.
What he'd come to warn her about had already happened. He was too late. The sick bastard who had raped Jin now had Katara in whatever hole he climbed into at the end of the day, and Zuko had failed to keep her safe. Anger raced through Zuko's veins - how could nobody at all be home the moment a serial kidnapped broke into the house to abduct Katara? He would later realize he'd tried to blame someone else to keep from blaming himself.
Zuko spotted a mug on the counter, steam still rising from it. How long ago had this happened? Ten minutes ago? Five? Zuko turned in shock and walked out of the kitchen, standing for a moment in disbelief in the hallway. If he hadn't stopped for gas, he could've stopped this from happening. He'd have been here when it happened. Like an injured animal, he let out a moan of despair, feeling his knees threatening to give out. "No!"
He felt his lungs contract, his heart leap into his throat and his muscles pulsing. It felt like his whole body was about to explode. His hands grabbed his face, like his face was being scarred all over again, the anguish throbbing through him so bitter is was physical. He could hear her screaming for help in the back of his mind. He could hear her pleas and cries echoing darkly through his head, and it shot like lightning right through his chest.
He screamed out desperately as if it would drown out her wretched voice in his head. "NO!"
Toph glanced back at Aang, asleep in her bed, as she sat on her Apple MacBook, updating her Facebook status from 'It's Complicated' back to 'In A Relationship'. She managed a smile as she did this; she couldn't believe how simply and easily they'd resolved the problem of children. It had been as simple as; 'let's just agree to discuss it at a later date', and things had gone back to normal. Though she wasn't supposed to, she had told Aang about Katara's GPS after sex, before he'd fallen asleep.
After finishing on Facebook, Toph turned to the Google search engine to toy around with the translator, once she was done seeing where some of her favorite lines came up. She smirked slightly; 'The simple pleasures, huh?' she thought to herself in amusement. She typed in a search for 'don't fuck with me', accidentally clicking the 'I Feel Lucky Button'. As the page started loading, she realized her mistake, cursed her faulty trackpad and dragged the mouse up to the search engine in the corner of Safari.
Toph's hand froze over the keyboard and she felt her blood run cold. She clapped her hand over her mouth and swallowed hard. "Oh my god … Aang …" Toph spoke over her shoulder, in a dry and sickened tone.
Aang moaned tiredly in the bed.
"Aang!" she yelled out in blind panic.
Aang sat up and peered at her, then past her to the grotesque image on the screen. He kicked his feet off the bed and felt a horrified frown growing on his face. "What is that?" he got up and began walking over.
"It …" she drew in a shaky breath. "It's … it's a dead baby." She lifted the hand from her mouth up to her eyes, covering them as she shut them.
Aang drew back in horror. "What?"
Toph didn't reply, scrolled down to find some kind of explanation, desperately hoping it was some kind of medical website and not a sick, perverted porn site. Who could possibly get a kick out of seeing something like that? What she saw when she scrolled down was even worse than what she'd seen before. She literally recoiled, pushing back in her chair and jumping out of it, clapping both hands to her mouth. "Oh my god," her voice was muffled by her hands. "Oh my god," she repeated in disbelief.
Aang peered closer. "Is that-,"
"Get my phone."
Aang turned his head to look at her.
"Get my phone!" she screamed at him, before turning away from the computer and holding the sides of her face in her hands, her fingernails digging into her skin. "Oh my god," she repeated one more time, her mind reeling into tight knots and her eyes squeezing shut in denial.
Unable to get through to the Marina landline, due to the line being busy, Toph and Aang had been forced to walk there. It wasn't a long walk, at least. When they got there, four police cars and two black SUV's were parked there, along with Dr. Kelly Glassman's gold Mercedes. Hakoda and Sokka's cars were also parked before the house. Toph supposed she could count the lot of them, but couldn't be bothered.
Toph and Aang approached the yellow-tape line, where two police officers stopped them. "Identification?"
The green-eyed girl raised an eyebrow dubiously. "I'm here on business. Hakoda Marina lives here, I'm Lao Bei Fong's daughter. I have some important information on a case they're working."
The two police officers exchanged glances. The second one looked to Aang. "And he is?"
"My valet." She gave Aang a proud pat on the shoulder. "Rich parents hire them now. It's the latest fad." She smiled sweetly. "I was good this year so I got a cute one."
Aang turned red, but the police officers lifted the yellow tape and allowed them to walk across the lawn to the front door. Aang felt himself thinking back to the stop on the way where Toph had broken down and he'd had to reassure her that everything was going to be fine. After that, Toph had shelled up and become an oyster, keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself, though he knew she'd break down just as soon as she was alone again.
The two marched into the living room where Sokka, Hakoda, and surprisingly, Zuko, were sitting in some kind of catatonic shock. Kelly was sitting with them, though she was the one keeping them from breaking into little bits right now. Strange really, how happy their family had once been, and how fucked up their life had been over the years; with Kya's death, with Katara being the Painted Lady, with Katara getting shot, and now this …
"Kelly," Toph cleared her throat awkwardly.
Kelly looked up. "Toph … Bei Fong, isn't it?"
"Yeah, Katara's hacker. I found something … uh, relevant." She stuffed her hands into her pockets nervously, like a child confessing to a teacher.
Hakoda looked up immediately. "Relevant? Relevant to Katara?"
Toph's face fell into a frown. "No offense, Mr. Marina, I know you have investigatory privileges because you're a lawyer, but as Katara's dad, there's a conflict of interest. Kelly's investigatory privileges are still valid because, well, she's CBI." Toph pointed out nervously.
Hakoda frowned in worry, before remarking placidly; "You'll make a good lawyer one day."
Toph smiled briefly. "Thank you, sir." She turned to Aang, and caught sight of worried gray eyes. "Aang, stay here with them." Aang nodded, leant down and kissed her on the cheek and took Kelly's seat beside Hakoda, glancing to where Sokka and Zuko were sat in silent disbelief.
Kelly got up and approached the shorter girl. "What did you find, then?" she asked professionally, leading Toph to the dining room, where Agent Jones was stood by a computer, registering evidence, like the mug and the knife.
"A website." Toph answered, pressing her thumbs together in unease. "It's … it's not good." She crossed her arms, discreetly hugging herself.
Kelly nodded in understanding with her eyes forward, fixed on Agent Jones. "How are you coming along with that?" Kelly asked the agent before her, who didn't look pleased.
"It's coming." The blonde muttered in reply, standing straight. Toph took a moment to register the serious woman; she had long, straight, blond hair pulled into a high ponytail at the back of her head, neutral makeup, and warm brown eyes. "Who's this?" the woman asked suspiciously.
"This is Toph, junior hacker extraordinaire, Katara's friend." Kelly smiled briefly. "She found a site."
Agent Jones frowned hard. "Ugh. I hate when they do that. It's disgusting." The blonde looked Toph up and down. "Did you puke?" she raised an eyebrow with a dry question.
Toph shook her head tiredly. "Nearly, but no."
"Did better than I did on my first one," Agent Jones managed a small, reluctant smile. "What's the address?"
Toph approached the desk and cleared her throat. "Uh, I think it was French. 'Maîtrise des putes'. I don't know what it means. Don't even know how I remembered it."
Agent Jones looked up from the laptop with a frown and exchanged a dark look with Kelly, who shuddered. Nonetheless, the blonde typed in the address and the same picture of the dead baby hit the top of the page, causing her to frown, but not much else. She spoke to herself, just loud enough for Toph to hear. "Sick bastard. It uses an encrypted IP hider, there's no link to any home computer, and it looks like he set it up on a public computer."
Kelly crossed her arms and pulled down her eyebrows in thought. "French. Why French instead of Spanish?"
Toph looked to Kelly in confusion as Agent Jones looked up also. "What do you mean?"
"Well, if you were going to use a second language to be cryptic, you'd use Spanish, because in America, the second language taught in public schools is Spanish." Kelly got closer to the computer and grabbed Agent Jones' notepad. "Unless you went to a school that taught French as a second language."
Jones nodded suddenly. "He went to a private school," she concluded intelligently.
"Start narrowing down the private schools that teach French in the area."
"He's not from the area," Agent Jones shook her head with a breath. "The oldest case linked here is Natalia Jenkins, twelve, three years ago, and she was taken in Colorado. Who knows how many other girls there are?"
Kelly paused for a moment. "Katara does." She pursed her lips reluctantly. "It's time to see if that GPS is still online."
Blinking tiredly, Katara pressed her face up against the brick wall desolately. Exhaustion had sunken into her system after the vast amounts of adrenaline that had shot through her blood over the course of the night. She fell into a world of restless sleep and fitful nightmares ten times better than the reality of her situation, trying to ignore the wails and cries of a broken young mother no older than she herself was, and the whispering murmurs of the other abductees around her.
When the light of day broke through the cracks in the walls and the room held enough light to not have to peer at things around, Katara's eyes broke open and she stared at the brick wall her face was pressed against in despair. She leant back, away from the wall, falling onto her back, and rolled then onto her stomach, looking around. Girls that had once had tans were now pale around her, from missing the sunlight. Katara also caught sight of a large, still weeping cut on her lower leg and remembered it was from the knife she'd grabbed in a blind panic in the kitchen when the man had abducted her. Katara moved like a snake further into the middle of the room, rolling back onto her back and pulling herself into a sitting position away from the where she'd vomited the other night.
"Does anyone here happen to be able to cut tape?" Katara wondered aloud, her eyes shifting from the tape on her ankles to the girls around her. All the girls were between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. It wasn't really 'narrowing it down', but it was the best Katara could do. She could've been wrong; the younger girls could've been younger; they all looked five years older than she figured they actually were. Her eyes danced from girl to girl around the room. Many of the girls were older than her, and yet they were all closed off from the world, terrified to hope for an escape at all. "I'm guessing that's a no," she muttered out in annoyance.
There was a sniffle and a hoarse, shaky breath, soon followed by a few brief words. "None of us make it out alive."
Katara recognized this voice as that of the young mother in mourning. "You're wrong. Jin made it out alive. She's free now - she has a life, a nice guy, her mom, her home … don't you want that?" Katara tried desperately, tugging against the tape around her digits.
The girl, with greasy, dark black hair in a ponytail that had to have been there for years, and pale gray eyes, reacted with a snap; despite not being the eldest here, Katara was sure she had to be the closest thing these girls had to a leader. "Do you think we're stupid?"
Katara was taken aback, and gave a frown. "What?"
"I've been with that psycho for years I've forgotten to count. My parents have accepted me as dead. Don't you think if there was any way I could escape I'd have taken it?" she snarled darkly at Katara, before recoiling again into a ball of mourning, grieving flesh with a ragged night-dress so outgrown that Katara knew she wouldn't be able to get out of it without a pair of scissors. It was like a horror movie where a dead woman rose from the grave after centuries six-feet-under. "You're naïve to think your life isn't already gone."
Katara was silent for a moment, despite opening her mouth to answer, and not being able to say anything to rebut. She supposed she couldn't blame these girls for falling into a hopeless state if it helped them cope with this. When she opened her mouth to speak, she heard a different voice from afar. It was a scared, young girl, younger than her or the broken mother by a few years. When she looked, she recognized Tamsin Wade.
"I want to go home," she whispered solemnly. "I want … I want my daddy," she added gravely.
Katara felt her heart wrench for the girl and nodded at her in serious agreement. "We'll be okay. We're going to get out. Soon." She knew it. Toph, and Kelly, and her father, and Agent Jones were probably already locking onto her location right now, tracking her down with that heat-seeking satellite Toph had spoken of.
Tamsin looked up from the knees she hugged and met Katara's eyes in hopeful despondency. "How?" she asked in a small voice.
Katara had no answer for this, but looked up to where the sunlight poured in through the cracks in the walls and the black-painted windows high up, too high to climb to. "Where there's a will, there's a way." And by fuck did Katara have a will to go home and get the fuck out of this godforsaken shithole and away from that greasy, dirty, twisted nutcase that had brought her here.
There was a subtle noise from afar that Katara wouldn't have noticed if the other girls hadn't gasped and looked. Katara looked over her shoulder, out of that prison-cell door that had reminded her of being arrested, and saw that same greasy, dirty, twisted nutcase standing with a devious smirk. She tried to look fearless, but that goal was left in the dust as the rusty, dirty, gritty prison door ground against more rust as it slid open and the man in black got closer. Katara froze as the man grabbed her shoulder and forced her to lie down in the mud, looking up at him. Her breath hitched in her throat.
"How are we this morning, Katara?"
Katara's fearful expression melted for a moment into deliberate, indignant rage. "Fuck you," she seethed darkly, glaring at him so hard she was sure she'd begin shooting lasers from her face at any given moment.
He unleashed a shady, despicable laugh that made Katara's bones chill. "That can be arranged." And he grabbed Katara from the ground, tugged her up and threw her back against the wall, this time making sure her back hit it first. She gave a grunt as the wind was knocked out of her lungs, but she forced her bound feet against the ground, propping herself up in a half-standing position, unwilling to go down and be below him. In his eyes, she saw a cat, old enough to be wise, but young enough to enjoy the cruelty that passes for entertainment in feline circles.
He approached and grabbed her throat, pushing into it, against the wall. Her eyes squeezed shut and she tried with desperate coughs and gurgles to breathe, choking and spluttering like an aged car that no longer wishes to keep driving. She'd have grabbed his hands and tried to peel them away if her hands weren't bound behind her back. He leant forward and put his lips to her ear as he whispered.
"I could kill you right now, you know… but what I have in store for you, my pet, is far, far worse."
He pulled his head back and cocked it like a snake waiting to strike its prey. She winced at the touch of rough fingertips on her collarbone, his hand still on her throat, though he no longer tried to choke her. The fingertips trailed down from her collarbone to the low scoop of her robin's-egg blue tank top. He removed his hand from her throat and she released a desperate cough for breath as he produced a knife from an unseen pocket.
When she tilted her head back to look at him, she saw the knife and froze still, her fists tightening within the tape around them. She felt him trail the blunt edge of the knife in small shapes on the flat of her chest, but she couldn't tell what they were, and then the knife pressed against the neckline of her top. He pulled it down just a little and the fabric split open, causing her to pop her eyes open and curse at him in a low undertone, "Get the fuck away from me!" she cried out, before turning her head away from him defiantly and giving a whine as with simple fingers and the knife forgetten, he slowly tore the tank top from top to bottom.
When Katara's torso was fully exposed, he pushed the top back over her shoulders and allowed it to fall down her arms to the tape on them, admiring her bare chest with a lascivious leer that she knew could not be matched. Despite the situation, Katara couldn't help but feel her face turn red in anger and shame, turning her head back to glare at him and bare her teeth. "Alright then, asshole, take a good look," she bit at him, wondering if Detta Walker was talking to him instead of herself. "Matter of fact, why don't you unzip yourself and show the room full of ladies your teenie-weenie mini-peenie?" she taunted darkly.
The man looked somewhat taken aback, and Katara was sure the girls behind him also did.
"Oh, whats'a matter? Scared? Scared I got teeth downstairs to bite your dick off?" she snarled viciously.
The man's face twisted in angry indecision.
"Or maybe you don't like regular sex; I bet you can only get a boner from raping defenseless women, right, you sick, perverted, inhuman son of a bitch!" Katara screamed in his face, unable to hold back against the girl who had caused a teacher to faint in the middle of a lesson. Katara was sure even the devil on her bare, naked shoulder was screaming at her to stop, but she couldn't. "Well fine, then! Fuck me all you want, but I'll tell you this now; if you think I'm going to cry, you're sadly mistaken. I'm in no way afraid of a sad, pathetic, weak little child pretending to be a big boy!" she shrieked roughly, her eyes twinkling with some dark defiance that she neither recognized nor was able to control.
It was this particular cry that broke the glass window of the man's pretentious patience. He screamed in her face in unexplainable fury, causing her to shut her mouth and her eyes and wait for him to stop to kill her. He grabbed her around the middle and hurled her over his shoulder turning roughly, ignoring the fact that he smacked her head into the brick wall as he turned. She struggled and threatened, but his growls of feral mortification overshot anything Katara had ever been able to understand in her life, and she couldn't stop him from dragging her out of the prison he kept his 'putos' in.
She was a horrid liar.
Toph ran into the living room, where Kelly was sat again with a cup of coffee, keeping an eye on the sleeping father and brother of Katara Marina, and Zuko Scorsese, who stood by the wall, with a coffee of his own, with Aang, who stood the same, but without coffee. Toph wondered if Zuko could possibly be allowed to see the footage; she knew it would reassure him as to Katara's still being alive, though it would probably unnerve him just the same.
"Kelly." Toph breathed out tiredly; not having slept through the night, but determined to help bring her friend home safely.
Kelly looked up suddenly. "Found something?" she asked hopefully.
Toph shook her head. "She's awake."
Kelly frowned, before understanding what Toph meant and standing up. Zuko and Aang looked from their places by the wall with worried expressions. Toph smiled briefly, as if trying to reassure them, though she herself needed reassuring. She followed Kelly out of the room, back into the dining room, where Agent Jones was watching the screen carefully. Kelly and Toph got around to the other side of the table and looked at the screen intently, in deep concentration.
Toph was disheartened to see Katara forced up against a far wall, with the back of a man to the camera; it looked like a security camera. She had found this feed was live online, and it watched the lost, broken women 24/7. She seemed to be ranting at the man who held her against the wall, who was taken aback in indecision and disturbance. Toph imagined that for a man who did all this to feel big about himself would be outraged if someone tried to take even that away from him by making him feel small and insignificant. She wondered if Katara's rant would be at all positively effective.
Toph jumped when the man grabbed Katara by the middle and threw her over his shoulder in a barbaric fury, letting out a loud scream of anger that Toph could hear via the computer's speakers. Toph had to hold in a cry of terror, wanting to reach out for the screen and snatch her friend away from the beast on screen. He turned to the camera, his teeth gnashing as he growled viciously, like some kind of rabid bear.
"There!" Agent Jones jumped suddenly, pressing a button on the keyboard. A white square appeared around the man's face and a bar opened on the side of the feed, as she ran his face through a mug-shot database.
A mug shot of the same man showed up, with a name. 'Jonathan Evan Prescott III'
"What the fuck kind of name is that?" Toph screwed up her face in confusion.
"I knew he was high-class." Jones muttered in concentration, running the background check. Her fingers moved at the speed of light as she typed. She paid no attention when Kelly's phone bleeped, or when Zuko and Aang approached at the sound of the excitement.
Kelly grabbed her phone from her pocket and drew it out. It was a text from the FBI tech. 'GPS location centered. Cronus Warehouse, 113 Industrial Park. Cars sent. Get there fast.' She stared at it for a moment, before looking to Agent Jones frantically. "They got the GPS location."
Jones got up immediately. "I'll drive," she told Kelly quickly, reaching up, fixing her hair and heading for the hallway.
Kelly nodded and looked to the three standing around. "Toph, call 911, give them the address '133 industrial park' and tell them to send three ambulances. Zuko, get your bike, take Aang and follow Agent Jones' car." She instructed them sharply, turning and heading for the living room to wake the two that had finally fallen asleep.
"Take him alive." Agent Jones crossed her arms, her eyes scrutinizing the police officers before her. "Shoot for the legs." She drew her own gun and breathed a careful breath. "This is a stealth operation. We get in, take the girls, take him down, and get out. We don't know what's in there. Understood?"
The police officers replied with a devoted, understanding silence, drawing their weapons the same as her. Kelly drew nearer, drawing her own weapon, approaching Agent Jones, Agent Howell and Agent Mason with a deliberate expression and a conscious demeanor to her.
"Put that away, Kelly, you're not going in." Agent Jones told her friend, lifting one boot up and putting it up on the running board of her SUV, fixing the laces.
Agent Mason, an aging white man with graying hair and many wrinkles was head of the behavioral analysis unit, and often enforced things when his agents were in the right. Right now, however, he didn't know if Agent Jones was in the right.
Agent Howell was a red-haired man with a low, short ponytail at the back of his head and a tan from Florida sunshine, and he looked on disinterestedly.
Kelly scowled and peered through narrowed ayes at the blonde. "This isn't my first shootout, Alison," she reminded her, holding the gun at her side with no intention of putting it away as her friend had instructed her.
"I never said it was. Conflict of interest." Alison Jones dropped her foot, turned and watched as the officers, including her friend, the one who'd come with her the day she'd brought her great idea to Hakoda and Katara Marina, approach the brick-and-wood warehouse. "I gotta go," she glanced at Kelly professionally.
"You're out of your mind if you think I'm staying here." Kelly crossed her arms, the gun dangling from one hand.
Alison glared at Kelly for a short while. "Stay here or I will shoot you myself," she threatened seriously, turning her back to Kelly and approaching the building.
Kelly ignored this comment and followed her, gun drawn and silent as a mouse. Just as Alison did, she pressed her body against the wall of the warehouse as the police officers barged the door. Alison glared daggers at Kelly, but didn't shoot her. As the door smashed open, the officers and the four BAU agents stormed the warehouse, guns and flashlights at the ready. The first shot was fired into the lock on the first door blocking their path, and a police officer kicked the door down.
Alison, though she didn't want Kelly there at all, motioned to her friend to follow her through the door, leading with the end of her gun, her finger already on the trigger, cautious. Kelly followed Alison through the door, into shadowed darkness with spots of sunlight following through from the sunrise outside. Alison grabbed for the utility light on her hip, and it flooded the room with light, illuminating the other police officers in the room, a wall of bars on one side and a circle of sitting, shattered girls beyond it. The two glanced around for the man in black, or 'Jonathan', and remembered back to the live feed online, moving to the other side of the room, where the two saw a wooden door with metal bars around the edges as a frame.
As several police officers stormed the prison-room, which had probably begun life as a secure storage hold for high-risk shipments, Agents Jones, Glassman, Howell and Mason approached the door, with two police officers flanking them. Mason reached out and pushed the door open, moving into the doorway. He was somewhat surprised to see Jonathan Evan Prescott III practicing his hostage situation skills, with an arm around a topless Katara's throat and a gun to her temple. Her hands were still bound behind her back but her ankles seemed to have been freed. Blood marked her forehead, and dripped from her lower leg.
"Mr. Prescott, put the gun down."
"Back off. I'll blow her fucking brains out," Jonathan hissed darkly.
Agent Mason took a hesitant breath. "Mr. Prescott, calm down. I'm sure you didn't mean for any of this to go this far." He reasoned carefully, tiptoeing around the psychopath.
Jonathan gave a curt laugh. "You're wrong. I meant for it to go further."
Agents Jones, Glassman and Howell flanked Mason and raised their guns. "Let the girl go, Jonathan." The aging agent instructed the psychotic before him in a calm and wise fashion.
The man didn't reply, but pressed his gun harder into Katara's head, causing her to pull a face of pain and grind her teeth. She grunted out and her bare toes curled in the dirt in the suspenseful torment. "Agh!" she cried out, before biting her lower lip in pain. Blood escaped from where her tooth pierced her lip. His grip around her throat seemed to tighten as she cried out, bringing tears to her eyes.
"No way in hell, old timer," Jonathan snarled viciously. "This girlie here is my ticket to freedom. I'm going to back out of here with her, get in my car and drive, and nobody's gonna follow us. Or else she gets her brains shot out the other side of her head. Got it?"
"And if we shoot you in the forehead right now?" Mason's grip on his gun tightened slightly.
"Then my muscles will contract and she still gets her brains blown out. Your choice." Jonathan grinned wickedly.
'And you can see my heart … beating. You can see it through my chest …'
Alison frowned hard, glancing to Kelly's expression. Her friend was trying her best to look fearless, hiding some kind of worry she hadn't seen before. Alison had figured that Kelly had become some kind of makeshift mom for Katara, considering the way Kelly talked about the girl, and now she knew she was right. Anyone who didn't know Kelly the way Alison did wouldn't have known it. She grimaced; this was the definition of a Mexican Standoff.
Kelly bit her tongue inside her mouth, her mind racing somewhat. She wondered, in some far corner of her mind, how Katara managed to get into these situations, though she was more focused on what she was supposed to do here. A scowl overtook her face and she stared hard at the man who held a gun to her sort-of niece's head. She understood the workings of the serial-kidnapper's mind, though she kind of wanted to know the details of this man's case, but right now her main priority was making sure Katara's brain didn't paint the walls.
'… that I'm terrified, but I'm not leaving …'
Jonathan let out a sickening cackle before opening his mouth and speaking in a twisted voice. "You know what the funny thing is?" he cawed out madly, tilting his head back as he laughed, before eyeing Mason with a sick grin on his pale face. "I got her years ago. And it was so good … that I had to do it again. And Again." He seemed utterly enthralled by this realization. Katara didn't quite know what he meant, but she could guess it meant he'd killed the woman who'd begun this long ago, and just kept killing because it was so empowering for him.
He tugged Katara backward to a door at the back of the room. "Alright, then, goodbye, ladies and gentlemen. We have to leave - things to do, people to see, you know," Jonathan grinned, pleased with himself.
'I know that I must pass this test …'
"One thing, though, Jonathan." Kelly spoke up, the decision in her voice echoing in her head.
Jonathan, seeming amused by this, cocked up an eyebrow. "What might that be?"
'So just pull the trigger.'
Kelly was silent for a moment, thumbing back the hammer of her gun. " … Bang." And she squeezed the trigger of her gun. An explosion reverberated through the room and Kelly was almost surprised herself, as a bullet tore through his kneecap and snapped his knee backward. As the knee did this, Kelly was sure he would never walk properly again. Well, as properly as a man would walk after prison.
The gun slipped from his hand in his howling panic, and Katara pulled away from him, though he grabbed for her and missed. Kelly expertly tucked her gun into her hip-holster and snatched Katara's arm, pulling her towards herself and protecting her in a safety-hug, despite the girl being half-naked. It didn't matter - Katara was safe and it was all that mattered. Katara buried her face in Kelly's shoulder and smiled gratefully, her eyes squeezed shut.
Kelly smiled warmly, leaning against a glass window by the hospital room Katara lay asleep in and looking in. As it had turned out, her leg and forehead had needed stitches, and a punch to the gut had caused some minor internal damage that had needed surgical correction, but otherwise, Katara was fine. Kelly knew from being a doctor that Katara was lucky, and from being CBI, and having heard how three of the girls found in the warehouse had had broken bones which had set wrong and untended miscarriages that could have killed them, it had been enforced in her mind.
Hakoda approached with two coffees. "Hey." He spoke up, his voice hoarse from tears and shouts. He watched his little girl sleep, heavily dosed with sedatives after her surgery.
Kelly looked over her shoulder and smiled tiredly; it was only five in the evening, but she was exhausted. "Hey." She replied simply, taking one of the coffees off his hands. "Thanks."
"No, thank you." Hakoda smiled solemnly. "You saved my daughter's life. And probably her future sex life …" he added for good measure.
Kelly pulled a face with a sigh. "Hm. I've treated so many rape victims … I'm glad Katara won't have to go through all that." She shook her head, before taking a sip of her coffee. "How's Sokka?"
Hakoda tilted his head uneasily. "He's blaming me. But I suppose if it helps him cope, it's good. He's got Toph, Aang, Zuko and Suki …"
Kelly smiled hesitantly. "You're a good father," she noted, her eyes turning back to Katara, who looked as if she slept naturally, peacefully before them. "What about you? How are you coping?" her warm brown eyes showed deep concern and worry for her friend as she asked this question.
"I'm coping." He frowned wanly at the burgundy-haired woman beside him.
She smiled and nodded, lifting a hand and patting him on the shoulder, an assuring gesture.
Hakoda's eyes, that were fixed on Kelly thankfully, turned to his daughter and a relieved smile returned to his face at her frowning in her sleep. "How is she doing?"
Kelly's thought process showed on her face and she nodded calmly. "Better than all the other girls put together. Physically."
"And … emotionally?" he questioned carefully. "How do you think she'll cope with this?"
Kelly paused. "She doesn't have the problem of re-integrating back into normal life, and she's not a rape victim … but I can see her having some anxiety about being alone, in the house especially, since … since that's where she was abducted. I've seen kidnap victims need to be escorted to the bathroom in their own house, become afraid of the dark … I worked with a little girl in Sacramento who became terrified of corners, after she was snatched around a corner and taken away from her family for ransom." Kelly sighed shakily. "She could spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder."
Hakoda was silent for a long while, the two of them just watching Katara, focused on the rise and fall of her breathing. At least she was safe. The other road-bumps could be taken care of later. He remembered hearing the doctors say they were going to keep her for a few days to monitor her and make sure she healed properly, so he decided he was going to go home and bring her teddy bear, a book and some new pajamas - he doubted the paper gown she had on right now was very comfortable.
I'm a bitch, but it's not to say I can't be loved … when did I get all mushy? OH YEAH!
Wait, lost it again.
Never mind. I kinda wish there had been more diversified character interaction here, but this chapter was really about Katara and her struggle and rescue. I have to admit to liking the dynamics between emotionally-invert Agent Alison Jones and emotionally communicative Dr. Kelly Glassman. I don't know how well Hakoda will cope with all this; it's a big thing for a dad to take in.
I was waiting for a good reason to upload, and say; here's my gift to you. But really? Come on, i have no good reasons for anything; I'm a teenager. Oh, random bit of me-ness, I asked my mom to take me to get the PILL from the doctor. It's like ... 'oh btw, mom, can i have the pill so i can have sex with my boyfriend?'. It wasn't fun. I was procrastinating asking her for a whole three days - which is nothing compared to how long I spent thinking about it beforehand - and now, what inspired me to update was when she came in and said 'uh, assuming that now you're going to be on the pill ... where exactly do you plan to ... uh ... commence this ... relation... ship?' and I WAS IN PIECES. Not because it was funny, but because I was so nervous. I laugh when I'm nervous. She said she'd take me, but she doesn't approve, even after admitting to me that I'm older than she was when she became 'sexually active' as we call it in the house.
Sokka, also, duly noted, needs a HELL of a lot more screentime. Probably a lot of Sukka-lovin' will help him get past what's happened to his baby sister. Probably a lot of Sokka-Katara brotherly love too. I always love shit like that. OOH. I just had an Idea! Haha, you don't get to know what it is! :) I should have 'bitch' tattooed on my forehead, shouldn't I? This was going to be a two-part premiere, but then i realized that the three I've typed are a better trio, and then I remembered I hadn't finished chapter three. So; enjoy this chapter, and soon you will have the next!