His head hurt.
That was the first thought that entered Shawn's pounding head when he came to. He didn't want to open his eyes; the darkness seemed much more inviting. But as things began to come back to him, he groaned and opened his eyes.
He found himself lying facedown on a hard concrete floor. His mouth was covered with a wide piece of duct tape and his hands were securely tied behind his back. A quick attempt to move his feet confirmed that his ankles had also been secured.
His head was still pounding, and Shawn groaned, closing his eyes in an attempt to relieve the pressure.
In the short glance he had taken of his surroundings, he had noticed that he seemed to be in a construction site of some sort, as the walls of the room in which he was being held were made of concrete and plywood. Several sawhorses took up space in the room, as well as various equipment and crates of supplies and toolboxes.
No one else had been in the room, but several voices were coming from the other room. Shawn lay quietly, attempting to make out what they were saying. He couldn't make out any specific words, as the men were talking too low, but he recognized the voices.
Thomas Monroe was no surprise; Shawn had followed the man out into the alley. The second voice wasn't either, both because Shawn had also seen him in the alley and because of his theory about the case.
As Shawn was turning over various plans in his mind, contemplating how best to either escape or convince the men to let him go, another voice joined the others. The men's voices rose as they began arguing, and Shawn blinked in surprise.
He had certainly not expected this turn of events.
"So you didn't see anything?" Colby asked.
Paulina raised an eyebrow. "I told you already. No. I saw some guy go past towards the bathrooms, then another guy, then that guy," she nodded her head towards Gus, who was standing beside Colby, "came in asking about his friend. I didn't pay them much attention."
Colby nodded. "Right. Well, thanks for your help."
"And when are you people going to be done with my security footage?" she demanded. "I have a store to run."
"I can see that," Colby remarked dryly. "We'll let you know."
"Whatever," she sighed.
"Did you find anything?" Gus asked as David emerged from the back room.
The agent motioned to Gus and Colby. "You guys might want to see this," he told them before ducking back through the door.
Charlie was sitting at a small desk in the back room, his laptop occupying one side of the desk and another screen replaying the security footage occupying the other side. Various wires ran between the two devices.
Don was standing beside his brother's chair, and he turned as the others joined him.
"What happened to Shawn?" Gus asked. The sinking feeling that had started in his stomach when he found Shawn's phone had been slowly growing, and now it felt like it was occupying his entire insides.
"It looks like we were on the right track with Monroe," Don told him, his face grim.
Gus leaned over Charlie's shoulder. The screen displayed what looked like the footage from a security camera in the alley behind the store. Monroe was aiming a gun at Shawn, who had his hands to the sides. The angle of the camera didn't show Shawn's face, but Gus was pretty sure his friend was attempting to talk his way out of the situation.
Charlie hit a button and the footage began running again. Gus swallowed hard as a figure in a hoodie stepped out of the doorway behind Shawn, a crowbar in hand. Almost before Gus could blink, the man had knocked Shawn out cold. Then Monroe and the stranger picked up the limp form and moved around the other side of a van that had been parked on the side of the alley.
"Please tell me we know who the other guy is," Gus said, his voice low.
Charlie shook his head. "I can't get a camera angle that shows it. He's got the hood pulled over too far; his face is too shadowed to run through facial identification." He turned to his computer and entered a few commands. "I'm working on tracing their van though."
"But the plate was muddy," Gus pointed out, trying to ignore the voice in his head that was telling him he might not see Shawn again.
"I know; we can't get anything from the plate itself, but I've got a program running through security and traffic camera footage around this area. If it finds a match on the van, I'll know."
"Gus," Don spoke up, "what were you and Shawn doing down here anyway? I thought you were going to get smoothies. Why are we now looking into Shawn being kidnapped while following Thomas Monroe?"
Gus sighed and launched into an explanation. "Well, Shawn had a vision that the case had something to do with the relationship between the York brothers."
"What is this I hear about us having a prisoner?" James York demanded.
"Calm down," Roger instructed.
"No, I will not calm down! This was supposed to be a simple insurance scam. Nothing else. And now, thanks to you, it's turned into a three ring circus!"
"Don't you dare blame me," Roger insisted.
"Hey!" Monroe protested. "Don't look at me. I was just following orders."
"Shut up, Monroe," Roger growled. "This guy was poking his nose in too deeply; he was only a few clues away from figuring out our plan, if he hasn't already. And we had no choice, especially once he showed up following Monroe through that alley. Besides, you're the one who told me on the phone that we needed to do something about the nosy investigators."
As the men continued to argue, Shawn was working on the ropes that tied his wrists together. Whoever had done the tying had apparently been in a rush, and he felt a little slack. If he had enough time, he might be able to get free.
The voices rose in the other room again. "Fine. All right! But now we have to figure out what we're doing with him."
"Don't worry about that," Roger said. "No one will ever find him. I think we're supposed to be laying a new foundation later this afternoon anyway, aren't we, Monroe?"
Shawn swallowed and pulled harder on his bonds, ignoring the blood that was beginning to trickle from his raw wrists as the rough fibers bit into his skin. Things were not sounding good.
"I've got it!" Charlie's announcement brought the others around his chair again. "The van pulled into a construction site about ten minutes from here …" He trailed off as he pulled up another screen "And guess who is managing the construction work there?"
"Roger York Construction," Don read off the screen. "Good work, Charlie. Let's go."
The men's voices had dropped again, and Shawn was getting worried that they would be pushing through the plastic sheeting covering the doorway any second.
He finally managed to pull his right hand free from the ropes and, leaving the slack dangling on his left, quickly worked on untying his feet. As soon as they were free, he scrambled behind the largest pieces of equipment in the room. Gus would probably know what it was called, but Shawn didn't really care as long as it afforded him enough cover.
He grimaced as he pulled the tape off his mouth, massaging his face with his hand after it was off, and tossed the rest of the ropes to the side.
Shadows appeared on the other side of the plastic over the doorway, and Shawn looked around for some sort of weapon. His eyes lit on a tool chest, but it was on the other side of the room. He shot another look at the shadows and saw a hand begin to pull at the covering, but before the man could move any farther, there was a sudden commotion in the other room that sounded like someone had knocked over an entire cabinet of tools.
"Watch it!" someone snapped.
"Sorry," a new voice panted. This one didn't sound familiar to Shawn, and he cocked his head as he concentrated on what was going on on the other side of the wall.
"What's your rush, Walter?"
"There's a bunch of FBI agents headed this way," Walter panted. "I thought you'd want to know."
"Seriously?" James yelled. "See, this is what happens when you kidnap federal agents," he snapped at the others.
Shawn wanted to point out that he wasn't technically a federal agent but then thought better of calling attention to himself. He needed to figure out what to do quickly because things seemed like they were going to get ugly pretty quickly.
"You got your gun, Walter?" Roger asked. Shawn assumed the other man had nodded because Roger continued, "Good. Get over near the entrance and don't let them get in. Monroe, you go with him."
Shawn heard the sound of several handguns racking, then two sets of footsteps faded as Monroe and Walter exited the room.
"You're planning to shoot your way out of this one?" James asked his brother. "I don't think that's going to work; they probably have an entire vanload of agents armed to the teeth."
"I was thinking more along the lines of letting Monroe and Walter hold them off long enough for us to get out the back. Come on; if we go now, we should be able to get down the scaffolding without being spotted."
"What about him?"
Shawn had heard enough. He grabbed a two by four from a nearby workbench and pushed aside the plastic over the door. He wasn't exactly sure what he planned to do, exactly, but he figured he should at least try to keep the Yorks from fleeing until the FBI agents could get there.
Don, David, Nikki and Colby made their way through the half-finished building as silently as they could, their guns at the ready. They didn't know how many other men were in the building besides the two who had been at the door, and they weren't taking any chances.
Gus had agreed to wait with Charlie in the SUV in the parking lot only after Don promised to radio him as soon as they found Shawn.
The agents cleared each room as they passed it, making their way towards the stairs and hopefully closer to Shawn and anyone else still in the building.
The plastic crinkled as Shawn moved it, and Roger and James spun, both bringing their guns to bear on the figure behind them.
"You!" Roger's eyes widened slightly.
"I knew you'd mess things up somehow," James snapped at his brother. "You never can just do a job right, can you?"
Roger's eyes narrowed. "Oh no. You aren't going to put this one on me. You had more chance to misdirect the investigation than I did. After all, it was your hotel and your stupid idea."
Shawn looked between the two men, shifting his grip on the board. Before he could decide what to do next, the sound of gunfire echoed through the building.
James lifted his gun so it was aimed at Shawn's head. "I say we just get rid of him now and leave while we still can." He looked desperate enough to pull the trigger.
"Okay now, just hold on a minute," Shawn started.
"No you hold on!" James exclaimed.
"Whoa, James, just take it easy," Roger told his brother. "He can't help us if he's dead."
"Do you have a better idea?" James demanded.
"Please say yes," Shawn added.
Roger nodded, putting a hand on his brother's shoulder. "He's going to be our ticket out of here. Just put the gun down and I'll take care of things."
"You sure?" James glanced sideways at Roger as he slowly lowered his weapon.
Shawn didn't wait around to find out how Roger planned to take care of things. He had already noticed the FBI team making their way down the hallway outside the door and decided to make his move while both brothers had their guns more or less pointed away from him. In one motion, he threw the board in his hands at James while diving for a large tool chest a few feet away at the same time.
Multiple bullets hit the concrete around Shawn as he scrambled behind the cover the chest afforded, barely paying attention to the stinging pain in his arm. Several more shots pinged off the metal container as he huddled behind it.
The team rushed into the room, their weapons raised and covering the two men who were firing at a tool chest in the corner of the room.
"FBI! Put your hands up now!"
"Put the weapons down!"
Both York brothers froze at the agents' shouts.
"Put the guns down and get on your knees! Now!" Don ordered.
James did as instructed, quickly dropping the pistol in his hands, but Roger simply tightened his grip on his weapon.
"Don't do it!" Colby shouted.
The others had also spotted the man's movement, and Don aimed his own weapon at the other man. "Drop it now!"
Shawn scrambled out from behind the tool chest as Roger dropped his gun and got to his knees beside his brother. "Man, I thought you guys would never get here."
"Shawn! Are you all right?" David asked, looking the other man over. His eyes lit on the now-red sleeve of Shawn's polo.
"I'm fine," Shawn assured him. "It's just a scratch; I think the bullet just nicked me. But that was awesome! It was just like in the movies, only better because it was real life."
Colby raised an eyebrow at him. "You almost got yourself killed."
Shawn shrugged. "But I didn't."
"Shawn!" Gus rushed into the room. "Shawn, don't you ever do that to me again."
"Aw, Gus, glad to know you care about me so much," Shawn ribbed, then winced as his friend punched him in the arm. "Hey! Watch it; I just got held hostage and shot."
"Shot?" Gus gulped.
"Well, more like grazed." Shawn showed him.
Gus swallowed hard. "Uh-huh."
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" Shawn put a hand to his head. "I'm getting something! Gus, I'm getting something!" he exclaimed, squeezing his eyes shut. He cracked them open to make sure the others were watching, then shut them again and continued. "James most certainly knew what his hotel was making and it wasn't making as much money as he needed to cover his gambling debts and still make a living."
James shifted uneasily, which Shawn took as encouragement to continue.
"You two worked together to bomb the hotel, didn't you? James came to you, Roger, for advice, and you decided you could use your employees' expertise in the explosives field in a very profitable way. Originally, the whole thing was supposed to have come down, wasn't it? Then James could have collected on the insurance, but your plans had to change when only one of your bombs went off. Between the investigation and everything else, there was no way you could finish the job, and it would just seem silly to demolish the entire building for what little damage happened. You figured you'd just keep the story that you're going to be repairing it until you figure out what to do."
"You don't have any proof!"
"Shut up, James," Roger growled.
Don raised an eyebrow as he looked between the two of them. "It sounds like a plausible explanation to me. I'm sure we'll be able to find information in your financials that back it up."
"You boys sure you can't stay any longer?" Alan asked. "It was great having you here."
"Yeah," Don nodded, setting down the bag he was carrying beside Gus' car. "We really appreciated the help on the case."
Gus shook his head. "We've got to get back to Santa Barbara. My boss only let me have the week off for the conference; I need to get back to work."
"I really have no objections to staying, but Gus gets lonely if I stay away too long," Shawn explained. He ignored Gus' glare and stepped to the other side of Alan, making sure the older man was between the two of them.
Charlie shook his head in amusement. "It was nice to meet you both."
"Thanks for letting us stay at your house," Gus told him, extending a hand.
"No problem," Charlie replied, shaking the outstretched hand. "Be sure and call us up if you're ever in LA again."
"Will do, Chuckie boy," Shawn grinned. "And I'll make sure to bring my own pineapple next time."
"Uh, I think we'll still have some of what you bought this time, even if you come next year," Alan assured him with a grin.
"Thanks again." Shawn also shook hands all around, then jumped in the passenger seat. "Santa Barbara, ho!" he announced.
Gus rolled his eyes. "Shawn, I am not getting in the same car with you if you're going to reenact Oregon Trail again."
"Yes you are, Gus. You're the one who said we had to get back by tomorrow."
"Fine," Gus climbed in the driver's seat and started the engine. "But you are sitting still and if you make one western-themed comment, you are riding in the trunk."
"How am I going to get back there if I have to sit still?"
Gus sighed. It was going to be a long ride back to Santa Barbara. They might just have to stop for a Snickers bar before they hit the interstate.