Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just borrowed them. Numb3rs and its characters are the property of those that created them. No copyright infringement intended. No financial reward gained. All real places and organisations are used in a fictional sense. Original characters and the storyline are mine however.
A/N: Written for Clue Challenge #24, June 2011, at hurt_don on LiveJournal. Prompts: Who? – Don. What? – Handcuffs. Where? – Apartment.
Don discovers a neighbour is more than he seems when he finds himself taken hostage in his own apartment.
He was tired, it was his first day off in who knew how long and he could hardly be blamed for feeling safe in his own apartment building.
Whatever the reason it hardly mattered, not when he was near strangling as the chain from a pair of handcuffs bit into the skin of his neck putting painful pressure against his windpipe. The hands linked by the cuffs were braced against the back of his head creating an unbreakable hold. His own hands were up, pulling desperately downwards in a less than successful effort to reduce the strain. His body and his reactions were keyed to protecting his airway and he was unable to release his grip to even try to fight the man holding him.
"Let him go!"
"Gimme a gun!" The man countered.
"No way," the detective responded. "Let the man go."
Despite the words being shouted back and forth Don could barely spare the concentration to listen to them, or pay much attention to the guns being pointed his way as his body was screaming at him that he was about to die. He struggled to calm himself, to regain control and finally it seemed to work, the words shouted back by the man behind him became clearer for all the good it did him.
"I'm not going to jail. Give me your gun or I'll choke him!"
The grip became crushing and Don gagged as his back arched. His head pounded as his blood pressure soared. On the tips of his toes now Don's hands scrabbled to gain sufficient purchase to save himself but the man had leverage and unyielding metal to his advantage.
"Alright!" The detective shouted. "Easy!"
The pressure eased and Don could hear again as he was able to gain a tortured partial breath that did little to ease the black spots crowding the edges of his vision.
"I can't give you my gun but we'll back off and give you some space so everyone can relax a bit."
"I want a gun!"
"No gun," the detective said as he holstered his, pulling his jacket back over the holster to conceal it. He waved his hands at the officers arranged around them in the hallway and weapons were lowered. The man's voice slowed and dropped in volume, his words measured as he tried to calm things down. "Parker, let the man breathe. We're going to move back a bit so you can think things through. Deal?"
Don heard the man's harsh breathing as he thought the offer over. He was in no position to add his own two cents; the chain from the cuffs was still stretched taut over his neck and restricted his breathing. Abruptly he felt the pressure change as he was dragged backwards, through an open doorway and he recognised his own apartment. The door was kicked closed before he was shoved hard against it. The man's weight pressed against him as the grip once again tightened on his throat, stopping just short of completely blocking his airway.
"You fight me and I'll kill you," the man hissed harshly in his ear. "You feeling me?"
He needed to breathe, his whole being was focused on that and at the moment, deep in oxygen debt, he was far from a highly trained federal agent and wasn't able to offer any resistance. Don managed a bare movement of his head, a fraction of an inch but it was enough for the desperate man. He was yanked back away from the door, spun and propelled deeper into his apartment before the cuffed hands were jerked free from his neck. Before he could draw his first full breath in what felt like forever there was a heavy impact against the side of his head and he went down.
He became aware again lying on the floor partially curled, coughing and hacking with his hands protectively wrapped around his throat against the raw pain each breath cost him. He grunted, trying to clear his throat but the pain flared and he knew his larynx was badly bruised and had been very nearly crushed. He was lucky to still be alive.
As his thinking cleared he couldn't help but mentally slap himself for being so stupid. He'd been roused from deep sleep by sounds of a disturbance in the apartment next to his. Angry and frustrated at being woken from the first solid hours of sleep he'd had in the last few days he'd not thought about what he could be walking into as he'd rushed from his apartment and out into the hall. Everything had gone rapidly downhill from there. He'd seen a group of men struggling and he'd shouted angrily at them before several things happened all at once. He recognised a couple of black LAPD uniforms in the melee before a man broke free at the distraction and rushed him. With only a few feet separating them and his mind still dulled by sleep Don had barely registered the fact before it was too late. A few moments later however he certainly registered the fact that he was unable to breathe and the instant reaction of the police to the hostage drama that had suddenly developed.
Breaking his revisit of how he'd ended up lying on his own floor hands grabbed at him and pulled him up. He got his eyes open and saw a face close to his and a flash of something black before he was falling backwards to land on something soft, his couch. Blinking he pulled himself together to focus his eyes and try to take stock of his situation. A man stood over him and his instinctive check for weapons found a Glock being held in the man's cuffed hands. It wasn't hard to guess that it was his. The man had obviously had enough time to find the weapon whilst its rightful owner had been lying helplessly on the floor recovering. Looking away from the weapon he gave the man a once over, seeing the sort of casual clothing he would expect to see someone in his building wearing early on a Sunday morning, loose jeans and a t-shirt. He himself was only wearing thin sweatpants and a light shirt.
He turned his attention to the man's face and he received a shock as he recognised his new neighbour, even if they'd never been formally introduced. He'd only seen the man a couple of times over the last month but they'd exchanged friendly enough nods even if they'd never spoken. The gaze focused back on him now however was hard and calculating.
"Where are the keys?"
Don tried to repeat the word in confusion but his throat seized, leading to more hacking coughs. His head was jerked up and his thoughts, still slightly scattered, turned to getting his hair cut real soon to stop that happening again.
Pulling one hand away from its protective position over his throat Don waved towards the stand beside the door and the bowl that contained the keys to his Suburban. He'd finally figured what the man meant and it wasn't car keys the man was after but the ring also held the handcuff key that he did want. The hand in his hair released its painful hold and he paid little attention to the man as he got his breathing back under control.
"Get back down."
Looking up Don saw the man emphasise his order with a jerk of the gun, his hands now free. Wondering why the man had just pulled him up from the floor only to order him back down he did as instructed, still in no position to fight back. His hands were yanked behind him and he felt the cuffs bite into his wrists as the man locked them firmly into place. Once again he was hauled up and shoved back onto the couch, the cuffs now digging painfully into his back. He shifted to relieve the pressure and looked back up at his less than friendly neighbour.
"What the hell?" At least that was what he tried to say. Instead he barely managed a croak that descended into coughing once again serving to remind him that he shouldn't try to speak due to the damage done to his throat. He looked at the man, willing him to understand his question. Parker, he reminded himself, the man's name was Parker.
"So, you're the fed," Parker said, almost calmly now that he had solid control over his hostage and apparent control over the situation.
Don nodded, forgoing his usual grimace at the comment. The building manager loved dangling the fact that an FBI agent lived in the building to potential tenants. At least he'd managed to convince the manager not to reveal his name or apartment number.
Parker turned the Glock over in his hands. He'd found it on Don's nightstand and would have seen the ID folder lying next to it. "Do they know?"
This time he shook his head carefully before shrugging. He'd not recognised the detectives or the uniforms in the hall. It wouldn't be long though before they found out. Their first step would be to identify the hostage as they worked on a plan to resolve the standoff.
"They'll find out soon though, I guess," Parker said as if reading his thoughts before he swore under his breath. "Of all the people in this building it had to be you. Got me a gun though, so I supposed it's not all bad."
That all depends on your perspective, Don thought to himself. Then again, having the chain from the cuffs off his neck and being able to breathe again was a big plus for him.
There was a sound from the hall making Parker rush to the door and peer through the spy hole.
"I've got a gun now so don't even think about trying anything!" Parker shouted through the door. He pointed the stolen weapon at the couch opposite Don and pulled the trigger as proof. He pressed his eye against the spy hole again before grunting in satisfaction. "That got them moving."
Unable to speak Don simply looked at the man as he returned to stand near him once again.
"You're probably wondering what the hell you just walked into, right?"
Don nodded again as he realised Parker had understood his question after all. It had just taken him a while to get to it.
"They were raiding me and I was none too happy about it. But I figure you noticed that," Parker started. "Guess I hadn't covered my tracks as well as I'd thought. Or did you tip them off?"
At the suddenly harsh question Don quickly shook his head. The denial made all the more urgent as the acrid smell of the recently fired gun reached his senses. He didn't have a clue why his neighbour had been raided. He opened his mouth to try to speak but Parker beat him to it.
"Nah, you're barely ever here," the man said before interpreting the new expression on his captive's face. "I'm not going to tell you what they're after me for, they Mirandized me and you're a fed. If they found me they've probably got enough to put me away. The important part is I don't want to go to jail."
Now Don allowed himself a grimace. That much he understood all too clearly.
"Yeah, sorry." Parker actually did sound regretful. He waved his left hand in a gesture Don took to mean his neck. "And sorry about that, it hurt me probably nearly as much as it hurt you."
Parker rubbed at the back of his right wrist with his spare hand and Don saw the welt there, matched by the one on the back of his left. They did look painful but he found it hard to believe they hurt as much as his neck and throat did. He couldn't find any sympathy for the man even as he wondered at the man's sudden apparent empathy for him so he simply stared back.
"Don't care, huh? Fair enough I guess, given the circumstances. But it doesn't matter what you think, you're going to be my ticket out of here."
This time he slowly shook his head in an effort to tell the man that he wasn't going to get what he wanted.
Parker misunderstood. "That's the way it's going to be," he said firmly. "So, how does this work? They call and I make the demand, right?"
Don sighed then swallowed carefully as his throat spasmed at the larger movement of air. Anyone who'd ever seen a cop show or movie would know how it worked. A nod.
Parker closely inspected the keys in his hand. "Suburban?" Receiving a positive response he added, "Black, I'm guessing. Where is it parked, basement?"
"Good. Hey, you want some water?"
All this nodding and shaking of his head because he couldn't speak was not helping his injured throat and he'd started hacking again. Unable now due to the restraint of the cuffs to use his hands to support his neck his throat hurt even more with each cough than it had earlier and he tried to bring himself under control. He managed another nod. He didn't know if he was going to be able to swallow the water but he wanted some.
Parker moved to the kitchen and Don saw a carving knife sitting on the bench top, clearly after knocking him to the floor Parker had grabbed the first available weapon before making a search of his apartment. He'd probably just been checking to see if his hostage was alone but after finding the gun he wanted earlier he'd discarded the knife.
As the man started opening cabinets to look for a glass Don saw a chance and glanced quickly at his door.