Numb3rs: Hostage

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.


CHAPTER FOUR

Don pulled the SUV to a stop, putting the vehicle into park a moment before the keys were pulled from the ignition.

They'd been driving for an hour with no challenge. Don's earlier manoeuvring had seemed to do the trick, throwing off any immediate pursuit. Parker had ordered him to slow back to the speed limit after they'd gone another few blocks with the result that the black SUV was lost in the background of the thickening morning traffic. He'd heard a helicopter pass overhead a short time later after they'd reached the Pasadena Freeway but by that time their SUV was just one of the black SUVs that littered Los Angeles roads and the machine had moved on. Only his plates distinguished his vehicle and they were hard enough to spot clearly from the air. He'd seen an obviously patrolling black & white at one point on the 210 but it was on the wrong side of the road separated by a concrete divider and it also passed on without recognising them. He'd been about to try to signal the squad car by flashing his headlights but Parker had been watching him carefully and he'd kept both hands on the wheel.

They ended up travelling more north than west as Parker directed him off the 210 onto smaller and smaller roads until they drove through suburbia. They had finally turned onto a road that diminished into little more than a mountain trail winding its way upwards above Altadena.

Looking around he did not like what he could see. They were completely alone, the small dirt area he'd been instructed to pull into off the dirt trail was completely deserted and they'd not passed another vehicle for some time. Beyond the edge of the dirt were scrubby trees. Anything could happen and no one would hear let alone be able to intervene. In rising trepidation he turned to face Parker.

"Hands on the wheel," Parker ordered as he opened his door. "Don't move."

In a reverse of what had happened in the basement of his building Parker moved around the front of the SUV, gun pointing through the windshield the whole way. Next he pulled open the driver's door and stood back, waving the gun in a clear instruction.

"Out."

Don climbed down and following the next jerk of the gun closed his door and walked ahead of Parker towards a thicker stand of trees.

The promise to let him go if they succeeded in their escape seemed an unlikely prospect now as the trees loomed closer. A bullet in the back of his head out here and his body may not be found for weeks, if at all. Don slowed as he tried desperately to think of a way out, searching the ground ahead of him for any potential weapons. He had just the one advantage; Parker had not re-cuffed him so his hands were free.

"Move it!" Parker ordered impatiently, shoving the agent in the back.

Without thinking Don took the opportunity and spun quickly to the left, arms up and moving across his body. He'd guessed right, managing to strike at Parker's gun arm, pushing it outwards and away. Then the dirt shifted beneath his feet putting him off balance enough that he was unable to follow through with a grab for the gun. Instead Don balled his right fist and aimed it at Parker's head, the weight of the handcuffs about his wrist adding momentum. He connected but Parker had used Don's initial push to twist away and the blow was not as successful as he'd hoped.

Parker now ducked and spun, a foot lashing out just as Don was trying to recover from his strike. The foot hooked his ankle and Don tumbled. He rolled and came up setting himself to swing again but Parker was ready and this time it was his fist that connected and Don found himself again on the dusty ground. He lashed out with a leg but missed as Parker moved back, right arm coming up.

Lying helplessly on his back Don held up his hands as the gun steadied on target, Parker too far away for him to do anything.

"Don't do this." Don's words were rough but understandable. The injury to his throat had eased enough now that he could now talk after a fashion.

Parker wiped at the blood at the corner of his mouth where the agent's fist had connected. He jerked the gun angrily. "Why shouldn't I after what you just tried?"

Don cleared his throat after a cough, the need to speak overwhelming any pain it cost him. It was all he had left to save himself. "I'm betting you haven't killed anyone before and..." His words trailed off at the change of expression on Parker's face.

"I have killed before." The words were cold and completely truthful.

Don managed a painful swallow in a throat suddenly gone dry. He hadn't expected that. He'd believed that the man could but didn't think he'd actually killed before. The admission alone was more than enough motivation now for Parker to kill him. He froze, hardly daring to breathe as he waited helplessly for whatever Parker decided to do next.

"I made a deal with you."

"I got you away," Don argued. Despite the roughness of his voice the accusing tone made it through clearly enough. He had held up his end only to have been forced into a remote area where the only outcome he could see was death.

"And I was going to let you go."

Don waited as the silence stretched, his focus shifting to the finger resting on the Glock's trigger. Finally he could stand it no longer. "And now?"

"And now I've got enough heat on me without killing a fed," Parker finally said taking a step back and relaxing his aim slightly.

Don dropped his hands and lay back, catching his breath in relief. He was far from out of danger but the moment had passed. He heard keys jingling as he waited.

"Get up," Parker finally ordered.

Bringing his hands back up Don nodded, taking another moment to coordinate himself enough to roll over and climb carefully to his feet.

"Catch," Parker said.

Don flinched as the man's left hand moved, tossing something small that flashed silver at him. He snatched at it but his coordination was off enough after the adrenalin dump of a few minutes ago that it bounced off his hand before he could close his fingers. As it landed in the dirt he recognised the handcuff key.

"Pick it up and cuff yourself to a tree over there."

He looked in the direction the gun had jerked, seeing the denser set of trees he'd been walking towards earlier. The darker green of their colouring suggested there was perhaps even a small creek in the gully he could see their midst. Slowly he bent and picked up the key. "And then what?"

"Then I leave and call in where I've left you."

He hesitated thinking that leaving him to die of exposure chained to a tree was as good as shooting him but then he remembered Parker claiming not to want the additional heat of killing him. He was about to open his mouth when another thought struck him. Parker had not moved, had instead ordered the agent to head to the trees. Don tested it, taking a couple of careful steps backwards, keeping his gaze locked on the other man. Parker stayed rooted to the spot, keeping the gun up and tracking him but making no move to follow. Don backed away further but still Parker didn't follow. Another few yards found him at the edge of the trees. He stopped and glanced into the stand, picking out a path before turning back to see Parker backing away, stepping towards the SUV.

Don recalled Parker's words from back in his apartment, he'd given the man a chance and so he would be given a chance in return. This was it, his chance. As if sensing his thoughts Parker jerked his head. Don needed no further encouragement, turning and running into the trees following the path he'd picked out. He didn't glance back, just moved as quickly as he could down into the gully, splashing across the shallow trickle and up the other side. Now he stopped with his back to a tree and held his breath as he listened for sound of pursuit. All he heard was the rumble of the SUV as it drove down the road a short distance away. He looked towards the sound through the trees and saw a last flash of sunlight off a window as the vehicle turned a corner. His legs suddenly lost their strength and he slid down to sit on the ground panting hard as the SUV faded into the distance.


He later wasn't able to describe how long he'd sat there but eventually he got himself back to his feet and down to the small creek where he drank some water to ease the burning in his throat. It took a couple of attempts but he got the cuffs off his wrist and shoved into his pocket before he started walking. He kept to the trees rather than the road itself even as he felt sure that Parker was long gone. Finally he reached the first of a line of houses and he watched for a few minutes before moving out from concealment.

Things moved rather quickly after that. The teenage boy at the first house he tried let him in, gave him some more water and called 911. A short time later the narrow street was crowded with marked and unmarked police cars, a few black FBI SUVs and one lonely paramedic's bus. A helicopter roared overhead, making its way up into the hills even as Don insisted Parker was not up there.

Despite his protests he found himself bundled into the ambulance for a ride down to hospital to have his throat checked with an agent and Detective Goodridge travelling with him to get his statement. It was a frustrating ride for them all when the paramedic fussing over him insisted that he should rest his throat and not speak. Don finally took the detective's notebook and jotted down what had happened from leaving his apartment to arriving at the house. All he could do was shake his head when asked where Parker may be heading, he just didn't know.

It was the agent that came up with their first break, they finally got a fix on the SUVs GPS transponder. There had been a glitch in the system that had prevented them tracking it before now. By the time they had arrived at the hospital news came back from the agents and police that had followed the signal. The SUV had been abandoned in a shopping centre parking lot. Three vehicles were reported stolen around that time, with each being found before the day was out.

"He's gone then." Don said against doctor's orders to rest his damaged throat.

Detective Goodridge nodded. It was late in the evening and he was sitting on the couch that had been shot in Don's apartment. He'd been giving the agent a run down on the investigation. "We've had sightings but you know how reliable they are."

The agent nodded. Parker's description had been released to the media with most television stations and radio networks saturating the airwaves with the information. It was rare even in LA that they got a story as thrilling as an FBI agent being held hostage and forced to drive across the city in broad daylight. The LAPD were copping a beating over their early handling of the situation but at least the description of the fugitive was out there, the bad press they were used to.

Goodridge glanced over at the agent's relatives that were hovering in the kitchen, giving the illusion of privacy even if it seemed they weren't willing to leave the agent alone. He'd seen their reaction when they'd arrived at the hospital and sympathised. It was never easy when a cop or agent in this case, was threatened or injured. He'd been so sure that the situation was going to end badly and had been so relieved when it hadn't that he taken their anger calmly as he explained what had happened whilst the agent had received medical treatment. The looks that were sent his way now weren't exactly friendly but were less accusing than they'd been earlier now that they'd received the whole story from both sides.

Goodridge stood. "I think I'll leave you to it, Agent."

"Thank-you, Detective." Don said as he escorted the man to the door. "Keep me up to date."

"Sure." Goodridge replied, shaking hands. They both knew finding Parker now was unlikely.

Turning back from the door Don found his father and Charlie both heading towards him. He reached out and took the offered beer from his father's hand as they settled back on the couches. Ironically the beer was actually, in a roundabout way, medically recommended. It was cold and he'd been told to have cold drinks to ease the swelling in his throat.

"Will he be back?" Alan asked. He' heard the conversation but wanted reassurance.

After a long swallow of his beer Don shook his head. "He's in the wind, Dad. He's got no reason to come back and every reason to keep his head down."

"LAPD are sending the Bureau everything they have on him," Charlie said. "They were about to anyway before they found him."

Don nodded. Parker had been wanted for extortion and kidnapping. There had been a spate of the crimes over the last two weeks with most not reported until the last few days. The LAPD had run out some inquiries their end, reluctant to simply hand it over as protocol dictated. Even so they'd been about to call in the FBI when they'd got a break and ID'd the offender. Unusually it seemed Parker had been working alone.

He'd arrived in town the month before, moving into a furnished apartment in Don's building with little more than a suitcase of clothes. He'd spent two weeks getting the lay of the land before starting on his spree. Subsequent investigations after the attack on Don had turned up two other cities where Parker was believed to have operated under other names. He would strike again, that much Don was sure of. Unless Charlie found him first.

He raised his beer bottle. "Here's to your expressions, Charlie. With you on the case, Parker doesn't stand a chance."

"Here, here." Alan echoed.

END

A/N: I hope the quick ending doesn't disappoint but it really wasn't to Parker's advantage to take the agent with him any further.

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