Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior Fanfiction Number Eight
Ticket To Heaven
First Summary- A recent string of murders in Alaska takes the Red Cell team into unfamiliar territory to find a killer.
Second Summary- A recent string of murders in Alaska takes the Red Cell team into unfamiliar territory to find a killer. In the after math of Josephine Blair's death, the team must put their own fears aside to work the case effectively. New evidence and a shocking discovery complicates the case, tying Jo's killer to the new string of murders.
Rated High-Teen for cursing, blood, violence, alcohol, mentions of child abuse, and gore. Those will be kept as low as possible without compromising the storyline.
Pairings are Mick/Gina, but not quite together yet. It's a slow building relationship that advances with every story.
Some spoilers for the first season. Major spoilers for Siblings, Evil Angel, One Thousand, Monster, Demolition Lovers, Walk Away From The Sun, and Old City Bar. This is the eighth story in my own arc of the show now that it's been cancelled. You might want to read those first if you haven't already. It takes place three days after the end of Old City Bar.
I don't own anything involving Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior. Nor do I own anything involving the music mentioned in future chapters. The only things I do own are my creations. I am simply burrowing them for my own entertainment.
This is another case fiction similar to Demolition Lovers. It takes place in Alaska, which was thoroughly researched this time. Google and Wikipedia really has become my lifeline in setting the details for these stories. There might be some things that don't seem completely believable. I don't live in Alaska and have never been to the state, so I'm going on what the internet has told me alone. Any spelling and grammar mistakes are my own. Please don't verbally kill me for a typo. The first chapter is written in standard perspective, the rest of the story will be told from Gina's point of view.
Now, on to the story!
Chapter 27 We Proposed A Better Way
Just over two days. Two victims, one of which is dead and his son will never be the same teenager again. One unsub casualty. Another taken by the CIA while the other fled the country. A detective, or undercover CIA operative, used to spy on us because we got involved in something extremely classified and horrendously dangerous. The plot of a secret investigation brought to light and revealed more open wounds on our youngest teammate than any of us truly ever imagined. Hours of dramatics and insomnia to impede rational thought. Inexcusable actions to be used as leverage to expel us from the FBI. Stress, anxiety, heart wrenching fears that would be the source of my nightmares for the next several months. Injuries and exhaustion to hamper our physical well-beings. A final threat to the operatives who stole the case from us, who forced Cooper to surrender in spite of his better judgment, spoken with such rage and sincerity to validate what I feared Mick would do in the future.
Then we were going home?
No, there is always more to the story than this.
Insomnia is an unfortunate caveat in my line of work. Finding a suitable method to achieve proper rest, when the torturous events of the past days repeated in my head like an annoying looped song, could have been compared to removing my own teeth with pliers. Which just sounds like the correct analogy despite the rather gruesome mental image it painted. Nothing, no matter what I tried, carried my endless thoughts into oblivion. And my tolerance was rapidly depleting as the minutes ticked by.
As our private jet flew over southern Ohio the soft patter of freezing rain against the exterior and the minor turbulence mingled with the rest of the distracting, and frustrating, nuances that kept me awake. Snores from Cooper and Prophet were muffled by the distant hum of the engines. The occasional shuffle of paperwork once spread on mounted tables sliding to the carpeted floor, pens rolling along the surface in unison with the swaying jet, Mick's constant shift of hands or feet on the couch stationed behind me caused by whatever hellish dream plagued him, the buzz of Mick's MP3 blaring heavy metal music, all seemed to echo around me. I had to resist the urge to either wake my teammates and beg them to stop creating noise, which would have made me sound like an absolute ass, or plug my ears with something. Sleeping with that level of noise had never been a problem in the past. At that particular moment though, I couldn't drown every other noise around me because it was all too loud.
Cooper, after our second stop in Washington state before the five hour flight to DC and a quick meal of sandwiches bought at the airport to suppress hunger until we were home, ordered everyone to rest. But after three hours of unsuccessful meditation and irritating unease, I couldn't obey. If the noises hadn't been so unnerving, the constant intuition feeling that I had missed something critically vital to the case was sure to deprive me of sleep.
Everyone else had drifted into some formation of slumber shortly after we divided the blankets and pillows between us. We curled in reclined seats, clung to warm blankets and pillows, and tried to relax until we arrived home. Well, everyone except Mick. He had only been sleeping, fitfully I might add, for an hour. Stretched on the couch with his boots removed carelessly to the floor by his feet, blanket and pillow partially thrown off in the midst of his dream, worn MP3 limp in one hand while the earphones themselves were tucked in his ears, and position coming dangerously close to falling onto the floor should the plane decide to rattle harder once again. I was tempted to wake him before he lost his hearing to the music. However, he needed sleep possibly more than anyone else and if the scream of guitars accomplished that, then I had no desire to interrupt. Besides, some rational portion of me suggested that it wasn't the music itself that lulled him to sleep, but the familiarity it brought because it was probably something he and his brother listened to often. It was probably something Liam practiced on his own guitar and Mick found comfort in it.
Two hours before we were scheduled to land in DC, I abandoned any preconceived notions of sleep with a grimace and huff of frustration. Twisting in the reclined seat to face the interior of the plane and away from the shaded window I had been fixated on, I kicked the blanket providing warmth aimlessly and readjusted the pillow behind my head for the umpteenth time. I pushed away the sharp pinch of stitches being pulled in my side and strained my eyes to see my teammates through the dimmed interior.
The storm clouds we were passing under masked early afternoon sunlight, making the few strips of pale lights mounted against the ceiling the best source of illumination. Still, they were more than enough to gather visual of the tables littered with pieces of the scarce case files Cooper managed to retain after the CIA dictated rank. I contemplated occupying my thoughts with the data again, reciting what we learned in a vein attempt to make it more sensible. If only I could find the motivation to do so.
The tension that restricted sleep most likely derived not only from the troubling things I had seen lately, but Mick's explanation of the events on the Russian icebreaker ship Surkov used to escape. None of it coincided with the profile we created for the assassin. She shouldn't have let him go unscathed, with only a verbal deal to ensure things ended in her favor. It was wrong and I knew it, but I couldn't voice my suspicion because I had no proof that he had been lying. For all I knew, Rais's only reason for targeting him was because he was different in terms of every other person with his personality. Because Mick was intriguing. I could always determine when he was lying. But not this time.
"Couldn't sleep?" Prophet's calm, and somewhat drowsy, tone brought me out of my stupor. It was whispered and clouded with sleep, suggesting he had just woken. He cocked his head towards me, opposite my own seat on the other side of the isle, and smiled tiredly in reassurance. The blanket was kicked away as he maneuvered to look at our teammates, then folded and placed on the armrest between him and the window. He rose from his seat a moment later, stretching to crack the kinks from stiff bones and muscles, and took the empty seat directly opposite me. "You want to talk about it?" He asked quietly as he folded his hands in his lap, eyes trailing to Mick's leg hung over the couch behind me.
I shrugged wordlessly and fumbled with the blanket between my fingers. What was there to discuss? Home was roughly two hours away. The case from hell was given to a CIA team so they would be responsible for whatever happened to Surkov, Sava, and Rais. True, we had few answers involving the investigation Mick devoted his life to solving. But it was all circumstantial. In the end, we were left with nothing physically tying Rais to the events in Alaska. We had no other choice but to go home and face whatever punishment Fickler had in store for our disobedience. I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if we lost our job over this nightmare.
Of course, all of that was just technicalities.
Prophet relaxed in the clothed seat and rubbed the gloved appendages over his eyes. "Gina, it's over now. We're going home…"
"With no answers." I interrupted sternly. My voice must have been louder than intended because I heard the shuffle of blankets to indicate that one of my teammates may have heard me. I bit my tongue for a moment, one hand finding it's way through my scarf to subconsciously abuse my necklace. Then leaned forward to rest my elbows on the table and yanked off my winter hat, pulling my hair down to keep my fingers busy. "The CIA took everything. We were just pawns. Desna was a plant, a spy, and we didn't even see it. Now Sava is probably going to be locked in a hole somewhere and we're not even one step closer to finding who the hell is behind any of this mess." I continued in a whisper. "I guess it just bothers me that we were fooled so easily. That we had been lied to from the beginning."
His expression fell into something more serious as I spoke, as the realization finally sank in, and the uncomfortable silence between us was more unnerving than any of the noises surrounding us. I assumed he understood the parameters of what we were leaving behind. However, he didn't truly want to acknowledge them yet. He just wanted to leave the case behind and return home, without the worries and troubles we had been facing recently. I could respect that, envy it even, but I couldn't live in the same perspective as he did.
I didn't know how.
"So you don't believe that Mick's telling the truth either?" He asked, leaning forward to minimize the chances of being heard by our teammates.
And I guess that was the real reason behind everything. One lie after the other muddled the waters for any relationships. If Mick couldn't trust us enough to be honest, how could we trust him? How could we understand the mess he was involved in if he refused to share the most crucial details?
I bowed my head slightly, finding the section of polished wood rather fascinating for several seconds. Once I could formulate a proper response I nodded hesitantly. "It doesn't make sense. Someone goes to such extremes to ruin someone else's life simply because they're different?" I nearly smirked at how ridiculous it sounded. "No, that can't be the only explanation and he knows that. If he has the answer as to why the hell Rais is doing this, why won't he just tell us? Surkov told him something damning about the operation and he's just keeping it to himself. He lied to us though but I find any physical proof to that. So I can't confront him about it…"
Prophet intervened my hushed ramblings with a shake of his head and raise of his hand. "I get it. Once everything calms down, we're sure Fickler isn't going to fire us or the CIA isn't going to make our lives hell for interfering, then we can try to figure this out. You're right though. He did lie to cover his own ass, although I'm not sure what he was trying to hide exactly. But it doesn't really matter now. It's over for the time being. We'll have some kind of family intervention later. Hopefully, between all of us, we can convince him to start moving on with his life."
It felt as if I had deflated. Like the tension and anxiety that had kept me awake for more than twelve hours was finally starting to abate. I exhaled loudly and removed my hands from my necklace and braided pony-tail. Relaxation wasn't immediate but understanding was. Reading between the lines, what I couldn't see through the fog of conflicting emotions, I understood what Prophet was wisely stating.
The case itself was over. We were alive and on our way home. True, there was still work to be done involving Mick and the Rais case. That could wait until we were safe again. Until we were home and had a chance to clean ourselves up after the most recent trauma. For the time being, I should have been grateful to just be alive and on the plane two hours from DC. It angered me to think that all of our hard work was taken from us on the basis of secrecy, but what else could we do?
"That was probably one of the wisest things you have ever said." I replied, sinking back into the seat and tugging the blanket restlessly.
He smirked and folded his hands on the table, tapping a finger against the wood. "Yes it is. I think I'm proud of myself for that. Considering I'm in desperate need of caffeine and a real bed to sleep on…"
"And a shower." Beth's muttered addition from the seat behind him caused us to jump in surprise. Judging by the groggy tone, she hadn't been awake for long enough to hear the entire conversation. She peeked her head over the back of Prophet's seat, resting her chin on her arms with the blanket still clinging to her shoulders. A curious expression formed as she watched me, silently trying to understand why we were still awake.
Prophet twisted in the seat, leaning against the wall beside the window, and blinked at her. "Thanks Beth, I appreciate that." He retorted sarcastically.
She ignored his sarcasm and started to question why I looked as though I hadn't slept within the last few hours. But the ring of someone's cell phone disrupted her train of thought. It wasn't a personal ring tone so I wasn't convinced that it originated from my own in my purse on the floor beside my feet. The phone's battery was partially drained, despite the hour I left it plugged into the charger during our meal in the Washington airport. Still, I brought the bag to the surface of the table to retrieve the device anyways. Prophet and Beth followed, frowning slightly as we realized that it didn't come from own. Cooper and Flores stirred at the sound but didn't wake. After a few more rings I realized that it came from behind me. Or rather, from one of Mick's many coat pockets.
I hesitated for a moment, unsure if it was better to allow it to go to his voice-mail. Although, if his sister was calling again to ask how much longer until we were home, she would undoubtedly panic when she couldn't reach him. He did call twice during our flight to tell her that we were physically okay, for the most part, and he would see her soon. The agents assigned to watch her and Nikola until we could find the person who broke into my apartment had taken her to our office earlier that morning. They were a new team of agents supposedly hand-picked by Fickler himself, and I didn't trust them. But Penelope was with them, probably gathering humorous information about Mick as Jenna recited adventurous childhood stories. Both her and Nikola were safe and Jenna knew it would only be a few hours until she could see her brother. So why was she calling for the third time?
After a quick nod from Prophet, I untangled myself from the blanket and rose from the seat. I used the luggage storage racks above my head to remain silent and steady as I approached Mick, not wanting to wake him just yet. The plane jerked with turbulence a few times. I paused long enough to watch him tighten his grasp on the MP3, subconsciously ensuring it wouldn't fall to the floor and take the earphones with it. Once I was sure he drifted to sleep again, I closed the distance between us and dropped to my knees beside him. I did manage to wrap the scratches surrounding his wrists in new sterile cloth hours before and I knew they were still sore. So I had to be gentle when moving the hand inches from the floor and back to rest against his side. He stirred for a second when I repositioned his foot to the armrest beside the other. But didn't wake even after I fished in his coat pockets beneath the blanket, ignoring the onslaught of jokes I knew Beth had on the tip of her tongue, and retrieved the vibrating phone.
My assumption of Jenna calling to badger her brother again was proved correct as soon as I read the caller ID. Every time Jenna contacted us she used a land-line phone. The number wasn't imputed on Mick's contact list, but I had memorized the digits of our office phone shortly after Cooper installed it.
I waited a few moments longer because the sound of Cooper's phone echoed through the cabin. It startled him from sleep on the second ring, and he removed it from his coat without any hesitation. My teammates watched him mumble a response and scrub his eyes with large gloved hands tiredly. Then pushed himself to sit upright and reached in front of him to wake Flores.
"I need to talk to Mick now." Jenna stated urgently as soon as I announced that Mick wasn't the one answering. She sounded angry and scared, holding the same clipped tone beneath her accent that Mick carried when he was moments from losing his temper. Considering the expression on Cooper's face as well, something happened at the office and she was pissed about whatever it was.
I glanced at my teammates, then slid back towards Mick. He jerked awake when I yanked the earphones from his ears, blinking to clear sleep as he stared at me in confusion. His eyes fixed on the phone still pressed against my ear. The frown on his features as he pushed himself upright and removed the device from my hand suggested that he didn't appreciate my intrusion of privacy. I pulled the blanket he had thrown on the floor to drape over the side of the couch as he swung his legs to the floor in front of him. Then sat beside him and gently weaved my hand to his phone and turned on the speaker to hear the younger Rawson through the phone.
"Michael Gareth Rawson, what the bloody hell did you get yourself into this time?" Jenna shouted.
Mick cringed at the use of his full name, rubbing his eyes furiously as he ground his teeth. No one, except perhaps his family, Cooper, and me, were supposed to know that his birth given name wasn't actually Mick. That his mother shortened his name when he was two years old because he couldn't pronounce it with missing front teeth. I only knew because in his drunken state over a year before, he rambled about how he liked his shortened name rather than his original. My other teammates were watching him intently after hearing Jenna's outburst, somewhat confused and concerned. Beth mouthed his middle name to Mick, questioning if Jenna was serious. He mumbled a quick 'shut it' before he addressed his sister. "Jenna, people can hear you…"
"I'm sure they can and I really don't care. Do you know why I'm so pissed at you right now? Did Cooper tell you yet?" She intervened sharply.
We looked towards Cooper for insight immediately, mutely begging him to tell us what the hell was going on. He turned in his seat to look at us, expression just as uncertain as our own. In those few seconds I felt more restless and anxious than I had since Mick crossed the frozen Bering sea bridge without us. Something was terribly wrong. I knew it before Cooper could confirm.
"Someone sent a package to the office addressed to you. Jenna didn't recognize the handwriting or address on the box so she opened it."
"A damned finger, Mick. Someone cut off someone else's bloody finger and put it in a box for you to find. What the bloody hell could you possibly be involved in that would do this? I mean, last time this shit happened, you and Cooper were still looking for that terrorist…" Jenna ranted loudly, disguising fear with anger that thickened her accent.
"Jenna!" Mick disrupted with a hiss of frustration. "We're on our way home now. Just stay with the agents until we get there. And don't open any more mail."
The fact that someone had left such a disgusting item for Mick struck all of us as worrisome. We didn't know who the lost appendage belonged to or who delivered it. Although I had a fairly suitable theory to that. The idea that someone was able to deliver it to our supposedly safe office while agents were present imposed the thought that it wasn't as safe as we anticipated. There was a flaw in security somewhere and whoever left the package knew it. Which put everyone in danger until we could figure out how that was possible.
"The kid who delivered the package is being held for questioning." Cooper added, undoubtedly trying to offer some kind of reassurance. "So far Fickler hasn't gotten anything out of him and he doubts we will. The finger is already being sent to a DNA and forensics lab now. We should know more about it within the week. Penelope is running through security and traffic cameras in the area to retrace the kid's steps. Unfortunately she says that he just shows up a mile from the gym. Before that, she's having a hard time placing where he started."
"Any obvious affiliations to Rais or his organization?" Flores questioned.
As Cooper replied with a shrug, Jenna asked, "Rais? That's the bastard who hurt you and Liam all those years ago. You think he's behind this?" For a brief moment she didn't sound angry. She sounded like a scared twenty three year old woman, worried that her brother may have stepped into something drastically suicidal again. "Mick, you didn't tell me…"
Mick ended the open speaker with an uncomfortable jab of his finger against the button and slid the phone back to his ear. "Can we talk about this later? Preferably after food and a drink from the local pub?"
I listened to him try to compromise with his sister, reciting the basics just to ease her endless curiosities. Really, my thoughts were somewhere else once the information clicked into something more sensible. The finger was probably sent by one of Rais's many associates or followers. As for who it belonged to, Surkov was the most sensible explanation. But somehow I doubted he would punish her to such an extreme. He still needed her to function.
So who did Rais de-finger and what was the purpose in sending it to Mick?
DC was just as I remembered it.
Compared to the hypothermic temperatures we endured in Alaska for two days, the thirty five degree weather was bliss. The streets were still lined with snow and ice in patches, melting in the afternoon sun that poured through dense fluffy clouds above. Icicles could be heard shattering to the ground below, few caught in the shoveled mounds of snow piled against the corners of streets and buildings. Christmas lights continued to be a theme among shop windows and would probably remain that way until the end of the year. People, mostly children with their parents, enjoyed the weather by creating unique snowmen in the miniature mountains of snow and ice. They wouldn't last more than a few days but it was priceless entertainment and decorations nonetheless.
It felt good to finally be home. Unfortunately the feeling didn't last long.
"So your real name is Michael Gareth Rawson? Why doesn't that surprise me?" Beth questioned as Prophet maneuvered our SUV into the parking space in front of the brick building containing our gym base. She was the second to exit the vehicle, waiting until Flores was out of the way and opening the trunk, balancing a tray of sealed paper coffee cups and a large bag of take-out from the fast-food restaurant a few blocks away in her hands. Her purse was still draped over her shoulder and neck, swinging at her hip as she slid on the sidewalk. Snow and ice crunched under her boots and I grimaced in unison at the familiarity of it. I knew she was just teasing Mick again but I couldn't see the smirk beneath her scarf. It was there though, hinted with a pointed look at the younger man. "You know, you could have told us, Michael Gareth. Unless you think it sounds too British…"
Mick, crawling out of the middle seat behind her, rolled his eyes. "It's Welsh, not British. There is a difference. And my name is Mick. Always has been. Just because it says otherwise on paper doesn't mean it's true." He crossed to the other side of the car, beside me, and pulled my door open while I was still gathering both of our bags. I hesitated when he outstretched his hand for his tattered tan bag, knowing that he was only able to stand straight with all the bruises along his spine because he had taken the maximum dosage of Tylenol shortly before our plane landed. He seemed to read my thoughts as he reached for the bag, wrapping his gloved hand into the patched handle and removing it from my grasp. "I'm fine, love." He mumbled through his scarf as he offered his opposite hand to help me remain steady on the slick road.
Prophet chose that moment to switch off the engine and exit the driver seat. He slammed the door with unnecessary force and headed for the trunk with Cooper and Flores to retrieve our luggage. Pausing behind Mick, he clapped a hand on the younger man's shoulder and suggested, "Why don't you two go inside before you both fall down from exhaustion. We'll get the luggage and meet you in a minute." It was more of an order than anything else. Normally we didn't take orders from him unless we were working on a case and Cooper was unavailable. But I wasn't going to object.
I rubbed Mick's shoulder when Prophet pulled away, hoping the grimace and flash of paranoia in his eyes wasn't noticed by anyone else. Physical contact by others as of late had been restricted. It wasn't a conscious decision though. The motion was meant to relax the sting of bruised muscles Prophet had accidentally engaged and it seemed to be working. He didn't protest the order and followed in line with my steps towards the building.
"I like the name. It's strong, kind of wise like something you would hear from an old English history book." I stated as Beth led us to the door. The items in her hands constricted the use of her fingers to unlock the door via the keypad on the wall beside the grate security cover over the metal. I gently nudged her aside and started to impute my security code, mutely pondering over why Jenna or Penelope wasn't greeting us already.
According to Mick, they knew our plane landed almost an hour before. So why weren't they opening the door? Why wasn't Jenna trying to suffocate her brother in a bone crushing hug? Jenna was pissed at Mick because she was afraid that he had gotten himself into trouble again and didn't bother to tell her. But she wouldn't hold the grudge when he arrived home. Where was Penelope with the other FBI agents? Or Fickler to chastise and punish us for our unauthorized endeavors over the past two days? Something about the silence, about the lack of excitement from Jenna or Penelope or even Fickler caused a new level of anxiety I didn't need to voice. My sudden pause from finishing to type in my security code was enough indication to my teammates.
"Something's wrong." Mick murmured, allowing the bag over his shoulder to slide down his arm and onto the ground with an audible thud. He brought his cell phone from his coat pocket once more and dialed a number from memory, placing it on speaker for us to hear. It rang a few times before the voice-mail initiated and Penelope's excitable tone advised us to leave a message. He did the same with the office phone, which didn't have a custom voice-mail, but we weren't able to talk with an actual person.
At that point Beth had caught what we were suspecting, turning towards Cooper and Prophet as they approached to ask one of them to dial the director of the FBI, who we knew was supposed to still be in the building with the other FBI agents. Cooper set the luggage on the ground beside his feet and attempted to contact Fickler with his phone. After a few rings he stared at the screen, then slid it into his pocket and removed his gun from the holster. Beth returned the food and drinks to the car before following our lead. "No one is answering so something's wrong in there. Penelope always has her phone on, hell, it's practically glued to her, and none of the agents have come out to greet us yet. You don't think…" Beth pondered aloud, trailing off at my stern glare.
She didn't need to finish. We all knew the worst case scenario upon entering. I just prayed that it wasn't even close to that.
I finished entering my security code and raised my gun in one hand steadily. At the count of three, Beth opened the metal grate and the interior door and stepped aside. We filed in instantly, single file with guns ready and eyes sharp. Cooper and Prophet took point, veering towards the two entrance rooms. They abandoned them a moment later, nodding to us in acknowledgement that it was clear. Mick and I led our teammates towards the open gym area, boots clicking on the hardwood despite my unspoken curses to myself for the noise. We hadn't seen a single person and that could only mean something horrendously bad had happened in our absence. But we had just talked to Fickler forty minutes before. What could happen between the time it took to leave the airport to the moments of our arrival?
The gym area held the answer. Although it wasn't one I truly desired.
The door blocking entrance to the stairs leading down to the gym itself was riddled with holes. Broken glass from the window scattered around the floor beneath us, embedding in the soles of our boots and cutting the floor with every scuffle. We recognized them as bullet holes without a second look. Size, the fact that the glass was on the outside of the door leading out, and the ruined shade that was obstructing our view of inside painted a very terrifying picture. They were FBI issue rounds, similar to what Beth or Prophet or I used, meaning the shooter had an agent's weapon. Or the shooter was an agent. No, that did not help my fears.
On the count of two I threw open the door and stepped forward to march down the stairs with my gun poised. But the sight before us was unprecedented to anything I had imagined. Five agents I had never met before were scattered across the gym floor. Various wounds in dark coats leaked blood onto the once polished surface. Head-shots, torso shots, cheap immobilizing wounds to the knees or arms, even a single gory hole through one agent's eye. Too much of the thick red substance encompassed their lifeless corpses to suggest the remote possibility that they were still alive. One agent, the closest to the stairs, still clung his weapon splayed in his outstretched hand. I tried to look away from the seeping hole through his right eye, but found myself staring at it in stunned fascination. The differences in wounds may have suggested an untrained marksman, but the positions of every corpse was more telling. They had been running after the shooter when they were gunned down. Bullets embedded in the walls beside us implied that they had managed to fire a few return shots.
Hopefully one of them was successful in nailing the bastard that did this so we would have DNA upon analysis.
"Oh my lord…" Flores muttered behind me. And that was exactly how all of us felt at that second. Too shocked for proper words. We had no time to steel ourselves for the possibilities of what we were going to find.
"Jenna…" Mick snapped us out of our shock with the desperate and terrified whisper of his sister's name. He shoved past before any of us could respond, nearly causing me to lose my grip on the stair railing. "Jenna!" He screamed loud enough to echo through the building, making his voice slightly hoarse and accent thicker.
The panic was more than justified once we saw what he had paused to stare at in horror. A partial shoe print smudged in blood, the heel of a woman's one inch heeled snow boot, pointed towards the lockers and showers room. It had to belong to Jenna.
I shook myself back to reality and jumped down the stairs two at a time. Landing with an uncomfortable thud on the floor, I took off as fast as my glass riddled boots would carry me across the ruined hardwood. Mick was several feet ahead, zigzagging around the unfortunate agents that littered our gym. I tried to catch him, to stop him so we could search the rest of the building safely. But there was no use in speaking logic to him. His sister was in danger and if the evidence around us gave any clue, she could have been dying at that very second. So I understood his need to find her, to make sure she was safe, and I ignored all else to assist. Because if she ever truly disappeared from his life, he probably wouldn't want to live anymore. And I couldn't bare the thought of watching him go through that again.
My teammates were moments behind. While Mick and I headed for the lockers and showers on the far left side of the room, they skirted around us to the opposite staircase leading to the office and conference rooms. They were careful of the evidence, just as I was, and ushered each other forward wordlessly. Cooper took point once more, gun lowered slightly but still ready. It only took a few agonizingly long seconds to clear the length of the gym and stand in position by each entrance.
Procedure dictated that we give acknowledgement to fellow teammates before going into a potentially deadly situation. If something were to happen, like one of us were to get shot, then the other would be able to provide backup. Cooper, for all of the fear that portrayed on his face, followed that rule because it worked. Because it saved lives. I heard them open the doors above and rush in, shouting clear to each other through the walls. They didn't return a moment later like before, which suggested they found something promising. The sound of Fickler's voice cursing rather avidly in anger and frustration mingled with Penelope's stuttering explanation in the abundant muteness of the building, seemingly too loud to be considered normal. I breathed a small sigh in relief knowing that they were still alive.
There was still the matter of Jenna.
Mick, in his haste and panic, strayed from procedure. Which was dangerous and reckless in itself. He rushed into the open locker room without any signal to me. Without any notion of self preservation that was previously thought to be an instinct. Calling her name, voice shaking in unison with the adrenaline rush that contaminated his aim on the clutched gun in his hands, received no answer and pushed him to keep searching.
The locker room appeared empty. Overhead swinging lights were bright enough to capture every visible crook, bathing over the smudged bloody shoe prints disappearing towards the small back room containing the showers. A single locker, which I recognized as Mick's, in the row of six foot tall steel mounted against the far back wall was left ajar, and I knew in an instant why. Mick stashed an extra gun taped to the bottom of the top shelf. It was common knowledge between us and Cooper never once questioned why he would do such a thing. If Jenna found it, and it was safe to assume that she did considering her extensive knowledge of how her brother thought at times, then she was armed and scared. I couldn't let Mick just rush into the other room then. Jenna could have accidentally shot him. Past the bench that was perching before it, the piles of gym mats and punching bags stacked in corners for later use, I closed the distance between us.
"Mick, wait!" I hissed as I groped for his coat sleeve, trying to stop him. He ignored me, squirming away and picking up speed to jog towards the showers. I cursed under my breath as I followed, determined to intervene before he got shot again.
Jenna must have heard me. A gun was slung across the floor from the open doorway by a petite blue gloved hand, sliding over the surface until it came in contact with the side of my boot, causing Mick and I stop abruptly with our own weapons still raised cautiously. "Don't shoot!" She shouted, voice quivering in fear. Before we could lower our weapons, she stepped into the doorway with her hands outstretched a few inches. Thankfully she didn't appear injured. The navy blue sweater, dark jeans, and turquoise winter cap barely concealing the shoulder length dark hair showed no signs of blood or injury. However, the watery eyes and dried tears implied that she had seen what happened in the gym and probably fled to the showers for cover.
Mick slammed his gun in the holster on his hip and pulled her towards him, wrapping his arms around her shoulders tightly. He was still shaking from the adrenaline but the knowledge that Jenna was unscathed was a large weight off his shoulders. She rested her head on his shoulder, shutting her eyes to try to calm herself. "You're okay, right? No one hurt you?" Mick started to question as he pulled her back slightly, searching for any hidden injuries.
I holstered my own gun and retrieved the weapon beside my boot, removing the clip and the bullet in the chamber before sliding the safety back in place. After securing it in a coat pocket, I interrupted the younger man's fearful questioning. "Jenna, what happened out there?"
She looked between Mick and I, as if debating how to tell us. Then squirmed out of Mick's grip on her shoulders and wrung her hands together nervously. The way she continued to teeter on her heels, the sole of the blood coated one squeaking, and the constant glances at the exit said that she was still afraid she was in danger. After the year she had experienced, kidnapped twice and presumed dead for six months, the fight or flight reflex was expected.
Mick seemed to realize her insecurity and gently led her to the bench in front of the lockers. He urged her to sit, then flopped on the metal beside her and rubbed her back comfortingly. When she bowed her head to her hands on her knees, he whispered reassurances I was sure had a meaning to both of them.
"Jenna, there are five dead agents in the gym. We need to know what happened." I coaxed as calmly as my own shocked voice would allow.
She nodded in her hands, heaving a sigh as she lifted her head to look at the doorway again. "The man who delivered the package with the finger, he escaped somehow." She whispered, twisting her fingers together. "The agents were trying to stop him. But there was one guy, he was acting weird. His shots were always missing, like he wasn't actually trying to hurt the other guy. I think he knew him somehow." She stuttered for a moment, rambling through what she could put together in her traumatized state. Mick sighed and stopped his movements, feeling her shaking muscles through the cloth of his glove and her sweater, urging her to breath and tell us something remotely understandable. She leaned against him as she continued, "The agent helped him escape. I got away because I keep my pocket knife in my shoe like you taught me. Used it to cut through the plastic ties Penelope and the director and I were bound with. The phones didn't work and I panicked when I saw the agents in the gym. I hid in here with your gun because I was afraid he would come back." She paused to look up at her brother, eyes pleading. "This mess, it's all connected to Rais? He's coming after you again?"
Mick drew her into another embrace, rubbing her arm roughly. "Yeah, he is. But I'm done hiding."
Declaring war against a man like Rais was the worst mistake of his life.
Note- Ta-da! Hi people! I'm back!
So, this turned out different than I envisioned. The first part is mostly focused on Gina. She knows something is wrong, that Mick is keeping something from them, but can't prove it. It, and everything else that has happened lately, robbed her of sleep. The conversation between her and Prophet was nice. It really put things in perspective for her. Then there's Jenna's phone call. Mick has almost become OC in my stories and I don't intend for that. But after developing him and everyone else after so many stories, it's unavoidable. So I figured that giving him a more proper birth name was due and it has purpose in later stories. I looked it up and there are variations of Mick and Michael in almost every language. Considering he's very proud of the fact that he is Welsh, I chose the middle name Gareth because it is Welsh. All of which has a future purpose. Anyways, the finger at the office sent to Mick plays into the next story. What happened at the office and that finger will be the center mystery in the next story. But it will be the underline plot because as promised, the next will be more Gina/Mick oriented.
I think that's all for now. You know what to do, right? Reviews are loved and appreciated. A huge thanks to all who have read, reviewed, and subscribed to my work and this story. It's taken months to finish and I hope you all have enjoyed it.