Thick as Thieves
Chapter Nineteen – The Great Escape, Part One
"Okay, what's the plan?"
"What's what plan, Einstein? We don't have a freaking plan!"
"For Christ's sake, you had one job. ONE."
"Yeah well, you were the one who ran off without waiting for my answer!"
"Oh for the sake of all things good and holy – Shut the fuck up, you two!" A voice blared through their earpieces, causing the two bickering allies to wince.
"Ouch, that hurt." Jeff whined, momentarily pulling out the small device to rub his ear resentfully. Nick nodded, but left his earpiece in his ear.
"God, grow a pair already." They could almost hear the programmer rolling his eyes. "While you two bantered about plans as functional as a sinking rubber duck, I took the time and liberty to dig up the blueprint of the mansion."
The blonde and brunette blushed in shame as the voice literally in their heads continued.
"Okay, so listen up: getting into the house should be simple enough – based on the files I have looked through of you guys' past, you should be familiar enough with breaking and entering. Once you're inside, walk past the kitchen and into the first lounge. There should be a total of four doors in the six walls of the lounge; the stereo and television system is wired into the far wall. Stand in front of the television and face the couches. Focus on the door at approximately two o'clock. Once you're there, give me a shout out. There are two people in the kitchen – as far as I know unarmed. Take them out and let me know once you're by the specific door. Good luck."
"Geez, Artie, you sound a lot like some video game that's giving us our briefing instructions on how to clear the level." Jeff mused.
Nick glared at him. "Dude, this is serious. This is real life shit. My sister – your 'sister' - is in there with some psychopaths so quit with the joking and let's go save her."
That shut the blonde up.
Benji waited, jittery, as Quinn lowered herself into the waiting car. He was still in shock, the aftermath of what had just gone on not quite processed in his mind. Quinn had half climbed into the car when she straightened up, cocking her head delicately to the side with her perfect, arched eyebrows furrowed.
"Did you hear that?"
"Nothing, I just thought I heard- Oh my God! Benji! Is that…?"
"Oi! Wait up!" The blissfully familiar voice yelled from the distance. "Quinn! Benji!"
"No fucking way. Q, get in the car, quick!" The British teenager hurriedly and rather unceremoniously shoved the actress into the passenger seat just as Sebastian and Santana pulled up to the black car.
"Get in get in get in!" Sebastian shouted, all but throwing Santana into Quinn's lap before grabbing hold of the lapels of Benji's Jacket and pulling him into the car along with him. He slammed the door shut.
"Just drive!" Benji exclaimed and the alarmed-looking driver immediately obliged.
The spacious passenger seat of the Chrysler was a tangle of limbs and fabric as the four straightened themselves up. For a long moment, there was silence. Then the two women were hugging and the two guys began talking at the same time.
"I thought you were dead you asshole!"
"Thank GOD you guys hadn't left yet!"
"What the fuck happened in there?"
"Did you see the guy?"
"EVERYBODY SHUT UP!"
Quinn took a deep breath and spoke calmly. "Okay. First things first – is everybody alright? Santana? Sebastian?"
"Good. I'm just going to go ahead and assume that what just happened was not just some other random school shooting." She looked pointedly at Sebastian, who grimaced under her gaze. "Yet here you are. So it's safe to say that whoever I saw shot down on the floor was just at the wrong place at the wrong time?"
Benji's face paled as realization dawned. "Oh god. Oh man. Tom. It must have been." He stuttered. "He was pretending to be you tonight, Sebastian. That murderer must have thought – Oh god."
They settled into an uncomfortable, guilt-ridden silence. Then, Sebastian's broken voice cut through the quiet. "This is all my fault. I shouldn't – I should never have come here. I – nobody should have to die for this, for me and now even Blaine and the others have been kidnapped and I just - I can't… This is all my fault. I should have turned myself in when I had the chance-"
He was cut off when Santana slapped him squarely in his face.
"Ow! Christ!" he yelled, clutching at his bright red cheek. "Tana!"
"Get over your self-pity, Smythe. This wasn't your fault. Marsen is a fucking psychopath." She rolled her eyes, the soft side she had shown for those few hours replaced with her usual snarky self. "Sure it's sad that this Tom guy, bless him, got hurt but for now it's more important that we focus on what's ahead."
Quinn, who had been sitting silently in the corner, spoke, her voice barely a whisper. "Wait – what happened to Blaine? I haven't heard from him in days…" She looked at her friends, alarm growing in her eyes whilst panic began to creep into her raising voice. "Sebastian? What's happened to Blaine?!"
Unable to meet her gaze, Santana finally filled her best friend in.
Quinn's painful, heart-wrenching sobs filled the space and tore right into Sebastian's chest. The weeks began to catch up on him, the faces of those loved and lost and in danger… because of him.
Sebastian glanced over at the people in the dim light of the car – Benji, the good, pure soul whom he had forged such a close bond with in such a short time frame; Quinn, the love of his best friend's life – the best friend whose safety was currently compromised because of his own misdeeds; and Santana. Santana, who meant more to him than anything in his universe. Santana, who had been drawn into his life by nothing more than the lure of wealth and the aroma of prospective success, but turned out to be the best thing that he'd never in a million years think he would have ever needed. She had woven herself permanently, but by no means seamlessly, into the tangle of his existence; intertwined, severed and mended countless times to become part of the complex web that his reality consisted of.
These people, these names, these faces – of Quinn and Blaine and Benji and Santana – were the ones, he realized, he truly cared for. It may seem like an ironic bit of almost poetic justice that he should learn to put the well being of others before his own in the midst of a war, but Sebastian had never had anyone to love and care for to such a degree previously.
For the first time in his life, Sebastian Smythe found himself willing to trade his own life in exchange for the safety of others; for the happiness of his friends.
"Artie, Artie!" Nick hissed into his mouthpiece. There was a muffled groan followed by a loud thump in the adjacent room. "We're where you instructed. Now what?"
"Cool. Is Jeff with you?"
"He's just around the corne-"
"Yeah, I'm here with Nicky." A third voice joined the conversation, slightly breathless from his tussle with the guards.
"Great. Okay guys, I need you to listen to what I'm about to say very carefully.
"On the wall next to it is a touch screen. This is high tech shit. The pad is a lock, which opens only to a specific code of four alphabets and five numbers. This code must be keyed in within nine-point-five seconds in total and no more than one-point-six-five between individual digits. Otherwise, the code will reshuffle and be inaccessible for the next twenty seconds."
"Fucking hell…" Jeff exhaled.
"That's not all," Artie's voice continued "the code also changes either every three, five, or seven minutes."
"Well. That's good to know."
"Just give me a sec here. I've got records of the past two hundred codes. I just need to feed it through the random coding algorithm and narrow down the options. Hey Jeff – I need you to keep watch. There must be absolutely no disturbances whatsoever for this next task. Keep me posted on any changes, got it?"
"Good. Say, Nick?"
"I want you to look at the screen device. If I'm not wrong, there should be an orange light blinking in the corner, correct?"
"Excellent. Keep watching. There should be a three individual flashes of green before a red blink. The red indicates the rearrangement of the code, and the green the minute leading up to that switch in twenty second intervals. I cannot emphasise the importance of you telling me exactly when the lights go off. It's my only chance of capturing the code, which gives you minutes to learn it and key it in without any form of hesitation whatsoever. Copy?"
"I – Copy." Nick gulped.
"It's fine, Buddy. I believe in you. Now get ready – keep your eyes in the light at all times."
Nick stared intently at that little blinking orange light, his eyes nearly watering up from his lack of blinking. His mind was racing a mile a minute, trying his hardest not to fail and fearing the consequences of such an outcome.
He waited. There was a shuffle of feet in the background but he fought against his first instinct to turn in defense. He would just have to trust Jeff to watch his back, and he did with all his heart.
A red flash. He counted silently in his head the number of seconds to the first green blink.
One hundred eighteen… One hundred nineteen…
"Green one." The sounds of computer keys rapidly being entered hovered through his earpiece.
Twenty seconds to the next.
Seventeen… Eighteen… Nineteen…
A loud crash broke his concentration as the brunette found himself instinctually jumping out of his crouched position. His eyes wide, he scanned the room to find his blonde accomplice and best friend cowering slightly in the doorframe, a broken vase at his feet and a sheepish expression on his guilty face.
"My bad." He whispered. "Sorry, Artie."
"Goddamn it, Jeff!" Artie yelled and Nick hissed simultaneously. "We nearly had it!" Artie screamed.
"Let's try again, Nicky. We were close that time. Jeff, you are now forbidden from entering this room until you receive my instruction to do so." The programmer ordered with an annoyed huff.
Six attempts later, they had yet to succeed. In one of them, Nick had counted the three hundred and sixty seconds leading up to the green flash, only to lose his count and end up relaying the second green light a split second too late. In another, he sneezed and missed the red flash, so had to wait for the code to reset itself yet again. It was frustrating and tedious and arduous; this was going to be a long night.
Lots of dialogue, and I know it's a short(ish) update, but...
It's baaaaack! (: Sorry for such a long hiatus on this story! I took a break on this to work on some other AU Sebtana and Seblaine fics. I'm so sorry I failed to mention this in my last update but to be perfectly honest, I hadn't expected to, either. It just kinda... happened? But fret not - I have not abandoned, nor do I intend to abandon, this story just yet! Anyway, you can expect more updates now that I'm all done with exams and school and can focus more on my writing.
That being said, however, I am still juggling between multiple WIP fics and a (regardless of how dysfunctional) social life. So I'll update whenever possible. I promise.
Finally, I need to express my gratitude. It's thanks to you wonderful, beautiful readers and reviewers that inspire me to keep going with this (: I can't thank all of you enough for staying around. Special mentions to the awesome frequent reviewers... you know who you are. And well, everyone who has reviewed or enjoyed or read this deserves cookies.
You're all awesome.