Chronology: Post Runaway & Post Kidnapped
Warning: Mild language.
A/N: Written after I watched both shows in rapid succession. Neither of these fandoms are well-known; I tried to write the one-shot so it would be possible to read without knowledge of the original canon. To further help with this, I added brief character bios.
Henry Rader (Runaway) is the eldest son of Paul Rader, an innocent man accused of murder who took his family on the run to protect them after receiving anonymous threats. Henry's new friends, Sam and Jake, know his as Jason Holland.
Lucian Knapp (Kidnapped) is former FBI who takes private contracts to retrieve kidnapped children.
It's the third time Sam's brought him along to this diner. Henry's father would throw a fit to know they've been driving out here. In principle, Henry can understand why; the more places he shows up, the more likely someone will recognize him and get word to the feds. On the other hand, it's hard to see the harm in coming to this out-of–the-way diner. Why, if it weren't for the extra tables, it would be identical to Vic's - only without his dad flipping burgers behind the counter.
"The milkshakes are superb," Sam is gushing to Jake. Her enthusiasm breaks through her usual reserve. "Isn't that right, Jason?"
"I can attest," Henry confirms.
It's a seat-yourself establishment. Henry leads them around tables towards the back of the diner and slides into a booth where it's easy to keep an eye on the door. There's a moment of jostling as Sam and Jake debate who is taking which seat. Neither wants to sit beside the other and, at last, Sam wins out to get the opposite bench to herself while Jake slides in beside Henry.
The server shows up almost immediately. "Back again," he says approvingly.
"Sam and Jason say your milkshakes are to die for," Jake responds with mock-scepticism.
There's some indecision over flavours, the server listing off all the house favourites while Jake deliberates carefully. Henry orders raspberry again because it reminds him of evenings back in Washington.
The server's just left when Jake's cell goes off. He flips it open and rolls his eyes, already sliding out of his seat again by the time he's brought it up to his ear. "Hey, Mom," he says warily, and makes his way back to the front of the diner, slipping out the door to talk in private.
"He's just afraid he'll have to admit we were right about the milkshakes," Henry says and Sam cracks up.
The diner at this time of day is busy with the constant movement of people entering and leaving, the hum of conversation filling the room. Henry watches two men step in through the door and flip up their sunglasses, scanning the room before choosing a table close to the window. Of course they aren't cops. Henry shakes his head to rid himself of the paranoia and lowers his eyes to the table.
And that's when the stranger slides into the seat beside him.
Henry stiffens, bracing his feet against the ground before realizing escape is cut off. Stupid – stupid! If he'd picked a table instead of this booth – or if he'd been watching – but maybe this man has nothing to do with –
His stomach drops. Henry swallows hard before answering, "Got the wrong person, sir."
He dares a glance to his right. The man looks vaguely familiar; Henry remembers passing him at one of the tables near the front of the diner. He's got scruffy hair, the beginnings of a beard, and a wry smile as he casually gazes across the room. "Do I?"
Sam's glaring at the man for the interruption, the intensity only softened by a touch of bemusement at the situation. "His name's Jason."
"Jason," the stranger repeats with a deep nod, "My mistake." Henry had hoped that Sam's innocent sincerity would be enough to convince the man but he doesn't leave. Sam's eyes flicker uncertainly.
The server returns to the table with the tray of milkshakes. He blinks at the stranger and asks, "Sorry, didn't get your order. You want something?"
It's a distraction. Henry manages to pull his cell phone from the pocket of his jeans, doing his best not to move his arm anymore than necessary. He holds it out of sight beneath the table, hands trembling as he tries to recall whether the keypad's sound is on.
"A Pepsi," the man answers, and then the server has moved away again.
"Now, this doesn't have to be difficult," the man says, his voice low and serious. As he speaks, Henry starts pressing the keys on his phone. The sound is off, thank god, and he prays he remembers the right combination to open a new text, select the right contacts, and type out a message: Code re-
Without warning, the man grabs Henry's forearm and pulls his hand out from under the table before Henry can finish the message or press send. Sam yelps. The man twists the cell from Henry's grip, glances once at the text message and shuts the phone decisively. Sam is shifting slowly to the edge of the booth's seat; the stranger lifts his free hand to point at her in warning. She freezes.
"This doesn't have to be difficult," the man repeats, fiddling with the cell, "I just want to have a talk. Where's your father, Henry?"
"I'm not –" Henry begins automatically.
"Sorry, Jason. Where's your dad?"
The man flips open the phone and begins looking through the contact information. For the first time, Henry is thankful his mom insists they only use initials. He remembers then, with a drop in his stomach, that he'd already selected the contacts for his text. The man could already know which numbers to call.
Sam's begun edging towards the aisle again. Henry catches her eyes and looks to the door, hoping she understands his silent message. Get out of here. And then the man clears his throat and reaches out to grab her arm.
"Bad idea, that," he says, and snaps the phone closed again. "As Jason isn't very helpful, maybe I should ask you, Miss-?"
"Why should you get my name if we don't know yours?"
"Fair enough. I'm Knapp. And you?"
She glares at him suspiciously before relenting, "Sam."
"And where is Jason's dad, Sam?"
"I have no idea, Mr. Knapp," she responds tersely.
The server draws up beside the table again and sets down the Pepsi. "And is that everything for you?"
"Actually," Henry says quickly, "This man is bothering us. If you could make him leave-?"
The server glances uncertainly between the three of them.
"This is an official investigation," Knapp responds irritably.
"Oh, it's official now, is it?" Sam retorts, and looks up to the server, her eyes wide with innocence. "He's harassing us."
The server clears his throat. "Ah, sir. Could I, uh, see your badge?"
Knapp fixes him with a look. "Don't have one on me."
"Then you'll, uh, have to-"
Sam takes the opportunity to bolt out of her seat. Henry scrambles up on his seat and over the table, leaping to the floor to race after her.
"Hey!" Knapp shouts behind him, "Hey, stop that kid!"
Henry doesn't dare turn around to see how close he is. One man has half-stood with an arm out-reached that Henry easily dodges. Sam's already at the door, holding it open for him, and then he's through and they're both pelting across the parking lot to where Jake parked his truck.
And Jake – Jake has just hung up his cell and is frowning at them both with a question on his lips. Henry waves his arms at the truck, hoping Jake will understand because he certainly can't draw breath to form words. And then there's a shout behind him and someone grabs his arm; Henry trips and falls, bringing his pursuer down on top of him. He flinches and rolls away, twists his arm from the man's grip and scrambles to his feet again. He's half expecting to hear a gunshot – can almost hear his mother's words ("threatened to kill") – does hear the sound of the truck engine starting up. Sam is climbing into the vehicle already. She turns around and holds out a hand for Henry, which he uses to clamber into the seat before slamming the door behind him.
"Drive!" Sam shouts at Jake, who's fumbling with the gears.
The truck jerks backward. "Sorry, sorry!" Jake shouts.
And then the sound Henry had been most dreading – a gunshot. All three of them flinch but there's no shattered glass, no blood. Henry thinks hysterically that Knapp must have missed completely – and then Jake curses. "He shot my friggen wheel!"
Another shot, and this time, Henry registers the jolt as the air escapes the back tire. Jake slams both hands against the wheel. "What the hell, man!" he shouts, "What the hell is going on?"
Two pairs of wide eyes staring at him, and Henry doesn't know what to say.
Gravel crunches outside the door, and he turns to see Knapp, the gun pointed coolly at the passenger window. "Henry Rader," he calls, "Exit the vehicle with your hands in the air. I don't want to shoot but I will if necessary."
"But he's not-" Sam cries.
"Who the hell is-?" Jake mutters.
Henry remembers the picture taped to the attic wall of himself, the one marked with thick red X. He remembers his mother's explanation that it isn't just the feds out after the family. His stomach clenches but he can't help but notice how Sam's hand trembles against his leg.
It isn't for himself that he opens the door again, isn't for his family that he climbs out slowly and lifts his hands defensively in the air.
"Look, I'll talk," he says carefully, eyes trained on the barrel of the gun, "But you leave my friends out of it."
He's never been so close to a gun before in his entire life. Henry can't look away, tracking it as the man draws near.
"Turn the engine off," Knapp orders, and the hum of the truck dies. "I won't bother them so long as you cooperate."
"Then let them leave."
"We're not leaving," Sam argues from behind him. Her voice is closer than expected and Henry flinches, breaks his gaze with the gun to see that she and Jake have climbed from the vehicle. "Look, Knapp," she says fiercely, "We sure as hell don't want to get shot today but if you don't put that gun away, someone's gonna call the cops."
Knapp matches her tone. "And I'll tell them to call the FBI."
"You don't have a badge," she argues.
He rolls his eyes. "The man who called in a favour sure does. They needed someone who specializes in finding lost kids – lo and behold." He waves the gun vaguely. "Look, I don't want anyone hurt. I just need to talk. Now, we could either do it here with some semblance of civility, or I could handcuff the three of you and drive back to a cushy interrogation room with FBI stamped all over it. So what'll it be?"
There's a pause. Everyone's looking at Henry, because it's his decision to make. He wonders if he should plead the fifth, wonders if he should ask for a lawyer. But he has more chance of getting out of this one without giving up his family – or losing track of them - if he cooperates now.
Hands still raised, Henry shrugs in defeat. "Then let's talk."