"They're heading toward the service elevators on the east side of the building," Finch instructed.
Sam, holding tightly onto Mr. Horace, her gun jabbing into his side, moved to the stairwell. "Move it," she demanded, and they walked quickly down two flights of stairs.
"Who are you? What is going on?"
Sam pushed the weapon harder into his side as they walked. "You'll see, Leland," she said.
Now, on the second floor, Sam pressed the up button to the service elevator and waited next to Leland.
"Will you please just tell me what's going on?" he whined. "Is it money? I can pay you – "
"I don't want your money," Sam said darkly. "It's not about what I want."
"Sam – "
"It's about what you're doing to your family, you selfish bastard," Sam ignored Finch and continued on her quiet rant. "Your wife stays here all hours with your daughter who is dying while you gallivant around, satisfying your cravings, without a thought about them."
The elevator doors opened, revealing Kevin standing behind Callie in her wheel chair, and Rose Horace, her eyes red and puffy.
"Now you can explain yourself right now, or I'll shoot you," Sam said as they stepped inside.
"Sam, you have to listen to me!" Finch said urgently. "Mr. Reese is with Holly Chin. She's not the perpetrator. It's Mr. Horace."
The elevator doors closed, and Horace, sensing Sam's small lapse in attention on him, took the advantage. He pushed her away, drawing his own weapon, and pointed it at Sam's head. Rose screamed and Kevin shouted shocked gibberish.
"Drop it now," he said. Horace pressed the button to the fourth floor, then hit the emergency stop button.
Kicking and cursing at herself, Sam glanced at Kevin who nodded and dropped her gun onto the floor as the elevator jerked to a stop and the alarm sounded.
"They're stopped in between the third and fourth floors," Finch said in John's ear.
John dragged Holly Chin down the hall with him. She wasn't as tall as Sam, and was having a harder time keeping up with him at his full stride, so he pulled her along. At times her feet didn't even touch the floor as they went.
"Can you override it, Finch?" John asked as he turned down another corridor, headed toward the service elevators.
"It's not that sophisticated, unfortunately," Finch replied. "The elevator system in the hospital hasn't been updated in decades. There's no way for me to access it from here. She needs to get it to move again."
John clenched his jaw as he thought of Sam trapped in that elevator with their number and the killer. He took a deep breath to calm himself as they reached the elevator.
"Well, they can't stay in there forever, Horace knows that," John said.
Sam purposefully kept close to Horace as he pointed his weapon at everyone in turn.
"Leland? Why are you doing this? Please, someone tell me what's happening!" Exhausted, Rose Horace was in tears as she pleaded with her husband and held onto Callie's hand. Callie, who seemed too stunned to speak at all, gripped her mother's hand, and stared at her father with wide eyes.
"Yeah, Leland," Sam said. "What's the plan now? Emergency personnel are going to be heading to this elevator soon to see what's going on. There's no way out of here."
Horace smiled creepily, but first looked to his wife. "Rose, honey, I have a confession to make. I've been involved with another woman. I'm sorry."
The tears stopped, and Rose seemed to go unnaturally still. She stared at her husband, with red-rimmed eyes and blinked once. "I've been waiting for you to say so," she said.
Horace raised his eyebrows. "You knew?"
"I'm your wife, you bastard," she said quietly. "Of course I knew! But I would rather our daughter believe we were happy through the last year of her life than see her family ripped apart. Stop this now, Leland, whatever this is. Whatever you and Holly were planning together, just go. If that's what you want, go with her and leave us. No more lies. Just go. I'm too tired to care."
Sam's heart broke for Rose and Callie as Rose knelt down next to her daughter and buried her face in her shoulder.
Horace, knocked a little off course by his wife's knowledge of his affair, rallied and righted himself. He laughed. He actually laughed. Sam wanted to sock him. "Run away with Holly? Oh sweetheart. You never did understand me."
"I don't think anyone does," Kevin said before he realized it.
"Holly was necessary, dear. Stupid, but necessary," Horace continued. "Now, we don't have a lot of time, so I'm going to explain this only once. We are going back up to Callie's room, quietly and calmly. Now that you all are here, and aware of the situation, I've had to make a slight change of plan. But it's nothing I can't handle, of course."
Sam understood before he said it. "You're going to kill all of us. Not just Callie."
"Smart girl," Horace smiled again. "I admit, Callie took some consideration. She is my daughter after all, sucking the life out of my insurance coverage and my wife. Sending those two for her was a mistake, I admit. But you," he looked delightfully at Sam, "have created a much more preferable situation.
"There are so many of those senseless mass shootings in this country. It's so tragic, so sad. That's what people will be saying when a young, lovely, but very disturbed woman burst into a hospital room and opened fire on the patient, her mother, and the doctor in the room." Horace looked at each of them in turn as he spoke of them. "And then," he bent down and picked up Sam's weapon, "turned her own gun on herself." He pocketed his gun and held Sam's weapon up.
"Why are you doing this?" Rose shouted. "What's in this for you? Killing your own daughter!"
"Callie is very well protected, Rose. I've told you before."
Rose seemed to understand, and put her hands to her mouth. "But that's only about twenty thousand dollars, for funeral expenses."
Horace grinned as he pressed the emergency stop button and the elevator lurched as it began moving again. "That wouldn't make much sense, would it? Killing my own daughter for twenty grand. But for two million and some change – "
The elevator dinged and Horace went quiet as he looked at them all and nodded. He lowered his gun, and Sam stepped closer to him as the doors opened.
Horace looked over his shoulder. Sam and John hit him from both sides. Sam grabbed a hold of his gun hand, and pushed it up over her head as she elbowed him in the stomach. John kicked Horace hard at the inside of his knee, and gave him one hit to the head before Horace collapsed.
Sam had her gun back in her hand and pointed it at Horace as Holly cried and crouched down next to her soon to be ex boss.
John took Sam by her arm. "Are you all right?" he asked quietly.
Sam lowered her weapon and smiled out of relief. "Always," she said.
Leland Horace was arrested for conspiracy to murder, attempted murder in the second and first degrees, and also, as Finch managed to find out, for insurance fraud. Callie Horace's life insurance policy, normally kept for funeral expenses and the like as her mother had explained, was topped off at two million, thirty thousand dollars. Horace, fooling the insurance company into thinking Callie was a healthy adult instead of a sick ten-year old, managed to get her one of the heaviest life insurance policies his company had to offer.
Holly Chin, with her access to Horace's accounts, needed to be silenced. And what better way than to manipulate her into falling in love with him? Loyalty, although not terribly efficient, is the best silencer. However, after seeing Horace with his family, the way he treated them, and would have them killed without blinking, Holly Chin managed to get over him rather quickly. She moved out of the city soon after his arrest.
Back at home a day or so later, Sam was out of the shower and getting dressed when she heard a knock on her apartment door. Pulling on a tank top and jeans, she let her damp hair flop over her shoulders as she went to answer the door.
"Huh," she said, leaning against the open door, putting a hand on her hip. "No breaking and entering this time?"
John smiled sheepishly as she let him in. "Not when you're already home, no."
"I should put in one of those laser alarm systems, make it more of a challenge for you," she said as she moved to the bathroom.
"That might be fun," John conceded.
Sam came back out, with her bangs pinned back and a pair of socks in her hands.
"Are you going somewhere?"
"Why, is there another number?"
"No, I thought we could get more practice time in."
"Sorry, I can't," Sam approached him. She held one sock in her teeth, and hopped on one foot as she put the other one on. The same process went for the second sock. "I'm going to the hospital to visit Callie, and – " she hesitated, looking at John, who raised his eyebrows in innocent curiosity.
"And, I'm having dinner with Kevin. He's working late and asked me to come."
The scolding tone in his voice was evident and Sam rolled her eyes as she began a search for her shoes. "It's just dinner, John. I'm not marrying him."
"Yes, it is," Sam agreed. "But, Kevin is already aware of the dangers of associating with me, and he went and asked me anyway! So, either he has a death wish, or he likes me in spite of the risks." Sam found her shoes. She slipped them on and tied them.
"He doesn't know the dangers, Sam."
"What, John? You think I should tell him about the machine and let him weigh his options?"
"That's not – "
"Listen," Sam approached him again and poked him in the chest to emphasize her point. "You know I've always got your back, John. But, I'm going to go eat horrible hospital food with Kevin tonight. I'll sometimes have lunch with Alina. I'm still going to live a little bit. I'm sorry. I can't help it. I know you and Harold have given up on that, but I can't."
John's face hardened and he stepped away from her. Sam hadn't seen that look directed at her in a long time. She knew she'd crossed a line. "I'm sorry, John," she said sincerely. "I'm sorry I said that."
She approached him again, put her hand to his face, and got up on her tip toes, kissing him on the cheek. "I know that you don't believe you deserve a life anymore. That happiness is something for other people. You keep punishing yourself for things that you think no one would forgive you for doing."
John didn't answer and Sam took that as confirmation. She took his hand and was on her toes again as she lightly kissed his lips. "I forgive you, John. For whatever it is you've done, for what you've done to yourself, I forgive you. But, that won't matter much until you forgive yourself."
Sam released his hand and turned her back on him. She went to her dresser and took out a light duster sweater that she pulled on over the tank top. She risked a look at him. He hadn't moved at all. Maybe he was actually listening to her that time.
She grabbed her purse and her keys and was in front of him again, looking up at that unreadable face. "I have to go. I won't be long. I'll call you when I get back?"
John nodded. "Sure, yeah," he said.
Sam left him there and went to the door. She opened it and heard her name.
She turned, holding onto the doorknob. John looked at her, putting his hands in his pockets. He was different. Something had changed from when he entered her apartment a few minutes before to that moment. But, she couldn't see exactly what it was.
"You said to me that I could keep you if I wanted," he spoke quietly. "Do you remember?"
"I was drunk, John," Sam smiled and shook her head.
"What are you saying? You don't want me to go?" Sam asked, feeling a thrill in her chest and over her skin at the prospect of John actually admitting something, anything to her.
John pressed his lips together as if he was forcing the answer back into his throat.
Sam sighed with some disappointment. "I'll see you later, John."
She pulled the door open until she couldn't anymore. Something was stopping it. Sam looked up and saw John's hand pushing the door back. He stood close, in front of her, and looked down at her.
Sam pulled at the doorknob and he pushed back. Frustrated, she waved her hands in the air at him. "Look, if you're going to say something, say it! If you don't want me to go – "
"You're right," he said. "There is no forgiveness for me. No… redemption."
"That's not true! I – "
John put his hand over Sam's mouth, muffling the rest of her statement. "What's strange is that I believe you, Sam."
He pulled his hand away and Sam blinked at him, stunned. "You do?"
"I could tell you everything I've done, and you'd still be here."
"I've always got your back," she repeated firmly.
John smiled a little. "I know you do."
Sam pulled at the door again, but it didn't move. "So…?" she asked, prompting him to go on. "I have to go, John."
"Will you let me keep you?" he asked softly.
Sam's breath caught in her chest as her arm dropped to her side, and John closed the door.
Sorry this one's taken longer than usual to post. I've also been working on an original project. That also means that I'll probably be taking a break from writing Sam and Team Machine for a while. I don't think I can ever really end it, but perhaps a brief hiatus here and there. :)
Thanks so much for reading and to those of you who took some time to tell me your thoughts.
As always, you guys are awesome!