It had been a tough case. They'd found the missing 6 year old girl dead in a dumpster, in the alley just outside the family's apartment. It turned out that, Elise's father had been abusing her for months and had finally killed her. Danny sighed and ran his hand through his hair; he was doing some overdue paperwork, pointless but a distraction from the feeling the urge to drink. It was these cases that made him feel so weak, so helpless, so angry, so ... A voice snapped him out of his thoughts.
"Danny what are you still doing here? You know that paperwork will still be here tomorrow?"
He looked up to see one of his most trusted and closest friends, Samantha Spade. "Well I could ask you the same question."
"Danny, it wasn't your fault. There was nothing any of us could do."
He looked away so she wouldn't see the weakness in his eyes. "I know, Sam, I know. But it still isn't right; the bastard just dumped her like a piece of trash"
Sam stood behind him and rubbed his shoulders. She knew how much these cases affected the whole team, especially Danny. The cases involving kids always affected him and if the cases ended with a death, well he wouldn't say anything about it, but she knew it was killing him inside. She turned to face him. "I'm hungry, are you going to let me eat alone?" she teased.
Looking down at his paperwork and then at Sam. He sighed, knowing Sam wouldn't let this go especially seeing how defeated he looked. "Ok, just give me a sec, to pack up and grab my coat."
After what felt like hours, Sam finally got Danny to leave the building. Linking her arm with his, they walked through Federal Plaza. "So where shall we eat?"
"I dunno", then realising what she was trying to do for him, he forced a smile. "But I think the beautiful lady beside me should make that decision."
Sam looked up at Danny to see him wearing a smile that didn't quite reach the eyes, but it was an improvement, from before. "How about Thai? There's a new place around the corner, I've never tried it, but I have heard it's pretty good."
`Sounds perfect', Danny replied, as he wondered just how much longer he could keep up this cheerful facade. When they arrived at the restaurant they were quickly shown a small table away from the general hubbub of the room. Danny secretly believed that Sam had planned this ahead, a good place to talk to him, but he chose not to disclose his observation. After all, Sam was only trying to help. After ordering their food, they sat in a painful silence; Danny felt Sam's eyes boring into him.
"So how's it going with you and Marty?" Danny asked trying to break the strained silence.
"We broke up,"
"Oh, um I am really sorry Sam," damn wrong question Danny thought, "You, ok?"
"I'm fine. It's just going to be a little weird for a while that's all. What about you? Any ladies warming your bed?"
"No, not with what little time we get with our job." Danny smiled at Sam, but he knew he didn't stand a chance with Samantha Spade, well not romantically anyway. Twice bitten, thrice shy, no he would always be in the background, ready to pick up the pieces and send her on her way. When Sam had joined Jack's team they had connected from the start, both young, new to the job and piss poor excuses for families.
Finally their food arrived, and they continued to make small talk over the meal. It was around 10:30 when they left the restaurant, after Danny insisted on paying the bill, telling Sam what kind of gentleman would he be, if he let a lady pay the bill. Sam had tried not to grin at this comment, but Danny was always the perfect gentleman with her. She envied the woman that finally captured Danny's heart; she had no doubt that he would be a great father.
"You driving home?" Sam asked Danny as they walked towards the subway.
"Nah, car's busted; it's going to be in the shop for a while."
"So you're going to be riding the subway with me for a while?" replied Sam
"If you are willing to suffer me?" Danny counted, grinning.
"I guess I could survive the walk down to the station. It's lucky we live on the opposite sides of this fair city."
Before they could continue their banter, Sam's train arrived. "Danny, are you sure you're ok?" Sam said looking at him in concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine, thanks"
"See yah tomorrow then." Sam replied as the train doors closed, leaving Danny and his thoughts alone on the platform.
A few minutes later Danny's train arrived, he easily found a seat on the near empty train, and closed his eyes trying to relax on the long ride to the Bronx. He was so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he nearly missed his stop. Damn, he missed his car. He found driving so relaxing, especially this time of night when there was little traffic. Disembarking the train, he started to walk the short distance to his apartment, only pausing to buy a lollypop from a homeless guy. It was not until he reached his apartment, he realised just how tired he was. Kicking off his shoes, and throwing his jacket on a chair as he walked through his tiny apartment. Before collapsing on this couch, he locked up his gun. God he was tired, but it didn't feel like `normal' tiredness. He felt drugged. But now he was just too tired to think about this as he collapsed into the pit of darkness. The figure waiting in the corner of the room smiled. So far every thing had gone according to plan.
Chapter 2 Monday 0800 7 hours missing
Danny slowly opened his eyes, to be met with escalating pain. His upper left arm felt like it was on fire; bringing his right hand up he felt the source of the pain. It felt like there was some form of symbol. Turning his head to look at the marking, he gasped. There were five numbers branded on to his arm. Reading them upside down, Danny saw the numbers `53459'. Before he had a chance to get over the shock of being branded or to reason how he got here or even look at his new `accommodations', there was a bang on the steel door to the left of him. The door swung open and a tall figure stepped into the darkness.
"I see you're awake 53459."
"What who the hell are you what do you want?"
A harsh kick to his chest, with steel-capped boots, answered his question. The figure walked across the small cell. "You will only speak to me when I tell you. Answer back or don't answer my questions and that kick will feel like paradise. So 53459, where is your brother?"
"What what do you want with my brother?"
From what Danny could see in the darkness of his `cell,' he saw the figure signalling to someone and a couple of words were said in a foreign language. Before Danny could decipher the language, he was being dragged out of the cell, down a passage, into another room. This room looked bigger than his cell, but was equally as dark. The goon pushed him into a cold metal chair and tied his arms behind his back with wire, which had already started to cut into his wrists. There was a click and the dark room flooded with light, temporarily blinding him.
"So 53459, I will ask you again, where is your brother?"
"I don't know, and what the hell do you want with my brother?"
"You're lying 53459, and you asked me a question. That pisses me off. 53459 have you ever had any teeth extracted?"
Danny's eyes darted around the room looking for an escape route, a weapon, anything. But the only thing he saw was a pair of rusty pliers. A goon grabbed his head. "So one more time, where is your brother?"
"Please, I don't know, I swear, I really don't know, the last I saw him was over year ago."
"Fine, if you want it this way."
Another goon stepped up and forced Danny's mouth open, as Molotov, the imposing figure, forced the pliers into Danny's mouth. Molotov found what he was looking for, a wisdom tooth, gripping the pliers around the tooth he pulled. Danny cried out as his mouth started to fill with blood, black spots to started to appear in his vision. He tried to put his head down so he wouldn't choke on the blood, but the goons kept it in place. Finally his head was released and he let the blood flow from his mouth. "So I will ask you again, where is your brother?"
Danny struggled to take a breath, "I promise you I really don't know." A gun was smashed across his face, just on the site of the newly extracted tooth. The black spots in his vision began to grow and darkness beckoned, he welcomed it.
NY FBI HQ Missing persons unit Monday 0930 8:5 hours missing
Sam walked into the office and looked around. Jack was in his office, Viv was on the phone and Martin was reading a newspaper while eating. It appeared to be typical morning at work. Little did she know this would all change and that they would be investigating a case that they all thought about, but prayed would never happen, the missing person being one of them.
"Morning, seen Danny yet?" asked Martin, with a mouth full of food.
"No, but he's gotta get the subway in. His car is in the shop," Sam explained
"Oh, well it's a good thing that Jack is in a really good mood, you guys being late and all," Martin replied sarcastically
Sam smiled, "True, have we got a case yet?" as she glanced up at the blank whiteboard.
"Not yet, but I have a feeling that it is going to be a day of glorious paperwork." Martin laughed; Sam saw her chance and grabbed the sports section of Martin's paper.
Somewhere in NY City Same Time
"So do we have the location and responses yet?" growled the tallest of the three men.
"No, but please Dropshot, you have to give us more time, we now have a source," Bradley replied his voice trembling with fear.
"Yes, we kidnapped Alvarez's brother; he's an FBI agent in New York."
Dropshot, looked at Bradley with disgust, "Let me get this straight. You KIDNAPPED an FBI AGENT, while we are trying to stay under the radar?" With that, Dropshot drew his gun and fired two shots into Bradley's chest at point blank range, and with an icy cold tone, he turned to Hutchison. "Don't screw up."
Undisclosed location Monday 1100 - 12 hours missing
The steel door swung open, and a bucket of ice-cold water was thrown over the figure in the corner of the dark cell. Molotov strode across the cell and stood over Danny, signalling to his goons. Danny was dragged back into the room. Where the wire was tied around his wrists and another bucket of ice-cold water was thrown over him. Danny slowly opened his eyes, trying to blink away the headache and the pain.
"53459, in our last `little chat', you fell `asleep', this angered me. You will pay for this mistake before we continue our chat."
In the corner of the room, Danny saw a goon powering up, what looked electro system. The goon handed Molotov the two wires, which he snapped together causing a huge sparks and cracking. Danny looked at Molotov and the two wires then at his wet bare chest. This was really going to hurt, he thought, and passing out wasn't an option. Molotov thrust the two wires onto Danny's chest. Danny's eyes watered as he tried not to cry out or pass out.
"I hope you have learned your lesson Now back to our chat."
Monday 1200 13 hours missing NY FBI HQ Missing persons unit
"Jack, I have been trying his home and cell for over an hour. Something isn't right. Why don't we just check it out? It's not as if we have anything important going on right now," Sam said looking down at her paperwork.
Jack looked at the blank whiteboard hoping that Danny's picture would not be appearing on it. He hoped that Danny had just overslept. But in reality how possible was it to sleep through almost continuous ringing of his phone for over an hour?
"Ok, does anyone know what time he left last night?" Jack asked his team.
Sam spoke up, "He left with me at around 9:30 last night, and we had dinner at the Thai place and then headed down to subway. That was last time I saw him. It must have been around 11."
Jack and Sam headed out towards the Bronx, where Danny lived. After 20 minutes, they arrived at Danny's apartment. It wasn't in what you could call the best of areas, but Danny appeared happy living there. Inside it was a typical 1960s building, a mass of corridors all of which made no logical sense.
"What floor does he live on?" asked Jack
"5th and the elevator is probably out of order, it always is"
"So you've been to Danny's apartment a lot then?"
"Yes, you have a problem with that?" snapped Sam and then realized she was too harsh. "God I am so sorry Jack. I am just really worried something just doesn't feel right"
"Don't worry about it Sam, but for the record, we all are worried about Danny," Jack sighed looking away as they climbed the stairs. Although he would never admit it, Danny was like the son he had never had. Putting his hand on Sam's shoulder, "I am sure it's nothing Sam. We'll knock on the door and a severely embarrassed looking Danny will appear at the door."
"I hope so Jack, I really hope so."
When they reached the 5th floor, they were both slightly out of breath. Sam took the lead down the corridor to the right, stopping six doors down, at number 514. Taking a deep breath, she raised her hand and knocked on the flimsy wood, "Danny, are you in there, it's Sam." There was no reply, so she tried again still no reply. Reaching into her pocket, Sam retrieved the copy of Danny's key, before opening the door. They both unholstered their guns. After establishing that neither Danny nor anyone else was in the small apartment, they started to search for evidence. Danny's shoes were on the floor as was his jacket, but neither looked suspicious.
"His gun and badge are locked up. Have you found anything?" asked Jack
"Maybe" Sam said crouching over something by the couch. "I think it may be blood." Jack walked over and looked at the small drops of a dark substance.
"I'll call forensics." Jack pulled out his cell, "Viv, I think Danny is missing."
Undisclosed location Monday 1200 - 13 hours missing
"I will ask you again, 53459, where is your brother?"
"I don't know, and what you want with my brother?"
One of Molotov's goons started to kick Danny in the chest, while Molotov, started to warm up the electro machine. "53459, 53459 when will you learn, that you don't ask me questions? But I am in a good mood, so I will tell you. Your brother owes us over a half million dollars."
"H-half million bucks, what for?"
"What do you think? Now 53459, I strongly advise you to start talking"
Somewhere in NY city
Hutchison pulled this coat closer to his body as the icy east wind whipped around him. Dropshot was a psycho; he had killed Bradley without a blink of an eye. What the hell he was going to happen to him? He just needed the money, Mary was at college and Todd wanted to go to. How was he going to fund it? Then this `job' came up, simply transport a substance from one dealer to another, and there was $500,000 in his pocket, easy money. He should have realised before what this was about. But by the time he realised what he was involved in, he was too deep. At least his family was outside of the city when this went down. Hutchison looked up and saw Dropshot approach him.
"Have you got the Intel I need?"
"Not yet, but we are working on it. Dropshot, we left no trace. We wore forensic suits and even changed the van's tyres. They will never link the kidnapping to this cell."
"I hope so for you and your family's sake."
FBI NY HQ Monday 1300 - 14 hours missing
Jack stared at the whiteboard. It was not that he couldn't bring himself to put Danny's photo on the board, but more placing Danny's photo on the board would make it official and there was no way Van Doran would let them work the case. "Have we got the forensic information back on Danny's apartment yet?"
"Yes," replied Martin as he walked towards the table with a couple of sheets of paper. "The substance was blood, but no more than you would get from a shaving cut."
"Martin, it was in the middle of the living room. Do you walk around your apartment shaving?" asked Vivian
"No, but I was just saying that it was more than likely to be an innocent explanation anyway the rest of the apartment was clean."
"No, just your normal lived-in apartment."
"Remember his cell, wallet and keys where also in this apartment, but there were no signs of a struggle"
"Drugged?" asked Martin
"Yes that has to a possibility, let's get a timeline together," Jack ordered.
"I left the office with Danny at around 2130, we walked to the new Thai place on Reade Street, we left there at about 2230, wandered down to the subway where I got on my train home." Sam drew a shaky breath, "I last saw him on the platform, god what if I was the last person to see him and he's in some kind of trouble."
"It's ok Sam. He will be all right. We will find him. How did he seem to you?" Jack asked.
Sam took a couple of deep breaths to try and calm herself, "Upset, down but otherwise ok."
Martin looked up and asked the question that they that all been thinking but didn't what to ask, "Do you think he, well do you think he could be in a bar or"
He was sharply cut off by Sam. "How could you think that Martin? God, you claim to be his friend, you claim to know him, but in reality you don't. A-and n-now you may never know the true Danny Taylor"
"Sam I know you're upset but it was a perfectly legitimate question. If it was a normal case, you would of asked the same question," Vivian said trying to calm Sam down.
"No you just don't understand," Sam said, as she quickly stood up and stormed out, leaving the team stunned. As tears threatened, she swiftly made her way to the restroom, where she collapsed against the wall. She didn't really understand her relationship with Danny at times, but one thing she did know that he probably was the most important, uncomplicated person in her life and now he was missing, perhaps forever.
Undisclosed location Monday 1800 19 hours missing
Danny didn't know long he had been out since his last torture session or `chat' depending on whose opinion it was, Danny's or Molotov's, but it felt like hours. Slowly sitting up, Danny started on things he did know; he knew he was cold, in a hell of a lot of pain and was in the same cold, damp cell that he had started this torment in. After getting those facts out of the way, he began to ponder more complex issues. So Raphi owed these guys a half million bucks, why take him? Danny didn't remember a camera in the room, but Molotov could have taken a photo of his bloody and battered form when he was unconscious. If he was here, just how much danger was Raphi in? Judging on his treatment today, he didn't know how much he could take and if this was the treatment he was gettingwhat was happening to Raphi? He needed to escape, but how? Squinting in the darkness, Danny took a proper look at the cell. It was about 8 x 6, there was a heavy metal door, and opposite the door then was a small opening. Even if he could reach the opening, he could never fit through it. In the far corner of the cell, Danny spied a water glass. He had once read in a Delta Force manual, about scraping away the cement in- between the bricks, to make a hole in the wall. Even thought this method would take days, possibly weeks, it was his best bet. In order to preserve his strength, he crawled across to the small cell to the glass. Holding it in is right hand, Danny smashed it against the wall. Holding the largest and sharpest piece of glass, he started the lengthily procedure of scraping away the cement. After a while he found it strangely relaxing. He thought of the team. Was he their newest case? God he hoped so. He trusted them with his life and he just hoped they would find him.
Danny dropped the piece of glass and quickly hid it, when he heard some heavy footfalls coming towards his cell. Soon the heavy metal door swung open and Molotov walked in accompanied by another figure. The other figure stepped out of the shadows.
"53459, what are the government's responses to a biological attack on New York City?" asked Dropshot.
Undisclosed location Monday 1900 20 hours missing
"53459, what are the government's responses to a biological attack on New York City?" asked Dropshot.
"What?" asked Danny. Now he was really confused, he thought, what the hell had Raphi got himself into? He knew Raphi ran with the wrong crowd, but bio attacks? No, that wasn't Raphi; Danny just hoped that he was ok.
"You heard what I said," yelled Dropshot as he picked up a knife that was lying on the floor. "What are the government's responses to a biological attack on New York City?"
"I work missing persons, not counterterrorism."
Dropshot lashed out a harsh kick at Danny's chest, causing the chair to smash on the floor. Danny bit back a cry as pain shot through his arms. Dropshot wrapped one hand around Danny's neck while, with his right hand, he ran the knife down Danny's chest causing small droplets of blood to run down his chest as it nicked the skin. "You little shit. You will tell me the responses"
Danny made the mistake of looking into Dropshot's eyes, because of this he was now terrified. The look in his eyes could not be described as human; it was animal. Since this hell had begun, he had never thought that he would welcome Molotov's `chats', but now that he had met this animal, Danny did. Dropshot continued to punch Danny in the chest and head. As Danny's hands were still bond, there was nothing he could do to defend himself, but he wasn't going to give Dropshot the pleasure of winning this battle. He just refused to lose conscious. Eventually Molotov pulled Dropshot off Danny, "Stop it man, you're going to kill him and what use will he be if he's dead?"
Dropshot turned to look at Molotov. "We wouldn't be in this position if your crew hadn't fucked up. Now we have to clean up and get them off our tails, or Operation Rhino will not succeed." Dropshot turned and kicked Danny in the head rendering him unconscious. He then pulled Danny's chair up and roughly untied his arms. "Molotov you may have done things differently at the KGB, but during my Operations, you will do things my way." Dropshot stood up and crossed the room. After selecting a needle from the table, he walked back towards Danny and Molotov. "This is how you do things my way." With that, he thrust the needle into Danny's arm.
FBI HQ NY City Tuesday 0900 34 hours missing
The team had worked feverishly throughout the night but to no avail. They had hit wall after wall, dead end after dead end, but none of them could bring themselves to leave the office and go home.
"What about the van? Surely we have something on the van," asked Martin. He was now desperate. Danny had become a good friend. Sure they had teething problems at the beginning, but they had ironed them out.
"No hits on the van. According to the DMV, the van does not exist!" Vivian said as she read the report.
"What! How can it not exist? It was there outside Danny's apartment."
"There are no vans' registered in the USA, in fact the whole of North America with that wheel base." Vivian said as she continued to read the data.
"It could have been driven from South America". .
"Jack we need to talk," Van Doran said as she approached the team. Jack sighed. He knew his was going to happen sooner or later; he just hadn't expected it to happen so soon. He rose from his chair and followed Van Doran to her office. "How long has Taylor been missing?"
"We are still trying to establish a timeline," Jack lied.
"Jack- Kate Cole, 26, was reported missing; she is a system analyst at Hypo Technologies. I want your team on it."
"What? We already have a case."
"So, Taylor is officially missing then," Van Doran replied
"No- Yes, yes he is," Jack sighed in defeat
"I have assigned Richard Freedman's team on the case. Pass on all of your information on to him." She looked up at Jack. "Jack, I am really sorry. I am just following protocol."
Jack turned and left what now felt like the smallest room he had ever been in. "Yeah, of course you're sorry of course you're sorry," Jack replied sarcastically as he walked back towards the team.
Sam looked up. "She's taken us off the case, hasn't she?"
"Rick Freedman's team is now handling it, so let's get all the information together." He looked at the team. "I didn't have a choice, but I will make sure Rick gives us regular updates."
"I guess so. It wasn't like we could work on it for ever." Martin said.
Jack looked around his hand-picked team minus one; it was an honour to work with them everyday. Jack just hoped that he would be working with his complete team again, but they all knew as the hours ticked by, it was less likely they would find Danny alive.
Undisclosed Location Tuesday 1500 40 hours missing
Danny curled up into the fetal position shivering; he was so cold. He had tried to sit up unsuccessfully. What the hell was wrong with him, he thought. He tried to open his eyes but they felt too heavy. He was just about to slip back into oblivion when the cell was flooded with a harsh white light, quickly followed by a `white sound'. There was a voice to right of him, but Danny was just too tired to listen. "53459, I advise you not to sleep. You should know shock and sleep can be lethal."
Downtown New York City Wednesday 1200 61 hours missing
Dropshot looked across at one his goons. "Have you planted the evidence?" he asked as he smiled and took another photo of the target.
"Yes, and placed the fingerprints. It will be perfect. The FBI will turn on one of their own."
"Good. Oh and Curtis, try and fit in," replied Dropshot. He looked like your typical tourist, taking holiday snaps; little did anyone know the ornerier motive behind the photos. He smiled. Yes, Molotov's crew screwed up, but now it would just add to his pleasure. Alvarez and Taylor were innocent victims of his game.
FBI HQ NY Wednesday 1600 65 hours missing
Rick Freedman ran his hands through his hair. This was undoubtedly the hardest case he had ever had to investigate, made harder by the fact that the missing person was one of them. There were no leads and no witnesses. It was as if Danny Taylor had disappeared into thin air. Rick was open to give everyone a second chance. Taylor had taken his second chance with both hands, but there was only so much time before your past caught up with you. He liked the kid, and he just hoped Taylor's past had not caught up with him. He was so caught up in his own thoughts that he didn't hear Abby Webster, his second in command, approach.
"Yeah" Rick replied, then he looked at Abby's grim expression. "Oh, god no."
An apartment, Bronx Wednesday 1700 66 hours missing
Although Abby had described the crime scene, Rick wasn't quite prepared for what he was met with. There wasn't an inch of the small apartment that hadn't been disrupted in some form by either traces of blood or destruction. In the middle of all of this lay the body of Raphi Alvarez. In Rick's opinion, there was too much blood here for one person, so he voiced this opinion to Abby.
"I was thinking that. Preliminary reports say it's the same blood group as Alvarez's," Abby told Rick. Then she looked at Rick, "And we won't know if its Taylor's for a couple of hours." "Damn-it," exclaimed Rick as he punched the wall. This did not look good for Taylor. Taylor was either dead, a murder suspect or both.
"Rick, calm down, we don't know anything yet," Abby replied as she tried to calm Rick down.
"I am sorry Abby, but Taylor is a good kid. And you're not the one that will have to tell Jack." Rick replied. He had wanted Taylor on his team, but Jack had got to Danny before he had.
A warehouse somewhere in New York State Thursday 0700 80 hours missing
Dropshot walked across the abandoned warehouse towards his biochemist Dr. Ambrose. The doctor had promised him with the right equipment and time he could mutate the virus.
"Doctor, how is it progressing?" Dropshot asked.
"I don't know why you want the virus mutated to resist any form of drug; it already does." Dr. Ambrose replied, instantly regretting it. Dropshot surely was going to lose it now.
Dropshot pulled out his Desert Eagle and placed it at Dr. Ambrose's temple. "If I had wanted for your opinion, I would've asked, but I didn't--so how is it progressing?"
Doctor Ambrose shuddered under Dropshot's glare. "W-well, I have nearly finished mutating the virus in two forms. Firstly as requested, one is totally resistant to any form of drug there is. Secondly, which may I say I am most proud of, I have mutated the virus so the symptoms show in 6-12 hours after exposure compared to 2- 21 days with the standard virus." Doctor Ambrose smiled. This surely would impress Dropshot. "I thought you might need this to help along your `chats'"
FBI NY HQ Thursday 1100 84 hours missing
Rick, paced up down his office, he had just got back the lab results on the blood in the apartment. There were two `specimens'. One came back with a 100% match to Raphi Alvarez, and other specimen was only a 50% match. Than meant only one thing--the other donor was a close relation to Alvarez, which now led Rick to this situation. Rick took a deep breath and walked toward the door. If it was one of his team, he would want to know straight away. Somehow he found himself outside Jack's office and knocked on the door.
"Come in," responded a tired and strained voice.
"Jack, I have some news regarding Danny," Rick said. He couldn't bring himself to address Danny by his surname; it was just too impersonal.
Jack looked up and tried to prepare himself for the impending news. He could tell it was bad from Rick's body language; he just didn't know how bad.
Rick took a deep breath. "NYPD homicide contacted us regarding a case. They found a body in an apartment in the Bronx." Rick paused before he continued. "They found Raphael Alvarez, Danny's brother."
"There's more isn't there?" asked Jack.
Rick looked at Jack; he didn't know how he was going to tell him about the next part of their discovery. "Apart from Alvarez's blood, there was another specimen. And with amount of blood found it doesn't look good, Jack. I'm really sorry."
"Danny's?" Jack asked. "How much?"
"Yeah. There was about 3 pints close to a third of his blood."
Jack sighed. This was really bad. He knew if you lost over a third of your blood, it usually proved fatal. Jack looked at Rick again. He was holding back on something, something worse than what he'd already been told. "What else, Rick?"
Rick paused. This was going to be hard. "We found two sets of fingerprints at the scene: one was Alvarez's, the other was Danny's."
"You think Danny did it?"
"What? No! Jack, damn-it, no. Jack, we are talking about the guy who I trusted with my kids. He may have not got on with his brother, but murder! No way. If you hadn't got to him first, I would offered him a place on my team." Rick looked out of the window. "I have been ordered to close the case and hand it over to NYPD."
Undisclosed location Thursday 1200 85 hours missing
Molotov looked in on Taylor for the second time in an hour; he should have really stopped Dropshot after 2 pints of blood. But it needed to be done to get the feds off his tail. As Danny stirred, Molotov stood there and looked on. Molotov took a deep breath and thought how tough the guy was and how hard it had become to break him. He dreaded having to ask Dropshot for more time. He had prided himself on breaking people in less than 3 days, but after Dropshot's method that would not be possible. Their captive was still too weak from the blood-letting. He would start working again on Taylor tomorrow.
FBI HQ NY Thursday 1300 86 hours missing
Jack sat in his office. He was still reeling from the information that Rick had given him a couple of hours ago. Danny was either dead or in critical condition and a wanted man. Rick had been ordered to close the case and turn it over to NYPD. But Rick had claimed something about the collection of the relevant information, so maybe if Danny were still alive he would have a chance to continue to work at the FBI. It suddenly occurred to Jack that he had been sitting in his office for a little over 2 hours and hadn't told the team about the latest development on the case. With a heavy heart, he picked up the phonebelieving it was his duty to tell them in private.
When the remaining members of his team were assembled in his office, Jack began to tell them that they had probably lost a friend. After he had finished telling them this terrible news, he looked at his team. They looked devastated.
"Danny's dead?" asked Sam as she sat down feeling that her legs wouldn't support her any longer.
"That's what the evidence points to," replied Jack.
"They surely don't think Danny murdered his brother?" asked Vivian.
"Rick doesn't. So he's stalling the information, but I don't know how much longer he can stall it."
Sam stood. "I'll talk to Eric Kellar," she said referring to her ex- boyfriend, the NYPD homicide detective.
Undisclosed location Friday 1100 108 hours missing
Danny slowly opened his eyes. For the first time in days, he found he could sit up successfully. His body no longer felt like a ton of bricks. His skin no longer itched. It was no longer a great effort to breathe, but considering all of this he still felt like crap. Leaning against the wall, he looked around. This was still his `escape' cell. If he didn't escape soon, Danny believed he would never escape. Before he could locate the piece of glass one of the goons entered his cell and dragged him into the `torture' cell.
"You are finally awake, 53459."
Danny looked to his left and was relieved to see Molotov, not the psycho animal Dropshot. But chose not to answer Molotov. He was still too tired to deal with this right now and hoped this session would be over as soon as possible.
Molotov smiled. He believed he was about to break Taylor and this latest piece of information surely would. "53459, your brother is dead, and everyone thinks you are the murderer." Molotov's smile grew as he watched the battered agent's shoulder slump in defeat. "Even if you survive this, no one is going to want you. Do you know what they do to feds and traitors in jail?"
Before Danny, had a chance to response, the physical abuse began. But Danny didn't care. He now had no one. What was the point of living? He was so numb he didn't feel the abuse that was being rained down on his body. Before he knew it, his bloody and battered body was being dragged back to his cell. Once left alone he drew his legs up to his chest and started to sob. Images of the happier times of his childhood with Raphi flashed before his eyes. Then he thought of how Raphi had protected him from the abuse and how he'd abandoned Raphi. He deserved this. He didn't deserve to be loved. He didn't deserve to be happy. He deserved nothing but this torture.
Queens - Sam's apartment Sunday 2300 168 hours missing
Sam held a glass of wine in her hand as she looked out the window. It was one week to the hour that Danny had gone missing. Rick had eventually turned the information over to NYPD, but not before he was ordered to by the Deputy Director of the FBI, Martin's father. Martin hadn't spoken to his father since. Sam had spoken to Eric about the case and even though Eric believed that it wasn't in Danny's character to murder his brother, he had to go on the evidence. She looked up at the stars and remembered what Danny had once told her. Smiling, she looked up at the North Star--the brightest of them all. "Danny wherever you are, I'm missing you and so is Martin, Viv, Jack and lots of other people at the office. I hope you are ok. Please come back to me." A single tear ran down her cheek.
Undisclosed location Wednesday 1400 232 hours missing
Danny sat in the corner on his cell, scraping away at the cement. Now it wasn't about escaping but to take his mind off the torture, his brother's murder, and being a murder suspect. He couldn't bring himself to kill himself. No that would just be concrete evidence that he was as weak, as they said he was. When he had joined the FBI, especially missing persons, he started to believe that there were things in life worth being happy about. For the first time in his life, he felt wanted and it pained him to think that these people didn't want him anymore. He hadn't noticed that these thoughts had driven him to dig the glass deeper into the wall; he didn't notice the glass dig into his hand; he didn't notice the blood beginning to seep out of his hand and mix into the cement dust. If anyone ever asked himnot that they wouldabout his days in hell, he couldn't tell them. He was too numb. He didn't even care when Dropshot tortured him. To be honest, he barely felted it now. All of his motivation to live to escape was now gone.
Auto's Garage Bronx Saturday 1200 302 hours missing
Danny had received a phone call yesterday afternoon about his car, which was why Martin was at the Bronx garage on a Saturday morning. They had phoned, asking for Danny, to tell him that his car had been repaired for days and needed to be picked up. Of course, Danny wasn't there to take to the call or pick the car upso Martin did. When he got there, Martin found he didn't have the strength to tell them that Danny was believed to be dead. Probably because he didn't believe it himself. He had often heard Danny talk about his carhow gorgeous it wasbut he never really understand until he saw it. The mechanic pointed toward a dark blue car with silver stripes, 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500. Martin never really understood Danny's love for cars, but he did now. When Martin somehow found himself driving towards his place, he felt like he was nicking Danny's car. No, Martin thought, he would just store in his garage until Danny comes back. Then he'll ask him if he could take it for a spin. As Martin pulled into his garage, he suddenly realised that tomorrow Danny would have been missing for 2 weeks. The chances of having a spin in the car were slim. Martin punched the steering wheel. How could he be so shallow, he thought, when his friend was either dead or in a seriously bad way.
Undisclosed location Monday 1200 350 hours missing
"What are the government's responses a bio attack?" yelled Molotov as he stroked his Colt Double Eagle down Danny's face. After he had told Taylor about his brother's murder, the guy had shut down as if he did care anymore. For the second time in as many days, he picked up syringe filled with a mix of fine glass, brick dust and heroin and threatened Danny with it.
Danny looked at Molotov as he was threatening with that crap again. He vaguely remembered what Molotov said it was filled with. He knew it was the worse pain he had ever been in, but he didn't care. The amount of people he had hurt throughout his lifetime how he abandoned his brother how he wasn't always there for his friends how hadn't protected kids from abuse this was why he deserved it. Maybe this time, Danny thought, Molotov would go too far and kill him. That would be nice and at least it would be quick. He looked down as Molotov stepped forward and injected the potentially lethal mixture into Danny's veins.
FBI HQ NY Wednesday 1700 423 hours missing
Usually Vivian Johnson would be happy about going to watch the Yankees vs Mets, but not tonight. Something, no someone was missing. Even when Danny didn't come to the game with her, they would always rib each other the day after. As the Yankees usually won, Viv usually had the upper hand. But from then on every time the Yankees got beat, Danny would take great glee in reading the match report to her. There was no malice in his actions; it was just good-natured fun. She knew that she had to go to the game so when Danny came back she could give him a ribbing about the Mets losing again. When he came back if he came back, she thought. Viv, like the rest of the team, had an undying belief that Danny was alive. Not that she would pity the person that was doing this to Danny. They say a mother protecting her young is one of most deadly weapons, and Danny was like a son to her.
After finding her way to her seat, she looked up at the clock and realised that Danny had been missing for 2 weeks and 3 days.
A warehouse somewhere in New York State Friday 1800 470 hours missing
"Why don't we use Novichok?" asked Molotov. He didn't understand why Dropshot was spending all this time and money on this virus when he could get a nerve agent in days for half the price and risk.
"Because Novichok is a Chemical agent and Biological agents cause more fear and damage," replied Dropshot.
"OK, let's take for example a typical office worker. We will call him Bob. The bio agent get dispersed into his office, now everything he touches and breathes on comes in contact with the virus. Bob sits at his desk, uses the computer and phone, prints out a report and takes it over to his boss. Its his lunch break so he takes the crowded elevator down to street level and walks down the crowded street bumping into people as he goes. He stops at the deli, then returns to the office always in contact with people. Before returning home, he goes to the gym and stops at the bar for a quick drink with his friends," Dropshot said and then paused. "Now think of the number people Bob came in contact with and think how many people they came in contact with. Now think of the incubation period of the virus, see what I am getting at?"
Molotov stood there for a moment. Wow, he thought, he had never thought just how much damage such a tiny amount of that clear liquid could do. Before the government knew what it was dealing with, it would all ready be too late, it would be worldwide. "So are we going to use a bomb?"
"No. A bomb would cause too much attention and, besides, it would kill some of the virus." Dropshot turned and looked at Molotov. "Operation Rhino will commence on Monday at 0900."
Sunday 1630 516.5 hours missing An icy draft filtered through the small room. "Do you know what this is 53459?" Molotov held up a small syringe filled with a clear liquid. The needle glinted as it caught the light
"No, but I am sure you are going to take great pleasure telling me." A heavy boot smashed into his damaged ribs. Danny groaned and tried not to pass out. He knew from previous experiences that passing out was not a good option.
"That was for being cocky, but you are right. I will tell you. This, 53459, is Ebola, but we have mutated the virus so the symptoms will start to show in 6-12 hours." Molotov smiled as saw the fear in Danny's eyes.
"That's nice for you," Danny replied with the bravest voice he could muster. It wasn't as if he wasn't scared of death, but he knew the affects of Ebola and for the first time in days, he felt alive.
"Do you know what I am going to do with it?"
Danny smiled. He was already screwed. What was another kicking, Danny thought. Another beating? At least he would die with a fight. At least he would die knowing that he had pissed this bastard off. He took as a deep breath as his injuries would allow, before he replied. "Well I guess you are going to inject it into me and then tell me the affects of this lovely virus."
Molotov laughed. "Yes, that is true, but I will also make sure that you remain conscious through all of the stages of Ebola right to the final stage where your body liquefies and your brain divides." With that Molotov slowly moved the syringe towards Danny's arm.
Undisclosed location Sunday 1645 516.75 hours missing
The needle made its way painfully and slowly towards Danny's arm. Then Molotov stopped. "If you tell me the government's responses to a bio attack on New York, I will let you go; well at least I will make your death quick and painless."
"As I have told you every time we have these `little chats,' I have no idea what they are and even if I did I won't tell you, so you might as well shoot that crap into me."
With this, Molotov signalled to one his goons to take Danny to a cell. As the goon threw Danny into a cell, Molotov stood in the doorway. "I don't kill on the Sabbath; I want the information by midnight tonight. You have 7 hours."
Danny lay on the cold, damp floor. Was this, the end? He didn't know why he suddenly wanted to live. Sitting up slowly, he tried to ignore the dizziness and the pain that tried to consume his body. He had to think, but going towards the blacknessaway from all the pain, this hellwas so welcoming, but that wasn't going to help his cause. Leaning against the cool walls of the cell, he closed his eyes and started to think of the team Sam the various girlfriends family. Then it hit him with the force of an express train: Ebola drug dealers ..questions about the government reactions to terrorist acts. Danny mentally slapped himself. Why the hell had it taken this long, he asked himself? With renewed energy and a clear goalthis wasn't just his life on the linebut millions of innocent men, women and children, he slowly got up and looked around. This was the `escape cell'. Even in his weakened state, he could still escape tonight. He had to escape tonight.
A Plane somewhere above the eastern seaboard Sunday 1700 517 hours missing
A 737 flew eastwards through the darkening sky. Sam looked to her left to check if Jack was asleep, and then slowly withdrew a case file. She ran her fingers over the familiar photo; it had been damn near 3 weeks. If anyone asked, she could tell them the hours, the minutes, even the seconds that Daniel Taylor had been missing.
NYPD also had no luck with Danny's case, but this could be because they were looking at it from a different perspective. They were looking for Danny the murder suspect, not Danny the missing person. She had reviewed Danny's case every night, but still had found nothing. People just didn't disappear into mid-air. She had investigated deep undercover programs with the FBI, DEA and any other agency she could gain access to. She had even checked through all the resent additions to the Witness Protection Program, but kept running into dead ends. Even though the most likely outcome of this godforsaken case was that Danny was dead, she still believed he was alive. Looking out the window, she tried to locate the North Star but saw only darkness and constant flashing of the aeroplane's lights.
Undisclosed location Sunday 1730 517.5 hours
Danny sat and listened for a while, waiting for the footsteps to fade away. Once he was sure that he could move the bricks without being detected, he began the slow and arduous process. The bouts of coughing didn't help. The limited food he'd had during his time in captivity started to show on his lean body. They had given him enough food to keep him alive, but between not caring about life and being fearful what they had put in it, he hadn't had nearly enough food to fuel his body for the escape.
Finally after what felt like an age, Danny had removed enough bricks to make his escape possible. He paused, this was his only chance to make things right, to correct his mistakes and hopefully prevent the murder of millions of innocent lives. Slowly he crawled out of the small hole into the elements. The weather outside was usually only reserved for horror movies, horizontal rain, wind howling through the trees and lighting dancing across the sky. He looked around and hurried into the darkness, not knowing what direction he should go and just hoping the direction he was going in was the right one.
Vivian's apartment Sunday 1800 518 hours missing
Reggie had just finished his homework. After months of acting up, he had finally had settled down. Viv had also tried to protect Reggie from the horrors of the world, from the horrors of her job. It frightened her that Reggie could become one of New York's many gunshot victims. If one of her team mates, got shot that was bad enough, but that was the risk they took everyday. Reggie was just a kid. Sitting down, she picked up the sport section and thought of her `other son.' Viv hoped where ever Danny was that he was ok.
Undisclosed Location Sunday 1830 518.5 hours missing
The rain continued to lash down on him. He shivered. He was so tired, but he had to keep going. Then as fatigue overtook him he thought, maybe it would be possible to rest for a bit. Sinking down leaning against a tree, he tried to control his breathing, but it kept coming in short, shallow gasps. He needed to rest for a couple of minutes before continuing, but he had to get the information to the FBI. After that he didn't care what happened to him, it was not as if anyone else would care. He looked at the number on his arm. Was it selfish to remove the number? So he would die with a name not a number. Holding the piece of glass in his hand which he took as his weapon Danny cut in to his arm, and watched in fascination as his blood mixed with the rainwater. After watching for a while, he managed to stand up to continue his quest.
Downtown New York City Sunday 1900 519 hours missing
Dropshot sat and looked at the target. He smiled. Tomorrow would be a start of a new beginning. In a few days, America would be reeling from the rap from Stalin's Comrades; soon the capitalist world would pay for their mistakes. Taylor had just had become a pawn in his game so they would understand what it was like to lose one of their own. No one in this world was innocent, but now they would pay for their actions.
Somewhere in Southern New Jersey Sunday 2000 520 hours missing
Danny had no idea how long he had been walking before he came across an old ford pickup. Looking around, he found nothing to break the truck's window. Using his fist to break the window, he opened the truck's door and tried to sweep the majority of the glass out, but his feet quickly told him that he hadn't completed the task.
Danny rested his head against the steering wheel; soon he felt his body shake as he broke down in tears. He knew he had to face someone in the FBI. Danny just hoped it wasn't anyone on the team. He didn't want to see their disappointment; he didn't want them to see his weakness. He just wanted to give them the information and then for them to let him die. Danny sat up and took a couple of shaky, painful breaths. He was so weak, but some how, he needed to pull himself together and get to New York. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he put the truck into gear and pulled off, wincing as the glass imbedded its self farther into his feet.
He had previously determined that he was near Roosevelt City in Lebanon State Forest, New Jersey so, therefore, he knew he had to head north. The oncoming traffic's headlights were mocking him, he thought, adding misery to his headache, which was rapidly turning into a migraine.
Danny did not understand why Jack had given him a place on the team because he was obviously stupid. Why else would it of have taken him the huge amount of time to work out that they were planning a terrorist attack. If it had been someone else, the terrorist attack would have been thwarted by now, his brother would still be alivebut no, Danny thought, I was stupid. Because of him, his brother was dead, he was the only suspect and due to a terrorist attack, countless millions may still die.
Martin's apartment complex Sunday 2200 522 hours missing
Martin walked toward the car in the corner of the garage. Pulling off the cover he slipped inside. He sat inside and let his thoughts consume him. He had done this everyday since he had picked up Danny's car. It had become part of his daily routine. After work, he would run the car for a few minutes, just so Danny wouldn't come back to a flat battery. Martin also had brought Danny's car a coverhoping to protect it from the endless dirt that some how made its way into the garage. He just hoped Danny had some form of protection.
New York Sunday 2230 522.5 hours missing
How he ever arrived in New York, Danny would never know. He had to pull over at least twice to vomit. The second this happened, he was throwing up blood. He didn't understand why this terrified him. He didn't think he was afraid of death believing he had nothing to live for. He thought maybe it was because he believed he would die before he could tell anyone about the attack.
Arriving at Federal Plaza, he dumped the truck. He would tell someone about it so the poor owner wouldn't be fined or anything. He had already caused enough pain to people he knew. He didn't want to do the same to other innocent people that happened to get caught in his wake.
He walked towards the back route in the building, which was usually reserved for undercover agents so no swipe card was needed. It was still incredibly securewith a renal and fingerprint scan needed to gain access to the building. Leaning against the wall, he felt the adrenaline leave his body. He had to force his body to go on just for a bit longer just so he could tell someone about the attacks, then he could succumb to an eternal slumber. Using the wall to support himself, Danny slowly made it towards the elevator. He felt he was on auto-pilot as he pressed the button to go to the 30th floor. As the doors slid open, he walked towards an office; he didn't know why he was drawn to this particular one. It felt familiar. It felt safe. Maybe he could rest for a minute, get his breath back and pull himself together before he made the call. Yes that was a good idea, he thought; a couple minutes wouldn't make a difference. Crossing the office, he collapsed on the couch and into a pain free oblivion.
FBI NY HQ Sunday 2300 523 hours missing
Jack slowly walked into his office; it had been a long day. He and Sam had just flown back from Phoenix. Dropping his bags, he flicked on a light and watched as the room filled with light. At least they had closed that case and the missing person had been safely returned home. Running his hands through his hair, he picked up the phone checking for messages but in reality, he was only checking to see if there were any leads on Danny's case. The case had been dead end after dead end, and each time he walked along the Hudson, Jack kept expecting to see Danny's body. His sixth sense pulled him out of his thoughts. There was someone else in the room. Jack started to cautiously walk towards the dark shape on the couch. "Danny!" Jack gasped and quickly sat next to him. Placing two fingers on Danny's neck he tried to find a pulse. "Come on Danny. Don't do this to me!"
FBI HQ NY Jack's office Sunday 2300 523 hours missing
After what felt like a lifetime, Jack found what he was looking for. The pulse was weak and rapid, but it meant that Danny was alive. Danny's breathing was way too shallow. Noticing that Danny was shivering, Jack shrugged off his coat and carefully placed it over Danny. He quickly pulled out his cell and phoned the emergency services followed by Sam, not wanting to leave Danny alone.
Sam had been waiting for this phone call for 3 weeks, but she never knew how she would react; now she did. She made the short distance from her desk to Jack's office in record time--where she saw Jack sitting next to a figure. As she crossed the room, she saw who it was and what kind of state he was in; her legs nearly buckled.
Sitting on the end of the couch, Sam gently moved Danny's head so it was resting on her lap and stroked his once soft brown hair, which was now matted with blood. Looking over Danny's body nearly brought her to tears. There wasn't an inch of his body that she could see that wasn't marked in some way. She wanted nothing more than to hold him in her arms and take all the pain away. Casting a worried look at Jack, Danny was still unresponsive. Sam continued to stroke Danny's hair and tried to get a response from him. "Danny, Danny its ok, you're safe now come on Danny please open your eyes." She was desperate now. He finally had come home to them, and she was terrified that he would now die in her arms.
Danny heard a familiar voice and knew he should go towards it, but he was so tired and scared. It was probably another of Molotov's tricks, he thought. He lay there debating whether or not he should go towards the voice, the pain, the torture. Maybe Molotov would go too far this time, and then it would all be over. Yes, going towards the voice would be good. He doubted he would be able to stay conscious for long anyway. He slowly opened his eyes, and waited for the hell to begin.
Jack saw Danny's eyes beginning to flutter open. Placing his hand on Danny's shoulder, he tried to persuade the younger agent back into the world of consciousness. "That's it Danny, open your eyes for me." He watched as Danny's eyes slide in and out of focus, finally focusing on him.
"J-jack?" Danny asked weakly.
"I'm here and so is Sam. Just relax ok. The paramedics will be here soon." replied Jack. Once he got his hands on the people that did this to Danny, he thought, they would wish they were dead.
Why was Jack being so nice to him, Danny thought? It had to be a trap or maybe he was hallucinating. Either way, he had to risk it and tell Jack about the attacks. He felt someone running their hand through his hair. It felt good. Slowly moving his eyes towards the owner of the hand, he saw Sam.
"Danny, its ok. Just relax and hang in there, understand?" Sam said as she wrapped her hand around his and squeezed it. "Just hang in there, Danny." This was some trick Molotov was playing on him or a new interrogation technique, Danny thought. Just tell them the information, his mind told him and it will be all over. He wanted to believe them but the constant doubt told him this was a dream. He would wake up in the torture cell, with Molotov or that animal, Dropshot, standing over him with a syringe, laughing manically.
He started to panic. He felt his breathing increase to short, rapid bursts. He closed his eyes to try and close out the pain. He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and a persistent voice. "Danny, look at me!" He slowly opened his eyes again to see Jack. "Take it easy. Just relax. Danny, I need you to take slow breaths." Jack watched as the younger agent calmed down. "That's good Danny that's really good."
"Jack, I'm sorry I messed up. I'm sorry I didn't escape before. I'm sorry I am not strong or tough enough"
His sentence was cut short by a bout of coughing. Jack was shocked by this statement. He looked at Sam who still had tears in her eyes.
"Danny, you didn't do anything wrong," Jack paused, "You are brave, tough and strong to escape. I don't know many people that could of done that, Danny."
If this was a hallucination, it was a damn good one, Danny thought. As least, he hadn't failed Jack. He felt he was getting weaker. He knew he didn't have much time left as he felt his life slowly ebb from his body. He needed to tell them about the attacksknowing it would probably use the remaining strength in his body. "Jack." Danny's voice was barely more than a whisper now.
"Yes," replied Jack. He had to lower his head towards Danny's as his voice was so faint.
"People that held me .terrorists " Danny said, his speech rapidly deteriorating with his strength. "Terrorist attack .M- monday .N-new York, E-ebola." It was becoming harder and harder to breathe.
"Its ok, Danny. Take your time." Jack replied. He squeezed Danny's hand hoping this would encourage him. Damn, he thought, he had forgotten how stubborn and tough Danny Taylor was.
It was a while before Danny felt he had the strength to continue, "The virus i-s at .. a-abandoned w-warehouse, o-old Nike." Danny didn't know if he could finish before his body gave out, but he had to. "P-poughkeepsie, u-upstate"
He had now served his purpose. He was too tired to fight the impending darkness. He just wanted to slip into an eternal slumber, away from the pain, away from everything. He closed his eyes.
"Danny, Danny come on stay with me," Jack said. Where the hell are the paramedics, he thought. He was terrified that Danny would die here in his office. "Danny, where were you held?" Jack didn't care if Danny answered his question, but if it was enough to keep Danny conscious that was good enough for him. He was surprised when Danny opened his eyes again.
"Roosevelt C-city, N-new J-jersey, b-bricks, n-no w-windows." Danny closed his eyes again. Jack looked up at Sam, who had been quiet through this whole exchange. Tears stained her face. Where the hell were the paramedics?
FBI HQ NY Sunday 2330 9.5 hours until Operation Rhino
He shivered. It was so cold, and he didn't know how many more of Molotov's `games' he could play. He could hear two voices they sounded concerned but after his time in captivity he felt he could no longer trust any body. He heard two more voices enter his cell. They were probably more of Molotov's goons, or maybe they were echoes of the original voices. He didn't know. He was in so much pain and so confused. He felt a prick of a needle on his hand and tried to jump back. He couldn't take anymore of Molotov's drugs or mixtures. Feeling pressure on his shoulders he remembered this time it wasn't any of Molotov's mixtures or drugs; it was Ebola. He tried to move again. He didn't want to die in this cold cell, alone from Ebola.
Sam felt Danny tense up and try to move away from the paramedic's as if they were here to continue the torture. She looked over at Jack, who shared her concern. Sam knew somehow she needed to reassure Danny, so he could get the help he so desperately needed. She had tried talking to him, holding his hand, stroking his hair but nothing was working and time was running out. Finally Sam gently kissed Danny's forehead, hoping this action would calm him. As she did, her tears slowly made tracks through the dried blood on his face. How could someone do this to anyone, Sam thought, how could someone do this to Danny. The simple kiss that she had laid on Danny's forehead appeared to have worked as she felt him relax. Nodding to the paramedics, she watched as they started to do their job.
Finally, after what felt like hours, they were moving towards the elevator. "Sam go with him," Jack said as he paused unsure how to phase the next part of his sentence, "if anything happens . I don't want him to be alone."
Jack watched as the elevator doors closed, leaving him and his whirlwind of emotions alone. Making his way back to his office, Jack made two phone calls: one to the FBI's head of counter terrorism, New York branch, Christopher Nelson and one to Agent Harrington of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, quickly briefing them on the situation. Once those phone calls were out of the way, Jack had the difficult task of telling the remaining members of the team that they had found Danny alive but well that was going to be the hard part. Picking up the phone he dialled the familiar number. It rang a couple of times before it was picked up.
"Viv, its Jack."
"So the case has been wrapped up then?" Vivian asked.
"What?" This small statement, puzzled Jack for a second, so much had happened since wrapping the case. "Yeah, but that's not why I am calling."
"Surely we can't have a new case."
"No, but we need all hands on deck. We have just received intelligence that there is going to be a terrorist attack on New York tomorrow," Jack replied. He was just buying time so he could phase the next part.
"I will be there in 20 minutes," Vivian replied. She was just about to put down the phone, when Jack started to talk again.
"Viv, wait there's more. We found Danny. He's alive." Jack took a deep breath, "it looks really bad Viv. It looked really bad," Jack said repeating himself as he barely contained his emotions. "Danny was " Jack stopped. He couldn't refer to Danny in the past tense. "Danny told me about the terrorist attacks."
Viv swallowed as she tried to process this information. Danny was back but barely alive and had been held by some psycho terrorist group. "Jack, this is Danny we are talking about. He's probably the most stubborn, toughest, bravest person I have ever met. He will be ok."
"You weren't there. He thought that he had failed me. He thought we were going to hurt him Viv. It was heartbreaking." Jack didn't know how much longer he could keep his emotions in check; he had stayed strong in front of Danny and Sam. But these animals had tortured one of his people, his family. "I am going to kill those bastards once I get a hold of them."
"Jack, please," Vivian responded. Jack thought Viv was going to reason with him, but he was beyond reasoning. "Jack, remember there is no `I' in team."
There was a knock on Jack's door. He looked up to find Agent Harrington from the JTTF. "I've gotta go. The JTTF has arrived." Jack paused. Martin didn't know about Danny. As it was unlikely that he would get a chance to tell him now that the JTTF had arrived. "Viv, I feel really bad asking you to do this, but can you tell Martin. I don't want him receiving this from a third hand source."
"Don't worry about it. I will see you in about 20 minutes. Bye."
After ending the call, Jack looked up at Agent Harrington. "So what do you need?"
"Firstly, I need all the intelligence you have regarding this threat. Secondly I need to interrogate your source to see if they are credible," Harrington said
"The source is credible, but you can't interrogate him," Jack replied.
"Why the hell not? This isn't one of your missing persons cases. There is a potential terrorist attack on New York tomorrow and I need to know if the intelligence is credible before I proceed. Who is your source and why the hell can't I speak to him?" Harrington yelled.
Jack felt his blood boil. Trying hard to suppress his emotions, he replied, "His name is Special Agent Danny Taylor of the FBI. He is on my team, so I can tell you his information is credible. And the reason why you can't interrogate him is because he damn near died getting the information to us, and he may still die."
"You did what? Damn-it, Jack, I need to interrogate him. Why didn't you wait until I got here?" Harrington yelled as the tension continued to rise in the room.
"Sorry Harrington," Jack replied sarcastically, "while Danny was lying there struggling to breathe, struggling to live, I should of told him: `Danny we need to get you down to an interrogation room, so the JTTF can determine if your information is credible or not. Don't worry it should only take a couple of hours.' Sorry, Harrington, but I have humanity. I care about my agents. Maybe you should try it sometime." There was another knock on Jack's door. "Yes," Jack yelled as he felt his façade cracking.
"Jack, you said you had credible intelligence on a bio-attack. Who's your source?" Christopher Mellor - head of New York's counterterrorism unit - asked as he entered Jack's office.
"My source is Special Agent Danny Taylor. He's one of mine"
"I know. Hasn't he been missing for about three weeks?" Jack nodded and then Christopher continued, "Ok we have established the source is credible unless unless he was under duress at the time?"
Mount Sinai Hospital Monday 0200 7 hours until Operation Rhino
Sam sat alone in the cold, sterile hospital passageway. Jack had sent her with Danny, but in all honesty, she would have gone anyway even if he had ordered her not to, not that he would have. She had tried to read one of the years out of date women's magazines, but had found she was too distracted. She had found herself staring at the same page for what felt like hours, but the clock on the sterile wall told a different story. Sam had thought that she would be would be happy and relieved when Danny came back, but now she had never felt so apprehensive. She needed this whole situation to have a fairytale ending, but she felt it wouldn't. Fairytale endings don't happen in the real world, she thought, but maybe it would happen just this once.
Poughkeepsie Monday 0300 6 hours until Operation Rhino
Hutchison and the others sat in the abandoned Nike warehouse preparing the virus. They were in the final stages before they unleashed the virus upon the citizens of New York and in time the citizens of the world. They were so concentrated on their task that they did not notice the SWAT teams surrounding the building. The first Hutchison knew about it was the explosion that ripped the door open followed by a flash-bang. Soon the warehouse was swarming with FBI agents and LEO's. Commands were issued and were quickly followed. Within minutes, the suspects were detained. Now came the task of locating the virus before it was too late. To one side of the warehouse, there was a refrigerator. Inside there were five racks of test tubes filled with a clear liquid, which tests would later confirm as being the Ebola virus. But on closer inspection, it appeared that one of the vials was missing.
Near Roosevelt City, New Jersey Monday 0430 4.5 hours until Operation Rhino
Martin stared out into the darkness of New Jersey, the wind and rain whipped around the SUV. Based on Danny's vague description, there were six buildings in the area that matched and they had already searched five. This was the sixth and final one. Martin hoped that they would find the terrorists this time, otherwise they would be back to square-one and the clock was ticking. But he also hoped that they would find the terrorists in this building, so he could show them the true meaning of pain.
"Yeah," Martin replied, blinking as he tried to clear his head and prepare for the next raid. After the news from Poughkeepsie, it was vital that they detained all of the suspects. Martin stepped out of the SUV and into the rain and looked around. This was by far the most remote location out of all the previous places searched. Gripping his numb hands around his gun, he followed the SWAT teams into the building. The first thing Martin noticed was how cold and damp the building felt; it wasn't much warmer that outside. He heard agents ahead of him yelling at a suspect. Martin continued to follow the SWAT team down the passageway, clearing the cells as they went. Finally they reached the end of the passageway and the final cell. As Martin cleared the cell, he looked around and knew this was the right building. At the far corner of the tiny cell was a wall that had a hole cut into it. Martin felt a small smile reach his mouth. He realized Danny hadn't been dumped in Jack's office. He had escaped. MacGyver himself would have been proud.
FBI HQ NY Interrogation room Monday 0630 2.5 hours until Operation Rhino
Molotov sighed. He was ex-KGB. He knew how to interrogate and this wasn't the way. But he was not completely at ease. The guy in the far corner had done nothing but stare at him from the beginning.
"Are there any more vials of the virus?"
"Maybe, maybe not," replied Molotov trying hard not to laugh.
Jack stood in the corner. He didn't know how much longer he could stand and listen to this crap. This guy was talking about Danny as if he was some dirt on his shoe. Walking towards Molotov, Jack stopped; he had to keep his emotions in check if he was going to succeed. "What was your use for Agent Taylor?"
Molotov smiled this was his chance to get a reaction out of these guys; a chance to see how much `Taylor' meant to them. Then he would tell them `Taylor' was dead. "His brother owed me money for drugs, and my crew thought it that Taylor would be a useful asset, but it was proved to be wrong. So we just use him as pawn in the game and to test out the new interrogation methods."
This was the straw that broke the camel's back; Jack couldn't take it any longer. Quickly crossing the room, he grabbed Molotov by the neck and threw him against the one-way glass causing it to break. "His name is Special Agent Daniel Taylor, and he is one of mine."
"I am sorry to tell you that he is dead then." Molotov looked into Jack's eyes; he had always been fascinated with people's reactions to death especially when it was someone close to them. But in all honesty, he was quite scared by this guy's reaction; bearing in mind he had already put him through a window.
"You must be an appalling interrogator, because if you were any good you would know, that Danny Taylor is still alive," Jack said, his hand not leaving Molotov's throat and hoping Danny was still alive. But he had seen the look in the paramedic's eyes. They were not holding out much hope for Danny, but they did not know Danny Taylor.
"He's alive? Physically maybe, but mentallyhe's gone. They say half the battle of recovery is mental. Face ithe's gone. I broke him; he's worthless to you now," Molotov said icily.
Jack wanted nothing more that to crush this bastard's windpipe, but that's what Molotov wanted him to do. But he could threaten him. "He IS NOT worthless, he IS a brilliant agent and he IS an incredible person. You will never be able to hide from me. I am in front of you, I am behind you, every where you go I will be watching you and that one day you stop looking over your shoulder, is the day I will kill you." Releasing his grip from Molotov's throat, Jack smiled as he watched the fear in Molotov's eyes. He could not turn back time, but he could take revenge. And the guy possibly had vital intelligence regarding a terrorist attack on New York. Time was of the essence; they needed the intelligence to stop the attack, so Jack felt his actions could be deemed as justified.
"Jack, what the hell are you doing? Get off him." Jack stood back shrugging off the agent.
"I want to file a complaint," Molotov yelled. "He threatened me."
"No, Molotov I didn't threaten you. By threatening you, it would mean there is a possibility I wouldn't carry it out." Jack left Molotov to mull over his last comment.
FBI HQ NY Interrogation cell Monday 0700 2 hours until Operation Rhino
We know who the leader of the cell is. If you tell us his location, we can grant you immunity.
Molotov laughed. "You think your weak little deals interest me. I will become a martyr for my cause."
Harrington laid the document containing the deal on the table. "If you give us Dropshot's location, you can walk out of that door. We would place you into Witness Protection. You can start a new life, safe from prosecution, safe from the wrath from your former associates"
"They are not my `former' associates, and I will never be safe. I will always be looking over my shoulder," Molotov replied.
"We can protect you; we will protect you," Harrington said, trying to persuade Molotov, this was their best chance to get Dropshot.
"You cannot protect me from one of your own," Molotov countered.
"Malone? It can be arranged," Harrington said as he tried to continue to persuade Molotov.
"You will never be able to protect from Malone. I have only seen that fire of determination once. And every threat he made, he carried out. No federal agency will be able to protect me from Malone."
Harrington paused. They needed Molotov to roll on Dropshot. Not only was it the best chance to capture one the FBI's most wanted terrorists, but they also didn't know if they had got all the Ebola vials. Harrington knew that persuading Molotov to roll on Dropshot would be the easy part, telling Jack and his team about the deal would be the hard part.
FBI HQ NY
Monday 0730 1.5 hours until Operation Rhino
Martin turned towards the voice, to see his father, "What are you doing here dad?"
Sensing Martin's tension, Deputy Director Fitzgerald got straight to the point. "Due to the recent intelligence about a potential terrorist attack on New York, the National Security Council believed it was necessary to have a more senior FBI agent dealing with the threat. Since the director is tied up in Washington, the most senior FBI agent is myself. We also need to verify if the intelligence is credible"
"What? Danny gave the information to Jack, that's as credible as you are going to get."
"We have to check." Victor Fitzgerald said.
"You don't believe Danny and Jack? They are both to brilliant agents, Danny is a good friend and Jack is a great boss."
"Jack is treading a dangerously thin line. That stunt he pulled in the interrogation room could have lost us a vital intelligence asset. That temper of his has landed him in trouble in the past and will in the future. It's just bad breeding Martin. You would never have done that that."
Martin looked out of the 30th floor window, before returning his eyes to meet his father's. "You're right, Dad; I wouldn't have shoved that bastard through the interrogation room window. I would have thrown him out of this window." Martin turned and walked towards the bullpen, leaving a stunned Deputy Director in his wake.
Mount Sinai Hospital
Sam drew her knees up to chest as she continued to wait for news. Why was it taking so long, she thought, surely if Danny had died they would of told her by now. He couldn't be deadafter all this he couldn't die. In no way was she glad that Danny had been held and tortured by these animals, but she knew if had been herself she would have never survived or escaped. She didn't believe that she had that mental strength that Danny had used to stay alive and to escape.
Jack had phoned earlier to tell her that they believed that they had all but one vial of the virus and, out of the suspected terrorists they had in custody; Danny's torturer was one of them. It had taken all of her will power not to go down to where this `Molotov' was being held and empty her gun out into him. But that would be too good for him; he didn't deserve a quick and relatively painless death. He deserved to believe hell would be like heaven compared to what she would put him through. Was it wrong to think about how she would inflict such pain on Molotov? Was it wrong to stoop down to his level? Yes it probably was wrong, Sam thought, but right now she didn't really care. She wouldn't kill him; no death was too good for him. Danny had nearly died. NoDanny had technically died a couple of times, so death was too good for Molotov.
"Are you here for Agent Taylor?"
Sam looked up to see a doctor standing in front of her. She tried to read his body language so she could prepare herself for the impending news. Sam heard herself answering, "Yes."
"Are you family?"
"Then I can't give you information on Agent Taylor's condition," the doctor said.
`Danny's condition', Sam thought that meant Danny was alive. "He doesn't have any family. I work with him." Sam felt tears rolling down her face. Was it too much to know if Danny was going to ok? Was it too much to ask to see him? "Please, I need to know, please .I love him."
Doctor Woodson felt his heart go out to Samantha. She was obviously more than a co-worker to his patient. If he survived his injuries, he was going to need people like that around him. "We managed to repair the collapsed lung, but it did cause huge complications."
Sam felt herself zone out as she heard various medical terms, such as collapsed lung, complications, massive blood loss and irregular heart beat. She was on the verge of tears again, but she had to stay strong for Danny. "Doctor, what are his chances?" Sam asked as she managed to look Doctor Woodson in the eyes. "Please tell me and don't sugar-coat it."
"Not good. I don't know if he will survive the morning."
"Can I see him?" Sam heard herself say, all though she had no idea how she had said it.
"I would prefer-"
"Please," Sam pleaded, "If what you say is true, then I don't want him to die alone. He's already been through enough; he shouldn't have to die alone. Please."
"Ok. But he's unconscious at the moment, and we don't when he will regain consciousness."
"Why?" Sam asked, as she felt slightly stronger. She needed to know the full facts, not that it would be much comfort.
"He has a lot of drugs in his system, and it's going to take a while before they stop affecting him," Doctor Woodson replied.
"I-I just need to make a phone call," Sam said, "To- to the rest of the team, they would want they need to know that Danny has pulled through surgery." Pulled through surgery sounded positive, not like the reality she was facing no that Danny was facing, Sam thought.
"I can do that if you would like," Doctor Woodson said.
"Thanks, but they need to hear it from me. I just don't know how I am going to tell them," Sam said as she pulled out her cell phone. Who was she going to tell? Who would ask her the least amount of questions? Normally Jack would ask the most questions, but he found Danny so he knew how bad it was. Due to this, he would probably ask the least amount and he was their boss. Hitting speed dial, she waited.
Jack cursed as his cell phone rang. Who was ringing in the middle of a national crisis? It better not be Maria, he thought. Picking up his phone, he looked at the caller ID and froze. It was Sam. That meant news about Danny. With trembling fingers, he connected the call. "Sam?"
"Jack, Danny's pulled through surgery, but " Feeling her legs weakening, she quickly sat down. Telling someone else somehow made Danny's condition realbefore it was like a day dream. Sam took a deep breath as she struggled to come up with words. The words that would tell Jack that although Danny had pulled through, he was still in a critical condition and they didn't think he would live to see the afternoon. "He's still in a critical condition. They-they don't think he will live through the morning."
Jack unconsciously tightened his grip on his cell phone. He knew Danny was in a bad way, but this bad? He closed his eyes as he tried to get the image of few hours ago out of his head. "Sam, this is Danny we are talking about. They didn't think he would make to the hospital and he did. They didn't think he would make through surgery and he did. They have based that on an average person in Danny's condition and we all know Danny isn't average. He will pull through; he's too stubborn not to."
"I know Jack. I gotta go."
"Ok, where will you be?" Jack asked, already knowing the answer.
"With Danny," Sam replied.
"As soon as we have finished here as soon as we can get away, we will be there." "I know. Bye," Sam said ending the call and then turning back to the doctor. "Can I see him now?"
"Sure, if you follow me," Doctor Woodson said as he started to walk down the mass of corridors towards the ICU. Opening the door, he saw the young woman freeze.
Sam froze. She thought she was prepared for this, but in reality were you ever going to prepared to see someone you love hooked up to all of these machines? Someone you love looking so pale, so still. Danny didn't need weak people around him now; he needed strong people. Trying to gather her strength, she walked across the room towards Danny and sat down next to him. "Hey there Danny," Sam said as she held his hand. "You scared the hell out of me." Gathering more strength, she ran her hand through his hair. "You know, you still own me $5 from that stakeout we did but if you just wake up, I will wipe your debt." Sam paused, "It's ok if you don't wake up now, Danny. Wake up when you feel ready, and I promise someone will be here." Feeling the last three weeks catch up with her, Sam laid down her head next to Danny's and fell asleep.
FBI HQ NY
"Anywhere in the world?" Molotov asked.
"That's right. A new name, a new face, a new life. Just tell us where Dropshot is, and the US government will set this up for you," Harrington said, watching Molotov as he tried to gauge a reaction.
"So if I tell you Dropshot's location, I get all of that and I will not be prosecuted? What about Malone?" Molotov asked.
"Only a few people will know your new identify, Malone will never know." Harrington paused, "This deal will only go ahead if Dropshot is at the location you have given" as he handed Molotov a piece of paper and a pen.
Molotov started to write on the piece of paper he had just been given and looked up, "Oh he will be there," as he handed it over to Harrington.
Harrington quickly glanced at the paper and pulled out his cell phone, issuing some commands. "As soon as we find Dropshot and if he is at the location you have given us, we will start to create your new identity."
Mount Sinai Hospital
Martin walked down the corridors towards the ICU. Jack and Viv had to finish up a couple of bit and pieces so they were going to join him later. They had decided rather than fight the pencil pushing maggots, for once they would just agree with them, as none of them needed heat from the pencil pushing maggots from DC. Martin increased his pace as he realised Sam had been here all by herself for several hours--most of which was waiting for news on Danny.
Following the information from one of Danny's torturers, they had found the leader of this terrorist cell and according to his FBI file probably contributed to Danny's injuries. Humanity is the fine line that separates us from our fellow mammals, he thought. Martin had never believed that he would be close to crossing that line, but as he saw Alan `Dropshot' Hough brought in, he wanted to cross it. Why the hell couldn't they release this Dropshot character Martin thought, so he could that he down a dark alley and beat the crap out of him? It could be instead of one of these mind numbing `team building' seminars. No, Martin thought, he would send Dropshot to one of the hellhole of prisons under paedophile and traitor charges, and then once Danny was up to it they would all beat the hell out him. Martin stopped himself. His thoughts were scaring him. He realised that he was just a couple a steps away from Dropshot's and Molotov's mentally, or was he. These guys had drugged Danny, killed his brother, tortured him and prepared to kill millions of innocent people as part of a game. No, Martin thought, he wasn't stooping to their level. He just wanted to take revenge from their actions. Finding himself at the ICU, he tried to push malevolent thoughts out of his mind, but seeing Danny like that made it impossible. If anything, it made his thoughts darker.
"Danny," Sam said looking around before her eyes finally settled on Martin. "Oh. Sorry, Martin. I didn't mean it in that way. I was half asleep and thought Danny had woken up." Her eyes returned to look at the still unconscious Danny. He still looked pale, he still looked
"Has there been any change?" Martin asked pulling Sam out of her disheartening thoughts.
"I don't know. I really don't," Sam said as she stroked Danny's hand, "Martin, he can't die. I don't know what I would do if he did."
"Sam, he won't. He's strong and he will pull through," Martin rested his hand on her shoulder. Since Danny's disappearance, they had grown closer again; the whole team had grown closer. "Sam, you should go home and get some rest."
"I can't leave him. What happens if he wakes up?"
"He won't be alone, if that's what you are worried about. One of us will be with him. Danny needs us awake and healthy, not running ourselves into the ground."
Sam sighed in defeat as she knew Martin was right. "Ok I will go home, but you have to promise me, he won't be alone for second. He doesn't deserve to be alone; he needs to know we are here for him."
Martin nodded he wasn't going to leave Danny, but Sam had been there since they had found him. "I promise. Do you want me to call you a cab?"
"No thanks. It should be pretty easy to catch one," Sam said as stood up, and ran her hand through Danny's hair and kissed his forehead. "See you later Danny. Thanks Martin, for you know looking out for me," she said as she hugged him.
"No problem, Sam. It there is any change I will phone you."
"You better. See you later," Sam said, taking one last look at Danny before she left the room.
Martin waited until Sam left the room, before he sat down next to Danny. "Hey, man, you have to wake soon, or one of us will commit murder," Martin sighed, "Whenever you're ready Danny, we will be here for you. Sam and Jack have probably already told this but you did good man, you really did. Anyway," Martin said changing the subject "I picked up your car; it's in my apartment's garage. I hope you don't mind anyway I bought her a cover as I didn't want her paintwork to be damaged."
FBI HQ NY
Harrington cautiously approached Jack Malone's office, trying to psyche himself up to tell Jack and possibly the rest of his team that their team mate's torturer was given a deal and was going to walk free. Taking a quick glance about after knocking on Jack's door, he stepped inside. Harrington looked around Jack's office and was relatively glad to only see Jack and Vivian Johnson, although Jack was known for his fiery temper and protectiveness over his team, Vivian was the calm one.
Jack looked up. "You better be coming in here with good news. Such as Molotov and Dropshot are dead/ have terminal diseases or are going to Saudi Arabia on pedophile changes."
Harrington looked nervously at his feet and then around the room for an escape route because he would certainly need them once he had told them this information. "You know Alan `Dropshot' Hough has been on the FBI's most wanted list for several years."
"Yes and your point is?" Viv said as she took a step towards Harrington.
"Well-well, for the purpose of national, sorry, international security, we needed this guy. I mean he's on the watch list for the CIA, NSA, MI6, MI5, FSB, and MOSSAD, you name it he's on their list. You have to understand. We are in time when we need our allies to fight terrorism," Harrington said still looking around.
"Harrington, where the hell are you going with this? Just cut to the chase," Jack said barely stopping himself from yelling at this protocol-following weasel.
Harrington continued to look at his feet. He was in the FBI building where there were still a lot of people around. Jack was mad, but he surely wasn't mad enough to attack him here. Harrington shuddered. He was safe now, but that didn't stop Jack or one of his team from beating the crap out him once he had left the office. It would just look like a random mugging. Also, he got the impression that Danny Taylor was very popular at the New York office so he doubted he would receive much help from them. But he thought it would be safer to tell Jack straight off rather than let Jack hear it from a second or third hand source. If things got too hairy, he could always blame it on Washington. "To get Dropshot, we had to give Molotov a deal."
"What?" Viv and Jack said together. Viv felt Jack rapidly approaching Harrington and pulled him back.
"Jack he's not worth it." But Jack continued to walk towards Harrington, "Jack, the team needs you Danny needs you. We don't want to be dealing with some pointless weasel. He's not worth it."
Jack listened to Viv. She was right. They needed to stick together, for their sakes and they needed to stick together for Danny. "What kind of deal, Harrington?"
Harrington backed up towards the door and took a deep breath. "Full immunity and a new identity."
"What!" Viv exclaimed, "This is the same guy who not only was part of a terrorist cell planning a bio attack on New York but also tortured an FBI agent."
"You better start praying that Danny survives, because if he doesn't pull through. I will avenge his death," Jack added
"Look I am not happy about it, but I got a call from Washington. There was nothing I could do," Harrington paused, "I like Martin Taylor. He's a good kid."
"No, you don't--you Washington ass-kissing weasel--because if you did, you would know his name is DANNY Taylor. And even though he's one of the best agents I have ever had the honour of working with, his name won't gain you places in DC." Jack said as he continued to threaten and intimidate Harrington.
Viv approached Harrington and in her calmness and coldest voice she spoke to him. "Everyone has a dark side. It's just some people are more in touch with their dark side than others. If Danny dies, this team will develop a very close relationship with their dark side."
Harrington backed out of the door, "Jack I really hope Danny is ok. I didn't want to make the deal, but I had to. I have to go."
Jack watched with vague amusement as Harrington shot of his office and towards the elevator. He turned to Viv, "The little-" words failed him. The team needed to stick together and that included him not losing his cool. "Do you think I scared him?"
Viv smiled. At least Jack got to vent some of his anger. "I don't think you scared him enough."
"Viv I'm headed off to the hospital. Do you want a lift?"
"No thanks," Viv responded, "I will take the next shift. When he comes around, he probably wouldn't want to be crowded."
"Ok then, I will see you in a couple of hours."
Mount Sinai Hospital
Jack sat in the darken ICU room, reading various intelligence documents about Alan `Dropshot' Hough. About how many people who had become victims of his work and had died, but Danny wasn't going to become one of those statistics. Danny was a fighter. He had proved that on several previous occasions, and he had more than proved that last night. Putting down the report, Jack turned towards Danny, squeezing his hand he began to talk. "Danny I know you are tired and in pain, but you have to fight ok, you have to dig deep. You can't let those animals win. Danny you're a hero, you saved millions of lives. That's why you can't give up; if you do I don't know what it will do to the team." Jack's voice softened to a near whisper, "I don't know what it will do to me."
"You know it's not your fault," a voice called out from behind him.
"Then why does it feel like it is?" Jack said turning towards the voice to see Viv. "I should have protected him; at the very least I should have found him sooner."
"Jack!" Viv exclaimed, "You can't protect them from everything. They know the risks of the job. We followed every lead. Even now, we know where and who held Danny. It was difficult to connect the dots."
"Viv, don't make excuses for me. I should have pushed Van Doran more to keep on the case. I should have still kept on investigating after we were pulled off the case."
"Jack it's not your fault. You did everything you could," Viv said, but she knew it was falling on deaf ears, as she was feeling the same and no one could convince her to feel otherwise.
Jack had turned to face Danny again when he started talking again. "You know on paper he wasn't on top of my list."
Viv looked puzzled. She had no idea where this conversion was going, but managed to respond. "No, I didn't."
Jack started again. "There were other people with multiple degrees, years of experience etc, but something told me to give this kid a chance that he was the right one. I remember how hard he worked during the trial period, how many times I found him asleep at his desk. I remember when I told him, he got the job," Jack smiled.
"I remember that." Viv said "He was so terrified, but when he came out of your office I thought he was going to pass out. Once he got over the initial shock, he was so happy."
Jack felt himself smile again, he had known Danny was `the one' from the early stages of his trial period but what had sold it was Hannah and Kate's reactions to Danny; it was a small but effective acid test.
5 years ago
Jack looked up from his paperwork and gasped, it was 10:00pm. He hadn't realised the time, especially when Hannah and Kate were at the office. He quickly packed up his paperwork and walked at of his office. He wasn't surprised to see Danny Taylor still working at this hour. But the two figures surrounding Danny brought a smile to his face. Kate was fast asleep on Danny's lap with her head resting on his shoulder. While Hannah was asleep on the floor with Danny's coat wrapped around her. Jack slowly walked towards them and tapped Danny on the shoulder. Danny nearly jumped out of his skin.
"Jack, I'm sorry she just crawled on to my lap and fell asleep. I tried to move her, but she wrapped her arms around my neck and wouldn't let go. I am really sorry Jack."
"Danny, Danny relax. Kate trusts you, she only does that to people who she really trusts. So far, that group includes my wife and me, and now you." Jack said smiling at the startled Danny Taylor, "Did Hannah nick your coat as well?"
"No, she was tired and about to fall asleep and I didn't want her to get cold." Danny replied.
"Danny will you do me a favour and carry Kate down to my car"
"No problem" Danny said, as he carefully stood up. Picking his jacket up Danny draped it around Kate's small frame and started to walk towards the elevator. As he stepped out of the elevator into the parking lot he felt the icily cold wind whip around him, Danny felt relieved that he had draped his jacket around Kate. "Which one is your car?" Danny asked Jack looking around, not that there were many cars left.
"This one here" Jack said approaching a blue ford sedan. After strapping Hannah in, Jack took Kate from Danny and strapped her in. "Thanks, Danny. So are you heading home now?" He asked.
"I thought I would head back and finish off a bit of paper work, try and make some headway." Danny replied.
"Nice try." Jack said, as he handed Danny's coat and jacket back to him, "I have called a cab for you. And don't even try to come back before 9 o' clock tomorrow morning, I have told the security guards not to let you in. Go home and get some sleep, you need it."
"Jack! I'm fine; I will do some paper work then drive home." Danny argued.
"Danny, I don't want a phone call in a couple hours telling me that you have been in a car crash. So quit arguing, get in that cab and I will see you tomorrow."
Danny sighed in defeat, it was pointless arguing with Jack and he was tried, maybe a few hours sleep would make the paper work disappear. In my dreams, Danny thought. "Goodnight." Danny said as he walked towards the cab.
Jack watched as cab disappeared into the night. He would talk to Van Doran tomorrow and try to persuade her that he didn't want the trial period that he had already made his decision; he wanted Danny Taylor on his team.
Back to present
Jack smiled at his memory. But his expression turned glum as he was drawn back to reality. "Viv, how I am going to tell him about Molotov when I don't know how I am going to tell Sam and Martin?" He paused, "DC as usual gets want they want, and we are left to pick up the pieces."
Viv looked at Danny and sighed there had been no change in his condition, the doctors still didn't hold much hope that Danny would pull through. But what did they know; they had already been wrong three times. They had thought he wouldn't make to the hospital, and then they had thought he wouldn't make through surgery and he had. Now it been over 24 hours since Danny had been brought in and he was still fighting. Jack was right. How were they going to tell Danny about Molotov's deal? It wasn't fair that Danny had escaped and had prevented a terrorist attack and he was fighting for his life, while Molotov had planned a terrorist attack and tortured Danny, yet he was getting a new life.
It was true that this event had pulled the team closer together and they were understandably concerned about Danny, but she had been slightly surprised by other peoples concern. It had taken her nearly half an hour to leave the office as she had been stopped by nearly everyone in the office, who had been asking after Danny. She felt herself slightly smile as she thought of the rest of the New York office finding out about Molotov's deal.
In the darkness, Danny heard a voice, a female voice talking him. This confused him; he didn't remember any women where he was being held and why was she addressing him by his name. Maybe she was his mother, no it couldn't his mother, as she would of beaten him by now if he hadn't woken up. He lay there thinking. His mother was dead so maybe he was dead. Danny felt slightly relived, so Molotov had gone to far this time. But as he continued to listen to the voice, it was familiar but it wasn't his mother's. It was soothing and concerned. It was telling him not to worry and everyone was there for him. Danny struggled to remember where he had heard that voice, and then he remembered it was Viv. Viv was nice; Viv wouldn't play tricks on him. A horrifying thought hit him, maybe Molotov and his crew had taken her as well in which case he had to wake up and protect her from these animals. He struggled to open his eyes, but they felt so heavy. He felt Viv holding his hand, he squeezed it back.
Viv felt him squeeze her hand, "Danny?"
"Danny?" Viv said, as she wrapped her other hand around Danny's, "It's ok sweetie, your going to be alright. Just open those big brown eyes for me."
Viv watched and waited, as she saw Danny's eyes slowly begin to flutter open. His eyes finally opened but were sliding in and out of focus, as he tried to find something to focus on.
Slowly and gently, Viv placed her hand on Danny's cheek and turned his face towards hersgiving him something to focus on. "Hey there, Danny. It's Viv. You're in hospital, but everything is going to be ok."
Danny finally managed to open his eyes, but now felt as though he was on a boat in a storm, as the room span violently and refused to focus. He thought he could hear the same soothing, concerned voice talking to him, but his senses continued to fluctuate making it impossible to focus on anything. Feeling a soft, gentle hand turn his head, he saw something and managed to focus on it. "Viv?" He asked hoarsely.
"That's right sweetie", Viv smiled. Danny was going to be ok, she thought. "Sweetie, you're in hospital, but everything is going to ok."
Danny breathed a sigh of relief; at least those animals hadn't captured Viv as well. He was confused; he didn't know how he had gotten to the hospital. Maybe they had dumped him or maybe the team had rescued him. Oh god, he thought, Raphi was dead and they had planted evidence that would suggest he was the murderer. His thoughts plunged him into a whirlpool of emotions. How could he be so selfish when Viv could have been hurt? His brother was dead and
Danny panicked as he remembered about the terrorist attack. Why the hell couldn't he stop screwing up? "V-viv, there's going to be a bio- terrorist attack on New York," he said as he closed his eyes, trying to block out the pain. Why was he so weak and pathetic, he continued to ask himself?
"I know. You told Jack and Sam when you were at the office," Viv said as she ran her hand through Danny's hair hoping she could reassure him. "You did good. You really did. Danny, you're a hero and you saved millions of innocent men, women and children throughout the world."
Danny looked at Viv in confusion. He was a hero? He didn't believe it. He had saved millions of people? He couldn't have. He had been in the office with Jack and Sam, and had told them about the terrorist attack? If he couldn't remember these events, what else couldn't he remember? What had he told Molotov or Dropshot? He wasn't worthy of Viv's pity or anyone else's sympathy for that matter. He would leave the hospital, so Viv and the rest of the team could get on with their lives and not have to deal with the screw up that he was. Danny struggled to sit up but found this simple action nearly caused him to pass out. He closed his eyes as the room started to spin violently again.
"Danny, you need to rest," Viv said as she ran her hand through Danny's hair. Seeing Danny so anxious like this, remembering how close they had come to losing him, imagining the hell he had been through, Viv had to hold back the tears that threatened to fall from her eyes.
"I didn't kill Raphi; I swear I didn't kill him," Danny said, almost begging Viv to believe him. He could cope that they thought he was worthless, pathetic and a screw up. But he couldn't cope with the fact that they believed he murdered his brother, his own flesh and blood.
"Oh Danny, you don't honestly think that we thought you did it," Viv said unable to know what to think. Should she be angry that Danny had so little faith, so little trust in them? Or should she agonize over the fact that Danny had been through such hell that he believed that they would think he had murdered his brother.
"But the evidence they said, t-they said that it was concrete. A closed case," Danny said shaking. He felt so tired and the pain shooting through his body made him feel nauseous. But he needed to make sure that Viv knew he didn't kill Raphi. He needed to tell Viv he wasn't this `hero' that she believed he was; that he was a pathetic screw-up.
Viv slightly tightened her grip around Danny's hand, as she watched the younger agent's torment. He didn't need this; he needed to rest, she rapidly tried to think of something to comfort him. "Danny, no one at the FBI believed you did it. Yes, the evidence was damning but Jack, myself, Sam, Martin, Rick Freedman and his team pushed the NYPD forensic unit everyday to recheck the evidence," Viv said pausing, she would tell Danny the short version of their battle to clear Danny's name, just to reassure him that his name had been cleared and that no one ever believed he was his brother's murderer. "Anyway to make a long story short, they finally found some evidence that suggested the `evidence' had been planted. Danny, we know you were never there. We know you would never hurt let alone kill your brother. It's not in your character," Viv stopped as she watched Danny relax slightly, but he struggled to keep his eyes open. Placing her hand on his cheek, Viv rubbed her thumb across it. "Don't fight it Danny, you need to rest. I promise someone will be here for you when you wake up. I promise."
So his name had been cleared, Danny thought as he felt relieved, not that he deserved to. He had deserved the treatment that Dropshot, Molotov and their crew had given him. He deserved it. He had to tell Viv this; he didn't want them to live a lie. The lie in which he was this glorious hero who had saved the innocent. No, he didn't want the people he loved to believe this. Maybe after he had told them why he was a screw up, they would leave him alone not that he really wanted them to. He loved them; he loved the way that they cared about each other, the way in which a family should. But he didn't deserve it. His parents had told him that and the many foster and group homes had said the same. He needed to tell Viv this but he was just too exhausted. He would ring one of them tomorrow after he had discharged himself. Molotov was right he was worthless, Danny thought, as he closed his eyes and gave into the battle.
Viv smiled as she watched Danny finally succumb to his battle against sleep. She never thought that this young, hot-headed agent would have such an affect on her. Danny was one of the most complex people she had ever met. There were so many layers to him. The more you got to know him and the more he trusted you, then he would peel off one more layer. But always holding back, as if to protect himself. Sam was right. Danny didn't deserve to be left alone, and he hadn't deserved any of what happened to him. She couldn't turn back time, but she could correct the present. She wouldn't leave him alone. Stepping away from Danny slightly, she pulled out her cell phone, and heard it ring a couple of times before it was answered.
"Malone," the voice responded
"Jack, its Viv."
"Is Danny alright?" Jack asked slightly panicking, as he knew Danny was still in a critical condition.
"Yes, he woke up."
"He woke up." Jack said repeating Viv's last words as he tried to make them sink in. Once they sunk in, he allowed himself the first genuine smile in weeks. In truth, it was the first genuine smile since Danny had gone missing three long weeks ago. "So he's going to be ok."
"I don't know. It's too early to tell. But I think, physically, he's going to fine, emotionally, I don't know." Viv paused, "We know what they did to Danny physically but we have no idea what they did to him mentally and that is going to be the hard part, getting Danny to open up."
Jack sighed. Words could not describe how relieved he was that Danny was going to be `physically' ok, but he knew what Viv said was true. The hard part was going to get Danny to open up to them. "He will, Viv. It may just take some time." Just how much time, Jack thought?
Sam sat staring at Jack, unconsciously twirling a pen in her fingers; Jack had just told them that Danny had woken up. The last three weeks had been hell for her, but the last 24 hours had been a blur. It had started with a phone call and seeing Danny in that state. It had been followed with endless hours of waiting either in the hospital or trying to sleep at her apartment. As she had found it impossible to sleep, she had come to work to find Martin followed by Jack pouring over mountains of paperwork. The tension was made worse by endlessly concerned people asking after Danny. Couldn't they just ask each other about Danny's condition, she thought? She knew she was being harsh but she, like the rest of the team, was having a hard time dealing with it. But now that Danny had woken up, Sam wouldn't care if those concerned people asked her about Danny. "So he's going to be ok?" Sam asked apprehensively.
"It's a bit to early to say, but all signs are looking good," Jack answered.
"Can I go and see him?" Sam asked
Jack looked at Sam. Even if he said `no', she still would go. "Sure. Say hi from me and that I will see him later."
Sam was up and grabbing her things before Jack had finished. She needed to see Danny awake with her own two eyes. Then and only then, would she believe that things would be ok. "Ok. Sure. I will see you later," she said as she practically ran towards the elevator.
Sam had no idea how or how long it took her to get to the hospital. She was sure that she would have couple of speeding tickets. But right now, she didn't care; the only thing she cared about right now was in this hospital, she thought as she sprinted through the hospital corridors. She paused once she reached Danny's room and tried to collect herself. Slowly and quietly, Sam opened the door. "Hey Viv, I got here as soon as Jack told us. How is he?"
Viv smiled at the slightly out of breath Sam, and stroked Danny's forehead. "He's going to be fine. He's our Danny and he's a fighter. Aren't you, sweetie," Viv said directing her last comment to Danny.
"Yes he is," Sam said as she approached Viv and Danny.
"So you're taking over the `Danny watch'?" Viv asked
"Yeah, if that's ok with you," Sam replied as she held Danny's hand.
"Sure as long as you look after him," Viv said as got up from the cold, uncomfortable chair. "Do you want me to get you anything?"
"No, I am fine thanks."
"Right, see you later Sam," Viv said as she bent down and kissed Danny on the cheek. "See you later, sweetie."
Sam sat down next to Danny and watched Viv's retreating form, and then she turned her attention to Danny. "I guess your debts to me are wiped clean. Anyway, I am going to shut up now and not disturb you."
Still holding Danny's hand in hers, she took a book out and started to read. Sam didn't know how long she had been reading, or trying to read before she felt his hand move. She quickly turned to see an awake Danny. "Hey there."
Danny looked at Sam through sleep hazed eyes, "Sam?"
Sam smiled as she stroked Danny's forehead, "Yeah Danny it's me. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," Danny said quickly taking a breath as he tried to control the pain. He looked away from Sam, she so beautiful and intelligent why would she be here? Then he remembered she was under the false assumption that he was a hero. Because of his weakness, he hadn't told Viv that he wasn't a hero, that he has deserved the torture, because he basically killed his brother. He was dangerous to be around, anyone that came in contact with him died. He didn't want Sam to die as well; he had to push her away for her own safety. He would tell her how he had caused his parents deaths, and then she would understand. He loved her, but like with Viv, he didn't want her to live a lie. "Sam you don't want to be around me. I deserved everything I got. It was my fault my brother died and it was my fault my parents died. I don't want you to die as well because of me!"
"Danny what are you talking about?" Sam said
"My parents died because of me. If I had just shut up and let them argue they would still be alive, so would Raphi. You don't want to be around me Sam. You're too good a person to hang around me. I love you Sam, but I don't want to put you in danger because of me." Danny said as he tried to persuade Sam to leave.
What Danny was saying shocked Sam to the core. How could he think that he killed his family? Even worse, how could he think he deserved everything he got? "Danny!" She said as sat on the bed and looked at him. "No one deserved what happened to you, least of all you. You didn't kill your parents or Raphi. And the whole time you were missingwell they were the worst three weeks of my life. I want to be with you, not because someone is forcing me, but because you're the best friend I have ever had. You have saved my life on countless occasions."
"Sam you don't understand. I killed my parents," Danny paused and tried to control the flashbacks he got when he thought of the crash. "My mother was killed instantly. But my father was alive for while. He blamed me. He told me that I killed everyone around me. His final words were, `It's your fault Danny. You killed your mother. I hope you're proud."
Sam felt tears running down her face. She knew Danny's parents died when he was a kid. But this... How, she thought, how could you blame an 11 year child for the dead of his mother when you were driving? She thought of what Danny said how his father blamed him after the crash; did that mean he had been trapped in the car? "Danny it wasn't your fault. You were a kid. There was nothing you do."
"Then why did my father blame me, Sam. Why?"
"Because he was scared, Danny, he was scared. Were you trapped in the car?" Sam said in the gentlest voice possible.
"Yes, for about" Danny took another deep breath and closed his eyes. Why couldn't he stop the flashbacks? He felt Sam's hand on his shoulder and tried to pull back. He didn't deserve her sympathy. He didn't deserve her concern. "I was trapped in there for about 5 hours. My father died after 4 hours."
"Oh Danny!" Sam said. She wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to be ok, but once she tried to make physical contact to comfort him, he pulled back. She felt more tears fall down her face, as she thought of an 11 year old Danny Taylor trapped in a car with his parents bodies, after his father had blamed the death of his mother on him.
"Sam, don't cry for me. Shed your tears for something worth while, not for me." Danny said as he wiped Sam's tears away with his thumb.
"Danny you are the kindness, most considerate person I have ever met. If anyone is worthy of my compassion, it's you. You have always been there for me. Remember the time, when I first started at the FBI and my car broke down. It was four o' clock in the morning and pouring down rain and I called you. I didn't realise the time, but you drove out to the middle of nowhere and picked me up. You took me home, cooked me a hot meal and sorted out my car. Danny you're the best person I have ever met," Sam said in-between tears.
"I am sorry, Sam I am really am." Danny felt his eyes droop; damn, he thought, why was he so weak? Why couldn't he stay awake? But at least he told Sam why he was worthless. He felt so guilty that he had reduced Sam to tears, but it was better this way. She would leave him alone and be safe.
Sam watched and saw fatigue sweep over Danny; she knew she had to persuade him that he was great, that he didn't kill his family, that he hadn't deserved the torture. But she also knew that it would take more that a 5 minute conversation and Danny was tired he needed to rest. "Danny rest ok, just shut your eyes and rest."
He heard Sam's comforting words, he didn't deserve them but he was too tired to argue. He shut his eyes as slipped into a not so peaceful slumber.
Danny sat up and listened; slowly he swung his legs over the side of the bed and listened again. When he was sure he couldn't hear anyone coming, he started to pull the IV line out of his hand. This was his chance to leave them; at least he had told Sam why he was worthless, why he was a danger to them. So once they found out he had discharged himself, they would understand and not worry.
Martin felt as though he was rooted to the spot as he watched the scene in front of him unfold. Forcing his body to move, he quickly crossed the room and grabbed Danny's hand. "Danny!" But Danny didn't look up, or give Martin any sign that he had heard. "Danny!" He repeated as he tried to get a reaction.
Danny slowly looked at whatever had stopped him from pulling out the IV line. "Martin, leave me alone."
At last, Martin thought, at last he had gotten a reaction. "Danny, leave it," he said looking at Danny, noticing that Danny quickly looked away. "Danny, are you alright?" But got no response, apart from Danny staring at the corner of the room, as if there was something of immense importance there. He looked at the corner and found nothing. It was then Martin realised he was gradually taking more and more of Danny's weight. "Hey, man just lean back ok."
Danny buried his face in the pillows. He felt so embarrassed. He had been caught trying to leave and then he had virtually collapsed. Was it possible to endure anymore humiliation? He mumbled an apology to the pillow.
"What for, man?" Martin replied.
"You know, for being a jerk, screwing up, everything," Danny said, still to the pillow as he was unable to face anyone these days. He couldn't look anyone in the eyes anymore, due to the fear that they would see the true `Danny Taylor', a weak person who had given up and nearly let millions die.
Martin looked at Danny, sure he had been a bit of jerk when he first started, but in all honesty, if he had been in Danny's shoes he probably would have done the same. When people in the office had been discussing Danny's escape and how they could never have done it, Martin felt proud like the rest of the team to say `yeah and he's my friend'. So he told Danny all of this.
"Martin can you not tell Jack or anyone else about this?"
"About what?" Martin replied
"You know, me trying to leave and everything."
"Sorry man. I have no idea what you're talking about; I have a really bad memory." Martin said
Sensing that Danny probably didn't want to talk about anything about how he was or what happened, he changed the subject. "So anyway I picked up your car. It's beautiful. I feel inclined to sell my SUV, 'cause your car is a serious chick magnet."
"I told you so. Your car is practical but my car is fast, powerful, sexy " Danny stopped, "Hey Martin thanks for picking her up. I bet she's got a flat battery."
"No she doesn't I ran the engine everyday for a few minutes. Its not as good as a drive, but it keeps the battery turning over." Martin said as, he and Danny continued talking about cars.
As Jack entered Danny's room, he paused. This was the moment he was dreading. The moment that he would have to tell his agent that his torturer had been freed and had been placed in the witness protection program. This was so unfair; Molotov should die for what he did to Danny. Jack ran his hand through his hair as he tried to think of how he was going to break this latest piece of information to Danny. He already had held it for long enough. He had chickened out a few times, but this had to end now. "Hey, Danny, the doctor said you could be released in a week and you will be back at work soon."
"Jack, you and the team would be better off without me. You guys are brilliant and strong, you don't need a screw up like me. All I will do is bring OPR investigations each time I screw up, which is most days."
Jack knew Molotov had come close to breaking Danny, but he was unsure how close. It had become apparent over the past week that it had been very close. "Danny what are you talking about? I need you on my team. Sure, you make mistakes, but I hate to break it to you, you're human. You will make mistakes. I screw up, so does Sam, Martin, Viv and every other human being on this planet! And the small mistakes you make are more than made up for by the rest of your work. Danny, I need you on my team!"
"But Jack, I am too weak."
Jack knew Danny was referring to his mental state, but chose to ignore it. "Well a collapsed lung and blood loss tends to do that to you," Jack paused. He had to tell Danny now. The longer he left it, the worse it would be. "Danny I have to tell you something. It's going to be hard."
Danny quickly glanced up at Jack. This is where he tells me that I have lost my job, he thought.
"It's about Molotov." He paused as he watched Danny reaction, but saw none so he continued. "The NSC deemed a person called Alan `Dropshot' Hough to be a huge threat to international security, so in order to get to Dropshot, they had to they had to give Molotov a deal. He's in the witness protection program." He waited for a reaction.
Danny felt numb; he didn't know what to do. "Figured that, Molotov always seemed to be the second in command, while Dropshot always seemed to be the leader. The NSC was right, Molotov had some humanity, and Dropshot had none."
Jack looked at Danny in disbelief. He had no idea how Danny would react to the new but this wasn't one. He should be yelling it was unfair or crying or well having some form of reaction to the news. "You met Dropshot? Jack asked
"Yeah, a couple of times. He was a complete psycho, but hey what I am going to do about?"
Danny was taking the news so calmly it scared him. Molotov and Dropshot did more damage than Jack had thought.
Danny heard a knock on the door and saw Rick Freedman entered. He knew the guy fairly well, but couldn't understand why he would visit him in hospital, unless like everyone else he felt obliged. "Hey Rick, is there anything I can help you with?"
Rick walked in and sat next to Danny. He didn't want to do this but the NSC monkeys wanted a full report. Well Rick thought he would give them a semi full report, Danny's part making it a `semi full report'. Didn't they understand the hell Danny had been through. No, of course they didn't. Once Danny was ok then and only then would the NSC receive a full report. He also valued his life. "Hey, look I am really sorry Danny, but I have to ask you a couple of questions about what happened. Seriously if I had a choice in the matter this wouldn't be happening, but the bastards at the NSC want it."
"I understand Rick. Seriously, don't worry about it," Danny said as he tried to pull himself together to answer Rick's questions. "Can I ask why you are questioning me?"
Rick winced at Danny's question, questioning sounded too much like Danny was a suspect. "Van Doran took Jack and everyone off your case, and assigned it to my team."
"If you feel tired, or don't feel you can answer some of the questions, please tell me. Please Danny or your team will kill me. Do you want to start; it will be only a couple of questions." Rick said looking at Danny in concern
"I'm fine" Danny said looking down.
Rick looked at Danny, you're anything but fine, he thought. But you will be if your team has anything to do with it. Rick thought his team was close but this was nothing compared to Jack's team. Danny's disappearance had, if possible, brought them closer together. He had seen all of them stand up to the top dogs of the FBI, CIA you name it, to protect Danny. Rick pulled himself out of his thoughts to start the questions. "Can you remember what time you left the FBI building on the 27th October?"
"I guess it was about 9-10 is. I left with Sam. Then we went to a Thai place," Danny answered, thinking hard as he tried to remember the last time he felt vaguely happy.
"Ok, what time did you and Sam separate?" Rick asked as he watched Danny carefully, he didn't want to anymore further damage.
"I don't know maybe 11. Then I got on the subway to my apartment. "Danny thought, "I do remember feeling tired once I got to my apartment. But not a normal tiredness, it was as if I had been drugged."
Rick raised an eyebrow, this is what they had suspected that Danny had been drugged, but it was interesting that Danny had felt the affects of the drug before the apartment. The question was where and how was he drugged. "Apart from the Thai place did you stop anywhere on the way back?"
"Not that I can remember. I'm sorry. I'm not been much help." Danny said
"No Danny you have been a great help. That's it for now, but if you think of anything, anything at all, call me." Rick said as he got up, "It's good to have you back."
Danny watched Rick begin to leave, he had to know. "Rick what was the number?"
Rick turned and looked at Danny in confusion. "What number?" He asked.
"My case number." Danny replied.
"7A NY 34739" Rick replied without hesitation, he was unlikely to forget that number in a hurry. He didn't ask why for he knew if it been him, he would of wanted to know. "Get some rest Danny, and I will see you later."
Danny watched Rick leave and unconsciously rubbed his arm where the tattoo had been. Five numbers he thought, five numbers that would mean nothing to one person, but were destroying him.
An agent Martin knew by face but not by name approached him whilst he was getting a much needed coffee refill, and handed him a file.
"I think you will find this useful," the agent said, and walked away before Martin had a chance to respond.
Putting down his coffee mug, Martin opened the file. He quickly looked at the contents of the file. As the information slowly registered, he found himself headed for the bullpen at a near run, his coffee mug long since forgotten. As he approached the team, he tried to appear as calm as possible, so not to draw any unnecessary attention. "Guys, I think you should see this" Martin said softly indicating to the file, "but not here."
Jack glanced at the file and then at Martin's determined face. "My office, now," Jack said summoning his team to his office. As he walked towards his office he tried to think what file would have got Martin so excited yet nervous at the same time. He had an idea, but quickly dismissed it. No he thought that idea would be a dream come true. When they got into the office, it was Sam who spoke first.
"Martin, what's the matter? What's in that file?" She asked indicating to the file that Martin held tightly in his hand.
"Well I was getting coffee and-"
"The short version, please." Viv said
"It's Molotov's new identity, location, well everything really." Martin said excitedly. He had wanted two things to happen this month. Firstly to find Danny alive, which had barely happened and secondly to find the people that had tortured his friend. With this information, the second thing could now happen. The question was, once they had found Molotov now James Clayton what would they do to him?
Jack smiled, so his dream was coming true. Because no one, just no one would get away with what they did to Danny. "Not that I care, but how did you get this information?"
"Well as I was saying, I was getting coffee and this agent who I have seen around but for the life of me can't remember his name. Anyway he came up to me and handed over this file, telling me that I may find it useful. Before I could question him, he was gone." Martin said quickly.
"I guess the question is now, what do we do with this information?"
Everyone in that room looked down, they all knew what they wanted to do but was it the right thing? They all knew they wanted tear Molotov limb from limb, but was it the right thing for Danny? They all wanted Molotov to die in the most painful way possible but was it the right thing for Danny?
Martin spoke up, "I guess the only person, who has the right to decide is Danny. It was his hell, his torment; he should be the one who should decide how to end it."
"You're right." Jack said, thinking what they were all thinking. That Danny wasn't dealing with it now, this could be the issue that would either break him or start to heal him. "I'll go talk to him now." Jack picked up his coat and quickly left the office.
Jack walked towards Danny's room pausing before he entered. If it was possible Danny looked worse than before; he looked thinner, paler, he had large dark circles under his eyes. He knew Danny wasn't sleeping or eating. He barely drank. They needed to get through to him, to get Danny to believe that he didn't deserve the torture, that it wasn't his fault before it destroyed him. "Morning," Jack said as he entered the room.
Danny looked up and saw Jack. "Morning," he responded and he tried to give Jack a small smile. He knew the team and everyone was making a conscious effort to see him, but he didn't understand why. He had deserved every bad thing that happened in his life, especially the torture he had endured.
"How are you feeling?" Jack said almost filching at the sight of Danny's haunted eyes. Gone was the man with a twinkle in his eyes and warm easy smile. The two characters were so different it was as if they had taken Danny Taylor and replaced him with the person sitting in front of him. He wanted to yell at Danny, tell him that he wasn't `fine', that it was ok to ask for help, but that would push Danny farther into his shell.
"I'm fine" Danny said unenthusiastically, quickly looking away from Jack's eyes. He couldn't look into Jack's eyes or anyone else's for that matter. They say the eyes are the window into a person's soul, if anyone looked into his eyes, they would see the weakness, and they would see the cracks.
"Danny it's not your fault," Jack said as he sat on the bed facing Danny. He knew he had he get through to him, knowing that he'd snap sooner or later. The question was when? The longer Danny kept his emotions bottled up, the worse the break down would be. "It's not your fault." Jack watched as Danny tried to look away, as he tried to keep his armour intact. "You didn't deserve it Danny."
What was Jack trying to do, Danny thought, as he fought to try and keep it together? But he slowly felt himself cracking, as if his emotions were held behind a dam which was slowly disintegrating. He heard Jack repeating that it wasn't his fault and that he hadn't deserved the torture. He didn't know how much longer he could keep it together, as he felt a lone tear streak down his face. He felt Jack put his hand on his shoulder and heard him continue to repeat that it wasn't his fault and that he hadn't deserved it. Danny felt the dam break; he lost what he believed was his last grasp of dignity. He felt tears freely fall down his face as he let the events of the last month catch up. He felt Jack pulling him closer. He felt his body shake as he rested his head on Jack's shoulder.
Jack watched as he saw Danny's armour finally cracking, as the long over due tears fell. Jack expected to feel resistances as he pulled Danny closer but was surprised to find none. "It's ok Danny, its ok" Jack said as he felt Danny's head rest against his shoulder, "That's right, Danny, let it all out."
Danny felt as though he had lost control of his body as well as his emotions as he continued to sob into Jack's shoulder. He felt Jack continue to hold him and tell him that everything was going to be okay. He didn't know why he had started to cry or when he would stop, but it felt good. It felt good to release some of his tightly guarded emotions. But he knew things would be different now now that he had broken down in front of his boss. How could they go back to what they were?
Jack continued to hold Danny as he let the long overdue emotions out. He tried to reassure Danny that everything was going to be alright and that he hadn't deserved anything that had happened. Jack just hoped that some of what he was saying was sinking in. If just half of what he said sank in, then he would feel vaguely happy. Danny was part of his team, his family. He felt on the verge of tears himself, but he couldn't cry now. He had to stay strong for Danny. Danny had been amazing. He knew from the moment he had met him that he possessed an incredible inner strength that made him stand apart. That fact that some animal had damn near killed, damn near broken Danny, made him sick, made him He could not think of the words that could describe his anger. He finally felt Danny pull back.
"I'm sorry Jack. I don't know what happened," Danny said as he tried to gain control of his emotions.
Jack closed his eyes for a moment and hoped he wasn't back to square one. "Danny what are you sorry for? You have nothing to be sorry for. You were are amazing. I don't how you escaped or how you survived but I couldn't have done it," Jack replied as he tried to reassure Danny.
"But Jack, I-, I," Danny said as struggled to come up with words that would make Jack understand.
"I don't want to hear you say any more negative comments about yourself. Understand?" Jack said as he put his hand on Danny's chin so he could look Danny in the eye.
"Okay. I will try," Danny said as he tried to move his head so he wouldn't be in Jack's line of sight.
"Good," Jack closed his eyes as he remembered the purpose of his visit. "I have some information about- about Molotov."
At the mention of the name Molotov, Danny felt his body tense up as well as his heart rate and breathing increase, "What?" he managed to say in a shaky voice.
"Relax, Danny. It's ok. Just relax," Jack said as he laid his hand on Danny's arm, "its ok, we just have some information on-" Jack paused as he remembered his agent's reaction the last time he mentioned Molotov, "we have some information on that animal's new identity" Danny took a sharp breath. Would that mean that he would have to face Molotov again? Because he really didn't think he had the strength. "Okay," he managed to say.
"Whatever you want to do is fine with me, and I will back you 100 percent."
"I don't know, Jack. I really don't know." Danny took another deep breath. "I meanis weird that I don't know? That if-" Danny felt himself shake as he was about to mention Molotov's name, but he had to because if he didn't, it would just prove to Molotov that he was weak and worthless. "Jack, if Molotov walked through this door right now I have no idea what I would do. I don't know if I would beat the crap out of him, or just sit here, or I would curl into a ball and cry. Is that wrong, Jack? Is it?"
"No. It's not wrong. The only reason I want to beat the hell out of him is that he damn near kill you. You're part of my team, part of my family. But if I was in your position, well firstly I wouldn't be alive. But if I was, I don't think I would know what to do," Jack said still watching Danny. He had said that he would back Danny 100 percent, which he would, but he would be so tempted to go back and kill Molotov himself. But that would be selfish, because this was Danny's war and going against Danny's wishes would be beyond wrong. "You know if you want to talk to anyone day or night, we're here for you, and all you need to do is to pick up the phone."
"Thanks, Jack" Danny said, still with a little emotion in his voice. He couldn't wait until he was released from hospital, not because he had a small fear of all things medical well that was part of the reason but so he could deal with his hell in private. Disrupting their tense silence, Jack nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard his cell phone ring. "Malone" he answered. "Ok... right... I will see you in 20 minutes right bye". Jack ended the call and turned to Danny.
"New case?" Danny asked, relieved that he could change the subject.
"Yeah, a 30 year old, married male, works for some top law firm. He hasn't been seen or heard from in 2 days," Jack replied
"He probably felt trapped and took off for a couple of days," Danny said on instinct.
"Probably, but when he's the son of the owner of said top law firm, us mere mortals jump. Anyway I might drop by later for an opinion on why Mr David Newport is missing or, more than likely, took off." Jack turned to leave but stopped. He had to make sure Danny was going to be ok. "Danny, remember what I said. Okay? Remember."
"Will do," Danny replied, half lying with a clenched jaw as more tears threatened to fall. He watched Jack leave and started to think about what Jack had said. Maybe he hadn't deserved it, maybe it wasn't his fault, and maybe he wasn't worthless. Whatever he had said to the team when he tried to make them believe he was worthless and he had deserved it, it hadn't stopped them from visiting; if anything, it had increased the visits. Feeling fatigue take over, he closed his eyes and fell into a nightmare-plagued slumber.
Sam pulled up outside Danny's apartment and hoped that the elevator was working because Danny wouldn't have the strength to walk up five flights of stairs without feeling exhausted she felt tired when she did and she was fully fit. She glanced across at the sleeping Danny, hoping to see that he was relaxed but from his twisted features she could tell he was quite the opposite. She slowly and gently placed her hand on his shoulder. "Hey," she said flinching as he jumped back. "Hey Danny, it's me Sam, we're here."
Danny felt a hand on his shoulder and flinched. He quickly opened his eyes to see Sam and looked out the window to see they were outside his apartment. "What are we doing here?" he questioned Sam in confusion.
Sam eyed Danny with concern. "We're at your apartment," she replied.
"But Sam, the rent expired. I haven't been here for five weeks and the rent was due three weeks ago," he responded still confused.
"Danny," Sam replied. "We paid your rent. We all had this undying belief that you were still alive, so we paid it so you would have somewhere to come back to."
"Oh," Danny said shocked by their compassion. "Thanks, what do I owe you?"
"You don't owe us anything; call it a welcome home present," Sam said as watched Danny slowly get out of her car.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said as he tried to bite off waves of dizziness as he slowly made inside his apartment block.
"No problem," Sam said as she held the elevator for both of them. Thank god it is working, Sam thought as she pressed the button for the fifth floor. It was a slow and silent ride up to the fifth floor, but finally the elevator shuddered to a halt on the fifth floor. They both stepped out and made their way down to Danny's apartment. Sam opened the door and watched Danny step in hesitantly, before collapsing on the couch. She crossed the small room and busied herself with making coffee leaving Danny for a couple of minutes to be alone with his emotions and let his surroundings sink in.
"Good to be back?" Sam asked as she pushed a mug of coffee into Danny's hands and sat down next to him.
"Yeah," Danny said distracted by his thoughts.
"You ok?" Sam asked in concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine just thinking," he replied as stared into his coffee mug.
"What about?" Sam asked as she tried to get Danny to open up a bit more.
"Just things," Danny replied as he continued to stare into his coffee mug. In truth, he didn't know if he was happy to be back at his apartment. He was happy to have been released from hospital, but this was where his hell had begun.
"You know you can talk to me about it, Danny. I won't judge you," Sam said as she tried to persuade Danny to open up to her.
"When I was in hospital they sent this psychologist around, and I couldn't talk to him. I don't know why, but I couldn't. He diagnosed me with something; I don't what it was. I wasn't listening. It was a long complicated medical term, but I just wasn't listening," Danny said as he talked into this coffee mug. "The thing isI don't remember all of what happened. I remember walking into my apartment and the next thing I remember was waking up in that place."
Sensing Danny just wanted to talk, Sam kept quiet but moved her hand so it was covering his--a simple act that would tell Danny that he wasn't alone and that she was there for him. She waited for him to continue.
Danny felt Sam move her hand to cover his; he felt this gave him the strength to continue to tell Sam what he remembered. "T-they burned a number on to my arm," he said stammering, "53459, that was my name." Danny stopped and unconsciously touched the still healing wound. Sam took a couple of deep breaths to control her emotions; she looked at Danny's shaking hands, and took his coffee mug placing it on the table. Not moving her hand from Danny's, she put her arm around Danny. Who the hell could of done this to Danny? No one deserved this, especially not Danny.
Danny felt Sam gestures comforting and enabled him to continue. "They kicked me and beat me with iron pipes. I have forgotten how many times they either held a gun to my head or injected me with some drug. It was fun for them to give me electric shocks," Danny said near in tears as he remembered the torture methods that Molotov and Dropshot had inflicted on him. He took a couple of trembling breaths before he continued. "Then they drained some of my blood. I was in and out of it for days. T-hey, t-hey then told me Raphi was dead and I was the prime suspect and that you guys wouldn't want me anymore. I lost it. I gave up."
Sam bit back tears. It was worse than she imagined. She found this so distressing, but she continued with her comforting gestures so Danny could finish telling her about his days in hell.
"I can't really remember much after that, until Molotov threatened me with a mutated Ebola virus. I was so scared, but knew I had to escape. I remember walking and getting into the truck and driving. I don't remember anything else; I didn't remember the conversation in the office, until Jack told me what happened," Danny paused, "Sam, Jack told me about the information about Molotov. I don't know what to do. He also told me I still have a place on the team, but what happens if this shrink diagnosed me with a condition that won't allow me to work for the FBI? If that happens, Sam, I will have nothing; I just don't know what I would do."
Sam couldn't hold it back any longer. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him towards her. "Oh Danny!" she said as she felt tears fall down her face.
Danny felt Sam pull him towards her; he felt her head rest against his and her tears soaked into his hair. He felt as though a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He relaxed his tense body into Sam's arms and let the tears fall.
"I'm not a shrink, but maybe you just didn't trust the hospital shrink. Maybe you needed closure and coming home is part of your closure," Sam said as she stroked Danny's hair. "Don't worry about the FBI shrink thing. Jack will sort it out for you. I don't know what you should do about Molotov, but maybe that is part of your closure."
"But I am scared Sam. I really am."
"I know. I am too. But you're not going to have to do this alone. We will be there for you every step of the way," Sam said as she tightened her grip around Danny.
Danny felt himself slightly smile. He knew what to do now but he was still terrified. He sat up slowly and returned Sam's hug. "Thanks Sam. I now know what I have to do."
Viv stood outside JFK airport with Jack and Sam as they waited for the boys to turn up. She knew that Jack and Martin would look after Danny while they were out there but she needed to make sure. Danny wasn't 100 percent physically or mentally by any stretch of the imagination. She knew that nightmares plagued his sleep, anyone could tell that by just looking at him. "Jack, are you sure we are doing the right thing?" Viv asked questioning him.
"Danny wants to do this and it's Danny's choice," Jack replied.
"Yes I know. But the poor boy barely sleeps or eats. Are you sure this is the right time do this?" Viv asked as she continued to question Jack. She needed to make sure that Danny was going to be ok.
"Viv, Martin and I will look after him. I won't let him push himself. We'll protect him; I promise you Viv. I will protect him," Jack said just as Martin's car pulled up. They watched as the boys stepped out. Jack eyed Danny with concern. Was he really making the right decision? Danny was skinnier than before, paler and had large dark bags under his eyes. Jack wondered when Danny had more that two hours of undisrupted sleep. They walked through the airport, quickly checking in before making their way to the security checkpoint. Viv watched as Jack and Martin made their way through security. She glanced across and quickly grabbed Danny. Pulling a hat from her bag, she put it on his head and hugged him. "You look after yourself Danny and make sure you keep an eye on Jack and Martin," she said and slowly pulled back to look at him.
Danny looked at Viv while pulling off the hat to look at it. He slightly smiled. "You didn't have to, Viv," he said looking down at the Mets hat. "But thanks. It's really great"
"My pleasure," Viv said hugging him again. "You better go; your flight is being called." Viv broke apart again not before kissing him on the cheek. Viv watched as Danny walked through security and out of slight.
"He'll be ok."
Viv turned to see Sam; she had completely forgotten that she was there. "Yeah, I hope so." The two women started walk out of the airport both hoping that this trip would enable Danny to rest his demons.
Jack was concerned since hadn't spoken a word since he had gotten on the plane. He just sat there staring out of the window lost in his thoughts. Jack watched as an attractive blond air stewardess walked down the aisle pushing the lunch trolley. She offered Danny lunch, which he politely declined. The Danny Taylor he knew would have flashed a killer grin and flirted a bit, but not this Danny Taylor. "Danny you're not going to have anything to eat?" he asked. "No, I'm not a great fan of airline food," Danny replied not taking his eyes off the window, a gaze that would continue throughout the flight.
As the plane touched down at Duluth International Airport, Danny continued to stare out the window at the snow covered land. It was somehow tranquil unlike the storm that was raging in his head. He felt someone gently shaking him and his name being called. He turned to see Martin.
Martin looked at Danny staring out the window. He looked so lost. He began to wonder if they were doing the right thing. Was Danny ready for this he questioned himself? Reaching over he gently shook Danny. "Hey. We're here. Let's go." He watched as Danny looked at him with lost eyes, before he grabbed his stuff and started to walk down the aisle. "Hey man, are you alright?" Martin questioned, his concern mounting for his friend.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Danny said as he tried to get his bearings. Walking to the exit, he was met with a bitterly cold wind that felt like it had been blown straight from Siberia. He coughed violently as the icy wind stung his still healing lungs. He grabbed the side of the plane as the world spun wildly. He felt someone take his bag and grab his arm, steadying him.
Martin watched as Danny walked to the exit and stopped as he started to violently cough. He noticed how much the coughing fit took out of his friend as he held on to the side of the plane for support. Martin quickly stepped forward and took his friend's bag and grabbed his arm, trying to prevent Danny from making a head long dive down the steps. "Are you sure you're alright?" Martin asked his concern continuing to grow for his friend.
"I'm fine, Martin," Danny replied wheezing "just a little cold, that's all," as he pulled his coat tighter around his aching body, continuing to curse his weakness.
"Ok then" Martin replied. "You're not going to pass out on me?"
He heard a mumbled reply, as Danny started move off. Martin followed, always staying close behind in case Danny made a dive for the ground. Jack just finished with the rental car company and turned. His brow knitted in concern as he was his two agents approach. Danny was as pale as the snow outside and unsteady on his feet, while Martin was walking just behind Danny as if to catch him if he fell. Jack chose not to bring this matter up now, but would interrogate Martin about it later. While waiting in line, he had called his `contact', who had given him Molotov's rough location and the description of his car.
"Here's the plan--" Jack said walking towards the rental car park, "We can either check in to the hotel now and deal with Molotov tomorrow, or deal with him now." Jack eyed Danny, as he tried to gage a reaction from pale younger agent.
Danny looked at Jack and then at the floor. He knew Jack was waiting for his answer. He wasn't waiting for Martin's but his, but he didn't know what he wanted to do. He was exhausted and could barely keep his eyes open, but if he waited until tomorrow to confront Molotov, then he wasn't sure he could. "Can we do it now?" Danny asked.
"Are you sure?" Jack said eyeing Danny in concern, noticing that he could barely keep his eyes open.
"Ok then," Jack said as he walked towards the rental car. As they all got into the car, Jack pulled out of the parking lot onto Rice Lake Road and followed it south to Molotov's last known location. He quickly glanced across at Danny, who had his head resting against the window and was staring out. He wondered for the hundred time that day, whether or not he was doing the right thing, whether or not Danny was up to this.
After a short drive, they arrived at the banks of Lake Superior Molotov's last known location. Jack and Martin watched as Molotov walked to his car, and pulled off completely unaware of their presence. Molotov took the small lake-side road and drove towards French River. Jack kept his distance as Molotov passed through the small town of French River, and turned onto a dirt road pulling up by a lake-side cabin. Jack often dreamed about this lifestyle a small lake-side cabin. It wasn't fair that Molotov had this handed to him on a platter, after what he had done. He stopped quite a ways back from Molotov and observed him, only taking his eyes off Molotov for a second to glance at Danny who was still staring out of the window.
Danny continued to stare out of the window. He was completely aware of Jack tailing Molotov, but he didn't felt he had the strength to look at him. He tried to think about his actions, when he met Molotov again; should he kill him or Danny felt himself fidget with his gun, as if he was envisioning himself emptying round after round into Molotov's head.
Jack noticed two vans with government plates pull up behind them. He watched as a couple of men in suits stepped out. Jack opened the door and got out identifying himself. "Jack Malone, FBI, New York branch," he said in a soft voice so not to alert Molotov.
The agent looked at Jack before identifying himself as well. "Roy Andrews, FBI Minnesota." Roy looked at Jack again, as he remembered where he had heard the name. "Hey Jack, forget we are here. I don't care what happens to Molotov. We can always make it look like a boating accident."
"How's the guy who got tied up in all of this, who prevented the attack? Isn't he one of yours?" Roy questioned Jack.
"Yes, he's on my team and he's-"Jack paused, "He's fine."
"You must be damn proud to have an agent of that calibre on your team. I would be."
"Yeah, I am proud of him. He's amazing really," Jack said glancing at the car.
Roy watched Jack glance at the car. "He's here? Do you know what he's going to do?" Roy asked Jack.
"Yes he's here, but I have no idea what he's going to do that's up to him," Jack replied.
"Oh right, look we are going to back off and let you guys have your space. But we will still be in range, if things go bad," Roy said as he signalled his agents to back off.
"Thanks," Jack said again, genuinely warmed by the Roy's compassion. As he stepped back into the car, he glanced across at Danny. "Are you ok?" He asked.
"Yeah, I think so," Danny said as Jack's question pulled him deep out of his thoughts.
"Danny you don't have do this, it's not still not too late to walk away," Jack said as he tried to reassure Danny. "No one will think less of you," he added.
"I'm fine, Jack," Danny said staring at his feet. He didn't believe what he had just said so what chance was there of Jack believing him? "Ok, whenever you're ready," Jack said.
Danny took a couple of deep breaths and looked out the window; this was his chance. He just hoped he wasn't going to blow it. He opened the door and stepped out, hearing Martin and Jack do the same. He started to walk towards Molotov, not knowing how. He saw Molotov turn and look at him. He felt his body freeze up in fear. He closed his eyes to try and block the image before him, but this only made his nightmares envelop his daydreams. He opened his eyes again and his nightmares started haunt his reality. He stopped. He didn't think he could go any farther.
Jack watched as Danny stopped, but he hadn't turned back to the car so Jack stood his ground. He stood and waited for Danny continue or to turn back. He could see that Danny was trying to prepare himself for the impending confrontation. He could see Danny blink as though he was checking this wasn't a dream or more accurately a nightmare. Although Jack was waiting, he was as tense as racehorse before a race, just waiting to spring forward into action.
Molotov stopped what he was doing and looked up to see three FBI agents walking towards him, one of which was very familiar. He straightened up and leaned against the cabin wall. He started to taunt the familiar agent hoping to see the spoils of his work. Danny watched as Molotov started to taunt him. He knew it was Molotov's way of breaking him. Trying to succeed in where he had previously failed. Then he felt it, he felt as though something had snapped inside him, and before he knew he was striding towards Molotov. He didn't realise he was there until he felt Molotov's throat in-between his hands. He then looked into Molotov's eyes. Molotov watched as Danny suddenly approached him at a near run. He tried to back up slightly but the wall prevented him. The next thing he knew, Danny had slammed him against the wall and was staring at him with an intensity that scared him. "Kill me then if you are going to kill me," Molotov yelled at Danny, "or are you weaker than I thought you were."
Danny backed off a little and loosened his grip on Molotov. He knew everyone was watching, but did he want to kill Molotov? He thought for a little while and now knew what he had to do.
"Molotov, unlike you, I have class and morals. Why would I want to lower myself to your level? You're not worthy of the poor people that will have to clean up your stinking body. I am not going to kill you, but mark my wordsif you lay a finger on anyone, especially my friends, I will kill you, and it won't be a shot to the head. No Molotov. I will shoot you in the gut and watch you slowly and painfully bleed to death," Danny said as he stared at Molotov. He released his grip from Molotov's neck and turned away.
"Is that all you are going to do? Threaten me? It wasn't even a good threat, " Molotov yelled after Danny, "come on you useless piece of crap, come on. Kill me."
Danny carried on walking as felt his façade cracking. He had some how held it together in front of Molotov and the other agents but he didn't how much longer he could keep it together. He wanted to run back and shoot Molotov in the knee caps, but then he would be no better than Molotov. He quickened his pace as he felt he was about to throw up, turning he leaned against one the vans. He felt a hand on his shoulder and someone pushing a bottle of water into his hand. He looked up to see Martin looking around.
"Don't worry man. They are all dealing with Molotov," Martin said as continued to look around. Although there was nothing embarrassing about throwing up after Danny had confronted Molotov he was sure no one else could have handled themselves like Danny just had he knew Danny would feel embarrassed if anyone saw him like this.
"Thanks," Danny replied as he uncapped the bottle and took a long swig. He tightened his grip around the bottle and tensed up his arm, so Martin wouldn't see the tremors.
"Are you alright?" Martin asked in concern.
"I'm fine, thanks"
"Are you sure? I mean you didn't listen to a word Molotov said, did you?" Martin said still looking at Danny in concern. He was worried, that all of their work over the last couple weeks had come undone by a couple of words. That Danny would go back to the state in which he believed that he had deserved everything.
"I know you and Jack and everyone wanted me to kill him, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that. I'm sorry."
"SureJack or I would have killed Molotov, but then we don't have that inner strength that you have. Man, I have no idea where you get the strength from but can I have some of it?" Martin asked, still watching Danny as he tried to gauge a reaction. "Strength?" Danny said half smiling, "Strength?"
"Yes. Strength, Dannysomething you have a lot of," Martin paused, "It takes a strong person to confront their tormenter, a stronger person still to kill them, but what you did Danny was amazing. I don't know how you did it how you refused to lower yourself to his level. That that was incredible. That's why you are stronger that any of us"
"Maybe," Danny said, the truth be told he felt better than he had in ages. It was as though the black cloud that had been following him was being broken apart by rays of sunlight. "Maybe." "No maybes about it man. You should be proud of how you handled yourself out there. Jack and I sure are," Martin said as he leaned against the van next to Danny. "So are you alright?" Danny felt himself smile, "I'm fine, Martin. I promise you--I am fine."
Martin watched Danny as he said those words that he had repeated countless times over the last few weeks, but this time there was something different about those words. He watched as Danny smiled. It was a true Danny Taylor grin and with that simple action he knew that Danny Taylor was back.