November 27, 2002
"Where the hell is Fitzgerald?" Jack asked, looking around the table at his team. "And is it me, or do I seem to ask that question a lot?"
"He called in about half an hour ago," Vivian replied. "He said he was going to be late; his truck wouldnt start."
"Wasnt he late last week because it was in the shop getting fixed?" Samantha asked.
Jack just looked at his watch again before beginning the meeting. "Lets talk about our budget report for the month," he began
Jack looked at the clock on his desk again. He was just about to call Vivian when she appeared at the door.
"Ive already tried calling him again," she spoke up. "Hes not answering his apartment phone, cell or pages. Danny and Samantha said theyd stop by his place after they talk to the Fullers."
"Good. And make sure Sam talks to Mr. Fuller. He and Danny didnt hit it off too good yesterday."
"I will," Vivian replied before leaving the office.
"Dammit, Martin," Jack cursed quietly.
"This is the place?"
"Yeah, his apartment building is just over there," Danny replied, pointing to a tall building on the right. "And look, theres his truck, with the hood up."
The two agents exited the car and headed up the sidewalk toward Martins truck. The hood was up, but it didnt seem like anyone had been working on it. There were no tools nearby and it didnt seem to have any parts out of place. Danny looked inside the cab, but didnt see anything out of place there, either.
"Lets head up to the apartment. Maybe hes just taking a break," Samantha suggested.
Danny nodded and followed her. Once in the building, he led the way, heading to apartment 312. He knocked on the door several times, but got no answer. Samantha got out her cell phone and dialed Martins number. From outside, they heard the phone ringing, but no one answered. Danny and Samantha looked at each other as frustration and curiosity about their teammates whereabouts came to mind.
Danny knocked one more time and tried the door handle. The door was locked.
"Think something could have happened to him? Slipped in the shower maybe?" Samantha asked.
"Never know," Danny replied, agreeing with her unspoken suggestion. "Ill get the super."
A few minutes later, he returned with the building superintendent. Hed told the man that Martin was very late coming to work and that they had reason to be concerned. Flashing his FBI identification helped to persuade the man, too.
After jingling through the keys to find the right one, the man unlocked Martins door and opened it wide.
"Shit," Samantha whispered.
"Call Jack," Danny ordered, pulling out his gun and carefully stepping into the apartment.
"Shouldnt you call the police or something?" the building super asked.
"We are the police," Danny reminded him. He put his hand up to keep the man from following him into the apartment. "I need you to stay outside, please."
Danny stepped around the large bloodstain on the carpet and headed toward the kitchen. On the floor he found the body of a man in his twenties. Hed been stabbed with a kitchen knife. Danny looked back toward the entrance and saw that Samantha was now inside as well. He motioned her to him and pointed out the body. Then, they headed down the hallway, toward the bedrooms and bathroom, following a blood trail.
The bathroom was empty. No blood was seen on the floor; it looked like no one had gone in there. The same was said for what appeared to be Martins guestroom. The door had been open and nothing in it seemed disturbed. Then they approached the master bedroom. The door was ajar and there was a bloody handprint on it, above the doorknob.
Checking first with Samantha to make sure she was ready, Danny carefully and slowly pushed open the door. They entered the room quickly, their guns and eyes sweeping the room for danger. It was empty.
They double-checked the entire apartment, looking under the beds, in the closets, in the cabinets, even. There was no sign of Martin.
Four hours missing.About an hour later, Jack and Vivian appeared out in the hallway.
"Weve already started calling the hospitals," Samantha began. "It looks like a burglary or something and Martin defended himself and got hurt."
"If that was the case, why didnt he call someone?" Vivian asked.
"We sure its Martins blood in the hall and bedroom? Not the dead mans?" Jack asked.
"Right now, were not sure of anything," Danny replied. "Well make sure the evidence techs get blood samples and fingerprints from every room."
"Any ID on the dead guy yet?" Jack asked.
"Trevor Parrish," Samantha answered. "Or Ryan Goldberg. Or Steven Simpson. Or "
"Multiple IDs, huh?" Vivian asked and got nodded responses from Danny and Samantha.
"What about Martins truck?" Jack asked suddenly.
"Looked fine when Samantha and I got here," Danny replied. "Well have it impounded and checked, though."
"Good," Jack replied. Then he put on a pair of latex gloves and entered the apartment.
Six hours missing.Vivian stood outside Jacks office, waiting for her boss to finish on the phone. It was one of those phone calls, she knew, that made her glad that she wasnt the boss. Jack was talking with Martins father.
"Yeah, Vic," she heard Jack say. "Ill keep you up to date. You coming to town? Okay, yeah. Yeah, Ive got it. Talk to you soon."
"Howd he take it?"
"I dont know," Jack replied with a sigh. "Vics always been one of those guys that kept his emotions in check. Never let anyone in."
"Even Martin?" Vivian asked.
Jack didnt answer her, but his silence gave Vivian a pretty good idea of what the answer to the question was.
"He coming in?" she asked.
Jack shook his head. "Said to keep him informed; fax him any info we get."
"Sounds real concerned," Vivian muttered as she headed back towards her desk.
Ten hours missing.The team watched as Vivian set up the flow chart.
"Weve got Martin calling the main desk at eight fifteen, telling us that hed be late," she began.
"Have you checked the tape? Are we sure that it was Martin that called?" Jack asked.
"Samantha and I listened to it a few times. Its him," she replied. "But listen for yourself. Something was definitely wrong," she added.
She motioned to a cassette player on the table and Samantha pushed the play button."This is Agent Marty Fitzgerald. Can you notify Senior Agent Malone that Ill be late coming in this morning? My car wont start."
"Marty?" Danny questioned. "He hates that name."
"And he called his beloved truck a car," Vivian added.
"Someone put him up to the phone call," Jack deduced. "Have we gotten anything back from the labs yet?"
"Mechanic down in motor pool said that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the truck, as we suspected," Danny replied. "Just a ruse to try and put us off track."
"Yeah, but by whom?" Vivian put in. "Looks like there were at least three different people bleeding in the apartment," she continued. "One belonging to our dead man, who was identified by his fingerprints as Ryan Goldberg. He has a rap sheet a mile long for petty offenses larceny, dis con, harassment conspiracy to kidnapping is out of his usual league."
"And he paid the price," Danny commented. "Think it was Fitz that took him out?"
"Prints on the knife say it was," Vivian replied. "Blood matching Martins type was found on the knife, as well. And it was his bloodied hand print, with his blood, on the bedroom door."
"So whos our third man?"
"Woman," Samantha put in. "Footprints, hair fibers and blood work say the third person was a woman."
"Okay, so Fitz was able to take out the guy, why couldnt he take out the girl?"
"There was a lot of his blood around," Vivian reminded him grimly. "He might not have had the strength left."
"But surely someone would have noticed a woman bringing an injured man out of the building, right?" Samantha questioned.
"Most of the people in the building werent even home," Jack reasoned. "According to the super, most of them are single working people, like Martin. Out of the house on their morning commutes by six or seven in the morning."
"Including Martin," Danny said. "He told me that he usually leaves around seven to get here."
"So they must have been there to keep him from leaving. But why wait until eight fifteen to call in?" Samantha asked.
"Good question," Vivian replied.
"Tara," Danny answered. "Shes takes over the switchboard at eight. Shes a hell of a lot more reliable than the night lady, Janet."
"Youre right," Vivian agreed, nodding her head. "Cant tell you how many times Janets forgotten to deliver my messages."
"Okay," Jack began, rising from the table and approaching the dry erase board. "Sometime before seven, Goldberg and the woman get to Martins apartment." As he spoke, he made notes on the board. "They put the hood up on Martins truck, to make it look like he was having problems with it. They make him call in."
"He probably tried to stall them," Danny spoke up. "Told them that the office didnt open until eight, so he had to wait until then to call."
"Probably," Jack agreed. "Then they told him what to say."
"No," Vivian disagreed. "Why call in late when he could have called in sick, for the whole day. No one would have thought twice if he didnt show up."
"That was his idea, then," Jack said, nodding. "Then, they had to put the hood up on the truck, to make it look legit, if we did show up."
"And then things went downhill," Samantha said. "Maybe while the woman was out with the truck, Martin made his move on Goldberg."
"And then, knowing the woman was returning, tried to hide in the bedroom?"
"But why wouldnt he call for help? Or even leave the apartment?" Danny questioned. "There had to be another person there, too."
"I think youre right," Jack agreed. "Okay, so weve got some of the hows, whats and whens. Now we just need the whos and whys."
Twelve hours missing."Sam?"
"Ive started going over Martins case histories," she began, opening one of the files in front of her. "Hes got about two dozen or so convictions in the last year alone, most of them for various types of fraud. White-collar crimes, most of the bad guys doing easy time in fed pens."
"I went through his apartment again. Found his address book," he said, holding up a little black book. "Ill start calling people, see if any of his friends know anything."
Danny shook his head. "Nothing out of the ordinary. Didnt look like anything was searched through or messed up, other than the obvious."
"All his bank accounts are stable no recent increases or decreases, no activity since his payroll direct deposit two days ago. Hes got a good line of credit, no outstanding debts."
"Any other thoughts?"
"Id have to go with the revenge theory," Danny replied. "Someone he sent up wants him to pay."
"His dad have anything to say?" Samantha asked. "Any possibility its about him, not Martin?"
"When I talked to him, he hadnt any theories," Jack replied. "No ransoms or threats yet to his office or home."
He was about to go on when another agent entered the office and handed him a file folder. As Jack opened the folder, the agent pointed something out on one of the pages inside. He thanked the agent and dismissed him before looking back at his three teammates.
"Looks like weve got our third suspect," he announced. "Edward J. Banks." As expected, he got blank looks from the other three. "I never heard of him, either," he added. "Techs pulled his print off the cordless phone. And looking at his criminal history, it looks like Martin might be familiar with him. He just got out of prison for insurance fraud."
Samantha rummaged through the file folders in front of her. Near the bottom, she saw Banks name and pulled a folder out. "Banks, Edward J.," she read. "Martin and his team arrested him four and a half years ago in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Hed set up phony life insurance accounts and then, when the clients families tried to collect, hed already changed his name and location."
"Okay, but that still doesnt sound like someone thatd go this far for revenge " Vivian noted.
"Until you see that the Bureau seized over four million dollars in assets from Banks accounts," Samantha remarked.
Danny whistled softly before saying, "Thats a lot of insurance money. Mustve had quite a few clients."
Samantha nodded as she continued to read the file. "Over four hundred people, according to the files they seized."
"And hes only done four and a half years?" Danny balked.
"Less," Samantha corrected. "He was given three years in prison and another five on probation when he got out."
"Which was four days ago," Jack said, looking up from the file.
"So its revenge?" Vivian asked.
"Or maybe he thinks Fitz can get him his four million back," Danny added.
"Okay," Jack said, standing up and heading to the dry erase board. "Sam, you and Vivian keep going through Banks case file. Find out everything you can about him where he operated before prison, who his contacts were in prison you know the routine. Danny, you and I are gonna check up some more on Ryan Goldbergs friends see if they knew who he was working for and how to find him."
Vivian rose from the table and approached Jack and watched him add a few things to the flow chart. "You gonna update his dad?" she asked.
After a moments thought, Jack said, "Yeah."
Fourteen hours missing.Jack and Danny had just finished talking to Ryan Goldbergs brother Dave when Jacks cell phone rang.
"Malone," he answered, continuing to walk to the company car.
"Jack, we got a note," Vivian said.
"Were on our way."
Fifteen hours missing.When Jack and Danny entered the office, they were surprised to see Victor Fitzgerald pacing the floor in front of the dry erase board. The older man stopped and turned, acknowledging their entrance.
"Whatve we got, Viv?" Jack asked.
"Front desk received this just before I called you," she began, pointing to the plastic encased envelope and paper on the table. "Delivered by Fed Ex - were subpoenaing their records now addressed to "Agent Martin Fitzgeralds boss."
"So glad these guys do their homework," Jack remarked sarcastically, seeing the way the envelope was addressed.
"The letter," Vivian went on, "basically says that if the Bureau doesnt come up with four million in cash, theyll kill Martin."
"Banks even had the balls to sign it," Danny said, pointing out the signature on the letter.
"No time frame?" Jack asked.
"Doesnt matter, we wont pay it," Victor Fitzgerald put in, turning to face the group. "We dont give in to this sort of thing. Not even for my own son," he added, making sure he made eye contact with each member of the team.
Seventeen hours missing."Okay, Viv, what did you and Sam come up with?" Jack asked. "Anything to tell us where Banks is?"
"According to his parole officer, Banks checked in after he was released from the pen and gave him a Newark address. Its the same one he used before going to prison," Vivian replied. "According to the records, it was his mothers home, where he grew up."
"According to the file, he also used several old offices in Perth Amboy and here in Manhattan," Samantha added. "The one here in Manhattan is owned by Nicole Bradley, who was a frequent visitor to Banks while he was in prison."
"Sounds like our woman," Danny put in.
"Was she involved in the insurance scam?" Jack asked.
"No record of being anything other than the innocent landlady."
"Just the same, I think shes probably in on this now. Check out the office in Manhattan. Discreetly. If Martins being held there, we dont want to spook them," Jack ordered.
"What are you going to do when Banks sets up the ransom drop?" Samantha asked.
"I dont know yet," Jack replied. "I guess itll depend on where and when it is."
The team started going about their assigned tasks, getting information at their desks. Jack and Victor headed for Jacks office. Jack closed the door and sat down at his desk. He motioned Victor to take a seat as well. He didnt.
"You must think Im a cold bastard, Jack," Victor started, leaning against the wall. "But I do care about my son. I would pay any amount of money to get him back, if I knew that thats all it would take."
"I know, Vic," Jack replied. "We gotta play by the rules here. And despite him being one of our own, we have to treat this case like any other. And Martin knows that, too."
Now knowing that he and Jack were on the same wavelength, Victor sat down on one of the office chairs.
"Hows he doing here, Jack?" he asked after a few moments. "He doesnt talk to me. Sure, he tells me things are good, but he doesnt go into any details."
"Hes been a good asset to the team," Jack replied quickly. "He had a bit of a rough start, hes still learning how to fit in, but I think hes enjoyed the change of pace. As for why he wont tell you well, thats between you and Martin."
"I tried to make it easy for him put in good words for him, dropped my name a bit," Victor went on. "But he just shut me out."
"Maybe its because you put in good words for him and dropped your name a lot," Jack responded. "He told me that he wanted to do things for himself when he got here. Do things on his own merits, his own credentials, not yours."
He was about to continue when the phone rang.
"Malone," he answered. "Yeah, just make sure the trace and tape are set up." He looked at Victor and nodded his head, indicating that Banks was calling. "Good. Put him through then."
He pushed the button for the speakerphone so that Victor could hear as well.
"This is Senior Agent Malone," Jack announced.
"Four million, unmarked bills."
"Id like to talk to Agent Fitzgerald," Jack cut in.
"Four million, unmarked bills," Banks repeated, continuing, "Trinity Church Cemetery. Noon."
"I need to talk to Agent Fitzgerald," Jack repeated. "Theres no deal unless I know hes alive."
He heard a shuffling sound in the background and it sounded like Banks had covered the phone with his hand.
"Talk to your boss," Banks ordered.
"Martin? Martin can you hear me?" Victor called out.
"Martin, are you okay?" Jack asked.
"Im Im okay."
Jack and Victor looked at each other. They heard the weariness and pain in Martins voice.
Jack called Martins name again, but was cut off by Banks.
"Hes alive. For now. If I dont get the money by noon, though, he wont be."
The call ended. Jacks phone rang again and he spoke with the agent that had been trying to trace the call. He hung up and looked at Victor.
"It was from a cell. Theyre going to try and track it down. May take a bit."
Eighteen hours missing.Vivian looked at her watch and yawned. It was three in the morning. She wasnt sure if she felt tired because she was, or because she just thought she should be at this hour. Either way, she knew that she, and the rest of the team, would not be getting any rest anytime soon. Not until they had Martin back.
"This is it," she said, pointing to a three-storied office building on their left.
Danny pulled the car over about two blocks past the building.
"Theres light coming from the second floor windows," Samantha spoke up from the back seat. She picked up the binoculars and pointed them toward the building. "I dont see anyone yet. Looks like two separate offices," she went on.
"Im gonna check things out," Danny said. "See if I can find some open doors."
As he got out of the car, he took off his jacket and went to the trunk and opened it. There he pulled out an old, dirty and torn trench coat. He donned it, a ski hat and gloves, giving him the look of a homeless street person. After nodding to the women, he crossed the street and headed toward the office building.
Vivian called Jack and updated them on their situation telling him that theyd found the office building and that they were just starting to check it over. He told her about the ransom demand.
"They got a call from Banks," she told Samantha after ending the call. "He wants the four million at Trinity Church at noon."
"Strange place for a ransom exchange," Samantha remarked.
"Nothing about Banks seems very ordinary," Vivian replied. "For a man that was smart enough to con four million dollars out of people, hes hasnt been too bright with this. First by allowing Martin to call, then by leaving his fingerprints in the apartment, then by signing the original ransom note."
"And surely he had to figure wed check on his old haunts," Samantha added, shaking her head.
"Yet, for all that, the bottom line is that hes got Martin and we dont."
Samantha nodded solemnly and brought the binoculars up again. "Ive got some movement," she said. "I can see two people walking around. One woman looks like Nicole Bradley. And one man its Banks."
"Danny did you copy?" Vivian asked, speaking into the radio mike. "Where are you?"
"Yeah, I copy," he replied. "Im at the west entrance. Its unlocked. Give Jack a call."
"Already on it. Stay put," she replied, getting out her phone again.
Vivian exited the car and headed towards Dannys location as she waited for Jack to answer his phone. Samantha stayed in the car to continue her surveillance.
"Jack, weve got them," Vivian spoke as she walked. "Banks and the woman are on the second floor of the office building."
"Have you seen Martin?"
"No, not yet. But from this angle, Samantha could only see people walking around. He might be sitting somewhere else, or on the floor or something," she replied.
"Okay, stay put. Ill get a full team together and meet you there."
Nineteen hours missing.Danny and Vivian, still outside the west entrance, watched and listened to their radios as their fellow FBI agents got into their positions at various locations around Nicole Bradleys office building. Jack, Samantha and Victor managed to gain access to the building across the street and were setting up surveillance equipment. Jack turned around as his name was called and he nodded to Mary Ellen Beck, the sniper team leader, as she entered the room. He heard her call a roll call of her team members, making sure they were in position at several strategic locations in the area. Following Jacks orders, she would be the one to pass the order to shoot on to her team.
"Any change, Sam?" Jack asked, settling into a seat near the window.
"Looks like the two have just been arguing," she replied. "Lots of pacing back and forth, hand gestures."
"Still no sign of Martin?" Victor asked.
"Not from this angle. Maybe one of the guys on the roof can tell us different."
No sooner had the words left her mouth that one of the agents on the roof called in.
"Weve sighted the hostage," he said. "Right hand side of the east office. Hes lying on the floor. Looks to be tied hand and foot."
"What kind of condition is he in?" Jack asked and listened as Agent Beck relayed the question to her agent.
"Hes hurt. Looks like his left leg has been bandaged," the man reported. "Cant tell if hes unconscious or just sleeping, though."
"Okay, tell him to keep his eye on Martin. If it looks like anyone is going to hurt him, he takes the shot," Jack said. "Have you got anyone with beads on the other two?" he asked Agent Beck.
"Yeah, Martinez and Reichert each have one in sight," she replied.
Jack paced a bit, going over the impromptu plan and its alternates in his head.
"Vivian?" he called on the radio. "Have you and Danny found anyone else in the building yet?"
"No," she replied. "The basement and ground floor are both clear. Were ready to go."
"Time to make the call," Victor told Jack, who nodded in response.
Double-checking the number hed gotten from the cell phone company, Jack began to dial.
"Hes taking out his cell phone," Samantha announced, still watching through binoculars.
"Mr. Banks, this is Senior Agent Jack Malone of the FBI. Id like to talk to you."
"Aint got nothing to say to you until noon today," Banks replied.
"I think I might change your mind," Jack continued, his voice controlled, not betraying the anger he felt inside.
"Oh, and why would I change my mind?"
"Because right now, at this moment, youre in a no-win situation, Mr. Banks."
"I dont see it that way, Malone," Banks countered. "Im the one that has your man. Im the one thats gonna get my four mil back today."
"And Im the one that has a dozen expert snipers with their rifles trained on you and your lady friends foreheads," Jack said right back.
Jack smiled as he watched the panic come across Banks face.
"I said Id kill him!" Banks exclaimed as he looked out the office windows and headed toward the other office and Martin.
"And you take one more step toward Agent Fitzgerald and itll be your last."
Banks stopped in his tracks.
"And that goes for Ms. Bradley as well," Jack added, seeing the woman move as well.
Banks put his hand out, stopping her from continuing.
"Now, you two just stay put and youll make it out of this alive. Make one wrong move and thatll change."
Jack nodded to Samantha, who picked up her radio. "Team One, go!" she ordered.
Danny and Vivian, along with four other agents, headed out of the stairwell, their guns out in front of them, and down the hall to the offices occupied by Banks, Bradley and Martin. Leading the way, Danny was first to the doorway and after making sure his team was still in sync with him, he kicked in the door, making an explosive entrance into the office.
Banks and Bradley were stunned as the agents rushed into the room, grabbing them and bringing them down to the floor, Banks dropping his cell phone along the way.
Vivian, seeing that the Danny and two of the other agents were taking care of Banks and Bradley, led the remaining two members of their team into the adjoining office. Clearing that office, finding no danger, she holstered her weapon and went to Martins side.
"Send that ambulance crew up here, now!" she called into her radio mike. "Martin? Martin?" she called, lightly touching her teammates cheek, hoping to rouse him. She got a slight moan as his eyes fluttered, but that was it. "Somebody got a knife?" she asked the other agents.
One of them produced a multi-tool from her pants pocket and handed it to Vivian, who began cutting away at the ropes that bound Martins wrists. Another soft moan from him made Vivian look at his battered face again. His eyes were open.
"Viv?" he rasped.
"Thats right, Martin," she said with a smile. "Its over. We gotcha now."
She finished cutting his hands free and handed the tool back to the other agent, who then began working on the rope around Martins ankles. Vivian pulled Martin into her lap and held him as he sighed in relief.
"Viv? Viv, how is he?"
Vivian heard Jack's voice over her radio. She could tell that he was on his way over, hearing his footsteps echo in a stairwell. She looked down at the young man in her arms. He was shivering now. Probably in shock, she thought. She saw that his leg was bleeding again.
"Celia, put some pressure on his leg, try to get the bleeding stopped," she told the agent that had just cut the ropes. "He's alive," was all she told Jack.
Martin let out a moan and shifted in her arms as the woman pressed down hard on his wound.
"Easy, Martin," Vivian soothed, holding him tighter. "We gotta get that bleeding stopped." She brushed her hand across his forehead, smoothing his hair away from his eyes, hoping to calm and soothe him, thinking of how it worked to soothe Reggie, when he was sick. "Help's on the way."
"Hurts!" he cried, squirming in her arms, trying to get away from whoever was setting fire to his leg. "Stop! Please?"
"Hold still, Martin," Vivian ordered gently as she readjusted her hold on him. "No ones gonna hurt you."
"Thats right, partner," Danny added, coming to kneel next to Martin and Vivian. "No ones gonna hurt you. But you gotta stay still."
"Cant. Hurts," Martin managed to say, his breaths becoming quicker as he tried to deal with the pain.
"Alright, lets put it this way," Danny went on, crouching down further to get into Martins line of site, "You got one pretty lady with her arms around you and another one holding onto your thigh, not too far from where it counts. I sure wouldnt want to get away from that action." While he had Martins attention, thinking that he might have even seen a slight smile on his coworkers face, he continued, "Thats it. Just pretend youre somewhere else, feeling something good, Fitz. Remember that beach you were telling me about? That nudist colony one you had to go to in order to arrest that bank embezzler? Were there, buddy. Surf, sand and curves. Were there."
Danny watched in satisfaction as Martins breathing slowed down and he stopped fighting Vivian and Celias grips.
"Thats it," Vivian said to Martin, her tone still soothing. To Danny, she whispered, "Where the hell is that ambulance crew?"
"Ill check," he replied, scooting back and away to use his radio.
No sooner had he radioed his request that the paramedics, accompanied by Jack and Victor, entered the other office.
"Over here," Danny called to them.
Jack and Victor stayed back and out of the way, letting the paramedics get close to Martin. They watched as the two men began cutting away Martins pants, exposing the knife wound. Victor stared at Danny, wondering why he kept saying, surf and sand to Martin over and over, as if it were a mantra of sorts. The paramedics worked around Celias hands at first, then quickly put a thick trauma dressing underneath them and then replaced them with a tight bandage. They inserted IVs into his arms and placed an oxygen mask over his face. And all the while, Martin was oblivious to it all. Finally, they lifted him from Vivians arms and placed him onto the stretcher.
Danny offered his hand first to Vivian and then to Celia, helping them to their feet, smiling as they stretched the kinks out of their backs and legs. Staying where they were, figuring Jack would want their impromptu report before they left the offices, despite the fact that he saw and heard everything that had happened, they watched as Victor whispered something to Jack before following the paramedics out of the office, trailing just behind the stretcher.
"Good work," Jack said to them when he finally approached. "Danny, you and Viv take Banks back to the office. Samantha and I will take Bradley. And remember," he said, pausing to make sure he had his agents attention, "by the books. I dont want either one of them to slip through because of any technicalities. Is that understood?"
"Understood, boss," Vivian replied, nodding her head along with Danny.
Jack looked up from his paperwork, signing what he hoped was the last report he had to check over, and saw Samantha in the doorway.
"Whats up, Sam?" he asked.
"Were going to head over to the hospital, check on Martin," she said. "You wanna come?"
"Yeah, just give me a minute," he replied.
He took a quick look at his watch, was surprised to see the time ten thirteen and shook his head. It had been a little over six hours since theyd found and rescued Martin. Two and a half since theyd arraigned Edward Banks and Nicole Bradley in front of the federal judge on charges of kidnapping and assault. Hed tried to add attempted murder charges, telling the judge that if they hadnt gotten to Martin when they had, he wouldnt have survived, but the judge denied that charge.
Victor Fitzgerald had phoned him around six that morning with an update on Martins condition. In addition to the knife wound to his left leg, which the doctors had described as very serious and bone deep, theyd discovered that Martin also had two broken ribs, numerous bruises to his chest, abdomen and face and abrasions around his wrists and ankles from the ropes that had tied him.
Theyd been close. According to the doctors, if they hadnt gotten to Martin when they had, he would have died from the blood loss. Jack cursed Banks and Bradley. Martin never would have made it to noon, their scheduled ransom exchange time.
"We got them, Jack," Samantha said to him, sensing his thoughts. "We got Martin back and Banks and Bradley are going to jail for a long time, this time. No lawyer in the world is going to be able to dispute the evidence."
Jack nodded his head and closed the case file.
Martin opened bleary eyes and squinting against the bright light, turned his head to the side with a groan.
"Sucks to wake up, huh?"
Martin turned his head back the other way and tried to focus on the man sitting to his right. He tried to reply to the query, but his words died in his dry throat.
"Here, take a sip," Danny said, placing a cup and straw in front of Martins mouth.
Martin took a few grateful sips and let his head return to the pillow, whispering, "Thanks."
Danny watched as Martin took in his surroundings, seeming to map out the hospital room, take note of the various tubes going in, out and around his body, cataloguing the various aches and pains of his injuries.
"Docs say youre gonna be fine," Danny said. "Probably be limping for a while yet that knife tore up a couple of muscles and scratched your femur."
"Hurts to breathe," Martin whispered.
"Yeah, that would probably be your broken ribs. But hey, youve got this hot little nurse named Daphne. Shell be here any minute now to show you all the joys of the morphine pump they set up."
Martin smiled at Dannys enthusiasm.
"He and Bradley are in custody. Federal judge remanded them this morning, a few hours after we found you," Danny replied, not missing the look of relief he saw in Martins eyes. He didnt miss the pain and weariness, either. "Listen, let me go get Daphne for you, let you get some rest. Someonell be outside the room for you if you need anything," he said before rising from the chair.
The next time Martin remembered waking up, Jack and Vivian were sitting in chairs to his right.
"Good morning," Vivian greeted him with a smile. "How are you feeling?"
"Sounds about right," she replied with a smile. "Do you remember what happened?"
Martin closed his eyes and took a deep breath, or as deep as his ribs would allow, and nodded his head.
"Ready to tell us?" Jack asked.
"Not really," Martin replied. "But I guess I gotta."
"Only if youre up to it."
"I was stupid," he began, his voice just above a whisper. "The damsel in distress scheme; Nicole Bradley came knocking on my door at seven in the morning, asking to use my phone because she got locked out of her apartment. Said she lived on the second floor. I don't know too many of the people in the building, yet. Didnt know who she was. Opened my door."
After a minute of silence, Jack urged him on. "Go on," he said.
"Banks and some other guy muscled their way in after. They made me call in to work, wanted me to call in sick, but I told Tara Id be late."
"Yeah, we got the message. Unfortunately, not the real message, until later," Vivian spoke up.
"Pissed Banks off," Martin continued. "Thought I could make a break, or get an advantage when they got distracted. I got to the kitchen, but the other guy I killed him, didnt I?"
"Yeah," Jack replied.
"Clear cut self defense, Martin," Vivian added. "No one's gonna fault you for defending yourself."
"Is he the one that stabbed you?" Jack asked.
"I got hold of a knife. We struggled for it." Martin paused; rubbed at his leg as he remembered the burning pain the knife had caused entering his flesh. The sharp, icy hot sensation as the metal scraped bone. "Somehow we got turned around. I dont even remember how. I just remember standing there, watching him fall."
"Then what happened?" Jack asked.
"Banks grabbed me, pushed me into the bedroom. I think he said something about changing my clothes. I remember the woman wrapping a pillowcase around my leg."
"What about your other injuries?" Vivian asked.
"I don't know. I think he hit me a few times. Knowing me, I probably mouthed off, pissed him off some more," Martin replied.
Vivian smiled at Martin's remark. At least, despite what he'd been through, he still had his sense of humor. She also saw that they were about to lose his attention again. Jack picked up on Martin's weariness, too.
"We'll finish this later, Martin," he said. "Get some rest."
"Thanks, guys," Martin said. "Oh, and hey, you didn't tell my folks did you? Not enough time to worry them, right?"
Vivian looked at Jack and was about to say something when Jack put a hand on her arm, stopping her.
"No, we never got the chance," Jack told him. "We'll see you later, Martin."
The two agents left the hospital room and headed down the hall. Before they got to the elevator, though, Vivian pulled Jack aside.
"Why didn't you tell him?" she asked.
"Vic left town as soon as the doctors said Martin was out of danger," Jack began. "Which do you think Martin would have rather heard: that his dad was here, but then, as soon as he could be with him, left town, or that his dad didn't know about it and therefore didn't come?"
Vivian didn't like either option, but had to admit that Jack probably did the right thing. Again, she decided glad she wasn't the boss. She also decided that she didn't like Victor Fitzgerald very much.
Martin closed his eyes and shook his head. He'd thought he'd seen his father, but between the blood loss, drugs, shock and more drugs, he figured he'd been dreaming - hoping that his father actually cared about what happened to him, might come to him in his time of need, might be there for him.
"You're a good liar, Jack," he said aloud. "But Vivian gave it away. He came, he saw, he did his fatherly duty. Had to make it look good."
Two days later, he was drifting in and out of sleep when he heard the door to his room open.
"Hey," Danny whispered as he, Jack, Vivian and Samantha entered the room. "Thought you might want some company."
"We brought you some real food," Vivian added, placing a pizza box on top of the bed table.
"And some entertainment," Samantha, added, holding out several board games. "And no, Danny, we are not playing the X-rated version of Scrabble," she added.
"Damn," the other four cursed at once.
"You guys are great," Martin said, looking at his teammates. "Didn't expect any of this."
"You're one of our own," Jack replied.
"That's Jack's way of saying that we're stuck with you, so we might as well like you," Vivian added, patting Martin's good leg.
"Glad to be stuck with you guys, too."
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org