Title: Crisis Negotiations
Fandom/Genre: Supernatural RPF/ AU
Word Count: 12000.
Warnings: The total misuse of FBI protocols for hostage negotiations, and just to warn you I’ve borrowed the ear bud technology from Leverage, so tech accuracy is a little shaky as well. So sorry! Also minor character death.
Summary: When Hostage Rescue Team One of the Crisis Negotiation is called into a hostage situation, they find themselves caught up in more than just a bank robbery gone wrong.
Disclamer: Here be fiction, folks. This isn’t real nor is it meant to reflect the relationship between the two men, whose names and faces I’m borrowing. This is my very own little take on reality or as I like to think of it now, the wrong trouser leg of time, where our universe and this one split apart, and this universe is bathed in a rosy pink hue.
Author’s Notes: First and foremost, my thanks go to my amazing beta bigj52. There should be statues erected and sonnets written for this amazing woman. I can never fully express my gratitude at her endless patience in dealing with my scribbles. Secondly, this was my entry for this year’s spn_reversebang, and I want to apologize to my poor long-suffering artist heartblowswild for being so very late with my story. I hope that she thinks it was worth the wait.
Jensen remained perfectly still, as the barrel of the gun pulled back from sight. The teller flinched, her eyes widened with fear, and from the way she arched forward, Jensen knew the muzzle of the shotgun had come to rest in the centre of her back.
He understood the unspoken threat; it showed him who was in charge. One wrong move on his part and Ryan would blast the woman to death. Jensen waited for his next instruction, hoping it would be to leave the food at the door and walk away.
The woman looked close to tears as she said pleadingly, “He wants you to bring the food inside.”
Jensen tensed. Training and protocol demanded he turn and walk away, not hand Ryan another hostage. As he was about to, Jensen heard the unmistakeable sound of a pump action shotgun chambering a round, and the teller shivered.
Inside ops the three men watched the tense standoff unfold. Misha muttered softly, “Please walk away, Jensen. Just walk the hell away.”
Jared knew, despite all the protocols in the rule book, there was no way Jensen would endanger the teller by walking away.
“Jensen, what are you going to do? Should I alert Kane to the situation? Come on, man, you need to give me a sign here,” Jared said into his headset, watching the team leader closely.
Jensen carefully balanced the box of sandwiches in his arms, and reached up to rub the back of his neck. To anyone watching from inside the bank, the gesture would look like a nervous reaction to being threatened. But to Jared it meant something entirely different.
“Got it, Jensen.” He turned to Misha. “Pull Kane off surveillance, and get him in here now. He’s taking over the team from Jensen.”
As Jared spoke, he saw Jensen relax imperceptibly. Jared ran his fingers through his hair and his shoulders slumped. He knew exactly what his friend was going to do. “Damnit, Jen, just be careful. Alright?” He begged softly as, Jensen walked towards the bank doors.
Jensen carried on walking, ignoring his second in command as he ran towards Ops. “Jensen, if you get out of this mess in one piece, I’m gonna kick your stupid ass all over Quantico. Do you hear me?” Chris snarled.
“Loud and clear, Kane. Loud and clear. Although you might have to get in line,” Jensen muttered. He knew Jared would be at the head of the queue, followed closely by Jeff and Doc Beaver, and he hoped he wouldn’t get hurt this time. Doc Beaver had an impressive pair of lungs, and wasn’t afraid of voicing his opinion. Usually about macho idjits who got themselves hurt on the job.
Jensen reached the doors and stepped inside. “That’s far enough,” a man said, and Jensen stopped where he was. Then the doors were closed behind him and Jensen heard it being locked.
Jensen spun to face the doors. “What are you locking the doors for? I thought I was just going to deliver the food,” he said in a quavering high-pitched voice as he looked wildly around the lobby, apparently in panic.
Jensen took the opportunity to quickly scan the lobby for Ryan and the hostages. “And the Oscar goes to,” he thought, pleased with his performance as a frightened diner employee, hoping Ryan wouldn’t perceive him as a threat.
Jensen was calculating the possibility of taking Ryan out as the teller locked the door. Only there was one small problem…..
“Who the fuck is that?” Jared yelled, gesturing to the screen, looking at the man standing in front of Jensen. He was definitely not the man pictured in Ryan Mitchell’s Service file. According to the file, Ryan was six feet two, well-muscled, with light brown hair and brown eyes.
The man he was looking at was shorter than the team leader by a couple of inches. He was much older than Ryan, judging by his thinning, greying hair and the deep lines around his blue eyes.
The door to ops was wrenched open and Chris came tearing in. “What the hell are you talking about, Padalecki?” he asked, as he took the file from Misha. Chris looked down at the picture, and then back at the screen, a frown on his face. “On the whole, I’d say Ryan’s got a partner in there with him. Wouldn’t you agree, guys?”
Misha looked at the man pointing a shotgun at the team leader and said, “Ya think?”
Jensen was shocked by this sudden turn of events. They’d been completely unaware of Ryan working with a partner. Jensen heard movement and looked over his shoulder to see who it was. Instead of seeing Ryan standing there, he was struck forcefully in the middle of his back. Surprised by the sudden attack, Jensen stumbled forward. His legs were swept out from under him, before he could regain his equilibrium.
Jensen crashed to the floor in a tangle of limbs; he looked up to see who’d just put him on the floor so casually. To his surprise his attacker wasn’t Ryan. Unlike his partner at the bank doors, this man at least, attempted to hide his face. He wore a ball cap with the brim pulled down low, and glasses with a black plastic frame. Thinking about his own disguise, it wasn’t exactly foolproof but it was good enough to pass cursory scrutiny. Add in the heavy beard, disguising the shape of his jaw, and Osric wouldn’t be able to get much off facial recognition.
“Jesus, Frank. What the hell are you doing?” The man who’d greeted Jensen asked, sounding shaken by the sudden violence.
Frank shrugged. “Sorry about that, Joshua. I pushed a little harder than I thought. I guess I don’t know my own strength.” Jensen looked into a pair of cold blue-grey eyes, and he knew Frank wasn’t in the slightest bit sorry. In fact, he seemed to be finding this whole situation amusing.
Jensen’s concentration was focused solely on Frank. So much so he never heard Joshua coming towards him. He flinched as the man grabbed his ankle and Jensen looked around. He was surprised to find Joshua, the other bank robber, kneeling beside him.
“Son, are you alright? You’re not hurt, are you?” Joshua asked, reaching out and patting Jensen’s knee.
Jensen stared dumbly at Joshua; he’d got to be the most unusual bank robber he’d ever dealt with. Jensen was more accustomed to violent and unstable offenders. Men like Frank, who took casual violence in their stride.
But Joshua seemed shocked by his partner’s actions. And he was checking him over for injury with a look of concern in his eyes. Joshua was so intent on what he was doing, he had no idea he’d left his weapon within easy reach of Jensen.
“Go on, Jensen, grab the goddamn gun. You know you could take Joshua out in a heartbeat.” Kane muttered, as he watched what was happening through Jensen’s spy glasses.
“Yeah, I’m sure he can. But what about Frank? Do you think he’s just going to stand and watch, while Jensen wrestles the gun away?” Misha responded curtly. “Why is it all you Rescue Team guys ever think is, shoot first, ask questions later? Don’t you ever get tired of it?”
Chris turned to the negotiator and growled. “That’s right, Misha. All we give a crap about is blastin’ away at anything that moves.” Chris pointed at the screen. “As much as I’d love to see Jensen go all John McClain in there, I know the moment he touches that gun, Frank will blow Jensen’s head off. And I really don’t want to bury my best friend, thanks. Not all of us think, shoot first, and ask questions later, is better. Sometimes we even use our brains, as small as they are.” Kane nodded to the screen. “See what I mean.”
Misha looked back at the screen, and noticed that Jensen had curled his fist closed. He slowly leant away from the gun. “I’m sorry, Chris. When you said that…”
“You thought Jensen was gonna hulk out and start swinging. No, not Jensen. If it had been me in there, then all bets would’ve been off,” Chris said with a grin, and patted his friend on the shoulder.
Jared was only half listening to Kane and Misha, more interested in watching the interaction between the two bank robbers. He’d known straight away Frank was a professional. The man was calm and in control, only using physical intimidation to take control of the situation.
Joshua, on the other hand, was a puzzle. The man had seemed comfortable enough with a gun. But judging by the way he was fussing over Jensen, Joshua was more than a little unhappy about Frank’s treatment of their ‘guest’. Jared really wished he could get Joshua on the phone. Then he’d exploit Frank’s use of force to drive a wedge between the two men.
Jared couldn’t help but feel there was something off about this whole situation. Why did Ryan need two partners? Culpepper was a small town with a bank to match. Unless Fort Knox had been closed, and this was the new home of the country’s gold reserve, this was overkill, pure and simple, and not what he’d expected.
A movement caught Jared’s attention. “Oh Shit.” Jared said, as his friend jerked backwards. It looked like Frank had grabbed hold of Jensen’s T-shirt, and he was dragging Jensen away from the shotgun. Out of the corner of his eye Jared saw Chris tense. Jared knew Jensen’s second in command was getting ready to act, if he thought his friend was in danger.
“For god’s sake, Frank, stop it. The poor boy just brought the food you wanted. Let me open the door, and get him out of here.” Joshua said, as he struggled to his feet, the shotgun held loosely in his hands.
From his position on the floor, Jensen really liked the sound of that idea. But he had a feeling that Frank wasn’t going to go for what his partner was asking him.
Frank let go of his t-shirt, and stepped over him. He walked over to stand in front of Joshua, leaving Jensen more than a little annoyed at the way he’d just been dismissed.
Jensen hoped Joshua would take a stand against Frank, but after a few moments he looked down submissively. “Now, Joshua, if we let him go, he’s gonna go right out there and talk to the FEDs. And you know we’re so close.” He spoke softly and rested his hand on Joshua’s shoulder.
In Ops Kane frowned. “What the hell is he talking about? They’re so close to what?”
Misha shook his head. “I don’t have the faintest idea what Frank’s on about. Any ideas, Jared?” Misha looked over at his fellow negotiator.
Jared was watching the men’s body language. “I’m as much in the dark as you are. But it’s pretty clear we’ve got a dominant, submissive partnership in there and Frank’s calling the shots. Where is Ryan in all of this? I thought he was the lead in this robbery.”
Kane frowned. “Ian, change the angle of the camera. Try and find Ryan. Now.” The fibre optic camera turned, and even with it’s fairly limited field of vision, it was obvious Ryan wasn’t in the lobby.
“Perhaps he’s with the hostages,” Misha said.
“Maybe. But considering Ryan’s a Marine, he’d want to be in control of the situation. He’d know not to grab another hostage. He’s already got enough people to try and control in there.” Kane shifted uncomfortably, this was spinning out of their control.
Jared continued to watch the drama play out in front of him. He saw Joshua look up; a change had come over him. The indecisive body language was gone, and now there was a determined look in his eyes. With a sinking heart, Jared knew what that meant for Jensen.
“Ok Frank, you’re right. We’ve come too far to stop now.” Joshua looked down at Jensen with a look of genuine regret on his face. “Listen, son, I’m sorry to do this to you, but you gotta stay in here with us. Just for a little while.” He looked back at Frank. “Do you want me to put him with the others?”
Frank turned and looked down at Jensen with a smile. “Don’t you worry about that, Josh. You and Miriam go and help the others. I’ll get our guest settled in.” Joshua turned to go as Frank called out after him. “Josh, you’re doing great. Helen would be so proud of you. You know that, right?” Frank’s words made the older man blush and he nodded.
Frank waited for Joshua walk away, happy the old fool was finally out of the way. It was time to move his and Ty’s ‘insurance policy’ to somewhere a little more private. Frank smiled pleasantly at Jensen, as he pulled a gun from the waistband of his jeans. “Put your hands on your head,” Frank ordered and when Jensen complied, he motioned with the gun, “Shall we?”
From his position on the floor Jensen looked up at Frank. There was something about the man that set his teeth on edge. He was too cocky by half, and Jensen couldn’t help feeling the man was laughing at all of them. Jensen got slowly to his feet, and squared his shoulders. “Where are you taking me? Are you going to lock me in the vault with the other hostages?” he asked, hunching over slightly, still playing the frightened diner employee.
Frank grinned cockily. “Just turn your ass around, and start walking. You ain’t got far to go.”
Jensen did as he was told. According to blueprints, the bank had been built in the late twenties. The lobby was spacious and he could still see some of the original dark wood fixtures. Over the years there had been modernizations. These included a new office for the bank manager, and two other smaller offices. One belonged to Doug Eckhart and the other stood empty. The vault was positioned along the back wall of the lobby, and the staff break area was situated behind it.
As Jensen passed the manager’s office, he slowed down when he heard movement from inside the room. Drawers were being opened and paper rustled, and Jensen saw multiple figures through the frosted glass panels.
Suddenly Jensen was shoved forward. Obviously Frank’s patience was wearing thin and he wanted Jensen to speed up. “That’s it, sweetheart. You’re heading in the right direction. Just a little further,” Frank prompted.
Jensen was about to pass Doug’s office when Frank reached out and squeezed his shoulder. Jensen stopped and noticed the door slightly ajar. He quickly glanced inside and saw a man sat cross-legged on the floor. But from his position he was unable to make out his face. So this was where Frank was taking him. Jensen waited, thinking he was about to join the other hostages, but they weren’t moving.
Jensen risked lifting his eyes, and looked into the frosted glass panel. He watched Frank’s reflection in the glass. The man seemed to be listening to something. Frank’s head was tilted slightly to the side. Whatever he was hearing wasn’t making him happy. Then Frank focused on him once again, and a prod from the muzzle of Frank’s gun told Jensen to get moving again.
They walked a little further down the corridor. “Ok, end of the line. In you go, sweetheart.” Jensen looked over his shoulder at Frank, who nodded towards a door. Jensen took his hands off his head, reached for the doorknob and opened the door.
Jensen put his hands back on his head and stepped inside. He turned to face Frank, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. Frank closed the door, turned on the light, then suddenly whipped the barrel of his gun across Jensen’s forehead. The force of the blow propelled the surprised man into a shelving unit.
Jensen hit the metal shelves hard enough to rattle the metal. His head snapped round into the shelf and his cap flew off. Frank shoved his gun into the waistband of his jeans with a grin. He moved quickly, not wanting to give Jensen time to recover from the sudden attack, driving his fists into Jensen’s side.
Jensen gasped, as his ribs creaked under the onslaught, and he tried to protect himself by bringing his arms up in front of his body. Jensen stood there, as Frank used him for a punch bag, trying to block the punches as best he could. Finally Frank grew tired of pummelling him and changed tactics. He grabbed Jensen’s shoulders, pulled him down, and brought his knee up hard into Jensen’s midriff.
Jensen’s legs buckled as all the air was driven from his body. He collapsed in a heap, as he tried desperately to pull oxygen into his battered body.
Frank took advantage of Jensen’s dazed state and took hold of his T-shirt. He roughly hauled him into a seated position, and slammed him into the shelves. The jolt seemed to clear Jensen’s head. He started struggling, landing an uncoordinated punch to Frank’s jaw, as blood dripped, unnoticed, down his face.
“Ok, pretty boy, that’s enough.” Frank said as he pulled his gun out. “If want to keep walking without a limp, you’ll stay still.” Frank put the gun against Jensen‘s knee and smirked cruelly at him.
Jensen stopped struggling. He knew which battles were worth fighting and this one was lost. He watched as Frank pulled a zip tie out of his pocket. “Hands behind your back, pretty boy,” he said, as he forced Jensen’s hands behind his back, and tied him securely to the post. Frank reached up and patted his cheek mockingly, and then slammed Jensen’s head hard into the shelf.
The blow stunned Jensen, and he breathed deeply in an attempt to fight the dizziness. He blinked rapidly, to clear away the dark spots dancing in front of his eyes. It was then Jensen felt the blood dripping down his face. Jensen shook his head again, and wondered where the hell those voices were coming from. Frank hadn’t hit him that hard, had he? He scrunched his nose and discovered he was wearing glasses. Since when did he wear glasses? Jensen frowned and tried to concentrate, but his head felt so heavy. Long fingers suddenly gripped his chin tightly and forced his head back. Jensen groaned as the fingers dug painfully into his jaw.
The pain helped to bring him round and he managed to focus on Frank. The man still had that knowing smile on his face. “Now, I’m going to leave you in here for a little while. Be a good boy and don’t make a fuss, or I’ll have to come back and have another little chat with you. Ok?” Frank winked at Jensen. When he didn’t respond, Frank dug his fingers in harder. He grinned when Jensen moaned and nodded weakly.
Frank stood up and pulled some paper towel off a roll and wiped the blood off his hands. “We don’t want to upset anyone, do we? I’ll tell you what, I’ll even leave the light on for you. See what a good guy I am?” Frank said as he turned and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him again.
Inside Ops the mood was already tense, and that tension increased as Jensen was led away from Joshua. Chris had been more than a little unhappy.
“Osric, is there any way we can get a visual on Jensen?” Kane asked, as a bad feeling seeped slowly into his gut. Kane pulled on his helmet and picked up his gun.
Osric shook his head frantically. “No way. When the doors were locked, Ryan cut the wires to the CCTV cameras. The only cameras we have are the fibre optic, and the one in Jensen’s glasses.”
Chris silently cursed Ryan’s military training. Most bad guys in hostage situations left the CCTV intact. In their panic they tended to forget security systems could be hacked. It gave Hostage Rescue an advantage. Chris started to swear. “Shit, that ain’t enough. It ain’t nearly enough.” Chris pressed the button on his radio. “Be ready to move on my mark. We could be go in sixty seconds,” he barked at the rest of the team.
“Wait a minute, Kane. We need to take a step back for a moment. Are you really sure going in is the right call?” Jared asked, his head still spinning with the way things had spiralled out of control.
“It looks like Jensen is being moved in with the other hostages. He’ll be fine.” Jared said in an attempt to stop an all-out assault on the bank.
Before Kane could reply, they watched Jensen being taken into the store cupboard. Then all hell broke loose. Jared was shocked by the swift brutal violence, and was disorientated by the way the camera bounced around. As quickly as the attack began it stopped, and Frank’s face loomed large in the blood-smeared lenses of Jensen’s glasses. Then he was gone and they were left with silence.
“That’s fucking it! I’m not leaving Jensen in there a second longer,” Kane roared, and then he heard a groan.
A gruff voice rasped, “Stand the fuck down, Kane. I repeat, stand down.”
“JENSEN! What the fuck, man! I just watched that bastard use you for a punch bag. And you want me to stand down?” Chris yelled frantically into his mic.
Jared reached out and placed a hand on Kane’s forearm. “Give him a minute. He’ll tell you why he wants you to stand down when he gets his breath back. You know the team motto, right? WWJD.”
Chris glared at the taller man. “Seriously? This is not the time to remind me of What Would Jensen Do! Considering Jensen’s got himself locked in the damn bank and got his ass kicked, our glorious leader ain’t looking all that glorious at the minute.” Kane pinched his nose and stared up at the ceiling, trying to think like his team leader, weighing the pros and cons of a full-scale assault on the bank.
For a start there was too much they didn’t know. Such as, where were the rest of the hostages? Without a precise position, when they stormed the building, Ryan could turn his guns on them, and it would be a massacre. Finally, just how many robbers were in the bank? It had gone from being Ryan on his own to three men. Kane’s gut told him Jensen was no longer in immediate danger. But the idea of having to leave Jensen alone in the bank didn’t sit well with him at all.
Kane shot Jared a sour look. “Jay, do you ever get tired of being right?” he said with a sigh. Then he called the team. “We’re on standby. I repeat, we’re on standby. Be ready to go when I say.” Kane looked at the negotiator and asked, “Ok now what?”
“That’s up to Jensen.” Then Jared addressed the injured team leader. “Are you with us now? Or do you want me to sing love songs to Kane to keep him in here with me." Jared said.
"For the love of god, Jared, don't start singing. I'm in enough pain already." Jensen started coughing. His throat was dry, and he turned his head and spat blood on the floor. Jensen licked his lips. At least the room had stopped spinning.
Chris looked at Jared in concern, not liking how weak Jensen sounded. Chris contemplated overriding Jensen's orders, and calling for an explosive entry into the bank. With luck, the team could keep casualties to a minimum.
"Don't even think about it! You hear me, Kane." Jensen growled, and Chris started in shock.
"Don't even think what, Jensen?" he said, trying to sound innocent.
"You're about to order the team to move in, but if you do that, there's going to be a bloodbath." Jensen said.
Jared stared worriedly at Kane. "Why's that, Jensen?"
"Because there's a guy on the outside." Jensen answered.
"How the hell do you know that? Are you sure?" Kane asked.
Jensen laughed tiredly. "You know how Stephen always tilts his head to one side when he's listening to his ear piece?"
Kane looked puzzled. "Yeah, it's why we can't use him to tail suspects. He always gives it away he's wired. Drives me friggin' insane."
"It looks like Frank has the same problem as Stephen. When I was being moved we stopped outside Doug’s office. I watched Frank’s reflection. There was definitely someone talking to him. And trust me, he was pissed about what was being said.” Jensen squirmed. The post was digging into his back, and the zip tie was cutting into his wrists. “Well then, Team Leader Kane, what’s your next move?”
Chris let out a breath, and turned to the young man sat at the console. “Osric, are you sure you blocked all lines of communication into the bank?” Chris asked, slinging his gun across his back.
Osric shot him an offended look. “It was the first thing I did. The land line went first, and then I blocked the signal to any cells in the bank. We control all communication into and out of the bank. ”
Chris raised his hand in a placating gesture. “Hey kid, don’t get your panties in a bunch. All I’m saying is, if Jensen’s right, then Frank is in contact with someone on the outside. How the hell is he managing that?” Chris watched as Osric processed this new information. He turned back to his keyboard and typed rapidly.
Chris thought ‘that’s my boy’ as he opened a secure line on comms. “Ok, everyone, we’ve got a situation developing inside the bank. Jensen’s been taken hostage.”
“Seriously? You’d better not be yanking my chain, man,” Mike said in response to Chris’s announcement.
“Oh yeah, Mike. I’ve just told you our team leader’s been taken hostage, because I want to mess with your head,” Kane drawled back, in answer to the comments bombarding him.
“Somehow, I think there’s a little more to it than that. Am I right?” Stephen broke in.
“At last, a man with intelligence. Jensen thinks we’ve got a watcher out here. If he’s right, I think our guy’s using a radio, perhaps even military-grade hardware. Osric assures me all other lines of communication have been cut. He’s trying to trace the source of the signal now.” Kane waited out the babble of voices all talking at once.
Chris decided it was time to take charge again. “This is what we’re going to do. Mike, I want you to scan the crowd for any suspicious activity.”
“Does that include taking the details of the really hot blonde, who keeps smiling at me?” Mike asked hopefully. “I mean, it’s the perfect disguise, while she’s luring me to her bosom. She could be feeding our bad guy all sorts of Intel,” he added thoughtfully.
Kane groaned softly. “Mike, you can get her number later? Just remember to be nice to her service dog as well.” Kane waited for the laughter to die down. “Stephen, see if you’re sharing the local scenic spots with anyone. We need to track this guy down fast. I’ll start looking into the local law enforcement as well. Now stay sharp, Jensen’s relying on us.”
“Will do, Kane. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s sharing my perch. It’s the only place I can get peace and quiet from Rosenbaum. And good luck with the hunting.” Stephen said and signed off.
Chris turned to face the two negotiators, as he could still hear Mike jabbering at Stephen, telling the sniper he was a joy to be around. But he knew all the team would be on their highest alert, trying to track down the watcher, who was putting everyone in the bank in danger. “Ok, fellas, I’m going to start having a few quiet words with the deputies. See if the fourth man is a cop.” Kane picked up his helmet. “What will you guys be doing?”
Jared scrubbed his face with a hand. “Now we try to figure out, what the hell is actually going on in there. Such as who is doing the searching, and what is it they’re searching for? ” Jared paused and turned to Osric. “Have we got a list of the hostages I can take a look at, please?” He pulled up a chair and sat down.
Misha walked over and stood by Jared. “What are you looking for, Jay?” He asked, pulling up a chair and sitting by his friend.
Jared looked at him. “To be honest, Misha, I don’t have a clue. But we have to start somewhere. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a mule-headed idiot to threaten.”
Misha grinned at him, and with a sweeping arm gesture said, “Oh threaten away, Jared. I always enjoy watching you work.” He smirked and called, “Jensen, I think Jared would like a word with you.”
“Hi, Jared, is there anything I can do for you?” Jensen asked, trying to sound unconcerned.
“Well, for a start, you can promise me you’re going to behave. You are going to behave, aren’t you?” Jared said smoothly.
“Of course, I’m going to behave. I’ll be a model hostage.” Jensen said.
“I know you. You’ll try to escape and cause mayhem in there.” Jared paused. “Look, just promise me you won’t do anything too stupid.” He heard a put-upon sigh. “I’ll take that as a promise. Now, is there anything else you can think of to help us, Jensen?” Jared listened as Jensen started to talk, grabbing a pad and pen from Osric to make notes.
After Frank shut the FED in the store cupboard, he moved further into the back of the bank. He passed the staff break room, heading down into a part of the bank, that most of the employees were unaware existed. Frank studiously ignored the voice in his ear; his new partner was one hell of a talker. But he had to admit that Ty’s knowledge of the FEDS, and how they worked was proving invaluable.
Finally he grew tired of Ty’s monologue, and decided to engage him in conversation, steeling himself to use the damn stupid code names Ty insisted they use over the air. ”Ok, Blue Leader, the FED is shut in the storeroom like you wanted. Now what? I still think I should’ve grabbed his earpiece, so I could keep tabs on the rest of his team.”
Ty laughed softly. “Raider One, you do know what Special Agent Ackles’ team would’ve done if they’d completely lost contact with him?”
Frank gritted his teeth and said sarcastically, “Let me guess, they would’ve stormed the bank in under five minutes. I’m not a complete idiot, Blue Leader.”
“Well, that’s good to hear, brother, but you’re wrong about the five minutes. It would’ve probably taken less than two minutes for them to storm the place. Look, we’re still on schedule. We’ve just got to keep the FEDS on the back foot for a little longer. By the way, how are your little helpers doing?” Ty asked his partner.
“Oh, they’re havin’ the time of their lives rummaging through the files.” Frank snorted derisively. “Although they could keep at it till hell freezes over.”
“That may be so, Raider One, but their tireless search for justice means you have the run of the place. You should really go back upstairs and give Miriam a big kiss for me. I really appreciate you taking one for the team like that,” Ty said, the smile plain in his voice.
“You know what, fuck you,” Frank snarled.
“Sorry you’re not my type, Raider One.” Ty paused. “On a happier note, how long before the vault is open?”
Frank smiled. "Another fifteen minutes, tops and if my delightful young lady, Miriam is right about the contents, you need to have the car running by the top of the hour.”
Ty whooped with joy. “Now that’s more like it, we’ll be ready to get out of here by three o’clock. Now remember be nice to our insurance policy. Special Agent Ackles being safe and well, should keep Kane and Co under control. You hear me, Raider One?”
“I promise not to hurt a hair on his pretty little head,” Frank said with a smirk, rubbing his tender knuckles. “I’ve just headed down to the vault. It’s going well. I’ll call you back in twenty.” Frank signed off and watched the drill slowly bore into the antique safe’s lock.
Modern safes were all well and good, but these babies, built in the 1920s, were works of art, and as such, needed to be treated with a little respect. Frank leant forward and poured a little more lubricant over the drill bit. He stood back and patted the drill. “Keep goin’, darling, you’re gonna make me and Ty very rich men.” He settled down to wait for the drill to finish its work, content to be away from the circus upstairs.
Ty sat back in his chair, picked up his binoculars and scanned the street outside. He was perfectly placed to watch the action, as he sat in the apartment above the coffee shop. He quickly picked out the members of Hostage Team One. It had taken him months to find just the right bank to target.
Thanks to Frank's family ties to the area, and a little research into Culpepper and its citizens, Ty had hit the jackpot. Now it was just a matter of keeping Frank under control while he observed his real target, Hostage Team One. So far Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s number one team, were living up to expectations.
Ty had deliberately told Frank to keep Jensen away from Ryan and Doug. Jensen was far too smart for his own good, despite his being considered brawn to Padalecki’s brains.
Also by taking Jensen hostage, Ty was discovering if that hothead Kane had managed to learn restraint. So far it looked like he was keeping that famous temper of his under control. Ty had half expected him to order an assault on the bank, to rescue his friend. It appeared Kane was listening to advice, probably from his team leader inside the bank, and possibly even star negotiator, Jared Padalecki. Maybe Misha had talked Kane off the ledge. That yoga-loving nut job, had to be good for something.
Ty looked at his watch, and by his calculations the safe would be emptied within the next forty-five minutes. Then he'd finally be free of that idiot Frank. The man never listened, convinced he was always right. At least Ty had managed to convince him to use code names over the radio.
Ty turned his attention to the radio scanner sitting on the table beside him, carefully adjusting the frequency. If he could pick up the agents radio chatter, then the FEDS could do the same thing to them. It was why he didn’t want his name being broadcast by Frank.
Ty expected young Mr Chan to find their signal eventually, but his years in the army had taught him a trick or two, such as bouncing from frequency to frequency, making it difficult for anyone to track them.
Suddenly Ty heard a familiar voice. "Hey guys, what's happening out there? I'm bored." Special agent Ackles whined at his friends.
Ty shook his head. It seemed Jensen was getting a little restless, he hoped Frank hadn't hurt him too badly when the two of them were alone. He was interested to see if Jensen would stay put, or if he'd stage a little breakout. Ty was hoping the team leader wouldn’t let him down, and he’d escape and do a little snooping around.
Ty settled back, took a sip of coffee and looked at Ops. “Come on then, boys, impress me. Let’s see if you can figure out what Frank’s really up to in there. After all, I’d hate to see a decorated veteran go to prison for a crime he’s not committing."
Jared rolled his eyes at Jensen, whining. "I'm sorry we're boring you, but this kind of thing takes time." He looked up at the screen. From the way the camera was moving, Jensen must be looking at his surroundings, the scenery wasn’t exactly inspiring. Jensen was locked in a small utilitarian room. Jared grinned slightly, the inactivity must be driving Jensen insane. "How's the head, by the way?" he asked sympathetically.
"Throbbing, but I'll live. I think the bleeding's stopped, but now my damn nose is itching.” Jensen said, sounding pitiful.
Jared was treated to the camera jiggling around, as Jensen tried to find a way to scratch his nose. Finally with a cry of triumph Jensen bent his knees up to his chest. He leant forward and rubbed his nose against his knee. “Son of a bitch, that feels good,” he mumbled into the denim.
“You feeling better, now?” Jared asked in amusement.
“Yeah much. Is there anything I can do? How about if I try and find out where the hostages are?” Jensen asked hopefully.
“No, you’re going to stay put and behave yourself. Just let the grownups sort this out and we’ll get back to you soon,” Jared said with a smirk, hearing Jensen mumble something about smartass moose.
Jensen leant back against the shelves and tested the zip tie. Being tied to the post meant he couldn’t get enough leverage to break the tie. Jensen sighed, frustrated and rolled his shoulders in an attempt to ease his stiffening muscles. His forearm caught against a jagged piece of metal, and Jensen grinned. It looked like he might be able to do a little exploring after all. He carefully inched his wrists higher up the post, until the tie snagged on the metal. Jensen started to painstakingly saw his way through the plastic.
In Ops, Jared scrolled down the list of names. Names Ryan had kindly provided them, after Misha had asked him so he could contact the victims’ families. There had been eight people in the bank when Ryan had taken over.
The names included, Mr Williams the bank manager, although the manager had managed to escape, before Ryan had locked the doors. That left Doug Eckhart, the two tellers on duty, the security guard and four customers inside the bank. Jared sat up straighter as he saw one of the names. “Hey, Misha, didn’t Frank call his partner Joshua? And then he mentioned someone called Helen.”
Misha looked up. “Yeah, there was a Joshua, and a Helen.”
Jared pointed at the screen. “According to this list, there’s a hostage called Joshua Bradley, and he was married to Helen for over thirty years.” Jared scrolled a little further down. “Sadly Helen died two years ago, not long after their home was foreclosed on.”
Misha rolled his chair closer and looked over Jared’s shoulder. “And you think the Joshua on the list, is the same one armed with the shotgun?”
Jared pressed a button and Joshua’s driver’s license appeared on the screen. It was the same man who’d tried to let Jensen go. Jared pushed his chair back and ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s the same one alright. Why the hell is Joshua helping Ryan and Frank rob the bank?”
Jared frowned and turned back to the files, flicking from one to another. He turned to Osric. "Can you see if the hostages have anything else in common? Apart from shitty luck at being caught in a bank robbery?"
Osric looked up from his work. “Sure thing, Jay, I'll see if anything flags up." Jared nodded his thanks and turned to speak to Misha. Osric whistled to get his attention. "Boy, do they ever have something in common. Either the person in the bank has had their home foreclosed on, or they've got family who've lost their home. Jay, I'm going to have a dig around. I'll get back to you soon."
Misha grabbed the pad from Jared. “Didn’t Jensen say something about seeing people in Mr Williams’s office?”
Jared picked up a list of hostages. “Yeah, he did. Maybe I should go and have a few words with Mr Williams. I want to see if he has any idea about what’s going on.” Jared stood up. “Misha, keep an eye on Jensen. Make sure he doesn’t get up to any mischief.”
Misha was sorting through a pile of papers on the desk, and nodded absently. “Of course I’ll watch him, Jay.”
“Where is our esteemed bank manager?” Jared asked.
Misha looked up and grinned. “I believe he’s seeking succour in the coffee shop, with Deputy Crane.”
Jared nodded his thanks and headed out of Ops. He looked round and saw Mike patrolling in front of the bank. In spite of his chaotic nature, Mike was damn good at his job and Jared knew he was watching the crowd closely, as he tried to spot the man feeding Frank information.
Jared pondered this. It was just one of the things that didn’t add up. Frank and his partner were professionals, and this town wasn’t wealthy enough to have a bank to merit this kind of attention.
Jared headed for the coffee shop. Pushing the door open, he looked around. Jared quickly spotted the deputy and the bank manager. Deputy Crane was working his way through a plate of muffins. Jared walked over. “May I join you, gentlemen?” he asked as he sat down.
Deputy Crane picked up a napkin, and wiped his mouth. “Sure thing, Agent…?”
Jared reached over and shook the man’s hand, ignoring how sticky it was. “Special Agent Jared Padalecki, but please call me Jared.” He looked at Mr Williams. “I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances, Mr Williams, but I need to ask you a few questions.”
Jared studied the manager. Ted seemed very keen to project a calm unruffled manner. Although he smiled pleasantly enough, Jared could feel the tension rolling off him. Coupled with the way Ted constantly smoothed his hair down, and straightened his very expensive tie, the man was doing his best to remain in control.
But Jared had seen the way Ted’s hand shook, as he reached for his coffee cup. Finally Ted answered him, “That’s fine, Jared. What can I do to help you?”
Jared leant back and gave the man a warm smile. His open posture seemed to help relax the manager, as he mirrored Jared’s pose. “Mr Williams, did any of these people have an appointment with you today?” Jared asked, as he pushed the list of hostages across the table.
Jared watched Ted squint at the paper, then pulled a pair of Prada glasses out of his designer suit’s breast pocket. He picked up the list and read it. “No, I didn't have an appointment with any of them.” Ted put the list on the table.
Jared nodded. “Ok, what about Mr Eckhart? Do you happen to know if he did?”
Mr Williams frowned. “I’m not privy to Doug’s calendar, but I’m pretty certain he was spending the day on paperwork. Why do you ask?”
Jared thought that was strange, it seemed everyone knew why Ryan was in the bank. Maybe Ted was telling the truth, and he didn’t know anything about it. But watching Ted toy nervously with his glasses, and seeing fine beads of sweat had appeared on his upper lip, told Jared another story entirely. The man was terrified of something. Jared was intrigued and the longer the silence continued, the more Mr Williams’ eyes strayed back to the list on the table between them.
Jared was certain Ted knew more than he was telling him. He’d even put money on Ted being fully aware of what the hostages had in common.
Jared reached out and picked up the list, and Ted followed his movements closely. “Thank you, Mr Williams, that’s all for now. If there’s anything else, can I come back to you?”
Mr Williams looked relieved at the sudden end to the interview. “Oh, that’s fine, and if I can be of any more assistance, please let me know, Jared.”
Jared got to his feet and smiled brightly. “Don’t worry. If I think of anything, I’ll be sure to find you, Mr Williams.” Jared nodded at Deputy Crane. “Have a good day, Deputy. You’re doing a great job of taking care of Mr Williams.” The deputy beamed at him and Jared paused. He turned back to the bank manager.
“As a matter of interest, Ted. How did you manage to escape from, Ryan?” Jared asked.
Ted blushed and looked down at the table. “To be honest, I was just slipping out of the bank for a few moments, when I heard the gun go off and all the shouting. I’m afraid I ran out of the door as quickly as possible.”
Jared nodded thoughtfully. “So you never saw Ryan with the gun?”
Ted looked uncertain and the deputy answered. “It had to be Ryan. I saw him lock the doors!”
Jared just smiled. “Yes, of course it was Ryan. I was just curious. Thank you again, gentlemen.” Jared headed out of the coffee shop. The feeling that everything wasn’t as it seemed, was getting stronger. He called on the team’s technical analyst. “Osric, please tell me you got something.”
“I got something alright, Jay. Get your ass in gear. I think I just hit the jackpot.” Osric said excitedly.
Jared ran towards Ops. “The next trip I go on, you get to name your gift! If you want a mate for Albie, it’s yours. Hell, if you want a real Alpaca, I’ll even smuggle one through customs, dressed as my Auntie May from Idaho.” Jared reached the door and ran inside.
Osric swung round in his seat and grinned. ”I might just take you up on the last part. Ok guys, sit your asses down. I’ve got a story to tell you.”
Jensen grinned triumphantly, as he felt the plastic tie give a little when he strained against it. "Come on, come on," he murmured, sawing faster. Suddenly the tie broke and Jensen gasped in relief. He scratched his nose again. "Jesus, that's better. Right, time to stretch my legs." He slowly got to his feet, wincing as his bruised ribs ached and his head throbbed in time with his heartbeat. At least he didn’t have to deal with broken bones or concussion this time. Jensen turned and looked at the shelves, searching for the source of the paper towels Frank had used earlier. Jensen spotted the roll tore some off, and wiped at the blood on his face.
When he'd cleared the blood from his eyes, Jensen dabbed gently at the wound on his forehead. Like all head wounds this one had bled profusely, and Jensen was relieved to find the bleeding had stopped. He looked over at the door, crumpled the paper towel into a ball and threw it into the trash can in the corner.
He was just about to inform the guys about his escape from his bonds. He stopped and listened to what Osric was telling the two negotiators. "Son of a bitch!" Jensen exclaimed softly, changing his mind about telling Jared he was free. Instead, he was going to look for someone.
In Ops Jared and Misha were staring at the screens, each one covered with data. Jared frowned. “Ok, what exactly am I looking at here, Osric?”
Osric nodded at the screen. “You’re looking at the foreclosures in the town of Culpepper, for the last three years.”
Misha sat forward. “I know the economy has been struggling, but that still seems an awfully high number for such a small town.”
Osric pointed at Misha. “And for that, you can take custody of Albie for three days,” he said with a smile.
Jared grinned as Misha high fived their technical analyst. “Culpepper has fallen on hard times. What’s that got to do with what’s happening in the bank?” Jared prompted.
Osric brought up more information. “You were right. Everyone in that bank today has either lost their home, or they’ve seen family in the same situation. But did you know everyone on the list lived within a five-block area?”
Jared sat forward. “No, and that’s important because?”
Osric grinned triumphantly. “It’s important because three years ago, a development company by the name of Redmaine Construction, decided that Culpepper, and more precisely, that part of town, would be the perfect place for a shiny new mall!”
Misha rolled his eyes. “The American dream at work with another useless temple to crass commercialism, that will tear the soul out of the town. If it were left to me, I’d set Kane on the lot of them. We all know how much he loves his little organic produce stores.” Misha finished his rant, and noticed Jared and Osric staring at him. “Sorry, do go on,” he finished quietly.
“Thanks, Misha. Phil Redmaine, the CEO, has a reputation for going into towns in stealth mode. Buying up properties that come on the market, sniffing round for foreclosures. So that by the time he’s got all the zoning applications he needs through, he’s already got his hands on a sizeable chunk of the land he wants. Which in turn keeps the prices down on homes, that have to be compulsorily purchased at a later date,” Osric continued.
Jared smiled. “Let me guess. The homes that have been foreclosed on are in key positions for the mall. Am I right?”
Osric nodded and brought up more documents, including the plans for the yet-to-be-built mall. “Correct, and if you keep this up, Jay, I might even let you look after Albie for the weekend. It seems that Redmaine Construction has a little competition in town.”
Osric highlighted several properties on the map, and then overlaid the mall’s plans. “The houses marked in red were owned by the hostages. They were bought at a knock-down price by a property company called Dawbrookes Consulting.”
There was a look of realization on Misha’s face. “Effectively scuppering dear old Phil. I bet he’d sell his mother to get his hands on those properties.”
Osric nodded. “I don’t know about selling mommy dearest but Phil’s shelled out four million dollars so far to get hold of them.”
Jared taped out a staccato rhythm on the desk with a pen. “Someone inside the bank found out about the mall. So they started a little business venture of their own, cherry picking the most valuable properties to dear old Phil.” He pointed at the screen. “They made sure the properties were empty by foreclosing on the mortgages. Mr Williams steps in and sells the empty homes to Dawbrookes to recoup the mortgages. Then in turn, Dawbrookes offers to sell the houses quietly to Redmaine for a huge profit. And whoever is behind it is probably taking kickbacks, ensuring the whole process of clearing the site goes smoothly, and relatively cheaply.”
Misha pulled a disgusted face. “Sleazy, but kind of impressive. Do you know who’s behind it?” he asked Osric.
Jared scratched the back of his neck. "If I was a betting man, I'd put good money on Ted. His wardrobe is way too high end for a small-town bank manager. Prada reading glasses? Someone has expensive tastes.”
Osric nodded. “I’m with Jay about that. Ted is perfectly placed. Not only is he the bank manager, he also sits on the town council. He’d get to know about any prospective developments in town. I’ll have a poke round in Ted’s dirty online laundry. I’ll get back to you soon.”
Misha was staring at the screens. “What if Ryan found out about the scam, and he’s in there trying to find evidence? Joshua and Frank could be part of the plan to keep us busy. Maybe the other hostages are in on it as well,” he mused out loud.
Jared shrugged, “It’s possible that’s what’s happening, and they’re in there, trying to find evidence of a crime against them.” Jared stared at the list of names again; he could appreciate the desperation that had driven these people to do this. Then he sighed in frustration. “But if that’s the case, why did Frank attack Jensen? It just doesn’t make any sense. The last thing they’d want is for us to go blasting in, to save Jensen. Why risk it?” As Jared looked back up at the screen, he couldn’t help but think they were overlooking something important.
As Jensen listened to his friends talking in Ops, he approached the door and tried the handle. Much to his surprise it turned. “Getting sloppy there, Frank. At least I don’t have to pick the lock.” Jensen slowly pulled the door open, risking a quick glance into the corridor. It appeared to be empty. Jensen opened the door farther, and waited a moment. When he didn’t hear movement he stepped out into the corridor, and closed the door behind him.
He turned left and headed back towards the lobby, his ears straining for the sound of footsteps that would herald either Frank or Joshua, approaching. As Jensen entered the lobby, he considered his options. He could go to the manager’s office where he’d heard the sounds of searching. Or he could head towards Doug’s office, where he’d caught a glimpse of a man seated on the floor. Jensen went with his gut and headed towards Doug’s office.
Once again he checked over his shoulder, and saw the corridor was still empty. Jensen decided not to push his luck any further, and quickened his pace. He reached the office, opened the door and stepped inside. Jensen came to a sudden halt, as he saw the man he’d been hoping to find. “Ryan?” Jensen said softly as he closed the door behind him.
Ryan Mitchell was sitting on the floor, his hands tied in front of with him with a zip tie. He seemed shocked to see Jensen standing there. “Holy shit! Who the hell are you?”
Jensen gave the man a crooked grin. “Would you believe I’m the cavalry?” Jensen said as he walked over to Ryan, and knelt beside him.
“If you’re the cavalry, then we’re in trouble.” Ryan frowned at Jensen’s blood-stained appearance. “I take it Frank decided to make you feel at home, right?”
Jensen laughed. “Yeah, this was his idea of a house-warming gift.” Jensen saw Ryan’s bound wrists. “How come you didn’t bust your way out of that? I’d have thought a zip tie would’ve been nothing for a marine.” Jensen said as he stood up, and looked around for something to cut the tie with.
Ryan shrugged. “Well, I’m not exactly alone in here,” Jensen wondered what Ryan was talking about, then realized there was someone else in the office with them. Cowering in the corner of the room was a man, who cut a rather rumpled figure. “Doug Eckhart?” Jensen asked and Ryan nodded. Doug was sweating profusely, staining his suit jacket. He looked terrified but unharmed.
“I wouldn’t cry too much over Doug getting hurt, but Frank’s been threatening the others in here. I like them a hell of lot more than I like Doug, plus Joshua is my wife’s godfather. Believe me, if I got Joshua hurt, I’d never hear the end of it. You don’t ever want to cross a pregnant woman,” Ryan said, shaking his head.
Jensen found a letter opener on Doug’s desk, and headed back to Ryan, freeing the former marine in seconds. “Is that why you’ve spent the afternoon talking to my colleague Misha?” Ryan nodded. “I suppose you didn’t come here to rob the bank today, then?” Jensen asked with a smile.
“Rob this place? Hell, no. I came here to beg Doug to give us an extension on the foreclosure. But that jackass told me, we’d had all the chances he could afford to give us.” Ryan glared at Doug, and the man curled even further into the corner.
“It’s nothing personal, Ryan, but you were too far behind with your mortgage.” Doug whined.
“Like hell we were. You kept hiking the payments until we couldn’t afford them any longer, you damn crook.” Ryan shouted, and Jensen put a restraining hand on his arm. Ryan glanced nervously at the door.
Suddenly Jared was talking to him in a very calm voice. “So, is this your idea of being a good boy? You know I’ll stay put, and do as I’m told.” Jensen rolled his eyes and ignored his friend, deciding to play a hunch. He’d heard the talk about the town being conned, and now he was certain why the manager’s office was being ransacked. “Mr Eckhart, actually, can I call you Doug?” Jensen smiled as the nervous man nodded. ”Ok then, Doug, how do you feel about spending the next twenty years in a federal prison?”