Chapter 10: Trapped in the Dark
The light flickered in the room Catherine and her son had been taken to. Catherine sat down in the corner on the far side with her legs stretched out in front of her. Jacob was lying on her lap, half curled into a ball. The room was chilly and Catherine had her arms wrapped around her son to try to keep him warm, wishing she hadn't worn a short-sleeved shirt.
"What gonna happen to us?" Jacob asked as he looked up with fear in his eyes.
"I don't know, baby, but we must be brave," she told him. "No matter what happens promise me. Do you understand?"
"Yeth Mommy," Jacob said.
Gathering her son closer to her, Catherine gently rocked him. She knew these men would try to take her child away from her. Looking down at him, Catherine started to sing her mother's lullaby in an attempt to calm him.
Sleep my pretty one,
Rest now my pretty one
Close your eyes
The day is nearly done
Rest your head
Tomorrow will surely come
Jacob curled closer to his mother. Catherine knew by his steady breathing that he was asleep. Catherine sighed and scanned the room they were in.
After the men had placed Catherine and her son in the van they were taken to an old abandoned warehouse on the east side. Then they had tossed them into this small room. It had once been painted grey and was now faded and peeling. The floor was solid concrete and very uncomfortable. There was also a small wire framed bed with an old, soiled mattress. And of course there was a video camera attached to the corner of the wall, watching Catherine's every move.
Catherine glared at the camera in utter disgust. Whoever these men were obviously had connections with Gabriel. She didn't even bother when they had her remove her disguise. There was no point in wearing it if they knew who she was. Catherine then looked down at the sleeping form in her lap. After three years of wondering what had become of her son, believing him to be in the clutched of that monster, and now she was about to lose him again.
"No!" Catherine said mostly to herself. "I won't lose him again." Looking back at the camera, Catherine stared at it with a look that could pierce iron. "You here me? You're going to have to kill me before you take my son away!"
"I believe we already did, Miss Chandler. Apparently a cat should envy your luck." The voice Catherine heard over the monitor sent a chill up Catherine's spin. Then an eerie chuckling was heard before it spoke again. "I see you remember me."
"Jonathan Pope, Gabriel's right hand man," Catherine sneered. "I heard you were in jail."
"And I heard you were pulled out of the Hudson River and buried six feet under, but we don't always get what we want, do we? Anyway, it was the boss who staged you're death. He saw the look on your face when you fled the building that night and how you ran."
"I left to protect my family," Catherine retorted. "Gabriel already had my son, I was not about to let him harm anyone else I love. But it looks like Gabriel wasn't exactly Father of the Year."
"So the kid got sick. Look at him now; he may be healthy but he looks like a filthy street urchin. You think he's better off? Ha! If your beast hadn't taken Julian, he'd be living like a prince, with the finest of everything money can buy."
"His name is Jacob," Catherine argued, "and even as a baby he knew that love was far greater than money and power." Catherine was only answered with Pope's disbelieving laughter. Then another thought came to her mind.
"If Gabriel knew where I was all this time, why didn't he…"
"Have you recaptured or killed?" Pope interrupted. "Now that was the plan, but when we found you, you weren't posing any threat. So Gabriel decided that as long as you stayed away, you'd be left alone. But then our informant calls and tells us that you and your daughter have disappeared. We already planned on taking the boy back that day in the park, but you had to show up and change all our plans."
"If only you stayed in Connecticut, then you would have been left alone." The new voice turned Catherine's blood to ice and sent her heart racing. Only one person could do that. The door to her prison cell had opened and there stood the man who haunted her nightmares.
Catherine's eyes went wide. "Gabriel!"
Between two armed men stood Gabriel as he stared down at her with his empty, emotionless eyes. Everything about him was the same as Catherine remembered, except the left side of his face had three long scars.
"Ms. Chandler, you seem surprised," Gabriel said in a cold voice. "Did you honestly believe I would remain imprisoned? You can rule the world from a prison cell. When one of my contacts informed me that my son was found I had Pope arrange my... release. It's quite remarkable how police are easily fooled during an explosion. All they need is the prisoner's uniform and a body."
Gabriel signaled for to one of his men to enter the room. Catherine tightened her grip on her son, making Gabriel chuckle.
"There's no use resisting the inevitable, Ms. Chandler. My son and I have been separated long enough; it's time for him to come home. Yet there is still the matter of the girl to discuss. Once Julian is settled, I'll send my men back to find out where she is."
As Gabriel's bodyguard drew closer Catherine drew herself up. When she did not hand over her son, the man tried to take him by force. He made a grab for Jacob, who woke when the man grabbed him and started screaming. Catherine maternal instincts kicked into overdrive as she and Jacob desperately clung to each other.
Gabriel became irritated and sent his other man in. He was larger than the first and grabbed a hold of Catherine, allowing his partner to wrench Jacob from Catherine's arms. Catherine struggled against the larger man's grip as she watched in horror as her son was taken, screaming, toward Gabriel. She screamed and tried to free herself, but the larger man managed to take one hand off her and slug Catherine right in the jaw.
Jacob watched as his mother stumbled after the blow and screamed even harder. He thrashed about but he could not free himself. When they were about three feet away from the doorway Jacob surprised the man by leaning his head forward and biting his captor's forearm.
Unprepared, the man yelled and released Jacob, but the boy was firmly latched on. He shook his arm and pulled on the Jacob's collar to detach the boy from his arm. But the boy was latched on with vice-like grip. The guard howled in pain before he was finally able to pry Jacob off. The guard threw Jacob to the ground and cradled his wounded arm. Meanwhile Jacob had landed on his knees, but quickly sprang to his feet straight toward Catherine.
Gabriel was disappointed at the weakness of his hired men, especially when the second lost his grip on Catherine. He had become distracted when his partner cried out, giving Catherine the opportunity to thrust her elbow into his ribs. He immediately let her go and Catherine ran toward her son. She gathered the crying boy in her arms and started rocking him.
"Enough!" Gabriel ordered and signaled his men back to him. Both men were apprehensive for demonstrating such weakness in front of their boss. They approached with caution.
Gabriel's voice lacked any sign of emotion, but his cold eyes showed depths of rage. "How is it that two of my men cannot control a petite woman and a toddler!?"
"The brat bit me, boss," was the first man's excuse. He was still clutching his arm where Jacob had bit him. The other man couldn't speak since due to the fact he had the wind knocked out of him.
Gabriel scowled at their weakness and incompetence, but then he noticed the first man's sleeve. It was tinged red; blood was seeping through the material. Gabriel reached out and removed the man's hand. There he saw the blood and tiny puncture marks. There was something sticking out at an angle in one of the marks. Gabriel removed the object and brought it closer to his eyes. It was a small, fanged tooth. Gabriel's eyes shifted over where Catherine held Jacob. He saw a small amount of blood on the boy's mouth. This peeked Gabriel's interest greatly.
"We shall return for my son in an hour." Gabriel turned to have his men follow him out. "And Ms. Chandler, I expect no resistance from you next time. It would not be in his best interests otherwise."
The door slammed shut leaving Catherine and her son alone once again. Jacob was crying and Catherine held him closer.
"You OK, Mommy?" Jacob asked when he calmed down.
"I'm alright," she assured him, "but what about you? Did that man hurt you?"
"No, I bite him," Jacob proudly stated.
"You bit him?" Catherine looked closer at her son's mouth and noticed the little spot of blood around Jacob's mouth. When she asked Jacob to open his mouth, Catherine first noticed Jacob's canines were sharp like Rosie's. However, the top left one was missing. Catherine worried about how this would affect Jacob, but she pushed that thought aside for now. She was just happy that he hadn't been hurt. She then wiped his mouth with her thumb to clear away the blood. When she was done Catherine saw the tears in her son's eyes.
"I don't wanna go," Jacob cried. He then buried his face into her shirt, clinging tightly.
Catherine wrapped her arms more tightly around her son. "I won't let them. No one is ever taking you from me again. But, Jacob, if they somehow managed to separate us, I want you to be brave." Turning him away from the cameras, Catherine spoke in a low voice. "Sweetie, do you know the Pipe Code?"
Jacob nodded his head.
"Good. Now, if we get separated, I want you to get to any pipes that you can and call for help. Think you can do that?"
"Yeth Mommy but I no go. I stay wif you." He snuggled into her arms, nuzzling her chest with his check. Catherine smiled and held her son tighter.
The van Tasha managed to rent was large and spacious, with tinted windows. Vincent found there was plenty of room for him in the back if he knelt on his knees. Although now his position was becoming very uncomfortable. For the past twenty minutes he had tried to focus on his connection with Jacob, giving Tasha and Peter directions from where the Bond pulled him. A few minutes ago he had felt a spike in the connection that produced a small roar from Vincent to turn left.
"Hey, I hope that means we getting any closer," Tasha stated as she made the turn.
"I cannot be sure. Jacob has calmed down now, but he is still quite upset. The connection is so faint… Take the next right."
"Damn it!" Tasha cried as she almost hit a car while dashing to change lanes, just barely making the right turn. "More focus, less pity-party, okay Puss? Hey!" turning her eyes to the road and furiously honking her horn, "Out of the way you friggin, stupid student driver!"
Vincent was uneasy about her comment. Tasha had been surprisingly calm about Vincent's appearance. When he first entered the van from the back alleyway. He had tried to duck quickly into the back so he would not to be seen. When they started out Tasha took five minutes to convince Vincent to quite hiding in the shadows. Oddly enough, Tasha had a similar reaction to Vincent's appearance that Rosie had.
Although Tasha's impression of him had an entirely different context. In fact her exact words were: "Helllllloooo Kitty!" her tone turning suggestive "Where's this big, sexy jungle beast been hiding? To bad I left my whip at home." Tasha had given him a little wink. Peter chuckled, thinking Vincent had never been so red in his life.
Drawing himself back to the task at hand Vincent directed Tasha through traffic until they ended up on the east side. They were close to the waterfront, and Vincent had to put all his effort into concentrating on Jacob. Suddenly, Vincent told Tasha to stop and she slammed on the brakes.
"What is it Vincent?" Peter asked.
"There…" Vincent pointed to a large warehouse at the end of the waterfront. Using his binoculars Peter spotted a shady looking man standing in front of the door. He could also see quite a few cameras. "That's were Jacob is being held."
"Oh, that's just peachy. And how do you suppose we get in?" Tasha asked in an irritated tone. "Say we're deliver an extra-large pepperoni with extra cheese?"
"There's no need for sarcasm," Peter gently chastised her.
"Stop this, both of you," Vincent spoke over them. "Arguing won't help Jacob. What we need is a plan." Vincent paused to mull things over. "From what I remember from my last encounter, Gabriel kept at least ten guards on every level, all heavily armed. Every floor has a security camera, excluding the surveillance room. Jacob would be held somewhere above ground but close enough to provide an escape from the ground floor and the roof."
"Well, that really narrows it down." They all remained quiet for a moment until Tasha nearly sprung out of her seat. "Oh wow, I'm so stupid!"
"What is it?" Peter asked.
"Duh! My aunt taught me how to hack into a security system when I was eight. If I can find the circuit breaker, I can mess with the cameras long enough to for us to sneak in."
"And how do you suggest we handle the guards?" Vincent asked. "These men will be heavily armed. I cannot protect both of you and Gabriel would threaten Jacob's life if it comes to it."
"Calm down, Vince, I thought about that. Look, Gabriel will be expecting a rescue from you, but he won't be expecting any assistance. Besides, I've got…shall we say…a little surprise."
"I'm afraid I don't follow," Peter said.
"I didn't want to worry you guys, but truth is I've been followed ever since I left the D.A.'s office."
"WHAT!?" Peter and Vincent yelled in unison.
"Yeah, that Maxwell didn't like my answers, so he's been tailing me to find out my connection to the burglary and kidnapping. Please, do you honestly think I'd allow myself to be followed? Ha! I was raised by two former CIA agents and a Marine."
"Why didn't you say anything before?" Vincent demanded.
"Because I knew you'd panic, like you're doing now." She smirked. Vincent was not amused.
While this was going on, Joe Maxwell had just parked his car one hundred feet from his target. He was getting really frustrated that this woman was making so many stops. First she'd picked up Doctor Alcott at a homeless shelter, and then they'd gone to Central Park. From there they went to a car dealership to rent a van. Once in the van they stopped in an alleyway on Fifth Avenue, where Joe swore he saw a dark figure leap into the back of the van. Now they drove all the way to some random warehouse? This was becoming a wild goose chase.
One way or another Joe was going to get some answers. Making sure his gun was loaded, Joe got out of his car and proceeded to the van. To his surprise his suspect got out of the car and walked over toward him, rather quickly he noticed. He rolled down his window.
"All right, Ms. Lockhart, I think it’s time you start explaining a few thing," Joe demanded.
"Just keep your panties on," Tasha said with a hint of annoyance. "Look, usually I'm not so nice toward stalkers, but since you're with the D.A. I'll overlook it. Now, can we discuss this in a more private area?" She inclined her head toward the warehouse where the security had yet to notice them.
Seeing the guard, Joe nodded and followed Tasha into a nearby alley before questioning her again.
"Now tell me what is going on, and don't weasel out of it. I know you're withholding information involving the break in at Alcott's place. Not to mention I've been chasing you all over New York. So start talking?"
"Cute, you're doing 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' routine." Tasha smirked. "Look here Maxi, this is way over your head, but, lucky for you, we do need your help. I just got one question: you ready to re-open the Chandler Case?"
Joe's eyes went wide. It had been three and a half years since he worked on the Chandler Case, ever since it ended with Cathy's murder and the disappearance of her baby. Her death had devastated him. Not only was she a good friend, but he did have feelings for her. Then learning she'd had a baby… that had set him over the edge. He knew Catherine had been seeing someone, but she never let on as to who the guy was. When she turned up dead, Joe swore to find her baby. Joe was still trying to wrap his brain around how Gabriel managed to get the baby out of the mansion when the S.W.A.T. team had had the whole mansion surrounded.
"That's a cold case. Catherine Chandler was murdered and the man who did it is rotting in jail." But his curiosity was peeked. "Why? What's your connection to that case?"
"Boy, did they have you pegged." Tasha chuckled. "I mean did you even see the body?"
"No. My former boss, John Moreno, attended the autopsy, but what's that got to do with it?"
"And you trusted him? Wasn't Moreno the guy who sold Cathy out to Gabriel in the first place?" she stated more than asked.
Joe was stunned. This woman was telling him brand new information that he had never considered before.
"But the doctor had a match to her dental records and her blood type," Joe pointed out.
"Sorry to tell you, Maxi, but you got royally screwed over. That doc was on ol' Gabe's payroll like Moreno; he faked the whole thing."
Joe's eyes widened as he took this in. How could he have been so blind? After Moreno was killed they'd found records of numerous accounts of times he helped Gabriel and other scum Joe and Cathy had worked so hard to put away. The thought made Joe's blood boil but one thing still bothered him.
"And just how do you know all this? Why should I believe anything you say?"
"One, because you know what kind of power Gabriel had over others," Tasha said calmly and sternly. "And two, because you know I'm telling the truth, and I'm asking you for your help."
Joe sighed. He knew she was right and, really, what else could he do? He still wanted to know what connection this whole thing had to Catherine Chandler, but he was going to find out. Even if that meant he was willing to go along with whatever crazy plan she had in mind. Joe reached out his hand to Tasha.
"Glad to have ya on board, Maxi," Tasha shook his hand. Now that all the players were in place, Tasha had to think of a way to save Catherine and Jacob, without getting them all killed. After all, she was pretty much making this up as she went, but she wasn't going to tell the others that.
Damn, this is gonna be one hell of a party, she thought, I hope Fate and Lady Luck decided to show up, cause we're gonna need 'em.