Briggs followed the minivan with intensity. He hoped that Paige was smart enough to keep the cell phone tracker. He knew she was.
The van got off the highway and Briggs took the exit as well. There were very few cars around, and he thought that his truck might be suspicious to the van driver, but he couldn't risk losing Paige. He knew that she was finding comfort in the fact that he was right behind her.
When the van turned down a dirt road though, he knew he couldn't tail them any longer. He stopped just past the turn and waited about five minutes before making a U-turn and continuing the tail.
He followed the road for a mile or so and was relieved to see the van parked at what looked like an out-of-use factory. He turned back around, not wanting to be seen, and parked the truck off to the side of the field.
He noticed that part of the compound was fenced in, but on his side, from the front of the building, there weren't any watch-towers or barriers. He needed to call in a team, but he needed to stay with Paige. "C'mon Mike," he said to himself throwing his head back, "make it happen."
Charlie carried Jessie into her room and sat her down on the bed. She smiled when she saw that Paige's blanket was mixed in with the sheets. "Do you want to bring the blanket in the car?" Charlie asked her.
Jessie nodded and reached behind her to grab it.
"Good, you hold onto it." Charlie grabbed her hoodie and helped her put it on. "You're going to have to wear your old shoes, ok?" Charlie got her a pair of socks and put the sneakers next to her on the bed.
"I don't always wear these ones," Jessie said to her.
"No?" Charlie asked, curious as to what she meant.
"The FBI guys found them."
Charlie thought she knew what Jessie was trying to say. "Well, I guess when you play inside all day, you don't have to wear shoes, right?" She kept her tone playful, but the girl's comment was pulling at her heart.
Jessie picked up the shoes and put them on slowly.
Charlie looked into her eyes. "Are you sure you want to go find Paul and Paige?"
Jessie just stared at her.
"We are going to try to get to them before the bad guys get there, ok? But I don't know how far away they are right now."
Jessie nodded. "We can go," she repeated softly.
Charlie took a breath and picked her up. "Maybe we should pack some snacks..."
They made their way back downstairs to the kitchen and Charlie put some water bottles and snacks into a grocery bag. She grabbed a jacket for herself and walked out to the driveway with Jessie in her arms. The girl was still clutching Paige's blanket, holding it in a tight ball up against her chest.
Charlie unlocked the car and Jessie climbed into the backseat of the sedan. The woman buckled her in and laid the blanket across her lap.
She shook her head as she started the car, still doubting her actions. Paige was going to be furious, but what choice did she have?
When Johnny and Carlito got to the nightclub, the bouncer stepped aside to grant them access. Carlito led them over to a reserved table on an elevated part of the dance floor.
Johnny took notice of the overpriced liquor and the men already sitting and waiting for them to arrive. They stood up when Carlito gestured to them. Johnny nodded to greet them.
"Johnny will be joining us this evening," Carlito said to them. He poured himself and Johnny two shots each.
Johnny reluctantly drank with the group. He hoped that the alcohol would help him get the courage to confront Carlito about the pickup.
"Your new recruit, Carlito?" one of the men asked. "The feds are watching me, I can't..."
"Ahhh, Johnny is..." Carlito said, "a friend." He looked at Johnny. "We are still gaining trust, no?"
Johnny stared into his eyes. "I trust you, Carlito."
"But you trust in fear." Carlito stood up and took a step towards the dance floor.
Johnny jumped to his feet. "I'm not afraid of you."
Carlito halted and turned on his heels to face Johnny. "I will talk to you outside."
Johnny thought that they were going out the exit by the bathroom, but was taken by surprise when Carlito pulled him into a vacant storage closet.
Carlito slammed Johnny back into the wall. "What do you know? You dare say you are not afraid of me. You do not know what I'm capable of, Johnny." His hold was aggressive, but his eyes were searching.
"Let me come on the pick up." He saw Carlito hesitate. "I want to show you that you can trust me." Johnny nodded at him and didn't break his eye contact.
Carlito changed his tone. He licked his top lip and put his hand on the wall beside Johnny's head.
Johnny couldn't process what was happening fast enough. He repeated over and over to himself that he was undercover. If Carlito was making a move on him, he needed to follow along.
He tried to imagine what Paige would do in this situation. Or Charlie. He smirked, somewhat in disbelief, when he realized how he should react to Carlito's body language.
"Come with me," Johnny said. He doubted Carlito was often accepting of someone else giving him an order, but he needed this to happen. He leaned his head forward, off of the wall as if to tempt him. "Just you and me," he said.
Carlito kissed Johnny's lips with a fever. "I like the sound of that, Johnny."
Mike waited patiently with the TAC team at a construction site about half a mile from the bus garage. They were watching the movements at the garage closely, and were just waiting for one more person to leave before they went back to set up their surveillance.
He looked down at his phone. There was a text from Johnny: "It worked. See you soon."
"Ok," Mike yelled to the team, "plan is a go. We move out in ten."
Johnny led Carlito back out to the dance floor.
He could tell that Carlito was drunk, but he didn't care. He still couldn't process that he had kissed a man, but he didn't care. He had arranged the pick-up, and that was all that mattered.
Two of the guys from their reserved table joined them near the bar.
"So you going to the pick-up, or what?"
Johnny smiled at him and grew a bit taller. "You're Joseph Barone, right? Carlito's told me about you." Johnny knew that Carlito couldn't hear what he was saying over the loud music.
"And yet, he has never mentioned you..." Barone replied with some cheek.
Johnny ignored his implication. "I heard you mention that the feds are watching you."
Barone reached towards the bar. "Do you see me in prison, Johnny?"
Johnny's fist was itching, but he shook his head and smiled at the man. "Anything I need to know about the pick-up?"
"The garage will have it arranged," he said. He took a shot of tequila.
Johnny looked around for Carlito, but realized that he had gone back to their table.
"Hey," Johnny said to Barone, leaning his head into the side of the man's head, "I heard you had some trouble with your kid. Everything good?"
Johnny watched as the man's body tensed. Barone took hold of the tequila bottle with an enraged fist, and for a second, Johnny thought he might slam it to the ground. "Johnny, we sadly live in an era where our government kidnaps children."
Johnny nodded his head. He was glad that he was starting to feel tipsy from the drinks Carlito gave him earlier. It gave him some emotional strength. "Kidnapping?" Johnny said, hoping that he sounded dumbfounded enough.
"Oh, don't worry," Barone said to him. He tapped his index finger against Johnny's chest. "I will be getting her back. And when she tells me who kept her away from me all this time... I will murder them."
The man in the cowboy hat dragged Paige into the compound. She tried to hide her smile...
She had seen Briggs' truck in the rearview mirror during their drive. She was certain that there would be a team on standby within the hour.
Fear took control though, when she recognized the man who met them at a second entranceway. It was the man who had given Jessie the anxiety attack, who was responsible for burning her. His handprint was marked into her side as a constant reminder of Katia's traumatic departure – the man from the picture in the folder.
"Let's go, pretty." He reached out and aggressively claimed Paige.
Paige pulled away from him on instinct when he dug his nails into her forearm.
"Oh..." he said laughing. "A fighter? I already have too many of those." He snapped his fingers and the two men who had driven Paige to the warehouse took hold of her and forcefully carried her to a small white room.
They threw her onto the ground to leave her with the man... what did Mike say his name was? Sollan? Sullen?
"Come back for the camera in five minutes," he said to one of the guards.
"Yes, Sulla," the guard replied.
Sulla. That was it. That was the name Mike had mentioned.
"Take off your clothes."
"I know nothing," Paige said. She was getting nervous. She felt so naked already without her gun, but had the phone tucked into a pocket on the inside seam of her shorts.
"Off!" Sulla screamed. He kicked her in the side and she reluctantly slid her shirt over her head.
Paige did her best to hide herself while he took the photos. His demeanor only made her stronger. Her motivation to take him on was unparalleled. It only occurred to her in that moment that Katia might be somewhere within the compound.
"Do you want to lie down?" Charlie looked into the backseat at a sleepy Jessie. It was getting dark out and according to her GPS, she still had another few miles before she would catch up to the tracking device.
They had been driving for a couple of hours; much longer than Charlie had anticipated. She knew that they were still somewhat close to the bus station though, which was just north of Sylmar.
Jessie nodded at her and managed to lie on her side in the backseat of the car without unbuckling her seatbelt. Charlie looked into the rearview mirror and smiled when she saw the girl snuggle into Paige's blanket.
"We're almost there, ok?"
Jessie yawned. "Ok," she said softly.
Charlie's phone alerted her of her next turn, and she followed a dimly lit dirt road. She hit the brakes when she spotted Briggs' truck.
She turned onto the grass and drove up next to him. She saw him sitting patiently in the driver's seat and he turned to look at her when she shut off her engine.
Charlie leaned forward, to look past him at Paige, but no one else was in the car. She realized that the team hadn't even started setting up yet. It had taken her longer to find Briggs than she had expected, and she was sure that the team would have gotten there by now.
Briggs stepped out of his truck and opened Charlie's passenger door, sliding in to sit next to her in the front of the sedan.
"Where is Paige, Paul?"
Briggs sighed. "I don't know what went down at the last bus stop, but-"
"Where is Paige?" Her voice was getting angrier. "And what happened to the tinker bell?"
He closed his eyes. "Paige... is the tinker bell."
Charlie was speechless.
"My phone's dead. I couldn't even call it in."
"This... This is bad, Paul."
He raised his voice at her. "This is not my fault." He pointed his finger at the compound. "SHE made the decision to go under without ANY conformation whatsoever, and I-"
"Where's Paige?" The voice was soft and dripping with innocence.
Briggs could hear little movements behind him. Charlie recoiled and he snapped his head around to look at the backseat of the car.
"You didn't," he said to Charlie.
"Clarke said that Sid is assigned to back up the team tonight if this got called in," Charlie explained. Briggs could hear the tremors in her voice. "What- what, Paul, was I supposed to do?!"
"Where's Paige?" Jessie asked again. Charlie could tell she had only heard pieces of their conversation as she drifted in and out of sleep.
Briggs reached back and ran his hand across the girl's forehead. "She is helping save some very scared people."
Jessie nodded, satisfied with his answer, and cuddled into the blanket, closing her eyes once more.
"Give me your phone." Briggs turned back to look at Charlie.
"But Sid is-"
"I know," he said. "It's perfect."