The hospital was the last place Jack saw himself going willingly, but here he was. He was armed with nothing but the instructions in his coat pocket, the vials, and the cell phone shoved into his pants. It wasn’t enough, but it was more than enough.
Walking to the ER intake window, he was pleased to see Edith sitting there, reading over her glasses. She looked up at him with a raised brow and he waved a bit, feeling a bit awkward. She didn’t seem overly impressed and went back to what she was doing.
“Melanie is up on three. Use the main entrance.”
“I’m not looking for Mel,” he replied.
“Are you bleeding?”
“Are you dying?”
“Then you clearly don’t need anything from me.”
“But I do. There was a man here looking for me earlier. I need to get in touch with him. It’s important.”
“Right,” she replied, looking like she really didn’t care what he wanted.
“So you said. And Melanie said she’d give me her Marscake recipe if I kept the secret.”
He really had to figure out what this cake was all about. It seemed o be pretty coveted.
“She’ll still give it to you, I promise,” Jack wheedled, going for charming. From the unimpressed look, he was sure he didn’t get the expression across.
But seeing as how he was just standing there and she wasn’t going to get rid of him until he got what he wanted, she pulled a business card out of her stack of paperwork and pushed it under the window for him.
“Detective Seamus Williams?” he asked, thinking that was worse than picking something as lame as James Dean.
“Mmmhmm. Looked more like a Boris or Feodor to me,” Edith agreed, which would have startled a laugh out of him if the situation hadn’t been so dire.
“Me too. I owe you, Edith.”
“Don’t get yourself locked up and I’m sure we’ll be even.”
He didn’t figure that there was a chance for that, so he merely nodded and walked out of the ER. He was on the street before he pulled the phone out and stopped to dial the number on the card. It rang four times before it was finally answered.
The voice was definitely that of Boris, which was definitely a plus. He so hated playing phone tag with receptionists.
“You’re looking for me.”
“You pulled quite the disappearing act, Dean. Moira would have killed you if you hadn’t though.”
“How is Moira?”
“Her leg is fractured. She’s in a walking cast and miserable because of it, so thank you for that, Doc.”
Jack would have bowed, but he thought it was wasted on the milling masses on the street.
“You callin’ for a reason?”
“Yeah. I want this to be over.”
“You name the place and I’ll come get you. It’ll be over in five minutes.”
Jack tried to force as much tiredness into his voice as he could when replied. “Okay. Pick me up at King’s County as soon as possible. I’ll be outside the ER doors.”
The phone disconnected and Jack put his away. Now that the ball was in motion, he couldn’t help but think that this was it. It was either the greatest decision he’d ever made, or the worst. Only time would tell, and he had the feeling he wouldn’t be around to see how it all turned out.
Boris didn’t take too long to get there. Jack probably only waited a few minutes before a black SUV – and really, did they not have red or blue in the spy world? He would have even taken white or orange – pulled up on the curb. Boris climbed out of the passenger seat and made his way around to where Jack was standing, as if he hadn’t thought the other man would be stupid enough to be there, so he had to check it out with his own eyes. For his part, Jack stood still and allowed the bull of a man to inspect him. It was only after he’d made sure all of Jack had come to the party that Boris seemed to relax slightly.
“Well, I didn’t think you’d actually be here,” he offered. “You do know this is a bad decision, right, Doc?”
“I do. I’m done with this. I’m sick of running.”
“I get that. Now, hike your ass into the car.”
Boris threw the door open and Jack meekly climbed in, glancing at where there was another guy he didn’t recognize sitting in the back, along with an equally unmemorable driver. Boris made sure the door was tightly shut behind him and rounded the SUV again. Once he was inside, he turned in his seat to level Jack with a look.
“Where’s the package?”
“In my pocket,” he replied, pulling it out to show him that it was true.
“Where’s the book?”
“You’d better not have,” Boris threatened.
“I didn’t need it. It seemed ridiculous to have the information stored in so many places,” Jack replied mildly. “It now only exists in my head.”
With is current memory issues, he hoped to hell that the story was fabricated. If he was the only record of the information then it was just gone.
“Told you he would do something stupid,” nameless guy in the back offered.
“Shut up, Joey,” Boris growled. “You will recreate the weapon. If it isn’t ready in two days, you won’t like the consequences.”
Jack refrained from rolling his eyes, mainly just because it could be seen as childish. He didn’t need to sink to their level, after all. Boris seemed to think that he’d gotten his point across and turned around in his seat, watching like a hawk as the driver meandered through the traffic. That was the thing about New York City. It didn’t matter what time of day it was, there was always an awful amount of traffic to contend with. It was probably for the best that he didn’t personally drive, even if it did bring up the curiosity as to whether he actually did know how to drive. This was not the time to ask, however. He was sure Boris was about ready to knock him over the head for a smart comment. He had a few in mind, but if he was going to do this, he needed to have his wits about him, as it were. Trying to rig this machine to blow with a chunk of his side missing and a bad headache starting behind his eyes really wasn’t his idea of a good time.
It felt like it took forever, but they finally made it to the gang’s super secret hideout. It was a small rental space in Manhattan, clearly keeping close to his office. They’d probably been there since they began observing him. It was sound reasoning, but it did make him wonder that age old question – where was a cop when you needed one? Thirty seconds inside their building and some flat foot could have the entire cell torn down in a matter of moments. Instead, Jack had invested his life into making that possible. Oh, what a world.
Boris still felt that Jack was ready to make a break for it, seeing as how he opened the other man’s door again and helped Jack from his seat rather forcefully. His arm was gripped tightly all the way inside the decrepit looking space. He imagined the building had been a shop at some point, like a Dollar Store or a spirits’ shop. Either way, it was lacking the honest living feel now. The space was full of tables with all sorts of scattered papers on them. The people working with the papers were all younger, looking more like chic execs than actual terrorists. He would have never guessed they were up to anything naughty had he not been in on what was really going on. There were pieces of metal, soldering tools, and many odd gadgets hanging around, but Jack didn’t have a lot of time to examine them.
No, he was too busy being manhandled into the back room. At first he wasn’t all that sure what he was looking at, but from the way Boris shoved him towards it, Jack caught on pretty fast that this was the his workshop. It looked like something out of Star Trek fused with a scene from Contagion. Jack honestly didn’t know what to make of it. He had his very own clean room with fridges and autoclaves. But it was the box labelled “Explosives” that got his attention. It was off to the side of the lab and looked more like a weapon’s case than anything holding TNT. He was sure that the first bomb, the one that they’d rethought and decided to go with biological terrorism, was in that box. He knew how to trigger it, he had instructions in his pocket, but he didn’t know how much help they were going to be, now that he could see the thing up close and personal. He’d have to learn fairly quickly, though. If he didn’t, well, he supposed it was going to be a short and less than satisfying trip.
“Well. Get to it.”
Jack glanced over at Boris with an eyebrow raised. “I’m finding it very hard to believe that there’s no one else in this building who knows how to make this thing work.”
“Stop playing around. You know that it was only you and Doc Tate who understood this, and Doc Tate ain’t with us no more.”
Jack hadn’t known that part. He had assumed that whoever he’d been working with had a change of heart and ran for it while he still could. To hear that someone was dead over this thing was a bit disheartening.
“You killed him?” Jack asked, wanting to know what he could be on the lookout for if Boris should feel Jack needed to be taken out, too.
“Me? Nah. The old grouch had a stroke and then you took off the same day,” Boris replied, crowding in on him again. “But I coulda taken him out. You remember that, Doc. No funny business.”
Jack doubted that Boris would catch on if there was any funny business happening. He didn’t come off as having a large number of brain cells, after all. But he did have a large number of muscles that Jack was going to have to be on the lookout for. No smart comments, no witty remarks. It would all have to be simple English and slow movements.
As for this doctor, Tate, Jack had the sneaking suspicion that the stroke was no accident. It was just too coincidental. He didn’t believe in coincidences.
“Gotcha. No funny business,” Jack replied.
“Good. Now, get ta work.”
Boris only retreated so he was leaning against the wall. Jack didn’t like being watched, but he supposed that was all the leeway he was allowed after taking off on the cell in the first place. He made his way into the clean lab, thinking he should have been wearing a biohazard suit. There wasn’t one, but if what he’d been through was correct, he was sure that there was no threat of death. Still, it gave him hives just to think about what could go wrong. He knew he shouldn’t have worried. He was on a suicide mission, after all.
Looking back at the machine, Jack pulled the instructions out of his pocket, leaning them against a piece of lab tech out of Boris’ line of sight. He hadn’t even gotten a pat down when he’d been brought in so he wasn’t worried about being found out now. It looked simple enough on the paper. He could cause the thing to self-destruct and take them all out. No problem, right?
He fiddled with various things, his hands seeming to have more memory than his hands as he snapped on rubber gloves and picked up vials and...turkey basters? Yeah, the lab terminology was escaping him. Jack drew out the tinkering. Even though he wasn’t all that familiar with the science anymore, he could have had it installed in minutes if he let his instincts guide him. Instead, it was nearly half an hour later by the time he was making any progress. The liquid in the vials was primed. It just needed the genetic material to bond to. He wiped his sweaty hands on a provided rag, inspecting his work. Boris joined him, looking closely at the vials like he knew what he was looking at.
“Well, Doc. Looks like you’re getting somewhere.”
“Well, I try,” Jack replied, thinking that if he had his way, he wouldn’t be getting anywhere.
“Is it good to go?”
“No. There’s various adjustments that need to be made first,” he replied vaguely, not really knowing what was going to happen, either.
“Like I said, Doc, take your time and do it right.”
“I’d like a washroom break now. And a sandwich.”
Boris glared at him, but Jack held his ground. He could see the man’s hand twitching, like he’d like nothing more than to give Jack a knuckle sandwich. If he weren’t so important, Jack was sure that he would have gotten it right to the kisser. But that was the point. He was important, and he was showing Boris that he wasn’t going to be pushed around. In fact, if Boris wanted anything to get accomplished, he’d better start bowing down to Jack’s whims. Boris seemed to get the message, though, and even though he looked mad, he wasn’t clenching his fists any longer.
“Fine. You know where the restroom is,” Boris conceded.
“And the sandwich?” Jack prodded.
“I’ll get you a damn sandwich.”
“Good. I want ham and cheese on rye. It has to be gluten and lactose free. I have a rather sensitive stomach these days,” Jack told him, watching as Boris’ eye started to twitch.
The man retreated from the room and Jack took a moment to let the breath he was holding go. Normally he would have wanted this business over and done with as soon as possible. If he was going to meet his death in this building, he wanted it to be quick, but he knew better. If he held on and kept going at this pace, the word would spread that the machine was nearly up and running again, and hopefully the rest of the cell would gather in the building. If he could take them all out in one fell swoop, then his mission would be more than accomplished, seeing as how there would be no one left to carry on with this crazy scheme after he was gone. He wasn’t foolish enough to think that no one would ever attempt it again – after all, the military did want the weapon and they were fairly tenacious when it came to getting the things that they wanted – but this would slow things down to a stand still for quite some time, and maybe by then there would be some safe guards in place to keep those who wanted to do harm to others from succeeding.
Sauntering from the room, Jack picked up a tail as he walked towards where he figured the washroom facilities were. They were both smaller than Boris, but they were on a mission. One even squeezed into the tiny washroom with him, back turned to give him privacy, but still there as a reminder that he wasn’t to be trusted an inch. That was fine with Jack. He had no plans of escape. This was a legitimate washroom visit. The guy wasn’t going to get much of a show. The guard didn’t seem interested in following him back to his lab, though. He merely closed the doors and made sure that the lock clicked loudly behind him.
Seeing his chance, Jack gingerly pulled the bomb behind his work table and carefully opened the box. Oh, yeah. From all the wires and the massive amount of grey putty, he was sure that this thing could take out the whole building. He ever so carefully opened the right panels until he had the port open to where the diagram had told him to go. It was a simple enough to play with the wires, working them into the right places so that the bomb would actually go boom. He didn’t know if the cell knew their bomb was disarmed, but they were far better muscle than brains, so he wouldn’t have put it past them to have overlooked it. He may have disarmed it himself, for all he knew. They weren’t great terrorists. He had expected something more impressive than Boris, Natasha, and five or six nameless goons. God, Rand had been more fear inspiring than these guys.
He straightened up and tossed a lab coat over the bomb when he heard the lock flip and the door begin to open. He expected that sandwich, but it definitely wasn’t ham and cheese on the other side of the door.
Natasha, walking cast and all, threw the door open, eyes landing on him. She sneered at him, not looking at all impressed to see that he was still living. Well, she’d just have to deal with it, he supposed. Boris was beside her, looking a bit grim. Jack immediately felt like he should be on guard. The look put him on edge more than any threat could have.
“So...sandwich?” he chanced, catching a smirk from Natasha.
“Seamus tells me that you’ve been dragging your feet, Deanie.”
“Like I told him, union rules dictate a one hour lunch period and a free sandwich,” Jack replied, knowing that if he was flippant enough, she’d either get frustrated and leave, or hit him and then hopefully leave. As long as she left, he figured life would be grand. “I’m still waiting on that ham and cheese.”
“Now, you wouldn’t be trying to fool us again, would you?” Natasha asked, looking like she’d claw his eyes out first.
“No, ma’am,” Jack replied. “I said I’d make this tool of death work. I intend to make it work.”
“But not until you’ve had your sandwich?” she asked, looking wry.
“You catch on quickly,” Jack replied.
“Oh, I know how your mind works, Dean. I know just how much you enjoy a good game.”
The way she said that made the little hairs on the back of his neck raise. Jack didn’t know why, not exactly, but it was certainly ominous. She sauntered closer to where he was standing, looking him over for a long moment, like she was committing him to memory. Even the limp of her cast didn’t take away from the way she moved like a predator. She was certainly managing to make him feel like he was lunch.
“In fact, let’s play a game, shall we?”
“I think I’ll pass,” Jack replied, thinking that there wasn’t enough money in the world to get him to play games with her.
“Oh, but I think you would like this one,” she purred. “Don’t you even want to know what it is before you decide?”
Even knowing that he’d regret it, Jack finally nodded, figuring it was better to hear what funny business she was up to while he still had some control over it. Natasha looked far too pleased that she managed to get him to agree.
“You see, when they told me that you willingly decided to get back on track with the project, I thought to myself, this isn’t like the willful doctor. No, you had something up your sleeve.”
If only she knew.
“And then I said to myself, how would be the best way to make sure Dr. Dean behaved himself?” she mused, snapping her fingers. “And then, it came to me. If you want to keep a man in check, you keep hold of what he covets most.”
“And you think you know what I covet?” Jack asked, eyebrow raised in scepticism.
“Not what, in this case. Whom.”
A moment later, there was the sound of scuffling feet and suddenly Melanie was standing the room between two goons. Jack had to work hard to keep himself from reacting. If he reacted, then Natasha would know that she had something here. If Natasha thought that she had an angle, then she would use Melanie in whatever way possible to ensure Jack’s cooperation. He couldn’t do that to her, not after everything she had done for him. He shouldn’t have gotten Melanie involved in the first place, and he had been cocky thinking that he could keep her out of danger. He thought that if he acted bored and flippant towards Natasha, maybe they’d think that she meant nothing to him and they’d let Melanie go. He sure couldn’t have her being in the building when everything went boom, after all. Mel, for her part, looked freaked out. He didn’t blame her - this had to be a terrifying experience for someone who wasn’t alternately being chased, followed, or intimidated on a daily basis.
“Who’s this?” Jack asked before Melanie could say anything. He was sure his name was on the top of her tongue, seeing as how her lips had started moving.
“Don’t play games with me, Deanie,” she replied, moving so she could run a finger down the side of Melanie’s face. “This is your little girl friend.”
“My girlfriend?’ Jack asked, putting a tone of bored disbelief into his voice.
“Fine, fuck buddy.” Natasha shrugged.
Melanie’s jaw dropped and if Natasha hadn’t pulled her finger away, Jack wasn’t so sure that it wouldn’t have been bitten off. While he would have found it very entertaining, he had the feeling it wouldn’t have ended well for Melanie, considering Natasha would still have nine fingers left.
“Seriously?” Jack tsked a bit. “This was my nurse at the hospital. Thanks for shooting me, by the way.”
“Oh, Deanie, it was just a flesh wound. My leg, on the other hand, was just playing dirty.”
“Would you two get a room already,” Boris growled and Natasha smiled at him seductively. “He wouldn’t sleep with you before you shot him, and he’s not going to sleep with you now.”
Well, that was interesting. He’d assumed that Boris and Natsha were a couple, but then, there were people in open relationships and such these days. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. However, Natasha was one of the least appealing women he’d ever met. She was pretty on the outside, but she was the type of crazy that was bordering on psychotic. He knew that she was one of the higher ups in the cell for that reason. Nothing this evil ever got accomplished by people who were well adjusted members of society, after all. He still wondered how they’d ever let his undercover character into the cell. Mild mannered scientists didn’t exactly fit the bill. Well, he supposed brains had won out. Next time, he wouldn’t be so smart.
“Seamus, you know as well as I do that the good doctor is lying to us. She’s clearly his little hussy.”
“I don’t care who she is, but so help me, if you snatched some poor random woman off the street, I’m going to lose it with you,” Boris promised.
He loomed over Natasha, matching her crazy for crazy. That instinct he’d had when he first saw Boris and thought that he was much more dangerous than Natasha flared up again. While Natasha had crazy going for her, Boris was calm rage all bottled up to explode at the ready. It was something Jack was going to keep in mind.
“Oh, she’s no random woman. He’s been holing up at her place ever since he gave the hospital the slip,” Natasha replied, and Jack was left wondering how she came to know that. After all, he thought he was being careful, but clearly he just hadn’t been careful enough.
“Listen to me. I don’t know this woman beyond the fact she gives great sponge baths,” Jack reiterated. “Now, why don’t you let her go before she has a panic attack or something so that I can get back to work?”
“I don’t often agree with the egg heads, but that’s a smart idea,” Boris offered, moving to round Natasha
Natasha grabbed his arm and leant in close to whisper something in his ear. Jack was hard put not to demand they speak up. Boris didn’t look impressed when she pulled away, but he wasn’t trying to leave the room any more. Instead he leaned back against the wall.
“She stays until the job is finished. The faster you work, the faster we return her back to where she came from. Got it, Doc?”
Jack felt something sink in the pit of his stomach at that statement. Boris was the more reasonable of the two, and if he had been reasoned into keeping her there, then there was little that Jack could say to help her get out of there, which completely screwed up his entire plan. Where he was prepared to die, prepared to let every one of those sadistic cell members get what was coming to them, he wasn’t prepared to just let his ex-wife perish. No, she was innocent. She didn’t deserve that.
The plan was going to have to change, and quickly, or they were both going to be in very hot water.