Rating: Mostly PG-13, eventual NC-17 for sex and violence (Not between our girls though…the violence that is…promise. The other? Well…teehee).
Disclaimer: These wonderful ladies and the rest of the town belong to CBS, Telenext, and P&G. I’m just having some fun with them.
Spoilers: I don’t think so. This story picks up at the “no more waiting” gazebo scene and goes off canon.
Summary: Nat gets the shock of her life and it turns Liv’s world upside down.
Warning: Not beta’d so if it sucks, there’s only me to blame.
Frank studied the hunched over figure of his young mentee sitting on the gazebo bench. Rafe ran his fingers frustratingly through his thick black hair before letting out a deep breath and looking up. Seeing Frank approach, he straightened up.
“Hey buddy. What’s up?” Frank sat down next to him.
“She’s telling the truth. She’s been telling the truth all along. She does love my mom. Anyone that would take off on a wild goose chase with nothing but a gun and an ex in tow has got to love the person they’re searching for. I mean, this Edmund, that’s who you said she thinks took my mom…he’s supposed to be like crazy, right? He could really just go nuts and kill all of ‘em, right?” He looked Frank straight in the eye.
“I wouldn’t put it past him.”
“Then why didn’t you do anything? Why aren’t you doing anything now? Why didn’t you take the clues seriously? My mom never runs from trouble…ever. You know this isn’t like her.” He stood and started pacing.
“I know Olivia. I didn’t trust that her intentions were pure. Still not sure if I do.”
“But is that her or you, man? Are you that determined to believe she’s the bad guy in all of this?”
Frank stood then, “I love your mother. I could have made her happy.”
Rafe shook his head, “No you couldn’t. Not when she’s in love with someone else.”
“You buy that now?”
Rafe crossed his arms, his expression stern towards his mentor, “I’m starting too, and I’ve seen the look in Olivia’s eyes. I really looked at her and saw a woman terrified of losing my mother. She’s going after her, risking her own life. To me, that’s love.”
Frank held up his hands, letting the beginning of the conversation catch up to him, “Whoa, wait. Back up. Did you say she’s going after Natalia?”
“Yeah, she’s leaving right now. I ran into her at the farmhouse, and she has a gun and all.”
Frank started to take off in a run and Rafe followed behind him, “Did she say where she was going?”
“No,” he caught up with Frank at his car, “she just said something about getting to a helicopter.”
Frank considered the information and looked thoughtful for a long minute. Finally, a look of understanding came across his face, as if he had found the answer to all the world’s mysteries, “San Christobel. She’s going back to San Cristobel.”
“It’s where she’s from and it’s where the Winslow’s, Edmund’s family, ruled. The castle is mostly in ruins after an earthquake struck there not long before Olivia came to Springfield. I bet that’s where she thinks Edmund took her.” He opened his door to get in.
“I’m coming with you.”
“No, you’re staying here where it’s safe. Besides, you’re still on parole. You can’t leave Springfield.”
Rafe slammed his hand down on the roof of Frank’s car, and for the second time in less than twenty four hours, Frank jumped, “Damn it! Everyone needs to stop treating me like a child. This is MY mother he has, and the one person that loves her as much as I do is risking her life to save her. I have a right to be there!”
Frank looked at him stunned at his vehemence, his voice practically pleading, “You can’t leave town, Rafe.”
“I can if I’m under the supervision of my mentor.”
He took a deep breath as he looked at the determined expression on the young man’s face. If he didn’t take him with him and look after him, Rafe would just go on his own and be more at risk. He couldn’t allow that. Even if he came back unscathed and had gone on his own, he’d be in far more trouble and spending a lot of time behind bars again. Natalia would never forgive him for that either. He didn’t like it, but he was resigned to his fate.
“Fine. Get in.”
Olivia tossed her bag into the space behind the rear seats in the helicopter. She turned to look for Josh who went to get the pilot. She leaned against the edge of the machine and looked around. It was the height of summer with crickets chirping and birds singing in the trees. The barely noticeable wind did little to alleviate the misery of the oppressive heat. She slipped off the thin shirt she had over her white tank top and pulled her hair back loosely in a ponytail. Anything to help.
It seemed like Josh and the pilot took forever to exit the terminal. By the time she saw them, she was close to going in to look for them. She tapped her foot restlessly as they approached. She looked at her watch and then at the sun starting its descent in the sky.
“It takes four hours flying time and another hour by boat to get there.”
Josh held out his hands, “We’re fine. In fact, it’s better this way. If we arrive at dusk we can use the darkness to make headway inland without being seen.”
“But then we can’t see.”
Josh strolled around to the other side of the helicopter, moved the seat up, and showed her the night vision goggles and other equipment in his bag.
“That’s what these are for, and these,” he lifted the lights on top to reveal several large guns, machetes, and other weapons, “will help us once we’re there.”
Olivia’s eyes were huge, and she ground out her words in a harsh whisper so the pilot couldn’t hear, “Where the hell did you get those?”
He smirked, “Safely locked away since my last escapade to San Cristobel.”
She shook her head, “Jesus! My little gun is puny in comparison.”
They both climbed up into the back of the helicopter at the same time and he reached over to take her hand, “Look, I know. But there’s only two of us and we’re going to need all the help we can get. With any luck, we won’t have to use any of these.”
“I just can’t believe this is even happening. I keep thinking I’ll wake up and it’ll just be some bizarre dream that I had after eating some of Natalia’s extra spicy fajitas.”
They looked at each other, smiles slowly spreading across both of their faces, until Olivia finally spoke, “And that’s why I have to get her back.”
“Let’s go then,” Josh tapped the back of the pilot’s seat signaling they were ready to take off.
Frank could see Olivia and Josh climbing into the helicopter from the entrance gate where he was stuck being questioned by security. When the blades started to turn, he lost his patience with trying to explain himself to the guard and finally flashed his badge, demanding to enter. He got through just as the helicopter lifted off.
“Damn it!” He slammed his hand against the wheel as he skidded to a stop where the helicopter had just been.
Rafe looked around, “There’s lots of other helicopters around here. Maybe we can use one of them.”
“Do you magically know how to fly one?”
“No, but someone around here should!”
“You’re right!” Frank jumped out of the car and ran to the small terminal with Rafe right on his heels.
After thirty minutes and lots of arguing, the two men and their reluctant pilot were loaded up and taking off in pursuit of Josh and Olivia.
It was late in the afternoon when the helicopter landed on the runway of a small island an hour west of San Cristobel. Olivia and Josh unloaded their cargo and walked the half mile to the boat docks. By the time they got there, both were drenched and exhausted.
Josh dropped his bags at Olivia’s feet, telling her to sit and wait while he went to find the dock manager to get the keys. When he came back, he had a moment of panic when he saw Olivia stretched out on the bench he’d left her on.
“Hey, you okay?”
She jerked her head up, “Yeah! Of course, why wouldn’t I be?”
“I…nevermind. Tell you what, I have some sandwiches in the small cooler there and some water. Why don’t we rest and have a bite before we take off.”
Olivia sat up fully and started to stand, “No, the sun’s setting. We need to get moving before it’s too late.”
Josh grabbed her hand and pulled her back down, “No. We’re sitting and resting and eating. You’re exhausted and need your rest. You have to be at your best when we finally get to Natalia. You can’t let her down.”
The last words did the trick and Olivia dropped her bag and sat down with a resigned thump, “Fine.”
“Good. Now hand me that cooler.” They sat quietly munching on their sandwiches and plain chips as they sipped their water. When they finished, Josh took the trash to throw it away and fill up their empty water bottles at a water fountain at the edge of the dock.
When he came back and sat down again, Olivia had a far off look in her eye, as she watched the sky turned a multitude of soft glowing colors in the setting sun, “Penny for ‘em.”
She smiled and shook her head, “I forgot how much I loved being near the ocean. It’s so peaceful and calm.” She looked down and swallowed hard, “I had thought of bringing Natalia here. Well, to San Cristobel, when we finally leveled out and got our relationship solid. I wanted to show her where I grew up and tell her about all the things that made me…me. Now it’s all ruined. I’ll never be able to share this with her without these memories tainting it.”
He wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulder, “Then you’ll find new memories and new places that you both can discover together. She already loves you, flaws and all, so I doubt your past would make any difference now.”
She smiled, and sank further into the hug, “Thanks.”
He gave her a quick squeeze before standing up, “Think you’re ready?”
“Yeah, let’s go get my girl.”
They loaded the boat and Josh climbed in while Olivia unwrapped the ropes from the dock and tossed them inside. She took Josh’s hand to step over the edge when a voice stopped her.
“Got room for two more in there?”
Both turned to see Frank and Rafe approaching, “What the hell are you two doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing, Olivia,” Frank countered.
“I asked first.”
He tilted his head and looked at her and then at Josh, “Well, I’m not here to stop you if that’s what you’re wondering. I’m…we’re actually here to help.”
“And you dragged Natalia’s son and her only child along on this little adventure? What the hell were you thinking, Frankie?” Olivia was shocked that Frank had been so…stupid. Then again, part of her really wasn’t that surprised.
“Actually, it was my fault he did this,” Rafe piped up, “I convinced him to come along because I was coming with or without his help, and really, he’s just here to make sure I don’t get hurt.”
Olivia pulled herself back out of the boat and stomped over to Rafe, “You. Are. Not. Going. Got it?” She turned and stomped back to the boat.
“Why not, Olivia?” He yelled in a voice reminiscent of his mother, stopping her movement. “I love her too, and if you can go rescue her, why can’t I?”
Tears fell and she walked back to the young man that was fast becoming like a son to her, in spite of the circumstances, wrapping him in a hug, “Don’t you get it? It’s because you’re a part of her, and loving her means loving you. I couldn’t stand it if anything happened to you.”
His stiff grasp softened at her words and to her surprise, he held on to her, “Then I guess that means I love you too, and that makes us family. So wherever you go, I go, and we take care of family business together.”
She pulled back and smirked at him, “You really are as stubborn as your mother.”
“That’s why you love her.” Olivia just shook her head and rolled her eyes, earning a laugh from Rafe.
“Fine, you two. Guess it won’t hurt to have more eyes anyway. Damn, Natalia’s gonna kill me!”
They all climbed in the boat and headed out south of the coast. The deep blue-green, choppy waters near the coast slowly transitioned to a midnight blue and became smoother the further out they went. San Cristobel was an hour away and not even visible yet on the horizon. Josh drove while Olivia shared provisions with their stowaways.
“What’s that?” Rafe reached for what appeared to be some other food sealed off and buried under ice.
Olivia popped at his hand, “That’s not for you.” She ran a hand over her hair, hesitating on telling Rafe about Natalia’s illness, but he needed to know. “That’s actually for your mom. Before the barbeque, she wasn’t feeling well so I insisted she go to the doctor. Dr. Rick ran some tests on her and the other day he stopped by the farmhouse to tell her the results, but she obviously wasn’t there so he told me.”
Rafe stopped chewing his sandwich, “And?”
“She has diabetes, Rafe, and she doesn’t know it. Rick said it’s at a pretty bad stage.” He dropped the sandwich back in the cooler before putting his head in his hand, then he stood up unsteadily on his feet, looking around before flopping down to the side of the boat and vomiting.
After he pulled himself together, Olivia handed him a warm diet soda and some crackers to settle his stomach.
“This is not good.”
Rafe waved a hand around, “If she’s not being taken care of, she could…”
“I know. That’s why we can’t waste time getting there. Every second counts. In fact, when we arrive, we’re not pitching a tent or anything. We’re going to find the drainage tunnel that leads into the castle and go in tonight.”
Frank objected, “Whoa! Wait a minute, that’s insane. How can we even see in drainage tunnels in the dead of night?”
“Night vision goggles,” Josh piped up from upfront. “Lucky for you, we brought extras.”
“Wonderful,” Frank had lost his appetite too and put his own sandwich back in the cooler.
Natalia listened intently to the sounds around her. With her vision cut off by the sack over her head, everything became more pronounced. She could swear she could hear the scratching of mice claws off in a far corner. She tilted her head, concentrating as best she could and willing her body to ignore the pain in her limbs and the gnawing ache of hunger, a hunger that seemed to be making her dizzy and weak. She caught it then, a whiff of salt air and the distant sound of a ship’s horn.
“Where the hell am I?”
She jumped at the shrill screech of the door opening and was temporarily blinded when her head covering was removed. The bright light entering the broken windows disoriented and shocked her senses. She blinked hard and shook her head trying to clear her vision, but it didn’t work. Instinct made her attempt to rub her eyes but she was quickly reminded that she was tied to the chair she was sitting in.
“Welcome, Ms. Rivera,” the smooth lilting voice spoke to her from behind. She tried to look over her shoulder and was rewarded with a backhand slap to her face. It wasn’t a hard slap but it was enough to make her eyes water. She was somewhat grateful hoping it would help her see better. “Don’t even try to do anything without my permission.”
She closed her eyes when she realized trying to see clearly was impossible. All she could make out around the room were some blurred walls, a darkened corridor where she assumed a hallway led, and a possible table in the corner, or maybe it was another chair. Trying to focus though was making her head pound more incessantly from the force of the slap.
“Who are you and what do you want?”
Her captor chuckled low, “Vengeance.”
“A horrendous loss.”
Natalia felt her blood run cold at the tone in his voice. It was empty, desolate, and hopeless. He was a man who had lost something important to him and hadn’t recovered from it. It didn’t take someone with a psychology degree to know her odds of getting out of this situation dropped considerably, but she was going to do all she could to try.
She had heard that the best thing to do with kidnappers was to keep them talking, find their motivation and empathize with them, “Tell me about it.”
He kicked over her chair then, making her head come down with a hard thump, “No! No! You’re not getting in my head. Don’t try to fuck with me!”
She tried to focus on the location of his voice, hoping she could see his face to know who and what she was dealing with, but the room was spinning and the edges of darkness curled in around her peripheral vision, until she remembered nothing.
The last rays of golds and reds streaked across the sky as the boat coasted to about a hundred yards from the shore and dropped anchor behind a small stretch of tree-bearing barrier island. A tall stretch of palm trees hid the boat from view even from the castle’s turret. Josh tossed everyone their night vision goggles wrapped in plastic bagging to keep the water out. Everyone stuffed their supplies into large plastic bags and one-by-one slipped quietly into the warm ocean. They swam slowly, methodically, so they didn’t make too much noise or waves.
When they all arrived ashore, Josh led them close to the line of trees, where they unwrapped their goggles and stuffed the plastic into their supply bags so they didn’t leave trace evidence behind. He showed them how to put the goggles on and use them. Then he handed each a walkie-talkie that they tested and set to the correct frequency.
“Just in case we get separated.”
He then pulled a map from the supply bag and spread it out in front of everyone, pointing and orienting them to their location.
“This is where we’re at.” He slid his finger across the map a few inches and down the shore, “This is where we need to go. This part should be easy. We stick close to the tree line and we should be undetectable, especially in the dark.” He looked at his companions. Olivia just nodded her head in determination and Rafe fidgeted nervously as he swiped at the sand fleas nipping at his legs, while Frank looked like he wanted to bolt back to the boat. “Alright, let’s go.”
Not surprisingly, Olivia led the group as she sprinted along the sand, dunking low when the vegetation thinned out, and at one point, scooting along her belly. Josh followed close behind taking his cues from her moves. Rafe completely missed every cue and found himself out of breath quickly as the other two gained ground ahead of him. At one point, he looked over his shoulder to see Frank struggling to keep up and well behind the rest of them. He went back and grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him along.
“Come on, dude. I thought you were a cop.”
Frank huffed out his reply, “A cop in Springfield, not New York, okay? Big difference!”
They caught up to Olivia and Josh, the map already out as they studied the drainage pipe in front of them. Olivia was gesturing with her hands indicating the direction and angle of the pipe leading up to the castle.
Josh was nodding at her comments, “Right, and this spot looks like a good place to rest.” Olivia gave him a withering look. The more time that passed, the more determined she got, “At least for a few minutes anyway.”
She looked over at Rafe who looked uncomfortable and kept scratching himself, “What’s your problem?”
“What? Something’s biting the hell out of me, okay?” He whined.
She pointed beyond the water, “The boat’s that way. You’re welcome to wait for us there.”
“No way!” He gritted his frustration out through his teeth. “I want to do this. I need to do this. Besides, I have to get used to it if I’m going in the Army.”
Olivia stopped what she was doing with her supply bag and looked at him, incredulous, “The what?”
He shrugged as if it was nothing, “The Army.”
“End of summer,” he looked down at his sneakers.
Olivia peeked around his shoulder to his mentor behind him, “And you knew about this?” Frank didn’t respond and could barely look her in the eye. She rolled her eyes, “Fabulous. Your mother’s gonna have a conniption. You know that, right?”
He shrugged again and the gesture was starting to make Olivia want to turn drill sergeant on his ass to hopefully wake him up, “Army, huh?” She looked him up and down, “Well, guess now’s as good a practice as any.”
She tossed her supply bag at him and then grabbed Josh’s and did the same. He stumbled backwards at the weight and force behind it, “You get point then, tough guy.”
Rafe hoisted the bags over his shoulder to make it easier to crawl through the drain pipe and then knelt down. He swallowed at the vast darkness spread out before him when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Olivia was handing his goggles over to him, “You might want these.” He slipped them over and caught sight of the tunnel in front of him, including about five different species of roaches crawling in it.
“Ummm, how do we…?”
Olivia anticipated that question, “You don’t. You just crawl over and around them. If they get in the way, just remember…we’re bigger than them.” She slammed her hands together and made a squiking sound like the smashing of a bug.
Rafe gave her a startled look, much like his mother would’ve done, “You said you wanted to get used to this. Here’s your perfect opportunity, soldier boy.”
Olivia smirked as the young man fought to pull himself together and move forward through the cobwebs, dirt, and trash.
The path through the pipeline was slow going, mostly from Rafe getting the creeps from the bugs. More than once he jumped back as a particularly large bug crossed his path and once he accidentally kicked Olivia behind him. She let out a litany of curses just to keep from pummeling him. He apologized profusely, and she waved him off.
Twice they ran across points where some of the pipe had caved in. Olivia assumed this was from the earthquake they experienced while she was there. Weeds, grass, and earth was falling through and the crumbled concrete partially blocked their path. The first time there was enough room to crawl over, but the second time it took Olivia and Rafe squeezing in side-by-side in the small space to kick the concrete away.
Eventually, they came to a split in the line. Olivia had seen it on the map and the path to the right led to the servant quarters out back, while the one to the left went directly into the catacombs of the castle. If her estimations were correct, they were three-fourths of the way to the castle. The trek wouldn’t be much longer.
She directed Rafe to go to the left and they all followed. When they had gone about fifty yards, Rafe suddenly dropped from view and after a short scream, Olivia heard a thud.
“Rafe!!!!!” Cautiously moving forward, she felt the edge where he had dropped off and carefully leaned over. She could hear a muffled moan from below and slowly the blurry green shadows on her goggles cleared. Rafe had fallen into what appeared to be a collection basin about thirty yards across and twice as deep.
Frank fought his way past Josh and next to Olivia, who grabbed him before he could go over the edge too, “What happened? Rafe, are you okay?”
She could see him in the shadows below and he was moving. That was a good sign.
“Rafe? Say something.” Another moan and then some shuffling of what sounded like his feet. He was trying to stand and then he let out a painful scream.
“Rafe! Rafe, what’s wrong?”
He hissed as he struggled to talk, “I…I think I broke my arm.”
“Damn it!” Olivia slammed her hand against the concrete wall.
“You guys go on without me. You have to get Ma.” Olivia shook her head.
“No. We’re getting you out of there. Just hold tight.”
He tried to argue with her, “Olivia!”
“I said no and that’s final!”
She tried to roll over and look at her ex-husband behind her. He was already rummaging through his supply bag, anticipating her question. They needed a rope or something to get Rafe out with. With three of them, they could probably pull him out. A tap on her shoulder from Frank drew her attention back.
“Look, there.” Frank pointed to the side of the curved wall and sure enough about ten feet over was a narrow ledge that ran around the entire wall to the other side where a tunnel appeared. It was much larger than the small pipe they had been crawling through so they could probably walk the entire way to the castle.
“Good eye, Frank!” Olivia smiled at him.
“How are we going to get to it though? And, more importantly, how are we getting Rafe up there?” She thought for a minute then looked back at Josh.
“I know we weren’t going to use them unless we had to, but you did bring the flashlights, didn’t you?”
“Get one out. I have an idea.” She took off her goggles as he searched through Frank’s bag. At the bottom were two large flashlights. She flicked one on and ran it a few feet above the ledge on the wall.
“Back when this castle was first built, there wasn’t electricity…obviously, but this ledge was here for prisoners that were taken during war.”
“Why?” She paused from her search and looked at Frank as if he had grown a second head.
“Torture, Frank. They could easily move prisoners from the cells in the catacombs down here, where they could torture for information or simply dump dead bodies. A heavy storm would wash them away out into the ocean.”
She continued her search and quickly found what she was looking for, “Ah ha! Just what I figured.”
Frank took off his goggles to see better and Josh slid up between them looking in the direction of the light as well. Josh laughed to himself, “Of course.” He went back to his bag and pulled out a long stretch of rope and a three prong hook used for rappelling.
She looked back at Frank with triumph on her face, “If people came down here back then, they had to have somewhere to hang their lanterns so they could see.”
Josh came back up and had hooked and tied everything together, “Let’s just hope those spikes aren’t rusted.”
Olivia and Frank moved back to give Josh room. He spun the hook several times and let it fly. It didn’t catch the first time, but it did on the second try.
“What’s going on up there?” Rafe’s voice sounded tired and weak. Olivia knew he couldn’t sit much longer without going into shock from the pain. They had to get him moving.
“We may have a way to get you up. Just hang on.”
Josh gave a hard tug on the rope, leaning back over the side of the opening to the basin below to ensure its sturdiness. He leaned his head up and looked at Olivia, smiling, “I think it’ll work.”
Still holding onto the rope, he scooted further out of the pipe until his feet were out in front of him. Slowly, he shimmied his feet across the wall being careful to maintain his balance until he was only a couple of feet from the ledge. He maintained a grip on the rope and eased his feet down onto the ledge.
Olivia breathed a sigh of relief. They may just pull this off after all! Josh took the spare end of rope that he had attached a weight to and tossed it back to Olivia. When she caught it, she handed it to Frank.
“No, you go.”
“Oh, please, Frank! Stop with the chivalrous good man crap and go.” He gave her a long look before shrugging and taking the rope. Not being as athletic or adept at physical tasks, it took him a bit longer than Josh to reach the ledge, and when he was there, he had to get Josh to grab him by the belt loop and pull him the rest of the way over.
A couple of minutes later, Olivia was on her way to the ledge when she dropped suddenly a few inches. All three looked up to see the spike slowly sliding out of the wall.
Her panicked eyes found Josh’s, “Oh shit!”