Now she doesn't have to stand alone, pursue this on her own, Rick is here . . . and it is enough.


Rick helped her back up and, looking back out into the hallway she immediately thought, Rick, how did he do all of this? This is more than his dad could have done by himself, he had to have helped. He is not the same easygoing nine-year old I married and have known all this time. She thought back on the times he had saved her life, on the times when things just didn't add up. Like the time he had said he shot too soon and then put three rounds through the ten ring without a single hesitation; like the time he distracted a killer with nothing more than a champagne bottle allowing Kate to take the guy out; like the time he shot a gun out of the hand of a fanatical serial killer after Nikki Heat saying to me, I was aiming for his head; like the time he beat an assassin senseless as he tried to kill Kate; like the time he quickly extracted information he needed from a kidnapper when he was looking for Alexis. She suddenly sees there is so much more to Rick than the metrosexual author she has married and loved for all these years. These were no lucky happenstances. He has secrets and she now feels like she might not know him explicitly, that there are hidden depths within him. Who is he really?.

"Rick, I think we are going to have to talk after this is over. You have a lot of explaining to do. You have been holding out on me, obviously you have some secrets of which I am not aware." Kate whispers to him as she holds him close. He is more serious, more alert, more protective than she has ever seen him and it brings a sense of safety to her she has sought since her mother died. She did not feel that safety in the arms of any man before Rick, even including her own father. He had deserted her for the bottle after her mom's death. But now, she feels no one, nor anything can harm her. She is under the wing of her guardian angel and is at peace.

Hunt, who has been watching Vaughan, speaks up and tells Rick, "We need to get this show on the road. It's going to be light very soon and we need to be out of here and pickup anyone else we might need to hand over to 'the authorities' before the night is over. I say we take this party to his safe room and collect his evidence on this Bracken guy if he has any. He had better hope he does."

"OK, let's go. Vaughan, get your sorry ass on your feet now and take us to the evidence. And don't ask for any clothes to put on. You wanted to keep my wife in this attire, now you can wear it. Naked you go, for the rest of the time we have you. Helps keeping you under control a little easier; I don't think you are much willing to run off if you are bare-ass naked. Now, get going." Rick threatens.

Vaughan makes his way to his feet, getting no help from the three adversaries. Hunt pushes him toward the door, not being gentle at all. "Hurry up, we don't have all day."

Vaughan cringes as he makes his way past the dead or unconscious "elite guard" to whom he had paid a ton of money to protect him from a situation just like he finds himself in right now. He is sure he is living in his last day; that the sun won't set on him before he breathes his last. He has never come up against a foe as formidable as Rick and his father. This is not the guy he met in the elevator so long ago, one he had intimidated with just a word and a glance, or so he thought. He now knows Rick had played him easily, saw through his little mind games and was not the least cowed by his presence or his wealth. Having a billion dollars does not buy him freedom or safety from these two. He knows if he attempts to buy his way out of this predicament it will end very badly for him. Besides, Rick wouldn't be tempted by the money anyway; he is wealthy in his own right. Vaughan does his homework also. What he didn't discover was Rick's obvious alter ego, highly trained and unquestionably dedicated to Beckett. He also didn't count on having a father that is some super spy or commando or whatever he really is. He screwed up when he thought he could have Beckett for himself without having to answer for his actions. And answer for them he will; of this he is now certain. Just what the final consequences are he still is not sure.

After having made their way up to the main level of the house, Vaughan leads them to the safe room. He indicates he will have to open the door with both a palm scan and retina scan simultaneously. Rick slaps Vaughan's hand on the digital reader and puts the end of his silencer against his head.

"Now." Rick says.

Vaughan moves his right eye to the scanner and says, "Press the button next to my thumb, my hands don't work."

Hunt presses the button and the scanners both read and verify his digital identifiers. A huge door slowly slides open into the wall and a very large room is revealed. It is probably a third of the back of the house on this level. Inside are computer banks with financial screens from all the stock exchanges throughout the world. There are computer screens that are blank or displaying the corporate logo of Vaughan Enterprises. There are rows of file cabinets and racks of stacked boxes.

Kate shoves him further into the room and demands, "Where is the evidence against Bracken in my mother's murder. You have one minute to find it, all of it, and point it out with your useless hands. Starting now."

Vaughan heads into the archives, looking for a particular box that contains the Bracken files. It will be a large box because the senator has been a bad boy for a long time. He goes through three aisles of boxes and Kate says, "Fifteen seconds. Don't think you want to find out what happens if you make me wait for longer than the allotted time."

"Right here," Vaughan says, holding up a limp hand and gesturing to a set of boxes on the next to top shelf of the warehouse style racks. Rick pulls a ladder up to the rack and slides down the boxes to his dad, five in all. Kate immediately tells Rick, "Watch him."

She opens up the first box and finds a set of audio tapes and two old style VHS video tapes. In addition, there are digital disks that look like CDs and DVDs containing audio and video files. Hunt has opened a couple of the other files and finds them full of hand written and typed documents. There are enough documents to keep an FBI team busy for weeks.

"Where's the video player?" Kate asks. Vaughan points to a room that appears to be a surveillance room, full of security monitors and video equipment. Kate sees two monitors with the feeds from the room in which she had been kept. A shudder ran through her thinking this pervert had been watching her all the time she had been held captive.

"Where are the recordings from these cameras?" she says.

Vaughan points to a bank of computers with numbers matching those on the monitors. Kate goes to the two for that room and ejects the discs from the drives. "Are there recordings on the hard drive, or just on the discs?"

"Just on the discs, we transfer to a server drive after we're done with the girl." Vaughan knows there is no use trying to hide what he has been doing from these guys since it appears they are more literate electronically than he is.

"Good boy," Rick says, "If you keep cooperating, you just might just not die today."

Kate puts the VHS tape in the old player and starts the play cycle. A monitor springs into life and she sees Bracken talking to Raglan and two other cops. She does not know the others, just Raglan. They are discussing the framing of Pulgatti for the murder of Bob Armand's accidental murder. They also said something about being sure that bitch lawyer Beckett is taken care of. Bracken says specifically he wants her dead, but not traceable back to any of them. Make it look like a gang murder.

Kate is visibly shaken with this, asking Vaughan how he got this tape and why he hadn't come forward with it.

Vaughan simply replied, "How powerful do you think I would be with this President of the United States under my thumb. I was holding this over him as I financed his reelection and his White House bid. And it gets better. Look for a DVD that says "Rashelle" on it. I think you will find that most interesting."

Vaughan gave up the information with no qualms, never once thinking about trying to protect those individuals on the recordings. It was becoming very apparent he had no allegiance to anyone other than himself. He was trying to stay alive and maybe find a bargaining chip with which to use for a plea deal. Kate quickly found it and slid in into the DVD player.

Another monitor activated, showing a room that look like a cellar. Once the camera panned around, it was obvious this was a sexual torture chamber with a woman in her early twenties tied to an x-frame St. Andrew's cross, bound hand and foot to the x-members. She was naked and her back was bleeding, obviously from being whipped and beaten. She was the only one in the picture until a man in his fifties walked into view. It was Bracken and he was naked also. He walked up to the woman and brutally thrust into her from the back, causing her to scream in torment. His face was twisted with a sadistic grin, thoroughly caught up in the sadism he was participating in. The girl begged for mercy, causing Bracken to laugh with a satanic grin. He put his arm around the girl's neck and pulled her head back to him, licking her face and neck as he did. All of a sudden the girl went slack, sagging down into her bindings, her head twisted at an unnatural angle.

Vaughan leeringly said, "He killed her; maybe accidentally, but nevertheless, he killed her. This was my ticket to the Secretary of State appointment under the Bracken administration."

Kate says to Rick, "Hey, see if you can find a box labelled 'Sable' or 'Janice'."

Hunt says, "Just saw that one. It's right over here."

There was not as much information in that box, only some photos and a DVD. Kate put the DVD in the player and presses play once more. The screen lit up again and she saw Janice on the same bed she was held on, dressed in what looked like a harem outfit. She was dressed, but the gossamer material was so transparent that she might as well been naked. She saw a man abusing her over the course of time. Several times, she was visited by another man also, very muscular, one who looked familiar but she could not place him.

Rick adds, "Russian pro hockey player. I've seen him in the international competitions."

She 'fast-forwards' to the end of the disc and sees Vaughan walk in just as he did with her. Kate shudders at the thought of him touching her, wants to kill him as she watches him rape Janice. Then just as the disc is drawing to a close, Vaughan closes his hands around Janice's neck and unceremoniously ends her life. Kate looks at him and says, "I wish we had the death penalty here. I'm sure we could get you signed up and moved to the front of the line with this video. You don't deserve to live another day, but not my call. But please, try to escape. All of us will be happy to send you to your ride across the River Styx. Since a U.S Senator is involved, maybe we can move this to Federal jurisdiction. They still have the needle option."

Kate was sickened, but said, "Let's go, we have all we need with this information to convict Vaughan, to take Bracken down for both of these murders and for anything else that is in the files. I want him in my custody before the New York FBI branch opens this morning. He is staying at the Four Seasons as we speak."

Rick asks of Vaughan, "Will this door stay open if we all leave the room?"

"If the sensors do not detect a heartbeat, they close the door and wait for authorization from outside."

He is being very cooperative, Kate thinks. Maybe trying to stay alive. She says, "Now how do you propose we keep them open then?"

Vaughan offers to stay behind so the sensors will detect his heart rhythm. Rick says no way, but suggests pulling one of the not-quite-dead guards into the room.

Once the guard is pulled into the room, another not-quite-alive guard is pulled into the doorway to keep the door from closing all the way should the guy inside the room expire before someone returns for the rest of the files and evidence in the room.


Hunt mentions it is nearly noon now, probably not good to leave for the City at this time. They go about their tasks of assuring any guards that remain alive are secured in the room where Beckett was held. No escape from there.

They decide to wait until about 8:00 that evening, which will put them into NYC about midnight. That timing should give Bracken enough time to be back in his hotel room and have only a token guard detail.

So they take Vaughan to the kitchen and tie him securely to a kitchen chair, still naked as the day he was born. Then Rick fixed them a light dinner from the supplies in his commercial style kitchen while she and Hunt made sure Vaughan was quiet and understood his current predicament. Kate thinks the rich really do live differently than the rest of us, but she partakes of the dinner Rick has prepared just the same.

She looks at Vaughan and smiles, "First, I make all decisions as to when you will eat, sleep and possibly leave this room. If you do not comply, food will be withheld for the initial punishment. You originally failed to cooperate fully."

When it is about time to leave, Hunt asks how they will get past Bracken's guards in the hotel.

"Oh, don't worry about that," Kate smiles. "I have a plan. Meet me with the cars out front."

She takes a backup pistol from Rick, gives him a quick kiss and runs back out the door, smiling all the way.