My first attempt at writing a longer fic ! (Well, 10K words and 8 chapters aren't that much, but I never wrote more than 1K-words-long one-shots before so.)

Hope you'll like it !

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Karen dropped herself on the couch and turned the TV on, hoping the noise could make her forget about her worries. She shook her head, making one of her blonde locks slip accross her face. She was being silly. Yeah, Frank hadn't answered his phone since something like 3 or 4 pm, and it was getting late, but he was just at work – his construction work, not something more dangerous, at least according to what he had said and she trusted him not to lie to her, not ever. Probably his cellphone just had run out of battery and he would be there in a few minutes, bringing take-out from either the Indian accross the street or the Chinese a few blocks away, and...

Wait, wasn't that footsteps just outside their flat ?

She got up, heart pounding in her chest, listening carefully. She didn't hear the caracteristic clicking of his keys, but to be honest she didn't hear anything except for the TV. She turned it off and took a few steps towards their entrance door. A part of her brain told her to stay quiet, because who knew who could be outside – prudence had become an habit, especially those last couple of weeks when she had been investigating on a pretty nasty gang of kidnappers and drug dealers.

Karen glanced through the spyhole. She spotted nothing, no one. Maybe the foorsteps she heard were in one of their neighbours' appartments, or on the TV, or on another story... However, just to be sure, she opened her door. The corridor was empty, of course. She was ready to go back inside when her gaze fell on a package placed at her doorstep. Her heart sank in her chest and her grip on the handle tightened.

She let the door open, the mysterious box untouched, took the metal detector she might have stolen from Frank – well, now that they were living together, it wasn't stealing anymore right ? – and moved it around the package. Nothing. So, not a bomb. Karen stood up, biting her lower lip, then she decided to take the thing inside, closed the door with her foot and walked to the counter. She took a knife, cut through the adhesive tape and carefully opened it. Inside, there was an USB stick and a smaller box. She laid down the first next to her and went to open the second.

A brain took a second to process what she was seeing. Then she screamed, dropped the box and pressed both her hands against her mouth to prevent herself from vomiting.

That was a cut-off bloodied human finger, a fucking finger.

Something shiny had fallen too and was at her feet. She took a deep breath, doing her best to think straight, and picked it up. It was a ring, a simple golden ring – but she had quite a clear idea of whose ring it might be. She looked at the inner surface and spotted almost immediatly the letters engraved there – her own name. Her eyes fell on a very similar jewel she had been wearing since last month, since Frank offered it to her with a grin and a « I've always been old-school » that sounded both like an apology and a proposal.

When she finally apprehended what that meant, she ran to the toilets and bent over to throw up.

She cleaned her mouth with water from the tape and stayed there for a while, hands clenched on the ceramic. She looked up at her reflection. All blood had left her face and her blue eyes were wide with fear, horror... and anger.

Someone had come after Frank and this won't end well for them. If he didn't take care of this himself, she would be far more than ready to step in.

Karen went back to their livingroom, a new determination in her whole posture, and put the USB stick in her computer. There was only one file on it, a video. She opened it, bracing herself up for what she suspected to found. It was exactly what she thought it would be – a tape. A masked man was facing the camera.

« Is it on ? »

Someone behind probably nodded.

« So, Miss Page, this is a final warning. If you mind your own business, don't write anything in your paper and don't go to the NYPD, we will leave you alone. And trust me, we have the means to know if you ever decide to break those rules. »

There were muffled screaming coming from somewhere out-of-frame. She crossed her arms against her chest, gnawing at her lip again until she drew blood. The metallic taste filled her mouth.

« We want you to delete every pic, record or file you might have about us, including this tape, by midnight. We also want you to come there... »

He was showing a piece of paper where an adress was scribbled. She let out a nervous laugh – that was so ridiculous.

« … with the register you stole from us. »

She wanted to yell at them. She didn't have that goddamn register anymore, of course not, she wasn't stupid enough to left it just lying around in their flat for anyone to find, or to carry it with her. She had straight up put it where it would be safe – meaning in the police station. And there was no way she was getting it back before midnight.

« If you don't... well, I think we have here someone you care about. »

The camera moved to reveal Frank tied up to a chair and gagged. One man was pointing a gun at his head and another was standing near, visibly waiting for orders – those came through a hand gesture from the one who had been talking. He hit Frank several times, in the face, in the chest, until he bent over, fighting to breath through the white fabric pressed against his mouth – his blood was turning it red. The impacts and his grunts of pain echoed in the room.

Karen had her teeth clenched, trying as hard as she could to keep her composure, but a gasp escaped her nonetheless when a punch harder than the others was followed by bones cracking.

Finally, the man stepped back and the camera came back to the speaker.

« I guess you understand now why you have to obey, Miss Page. Otherwise, we will kill your... boyfriend, I guess, right ? And it won't be pretty, I swear. »

Her fists clenched. If the man had been in front of her, she was sure she would try to kill him, even with her bare hands if that was what it would take.

« Oh, and also, I got three men hiding near the entrance of this building, so don't even think about calling the police or whoever on this. If they see anyone they will call me and... bang. »

He mimicked the gesture of pulling a trigger and Karen felt her mouth go dry.

« Hey, look, he got some kind of engagement or wedding ring. »

The voice had come from off-screen and the speaker turned his head that way.

« It would be nice to send it to her, right ? » The voice added. « So she really knows this is real and not a set-up. »

The man in command hesitated a bit, then his gaze came back to the camera. Karen felt like he looked her right in the eyes and a shiver ran down her spine.

« Yeah, yeah, good idea. Take it. » He paused for a sec, and when he talked again she could swear he was smiling under his mask. « With his finger. »

There were laughs, then a bit after a muffled cry of pain.

Karen closed hastily the tab, exhaled slowly, realizing she had been holding her breath, and stared at her computer screen. Anger was building up in her chest. She checked her phone one last time. Still no news of Frank – she was sure he would have text her as soon he got free if he had.

So, that meant he hadn't – that meant it was her turn to save him, for once.

And as she doubted they would be comprehensive if she just came in without the register and explained the situation – police station and all –, that means she would have to give more... unconventional methods a shot. She would lie if she said that thought only brought fear in her heart – there was a dark, twisted satisfaction too. Those assholes were going to learn the hard way that Frank and her weren't people to go after.

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Thanks for reading, and I would love to hear your thoughts !