I'd say I'm sorry for the cliffhanger, but I'm really not :P In case you can't tell, I love them! Thank you for all the reviews/alerts/favourites :) I don't feel like I can say thank you enough.
Thank you to Lucy for beta'ing, even though she's ill and wanted to make cookies today ;)
"That's Rachel's car," Puck announces as he runs back to the small group. "She's definitely in there."
"I can't believe she's been so stupid," Santana growls, knowing that if it were the other way around she'd be in trouble before she could even consider it, most of the scolding coming from Rachel. But, oh how the tables have turned. "She just walked straight in there without backup, and knowing full well that she's who the UNSUB wants."
Marley returns from where she was briefing the officers, "we're not going in yet – we'll wait for Finn and Blaine to get here, and then make a plan of action. But going in there with guns blazing is just going to cause the UNSUB to become defensive and that could lead to him harming either Rachel or Annie."
"Do we know if they're the only people in there?" Puck asks – the less victims there are, the better.
She shakes her head, "we're trying to get a scope of the building through CCTV but the trees are in the way of most windows. Artie says that the footage shows Rachel entering about ten minutes before we arrived, and there was some movement in the house – now we can't really tell anything from the images." Marley then takes a breath, "But as far as we can tell, it's just the UNSUB and the other two that are in the house. We're going to use heat sensor to clarify just that."
Nodding, his eyes move over to the building. "You think that he'd make this harder for us." The two women furrow their brows, "he basically just told us to come here, and he must know that it's not going to end well for him. It just doesn't feel right... why would he set himself up?"
"Maybe this was his intention?"
"But we already established that he wasn't looking for the attention from the police," he begins.
"Yeah," Santana agrees, "but he's devolving – this guy is desperate. And he probably can't think straight. All logical thought is thrown out of the window." She peers back to the house, "so how do we guess his next move?"
The first thing she's aware of is the thumping in her head, each painful throb making her want to keep her eyes closed forever. But as she starts to wake up, the events of the last few hours suddenly start to flood back into her mind and her eyes shoot open in an instant. Rachel tries to keep calm when she realizes that her hands are bound behind her back, and she blinks furiously as her eyes focus in the dim room. A low groan escapes her lips as the pain in her head surfaces again, but she forces herself to focus, looking around the large room.
She's sat on the hard concrete floor, in what must be a basement of some sort, or that's at least what she can tell. There are no windows, just one dingy light bulb hanging from the ceiling. It offers little relief from darkness.
Moving herself onto her knees, she does her best to keep each breath steady, knowing all too well that it's easy to panic, and when you panic, that's when you make mistakes. Rachel wonders how long she was out for, and if it'd given her captor enough time to move her somewhere else, though she hopes that they're still in the house – otherwise it may take longer for the others to find them.
Small whimpers suddenly catch her attention, and her eyes frantically strain to look around the room, past the few pieces of furniture littered throughout, before they stop on the shaking ball of what must be Finn's daughter in the corner. Rachel wants nothing more than to hold her and assure the little girl that she's safe – just like she needed when this happened to her – but she can barely move, realizing now that her legs are tied together, too.
Her eyes move to the only door of the room, hidden at the top of an old, rickety staircase, and then back to Annie. "Hey," she whispers, the quiver to her voice surprising her. The girl looks up, but she doesn't stop shaking. "Hi Annie," Rachel gives the biggest smile she can muster, "I'm Rachel... I'm a friend of your Daddy."
At the mention of Finn, her face crumples. "I want my Daddy." She gives another whimper, eyes filled with tears.
"He's coming for you," she says, sure that Finn will be doing everything in his power to get them out of here. She hesitates, and then eyes the door again. "Come over here," she gently tells the girl, who seems to scared to move, and Rachel really wishes that she wasn't tied up so that she could go to her instead. "Come on," she doesn't want to sound like she's pleading, but her voice borders on desperation, "I won't let him hurt you."
Ever so slowly, Annie gets to her wobbly feet, before she stumbles over to where Rachel is on the floor. She lands on the hard, concrete floor, wrapping her arms around her woman. Both feel comforted by the small action. "It's okay," she soothes, "you're safe with me."
"Promise?" the little girl's voice quakes.
"I promise," Rachel replies with a strong voice. "Now, are you hurt anywhere?" She shakes her head, eyes pooling with tears. "Good," Rachel breathes a sigh of relief.
Just then, the lock of the door jiggles, and both heads snap upwards. "Get behind me," Rachel tells her, "and whatever happens, listen to what I say, okay?" Annie gives a small nod, trembling hands still clinging onto Rachel's shoulder. They both watch with baited breath as the door finally opens, and Rachel tenses when she sees the man that she's spent most of her life hiding from.
He's aged, most definitely, but he still looks so similar to how she remembers. All she sees are those eyes, which are an exact replica of the ones from years before, the piercing green turning her stomach and causing fear to floor into every inch of her being. She can only look for mere seconds before her gaze is forced downwards.
"You're awake," he sounds excited. Rachel hears the pace of his footsteps speed up, until they hit the solid concrete, where they turn into menacing clicks of his boots. Annie lets out a tiny whimper, ducking her head as low as possible. "I'm sorry about the bounds," he stops in front of her, Rachel finding herself staring at his shoes. All she can think about is all those woman that he's killed – their pale, dead bodies. She closes her eyes and shudders. "But I couldn't take a chance, not after last time..." His voice suddenly takes on a graver tone, "why did you run away?"
She finally looks up, finding herself staring at the upset face of her father. He looks harmless, all wide eyes and innocent expression – you wouldn't think that he's murdered so many people. "I -" Rachel finds her voice caught in her throat, all words escaping her. But what is she supposed to say to this man? Or, what can she say without angering him? He ruined her life; he made her forever paranoid.
"Why, Sophie?" he pushes, voice gaining something close to a growl.
"I'm s-sorry," she replies slowly, carefully, knowing that they're the words he wants to hear. "I-it won't ever happen again." Her gaze doesn't quite meet his, but that doesn't matter. She knows that he needs her to pledge her loyalty to him, if there's any ever chance of him releasing her from her bounds. Besides, she needs to gain his trust – then maybe she can convince him to let Annie go.
He smiles, and then breathes out, "we're going to be together forever. Just you and me. No one is going to come between us anymore."
The group stay gathered together, but they continuously grow in frustration as each second passes where no steps of action are taken. "I want to go in," Finn insists, eyes intent on the house, "I have to go in."
Santana shakes her head, "no, if you do that then the victims could be hurt."
"Victims?" he asks, unable to believe that he's just referred to them as that. "It's our boss and my daughter – don't call them victims."
"But that's what they are Finn," she says, as gently as she can without setting him off again, though that's some tricky territory. He's been on edge ever since he arrived, desperate to go in. "And it's not going to do either any favors if you just blaze in there and start shooting."
He throws his head back in annoyance, though it's not aimed at Santana. It's more annoying that he can't do anything to help, even when he's just meters away from where they suspect the UNSUB is. Once again, he gaze returns to the house, as though held there by a magnetic attraction. He's going to save them. He has to.
Finn is distracted as Blaine walks up to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. "How you holding up?"
"How do you think?" he sighs. Then his eyes scan over the mass of officers, just standing there and doing nothing. Well, other than talking, but that's not going to help, is it? "We have to go in, Blaine – they're not going to be able to talk this UNSUB out of the house – he's been in search of her for years, and he's not leaving without Rachel."
A look of worry spreads across Blaine's features, "I think you're right. No matter what we offer, it's never going to be good enough for him to let Rachel go. He has what he wants, and now he's going to try and escape with her... but how's he going to do that?"
Suddenly, Finn's face pales, "he's going to use Annie as his bargaining chip."
Rachel rubs at her sore hands as the rope is finally removed, revealing her red, raw skin from the binds. She watches cautiously while the man places down a tray of food on the table, gesturing to it for her. "We've got a long journey ahead of us," he says quietly, "eat."
Ever so cautiously, she scrutinizes the food.
"Eat," he says more sternly. She finds her breath catching, and her legs shakily carry her over to the table, where he watches her. Her skin crawls with the feeling of his eyes on her, more intently so when she eats a forkful of the stew-like food, swallowing it thickly.
He continues to look at her expectantly. "Thank you," she whispers, which causes a smile to spring to his face, and she eats some more, just keep him sated. Then her eyes return to the terrified girl sitting against the wall, her gaze trained on him. "Can she have some?" She questions gently, knowing that it's only soothing tones that are going to stop him from becoming enraged. Rachel gulps, forcing out the words, "please... d-dad." It feels so wrong to call him that, and she wants to wash her mouth out, but it's what he wants.
Just as expected, his face softens toward her. Leaning forward, he places a kiss to her forehead, and Rachel does all she can not to outwardly cringe. "Such a good girl," he whispers, hot breath burning her skin. He steps backwards, and then looks to Annie. "Hurry," he orders, and she's quickly in motion, moving toward Rachel.
Rachel watches as she devours the food, no doubt having eaten for a while. At the same time, Rachel stays ever wary of the UNSUB, who stares, too. Her arms find their way around Annie, holding her in the safety of her embrace – it seems to calm the girl, if only slightly.
Mere seconds after she's finished the food, he lunges for her, but Rachel is faster, dragging her out of his reach. On her feet in an instant, she blocks him from the girl. "No," she whispers.
"Give me the girl," he orders, features tightening.
Feeling desperation surge through her, she asks, "what do you need her for?" Rachel doesn't move, not one inch, and her fingers remain clutching onto Annie's behind her.
He reaches again, but once more Rachel is preventing him from getting nearer to her, which only increases his frustrations. With a low growl, he throws his fist toward her, catching Rachel in the cheek. She is thrown off her feet in an instant, completely disoriented as he grabs her wrists, handcuffing it and ultimately trapping her against the table. "N-no, no," she tries when she sees him stepping toward Annie, the scared child countering with a back step each time.
She finds herself blinking profusely, hoping that the room will stop spinning so that she can do something to help. She desperately tugs at her bindings, head shouting at her to stay calm, yet all she can think is that's Finn's daughter, and someone is going to hurt her. "Leave her alone!" the words slip out, and seconds later she feels a dark glower aimed her way.
His eyes flicker back and forth, clearly overwhelmed with her sudden actions – she fears that it will lead to more danger.
"We're going in," Puck announces as he steps between Finn and Blaine, tightening his bullet proof vest, "the longer we leave it, the worst it's gonna get, and Artie hasn't picked up movement inside the house for a while now. We can't even get anything on the heat sensors, so we have to see if he's even in there anymore."
"What?" Finn tries to suppress his panic, "you think he's relocated?"
Puck shrugs, "he could've, or he might be somewhere that we can't track." He throws a vest toward Finn, "get this on and get ready – it's a quiet entry. We don't want to startle the UNSUB." He feels himself nodding, just relieved that some form of action is finally being taken. He scrambles into the vest, before joining up with Blaine who is too clad in one.
The man takes one look toward Finn, who is jittery with nerves, and says, "you know, statistically, the chance of him hurting Annie now is very low, especially considering that she's being used as some form of leverage."
"No offence dude, but please stop talking." He really doesn't need to hear the statistics on his daughter still being alive, thank you very much. Finn waits for the signal from Santana, who soon starts leading the team plus extra officers toward the building, each creeping through the yard. Finn clutches his gun, pointing it ahead – he has to take deep breathes to steady himself.
As they approach the house – it looks like any normal family home he's encountered – the anticipation grows. He's done this more times than he can count, but never before has he been doing it to try and save his own blood, or a person that he cares deeply about. It's a different feeling entirely, and certainly not one that he likes.
Step by step, they finally near the front door, Finn pressing himself against the wall to remain hidden in case the UNSUB is watching. The officer nearest to him slowly picks the lock, and then opens the door with a soft push. Sending a nod toward Santana, he steps inside, his gun held up. It's so quiet. He peers around, looking for any sign of movement, but again he finds nothing. Frustration builds within him; he just wants to find him and put him away forever, where he can't hurt anyone else.
The agents spread out through the lower floor, not one voice being raised as they silently and efficiently sweep through the rooms. All he finds is an empty house. Returning to the hallway, he watches as Blaine and Puck descend the staircase, shaking their heads. Finn feels his hopes slowly slipping away – where the hell if this guy? More importantly, where is his daughter? "I don't understand," he begins, "he's supposed to be here." She's supposed to be here. His jaw locks, and he peers around at the rest of the group. "Search the whole grounds again, including the outside. "
Though he can tell the others think it's doubtful, they still repeat a search, probably more for his benefit than anything. He finds his feet carrying him outside, onto the dry, unkempt grass where his eyes scan around the yard. It's secluded by the mass of tress seemingly on all sides, tall and intimidating. Eyes downcast, he looks for any signs of something more. His intuition is telling him that something isn't right, that the UNSUB couldn't have just left, especially when Artie said that there's been no movement seen on the CCTV footage. He glances around again – the trees would definitely block any indication of movement within the yard.
Finn notes that some of the grass is worn, not so much that it's obvious but just enough to make it noticeable that someone's been walking this way. He follows, aware that a couple of officers are flanking either side of his, but Finn ignores them; all he cares about is finding Annie and Rachel.
The shadows cast by the trees cause the ground to become darker as he steps further from the house. Finn's almost in some sort of trance, unaware to the rest of his surroundings, as he looks for anything. Perhaps it's more of a clutching at straws situation, his desperation getting the better of him and causing ill-judged actions, yet Finn can't shake off his suspicions.
Ever so gently, he shuffles the leaves that blanket the floor with reds and oranges. For the first few minutes, he's unsuccessful, only revealing bare earth beneath his feet, and then his foot lands on something hollow with a thud. Finn freezes, his breath catching in the back of his throat.
He instantly lowers himself to his knees, hand brushing away all of the leaves to reveal an old trap door blending in with its surroundings. "Lopez!" he's calling for Santana before he even realizes.
Rachel watches helplessly as her father ties up Annie's hands with thick rope, having no mercy with the tightness of his binds. Already she can see the winces and tears from the girl, that aren't caused by her fear. She tugs at the handcuffs again, ignoring the pain where the metal has dug into her wrists, and blood now wells in the cuts. "Please," she tries once more.
By now she's realized that Annie's part of his escape plan – why else would she still be alive? - and that said plan is going to be happening very soon. She doesn't bear to think about what will happen if he succeeds in his endeavors, and what it means for her. "Let her go," she says more forcefully this time.
"Shut up!" he yells in return, giving her another viewing of the rage that keeps returning. Rachel goes for a different method, fearing that provoking him will only end in hurt for either her or Annie.
"Dad," she begins quietly, feeling sick when that word falls from her lips. His face softens in an instant, gaze falling upon her. Just as she's about to speak again, a loud thud causes all three to jump, while he instantly reaches into his back pocket. Rachel's eyes widen when she sees the gun produced.
He grips Annie's upper arm, throwing her beside Rachel, who catches the girl with her own free arm. Annie hides her face against Rachel's shoulder, shivering with fear. "You keep her quiet," he orders with a low growl, his movements suddenly much more jerky as the gun is pointed toward them.
Rachel tries not to flinch, but her shaky body doesn't listen to her wishes, and she tenses, wide eyes staring toward the gun. Her arm tightens its hold on Annie, while her father casts a nervous glance behind him, panic surging through his eyes. It's Finn, Rachel knows that, but right now she can't feel relieved while she's staring down the barrel of a gun. "Get behind me," she whispers to Annie, "and stay there." Though reluctantly, the little girl moves from Rachel's grasp to crawl behind her, eyes peeping over her shoulder at the crazed man.
The door swings open, light flooding down the stairs. "FBI, don't move!" she hears Finn say, and she's never been happier to hear his voice before.
But her Father keeps his hand steady, gun still facing her, even as Finn and Santana descend into the room. Finn sends one look at the two on the floor, his expression hardening when he sees the bruise forming on Rachel's cheek.
"Don't take her away from me," he demands, though there are hints of a plea to the man's tone.
"No one's going to take her away," Santana says, seeing as she's the calmer of the two agents.
"They took her away last time." His voice cracks, eyes darting to Rachel again, whose skin crawls under his gaze. She jumps slightly when she feels a hand slipping into her own, but her body soon relaxes as she realizes it's just Annie, and she squeezes back in the most comforting manner she can manage. The man takes a step nearer to Rachel, blocking her from Santana and Finn's sight. "You can't have her. She's mine."
Suddenly, Rachel finds her voice, knowing that she can at least get Annie out of here safely. "I-I am yours," she says, eyes closing for a brief moment. "And...we'll be together – just... just listen to them." She finally lifts her gaze to meet his own, "please... d-dad."
He falters, for only a moment. "They'll take you, Sophie."
"They won't," she replies, "I promise. I'm s-staying right here." She knows that it's all a lie, but she still hates the words that she speaks. Her father looks from her to Finn and Santana, who remain with hard expressions as they watch the exchange on words. On the inside, Finn is desperate to do more, knowing that this must be killing Rachel right now.
Rachel continues, trying to hold back the quiver from her tone, "b-but I need you to do something for me."
"Anything," he breathes.
"I need you to let the girl go." She notes the way that he tenses, opening his mouth to quickly protest, but she reassures him in an instant. "I'll still be here. If you let her go, it'll be just us – just like you always wanted..."
Her eyes search his expression, watching the conflict that crosses his face. She hopes that this isn't too much for his unstable mind to comprehend, but if she keeps promising that she's there, that she's always going to be there, he shouldn't do anything too dangerous.
"Will you do that?" she asks him gently, "for me?"
He doesn't answer, but she watches as his grip on the gun becomes looser, so she gently coaxes Annie onto her feet. "It's okay," she tells the shaking child, "everything is okay. Go to your Daddy." With a soft push in Finn's direction, she holds her breath as Annie hesitantly walks past Rachel's own father to Finn, who pulls her into the tightest of hugs. Tears flooding into his eyes, he holds her to his chest, relishing in his daughter's embrace, but the moment is short lived as her Father is still armed and Rachel trapped.
Despite wanting to hold her for as long as possible, Finn gives Annie to Blaine to get her out of this awful basement, knowing that she's safe with her Uncle.
"You have her. Now get out!" he growls at Finn. He takes another step backwards, right in front of Rachel now. "Leave us alone."
The guns remain trained on him, and he only becomes more enraged. "I said leave!" he shouts, swinging his gun around to the two agents, rather than aiming it at Rachel. While she's relieved that she's no longer in the firing line, Finn and Santana are, and she still can't relax. Her eyes meet briefly with Finn's for a moment, a whole mix of feelings spreading through her body. "Go, just go!" Now, he screams, desperation crawling through the cracks in his voice.
But they don't. Neither are leaving without Rachel, and so they remain as calm as they can. "Lower your weapon, and then -"
"No, get out!" One more step back, his feet now inches away from where Rachel's sat on the floor.
His hands shake once more, finger making its way to the trigger. Rachel feels her body freeze with terror as she sees this, making a rash decision. Though she can't free herself of the handcuffs, she twists her body as quietly as she can, lifting her legs, before she swings them again the man's. The force brings him off his feet, at the same time the shock causing him to shoot.
All agents duck when the bullet flies upwards, Santana flying forward to keep the UNSUB to the floor. He screams and struggles against her grip, more so when Finn dives in to help her. Minutes later and Santana's dragging him out in handcuffs, while Finn kneels down to Rachel, who is trying her best to keep it together. "Rach," he whispers, pulling her in for the tightest of hugs. She reciprocates with the same amount of strength, though her body still trembles. She could have died, or worse, she could have been taken and hidden away for years.
But it's finally over – she's finally free of that man.
She feels tears freely flowing, and the words slip out. "Finn, I'm so sorry – this is all my fault." Rachel's fingers clutch at him, "I knew, but I was just too scared to say anything and... your daughter almost got hurt because of me." She shakes her head, the blame a heavy weight on her shoulders.
"Hey," he soothes, "everyone is fine – it's okay, Rachel."
"No it's not," she insists. "I'm sorry."
"I lied about other things, too," she says, ignoring his words. As she speaks, he makes quick work of taking off the handcuff keeping her to the table. "You were right when you said that I don't have any friends... the closest thing I have to one is my cat." She lowers her gaze, "I just threw myself into work because it was easier than letting my defenses down to other people." The thought of anyone ever finding out about her past has always scared Rachel, yet now the truth is out and there's nothing she can do about it.
He gently lifts her chin with his fingers, forcing her to look at him. "Hey, I'm your friend."
More tears fall. "I also lied when I said I had a boyfriend – I just... I was being defensive and I... only said it because I was trying to deny that I – I felt something toward you. Well, I still do, but it's... I almost died." She finishes her rambling with an overwhelmed look, and Finn helps her to her feet, knowing that she's in shock.
While he's happy to hear that she has feelings for him – well, beyond happy, really –, he knows that Rachel needs to get out of here and to be checked over by the paramedics. The last thing she needs right now is for him to start bombarding her with relationship questions.
She blinks as she steps outside, eyes glancing around the mass of officers, and only briefly catching as her Father is locked away in one of the cars. He's shouting to her, but she just turns her head and leans closer to Finn.
She's aware of people asking her if she's okay, and she thinks how strange it is being in the place of the victim rather than the agent, but she nods. She'll be okay, at some point in the future. Finn rushes them over to Annie, who is held in Blaine's arms, and she's clearly been crying again. At the sight of Finn, she runs over, diving against him.
"Hey baby girl," he smiles wider than she's ever seen, cradling his daughter in his arms. "Thank God you're okay." He kisses her hairline, hugging her once more. He never, ever wants to let go again.
The next few hours are all a blur, as the team get over the shock of finding out about their boss' past, while Rachel deals with the mass of emotions running through her. She feels like a zombie as the paramedics cleans her cuts and make sure she's in good health, and then soon enough they find themselves on the plane home, everyone silent.
She ignores all eyes following her as she moves to sit beside Finn, who's holding his sleeping daughter on his lap, eyes gazing down at her. He gently strokes though her hair, content to just hold her.
Rachel tries a smile, but it comes out as more of a grimace. "Hey," she whispers.
"How are you holding up?" he asks worriedly. "No offence, but you look exhausted."
She shrugs, not noticing when she leans into him, "I'm tired, but I'm scared that if I sleep I'll have nightmares."
"Sleep," he orders, "I'll be right here if you wake up, okay?" He tells her the exact same words he had said to Annie before she'd gone to sleep. Rachel gives him a grateful smile, leaning her head against his shoulder, closing her eyes slowly. She feels safe as she drifts off.
And now, just one more chapter left! :)