Disclaimer: The characters of ‘The Equalizer do NOT belong to me, never have, never will, although I wish. L No copyright infringement intended.
Some tell us waiting can be good fortune
While others say it's nothing more than bad news.
~*~ Chapter 1 ~*~
She sat back in the chair. 9:39 P.M. Nick was late by a half an hour. She started to fidget nervously. It wasn’t like him to be late, especially for a dinner date. She watched newcomers walk in and out, but none were Nick Vari. Va’Shanna growled mentally. Where the hell was he?
Another customer entered ‘Pete’s’. He had sandy brown hair that was short, yet still long enough to get into his face, hazel eyes, and clad in tight blue jeans and a Navy pea coat. The woman smiled and waited for him to come over to her table. The only problem was that he didn’t go to her table. He made a beeline to another table where an older man, dressed in an expensive suit, sat.
"Hello, Mickey." Robert looked at his colleague. "You’re late."
"Traffic." A waiter came over to their table and Mickey ordered a beer. As the waiter went to fetch his drink, the woman made her way over to the table.
McCall arched his eyebrow at Mickey, who looked at the woman. "Can I help you?"
"Nick, what the hell is going on?" she demanded. "It’s been almost an hour!" There was a hint of an Irish accent in her voice.
"Lady, I’m not Nick." Mickey looked her over. She stood about 5’8", very long, dark red hair, with bluish-hazel eyes. Damn, but she looked hot.
She looked from him to the white hair man. "And who are you?"
"I’m Robert McCall… but I’m afraid I don’t know your name."
She pulled out a chair and sat next to Mickey, looking into his eyes. He looked like Nick, but there was something that told her it really wasn’t Nick.
"What’s your name?" she questioned, ignoring Robert’s statement.
"What’s it to you?" Mickey glanced at his friend, giving him one of his looks.
"I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour for a… friend. And somehow you look just like him."
That made him chuckle. "Look lady, I don’t know who you’re looking for, but it ain’t me." Although he kind of wished she was looking for him.
Robert restated his question towards the woman. "What is your name?"
Her eyes studied the English man for a few moments before saying, "Va'Shanna or V. for short."
"Well then, Va'Shanna, perhaps we can help you find your… friend."
She glanced at Mickey. "Yes. Perhaps you can."
Reflections in the mirror tell us what and who we are
But do we really listen to it?
He blinked his eyes. He could hear water dripping. It was cold. When he tried moving his hands, he found it impossible, they were shackled above his head, and his ankles were chained to the floor. The only piece of clothing still providing any cover was his jeans. He groaned, blinking again. Hearing a door open, he looked up and tried to focus on the figure in the darkness.
"How are we feeling Mr. Kostmayer?" a Russian voice drawled.
What’s a Kostmayer? He thought to himself. Out loud he said, "Peachy, thanks."
"I apologize about the… conditions you’re under, but you can understand, I wouldn’t want to let my prize get free, now would I?" He walked closer to his prisoner. "You know what I want Mr. Kostmayer, so tell me and I’ll make your pain less."
Yeah right. "I don’t know what you’re talking about."
"Now, now, don’t make this hard. Tell me what we want to know." The other man laughed. "I want my information now!"
"I know nothing!" An electric tazer hit his bare chest. Nick bit his lip to stop from screaming out in pain. After ten seconds the weapon was removed.
"I ask you again, the information!"
"I told you, I know nothing damn it!" The tazer came in contact with his flesh again and wasn’t removed for fifteen seconds this time.
"I want to know everything about Control, his operatives, and McCall. And I assure you, Kostmayer, you will tell me everything I want to know."
Why does he keep calling me Kostmayer? Who in the *hell* is Kostmayer?! Nick Vari glared at the other man. "Go to hell."
"You’ll have a long wait."
"We’ll see." He applied the tazer again, on its highest setting. He smiled, hearing who he thought was Michael Kostmayer, yell out in pain.
~*~ Chapter 2 ~*~
Va'Shanna sighed heavily. This Robert McCall character was being less than helpful.
"For the final time, yes, his name is Nick Vari. That’s his picture."
Mickey rubbed his chin. It was like he was looking in the mirror. The man in the picture had the same build, the same sandy brown hair and hazel eyes. He leaned back in the chair and glanced at his watch. It was almost eleven.
"McCall, I’ve heard the saying ‘Everyone has a double’ but this is too damn weird."
Robert wasn’t going to argue with him on that. He looked at Va'Shanna.
"Who would want him?"
She chuckled softly. "Take your pick." It was hard for her to look at the man Mickey, and know it wasn’t Nick. They looked so identical and it was getting to her more than she thought possible. "Mr. McCall, you can have your errand boy here do whatever you want, but I’m not going to sit back and wait for something to come up." She stood up, ignoring Mickey’s glare.
"And what are you going to do? Do you know what you’re even looking for?"
She smiled coldly. "I’m quite old, I believe I can find something."
"We might be able to find him sooner if we worked together." Robert studied her. "Wouldn’t you agree?"
Va'Shanna took a deep breath. "Where do you suggest we start then?"
McCall drove back to his apartment. The ride was quiet, yet the tension was noticeable. Mickey stared out the window. He couldn’t get over the fact that another guy that looked exactly like him was in the same state and city as he. It felt as though he was starring in some strange Twilight Zone episode. The other thing he noticed about the woman was that her complexion was paler than his.
When McCall stopped the car, the trio made their way up to his apartment. Va'Shanna didn’t see why they needed to stop at his apartment, but if it would help find Nick, she was willing to do it. Robert opened his door and when he walked in, he saw Control sitting there on his couch.
"Control, what the hell are you doing here?"
"Robert, there’s something I have to tell you." Control stopped when he saw the red haired woman and Kostmayer. "Mickey."
"That’s my name don’t wear it out."
"You were reported kidnapped." Control looked at McCall. "One of…" he glared at the woman, who returned the glare. "Robert, maybe we should speak somewhere more privately."
She growled. "Mr. McCall, I am trying to find my friend, I don’t have all night." She walked closer to Control. "Now, you were saying one of. One of what?"
Mickey leaned against the wall, amused at the scene before him. It was going to be one long night. "Control, what do you mean I was reported kidnapped?"
"Vachon reported you as being shot down and carried off in a van."
"Why didn’t he do anything to stop it?!" the woman piped in angrily.
Control looked at Robert as if saying: ‘Who the hell is this woman?’.
McCall must’ve caught on because he adjusted his voice and said, "This is Va'Shanna. She’s looking for a missing friend who happens to look like Mickey." He showed the picture of Nick Vari to Control.
"So they have this…man and believe they actually have Mickey?"
"It appears that way, yes."
Kostmayer watched as Va'Shanna stared out the window. Being himself, he walked over to her. "Look, I’m sure we’ll find him."
"Yeah." She didn’t look to face him.
Mickey sighed heavily. McCall and Control were still talking. Okay, say something smart Kostmayer. There was something about the woman that told him she wasn’t what she seemed. But what it was, he didn’t know and he didn’t like not knowing.
He touched her hand, and was surprised by how cold it was. "We will find him."
Tell a lie, tell the truth
What's the difference if they believe you or not?
He couldn’t stop the constant pounding in his head. Nick replayed how he got
stuck in this situation in the first place. Two hours ago, he was on his way to a place called ‘Pete’s’ to meet up with Va'Shanna when he noticed the dark brown van following him. Naturally, he thought he could handle it. He didn’t know how, but when they jumped out of the van, they had overpowered him quickly.
Well at least they’re not after Va'Shanna…that’s good…I think…Nick blinked and rattled his chains loudly. Come on…break damn it. But they didn’t. Hearing voices outside the door, he tried listening to pick on anything. Russians, great.
"Comrade Staveros, we have word that the Americans got word of Mr. Kostmayer’s disappearance."
"They…are…looking for him."
"And this should concern me because? We have the upper hand here Markov."
Markov rubbed his chin. "Do you think he’s actually going to tell us the information?"
"In time. All in due time." Staveros opened the door and walked inside, the door closing after him. "Ah, Mr. Kostmayer, how are we feeling?"
"Ya know, who the hell is Kostmayer anyway? That name is getting tedious."
"No, you’re the one who is tedious." He smiled as he circled around Nick. "Where are Control’s operatives at? What is McCall’s purpose as this ‘Equalizer’? Is this just a front to hide that he’s still working for the Company?!"
"I don’t know what a Control or a Mccall is for the hundredth time!" Of course, that only made them give him another hit from the tazer. His body jerked violently.
"Stop lying to me! I want my answers now!" he punched Nick viciously, making his face slam to the side.
"What part of I know nothing don’t you understand?!"
"I want the truth," Staveros growled.
"I’m telling… you… the truth." Nick took advantage of the time to catch his breath.
"Liar!" He struck out at Nick again, contacting with an open wound.
Nick released a blood-curdling scream.
"Let us try the question again, hmm?"
Control had left to go back to the Company building to find out what he could while Va'Shanna sat next to Mickey on the couch. McCall came out with tea.
"Tea?" he offered Va'Shanna.
"Huh? Oh, no thanks."
"So, Ms. Va'Shanna… what do you do?"
"What do you mean what do I do?"
"For a living." He blew on his tea then sipped at it.
She smiled a bit. "Nothing interesting. I keep a low profile… I like being unnoticed." When I can be, anyway… "What about you Mr. McCall?"
"Robert, please. My business is helping people."
"I see." Her eyes flickered over to Mickey. "What about you?"
"Me? I’m a troubleshooter." He grinned crookedly.
She chuckled softly. "I’m sure you are." If only you knew how much you remind me of Nick…She rubbed her hands together. Dawn was approaching soon, and she knew she had to get back home. "Well, I need to go." Va'Shanna stood up.
Mickey threw McCall a knowing look. "Are you sure you don't want to stay here and try to cover more ground?"
"Yes, I'm positive." She walked to the door.
"Is there a way I can reach you if I find anything?"
Her lips curled in a small smile. "Oh, don't worry about that. I'll find you." She left.
Mickey looked at McCall. "Why am I paranoid when a woman says 'I'll find you'?"
Robert chuckled softly as he sat down on the sofa. "If they believe they have you… then you'll have to stay out of sight." He rubbed his chin.
"What about Va'Shanna? She doesn't seem the type of woman to stay back and wait."
"No, she doesn't, does she?"
"What do you want me to do?"
"We can't put this… Nick Vari at risk." McCall sat back and thought. "Hopefully she won't do much snooping around… if there's someone in the Company that really wanted someone to find you and if she comes across it…"
"It won't be pretty," Mickey finished for him. "Do you want me to follow her?" Not that he'd really have a problem with that part.
He looked at his friend. "Stay out of sight?"
Mickey grinned. "You know me."
McCall rubbed the end of his nose. "Yes, I do, and that's what worries me."
Kostmayer looked at the elder man as if deciding if he should laugh or scowl. Then he finally stood up, shaking his head and said, "Later McCall."
Va'Shanna kicked her door closed and made her way into the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator door, she took out a wine bottle holding red liquid. Drinking from the bottle, not bothering with a glass, she walked over to the bookcases where there was a picture of Nick.
"I'll find you Nick." She sighed heavily. How could a man look and sound so much Nick? Va'Shanna finished the liquid quicker than expected. She clutched the bottle so tightly that it broke, cutting her hand. Bored, she watched it heal.
Think. You got a Robert McCall and… this Nick look-a-like named Mickey… now use it to your advantage. She sat on the couch and thought.
His lip was busted open, and he was sure some of his ribs were broken. Nick's insides were screaming and crawling to get out. He shivered. How long he had been here? He didn't know. Hell, where here was he had no idea. Damn these Russians. Damn this Control and Robert McCall. Blinking his eyes and trying to ignore the constant banging at the back of his eyes, he tried to find a way out of the chains again.
Where is Va'Shanna when I actually could use her help? He groaned, hearing the door opening again. Here we go…
"Still with us Mr. Kostmayer?"
"What does it look like?" he growled. "And stop calling me that."
"It is your name, is it not? We know you work for the CIA. Do not take me for a fool my American friend." He circled around Nick slowly. "So tell me."
"Tell you what?" If only he had his lock picks on him…
"The information concerning Robert McCall, Control, and the damn company!" the Russian roared.
"Maybe if you listened for once in your pathetic life, you'd know I'm telling the truth."
Growling, Staveros hit Nick across the chest hard. He groaned loudly in pain. He didn't see him bring a steel pipe in. So much for the bones that weren't broken…
"Now, Mr. Kostmayer," his Russian accent came out thick, "simply tell me what I need to know."
"I… know… nothing!"
Staveros growled and muttered something about Americans. "Very well Mr. Kostmayer. You wish to do this the hard way, yes?" He grabbed a fistful of his hair and yanked Nick's head up. "Then we shall give it to you the hard way." He smiled. "In the mean time, you're mine to torment."
~*~ Chapter 3 ~*~
Mickey yawned as he sat in his van, which was parked outside of Va'Shanna's apartment building. He glanced at his watch. 10:02 A.M. She hadn't moved out of the building since he got here. Was there something he missed? He studied the apartments. Judging by the size of the building, he guessed she lived around the second or third floor. Meantime, he should do some investigating.
It would help if you knew her last name, he told himself.
Kostmayer squinted his eyes, seeing one of the curtains move. He made a mental note of it. He was going to check it out later. It was going to be a long wait.
Quicker than he thought, it was nighttime. Finally! He saw her walk out of the front door of the apartment.
Took you long enough. Intently, he watched her walk down the street and stop in mid walk. Her head glanced around as if looking for something…or someone. For some reason, her eyes narrowed at the van Mickey was sitting in. She made her way over.
Ah come on! How the hell did she… There wasn't anywhere he could at the moment, so he looked at her as she knocked on his window. He rolled it down.
"Mickey, hi." She smiled. "Enjoying the watch?"
He smiled a bit to cover up his surprise that she saw him so quickly. "What do you think?"
Her eyes looked him over. Man, but those jeans fit him perfect just as they did Nick. In spite of herself she smiled. "So... what were you actually doing?"
"Waiting for you actually."
"Yeah." He leaned back in the seat.
"I see." She looked in his van. "So um, found anything that'll be useful to help me find Nick?"
"We're working on it. " The bitter wind chilled him. "Do you, uh, wanna sit in here? It's warmer than out there."
"I need to get to work on finding Nick."
"We'll cover more ground if there's two of us instead of one." He watched her.
She thought it over briefly. "Fine." Mickey watched her walk over to the other side of the van appreciatively. Damn, but those leather pants were speaking volumes. She slid into the seat and closed the door after her. He started up the van. Feeling her gaze on him, he looked at her.
"Uh? Oh, nothing." At his look, she shrugged and said, "What can I say? You and Nick look and sound alike… both of you are quite good looking." She smiled a bit.
Oh boy… He shook his head, bemused, and pulled out onto the streets. As he drove, he could still feel her looking at him.
"Isn't it a little dangerous for you to be outdoors?" she finally asked.
Mickey chuckled. If only she knew what he did for a living… "Ah, I can take of myself."
"I'm sure." Va'Shanna fell silent for a few more moments before she spoke again. "Do you have any idea who would want to capture you? I mean… for someone to want you so badly, you'll have to be in something deep." She glanced at him. "Like a job or something."
There was something in the tone of her voice that sent a chill throughout his body. It sounded like she knew something more than she was really letting on. "Kidnappings happens all the time," he said at last.
"Yes, but this is something more dangerous." She paused. "They're looking for information out of you, aren't they?"
Kostmayer slowed the van down to stop at the red light. He was getting a really bad feeling about this woman. "What're you getting at?"
"These aren't your every day thugs, are they? You and… McCall believe they're something bigger. More dangerous." She looked at him intently.
He found himself unable to lie to her. "Yes." Before she could say anything he quickly added, "Which is why you have to stay out of it and trust in us to find him."
She stared out the window. There was no way she was going to stay out of it. It wasn't like she was the average woman worrying about her boyfriend. She was the type to take action with or without anyone's help. Then again, she wasn't really just a human woman…
"You can't promise his safety." Va'Shanna paused. "You can't even promise you'll bring him out alive."
Mickey sighed heavily. When he went to open his mouth to say something, she said, "So tell me Mickey, what kind of work do you do that would endanger Nick?"
He looked at her, then at the roads, seeing the light change. "My enemies blow things way outta proportion."
~*~ Chapter 4 ~*~
Jason Masur sat at a restaurant, eating a tuna sandwich. Sensing someone walk up to him, he looked up. A man stood next to him, dressed in a casual office business suit.
"Mr. Masur," he greeted.
"Lynch," he swallowed his food, and wiped his mouth with a napkin. "Do you have him?"
"Yes, everything is running as accorded to plan." He joined Jason at the table, briefly glancing around out of habit. "Tell me Masur, why would you defect? Betraying your own people?"
"I have my reasons."
Lynch chuckled softly. "I'm sure you do." He rubbed his chin. "Does anyone suspect anything?"
Jason looked at him. "I'm sure Control does, but he's just an old man who will soon be in a retirement home…or in a grave next to Kostmayer, which ever one comes first." He smiled.
Meanwhile, Nick wasn't having the best time of his life by far. He was really hoping that Va'Shanna was doing something to find him. It had been maybe ten minutes since the last time he saw his tormentor.
How do I get myself stuck into these kind of situations?! He couldn't even blame this one on V. He was cold, angry, frustrated, tired, and in pain. Nick had been moved from his last position of hanging from the ceiling and he was now chained down in a cold metal chair. Not that the new position was going to help him any…
When the door opened again, he didn't bother to look up again. He didn't need to. He knew who it was.
"It's good that you last as long as you have, Mr. Kostmayer," Staveros, as he expected, announced in that annoying Russian voice.
I'm *not* Mr. Kostmayer you idiot. Nick didn't raise his head to look at him.
"But, we will get the information we desire." Staveros paused, and looked down at the small black leather case in his hand. He unzipped the case showing the blue velvet lining. Nestling inside was a syringe and a small bottle filled with a certain drug that would cause the American to…well, make his tongue loose.
"Unless you've change your mind and wish to tell us want we want to know, your pain'll be less."
Nick glanced up at him. "Please do credit me with some intelligence."
Staveros smacked him soundly across the face slamming his face to the right. Staveros took the syringe out with the small bottle. Lifting it to eye level he stuck the needle through the rubber cap on the bottle and filled it up with the drug. He pushed up the plunger to expel air bubbles as he moved on Nick.
Oh no. No. I hate it when they have needles! Nick kept his face emotionless. When the needle poked into his skin he let out an involuntary grunt. He could already feel the drug in his veins. Too fast it started to take effect, and it scared him. What would happen to him when they found out he wasn't this Kostmayer? Sure, there had been plenty of times where he thought he'd die, especially with V.'s enemies, but this was different. Dammit…get yourself out of this Nick!
Watching the man, whom he believed, was Michael Kostmayer, Staveros asked: "Is the 'Equalizer' a front to cover that Robert McCall is still in the Company?"
Resisting the drugs, he said, "No, like I told you before."
"Is Robert McCall still in the Company?!"
"I don't know anyone called McCall!"
The Russian watched Nick more, noticing the sweat start to build on his brow.
"Tell me about Control's operatives then. Who are his best agents? Where are they stationed?"
"I… don't… know."
"You do know, Mr. Kostmayer."
"I'm not… a Kostmayer…" Nick blinked his eyes. He really despised drugs that made him talk friendly.
Staveros growled. "If you're not Kostmayer, then who are you?" He thought he might as well play along, maybe he'd get the information that way.
"V…a...r…i…" He berated himself for letting the name slip out.
Staveros arched his eyebrow. "All right…'Nick Vari'," he clearly didn't believe he was telling the truth, "tell me about Control's operatives and McCall."
"Know…no…call…or trol." What kind of drug did they inject in him anyway?!
"What is McCall's status in the Company?!"
Nick's head lowered a bit, but was pulled up by the Russian grabbing his hair. "Tell me!"
"I… know… nothing…"
Growling, he hit him across the face and let go of his head. Damn the Americans and those who created the drug. It was supposed to make the American tell him everything he wanted. Unless he was telling the truth… No, this man was Kostmayer. It had to be. Hitting Nick once more he took out his gun and shot him in the knee. Nick howled in pain, and jerked wildly in the chair.
"Control's operatives, who are they and where are they stationed?!"
"I. Told. You. I. Know. Nothing. Dammit."
"You're a liar!"
"I'm telling…the…truth!" his speech was getting more slurred.
"You're not, we both know you're lying. Tell me what I need to know Kostmayer!"
"Stop playing these games!" When Nick fell silent, Staveros hit him with the butt of his gun, knocking him cold.
We never know what we have and take for granted until it's too late and we lose it.
"No Scott, it isn’t that I don't want to see you, I'm… just a little… yes I know your concert is tomorrow." Robert took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "Scott… I'm… " He waited for Scott to finish. "Scott, I'm a little occupied at the moment, can I call you back? All right. Yes. Bye." He put the phone on the hook, shaking his head. Some things with his son would never change.
McCall padded into the kitchen to get himself some tea. He really wished he had the answers to help this Va'Shanna find her friend. He still couldn't get over the idea that there was another man in New York that looked exactly like his colleague.
Setting the teacup down, he heard a knock at his door. He looked up and his brow furrowed. Who was it? It wouldn't be Control, and Mickey should still be with Va'Shanna, out of sight. Padding over to the door, he looked in the peephole to see Jimmy standing outside. Quirking a brow, he opened the door.
"Hey McCall," Jimmy rubbed his hands together and entered as Robert moved to let him in.
"How goes it?"
"Not good." At his look, he explained further: "I think, that Jason's up to something."
"Yeah. Saw him yesterday in one of those very expensive restaurants." Jimmy paused. "And the guy he was talking with didn't look like anyone that'd be his buddy, if you know what I'm saying."
Robert nodded. "I want you to stay on him, and his 'campaign'."
Jimmy nodded a few times. "Oh okay. When I find something you'll be the first to know."
"Thank you, Jimmy."
He watched him leave. Great, was Jason somehow involved in this? Or was he the one who started all this? Robert wouldn't put it past him. He let his mind wander. If this…Nick Vari were mistaken for Mickey, who would have him? And if Jason was involved with this, what was his purpose and with whom had he made the deal? So many questions that needed answers. Hopefully he'd get the answers before it was too late.
Mickey glanced around her apartment. There were two black sofas in the living room, a TV set, stereo system, and many, many bookshelves covering the walls. Her apartment smelled of jasmine. He also noticed her collection of swords and daggers on the wall.
"You're a collector?"
She smiled at him. "More or less." He walked over to the swords, to get a closer look at them. "Want something to drink? I have coffee and tea."
"Coffee." He studied the sword that had the name 'Remirez' engraved into the handle. It was also decorated in Celtic signs. The sword was a little over a foot in length, and it was kept clean and polished. He could even see his reflection because of how polished it was. She returned with his drink and followed his gaze.
Mickey nodded, taking the cup. "Yeah, looks old."
"It is. Been around since the mid 1400's."
He let out a low whistle. "How did ya get it?"
She smiled a little. "It was… well, let's just say handed down to me."
Mickey carefully sipped at his coffee. "How long have you known him?"
"Who? Nick? Five years. Why?"
"So," she started to speak, sitting on the armrest of the sofa, "Are you ever going to tell me what you really do for a living?"
"Maybe." He smiled at her. "What about you? What do you really do for a living?"
"Keep myself busy." She returned the smile as she changed the subject. "Do you have any idea of where Nick would be kept at?"
"No, not yet." Even though both he and McCall suspected it was a building somewhere in New York. Just finding the building was the trick.
"And I assume neither of you have any idea who has him?"
She nodded slightly. "Yeah…"
~*~ Chapter 5 ~*~
Staveros leaned back in his chair, looking at the papers he held in his hand. He had had Markov check out the name Nick Vari to see if it really was a person or just a made up name. It turned out that Nick Vari was actually the man that he held. Had a driver's license, information about him being in the military and intelligence branch. The man could've been Kostmayer's twin… and not only by his physical appearance.
So the real Michael Kostmayer is still out there…we got the wrong man. But that didn't mean the KGB couldn't use him. Oh no, they would brainwash him, go through drills with him. He would become Kostmayer. Staveros grinned. This was working out better than he thought possible. He would have Vari's memories replaced with Kostmayer's. This would mean he could actually have this Nick Vari get close enough to Control and kill him. Still, they would have to try to find the real Kostmayer, to keep him out of sight while Vari was doing their work.
There was a knock at his office door and he called to let whoever it was enter. It was Markov. "Comrade Staveros, do you have any plans what you want done with the man?"
"Da," he said, standing up. "Take him to the preparation room."
"Preparation room, Comrade?" Markov questioned. Surely the American wouldn't be useful pumped with hallucinogens, would he?
"Da," the elder man replied again. "He isn't Kostmayer. Which means we'll use him in another way… get in contact with Lynch and tell him to get that defector to make arrangements for us to pick up the real agent."
Markov nodded then turned on his heel, and left. Staveros smiled as he made his way back into the room that held Nick. He looked at the American that was still in the chair, head lowered; resting on his chest.
"How are we doing?"
Nick didn't answer him. The Russian grabbed a fist full of his hair and pulled on it.
"You should see how pathetic you look," he told Vari.
Nick glared at him, trying to think of a retort, but for some reason, maybe because of the drugs that were already running through his system, he couldn't. Or probably it was just the fact he didn't want to leak any more information out…
"Ah, but don't worry. We have plans for you."
I bet…where the hell are you V.? Markov appeared at the door minutes later.
"Comrade Staveros, it is ready."
"Excellent. Get our…'friend' ready."
Markov nodded and moved in with another man. They maneuvered over to the chair that Nick was in. Carefully, making sure that he wouldn't escape, they unlocked one of the chains that fastened him to the metal chair and grabbed him around his upper arms to lift him up. Staveros watched as they carried him out of the room. A smile spread across his face as the American protested and tried to wrench free of the two men. The drugs that had been injected in him had weakened him too much for him to do anything about his opportunity to get free. Soon enough, Nick, as well as the two men, disappeared from the room, leaving Staveros alone, smiling.
Robert McCall killed the engine after he parked his jaguar outside a building. Glancing around briefly, he opened the door, and moved out of the car. He had phoned Control to arrange a meeting about Nick Vari. As expected, Control, dressed in a dark blue business jacket, business pants, and bow tie that was loosened and blew gently in the breeze, was standing there waiting for him.
"You wanted to see me?"
"Yes, I did." Robert walked a little bit with his friend before he said, "Jason, what has he been doing lately?"
Control looked at him. "What he does best; annoy the hell out of me."
"I'm talking about… Has he been leaving the office early, or later than usual?"
Control furrowed his brow. "He bubbles everywhere Robert, you know that."
"Control, a man's life is at stake here. Just tell me, has he been leaving earlier than usual or what?"
The other man looked off to the distance. "If he's leaving the building earlier than usual, he must have a date." Although he knew damned well what Robert wanted to know, but he never was the kind to come right out with the answer. They continued to walk.
"That's it, that's all you can tell me?" McCall's voice said clearly that he didn't believe Control was telling him all he wanted to know. Robert had known Control for a long time…
"For the time being, old son."
Robert shook his head a bit, then turned on his heel, and headed back to his car. He sat in the Jag for a moment or two, staring out the front window. Control hadn't been any help, as usual. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel for a moment before he put the car into gear and drove off. After all, he had to make a visit someone before he could draw the big fish in.
Jimmy stood outside of a building, clutching a large hot coffee. Being a small man, he was chilled to the bone. Just as he was taking a sip from the coffee, he saw a familiar vehicle. He watched as the man got out of the car and made his way over to him.
"So what has been happening with our little 'friend'?"
"He's been in that building," he nodded towards a good size building, with dead leaves crawling on the walls, "for almost three hours."
"Did you see him going in with anyone?"
"Yeah, some fancy looking guys."
Robert nodded. "Keep watch, I'll be back soon."
"Will do." He sniffed and took a long sip from his coffee.
McCall nodded as he went back to his jag and drove off after getting in. As he drove, he checked his messages. The first and only message he had was from Mickey. He checked his watch. Mickey had last called him around three in the morning and it was late around eight o'clock in the morning now. He slowed the car down to stop for the red light. He would need Kostmayer when he went in to meet, if that was the right word, Jason. But he didn't want whoever might be watching him to find out that they didn't have the right man.
As he made a right turn, his car-phone rang. A few moments passed before he snatched the phone up and answered with a: "Hello?"
"Yeah, McCall, it's Kostmayer. Found anything?"
"Yes actually. Where are you now?"
"All right…I need you to meet me at 56th West and 8th. I have a pretty good idea of where to look."
"Gotcha." Mickey hung up after Robert did, then looked at Va'Shanna.
"Let me guess, you have to go?"
"Was it about Nick?" she questioned, although she had a pretty good hunch it was. Especially when she heard their whole conversation and especially the words 'where to look'.
Mickey looked at her. He still felt a little uneasy about her…he had no idea whatsoever why he was uneasy, but he was. Maybe it was for the fact she looked and acted like she knew more than she let on. Several times he tried to shrug the feeling off mentally.
"Uh, yeah, it was.
"And? You have an idea who it is yes?" she stepped closer to him.
"Won't know till I meet McCall."
"Well I suggest you leave then. I do want my friend found alive, not dead."
But there was still something about her that bugged him. Was it the way she carried herself? She acted so calm, yet tense. He couldn't explain it at all. Would she, when he left, be stupid enough to try to follow him?
"When we find him, we'll let you know. It'll be best if you stay in until this is resolved and let us do the work."
"I realize that." That was an understatement…"Bring him out alive."
"We'll do our best." He smiled reassuringly at her. "You'll be okay by yourself?"
"Yes, of course. I'll be better when you find him." She sat down on the couch.
After studying her intently, seeing if she'd stay put or look as if she'd leave, he turned towards the door.
"Oh and Mickey?"
Hand on the knob, he glanced at her. "Yeah?"
"Do be careful."
He grinned. "Always am." He left.
She watched the door for a few moments, and, making sure he was away from her door where he couldn't hear her move around, she went into her bedroom and grabbed her two silver daggers and stuck them in either side of her boots. Then she took the back way out of her apartment. That way had much more shade from the sun and would get her into the sewers faster. The woman had learned long ago that if she had to travel in the daytime and follow someone, she had to do it using the sewers.
The Russian agents had moved Nick into another room after they had hit and punched him for what some seemed like days, when it actually was only an hour. His face didn't look so gentle and soft anymore, it was covered with bruises, cuts, and blood. The room had a certain smell to it – death. It reeked of death. His nose crinkled. And the temperature was bitterly cold. The coldness seemed to attack Nick's flesh and bones like icicles. He glanced around the darkened room. There was another metal chair in the middle of the room. He could make out the IV poles and lines surrounding the chair. The small table that was probably two to four feet away from the metal chair wasn't hard to miss. He swallowed hard, still trying not to show any weakness, he couldn’t show weakness… show how much pain he was in and the way his insides were crawling around, trying to escape.
Still trying to put up a struggle, they moved him over to the chair. One Russian kept his hands on Nick's shoulders as the other used ropes to restrain him. His wrists were tied tightly to the arms of the chair, while his ankles were tied to the legs. Then they cleaned an area on his right forearm, and took out a syringe.
I'm so dead…what kind of ex-SEAL are you if you let yourself be captured? Where the hell is a vampire when you need her?! Nick berated himself mentally. As much pain he was in, he still wiggled in the chair wildly, trying to free himself. Bad mistake. All his attempts made one of the Russians punch him viciously in the face. He groaned as his head slammed to the side. Suddenly there was a prick feeling in his right lower arm, then a burning sensation.
What the hell are they putting in me? He gritted his teeth to keep him from screaming. His arm was on fire. He had to get out of here, wherever 'here' was. The way the Russians kept looking at him told him that they were up to something he knew he'd hate.
The door opened and Staveros walked past the threshold. He nodded to Markov, who was now putting an IV in the American's arm. Staveros was proud of himself. He might not have the real American agent, but he did have one that looked exactly like him. There were so many possibilities.
All they had to do was brainwash him, make him believe that he was in fact Michael Kostmayer, and give him some memories of Kostmayer. Nick Vari would make the perfect weapon against Control and McCall. Staveros just hoped that they'd be able to capture Kostmayer… then it'd be truly effective. He smiled widely as he walked over to the man.
After Markov made sure the IV was working and the chemicals were running through the line smoothly, he stood up and nodded to Staveros.
"Comrade, he's ready."
The two agents moved away from the American, knowing that their boss would want plenty of room to work.
~*~ Chapter 6 ~*~
Cautiously, Mickey made his way to where McCall said he'd meet him. After all, he didn't want the Russians finding out that they had the wrong man… if they hadn't already. But he couldn't make a careless mistake nonetheless.
As expected, Robert was waiting for Mickey outside his jaguar. He stood outside an old, trashy-looking building.
"Charming place," Kostmayer drawled as he made his way by Robert.
McCall looked at his colleague. "We have someone to meet."
"Who?" he raised an eyebrow.
"Jason. Seems as though he's been busy with some friends of his."
"We get to crash a party?" Mickey smiled a little, looking at the building. "How many friends does he have in with him?"
"Two at the most, according to Jimmy."
Mickey nodded, reaching for his gun. As both McCall and Kostmayer walked closer to the building, they walked past a sewer lid. Va'Shanna, who had been down below, had listen to their whole conversation. Even though she couldn't move in the daylight, that didn't mean she couldn't follow Mickey.
Jason…some name for trash. She looked around the sewer, and walked further, avoiding the patches of sunlight that crept through the sewer lids. Surely there was a way for her to get in a certain area, close enough to the building, where she could hear McCall and Mickey. All she needed was the address of where they were keeping Nick at, and she'd rescue him herself. And she was sure, from what she observed from Robert and his friend that they'd make this… Jason talk and get the information.
After Mickey picked the lock open, they entered silently; guns raised and ready to fire. At first it was quiet, but as they moved further in, voices talking became audible. Soon they could hear Jason Masur's voice loud and clear. But that wasn't the only voice they heard. Russian voices were also easy to make out. Mickey and Robert exchanged glances before they took positions to take out the Russians first.
"Ever going to tell us why you defected?" one of the Russians questioned. "Why did you run to us and betray the Company?"
"As I said I have my reasons," Jason replied, sounding cocky.
"Then tell us one of the reasons."
Jason looked at him. "The Company values McCall more than me. A man, who left the organization, they prize more than me, who's still in the Company. And that old man Control is always making excuses for him."
The Russian arched an eyebrow as he looked at the other Russian. Americans... "That's all? The Company is foolish." he chuckled under his breath.
Jason smiled. "I know."
He stood up and walked a bit. He was completely oblivious to Mickey, hiding behind some crates, when he walked past them. McCall was on the other side of crates, .45 drawn out, ready to use if necessary. His eyes were focused on the two KGB agents; looking for a way to take them out without shooting them. Silently, the two moved to a closer spot that would get them to the Russians. Their backs were turned to Robert and Kostmayer, so it was fairly easy to sneak up on them. Glancing at his colleague, they hit both of them in the head with the butt of their guns, and McCall and Kostmayer caught the two KGB agents before they could fall to the floor and make a sound. Quickly, they moved the bodies behind some crates just before Jason walked back in the area.
Masur looked around, a bit confused. Where did the Russians go? His eyes swept around as he felt a hard hand clamp on his right shoulder.
"I wouldn't try to move Jason," Mickey's voice growled into the stocky built man's ear.
Jason's eyes widened a bit. Kostmayer, here! How? He watched as McCall walked in front of him.
"We're going to have a nice, long talk Jason," Robert said, nodding for Mickey to move Masur to the chair. Mickey did so, keeping a firm grip on Jason.
"What's wrong Jason? Surprised to see someone here?"
Jason Masur glared at the ex-agent. "You are going to tell us about your…'friends', who planned Mickey's kidnapping."
"If he was kidnapped, he wouldn't be here, now would he?" He was wondering exactly how Kostmayer escaped so easily. "You know I won't tell you anything…I have nothing to hide."
"If you had nothing to hide, why were you in this warehouse conducting negotiations with the KGB?"
"Y'know McCall, last time I checked, you weren't an agent. I don't answer to anyone…especially you."
Mickey tightened his grip on Jason, making him flinch. "Jason, you have a breaking point…and I'm going to find it." Kostmayer smiled coldly.
Va'Shanna wished dearly that they'd hurry up with their interrogation and get the address. Who knew how much time they had left to find Nick and alive? She sighed and continued walking, avoiding the occasional patches of sunlight. As she walked, she stretched her vampiric senses, particularly her hearing. That was the reason she'd followed Mickey; to get the address and find Nick. She stopped in her tracks as she recognized the British accent.
"The location Masur," McCall demanded for the third time after they went around in circles for ten or so minutes. The ex-agent knew that Jason was on the breaking point. After all, Mickey had been very persuasive earlier…
"11th Avenue off of 42nd Street," Jason murmured so low that at first McCall didn't catch it.
A pause, then he repeated it again, louder this time. McCall and Kostmayer exchanged a knowing look briefly.
"Mind you Jason, if you are lying, which I wouldn't put past such a foul rat as you, there will be a price to pay. And Mickey will be more than glad to show you how much he appreciated all the trouble you caused."
After making sure that Jason was securely tied with no way of escaping any time soon, they made their way back outside to the jag. When they were in the car, Mickey looked out the window for a few seconds before turning to Robert.
"Do you think he's still alive?"
"I hope so." McCall started up the engine.
~*~ Chapter 7 ~*~
First they tell me I'm a Kostmayer…then they agree that I am Nick…now they're saying I'm Kostmayer again…what in the world are wrong with the KGB? He certainly couldn't make sense of it at all. But he was planning when, rather than if, he got out, he was going to find this Control, McCall, and Kostmayer. It never amazed him how much more trouble he got in when he met Va'Shanna. Well, at last her enemies made some sense, unlike the Russians.
And why was his head pounding? His arm had finally gone numb after the burning sensation. His mind scramble around as he heard Staveros's voice again, telling him that he was Mickey Kostmayer and Robert McCall was his enemy… the man who betrayed him.
What the hell…he thought. If they wanted information on this McCallI would have thought that we'd – er, they'd be friends… Nick was only thinking, or trying to think logically. It was the only thing that helped him fight the drugs.
"You are Michael Kostmayer, an ex-Navy SEAL, and you work for the Company. Your superior is an old man named Control. You had a friend once, who used to work for the Company and now doesn't. His name is Robert McCall and he betrayed you. You are his enemy. You want to kill him for betraying you. The old man, Control, gave McCall the go ahead to betray you. They both want you dead. You have to kill them before they kill you," Staveros said to him again for the millionth time.
But Nick still didn't believe it fully. This was the KGB. They captured him and now were telling him this BS. He still remembered the first time he arrived here – wherever here was. They wanted information on Control… his main operatives and McCall… McCall and if the 'Equalizer' was a cover. They, by Nick's way of thinking, wouldn't have captured him, if this Robert McCall was his enemy. There would be no way this Kostmayer would know the operatives and if the 'Equalizer' was a cover or not.
Heck, the Russians even made it sound like, before Nick spilled out his true name, that he was good friends with Robert. So there'd be only one reason they would suddenly feed him different information. Brain washing. What other explanation was there? They weren't asking for information anymore, they were telling him who he was, what he was. And he wasn't anything they said. He was Nick Vari who had this problem of getting involved in unnatural things… such as a female vampire. He wasn't Mickey Kostmayer, nor did he work for the CIA. He worked for another organization and that was how he met Va'Shanna in the first place… but he wasn't crazy enough to work for the CIA.
As he was smacked again, probably for not paying enough attention and thinking, and Staveros kept repeating that he was this man Kostmayer, Nick continued to struggle against the drugs and pray that Va'Shanna was on her way…
The sun started to set as Robert drove to the location. Training made him park where, if there were any guards looking for suspicious vehicles, his wouldn't be spotted. Mickey, sitting in the passenger seat, made sure his guns were loaded. After all, he had to be prepared for anything. They weren't sure how many KGB agents were running around in the building.
McCall killed the engine as he glanced around. At times like these, when he was saving someone from the KGB, he felt as if he was still part of the Company. Then again, if he were truly honest with himself, he'd know that he would always be Company. No matter how hard he tried not to be, there was always something bringing him back… making him feel like an agent again.
Kostmayer had already opened the door and got out, looking around to see if there were any guards. But instead of seeing guards, he saw someone on the roof. The figure had dark red hair, but he couldn't get a good look at the profile. Grabbing the binoculars out of his camouflage jacket, he tried to use them to get a better look at the figure. Just as he focused on the roof, the figured disappeared through a door.
"What is it Mickey?" Robert asked after he got out of the jag.
"Saw somebody on the roof, didn't get a good look at who it was."
"Doesn't look like," McCall started to say after a few seconds passed in silence, "there are guards outside… I'm sure they'll be inside."
They started to move carefully towards the building, looking around for watchers, traps, anything out of the ordinary. When they finally reached the main door of the building, Robert reached out for the knob and silently turned it. Well, tried to anyway. It was locked. How natural. Mickey got out his lock picks and used it on the lock as McCall glanced around. As usual, Kostmayer opened it in no time.
They entered quietly, guns out, ready to fire. The stairs were in front of them. Moving without sound, they climbed up slowly. Mickey was in the front, looking up the stairwell. He heard footsteps. The man paused before a door, and looked behind him, and saw Mickey. Mickey fired, using a silencer.
McCall walked past. They were at the top of the stairs, so logically, the door must be the way into the rest of the building. He touched the knob, took a deep breath and released it, and opened it. To his surprise, instead of seeing guns pointed in his face or bodies moving around, there were bodies littering the floor. Mickey came in behind him and arched an eyebrow. He bent down beside a body to check for a pulse. Nothing. They checked the rest of the men, and found out all of them were dead.
One of the bodies was lying in front of a doorway. Again Mickey and Robert exchanged looks. Distant voices sounded somewhere past the doorway. Kostmayer moved to the wall, close to the door. Counting to five mentally, he gripped his gun, moved in front of the door with his gun raised, and kicked it open. Inside there was nothing, except for a figure sitting on a metal chair. A small flickering light was on, playing shadows over the man's face. His shoulder blades twitched as he heard a scream and a loud crack from the corner of the room.
Gun still raised, he went to the corner of the room. He could've sworn that he saw dark red hair. Before he could really make out anything definite, the figure suddenly disappeared. A man was lying on the ground, his black suit stained with blood. Mickey grimaced; from the position the neck, he knew it was broken.
No wonder I heard a crack…he mused to himself as McCall worked on freeing the man in the chair. After making sure the man was dead, he moved over to help Robert.
"Get your…grubby hands off me you…" Nick mumbled.
Mickey lifted an eyebrow. He couldn't believe it. The man's voice sounded so much like his own. McCall got the IV out of the man's arm.
"Mr. Vari, we are here to help you."
Great, a Brit…"Yeah I bet…you are…"
"You need medical attention."
"Prove that you won't kill me soon as we get out of the door…"
"A woman is highly concerned for you. Does the name Va'Shanna ring a bell?"
Nick stopped swearing for a moment and really looked, well, tried to focus on the men in front of him. He thought he was looking at himself for a minute when he looked at Mickey. But he thought he was hallucinating.
"Come on, let's get you out of here," McCall said as he and Kostmayer gently lifted Nick up and started to move him out of the room. Nick leaned on Mickey the most for support.
When they finally got outside the building, and moved Nick into the back seat, they drove to New York General.
While Nick Vari was in the ER, McCall had called Va'Shanna to let her know that they found him. Mickey leaned against the wall, hands in his jacket pockets, thinking. Particularly, he was thinking about when they entered the building… he couldn't explain how he was so sure that he saw something and next thing he knew it disappeared into thin air. Then there were all the bodies. How could so many men die? He didn't hear anything while he and McCall were in the stairwell. It seemed like a ghost had broken their necks so quick and silently.
Not forgetting the figure with the dark red hair. That stayed in the back of his mind. He knew someone with the same shade of hair. A female…Va'Shanna. Could it have been her? No…even if she did follow them there was no way for her to get past the KGB's security system, take down all the guards, and get back to her apartment in enough time. There were so many questions that lingered in Kostmayer's mind without answers.
Sooner than expected, Va'Shanna walked through the doors. Seeing Mickey leaning on the wall, she walked over to him.
"Hey," she greeted him.
He looked at her, still wondering about her. "Hey yourself."
"You okay?" she asked even though she had a pretty good idea of what was bothering him. Then again, she really didn't have a choice. If she hadn't, her cover would've been blown.
"Huh? Yeah. Sure." He smiled at her reassuringly. "What about you?"
"Better now that I know where he is." She looked at him. "Thank you for saving his life."
Robert walked down the small corridor till he saw his colleague with the woman.
"Well, hello, Va'Shanna."
"McCall." She licked her lips and looked at both of them. Go ahead V, tell them thank you for saving Nick's life and go visit him. Not that hard. "I really want to thank both of you for your help. If you hadn't found him…" Her voice trailed off, "I don't know how to repay you."
"Oh, it's quite simple. Keep him in your sight." He smiled. "You were a brave woman through all this."
You'd be surprise how many centuries it took…"Well, I don't mean to be rude to either you or Mr. Kostmayer, but I want to see my friend."
"Of course." He shook her hand that she offered. Mickey followed suit. Then she moved away, to find Nick's room.
Mickey and Robert watched her go. "Y'know McCall… there's something that bothers me about feeling like I just rescued myself…"
Robert smiled and patted his friend on his shoulder. "Just think of it this way; you saved your twin."
He raised an eyebrow. "That's supposed to help me?"
Mickey really wondered why his 'twin' got the good-looking woman and he didn't. Had to be one of his flaws. As he and McCall walked out of the hospital, he couldn't help but wonder if there really was something more to that woman than met the eye or if it was just because he was paranoid. Back at the building, could that have really been her? Could she have really killed the guards to make their job easier of rescuing Nick?
Oh come on Mickey that'd make her a demon or something. Get real. He guessed it was one of those things about life he'd never figure out. Or maybe he would figure out some point in life… maybe…