a code of silence practiced by the Mafia; a refusal to give evidence to the police about criminal activities.
Lucas isn't great with small spaces.
Not since Russia.
But then again, he's not great anything since Russia - bright lights, dark spaces, being alone, being with people, car boots and rain and loud noises and silence and laughter and screams. (He keeps it nailed down beneath his skin but its moments like this that he can feel it, scratching at him, rippling through him and he knows it'll break him.)
He closes his eyes.
Counts to ten in English and then in Russian.
Starts at the beginning -
They shake hands, Ros actually smiles (which makes her all the more terrifying in Lucas' opinion) and then -
Lucas isn't sure how they got from there to here.
Wherever here is.
There are ziplock ties digging in to his wrists and a dull ache in his shoulder (bullet wound, his mind supplies), the back of his head feels sticky and he can feel a cold steel cuff on his ankle. If he closes his eyes he thinks he can feel the bullet buried in his arm - it must have missed the major veins and arteries, hasn't shattered the bone. He supposes he's lucky - luck is relative after all. At least he won't die by bleeding out.
His back's up against the wall and if he wriggles his shoulders brush the sides - somewhere small, a cupboard maybe (in Russia they liked to stuff him in solitary - narrow cells, boxes underground, coffins - in the beginning he'd scream until his throat was raw.) His breath hitches a little and -
"If you're having a panic attack over there I'd like you to know that I won't be handing you a paper bag to breathe into."
Lucas has never been so glad to hear Ros' voice in his life. "Ros," he rasps.
Ros makes this soft sound almost like relief and shifts her leg slightly so her foot brushes his. (At least he hopes its her foot.) "You're alive then? You were out for a long time."
He shifts a little, wriggling his wrists but the ties are far too tight for him to get free. "What happened?"
Ros huffs out something halfway between a laugh and a sigh, "They knew. They bloody knew before we'd even sat down in his office. They got us as we were leaving, we would have made it if you hadn't got yourself shot."
His shoulder twinges, "Terribly sorry to inconvenience you." His eyes are finally beginning to adjust, he can just make out Ros' silhouette in the dim light that creeping through under what Lucas assumes is the door. There's a railing above them, thin and wooden and Lucas almost sniggers. "Are we actually tied up in a cupboard?"
Ros clearly doesn't find it that amusing, Lucas can practically feel her withering gaze. "We've been in here almost two hours and my shoulders are starting to cramp." She mutters.
"Don't know. Think she got away."
"So Harry will know by now, at least there's that."
Ros scoffs, "Oh come on Lucas, a man like Dranias isn't going to be interested in negotiating. We'll be here a while yet."
(Harry wasn't in much of a hurry to get him back last time.)
Of course she's right. They're held there for hours before Dranias has them brought to him cuffed hand and foot and dropped on the floor in front of him. He's practically clapping his hands with glee when he tells them that he was warned Mi5 would be moving in on him, how he had several professionals look in to their cover stories, found the few discrepancies there were (Lucas knew they had been put together too hurriedly but then they weren't intended to be long term.)
Lucas' shoulder is aching and his thoughts are sliding away from him in a manner that screams concussion and he's fairly sure Dranias isn't about to offer him medical attention.
Ros clears her throat to interrupt Dranias' monologging, "What are you planning to do with us?" She asks, one eyebrow quirked in that manner that says I can and will kill you with my little finger.
Dranias laughs, "Well as agents you two are no doubt aware that I am a very wealthy man so there is nothing to be gained from holding you two to ransom. Besides," he adds with a smirk, "I do not believe your government will be in such a hurry to get you back," he nudges Lucas' injured shoulder with his foot (there's white hot pain and Lucas bites back a pained groan.) "You are damaged goods, as they say."
Ros sits up straighter, "You could give us back as an act of good faith. Show the government you're not a threat."
"Or I could put out the word that I have two Mi5 agents and sell you to the highest bidder. Much more fun, yes? Think of all the people who would love to get their hands on you."
"It'd be useless," Ros begins, "We're too low level-"
Dranias snorts. "Don't lie to me, my dear, I know very well that you two are the higher level spies. That pretty blonde girl was the lower level, besides, even if what you say is the truth you will still die bloody and screaming and I will be richer and happy."
"You really think you're going to be allowed to leave the country now you've taken us?"
"Oh please, you do not have anything on me. You may know who I am and have your suspicions but you do not know where my cargo is stored, nor where it will leave from. If you did you would not need to bug my office. I am a well known man, I cannot just disappear and not even the Secret Services can hold me without any evidence*."
He has them thrown into a van, they're still tied up and this time he springs for gags and black hoods as well as cuffs. Lucas closes his eyes and tries to keep track of time (at least he's not in a boot this time). He thinks they've been driving for over two hours when they turn on to a bumpy country road. After another half hour the van is flooded with the salty scent of the sea (it registers somewhere within him that he hasn't seen the sea since before Russia, it never seemed important before or after but there were days - hours - when he'd lie in his cell or his hole or on his piss stained mattress and pray that he'd get another chance to curl his toes into wet sand and watch the waves break across the beach with fresh fish and chips and Elizabeta on his arm.)
The van shudders to a halt and they're dragged out and thrown in to a room, uncuffed and un-hoodied, Dranias' men smirk and lock them in.
The room is big and empty and white (like Russia.) It's cold and tiled and there are dark stains on the floor (like Russia.) There's no bed, no chair, no toilet - just a bucket in the corner (you have to earn your bed, Lucas. Prove your worth, hm?) He shifts on the floor and it echoes.
(He's in Russia again - he has to be - this past year was a lie. A dream. A delusion. Maybe he's cracked - god knows he held out as long as he could - maybe this was them. They'd tried this before, told him he was going home only to yank him back and - He must be back. Any minute now Darshavin will walk through those doors and laugh at him, welcome him back. This time he'll break, he'll talk, he'll fucking sing if they'll kill him quicker. He just wants out. There's nothing else they can do to him.)
(And if they won't kill him this time he'll try a sharpened bar of soap.)
But then there's a hand on his shoulder yanking him upright and Ros looking at him with equal parts concern and annoyance. "You need to stay focused, Lucas." She says calmly (there's an edge to her voice that makes Lucas' stomach roil - its that overly cautious, pitying tone everyone used and he doesn't need their godamned pity.)
He blinks, swallows. Ros is real. Ros is real. Clears his throat, "Right, sorry."
She nods, satisfied, and stands up, casting a disdainful glance around their cell. "This must be where Dranias keeps his cargo."
"He runs his freighters from Dover, we must be close by." He sits back on his heels as Ros paces the room, testing the door and walls for any sign of weakness. "This place must be a warehouse of some kind. Wouldn't look too suspicious off on its own."
Ros nods, "Or a factory. Dranias owns a few."
"So you think he's holding other people here?"
Ros pauses, "Definitely."
Lucas sighs. "This was supposed to be such a simple mission..."
"Well you know what they say about the quiet ones."
And there's something odd about the way she says it, it's not the usual scathing sarcasm, its different. He twists to face her, "What aren't you telling me?"
She glances at him briefly, "Dranias is a potential high level terrorist threat. There's a shipment arriving in two days with cargo he's meant to send on to the States, we have intel from Six that that cargo could be a potentially lethal biological agent, we were meant to intercept it." And its the truth because Ros is nothing if not frank.
"And I wasn't told because?"
Ros shrugs, "The intel wasn't reliable and Harry didn't to cause unnecessary panic."
"Wonderful," Lucas sighs, shrugging off his suit jacket; the left arm is dark with blood. He tosses it aside and starts rolling up his sleeve.
"How bad is that?" Ros asks from where she's reexamining the door.
"Missed all the important bits, lodged near the bone, maybe." It's already swollen and Lucas grits his teeth as he binds it with a piece of fabric torn from the bottom of his shirt.
When he looks up Ros is standing over him. "That door's solid, there's nothing in this room we can use and you need to let me clean out your shoulder."
It takes a second for what she said to register. "No."
She drops to her knees in front of him so they're eye to eye, "It'll get infected and we don't know how long we'll be in here."
"It'll get infected anyway," Lucas mutters petulantly. It might be childish, but there's a very large, overwhelming part of him that doesn't want Ros poking about in his shoulder right now. "I'll be fine."
Ros is unfazed, "Normally I would recognise your right to allow yourself a slow and painful death but right now you and I are quite possibly all that stands between a virus with the potential of causing the doom of mankind as we know it so, with all due respect Lucas, grow the fuck up."
Lucas glowers at her. He thinks about pointing out that if Dranias really does intend to sell them to the highest bidder they'd need to be alive and reasonably healthy but then again, Dranias probably has enough money to buy a small country by now. He's sure another few billion will be the equivalent of a few coppers. But there aren't any tools in the room (not that Lucas would let anything in this room anywhere near an open wound) which means Ros intends to use her hands. Which probably aren't that clean. He thinks he can feel the bullet sitting heavily inside his arm. "There's nothing in here you can use to clean it out." He says stubbornly. He holds his arm out begrudgingly and she unwraps the tattered fabric and not so gently inspects the wound. "It's not like I haven't been shot before."
She doesn't look up. "How's your head?"
"Fine like your shoulder is fine?"
Ros smirks, "Touchy." After five minutes of agony she releases his arm, "That's as clean as its going to get without anything useful."
Lucas draws his arm back to himself (he refuses to use the word cradles but...) "So what's our plan? No chance Malcolm slipped a cunningly disguised tracker onto either of us?"
Ros shuffles backwards to sit against the wall, "Not that I know of unfortunately. But we can always pray"
"So what's our plan?"
"I'll let you know when I think of one."
No one comes for them, at some point the harsh fluorescent bulbs lighting the room flicker out and Lucas loses track of things. He thinks about what will happen if they don't get out of here, their lives at the Grid will be packed away in to neat little boxes, his empty flat will be cleared out, he wonders if Harry will keep any of it - he's strangely sentimental like that. No one will miss him. Well, he supposes his colleagues might. His parents - his real parents (John's parents) died a long time ago and even if they hadn't Lucas North is a stranger to them. It's kind of sad really.
He thinks at some point he falls asleep. Sometimes he'll wake up in Russia - sometimes it's the safe house he was in when he first got back, once he's a million miles away in a cramped apartment somewhere hot and sandy with a different name.
The next time he's fully awake there's light spilling in from under the door. There are two shadows too, two guards posted outside to keep an eye on them. "I was beginning to think you'd died on me," Ros drawls. "Again." She hasn't moved, one knee drawn up to her chest.
Lucas sits up and his shoulder protests loudly. "No one came for us then?"
Ros shoots him a look, "Oh, you just missed it. Harry rode in on this huge white horse and Malcolm shot everyone with a high tech laser beam. It was very exciting. There were rousing speeches and dramatic scores and everything."
"So that's a no."
"Yes, Lucas, that would be a no," she sighs heavily and shakes her head. "We are currently being held in a warehouse that is probably being used for human trafficking by a man rich enough to buy a small island, tomorrow he'll come into possession of one of the most lethal biological agents on the planet and we can't do anything about it."
Lucas quirks an eyebrow at her, "I've never known you to give up so easily."
"I'm not giving up," she mutters indignantly.
"So the plan is wait for someone to come in to do whatever and jump them?"
"Yes, and it would be better of it were sooner rather than later."
It's only then that he realises the way Ros is leering at him. He wriggles a little uneasily, "What?"
"What you said last night is true, we're worth far more to Dranias alive than dead and by now he'll have done his research. How many people would pay for a high ranking Mi5 officer? Especially one from the counter terrorism division." She smirks a little, "I'm fairly certain half the British government would pay to have a go at me."
"Well you did make the foreign minister cry last month."
Ros nods sadly like she regrets it but Lucas doesn't miss the glint of pride in her eyes. He's never liked the foreign minister either. Ros' formidable personality aside though, Lucas has the most uncomfortable feeling that whatever Ros is going to say next involves pain. For him. He's expecting her to punch him, to start a fight and loudly accuse him of being a double agent, that'll bring the guards rushing in.
He's not expecting her to launch herself at him and stamp repeatedly on his shoulder.
The one with the bullet wound.
The one that's making him scream like he hasn't in a long time.
She steps off and kneels beside him, leans down and whispers, "Sorry," before yelling for help. The guards crash in and Ros takes them out with ease while Lucas rolls on the floor and groans and bleeds.
Once the guards are down Ros hauls him up and presses a pistol into his hand, "Come on then." She hisses.
Lucas blinks dazedly at her because what the fuck? "You-You," he stammers because his brain is stuck on a loop of painpainpain.
Ros shrugs, "It had to be believable." Before she starts dragging him from the room.
He stumbles after her, gaining speed as his brain kicks back in to gear, "The bullet could've - " he mumbles and Ros turns to him briefly as they jog out in to a wide corridor. "But it didn't." she says firmly, "Now hurry up."
There's shouting now, echoing about the building, the thundering of feet, barked orders. They duck in to what turns out to be a storage cupboard, rest for a few minutes before hurtling back out. The building is a maze and Dranias hasn't skimped on the security. Lucas shoots two men as they leave the cupboard, another three as they run through corridor after corridor, room after room.
He's horribly aware of the spreading warmth from his shoulder.
"How can a bloody warehouse be so complex," Ros mutters.
They find themselves in a huge open room lined with rows of shipping containers packed so close together that they have to turn sidewards to get between them. "We can stop here for a bit," Ros hisses, looking pointedly at Lucas' shoulder. "You're leaving a handy little trail."
Lucas glares at her before sliding gracelessly down the container behind him into a messy heap on the floor. Ros drops to a crouch beside him and rolls up his bloodied sleeve. "We have to get out of here," she murmurs.
"What about the virus? There must be an office here somewhere, there might be some info on it."
Ros tears a strip from his mangled sleeve to re-bandage his shoulder and glances up at him, "You're bleeding pretty badly."
"I'll be fine. If we miss this now we might lose it and who knows who Dranias is selling it to."
"Harry and the others can take care of it when we get out of here."
Lucas sits up straighter, "Not if they don't know when it's coming in."
Ros rolls her eyes, "God save me from self sacrificing morons. We don't even know if its coming in.'"
"And what if it does?"
Ros sighs, "Fine. But if you die I just want you to know that it's entirely your fault and I won't be losing any sleep over it." She stands up and leans against the shipping container. "I saw some stairs when we were thundering about out there, chances are the office will be up there." And then she looks at Lucas and says, "You stay here."
She's gone before Lucas can protest.
The laptop is easy enough to get into and within minutes Ros has pulled up the shipping schedules and inventories for the next two weeks. Unfortunately there's nothing labeled 'Deadly Virus - Handle With Care.' There aren't even any anomalies (not that Ros had expected any - as irritating as Dranias is he's still a professional.) Ros doesn't have the time to look into which corporations are dubious or shell companies so she copies the inventories and emails them to Malcolm. There's a ninety percent chance Dranias will realise what she's done but its better than nothing. If anything the delivery might be pushed. But at least the others know where she and Lucas are. In a few minutes there'll be an armed response unit. She hopes they'll be discrete (as they can be.) Maybe they'll storm the warehouse.
They'll lose the virus if they do. The sellers won't send it to Dranias if he's under any scrutiny.
It's not as if she could have not told them though - she can't risk Lucas anymore then she already has. They've been lucky this far but there's no guarantee they'll get out of here without help.
The laptop pings quietly as Malcolm's reply comes through, tells her to sit tight and that he's checking through the list. Satisfied, she snaps it shut and stands to leave but of course security picks that moment to barrel in to the room, guns at the ready. Ros drops to a fighting stance, there's only two of them - so what if they've got guns? That's never stopped her before but then Dranias steps in and he's got Lucas by the collar and a gun to his throat.
Ros sighs. Maybe one day they'll have a mission that doesn't go spectacularly wrong in every conceivable way.
Ros watches the whole thing via security feed.
"You may think that you have inconvenienced me," Dranias sing-songs. He's got her tied to a chair in a building a few miles from the warehouse. He's original like that. Lucas is being held elsewhere, at least he's being spared Dranias' gloating. It's worse than torture and Ros knows torture. "You have not. I may have lost some stock and some special deliveries will have to be postponed a few days but all is well. I still have you and your friend and you two will make me rich enough."
"Glad to be of service," Ros says because everything else she can think of sounds too cliche.
Dranias grins, "You pretend that this does not worry you, your bravery is admirable. Unfortunately, I can see through it. As can everyone else in this building. You have no reason to pretend so why not drop the act?"
"Maybe I'm going for an Oscar this year," she quips, then for good measure she adds, "You won't get a chance to sell us you know, you'll be arrested for this, holding two agents against their wills - that's not something your lawyers can just make go away."
"Have you met my legal team, Ms Myers?"
Oh right. At some point Dranias has learnt their names. It hasn't worked out in their favour.
Dranias nods to his lackeys, "Take her to her room, I have business to attend to."
Their room as it turns out is smaller than their last one but still empty. There's a small window on one wall, too small to escape through and a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. Lucas is sat against one wall, pale but unarmed. Dranias' men push her roughly in but she catches herself and twists to face them elegantly before they slam the door. She sighs and kneels in front of Lucas, most of the remnants of his tattered sleeve is a dark red colour and the make shift bandage is soaked through. She reaches for it and Lucas flinches away, "It's fine," he growls.
"Are we seriously going to do this again?" Because seriously? Men. Lucas reluctantly holds out his arm and Ros tears a strip off her own shirt which is (if only marginally) cleaner. "So your little trip to the office didn't go well then?" He asks, looking everywhere but at his arm.
"Actually it went perfectly, right up to the moment those men dragged you in there." The skin around the bullet wound is red and tight. Not good signs. "Managed to get a message to Malcolm, the Calvary were on their way and everything."
Lucas winces as Ros bandages him up, "Sorry."
"It's fine." She shuffles to sit beside him and wishes there were something to wipe the blood off her hands with other than her trousers. If they don't get something to clean out Lucas' shoulder soon they'll be in real trouble. "What happened anyway, how did they find you?"
Lucas is silent for a long while and then he draws a long, shuddering breath. "I tapped on the shipping container and something knocked back. I had to - I opened it up, discretely, and there were people. At least twenty, all packed in together. I haven't seen anything like that - not even in Russia. Most of them were kids and I just-" he breaks off and when he speaks again his voice is steadier, "I didn't notice the guards."
Ros touches his uninjured shoulder gently. She's worked human trafficking cases before, once undercover as a smuggler. There was something about humans being used as currency, being bought and sold like animals or commodities that broke you. Seeing it was different than hearing about it, then reading about figures in the papers. Seeing it made you realise they were more than just a statistic. "They'll be alright you know, Harry sent in men. They'll have found them."
"And then what? Detention centres? Orphanages?"
Sometimes Lucas reminds her of Adam. Adam at the end, Adam with a death wish, held together by duty and Wes. She supposes that's how they all end up, broken and tired and disillusioned. Sometimes it makes her wonder whether she should have picked a different profession - the government maybe, or business, but somehow all those dreams end with her massacring everyone and walking over their bodies in high heels. Some people just weren't cut out for offices and well, dealing with people. "You can't do anything for them." She says gently. "You know that."
Lucas nods and swallows. "When do you think we'll get out of here?"
Ros sighs, “Whenever our gracious host decides to sell us on.”
At least now she’ll have time to find out when the virus is coming in.