Empty Bargains [Jason McCann]

"I have nothing else to offer you," Markus barked through gritted teeth, his fists clenched hard at his sides.

Jason shook his head, chuckling. "I only want one thing, and it's in this room," he sneered.

My brother took a step closer to me, trying to push me toward the door. Jason's eyes flashed over and caught mine, a glint in his eye while a shiver went down my spine.

"What do you want?" Markus asked, impatient.

Jason's head nodded in my direction. I froze and the room fell deafeningly silent.

"I want her."


5. ~9.06~

I don't remember anything after I got in Jason's truck.  One of his guys must've knocked me out, because when I woke in what I thought was the morning - I couldn't tell, because I was surrounded by darkness - my head throbbed with a dull ache.  I was lying face up with my hands under the small of my back, my fingers tingling with the lack of circulation.  I tried to move my arms but figured out quickly that they were bound together with a zip tie.

My face contorted into a grimace as the sharp plastic dug into my wrists.  I stopped struggling against it and rolled over, sitting up and trying to get a feel for my surroundings.  I was in the basement, I knew that for sure.  The room wasn't heated and the concrete was only warm where I'd been laying for the night.  Goosebumps were already raised on my skin, and I pulled my knees to my chest to conserve heat.

My eyes were beginning to adjust to the darkness, and I could just make out a tool bench across the room.  Idiots.  I knew how to get out of a situation like this. Sam and Tyler had made sure of it.

I pushed myself into a standing position and scanned the ground where I was stepping before making it to the bench.  I felt the corners of my mouth tug up in amusement at the kind of stupidity shown just in this room.  Was Jason really this dumb?  He couldn't be; hadn't he taken over most of the upper cities?  But he wasn't one for negotiation.  His motto was shoot first, ask questions later.

Nevertheless, I turned so my back was facing the bench and snagged a knife.  I cut the tie quickly, rubbing my wrists as the plastic fell away.  I still gripped the knife, slowly making my way toward the stairs I'd just spotted.  My eyes always adjusted quickly to the dark.  The stairs were old, obviously used a lot.  I wondered what he did down here when a deal didn't go his way.

 I stepped up carefully, thankful when they didn't creak under my feet.  No matter how horrible Jason was, I knew he took good care of what he had. How else would he remain at the top?

I reached the top and held my breath, waiting to hear voices.  When I heard none, I proceeded to see what I had to work with.  The door in front of me was heavy and metal, and would make noise if I so much as tapped it.  The handle was spherical, easy to break open but with a heavy lock system.  I cursed under my breath.  There were so many 'ifs' in this situation.  What if Jason had a guy waiting for me?  What if I tripped some system Jason had set up?  What if I got out of the basement, but couldn't get out of the house?

I sat down on the second step down and pictured Sam in this situation.  He'd have gotten out of his bindings right away like I had, and looked around the basement for a way to get out.  I'd found this door, but I hadn't checked for windows yet.  But when I scanned the room again from the stairs, I saw none.  Sam would've assessed the door and the lock and listened for people outside.  I was at that point.  Sam and I were different, though.  As much as I hated to admit it, I didn't have the physical strength that my brother did.  I couldn't bust my way out of here and hope to make a break for it.  I'd be stopped in less than two minutes.  My only other options were to pretend like I never woke up, or hide if they come down and jump them.

I was moving to step down the stairs when I heard a voice coming from behind the door.  My insides froze and I listened carefully, trying to judge how close it was to the door.  The voice spoke again, one of Jason's guys, in a different room.  It sounded about twenty feet away.

"She's still out," the voice said plainly.  "I checked ten minutes ago, Leo.  You put a hell of a lot of chloroform on that rag."

"I thought she'd put up more of a fight," another voice answered casually.  My teeth ground together.  They'd drugged me?

"If you're so worried about her, then why don't you go and see how she is?"

"Fine," was all Leo answered.  I heard a chair scrape against wood flooring, and footsteps moving toward me.

My heart jumped and so did I, from the sixth stair up and landed as softly as I could.  My eyes searched the room quickly.  I didn't know what to look for.  Hide or pretend?  Hide or pretend?  Hide or pretend?

I was out of time.  The lock at the door was fumbling, and I panicked.  I dove across the room to grab the plastic that'd been around my wrists and held it, along with the knife, behind my back as I slid back over to where I'd been lying.  My eyes closed and I waited.

Not half a second later did I hear the door swing open and feel a window of light land against my face.  My jaw clenched as I tried to remain motionless, becoming aware that I'd jabbed the handle of the knife into my back.  It ached and it took all I had in me not to move.

"Shit, man, she's still out," Leo shouted to the guy in the other room.  "Do you think we should get Lucas to check her out?"

"Nah, she should come around in a little while," came a muted reply.

Then I did something too risky, even for me.

I opened my eyes slightly, just to get a quick look to size Leo up.  But when I found him with my eyes, he was already watching me with a confused expression.  I shut them just as they had been, my heart pounding harder than it had been.  I cursed at myself such a stupid move.  Sam would've had my head.

"Get back in here, it's your move," I heard the other voice call.  I could only hope that Leo would answer it.

"Hold on, Xander," Leo said.

My toes curled in my boots.  Shit.  I've got to stay calm.  It'll be fine.

Leo's footsteps were slow and heavy on the stairs, each footfall making me more anxious.  Then his shoes landed on cement, growing closer.  He slowed as he walked toward me, cautious with good reason.  Most people knew me as the ruthless decoy.  I was the distraction while Marcus and Sam went about whatever they were doing.  I was good at it too, when I wasn't pretending to be unconscious. 

He stopped three feet away.  I could tell he was watching my face, or anything else for movement.  I breathed out slowly, suddenly remembering that unconscious didn't mean dead.

Leo's closeness was making me too uncomfortable.  He knew I was awake, and there was no mistake in that.  He'd seen me.  I was faced with a choice; to go after him, or to wait for it to play out.  I was done walking into dangerous situations.  It was time to make my own.

I shot up in a flash, grabbing Leo around the neck and slipping behind him.  My hand moved the knife to his throat and he let out a strangled noise.  I pushed the blade against his Adam's apple, but not hard enough to cut him.

"What the he—"

"Make a sound and I'll kill you," I hissed under my breath.

"Leo, come on!  I'm not gonna wait all night for you," came Xander's voice.

"You're going to tell him you'll be right up, and that you're going to take a leak," I whispered harshly into Leo's ear.  "Then you're going to take me outside, and that's the last you'll ever see me."

"I'm gonna take a piss," Leo shouted up.  Xander groaned and I pressed the blade tighter to his throat.

I moved him easily, carrying the leverage in this situation.  We walked slowly toward the stairs.  Leo was stepping onto the first step when a voice made me jump.  I clenched my jaw so tight I thought all my teeth would break.  My eyes raised to who was standing at the top of the stairs.

"Look who's woken up.  Jesus, took you long enough Little L."

It was Jason.

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