Consciousness equaled pain.
That being the case, Mac wasn't too thrilled to wake up, especially when he found himself sprawled face down on the floor, his hands bound behind his back. Every inch of his body hurt and his first attempt at moving led to the conclusion that his right arm was either broken or dislocated.
All in all, not a good situation at all. What the fuck had happened? Last thing he remembered was talking to Li Ann on his cell phone and answering the door, then everything was blank.
Hoping to get some clue as to what had occurred, Mac opened his eyes just enough to get a glimpse of his surroundings. His smashed stereo was right in front of him, surrounded by shattered CDs. The only problem was that he had done that in a fit of anger and desperation upon returning home after his disastrous meeting with Victor.
God, I am such an asshole. Should have found another way to tell him, wonder if I'll ever get the chance to explain now.
Never one to discriminate based on gender, he'd been attracted to Vic from the start, even when they were trying to kill each other in Li Ann's apartment. He'd buried that interest under wisecracks and jibes back then, concentrating on trying to woo his former lover away from her fiance.
Then Li Ann had dumped Victor and Mac had found himself more interested in pursuing the older man then the woman they supposedly both loved. The only problem was that Vic gave no indication of knowing that the other side of the street even existed, let alone wanting to take a stroll down it.
Frustration with both himself and the situation goaded Mac into saying things that he normally wouldn't have, just to get some kind of reaction from his partner. He knew the Director was irritated with them for their 'inability to cooperate', and he knew that the majority of the blame was on his shoulders, but Mac couldn't break himself of the habit of goading Vic.
Until this case and the knowledge that while Victor wasn't as straight laced in regard to his sexuality as Mac had thought. So out came CJ, someone who could befriend the overwhelmed ex-cop and earn his trust.
Juggling two screennames had been a bit of a challenge, but thanks to some of the new devices the Agency's R and D area had come up with, Mac managed it with little problem. Initially, he had meant to tell Vic what was going on after their first few chat sessions, but, as their talks became more in-depth and intimate, he found he couldn't. Their conversations were a stark contrast to the degrading sessions he had with Kirkdon and Mac found himself needing the illusion of Vic's companionship as much as it seemed the older man needed CJ's.
Kirkdon. Fuck. Now he remembered opening the door to see the other man standing there, arm extended, before the world went black.
No chance Victor was going to show up any time soon. Hell, he'd probably load the gun for the psycho killer at this point, and applaud when he pulled the trigger. It didn't matter that everything Mac had told him over the computer was the truth - or as close to it as he could manage - in the end it had been a lie and Victor Mansfield did not tolerate lies or liars.
Maybe Li Ann would get here in time. Or maybe it would be best if Kirkdon put him out of his misery now. Maybe that would bring Vic and Li Ann back together, though Mac doubted that they would really make each other happy. At least he wouldn't have to deal with the consequences of his actions. Yeah, and maybe the Director would leave the Agency and join a convent.
"Finally awake, babe?"
At the question, Mac turned his head, biting back a curse at the way the motion intensified the ache in his shoulder. "Yeah, finally got enough beauty sleep," he quipped, managing to grin at the other man while studying him intently.
Kirkdon looked much the same as he had in the surveillance photo. One of those people you pass on the street without noticing twice. The small black object he held, did grab Mac's attention though.
Taser. That explained why every nerve in his body felt like it had been overloaded, the debilitating jolt of electricity the small weapon fired did just that.
"Mr... Ramsey is it?" Kirkdon asked, smiling thinly at Mac's nod. "I'm quite saddened by the fact that you deceived me. Here I show up at your residence, hoping for an enjoyable evening, and I find that you're some sort of law enforcement official. Most distressing."
"Tell you what, let me loose and I'll see what I can do to make it up to you," Mac said, offering his most ingratiating smile.
Kirkdon shook his head, before examining the setting on his Taser. "It's much too late for that Mr. Ramsey. Such a shame too. I was quite looking forward to our time together this evening. Unfortunately what I had planned would be too risky at this juncture so I will have to make do."
"Don't hurry on my account, I've got all the time in the world, really."
"Actually, you don't. Pity, but then those are the sacrifices we must make. Don't worry though, you won't feel a thing, just like the others didn't. I am a kind man after all."
The jolt of pain that streaked through his shoulder as he rolled over made Mac grind his teeth together, but damn if he was going to make this easy for the fucker. "You want me? Come and get me." With a lurch, he was on his feet and edging away from the killer.
"Would that I could babe, but playtime is over and I have to run. Goodbye." Kirkdon pressed the activation button on the Taser, launching the small dart into the air to embed itself in Mac's chest. The jolt of electricity sent the ex-thief to his knees, his last sight one of Kirkdon raising the revolver he held in his other hand for the killing shot.
A glass of single malt Scotch in his hand, the remainder of the bottle on the table nearby, and the Delta blues on the stereo. That was life was about, right? If so, then why didn't Victor Mansfield feel any better?
Damn Mac anyway. What gave him the right to screw with people's minds like that? And why the fuck did he have to choose Victor as his chief target?
The ex-cop downed the remainder of his drink, closing his eyes as the undiluted alcohol burned it's way down his throat before settling in his stomach and creating a warmth that did little to dispel that wintery chill that had settled on Victor's soul.
Stupid, naive, trusting idiot... Fell right into it, didn't you? Had me believing that he really cared, really was interested in me. Jesus, am I pathetic or what?
Amber liquor splashed on the coffee table as Vic refilled his glass and slumped back into the chair, his head falling forward onto his chest. For a while there he had believed it, had given himself over to the possibility that this guy had been the one, the one who would drive away the loneliness that plagued him and the hidden insecurities that even now swarmed over his drink-befuddled mind.
"Should have known..." Vic muttered, downing half his drink in one swallow, then grimacing. "Used to be able to see a set up a mile away..." But when it came to Mac and in some extent to Li Ann as well, he was constantly being blind-sided. How could you read people who had been raised in deception, who practiced it with the ease of breath?
It was like McCoy had said during that case involving Alexa and her eco-terrorists. Vic saw things in black and white while his partners dwelled in the gray areas. "Ex-partner, you mean," he growled. "Never again. Can't trust him, don't want him near."
By avoiding Mac maybe, just maybe, Victor could forget this whole thing happened. He could repress the memories of how he had looked forward to their nightly conversations, and, most of all, banish the memory of that last night from his brain.
As if called by that slim invitation, the image appeared full blown in Vic's mind. The lake, the deck, the music, only now instead being with a faceless stranger, he was dancing with Mac then the song ended and they were...
"No!" Vic bellowed, heaving his glass against the wall where it shattered, leaving an abstract splatter of Scotch against the paint. "I do not want this and I don't want him!" He lurched out of the chair, grabbed the bottle, and stumbled into the bedroom, intending to drink himself into an oblivion where today's events had never occurred.
Mac woke to the sound of gunfire and by the time he dragged his eyes open, Li Ann was crouched over him, examining him for injuries. "Don't touch the - ah!" he yelped as she grabbed his shoulder to turn him over.
"Sorry." From her tone, Li Ann wasn't sorry at all. In fact, she sounded downright angry at him. "What did you think you were doing?"
"Umm... Catching Kirkdon?" Mac offered sheepishly. There was a moment's pressure as Li Ann undid the handcuffs, then he sighed in relief as the strain on his arms eased.
"That was not your assignment."
Uh-oh. The Director was here too and man did she sound pissed. Great, just great.
"Li Ann, go and help get rid of Mr. Kirkdon. I want to have a chat with Mac before I go." The younger woman looked ready to object, but then nodded, something in the Director's eyes telling her that arguing right now was not a good idea.
"So then." As she spoke, the Director crouched down at Mac's side, the move straining her skin tight navy suit to the limit. "You decided to use my case as a social hunting ground. Not a wise move, darling. In fact, if we had arrived a little later, I wouldn't be having this conversation with you at all." She stroked her fingers across Mac's cheek, noting the bruise on his cheek with interest. "I see that Victor wasn't too happy about that either, but then you know our Victor - hates deception and all that. Very much the boy scout."
At this point, Mac decided that staying silent was the safest bet, so he simply waited, dreading whatever was coming next.
"I'll deal with him next, but never fear, my dear. I have some special plans for you once you've recovered." At that, the Director smiled and patted Mac's injured shoulder, her expression changing to one of phony sympathy when he winced. "Don't fuck around on the job, Ramsey, or I won't leave you anything to fuck around with." That said, she turned and strolled out of the apartment, leaving her agent in the hands of the paramedics who had just arrived.
"Victor darling, wake up..." The throaty words were accompanied by a light tickling at his ear, and Vic squirmed, enjoying the sensation.
The feeling turned far less pleasant when the gentle touch turned painful as long nails dug into his earlobe and he woke enough to recognize the seductive voice as that of the Director.
The Director? In his bed? Shit! Vic scrambled for the far side of the bed with a yelp, intending on putting as much space between him and the harpy as possible - and grateful that he had fallen asleep in his clothes earlier that evening.
The abrupt movement and the loud applause that followed it, made Vic's head ache. It was all he could do to keep from trying to hide under the pillows to get away from both his boss and the hangover that dogged him.
"Now Victor, I have one thing to say to you and then I'll let you get back to sleep." As she spoke, the Director ran a fingernail over the soft cotton sheets, idly tracing designs on the plain white fabric. "Well, two things actually, but they're both brief."
"Yeah?" Vic sat up at that, watching the Director warily, remembering what Mac had told him about the time the woman showed up in his bed in the middle of the night. All he needed right now was a lecture about getting along with others or a come on from the queen bitch.
"First of all," she began, "Kirkdon is dead. Unfortunately, he almost took Mac with him. If I had lost an agent because the two of you can't decide whether you want to fight or fuck, I would have been most annoyed. If you have a problem, figure it out on your own time, not mine. Am I clear on that point?" At Vic's shallow nod, she continued. "And Victor dear, if you're going to drink Scotch, do stick to the good brands. Those second rate blends can leave you with a wicked headache." Smiling benignly, she slid from the bed, leaving the apartment as silently as she had entered.
Vic watched the doorway until he was sure that she was gone, then lowered his head into his hands, swallowing harshly to fight the nausea that threatened to claim him. When had he lost control of his life? And how did he get it back?