When the lights went off in the hallway, Jonathan jumped a mile. He heard Neal shout in front of him, and Ross curse next to him. He was expressing his own opinion on the matter when he felt a hand on his arm. He jumped again, unprepared for the guard's touch. He started to ask if everybody was okay when he felt someone breathing in his ear. He tried to pull away, but a hand grabbed the back of his head and yanked him back. "Talk and the singer gets it."
Jonathan forced himself to stay calm and bit his lips to keep from talking. He heard someone in front of him say quietly, "Let's go," then heard footsteps echo down the hall. When he thought he couldn't stand the silence any longer, the voice in his ear said, "Walk," and he felt a tug on his arm. They marched for a little while, turning and twisting through corridors. Another voice crackled out of nowhere - "Team one's clear, over."
"Copy," a different voice crackled.
"Copy," came another unfamiliar voice - clearer, undistorted by electronics. Jonathan blinked. Until that moment, he'd thought he was alone with his pseudo-guard. They walked a little farther, then the new voice spoke again. "Glasses." Jonathan wondered what the hell that was supposed to mean, right before he heard the squeak of a door opening. He was led a few more steps, then -
LIGHT! He squinted for a few moments, blinded by the sudden flood of light. He heard the new voice one more time. "Team two is clear, over." Jonathan could barely make out the 'copy's from the walkie-talkie as the Psycho Blues Brothers backed out of the room and closed the door.
"You okay, Jay?" Jonathan jumped another mile at Ross' query. "Stupid question, nevermind..."
"No, no, I'm okay," Jonathan said. "Well, as okay as I can be..." As his eyes adjusted completely to the light, he could see they were in a janitorial closet. "No weapons," he mumbled.
"And what would you do with a weapon, even if we could find somebody to use it on? You gonna worry at them?"
"Kiss my ass," Jonathan griped.
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Ross grinned and went to the door. He tried the knob a few times, then tried ramming against the door. "Well, that's not gonna work."
"Duh, Ross. Of course the lock will hold. It's a janitor's closet. There's a lot of hazardous material in a janitor's closet. Any one of the solutions in these bottles could be deadly in as little as a single teaspoon," Jonathan lectured.
"Okay, how did you get to be a rock musician?"
Jonathan just glared. "Fuck. You."
Ross laughed. "We might as well get cozy. We ain't goin' no place they ain't takin' us."
Jonathan was already lowering himself to the floor. "Yeah. I just hope they don't plan on taking us someplace to die."
Neal was rubbing his eyes as if that would make the light less... light. He wanted to strangle the sonfabitch that locked him in the restroom, but he couldn't see his hands in front of his face yet. He squinted and grumbled and rubbed and bitched and -"Oh, give it a rest before your fucking eyeballs fall out."
Neal snapped his head up at Steve Smith's voice. "Smitty? I can't see, man!"
"That's because you keep digging your fists in your eye sockets, Neal. Just relax for a minute. Close your eyes and count to five. It'll go away."
Neal sneered, but did as he was told. After a moment, he could make out the urinal he'd hit his knee on when he'd stumbled into the room. He peered through still-squinty eyes, trying to locate his cellmate. "How long you been here, man?"
"I came in with you, fool."
"Oh. Yeah." Neal chuckled a little, laughing a bit louder when Smitty joined in. "Hey, did the goon with you say something about Steve?"
"You mean like if I said anything he'd buy the farm?" Smitty was leaning casually against the wall next to Neal.
"Yup, something like that." Neal shook his head. "What the hell was that all about?"
"Who knows?" Smitty answered. "Steve probably went and pissed off some big burly dude by kissing his girlfriend at a concert or something."
"Man, he probably pissed off the girlfriend by kissing the big burly dude!"
"No, he pissed off the big burly dude because he kissed the girlfriend instead of him!"
They giggled insanely, slandering their frontman's reputation with glee. The insults became more tawdry with each reinvention, until even Neal's ears began to curl. They laughed themselves to exhaustion, and paused to catch their breaths. "What do you think they really want?" Neal asked in the ringing silence.
Smitty settled on the floor, a contemplative look on his face. "Well," he said finally, "if I was gonna threaten a successful rock band, I'd want one thing."
Smitty shrugged nonchalantly. "Money."
Herbie paced back and forth in the dressing room. Where in the fuck was Journey?! He glanced at the clock. Half an hour to showtime. They still had to get dressed, check the set list, check the gear, make a final run-through, and look fresh and dainty for the concert. He glanced at the clock again. Twenty-nine minutes to showtime.Herbie was about to holler at someone to call the hotel again, when a gofer stuck his head in the door. "Telephone," the kid said boredly.
Herbie growled and huffed over to the nearest phone. He grabbed the receiver roughly and barked into it. "Hello!"
"Hello, big boy," a woman's voice purred. "Listen carefully, don't interrupt. I have your pretty songbird, and you won't get him back 'til I have what I want. At first glance, this seems a hefty request, but I assure you, the alternative will be unpleasant at best. Wait for my call, early tomorrow morning - and, oh, by the way, this is a recording." Then the line went dead.
Smitty looked at his watch. He'd been locked in the bathroom long enough. "Neal. I'm ready to go."Neal laughed out loud. "Good for you, man. Let me know when you figure out how and I'll join you."
Smitty rolled his eyes in utter exasperation. "We could try calling for help."
"Yeah, and bring the heavies on us? Man, I don't think so." Neal folded his arms.
Smitty shook his head and made one last try. "We should be about halfway through the set by now, man." He looked at Neal meaningfully. "What do you think the fans are doing right now?"
Neal was at the door in a flash, banging and hollering like a mad man. "Let us out!! Hey!!! Somebody unlock the door!!"
Smitty smiled and started calling for help. They'd be free in no time.
Ross woke with a start. He hadn't realized he'd fallen asleep. He looked around, blinking in the harsh light. When his eyes adjusted, he saw shelves of cleaning supplies. "What the..?""Hey, sleeping beauty," Jonathan said. "You okay?"
A flood of memories came tumbling back - unfamiliar guards, black outs, kidnapping, janitor's closets. Ross rubbed the small of his back, trying to work out the stiffness. "Yeah, just feel like I've been sleeping in a broom closet."
Jonathan smiled wryly. "If it makes you feel better, I haven't seen any brooms."
Ross got to his feet, dusting himself off. "C'mon. I don't wanna just sit here and wait."
"What are you gonna do? You know we can't break the door down," Jonathan pointed out.
"You know somebody has to be looking for us. Herbie's probably pacing a hole in the floor right now. You can't tell me nobody is gonna hear us if we start yelling."
"Okay, but what happens if the guards from hell get here first?"
"Jonathan, have I ever told you that you worry too much?"
Ross sighed in exasperation. "Listen, if the phony guards get here first, we'll just rush 'em."
"They said they'd hurt Steve if we made any noise, Ross. What if they don't come? How do we know they aren't just gonna kill him when they hear us calling for help?" Jonathan held his hands out beseechingly. "How do we know?"
Ross sank to the floor again, defeated. "Fine. I'll wait. But let me ask you something." He jabbed a finger at Jonathan. "How do we know Steve isn't dead already?