Chapter 3

Steve awoke suddenly, realizing he'd nodded off only after Gina turned up in the backseat with him. "Well, hello, sleepy head," she said sweetly. Steve kept his mouth shut and looked out the window. They weren't on the highway anymore. He didn't recognize anything he saw. It was a small town, the kind that didn't need street signs. He might be able to get someone to find him if he had a few landmarks, or maybe the name of the town, but otherwise...

The car pulled into a small, sleazy roach motel. They parked away from the office. Gina patted the man behind the wheel. "You have everything?" He nodded. "Good. Don't let Murphy fuck it up." The driver smiled, and the redhead glowered. Gina shrugged. "Hey. I wouldn't say it if I didn't have to." She reached over the front seat and pulled up a windbreaker. She pulled it on, then held her hand out. "My piece, Jim?" The driver gave her the small gun she'd had when they first left. She put it in her pocket, training it on Steve. She backed out of the car and stepped backwards. "Come on, honey."

Steve eased over to the open door, wary of the gun in the girl's pocket. "Where -"

"Hush. No talking outside. You can whisper when we get in the room." She turned to the men in the car. "See you when you get back. Don't do anything stupid, Murphy. I mean it." She turned back to Steve, tossed the key to him and said, "Come on, gorgeous, move it."

He walked ahead of Gina, turning at her instruction, until they got to her room. He opened the door and went inside. He started to sit on the bed when he felt a hand grab him roughly by the back of his collar.

"Didn't invite you to take a seat, now did I?" Gina said fiercely. "Face me, songbird." Steve turned around. "Thank you. Take off your clothes."

"Excuse - " He was cut off when Gina hit him with the butt of her pistol.

"That was most definitely not a whisper, songbird. Keep it up, honey, and we're both gonna have a really shitty day." She took a deep breath before continuing. "I will not be repeating myself, Stephen. Take your clothes off." She aimed the pistol at Steve's groin. "Now."

Steve closed his eyes and began peeling off layers of clothing. When he was completely naked, he opened his eyes, expecting to see Gina leering at him lasciviously. Instead, she was collecting his clothing, wadding it into a giant laundry ball. Steve tried to hide himself, thoroughly ashamed. "Oh, relax, I don't wanna touch you." Gina stuffed the laundry ball under her arm and sneered. "I'm not that kind of girl." She gestured toward the bathroom with the gun. "In there."

Steve went into the bathroom and pressed himself into a corner. Gina followed him in, shutting the bathroom door behind her. "Turn on the cold water, leave it on, and stand in the corner. Face the wall." He did as he was told, leaning into the corner. The water seemed to run forever, and it sounded almost as if Gina was playing in it. He closed his eyes and resisted the urge to turn around.

After a few moments, the water stopped. "Okay. Back out. Watch the toilet," she guided. Steve stepped back gingerly. He caught a glimpse of the bathtub as he passed, and gasped. "What is it?" Gina asked.

"My clothes!"

"Oh. That's a little incentive to keep you with me. You aren't gonna run off naked in this two bit town, and you won't want to run off in soaking wet clothes this time of year at high noon, much less in the middle of the night. Besides, I'm a civilized human being. I don't tie people up. Usually."

It took nearly an hour for someone to finally get to the restroom-turned-prison. Neal's throat was raw from all the shouting. He was about ready to call it quits when one of the freelance photographers opened the door. "It's about time!" he rasped."What happened to you guys?" she asked. "Everybody's up there having a shit-fit!"

Neal started to tell his version of the story, but Smitty came up from behind. "Not now, Neal. Have you seen the others?" he asked the photographer.

She glanced at Smitty, then looked at Neal again. "You mean it's just you two?"

"Well, yeah." Neal looked back at Smitty, slightly worried.

"Come on, we can discuss this when we find the others," Smitty said, pushing past Neal and the girl. Neal and the photographer exchanged a confused glance before following him down the hall. They joined the rest of Herbie's disorganized search party, calling out for the three missing musicians. Finally, Neal was rewarded with a very sarcastic, "Save me from the worry wart!"

Neal found the janitor's closet without much trouble, since there were at least six brooms stretched across the corridor, bracing the closet door shut and blocking his path. He went back for the master key, unlocked the door, knocked the brooms out of the way, and opened the door. Jonathan was sitting in a corner, arms folded, not quite pouting. Ross was standing in the middle of the floor, avoiding a blue-green puddle between the two of them. He looked at Neal and smiled. "For a minute there, I thought I was going to have to spend the last horrifying seconds of my life inhaling the noxious fumes of industrial strength Spic and Span and being lectured on clumsiness."

Neal's smile lasted only a moment. "Where's Steve?"

Ross looked back at Jonathan, who was getting to his feet. "Don't know. Where's Smitty?"

"Looking for you guys," Neal said. "Guess you'd better join the hunt."

Jonathan shook his head. "You know he's not here, Neal. They said they'd - "

"Doesn't mean he's not in the building. Have to rule that out, first, Jay." Ross said.

Jonathan looked unconvinced, but he turned to Neal and asked, "Who's in charge of the search party?"


Ross smacked his forehead, and Jonathan blanched. "Steve's gonna die."

"Oh stop it." Neal headed back towards the rest of the search party, Ross and Jonathan in tow.

"What the fuck do you mean somebody said they have Steve? If that's the case, what the hell is everybody doing wandering around the back of a fucking concert hall?!?"Herbie scooted away from Jonathan's fury. "I don't know if she really has Steve. I didn't know if anything was for real! And she never said Steve. She said songbird. It -it could mean anything!"

"Give me a fucking break, Herbie. We should be calling the police, not ducking our heads in closets!"

"If we hadn't, you'd still be in a closet, Jonathan," Herbie patronized. "Calm down. You worry much too much."

Jonathan threw his hands in the air. "YES! That's right! Jonathan Cain worries too much! Or, maybe, just MAYBE nobody else worries enough! A fucking bodyguard told me his buddies were going to kill Steve if I didn't do what he said, Herbie! I got locked in a tiny room with Mr. Sarcasm, my manager tells me some mystery chick called him at work, at a number nobody has, to say she had Steve, and we're all looking under the couch for him!! But I worry too much!! What the fuck?!"

"Just relax, Jonathan! I'm calling the police right now!" Herbie hurried to the nearest phone and dialed. Jonathan glared at him, positively livid that it took a tantrum to get anybody to take him seriously. He listened to Herbie pussy-foot with the dispatcher and resisted the urge to snatch the phone from his hand. After a moment, Herbie hung up, looking rather distressed. "They, uh, they said there was nothing they could do for twenty-four hours."

"What?!? Why not?!" Jonathan was in Herbie's face yet again.

"Because," Herbie said, easing Jonathan out of his personal space, "Steve is an adult, we have no proof of any wrong -"

"What?!" Jonathan exploded. "Yes we do!! We were kidnapped for cryin' out loud!"

"They didn't leave anything behind -"

"I'm calling the police myself!" Jonathan spun on his heel and stormed to the phone.

"And tell them what? That somebody locked you in a closet with one of your bandmates? We don't have any proof, Jay. We don't. Nothing we can do." Herbie put his hands on Jonathan's shoulders. "Believe me, if there were, I'd do it."

"If something happens to Steve Perry, it's gonna be on you, Herbie. You." Jonathan stalked out of the office and prayed silently to a deity he didn't know he still believed in.

Next morning, Steve woke up in a strange bed, in a strange room. That wasn't unusual. He was completely naked. Pretty normal, too. There was a frizzy haired woman aiming a pistol at his face. Oh yeah.

Steve froze in bed, uncertain of what to do. He looked towards the bathroom. Gina sighed and gestured towards it with her gun. He went into the bathroom and noticed his clothes were still in the frosty water in the tub. He sighed and did his business, then poked his head out of the door. He was surprised to see Jim and Murphy sitting on the bed, talking to Gina. She looked exasperated - which wasn't too far from the norm as far as Steve was concerned. The men seemed fairly pleased about something. Steve cleared his throat, and everyone in the room looked towards him. "Uh... can I have some pants or something?"

"Where's the change of clothes," Gina muttered. Jim looked at Murphy. Murphy's smug smile faltered. Gina slapped her forehead. "Dammit, Jim, I told you not to let him fuck up!"

"Hey!" Jim protested, "I ain't his daddy!"

"I am going to kill all three of you before this is over, I swear..." Gina stalked outside still muttering to herself. She came back a few minutes later with a small pile of hotel towels. "Here. Use this until Genius Boy over here figures out where he left the damn clothes." She tossed a towel at Steve and smacked Murphy in the back of the head.

Steve wrapped the tiny towel around his waist and moved a little closer to the center of the room. Gina reached out and grabbed his arm, yanking him to the bed. "Get over here, brat. We don't bite. Much." She pointed at the bed. "Sit."

Steve sat down, crossing his legs and trying unsuccessfully to keep the family jewels under wraps. The two men watched in fascination. Finally, Steve forgot about whispering and shitty days and the whole bit. "Quit staring!!" he screeched.

He woke up half an hour later with one hell of a headache. Gina was leaning over him, a bored expression on her face. "He'll live. Idiot."

She moved away, affording Steve a view of Murphy nearby, laughing quietly. Steve slowly sat up, rubbing his head. He realized he was wearing a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt that must have been three sizes too big. He decided not to worry about how the clothes got on his body, and concentrate on keeping his mouth shut instead.

He noticed a plastic grocery bag on the bed next to him, and tried to peek inside without being caught. Gina rapped him lightly on the hand. "Out. You'll get your chance at what's in there before we leave." Murphy was laughing even louder. Gina sucked her teeth and fished around in the plastic bag. She pulled out four packages of dishwashing gloves and put three of them on the bed. Then she turned around and smacked Murphy with the other one.

"Quit laughing, Carrot-Top. Put your gloves on and get busy." She shoved the package in Murphy's hands and went back to the shopping bag. She pulled out a bottle of window cleaner and a soft cloth. She tossed a package of gloves and the cleaning supplies to Jim. "Catch. You should do the whole bathroom, just to be sure."

"What about the trash?" Jim asked, nodding at the plastic bag.

"Murphy can handle that." Gina opened the last two packages of gloves, pulled on one pair, and gave the other to Steve. "Put 'em on, cutie."

Steve looked at the gloves for a minute, and contemplated protesting. Then he thought about the tender knot developing on his head and pulled the gloves on. No point in pissing her off any more than he had to. "Do I need to do anything?"

Gina shook her head. "Just sit still and wait for my instructions. Do not speak out of turn. Got it?" Steve nodded, and watched with curiosity as Gina pulled out a scrap of paper and picked up the telephone with a gloved hand. After a pause, Gina asked for a room number - Herbie's room. After another pause, Gina rattled off all the proper passwords. Steve couldn't believe his ears. Another short pause, and then Gina grinned evilly. "Show time."

Chapter 2
Chapter 4

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