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Title: Unraveling, Chapter 14
Author: dragontatt
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Neither Shelter nor Without a Trace belong to me. No profit is being made from this work of fiction, and no disrespect is intended.
Word Count: 2634



Martin stuck his head out into the hallway and asked the uniformed officer standing there, “You guys carry a pick gun in your trunk?”

“No, they’re not standard issue. But I can get someone to bring one from the station, shouldn’t take too long.” He made a questioning gesture towards the radio hanging at his waist.

“No, let me see if I can find something quicker first.” Martin turned around and headed back toward the bedroom.

Inside, Danny had dragged the trunk over near the closet door, and holding onto the door for balance, was standing on the latch of the trunk right where the padlock was hooked on. He gave a half-jump or two, trying to see if the hardware would break away from the trunk, but it held firm. He hopped down and gave Martin a sheepish grin. “It was worth a try.”

Martin nodded, and squatted down to get a closer look at the padlock. A pick gun was always the best choice to open a lock, but there were still a few options he had available. “You think your friend the super has any bolt cutters? Or maybe a big fucking hammer?”

“He had all sorts of shit in the back of his pick-up, I wouldn’t be surprised. You want me to get him over here?” Danny’s lip curled in a tiny frown at the thought.

Jeff the super had coughed up the key to Tony’s place happily enough, barely glancing at the warrant Danny had tried to show him. In fact, he looked pleased to have his assistant back, greeting Danny warmly, complete with a loud clap on his shoulder. He seemed all set to follow them into the apartment, and it was only when Danny assured him they wouldn’t be needing his help that he’d mumbled incoherently about having to get something from his truck and wandered off.

“Please. I really want to get a look in here.” Martin frowned down at the trunk.

“Sure thing,” and Danny turned and took off out the apartment door and down the hallway at a trot. “Hey, Jeff? You still there, buddy?” he hollered as he reached the exit.


---


Ashley picked her cell phone up off the table and flipped it open before pushing a few buttons. She held it up to her ear and listened, shaking her head at Shaun a few moments later. “It’s going straight to his voice mail. And he doesn’t have a landline, or at least he didn’t used to. Don’t see why he would have gotten one lately.”

She pushed a few more buttons and listened again. “No answer at Jerry’s number either.”

“Jerry?” Shaun repeated in confusion.

“Yeah, Jerry. Tony’s girlfriend?”

“Oh, I…I don’t remember you saying her name before, that’s all.”

“Guess it’s short for Geraldine,” Ashley said with a shrug. “I do know that Tony prefers to call her Dina.”

Huh. When he’d read the poorly spelled directions in Ellen’s phone, he’d assumed Jerry was a guy. So had Ellen apparently.

“Can I get those numbers from you?”

She hesitated only a second before copying both numbers down on a notepad she pulled from the drawer of a nearby table. “I really hope you’re wrong about Tony being involved in your boyfriend’s kidnapping, but if you’re right, you need to be careful. Jerry told me a little about their roommate Wes, and I think he might be seriously insane. If he’s involved in all this too, he could be really dangerous.”

“All the more reason I need to find Zach as soon as possible,” he said firmly. “Listen, no offense, but your brother doesn’t sound like sharpest knife in the drawer. You really think he’d come all the way to LA to kidnap somebody and then drive all the way back to Portland?”

“Hmm, no, you have a point. Seems like the longer he stays on the road, the more likely he is to get caught. He’d probably find some place to hide.”

“You have any idea where that might be? Assuming any of this is true, of course.” Shaun held his breath – if Ashley didn’t have any idea, he was pretty much sunk. He knew by now that Tony was the one with the big black pick-up, and that he and Jeanne at least used to be friends. That was proof enough for him that Tony was the kidnapper – now he just needed to figure out where he’d taken Zach.

Ashley shook her head slowly, tiny rays of sunlight that snuck in between the blinds dancing along her hair, and then she paused, head jerking to a sudden stop. “When we were little,” she started slowly, “we used to go visit our granddad sometimes. He had a cabin in the mountains, and Tony loved that place. He wanted to go all the time, even in the dead of winter when there’d be two feet of snow on the ground and all the roads were closed.”

“Where’s this cabin at?” Under the table, Shaun’s hand clenched on his knee.

“I’m not really sure. My granddad died a long time ago, and my dad sold the place. But it’s way north, near the Oregon border. Like right in the corner of the state, you know?”


---

Danny was back with Jeff in no time, and between them the two men were carrying bolt cutters, a screwdriver with a long shank and a heavy square-headed mallet.

Martin smiled – this was going to be easy.

Except, of course, that it wasn’t. The round shape of the padlock prevented the bolt cutters from getting in close enough to the shackle to cut it, and the odd configuration of a short, squat trunk, round Master padlock and long screwdriver made it impossible to pry it open by the tried and true ‘slip the screwdriver in the loop and smash the shit out of it with the hammer’ method.

Jeff left, saying he was sure he had a Skil saw somewhere that could cut through the shackle. Danny held little hope for that and went out to ask the officer to call the station to get a pick gun sent out asap - stupid budget cuts caused equipment shortages everywhere it seemed. And that left Martin alone in the bedroom, leaning against the bedroom wall in silent frustration, glaring at the trunk.

Danny was squinting out the door to the building, watching as Jeff plundered the back of his pick-up, throwing tools and bits of junk out into the street as he searched for the elusive saw. He opened his mouth to yell at him not to bother when there was loud bang from the hallway behind him. He flinched, turning on the ball of his foot and drawing his weapon at the same time. He took off at a dead run, closely followed by the two uniformed officers.

He called out, “Martin?” as he entered the apartment as quick as possible, barely taking the time to check out the blind spots before running down the hall.

“It’s okay,” Martin said in an oddly loud voice.

Danny skidded to a stop in the doorway and peered in.

Martin had one hand cupped over his ear, and there was a look of vague pain on his face. In his other hand he held his still smoking weapon, and in front of him was the trunk exactly as before. Except now the front of the shiny round padlock had a blackened crater just below where the shackle slid in.

Danny stared wide-eyed, first at the trunk and then at Martin.

Martin glared at him belligerently a second before reaching out with the toe of his shoe, and pushing down on the destroyed lock – it slid open with a grinding clank.

Danny raised his eyebrows before saying, “Well, it’s open now, but I cannot believe you just did that.”

Martin gave a sheepish shrug then looked at Danny with a grin, and said, “I got tired of waiting.”

“Detective Cooper is gonna go crazy when he hears about this.” Danny knelt down beside the locker and gingerly slid the lock off.

Martin knelt down next to Danny before replying, “I don’t give a shit what Cooper does, we’ve dicked around long enough today.”

There was a soft noise in the doorway, and Martin turned to look. One of the uniforms stood there looking in, Jeffrey the super peering over his shoulder. Martin tilted an eyebrow at the officer, as if daring him to comment. But the other man just held up one hand placatingly before turning around and shuffling back down the hall. Jeff stood there a moment longer, mouth agape, before he backed out of the doorway.

Martin turned to Danny with a tiny grin and said, “Time to see if anything in here is worth the paperwork I’m gonna have to fill out.” He flipped up the latch and lifted the trunk lid all the way up. The first thing that Martin saw was the image of a mostly naked woman, clad only in small strips of shiny patent leather and heavy chains, hanging by her duct-taped wrists from a wooden ‘T’ device.

It was a porno magazine, of course, and for at least the top few inches of the trunk, porno mags were all he could see. This one was entitled ‘Ravaged,’ but as Martin lifted it from the trunk and set it to one side, he could see a wide variety underneath it, ranging from a few vintage Playboy’s from the ‘60’s to ‘Bound and Shackled,’ ‘Torso’ and one simply called “Blooded.” The woman on the cover of that one looked like a photo straight out of a domestic abuse file, eyes blackened and lip swollen. Her shattered gaze made Martin feel dirty for even looking at her face.

Martin dropped the magazine and grimaced to himself. Disgusting, but it could have been worse, he supposed, and didn’t that thought make it worse right there? “When we catch this guy, remind me to punch him in the face, okay?”

“Flip you for it,” Danny replied in a hard voice as he joined in stacking the magazines in a careful pile. As he lifted each, he gave it a quick flip, not to see the pictures but to make sure nothing was hidden inside.

“Guess it won’t be such a bother filling out that paperwork after all,” Martin murmured in disgust, reaching out with two fingers to carefully lift yet another magazine full of misogynistic violence masquerading as porn out of the way. By this point, he halfway expected nothing but porn in the trunk, but after he moved a copy of Shaved In Chains safely out of the way, he saw a familiar gray color that made him draw in a surprised breath.

He flicked another glance at Danny, and impatiently tossed the last couple of magazines out of the way before slowly lifting out what Wes had so carefully hidden at the bottom of his trunk. The case was made of a pebbled gray plastic, the kind that wouldn’t hold fingerprints well, but he pulled out a handkerchief to flip open the latch with anyway.

Both the top and bottom of the case were filled with grey high-density foam molded like an egg carton. There were two very specific shapes that had been cut into the bottom foam, mirror-images of each other to offer the most protection in the least amount of space. Both wells were empty.

“Well, shit,” Martin said distinctly.

“My thoughts exactly,” Danny replied.

The case hadn’t been the only thing at the very bottom of the trunk. There were also a couple smallish rectangular boxes with names like Federal and American Eagle stamped on them, lying next to a large black leather sheath holding what appeared to be a very large, very sharp knife complete with nasty serrations. There was also a small pistol, a .22, in a brown leather shoulder holster; the straps had been wound around the holster tightly and the whole thing tucked neatly into one corner of the trunk.

“If he left this behind, you have to wonder what he took with him.” Martin looked at Danny in concern. “Cooper did specifically say that none of these people had any legally registered weapons, right?”

Danny nodded, and looked closer at the empty gun case. It was a generic model, the kind that the purchaser filled with whatever pre-molded foam would fit their weapon – or weapons - of choice. No way to really tell what had been in this box though.

Martin reached out slowly and opened both ammo boxes, one after the other. They were mostly empty. Nine mil, just like the ammo at Alan’s apartment. That didn’t mean anything of course, nine mils were very popular.

“Wow, so he took ‘em both, huh?” said an interested voice over Martin’s shoulder.

Martin’s shoulders jerked and he spun around on the balls of his feet as quickly as he could while squatting on the floor, and he looked straight up into Jeff Moore’s face. The super had snuck back into the apartment and been looking over their shoulders.

“Hey, back up, okay?” Martin tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice, but it was hard with the other man looming over him while he knelt on the floor with no room to stand.

Jeff looked confused a moment and then comprehension flashed in his eyes and he took a long step back.

Martin nodded in gratitude and stood up, his knees creaking a bit from the long time spent on the floor. Danny stood up too, and said, in a somewhat friendlier voice than Martin’s had been, “So there were two guns in here, Jeff?”

“Oh yeah, he showed ‘em to me the day he got ‘em, took me to the shooting range with him even. Wes was very proud of those pistols.” Jeff nodded emphatically.

“Did you know they’re not registered?” Martin asked pointedly.

“Hey, that’s not my concern,” Jeff said with a shrug.

Martin threw an exasperated glance at Danny, who opened his mouth quickly and said, “Do you happen to know what kind of pistols?”

“Sure. Beretta M9s, just like the Army uses.”

A pair of nine mil Berettas? “No wonder he didn’t bother with the .22,” Martin said.

“So, Jeff,” Danny started, “You knew there were guns in this apartment and didn’t tell us when we got here with the warrant, and since the place was unoccupied, that’s okay.” He spoke slowly, as if to a child. “But is there anything else, anything at all, that you think we might need to know? Something important maybe?”

Danny stepped in front of Jeff and held his gaze firmly.

Jeff shuffled his feet, unable to meet Danny’s eyes. He glanced over Danny’s shoulder at Martin, dropped his gaze again and then said in a wavering voice, “Umm – I do have an emergency contact number for Tony, if that’s what you mean. It’s his sister’s number in Los Angeles.”

Martin let out an aggravated grunt, but Danny just said, “That’s exactly the kind of thing I mean, Jeff. Can you go get that number for us please?”


----


Shaun stood and thanked Ashley for all her help. He meant it too, she didn’t have to tell him a thing after all, especially since he was basically trying to get her brother in trouble with the FBI, but she had helped him anyway. She’d found out one last bit of information that seemed like, felt like it could be a big help.

After she’d remembered about the cabin, she’d called her mother at her golf lesson to see if she knew anything about it. She hadn’t remembered much, but she did remember the town – Alturas. Alturas, California.