Through the Valley - Chapter 6
Told you this would come soon!! This was one of the very first chapters I wrote for this fic so I've been SOOOOO eager to share this one with y'all as it was one of the original 3 chapters written before any of the rest was. Hope y'all like!! Big shoutout to Em ofc who helped set the tone for this the way I’d imagined it to be.
Jessica places her head against the wheel, trying to control her breathing. Three days. That’s how long Ainsley’s been missing. Major Crimes didn’t have answers, not ones they needed. More information about Piers came to light, missing hospital workers turned up dead. Anyone who knew about him, all in a grave.
She shudders remembering Gil’s touch as he told her.
Malcolm was a mess. The longer without news, the more he unravels.
He might get that from her.
She’s already torn off several people's heads. Gil was a rather unfortunate recipient of one of the worse ones. He, thankfully, understood. Only gathering her in his arms until she stopped fighting him. Held her until she stopped crying.
It took one contact, a moment where all her will had snapped. She called in a favor she never wanted to. There was a doctor, a woman, who had lost her job back when Martin worked at the hospital. It’d been unfair, she’d almost been buried by a man who she pissed off. Then every mistake she made became scrutinized. A breath away from ruin.
Martin begged her to help. That was the first time Martin had asked her for anything.
It’d been too easy to find the trail of botched surgeries. The patients he paid off to keep quiet.
She rose again, but not without a track record of her own.
Jessica had kept an eye on her, after Martin. After the truth came out, she questioned everything. Who had this woman truly been?
She stayed away, until now. The woman had worked with Piers previously, years ago. It was the only option she could think of that hadn’t already been exhausted.
She supposes that’s how she ended up parked in front of a warehouse at two in the morning. It’d been under the name of a patient he’d lost. A death that he took hard, one that changed him. The plot had been abandoned for a decade. No reason for an armed man to be standing outside guarding an empty metal husk.
She has no idea what she’s going to find inside. It could be hundreds of men, drugs that she didn’t even know existed. Ainsley might not even be here.
It’d been three days. What other choice did she have?
Jessica pulls the hood of her jacket over her head, glancing down at the mask resting in her lap. It was cliche and ridiculous. Yet she didn’t plan on killing anyone. She just wants to get Ainsley out safely. She swallows, sliding it over her face as she takes a slow breath. Triple checking that the gun is loaded before she slides out the door.
The man at the front is easy enough to distract, with a rock bouncing off the metal walls he steps away to investigate. It gives her enough time to slip in unnoticed.
The place is much more elaborate on the inside, large machines long collecting dust. She sticks to the open pathways, forgoing the doors that are shut with nobody around. She sneaks around the roaming men easily enough. There weren’t many, but there were enough that she was certain that this was the place that she was looking for.
She stops when she sees two men standing by a door. They’re talking, casually, as if this were just any given day to them. She’s so focused on watching them, listening to what they’re saying, that she doesn’t notice the glass beneath her feet until it makes the deathly crunch beneath her weight.
“Did you hear that?” Her heart jumps, fingers wrapped around her gun as she takes a more cautious step forward, away from the pile of glass. She can hear the man as he approaches, only one. She waits until he rounds the corner, just passing her to look where she’d previously been standing.
Taking the opportunity she wraps her arm around his neck from behind, kicking his knee out so that his weight is the main source of his struggle. His fingers scramble for purchase against her but she doesn’t relent. Only when his weight slumps does she let go, watching as he falls to the ground.
“Hey!” She whips around, eyes wide as she meets the gaze of the other man. The blast echoes in her ears as the man stumbles back. She’d been quicker on the shot. He falls against the wall and she feels a small ache in her chest.
She snuffs it quickly remembering what she’s here for.
She has to find her.
No matter what.
Jessica forces herself to move, eyes now trained on the door the two men were guarding. It has to be something. God, she can feel the weight of the world as she swings the door open.
Ainsley’s tied to a chair, head dropped low and blood staining her normally perfectly tamed locks. Jessica bites her cheek to keep the noise from escaping her chest. She’s here. Her baby is here. When she watches her shoulders rise and Jessica feels her throat tense. Tears of relief build, threatening to spill over. She clenches her teeth forcing them back as she takes in the sight. Her wrists and ankles are bound to the chair keeping her steadily in place. She’d been here all along. She should have called in that favor three days ago.
There’s no time for how she feels. She needs to move quickly and get her out. She checks the hallway before sliding the gun into the holster on her hip. She pulls the switchblade from her pocket, kneeling to cut her wrists free. She’s careful when sliding the blade beneath the binding, aware of how easily she could knick Ainsley if she doesn’t work slow.
Yet she can hear voices over the walkies, calls for a response that won’t come.
Her heart stops when she hears a small hum. It takes Jessica a moment to register that it’s coming from her daughter. She only has a second to pull the blade out before she starts thrashing, recognizing that someone is in front of her and fighting like hell to get away.
“Ainsley, stop.” She tries to command, hoping her voice would be enough to calm the girl but her panic is too deep. She’s tied down, in pain, in an unfamiliar place with some person holding a knife in front of her. She whips off the mask before she can start screaming. “Ainsley, baby, open your eyes.” She shakes her head stubbornly, blonde curls flying with the movement. “Sweetheart, it’s me. It’s mom.” Finally her eyes snap open.
Jessica’s stomach bottoms out when she gets a full look at her face. The blood she saw in her hair streamed down the side of her face, tracing her jaw with a line of crimson. Her eye is bruised and swollen, cuts adorn her cheeks as if someone had hit her with a ring on. Her blood boils at the sight, her vision momentarily going red before remembering to relax. “Mom?”
“It’s ok. You’re safe. We’re going to get you out of here.”
“What are you doing here?” Jessica tilts her head because it’s a long story. Far too long for the time they have. She feels her hands shake as she traces her hands over Ainsley’s shoulder and a wince crosses her face.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Ainsley takes a shaky breath, tears spilling down her cheeks. Her breath catches. What did they do to her? Did she think she was going to- “It’s ok. I got you.” She can hear the voices getting closer. There’s no time. She can’t get her out. “Stay here.”
“Where are you going?”
“I’ll be back. I promise.” She tries to offer a reassuring smile but she doubts it’s effective when she can feel her hands shake with anger as she pulls the mask back over her face. With every step she can feel her body burn. With hatred, with fury, with desperation. She needs to find Wesley Piers, he needs to pay for everything he’s done.
For what he did to her.
She doesn’t see the movement until it’s too late. A man tucked in a corner, eyes horrifically locked on his dead colleagues until she stepped out. The knife clutched in his hands slashes her in the side forcing a gasp from her lungs as the pain echoes through her. She moves instinctively, firing two shots and the man drops.
She winces when her hand touches where the knife dug in, her fingers coming away stained with her own blood. She bunches the jacket she wears as best as she can, pressing the fabric to the wound no matter how much the pain aches to rip a scream from her throat.
She has to keep going. If she leaves he won’t stop. He’ll come after Ainsley again, maybe Malcolm too if he figures out that major crimes are searching for him. He could come after her family again.
Two more men come running. They’re both dead before they can take three steps in the same corridor as her. She rounds the corner and this time she sees the person hiding. He springs out, ready to attack. She uses his momentum against him to throw him against the wall with a metallic clang. When he crumples and doesn’t get back up, she continues moving.
The halls are quiet now, no voices over static. No clambering footsteps or clicking of guns. She stops, only for a second, when another jumps from the shadows pushing her gun away from him before it fires into the floor. She fights against him as he shoves her against the wall. Both his hands focused on keeping the gun pointed as far from him as possible. Using that as a distraction, she rears back slamming her head into his nose. He stumbles and falls so now she can get a good look at him.
The man doesn’t belong here, in a well pressed suit and tie. The others were in dark clothes, blending in. Not raising suspicion. He looks wrong, trembling as he holds his bleeding nose. He’s not a threat, far from one. “What do you want?” The man asks, shuffling back.
She recognizes him from the hundreds of pictures posted across New York. Always smiling with a slimy grin. This is the man she was searching for. Wesley Piers. He’s the one that hurt Ainsley.
Venom fills her mouth as she raises her gun. “I’ll give you anything you want. You want money?” The question forces a bitter laugh from her. As if money could pay back all he’s done, the lives he’s taken, the life he could have taken. “Please.”
“Shut up!” She shouts and his jaw snaps shut. She breathes slowly, watching him as tears stream down his face. Yet all she can see is Ainsley, fearfully thrashing against her own mother’s grip.
What did they do to her?
“You’re hurt. I can get you the best doctors in New York.”
“I said shut up!”
“Power?” She scoffs. “You’re doing this for a reason. There has to-” She swings the gun knocking him unconscious with a single blow. In the silence she can finally think.
The world would be much better off with this man dead. He can’t hurt anyone else. No possibility of using his endless amount of money to get him out early, to sway a jury, to keep him comfortable and happy when he should be rotting in a cell.
He could run.
Just like Martin.
“We are the same.”
She hears his words with such clarity that she almost turns her head to look for him. He’s long gone, probably off somewhere on an island. Not in this damp warehouse. Not standing over a body next to her. Yet she can still hear him, coaxing her to pull the trigger. She lowers the gun, tears of frustration building behind her eyes.
She wants him to suffer for what he did. To Ainsley, to all the innocent people that he stole money or even their lives. Her vision swims when she steps back, the cool metal of the wall feels good through the thick layers. Her eyes fall to her hand, the jacket has soaked through, spilling into her palm again. The man is a crumpled heap. Uselessly breathing the same stale air. She should just end the sound. For some peace of mind. Yet she knows. It will bring no peace. His face will join the others in her nightmares. His name will join the ones on her lips that she chases away, drink after drink. In search of an oblivion that is just out of her reach. The oblivion that feels oddly close now. She tips her head back against the wall, tears sliding down her face.
She can’t do it.
She can’t kill him.
This man is far from Nicolas Endicott, who’s presence threatened her family long after he was dead. Not even a Robert Van de Camp who brought a gun into her home with intentions of murdering both her and Cricket.
He’s not a threat.
She’ll call it in, an anonymous tip that she heard screaming. There’s more than enough evidence here to convict Piers of his crimes. Malcolm will come, he’ll arrest him. She can make sure that he never sees the sun again. This can end, without any more death.
She’s ready to push herself off the wall, grab Ainsley and run when another voice echoes out.
She hadn’t even heard the footsteps.
“Jess, put the gun down.”
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