Disclaimer: I didn't do it, nobody saw me, you can't prove a thing.

The Great Escape - Chapter 7
(c)1999-2001 KSH

"Oh, no not again," Jon whined, running his hand through his hair.

"Who are you and what do you want?" the woman asked, the gun pointed right at his chest.

He almost fell over in relief. "You're not a friend of Guido's?"

"I don't know anybody named Guido. What are you doing here?" She drew her lips together, obviously losing patience.

As soon as he opened his mouth, words started tumbling out almost on top of each other. "Please put the gun down, I'm not going to hurt you. I'm unarmed, I swear, see? I need help. Can we please go inside and can I have something to drink, and do you have a phone?"

The woman lowered the gun cautiously, and stepped back into the cabin. "Okay, but don't try anything."

She opened an old-fashioned ice box and got out a gallon of water. "I don't have anything else to drink right now," she said, pouring him a glass.

"This is fine," he answered gulping it down.

"Now," she took the glass from him and pointed him to a chair. "What's going on?"

"The short version is that I was trying to help a friend, and someone didn't want me to, and I got lost in the woods. My name is Jonathan Cain, by the way."

She looked at him like What-kinda-crap-is-this and extended her hand. "Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov. Pleased to meet you."

*Cool, she knows who I am,* he thought. "No, really, I am Jonathan Cain. See?" He pulled out his wallet and showed her his driver's license. "Now what's your real name?"

"Stacy Aaron," she answered. "Man, it's a good thing you don't look like this picture."

"Thanks a lot."

"Okay, we have one rock star lost in the woods. I have a feeling I'd better hear the long version of this story." She sat down and leaned back, arms folded.

Jon told her everything. Every time he tried to leave part of it out, she raised one eyebrow, so he ended up telling her the whole story. "Do you believe me?" he asked.

"Nobody could make this crap up." she answered, rolling her eyes and sitting upright. "Let me sum this up. Neal is hiding in the woods around here somewhere but you don't know where. You were kidnapped by either a hitman or the killer pimp from Risky Business, but you escaped by taking his cabin apart, and he may or may not be on your trail., but when he finds you, he's going to kill both of you, and anybody else who might happen to be in the same cabin. Right?"

Jon flushed and squirmed in his seat. "Yeah, that, um, pretty much covers it."

Stacy made a noise of exasperation and brushed back a strand of red hair that had escaped from its ponytail. "I should just shoot you myself and save him the trouble."

He sunk down a little farther in his seat. "Well, now you understand why I need to use your phone."

"Well, there's a problem with that," she told him, leaning forward. "First of all, this is a roughing-it type vacation cabin. I don't have a phone, or electricity, or running water, for that matter. Secondly,

Guido is apparently a little smarter than the average bear if he managed to track Neal to this park and grab you without being seen or heard. If you pop back up, how long do you think it'll be before Steve Perry's singing at your funeral? Third, how is he going to demand the disk in exchange for your safe return when he apparently doesn't know exactly where you or Neal are?"

"Jeez," Jon sighed, and ran his hand through his hair. "Now I know how Neal feels after some of our conversations. I guess I need to come up with Plan B."

"I didn't bring my car up here with me. By the time either of us walked to a phone and tried to find out what's going on in civilization, it would be dark. I may regret this, but why don't you stay here tonight, and we'll figure out what you're going to do in the morning."

Jon suddenly sat upright. "What about Liz and the kids? What if Guido goes after them?"

"I don't think he will," Stacy reached over and laid a hand on his arm. "Liz has probably already reported you missing, and if the police have any sense at all, they'll connect this to the murder and Neal's disappearance. Your family is probably already under police protection. The last thing Guido needs right now is to take more chances, so I'm sure he'll concentrate on finding you and Neal, and not even go near your house. Especially since he thinks Neal still has the disk. And even if he suspects that someone else has the disk, he certainly doesn't want to draw police attention to it."

"I hope you're right," he forced himself to relax. "So what do you do in a cabin with no electricity?"

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Neal put the guitar down for the eighth time and cursed out loud. He had never felt more helpless in his life.

*The more I think about it, the more sure I am that Guido's got Jay. What do I do? I can't leave and go find them. I don't have a car, and I have no idea where to look. That's probably why Guido got him in the first place. To try to flush me out. If I stay here, I'm a sitting duck waiting for them to find me.*

He crawled out of the tent and sat in front of it, picking up a rock and tossing it in frustration.

*Does Guido know Jay has the disk? What if he's already killed him? God, I'm going to drive myself nuts. I need a plan.*

At that moment, Neal's cell phone rang. He had left it on after he called Jon. Considering Jon's cell phone was sitting beside it, the only person it could be was Dina.

"Hello?"

"Mr. Schon. I believe you have my disk." Neal recognized the voice as one of the two from Leroy's office.

"I don't know what you're talking about." *That was brilliant, Neal. He SAW you with it!* he thought to himself.

"Mr. Schon, I had thought you an honorable gentleman. You certainly would not want to keep property from its rightful owner. And I believe a friend of yours would appreciate its return as well."

"What the hell have you done with Jay?" Neal leaped to his feet, outraged now.

"Mr. Cain is just fine, taking a nice vacation at my cabin until such time as I hve the disk back in my possession."

"Let me talk to him." Neal had learned a thing or two about handling kidnappers from tv.

"I apologize. I am not at the cabin at the moment. However, I assure you that your friend is quite safe and comortable. Now, shall we make arrangements for an exchange?"

All this politeness was really getting on Neal's nerves, but he had to stay calm for Jon's sake. "I don't have the disk here with me. I'll need some time to get it." *Good, buy time.*

"I understand completely, and I do appreciate the fact that you did not risk exposing a sensitive piece of computer equipment to the elements. I shall call you at noon tommorrow." Guido hung up, leaving Neal wondering *Now what?*

He picked up another rock and threw it. It would be dark soon. In the morning, he would have to search the woods for this so-called cabin, or at least to make sure he didn't find Jon's body.

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By the time they had eaten supper, played several games of chess, and drank a pot of coffee, Jon and Stacy had a plan. As she pointed out, Guido wasn't after her yet, so she would ask a couple at a nearby cabin for a ride to town or use of their car. Once in town, she would try to contact Liz to make sure that everyone was okay, and see if Guido had made any ransom demands. They were pretty sure Guido would have left Liz alone, but how was the world's dumbest hitman going to demand the disk from Neal when he didn't know exactly where Neal was? They debated calling Neal on the cell phone, until Jon realized that was probably how Guido had been able to find them.

"Are you sure that you really want to do this?" Jon asked again.

The look on Stacy's face was completely serious. "Look, it took ten years to get the last Journey album out of you guys. If I let you and Neal get killed, they'll probably never be another one." she gave a huge sigh and looked hilariously pitiful. "The world would never forgive me. I'd have to come back here and live all the time."

Jon grinned. "When all this is over, you'll have to meet Ross Valory."

"Why, is the mob after him too?" she rolled her eyes.

"I rest my case," Jon said, clearing away his coffee cup. "By the way, it's getting late. What are we going to do about sleeping arrangements?"

"There are a couple extra blankets, one of us could sleep on the floor. Or if you promise to keep your hands to yourself and not hog the covers, it's a king-size bed." she burst into laughter at the look in his face. "Man, you should see your face! Oh, please, I'm not going to take advantage of you. Didn't you ever have to share a bed with your sister when you were a kid and spent the night with your grandparents or something?"

"I don't have a sister."

"Well, I had to share a bed with my brother when I spent the night at my grandma's house and it didn't warp me for life."

"I appreciate the offer, but I'll sleep on the floor." He emptied his pockets and moved the table over to make more room to spread the blankets.

Stacy handed him the blankets and snorted, muttering something about being stuck in a cabin with a rock star who thought he was Sir Lancelot.

Jon chuckled as he spread out the blankets and laid down. "Good night Stacy."

She smiled sweetly before blowing out the lantern. "Good night Jon boy."

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Neal was awake almost as soon as it was light. He choked down a doughnut Jon had brought him for breakfast, and loaded up as much food and water as he could carry. He had to come up with some way to mark the trails so he wouldn't get lost. As he dug through the gym bag of clothes Jon had brought, his hand hit something hard. He pulled out his gun, a piece of paper sticking out of the barrell. It was a note from Jon, which read "I don't know how much good this will do against bears."

*Oh, God, please don't let him be dead.*

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Jon and Stacy finalized their plans over breakfast. Jon would stick close to the cabin while she was gone.

At one moment, they both happened to have their mouths full, and the air was silent. There was a faint noise outside. They looked at each other.

"What's that?" Jon asked.

"Crap! Somebody's coming!" Stacy jumped up and grabbed her backpack.

"You aren't expecting company, are you?" Jon jumped up and grabbed the things he had taken out of his pocket the night before.

"No, but then again, this isn't my cabin," Stacy called over her shoulder as she headed out the door.

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