Hope and terror singed into Niko. Bade was truly in town, masquerading to get his nutrition.This wasn’t some way to rationalize his sister’s and his best friend’s disappearance. He was here.
Which meant he truly had stolen Nine and Clem. They really were stuck in some abandoned building, getting tortured that exact moment. The edge of the thought was enough to cause him to upchuck the day’s gallons of coffee. Would Nine truly survive this? Even if they rescued her, healed her body, would she be anything other than catatonic for the rest of her life? When Jason left Niko for his own family, Niko sobbed.
If he had the mind to remember, he wouldn’t have found a pain more pervasive than the one shattering his soul that night. It paralyzed him, drained him entirely. Almost nothing of Niko was left - just his regrettably beating heart.
The tears and shaking managed to rock him into sleep. The sleep hardly restored him, especially due to the dreams that haunted him once he awoke. But there was sleep. The tragedy had managed to focus his energy. When he awoke to the bleeding sunrise, Niko mechanically organized his trip with Jason. He filled a cup with fresh coffee, wrote up and organized the final notes they would need onto Hero’s laptop, packed her laptop in his bag along with snacks, a capable nail gun, a wrench, and a hammer. He showered, brushed his teeth, dropped his pills into his pockets, and contacted Jason before driving over to the Whitefield’s himself.
"I figured my family could manage with one less car better than yours," he informed his partner clearly. "You can still drive." His accent had temporarily been stripped by the emotions plaguing him. Every time he blinked, he saw Nine’s arms, then Clem’s, then their entire throbbing bodies.
Niko handed Jason a bagel. They would need something in them for their fight. Once Jason readied himself, the pair entered the car and started on their way to the abandoned industrial buildings.
"I brought these," he said to Jason after pulling out the garage tools. "Just in case." Nobody commented on what case these tools were for exactly, but they knew. Either tearing Nine (and Clem, though Jason wouldn’t accept that) from whatever contraption Bade had her in, or for a possible fight with the beast himself. That was the nail gun’s main purpose. To stab the man into the wall, root him there for centuries.
When they arrived, Niko instructed Jason to park at a vantage point. They had to lie in wait, wait for Bade to leave whatever building he had chosen. Once he had left for food, they would have to sneak into that building and get Nine (and Clem) out of there as soon as possible. Niko rehearsed the plan with Jason several times, Jason mostly silent and watchful of his crazy-eyed friend.
Niko pulled out his laptop and connected to the internet through Spencer’s portable wifi device. The e-mail was already written up. Concise. Direct. With an odd little “Love, Niko” ending the e-mail.
"Once we see Bade," he directed to Jason, "I’ll click this button. If we don’t contact our families in twenty minutes, this e-mail will do it for us. Spencer will know exactly where we are, what we’ve done, and to call the police immediately."
If Spencer knew now, he wouldn’t let Niko. He probably couldn’t even comprehend the words coming out of his mouth. But anything about Bade, anything about a nail gun, and Spencer would do everything he could to keep Niko away from whatever plans his poor godson had devised. As for the police, they wouldn’t act quickly enough. They didn’t know Bade. At best, they were Plan B.
They waited for eons. Niko and Jason made sure to periodically text their family. Hero asked Niko to pick up milk and bread. Jason’s family wanted to know when he’d be back.
Niko wished he could have asked his sister that question.
The day wore on. Niko pulled out the granola bars and juice boxes near noon and the two slurped and crunched while silence consumed their minds. How long would they have to wait?
As it turned out, it was 1:29 in the afternoon when a large person in a Batman mask and cape strolled from the shortest building. Instaneously, Niko’s finger pushed against Hero’s laptop and the email went into timed release. Twenty minutes.