by: Sunhawk

Situations Or Duo Maxwell's Awful, Bad Day (cont) 

I realized I had stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk, and let the soldier move me nearer to one of those little ornamental trees at the edge of the street. Not good actual cover, but somewhat obscuring all the same.

And then a shot rang out. War instincts homed in on the sound, made pertinent decisions and activated evasive maneuvers before my conscious mind had time to do more than go, what the hell?

I found myself on the ground, hugging the side of a parked car with fingers digging to draw a weapon I didn't have. Shit. I scanned up the sidewalk and saw a body and further along, some woman with a dog running like hell the other way. I turned to look back down the sidewalk just in time to see another pedestrian go down. What in the hell had I blundered into the middle of?

Actually seeing the second man go down told me roughly where the shots were coming from and I dared a peek through the window of the car I was mated with, but couldn't see high enough up the building to spot anything. I slid forward and used the jerk and duck method of stealing a look upward, almost getting shot for my trouble, but was able to spot muzzle flash from a window across the street.

I crouched back down and took another scan of the street. There were other cars, but not many, and they were fairly widely spaced. It would be a hard run to make the next one down the block, and there was no other cover to be found. There was a building right in front of me, but it appeared to be closed for the lunch hour. Movement caught my eye as a door opened three buildings down and some older guy stepped out of the barbershop.

"Sniper!" I shouted at the top of my lungs. "Get back in the building!" The guy just stood there for a second, staring at me like he'd just wandered onto a movie set. "Move!" I bellowed, but it was the crack of the rifle that drove him back. At least my little buddy across the street missed the guy.

A car pulled into the street from the direction of the main drag. No way in hell could I warn them off, so I turned and made ready to use them as best I could. When they came abreast of my hiding place, I darted from cover, staying as low as possible and ran like hell in the shadow of the moving vehicle until I could throw myself down in the gutter beside the next car down the line.

The sniper fired off three or four halfhearted shots at the moving car, but only succeeded in making the guy floor it and take off like a bat out of hell.

Sure hope somebody had gotten around to calling the cops.

From my new vantage point, I could see that victim number one was dead as a door nail, taken right through the head. I wondered who in the hell the guy up there was after; surely he'd either gotten his target or scared them off by now. Why in the hell didn't he pack it in and run for it, before the law showed up? We were only four or five blocks from the fucking Preventor's headquarters for God's sake! For the first time in a lot of years, I wished I had a gun.

Finally, I heard sirens approaching and reflected that I would have to tell Heero that we needed to make a generous donation to the policemen's ball this year, just for this day alone. I shifted towards the hood of the car I was currently hiding behind and risked a look, but a shot rang out almost before I started to move and I dropped back to the ground.

Could this God damn day get any fucking worse?

Oh dear Lord... had I just challenged the power of worse?

The siren drew closer and there was suddenly one of those blessed machines with the pretty blue and red lights sailing down the street toward me. Well... toward the area anyway, not necessarily me. Right into the middle of the damn hot zone. What the hell? Hadn't the idiot who called this in, told them that there was a gunman down here?

The car screeched to a stop almost right across the street from me, and I watched in open-mouthed horror as the damn door opened and the guy climbed out, intent on heading for the body on the sidewalk in front of me.

I didn't know what the hell to do. Damn it, I couldn't just watch this guy get shot. On a sudden inspiration, I leapt to my feet and struck a pose that was supposed to look like I had a weapon, aimed up at that window, hoping to distract the gunman. I was banking on the sniper's split second hesitation while he tried to decide whether to shoot me or the cop, to save my damn life. I could only toss up a little prayer that the cop didn't shoot me.

"Sniper! Get down! Get down! Get down!" I was bellowing and my point was illustrated for me rather eloquently when my window buddy fired off a round. I dropped back to the ground and swear to freakin' God I felt the wind of that last bullet, and the window in the parked car exploded all over me.

There was a grunt and a curse and I looked up to find that the cop had taken refuge with me behind my car.

"Maxwell?" the guy blurted in utter amazement.

"Clint?" I could hardly believe my eyes and I'm afraid a strained little chuckle burst up out of my throat. "Long time no see man; so how'ya been?"

He just stared at me. Blinking in some small amount of shock.

"What the hell is going on here!" he finally blurted and I gave him a maniacal grin that I think scared him a little bit.

"I have no fucking idea," I was happy to impart. "There seems to be a guy with a sniper rifle on the third floor of the gray brick building intent on ventilating the ass of anything that moves down here." Up the street I saw another pedestrian turn the corner and I sighed heavily. "Get out of here! Clear the area!" I hollered and watched the guy freeze. "Nobody wants to fucking listen to me today," I muttered.

Clint backed me up with the wave of his hand and the guy jumped and ran.

"Oh aren't you just special," I grumbled and got an amazed little stare.

The guy we had just warned off must have been out of range anyway, or at an odd angle, because my third floor buddy hadn't fired on him. But he must have seen what we'd done and gotten pissed about it, because he suddenly hit the car with a couple of rounds.

We both flinched and ducked lower almost automatically. I felt Clint shifting around and realized he was getting ready to try to take a peek. "Don't try it; he's had his sights set on this car for five minutes now... just waiting for me to show myself."

"Is this guy after you?" he asked suddenly and I snorted.

"Not as far as I know," I informed him. "I think I just pissed him off because I ducked and I keep spoiling his fun."

He got on his little handheld then and radioed in the situation. I breathed a sigh of relief and was preparing to settle in and wait for the cavalry when the guy shot at us again. And then again. And again. It had a...rhythm to it. A pattern.

"What the hell?" Clint muttered, and I really wished I could see what was going on across the street. A couple of blocks down, I saw a police car move in and block the street. I assumed another one would be doing the same behind me, but I didn't turn and look. What the hell, was right. What was the sucker up to?

"Duck down a minute," I suddenly told my blue angel buddy and he gave me a quizzical look before complying. I rolled over on my back and kicked upward at the side mirror on the car. It took three hard kicks before I got the thing loose and it came away with a crack. "Ha." I grinned and caught it before it could hit the sidewalk and shatter.

Clint eased back up after I righted myself and gave me a raised eyebrow.

I smirked at him and then positioned my new toy so that I could see our playmate without sticking my head up where I would lose it. It took me almost thirty seconds of watching the guy fire and infinitesimally move the barrel and fire again before I got what he was doing.

"Son of a bitch!" I snapped and Clint looked at me in concern.

"What?" he growled back at me, looking a little wide-eyed.

"He's trying to hit the damn gas tank!"

"Shit! We gotta move!" and he grabbed my arm and started looking up and down the street, finding the same woeful lack of cover that I had.

"Whoa, big guy!" I told him, lowering the mirror and turning to get off my ass and crouched low on my feet. "Gimme your gun."

"What?" he barked, looking at me like I'd just asked him to kiss me goodbye. "I can't turn my firearm over to a civilian!"

"I'm with the Preventor's," I informed him and it really wasn't my fault I didn't have the time for the other pertinent details... any more than it was my fault if he chose to interpret that as a claim to be a Preventor agent. "Give me your damn gun and get ready to run... its called 'cover fire'!"

"No way, Maxwell! We're not going through this shit again," he snapped.

I was starting to get a little pissed off, I wasn't real anxious to sit there in the gutter and get my ass blown to kingdom come. "We have to run that way," I yelled at him, "and I can't get around you without breaking cover. You have to go first. Give me your mother fucking gun and run, damn it, before we get blown to bloody bits!"

I could see all kinds of crap running through his eyes about regulations and protecting civilians. About what the rulebook said to do in this kind of situation.

"This ain't in the damn rule book, big guy!" I snapped and I think it was my mind reading act that did it for him. He pulled the gun out and passed it to me butt first. My fingers automatically checked the load while my eyes were scanning his route out of here. All the while, there was the steady incessant crack of that damn rifle.

"On three," I told him tersely, shifting around and getting ready to take my stance. "Black van. I'll throw you the gun."

He said something then, which sounded suspiciously like, "Holy mother of God."

I took my breath, steadied my hand and began the count.

"One..." Clint scrambled around and settled into a low runner's crouch.

"Two..." the count was punctuated with gunshots. Sweat was starting to trickle down my back.

"Three!" On the same heartbeat, Clint launched himself and I threw my ass up and opened fire.

If nothing else, it served to break that God damn relentless rhythm.

I didn't have the time to seriously take aim, just threw shots in what I knew was the right general direction. There were answering shots and I realized I was holding my breath when my lungs began to burn.

"Clear!" came my signal and I dropped to the ground like a stone. I just laid there, panting like a marathon runner for a second until I got a frantic, "Maxwell! Maxwell... are you hit?" I raised my head and gave him a feral grin.

He waved his hand for the gun at the same moment that my little buddy began poking for the gas tank again. The shots were coming a little closer together... he was getting seriously pissed. Making sure the safety was on, I moved as far towards the front of the car as I could get and then hurled the gun for all I was worth. Clint caught it unerringly and I watched impatiently while he reloaded.

"Ready?" he called and I suddenly hesitated. The guy knew for sure what we were up to now. He'd be waiting for me to make my run the minute Clint made his move. I looked around and my eyes snagged on the broken mirror in the gutter.

"Maxwell!" Clint hissed and I passed him a sign to hold on. I stripped off my borrowed t-shirt, knotted the bottom closed and dropped the weight of the mirror into it.

"What the hell are you...?" he began, but I cut him off.

"Get ready!"

With the sound of that gun still exploring for the fluid that would end my run right then and there, I threw the shirt in the opposite direction and took off running.

"Shit!" Clint bellowed, totally unprepared, and began lying down fire.

Behind me, I heard the angry firing of that rifle. I imagined my little decoy getting drilled and tried not to imagine my own little self getting drilled. I dove the last couple of feet with that spot between my shoulders itching like a mother. I tore the knees out of my jeans but landed unventilated, giving out with an exultant cry that was almost a moan.

In the distance, there were some serious sirens closing in and Clint's radio crackled to life. We both jumped a foot in the air. A voice informed us that the SWAT team was on their way and to just hold on. Clint informed them right back that holding on wasn't much of an option since our little playmate was trying to blow us into the middle of next week. I was already scoping out the next car down the line and calculating out odds.

I suddenly realized that there was silence coming from across the street. That there hadn't been a shot fired in a handful of pounding heartbeats. I dared a jerk of my head and couldn't see the guy in the window any more.

Reloading. Had to fucking, finally be reloading.

Something old and instinctive took hold of my ass and I was suddenly on some sort of autopilot. I snatched the gun right out of Clint's hand and darted around the front of the van, running across the street.

"Maxwell!" he bellowed and came right after me. I hit the other sidewalk and threw myself flush against the building; grabbing a handful of his shirt when he caught up, and making him flatten out with me. "What in the hell do you..." he was growling at me, seriously pissed off.

I was in that black and white world though, and only snapped, "Shut up!"

I'm pretty sure he thought I'd lost my damn mind. It only took another couple of seconds of our pressing there against the warm brick wall before the firing resumed. Aimed at the black van. As I had suspected, the mother had been reloading and hadn't seen us move.

"Gotcha!" I breathed with a feral grin, and took my own sweet time taking a firm firing stance and careful aim. There wasn't much I could hit from that angle, so I just zeroed in on the barrel of the gun.

It all happened rather quickly then... I saw more emergency vehicles flooding into the end of the street. Someone pointed at us. I heard Clint's voice yelling into his radio for somebody to hold their fire. One of the shots from the third floor got lucky and the van exploded. The gunman quit firing and leaned out just a hair further, hoping to see us fry... and gave me a clear shot at his left hand. I took it and was rewarded by the sight of the rifle tumbling down to the sidewalk.

I was enveloped then by a pair of unbelievably strong arms and taken down to the sidewalk in a protective huddle as debris from the van rained down all over the street. Clint was attempting to share with me every curse word he'd ever heard.

We somehow managed to escape without getting skewered by flaming hot metal and eventually, Clint allowed me to stand up again. He plucked his gun out of my hands with this weird look that was somewhere between awed and apoplectic, and shoved it back into his holster as if defying me to say something about it.

SWAT guys were swarming all over the gray brick building, and a couple of them ran our way to check on us. I pointed them to the second victim on the other side of the street and was gratified to hear a shout go up a few minutes later for an ambulance.

I stood leaning against the building, only because sliding to the ground shirtless against bricks would have hurt. Clint was just staring at me almost like he was trying to make up his mind whether to hit me or hug me.

He opened his mouth a couple of times and then shut it again, finally blurting, "I can't fucking believe you made that shot with a van exploding in your damn ear."

I chuckled. Or I tried to chuckle... it came out kind of strangled and the big guy took me by the arm and sat me on the ground. After a second, he sat down too.

"So..." I ventured, "has your day been going as bad as mine?"

He started laughing, and for a second I didn't think he was going to stop. A couple of members of the SWAT team looked at him kind of funny.

"I've had better days," he chuckled at last, when he seemed able to settle down enough to speak.

We just sat and watched them load up the still breathing victim into an ambulance, and then the body into a separate one. Not long after, a couple of SWAT guys marched the shooter out of the gray building in cuffs. He was very... unassuming. Not young. Not all that old. Short hair, kind of greasy looking. I didn't know the guy from Adam, and wondered if I would ever know what in the hell this had all been about. I sighed and shook my head.

A SWAT member came toward us, carrying the shirt I'd thrown to distract the sniper and grinned. "Hey buddy... this yours?"

I cocked my head and looked up at him. "Kind of." He'd already taken the weight out of it and took a dramatic moment to flip the thing out and hold it up. It had three bullet holes through it.

"Shit," Clint muttered and reached with a shaky hand to grab it away from the guy. The man walked away with an odd little nod.

I took the shirt from Clint and just held it, a little loathe to put it back on.

"You ok, kid?" he asked in a surprisingly gentle tone.

"Yeah," I sighed. "Just wishing this day was a little bit further along than just the lunch hour... I'm not sure I'm going to live to see five o'clock at this rate."

He snorted and stood, reaching down to pull me to my feet. I had the strangest sense of déjà vu. We walked to his cruiser, still sitting at the curb with the door open and the lights flashing. He took the t-shirt out of my hands without a word and went to open the trunk again. There was more fishing around in the Good Will sack and he finally came up with a fresh shirt. He tossed it to me and I looked it over. This one said "Where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?" I laughed out loud and got a pleased little smirk from the man in blue. I pulled it on and we sat in his cruiser while he took my statement and I tried to hide from him how bad I was shaking.

What an unbelievably screwed up day.

When we parted ways this time, he hollered after me, "I don't want to run into you again today, Maxwell!"

"I am counting on it, big guy!" I hollered back and finished my walk to the dry cleaners. I made the return trip via an alternate route, stepped in some gum and almost got hit by a cab, trying to decide just what I'd done recently to so thoroughly piss off the Gods.

Would this day never be over? Would I freaking live to see another one?

I was, of course, fairly late getting back to work and was greeted with an exasperated sigh from Griff. "Maxwell," he grumbled, "when I told you to change shirts... I meant into one of the ones you were picking up... not just something different!"

My blood pressure was doing odd little things to my head. I was... rather on the brink of something kind of ugly. "Griff... I am having a bad day the likes of which the human race has never seen before. If one more thing goes wrong, I am going to..." I had been about to say I was going to take a rifle and climb the nearest tower and start shooting things, but... well, you know.

I dumped the bundle of new shirts on his desk, ripped the paper off one end, fished around inside and pulled one out in my size. I stripped the t-shirt off and jerked the polo shirt on, right in the middle of his damn office. I didn't say another word and neither did he. I crammed the t-shirt into my hip pocket and just let it hang there like a shop rag, storming off towards the back of the bay where the Ford from hell waited for me. I could feel his eyes on me all the way there.

Just fuck this damn day.

To be quite honest, I didn't do a hell of a lot else to that car. I rattled my tools around and hung over the fender with my head in the engine compartment just staring.

I hadn't even thought to eat lunch while I was out, and on top of missing breakfast, I was starting to feel a little shaky. There might have been a teeny little bit of adrenaline overload going on there too. I tried to just not think of anything, because when I let things replay in my head I kept seeing the bus driver and the shooting victims. Kept hearing explosions. Heard that lady screaming for her little girl.

George the thought hamster wandered in, looking around nervously, as if he were afraid to be near me and waved a little tiny banner that just said, 'damn' in a very understated way. He was wearing one of those little World War I pith helmets and took off the minute his message was delivered.

I was sitting cross-legged on the fender, absently turning a wrench over and over in my hands, staring at nothing in particular and thinking about fate and the power of worse. I had more personal space than was granted your average rabid wolverine and no one had spoken to me in hours. In some part of my mind that wasn't involved with wanting to go home, draw the curtains and crawl under my bed to sleep for about a week, I heard Griff say, "About time you got here, Yuy. Take his sorry ass out of here before the whole garage falls down around my ears. He's got some kind of jinx today."

There was more, a string of mutterings about broken tools and scaring the mail lady. I looked up and saw Heero and Wufei coming toward my corner of the garage with a matching set of smirking grins. I realized then that everyone else besides Griff and me was gone for the day. It was almost twenty minutes after. I considered leaping off the car and throwing myself into Heero's arms but was actually kind of afraid that I might fall on my face. Or that he would refuse me in front of Wufei and Griff. Or that I would somehow accidentally skewer him with the wrench in my hand.

"Is that Anderson's car?" Wufei asked with an odd little grin, as they got closer.

"Is this the infamous car from hell?" I growled. "Is this the oldest piece of crap on the face of the planet? Is this the vehicle that takes more man hours to keep running than it would be worth if it were brand new?"

[back] [cont] [back to Sunhawk's fic]