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
"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
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
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,"
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
"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
I took my breath, steadied my hand and began the count.
"One..." Clint scrambled around and settled into a low runner's
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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?"
[cont] [back to Sunhawk's