Louis stops the van and I stare out of the window. "Is this it?" I ask staring at the large building beside us.
"No, it's just around the corner from here, I didn't want to park right beside it since they'd know they have visitors immediately. Thought we could take them by surprise." he winks and I nod. We both step out into the cold night air and I shiver in my thin jumper and jeans. "You didn't exactly come equipped for the weather." he says noticing. "I didn't exactly have time to think about my wardrobe choices what with everything going on." I hit back defensively which makes him laugh.
"Anyway, no time to squabble over this. Let's get going."
I agree and nod at time to take the lead. He begins to walk down the footpath and I follow alongside him.
"I'm going to tell you this now so that if it happens it doesn't come as a surprise to you."
I look up at him and wait for him to continue, curious about what he has to say.
"If things get nasty in here i'm going to get myself out as quickly as possible. I've gave you this location and came here with you and that has completely went against my orders, so forgive me if I'm not prepared to die for your squad."
I look down at the ground and stay silent for a few minutes as we walk. "Alright, fine." I eventually say. "I've appreciated what you've done for me."
He stares at me silently for a few seconds, lingering for longer than normal, before shifting his eyes to infront. We turn a corner and he pushes me against a wall and pulls me down into a crouch. "We're here." he whispers staring narrowed-eyed at the small one-story building infront of us.
"This is it? Is this some kind of joke? This couldn't be their base!" I shout at him, pushing him away. "Stop jumping to conclusions! It goes underground. Pretty smart if you ask me. Looks small, nothing like what it actually is." he tells me and my temper lowers. "So we have to go in the front door? Theres no other way in?" I question and he nods grimly. "That's why my organization never infiltrated it all this time. Walking right through the front door was too risky." he tells me and I swallow hard, my stomach knotting. "We have to try." I say, standing up and starting towards it. He jumps up and jogs to catch up with me, bringing his gun out from his belt. I take my tranquilizer gun out and ready it as we reach the door.
"Now remember, this could be nothing." he whispers and I nod. A few seconds later he kicks the door in and we both enter, our guns pointed up, ready to fire. Two men at a secretary desk stand up reaching for their guns but i'm too fast and hit both in the neck with a dart. "Come on, this way" Louis gushes and we run for a flight of stairs leading down. We take the stairs two at a time, sometimes jumping down an entire section until we reach a door. I give Louis a nod telling him I'm ready and he kicks the door open leaping inside and I'm hot on his heels.
I hear Louis shoot and the sound of a body drop to the floor as I send a dart into a woman's arm and watch her fall back into her chair.
Something hard crashes into my head and sends me onto the floor. I push my self up in an attempt to get on my feet but a boot connects with the back of my head, forcing my head to smack off the hard tile floor definitely busting my nose open. I bring a shaky hand to my face and when I pull it away, my hand is completely red.
I grip my normal gun, pulling it from my belt and spin onto my back, aiming it up as a man attempts to throw a large vase at me but it misses and breaks into pieces on the floor. I shoot and hit is arm. He yelps and clutches his wound as I jump off the ground, grabbing hold of him and placing the gun at his head.
I look round at the many guns pointed at me and freeze.
"Let him go." someone says but I push the gun harder into his temple. I scan the room for Louis who has vanished. He left, I think and my heart begins to race. There's no way I'm getting out of here alive.
"I'm looking for my squad. You took them hostage today. Just let them go and this doesn't have to get anymore messy than it already is." I babble, hoping to buy myself even a few more seconds.
"We can't help you, unfortunately for you this isn't where hostages are taken." a woman says and my head begins to spin.
I glance over to the other side of the room where the door to the staircase is as I attempt to work out any possible way out but fail everytime.
My grip on both the man I'm holding and my gun begin to loosen as I decide to accept defeat. I'm going to die here. Everything that I'm never going to get the chance to do seems to flood into my mind at that moment and I can feel my heart break inside my chest.
A loud clang on the tiles startles everyone and we all watch a small object glide across the floor into the middle of us.
I push the man infront of me and the crowd wavers for a second as they reach out to grab him. I take their distraction in my stride and leap onto a large desk beside me. I run along it and jump as far as I can landing onto the floor in a crouch. I begin running, faster than ever before towards the stairs as I hear the voices behind me begin to rise as they realise what the object is.
I push open the door and am greeted by Louis aiming his gun at my head. I get the feeling of deja vu and almost laugh. "Thank God it's you." he says, grabbing my arm and beginning to pull me up the stairs. My arm feels like it's going to break off as he pulls me with such force. "Faster!" he shouts over and over again and I push my legs harder and we break out into the lobby that we were in a few minutes before. As we reach the front door I hear a loud rumble and i'm practically lifted off my feet as the small but powerful explosive goes off below us. We don't stop running when we get outside and hear the building cave in behind us. We keep running and running as we round the corner and sprint down the long path towards Louis' van.
We jump inside and Louis starts the engine without even a word to me and drives away from the area at an alarming speed.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck." he mutters under his breath and hits the steering wheel.
"Whats wrong?" I ask in confusion and he stares at me like i'm insane.
"What's wrong?!" he laughs, sarcasm clear in his voice. "We just blew up one of their bases and killed a shit load of their people. We're totally fucked Jennifer. That's what's wrong."
I stare at him, annoyance taking over me. "I thought you said you wanted to take out as many of them as you could! And you took out an entire base full!" I shout and he looks at me wide-eyed. "When I said that I thought a nice figure of twenty maybe thirty if lucky, not a couple hundred! We've pissed them off big time and they're going to come looking for us. Both of us, and our organizations. You've probably endangered your squad's life. That's if they aren't already dead after what we just pulled."
"My squad wasn't there." I say in a small voice, trying to make myself feel better. "And I never asked you to throw that grenade in! That was all on you!" I say and I can see anger flash in his eyes. "I was saving your fucking life if you hadn't noticed! Again, might I add! You don't think, that's your problem. You just go straight in there thinking you can take them all on and get your friends back but you don't actually plan it and you don't organize a proper team, you take me hostage and automatically throw me into the deep end. This isn't my organization and i'm done helping you." he shouts. "Then why did you come back?!" I scream. "You had left, you were gone, you could have went straight out of there, back into your van and drove away, leaving me to die. It wouldn't have made any difference to your life. Infact life would have went back to normal for you. But you came back."
I see him tense up but he doesn't look at me. He keeps his eyes on the road and stays silent.
Eventually he speaks up. "I felt obligated to help. I felt guilty leaving you there." he almost whispers it but I hear it so clearly. "Why?" I ask "You don't owe me anything. We aren't comrades." I tell him and he shakes his head. "I don't know, alright? I just couldn't do it, despite what I said."
"We should get out cleaned up." he says softly, not giving me a chance to reply. His tone felt weird after all the shouting. I must look crazy, blood covering my face, streaming down my chin and covering my clothes. "I'll take you back to my place. It's late too, so you can sleep there." I look up at him and he quickly adds "If you want to of course. I can take you back to your own place if you'd like." "It's fine. I'll stay at your place." I tell him and he nods looking back at the road.
We don't talk for the rest of the journey, partly due to exhaustion and partly due to it possibly ending in another shouting match, which neither of us want.
We pull up to a block of apartments and he parks his van alongside the road. He jumps out and comes to my door, opening it for me and helping me out, checking out my face as he does. "You hit that floor pretty hard" he comments and I laugh weakly. "You saw?" "Yeah, I ran out straight after it happened." he says sheepishly and I don't reply.
He brings me inside to an empty foyer and over to a lift. Inside he presses for level 15 and the elevator rattles as it rises, making my stomach turn as it jolts side to side slightly. I'm relieved when the doors open and we step out into a long corridor lined with doors on both sides. The carpet has dirt patches every few steps and the walls are filthy which makes me anxious. He stops at a door numbered 254 and takes out a key, sliding it into the hole. We step inside and Louis switches on the lights which almost blind me.
The apartment is definitely better kept than the rest of the building and I relax. Louis gently pulls me over to a black sofa and sits me down before running into a room and coming out with a basin full of lukewarm water, a cloth and tucked under his arm he carries a first aid-kit.
He sits down on a coffee table infront of me and smiles, dipping the cloth into the water and ringing it out. "Tell me if this hurts." he mumbles as he begins to wipe at the now hard blood on my face. He dabs gently around my nose, so that he doesn't hurt me and I silently thank him, doubting that I would be able to deal with the pain.
"Vincent is going to shoot me tomorrow." I sigh and Louis gives me a small grin. "He's a dickhead, don't bother going in." he tells me. "That'll make everything so much worse." and he shrugs. "Don't let him bully you around. You were just trying to save your squad." Earlier he was shouting at me for not thinking and now he's saying this. "You sound like a completely different person than earlier." I say and he moves his eyes down to the floor.
"I'm sorry I said what I said, it was a heat of the moment type of thing. But listen, I think you should come to my base tomorrow. And before you start blowing up, I'll make sure nothing happens to you. I just think that you could be quite an asset for us, over there you're just getting pushed around all day, you'd be alot happier with us." Louis says.
"I'll come." I reply after a few minutes. "I don't know about joining you, but i'll help you out. But I would like for you to take me home first tomorrow, I just want to change and sort myself out a bit." I ask and he agrees. "That's you cleaned up. Your nose should be alright, It'll be a bit sore but I can give you painkillers for that, and I don't think you have a concussion or anything." he stands up and walks into the kitchen, attached to the living room and fills a glass with water, getting two painkillers and bringing them back for me. I take them gratefully and wash them down instantly, also grateful for the feel of the cold water on my dry throat.
"You can take my bed tonight, you need it more than me. I'll sleep out here on the sofa." he says reaching out a hand for me to take. I try to refuse, saying that the sofa would be completely acceptable but he refuses, leading me down a small corridor and into a room with a double bed, a wardrobe and a desk. On the desk sits a laptop and stacks of papers and books and t-shirts cover parts of the floor. He pulls down the duvet and picks up a t-shirt from the ground. "You can wear this since I haven't exactly got any girls pajamas here" he says jokingly and I smile lightly. He sets it on the bed and walks past me to the door. "Have a good sleep." he whispers before shutting the door tight and leaving me alone in the dark room.
I walk over to the bed and peel off my bloody and sweaty clothes, slipping his t-shirt over my head. It's pretty baggy on me but it's warm and comfortable. I slip under the duvet cover, pulling it up to my chin and nestle down into the pillow, taking in the softness and unfamiliarity of the bed. But I like it, I somehow find it comforting. I shut my eyes tight and finally fall into a soundless sleep.