What a mess.
Val had really thought it was over. Now Agent Lee had gone back to trying to find Death by groping. One agent was wounded, and the other was holding onto his gun so tightly that his knuckles were white. And Dave was too busy covering the photographer with his big, manly body to do anything useful.
One of the reporters who’d been hiding under her desk made a dash for the stairs, and Val considered following her. Whatever plan they’d had was trashed, and this time, she didn’t want to hang around and wait for the building to blow up. But what if Death got away? The plan hadn’t been for Death to get away. And if he killed the photographer first, the DSA might not be able to find the evidence to take down the Kurodas.
That wasn’t acceptable. Val had to get involved.
Agent Lee’s back was to her, which made now the perfect time to act. Staying low to the floor, Val crept towards the stolen gun Death had dropped. With his eyes closed, hopefully he wouldn’t realize what she was about to do.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Agent Lee turned around right as Val grasped the gun. Did she have eyes in the back of her head or something? Actually, considering the powers some DSA agents had, that wouldn’t be completely out of the question. Val made a mental note to check later.
“Relax,” Val said. Then she aimed and fired.
No, she didn’t shoot Agent Lee. (She’d never do that…. Okay, maybe “never” was a strong word, but she wouldn’t do it unless she absolutely had to.) And she didn’t somehow manage to shoot Death, either. What she shot was one of the fire sprinkler heads on the ceiling. Fun fact she’d learned in prison: damage one of those metal heads, and the whole system goes off.
A ringing alarm hit her ears, and every fire sprinkler erupted. Lukewarm water rained down from the ceiling, bringing a mildewy smell with it. The water stung Val’s eyes a little, but it didn’t stop her from seeing a figure by the wall. Droplets bounced off and dripped down Death’s invisible body, making him seem almost like a glass statue. It actually looked pretty cool. He lifted his now visible hands, his eyeballs staring at them.
He lunged, and Val realized the original gun he’d dropped was right by him. She pulled the trigger again.
Her aim was off. Must have been the water in her eyes. The bullet only grazed Death’s thigh, but the moment it did, he snapped back into complete visibility with a cry. And now there was a wet, naked, incredibly well-built man lying on the floor.
He snatched up the gun and pointed it—at her.
Val aimed at him but heard a shot before she pulled the trigger. It felt like someone had pinched her side. No time to think about that. She fired, and this time she hit him in the shoulder. He dropped the gun, screaming. The pinch in Val’s side turned into a throbbing burn. She looked down and saw that her wet belly shirt was now showing off an open wound, red blood slick and shiny on her skin.
She pressed her hand against the wound, the pain getting worse with every beat of her heart. It was okay, she told herself. It hurt like hell but was off to the side of her midsection over her hip. Probably hadn’t hit anything vital.
There was a lot of shouting, suddenly. Most of it was coming from Agent Lee. She was on top of Death, pulling his arms roughly behind his back as she handcuffed him. Mission accomplished. Hooray.
Dave was on his feet again. The falling water ran down the angles of his face and had soaked his suit. It really wasn’t fair, though; the white material should be a lot more see-through when wet than it actually was.
His lips parted as he stared at her abdomen with wide eyes. “Stay calm. You’re going to be fine.” He seized the nearest office chair and rolled it up to her. “Here. Take it slow.” He took her free hand and helped ease her down. His hand was softer than she expected. Then again, it must be hard for someone with unbreakable skin to get calluses. “Has anyone called an ambulance?” he called over his shoulder. He turned back to her so fast that he must have gotten whiplash, gaze searching her up and down. “We’ll get you to a hospital right away. Just stay calm.”
“I am calm,” she said. Calmer than him, anyway.
His gaze was drawn back to her wound. “Let me get something to staunch the blood flow.”
“Take off your shirt,” she advised.
“You’ve got some blood-staunching fabric right there. Take it off.”
“I’m sure I can find something—”
“Do you want me to bleed to death? Every second counts.”
The door to the stairwell burst open, and Lightblade charged in, glowing blades in hand. The Illusionist was right behind him. Killjoys.
Lightblade spotted Death, alive and in custody, and his face darkened.
“Everybody okay?” the Illusionist asked.
Dave and Agent Lee stared at Lightblade. The photographer hadn’t gotten the chance to say exactly what she and Finch had found, but a certain someone’s name had come up. Dave looked back at the photographer. Val followed his gaze to see her backing away from Seattle’s superhero as if she was afraid he was going to start shooting next.
Lightblade wasn’t dense. He caught the looks directed at him and dashed back down the stairs.
“Mitch?” The Illusionist turned and stared after him.
“Wait for the ambulance,” Dave told Val. Then he sprinted for the stairs.
Val kept her hand pressed to her warm, slippery side. So White Knight and Lightblade were finally going to fight, and she wouldn’t even get to see it. That was just plain unfair.
Val has her priorities in order. 😉 And the day job has tired me out too much to write anything witty here, so I’ll see you guys next Monday.