Here's the third installment of hopefully five installments to this little adventure. Just remember: Chuck doesn't hit girls, so it comes down to some fisticuffs or something, he's at a distinct disadvantage.
At some point, he stopped hearing the click-clack of Sarah’s boots. He’d gotten away.
Even so, every stride made him remember that she’d hit him in the chest, and he was growing out of breath. The initial blow had winded him, and if he didn’t run miles every morning, he’d be in trouble now, but thankfully, he did and he wasn’t. His course took him along the water’s edge, where the very air itself seemed to carry a faint patina of rust, and the world reeked of sewage. By summer, it would smell beyond terrible. Right now, in mid-spring, it was only completely disgusting.
He slowed a little now that he’d lost Sarah. He needed to confer with Tanya, see if she’d picked up a better reading, but for now, it was best to put as much distance between himself and the CIA as he possibly could. Sarah might have brought a friend this time, after all. But he still couldn’t resist muttering, “Should’ve worn better shoes, Blondie.”
And then he wondered why, why he always had to jinx himself.
Thankfully, it was the shoes that let him know she was coming. They just didn’t let him know in time.
He jogged along the street by the water, trying to get his breath back even as he moved forward, which was impossible, he knew, but he was still trying. Sarah was long gone, so he tucked the tranq gun away. To his right, the docks rose out above the water, creating little rusty, dirty grottos underneath, and to his left, the warehouses that more likely served as bases for the drug-dealers and gangs loomed ominously. Even with a lifetime of training from both parents, this neighborhood made him nervous. He slowed a little, to keep a better look-out…and Sarah barreled out of an alley, right at him.
He had just a quick flash of bright red to let him know she was coming, and then she had him by the arm and was trying to spin him. He felt gravity grab hold, and did the only thing he could: he shoved his knee between her calves, grabbed something that felt like skin (hopefully her arm) and hauled.
They went down in a tumble of grunts and curses.
He hit the ground awkwardly thanks to his backpack, but it thankfully didn’t knock any more of the oxygen out of his system. In fact, it absorbed most of the impact, allowing him to push himself to his feet and start running again.
He got two feet before he skidded—literally, as the ground was muddy—to a stop at the edge of the water.
Frak! Sarah had really picked the perfect jump-site: the underbelly of the dock, a gross, rust-eaten equipment shed blocking him in on his right, an overflowing dumpster to his left, the water at his back, and Agent Walker standing like a dragon at the gates between him and freedom.
Perfect. Treed by the same CIA agent twice. His family was going to dine out on this for a month.
Chuck edged forward half a step, hesitantly. Thanks to the knee he’d taken to the chest, he’d learned a healthy dose of respect for the length of Sarah’s legs in the past few minutes, hooker dress or no. “Guess Sarah Walker always gets her man, huh?” he asked.
Sarah gave him a flat look. Like him, she was tensed, wary, and there was a streak of mud down her left side from their landing. And inexplicably, not a single hair was out of place. She looked like a pissed off avenging angel…from the wrong side of the tracks. “I should shoot you,” she said, though her gun had disappeared. Where to, he had no idea, as the dress didn’t exactly leave many options. “In fact, I think I will.”
“Aw, what for?”
“Making me run in heels, jackass.”
Even as Chuck put his hand over his heart, feigning a wounded soul, he eyed the opening on either side of Sarah. “That’s a bit harsh. I mean, it wasn’t like you had to chase me.”
“I mean, when you get down to the bare bones of it all, aren’t we responsible for our own choices and destiny?” Chuck began to ease to the left. If he could convince Sarah to attack, he might be able to reverse their positions, giving him a chance to rabbit again. It wasn’t likely she’d be able to use a shortcut twice, after all.
Sarah rolled her eyes. “How very existential of you.”
“What, you think differently?”
“Never gave it much thought.” Sarah edged left, too, putting them at an angle. “Seriously, whatever your name is, what are you doing here?”
Chuck’s grin could light entire rooms. “A hooker chased me.”
“Shut up. What are you doing here?”
“I don’t think I—”
Sarah lunged across the space, her right hand chopping down toward the point where his shoulder met his neck. Automatically, he tossed up a block, sweeping her arm out of the way. She aimed her other arm in a jab at his midsection. He slammed his other hand down to block that, and nearly swore when Sarah wrapped her fingers of her right hand around the back of his neck and followed it immediately with her knee, intending to repeat her earlier move. This time, however, he stepped in, trapping her leg against him.
For a tense, humming ten seconds, they were stuck just like that, struggling against each other.
Until Chuck couldn’t stop the grin. “Well, gee, sweetheart,” he drawled, “if you wanted to dance, you could have just said so.”
“God, what, do you get your vocabulary completely from Bogart movies or something?”
“Nope,” Chuck said, and threw Sarah.
There really wasn’t a more elegant way to put it. He pushed his free hand against her hip and shoved. The hand that had previously been around his neck turned into a claw, scrabbling across his shoulder (and leaving gouges). She grabbed his backpack strap. Chuck felt the world tilt and thought, Not again.
They landed in the mud once more.
Chuck slammed down hard across the backpack, despite years of being taught how to fall. Instinctively, he rolled into a crouch, taking up a runner’s stance to sprint off. Sarah grabbed the backpack yet again and the instincts of growing up nerdy kicked in. After all, every nerd knew what to do when having the backpack grabbed by the bully: abandon the backpack. He got two running steps before he remembered that this particular backpack held more than lunch money.
Sarah leapt to her feet, giving him a nice flash of underwear. She tossed the backpack to the side and despite the fact that he’d landed on it several times in the past few minutes alone, Chuck winced at the thud it made. But that hardly mattered because Sarah was giving him a strange look.
“Don’t tell me you’re giving up already.”
“You’ve already said you should shoot me for making you run in heels. I’m just being polite.” Though he didn’t think she actually would shoot him. Her strikes had been meant to disable, not to harm. Sarah Walker wanted him taken in alive.
“Polite?” Sarah laughed, and there was almost humor in the noise. There was just enough space between them for relative safety, even if they were both breathing hard and there wasn’t any traction for footwork at all. But each both moved in place, testing the other. “Wouldn’t have guessed.”
“Now you’ve actually wounded me. Years of etiquette lessons, gone.”
“Uh-huh.” Sarah began moving to the right. Toward the water, Chuck saw. Strategically, it was an interesting move, as she was technically boxing herself in between the shed and the water. If he wasn’t going to run—and by now, he obviously wasn’t going to—it would make him the aggressor.
If he could actually hit a girl, it would be really dangerous for her. And frak it all, she knew he wouldn’t hit her.
Damn it to hell and back. He really should abandon the backpack, but if the NSA or CIA got their hands on some of his technology…well, it would take them awhile to crack it, giving him ample opportunity to go back in and steal it back, but even so, leaving it just felt sloppy.
“But since that particular image is shattered anyway,” he said, keeping up a huge grin as a mask despite the fact that he was muddy and sweaty and his breath was labored, “I just have to say this: nice undies, Agent Walker. I especially like the little hearts.”
“Don’t be a jerk.”
“No, I mean that. They’re classy. Is that pattern Agency-approved?” Chuck inched another step closer to where the backpack lay in front of the door of the shed. It would be a risky move to grab it, as it would leave his front open to Sarah’s attack, but he’d have to go for it anyway. He didn’t have much of a choice. “I would’ve thought the CIA’s pattern would be stars, or is that considered too morbid?”
“Are you always this annoying or do you work extra-hard at it just for me?”
“What can I say? You’re special to me.”
“Oh, I highly doubt that. I bet you have a girl in every port just wai—hey!”
Chuck made his lunge for the bag. As he did so, left hand outstretched to grab the handle so that he could pivot and sprint, Tanya beeped.
What the hell?
Tanya was only supposed to beep when—
He didn’t see the kick coming. He only felt the world explode from the top of his head, and he was literally inside one of the bells at the top of Notre Dame as it pealed over Paris. He stumbled back, fumbling for his balance on the slippery ground.
Sarah showed no mercy. She stepped out of her first kick and drove her opposite knee right into his solar plexus.
Both hits were enough to land him flat on his ass.
Sarah’s foot came at the side of his head, hurtling far too fast. Instinct took over; Chuck dropped, arms spread out, and twisted in place despite the filth on the ground. He levered up on one elbow and delivered a snap-kick that hit the still-off-balance Sarah Walker right on the ass.
It was her turn to stumble, but Chuck didn’t wait around to see. He needed that backpack, and then he needed to figure out why Tanya was beeping. The latter, he could do once he’d shaken the overly-aggressive CIA agent currently handing him his ass on a platter. So he made another leap for the backpack, grabbed it, and turned to finally get away, though how he was going to do that without any oxygen, he had no idea. Something to worry about later.
Sarah’s back-kick caught him, again, in the solar plexus.
He saw stars. And planets. Entire solar systems. Sparks, too. In fact, the entire world ceased to exist as Sarah drove the bottom of her foot, stiletto and all, right into the center of his mass. It was beyond pain, beyond agony, beyond anything that could possibly be described, except that it hurt. He screamed, and the force of the kick drove him backwards, into the shed door, through the shed door, and onto the floor, which succeeded in knocking the breath out of him again.
As he lay there with napalm across his chest, his breath gone, he stared up, helpless, at the very female form of his destructor, and prayed for mercy as she stepped across the threshold into the shed, no doubt about to knock him out.
The last thing he expected was to see her go the color of bone underneath the mud and the sweat, but she gripped the doorjamb as if she could no longer stand without its support, and looked past Chuck. “Oh, my God…Bryce…”
Who the hell was Bryce? Chuck nearly asked that aloud, but then he turned his head, and he very suddenly didn’t want to know.
So, yeah, like I said, Chuck doesn't hit girls. Explaining that to my fight coordinator was hilariously fun. “So you want me to coordinate a fight between a guy that won’t hit the girl and the girl knows this? Are you insane? He’s going to get his ass kicked!”
Sorry about any mistakes in there. I finished this and tossed it up online, and now I'm going to bed! What happens next will be very…interesting.