Gonna Raise Hell at the Union Ball
"Oh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh, yeah, I'm gonna fade away.
-The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelterpart one: martin
I hate Beirut. I hate the people, the heat, the smell, and the bombs. Especially the bombs. I really hate the bombs. There have been three large blasts in the forty-eight hours I've been here, and four or five smaller ones. This is the last time that I let Marcella book a job without checking the location first. I've been out of the Army for nearly four years now - the last thing I wanted to do was to head directly into a war zone. I'd almost have preferred to go back to Grosse Point.
So here I am in fucking Lebanon, hiding in a bombed-out shell of a house that wouldn't be considered as cover by anyone short of desperate - which I most definitely am.
The mark was a local faction leader, one of the really nasty ones, a knee-jerk right-wing radical with access to a shit ton of explosives; enough to turn Lebanon's simmering civil war into an outright volcano. Fortunately for everyone in this miserable city, he also had a raging case of paranoia and didn't tell anyone else where he'd put his toys - which meant that when I put a silenced 5.56 mm round through his left eye and blew his brains out the back of his head, the Semtex's location went with them.
It was a beautiful shot.
The insane, unwashed terrorist who saw me climbing down out of the nest was not so beautiful, especially as he managed to get off three rounds before I killed him. That brought every other insane, unwashed terrorist in the vicinity down on my head; hence the mild case of desperate I've suddenly come down with.
Grocer's in town and if I can get in touch with him, he'll get me out, but that's a big 'if,' especially if I don't get out of this neighborhood.
I've been waiting for full dark, because as risky as Beirut is at night, being seen would get me nothing but a bad case of the deads. I'm fairly sure that every last one of that crazy bastard's goons are combing the streets for me right now. I saw a pair of them go by less than half an hour ago, but they aren't too well organized at the moment. With a little luck, I can get through to Grocer before that changes.
The door to the house I'm in slams open and I forget about luck, because luck is out of the picture now and it's down to bullets. Except the intruder isn't one of the local boys, isn't local at all. He belongs here even less than I do.
There's nothing about him that suggests any kind of agency affiliation, and if he's lone wolfing it like I am, he's certainly not dressed for it. His hair is bleached platinum-blond, and the leather duster he's got on might work in a movie, but in real life it would get in the way. Even in America he'd stand out a mile; in Lebanon, he's almost otherworldly. He's also the first person I've seen since I got here who isn't visibly armed. All that means, though, is that I won't shoot him on the spot.
I flip off the safety of the M-16 I'm still carrying. "Hands up," I suggest. He flicks me a bored glance, despite the fact that he hadn't previously looked my way. If he's surprised by my presence, he's hiding it well.
"Put it away, mate," he advises. His accent is pure North London, and his voice is amused. Something tells me it's not a bluff, and although I've seen my share of bizarre since leaving Michigan, I've never seen anyone untroubled by the thought of automatic weaponry aimed their way.
***Author's Notes: This came about due to the combination four cross-country flights in one week, the Vicodin I've been taking for a back injury, and three sleepless nights. It's unbeta'd, which means that all errors are my own.
Anything you recognize does not belong to me, and I am not profiting from this in any way. Spike et al belong to the great Joss Whedon; Martin Blank et al belong to Hollywood Pictures.
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