Part 4 and Epilogue
payne to the max chapter 4
1629 Revello Drive
6:40 PM October 31, 1997
Things had gone to Hell in a heartbeat. Apparently on the Hellmouth that was not unusual.
I had been working out in my apartment at the abandoned Address Unknown funhouse on Coney Island when I had been struck by a blinding migraine headache. I used to get them while I was recovering from my head injury, but they had not occurred anymore in the last six months. However, when I was able to shake it off in an impossibly short amount of time, I saw that I was no longer in my apartment. I was now fully dressed and standing on a suburban street, watching all Hell break loose. Little kids were running around screaming, chased by what looked like monsters, complete with glowing eyes and claws.
I was getting out of the way of a careening car on the street when I heard screaming nearby. A little girl in a cat costume was surrounded by Ewoks, who were poking her with stone-tipped spears. I could have shot them, but I had a soft spot for the furry little creatures since seeing the movie, so I restricted myself to kicking and punching them until they broke and ran away. I asked the girl what was going on, but she didn’t know much more than I did. She asked me to walk her home and I agreed - hopefully I could find an adult to explain what the Hell was going on. That’s when things got worse.
We had almost arrived at the girl’s house when we were jumped by monsters. But these were different; they are adult-sized, with glowing yellow eyes, ridged brows and fangs. I had barely enough time to draw my Desert Eagle when they were upon us.
The little girl was knocked to the ground in the struggle, and I had to use the Desert Eagle to beat the monsters back before I could fire. But that was when things got really got weird. When I shot one in the chest, it would jump back up in a moment or two, but when I shot them in the head they turned to dust instantly.
I had almost killed all of them when my White Knight showed up. I was aiming at the last creature when we were suddenly lit up with what I recognized as a gun light. Dropping the last monster, I spun and aimed at the new person when I suddenly halted myself.
Max Payne. . .
Undercover cop, avenging angel, grieving husband and father. . .
Was now sixteen years old???
After he got me and the girl into the house and his little redheaded friend explained what was going on, I began to understand the situation we were in. I didn’t want to believe it, but it was hard not to when the proof is staring back at you in the mirror.
The redhead had left and we were talking to the smarter-than-she-looked little girl when the house was suddenly under attack. Max and that Angel guy tried to reinforce the front door when someone succeeded in breaking down the kitchen door. Angel went running to try and contain the breech, but it only took a moment before the monsters got past him.
Two wolf men ran into the living room and immediately split up and attacked. Dawn, the little girl, immediately showed her guts by busting a lamp over the first wolf man’s head. The second wolf man drove at me and I was barely able to get out of the way before he crashed into the wall behind me.
I shouted “Breakthrough!” to warn Max of the intruders as I maneuvered to get a clean shot at the wolf men. I had just started firing at the wolf man closest to me when Max ran into the room and it’s like the world suddenly came to a halt, because he started to move *really* fast - so fast he actually blurred.
Just as I fired my fourth round at the wolf man, Max’s Berettas appeared in his hands and went full-automatic. Or at least it sounded that way, he was firing so fast. In the time it took for me to fire two rounds from my Desert Eagle, Max had emptied the magazines into his wolf man’s head, dropping him to the floor. Still moving in a blur, Max spun and twisted, dropping his empty pistol magazines and slamming in full ones in what looked to be one smooth motion. Once he finished spinning, Max came to a stop in front of me.
“You OK?” I blinked for a moment, trying to wrap my mind around the idea that Max had been doing a pretty good imitation of a Tasmanian Devil before I answered his question.
“I’m fine. What about you?” My own inane question didn’t even phase Max as he stood there and watched me reload my Desert Eagle.
“I’m fine,” Max answered absently as he looked at the two bodies lying at out feet slowly turning into muck. As we watched, the slime seemed to evaporate, leaving little trace on the floor. Suddenly, Max looked up and around quickly. “Where are the girls?”
Cursing up a blue streak, we looked around the living room before running into the kitchen. There we found Angel groggily picking himself up off the floor.
“Where the Hell are Buffy and Dawn!” Max demanded of Angel, who was now leaning up against the counter.
Angel shook his head, trying to clear it as he answered. “I was fighting a vampire when Buffy ran in here, screamed, and ran out the door. Dawn took off after her.” Even though he wasn’t looking at us, I got the feeling that Angel wasn’t telling us the full truth.
Apparently, Max got the same feeling as I did, as he raised a Beretta, aimed it between Angel’s suddenly wide eyes and cocked the hammer. “Is that the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” Max asked softly, the tone of his voice belied by the suddenly empty look in his dark eyes. I had seen that look on other people, just before they killed someone.
Angel must have recognized that look too, as he swallowed nervously. “It’s the truth,” he said simply. At this point, I couldn’t tell if he was withholding something or if he was just scared witless. “Buffy saw me and the vamp fighting and took off.”
Max stared at Angel for what seemed to be an eternity before he finally blinked. Lowering the Beretta, he uncocked it and held it loosely in his hand pointed at the floor. “We have to go look for the girls. For your sake, I hope we find them unharmed.” He gestured toward the door. “You first.”
Angel nodded shakily and walked out the door. Max and I followed and watched as Angel paused for a moment to take a deep breath of air. “I think they went this way,” Angel said to us over his shoulder. Max nodded and we followed him as he started to jog down the street.
6:55 PM October 31, 1997
We had been jogging along for a few minutes when Angel suddenly came to a stop in the middle of the alleyway. Max and I halted as well, staying behind the man and watched as his head turned back and forth, as though he was listening for something.
“Anything?” Max asked softly. He wasn’t overtly threatening, but the Beretta in his hand was a constant reminder to the other man of his potential.
“I thought I heard someone crying.” Angel was looking back at Max, deliberately not looking at the handgun he was holding.
“You really think Lady Buffy would run back here?” Max’s question was accompanied by the slight tightening of his hand on the Beretta; he was probably thinking Angel was leading us on a wild goose chase, or worse.
“I’m telling you, I heard something back. . .” Angel’s response was cut off by a shriek and an angry young female voice yelling “Let her go you dumb ass!”
All three of us broke into a sprint toward the sounds, coming upon Lady Buffy struggling against a hulking pirate. Dawn was busy trying to whack him over the head with a two-by-four. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the little girl; she had more courage and guts than some shooters I knew.
Angel barreled into the pirate, breaking his grip on the noblewoman and knocking her to the ground. She took one look at us, screamed again, and took off running. Dawn ran after her, yelling “God damn in it Buffy, stop running!” Angel ran after the two girls as well.
I turned to see how Max was doing, and what I saw caused a chill to go through me. Max was going hand-to-hand with the oversized pirate. . . and was winning.
Max dodged a swipe from the pirate’s cutlass and lashed out with a collapsible baton, smashing his knuckles and causing him to drop his sword. Max then swept the pirate’s knee, causing the guy to fall backward to the pavement. With one swift kick, Max broke the pirate’s jaw and knocked him out cold.
For a long moment, Max stood there breathing heavily, before he looked from the pirate to me. With a look of embarrassment, Max muttered, “For some reason, that was really satisfying.”
Alleyway, Warehouse District,
6:59 PM October 31, 1997
“For some reason, that was really satisfying.”
I couldn’t believe I had actually said that.
I had hurt and killed people before, but I had never gotten any real pleasure from it. The closest I had come was when I dropped that antenna tower on Nicole Horne’s helicopter. But that fleeting satisfaction was quickly overtaken by the familiar cold grief for my wife and daughter.
Looking down at the unconscious pirate, I could see that he was not permanently injured. But something about his face, some faint memory, made me feel that satisfaction.
Mona snorted and started walking away, going in the same direction that the two girls and Angel had run off in. I put away my baton, made sure my pistols were properly holstered, and jogged after her.
“Wait!” I reached out and grabbed her arm, causing her to halt, but her muscles were tense under her jacket, as thought she was only a heartbeat away from unloading on me. “Wait just a minute! Talk to me!”
“What do you want from me?” Mona turned and was standing in front of me, her face slightly tilted upwards as she looked into my eyes.
*The things that I want, by Max Payne,* I thought to himself.
My hand slid up from Mona’s arm to her face, cupping it slightly.
Mona’s eyes widened slightly then closed as my lips touched hers
Her hands slid under my jacket to wrap around my waist as she pressed up against me.
*For the sun to shine.*
We stumbled backwards until we hit a wall, Mona’s back against it. My tongue was in her mouth, exploring briefly before she returned the favor.
*I want to sleep, to forget.*
My hands went under Mona’s jacket, sliding it off her shoulders and letting it fall to the ground, exposing her hand cannon in shoulder leather.
*To change the past.*
Placing my hands on her waist, I lifted her up and she instinctively wrapped her legs around my waist, her lips still pressed hard against mine.
*My wife and baby girl back.*
She threw her head back, gasping as I explored her neck just below her ear, tasting her, her hips grinding against my stomach.
*Unlimited ammo and a license to kill.*
With Mona’s back braced against the wall, I slid my hands ups from her waist, pushing her shirt and bra up with it. My head dropped down and took one breast into my mouth, touching the other with my other hand, hearing her moan loudly above my head.
*Right then, more than anything, I wanted her.*
Of course, right then was when a familiar female scream pierced the night.
Alleyway, Warehouse District,
7:02 PM October 31, 1997
Max and Mona came running around the corner full-tilt, which if they had done with normal humans could have gotten them killed. As it was, it dropped them into a crowd of vampires.
Max took the scene in at a glance; Angel struggling against two vampires who were holding him, Dawn in the hands of another vamp, Red the Friendly Ghost dancing around not able to do anything, and Lady Buffy in the hands of a Billy Idol look-a-like. Some other vamps were trying to grab Max and Mona, but she lashed out with a crescent kick to the face that send teeth flying and produced the loud crack of a neck breaking, while Max grabbed the other charging vamp’s arm, spun and hurled him into Angel and his vamps, knocking them all down.
Instinctively, Mona and Max drew their weapons, their eyes flicking over toward Red. She instantly realized what they wanted and gave it to them, shouting out, “These ones you can shoot!!!”
Mona targeted the vamp holding Dawn with a head shot that instantly dusted it, then switched over to the vamps on Angel. She managed to get one shot off from her Desert Eagle before Max suddenly blurred again, his Berettas roaring as the two vamps he targeted dusted under his fusillade of fire.
Mona watched as Max spun and reloaded, dropping one empty gun before pointing the other fully loaded pistol at the suddenly scared vamp holding Lady Buffy. Just as Max was about to fire, there was a bright flash and a blinding pain that blasted through Mona’s head.
Cordelia Chase watched as Buffy Summers easily yanked herself away from Spike, her black wig falling from her head as she fell backwards. As soon as the Slayer was clear Xander Harris pulled the trigger.
The Beretta roared as ten rounds were fired in under three seconds. Five rounds hit the target before it disintegrated. The other five rounds flew through the falling dust cloud that used to be the head of William the Bloody, also known as Spike.
In the sudden silence that followed, the crunch of breaking plastic as Xander stepped on his dropped replica pistol was almost as loud as the gunfire previously. They all watched as Xander looked around carefully before he holstered the Beretta he had recovered from the dead police officer earlier that night, a satisfied look flitting across his face.
end payne to the max chapter 4
payne to the max epilogue
Sunnydale High School
3:20 PM November 1, 1997
Xander moved slowly as he walked up to the solitary girl sitting on the bench. While the other students were streaming out to the bike racks and the parking lot, one girl stayed sitting in the quad, her shoulders hunched as thought from cold, her eyes fixed on something only she could see.
Xander sat down next to her, watching the girl for a few moments and waiting for a reaction before finally speaking up. “Dollar for your thoughts?”
“I thought that was ‘A penny for your thoughts’?” Cordelia Chase replied, still looking off into the distance.
“Well, I thought with inflation, and your dislike for the inexpensive, I would have to offer more than that to get your attention.” Xander responded, watching as the dark haired girl slowly turned to look at him. He flinched internally as he saw the memories almost visibly crossing in front of her eyes, memories that were usually held only by the serious damaged of society. “How much do you remember?”
“All of it. Every time she tried to save her twin sister from herself, every contract she took, every person she killed.” The dark fire of memories were burning brighter in her eyes. “Did you know that the only way she was able to escape from Punchinello’s thugs at his house was to let them almost rape her, that she ran up to her sister’s room with their blood on her hands only to find Lisa beaten to death on her bed?”
Slowly Xander put his arm around Cordelia and pulled her against him. She began shaking against him, not making any noise as she silently wept against his shoulder. Xander held her there, not saying anything until Cordelia finally stilled and looked up at him.
“I talked to Giles about what happened last night.” Seeing her eyes widen, Xander continued speaking. “Just about the chaos magic that affected us. He said that there are two ways that this could go. First was is that you gradually lose the memories of what happened, you get to become yourself again. Buffy is already losing her language skills that she had from being Lady Buffy.”
“What is the second way?” Cordelia asked quietly. She already knew what Xander was leading up to.
“Some people, those what were heavily enspelled, or have an unusual affinity for magic, retain the skills and memories permanently.” Xander hesitated for a moment, watching how Cordelia was reacting. “Gradually, they integrate the new memories and skills and regain most of their own personality.”
“I guess we know what is going to happen to us, then.” Cordelia looked away from Xander’s face and down at their clothes. Cordy was wearing a black leather jacket and tight jeans with a red tank top, while Xander was wearing his coat from the evening before over a flannel shirt, t-shirt and blue jeans.
(“What else did you get from last night, Cordy?”) Xander asked in Italian, playing a hunch.
(“I can understand and speak a few languages, this one, Spanish, and some Russian,”) Cordelia replied in faintly accented Italian. (I am also familiar with most firearms, and am an expert in sniping, armed and unarmed close quarters combat, and have some computer hacking skills.) Cordelia paused as a sad smile crossed her face before switching back to English. “Just your normal well -rounded hired killer.”
Xander smiled back at her faintly. “How much do you remember about Max’s life?”
Cordelia’s eyes widened slightly as she thought about Max Payne, the loss of his family to V junkies, his long dark night as he was undercover for DEA, his darkest hour when the Mafia, the police, and Aesir were all after him that howling winter night.
Seeing the expression on her face, Xander nodded slightly. “Yeah, I have the memories too.” He looked off into the distance as he continued speaking. “There’s a couple of things I have to square away with you. We have to talk about what we did in that alley.”
Looking back, Xander saw Cordelia’s face flush as she began to get angry. Holding up a hand, he said “Just let me say this, then you can swing on me if you want.” Cordelia nodded, tight-lipped. “It wasn’t me who kissed you in that alley, that was all Max and Mona. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, God know I did, but it’s something I would have never done on my own. If you don’t ever want to talk about it, we won’t. It will be buried for all time. That brings up the other thing we need to talk about. What are you going to do now?” Cordelia frowned at him, not understanding the question.
Xander turned on the bench so he was fully facing Cordelia. “You have a choice now, Cordy. You can go back to being the Queen of Sunnydale High and stay out of this thing of ours.” Xander stopped speaking for a moment and he and Cordy both smiled at the phrase; ‘This Thing of Ours’ was one of the ways the Mafia referred to itself. “You bury what happened last night, you can be head cheerleader, fashion maven, leader of the Cordettes, live your life again.” Xander stopped speaking, but Cordelia realized what he was going to say.
“Or I can join you guys, fighting monsters.” Cordelia watched as Xander nodded.
“With the skills you have now, once you start training, you will be a serious asset for us. With what you and I know about the underworld now, we’ll be able to get modern weapons and take the fight to the vamps.” Xander looked down at his hands on his lap. “This is a painful, bloody war, and you have to decide on your own if you want to be a part of it. You alone have to make the choice, and it is the scariest, most gut wrenching thing you may ever decide to do. But you know what, I made that choice and I haven’t ever regretted it.”
Xander stood up and faced Cordelia. “You know where to find us. And if you ever need any help, let me know.” He smiled, the familiar lop-sided grin that was so unique to him. “May the wind always be at your back, Cordelia Chase.”
Walking toward the library, Xander didn’t hear or feel anything until a hand took hold of his arm, bringing him to a halt. Turning to see Cordelia beside him, he raised an eyebrow in question. She gave a short nod and simply said, “I’ve made my choice.”
To his surprise, he felt her arm slide under his jacket and around his waist. With Cordelia leaning against Xander, they walked toward the library, no more words needing to be said.
end payne to the max epilogue