Disclaimer: The Equalizer and all its characters are property of Universal and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

Time Present: Time Past: Time Future II

Scott pushed his guitar away. It was no use. He knew he needed to go over the new piece that he had written again. The arrangement for the band had been going great earlier in the day and he knew that it was going to be the best thing they ever played. It might even be the big hit that they all dreamed of.

But he couldn’t work on it anymore. The uneasiness was bad tonight. Real bad

Five weeks ago, ever since his first kill at the embassy and the double kill that night (He inhaled deeply at the thrill that ran through him at the memory of that blood soaked street.) he had been better at everything. His guitar playing was better, his violin teacher told him that he had finally developed the courage to tap into the powerful emotions that were buried deep within him, and his composing had become first rate. In fact, almost everything about his art and his life had never been better.

Scott almost laughed out loud. It's amazing how much killing three men can do for your creativity. But tonight, frustration had built to a painful need. He had felt this sensation flowing in him since that Killing Night. He had a need, a desire, to do IT again. He wanted the excitement, the rush, the thrill of the hunt – and of the kill.

In the weeks after the “unfortunate occurrence,” as his dad insisted on calling his killing of the Bulgarian, he had been on a high. Every night, his dreams were wonders of violence and saturated with the smell of blood. And his waking thoughts were never far away from the scene on the street later that night, of seeing his own two fresh kills lying in a heap at his feet.

He had suffered with almost no regrets those first two weeks. His dad kept telling him that he was going through an emotionally horrendous time, and Scott had tried to think of the death of the Bulgarian in his father’s terms. But the memory of Yurgi’s death and the two unknown junkies on the street didn’t feel like horrible occurrences. He didn’t respond to the killing the way his dad had expected.

Twice, his dad had brought Mickey along on his “concerned father” talks. He had caught Mickey staring right at him with a look, not of concern, but of recognition and Scott knew that Mickey had sensed that he wasn’t suffering from guilt.

Scott paced the length of the living room, feeling his blood sing in him. He had fought this bloodlust during the weeks afterward by recalling every detail of the killings in his mind. He had pictured every moment, visualizing them over and over. He had wallowed in how he felt at the instant of the men’s death. It was a sweet memory. A powerful entertainment.

At first, as a response to his acts of violence, he had become enamored of knives. He learned about them from a dozen “Solider of Fortune” magazines that he bought. But he never purchased any in the same store twice, which might leave a trail. Deep in the back of his mind he knew that he was planning something but he didn’t want to push those darkest thoughts.

He had begun to frequent flea markets and street fairs, finding the tables run by bikers and ex-military men, and he began to buy the odd blade. They were not the best, but Scott had no love for the knives themselves but for what they could do. The power that each held inside; the energy of the promised moment of violence.

That phase had lasted two weeks. Then Debbie, that substantial dark Amazon, had gotten back from her trip and he had spent some hedonistic nights working that woman for all she was worth. He had let out every furious, raging urge on her willing pliant flesh. But even that was souring now.

Debbie, who had always been such a tough and formidable sexual combatant, was now getting too damn kittenish with him. After only a few sessions of him mastering her, she had turned into a sweet docile female and was starting to act subordinate, willing to do whatever he wanted – no matter how outrageous – without a whimper.

Scott was bored with timid willing women. He had brushed off Debbie’s phone calls for the last week, making a point of being rude to her and showing that he had used her as a lay without any feelings for her as a woman. The last time he spoke to her, he could hear that Debbie's voice was finally changing back to her angry bark. Scott knew that by next week Debbie would once again be a spitfire, made up of equal parts fury and desire.

But he was ready for something right now. He needed some outlet for this overwhelming need tonight.

He took out the videos he had bought in the back rooms of 42nd Street sex shops. They were supposed to be real snuff films but Scott had his doubts, although he certainly had himself a hell of a time after he had first bought them. Their unremitting level of violence was just what he hungered for. Hell, for over a week, he hadn’t had his hands off himself longer than it took for his foreskin to dry after each wash-up!

But now, the videos bored him. Scott could see that the films were fake and anyway, most of them involved killing woman, and Scott had no taste for that. He didn’t even bother slipping the films into the VCR; they weren’t what he wanted anymore.

Scott finally had to admit to what he really needed.

Almost without thinking, he walked into his bedroom and pulled on his oldest jeans. He put on a plain white tee shirt and slipped a gray sweatshirt on top.

His breath was fast and shallow, and his mouth was dry, when he went to the hidden drawer in the desk that held his knife collection.

One by one he went through his beauties until he found the one that called out loudest its hopes for a successful hunt and kill. He locked the secret drawer and took the knife to his kitchen. Spreading newspapers over the table, he spent an hour caressing it, fantasizing over it, oiling it and then wiping it free of fingerprints. He practiced slipping the blade into and out of the cheap plastic sheath he had bought for the occasion of his first hunt.

Scott checked the time. It was eleven o’clock, just about the time he set out on his satisfying journey five weeks ago . He knew he needed to get a feel for the place he had chosen to prowl. It was an area about a mile from his apartment in Manhattan, a neighborhood filled with successful well-to-do people, but the avenue that boarded it had on its other side, a rough and lower type of street life. Scott had walked that avenue a few times earlier in the evenings, visualizing about how it would be, hunting there for human vermin in the dead of the early morning hours.

Before he left, Scott took one last look around his apartment. He took note of the time, and he switched the telephone’s answering machine on. Then he could tell anyone who called that he must have been showering when the phone rang, and had forgotten to call them back because he went to bed early. Yeah, that sounded right.

Wearing a pair of the thin disposable gloves that he had bought from a large pharmacy chain in the neighborhood, Scott unsheathed his knife, his chosen one, and examined it for the last time. He would dispose of it after the deed was done. He knew that he had to make the effort to remember every exquisite detail of the night, for he would have no physical mementos to examine. Collecting souvenirs would be foolish and a way for him to be caught.

And foolish was one thing that a man with three kills under his belt, and who was Robert McCall’s son, was not.

Scott made sure the hallway was deserted before he walked out of his apartment and silently locked his door. He left his building and headed – on foot – out to the place where he knew that he would get what he desired – the smell of the blood of another fresh kill.

He could hardly wait.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Mickey shifted in his seat again. He had been sitting in the van outside Susan Wilhite’s building for the last five hours and he was feeling antsy. Why the hell did McCall have him watching this pain in the ass? The woman had told McCall in no uncertain terms, that she didn’t want his help. yes">  Her sister had been even worse. She had been some hotshot lawyer in the Army and had been a real bitch when McCall had mentioned Mickey’s time in Leavenworth.

And that was really strange; McCall had never mentioned his prison record to anyone outside the Company before, at least not in Mickey’s hearing. Mickey was still puzzled why he had told Linda Wilhite about that. It certainly hadn’t increased her confidence about McCall helping her sister.

Shit! He hated sitting around doing nothing. The lights in Susan Wilhite’s apartment had gone off two hours earlier and she was probably in bed, just like he should be. Mickey smiled to himself, Simone had called and left a message on his machine to say that she was back in town and would just love to see him.

See him? Yeah right, Mickey couldn’t help but chuckle, the redhead never wanted just to see him. They usually fucked each other into unconsciousness too.

Thinking of the games that she liked to play, Mickey felt himself growing hard. “Jesus!” he groaned out loud, “I hate McCall.”

He usually saw Simone about once a month, if their schedules coincided. The last time they had made a date he hadn’t been able to get over to her apartment until late and he had knocked on her door at nearly midnight. As an apology, he had brought a good bottle of white wine. When she eventually had answered his insistent knocking, she had peered round the door, keeping her body behind it. Seeing Mickey standing there she had leapt into his arms stark naked!

After a very long kiss hello she had dragged him into her apartment and then into the bedroom where, lying on top of the satin sheets, there was another woman, this one a tall, well-stacked, very naked, very natural blonde. Mickey felt like he had gone to heaven.

“Mickey, I want you to meet Ulrike, she works with me.”

He started to feel a little embarrassed at busting in on Simone’s party. “Listen, Simone, I’m sorry I got here so late, I didn’t realize you’d have other company. I can go if you want.”

Simone had brushed a finger over his lips before she replied with a small smile. “No, Mickey, we’ve been expecting you. We don’t want you to go.” She took the chilled bottle from him. “You go and be nice to Ulrike while I get some glasses for this.”

Then she had kissed him deep and wet, thrusting her tongue so far down his throat he thought he might gag before she pulled her head back and went into the kitchen.

He looked back and saw that Ulrike had already risen from the bed and was stalking him. She must have been at least a D cup and had legs that went on forever. As she stalked toward him, she had a look on her face like she was one hungry kitten and he was a dish of warm cream. That’s when Mickey knew absolutely that he had gone to heaven.

As soon as she got close enough, the blond started to pull off his clothing, commenting as she did, "Simone has told me so much about you Mickey, I can't wait to get to know you better." She had a thick German accent that made everything she said even more exotic. Surprised to find that his mouth was filled with saliva, he had to remind himself to swallow.

When he was completely undressed she went over to the bedside table, took a condom from a drawer, returning to push him down onto a leather recliner chair. The leather felt cool and sticky against the skin on his butt and thighs and he found that it protested his every move by making slightly obscene sucking sounds.

She straddled his legs, bending forward to kiss him for the first time and as she did so, her tits brushed against his cock making him harder than he had thought possible. She slid the raincoat on him and, repositioning her long tanned legs, she turned away. Before she sat, she waved her exposed peach shaped butt right in front of his face and then she spread her legs wide and started to lower herself down on his lap. He held her hips and guided her down onto his rock hard boner and was soon engulfed in one of the wettest and hottest women he had ever enjoyed.

As she began to squirm and pump against him the smell of musk began to permeate his head and his pleasure started to build. He took his hands from her hips and started squeezing and fondling her heavy breasts.

Ulrike was moaning loudly when Simone came back into the room carrying three glasses and the opened bottle. Pouring herself some wine Simone sipped it slowly, licking her lips after every sip, apparently savoring the taste. Her movements caught his eye. Mickey saw her smile at him and, when she seemed satisfied that he was watching, she dipped her finger in the glass.

Combined with the delights of Ulrike’s frenzied moans and movements, he almost lost it when Simone traced patterns around and over her rosy, erect nipples with her wet finger. And when she started a trail to her reddish-copper pubic hair and lightly explored herself, stopping to lick her finger from time to time, Mickey was almost pushed over the edge and had to close his eyes to the sights and sounds and pleasures of the room and think of baseball for a minute.

When he had gone down a notch or two, and he thought it was safe, he opened his eyes again. Simone was lying on her side on the bed still staring at him with her own hand in between her legs stroking away madly.

Ulrike must have seen her too because in response, the blonde moved faster, jigging herself on him, her ass slapping against him rhythmically.

Amazed that he could be even more turned on by being watched, he had an idea. He opened his legs wider, pushing Ulrike’s knees far apart and laid one arm across her upper body, cupped her breast and pulled her back against his chest. Simone watched as he held a writhing Ulrike immobile and slid his other hand slowly over her stomach and downward until he reached her mons. Ulrike started to mewl and shake her head with frustration as he held her still. Then, making sure Simone was watching, he spread her labia wide open, so that her engorged and twitching clitoris was clearly visible to the other woman.

Simone threw down her glass and in less than a second, was on her knees in front of them her head wedged all the way up in-between Ulrike’s legs. The blonde came almost immediately, making short high-pitched screams, her vagina clenching and spasming around him.

Somehow, he held back from coming, and before he knew what was happening Simone pushed Ulrike out of the way and positioned herself to slip onto his condom sheathed cock.

Ulrike was still moaning loudly on the floor as Simone easily engulfed every inch of his shaft. Then she began to work him, riding him harder and harder, digging her nails into his flesh, making him groan with mind bending pleasure, until they both came, roaring with a powerful orgasm.

Things got very hazy after that. yes">  They had all moved over to the bed and Mickey remembered finishing the first bottle of wine. They drank a second and a third during the night, taking turns sucking on the bottles before turning back to each other.

They had spent the next hours changing positions and partners until they were all exhausted. When he woke the next morning with both women twined around him, Mickey’s tongue hurt and he was sure his cock was waving a surrender flag.

Mickey smiled again to himself at the memory and adjusted his jeans. God yes, that had been one hell of a night! And there would be no chance of a repeat tonight while he was on stakeout for McCall. Dammit!

Hardly moving anything but his eyes to the mirrors of the van, Mickey checked the streets around him again. As expected, they were pretty much deserted this late. The good citizens of the area were safely sleeping behind locked doors, while the lowlifes from the other side of the avenue were still up and doing whatever they did to get money. Mickey had no fear that they would bother him. He had an Uzi available and his automatic was tucked under his thigh for quick access.

Maybe he could call McCall and tell him he was going home, nothing was going to happen tonight.

Suddenly a person dressed in dark clothes, making the way along the other side of the street, took his attention. The figure was moving slowly and staying out of the light from the street lamps. Sinking down into his seat, Mickey watched as the figure drew closer. The person looked somewhat familiar and for a moment when he saw a flash of blond hair, he wondered if it might be Linda Wilhite checking up on her little sister. As the figure got closer he realized it was too tall and too powerfully built for the beanpole older Wilhite sister.

The suspect was nearing a street lamp and Mickey waited patiently for his first clear view. The way the guy was moving screamed that he was up to something illegal and in this area that wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

The figure flickered through the patch of light and Mickey almost shot upright in surprise. What the?? Shit! It was Scott McCall! What was the kid doing here at two in the morning?

Hearing sirens in the distance, Mickey could see that he was clearly spooked about something. When more sirens sounded closer to their position, the kid started to move double time from one area of darkness to another.

Slipping silently out of the driver’s door, Mickey moved to the rear of the van, then shot out across the street. Moving up behind him, he grabbed Scott and pushed him over against the wall of the building.

The kid didn’t recognize him at first, that much was clear to Mickey. He took a blind swing. For a fleeting moment he wondered if the younger McCall was on drugs; he was certainly jumpy enough. Controlling him, Mickey pushed his face against the wall and held him there until he could make himself be understood. Mickey spoke quietly and calmly close to Scott’s ear, “Take it easy kid, it’s me, Mickey.”

After a few confused seconds, the kid replied, “Mickey?”

Mickey continued to hold Scott tightly against the brick wall, “Yeah, it’s me.”

Frantically Scott tried to turn and face him. “What are you doing here?”

He began to loosen the hold he had on the kid then, “I could ask you the same question.”

Scott looked around nervously, “Is that your van? Could we go and sit in there off the street?” he whispered.

“Okay, but you’re going to tell me what you are doing out here at two AM.” He pointed the young man toward the car and pushed him on his way.

Once they were in the van, he turned to face Scott. “So spill it.”

The kid took a long time before he answered. Too long, Mickey thought, for it to be the truth.

Scott bit his lip and then nodded to himself. “Well, you know I've been having a hard time of it since the thing at the embassy, I haven’t been able to sleep too well. So, when it gets really bad, I go for a walk.”

Mickey didn’t reply at once, he just stared at the kid and, like he wanted, Scott soon got nervous and began shuffling in his seat. “Don’t lie to me kid, you don’t just go for a walk around here at night. You know the city as well as I do.” Scott kept his face pointing away, refusing to meet Mickey’s eye, and that was beginning to annoy him. “There’s something going on here, I know it. And you’re going to tell me even if I have to beat it out of you.”

Scott turned back to him quickly, for an instant his gaze was unguarded and Mickey saw a recognizable light burning deep down inside him.

It was the look of a predator.

He wanted to get a good look at the kid, so Mickey flashed the light inside the van on and off for an instant. yes">  He wasn’t surprised when he saw the bruises and bloody nose. He thought he had seen something before they got into the van. “Okay Scott, I’ll drive you home, to get you off the street. But I’ve got to call in Jimmy to bring his van up to cover the surveillance first.”

He handed Scott a paper napkin. “Suppose you get yourself together. Wipe your nose.” He picked up the car phone and started to dial. “And when we get to your apartment,” his voice started to take on an edge, “you’d better be ready to tell me just what the fuck’s going on, or so help me, I’ll rip that nose the hell off your face.”

~~~~~~~~~~~

Scott stood in front of his apartment door, making a show of trembling hands as he tried to fit his key into the lock. Mickey was to his left, his back against the wall staring at him silently, pretty much the way he had been examining him ever since they drove off in the van.

Scott couldn’t believe his crappy luck. If he had made plans to meet Mickey in the city, they never would have found each other. But after the joke that his first hunt turned out to be, Scott was able to believe just about any bad luck would find its way to him tonight

The door finally opened and he walked into his apartment and left Mickey to follow and close the door.

He prayed that Mickey believed the story he made up quickly when he tried to think of a reason, any reason, for him to be walking the streets of Manhattan at two AM.

Scott sniffed loudly and touched his running nose. “I’m just going to the bathroom to clean up,” he said as he switched on the overhead lights. He was hoping to give himself a few more minutes to go over his story. “Help yourself to anything in the fridge.”

Before Scott had taken a breath Mickey was on him, spinning him around until his face was pressed against the wall.

“No more time,” Mickey growled, “Start talking.”

Scott tried for a high-pitched wimpy voice. “Ouch that hurts!”

Pain shot through Scott as his battered nose and mouth were banged against the wall. He saw that the bleeding had restarted and a trail of blood smeared on his white wall.

“Talk kid,” Mickey whispered, “I want the truth now!”

“I told you, I told the truth! Mickey please, please,” he whined, knowing that he sounded like the old weak Scott. “I go walking at night ‘cause I have dreams. Bad, bad dreams,” he whimpered, “and I can’t stay inside at night. I can’t breathe.”

Scott felt Mickey’s conviction weaken. Good, just as he hoped. He had included enough of the truth for his story to resonate in Mickey. Scott kept his face averted as Mickey began to let go of him.

Scott wiped his face with his hands and stared at the blood on his hands.

“Can I go to the bathroom now?” he asked, shaking his bloody hand at Mickey. “I’ve got to go!” Scott couldn’t help but look longingly towards the door of the bathroom. He had to get that closed door between them. He still had his knife on him and the unused rubber gloves were bunched up in his pocket. If Mickey found them, he’d be in as much hot water as if the cops found them.

Mickey spun Scott around to face him, seething with anger. “No boy, you’re going to tell me the truth – now!”

It was no use, Scott thought to himself. He had to give up, he felt like a bug pinned to a mat. He felt like the old useless loser. But suddenly the thought came to him, I’m not that kid anymore. And finally he believed it.

Scott saw red as the frustration of the evening spilled over him. He shifted his weight while making a fast turn and aimed his elbow at Mickey’s nose, meaning to smash it. But somehow Mickey was too fast for him. Scott felt himself spun away from the wall, his feet became jumbled and he tripped. Scott slammed onto the floor and the wind was pushed out of his lungs. In a blur Mickey jumped on top of him, pining him down before Scott could register what had happened.

Suddenly Scott heard his downstairs neighbor, Mister Moretti, shout out, “What the hell is going on up there! Shut up dammit or so help me I'm calling the freaking cops! Decent people got to sleep at three o’clock in the goddamn morning.”

Mickey pressed his face to Scott’s, and raged at him “You want to keep fighting me shit-head? Huh? You want the…” Mickey’s eyes were slits and he bared his teeth, “cops to show up here?”

Scott felt his eyes go wide with fear. If the cops showed up they'd find the knife in his pocket and then his dad would become involved. His dad would search the apartment his dad would find out everything because his dad always knew everything.

Scott felt sweat pour off his body and he made himself go limp. “No, No! Sorry Mickey I didn’t mean it. I didn’t. I’m just at the end of my rope.” Scott tried to manage to get his eyes to tear up. “I can’t get the picture of Yurgi dying out of my head. Every time I close my eyes he’s there.”

That was true, every time he closed his eyes he would conjure up that look that Yurgi had on his face, the look of surprise that wimpy Scott McCall truly had the balls to kill him. And then he would remember the look that soon replaced it. The look of a man dying. Those were the things Scott loved to see just before he fell into vibrant and very satisfyingly blood filled dreams.

Mickey sighed, gave in and stood, lifting him up. Mickey pushed hard and Scott felt himself sail through the air and land on the couch.

Vibrating with energy, Mickey stood over Scott. He looked down at him and frowned. “Tell me about the dreams.”

Scott began to tell Mickey the story that he had thought up as a cover. He cried and sobbed at the horror that he had been going through ever since he had taken the Bulgarian’s life. He pleaded, and he begged Mickey not to tell his dad, not to let on to anyone that he was suffering so badly.

He told Mickey that he was just walking tonight, like so many other nights, when a guy tried to mug him. His nose had been hit before Scott had been able to run away. That’s why he was bleeding and why he was so jumpy. Scott sobbed that had been badly frightened and was barely able to get away without being hurt.

He promised Mickey that he would never, ever go out at night alone again.

After what Scott thought was the best performance of his life, he looked at the floor sadly. “Can I go to the bathroom now? Please. Mickey?” Scott sniffed his nose and swiped at it with his hand.

Mickey scratched his head and turned his back to Scott, “Yeah kid, go ahead.”

The minute Scott got inside he closed the door and hid his the knife among the used towels in the hamper. He stuck the rubber gloves back in the box with the other unused ones.

He made a point of urinating noisily – and this wouldn’t surprise him one bit – in case Mickey was listening at the door. Scott washed and sat down on the toilet to dab an antibiotic ointment on the cuts on his face. He wiggled his nose a few times. It wasn’t broken, just bleeding.

As he sat with toilet paper stuffed up his nostrils Scott flashed on the fiasco that actually happened earlier that night.

He had walked the streets – cool and calm – the perfect hunter. It had been just before two AM when he saw a woman get out of a cab and hurry toward a large apartment house entrance. Scott could hardly believe it when a man jumped out of the shadows and landed on top of the woman. Without thinking, just reacting to the situation, Scott had run over, grabbed the guy and punched him.

The mugger must have been on speed, because Scott’s punch didn’t seem to even faze him, and he knuckled Scott a hard one to the nose. Scott hadn’t felt the blow and was just about to slam dunk the guy into the gutter, when the woman's shoved a pepper spray canister into the scum sucker’s face and let loose the spray.

The guy screamed so loudly Scott thought he must have been heard in the Bronx. Smiling victoriously above the writhing man on the pavement, the small woman had thanked Scott and wanted to reward him for his bravery.

All he wanted to do was get the hell out of there. People were shouting out the windows that the cops were coming. And with a six-inch blade in his jacket rubber gloves in his jeans and no reasonable explanation for being on the street, he knew that the cops wouldn’t thank him for his stellar citizenship. So he had gotten his butt away from there as fast as he could – and right into the waiting arms of Mickey Kostmayer, his daddy’s Boy Wonder.

Scott was jump-started out of his memories when Mickey started to pound and push on the bathroom door.

“Come out now kid, I want to talk to you.”

Scott winced as he pulled a bloody wad of tissue out of his nose and replaced it with a fresh crush of paper. He knew that he had to be believable.

He stood up and took a deep breath in. He just had to remember to act like the weak wuss that everyone expected him to be. If he could just convince Mickey of it, he knew he would get away with it, home free.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Twenty-four hours later, Scott felt the sharp night air cut through his jacket as he walked quickly through the darkened streets. He didn’t want to be out here again, and he hated that he had lost so much self-control. In every way yesterday had been a bad experience. First there was the botched hunt and then running into Mickey Kostmayer – of all the damn people.

But, at least, Mickey seemed to believe his story that he was just having a bad reaction to the violence at the Bulgarian Embassy. How could he not believe that poor, weak Scott was having trouble sleeping? After all, Scott thought bitterly, Mickey probably thought he was a wimp.

Scott felt his anger and blood lust growing. One day he’d show them, all of his friends and his dad’s friends. One day he’d show them that he was as strong and forceful as any Company agent.

He continued through the streets for a long time, making sure to give the building that Mickey was watching last night a wide berth. There was no way that he was going to run into that guy again tonight.

He kept his head down, only letting his eyes dart over the people around him. All day he had tried to suppress the almost unbearable urge that was pulling at him, but as soon as the dusk fell, he could no longer resist. He had to return to the street to hunt – and kill.

It was cold again tonight but the illegal street life wasn’t hurt by the plunging mercury. As he walked, he was approached to buy or sell drugs, by women selling themselves for an hour, and by men wanting to buy Scott for a quick sex act.

He passed by all of those people with disdain. He wasn’t interested in making the streets safe, in becoming a vigilante like that guy in “Deathwish.” He wanted a kill tonight and he wasn’t interested in anything but the kind of animal who would attack another person without provocation. Yeah, Scott thrilled at the idea, just like the punks who held a knife on him and just like Yurgi, who kidnapped him to use against his own brother.

Scott turned onto a nearly deserted avenue. There weren’t any people near his side of the street and he was just about to cross over when he heard a voice weakly call out.

“Help me someone, I’ve been hurt.”

Scott hesitated. He didn’t want to get in the middle of another rescue; everything was nearly ruined by the one last night. He was about to turn away, but his conscience tugged at him. He couldn’t refuse anyone help, it just wasn’t in him. He gave a slight groan of frustration and turned into the alleyway from where the voice seemed to originate.

He peered into the darkness, still not seeing anyone there. “What’s wrong fella? Do you need the cops?” he called out.

“Help me please.” The weak voice was coming from deep within the empty darkness.

Scott didn’t like the vibration of the place. He put his hand, that was already clad in the surgical glove, on his knife and pressed himself close to the black void that was the wall of the alley. “Hey buddy,” Scott called out, “Do you need an ambulance?”

The deep voice sounded nearby, on the other side of the passageway, “No, but you’ll need one.” Suddenly, an almost invisible figure swooped out of the darkness toward him.

Relying on his newly honed instincts, Scott pulled the knife out and jumped away.

Scott rejoiced! This was just the kind of vermin he had in mind to put down! Anyone who uses a man’s good nature and willingness to help, to bait and attack him, needs to be wiped out. His mouth was dry but his body pulsated with a surge of adrenaline, as he tried to locate his attacker in the darkness.

Suddenly a heavy body rammed against Scott and a squeal sounded as Scott’s foot skidded off a furry small creature. He stumbled for a moment and soon found that an iron fist was holding his knife hand as his back was pressed against the wall.

Almost blind in the darkness, Scott tried to shift his weight to throw the assailant off him, but the guy wouldn’t budge. The smell of unwashed clothing combined with the smell of cheap booze almost overwhelmed him as the heavy body pressed against his chest. Scott was able to move his left foot and use his large thigh and glut muscles to lift them both a couple of inches away from the wall. He used his chest and arm muscles to fling the mugger away from his body a bit, but his knife hand remained tightly held by the attacker. Even worse, he found that his weapon was being turned to point at his own chest.

Scott dropped the knife out into the darkness. He was damned if this punk was going to cut him with the knife he had so lovingly prepared for the night. Then he channeled all of his strength into his arms, trying to free a hand but no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t get enough leverage to take a swing to throw the punk off.

They struggled for a while, each man trying to do some damage to the other. Scott saw the glint of a metal pipe coming at him and he managed to get the bastard to drop it by using his elbow to slam the guy’s hand on the brick wall. The movement cost him his balance and he fell, tumbling into the trash cans that were all over the alley.

Scott’s breath whooshed out as the guy dived on him, pinning him down on the rough floor of the alley. Thick fingers closed around his throat and Scott could hear little except their combined gasps for breath. His left hand was trapped underneath his body and he was unable to defend himself when his assailant drove his knee hard into his balls.

Pain drained all the fight out of him and, as a dark mist covered his vision, regret and fear seeped into his mind. Thoughts of his mom and dad loomed large in his head.

Abruptly the body on top of him and the hands around his throat were lifted off and away from him and Scott struggled to take a breath and tried to sit up. In the darkness of the alley a large specter seemed to be standing and struggling in front of him. After a moment he was able make out that part of the shadow had fallen away and lay on the ground not moving. Then the rest of the silhouette started to move toward him.

Not knowing what was going to happen, Scott, made a clumsy attempt to fend off the new shadow, but his hands were brushed aside easily and he was pulled up to his feet by a firm grip on his coat.

“God damn it kid,“ He heard the familiar sound of Mickey Kostmayer’s voice. “What the fuck kind of trouble have you got yourself into now?”

~~~~~~~~~~~

Without waiting for an answer, Mickey dragged Scott out of the alleyway and slidopen the side door of the van. He checked over both their clothes in the light that was thrown by a nearby street lamp. Apart from the kid's nose that had started bleeding again, there was no blood. He threw Scott into the back.

"Just stay down out of sight." Mickey growled as he turned his head, checking the street for bystanders.

Scott was coughing, still trying to recover from being choked but he managed to croak out, “What are you doing…?”

“Quiet!” he hissed at Scott and slammed the door shut.

Climbing into the driver's seat, Mickey started the engine. They had been moving for five minutes before Scott, his voice still sounding ragged, asked, "Where are we going?"

"We're going to a place I know. No one will hear us there and nobody will interrupt what we’re gonna do."

Mickey could hear a nervous note in Scott's voice now, "Mickey, I want to go back to my place."

"No chance, I’m not gonna stand by and let you get yourself killed, you asshole. I think too much of your dad for that. I’m gonna find out, one way or the other, just what you’re up to."

They were stopped at a red light when Scott, still slumped in the back asked weakly, "What happened to the guy that jumped me?"

Mickey turned and looked over the back of the seat, "What did you expect to happen to him?" The light changed and Mickey turned back to his driving.

"Did you kill him?" Scott asked, his voice sounding strangely excited.

"Like I said, what did you expect? You got a problem with that? Now just shut the hell up and let me drive."

His mind was going a hundred miles an hour as Mickey ranted at Scott, “I’ve got to be an A number one idiot. yes">  Why am I taking on responsibility for you? McCall should be here not me!” Mickey thought about that for a second, “But shit, I don’t even want to think about how he would take the news that I’ve hauled his son out of trouble two nights in a row and didn’t say a word to him about it.” Mickey couldn’t help but shudder. “Damn, kid, your ass is not worth that much trouble to me.”

The kid didn’t say a word and Mickey glanced in the mirror to look at Scott sitting sullen and angry in the back of the van. He shook his head angrily. “Hey, you little fuck-up, I can’t believe you thought I’d swallow the story you fed me last night. Didn’t it occur to you that I would keep watch or follow you? You think you’re so slick that I can’t see right through you?”

Mickey tried to calm down, a little. “I’ll tell you something, Scott, you were damn lucky I got there when I did. That guy had you but good, a couple more seconds and you would have been history.”

“I was doing okay.” Scott mumbled.

“Yeah sure.” Mickey said disdainfully, turning his back.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Three hours later, Mickey looked across the dimly lit, filthy space to where Scott was perched nervously on the floor. He had brought him to this deserted Company owned warehouse and still he hadn't said a word.

Who would have thought it? Mickey wondered with a little pleasure, the kid can hold his own during an interrogation.

He walked over, crouched down in front of Scott and barked, "So, are you gonna talk to me?"

Scott looked at him, all sad eyed and puppy dog like. "I told you everything Mickey, why can’t you just take it as the truth? Ever since the shooting at the embassy I just can't stay at home at night, it gets so that I can't breathe. I’m not looking for trouble, I’m just walking.” Scott was now wiping a hand across tear-filled eyes, making a show of his pure innocence. “I can’t help it if it’s dangerous on the streets. I’m a screw up, what can I tell you – right? Trouble finds me."  Scott shook his head sadly and stared at the floor.

Mickey looked the kid over and did his best not to lose his temper. The stupid bastard is gonna get himself killed if he keeps on acting like this.

“Goddamn it you sonofabitch!” Mickey spat out. “I'm not always gonna be there to save your sorry ass. I need to know just how far gone you are and you’d better tell me right now.” Mickey played a hunch and fished the knife he had picked up in the alley out of his pocket and threw it at Scott's feet. "Why are you carrying a blade?"

Mickey caught the brief look of surprise on Scott's face before he managed to control his features. "The knife isn't mine." Scott’s voice was hollow.

In a single movement, Mickey grabbed Scott by the collar of his jacket and hauled him to his feet and held him up close, face to face. "Don't try to bullshit me, kid. I know what you you've been doing. When you were hiding in the toilet yesterday I took a look around your apartment. I saw the magazines and the snuff tapes, you jerk off. What's the matter? Can't get it up with a woman and you think watching phony videos or carrying a knife is gonna help you?"

Scott hooded his eyes and stretched his neck to look away from Mickey, his mouth set in a tight line.

Still grasping Scott’s coat, Mickey bent down to pick up the knife with his free hand. He then held it out to Scott. "Here take this." When Scott didn’t make a move to take it, Mickey shouted out an order, "Here. Take it!"

Scott took the knife and clasped it in his fist. Mickey could smell fear radiating off the kid. Fear and something else.

"Why would I want this? yes">  I don't like knives." Scott’s voice was muffled, as if he had a lump in his throat. Mickey watched carefully and the kid's words were at odds with way he was moving his fingers over the knife. He was almost caressing the handle of the six-inch blade.

“That’s it!” Mickey said, losing what was left of his patience. Putting his hand on Scott's shoulder, Mickey pushed him backward, making him stagger to keep his balance. "You think carrying a blade makes you a big man? You think a weapon’s gonna keep you out of trouble?" When Scott didn't answer, Mickey shoved him again, "Well? Do you?" He could see that Scott was getting angry. "Come on, kid. You think you can take me because you're carrying a knife? Does it make up for your lack of real meat?" Mickey sneered, continuing to bait Scott. "You think holding a knife makes you a man?" Another shove and the kid tripped and fell, landing on his ass.

Scott’s blue eyes were wild as he jumped back to his feet. "I'm warning you, Mickey, stop pushing me." The kid’s voice was deep, hard and sure of itself, not at all set at the usual, friendly, high-pitch tone Scott usually used.

Mickey smirked, he was getting there. He decided to keep needling the kid, so he turned his back on him, to show Scott that he thought he was nothing to worry about.

"Why kid?” he asked, his voice taunting, “ You think you can do something about it?"

Out of the corner of his eye, he watched the boy carefully. Reading body language, especially in a fight, was one of his specialties. He could tell the exact moment when the kid would snap and launch himself at him.

He kept moving, staying on his toes, giving himself some space just in case the kid moved a little faster than he thought. "Jesus, Scott! You really are pathetic. You know that? yes">  All this because you offed that bastard in the embassy weeks ago? He’d already shot Brock and was gonna take out another friend of yours. He would have killed Ross and you too, without a second’s thought and you’re still whining about it. Damn it kid, stop making yourself into a victim, if I hadn't been there tonight that guy would have slit your throat."

Scott was suddenly standing straighter. His jaw was set in a determined way and his eyes were burning with anger. "I’m not a victim, dammit! I was doing okay," he declared forcefully.

"Sure kid, whatever you say." Mickey laughed, making it a razor-sharp insult.

Suddenly, Scott launched himself at Mickey, flailing wildly with the knife. It was almost too easy to side step and trip him. Almost before Scott had hit the ground, Mickey was kneeling on him, twisting his arms up behind his back. The knife fell from his numbed fingers into Mickey's waiting hand.

Straddling Scott’s struggling body, keeping him pinned down, Mickey ran the tip of the knife over the back of Scott's neck, pushing the long blond hair away, leaving a bright red bloody gash yes">  in its wake. He leaned down putting all his weight on the kid and snarled into his ear, "You know, maybe I should kill you myself, it would save your old man a whole lot of grief. If I did it, you would just disappear, your body would never be found. I could even make it look like you had gone off to Bora Bora or somewhere like that."

Scott stopped struggling and let his face rest on the concrete floor. "You wouldn't do that. You couldn't," he said, his voice high now, genuinely showing fear.

“Now we’re getting somewhere.” Mickey mumbled. He stood up and kicked Scott over onto his back, so that the kid could see his eyes as he leaned over him. "Don't tempt me. If you keep on acting this way, you're gonna die and I don't want to be around when the police tell McCall that they’ve found your pitiful dead ass in an alley someplace."

Mickey walked away and sat down on an unturned crate, still holding the knife. He examined it. It wasn't a bad weapon really, it had a good balance. Without moving his head, he watched as Scott eased himself into a sitting position and wiped his hand across the back of his neck. When Scott saw the blood, it looked like the fight finally drained out of him.

Mickey made sure his voice was flat, but hard. "Are you gonna tell me what you were doing tonight? Because kid, if you don’t, I swear you'll disappear for good."

Scott took a deep breath and looked at Mickey for a while, seemingly weighing his options. Finally he buried his face in his hands and groaned loudly before he started to speak, haltingly at first, but as soon as the floodgates were opened he couldn't stop.

Mickey listened.

Scott told Mickey all about the rush he had felt while Yurgi was dying after he shot him. He told Mickey about how he found himself, for the first time in his life, taking an aggressive role as the lover to a powerful woman. He spoke of joy he had felt when he killed the junkies who had jumped him on that same amazing day and he, at last, told Mickey how he had been fighting a compulsion to go out and put himself into danger ever since.

Scott finally stopped talking and was looking at him, waiting for a reaction.

Mickey pushed his hand through his hair, his mind in a whirl. He couldn't approve of what the kid had gotten himself into – but he could understand.

He remembered the confusion and the impulses he had to struggle to control when he was younger. His release, and ultimately his salvation, had been to go into the navy. The military gave him the discipline and the skills to channel his need for adventure and thrills, but Mickey knew that Scott didn't have that way out.

Come to think of it, Mickey saw that Scott had the background to be a damn good soldier. Both of his grandfathers and his father were military men. Maybe he was only obeying his genetic makeup or his fate. Maybe Scott was one of the group of men who were born to be good at killing, just like Robert – and Mickey himself. Who knew?

Then the answer came to him. yes">  He was going to have to train the kid and teach him to look after himself. And more importantly, he was going to have to help him to learn how to control the urge for violence that he himself knew so well. That was the only answer that would keep the kid safe.

He owed it to McCall, and, if the truth be told, he liked the kid. Okay that was it then, his only option was to teach Scott how to deal with the urge for danger.

He looked at the kid.

Maybe he should stop calling him kid now.

"Right Scott,” Mickey growled, “this is what’s gonna happen, and this is what we’re gonna do…"

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