Don’t send a man to do a boy’s job
Notes: Heyo, thanks for reading! This is the continuation of my original series, Agent 69, the adventures of a 14-year old super spy with a special ability to seduce anyone he needs to for the sake of his missions. You can find my earlier stories in the series over here. http://www.nifty.org/nifty/gay/adult-youth/agent-69/
Please don't forget to support Nifty for their free service. I would love to hear your comments, suggestions and any story commissions you might want. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I Suck at Kidnapping
THE PLANE BRIEFING
"Six! Welcome back!" Doc shouted as he ran across the tarmac. This was very strange, I thought--Doc usually waited for me to get back to base before debriefing.
"Hey, Doc. Thanks, I guess...?" I replied as I scratched my head. "Why the rush? You don't usually come down to the airfield just to greet me."
"Can't I just be excited that my favorite agent returned from a mission?" Doc asked with a weirdly contrived smile.
"Doc, I'm your only agent." Doc just gave me a sheepish grin as he put an arm around my shoulder and began to lead me away.
"So...how was Manila?" Doc thumbed through his pad as we walked, making it seem like he was just trying to make small talk.
"It was insanely hot like you couldn't believe, Doc. It was bad enough that the meth dealers had, like, twenty guards, and all the kids they were supplying were right there in the crossfire, but the heat was worse! A hundred degrees everywhere and...Doc?" It had just then occurred to me that Doc wasn't steering me toward any sort of exit--quite the opposite, actually. We were heading to another hangar.
"That sounds lovely. And by that, I mean I'm glad I wasn't there," Doc smirked. "Good job, by the way."
"Doc, where are you taking me, exactly? What is all this?"
Doc sighed. "There's no easy way for me to say this, but...you have another mission."
"What, already? When?"
"Right...now," Doc said as he shepherded me into the cargo bay of a waiting C-160 cargo plane. Its engines roared to life, and the cargo bay shuddered violently as the doors closed. I lost my footing and almost tripped as the plane quickly sped across the tarmac and subsequently lifted off, but Doc was able to catch me before I fell. Incidentally, I needed to remind myself to ask him how it was that he wasn't shaken up at all after a take-off like that.
"Doc, there's a reason why they tell you to put on seatbelts during take-off!"
"Right, I suppose I should have offered you a seat first. But anyway, time for your briefing."
"What could be so urgent that you needed to shove me into another plane less than five minutes after I got off of one?" I asked, my irritation mounting.
"Since you've been abroad, I presume you haven't seen the news," Doc began. "There's a potentially dangerous diplomatic incident that's currently taking place."
"Right. Isn't there always?" I replied sarcastically as I strapped myself to a nearby seat.,
"One Elias Tayir has been apprehended in Afghanistan for a spate of terrorist bombings there," Doc continued, ignoring my jibe. "The Afghan authorities investigating him found that he has family here in America, and they are requesting the family's extradition to Afghan soil--they're being accused of being accomplices. Tayir's kin reside in San Francisco."
Doc turned on a nearby screen which was mirroring the data displayed on his pad. "His current family here is composed of his three brothers and his illegitimate son."
"Okay...?" I cocked my head at Doc in confusion. "So...what's that got to do with us? Let them take the family. No skin off our backs."
"Sadly, Six, our profession is never so simple," Doc replied with a wistful smile. For the first time during the flight, he sat down. He massaged his temples like a man carrying the burdens of the world. I've never seen him look that weary before.
"Well, most of the country believes as you do. After the media exposure that followed, there have been widespread calls for them to be deported. Considering that we're allied with Afghanistan, it would be poor form to refuse their request. Never mind that the family has resided here for more than a decade as legitimate citizens--or at least, they were legitimate."
"What does that mean?" I asked quizzically.
"In the wake of this issue, it was suddenly found by supposed investigators that the family had `forged' some of their immigration documents," Doc explained. "Their citizenship was officially revoked just yesterday. Their deportation is now all but assured. Personally, I think it seems too well-timed. It's almost like someone wants them gone. To be honest, with the unequivocal hatred that they face from many sectors in America--especially since the current administration got reelected--deportation almost sounds merciful."
"Wow, that really...sucks," I said rather lamely. I could sympathize with the family, sure, but I still didn't see what it had to do with me. "And the mission?"
Doc breathed deeply, as though composing himself for what he needed to say.
"I wanted to refuse this mission due to its ethical ramifications. But the Secretary of Defense has put a noose around Lemon's neck, so we don't really have a choice."
"What is it, Doc?" I asked worriedly.
"The Department of Defense wants the family to stay, though of course they're not planning to make their stance public," Doc began with a sour note. "I was told nothing else, but it's obviously a political motive. The family could be used as leverage against certain powers-that-be, not to mention a bargaining chip to use against Kabul if they stray too far out of line. In any case, they'll be little more than glorified political prisoners.
"With that in mind...we've been directed to provide a distraction that would cause the deportation to be postponed, giving the Secretary's legal team some time to legitimize the family's stay," Doc finished.
"'Distraction'...what does that...?" I asked hesitantly.
"Agent 69," Doc began, his tone suddenly sounding officious, despite the pained look on his face, "your mission is to secure Elias Tayir's son--named Damian Tayir--and keep him in a target location until such a time that you receive orders to release him."
"You're asking me to kidnap a kid for some crap political agenda?" I asked Doc incredulously. "Is this what we are now, Doc? Kidnappers?"
"Six, they're not asking you. They're asking us. You, me, and everyone else at JEEP. Today we are all going to kidnap a child, because that is our job...however bitter it is to admit it." Doc spat in disgust.
"How could we agree to something like this?" I asked, hoping that there was some way I could weasel out of such an unpleasant task.
"We didn't. It's not our job to agree. We just...obey orders."
"And if we're ordered to do something that's just plain wrong?" I asked. Somehow, I felt sorry for Doc. I didn't mean to sound irritated at him, but he was the only one that I could vent my frustration on. Doc didn't reply immediately, but he did have a nasty grimace on his face. "In any case, the sooner that we complete this mission, the sooner we're done with it. Please bear with it, Six--I don't like it any more than you do," Doc sighed.
"All right, fine," I conceded, though still unconvinced. "What are the details?"
"Their extradition is scheduled for today," Doc explained. "As we speak, the family is on its way to the airport. There will be a short press conference arranged by the Department of State, not for the benefit of the family, but more for the media and political activists to take pictures of them being hauled off to their plane. It'll be held in an open area on the tarmac with a cordoned-off section for attendees. We have assets in the crowd assigned to cause a violent riot, necessitating police intervention. In the chaos, you will swoop in and whisk Damian away to a designated safe house.
"You need to be the one to extract Damian--he's only twelve years old, so you're only a couple of years older than him. It would spook him less than if an adult took your place. In the meantime, a dummy kidnap-for-ransom group has been set up to claim their involvement. Just stay with Damian and care for him until the Defense guys relieve you. Your part in his detainment is crucial--you must get him on your side, explain the situation, calm him down and ensure that he's kept out of sight. When they give us the green light, you'll release Damian, and the fake kidnap-for-ransom group will be dismantled.
"If all goes well, Tayir's kin, including Damian, will be allowed to remain stateside--possibly under some humanitarian grounds, or some such--and will be transferred to a government facility, where they'll reside indefinitely."
"All right, I got all that. Anything else?" I asked Doc as I gave him a stiff nod.
"Hmm, well, yes. But first, your gear." Doc waved to a workbench behind him. I got up and examined the equipment laid out before me. First, there was the outfit, a short-sleeved hoodie in different shades of black and gray, with what felt like layers of padding along the ribs, the shoulders and the torso--possibly as last-ditch bullet-stoppers. Several belts and straps had holsters for different canisters, grenades and ammunition. There was also a pair of black tactical shorts, with an indeterminate number of pockets and two handgun holsters, with straps and buckles for a cable harness, I assumed. It made sense considering there was a hand-held grapnel hook on the bench as well. There was also a pair of all-terrain boots that looked and felt sturdy enough to withstand anything short of molten lava. Finally, there was a set of gloves with a micro-chain mesh that would be perfect for stopping bladed attacks.
I took off my clothes and dressed up right then and there. Doc had seen me naked so many times before--both in and out of bed-- that being modest around him would have seemed rude, ironically. The getup fit me perfectly, feeling incredibly comfortable, light and agile. It allowed for maximum mobility even with all its functionality. I didn't want to admit it right then, but this spy outfit also felt incredibly sexy.
"I didn't want you to go naked out there today--despite how good you look without clothes--so I prepared a full set of equipment for you," Doc began as he looked me over. "That, and I just want to make absolutely sure nothing bad happens to you out there. This is technically a non-stealth mission, after all."
He handed me a pair of plated arm guards as he began to explain. "The armored pieces of your suit will be able to protect you from small-arms fire from more than seven meters away. Anything closer will injure you."
He then handed me the grapnel and said, "You've been trained to use these, so no explanation necessary. Just keep in mind the force of the recoil unless you want to dislocate your wrist."
Next, he pointed at various other pieces of equipment. "Standard flashbangs and smoke bombs--non-lethal munitions since crowd dispersal will be your main concern. You'll have two of each. You've got your first-aid kit here, handcuffs in case you need to detain anyone, and extra charges for your watch taser.
"Also, take this," Doc added as he handed me a pistol. "It's a modified Beretta 96, with an increased clip size that can hold twenty rounds. Incidentally, that's all you'll be getting--just twenty bullets, no more, no less."
"Doc, if you're gonna give me a gun, why skimp on the bullets?" I asked as I examined the gun in question. It looked very sleek and refined, with handsome black steel accents on the grip, and blue, glowing highlights on the barrel.
"It's not like we're expecting any lethal altercations in this mission," Doc answered dismissively. "That's a special gun designed to definitively end a fight in a single shot. It uses experimental electroshock bullets--I needed to use my connections at DARPA to procure them, actually. A single round from that gun discharges 70,000 volts into whomever you hit the moment the bullet hits their body, knocking them out in an instant. That way, you don't even need to focus on being so accurate--hit them anywhere and they're out like a light. It's a non-lethal solution that allows us to apprehend any possible assailants for later interrogation. It can also fry any and all electronics. It's very difficult to manufacture, though, so you'll need to make do with what you have."
"Okay, that's cool. I guess," I said with half a shrug.
"You guess...?" Doc mock gasped as his eyes quivered. "You should be amazed! Do you know how hard it was to--okay, you know what, never mind. Just take note that the bullets discharge electricity upon impact, so try not to shoot it at anything particularly flammable."
"Riiiight," I said as I held the gun gingerly. The way Doc was talking about it, I thought it'd explode the moment I pressed the trigger.
"Additionally, you'll be provided a dirt bike to serve as a quick getaway vehicle to get Damian out of there quickly," Doc added. "Our agents should have already placed it within the airport's vicinity. It'll be marked on your IGlasses' map. Use it to quickly get to the airport's helipad, where your extraction chopper will be waiting."
"Got it. So, when's our ETA to the airport?"
"About that..." Doc gave a hollow laugh. "The Tayirs are scheduled to leave in less than an hour. If we stay our course all the way to the airport, with landing and all that, we certainly wouldn't be able to make it in time."
"What...?" I blurted out as I suddenly panicked. Doc seemed oddly calm, though, as he nonchalantly walked over to a large metal harness on one side of the cargo bay.
I hadn't paid it much attention before, but the harness apparently held some sort of exoskeleton frame. It had a multitude of straps and metal supports, and sported specifically-shaped slots for limbs. The most eye-catching detail, though, was the sleek and seemingly technologically-advanced pod attached to the back area. Meanwhile, the places where arms would fit were connected to what looked like...wings. It was decorated with red and white highlights and decals, looking very much like a man-sized stunt plane. Just then, it dawned on me what it really was, and what purpose Doc had in mind for it.
Doc pushed a few keys on a console and the harness lowered enough for him to reach the frame. "Six, this is an Aerial Insertion Exoskeleton. Basically, a jetpack and wing suit combined. I like to call it...the `Falcon'."
"No," I replied automatically, my mouth as thin as it had ever been.
"Yes," Doc grinned. I recognized it as the grin that he always had when he got to try out one of his new inventions--mostly on me. "Six, I wonder if you remember your basic skydiving training?"
"No," I replied again--not because I meant I didn't remember, but rather because I didn't like what Doc was implying.
"I'll take that to mean, `Yes, Doc, I'd love to try the Falcon out'." Doc had this unnerving enthusiastic glint in his eyes.
THE FALCON AND THE PREY
I'm not afraid of heights. Not really. But telling yourself that you're not afraid of something you've hardly faced before barely helps when you're already in it. Or experiencing it. Or in this case, falling from it. And it was the nearly-a-thousand-feet-in-the-air kind of `it'.
"Six, try to keep your arms from flailing too much." I heard Doc advise through my earpiece. "Just keep still for the first three hundred meters."
I needed to yell something in order to relieve my immediate distress and to express my misgivings at Doc, so I felt like a wellplaced curse was in order.
"Oh, and keep doing deep breaths like that," Doc added, completely unfazed by my language. "It helps with your nerves. And while your training records suggest that your skydiving proficiency wasn't as...stellar as I had hoped, this is hardly your first time. Right?"
"GAAAAH!" I replied succinctly. I suppose anyone would be distressed if they were hurtling through the air at terminal velocity with the knowledge that they don't have a parachute.
"Oh, relax," Doc said over the transceiver. "Anyway, prepare yourself for ignition. Don't fight against the frame or you'll break your bones. Here we go..."
The rest of my indignant reply was cut off by the sound of the rockets that were strapped to my back blasting to life, sending a violent jolt coursing throughout my entire body.
As Doc had explained, the only way that I could get to the target location on time was if I used this flight exoskeleton frame to just fly to a rooftop near the place instead of waiting for our plane to land. Problem was, I didn't know how to use the thing, so Doc elected to pilot it remotely.
That would have been cool, except that he'd never trained using it remotely with me. The suit was designed and tested on paratroopers nearly twice my size and with more years of experience in HALO jumps than the years I've had actually being alive. While Doc repeatedly assured me that he'd trained to use the Falcon using my data in a computer simulation, it did little to calm my nerves.
I really would have liked to point out my misgivings a little more, but just then the thrusters gave another frightening mini-explosion that sent me zooming forward, and shaking another muffled scream out of my lungs.
"Oh, sorry, I think too much of a sudden acceleration. Reducing speed," I heard Doc say, as if he was fumbling with the controls as he spoke. The thrusters slowed down as the wing-like extensions spread out, dragging my arms forcefully along with it.
As an exoskeleton frame, the Falcon augmented its users' speed and reaction time by responding to the slightest of movements that their limbs made. Their limbs would be strapped to the frame itself that way--allowing for full body control--and then the suit would mechanically enhance those movements for better flight and aerodynamic ability.
That being said, controlling the suit remotely meant that the way my limbs moved were completely at the mercy of the controller--in this case, Doc.
"Doc, be careful! That nearly sprained my arm!" I gasped as the wings pulled at my arms against my will. They moved subtly in concert with the twin thrusters on my back, titling and changing my flight angle slightly every few seconds.
"Sorry! I'm still getting the hang of adapting the controls to your size. You could say I'm...winging it." I could have sworn I heard Doc trying to stifle his laughter.
"You did not just say that. A height joke and a pun in the same line? You are terrible at this, Doc."
"The flying or the puns?" Doc asked. As he talked, I began to feel my body tilt slowly to the right as two flaps at the edge of the wings opened in opposite directions.
"Both! Doc, what are you...?" All of a sudden, the wings tilted me all the way, rolling me around a complete 360 degrees like a fidgety drill tip. "Gahhhh!"
"I'm sorry, Six. I had to make sure the flight control surfaces were working and--"
"--THE FUCK! Don't ever make me do a barrel roll ever again!" I bellowed into the helmet's receiver.
"Technically that was an aileron roll. See, those flaps that I moved were the ailerons and--"
"I don't care! I almost barfed into my helmet!"
"Okay, okay," Doc replied apologetically. "I've got the controls for the pitch and yaw down, anyway. I promise I'll make it smoother this time..."
"If by that you mean like that one time you forgot to bring KY..." "No!" Doc spluttered. "Christ, you know this is on record, right?"
"Yes. That was the point."
My helmet visuals indicated that I was nearing San Francisco International Airport, though I didn't really need the numbers flashing across the screen. I could see the ground getting closer and closer just fine, with each passing second increasing my chances of being reduced to a messy smear on a random building.
`Two hundred meters to drop zone,' I read from my helmet display.
"Beginning gradual deceleration. Can you see the airport's layout in your Heads-Up-Display?" Doc asked as my thrusters powered down to a slightly quieter whine.
"I can see it fine," I replied. "Just make sure you don't crash me."
"What, you still don't trust me to fly you after all this time? I'm actually rather proud of how fast I learned to control the Falcon with you in it..."
"I think I'll need more than just that twenty minutes to get used to you flying me like a kite against my will."
A few minutes later, I landed none-too-gently on a rooftop, a few buildings away from the main airport block. I hastily unfastened myself from the Falcon, very much glad to be rid of the thing.
"So, I just leave it here?" I asked Doc while giving the Falcon a wary look. The exoskeleton looked pathetic laying there all crumpled in a heap without a body strapped onto it.
"It only has enough fuel for insertion," Doc answered. "Cleanup crew will handle it--it has a communication interface that they'll be able to track. For now, just focus on the mission. Do you see the area where they'll be holding the press con?"
"Yeah, I see it. And I see the Tayirs coming in," I reported as I zoomed in with my IGlasses. "Three adult males and one kid."
"Stand by. Wait until our agents incite the riots. That will be your cue to extract the boy."
"I know, I know."
I waited for what seemed like forever, even though it was really only a few minutes. The rush that I felt from flying through the air was still there, and my mind wandered as I was forced to do nothing but watch from the rooftop. I had this feeling of restlessness that made me want to do something--anything that was physical. I decided it wouldn't hurt if I took my eyes off the press con for a bit, so I zoomed in my IGlasses on the other parts of the airport, randomly scanning the hustling and bustling activity around it. That's when I noticed something strange.
"Doc," I called as I activated the transceiver, "you said we had assets down there to cause the riot, right? Are they, by any chance, wearing black tactical uniforms and armed with assault rifles?"
"What...? No, they're plainclothes agents in the crowd. What do you--"
Doc stopped in mid-sentence as I focused my IGlasses on what I wanted him to see. At least ten men were disembarking from two nondescript vans a considerable distance from the crowd. All of them were wearing matching black uniforms that one would expect of a professional military unit, except that they had no markings or insignias. They wore helmets with combat goggles, making it impossible to see their faces. They were also heavily armed, with each sporting an assault rifle and a sub-machine gun sidearm, as well as several fragmentation grenades. My IGlasses highlighted the guns and identified the rifles as Kalashnikov AK-12s, and the side arms as PP-19 Bizons.
"Doc, are you getting all this? What's this mean?" I asked Doc hesitantly as my hand idly went to my electric bullet-loaded gun-- which I'd just decided to name `spark gun'. A couple of airport security personnel began cautiously heading towards the men.
"Those...those are standard armaments for Spetsnaz," Doc replied grimly. "Who are...?"
Before Doc even had a chance to voice out his concern, the men had moved out with orderly precision and shot the two guards dead.
"Shit!" I muttered. With barely a thought, I sprinted across the rooftop towards the general area of the press conference. A quick glance below confirmed my fears--the armed men were headed there, too. The shots did not go unnoticed. While the crowd still didn't know what happened, there was already a commotion at the conference, with the people beginning to panic and the riot police cautiously herding them back.
"Six, these combatants are NOT friendlies!" Doc yelled, the urgency obvious in his tone.
"Yeah, I think they made that pretty clear," I panted.
"Abort mission! The situation is FUBAR! We don't know what they're--"
The armed men had reached the conference area. With no qualms about being impolite gatecrashers, they opened fire. At least three attendees and one riot cop dropped in an instant. Screams filled the air. One of the armed men sent a barrage of lead towards the stage. The Tayirs--the three men and the boy--all ducked for cover, narrowly avoiding death by mere inches. There was no mistaking the attackers' intention now.
"Negative, Doc! I'm switching objectives. It's a rescue mission now!"
A burst of adrenaline coursed through my veins as I ran as fast as I could across the rooftops, closer and closer to the stage. I was lucky that the buildings were close together--jumping across rooftops was fairly simple. Still, it was a 25-foot drop down to the stage from where I was standing. Down below, the riot police and some airport security were making a valiant stand against the better-armed men. Every second of the firefight, bodies were dropping to the ground. The crowd was already fleeing in chaotic panic. A couple of the armed men trained their sights on the stage, shooting at it every so often in order to prevent the Tayirs from escaping.
I needed to distract the armed men as I made my descent, or I'd get shot as well. With swift, practiced movements, I took out one of my flash bang grenades and prepared to throw it. My IGlasses' targeting system calculated the exact trajectory and angle that I needed to throw the grenade to reach the assailants. But of course, throwing it was only half of my plan. I had to make sure none of them could see the grenade and take cover from it or else I was toast.
It was in moments like these--when all my training and experience would come back to me--that time seemed to slow down in my mind. With the crosshairs flashing in front of my eyes, guided by the IGlasses, I threw the flashbang. The ambient noise around me seemed to disappear as I used my heartbeat to count every passing moment. Just as the grenade had completed its arc and began to descend on top of the enemy, I quickly pulled out my spark gun and aimed with the fluid dexterity gained from rigorous training. In my mind's eye, an invisible line connected the falling grenade to my gun's barrel. In the space between heartbeats, I pulled the trigger.
A loud, deafening noise blasted throughout the area, coupled with a blinding flash of light. The flashbang exploded in midair just as I'd planned, distracting and disorienting the attackers enough to let me make my way to the stage. I shot my grapnel at a lamp post and jumped off, using the line to swing at an angle and harmlessly roll on the ground. I ran to the stage and dropped a smoke bomb to hide myself and line of sight to where the Tayirs were hiding from the armed men.
I found them huddled for dear life behind the tarp backdrop. All four of them were holding each other tightly, the fear etched into their faces. The boy that was supposedly my target, Damian, had a vice grip on one of his uncles' arms. I felt incredibly sorry for the boy--he was insanely cute with his jet-black, short and scruffy hair, as well as his childishly soft yet handsome face, but his look of worry undercut what would have been a face that could easily pull off an incredibly adorable smile.
In the gentlest tone I could manage, I told them: "I'm here to rescue you."
The eldest of the men nodded at me and gestured at his family to follow. He grabbed Damian's hand--a bit too forcefully for my taste--and proceeded to follow behind me. But before we could even break into a run, I heard a distinctly recognizable clink made by something that had just come through the smoke and had dropped beside us.
It was an M67 fragmentation grenade--without its pin.
In crisis situations, every moment counts. Every microsecond that passed since the first time the grenade bounced on the floor lowered our chances to survive. Frankly, I thought I was dead. There was no way out, considering that we'd still be in the blast radius even if we ran as fast as we could. But then, my mind was jarred back to the normal flow of time when I was suddenly and violently shoved out of the way by one of Damian's uncles. I heard Damian fall to the floor in a similar way beside me. The three men rushed forward, and not a second later, the grenade exploded.
The blast was still powerful enough to knock me back a few feet from where I was slumped, but the shockwave wasn't strong enough anymore to cause any serious internal injuries--at least I thought so. A few bits of shrapnel hit my legs and arms, but the pain was inconsequential compared to the horror of the gruesome sight in front of me. In fact, I'd rather not describe it. I hastily wiped my eyes, intentionally desensitizing myself from the fact that the blood on my face had belonged to the Tayirs a moment ago. I glanced over at Damian and found that he looked relatively un-exploded. With a bit of effort, I staggered over to him and pulled his arm.
"We need to go, now!" I shouted urgently.
Damian didn't budge at first. He was still blankly staring at what remained of his uncles, blinking a few times in disbelief.
"Damian!" The sound of his name snapped the boy back to the present as he gave me a look of determination. We both ran as fast as we could away from the battle, where gunshots had just resumed turning the airport into a warzone.
"Six! Oh God, are you okay?" Doc shouted at me through my transceiver. His worry was painfully audible.
"For someone who just got a grenade chucked into his face, I think I'm doing pretty well," I replied with a cough.
"Will you stop fucking around?" Doc bellowed, angrier than I'd ever heard him before.
"Okay, uhm...right," I replied meekly.
"I nearly watched you die and you think it's a joking matter?"
"Well, no, I--"
"Never mind. Head to the dirt bike as per the original plan." A mini-map with a red blip marking the location appeared at the bottom left of my IGlasses as Doc continued. "I've designated a nearby public park as your new extraction zone. The chopper will be waiting for you there as well as some armed agents in case you're followed, but I highly advise that you lose anyone on your tail. Six...please don't die on me."
"Right. That's not far off! We're headed there now! And...I won't die. I promise," I replied as I ran. Damian struggled to keep up with my pace, and I could see some blood dripping from his left leg where a piece of shrapnel had cut him.
"You okay, Damian?" I asked as we continued to run.
"No. Where are we going?"
"Getting a ride."
We rounded a corner where the map placed the blip and then I saw an odd-looking mass covered up beneath a sheet of tarp. I rushed to it and tore the sheet off, revealing the dirt bike that Doc had mentioned. Unlike normal dirt bikes, it was distinctively armored with sleek titanium plates, aerodynamically designed so that it looked like a racing bike. It had an overall fuller and thicker appearance than most two-wheeled vehicles, and had a few extra buttons on its handles. I was also pleased to see that it was in a shade of green that I really liked.
Without further delay, I hopped on, and placed my finger on the dashboard scanner. The engine roared to life and I beckoned to Damian.
"Dude, get on!" As if on cue, several gunshots popped around the bend where we'd come from, disturbingly close for comfort. Damian nodded and gingerly mounted the seat behind me. I directed his hands to my midsection and said, "Whatever happens, don't let go."
With that, I revved the engine and sped off, leaving behind a cloud of smoke.
"Doc, en route to the extraction zone."
"Copy that, Six. The chopper and its entourage will arrive in three minutes," Doc replied. The mini-map was showing a blip at a patch of green called Lion's Park.
"Who are you talking to?" Damian asked behind me, his voice competing with the rushing wind as we sped to a nearby access road.
"Where are we going?"
"Headquarters," I answered again.
"Who are the guys chasing us?"
"No idea," I replied, slightly annoyed.
"Why don't you have any idea?" Damian asked insistently.
"Because I don't!" I growled. "Can't you just shush?"
"If someone was trying to kill you, wouldn't you like to know who they were?" he asked again, and I caught a hint of rebellious impertinence from his tone.
"Point taken, but this is so not the best time." Just then, I heard the jarring sound of brakes screeching and horns blaring behind us, followed by the sound of metal crashing on metal. My heart leapt up into my throat as I realized that there were now two vans following us--the same vans that the armed men had come from.
"They're chasing us!" Damian squealed behind me.
"I know that!" I angrily replied.
Damian burrowed his chin into my shoulder, his arms gripping my waist for dear life. I could almost feel him shiver as he held me. It gave me the kind of motivation I needed to push myself further. I increased our speed, overtaking every car in front of us, much to the chagrin of their drivers. The wind whipped at my cheeks as I swerved in and out of traffic. Behind us, a few more cars crashed at the railings as they got easily punted aside by the much bulkier vans pursuing us. While the vans couldn't catch up to us, they did manage to stick closely to our tail. The park marked on my IGlasses was getting nearer and nearer, but the armed men behind us didn't seem like they gave up easily.
"Doc, I couldn't lose our tail. Coming in hot!" I reported in a panic.
"I'll notify the escort team! They'll provide cover fire. Please...get home safe."
"I plan to."
Tensions were running high as we arrived at the extraction point. Armed agents from the agency were pointing their guns in the direction of where Damian and I had arrived, expecting the vans that had been tailing us. All of them wore armored outfits and tactical helmets, which for some reason worried me more than reassured me.
"You can let go of me, Damian. We're safe now." I tried my best to sound reassuring, but my attempt was compromised by the fact that I knew what I'd just said wasn't true. I really just wanted Damian to ease up on his grip--it was already affecting my breathing.
"How are you so sure?" he asked, looking up at me with worried eyes.
I honestly didn't know what to reply--I would be lying if I said that I was sure in any way. Thankfully, I was saved from the burden of responding when one of the agents approached me.
"Agent 69, we're ready to depart immediately," he said, while pointing to a helicopter a few yards away. With a signal from the agent that I spoke with, the pilot started the engines, filling the air with the propeller's deafening wing beats.
"Not a moment too soon. Get us out of here." I beckoned to Damian, who followed gingerly, as though he'd felt safer sitting on the dirt bike. But before we even took a single step, one of the agents bellowed.
A harsh crackling whoosh zoomed just to the left of the helicopter. It was akin to the sound of burning propellant, or rather, a particularly large firecracker. I didn't manage to see what it was, but it left a trail of smoke. It wasn't very hard to guess what it actually was when the large tree that it hit exploded into a frightening fireball.
"RPG! Get down!"
Considering what a rocket-propelled grenade would be likely to target first, I hastily yanked Damian's arm and then dragged both of us to the ground with me on top of him. I didn't even acknowledge his angry complaint as I forced his body to go prone on the grass.
Expecting the deafening roar of exploding metal does little to actually prepare you for it. My eyes were closed, and I didn't see what happened--but I didn't need to. A catastrophic explosion came from where the helicopter was only moments ago. I felt the shockwaves wrack my body even though I was flat on the ground. The sudden blazing heat of the air blasting outwards from the explosion seared my skin, and worse, I definitely felt some metal debris hit me like a lead weight thrown at light speed. Through it all, I held onto Damian with all the force that I could muster, hopefully shielding him from everything that was hitting me.
The explosion, the fireball, the heat, the concussion and the bruises, cuts and scrapes--all of those happened in the span of about two seconds. I was disoriented to the extreme, and I felt like I was in one giant echo chamber where every sound was fuzzy and indistinct. I heard what could have been men shouting, and then guns. There was shooting, I think... bullets, maybe hitting rock, wood, fabric and bone. I needed to focus, but the focus wouldn't come from me. I needed something else.
Apparently, that `something else' was a very forceful and painful slap from a child-sized hand.
"Wake up! Wake up!" demanded a voice ringing in my ears. At least I knew Damian was still alive and kicking--well, slapping, in this case.
"I'm not out cold! Stop slapping me!" I grabbed the small hand that was about to slap me again. I opened my eyes to Damian's extremely worried face. Though when I blinked at him, I could have sworn he sighed in relief.
I did a quick scan of the area. I didn't need more than a few seconds to know that we needed to get out of there ASAP. Most of the agents that weren't embroiled in a gunfight were down and writhing on the ground. The armed men outnumbered them, but they were too cautious to break their cover.
I put a hand to my head, expecting to activate my IGlasses and contact Doc...but it wasn't there. I anxiously palmed at my bare, sootcovered face to discover nothing but a huge, painful welt on my temple from where the helicopter debris hit me. I frantically searched the ground beside me and found what was left of the most useful gadget I've ever been issued. My IGlasses were broken down the middle, its lenses cracked and the crumpled stems still emitting a few sad sparks.
I picked myself up, my adrenaline acting as a sort of painkiller along with giving me a renewed sense of purpose. I plucked my last flash bang grenade from my holster and chucked it at where I last saw the armed men were huddled. Without waiting to hear the explosion, I got on my dirt bike. Damian didn't need to be told as he automatically sat behind me, his hands once again firmly wrapped around my waist. I started the engine again and sped off, with the flash bang exploding in the distance amid the angry screams of men in a foreign language.
"What's the plan?" Damian asked a moment later.
"To get as far away from here as possible," I replied breathlessly.
"Then...?" Damian prodded again.
"I'm running out of ideas," I admitted rather glumly as I glanced at Damian. Considering that our evac was shot to hell, and my communications to base was busted, I was hitting a mental blank. Damian gave me a furious, disbelieving look.
"Don't tell me you're giving up after all?"
"You got any better ideas, short stuff?" I retorted as I began to get seriously annoyed.
The rushing wind tossed Damian's hair around comically, spoiling what could have passed for a thoughtful look. Then he gripped my waist tighter as a thin smile formed on his lips.
"Yeah, I might have an idea."
I Become a Babysitter
SWEARING ON A GREEK RIVER
Around two years ago, a condominium was being built next to this place called Commodore Park in San Bruno. Unfortunately for the guys that owned the condo, the park was home to a prominent statue of some local civil war hero. Locals were disgruntled that the condo would spoil the statue's `line of sight', becoming an eyesore that photo-bombed any pictures of the statue. After a legal scuffle by historical conservationists, construction was halted indefinitely, and to this day, it remains abandoned.
I knew all this because Damian had told me about it. Apparently, one of his uncles was somewhat-illegally involved with the condo's construction company. It was where we'd crashed for the night after the impossibly fucked-up fiasco that was supposed to be our ticket home. Security was almost non-existent there, and it was no trouble to sneak in through a gap in the wire fence that surrounded the building. We picked one of the more finished-looking rooms on the third floor to be our shelter for the night.
Since the building was unfinished, all of the walls and floors were bare unpainted concrete. The room that we picked had a single working light bulb on the ceiling, so at least we weren't in the dark. There were a few exposed pipes where the plumbing was supposed to have been installed, and the windows were little more than square holes in the wall that had been boarded up with plywood and old newspapers. The room wasn't going to win any interior design awards, but it would have to do.
Aside from him giving me the place's history, Damian and I didn't say much as we got settled in the room. He shuffled over to one of the corners and sat on the floor, hugging his knees. I left him for a bit to scavenge the building for whatever makeshift furniture I could find. All in all, I managed to get a couple of plastic chairs, a ratty mattress that the workers must have used back in the day, and a utility box that we could use for storage. I set out to furnishing our little room, and after a minute it was a passable bedroom--good enough to sleep in, at least.
I was already ticking off my mental checklist of things that I really needed to do, first of which was to reestablish contact with Doc. After that, I needed to think of a way to get back to HQ with minimal exposure. Next I'd have to ensure that Damian--
Right. Damian was still just sitting in his corner and hugging his knees.
As a spy, I've done a lot of things to other people just to get my job done. I've manipulated them, fought with them, lied to them, and even had sex with them. But this was really my first time actually trying to take care of another person before, instead of using them for the mission. Here was a twelve-year-old-boy that had just barely escaped being murdered, whose survival depended entirely on me, and all I could think of was the mission. I don't think fourteen was a good enough age to be a decent babysitter. Then again, most fourteen-year-olds weren't super-spies like I was.
So...what's the first thing that I should do as a babysitter? To anyone else who saw Damian, it would have been obvious, but for me, I sort of needed to stare at him for a few seconds before realizing it.
This kid needed a fucking band-aid. Lots of it.
Just to recap, Damian had been through a bullet storm, a grenade detonation, a highway chase, and a helicopter explosion all in the span of an afternoon. While I'd done my best to protect him, he'd still gotten nicked a few times. His pants were torn and stained red from where bits of shrapnel had punctured them. He had this gash on his temple that was just beginning to dry out and he had cuts and a bruise on his right arm, too.
"Damian," I began as I sat down next to him on the floor, "are you okay?"
"No," he replied harshly and shot me an angry look.
I should remember that questions with obvious answers aren't very good for starting conversations, especially with shell-shocked preteens.
"Right." I sighed as I let myself relax and leaned on the wall. "Look, I know it's been a real fuck-up of a day. We need to get some sleep. But before that, though, I need to take a look at your wounds."
I reached for his arm, but he recoiled from me. I couldn't blame him. I may have saved his life, but I was still a stranger who was armed with a gun and grenades--not exactly the best props to express how much I care. I dug inside the utility pouch on my waist that held all my first-aid stuff and pulled out a small tube of clear gel. At the agency, we called it the `medic's gel'. It's supposed to be an experimental but cutting-edge healing salve made of a mysterious cocktail of chemicals. In reality, it's glorified super glue, but for people.
"I just want to put this on your injuries, Damian. Nothing else." I squeezed a tiny bit of the gel onto an open cut on my arm, and then spread it around. The gel felt hot on my skin and the next thing I knew, it had hardened to cover the cut, which was soon became annoyingly itchy.
Damian seemed reassured by what he saw, and stopped clutching his arm as though he was afraid I might steal it.
"So...can I see your arm?"
He slowly extended his arm toward me. I rubbed the gel onto his arm, and then his forehead. I did my best to be gentle, but I didn't know if I was doing it right. He didn't say a word, and neither did I. I wish he did, even if it was just to say that I was messing up.
"It itches," he said simply with a blank face.
My head buzzed, and my vision suddenly blurred. A faraway voice--a young boy's voice--repeated what Damian had said.
Then I heard a woman reply, and I instinctively replied along with her.
"That means it's starting to heal."
"What, are you a doctor, too?" Damian scoffed. Apparently I'd spoken out loud while slipping into another flashback about my forgotten past.
I smiled to myself. Even with everything that had happened to us today, I felt a surge of comfort. That flashback... I knew it was my mom. I'd scraped my knee and she'd put iodine on it while calming me down with her soothing voice. I couldn't see any images in my head--just blobs of color and voices--but I felt warmth, and I felt loved.
I glanced at Damian and my expression softened. "I'm not. But it's what my mom used to say to me. Moms aren't usually wrong."
Damian grunted, but at least it felt more like a `Fine, whatever' grunt rather than an `I'm pretty sure you're out to strangle me' grunt.
I knelt in front of him as I finished rubbing gel on his arms. But then, there were still the wounds beneath his clothes. I looked into his eyes imploringly and asked in the calmest voice I could manage: "I'll have to put some on your legs, too. So, take off your pants, okay?"
Damian's eyes looked misty and slightly unfocused. He was squinting at me as though he saw me behind a grimy window. He frowned, and then shook his head briskly like he was trying to keep himself awake. I thought that he was going to faint from exhaustion, and I braced myself to catch him. He shook, but held his ground. His eyes never stopped staring--or trying to, anyway--at my face.
"What are you...gonna do?" Damian asked unsteadily.
"I'm not gonna hurt you," I promised. "I'm just gonna patch up your cuts."
"Swear it on the river Styx!" Damian demanded.
"Uh...okay? I swear." I thought it was an oddly specific thing to swear to, but I knew better than to question his quirks at that moment.
Damian nodded. Then, for some baffling reason, he put his hand onto my hair and smoothed it out, then ruffled it, then ran his fingers through it. He rubbed my scalp, still with that unfocused look. Under very different circumstances, this would have been...well, foreplay. But I was just so baffled that it didn't register like that in my brain.
The boy's expression didn't change as he began to strip off his clothing. I distinctly remember telling him that I only needed him to take off his pants, but like an eerie robot on autopilot, he pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it to the floor. Then he shimmied out of his denim pants like it wasn't an issue at all. I'd have expected that to be the end of it, but then his underwear sailed over my head and I was met face-to-face, so to speak, with his very hard dick.
I am just being honest when I say that getting this twelve-year-old fully nude and horny was exactly the opposite of what I needed right then. I know that common sense--or something of the sort-- would have told me to just shut up and enjoy the view, but I was too baffled to think of the odd scene as anything erotic.
Damian himself looked thoroughly confused. He stared at his erection like it had just appeared out of nowhere, an unexpected surprise that defied any explanation. His eyes alternately shifted from his crotch, to my face, and back to his stiffy. I tried to look for an answer on his face but he was speechless. Then he shuffled closer until his swollen knob was just inches from the tip of my nose.
The unexpected turn of events left me with just one option-- gawk bewilderedly at the owner of the kid-sized prong a few inches away from poking my nose. It was hard to focus on anything else, so I resigned myself to looking Damian over and realizing how much of a good-looking boy he was. His dick--and of course that's what I'd start with since it was right in front of my face--was about four inches long with a bulbous red head. A thin white line around it marked where he'd been circumcised, and the shaft was probably as thick around as a coke's bottle cap. His balls hung tight to his crotch, and except for a soft, almost-transparent down of fuzz at the base of his dick, he was smooth and hairless.
I thought that for a twelve-year-old, he looked a bit short for his age. He was maybe five feet tall, his arms and legs were lean like you'd expect if you'd done a lot of horseplay and running as a kid. His stomach was the same slightly chunky belly that you'd find on a young kid with baby fat, and his nipples were just nubs on his featureless chest. Together with his light tan skin, button nose, and short but scruffy hair, Damian's whole image was basically shouting out `cute'.
I felt just a tad more miserable that such a cute kid like him had to go through the ordeal that we'd just endured.
"I'm sorry..." Damian mumbled uncertainly. He was still staring at his hard-on with a baffled expression. "I don't know why it's...I didn't mean to..."
"It's fine," I said wistfully as I looked away from his member, in case he found it embarrassing. "I just have that effect on people. I can make them sexually excited even when they don't mean to be...or want to. It's got something to do with how my body is wired, and now it's affecting you."
"Wha...how? What for?" he asked with a raised brow.
"It's complicated," I said, because I wasn't in the mood right then to talk about my weird pheromones. "It doesn't matter. I'm just going to put gel on your legs, okay?"
Damian pouted, but if he wanted to protest, he didn't have the words for it. He obediently stood still as I began to rub gel on the cuts on his legs. There weren't a lot, and none of them were serious, but some of them looked like they'd leave a scar. I was careful to avoid letting his dick brush up against my head, and the irony wasn't lost on me.
I looked up at his face again, and I felt a twinge of sadness. Damian really was a cute boy, and on any other day, I'd have loved to get in bed with him. But right now, it was a very fucked-up time. With all of the things that we'd just been through--with assassins trying to kill us--thinking about sex was just impossible. Yet here Damian was, his dick hard and his mind trying to process why he was so horny. My amped up sex pheromones artificially induced his desire for pleasure. The sight made me impossibly angry at myself.
As an Erotic Espionage Expert, my missions mainly involved me getting my targets aroused, having sex with them, and then accomplishing whatever my mission was with that main method. The special pheromones my body emitted made anyone horny, often even when I don't mean for them to be. I could supposedly control when it comes out and choose my targets, but me level of control was flawed at best. It made trying to read people's emotions difficult. I didn't know who actually liked me, and who just wanted to fuck me because they're under the sway of my pheromones.
Even Doc--with whom I'd fucked around with several times in my bunk--I wasn't sure what he felt about me. In fact, the only person that I was sure had ever actually cared about me--even loved me--was Pyotr, a boy that I'd met in a mission six months earlier. He was immune to my seductive pheromones but I'd had to leave him after I'd finished the mission. It now felt so long ago, that I'd kinda forgotten what it was like to have someone genuinely like me.
Damian had suffered enough today, and he didn't need me to add to that confusion by messing him up with my stupid sex mojo. I continued to patch him up, resolutely ignoring his boner. It was my small way of rebelling against my sex hormones, and the stupidly complicated ways it's been fucking up my life.
Oddly enough, I also felt a sense of peace. For the first time in my life, someone was naked in front of me and I wasn't sucking or fucking him. I was gently rubbing Damian's legs without thinking of sex, and it felt almost cathartic. I knew right then that I'd want to protect this boy with my life. I was going to save him and see him safely out of this mess. For once in my life, I was not a seducer, a liar, or a spy. I was a protector, and it felt like this was what I'd always wanted to be all along.
THE REAL DAMIAN
I woke up when the afternoon sunlight snuck in through a gap in the boarded-up window and hit my face. I still felt groggy and too lazy to get up, so I decided to just stay in bed until my vision cleared.
The first thing that I saw was Damian. He was naked from the waist up, and was kneeling in front of one of the other windows with his back to me. He almost looked like he was praying.
"So," I began, hoping to break the ice as Damian stood up, "were you praying for your uncles?"
"No, not really," Damian said flatly. "I don't pray. And if I did, I'd never pray for them."
"Oh, uhm...okay...?" I managed, though I felt so awkward that it was almost physically painful.
Without skipping a beat, Damian continued. "My uncles...they told me that it was God's will when they hit me with their belts whenever I forgot my chores. It was God's teachings when they screamed at me when I happened to be near them when they were drunk. It was God's rules when they ordered me to bend over naked on hot nights when they couldn't find hookers to fuck."
I gulped. I didn't know what to reply, or even if I should say anything at all.
"I don't pray," Damian repeated. "But even if they couldn't care less for me, my uncles did take me in after my mom died, fed me, and sent me to school. For that, I still owe them some thanks. So that's what I was doing. I've said my goodbyes in my own way."
"Oh...uhm, sorry, I didn't know," I said bashfully.
"Let me guess..." Damian turned to face me with a cocky grin. "You thought I was a sappy good boy who did everything he was told, didn't you?"
I just stared at him in confusion. Was this really the same kid that I'd saved yesterday?
"My uncles thought that, too, you know," he continued. "I learned how to play pretend early on. They didn't care about me, and I'd never even met my father in person before. They don't know that I actually read the news, that I know how to eavesdrop, and that I've been planning to run away for some time now. They never even bothered to teach me Pashto."
"What?" I asked.
"Our native language," Damian clarified. He looked down as if he regretted not being taught about his heritage.
"But your uncles saved us yesterday. They sacrificed themselves to cover us from the grenade," I ventured. Again, I felt painfully awkward.
Damian stared out at the window again, as if considering what I'd just said.
"Maybe," he admitted hesitantly. "But knowing them as well as I do, they probably just shoved us out of their way so that they could escape first. But...if you're right, then I guess I owe them more thanks. They didn't deserve what happened to them, either way. But I won't pretend that I didn't want a life away from them."
"The question now is..." he added as he casually walked over to the mattress where I was lying. "...who are you, why did you save me, and what are we going to do now?"
I felt that dull pain again. But this time, I knew it wasn't from awkwardness. Something was actually hurting me. I sat up, but when I tried to move my arm, my left wrist hurt, and I heard the sound of metal clinking against itself. It was only then that I'd noticed my hand was handcuffed to one of the exposed pipes with my own handcuffs.
I imagine that my expression was somewhere between shock and disbelief. Damian definitely didn't seem so cute anymore. Well, maybe he did, but the impish grin on his face made me fear for my life. Sort of.
"What the hell?" I sputtered. I still had difficulty imagining that Damian could have done something like this. "Damian, get these off me!"
"Nope," he said simply.
"Why did you handcuff me?" I asked incredulously.
"If you were me, you would have done it, too," he replied quite matter-of-factly as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Let's see...guys with guns try to kill me, then this boy who barely looks older than me swoops in with combat gear, as if he was expecting the whole thing. Pretty suspicious, wouldn't you think?"
"Well, that's..." I stammered. He wasn't wrong...
"The way I see it," Damian continued as he looked down at me with a confident smile, "it's either you're in league with those guys and this is all an act to get my guard down, or you're from another group who actually wanted to attack first, but then those guys suddenly showed up and screwed with your plan."
I guess I looked guilty because he smiled triumphantly at seeing my expression.
"If you wanted me dead, you would have killed me the first chance you got, but it seems like you need me alive." Damian squatted in front of me like he was studying a caged animal. "That could only mean you were supposed to kidnap me."
My right eye twitched. It was impossible that he could deduce this much just from guesswork... wasn't it?
I found my voice and retorted, "Yeah, well, what if we're actually good guys that knew you were gonna get attacked, and we were actually setting up an ambush for the bad guys and we were gonna rescue you?"
"No, you weren't," Damian countered. "If you did, there'd have been more of you, it'd have been more organized, and you wouldn't have lost."
"Why you little...!" I still couldn't believe that he actually made sense. This kid was actually beating me in an argument.
Damian scowled at me. "You're probably thinking how it's impossible that I know this much. Well, anyone could see how this all fits, plain as day. Don't you read any Tom Clancy, or Frank Miller? Not even Rick Riordan? It's a common plot point that lots of novels have already used, which you'd know if you'd actually read any." He regarded me as if I was some uncivilized ogre.
"I didn't think twelve-year-olds actually read books these days," I grumbled.
"I'm not just another twelve-year-old!" Damian growled. "Don't underestimate me!"
I think I hit a nerve. Damian sounded like a pouty little kid who was insisting that he `really knew how to use the lawnmower, honest!'"You like to pretend you're in control," I smirked. "But you can't even control your own dick."
Damian glared at me. I knew that what I'd just said was true when I'd glanced at my right hand earlier. My palm had the traces of something slick and moist on it, and from what my fingers had touched, it was something I'd expect of freshly-dried precum. Damian had been rubbing his boner against my palm when I'd been sleeping--I had no doubt about it. I guess even when I'm asleep, I still put out a small amount of sex pheromones. And because Damian was still a kid, even just that much could already get him going.
"Shut up." Damian's mouth was a thin line. "For that, you're not gonna have any lunch."
"What...?" I trailed off as Damian tossed something beside me. It was my wallet. It only just dawned on me then that he must have taken all of my stuff while I'd been sleeping. In his hand, he held two crisp twenties, which I remembered as being the last bit of money that I had.
"Hey, that's mi...!" I trailed off again when he put on a shirt--my shirt, the tactical shirt that was part of my spy gear. I'd taken it off last night before going to sleep because it was too humid. The shirt looked too big on Damian, which actually made him look even more like a little kid in it.
Damian stuck his tongue out in response to my indignation. He was daring me to come try and get my stuff back.
"I hate you," I grumbled.
"I'm keeping the change," he said airily. Then he strode out the door, leaving me half-naked and handcuffed in place.
The terrorist. That's what the kids at school had kept teasing Damian because he'd had the audacity to not be born white and had Middle Eastern features. He still got teased despite being a natural English speaker and having been born in the States. His school image also hadn't been improved by the broken noses of would-be bullies that had tried to accost him. As it turned out, Damian had learned to defend himself at an early age after realizing that his uncles were just another slightly worse kind of abuser rather than the responsible guardians that he'd expected them to be.
He'd often gotten into fistfights, and had become surprisingly good at winning them, despite being a midget of a boy. Bullies had learned the hard way that they could only harass him non-physically. Everyone else had just avoided him. He'd learned to be always cautious and suspicious. He'd buried himself in books and novels, and his best friends were probably fictional super-spies, comic-book vigilantes, and fantastic teenage demigods.
Damian had inadvertently told me all about his life when he got sidetracked while gloating over the fact that he'd handcuffed me in my sleep. Maybe it was just me, but for a guy who considered me a potential enemy, he was really enjoying talking about himself. It almost felt like he wanted me to listen and compliment him.
He'd even tossed me a cheeseburger, even though he'd threatened to starve me earlier that morning. Of course, he'd gotten a Big Mac and jumbo soda and fries for himself, and I felt like he was trying to make me jealous--which I was. I munched on my burger with my free hand as I got another earful of `the life of Damian Tayir'.
"You still haven't told me who you are," Damian continued, after a long story about why he was the only smart boy in his class.
"I'm just some guy..." I said with disinterest.
"You want some fries?" he asked, raising the crispy golden treat.
"Oh, sure!" I replied enthusiastically. I'd wholeheartedly believed that he was suddenly possessed by a streak of generosity--though I probably only came to that assumption because I was equally surprised and hungry.
"Okay, here's what we're gonna do." Damian squatted down in front of me and waved the fries just out of my reach. "I'll ask you a question, and every time you don't answer me, I'll eat a fry."
"Not exactly a pro at interrogation, are you?" I smirked at him. Damian responded by popping a fry in his mouth.
"Hey!" I protested. "What was that for? You didn't ask a question!"
Even at the time, I knew that this was just some silly game, but for some reason I found myself emotionally invested in those fries. So I was actually playing along without considering whether I wanted to or not.
"I'll also eat a fry if you annoy me," he continued, making a minor show of deciding which fry to choose next.
"Fine," I muttered...prompting Damian to eat yet another fry.
"What now?" I demanded.
"I was hungry," he replied, shrugging.
I rolled my eyes as Damian flashed me another impish grin.
"Who were those guys that were after us, and why do they want me dead?" he asked.
I considered my answer for a few seconds as I replayed yesterday's scene in my head.
"I don't know," I admitted. "They looked like an organized unit, and they were on a mission to take out your family."
Damian nodded grimly, satisfied with my answer. "Okay, but you're alone. Why did you risk your life just to save me?"
"They'd have killed you," I said simply.
"What am I to you?" he asked insistently. "We've never even met before!"
"You're...you looked like you needed help so I did." I couldn't very well tell him that he was my mission, and that I was a spy. The last time I'd let slip my real job, Doc had chewed me out like all hell had broken loose.
I winced. For my determination to stick to the rules, Damian had eaten a clump of fries. His stony expression seemed to say `you brought this upon yourself'. I guess he hadn't liked my answer.
"Who sent you?"
"I was just passing by," I replied plainly.
"What's your name?"
"Bruce Wayne," I said with my poker face.
A shadow fell on Damian's face, and he suddenly sounded pensive.
"Are you going to kill me?" he asked quietly.
"No!" I shouted angrily. I think I let my emotions get the best of me there. "No...I'm here to protect you."
His brown eyes bored into mine as he asked his next question: "Are you going to leave me? Are you just going to disappear the moment I let you go?"
I held his gaze, and my expression was as serious as it could've ever been.
"No. I'll stay with you. I'll get you out of this mess. I swear it on the River Spicks."
"Styx," he corrected. He set the fries down beside me along with his half-finished soda. I didn't even notice that he'd stopped eating them.
Damian woke up from a nap just before sunset. He'd agreed to helping me apply medic gel on the cuts on my legs, though not to setting me free. He was pensive and quiet while he tended to my wounds, and he'd given me furtive glances every so often without saying a word. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.
"Stop that!" I demanded.
"What?" Damian snapped. "I thought you wanted me to put this stuff on your legs."
"That's not what I meant, stupid!" I chided him. "I mean, you keep looking at me like I just murdered your pet baby panda and you don't even say anything!"
"What's the point?" he sighed as he continued spreading the gel on my left thigh. "You won't tell me anything. I don't even know who you are."
"I can't tell you anything sensitive, Damian," I said with a miserable tone. "I'll get in trouble--again."
"With your boss, the doctor?" Damian asked offhandedly.
"Maybe, maybe not." I refused to meet his eyes.
Damian scowled and rubbed up the inside of my thigh, and then unceremoniously pinched my tender skin. I'm not ashamed to say that I yelped so much that my voice cracked, because super spy or not, that stung like hell.
Damian rubbed the tears in his eyes that he got from laughing at my livid expression. Then, his face relaxed back into a wistful smile.
"He's not here right now, your boss," he offered. "Your glasses broke. That's what you used to talk to him, right?"
"What makes you think that?" I said, my eyes narrowing.
"I'm not deaf," Damian retorted. "I heard you talking to him yesterday. All I'm saying is...he's not here to watch, so you won't get in trouble if you tell me things."
"What if I just don't want to?" I asked testily.
Damian stopped rubbing and his expression darkened. His eyes bore into me with equal parts frustration and sadness. Suddenly, he pushed me down on my makeshift mattress and sat on my belly, almost knocking the wind out of me.
"Uuunff!" I grunted in discomfort. He wasn't heavy, but then I'm sure my internal organs weren't happy to be squished by the warm behind of a 70-pound boy.
Damian scowled at me even more, and he looked like he was halfway to punching my teeth out, just like another school bully.
"Why do you want to know so badly?" I asked angrily. "What if I'm not telling you because it's for your own protection? Isn't it enough that I saved your life?" I tried to shove him off by twisting my body, but he resisted me.
The boy's eyes looked stormy as he stared right at mine. Then, he pinned me to the mattress by my shoulders. I thought he was about to cry.
"Don't you get it, you stupid jerk?" he asked incredulously. "I need to know who you are because I want to trust you! I want to believe you! I want to believe that you're going to save me from getting killed!"
His chest was heaving now. His voice was less harsh than it was pleading. "I--I'm scared. I'm scared, okay? I just need to know, I need you to be my...I want to believe in you..."
His voice trailed off to a quiet whisper as the tears fell. He leaned on my chest as he sobbed--all his pent-up emotions and shock from yesterday seemed to have burst into this one moment of anguish and fear. I put my free arm around him in a one-armed hug and let him cry. His tears were tiny cold stakes that stabbed my bare skin. The funny thing was...I didn't mind at all.
When his breathing finally began to stabilize, I explained, "My name is Agent 69. I'm a spy."
In the simplest terms I could use, I tried to explain about my job as a secret agent, and about JEEP, Doc, and the mission that I'd had of trying to kidnap him--which I'd arbitrarily changed to saving him.
When I mentioned that I didn't have a name other than my designation, Damian crinkled his nose.
"Saying `69' all the time is clunky," Damian pointed out.
"My friends...well, Doc calls me `Six'." I shrugged.
"'Six', eh?" Damian repeated thoughtfully. "So, Six...what are we gonna do now? Why are you so bent on saving me when that wasn't your mission anyway?"
Damian was by then bundled up beside me and hugging my chest. I idly stroked his hair as I answered.
"I never liked the idea of kidnapping you, anyway. I don't care what Doc says. I'm saving you, and that's that."
"What for? You're going through all this just for me even though I'm not worth anything..." Damian muttered.
"Don't say that!" I objected. "Look...I've done a lot of messed-up things as a spy, and they always told me it'll save lives down the road. But right now, you're here, in front of me, and I have your life in my protection. If I can at least save you, then I know that everything I'm doing--all the bullets, the blood, the pain and the heartache--I'll know that they're all worth something."
"That doesn't make a lot of sense," Damian noted.
I chuckled. "I guess this kind of feeling doesn't need to make sense. I just want to do it, and I don't care why."
Damian breathed a sigh, as if he was lost in thought. Then he got up and looked at me with a strained expression. "Six, there's one more thing I wanted to know..." he began. He looked like he was trying to hold in a loud belch, the way that his face was scrunched up.
"Yeah?" I asked.
"Why is it that whenever I'm close to you, I...I..." Damian didn't finish. Instead, he took off his shorts, and I was greeted once again by Damian Jr., all stiff and happy to greet me.
"Oh...that..." I winced. "That's half of why they made me a spy," I admitted. "My body...is kind of special and weird because it makes people around me...horny. It makes them easier to...interrogate and stuff."
"Oh," Damian replied. I didn't know if he'd understood exactly what I'd said, but he had this pained expression on his face like he was trying to process a really difficult idea.
"I'm sorry, Damian," I continued with genuine regret. "I didn't mean for this to happen. I can't exactly control it all that well yet. I'm sorry if it's confusing you or..."
"No." Damian shook his head. "This actually makes things a lot clearer and easier for me," he said more confidently.
"What...?" I asked. I didn't know what to make of what he'd said. "All that time I was near you, starting from yesterday, and then rubbing your legs, and then hugging you and stuff," Damian began, his breathing becoming more ragged. "I was already hard. I couldn't understand why and I really wanted to do...I don't know...things...with you. I felt confused about it, and I've been holding it back. So, thanks for explaining things to me." As if to punctuate his gratitude, his dick twitched.
I blinked. After being exposed to my sex funk since yesterday, Damian had apparently already been intoxicated. I hadn't really noticed, and that was probably because, as he'd said, he was controlling himself--and doing very well at it. I remembered that tolerance to my pheromones was also affected by age--and according to my watch monitor, Damian was very, very intoxicated. That he'd manage to resist that was more than impressive. I just liked him a little more.
"Uh, okay, you're welcome I gue--hey!" Damian suddenly went back to sitting on my belly, except that this time, there was a four-inch boy-spear pointed at my face.
"Damian, wait! I just said that you're being affected by my pheromones!" I warned.
"I know, you told me, and I get that now. This is supposed to happen to me when I'm near you. I don't have to feel guilty or bad about it," he replied. His face actually relaxed, and looked relieved. "But I also decided that I don't care. Whether or not I'm in control of myself... I want to do this. And when it comes to things you want, it doesn't need to make sense, right?" He gave me a cocky grin, but I could feel a newfound sense of freedom and relief in his words.
"So...Six, please..." he cooed. Even in his giddy, hyper-stimulated state, he was holding back enough to ask for my permission.
For such a kind and considerate boy like that, I couldn't do anything other than nod. Damian beamed and immediately began humping my naked chest, rubbing his stiff prick against my skin. I could feel his tight nutsack getting dragged along as he feverishly ground against me like his very life depended on it.
"Nggghhh..." he whimpered as he strained to rub his boydick onto as much of me as he could reach.
Somehow, I found his utter inexperience with all things sexual to be absolutely adorable. I put my free hand on his butt and pushed him further up my body.
"Here, let me help." I sighed as I guided his needy dick straight into my mouth.
Out of all the things I've ever needed to do in my line of work, giving a blowjob to a twelve-year-old while handcuffed to a pipe wasn't the weirdest.
His dick wasn't anything special, really. Though it was notable because it was smaller than any of the other dicks I'd sucked before, which made sense because Damian was only twelve.
He smelled of sweat, but it wasn't rank or anything like an adult after some heavy workout--or sex-out. Instead it was this lingering air of damp warmth that had hints of saltiness and the barest traces of something sour. I guessed that the taste of a sweaty twelve-year-old's dick was as much a delectable mystery to my tastebuds as an exotic delicacy that rich men would salivate for, like caviar. The difference is, boydick didn't cost hundreds of dollars, and it didn't give you a nagging sense of buyer's remorse.
Damian's slick glans slid in and out of my mouth like a well-oiled machine on rapid autopilot. It twitched randomly and scraped on the roof of my mouth. I did my best to bathe his shaft with my tongue and tease his slit--he really liked that, judging from his high-pitched moans--but even I was having a hard time keeping up with his fastpaced mouth fucking. This kid was crazy with sex, and crazy-fast at it, too.
"Ahhhhh..." Damian groaned. I could tell that his mind and body were wracked with desire, young as he was. Even more so perhaps, because his body wasn't that well equipped yet to handle my intoxicating pheromones.
He continued to thrust in and out of my mouth like a cute bunny in heat, but I could tell that it wasn't enough for him. He gripped my shoulders tighter, his nails digging into my skin. His face scrunched up like he was concentrating on a particularly difficult math equation. He was so worked up that he was breathing audibly through his mouth. I briefly flirted with the thought of his lips on my own steadily hardening member, but I waved those thoughts aside. Right now, it was Damian's moment. It was all about him, and I intended to make it a moment worth remembering.
I placed my free hand on his sweaty torso, and he stopped with a feverish look on his face. Then I reached around his bottom and pushed, driving his dick fully into my mouth, until my nose was flat against the skin of his bare crotch. From there I pursed my lips and used my prodigious expertise with my tongue to slather every square inch of his dick with spit and love. I slowly pulled my head back, my tight lips pulling at Damian's shaft like how you'd slowly pull apart two halves of a sandwich with sticky jam in the middle. Then I quickly leaned in and engulfed his shaft to the root once more, bombarding the tip with a flurry of licks.
Damian writhed and mewled like a hapless little kitten. I like cats, so I decided that I liked the way he reacted to one of my world-class blowjobs. But then, I knew that it still wouldn't be enough. When it comes to blowjobs, there are two kinds of guys. The first was the kind that would definitely cum from just being given some good head. The second kind was a little more complicated...they'd reach their absolute peak of pleasure--short of cumming-- for an indefinite amount of time with their dick inside someone's mouth. Their high wouldn't go away, but they wouldn't cum, either. They'd keep begging for climax, but they wouldn't be able to get it during the blowjob. They had to be overstimulated by something else, and usually, that meant needing to finish themselves off with an extravigorous handjob.
I could tell that Damian was the latter. He was one of those lucky guys who wouldn't cum, but could instead keep on experiencing their maximum tolerance for pleasure for as long as they were getting sucked. That also meant that he was just about going nuts trying and failing to cum. I decided to give him something better than a lame handjob, though.
"Guuuhhh...ohhh...!" Damian purred.
As I continued to slurp on his twitching boydick, I traced his spine with my finger, sending a shudder down his back. My fingers reached his bottom and I wedged them into Damian's crease. Instinctively, he lifted his butt to give me easier access.
I used my pointer finger to tease his small hole, massaging it around the rim. I kept making little circles until I slowly wiggled it inside. Damian shuddered again and whimpered.
I knew that it wasn't his first time to have something inside his ass. He'd made it quite clear that his uncles had often made him the receptacle of their sexual frustrations in the past. But I was willing to bet that this was the first time that he'd wanted it--that this was the first time someone had cared enough to tease his hole and make sure it was ready to be played with. This could be the first time that anyone had cared enough about him to make sure that he wasn't going to get hurt. It's hard to express what I felt right then...but it mostly involved wanting to hold Damian close for the rest of my life.
My pointer finger slid in two inches...then three. I wiggled it around some more, making Damian's butt clench around it. My dick got hard at the thought of those cheeks clamping around my rod just like they were doing to my finger. But it wasn't time for that--not now.
I twisted my finger around and pushed it in some more, and before I knew it, my finger was fully buried inside. His waist shimmied and he sat down in my finger, as if non-verbally telling me to get more of it inside. I obliged by pulling my index finger out and doing the whole process again with my middle finger.
This time, I knew I'd found his spot. When my finger lightly pushed on that corner of Damian's insides, he breathed a throaty `Uhhh!' and thrust his dick deeper into my mouth, almost making me choke. But as quickly as the lust had overtaken him, he stopped. He looked mortified at what he'd done and at the retching noises that I'd made, and pulled his dick out. He was about to apologize, but I shook my head and gave him a look. He didn't need words from me to understand that it was okay, and that I wanted to do this. He nodded, and then thrust his stiff boydick between my waiting lips.
We settled into a steady rhythm of me bobbing my head on his shaft while I teased his prostate from behind. His breathing was replaced with soft, husky moans with every pump. His dick twitched almost every other second by then, so I knew he was close. If I didn't let him cum now, it might actually hurt him.
With a fluid motion, I jammed my finger up his hole as deep as it could go and pressed his love button. Damian gasped as the air left his lungs. His dick thrashed around inside my mouth, desperately trying to spew out cum that didn't exist yet but I eagerly suckled on it anyway--I couldn't help but find the effort adorable. Damian's face looked extremely shocked, as if a dam had exploded inside him. Then his shoulders sagged, and all that was left on his face was a smile. After that, he slid with a shudder to the mattress beside me, and promptly passed out.
I wasn't long behind him. My eyes felt like lead and my neck felt like it had cramps from bobbing up and down Damian's dick so vigorously. My only regret was that I'd forgotten to ask Damian to remove the handcuff on my other hand before he fell asleep. My vision went black.
I had vague memories of a pleasant dream. I guess it was the `sex' kind of pleasant because I woke up in the middle of the night with a very exposed and very stiff dick. I felt flushed like I'd just cummed, and it turned out that I'd done just that. Next to me was Damian, his gentle sleeping face still splattered with my love juice. Had he been giving me head while I was asleep?
I moved to wipe his face clean when I realized that my other hand was finally free from the handcuffs. I smiled wearily. I cleaned Damian up and wrapped him in a hug, just as sleep came back to claim me.
KEEPING MY PROMISE
The plan was relatively simple. It was one of those shower thoughts that would come to you during your idle moments, which in my case was going out to shoplift some soap and toothpaste for me and Damian. I needed to reach Doc back at the agency and arrange an extraction. But with my IGlasses destroyed, there was next to no secure way that I could contact him, except for one unlikely way that I'd willfully forgotten.
When I'd arrived at San Francisco a few days earlier, I'd done it strapped onto a portable jetpack that Doc called the Falcon. I'd just remembered that Doc had mentioned something about it having a locator of some kind. I figured that I could maybe use it to contact the agency, and finally rescue Damian--assuming that the cleanup crew hadn't already retrieved the jetpack.
The next morning, I told Damian the plan and suited up. I told him to wait for me while I traveled back to the airport, snuck inside, and secured our evac. He was reluctant to let me leave him, but I gave him my word. There was a tense moment when he wouldn't let go of my hand and I remembered what he'd said before--that he was afraid that I'd leave him to fend for himself. I reassured him as best I could.
"I promised, remember?" I'd pointed out. "On the river Styx and everything."
"Yeah, and if you break a promise sworn on the Styx, you're going to die a horrible, gruesome death," he'd replied helpfully.
I was quite glad that I didn't live in the fictional world where he'd gotten that thought from.
Getting back inside the airport was relatively easy. Despite the heightened security, I was able to return to the rooftop where I'd left the Falcon, and I only had to scale five walls and shoot dead three CCTV cameras to do it. With a sigh of relief, I saw the jet pack still lying there, forlorn and forgotten, just the way I'd left it.
I turned it over and found a small panel with touchscreen controls. It displayed bars and numbers representing the jetpack's status and other data I didn't care about at the moment. It was currently out of fuel, something that I privately thought was a good thing. One of the options read `RETRIEVAL' and it had an option for typing in notes for the cleanup crew. I hastily entered the address of the condo in the limited space, hoping and praying to every deity I could remember that the cleanup crew would be able to decipher this as a desperate plea for help and tell Doc about it. Supposing that the crew got my message the instant that I'd sent it, they'd be scrambling a team right about then. At most, they'd take an hour.
I got back to the condo thirty minutes later, and I instantly knew something was horribly wrong. There was a van parked just outside it--the same van that I'd seen at the airport that had spewed out armed terrorists, the same one that had chased us through San Francisco.
Our assassins were back to finish the job.
Two of the men were leaning on the van. They'd ditched their tactical uniforms and were now dressed in more casual wear, no doubt to blend in with the crowd. Then again, most mall goers didn't have submachine guns slung across their chests. One of them was sporting dark-tinted aviator glasses, an open polo shirt with a Hawaiian motif, cargo shorts, and open sandals. His burly friend beside him wore a black leather jacket, a white shirt with brown stains, a pair of ratty jeans, and a nasty scowl.
Further ahead, where the condo's main entrance would have been, was another one of the thugs barking at a walky-talky. He had a blonde ponytail, a purple pinstriped button-down shirt, and dress pants. At his feet, I could make out the sprawled form of the condo's lone security guard.
I muttered a curse. How the hell had they found us? And why now, just when we were about to be rescued?
I gathered my wits about me and analyzed my predicament. The three that I'd spotted were just lookouts. Some of them were already inside the building searching for Damian. I couldn't understand the language they were using, but I could sense the frustration and urgency in the gunman's voice--they hadn't found him yet. I still had time.
I steadied my breathing. Inhale. Exhale. From where I was crouching behind a tree, I slipped my spark gun out of its holster. I peeked from behind the trunk and aimed.
Ponytail guy went down first. He collapsed to the ground in a heap, writhing and foaming at the mouth. His eyes rolled up inside their sockets even as his limbs twitched and jerked. One of the guys by the van heard him and went to check the noise out. I fired again and he fell face-first onto the pavement, blood from his forehead mixing with the pool of drool and spittle beside his face. The third gunman realized that they were being attacked. He subsequently smacked against the side of the van courtesy of yours truly, convulsing violently like a defective marionette. These electric bullets were really growing on me.
I rushed inside, gun at the ready. I checked each corner as I made my way up to the third floor where our room was, where I'd told Damian to wait. Nothing greeted me other than the drumbeats of my panicked heart. I climbed one staircase, and then another. Every doorway seemed like a bomb just waiting for me to pass by before it exploded. Even so, I kept my cool. Damian was in danger. Nothing else mattered.
I peeked inside our room when I finally reached the third floor. My mistake was, my emotions had made me forget the basics. Had I been thinking straight--and not worried sick about Damian's condition--I would've remembered to expect that a guard would be stationed I the place where me and Damian obviously stayed. I also would've remembered to lure him away, exposing his position, by throwing an empty magazine or something like that. Instead, I'd stuck my head in like an idiot, and gotten three gunshots for my trouble.
The man yelled in a language I still didn't understand. I was lucky that I was able to yank my head back just as quickly after he saw me. Three bullets bored into the wall opposite me, followed by three more shots. I think I'd spooked the guard. I flattened my back against the wall just beside the doorframe. I couldn't see my attacker, and if I stuck my head back in to see where he was, I'd just get shot at again.
Time for a new tactic. I unfastened my last remaining grenade from my belt holster--a harmless smoke bomb. Of course, the gunman didn't know what it was, other than the fact that it looked like an explosive. So when I chucked it into the room without actually priming it, he screamed a terrified curse--or at least I assumed it was a curse because that's what I would have done. That small moment of distraction gave me all the time I needed to rush in and shoot the guy in the gut. The shock bullet lived up to its name by instantly incapacitating the man, rendering him into a foamy-mouthed twitching meat sack for the time being.
I scanned the room--Damian was obviously not there. Aside from that, our mattresses were still on the floor and our burger wrappers and empty soda cups littered the ground. The boarded-up windows were torn apart, though, as if the gunman had thought that Damian could have been hiding by hanging outside the window frame. That could only mean that the boy had managed to flee upstairs. Seeing as the condo had never finished construction, its de facto rooftop was the open-air seventh floor, and I guessed that it was the only place Damian could have run to. That also meant that he was cornered up there. I retrieved my unexploded smoke bomb and pressed onward.
I literally ran into trouble when I climbed the staircase to the fifth floor. One of the gunmen was running down the stairs that I was climbing. Somehow, neither of us had heard the additional set of footsteps so we crashed into each other. The bald man only took a second to register surprise before he aimed his gun at my head. On reflex, I grabbed both his gun and his arm, and then twisted to disarm him. He growled at me as the gun cascaded down the steps behind me.
He shouted something that sounded quite angry at me in that foreign language. I still couldn't understand it. It didn't even sound like Russian, despite Doc commenting that their weapons were the same ones that were standard issue for Russian special forces. It sounded a little bit more...Polish or Dutch, though I couldn't tell which. While I couldn't understand his words, the punch that he threw at my face was understandable in any country. I parried and evaded his fists, but the narrow staircase made it awkward to dodge, and I ended up slamming my back against the wall. He kicked my right leg--painfully--and I fell to one knee.
I hissed and then flattened myself onto the steps, barely avoiding a kick to my chin. In response, I caught his leg and yanked it with all my might. With a howl, he tumbled down the staircase and lay still on the ground. I shot him with my shock pistol just in case--zapping him with a few thousand volts of electricity gave me that extra layer of reassurance. Also, it felt good. I took a few moments to compose myself--I was panting and sweating, and my leg felt bruised. None of that mattered now, though. Damian needed me, and I was willing to risk everything to save him.
The top floor didn't have any walls or a ceiling. The sunny morning sky loomed above me, causing the sea of half-finished pillars to cast shadows all over. Bare steel girders and coppery metal rods jutted out from the floor, and scaffolding with green safety nets were scattered around me. I raised my gun and darted in and out of the pillars. So far, it didn't seem like there were any hostiles up here.
"Damian!" I called out. "I'm here! I took care of the thugs!"
From a corner to the northwest--behind a pillar that was alarmingly close to an edge leading to a hundred-foot drop to the earth--came an anxious high-pitched voice.
"Six!" Damian squealed. He peeked out from behind the pillar and looked incredibly annoyed. "Where were you?"
"Arranging our transport," I replied apologetically. "How was I supposed to know they'd find us here?"
"How should I know?" Damian shot back. "You're the super-spy!"
I sighed in exasperation. "Well, let's get out of here. Our ride should be coming in a few minutes."
"I could have died in a few minutes," Damian grumbled. Despite his foul mood, he gripped my hand fiercely -- almost desperately - and I understood just how afraid he was. He'd just spent the last few minutes being terrified of abandonment...and of death. I was the one thing he wanted to hold on to, the last person he could ever trust.
Damian let go of me and walked wearily to the stairs while I trailed behind him. Finally, I thought, we were safe.
I had to make a mental note: in my line of work, never think that you're safe unless you're safely out of abandoned buildings and far away from vaguely European men with guns.
Just as Damian neared the stairs, another man emerged from below. He had a severe buzz cut that complemented the steely look in his eyes. He wore a checkered white shirt and fitted jeans. He looked almost like a high-school quarterback. But instead of a football, he pulled out a pistol.
Shock and panic made everything move in slow motion. Damian turned and ran back to me. Before he could take a few steps, the man fired. The boy I'd sworn to protect just a day ago tumbled to the ground and lay still, his right arm outstretched toward me.
"No...NOOOO!" I momentarily forgot that I had limited ammo as I shot eight times non-stop at the inhuman creature who'd dared to harm my friend. He dove to one side and hid behind a pillar, grinning like a maniac as he did. He peeked out of cover to trade fire with me, forcing me to hide behind one of the other pillars.
"So, you're the upstart everyone keeps talking about, ain't ya? Good job, knocking my men out," the man called out.
With a shock, I just realized that he was speaking English, and with a southern accent at that.
"How the hell did you find us?" I demanded, trying to see from the corner of my eye if he'd left his cover.
"We have ways," he offered, with what I could imagine was a shrug. "Thanks for leading the kid to this abandoned building. Less witnesses, you know."
"Who are you?" I shouted again.
"Me?" he answered mockingly. "No, I'll tell you who you are. You, my friend, are the one responsible for killing this boy. Aside from choosing a quiet lovely place for him to die, you also called him out of hiding."
I gritted my teeth as he continued. His voice sounded like he'd just switched positions.
"You passed by me on the fourth floor, you know. I just let you pass--you seemed a tad too preoccupied to chitchat. How gracious of you to find our well-hidden rat. Makes my pest control job easier."
My blood boiled. But then my anger let me focus--because I really wanted to shut the man up permanently, I'd devised a plan to ensure that I did. My anger became a need. My need became action.
I knew what he was trying to do. He was confusing me by talking and making me think that I knew where he was hiding. But all the while, he was changing his position, getting closer and closer to me. I had one very easy solution. This time, I used my smoke bomb for real. I primed the grenade and casually rolled it across the floor. After a short ignition, it began spewing out a heavy white mist that covered most of the floor in seconds.
"Cute trick--won't do you much good, though," the man grunted.
I had to thank him. The sound of his voice told me where he was. He wouldn't be able to move as much without being able to see where he was going in the smoke, so it was easy to quietly approach him. I'm pretty sure he felt my gratitude when I clocked him across the jaw.
"Uunf!" he grunted. He couldn't even see me coming. He staggered but he remained standing. Meanwhile, I'd already darted off.
"Why you little...!" he gasped, and then coughed as he inhaled a mouthful of smoke. By then I'd already positioned myself just behind his back. One very effective way of making people sit their ass down was to kick the joint behind their knees--gets you results ten times out of ten. I decided to let Mr. Buzz Cut Quarterback asshole experience it firsthand. He fell to his knees, his kneecaps making a dull thud on the concrete.
Before he could even think of a crisp curse, I pistol-whipped him across the face. To my satisfaction, I heard something crack. I kicked him in the stomach, and he doubled over, retching.
Above me, I vaguely registered the hum of a helicopter's propeller. Its rotors were gradually blowing the smoke away. I didn't care, though. I just kept on hitting the man, kicking him over and over again while he lay in a fetal position trying to protect his face and ribs. I kicked him until my toes hurt in my boots. I kicked him until my hamstrings felt as heavy as concrete. I kicked him until a hand on my shoulder yanked me away from him.
I found my face pressed against a chest clad in a white outfit and a lab coat. I felt a hand straddling the back of my neck and another stroking my back. Finally, Doc's voice started making sense to my ears.
"That's enough, Six, that's enough. I'm here. It's over...I've got you."
"Where's Damian?" I croaked, my voice muffled because my lips were pressed against him.
"We've got him. We're going home."
I only just noticed that a group of our agents was scouring the rooftop with the helicopter hovering overhead.
"Is he...?" The question died in my throat.
"You saved him, Six," Doc cooed. "You saved him."
I don't often indulge myself at the expense of others, but this time, I took a few seconds turning the front of Doc's shirt into a teardrenched, snotty mess.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
I never thought I'd actually miss the bare metal walls of the agency's corridors and its too-clean hospital smell. Yet days later, I almost wanted to press myself against the cold steel for an extended amount of time until I managed to get frostbite. Living in an abandoned building for a couple of days does wonders for your opinion of actually-furnished buildings.
Doc walked beside me as he swiped through his pad. I'd insisted on getting my debriefing on the way to see Damian in the infirmary, and Doc had consented--mostly because the first thing I'd say to him every time that I'd seen him for the past few days had been `How's Damian doing?'
"So, nothing on the gunmen?" I asked, continuing our conversation.
"Nothing, unfortunately--not even the autopsies revealed anything. No DNA or fingerprint matches either. They were definitely not Russian military, despite their equipment. It doesn't help that we can't interview any of them now..." Doc concluded with a deep sigh.
I was shocked when I'd found out that all of the gunmen that I'd fought a few days ago were all dead. After all, I'd been under the impression that my spark gun was non-lethal. But then the medical team concluded that they'd died from cyanide poisoning. Apparently, when the men had come to, they'd triggered cyanide pills in their molars as a last ditch tactic against capture. It was a feat worthy of Hollywood, Doc had said. But after that report, the worry lines on his late twenty-something-year-old face deepened.
"However, I've come up with a few theories..." Doc continued.
"Go on," I replied.
"Whoever this group was...they had equipment, trained personnel, and vested interests. The only way they could have found you was if they'd intercepted your distress call by reverse engineering the remains of your IGlasses. Based on their staffing, they aren't aligned with any one country, as far as we know. They've also taken pains to ensure that we'd mistake them for Russian troops. Either it's purely for misdirection...or..."
Doc paused, as if weighing his words.
"Or...?" I asked.
"This might just be because of my overconsumption of Hollywood spy flicks," Doc began, "but I believe there's a possibility that it might have been a deliberate effort to raise tensions between us and Russia. Our PR guys are working overtime trying to defuse the rumors."
"Are you saying that they could be another spy outfit...like us?" I ventured cautiously.
"I'd like to think I'm crazy," Doc admitted. "But I'm too smart to be wrong."
"Even when you don't want to be right, you still sound like a pompous ass." I elbowed Doc in the ribs, earning a half-laugh and a half-`ow' from him.
"So what are the PR guys gonna call all this craziness?" I asked. We were almost to the med bay where Damian was staying.
"The attacks were attributed to a non-existent group of militant neo-nazis," Doc replied airily. He seemed amused. "That's not true, of course, but it was quite believable, and the left ate it all up. They'll take it from there. Personally, I love seeing Washington squirm, trying to placate the public while trying not to piss off their rightwing supporters."
We passed through the med bay doors and into a huge white operating theater that looked almost as big as an actual Broadway theater, at least I thought so. The main room branched off into a handful of others, but everything inside looked white and sterile, and nearly every wall was lined with monitors, robotic arms, computers and other equipment with names I couldn't even pronounce. The ceiling was a maze of titanium and glass pneumatic tubes, pipes, and wires that went in every direction, and every so often you could hear a puff of air or the gurgling of liquid inside them. This was the same place where Doc and his crew had put me back together after my accident, all those months ago.
"Officially, all the Tayirs died, including Damian," Doc said as he sat on a nearby couch. He patted the seat next to him. Personnel in white hazmat suits saluted him as they passed us by.
"But he's okay, right?" I asked hopefully.
"There were complications," Doc admitted, but he didn't look bothered in the slightest, even as my face fell. "His spine was injured, so he lost all mobility to his legs.
"What...?" I gasped. The shock of what I'd just heard rendered me speechless and I imagined that my face was as white as the med bay walls.
"Before you elbow me and break one of my ribs in the process again, let me finish," Doc said. "One of our med guys, Dr. Lester Papadopoulos, suggested that we use this opportunity to field-test one of their new body augmentations. Damian consented, of course. If successful, his mobility would have been restored."
"Did it?" I asked frantically.
Suddenly, a voice piped up from just behind my head.
"What do you think, you jerk?"
I jumped off my seat in surprise and wheeled around. But I actually had to look up to see the voice's owner.
Damian had apparently been above me, standing on the wall so that he looked like he was actually hanging from it. He was naked from the waist up, exposing his childish torso. He wore white fitted leggings that barely hid faintly glowing lines on his legs beneath it. Faint silvery lines from his arms led to his spine and extended down to his legs.
He gave me an impish upside-down grin, and then jumped off the wall and landed in a sloppy roll in front of us. Damian smiled at Doc with a little wince as he rubbed his elbow, and then smirked at me.
My eyes narrowed at Doc. "Hey, you were in on this, weren't you?"
Doc offered me an apologetic shrug. "Damian said that he wanted to startle you, so he asked me to pretend that I didn't know he was already hanging on the ceiling when we came in."
"Worth it," Damian grinned, and then he stuck his tongue out at me.
"As you can see, Six," Doc explained, "the augments worked perfectly. Damian now has bio-cybernetic implants on his spine and throughout his limbs. Apart from restoring mobility to his lower half, this allows him to walk and run on any surface using electromagnetic adhesion, and increases the strength of his skeletal frame to support his weight when hanging from those surfaces, as he so skillfully displayed. It enables stealth infiltrations that require unconventional entry points."
"That's...actually pretty cool," I admitted. I gave Damian an approving look.
"What it does not do," Doc said disapprovingly, "is to make your bones unbreakable. Seriously, Damian, you barely got out of the operating table and you're already trying to break yourself again."
"Sorry, Doc Johnson, I'll work on my rolls," Damian promised. Then he turned to me.
"I might actually be better than you now," Damian boasted. "I bet you can't teach me anything that I don't already know!"
"Doc," I asked with confusion. "What's this about?"
Doc beamed at me, which confused me even more. "Damian is officially dead to the world now. But as the only wielder of one of our latest technological advancements, he could be a valuable asset. Sort of like you, Six."
"You're not saying...?" I couldn't finish the thought because my smile was too wide for me to form coherent words.
Damian sidled up next to me and coddled my arm. He gripped my hand tightly the same way that he had back when we'd been on that condo's rooftop, battling for our lives.
"You guessed it," Doc said with satisfaction. "Damian is our newest agent at JEEP. Say hello to Agent 70."
I stared at the younger boy beside me. I'd never known how happy I could feel until that moment.
"We figured it was time that you had a contemporary that you could mentor in your missions," Doc continued. "You'll take good care of him, won't you, Six?"
"Oh, he will. He promised me that on the threat of an excruciating death," Damian chirped enthusiastically. "Now, if you'll excuse us, he's got some mentoring to do." Damian then yanked my arm, dragging me out of the med bay doors.
"Uh, should I even bother to ask?" Doc looked extremely baffled and somewhat amused.
I shook my head at Doc before Damian dragged me outside. He ran down the corridor, still gripping my hand and forcing me to match his pace.
"Hey, man. What's the hurry?" I asked.
"Let's go to your bunk," Damian ordered. "I've been in that stuffy med bay for almost a week now and I kinda, well...missed you."
"Wow." I smiled at him. "I didn't think I'd hear you say that."
"Well, don't get used to it," he smirked. "Now... which way is your bunk?"
I led the way and when we got there, Damian closed the door locked behind us. He bounded past me and landed on my bed, settling on a crossed-legged sitting position. I sat next to him.
"Mentoring session, eh?" I asked with a bemused smile. "You're laughing now, but who said that you're gonna be the teacher?" Damian scoffed. He gave me a pointed look, and then we both burst out laughing.
After getting my breath back, and allowing a brief pause to let the humor subside, I asked, "Are you okay? Like, with everything. With me, the agency, the way your...uh...life just changed in an instant?"
"It's a lot..." Damian admitted.
Behind his thoughtful gaze I could plainly still see a young boy using his cheerfulness to mask how overwhelming this change has been.
"But," he continued, "My legs work and I can stay with you. That's what matters."
"You really want to stick with me?" I asked again, but I was already smiling. I was so stupidly happy that I couldn't hide it from showing on my face.
"Well, between you and being in a wheelchair, I was already looking forward to my wheels when they mentioned that they gave you free chocolate. That sealed the deal," he replied with a mischievous grin. I elbowed him in the ribs. He giggled and elbowed me back. There was a silent pause that we spent just sitting beside each other and holding hands.
"Thanks, Six," Damian said softly. "Thank you for staying with me. Thank you for saving me. I can't ever thank you enough for giving me back my life."
"It's not mine to give," I insisted. "Look, I saved you, but that doesn't mean you're indebted to me. Your life was always yours. You don't have to be my partner just to pay me back."
"I'm doing this because I want to do something for you," Damian said. "Doc told me all about you, how all this time you've been alone and you couldn't have friends on missions. I wanted to change that. I can be your friend for real."
I still couldn't believe how lucky I was right then. I didn't think I deserved Damian. It felt too good to be true, so all I could say was, "Why?"
"I don't need a reason, do I?" Damian grinned. "I just want to do it and I don't care why."
"It's not fair you keep using my words against me," I said. "It's like I can't ever question the things you want to do."
"Pretty much," Damian smirked. Then, quite unexpectedly, he leaned over to rest his head on my legs. It would have been an endearing gesture if he wasn't facing my crotch, with his nose already pressed against the bulge of my dick.
"Before you say anything pointless again," Damian piped up from between my legs, the vibrations of his voice tickling my skin, "I never got the chance to try sucking yours. I want to, and I know you want me to, so it's a win-win for both of us, yeah?"
I just gave him a dumbfounded grin. After all that had happened to us-- and after the rush of happiness and excitement I'd just felt just then--I really didn't know how else to react to Damian's plan. Well...one very stiff part of me did. It was the part that told me that I was in for one, long, sweaty, and hot mentoring session.