Disclaimer: Don't own anything to do with the movie Collateral. I only own Victoria.
Summary: I just can't believe that someone like Vincent could die that easily. Like he said, "I do this for a living." So here's my take on events after the credits rolled. I just saw the movie yesterday, and this work was composed at about 2 in the morning, so if it's a little disjointed, that's why.
He had no soul.
She looked into his eyes. Clear blue. Eyes were windows to the soul. His shone, but were empty. Like the sun reflecting on blue glass.
"Vincent. Sit down before you fall down."
Slowly, he obeyed. He was not the kind who ever obeyed, not when it wasn't fully within his own willpower, or an action he had already intended. Still, it sounded nice. Like she had some small kind of control.
"Got shot in the chest," he said, his voice low, calm. She could hear his breathing was slightly ragged.
"Grazed a lung," she said.
"Lucky if it's just that. Wouldn't have made it back here if it had done more."
"How did you get back here?" She didn't waste her time just chatting. She was already preparing to clean him up. Hot water steaming in a tall ceramic bowl, clean washcloth ready. He did not lie down. She wasn't sure if she should ask him to, but as she approached, her fingers nimbly undoing the buttons of his shirt, revealing the wound underneath to be much uglier than she'd thought. It was low, which was lucky. Maybe it only had bruised one of his lungs, then her greater talents wouldn't be necessary.
"What do you think?" he asked, still very calm, looking not at her but at some vague spot on her shirt. Any other man would have been looking at her cleavage. Sometimes she wondered if Vincent's equipment was fully functional - if he had a package at all.
"I think you should lie down." She reached over, pulled one of the thicker, heavier pillows off the couch, shoved it against the side of the bench, and he gingerly laid down, making sure he was upright enough to still breathe. She peeled the rest of the shirt away, quickly taking off his silver-gray suitcoat and sliding it out from under him before he landed. The shirt would stay on until he grew tired of smelling his own dried blood. Vincent was not comfortable being nude in her presence. Even half-nude.
Quietly, she began her work of cleaning him. He was quiet as ever, feeling nothing, even when she had to pry down to pull the bullet out. He clenched his muscles, his entire body quivering as if an electric current had been shot through him, but he did not scream, did not even whimper in pain. And thankfully, he did not pass out. When she was done, she cleaned the wound and handed him a bottle of Jack Daniels. He took small sips, just enough to blanket himself. His endorphins had probably long since kicked in, creating in him a sort of "runner's high." She could see from the slightly glazed look in his eyes.
The stitches were a bit tricky, but the hole was not large, and the blood had clotted quickly. She almost shook her head - the man didn't deserve to have the kind of healing system that he did. But then again, a man without a soul had to make up for it somewhere. A body like a machine seemed a good start.
"Sleep, not that you will, will help," she said, putting all her used materials into the hot water and bagging all the bloodied gauze for tossing. She pulled away from his reclined form for a moment as she worked and he did not bother her, but as she stood up, one of his hands grazed her forearm.
"Thank you, Victoria," he said, his eyes meeting hers.
"Don't thank me, pay me," she said, knowing it was just part of their routine.
She had met Vincent many years ago - she'd lost track of how many. She'd lost her license, not because of any gross malpractice, but because she'd pissed off the wrong people. She'd only been a doctor for a few years and already all of that went to waste. She had medical school loans to pay. Then word came down the pike that the man she had attempted to put in jail - a child molester, from what she'd seen on his victims, and a very wealthy and powerful one at that - was dead, shot to death, execution style, in his own home. The killer was like a ghost, in and out, not a single trace. There were two other deaths, and then a cabbie shot himself in the head. All the evidence had said that the cabbie was the shooter, but the man had been driving a cab for fifteen years, and had been known as being utterly reliable and unshakably stable.
Of course, that was just in the papers. Who knew what truth there was in journalism these days? She'd been burned by journalists more than once, knowing that freedom of the press was half myth, half what sold papers. Her scorched career was proof of that.
Having little other choice, she'd taken a job in a less-than-respectable establishment, treating wounded drug dealers who couldn't go to the hospital. She lost her taste for that quickly, set up her own little private practice and got something of a reputation - she would up treating more criminals, but these criminals were willing to pay for her silence. Eventually, she was hired by a very high-up mafia tycoon, to be his own personal physician. He even arranged for the return of her license. Then, Vincent had shown up.
She was just leaving her boss' house that night when Vincent arrived, sliding through the shadows like a gray ghost. She hadn't seen his face, only caught the slightest blur of his movements before she'd heard the quiet popping of a silencer and instinctively knew that her current employer was dead. She wanted to go back, wanted to see, but that was when all hell chose to break loose.
The bodyguards put a valiant effort into eliminating Vincent, managed to get a bullet into his leg. In a haze of gunfire and the smell of blood, she found herself taken hostage, a human shield for whatever other bullets got too close to him. Eventually, she was locked in a room with him, and had asked him if she could look at his leg. Not because she cared so much about him, not because she thought it might buy her life, but because she couldn't stand to see a creature in pain, any creature, even one as cold and diabolical as this one.
By the time she'd patched him up, he had figured out a way to escape. She half-expected him to kill her, but there wasn't any real purpose for him to do that, as he so plainly told her. He'd thanked her, asked her name.
"Victoria Potter," she said.
"Thank you, Victoria," he said, before slipping out a window and disappearing completely.
A few months later, he'd shown up at her office in the middle of the night - she only kept night hours, for the sake of her clientele - with a rather ugly wound through his arm. The bullet had passed through completely. He'd lost a lot of blood. She'd had to nurse him through the night, but she did it, and when he was better, he paid her well.
Since then, she saw him from time to time, needing patching. His network of scars was starting to read like a map across his body. Being only a human woman, she could not help but admire his body, as strong and muscular as it was, arms, legs, torso, everything. And the color his hair, that silvery-gray that sometimes turned into a white-gold in the right light, was possibly what truly got her. She was a bit of a sucker for silver-haired foxes, although he was hardly much older than forty.
But he had no soul. He was empty inside.
A long time ago, she'd been a good person, trying to fight the good fight. She'd made some bad choices, hadn't made sure she was protected, and bang, she was working for the bad guys. It wasn't right, she knew it wasn't right, but she felt stuck. Half of the money she received went to charities, her way to attone for her sins. She lived in poverty by choice, refusing to relish the fruits of her illegal labors. She was not a criminal - she merely worked for a criminal.
Vincent was only one of a dozen who passed through her office in a week. Why was his presence so affecting?
He was resting, had been doing so for about an hour since she'd finished with him. She would have offered him a more comfortable spot, but knew he wouldn't take it.
"You know, some people have the respect to call me Dr. Potter," she said, snapping off her latex gloves and throwing them in the trash.
"What were you doing?" he asked, ignoring her comment.
"Disinfecting some of my equipment," she said. "The stuff you messed up."
"It takes you that long to pour alcohol over some metal tools?"
"Your blood at clotted in some places. It was a bit of a mess. Plus, I like to make sure things are sterile."
To her surprise, he chuckled. "Sterile instruments for the wicked? You're trying to save the lives of people that God would rather let die? Not a God-fearing woman, are you?"
She opened her mouth to reply, then closed it, turning away. The silence stretched.
"Neither am I," he said. "I don't really believe in God, but I'm painfully aware that most other people on the planet do."
"I am," she whispered.
"A God-fearing woman."
He raised his head a little. "Funny way to show it."
"Is this when you start rambling about how we're specks of dust?" she asked, attempting to restore her own levity. "How none of us matter anyway?"
"I already went through that speech a few times tonight," he said.
"Ah, so that's why you got shot."
To her surprise, he chuckled. "Touché." he said. "No, actually, I was shot by a cab driver."
She turned around, leaned against the tall lab table. He didn't talk much about his work - it was a given, what he did for a living. She'd treated enough assassins to know they all had the same general look about them. He was like an archetype for the species, however, and he fascinated her in spite of herself.
"A cabbie? How did he manage that?"
There it was - the classic cut-off. She turned away. "It was a long night, I guess."
A distinct pause filled the room. Traffic could be heard buzzing nearby. She heard him let out a small sigh, and mutter, "I really hate L.A."
When she'd finished cleaning up after him, she went over to check the stitches. As she gently lifted up the gauze and examined the wound, his hand reached up and covered hers.
She stopped. It was not like Vincent to touch people. As a doctor, she had a natural ability to read people, and that was the first thing she'd picked up about Vincent right away. Every movement was stiff, controlled, calculated. He did nothing without knowing its exact result. Like a chess player, almost, only more aware of the consequences.
"I let that fucker shoot me," he said, his eyes on the ceiling, his fingers still lightly resting on the back of her hand. His voice wasn't angry, but there was a distinct note of annoyance in it.
"You let him?" she asked, her voice equally mild. "How did you manage that?"
He considered, and for a moment she was sure he wasn't going to say another word to her. Then, moistening his lips, he began to speak.
"The cabbie who drove me tonight had a business card wedged in the visor of his car. A woman he'd met earlier, a lawyer. I asked him if he was ever going to call her. He wasn't sure. Then, after we...parted ways...he caught up with me again when I went to go see her."
"You went to see her?" she whispered.
"We had business," Vincent stated simply. "But the cabbie got in the way. He could have been killed a dozen times, I could have shot him when he shot me, but...that didn't stop him. This woman he was terrified to talk to, he was willing to risk his life for her."
Victoria waited, silent.
Vincent twitched, something like a shrug. "I don't know. Maybe it was the fact that neither one of us had any bullets left, or that I was shot and didn't have the strength to do it bare-handed, but I let them go. There will be hell to pay later, but I let them go."
Victoria frowned. "That doesn't sound like you."
"No, it doesn't," he agreed. Another twitch-shrug. "I'm sure I'll have a change of heart later. When I'm feeling better." He turned his eyes on her, gave her one of his smiles that almost made her believe he was human. She gave him a half-smile back.
"Until then, you need bed-rest," she said. "Or your business days are over. You want me to call a cab for you? Take you to a decent hotel?"
"No," he said, not too quickly. "If I have to stay in this town, I'd rather stay here." Very matter-of-factly, nothing to give away why he might feel that way, if he felt at all. "If you don't mind."
She doubted it would make a difference if she did. "Whatever you say, boss."
He chuckled. "Got anything more comfortable than this table?"
"Nothing more than the waiting room couch."
"I'm sure you keep it immaculate."
"I don't let criminals bleed on my furniture."
"Good." He lifted himself up, slowly, painfully. She helped him, her arms gently around his shoulder and chest. He managed to get one of his arms around her neck for support, and made it to the couch.
"Just don't make any noise," she cautioned him.
"Don't worry about me. I'm just a silent little speck of dust."
Somehow, she doubted that.
A/N: So what do you think? Let me know that you like it and I might continue. I'm not sure where it will go, but I'm sure I'll think of something. Already a few ideas are brewing...just hit the purple button down below!