Regrets

Beads of sweat dripped down Max's face as he ran through the train with Annie by his side. His heart pounded furiously in his chest. His stomach dropped the moment Max glanced behind him.

He's getting closer.

Max felt a pang of regret for allowing Vincent in his taxi shortly after Annie left; he hated the way he so easily manipulated him; it disgusted him when Vincent killed innocent people as a way of living. The murderous sociopath would feel no remorse, only satisfaction that his job was successful. And now, Annie, a prosecutor Max met only a few hours ago, was the hitman's final target. He oculd not let her become a victim of Vincent's insanity. She deserved better than that.

He could hear Annie struggling to control her breathing. Her stomach was strong as she said before in the cab, but her heart was tainted with fear. When they entered the final compartment, ANnie hid to the side, afraid of what terror awaited her. They jumped when they heard a familiar, enraged voice.

"MAX! THIS IS MY JOB!"

Max shuddered at the thought of death. Vincent would obviously kill him after all Max had done to him in these past few hours: shooting him in the ear, trying to save Annie, throwing away his briefcase, and making several escape attempts. After witnessing the deaths of Vincent's victims, Max would not be surprised that he would murder him as well.

He glanced at Annie's frightened face, and knew instantly what needed to be done. Max cocked his gun, moved toward the compartment door and aimed the weapon at Vincent.

It's between you and me, Vincent, Max thought. I won't let you harm, Annie. I won't let you kill her like you did to Fanning.

Vincent looked like a ghost as he stood behind the train door's window. The grey-haired assassin flushed with anger at the sight of Max. The blood from his ear cascaded down his neck. There was a determined, fierce look in his devilish green eyes that sent chills down Max's spine.

"It's between you and me," Max whispered.

Vincent aimed his gun, ready for the kill. Max prayed silently for a miracle.

Nobody heard the glass shattering or the firings of the gun, for few traveled by train that night, and most were on the other side. Max heard the whizzing of bullets fly centimeters past his head, yet he remained steady. Vincent stayed focus on his target, not flinching when a bullet grazed his neck. Then suddenly, there was a soft click and silence pursued. Vincent's eyebrows twitched. Max sighed with relief. A feelin g of hope rose in his stomach.

He ran out of bullets. Thank God.

"Vincent," Max said cautiously. "Lower the gun."

Max did not like the mischievious grin that slowly formed across his ghostly face. "You're going to tell me what to do?"

"Lower the gun," he warned.

"Or what Max?" Vincent said, stepping toward him. "Are you going to shoot me; put a bullet through me and go back to your pathetic livelihood?"

"Shut up," Max said. "And don't come any closer or I swear I'll shoot you."

"Unlike you, Max," he said darkly, the grin suddenly vanishing from his face. "I don't give in too easily to threats.

In a heartbeat, Vincent smacked the gun out of Max's hands with his fists and punched Max in the stomach, causing him to fall on his back to the hard floor. The assassin quickly pulled out an extra clip and placed it inside of his gun. Then he cocked it and aimed it at Max's head. Max gasped for air after having the wind knocked out of his lungs. He stared up into the barrel of Vincen't gun. He shot a bullet through Max's shoulder with one swift pull of the trigger. It was the most excrutiating pain Max had ever felt. He couldn't scream, for his lungs were still recovering from being knocked against the steel floor.

"Max!" Annie gasped in horror.

Max turned to her. He reached and clasped Annie's trembling hands. Her hand felt warm in his grasp; he never wanted to let go. The instant they touched, Annie had stopped shaking. She looked at him for a moment, and then realized Vincent was standing over her, his gun raised. Max could not breath as he looked into the assassin's dark, wrathful eyes and knew what would happen next. He screamed for Annie to run-to move-to do anything but kneel there and be killed. He couldn't understand why she wouldn't budge. He pleaded for Vincent to let her go.

Vincent ignored and fired.

Annie's face looked remorseful, almost peaceful when the bullet shot through her chest. Max watched in horror as her small, limp body collapsed onto the floor. Vincent took a couple steps closer, aimed, and fired two more bullets: one through the chest, the other through the head. He looked down at her without any trace of sadness on his exhausted face. A moment later, he noticed Max writhing on the floor, trying desperately to get up.

"Max," Vincent said flatly, "I dont think you realize how big of a hole you got me into. This is my job and I am hired to carry it out."

"Dont try to justify what you just did!" Max cried. His heart felt like stone sinking to the pit of his stomach. He could not take his eyes off Annie's lifeless body. "Annie! Please no, Annie."

"She's dead," the assassin said, picking up Max's empty gun off the floor. "It's probably for the best. She almost got you killed. Women. They have these charms taht make men do the most idiotic things like getting in the way of another man's work. You should be thanking me. Not sniveling on the floor like some pathetic infant.

"Bastard!" Max cried, his voice growing steadily weaker. The pain in his shoulder was unbearable. He winced.

"We're all insignificant. We all live. We all die. Sooner or later death will catch up with us. Annie Farrell was a lawyer; stress would have killed her eventually. I just sped up the process."

Max could not believe what he was hearing. He wanted to block his ears and shut out Vincent's justifications. He wanted to die, to finally be rid of this crazed sociopath. As the pain in his arm lessened, his vision became darker. Vincent stood over him, watching him with narrowed eyes. Max looked up at him, frowning.

"Good luck, Max," Vincent said. "You'll need it."

Before Max could reply, Vincent headed toward the subway door as it came to a stop. Max saw the assassin fade into the night before falling into unconsciousness.