A Little Help From My Friends
Disclaimer I still don't own them.
Category Adult themes and inferences.
Synopsis First in a Beatle's song title arc. During the course and aftermath of a particularly, bad day, Don realises there are a lot of people he can count on.
Don knew he was in trouble the minute he stepped out on the gantry. The rusty metal shifted beneath his feet and gave an ominous groan. He was already a third across it, forty feet up in the air, propelled forward by speed and momentum as he chased full pelt after Coulton. The walkway swayed for a moment as Don came to an abrupt full-stop. Coulton had already reached the other side and was about to head down the iron stairs.
Too late to turn back. He could only go forward. The gantry moaned beneath him. Don picked up his speed again and sprinted as fast as he could. A pigeon narrowly missed his face, startled by the abnormal activity. It flew up through a hole in the corrugated roof and out into the blue sky above. Coulton turned at the top of the stairs and popped off a couple of shots at him. Don stopped and crouched as low as he dared, and luckily, the bullets went wide.
"Freeze!" Don straightened up, and stepped forward. He had Coulton's back in his sights. He steadied his gun by using both hands. It was clear Coulton didn't plan to play nice.
The rending iron gave a final groan and the world went to hell in a hand basket. The walkway disappeared out from under him as Don slid down into the abyss. His grip on the gun was first thing to go as he scrabbled to hang onto the railings. It bounced off the edge of the conveyer belt, spiralling down into the factory below.
The Glock wasn't all that was bouncing. Don's skull smacked the side of the gantry. For a moment, he almost lost his grip as he joined Larry out amongst the stars. A jabbing pain shot through his hand. A fingernail, torn down to the quick. It did him one hell of a favour and cut through the fog in his head. Don clung onto the jagged metal for dear life and waited as the dizziness abated. The gantry swung ten degrees to the right and he got a good view of the ground.
'Holy mother of - ' Don looked down and wished he hadn't.
He was dangling fifty feet up in the air with solid concrete below him. There was nothing but the gantry to cling on to. Nothing underneath to break his fall. Just thinking about it gave him vertigo. He was feeling light-headed again. If he lost his grip or the metal gave way, he didn't much fancy his chances. There was nothing very pretty about a fall from a height, especially, not onto a hard surface. The high velocity impact of flesh and bone left a nasty mess to clean up. Don hooked his fingers through the holes in the mesh and prayed that it wasn't too rusted. The metal was friable and cut into his flesh.
He tried to recall the date of his last tetanus.
"Don, can you hear me?" It was Megan's voice. Urgent and slightly concerned. "Agent Eppes, report on your position. Do you have the suspect in sight?"
Crap, he'd forgotten about Coulton. It was excusable, under the circumstances. Don raised his head and looked up at the gantry. Coulton hadn't forgotten about him.
"My my, Special Agent Eppes. You seem to be in a bit of a predicament." Coulton stood, pointing a gun at him. His face was twisted into a grin.
"I'm inside the building." Don decided to ignore him and spoke to Megan instead. It seemed the more sensible option. "I'm in trouble." It was a slight understatement. "The gantry I was on collapsed. Coulton has a gun on me. I repeat – he has a gun on me. Copy?"
"Shut-up!" Coulton knelt down carefully and aimed 'said' gun in Don's face. "Ain't no need to tell them where you are – they'll find what's left of you soon enough. When they're scraping you up off the floor."
"They'll find you too, Coulton." Don toughed it out. Coulton was an arrogant, red-necked bully. "We have the whole place surrounded. Do yourself a big favour and haul me up. You're not walking out of here a free man."
"I copy." Megan said, in his ear. "Hang on, in there, Boss-man. Help is on the way."
"Very funny," Don grunted back at her. Did she really say 'hang on, in there?' Talk about gallows humour. She big-time owed him a beer. He wiggled his fingers and tried to anchor his grip, but Coulton was watching like a hawk.
"If it wasn't for you, I'd be long gone." Coulton moved his foot forward. He lifted it slowly, with cruel deliberation, and placed it on top of Don's hand. "It was you, always after me, always nosin' around. You soured things up for me again, Special Agent Eppes. I shoulda known after the first time. You and your buddy, Cooper, you fixed me before. When I lit outta Ohio State."
"Yeah, well, know what? I fixed you again." Don tightened his hold in anticipation. Either he'd hit his head pretty hard, or there were three Coulton's up on the walkway. He tried very hard to focus his eyes. To combat the menacing dizziness. So much for worrying about tetanus. Don had a feeling it was the last of his concerns. "Trust me, you knock me off this gantry, you'd better hope you have really good veins."
Coulton pressed down a little with the toe of his boot. "Know what, Special Agent Eppes? By the time they get around to catchin' me, let alone sentencin' me to lethal injection, you're gonna be nuthin' more than a nasty stain on that concrete down below. You a kike? You look like a kike. Better start sayin' your prayers."
The pain in his hand was intense now. Don's fingers were being slowly crushed. He closed his eyes and increased his grip. Dear God, it was so hard to hold on.
"Coulton, don't be an idiot." May as well hope for a miracle. "You won't even get as far as the door. You kill me and you're finished. My people are all over this place."
"Now, that don't sound like no prayer to me. Not unless you Jew-boys do things different." Coulton shifted his stance a little and ground down with his heel instead.
Don gave a yell of agony as a couple of knuckles popped. If he hadn't hooked his fingers through the holes in the mesh, he would have been forced to let go. He couldn't last for much longer. His biceps were trembling with strain. The thump in his skull was beating a tattoo. He was having a really bad day.
Uh-oh. He looked up into Coulton's face and knew it was going to get worse. The man's body language had altered. He was tense and on sudden alert. Don thanked the Lord for small mercies as the pressure lessened on his throbbing hand. His relief was short-lived, however, as Coulton pointed the gun at his head.
"Reeves," Don knew his time was slipping away. Rather like his grip on the walkway. A red-brown fog hazed his vision. Perhaps he had rust in his eyes? "Tell me you have a visual?"
"Confirmed," she answered, softly. "Just a few more seconds. Hold on."
"Time's up, Agent Eppes." Coulton's voice was sardonic. "Guess I shoulda known from the beginning. It was always gonna end, just you and me."
"Coulton," Don's fingers were uncurling. They felt stiff and sticky with blood. "Come on, man, use some intelligence. This is your last chance to do something decent or my people will fry your ass."
For a moment, Don thought he had him. Coulton appeared to waver. Something flashed like lightening over the other man's expression. There was quite a bit of history between them. A bond which was almost symbiotic. The unique and terrible relationship which exists between a hunter and his prey. It was the second time Don had hunted Coulton down. The first time had been with Fugitive Recovery. Now, it seemed fate had turned the tables. This time, it was Don at his mercy.
"Step back and toss the gun down." It was Sinclair from the top of the staircase. Don could hear him, but he couldn't see him. He could just about pinpoint his voice. "Put your hands up where I can see them."
"Better do as he says," Don pressed home the advantage. If they didn't haul his ass up quick, in a few seconds, it would all be relative. His hands were losing their grip on the mesh. The concrete shimmied below him. There was movement and then he saw Megan. She was standing with several other members of his squad, their faces turned up and concerned.
'They have every right to be,' he thought, crazily. 'Wouldn't want to be in their shoes if I fall off this thing. Wouldn't want to clean up the mess.'
"Put the gun down, Coulton. Step well back from Agent Eppes." David sounded more urgent now.
The gantry gave a threatening groan. 'Not good. This was so not good.' The structure shuddered and the whole thing jerked, as it tilted down another few feet. Don felt a surge of panic as his left hand was shaken free. He groped for some kind of purchase, and just managed to grasp the edge of the girder. The walkway was swaying like a leaf in the wind. No time. They had run out of time.
"There ain't no alternative. Not for you – not for me." Coulton was talking to him again. He flipped the gun around in his hand and started to raise it like a club.
Everything happened too fast after that. Don barely registered the blow. He was too busy hanging on for dear life as the gantry jolted again. His hands were being sliced to ribbons. Torn and shredded on the jagged steel mesh. A bullet ricocheted off the girder beside him, showering sparks a shade too near his cheekbone. Other shots, fired in quick succession - must be from David's gun. The walkway creaked around to the right and Don slipped down another foot or so.
Something struck him hard across the shoulders. A heavy, glancing blow. It shook his left hand free again and swung his body around. Coulton. It was Coulton. Don's gut lurched as he plummeted past. The idiot had refused to put the gun down, and Sinclair had been forced to take him out. A couple of seconds later, Don heard a sickening crunch.
He closed his eyes and refused to look down. In a second or two, he'd be joining him. Don was lost in a welter of desperation and pain. He knew he was going to fall. His fingers were deadened and useless. Like salami, swollen and numb. And worse, even worse, was the pounding in his head. A death metal rhythm section.
"Don!" Megan pulled him back sharply to the land of the living. "Hold on, don't you dare let go!"
For some reason, it struck him as funny. Or, maybe, he was already hysterical. He'd just dropped through the chute at the end of Cloud City and Megan was mad with him. His hand slipped a little further. There was a loud roaring in his ears. "Better bring around the Millennium Falcon. I think I'm losing my grip . . ."
"Oh, no you don't, Luke Skywalker." A strong hand caught hold of his wrist.