My entry into the latest Spixie Flashfic Contest. Anybody who's familiar with this format knows that there's supposed to be "Five Times BlahBlahBlah", but I only managed four in the time limit. Unbeta-ed, as usual, so please point out any mistakes.
My prompt was: "What is the worth of one single person?" and it developed into this.
Kidnap You In the Summertime
Four Times Damian Spinelli Saved Maxie Jones—And One Time He Didn't
That Time On The Sidewalk
He wondered if it would be way too conspicuous for him to whistle while he walked. Or if he skipped. As it was, there was a definite hop to his step and the ladies working at the Metro Court boutique had given him odd looks because he was smiling so wildly. The fact that he'd just missed the Moxious Maxie leaving her place of occupation didn't deter him in the slightest. He was sure he could catch her at Kelly's.
His back stung from where her nails had scratched into his skin, but damn did he feel better than he'd ever felt in his life. Nothing in his existence, no fantasy he'd ever fantasized could have prepared him for spending the night with Maxie. It had been the night of all nights and nothing could bring him down from this high.
The fact that it hadn't just been one night made it all the more amazing. It had been him, stuttering out his feelings, and her, cautiously admitting that she felt the same. Felt the same! Like maybe she wanted him at least a half as much as he wanted her, which was awesome. Which meant they were…something. Together.
"Oh glorious Zeus, many thanks for this--," Spinelli froze.
Heart in his throat, Spinelli sprinted around the corner. Maxie, he thought. He knew that shrill emotional voice anywhere.
Maxie, his Blonde One, his tiny, uncontrollable Maxie, squirmed uselessly against the bulky form of some heinous villain. From a few feet away, Spinelli saw her eyes spot him, wide and scared and suddenly hopeful.
"Stop worming around, bitch." The ogre snarled, his huge, dirty hands covering Maxie's mouth and most of her face. Spinelli saw red.
"Get away from her, fiendish devil!" he cried, and launched himself at the man.
Common sense would have told him that he, despite his awesome jackalness, would be better off thinking about his actions rather than just jumping on a man decidedly bigger than him.
Before he found himself flattened against the nearest brick wall, he saw his Maxie's pretty form pushed away. Thank god, he thought, as the guy's hands wrapped around his throat.
Then he thought I'm going to die. I'm going to die. I'm going to die, while he scrambled to claw at the huge, grimy hands trying to crush his windpipe. The Jackal, P.I. destroyed before he even reached his true prime, before he showed the dastardly beasts of darkness that stalked the night the error of their ways, before-
And then there was life. He sank to his knees, gasping, and the lug fell next to him limply. Maxie dropped her weapon of choice, a trashcan lid, and crouched next to him, speaking in panicked tones. "Spinelli? Oh my god, Spinelli, are you okay?" She spotted a woman leaning out of a shop door, and shrieked at her to call the police.
"You saved me." Spinelli wheezed. "Magnanimous Maxie, action hero."
Maxie chuckled, high-pitched and false. "Are you kidding? You saved my life."
Rubbing his throat, Spinelli let her clutch onto him. "To be honest, The Jackal doubts killing you was the vile cretin's goal. "
"That's just as bad." She sniffed and pulled back to wipe at the sudden wetness on her cheeks. Spinelli tucked a stray strand of hair out of her face and she looked at him with wide, frightened eyes. "Hey, it's okay now." He assured her quietly, as police sirens blared closer.
That Time With The Heart
"Oh." Maxie said across from him, sounding surprised.
Spinelli dragged his eyes away from his laptop screen slowly, still typing. "What?"
The small blonde gripped the edge of their table, a strange look on her face. "I—nothing." She took a deep breathe and straightened up in her chair. "I just felt dizzy." She explained when she noticed his eyes on her.
"Dizzy?" he repeated. "Does that not worry you?"
"No. It's been happening a lot lately." She said dismissively. Spinelli shut his laptop. "A lot?"
"I thought you were a jackal, not a mimic." Maxie remarked.
"Well forgive the Jackal for being distressed by the Wounded Blonde One's health problems when she herself is not!"
"Spinelli." Maxie groaned. "It's not a problem. It's probably just stress. I've got a ton of work at the boutique and I haven't been sleeping very well lately."
Spinelli closed his eyes. "Dare the Jackal ask why?"
"I don't know." Maxie sounded annoyed. "I've just been having trouble breathing, it wakes me up. I'm probably just having nightmares I can't remember." She pulled her coat on and glared at Spinelli. "I've got stuff to do, call me if you find something important."
Spinelli watched her leave, eyebrows furrowed in thought. He slowly opened his laptop.
Leo turned, halfway through the process of plugging earphones into his ears. 'OH. Hey, uh…Spiccoli, right?"
"Spinelli ,actually." The young man fumbled to a stop before him, looking around furtively. "The Jackal was wondering if he might consume some of your time to ask a few questions?"
"Uh…" glancing at the clock, Leo shrugged. "Sure man, I've got a few minutes."
He led the other man to the sitting area. "What's up?"
"Well, uh…"Spinelli ran his hands through his hair. "Just—for clarification—I'm not too savvy on the subject. The Jackal is only questioning due to his worry for the wellbeing of The Wounded Blonde One."
The doctor shook his head. "Woah—What are you talking about?"
"The Wounded---Maxie." Spinelli said. "She has become my...friend, of sorts."
"Maxie Jones?" Leo repeated, and Spinelli nodded. "What about her?"
"It's just-" Spinelli looked uncomfortable. "Would you promise to not inform the Wounded Blonde One of our conversation?"
Leo gave him an odd look. "I promise to keep my mouth shut if you promise to get to the point."
"She—she's been having some health…peculiarities." Spinelli rushed, "And—and she doesn't find them terribly alarming, but the Jackal is most alarmed given the condition of-of her heart."
"What kind of peculiarities are we talking about?" Leo asked, interested peeked.
"Dizziness, trouble breathing, chest pains." Spinelli elaborated. "These, these are serious problems according to the online health guidelines. Are-aren't they?"
Leo scratched his stubble. "Yeah. They are. Why hasn't she come in? I'm her cardiologist."
"Which is the precise reason I came to you, in particular. The Wounded Blonde One has mentioned you with the highest regards."
"I'm the best." Leo assured him. "And I know Maxie is more than aware of the signs of heart problems."
Spinelli sighed, fidgeting with the clasp of his laptop bag. "In her defense, a lot has happened lately. I—I don't think she is in a correct state of mind."
"Wow." Leo said, shaking his head. "Listen, kid, thanks for telling me. I'm going to call Maxie in for a check-up, okay? And I promise not to tell her we had this talk."
Spinelli nodded, looking relieved. "Most gracious thanks, Dr. Julian."
That Time Maxie Almost Loses Herself
What has she got left?
All she can think about is all the things she's had and lost. It's like the universe is trying to teach her some lesson on appreciation that she never quite catches in time. Like there's some great cosmic joke being played on her that she hasn't figured out the punch line to.
All she can think of now is that the house is empty. Mac is at work and it's a Saturday morning and Georgie should be downstairs watching the news. Maxie wanted to be able to get dressed for a day out with Coop, go down and banter with her sister, and leave the house knowing she had something to return to.
But she didn't. And there hardly seemed a point to anything anymore.
Maxie slowly tracing her fingers over the bottle of pills.
The doorbell rang. Maxie jumped, dropping the bottle. She rubbed a hand over her face, using the edge of her sleeves to wipe her eyes while she walked downstairs.
There had been a time in Maxie's life when, had she opened her front door to find Spinelli on the other side, she would have said something insulting and slammed it in his face. Btu those days were long past and now she simply stepped aside to let the quirky young man in.
"Good morning my Snarky Partner in Justice!"
"Spinelli." She greeted him, and noticed the cautious way he craned his neck to look around. She rolled her eyes. "Mac's already at work."
"Ah, good."Spinelli sighed, relieved. With a sudden enthusiasm, he bounced on the balls of his feet and grinned at her. "Can you guess what news the jackal comes bearing?"
"You're going to let me pick out your new wardrobe?" the blonde asked, half-teasing.
"Never!" he swore, but smiled at her cheekiness. "I," he announced, with a flourishing hand gesture," the Jackal, am now a certified P.I.!"
"You passed the test?" Maxie asked, and found herself smiling. "That's great, Spinelli."
"Indeed." Spinelli acknowledged. He cleared his throat. "And the Jackal was wondering—if the Wounded Blonde One is not so busy on this lovely morning, perhaps she would like to accompany the Jackal for a celebratory breakfast?"
Maxie thought of her empty bedroom. Of the painfully empty bedroom near it. The whole house, empty. She wasn't sure what she'd do if she had to spend another minute in it. "Sure. But you're paying."
That Time The World Exploded
"Stop tugging at it!" Maxie sighed, pulling his hands away from the collar of his suit.
"But it is most…awkward.."
"I already told you. You look cool." She said, a reminder that warmed Spinelli's heart.
"And it is not everyday that the Jackal receives compliments from the most Helpful and Appreciated Blonde One." He said, stepping away from her. "But if we're going to find these devices of destruction, it is crucial that the Jackal have free reign of movement!"
"Speaking of which, can't that computer tell you where the bombs are?"
Spinelli tapped on a few buttons, just like he'd been doing for the past several hours. "Unfortunately, no. They could be anywhere on the docks."
Dragging her hands over the grimy walls of an old fishing shack, Maxie growled irritably. "Diego is such a freak."
"The Jackal feels that is an understatement." Honestly, Spinelli couldn't understand the want to hurt so many people. He ran a hand over his face, beginning to feel the hopelessness of the situation. "I think you were right. We need to leave and tell the police, there's no telling where and when the bombs are going to go off."
"Finally you listen to reason." She said, giving him a pointed look. "Let's get out of here."
She took a step back. On the other side of the peers, the cannery exploded.
Spinelli quickly shoved Maxie to the ground and threw himself on top of her. Around them, the building collapsed. Tremors from the explosion shook the earth and the old walls crumpled around them. Beams and bricks fell like rain.
The world was suddenly very quiet and dusty. Beneath him, Spinelli felt Maxie take in a long, shuddering breath. He slowly lifted himself up.
Maxie's blue eyes stared up at him. Spinelli swallowed thickly.
"Are you okay?" he whispered.
She shifted beneath him, turning her head to look at the rubble around them. In the place she'd been standing, large pieces of ceiling laid broken and scattered. "I guess," She finally said, "there's no point in looking for the bombs now."
That Time On The Phone
His fingers had actually itched to call her number. This information was so huge, so astronomically important . Even if she was mad at him for that reason he didn't quite understand, he still had to call her. He hit the speed dial for the Wounded Blonde One and bounced in his seat while he waited for her to answer.
"What?" her voice snapped, annoyed. He grinned to himself. It lightened his heart to hear something so familiar.
"Maxie?" He asked purposefully.
"What is it Spinelli?"
"I have some most grievous and startling news." Spinelli sighed. He relayed to her the news brought to him by the volatile Elder Baldwin, working out the words around her excited exclamations. The Crabby Commando, innocent.
"This sucks. I've got to tell Sam, she probably has no idea that freak's still on the loose!"
"Just—be careful. If the Unworthy One is indeed innocent of these particular misdeeds then the true heinous one is still at large and therefore a threat."
"Well, I'm outside her apartment now. And I'm definitely taking a cab back to Kelly's."
Mentally, Spinelli calculated a round-about amount of time until she'd arrive. Certainly not longer than he'd planned on hanging around anyway. "I will see you then, my associate." He told her, happily. She'd apparently forgotten whatever great annoyance had caused her to storm out earlier, which was a plus for him. When his brain caught up with his mouth he hurriedly explained, "We-we can talk about other suspects."
He could almost hear her rolling her eyes. Fondly, he hoped. "Yeah. Bye, Spinelli."
"Bye." He sighed.
Spinelli opened his laptop with a renewed sense of energy. While he sat in Kelly's waiting and searching for more information to share with the Wounded Blonde One, Maxie knocked urgently on the door to Sam's apartment.
And behind that door, Diego Alcazar smiled.