I do not own the rights to the movie "Collateral".

The lights came back on. Max unclenched his eyes. To his surprise, he could feel no bullet wound.

He could still see Vincent, bleeding from his jaw, still holding his weapon and keeping it trained at Max. Max tensed, expecting Vincent to pull some surprise move.

Vincent ejected the magazine out of the stolen guard's pistol and reached in his back pocket for a replacement. It wasn't until his empty hand reached the pistol grip when he realized that, for once, there was no reloading. He looked furious, as Max could observe. He glanced down on the ground, looking contemplative, looked back at Max through the shattered glass, and sat down on the metro seat.

Max eased his way into Vincent's compartment, keeping his weapon trained on the eerily calm killer, barely noticing that his own gun was also empty. Max carefully sat down on the seat facing Vincent. His beating heart skidded down to its normal routine, as the adrenaline supply to his body slowly ceased.

It was then that Max finally realized he could put his gun down. Vincent showed no signs of posing a threat; he simply sat there calmly, though it was not the same type of calm he had previously shown throughout the evening. Instead, Vincent was looking at the ground, apparently as surprised as Max was at the turn of events, trying to figure out what had happened. Vincent pulled open the right side of his jacket to reveal the unmistakable stain of blood. His face betrayed his irritation at what had happened. There was no question that Max, an everyday Joe, had succeeded in this duel where Vincent, an expert killer, had failed. It should have been different. Max should have been on the floor with a bullet in his head, just like the jazz man and the man in the club. And yet, here they were, just two men sitting on the metro facing each other, as though it were just another ride, just another night.

Annie cautiously came in and slowly sat down next to Max. She never took her eyes off of Vincent, the man who had very nearly murdered her twice, once in her office and then again on the train.

Vincent looked as though he were struggling to understand how this had happened. He broke into a smile and quietly laughed. "We've had one hell of a night, haven't we, Max?"

Max didn't say anything. Instead, he just gave Vincent a strange look. This man was bleeding from his jaw and gut, sitting facing both the man who shot him and his intended target, and he was laughing it off.

"Don't…don't worry about that hit. We're almost to the…the next stop," Max replied, still a little breathless from the exchange.

Vincent laughed again, wincing in the process. "This? Ah, I've had worse." He glanced at Annie, then turned back to Max. "Wow, she's even more gorgeous than her picture." Annie paled. Max still said nothing. Then, with a pained expression, Vincent reached into his jacket and retrieved a small roll of bills. Smiling, he tossed into Max's lap. "Here's the rest of what I owe you. Take her somewhere nice, show her a good time."

Max looked up and almost gave him a questioning look.

Vincent nodded to him. "Remember what I said, life's too short."

Max nodded back uneasily.

Vincent paused, looking down, and then glanced back up at Max. That charming smile of his was gone. He had deflected the reality of the situation as much as he could. Now, however, the bullet in his gut, and indeed his own mortality, were both starting to weigh on him.

"Got a question for you, Max. Answer me truthfully." He paused, either because he was afraid of the answer, or it was getting harder to speak. "A man gets on the MTA, dies." He paused again. "Think anyone will notice?"

Max almost felt shocked by the weight of the question. He knew what Max was really asking. He silently nodded.

Then, with an appreciative smile, Vincent dropped his head over his chest, and died.

Max sat back and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He felt so many conflicting emotions right now that he wasn't even sure what to say or feel. Annie, on the other hand, kept a wary eye on Vincent.

The train rumbled to a stop at the present station. Max stood up and gently brought Annie to her feet, trying to keep his eyes away from the opposite seat as he guided her out of the train and slid his hoodie over her frail frame. Then, as an afterthought he turned back to Vincent's still form. The one man who, in one night, had forced Max to confront the shadows of his own soul, just as Max had done to him. Now, just as he had appeared in Max's life, he was gone.

Max realized he was still staring as the doors closed. He started to guide Annie to the curbside to hail a taxi. He tried to ignore the irony in this. He turned and looked back one last time at the man in the box.

"See you around, man."