A/N - revisions Aug2015: Minor editing. Translations included at bottom.


Chapter 2

Sparks

The car was just a '97 Nissan Sentra, rusty, dinged, and full of factory standard parts, but it was hers. She spent all her free evenings with it. Every little bit of maintenance the previous owner had neglected, cleaning up the filthy engine, upgrading systems to racing quality when she could, and refurbishing the original factory parts to resell, she did herself. The entire previous week she had spent hunting down a short in her electrical system, which had been giving her all sorts of hell since she had bought the damn thing. She even had plans to pop out the dents, get some filler resin, borrow a power sander, and rent time in a paint shop to turn the faded baby shit yellow into a vibrant orange.

Needless to say, when some stupid punk thought he could make some quick cash by breaking her window, slipping in, and trying to hijack her ride, she got a little angry. Letty ran up to the shithead still trying to hotwire her car, grabbed him by his shirt, pulled him out, and threw him into the chainlink fence of the parking lot. She reached into her back seat, picked up the breaker bar she had snagged from a dumpster that morning. Snarling, she turned around and swung. By a hairsbreadth, she missed the punk's head, clipping the fence and sending sparks flying.

The guy took off running, yelling about the loca puta chasing him. She had almost caught up with him when she was jumped by two of his hermanos. Her pipe flew out of her hands, clattering across the cement even as the two guys wrestled her to the ground, spit, fists, and curses flying freely. Letty managed to get in a few good hits. She broke one guy's nose and knocked out some teeth from the other before the first punk grabbed her and helped hold her down for the other two to really lay into her. Stars burst in her eyeballs as pain blossomed like unwelcome dandelion weeds in middle class white Americans' lawns. Her brain teetered on the edge of explosion. She might have blanked out.

After blinking and realizing her face was on broken, gravel strewn concrete, Letty struggled to sit up. Her blurry vision noticed a fuzzy figure planting its foot in punk number one's face. The blur was holding its own against all three, spinning, punching, and dodging like Jet fucking Li. No, wait, make that two punks. One of them had landed ass first beside Letty, drooling like a sedated asylum patient. He promptly passed out. Letty managed to stand and yell a warning to the blur when yet another thug appeared, wielding a small, yet very capable of killing the blur, handgun.

There was a brief pause and abruptly, the blur, which was sharpening into the shape of a woman, had her left side along the gun owner's right, left hand gripping his wrist, and then her right hand was breaking his jaw with a brilliant punch. The guy dropped to the ground, along with the gun. Ms. Jet Li went on to kick the last two thugs' asses. An unlucky pothole twisted her ankle and gave the thugs an unexpected advantage. Letty swore about bad luck.

As fast as she could, Letty swiped the gun, checked its readiness and shot out one thug's knee. Giving his hermano, who was screaming and rolling, holding his destroyed knee, a brief glance, the last remaining asshole stopped and stared at Letty's slightly shaky grip on the gun. Letty sneered and jerked her head, indicating he should run before she decided to test her aim again. He ran, and Letty swayed on her feet.

A pair of hands steadied Letty, and an accented voice with an Australian lilt spoke English to her. "Those bushrangers ought to think twice now 'bout trying to steal cars from lovely women."

Letty grunted agreement after she spit a glob of blood and saliva at the piece of trash still moaning about his knee. She heard police sirens as the woman started walking them to Letty's Sentra.

"Give me your keys. I'll drive seeing as you can't barely keep it together."

"Ain't givin' nobody my keys, so back the fuck off." Letty snarled at the stranger, shoving her away.

The woman sighed and steadied her as she swayed yet again, forcing Letty to consider that she might have a concussion. "You don't remember me, do you, Letty?"

They were just beside her car, the sirens closer, the punks starting to get up and hobble away, when Letty squinted at the woman's face.

"Desert road, you almost killed me when I was trying to flag you down." The Australian said.

Memories of a pleasant afternoon spent waiting for a tow invaded Letty's head. "Shannon?"

A full smile replied to that. "Ace! You do remember. Now, give me your keys unless you want to deal with the boys in blue."

Her wobbly brain turned that to 'deal with blue balls.' She scowled. "What?"

"Police, you bloody Yank."

Letty's legs tried to fold underneath her, causing her to curse, and then Shannon caught her by grabbing bruised ribs, making Letty cry out. "Maybe I shouldn't drive." She gasped, fished out her keys from her pocket, handed them over, and allowed Shannon to get her into the passenger side. Once Letty was strapped in, Shannon practically flew to the driver's seat, slammed her foot to the clutch, turned the ignition, and shifted into gear like a veteran. Tires squealing, they pealed away right as the cops showed up.


Dull thuds woke Letty from sleep, and her eyes fluttered open and shut several times in the dim light of an unfamiliar room. She sucked at her teeth, licked her lips, and swallowed her foul tasting spit while her mind woke up. Under the red light of a neon sign streaming into the room, it appeared that she was in a cheap hotel room. A too deep breath had her hissing in pain from her protesting ribs. Letty began taking stock of everything that hurt, from her face to her toes, noting a massive headache, split lips, sore muscles everywhere, and ribs that lanced pain to her skull with every deep breath. Satisfied with her overview, Letty next looked to see if she was in bed alone.
Short, tangled dark hair was on the pillow beside her, with a slender neck leading down to broad shoulders. A dragon tattoo on the left side was exposed by a dark tank top. Letty reached out, and her fingers traced the serpent's body. "Shannon," she whispered and pulled her hand back to press it against the thudding pulse in her temples. Groaning, she pulled herself into a sitting position on the edge of the bed. Her vision swam, and she steadied herself with one hand on the headboard.

When she could see again, she saw a glass of water, a plate of crackers, and an open bottle of ibuprofen on the bedside table. Shannon's thoughtfulness brought a smile to Letty's lips, despite the pain of the pulled scabs. Carefully, she sipped the water, popped two pills, and nibbled a couple crackers, very glad that she did not have to attempt opening the childproof bottle or rip open a plastic sleeve. Feeling slightly better a half hour later, Letty found herself staring at what she assumed to be the bathroom door.

The sound of shifting fabric, and the dipping feel of movement on the springy mattress alerted Letty that her rescuer was awake.

"How ya feelin', love?" Shannon's voice was froggy with sleep.

Hand to her ribs, Letty twisted to look over her shoulder. "Like I just got t-boned by a snot nosed, wet behind the ears racer."

Shannon combed the hair from her face and smiled. "Been in many crashes?"

"A few." A spike of pain stole her breath, had her gasping and hunching over until gentle hands on her shoulders were carefully massaging, easing the clenched muscles. "God that feels good." Letty leaned back into the touch, eyes open, staring at the curtains, thinking of another pair of hands that used to do the same thing for her. Shannon's hands were smaller, but just as skilled. Familiar warmth blossomed in her belly, traveled south, and raised her temperature. She closed her eyes for a moment and lost herself to the sensation, reveling in the attention long denied her. When a moan tried to rise up her throat, Letty opened her eyes.

"Help me up? I gotta piss."

Legs appeared next to her, then the hands were putting her arm over pale shoulders. "Ready when you are."

Once she was moving, it wasn't so bad, and she was even able to get herself down and back up off the toilet without calling for help. A dizzy spell caught her while she was washing her hands, and luckily, she managed to grip the faucet for support and keep her feet underneath her until it passed. The mirror reflected a lot of bruises on a woman who the world didn't give two shits about. She looked away.

There was concerned knocking on the door. "You okay in there?"

Letty stumbled to it and pulled it open, glad she hadn't latched it because that round knob looked seriously difficult. "Fantastic."

Shannon caught her when she stumbled without the wall for support. "Couch or bed?"

"Couch." It looked closer than the bed in the lamplight that Shannon had turned on.

When they got to the piece of furniture, Letty knew she would have collapsed to it if Shannon was not there, taking almost her full weight and carefully lowering her to it. Letty's ribs were more than thankful.

"Are you hungry? I've got some frijoles y arroz in the mini fridge." Shannon gestured to the little appliance with a microwave sitting on it.

"Nah, but I'm thirsty."

"I have lots of water and a pineapple juice drink." Shannon offered.

"Never had pineapple juice without alcohol."

"There is a first time for everything."

Letty pursed her lips and watched the woman retrieve the can, pop the lid, and pour its contents into two cups. Sitting down, she passed one to Letty and sipped from her own. Tasting the sweet juice, Letty thought about what had happened up until she passed out in the car. "Where did you learn to drive like that?"

The cup was set down on a side table. "I learned when I started doing things that ended up with me needing to disappear before the cops showed up."

"I've heard less complicated answers that actually explained shit. You gonna tell me you boosted cars, ran drugs, or you had a super fucked up home life?"

"None of the above. I snuck into places to take photos. Factories, warehouses, airports, mansions, pretty much anything that said 'no trespassing' and would get me shot at or the jacks called."

Letty pictured the woman running around a noisy factory with one of those expensive, clunky things like she saw on TV weddings and shit sometimes. Fleeing from the cops and getting shot were topics that she didn't feel like talking about at the moment. She changed the subject. "You looked like Jet Li earlier, tossing those pricks around. Crouching lesbian, hidden badass."

Shannon grinned shyly. "Thanks. That's the only reason I'm traveling alone. Mum put me in mixed martial arts classes when I was a little girl and refused to let me quit, even when I wanted to learn ballet. When I turned sixteen, I suddenly realized that the years of training had given me a fantastic body and a confidence that most of my mates lacked, so I never quit."

"Why the fuck are you traveling alone? You're too damn hot to not attract every lesbian and bi chick in Mexico. You probably have a long list of broken hearts Down Under too." Letty grinned at her dirty little joke.

The blush lighting up her cheeks was cute and expressive, but Shannon only asked a question in return. "You're a real treat for the eyes too. Why are you alone?"

"I'm not alone right now, am I?" Favoring her tender ribs, Letty lowered herself to rest her head on a warm lap. "Turn the TV on. I'm tired."

There was a Spanish dubbed version of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull on. It made Letty laugh too much at the ridiculous voice overs of an already bad movie, and Shannon changed it to a boring soap opera. Sometime before she completely fell asleep, Letty mumbled quietly. "Thanks for saving my ass."

A soft hand pet her cheek and then her hair. "I couldn't let such a nice arse go to waste."

Letty snorted and blearily watched people scream at each other on the TV, content in a way she hadn't been since before that damn truck heist went sour.


Aussie translations:

bushrangers – highwaymen

Ace! – something like 'Great!'

boys in blue – police

bloody – expletive like 'damn'

Yank – American

mum – mom (maybe obvious, but I'm being thorough here)

arse – ass

spanish translations:

loca puta – crazy bitch

hermanos – brothers

frijoles y arroz – beans and rice