“Come with me if you want to live...” The man crouched down beside Linsey as the bullets flew over the top of the counter.
“What...?” Linsey flinched as the top of the counter disappeared in a hail of automatic weapons fire.
“Come with me...” The man shrugged and punctuated the last words with shots from his gun back over the counter. “If...you...want...to...live...”
“What’s the hell’s going on?” She looked up at him as he turned and switched the clip in his gun.
“Well...” He paused in his shooting to look at her like she’d missed the most obvious thing in the world, “If you stay here, they’re going to kill you, so...”
“I’m Davidoff,” He grinned as if he were looking at her over morning coffee, not preparing to dive into a hail of bullets, “They sent me here to get you out...”
“Out of what...?” She flinched again as the second set of bullets smashed into the counter. “Wait, Davidoff? Like the guy on TV?”
“The very same,” He looked down and grinned, “So you’ve heard of me then?”
“Yeah, but you sell perfume...” She looked puzzled, “Not rescue people.”
“Never seen the ads where I rescue people?”
“Yeah, but they’re...commercials, aren’t they?”
“What do you think?” Davidoff smiled and tilted his head sideways, his dark eyes flashing with a wry humour as he looked around the room again. He palmed a sphere from his jacket pocket and tossed it over the top, grabbing her hand and throwing himself backwards, both of them falling down the stairs leading down to the basement. There was a flash and a clap of thunder as the counter disintegrated into a shower of wood and plastic and Davidoff stood, pulling open the door on the other side of the basement.
“Come on,” He grinned down at her, his hair unruffled, no dust seeming to have touched him. “We have to go now.”
He stepped up into the light and held his hand down towards Linsey, the light framing his head like a halo for a second. He beckoned once and she reached up to take his hand, feeling his strength as he pulled her out of the basement.
“What’s happening?” She looked around as the smoke rose from the other side of the building where the blaze was now raging.
“Well, You took something from someone you shouldn’t have done, and now they think that you did it on purpose.” Davidoff shrugged as he turned back, his eyes twinkling as he smiled at her, holding a small mirror in front of her face, “And given what you look like, I’d be thinking the same as they are.”
Linsey looked at her face, the lines of the bones under her skin were clear, the skin looking almost translucent over them, but more than that, the curves looked more angular.
“What’s happened?” She brought her hand up to trace the lines of her face.
“Well, I know you were only taking what you needed to survive,” He shrugged and grinned, “And they probably do as well, the difference is that I’m here to get you to safety, and they, well, they only want to get it back for themselves.”
“Who are they?”
“We call them Lost Property,” Davidoff’s grin got broader and he cocked his head to once side, “They specialise in getting things back, particularly when those that have them don’t know what they’ve got. Do you still have it?”
“I...yes...” Linsey reached into the top of her shirt and fumbled around for a second before bringing her hand out holding just the empty chain around her neck, “It was right here...”
“Well, that would explain your face then,” Davidoff nodded, “Took it more than an hour ago?”
“About Midday...” She checked her watch
“So you’ve had it enough time for it to know it likes you...”
“Likes me...” Linsey looked at him in shock, “It was a necklace...”
“Not just any necklace,” Davidoff looked up as the sound of running feet could be heard on the south end of the Alley, “Come on, let’s not give them any more help than we need to.”
He walked north without haste, as if he were walking a pet rather than running from hunters, turning left at the end without waiting to see if she was following him. She caught up to him a few metres down the next street.
“So where are we going?”
“Well, first step is to get you to a safe place,” Davidoff turned left down another street and then left again, coming nearly full circle to where they had been.
“We just came from here,” Linsey looked at him.
“Wait here a second.” He lowered his voice and leaned into the side of the alley, pushing her back behind him as four people wearing black body armour walked past the entrance to the alley.
“He came this way,” One of them said, their voice distorted by the mask, “And not long ago...”
“How did he find out about her...?” the one at the rear said, “We only just found out.”
“Who knows,” The first one shrugged, “Bloody Davidoff, always where we don’t need him to be.”
Davidoff waited a second before nodding without noise and walking out into the alleyway, looking to the north where the four were just turning the corner.
“Good,” He turned back with a grin, “Now we go the right way...”
“Thought we were going the right way...” Linsey pointed to the north in confusion
“We went exactly the way they thought we should,” Davidoff smiled, “And now they’re going to have to wonder if their tracker isn’t working when it brings them back around here. Come on, not far to safety now.”
“Where’s safety?” Linsey followed him, still looking behind her every few seconds.
“Safe house just around the corner,” Davidoff nodded, “It won’t throw them off for good, but it’ll be enough to keep you safe till we get reinforcements out here.”
“So what did I take?” She followed Davidoff on to the street and glanced in the shop window to see that her face had become even more angular than it had been a few seconds ago.
Davidoff stopped a woman in the street and spoke quiet words to her for a few seconds, the woman unwound the scarf on her neck and handed it to Davidoff, nodding without noise. Davidoff turned and handed Linsey the scarf.
“Wrap it around your face to hide what’s happening,” he nodded.
“What did you say to her?” Linsey watched the woman walking away.
“I just said that our need was greater than hers.” He smiled and shrugged, turning and walking down the street again.
“And she gave you it?” Linsey followed on, her head feeling a little fuzzy.
“I can be persuasive,” Davidoff grinned, “Come on, no time to waste.”
Linsey wound the scarf around her face and walked alongside Davidoff, “So what did I take?”
“Something experimental,” Davidoff nodded, “I don’t know the details of it, but I’m given to understand that it’s something to do with a new drug they’re testing.”
“And they are...?”
“One of the big pharmaceuticals,” He glanced back, “I can’t tell you which one, but they don’t intend you any harm.”
“How do you know?”
“Because if they did, I wouldn’t have been talking to you,” he half turned and a rogue smile lit up his face, “Come on, half a block to get there.”
They were a hundred metres down the road when a shout echoed behind them. Davidoff turned and looked at Linsey, pointing down the street to a Blue Van as the four figures came out onto the street behind them.
“Get In that,” his voice calm and even, “I’ll hold them here.”
“What about you?”
“This is what I do,” He smiled and nodded backwards, “Go, been fun knowing you Linsey.”
Linsey nodded, turning and running as the sound of gunshots split the air. She ran down the street and jumped into the back of the van, looking back to see Davidoff crouching down in the side of the street as the other four ran towards the van. He glanced back and waved before diving out to tackle the first of them to the floor. The doors closed and Linsey felt the van start up, accelerating away at reckless speed.
Back on the street, Davidoff stood up and helped the leader of the four up.
“Nice job,” He grinned, his hair still not out of place. “They’ll take her the rest of the way.”
“Don’t see why they needed you,” The second looked at him in disdain, “We could have got her.”
“Yeah, you were doing real well when I turned up,” Davidoff smiled, “What was the plan when you saw her, open fire and hope that she didn’t have too many bullets in her when you got to her?”
“We didn’t hit her,” The second shook his head.
“More by luck than judgement,” Davidoff grinned, “Now if there’s nothing else...?”
“We’re better than you.” The smallest of the crew looked at him
“Yeah...But I’m prettier...” Davidoff grinned and nodded to the leader, “Be seeing you Jim.”
“Yeah, later Dave.” The leader nodded and turned back to the others, “Come on, time to go.”
“We could have got her,” The second looked to the leader, “Why did they send him?”
“Don’t you watch TV?” The leader set off down the road. “Everyone loves a good guy, he turns up and they think they’re in one of his adverts, no muss, no fuss.”
“So why call us in then, why not just send him?”
“Because without us, he’s just another pretty face,” The leader grinned, “You can’t rescue a damsel in distress...”
“Without causing distress in the first place...”