I glance at Ricardo as we make our way through the remains of what was once Joyland, the most secluded hidden treasure belonging to the CIA.
Countless pieces of brick, wood, glass and plastic are scattered all around, along with corpses. I bet those fuckers from the intelligence agency never thought their golf course would serve as a grave for their fucking enforcers.
Even though this fucking place smells of death and blood and who knows what else, the vision doesn’t make me sick anymore. I don’t regret one damn bit what we did last night. I wonder if I feel this way because I’ve already crossed that invisible line where there’s no point of return. I wonder if I’ve already reached that place where there’s no turning back because I don’t give a damn about none of those fuckers whose bodies are spread all over the complex.
The bungalows are still burning, as are the helicopters. High columns of black dense smoke hovering above us, pushed by a soft breeze that seems to come from the east. The pavement surrounding the golf course is stained with ashes and dozens of rats and other small rodents are frantically running from one side to another. They seem to have trouble deciding which of these fuckers they are going to sink their teeth into.
Finally we cross the complex and we come to a stop as soon as we reach the area that surrounds the security perimeter of this damn facility.
I recognize this place almost immediately because we slid inside the complex right here last night. I frown slightly, looking at Ricardo as he drops the cigarette butt in the dirt, stepping on it.
“Don’t wanna start a forest fire.” He deadpans, arching a brow.
I chuckle at his words even though I’m still pissed off with him. I have to admit, I like his dark sense of humour. I remember that Vince’s was similar even though the coyote never was that sarcastic.
Vince. I don’t have a clue why all of a sudden I’m thinking about him. Maybe because William mentioned how he had used him; maybe because the more time I spend with Ricardo the more our friendship reminds me of my friendship with Vince.
The coyote sure as hell was a tough motherfucker and I can’t help but wonder what he would think about me if he could see me now. He sure as hell would quit busting my ass with that shit about he would always have more balls than me because at the end of the day I would still be a mushy asshole.
“Snake is no fool and he won’t run the risk of being blown into pieces.” Ricardo says, pulling me out of my thoughts, making me look at him. “He’s retracing our steps, going back to the beach.”
I narrow my eyes for a second as I look straight ahead, watching the high trees, vines, bushes and plants.
“How are you so sure?” I turn my head, meeting Ricardo’s gaze.
“Cause that what I’d do.” Ricardo replies as a matter of fact. “He’s around an hour ahead of us though. So we better get moving before he slips from our fingers.” He adds, and with that he pulls out two shivs and goes into the jungle.
I sigh hard and without thinking, I follow him, stepping in his footprints once more.
Even with the lead Snake has on us, he still can’t go anywhere. So I figure he will hide somewhere, laying in wait for us, or he would search for a way out of the island. But it’s not as if he has other options.
The closest piece of land is a private island called ‘Black Tears’ that belongs to some celebrity and it’s more than 40 miles to the north.
I guess Snake wouldn’t venture to swim among sharks for such a distance, and my guts tell me that deep down that psycho is dying to confront us. I don’t think he liked it at all that we ruined his plans for Hanna for second time.
However, we are as stuck here as he is, at least until our ride comes to pick us. That was the plan and they should show up in about an hour more or less. I guess Snake already figured that out on his own. So I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he’s planning to kill us, and take our ride off Joyland.
According to his military files, he can pilot a helicopter, so it wouldn’t be a problem for him at all.
In any case, our only advantage, if those are that bastard’s plans, is the fact he has no damn clue where exactly that helicopter will land.
The Mexican military will only fly over the island once and if we are not in the meeting point then they will leave. They won’t wait for us, not even five minutes. Something about not wanting to cause an international diplomatic incident and some shit about different sovereignties and air spaces laws.
I can’t help but chuckle at my own thoughts. I would say what we did may well be considered an international diplomatic incident. And it won’t pass unnoticed because sure as hell those columns of black smoke can be seen from miles away. I figure it won’t take much longer until someone from the nearby governments come to check on Joyland and its inhabitants.
I’m thinking that surely some of them, if not all, are on the CIA’s payroll. However, I have to wonder why they haven’t shown up already. Maybe they are sick and tired of the three letters and they were just waiting for someone else to do the dirty job. Or maybe they really don’t give a shit. Or maybe it’s just that what happens in Joyland stays in Joyland because that’s how it has been done in the past. Whatever. The fact is that as far as we know; we are alone here, save for Snake and William.
William. I’d bet money on the fact that old fucker has already flown from here. I don’t think he put all his eggs in one basket; his twisted mind doesn’t work that way. So I figure he must have some ship or something in case all went south according his damn master plan.
I’ve been thinking about what Hanna said about wanting to strike a lethal blow without shedding a single drop of his fucking blood.
I figure Hanna is planning to catch him for my dad’s death but it’s not as if she has any other evidence apart from his own confession.
I repaired the Dodge and if there was any trace about how he rigged the car, I destroyed it without even being aware. I replaced all the parts that had been damaged, throwing away the old ones. How in the hell would a jury find William guilty of my dad’s death?
It’s not as if I’m an expert on legal shit but talking with Harrison, Lester and Pette I learnt a little about circumstantial evidence and how it can be rejected during a trial in a matter of seconds. Not to mention that William is a hell of lawyer; he’s a motherfucker that deserves to die, of course, but he’s still a damn good lawyer. That old fox wouldn’t have too much of a trouble finding a way out of that mess if he would even find himself involved at all in first place, that is.
In case he entrusted someone else to do it in his place, I have no doubt that William already took care of the fucker in question. I don’t think for a minute that the old fox would run the risk of having his henchman to become a threat in the future.
I shake my head, focusing my attention on the task at hand and I keep following Ricardo through this jungle.
No point in wasting time thinking about that right now. Whatever Hanna’s plans are, I’m sure she thought deeply about them. She’s no fool and she sure as hell looked damn secure about what she was saying. I wonder if she had some ace up her sleeve.
I glance at Ricardo who is walking a few feet ahead of me.
My leg hurts a little bit and it still burns but Elaine found some painkillers inside the med kit. At this point I have no doubt that I’ll limp from now on.
Ricardo told me I will have my own ‘war scar’ to remind me how it could have been and wasn’t, adding I would probably need some minor surgery but that will be all.
Oh, hell, I wasn’t planning to take part in the Olympic Games. So who gives a damn? Not me certainly. I’ll be glad if we make out of this fucking place at all, alive.
Ricardo looks back at me, a silent question in his eyes. I can see the concern in his gaze under the coldness his eyes are showing. He’s concerned for me; I know it even if he doesn’t say it aloud. It’s just not him. It’s not how he acts.
He knows I’m still pissed off with him though, and that’s why he’s not pushing me. I like that, I like that Ricardo leaves me alone, to cool off, and that for once he’s not making jokes, teasing me.
I don’t know what got into me, facing him the way I did. Well, hell, that’s not true. I know what sent me to the edge.
The fact that he was standing by, watching Hanna pointing a gun against her head, threatening to blow her brains out and he didn’t move a single muscle to stop her.
The thought infuriated me beyond reality but not because he might let her do it, but because I realized that Hanna was ready to die if with that shit, she could achieve justice.
To William, this has been since the beginning a game. He had nothing, so he couldn’t lose anything. But he could win a lot.
To Ricardo it has been a ‘job’. It’s what he does for a living, only on this occasion it touched him really close. But just more of the same shit he faced each day since he was a kid, going by ‘Richie’.
I’ve had to do this because I have no other choice. It was always this or death; our deaths, and that was never an option.
But to Hanna this was a way to get justice, to make amends for some tragic event that never should have happened in first place. She blames herself for the death of Magdalena and Crystal, and that fact would probably never change. She will find a way to live with that heavy burden on her shoulders, just as she did before on countless occasions with other events that left a deep mark on her heart and soul.
It was never a game for her at all.
Hanna took it seriously just as she takes everything in her life. There’s no half way with her. It has always been all or nothing. I’m the one playing a game, watching this entire scary situation, like a witness even when I was taking an active part. I never took it that seriously even when my own life was at risk.
At some point Hanna made up her mind, assuming that she would die and kept moving ahead with fierce determination. Her death turned into just a natural consequence if things didn’t end how she had thought at the beginning.
I had never thought about all this shit from that point of view because it’s not the way I am. I didn’t go through half of the shit Hanna went. So how the fuck could I understand her? I was pissed off because I was going to lose her without even understanding the reasons why she was going to put herself in the path of a bullet.
I remember thinking once that the Ice Queen would kill Hanna if that meant she would reach her goal. Now I know that I was damn right. And the realization scared the shit out of me. I wanted to beat the shit out of that cold bitch because she was going to kill my woman. But they are the same; they are both sides of the same whole that is Hanna.
I look at Ricardo as we keep advancing slower than we should and I know he’s doing it on purpose. Ricardo is sure I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him with my wounded leg. I can’t help but feeling as if it’s a drag on him. Nevertheless I know that I have to be here with him; I just simply know it. I figure he knows it too and that’s the reason why he asked me if I could walk. I suspect that he wanted to give me an honorable way out, just in case.
But there was no way I was going to turn my back to him and that’s something he knows too. Ricardo knows I would come with him even if I have to crawl all the way to the fucking beach.
However, that’s not the only reason why we are going through the jungle at this pace. On this occasion we don’t have Ramón with us to open the path, clearing traps. Leaving aside the fact that I can’t tell the difference between one from another; they all look the same to me.
An unconscious grin graces my lips when I think about that skinny fucker barking orders to us. Do you copy? But it dies in a second flat when a vision of his eyes, pleading silently to Ricardo to kill him fast pops within my mind. And to think that I had been making fun of him because of his weird looks. Now I feel ashamed of my behavior.
Ramón died helping us and I don’t even know his damn surname or if he had family somewhere. We didn’t bury his body; we didn’t have time for that.
A heavy sigh escapes my lips and I clench my jaw tightly. I gotta make a mental note to tell Ricardo. I don’t want to leave the skinny fucker behind. I don’t want the rats devouring him.
We need to find a way to pick up his body, sending it back home, wherever his home was. So that way, Ramón can be buried with military honors by his SEAL fellows. He may not be a damn SEAL anymore, but Ramón sure as hell gained the privilege of being treated as one of them.
Ricardo stops dead in his tracks, making me stop as well and we both crouch at once. Fuck!! The muscle of my thighs tense, stretching the tendons, making me bite my lip hard, cursing silently. Damnit!
I grunt in pain and Ricardo glances at me, his brows furrowed in concentration and concern. I nod ‘yes’ curtly as answer to his unspoken question. Yeah, damnit, I’m fucking okay.
Gesturing with his head to our left side he narrows his eyes as a small grin tugs the corner of his mouth.
I follow his line of vision and before I can stop myself, a crazy grin spreads on my lips. There’s no snake coiled up anymore of course, but his shiv is still stabbed into the trunk of the tree, right where he left it.
We are on the right path. From here it will be just about ten minutes more and we will reach the beach.
I look around myself focusing my senses on every single noise. The jungle is waking up.
Some exotic birds are squawking as they fly over from one tree to another. The atmosphere feels damper now, so I guess that the temperature is slowly rising. The dawn sunlight is starting to seep through the mass of leafs that form the highest top of the trees, tiny particles of dust drawing thin slashed lines dying on the ground.
If it weren’t for the fact that we are in deep shit I would be able to enjoy the place.
From the corner of my eye I sense movement in time with an overwhelming, dangerous presence. I turn my head back, watching Ricardo tensing every single muscle in his body, going on guard.
Damn! I think I will never get used to that. Big dark guy is still able to send shivers up my spine when he goes on assassin mode.
Without looking at me he lifts a hand, palm down, gesturing for me to stay right where I am. I nod at him because I know he can see me even if his gaze is fixed on a spot ahead of us, slightly to our right side.
I freeze, breathing through my nose, just my eyes are moving back and forth.
As if in slow motion, Ricardo gets to his feet, closing his eyes, his head slightly tilted to one side. He’s hearing something. His shirt is rising and falling in time with his even breaths.
I frown slightly, watching him. There’s something wrong with the picture. And all of sudden it struck me. What the…?
Where’s his fucking bulletproof vest? How in the hell did I not notice until now that he had removed it?
I saw something; like a shadow, and moved behind a huge fallen trunk that rests under a veil of dark green mold and vines. Ricardo snaps his head to the right, fixing his gaze on the same spot. I know he saw it too, so it’s not my feverish imagination playing tricks to me.
It’s about 300 feet from where we are. The vegetation is overgrown in that area, so heavy and lush that the sunlight almost doesn’t seep through the top of the leafy branches. That spot is bathed in dark shadows making it hard to distinguish clearly more than a ghostly silhouette.
I narrow my eyes, fixing my gaze on it. It could be anything; from Snake to just some animal. It’s almost impossible to be sure from such a distance.
I return my attention to the spot where Ricardo was standing just to find that he’s nowhere to be found. Shit! Where the hell did he go?
Frowning deeply, I get to my feet, all the time cursing and keeping my gaze focused on my surroundings. I close the distance between where I had been crouched and the trunk with its stabbed-in shiv, pulling it out with a sharp tug and a grunt.
I grab it by its handle, blinking in fascination. It shocks me how light is; it weighs almost nothing, but the blade looks deathly sharp.
I turn my head, looking around, thinking about what to do next as I rest my frame against the trunk. I’m fucking tired all of a sudden and glancing down at my leg I find it’s bleeding again. Fuck!!
My vision blurs for a second and I blink fast, doing my best not to lose my concentration. Ricardo told me to stay where I was but that was before he vanished. Damnit! What to do? It’s damn hard to think clearly when my brain starts fogging.
I look around again, breathing heavily. I feel drops of sweat sliding down my back and lifting a hand, I rub my forehead. I’m covered in sweat. I think that’s a good sign; it means I’m sweating out the fever. Damn! Wouldn’t it be fucking ironic if after all the shit I went through, I die because I got an infection? What a fucked up thought!
I take several breaths, calming down a little. No point in starting to lose my sanity. There’ll be time for that shit later, when we’re out of here. Focused, I need to stay focused and cold. That’s it. I gotta keep cold and focused on my surroundings. Yeah, easier said than done. Shit!!
I hear a creak and in one move I snap my head back, pointing my gun in the direction where the sound came, finding Ricardo crouched upon the fallen trunk. Damn!! This fucker is going to end up causing me a fucking heart attack. Good thing I’m in shape, well, almost.
“You motherfucker, where the hell were you, huh?” I hiss, staring at him. In response Ricardo chuckles, grinning.
“I found the place where Snake rested for a few hours.” He replies, jumping from the trunk, falling gracefully. “It’s still warm so the fucker has to be close.” Ricardo adds, padding to my side, intensely watching my leg.
I notice how he tenses slightly, narrowing his eyes. He knows I’m bleeding again.
His gaze rests for a couple of seconds on his shiv and then he looks back at me. “You like it?” He asks me, his grin still in place.
I shrug my shoulder, watching the shiv. “It’s cool but…” he cuts me off.
“Then you keep it, I have a lot of those.” Ricardo says, and then he pulls another out. “I’ll show you where to put it.” He says as slowly he turns the shiv in his hand and grabbing it by the handle, he turns around. “This way, see?” He adds, passing the blade through one of the belt loops on his camo pants. “That’s the reason why camo pants have two different belt loop sizes you know?” Ricardo explains, turning again, looking at me. “The smallest one is for shit like this.” He grins, winking.
I narrow my eyes in suspicion. “Where do you hide them when you’re not wearing camo pants?” I ask, tilting my head to one side. In response, Ricardo laughs hard, shaking his head.
“A magician never reveals his tricks.” He replies, winking. Making me snort and roll my eyes. His grin widens a little. “Come on, bro, I feel like spending the day at the beach, tanning my old bones under the Caribbean sun.” Ricardo jokes and with that he turns around, resuming the march. I shake my head, chuckling and without hesitation I follow him to the beach.
We reached the beach without any unexpected surprises which gives me an odd feeling. Once again it was too damn easy. However, I notice that this side of the beach is not even similar to the one we arrived at and there’s no trace of our neoprene suits though.
“Where are we?” I ask him, looking around.
The beach on this side of the island is not made of white sand. It’s almost black, like some kind of volcanic shit. The grains of sand are visible and there are shells and flat stones all missed up. In fact the terrain is so firm my feet don’t sink at all.
Ricardo lifts his head, watching the sun rising upon the horizon.
“I would say we’re a little more than 1 mile from the meeting point. Elaine and Hanna should be there already though.” He answers absently, then he turns around, looking at my leg. “You only have to follow the shore line, you’ll find the place.” Ricardo adds as he raises his head, meeting my puzzled gaze. What the fuck? “We split here, Dom.”
I blink, shocked by his words and then I shake my head ‘no’. “No way. I’m not going anywhere without you, Ricardo.” I reply firmly.
In response, Ricardo growls, tightening his jaw.
“Listen, man. You’re bleeding. You cannot face Snake or anyone like that.” He replies, sighing hard.
“I don’t fucking care; I’m not leaving you behind, got it?” I mutter, staring at his eyes. “I don’t need my fucking leg to shot a gun.” I add, holding his cold gaze.
Too fast to even have time to react, he kicks my thigh, sending me down on my knees in a second flat. A white ray of searing pain stabs my leg from my hip to my toe. FUCK!
Before I can stop myself I growl in pain, landing hard on my wounded leg, gritting my teeth. What the hell…?
“Don’t fuck with me, Toretto. You do as I say and that’s final.” He hisses, deadly serious.
“Fuck you, Montenegro.” I retort through clenched teeth, panting.
Ricardo moves backwards a step as he pulls out his gun. He points it at my other leg, flicking the safety off. I blink fast, watching him.
“Do you want me to shoot you, fucker?” He asks coldly, his face an emotionless mask. I see the muscles of his jaw clenching hard enough to hurt as he narrows his eyes.
“Not gonna happen.” I retort defiantly, breathing hard through my nose, my jaw clamped tightly.
I know he won’t shoot me. Even though he’s pissed off right now, I know he wouldn’t shoot me. But nothing will stop him if he wants to beat the shit out of me. That’s for sure. But I still have two hands and I will fight him back, if I have to, and he knows that.
After a long moment, he put his gun away, chuckling. “You’re a crazy motherfucker.” He teases me, offering me his hand to help me stand.
I grin, sighing hard. “Yeah, look who’s talking.” I reply as I grab his hand. “I can’t believe you kicked me, fucker.” I mutter under my breath, grunting as I get to my feet.
Ricardo opens his mouth to reply but before a sound comes out we hear a gun being shot, followed by a scream. Our gazes meet as we both narrow our eyes at once.
In a flash, Ricardo storms off, running like the Devil himself, directly to where the sound of Hanna’s scream came.
The meeting point. Fuck, fuck, FUCK!!!
I grunt as I run after him, half-limping along the shore, following him as fast as I can. I feel a rush of adrenaline running through my veins at the speed of light as I keep running like there’s no tomorrow.
I don’t know where the strength is coming from as I keep pushing myself to the limit. My heart is pounding wildly within my chest and each time my feet land on the hard terrain a sharp pain stabs my leg, but I don’t give a damn at all. All of sudden the physical pain doesn’t feel that bad compared to what the suspicion of Hanna and Elaine being injured or worse is doing.
After what feels like an eternity, but which was just seconds, I reach the meeting point. My eyes widen completely at the vision in front of my eyes.
Elaine is knocked out, blood staining her shoulder. Ricardo is crouched at her side, whispering something I can’t hear. I look around franticly, feeling my heart about to explode.
Hanna is nowhere to be found. Fuck, fuck, fuck!!
I rush to Ricardo’s side, cursing under my breath. Elaine has a nasty scratch on her left temple. It seems as if she was hit with a heavy stone.
Ricardo presses two fingers to Elaine’s neck, feeling her pulse, sighing heavily.
She’s breathing but unconscious.
Without waiting a second Ricardo tears apart the sleeve of her shirt, to have a better look at the wound, and then he lifted her torso carefully. It’s a clean shot. The bullet went through the flesh and out. It’s not inside but the wound is bleeding a lot.
“She’ll be very pissed off when she wakes up.” Ricardo whispers, improvising a bandage with the sleeves of Elaine’s shirt. Then he pulls off his shirt and, making a pillow with it, he gently lays down her head, laying her back down. “I will tear that motherfucker apart.” He whispers so low that I have to strain my ears to make out the words.
Slowly, Ricardo gets to his feet, stretching his back. I hear each spine bone cracking and in one fast move he spins around, two shivs in his hands.
“Snake!!” He shouts, playing with his shivs in his hands. “Come out to play, Lieutenant.”
Ricardo’s voice sounds like the voice of the Devil, his eyes are completely dark. His face is a mask I don’t recognize at all. I shudder fiercely, watching him.
He’s Death itself in camo pants.
His shivs seem like extensions of his hands as he keeps playing with them, padding to the closest trees that grown near the shore.
“Game over, Montenegro!” Snake’s voice replies from somewhere within the trees and bushes. “I win, you lose.” He adds, laughing coldly.
At Snake’s words, Ricardo’s lips spread in that evil smile I saw before.
“Kill her, Lieutenant. She’s already dead, anyway.” Ricardo says coldly, chuckling at his own words. What the…? “You will do her a favor.” He adds sarcastically.
He’s breathing evenly, his gaze sparks with a bedeviled gleam. All of a sudden his back muscles clench, the sun causing his tanned skin to glow. Drops of sweat can be seen, sliding down. All his scars are more visible as the skin tenses, the muscles rippling.
I have no clue about what to do. I look down at Elaine, she’s still unconscious, but so far she keeps breathing. I notice her chest rising and falling.
I look back up again when something that wasn’t there before catches my attention for a second. I narrow my eyes, fixing my gaze on what it seems to be a small dot, shining in the far distance. I glance at my chrono; it’s time.
The helicopter is coming to pick us. Shit, shit, shit!!
I snap my head back, returning my attention to Ricardo. He tilts his head slightly. The soft breeze is blowing in our direction. I bet he already heard the helicopter approaching even though it’s still a few miles away. It won’t be long now.
I calculate that we have around five minutes, if that long. But from where we are, they can’t distinguish us from the black terrain we’re standing in. Damnit!!
“Ricardo.” I mutter through clenched teeth. In response, Ricardo stops playing with his shivs, the only sign that he heard me at all, and I see Snake padding to us, making his way through the trees and small bushes.
The bastard is walking with Hanna placed in front of him, shielding his body. One arm circling her neck and a gun pointed at her head. Hanna’s hands are closed in fists and she’s shaking. His sleeveless shirt leaves his arms at view, showing several cuts all over them that are bleeding slightly.
I can’t stop the small grin from tugging the corner of my mouth. Elaine sliced him good before this psycho knocked her out.
My gaze slides up, to Hanna’s face. She has a nasty bruise on her left cheek. That motherfucker punched her hard and her lips are slightly swollen. I feel my blood boiling within my veins and without thinking I point my gun at him.
“Is it me? Or have we found ourselves in a very similar situation already, Toretto?” Snake’s lips spread in a dirty grin as he meets my eyes.
My gaze moves to Hanna. Her eyes are showing nothing, her gaze looks dead as she locks eyes with me.
I grunt, watching her as soon as I read her thoughts. I can hear her voice, talking with me, a silent plea echoing faintly within my brain.
Kill me, Dominic; don’t let him touch me, please.
My gaze blurs as I point my gun to her head, gritting my teeth so hard that my neck muscles yelp in pain under the fierce tension.
This psycho won’t lay his filthy hands on my woman again.
“You won’t hurt my woman, Snake.” I whisper coldly as my finger caresses the trigger of my gun. “I will kill her myself before you have the chance.” I add firmly. And I’m not fucking around.
The thought sends shivers up my spine and I find myself fighting back tears. Hanna closes her eyes, swallowing hard and I see silent tears spilling down her cheeks. She’s ready to die, but I’m not. I’m not ready to lose her. I cannot lose my woman. I cannot let her go.
Swallowing hard past the lump in my throat I blink once and lowering the gun slightly, I pull the trigger, hitting Snake in his right thigh.
He grunts, cursing loudly and Hanna slams her elbow hard against his ribs, making him gasp, releasing her. In a flash, Ricardo throws one of his shivs, stabbing the arm that was holding his gun causing Snake to shoot, missing Hanna’s head by mere inches, but she falls to the ground, unconscious.
Before I can move a muscle, Ricardo rushes to Snake, slamming into him, making the bastard lose his balance but not before Snake shoots his gun again.
I hear the propellers of the helicopter, sounding faintly, approaching the coast. I glance at it from the corner of my eye. It’s a military model and all of a sudden it changes direction, heading to the other side of the coast.
The black dense smoke makes it difficult to fly that low in the direction they were coming. I figure they are searching for a safe way to come closer to the island without crashing, keeping under any radar that may detect its presence.
All of a sudden everything slowed down just to go faster in one second.
Hanna shakes her head, a loud moan escaping her lips as she crawls to where Elaine is laying, still unconscious. Hanna grabs the small black duffel bag, pulling out a flare and then she gets to her feet, standing on shaky legs as she rolls the base of the flare.
Immediately a green dense smoke comes out through one of its edges, rising fast to the open sky.
“Hanna!!!” Ricardo shouts as he pushes her hard to the ground, causing the flare to fly out of her hands, falling a few meters away.
A gunshot echoes all round, followed by a growl in pain, and Ricardo falls on his knees, his chest bleeding. Hanna screams, watching him falling hard to the ground.
He put himself in the path of the bullet. I snap my head back; watching Snake laying, immobile face down a few feet from them, his gun still in his hand.
I rush to Ricardo, crouching at his side. I press my fingers against his neck. Fuck, fuck, fuck!! I can’t feel the pulse. Damnit!!
His eyes are closed and he’s not breathing. I rest my head on his chest, trying to hear his heart.
As fast as I can, I remove my bulletproof vest and pulling off my shirt, I pressed against his wound, trying to stop the hemorrhage. That bastard shot him! The wound is close to his shoulder right above his heart.
No fucking way!
“Ricardo!!” I shout at him, applying pressure to his wound.
He doesn’t move a muscle, giving no sign that tells me if he can hear me or even if he’s breathing at all.
No, please, not again. My God, not him. I cannot lose anyone else.
I kneel at his side, noticing that Hanna is kneeled at his other side. Her face shows trails of fresh tears as she bends her head, pressing her trembling lips to his. She closes her eyes in concentration, and then she turns his head to look at me.
“I think he’s still breathing…” Hanna whispers hoarsely. “But I’m not sure…” a wave of fresh tears spill down her cheeks as she takes a ragged breath.
Without warning, a vision of Vince, bleeding to death in my arms pops without warning, making me shut my eyes tightly, shaking my head. I lost the coyote, but I’m not gonna lose big dark guy.
I swallow hard, gesturing to Hanna and we start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Hanna pinches his nose, blowing air into Ricardo’s mouth as I start pushing his chest, my hands knotted, just like I saw him doing to Hanna in that warehouse.
“You, motherfucker…you’re not dying on me, you hear me?” I growl, blinking my blurry vision. “I’m not done with you, Ricardo. I gotta pay you back for that kick, you asshole.” I whisper as I keep doing my part.
Hanna is counting aloud, her voice shaking.
“You said you were going to help me with the Dodge and you’re not backing out that easily, fucker.” I say as I swallow past the invisible knot in my throat that is choking the life out of me. “Ricardo Montenegro is a tough motherfucker and guys like you don’t die in the middle of nowhere, man.”
Hanna keeps at it, blowing air into his lungs. I don’t even know how much time we have to do this.
The rotors of the helicopter are sounding again, closer this time, the green smoke swirling all over.
“Come on, Ricardo. I’m not shitting, bro. You can’t die on me. I won’t let you do that shit to me.” I whisper hoarsely, feeling my heart beating faster as I move, sitting on his hips to apply more pressure with my hands.
He’s not breathing yet and his lips are slightly blue.
“We gotta get drunk together, man.” I breathe as silent tears start to roll down my cheeks. “You can’t leave like this, bro. You can’t fucking leave me.” I sniffle, blinking fast trying to see through my blurry vision.
Ricardo takes a sharp intake of breath as slowly his eyes flutter open.
“Always knew you were a twisted fucker, Toretto.” He whispers, swallowing hard. “You have no shame, taking advantage of me while I’m out.” He adds, chuckling weakly.
I laugh hard, looking at Hanna as she cradles his head on her lap. “I thought I lost you, Richie.” Hanna whispers, kissing his forehead.
Slowly, Ricardo lifts a hand, grabbing hers. “Not going anywhere, princess.” He coughs, squeezing her hand in his.
Elaine moans painfully, causing Hanna and I to look at her. Slowly I get to my feet, feeling a wave of nausea all of a sudden. Cursing silently, I stagger a little, limping to her side. My leg is burning like never before and hurts like a fucking bitch.
She opens her eyes, blinking fast and mutters that rapid fire of obscenities that always makes me grin. Ricardo was right; she’s pissed off beyond belief. Slowly she rises to a sitting position, gritting her teeth. Her eyes are shut tightly as she breathes hard through her nose. A new string of obscenities passes her lips as she snaps her eyes open, a murderous gaze flashing in her eyes.
“Dom!” She shouts, staring past me.
I spin around, lifting my gun and I find Snake pointing his fucking gun at me. He’s panting hard, his eyes cold.
“You and me, Toretto.” He hisses, throwing his gun.
“Fine.” I reply, throwing mine down and with that I rush at him.
We both fall to the ground, rolling and I growl, throwing a blow to his chin. His head turns sharply to one side and I feel his punch in my ribs.
I release him, getting on my legs, hissing in pain. Two seconds later, Snake rushes to me, kicking me hard in my wounded leg, sending me to the ground.
Fuck!! I roll over, pushing myself up with my arms as he kicks me again in the ribs. I feel the air being knocked out of my lungs and I gasp aloud, a ray of hot pain, crossing my body from head to toe. Fucking bastard!!
He moves backward, giving me room to stand again.
“Come on, Toretto. I was just warming up.” He chuckles coldly, laughing.
I shake my head slightly, blinking fast as I force the air through my lungs. My ribs scream in pain. I bet the fucker caused me a fracture.
Grunting, I push myself up once again, watching him. He’s circling me, a psycho expression written all over his face. His eyes glimmering with anticipation. The fucker is enjoying the hell out of himself right now.
I circle him, limping, my leg feels numb and I take a ragged breath. My lungs seem on fire all of sudden and I can’t seem to catch enough oxygen.
Snake rushes at me, growling, but I dodge him at the last second, punching his fucking face with all my soul, sending him to the ground. Not even thinking I throw myself on top of him, grabbing his wrists, gripping them tightly.
He tries to butt my forehead, but I tilt my head back out of his reach. Gritting his teeth, he starts pushing me off him. I frown deeply, locking eyes with him, pressing my body down to him.
“I should have done this in Lompoc.” I seethe through clenched teeth, releasing one of his hands, so I can punch him hard in his fucking face.
I do it, hearing the sound of bones cracking. He curses loudly, shouting in pain.
Yeah! I broke his nose. Fuck you, motherfucker.
Snake recovers faster than I thought and tangles his legs with mine, knocking me off him as I roll on my back. He uses my momentary loss of balance to punch my stomach with all his strength.
Holly fuck! I grunt in pain, feeling the blow all the way to my very soul. Fuck!!
In a reflex action, I lift my unwounded leg, kneeing his kidney with everything in me.
“Fuck!” He growls, shutting his eyes. I use those seconds to strike two punches fast, one to his chin making him hiss as his lips slip open, and the other to his chest as he releases me, gasping for air.
See? I can fight dirty too, you asshole. I push him off me, but he shoots out his hands, grabbing me by the neck, squeezing.
I tighten my jaw hard, feeling my Adam’s apple being pressed against my throat. My vision blurs slightly as I struggle to keep focused. I shut my eyes tightly, gripping his wrist, trying to remove his hands from my neck.
My heart is pounding wildly within my chest and my lungs are burning. I’m starting to suspect that I’m about to pass out from the lack of oxygen. Shit, shit, SHIT!
Blindly, I punch his thigh, the one I shot and he lightly relaxes the iron grip his hands had around my neck. I punch him again, harder this time and he releases one of his hands, keeping the other pressed hard against my throat. Then he punches my side, growling.
Sparkling dots show behind my closed eyelids as I gasp for air. I feel a rush of adrenaline, running through my veins in time with my racing pulse. I grit my teeth so tightly that my jaw hurts as I grab his forearms, trying to push him back. No such luck.
He mutters something but I can’t make out the words.
I feel my mind going blank when all of a sudden a vision of Hanna being raped by this fucker pops within my brain. A fresh rush of adrenaline shots wildly through my veins and I feel my blood boiling with rage in a second flat.
Lifting my arms I push his away, roaring as my eyes snap open. Snake falls back and before he has the chance to stand again, I throw myself at him one more time, landing with my knee in his stomach.
He gasps hard, muttering obscenities as I fist my left hand in the fabric of the collar of his shirt. Without thinking I start punching his face; one blow after another.
Visions of all the atrocities he did to Hanna are passing in a fast sequence, one image after another; one blow per image.
All the anger and rage I’ve been restraining, saving it for a better occasion crush me full force, pushing me to keep punching him with all my strength. I release all my pain and my frustration at once; my arm with a life on its own; my fist like a steel hammer.
He lands a couple of blows that I don’t even feel anymore. I’m out of control and my brain shut off. I’m not thinking anymore as I keep reliving all the shit I went through since the day I left Lompoc with those two losers.
The motel. William patting my shoulder, making jokes with me. La Cueva. Hanna pointing a gun against my head. Reynaldo’s party at his yacht. The dancers. Elaine. Reynaldo raping Hanna. Hanna scratching her skin inside that shower stall.
Hanna’s house. The basement. The pictures. Hanna stroking that little bump that was my little baby boy; Dominic. Ricardo soothing Hanna, whispering gentle words in her ear.
Reynaldo’s brother. The chicks. The drugs. The orgies. Miami. The deal with those fucking weapons. Reynaldo’s contact being shot. Crystal crying in my arms, her face pressed against my chest.
Santos leering at Hanna as she strips for us. Sara messing with Hanna. Ricardo slicing Hanna’s thong. Snake and his fuckers kidnapping Hanna. Santos gutting alive those five fuckers. The street kids. John Lee smoking sitting on his wheelchair the cylinder of oxygen at his feet and his mask hanging from his neck.
The CIA. Operation Phoenix. The fucking Pale Horse fuckers. Vietnam. Hanna’s secret files. Magdalena. The Cartels.
Big Sexy and his house full of chicks, weapons and armed guys.
Stuart and Terry burning within the trunk of their car. Bilkins making jokes about the Ice Queen. The faces of each and very single guy that help us to get Hanna back in that warehouse.
Hanna’s body marred beyond recognition with countless scars, burns, bruises and cuts. The operating room. The NSA. Hanna’s secret profile. Ricardo taking care of her wounds, both making jokes about who has more scars now. Ricardo’s scars.
La Hacienda. El Padrino. Fabio. The race. The Cherokee loaded with those drugs. The Zetas. That black pit. Sean and the DEA agents. The heads of Fabio’s dad and El Azul onto that silver tray. Fabio’s tongue hanging from his throat.
William’s mansion in Sinaloa. Francis. The picture of Ava Garner. The fireworks. The secret tunnels. Crystal breathing her last breath as Hanna rocks her lifeless body.
Ricardo tearing Santos’ heart from his chest, throwing it to the floor, stepping on it.
Joyland. The jungle. The weapons. Ramón. The landmine. Ricardo counting three, two one. The weapons with the logo of Air America. The bungalows burning. Reynaldo pleading Hanna to kill him for once and all.
Hanna pointing my gun to her head, threatening to blow her brains out. Hanna pleading me to kill her.
Ricardo saving Hanna’s life, throwing himself in the path of that fucking bullet.
I blink, shaking my head a little.
I look down and my eyes widen completely.
Snake’s face is an unrecognizable mass of flesh and blood. My head turns slightly as I look at my fist drenched in blood. Snake’s blood.
Slowly I get to my feet, feeling my vision blurring. I stagger, losing my balance, falling on my knees. A hiss of pain passes my lips as I close my eyes, swallowing hard.
“Dominic…” Hanna’s voice sounds faintly within my brain. I force my eyes to open, but I’m tired. So fucking tired. “Dominic…please, baby, look at me…”
I hear my woman’s voice pleading with me to open my eyes but I can’t. I can’t move a single muscle in my body.
The sound of the rotors of the helicopter muffles Hanna’s voice. I can’t hear her anymore. It’s cold. So fucking cold. I’m freezing.
I feel soft lips, pressed against mine, a warm caress wrapping my heart and my soul.
I love you, Hanna…