Heart to Heart

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“I don’t know,” Boss said. “I tried to shoot him. Here. I think this belonged to the gunmen. His prints might still be on there.”


“Just drop it on the ground, sir.”


And move away from here, damn it. Theodore could steady his breath for so long. It’d be hard to spring into action from this position, and he’d like to aim for the chief commissioner. Taking down the two…three cops would be too much work, but back up was also coming. He couldn’t take his sweet ass time.


“Careful. He may just be unconscious.”


“You think he’s one of them boys who sent the death threats?”


“God, look at these hands. Are the claws fake?”


Theodore heard the sirens. He couldn’t wait for the commissioner to approach him. He swiped and grabbed at the nearby officer’s legs, swung them around to build momentum, and hurled them at the other officer.


Spotting Alexis, Theo dug his claws into the dirt and propelled all fours towards the man.


“Stay away!” he screamed. Alexis shot once and sought cover in the stall behind him. Theodore effortlessly pounced over the barrier, yet having overshot his strength, he barreled into the man.


One shot fired into his stomach. Grunting, he pushed through the pain.


“Why? Why me?” Alexis cried, forcing more bullets through Theo’s torso.


Theodore quickly overpowered him in strength and pinned him down.


“Just one more night. Please.” The man’s voice was shaking, but he writhed beneath him, and fire burned in his eyes.


He wasn’t giving up.


To force Alexis to relinquish his weapon, Theo twisted his arm outward as the chief commissioner fired his last bullet with a yelp.


“Nothing personal,” Theodore said. Reaching into his hoodie pocket, he felt for his revolver. All he got was a paw-hand wet with his own blood. He had forfeited the gun earlier. Damn it.


Alexis hissed between clenched teeth, “I’m sorry.”


“What?”


“Tell Mord, I’m sorry.”


Theodore didn’t ask who Mord was when he plunged his hand through Alexis’ heart.


Gross.


Boss was the one who enjoyed killing with blades. He could be close to the victims and watch them struggle for their last breath. Seeing them in their final moments brought a thrill that Theo never understood. Where was the appeal of having someone else’s blood splattered on you? Of being the last one they see?


At least with knives, he wouldn’t have to worry about another’s fleshy bits beneath his nails. He felt nauseous, but Theodore steadied himself. He wasn’t done yet. Now wasn’t the time to get sick.


Sensing two cops behind him, he considered his options.


“Oh God…Alexis,” uttered one.


“The chief commissioner is down. I repeat. Chief Commissioner is down. We have the suspect in sight,” the other said into the walkie. “We’re in the craft vendor’s portion of the market between Lola’s Art Emporium and Itty Bites.”


Theo’s stomach and arm wounds ached. How many more bullets could he take before he passed out?


If he didn’t act, reinforcements would swarm their location and escape would be impossible. He was too young to go to jail over some contrived plan.


“Damn it!” Theodore grabbed Alexis’ ankles and flung him toward the officers. One jumped back while the other clumsily caught their deceased commissioner.


“Alexis!”


“Hey!”


Theodore wiggled his way from under the tent but not without a few rubber bullets to the legs.


He ran.


The cop pursued.


He knocked over displays, but the cop effortlessly overcame the obstacles.


Theodore’s wounds were slowing him down. His blood loss made him dizzy. The officer was closing the distance. Did they call for reinforcements? Was he running towards them? He couldn’t detect a crowd anymore. Had Boss gotten away?


A bullet soared through his shoulder, and Theo stumbled.


Not yet. This way, he thought.


He pivoted suddenly and sucked in his breath. His wounded legs didn’t like that, but he pressed onwards.


The car was in this direction. The road was dark and unpaved. If he lost the officer in the thicket between the festival grounds and the road, he was home free.


He had borrowed one of Boss’ faster cars, so losing the cops shouldn’t be a problem. Sinking it somewhere would bring him great joy. Served Boss right for enjoying this night.


Another bullet, but this time, his leg caught the rubber projectile. Collapsing with a grunt, Theo heard the cop settle into a walk.


“Last chance,” the officer said with haggard breath. They shined a light in Theodore’s face, and he squinted.  “Stay down.” Into the walkie, they said, “Suspect located southwest of festival grounds.”


“10-4. Sending Shauna and Liam your way.”


Three people. Theodore thought. Or maybe more. Three for now? He looked to his left. Freedom was at his fingertips. A few more yards and he’d have the advantage. The officer wasn’t getting any closer. If they engaged in hand-to-hand combat, Theodore could disable the cop and retreat to the car.


But with his injuries, the werecat doubted pouncing towards him would close the distance. Besides, he was terribly dizzy and supposed he’d fall over if he tried to stand up. Was this it? Was he going to jail?


He dropped to his bum and winced. Stupid Boss. He should’ve offed Alexis when he had the chance. Taking a bullet was the “foundation of their relationship” his ass. His contract was to protect Boss not to offer his hide for some weird convoluted plot to assassinate a man.


Boss was the president of a damn drug company. He could poison the bastard and make that look like an accident.


Swaying slightly, Theodore touched his stomach wound. Was killing Alexis worth it?


“You drop your prosthetics somewhere?” the officer asked.

“…Prosthetics?” he asked quietly.


“Yeah. Weren’t you wearing some prosthetic tiger hands and feet earlier?”


Snow leopard, he thought. Theodore had reverted to his human form now that capture was imminent. Explaining his abilities would introduce more problems. “No.”


“Why did you kill Commissioner Millard?”


So, they gave zero shits about the prosthetics?  He answered, “I invoke…my right to stay silent.”


“Are you working with someone?” the officer pressed.


Averting his eyes, he saw a couple figures appear from beyond the tents. From what he could tell, they were in civilian clothing. Were they armed? He needed to get to the car. One more attempt to bring the cop closer.


“You’re not going to cuff me?”


“Not until you pass out. I don’t know how much fight is left in you. I’m not a huge fan of being thrown around either.”


Theodore laughed weakly. If he could heal faster, then the officer’s cautiousness was warranted. He wouldn’t die from any of his injuries, but he’d lose consciousness at any moment. Captured and unconscious? What a lame combo.


He sat in suffering. The adrenaline wore off, and the pain of the bullet wounds and the impact of the rubber bullets burned through his nerves.


He blinked once and the allure of keeping his eyes closed tempted him beyond belief. No. He needed to stay conscious but pretend he fainted. He wasn’t ready to lose yet.


His hand covering his wound fell to his lap. Theodore blinked a couple times before falling over.

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Heart to Heart