When the ringing in SMS’s ears began to fade he found himself lying on the pavement behind Pavelec’s car, hugging the assault rifle to his chest like a comfort blanket. He shook his head to clear the fog and got to his feet. Bailey and Pavelec were just beginning to rouse themselves, as well.
SMS stumbled around onto the lawn and helped Pavelec to her feet. Her jacket was torn in a few places where shards of glass from the shattered windows had showered down on her, and her hands and scalp were bleeding lightly.
“Are you okay?” asked SMS.
“I’ll be fine. Just do me a favour and pick out any big chunks.”
“Okay. Hold still.” He wrapped the sleeve of his shirt around his hand, brushed some hair on the back of her head aside, and used his sleeve to sweep away the bits of glass that he could see. There was an inch-long shard sticking out of her right arm. He gripped it and eased it out of the skin as Pavelec winced.
“Aaaah,” she said. “That’s going to need a bandage. There’s a first-aid kit in the trunk. Can you go grab it?” She offered up her keys.
SMS took the keys and jogged back to the car to retrieve the first-aid kit. When he got back Pavelec had rolled her sleeve back to expose the wound and was applying pressure to slow the bleeding. By the door, Bailey was on her feet. She’d taken her shirt off and was using it to wipe blood off of her arms and shoulders. Clearly she’d taken the worst of the explosion.
“Maybe I should help Brenda out, first,” said SMS.
“Don’t worry about me,” said Bailey. “I’ll be good as new in about ten minutes.”
“Oh,” said SMS. “Right.”
Pavelec sniffed. “Rapid healing, too? That’s quite a set of skills you’ve got.”
SMS cleaned out Pavelec’s wound the best he could, then unrolled a bandage from the first-aid kit and wrapped it around her arm. “That’ll have to do for now.”
“Fine,” said Pavelec. “I can get it dealt with better later. We’ve got work to do right now.”
“How’s our friend?” said Bailey, crouching beside the soldier and his hostage. “Oh. Nice shot.”
“What?” said SMS.
“Soldier boy’s dead. Right through the temple, eh? Au revoir, mon frere.”
“Did I get him in the head?” said Pavelec. “I meant to get his arm and make him drop the grenade.”
“Uh huh,” said Brenda. “Well you missed by a lot, then.”
SMS sighed. “We should’ve taken him alive. That stuff he said about ‘the Laurentians’… We should’ve at least tried to learn what that was about. I know Innis would’ve had plenty of questions for him, even if we’re more interested in our other friend, here. He’s not dead, too, is he?”
“No, he’s good,” said Brenda, nudging the gangster with her toe. “He got shielded by the dead one. He fainted inside, though. Looks like he’s still out.”
“I didn’t mean to kill him,” insisted Pavelec. “Something made me shift my aim at the last second, I think. Something like…”
“Like Brenda’s pheromones,” said SMS. “Don’t look at me that way, Brenda. I know it’s not something you can really control. I’m not accusing you of anything.” If I did, he thought, you’d probably hurt me. “It happened, it’s over, and there’s nothing we can do about it now. If we want to learn more about this ‘Laurentians’ business, we’ll have to find some other way.”
“It doesn’t matter, anyways,” said Pavelec. “We have a more pressing mystery to solve. The guy we came for is still alive, and he knows something about who killed Walter Carton. Obviously he’s more important than we thought, if these guys are making such a big deal about him. And if we don’t get moving, I’m willing to bet they’ll have backup here pretty soon, when they don’t report in to whoever’s coordinating all of this. They aren’t going to be happy with us, not when we’ve messed with them twice now.”
“So where do you want to take him?” said Brenda.
“I don’t know. I’m not as familiar with the area as you are.”
“I guess it depends how much time you think we’re going to need with him.”
“An uninterrupted hour, maybe,” said Pavelec.
“Hmm. I know a place. It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s quiet and out of the way. Can’t be seen from the air, either, in case the cops try to track our car down with a helicopter or something.”
“That part of things shouldn’t be a problem,” said Pavelec.
“I work for the Specials Unit,” said Pavelec.
Bailey’s eyes narrowed at the revelation. Every muscle in her body tensed, as if she couldn’t decide whether to turn and run or grab her gun. After a couple of seconds she forced herself to relax. “Huh,” she said.
“Don’t worry,” said Pavelec. “I have bigger fish to fry than you two or your boss. As long as you’re with me, you’ve got nothing to worry about from the law.”
Brenda chewed the inside of her cheek for a moment. “Okay,” she said. “But I’m keeping my gun loaded, anyways.”
“Fine by me,” said Pavelec. “Let’s head to your spot. SMS, why don’t you drive? I’ll take the back with our sleeping friend so I can talk to him if he wakes up along the way.”
“Fine,” said SMS. He helped Pavelec gather up the guns and the first aid kit and stow them in the trunk while Bailey carried the unconscious gangster to the car and dumped him in the back seat. Brenda had him travel west, towards Sooke.
The sun was beginning to set.