They stepped outside into the cold wind, and Mark asked, “Now where? You just said your car’s blocked in.”
“I’m thinking on my feet here, okay? Just go with it.” They made their way down the street to an intersection. A bus pulled up, hissing to a stop before them to deposit a group of senior citizens, as down the block a construction worker started up a jackhammer. Something small and sharp stung the back of Mark’s neck and he winced, raising his hand to feel a small trickle of blood.
“What the fuck…?” He jumped as another bullet struck the wall behind him, fragments of brick again stinging his neck and the sound of the shot masked by the jackhammer.
“Get down!” Pearce shouted and pushed Mark down as he drew his gun. People around him screamed and ran for cover. “Get down! Everyone down!”
Pearce shoved Mark toward the entrance of an alley and stumbled after him, both of them staying low. Just inside the alley, Pearce pressed a hand to Mark’s chest to keep his back flat against the building and turned to look into the street.
“Where is he?” Mark asked.
“I don’t know.”
A volley of bullets struck the sidewalk and wall at the entrance to the alley, and Pearce pulled Mark down to his knees, falling over him to protect him. The heat coming off Pearce’s body surrounded him for a moment, and even as bullets chipped at the bricks and cement a yard away, Mark felt safe.
“Are you hurt?” Pearce asked once the shooting had stopped. He got up and pulled Mark to his feet. “Did you get shot? Are you injured?”
“N-no,” Mark stuttered. “No, I’m okay. I’m not hurt.”
Someone shouted in the street, and Pearce pushed Mark against the brick wall face-first. He then leaned against him, and Mark could hear the man breathing hard behind him, feel the wash of warm breath on the back of his neck as the round bulge of the agent’s crotch pressed against his ass. Even as another round of bullets tore up the mouth of the alley, the more primal part of Mark’s mind considered what it would be like to hear Pearce breathe like that as the man fucked him.
“Okay, here’s what we’ll do,” Pearce said. “We’re going to run like our asses are on fire down this alley for as many streets as we can, and when we come out the other side we’re going to take the first bus we see, got it?”
“Uh-huh,” Mark replied. “Did you see who was shooting at us?”
“No,” Pearce told him. “And I don’t think we have much time. Let’s go.”
Just as they pushed away from the wall and turned to run down the alley, a car screeched to a stop in the street. A man wearing a ski mask leaned out of the passenger-side window and opened fire with an automatic weapon. Bullets zipped past them, kicking up garbage and shards of brick and mortar. Pearce threw Mark behind a Dumpster and fell in behind him.
When there was a break in the shooting, Pearce leaned quickly around the Dumpster, letting off two shots from his own weapon. Mark held his hands over his ears and squeezed his eyes shut. How the fuck had this happened? Sirens sounded in the distance, and Mark heard the screech of tires as the attackers drove off.
“We have to go,” Pearce said and pulled Mark to his feet.
“But the cops are coming,” Mark protested as Pearce dragged him down the alley. “They can help us, right?”
“Dude, you don’t get it, do you?” Pearce snapped in his face. “You can’t trust anyone anymore, okay? No one. Anybody we meet—FBI, police, elected government official, Martha Stewart, anybody—could be looking to have you killed. Got it?”
Mark pulled his arm out of Pearce’s grip and turned to continue walking. “Yeah? So where in that category do you fall?”
“Somewhere between Martha Stewart and elected government official is my guess,” Pearce grumbled.
They arrived at the opposite end of the alley and Pearce gestured for Mark to wait. The agent leaned cautiously around the corner and peered up and down the block. Two police cars sped past, sirens wailing and lights flashing, heading toward the FBI building. When they were gone, Pearce waved for Mark to follow and trotted across the street to duck into the alley. Once they were a few streets away from the scene of the shooting, Pearce stopped to reload his weapon, and Mark squatted with his back against the wall, catching his breath and trying not to shake.
“Look,” Pearce said. “I know this sucks and it’s nothing you asked for. I get that, okay? But here’s the situation: Unfortunately, I’m the only guy you can trust right now. I may be an asshole, but keeping you alive is priority one for me, so we’re going to have to find a way to get along.”
Mark nodded as he rubbed his upper arm where Pearce had been gripping him. “Yeah, I get it.”
“Okay. Let’s go.”
A cold drizzle began to fall as they turned and jogged off along the alley.