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For storybinding and others. (I don’t remember who else prompted this at the moment.) Continuation of liquid trinity. Three parts, rather than two, because I can’t do anything short with this thing. Limited internet access from here on: heading to Lemnos tomorrow morning.
Max grit his teeth. The Ninja was fast, but it couldn’t make him arrive on time for an appointment he was already thirty minutes late for. To complicate matters, he could hear and feel the telltale vibration of the bike’s plastics rattling from his shoddy job of throwing them back on. At least he hadn’t picked up the flashing red and blue lights until after his delivery. Shaw was equally irritable and fascinated by his addiction to velocity but damned him for the potential attention it brought their way.
Max didn’t care: Charles had paged him an hour ago. Fuck Shaw and fuck the police.
He was already flat on the ZX6’s red tank, head tucked under the windscreen’s slipstream. The needle was dancing around 130 MPH. Wind noise was filling his helmet with a cacophony that was loud even through his ear plugs. The helmet bobbled a little on his head; he needed another, but the Nolan fit Charles better. He often wondered at the efficiency of Charles’ body; such a huge mind resided in his relatively small head.
With a turn coming up Max snarled curses into the helmet, which were torn from his lips by the ferocious draft. He grabbed the front brake and pushed down on the rear at the last possible instant and down-shifted like a maniac. Going into the turn he hung off the side of the bike, pulling it down to make the turn as tight as possible.
The lean was extreme; sparks flew from his left side peg where it dragged asphalt. A hole was almost instantly burned through the denim covering the side of his knee. There was a bright moment of pain but Max did not tense. On instinct, he let the rear tire slide a meter as he straightened the bike up so that it brought the back end around the turn faster, lining him up for another straight shot.
The patrol car was on the Ninja in the turn, close enough that Max was bathing in flashing red and blue and the motorcycle’s new rearview mirrors were shining in his eyes. Max squinted through, unable to touch the mirrors while he need his hands for brake, throttle, and shifting. He cracked the throttle on the way out of the turn and though the engine hesitated for an instant, it soon roared to life and leapt into the new straightaway. There was another turn and then a straightaway near Charles’ home. If he could get enough distance between him and the police car, he had a chance to kill his lights and blaze into one of the long paved driveways of Westchester’s rich and infamous. Preferably one of Charles’ neighbors.
The rear tire spun on a patch of wet leaves on the road. The lack of traction startled Max, but he was loose on the stolen ZX6 and compensated. If the same had happened in a turn at speed, the likelihood of a highside fall would have been strong. Concentrating on the road ahead, Max angled his mirrors down and pulled away.
In the second turn, the right side panel bowed out and caught asphalt. It broke and ripped away. With any luck, he’d have Charles pick it up later.
“He’s really late,” Raven snorted. She was standing close to Charles in the evening’s cool humidity, trying not to shiver in her shorts and frilly tank top.
“Go back to the house,” Charles snapped. “It’s too late for a middle schooler to be out here.”
‘Out here’ was the end of their long driveway and ‘too late’ was pushing 1AM. Of course Max was late; Max was late approximately 50.738% of the time, which meant he was late more often than not. Not that he kept a running tally because he cared: statistics were important for future researchers.
“No. He wants my peroxide and you can’t have it. Besides,” Raven complained and held up her pink and blue pony, “he hasn’t seen Firefly yet.”
Charles raised one eyebrow and looked down at her blonde head in a master stroke of pure condescension. “You know his interest in your ponies is purely polite.”
“Whatever.” Raven responded at her most maddening. “Hey, do you hear sirens?”
The sirens had been coming closer for half a minute or so. Charles had thought little of them; they were common enough near the city. Raven’s query, however, reminded him that sirens in Westchester were uncommon enough, but at the late hour, definitely worth notice.
“So?” Charles shrugged anyway, playing at Max’s nonchalance. “They’re off the main road. Wait a moment and they’ll pass by.”
“I bet it’s Max,” Raven grinned, clutching her pony and the plastic bag with peroxide, rubber gloves, and plastic comb.
Raven’s idea wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility; Max happily instigated chases whether it was the police or rival motorcycle gangs.
“It might— ”
The Ninja roared by. Charles thought he caught a glimpse of a battered red helmet on the rider and a second white one under a cargo net, but in the evening light and flashing lights it was hard to tell. After all, it looked like the right side panel was missing.
“Whoah! Fast!” Raven enthused, and ran for the trees as the police car came on. Charles blinked and followed suit. It wouldn’t do to be seen standing around the street at nearly 1AM.
The police car passed in a blaze of lights and siren. Charles and Raven watched the lights until the car disappeared and then the reflection of red and blue through the trees until they too were gone. The siren echoed through the night before the two of them crept from the tree line and back to the driveway’s mouth.
“I’m going to marry him,” Raven told Firefly, “and we’re going to blow up the school. And move to Germany. Fuck yeah. Scheiße. ”
“Raven,” Charles sighed. “Language.”
“Deutsch doesn’t count,” the girl snorted.
“Let’s ask Max, shall we?” Charles tossed back, knowing full well the gravity of his suggestion.
Raven subsided quickly, dropping her pony and plastic bag to her thighs. Her head tilted down and too-blond hair slid forward to shield her rounded face. “No. Fine. …Sorry.”
They waited quietly a few more minutes. Charles checked the time on his clunky Nokia phone. 12:53. They were beyond late.
They both looked up when they heard the ZX6’s inline four coming their way. The lights were off, but the moon cut through the early foliage and revealed Max. He pulled up and put his feet down to steady the bike, but didn’t cut the engine. “Also schnell. Lass uns gehen.”
Charles knew schnell meant ‘fast’ or ‘go’ and hurried forward. He pulled the flawless white Nolan from under the cargo net and shoved it on his head. Meanwhile, Raven kept her pink pony close, but held out the bag of grooming implements.
“You should let me do it, Max,” she groused and kicked the front tire. “Charles’ll burn your scalp.”
Max took the bag and pressed it back to Charles, oblivious to Raven’s sudden outrage. Charles took the bag and felt both smug and sad for the obvious betrayal on her face. Quickly, Max reached out and squeezed her shoulder in his gloved hand. “No, I’ll do that myself. If you do well on your exam tomorrow, I’ll pick you up on Monday.”
The betrayal melted from her face. Charles snorted. When it came to Raven, Max could always spin gold from her snark. “Alright. Be careful okay?”
Max nodded and grabbed the clutch lever and brought his foot down on the shift pedal. Charles seized Max’s leather jacket at the motion, grabbing just in time for the Ninja to jump forward.