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infinite twilight, pt.III - the defining moment


Jan 1, 2000
upstate NY
The flight to Europe, take two.

Max sat in the same uncomfortable, plastic seat he found himself in just a few days prior - the same gate - the same flight itinerary. The only difference lay in the weather. Finally, the snow had let up. Finally, the sun had broken through the thick patch of heavy clouds and began to eat away at the cold - bit by bit. Just nibbling away.

Arms folded untrustingly, Max took in the busy terminal - the families, the businessmen, the students. He didn't care much for airports; never had. But this time was different. This time ... he knew it was a necessity. He had been away for too long.

And now, Max was ready. Ready for the flight. For stepping back onto British soil for the first time in nearly a decade. Ready to catch the connection flight to Switzerland. Then to compete at a house show that night. Ready for his first match in almost a year. Ready to take on the world, to give it a stiff kick or three, then send it on it's doomed way.


- - - - - -

Thirty-seven dollars. Not bad, Bridget thought to herself with a smirk. She had paid for the cab-ride to JFK International Airport with the very last of her money. It was her first and only impulse, the airport -- to get out of New York as fast as she possibly could.

Sonny knew she was in the City. As if playing "Hide and Seek", Sonny's phone call days ago had been him figuratively closing his eyes and counting to ten. Soon, his countdown would end - if it hadn't already ... and then he would come after her. He would find her. And the game would be over. Sonny wins, as always.

This time, the stakes were far too high for her to lose.

The thirty-seven dollars fanned out in her hands had been begged out of the pocketbooks and wallets of four seperate travellers. Each had been told a slightly different story from a slightly beautiful, slightly pregnant, slightly dishevelled woman with tears (slightly) in her eyes. A story about desperation. About a kidney, or in one case, heart transplant that the young woman's father was undergoing in California. All the young lady needed was another twenty dollars. That's all she needed. And she would be so appreciative.

And she was.

No, Bridget didn't get the full twenty out of any of them as she had hoped. But, each time ... she'd gotten something. Also, she was getting better at it as she went. Stuffing the cash in her front jeans pocket - her eyes roamed the bustling airport all around her -- looking for just the right mark.

This time, she told herself with confidence, she was going to ask for forty. Then she'd have more than enough money for a one-way ticket ... just about anywhere.

... she hadn't given much consideration about WHERE yet.

First things, first...

"What about THAT guy?", she quietly whispered towards her stomach - eyes locked on the next prospective "donator".

- - - - - -

Glancing at his watch, Max sighed. Forty minutes to boarding. Getting to his feet - stretching - Max's eyes were caught by the long bulletin board on the near wall, surprised he hadn't seen it before. It was almost overwhelming. His eyes squinted.

From border to border, it was covered. The majority of the postings were Police bulletins; Missing Posters, Wanted Posters, Advisory's, etc. But in every spare place, and in MANY cases, all across and covering the Police bulletins were commercial fliers, business cards, and advertisements. Quickly bored with it, Blackshire glanced over his shoulder at his carry-on bag and jacket lying on the seats and, convinced of their security, made off towards the Beverage Cart, fishing his wallet out of his back pocket grudgingly.

Before making it to the cart, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Excuse me", she said. And she was beautiful. In a plain way. Max didn't reply, his grim expression unchanging. Bridget was momentarily taken off guard, but quickly recovered. "I ... was hoping you could help me."

Max frowned, glancing at his wrist watch.

"It's 6:30", he told her flatly, then started back off towards the vendor.

"No, I--", she began.

"In the PM", he clarified.

Bridget stood dumb-founded, at first ... then narrowed her gaze at the square of his back. This guy was going to be a challenge, Bridget thought.

Max turned around, water bottle in one hand as he tucked is wallet in his back pocket. He spotted Bridget in front of him and blatantly attempted to step around her. She didn't cooperate, however.

"Hey, hang on ... It's an emergency!", she pleaded.

Max stopped, giving her another once over. Slowly, with some amusement. "Call a crisis hotline, love. My flight's taking off in a bit and, to be truthful, I don't have the energy to deal with an 'emergency'. Especially one s'not my own."

"I'll only take a moment of your time--", she shot back.

"Already have", Max said, brushing past her.

She followed after him, fists balled, defiant.

"Listen, I'm stranded here!", she called out after him. "At the airport! My purse was stolen and ... and my father is having a kidney transplant operation in Los Angeles ... I've just got to be there, you HAVE to understand!"

Max settled back down in his chair, amused that this woman had followed him all the way prattling on with what Max could clearly tell was a ruse of some kind. And a shoddy one at that.

"Why?", Max asked.

Bridget blinked at the stranger - her fascade breaking again for just a second. "What do you mean, 'why'? My father is having an operation! I have to be there!"

Max snickered. "Are you going to *assist*? ... if not, relax. Medicine has come a long way ... the very same procedure is performed thousands of times a day, blah blah blah ... am I done, now?"

Stumped, Bridget stammered for a moment - visibly fuming.

"Let me tell you something, a heart transplant is a VERY serious procedure!", she shouted -- and Max grinned.

"I thought you said it was a kidney transplant?", he said. "Sorry, babe ... I can't help you. But, want some advice? ... work the pregnancy angle", Max advised with a finger pointed towards her stomach.

Having now completely discarded the ploy, Bridget's face was a scowl of disgust and frustration. "...a__hole", she noted before stomping off, leaving Max with a true smile on his face.

Time slowly passed, as time is known to do, and Max remained in his seat. Growing tired of waiting, and tired in general, Max slouched with much disinterest. He went rigid for a moment as a uniformed Police Officer appeared to be approaching him just before heading for the bulletin board. Max watched absently as the cop removed ALL of the commercial ad-fliers, a select few of the Missing/Wanted Posters ... then posted several NEW ones before moving on.

Max glanced at them briefly, from his admittedly poor vantage point ... then snapped his attention back at one in particular. Rising to his feet and getting nearly nose-to-picture ... Max smiled once more.

Unpinning the picture, Max checked his watch, smiled, then threw on his coat before slinging his carry-on bag over his shoulder.

He had a "missing persons" to find.

- - - - - -

Sixty-eight dollars. Grinning ear to ear, she stuffed the wad into her jeans pocket and came out of the bathroom -- eyes looking up for the DEPARTURE - ARRIVALS board. The sooner she could be away from here, the better. Scanning the departures, she read the destinations aloud.

"London, Dublin, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, New Orle--"

Stepping before her, Max held out a folded piece of white paper. Surprised and probably more than a little scared, Bridget took an unconscious step back.

"Y'might be interested in this", Max informed her as she took it from him.

Unfolding it, her face went white.

"...sonny, no...", she muttered.

'MISSING: Bridget Monroe', it read, with two photographs. One a close-up that Sonny snapped on the porch of their house. The other a cropped photo from their wedding day.

"...looks like you DO have an emergency", Max said jokingly before turning and walking away. She dropped the Missing Poster where she stood.

Bridget reeled around, eyes back at the DEPARTURES board. "i-gotta-get-outta-here ... i-gotta-get-outta-here ... i-gotta-get-outta-here ... i-gotta-get-outta-here", she stammered. Overhearing her, Max stopped, eyes turned to slits as he eyed her over his shoulder.

"Next-flight ... next-flight ... CLEVELAND!!", she realized, now frantically looking for the USAIR ticket counter -- she charged off towards it.

Max glanced at his watch again. Seven minutes to boarding.

"...f_ck me...", he muttered, heading in the direction which she disappeared after snatching the poster from the ground.

- - - - - -

Sweating and fidgetting, Bridget saw that she was next in line. Her ID and cash were already in her hand, ready to present. The flight was due to board in ten minutes, just enough time, she hoped, to get a seat and get AWAY from where she knew that Sonny, and now she feared, the POLICE were looking for her.

Eyes wide and obvious, her head darted all around, looking for anyone who might be looking for her. She never saw Max come up behind her.

"You're about to make a mistake", he said. She jumped in fright, spinning around.

"What're you talking about?", she asked, her voice cracking.

Max looked around cautiously. "Your name, Bridget", he said waving the Missing poster at her. "By now it's on the local database. Chances are you'll be able to buy the ticket and get on the plane - no problem - the problem will arrise when you get OFF that plane and Cleveland's Finest are standing on the bloody tarmac waiting for you!"

A tear rolled down her cheek. "I ... I can't go back!"

"Listen to me", he told her. "Book an international flight ... the international missing persons database isn't kept up in real-time. You'll stand a much better chance."

He started to turn away, when Bridget grabbed him by the arm. "How do YOU know that?"

Max looked at her as if he were looking into her. "Experience."

They held their gaze for a moment, awkward and unsure, then finally broken by a page over the PA system.

"I ... I don't have enough money for an international flight...", she realized allowed, digging back into her pockets.

Max looked at her, unclear on what he knew he was about to do. Sure only that it was probably a bad idea. Sure only that it was, under any circumstances, NOT a thing to do when you're about to take your life back.

But he did it anyway.

"...the next flight out is to London", he told her, displaying his ticket. "I know some ... people there who might be able to help you out, get you on your feet ... whatever."

He turned towards the gate and started off ... Bridget took a moment to consider her options, then realized she had none.

And so, Max bought her her ticket, one that placed her several rows back from him, and handed it to her.

"I don't want there to be any ... strings attached to this", she said as she opened it up, checking it.

"--TO LONDON, ENGLAND, NOW BOARDING AT--", the 'man behind the curtain' announced over the loudspeaker.

Max didn't dignify her comment with a response as he adjusted the bag over his shoulder and got in line to board.

"...you don't even know who I am...", she told him.

Max frowned for a moment, dug into his jacket pocket and produced the Missing Poster. "Bridget Monroe", he read aloud.

"...you don't know why I'm ... running", she meekly stated.

Max shrugged, sweeping the hair from his eyes. "We all have our reasons. ... have a nice flight."

Turning back to the line, Max got his boarding pass ready just as he felt a tug on the back of his coat.

Bridget bit her lower lip, curiously. "...I don't even know your name..."

"No", Max told her, with some sense of reserved satisfaction. "You don't."

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