Two Minutes. More than enough time to get out. Reno chuckled cheerfully to himself, when he activated the time fuse of the bomb they had brought with them. With practiced ease he pulled his PHS from his pocket and short dialed Rude to tell them it was time to clear out.

"Yo, Rude!" he greeted casually, not waiting for his partner to answer. "You should leave now. I just started the countdown!" Even though Rude didn't say a word, Reno noticed his partner's unease immediately.

"What's wrong?" he asked, seemingly disinterested, fetching a cigarette from the almost empty pack in his pocket. No sooner had he lit it than Rude found his tongue.

"Everything alright at your end?" Reno blinked perplexedly.

"Sure," he replied. "Couldn't be better. Why are you asking?"

"Hn …" Rude hesitated and Reno was confused. Everything went well so far. And now wasn't the best time for idle talk. Not to mention that Rude wasn't one to talk much in the first place. Why start now of all times?

"One minute, thirty seconds left," Reno reminded him, taking a pull on his cigarette.

"Huh?"

"Damn it, Rude, get outta here! The thing's gonna blow!"

He heard his partner muttering a silent curse, heard him barking orders at Elena; then hurried footsteps.

"Be careful," Rude warned. "Some offices were empty. We didn't get them all."

"Yeah, sure. See you outside, partner," Reno replied, hardly worried by his words, and ended the call. The missing people might have called in sick for all they knew. No need to get all worked up about it.

A cursory glance at the timer told him that only 75 seconds remained until detonation. It was high time to evacuate the building.

Reno pocketed his PHS and turned to leave, when suddenly he felt the cool, smooth barrel of a gun pressed up against his temple. Somebody had soundlessly stepped behind him and he hadn't been wary enough to notice them in time. Well, shit. A distinct clicking sound informed him that they had released the safety catch.

So that was what Rude had warned him about. These filthy crooks had actually managed to escape his partner and had gotten cocky, most probably caught up in the delusion that they'd gained the upper hand, which made them feel safe and overly self-confident. He heaved a sigh. There was a lesson guys like them always had to learn the hard way: never underestimate a Turk. Even if they were alone.

"Hey, you!" he began coldly. "Just what exactly are you hoping to achieve with that?"

"I want you to stop the fucking timer!" the man hissed. He was very close. So close, in fact, that Reno felt his breath on the bare skin right below his ear. Reno managed to detect a hint of nervousness within his voice, although the man attempted to hide it. His hands were trembling slightly, too. He didn't stand a chance.

"Stop the fucking timer! Stop it right now!" He'd already started screaming, Reno noted with interest. 50 seconds left.

"Stop it, you son of a bitch! I won't be the only one getting blown to smithereens, if you don't get your ass in gear!"

"You don't say!" Casually Reno threw his cigarette to the floor and stubbed it out. "Unfortunately, that's not what I think. 45 seconds. I'm terribly sorry."

He wasn't, really. In one single, fluent movement he grabbed the assailant's arm and threw him over his right shoulder. A shot went off, but the bullet didn't even graze him, hitting the far wall instead. Sooner than the man could even raise his head, Reno kicked him in the stomach with enough force to make him lose consciousness.

"So sorry," he repeated, smiling. "Seems you're gonna be the only one, who's getting blown to smithereens today."

A second time he glanced at the timer of the bomb. 30 seconds left. If he didn't want to prove the soon to be dead man right and let this become his final mission, it was time to scramble. Thus, he left without any further hesitation.

Running like he had the Devil on his trail, Reno reached the staircase leading down to the first floor. When his foot touched the first step, he started counting down the remaining seconds out loud: 16, 15, 14, 13, 12 … Soon he realized that he wouldn't make it to the front door, no matter how fast he ran. That left him no choice but to jump out of a window. Thankfully it wouldn't be a long fall; an estimated 13 feet at the most.

Hastily he ripped the nearest window open and climbed onto the sill. If he had counted right, there weren't but five seconds to go. Not having the time to hesitate for long, he pushed himself off, trying to jump as far away from the building as possible. His odds of survival would be slim, if he stayed too close to the bomb.

When the bomb detonated, Reno hadn't even touched the ground. The shock wave sent him flying and he felt strangely weightless, whilst bits and splinters of glass and concrete came drumming down on him like a hailstorm. Flames erupted hot and bright behind his back and then his flight came to a sudden end. As there was no way for him to break his fall, he hit the dirty road behind the building full force, only just managing to protect his head. He tasted blood and heard his PHS ring. Then his battered body simply gave up and the world before his eyes went black.

~tbc~


Author's Note: This story was first published on a German site in 2010. While rewriting it, I altered a few details, but the plot is still the same, so there's really no need to re-read it, if you already know the German version. Won't be updated regularly, as I am a very busy girl. Please enjoy regardless. :-)