2010-07-14: Final Withdrawal

Starring:

Aaron_V5icon.pngGeorge_V5icon.png

TomWilkes_V5icon.png

Also starring:

MacKenzie Jones, care of the beloved Sydney

Dr. Coren Shelby and Agent Pratt, care of Aaron

Various Wilkes goons, care of Tom Wilkes

Date: July 14, 2010

Summary:

Tom Wilkes goes to make one last withdrawal.


"Final Withdrawal"

A New York City Bank

The news that Tom was brazen enough to attempt an assault — whether directly or not — on a senatorial candidate in order to send him a message was horrifying to hear. Coupled with the facts that, for two weeks, Aaron's been dating an old friend he had thought was dead since Tom's original attack on him and said girlfriend knew Tom, and it's a miracle his heart is still beating.

To make matters worse, her cell phone's off.

By the time Aaron and George reach the bank, Aaron's popping a fifth and sixth Advil since they gathered some few hours earlier. They've still not heard back from Elle and all attempts to contact Mac at the bank have failed.

"If that son of a bitch has touched her in any way, I'll fucking kill him with my bare hands," Aaron says as he leads the way up the front steps of the bank, passing a rather hairy and grizzled homeless person and two guards.

Entry into the bank is pretty straightforward, since it only amounts to passing the guards and entering the wide-open bank proper. The tellers are off to one side, with the offices in another. Standard bank setup. And like most banks, it seems like an endless line to the tellers.

Which just figures.

About the only way this day hasn't already collapsed into a steaming pile of disaster is that George has been expecting more shit-hitting-fans in general than usual, and warned his staff to buckle down for it in advance. Even so, the trip ran into some maddening traffic delays along the way.

And now Aaron is venting out loud. Juuuuuuust what they need. Okay, the guy has good reason, but— "I know. Ssh." A handout to the homeless guy serves to shift his attention to the next people approaching the building. The nearer guard, on the other hand, looks suspicious enough that George decides to take the direct route. "We think someone's going to assault one of the employees. Keep your eyes open." He maintains eye contact for a second longer - do you know who I am? - before the guard blinks and nods, taking a step back and glancing back and forth between the lobby and the parking lot.

Dressed rather businesslike in a black pencil skirt, white blouse, red belt, and red pumps, MacKenzie Jones issues each of her customers in turn with her irrepressible bright smile. Her blonde hair and small stature make her ideal for this job; she's not intimidating and she connects with customers, more than many within the department can boast. A warm, inviting smile plays on her lips as the next customer comes to her station, even if her gaze remains low while filling out the paperwork from her last customer. "Welcome~ Now what can I do for you today? Line of credit? High interest savings? Deposit?"

The devils are inside the walls.

People wait patiently. Business people. People with briefcases and suits. And normal people. Casual folks and stay-at-home moms. Just the sorts of people you want in banks so close to the end.

Of course, sometimes those things are just a facade. A man sets his briefcase down in front of Mac's counter, his head down and his long hair getting in the way of his face. His voice is a mumbled basso, unfamiliar and almost unintelligible. "Excuse me, I'm just so disorganized." There's a click. Perhaps from his briefcase, though that idea is tossed out the window quite quickly when the wig comes off. It's set down on the then-closed briefcase, revealing short, dark blond hair and goatee and insane hazel eyes. And the Desert Eagle that was the source of the first click. "I'm here to make a withdrawal," says the man.

Tom Wilkes.

"And I wouldn't bother with the silent alarm, we've handled that. Guards, too."

"My head's killing me," Aaron says to George. The motion in his periphery makes him nauseous, but it's not until the blast of a shotgun that he thinks anything of losing consciousness. He doesn't, but he nearly falls over and — for a moment, at least — wishes he had. "Well, that … Yeah, I got nothing."

There's a scream, and the guards of the bank are lead into the main foyer at gunpoint by a number of men in masks and military fatigues. Several more men appear from out of the offices, content on handling the bank's clientele.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Tom calls out. He looks to Mac and offers her a smile, "Now don't think about running off or anything, Miss Jones." He holds his gun up. "Ladies and gentleman, put your heads down and your hands up. No cell phones. Anyone caught doing anything stupid will be put down."

See? This. This is exactly the kind of fatally bad timing that would never happen to George any other time. But a month ago, he hadn't been caught up in all this - and a month from now, even if his ability came back, it'd probably be too late for Mac. This time is the only one he's got right now.

What's he going to do, though? Tom already tried to get him beat up before, he'd probably shoot him in the face if he tries anything now. With a sigh, he takes out his cell phone and sets it right down on the counter, drawing his hands back away from it afterward. No way he's making any calls on it now.

Eyes flit away from the paperwork to the man standing there. No alarm. No recourse. And already screaming. Mac's face pales. There's little she can do it seems. But underneath her desk, she pushes the alarm anyways; not actually convinced it's a bluff, but doing what she can to not take this without some semblance of a fight.

There's a silent pause at Tom's great reveal. She's a spitfire in general, but at this moment, all she can do is give way to the demands and try to negotiate. There are people here. Innocent people, and Mac has a great capacity for compassion, yet what's not to guarantee he won't shoot everyone anyways? There's none. Not with someone so sociopathic in the building.

She finally speaks. One word, non-judgmental, but quietly pleading for him to leave these people alone; to leave her alone. "Tom."

Her eyes watch him intently, especially as her lips part again, "I… I can help you. We can help you. You need… you need to stop this… please." Underneath her counter she discreetly fidgets for something anything of use, particularly something heavy. All she finds is a stapler. Silently she opens the stapler like someone aiming to staple a poster to the wall, and waits, keeping her hand below the desk with the sole weapon she has.

"Did you not hear me? Head down and hands up. Mac," Tom says, his eyes narrow. He holds the gun forward, facing Mac.

Which is about the point Aaron spots her. His face pales along with Mac's and he can't help but move forward. He actually tosses his cell phone on the ground as he moves. He's nearly accosted by one of the goons, who begin giving the bank's patrons live grenades to hold onto, when Tom stops him.

He turns his back on Mac, "Ah, Aaron. You can keep your hands free, and your head up." He pulls out a pair of black gloves and closes the distance between him and the other musician. "You get to help." He holds the gloves over.

"Tom." It's far from Mac's plea, that's for sure. The tone is the same as someone who may have prepended the statement with a particularly callous expletive. Fuck you, Tom.

He takes the gloves anyway and leans a little closer to whisper to Tom. "I hope you die, you son of a bitch."

Tom offers Aaron a sneer in return before addressing his goons, "Barricade the doors." He turns back to Mac and says, "You can come out from behind there," before looking at the other tellers, "All of you. I don't care how — climb if you have to — but you have ten seconds to be on the floor or people start dying."

The goon squad has nothing to fear from George, at least. Hands flat on the nearest stretch of counter, phone a good five or six feet away— they could put a bullet in his head, or just a fist in his gut, well before he could get to it.

That his emergency plan for this trip relies on him not using his phone? There's no sign of it on his face. Good thing he's been trained for that sort of thing.

There's a certain amount of distrust that Tom has earned thanks to sending an entire hall of people up in flames. With anyone else, Mac would be a good little banker and raise her hands to the roof. With Tom? She doesn't hesitate to slink from around the counter (as per his instructions) hands down (disregarding his instructions). Once he's in sight? Her survival instinct kicks in, choosing to staple anywhere she can. Will it get her shot? Possibly. But even with this knowledge, maiming him can only mean better things overall for the people here, and the goal, as always, is to subscribe to the needs of the many when compared to the needs of the few.

Being stapled is far more painful than it looks. His arms are far more vulnerable than his hands, which are safely gloved. They manage to get through his thin coat and into the flesh of his arms. Curiously, Tom doesn't shoot her. One of his goons grabs her, bodily, to secure her makeshift weapon. She'll be personally restrained thanks to her actions and gets to receive a very fitting punishment in the eyes of the madman Wilkes.

He says nothing. He scarcely glances at the other tellers as they comply quite accurately with his requests, and yet still he puts a bullet in one of their heads. His eyes then affix on Mac even as Aaron tries to struggle past one of the goons as he's grabbed. Tom stares down at Mac. "Every time you don't comply with my requests, someone will die." He turns to look at the struggling Aaron, "Same goes for you and everyone else. Now stop fighting and get me a phone."

Aaron stops struggling. He takes a few looks around, the situation reeling in his head as he fights to maintain his own sanity through the stabbing pain behind his eyes. He doesn't have the time for the thoughts that flood his mind, though. Do I have a tumour? Am I having a brain aneurysm? He has to find a phone. There's a man my age on the floor with a bullet in his head. His eyes scrape the floor for where his own phone went and when he finds it, he snatches it up and offers it to Tom. The fact that he's complying makes him nauseous. It's either that or the headache.

It's not the first time George has had to watch someone suddenly gunned down - but it's nowhere near being any easier than the first time. "Dammit, just smash and grab and go." Even if the emergency plan does its thing, there's no way it's doing that teller any good - nor any of the others, if Tom decides to strike out again as he promised.

MacKenzie gasps as her colleague is shot. Her eyes widen and the stapler is easily surrendered to the thugs that restrain her. Her entire body stiffens within their grasp, while she might be more apt to cooperate, now she's also entirely dead weight in the baddies' clutches. "Tom…" her voice is heavy as she concedes, that pleading tone carrying throughout.

Tom takes the phone and dials 9-1-1. "This is Tom Wilkes, I believe you're looking for me. You can track which bank I am at using this cell phone, but I would advise against it or responding to any other emergency calls that might lead you here. I have hostages, amongst them Aaron Michaels and George Dawson. I also have grenades for all of the customers and staff and forty-seven pounds of semtex rigged in various locations. Suffice it to say, if any of my men spot law enforcement within one hundred yards of this building, I will detonate." He flips the phone closed and sets it on top of the counter.

"Come, Aaron, we have some safety deposit boxes to empty. Boys, give the man his gun and Aaron, do remember the rules. Do anything stupid, and people get shot. Likewise, if anyone does anything stupid, you shoot them." He removes his coat — and embedded staples — and leads the way to the vault.

As Aaron follows Tom and is passed a weighty magnum — which he has no idea how to handle properly — he gives Mac a piteous and apologetic look. "There has to be some way out of this, Tom. You haven't thought this through — there's no way out. Even if the police hold off, you really think you're going to get out of here alive?"

"Chill out, Aaron. We've been through a lot together. You of all people should know how easy it is to survive."

"You call this easy?"

The goons continue their distribution of live grenades to the bank's patrons. At this point, most everyone is seated and keeping their eyes firmly affixed on the floor, and smartly so. Still, there are sadly those amongst the men that are not too smart. Some people are cowardly. Others like playing the hero. Bravery's just another word for stupid.


"Ah, Doctor Shelby."

"Agent Pratt," Dr. Shelby says in greetings as he steps up to the police and FBI barricade. He hasn't spotted any, but he suspects DHS is there as well, having heard someone mention the word terrorist. "Any particular reason we're so far away from the … bank is it?"

"Right. Guy inside claims to have forty-seven pounds of Semtex. Says he'll blow it if we get any closer than a hundred yards. We want you to tell us if he's on the level or not."

"What do we know about him?"

"He burned down an entire music hall to kill one guy, and he failed."

"To kill the guy or to burn the place down?"

"To kill the guy."

"Well, that must have pissed him off. What the hell's he doing 'ere?"

"We were hoping you could tell us."

"The guy he tried to kill in there?"

"Yeah."

"Well then, if I had to guess, I'd say he's not bluffing. But why don't we have a little chat with him, shall we?"


"You know Tom, you can just kill me and leave. I certainly won't be able to stop you if I'm dead, and I know the rest of the folks out there won't after that little show."

"I'm not going to kill you, Aaron."

Aaron can barely hear the words over all the buzzing in his ears. "Fucking coward," he says. "Just kill me, you worthless piece of shit." He stands aside, up against the wall perpendicular to the safety deposit boxes. "I'm not helping you rob a bank."

Tom turns to him, a grin playing across his lips. The grin turns sour when he can tell from Aaron's determined look that he's not just playing. He charges Aaron and rams him against the wall.

"Get him out of here," he says to his men. "It's time for a time out."

Aaron's dragged back to the main foyer shortly after the dead body has been removed by one of the thugs, leaving only a pool of blood. He's shoved in Mac's direction and only barely stops his forward momentum in time to avoid running into her. After setting his gun on the counter, he shoves the man restraining Mac away and reaches out to her. "I'm so sorry for all of this."

"All right," Tom says as he approaches from the back. "Pin the grenades. Get everyone out of here." And then he points at Mac, Aaron, and George, "Except for those three."

The hostages are all too happy to get the hell out of Dodge— they don't want Tom and his gunmen to get away with anything either, but it's not in their hands. It doesn't seem to be in George's hands, either: he just leans forward, chin in hands. Waiting. Mac's already put a hitch in Tom's step; maybe there'll be an opening soon for him to get in another one.

Tears are welling in Mac's eyes and run down her cheeks, her quiet sensitivity moving forward while her survival instinct remains. She clings to Aaron when he gets close, choosing to close her eyes as he comes against close. She's fighting her inner instincts. Her face remains pale as her fingers knit around him. "It's not your fault," her voice cracks around the whisper, it's raspy thanks to the moisture she's lost through her tears.

Tom wanders over to the counter where Aaron left 'his' gun and picks it up. He handles it carefully, looking it over. Two of his men flank him. Bodyguards. He holsters his Desert Eagle in favour of the magnum only after the last hostage has left.

Aaron kisses Mac's forehead once he's seen that all of the hostages — well, save them, anyway — have vacated the building. He gives Mac one last squeeze before carefully unlatching her — "It'll be OK," he says to her — so he can stand up to Tom. Finally. It's time to end the madness. "Seems to be just down to us, Tom."

"Not quite like you think, dearest Aaron."


"Well, that's something you certainly don't see every day," Dr. Shelby says, pointing towards the bank door.

"What?" Pratt asks, in the midst of dialling the phone. He looks over to where Shelby's pointing. He never finishes dialling.

"Those your hostages?" Shelby asks.

Agent Pratt hangs up the phone. "I guess so." He speaks into his walkie, "All right, move in and secure the hostages," and then points at Shelby, "And you start asking them questions. I want to know what the hell's going on in there."

As Pratt and Shelby near the bank, it's not hard to hear the gunshot. Those inside hear it even better.


Aaron doesn't need to turn around. He couldn't possibly explain it if he tried, but he saw, or at least felt, her body drop to the ground even though he wasn't facing her. He felt the bullet whip through the air. He felt the movement. His head spins and he fights the urge to vomit.

Maybe Tom told the goons in advance that he had this in mind. Maybe they just got what he was getting at when he spoke up at the end. Whatever the reason, they glance away for just a fraction of a second— enough for George's thin veneer of patience to finally snap. All at once, he lunges for a nearby paperweight, picks it up and chucks it in a single motion… he's never had good aim, but it's all he can think of.

Aaron finally turns, some second after Mac's body has hit the ground, her head having made a sickening thunk-splat as it entered the pool of blood from her co-worker, who died the same way. The world seems to stand still for Aaron as he watches her face. At least the fear's gone from it. Just like the fear has slipped away from him. His headache seems secondary, even as Tom nearly falls over.

The magnum has tumbled to the floor as Tom grips his head with his hand. Blood leaks from the gash on his temple from where he was struck with the 13.5 ounce decision paperweight. He wobbles some as he reaches down for the paperweight — originally intending to grab at the gun — all the while his goons encroach on George for his moment of stupidity. Tom sets the slightly bloodied paperweight on the counter and spins it. "Should I shoot him, too?" he asks it. It spins around and around and around.

Tomorrow. Sit On It. Yes. Today. Pass the buck. Maybe. Reorganize.

No.

[ Music ]

Tom stares at the paperweight and then turns to George. "It's your lucky day, Congressman Dawson." He looks to his men, "Keep them here and keep your guns on them. We're not leaving until we have what we came for. And clean that up.

There must be some way out of here

Said the joker to the thief

The guards keep the two men far apart, George off to Aaron's right. "Don't suppose you have anymore bright ideas?" Aaron asks George, once the guards have backed off some. Their guns are still pointed towards the two, though, and Mac's body is gone. The guards seem perfectly content to just stand there aiming their weapons, ready to fire. The magnum sits on the floor, between the pool of blood and Aaron, where he sits up near an outer wall, his gloved hands clasped together, his left index finger tapping against the other hand.

There's too much confusion

I can't get no relief

Things whorl about his mind. The movement, the motion. Everything seems to be fitting into place for him. If George doesn't have a plan, he does.

"I wish," says George, sighing and leaning heavily against the desk once again. That was probably as far as he can push his luck today— and, damn it all, it wasn't far enough to help Mac. "I. I'm sorry, man, I tried."

Businessmen they drink my wine

Plowmen dig my earth

He glances from side to side at the guards, but after he drew blood from Harvey Tom, they're not inclined to take their eyes off him for even a second. One of them is visibly nervous himself.

None of them along the line

Know what any of it is worth

"It's not your fault," Aaron says, though his voice cracks and it's mostly inaudible. He can't give in to that darkness again. He's slipped into despair before. It's never gotten him particularly far. Last time he was in a psychiatric hospital for nearly a year. Let's not have a repeat. His eyes focus on the gun, gripping it in his mind. It barely twitches, but it's enough for him to notice. The guards are far too fixed on watching the two of them — George, in particular — to notice the barely-movement of the gun.

No reason to get excited

The thief he kindly spoke

Grenades.

There are many here among us

Who feel that life is but a joke

Aaron shifts his focus to the supply of grenades, his right brow upturned. He quirks a smile to George. "Just remember: they fought amongst themselves."

But you and I, we've been through that

And this is not our fate

The words get the suspicion of the guards who grow even more nervous as Aaron stands up. The one training his weapon on Aaron raises his shotgun.

So let us not talk falsely now

The hour is getting late

"I want to see your boss," he says to them. "He and I go way back, in case you didn't notice. You guys really have explosives?" He inclines his head towards the grenades, "Other than those?"

The guards look at each other. Nervous. Sweat drips down from the top of their brow to the bottom of the eyes of their masks.

"I'll take that as a no."

It's like watching those long chess matches, or perhaps a duel. Waiting for someone to draw first. Aaron stands there, stock-still, eyes fixed on the two guards even as his mind reaches out for something else. Mostly he's just waiting.

A grenade rolls across the floor. It's not live, but it's enough to be noticed and it's enough to be very distracting.

Aaron rushes to George to grab him and haul him towards the exit, "They fought amongst themselves."

The pin falls out.

What the hell is Aaron up to? He knows Tom, he at least has somewhat of a better idea what sort of muscle Tom would hire… but on the other hand, he could very well be not thinking straight right now. George stays still, quiet—

—until, a split second before he's grabbed, he spots the grenade moving out of the corner of his eye. He only needs the barest of encouragement to form a thought of his own: get the hell away from it.

By the time they've gotten three paces into the run, he's even started to rehearse what he'll tell the cops.

Which was the precise thinking Aaron had. What to tell the cops. "They fought amongst themselves," he says one last time. The magnum soars into his hand and the grenade explodes.

All along the watchtower

The guards scramble as Aaron teeters with the weight for a moment.

princes kept the view

While all the women came and went

He pushes George out the front door and then runs into the back, headed for the vault.

barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance

The explosion has attracted the other guards, who come to see what is going on. The instant they see Aaron with the gun, they raise their weapons to fire—

a wildcat did growl

—only to be swatted away like flies, shoved so hard against the walls that they drop their weapons. The air leaves them a moment, breath knocked out of them.

Two riders were approaching

It's enough time for Aaron to get to the large vault door. Tom spots him.

the wind began to howl, yeah!

"What the hell?"

Aaron shoves Tom back without but a thought, the other man toppling over into the vault. He steps over the threshold, staring at the man who has taken everything from him. It seems funny to him that Tom felt the same. That's why he tried to kill him the first time. Tom thought Aaron stole the woman he was meant to be with.

"I hope you die, Tom. I've tried to forgive you and move on with my life, but you keep interfering. You keep coming back. No more."

All along the watchtower~

The vault door closes behind them, locking them in — at least until bank staff can open it. "It looks like it's just you and me now, Tom. None of your goons are left here to protect you." He holds up the magnum. It's not a comfortable fit, for sure. He'd probably go for something more compact. Less noticeable. But then, it's clear Tom likes big guns.

"So it is, Aaron. So it is. But you're forgetting something."

"Oh yeah, what's that?"

click

"I have a gun, too."

Fin.

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