He crashed into the couch and knocked it over.
Danny stood in the bedroom doorway. Clothes disheveled and stained red with blood. Hands at his side, balled into fists. Looking at the mook from beneath lowered brows. "Leave them alone," he said.
Again, that tone of voice, and the hairs on the back of my neck saluted.
The mook rose from the fallen couch. "Nice trick, kid."
"You'd better go now," Danny said to him.
The mook shook his head. "Not without you."
"I'm not going anywhere," said Danny.
" 'Course you are," said the mook and started toward him.
Danny's face contorted with rage. He roared.
Then leaped at the mook, clearing the two meters between them, his hands grabbing at the collar of the man's tac vest. The mook grunted when Danny landed on him and stumbled back.
Danny rode him to the floor.
The mook bounced once on impact.
Danny straddled the mook's chest, picked him up by the tac vest collar, then shoved his head and upper torso through the floorboards with a sickening crunch.
The mook reached up with both hands, grabbing for Danny's throat.
Danny knocked one hand aside, grabbed the other wrist, and yanked. The arm parted from the mook's shoulder with a shriek of metal and a wet ripping noise.
The mook screamed.
Blood sprayed from the torn shoulder socket and arced over the living room carpet.
Felt a few droplets land on my face and my gut tightened. My mouth went dry, and I tasted bile in the back of my throat.
Danny tossed the arm aside then shoved the mook into the flooboards again and again and again, blood spattering across Danny's face, the man's screams turning into howls then tired gurgles.
Then it stopped.
Danny stared at the mook for a long moment, then let go of the man's vest. He stood, staggered away from the half-buried body and collapsed to his knees by the overturned couch, his back to us. Then he dropped forward on his hands and threw up.
She was on her knees looking at Danny, eyes wide. I met her gaze, saw her brow furrow.
Jake stepped into view just behind Mouse, his eyes narrowed, also looking at Danny. The muscles in his jaw clenched and unclenched.
Then: Movement by the bedroom door.
Swung the FAL up toward target. Jake drew his pistol and Mouse drew a wakizashi and they both turned.
Donovan clung to the doorway with her left hand. Her right arm hung limp at her side, covered in blood.
I dropped the rifle to low-ready position, forty-five degree angle pointing down.
"Danny," she said and stumbled toward him.
"Donovan," I said, taking a step in her direction and shaking my head. "You'd better--"
She shot me a look I recognized. It said: "Try it and I will end you."
I stopped in mid-step.
She held that gaze on me for what seemed a long time.
Then she went to Danny, dropped to her knees next to him, her back to us, wrapped her good arm around his shoulders, and pulled him toward her.
Danny said: "Aunt Mo?"
"Yes?" said Donovan.
"Can we go home now?"
Donovan looked back over her left shoulder at me, her face still serious, but no longer the look she'd given me earlier. Now it was tempered by something else.
Tempered by Danny.
I nodded at her.
She gave me a short nod and a quick thin smile and said to Danny, "Yes. We can."
"Okay," Danny said. He let out long sigh. "That's good."
Donovan pulled him closer to her and began to rock slowly back and forth.
I lowered the FAL to my side and turned first to Mouse, then to Jake. Saw concern etched on their faces.
"Your call," said Jake.
I looked at the half-buried figure in the floor, then back toward Donovan and found her looking at me.
"He's still a little boy," she said. "And you're still alive."
(to be continued...)