"Come on buddy, why not?"
"I said no, dude. You know why."
Guerrero sat back down at his laptop, absentmindedly picking at a carton of cold chow mein. Chance had followed him from the kitchen and was now leaning in the doorway, arms crossed and definitely not willing to drop the matter. From time to time Guerrero would glance up but Chance had the patience of a sniper. Guerrero poked around for a while online, accessing and deleting any inconvenient footage or records of their latest case. Traffic cameras seemed to be popping up everywhere in the city these days and someone was starting to take notice of just how often footage kept getting "accidentally" wiped off the system. They were even making some effort to protect the system with new firewalls, and encryptions. This amused Guerrero. It didn't slow him down in the slightest but he enjoyed the thought of some bureaucrat losing sleep over his missing footage.
Ten minutes later, Chance still hadn't moved. Guerrero snapped the lap top shut and leaned back, resting his boots on the desk. He stared at Chance. Chance stared back. It was an old game and one both players were exceptionally good at. They could have stayed there frozen, unwilling to back down, all afternoon if Winston hadn't appeared behind Chance.
"Guerrero stay the hell out of my office!" He pushed past Chance and knocked Guerrero's feet off of his desk. When neither man spoke Winston caught on to what was going on.
"Oh Lord! What is it this time? Can't agree on a takeout? Who would win in a fight to the death a blind Superman or the Hulk with no legs?" Winston paused, hopelessly waiting for some kind of explanation or failing that, signs of intelligent life. Nothing. These staring contests creeped Winston out. He never understood why some disagreements between the two of them would go on at length and at an uncomfortable volume whilst others barely a word was spoken and a staring contest would break out.
"You know the two of you are ridiculous don't you? It like working with a couple of school kids! Can't you take your school yard games somewhere else? This is MY office!"
Chance took pity on Winston and broke the silence, although the stare remained.
"We have a case."
"No, dude, we don't."
"Yes, we do. But Guerrero doesn't want us to take it."
"Okay," Winston resigned himself to the role of peacemaker. "A case would be good. What's the problem?"
"It's not a real case dude. It's a joke." Guerrero really did not look happy.
"Oh. Come on! You still holding that against him? It was like ten years ago!"
"Eight actually. And it wasn't exactly an isolated incident, dude." Was Guerrero sulking?
"Will one of you please tell me what is going on?" Winston asked. "Do we have a case or not?"
Both men replied simultaneously:
"I think I preferred it when you were just eyeballing it. Who is the potential client?" Winston demanded.
"It's guy called Powell. We worked a couple of jobs with him for the old man." said Chance.
"Doesn't sound like the kind of guy we should be helping out."
"He's not dude. The guy is majorly fucked in the head. You don't want anything to do with him. Trust me."
"Oh, come on Guerrero!" Chance laughed. "You're just pissed because he beat you at your own game!"
"He did not beat me dude, he sabotaged me. There's a difference. We were supposed to be on the same side working the same job!"
Winston couldn't help but be fascinated by the concept of Guerrero complaining about someone not being a team player. The man was a retired professional killer and the closest thing to a lone wolf walking around on two legs. Despite the three of them working closely together for some time now Winston knew Chance was the only man Guerrero really trusted, so who was this Powell guy and how did he pull one over easily the most guarded man Winston had ever met? More than once! Winston seized the opportunity to aggravate Guerrero.
"Wait a minute Guerrero, maybe we should hear Chance out. We don't have anything on the books right now."
Guerrero glared at him, knowing that Winston was trying to press his buttons. Chance stifled a laugh.
"Fine." Guerrero said, exasperated with them both. "Go ahead. You're on your own though. I am not working this job."
"You don't even know what it is yet!" said Chance.
"Don't need to know dude, not when Powell is involved." Despite Guerrero's adamant protests, he didn't make a move to leave the office.
Interesting, thought Winston.
Usually when Guerrero didn't want to get involved with something, he'd just take off and yet he was still sitting there, arms folded in what was definitely looking like a sulk.
"Would it make a difference if I told you Kelly was involved?" Chance said, watching for his reaction. Guerrero tensed at the mention of Kelly's name.
"Okay, you're definitely messing with me now, dude. There's no way Kelly would have anything to do with Powell. She hates the guy."
Winston could feel the conversation drifting away from him and as much as he liked to aggravate Guerrero he wanted to know if there was a job or not.
"So who's Kelly and what's the job?" Winston asked.
Disclaimer: Human Target property of Fox. Additional characters and story mine.
Disclaimer: Human Target property of Fox. Additional characters and story mine.
"Powell is what you'd call freelance, as in really freelance. He's got no agenda as such, other than taking the jobs that pay the best or that he finds interesting in some way." Chance explained. "When it comes to tech or anything involving computers in any way, he's the best."
"Better than Guerrero?" Winston asked, unable to resist such an easy shot.
"Way better than me, dude. But that's not the issue here." Guerrero seemed unphased by the challenge to his digital expertise, confirming that his issue with Powell was a personal one.
"Guerrero and Powell don't really get on." Guerrero snorted at the understatement. "There have been a couple of incidents when Powell managed to hack Guerrero's intel and compromise it before he had the chance to hand it to our old boss."
"Surely you checked it before you handed it over? Kept it on a secure drive or something?" Winston asked.
Guerrero glared at him. "We're not talking about handing over a homework assignment here, dude. It was secure. I still don't know how exactly he managed to do it but he hacked encrypted files on a secure, non-networked device in the time it took me to walk across the room and hand it to the old man. It wasn't just a virus corrupting the files either. He just messed with very specific, very significant details. Just enough to render the intel dangerously inaccurate without drawing attention to the fact that it had been messed with. That first time I nearly got it both barrels from the old man and I'm not talking figuratively, dude."
"Okay, so he likes screwing with Guerrero's work. I can understand how that would upset you but…. How do I put this?" Winston paused. "How come the guy is still breathing? This was back in the bad old days, right? Why didn't you just…" he mimed firing a gun.
Chance laughed. "The old man considered Powell an asset, despite his sense of humour where Guerrero's work was concerned. As much as Guerrero would have loved to have killed the guy it wasn't worth the trouble it would have caused with the old man. Plus there was Kelly to consider."
"Dude, I'm warning you…"
"Who's Kelly?" Winston asked, ignoring Guerrero's warning.
"… leave it alone, Chance. I'm not kidding!"
"Powell's sister." Chance was now grinning.
"You're dead to me dude."
"Oh, I see." Winston was smiling too now. "I take it there was some 'ungentlemanly conduct' involved."
"Something like that. He never did tell me the details."
"That's because it was none of your business! It was complicated."
"Not that complicated, buddy. Powell asked you too keep his little sister out of harms way in a safe house for a week and she took a bit of a shine to you, didn't she?"
"How little?" growled Winston.
"For Christ sake, she was twenty three! It wasn't like I took advantage!" Guerrero protested.
"That's not the way Powell saw it, buddy." Chance smirked.
"It was an intense situation. Powell was in over his head with some seriously unsavoury people, they threatened his sister, I kept her alive while he sorted it out! We were stuck in that cabin with no electricity for a week. Stuff happened. It's no big deal! Don't make a thing out of it."
"Sounds like it was a big deal to Powell." Winston said.
Chance, to Guerrero's annoyance, was still grinning. He pretended to look both ways as if checking for eavesdroppers then put one hand to his mouth and said in a stage whisper, "You know who else thought it was a big deal? Kelly's long-term girlfriend!"
"Kelly's what?" Winston asked, his eyebrows shooting up.
"I'm so not discussing this." Guerrero stood up and walked to the door as if to leave.
"Kelly is a lesbian. She came out to her brother when she was twenty-one." Chance was enjoying the rare situation to make Guerrero squirm too much to hold back what details he had. "Powell was just getting used to the idea when Guerrero made his move."
Guerrero froze in the doorway but didn't turn around. "I didn't make a move on her, dude. If anything it was the other way around."
"I'm having a little trouble picturing Guerrero seducing lesbians in a log cabin in the woods…" Winston said rubbing his chin and putting on an exaggerated expression of confusion.
Chance laughed, enjoying the show.
"Dude. I will say this once." Guerrero turned to face his amused tormentors. "I was stuck watching one chick, who yes, under normal circumstances is a lesbian, but for whatever reason was straight that week. Maybe she's bi, I don't know. I don't care. It just happened. It was fun. It was over when we left that cabin. It's really not worth the hassle it's caused me over the years with Powell. Now can we just drop it? Please?"
It was the "please?" that finally got Chance to drop the subject. That and he'd already shared pretty much all he knew already.
"Okay, I get it." Winston said. "You and Powell don't really get on. So why is he coming to us for help?"
"He approached me on Kelly's behalf." Chance explained. "She's a defence attorney and she's having some kind of trouble with a client."
"Why didn't she ask us herself?" Winston asked.
"Well," Chance said, shooting a glance at Guerrero. "Remember that long-term girlfriend I mentioned? They're still together and she's more or less forbidden Kelly to ever contact me or Guerrero under any circumstances. She thinks the police can handle the situation."
"Doesn't want Kelly's ex-boyfriend sniffing around. I can understand that." Winston said.
"Dude, I was not her boyfriend." Guerrero said through gritted teeth.
"It sounds like a real case to me." Winston said, ignoring him. "I'm sure Guerrero can keep it in his pants long enough for us to help the lady out."
"Great. I'll set up a meeting." Chance met Guerrero glare with an smile, radiating innocence.
Oh, this is going to get interesting! thought Chance.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Disclaimer: Fox owns Human Target. Speculation over Guerrero's past, all me.
Disclaimer: Fox owns Human Target. Speculation over Guerrero's past, all me.
"Hey, Kelly. Remember me?" Chance was smiling, but had a foot in the doorway just in case his new client decided to slam the door in his face.
"Oh, god. I'm going to kill Powell!"
Now that Winston was meeting Kelly for the first time he was finding it harder to imagine her ever being attracted to Guerrero. She wasn't exactly supermodel material but she was attractive. She had large green eyes, that gave her a slight kittenish look that was only emphasised by her surprise at finding Chance and his colleague on her doorstep. Her dark brown hair was cropped in to a quirky but businesslike bob and her faded t-shirt and jeans didn't manage to disguise the fact that there was a curvy figure under there.
Definitely out of Guerrero's league, Winston concluded.
"Get in line." Said Guerrero, appearing from behind Winston's bulky frame and pushing his way past a shocked Kelly into the apartment.
"Guerrero?" Kelly's jaw practically hit the floor with an audible thump.
"May we come in, Miss Powell?" Winston asked, hoping that a display of good manners would help the situation.
"It's Miss Grey actually." Kelly said, watching Guerrero disappear in to her kitchen. "Powell is my brother's screen name, not our surname." Her attention snapped back to the two men on her doorstep. "Look, I'm sorry Powell dragged you in to this but you have to get Guerrero out of here right now!"
"The pit-bull not home yet?" Guerrero had reappeared with what looked to be a Tupperware container of leftovers that he was picking at with a fork.
"It would have been a lot easier for me to smooth things over with Anita if you didn't keep calling her that!" She snapped.
"Maybe if you let us in…" Chance smiled, letting the sentence hang there unfinished. Kelly sighed, she was wise to Chance's charms but didn't see any other way to dislodge Guerrero before her girlfriend returned.
"Fine, come in." She threw the door wide open and stepped aside allowing Chance and Winston to step sheepishly past her in to her home.
She pulled Chance to one side.
"Chance, it is Chance now, not Junior?" He nodded. "I don't need your help and I really don't need Guerrero here antagonising Anita when she gets home. Got it?" Chance nodded again, trying not to smile.
He'd met Kelly a couple of times back when he was working for the old man. Back then she would often visit her wayward brother, trying to persuade him to put his considerable talent to use for something more positive and above all more legal. She failed, naturally, but Chance liked the fact that she didn't stop trying, until things all went a bit sideways after the cabin incident of course.
Kelly looked at the uninvited guests in her living room. She'd never met the black guy before, but judging by the way he asked permission before entering her home and the way he sat, uneasily perched on the edge of her sofa, she had him pegged as an ex-cop immediately. Junior, or Chance as he was calling himself these days, hadn't changed a bit. He had a cat's ability to make himself comfortable anywhere and was sitting back, totally relaxed in an armchair, taking in the details of the room.
Guerrero hadn't bothered to sit down. He was still busy eating his way through the rest of the leftovers from her lunch, pausing only to look through the slats of the blinds hanging at the window.
"Miss Grey, my name is Winston. I work with Chance and Guerrero. Your brother contacted us because he believes your life is in danger and that you need our help."
"I'm fine." She said. "I'm having a bit of trouble with a client I'm defending but the police are handling it. I don't need your help."
"I hope you're not referring to the city's finest out there." said Guerrero. "We walked straight on in here and they didn't bat an eyelid. Not to mention that right now one of 'em is asleep and the other is currently taking a leak against a dumpster in that alley opposite."
Chance could tell that this worried the woman. As much as she was trying to down-play her situation she'd been relying on the police to keep her safe and the news that her protection detail wasn't taking their assignment seriously was a real concern.
"You're the last people I would have expected Powell to go to." Kelly said, some of the anger leaving her voice.
"You and me both." Said Guerrero, from his spot at the window.
Kelly felt badly about the position she'd put Guerrero in with her brother. She'd had no idea at the time how serious the consequences would be of indulging her crush on her brother's associate. She'd been in a relationship with Anita for nearly a year at the time and was sure she'd found her soul mate in her. But when she'd been abruptly torn from her normal, day to day existence to hide out in a cabin with the strange little man, she'd wavered.
She'd always found Guerrero oddly compelling. He barely spoke two words to her before they were holed up in the cabin together. The imminent threat on her life and the basic living conditions worked their magic though, and after a couple of days Guerrero allowed his stony façade to slip a little. Adrenaline and boredom had done the rest. They both knew the fling was a product of the situation and not the start of something meaningful. Kelly realised she loved Anita and Guerrero wasn't the kind of man to settle down anyway. When Powell had contacted them to tell them the threat had passed, they parted as friends.
It would all have been fine if the guilt of cheating on Anita hadn't got to her. Kelly realised that what she had with Anita was the real thing and she decided that if they were going to make a go of it, she needed to confess her infidelity with Guerrero. Big mistake. Not only had Anita taken it extremely badly, she'd accused Powell of getting one of his cronies to kidnap and brainwash her. The whole situation became a nightmare. Somehow Kelly had talked Powell out of hunting Guerrero down and killing him then and there but the hostility between the men never really died down.
Her situation must be a lot worse than she thought for Powell to contact Chance. He must have known that Guerrero was still working with him, that kind of detail would not have slipped past her brother. Kelly's stomach sank as she realised that whether she accepted their help or not, it was unlikely that she'd be able to get rid of them before Anita got home.
Chapter 4: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 4
Disclaimer: Human Target property of Fox. I'm just borrowing the characters for fun not profit.
Disclaimer: Human Target property of Fox. I'm just borrowing the characters for fun not profit.
"I'm sorry Miss Grey. When Chance said he'd set up a meeting with you I assumed he'd at least inform you we were coming here." Winston apologised. He glared at Chance who sat comfortably in his chair, totally unrepentant, with just a hint of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
"I understand your brother and Guerrero have a complicated history," Winston plowed on ignoring Chance sniggering in the background. "but it sounds like you may need our help. Your brother obviously takes your problem seriously and I think you should too. You said you were having trouble with a client, who is it?"
"Winston, I'm guessing you used to be a cop before you fell in with these reprobates?"
"Yeah, I was a detective with SFPD for more years than I care to remember."
"Then you should be aware of attorney client privilege." Kelly said, folding her arms.
"Well, I'm not exactly a cop any more and I'm only asking for your client's name at this point."
Kelly narrowed her eyes. She knew identifying her client would just be the first of a long list of answers she'd have to give. If she wanted to avoid getting them involved she would need to start right now and refuse to give up the name. Unfortunately, as Guerrero pointed out, the police weren't exactly making her safety a top priority and she would need someone to watch her back until the case was over.
"The client's name is Lawrence Bailey. Low level drug dealer and police informant." Guerrero said, making Kelly jump. Winston turned to look at him, eyebrows raised.
"What?" Guerrero said defensively. "Chance said Kelly was having trouble with a client. I looked it up. His case is about to go to trial. It's a matter of public record."
"You didn't think this was worth mentioning before now?" Winston asked. Guerrero shrugged and went back to watching the cops from the window.
"I assumed you'd do your job, dude."
Kelly smiled. It seemed like Guerrero hadn't changed much either.
"So what's the deal with Bailey?" Chance asked, cutting through the bickering.
Kelly hesitated, half expecting Guerrero to answer for her but he remained silent, still watching the window.
"I'm not really comfortable with discussing the details of Bailey's case with you."
"It's going to be difficult to help you without knowing what we're dealing with." reasoned Chance. "Besides, attorneys are allowed to use private investigators right? Consider me a PI."
"Actually, that's not a bad cover." Winston added. "It would explain you hanging around without drawing attention to the fact you were actually guarding Kelly."
"Alright," Kelly sighed. "Seeing as you've obviously made your minds up already, you're hired."
"You have got to be kidding me."
All eyes turned to see the tall, blonde woman standing in the doorway. She dumped the bag of groceries she'd brought in with her and crossed the room to Guerrero at the window in long angry strides. Without saying a word she punched him in the face and to everyone's surprise, he let her.
"Anita." Guerrero said, rubbing his jaw. "Always a pleasure to see you."
"How dare you even…" Anita began, drawing her arm back for another punch.
"I gave you one free shot," Guerrero said, raising one hand in a warning gesture. "That seems more than fair. Try and hit me again though and I'll rip your arms off. Are we clear?"
"Crystal." Anita hissed through gritted teeth.
As soon as Guerrero turned back to the window, Anita grabbed a heavy based lamp and tried to smash it over the back of his head. Guerrero ducked, grabbed Anita's wrist making her drop the makeshift weapon, and twisted her arm behind her, forcing her against the wall in one fluid movement. She cried out in pain and surprise.
"Guerrero please! Stop it, you're hurting her!" said Kelly.
"She started it."
"Let her go!"
"Are you sure? I know some great jokes about one armed lesbians…" Guerrero increased the pressure on Anita's arm just enough to make her yelp.
"I said stop!" Kelly said, with a rising note of panic.
Winston was watching with silent horror.
"Guerrero…" his friend caught the warning in Chance's voice and released Anita. Chance was fairly certain that a broken arm would have been as far as Guerrero would have taken things but you never could be sure with Guerrero. It was better to step in now and avoid broken bones than test Guerrero's boundaries.
Kelly hugged Anita, reassuring herself that her lover's arm was intact and still attached.
"Keep your pit-bull on a leash and we'll all get along just fine." Guerrero said calmly. Anita glared at him.
There was a long angry silence.
"Okay, let's finish the introductions." Chance said, trying to lighten the atmosphere by keeping his tone of voice light and friendly. "I think it's safe to say that everyone here knows Guerrero. Anita, my name is Christopher Chance. This is my colleague Winston, formerly of SFPD. Powell contacted us…"
"Powell!" spat Anita. "I should have known he'd stick his nose in! As if you're not in enough shit as it is you get your brother and his low-life cronies involved! Are you insane?" Anita pushed her way free from Kelly's embrace and glared at her.
"Hold on just a minute there miss!" Winston said, not feeling comfortable being lumped in with Guerrero in the angry woman's assessment of him as a low life. Chance shook his head, trying to warn him but Winston continued. "We are not…"
"Miss? Get the fuck out of my house!" Anita shrieked. Kelly tried to put a calming hand her shoulder, but Anita shook it off.
"Maybe you guys could give us a minute. There should be a pot of coffee in the kitchen." Kelly said.
Chance , Winston and Guerrero were only too happy to leave the couple to their argument and filed in to the kitchen. Chance closed the door behind them but occasionally bits of the conversation in the other room were still loud enough to be heard.
"That went well." Chance said.
"Well?" Winston huffed. "Guerrero just threatened and assaulted a client! In my book a meeting does not go well unless violence, and especially.. let me be absolutely clear here, violence against women, is kept to an absolute zero!"
"She started it, dude."
"And to be fair to Guerrero," Chance added, "he didn't assault the client, he assaulted her girlfriend."
"Self defence, dude." Guerrero had just the hint of a smile.
Winston was livid. He was just about to lay in to Guerrero is earnest when they heard the voices coming from the living room.
"Kelly, he's going to kidnap you again!"
"For the last time, Powell did not kidnap me!"
"Yeah right. He was hiding you from deadly assassins who were out to get you!"
"I explained all of this when it happened! Why don't you believe me? And why drag it all up again?"
"Because I came home to find HIM standing in our living room!"
Winston seemed to have lost his train of thought. Chance laughed.
"Women are mental." Guerrero said.
"No arguments here." Winston agreed.
"I think they need a bit longer." Chance said.
As if on cue, the women's voices grew louder.
"He just can't handle that you are gay! He hates me, he hates our relationship!"
"For fucks sake Anita, if Powell had sent someone to lock me up and seduce me eight years ago, do you really think he would have sent Guerrero?"
Guerrero shrugged as if to say "fair point."
"I don't know!"
"Don't you think sending someone like Chance would have made more sense?"
Chance beamed at his friends. Guerrero shook his head. Winston just rolled his eyes.
"What difference does it make who he sent? Overly muscular, blonde man-whore or not, you were unfaithful to me with a man!"
Winston couldn't help laughing at Chance's crest-fallen look.
"I'm not overly muscular." Chance said defensively folding his arms. "I'm just the right kind of muscular."
"Dude, you don't have a problem with "man-whore"?"
Chance smiled again. "I can live with it."
"It was eight years ago! Let it go!"
"At least if you slept with Chance I could sort of understand but with Guerrero? You cheated on me with that psychotic troll?"
"That was a long time ago, babe. We're over that aren't we?" Kelly asked.
Winston and Chance both took a sharp intake of breath and shook their heads in commiseration.
"That was cold!" said Winston
Guerrero shrugged it off.
"I've been called a hell of a lot worse, dude. And I did nail her girlfriend."
They stood in embarrassed silence for a moment until Winston switched on the kitchen radio to drown out the noise of the argument raging in the other room.
Five minutes later the kitchen door opened.
"Okay. Anita is on board." Kelly said. "You can come back in. I need to get you up to speed with the case. Guerrero back off and leave Anita alone. She's promised not to attack you again."
Guerrero snorted, "As long as she leaves me alone, she gets to keep her arms."
Kelly realised that was as close to either an apology or guarantee she was likely to get from Guerrero. She turned to the other two.
"Chance, if Guerrero doesn't behave himself I'm counting on you and Winston to get him out of here, preferably before anyone gets hurt this time."
"Yes ma'am." said Winston.
Chapter 5: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 5
Disclaimer: Human Target is property of Fox. This story and all additional characters are mine.
Disclaimer: Human Target is property of Fox. This story and all additional characters are mine.
When they returned to the living room Guerrero took up his position at the window again. Anita was sitting on the sofa, refusing to even look at Guerrero. Kelly sat next to her and picked up her hand, lacing their fingers together, and gave Anita's hand a reassuring squeeze. The look on Anita's face said that their argument was merely suspended for the time being. Chance sat back down in the arm chair leaving Winston to pull up a high backed chair from the dining suite by the window.
"Tell us about Lawrence Bailey." Winston said, eager to get on to the subject of the case before further hostilities broke out.
"It seemed like a fairly straight forward case to begin with." Kelly said. "Bailey was charged with murder after a drug deal went bad. According to the police Bailey got greedy and shot his supplier to avoid settling his debt. There were two independent witnesses who put Bailey at the scene and he was arrested within the hour still in possession of the murder weapon. When I looked over the witness statements, something just didn't feel right. The more I thought about it, the more it didn't add up."
"It does sound a bit too convenient." Winston agreed. "Witnesses aren't usually that forthcoming about ID-ing a murder suspect when a drug deal is involved."
"It's possible that Bailey would be stupid enough to hold on to the murder weapon." Chance said, "But how did the cops pick him up so fast?"
"According to the cops the witnesses ID-ed the shooter to the responding officers. A unit went over to his apartment and picked him up. The murder weapon was in plain sight. He confessed. Case closed."
"He confessed?" Chance asked.
"Yes. When I went and spoke to him he insisted that he hadn't been coerced or threatened. He just kept saying that he did it and he wanted to plead guilty."
"So what? He wants to go to jail. Let him go to jail." Anita said.
"But I don't think he did do it." Kelly said. "Either he's covering for someone or he's being set up. I want to know what's going on. I didn't sweat it out at law school just to take the easy cases. I believe everyone deserves a good defence and Bailey's best defence may be that he didn't do it."
"But if he wants to take the fall…" Anita protested.
"Doesn't matter, babe. I have a duty to defend him and I'm not going to overlook that for the sake of convenience."
"Going back to the witnesses," Winston said, "They ID-ed Bailey. Did they know him personally?"
"Well that definitely doesn't add up." said Winston. "Why bother fleeing the scene if you could be identified and then just go home and wait to be arrested with the murder weapon? Guerrero, you said Bailey is a police informant?" He confirmed this with a nod.
"I had my suspicions." Kelly said, "But he's not a registered CI."
"Not all confidential informants are on the books, Miss Grey." Winston explained. "Some officers keep prefer to keep the arrangement less formal."
"The dude is definitely an informant." Guerrero said. "He's been picked up dozens of times on minor drugs offences by a Detective Pepler. After a couple of hours questioning Bailey is released without charges. More often than not Pepler then makes a breakthrough in whatever case he's working."
"I saw Pepler's name all over Bailey's rap sheet and tried to contact him. " Kelly said. "He kept dodging my calls. I caught up with him once outside the station but he blew me off. That's when I got this."
Kelly handed Winston a printout of an email.
" 'Back off. He does the time you and the blonde are left alone. Keep pushing and no one will find the pieces of your…' Oh my!" Winston's voice trailed off. Chance took the sheet of paper from him and finished reading the message silently.
"Well that's fairly specific." He got up and handed the sheet to Guerrero, who read it then screwed it up in to a tight little ball.
"Letting this slide is not an option." he said. He spoke quite softly but intensely. Chance could see his friend was having an uncharacteristically emotional reaction on the threat to Kelly and her girlfriend. "I don't care if Bailey is willing to take the fall or not. I want to find who is behind this." He tossed the balled up paper to the floor.
"I took the email to Powell. I figured if anyone could trace it back to whoever sent it, it would be him. Besides, I couldn't show it to the police. Not if it has anything to do with Detective Pepler."
"And?" Guerrero demanded.
"He sent me a message saying stay home, help is coming. That's when you guys showed up."
"We need to speak to Powell. Find out if he traced the source of this email." Winston said.
"I emailed him again but he hasn't responded." Kelly said. "I don't know how else to get hold of him. We're not exactly on speaking terms at the moment. I was surprised when he replied at all."
"He's still your brother Kelly." Chance said. "He wouldn't have sent us if he didn't care. Winston, see what you can dig up on Detective Pepler. Maybe speak to that buddy of yours in Internal Affairs. Check out those witnesses too." Winston nodded. "I know a way to get hold of Powell but Guerrero will have to do it."
Guerrero did not look happy with the idea.
"I know you hate the guy, buddy, but we're watching out for his little sister here. He called us in. He's not going to mess with you over this."
"Why can't you do it?" asked Guerrero sullenly.
"Because I'm going to talk to Bailey."
"You can't." Said Kelly. "He's refusing to see visitors. He won't even speak to me."
"I'm not going to be a visitor." Said Chance, smiling. "I'm going to be his cellmate."
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Disclaimer: Human Target property of Fox. Additional characters and plot are mine.
The decision was made to set up a temporary base of operations in Kelly's kitchen. The police protection detail wasn't exactly giving the job their full attention but even they were bound to notice if Kelly and Anita relocated to the office across town. The police hadn't seen the email, Kelly had only told them she'd received threats, so their lack of interest was kind of understandable, Winston reasoned. What he couldn't quite get his head round was Guerrero's reaction to the email. He put Guerrero's interest in Kelly eight years ago down to equal parts lust and the desire to mess with this Powell guy, but his reaction to the email pointed to something else. Something Winston couldn't, or possibly didn't want to, identify.
Guerrero had left briefly to collect a few necessities for the job and when he returned with a holdall and began setting up a laptop on the kitchen table Winston finally let his curiosity get the better of him.
"So… You and Kelly…" Winston began.
"Over eight years ago, dude." Guerrero said, his eyes not leaving the screen as he logged in.
Winston wondered for a second if he'd meant that it had happened over eight years ago or that it had been over between them eight years ago. He decided to try a different approach.
"You seemed a bit upset about that email. You don't normally get all emotional over a threat to a client."
"I don't normally know the client personally. Kelly is good people." He looked up from the laptop for a second. "I think 'all emotional' is overstating things a bit, don't you?" He went back to tapping away at the keyboard. Winston stood watching him for a while.
"Dude, if there's something you want to ask me, just ask."
"Do you still have feelings for Kelly?" He asked. "Romantic feelings?" he added, not wanting to give Guerrero any wiggle room in his answer.
Guerrero laughed and pushed the laptop away from him.
"Seriously? 'Romantic feelings'? Dude, really. This is not Days of Our Lives. I haven't been carrying a tragic little torch for a girl I screwed eight years ago. In case you hadn't noticed she's gay."
Winston took a long hard long at him. The laughter seemed to be genuine. He was secretly relieved that he wouldn't have to alter his world view to include the concept of a lovelorn Guerrero. It would be easier to concentrate on the job in hand too, knowing Guerrero wasn't distracted by a romantic interest in Kelly. But he did care about her…
"Okay, so she's not the one who got away, but she is something to you."
Guerrero pulled the laptop back towards him. He'd stopped laughing and resumed his work. Winston thought he was going to ignore the implied question but after a while Guerrero spoke.
"I owe her."
"You owe her?"
"Owe her what?"
Guerrero took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. This was information he'd really rather not share but he knew Winston would be persistent. If he didn't answer his question he might ask Kelly and then he'd have no control over what he'd find out.
"Remember when I let you cuff me for the Gleason case?"
"Yeah," Winston said. "We had to get the Feds into the Sentronics building. What of it?"
"I told you I wasn't going back to jail."
Winston had been tempted to look in to that but he didn't know Guerrero's full name or even if Guerrero was his real name. He also didn't know when or where he'd served time either making any investigation impossible.
"If it wasn't for Kelly, I'd still be in jail right now. Or dead." The way he said this led Winston to believe that, to Guerrero at least, being dead was preferable to still being locked up. "She got me out dude. I don't forget a thing like that."
Well, that would do it, thought Winston. To a man like Guerrero there were things that were more important than love. Self-preservation and personal freedom were pretty much the top of the list. For a more moral person it would be considered a debt of honour.
"Why were you…" Winston couldn't resist the urge to try and draw details from him.
"That's all your getting, dude. Leave it alone."
Before Winston had time to ask anything else his cell phone rang. It was his buddy in Internal Affairs. He left Guerrero to his work and took the call.
. .. . .. .
"Are you sure you really want to do this?" asked Kelly.
"If we're going to persuade Bailey to plead not guilty I have to get close to him." Chance replied. "The only person he's likely to open up to is another prisoner."
"I know, but it just seems so…"
"Dangerous? Stupid? Insane?" Winston interrupted as he walked in to the room.
"All of the above, I guess." Said Kelly.
"You don't need to worry about me. This is all just part of my job. Besides, the prison warden owes me a favour. I'll be in and out in twenty-four hours." said Chance.
"You seem fairly confident you can get the information we need and change his mind about pleading guilty within the space of a single day." Winston said doubtfully.
"It'll be fine. Bailey will be feeling so isolated right now that he'll open up, given the right circumstances. He's facing some serious time right now and that means he's going to be looking to make some alliances that will offer him some kind of protection from the nastier gangs inside. I'll make sure he sees me as his guardian angel."
"That's assuming he hasn't already joined a gang already." Winston said.
"That's very unlikely." said Kelly. "He's been kept isolated from the general prison population so far. Are you sure you can get the warden to put you in the same cell?"
"He's already agreed to it. This time tomorrow I'll be Bailey's best friend."
Chapter 7: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 7
Disclaimer: Human Target property of Fox. Additional characters and plot all mine.
Disclaimer: Human Target property of Fox. Additional characters and plot all mine.
"Did you get anything from your buddy in IA?" Chance asked.
"Not really." Winston said, shaking his head. "Pepler has a clean record. If he's dirty IA either don't know about it or they're keeping it quiet. My current contact isn't half as forthcoming as Jenkins." Winston felt a pang of sadness for his dead friend. They had a lot of history together and the pain of losing an old friend was still mixed with remorse for drawing him in to the case that led to his death.
"Okay. That leaves Bailey, the victim, the witnesses and whoever sent the threat." Chance said, choosing not to draw attention to Winston's distress. "What do we know about the witnesses?"
"They're a couple of Bailey's regulars. Junkies." Kelly explained. "Not usually the most credible witnesses but given Bailey's confession…" she shrugged. "It doesn't really matter. They're too scared to change their stories. I doubt they saw the shooting anyway."
"What about the victim?" asked Winston.
"Richard Cole. No criminal history." Kelly frowned. "No known associates. No evidence at all that he was involved in drugs at all, other than Bailey's confession and the word of the alleged witnesses."
"This whole thing stinks to high heaven." Winston grumbled.
"Essentially what we have is a cover up." Chance agreed. "We need to know who wanted Cole dead and why."
"Do you really think going under cover in jail is the best way to go about this?" Winston asked. "Do we even know Bailey has the information we need?"
"The guy is willing to face a life sentence for a crime he clearly didn't commit, so yeah, I think he's worth talking to. If IA can't dish up any dirt on Pepler, Bailey may be our best source of intel."
"I don't like it, Chance." Winston said. "We can't risk a comm link when you're inside. Anyone gets so much of a whiff of surveillance and the entire prison population will have you marked as a narc."
"So we bug the cell. I'm sure Guerrero can figure something out." Chance, as usual, shrugged off any concern for his personal safety. "You'll be able to listen in and act on the intel without having to wait for me to check in."
"What if you get in to trouble?" Winston asked.
"Not much you could do from the outside anyway." Chance smiled. "It'll probably make it easier anyway, not having you bitching in my ear the whole time."
"Yeah, well laugh it up pretty boy. It ain't a night at the Four Seasons you've signed up for you know." Winston said.
Kelly smiled. Baiting the ex-cop was obviously a pastime not enjoyed exclusively by Guerrero . She recognised the bickering for what it was: an expression of affection and concern between comrades. She doubted there was any such affection between Guerrero and Winston but she knew Guerrero and Chance were like brothers. Guerrero would tolerate Winston out of loyalty to Chance but she really didn't envy the cop's position in the team. He was clearly forced in to the role of what passed for the voice of reason in their messed up world, a role that would forever put him at odds with Guerrero's direct approach to problem solving and Chance's kamikaze methods.
She looked at her lover sitting beside her. Anita rolled her eyes, annoyed with the display of machismo going on in her living room. Kelly smiled. Anita may have the subtlety of a ton of bricks dropped from a great height but her passion was what had drawn Kelly to her in the first place. Anita's quick temper and her tendency to react first and examine the situation later were the flipside of that passion. She didn't lack the ability to look beyond the surface of what was going on around her, she was just so utterly focused on right now that she didn't take the time to question other people's motives.
Kelly felt Anita suddenly tense and followed her gaze in time to see Guerrero walk back in to the living room. He gave Anita a sly smile and cocked an eyebrow suggestively. Kelly dug her nails in to Anita's arm, a silent reminder of the promise she'd extracted from her to stay well clear of Guerrero until the threat against their lives had been dealt with. Kelly knew he wouldn't make the situation any easier on them but it was infuriating that he could provoke Anita so effectively with just a look.
"Did you get hold of Powell?" Kelly asked, hoping to remind Anita that they needed Guerrero's expertise.
"I've put things in motion." Guerrero said cryptically.
"What the hell does that mean?" Demanded Anita, willing to join in the conversation if there was an opportunity to criticise Guerrero in any way.
"You're brother is not the easiest person to contact." Guerrero addressed his answer to Kelly, knowing that the best way to provoke Anita now was to ignore her completely, to treat her as if she was of zero importance. "He likes his correspondence kept private and his security measures can be a little time consuming. I've left him a message he can't ignore. He'll be in touch soon."
Winston didn't like the look on Guerrero's face. He was clearly a bit too pleased with himself and not just because he was aggravating Anita even further. The angry blonde on the sofa looked ready to take another shot at him. Kelly's restraining hand on her arm seemed to be the only thing holding her back.
"We need Powell's help here Guerrero. I hope you haven't done something to deliberately piss him off!" said Winston.
"We're helping his sister, dude. Pissed off or not he'll be in touch real soon."
Winston held his head in his hands and cursed under his breath.
Chapter 8: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 8
Disclaimer: Human Target doesn't belong to me but this story does, so play nice.
Disclaimer: Human Target doesn't belong to me but this story does, so play nice.
Getting Chance in to the prison went surprisingly smoothly. It was arranged for Chance to arrive as a transfer from another facility, which cut back on some of the bureaucracy. Guerrero had warned him that the paperwork would not stand up to close scrutiny and, even with the warden on board, he'd only have a day or two maximum before someone would notice the inconsistencies. His cover was that he was Scott Patterson, three years in to a fifteen year sentence for his part in an armed robbery on an electronics store.
Chance didn't share Guerrero's deep seated horror of being imprisoned, but it still required an enormous amount of will power on his part to suppress the urge to fight as he allowed him self to be shackled and manhandled in to the cell he was to share with Bailey. Perversely he also had to resist the urge to help the young guard, who was fumbling with the restraints in a vain attempt to hurry up, get the job done and get out of the cell. Chance felt a bit sorry for the man. He was obviously new to the job and very nervous.
The older guard was hanging back slightly, letting the new kid do all the work. In his hand was a short night stick and it looked like he was more than comfortable using it. Chance recognised this type of man straight away. He was the typical prison guard cliché. A small minded, petty man in a position of authority who enjoyed lording it over men who, in the real world, could tear him apart without breaking a sweat. He would go to any extreme to maintain his precarious position of power. His self-image was everything and much as Chance would have loved to mess with him, he needed to keep a low profile and focus on bonding with Bailey. He had to maintain his cover though so he couldn't make it too easy for the guards. The new guy it was then.
Chance waited until the younger man had finally removed his restraints and smoothly tripped him up, sending the guard sprawling across the floor of the cell head first. The older guard made no attempt to help his fallen colleague up but gave Chance a cold hard stare. Rather than taunting the guards, Chance stared back, then shrugged. It wasn't exactly a look of innocence but he wasn't claiming responsibility for the deliberate act of defiance either. The older guard grunted, in what may have been amusement, confirming Chance's initial assessment of his as somewhat of a sadist.
"Get up Buckwell!" He growled at the young guard, who had one hand pressed to his profusely bleeding nose. "I told you before to watch your feet. You have got to be alert! Any one of these bastards will take advantage of the slightest mistake."
The young guard got wearily to his feet, mumbling a less than heartfelt, "Yes sir!"
Chance stood stock still in the middle of the cell, staring them down until the door slid shut behind them and their footsteps melted in to the background noise of the prison. Satisfied they were gone, he forced himself to relax a bit, rolling his head around a little to ease some of the tension in his neck and shoulders.
"Who are you?"
Chance feigned surprise at the sound of the voice behind him. He had clocked Bailey's hunched form huddled against the wall on the lower bunk as soon as he entered the cell but he let the prisoner believe he had the advantage.
"Your new cellmate, it would seem." Chance turned to face the bunks and leaned against the wall, arms crossed. "What happened to the old one?"
Bailey had sat up and was now sitting on the edge of his bunk, his head slightly lowered to avoid hitting the base of the bunk above him.
"Didn't have one."
Chance shrugged and climbed in to the top bunk.
Bailey was pretty much what Chance had been expecting. He was a young man, probably only in his early thirties but with the sallow skin and shrunken eyes of a much older man. Life had not been kind to Lawrence Bailey and it looked like he'd taken it out on his own body. He had a defeated air to him, as if he'd already begun his inevitable prison sentence. He sat hunched forward on the edge of his bunk running one hand back and forth over the close cropped hair on his head. His hands, like the rest of his body, looked bony, worn and slightly malnourished.
Chance laid back on the thin, lumpy mattress and tried to work out where Guerrero had managed to hide a bug in such a sparsely furnished environment. Guerrero said there would be a bug in the cell so it would be there, somewhere, but Chance never got the opportunity to ask his friend how he planned to plant it. He suspected Guerrero knew a guy. He always knew a guy.
After a couple of minutes Bailey's voice broke the silence.
"My name's Lawrence Bailey. Larry to my…" he gave a tired, humourless little chuckle. "I was about to say to my friends but that seems a bit ridiculous now."
Chance leaned down from his bunk, extending his hand for Bailey to shake.
"Scott Patterson. Pleased to meet you Larry."
Larry twisted round to look up at Chance for a moment before taking his hand and shaking it.
It was a start.
Chapter 9: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 9
Discliamer: HT belongs to Fox, story and OCs all mine.
Discliamer: HT belongs to Fox, story and OCs all mine.
"Anything yet?" Winston asked.
Guerrero slipped one half of the set of headphones off his ear as looked up at Winston.
"He's been in their like five minutes, dude. They've only just through the introductions. Chill."
Winston glowered at him. For someone who was so adverse to being locked up himself, Guerrero was taking Chance's incarceration surprisingly well. He'd moved his laptop from the kitchen, setting it up side by side with Kelly's home computer in the alcove off the living room that served as the lawyer's office space. He was receiving the audio from Chance's prison cell through a secure online feed on the PC, whilst idling playing solitaire on his laptop. Winston wasn't happy about monitoring Chance from such a distance but it was impossible for them to get close enough to help Chance if he got in to trouble inside anyway. Guerrero had insisted on staying in the apartment so they could keep an eye on Kelly and have somewhere secure to monitor the feed.
"You're playing solitaire?" Winston asked incredulously.
"Don't question my methods, dude. It's all part of the plan."
Guerrero slid the headphones back on properly, the snug fit ensuring he didn't have to listen to Winston grumbling. He could see that he was still grumbling, his face distorted with the familiar look of frustration and annoyance that usually appeared when Guerrero was being uncooperative. He smiled up at his angry colleague, shaking his head and pointing to the earphones in a gesture that said "sorry, can't hear you".
Winston clamped his mouth shut mid-insult and stood for a minute, scowling at Guerrero. The smaller man grinned. Then Winston slowly and deliberately mouthed the words "I'm going to kill you!". Guerrero laughed and went back to his game of solitaire.
A couple of hours dragged past and Guerrero still had nothing significant to report from the surveillance. Chance and Bailey were talking but most of it wasn't of any use yet. Chance was still trying to build up a rapport with the wary inmate. As the surveillance dragged in to its third hour Winston tapped Guerrero on the shoulder and indicated that he should pass the headphones over to Kelly.
"We need to talk." Winston said as Guerrero reluctantly relinquished his post to their client.
They walked in to the privacy of the kitchen and Winston shut the door behind them. Guerrero, as usual, gravitated towards the refrigerator settling this time for a can of soda rather than leftovers.
"What's up?" he asked, sipping his soda.
"What if this isn't going to work? Chance has been in there hours and we haven't got one solid piece of intel yet!" Winston hissed.
"It's not an interrogation, Winston." he replied. "Chance can't exactly just demand answers. He's got to build up the guy's trust. Bailey wouldn't even talk to his attorney about all this. Give Chance some time to charm it out of him."
"We don't have time, Guerrero! Sooner or later someone is going to notice an extra prisoner and if this Pepler guy is keeping tabs on his ex-informant…"
"Relax, dude. Chance knows what he's doing. It's under control."
"Under control?" Winston was struggling not to raise his voice. "You think it's all under control because we've got one lousy listening device in the cell with him?"
"I've got eyes on Chance, dude. Don't sweat it."
Winston narrowed his eyes at him. "What do you mean you've "got eyes on Chance"?"
"I've got people in jail."
"You don't really expect me to answer that do you?"
"Fine." Guerrero sighed. "I have a lot of contacts. Sometimes some of them get locked up. They don't always stop being useful when they're in jail. The payment system is a little different but the principle is the same. They give me intell, they get paid."
"Okay, I get the picture. Will they help Chance if he needs it?"
"I've worked out a contingency plan, yeah. We shouldn't need it though." Guerrero glanced at his watch. "In another eighteen hours, the warden is going to pull Chance out of there and "transfer" him back to the facility he was supposed to have come from. We'll be the ones driving the transport."
"Well, I hope Chance gets us something to work with. We're running out of options fast."
... .. ...
Chance was slowly making progress with Bailey. There wasn't much else to do besides talk, which helped things along somewhat. Chance had already shared his history as Scott Patterson, armed robber, which Bailey had accepted as the truth. The time felt right to ask Bailey for his story.
"What are you in for?" asked Chance.
"Murder." mumbled Bailey.
"Did ya do it?"
Bailey seemed a little taken aback by the directness of Chance's question. Chance laughed at his cellmate's hesitation.
"Well, that's a first." He laughed. "Guys in here are usually all 'it was a set up man! I didn't do it!' unless they're bangers. Then you get the whole 'I busted a cap in their ass muthafucka!' bit. You don't seem to be either."
"No." Bailey replied. "I guess I'm not."
"So what's your story?" Chance persisted.
"I am… was a dealer. I shot my supplier." It sounded weak, even to Bailey.
"Just like that?"
Bailey shrugged. "I'd run up some serious debt. The kind of a debt someone like me wouldn't be able to pay off in a lifetime of dealing drugs on the street. I couldn't see a way out."
Chance nodded. For the first time in their conversation he felt as though Bailey had shared a little bit of the truth about his situation.
"I guess you figured you'd be safer in here than on the streets where you'd have to deal with your debtors." Chance laughed. "Man, if only it were that simple!"
Bailey was alarmed. "What do you mean?"
"Life inside isn't all that different from life on the outside." He explained. "Same gangs, same turf wars, same assholes out to make a name for themselves."
The blood drained from Bailey's already sickly face.
"Sooner or later most affiliate with one gang or another to get some level of protection from the others but that just brings a different set of problems. Instead of getting picked on for being alone and an easy target, you get picked on for being part of the wrong gang. It's kind of how I ended up being transferred here."
"You're in a gang?" Bailey asked.
"No." Chance chuckled. "I turned down an invitation from a certain group of white supremacists. They thought my blond hair and blue eyes marked me as prime recruitment material. They weren't happy when I declined. They were… persistent."
"So what did you do?"
Chance paused, as if weighing up whether or not Bailey could be trusted.
"I shopped the gang's enforcer to the warden for shanking an inmate in the showers. The warden agreed to transfer me to another facility if I went on the record that I witnessed it."
Bailey let out an awed whistle at the audacity of the move.
"Won't there still be repercussions? Even here?"
Chance shrugged. "That particular gang isn't quite as powerful here."
"Still, it's a huge risk! Was it worth it? Just to avoid joining a gang?"
"I'm not a lifer. I've got thirteen years left to serve. Less with good behaviour and less still, if the warden keeps his word and gets a bit more knocked off for my cooperation. I could be out of here in ten years. Gang affiliations last forever. When I walk out of here I'm not looking back."
Chance waited, hoping that his admission that he was a prison grass would encourage Bailey to open up. He kept quiet, letting Bailey break the silence.
"Aren't you worried about people finding out you're a grass?" Bailey asked eventually.
"I'm a big boy. I can handle it." Chance shrugged. "Besides, until the case gets to trial I'm a valuable witness. They'll keep me out of the general population until the trial and the appeals are over. It could be a year or two before I even have to cross that bridge. I'd rather do my time in solitary for my own protection than get dragged in to a lifetime subscription to a gang that would most likely get me killed before I ever saw the light of day again anyway."
Bailey nodded, impressed by his cellmate's determination to get through his sentence unscathed.
"Well, I guess that explains how you ended up in here with me then."
"Someone wants you kept out of harms way then." Chance said. "Who'd you grass on?"
Bailey laughed. "Usually? Everyone! In this instance, only myself. I confessed to murdering my supplier, remember?"
"Which brings me back to my earlier question." Said Chance. "Did you do it?"
Again Bailey hesitated, unsure whether he could trust a guy he'd only just met. He felt crushed by the weight of handling the whole mess alone with no one to confide in, no one to offer even the smallest bit of commiseration over his sorry lot in life. He'd never had much in the way of friends on the outside so he hadn't thought that being in jail would be much different. But the reality of spending the rest of his life isolated yet crammed in with dangerous men who'd see him as an easy target, a source of entertainment, hit him hard. He felt sick with the certainty that he would not survive for very long on his own. Telling Patterson the truth couldn't do much harm at this point but maybe he could learn from the guy.
"I didn't do it." Bailey said in a small voice.
Chance laughed. "Well that's more like it! For a moment there I thought I'd met the only guilty man in jail!"
"No, I really didn't do it!" Bailey snapped. "I agreed to take the fall for the shooting as payment for my debt."
"Must have been one hell of a debt."
"You have no idea."
"So why'd they want this guy dead anyway? Was he really your supplier?"
Bailey didn't answer. Chance worried for a moment that he'd pushed for too much information too fast. The minutes dragged by slowly before Bailey finally spoke.
"I don't know who he was."
Chance's heart sunk. Maybe Winston was right. Maybe being here was a dangerous waste of time.
"So how did you confess to murdering a guy you never met?" Chance asked. "Seriously man, how did you do it? Did you just wander in to a police station and ask if they had any unsolved murders you could confess to?"
Bailey laughed at the suggestion. "No, it was a bit more organised than that!" He was definitely warming to Chance's easy-going nature. "Before all this I did sell information to the cops on a fairly regular basis. I dealt with a guy called Pepler. I was his informant, but strictly off the books. I never really told him much that he couldn't have found out for himself if he got off his lazy cop ass. That dude's seriously lazy."
"Was he dirty?" Chance asked.
"I'd say so, yeah. He knew how bad my financial situation was and one day he calls me and says he's got an offer for me. At this point my options were pretty much zero. I'd taken all the beat downs I could handle and the guy I owed the money to made it clear that I was out of time. My choices were take the offer or die. I took the offer."
"I'd been hiding out in a crack house for a few days. Pepler just told me to go home and wait for him. When I got back to my apartment he was waiting for me. He put a gun in my hand and told me I'd just shot a man. He said the guy's name was Richard Cole, he was my supplier and I killed him to avoid paying a debt. He told me my debt was paid in full as long as I kept my mouth shut. He left. Ten minutes later the cops show up and I confess."
"Man, you really are screwed." Chance said, lying back on his bunk.
So it seems Bailey was just a patsy, he thought. At least we know Pepler is definitely involved. But how? Is he just the middle man?
Chapter 10: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 10
Disclaimer: Human Target is the property of Fox. This story is my own little creation for your reading pleasure.
Disclaimer: Human Target is the property of Fox. This story is my own little creation for your reading pleasure.
Winston's heart sank as Guerrero relayed the details of the conversation that had just taken place in the jail.
"So Pepler is definitely involved." Kelly said. "He recruited Bailey to take the fall."
"But we already knew that!" complained Anita, switching the television off.
"We suspected it," said Winston, "but it's good to have confirmation Miss…"
"I think we can drop all the Miss Gray and Miss Howell bit now, don't you think?" Anita said, amused by the way Winston clung to formality like a life raft in her presence. "You've been here over a day, eating our food and drinking our coffee. I think we're on first name terms now. Speaking of food… come on Kells, I'll fix us a sandwich."
Winston shot a look at Guerrero as the women walked out of the room, daring him to mention the name Laverne, but was surprised to see that he'd barely even been listening to the exchange. Guerrero had slipped his jacket on and was rummaging though his holdall, apparently looking for something.
"Where do you think you're going?" Winston asked.
"I'm going to see Powell." He replied stepping aside to allow Winston a clear view of his laptop. At first all Winston could see was the game of solitaire but as he watched the image of the cards started to distort as the whole display seemed to turn to dripping wax and melted away revealing a message in stark red letters. ONE HOUR. NEUTRAL GROUND. KILL YOU LATER. The message disappeared after a few seconds and the cards reappeared before the cycle began again.
"That's the message you've been waiting for?" Winston mumbled.
"Yeah, try to keep up big guy." Guerrero passed him the surveillance headphones and as Winston sat down he pushed another, smaller object in to his hands.
"What's this for?" Winston asked, realising he'd been handed a cheap cell phone, the kind that was usually bought with cash, left unregistered, used once and disposed of.
"This is my contingency plan. If, and only if, Chance is in serious danger you switch this on, open the pending text messages and hit send. There is only one message waiting to be sent and the number is pre-programmed in. When you get confirmation the message has been sent, turn the phone off and destroy the sim card. Don't wait for a reply. Don't make any calls. Destroy it. Got it?"
"I think I can manage that." Winston said , his voice dripping with sarcasm. "What happens when the message is sent?"
"Plan B goes into action." Guerrero said, evasively.
"Okay," he said, trying to keep his cool. "Is it safe? Does Chance know what will happen?"
Guerrero paused for a second. "He won't like it but it will get him out of there."
"Unharmed?" Winston persisted.
"Unhappy." Guerrero said as he disappeared out the door.
Winston sighed and put on the headphones.
Chance lay in the top bunk of the prison cell and tried to work out his next move. Bailey seemed to have fallen in to a restless sleep in the bunk bellow and every now and then he would hear him grumble under his breath and roll over in attempt to get comfortable. The next step in the plan had been to get Bailey to change his mind about the guilty plea but given the guy's circumstances Chance wasn't sure what hope he could offer him on the outside anyway. Dirty cops, unpayable debts and death threats aside, Chance was fairly sure that Bailey's sallow complexion was actually fairly advanced jaundice. He probably had some strain of Hepatitis or liver failure or both. Chance wondered if Bailey knew. Perhaps Bailey would be better off in jail with some form of basic health care than outside on the run from his debtors.
As he lay there trying to decide what would be the best way to go about helping him, Bailey suddenly rolled of his bunk and lurched to the rancid toilet in the corner and vomited.
"You okay, man?" Chance asked, even though it seemed his assessment of his cellmate's health was accurate. Bailey was unable to answer for a minute as he struggled with the nausea that was gripping his gut.
"'m fairly sure I'm dying but yeah." It seemed he did know. Chance wasn't sure if that made it better or worse.
Bailey climbed back in to his bunk with a weak groan. There wasn't a way to help the guy, Chance concluded sadly. One way or another, Lawrence Bailey's days were numbered. All he could do now was hope he could find out a bit more about Pepler so he could ensure Kelly and Anita's safety. Bailey was in no condition to talk right now so it would have to wait. Chance still had hours left before he was due to be "transferred" back out. He should let the man sleep, for now.
Bailey had just managed to fall back in to a fitful sleep and Chance was allowing himself to doze off slightly when he heard heavy footsteps approaching the cell. He didn't open his eyes but from the noise they were making Chance calculated that there were four men and the sound of the heavy steel-toed boots told him they were prison guards. This really did not sound good. Chance forced himself to remain relaxed and keep his breathing steady until the sound of a night stick thumping on the bars of the door allowed him to sit up and react.
"You got visitors!" Barked one of the guards. Chance recognised him as the older of the two guards that had escorted him to the cell. One of the other guards unlocked the cell door and stepped aside to let the other three men in.
As Chance dropped down from his bunk he saw that his visitors were in fact the prison warden accompanied by the sadistic guard he recognised and another who he didn't. The guard who had unlocked the door had already left, obviously in a hurry to be anywhere but here. Chance felt uneasy. A visit from the warden himself had not been part of the plan.
Chapter 11: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 11
Disclaimer: Fox own the show, I own the story. Simples! squeak
Neutral ground. That was what Kelly had called Benny's diner eight years ago when she had arranged for them all to meet up and talk through their differences over the "cabin incident". Despite Kelly's good intentions the meeting had not gone well. Sure, it had gone better than Guerrero had expected in that no one died, or was even seriously injured but it was far from the diplomatic solution Kelly had hoped it would be. Guerrero had only even showed up to get a good look at the girlfriend Kelly had raved about, and to annoy Powell of course.
And now he was back here, eight years later, to speak to Powell alone. He felt uneasy, on edge. He knew that something other than a single exchange of information was about to go down but he wasn't sure what. Only one way to find out…
Powell sat at a table facing the door and looked up as he walked in. He smiled at Guerrero but it was cold, not only lacking in warmth but actually radiating a chilly distain. Guerrero noticed the closed sign was hanging on the diner door and, despite the nervous waitress pouring coffee for two men sitting at the counter and another two "customers" sitting at the table behind Powell's, it was plain to see that the diner's usual clientele had been removed and replaced with Powell's men. Abruptly too, judging by the number of half eaten meals strewn about the tables.
As soon as Guerrero set foot in the diner he frowned and began patting his jacket pockets before reaching for his cell phone.
"Sorry, got to take this." he said before anyone had time to react. "Might be Kelly." He couldn't resist winking at Powell as he ducked back out of the diner. He stayed in view of the diner's plate glass windows, partly to reassure Powell that he wasn't really leaving but mostly so he could keep the hacker and his men in sight.
Guerrero angled the hand holding the phone in such a way that it obscured Powell's view of his mouth and hit the button for voice activated calls.
"Dial Winston." He rolled his eyes for the benefit of the men watching from the diner and made yap yap yap motions with his free hand.
"Guerrero?" Luckily Winston picked up on the second ring. "You finished with Powell already?"
"No, just about to start actually. Something's up. I don't know what exactly but if you don't hear from me in the next ten minutes you have to activate the contingency plan."
"Hold on there just a minute! You want me to give the go ahead for your hare-brained, crazy-ass plan B, that you can't even assure me will get Chance out of there unharmed, on the basis of a hunch?"
"It's not an ideal situation I know." Guerrero said through gritted teeth. "But if you don't hear from me in the next ten minutes I might not be able to warn you about what's really going on here. Ten minutes Winston. Send the message, destroy the cell and get the women back to the loft. That's where they'll take Chance."
"Ten minutes." Winston reluctantly agreed.
"Starting from now." Guerrero hung up, slipped his cell back in his pocket and walked back in to the diner.
"Hey dude." He sat down opposite Powell. "Your sister is kinda clingy, you know that?"
Powell was trying to keep smiling politely but the cracks were definitely starting to show. Guerrero smiled back at him and noted that in eight years the man really hadn't changed that much. He still had that pale stringy look to him, like a plant that had been kept in near darkness to force a growth spurt. He was only of average height but his gaunt face and his skinny physique tended to leave people with the impression of him as being very tall. Guerrero was pleased to note that his hairline was maintaining its steady retreat, knowing that it had always bothered Powell.
"Guerrero. Still trying to push my buttons?" he asked.
"Is my sister safe?"
"For now, yeah. Her girlfriend too. Not that you asked…"
Powell flinched at the word girlfriend.
"Good." he said.
"Now that we have the heart-warming reunion out of the way, what did you get from that email Kelly received?" Guerrero asked.
"Nothing." Powell said, pulling a face as he fished a miniscule fleck of dust out of his cup of herbal tea.
"Nothing at all?" Guerrero asked, certain now that this meeting was a set up.
"Nope. Nada. Zero. Zilch. It was perfectly untraceable." Powell pushed his cup away, apparently unsatisfied that it met up to basic hygiene standards.
"I see. So you brought me here for what? The pleasure of my company?" Guerrero knew that there was no such thing as a perfectly untraceable email when it came to a man like Powell. That left some unsettling possibilities…
"Why not?" Powell replied. "Why shouldn't we catch up like old friends? I'll start. How is Junior these days? I hear he's going by the name Christopher Chance now. That went down like a shit sandwich with the old man by the way."
"Chance is fine. He's working your sister's case. Why the sudden interest?"
Powell tapped his fingers on the tabletop almost absentmindedly.
"You always try and give off this lone wolf vibe, Guerrero but I just don't buy it. If there's one thing in this world you care about other than your own hide, it's the new Christopher Chance." He studied Guerrero carefully looking for any indication that what he was saying was getting to him. Not so much as an involuntary twitch. Such intense neutrality could only mean one thing. It was working.
"He's good at what he does, I respect that." Guerrero replied. "He's best, in fact. Isn't that why you hired him to protect your sister?"
"Of course. I want nothing but the very best for Kelly. I love my sister very much which is why I entrusted her to your care eight years ago. You were the very best person to keep her safely hidden from my enemies. Everyone knew that no one could find Guerrero when he didn't want to be found."
"When are you gonna let this go, Powell?" Guerrero said, exasperated with the same old argument. "It's ancient history dude. It was never anything serious between us. She's a fucking lesbian, for Christ's sake!"
The last tattered remnants of civility fell from Powell's face as he leaned over the table.
"My sister is not a lesbian!" he hissed.
Guerrero leaned in too, so the two men's faces were barely an inch apart.
"Has anyone told Kelly that?" he replied in a calm, level tone. "'Cause I really think she's digging the muff diving scene."
Powell slammed both hands down on the table, spilling most of his undrunk tea and causing the other "customers" of the diner to reach for their guns. The frightened waitress took the opportunity to run out through the kitchen whilst everyone's attention was diverted.
Guerrero laughed, reminding Powell that he was the one who'd planned this meeting, the one who was supposed to be in control. He sat back and waved to his men to put their guns away.
"It bothers you that much, that she's gay?" Guerrero asked.
"She's not gay. She's just infatuated with that Anita woman. She slept with you didn't she?" Powell spat.
"There wasn't a lot of sleeping going on, but I take your point." Guerrero smirked, scratching at his chin. "If you're planning to remove Anita from the equation I think you've seriously misjudged the situation. Those kids are in love. You're taking this whole control freak thing way too far, Powell. You can't control who Kelly falls for, or who she sleeps with."
"We'll see." Powell glared at him. Guerrero frowned back.
"You never even tried to trace that email did you?" He asked. "You didn't have to. You sent it to Kelly yourself, you sick fuck."
"So why get me and Chance involved if you're the one threatening Kelly?"
"I saw an opportunity. I had an interest in Richard Cole's murder being solved quickly and quietly and when Kelly took Bailey's case and started asking awkward questions I knew I could make the situation work for me."
"By threatening your own sister?"
"By creating a credible threat that would, alas, result in Anita's death."
"But why get us involved? Did you really think I wouldn't work out that it was you that sent that email to Kelly? Did you think Chance would sit back and let you kill Anita?"
Powell smirked. "There's not much Chance can do from his current location is there? I knew he would want to speak to Bailey, but really. Going undercover as an inmate? I think your friend has a death wish. Killing him now is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. I had something far more elegant planned but it seems a bit redundant now."
"I fucked your sister eight years ago and now you plan on getting your revenge by killing Chance?" Guerrero said with a laugh, trying to suppress the feelings of rage and fear that were threatening to tear him apart from the inside. "What the hell took you so long?"
"Your former employer's goodwill was important to me. It's not anymore." Powell replied.
"Dude, he's sent people to kill Chance on more than one occasion over the last six years, including me. I don't think he would have been all that cut up about it."
"He's feelings towards Chance are… complicated. But I am now in a position to ignore them."
Guerrero couldn't risk drawing attention to himself by checking his watch, but if the diner clock was halfway accurate it had been about ten minutes since he'd sat down. All he could do was hope that Winston followed his instructions and sent that message. Taking out Powell and his men wouldn't take that long but he needed to make sure he got back to the loft first to check that there wasn't anyone or anything "more elegant" waiting for Chance when he got back.
"That clock is accurate by the way." Powell smirked, having caught Guerrero's fleeting glance in that direction. One of the men from the counter moved silently in to position behind him. "Any minute now Chance should be receiving some visitors to his cell. My file on the prison warden is really quite extensive. He was only too happy to implement an impromptu execution for Chance on the understanding that the file would remain private."
Guerrero felt a gun pressed to the back of his head and two more were trained on him from the men at the table behind Powell. The fourth man walked over and stood by Powell as he got up from the table.
"Isn't this the bit where you're supposed to order your men to kill me?" Guerrero calmly asked as Powell walked to the door with his bodyguard.
"No. That comes later. My men are just going to keep you occupied for long enough that you can't do anything to save your friend. I'm willing to bet you'll find that thought quite distracting." Powell turned his attention to the three men staying behind. "No gunfire unless absolutely necessary. I want this done quietly. Don't kill him unless you have to."
The men nodded but didn't lower their weapons as Powell left the diner.
Chapter 12: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 12
Disclaimer: Fox own Human Target, I own this story although I'm willing to negotiate should they get stuck for story lines :P
Winston sat at Kelly's computer listening to the sounds of the two men in the prison cell sleeping. He watched the clock count down Guerrero's ten minutes impatiently, fighting the urge to call the man back and demand to know what the hell was going on. He would have felt slightly better if Chance was still talking with Bailey but he recognised the sound of his friend starting to snore and knew he was anything but alert and poised for action right now, damn him!
One minute left to go. Winston had the disposable cell in his hand, ready to switch it on and send the message. Guerrero obviously wasn't going to call back but he forced himself to watch the clock reach the ten minute mark before he switched it on. When he had the pending message open he was unsurprised to see that it simply said "NOW". He hit send and waited for the delivery report that would confirm it had been sent. As it flashed on to the screen Winston switched the phone off and nearly had a heart attack as Kelly burst in to the room.
"It's him!" She cried. "It's Powell! He's the one who wanted Richard Cole dead!"
It seemed Guerrero's instincts were right.
"Slow down!" Winston said, removing the headphones and pushing her down on to the sofa. If they finally had some information about this mess he wanted to hear it coherently and in full. "Take a deep breath and tell me what you know."
Kelly reluctantly took a couple of slow breaths to satisfy Winston that she was calm.
"When I took Bailey's case I called in a few favours, trying to get more information on Richard Cole."
Kelly's words still tumbled out more quickly than Winston would have liked, but the information was obviously important so he let her continue without further interruption.
"I was suspicious about Cole's clean record and on a hunch I contacted an old friend at the US Marshalls service. He was on assignment but he just got back to me. I was right. Richard Cole was in the Witness Protection Program. He was going to testify against my brother. The Feds were putting together a case to try Powell for espionage!"
That would explain his IA contact being less than helpful. If IA suspected Pepler of disposing of a key witness in a major federal case they would need to keep that quiet.
"I just activated Guerrero's contingency plan." Winston said. He suddenly realised he'd turned the cell off but not yet destroyed the sim card. He opened the handset up and quickly removed the sim card and folded it, working it back and forth until it snapped. "We have to move now! We're going to rendezvous with Chance and Guerrero back at our office."
"What about the cops watching the building?" Anita asked from the doorway.
"Can't trust'em." He said, turning towards her. "We don't know if they're working with Pepler."
"Won't they follow us?" She asked.
"I can deal with them easy enough." He smiled. "I'll call in a report that there's an officer down a couple of blocks away. Any cop worth his salt will respond to that, surveillance detail or no surveillance detail."
Whilst Winston and Anita were talking Kelly had picked up the headphones that he'd left on the desk .
"Um, Winston? It sounds like Chance and Bailey have company…"
"Well, we just have to hope that it's Guerrero's contingency plan kicking in 'cause there's not a lot we can do. We have to get moving, Now!"
.. ... ..
"I'm sorry I have to do this to you Chance but I really have no choice."
The Warden did actually look sorry, Chance reflected as the prison guards tasered him in to near unconsciousness. He heard the Warden's steps retreat back down the corridor as another jolt of electricity ripped through his body, rendering him incapable of even crying out in pain as he convulsed on the floor. He was dimly aware that the two guards he didn't recognise were the one's responsible for inflicting his pain. He moaned as he received a temporary reprieve whilst they handed the tasers over to the third, more familiar guard, who soon resumed the torture.
Chance barely registered Bailey's cry of surprise as his cellmate was dragged from his bunk and dropped to the floor. The sadistic guard let up for a moment, maybe to enjoy the sounds of pain emanating from his prone victim or maybe to allow Chance to take in the scene as the two guards proceeded to beat Bailey to death with their night sticks.
Chance limply tried to push himself up off the floor but was soon rewarded with a prolonged shock from the tasers that finally sent him twitching into unconscious oblivion.
.. ... ..
"You heard him boys." Guerrero smirked, holding his hands up in the traditional 'don't shoot me' pose. "The boss says you have to put your toys away and play nice."
Guerrero heard the click as the man behind him removed the safety on his gun.
"It would be easier just to shoot him now." said the man. "If Powell's going to kill him later anyway…"
"No, we do this Powell's way." said one of the men still sitting at the next table. "We're only a block away from the police station and I'd rather not get into it with any nosy cops."
Guerrero beamed at them. He suspected that the diner's close proximity to the cops was part of the reason Kelly had chosen the diner as the location for the meeting eight years ago, a desperate attempt to keep things civil.
"Besides," added the third man. "If this doesn't go down the way Powell wants it to, he won't pay up. The guy is a control freak, in case you hadn't noticed."
"Gentlemen," Guerrero said as the three goons reluctantly holstered their weapons and shifted so they stood over the still seated and smiling Guerrero. "Whenever you're ready…?"
Powell's men shared a puzzled smile over the audacity of the man who just sat there calmly waiting for the beat down to begin. Guerrero gave them a second to enjoy the moment before retrieving the gun taped to the underside of the table. He simultaneously shoot the guy behind him whilst slashing through the femoral artery of the man to his right with the knife that had been strapped to his leg. The third man reached for his gun but was too slow to prevent Guerrero from shooting him point blank in the face. Guerrero's arm whipped round and he shot the man on his right who was desperately trying to stem the flow of blood from his leg. The whole thing only took seconds.
Guerrero heard moaning from the guy behind him who he'd shot blindly and got up from the table to take a look. He'd hit him in the chest and the wound looked to be a fatal one, the blood rapidly pooling on the linoleum of the diner floor. The dying man seemed unwilling to give up the fight though and was pathetically trying to draw his gun even though his hand seemed to lack the strength to grip it properly.
"Sorry dude, but I never agreed to Powell's rules." he said, shooting the dying man in the head.
He glanced around the diner, making sure there was nothing left behind to link him to the scene and he remembered the tape stuck to the underside of the table. As he retrieved it he smiled. He knew Powell wouldn't be able to resist sitting in the same spot as their meeting eight years ago, his desire for control often tipped over in to OCD. Guerrero was just glad that he'd managed to persuade the waitress to stash the gun there for him before Powell and his goons arrived. Guerrero was a regular at the diner and any incidental fingerprints he may have left would be explained away by the fact he often frequented the place.
He slipped away through the kitchen, eager to get back to the loft and check on Chance.
Chapter 13: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 13
Disclaimer: Human Target is still the property of Fox, this story is still all mine.
Disclaimer: Human Target is still the property of Fox, this story is still all mine.
"Sir, there's a problem in block G! Some of the inmates have taken Opperman and Gartland hostage and the whole block looks ready to riot."
That sounded like the kid from earlier, Chance thought as he slowly found himself more or less conscious on the cold, hard floor of the cell. His limbs weren't yet responding but his hearing was definitely coming back.
"Well go get in your riot gear and help them out! I have a job I need to finish here for the Warden."
That was definitely the other guard from earlier, the one who'd last been holding the tasers, he thought, trying to will his stunned body back to life.
"It was the warden that sent me sir. The radios aren't working and he needs all hands on deck. He said Stirling and Koprowski were with you. He said to send them over and you'd have to make do here with me."
Stirling and Koprowski… they must be the other two guards. The one's that dragged Bailey out of…
He managed to open his eyes just enough to see the battered body of his former cellmate lying a few feet away. He felt a pang of pity and regret for the man he couldn't save and hoped like hell that he could shake of the effects of the tasers before he met the same fate.
"He said, did he?" The older guard wasn't happy about trading two experienced guards for the new kid. "Well you two had better go help out on G block. I'm sure Buckwell will jump at the chance of a little payback."
Chance heard Stirling and Koprowski laugh and walk out the cell.
Well, at least that's slightly better odds.
Chance thought he was getting some movement back in his fingers but knew he'd need a lot more than that before he made any kind of move. Another jolt from the tasers could render him incapacitated again if he tried to retaliate before his body had really recovered. Thankfully the guard seemed satisfied that Chance was still out cold.
"Is that one dead sir?"
"Yeah, or as good as."
Must be talking about Bailey.
"We still have to finish this one off though, Buckwell. You up to the job?"
Buckwell seemed to be weighing it up.
"I… I think so sir. Do you want me to hit him?"
Chance cringed, I'm so not going to be killed by this guy. It's embarrassing!
The older guard laughed. "No, we don't have all day! The Warden's orders were to make it look like they killed each other. Here use this."
That does not sound good, Chance thought, bracing himself for whatever improvised weapon Buckwell had just been handed.
"A couple of stabs to the neck should do it." The older guard said, urging the younger man to get on with it.
Great. Shanking it is then.
Chance heard the guard step closer and crouch down. He couldn't even flinch if he wanted to as he felt a blade jab twice in the area around his collar bone on his left side. If he could have, he might have laughed. The kid had managed to miss his neck and all the major arteries! The blade hadn't even penetrated that far, an inch at most.
He heard Buckwell stand up and drop the shank on to the floor.
"For fuck's sake man! I said stab him, not tickle him! Here, hold these. Zap him if he even looks like he's gonna move!"
Chance risked opening his eyes and was just in time to see Buckwell kick the older guard in the face as he reached down to pick up the home made knife. He kicked the man so hard that Chance thought he heard a faint snap that might have been the man's neck breaking as his head snapped back. It didn't really matter either way as the force with which his head hit the cell wall was likely enough to kill him anyway.
Buckwell spat in the face of the older guard before stripping the uniform roughly from the body. When he was done he squatted down beside Chance.
"Sorry about that, dude. Guerrero left the signal to the last moment, as usual."
"The riot?" Chance managed to ask, through slightly numb lips.
"Yeah, that was his doing. He figured no one would check the ID of an injured guard too closely if he was dragged out during a riot. Letting yourself get tasered wasn't exactly part of the plan but it did make shanking you safely a bit easier. Guerrero said that was going to be the difficult part. He said you got skills. Staying out of the way of tasers obviously isn't one them though."
Chance didn't waste any effort in replying. He was pretty sure Guerrero's buddy could work out Chance's feelings on the matter on his own.
"Think you can help me get this uniform on you?"
Chance was getting some movement back, enough to help a bit with putting the uniform on but not enough for his legs to support him unaided. Buckwell listened at the door as the sound of Guerrero's riot grew louder.
"We have to move now. If we wait any longer we'll have to fight our way through the riot."
Chance nodded and with his arm thrown over Buckwell's shoulder for support they managed to stagger their way out on to the landing. They'd managed to negotiate two flights of stairs and several gates when they ran in to reinforcements in riot gear.
"This man needs a doctor!" Buckwell called out. "Can I get some help here?"
Most of the reinforcements jogged right by but one took pity on them.
"The medics are that way kid. Do yourself a favour and keep out of the way."
Buckwell swore under his breath and continued hauling Chance to freedom. He was relieved as step by step Chance was able to support more of his weight and by the time they reached the outer gates he was almost able to walk normally again.
"Try and look a bit more hurt!" Buckwell hissed as they reached the final checkpoint. Chance allowed his head to fall forward and went back to dragging his feet heavily along the ground. He didn't look up at the armed response unit as they approached but the ruse seemed to work as they were apparently waved through and Buckwell helped him in to the back of a waiting ambulance.
As the doors to the vehicle slammed shut, Chance looked up and took a look around. It did seem to be a genuine fully equipped ambulance but he had his doubts that the teenage girl driving it was a real EMT. Buckwell stuck out his hand for Chance to shake.
"Matt Brockwell. That's my sister Bianca."
Chance shook his hand.
"Nice to meet you Matt." Chance smiled. "Sorry about tripping you up earlier. Nothing personal, I just had a cover to protect."
"Not a problem. Although if you were anyone but Guerrero's friend you would have found that blade buried right up to the handle in your jugular." Matt smiled as he spoke but in such a way as to leave no doubt in Chance's mind that he meant what he said.
"Good to know." He replied.
Chapter 14: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 14
Disclaimer: Fox owns Human Target but this story is so mi-yi-ine!
Guerrero arrived at their building first and as soon as he saw the ambulance pull up he jumped in to the still moving vehicle and slammed the door behind him.
"What the hell is going on?" Chance asked, still a bit tetchy from being tasered. "One minute I'm in the cell with Bailey and the next the Warden is having me tasered so hard I'm pretty sure I see my dead grandmother and your pal Buckwell, Brockwell or whatever is trying to stab me in the neck!"
Guerrero frowned and turned to Brockwell, "What the hell dude? I told you to aim for a rib!"
"Yeah well the situation called for a neck wound." he shrugged. "And like I told your buddy here, I could have done a lot worse!"
Guerrero shoved Chance's protesting hands out of the way and removed the gauze from the wound. He visibly relaxed when he saw for himself that it was just superficial.
"Quit being such a baby, bro. You're fine." He smiled as Chance grumbled something about it being the principle of the thing.
"I've never been overburdened with principles dude, you know that."
"So, are we all square now?" Brockwell asked Guerrero. "Favour paid back in full?"
"Yes and no." He replied.
Brockwell's face darkened at the ambiguous reply and Bianca started cursing loudly at him from the front seat.
"Hey Bianca." Guerrero said, amused by the colourful language.
"Don't 'Hey Bianca' me, you asshole!" she spat back. "You hold this so-called favour over my brother's head for over a year then call him up telling - not asking mind you, telling - him to go under cover in a fucking prison to save your friend's ass and then have the gall to bitch about him not doing it the way you wanted! And then, then you say we're not even square with you? Fuck you Guerrero! Fuck you and your bitchy, whiney, punk-ass…."
"Relax B," Guerrero interrupted before she deteriorated in to cussing him out again. "The debt is settled. I was only going to offer you payment for another job."
"How much?" She fired back, without missing a beat. Guerrero laughed.
"That's Winston pulling up now." Chance said, pointing through the windscreen. "Maybe we should take this inside."
"Can't do that, dude." Guerrero said, dialling Winston's number on his cell. "I think Powell might have the place rigged with something."
"The building is booby trapped?" asked Winston as he answered the call and picked up the tail end of what had just been said. Guerrero switched the call to speaker phone.
"I think it's likely, yeah. Powell said something about having an 'elegant' plan to kill Chance. Knowing Powell that's likely to mean he's got something rigged to kill him, something we wouldn't normally even consider a threat. He likes to make things way too complicated than they need to be. He always did fancy himself as an evil genius type super-villain. He favours style over efficiency any day of the week."
"So Powell's the bad guy and now I'm the target?" Chance asked. "What about Kelly and Anita?"
"It turns out Powell still isn't hip with Kelly's lifestyle." Guerrero said, smiling at the thought of Powell's face as he had taunted him at the diner. "He wants Anita dead."
"So all this stuff with Bailey…?" Chance asked.
"Cole was going to testify against Powell in a case the Feds were trying to put together." Winston explained. "He was going in to witness protection. Bailey took the fall to hide the fact his murder was a hit."
"What happened with Bailey?" Kelly asked over the speakerphone.
"I'm sorry Kelly. He's dead." Chance said with genuine regret. "There was nothing we could have done for him."
"Well, what do we do now?" Winston asked. "We can't just sit here in the van, we're sitting ducks."
"I was just getting to that when you showed up." Guerrero said. "Brockwell, just how hot is this ambulance? Is it going to be missed anytime soon? Can it be traced?"
"Oh, please!" Bianca snorted . "We're not amateurs! We switched the plates and removed the GPS tracker. The only way someone would know this bus was stolen would be if they checked the VIN."
"Good. You take Kelly and Anita and hide them and I'll let you keep the ambulance."
"Guerrero! You cannot give away an ambulance! It's…" Winston's voice abruptly cut off as Guerrero muted the call.
"You in?" He asked.
"What's to stop us keeping it anyway?" Bianca asked smugly.
"Because, sis, I'd still owe Guerrero." Brockwell explained. "The ambulance would be payment for getting his bud out of jail and I would still owe him a favour that he could call in at any time."
Bianca considered this for a moment.
"I guess that makes sense, in a way." She conceded. "Okay, we're in. We taking buddy boy too?" She asked, indicating Chance.
"No, I'm good." Chance smiled at the thought of the mouthy teenager offering him protection. "Me and Guerrero have work to do."
"Shame." Bianca giving Chance an appreciative look. "That would have sweetened the deal."
"Don't worry." He replied, winking at her. "You get to hang with our friend Winston."
Guerrero unmuted the call.
"… and what the hell are your low-life, scum-bag cronies going to do with a freakin' ambulance anyways?" Winston didn't have appear to notice that no-one had been listening to his feelings about stealing emergency response vehicles.
"You can ask them yourself, dude. You're gonna be riding with them for a while." Guerrero said, grinning at the look on Bianca's face as she realised she wasn't exactly getting a fair trade in swapping Chance for Winston. "Although, I suggest you not calling Bianca a low-life scum-bag, that tends to make her cranky."
Chapter 15: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 15
Disclaimer: Fox owns Human Target but this story is mine.
"I think it's time we spoke to Detective Pepler." Guerrero said as he and Chance watched the stolen ambulance pull away. "We'll take my car. I already checked it over. Powell hasn't messed with it."
Chance nodded and they walked in silence to the alley where it was parked. Guerrero drove whilst Chance stared blankly out of the window.
"Don't know who I feel sorry for most at the moment, dude, Bianca or Winston." Guerrero said, more to break the silence than out of concern for the driver of the ambulance or her unwilling passenger.
"We had to send Winston with them to keep an eye on things." Chance replied. "He knows that."
"Yeah, but Winston was a cop. Bianca hates cops."
Chance shrugged. His silence was beginning to worry Guerrero.
"Look dude, I'm sorry about all of this. I knew Powell was still mad but I didn't know he'd try and get to me through you."
"He's trying to kill me to get back at you?" Chance asked, surprised.
"Yeah, isn't that why you're pissed?"
Chance sighed. "I'm not pissed why you Guerrero, I'm pissed with the whole situation. I'm pissed that there was nothing I could do to help Bailey. I'm pissed that I let myself get tasered whilst he was being beaten to death. I'm not thrilled by the idea that our building may be rigged but at this point it doesn't really matter why Powell wants me dead. I'd assumed it was because I was trying to help Bailey."
"That was why the prison guards were told to kill you but I think Powell has been planning to kill you for a long time." Guerrero explained. "He said he put it off until he knew it wouldn't cause trouble for him with the old man."
"I'm surprised his feelings were an issue." Chance thought for a moment. "Why doesn't Powell just kill you if he hates you so much?"
"I guess he wants to make me suffer." Guerrero said. "The way he sees it I messed with the person he cares about most. You're the closest thing to a brother I have so that made you a target."
They sat in an silence for a while, uncomfortable with the fact that in a round about way Guerrero had just admitted that Chance was the person he cared about most in the world. It was something they both knew, and Chance knew Guerrero understood he felt the same way about him, and to a lesser extent Winston but it wasn't something that usually needed to be said. To talk about it revealed their friendship as a personal weakness, something that people in their world should have let go of a long time ago.
"I guess I should be grateful you didn't say I was like a sister to you." Chance said, smiling.
"Yeah, well you do bitch like one." Guerrero replied. "One lousy taser…"
"Two tasers, Guerrero! There were two! And we're not talking a quick zap either! I was out cold for a while there!"
"..and a tiny cut to the neck…"
"I was shanked! You told your guy to shank me!"
"…more like a paper cut really. Sure that dressing is big enough for ya? I'm sure we could find a bigger one…"
"You know I really hate you sometimes?" Chance threw his hands up in defeat.
"Me too, buddy." Guerrero laughed.
.. ... ..
Detective Pepler was distracted as he walked to his car in the multi-story parking lot. He'd just received a very unsettling phone call. The prison warden had just informed him that Bailey was dead and he wasn't sure he believed the story about a beating that had got out of hand. He was just trying to figure out whether or not it was to Powell's advantage to have the guy killed as he climbed in to his car and slammed the door.
Pepler saw the face smiling at him in the rear-view mirror too late to react. Guerrero shoved a plastic bag over the cop's head and pulled it taut against his face, suffocating him as Chance got in the passenger side. Pepler frantically clawed at the plastic, trying to rip it open to allow himself to breathe. Chance sighed and wrestled the man's hands away from his face and cuffed them to the steering wheel.
"Relax Detective we only want to talk." Chance said, ignoring the man's struggle to breathe. "Can he even hear me? Are you covering his ears with that thing?"
"No, he can hear you just fine. Can't you dude?" Guerrero replied.
Pepler tried to nod but the bag across his face made the movement difficult. He tried hit the car horn but nothing happened.
"Yeah, we disconnected that." Guerrero said, still not letting up the pressure.
"I think before we begin I need to set out a few ground rules." Chance said. "No shouting, screaming or trying to call for help in any way. I ask you questions and you answer truthfully and to the best of your ability. If you attempt to lie to me or hold anything back…" He paused and leaned in close to Pepler's face, calmly observing the frantic man's struggle to breathe. "… I think you know what will happen."
Pepler weak struggles stopped before he tried again to nod. Chance sat for a moment watching for an agonising moment as if waiting for a sign of the cop's willingness to comply, ignoring the pleading look in his bulging eyes.
"What do you think, is he ready to talk?" Chance asked
"I think he's trying to nod, bro. He's ready."
"Okay." Chance said, taking his time to reach over and pop a hole in the plastic over Pepler's gaping mouth. The detective gasped in a lung full of air and Guerrero waved another bag at him in the rear view mirror.
"Got plenty more of these if at any point you stop feeling chatty." Guerrero said in a casual way that turned Pepler's stomach.
"Who are you?" Pepler spluttered through the hole in the bag. Guerrero shook his head and pulled the torn plastic bag away.
"I'm sure I specified that I was going to ask the questions, detective, and you were going to answer them." Chance sighed. "Are we going to have a problem here?"
"No! No problem!" Pepler replied, the rising panic in his voice taking him dangerously close to a shout as he heard Guerrero ready the next bag.
"I also warned you what would happen if you shouted." Chance stated coolly.
Pepler swallowed nervously before forcing out the words: "Please, I'll co-operate, I'll answer your questions." in something approximating a normal speaking voice.
"Good." Chance said, giving the terrified man a wide, friendly smile. "Now, we know that you made Bailey take the fall for the hit on Richard Cole so we can skip that part and get on to the important stuff. Who really killed Cole? Remember Detective, I will know if you lie to me."
Pepler nervously licked his lips and considered for the briefest moment lying to the man sitting beside him but then Guerrero caught his eye in the rear-view mirror and gave him a thin-lipped smile.
"I did it. I shot Cole." he blurted out, deciding that he may as just as well be killed for the truth as for a lie.
"I appreciate your honesty Detective Pepler." Chance said coldly. "On whose orders."
This seemed to be a harder question for the man to answer. Guerrero slipped another bag over the man's head but didn't pull it tight.
"Powell!" Pepler sobbed. "Powell ordered me to do it! It was Powell!"
Chance nodded and Guerrero reluctantly removed the bag.
"Where can we find Powell right now?" Chance demanded.
"I don't know! He always contacted me! I don't even have a number for him, I swear!"
Chance stared in silence out of the front of the car as Guerrero tutted, shook his head and raised the bag slowly to place it over Pepler head again
"Wait! Please!" He begged. "I heard something! I heard something in the background of one of his calls!"
Chanced turned his head and stared and him. "I'm listening."
"I heard a bell!"
"What kind of bell? An alarm? A school bell?" Chance asked.
"More like a church bell." Pepler replied.
"Some kind of music, I think they were singing in Chinese. It was all kind of nasal and whiney. I don't know for sure. At first I thought it was a kid crying."
Chance smiled at him. "Thank you Detective. I appreciate your co-operation."
Guerrero rolled his eyes as Chance pulled out a taser and shocked the terrified detective in to unconsciousness.
"That make you feel better dude?" Guerrero asked, amused.
"Little bit, yeah." Chance replied, smiling.
Chapter 16: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 16
Disclaimer: Human Target belongs to Fox and this story is mine.
Disclaimer: Human Target belongs to Fox and this story is mine.
Author's note: I've never been to San Francisco so apologies to anyone familiar with the city. I just had to do my best with Wikipedia and google maps.
Chance checked the play-back of the conversation with Pepler on his phone.
- "I did it. I shot Cole." -
He smiled as he made a copy of the audio file to the cell phone's memory card and removed it.
"Guerrero, you got any tape?" he asked.
"Never leave home without it." He replied, reaching in to the glove box of his car to retrieve a roll of duct tape which he then threw over.
Chance caught it and tore off a small piece and taped the memory card to Pepler's forehead. Almost as an after-thought he tore off another length and stuck it over the cop's mouth.
"You finished?" Guerrero asked with just the faintest hint of a smile.
"No, I think we should stash Pepler in the trunk of his car. I don't want anyone finding him just yet, not until we've done something about Powell. I'll email the audio to IA later, in case he somehow manages to wriggle his way out."
"Good call." Guerrero replied.
Once they had Pepler locked in the trunk, they got back in Guerrero's car and left the parking lot. Chance drove whist Guerrero tapped away on his laptop beside him.
"You sure no one just caught that on a security camera?" Chance asked.
"Seriously dude?" Guerrero replied, pausing to give Chance an impatient glare over the top of his glasses.
"Okay! Sorry! I was just checking! So, it sounds like Powell still has a thing for Japantown and those church bells should narrow it down a bit too. Any chance you can pinpoint a specific building Powell might be using?"
"I'm working on it dude." Guerrero replied. "A set up like Powell's is very power hungry so it should show up as a major drain of the electricity grid and once I factor in a few other variables…. Got him!"
"A building on Fillmore Street, a couple of blocks from St Dominics. I'm guessing that the source of the church bells Pepler heard." Guerrero looked over at Chance. "What's the plan here dude? You know I'll happily kill the bastard but…"
"No one deserves to die." Chance finished the sentence for him.
"Yeah. Sure you don't want to make an exception? Powell is very well connected, what if the feds can't make a case against him without Cole's testimony?"
"That's why we're going to help them." Chance smiled. "Or rather you are. I'm going to keep Powell busy whilst you hack his system to find proof."
Guerrero sighed. "That's not going to be easy dude. He's facing espionage charges. Anything to do with shit that heavy is going to be extremely well protected."
"So grab what you can and let the feds worry about the decryption. And see if you can find anything that proves Powell's influence over the Warden and the cops."
"You're asking a lot here, buddy." Guerrero said, frowning as he considered the logistics of what Chance was asking. "Powell is the best when it comes to this kind of thing, you know that."
"I'm not asking you to put together an air-tight legal case, Guerrero." Chance said. "Just dig up enough dirt to point the feds in the right direction. Once they add that to Pepler's confession they should have enough to hold him until they can make the charges stick."
"If you can keep him busy enough that he can't personally monitor his network, I may be able to get what we need." He said doubtfully.
"There's one more thing I need you to do." Chance said, knowing that his next request would really be pushing his luck. "Powell is still going to try and kill Anita. I need you to provide cover fire from Powell's building whilst we distract Powell."
"You want me to simultaneously hack what is probably the best protected computer system in the city and play sniper?" Guerrero asked incredulously.
"Yeah." Chance replied, giving his friend a lop-sided grin. "Not going to be a problem for you is it?"
Guerrero glared at him, but his mind had already shifted in to overdrive, working out just how he could perform the impossible for Chance.
.. ... ..
"Are you sure this is safe?" Kelly asked, adjusting the hem of her borrowed dress in a futile attempt to make the tight red, strapless dress cover and extra inch or two of her exposed legs. Anita swiped her hands away and pulled the top of the dress up a bit, undoing Kelly's efforts at covering a bit more leg.
"Quit pulling at it!" Anita snapped. "You can either show of your legs or you can have your tits flop out the top and as your girlfriend I'd much rather keep your tits to myself." She glared sideways at Guerrero sitting in the back of the surveillance van, daring him to comment. To his credit, he didn't even laugh. He just smiled and continued to check the contents of his backpack.
"Believe or not, Kelly, this is how we usually do things." Chance said. "We make our client appear vulnerable to draw out the threat so we can deal with it."
"Do you usually make your clients dress like hookers?" Anita demanded, obviously not thrilled with the silver sequined dress she was almost wearing. The halter-neck did ensure her breasts were tucked safely away but the back was cut so low that she felt her ass would leap free of the flimsy fabric were she to sit down too quickly.
"Only the pretty ones." Guerrero smirked as he ducked the stiletto heel that was hurled at his face. "Careful! Bianca wants those back in one piece!"
"Come on Anita." Chance smiled at the angry blonde. "It's not so bad. All you've got to do is sip a few cocktails and make eyes at me and Kelly."
"You lay one finger on me or Kelly and I'll rip your balls off like a paper towel and stuff them down your throat!" Anita hissed.
Chance grinned. "A certain amount of physical contact is inevitable if we're going to be convincing."
"Babe, he's right." Kelly said, catching Anita's arm and pulling her round to face her. "The whole point of this get up is to distract Powell. We need to really push his buttons, and keep pushing those buttons until Guerrero's finished in his office."
"What about whoever he's sending to kill me?" Anita asked. "I'm going to be just sitting there, out in the open!"
"It's taken care of." Chance said. "I'll be right there next to you. Winston has been on to the feds and they will have people in the bar. Plus Guerrero will be covering us from across the street."
"Whilst he's hacking into Powell's computer?" Anita snorted. "You'll excuse me if I prefer someone who'll give me their full attention when they're supposed to be saving my life."
"Yeah, maybe I'll be so distracted I'll slip." Guerrero muttered, shouldering his riffle and backpack and jumping out of the van, slamming the door behind him.
"Couldn't Winston cover us from across the street?" Kelly asked Chance. She wasn't feeling entirely confident that Guerrero's thinly veiled threat was a joke.
"Afraid not." He replied. "Winston's got to make sure the feds hold back until Guerrero is done. Besides, Guerrero is the best sniper I know."
"Thanks dude." Guerrero said via the earpiece Chance was wearing. "Now I can't hit her without it looking deliberate."
"You in position?" Chance asked.
"Good to go." Guerrero replied as Chance caught the sound of a brief scuffle over the comms link.
"We're good." Winston replied, also via the earpiece. "Ready when you are buddy. Just try and keep a lid on things. I won't be able to hold them back if it looks like innocent civilians are going to get caught in the cross-fire."
"Okay. Kelly, you're up. You sure you can get him to come down to the bar?"
Kelly started dialling Powell's number.
"I guess we're going to find out." She said hitting the final button.
Chapter 17: Keep pushing those buttons Chapter 17
Disclaimer: You know the drill. Fox wishes it had writers like me (modesty fail!) and I wish I owned Human Target!
Disclaimer: You know the drill. Fox wishes it had writers like me (modesty fail!) and I wish I owned Human Target!
The bile rose like burning lava in Powell's throat when he caught sight of Kelly perched on Chance's lap at a table outside the karaoke bar across the street. Anita sat close by and had one hand laid protectively on Kelly's exposed thigh. Chance whispered something in Kelly's ear and she threw her head back and laughed giving him an unobstructed view down the top of her dress, which he openly took advantage of.
Powell swore so loudly and with such vehemence that his bodyguard drew his weapon, certain that his boss had been hit by some unseen assailant.
"Put that away!" Powell snapped.
"Sorry sir. I just thought…" He didn't bother telling Powell what he thought as his boss was again oblivious to everything but the sight of his sister sprawled across the blond bodyguard's lap.
As they waited at the crosswalk for the lights to change Chance whispered again in to Kelly's ear. The sight of this alone was enough to set Powell off cursing again but when Kelly pulled Anita towards her and began kissing her passionately and to Chance's obvious enjoyment, his bodyguard had to physically restrain him from running into the busy traffic.
"Sir! You need to calm down!"
Powell closed his eyes and took a deep breath, but the image of Kelly kissing Anita whilst perched on Chance's lap was burned indelibly into his retinas. He forced himself to try and emotionally detach himself from what he was seeing. Kelly had asked him to meet her, therefore she intended him to see this. She knew how he would react and therefore so would Chance. They wanted, no, needed him to react emotionally to their sick little display. It was a diversion, nothing more.
Powell's resolve to keep a cool head evaporated as soon as he opened his eyes. Chance and Anita were now doing tequila shots, licking the salt from Kelly's neck. Luckily for Powell, the lights had changed so he wasn't mowed down by the traffic as he strode angrily across the road.
"Guerrero, you in position?" Chance muttered into Kelly's neck.
"Yeah, I'm ready." Came his reply via the ear piece. "Looks like you're having a good time down there. I hope you're keeping your mind on the job."
Chance grinned as he detected a slight note of jealousy in his friend's voice.
"Hey! I'm just doing my job here!" he replied attempting, and failing, to sound hurt.
Anita leaned in to Chance seductively and whispered in his ear:
"Don't think I haven't noticed how much you're enjoying all this." She looked pointedly at his lap. "If you don't get your mind out of the gutter right now, I'll kill you myself."
Chance only had time to give her one of his boyish smiles in response before Powell arrived at their table. Kelly's brother was barely managing to keep a lid on his temper; his hands were almost shaking with rage and there was a vein pulsating on his temple that looked about ready to burst.
"Is this little display strictly necessary?" Powell's voice sounded unusually nasal, distorted by pure anger and the effort required not to scream the words at him as he sat down opposite Chance.
"Maybe not, but it sure is fun." Chance winked sending Powell's blood pressure through the roof and making his face flush a dangerous red. Chance didn't miss the glare from Anita either and hoped that she could hold off any attempt on his life until the plan had run its course. He really didn't like the way she was holding that empty cocktail glass…
"What do you really hope to achieve here, Chance?" Powell's voice was even more strained than before. "Did you think parading my little sister around like a cheap whore would make me see the error of my ways? You surely didn't think I would just keel over from a heart attack in the street, did you?"
Chance laughed and was about to reply when Anita spoke:
"You don't look that far off a coronary." She smiled sweetly and planted a kiss on the side of Kelly's neck, making her squirm slightly and forcing Chance to override his body's natural reaction to the sudden stimulus with sheer willpower.
"Guerrero, you see any sign of a hitman?" Winston barked over the comm link.
"Not yet dude. I'm fairly sure he wouldn't go after Anita with Powell still sitting at the table anyway."
"Why not?" Winston asked.
"Bad business practice, dude." Guerrero explained. "You hire a hitman to distance yourself from the hit. A good hitman never ever meets his employer face to face. It's in the interests of both parties not to be seen together."
"What if he's hired a sniper?"
"That's what I'm here for. Now shut your yap and let me concentrate!"
Despite the argument going on in his earpiece and Kelly's squirming presence on his lap Chance kept his focus on the angry hacker seated on the other side of the table.
"You're not leaving Kelly a lot of options here, Powell." Chance said, his face now serious. "Or me for that matter."
"Please Powell," Kelly pleaded. "You need to just let go of this ridiculous idea that you have some say in my life! If you hurt Anita in any way you'll just be driving me further away from you! The whole feud with Guerrero was bad enough but at least he knows how to take care of himself! The only thing Anita has ever done is love and support me. She's sees me for who I really am and loves me anyway. She's never tried to change me…"
"Oh she changed you alright." Powell snarled. "She's changed you into a sick, twisted, lesbian whore!"
Chance anticipated Anita's lunge at Powell's face with the cocktail glass and smoothly kicked her legs out from under her so she crashed awkwardly back in to her seat.
"I think you've had enough to drink for now, sweetie." He said, plucking the glass from her fingers and putting it safely out of reach. Anita glared at him but didn't make another move against Powell.
"It's just a hunch but I don't think Powell hired a good hitman."
"Why? Do you see him?"
"No, but I'll know him when I do see him."
"That's no exactly helpful! How are the feds going to get…"
"I'll take care of it dude. Just keep the feds out of my way."
"You're not allowed to kill him!"
"Not allowed? Seriously?" Guerrero chuckled. "Just do your part and I'll do mine. Okay?"
"Name calling really isn't going to help your situation right now, Powell." Chance said calmly. "You are an intelligent man, despite your prejudices. Surely you've realised this public display of affection is in aid of something?"
Powell frowned. He had of course realised it was a diversion but he'd been too blinded by rage to consider its purpose. His stomach churned as he looked around him, looking for a particular face.
"Where's Guerrero?" He demanded.
Chance shrugged. "Right now? He may still be in your office, downloading your files or he may have just ripped out the hard drives and be halfway to a rendezvous with the feds. I don't know. I left the details up to him."
"It wouldn't do him any good either way." Powell said. The colour drained from his face, indicating he wasn't quite as confident as he tried to appear. "There's no way in hell he could get access to my files, the biometric failsafes alone would require…"
"You sure about that?" Chance interrupted. "I mean, really sure?"
Powell fled across the busy road, with his bodyguard just a step behind, as self-preservation overrode every other thought in his head. Cars swerved to avoid them and one near miss would have proved fatal for Powell had his bodyguard not managed to push him out of the way at the last moment.
"Guerrero, Powell's heading back. You need to move now!" Chance said as he ushered Kelly and Anita in to the bar and in to the custody of the waiting federal agents.
"Just a minute dude, I've got the hitman."
"Guerrero, they're safe! You don't need to…" Chance was silenced by the unmistakable crack of a riffle shot.
"What the hell..?" Winston said.
"Relax." Guerrero replied. "I just hit him in the leg. Should make it nice and easy for your boys to pick him up."
Chance laughed as he heard Winston breathe an audible sigh of relief before having to hurriedly explain the situation to the feds and persuade them to hold back despite the rising panic from the witnesses on the street.
"I'll see you in the van." Chance said.
"I'm way ahead of you dude." Guerrero said, slightly out of breath.
When Chance got to the van Guerrero was already pulling up the feed from the cameras he'd hidden in Powell's office. Chance didn't bother to ask him how he'd got back to the van so fast; Guerrero was still wearing some of the kit he'd used to rappel down the back of Powell's building before sprinting back to the van.
"What's that on the screens?" Chance asked pointing at the monitors in the office.
Guerrero grinned. "Just some of Kelly and Anita's holiday snaps. Turns out they really dig topless sunbathing."
"I take it that they're unaware you "borrowed" them from their home computer?" Chance said, trying to sound disapproving.
"I had to leave something so Powell knew that I'd been there." Guerrero explained, ignoring the question. "Now he's going to have to log on to his computer to check what I took."
Powell found the device that was hooked up to the monitors feeding the slide show of topless photos and ripped it out.
"Don't worry, he was supposed to find that." Guerrero said.
"What did you take?" Chance asked.
"Nothing." Guerrero said, watching the screens intently and tapping away at his laptop.
"Then what…?" he started to ask before Guerrero shushed him.
"Here comes the good bit! Powell has just disabled the biometric security measures so all I have to do now is watch for the passwords…"
Chance sat back and watched with admiration as Guerrero recorded all the information that Powell entered in to his computer.
"Winston," Guerrero said, "tell the feds to get their asses in there before Powell works out what's going on and makes a run for it!"
"Are you downloading the files now?" Chance asked.
"Nope." Guerrero smiled tapping rapidly at his own keyboard. "Better than that, I'm locking him out of his own network. Now I'm the only one who can access it. I just needed to get Powell to log in and bypass his own security measures for me."
The hidden cameras in Powell's office were angled to provide the best possible view of the computers rather than the man himself so they only heard his howls of anger and frustration and were unable to see the look on his face at the exact moment he realised what was going on. Seconds later the room was stormed by a dozen or so armed men followed by Winston and the federal agent in charge of the operation.
"Winston." Guerrero said, "Don't let them touch any of the computers! Tell them they're booby trapped to explode or something."
"Why?" he asked. "Are they?"
"Not that I know of but Powell is bound to have information about me and Chance in there somewhere. If the feds get hold of it we are terminally screwed. I need some time alone in there to get rid of anything incriminating."
There was silence.
"Winston, ya hear me?"
"Yeah, I hear you.. Doesn't mean I have to like it though." Winston grumbled.
"Everybody out!" Winston roared "Get Powell outta here before he blows us all to kingdom come! Don't touch anything, the place is rigged to blow! Bomb disposal are on their way! MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!"
Chance and Guerrero winced and removed their ear pieces.
"He did that deliberately dude!" Guerrero complained. "I think he perforated my eardrum!"
"Urgh! Mine too but you surprised him. You know he doesn't like surprises, they make him shout." Chance said as we wriggled a finger in his offended ear. "Just out of curiosity, how did you spot Powell's hitman?"
"The bodyguard he had with him tonight wasn't the same dude as in the diner. He wasn't with Powell or in his building so I just figured it was likely that Powell decided to use him to kill Anita. If you were out of the way as he'd originally planned there would be no need to hire a professional so he could just send one of his own guys."
"Makes sense I guess." Chance said despite feeling that it had been a bigger intuitive leap than he would have made himself.
Guerrero slipped off the harness and pulled out a SFPD police jacket from underneath one of the seats.
"Hardly bomb disposable squad gear but it should be enough to get me in the scene if Winston vouches for me."
Reluctantly they both put their earpieces back in and were relieved to hear that Winston's ear-splitting roar had died down to a mere shout as he tried to keep the feds from re-entering the building.
"There are some highly volatile explosives in there that are rigged to take out an entire city block! You can't go back in there! My explosives guy will be here ANY SECOND NOW! He's the only one who can defuse them safely! He's ON HIS WAY NOW!"
"Subtle as a brick, as always." Chance laughed. "You'd better go put him out of his misery!"
"Don't tempt me." He replied darkly. "Chance, do me a favour, don't go back to the office until I get a chance to check it over. I'll give you a call when it's all clear."
Chance knew he was perfectly capable of checking the building himself for any nasty surprises Powell had left for him but he chose to humour Guerrero, knowing that he still felt guilty about it all.
"Okay buddy, just get out there and save Winston's ass before there's a stampede."
Chapter 18: Epilogue
"Well, this doesn't look too bad." Winston said as he stepped out of the elevator with Chance. "I was expecting a lot more mess."
Chance looked around and found that he had to agree with Winston, the place looked just the same as they had left it a few days ago. If Guerrero had torn the place apart looking for booby-traps he'd done an amazing job of putting it back exactly as it was.
"It does look exactly like we left it." Chance said.
"Hey dude." Guerrero appeared suddenly behind them, making Winston jump. "Donuts! Cool." He snatched the pink box from Winston's hands before he had a chance to resist. Winston grumbled under his breath and Chance laughed as they followed Guerrero out to the kitchen.
The overpowering smell of cleaning products hit them long before they reached the kitchen itself but the joke Winston was going to make about Guerrero finally doing some cleaning died on his lips when he saw Guerrero smiling proudly in the barren shell of what used to be their kitchen.
"What the HELL happened to the kitchen?" Winston roared.
"It was contaminated." Guerrero said simply. He allowed his smile to broaden to an outright grin as he watched Winston go in to a full on meltdown.
"WHAT WITH? FUCKING POLLONIUM?"
Chance was trying very hard not to laugh as he tried to steer Winston out of the kitchen and through to the sofa where he hoped he could calm him down. Guerrero had been extremely thorough in his cleaning. Furniture, refrigerator, cooker, microwave, the cupboards and cabinets, even the paint from the walls and ceiling had been stripped away and the floor tiles had all been ripped out. The bare walls, floor and ceiling had then been scrubbed down, which accounted for the smell of cleaning products that for one tantalising second had let Winston believe that Guerrero might have actually done some chores for once.
Chance managed to get Winston to sit down and take a few deep breaths, although this had no noticeable effect on his mood.
"I'm sure there's a really good explanation as to why Guerrero ripped out the kitchen." Chance said, pointedly looking at his unrepentant friend.
"When I was looking through Powell's stuff I found a bunch of references to poison. I dug a little deeper and found out what he was planning to use." Guerrero helped himself to a donut and dropped the box on to Winston's lap. "Turns out it's really nasty stuff. I asked a chemist friend of mine to come over and run a few tests and he said it had been sprayed all over the kitchen. He couldn't get out of here fast enough. He said we'd have to rip out the entire kitchen to be sure to get rid of it, but if it was his place he'd just move."
"Should you be eating that in here?" Chance asked pointing at the donut.
"Yeah, it's fine." Guerrero said. "I made the chemist come back and retest it. I wasn't that sure I could trust him so I made him eat a pizza off the kitchen floor. He's still walking around breathing so I'm sure I got rid of it all."
"Is Carmine okay?" Chance asked.
"He's fine. He's been locked in the garage the whole time." Guerrero reassured his worried friend. Chance nodded, relieved that the dog was safe.
"Are you sure it was only the kitchen that Powell messed with?" Winston asked.
"As far as I can tell it was just the kitchen."
"As far as you can tell?" Winston shouted. "What the hell is that supposed to mean? Is this place a death trap or not?"
"It's fine, Winston." Guerrero said impatiently. "I've checked everything! No bombs, no booby traps, no poison accept in the kitchen! If you're still worried about it just keep your mouth shut and don't lick anything. The toxin needs to be ingested in order for it to be fatal anyway."
Winston clamped his mouth shut and didn't open it again until he was in the elevator.
"I am not setting a foot back in this place until Chance has checked it over and assures me it's safe!" He shouted.
Chance shrugged and helped himself to one of the donuts Winston had abandoned on the sofa. As far as he was concerned if Guerrero said it was safe, it was safe.
.. ... ..