Fandom: Human Target
Characters/Pairings: Guerrero, Chance
Date Written: 2011
Summary: A job left only half finished will always come back to bite you. Literally, sometimes.
Rating/Warnings: R for language, implied violence.
Notes: One-shot, doesn't go anywhere. For zombie_fest. Prompt was: "Again? I thought that shit had been eradicated in South America?"
The phone rings.
These are the distractions, Guerrero thinks, that define modern life. When the job requires technology, awesome, but there should be something sacred in these basic struggles of power and pain and life and death, balanced on the tip of an icepick and the weight of his finger on a trigger. You could be out hunting a woolly mammoth with a spear and your cel would ring; reach out and fuckin' touch someone.
The man tied to the chair in front of him dredges up hope from some distant recess, scrapes it together and pumps it out through his eyes, because maybe the call will mean respite or maybe, just maybe, reprieve.
Light in the eyes looks absurd when so much of the rest of the guy is broken. They're right back to where they started. Guerrero sighs dramatically, ignores the ringing, leans in to get back to work--
Then pauses, because it goes past the second ring and on to the third, and they know not to let it ring three times unless it's an actual Emergency.
"What," he snaps, before the phone's even fully out. "Do you have any idea how much time and effort you just cost me?"
"Nope. And I don't honestly care, either." It's Chance, on Winston's number. Weird. More flippant than usual, too, which can only mean that something's gone pretty wrong. Gunshots in the background, shattering glass. "Mostly I'm just glad you're all right."
Oh, god. Flippancy and sincerity. Even worse than he thought. "Yeah, I'm fine. But you're not."
"We've been better."
"Dude," he says, voice carefully neutral, "what's going on?"
A long, prickly silence on the other end of the line; the background noises are the only way he can tell Chance hasn't hung up. A sudden burst of gunfire, and he can hear Winston bellowing, but it's more anger than fear or injury. Good.
"How can you..." Chance starts, then seems to reconsider. Starts again. "Where have you been for the last twelve hours?"
"Well, at a wild guess I'd say I've been holed up in a warehouse, dealing with this bodyguard you insisted we needed information from?"
"Oh, right. The Gihardelli case."
"Yeah, you know, the one you took yesterday."
"And you're not getting forgetful in your old age or anything."
"Look, Guerrero," Chance says, and he sounds strained now, no longer bothering to hide it. "Plans have changed, okay? Gihardelli's dead, forget about the case, we've got bigger problems."
Guerrero glances sidelong at the man in the chair. The hopeful gleam is still there, and this time it might have merit. Reprieve indeed.
"You remember," Chance continues, "that Aunt Gracie we tried to pull in Venezuela last year, only it turned into Aunt Gracie's Funeral?"
"Yeah, like anyone sane could forget that shit."
A cough into the phone, dry but deep. "Yeah, well. I guess it was kind of a premature burial."
A long, precarious moment passes. It's the dead of summer, but frost may as well be crawling down the windowpanes, and he feels rooted to the spot.
Chance is saying something on the telephone. The man in the chair is starting to struggle against his bonds. The sharp scrape of a chair leg across concrete snaps him back to reality; sounds, in the moment, like the squeal of car tires or the rusty whine of swingset chains.
"Wait," he says to the phone, interrupting Chance--shaking his head hard, to clear it. "Wait, say that again."
It's contained to downtown, Chance tells him. The suburbs have already been evacuated.
Guerrero lets out a held breath, nods against the phone. "Right, whatever." He will pretend not to have a reason to care, and Chance will pretend to believe him. Give and take. "Where are you? The office?"
More glass breaking, distant, and now the shouts are starting to sound panicked. No wonder; whatever that Venuzuelan bug had been or hadn't been, 'fucking scary' was something they'd all been able to agree on. Night of the Living Dead and popcorn in the office, afterward, had seemed an appropriately tasteless endcap to the trip, and by then they'd been able to joke about it.
Chance doesn't sound like he's joking. "Yeah, we're kind of penned in," he says, coughing again. "You might even say 'surrounded'."
"Or maybe 'fucked', you know, if you were feeling colorful."
He glances sideways at the bound man in the middle of the room. Such a wasted opportunity. "Okay. I'll be there in five minutes." He's already packing his kit up, phone wedged between shoulder and ear, and the man sags with relief. He won't be relieved once he realizes what's outside. "This squares us on the Sri Lanka front though, just so you know. And I expect the fridge to be stocked, I haven't eaten in twelve hours."
"Yeah, uh," the phone hums, static rising as the signal suffers. "Look, I thought you'd be..."
Guererro runs the long zipper on the bag, lets Chance trail off.
"If you're actually someplace secure enough that you didn't even know what was going on," Chance continues, sounding like he isn't sure why he's saying it, "maybe you should just stay there, you know? Where it's safe."
Bag slung up onto one shoulder, silent as he crosses to the door. "Dude," he says into the phone, all traces of flippancy evaporated. "What did I just say? I'll be there in five minutes."
A rough breath through the static, another cough, and the gunshots are closer, the panic in the chaos that much sharper.
Four, he thinks, crossing the lot, breaking into a run; beyond the chainlink, he can see them milling around the Eldo, as horrific-looking in the LA heat as they'd ever been in the jungle. Better make it four.