Disclaimer: The following is a work of fan fiction based on Human Target which belongs to Fox.It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of Fox.
Disclaimer: The following is a work of fan fiction based on White Collar which belongs to Jeff Eastin and USA. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of Jeff Eastin and USA.
With a big special thanks to mam711 for your beta reading, and your editing and all your help and support with this story. It’s been a long journey, but with your help it’s been worth the ride. All mistakes are mine.
The picture of “The Thinker” used in the title banner is from an original work of art by my niece Mary Daniel,
This story is for Eileen, with love and best wishes for the best sister a girl could have, for your encouragement with my writing and for looking after my web site, here’s to the next year, and for Mary for her original art work of “The Thinker,” used in the title banner. To Alice and Alec just because I can. Happy New Year Every One.
The Ryan Exchange
Set during the second season of Human Target, and in a White Collar post-season-3 AU.
The art robbery is based on a real-life art robbery featured in the Sky Art series “Art of the Heist”. The methods of the robbery have been copied, and yes, the security really wasn’t that brilliant, which resulted in the loss of three priceless paintings in the mid-eighties.
Warning for implied future OT3 and for implied off screen sexual assault .
Note: The assassination firm that Junior and Guerrero were employed by was founded and ruthlessly run by Joubert, known as the Old Man.
Main Characters: White Collar Peter, Neal and Elizabeth Human Target Chance, Guerrero and Winston
Christopher Chance looked at himself in the reflection of the window: his dark hair was now shot through with gray, and there were more lines on his face than he cared to remember, but he was still in good shape given his 62 years.
But Chance was aware that he didn’t have much longer in the field; he was slowing down, and that could get him killed. Close personal protection was a young man’s game; he had taken on the mantle of Christopher Chance in the 70s, when the previous Christopher Chance had found him, a good cop in a bad situation, drinking himself into an early grave.
That Christopher Chance had offered him a way to find redemption, and had passed on the creed that he lived by: “no one deserved to die,” along with his name when he retired.
Thirty-four years on, he liked to think that he had made—like the others Christopher Chances before him—a difference. But how long could he continue to do this job? He needed to find himself a replacement, but where and who?
Just then his thoughts were interrupted as the young secretary came out of the office. “Mr. Pucci will see you now, sir.” She led him in, closing the door behind him as he entered.
Chance looked around the office critically, almost bored by its ostentations; if this client thought he was going to be impressed, he would be sadly mistaken. The man might be richer than Solomon but he was still a man with a problem, and rich or poor, that was where he came in.
The client was at least straight to the point, “As my associate told you, there has been an attempt on my life; I have reason to believe that they will not stop until I am killed, so it is only a matter of time before they are successful.
"I accept threats like this; it is the price for doing business in some of the places that my Foundation works. But they could target my future wife. I need them stopped,” Marshal Pucci said.
Chance had taken away the CCTV footage and the reports on the attempted assassination bid and that night has sat down with Martha May Travis, an old friend and expert with a computer, and she had processed the raw footage from the CCTV cameras.
Both of them were leaning over the monitor when suddenly Chance said “Stop,” and pointed to a blurred figure. “Can you enlarge that?”
Martha nodded, working on the section trying to increase the resolution; it was still grainy, but Chance could see the man clearly enough to recognize him, and swore under his breath.
“What’s wrong?” Martha asked, concerned.
Chance tapped the screen. “That, Martha, is Junior, Old Man Joubert’s right hand man, and the one that he’s grooming to take over when he retires. The kid is good, but he’s kinda wild from what I’ve heard.”
“Surely that makes it easier, Chris,” Martha said.
“You would think so; this is the guy that dropped onto the top of a 60-floor office block by parachute, and then abseiled down, fired through the window, and killed his target.” He paused. “The problem is that his wild plans tend to work, and because he’s unpredictable, he’s successful.” Chance played the tape further; the second assassin he quickly identified as Ben Taylor. “Junior and Taylor make a good team, Martha. Luckily it wasn’t his usual partner, because he was one cold-blooded bastard and he wouldn’t have made the mistake that Taylor did, which allowed Pucci to get away.”
The telephone rang and Martha watched Chance as he answered it; his face became grim. “Well?”
Chance turned to her. “The problem had just gotten worse. Nelson said that he heard Guerrero’s in the city.” Seeing the puzzled look, Chance sank down in the seat opposite her; he had always tried to limit her connection with his business, preferring her to work in isolation for her own safety.
“Who’s Guerrero?”Martha asked. Seeing his look, she added, “I am not an idiot, Chris; from the way you say his name he has to be bad news.”
“I’ve beaten Taylor before but now he’s been pulled off the job, and Guerrero’s back; he’s the one that took one of my clients out right in front of me.”
“Luke Green.” Martha could remember Chance hitting the bottle over that one.
“Yeah, a long shot from a hotel two blocks away. He tortured the security protocol from one of the security co-coordinators, and….” Chance trailed off; he still had nightmares about that one.
Of the two assassins Junior and Guerrero it was Guerrero that had him worried; the man was a frigging enigma: there was no picture of him, just a name, and a rough description that he was small—only around five-foot six—and dressed casually. Not much to go on, but what concerned Chance was the rumor that Guerrero was a sociopath, and that made him more dangerous: when he focused on a target he never let go.
One week later, and the mission, Chance decided, was going south in a frigging hand basket. The hotel complex that the Foundation was using had more exits than a sieve had holes, and had that in common with Pucci’s security; if an unaccredited journalist could get close to Pucci, armed with nothing more lethal than a pencil, then he was a dead man walking if Junior or Guerrero got close to him.
The only way he was going to save his client was to pull a Hail Mary play; any part of it could fail and leave his client exposed, but it was the only way. He had spotted Junior first. There was no mistaking the blond, good-looking and well-built; he had charm, and seeing him work was an education. He moved among the delegates at the Pucci Eco-Conference easily. He was blending in, and passed himself off as middle management without stretching the imagination. Chance could see how Pucci’s security had missed him; he could have had Pucci’s security try to pick him up but he needed to play this out. Because until he knew where Guerrero was, he couldn’t guarantee Pucci’s safety by just removing Junior from the picture. Also, if they moved in on Junior, it could herald the start of a bloodbath if the assassin started to shoot his way clear, and for Chance there was no such thing as collateral damage.
Chance started putting his plan into action—try to draw the assassins away from population—so with the help of James Gill and Paul Allen, old friends of his, he managed to work a car version of Three-Card Monty, drawing Junior and Guerrero away from his client, to a place where he could turn the tables on them.
Parting from his client went against every fiber of Chance's being, his very creed: he liked to keep them close, but against these two he needed freedom of movement. Also, for the one of the first times ever, he wasn’t sure that he could win.
He decoyed the assassins to an old disused hotel that was under restoration.
First he got his decoys clear, sure that Junior wouldn’t pursue them; they would go after him: they would want answers and if he got this wrong he would find himself at the mercy of Guerrero. So that was how he found himself taking part in a lethal game of tag with the two assassins through the old hotel, drawing them towards that area he had booby-trapped. It was times like this that Chance was beginning to feel all of his 62 years: his heart was pounding and his breath was coming in painful gasps, but he had to keep going to lure them to where he wanted them in his kill zone.
The assassins were good, maybe too good; they were leapfrogging each other’s positions. A couple of times it was close, and he had had to rely on his knowledge of the hotel layout to keep him one step ahead; he doubled back through a service passageway to lead them right into his traps. It was just a matter of which one got caught in it.
Guerrero was the one that got hit; it didn’t take him head on: if it had, he would have been dead before he hit the floor, but he caught a bullet in the chest. His momentum carried him forward, one hand clawed the air, and then he was down, his gun sliding across the floor as he landed hard; he tried to reach for it, but the pain in his chest made him curl up on himself.
Junior immediately began to put down covering fire to get to him but Chance opened up and drove him back; now that he had Guerrero down he had to keep him down. But when he looked back at him, Guerrero had managed to drag himself behind one of the rolls of carpet that had been left in the middle of the room for laying. It barely gave the man any cover, and the bloodstain on the floor showed he had been hit hard.
Chance heard Junior yelling to his partner, trying to find out how badly he was hit. “Damn it to hell,” Junior swore under his breath; he knew that his partner was in serious trouble. “I'm coming to get you; hang on,” he told him.
Guerrero’s reply was typical of his partner, “Get …. the fuck …. out of here.” Guerrero's breathing was ragged, and Junior knew that he wasn’t going to make it without help.
Junior was all too aware he could walk away from this, but there was no way he could or would leave Guerrero behind.
“Chance,” Junior called out.
“What do you want?” the older man yelled back.
“I'm coming out.” Junior took a deep breath and stepped out from his cover, his gun hanging off his finger by the trigger guard, and he moved forward.
“Put the gun down,” Chance ordered from cover; he wasn’t stupid enough to step out himself yet. “Kick his gun over here, and drag him out.”
Junior did exactly as he was told; all that was important to him was getting to Guerrero. “Hang on, bro.” He lifted the roll and dragged that away, rather than risk moving his friend. Ignoring Chance, Junior knelt down quickly, then ripped open his partner’s shirt to check on the chest wound; there was blood bubbling at the wound when Guerrero exhaled, and there was that sucking sound when he breathed in.
Junior did the only thing he could: he pressed his hand over the wound, and looked up at Chance as the old man slowly and carefully emerged from his cover, waiting for the bullets that would end their lives; they never came.
“Okay, Junior.” Chance gave him a thin smile, “Don’t look surprised; I know who you, and who the freak is.” He could hear the sound of police sirens, Pucci’s men were right on time with the backup. “You tell me who hired you or I will kill you; two assassins, the police aren’t going to be too put out by your deaths.”
Junior just looked at him. Chance was just about to speak again when Guerrero began to struggle to breathe, his blood-stained hand reaching out, clutching at Junior's wrist. Junior swore and quickly took his hand from the wound; it was a sucking chest wound, and by covering the wound he had allowed Guerrero to breathe more easily, but it had allowed the air to get trapped in Guerrero’s chest solving one problem, creating another.
Chance could see the emotions flitter across Junior's face, and it surprised him; there was, he saw, very real concern for Guerrero. He knew that they worked together; it had never dawned on him that they could be friends, that anyone would want to be friends with Guerrero. But Junior had risked his life and his freedom to help him. That didn’t make sense; he had never known assassins to do that before.
“That wound—he still stands a chance to live, if you get him to a doctor soon.” Chance saw the look that Junior gave him; he was weighing up the odds. “But I need a reason to let you walk. Who hired you, Junior? Favor for favor.”
“The Old Man didn’t say who the contractor was, but it’s someone close to Pucci.”
“Who?” Chance demanded, as Guerrero struggled for breath.
“I don’t know,” Junior yelled back at him, his attention fixed only on his partner.
Chance swore; he was running out of options. His gaze fixed on the wounded man; he couldn’t let someone die and not try to help them, even if it was Guerrero.
Chance saw the plastic sheet that had been used to cover the furniture even as Junior tried to help Guerrero’s breathing ease again. The older man shook his head; he couldn’t believe he was going to do this. “I am going to cut us a square of that plastic sheet, then we're going to seal it over the wound with the masking tape, but leave one side free.” Chance worked quickly, thrust the plastic at Junior then tossed the masking tape to the younger man. Stepping back as Junior worked, he explained, “It works as flutter valve to allow the air to escape and so it doesn’t get trapped in his chest, but at the same time stops him breathing through the chest wound.” Junior finished quickly, then carefully sat back on his heels, ready to act if Guerrero started struggling again, but this time his partner was breathing easier.
Looking at Junior, Chance shook his head slowly; the younger man was an assassin, at the top of his game, but he wasn’t totally immoral—there was still something in him that could be redeemed. Junior wasn’t willing to let his friend die; a lot of assassins would never had surrendered their guns—they would have allowed their partner to die rather than risk arrest. Junior had risked death and arrest for an animal like Guerrero. If he had been anything but an assassin, Chance knew that he was looking at a man that could finally take the mantel of Christopher Chance from him.
“Get him out of here, Junior.” Chance lowered his gun. “Next time you and he won’t walk away.”
Junior looked at him carefully, as if weighing what he had said, and then lifted Guerrero up carefully; the man might be smaller, but he was heavier than he looked, by the effort that Junior put into it. At the door, Junior paused, not turning to look at him, just staring ahead. “Why?”
“Because no one deserves to die.” With those words ringing in his ears, Junior walked away. He had gone after Pucci twice and failed both times; he wouldn’t go after him again.
continued in The Ryan Exchange Part Two
you might also like to read The Bogeyman Part One which has Ryan Exchange part one as its base.