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.
Special thanks to Movieexpert1978 for your help, support and beta reading, any errors are mine.
Happy Christmas Movieexpert1978 this story is dedicated to you with thanks.
TEAM BUILDING: A CERTAIN TYPE OF HELL
Human Target (General Fiction)
Main Characters Winston, Guerrero, Chance, Ilsa.
Winston came out of the building, he had had another of his on-going argument with a food stealing sociopath of a former assassin and so was pleased to see the black El Dorado pulled out of the parking area that took up the ground floor of the warehouse, now perhaps he could get some work done.
The car went past him, and onto the next junction, the lights turned from red to green but as soon as Guerrero’s car passed the traffic light, all the other lights went green, and his car was t-functioned by another vehicle. The impact spun the El Do round, just as it was hit again.
Winston swore and began to run, he was no sprinter, but concern drove him on, his long legs eating up the distance. He was in time to see a van, pull up, the side door pulled open, and two men jumped out, they dragged an unconscious Guerrero from the wreck of the El Do, and throw him into the van and pull away in a squeal of tires. Doing the only thing he could he opened fire on the fleeing van, but the van was moving too fast.
Winston leaned forward, hands on his knees, trying to pull the air into his lungs, he was badly out of breath, he pulled the cell phone from his pocket and rang Chance, “Chance it’s Winston, someone just grabbed Guerrero.”
Who and why wasn’t an easy question to answer, as Winston said later to a pacing Chance, “Guerrero’s got an extensive history, and given the fact that he’s changes sides when it’s suited him, he must have pissed off a fair few people.”
Chance nodded, “But most of them don’t live to express it.”
“So, there’s few living people with the balls to take him on.”
“Your old boss.” Winston put in carefully, knowing it was a subject that Chance didn’t like to discuss.
Chance shook his head, “Our old boss, even he stepped round Guerrero real easy, this isn’t his play.”
“Mr. Guerrero is a commodity.” It was Ilsa that spoke she was stood in the doorway, when both men turned to her, she met their gazes levelly. “The person that kidnapped Mr. Guerrero might have revenge on their mind, but they also have to know that he has value to us. So we buy him back. Greed usually out weights revenge.”
Winston nodded “Whoever this is going to put the price high, and you’re….”
Ilsa met Chance and Winston’s gaze levelly, as she interrupted him “We do whatever needs doing, Mr. Guerrero might be infuriating, and …” She paused “unethical, selfish, and darn right rude at time. But he’s part of this team. So we make sure that those people know that if anything happens to Mr. Guerrero, we will hunt them down. And I will personally put a contract on their heads that even their own friends would kill them for.”
One thing was plain to Chance and Winston; Ilsa Pucci meant every word she said.
One month ago
Ilsa Pucci, sat at her desk looking at the memo in front of her, and shook her head slowly, this wasn’t going to be popular. Chance and his associates had become employees of the Marshal Pucci Foundation when she invested in their business. The plan had been that she would be a silent partner, but more and more she had found herself involved in their cases and twelve months on she wouldn’t have it any other way. But this memo, she shook her head, its contents was going to have to be broken to them gently.
Seeing Winston, she called him into her office, the ex-police officer was always the most reasonable of group, so she would start with him, “This just came in from the head office, I think you should read it.” She handed him the memo and walked over to look out of the window.
“You can’t be serious Ilsa.”
“The Foundation is, all the departments have to undergo this, it’s one week at the most and…”
“Ilsa can you seriously see Chance, hell Guerrero taking part in this fiasco.” He put the memo down on the desk, as he shook his head.
“They have to Winston, they have to be seen to conform, if they do this, I can “
“Play hard and fast,” Winston said, with a smile.
“As you said Mr. Winston, play hard and fast.” She returned the smile, “So I can leave it up to you to have the others sign up,” she bent over and scooped up her purse, “I will be back later, just leave the forms on my desk.” Before Winston could reply she was out of the office and walking towards the elevator.
Just then he heard it ding, “Nice dress boss.” The soft drawl of Guerrero came to him, that was just wasn’t what Winston needed, bearding that lion could wait, he would tackle Chance first, get him on board and Guerrero would follow. Who was he kidding, he would dig his feet in, just getting him to attend a staff meeting was a major achievement, and if he attended he wouldn’t read or sign anything and then usually left after ten minutes. But Chance stood a better chance, no pun intended, of getting the slender assassin on board as they had a past together.
Four days later
Chance couldn’t help but smile as he saw the way that Guerrero was looking at the parcel that was wrapped and left next to his laptop, the hit man looked at it as if it was a bomb that was going to explode.
“What’s it for.” Guerrero drawled.
“It’s a birthday present, you know, you open them.” Chance said, his grin telling the smaller man that he was enjoying every minute of it, “when you’re a free-lance you don’t get birthday presents and cake but when your staff,” Chance broke off. Knowing all too well that if looks could kill he would have be dead a heartbeat ago, even so he couldn’t help but give the pissed tiger another prod. “Come of Guerrero aren’t you going to open it.” By now Chance was gloating. Even the look that Guerrero shot him that could have peeled flesh, aimed at him by the one man that would do it, didn’t faze the blond former assassin, Chance just returned the look with a grin.
Guerrero opened the parcel, with all the care of a man defusing a bomb, instead of explosive, there was a t-shirt inside, now he wasn’t one to wear t-shirts, well not ones with logo’s on them, so he opened it up to see what was written on it.
The picture was of a very pissed off vulture, and stenciled under it was the words patience my ass, I’m going to kill something.
The tension in the room was now palatable, Guerrero perched on the edge of the desk, t-shirt in hand, was fixing Ames with a look that spoke violent retribution, this had her name stamped all over it.
Ames was seriously worried, she had started to laugh when she read the t-shirt but that laugh had died away when she had seen the look on his face. He didn’t look angry that was the worst of it, his expression was the one that scared her and the world shitless; there was a coldness in the eyes, a slight tilt of the head, as his attention had moved from Chance to her. It was the look that told her, he had a shovel in his trunk and they would never find the body.
Ames’s mouth when dry and she kept telling herself that he was her colleague, that he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, would he……. Her hand went up to make a cross over her heart, “Honest Guerrero I didn’t buy it, I wouldn’t buy that.” Ames pointed at the t-shirt, and swallowed hard.
Just then Ilsa came breezing in and her face lit up in a smile, “Happy birthday, I hope you like your present Mr. Guerrero, I thought it quite apt, and you will have ample opportunity to wear it on our team retreat.”
Guerrero came off the desk, and was right in her face, as he tried to come to terms with two concepts at once, one, that Ilsa had brought him a present and second there was a team retreat. “Our what,” he spat at her finally all but growling.
“Our team building retreat,” Ilsa looked at Chance then Winston, “You did tell Mr. Guerrero about it, Mr. Winston.”
“Hell No, but” Winston waved a hand with a strained smile, “continue Mrs. Pucci, you’re doing a really good job.”
“Oh.” She looked surprised, and then said “oh” as Guerrero leaned into her so close he was all but touching her.
His eyes seemed to bore straight into her “I don’t read, or sign the minutes of the meeting boss, so what makes you think that I am going to go on a team building retreat.”
Ilsa didn’t back down, she met his gaze levelly, it took all her will power not to look away, he might be her most notorious employee, but she was beginning to get a feel for his boundaries.
“I think that is something we should discuss, my office later, but first, I see a piece of Bavarian Chocolate cake calling my name.” Ilsa said as she lifted the large rectangular brief case she was holding in front of her and pushed it into his hands as she walked past him towards the sinfully rich chocolate cake, which Winston was getting out of the refrigerator. Ilsa could feel his eyes on her, and she looked over her shoulder at him and smiled. “Join me Mr. Guerrero?”
He looked down at the box in his hands, and cocked a head at her.
“You did want the new Excalibur snipers rifle,” Ilsa said, “my contact in England said that it was the cutting edge weapon in its field. He said it held the distance record of 1.2 miles.” She knew that handling him such a weapon should have scared her, but it didn’t not after their last mission.
“I didn’t think it was released yet?” he drawled.
“It’s the one of the first and he said to tell you it had been stripped, I believe that’s the term you use. Cake?”
Winston saw the look that Guerrero gave her as she turned back, and bend over the cake, under his breath he muttered “They don’t pay me enough for this.”
One week later
The Hanger, San Francisco International Airport
Looking round Winston did a mental roll call and they were one person short, no surprise there. Did Ilsa really think that Guerrero would come?
It was then he heard footfalls and turned round and in disbelief he saw Guerrero walking towards them, the smaller man had been dragging his feet about coming for the last week, since Ilsa had dropped her bombshell at his birthday party. So he hadn’t really thought that he would come. Guerrero might be an employee, but he still acted as he had when he was free-lance, taking side jobs that no one was keen to find out the details of, at the same time pocketing a retainer from Ilsa.
Turning to Ilsa, Winston said “How did you get him to agree?”
“Simple Mr. Winston. When Mr. Chance failed,” she gave the blond ex-assassin a frown, “I just appealed to Mr. Guerrero’s finer feelings.”
“He has them?” Winston couldn’t stop the disbelief from his voice, “well he keeps that well hidden?”
“She paid him.” Chance said with a grin as he came up.
“Paid him.” Winston shook his head, as he tutted.
“Well it worked.” Ilsa gave a sniffed.
Winston nodded, his gaze fixed on the bag that Guerrero was carrying, and “You don’t think that he’s got his personal arsenal in there do you?”Then add “Chance?” when he didn’t get a reply
“I got him down to two automatics and a skinning knife, he said he wasn’t going naked anywhere. Believe me I was lucky to get that.”
“He does realize this is a vacation Chance.” Winston said
“Yeah, well it is an Aunty Betty as far as he is concerned.”
“Aunt Betty?” Ilsa asked cursorily.
Winston opened his mouth to try and explained and gave a shudder, “Don’t ask, but last time we ran one of them I lost both my eyebrows and the will to live.”
Just then they were called to the plane.
Flying down in to the retreat, in one of the Pucci Foundation private jets, made for a relaxed journey. The plane had food and drink, entertainment, and comfortable seating, one of the plus sides of accepting Ilsa’s patronage was the fleet of jets and vehicles she had at her command.
Ames was plugged into the entertainment centre, Chance was reading the newspaper, and Guerrero was picking away at the food that the cabin attendant had prepared for them. One thing Winston had seen and noted was that Guerrero never drank anything that was handed to him, he always prepared his own drinks, he had even seen him take a glass from Ilsa raise it in a toast and then put if down untouched, before going off to get his own. Winston shook his head, crazy as a bag of squirrels that one, and gave a soft sigh of contentment and stretched out his long legs, and allowed himself to slide an extra inch down into the seat. This was the perk he liked the most of working for Ilsa, the private planes, a man his size appreciated the extra leg room it gave him. He closed his eyes, in the background he could hear Chance and Ilsa talking, and he allowed himself to drift off asleep.
Local Bus Station
Mrs. Grace Morrison a retired teacher was sat in the waiting room of a small bus station, with her husband George. They were both volunteers for the Marshal Pucci Foundation, and where looking forward to this team retreat, along with some of the other volunteers and their co-coordinators. It allowed her a chance to take part in her favorite occupation of people watching, or what he husband lovingly like to call snooping.
The small party that had just arrived, had peaked her interest from the moment that they had walked into the station, they looked so out of place. She found herself likening them to the children she had taught over the years.
First there was the dark haired woman with the cut glass English accent just like some of the actors off her favorite, BBC America programs, she was casually dressed, but her clothes screamed designer labels. Only the very chic could look that casual. She would be the kind in the class room that was polite, and intelligent, cool and aloof, just like little Maggie Franks. Who had been the first one from her class to go to Harvard on a full scholarship, and had become a lawyer.
The other woman was younger, all snapping gum and iPod, the kind of girl that she would have found difficult in the class room, she would always have a smart remark like Jo Ann Muller, keener on the boys, and the peer scene than her work, but who had potential if she had applied her. It was a pity that Jo Ann never got the chance, her boyfriend had driven her back from a kegger and had crashed the car while driving drunk. Such a tragedy, Grace gave a soft sigh, and as if sensing her thoughts her husband gave her hand a squeeze. She gave him a sad smile and then turned her attention to the other members of the group.
There were three men, the biggest of the three was effortlessly carrying his bag in one hand was in deep conversation with a blond man by his side. The big man was impressive, with his size and build, he looked like he could have been a linebacker, just like George Cartwright, the blond man, had the kind of build that told of time in the gym, but on the speedball not the weights, like Matt Philips. Both had been good boys, and gone on to make something of their lives in sport, George had played for the Chicago Bears, and Matt had made the Olympic team, good boys.
Her gaze lingered on the blond man, alright she was 68, not dead, and that meant that she could appreciate a good looking young man, even if she did like them a little sleeker, she turned to her husband and smiled, remembering when he was younger, had a full head of hair, and was a varsity swimmer, she looked back, and the blond man must have caught her look because he smiled back a boyish smile he would be a heart breaker.
Grace then turned her attention to the last man, he like the other two was casually dressed, he might be smaller, a good foot shorter than the linebacker, but there was power in that frame by the way he was carrying his bag, but at the same time there was something about him. George always said she had good instincts where people where concerned. It was as if, to use that old hippy word from the sixties, now what was it, vibes that was it she could feel the vibes that they gave off, and there was something about him that was wrong, and when their eyes met it sent a cold shudder down her spine.
In that split second it was as if she was thrown back in time, she had only had one student like him, oh she had had bad boys, but she had only had one like him. Now what was his name, he was a loner, smaller than the others in his year. But he wasn’t bullied, not after he broke the fingers of the first boy to try it. He was intelligent, with a kind of fractured brilliance, he was a hard worker, but had been suspended from school when he had dislocated a boy’s elbow for a hundred dollars, on the eve of the quarterback tryouts. What she remembered was taking him to the Principals office, and the complete lack of emotion he showed, they was no remorse nothing, he had just looked straight through them.
“I wonder who are those people?” She mused.
Waiting for the transport to the retreat, Winston checked on everyone; Chance was sat along from him against the wall reading the local newspaper, looking relaxed, and for some reason amused, he would have to ask him what the big joke was.
He turned to check on Guerrero, who was wandering off. Ilsa gave a frustrated huff and took off after him, only to herd him back, a few minutes later with Guerrero munching at a large beef sub.
Once she had Guerrero corralled, Ilsa, came over to take a seat next to Winston and Chance, but she still keeping a wary eye on Guerrero in case he took off again after more food, wishing that she had gone with her gut instinct and carried some extra snacks with her.
Watching him she couldn’t help but muse that of all of the team, Guerrero was the one that had taken the longest to get use too. At times he had honestly scared her, so she had looked for some redeeming qualities in him. She had soon found out that although he appeared to be totally amoral, which he was she conceded; he was loyal to Chance to a fault. His habit of eating anything that was in the refrigerator, regardless had been explained away by Chance that he had a fast metabolism, and that was the reason he was perpetually eating. She had made sure from then on that the refrigerator in the warehouse was well stocked, with more than just left over takeaway cartons and day old pizza. She was under no illusion show weakness and Guerrero would exploit it friend or foe it didn’t matter, it was a reflex action to him like breathing. He was everything that Winston and Chance had told her and more so.
In her mind she could remember one of their first real confrontations. He had brought a man into the office on a trolley with a bag over his head, and when she has asked if he had tortured the poor man, he had just said “not yet” as if was the most natural thing in the world. And just before the man had hit Guerrero knocking him through a glass panel, the way Guerrero had said that “he couldn’t allow her to call the police.” Had sent her cold that had been a threat, but before he could do anything or Winston could come to her aid, the man had escaped and all hell had been let loose as they had fought him.
The aftermath of the fight.
Ilsa picked her way through the wreckage of the office, Winston was securing their now unconscious prisoner, but he looked up, “Ilsa could you check on Guerrero,” when he had seen her look, he had added, “he went through that glass panel and smashed into the glass table.” She had understood he didn’t have to say more, as she saw the blood on the smashed glass, and tracked Guerrero down to Chances bathroom upstairs.
Even though his threat had hung between them earlier, it still hadn’t stopped her when she had walked in on Guerrero struggling to pull some shards of glass out of his back. He had looked up at her, and then ignored her as unimportant, and gone back to trying to remove the shards, he was in pain, and the position of them, made it hard to get hold of them, and with his blood slick fingers he was struggling with the tweezers. .
“Damn it man give me that.” Ilsa snapped taking charge, pushing his hand away firmly, and taking hold of his shoulders turned him into the light, as she examined the shards still imbedded in his flesh. She pushed him down to sit on the side of the bath, from the first aid kit she pulled out a handful of sterile cotton wool, dipped it into the warm water in the basin, and wiped away the blood, allowing her to see the wounds. There were multiple slivers of glass that had sliced through his shirt and into his skin, some had come out when he removed his shirt and they crunched under her feet, but others still remained imbedded in him and they would have to come out.
Taking the tweezers from his hand, she began to work, how long she worked on his back, she didn’t know, she worked slowly and methodically making sure that each wound was clean and free of any glass, before using antibiotic cream on it and moving onto the next one. She could feel the warmth of his skin against her hand, the faint tremor as he suppressed the pain, as she worked on him so he was human after all.
Ilsa paused to let him take a breather before she tackled two particularly large and deep pieces, and without even thinking about it rested her hand at the base of his neck and lightly rubbed, giving reassurance through her touch. Pleased to feel Guerrero’s body relax under her hand, as he leaned further forward, as he steadied himself, only when he was ready did she continue removing the glass, until finally it was finished, and she had dressed the worse of the wounds. Patted his good shoulder, she was just walking out of the door when he said, “Thanks boss.”
She paused, “Any time Mr. Guerrero.” She gave him a smile and then walked out of the bathroom, only when the door was closed, did she looked down at the blood on her fingers, and clenched her fists to tops them shaking. Pulling herself up to her full height, she went back into the office to help Winston clean up, and check up on him as he had taken some hard hits as well.
The bus pulled up at the retreat, the cabins and the main building was set among oak trees, and on the edge of a fresh water lake. She could almost feel the tension of the last few months fade away as she climbed off the bus and breathed in the fresh mountain air.
The councilors stood in front of them, flanking Mel Ryan as he began to explain about the challenges the teams would be facing in the next week, stressing the they would promote team and person growth.
Vicky Martin, who looked like a living breathing Sindy doll came over to Ilsa with her clipboard, “Miss Ilsa Taylor.”
Ilsa smiled she had decided to go under her maiden name, “Yes.”
“I have your cabin numbers, you’re to be sharing with Miss Ames. Mr. Winston, you’re to be sharing with Mr. Guerrero, and Mr. Chance you have the single room.”
When she was out of ear shot Winston turned on Chance.
“No….way, no frigging way, am I sharing with him.” He jerked a thumb at Guerrero.
“He’s not going to do anything.” Chance put in.
“Like hell, I woke up that time and he was sat on the end of my bed like an evil gargoyle, holding a skinning knife in his hand, and he….” Winston took a deep breath, and turned on a sniggering Guerrero.
Pointing a finger at him “I know a lot more about your depraved ass than you think, and you think that I am going to want to share a room with you. I know all about Houston and God forbid New York, and the……” Winston trailed off in mid-sentence..”
Guerrero just shook his head, “Dude chill out this is seriously not cool,” he hefted his bag and plucked the key from Ilsa’s hand and headed towards one of the cabins.
Chance turned on Winston, “See you hurt his feeling.”
Winston spluttered “HURT HIS FEELINGS. You couldn’t hurt his feelings with a sawn off shotgun.”
Chance tossed Winston his key, and then scooped up his own bag and followed Guerrero, it looked like they were bunking together again, and they had done it enough times in the past. He was use to sharing with Guerrero, since most of the Old Man’s assassins wouldn’t even ride in the same car as Guerrero unless they were on a job, it went without saying that they refused to share a room with him. Totally unfair, Chance mused as he caught up with his oldest friend, Guerrero pins one man’s ears to the pillow with his knives because he’s snoring and no one wants to share with him again. No sense of humor some people.
Grace and George sat at the table containing the other volunteers, and enjoyed a rustic dinner at the blue table she noticed the people from the bus station had taken the other red table. This was going to be an interesting week. Just then Ryan came in.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, for the next week we are going to test your limits, you are going to see who with team work, you can attain the impossible.” But first I want you to introduce yourselves to the group, and share your life experiences with them.”
He paused and looked towards what he know thought of as the red group, “Perhaps the red group will start?”
There was a long silence, Ilsa looked round her table, and there was no help there, “Of course. My name is Ilsa Taylor and I am the manager of the team. My colleagues, Mr. Winston, Mr. Chance, Mr. Guerrero and Miss Ames are all involved in human resources.”
Ryan smiled “Pleased to meet you all, while where here we usually use first names. So Mr. Guerrero,” he picked on the smallest man in the group. “So yours is…” Ryan suddenly had the coldest blues eyes turned on him, and he found himself flustering, and he was forced to break eye contact with him.
“Guerrero.” The smaller mans’ tone making it clear it was all Ryan was going to get.
Ilsa quickly jumped back in, “Our section uses surnames only, it makes us unique among the sections and it’s our bonding tool.” The Englishwoman saw the way that Ryan accepted it, she had read enough team building books over the years to know the buzz words that people like Ryan lived by, bonding tool was one of them.
“Oh of course, it’s actually refreshing to see a manager that is proactive about using bonding tools.” Ilsa aimed a kick under that table at Guerrero who was barely holding back his laugh, only to have Chance, give a grunt of pain. Which caused a wicked snicker from Guerrero and a hurried apology from Ilsa. For Ilsa the rest of the evening was at least stress free, she couldn’t fault Winston, Ames, they mixed well, Chance was charming as always, and Guerrero was well Guerrero.
Over the next couple of days both teams were involved in white water rafting, who knew that Mr. Guerrero couldn’t swim, and abseiling that she could get over her fear of heights with the right help. Ilsa mused all in all it had been a very successful retreat, everyone was behaving themselves and not drawing too much attention to themselves, even if Miss Ames was partying each night with the younger volunteers, much to Mel Ryan’s annoyance.
It was late afternoon, and they only had another two days before they left, and she found herself walking back to her cabin with Mr. Guerrero, he walked her right up to the door, she was in mid-sentence opening the door, when there was a dry click. Suddenly she was violently pulled back and swung round, Guerrero’s arms wrapped round her, as he turned his back on the door, the next second there was the sound of a gun discharging, and red splattered round her. She couldn’t help a cry of fear, and then she was clinging onto Guerrero for dear life, as she felt him stumble against her and her hand came away red.
Paint it was paint, thank god, and not blood, not his blood, was all that was running through Ilsa’s mind, at that moment they heard the laughter coming from the other cabins, and the blue team stood there, clapping and cheering.
The look on Guerrero’s face made the breath catch in her throat; there was a cold fury in his eyes, as he started to turn towards them. “It was a joke, a stupid joke.” She spoke quickly, as she somehow managed to push and tug him into the cabin. This was going to end badly if she wasn’t careful; she added “They didn’t mean any harm Mr. Guerrero. I am sure that I can get the paint out of your.” It was a far as she got.
His hand went behind his back and he pulled an automatic out, the hammer already pulled back, and he started towards the door. She flashed back to the last time he had done that, it was when the Eldo had been damaged by Ames. He, like then was royally pissed, Ames she later learned had been lucky.
Ilsa said “If it’s the shirt, I’ll buy…..”
Guerrero turned on her, “It’s not the fucking shirt dude, it’s the principal.” She could see the barely suppressed anger. It was then Ilsa did something that few people dared to do, she caught his arm to stop him leaving, and for a long minute they stayed like that. Until finally he let out a harsh sigh, and lowered his gun, as he swore under his breath.
Ames returning from the lake came into the cabin fast after seeing all the red paint on the porch and opened her mouth to call out. It was then she saw the door to the bathroom was open, and a half naked Guerrero was stood in the doorway, rubbing at his hair with a towel, talking to Ilsa. He stepped back to allow Ilsa to come past him, as she said “Just as I thought the paint is water based, it washed out.”
“Boss.” He took the shirt and wife beater off her and then with a nod to Ames walked out, with the towel draped over his shoulders.
“Close your mouth Miss Ames or your catch flies.” Ilsa said lightly as she followed Guerrero out, she had to speak to Winston and Chance about this, because Guerrero could be unpredictable at times and she didn’t buy his sudden acceptance of the situation. She knew only a little of his reputation, but enough to know, he didn’t get it because he allowed anyone to mess with him. .
Just then she saw Grace Come rushing up to her, the older woman was fast becoming a friend, they had enjoyed so nice talks together, “Are you all right my dear?”
“No damage done, it all washed out.
“Your Mr. Guerrero looked like a thunderstorm just now;” she leaned in closer, “My George would have been the same if someone had done that to me.”
“My….. Mr. Guerrero.” Ilsa shook her head “your mistaken he’s rather keen on his clothes, and.”
“Clothes pish girlie, still waters run deep, with that one, remember that.”
Winston heard about what had happened from George, he got the feeling the older man wasn’t happy about it, and he whole heartily agreed once he heard who had been involved in the incident, and went off in search of Chance.
He found Chance in the Hub, the community center, chatting up Linda one of the younger volunteers, so Winston caught his arm and pulled him way, quickly he filled him in on that had happened. “Ryan put the blue team up to it, to get some competitive spirit going for tomorrow.”
Chance frowned, “The paintballing. I’ll speak to Guerrero about it, but whatever way you cut it, he’s going to be pissed.”
“Humiliation is good for the soul or so they say.” Winston said trying to hide his concern.
Chance leaned into him, keeping his voice low, “Yeah but they didn’t know Guerrero, the last person to try anything like that with him only had his fingers broken, and that was because he was a friend,” Winston got the message Chance didn’t have to finish the sentence, he watched as the blond headed off to find his old friend, leaving a thoughtful Winston.
He called after him, “Just make sure he knows it’s only a game tomorrow okay.”
“He knows,” Chance called back over his shoulder.
“Yeah right.” Winston drawled.
Just as was expected over dinner that night Ryan announced that they would be having a paintball war tomorrow, he went on to explain the rules the concept of team work that would be needed in order to capture the other team’s flag. Then he called them up to examine the weapons they would be using. He and his team professionally went through them with each team member, and even allow everyone to try them out.
Ilsa had taken a few lesions from Chance after she was attacked in her apartment, but she still didn’t like the idea of pointing them at someone and pulling the trigger even in fun. Luckily with Grace having to sit the game out because of her arthritis, Ilsa was able to join her to keep the team numbers the same.
So that was how she found herself sitting in the hub as Ryan explained to her and Grace that each team member would have a camera system on their helmet so that way they wouldn’t be left out of the action and they would be able to follow the individual players. Ryan added they would also be taping the feed, to be used later to analyze the team’s performance in the final seminar of the retreat.
In theory the idea of the game was to protect your own flag while capturing the other teams flag, the problem was that Guerrero wasn’t out to capture any flag, he was out to take the other team down. His was the first camera to go out, closely followed by Chance and Winston, and Ames. It was then that the red team began to die in a hail of blue paint.
On one of the monitors Larry, one of the instigators of the paint trap, was threading his way through the trees, it was then he heard a noise behind him and turned fast, the next second his feet was swept out from under him. Sprawled onto his back, he was looking up at one of the blue team.
Ilsa leaned forward, she was sure it was Guerrero, taking by his build.
Grace tapped her arm and pointed to another monitor, Josh was coming up on Guerrero, without seeming to turn his head Guerrero changed his aim and fired twice, Josh grunted as the paintball hit his chest and then his facemask, the blue paint splatter, smearing the camera. On Larry’s monitor they saw Guerrero’s hand snap back and he fired twice again and then was gone. “Son of a bitch,” Larry could be heard over the link, as he started to get slowly to his feet, frantically wiping at the paint off his visor.
Mel shook his head in disbelief, “He double tapped them both, who the hell double taps people in a paintball war.”
It was Grace that answered “It appears Mr. Guerrero does,” she quirked a smile at Ilsa, raising an eyebrow, “human recourses didn’t you say dear.”
“Yes.” Ilsa matched the smile “he’s a real wizard with a pencil and he’s got a unique interviewing style,” then laughed.
Ilsa knew it was a game but even so she was pleased to see that all her team, no her friends had come back safe and sound, with Ames waving the red flag at her, grinning broadly. Chance was chatting with Winston, and Guerrero was walking a stride behind them and just gave her the slightest of nods as he saw her and a ghost of a smile.
The paint balling was the last event, and since it was the last evening of the retreat, there was a party.
Larry Jones exchanged a look with his buddy Josh, and made his way to were Ilsa Taylor was sat at the bar, he had enjoyed a fling with Ames, she hadn’t let him get past first base, but it had been fun trying. Now it was the ice maidens turn, his last few attempts she had repulsed, politely, but he was damn sure that this time he would get her.
She was sat at the small bar next to her team mate Guerrero, instead of going round he pushed past Guerrero to insert himself close to her, propping himself up on the bar with one hand he used the other to lightly touch her arm.
Winston broke off his conversation with George as he noticed that Chance put his glass down and start to move quickly towards the bar, all the time his eyes where fixed on Guerrero.
Guerrero put his club soda down, and then covered Larry’s hand where it rested on the bar with his own and squeezed, and suddenly Larry screamed in agony, jerking his hand back, and clutching it to his chest with his other hand.
Winston moved fast catching hold of Larry and manhandling him away from the bar as he spoke over Larry’s cries of pain, telling everyone it was okay just a small accident and he would take care of it.
Ilsa was glaring at Guerrero, “You broke that man’s fingers,” she accused.
“Broken I heard.”
“Trust me, I know what broken sounds like, and that was dislocated.”
“Mister.” That was as far as Ilsa got, as he favored her with that particular look he gave her over the top of his glasses, it was the one that Ilsa termed the I am a professional look. She gave a huff, “I am going to apologies to Larry, about this accident,” she gave a shake of the head and hurried after Winston.
“What?” Guerrero asked as he saw Chance stood by him. Chance didn’t say anything he just patted his old friend on the shoulder and took a seat next to him. The man had gotten off lightly considering the damage Guerrero could have done to him. But life had just gotten a lot more interesting.
The party continued slowly at first, but gradually picking up again, and Ames was enjoying herself, she dropped into a chair by the side of Winston, and nudged him in the ribs with her elbow.
She pointed to the small dance floor, where Grace and George where slow dancing along with some of the younger couples. “Look see, that’s all they needed.” Winston turned to see Chance lead Ilsa onto the dance floor, as Dolly Parton “I will always love you” came on.
“So,” Winston said taking a drink.
“So, Mister Cop, I always knew that Chance had the hots for Ilsa and…” just then she stopped in mid-sentence, Winston was grinning broadly, as Chance handed Ilsa over to Guerrero, for the rest of the dance.
“You where saying Ames.”
“I don’t fricking believe it.” Ames said, Winston raised his glass to Chance, and his smile matched that of the blond ex assassin.
“Yeah I know, I didn’t realize that he could dance either.” Winston said putting his glass down, and reaching a hand out to Ames, and with a laugh she took it and allowed him to lead her onto the dance floor. For a big man Winston was light on his feet, half way through the dance Chance cut in and twirled Ames away.
Grace watched them, “More than a team that’s a family.” She said to her husband, then gave a gentle smile she wondered how many of them had recognized the Englishwoman as Ilsa Pucci. Not many, since Mrs. Pucci didn’t crave the publicity like some, letting her actions speak for her. It had been nice to meet the lady behind the Foundation.
The next day as they got off the bus at the station, Grace was waiting for her bags when she turned to see Mr. Guerrero stood there, for a long minute he didn’t say anything to her, then she saw the slight twitch of his lips in a smile that she suddenly remembered it was as if the years dropped away, and she saw the boy instead of the man stood there.
Her face must have shown something because he said. “Mrs. Morrison, it’s been awhile, I wondered if you would remember.” Then with a nod he was gone, leaving her to watch his retreating back. One thing was certain Guerrero wasn’t his name then, and if he was in human resources she would eat her hat, but at least he had found something he had lacked in school and that was friends and family.
Ilsa’s limo pulled into the deserted aircraft hanger, one car and one van were already parked in the centre, Ames brought the car to a halt, she got out, and opened the limo’s door, at the same time as Winston got out of the passenger side, of the car and came round, to stand guard. Chance was the first out of the car, like the other two he was dressed all in black, the preferred uniform of the Pucci Private Security detail, only then did Ilsa get out.
She was dressed in a white designer dress and black flowing jacket; she looked every inch a woman of power and wealth. Ilsa’s Jimmy Choo high heels clicked on the concrete as she walked to the table set half way between the vehicles; Chance flanked her on one side holding a brief case with Winston on the other.
The man that met her had his very own obvious protection with two muscle bound bodyguards on each side of him. Mr. Joe Gordon said getting down to business straight away “Mrs. Pucci, I take it you have brought the money we discussed and in return we will give you Mr. Guerrero. I can’t say that he is pristine condition, but nothing that won’t heal given time.”
He waved his hand and two more of his men dragged Guerrero from the van, he landed heavily on the ground, with his hands cuffed he had no way to break the fall and he was dragged upright, with a blow across the back of his head to get him walk. Guerrero had taken a beating that was clear, he was stripped down to this torn and blood wife beater, jeans and was bare footed. Blood matted his hair and the side of his face, and smeared his mouth and nose. Burns red and raw could be seen on his arms and shoulders, and he was limping.
Gordon’s voice showed his disgust, “Mrs. Pucci, I have long admired your work, I find it hard to believe that you would soil your hands with this animal this freak.”
Ilsa ignored the question, “Mr. Chance put the briefcase onto the table, Mr. Gordon.” Ilsa said and waved a manicured hand at it. “Your quarter of a million dollars as demanded.”
Joe nodded to one of his bodyguards, the man came forward and checked the case, opening it to see stacks of notes, and he quickly counted through the bundles “The money is all there.”
“Release him.” Joe ordered.
Ilsa waited as he was uncuffed, “Mr. Guerrero, your Aunt Bea has been concerned about you.” She said.
“Aunt Bea?” He queried.
“Yes.” Ilsa said levelly, watching as the smaller man gave her a look and a slightly cock of the head that she had begun to know so well.
Ilsa turned back to Joe Gordon, her cut glass British accent was cold and imperial, “To answer your question, Mr. Gordon, the foundation has to resort to all means of persuasion; Mr. Guerrero had talents that I can appreciate. On a professional and personal level,” as she said that her voice changed to a sexy purr.
As she spoke Guerrero had closed the distance between them. “Aunt Bea,” he said softly, his lips quirked and he caught hold of Ilsa, one hand went round her waist under her jacket, his other hand cupped the back of her head, as he pulled her against him and he kissed her.
Joe Gordon stood there shocked and disgusted, at what he was seeing, that genteel woman with that freak of nature, impossible. It was all the time that they needed, Guerrero turned fast away from her, his hand coming from under her jacket with a gun, with his other hand pushing her behind him. He fired fast and accurately, cutting down two of Gordon’s bodyguards. Even as Chance and Winston took out the other men, soon only Joe was left standing. He was looking around him as if he couldn’t believe what was happening.
Joe began to threaten, “I’ll see you in your grave, you and that bitch,” he spat the last word at Ilsa, “I’ll…..”
“Dude you should never have made it personal.” Guerrero said cutting across him, there was the crack of a gun and Joe crumpled to the ground, a round hole into between his eyes. Guerrero, lowered the gun, and turned to Ilsa and favored her with a half-smile. “A quarter of a million boss.”
“So it would seem Mr. Guerrero.”Turning she strode to the limo, taking a seat inside. Giving a shake of the head he limped after her, with Chance matching him stride for stride, “Good to have you back.” the blond said.
“Good to be back,” Guerrero paused “thanks bro.”
Ilsa leaned out of the car “Mr. Guerrero, I am waiting?”
He gave a shrug and climbed into the car.
During the drive Ilsa decided that Mr. Guerrero was an enigma; it wasn’t easy working with him he had a whole different set of ethical values, but it hadn’t stopped her from leaving Amnesty International leaflets around the office, in a less than subtle hint, to him to stop some of his extracurricular work. It was just the price of working with him.
“Where are we going boss,” he asked as he carefully leaned back against the cool leather seat, and trying to disguise the pain that the movement caused him.
“1895 River Drive, it’s a private medical facility.”
Guerrero sat up straight and turned on her, “No fucking way, Dude I...”
But Ilsa was ready for him, “NO Mr. GUERRERO, YOU ARE GOING TO GET CHECKED OUT, END OF ARGUEMENT.” Ilsa met him glare for glare. Her concern and worry for her most notorious employee was like a pressure cooker, something had to give and now she had him back relatively safe, she could let go. “When I said I was taking you to a medical facility that was what I meant, a doctor, not some failed quack with a degree from some third rate university. A doctor. So plant you arse in that seat until I tell you differently.” She gave a huff of annoyance and turned to look out of the window of the limo.
Trying to ignore Guerrero, she glanced across at Chance, “You have something to add Mr. Chance?” The blond threw up a hand in surrender, he knew when to keep out of it, she gave another huh and turned back to the window, muttering something he thought he heard as “men.”
Chance took a bottle of water out from the cabinet, and unscrewed it and handed it across. “Food would be better,” Guerrero said, but accepted it all the same. “Haven’t eaten in three days.”
However annoyed Ilsa was she immediately called out to Winston, “Have Miss Ames pull over and...”
“It can wait boss.” Guerrero sank back in his seat with a soft sign, and took a drink from the bottle, and allowed the pain to wash over him, closing his eyes with a shudder, he knew that Chance was close by, so he could give himself over to the exhaustion that wracked his body. Not that he would tell her, but perhaps her doctor wasn’t a bad idea. The last thing he remembered was the bottle being taken gently from his hand, and then something soft and warm being laid over him before sleep finally claimed him. Sometimes having a family wasn’t all bad.