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.
The Winston Contract
Human Target (General Fiction)
Main Characters Winston, Guerrero, Chance.
Set during the early days of the Chance and Winston partnership.
When Winston left work early to get the drink he so desperately needed to get himself through the rest of the day, he had no way of knowing that events had been put in motion that would change his whole life.
They had arrived in the shape of a pain in the ass ADA. The man was different than the other lawyers he had met, he actually had a sense of humor, and when he had heard that his first name Laverne, the ADA had just said straight-faced “call me Connie.”
Yeah, he could actually get to like that guy. It was only later that he found out that the same man was a hell of a lot more dangerous than a suited pencil pusher of a lawyer. The way he had taken the protection team out, told its own story, a story that screamed a professional.
So it was that man that was to become the catalyst of what was going to happen next in the Katherine Walters case and indirectly, the man that was going to change his life.
The Katherine Walters case was the last one he worked on, he lost her to an assassin’s bomb. But he gained a new purpose in this life, when he had walked into a rundown warehouse building and had looked into the eyes of man that he knew was an assassin, and had suggested that they work together. Their aim to make sure that another innocent wouldn’t die because there wasn’t anyone they could turn too.
It was only then he had asked the blond his name, there was a silence, and finally he gave his name as Christopher Chance. It was an alias, Winston knew that, but why that name he never asked, it didn’t really matter; after all it wasn’t a name he had to trust it was the man behind it. The man that was now his partner.
It hadn’t been easy to start with because he was still too law and order, and liked a well laid out plan, while Chance had a certain moral flexibility, and liked to wing it. It was a recipe for disaster, but somehow it worked.
On those early cases he had been sure that Chance had a death wish, so he had made a deal with him, if the blond was still alive in six months’ time, he would start to trust his judgment. A bemused Chance had shaken hands on the deal, and now eight months later they were still working together and Chance was still alive.
Trust didn’t come easily with Chance, given his previous profession, but Winston found that his own experience of working with a partner set him in good stead for helping Chance. Gradually the two of them formed a partnership built on the trust, and mutual respect.
Slowly their business began to grow as clients passed on their names by word of mouth, after all anyone could put an advert in the paper; a good reputation based on personal recommendation was worth its weight in gold. They soon became known as the people to call when the police couldn’t help you, or the police wasn't an option. There method was simple; they would put you at risk, so that you could take back your life.
Chance had insisted that he wanted him to be the public face of the company and interact with the clients, take their details and do any preliminary work on the case, before he came in at the operational stage. So far it had worked well.
Six months later
It was early morning when Winston arrived at the warehouse that was their office as well as Chances home; he was carrying a pink donut box in one hand, his newspaper pushed into his pocket. It had become his habit to bring the bagels and donuts for them to share while they talked business.
It was therefore a surprise to Winston when he arrived to find a car parked out the front of the building, as he approached it he recognized the type of car, a Ford, not too old or too new, it blended in with all the other cars on the street. His expert eye told him it was an unmarked police car, and if to confirm it his old SFPD partner Mark Fuller got out of the car.
Mark was a big man, equal to Winston in height, even this early his clear shaven head was spotted with sweat, and it looked like he had lost a lot of weight over the last few months. Winston couldn’t help but smile as he saw the way Mark’s suit jacket was spotted with cigarette ash, his tie had a smear of ketchup on it, the man was one hell of a cop but a real slob. He only had another couple of months before he put in his twenty, and moved to that fishing boat in the sunshine state, that he had bragged about.
Fuller grinned at the box, “Once a cop always a cop,” he drawled and thrust a hand out the size of a small ham for Winston to shake, his smile of welcome faded, “we need to talk Winston; the shit’s hit the fan old friend.” The cop didn’t say another word until he had was seated at Winston’s desk in his office, and was inhaling a cup of coffee.
“So what’s wrong?”
“Remember Lt Ray Bowman, well IA are finally made a move on him, and there looking at all his old cases, and word is that they are going to approach you about giving testament against him on the Howard case.”
Winston frowned “The Howard case,” he sounded thoughtful, “that was the first case the I managed to follow a money trail back to Bowman, only I couldn’t make it stick, because the other evidence was too weak to get a conviction,” he gave Mark a gratefully look, “after that you were the only one on the force that would partner me. Most of them saw me as a traitor for going to IA.” Winston paused “you never did Mark, and I owe you for that.”
Mark nodded “You’re a good man Winston and where one hell of a cop, you didn’t deserve it, the problem is that most of them see Bowman as a decorated cop, they don’t know or want to know what he is.” He took a breath, “Well it looks like they’re going to see the truth, if you take the stand, they need your evidence to place him at the scene, and it ties into the motive for the Howard killing, and a cop of your standing makes a good witness when it goes to court.” He shrugged “You know what Joe Q Public is like, forensic accounting goes over their head, but a decorated cop, is something they can relate too. You’re being putting the human face to the investigation.”
Winston was thoughtful “I still have copies of files,” Mark wasn’t surprised all the good cops had files at home which where hobby cases, ones that had gotten away from them, the ones that as people and cops they couldn’t let go. A hobby file was something you worked on in your own time, it might be illegal to have the files, but most Captains’ turned a blind eye.
“So who’s leading up the investigation?” Winston asked that answer could make all the difference.
“Lt Al Bowyer.”
“A good man.” Winston said nodding his head thoughtfully, he had known Bowyer for quite a few years and if there was a man on the force he could trust it would be Bowyer and his ex-partner.
“Yeah well I thought I would give you a heads up, you should be hearing from Bowyer in the next couple of days, and you best also to watch your back, there are people out there that aren’t going to want to let this get to court.” He paused “Remember Bowman isn’t going to go down easy, and there’s word on the street that he has a cleaner coming into town. Bowman might have his team of enforcers but they’re going to keep their hands clean on this one.” He got up and drained his coffee “If I get a name on this cleaner, I’ll make sure you get it, but until then watch yourself Winston, I don’t have that many friends I can afford to lose one.”
Two days later
Winston came out of his apartment, it was early and dawn was breaking, as he started towards his car, and then halted and turned on his heels and headed towards the small corner shop, to collect his paper. He was just about to go in when the world shook as San Francisco experienced a light tremor.
Car alarms started to go off and as he turned to his car to switch his off, the moment he pressed the button there was a brilliant white light and then on the heel of it the roar of an explosion as the car was thrown upward and then crashed down. Then there was the smell of burning rubber, and the sound of shattering glass crashing down. Time seemed to stand still; Winston pulled himself back to the present as he heard the shop owner on the telephone calling 911. The cop in Winston kicked in and he grabbed the fire extinguisher from the shop owner and began to try and put the fire out, in the distance he could hear the sound of the fire engines heading towards them. He felt a cold chill go down his spine regardless of the heat from the fire, someone wanted him dead, if it hadn’t been for the tremor setting the bomb off, and he would have been caught in the explosion.
One hour later Winston was stood behind the crime scene tape with Mark Fuller. Fuller shook his head, “You had a lucky escape the tremor set it off like that.”
“Luck can only last for so long, the cleaner only had to get lucky once, and I have to stay luckily.” Winston paused, “Any information on the cleaner yet, because this bastard is getting close.”
“Not yet, whoever it is, the rats on the street are keeping quiet, no one wants to talk about this guy.”
Fuller broke off as other officers came up, Winston was all too aware how they ignored him as if he didn’t exist, it made him all too aware that he was no longer one of them, and he was reminded of the old retired cops when he had been on the job. They would go to the station as long as there as people there that remembered them, and shoot the breeze. He had seen the looks the younger cops gave them, one of pity, and it was the same look they gave him now. He had gone from cop to victim; angrily Winston strode off, knocking a smaller man with Bomb Squad written on his jacket and cap, out of his way as he stalked off.
Chance had been up early and had been working the speed ball hard, he heard the elevator, so he peeled off his gloves and picked up a towel and threw it round his neck as he used one end to blot the sweat that was running down his face.
He came down the stairs with Carmine padding behind him, greeting Winston with a “morning” as he met him. He pulled open the fridge and took out a carton of orange and took a deep drink from it, and then frowned as he lifted the lid of the pizza box, he was sure there had been three slices left in there last night, now the box was empty. He shrugged and then binned it before sitting down and taking another drink of the juice and looked Winston up and down and shook his head “you look like hell Winston,” he drawled.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Winston said as he sank down opposite him, Chance looked at him steadily evaluating his partner; he knew something was very wrong with him beyond the obvious. So he decided to just sit there and wait for the bigger man to speak, he knew that Winston would talk in his own time, and not before.
Winston finally exhaled slowly, “it looks like we have our next client.”
“Who?” Chance said.
“Me,” Winston said then added “My old partner, Mark Fuller came round the other day, we shot the breeze. When I was a cop I tried to bring down some dirty cops but never managed it. The worse one was Lt Bowman, and he’s like a cancer to the force, I failed to get him.” He paused “That was why when you came along with your, “one man can make a difference” I was ready to buy into it.”
“Any regrets?” Chance asked.
Winston smiled, “Possibly when you tried to push me through that vent, but no, I made the right choice.”
Chance smiled at the mental picture he got of the big man stuck like a square peg in a round hole, “Pity I didn’t have a camera.”
“If you had, I would have made you eat that picture.” Winston said, and then added, “Finally Chance, I have a chance to take him down, their opening the Marty Howard case, they need my testimony, to take him down. This might be my only chance to do it.”
Chance got up and poured a mug of coffee from the percolator he had started before his work out and pushed one across to Winston. He watched as his friend, took the cup and swirled the coffee round, looking at it as if he had never seen coffee before. But Chance knew that Winston was just marshaling his thought, and when he straightened up a little more in his chair, Chance knew they were getting down to business.
“Mark said there’s a new cleaner in town, but there’s no one out there that wants to name him. You know how rare that is, usually some snitch will throw a name at you for the right money, but their scared shitless of this guy, and there isn’t even a whisper. This morning he rigged a car bomb to take me out”.
“Did he?” Chance asked totally straight faced.
“No,” Winston broke into a smile, that was what he liked about Chance he didn’t waste time with the usual platitudes, and he saw his partner smile back at him. Chance didn’t have to put it into words he could see it in his face, he was alive and that was all that mattered. It was then he saw Chance look thoughtfully.
The ex-assassin knew the underworld, and the currency on the street was knowledge, anyone bringing that kind of rep into San Francisco narrowed it down to a handful of people, and one name was pushing its way to the front, he just hoped to hell it wasn’t him. Chance shook his head, he was letting his imagination get the better of him, the Old Man, kept his team close, there was no way it could be him. He pulled himself back to the present, “You better stay here,” he waved a hand round encompassing the warehouse, “until we get Bowman nailed.”
Winston wasn’t happy he was far from helpless, but when he opened his mouth to object, Chance over rode him, “If you were a client we would do it, so get use to the idea.”
“Your rules are to keep the client with you.” Winston reminded him.
“Yeah well they didn’t have … a cleaner after them. I’ll do some digging and see if I can get a name on him, if he’s…”
Winston cut across him thoughtfully, “He tried to hit me, how do we know that it’s not you he’ll be after next, given you were in the trade. He’s got to see you as a threat to his contact.”
Chance looked thoughtful and then smiled, “Not going to happen Winston. You stay here while I go and see what I can dig up. “He turned and took that stairs two at a time as he headed back to his living quarters. Suddenly he paused “Winston, did you eat the rest of that pizza.”
Winston frowned, “No way, Chance, it was bad enough the first time. Why?” Chance just shook his head.
“Nothing I was going to have it for breakfast that was all,” but when he turned away he looked thoughtful.
To kill time Winston walked into his office and halted, there was nothing that he could put his finger on, but his gut feeling was that someone had been in there. Taking a seat at his desk he opened his computer, and powered it up.
Winston sank down in his chair with a contented sigh, and opened up his files on the computer, he never noticed the extra line of text during the loading sequence.
Two blocks away, in his car his laptop resting on the passenger seat, the man took a bite of his sandwich, and began to type, as he hacked into Winston’s computer, via the program he had installed which allowed him to view and copy the information that Winston was downloading to work on. The hacker smiled and took another bite from his sandwich, “Amateur,” he breathed softly; it only took him an hour to collect all the information he needed.
Three days later Winston was ready to climb up the walls, Chance was disappearing out of the warehouse at all hours, during those days only to come back frustrated, and with skinned knuckles, and the beginning a bruise coloring his jaw. But he still hadn’t found out anything they could use. Finally he had a tip off, only this time when he went to leave Winston was stood at the door blocking it.
“I am not going to sit in here any longer waiting for the hitter to crash through the door, or put a ground to air through the window, you’ve got a lead, and I am coming.”
Chance shook his head, “Not his style,” he muttered under his breath, then louder added, “if your set on it Winston, then I am not going to stop you.”
As Chance pulled out of the underground parking at the warehouse with Winston in the passenger seat, Chance saw the car parked in an alleyway, he slowed slightly no one was in it but it was a black El Dorado. He swore under his breath, there was a lot of El Dorado’s around, but at this time and place it wasn’t good news.
Drake’s Bar was a dive, the people in there where criminals and not the kind that would take kindly to a cop walking through the door even an ex-cop. But Donnelly greeted Chance the moment he set foot through the door like an old friend, so the muscle backed off. Donnelly waved them to a booth and slide in opposite them. “So what can I do for you, Ju…? Chance,” he amended when he saw the steely look he got.
“Heard that you have hitter in town, if anyone has name on him it’s going to be you.”
Donnelly leaned forward and frowned, “You don’t know…?”
“Wouldn’t be asking if I did.”
Donnelly swallowed hard, “I know you’re out of the game, but if he’s here for you, I don’t want to know, last time remember….” He shuddered “that” he leaned in further looking round quickly as if expecting the devil to be sitting on his shoulder as he added, “little bastard fed Alfonso through the wood chipper, and….”
Chance leaned back against his seat, “Alfonso, pissed him off, have you seen him or is this just smoke and mirrors.”
“Hell, no Chance, you know you don’t see him until it’s too late, but word is that he’s here and he’s on a contract.”
“He,” Chance said “doesn’t advertise,” then seeing the look shot at Winston added “if he wanted Winston dead, I would be choosing caskets, that car bomb wasn’t his style, he doesn’t use explosives, it’s too impersonal, he’s more hands on.”
Donnelly shuddered at that, his voice caught, “Well the word on the street.”
Winston was about to speak when he was beaten to it. “Hey Dude what a guy has to do to get a drink here.”
Chance’s head snapped round, and Winston followed the line of sight. He saw a small man around five six, leant against the bar counter talking to the bartender, the man turned and returned Chance stare for stare. There was a slightly cock of the head, and he collected his drink a club soda, and headed towards their table. He paused and took a drink, “Long time bro.”
“Eight months.” Chance said, one hand was resting on the table the other hand was now under it.
If he saw the move it didn’t faze the newcomer, “Is this the cop?” The smaller man turned his attention to Winston and then he shook his head “Dude if this is the best you can do, it’s a miracle that you’re still breathing, he’s over weight and too slow, and he’ll get you killed.”
He took a sip of his drink his gaze never wavering, and then turned on his heels. It was only when he placed the drink on the counter and walked out of the bar, that Winston realized that the whole room seemed to have held its breath and only now seemed to start breathing again.
“Who the hell is that guy?” Winston asked starting to get up to follow, only to have his arm caught as Chance dragged him back down to his seat.
“An old friend who would blow your brains out if you followed him.” Chance said, his eyes never leaving the smaller man retreating back.
Winston opened his mouth to protest, but seeing the look that Chance gave him he didn’t ask, and Chance didn’t offer up any more information about the smaller man.
Donnelly made his excuse and left them, only then did Chance’s other hand appear above the table holding a gun.
“I thought you said he was a friend of yours?”
Chance just shrugged, “With him, friendship was never an exact science,” the ex-assassin’s gave a smile that was a rye twitch on the lips, “oh and about the ground to air, it’s like the bomb, it’s not his style, trust me.”
“And that supposed to reassure me,” Winston drawled.
Over the next couple of days Winston had pushed Chance for the name of the man from the bar, but Chance refused, just repeated that if he and the man was always he, had been gunning for him Winston would be six foot under.
Winston wasn’t use to be housebound, and insisted on following his own leads, so it was when he was coming out of the warehouse that he saw the man from the bar, stood on the street corner drinking a Starbuck. The most natural thing for Winston was to go after him, but by the time he got to the corner the man had vanished, swearing under his breath, Winston looked round. Suddenly he caught a glimpse of him turning the next corner, with a snarl Winston knew he had the man trapped that alleyway was a dead end. It was only as he came flying round the corner that in that split second he remembered just what he was chasing. Just as a two by four connected with his stomach knocking the wind out of him, and putting him down onto his hands and knees. It was then, even as he tried to breathe through the pain, that he felt the cold barrel of a gun to the base of his neck.
“Amateur hour dude, how the hell are you going protect Chance when you can’t even protect yourself?” There was coldness in the man’s voice that sent a cold chill down Winston’s spine. The voice was too controlled, and his gut told him this was a man that would pull the trigger and then walk away, and his death wouldn’t be nothing more than a footnote to him.
“Who the hell are you?”
There was no reply, and it was only then that Winston realized that the gun was gone, he turned his head slowly, the man had disappeared, Winston hauled himself to his feet, one hand clutching his sore gut, the other braced against the wall as he staggered out of the alleyway. As a cop he had gone toe to toe with a lot of criminals, and he knew that his size put a lot of them off, hell he topped this man by a foot but it hadn’t put the little bastard off, he had blindsiding him. “Who the hell was that guy?”
He somehow managed to get back to the warehouse, and sink down into one of the over blown couches to rest, when the secure phone on the warehouse entrance rang, carefully making his way over, one hand still pressed protectively to his gut, Winston checked seeing his old friend he buzzed him thought.
Mark shook his head at the sight of him, “Fuck Winston you look like hell, what happened.”
Winston waved him away, “I’ll explain later, what you have for me.”
“I finally found a rat to turn, and got a name on your hit man, and he’s a real sick bastard, he’s also a specialist, word is that he can make a mummy talk. You get that freak under you hammer, pulled the trigger, and don’t even think about it, putting that bastard down is doing the world a favor.”
“So who is he?” Winston asked impatiently.
“Guerrero.” Mark paused and then added, “He’s not cheap, employ him and he gets the job done, screw him over the money, and he’ll plant you next to his target. We’ve never got close to netting him because he never leaves bodies behind, unless it’s in the contract. If half of what they’re saying on the street is true, this guy is the ultimate professional, and anyone that survives an encounter with him, sure as hell isn’t going to talk about it, because he might come back after them.
“And Bowman’s brought him in?”
“Winston with his connections, he could afford to get the best so I am guessing yes. I want you to come in to witness protection, the Marshal’s…..” he trailed off as he saw his old partner shaking his head slowly; they had had this argument before.
“He’s got too long a reach, Bowman infected too many people with his corruption, and if he goes down he’ll take them all with him. Remember what happed to Katherine Walters?”
“Damn it to hell Winston, you’re not still agonizing over that woman,” he shook his head, “she is dead and your alive, live with it, you can’t bring her back, and there’s no proof that anyone leaked information on her case no matter what you think.”
“Then how the hell did a professional assassin get onto her case, Mark. Walters wasn’t the first, Howard was sold down the river just the same as she was.”
Mark shook his head, and pleaded “You have to trust us to protect you.”
Winston looked at him levelly, “I trust my partner, and if anyone can protect my back it’s him Mark, so I am going to stay out, tell Bowyer I’ll come in when he needs me and not before.”
“I hope to god your right; I don’t want to go to another funeral any time soon, old friend.”
Later that day
Mark Fuller threw the cell down onto the passenger seat of his car in disgust, Bowman had given the ultimatum to him, take your old partner out or go down yourself. Killing Bowman, Fuller mused wasn’t an option, the man had so many insurance policies, scattered round the country, and when the evidence contained in them hit the fan there wasn’t anywhere he and the others would be able to hide. The other cops might not want to believe it, but when presented with that evidence their wrath would be total. So Winston would have to go, and before he got a chance to give his evidence.
Without Winston the evidence could be broken down, he was the lynchpin of the case, the big man’s absence would be used as the defense team as proof that the prosecution team was leading a vendetta against Bowman. After all it was well known that Winston left the force under a cloud after the murder of Katherine Walters and his service jacket contained numerous accounts of crying wolf against other officers. Yeah, when Winston failed to appear, the defense team would have field day saying that he had run because he knew that his testimony would be blown. Even so he didn’t want to kill Winston himself, but maybe he could kill two birds with one stone.
The idea had been a good one; pick the one hit man who had a reputation that would paralyze the underworld, the one name the snitches would be scared shitless to pass onto the cops. But who could be blamed for the hit. The only problem was that Guerrero had heard about someone using his name and the man was seriously pissed.
Mark was uncomfortably aware that one of his informants had ended up at the sharp end of one of the Guerrero’s infamous talks, two others had vanished. You didn’t need a crystal ball to know that Guerrero was the cause of that. This meant that Guerrero would soon be calling at his door because he was under no illusion that they would have spilled his name, so he had to be dealt with.
48 hours later
Lenny Rossi, came into his hotel room, some sixth sense told him he wasn’t alone, as he started to turn he was hit from behind. Coming round was painful, when he tried to move he found he was handcuffed to the chair. It was then he focused on the man stood opposite him. He was smaller than him and slender, he looked more like a computer nerd than a player. Then he looked into his eyes and swallowed hard.
“We have ourselves a situation, here. One that can be resolved in two ways.”
“Your let me walk?” Lenny said.
“Take a man’s name in vain, you disrespect the man.”
Lenny’s mouth went dry, “You’re Guerrero, I…” he trailed off, sweat beginning to form on his face his breath coming quickly.”
The smaller man gave a slight inclination of the head. “What you’re experiencing is the first of what I like to call, the five stages of fear.” Guerrero continued, “But I don’t have time for the next four, so what say we skip to the last one dude.”
Rossi had only taken the job when he had been told that Guerrero would never know and anyway the hit man was working on the other coast, so there was no chance of him ever finding out, and if he did, he would be taken care of. His employer had laughed and said that he could bring a whole, SWAT squad down on Guerrero’s ass if he came to San Francisco. He would do that hit and Guerrero would take the blame for killing that ex-cop Winston. But it seemed that he had been told wrong and the devil himself was here and he was going to pay the price.
Lenny began to talk, he couldn’t stop himself if had wanted too, he knew he wasn’t going to get out of that room alive, and he was going to take the lying son of a bitch Mark Fuller, down with him. When he was finished talking Guerrero lived up to his side of the bargain, Lenny’s death was quick, and done with surgical precision.
Outside the hotel
Mark Fuller was sat in an unmarked police car, waiting for Winston, and reflected over his plan. It had started the previous day when he had put pressure on Donnelly and the man had reluctantly pointed out Guerrero to him, and he had been shocked, Guerrero was smaller than he thought he would be, wry built, he looked like an everyday Joe, not the dark angel of death of the underworld. Then he had seen the way that the other men, many of them bigger than him, acted round Guerrero, you could almost smell the fear in the air and that was when he finally believed, that this man was the feared Guerrero.
The hit man that had been using Guerrero’s name, was expendable, so he had had one of his snitches drop a name and address, and sure enough Guerrero had homed in on him. It was a pity about Rossi, but he had served his purpose, whatever he would tell Guerrero didn’t matter the hit man wasn’t walking out of the trap alive.
Getting Winston into the same place as Guerrero hadn’t been difficult; his old partner was brisling under the imposed house arrest of his new partner, who had gone ballistic after finding out about Winston’s run in, with the man that Mark guessed had been Guerrero. So Winston was ripe to buck Chances authority once he told him where he could find the killer. One thing was sure, Winston hadn’t wanted his partner involved when he had heard about bringing the police in on it, there was a secret there that Mark hadn’t been able to find out about, and Winston wasn’t talking. Anyway Winston had agreed to meet him in a heartbeat and that was all that mattered.
Predictable old Winston arrived on time, and slide into the passenger side of the car, which was parked just along from a broken down old hotel. Mark didn’t waste time as he quickly filled Winston in on what was happening. “Guerrero went in about 20 minutes ago, we need to move fast on this if where’re going to catch him,” Mark told him, and then sat back and allowed Winston to try and talk him out of taking part in what was going to happen next.
For Mark it was so easy to play the good friend, who was willing to go that extra mile for his old buddy. It amused the hell out of him when he saw the grateful look Winston gave him, when he had insisted on helping; the big sap didn’t realize he was being played.
The plan was simple, Guerrero was in room 205, Winston would go through the front door of the hotel, and make his way to the room, while he would enter through the rear of the building incase Guerrero got past him. Simple and straight forward.
Yeah right, only he was aware that Guerrero would more than likely have killed Rossi by now, and therefore being caught red handed with a corpse by his old partner, would get a violent response from Guerrero, the hit man would shoot his way out, and that would be the end of Winston.
Mark picked up the mike, and put a call in for police back up, he told them to come in sirens and lights blazing, pity they were going to be too late, he reacted out and hit his own siren that should get the desired effect, he shook his head sadly as he heard the crack of gunfire a few minutes later, almost in response to it, it seemed that Winston had caught up with Guerrero.
In room 205, Guerrero heard the siren that was coming from outside the hotel, a good enough reason to leave, he didn’t even bother looking at Rossi cooling body as he left. Coming out of the room Guerrero saw Winston the last person he expected, but he recovered from the surprise quicker, and could have shot the ex-cop down. But Winston was Chance’s partner, and Junior has a streak of loyalty in him that Guerrero wasn’t willing to buck. Even as Winston yelled at him to put his gun down, he couldn’t help giving him a sardonic smile, that wasn’t going to happen any time soon. Stupid cop wasted time yelling, so he put some rounds down the hallway causing the big man to jerk back to take cover round the corner. The cop was blocking the way down, so all he could do was go up. By the time Winston returned fire, he was already heading up the stairs to the next landing; Winston’s bullets only clipped the banister behind him.
Guerrero went up higher still taking the stair two at a time; he could hear the heavy footfalls of the big man pounding behind him. The door onto the roof was locked, but he kicked it open, and headed out onto the roof, in the background he could hear the wailing of police sirens, then the sound of cars and men yelling. He was running out of time.
The police would close the hotel down as tight as a drum, they would scoop everyone up, and sort them out later, the minute he got caught Winston would be pointing a finger at him. There was no way he was going to allow himself to be caught and handcuffed, and he would die before he stepped one foot into a prison cell again.
A quick look told him that he was almost out of options; on one side the building next door had been pulled down and the building on the other side had a roof that was at least ten feet lower. Luckily it was built during the era when buildings where shoe horned into every possible space, and if he was lucky he would be able to make the jump, between the two buildings. Pushing the gun into his belt in the small of his back, Guerrero backed up, and then with one deep breath ran, his foot hit the edge of the building and he launched himself off the roof, as he began to drop, in that sickening second he knew he wasn’t going to make it.
Winston was out of breath when he hit the roof top, but he was in time to see Guerrero running, he yelled his warning and aimed the gun, his finger started to tighten on the trigger and then stopped, as he saw the smaller man launch himself off the roof, swearing Winston rushed to the edge.
Guerrero had missed the edge of the roof top, and fallen short, slamming into the fire escape, somehow he had managed to grab it, the whole structure seemed to buckle under him, as rusty bolts gave way, one side of the fire escape came free and it tilted dangerously, but somehow Guerrero was hanging on. Winston saw him risk a look back up at him, and the gun that was pointed straight down at him, for what seemed like eternity the two of them just stared at each other. Winston deliberately lowered his gun, the smaller man was a sitting target, but he couldn’t shoot him, not like this.
Winston heard pounding feet behind him, and the yell of “Police freeze,” announcing their arrival. Being an ex-cop, Winston knew better than to turn quickly towards them, so he made sure that he kept his gun pointed down, and held away from his body, as he waited for the command to put the gun down. But even as he did that he looked down, to try and track Guerrero, but the smaller man was already gone. On the command Winston turned to face the police, and opened his mouth to explain when to his relief he saw Mark Fuller, his ex-partner was flashing his badge and talking a mile a minute to the uniforms.
Winston was fuming when he got back to the warehouse, he had already yelled Mark out for dropping the dime on him too early, and getting back up there before he had a chance to get to Guerrero, now the hit man was out there, and the odds of running him down was going to be twice as hard. He grabbed a bottle of whiskey, stormed upstairs to the guest room, he was pleased Chance wasn’t there he wasn’t interesting in hearing Chance’s I told you so speech.
Chance came back from walking Carmine, and stopped, he didn’t have to see the intruder to know that he was there. Slowly reaching into his jacket for his gun, he stopped as he saw Guerrero step out of the shadow; his gun held down by the side of his leg. His equitant of an olive branch.
“I think we need to talk Junior.”
“I am Christopher Chance now.” Chance put in levelly. He saw the bemused look; he got from his old partner.
“Sure Junior, when you go rogue dude, you don’t do it by half measures.” Guerrero drawled.
“Where’s the fun in doing things by half.” Chance paused, then smiled, “By the way I got your calling card, the empty pizza box, I take it you put a bug in Winston’s office.” Seeing the look on his Guerrero’s face he raised an eyebrow, “more than one.”
“His security is a joke dude; cracker boxes have more security than his computer.” Guerrero paused “he’s a joke you know Chance, he’s going to get you killed.”
“Winston is my partner, and I trust him to watch my back.” Chance said.
Guerrero didn’t answer but he did look thoughtful, Chance met his cold gaze levelly. “He had the drop on me tonight, and didn’t take the shot, if he doesn’t have the balls to drop the hammer he’ll get you killed.” He cocked his head slightly at Chance.
Chance knew that intense look, and knew that it freaked out a hell of a lot of people, luckily he wasn’t one of them, but even so he wasn’t totally immune to it. “What were you doing when he didn’t take the shot?”
“Hanging from a broken fire escape.”
When he opened his mouth to comment Guerrero just added “don’t go there dude.”
Chance threw a hand up, “Okay, Winston is a man of honor, he wouldn’t shoot anyone in the back, or shoot then like that, you were a sitting target, and he’s a good man, I am lucky to have him.
“Good ain’t always a virtue dude in our game. That’s why they employ people like us.”
Chance nodded to the refrigerator, “Help yourself.” He watched as Guerrero, headed into the kitchen, he unhooked Carmines lead, and the dog padded into the kitchen after Guerrero, to try and scrounge some food.
How long Winston was sat on the bed holding the unopened bottle of whiskey in his hand, and just staring at him he didn’t know. But finally with a long sigh he got up and now was time to make peace with his partner. Chance was sat on the couch, and he looked up, his eyes fixing on the whiskey bottle that Winston had brought down with him.
Winston put the bottle of whiskey down in front of him the bottle was unopened, part of their agreement as partners was that he would cut down on his drinking, and if he did drink he wasn’t to do it alone.
He broke the seal on the bottle and topped up the glasses on the table, and then paused there was three glasses, not two. Just then he heard the noise from the kitchen of a refrigerator door being closed.
The next minute Guerrero walked into the room, a carton of takeaway in one hand and a fork in the other.
Winston’s hand dipped and came up with the gun, and he locked eyes with the smaller man as he demanded “Freeze.”
“He serious dude?” Guerrero drawled at Chance, as with a shake of the head he sat himself down next to the ex-assassin, propping his feet up on the low table and continued picking at the noodles.
“Chance?” Winston would have torn his hair out if he had any, as he waved his gun to indicate the new comer.
Chance started slightly, “Sorry, Winston, this is Guerrero, Guerrero, Laverne Winston.”
Guerrero sniggered at the name, Winston cut in “He starts laughing I am pulling this trigger.”
The hit man’s lips twisted into an unnerving smile, and he went back to eating.
“So what the hell is he doing here? I kind of think I have a vested interest since this….”
Guerrero broke off eating and looked at him and Winston amended what he was going to say. “Since he’s been brought in to kill me.”
“Dude if I wanted you dead, you would be. That bomb was amateur hour, the rocker switch was….”
“Guerrero.” Chance cut across the smaller man cutting him off mid-sentence, Guerrero gave a shrug that spoke volumes, and Winston felt a cold ball of fear in his stomach. Chance had been doing so well, they had saved lives, but he could see the way that Chance was attracted to Guerrero. Like metal files to a magnet, this was the one man that could bring Chance down.
“You’re still holding that gun.” Guerrero drawled as he looked up from the noodles he was slurping.
Winston looked at Chance, saw the nod of reassurance and holstered his gun, and took one of the glass of whiskey from the table he deserved it. “You mind telling me what’s going on.”
Chance poured out the third glass and pushed it across to Guerrero, as if reading his mind he said “I am not going to turn my back on this, I am Christopher Chance now,” he ignored the snicker that he heard from Guerrero again and continued.
“Guerrero hasn’t been contracted to kill you, he wouldn’t take the contract because it put him in a me and him situation, and where not going there.”
“So I can trust him.” Winston knew that he sounded skeptical.
“If I told you yes, you wouldn’t believe me, but just say that I trust him, and leave him at that.”
“Riiiiight.” Winston drawled, personally he wouldn’t trust Guerrero as far as he could throw his skinny ass, but Chance didn’t think it was an issue.
“Mark Fuller, named him as the hit man,” Winston nodded towards Guerrero, who was scraping the bottom of the carton for the last of the noodles, “and told me to kill him on sight.” All the time he was talking, Guerrero was ignoring him; he didn’t even blink at the threat. Under his breath Winston added “I can see the appeal of that.”
Guerrero put the carton down, and scooped up one of the apples off the fruit bowl, and took a bite, munching away happily.
Winston frowned looking at the apple and the empty food carton, all Guerrero had done since he had come in from the kitchen was eat, he opened his mouth to comment. But….
Guerrero stopped eating and just looked at him, and Winston shifted uncomfortable in his chair, finally having to break eye contact with the smaller man. Tossing the apple core down, Guerrero said “I’ve ran into a few people,” there was a slight twitch of the lips “that were slow to share but we came to an understanding, your old partner is up to his neck in it. He’s dirty just like the others, but then he’s a cop.”
Winston went for him, for a big man, Winston could move fast when he wanted too, and all he could think of was getting to Guerrero, but Chance was too fast, and stopped him. The former assassin wasn’t worried for Guerrero even though he was a foot smaller, and pounds lighter, it was Winston he was worried about. When Guerrero fought, he fought dirty and went for the kill. Winston was out of his league with him. Somehow he managed to hold the big man back, “Guerrero, you’re not helping here, Winston sit down, you have to hear this.”
It was that which finally got to him, the look on Chance’s face and the sincerity in his voice, so he sank down on his chair, as Chance loomed over him. “I know that Fuller was, your partner but you have to hear this.”
He saw Chance shoot Guerrero a look, the smaller man sat back down again. But Winston had seen the way he had been stood; it was the stance of a fighter, someone martial arts trained. Winston knew that if he could get his hands on him, his weight and size would be a key factor. But getting close would have been hard, he would bet that Guerrero was fast, and deadly.
So he listened, and hated every minute of what he was told, he snapped at Guerrero, demanding to know what made him so sure, people lied.
But it was Chance that had answered, there was a note of sadness in his voice that made Winston look up, “People don’t lie when Guerrero talks to them.”
When Winston had opened his mouth to protest, he had seen two things the slightest twitch of Guerrero’s lips into an unsettling smile, and the shake of Chance’s head. It was then he had believed.
24 hours later
Mark was now under pressure from Bowman, and it was made worse when he came out of the police station to see Guerrero seated in a black El Dorado, waiting for him. All through the day, the hit man made himself known, finally Mark breathed a sigh of relief, when he realized that Guerrero was gone. Only to return to his home and see Guerrero outside of his house talking to his wife, by the time he got there the hit man was gone.
His wife couldn’t understand his worry, the man she had been speaking to was polite, he was just asking for directions. So it was when Mark received the call he had been dreading from Guerrero demanding a meeting with him. He couldn’t refuse. So that was why he now found himself in a deserted warehouse, facing down Guerrero.
He had tried to bribe Guerrero, explained it wasn’t personal, it was all business and that he was willing to pay him. When that failed he tried threats, that Bowman would hunt him down and kill him, and that every cop in San Francisco would be after his blood. But all the time he was met with stony indifference.
Mark knew he was in trouble, during his twenty years in the force he had faced down his fair share of killers, hopped up gang members, and psychos, but this guy was different, he was cold and professional, and when push came to shove the man wasn’t going to blink first.
Thank god that he had put a call into Winston, telling him about the meet. Because Winston if anything was a trusting fool, and seeing him appear behind the hit man, meant that he now had the upper hand in the situation.
If Guerrero turned to face the new threat, he could pick him off, if Guerrero tried anything Winston, good old trusting Winston would nail the bastard. It was a win, win situation.
“Good to see you old buddy, got a bit of a problem.” Mark said.
Winston moved forward carefully gun at the ready, “Tell me about it.” Winston drawled.
“Just drop the bastard and we can all go home.” Mark said.
Winston shook his head, “It isn’t going to happen Mark, I know the truth. So put your gun down and you might just live through this”
Mark hesitated, but there was no way he was going to win, so slowly he bend down and placed his gun on the floor and backed away.
It was then Winston saw that Guerrero hadn’t holstered his weapon. “It’s over, you going to put that away.” Winston said levelly, but at the same time making sure that even though he had lowered his own gun, he held it ready to use. It was clear that Guerrero didn’t trust him.
Chance came forward from where he had been acting as back up for them both, only then did Guerrero put his gun away, and take the envelope off Chance that the ex-assassin gave him. The blond looked amused instead of insulted as Guerrero checked the contents of it, counting the money. “Next time bro,” Guerrero drawled.
They shook hands and he was gone, without a backward glance. Chance, looked down at Mark, “You know that, he is the most dangerous man in San Francisco. You pissed him off by using his name and his reputation. So you have to pay your dues, if you walk out of the court room on Friday, your brains will be decorating the court room steps. So you know what you have to do, if you want to keep living.”
Five days later, Detective Mark Fuller took the stand, and his confession helped put Lt Bowman, away for life for the murder of Marty Howard and he was now facing a similar heavy sentence himself for corruption and attempted murder. What the ADA and his own lawyer couldn’t fathom, was why he refused witness protection, and any attempt to plea bargain his own sentence down.
Winston came in from the court, and flopped down into the chair while Chance poured him a drink, there was a rattling sound from the kitchen and Guerrero came in, Winston opened his mouth to complain as he saw the Tupperware box with his name on it. But instead just waved a hand, he was too bone weary to start an argument. While he had been in court, Chance had started on a new case and it looked like Guerrero was running back up for him.
Resigned, but not happy Winston, nodded to the smaller man, “What’s his story for being here?”
Guerrero looked up from the cold pasta and meatballs, only to smirk as he heard Chance say “You don’t really want to know.”
“How do you know you can trust him?” It was a valid question so although he paused eating Guerrero didn’t seem to object to it.
“Because he’s a friend.” Chance said levelly. But it was Guerrero that Winston was watching, the man registered surprise, which he clamped down hard on, but even so Winston had seen it. He had the feeling that friendship was an alien concept to this man.
Winston let it ride, he wasn’t happy about this latest addition to his life, but he was going to follow Chances lead until he knew better, but until then he was going to watch Mr. Guerrero very closely.