Hurt

Nov. 7th, 2010 11:24 pm
oldandnewfirm: (Human Target / Guerrero's hair waving)
[personal profile] oldandnewfirm
Fandom: Human Target
Rating: R
Characters/Pairings: Guerrero
Summary: Inspired by a discussion on the WPTJEH LJ community during which someone speculated that Guerrero might have been a drug user at some point in his life.



"Don't shit where you eat."

It was the first rule of dealing and the only one that mattered. The veterans generally agreed that never had there been a phrase that summarized so well the cautions inherent to their profession, nor one that (barring attacks from rival gangs, harassment from over-vigilant neighbors, or police intervention) could keep you alive and working the streets long enough for you to climb above the midnight beat and onto a more lucrative rung of the ladder.

Of course rules only work if they're followed.

___

"He got a name?"

The "he" in question was a lump in the corner hidden beneath a stained red blanket. Goodie shrugged.

"Dunno. We call him Rat."

"Is he?" The man asked sharply.

"What?"

"Is he a rat?"

"What? No..." Goodie's brows pinched in confusion.

"Is he a snitch? That why you call him rat?"

"Oh. Oh! No man, no. He's cool. 'S just what he looks like, you know? A rat. He's got a ratty face. Rat-a-tat-tat."

"Right." The man didn't sound impressed.

"But man, no, it's more than that! You should see him in a fight. He fights like one too. A rat, right? You drop a couple of 'em in a box, those fuckers'll tear each other's throats out. They're tur-turrita-"

"Territorial?"

"Yeah, that. They don't like other rats in their turf. You get what I'm sayin'?"

"Is he awake?" The man gestured towards The Lump That Was Rat.

"Huh?" Goodie said. Then, after his brain caught up with the shift in the man's attention, "Oh, I dunno. HEY RAT, YOU UP MAN?"

"Couldn't help it." Came the reply from beneath the blanket. "You never shut your mouth."

"You got a visitor. He gave me twenty bucks to bring 'im here. Says he's got more."

"Keep your voice down." The man hissed. Other figures slumped around the room in various stages of coherence. Some had perked at the mention of money; their glassy eyes now focused on the scene between the three men.

"More? How much more?" Rat asked.

The man didn't respond right away. Instead he gingerly knelt to the cement, leaned over The Lump That Was Rat, and whispered a number into the rough location of his ear.

Rat's head popped from beneath the blanket at bruising speed, catching both the man and Goodie by surprise. The former, however, swore as his motion to evade Rat had landed him on his ass in the copious and unidentifiable muck of the crack house floor.

"The hell do you think-" The man began, but the words died as he finally got a good look at Rat's face.

Rat's eyes seemed bright and piercing as headlights in the bleary fug of the room. They fixed the man with a stare edged by hunger- nothing new, all addicts were greedy for something- but there was an intelligence there that didn't belong in a face so gaunt and ravaged by whatever the hell was flowing in the kid's veins. It was fuckin' creepy is what it was.

"What do you want me to do?" Rat asked.

The man rocked up onto the balls of his feet, trying very hard not to think about whatever lukewarm substance was now soaking into the back of his pants. "Relocation."

Rat snorted and swept the greasy tangles of his brown hair away from his forehead. "What, you moving across town or something? You came all the way out here for that?"

"No." The man reached into the inside pocket of his jacket, pulled out an envelope, and held it out to Rat. "Not really."

Rat scooted up into a sitting position and sliced the envelope open with a blunt fingernail. There were photographs inside, each with locations and times scribbled on the bottom, and a post-it note bearing an address.

"Can you read?" The man asked, when Rat said nothing for several minutes.

"Of course I can read, I'm not retarded." Rat said flatly. He replaced the contents of the envelope and closed the flap. "You're asking me to- is this what I think it is?"

He said it more to his collar than to the man, in a voice so low it was hard to read any emotion from it.

"Maybe. That depends on what your answer would be."

Rat's tongue flicked across his lips. The envelope bunched under the strain of his grip.

"When would I get paid?"

"You say yes, and I'll give you a number. You call after it's done, and you'll get an address. Go to that address and you'll get payment in full. Cash."

"How do I know this isn't a setup?"

"Like you said, long way to go for just a setup. Besides, I would never have heard of you if it weren't for your friend Goodie here."

Goodie grinned, pleased to have been mentioned even if he'd kind of forgotten why he was standing there in the first place.

"You in or not? If not, I'm sure I could find other takers."

And there were more junkies listening now. The man could feel them staring, could hear the edges of their slurred whispers.

"Yeah." Rat said. Then, more softly, "Yeah man. Sure."

The man reached into his jacket once more. This time he produced a snub-nosed revolver and pressed it into Rat's bony hands.

"Ever used one, kid?"

Rat nodded. A lie, thought the man, or at least he'd never used one for real. He'd probably shot cans off his backyard fence with a BB gun at best.

"Just aim straight and don't second guess yourself. It's always hard the first time."

"First time?"

"There'll be other jobs, of course, if you come through with this one- put that thing away, will you kid? You're making me nervous- and better payment too. Eventually. For now, consider this a trial run."

He stood.

"Hey uh. Hey. Hey guy?" Goodie tapped the man on the shoulder, and quickly retracted his finger at the look the man gave him. "I brought you to here, to him. Didn't you say I'd get...?"

"Twenty each way, yeah, I remember." The man extended a bill to Goodie, who snatched it and crowed with joy.

"You have until Thursday." The man said to Rat. "And you've only got one shot."

"If I fail?"

The man, who'd started sweeping the worst of the muck from his pants leg, paused long enough to fix Rat with a wide, white grin.

"Don't worry. We'll find you."

___

It was in the papers Wednesday morning: African-American man gunned down in some lonely little alley on Grant Street. No witnesses, or at least none stupid enough to come forward. The article, if you could call it that, was barely more than a paragraph. It'd be gone and forgotten by the weekend.

Rat came slinking in at ten past noon, right on time. His too-bright eyes scanned the room as he entered, taking in every detail before finally settling on the man sitting behind the desk.

"$1200, as promised." The man said, sliding a bound wad of bills across the table. "Wasn't so hard, was it?"

For a moment, Rat said nothing. Then:

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why'd you want him dead?"

"Does it matter?"

Another, longer pause. "No."

"Right. Your job's to pull the trigger, not to ask questions."

The man tapped his finger on the desk, thinking. "But if you must know, our friend there decided to take a little more than his fair share of the till. Guess he thought we wouldn't miss a few dollars here and there."

Rat pulled the rubber band off the wad and started counting each bill.

"Bet a smart guy like you would know better, right?"

Rat glanced over, but didn't say anything.

"You know, I was lying when I said I hadn't heard of you, kid."

That got Rat's attention. The man grinned.

"Ziti was an old acquaintance of mine. Once mentioned a kid in his crew, one of his dealers, who showed some real promise. At least until he started sampling the product."

Rat grunted.

"You hear a lot of things." He said. Bills counted, he dropped them into the pocket of the small duffel bag bouncing on his hip. "We done here?"

"You could do with some manners." The man said shortly.

"Sorry."

There wasn't a lick of actual apology in it, but it was probably the best he was going to get. The kid's body was trembling like he was overdue for a fix.

"Yeah. We're done. Oh, and you can keep that gun. Consider it an investment in what I hope will prove to be a lucrative future between us- if you're still interested, that is."

Rat's face hardened for a moment. Then he shook his head as though clearing out whatever doubts had seized his tongue.

"You know where to find me, dude."

After Rat had gone, the man reached across the desk and picked up the phone.

"Hey Ziti? It's Joubert. Just wanted to thank you for the recommendation. Yeah, he got the job done. Quietly too. First time? I'm pretty sure, yeah. What? Oh. Heh, right. Are you kidding? If he's this good strung he must be a monster sober. I think I'm actually gonna put a little work into this one..."

Date: 2010-11-08 03:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maddarilke.livejournal.com
This was amazing. Do you write professionally? I found this absolutely riveting and real, and I'd hate to think you're not getting paid for this level of talented storytelling. "Rat"....love it.

Hope to see more. :)

Date: 2010-11-08 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldandnewfirm.livejournal.com
Do you write professionally?

*Blush* No, I don't, but I'm flattered that you think I should. There's no higher compliment for a fic author than hearing they should go pro.

I'm so glad that you enjoyed it! I suspect my HT muses will be returning with the advent of the new season, so I'm sure more fic is on the horizon.

Date: 2010-11-09 06:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maddarilke.livejournal.com
Well, I think you've got what it takes. As a reader, I'm so impressed!

Yes, I really loved it. Can't wait for HT to shake up your Guerrero Muse some more! xo

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