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Fandom: Human Target
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairings: Guerrero, Chance
Summary: A young Guerrero's detour through the woods leads to interesting companionship. This is a warmup to a larger piece I'll be writing that focuses on the early days of Chance and Guerrero's friendship.

"You should be in school," nagged a voice in David's head. But it was easier to ignore these days, and he did so now as he picked his way through a field littered with bald tires, broken glass, and the rusting skeletons of abandoned cars.

The Bend was the sort of place you only heard about in whispers, not because it was dangerous but because you weren't cool enough to go there. It didn't seem like much from up on the bridge that spanned this part of Miller's Stream and it still wasn't, really. But even a dump like the Bend cleaned up nicely in Autumn, when the trees ringing the field stood proudly in their fall colors and filled the gaps between the garbage with a vibrant carpet of red-and-gold that crunched beneath David's feet as he walked.

"You lost?"

David's head snapped up. The voice came from the mouth of an old train car a few yards away in which stood a blonde boy about David's age. The boy regarded him lazily through the curl of smoke rising from his cigarette.

"No. I just didn't feel like going to school today."

"And you came here instead of the arcade, or the ice cream shop?"

David shrugged. "I don't have any money."

The boy gave him a look like he found that very hard to believe. David felt a pang of self-consciousness as he realized for the first time the contrast between his crisp school clothes and boy's weathered tee and jeans. But the boy seemed more amused than upset.

"I've seen you before," the boy said, after a moment.

"You have?"

"Yeah." he scratched his chin and squinted at David as though trying to place him. Then he snapped his fingers.

"You're the one who broke Douggie's finger!"

"Douggie?" David asked.

"This kid. He's fourteen I think, kinda chubby, pretty pink in the cheeks?" the boy said. "Anyway, I heard he tried to toss you around for a comic book and you kicked him in the balls and snapped his pinky."

"Sounds familiar," David said vaguely.

"Everyone was talking about it. The kids that saw said you fought like you were crazy."

By the time he finished, respect had trickled into the boy's features. David said nothing.

"What's your name, kid?" the boy asked.

"David," he said in a tone that suggested revealing this information had taken serious consideration.

The boy nodded. "David? Well, I'm Luke."

Ah. Each of the Westerly Orphan's Sanctuary boys was infamous in his own right, and the middle school population of P.S. 120 knew them all by name and reputation if not by face. After all, it paid to know which boys might spare your allowance if the wind was right and which would crack your nose like an egg if you so much as squinted at them. Not that David had problems with the boys these days.

Luke, unlike most of the boys, wasn't known as the violent sort, though the ease with which he carried his wiry frame seemed to belie the potential for it. More often David heard his name being whispered by the local shopkeeps as though they were afraid of invoking him. The kids in David's grade had lost count of how many missing titty mags, and cigarettes had been attributed to Luke and his friends, even if they were nowhere near the store in question at the time.

"So," said Luke, "what brings a fine upstanding chap like yourself to the Bend on a school day?"

As he spoke, Luke dropped to the floor of the car and folded his legs under himself. He produced a battered pack of smokes from his jacket pocket and jiggled it in David's direction. David shook his head but accepted the gesture for the invitation it was and hopped up onto the lip of the car.

"I thought it'd be quiet," David said as he sat down.

"Sorry to disappoint you, but I was here first."

"I don't mind. You're all right."

"And if I wasn't?" Luke asked, grinning. "After what I've heard..."

David just shrugged. "Nothing. I don't pick fights."

"Really?"

"Really," he said. "I am, however, happy to finish them."

Luke plucked his cigarette from his lips and laughed. David felt himself smiling too, even though he hadn't mean to.

"Tell you what," said Luke after he'd calmed. "You come back here tomorrow, I'll introduce you to some of my pals."

"Yeah?"

"Sure, if you want. We can all hang out."

David had an idea of what that would entail. There was a reason why the police knew the staff at the Sanctuary so well, and a reason why David's dad had forbidden him from so much as looking at kids like Luke.

Of course David didn't plan to waste his life doing something as lame as what he was told to do.

"Sounds fun," said David. "Same time tomorrow?"

Luke bobbed his head, still smiling, and held out a lean-fingered hand. David squinted at it. Then, slowly, he clasped it with his own and accepted an enthusiastic shake.

"I think you and I are gonna get along fine." said Luke around his cigarette.

Though he couldn't be sure why, David agreed.

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