Summary: Jack finds out what happened to the other guy.
A/N: Don't own it, etc., etc. Jack's a little more together in this one, just for a change of pace.
Ramon carefully placed the blanket back over Juan’s battered body and went into the hallway, motioning to Emilio to follow him. He closed the bedroom door behind him and they walked towards the stairs. Once they were out of earshot, Ramon turned to his subordinate and asked incredulously, “And you say a junkie did this to him?” Juan was a big guy, and one of his best enforcers. It was difficult to believe that anyone would get the jump on him, let alone a junkie.
Emilio nodded. “Yeah. Name’s Jack. He hasn’t been around very long, but he’s a regular. He was like a machine, man.”
Ramon considered this. The injuries Juan had, they weren’t what you would get in your average street fight. This Jack guy knew what he was doing. “What’s his story?”
“I don’t know,” Emilio shrugged. “Ex-military, maybe. He’s out of work, probably only a month or two from the street.”
“Is he into us for very much?”
“No. A hundred bucks, maybe.”
Ramon glanced down the hall to the room where Juan lay recuperating. “Okay,” he jabbed a finger at Emilio. “I want you to let him run up a big tab. Someone with his skills, we could use.”
The chipped and flaking floorboards creaked under the weight of Jack’s boots as he crossed the porch. He raised his sunglasses to the top of his head, letting his eyes adjust to the shade as he knocked on the door. To the right of the door a battered red easy chair stood next to a wooden chair with a broken rung. Empty beer bottles were scattered around, a few with candles stuck in them for when the occupants sat outside to enjoy the evening. An old soup can half-filled with cigarette butts was nailed to the wall beside the grimy window. Security bars made the window hard to clean.
Jack propped the wooden screen door open with his back as he rapped his knuckles against the steel inner door again. He could hear movement inside. Someone was checking the peephole. He didn’t know if he would be admitted or shot on sight. It all depended on what had happened last night, and as he couldn’t remember, there was only one way to find out.
He wasn’t sure if even Emilio knew – he might have gotten into the fight sometime after he left here. To be on the safe side, he’d cleaned himself up a bit to downplay his injuries and put on his lucky tan leather coat. Teri used to call it his ‘pimp jacket.’ She’d bought it for him at Goodwill and giggled when he put it on for the first time. “Oh, that’s-a verra nice,” she’d chortled. “Now all you need is a purple fedora.” Despite its ugliness, things usually went well for him in this coat.
The door swung open and Emilio motioned Jack inside. “You’ve got some cojones. I can’t believe you’re showing up here.”
Jack shrugged. He wasn’t about to admit to anything.
“You almost killed Juan, man.”
“I guess he had it coming,” Jack replied impassively. In his head he was running through the various ways this scenario could play out. Only a few of them were good.
Emilio laughed and motioned Jack into the kitchen, following close behind. “Yeah, I guess he did.”
He took a pack of cigarettes from his back pocket and tapped out a smoke. He didn’t offer Jack one; he knew that for whatever reason, this was one habit the other man didn’t have. “Sit down, Jack. Take a load off.” Emilio remained standing, leaning against the sink as he flicked his lighter. He pursed his lips and puffed out a slow stream of smoke, inhaling it again through his nose. “Where’d you learn to fight like that?”
“Yeah? What happened?”
“Usual. I got fucked up in
In one smooth motion, Emilio slammed Jack’s head onto the kitchen table and held a knife to his throat. “What do I care? You put one of my guys out of commission for a month, man. That’s what I care,” he hissed. “You ever pull a stunt like that again, and you’ll be the one who needs a doctor.” He yanked Jack’s hair, pulling his neck straight. “You understand me?” The cigarette was clenched in his teeth.
Jack could think of at least three ways to get out of this hold, so he decided to play along. Amateur. “Yes,” he croaked. The angle of his throat made it difficult to speak.
Emilio jerked again. “Yes what, soldier boy?”
“Yes, sir.” Jack replied.
“What was that? I didn’t hear you,” Emilio taunted.
“Sir, yes, sir!” Jack shouted. What a moron.
Emilio released his grip on Jack’s hair, tossing Jack’s head to the table. He stepped back, grinning as he put his knife away. “Okay, then.” He moved to the other side of the table and sat down, tapping his ashes into a mug. “Now, what can I do for you? D’you got my money?”
Jack rubbed his throat as he sat up and retrieved his sunglasses. “Well, there’s a problem with that,” he admitted. “I lost my wallet last night.”
“Uh, huh. Is that so?”
“But listen, Emilio, there’s a guy who owes me some money. I can get it from him tomorrow, and then I can pay you.”
To his surprise, the other man had reached into a drawer behind him and was already taking out his kit. “I think I can tide you over.”
“That would be great,” Jack said eagerly. “But, um, do you think I could take it with me? I don’t want a repeat of last night,” he laughed nervously.
Emilio laughed too. “Yeah, I guess that would be okay.” He tossed a small foil packet onto the table. Jack reached for it, then paused.
“Do you think… I might need some for the morning, too. If I’m going to go see this guy,” he added.
Emilio smiled. “Sure, Jack. Whatever you need.” The packet was joined by two more. “Why not take a little extra? I’m sure you’re good for it. Now get the fuck out of here.”
Jack grabbed the packets, stuffing them into the pocket of his jacket as he stood up. “Thanks, man.”
As he turned the corner away from the house, Jack lowered his sunglasses and breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like this was going to work out.
He got back to his apartment and reached behind the refrigerator for the cell phone he had taped there. Time to check in. As he waited for someone to pick up, he sat on the couch and pulled the three small foil cubes from his pocket. He made a little tower on the coffee table, flicking it over with his finger. He’d keep two of them for evidence. He’d just started to stack them up again when someone answered.
“I’m sorry, who?” Jack had dialled Tony’s direct line.
“This is Agent Edmunds. Who’s this?”
Oh, great. The new guy. “Is Agent Almeida there?”
Jack sighed impatiently. “Chase, right? Is Tony there?”
“He had to step out. He asked me to take your call if you checked in.”
“Fine. You can tell him I’ve started to run up a tab, and they seem more than willing to let me. I think they think I might be useful to them.” The sound of Chase typing the information into the logs could be heard on the other end of the line.
“How do you figure that?” The typing stopped.
Jack smiled. “Because I beat up one of their guys last night. I guess they were impressed.”
“Anything we need to know about, Agent Bauer?”
“No. It was one of their enforcers, a Juan Perez. He’ll be fine.”
The typing started again. “Okay. Anything else?”
Jack looked at the foil packets on the table. “No, that’s all.” He flipped the phone shut and returned it to its hiding place. He took off his jacket and hung it in the closet, then checked his watch as he went for his kit. Close enough.