Disclaimer: I do not own or possess any copyrights in relation to this story, nor am I being compensated in any way … unless you count warm fuzzies from reviews. Sadly my bank does not accept those as currency.
Fair warning: There will be violence, mature language, and sex in this story, so read at your own risk ... be prepared for MA/NC-17 content.
Outtake – "Why?"
Slumped and handcuffed to a metal table, deep in the lower levels of Rangeman, Michael Rosario Jr. rolled his shoulders a little to ease the building ache. The movement didn't really help, but it was like a loose tooth you can't stop wiggling. Stifling the cough that was building up suddenly took all of his focus. Coughing made his cracked ribs erupt and the bruising on his kidneys would send spasms of pain through him. He would definitely be pissing blood after today. If he survived today.
The room was soundproofed, with a large viewing mirror in it for observation purposes. He ignored the mirror, knowing someone was behind it watching him. What were they waiting for? Junior had expected something to have happened by now. Either they'd kill him or they'd turn him over to the CIA, but he had been sitting here alone for at least an hour by his count.
Another hour passed.
Acutely attuned to the almost overwhelming silence in the room, his head jerked up when the doorknob turned. Fuck me. Ram slid through the opening with the grace of a panther on the prowl before he shut the door behind him. Watching his friend, his brother, try to find words, Junior flashed through all of the good times they'd had together. They'd been in the same division in basic, had run into each other occasionally on missions and after they both started working here, they had spent more than a few nights hanging out and picking up women or having a few beers.
That was a damn good question. It was also a question he wasn't sure how to answer. How did things get so out of control?
Five months earlier
Fuck he loved missions in Rio. Nothing beat hot women on vacation who want to let loose. Throw in a little Latin dancing and you could practically have them mounting you on the dance floor.
Looking around to get an idea of what he had to work with tonight, he scowled as he caught sight of his handler. Asshole. You'd think Pickens had never been young the way he acted most of the time. And fine, Junior hadn't been cleared to come to this nightclub, but the bar he had been told was 'safe' was just that … a bar. Junior wanted hot sweaty women to rub up on him, not sit around a dirty bar with a bunch of other men banging down beer and arguing about the latest call in football. Brazilians were serious about their sports.
Feeling the beat of the music in his bones, he tipped up his beer and took a long swallow. As his eyes swept over the crowd again, he let a ghost of a smile cross his lips as he found her. She was tiny, only a little over five feet, with long black hair and copper skin. Dark eyes met his and her red lips curved up in a smile as she raised her arms and swayed to the heavy beat.
Setting his beer down on the bar, he moved forward to meet tonight's destiny.
Long hair slithered over his chest as she moved in her sleep, the strands tickling him awake. Looking blearily at the clock he dropped his head back on the pillow and rested a big hand on her back. He wasn't sure he'd ever get tired of the satin texture of her skin.
Staring up at the ceiling fan spinning lazily above the bed, he wondered what he was going to do when he left. The night he met Anna Valdes had changed his life for the better. She had swept him up into something he hadn't even known he was missing. Pickens had a fit, but had finally relented after doing some background work on her.
But now, a month after that fateful night, he was watching his return date to the States speed towards them. He couldn't take her with him. They both knew that. But he wanted to. God he wanted to.
Back in the States now, Junior hoarded his relationship with Anna. He didn't want to share her with anyone, so he kept it to himself. They met on Skype when they could and sent emails and had long phone calls. He bit back the words to ask her to come to him every time he spoke to her. She would smile knowingly at him on Skype as she watched before gently reminding him that she couldn't leave her sick mother.
Yesterday Ranger had called a meeting and let everyone know that he had a high risk assignment and would be gone awhile. He had asked everyone to keep an eye out for Stephanie. Junior snorted and rolled his eyes. Like that would help keep her safe? More like get someone else hurt. He unconsciously flexed his calf where he had been shot the last time he had gotten involved with her. She was a fucking menace. If she wanted to play with the big boys, the least she could do was pretend to be serious about it. Her fucking lackadaisical approach to something the rest of them trained hard for was an insult. And then they were expected to save her dumb ass.
Booting up his laptop and checking his watch, he leaned back on his couch. He really needed the talk with Anna tonight to relax, today had been a bitch. Hearing the sound indicating a new call, he moved forward eagerly and hit accept.
"Hi baby," he said as her beautiful face appeared. Looking closer he was concerned. Had she been crying? "Everything ok?"
Her face scrunched up and a tear leaked out of one eye before she covered her face with her hands.
"Anna please, what is it? What's wrong?"
"Michael … dios. I …" He watched with almost frantic eyes as she tried to take some deep breaths. "I'm pregnant," she finally blurted out, watching his face.
He could feel his eyes widening and his mouth falling open in shock as the words battered around inside his skull, bouncing from place to place and gleefully turning his muscles to water. He took a shuddering breath, closed his mouth and then took another. Swallowing hard, he tried to figure out how to ask in the least offensive way possible.
She read it in his face and snapped out, "Yes it's yours. I haven't been with anyone but you for the last six months."
He nodded dumbly, still trying to wrap his mind around it. "But we used …"
"I think probably it was that first night … in the shower."
A faint grin appeared on his face as he remembered that shower. That was a fucking awesome shower.
That apparently created a child. His child.
He had been walking around in a daze for the last two days, trying to figure out what he was going to do now. He loved her and he was coming around to the idea of a kid, but she still refused to leave Rio, telling him that her mama would have no one to take care of her then. Maybe he could get her mama to come too?
He tapped on Ranger's door and opened it when the man responded.
"What do you need Junior?" Ranger was almost hidden behind his pre-mission paperwork. He knew Ranger did as much as he could before he left to lessen the load on Tank. Not that it really helped. Tank was not an office person.
"I'd like to take a week off starting next week. Got a friend who needs a hand taking care of some things." He had thought about telling Ranger the whole story, but from the way he had made it sound during that last briefing, Ranger had enough on his mind without hearing his sob story.
Ranger stared at him with that smooth blank expression. "You need help?"
"No, that's ok. Nothing like that, personal shit," he responded, smiling as naturally as possible.
"Hmm. You have the request?"
Handing it over, he watched with hidden relief when Ranger signed off on it.
She still refused to leave. Actually her mother refused to leave, which meant she refused to leave. He begged, something he had sworn he would never do for a woman, but the only thing it did was make them both miserable.
The last day of his vacation arrived and he was still no closer to getting them to Jersey than he had been the day he arrived. He wasn't sure how he was going to be able to handle going back without her … and his child. It didn't seem real yet, although she had given him a sonogram. He still wasn't sure which blob on it was the baby, but he stared at it enough to have the entire thing memorized.
He had considered staying. His parents were already dead and he didn't have any close family. There wasn't much tying him to his life. But she didn't want him to give up everything just because she was pregnant. Something about he'd come to resent her or something equally stupid.
Walking to pick them up some breakfast, Junior frowned and missed a step when he caught sight of Pickens.
The fuck was he doing here?
The deal he was offered, or rather forced into taking, wasn't a bad one. It bothered him that it was so generous actually. In exchange for planting some bugs in Rangeman and sending out the information collected, Anna would be protected and given a large monthly stipend to help cover her costs. Her mother would also get a nurse/companion if Anna wasn't able to take care of her once her pregnancy progressed.
All of that in exchange for a little information?
He was suspicious, but not sure what else he could do. They had approached her at the same time and she was urging him to take it. The bugs would be easy to plant and all he had to do was skim the tapes and send out a few paragraphs a week.
It niggled though. How had they found out she was even pregnant?
The first time he listened to the tapes he struggled with himself. He wasn't always a great guy, but he had thought himself an honorable one. Was anything worth betraying that? His deadline for sending the information came and went and he still struggled.
Then Anna called. Apparently on her way home from work someone had tried to snatch her, but someone else saved her. The guy who saved her told her that he was one of her shadows and that it was probably just a random kidnapping attempt. It wasn't an unusual thing in Rio, but Junior wondered why they would pick a native instead of a white woman on vacation. That was where the money was.
Still, the protection had saved their lives and suddenly the cost of not sending the information seemed too high. He had some money saved up, but nowhere near enough to keep a guard on her. Of course if she would just fucking move none of this would be necessary, but she was as stubborn as he was.
So he sent the information.
Soon it was just another part of his weekly routine. He and Anna still talked every day and her stomach was developing a curve that her tight tank tops showed off. She complained of being tired and sick all the time, but he never noticed anything but glowing beauty. Other than the slight swell of her stomach she didn't look a bit different than the day they met.
It had been too long since they had been together though. He was trying to get her to come visit him, to let the nurse watch her mother, but she kept making excuses. He was just sitting down on his couch to send his weekly report before their Skype call when he received a message from Pickens.
I knew it was too good to be true.
He was in deep enough now that simply backing out wasn't an option. They had men around Anna, 'watching' her for her own safety, for fucks sake. They didn't explicitly state that they could just as easily hurt her instead, but it was implied all over the damn place.
He argued of course. He didn't like Stephanie, but he didn't think he could kidnap her. That never seemed to work out well for anyone else who tried it. When he realized he'd be fucking up Ranger's mission he had almost thrown himself on Tank's mercy, but the memory of the gentle curve of Anna's stomach stopped him.
He couldn't risk it.
A week later he got another message, another order, and actually made it to the stairs before he stopped himself. Ram was too close to her, was going to get in the way when it came time to pick her up. He should never have passed on the information about how close they were, but it was too late to take it back now. If he would have just thought about what it meant first!
The first order had been to eliminate Ram, but he had balked. There were things he wasn't prepared to do, not even for his child. How could he hold his baby with hands that had killed a good man in cold blood?
Instead he had made a counter-suggestion. He knew Lester was jealous as hell of what was going on with Stephanie and Ram, the tapes were full of it and you could see it all over his face. He had been instigating some shit, but Junior thought maybe he could help. When the next order came he almost kissed his computer in relief.
Separate her from Ram. Get close to the Core Team and help them with it.
Of course that didn't work. He should have known that when you push Stephanie, or Ram for that matter, they dig in their heels and make it their mission in life to spite you. It's just the way they were wired. He had hoped that making Ram's life miserable would make him see she wasn't worth it, that she was dragging him down.
The order came again: Eliminate Ram.
They sent him a picture this time, Anna in tears with a gun to her head. He was assured that she was still safe, simply being held in case he got cold feet again. There was no need to worry.
Yeah, because assurances from them meant so much.
He didn't have a lot of time to make something happen. He still couldn't make himself kill Ram, but maybe if he could manage this in just the right way it would all be ok. Maybe.
The schedule gave him an opening; a quick recon session gave him a viable plan. There were problems with it, so many holes, but it was the best he could do on such short notice. Telling Rube that he had eaten some bad burritos had made it fairly easy to get out of surveillance. They covered for each other occasionally, so it wasn't a big deal.
He hardened his heart to the reality of what he was doing and took the shot.
Anna had been released, but not without threats. She was hysterical when she finally spoke to him, blaming him for everything. Pickens had been furious with him and Junior knew that if the man had another asset inside Rangeman that he would probably be dead.
Still, now that he understood the 'mission', that he was supposed to distract Ranger with Stephanie's safety, he thought he had done well. Underneath the callous mask he was sporting these days, the guilt was eating him alive, but he pushed it away.
It wasn't just about the baby anymore. He had come too far, done too much, to back out now.
They had played him perfectly. In retrospect, he could see it clearly. How could he have been so stupid? So fucking naïve?
He held tight to the fact that all he had to do was pick up Stephanie and hold her hostage. Then he could disappear without a trace. But he needed time and money to do that. Now that he knew it was all a lie, a farce, they had changed their tune a little.
Was Anna's name even Anna? Was anything she had said true? The day on Skype when she had stretched and shown off a padded prosthetic under her shirt he had almost passed out. Before he could censor himself or think about what he was saying he had exploded in rage and accusation.
Giving up every single advantage the slip had given him. He was a fucking moron.
Pickens had been on the phone with him not even fifteen minutes later. Now that threats to his nonexistent child wouldn't work, something he couldn't even deal with right now, they had simply reminded him of what he had already done … things that would have him in prison, with absolutely no support from anyone – or dead, depending on who got a hold of him at Rangeman.
He had been led by the dick into a trap that he should have seen coming a mile away. He could have gone straight to Ranger or Tank and explained the whole situation and he knew they would have helped him. But he let his fear over the baby … fuck. Something deep inside him broke as he considered just how badly he had screwed up.
There would be no recovering from this. The best he could do was to disappear and start over somewhere. They were offering him hard money now that there wasn't any other incentive, well other than staying alive or out of prison. He wondered sometimes just what Ranger's mission was, how it could be important enough to go to this much trouble and expense, but he didn't really want to know. He'd give his left nut to go back to being blissfully ignorant about everything if it were possible.
He wasn't sure how they caught him, how they figured it out. It didn't really matter. He went quietly after he realized he wasn't going to get away. The level of rage coming from his brothers made his intestines shiver in fear, but he stayed stoic. He took the hits they dished out and answered what questions he could.
But now Ram, his friend, was here and asking why.
And he had no idea what to say.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed hearing from Benny and how he got sucked into this whole thing. He's just a man, not evil, only flawed like the rest of us. One bad decision isn't the end, but you have to recognize it and fix it - not continue to make more bad decisions. I think I pity him more than anything.