HUMAN TARGET: FINDING THE PERFECT RING
Written by Diane N. Tran (tranimation), with Abri Isgrig (Lady Jekyll)
Wow, a Human Target pastiche! It's been a long, long while, hasn't it? This is based on an RP, one of of the many RPs we've been meaning to place in a story-format, by myself and my friend Abri Isgrig (Lady Jekyll) and, as usual, thank-yous to our mutual friend Liz Hartley (weapon13whitefang) for assisting with spelling and grammaticals, as our Grammar Nazi. In our own take of the Human Target universe, we created the names "Harrison" for Guerrero and "Junior" for Chance, as the "original" identities of the characters back in their mercenary/assassin days. We believed the character of Guerrero went by several identities when he worked with the Old Man and that "John 'Jack' Alexander Harrison" was his "full legal name" because it was the most frightfully boring name we could give him — a kind of "John Doe" of Norman Rockwell-esque working-class Americana. The name "Junior," of course, is established in the series itself. The character of Lucille "Lucy" Joubert (or Lucretiza "Lucy" Alighieri), his long-time girlfriend and biological daughter of Old Man Joubert, always played an intricate part in Guerrero's life — and Chance's, too, in an extent.
This story takes well before the events of the series while the characters were still under the employment of the Old Man.
Synopsis: Guerrero (Harrison) confesses to Chance (Junior) that he plans to pop the question to the daughter of the Old Man. Canonical: Romance/Friendship: Complete. Rated T for brief violence.
Human Target © DC Comics/Fox
Lucille "Lucretiza 'Lucy' Alighieri" Joubert © Abri Isgrig/Diane N. Tran
Junior gave a look of utter dismay, as he got off the phone with Old Man to confirm that the target was eliminated, watching his partner-in-crime and sworn brother lift the hand of a female corpse to examine a large ring upon her bloody finger.
"Sweet ice," said Harrison, as he pulled the expensive band off the woman's cold digit, cleaning the blood off with her sleeve, and admired it under the light.
It was an oval-cut sapphire of the deepest blue with fourteen petal-like diamonds surrounding it on a band of white gold. It was a work of art.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"She doesn't need it anymore, bro," his friend glanced at him without a tinge of remorse or guilt.
"Maybe not, but it's sick all the same," flinched Junior, as he threw a bag of weapons over his shoulder. "I'd expect this sort of thing from Baptiste, not you."
"Didn't take it for myself, dude. Lucy would like it."
The blonde rolled his eyes with a sarcastic scoff. "Oh, yeah, blood diamonds for your common-law wife. Lovely, really. Romantic, in a creepy sort of way."
"She might not be common-law anymore, bro," the long-haired man pocketed the ring, walking out the building with his companion. "Been givin' real thought about poppin' the question."
"Here we go again," Junior threw his hands in his air, as he climbed into the passenger side of their non-descript black car. "I've heard that before. You've been saying that for years and, every time, you chicken out."
Frowning at the sting of his words, Harrison turned the ignition and shifted gears. "It's all about finding the right ring, dude."
"Uh-huh, suuuure it is. And here I thought it was about your fear of commitment."
"Like your fear of attachment?"
Hissing a bit of cold air between a pair of clenched teeth, Junior felt zinged. He admitted that he had bailed on Maria Diego when she needed him the most. She got too close. She got under his skin. She had become a liability to him — and there wasn't a day he didn't regret the decision, but it was better this way, or so he figured.
"I—I needed some time," Junior mumbled belatedly, trying to find his words, as if in slow motion, "to—to get my thoughts together."
"In Hong Kong?"
Junior fell silent for an uncomfortable moment. "What's it to you?" pushing his sunglasses further up his nose to hide his pained expression. "I'm a little afraid to ask what you've been doing for those six months."
"Payin' the bills, washin' the car, beatin' up thugs, groceries, spring cleaning," Harrison smirked secretly, as he watched the road. "That sort of thing."
The blonde shook his head with a half-smirk. "So, sex, sex, and more sex with Lucy, huh? Does she even ask you where you get her, uh—so-called 'gifts' from?"
"No, it's all from the heart, dude."
"Yeah, the ones no longer beating. I mean, that's just sick! What if that woman's got kids, man?"
Harrison gave a cruel laugh. "You really think some shark like that would give his own wife a ring like this for a lukewarm tumble in bed for a week when he can give this trinket his secretary and get blowjobs for life? This little ring is chump change to him, dude. He practically threw it away."
"It wouldn't kill you to, you know, buy one."
His long-haired companion leaned back in the driver's seat, raising his characteristically dubious left eyebrow, before responding matter-of-factly: "Dude, why would buy one when I can steal it?"
Junior couldn't help by chuckle back: "So, you're a cheap bastard, as well as needing a good kick in the head."
"Didn't mean it like that, bro," rolling his steel blue eyes beneath his long hair. "I'd buy her a diamond mine, if she wanted one, but that's not the point. Seriously, what do you give a woman that has everything?"
"I'd say happiness, but you can't buy that — unless you're at a brothel."
His thick brow furrowed. He didn't quite like where this exchange was going. "Contrary on what you're thinking right now, dude, I've never cheated on her once."
"You came close to it, if memory serves."
"Your memory's rusty, Junior."
The blonde leaned back on the passenger's seat and began to count off the list on each finger: "What about that geisha in Osaka?"
"That was years ago. She was the re-bound chick. Besides, I chose Lucy over her anyway."
"That nun in Montreal?"
"I killed her with fire; I didn't fuck her."
"That stripper with the tiara?"
"Paid her for a show, not sex."
"That tribal princess in South Africa."
"She dug me, but you know very well nothing happened."
Junior rolled his shoulders behind his back in the memory. "Yeah, well, just saying you have a wandering eye, Jack. You undress every woman you meet and you're not subtle about it. Marriage won't stop that."
"Fine," Harrison sighed, rolling his eyes. "So, I'm human, I admit that, but that doesn't mean I cheat."
Junior raised his hands defensively with a teasing smile. "Okay, okay, just lookin' out for my 'little sister' and my best friend, you know."
"Just a word of advice, dude," continued the long-haired mercenary, as he paused at a light and signaled, "you need to make Maria official, or you're gonna lose her for good."
Disliking the fact that the conversation went back to him, the blonde turned his head and stared aimlessly out the window. "Thought you didn't like her," he murmured below a whisper.
"I don't, but I wasn't the one bangin' her."
"I just can't afford to, Jack," Junior replied; "Not in this line of work."
Harrison was quiet for half a moment and continued, rolling the ring thoughtfully with a tinge of worry in his face: "Then maybe I shouldn't propose to Lucy. Always worried I'd marry her only to make her a widow the next day."
"Hold on a second," Junior interrupted, snapping his head toward him, in a kind of revelation he never thought of before. "Are you worried she'd say no, or are you worried she'd say yes?"
Harrison didn't say a word, didn't give a descript expression, didn't even betray a thought at the corner of his eye. He was silent as a corpse and just as unreadable — and Junior really could not blame him for that.
Sneaking around with Old Man's daughter in his own home was insanity enough. Junior warned Harrison not to pursue Lucy. Admittedly, even he wasn't sure about him. He wasn't nicknamed "Mad Dog" Harrison without reason. He had a certain reputation for getting jobs done and not in the prettiest ways either. One could feel the earth tremble if his name was even mentioned, particularly if he used That-Other-Name. And she was his "sister," after all — of sorts.
Nevertheless, after all the warnings and talkings, even a small fist fight, failed to keep them away, he thought it best to back off and kept quiet for it was no business of his; however, it was Julian Baptiste, the often-referred "good son," the one the Old Man favoured for his daughter and (in his usual way) manipulated them together, who ratted his "mate" out. And the Old Man took his wrath out on his "Mad Dog" in the worse possible way — and he had the scars, many of them deeper than others, to prove it.
A lesser man would have fled with his tail between his legs after everything he suffered and Junior wouldn't have blamed him — if anything, he would have helped him — because he, too, would have fled. No woman was worth that kind of trouble — and yet Harrison was not a lesser man. He wasn't a man who ran from anything or anyone. He stood his ground, his head high, bruised but not broken, with Lucy, his rock, at his side in defiance before the Old Man. To this day, Junior is still uncertain if the Old Man was impressed by this show, or simply succumbed to her daughter's wishes. The only living person in the world who could possibly manipulate Old Man Joubert was another Joubert.
Gathering his thoughts, Junior turned back to the car window before he broke the awkward silence: "You know, Jack, I envy you."
"Envy?" Harrison raised a single eyebrow with a tone that made his friend smirk in amusement. "Of me, dude?"
"You heard me. I don't even think you realize how lucky you are, Jack. You've got what I'll never have."
"You lost me, bro."
"I'm talking about Lucy. She's a woman who'll stick by you no matter what. You're not walking this earth alone all the time. You have a good thing going for you."
"It hasn't been easy."
"It never is."
"It's worth it in the end."
"I'll never know."
"You will. And you won't be ready for it when it comes, but you'll pull through, dude. I know it."
Junior gave a ridiculous scoff. "I can't believe I'm getting relationship advice from you."
Harrison stopped the car in front of a non-descript house on an equally non-descript street with a shrug. "Stranger things have happened. Call me if you need me, bro."
"See ya, man," Junior patted himself down to check he had everything before bumping his fist against his friend's. "Keep me updated."
The corner of his moustache twisted into a light smirk and he gave a curt nod. As he drove off, he drew the ring out from his pocket and rolled the precious set of stone and metal around his course fingertip wistfully, watching the sunlight refract and shine along the delicate cut faces of the gemstones. Pulling his cellular phone from the opposite pocket, he pressed the first number with his thumb and held it to his ear. A woman's voice answered.
"Hey, gorgeous, I'm headin' back. Need anything?"
"No, but your dinner's getting cold."
"Oh, well, we wouldn't want that, would we?" he teased. "By the way, I have a surprise to give you."
"Do you?" there was a quaint suspicion in her tone. "You know it's never a surprise when you call it one."
The assassin let out a chuckle. "Maybe. It's just a little something I picked up."
"Is it suddenly going to grow legs and go missing before you get here?"
"You're not jumping to conclusions before I get there, are you?"
"Does it sound like I am?" she flirted sweetly. He could imagine her smirk transfer from the other side of the line to his. "It's just whenever you say you have a surprise, things have a habit of going missing."
"I better hurry along then. Could be a curse."
"Perhaps you should see a witch doctor."
"I'd rather just see you, gorgeous."
"I'll be here."
He smiled, tapping the ring on his finger loosely upon the wheel before slipping it back into the safety of his pocket. "See ya soon then."