Pro Bono

Someone said something about a hitman payment plan and I went “oh no I need to write a thing,” and this was born.

CW: violence, murder, allusions past assault/trauma (one day I’ll write Dan’s tragic backstory TM but today is not that day)

Señor, señor – por favor-“

Dan puts his best confused tourist face on. “Sorry, I don’t-“

Te vi. Señor, por favor, tienes que ayudarme.”

He swallows. “Doña, no sé quién piensas que soy, pero no soy nadie. Soy solamente un repartidor, y-“

“Mataste El Flaco.”

That makes him freeze. Because he had. He’d come here at the behest of a businessman to handle a gang leader who’d gotten out of hand, and that’s what he’d done. He was just on his way to drop off the confirmation when she’d stopped him.

Dan looks at her properly, something he hadn’t done before now because it attracts attention, and he already stands out. She’s a girl. A child. No more than seventeen or eighteen, and clearly terrified.

Por favor,” she whispers, practically sobbing. “No puedo pagarte pero si me ayudas-“ she sniffs and starts to unbutton the front of her dress.

“Woah, shit, no you don’t have to-” he holds out a hand, and thankfully the girl stops. He scrubs a hand over his face and turns in a slow circle, surveying the walled yard around them. He didn’t see anyone, but that didn’t mean anything.

The tears didn’t mean anything.

Her offer didn’t mean anything.

It all could be a trap.

Dan takes a breath and says, “No hablamos aquí. A la catedral, después del anochecer.”

At least then if it is a trap, his odds will be better.

The girl sniffles again and nods, so Dan nods back. He takes a step back and turns to the double doors of the house, his attention gone into overdrive after the unexpected conversation. Something isn’t right, but he can’t pinpoint what.

A woman answers the door – a housekeeper, presumably – and accepts the envelope without question. It isn’t his only collateral. He has backup confirmation, just in case, but Dan doesn’t anticipate any issues, at least on this front.

He’s pretty sure he doesn’t blink the whole way back to his hotel room, the rush of his own pulse a constant, thundering undercurrent to the sounds of the city. Nothing happens. Dan closes the door and flips the safety latch, not that it’ll do more than buy him a few seconds if anyone does come.

But no one does. Nothing happens and Dan is, very possibly, the most anxious he’s been in his life. All because, what? Some teenage girl said she saw him kill a criminal?

No. Because she saw him, and instead of anything else asked him for help. Because for however afraid she had to have been of him, she’d been ready to offer herself up in exchange for-

Dan sits, swallowing back the wave of nausea. He remembers what it feels like. That sort of desperation.

Assuming, of course, that she wasn’t faking it. That he wasn’t about to walk into something very, very bad.

He can’t, of course, but he wants to call Jack.

Instead, he just waits. It’s almost time when his phone buzzes. A weird part of his mind expects it to be her, but of course that’s ridiculous. But no. It’s just Sr. Marin, confirming that the rest of money has been transferred.

Breathing a sigh, Dan pulls up his receiving account. There it is. He sets up the series of transfers that will eventually take the money to him, then purges the messages from his phone. Gael Marin is not the sort of man to expect a response, nor does Dan expect to hear from him again.

God, he wants to call Jack. Or better, to be on his way home. But either way, his flight isn’t until tomorrow morning because that’s just how it worked out, so it’s not like he can go any sooner anyways.

Eventually, he makes himself get up and change into something relatively nondescript. It isn’t like he’d brought a lot with him. It’ll do, though.

He releases the magazine from the gun he’d bought when he arrived, counts the bullets, puts it back in, then slides the gun back into the concealed holster at his hip.

Takes a breath.

Touches the knife at his ankle and the other one on his opposite hip. The garotte on his wrist – disguised as a bracelet – that he’d received as a strange but useful birthday present.

Dan closes his eyes and forces everything out of his head. Inhales, and opens his eyes to a quiet calm.

The air outside is warm and humid, and he’s a tourist so he frowns at it. Plucks at his ramp shirt and smiles awkwardly at the people he passes.

When he reaches the church, he pulls out his phone and takes a few pictures, making sure to be innocently but undeniably in the way. He smiles some more and nods when people brush past him.

He’ll keep the pictures, at least until he gets a chance to show Jack. Maybe at some point he can bring him back down here.

“Looking for company, or you are only interested in church?” The heavily-accented question makes him turn, curious but not panicked.

It’s her, although she seems entirely different from the girl he’d encountered earlier. For a moment, Dan thinks he’s been played, but the fleeting, genuine little smile she gives him holds the same fear as before.

“Actually I was about to go get a drink, if you’d care to join me?”

The smile she gives him is as wicked as it is plastic, and she takes his arm with a practiced lack of hesitation.

“You are American?”

Dan nods. “Yo soy de Kentucky.”

She giggles appropriately to his flat Spanish, her nose crinkling. “Kentucky,” she echoes, mocking him playfully. “I do not know where is.”

“No es importante. Y tú… ¿vives aquí?”

The girl laughs again, although this one seems a bit more genuine. Good. Whatever conversation they’re going to have will be easier if she opens up. “Si, por todo mí vida. Mi papá fue- como se dice en inglés, a teacher? Crecí cerca de la universidad,” she says, nodding in the direction of the university.

And as far as Dan can tell, it’s true. The words flow too easily, too naturally, for it to be a lie unless it’s one she uses regularly.

“Y tú? Eres un… estudiante?” he says, fumbling the words a bit on purpose.

This time, her smile goes a little sad. “No, señor. We drink here, ok? I show you real Barranquilla.” She points at a little place across the street from them and Dan nods.

The place is just busy enough. The bartender seems to know Dan’s new companion, but there’s not much to be done about that. She takes him to a table in the back, out of the way but inconspicuously so.

In the first real surprise of the night, they both go for the seat in the corner. Dan cocks his head but lets her have it, angling his own chair slightly so he can at least sit with his back to the plaster.

A server not much older than the girl across from him sets a glass down in front of her, then says, “What can I bring you, jefe?”

“Café y agua?”

She gives him a strange look but nods and leaves.

You come here often?” he asks quietly.

My mother used to work here.”

“I see. And are you going to tell me why you wanted to talk to me, miss…?”


He fights the urge to laugh, not because it’s funny but because something in it – in the fact that that’s her name – slides right through his self control and sinks its hooks into some human part of him.

And like I already told you, I need your help. Please. I don’t have any money, but I am begging you. I will do anything.”

This makes him frown, although he pulls a polite smile back on when the server delivers his drinks. He picks up the coffee and says, “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on and why you think I can help.”

Of course, he almost immediately wishes he hadn’t. The horrible, selfish part of himself wishes he’d just stayed in his hotel room. Taken a shower, double checked his bag, and gone to bed early.

Por favor. No sé qué más hacer. No tengo nadie que pueda ayudarme,” Daniela concludes, once again with tears welling in the corners of her eyes.

He exhales a sigh and runs a hand over his head. Then he makes a consciously terrible decision and says, “Ok.”


Voy a hacerlo. Pero nunca hablemos. No te conozco. Y cuando salgo, vas a olvidar todo lo que ocurrió hoy.”

Daniela nods, her face far too serious for someone so young. Pulling out his wallet, Dan places enough to cover the bill on the table and walks out.

He mutters a string of curses under his breath and turns back toward his hotel room.

It takes him twenty minutes to wrap everything up. His flight is changed to one in the afternoon instead of the morning, the gun is cleaned so no trace evidence of anything will be found, and he’s changed and on his way out into the darkened streets once more.

There’s a distinct risk in returning to the same dealer he’d bought the gun from before, but he doesn’t have time to do things correctly. Right now, his best option – his only option – is to do this quickly and make it look like it was a revenge killing disguised as a mugging gone wrong.

Any slower, any cleaner, and he runs even more risks, all of them greater. Far too much for a free job done out of some strange sense of moral obligation.

Dan lays out his plan as he returns, once again, to his hotel room. He ignores the part of his mind that’s surprised that the door hasn’t been kicked in. That there aren’t men waiting for him in the hall, or even inside.

He doesn’t sleep. The one decent thing is that the coffee is at least good here, so it isn’t a chore to make more while he waits.

His mind feels like a live wire as he watches the clock change to 8am. It’s time.

Standing, he cracks his back, his neck, and his shoulder and smiles at the little voice in his head that sounds like Jack and makes fun of him for being an old man.

He puts on a pair of sunglasses as he steps out of the building and has a cigarette lit before he’s ten feet out of the door. Not in the mood for walking, Dan hails a cab and sits in silence as the driver chatters animatedly about the city, clearly not sure what to make of him.

The car stops a block down from his first destination. Dan pulls out his wallet, pays the man, and steps back into the heat.

As he walks, Dan slips back into a careful balance of arrogance and obliviousness, channeling every fratboy turned generic businessman he’s met in his life so that by the time he reaches the cafe, his target is already scoping him out as a mark.

He ducks into the alley, leaving his back turned as he fishes the pack of cigarettes from his pocket.

“You need a lighter, amigo?”

“Huh?” Dan grunts as he turns. “Oh, yeah thanks.”

Rather than taking the offered lighter, though, Dan grabs the man’s wrist and jerks him forward. Stunned silence overtakes the man for just long enough; Dan catches the man’s throat in his elbow, his other hand covering his mouth.

The seconds pass in the same strange, distant fashion that they always do for things like this, only to speed up instantly once the man goes still.

He quickly pulls his gloves on and plucks the key to the guy’s motorcycle from his pocket, then very carefully smudges bits of his fingerprints on the gun. After dragging the man further into the alley and positioning him against a dumpster, he exits the alley once more.

This time he moves quickly. Luckily, the bike is parked close and the man’s friends aren’t paying attention. There’s only so subtle one can be on a motorcycle, though; Dan starts it and immediately throws escaping notice out the window in favor of getting the fuck out.

The benefit of low-end criminals is that they’re easy. Easy to work with. Easy to outdo. And most importantly now, easy to use as a distraction.

Behind him, engines rumble and rev as the others try to catch up. Dan leads them on a chase, careful to maintain enough distance to disappear if they start shooting but simultaneously approaching his ultimate target. He pulls a bandana that matches those of the gang from under his shirt and over the lower half of his face as he nears the car; the others are closer now, yelling back and forth but still not shooting.

It’s almost too perfect.

Mask in place, he pulls the gun free.

There is a special art to shooting someone in a moving vehicle. It’s doubly true when it’s both parties. Dan is, to toot his own horn, very good at both. He fucking hates that that’s true, but there’s a reason he gets international calls to do… this.

Returning his attention to the road, Dan does a series of calculations that are now automatic: the time until the exit, the speed he needs to gain to draw even with the car, his lead on the others. And then, he goes.

In the span of a breath, he levels out beside the car, aims, and puts a bullet through Orlando Marin’s skull. The driver swerves, shocked, and he hears screams from inside the car. A child’s cries.

But there’s no time for that right now. Dan pulls off the ramp, leaving the other gang members behind. He disappears down a series of narrow roads until he finds a place to stop and check the bike over. Once he’s sure there’s no trace of himself, he returns to the cafe and drops it.

On the way back to the hotel, he loses the gun. That part is easy. He just chucks it in a dumpster – it might be found, but won’t lead to him. Probably won’t lead much of anywhere, especially in this part of the city.

When he reaches the hotel, Dan showers and changes into the same unremarkable, slightly ill-fitted suit he’d worn here. The sort that makes everyone look him over, their assumptions sliding into place before they ever even glance at him.

That’s when the exhaustion hits. He closes his eyes and tries to do the math. El Flaco had been a night job, and he hadn’t slept after. Dan checks his watch. It’s almost eleven, which means he has to be out of the room and that he’s been awake for something like thirty-six hours.

With a sigh that he stifles before it can become a yawn, Dan grabs his bag and leaves. The check-out process is quick and easy. In a matter of minutes, he’s once again outside in the humidity. This time, at least, attracting a cab is easy.

He’s allowed silence as the driver picks his way toward the airport; Dan doesn’t even bother to push him on the meter, glad for a few extra minutes in which he doesn’t have to do anything.

Fare paid, he steps into air conditioning and fishes his passport and wallet out. Only once he’s past security and waiting by the gate does he remember that he’d meant to get Jack coffee.

He frowns, unsure if it’s lack of sleep or something else that caused the slip.

A traitorous little voice says it’s that he was distracted. Asks what else he missed. But he didn’t. The job- both jobs were done without any real hiccups. He’s been paid and the money is moving without issue.

It’s fine.

Jack won’t mind. It wasn’t like he’d even asked for it. Dan had just planned to get some because he knew Jack would like it.

Dragging a hand over his face, he sighs and pulls his other phone out, turning it over in his hand. He won’t turn it on until he lands in Miami, as much as he wants to.

The next ten hours feel like days. He texts Jack to tell him he’ll be back later than planned and that he doesn’t have to wait up, but doesn’t get a reply before he’s in the air again.

It’s a struggle to keep his thoughts in check. To keep the past few days behind the wall where they belong and to hold off the desperate edge that’s been building in him since the night before.

He wants to be home. He needs to sleep, but that’s less of a motivator than the knowledge that Jack will be there, even if he’s already out for the night.

Dan unlocks the front door as quietly as possible, making a mental note to spray the hinges again. The floor creaks softly beneath his feet, the sound welcome and not all at once.

After toeing his shoes off, Dan makes his way upstairs. The bedroom door is open slightly – the hall light left on for him.

“You finally back?” Jack mumbles, clearly only barely awake.

“Yeah. Sorry I’m late,” he says, stepping around the door.

“Mm, c’mere.”

“I need to shower and-“

“I know, I know. But c’mere first?”

He smiles helplessly and crosses to Jack’s side of the bed. Jack’s mouth is soft and warm and still tastes a little like toothpaste. So he hadn’t been in bed long.

“I told you that you didn’t need to wait for me,” Dan says when they part. He makes himself straighten, even though the only thing he wants in the world right then is to crawl into bed beside Jack.

“Last I checked, you weren’t the boss of me. You ok? No blood or broken bones?”

Exhaling a weak laugh, he replies, “No blood or broken bones.”

“Didn’t answer the other part.”

Dan cards his fingers through Jack’s hair before he takes a step back. “Tired. I won’t be long.”

It isn’t a lie, but Jack will still know it for what it is: a silent request to let it go for now. He lets Dan go, although when Dan glances back toward the bed as he brushes his teeth, he sees Jack on his phone. Forcing himself to stay awake longer.

The shower is perfunctory. Just enough to get rid of the gross, slimy feeling from the plane and to allow him to sleep. He doesn’t even bother with clothes or the contents of his bag.

He’s barely in the bed before Jack is pulling him close, his skin warm from the blankets. Their mouths meet in a lazy, familiar greeting. There’s no other purpose to it – just an easy exchange that conveys a message as well as words.

Hi. I missed you. I’m glad you’re here.

The knot in Dan’s chest loosens slightly, then further at the brush of Jack’s lips on his forehead.

Dan can’t fight the yawn this time, but he reflexively smothers it in Jack’s chest.

“You not sleep the whole time you were gone?”

“Something like that,” he acknowledges. “I think it has officially been a couple of days at this point.”

“Couldn’t or can’t?”

It’s a question that makes him smile – a distinction only Jack would care to ask about, and one that no one has ever phrased that way. Not, of course, that many people know what he does for a living or that he has sporadic bouts of highly inconvenient insomnia, much less both.

“Couldn’t. But now I’m back and should be fine.”

Jack nods. “You need anything?”

He shakes his head slightly. “Not anymore.”


Dan smiles again.

“Oh. Two days of no sleep what it takes to make you sappy?” Jack teases.

“It was… things got weird. I was ready to be home.”

“Yeah,” he agrees, not pressing. “Me too.”

He doesn’t question what Jack means by that part; it’s just another one of those things that he understands perfectly now. Wherever he is, that’s home. And now he’s back.

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