DISCLAIMER: Story is fiction. None of it's true. Not even the imaginary lives I've created for the celebrities. So don't go running to the magazines to sell the story that Justin, Lance, Jc are really gay. It would be a lie. And we don't want you telling lies now do we. Besides, I would hate to sick Gabriel on all of you.
Only one chapter left. I apologize to everyone who has waited patiently for this chapter and the conclusion of this story. But I was having trouble with the story unfolding properly. Even now I am not that happy with this chapter but one can only re-write it so many times before all magic is lost. Anyway, here is my feeble attempt at chapter nineteen.
CHAPTER NINETEEN: WHO'S THE ONE
As Gabriel scanned the crowd, searching for any sign of his target, his mobile phone started ringing. Still searching for the unnamed man, he answered the phone without looking at the caller ID.
"Yeah, this is Gabriel." He stated harshly.
"My my, the game's almost over Gabriel."
"Well if it's not my old friend from this morning." Gabriel taunted. "How's you're face feeling?"
Unaffected, the man continued, "Splendid, you hit like a girl. But then you always did." The man started laughing, a teasing laugh that spoke of secrets long passed, secrets long held in confidence.
Whatever the laugh meant, it scratched on the edges of Gabriel's memories, taunting him, showing him blurred visions of times long past. He knew that laugh but he couldn't pinpoint from where. Maybe in his army days, maybe later on during his mercenary days, but definitely a laugh he heard before. Maybe even longer that that, maybe a laugh from his childhood. Just when he thought he had something, the memory slid away from him.
Shaking off the feeling, Gabriel asked, "So, what do I owe the pleasure of this call?"
"I once said I was you're guardian angel." The man stated quickly.
"I find that hard to believe." Gabriel snorted, as he made his way slowly down the packed corridor.
"You were always the slow one. Let's see if I can jog you're memory." The man said with a laugh. "A few days ago, someone took a shot at you in you're parking garage."
"Yeah, I owe you for that one. Hell, with shooting like that, I'm not that worried about you shooting at the Senator. You'll probably end up missing anyway." Gabriel said lightly, approaching the only possible place the man could've ducked into. It was an access corridor, leading deep into the maze of tunnels underneath the stadium seats. Opening the door cautiously, he quickly stepped inside and darted into the shadows. The faint light reflecting off his 9mm clenched in his fist.
"Now it all makes sense." The man replied quietly, so quietly that Gabriel wasn't sure he heard the statement. "I guess I really am you're guardian angel. But then I really couldn't let him kill you could I."
Gabriel had been stalking quietly in the shadows, hoping for any sound to give a clue at where the man was hiding. But hearing that, he stopped and said, "Saved him from shooting me. Who? Who did you save me from?"
Ignoring the question, the man continued, "Do you have any idea how long I've searched for you, Gabriel Foster? I've studied every move you've made for the last five years. You can say I'm in awe of you're impressive record. Never once have you failed to fulfill a contract. Without any moral principles, you'd kill anyone for the right price."
Gabriel was listening intently, not really at what the man was saying but at something in the background, a slight tapping noise that he could now hear through the phone and through his other ear. He knew he was approaching the man's hiding place, gripping his gun tighter, he crouched down and slightly continued forward, letting the man ramble on in his ear.
"Starting with you're first kill in Africa, I painstakingly traced you around the globe. Slowly unraveling the many false identities, the fake trails, the meticulously way you cover you're tracks. Let me say, as one professional to another, you are by far the best I've ever seen." The man said, admiration unmasked in his voice. "Almost as good as me."
Chuckling, Gabriel replied softly, "We'll see about that."
"Then you can image my surprise when I traced you back to Harrisburg and found out that Robert, Mehment's right hand man is Gabriel Cain, aka Gabriel Foster, aka Tommy Cain." The man said slowly, deliberately, the one name Gabriel hadn't uttered in more than five years. His real name.
"I must admit." Gabriel said with awe in his voice. "You are good. I thought I pretty much destroyed all evidence that Tommy ever existed."
"You missed one thing." The man said quietly.
"You can bet I won't miss a second time." Gabriel stated, the threat obvious.
The man replied so softly, he had to be whispering, "I made him miss the other day in the parking garage. Even when I knew what kind of man you are. I made him miss. Even when I thought you were after the Senator, I made him miss. Even when I knew that I might have to put you between my sights just like you are right now."
Gabriel darted to one side, rolling behind a pillar that held up the stands above them. A bullet ricochet off the pillar, just inches from where he stood just seconds earlier.
In his ear, the man continued, "Just wanted to let you know that I saw you, it wasn't supposed to hit you. Just like that day in the parking garage, I stopped him."
Realization dawned on him. This wasn't the man he was searching for, his unknown assassin. Holstering his weapon, Gabriel stood out in the center of the corridor, facing the direction the bullet had come from. "Are you going to tell me who?"
The man stepped out from the shadows, a silenced pistol in his fist. He was still wearing the same leather coat and the hat still hid his face from Gabriel's gaze. Hanging up the phone, the man stated calmly, "I just figured it all out just now. But I have one question for you?"
Gabriel nodded, his heart pounding as he stared at the man intently. "Why did you turn down the job?"
Gabriel smiled briefly, an easy question to answer. Stepping a half-step forward, he replied, "Let's just say I'm retired and leave it at that."
"That's good to hear. Cause frankly I'm tired of chasing you." The man said warmly. Then turning more serious, he added, "And I really don't think I could shoot you anyway. But then, I'm not someone masquerading as you're friend while still plotting against you either."
Everything hit him at once, the un-paid bills, the nervous posturing, and the blatant admission over dinner, the curious questions, everything pointed to him. No wonder he couldn't find any trace of another hitter, nothing in the normal channels. No wonder he was always a step behind. He had been played for a sucker from the beginning, another patsy.
"Who are you?" Gabriel asked the man standing in front of him, striding closer.
The man stepped back into the shadows and replied, "It's not the right time for us to meet. But soon Gabriel, very soon I'll find you again, hopefully we'll be on the same side." And with that, the man disappeared in the darkness.
Gabriel swore and turned around. Running as fast as he could, he reached for his radio, struggling to sound coherent, he shouted out, "Station Four, come in."
Gabriel flew through the door, knocking down several girls as they walked down the corridor. Without bothering to apologize, he started running for nearest sets of stairs. He ran up the stairs two at time, running over anyone that got in this path. Stopping at the top of the stairs, he reached in his pocket for his mobile phone and dialed Scott's number.
Scott answered immediately, "Gab..."
Gabriel cut him off by saying, "Look up the blueprints for the stadium, I need to find a way to the top of the stadium. There's a catwalk up there, I need the nearest access way to that catwalk, I'm in..." He looked around at the seats and got his position, "Section Nine, seat 1203."
Scott interjected, "Gabe, I know who it is."
"So do I. You're too late." Gabriel spat, anger at his own stupidity.
He could hear Scott typing frantically in the background, his powerful computer accessing the information at a tremendous rate. "Give me a second."
"I don't have a fucking second." Gabriel stated gruffly.
"Okay, go back to the main corridor." Scott instructed as Gabriel started running back down the stairs.
"Go left about two hundred yards, there should be a door marked electric access." Scott instructed.
Gabriel ran at full speed. Seeing the door, he crashed through it, "Now where."
"Look above you, there should be a large pipe, three inches in diameter running down the corridor."
"Follow it. You should go for five hundred yards or so till you come to a panel that says roof access." Scott stated calmly, peering at the screen.
Gabriel ran in the dimly lit corridor. His only thought on his prey somewhere high above him. For the first time in three days, his mind was clear. Gone was the hesitation of earlier, the feeling of helplessness was replaced by a dispassionate rage that coursed through him. He could feel his prey in his grasp. As long as he wasn't too late.
As he reached the roof access, he was breathing heavy and had a dull ache in his left side. Panting loudly he stated, "I'm at he roof access."
"Good" Scott sighed loudly. "Now turn around. Directly behind you should be a ladder going up. Go up till you reach the catwalk."
"Perfect." Gabriel stated. "Gotta go."
"Good luck." Scott started to say before the line went dead. "You're going to need it."
Gabriel shoved the phone in his pocket and started up the ladder.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lonnie was still hesitant even as he rode the elevator to the top floor. He had been tailing Gabriel the whole evening, a feat hard to do for a three hundred pound black man. But Gabriel was so intent on his own target, he never once looked back. To say the conversation between Gabriel and the mystery man was confusing would be an understatement. Most of what was said he still couldn't understand or even begin to have a clue about. But after Gabriel went running up the hallway, right by Lonnie's hiding space, the mystery man appeared suddenly beside him, grabbing him tightly by the throat, digging his silenced pistol in his head. That conversation turned out to be even more confusing then the one the man had with Gabriel. The man told him the only way to help Gabriel would be to take the elevator to the top floor and find a small electric passageway that led to the catwalk high above the crowd. How the man knew the assassin was perched on the catwalk was anybodies guess? Or how the man knew who he was much less that he was a friend. But something about the man made Lonnie trust him, much in the way Gabriel did. Something about the way they both stared intently at him in the same way. Even their eyes were the same, blue and piercing. They were the same height, roughly the same build; both had commanding presence about them. Both had—then it hit him. He began to smile briefly as the elevator doors opened, revealing an empty hallway.
Cocking his pistol, Lonnie crept silently down the corridor, his eyes searching for the access way. After a few minutes, the big man found the panel, opening the door slowly, he peered out. The noise from the concert was deafening, even at this height. Instantly recognizing the song the boys were singing, he knew the concert was almost over. They had only a few minutes before the curtain rose.
The access way was small and he tore his pants struggling to get through the space. With a grunt he fell to the metal catwalk, cutting his elbow in the process. Swearing silently, he headed out on the catwalk, his eyes straining in the darkness to see anyone. He had made a promise to Justin that he had every intention of keeping.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
High above the concert floor Tom Pavone crouched on the metal catwalk, a high powered sniper rifle pushed snuggly against his shoulder. A sadistic smile played across his pudgy face as he peered through his night vision scope. Using the glow of the special paint he covered the Senator's box with earlier that day, he zeroed in on the smiling face of the Senator. One shot, one kill. One shot, forty million dollars richer. Everything he had worked so hard for was about to come to fruition. He almost wished he could see Gabriel's face when the Senator was erased. The look of shock would be payment enough. To think that Tom Pavone had outwitted the best of the best. A has been, a wash-up ex-Special Forces Sergeant had outplayed everyone. In the beginning, he had felt a twinge of guilt at the betrayal of his oldest friend, but that had changed after he saw how foolish Gabriel had become. Mehment had been right; Gabriel was a liability that needed to be eradicated. It just wouldn't do for assassins to start having morals. What would that do to international relations? And if Gabriel had to die, who if not his best friend should be the one to retire him?
But for all his high delusions, Tom knew deep down inside he was jealous of Gabriel. Jealous of the fame he earned, the money he had amassed, and the lifestyle he enjoyed. He deserved some of that. After all, he had taught Gabriel almost everything he knew. He groomed the boy from the start, pushed him harder than the others to bring out his unique talents. And how did Gabriel repay him? He flaunted his exploits while denying any credit. Acting like he was better than everyone else. But that would change after tonight. The world would know that a new player was in town. They would all know after tonight, he would make sure the name Tom Pavone was whispered around the world in hushed conversations. Then he would finally have the fame and the money that he deserved. Maybe after tonight he would get a new wife as well. With his new found fortune, he deserved the best woman, not some drunken whore that flirted endlessly with everyone.
Tom growled as he thought of his wife. Wiping the sweat that poured into his eyes, he shook his head to clear away the thoughts. He couldn't get excited. Not yet, not until the Senator and Gabriel was dead. Then he would his just rewards. Breathing out deeply, he held his breath as he zeroed in on the Senator's smiling face. His finger tensed as he began to squeeze.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Gabriel had reached the top of the ladder after a few minutes. He was covered in sweat, the confines of the stadium mixed with thousands of people along with his run almost made the top of the building unbearable. When his feet landed on the metal catwalk, he paused briefly to remove his guard jacket he had been wearing. Throwing the jacket down, he took off his cap, letting his long blonde hair free. With his 9mm in his fist, he started walking down the catwalk. As he peered down at the floor of the stadium, he tried to get his bearings on where the Senator's box was located. But the lights along with the noise from the crowd and the heat made thinking difficult. Pushing the sweaty strains of hair from his eyes, he finally got a fix on the Senator's box. Directly in front of him about a thousand yards out. Having trouble seeing anything but shadows of shadows, he quickened his pace, hoping that he wasn't too late.
Though he was breathing hard, his mind was clear as he crept to where he thought the best place for a sniper to nest. Something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. Whirling around he peered into the darkness. Once again his instincts saved him. Diving hard to the left, he heard the ricochet of the bullet off the catwalk. Guessing from where the shot came from, he shot off a few rounds as he darted for the small safety of a metal beam criss-crossing the stadium.
From somewhere in the distance, he heard a laugh echoing off the roof. Or maybe it was from the concert below. He couldn't be sure but something told him Tom was somewhere in front of him. Remembering the walkie-talkie, he turned it on and said softly, "Station Four, come in."
But Tom didn't answer him. He really didn't expect the big man too but you could always hope. He peered around the beam and another bullet almost took off his ear. He pulled back, cursing softly as he tried inching the other way. Again a near miss and another sadistic laugh.
"Fuck." He screamed out in anger. Figuring Tom had a night vision scope, he knew it was only a matter of time before Tom changed positions and then it would all be over. Smiling briefly, he started wrapping his mind around a plan. A foolish one but then Tom was rusty, he hadn't been in the game for at least five years. Maybe, just maybe it would work.
Peeking around the beam again, he waited till the shot passed his head. Then stepping out boldly, he brought up his hands, his twin 9mm's blazing at Tom's hiding place. Running as fast as he could, he dived behind a large electric box. He started to smile when he heard Tom cry out in pain. Quickly reloading, he took a deep breath and started sprinting towards the next intersection of the catwalk, moving closer to where he thought Tom might be. Bullets crashed around him as he ran. Tom had given up on the rifle and was firing his pistol blindly in the darkness.
"I see you Gabriel." Tom yelled out, laughing gleefully as he shot off a couple of rounds. "Glad you could make it to the party."
Gabriel winced as a bullet passed by so closely it actually broke the skin on his right arm. "I can see your aim hasn't improved over the years." Gabriel called out, reloading as crouched down.
"Step out into the open and we'll see about that." Tom cackled out.
"Like in the parking garage." Gabriel shot out another few rounds. "I can't believe I fell for that."
Tom answered with a hail of bullets. Gabriel looked down briefly at the crowd. Seeing no one in panic, he hoped that Tom hadn't shot the Senator yet. Now if only he could stop the big man before anyone down there looks up and sees the report from the pistols.
Suddenly Tom yelled out, "You mother fucker..."
Gabriel heard shot ring out and then a grunt followed by. Standing up, he saw Tom struggling with something as big as a house. Tom had both hands wrapped around his sniper rifle and was fighting for control with someone. He took off running down the catwalk. His eyes widened as he approached the two men. In the faint light he could just make out Lonnie's eyes as he fought for his life. Gabriel called out, "It's over Tom. Give it up."
Tom turned his head and saw Gabriel approaching, a pistol clenched in his fist. Screaming out in a rage, he kicked out with his foot, his toe digging into the bullet wound on Lonnie's leg. The black man screamed out in pain. Tom took advantage of the big man's temporarily loss of balance. Twisting the sniper rifle hard, he allowed Lonnie's momentum to carry him over the side of the catwalk. Lonnie let go of the rifle and just barely caught the last rail in his massive fist. The moment Gabriel saw Lonnie go over, he started firing. Tom twisted as a bullet tore through his shoulder. With surprising speed, Tom took off running.
Gabriel reached the spot where Lonnie was dangling from the catwalk. Dropping his pistols, he reached out to the man saying, "Jesus, where the fuck did you come from?"
"Long story." Lonnie grunted his face a mask of pain. The veins in his forehead were sticking out as he struggled to keep his grip. "Care to give me a hand." He spat out through clenched teeth.
"Gladly." Gabriel said, smiling despite himself. Reaching down, he wrapped his hand around the thick belt surrounding the man's waist. Counting out to three, he hauled the big man up to the safety of the railing. They both collapsed, their chests heaving. Gabriel clapped the man on the shoulder and asked, "How bad is that?" Pointing to the blood flowing down Lonnie's leg.
Lonnie ripped open the pants and examined the wound. After he took off his belt and wrapped it around his leg, he answered, "It went threw and threw. I'll live."
Gabriel turned on his walkie-talkie and shouted out, "Station One. Come in."
"Station one, go ahead."
Giving the walkie-talkie to the bodyguard, he said, "I won't pretend I know why you're up here. But if you ever need anything, I'll be there. I owe you."
"What do I tell them?" Lonnie asked, his black eyes shining brightly. "How do I explain this?" He asked, pointing to his leg.
"The truth." Gabriel said with a smile. "You caught someone trying to kill the Senator and he shot you. Who knows, you might get an award or something out of it."
Lonnie laughed weakly and asked, "What about you?"
"I have an old friend to see." Gabriel stated flatly, picking up his guns. "Remember when I said you only win if you're alive at the end of the day."
"One of us dies tonight." Gabriel turned his back and started running in the direction Tom had disappeared.
Lonnie through the walkie-talkie down and pulled himself. Resting against the catwalk, he pulled his mobile phone from his pocket. Dialing a number, he waited till someone picked up before saying, "This is Lonnie. Get Doctor Phelps and escort him to elevator five, top floor. Tell him I've been shot and I'm losing blood fairly quickly. And whatever you do, keep this quiet. No ones to know, this is code blue." Lonnie put the phone back in his pocket and limped towards the access way. Hoping he didn't pass out before he got there, he kept his eyes focused on his destination.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
To Be Concluded In Chapter Twenty
As usual, you can email me at Wolfflyer26@Yahoo.com for any questions comments or complaints. All emails will be answered promptly.
Copyright 2003 Glacier Boy