“Okay. I’m back and ready for round two. I figured this time we can use water balloons to really get the point across.”
Domenica called out as she entered the house. Using her foot to close the front door behind herself. She walked further into the foyer and set the party store bags on the counter. Looking around the seemingly empty house she lightly furrowed in confusion and called out again.
“Raf? Hello? Raffy Taffy? RJ, answer please!”
Domenica walked into the house and wandered around the entire downstairs with no luck. Slightly getting worried Domenica raced up the steps and down the hall, checking in Rafael’s room, followed by his sister Sarafina’s room, and her own. Lastly, she went up to the attic and wandered around, looking in every direction she could.
“Rafael Jericho this is not funny! I told you jump-scares were overrated... hello?!”
Heading back down the steps, Domenica went over to the living and grabbed the phone. Dialing her son’s cellphone number, she waited for the line to connect before holding it up to her ear. Huffing out she placed a hand on her hip as she held the phone. Breathing out with a trill of her lips, all of a sudden she heard a faint noise coming from the couch.
“You cannot be serious right now.”
Dropping the phone, Domenica bent down and rummaged the couch cushions until she felt something hard and vibrating. Pulling out the small flip-phone from the couch she swore in Italian and hung up the cellphone. Rolling her eyes she went for the house phone again and dialed her sister’s number. Once again waiting until holding it up to her ear before thankfully hearing the other line pick up and her sister’s voice.
“Addie! Hey, um is Raf over at your place with Sarafina?.... Of course not... Okay well, start to panic because I can’t find him. I know this isn’t like him at all he usually hates to be alone... You check one part of the city, I’ll get the other. Call me back if you see him. Bye.”
Hanging up the phone Domenica yelled out a few swears in Italian again before bolting out the back door.
Quickly making her way out of the back yard and soon into the city again. She looked all over the place. Calling out her son’s name and trying to find any signs of him. Going over to neighbor’s and friend’s houses, asking if they might have seen Rafael wandering around anywhere.
All of it was very unlike Rafael. He was a very extroverted person, who despite being a little awkward at times, loved being around people. When really little he was terrified of the idea of ever being alone. Rafael was far from a loner and didn’t like to be by himself for long periods of time. None of it was making much sense to Domenica. Even if Rafael was upset more often than not she was the first person he would run to. Even when they had arguments with each other.
The two had a spat on the way home from hockey practice and Rafael stormed off. Usually, Domenica would give him some time then see him back at home. However, this time he never showed up and it was very out of character for the boy.
Heaving out a sigh Domenica stopped in her tracks and crossed her arms. Doing another look all around the location she knew she couldn’t give up. It was her son for Christ’s sake and she had a right to know where he was. Especially since he left in such a horrible mood.
After a few more moments Domenica started walking again but then stopped as soon as her phone went off. Reaching in her pocket, she pulled the device out and flipped it open.
“Hey... you did?! The south end of the park? Alright, I’m on my way right now!”
Hanging up the phone, Domenica quickly slid it back in her pocket and ran off to the park. Entering the gates and making her way over to the south end, where she was met with an all too familiar sight. Sitting alone was Rafael. All decked out in his hockey jersey and padding, head tilted down as he stared at his boots. Hair a little bit of a mess from his helmet and thick-framed eyeglasses rested on his plump face.
Sighing out in relief Domenica shook her head fondly and started slowly approaching her son. Moving cautiously she stepped over to the park bench and lightly tilted her head to the side and down a little to look at Rafael’s face. Seeing the sad look on her boy’s face stung a bit but Domenica knew she had to remain the strong one in this case. Keeping calm she walked up to Rafael and spoke out in a soft tone of voice.
“Hey you look pretty friendly, perhaps you could help a gal out? I’m looking for my son. Cute kid, tall, has the softest maple brown eyes that make ya just wanna hug him.”
Deep down Domenica wanted to lose it. She wanted to yell at him and tell him just how much he scared her just then. But she knew that it wasn’t exactly the right time then. She could tell he was upset and that he needed some amounts of comfort and to be greeted with open arms. So that’s what she did instead, she put the mom card on hold and was being a friend first. It might not have been the most recommended way to handle things in the parenting books but it was how she did things.
Heaving out a long-winded sigh. Rafael slowly pulled his head up and looked over to his mother.
“Be honest, on a scale of one to ten, how badly do you really want to lose it?”
“Forty-seven. What happened back there? That’s not the plan, kid. After one of us storms off, the other gives them space and then show up at the house later. I showed up, where were you?”
Rafael simply shrugged and looked back down at his boots and hockey stick. Pushing out a breath with a trill of his lips.
In all truth, Rafael wasn’t really sure where that sudden feeling came from. He knew it wasn’t like him, and that he usually ran /to/ people when he was upset. But out of nowhere, he got the urge to run away and to be alone. He was hardly ever alone and usually hated the feeling, but this time it just felt more cathartic.
However, he knew it wasn’t right to run off alone without telling his mother first. Or to at least leave a note like he often would do. But he felt pressured and even a little suffocated so he felt the need to get out and away from it all. From the pressure and even the people.
Planting the end of his hockey stick into the dirt, Rafael moved it so that it was standing upright and he leaned the side of his face on it as he looked back up to his mother. Lightly shrugging again.
“I’m sorry. I know I should’ve said something or left a note at least. But everything started getting too far out of control and I just... panicked I guess. I’m so sorry I scared you I never meant to do that. Honestly.”
Domenica’s eyes softened as she looked at Rafael. All of a sudden the feeling to lose all control was gone in an instant. She knew that whenever Rafael apologized, he meant it. Even though he apologizes for everything all the time. Her son was always genuine and would never apologize just to please his mother and to get her to drop it. That just wasn’t Rafael.
Heaving out another sigh she dropped her head a moment before looking back over to her son.
“Listen, I know you’re not just saying sorry to get me to shut up and drop it. That’s not you. /I’m/ sorry that things got so nuts that it spooked you, but for the love of everything that is purple, /please/ never do that to me again.”
Moving to sit on the bench beside Rafael. Domenica huffed a short breath and sat back a little. Crossing her arms as her back hit the support of the bench.
“So... wanna tell mommy why you felt the need to leave her?”
Rafael lightly smiled and breathed out a sigh. Moving his hockey stick from his face and set it down by his gym bag. He shrugged again and sat back as well.
“Alright, I guess that’s the least I could do. But really I just want you to know how so-“
“Ah! Stop right there, mister. Lemme tell you now, despite how you did it. No one should have to apologize for wanting to be alone.”
Rafael huffed out a small chuckle and nodded. Biting at his lower lip for a little before going on to tell his mother what happened.
Logging into the tracking device. Rafael tapped in the location and hit the X-ray setting. Waiting a few seconds he was able to see little red marks scattered all over the inside of the current location.
Brown eyes slightly widened as he looked at the screen and counted all of the red marks.
He whispered to himself before getting a ring through his earpiece. Lifting a hand he lightly tapped the device.
“This place is covered. I mean it makes you wonder what’s really holding this place together.”
Rafael said as he spoke through the earpiece.
Through the other end of the earpiece was Hayden. On the other end of the city, he was back at the main FBI base. Standing in the dark monitoring room with no windows and the only light source was from the cracks from the doorway. In front of Hayden were three very large flat screens. There was a map on one, a locator on the other, and the third screen held every profile of each High-Rank agent.
The moment he heard Rafael’s voice Hayden pulled up Rafael’s profile on the third screen and his location on the second. He watched the agent’s every move and able to point out everything that was surrounding him.
Hayden stepped back and looked over all three screens. Moving his eyes back and forth from one screen to the next he narrowed his eyes a little and zoomed in on Rafael’s current location. Stepped back again he crossed his arms and cleared his throat.
“Seems like not much to be honest. I’d avoid any explosives if I were you. There are billions worth throughout that place. Do your best to go unseen, got it?”
Rafael informed as he pushed himself back up to his feet, brushed himself off, and headed over to the back door.
Reaching for his holsters he pulled out one of his guns and shot at the door handle. Breaking it off he then kicked open the door and entered the mansion.
Moving slowly and quietly, Rafael looked around the empty place and was fascinated by all of the very expensive-looking furniture and decore surrounding him. The house was owned by a couple that was a part of a multi-million dollar drug cartel and the house was filled to the brim with all sorts of material.
Rafael only stayed in the back for a few more minutes before he entered a little further into the house. Going into the kitchen he rummaged through one of the drawers until he was able to find some type of hard object. Luckily he found a hammer, which was the perfect tool, and then went over to the back-staircase. Heading up the steps Rafael walked down one of the expensive-looking corridors. There he sauntered through the area and tried to see if he could find any links of substance. Knocking on the walls now and then until he could hear a hollow space. After a few attempts with no luck, he tapped at his earpiece and called out to Hayden.
“Mind lending a hand? All of a sudden it’s like I entered the wrong house... /Did/ I enter the wrong house?”
Hearing Hayden chuckle on the other line he told Rafael that he didn’t and to step back a little as he checked out the area.
Hayden did a sweep throughout the house and tracked out every crevice before he was able to find a mark. As soon as one popped up he went through the earpiece again.
“Take ten steps forward and then aim at the wall to your left.”
Rafael nodded and did what Hayden told him.
“Okay, now what?”
“Take that hammer in your hand and whack as hard as you can.”
Rafael nodded again and took a step back. Then with a swift whip, he rammed the hammer into the wall, and instantly the whole thing crumbled and left a huge gaping hole.
Dropping the hammer, Rafael inched closer to the wall. Inside the wall were stacks and stacks of substance. Each reaching to the very top of the wall. Rafael carefully entered the hole in the wall to get a better look and noticed that the boxes and bags of substance were holding the wall up.
Reaching over to the side Rafael grabbed a loose piece of drywall and broke it off. Exposing even more substance. Finding the bags lodged in between the beams and woodwork that kept the house standing. Looking closely Rafael noticed that if he were to make one false move, the whole house could come crashing down on top of him. So he had to be careful and move with caution.
Carefully stepping out of the wall, Rafael moved back into the corridor and reached in his utility belt. There he pulled out his scanner and scanned the area. After that, he sent the files over to the main base and over to Hayden.
Once Rafael placed the scanner back into his belt, he headed for the front staircase and started his way down. However, he only made it halfway down before he saw that he was no longer alone in the mansion. Lightly flinching and accidentally letting out a loud gasp. Rafael quickly covered his mouth with his hand and started to scramble back up the steps. Tapping onto his earpiece again he spoke out in a frantic tone of voice.
“It’s them! They’re here!”
‘Oh shit! Did they see you?’
Just as Hayden asked that Rafael heard footsteps hurriedly making their way up to the corridor.
As the owners made it up to the corridor, Rafael stepped back a moment and then reached into the hole. Grabbing hold of one of the bags that was lodged between one of the beams. Then before the owners could reach Rafael he pulled out the bag and the entire wall came crashing down. Rafael quickly pulled out his gas mask and strapped it onto his face. Shaking his head luckily none of the drugs made it into his system and he was able the make his way over to the back staircase again. Quickly bolting down the steps, Rafael skidded to a stop as he saw that there were more drug lords in the mansion now.
Swearing in Italian Rafael pulled off his gas mask and tapped his earpiece to call out for Hayden one last time.
“I’m surrounded. Any ways to get out alive would be very much appreciated right now!”
Not getting an answer, Rafael was caught and quickly ran off. Bolting through another corridor, he dodged a few gunshots before he was able to whip out his own gun and knock off the safety. Stopping at the end of the corridor Rafael lifted the gun and pulled the trigger. Getting out a few shots and dodging the rest. He kept tapping at the earpiece.
“Running low on options here!”
Rafael yelled out as he shot the gun a few more times before he aimed it at another door handle. Pushing the door open with his shoulder, Rafael entered a random room and slammed the door. Standing against the door, Rafael dropped his now empty gun and pulled out another. Quickly reloading it, he flinched and yelped as he heard a gunshot hit the door. Pressing on the door still, Rafael called for help once more.
“Very, very low on options! Hayden!”
Just then the door busted open and Rafael fell to the floor. Shaking his head he quickly pressed his palms onto the floor and pushed himself back onto his feet. Then he grabbed his gun and again and went back to shooting. Still trying to dodge every shot coming his way, it was becoming impossible as more drug lords were finding Rafael and shooting at him as well. Stumbling back thankfully Rafael found a closet in the corner of the room. After shooting a few more times, Rafael quickly spun into the closet and closed the door. Reaching for the little chain for the lightbulb, Rafael pulled it down and illuminated the small closet.
Squinting his eyes as he continued to hear gunshots outside of the closet. Heaving out a breath Rafael called out to Hayden one last time.
“Help! I’m stuck in a closet with no way out! Where the hell are you?!”
Stepping back Rafael heard approaching footsteps and tightened his grip on his gun. Finally hearing a ring on the other end of the earpiece. Usually, that would cause for some relief but instead, Rafael was so on edge all he could do was yell.
“Get me out of there!”
‘Alright, alright! I was trying to discover a safe way to get you out but looks like plans are compromised!’
“Oh gee really? Hadn’t noticed.”
‘Not now Raf! Listen you’re not gonna like what I have to say. But scratch what I said about explosives before. The only way out I can think of is blowing the place to oblivion... somehow...’
Rafael stopped and thought for a few moments. He didn’t have much time at all so he had to think fast. He already had an initial plan on blowing the place up before Hayden told him not to. Although this time it was going to be a little harder because of his current situation. Since this time he was trapped /inside/ of the house with the enemy. However, he knew that if he moved fast enough, he just might be able to pull it off. This was a now or never situation and Rafael knew that he had to act /now/.
It was going to be tricky, and maybe even downright impossible to get out if there without any harm. Rafael let that flow through his mind right then. There was a big chance that he was going to get badly hurt, but that was a risk he had to be willing to take as long as he managed to get out of there /alive/. Heaving out a breath he spoke out again in a clear ton.
“I have a plan.”
‘Okay, good luck.’
Stepping back Rafael slipped the gun back into its holster. Then he reached into his utility belt and pulled out a smoke bomb. Keeping a hold onto it, Rafael dove for the handle and pressed into the small bomb. Quickly swinging open the door he tossed the bomb and watched as it went off. Causing the room to fill up in a thick fog and having everyone inside drop their weapons and start coughing. Having already lost his gas mask, Rafael resorted to using his hand to cover his mouth and to quickly cut through the smoke. He was moving blind so he used his free hand to pat at the walls until he felt the door of the room and pulled it open.
Once he was outside of the room he quickly gasped for fresh air and started running down the corridor. Grabbing his gun again he placed his finger near the trigger and made his way back to the front of the house.
There he had a few new encounters and fired a few shots before he used his other hand to reach into his utility belt again. Taking out an explosive, Rafael shot the gun until it was empty and dropped it. Going over to the foyer, Rafael stuck the explosive onto the wall and opened the front door. Pressing onto the explosive to activate it, Rafael dove out of the front door and barely made it to the porch before the house blew up.
The impact threw Rafael off of the porch and slammed him right into the pavement, causing him to his head and knock him out instantly.
After only a few minutes, the helicopters and SUVs came around and they were able to locate Rafael right away and strap him onto a gurney to fly him over to the nearest hospital. As well as clean up the crime scene and get rid of as much leftover substance as possible.
Rafael was the only one who made it out alive.
While everything was getting settled and sorted out Hayden refused to be far from Rafael’s side. He asked one of the other High Ranks to take over his position so he could join the helicopter to fly Rafael into the emergency room.
Once they made it, Griffin informed the staff that they were from the FBI and that they had an agent who was caught in an explosion. Right away they took Rafael into their own hands and got him the urgent care that he needed. Allowing Hayden and the others to stay behind and remain in the waiting room if they wanted. Of course to Hayden, there was no question on whether or not he was to stay behind. Rafael was his work partner but also his best friend. The two of them were always seen together and helped one another out. If one was harmed then the other would stay by their side no matter what. Rafael had done it several times for Hayden and he knew when it was time to step up to the plate and do the same for Rafael’s sake.
This was a serious injury and Rafael was to stay in the hospital for a few days. There was no way Hayden was going back to the base, but waiting around made him antsy. Rather than sitting he was up and wandering around. Pacing back and forth and waiting until someone was to inform him that it was okay to see Rafael. Hayden tried doing all he could to keep himself preoccupied but nothing lasted longer than a few minutes. Nothing really took Hayden’s mind off of the current situation until he was approached by Griffin.
“Cato, you’ve been here since the mission. Why not head back to the base for a bit and try to rest?”
“No. Look I know you don’t care, but I do and I’m not leaving.”
“It isn’t that I don’t care, I’m just making sure that /you/ get some rest too. It’s already past two in the morning.”
Hayden huffed out a breath and stopped pacing the floor. Looking to Griffin with stern eyes he crossed arms and shook his head.
“I’m fine and don’t care about the time right now. My best friend almost /blew up/, I’m not leaving this hospital.”
“That stubbornness is a wonderful little quality Aunt Lindsey blessed you with.”
“Being stubborn hardly has anything to do with it! Were you not listening to me right then? He could have died back there!”
Griffin shook his head and stepped back. Huffing out a slightly annoyed breath. But before he could say anything the two of them were approached by one of the doctors that were taking care of Rafael.
Both of them gave the doctor their full attention.
“Both of you are free to enter Rafael’s room now if you wish. I must warn you now he just woke up and is very groggy so speak slow and quietly alright?”
“Will do, thank you for everything doctor.”
Hayden said in a polite tone followed by a smile and a single nod. Watching the doctor walk away again, he looked back over to Griffin.
“Why must you always take his side? /We’re/ family, we’re cousins for shit’s sake.”
“Rafael’s been more like family to me than you’ve ever been and I’ll always stand by him. Just like your aunt, Lindsey says to your mom. We’re just related.”
With that Hayden left Griffin and headed over to Rafael’s room. Slowly making it through the doorway, he lightly knocked on the side of the wall before walking over to Rafael’s bed. His heart hurt a bit as he looked at Rafael. He looked so helpless and small as he laid there. Hooked up to an IV and a couple of other machines. His heartbeat was slow but luckily still strong. Rafael’s head was all wrapped up, as well as both of his upper arms and his right hand. He had a couple of cuts near his eyes and on his cheekbones. His eyeglasses were off and Hayden guessed that they got shattered in the explosion.
Rafael was awake up just barely, his brown eyes were glassy they had a bit of a dazed look in them. Hayden quietly approached the bed and pulled up one of the chairs to sit down beside Rafael. When he spoke his tone was gentle and quiet yet still clear.
“Hey, seen better days but not looking too rough stud.”
Rafael looked over to Hayden and lightly smiled to the best of his ability. Glad to see his best friend, Rafael tried to pull himself to sit up but immediately stopped after one attempt.
“Raf, I’m /so/ so sorry. Sorry doesn’t even seem to cut it. I can’t believe I let this happen. I should’ve had a clearer watch on things and got you out of there sooner.”
Rafael shook his head and took a deep breath. Clearing his throat a little he was able to let out a few words.
“No, it’s okay... I panicked is all... but the explosion was all me... I timed it wrong... I’m okay...really...”
Hayden listened to Rafael and caught the exhaustion in his voice. Just that much sounded like it was taking a lot out of him and it made Hayden feel terrible. He felt like had to take most of the blame because he wasn’t there when Rafael was calling out to him. However, he did his best to listen to Rafael as well as not place any more strain onto him. Since that was by far the last thing he needed right then.
After a few more moments of silence, Hayden heaved out a long-winded sigh and nodded. Keeping his full attention on Rafael and trying to make things somewhat lighter.
“If you say so... Look, I’m honestly just glad that you’re awake and well, /alive/. I haven’t slept the last however long it’s been.”
Rafael focused on Hayden and regarded him a moment before slowly nodding and clearing this throat again. Regaining more energy to speak.
“You...should rest...it’ll be good for you...”
Hayden shook his head.
“No, it’s fine. Really, I want to keep you company.”
Rafael then shook his head. Clearing his throat one last he heaved out a sigh himself. Which caused a sharp pain to shoot through his torso. The pain made one of his eyes scrunch closed for a couple of seconds. But he breathed through the pain and reopened his eye again. Huffing a breath he laid back a little more.
“Go and rest... I kinda... I kinda just wanna be...alone right now...”
“Really? You? Alone? You hate being left alone, you love company and people and all of that. /I’m/ the one usually telling people to beat it. But I mean if you really /want/-“
“Hayden? ....Beat it...”
Rafael said with a soft smile and tried to chuckle but it hurt too much so he cut it short. Luckily Hayden still understood that Rafael wasn’t being mean or anything, and chuckled himself. Then he nodded and told Rafael that he would be back first thing in the morning. Rafael sent Hayden off with a nod and then watched as he left the hospital room again.
Heaving out a long sigh to the best of his ability, Rafael was sure how he was going to handle things later on. All he knew right then was that he wanted to be alone in order to think. His injuries weren’t anything too life-threatening, but they were serious and would keep him out of work for a while. He may fall behind and then have to deal with the wrath of Mitchell and never hear the end of it. On the other hand, in some ways, it wasn’t all his fault and he knew that. The timing was off and it caused him to get hurt but at the same time, it was his only way out. It was a situation where it was either them or him. A harsh reality many agents had to face and deep down Rafael hated that he had to resort to literally blowing up the enemy to bits. But he had to do it in order to get out of there alive.
In all honesty, he would do it again if he had to. Whatever it took to make it out alive Rafael would try his best to be the one who walks out. Despite the setbacks that may have to come with it. If that was what it took to come back from a mission alive, then he would do it again without question.
Rafael wasn’t that kid running from his problems or silly arguments anymore, this was Rafael running out in order to come back alive. It was something that may have went against his moral code and naturally sweet personality, but he knew what he had to do in order to survive.
That was being an agent.
Constantly having to fight and place their lives on the line to help the citizens of the world. They had to go to extreme lengths and do things they’ve probably never dreamed of doing before. For Rafael, he never came close to a gun or lethal weapon before in his life. But now in the FBI he was a High-Rank agent and known as the weapons expert. Meaning he was in charge of every lethal source in the base and knew how to use them all perfectly. That was by far something Rafael never dreamed of doing before.
Another thing he’s never really dreamed of before was nearly getting himself blown up while trying to take down a multi-million dollar drug empire. But he managed to do that too. The world of being an FBI agent was a lot different than expected or what others saw on TV and after a few years, Rafael got to live it out for himself. Whether he truly liked it or not, by now he wasn’t necessarily sure.
Heaving out a quiet long-winded sigh to himself. Rafael gathered up his blankets and settled in the bed. Moving over to lay on his side, Rafael pulled up his blanket to cover his shoulder and nestled into the pillow. Breathing another long breath he closed his eyes and soon drifted back off asleep.
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