Martin Riggs stood inside the doorway of the homey-looking restaurant he had searched out just off the pier district in San Francisco. He didn't find this establishment out of hunger, though. One of his old contacts had provided this place as being the location where he could find an old acquaintance.
Ever since Miranda's death and his subsequent move to LA, he had been thinking back to his younger days, when he was more reckless and carefree. When he was known only as 'Quinn' and had taken that name across the world. He had built up his reputation as both a tough Hitter and a reliable Retrieval Specialist, and he had been able to take his choice in jobs. In those early days, after he left the military, his biggest care was just avoiding bullets from the always-unsavory clients and to walk away from a job cleanly.
Tearing up LA with his recent reckless behavior was bringing out bits of his old 'Quinn' personality. He was now becoming an amalgamation of the cold tactician of Quinn and the responsible police officer that Riggs had become. With his grief over Miranda he was taking bigger risks, but he was still getting hung up on victims he was trying to help on his cases with Murtaugh. It was an odd combination to recognize in himself, and Martin knew he was in an un-sustainable limbo that could quickly turn into a really bad situation.
Shaking off his introspection, Riggs spotted the man he came to see entering the dining area from the kitchen, giving fast instructions to one of his staff. Riggs seated himself, and waited for the moment when Eliot Spencer would walk by his table.
"Spencer. Charming little place you have here. Never would've guessed you to end up in a place like this after all the stories where I first heard about you."
Eliot had been eying him since the moment they were in the same room, but must have decided that he was no immediate threat to the people in his restaurant. Now he quickly finished his instructions to his employee and easily slid into the seat across the table.
"Quinn! How the hell have you been? You must be keeping pretty far under the radar, 'cause I haven't heard any whispers of you from the criminal underworld lately. What are you doing in this neck of the woods?"
Riggs sighed heavily and leaned back in his seat. "Actually, I walked away from the Retrieval Specialist gig a few years ago. And I go by Riggs now. Martin Riggs."
"Huh, congrats on making it out without a body bag. Well, Marty, you can call me Eliot if you want. No need to stand on surnames."
Riggs gave a small chuckle at that. "'Marty'. Well, I guess you can call me that if you want to. Makes me sound like I'm in a damn 80s movie or something, but whatever." He glanced around the room, checking the patrons and the exits for the third time since his arrival, and Eliot just waited him out. "Are you still with the same crew you had the last time I saw you?"
Eliot was still completely at ease, while staying on alert and covertly monitoring the whole establishment. "Yeah, we set up office in this city a few months ago. It's got enough skyscrapers to keep Parker happy, and enough corruption to keep us busy helpin' people. One of our jobs ended with me running this place, and it helps keep me centered during my down-time from my crazy partners."
Eliot had signaled something to a girl on his staff, and now she was setting two empty glasses and a bottle of whiskey on their table. Eliot poured them both a hefty serving from the bottle while allowing Riggs to decide where to take the conversation.
Riggs had a reason for searching out Eliot, but he had not planned on what he wanted to reveal to the other man in building up to his request. With Eliot's piercing and questioning gaze, it didn't seem to matter if Martin wanted to hold anything back. So he just started talking and hoped he would somehow get to his intended point. "You know, if you had never walked away from being a hitter, I wouldn't have known it was possible to get out of that life without a bullet or a grave. I know you were still the muscle for your team, but you had a team. And a purpose.
"That Dam Job you pulled me in on was a turning point. After that job, it just wasn't the same anymore. I started having trouble dealing with the shadier jobs; started feeling my conscience grow back. I started wanting to help people instead of just going job-to-job for a payday.
"Finally one of my contacts set me up with a clean background that said I had been in the Navy, and I just walked away from the old life. The new background info could explain some of my skills, and part of it was even pretty close to the truth. It was all enough to get me a job in law enforcement back home in Texas. Being on that side of things, feeling like I was helpin' people, it made me think I was doin' some good."
Riggs took a big gulp from his glass, and his eyes misted over as his voice went hoarse. "Best part about that new life was that I met this amazing woman. We got married pretty quick, and we were so happy together. We were—we were about to have a baby. And everything got ripped apart."
Eliot kept silent, and allowed Riggs to continue letting out his story while he refilled Martin's empty glass. "Nowadays though, I don't know if I'm really happy about leaving that old life or not. I wouldn't be feeling as shitty as I do now, and I wouldn't be so heartbroken. Miranda was the light of my life, and we had some great years together. But that light was taken from me—stolen from me—and now the darkness growin' in me is suffocating.
"Spencer, after losing my girl, I just can't feel anything good anymore. Just a crushing weight that only dims a little in the middle of a fight, before crashing back in when adrenaline leaves."
Riggs drained his glass again, and seemed to pick up the pace of his storytelling. "Everything since Miranda's been gone has just been so hard. I can't even help half the people we meet on cases these days. Just yesterday, me and my partner were responding to a burglary. I was on the phone with a young lady that was hiding in the house, and I thought I had her taken care of…calming her down and keeping her hidden and reassuring her that we would be there to protect her. The next thing I know she's saying she wants to sneak out past the crew in her house and then I'm hearing her get shot to death over the phone!"
Martin took a deep breath and surveyed the room again. Eliot's vigilance was ramping up his own need for spatial awareness. After his check of the space, Martin just stared at his hands on the table while continuing his story. "During the same case, I tried keeping my partner's kid safe by picking him up from an unsavory neighborhood where he was stranded. He called me before his parents, and I knew I didn't want to get involved, but I wouldn't be able to live with the guilt if something had happened to him after he asked me for help. So I drove him home, and even convinced him to 'fess up to his parents. All I got for trying to help was Roger punching me in the face when he found out. I just can't win with anything these days.
Eliot lived up to his reputation as being a strong but silent force. He had just sat there sipping his whiskey and allowing Riggs to spill his woes. Even as Riggs finally seemed to pause in his narrative, Eliot just continued to sit at the table and keep his contemplative gaze on his guest.
Martin finally seemed to settle on how he wanted to get to his point. He ended up just taking a deep breath and asked his question without further prelude. "Can I still call in that last favor you owe me from the Dam Job?"
Eliot's response was in a slow and controlled drawl, aimed for keeping an aura of calm between them. "Of course you can ask. Though from the direction of the conversation you just laid on me, I'm not sure I'll agree to what you ask. But go ahead and lay it out for me."
Riggs paused, then looked Eliot dead in the eye. "I've been walking a thin line since Miranda's death. Nothing these past months has been enough to persuade me to keep fighting. I'm ready to end it, but I can't do it myself. She'll be disappointed in me either way, but I can't bring myself to fail her by doing it directly."
Riggs took another long sip of his drink, and finally got down to his entire reason for searching out Eliot Spencer. "I know you ain't done mercenary work in a long time, but could you help out an old ally and let me finally find some peace?"
Eliot studied Riggs' face for a few long minutes before giving his response. "Martin, I'm sorry, but I can't do that for you. I'll do a lot of things, but I will not help you kill yourself."
Riggs deflated a little, and downed the last of his drink before standing up to leave. "Well, it was worth a shot. You look me up if you ever make it down to LA for a job. And I might still try to call in that favor if I run into a situation I could use you for on one of my cases. Take care, Spencer, and thanks for the drinks."
Eliot stalled Riggs' movement by grabbing his arm as he started to walk away. "Quinn—Riggs, I know a loss like what you've been through takes a long time to work itself out. I've hit the bottom before, and come back from it. Someday you will also make it back to a place where you can look yourself in the mirror and not hate everything, but you have to give yourself time."
Riggs looked at Eliot before quickly refocusing on the exit. He pulled his arm out of Eliot's grasp and started making his way to the door without another word.
Eliot followed Riggs to the exit, but stopped him before he could get the door open. "Why don't you stick around for a few hours? I've got a training room in the back, and we can spar a bit if you want. I'm telling you up front that I won't give you any permanent damage no matter how much you try to goad me into it. But I will give you a good fight and let you get some of your grief and anger out before you head back south. I'll even make you hurt pretty good, since you seem to want it."
Riggs felt a spark flash through his eyes at the challenge, and for the first time in months he felt a little bit of the good kind of anticipation run through him. This wouldn't be like instigating fights at a bar just to get beat up on. No, this was a worthy opponent that could handle him fighting back, that could handle his aggression. And if Eliot also kept his promise to leave him with enough pain to hold his attention for a few days, then that was the best of both worlds and the most he could currently wish for.
Reaching out to shake Eliot's hand, it was a little of both Quinn and Riggs that was behind Martin's responding challenge. "You're on."