"So let me get this straight," Face just had to pipe up, "you want me to knock on the front door and go in that way?"
Everyone rolled their eyes a bit and Hannibal was obliged to confess that, "yes, Face you go in the front."
"K," it seemed that Face just wanted to make him say it out loud like that.
Hannibal would be in the 'secure' planning tent, it had a semi-secret location through the woods but still within the camp perimeter. The senior officers had some concern that it wasn't as secure as they thought it was and so they had asked the A-Team to try and flush out any leaks. Face was to be a big part of the flushing.
At the appointed time Face conspicuously gathered some dummy props to bring to Hannibal at the tent. Face, being Face, was less obvious than others might have been with his conspicuousness. BA strolling though the mess hall grabbing fruit with a roll of maps under his hand would have looked a whole lot more contrived than Face seemed. It was almost as if his whole camp persona was just that, a persona created and nurtured on the off chance a situation like this called for it. BA or Hannibal might lie awake at night wondering if that was true but it was part of the giant list of things that Face refused to contemplate.
A bad habit perhaps but the list and all the things that he wasn't thinking about actually caused Face to be more fully present than others, more aware of the here and now and a far better soldier. Which was an oddly deep thought when it occurred to BA as he watched Face grab an orange and flirt with everything on two legs in the mess hall, the maps present and obvious and in their face with a wonderful nonchalance. The man was an artist; BA could smile and shake his head at Face without breaking character. Face slapped a few more backs and then walked out the door, whistling a bit and heading straight for the woods and the supposedly invisible path to the secure location.
The path was very close to invisible but Face knew where he was going and was also very good at tracking. He slipped into the woods a little to the south of the actual path and then started easily angling back up to the path. It was a move that both supported his cover of being covert and helped to highlight if anyone actually was pursuing him. Face was the bait so often that it was depressing how good he was getting at it but if Face resented it more than he showed during the meetings BA couldn't tell.
BA shook his head again, bemused by the weird turns his brain was taking today. Face disappeared completely in the woods and BA started banging on his motorcycle.
Face trotted swiftly towards the planning tent, the woods were creeping him out a little -it felt like the trees had eyes and were following him. His destination came into view and Face strode confidently to the door.
It was hard to knock on a tent so Face just drew the flap open calling out for his colonel. "Colonel Smith?" he called again, unnerved a little when Hannibal wasn't there immediately but then again Face hadn't been jumped yet so Hannibal might have decided to keep drawing. Face walked all the way in with a slight falter to his step, even Face wasn't really sure if he was still acting. "Colonel Smith?" he called again.
Fabric twitched and a colonel entered, his name might have been Smith too but he wasn't Hannibal. Face was goggling just a bit at the thick black letters that spelled out Smith on the other man's chest. The faux Col Smith enjoyed the goggling with a slight smirk for just a bit before he queried back, "Lt Peck?"
Face straightened up a bit and stuck his chin out. "Sorry sir, I was looking for Col John 'Hannibal' Smith sir."
"I'm the Col Smith that's present now son, and I believe your orders were to deliver the maps to Col Smith." Face's goggle turned into a gape.
"But you're not the Col Smith that they wanted me to give the maps to." It sounded stupid even to Face's ears and he tightened his grip on the maps. The maps were actually some fingerpaintings that Murdock had done after harassing BA in the motor pool an especially greasy day. Face was walking a fine line with his gaping and goggling, despite his reputation as a tease he also had a bigger and better reputation as a top notch soldier. His mind was whirring a thousand miles an hour though wondering where Hannibal was and he felt that the honest confusion he was letting slide through was probably okay. Mind games within freaking mind games, sometimes he just wanted to lay down and scream into a pillow.
The 'maps' were of no consequence obviously but Hannibal was and they were Face's only bargaining chip for insuring Hannibal's safety. Not that they were much of a chip, the slightest bit of checking would end that ruse. Trying to compensate a little more Face hugged the maps tighter yet and took a cautious step back. This caused the imposter to chuckle and go for his sidearm.
"Why are you pulling a gun on me Col Smith?" asked Face, in as little boy a voice as he dared.
"The better to shoot you with Lt Peck," retorted the fake Col and the tent twitched again to reveal Hannibal tied to a chair with two soldiers on either side of him, each with a gun trained on him. And even though Hannibal's head was lolling the weapons probably weren't overkill.
Plans began flying through Face's head in earnest now and the maps were crumpled as he began taking stock of how he was going to talk their way out of this. A tiny movement in his peripheral vision settled a lot of his questions and he began talking and moving, drawing the attention of the fake Col Smith and his bozos. Though he considered it hideously over the top acting his completely white face and terrified shaking actually got the bozos to take a step towards him.
The tent behind Hannibal slowly lifted as a wicked looking knife stretched towards the ropes, Murdock. Hannibal was indeed faking it and he managed to slide a bit closer, the knife worked silently but they had used a lot of rope. Either Face knew or just guessed correctly but he ratcheted it up another notch and started crumpling the maps more, he even grabbed them and started twisting them. This interested the baddies greatly and they took more steps towards him reaching for the maps.
"You want these maps so bad," Face finally sneered. "just take them, Col Smith is the one who let himself get jumped by three guys first. What will Morrison say to me, a simple lieutenant for falling into the same trap. Col Smith, always the mighty planner and plotter captured that easily by a bunch of two-faced crooks."
"Is there money involved?" Face asked, turning suddenly to them. "Cuz y'know, a pretty boy like me can probably be bought."
God he's laying it on thick thought Hannibal, we've got to get the hell out of here before they see right through this. Since they had taken his sidearm along with his shirt Hannibal crawled out under the tent once his ropes were undone. He would regroup with Murdock who had been sent around the back as reinforcement, hopefully pick up a weapon and then they would take everyone by surprise.
Face did notice Hannibal's escape but nothing about him gave that away, he kept everyone's attention on the fingerpainted maps and his perhaps dubious allegiance. The bad guys seemed to be somewhat intrigued by the self-proclaimed pretty boy. Face kept his gaze locked on the head baddie trying to make some sort of deal. The baddie wasn't willing to admit to any payoff amount, nor to drop any hints on who might be offering the payoff. Not even a whiff of a nationality. With Hannibal out of the way though Face had relaxed a little and was ready to crank up the talk in an attempt to get some intel. That was his downfall.
Nobody was watching Face's back as he was drawn into their verbal jousting and unfortunately ignored the other two. His sense of danger might have warned him but it was only a tiny syringe that got him.
Face felt the prick just as the other goon ripped the map from his hand. His response was meant to be a somewhat coherent, "wuh" sound but even that failed him. He made a lesser groaning noise just before he started to sway and go down.
BA burst in with an ax, an actual sharp and gleaming ax, just as Face crashed down. Murdock and Hannibal were precisely ten seconds behind and came from other directions to completely surround the situation. It was swift and impressive as hell if only a bit too late.
"Oh damn," said Hannibal to the goons, "what did you give him Nathan?"
Nathan turned to Hannibal with an unrepentant gleam, "sodium pentathol."
"Should he be down like that?" Murdock asked.
"Probably not," Nathan admitted rereading the label on the little bottle he had yanked from his man after Face's alarming swan dive, "they weren't shitting when they said that this team throws monkey wrenches into plans. Even simple training exercises to keep us up to par..."
Murdock dropped to his knees in front of Face and started slapping his cheeks, "Facey, Facey, Facey?" he inquired gently.
Face's eyes slowly creeped open and he gave Murdock a little grin, "hi Murdock, do you love me?" Murdock squeezed his shoulder, "you betcha buddy."
Hannibal dropped to a knee too, "how are you son?" he inquired gruffly.
"M'okay" Face stated and started struggling to his feet. It was hard for him to coordinate and BA stepped forward to give him a hand. Face ended up clinging to BA's arm with his head tucked between BA's chest and bicep; his eyes slid closed.
He looked about six years old and it worried the hell out of the officers present. BA seemed a little pleased though. "I think I better take him back to his bunk Hannibal."
"That might be best BA, do you need a hand?" Hannibal was supposed to have a debriefing with his team and Nathan's but nobody had expected there to be a casualty.
"Nah, I got him." And he did, tucked like a little bird beneath his mighty wing. BA gently guided Face out of the tent and around to where his jeep was. Face kept his eyes closed the whole time so BA laid him out in the back seat. Moments later he gathered him up again to guide him to his bunk.
BA really thought he would be able to just put him to bed and then maybe he could work on something quietly, keeping an eye on Face while he slept it off. BA thought wrong. As soon as Face's head hit the pillow his eyes popped open and he looked around wildly like a spooked animal.
"Hey Face," BA called gently, "what's the matter?" Face was flopping around trying to get up.
"I don't like laying down there," he gestured vaguely at his bunk, "there are too many thinking thoughts. They're all rushing around my head and," he shook his head a little as if to demonstrate, "they want to come out my mouth."
BA smiled a little. "You can let them out if you want to Face, it's just me here. Just BA, I won't tell anything."
Face smiled back tentatively, "but then they'll be in your head too and you don't need that."
"Maybe I don't need it but maybe I want it." BA offered back with an inviting smile. He moved over to his own bunk and settled himself against the head with his legs splayed and his arms open. "You were just like a baby bird before, fly over here little bird."
And Face did, he was a bit unsteady for the few steps but then he got his boots off and curled up right against BA's chest with a sigh that would have, could have, been a chirrup. BA laughed at the thought of his little bird chirruping and the rumbles went right through Face, causing more sighs. After a while, in a small complaining voice, Face asked, "why did they give me that shot?"
BA tightened his arms around Face in a quick sympathetic hug, "I bet they thought it was funny, giving a conman truth serum. They probably thought it would make you say all sorts of crazy things back at the mess hall. All the people that you're always flattering, they could probably picture you telling the server that they have a pimple and then you wouldn't get extra pie for a month. Probably something stupid like that."
"It isn't like that though," insisted the small voice from BA's embrace.
"No, it doesn't look like it is." BA could imagine what it was like but he didn't ask, just waited.
"It's like all the doors in my head are open and I can't get them closed and and I have no control over them. It's bad," the small voice continued.
"I'm sorry Faceman."
Face turned his head to BA's chest and inhaled deeply. "BA, will you keep holding me tight?"
"BA, will you not ask me anything stupid and then make fun of me later?"
"Never," rumbled BA, almost offended at the question but not really, how could he be with that little boy voice and the big manly man cuddled up in his arms?
"BA, I'm glad you're the one here now."
"So am I little bird, so am I." And he put his head down on top of Face's as if he could listen in on all those thoughts that were overwhelming his friend and help to carry him. They were quiet then, for a minute or an hour. BA thought Face might have fallen asleep but he hadn't.
"BA do you love me?" he asked.
BA pressed his lips to the temple below his chin, "of course I do." he responded easily.
Face shuddered, whether it was another door in his head banging open or some other reason BA couldn't tell. He tightened his arms anyway and rocked a little.
Face smiled and brought his arms up higher to hug BA back, "BA, I'm glad you're the one here with me."
"Yeah," sighed BA and kissed his hair some more as silence came upon them again.
They had both dozed a little and Face was obviously more coherent though he wasn't making any moves to leave BA's embrace when he spoke again in a fairly normal voice, "Hey,"
"Yeah?" murmured BA.
"What was the deal with the ax?"
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