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This page last viewed: 2017-10-17 and has been viewed 1395 times
Rated : PG 15, for now (NC 17 for later chs not yet ready)
Summary: BA rediscovers an old friendship and it is tested almost at once.
BA Baracus walked slowly down the street of his neighborhood. He hadn't been home in eight weeks and he was enjoying his two-day leave before shipping out to the South East of Asia. Viet Nam to be exact. He'd been drafted, along with several other boys in his school. While most of them had talked big and walked bigger, claiming to be unafraid of what lay before them, he had no trouble admitting that he didn't want to go. He didn't want to leave his mama or his home or all the plans he'd made for his future. Four months ago, he'd been sure he was going to go to college, play football and learn to be a top-notch machinist.
Now, he wasn't sure about anything, except that in two days time, he would board a plane here in Chicago and start a trip that would take him halfway around the world. He dreaded the flight. He'd always had an irrational fear of flying and he knew he would have to force himself to remain calm long enough to get to his destination. The Los Angeles Air Force Base at El Segundo would be his first stop with Fort Hickam in Hawaii being the last sight of US soil he'd have for an unknown amount of time. From there, he'd go to Viet Nam and whatever awaited him. But that was in two days and for now, he was home with his mama and his friends and he was going to enjoy it.
Approaching the stoop of their building he saw, lounging on the top step, a tall, mocha skinned girl of about 16 years old. Her hair was long and curled softly on the ends. He big, brown eyes snapped with mischief and humor and her softly painted pink lips smiled widely as he approached.
"Hey BA! I been waiting on you…" She stood and launched herself into his arms. Looping her arms around his neck, she kissed him loudly on the cheek and laughed aloud. "I have missed you, fella'!"
Grasping her around the waist he swung her up and around, laughing with her, as her full-bodied laugh proved contagious as ever. "Hi, Mishanne… How you been, girl?"
"Lonely, BA… lonely… You know there is no other man for me…" She grinned cheekily and winked as she spoke.
At nineteen, BA knew he was too old for his pretty young friend and he told her so every time they got together and he did again now. "Shanne… you silly, little girl, I done told you, that I'm too old for you and I've been telling you that for nearly five years now."
His tone was soft, friendly, but she knew he meant it, just as he'd meant it every time before. But, she wasn't an eleven year old in braces anymore and she wasn't about to let him go off to war without knowing how she felt. How she really felt… She tightened her arms around his neck and lifted her legs from the ground. Knowing he wouldn't let her fall, she wrapped her legs around his waist. She lowered her voice and spoke slowly, carefully. "BA, I know you think I'm a kid still, but I'm not. I'm a woman and I love you, Bosco Aaron Baracus." She drew in a deep breath and pressed her center against his just the way her cousin Angie did with her boyfriend. Don't blow it Shanne… don't blow it. He's a man… you know he's been with a girl before, that low down Mae Beth… she bragged about it enough. Just do what they do in the movies and he'll believe you. She lectured herself as she maneuvered into a better hold and rolled her hips against his again.
BA gulped hard as he felt Shanne grinding against him. "Good lord, girl… what's wrong with you? Right here on the street… your mama would tan your hide." He pulled her arms from his neck and forced her to stand on her own two feet. "Now, I ain't telling you again… You just a kid and that ain't gonna happen 'tween us."
Mortified now at her actions and his rebuff, Mishanne Taylor blushed crimson and wanted to sink into the earth, right through the cracked Chicago sidewalk. She stammered, "But… BA… I love you…"
Sighing mightily, BA shook his head. "Shanne, I love you, too…. But not like that… you're just too young."
Angry now and woman enough to feel scorned, Shanne sneered and the love in her eyes turned into something else. "Fine, BA… Mr. Army Man…. Go on off and get yourself killed… see if I care." She turned and walked away until she hoped he wasn't watching anymore and then broke into a run. Tears streamed down her face and she prayed that he knew she didn't mean the awful things she'd just said.
Sliding into the big city of Chicago had been easier than they'd expected. There was no scent of MP's at the state line and no sight of any tails on the long, round about route they had taken to get to the old neighborhood. BA drove the big black van like a man determined, for that was just what he was. Determined to get to his mama and his boyhood home. Winifred Baracus had lived in the same apartment for the last twenty years. While that meant she was very comfortable and happy in her home, it also meant that the military always knew where she was to be found and they often put random surveillance teams on her building, hoping to catch BA and the rest of the team. They'd been on the run for ten years now, BA only being allowed to see his mama once or twice a year. Mama had sounded sad and lonely on her last phone call and he'd made up his mind to see her before the month was out.
Surprisingly, Hannibal had agreed and they'd started to drive the same day. Predominantly, BA drove, although Hannibal and Face did take the occasional turn. Now he was only minutes away from home and Mama and he was grinning from ear to ear. Murdock, having been remarkably silent, dozing off and on, for the last hundred miles, noticed the ebullient expression and nudged Face next to him. "Looks like the big guy was really getting homesick."
Face nodded agreement and drifted back to his light slumber. Fifteen minutes later, they pulled into the above ground lot and cut the engine on the van. "Wake up, man, we're here… let's go." BA demanded and Face immediately roused, grumbled only once and pulled open the slider door.
Instantly alert in the open, Face, as well as the others looked around and saw nothing unusual in the quiet, largely elderly populated neighborhood. Hannibal gave orders to disperse and proceed to the apartment with caution. The four men separated and melted into the night.
BA hugged the rough brick wall of the building, skirting the pools of light from the street lamps and quickly reached his destination. Pausing to check for the others, he noted that they were all on their assigned corners and knew they would join him in the foyer, one at a time, a few minutes apart. Sighing gratefully, he stepped onto the stoop and almost bumped into the person currently occupying that space.
Automatically, he backed away, simultaneously reaching for his weapon, secreted behind the bib of his over-alls. As ingrained as his protective measures were, his courtesy was just as much a part of him and even as he reached for the 9 mm Glock, semi-automatic, he was apologizing and nodding politely to the person before him. "I'm sorry, ma'am. Didn't see you there… you all right?"
"Sure I am sugar, you looking for some company tonight, fella'?" She snapped her gum and winked at him, all without ever really looking him in the face. Her right hand, tipped with bright red, inch long nails, reached out and played with the gold on his chest.
BA stood, unable to move or speak… his mind whirling with the sounds of the voice that just spoke to him. He couldn't believe it… not here and not like this, surely not like this… "Shanne, is that you?"
The tall, slender woman stepped back, removed her wandering hand from his hard chest and looked at him sharply. Her eyes widened only fractionally and she quickly hid the recognition that flared there. "I don't know no Shanne, baby. My name's Honey… and my it sure is later than I thought… guess you're on your own for now." She twisted and headed for the steps before BA could even react. She ran into the night, passing and brushing against Hannibal as he appeared in the dim light of the stoop security lamp.
"Old friend, BA?" He grinned and reached for the cigar in his pocket. The two of them looked behind them, then entered the building to wait on the other two members of the team.
"I sure hope not, Hannibal… I sure hope not."
Two blocks away, Honey stopped running and leaned against the cold, front glass of the local video arcade. She panted and looked behind her, almost as if in fear that he'd followed her. Shaking her head, she muttered under her breath. "That was close, Taylor. Too close…You can't deal with him right now."
Proceeding down the block and into a cheap motel room, Honey dropped her large shoulder bag, shrugged out of her oversized leather jacket, kicked off the three-inch heels and flopped back on the squeaky motel bed. Groaning she rolled to her side and pulled the black, fishnet hose from her legs, and dropped them to the floor. After removing the heavy, rhinestone earrings from her ears, she then stood and shimmied out of the short, red skirt and the white tank top that accompanied it. She reached for her robe and then the phone.
Shrugging into the thick, pink terry cloth, she simultaneously dialed a number from memory. After a brief conversation, she dropped the phone back into the cradle and headed for the shower to scrub off equal parts make-up and street grime.
The next morning it was a jovial group that breakfasted in Mama's small apartment kitchen. She served up tall stacks of pancakes with syrup, bacon and several pitchers of milk. She'd been overjoyed to see her Scooter the previous night and they'd only gone to bed in the wee hours. As BA, Murdock and Face happily devoured pancakes, Hannibal sat back and watched, satisfied that his team was happy and well fed, for the moment. Mama hovered, refilling plates and patting backs and ruffling heads of hair in her circuits around the table. She just couldn't resist touching her boys, as she'd come to think of them all over the years.
Hannibal drained his coffee cup and stood. Laying aside the paper, he announced he was going out for a look around. "I'm going to check out the perimeter. Check on the van and see if anything looks funny."
Face pushed aside his plate, politely wiped his mouth and hands and stood as well. He leaned over, kissed Mama on the cheek and added, "Thank you, Mrs. Baracus. That was wonderful." He crossed to the door and joined Hannibal on his walk.
Murdock also stepped away from the table, thanking "Mama B" as he called her and walking to the living room for the TV and the morning cartoons. Left alone with her son, Mama sat, at last, and fondly watched as he finished off his plate of food and sighed mightily.
"That was good, Mama… I miss your pancakes."
"Awe baby… I miss you." She neatly folded the dishtowel in her hand and fidgeted with the corner.
"You sounded lonesome when I talked to you on the phone, the other day… you feeling okay, Mama? Getting out and visiting the neighbors like always?" BA pushed his plate aside and reached for her hands. He held her soft, fleshy hands between his and rubbed her knuckles gently.
"Oh yes, I'm getting out and seeing all the neighbors and the neighborhood. Some times I think I see it too much, Scooter." She sighed and squeezed the hands that held hers. "I saw Mishanne Taylor round here last week and I didn't for one minute like what it looked like she was doing!"
BA felt his heart sink into his chest at his mother's words. "Shanne?" He questioned her reluctantly. "Are you sure it was her?"
"As sure as I am that I'm sitting here talking to you. She was down there next to the Blue Moon motel and she was… oh Lord, her mama's got to be rolling over in her grave… she was walking the street, Scooter."
When her son said nothing in response, Mama repeated herself more plainly. "Scooter, I said that Mishanne was prostituting herself on the street."
"I heard you Mama… and I think you might be right. I saw her, too. Last night as we came in… she was on the stoop and she…" He shook his head free of the memory, unable to go on.
"She solicited you, didn't she?" Mama shook her head sternly and pursed her lips. "Not the first time she done that either…" She harrumphed to herself.
"Mama, that was a long time ago. Shanne was just a kid then. She didn't know what she was doing." BA immediately took up for the young girl he remembered from his childhood.
"Well, she isn't a kid now and she does know what she's doing and I know what I got to do." Mama thumped the table and resolutely stood. "I got to go down to the Blue Moon motel and set that girl straight. Her mama was my best friend and I owe it to her to watch out for her little girl, just like she would have watched out for you…."
And so saying, Winifred Baracus marched to the door, gathered her hat and sweater and reached for the doorknob. Before she could actually go out, BA was at her side, holding her elbow and shaking his head at her ruefully. "Mama, now you know that I am not going to let you go down to that end of the block… It's not safe. I'll go and I'll find her and bring her back to you."
"Now, that's a good man…. Thank you Scooter." Mama replaced her hat and sweater on the stand and watched as BA exited the apartment. When the door had closed completely behind him, she snorted, "I was beginning to think you weren't going to stop me, boy… then what was I supposed to do? I'm too old to be traipsing off down the street to that part of town." Shaking her head at the thought, she threw up her hands and went back to clean up her kitchen and start planning dinner for that night.
"Hannibal, I gotta run down to the Blue Moon motel and find an old friend." BA stood before the colonel and Face near the van.
Exchanging looks with the Face, Hannibal shrugged. They'd been in this neighborhood enough to know that the Blue Moon wasn't exactly the place to be seen by your church going friends and relatives and they had to wonder exactly why BA was going. Face spoke first, offering, "That must be some kind of old friend, BA… your mother doesn't think too highly of that place."
"I know. That's why I'm going instead of her…. She was going to, but I stopped her." BA could still only shake his head at her lack of sensibility about this matter.
Hannibal narrowed his eyes and asked quietly, "BA, is this the old friend from last night?" He'd told Face about the encounter as they'd walked to the corner and back to the van. They'd shared a good laugh over it earlier, but now it didn't seem so funny.
"'Fraid so, Hannibal. Mama says Shanne is in town and that she's been… well… she might be in trouble and I gotta go find her and see what's going on." BA reached for the door of the van and started to slide into the driver's seat.
"Face, go get Murdock and we'll go with BA… we need to check out that end of the block anyway. That is, if it's okay with you Sergeant?" Hannibal stopped in mid order and waited for BA's reply.
He nodded his head, "Thanks, Hannibal, I'd appreciate it." Five minutes later, Face and Murdock returned and they all piled in and headed slowly down the street toward the Blue Moon Motel and the run down area that was locally known as Bluesville. As they drove, BA began to tell them about Shanne and how he knew her.
"Mishanne Taylor was the daughter of my mama's best friend. Margaret Taylor was black and her husband, Tony, was Italian. He died young and left Ms. Margaret and Shanne all alone. They moved here when I was about fifteen. Shanne was eleven and she was lonely and scared. Mama took her and her mama under her wing and they became best friends. Shanne was a sweet, smart girl and I sort of helped her get to know the neighborhood."
BA smiled ruefully as he recalled the many escapades the young, adventure-seeking girl had gotten herself into. BA had rescued her more than once and he blamed that for the crush the teenager had formed. That crush had turned out to be the downfall of their friendship.
"Anyway, about a year after they moved here, it seems that Shanne sort of got a crush on me, I guess… She started following me everywhere and talking all that silly stuff young girls do. I told her she was too young but she just wouldn't let it go. She'd back off and we'd be friends, then all of a sudden she'd start again. She almost drove me nuts, man. It went on that way for years, until right before I was shipped out to Nam."
Sadly, BA told them how he'd returned from boot camp for one last visit only to be way laid by Shanne and about the scene that had occurred on his stoop. He skimmed over the details and ended his tale by saying how she'd been angry and that they hadn't parted on the best of terms. As he recounted how angry Shanne had become and how she'd run away from him, his expression grew pensive and anyone who knew him well, as the team did, could see that in some way, he was blaming himself for whatever trouble Mishanne Taylor had gotten herself into this time.
"Anyway, guys, if I can help Shanne now, I got to. Not just because I owe it to her, but because if I don't, mama will and she'll get into trouble down here." He finished his tale as he turned into the gravel lot of the Blue Moon Motel.
"Sergeant, I'm not sure why you feel you owe her anything. But to keep your mother safe and to make you feel better about this situation, we'll go in there and find her for you. However, what I would like to know is, exactly, what do you plan to do with her when you find her?"
BA sharpened his gaze as he looked out the front window and finally answered, "I don't know Hannibal, but we about to find out, cause there she is…" And he leaped out of the van, quickly walking toward the tall woman who'd just exited the last room on the left.
Shanne reached her destination at the far end of the street and waited impatiently for the bus to arrive. She was suddenly jostled from behind and turned angrily to snap at the rude person who'd nearly pushed her into the street. To her surprise, she looked up into the eyes of the one person she was trying to forget and gasped out his name. "BA!"
"It is you, Mishanne Taylor, or should I call you Honey?" He kept a firm grip on her arm and tugged her away from the steadily filling bus stop. "Come with me, I want to talk to you."
"Well, I don't want to talk to you, BA Baracus. Get your hands off me…" Desperately she struggled to get away from his steel grasp. The bus was coming and she had to be on it…
"Shanne, come on now. Mama is worried about you and so am I."
The bus clattered to a halt and people began to pour off in a hurried stream. Shanne licked her lips and stared at him. "Your mama, she knows I'm here?"
"Course she does… she knows everything that goes on in this neighborhood… now come on back and talk to her and me." He shook her arm just a bit and pulled a little harder.
Suddenly she shook her head and muttered, "I'm sorry BA. You tell your mama not to worry and to forget she saw me…" Moving quickly, she brought the spike heel of her shoe down hard on the instep of his red canvas sneaker and simultaneously pushed at his chest, knocking him off balance. She sprinted for the bus and piled on just as the doors closed and was gone before BA could right himself.
The van screeched to a halt beside him and he jumped in, pushing Hannibal out of the driver's seat. "Gonna follow that bus, man. I want to see where she's going in such a hurry."
Ten blocks later, she exited and rushed to the nearest payphone. Inserting her coin, she dialed hurriedly and waited a few seconds. She spoke very briefly then stood on the sidewalk for another ten minutes. Suddenly, a black sedan pulled to the curb and she got in the back seat. The car pulled away and the black van fell back and followed at a discreet distance.
A few miles further east, the car stopped and Shanne exited, accompanied by a man in a gray suit. They entered the nearest building and disappeared from sight.
Hannibal, intrigued by the turn of events, turned to the Face and spoke. "Face, get inside and see what that building is…"
Nodding curtly, the Lieutenant smoothed his hair and straightened the collar of his shirt and walked from the van and into the building. A scant five minutes later, he hurried out, a faintly panicked look on his normally calm facade.
"Well? Report, Lieutenant." Hannibal impatiently demanded.
"FBI, Hannibal…. I'd bet my stock portfolio on it."
BA sat in the seat of the van, silent and thoughtful. The other three exchanged glances and waited him out. They had driven back to the apartment and were now sitting in the parked van, having just theorized that Shanne was going to turn them in to the FBI. Hannibal had spoken of it first, backed up by Face and Murdock. BA just sat and gripped the steering wheel, staring out at the neighborhood of his youth. Finally, the big man spoke.
"No way, Hannibal. I just don't believe it. I don't believe that Shanne would turn me in." He shook his head vehemently and thumped the wheel with his open palm.
"Now, BA. You said yourself that you didn't part on the best of terms. If she still holds a grudge, turning you in to the FBI would be just the thing to make her happy." Hannibal tried to convince him.
Face backed him up again. "BA, there is no greater fury than that of a woman scorned…"
"I said no, Face. Hannibal, I know Shanne and I know that even if she still hated me… she would never hurt my mama that way." BA sighed and looked up to the window of his mama's apartment. "Mama helped raise that girl and she respects her… that much I know. And I also know that I don't know what is going on, but I'm going to. I'd appreciate it if you would keep my mama company tonight. I'm going back to the Blue Moon to see her and find out what is going on."
Hannibal studied his intent expression and knew that the sergeant would not be swayed. "Okay, but not alone. I'll go with you and Face and Murdock can keep your mother occupied." He grinned as Murdock bounced in his seat. A whole night with Mama B.! "Besides, if we aren't back, we'll need someone to come bail us out."
Nodding in agreement, they all exited and went back to the apartment to explain to Mrs. Baracus what was going on and for another home cooked meal.
Shanne sighed tiredly and stomped off the six o'clock bus. Rolling her head wearily, she attempted to ease the aching muscles in her neck and started the five-block hike to her motel room and temporary home. Having presented her case convincingly enough, she had gained a brief reprieve and was being given another week to bring in her man.
Reaching her destination, she fished in her pocket for her room key, stuck it in the lock and pushed the door open. She entered the darkened room, dropped her bag and reached for the light. Her first full step into the room allowed the door to swing shut behind her. Instantly her senses screamed out… INTRUDER…. And she stopped the action to flip the light switch in mid move. Reaching into her jacket instead and easing her gun from the holster, she drew in a deep breath, brought her gun up and then quickly flipped the light switch, flooding the room in light from the two wall mounted lamps. As she moved, she spoke calmly and firmly.
"Stay right where you are and no one gets hurt." She pointed the weapon, square at the chest of the white haired man who stood next to her bed. "Put your hands up and move slowly to the floor."
He nodded imperceptibly and she felt hard, strong arms drop over and around her, imprisoning her arms and forcing her to drop her weapon. Instinctively, she stepped back and attempted to pull the attacker forward over her head. He was huge! And familiar…
She stilled her efforts to escape and stood passive in his arms. "BA… let me go." His scent washed over her and she found herself transported back over a decade and reliving the last time he'd held her this close. It hadn't been by his choice and her cheeks flushed with the memory of her boldness. How could it still affect her so strongly?
She felt rather than saw the two men exchange looks and realized in that moment that the other man was Colonel John Smith, also known was Hannibal. BA had brought his team into this. Great… just great!
BA released her from his hold only after Hannibal had stepped forward and retrieved her piece from the floor between them. She turned, face to face with him and studied him intently. The years had been good to him. He was still well muscled and solid. His face was still just as handsome as she recalled from her childhood. She'd seen recent pictures… surveillance pictures and wanted posters, so the unusual haircut and the abundance of gold didn't surprise her. She thought they both suited him. Strong, unusual statements about the man himself…
Softly, with the old familiar smile on her face, she spoke, "Hi, BA… long time, no see, fella."
Hannibal gestured toward the door then left them alone together. BA stared down the woman near him and found himself responding to her contagious smile, just as always. He shook his head and grinned back at her. "Shanne, what in the world are you into now?"
"Into?" Mishanne Taylor stepped back and arched her elegantly sculpted eyebrows at him. "Now, what makes you think I'm into anything?"
"Well, for one thing, you're living in the Blue Moon Motel and you're not exactly acting like an upstanding citizen. What I want to know is why and just what exactly you're trying to prove?" BA stared at her pointedly and propped his hip against the outside door. He crossed his arms over his chest and waited for her to answer.
"Now, BA, I'm a big girl and how I make my living is my business…"
"Not when you want to try and make your living like this and in this neighborhood. My mama is worried about you… and so am I." His voice softened as he finished his sentence and his eyes sparkled with affection. "That wasn't no toy you were carrying around in your jacket… you can get hurt with that if you don't know how to use it. Why you carrying something like that anyway?"
"Girl's gotta have protection, BA. This isn't an easy life, you know." Shanne desperately turned over and rejected one idea after another as she sought for a way to get him off her trail and out of Chicago.
"All right, if that's where you want to start, that's where we'll start. How did you get into this life? How long you been working the street and why?" He moved to sit on the nearest chair and motioned for her to join him in the other.
Uneasily, she sat and stared at her fingers. How on earth was she supposed to lie to her oldest friend and the person who, despite time and distance, knew her better than any other ever had? She closed her eyes and thought for long minutes, trying to decide what to say to him.
Across from her, BA watched her fidget with the tiny gold ring on her right ring finger. It had been a gift from her mama and she'd worn it for years. It wasn't much, but it might bring her fifty dollars on the street. At least she hadn't gotten that desperate yet. He reached out and covered her small hands with his. He heard her gasp and look up into his eyes. Lord, she sure had become a beautiful woman. She'd been a cute kid and a pretty girl, but now she was just plain gorgeous and if the look in her eyes was any indication, she was just plain scared.
Sitting at the table and feeling his warm hands on hers, Shanne found that she just couldn't lie to him. She'd lied to him once and all it had gotten them was a decade long silence. He was her friend and if she was really lucky, he and his friends might be able to help her wrap up the DeLuca case. The A-Team had taken on worse criminals and came out on top. She knew she could keep them out of the FBI spotlight… she'd been doing it for years. She took a deep breath and just blurted out her confession.
"BA, I'm not a hooker. I'm an FBI agent and I'm undercover."
Immediately the door behind them banged open and Hannibal entered, having been listening at the door. He immediately began to demand answers from the woman and she just as adamantly stared back at him, silent. BA stood and stared wildly from one friend to another and finally just stood between them and bellowed. "Now just stop it, Hannibal. I want to hear what she has to say."
"What's to hear, Sergeant? She's FBI and she's undercover in your neighborhood while you are here… she's got to be looking for us!"
"NO… no… BA… please let me explain. Colonel Smith, I am an FBI agent and I am undercover, but my current assignment has nothing to do with you or your men. I'd never… I have never taken part in an effort to capture you. I've been burying reports and requests for surveillance on you for years." Shanne had moved to stand in front of BA and now had her back to him. "BA is my oldest and dearest friend. I never intended for any of you to become involved in this. I had no idea you would be in Chicago at this time…"
BA laid one massive hand on her slim shoulder and squeezed slightly. He stood beside her and then stared at his colonel and friend. Hannibal watched them for another moment then nodded. He believed her. Hannibal sat at the small table and silently listened to the conversation.
BA turned Shanne to face him and asked once again, "Shanne, are you in some kind of trouble, here? That man from this morning didn't look too happy with you."
Reaching up she gripped his hand and pulled him down to sit on the edge of the bed, next to her. "That was Evans. He's my direct supervisor and he's not my biggest fan. When I requested permission to pursue this investigation, he denied it. I knew it was something that I had to do, so I went over his head and got permission to continue. I didn't have a lot to go on, but I've got a good record and the upper echelon was willing to give me a chance." She sighed hugely then continued. "But only me… I'm here alone, sort of AWOL, but not exactly. I've got no back-up and none coming unless I can come up with the proof I need to convince them that I'm right."
"A chance for what? What is the investigation?" BA knew he wasn't going to like it. Any investigation that put her in the role she was playing, and alone at that, had to be dangerous.
"Tommy DeLuca. He's a mob boss, runs all the gambling on this side of Chicago and is rumored to be branching out, extending his business into prostitution and drugs. My source says he's working this area and he likes to come down and watch the girls work. I've been here for two weeks waiting on him to show… but nothing so far. I've also heard that he and his goons often inspect the new girls on the job… that hasn't happened yet, but I think it will soon, if what the other girls say is true." Shanne waited for his explosion… the BA of old was never timid about expressing his views on what was and was not the smartest course of action. She didn't have to wait long.
"Mishanne Margaret Taylor, this may be the stupidest thing you ever did get yourself into! What on earth are you going to do if he does show up to watch you work the street?" BA stood and paced agitatedly. "You gonna have to walk the street, you know that?"
Shanne grinned and stepped into his path. "Well, actually, since you're here and since you seem so concerned, I thought you might be willing to help me out, you and your team, that is."
Hannibal stood up and joined his sergeant in staring at the FBI agent. BA spoke first, asking, "And just what do you want us to do?"
"Why, BA… I want you to be my john." Shanne reached out and trailed one, still red-tipped fingernail over his chest and jingled the gold merrily as she smiled her best smile.
Several hours later, BA and Face stood on the corner of Vine and Hill Streets, directly across from the Blue Moon motel, watching Shanne as she strolled the sidewalk. It was almost ten o'clock PM and Shanne had been on the street for thirty minutes. She walked from one end of the block to the other, her gait slow and rolling. Her high heels clicked sharply on the pavement and her jacket flapped loosely around her body in the brisk wind. She looked the street up and down and waited for her snitch to indicate that DeLuca was indeed in the area and watching her.
When he showed, the plan was for BA to approach Shanne as Hannibal worked into a position to plant a homing device somewhere on the vehicle. Face was to wait on the corner, watching their backs. Assuming that the car would indeed approach Shanne as expected, the homer would be planted and Hannibal safely out of the way with the driver none the wiser. Hannibal and Murdock would follow the car in the 'Vette while BA, Shanne and Face waited for confirmation in the motel room, before following them to DeLuca's estate…. Hopefully.
Face had of course pointed out the errors in assuming anything. Just as predictably, Hannibal had grinned around his cigar and encouraged Face to "see the bright side of the plan." Naturally, he'd walked away before showing him exactly what the bright side was….
BA had objected most vehemently to her plan of continuing to walk the street, but by then, she'd won Hannibal over and he'd supported her all the way. Face had, of course, immediately volunteered to 'sacrifice' his image in order to play the role of john to her hooker, but BA had merely growled and let him know in no uncertain terms that Shanne was off limits… entirely. Shanne chuckled now as she recalled the snickering laugh that Face and Murdock had shared over this. Glancing back at BA, dressed in his denim vest and tight jeans, she desperately hoped to wrap this up tonight and to have some time with BA to herself. Inwardly, she cursed DeLuca and urged him to show his slimy carcass already.
She didn't have to wait much longer… from the far corner, the squirrelly little man who kept her informed sat straight up and lit his cigarette, holding the lighter up in the air for an extra ten seconds. DeLuca's car was coming! A dark sedan turned the corner and parked on the street about halfway up. The rear windows were smoked and she couldn't see in. But no doubt he could see out and she, in turn, signaled BA to start his pass. He nodded vaguely and spoke once to Face who in turn spoke surreptitiously into a small microphone in his collar. BA began to cross the street and Face assumed his position, leaning against the lamppost and watching the night activity of Bluesville.
Shanne turned her back to BA and slowly eased her way to the far corner, spoke to a few other girls, smiled at one loitering young man and turned to walk back, this time facing BA's direction. He had stopped and was watching her intently; his 'interest' evident and a slow smile crossed his face as he nodded for her to join him on the stoop near the five and dime.
Shanne gulped and exhaled slowly as the effects of 'that' smile focused on her began to grow. She swallowed back her response and smiled her best 'come hither grin' and walked seductively to him. Unsure of who or where DeLuca might have people, she threw herself completely into the role.
"Hey there, big fella… you looking for something?" She sidled to within inches of him and leaned into his body, her breast brushing against the muscles of his crossed arms.
"Maybe…" He answered gruffly, simply. He inhaled, thinking to steady his nerves. Instead, her scent wafted up to him on the chilly Chicago wind and he felt his heart jump. His eyes slid over her body. Her hair floated free around her face and tendrils drifted across her lips, caressing the painted flesh. Under the open neck of her jacket, he could see an expanse of smooth chest revealed by the skimpy tank top she wore against her skin. The short leather mini-skirt barely covered her to mid-thigh. Her legs were long, smooth and bare under the hem and at this close range he could see the chill bumps that had erupted on her skin. The black stiletto heels on her slim feet emphasized the shape and grace of her calves.
His glance flickered back up to her face and he knew his pleasure with what he saw was evident… and he didn't care. He saw her eyes widen and he almost spoke to her… to Shanne… not Honey…. But the smooth sound of a well cared for motor interrupted his thoughts and together they glanced to the street. The sedan had pulled up next to them and the window slid down and an older, thin man with salt and pepper hair leaned forward to be seen. Not DeLuca, but William Gates, the man she'd contacted to go to work for DeLuca.
"Hello, Honey. Mr. DeLuca wanted me to check up on you… make sure you were handling things all right." Gates spoke with a cruel sneer on his skinny face. "I see that business if booming, if you will."
Foe no longer looked at the woman, but at the man who stood beside her. His only interest was in the money these women made for his boss and for him and by the looks of the gold this one was wearing, he had plenty. He spoke coldly, "You looking for a date with Honey… gonna cost you two hundred fifty dollars… but you can have her all night for an extra seventy five…"
BA nodded and pulled out a wad of bills from his pocket. The offer of an all-nighter was a stroke of luck. Shanne wouldn't have to go back out onto the street again. He thrust the bills through the window and nearly growled when the man's beady eyes lit up with greed. This man disgusted him and he backed away quickly, pulling Shanne with him.
Gates looked up just before driving off and spoke one last time. "You be sure and do the man right, Honey… he paid a lot of money for a piece of your whoring ass. You do good enough and you just might take the place of Mr. DeLuca's last pet slut. He's had a few. Started with one named Patty about 12 years ago. Patty was one hot babe…looked a lot like you, too." Gates laughed. "I'll be watching you, Honey…" The car pulled away, but parked nearby and did indeed appear to be watching their every move.
BA turned to Shanne to usher her away to the Blue Moon and out of the ever-growing Chicago wind. To his surprise and horror, her face was pale and her eyes glassy with tears held in check.
"Sha… Honey… come on… let's get inside. He glanced back over his shoulder to the watching car and gripped her arm firmly, nearly dragging her behind him to the room she was occupying in the back of the complex. Inside, he shut the door and immediately pulled her trembling form into his arms. She went willingly and he felt rather than heard the sobs that began to wrack her body. He caressed her back with his hands and let one slide under her hair to massage the nape of her neck. His mouth pressed against her temple, he whispered, "Shanne…. Tell me what's wrong… I know he was ugly and disrespectful. I could hurt him bad for talking to you like that…"
She pulled out of his embrace enough to look him in the eyes and softly said, "It's not that, BA. I've heard trash talk like that for years. It was what he said about Patty…" Her voice trembled then broke and the tears began to fall in earnest. "I… oh… God…"
BA wiped the tears away with his large but gentle hands. "Did you know Patty?"
Shanne nodded once.
"Patty was my older sister… Tommy DeLuca killed her for leaving him and then he killed my daddy for helping her." The words tumbled out of her without thought or reason. She'd never meant for him to know. She'd never meant for anyone to know. There were lots of things she wanted… needed from BA…. His pity wasn't one of them.
She looked up at him, regret and sadness in her eyes. Despite her previous intentions, it was a relief to share the grief with someone; more importantly, someone who cared for her as she knew BA always had. The tears fell again and she could only allow them to. She was helpless to stop them, just as she was helpless to stop BA when he pulled her back into his arms to console her the only way he could think of.
Stooping over her, he nudged her chin with his hand and stared deep into his eyes. "I didn't know, Shanne. I'm sorry." He lowered his head and brushed his lips over hers.
She gasped softly then leaned into the kiss, opening her mouth and feeling the stiff bristle of his mustache and beard on her face. Her tongue darted out and touched his for just an instant before he pulled away. "BA?"
"Shh…. I'm here. I'm with you. But Face will be here soon, too. Hannibal planted a homer on the car while that fool was talking to you. Face will be here with a radio and we'll see where the car led Hannibal and Murdock. We may be able to wrap this up tonight after all…" BA explained to his companion and then glanced to the window where he could just see Face working his way across the street and to the motel lot.
Seeing and hearing him pull away from her snapped Shanne out of her reverie and she nodded curtly. She replied coolly, "Yeah, right. Of course. I see." She turned a rigid back to him and BA sighed as he realized what he'd done… again. She was hurting for more than one reason and he knew this wasn't the time or the place for this but he wasn't sure when or if he'd have another chance.
Torn between the need to tell her the truth and knowing that Face was coming any minute, he wavered before finally making his decision. Stepping up to her back, he grabbed her arm and twirled back her into his arms. "No, you don't see, Shanne." He swallowed hard. "Ten years ago, you were way too young… we were both way to young. But now…" He cupped one side of her face in his large gentle hand. "Now… I think we're both just right." He drew her closer still and pressed his mouth to hers. Now firmly holding her face with both hands, he angled his mouth slightly, opening it to taste her once again.
She struggled for just a moment then melted against him…. Her hands, previously gripping his forearms, slid up to his neck and her fingertips scraped over the flesh of his head and neck. As her soft chest pressed against his muscle, she stepped closer to feel his body all along her torso. Groaning, she looped her arms around him and held on for all she was worth.
Feeling her give in, BA loosed his hold on her face and allowed his hands to trace down her throat. He could feel her pulse fluttering wildly against his fingers and he smiled into her kiss.
Before he could speak, a cursory knock on the door was followed by the unmistakable click of lock pick on tumblers. Entering quickly and stopping to stare at the sight of the tangled couple before him, Face smirked and remarked, "Guess I got here too soon, huh?"
BA merely turned and growled at him, menacingly. Shanne sighed and briefly rested her face against his chest then stepped away.
"Excuse me. I'm going to change. I'll be out in just a few minutes." She nodded her head at the two men and marched off to the bathroom.
Two sets of eyes watched her walk away appreciatively. BA turned first, catching Face watching the sway of her hips. He stepped between Face and Shanne's receding back, effectively cutting off his line of sight.
Looking up, Face held out his hands out in surrender and exclaimed, "Just looking! She's a beautiful woman…. But I can see who she wants… and it isn't me."
BA sighed mightily and nodded. He walked to the window and peeked out through the drawn curtains. His shoulders were tense, his eyes worried and Face wondered about the unusual mood. Deciding to take the bull by the horn so to speak, the slighter man eased up next to his friend and tentatively asked, "BA? You wanna talk about it?"
Suspiciously, BA turned his head and asked, "Talk about what?"
"Whatever is putting that worried look on your face. I mean, we're gonna be okay with DeLuca. He's a two bit mobster…. We can handle creeps like him with our hands behind our backs." The blond smiled and added merrily, "We have handled creeps like him with hands behind our backs!"
"It's not DeLuca…" BA reluctantly offered.
"It's not your mother, is it? I mean, she isn't sick is she?" Face suddenly seemed as worried as BA.
"Nah, man… Mama is fine. It's Shanne…" He looked toward the closed bathroom, where they could hear the shower running.
"Oh. Well… I'm sure she can handle herself, big guy. She's been handling you pretty well… err… well, what I meant was…" Face stumbled over his explanation as BA turned to face him, his grimace more stern than ever.
"That's not what I mean, Faceman. Shanne's been my friend for a long time. We got a history together. She's a good girl and she should be happy."
"So make her happy." The solution seemed simple to the conman who was used to making the impossible possible.
"I don't think I can, man. I… We're wanted men. I can't even see my mama when I want to. If she gets involved with me… she could lose her job, her career…" The large, frustrated man turned back to the window.
"You're right, BA. But I think you have to let her decide if it's worth it. You say you two have a history. I don't know all of your shared history, but if you share that history with her, I think you have to share this decision about your future with her as well. Don't throw away love, BA. It may not come back again."
A shadow crossed his serious face and for one instant BA thought about asking what love the blond had thrown away. Before he could act on the impulse, the two-way mike, now on its loudest setting in Face's collar squealed and Hannibal's voice was heard.
"Face… we followed the car to a mansion on March Avenue. Gates went in and he picked up a few others on the way."
"Others?" BA and Face exchanged rueful looks.
"Yeah… you two get down here with Shanne and let's take care of this mess right now. We have a party to crash. I think she's gonna be real surprised by the guest of honor here today."
The bathroom door opened as the last words came over the mic and Shanne joined them. "Guest of honor? Party?" She stepped into her boots and leaned over to tie the laces. "What on earth is he talking about?"
"He's on the Jazz… he's on the Jazz." BA muttered then exchanged resigned looks with Face.
Shanne waited for an explanation. None came so she merely shrugged into her gun holster and slipped her weapon into place. Grabbing her jacket, she asked, "Okay? What are we waiting on? Let's go!" She motioned widely and gave an eerily jazzy grin before sweeping out the door and into the night.
"Oh great…. Now she's got it!" BA followed her out the door and to the waiting van.
Twenty minutes later they pulled up to the rented car parked several hundred yards away from the front gate of the estate on March Ave. The small sports car was deserted and no sign of Hannibal or Murdock could be seen. Stepping out the van and cautiously approaching the driver's door, BA looked into the seats, around the hood and the far side of the car.
"No sign of'em Faceman." Worriedly, Face accepted the news and joined him. Handing out guns from the locker of the van, the blond lieutenant began to speak tersely. "Okay, we have to assume that they didn't go in willingly. Hannibal would have updated us or left a signal."
"Right." BA accepted and quickly checked his gun for safety and ammo. "Shanne, you wait here…"
"No way! This is my bust. I've been after DeLuca for months. I've wanted him for years. I'm going in there." Shanne pulled out and readied her own weapon.
"Shanne…." BA began to object.
She turned sharply and got right in his face. "BA… I'm a trained agent. I know what I'm doing. I am going in there, either with or without you. If you leave me here, I'm just going to go in on my own."
Before the argument could escalate, Face interceded. "She's right, BA. Besides, we're two men down. We need her."
Silently, the trio crept through the landscaped lawn and approached the house, circling to the rear. Just before Face picked the lock to allow them entrance to the kitchen, BA stopped the woman and pressed his lips to her ear. "At least stay with me." When she'd narrowed her eyes and started to pull away, he added softly while staring into her eyes, "Please."
While he had grudgingly accepted that she could handle herself, he knew he'd feel better if she was within sight. Thankfully she agreed to his last minute plea and together they went in search of Hannibal and Murdock, while Face went see what DeLuca and his associates were about. BA led the way down to the long, parquet hallway to the row of servants' quarters that lined the back of the house. Checking each room systematically, they began to work their way down the line.
Finding all of these rooms unoccupied, they soundlessly crept up the back stairs to the second level of the house. Hugging the wall, they moved into the heart of the house. With guns drawn, they worked opposite sides until they came to an open landing, leading into a large library. They paused outside the large, heavy oak door. Raised voices filtered through to their ears.
"Mr. DeLuca I swear… there was only these two! No sign of the girl or the big black man!" The slightly panicked voice was one not recognized by the two in the hall and they listened for any further clues.
"Good, Joey… good. And you better be right… my partner's going to be real upset if you let that no count girl get by you. He's got a lot to lose, ya know if she gets in here and fingers him!" The as yet unseen, Mr. DeLuca dismissed the lackey. "You can go now, Joey… but keep a sharp eye out, will you? This isn't over, yet."
"Yessir, nosir!" Clicking footsteps were heard approaching the door and BA and Shanne searched wildly for hiding places.
Flinging open a door, BA shoved Shanne inside and went further down the hall in the hopes of meeting up with Face. He hated leaving her alone, but if she stayed put as directed, they'd pick her up in a few minutes. Three of them would be safer together as they searched for Hannibal and Murdock. He scuttled around a corner and head into someone else! Bringing up his weapon and a massive arm, he very nearly landed a blow until he saw the familiar features of Face come into focus. Pulling the punch just in time, he let out a held breath and jerked his head to indicate for Face to follow him back the way he'd come.
They made their way back to Shanne's hiding place and eased open the door to join her. BA hissed into the darkness as he entered, "Shanne… it's me."
Silence greeted him and his hackles rose as his instincts went into overdrive. He halted abruptly, his back stiffening and his muscles clenched. Turning slightly, he sensed Face ready his own weapon at the age-old signal of distress. Reaching out with his free hand, BA blindly reached for a light switch on the wall to his left.
Before he could locate it, the room was flooded with harsh artificial light and the pair at the door blinked momentarily. Immediately searching for the other occupant of the room, they found her quickly… unfortunately she wasn't alone… or conscious.
"Welcome, Sergeant Baracus, Lieutenant Peck. So glad to see that you decided to join us." The cold voice belonged to a familiar face. Not DeLuca or Gates, but another… much more deadly than expected.
The man stood over Shanne, a hypodermic needle in one hand. "She's only unconscious until I decide what to do with her, exactly. Then, shall we say… all bets are off?" He flicked the syringe away and motioned with the gun in his other hand to her head. "Please come in, gentleman… your friends will be joining us shortly. Then the party will start."
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