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This page last viewed: 2017-08-15 and has been viewed 2515 times
by Cathy Fisher and Stephanie Roberts
Summary: When the A-Team visit BA's mom for the holidays, they end up getting some surprises they didn't bargain for. Mrs. B has a beau, but is he really too good to be true?
Warnings: A little violence, a little angst, spoiler for the episode "Lease with an Option to Die"
Comments: This story was written in response to one of the Fan Fiction Festival challenges. Thanks to Danielle and Fancy for providing the beta reading.
Disclaimer: The A-Team does not belong to us. They belong to Stephen Cannel We are just having fun with them. Mike the skunk is not one of Murdock's "friends" . . . he belongs to the episode "Battle of Bel Air".
Rays of fading sunlight cut through the crisp air, casting the city in a dazzling aura of gold. Wisps of smoke rose from the towering buildings, and waves lapped up against the manufactured seawall, both teased by a gentle wind that danced within the air.
A gentle blanket of white snow covered the area, and ice floated along the picturesque lakefront that was the grand design of Daniel Burnham. A few of the buildings that had part of his architectural plan for the World's Fair still stood, including the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute.
The famous Buckingham Fountain rested proudly at the center of the city's premiere lakefront park, named in honor of General Ulysses S. Grant. Normally water flowed and spouted high into the air from this popular attraction, but this time of year it was golden lights that cascaded down its tiers.
A small two-engine private jet streaked through the air, banking as it slowly began its descent. At the controls was the wry figure of Captain H. M. Murdock, wearing his trademark brown bomber jacket and dark blue baseball cap. Glancing to his right, he looked past the figure of Colonel John Smith and whistled. "Sure is pretty down there, Hannibal," Murdock remarked.
Hannibal followed the pilot's gaze out the cockpit window; his eyes filled with the stunning sight of the Christmas lights along the Magnificent Mile. Memories of visiting the city around Christmas during his childhood came flooding back, especially when he and his mom went to buy Frango mints from Marshall Field's. A smile crept across his face as he replied, "Sure is. What do you think, Face?"
From the back of the plane, Lieutenant Templeton Peck was also gifted with a look at the sparkling lights below, which seemed to burn more intensely as the evening sun set. Having been raised in a Catholic orphanage, Face remembered how big of an event Christmas was . . . almost too big. Granted, it was a time of year where everyone was into the spirit of giving, but too much was made of the holiday with the decorations, the music, the last minute rush to buy gifts.
Moving up to the doorway that separated the cockpit from the cabin, Face sighed, "I don't know Hannibal. When you've seen one Christmas, you've seen them all."
Hannibal looked at his second-in-command and frowned slightly. "I've found that Christmas depends on where and how you see it . . ."
The A-Team leader was about to continue when static broke through the radio. Hannibal gave a look to the con artist to indicate that this conversation was not yet over. This was a topic they had tried to discuss several times before, but Face always managed to finagle his way out of it.
"Private jet, Meigs control. Please identify."
Murdock picked up the microphone and depressed the button with his thumb, "Alpha Tango One-Niner-Seven-Two, requesting permission to land."
After a brief moment, the air traffic controller's voice was heard over the radio, "One-Niner-Seven-Two, you're not on our landing schedule. We need to put you in a holding pattern. Take a heading of Oh-Two-Niner."
"Meigs, One-Niner-Seven-Two, roger," Murdock replied, gently turning the yoke of the plane to the heading indicated by the tower to begin the holding pattern.
Hannibal looked back towards the young Lieutenant. He implicitly trusted Face, but he couldn't help but be worried by this turn of events. "Face, I thought you had filed those fake flight plans which would have cleared us for a landing here."
"Do you realize just how hard it is to not only hack into the FAA's computers, but also to put something like that in without having it look suspicious?" Templeton complained, casting a nervous glance back towards the snoring giant strapped into a seat in the cabin. He shuddered at the thought of what would happen if BA woke up while they were still in the air . . .
If anything, Face knew that BA brought this upon himself. He had told the other members of the Team that this winter was the 20th anniversary of his father's death, which would be especially hard on his mother. Despite the fact that she would be watched by the military, he wanted to be there for her. Unfortunately, an assignment the Team decided to take on delayed their departure for Chicago, forcing them to acquire air transportation if they wanted to arrive in the Windy City in time for the holidays.
Pulling out a cigar, Hannibal stuck it between his teeth but didn't light it just yet. "How much fuel do we have left, Murdock?"
The A-Team pilot looked at the gauge above his head and noted, "'Bout 15 minutes. You'd better hope they find those flight plans or we're gonna be takin' a swim."
Face shifted uncomfortably upon hearing those words. He was getting worried, and it was beginning to show. "What about re-routing to O'Hare or Midway?"
"Not enough fuel for that, Faceman. We'd end up going down in a residential area before we get to the airfield. 'Sides, Midway and O'Hare have more security. We'd all be in cuffs before you could sing 'Jingle Bells'," Murdock noted solemnly.
Face gulped. He didn't know what Murdock meant by taking a swim. He could only guess that the water would be freezing this time of year, which wasn't too appealing, but neither was the prospect of being thrown in jail by the local authorities until Decker could arrive.
Hannibal looked from Murdock to Face, his calm expression not revealing his own concerns with this situation. If worse came to worse, he could order Murdock to set down on Lake Shore Drive or Columbus Drive, as those stretches could act like a runway . . . although the city wouldn't be too happy with them.
Murdock was about to depress the button on the microphone to inform the tower about their fuel situation when the voice of the air traffic controller burst over the radio once more, "One-Niner-Seven-Two, Meigs Tower. Our computer system had a glitch and just came up with your flight plans. You are cleared for a shoreline visual approach to Runway One-Eight. Winds are out of the southeast at ten knots."
"Meigs, One-Niner-Seven-Two, roger. Clear to land," the A-Team pilot replied over the microphone, inwardly breathing a sigh of relief as he lowered the landing gear and set the flaps to the first notch.
"Oh, ye of little faith," Face remarked with a smug smile.
Murdock turned the yoke of the plane to line up for the approach to the airport, taking them past several notable landmarks. Hannibal had a twinkle in his eyes, which was usually present when the esteemed leader was on the Jazz. He knew something that he wasn't revealing to Face, at least not just yet.
Templeton Peck looked through the front windshield of the cockpit, his jaw practically dropping when he spotted the airport. The runway lights glowed intensely, but there was still enough daylight for him to see that the airport, except for one small strip of land containing a parking lot and an access road, was completely surrounded by water.
"We're landing there? You're kidding, right?" Face asked with a bit of a nervous laugh. From the looks of the landing strip, if a plane missed the runway they'd end up in the drink.
Taking on a regal British accent, Murdock used the con man's own words against him. "Oh, ye of little faith."
Watching the exchange with amused interest, Hannibal couldn't help but laugh slightly. "Where's your sense of adventure, Lieutenant?"
"I think I left it back in Los Angeles," Face replied dismally. He absent-mindedly performed the sign of the cross as he silently prayed that this landing would not be like most the A-Team pilot had performed . . . if you could consider a crash as being landing.
Howling Mad pulled the lever down for the flaps control one more notch as he scanned the instruments. Two buildings, including the domed shaped Adler Planetarium loomed briefly in the windshield before passing below as the plane soared by, giving way to the sight of the runway which was now much closer.
At the instant that Murdock thought that the plane was going to touch down, he pulled back on the yoke. A couple of slight bumps confirmed to him that the tires had made contact with the runway. He then pushed the yoke forward until the nose gear also touched down, and then immediately began to apply the brakes while cutting back on the engines.
When the plane finally came to a rest at the end of the runway, both Murdock and Hannibal looked back to their supply officer, only to notice that he had covered his eyes with his hands. One of his infamous "on the Jazz" grins flashed across Hannibal's face as he said, "You can look now, Face. We're on the ground in one piece."
Face peeked out between his fingers before deciding that it was safe enough to lower his hands. He let out a very visible sigh of relief. One thing was for sure, though . . . the next time the Team had to come to Chicago, security or no security, they were going to take a commercial flight and land at O'Hare.
Murdock increased the power to the engines to taxi over to the apron where other planes were sitting. "Smooth as silk, Faceman. A laugh a minute, a walk in the park," he started to rattle off.
"Alright, Murdock! Let's just get this plane parked and get sleeping beauty back here off before he comes to," Face advised.
Almost as if on cue, albeit a bad one, the snoring giant in the back snapped awake. He blinked his eyes and looked around, realizing from the seats and the windows of the fuselage that he was in his worst possible nightmare. "I'm on a plane!" he bellowed.
Hannibal and Face glanced at each other. They knew someone was going to have to calm down the muscular Sergeant, and they definitely didn't want to leave that task to Murdock. They wanted to keep BA from strangling him, as he often threatened to do, as they would need the pilot to fly them back to Los Angeles when the visit was over. BA wasn't going to be happy, and if they had to drive back to sunny, warm, southern California, he would probably make the trip miserable and unpleasant.
"Hannibal, I'm on a plane! You guys are gonna pay!" BA threatened.
Easing the plane into an open spot, Murdock started to power down the engines as he suggested to his commander, "Do you think music would soothe this savage beast?"
Hannibal's eyes lit up with the question from the pilot. Murdock may have been deemed insane by the state, but he was a certifiable genius. "Thanks, Murdock! I think a touch of Christmas cheer is just what our resident grinch needs at the moment."
Climbing out from the co-pilot seat, Hannibal stuck his unlit cigar back in the left breast pocket of his safari jacket. He knew smoking a cigar at the moment would just serve to make BA that much more irate. His grin bigger than ever, Colonel Smith strolled into the cabin of the plane, merrily humming "Deck the Halls." Inwardly, he hoped that his choice of a Christmas tune wouldn't give the muscular mechanic any ideas . . .
Spotting his commander walking into the section of the plane where he was strapped down, BA growled, "I warned ya, sucker. I warned ya' what I was going to do if you got me on a plane again."
"Stow that, Sergeant," Hannibal ordered in an authoritative tone. "You were the one who wanted to go to Chicago and be with your mom this Christmas, and you were also the one who insisted that we take that last mission, which delayed our departure. We wouldn't have made it here in time for the holidays if Murdock didn't fly us."
Bosco Baracus glanced down to the floor of the cabin, a somewhat solemn and guilty expression crossing his face as he realized that Hannibal was right. A kid from the Watts Challenger's Club had been in trouble, and BA couldn't say no to helping him, practically threatening the others to join in and take on the case. If they hadn't helped the kid, they would have had plenty of time to drive to Chicago.
Seeing that the mechanical genius wasn't about to knock his head off, Hannibal undid the belt that securely kept BA in place. "You know, BA, this would be so much easier if we could get you over your fear of heights," Colonel Smith mentioned.
"No way, man. If people were meant ta fly, we would've been born with wings," BA quipped, rubbing his sore neck.
Hannibal grinned at the Sergeant, and then turned towards the cockpit when he heard movement up there. He noticed Murdock opening the door to the plane and lowering the stairs as quickly as he possibly could. He was jumping around so much he looked like he had swallowed a whole jar of Mexican jumping beans. Face stood right behind him, his arms wrapped around his torso, shivering so much that his teeth chattered loud enough for others to hear him.
Once the stairs were fully lowered, both men made a mad dash for the warmth of the terminal. Colonel Smith watched them and laughed, pulling out a couple of parkas from a bag in the rear of the plane.
Even BA managed to crack a small smile, at least until he recalled how miserable and unpleasant both Face and Murdock got when they were sick. And then, in typical fashion, they would pass their colds off to the rest of the Team. Hannibal was the definition of extreme at times . . . normally, he was very bright, cheerful, and playful, but when he got nailed with a cold, he was worse than the rest of his Team combined!
BA got a parka from Hannibal and slipped it on, making sure he zippered it up to block out as much of the cold as possible. As he watched Hannibal do the same, he noticed the four bags. The one that Hannibal was pulling the jackets out from contained two more, one for Murdock and one for Face. But the contents of the other three were a mystery. "What's in those?"
"Well, since you asked, BA, one has some ordinance. Your mom did say that she was watched during the holidays, so it was better that we brought some firepower, just in case. One has the presents we picked up for your mom, and the other is a surprise that'll help us get past the MPs to see her . . ." Hannibal replied, a huge mischievous grin crossing his face when he vaguely mentioned the last bag.
BA recognized the look on his commander's face and shook his head. Hannibal was clearly on the Jazz, and BA had a feeling that he wasn't going to like what was in that last bag. And he thought having Mike, the skunk, in his van was bad . . .
Murdock stood at the counter, briskly rubbing his arms in an effort to warm up. He thought leather jackets were supposed to keep the people who wore them warm, but his bomber jacket did just the opposite. It seemed to capture the cold within its fibers, further chilling him to the bone.
One thing he had to admit, though . . . he had been impressed by how Face had thought of all contingencies in this trip. Well, almost all of them . . . even though he had managed to get the landing and storage fees waived for the plane, plus was now working on trying to scam up some transportation, he hadn't thought to bring winter coats.
The pilot saw Face beginning to return, but also noticed that Hannibal and BA were entering the terminal bundled up in very warm jackets! His jaw dropped as if it had turned into a solid block of ice. Hannibal pulled out another coat and tossed it to Murdock, who immediately put it on while exclaiming, "Oh, Colonel, I just want to kiss you!"
Hannibal gave Murdock a strange look and suggested, "Uh, I don't think that will be necessary, Captain."
BA snickered a bit as he handed another coat to Templeton Peck. "Thanks, BA. Well guys, I had to bite the bullet with this one, but I managed to scam us a nice vehicle. We won't be riding in the lap of luxury, but I think you'll find it very comfortable," Face informed them in a measured tone.
Murdock rolled his eyes slightly in disbelief. The last time Face scammed them a car that he said was comfortable, the only thing that fit that description was the seats . . . provided that they could have stopped themselves from bouncing out of them with how bad the suspension, shocks, brakes, and transmission were.
"Face, just what kind of a vehicle did you manage to get for us?" Hannibal asked, just as skeptical as he also recalled the last vehicle that the con man had managed to acquire.
"This one better not be like the last car, sucka. I don't like havin my kidneys bounced aroun like a rubber ball," BA growled.
Murdock studied his fingernails for a moment and added, "You know, Faceman, the big guy's right. The last car you got us was a wreck."
"Come on, guys? Don't you trust me?" Face pleaded almost innocently.
"No!" all three men replied in unison.
The look on Templeton's face was that of mock hurt, even though he simply shrugged his shoulders. Donning the coat that BA had given him, Face made his way through the terminal and out the front doors, leaving the rest of the Team standing there.
Hannibal watched his supply officer and let out a chuckle, pulling out a cigar from the breast pocket of his parka. He took a moment to light it and blow out a puff of smoke before turning to the rest of the Team. "Come on guys. Let's grab a bag and follow him out there before he accuses us of making him wait in the freezing cold and getting him sick," he suggested, slinging the bag with the surprise over his shoulder.
BA grabbed the bag with the ordinance, and Murdock the one with the presents, looking like a rag-tag group of Santas without the red suits. Exiting the terminal, their eyes widened as they were greeted by the sight of Face leaning up against a black Chevrolet Suburban. It sparkled beneath the artificial light and looked to be brand new.
"I don't believe it," BA huffed, quickly moving to climb in behind the wheel of the vehicle.
"Nice, Face," Hannibal commented with a smile that echoed his satisfaction.
Murdock got in the seat behind BA and asked, "Facey, where did you say that the hotel was that we were going to be staying at?"
Both the con artist and Colonel Smith climbed into the vehicle as BA started up the engine. "I managed to scam us the penthouse suite at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. You do know where that's at, don't you BA?" Face asked.
"'Course I do, sucka. I grew up here," BA growled lightly. Shifting the vehicle into gear, he pulled out onto Lake Shore Drive. Not only was he thankful to leave the airport behind, but he was also eager to see his mom . . .
A short time later, the Team was gathered in the sitting
room of the penthouse suite at the Hilton and Towers. The room was tastefully
decorated in cream and white with leather furniture and a thick Persian carpet.
Face went immediately to the wet bar and began to check its contents. Pulling
out a bottle, he examined the label.
"Hmmm. Chardonnay. Not a bad year either," he muttered before replacing the bottle and wandering over to the sofa where Hannibal was rooting through the large bag he had brought in.
BA paced beside the door, looking impatiently at Hannibal. He had wanted to go directly to his mama's apartment, but Hannibal had insisted that they check into the hotel first.
"C'mon, man. I wanna see my mama," the sergeant said, stopping long enough to glare at Hannibal.
"Just a moment, BA. I want to make sure we have everything for the costumes we need to get past the MPs," the colonel replied, unfazed by the big man's fierce scowl.
Murdock, who was wandering around the room picking up items, suddenly spoke. "Nice place, Face," he
remarked casually as he examined a picture of pastel swirls on the wall. "How'd you scam it?"
Hannibal and BA both looked at Face.
Face grinned and spread his hands. "What can I say? It takes charm, wit, and the ability to know what to
say when. If you guys only knew the timing it takes to do these things..."
"What was her name?" Hannibal asked, grinning around the cigar clenched between his teeth.
Face sighed and sat down on the white leather couch. "Mae," he replied resignedly. The guys just had no
appreciation for the 'intricacies' of his job, he thought disgustedly. It was fun, though. He smiled as he remembered the pretty desk clerk.
Hannibal laughed and continued looking around in the bag at his feet. Finally he found what he was looking
for and, pulling out a large red bundle, tossed it to BA.
"Oh, Hannibal," BA groaned, his voice dangerously close to a whine, "not the Santa costume. Why can't I be a repairman or somethin like that."
"Now BA," Hannibal's voice was patient as he fished the rest of the items for the Santa costume out of the big bag. "You know that you are the hardest one to disguise. Those MPs watching your Mama's apartment building are looking for you especially, and the repairman costume just wouldn't work. Besides, it's Christmas." With a devilish grin he got up and handed the large black boots to BA who took them, grumbling under his breath.
"Ah, big guy," Murdock crooned, dancing just out of reach of BA's threatening fists, "I think you'll make a great Santa."
"Yeah, BA," Face grinned, joining into the banter. "Red is really your color."
Jumping in before BA tried to strangle Murdock, Hannibal stepped between the two and handed the pilot his costume. "Here, Murdock," he said with a grin, "You can be his elf."
The pilot's jaw dropped as he held up the forest green outfit. "Tights?" he asked incredulously. "Hannibal, you've got to be kidding." BA and Face dissolved into giggles.
"Look at it this way, Murdock," Face managed, between gasps for breath, "the ladies will love it." He doubled over into another fit of laughter. Murdock just glared at him before looking pleadingly at his commander. The colonel had an evil gleam in his eyes as he looked at his red-faced lieutenant.
"I certainly hope so, Face, because you're going to get a first hand chance to find out." He let out a chuckle as he handed Face a gray, nondescript bundle. Curious, Face took it and unfolded it, revealing an ugly gray dress and wig. If Murdock's jaw had dropped at the tights, Face's hit the floor.
Grinning, Murdock started singing "Grandma got run over by a reindeer."
Scowling viciously at the pilot and giving BA's giggling form a baleful glare, he turned on his commander. Speaking above the pilot's singing, he asked sharply, "What about you, Hannibal? What are you going to be wearing."
Smiling, the colonel pulled out a fresh cigar and took the time to light it before he answered. "I'm going to be your poor blind husband," he said, examining his cigar carefully as he waited for the explosion he knew was coming.
"What?" Murdock was the first to recover, but Face jumped right in after him.
"You mean we have to wear these ridiculous costumes while you..." the conman waved his hands in the air, for once at a loss for words.
"We all have to make sacrifices, Lieutenant," Hannibal said with an easy grin. "Besides, it's the best I can come up with. If any of you have a better idea on how to get in the building without the MPs seeing us..." He left the sentence unfinished, but knew he had won as his men just glared back at him. "Good then," he said briskly, "let's get moving."
Mrs. Baracus puttered around in her kitchen baking cookies. She loved Christmas. Not only did the snow and Christmas lights transform the city into a sight to behold, but the preparations always delighted her. She loved to hang lights and decorations, buy and wrap gifts for her friends and neighbors, and as always, her specialty, cooking goodies for anybody who would take them. She couldn't understand why some people couldn't see the season as a wonderful and happy time.
The only thing she hated about Christmas was the fact that her son couldn't be there to share it with her. Watching Scooter's reactions to the presents and the decorations had always provided many happy memories for her, especially after the death of her husband almost twenty years ago.
Sighing, she stood straight and stretched, digging a fist into the small of her back as she looked around her apartment in approval. The normally spare furnishings were gaily decorated with lights, garlands, and strands of Christmas cards that hung on the wall from corner to corner. Ornaments and nativity scenes graced her mantle, coffee table, and any other flat surface she could find. In the corner, a small Christmas tree winked and sparkled next to an expensive looking entertainment center that seemed out of place with the simple surroundings.
As her eyes fell on a gold wrapped present beneath the tree, her smile grew tender, and a mist clouded her eyes. This Christmas would be even more splendid. After many years of spending the holidays alone, she finally had someone to share it with.
The timer on the stove brought her out of her reverie and she bent once more to retrieve the cookies from the oven. She had just finished putting the new batch in and started the timer when the doorbell rang. Shivers of excitement ran down her aging spine. That could only be one person.
As she opened the door, a greeting already on her lips, her eyes opened wide in surprise when she saw, not the person she was expecting, but…Santa Claus? Standing behind him was someone who looked like one of Santa's elves, completely dressed in green from head to toe. At that moment, Santa reached up and pulled down the white beard.
"Merry Christmas, Mama," he said, and Mrs. Baracas burst into tears as she threw herself into her son's arms.
"Scooter! It's you. You're actually here." She wiped her tears away long enough to draw her son into the apartment. She ran her hands over his face just to make sure she wasn't dreaming. "It's really you."
"'Course it's me, Mama," he said, smiling shyly at her delight. "Who else would come bringin gifts for Christmas." With that he set down the sack he had been carrying and rummaged through it to bring out four, beautifully wrapped packages.
Mrs. Baracus put her hands to her face in delight and gave her son another kiss on the cheek before turning to the green clad man standing awkwardly behind Scooter. Her eyes twinkled at the sight of the green tights and the elf's very embarrassed look, but she pretended not to notice as she drew the other man into an embrace.
"And Murdock. It's so nice to see you again. This is such a wonderful surprise. But where are Hannibal and Face?" Before either Murdock or BA could reply, the doorbell rang again.
BA grinned as he watched his mother walk over and open the door. An old, blind man tottered past the surprised woman, using a cane to show him the way as well as to support his aging body. He was followed by one of the ugliest old hags Mrs. B had ever seen.
"Excuse me," she said, slightly flustered. "Can I help you?" Her eyes widened as the old man dropped the cane and drew off the wig and sunglasses he had been wearing. Hannibal's twinkling blue eyes shone back at her as he walked over and gave her a peck on the cheek. The old hag behind the colonel suddenly had golden blonde hair as Templeton Peck took of the ugly gray wig. Mrs. B felt the urge to giggle at the contrast between the hair and the makeup on the conman's face.
"Merry Christmas, Mrs. B," Hannibal and Face said together, both grinning like Cheshire Cats.
Elizabeth Baracus laughed as she surveyed the four men in their ridiculous costumes. She couldn't believe they had managed to surprise her like this. This was turning into the most wonderful Christmas ever.
As everyone moved to the living room, talking excitedly, Murdock grabbed the bag that BA had carried in and discreetly snuck into the bathroom to change. Hannibal probably thought it was funny, but wearing tights in the middle of winter in Chicago . . . Murdock shivered, remembering the cold air before he and BA had entered the apartment building. There was no way Hannibal was going to get him back into that costume. They would just have to find another way out of the building.
As he was changing, there was a loud knock on the door. "Hurry up, Murdock!" Although muffled, he could clearly hear Face's voice as he begged, "I gotta change, too. I don't want anyone to think I've had a sex change. Think of how that would ruin my social life!"
The pilot snickered slightly as he continued to strip off the dreaded elf costume. "Hold onto your wig, Facey . . . I'll be out in a few minutes."
A short while later, everyone had changed and settled around the living room with warm cookies and milk. As they sat visiting with Mrs. B, Hannibal allowed his eyes to wander over the room. It was a habit of his, scanning each place he entered for possible dangers or information he could use later. Now as he looked around, he realized that something was bothering him. He couldn't put his finger on it, though.
As his eyes fell on the small entertainment center along one wall, something clicked. That hadn't been here the last time they had visited. His eyes began to find other things that didn't fit in with the modest surroundings, a fancy cuckoo clock on the wall, an expensive crystal vase with a dozen roses in it sitting on a shelf.
Looking around to see if any of his men had noticed what he had, he found BA near the tree examining a gold wrapped present that hadn't been among the ones they had brought.
"Mama," BA asked curiously, "Who's this Spencer guy?"
Hannibal's eyes flicked to Mrs. B to see how she would react. 'Hmmm,' he thought, as her entire face lit up.
"Oh, Spencer Jackson. He's the a man I started to work for a couple of weeks ago when I got that new job as a secretary at the Museum of Science and Industry." She spoke casually, but her sparkling eyes betrayed how much she liked this man.
"New job," BA asked, confused. "I thought you volunteered in the Imagination Station, with the kids." His mother had worked at the Museum for as long as he could remember, donating her time helping the children to grow and learn. This dedication had fostered BA's love for children and his subsequent work in youth and daycare centers.
"I still do," his mother replied. "In fact, it was my work there that caught Spencer's attention. He offered to let me work in his office part-time and spend the rest of the time with the kids. I thought I could use the money, so I said yes." She smiled sweetly as she remembered the way Spencer had waltzed into her life and how things had developed since then.
"He is such a sweet fellow and so pleasant to work for," she continued after a moment. "I stood up for him when one of the employees was complaining about him to the president. The poor man might have lost his job and so close to Christmas. Anyway, he bought me that lovely television as a gift to say thank-you. I told him it wasn't necessary, but he just insisted." Her voice trailed off defensively, uncertain whether she should have refused such an expensive gift.
"Mama," BA started to say, but Hannibal interrupted him as he moved to examine the cuckoo clock.
"I noticed this was new, too. Did he give you this as well?" The colonel kept his voice neutral, even though every internal alarm bell was ringing. Why would a man give a woman he had just met such obviously expensive gifts?
Mrs. B nodded slowly saying, "He has a lot of money and he is ever so generous. He says he likes to give nice things away to people he likes." She sounded more uncertain.
"Mama," BA spoke up once more. "You don't even know this guy and he's giving you stuff like this."
"I do know him," Mrs. B said defensively. "He is a very sweet man. We've started to see a lot of each other since he offered me a job in his division and I really like him. Besides," she continued, putting her hands on her hips and staring sternly down at her son, "I am a grown woman. I know to be careful about who I see. Besides," she said again, relaxing as a small smile crossed her features, "he's a really wonderful man."
BA exchanged a guilty look with Hannibal before putting the present back under the tree. "I'm sorry, mama. It's nice to see you so happy again."
And it was true, he thought, he hadn't seen her like this since his father's death twenty years before. Maybe this guy Spencer would be good for her. He tried to ignore the nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach. His mama was perfectly capable of taking care of herself.
As Hannibal started moving back to his seat, the doorbell rang. The heads of all four men jerked sharply towards the door before turning questioningly to Mrs. B. Hannibal opened his mouth to suggest to his men that they disappear until Mrs. B could get rid of whoever was at the door, but she jumped to her feet and was opening the door before any of the men could move.
Standing just outside was a tall, black man dressed smartly in a suit and tie. His hair was oiled back and he sported a carefully trimmed mustache and beard. The gray in his hair indicated that he was Mrs. B's age or perhaps slightly younger.
"Spencer," BA's mama said breathlessly, her large smile indicating her pleasure.
The man smiled and greeted her with a kiss on the cheek before he handed her a bouquet of flowers and moved into the room. As his eyes fell on the four men seated and standing around the living room, his eyes widened in surprise.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Lizzie, I didn't know you had company."
He didn't look the slightest bit repentant of the interruption, just curious, Hannibal thought sourly. Even though his voice and appearance were cultured and well bred, the easygoing colonel disliked him immediately. Or perhaps it was because of those qualities. He seemed too similar to the greasy slimeballs the team dealt with on a regular basis.
Face and Murdock exchanged glances. This was the guy Mrs. B had been talking about? 'At least he's got good taste in clothes,' Face thought, eyeing the expensive suit appraisingly.
BA, however, was more concerned with the nickname. His eyes narrowed. No one had ever called his mama 'Lizzie'. He scowled darkly at the intruder.
Mrs. B was oblivious to this, however. "No, no," she hurried to explain. "You aren't interrupting anything. Come in, come in." Closing the door, she scurried into the living room to introduce him to the team.
Although she did not tell Spencer who they were, she did introduce BA as her son and the others as his friends. It wouldn't take much checking at all to discover who they really were, Hannibal thought darkly. Mrs. B should know better, either that or this guy was clouding her senses.
As soon as Face opened the door to the penthouse suite, Murdock pushed past him and threw himself facedown onto the leather couch in the middle of the sitting room. It had been a long day. First there was the tricky landing at Meigs Field, then having to sneak into Mrs. B's apartment as an elf, he shuddered at that thought, and finally the awkward meeting with that horrid man.
Then to top it all off, they had had to sneak through a back alley full of rotting garbage to avoid attracting the attention of the MPs. Hannibal had wanted them to put on the costumes again, but both Face and Murdock had vehemently vetoed the idea and the colonel had given in.
Turning over, the pilot studied his friends as they entered the room. Face looked tired, as he trudged into the room and tossed his coat on a glass side table before slumping into a stuffed leather easy chair.
BA's face was like a thunderhead. He had kept his temper the entire time they had talked with that slimeball Spencer, but now he looked ready to burst. Pacing up and down the length of the room, he glowered at the rich surroundings. They reminded him of someone he would dearly love to pound into the ground right now.
Hannibal looked thoughtful. He chewed on his cigar as he pulled a chair from the kitchenette into the sitting room and straddled it, chin and hands resting on the back.
"Well, guys," the colonel finally said into the silence. Murdock scrambled into a sitting position and BA stopped his pacing and plopped down beside him.
"I don't like it, Hannibal," the sergeant growled. "I don't like him, and I don't like it that my mama is seein him."
"I think you're right, BA," Hannibal agreed. "Something's not right with this guy. He's more than he seems to be."
Face took his arm from over his eyes and squinted at the others before saying, "Is it just me, or did he seem kind of vague about what he does for a living?"
Murdock nodded slowly. "Yeah, I saw that too, and he got real uncomfortable when we started asking him questions."
Hannibal suddenly grinned, a familiar light beginning to shine in his eyes. "Whaddya say guys. Think we should investigate?"
BA nodded vigorously. Murdock thought about it for a moment then shrugged his consent. Face, however, decided to play devil's advocate.
"What if we're wrong, Hannibal." Holding up his hand to forestall any arguments he spoke quickly, "Let me finish. If we are wrong and this guy is genuine, we might end up causing more harm than good. Right now all we have to go on is the fact that some rich guy is interested in BA's mother and has given her a lot of gifts. There is nothing really wrong with that."
"That and the fact that our guts are all screaming 'fake'," Hannibal pointed out and Face shrugged in assent.
"Perhaps. I'm not saying that we shouldn't investigate," the conman said calmly. "I'm just saying that we should be careful not to ruin something that is obviously making Mrs. B very happy until we are sure we are right."
BA nodded worriedly and glanced at his commander. "Faceman's right, Hannibal. I ain't seen her this happy since my dad died. What if we are wrong?"
"Then we'll just have to be careful, like Face says," the colonel agreed, unfazed.
"I have a couple of contacts that should be able to run a background check on Spencer," Face suggested, leaning forward in his chair. "It might take a few days, but they'll find out if there's anything shady in this guy's past." Hannibal nodded, taking a long drag on his cigar as he considered the problem from all angles.
"I have an idea," Murdock spoke up as stretched out his long legs and propped them up on the glass coffee table in the center of the room between the couch and two chairs. Face glared at him but said nothing, and Murdock continued, ignoring the conman's dirty look. "I've always wanted to see the sights in Chicago. I've heard it's real pretty at Christmastime. Plus, we didn't get much of a chance to look around the last time we were here."
"I think I know where you're heading, Captain," Hannibal said, the gleam growing stronger in his eyes. "One of those sights would just happen to be the Museum of Science and Industry and the office of a certain Spencer Jackson." The Jazz pumping wildly through his veins, the colonel stood up and began to pace. Stopping suddenly, his eyes fell on the conman slumped in the easy chair. "Face, first thing tomorrow I want you to get BA the materials needed to build a couple of bugs. That way we can keep an eye on Spencer until you get the info from the background check."
"And if we don't turn up anything with the background check…?" Face still looked skeptical.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, Lieutenant." Seeing the conman's look, Hannibal grinned and stuck a cigar between his teeth. "Lighten up, Face. This'll be fun."
**Warning** After some thought and discussion, we have decided to upgrade the rating on this part to PG13 because of what might be considered a dirty joke. Don't worry nothing graphic.
The black Suburban eased into a parking spot. At 9am, the lot was already crowded, filled with those who wanted to take advantage of the one day in the week when the museum waived the admission fee. Families exited their cars and quickly walked across the large area to the marble steps that led to the entrance of the Museum of Science and Industry. The wind kicked up, rocking the vehicle where it sat as a blast of cold seemed to penetrate the windows.
BA shut off the engine and was the first to step out of the Suburban. Moisture seemed to hang in the air which, combined with the wind, made the day seem colder than it actually was. Looking up to the cloud-covered sky, he muttered, "Looks like snow."
"Please don't say snow, BA. I can hardly handle the cold as it is," Face whined as he exited the large vehicle. Murdock slid out right after him, bounding over to the snow-filled curb. He had a wicked grin upon his face that made him look like he had been given a massive overdose of the Jazz. Face warily eyed the pilot, knowing that Murdock was up to something and he probably wasn't going to like the results.
Hannibal got out of the passenger side, and extended his hand to Mrs. Baracus to help her exit the vehicle. Looking at the vast marble façade and massive colonnades, Hannibal commented, "Impressive."
"Just you wait until you get inside, Hannibal. This ain't nothing compared to some of the exhibits the museum has," Mrs. Baracus noted. "I used to take Scooter here at least once a week when he was younger. There was always something new to explore...although he always loved going to the car exhibit and the chick hatchery,"
"Aw, mama," BA murmured, clearly embarrassed by her revelation.
"Chick hatchery?" Face inquired quizzically with a raised eyebrow.
"It ain't the kind of chicks you're thinkin 'bout, Faceman," BA clarified, knowing where the young con man was heading with that one.
Templeton Peck was about to reply when he was hit with a gust of wind that whipped his well-groomed hair around and almost knocked him backwards. Mrs. Baracus, Hannibal, and BA looked unfazed by the blast of air current. Murdock, however, made a wild grab for his hat as it flew off his head.
When he had a firm grip on the blue baseball cap, the pilot innocently asked, "Hey, Facey? I got a joke for you. Wanna hear it?"
Face let out a long sigh. He definitely wasn't in the mood for any jokes at the moment. "Since you probably won't stop asking me until you've told me, go ahead Murdock."
The Lieutenant's dismal attitude didn't serve as a put-off for the Captain. Instead, he started in with his usual bright enthusiasm, "What's the difference between a snowman and a snowwoman?"
"I have no clue. What?" Face asked, his mind too focused on his own problems to even make a connection and come up with the logical response.
"Snowballs!" Murdock replied, swiftly scooping up a bunch of snow into his bare hands, shaping it into a ball, and hurling it at the unsuspecting con man.
The orb of crystallized water soared through the air and hit Face squarely on his left temple. "Murdock!" Face protested, trying to brush the snow out of his hair.
"Bet you can't get me! You probably can't hit the broad side of a barn!" the lanky pilot challenged playfully. Laughing, Murdock started to run across the parking lot, weaving his way between cars to get to the stairs leading up to the massive copper doors of the museum.
Face looked after the exuberant Texan in annoyance, still brushing snow off his face. Both Hannibal and Mrs. Baracus laughed at the display. BA shook his head, knowing full well how much of a fool Murdock could make of himself.
"Come on...let's catch up with him before he tears the place apart," Hannibal remarked lightly, still chuckling.
"Once we get inside, you boys can put your coats in my office," Mrs. B suggested with a warm smile that seemed to melt through the coldness of the day. She looped her arm through Face's and lead the way toward the entrance.
"Sounds good, mama," BA chimed in, looking forward to his first visit back to the museum in a long time.
As BA started to follow his mother, Hannibal lightly touched his arm and gave a quick jerk of his head. BA nodded and the two allowed the distance to lengthen between themselves and the pair in front of them.
After a moment, Hannibal spoke. "Did you check the apartment for bugs?" He kept his voice low as his eyes constantly scanned the people around them.
BA nodded. "Yeah, man. I did it when she went to pick up the mail. The place is clean, Hannibal. The only bug I found was in the phone."
Hannibal nodded thoughtfully. "That might have been put there by the military. We've suspected her phone has been bugged for a long time."
BA looked at his mother. She was chattering away, slowly but surely drawing the reluctant conman into the conversation. No one could resist his mother for long. He smiled tenderly, but then his expression grew worried.
"What if we're wrong, Hannibal?" he finally asked, glancing at his commander.
"What if we're right?" the colonel replied, his serious gaze fixed on the back of the woman his entire team had come to love.
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