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Disclaimer: I don't own any A-Team characters, they're not mine, I'm just borrowing them, so please don't sue me.
Warnings: This is the first time I'm posting a work in progress fic, to kind of test if I can manage to finish it in a reasonable length of time. Oh, and if you hate Decker with a passion you may not like this fic. I treat him as not such a bad guy.
Summary: Hannibal has been nabbed by the enemy, so who's in charge of the A-Team by his last command before going missing? Why, Decker, of course!
Comments: Pretty, pretty please? I love comments . . . feed me comments . . . yummy!
Author's Notes: The bad guy, Luciano Garamella, derives his name from my dear Sicilian ancestors, none of whom, to my knowledge, were mafia members. :-) This idea of putting Decker in charge of the A-Team (minus Hannibal, of course, or it would never happen) has been tickling me for a while. So let's see where it goes . . .
Copyright 2001, by Adalia
"What's the situation, Captain?"
Colonel? Snafu. As usual. If that's not redundant."
"I need some good news, Captain."
"Sorry, Colonel. The A-Team has managed to escape yet again."
Colonel Decker gave Captain Crane a withering look and stalked away from the jeep. Crane merely shook his head and watched him go, knowing that Decker could be dangerous for the next few minutes, until he'd calmed down.
"What's the situation, Captain?"
"Situation? Oh, about the usual. A big mess."
"I'd like better news that than."
"Sorry. We didn't do as good a job of escaping as usual. Decker and Crane are right around that corner with their Jeep. But I think they think they've lost us."
"Well, that's better than nothing," Hannibal sighed, turning away from Murdock. "BA, how long 'til you can get that tire changed?"
"At least another few minutes." BA growled and gave Face a withering look.
"Why are you growling at me? It's not my fault!" Face yelped in his own defense.
Hannibal and Murdock quickly moved to shush him.
"Worry about him beating you up later. Decker is right around the corner," Hannibal said.
"And it was your fault," Murdock added.
"Was not . . ."
The two of them wandered off to the far side of the van to continue their argument. BA and Hannibal exchanged knowing grins and Hannibal moved towards the corner of the building where Murdock had said he had seen Decker. He approached the corner carefully and leaned over to peek around.
What he saw was certainly not good news. Crane was sitting in a military jeep about two hundred yards down the street and Decker, himself, was no more than twenty yards away from Hannibal's corner. Decker looked agitated. Hannibal turned and walked back to BA, looking rather agitated, himself.
"Decker is literally right around the corner, BA. Can't you speed this up a little bit?"
Hannibal walked over to Murdock and Face, happy to see that the argument had been settled one way or the other.
"Get the weapons out of the van, guys, Decker could walk around that corner any second," he said, nodding towards the corner.
Face gulped, and Murdock slapped him on the back and said, "Don't worry Face, if Decker catches you at least BA won't be able to kill you."
"You're so encouraging, Murdock," Face said sarcastically.
Hannibal chuckled at their antics and went to go look around the corner again. This time, knowing that Decker was so close, he pulled his handgun out of the waistband of his pants where he'd stuck it for convenience's sake after they'd blown the tire in the escape.
He peeked around the corner again. Decker hadn't moved, and he still looked angry. At least Hannibal could be sure that Decker thought he'd lost them. Nothing else would make him so angry.
Hannibal turned and leaned against the wall. He had to wonder what had become of Garamella and his carload of mafia goons. When he'd last seen them they were tumbling down an embankment, having been blown of the road by a combination of his skill with Baby, his beloved M-60, and the shots from Decker's jeep that went past the van and into the mafioso's car. Hannibal wanted to be able to write them off as completely subdued, but he couldn't shake the feeling that they would be back . . . probably with reinforcements.
He looked back towards the van, seeing that BA was almost done with the tire and that Face and Murdock had taken up defensive positions. Murdock covered BA from behind a trash can and Face covered the entire alley from on top of the van.
He then peeked around the corner again. He was happy to see that Decker had moved away, but also mildly consternated to watch the two of them drive the Jeep into the adjacent alley.
He turned and used quick hand signals to let the other's know he was moving away to investigate, and then cautiously went around the corner and followed the wall to the next corner. When he peeked around the edge he nearly gave away his presence by cursing out loud. He'd been right, Garamella had found reinforcements and come back for revenge.
Luciano Garamella stood in the center of the alley with twenty of his goons standing around him. They were all holding various handguns aimed at Decker and Crane, who were standing next to their Jeep with their backs to Hannibal and their hands in the air.
"What now, my little friend?" Garamella sneered in a heavy Italian accent.
Decker merely glared in reply. Following his colonel's lead, Crane also remained silent.
"No last witty remarks?" Garamella taunted. After a moment he waved his hand towards the two army officers and said, "Kill them."
As he then turned to walk back to his car, each of his twenty men raised their guns and took careful aim. Hannibal heard the sounds of twenty handguns being cocked and acted without thinking. He dashed around the corner and fired off a shot at Garamella, aiming to just miss him.
"Just a minute, Garamella!"
All heads snapped around to look at him, the twenty men readjusting their aim to this new threat.
Garamella took a moment to recognize him and then smiled evilly.
"Welcome to the party, Colonel Smith! But surely you don't think you have a chance. One armed man against twenty? You'd be dead before you could take out even one of my men," Garamella said.
"Oh, I don't know," Hannibal replied whimsically, but with a cold look in his eyes. "I'd probably get one. You, for instance."
Hannibal's gun was still aimed at Garamella and he did not seem to be worried about the twenty guns that were aimed at him.
"It rather seems that we are at an impasse, then," the mafioso said.
"Indeed, that it does," Hannibal replied.
Garamella waved his hand and his men stood down, holding their weapons at their sides. "What do you want from me, Colonel Smith?"
"What I'd really like is to see you locked behind bars. But for the moment I'll settle for these two, over here," he said, motioning towards Decker and Crane with the muzzle of his gun.
"I'm afraid I can't do that," Garamella replied. "I respect you as an adversary, but these men are mine!"
"What do you have against them?" Hannibal asked.
"The tall one killed three of my men. Including my nephew," Garamella said, pointing at Decker.
Hannibal looked at Decker questioningly.
Decker shrugged. "We ran into them while we were chasing you, Smith. There was a bit of a firefight."
"I'm sure," Hannibal replied, turning back to Garamella. "It's too bad about your nephew. But I just can't let you kill these two. How would I ever have any fun without my good friends Colonel Decker and Captain Crane to frustrate? No, I'm sorry. You're just going to have to find someone else to kill today."
"Why, you . . ." Garamella took a threatening step forward.
It was then that all hell broke loose.
Hannibal had disappeared around the corner it had taken BA mere seconds to
finish with the tire.
Only a short time after BA had put away his tools and tossed the dead tire to the side of the alley they heard the gunshot and Hannibal's shout.
The three men exchanged worried looks, and then Face jumped nimbly down from his perch on the van and motioned the others to wait. He quickly made his way around the side of the building to the second corner and cautiously leaned over too see what was going on. He took a split second to notice the twenty men with guns pointed at Hannibal before he ducked back as quickly as he could. It would not do to be seen quite yet. He dashed back around to the other alley and hopped into the van with the others.
"Garamella's back with at least twenty men. He's got Hannibal, Decker, and Crane cornered. The only way they're getting out is if we help. Hit it, BA!" Face commanded.
BA stomped down on the gas and the van went flying around the two bends. Just as Garamella took his step forwards the van came careening into view. Face popped out of the sun roof, firing over the heads of Hannibal, Decker, and Crane, who immediately dove for cover behind the military Jeep.
Garamella and his men took cover behind nearby trash cans and their own cars. The firefight was typical in it's first few minutes, both sides throwing lots of bullets and only hitting the poor, innocent cars and trash cans. Then things got ugly as one of the goons bounced a bullet off the hood of the Jeep and into Crane's leg. The Captain fell sideways, clutching his leg and hissing in pain.
This time, Hannibal didn't restrain himself. He cursed.
Decker gave him a confused look. He hadn't seen Crane go down, being stuck on the opposite side of the car from his Captain and Hannibal.
"Things just went from bad to worse, Decker,"
Hannibal replied, pointing at Crane with his free hand while he aimed another shot at the bad guys.
Decker leaned over to see what Hannibal was talking about.
"Shit!" Decker looked almost scandalized that one of his men, not to mention one who was also a friend, had actually been shot.
"You see my point, then," Hannibal said sourly. "Any bright ideas?"
"None off the top of my head," Decker said. Then he grudgingly added, "What about your men?"
Hannibal shrugged, deciding that this wasn't the time to tease Decker. "They're outnumbered and in precarious positions, just like us. The best they'll be able to do is draw this on for longer than Garamella and his goons can hold out."
At that moment another bullet bounced off the side of the truck, past Hannibal's left shoulder, and into the brick wall behind him.
"Crane doesn't look too good, and the way this corner appears to attract ricochets I may not be too well off either in a minute," Hannibal concluded, frantically ducking another bounced bullet and trying to get closer to Decker's side of the Jeep.
Because of the way the vehicle was parked, with the left side of the back fender having been jammed into the wall during the abrupt crashing stop earlier when Decker and Crane had been caught, there was nothing Hannibal could do without sticking his head up to get shot besides try to melt into the corner. He dragged over Crane, who was looking very pale and had already lost a considerable amount of blood, and tried to protect both of them as best he could. He was the only one of the three of them who was armed. Decker and Crane's guns had been picked up by the mafia men.
Hannibal was about to suggest that Decker use the garbage cans as cover to make it over to the van and bring back some more weaponry. But Face had already thought of that and had come to them carrying two extra automatic rifles, all the team could spare at the moment. He took one look at Crane and then tossed one of the extras over to Hannibal, who immediately emptied the rest of his handgun out into the middle of the street and switched to the rifle. Several more ricochets bounced into his little corner, but so far he hadn't been hit.
Only after he was sure Hannibal was alright did Face look at Decker. "Shall I give him the other extra, Hannibal?" he asked.
"Sure, kid. We're all in the same boat, here,"
Hannibal replied distractedly, aiming over the top of the Jeep at Garamella's men.
Face shrugged at Decker and handed him the second extra rifle. Decker swiftly brought it to bear and added his fire to the storm of lead already flying around the narrow alley.
As soon as Decker and Face were both firing again, Hannibal put down his own rifle and started checking out Crane's wound.
"Ricochet, Crane, or direct hit?" he asked, not sure.
"Ricochet, I think," Crane managed through gritted teeth.
"Alright, all I can do for now is bandage it and stop the bleeding. Just lie easy for a moment," Hannibal said, tearing up Crane's uniform jacket to contrive some makeshift bandages. After he was done he sat back to look over his handiwork, and promptly had another near miss with yet another bullet that had bounced off the side of the Jeep and into his corner.
He made sure that Crane was as comfortable as possible and then picked up his own rifle again. Between the three of them and Murdock and BA at the opening of the alley they put up a good fight. But Hannibal and Crane's exposed position behind the Jeep was quickly being overrun despite what Decker and Face's best efforts could do to hold back the advancing tide of mafia goons.
Face took a moment to sneak a peek at Hannibal. The Colonel looked as if he were debating with himself over a difficult decision. As less ricochets and more direct bullets found their way into his corner, Hannibal realized that the only way for Crane and himself to survive this was to surrender. But he couldn't allow any of the others to be taken. He was conflicted over what to do about Decker.
Finally, after a bullet nearly took his right ear off for good, he turned to Decker and ordered, "Get out of here!"
Decker and Face violently shook their heads 'no.' Decker would not leave Crane and Face would not leave Hannibal. Hannibal was having none of it.
"I said get out of here, while you still can, both of you! Face, you make sure you listen to Decker, alright? It's up to you guys to fix this mess and you've got to work together!" Hannibal said, ducking another bullet. Sooner or later one was going to hit him.
Face seemed reluctant, but the look in Hannibal's eyes told him to do as he said. He hated the idea, but to rescue Hannibal he would work with Decker.
Decker, however, still refused. "No, Smith!"
"Stuff it, Decker! Don't worry about Crane, I'll take care of him. You just take care of my boys!" Hannibal hissed in reply. "Go!"
Decker looked lost as Face took him by the arm and dragged him away. As soon as they were almost back to the van Hannibal shouted in as loud a voice as he could muster, "Alright, I give up!"
It was the last thing Decker and the team heard him say and the doors to the van slammed shut and they made their escape from the revenge bent mafia lord and his small army. Apparently Garamella was satisfied with Hannibal and Crane, there was no pursuit.
The mood in the van was nothing short of volatile. BA was ready to fume, Murdock had a dangerous edge in his eyes, Face looked very worried, and Decker . . . Decker was a little scared. He was surrounded by three of his worst enemies and he was completely defenseless. And Crane had been captured.
But Face surprised him.
"Guys, we're going to have to work with Decker if we want to get Hannibal back," he said, trying to make his voice sound as calm as he could.
The response from Murdock and BA could be described as a small explosion. Decker cringed into his seat, as if her were trying to disappear completely, with his mind more on his injured Captain than the men in the van around him.
Face gritted his teeth and set in on the arduous task of convincing the others to work with their age old enemy, as Hannibal had ordered them to.
while silence reigned in the van as they headed towards a hotel in the next town
over, where the team still had rooms rented.
BA sulked as he stared out the front windshield. He refused to look at anyone else. Face stared out his own window, his head propped up with one elbow, having given up on talking to the others for the time being. Murdock sat sideways in his seat so he could slouch down and glare menacingly at Decker, who occupied Face's usual seat and appeared to have drifted off to sleep. If Murdock hadn't been so busy glaring menacingly and worrying about Decker knowing he was part of the team he might have noticed how tired and drawn the colonel looked.
The van hit a sudden bump in the road, bouncing everyone in his seat. The bounce jarred Decker awake and he sat up quickly with a shout.
Murdock continued to glare at him, but Face turned around and said, "Calm down. Just a bump in the road."
Decker nodded and sat back, dropping his face into his hands.
Murdock blinked. "You're really worried, aren't you," he said, almost as if he didn't believe that Decker could have emotions like that.
Decker looked up at him incredulously. "Of course I'm worried! Stephen is . . ." he cut himself short and looked away.
"Stephen?" Murdock asked.
"Captain Crane," Decker clarified.
"Is what?" Murdock persisted.
Decker turned back to look at him and was surprised to see some measure of compassion in the pilot's eyes replacing the scorn they had shown before. "Captain Stephen Crane is a very good friend of mine."
Murdock nodded in sympathy and even BA's glare seemed to soften, much to Face's surprise. BA and Murdock seemed to identify with Decker's concern. The colonel was starting to win them over.
Face wasn't sure if he liked that idea or not. He was willing to do anything to rescue Hannibal and he remembered that Hannibal ordered them to work with Decker. But Face was going against his own better judgement. Whatever Hannibal saw in the other colonel Face decidedly did not see. He didn't like Decker, didn't like working with him, didn't like him knowing about Murdock, and definitely didn't like trusting him with anything so important as rescuing Hannibal.
Unlike BA and Murdock, he did not seem to be affected by Decker's show of human emotion. Face remained suspicious, though he was glad that he probably wouldn't need to fight the other two to get them to work with their enemy. He just hoped they weren't making the biggest mistake of their lives.
I give up!" Hannibal shouted when he saw that Decker and Face were going
to make it safely to the van. He heard the doors of the van slam shut, then the
roar of the engine and squealing of the tires as the gunfire around him
stopped. He smiled, knowing that the others had escaped.
Garamella shouted at his men to follow the van, but none of their cars were in any condition to give chase. Outraged, he turned to Hannibal, who had cautiously stood up.
"And what makes you think I'm not going to kill you right here?" he asked, his accent thick with his anger, pointing his pistol at Hannibal.
Hannibal shrugged. "Kill me and you lose a bargaining chip. It's Decker you want."
Garamella considered this. It was Colonel Decker who had killed his nephew.
"Where is that other man?" he asked, not seeing Crane.
Hannibal pointed to the ground next to him behind the jeep. "Down here. He's been hit in the leg."
An evil smile spread over the mafioso's features and he laughed. "Well, pick him up and let's get going, then. You and me, we're going to have a wonderful time!"
The sadistic quality of his laugh made Hannibal wonder exactly what he was getting himself into. He bent down and started to lift Crane to his feet. The twenty or so guns pointed at him kept him from entertaining thoughts of escape.
"Did . . . did they g-get away?" Crane whispered.
"Decker and my men? Yes," Hannibal replied, drawing Crane's arm over his shoulder so he could support the younger man.
"G-good," Crane managed, then fell silent. Hannibal noted that he seemed to have lost a lot of blood, if the size of the red stain on the leg of his pants was any indication.
Hannibal and Crane made their way towards Garamella, who had already sent for another car. Within minutes there was a black four door sedan pulling into the alley. Garamella opened one of the rear doors and motioned for Hannibal and Crane to get in.
After closing the door behind his hostages, Garamella got into the front seat of the car. The sedan drove away, leaving the twenty gunmen to wait for their fellows to come with more cars.
During the drive Hannibal busied himself tightening the makeshift bandage around Crane's wound while Crane busied himself with leaning on Hannibal and trying not to be sick. Garamella kept his pistol pointed at them the entire time, not worrying about the injured man trying anything but suspicious of the colonel. There was no conversation, but the evil grin had not left Garamella's face.
When they reached their destination, what appeared to be a warehouse, Hannibal and Crane were both pulled out of the car. Hannibal decided it was time to try a wisecrack or two as they were led into the building and towards the back.
"So, what are the accommodation like here? Any suites?"
All his efforts gained him were a punch in the gut.
"Spoilsport," he gasped, doubling over for a moment.
The mafia goon did not look sympathetic, and merely continued to drag Hannibal through the warehouse. When they reached the back corner another man came forward to lift a trap door in the floor, revealing a staircase. Hannibal was pushed down first, and was thus able to regain his balance in time to catch Crane when he was tossed down afterwards.
Hannibal lowered the wounded man to the ground as carefully as he could, standing up again as Garamella came down the staircase followed by three guards carrying pistols.
"I have some respect for you, Colonel Smith. However, I want your friend Decker for killing my nephew," Garamella said darkly.
"Glad to hear you care. But Decker is *not* my friend," Hannibal replied, matching the mafia leader's stare eye to eye.
"What about this man? Do you care about him?" Garamella asked, pointing to Crane, who was lying nearly unconscious on the ground between them.
looked down at him and shrugged. "Not particularly."
"Oh, then you won't mind if I do this, then," Garamella said, moving forward to kick the defenseless man.
His promise to Decker to take care of Crane weighing on his mind, Hannibal was quicker. He grabbed Garamella by the lapels and tossed him back.
"Don't touch him," he hissed, even as two of the guards grabbed him and pulled him away from the mafioso.
Garamella waved back the third guard, who had tried to help him up, and straightened his jacket with a chuckle. "So you do care for him. It's not nice to lie, Colonel Smith."
Garamella laughed and nodded to his men, then turned away and climbed the staircase up to the warehouse. After several punches and a couple of well placed kicks the guards dumped Hannibal next to Crane and followed Garamella up. The trap door was slammed shut and locked.
There was complete stillness for a moment, and then Hannibal rolled over onto his back and took stock of himself. He came to the conclusion that nothing was broken, just rather bruised. He propped himself up on one elbow and took a look around.
The room they were in was clearly underground, it was colder than it had been upstairs and there were no doors or windows except for the trap door in the ceiling. There was just enough light filtering in from the cracks around the trap door for Hannibal to see that the room was bare and the walls were made of stone. He could feel that the floor beneath him was the same. He looked over at Crane to see how he was doing.
Crane appeared to be unconscious, his eyes closed and his features pale. Hannibal sighed and lay back down, deciding that there was nothing to do but wait. Crane surprised him by whispering a question.
Hannibal turned his head to look at him. His eyes were still closed.
"Why what, Crane?" he replied.
"Why are you looking out for me?" Crane clarified his question.
"I promised Decker," Hannibal admitted. When he heard Crane's quiet chuckles he asked, "What's so funny?"
Crane opened his eyes and looked at Hannibal. "You," he replied, still chuckling. "You promised Decker you'd take care of me?"
Hannibal grinned. "Alright, maybe it is funny. But I did."
"Thanks," Crane whispered, closing his eyes again. Somewhere along the way he found that he had decided
to trust Smith.
Hannibal blinked. Then he replied, "You're welcome. How's your leg?"
"Been better," Crane replied, wincing as he moved his leg, trying to find a more comfortable position. "Feels stiff."
"Wish there was something else I could do for you, Kid," Hannibal said sincerely, any animosity he had ever had for Crane washed away.
"A king sized water bed with satin sheets and about fifteen soft down pillows would be nice . . ." Crane said, shifting his position again and looking at Hannibal with a weak grin.
"Sorry, we're all out," Hannibal replied gently. "It might help if you sit up, though."
"Don't think I can," Crane told him.
"C'mere," Hannibal answered, sitting up and helping Crane move over to the nearest wall. "Any better?" he asked after they settled back down next to each other with Crane leaning on him for support.
"A bit. I'm really tired," Crane answered with a yawn.
"Take a nap," Hannibal suggested. "There's certainly not much else to do."
After that the conversation dropped as Crane dozed off. Hannibal found himself thinking about the absurdity of the situation, being forced to work with his enemy and finding that he rather liked him. He wondered how Face and the others were getting along with Decker.
sat in the hotel room, trying to decide what to do.
Decker was sitting in a chair in the corner. He looked thoroughly subdued, totally unlike his usual self. Face, BA, and Murdock were sitting around the table drinking coffee. Murdock had been watching Decker for a time and suddenly jumped up. He poured a fourth cup of coffee and brought it over to the distraught colonel. For once it was Face who scowled instead of BA, who actually watched Murdock with an air of approval.
Decker took the cup and muttered a distracted, "Thanks."
"No problem," Murdock replied and then returned to his seat at the table. He had not missed Face's look and gave one of his own that clearly meant, 'What's wrong with *you*?'
Face returned his gaze with a stare that seemed to reply, 'Nothing's wrong with me, but what do you think you're *doing*!?'
Murdock sighed and looked away from Face. His emotions were confused, conflicted between mistrusting Decker and feeling sympathy for him. He identified with Decker's fear for Crane, having the same fears about Hannibal, himself. BA's thoughts were similar.
Face, on the other hand, was still solidly wary of Decker. He entertained no thoughts of sympathy, worrying instead that Decker would somehow manage to double cross them.
Decker sipped the coffee a few times and then put the cup down on an end table. He got up and walked over to the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
"What's up, Faceman?" Murdock took the opportunity to ask.
"Yeah," BA added. "I thought you wanted us to work with Decker."
Face shook his head. "Hannibal said to work together. But I find it very hard to trust Decker. And what about Murdock? He knows about Murdock now."
Murdock had already realized this and knew that there was nothing they could do. "So what? There's nothing we can do about it at the moment. We're supposed to be rescuing Hannibal and Crane."
BA nodded his assent but Face continued to protest, saying, "I can't trust him! His biggest goal in life is to see us behind bars! We can't be so willing to befriend him."
BA said, "Why not?"
Murdock shrugged and added, "Can't you see he's as worried about Crane as we are about Hannibal? He's willing to help us, if we'll let him."
"We're going to need his help," BA said, reminding Face that they had no idea where Garamella had taken Hannibal and Crane.
Face started to reply but Decker stepped out of the bathroom at that moment and returned to his chair. Face shook his head mutely, deciding that it was true that they had to work with Decker. Hannibal had said so, himself. But Face would not trust his enemy. He would watch Decker carefully.
looked up as he heard the trap door being opened. Crane was still asleep on his
shoulder so he didn't stand up.
Garamella came down the stairs followed by three guards, Hannibal couldn't tell if they were the same ones or not. Garamella looked down at him with an evil grin.
"How sweet," he said, mocking them. "Shall we talk, Colonel? I have questions for you."
Hannibal looked up at him and said, "Stuff it."
Garamella merely laughed. "Are you sure you don't want to play nicely, Colonel? I could make life very miserable for your young friend," he threatened, motioning towards Crane.
Hannibal glared at him but remained silent.
"I want to know where I can reach your men," Garamella said.
"You could try the North Pole," Hannibal said hopefully.
Garamella laughed again. "We think we're Santa Claus now, is that it? I have a present for you that you might not like, Santa."
Hannibal went back to glaring, refusing to respond to the mafioso's taunts. Garamella leaned down to look him straight in the eye.
"If you don't tell me what I want to know," he whispered dangerously, "I'm going to have my boys take apart Santa's Little Helper over here."
Hannibal returned the stare without batting an eye, not offering Garamella a single word. Garamella held his gaze for a moment longer, then he stood up and shrugged.
"Show Santa's Little Helper some of our hospitality, boys," Garamella said, stepping away from the two men who were sitting on the floor.
One of the guards holstered his gun and came forward, a devious grin on his face, reaching down for Crane. He jerked the wounded man up roughly and dragged him towards the center of the room. Crane came awake with a shout of pain as his leg was jarred by the motion. Hannibal made an attempt to attack Garamella while he was watching Crane, but was again tackled and held back by the other two guards.
Garamella stepped up to him confidently and said, "Feeling more like talking now, Santa?"
Hannibal showed his willingness to comply by spitting at the mafioso. Garamella took out his handkerchief, unfazed, and nodded at the guard who was standing over Crane.
The guard kicked at Crane's leg viciously and it was all the captain could do to keep from screaming.
Garamella turned again to address Hannibal, who was quietly seething in the grip of the two guards. "Are you sure you don't want to tell me where to reach your men?"
Hannibal looked down at Crane, the indecision plain on his face. When Garamella turned, as if to nod to the guard again, Hannibal decided that it wouldn't be so bad to give the mafioso the phone number of the team's hotel room. It was certainly worth keeping Captain Crane intact and Hannibal knew that Decker and the guys were most likely sitting around in the hotel waiting to be contacted, anyway.
"Wait a minute! Alright, I'll give you a phone number," he said.
"That's better," Garamella grinned. "Why don't you come upstairs and make the phone call with me?"
shrugged. "It's sure better than hanging out down here," he said with
a small apologetic grin to Crane. He
couldn't help but feel a little discouraged.
Crane winked at him.
Hannibal grinned and followed the guards up the stairs.
while Face just couldn't stand it. He jumped up and stalked out of the room,
slamming the door behind him angrily. He left Murdock fidgeting and BA scowling
over at the table, and Decker still sitting mournfully in his chair in the
corner. Decker watched him go.
"He doesn't trust me, does he?" Decker asked, looking at the door Face had left through.
"Not particularly," Murdock affirmed.
"If you were him, would you?" BA added.
Decker looked thoughtful. "I suppose not. But like Smith said, we have to work together if we want to see either of them again. And that means a certain amount of trust."
Murdock and BA shook their heads.
"That's just the problem," BA said.
"What is?" Decker asked, confused.
"Hannibal ordered him to work with you but his own judgement and worries tell him not to trust you. So he's confused," Murdock elaborated.
"And what about you two?" Decker asked.
BA shrugged. Murdock said, "We think we can trust you. You're just as worried about Crane as we are about Hannibal."
Decker smiled his thanks at their vote of confidence. He was beginning to understand Face's motivation, because it was so similar to his own, but he didn't know what to do to convince Face to trust him. He shook his head in frustration.
"Try talking to him," BA suggested, knowing what Decker had to be thinking.
Murdock nodded. "It can't hurt," he added.
"Alright, I'll try," Decker said.
Face walked back into the room a few minutes of heavy silence later. He looked as if he'd calmed down a bit, but not much.
Decker started to stand up, to walk over to the table and try to talk to Face, but the phone rang before he got five feet across the room. Everyone jumped and looked at the telephone like it was an alien from another planet, frozen in their places. It rang several times until Face finally reached over, as if he were in a daze, and picked it up.
"The one and only."
"Are you alright?"
"Mostly. Captain Crane has had better days, though. Garamella wants Decker for killing his nephew in a gunfight while they were chasing us earlier today. That's probably not healthy for Decker."
Face already knew that this was definitely unhealthy for Decker, he decided Hannibal must be trying to tell him something else. "Umm . . . Decker isn't with us?" he ventured a guess.
When the others in the room heard this it caught their attention. Decker was standing right there, Face was actually looking right at him, they had to wonder what was going on.
"Exactly what I wanted to hear, Kid. Watch out for the Big Bad Wolf, he's got big, sharp teeth. And I've got a riddle for you."
"What do you get if you put fifty men on a dead man's chest . . ."
Face knew that Garamella had tired of the apparent nonsense because he heard the mafioso's voice in the background and then in his ear as the other man took the phone.
"That's enough! Give me the phone . . . Alright, you know I've got your men. And I know that you can find the man I want. Colonel Decker."
"Sorry, as wanted criminals we usually don't associate ourselves with the good colonel," Face replied.
"I know you can find him. I suggest that you do, and that you have him meet me tonight, or it will be the hostages who suffer."
"I can only say I'll try. Where and when?"
Garamella named a park in a nearby town as the place and "in exactly one hour" as the time. Face agreed and said cheerfully, "See you then!"
When Face hung up the phone he was confronted by three confused looks.
"What did you mean, Decker isn't with us?" Murdock wanted to know.
"It was Hannibal's idea. For Decker's sake," Face replied.
"For my sake?" Decker demanded. "What does Garamella want?"
"He wants you, stupid. This way he doesn't know we're working together," Face said angrily, getting exasperated. "Now shut up and let me think!"
Face sat down at the table and sighed. He was starting to get a headache. Decker retreated back to his chair in the corner.
"Are they alright?" Decker asked almost timidly.
"They're okay," Face said to the room at large, pointedly not directly responding to Decker. "Hannibal sounded.... tired. And he said Crane had seen better days."
"But they're okay?" Murdock asked, feeling a need to make sure.
"Yes, they're okay," Face reassured him. Then he said, "Murdock, do you remember all of our codes?"
"Our codes? Yeah, sure. It gets boring at the VA and one day I memorized the whole book. Why?" Murdock responded.
"Hannibal was giving me hints. What's the one for a warning about the Big Bad Wolf having big, sharp teeth?"
Murdock's eyes unfocused as he searched his memories. "Ummm . . . Big Bad Wolf? That's . . ."
"That's an easy one, fool," BA said. "A warning about the Big Bad Wolf means he's talking about weapons."
"Right, I was confusing it with the bogey man," Murdock said sheepishly. "Big, sharp teeth means they've all got assault rifles, or something equivalent."
"So the bad guys are all armed with semi-automatic weaponry. Wonderful. The only other thing he said was something about that old ditty about fifty men on a dead man's chest," Face said. "You guys remember what that one means?"
"That's not one of our codes, Faceman," Murdock said.
BA nodded his head in agreement.
"That's not . . . oh. I must be dumb tonight. He told me it was a riddle. He asked me what you would get if you put fifty men on a dead man's chest."
"So what's that supposed to tell us?" BA wondered.
"Either of you remember the rest of the ditty?" Face asked on a hunch.
"Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum," Murdock supplied.
"What do you get if you put fifty men on a dead man's chest . . . yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum . . ." Face mused, trying to figure out Hannibal's message.
There was strained silence for a moment after Decker spoke.
"The ditty goes 'fifteen men on a dead man's chest.' Not fifty men," Decker clarified.
"Did Hannibal say it wrong?" BA asked.
"No, he never messes up something that important," Murdock said.
Face looked pained. "That's it."
"What's it?" Murdock asked.
"He's saying that they've got fifty men," Face answered with consternation, annoyed that it had been Decker who gave him the crucial clue. "And the second line of the ditty is the solution to the riddle. What do you get if you put fifty men on a dead man's chest? Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum."
"Do elucidate, oh enlightened one," Murdock said.
"There are fifty bad guys and they're in . . . well, it's probably a warehouse. A warehouse used to store booze."
"Bingo!" Murdock shouted happily.
"Fifty men with semi-automatics in a warehouse?" BA said. "This ain't gonna be easy."
"But hey, if we beat them we get their booze! Incentive," Murdock giggled, still excited about their breakthrough.
BA growled at him and looked meaningfully at Face. Murdock followed his gaze and saw Face looking at Decker.
"Thanks," Face muttered grudgingly.
"Glad to help, Lieutenant," Decker replied.
Face looked flustered and turned back to BA and Murdock. "The meeting is in an hour at a park near here," he told them.
Murdock wasn't paying attention, he was watching Decker, whose expression was changing to one of hope.
BA growled at him again. "Pay attention, fool."
"I said the meeting is in an hour," Face repeated.
"At a park near here. I heard you," Murdock replied.
"Who's supposed to show up?"
"Decker is," Face answered. "But we'll be there to keep Garamella from trying to kill him."
"Good," BA said simply, growling at Murdock again and getting up to go into the bedroom.
Murdock looked confused for a moment, then he got up and followed BA, leaving Decker and Face to themselves. The two of them continued to glare in silence at each other across the room.
When Murdock entered the bedroom he saw that BA was taking apart and cleaning his favorite weapons.
"What's up, Big Guy?" Murdock asked, perching on a bed near where BA was working.
"We gotta get them to trust each other," BA said.
"At least a little bit. I have to agree with Face, somewhat, though. I mean, my cover's been blown, Decker knows that I'm with you guys," Murdock replied anxiously.
"Nothing we can do 'bout it, fool," BA reminded him.
"We gotta rescue Hannibal and Crane."
"I know. But I can sit here and worry about it," Murdock said darkly.
slowly approached the designated meeting spot. Decker was sitting in the front,
in Hannibal's seat, which had Face in a bad mood. Even Murdock had given up
trying to cheer him up.
When the van pulled into the parking lot of the town park and came to a stop everyone inside could see Garamella and his armed guards standing around their black sedan. Decker opened his door and cautiously stepped out, staying near the side of the van. Face slid the bay door open partway and stood next to him. A rifle poked out of the partially open bay door, held by Murdock, and BA got out on his side and peeked over hood of the van with another rifle.
"Glad to see you could make it, Colonel Decker," Garamella said, then turned to Face. "I just knew you could find him."
"Shut up, you big Italian goon," Face snarled with anger.
"Is that the best insult you can come up with?" Garamella laughed at him.
Face grinned evilly and said, "Your mother's sauce comes out of a jar."
Everyone on both sides stared at Face. Murdock was giggling inside the van and Decker was thinking about how that was exactly the insane kind of thing Hannibal Smith would have said. Garamella was beginning to get angry.
"Enough of this!" he shouted. "We're here for business."
Face sniggered and the mobster gave him a look but then decided to ignore him.
"What do you want, Garamella?" Decker asked.
"You killed my nephew and two of my men. I want revenge!" Garamella replied.
Decker gulped. "Revenge?"
"You took my nephew's life. He would have been my heir! Honor demands that I take revenge," Garamella growled, his accent thick.
"Honor?" Face snorted. "What honor?"
"I've had enough of you!" Garamella turned on him. "I could have you shot right here!"
"Of course you could. And you could also get shot, yourself. Right here," Face said, stepping aside to reveal Murdock and his rifle. BA stood up from behind the hood of the van.
"I see your point," Garamella said, eyeing Murdock's rifle. The standoff was the same as it had been that morning in the alley.
"Now what?" Decker asked.
"Now you come with me, my dear Colonel," Garamella laughed.
"And if I don't?" Decker growled.
"Then life gets difficult for our mutual friends who are currently in my care. We shall repeat this scenario until you do come willingly, or until I catch you," Garamella growled back.
Decker's face went white. He took a step forward. Face stepped away from him, letting him go. Before Decker got any farther Murdock came flying out of the bay door, knocking Face aside, and pulled Decker back into the van.
As Face picked himself up off the ground, Garamella laughed and said, "Well, now, this is an interesting situation, isn't it."
Face glared at him as he closed the bay door. Then he turned around and got in the front seat, all without saying a word. Inside the van they heard Garamella's laugh before Face slammed his door.
Garamella continued to laugh as the tires screeched and the van drove away.
There was silence between the four men until they reached the hotel again. Face started to go directly into the bedroom, his features clouded with anger, but Murdock stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "What's up, Faceman?"
Face swung around and growled at Murdock, "Leave me alone!"
Murdock took a step back. "Okay. Sure, Face. But why won't you tell me what's bothering you?"
"You're bothering me! You and BA. I say if Decker wants to give himself up, let him! I don't believe how you two can't see that he's only going to turn on us! That man," Face said, nearly shouting, pointing at Decker, "wants to see us behind bars, or better yet, shot! How can you trust him!?"
Murdock looked confused. He couldn't believe that the trust issue was the thing bothering Face so much. There had to be something bigger. BA, however, wasn't so willing to give Face the benefit of the doubt. He growled at the smaller man.
"We trust him 'cause Hannibal said to, fool. That should be good enough for you," he said menacingly.
"No, BA. Hannibal said to work with him, not to trust him!" Face shook his head.
"It's the same thing," BA said.
"No, it's not!" Face denied. "You shouldn't be trusting him!"
Now Murdock was really confused. He knew for a fact that Face understood what BA was telling him to be true. In order to work with someone there needed to be a certain amount of mutual trust. Face knew that. Murdock knew that he knew that. It couldn't be Murdock and BA's trust in Decker that was causing Face to react this way. So what was really bothering Face?
BA had gotten angry. He pulled his arm back in preparation to punch Face. Face looked ready and willing to fight back even though it was obvious he wouldn't survive the first punch from the bigger man. BA started to swing, only to find his arm impeded by Decker grabbing on to it and Face being pulled away from him by Murdock. Face halfheartedly fought Murdock but allowed himself to be dragged into the bedroom. BA dropped his arm and looked sheepishly at Decker, who smiled sadly at him and returned to his chair in the corner.
Murdock dragged Face into the bedroom and dumped him on the nearest bed. Then he glared down at him. "Alright, buddy, I know us trusting Decker isn't what's really bothering you. Spill. NOW!" Murdock commanded.
Face shook his head with a small laugh and said, "You want to know what's really bothering me? Join the club. I . . . I don't even know what's really bothering me right now." Face rolled over and hid his head under a pillow.
Murdock sat down on the bed next to him. "You're not the only one who's worried about Hannibal, you know," Murdock said, his voice gentler.
"I know," came Face's muffled reply. He rolled over again and sat up, hugging the pillow. "I'm mad at you for pulling Decker back into the van. If he wanted to go you should have let him."
"Face!" Murdock said, exasperated. "You know better than that! Giving Garamella what, or in this case who, he wants is not going to help."
"It seems . . . it seems almost like you're saying that to protect Decker," Face accused.
"Partly, yes," Murdock admitted, shushing Face and continuing, "But also because I know that Garamella would just as easily kill Hannibal and Crane as release them if we gave him Decker. And besides, would you really want to see Decker dead?"
"To save Hannibal? Yes! I'd shoot the bastard, myself," Face growled, jumping up and tossing the pillow away.
"Come on! Wake up and smell the stink weed! Giving up Decker to Garamella will not help save Hannibal!" Murdock nearly shouted, standing up and shaking Face's shoulders. "You have to understand that!"
Face looked shocked. "Do you really believe that, Murdock?" he asked quietly.
Murdock sighed. "Yes, Face. And you should, too. Like any other terrorist who takes hostages, Garamella can not be trusted to keep his word. Giving him what he wants is not the solution."
Face flopped down on the bed again. "I guess you're right, Murdock," he sighed.
"Do you feel better about trusting Decker, now?" Murdock asked.
"A bit. I'm still . . . leery. He knows about you actually being part of the team," Face replied.
"Tell me about it," Murdock said, sitting back down next to Face. "If anything, that's what we should be worrying about."
"There's nothing we can do. He knows what he knows," Face said.
"Yeah. We need to focus on rescuing Hannibal and Crane. We'll have to work out the rest of this afterwards. I don't know if Decker will turn on us. At the moment, I trust him. I have to. And you do, too," Murdock said, looking Face in the eye.
Face met his gaze. "I'll work on it, Murdock."
laughed, patting Face on the head. "That's better."
Face playfully knocked Murdock's hand away. He grinned.
"Don't worry, Face. We'll work this out. We always do," Murdock said reassuringly.
"Thanks, Murdock," Face replied.
sat in a straight-back chair next to a desk on the ground floor of the
warehouse. There were four guards standing around him holding weapons. He had been
trying to see if he could notice anything that would help him decide where they
were, but there didn't seem to be anything more than what he had already told
Face on the phone. Well, what he hoped he had told Face. The kid was smart, he
had Murdock, BA, and Decker to help him, he'd figure it out. Hannibal hoped,
He'd come up with fifty as a rough count of the men shortly after they'd first reached the warehouse. When he and Crane had first been led in, there had been roughly thirty men in the warehouse engaged in various activities including the care of a large stack of rifles piled among several crates of wine. Add that to the twenty men left in the alley and you had fifty goons with semi-automatic weaponry. The kind of weapons they had was easy to communicate to Face, they had a code for that. But the large number and the strange location he'd had more trouble with. He finally settled on "fifty men on a dead man's chest" and hoped that the others would figure it out quickly. He was worried about Crane, who had been looking increasingly like he would need serious medical attention.
He sighed and started drumming his fingers on the desktop. He had a pretty good idea why he was up here instead of down in the basement with Crane, they had to be waiting for Garamella to return from meeting with Decker. Odds were that Garamella wouldn't be in too good of a mood when he returned.
the guards gave him a dirty look and he stopped drumming his fingers.
Five minutes later he started again, giving the annoyed guard one of his big, innocent smiles. The guard growled menacingly, and he stopped the tapping again.
Another few minutes passed, then he started softly tapping "shave and a haircut, ten cents" over and over and over. The poor guard was trying his best to ignore it, but when Hannibal suddenly stopped after "shave and a haircut" it was all the guard could do not to tap the "ten cents" himself. Hannibal laughed out loud at the pained look on the guard's face. His laugh finally caused the other guards to get involved.
up," one of them told him.
"Oh, come on," he complained. "Aren't you bored? We've been sitting here for at least an hour."
"Shut up!" the guard repeated, more forcefully.
Hannibal ignored him. "I mean, what are we doing, anyway? Are we waiting for something? I bet you guys are waiting for . . ."
He decided not to deliver the wisecrack he'd had in mind when one of the guards stepped forward and poked the business end of a rifle into his chest. He looked down at it and shut up, and the guard backed away again.
The was a moment of silence, and then Hannibal said, "Anybody got a light?"
He had somehow produced a cigar without the guards noticing, right under their noses. They made a collective noise somewhat akin to a cry of outrage and descended upon him with a rope. There was short scuffle, but between the four of them they managed to wrap the rope around him and the chair, pinning his arms to his sides. They also got the cigar, and the other three from his pocket.
He stuck his tongue out at them. "Gee, you guys are testy. I just asked for a light. Makes me wonder if you're all getting enough sleep at night. And if you're eating the right foods. And if . . ."
Another short scuffle ensued and then there was also a gag in his mouth. Reduced to his facial expressions, he winked at them and then slowly crossed his eyes. The four guards sighed in exasperation and simply all turned away from him. Hannibal grinned around the gag and started working on the knot in the rope. He had it and the gag off in short order.
Because the guards weren't looking they never saw what hit them when Hannibal threw the chair at two of them and attacked the other two in a flying leap. He had the upper hand for a while, but was eventually defeated by the sheer number of men in the warehouse. When the dust cleared he was again gagged and tied to the chair, this time properly with rope around his wrists as well as his arms. And there were ten armed guards standing around him.
Sighing philosophically, Hannibal did the only thing he could. He started tapping his foot on the side of the hollow metal desk.
He thought it produced a rather nice sound, but for some reason it seemed to annoy the guards. They dragged his chair out into the middle of the room.
Hannibal blinked at them and set himself to figuring out a way to continue his game of Annoy-A-Guard. After all, he had to do something to keep himself amused while he waited for Garamella's return.
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