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Fearless Leader 1-3

"Fearless Leader"
(c) Mellissa Chandler, 2000

Rating: PG Summary: The A-Team is hired to find the source of threats against children around Halloween.

 

"No, no, no.  No way, Hannibal!" Face said fervently.  He focused a look of despair at Hannibal, who was smiling mischievously.

"Oh, come on, Face, it'll be so, so. . .darling," Hannibal laughed, barely able to finish his sentence.  Additional snickers came from BA, who had an unusally giddy laugh for one of his. . .build. Murdock was busy trying on a long black cape.

This was because the A-Team's latest mission had taken them to a small suburban town outside LA around the time of Halloween. Hannibal's smile faded a bit as he recalled their purpose for being hired.  Someone had been threatening the children of the quiet little town; leaving notes in the mailboxes that were addressed to the kids of then families who live there.  The notes all contained messages saying in one way or another that something unexpected and undoubtedly bad would happen on Halloween night.

But that wasn't all.  The police had arrested the suspect, David Walter, who had supposedly written the notes.  The arrest had eased many of the townspeople's fears, but not all.  A man by the name of Tom Debinson had hired the A-Team on the suspicion that the man who had been arrested was only part of the situation. Debinson's suspicion was based on a conversation he overheard between David's Walter's brother, Charlie Walter, and some other men in the local grocery store prior to the arrest.

Hannibal sighed. Tom Debinson was a good man.  He and his wife had no children of their own, but they did have two elementary school-aged nieces they were very fond of.  The A-Team's leader hoped he could find the culprit in time.

Face's whining brought Hannibal's mind back to the present.  The young lieutenant was holding a Robin Hood costume complete with green tights, in his hand as if it were the plague.  "Hannibal, I don't think you're paying attention to me.  Do you know what tights do to a man?"

"It appears you're going to find out, Lieutenant.  That's the one of the only costumes in your size, and we don't have much time," Hannibal said, pulling a cigar from Face's shirt pocket.  "Murdock, BA, let's go."  Face moaned hopelessly, swearing up and down that he wouldn't forget the torture he was about to go through anytime soon. The team paid for their costumes and left the small party shop, amidst continuous mutterings from the belligerent Peck.

"Now, everybody listen closely," Hannibal began after the four of them had gotten into the van,  "after we head back to the hotel to change, we're going straight to the party.  Tom said that David Walter's brother would be there.  I want you guys to blend in and keep your ears open.  Make friends with Walter if at all possible. We've got two days to find out what he's planning."

"And what if he already has his own `friends' with him at the party?" Face questioned.

"Then we can all sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya," Murdock responded.  BA growled at the pilot.

"We'll just have to persuade them to see things our way," Hannibal said with a grin, lighting his cigar.  Face sighed heavily.  His CO had that look in his eyes.

"Man," BA spoke up.  "He's on the jazz."

An hour later, the A-Team walked up to the doors of the town's community center in full costume.  Hannibal plodded along at the rear in his Aquamaniac costume.  Murdock strode dramatically in front of him, his black cape trailing behind, flashing plastic fangs at each passerby.  The reluctant Face took up the lead, still trying to decide how to walk in his Robin Hood costume.  He was busy shoving the red feather back into his archer's hat.

"This is ridiculous," Face mumbled to himself, then managed to put a smile on his face as he passed two rather attractive women, who giggled at his outfit.

"I vant to suck your blood," Murdock said to them in a mock Transilvanian accent.  He almost spit out his teeth.  The women, if this was possible, giggled even more. Hannibal was rapidly beginning to agree with Face's barely audible comment.

The team dispersed as they entered the community center.  Face struck up a conversation with a woman in an angel costume while Murdock slinked around the walls.  Hannibal began to talk with a man who was dressed as Godzilla about just how unappreciated lizard monsters really were.

Peripherally, Murdock spotted an individual dressed as some sort of demonic creature towards the back of the room.  He was speaking with four other men who were all dressed in similar skeleton costumes. The scene practically screamed "henchmen."  Pretending he was admiring the roof work, Murdock nonchalantly wandered over towards the group.

As he approached the group of men, he could catch bits of the conversation.

"--in place?" asked the man in the demon costume.

"Just how you told us.  They won't-----"

"Good.  Now I ------ to"

The noise level in the building prevented him from hearing anything further.  Murdock decided to let the Colonel know what was going on.

"You see that man in the vampire costume?  He's with them.  They came in a minute ago," one of Charlie Walter's associates said softly.  "They're trouble, Charlie, I know it.  It's the same guys we saw talking with Tom this morning."

"Hired snoops?" another skeleton-clad man hypothesized.

"Maybe.  But I find it hard to believe Debinson would have the guts or the money to bring in outside help.  Ben, bring me some of the candy I ordered this morning."

"Sure thing, boss."

  Part II

"He's got a lot of make-up on, but it looks like Charlie Walter," Face observed after Murdock had wandered over to inform the lieutenant of what he'd heard.  "Look, one of them's going outside-Murdock, go tell Hannibal what's going on, I'll see if I can get anything out of that one."

"Gotchya, Faceman," Murdock acknowledged, and dove into the crowd again.  

The cooler temperature was welcoming as Face stepped through the community center doors.  He glanced around briefly and spotted the man in the skeleton costume getting something out of a truck.  Peck wondered what it was; a weapon, perhaps?  He stood off to the side of the doors, looking as inconspicuous as he could in the ridiculous costume.  When the man neared the doors, Face smiled a friendly smile.

"Hey, great costume," he said.  "I happen to be in the costume business myself; I was just wondering if yours was hand-tailored or if you purchased it somewhere nearby."  The man barely glanced at Face.

"Someone got it for me," he muttered.  Face smiled again, turning to follow the man inside.

"I must say, the design is just artistic.  I'd like to get in touch with whoever made it," Face pursued.  The man glanced over his shoulder briefly at him, then stopped, seeming to notice something.

"Say, weren't you one of those guys who came in with the giant lizard?"

Face wasn't sure how to answer.  He decided on something non-committal, remembering who Hannibal had been talking to.

"There's so many of them here tonight."

"My employer was admiring his costume earlier.  He wondered if he might speak with your associate, and he wanted him to have one of these. Here's one for you, too."

Face's expression turned to one of slight confusion as the man dumped a couple pieces of candy in his hand and hastily walked off. He was really starting to hate this particular job.  Thinking about the monstrosity of children being threatened was the only thing that was keeping him going.  With a sigh, he made his way towards Hannibal, whose tail he could see sticking out from behind a crowd of people and a table.

"So, find out anything?" Hannibal said quietly, turning to face his lieutenant.  Face shook his head.

"He gave me some candy and ran off," he informed Hannibal.  Hannibal raised an eyebrow.

"Who?"

Face sighed.  "Didn't Murdock talk to you?  We saw someone who looked like Paulson a few minutes ago, talking to a group of guys.  I tried to conversate with one of them, but all he did was tell me that his boss admired your costume and wanted to speak with you.  So, maybe you can go have a chat with the neighborhood sleezball.  Oh, we got some candy out of it," he feigned enthusiasm, holding the two pieces of candy up for Hannibal to see.  Hannibal took one of them and continued the sarcasm.

"Well it's a good thing you talked to him, then Face, or we might have starved." Face rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, good for me.  I'll go find Murdock, apparently he got distracted."  Face noticed several people looking towards the back windows of the building.  He stiffened when he saw red and blue lights flashing beyond them.  "Hannibal-"

"I see them.  Get Murdock and get out of here."  As Face started through the crowd, Hannibal plodded towards the front entrance, looking like Godzillia with an apetite as he munched on candy.  He took the top half of his costume out when he'd gotten through the doors and had managed to get the rest of it off by the time he reached he van.  He threw the suit in the back of the van before climbing in.  BA had already tarted the engine.  Face hopped in almost right after he did, with a groaning Murdock in tow. Apparently the pilot had found a vampiress to chat with.

"They're bad news, Hannibal.  They've got to be involved with the threats," Face looked over his shoulder out the back window.  "You think the cops saw us?"

"Not if we haven't heard the sirens yet," Hannibal told the lieutenant.  He stifled a yawn, rubbing his eyes tiredly.  "Let's head to the hotel, BA."

"I'm pulling rank and claiming authoritative privilege," Hannibal stated as the four men entered the hotel room.  Face groaned; the translation of the colonel's statement meant that Hannibal got the room's only bed that night.

"Not another night on the sofa sleeper!"

"CO's prerogative," Hannibal told the lieutenant, his tone neutral. Face gave him a strange look.  Hannibal's only response was to shut and lock the bedroom door behind him.

"Did he even have his shoes on?" Murdock questioned Peck, seeing that Face's quizzical expression matched his own.

"He left `em in the van," BA provided upon entering the hotel room. He dumped Hannibal's costume and shoes on the chair.

"Probably so we'd carry them and he'd beat us to the bedroom," Face suggested dryly.

"Well you know, Faceguy, comin' off the jazz has got to be an anticlimax, sorta like when you get done ridin' a roller coaster."

"Last time you rode a roller coaster you threw up in my van, fool," BA snarled, apparently still sensitive about past occurrence.  HM turned to face him.

"That's only cos I ate four hot dogs," Murdock defended himself, mimicking BA's growling voice and expression.  He stood facing BA, who didn't seem the slightist bit intimidated by Murdock's greater height.  The pilot continued his Baracus impression. "With ketchup!"  Face blanched at the thought of eating four hot dogs but worked quickly to prevent any explosive situation between Murdock and BA.

"Guys, please.  Go to sleep.  I personally don't want to face the consequences of keeping Hannibal awake."  BA growled one more time and turned away from HM.  Face pulled the couch bed out and then went to change out of the dreaded costume.

 

Part III  

"Murdock, go back to sleep you crazy foo', it ain't even seven o'clock!"

Face pulled the blanket over his head to drown out the noise of BA's yelling. and then sat up suddenly.  "It's seven o'clock?  Where did Hannibal go then?"

"I dunno," BA answered.  He had been so wrapped up in yelling at Murdock that he hadn't thought about it.  Hannibal was usually already up and waking the rest of them up at six hundred hours.  "The jazz probably wore that fool out.  He's probably still asleep."

Peck groaned.  "Colonel!" he called out loudly, struggling out of the twisted up blankets.  "Hannibal, we're supposed to meet the Debinsons at 7:30 for breakfast!" Stumbling over to the bedroom door, he banged on it loudly.

"Hannibal?!  BA, I don't think he's here.

"Try the door," BA instructed, getting up off the chair.  Face tested the knob and found it locked.  BA's brow furrowed.  He was starting to get nervous.

"Hey, Hannibal, wake up, suckah!"  Murdock joined the two of them.

"What's our illustrious colonel up to in there?" he said, pressing his ear to the door.

"Git, fool, Face is tryin' to pick the lock."  HM backed up as Face went to work.  He had the lock picked in no time, and he threw open the door.

"Hannibal, what-" they all stopped, staring.  Hannibal was sprawled diagonally across the bed with his arms flailed out. He hadn't even changed into pajamas, and he had one sock on and one off.

"Uhhhh--" was all Face could manage, marvelling over how strange it was to see Hannibal in such an. . .undignified position.  BA and Murdock wore similar expressions, which quickly changed from baffled to concerned.  Face spoke again.  "Hannibal?  Hey, Colonel."  He didn't even bat an eyelid.

The A-Team's leader was so still it was almost alarming.  Face walked over to the bed and felt Hannibal's wrist for a pulse.  It seemed a bit slow, but normal.  Face shook him a bit.  "Hannibal? Hello?"  He waved Hannibal's arm around.

Murdock sat down next to Hannibal and inspected the colonel's eyes. "Yoo-hoo, Colonel.  Wakey, wakey."  He suddenly turned more serious. "Uh, Faceguy, I think he's been drugged.  His pupils are real dialated."  No amount of prompting was bringing Hannibal around.

"With what, horse tranquilizer?  He's out like a light!"

BA shook his head.  "Man, what did that fool get himself into this time?"

"Murdock, do we have any smelling salts?" Face questioned the pilot.

"I'll go look in the van," Murdock replied.  He hurried out of the room.

BA and Face moved Hannibal so that he was laying lengthwise on the bed instead of across it.  A moment later, Murdock returned with small bag of medical supplies the team had accumulated over time. Face took the bag and found a bottle of smelling salts in it.  He opened it and waved it under Hannibal's nose as BA propped the colonel halfway into a sitting position.

Hannibal made a groggy sound of protest.  "S-stop it. . ." he said incoherantly, clumsily pulling Peck's arm away from his face.

"Colonel?" Murdock prompted. "Do you know where you are?"  The A-Team's leader opened his eyes briefly, squinting at the rest of the team, and then they rolled back in his head again.  His hand slipped off Face's wrist.

"Come on, Hannibal, stay with us," Face urged, waving the bottle under his nose once more.  The colonel's head dropped back. "Hannibal?"

"It's no use, man, he ain't comin' round," BA spoke.

"Damn.  How on Earth did someone manage to drug him?"

"It had to be at the party.  He was actin' funny when we left," Murdock stated.  Face nodded in agreement as he put the smelling salts away.  BA carefully let Hannibal lay back again, getting off the bed as he did so.

"Yeah, I think you're right."  Face sighed deeply, running a hand through his goldish-brown hair.  "I never saw him eat or drink anything, though, did you Murdock?"  The pilot shook his head, turning his brown-eyed gaze to the lieutenant.

"That doesn't mean he didn't, we weren't with him the whole time."

"I'm going to call the Debinson's and tell them we've had. . .a minor emergency," Face decided.

"Ya know, Faceguy, we're not that far from Bad Rock.  If anyone can help Hannibal, Maggie can."  Murdock grinned slyly.

Face raised his eyebrows, widening his eyes in a characteristic expression.  "In more ways than one," he agreed.  "I'll call her, too."

Soon, the A-Team, complete with it's unconscious commanding officer, was pulling out of the parking lot of the small motel they'd been staying at.  A permanent scowl had taken up residence on BA's dark-skinned face.  Murdock was sitting in the passenger seat and was being strangely quiet.  Face sat behind Murdock, and Hannibal was in the seat next to him.  Face couldn't remember the last time the van had been that quiet.

Then again, tension was always high when one of them was hurt, sick, or missing, especially when it was their "fearless leader."

 


Fearless Leader by Mellissa Chandler