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An Eye On You
by Angela Jewels
Summary: It's 1972, during the initial 48 hours after the Team first reaches Los Angeles, on the run after their prison break and escape. Murdock is in the VA, out of reach, due to their fame (or infamy), and the reward out for them. Face is about 19, BA early to mid-twenties. They are desperate for money, a safe place to stay, and to keep themselves out of military hands.
Warnings: Prostitution, violence, discipline in the form of a spanking.
Feedback: Always welcome, folks.
Disclaimer: Don't own them, don't make any money from them. But I love them just the same.
Word count: 5893 Story complete
The Team had just hit the streets of Los Angeles, raw on the run after their escape from a maximum security prison. After a cross country flee, using their wits, luck and a lot of shoe leather, plus the kindness of strangers,
they'd finally made it to the City of Angels.
Hannibal had thought it was the best place for the three of them to fit in, and disappear into, at the same time. Lots of room, plenty of road, and the kind of big city where they could find work, with a chance of keeping out of military custody.
Plus, they'd found out that Murdock was in the local VA here, as well. Face had pointed out that since they'd made it through so much before with Murdock, it only seemed right to keep close to him…even if they couldn't risk seeing him at this point. BA had growled his agreement to that.
Now they found themselves being let out of an old RV camper, shaking hands with the WWII veteran who'd kindly driven them in from Mesa, Arizona.
"Thank you, Mr. Risto. It's not everyone who'd do for us what you have." Hannibal told the older man sincerely, pumping his hand.
"I just wish I could've done more for you and your boys, young fella." Risto replied. "You watch your backs, and each others."
Face and BA grinned to themselves when their Colonel blinked twice at being called a 'young fella'. Now Hannibal knew how Face felt, when Hannibal called him 'kid'…
But Face secretly liked it, when he did.
"You can count on it, Mr. Risto." Face stepped up for his turn to thank the elderly man, with his sweetest smile. "And don't you worry, we'll pay you back the loan, with interest, ASAP."
"You can sure count on that!" BA pushed Face aside, his paw of a hand covering the older, frailer man's gently.
"Aww, hell, it was only thirty bucks. Not much in a town like L.A. If I'd had more, I'd have given it to you…."
"You gave us a better chance for freedom, Mr. Risto. I'd pretty much say that's a priceless gift." The veteran shrugged, a bit teary eyed at Hannibal's words.
"Well, you all take care and write when you can. I just want to know you all got by and made good. That'll be thanks enough." The grizzled old vet got back into his RV, and slowly drove away, eyeing them with hope in his side rearview mirror.
His son Jerry hadn't made it back from Vietnam. He sincerely hoped these wrongly accused boys made it back to a safe, real life.
"Well, Colonel, where to now?" BA wondered, squinting in the mid morning sunlight. "I've never been in California before, but I'm glad the weather seems to be as nice as I always heard."
" It would have been tough for us in a colder climate, what with the scrappy clothes we've managed to scrounge along the way." Face adjusted the collar on the teen size tee shirt he was squeezed into. "The first chance I get, I'm buying something decent... make that nice, to wear."
"With thirty dollars split between us, Lieutenant, we'll be lucky to find a room and some grub for tonight." Hannibal observed sternly, but silently he noticed how the tight tee and jeans made Face look more like a schoolboy playing hooky, than the warrior he was.
He also noticed some looks at Face by a few drivers and passersby. They had to get off the street quick; he was sure their faces were plastered on television across the country by now.
"Yeah, Faceman, I need some food!" BA glared at him, but they all heard his strong stomach rumbling. So were theirs.
"Okay, first things first." Hannibal studied their location. They were standing on the sidewalk in an older section of downtown Los Angeles. In the 1940's and 50's it had been the hub of the city. But now, it had largely gone to seed.
"We need to establish a secure location to sleep, then locate some food. We can't stay out on the street like this." Hannibal squared his shoulders. "Let's go, pronto."
"Yes, sir!" Face and BA echoed together. The three of them stepped forward together, into the wild urban jungle that was the heart of L.A.
Templeton Peck was the only one of them who had faced this particular jungle before…
The sun slanted towards the west, in a golden vista of clouds touched with crimson. By this time, they had yet to find a place to stay they could afford.
What with keeping their eyes and ears open, on constant alert, dodging into alleyways everytime a cop car was spotted, they were getting tired. At one point they watched a news story on themselves, standing in front of the window of a television repair shop, while several TV's played on the same channel.
"Oh no….they had to use that terrible picture of me!" Face griped. Hannibal and BA rolled their eyes at his vanity, even in this situation.
After that, the wanted threesome had split up slightly, at Hannibal's urging. BA had taken point this time, going slightly ahead of them.
"If we walk together, we stand out more, BA. The military is looking for three guys, one black, two white. Besides, Face and I can cover your back better."
"I gottcha, Hannibal."
The cheap motels they had already passed mostly rented rooms by the hour; they wanted more than the Team afford, for the night. Especially for three people, who also needed money to eat.
More miles walking had them in an area even BA would have hesitated to stay in. With weaponry, which none of them had.
Face was staring around them, a sour pout on his mouth. "Hannibal, we could have just caught the bus, and sneaked in to sleep outdoors at Griffith Park, for no charge! With this weather, it's like a vacation camp. It has bathrooms and showers. I know how to get the snack machines there to tilt, so the chips and candy fall out for free…"
"Now you tell us this?" BA yelled back angrily, from up front on the walk.
"Sergeant, tone it down!" Hannibal responded instinctively, realizing he had just used the military term, while a bunch of blearily interested drunks looked them over.
Just then, one of the more lively drunks approached Face. He whispered something that the younger man obviously didn't want to smell as it was spoken, turning his ear towards the fellow, with his nose away.
Hannibal and BA watched, both curious and cautious. Face could easily handle an old inebriated bum, but they didn't want the wrong kind of attention from anyone.
Face suddenly gave one of his most brilliant smiles; the drunken bum looked more hopeful than he probably had in years. A few whispers were exchanged between the two.
"Gentlemen, if you will follow us, my new friend here has graciously agreed to arrange for our room for the night."
Hannibal and BA looked at each other. Then they looked back at Face.
"Excuse me, I forgot to ask your name…" Face asked his 'new friend'.
"Georgie…I'm a… Georgie Rush! Glad to meets ya both!" He waved at BA and Hannibal.
BA started to make a rumbling sound deep down from his chest.
Hannibal put his hand up to stop anything more. "Uh, Face…what exactly are you doing?"
"Getting us an abode for tonight, at least. I'm tired, and Georgie…well, he's thirsty." Face smiled again, and Georgie nodded.
"Thirsty for what?" BA growled.
"Thunderbird!" Georgie howled.
Face stepped towards the now completely confused Colonel and BA.
"Georgie's brother runs a motel just a couple of blocks up. I told him my uncle runs the Thunderbird factory, and that tomorrow he'll get a case of it, in exchange for our room tonight." Face grinned.
"And what makes you think Georgie's brother is going to go for this?" Hannibal demanded patiently. When they had a chance, he was going to have a talk (another talk) with Face, about this sort of thing.
But then again, they were all exhausted. And Face did have a way of pulling these things off…short term, at least.
"Because I'm going to tell Georgie's brother the same story…and that he'll get to sell off the shipment himself, to the locals. For a small, yet sizeable profit."
"What makes you think a fake case of Thunderbird is worth a room for the night?" BA wanted to know.
"BA, really. Everything in life is relative…If it were fine liquors in an upscale environment, I would have said three cases. But, considering the area we're in, I think one case of Thunderbird is a realistic placement."
"You're an excellent supply officer, Face. But you always, or usually, came up with the goods. I suspect we are going to have to leave our stay early, because you can't provide the goods this time." Hannibal observed.
"That's true, Colonel. But at least we'll be able to recon out of sight tonight." Face pointed out.
"And we can get us some dinner." BA stated, looking a bit pained. The big man could handle a lot, but hunger wasn't at the top of the list.
"Yeah, that too." Face said. He was as ready for food as BA.
So was Hannibal. "Okay. Let's follow Georgie, for now." Privately, Hannibal was thinking about how vitally important is was, for him to find a way to get enough money to hide them safely. And not in Skid Row.
Georgie led them to another typical dump; the Nortel Motel. He swaggered up to the check in office, a glass enclosed cage, to protect the proprietor from theft.
"Hey, Bud! Ya in there?" Georgie tapped on the glass, peering in while he swayed a bit.
A man who indeed looked like Georgie's brother appeared from the back; except he seemed sober and weighed 100 pounds more, if he did an ounce.
"What the hell do you want now?" he barked at Georgie.
"I brung ya some business. Extra coin this time!" Georgie proudly pulled Face forward with a big grin.
Bud looked at Face, unaware he was about to be bamboozled.
"Hello Bud." Face gave the fat man a flashy, charming smile. He ran his hand through his hair unconsciously, hoping it was neat.
Bud felt his heart bounce. He'd seen some young ones on the skids before, but never one like this. This was a vision of health and blonde beauty. He could tell by the golden toned arms, this one didn't have any track marks either…
Face made short work of repeating his Thunderbird con, while Bud's double chins bobbed up and down in agreement, like a turkey the day before the ax.
The Team was shown to their room by Bud himself. "Actually, this is a suite, you see…There are two big beds in here, plus a coffeemaker. I'll bring some more towels for you, too…"
"Thank you, Bud." Hannibal answered. "We're going to get something to eat, can you recommend a local diner to us?"
Bud cocked his head, his brow furrowed. "Well, the Mission has free soup, but I wouldn't recommend it. Murry's has good cheap grilled cheese sandwiches and great coffee. And the donuts are to die for…"
'So I see', Hannibal thought, as Bud moved sideways out the door of their 'suite'. It was the only way he could fit out.
"Thanks, Bud." Face called out to him. "See you in the morning about the…package." He winked at the fat man with a nod of shared knowing.
"Okie, dokie!" Bud waddled away, pulling a skinny, swaying Georgie with him.
"Let's go get some food, Hannibal!" BA thundered.
"Here's the plan," Hannibal said in a low tone, after their cheap, delicious and wolfed down dinner was finished. Now they were back in their room.
Face was bouncing on the bed, testing the mattress with his butt and back. "What is it, Colonel? I can feel the springs in this thing." He was trying to find the best spot to sleep on.
BA came out of the bathroom. "I squashed and flushed all the roaches in there," he stated with matter of fact pride. He was calmer, now that his stomach was full of grilled cheese sandwiches…four of them. Plus 2 milks.
Hannibal rolled his eyes. "Attention!" he ordered them with a quiet yell.
Lieutenant Peck and Sergeant Baracus responded with equal speed.
"Yes, sir!" Face jumped up off the bed, BA stepped in; they both stood before him, shoulders straight, eyes forward.
"That's better. Now, considering our circumstances, limited options…plus our need for financial funds…"
"I'll make sure we can keep the room, Hannibal. At least for one more night." Face cut in. He was thinking of how to outwit Bud a bit, with promises of two cases of Thunderbird.
"Very good, Lieutenant, but right now I'm doing the talking. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, sir." Face knew that tone, and another interruption would not be wise or welcome.
"I didn't tell you this before, because I wasn't sure of the safety factor, but I do have a contact, here in Los Angeles. I called him from the payphone at Murry's. I may just have a…job…lined up for us."
BA and Face cast their eyes sideways at each other, a quick glance speaking everything.
"What kind of job, Colonel?" Face asked.
Hannibal hesitated briefly. "I'll let you both know, by 1600, tomorrow evening. Our stay here should be completed, and we can move on and forward elsewhere."
"Okay, Colonel." Face kept his solid soldiers stance. If they left by then, he wouldn't have to explain another day's delay of the Thunderbird to Bud.
"Sounds good, Hannibal." BA said. "But I did see a sign for day labor. We need the money now, sir. We need to eat."
"Point taken, BA. Let's see what funds we have left." They emptied their pockets of any bills and coins.
"$18.27…Hmm, that's not much for food between the three of us…" Hannibal noted.
"Six dollars and nice cents per man, sir." Face supplied helpfully.
"Well, we'll just have to make do. Let's turn in, and see what tomorrow brings." Hannibal told them. He hoped his contact worked out…or they might just have to rob a bank, without orders, this time.
Bright and early the next morning, they were up and bustling. At least Hannibal and BA were. Face was still snoozing, not being a morning person.
"I'm going to meet my contact, I'll be back by dinner time." Hannibal announced. "BA, you mentioned a day labor job?"
"Yeah, it's typical heavy construction, lots of lifting and manual labor. But they pay you cash at the end of the day. It should be enough to eat on."
"We'll split up the money we have left, three ways, so at least we can all get some lunch for ourselves."
Hannibal leaned down over Face. "Wake up, sleeping beauty." Face stirred, squinty eyed. "What time is it?" he yawned.
"BA and I are taking off. As for you, I want you to stay here in the room for today."
"What? I was going to go with you…" Face sat up, realizing the other two men were dressed and ready to leave.
"No, Face. The military has our mugs all over television. BA can blend in with the rest of the workers, but you would stand out like a sore thumb."
"Yeah, and you can't hammer a nail straight, without smashing yo little fingers." BA snickered.
"I need to make sure my contact hasn't decided to collect on the reward money. I'm fairly sure he's okay, but just in case, we don't need you going back to prison with me."
"But…" Face was wide awake now. He hated being alone, while the others went out without him.
"No buts, Lieutenant! You just hold the fort. And Face…"
"Yes sir…Sir?" Face turned an unhappy look up at Hannibal. His mussy blonde hair and crystal blue eyes made him look like a forlorn angel.
"Stay out of trouble, Lieutenant. That's a direct order."
"Yes, Colonel Smith, sir." Face snapped off a short salute, a tiny tinge of sarcasm in his tone.
"And make sure you eat something." Hannibal said, putting six dollars down on the nightstand for him. "Lock the door behind us."
Face nodded, continuing to sulk. He watched as the two men went out, then grumpily got up and secured the door as ordered. He peeked out between the cheap curtains, watching as his teammates went their separate ways in the early morning sunshine.
Face sighed. Here he was, stuck at the Nortel Motel, with fatso Bud for company. Or Georgie, if he got lucky…no way!
Both Hannibal and BA would be gone all day. As long as he got back by 4 p.m. or so, they'd never know he'd been out…
He checked the time. Barely past 7 in the morning. Well, he didn't see how a little more shut eye would hurt…
Face finally woke up for real close to 11a.m. He felt great; he hadn't had so much sleep in longer than he cared to remember.
He turned on the old black and white television, where a rerun of The Honeymooners played.
'Murdock loves this show.' Face thought, wishing for his friend. He knew Murdock would know all the lines, mimicking the words, impersonating Jackie Gleason's voice to perfection. He wondered if the pilot was watching the same program, at the VA, right now…
He missed his best friend.
Face sighed, feeling as lonely as he had in his childhood, back in the orphanage. They had no money, few friends, and many enemies. And they hadn't done anything wrong!
He scrubbed at his eyes, deciding that a nice warm bath would be just the ticket.
As he ran the tub, he decided to dribble some of the shampoo from the tiny motel provided sample size into the water. It foamed up just like bubble bath, one of his secret pleasures.
As he soaked in the sudsy water, he made his decision.
He couldn't let Hannibal and BA take all the responsibility for the Team's welfare. What if Hannibal didn't get the job? What if BA didn't get paid enough to feed them? And he couldn't keep putting off Bud about the Thunderbird… They would lose the room, and be out on the street again.
Face already knew what that was like. If he could handle it before, he could handle it now.
Decision made, Face let the water drain out from the bubble bath, and set about making himself presentable.
BA Baracus was mad. Very mad.
He'd worked nine solid hours, with only a few minutes break time. The foreman on the construction job had howled at them all, yelling they could pee and eat on their own damn time, not his.
And then, to top it all off, he'd only gotten paid fifteen dollars. Fifteen dollars!
They'd all been promised forty dollars for the day. Pay in cash at the end. But when he and the other workers had lined up for the promised money, they'd received a smirk and "If you don't like it, you don't have to take it. Plenty more like you, who'll take your place."
The others, unskilled laborers, illegal aliens, those down on their luck, jobless and desperate, had simply lowered their eyes and taken the pitiful payment.
BA had almost beaten the lying, cheating bastard's head into pulp, up against his own truck.
But then he remembered he was a wanted felon, and how would Hannibal and Faceman get by, without him there to watch out for them?
So now, here he was, trudging up the grimy broken sidewalk, heading towards the corner where he would turn left to go back to the Nortel Motel.
He was sweaty, he stank, and he was covered in dirt and dust. And he was hungry! Passing the local skid row denizens, he realized that he looked like he fit right in with the rest of them.
'Thank the Lord, Momma can't see me now.' He thought with gratitude. 'She'd haul me by my ear into a tubful of hot water, scrub me down herself, with that scratchy old tub brush…' He felt his eyes stinging. But not with sweat.
He missed his Momma.
Not that he'd ever admit it to Hannibal, or Face. After all, Face had never had a Momma, poor kid. And Hannibal, well, he would take a puff off that stinky cigar, (not that Hannibal had had any cigars since their arrest) and tell him to "Buck up, Sergeant! We've got a job to do!"
And his Colonel would be right.
Wiping off his forehead and dabbing his eyes with a dirty rag he'd picked up on the job, BA came to the corner where he would make the final turn for the motel.
That's when he saw Face.
BA stood stock still, watching in shock as the young blonde man exited a green Chevy Impala. His hair was disheveled; his tee shirt untucked.
Face said something to the driver, nodding with a wave and grin. Then he walked into a nearby pool hall, tidying himself up on the way.
BA clenched the dirty rag tight in his fist, something very much like heartburn coming up from his innards.
'Little brother, you are in a world of trouble with me now…' he thought, smoldering, as he walked with renewed vigor towards the pool hall Face had entered.
He was so mad, he forgot he was hungry.
BA made sure to enter the pool hall carefully, not wanting Face to know just yet that he was tailing him.
It was a very rough place, stinking of booze, sickness, and it seemed to BA from past experience with the smell, of blood mixed into it all.
And there was Face, golden boy extraordinaire, behaving as though he belonged here.
'Momma would 'a tanned your lily white behind,' BA observed. 'An don't think I won't do the same, Faceman.'
He carefully sank back into the shadows of a corner, watching as Face approached a couple of tough looking older men.
After a moment of quiet conversation, with the two men looking Face over in a way that had BA snarling low in his throat, the three of them took their places around a pool table.
BA saw Face slap a twenty dollar bill down on the edge of the pool table. The other men followed his action, and the game was on.
'Oh, Faceman…' BA felt himself grow cold with realization of his fears.
He stayed in his corner, as the games went on. Face won the first, then lost the next…almost too easily, BA noticed.
The second game came to an end, when Face made an offer to the two men. "How about we go for it all, this time. I have to be someplace else soon, and only have time for one last try to get my money back from you. How about it?"
The two skid row hoods looked at each other, then back at Face.
"Okay, kiddo. But it's just you and me, on this one. Put up, or shut up." The beefier of the two guys told him, with a wicked smile to match his character.
Face put up his last bills, the man matching him.
"Winner takes all." The second man said, his dirty smirk making BA inch closer. Nobody looked at Faceman that way, without losing some teeth…
Face racked them up, and broke the balls.
And all hell broke loose, in the muscle filled form of BA 'Bosco' Baracus.
"BA! BA!" Face was yelling, as the bigger man swatted his backside hard enough to leave bruises. He had Face by the collar of his too small tee shirt, his free hand doing a fine job of well delivered, corporal punishment.
"Just be glad I let you leave your jeans up!" BA informed Face, giving him a final rough butt slap. "My momma wouldn't have."
They were out back of the pool hall building, on a dusty unpaved parking lot, having escaped before the authorities could be called. The two skid row hoods had been dispatched by the unexpected arrival of BA, and were now unconscious, but still alive. Barely.
Face's eyes glistened with tears, as much from embarrassment, as the pain.
"You left my money behind!" Face shouted, "And what are you doing here anyway?" He rubbed his sore butt, unaware of his action.
BA stepped away from the young blonde, his huge hand stinging from the spanking he'd administered in anger.
"Oh, little brother, what were you doin?" The big man hung his hands at his sides, and his head went down.
"What?" Face asked, suddenly concerned for him. "I was winning us enough money to stay off the street! And get some food for us to eat!"
BA realized they couldn't hold a conversation here. "Come with me, Faceman."
"Where are we going?" Face asked, a bit worried.
"To the burger joint up the street. I'm buying." BA's tone brooked no further argument.
Silently, Face went with him. He couldn't understand why BA would come close to killing two guys he was about to hustle some pool game winnings from. Let alone how BA knew he was there, doing it.
Or why he'd made Face leave the money behind. That was the worst of it. If BA knew how he'd come by the grub stake in the first place…well, that was best left unsaid. Definitely
They got to the burger joint, and placed an order that included dinner for Hannibal. "We're eating here, make the third order to go." BA told the counter kid.
BA took their dinner outside, where they could sit alone, with a bit of privacy.
After a few minutes of munching their burgers, fries and milk (strawberry shake for Face), BA cleared his throat.
Face clenched up at bit, his French fries sticking in his gullet. He hastily sucked up some milkshake to send them down.
"Well?" Face asked, after a long moment of silence on BA's behalf.
"I saw you get out of that car, Faceman." BA said, very quietly. Too quietly.
Face felt sick; his mind scampered for an answer. Anything but the truth.
"I…I was just…" Face looked up into BA's dark knowing eyes, and realized he couldn't con his way out of this one. His cheeks and ears burned bright red.
He looked down at his crummy, half eaten burger. And suddenly felt angry.
"Well, what about it? So, you saw me!" His butt was sore, and now BA was giving him a hard time about doing what was necessary in their time of need.
"Yeah, I saw you. And I know what you was doing, with that man."
Face felt his temple pounding. "It's my body, and I can do what I want to with it!" he shouted, all pretense of civility gone. "We need the money!"
"Not that bad…" BA began.
"YES, WE DO!" Face shouted even louder, breathing like a marathon runner. From emotional exertion, not physical.
"I won't let you do that, Faceman." BA replied solemnly. He put his milk container down in a deliberate manner.
For one of the first times in his young adult life, Face was at a loss for words. A part of him couldn't believe this was happening. Another part…a new part…felt something he'd never known before.
But then, his old self surfaced, reasserting his independence. "Oh, and how are you going to stop me? You can't be around all the time, BA. And don't think spanking me like a child will stop me either!" Face realized how out of control his breathing was, and made an effort to calm himself.
"We'll get by, without you selling your body." BA told him, as though that was the end of the subject. "You got more brains, than you even got beauty, Faceman. Don't you realize that?"
Face was flabbergasted. No one in his entire life, had said such a thing to him before. Not that he doubted it, he'd just thought he was the only one who knew it.
"Uh, well… Oh, look, BA, I only did it because we're in a tight spot." Face took another swig from his strawberry shake. He needed it.
Then he had another thought.
"You won't tell Hannibal, will you?" he asked, hopefully. He couldn't stand it, if BA squealed on him about this. Especially this.
"Nah, I won't. It's gonna stay between us." BA wiped off his milk moustache. "But I'm gonna keep an eye on you. Don't you forget that."
"I won't, BA, honest." Face let out a breath of extreme relief. "But since you left the money I made…and won…behind, and you just spent most of yours, what are we going to do, now?"
BA stood up. "Let's get back to the room, before Hannibal does. The Colonel gave you a direct order not to go anywhere, didn't he?"
"Yes, he did." Face scrambled up, grabbing the bag of Hannibal's burgers, and they hot footed it back to the motel.
They crept in around the side of the building, not wanting to walk past Bud in his glass office cage. The fat man had his eye out for them…well, for Face mostly, and they didn't need the hassle right now.
They took turns cleaning up, Face going first, to straighten up his hair and splash cold water on his eyes. He made sure his tee was properly tucked in.
BA took a much needed, and well deserved, long hot shower. He'd just finished up and had a skimpy motel towel wrapped around his powerful torso, when Hannibal came home.
The two of them saw their Colonel's calmly pleased expression, and knew things were looking up for the Team…finally!
And best of all, was the wonderful, comforting sight of Hannibal puffing on a fat cigar!
"I'da never believed it myself, Colonel, but I'm actually glad to see you smoking that stinking cigar! BA grinned, "You musta made out good today."
Face scurried to find an ashtray for Hannibal. "Tell us what happened, sir!" he asked, eager as a stray pup for a treat.
Hannibal took a seat in the rickety chair by the warped wooden table. Pulling the ashtray closer to him, he took a big puff, let the smoke out in a huge cloud, and tapped his cigar. Then he smiled; a big, bright jazzy smile, like they hadn't seen since before the Bank of Hanoi fiasco.
"Sergeant, Lieutenant, take a seat, please."
Face and BA scampered to sit, landing next to each other on the poky old spring mattress. Both their hearts were jumping with excitement.
"My contact provided an even better opportunity than I expected. We have been hired as…private security…on an unusual job. Since our clients require confidentiality, that will work better for us, as well. All they know, is that we're mercenaries for hire, and that we can do the job. Not who we are."
"What about weapons and transportation?" BA wondered, frowning.
"What about new clothes, and our payment?" Face asked, concerned.
"I told our new client that our services are only provided with payment up front. Satisfaction guaranteed, of course." Hannibal put his cigar in the ashtray, and reached into his Salvation Army jacket pocket.
With a flourish, he pulled out a fat, legal sized envelope. He opened it up and let them see inside.
"Oh, Lord…" BA's tone was reverent.
"Oh, boy!" Face was as gleeful as a kid at Disneyland.
"Face, as my duly selected Team Treasurer in charge of finances, why don't you count it for us?" Of course, Hannibal already had, but he wanted to see the look in Face's eyes at his new position.
"What?" BA started to object, but one look from Hannibal silenced him.
Face flipped through the bills lightening fast, his brain focused on the task. "$12,462.00, Colonel." His bright blue eyes shone with pride and joy, at Hannibal's trust in him.
"Very good. I used a few dollars for a small supply of cigars." Hannibal turned to BA. "Sergeant, you will be in charge of reconnoitering our transportation. Face, you go with me to scout our weaponry. We have to be in position and ready to work by 2100 tomorrow night."
"Yes, sir!" They responded with vigorous enthusiasm.
"Well, now that you have your orders, what is that I smell?" Hannibal looked around with interest.
"We got you some burgers," Face said, hurrying to set the bag before his CO.
Hannibal munched his meal, feeling more content than he had in a long while. They were still on the lam, wanted felons. But now they had a chance.
He looked at the young men under his command…barely more than teenagers. He doubted if Face was even that old. But in the real ways that counted, they were men; they were warriors. They'd handled Vietnam; they could handle their own country.
"So, what did you two do today?" he asked, noticing the six dollars he'd left on the nightstand for Face that morning was untouched.
"Oh…uh…well, I took a bath. And watched a lot of television." Face responded quietly. Hannibal didn't miss the quick look from under the blonde's lashes, directed at BA.
"Jus' did ma day job, Hannibal. Not the kinda work I plan on doin' again." BA glanced sideways at Face, in a barely perceptible manner. His voice was gruff, but didn't sound angry.
"Well, it doesn't seem as though you'll have to," said Hannibal, knowing something more was up. But he decided not to press it, just this once. They were whole and safe, and that's what counted. Now all they had to do was…
Loud knocking came from the door.
They froze, for a bare instant.
Then Hannibal, with a mouthful of hamburger, instinctively reached for the gun he didn't have.
BA stood up, ready to fight, his fallen towel forgotten on the floor.
Face instantly stuffed their money envelope down into the crotch of his jeans, survival instinct kicking in.
The lock on the door began to rattle, then they heard the fitting of a key into it, and the door opened.
Bud stared up in shock at a naked BA, who had his hands on his throat.
"Hey," he squeaked.
Hannibal swallowed his food. "Back off, BA. Sorry Bud, we just weren't expecting visitors."
"I…I can see that." Bud backed off a step, looking for Face.
"There you are! I want my money, or I want that Thunderbird!" he yelled, pointing a puffy finger at the blonde.
Face looked back at Bud, with his best innocent expression. "Well, all you had to do, was come and ask me for it. You see…"
"I've been looking for you," Bud spluttered, rubbing his throat. "You haven't been in your room all day!"
"Uh... Oh…." Face looked down at the patchy carpet, shaking his head miserably.
With an upraised questioning eyebrow, Hannibal looked at his Lieutenant, then picked up his cigar.
"Well, Face…first things first. My cigar's gone out. Do you have a light?"
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