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An Eye on You

Another Eye On You

By A. Jewels

 

Rating: R

Summary: It's 1972, during the first week after the Team reaches Los Angeles, after their prison break. Murdock is out of reach, in the VA. Face is about 19; BA early to mid-twenties. They take on their first case as mercenaries for hire.

Warning: Language, violence, death (not a major character), attempted m/m rape, off screen prostitution, h/c, mentioned disciplinary spanking.

Feedback: Always welcome!

Disclaimer: I don't own the A-team, or make any money from this.

Note: This story can stand alone, but certain details will make more sense if you've read my prior tale, An Eye On You, first.

Word count: 11,163                                         Story complete

Email: IamsweetJewels@hotmail.com

 

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Year: 1972

 

"Well, Face… first things first. My cigar's gone out. Do you have a light?"

 

Hannibal looked over at his Lieutenant, his stern gaze causing butterflies to flitter through the young blonde's stomach.

 

Face lit his Colonel's cigar with the matches left beside the ashtray. He managed not to let his hand tremble; but he knew he was in trouble now!

 

"Bud, BA will be right over to your office, with cash to pay for our room. The Thunderbird wine delivery that Face promised you has been cancelled."

 

The fat man nodded at the firm tone in the silver haired man's voice. "I'll give you five minutes. Then, things are going to get nasty." He waddled away, wishing that the blonde kid had been alone. He'd liked to have taken the room payment out of the pretty boy another way…

 

"BA, you get dressed, and take Bud his money. Tell him we won't be using the room tonight. I think we'll take a taxi to better accommodations, and treat ourselves to a real meal." Hannibal told him.

 

"I can get behind a plan like that!" BA picked up his fallen motel towel, and hustled into the bathroom to dress.

 

Hannibal held out his hand towards Face, palm up. "Lieutenant, our money envelope, please."

 

Face noted the use of his rank, instead of his nickname. He reached down into his pants, retrieving the envelope from the crotch of his jeans. He handed the now warm money stuffed envelope over to his CO.

 

Hannibal took out a couple of twenties, and then placed the rest of the money back into his Salvation Army jacket pocket.

 

'I guess I'm not the Team's Treasurer anymore…' Face thought glumly to himself.

 

BA came out of the bathroom, dressed and ready to go.  "Take this to Bud, BA." Hannibal told him, handing over the forty bucks. "And wait for us outside, will you? My Lieutenant and I have something to discuss…in private."

 

"Will do, Hannibal." BA gave Face a sympathetic glance, and headed out. He just hoped the Colonel wouldn't be too angry at his little brother. After all, he'd already spanked the kid, and talked to him about his 'activities' that afternoon…

 

"Well, Lieutenant?" Hannibal tapped his cigar expectantly.

 

"Well, what? Sir." Face replied with earnest sounding, respectful confusion. He was standing at attention, eyes forward, not meeting Hannibal's look.

 

Hannibal stood up, and stared down into Face's façade of calm. He realized he was going to have to pry whatever had happened out of the young man.

 

"Why did you leave the room?" Hannibal asked, point blank.

 

"I, uh, I went to tell Bud that the Thunderbird was delayed." Face lied instinctively. "But I couldn't find him."  If he told the truth, he was afraid his Colonel might be so disgusted and appalled, he'd kick him off the Team…

 

"I gave you a direct order to stay in the room, today. Why did you disobey me?" Hannibal punctuated his words with sharp jabs of his cigar towards Face.

 

"Technically, sir, you gave me a direct order to stay out of trouble. And I didn't cause any trouble…BA started it!" he blurted out the last words without thinking.

 

Hannibal stared down at him. Face looked like a little kid caught in the act, and was now blaming his sibling for it!

 

Hannibal sighed. Sometimes he forgot how young Face still was. "What did BA start?" he asked patiently.

 

"Well…" Face finally looked up into Hannibal's eyes, knowing that a partial confession would be far better than the full story.

 

"I went to the pool hall up the street, to try and hustle some winnings for us. I wasn't sure if you would get the job, or if BA would get paid enough from his day labor to feed and shelter us." Face gave Hannibal his best 'I did it for the Team' expression.

 

And that was the truth, after all. Some if it.

 

"Tell me the rest." Hannibal ordered, sitting back down.

 

"I was taking these two suckers…uh, two guys…for over a hundred bucks. Suddenly, BA charges in, like a wild elephant on a rampage!" Face was waving his arms around, the memory of the enraged black man as he beat the other players up, spurring him on.

 

"When he was done with them, he came after me! He dragged me out of there bodily, to the backside parking lot. And then he…he spanked me! And worst of all," Face paused for dramatic effect. "BA made me leave all my money behind! Can you believe it?"

 

Hannibal puffed his cigar thoughtfully. "Is that all of it?'

 

"Then we went to the burger place, BA paid for dinner, and we came back here. You came home, then Bud showed up…well, that's it." Face said, heartfelt and (partially) earnest. If he hadn't been standing at attention, he'd have crossed his fingers.

 

"Hmm." Hannibal replied. "So you think I should discipline both of you?"

 

"Uhhh, well, no. No sir." Face felt his heart rate speed up frantically. "I realize I shouldn't have been at the pool hall in the first place. I guess that's why BA was mad at me."

 

Oh boy, if BA got disciplined, he was sure the spanking that afternoon would feel like a kiss on the cheek…both of his backside cheeks, to be sure.

 

But he was also sure BA would keep good on his word, to not tell the full truth to Hannibal. No matter what, BA always kept his promises…

 

"Very, well. I'll have to think about a proper disciplinary action, for your disobedience, Lieutenant. But, it will have to wait until after our job is done. And Face…" Hannibal paused.

 

"Yes, sir?" The blonde looked at his CO guilelessly.

 

"Don't think I'll forget about it. You will be properly punished, when we have the time."

 

"Understood, sir." Face nodded, barely managing not to grin.

 

'Whew!' he thought with immense relief. 'That was a close one!"

 

****************

 

Hannibal telephoned for a cab, reassuring the dispatcher that they did indeed have cash to pay the driver. Apparently the area they were in didn't have many customers who could afford the fare.

 

They made sure the room was clear of any personal effects before they left, wiping their prints from all the surfaces they'd touched.  After all, they'd been fingerprintered after their arrest, and when entering the Army.

 

Face took the quick opportunity to sneak the six dollars still on the nightstand by his bed into the pocket of his jeans. It was a little detail that could have consequences if Hannibal had noticed it.

 

They joined BA, waiting in the parking lot for them, until the cab arrived.

 

BA gave Face a look, to which the blond nodded slightly, giving the (false) impression that he'd 'come clean' to their Colonel.

 

BA accepted this, deciding nothing more need be said. He was a bit surprised at how well Hannibal was taking the news, however. He'd expected to hear some yelling coming from the Colonel, at the least.

 

Their cab pulled up, and they squeezed together into the back seat, Face in the middle.

 

"It's a good thing I'm slim!" he observed sourly. "BA, your elbow is in my ribs!"

 

"Where to?" The cabby asked around the cigarette dangling from his mouth.

 

"The Holiday Inn, on Burbank Boulevard." Hannibal replied.

 

"Ahhh, I gotta ask, Mack. Can you show me some green, first? Dispatcher doesn't trust this area, if you know what I mean." The cabby peered at them, especially BA, over his shoulder.

 

"Will twenty dollars get us on our way?" Hannibal asked him. "And that'll be your tip, plus the fare once we get there." He put the twenty through the slot opening in the wire grill that separated the cabby from his passengers.

 

"Good enough for me, Mack!" The cabby snagged the bill, and they were off.

 

Face looked through the cab window, to see fatso Bud watching, as they drove away. He was glad to be out of the Nortel Motel that was for sure…

 

The cheerful lights of the Burbank Holiday Inn greeted them as the cab pulled up. After Skid Row, it was almost like being in another country.

 

Hannibal paid the cabby, and they checked in. When they were asked for identification, Face sadly explained that their bags had been lost at the airport. His pleading baby blues, plus the cash Hannibal put forward on the night clerk's desk helped ease them into a room, no more questions asked.

 

"Oh, wow!" Face jumped onto one of the two King sized beds. "No more springs in my backside!"

 

"There's a small sized refrigerator here, too, Hannibal. It's stocked up with snacks for us." BA observed, sorting through the goodies.

 

"Well," Hannibal looked through the candies, chips and sodas. "I for one could go for a big juicy steak, with all the trimmings. How about you two?"

 

"Count me in!" Face chirped happily.

 

"Me, too." BA replied with relish.

 

After a quick clean up, the threesome headed down to the hotel's restaurant.

 

"Hey, they have a smorgasbord!"  Face eyed the spread of tasty dishes, his mouth watering. "Could I have a steak, and the smorgasbord?" he asked Hannibal, his wide eyes sparkling with greedy excitement.

 

"Our smorgasbord comes with all entrée dinners, sir." The headwaiter told him, showing them to a large circular booth. In his silent opinion, the blond teenager was far too skinny to start with, and needed all he could eat.

 

Then he took a good look at the teenager's face…and did a double take.

 

After they ordered, Face made good on his plans for the smorgasbord. He returned to their table, with a plate heaping full.

 

"Are you sure you can fit all that in, plus a steak and baked potato too?" Hannibal asked with a smile.

 

"You bet!" Face attacked his plate of mixed salad, Jell-O' parfait, cheeses, fresh fruit, mixed nuts, cookies, macaroni salad, jalapeno peppers…and chocolate cake.

 

Watching him, BA made up his mind. "Waiter, add on a smorgasbord for me too!" he yelled across the restaurant, his mouth watering with anticipation.

 

"Help yourself, sir" the headwaiter replied. "It comes with your entrée."

 

The headwaiter's private thoughts were his own.  He knew a golden opportunity when he saw one…and it was sitting right in front of him.

 

*******************

 

Face burped. "Excuse me." He spoke with now sleepy satisfaction. He'd already undone the top button on his too tight jeans, and was now feeling the urge to unzip them, under his napkin, of course. Everything was too tight.

 

He looked down, and saw a splotch of red raspberry jello on his white tee. He also noticed that for the first time in his life, his stomach was sticking out!

 

"I'm gonna need some bigger clothes, Colonel." He observed. "These are for a fifteen year old!"

 

Hannibal puffed his cigar, feeling the wonderful effects of more than enough good food, in too long a time.

 

"We'll get some new duds tomorrow, for all of us. I say we redonate our clothes back to the Salvation Army, after we've outfitted ourselves. After all…" he took another puff, blowing out the smoke. "You never know who might need them next."

 

"Amen to that." BA agreed.

 

"Will you be charging your dinner to your room, sir?" the headwaiter asked, looking over the well fed trio, his gaze lingering on the blonde a bit too long.

 

"No, we'll be paying in cash, thank you." Hannibal pulled out the money owed on the dinner tab, plus a nice, but not flashy tip. He'd noticed the man eyeing Face, as the kid piled his plate at the smorgasbord. He just hoped he hadn't recognized Face from the television reports.

 

Of course, the teen sized tee and jeans made Face look even younger than he was. Not at all like a veteran of two tours in Vietnam. Plus Special Forces training, even before Hannibal had met him, and put him on his Team.

 

 But they needed to be careful, so Hannibal paid particular attention to the headwater's attitude after paying. 

 

As they left, Hannibal saw the special interest the headwaiter kept giving to a sleepy, over fed and oblivious Face. He also noticed that Face's jeans were undone, to obviously allow the young man room for his now very full tummy.

 

"I think you need to button up, Lieutenant." Hannibal whispered to him.

 

"Okay…" Face grumbled, doing it. He was almost asleep on his feet.

 

When they reached their room, Hannibal put out the Do Not Disturb sign, and locked the door securely.

 

Face rolled onto the nearest bed, and nodded off without even removing his sneakers.

 

"He's exhausted, Hannibal. Can't say I blame him." BA observed. "I'm gonna take the other bed for myself. We're both to big to share one between us, and fit comfortably anyways."

 

"Right, good night, BA." Hannibal went over to sit next to Face. Undoing the shoe laces, he took off the blonde's sneakers, putting them out of the way on the floor. After a moment's consideration, he undid the jeans too, slipping them off. He tucked Face under the covers in his briefs and tee shirt.

 

"Sleep tight, kid." Hannibal patted the golden haired head softly.

 

Going around to the other side of the bed, Hannibal stripped down to his own skivvies. Setting the clock alarm and turning off the light, with a big sigh of relief, he hit the sack himself.

 

******************

 

BA checked the classified ads in the morning paper, noting which vehicles were for sale. "We'll need something roomy, Hannibal, to fit all three of us, plus our weapons. I can put some tinted liners on the side and back windows, to conceal us."

 

BA called a couple of the more likely prospects, and made an appointment to go check out their potential transportation. Hannibal handed over a good portion of their money, entrusting BA to get the best deal. The big man called a taxi, and was off.

 

Hannibal took a shower, letting Face sleep in a while longer. Then he plumped up a pillow, leaned back against the headboard, lit his first cigar of the day, and turned on the morning news.

 

A few minutes into the broadcast, their faces were up on the screen for the world to see. At least they weren't the lead story, anymore.

 

Next to him, Face snored softly. Hannibal noted the kid's hair had started to grow out from his military mug shot, and decided it suited the young man. Maybe BA should change his style too…

 

BA returned just as Face woke up. "Come and see our new ride!" BA told them excitedly.

 

Face rinsed out his mouth with the hotel's provided mouthwash, noting that the purchase of a toothbrush was an immediate necessity. And a comb as well, as he used his fingers to try and neaten up his hair.

 

They went down to the hotel parking lot, to check out BA's purchase. "Whatcha think?" BA stopped before a 1962 blue and white Volkswagen Bus. He opened the door, to let his teammates check out the interior.

 

"Uh…it's different." Face said, noting the white vinyl seat covers, and pine paneling. Somehow he'd been hoping for something more…well, sporty. He eyed the Corona beer plaque on a pine paneled seat side with distaste. Definitely not the kind of ride he'd use to pick up a date with!

 

"It's a manual transmission, and the engine runs great." BA informed them, ignoring Face's glum expression.

 

"How much was it?" Hannibal asked.

 

"Twelve hundred dollars. The lady I bought it from said it belonged to her late husband, who mostly drove it up to the lake to go fishing. It has pretty low mileage, for a ten year old VW Bus."

 

"Okay." Hannibal nodded. He'd personally been expecting something a bit jazzier himself, but they needed reliable wheels more than style right now.

 

They took their seats in the VW Bus, Hannibal taking the front passenger side. Face sat in back, trying to ignore the Corona beer plaque.

 

They went to a Military Surplus store Hannibal had found in the yellow pages. It was in a fairly rough section of East L.A., so they could probably find what they needed, without going through the proper legal paperwork. Or so Hannibal hoped.

 

Rudy's Gun Shop 'New and Used', was painted in red on the building.

 

"BA, you stay with our transport, we don't need our bus disappearing on us." Hannibal stated, noting some glances in their direction from a few young gang members lollygagging on the corner.

 

"Right." BA replied. Nobody was taking his ride anywhere but him.

 

Face and Hannibal entered the gun shop, noting the armed man working at the counter.

 

"Good morning," Hannibal called out to him, with a friendly nod.

 

"Ola, what can I help you with?" the fellow responded, giving them both a quick intelligent glance, sizing them up. He was almost as tall as Hannibal, with a black ponytail, mustache and numerous tattoos covering his arms.

 

Suddenly the Mexican man looked at the Colonel with shocked recognition.

 

"Uh Oh," Face thought, ready to cut and run. They didn't need to be held at gunpoint by the owner of a gun shop, until the authorities arrived…

 

"Hannibal? Colonel Smith?" the man said, staring wide eyed, in a disbelieving voice.

 

"Ummm," Hannibal stalled, noting the fellow wasn't pulling his weapon on them. Which was a good sign, he hoped.  He hated not having a plan…

 

"It's me, Rudy!" the gun shop owner pounded his chest. "Rudy Ramirez!" he grinned at them both.

 

"Rudy…" Hannibal stared at the man, suddenly recognizing that grin. 'Rudy Ramirez, well I'll be damned!" Hannibal couldn't believe his eyes, or their luck.

 

 Rudy Ramirez was one of the best who'd ever been in his old unit!  He gave him a big bear hug, as Rudy came out from behind the counter.

 

Face watched all this, feeling relief flood his gut. He didn't know who the hell Rudy Ramirez was, but it seemed like they'd finally found a real friend when they most needed one!

 

"Face, this is…" Hannibal gestured to Rudy.

 

"Hello Rudy, I'm Templeton." Face shook the big Mexican man's hand warmly.

 

"I know…" Rudy returned the handshake firmly. "You guys are all over the television. Never in a million years did I ever think you'd walk into my shop! How'd you know I was here?"

 

"Dumb luck, actually." Hannibal told him. "Found your ad in the yellow pages."

 

"I served under Hannibal from '66 to '68" Rudy told Face. "I got sent home after taking a hit and lost a kidney."

 

"So, Rudy, you seem to be doing pretty well for yourself these days." Hannibal gestured around the well stocked surplus shop.

 

"I'm getting by, what with five kids. And Rosa is pregnant again…" Rudy grinned proudly.

 

"It seems like having only one kidney hasn't slowed you down any!" Hannibal laughed, clapping Rudy on the back. "Congratulations!"

 

"Thanks. So what can I do for you, Colonel? Considering your wanted status, I'm guessing you need some fire power to protect yourselves."

 

"Right on, Rudy. What have you got for us?"

 

"Come in the back with me, I'll show you something special." Rudy lead them into the rear stockroom, where his best stuff was.

 

"Now, this will see you through anything," Rudy held up his first choice. "An Atchisson assault shotgun. It's blowback operated, with a round drum magazine."

 

Hannibal took the weapon, testing the weight, eyeballing the sight. Then he handed it over to an eager Face.

 

"What's the rate of fire?" Face asked.

 

"360 rounds per minute." Rudy replied.

 

"Nice!" Face smiled.

 

They checked out some M16 rifles, and Face especially liked a .45 automatic Colt handgun. Something he could hide under his jacket…when he got a jacket.

 

They settled on two Atchisson shotguns, three M16 rifles and Face got his Colt. Several rounds of ammunition and a shoulder holster for Face completed their purchase. Rudy offered to wait for full payment, well aware they might need some time; Hannibal gave him the cash with a flourish.

 

Rudy cut them a good deal, knowing they would be back for their firepower needs in the future.

 

"It's good doing business with you Rudy." Hannibal clapped him on the back again.

 

"Yes, thank you, Rudy. We appreciate finding a friend, especially in our present circumstances." Face shook his hand with a big smile.

 

"Anytime you need something, I can get it for you." Rudy assured them.

 "Take my business card and call me ahead of time for the more exotic items." He waved goodbye with a grin, as they went out the door.

 

It was good to see his Colonel out of prison.

 

****************

 

"Well, now we have our ordinance, can we please go buy some new clothes?" Face pleaded. "These jeans are cutting off my circulation in the worst possible place!" he told them with a slight whine in his voice.

 

They were buzzing along on the Golden State freeway, heading back towards Burbank.

 

"Alright," Hannibal agreed, lighting up a cigar. He was looking forward to getting out of his seedy plaid jacket himself.

 

"Yeah, I'm sick of looking at that jello stain on your tee shirt, Faceman." BA observed with a grin, knowing that Face hated having dirty or unkempt clothes.

 

"Humph!" Face sighed, embarrassed. "Look, Hannibal! There's a Macy's!"

 

The rather sloppy looking trio entered the upscale department store to a few stares. Hannibal rubbed his chin, feeling the stubble. Maybe they should have stopped at a barber shop first…

 

They made their way to the men's clothing department. Face lost no time in picking out a couple of pair of pricey but durable jeans in his real size. He paired them up with a few sporty shirts and a striped sweater. But what really caught his eye was a black leather jacket on a mannequin.

 

Hannibal turned from his own shopping to see his lieutenant fingering the butter soft leather longingly.

 

"See something you like, Face?" he asked, going over to check out the price tag.

 

"I've never had a leather jacket, Hannibal." Face told him with wistful eyes.

 

"Would the young gentleman like to try it on?" asked the dandy acting male salesclerk.

 

"Go ahead…" Hannibal told the eager blonde. It was overpriced in his opinion, but the look on the young man's face was well worth it.

 

The clerk slipped the jacket off the mannequin. "This is the last one I have in stock," he sniffed. "This extremely popular style sold out within two days."

 

Face stared at himself in a mirror, checking out the pockets, luxuriating in the feel of the sleek black leather.  He caught Hannibal's eyes reflected back at him in the mirror, twinkling with amused affection.

 

"How do I look?" Face asked, preening a bit.

 

"Like a million bucks, kid. That jacket was made for you."

 

Face let out a whoop of  joy, almost jumping up and down with happiness.

 

Armed with their purchases, they made a last stop for toiletries at Thrifty's drug store. Face picked out his toothbrush first.

 

******************

 

"Face, you take our bags up to the room, and grab a shower. I know you're itching to use that baby shampoo." Hannibal teased him.

 

BA smirked back at Face in the rearview mirror.

 

"BA, you and I can properly stow and secure our weaponry, while our LT makes himself pretty." Hannibal laughed, as Face rolled his eyes. He knew Face hated it when anyone called him pretty.  But he could tell the kid was eager to put on his new clothes, and leather jacket.

 

"And why don't you order up some room service for us," Hannibal told him, handing over some money. "That way we can eat, BA and I can clean up after you, and we'll be ready to go do our job."

 

Face was glad to oblige, wondering when Hannibal was going to tell them exactly what the job was.

                                              

Humming a happy tune, he made his way up to their room alone. Checking out the room service menu, he decided that roast beef sandwiches on crusty French bread, with dill pickles and potato salad sounded good.

 

He placed an order for three sandwiches, milk and ice tea, and was told it would take about 30 minutes. Good, he thought, time to wash up first.

 

He stripped out of his donated clothes with relief, and took a quick but thorough shower, washing his hair, and brushing his teeth. He heard a knock at the door, and wrapped a towel around his lean waist.

 

Carefully looking through the peephole first, he recognized the waiter as the same man who had been working in the restaurant last night.

 

Face let him in, and handed over the money, not noticing the strange light in the other man's eyes. He was looking at the roast beef, his mouth watering.

 

When the waiter kept standing there, making no move to leave, Face gave him a questioning glance.

 

"How about an extra tip?" the dark haired waiter said softly.

 

Face was confused. "I already gave you a tip," he replied, a bit annoyed.

 

"I want more." The man told him with a nasty crooked smile. "And since I know who you really are, it'll be in your best interest to give me what I want without a fight!" With that chilling comment, he stepped forward and violently ripped Face's towel off.

 

He looked up and down with ugly lust at Face's nude body, then told him, "On the bed, now! Or I'll have you sent back to prison and collect the reward money." He stepped forward menacingly. "Just think about it sweet thing, either I get you now, or the guards and other inmates ALL get you…"

 

Face moved instinctively, his fist smashing into the larger man's nose. Blood spurted forth, as the waiter wailed in pain. He briefly considered killing the bastard, but settled for another fist to his gut.

 

At that instant the door opened, and Hannibal and BA were treated to the stunning sight of a naked Face beating the room service waiter to a pulp.

 

"Face!" Hannibal ordered. "Stand down!" He ran over and grabbed Face's arm before another blow could be dealt. Looking closer, he recognized the man bleeding on the carpet as their headwaiter of the night before.

 

"BA, take care of that jerk." He ordered the now enraged Sergeant over his shoulder.

 

"Whatcha doing, sucka!?" BA shoved the now nearly unconscious waiter to the floor, kicking him soundly in the ribs. It wasn't necessary that the man answer; it was clear what he'd been trying to do to the young blonde.

 

"Face, go wash that blood off your knuckles, and get dressed. You don't want his mess on your new clothes. I though we could all clean up and eat something, but that plan is out the window now." Hannibal noted sourly.

 

"He should be outta the window!" BA shouted, pointing down at Face's attacker.

 

"Be my guest, BA." Face told him with wholehearted disgust, going to wash off his bloodied knuckles at the bathroom sink.

 

Hannibal tore a sheet up into strips, hog tying and gagging the would be rapist.

 

"He knows who we are, Hannibal. He told me it would be in my best interest to give him what he wanted, without a fight." Face informed them, feeling his heart still pounding hard in his chest. "Or he'd turn us in."

 

"Damn him!" Hannibal considered venting some anger of his own on the bound bastard. But they had other considerations…

 

 "Well, let's change and pack everything up, and clear out of this dodge before someone comes looking for him. We can use one of the empty clothing bags for those sandwiches, too. He's not going to cheat us out of our lunch into the bargain."

 

They put on their new clothes, after a very quick wash up at the sink. Hannibal ran a fast razor over his stubble, while Face and BA packed up their lunch, and put their old clothes in another bag for donating back to the Salvation Army.

 

They wiped down the room for prints, and were just about to make a hasty exit with their belongings, when the waiter began moaning loudly from the floor through his gag.

 

"BA, quiet him down!" Hannibal ordered.

 

"Be my pleasure!" BA backhanded the bastard, who stayed limp and silent on the floor, hidden behind the furthest bed. The maid wouldn't find him until she vacuumed the next morning.

 

With a final flourish, Hannibal hung the Do Not Disturb sign on the door knob, and the Team hightailed it to their VW Bus down in the parking lot.

 

*****************

 

"Well, Colonel…I think this might be a good time for you to tell us what our job is." Face said, tearing off another bite of his salvaged roast beef sandwich.

 

"Yeah, what's up, Hannibal?" BA asked around his own mouthful.

 

They were sitting at a picnic table, in a small public park several safe miles away from Burbank. It was a beautiful sunny day, with the flowers blooming in bright colors of orange, red and magenta purple. Little children screamed delightedly from a playground in the distance, while small birds hopped on the grass nearby them, waiting for the leftover bread crumbs from their meal. It was a very happy contrast to their location of just the day before.

 

"Well…I'm sure our client will explain all the details, but basically he's received death threats. Plus he's being blackmailed into the bargain."

 

"Who is our client?" Face asked, pushing the hair out of his eyes. The warm California breeze blew it back over his face, and he pulled out his new comb, determined to deal with it.

 

"Now that's a surprise, for both of you." Hannibal told them with a mischievous smile. "But I'm sure you'll recognize him on sight."

 

"What?" said BA.

 

"Is it someone we know?" Face demanded.

 

"Well…someone you've seen before. And that's all I'm going to say, for now." Hannibal told them, keeping that mysterious smile on his face.

 

*******************

 

Following Hannibal's directions, BA pulled their VW Bus up to a palatial Brentwood estate. They were buzzed through an electronically controlled gate, to wind up a beautiful terracotta tiled driveway, stopping in front of a superb Spanish style villa.

 

"Wow, from Skid Row to Brentwood, in one day…" Face sighed, eyeing the villa and the marble fountain sparkling in the sunlight. If only he could live in a place like this some day… He vowed privately to himself that he would.

 

"Man, Hannibal, you must have some kinda contacts!" BA blurted, staring at the mansion. "This place is bigger than the apartment building where my Mama lives!"

 

"Try not to stare, and behave like the professional band of soldiers that we are." Hannibal told them quietly. He knew how much was riding on this first job. Their futures, finances… and their freedom.

 

As they approached the double front doors, they opened. Instead of a butler or maid, as one would expect in such an opulent home, there stood a slender man, of average height, wearing a tank top, cut off shorts and flip flops.

 

His jet black wavy hair, with stunning hazel eyes framed with equally dark lashes, looked them over in a friendly manner. Then he smiled; his teeth were the most perfect and blinding white Face had ever seen. Then he realized with dawning recognition he had seen that smile before…

 

"Colonel Smith?" The gorgeous man stepped forward, hand out, ready to shake. "I'm…"

 

"You're Winston Hunter!" Face cut in, non plussed. "I've seen all your movies!" He was waving his arms excitedly. "I can't believe it! My favorite movie of yours was…"

 

"Face…" Hannibal cut in with a look in the younger man's direction. The colonel's expression clearly indicated for Face to shut up. Now.

 

"I…uh…" Face gulped.

 

"That's okay." Winston laughed, taking Face's, then BA's hands in welcome after Hannibal's. "I've been seeing more of you guys on television than anybody else, lately. That's how I know who you are. Come on in, and make yourselves at home."

 

They followed Winston into an colossal foyer, with white stucco walls and an antique brass chandelier. An enormous Spanish galleon chest, with a Conquistador's helmet atop it, added to the rich warrior feel of the room.

 

"I thought we'd talk in my den, it's more private." Winston said. "I've let the help have the day off, along with the gardeners. I figured you'd rather prefer that. And frankly, so do I."

 

They were ushered into a cool quiet den, with thick red leather chairs and sofas. "Would you like something to drink?" Winston asked them. "Full bar, plus fruit juices, herbal tea, and glacier water."

 

"Glacier water?" BA spoke up for the first time. "How'd you get that?"

 

Winston laughed, an easy sound. Face remembered hearing that laugh on the big screen, in one of Winston's westerns. He noticed that Winston's face dimpled, just like in his movies, too.

 

"It's shipped from a small bottling plant I have part ownership in, from upper Alaska." Winston told them, putting four bottles of the chilled water on the mahogany coffee table for them and himself. "I invested in it, after tasting it for the first time. It beats LA tap water, that's a sure bet! Cheers." He raised his bottle in a toast to them.

 

"So, Mr. Hunter…" Hannibal began.

 

"Please, call me Winston."

 

"Winston," Hannibal responded, "My contact said you're having a security problem?"

 

Winston sighed, his handsome face turning into a frown, as he put his bottle of water down.

 

"Yes, I do. You see…" Winston looked up at the three of them. "I'm being blackmailed and receiving death threats. Either I pay up, or he'll kill me. And he'll publish some rather…uh…compromising photos of me and several other well known people, after my demise."

 

Winston's cheeks had gone blush red under his tan.

 

Hannibal studied the actor's expression. "I'm getting the impression you know who this individual is, don't you?"

 

Winston nodded. "He's a tabloid reporter. He does freelance stories for the trash rags." He stood up, pushing his hand through his black hair in frustration, as he began to pace.

 

"I was vacationing on a 'friend's' yacht two months ago, sailing on the French Riviera. Suffice it to say, the other people there are as well known, if not more so, than I am. We had a private party…well, we thought it was private, and somehow this vulture got some photos of us, up on deck."

 

"I take it this party was more than people sipping champagne?" Hannibal prodded.

 

"We'd already had plenty of that…" Winston started. "Oh, hell…he got pictures of us having an…orgy. I can't be more blunt than that!"

 

The team was quiet; then Face spoke up.

 

"You say he's going to kill you, if you don't pay, then publish the photos after? Why not publish them now, even after you pay him? He'd make a mint while you're still alive." Face pointed out.

 

"I think he wants my money, then he'll kill me anyway. This guy and I have some bad blood between us. You see, one of my private home security guards broke his nose and his knee a while back, after catching him on the grounds. He was hiding in the ivy, trying to photograph myself and a…male companion… sunbathing together in the nude."

 

"So, he wants revenge on you, plus double dipping on the money end, so to speak?" Hannibal said.

 

"Yes, I have to pay to protect my friends, and my career. But I'm sure he intends to kill me if I pay or not. He already killed Charley."

 

"Charley?" the name echoed, as the team spoke at once.

 

"My chocolate Labrador retriever." Winston pointed to a painting on the wall, of himself and a beautiful Lab, lying at his feet.

 

"He killed your dog?" BA was outraged.

 

"I'm positive it was him. Charley's throat was cut…" Winston took a shaky breath. "I found him with this note, next to his dog house." Winston handed Hannibal the paper, his eyes damp. "Charley wasn't a guard dog, he was my pet. I'd had him since he was a pup, when I found him lost on the beach."

 

Hannibal read over the note, and then handed it to Face and BA. His expression was grim.

 

"I found Charley the day before I won my first film role. I was broke; we shared my last half pound of hamburger meat after I took him home to my old studio apartment. He was my lucky charm." Winston smiled sadly, wistfully. "He was the only one who didn't want anything more from me, than go play fetch with his old rubber ball… He was my best buddy for 12 years." Winston cleared his throat, giving them a look that said it all.

 

"So, who is this slime ball?" Hannibal wanted to know.

 

"He writes under the pseudonym of Smiley Kravitz." Winston gave a snort of indignation. "Although he doesn't write anything, about anyone, to make his present target for a story smile. He's a parasite, who's blackmailed nearly half of Hollywood. If you don't play ball, he can trash your career with the public in less than a month."

 

"Even if he's lying?" Face asked innocently.

 

"Well," Winston grimaced, "He usually mixes some truth into it, so it's difficult to sue the son of a bitch, without the whole mess coming out. And, just like any industry, the picture business has it's share of secrets. It's just that the public is usually more interested in celebrities, than say architects or shoe salesmen."

 

"Or military types on the run." Hannibal offered with a grin.

 

Winston relaxed. "You understand my dilemma better than most, Colonel Smith. But, just so you know, most people, including myself, think you got a raw deal. I just wanted you to know that."

 

"The note here says this Smiley bum wants $100,000 from you by midnight." BA noted. "But not where to deliver it."

 

"I'm sure he'll call, before then, to give me the drop off location. I'll need you to follow me, and hopefully stop him from doing what I know he wants more than money."

 

"To kill you." Face stated, slamming his fist into his palm.

 

"Yes. Now you know why privacy is so important to me. I feel I can trust you and your team, Colonel Smith, to get this son of a bitch off my back, and keep me safe. And my secret as well."

 

****************

 

Finally, at 11p.m. the phone rang.

 

Hannibal had already had Winston plug an extension phone in, so he could listen in on the conversation. On his signal, both he and Winston picked up the receivers at the same time.

 

"Hello?" Winston answered, hoping his voice sounded normal enough. At least considering the situation.  He was very glad he wasn't alone right now.

 

"Bring the money down to Pier 17, at Long Beach harbor. Put it in the middle trash dumpster. You do know to come by yourself, don't you? If I see anybody near there but you, you'll be on the front page in full color and all your naked glory. Along with all your famous boyfriends. Got that?" The nasally voice gloated on the other end.

 

"Yes, I hear you." Winston replied, looking to Hannibal. "I'll be driving my black Mercedes Benz."

 

"Be here at midnight on the dot. I'm looking forward to it…" The line went dead.

 

"Midnight, middle trash dumpster, Pier 17, at Long Beach harbor." Hannibal told Face and BA. 

 

"Oh, great." Face mused sarcastically. "I've always had a fondness for dumpsters at midnight."

 

********************

 

Winston loaded up the cash into a carry bag, after changing into a pair of jeans, red and white striped sweater and windbreaker, with solid running shoes.

 

It had been Hannibal's idea for him to wear the bright sweater and running shoes. "That way, we can pick you out easier in the dark, and you can move faster."

 

"Okay…" Winston took a breath. "This sure is easier, when I have a stunt man to do the tough stuff." He grinned at them slightly, waggling his brows.

 

"Don't you worry, man. We'll be there, and take care of this scum for you!" BA gave Winston a couple of hearty pats on his back.

 

 

The team had left the villa first, going ahead of Winston, to park the van two piers away. They unloaded the M16's, plus Face had his Colt.

 

"I have a feeling that Smiley intends to take his money, and leave Winston in the dumpster." Hannibal told them, putting out his cigar, and pulling on his new black leather gloves from Macy's.

 

"Yeah, and then make good on his orgy story, plus Winston's murder!" Face intoned darkly. "That note left by Charley's body was ugly, Hannibal. He's going to cut Winston's throat!"

 

"No, he's not." Hannibal assured his LT in a gruff, sure tone. "That's why we're here."

 

"Yeah, and this Smiley's not gonna be pulling this blackmailing business on nobody else, no more!" BA said with an angry growl.

 

******************

 

Long Beach harbor was dark, deserted and spooky. The lapping of sea water against the wooden pilings and the breeze blowing through ship riggings were the only sounds.

 

The team had silently and stealthily made their way to Pier 17, taking up various positions to cover the dumpster site on all sides. Face climbed up on top of some cargo containers, to have the best line of sight for a sniper shot, if it was necessary.

 

Winston pulled up slowly in his Benz, cutting the headlights and the engine. He stepped out, with the carry bag full of cash.

 

He stepped towards the dumpsters, feeling his skin crawl under his red windbreaker. He couldn't see Smiley, or the A-team. Of course the team would be hiding, already in position to help him. He sure as hell hoped so…

 

But where was that blackmailing bastard Smiley?

 

Winston went to the middle dumpster, but the lid was closed. It was too awkward for him to lift all the way with one hand, so he set the cash bag down, and pushed it open with both arms. When he had it halfway open, he suddenly saw a dim flash of sharp steel, coming straight at his face…

 

*******************

 

From his vantage point on top of the cargo container, Face saw something faintly glinting from inside of the dumpster.  He was in position, his M16 at the ready.

 

Winston had his arms up, totally vulnerable. Face saw the shine of the blade as it swiped towards the defenseless man. Calculating the odds of height and arm's length, Face instantly popped off a shot to the attacker's head area.

 

The sound was like sudden thunder in the quiet night.  Seagulls squawked in fright as they flew away from the noise. Face watched in horror as Winston fell backwards, hitting the cement hard, as the dumpster lid dropped, slamming shut with a loud booming clang.

 

He knew he hadn't shot Winston, but had the blade connected before he could fire? The man might be bleeding to death this instant, but he couldn't see in the dark…

 

Hannibal and BA had watched the scene unfold from their own different hiding places, and now ran full speed towards their fallen client. Winston lay on the cold damp cement, clutching frantically at his lower left jaw line.

 

Even in the near dark, Hannibal could see the blood shining, dark on the actor's neck and sweater.

 

"Flashlight, BA!" he ordered, even as the bright beam illuminated the area, showing them the full extent of Winston's injuries.

 

A deep slice, several inches long, was cut into the handsome jaw, bleeding profusely. "BA, run for the med kit in the van, on the double!" Hannibal said, gently pulling Winston's hand aside to see if the slice extended to his neck, or the carotid artery. If the artery had been cut, he was sure the blood would have been spurting out in time with the man's heart beat, but even a nick could mean life threatening trouble.

 

As BA ran past him to the van, Face landed on his knees beside Hannibal, his breath and pulse going triple time.

 

"Hannibal?" he asked, staring down at Winston.

 

"His neck is fine," Hannibal told him. "But he's going to have a bad scar."

 

"Shit! My agent's going to love this…" Winston said. "Oh, well, better a scar than a funeral…" He laughed weakly, giving them his famous gleaming grin

.

 Hannibal patted his shoulder reassuringly, and then gestured to Face and the dumpster. "Check out Smiley."

 

Face grabbed the flashlight, and pulled his Colt. Peeking carefully into the dumpster, the flashlight showed that his bullet had indeed hit home. Smiley's brains were all over the inside walls of the metal dumpster, the knife still clutched in his very dead hand.

 

"Well?" Hannibal asked.

 

"Smiley isn't smiling anymore." Face assured him. "And he's right where he belongs, with the rest of the trash." His tone was harsh, but Hannibal noted the slight shake in his voice.

 

"Wipe your prints and Winston's off the dumpster lid." Hannibal ordered, as BA returned with the med kit. He applied antiseptic and a temporary bandage to Winston's jaw line.

 

"BA, carry him back to the van. Face, you drive Winston's car to his house, we'll all meet up back there. Smiley can stay here." Hannibal said with displeasure, as he picked up the carry bag with the cash to return it.

 

He'd never enjoyed killing, and he knew his men didn't either. But in this case, it had been necessary. And neither his Team, nor Winston, could afford to be connected to Smiley's death.

 

*******************

 

A week later, the three of them were sitting with Winston at Musso and Frank's Grill, in Hollywood. They had a back table, dimly lit, and a very discreet staff that didn't fuss over movie stars…or wanted criminals. At least not these three particular wanted men.

 

"Relax," Winston had assured them. "You're among friends, here. And, of course, dinner is on me!"

 

The cut on his jaw had been treated by one of the best cosmetic surgeons in Beverly Hills, and he'd been assured that the scar would barely be noticeable, even in close ups.

 

"My agent actually told me, that it gives me a touch of character." Winston laughed.

 

"How did you explain how you got cut?" Face asked.

 

"I didn't really say." Winston shrugged. "I sort of let him think I got a little overly rambunctious in a private moment, and slipped. He let it go, after that." Winston grinned at them.

 

 The news stories of Smiley Kravitz's body being discovered had already died down. Apparently he was not very much missed; nobody had even stepped forward to collect his remains at the morgue.

 

"It's sad really," Face observed. "No one even cared enough to give him a decent burial."

 

"He brought it on himself, Face." Hannibal told him. "If he'd been a better person, hadn't hurt and blackmailed and attempted murder, he wouldn't have ended up the way he did."

 

"That's right, little brother." BA assured him. Both he and Hannibal had noticed that Face had been unusually quiet for a few days following Smiley's shooting.

 

But Face was a soldier, and he'd done what was necessary to save an innocent man's life.  He knew and understood that, and seeing Winston again this evening had definitely cheered up their young Lieutenant.

 

"I heard through the grapevine, that the police privately think they have too many suspects, and not enough resources, to conduct a really productive investigation." Winston said, serious now.

 

"Better for us, and for you." BA noted. "But how are we gonna get another job, Hannibal? I really don't wanta have to go back to doin' day labor."

 

"Well, it's not the sort of case we can advertise being involved in." Hannibal lit his cigar. "For obvious reasons."

 

"Don't worry, Colonel Smith. I can put out a good word for you and your Team, very quietly. A lot of people need the sort of help you gave me, even if the details differ."

 

"Hey, free publicity that's positive, for once!" Face intoned.

 

"We'd appreciate that, Winston." Hannibal replied.

 

"So, when is your next movie coming out?" Face asked enthusiastically.

 

"Well, actually, I'm in the role of producer, for my next project. I figure my acting days in front of the camera are numbered, at least as a young and handsome leading man. So I'm going to start working on the other side, behind the camera as well. As a hedge against my future decrepitude." Winston gave them his trademark dimpled grin, with a sexy sly wink.

 

"Oh, you'll never be decrepit, Winston!" Face said, with just a smidge of adoration in his voice and eyes.

 

Hannibal locked eyes with BA, and they both snickered silently.

 

"It happens to all of us, eventually, Face." Winston responded, realistically. "It's just more obvious when it happens on a thirty foot tall movie screen!"

 

"So, what kind of movie are you making?" Hannibal asked, hiding his grin.

 

"It's a modestly budgeted little horror flick." Winston replied. "It's working title is 'The Cajun County Fiend'. Basically, it's a monster movie. But we keep having problems casting an actor who's willing to wear a rubber suit in the heat and humidity of the Louisiana swamps. Or at least one who won't pass out in the middle of a scene." He shrugged. "We're filming on location in the bayou."

 

*******************

 

"Well, that was one fine meal!" BA said, after they'd all piled back in their VW Bus, now heading back to the motel they were currently calling 'home'.

 

"It's been a while since we've had prime rib." Hannibal quietly burped.

 

"It was good to see Winston, too." Face nodded. "I'm glad his doctor could fix the cut on his jaw. He'll still be as handsome as ever."

 

Hannibal glanced sideways over at BA. "I do believe our Lieutenant may have a 'man crush' on our client, BA." He laughed, looking back at Face with a bright wicked twinkle in his blue eyes.

 

"Big time, Hannibal!" BA slapped his knee heartily, joining in their Colonel's loud laughter.

 

"I do not have a 'man crush' on Winston!" Face defended himself hotly. "I just admire his films, that's all!" He folded his arms over his chest, embarrassment raising the color high in his cheeks. He refused to speak to either one of them again for the rest of the ride.

 

*******************

 

Very early the next morning, Hannibal was up and fixing some java from the little in room coffeemaker. BA was out tinkering with the VW Bus, making sure the oil, water and brake fluid levels were up to his exacting standards.

 

Face was taking his time in the shower. Hannibal had decided that they needed to move again today for safety's sake; so he'd prodded his grumpy Lieutenant out of a deep sleep, to clean up and get ready.

 

Sipping the weak instant coffee, he spied the bag they'd put their old clothes in, for donating back to the Salvation Army. They hadn't gotten around to it yet, and he realized they hadn't checked the clothing for personal items. They'd been in such a hurry after that damn waiter had tried to force himself on Face…plus they'd needed to get to Winston's house for the meeting…

 

Hannibal pulled out their old clothes and went through the pockets. Nothing in his, nothing in BA's. The last item was the pair of jeans Face had complained so bitterly about being too small for him. In a side front pocket he found six dollars.

 

Hannibal looked at the five dollar and one dollar bill. He recognized the tear in the corner of the fiver, and the faded washed out look of the single.

 

 They were the same bills he'd placed on the nightstand for Face to buy lunch with, when all they'd had to share was the change from their grilled cheese sandwiches, that first night in Skid Row. The change left over from the kind donation of Mr. Risto, the vet who'd driven them to L.A., when they were hitchhiking in from Mesa, Arizona.

 

Hannibal frowned, something niggling at his brain. Face had been hustling in the pool hall…he'd said BA had made him leave all his money behind…

 

So how the hell was this same six dollars still in his pocket, forgotten?

 

*******************

 

BA came back in, his hands covered in grease. "Is Face outta the bathroom yet? It's my turn to clean up!" Before Hannibal could answer, BA went over and pounded on the door.

 

"You better be done in there, cause I'm coming in anyways! And you better not've used up all the hot water, neither!" he hollered through the thin wood.

 

"Jeezus, BA, why don't you just wake up everybody in the whole joint?" Face retorted, coming out of the small steamy bathroom. "It's not like we're on the run or anything, after all!" He pushed past the big man, combing his hair back in damp dark gold waves.

 

BA snorted, and slammed the bathroom door after him.

 

"I can tell that we're going to need a bit of breakfast, before we take off." Hannibal observed his men's irritable mood. "You two need to put something in your stomachs, before you bite each other's head's off, instead."

 

"I'm not the one breaking down doors at 6:30 in the morning!" Face replied huffily. He absolutely hated waking up at the crack of dawn.

 

"Well, why don't you get dressed, and put on that new leather jacket of yours? It's still a bit chilly outside. You can walk over to the coffee shop across the street and buy some take out breakfast for us, while BA finishes up. Then, we'll find some new digs." Hannibal told him.

 

Privately, he also wanted a few minutes alone with BA, to ask him about some things.

 

"Okay, sure thing, Colonel." Face had perked up visibly when reminded of his new jacket. It was the nicest piece of clothing he'd ever owned in his life.

 

*******************

 

BA came out of the bathroom a few minutes later, pulling a black tee shirt over his head. He sat on the bed, and bent down to tie his new Nike sport shoes, glad to have some decent footwear at last. "I'm sure ready for some breakfast, Colonel. I wish Face would hurry up and get back with our food!"

 

When Hannibal didn't respond, BA glanced up, to see his Colonel staring blankly at the television, supposedly watching the early morning news report.

 

"Anything fresh on the news about us?" BA asked, wishing he could call his Mama and let her know he was alright. But he knew it was impossible, no doubt her phone was tapped, with a tracer on it. He'd have to wait…

 

After a pause, Hannibal replied, "I didn't notice."  He shook his head slowly.

 

BA immediately picked up on his Colonel's curiously quiet attitude. "Hey, what's up, Hannibal?"

 

"I was thinking about Face." Hannibal admitted.

 

BA cleared his throat. "I've been doin' that myself, lately."

 

"He told me about you catching him hustling. He said you made him leave all the money behind."

 

BA sighed. "That's true." He didn't realize Hannibal was only referring to the pool game, he thought Face had told Hannibal the whole truth. "I gotta admit I'm surprised you're taking it so well. I was real upset with him."

 

"He said you spanked him." Hannibal let out a short chuckle at the image of that in his mind's eye.

 

"Yeah, I gave him a walloping he'll remember. But he deserved it, pullin' a stunt like that. Selling his self to a stranger, anything could'a happened to him." BA shook his head, unaware he'd just dropped a bomb on Hannibal.

 

"Selling himself?" Hannibal repeated, jerking his head up to stare at BA.

 

 "What the hell do you mean…?" he began in a loud voice that quickly escalated to a full blown bellow, "Face only told me that he was hustling pool! Not hustling his body! " Hannibal stood up, his shaking fists clenched tightly. He was angrier than BA could ever remember seeing him.

 

With alarm BA realized that Face hadn't told their Colonel the whole story after all. And that he'd inadvertently…and innocently…broken his promise to the younger man, not to tell Hannibal that Face had prostituted himself.

 

'Oh, Lord,' he thought. 'No telling what the Colonel's gonna do now. And Face is gonna think I broke my word to him.'

 

Hannibal was glaring down at BA, who was still seated where he'd tied his shoes. "He lied to me! He lied right to my face, BA!" Hannibal yelled, his countenance ruddy with rage.

 

The Colonel didn't often lose his temper, but when he did, it was explosive.

 

"He told you part of it. Just not all of it. I thought he had, Hannibal." BA paused, making a decision. "I actually sort of promised him, I wouldn't ever tell you about his prostituting. It was real important to him, that you never knew he'd gone and done that."

 

"So he lied to me by omission! That sneaky little brat… If he thinks he's going to get away with this, with me!" Hannibal was storming around the room, looking like he wanted to hit something.

 

BA hoped it wasn't going to be Face. After all, he'd already done that himself.

 

"This explains why he didn't use the six dollars I left him for lunch that day, to get into the game." Hannibal realized aloud. "He sold himself to get the money!"

 

"Yeah, he did." BA nodded. "But I spanked him good for that, Hannibal. Told him I'm gonna keep an eye on him, from now on, and won't let him do that anymore." BA sighed. "He did it for us, Hannibal. He was worried we'd be back out on the street, with no food to eat."

 

Hannibal stopped, and looked at BA. "He could have been recognized and turned in. He could have been raped…or murdered! And we would never have known what had happened to him!"

 

"I know." BA replied in a hushed tone. "Look Hannibal, in my old neighborhood where I grew up, a lot of kids…boys and girls…did the same thing out of desperation. But that was mostly for drugs and they had pimps. Face has us."

 

Hannibal looked into BA's suddenly soft brown eyes, and then sank down to sit beside him on the creaky motel mattress. He felt an unexpected stinging sensation in his own blue ones.

 

"I just hate to think he thought he had to do that…" he said in a hoarse voice. "I should have done better. Been a better example to him…"

 

"You did the best you could…we all have, Hannibal." BA assured him. "And now with Winston helping us, we'll be able to get work and get by."

 

"Yes, you're right, BA. But I still have to clear the air with Face." Hannibal rubbed his hand over his eyes. "It's not going to be easy…for me, or him."

 

*******************

 

The young man in question was whistling a popular tune, as he crossed the street back to the motel. He was in a better mood now, after sucking down a frosty glass of orange juice, while waiting for their take out breakfast.

 

He'd struck up a pleasant conversation with the cute young waitress on duty. She'd had dark red curly hair, with a dusting of freckles, and a nice curvy figure in her tight little uniform. He only wished he could have asked her out on a date…

 

Bags in hand, with the scent of toast, eggs and sausage wafting up to mix with car exhaust on the already busy L.A. street, Face was blissfully unaware of what the next moments held for him.

 

He opened the door to their motel room. "Get it while it's hot!" he told the other two men with a big smile. His golden hair was dry now, glowing brightly in the morning sunlight pouring in through the doorway.

 

'He's so beautiful,' Hannibal noticed, not for the first time. 'And looks so innocent…'

 

Face set the bags down, and passed BA a fried egg sandwich. As he held out Hannibal's container of sausage, the Colonel held up his hand.

 

"Not just now, Face. Put the food down on the table." He crossed his hands over his chest. "You and I are going to have a talk."

 

Face had heard that tone a few times before from Hannibal, and it always bode ill for him…or who ever it was directed to at the time. He glanced questioningly at BA, but the big man had his head down, not eating his breakfast sandwich…or meeting Face's eyes.

 

'Uh Oh!' Face thought, getting a very uncomfortable feeling. 'Now what have I done?'

 

"Sit down, Face." Hannibal pointed to one of the chairs at the small round table. He took the one opposite Face; BA remained sitting on the bed.

 

"What's up?" Face asked, shrugging in confusion.

 

Hannibal took a deep breath. "Is it true that you've been working as a prostitute?"

 

Face was utterly blindsided. Automatically he began to shake his head. "No, Hannibal…I wouldn't do that…"

 

"BA told me, Face. That's why he smacked your ass, and that's why he made you leave the money behind!"

 

Face grew more agitated with every word out of Hannibal's mouth. He jumped up from his chair, pointing a shaky finger at BA. "You broke your promise!" he shouted at the black man. "I'll never trust you again!"

 

"No, little brother…" BA began, raising his hands in a gesture of truce.

 

Hannibal cut in on Face's tirade and BA's attempted explanation. "No, Face, BA thought you'd already told me yourself, back before we left the Nortel Motel that night."

 

Hannibal stood up, and went over to Face. He gripped Face firmly on both of his shoulders. "Is it true?"

 

Face looked down at his sneakers, and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He could feel the soft supple leather, and wondered in the back of his mind if Hannibal would take his new jacket away from him. Then throw him out.

 

He felt Hannibal's hands tighten their grip on his shoulders. He looked up into the piercing steel of his Colonel's cobalt blue eyes.

 

"Yes…it's true." Face said softly. He managed to keep eye contact, really only wanting to make a run for it. He was in for it now.

 

He was ready for Hannibal to hit him, or shake him, or even shove him into the wall. In his peripheral vision he saw BA stand up, almost as though he was having the same thought, and was ready to interfere and prevent it.

 

Instead, Hannibal did the one thing Face never expected. He put his arms around the smaller young man, and hugged him. Tightly, to his chest, while Face stood there, stunned, his hands still in his pockets.

 

"Why Face?" Hannibal asked, releasing him, shaking his head sadly.

 

It was Face's turn to take a deep breath. "I didn't want to risk the six dollars. I'm usually pretty good at pool, but even I lose sometimes. And not always on purpose, to sucker in the other players." Face glanced over at BA, then back at Hannibal. "We would have needed the lunch money you left for me, if that had happened."

 

"You didn't want to risk six dollars, so you risked yourself instead?" Hannibal felt sick. "Do you know what could have happened to you? And BA and I wouldn't have known what had, or how to find you!"

 

"I realize that now," Face replied. "I won't do that again, anymore. BA said he's going to keep an eye on me, and I really don't want another one of his 'reprimands' on my backside." He managed a small wry smile.

 

"Well, you'd better know, you have another eye on you now. Mine!" Hannibal assured him. "And I won't just spank you, Face." Hannibal guaranteed him with a look that said more than his words ever could have.

 

"Understood, sir." Face gave him a proper, respectful salute.

 

With that, Hannibal put his arms around Face's shoulder, in a big bear hug. After a beat, BA stepped in, making it a group hug, as Face gripped them back.

 

"We're a team, Face. Don't ever forget it again." Hannibal said, finally letting the 'kid' loose.

 

"Never, Hannibal…BA." Face told them, his eyes moist.

 

"Well, now that we've settled that, let's put it behind us. How about some breakfast?" Hannibal turned his attention back to his sausage and toast.

 

As they sat eating their morning meal, Hannibal suddenly spoke up. "I know what we need to do next."

 

"What?" both BA and Face spoke at once."

 

"We have to get back into top physical shape." Hannibal told them, lighting his cigar. "We need to scout out a private location in the woods, somewhere discreet, off the beaten track, where no hunting is allowed."

 

"For what?" BA asked, pushing the last big bite of his fried egg sandwich into his mouth.

 

"For our new obstacle course.  The one that Face is going to build mostly by himself." Hannibal chortled with a wide grin at the goggle eyes Face made at him. "The one we're going to train on, to keep in tip top shape, between missions."

 

"Oh…no…" Both Face and BA groaned in dismay.

 

"Hannibal, why do I have to build it mostly by myself?" Face wondered, misery setting in at the thought of the task ahead of him.

 

"Now, Face, I told you back at the Nortel Motel, that I wasn't going to forget about punishing you, for leaving the room against my orders." Hannibal leaned forward, with a nasty smirk. "And, like I said, I don't give spankings, Lieutenant…"

 

BA snickered loudly into his milk carton.

 

Face just sighed. He almost wished Hannibal had spanked him, instead…

 

 

                                                        The End

 


Another Eye On You by A. Jewels

 

 


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