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This page last viewed: 2017-08-15 and has been viewed 3871 times
Warning: No warnings (no violence, no sexually explicit scenes, but a reference made to non-con sex (m/m)).
A question has been bothering Face for some time and he decides to ask it. What does he want to know and can Hannibal (or Murdock or BA) give him an answer?
It had been only an hour since Face had taken his turn behind the wheel, but it had been long enough for his mind to mull over a question that had been nagging at him for quite some time. He looked over at his colonel but couldn't tell if he was awake or asleep; sighing, he turned his attention back to the road.
As it happened, his turn in the driving rotation fell between midnight and four AM. BA had already done a long shift, followed by Murdock, but they had only managed to make it three quarters of the way across the California desert. By the time it was his turn, his driving consisted of total blackness all around except for the straight beams of light shining from his headlights. It gave him time to think, and solitary thought was usually something he could without.
Again, he glanced to his right. And again, he couldn't determine the state of his colonel.
After giving it some more thought, he finally decided, 'What the hell,' and whispered, "Hannibal?"
There was no answer.
Face shook his head as if to shake the thoughts from his brain. 'Let it go, Peck,' he scolded himself. But the other side of his brain wasn't exactly agreeing. Slightly louder, he said, "Hannibal?"
There was movement.
"Hannibal? Are you awake?"
After an almost inaudible moan, he heard his colonel's sleepy voice say, "Now I am."
"What's wrong?" Hannibal mumbled while stifling a yarn.
"Nothing. Just wasn't sure if you were awake or not."
Hannibal rubbed his hands over his face to wake himself up. After shifting into a more comfortable position and peering around the van, he asked, "Everything okay with the van?"
Between running from Lynch and chasing the bad guys, the van had been put through the ringer on this last mission. BA had spent the better part of a day repairing rods and axles and anything else he could fix with his well-stocked tool kit. "Yeah, the van's fine, driving real smooth."
"Good." Then he waited for Face to offer an explanation for why he was woken up, but Face didn't say anything more. So he asked, "What's on your mind kid?"
Acting surprised, Face grunted, "Huh?"
It was Hannibal's turn to grin, "You woke me up in the middle of the night to see if I was asleep?"
Face tried to shake his head like his actions were perfectly normal but his colonel wasn't buying it. After a minute of feeling the steel blue eyes staring at him while he was driving, he gave in and said, "I've been thinking...."
Hannibal waited for him to finish his sentence, but no more words were forming. So he said, "Thinking about what?"
Face let another long minute pass and then he softly asked, "Why'd you put me on the team?"
Hannibal was taken aback by such a question and his first thought was that it was a ridiculous one. He was going to respond with some glib statement, but just then his friend looked over at him, and they locked eyes. Through the dim light in the van, he saw the serious look on his lieutenant's face and his darkened eyes. He decided to forgo the flippant answer.
Face continued, "I know why you put BA on the team, and I know why Murdock was chosen, and, of course, Amy; but I don't really know why you chose me?"
Hannibal was now surprised at the sincerity of the question; a question that he suspected his lieutenant had mulled over for a good long time. He looked at his friend further and watched the soft light reflect off his blond hair, bringing back memories of the first time he saw the kid from LA. He decided to answer his question with a question, "You'd rather NOT be on the team?"
Face looked sharply around, not realizing that his question might be misunderstood. He shook his head fervently and said, "No that's not it. I'm glad I'm here. But I've been thinking back and wondering why you did it. I mean, I wasn't exactly the ideal army soldier when we met."
Hannibal remembered back on the first time they'd met. And Face was right about not being a model soldier, but that's what was attractive about him. Face could lie with a straight face but for some reason, Hannibal knew when he was lying. He could get soldiers, officers and nurses to do things that they wouldn't otherwise do. He had a way with Murdock unlike anyone else, making him feel sane in his crazy world. And BA took an immediate liking to protecting him, a quality reserved for only a handful of people.
When Hannibal didn't reply immediately, Face continued, "Remember Jackson? I'd have figured he would have been your first choice. He was mean and smart and nobody could spot Charlie better than him. Besides, his old man was filthy rich and that might have come in handy in Ft. Bragg. Or Wilson, remember him? He was the best damn medic a unit could have. With the kind of work we're in, his expertise would have been extremely beneficial." As an afterthought, he added softly, "At least more valuable than this smile."
"Would you stop selling yourself short," Hannibal said.
"I'm not selling myself short, I just can't figure out why I'm here."
Murdock looked quietly over at BA, wondering if he was awake and listening. The whites of his eyes confirmed that he was. They sat in the back in silence, not really pretending to be asleep but definitely not making it known they were awake. With Face, he could end the conversation as quickly as he began it. Murdock could hear the soft breathing of Amy who was stretched out in the very back of the van, sleeping, not hearing the low voices coming from the front.
Hannibal squinted his eyes accomplishing the dual task of staring at his friend while thinking of the right thing to say. He knew that Face had no idea how many people wanted him, mostly in ways they could never have. But still, he was in high demand and Hannibal knew almost immediately that he added a dimension to his team that didn't exist before. Finally, he muttered, "If I recall correctly, your record stood on its' own."
Face smirked. "My record was falsified; nothing but a lie." And he glared at Hannibal because they both knew that he had doctored his record.
"Falsified or not, you lived up to every bit of the information that was in it."
"That still doesn't tell me why I'm here."
Hannibal smiled and turned to look into the darkness, his way of stalling for time. There were many reasons why Murdock, BA and Face were on the team. To try and supply a single reason for any of them being there was not possible. They were there because it fit; they worked well together. They worked better than well, they were outstanding as a unit. Suddenly remembering what Murdock had said a long time ago, he muttered quietly the word, "Link."
"What'd you say?"
Realizing he'd spoken out loud, Hannibal inhaled and repeated the word a little louder, "Link."
Face furrowed his brow. "Link? What do you mean by that?"
Not exactly sure himself, he let his mind race ahead developing an explanation. Eventually, he said, "Do you remember the first time the four of us sat down and had drinks together?"
Face let his mind drift back to 1970; he had just been transferred to Qui Phong near the North Vietnamese border. He had his usual scams running and that meant he was in his usual predicament of trying to keep his butt from being court marshaled by the camp CO, and, well, trying to keep his butt from being court marshaled by the camp CO, a full time task. It was refreshing to have drinks with men who didn't have some hidden agenda going on which usually ended in his hasty retreat. The night lasted well into the morning and he enjoyed listening to Murdock's stories and watching BA bicker and grumble with the crazy pilot. He especially enjoyed watching the colonel extract information from soldiers and officers alike so that, as he claimed, he was better prepared for Charlie; but, more than likely, he did it just in case he needed to 'persuade' someone to do him a favor. He remembered the feeling he had after that night and couldn't remember ever feeling that comfortable before. At times, he felt like he knew what they were going to say before they said it. With a smile, he nodded in acknowledgement of the question.
"Well, that night was more than just having a few drinks with a new soldier."
Face didn't understand and it showed in his expression.
"You added something that wasn't there when it was just the three of us.
Face took his eyes off the road again and looked over at his colonel. He caught the motion of him reaching into his jacket. Knowing he wouldn't find what he was looking for, he reached inside his pocket and produced an import. Without saying anything, he held it out for Hannibal to see.
When he noticed the lone cigar being held up, Hannibal grinned and said, "Thanks."
Face winked but it was lost in the dim light of the van. When it looked as though Hannibal was more interested in prepping his cigar than continuing his story, he said, "That still doesn't explain why you put me on your team, it just says we had a good time drinking beer and telling stories."
Hannibal snickered at the memories and agreed. "Yeah. But that night was different in many ways. From that point on, every time we got together I marveled at the ease with which you interacted with Murdock and BA, something usual for seasoned recruits let alone a young city kid. It was as if we'd never NOT known you, but we had only known you a few days. I watched you and you interacted with everybody the same way. There wasn't a person you wouldn't talk to, a soldier you wouldn't try to procure something for, or an officer you wouldn't try to scam."
"Wait a minute," Face interrupted, not wanting himself to be misrepresented. "I only scammed what people wanted, and I never scammed stuff I didn't have a market for."
"True. I have to hand it to you that every one of your scams were 'legitimate'."
Face nodded in agreement but once again realized he didn't get an answer to his question. "So why me? I mean, there were lots of guys who could get stuff; YOU being one of them!"
"Sure, lots of soldiers could procure the procurable; but how many could procure the impossible?"
Face rolled his eyes at the memory. If the truth be known, it was actually a memory he'd rather forget. That particular item happened to be a necessity for a high ranking officer who was threatening to throw him into the brig and throw away the key. The reason for the threat alluded him now but he remembered that it was valid and the likelihood of going to prison was far more a reality than not. Knowing that this officer was a car buff, he thought of the only thing that MIGHT keep his butt out of the stockade. Thankfully, it worked. Shrugging and almost inaudibly, he said, "Basic survival skills...."
Hannibal smiled, not knowing the story but figured it was probably a good one.
Face shot him a sideways glance and exhaled, still wanting an answer to his question.
Hannibal continued, "Like I said, you added something. It was the same something that BA added when he joined up with me, and later what Murdock added when he joined us. Call it chemistry, call it destiny, call it kismet, call it what you want, but I knew immediately that you had what it took to work with us. Murdock later referred to you as our missing link, although we didn't know we were missing anything until we spent that evening with you."
Face wasn't buying it, and why should he? People reacted to him the same way as they'd always had. He attracted people, and people from all walks of life liked being around him. The fact that these three men enjoyed his company was no different than any other three men he'd sat down and had drinks with. He pursed his lips and stared out the window, wondering if he was ever going to get an answer.
Hannibal saw the look and decided to continue, "A couple days after we all had drinks, my unit went on a mission. We got dumped in the middle of Charlie and were overrun, taking on heavy casualties. A few of my best men didn't make it back. Until more recruits arrived, I was stuck with having to run missions with limited manpower. I learned that the camp CO was about ready to court marshal one unsuspecting supply clerk for his unorthodox ways of procuring items."
Face was startled, he'd never known that he was about to be sent to the stockade.
Murdock and BA both glanced at each other. Obviously there were some things that they didn't even know about.
Hannibal looked at his friend and nodded, "Yes, Face, back then you weren't as clever as you are now and I'd go so far as to say you were sloppy in some of your scams. The camp CO had quite a file on you and he was just waiting for one more thing to happen and then he was going to nail you. But you were extremely talented and original in your ways so it wasn't easy for him to gather the information. But it was just going to be a matter of time before he did it. That's when I decided that what you needed was refining and guidance to curb your larcenous ways and I knew just the people to do it.... US! I pulled a few strings and got you temporarily assigned to my unit. The first mission we went out on, you proved very valuable, noticing land mines and booby traps all along the trail. You handled your weapon better than most soldiers did and you had a 'nose' for point. Even when things heated up, you kept your head."
Face had remembered that. It was the first time he had seen action because he wasn't a combat officer, he was a supply officer. He deliberately planned it that way and, if he never saw any action his entire tour, that would have been just fine with him. He remembered just how much he regretted falsifying his records when he found out he had been recruited to accompany Colonel Smith's unit on a mission. He didn't sleep a wink the previous night and was so nervous his stomach rejected any and all nourishment. He quickly dismissed those thoughts; thinking about his first days as a grunt wasn't how he liked to spend his time; he'd much rather remember his days running scams and wooing the nurses. But the expression on his face was still saying he wasn't hearing any reasons that would make him part of the team.
Hannibal sighed and continued, "Unfortunately, when I tried to get you permanently assigned to my unit, I learned that the paperwork had already been initiated to move you under the ruthless eye of one Colonel Roderick Decker."
BA and Murdock looked shocked, they didn't know that they were about to lose their newfound teammate to Decker! He was bad news and a young kid like Face would have been in a bad situation, learning skills like blowing up hospitals and orphanages.
The way Hannibal sneered his name and the choice of words he used meant that this colonel was not someone he wanted around. "What was wrong with him?"
"Just that a guy like you would have had a tough time in his unit. He recruited young and good looking for purposes other than combat."
Nothing more needed to be said, it was a problem that followed Face everywhere he went.
"So you put me on your team out of pity?" Face asked, not really believing that to be the reason.
Hannibal smirked, "Of course not. I put you on my team because that's where you belonged. It was easy to change the papers and get Decker out of the way, what wasn't easy was keeping you. I didn't have this problem with BA or Murdock, but YOU were a different story. Every time I turned around, someone was filing papers to get you transferred OUT of my unit and into theirs. You developed quite a reputation as not only a phenomenal supply clerk, but also as an exceptional soldier, so you became a hot commodity. Since we worked so well together, I knew I didn't want us to be split up. That's when I decided to move us into Special Forces; it was much harder to snatch someone from there."
Hannibal paused in retrospect, remembering the months he'd spent commanding the Special Forces troops, refining his military skills and mastering his strategic planning. At the time, it was a damn smart move, allowing his team to develop and refine skills that were matched by no one. "Unfortunately, I had no idea Morrison was going to send us out to rob the Bank of Hanoi....," his voice trailed off in thought.
Face remembered the fallout from the orders and shared his colonel's sadness. But after a moment, he looked puzzled, still not understanding why Hannibal kept him. "So you HAD to keep me since I participated in the robbery?"
Hannibal looked exasperated, in an amused way. Sometimes his young friend's insecurities blasted through his fašade.
Before he could reply, a deep voice from the back of the van growled, "For as smart as you are, you sure can be dumb!"
Face peered over his shoulder and glared at the large black man. In his ever-familiar whine, he responded, "All I want to know is why I'm here? So far, I haven't heard anything that makes my contribution invaluable. For all I know, you guys can decide to get rid of me whenever you want."
'So that's it,' Hannibal thought. 'BA's right; for as smart as you are, you sure can be dumb.' He shook his head and snickered, "We aren't going to get rid of you."
Face wasn't smiling. Although in his heart he knew they would never boot him off the team, he could never come up with a good reason for being kept on it.
Murdock decided to enter the conversation, and in his animated but philosophical voice, he added, "Face, don't you get it? When you were with us, we seemed complete. As individuals, we were all good at what we did, but we were misfits of sorts, not really fitting into the military and definitely not being allowed to live up to our potential. But when we were together, we could accomplish more than any other four guys, or five guys.... or six guys for that matter."
"Yeah, man," BA grumbled. "Ain't that the truth. I sure wasn't the government's idea of a model soldier; and crazy foo' here wasn't either. And Hann'bal wasn't exactly your typical off'cer.
Face was startled at hearing this. He always figured that HE was the one who never fit anywhere. In fact, he used to admire the effortless way in which Murdock told his stories, having all the guys either riveted to their chairs or rolling on the floor in laughter. And he envied BA because of his strength and attitude, nobody bothered him, a concept foreign to Face since he'd spent most of his life looking over his shoulder. And finally, there was Hannibal. No words could accurately portray how he felt towards his colonel but he had the utmost respect for him then, and now. And to learn that THEY thought that THEY didn't fit in the US military was a shock.
"What they're trying to say," Hannibal interjected, "is that separately, we could all do our respective jobs and do them very well. But when we worked together, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, could do anything better than we could. The typical A-Team consisted of ten to fifteen men, but the four of us could outperform, out maneuver and out think any other A-Team in the army. I saw that potential in us early on and THAT'S why we're together and THAT'S why we'll stay together.
Face contemplated the explanation. It certainly held merit; there wasn't another A-Team in the army that had the success rate that they enjoyed. They became known as the A-Team of the A-Teams. He thought about what Murdock said, and BA, and then what Hannibal said. He finally concluded that they were right. There was something about the four of them that simply defied words. They did work well together; so well it was kind of scary because there were times when they didn't even need to speak to know what the other was thinking. It was that kind of kinetic bond that seemed to keep them alive on some of their most dangerous missions. Shaking his head in agreement and relishing in the truth that was spoken, he smiled and acknowledged, "Yeah, I guess we are pretty good together."
Hannibal nodded in agreement and smiled broadly, content with his explanation and confident that he conveyed the abstract reason as accurately as he could. And BA and Murdock nodded their heads, also comfortable about offering an explanation on a topic that basically defied terms. They had definitely managed to put words around their relationship, something they had never done in the past.
After allowing his thoughts to absorb the comment, Hannibal asked, "Are you now convinced that we aren't going to give you the boot?"
Face smirked, feeling a little embarrassed at his insecurities. The question had nagged at him for such a long time that he finally decided to put an end to his wondering and ask his colonel the first opportunity that he got. He admitted to himself that he was a little afraid of what the answer might be but he was bound and determined to learn what it was, no matter the consequences. Thankfully, the answer was what he needed to hear. "Yeah, I guess it's just hard for me to believe sometimes that I didn't end up in prison."
Thinking that if he didn't get any sleep, he'd not be in any condition to improvise if Lynch were to suddenly appear, Hannibal reminded him, "Well, if you don't let us get back to sleep, you might just end up there."
Face grinned as he watched his colonel get comfortable. He felt good. He finally had an answer to a question that he had pondered for years. And he actually did feel like he belonged on the team, not that he had any doubts, but sometimes he allowed his feelings to take over instead of his brain. He glanced at the clock and chuckled, "Ah Colonel, it's your turn to drive."
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