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Payback

PAYBACK
by  RITA RACTLIFFE

 

RATING:   N-17 (?) For later parts with
explicit drug use detailed.   No sexual situations in this one.

Synop:      Dougie Kyle "gets" Hannibal in one of the worst ways... and
forces Face to watch.

NOTE:   For those who have noticed, yes, this takes place AFTER
Nightmare, thus some of the more down character traits.

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

      PAYBACK

by Rita (LA)

The man stood in the shadows, his shoulders hunched forward against the
driving sleet.   It was unusual weather for L.A. and he wasn't
prepared.   But then, coming fresh out of prison, and heading to the
land of milk and honey -- who could've been prepared?   The chill didn't
matter.   He wrapped the thin folds of his coat around him a little bit
more.   His whole attention was focused on a group of men across the
street.   One in particular held his rapt gaze.   An uninformed observer
would have thought the man was watching his heart's desire.   The
quarry, sensing they were being watched, looked around in unison,
feeling the waves of energy being directed toward them, yet seeing
nothing.

/Good... good.   Your reflexes are down... just a matter of time,
Smith./   The man snickered to himself.   He could be patient - the end
result was worth it.   His smile was chillingly malevolent.   He
continued to watch.   As the men prepared to leave, he made his own
preparations to follow.

*   *   *

"So what's it gonna be tonight, Hannibal?"   BA's voice boomed out.

Smith shrugged.   "I dunno.   Whaddya' guys want to do?   There's not
much goin' on right now."   Having finished their latest case of
infiltrating Iraq and liberating certain sensitive documents, Hannibal
Smith and the A-Team were at-odds for a change, with no planned
activities on tap.   Smith shook his head, looked around the deserted
street once again.   "Wish I could lose this feeling we're being
watched."

Face jumped in, "We've been with Stockwell too long, Colonel.   We're
getting as paranoid as him, god help us."   Going over to his leader,
Peck grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the car.   "C'mon, relax,
Hannibal.   There's nobody here... do you see anyone?"

It was hard to resist Peck's cheerful invitation.   "No.   I don't.
Oh, what the hell... how about a movie?   Anything worth watching now?
Or should we hit the video store?   It's a night for curling up by a
fire, f'sure..."   Smith's eyes grew wistful for a brief moment.   The
Team knew exactly what was on his mind.   He was going up to Bad Rock
for a few days to see Maggie Sullivan, and his mind was definitely
distracted.

"Hang on, Hannibal," Face chuckled.   "It's only a couple more days...
anyway, they've got snow up there, Maggie said, so you guys can 'use'
the fireplace all you want."   Peck emphasized his words with a gentle
leer (fur rugs and open fireplaces made for some very therapeutic
R&R).   They were all glad Hannibal had finally found someone of his
own, someone to give him emotional ties and such he'd missed over the
years.   The dating game had always been hit and miss for any of them,
but Hannibal, being more sober and self-reliant, really needed to find
someone he could count on to be there for him.   Maggie fit the bill
perfectly.

Sighing, Smith nodded.   "Yeah, I know..." then breaking the mood, "Well
what's it gonna be, guys?   Pizza, movie?   Pizza, video? or just
pizza?"

Murdock pursed his lips.   "Can't take a pizza into a theatre,
Colonel.   They don't like that much."

"Then pizza and video it is!"   Smith made tracks for the car, and then
stopped short, looked around again.

"What is it, Hannibal?"   Face asked, concerned.

"I can't shake the feeling someone's watching us.... right now."   The
guys looked at him carefully.   Hannibal was not prone to histrionics.
His "little voice" was usually right on.   But there was no one to be
seen.   Murdock offered, "If so, Colonel, then we'll just be a little
more careful...   But I haven't seen anyone around today or tonight that
seemed to be spotting us."

Hannibal shrugged.   The paranoia from their recent highly illicit
survey in Iraq still clung to him like a foul odor; too much so for his
own liking.   They'd had a couple of close calls he didn't want to
really think about now (even spending a few very uncomfortable hours in
an Iraqi holding cell).   He shook his head as if to dust off the
cobwebs, then resolutely tamped down his gut reaction, feeling a bit
foolish.   They got into the van and took off.

*   *   *

      The man sat with all his papers spread out on the table before
him.   Numerous photos of Hannibal Smith and his personas were scattered
throughout piles of records with details of the A-Team's various cases,
dates, times, clients, etc.   The man had done his homework.   He
checked off a list with Smith's name on it... a detailed report of likes
and dislikes.   Several items were highlighted under the 'dislikes'
category.   Drugs, injustice (he smiled sourly at that one), authority
of any sort, needles, hospitals, the military.   A picture was beginning
to form in his mind of just exactly what the suitable recompense would
be for Hannibal Smith.   His smile grew broader.   He could care less
about the others, but if his plan succeeded, they would be just as
devastated as if he'd punished them individually.   His smile became
demonic as he closed the folder.   Yes, Hannibal Smith was due his
come-uppance, and he was the man to give it to him.   He rose, put the
papers away into a box, picked it up with other items, and left his
shabby one room domicile.

*   *   *

      Maggie Sullivan was whistling as she arranged the bedcovers,
putting a couple of small pillows on the bed to add a bit of decor.
Her heart was light... Hannibal was due in a couple of days, and she
could hardly wait.   She hadn't seen him for weeks, and was anticipating
this visit a great deal.   She looked out the bedroom window at the deep
carpet of snow outside.   /Well, that ought to keep him housebound for a
few days/ she thought conspiratorially to herself.   She intended to
stoke the fire high, and spend the greater part of his visit right here
in this room.   /Yessir, keep the good Colonel occupied.../   She knew
she'd have little argument on his part.   Sometimes she wondered, had
circumstances been different, whether Hannibal might've been as much of
a rake as Face.   She continued to alternate between whistling and
humming as she went about her housekeeping.   The doctor was in a very
good mood, and intended to let nothing or no one get in her way for the
next few days.!  Hannibal had been working too hard... he needed a
rest... /"rest"?   What are you thinking of, Sullivan?   Rest will be
the last thing on his mind once he gets here./   Smiling lecherously to
herself, she finally finished and headed off to the kitchen, to plan the
menu for at least three days running.

*   *   *

Douglas Kyle leaned back in the low, leather barrel chair.   He coolly
appraised the men seated in front of him.   Two of them, John Sharphook
and Joseph King, were 'veterans' of their last foray with the A-Team,
and thirsted every bit as much as he for vengeance against the wily
group.   He had hired two new members -- mercenaries who were supposedly
the best in their respective areas:   one a tall, stolid Samoan 'breed,
Sakai Pouvalelei, built from the same mold as BA Baracus; the other, Ken
Bell, a medium sized, wiry man - a taut ball of churning energy whose
eyes glittered dangerously, whether from nerves or drugs was hard to
tell.   He smiled slowly at each man, then leaned forward and picked up
a sheaf of papers, started passing them out.

"Gentlemen, we are here for one purpose, and one purpose only.   Sound
familiar?", as he exchanged a look with Sharphook and King.   "... the
ultimate destruction of the A-Team -- and of one Hannibal Smith, in
particular.   I want it understood now that Smith belongs to me.   I
don't care what it takes, you capture him alive and bring him to me.   I
have a special 'plan' in mind for him."   He looked around at the men.
They all nodded.   "You can have Peck, Baracus and the pilot... just
keep your hands off Smith.   King, you line up the ordnance and
materiel.   John, get me a stash of heroin... a large stash.   All the
accouterments to go with it.   Get some tranquilizer stuff, darts,
chloroform, smoke, anything you can think of... tap all bases; money's
no object.   I'm not sure what opportunity will present itself, but I
intend to be ready for it."   He interlaced his fingers and looked at
the two new men.   "Smith doesn't know you.   So you'll be the vanguard
to lure or chase him into the trap.   Take your time, be careful.   I
don't want mistakes.   That man owes me a lot."   Kyle's eyes glazed
slightly and his voice softened, "...a lot... several millions worth."
Then he shook his head slightly and looked back at the two men.   "Any
questions or needs, you have open credit.   Just get the job done.   And
don't
underestimate Smith for one instant.   He looks harmless.   He's not.
Any questions?"

The men shook their heads.

"Pouvalelei... I want him manageable.   Break a rib if necessary --
whatever it takes to keep him off balance, but nothing major."   The
Samoan nodded, taken back by this calculated coldness, but approving the
cool planning behind it.

*   *   *

Murdock waved the papers around, yelling the whole while.   Face and BA,
bored, watched him pace.

"Calm down, Murdock," Hannibal intoned.   "It's not the end of the
world.   Sounds reasonable to me... just go and get it over with."   He
busied himself with stoking his cold cigar.

"But Colonel, it's not as if I was still crazy!"   At that, the three
men exchanged amused glances but decided to leave the obvious unsaid.
"I was released... clean and sober... uh... sane.   Why do I havta' go
back now?"

"Soun's like somethin' Stockwell would pull," BA offered, his tone
surly.

Smith shook his head.   "Nah, I don't think so.   What purpose would it
serve him if he suddenly needed us?   No, I think it's legit, Murdock.
They say it's just for a couple of days... it can't be that bad, can
it?"

Murdock wasn't convinced.   It was impugning his hard-earned 'sanity';
like pulling back a guarantee.   "I don't know, Hannibal.   I know I
just don't like it.   What if they say I've relapsed and can't come back
out?"   The fear was real on the pilot's face.

"You'll cope, Captain.   This is just a follow-up... you know the
government bureaucracy and love of paperwork.   Somebody probably needed
to fill out some files to look good... and your name came up."   Puffing
contentedly on his smoke, Smith leaned toward the pilot.   "Anyway, you
won't stay there if you don't want to... not if I have any say about
it... ok?"   His eyes twinkled, and reassured the nervous man
immediately.   "When do you have to report in?"

Scanning the paper carefully, "Says tomorrow morning sometime..."   He
looked up hopefully, "Could one of you give me a lift?"

Hannibal shrugged.... "Sure... see what's on tap for tomorrow... and go
from there."   He watched the pilot leave the room, muttering about what
to pack.   Looking at the others, Hannibal voiced his nagging doubt.
"Does seem strange though, doesn't it?   I thought he'd been kicked out
for good."   The other two men nodded back at him.   "Oh well... stayed
tuned - film at eleven." He leaned back into the couch, immersing
himself in the hack Vietnam battle flick on the tube.

*   *   *

It had been simpler than he'd even imagined.   The plant he positioned
several months ago was worth her weight in gold now.   She called with
some excellent news for his plans.   Baracus, for some reason, had to
take the pilot back to the VA for some tests.   That left Smith and Peck
free... free to be lured into his trap.   He called her back, told her
to go ahead with the plan in effect.   After finalizing last minute
details, the mercenaries left for their pursuit.

*   *   *

"C'mon, Colonel.   It's a real problem.   I told her we could maybe
help."   Peck's look was anxious.

"Faace..." Smith intoned warily.   "She hasn't been run through the
usual channels.   I don't like this.   It's too sudden.   I really don't
like the Mid-East connection.   Too damned coincidental."   He pursed
his lips, thoughts of the Gulf intruding again.   "Anyway, why are you
dating married women these days?"

"She's not married, Colonel... separated, getting a divorce... needs
some TLC to get through it..."

Smith snorted at that, "Yeah, I bet!   Face, you know how Decker finds
women to 'lure' you with."   Although he was keeping his voice even and
friendly, Smith's eyes narrowed.   It just didn't feel right.   His
veneer of paranoia after Iraq wasn't totally stripped away yet, and
combined with his sense of being stalked for the past couple of days,
his alarms were on edge, waiting to go off.

"Well, if it was Maggie, would we have to go through 'channels'?!"
Peck retorted sharply, his catty remark fueled from being fed up with
the constant aspersions on the characters of his dates by his "friends".

Hannibal gave his friend a real look, taken aback by this unexpected
barb.   "I don't think that's appropriate, Face.   Maggie's a known
variable - no surprises there.   You've gotten too used to being under
Stockwell's 'protective' wing.   The Army would still love to get their
hands on us, remember that."   He tried to emphasize his words with a
stern look.   "Besides, we know how your choice of women runs, don't
we?   Show me one who's turned out to be an asset to us... just one,
Face."   His eyes lost a bit of their warmth.   "Maggie has never hurt
us, kid... I think that's a pretty lousy low blow to hit me with."

Face looked at him crestfallen and nodded.   "Yeah, I guess so.   But,
Colonel, it really is a problem.   The guy is playing dirty pool,
holding the kid like a hostage..."

"It is his kid too, isn't it Face?" Hannibal inquired delicately.
"He's from Iran or Iraq?"

"Yeah, but all he wants to do is to ship her to Iran and have her
disappear there, so Erika can't ever find her..."

"Sounds like that movie," Hannibal sighed, disillusioned at the
miserable ways people did dirt to one another.

"Yeah, Colonel, exactly.   Listen, she doesn't know who I am... really
am... who you are... can't you just give a listen... and decide from
there?

Smith still didn't feel right about it, but things had been quiet
lately... if the woman was legit, fine... and if not, well, he was
feeling a touch masochistic these days... The covert surveillance in
Iraq, having to hide not only from the enemy, but from their own
undercover Special Forces operatives as well, had worn his tolerance
levels dangerously low.   He craved some of the old action, the old buzz
they'd run before Stockwell and his endless interference.   /The Jazz...
yeah.   What the hell.. he'd give it a shot.   Even if she was a plant,
might be fun, given circumstances./ "Sure, Face... where are you meeting
her?"

"Over at Ferndell Park.   It's quiet and out of the way."

"Great place for an ambush,"   Hannibal just wouldn't leave it alone.

"Enough, Colonel!   Maybe... shit.   You want I should go alone?   Would
that be 'safer'?"   Face's voice sounded hurt.

Shaking his head negatively, Smith slapped his younger cohort on the
shoulder... "Nah... what the hay... we get caught, we'll have each other
for company."   Smith's eyes began to twinkle.

Peck realized that his leader was grooving on the jazz, enjoying the
thoughts of a prospective game of wits with an potential adversary.
Their tenure with Stockwell had dulled Hannibal's gameplaying senses and
he was itching to revive them.   Face wasn't sure that was really a good
idea right now, but the prospect of seeing his latest inamorata finally
overrode any ideas of caution he might have briefly had.

*   *   *

Hannibal sat on the edge of the old wooden picnic table, his right boot
braced against the bench seat below, the other boot dangling free, muddy
sole banging a cadence against the wood.   He pulled his coat collar up
against the strong, cold Santa Ana wind.   He'd chosen the site for its
fairly open area with few hiding spots available.   Ferndell was not his
favorite park due to the density of the trees and fern gardens.   He'd
insisted that they move uphill towards the desert landscape at the north
end of the park; few trees and large patches of dirt playgrounds with
large boulders in the background.   A few latino mothers with their
small children were scattered here and there; a couple of young men
playing crude soccer off to one side.   It seemed peaceful enough.

He still didn't feel right about it, though.   He watched the woman
covertly with a sideways glance.   She was a looker.   Hannibal had to
admire the kid's taste.   But something still didn't ring true here.
She was supposed to be a distraught mother, caught in the middle of a
custody battle and now searching for her kidnapped daughter.   The
husband was some kind of foreign diplomat who was holding the child
within his consulate, out of the jurisdiction of the local police.   The
story had enough of the 'right' points to it; the woman didn't.   For
such a traumatic situation, she was much too calm for his taste.
Hannibal had been wary, keeping a watchful eye on their surroundings.
Face and the woman had gone off a ways, to talk between themselves.
She seemed to dislike Smith, and didn't want to be near him.   Hannibal
found he didn't particularly care for her either.   No reason... just
that nagging instinct of his.   After another quick, worried scan of the
area, he turned his attention back to the couple, and realized they had
moved much too far away for his liking.

His bells went off in unison as he heard the scrunch of gravel and then
a faintly menacing voice behind him curtly order, "Colonel Smith...
don't move.   You are surrounded."

His muscles bunched tightly, Hannibal rose up from the picnic table and
slowly turned to face his challenger, keeping his hands in full view,
just in case.  The man was completely unfamiliar to him.  Medium height,
thinning brownish-red hair and glittering green eyes -- snake eyes.  He
wasn't military.  Hannibal's eyes narrowed, as he tried to run the image
through his mental files and came up blank.  Debating whether to
challenge the semi-automatic pistol the man held, Smith tried a bluff,
grinning.  "Sorry, pal.  I think you've got the wrong man."  The gunsel
just smiled back and said nothing.  Hannibal knew with a sinking feeling
that he was in trouble here.  As he turned his gaze back to Face, he saw
with dismay that another lowlife was sneaking up behind Peck (who had
his back turned to him - a big mistake), in full view of the woman.
Hannibal's cynicism rose full bore.  /Yeah... another winner, Face,/ he
thought dourly.  He whirled around, tried a punch at the gunman, which
sent the man ducking, and then took off running, to warn Peck if he
could.  The kid was too far away to hear him.  Expecting to feel a
bullet either whiz by his ear or bury itself in his body, he
nevertheless kept his feet pumping.  "Face... damnit... Face!" he yelled
breathlessly.  Then he felt the sharp sting as a small projectile
penetrated his shoulder.  /Not a bullet... dammit, they wanted him down
-- not dead./  Almost immediately a smoke grenade of some sort exploded
directly in front of him releasing a cloud of murky smoke.  He began
coughing violently as the acrid smoke whirled up and into his face.  Too
late he recognized the smell - a potent knock-out chemical.  Cursing
loudly because he knew now he could never make it in time to save Peck,
Hannibal Smith felt his legs start to turn watery and then the scenery
began to blur... the last thing he saw through the swirling smoke was
Peck's surprised look as he turned around and caught a power blow to the
back of the head... /Damn!/ Hannibal cursed as the waves of darkness
took him into their fold... and he toppled down onto the grassy
hillside.

The men behind him were jubilant.   The mighty warrior was down -- the
silver fox had been brought to ground.

*   *   *

Hannibal had been staying with BA for the duration until Stockwell
created some new, devious plot for them.   Face was always seriously
romancing some sweet young thing, and the Colonel felt his presence
there would be awkward.   BA didn't mind a bit.   He didn't get many
chances to spend time alone with Hannibal when they weren't in the
field.   It gave him time to get back at the Colonel for his perpetual
airplane tricks.  Hannibal's 'punishment' had been to spend time with BA
at the day care center.   Hannibal agreed... seeing the kids gave him a
fresh perspective - one he sorely needed -- it was too easy to get
cynical when dealing solely with the likes of Stockwell for any length
of time.   The kids brought a breath of fresh air to him.

But today, Hannibal and Face had gone out to see about the emergency
Face's newest lady was embroiled in, and so BA had inherited the chore
of escorting Murdock to the VA at an ungodly early hour for the
follow-up tests.   (The doctors still weren't entirely sure about him,
it seemed.   Murdock had acquiesced - after all, it was a chance to see
some of his old friends at the hospital; nothing to worry about.)   When
BA finally returned, it was late afternoon; his temper was shot, the
pilot having mercilessly teased him the whole while.  /Well, Hannibal
oughta' be home pretty soon./   BA knew Smith had to pack for his trip
up to Bad Rock; nothing would deter him from that, he mused.   Plenty of
time to grab some milk and take a nap before the Colonel got back, and
he had to cook dinner and then go down to the center.   Acting on the
thought, BA headed for the bedroom and twenty winks.

*   *   *

Murdock sat at the table, taking the very familiar tests.   The whole
day had been one set after another   He was growing weary of all of
it.   As the sun had set, it cast weird shadows on the walls and his
mind.   The ink blots had inspired him to new and greater heights of
fantasy; his mind came out with a whole planetary brigade of heroes and
villains for each one.   The doctor watched him, bored, writing down his
answers, then proceeded on to the next blot.   Even with the old
familiar routine, Murdock kept feeling a nagging unease at the base of
his mind.   Something was wrong outside... he couldn't place it, but he
felt the energy waves of the cosmos were out of whack.

"Mr. Murdock!   You want to rejoin us and answer this last one?"   The
doctor tried to get his attention.

"Huh?   Oh, that's Ganderwolf and his Snowflake Bombadier© Brigade.
You know, wings of gossamer and silk?   Fly like a feather, sting like a
bee... or is that float like a bee and sting... naw..."

The doctor gave up. "Perhaps tomorrow you'll be in a better frame of
mind, Murdock.   Time to go beddy-byes."

Murdock's eyes lit up at that.   "Ice cream, maybe?   If I'm good?"
The doctor sighed good naturedly.   Some things just never changed.
"Sure, why not.   Come on with me... you're not on restriction."

Murdock followed the doctor agreeably... then halfway to the kitchen, he
got a real mental kick to the head.   /Something's wrong... dammit.
What is it?/   He had no answer, and being in no position to check it
out, he tried to shrug it off... /Just got the heebie jeebies being back
here, Murdock my man.../   He shook his head and then trotted off to
catch up with the doctor as he disappeared into the kitchen.

*   *   *

They'd deposited the unconscious men in the room set up for their
plans.   Standing around a coffee pot, the men began conversing about
the capture; Kyle hadn't shown up yet and they were feeling full of
their bravado.

Bell laughed nervously, a high-pitched squeaky laugh, out of control.
"That was too easy.   I thought this guy was supposed to be some kind of
hardcase?"   His hand was shaking as he reached for the coffeepot.

Sharphook watched Bell closely.   "Yeah, he is.   Kyle just planned it
real careful this time.   We got burned - bad - last time we tangled
with these guys."   He didn't like what he was seeing in Bell's
demeanor.   The man was shivering and had a slightly runny nose, and a
recurring hacking cough which didn't jibe as he didn't smoke.   Although
it was warm in the room, he had on a heavy down vest and long sleeve
shirt.   "You alright?" he queried carefully, his suspicions rising.

Bell gave him a look back as he finished pouring the coffee, getting
about half of it on the mat below it.   "Yeah, yeah, man, I'm just
fine... what's it to ya?"

Sharphook caught King's eyes, to read the self-same suspicion there.
Bell was too wired for their instincts.   He must have sensed the
scrutiny, because he grabbed his gear from the table and left the room
in a hurry.   "See ya in the morning."

King finally expressed his concern.   "Y'know... I think Smith isn't
going to be the only one strung out around here."   His voice held a
thinly veiled note of contempt.

Sharphook nodded.   "Wonder if Kyle knows yet?"

King sighed.   "I hope so.   This he doesn't need."   With a meaningful
look at Sharphook, he polished off his coffee and then went over to the
table and grabbed his own gear.   Muttering to himself, King left for
his own room, as Sharphook followed suit.

*   *   *

When Hannibal came to, the room was dark.   He listened to peripheral
sounds before opening his eyes.   It sounded like he was alone.   After
venturing a cautious veiled glance, he fully opened his eyes and looked
around.   The room was large, with little furniture from what he could
make out in the murky light.   He saw jail bars on three walls,
subdivided into two cells, one smaller than the other, a small toilet in
each corner, a lightbulb dangling just outside the door.   Casting about
further in the dim light, he saw a huddled form across from him in the
next cell, by the bars.   Sitting up, he focused better and realized it
was Face.   Peck seemed to be unconscious still.   Hannibal tried to
rationalize where they were, who had them... but his mind drew a
blank.   "Face... Face... psssst, kid."   He didn't want to talk too
loudly in case someone was waiting for their wake-up.   Face remained
still.   Hannibal sighed.   Looked like it was up to him, again.   He
stealthily rose up, fighting off the residual dizziness remaining from
the tranquilizer.   It was a jail cell.   That didn't make sense.   No
private jails that he knew about in the L.A. area.. of course, they
might be thousands of miles away by now...   Thinking that maybe an
Iraqi death squad has somehow traced and kidnapped them after their
intervention in the Gulf, he felt very ill at ease.

He had no idea how long they'd been out.   That thought gave him a
chill.   The wind howled outside, barely audible through the thick
walls.   /Chill... cold weather... Santa Anas?... maybe it is L.A./   He
noticed his coat was missing, then further investigation revealed he was
just had his tee-shirt and a pair of tattered thin sweats, not his own,
which accounted greatly for his feeling so cold.   Realizing he couldn't
tell anything further useful in the dark, Smith went over to check on
Peck.   He reached through the bars and carefully staightened the
tattered blanket over Peck; it had been tossed on the cot with no effort
to cover the unconscious man.   Sighing, Hannibal went back to his
corner and found a blanket of sorts of his own lying on the floor.   He
wrapped himself up in it and lay down.   /This is not good... this is
really not good./   But he could do nothing now, so best to get some
rest and be ready for his adversary in the morning.

*   *   *

Maggie Sullivan tossed restlessly in her sleep, reaching out for the
form she so desperately wanted next to her.   When her hand encountered
nothing but the cold bed, she awoke briefly, aching for Hannibal to be
there.   Realizing she couldn't hurry the ticking seconds along any
faster, she turned over and tried to go back to sleep, but something
kept nagging at her.   /Damned libido anyway!/ she murmured to herself,
finally convincing herself it was just her overanxious glands and
nothing more keeping her awake.   She conjured up images of Hannibal's
past visits and ... "endeavors" in this very bed.   She finally drifted
back to sleep, a catlike smile playing about her lips.

*   *   *

The prisoners were rudely awakened by three armed guards.   Smith and
Peck were rapidly and methodically separated and then put on opposite
corners of the room by the armed men, with no chance of conversing.
Face had been reading Hannibal for his cues and received none.
Hannibal seemed his usual jaunty, chipper self, chatting away mindlessly
to the guards to the point of distraction.   The guards kept stony faces
and made no reply to any of his inquiries.   As grim as their situation
appeared, Face couldn't help but be amused at the antics Hannibal was
pulling.

A cold voice came from out in the hallway.   "Good morning, Smith.
Having fun?"

Hannibal instantly sobered up.   He recognized the voice and wished he
hadn't.   Shifting gears, he took a deep breath and then turned to face
the door, his most dazzling smile on display.   "Dougie!   Hey, pal...
you didn't have to go all this trouble... coulda' just sent an
invitation... we woulda' been glad to come over."

Smith's infuriating reaction grated on Kyle but he kept his own demeanor
calm.   /The man was in a tight trap and knew it.   No hurry... no hurry
at all./   He was smiling broadly as he walked into the light of the
cell.   "Yeah, Smith... but I wasn't sure if you'd RSVP, so I figured
I'd just make sure you got here... 'pal'."  Hannibal shrugged as if no
big thing.   "We've got some party planned for you, friend.   I think
you're going to have a real good time."   His gaze bored into the
crystaline eyes in front of him; eyes holding the glint of anger even
while the man kept smiling nonchalantly.   "Too bad we couldn't get
Baracus and the pilot... but that's ok... you're the main guest of
honor."   Kyle walked up to Smith and placed his 9 mm. right under the
man's chin.   Hannibal's eyes lost whatever facade of friendliness they
had held and became hard as chipped ice.

"If it's ok with you, Dougie, I'll pass."

Kyle watched him closely.   The voice held the banter still, but the
eyes /oh yes, read the eyes and read the real story./   Kyle was pleased
-- it was fair recompense to have this man at his mercy -- finally.   He
turned to the younger man.   "Well, Peck... want to take up the slack?
Your colonel doesn't seem to be in a party mood.   How about you?"

Face sighed exaggeratedly, began looking at his fingernails.   "Sorry.
I need a manicure... not my best day for 'partying'."   Peck raised his
eyes back to Kyle and followed his leader's example by bringing up a
brilliant smile.

Kyle was annoyed.   "That's ok, gents.   Smile all you want.   It's my
party, just remember."   He reached over and pushed Peck hard, shoving
him back up against the wall.   King and Pouvalelei followed him.
Sharphook stood guard by a now wary and very coiled Hannibal.   Face
tensed up - in reverse anticipation... /now the fun begins./

"Who shall be first?   Smith?   Have your pretty friend watch you go
down?"   The two men exchanged worried glances as Kyle continued. "Or
you Peck?   Yeah... let Smith watch as we 'play'?   I'll have to think
on that for awhile..." Snickering crudely, the man left with his crew,
leaving the two prisoners to envision his worst possible scenario.

"I think we're in trouble here, Hannibal..." Face said matter of factly.

"Yeah, I think you're right," Smith answered, a shiver going through
him.   The cool air - or the potential of the madman whose captives they
were -- did it matter?   Unless BA and Murdock found them pretty quick,
this was gonna get messy.   "I know you're right, Face..."   He
absentmindedly rubbed the back of his shoulder where the small
tranquilizer dart had hit him.. leaving one hell of a sore spot.

Face looked at his friend obliquely.   "Sorry, Colonel   Shoulda known
better than to argue with that little 'voice' of yours."

Smith shrugged.   "Well, I came along for the ride, didn't I?   Don't
blame yourself, Face."   Then looking around the room hopefully, "See
anything here we can use?"

Peck shook his head sadly.   "No.   Kyle knows us too well, Hannibal.
He hasn't left anything here we can utilize."

Hannibal tried his brilliant smile, but the usual cutting edge wasn't
there.   "Well, BA should be noticing we're gone pretty soon.   Not to
worry, kid."   Hannibal's eyes belied his banter.   He was worried.

*   *   *

Kyle and two goons came in.   He motioned with the automatic rifle.
"Up... up.   C'mon, get up."   The two prisoners got to their feet
unsteadily.

"Playtime.. OK, Smith, up against the wall... assume the position."

Hannibal seemed reluctant to comply.

"C'mon... you know the drill by now."   The goon grabbed his shoulder
and roughly spun him around and into the wall; a rough edge of concrete
caught his cheek and ripped his face as it slid across the jagged
surface.   Smith raised his hands above his head slowly   Face had been
positioned against the opposite wall.   Once Smith's arms were above his
head, the goon suddenly punched him with a power-packed kidney blow.
Hannibal cried out in surprise, and dropped his hands to grab at the
wall to keep his balance.   The goon hit him again on the other side.
Hannibal gasped in pain, slid down the wall.   The goon then grabbed his
shoulder, hauled him back up to his feet and planted a powerhouse gut
punch, followed by a calculated drive to the lower ribs.   Pouvelelei
heard a faint snap and smiled.   Hannibal tried to smother his strangled
cry, and before he even had time to double over, it was followed by a
hard right to his jaw.   Smith's head snapped back and he fell to the
floor in slow motion.

Face was appalled.   Hannibal hadn't had a chance.   It emphatically set
the tone for what to expect from now on.   Face waited his turn to be
pummeled, and was more surprised when he wasn't.

After hauling him to his feet one more time and without warning,
Hannibal was decked again by an unseen left hook that came out of
nowhere... he was slammed against the wall and dazed by the force of
it.   The Samoan gorilla suddenly grabbed Peck's arms and tried to tie
him and force him down.   Face fought like a madman, but there were two
or three of them /couldn't tell in this damned half-light/ and in
moments he was tied, bound and gagged, unable to do a thing to help his
friend.   The men returned their attention to the woozy Hannibal.   They
proceeded to give him a methodical beating.   Peck watched, helpless;
furious at the brutal assault.  Kyle's pent-up rage took over; he and
his henchmen beat Hannibal ruthlessly.   Smith never had a chance to get
in a blow of his own.   Finally beaten to his knees again, hands on the
floor, gagging and spitting his own blood, he was down to the level Kyle
wanted.

Kyle studied the wrecked man beneath him.   "How much pain is worth $1
million, Smith?" he asked curiously   "How long could I stretch it out -
to make your discomfort worth $1 mil?   That's how much you cost me,
Colonel.   Never mind the past few years in that hellhole you sent me
to."   His eyes narrowed.   "$1 million, Smith... how can you possibly
be worth that?"

Hannibal raised his battered head and his icy eyes pierced Kyle.
"There's no way, pal." he jibed back through bloody lips.

Kyle looked contemplative.   "Yeah.. I could probably beat you to a
pulp, keeping you alive, you understand, but it wouldn't help.. wouldn't
begin to touch it.   I need to see you brought down, Smith... down to
the gutter."   his eyes hardened and then he slowly let his gaze travel
across the room to the bound Peck   "Of course, watching someone else
get it in your place might be worth a few dollars... yeah...   like the
good ol' POW days... don't hit the man, hit his buddy.   Much better
reaction."   His laugh was dangerously manic.

Hannibal's eyes lost a touch of their defiant glint.   His own gaze
followed Kyle's to Face.   /Shit.   Out of the fire.../   Peck had been
every bit as much a target as he in the original foray... so it wasn't
just a case of misdirected vengeance.   But Kyle's anger was targeted at
him... why should the kid suffer for it?

Kyle walked over to Peck, ripped off the gag and continued with his
convoluted litany.   "Yeah, Peck... your 'commander' here seems to set a
great store by you..."

Face shrugged effusively... "Whatever... never could understand it..."
trying to take the power out of Kyle's words.   His own gut spasmed at
the thoughts of what Kyle could do to either of them, and he didn't
particularly look forward to the idea.   /Could he take the brunt for
Hannibal?   Would Hannibal let him?/   Face knew the answer to that
one.   /No.   No way./   The Colonel would never allow it.   He'd take
the worst of Kyle's machinations before letting any of his men suffer
for him.   /Damn.../   That put a whole new wrinkle in it. /Kyle was an
expert in facing people off each other./   Peck kept his face even, his
expression guileless with a wide, shit-eating grin.

Getting no satisfactory reaction from Peck, Kyle replaced the gag and
turned back to Smith.   "... or make you degrade yourself in front of
your men.   Now that might be worth a few bucks."

Hannibal would not give in, even though he knew he was digging his own
grave quicker by the minute.   "Go to hell, Dougie..."

"Already there, Smith!"  Kyle seemed to make a snap decision, motioned
to his men, who went after Smith savagely.   After pummeling his gut til
he was limp in their hands, they hauled him over to a chair and threw
him in it, lashing his wrists to the arms with plastic velcro
tiedowns.   Kyle reached behind him and pulled out something, then held
up a small package of white powder... "You know what this is, Smith...
now, let's see how 'strong' you really are."   He poured out some of the
powder onto a dirty spoon propped over a small can of Sterno, lit it,
and began to melt the powder.

Hannibal's eyes widened at the threat.   /Heroin.   Horse, smack,
shit...   poison.   God, no./   He wouldn't let the fear show, but his
heartbeat started racing.

"Nothing to say, Colonel?   Well, in a day or so, that'll be a different
story."   the man laughed evilly   Filling a syringe with the vile
liquid, he turned back to Smith, the mad glint of triumph in his eyes.
He nodded to his henchman who had tied off Smith's left arm with rubber
tubing during the speech, ready for the injection.

Hannibal struggled against the tie-downs.   He tried to rock the chair,
to tip it... anything to postpone what was coming.   Annoyed, one of
Kyle's men came over to Smith and backhanded him viciously.   Smith's
head snapped back... and he was lost between the planes of consciousness
for a few seconds... stars and bright lights flailing around his head.
Kyle moved over to him, then bent down and positioned the needle on the
bulging vein, barely piercing the skin.   He waited.   He'd waited this
long, he could wait a few more moments.   He had plenty of time now.
He wanted Smith to be fully conscious for this -- to appreciate the hell
he was headed for... and to know exactly who sent him there.

Face's eyes filled with apprehension and fear; he struggled against his
own ties... they were too secure.   The gag effectively kept him
quiet.   There was not one damned thing he could do.   He'd never felt
so helpless... not even back at Kien Hung when Hannibal had been shot
down in front of him.   Tears of frustration and anger welled up.

Hannibal finally came out of his daze, as his own eyes settled on the
poised hypodermic.   It was too late now.   His inner mind screamed in
frustration.   /Not this way... Kill him, torture him, but not
drugs../   he couldn't be a ... junkie!   His eyes momentarily gave his
turmoil away to his tormentor, who smiled as he sharply jabbed the
needle into the soft skin below it... then slammed the plunger down,
forcefully delivering its load.   Smith clenched his jaw, enduring the
sudden painful fluid rush, but one agonized "No..." slipped out, much to
Kyle's pleasure.   Kyle drew the moment out as long as he could.   When
the syringe was finally empty, he jerked it out peremptorily, tossing it
on the floor.   "Now, Smith, let's watch you join the human race... and
get down off that sanctimonious pedestal you made for yourself."   He
watched the defeated man carefully.

Hannibal's head fell forward.   Strange sensations started coursing
through him.   He couldn't quite place it, but he felt stimulated... he
felt GOOD!   Kyle had made a mistake... this wasn't a parasitic drug;,
he'd gotten the wrong stuff.   This he could handle.   Smith raised his
head and stared at Kyle, his smile brilliant, his eyes glittering.
"You blew it, Dougie.   This isn't heroin... someone slipped you a line
of goods."

"You speaking from experience, Smith?" was Kyle's nasty, smirking
reply.   "Just wait, my friend.   This takes time... and I've got lots
of time."

Hannibal stared back at him, not giving an inch, although the germ of
doubt had been planted.

*   *   *

BA hung up the phone.   This was the third time he'd tried Face's
apartment.   There should have been some answer by now.   Hannibal also
seemed to drop out of sight.   The big man was concerned.   Hannibal was
supposed to drop by before he took off for Bad Rock.   He'd neither seen
nor heard from him.   It wasn't like Hannibal to forget something like
that.   Keeping in touch with each other was too vital to their mutual
survival.   He decided he'd wait a little longer, but if he'd heard
nothing by morning, he was going to start seriously searching for
them.   He felt a nagging worry in back of his mind, remembering
Hannibal's feeling of being watched a couple of days ago.

*   *   *

Face woke with a start.   "Hannibal?" he ventured nervously.   There was
no answer.   No one was there.  Just his imagination working overtime.
The dark room silently mocked him.   After Hannibal had been shot up,
Kyle had moved him to another room, far away.   Face had felt a sinking
feeling as he watched the goons drag Hannibal's limp body away.   Kyle
hadn't been satisfied with merely shooting the Colonel full of heroin.
Smith was still too defiant.   So he'd had the guards beat him until
finally Smith passed out.   Kyle gave him a scathing look as he left.
"Say goodbye to your 'Colonel', Peck.   He just took a leave of
absence."   Then the lights had gone out, and Face was left bound and
gagged to sit there for hours, trying to cope with the horror he'd just
seen.

They'd untied him after the second or third visit.   He'd been left
alone for so long now, he wasn't sure whether it was day or night
anymore, or even how many days had gone by.   Ever so often, a couple of
the armed guards would come in, turn on the light and amuse themselves
by hitting him with rubber hoses   Feeling petulant and scared, he tried
to focus on something silly.   He hated to think of the bruises he must
have.   /They'd been planning to head south in a couple of weeks... for
a vacation.   He wouldn't be able to wear a bathing suit for weeks,
now./   But it didn't work.   His mind kept returning over and over to
the problem at hand.   When through with their games, the goons would
leave, turning out the light.   Occasionally, food would appear outside
the door, usually while he was asleep.   Face honestly did not know how
many days had passed.   Rubbing his fingers over his grizzled features,
he figured at least three to five.   Hadn't anybody missed them yet?
Where was the Colonel?   How was he doing?   /God... Dougie shot him up
with shit./   The thought kept eating away at him.   If he could've at
least seen Hannibal; have some idea how he was doing... Face was really
shaken.   Did Kyle plan on killing Hannibal slowly with the drug, or
what?   What was his plan?   How would Hannibal hold up given this nasty
card Dougie had dealt?   With no other distractions, Peck's mind spun
round and round, wearing out the grooves, tracking over and over on the
one thought... was Hannibal an addict?   A heavy depression had settled
on him, and until he could see for himself what was happening, he could
only surmise the worst.   Occasionally the guards would taunt him with
some news of how well Smith was adapting to his 'new' life.   "Getting
right good at it, Peck.   Another day or so and he's gonna have that
needle down pat.   He's a quick study... never seen anyone take to
something so easy..."   Face had run at the man trying to pummel him
with his fists, to shut out the hateful words.   The guard had
sidestepped and slipped out the door, slamming it in Peck's face.   He
hung there on the bars, gripping them with all his strength, pouring his
pain and anguish into the grasp.   He slowly slid down, watching
dully as the men departed and he was left in darkness once again.

*   *   *

Maggie was cleaning the last of her surgical instruments and putting
them away.   She was bravely trying to lick her wounds and hide her
intense disappointment that Hannibal hadn't thought enough of her to
even call her and let her know that he'd changed plans (or had them
changed) and couldn't make it up.   Sometimes she felt so used, knowing
she would wait here for any possibility of seeing him, and then find out
at the last moment he wasn't coming.   Maybe she was all wrong about
this relationship.   Feeling more than a touch horny didn't help matters
any.   She'd been anticipating Smith's loving more than she'd let on to
herself   /And now it seems you've been stood up again.   This is some
╬romance', lady.   Do you really need this?/

*   *   *

Murdock was frantic.   He'd tried to call Face and got no answer; the
same for BA and Hannibal.   He was going crazy (literally) with wanting
to get out of the VA Hospital, now that his tenure was finished.   His
nagging voice didn't help any as he ran into blank wall after blank wall
in the telephonic search for his friends.   Something was dreadfully
wrong and he couldn't do anything about it.   He heard that he got a
couple of messages, but the switchboard operator had garbled them and
just tossed them out without telling him.
/DAMN the tests!   He wanted OUT!/   But for some reason they were
watching him again and he'd been grounded until someone 'responsible'
came and signed him out.   They wouldn't let him out on his own
recognizance.   Murdock suddenly regretted like hell the silly games he
first played when he got here.   They were now crippling him
hopelessly.   /Guys... where ARE you?   What's happening?!/

*   *   *

"No, I don't know where they are, Baracus."   Stockwell's voice was
terse, hiding the worry he felt upon hearing Baracus' recent news.
"You are all supposed to be on leave for four weeks.   That was our
agreement.   I haven't seen or heard from Colonel Smith since you got
back from Iraq."

BA wouldn't give it up.   "Well, who else would be wantin' to see
Hannibal and Face?   What about the Army?"

Stockwell's voice grew in exasperation.   "BA, I really don't know.
Check your own past.   Perhaps someone is pissed at Smith?   I checked
and the Army does NOT have him.   I'm busy.   Now if you've finished
your twenty questions?"

BA hung up the phone, feeling worse than ever.   Stockwell was a lousy
card to play even at the best of times.   He should've known that
arrogant sonofabitch wouldn't know or care.   He tried Murdock again.
The same ditzy operator assured him that, yes, his messages were being
given to Mr. Murdock and that he was indisposed at the moment.   BA got
a sudden suspicion that maybe Murdock had been grabbed too - joining the
ranks of Peck and Smith.   He resolved to go the VA that night and see
for himself whether the pilot really was OK.   But he had other errands
first.   He'd tried the street to see if there were any rumors floating
around about the elusive Team and any vendettas being waged.
Nothing.   The deafening silence that met him was more frightening than
hearing about a contract placed on his friends.   It had been nearly a
week now, and no word from either of the men nor from anyone claiming to
have them in custody.   BA felt they were somewhere where no one knew
their identities (real or assumed), as in a hospital, or... he shut the
thought out as it formed... a mortuary or some such.   What if they'd
been in an accident and no one knew who to call on their behalf.
Having at least a goal now, BA set out to scour the hospitals in town,
searching for "John Does".

*   *   *

Kyle noticed the less than warm rapport between his troops, and wondered
about it.   He could see where the new guys might not have the same
enthusiasm as he, Sharphook and King did about Smith; it wasn't their
battle.   But he was curious just why his two compatriots seemed to have
so little use for Bell.   He said nothing, just watched all of them more
closely as they went about their duties.   When they were tormenting
Smith, they were all in harmony; sanctimoniously righteous, the man made
a good target; it was great fun for all of them, even the new guys.
But then he wondered why Bell was so anxious to always be the one to set
up and administer the heroin to Smith when he himself was not able to.
A few cryptic remarks from John had put him on alert, and he decided to
follow Bell surreptitiously this time and see just what went on.

Kyle observed the next session, letting the guys do the work.   After
Smith had been trotted through his paces (deluded that he'd managed to
somehow hold out once more in the fight against the drug)   /and was
that ever a laugh - the man couldn't see himself for what he was rapidly
becoming... a hardcore addict.   But wait until he got cut off.   Then
the high and mighty John Hannibal Smith would know the real meaning of
hell/ the men left, bent on their various errands.   Bell took charge of
cleaning up the works, getting everything ready for the next stint.
Kyle waited for a few moments, then burst in unawares on the involved
man.

Bell whirled around, his face ashen with shock.   He was caught - no way
to deny anything.   Not with the rubber tubing around his arm, and the
needle stuck half up his vein.

Kyle stood for a moment, stunned.   He hadn't counted on this!   The one
thing he did not need was a junkie in his own ranks.   The two men
stared at each for a few long moments.   Bell, nervous, finished what he
had begun, then unwrapped the tubing and put pressure on the vein to
stanch it as he pulled the syringe out.

Kyle was furious inside.   "How long has this been going on?   I thought
I made it clear when I hired you that I did not want any dopeheads on
this mission!   The only one we want strung out here is Smith."   His
steely eyes bored into Bell, waiting for his answer.

"I thought I had it licked, Kyle.   I really did.   But watching you
shoot up Smith with such good stuff just got to be too much - I took a
hit a couple of days ago and then it just all washed over me again."
The man's face held fear, and yet a certain raw courage too.   He wasn't
apologizing - sorry he got caught, yes - but not apologizing for the act
itself.   Kyle had to admire that kind of chutzpah in anyone.

"So are you a junkie, now?   I can't depend on you to do your job 'cause
you're wanting what Smith's getting?"   Kyle didn't soften it.

"No.   I can quit..." Kyle snorted at that.   "But it's just so hard
watching him... y'know?   That fool doesn't even want it, and here I'd
kill for something as good as he's getting.   I was wrong, Kyle, and
I'll keep as straight as I can for you, but, hey man, you can't possibly
use all that stuff you bought just on him... let me buy some, huh?"

Kyle shook his head, still pissed.   "Smith is the main focus here,
Bell.   When he's done and gone, I don't give a damn who does what with
whatever's left.. but until Smith is totally addicted, it all belongs to
him... understand?!"

Bell wilted under that scathing gaze, and nodded his acknowledgment.

Then Kyle looked at him cunningly and suggested a attack plan.   "So,
shouldn't that be an incentive for you to see that Smith reaches that
happy state, SOON?"   Off of Bell's enthusiastic nod, Kyle continued.
"The quicker he gets to be a hardcore addict, the sooner you can have
the leftovers.   That oughta' give you some push to help him along."
Kyle's smile was evil.   He hadn't counted on this little wrinkle, and
he sure as hell didn't need it... but if avarice on Bell's part would
help him to screw up Smith better, then so be it.   He'd always been one
to turn a disadvantage to his way.   "I think we won't bother the other
boys with our little chat, Bell.   But be discreet, dammit!   They
already suspect what you are.   Don't fuel the fire.   Do this right,
and I'll see you're set up in any little drug heaven you want, ok?"

Bell nodded energetically.   "You got it, Kyle.   Smith will be begging
you for this stuff in a couple of days, I guarantee it."

Kyle's thin smile answered cynically; he'd wait and see on that.

*   *   *

BA sat across the table from the pilot.   Murdock looked ok.   He wasn't
as up as usual and that bothered BA, especially considering all the
other weird stuff going on.   Murdock was dressed in pajamas and a robe,
not his usual mode of dress either.   BA was questioning him urgently
and quietly, feeling the fixed stares of many eyes on his back.

"Don't mind them, big guy.   They just get so bored here they're happy
to see anyone new."   Murdock's eyes expressed the concern that his flip
tone didn't.   He dropped his voice.   "What's going on, BA?   I keep
feeling something weird is happening and I can't find out what.   Why
haven't you or Hannibal called me?"   His eyes grew more worried.

"You ok here?   No one been tryin' to give you any medicine you don'
want, or take you off someplace you don' wanna go?"   BA's question came
from an angle Murdock wasn't expecting.

"No.   Everything's been hunky dory, except they won't let me out right
now.   I think they think I've relapsed..."

BA scowled at that and gruffly answered, "They prob'ly be right.   You
always done been relapsed, fool."

Murdock was not in a mood for their usual inane banter.   "What is
wrong, BA?   Where's Hannibal?   Why hasn't he called or come by?   He
said he wouldn't let anyone keep me here if I didn't want to..."

BA sighed heavily.   "What is wrong, man, is that Hannibal and Face been
missing for about 4-5 days.   They went to see Face's lady the same
morning I brought you here... and no one seen 'em since... or her.   No
one."   BA looked earnestly into the pilot's eyes.   His putdowns
impugning Mudock's character were dropped - right now all they had was
each other... no time for foolishness.

Murdock shut his eyes for a moment.   "Damn.   I knew there was
something wrong.   I've been feeling so strange the past few days, BA.
Couldn't understand why no one called..."

"Hey, man, I called every day!   Didn' you get them messages?"

Murdock shook his head, wondering.   "Nope... not a one.   I just knew
something was wrong."   Letting the info slide in, Murdock looked up at
his friend.   "Hasn't anyone tried to take credit... y'know.. 'I
captured the A-Team' sorta' thing?"

"No, and that's what's scary... ain't no word from nowhere.   I think
someone got 'em who hates 'em.   I tried everything I can think of... I
just don' know what to do anymore.   Hannibal's the one who thinks us
out of these things."

"Find Face's girlfriend, BA... she's the last contact we had with
them... she oughta be able to tell you somethin'.   Get me outta here,
BA.   I'll help."

"She disappeared... I cain' find her nowhere.   Don' you think I'd look
there?"   His voice sounded a bit hurt at Murdock's lack of faith.
Then he looked at the pilot oddly, knowing his next words were going to
hurt, "No, I don' think so, Murdock.   You seem safe here... ain' no one
tryin' to hurt ya.   Unlessn' we know what exactly been happenin', I
think you be better here..."

Murdock looked at his friend in shock.   "BA... you drop all this on me,
and now you're gonna leave me here?   Hey man, that's not fair."   His
voice was hurt.

BA straightened up.   "No, it's not... and I'm sorry Murdock... but I
gotta do what I think Hannibal would do.   And right now someone's
trying to get us... if you're safe here, then you stay here."   BA set
his jaw, determination in every muscle.

Murdock deflated.   BA had a point, of course, but it didn't make him
feel any better... he was so useless here, and if the guys needed
him...   "What happens if you need me and can't get me?"

BA looked at him and puffed up.   "Won' happen, man.   I know somethin's
up, so I'm bein' real careful.. you do too."   He stood up and his voice
regained its full volume.   "Well, gotta be goin' Murdock.   You get
that phone operator to give you your messages, y'hear?!"   He looked
around the room, casting a special glare at the attendants off to one
side.   Murdock rose with him.   "Yeah, BA... will do.   Come back,
soon?"   The pilot's eyes were wide, then he shuffled off back to his
room.   BA watched his dispirited gait, but knew in his heart that for
the moment, this was the best thing to do.   He turned and left the
room.

*   *   *

Smith lay in a corner of the dark room, one arm thrown carelessly over
his eyes.   Any light now was agony for his sensitive orbs.
Consciousness was slowly coming back, and with it, remembrance of
reality.   He was still coasting down from the last dose of heroin and
was now in a mellow but pleasantly aware state between high and low.
He was almost afraid to take his arm away.   What would he see?   What
would be waiting for him now?   He'd tried desperately to resist the
seductive lure of the potent drug, but had no opportunity as Kyle's men
came in frequently to administer another dose.   If he became too great
a problem, they would beat him nearly senseless, until he ceased
struggling, or hit the damaged rib and immobilize him instantly.   He
would then feel, as if in a netherworld, the tubing go round his arm
again, the needle pierce him one more damned time.   His arm was pitted
with raw, angry punctures, mute testimony of his efforts to struggle
against -- resist -- their manipulation.   He'd broken one needle off in
his arm in a wild struggle and incurred Kyle's ferocious wrath.   The
sonofabitch had left it there to fester for a day or so, letting it
become messily infected; removing it later had been a major hassle, and
in the long run had served no purpose.   He'd been given a second dose
anyway - in his other arm.   /Was it too late?   Had they succeeded in
hooking him?   No, goddamnit./   As long as he could fight back, his
mind was still his own.   He could control this... he could.

He heard the door screech open.   A chill went down the length of him.
It was too soon.   He was stable; he felt no urge for the chemical now
-- he was fine... /Fine?   What a crock.   How Maggie would enjoy
that!   Maggie!   Oh Lord, how many days had they been here?   Surely
someone had noticed they were gone by now.   Where was Face?/ His mind
was turbulent with anxious questions.   Hannibal finally pulled his arm
from his eyes, determined to see who had entered.   The thin beam of a
flashlight hit him square between the eyes and he shut them reflexively,
opening them again when the faint heat left his forehead.

"You're awake, Smith.   Good.   I've got some more mother's helper for
you."   Kyle's cold gaze met the tormented eyes below him as he
laughed.   As Hannibal tried to get up, to move away, Kyle motioned to
his men.   "Get him over here."   He moved to a small table and armed
chair.   The men were rough as they reached down and hauled Smith up.
Hannibal tried to twist out of their grip, but was hit with a sudden
case of debilitating nausea.

Kyle smiled dourly.   "That's a good sign, Smith.   Means you're needing
this stuff now.   And you'll be needing it more and more as time goes
by.   Sounds like a great life, huh, 'pal'?"   His leer cut into Smith's
consciousness.   "Here, behave yourself and this won't take a minute."
He reached for Smith's arm.   Hannibal pulled back, still hopelessly
trying to retain some control over this.   His reward was a sharp slap
to the side of his head, which dazed him sufficiently for Kyle's
purposes.   Sharphook hooked his thumbs into muscle and nerve ends and
essentially paralyzed the arm.   "You never learn do you?   You're just
making it harder on yourself, Smith.   It's too late now for that.   It
won't help.   You're hooked my friend.   Hooked good.   We've been using
prime grade shit.   You aren't going to find this stuff on the street
without paying through the nose for it... and guess who's gonna be there
to supply it?" Kyle taunted as he prepared Smith's arm, trying to find a
clean spot to pierce once again.

Hannibal refuted the words as he heard them.   Sobbing, "No.   Damnit...
you're wrong.   I'll fight this.   Screw you, Kyle."

Kyle laughed heartily as he once again inserted the needle.   Smith's
legs suddenly sagged and he nearly went down in a dead weight, but the
two men were ready for his tricks and kept him upright as Kyle
finished.   Then they dropped him where he'd stood.   The drug sent him
off into a haze again.   Kyle smiled oddly at him.   "Oh, you're hooked,
alright, my friend.   No doubt about it.   You just don't know it yet"
But was it really enough?   Would this even begin to pay back for all
the aggravation Smith had caused him?   /Damned straight it would!/ Kyle
emphasized to himself.

*   *   *

BA grabbed at the ringing phone, hoping frantically that it was either
Face or the Colonel.   It wasn't.

Maggie Sullivan's strident voice came over loud and clear.   "Is Colonel
Smith there?"   BA looked nonplussed for a moment at the unexpected and
very formal usage of Hannibal's name.   "Huh?"

"Is Hannibal there?   This is Maggie Sullivan."   Her voice was very
clipped.

"Uh, no, he's not."   BA was trying to piece this together.   He'd hoped
that maybe Hannibal (distracted over seeing the lady doctor again) had
somehow gone on up to Bad Rock without his luggage.   Obviously not.

"Well, when he gets in... tell him don't bother coming up to Bad Rock.
I've been called away."   And on that very frigid note, she hung up on
him.   BA was really worried now.   He didn't have Maggie's number to
call her back and question her further.   And if Hannibal wasn't in Bad
Rock, then where the hell was he?!   And Faceman too?   He decided to
call Murdock again, to see if they'd left any message there, although
his inner voice told him it was useless.   Hannibal and Face were
missing... and that was becoming more ominous by the minute.

*   *   *

Kyle's two compatriots were comparing notes with him.   He'd been so
wrapped up in his tunnelvision over Smith that he seemed to have
forgotten completely about Peck.   Sharphook petulantly inquired, "So,
what do we do with him?   Not much point in just beating him up.   If no
one's going to watch, what does it matter?   This isn't any fun, Kyle."

Kyle thought on that.   "No, you're right.   I think when we've got
Smith softened up sufficiently, we'll let Peck see him and then kick
them both loose."   He had a sly, nasty smile.

"Turn 'em loose?!   I thought we were supposed to be getting some
satisfaction out of this!" King replied hotly.   "Hey man, I didn't
spend time in that lousy fleahole just to watch Peck go skipping off
free."

"You know how Peck dotes on Smith.   With the habit he's going to have,
what do you think that's going to do to Peck?   Especially if he has to
pander to provide for that habit?   Trust me, that's gonna mess him up a
lot more than any beating will.   He'll have to go way underground to
get what Smith needs   It oughta' be interesting."   Kyle leaned back, a
relaxed smirk playing on his lips.   After a few moments of thought, his
friends started seeing his vision and then joined him in it.   "Yeah...
you gotta point there, Doug.   They're such a nelly bunch of do-gooders
-- that ought to really screw up Peck's head.   And y'know... it'll ruin
whatever 'reputation' they've got left.   Can't trust a druggie on a
mission.   Numbah ten..." King's eyes gleamed wickedly.

"So, go punch out Peck a little more, but don't damage him too much... I
want him to be just as aware as Smith will be out of it... agreed?"
The two henchmen nodded back, and left to worry Peck some more.

*   *   *

BA had done a thorough search of Face's apartment and had somehow
(despite the scammer's elaborate filing system) managed to locate an
address for the lady he'd been seeing last.   BA felt it couldn't hurt
to see if she had any idea of where the two men had gone.   The
neighborhood was bordered by the worst gang barrio in town, but the area
itself seemed old-fashioned and quiet.   BA finally found the house he
was seeking, a small but tidy 40's California Bungalow.   He made tracks
for her door, pounding on it with his usual finesse, waking up the whole
neighborhood.   The woman answered the door with a bit of trepidation.
Considering where she was located and the startling picture this
particular black man made, she wasn't sure but a gang-banger had just
decided to get brazen.   "Can I help you?", she asked cautiously.

"Yeah.   Tell me where the Faceman is."   The man's scowl put her off.

"The... 'faceman'?" she repeated timorously.   "I'm sorry, but I don't
know anyone like that."

"Sure you do, woman.   Templeton Peck his name... good lookin' guy...
charmer... y'know?!"

"Oh... him."   The woman became haughty and cold.   "I do not want to
hear that name again, ever.   It wasn't enough he promised all kinds of
help, and then just dumped me when it got a little sticky....   I don't
particularly like being dumped for any reason."   Her green eyes
crackled with anger.

BA peered in through the screen door.   This sure didn't seem like the
sort of lady Face usually associated with.   This one had too much
substance and was much too independent for the Faceman's tastes.   She
reminded him of the doctor in Bad Rock.   /Not Face's type at all...
heck, this one can think.../   And at the moment, she seemed to think
Face was the lowest form of life on the planet.   She hadn't seen him
since a week ago, when he callously left her for no reason... other than
maybe the blonde bimbo he was with at the time.   BA mumbled apologies,
and left.   Something didn't seem right, but he couldn't place it.   How
he wished Hannibal were here.   He could look right through her story,
if it was that, in a moment   A pang hit him as he realized how much he
missed his compatriots, his leader especially.   This was not his strong
suit, and he dearly wished Hannibal was here to run the interference he
did so well... /But, of course, if he were here, there'd be no reason
for any of this./   Muttering to himself, BA went down the sidewalk to
the van, got in and took off, trying to figure a new attack.

Two sets of eyes watched him from behind the curtains.   "Well, he seems
off balance enough.   Just wait, Baracus - in a couple of days you'll
have your friends back... if you want 'em."   Erika looked back at
Douglas Kyle who watched the van drive off with rapt attention.   "You
gotta' admit, he's not as dumb as he looks.   Slow maybe... I would've
been here checking you out two days after I thought my friends were
gone."   Kyle's voice held snide sarcasm.   "But then, Smith has always
been the planner -the 'brains' of the group.   Without him, they're
going to have a lot more trouble staying hidden."   His laugh was crude
and nasty.   Erika shivered.   She heartily wished she had not gotten
involved in any of it, but the money for her brief acting stint had been
considerable and the flirtation with Peck had been more enjoyable than
she expected.   She felt bad about the older man, though.   He seemed to
deserve better than what he'd received at Kyle's hands.   She had a
sudden sense of being totally in the wrong camp.   Kyle had taken great
pains to brief her on what had happened to Smith.. to insure she kept
her mouth shut; threatening her with "accessory before and after the
fact" and other legal jargon.   She just wanted her money and to leave
this place.   Kyle promised her last installment once Smith was on the
street again.   Until then, she had to wait.   He believed in
taking out insurance.   He might need her... witness Baracus' visit as
an example.

"I've done my bit, Kyle... now get out.   I don't want you here."   Kyle
snickered at her as he took his leave.   "Don't go getting airs on me,
lady.   You're already hip deep in Bandini... a little late to be
getting scruples now, doncha' think?"   His laughter echoed hollowly as
he went out the back door and left.

*   *   *

"So, Peck, what do you think your Colonel's been doing all this time?"

Face looked at them obliquely - his bloodshot eyes trying to focus on
them.   The question was clearly designed to irritate.   "I dunno.
Probably being his usual charming self..."   Face wouldn't give them the
rise they were seeking, even though he was worried sick.   How bad off
was Hannibal?   Had they succeeded in hooking him on heroin?   The idea
just tore him apart.   Hannibal hated drugs passionately.   What would
he do when he realized he was now an addict himself?   Would he even
realize it?   If they were dosing him heavily, he might be totally out
of it, unawares.   Face bit down on his reaction, and smiled up blandly
at the two men.   "We gonna' have some more 'fun', guys?"

Chortling to themselves, they hauled him up.   "Oh, yeah, Peck.   Some
'fun'.   We're gonna go down the hall... time for you to visit your
friend... your bigger than life... 'commander'."   The words struck
sudden apprehension into Peck.   They pulled and pushed him along the
corridor and took him through a labyrinth of passageways.   They finally
came to a large, heavy wooden door, which they slowly pushed open.

Face was just not ready for the sight that greeted him.   Hannibal was
on the floor, on his knees, disheveled, dirty, sweaty and grizzled...
and most emphatically strung out like a wire.   He was stripped down to
his tee shirt, and some lightweight slacks; the cool temperature didn't
seem to affect him as he was bathed in a sheen of sweat.   He was
begging... BEGGING Kyle to give him some stuff.   Face felt sick to his
stomach.   The silver hair was dirty and streaked, beard stubble growing
haphazardly.   Hannibal had never been this unkempt, not even at the POW
camp.   Face momentarily wished he could die, wishing like hell he'd
never lived long enough to see this.   Hannibal was trying to catch
Kyle... but seemed to be having trouble getting to his feet.   He would
occasionally grab at his gut and hold on as a spasm went through him.
"Kyle... please.   For god's sake... please."   He implored the
mercenary who stood above him, cool and collected.

Kyle had finally cut Smith off cold - with no dosage at all- for almost
a day.   It was now tearing Smith apart physically.   His body had grown
complacent with the constant influx of heroin, and couldn't cope now
with its sudden loss.   "Well, Peck, what do you think now of your
'fearless' leader?"

Realizing someone else was in the room, for the briefest of seconds,
Hannibal looked back and saw Peck standing there, and his own morality
resurfaced... he flushed as he looked at his younger cohort, realizing
what it must look like... "Face... I..." he bowed his head and the
muscles in his face jumped uncontrollably.   "God, it's not what you
think..." and then the pain started up again, and Peck was forgotten
totally, replaced by Smith's aching need for the drug.

       Face felt the tears start in earnest, and was not ashamed to let
them fall.   /God... Hannibal... god, god, god... how could this
happen?!/   Kyle saw them and felt satisfaction, finally, from Peck's
reaction.   The anguish in the blue eyes was almost too much to watch...
/He'd succeeded!   HE had hit the A-Team in a spot more vulnerable even
than death.../   Feeling inordinately pleased with himself, Kyle went
over to the Lieutenant.   "Seen enough yet, Peck?   Just wait... the
show's gonna get better..." and on that note, he pushed Peck over to one
side of the room and shoved him to the floor, where he had an
uninterrupted view of the proceedings.   The men dragged the derelict on
the floor over to Kyle's feet and threw him there.   Hannibal had one
last momentary grasp of his old self and looked again at Peck...
mouthing, "I'm sorry Face... you don't .. you can't know..." and then
irrevocably turned his attention back to the man above him.   Kyle's
look of triumph destroyed Peck.!     He buried his head in his arms,
unable to watch any more.

*   *   *

BA was about at the end of his rope.   He had been unable to get any
leads from anyone, anywhere.   He found himself wishing for the wacky
antics of the pilot at this moment.   Anything would be better than this
deafening silence without his friends.   He'd become so afraid of what
might have happened to Hannibal and Face that he'd even visited the
morgue to see if any John Does had shown up there.   He finally just
gave up, decided to sit by the phone and hope that someone, somewhere
would call him - to gloat if nothing else.

*   *   *

Face looked remorsefully at the limp, relaxed body across from him.
His face burned as he remembered watching the final degradation of
Hannibal Smith early this morning...   He'd been sat down in a chair at
a table - no upper body restraints needed anymore.   Kyle had tied off
the tubing, noting the anxious anticipation of his victim, as Smith's
hollow, vacant eyes had hungrily watched every motion of the needle,
then prepared the syringe -- taking his sweet time -- drawing it out to
an exquisite torment for the waiting man.   In desperation finally,
Smith had grabbed the filled syringe and plunged it into his own arm.

A sob of agony escaped Peck at having to watch it.

Not being very adept at it, Hannibal ripped the vein open, and when he
withdrew the needle, a stream of blood followed.   He was totally
oblivious to it and would've bled to death, merely rolling his eyes shut
as the ecstatic sensations coursed through his body.

Kyle had to get a swab quickly and stanch the wound till the flow
ceased.   While he was busy, he looked at Peck.   "Guess you could say
he's hooked now, huh?"   His coarse laugh tore through Peck's
consciousness.
As Smith lapsed into drug-induced euphoria, Kyle looked at Peck
appraisingly.   "Y'know, I could do the same for you, Peck." he mocked
maliciously.

****

After watching Smith's descent into hell, Face had been hauled back to
his holding cell and dumped unceremoniously in it.   He'd tried to erase
the vision of Hannibal sitting there, oblivious to everything but the
chemical coursing through his veins.   Face would never have believed
that Hannibal could be so manipulated. //But then he never had a chance
to fight it.   He'd been suckered from minute one.//

Peck had spent a sleepless, nightmare-driven evening, unable to shake
Smith's begging for the chemical from his mind.   Being an addict was
bad enough, but Kyle had gotten him to beg?   He was just glad that the
other two weren't here to see it.   He knew it would destroy BA, and
god-knew what it would do to Murdock's fragile state of mind.

As the now-familiar sounds of dawn approached, Face heard new ones: the
sound of approaching feet.   Was it his turn now?   Was he next in line
to be sent to the bottom of the barrel?   Determined he would fight it
every inch of the way, every bit as much as Hannibal had tried to, he
waited for them to come for him.

Kyle led the three men, then paused, while King opened the door.
Watching Peck carefully, he had an indefinable smirk on his face at the
look of utter contempt that Face shot him while the three men moved in.

"My turn, now?"

Kyle smiled maliciously, like a cobra poised to strike.   "Hardly.   I
need you to be safe and sound so you can take care of your commander,
Peck.   But you're going on a little trip.   Your presence is no longer
required here."

"What?"

Saying nothing else, Kyle exited the cell, followed by his henchmen and
the unwilling scammer.   They pushed him along the hallways again, but
this time exited the outside doorway.

Finding himself in sunshine for the first time in days, Face blinked
rapidly, trying to acclimate his eyes to the bright glare.   He was a
little surprised to realize that they were still in Los Angeles.   He
and the Colonel had discussed where they had been taken, and Hannibal's
take was that they hadn't left their home area. His reconnoitering was
short-lived however, as King wrapped a bandage around his eyes, and they
tied his hands behind him.

Tossed rudely into the back seat of a cavernous old station wagon, Peck
was shoved to the floor while Sharphook stomped his feet on Peck's back
to make sure he stayed down.   They drove for awhile, and then the door
opened, Sharphook hauled him up by the scruff of the neck and propelled
him out the door, to land heavily on concrete roadway.   The wagon sped
away towards the west before Face was able to shrug off the blindfold
enough to catch a plate number.   Realizing he was in the middle of a
six lane roadway and that traffic was coming, Face rolled over and over
to the side, where he worked at loosening the ropes.   He was a little
surprised to find that the ropes came off quite easily. //Now what is
Kyle up to?//

Staggering to his feet, he looked around for landmarks and realized he
was high up in the Chatsworth Hills, near Big Rock.   He needed to find
a phone, a car and some help -- in that order.   He walked down to the
Reseda exit, and hiked over to a Jewish Temple on Rinaldi street where
he knew he could make a phone call, the Team having assisted the rabbi
there once upon a time.   Connecting with BA finally, Face gave him
explicit instructions to come pick him up.

*******

Doubling back on freeway, Kyle had passed Face on the road, assuring
himself that Peck has started his own journey, and the ball was in
motion.   He followed behind and watched as Baracus finally came into
the net.   Smiling evilly, Kyle had King drive back to their lair to put
the next stage of his plan into action: to take Smith downtown after
leaving Peck.   Knowing that the most high-profile dealers were to be
found in the Fifth/Broadway area, Kyle and the goons took Hannibal to a
fleabag hotel on 7th Street.   Smith was still happily dozy, providing
no problems to his handlers.   Once they went inside the decrepit room,
Hannibal fell asleep instantly when presented with a real bed.

Doug held a conference with his men.   "Alright, guys, here's how it's
goin' down.   I want you to leave for the time being.   I'll take care
of Smith myself.   He's in no condition to give me any hassle."

King wasn't convinced that was a wise move.   "What happens if Smith's
men find him... and you?"

"I hope they do.   But until then I intend to have some more fun with
Smith.   All together, we're much too visible.   Believe me, I know what
I'm doing.   Just hang around, on the edges.   If it does get hairy,
then come in shooting, otherwise, stay the hell out of sight.   Got it?"

The men left, to carry out various errands instituted by Dougie.   Kyle
contemplated the sleeping Smith, very pleased at how very well his plan
was going.

******

BA couldn't grill Face nearly enough.   "What happen, Faceman?   What
you mean Hannibal a junkie?   I don' believe it.   No way, no how.   Not
the Colonel."

Peck's haunted eyes watched Baracus's reactions as knowledge was
replaced by anger, then by fear, then by even more anger.   There was no
simple way of ameliorating the pain that his news had brought. Peck
didn't even try.   "I had to watch him, BA.   Believe me, he needs the
drug now.   I don't know what Kyle is up to."

"So where Hannibal gonna' get more dope?   Tha's where Kyle's gonna take
him... where the dealers are."   BA's voice was strong in his
conviction.

"What makes you so sure?"   Face wasn't used to BA being so much in
charge as he now seemed to be.   "I been there, Faceman.   I watched mah
frien's go through this shit.   I watched them die.   All they be
lookin' for is a dealer, someone to buy the dope from."   BA would not
allow any emotion to creep into his voice.   He knew if he relented for
even a moment, he would go to pieces.

Face nodded soberly.   "Makes sense.   So, d'ya think that's where Kyle
went?   To find a dealer?"

"He wanna' watch Hannibal be degraded?   F'sure that what he do.   He
prob'ly make Hannibal buy it hisself"

"Oh God... you're kidding."

BA slowed the van down and parked it for a moment, to turn and look at
Peck full on.   "Man, I wish I was.   If Kyle takin' Hannibal down this
trip, he gotta find the man to do it.   Best dealers downtown, down by
da' missions.   Thas' where we gotta go"

"Listen, BA, we need to get Murdock.   We're gonna need all the help we
can get.   Hannibal will be a handful if we separate him from Kyle and
the dope."

"I don' wanna go get the fool."

"Listen, BA, they'll just love it when pretty-boy whitey comes down in
his corvette, lookin' to score... I'll get more attention and flash some
cash, probably more information.   You'll just scare ╬em away."

"Pretty boy?"   BA snorted at the scammer.   "You looked at yo face
lately, Peck-man?   You don' look like no pretty boy right now."

Rubbing his grizzled chin, Face nodded.   "Yeah, well, pretty enough.
The money will do the talkin' anyway."   Having made up his mind, Face
wanted to get his plan moving.   "Take me to my pad, BA, I'll get the
╬vette and start cruising.   You go spring Murdock and bring him back
down here.   I'll be around here somewhere.   If anything changes, I'll
call you, okay?"

BA nodded, although not enthusiastically.   "Man, gotta' go get the
fool."

Face's quiet voice cut into BA's whining.   "It's Hannibal we're talking
about here, BA.   Just remember that."

That was all he needed to hear.   Nodding with more enthusiasm, BA
revved the motor and tore off for Peck's pad.

********

Late afternoon was now melding into early twilight.   Smith had awakened
and was hurting.   Dougie smiled at the agonized man.   "Well, Smith,
now you're gonna learn a whole new lifestyle."   He reached down and
pulled up the derelict and pushed him out the door.   Smith stumbled a
few steps, being very woozy both from the drug's reactions and the fact
he hadn't eaten much for several days.   Kyle marched him down to Main
and Seventh Streets, to introduce him to a couple of pushers he was
acquainted with.

Hannibal was in real bad shape, shaking, cold, the whole nine yards.
The dealers wanted to know what Hannibal had to pay with and Dougie
announced that for the moment, he would be responsible for the money.
This mollified them and they adjourned to an abandoned building, to duck
into a broken windowfront, to use a dim, dank back room for their
business.   After they prepared and administer his fix, Hannibal
stabilized.   He tried to think rationally about what he had become -
only too obvious by his very acceptance and need of the drug.   He HATED
it, but it had too strong a hold now, and there wasn't much he could do
in his own behalf until he could escape from Kyle.   Doing that would be
his first and hardest move, but then what?   He knew he was downtown,
but had no money on him to even make a phone call, if he were able to
slip away from Dougie -- who was watching his every move like a hawk.
After payment and shoot-up was concluded, Dougie hauled Hannibal back up
to their room.

Having eaten too little for far too long, Hannibal was in no condition
to argue with him and fell limply on the bed, to drift into a fitful
sleep, promising himself he would escape later.   He started having
fitful dreams composed of flashbacks... Vietnam, the POW camp, the
betrayal of the Hanoi Bank job, the nightmare of Kien Binh, the loss of
his integrity, bit by bit over the years... now at the gutter level, he
could fall no further from grace.   His dreams were interspersed with
images of the Team watching him, casting judgment on him, turning their
backs on him.   It was more than he could bear.   He moaned softly in
his traumatic sleep, tossing and turning restlessly on the narrow bed.

Kyle watched him dispassionately, wondering what images Smith's mind was
working with.   Smiling nastily to himself, he hoped they were only the
worst of Smith's lifelong experiences.   Satisfied that Smith was down
for the night, Kyle finally allowed himself to drift off to sleep.

******

Having no success in springing Murdock on such short notice, BA had to
go back to the VA in the morning to complete the paperwork.   Face hit
the streets as soon as it was light, patrolling back and forth over a
huge criss-cross grid, searching every corner, every alley.   Keeping in
constant contact with BA, as soon as the pilot was sprung, BA and
Murdock made tracks for the seamy downtown area.   Face suggested they
meet for brunch at Little Joe's, a favorite haunt of the daytime crowd,
and plan strategy from there.

Murdock was very quiet, saying little about what had happened.   Face
was worried, knowing that the pilot's zaniness was a better barometer to
his mental health than most people knew.   When Murdock was quiet, there
was some serious shit going down.

"So, how do we do this, Faceman?"   BA was really in no mood to be
sitting in this nice restaurant, while his commander was out on the
streets in agony.   "We gotta get goin', man!"

"Easy, BA.   We won't get anywhere without a plan.   What I propose is
that we do a reconnaissance, street by street.   Ask everybody on the
damned street if they've seen Hannibal."

Murdock nodded, still locked in his own torment at the turn of events.
"That works for me, Faceman.   Let's get going."   Murdock moved as if
to leave the table.

"Whoa, Murdock.   Now what do we do if we find him?   We've got to have
a plan ready because you damned well know Kyle does."

"I bash his brains in, thas' what, Faceman!"   BA's voice held a
strident tremor; his control was starting to break down.   He knew that
the longer it took to find Hannibal, the more danger Smith would be in.

"Besides that, BA?   Whoever finds Hannibal makes a beeline out of the
area.   Run a delta beta pattern, make sure there's no tail and then
head for the valley.   Okay?"

Baracus and the pilot nodded.   "Why don't we start off on foot,
Faceman?"   Murdock had added little to the planning til now.   "They
might have him unconscious on the sidewalk with some of the box people."

Peck nodded, soberly.   "Good idea, H.M."   He picked up the check and
went off the pay it.   When he returned he looked at his two miserable
friends. "Okay, guys... are we ready?"

They both nodded and stood up to join him on this most desperate and
necessary mission.   Exiting the restaurant, they headed for the cars.

********

Trying to locate Hannibal, they kept running into blank walls, blank
stares and total lack of any rumors or knowledge of the man they
sought.   BA was getting a really bad feeling the longer they were out
with nothing showing up.   "This is spooky - just like when I   was
searching for you and the Colonel. Ain't nobody knows nothin'.   I got a
real bad feelin' ╬bout this, Faceman."

Peck tried to inject some hope into the conversation.   "Well, we're
pretty sure that Dougie doesn't want Hannibal dead or he woulda' done it
by now.   He wants us to see him strung out.   I'm banking on it.   We
will find him... c'mon."   They plodded up and down the filthy streets,
periodically stopping to check out the human flotsam that lived on the
sidewalks, turning over bodies buried in reeking blankets, poking inside
cardboard ╬houses' set up along the sidewalks, trying to avoid the
excrement, trash and castoff liquor bottles and drug paraphanalia that
littered the sidewalks.

Finding nothing, they decided to split up, to make it faster and to
allow for more widespread searching.

******

Dougie trotted Hannibal out late in the morning for his a.m. dose.   He
maliciously informed Smith that he would have to make his own deals now
-- selling whatever he had or could come up with to pay for the drugs.
Dougie didn't intend to get involved anymore.

He took Smith down to the dealer of the earlier evening to haggle
with.   The dealer wanted to know what Hannibal had to bargain with.
Hannibal shrugged, spreading his hands - he had nothing now, his watch
was missing and he had no money on him.   The dealer then looked at him
with a different gaze - appraising him callously, sizing him up,
reaching out to grope his crotch. Smith's face blanched while he was
being graded so cavalierly; the words calling up the nightmare back in
Kien Binh.   Was he going to be pulled down to that -- servicing other
men?

The dealer then shook his head -- the man was not even worth using as a
prostitute.   He was adamant: Smith had to come up with something real
-- money or whatever.

Hannibal started to negotiate; using his conning skills, assuring the
man he could get money once he got away from Dougie.

The dealer laughed at that -- he'd heard that line a million times.
"Oh, sure, I'm gonna trust you and extend a line of credit -- not in
this business, pal."

The street dealers knew what was really going down with Smith as Dougie
had widely broadcast his intentions while getting Smith strung out.
They were all enjoying it immensely.   The self-righteous, do-gooder
"hero" had dropped down to their level.

Dougie's beeper went off and he checked his cel-phone   His troops,
although out of sight, had been watching the surrounding area and were
to report to Dougie when any of the Team showed up.   Peck had just been
seen cruising a block or so away.   Dougie decided to take a tangent
from his original plan.   He told the dealer he would stake the money,
but to play it out for the audience that would be showing up. He would
be just around the corner, but wanted Smith to squirm.   The dealer
liked it and agreed, beginning to harass Smith publicly.   Dougie moved
out of sight, hiding in the shadows of a dank doorway.

As Face drove slowly down the street, he suddenly spied Hannibal in a
doorway with a dealer.   He slammed on his brakes, leaped out of the
car, and went over to the men.   Smith looked up, saw Peck, went pale,
and was stuck in the throes of indecision - whether to stay or run.
Then he was caught as to why he even WANTED to run.   It hit him like a
load of bricks:   what he was doing was highly illegal - and Peck was...
had been his friend.   He didn't want Face to see him like this.

While wrestling with his indecision, Hannibal waited too long, and Peck
was all over him.   The dealer freaked and ran into the alley - this was
NOT part of the plan.   Hannibal was trapped.   He turned to try to run,
but Peck caught him easily and grabbed him, held him tight in his arms,
begging him to stop fighting to escape.   "Hannibal, dammit!   It's
me... it's Face!   Quit fighting, man.   Don't do this, Colonel!"
Smith was still trying to push away his friend.

"Hannibal, I'm your friend, dammit!   I'm not going to hurt you!"

Smith finally stopped struggling and gave in, too weak to fight
anymore.   Peck pulled Smith to him, while telling him they had to get
out of there.

About this time, Dougie stepped out from the shadows, and sneaked up
behind Peck, who was NOT paying attention, putting a 9mm automatic to
his head.   "Surprise.. we meet again."   Peck froze and then released
his death grip on Smith.

Hannibal was shaking, his need starting to manifest itself urgently.

Dougie waltzed Peck over to where Smith stood.   "What'cha gonna do,
Peck?"   As he taunted, he moved over to Smith and took his arm in a
less than friendly clinch, and began directing him over to Peck's car.
"Coming?"

Face did not, absolutely did NOT want to willingly put himself back into
the clutches of this madman, having just escaped them, but even more so,
he did NOT WANT to lose track of Hannibal again.   He'd sworn after Kien
Binh that Hannibal would never be sacrificed again for ANY reason.
Reluctantly, he followed them, watching Kyle's steady gun hand against
Smith's gut, wishing mightily that BA would come careening around the
corner.   However, this was real life and such did not happen.
Hannibal was too wasted by now to be of much use in his own defense, and
Dougie had him in a death grip in any case, with his pistol prominently
buried in Smith's belly.   Dougie waved Peck inside and then crossed to
the driver's side.   He pushed the woozy Smith in and shoved him over to
the middle   He never lost his aim for a moment, as he followed Smith
and slid in behind the wheel.

They drove back up to the valley and got out in a rough part of Sun
Valley, near a warehousing area.   Motioning Peck ahead of him, Kyle
still kept a tight hold on the wobbly Smith.

Dougie opened a doorway and Peck saw their earlier jail once again.   He
tried to resist going in, but when Kyle suddenly slammed the pistol deep
into Smith's gut, doubling him over, Peck lost his urge to resist.
Right or wrong, he was not going to compromise Hannibal's safety for
anything.

Once inside, Kyle escorted Peck back to his cell, locking him in and
then dropped Smith to the floor, stopping to hook up a pair of chained
ankle restraints.   Setting down the firepower, he once again set up a
hit, administering it to the semi-conscious man beneath him.   Hannibal
rolled away from him, happily euphoric once the drug coursed through his
entire body.

"He's out for the duration.   Now, Peck, you know I could do the same
for you.   Might be fun watching you take a hit.   Maybe not so much as
your ╬commander' there, just enough to leave you wanting some more."
He snickered crudely at the imprisoned scammer.   "Ain't that a hoot?
The great A-Team a buncha' junkies?"   Kyle threw his head back and
howled with manic laughter.   "I love it!"   Then with a conniving look
he stared straight at Peck, "Doesn't it go something like... when a plan
comes together?"

"Like hell!" was Peck's emphatic answer.

"Yeah, I could do that.   But y'know, I think it'll get to you more
having to watch him now."   Kyle's eyes held a malice Face hadn't
thought possible.   Snickering to himself, Kyle undid Hannibal's ankle
shackles, then let the limp man fall back to the floor.   "Yeah, I think
you're gonna have a real problem keeping his habit up..."   He moved
over to Peck, motioned him out of the cell, pantomimed him to hunker
down on the floor near Smith.   He applied the ankle restraints to Peck.
"You're good with locks, so it shouldn't take you too long to get out of
this."   He left a lockpick just out of reach.   "Have fun," then with a
nasty leer at the prostrate Smith, he taunted, "maybe he can help
you."   Laughing loudly now, Kyle left the cell, leaving the door wide
open.

Next

 


Payback by Rita Ractliffe

 

 


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