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The Fire in the Flint                

By emmastark


Rated: ~R~

Disclaimer: All original TAT characters belong to Stephen J. Cannell and Universal.

Warning: Violence, a little language, a little bathroom humor.

Comments: Please

Summary: Another plan fails to go quite as expected. But then, it isn't the good times that define us… it's the difficult ones.

Special Note: This is awfully late, but still... this one's for you, Snowy.  It ended up being more focused on Hannibal and Face than Murdock and Face, somehow (these capricious muses…).  But I hope you like. There's a little "h" and a little "c" in there <g>.  I wish you the best year yet, full of happiness and writing and reading and friends.  Take care! 




The Fire in the Flint



"Personality is born out of pain. It is the fire shut

up in the flint."


   -JB Yeats (Letters to His Son, WB Yeats, and




"There's only one problem with your theory, Hollister," Hannibal said.  "We don't do deals with scumbags.  And you're..."


"...a scumbag," Face said.  "Hannibal, do you ~always~ have to antagonize the bad guys?"


Hannibal grinned.  "Yeah," he said.


Hollister's eyes narrowed.  "I don't think you think we mean business, Smith."


"I don't think you're capable of that much thinking," Hannibal said.  "Why don't we..."


"Tommy," Hollister said.  "Show Mr. Smith that we mean business."


Tommy lifted his shotgun and fired into Face's chest.


Face's body smashed back against the wall, and he crumpled to the ground.


Hannibal lunged forward, but Tommy jacked another round into the chamber and shoved the end of the barrel against Hannibal's chest.


"Bring 'im," Hollister said.


Hannibal stared at the still form on the warehouse floor.  Tommy jabbed Hannibal in the ribs with the gun barrel.


Face didn't move.


Hollister and Tommy and Tommy's shotgun pushed Hannibal ahead of them, deep into the bowels of the huge building.




Murdock's hands closed around the dash when the speaker roared with a shotgun blast, then cut out.  He and BA looked at each other, then grabbed their M-16s and headed for the warehouse through the silent dark.




Tommy prodded Hannibal into a storeroom and locked the door. 


Hannibal looked around him. 


No windows. 


No air ducts.


Hollister shouted through the closed door.  "You're going up in flames, Smith."  He laughed. 


"I'm going to get the papers out of the office," Hollister told Tommy.  "You get the gas cans."




Murdock tapped BA on the shoulder.  BA nodded at the hand signal and headed for the front entrance to the warehouse, moving silently through the deep shadow along the outer wall.


Murdock went around to the back of the building.  A flight of stairs clung to the outside of the building and lead onto the catwalks.  Murdock took them two at a time.


His mind kept flashing on the sound of the gun.


There was no one at the upper door.  Murdock slipped through it, then stepped out onto the black metal catwalk.  It moved a little under his feet, but that didn't bother him.  He liked to be up in the air.  He was good in the air.


He moved fast, looking down, looking around.  Trying to figure out where Hannibal and Face might be from what he'd overheard on the wire. 


He tried not to think about the sound of the gun.




Hollister stuffed the last of the incriminating papers into his briefcase.


It wouldn't close.


He smashed the lid down three more times, hard, but that didn't help. 


He grabbed a handful of the papers and stuck them down the front of his shirt.  Then another handful, until he was finally able to close the briefcase's small, gold clasps.




Tommy hauled two twenty gallon gas cans down the narrow passageway, toward the office.


He'd always liked the smell of gas. 


The cans were open (he hadn't bothered to screw on the lids), and a little spilled down onto his white tennis shoes. 


Tommy smiled when Mr. Hollister stuck his head out of his office and told him to start pouring the gasoline out.  He hoped Mr. Hollister would let him light the match.


He'd always liked fires.


The two of them walked quickly between the crates and boxes of illegally imported furniture from Brazil, and Tommy thought of Hansel and Gretel walking through the woods.  Furniture woods.


He spilled out gasoline instead of breadcrumbs as they went along.




BA busted through the front entrance of the warehouse and knocked out the men who'd been guarding it.  Grabbed 'em, and knocked their heads together, and tossed them out onto the pavement.  Two in one blow.


He moved into the warehouse's interior.


Crates and boxes were stacked twenty feet high.  In some places, his shoulders brushed boxes on both sides as he wound his way between them.


The warehouse was as big as two football fields, put together.


BA scowled.  Hannibal and Face could be anywhere.




Hannibal rooted through the piles of rubbish in the storeroom.  Always start by assessing what materials you have at hand. 


Even if you've just seen your Lieutenant get hit in the chest with a blast from a 12-guage pump-action Remington shotgun.


He found a couple lengths of metal pipe in amongst the debris.  A few broken four by fours.  He dragged them into a small pile and looked around the room.


No windows; no air ducts.


There was, however, a door.


A locked door, but one with the hinges handily placed on the inside.


Hannibal grinned.


Face always scoffed at him going through the front door, but so often it was...




Hannibal frowned.  He picked up a length of pipe and a length of four by four.  He used the pipe as a hammer, and the four by four as a wedge.  He banged on the first rusty pin until it slipped up and out of the hinge, then started on the second. 


He was just loosening the third pin when he smelled smoke.




Murdock's feet moved fast and sure along the catwalk.


The warehouse was a maze, but he could see a little bit more from above than if he'd been down on the ground.  One of the things he'd liked about flying from the very beginning.  Gave a guy perspective.


He saw Face and the fire at the same time.




Tommy stared at the orange flames.  Watched them lick at the pale crates and rise up, lighting the warehouse's dark interior.


"Come on, you idiot," Hollister said.  "Let's get out of here."


They started toward the side exit, making their way quickly between the stacks of boxes.


Hollister's head lifted when he heard a shout from above.




"Face!" Murdock shouted.


Murdock recognized the gray suit that Face had been wearing immediately, and the dark blond hair. 


The crumpled form on the warehouse floor wasn't moving.


Fire swallowed up freight boxes like they were kindling.  A ravening beast, rushing across the huge, open room toward Face, eating everything in its path.


Murdock's eyes scanned the warehouse desperately for a way down (nothing near), for Hannibal (where the hell was he?), for BA. 


He found Hollister and Tommy.  And Tommy was aiming a shotgun straight at him.




Hannibal kicked away the pins and grabbed the door by its loose hinges.  He yanked it open.  The lock on the other side gave, and the door crashed to the floor.


The passageway was filled with black smoke that smelled vaguely of paint thinner and gasoline and varnish and burning wood. 


Hannibal pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and tied it over his nose and mouth.


He ran back toward where he'd last seen Face.




The distinctive sound of a round jacking into the chamber of a shotgun echoed through the warehouse, followed by the deafening roar of the shotgun firing.


BA looked around him wildly, but all he could see were boxes.  A maze of boxes.  He could hear and smell fire, but no alarm or extinguishers were going off.


"Where you at, foo'?!" he shouted.


"Up here!"


BA climbed up the side of one of the stacks of crates.


Murdock was dangling from the edge of the catwalk, fifty feet off the ground.  He had one arm locked around a metal strut.




"There!  There!  There!" Murdock shouted.  He flexed one foot and pointed it down, then curled into a ball around the strut as Tommy fired at him again.


Buckshot hailed into the roof of the warehouse.


BA jumped down and ran, full out, toward where Murdock had pointed, M-16 in hand.




Pale gray ash fell like snow.  The fire crackled and spit.  The warehouse felt like an oven, heating up.


Hannibal ducked out of the passageway.


Face wasn't where he'd left him.


The smoke had a long way to rise, but falling ash had begun to obscure Hannibal's vision.  He ran over to the place where Face had been hit, hunted around the boxes, but found nothing.


Debris filtered into his lungs, even through the handkerchief, making him cough.  The air was hot.


When he heard the shotgun fire, his heart constricted in his chest. 


He ran toward the sound.




BA hurtled around a burning stack of boxes and lifted the M-16 to his shoulder, aiming at Hollister. 


"Where they at, sucka?  Ah'm gonna break you in pieces.  Where they at?"


Hollister pointed over BA's shoulder.  BA scowled. But the muscles in his back tightened reflexively when he felt the shotgun barrel stick into it.


He lowered his M-16.


Hollister grinned.




Murdock uncurled from around the metal strut and let himself dangle from the catwalk for a moment. 


His eyes were streaming from the acrid smoke that rose around him.  But he ignored that.  Ignored the ache in his arms.


With just a little momentum, he thought he could hit a thirty foot high stack of boxes that lay beneath him, and to his left.  A little momentum, and a little luck. 


Maybe a little momentum and a lot of luck.


He breathed out, focused, and swung, then swung again. On his third swing, he let go of the catwalk and hurtled down...




When Hannibal got close to where he thought the shot had come from, he slowed.  He moved carefully around the burning crates.  Looking for Hollister.




Murdock landed hard.  He sprawled across the top crate, and nearly fell off it.  His hands dug into the unfinished wood.  He clung by bloody fingers, then scrambled up.


Fire surrounded him.  The tall stack of crates was like an island.  Down was no longer an option.


There was another stack of crates, though, not too far away.


Another island.


He judged the distance (quickly, automatically) and jumped again.




Tommy poked the big black man with the strange hair and feathered earrings in the back again with the shotgun.  The big man lowered his M-16, then dropped it carefully to the warehouse floor.


Mr. Hollister smiled, and Tommy smiled too.


Everything was burning.


"Bring him," Mr. Hollister shouted.  The fire was so loud, it was hard to hear over it.  Strange, that fire would be loud.  But it roared like an animal.  Like a lion would roar.  An orange lion.


Mr. Hollister turned to go.


Tommy prodded the big man with his shotgun again, but when he tried to take a step, his foot only lifted an inch.  He swung his arms up and out, but he couldn't keep himself from falling forward.  He cried out as he fell.  The big man spun around.  Then some kind of howling creature leapt onto Tommy's back.




Hollister backed away slowly. 


They'd gotten Tommy.


One of the A-Team had leapt down from somewhere onto Tommy's back, and was holding him while the other hit him.  They weren't looking in Hollister's direction. 


Hollister slipped through a narrow opening between two crates, clutching the briefcase full of incriminating papers to his chest.


He walked right into Hannibal's fist.




BA tied Tommy's hands behind his back, then threw a length of rope to Hannibal.  Hollister was unconscious, but Hannibal tied his hands anyhow. Tight.


Murdock disappeared behind the nearest crate.


Face was lying there on his side, with his arms wrapped around his ribs.  He looked up at Murdock, smiling faintly.  "How'd you know... I was here?" he said.  His voice was breathy and shallow.


"Who else do we know who'd incapacitate the enemy by tying his shoe laces together?" Murdock said.  He put his hand on Face's shoulder as Face started to cough.


"You might," Face said raspily.


Murdock grinned.  "Yeah," he said.  "But I knew where I was the whole time, so I couldn't have done it."


Hannibal pushed past Murdock and knelt down beside Face.


Face struggled not to cough.  Coughing was bad.


Coughing hurt.


Hannibal slid his arms under Face's shoulders and knees and (with a little help from Murdock) got to his feet.   


Murdock brushed a burning ember off Hannibal's shoulder.


The smoke was thick, now, and it burned their eyes and throats.  The fire roared and something exploded in the back of the warehouse.  Stacks of burned crates had begun to collapse.


Hannibal jerked his chin at BA.  "Bring Hollister." 


BA threw Hollister over his shoulder and grabbed the briefcase. 


Murdock jerked Tommy to his feet and shoved his revolver into Tommy's back.  "This a way, Colonel," he said.


Hannibal nodded.


They wound their way through the building. 


Murdock had an unerring sense of direction, but they had to backtrack several times because their way was blocked by fire.


At one point, Tommy's tennis shoes caught on fire.  He shrieked and shrieked.  Murdock used his cap to beat out the flames.


They made it to the side door.


Hannibal glanced over his shoulder.


The whole interior of the warehouse was on fire.  Heat and smoke and ash and orange flames had taken the place, and there was nothing else left. 


He carried Face out.




BA went and got the two guys he'd clobbered when he first entered the warehouse, and tied them up with Hollister and Tommy.  Murdock pulled a tube of red lipstick that he (inexplicably) had in his coat pocket and wrote the words "Bad Guyz" on the cement, along with "Courtesy of the A-Team."  He wrote "Evidence" on Hollister's briefcase, and set it next to him.


Hollister came to before they took off.  His face grew red, then purple with anger.  He kept trying to shout through the gag.


Hannibal never looked back at him.


He lay Face down on the long back seat of the van. 


Face's eyes fluttered open (streaming from the smoke in the warehouse).  He still had his arms wrapped around himself.  "Hey, Hannibal," he said.


"Hey, Face."  Hannibal took out his handkerchief and wiped the sweat and tears and soot off Face's cheeks and forehead.  He wiped Face's nose off while he was at it.


Face grinned a little.  "Father Maghill... used to do that... for the little kids," he said.  'Cept he... he'd always say, 'blow'."


"What are fathers for?" Hannibal thought, but he didn't say it.  He stuffed the handkerchief back in his pocket and wiped his own sooty face with the sleeve of his jacket.


BA drove out slowly, careful not to jar the men in back, and left an anonymous tip with the fire and police departments on the phone in the van.  He took them to Face's place, since it was closest, a Marina del Rey high-rise where Face had been playing producer for the last few weeks.


It was lucky it was three in the morning.  The place was quiet.  Murdock fished Face's keys out of his pocket.  They snuck in the back way and took the service elevator up to the twenty seventh floor.


The apartment was white.  All white.  Wall to wall carpet, furniture, walls, drapes, bedding.


Hannibal carried Face into the bedroom and laid him down on the white comforter, leaving a trail of black footprints behind him.


Face curled around himself protectively.


Murdock shucked his jacket off on the floor and crawled up on the big bed beside Face.  He turned Face onto his back and pushed his legs down gently.  "Hey, muchacho," he said.  "Let Hannibal look, 'kay?"


Face groaned, but let Murdock ease his arms out from around his sides. 


Face's clothes had been ripped to shreds by the blast of the shotgun.  Hannibal took out his pocket knife and cut the tatters of Face's jacket and shirt off him.


Murdock's eyes were dark.  BA kept hitting his fist into his palm.


"Aw... Hannibal," Face said.  "Did... you see what they... did... to my suit?"


"Yeah, kid."  Face's kevlar vest velcroed shut at the shoulders and sides.  Hannibal carefully lifted the straps.  They made a tearing sound as he pulled the fasteners apart.


"Do you... have any... idea what Armani... goes for these days?"


Face hissed as Hannibal eased the kevlar vest off and away.


"I'm not playing... Lester anymore, Hannibal," Face said.  "Bad things... always happen... to Lester."


Murdock ran his hand over his wild hair and looked up at the ceiling.


BA shoved the first aid kit into Hannibal's hands.


The kevlar vest had protected Face.  The blast from the shotgun hadn't penetrated through its tightly woven armor.  But the force of the blast was tremendous at such close range.  Like being hit in the chest with a baseball bat.


The kevlar had actually pressed into Face's skin. Hannibal placed a bandage over the pooling blood. Purple bruising radiated out from the center of Face's chest. 


BA's voice was rough.  "Glad you was wearin' thet vest, Faceman."


Face clenched his teeth together a little tighter. "Trust in Allah... but tie your camel," he said.  "Old Arabic proverb."


Hannibal felt his way very, very carefully down Face's ribcage.  The raw, scraped skin wasn't bleeding too bad, but Hannibal's fingers were still red and slick.


None of the ribs felt out of place, but three or four had cracked with the force of the blow.


Hannibal wiped his hands on a towel.  "How you feeling, Face?"


"Like a... million dollars," Face said.  "Right after it's gone through the printing press." 


Murdock grabbed Face's shoulders when he started coughing again, and supported him against the painful, wracking spasms.


When Face stopped coughing, Hannibal taped a bandage over his chest and rummaged through the first aid kit.  He pulled out a bottle of strong painkillers, read over the directions and shook two of them out.  BA filled a glass of water.  Murdock lifted Face up a little.


"Drink this down, Face."  Hannibal set the pills on Face's tongue and held the glass to Face's lips.


Face swallowed them.


Murdock lay Face down again.


All of them except Hannibal fell asleep eventually, in various degrees of smoky sootiness, on white couches and white chairs.


Hannibal sat in a hard chair next to the window and watched the moon sink down into the ocean.




Hannibal's thoughts had been drifting.  His mind tended to revisit all possibilities, when he let it run.  Follow all potential scenarios like a mouse running a maze.  Maybe more like a man running a maze, checking each route methodically, then trying the next



He was a man of action.  You had to be, really, to be a leader.  But that didn't mean you didn't second guess some of your own decisions in the privacy of your own head, in the quiet time after the day was done.


He was brought back to the present by the sound of Face... giggling.


Face was still lying flat on his back on the bed.  His arms were raised a little, though.


Hannibal went over to the bed.


Face's eyes were closed.


"Face?" Hannibal said.


After a long moment, Face's eyes opened.  "Hannibal!" he said.  Like they hadn't seen each other in a year and a half.


"What are you doing, Face?"


"Levitating to the bathroom," Face said, very seriously.  But then he started giggling again.


Murdock looked in at them from the doorway.  "I think you gave him a little too much of that stuff, Hannibal."


Hannibal shot Murdock a look, then put one hand on Face's shoulder.  "Do you have to make a trip to the head, Face?"


Face smiled up at Hannibal.  "I've gotta piss like a racehorse," he said.


Murdock grinned through a yawn. 


"Help me get him up, Murdock."


Hannibal and Murdock carefully hoisted Face to his feet. 


Face hung there for a moment before he thought to get his feet under him.  His head lolled over a little, and he noticed Murdock.  "Hi, Murdock!" he said brightly.


"Hi, Faceguy.  How you doin'?"


Face's head lolled again, and he looked down at his bandaged chest.  "I don' know.  It's all covered up. I think… did something happen?"


Murdock patted Face's shoulder, then he and Hannibal half-carried Face into the bathroom. 


Face untangled his arms enough to pull down his boxers, but then sort of drifted off again.


Hannibal nudged Face's arm.  "Ready, aim, fire, Lieutenant."


Face looked over his shoulder at Hannibal, giggled, then focused back on what he was doing.


When Face was done, Hannibal and Murdock helped him back to the bed.  He was asleep before his head hit the pillow.




Hannibal was sitting tipped back in his chair next to the bed when Face woke up again.  Murdock was snoring softly on the bed beside Face, cocooned in a white sheet.


Face moaned softly.  "Who hit me?"


Hannibal got up from his chair and sat down next to Face.  "How are you feeling, Lieutenant?"


Face glanced up at him.  "You've really… got to stop asking me that, Hannibal."


Hannibal lifted up the edge of the bandage he'd placed on Face's chest.  The abraded skin had stopped bleeding, and was starting to clot and crust.  The bruising had darkened to deep purple.


Hannibal pulled some salve out of the first aid kit.


Face held out his hand.  "I can do it."


Hannibal gave it to him, then sat and watched as Face opened the tube and awkwardly began to spread the salve over his chest.


Face shifted, then winced.  "Would… could you strap them up?"


Hannibal shook his head.  "Only if we have to move. It keeps you from breathing deep, and can give you pneumonia."


Face nodded and wiped his hands off on a towel.


Hannibal took out the bottle of pain pills and shook one out into his hand, then passed it to Face.


"Just one?"


"Two was a little much."


Face didn't argue.  He swallowed the pill, then let Hannibal help him take a drink of water.  He laid back down.


They were quiet for a few minutes.  The bedroom and front room of the apartment had floor to ceiling windows along the west-facing wall.  Hannibal looked out over the lights of the city and the blue dark of the ocean.  Lights from planes dotted the sky,

blinking white and red as they took off from and landed at LAX.


"You smell like smoke," Face said, after awhile.


Hannibal looked at himself.  His hands were clean up to the elbow, where he'd washed.  But his upper arms and t-shirt were covered with soot.  Face wasn't much better.  His dark blond hair was gray with ash.


"I can't wait to see what my apartment looks like," Face muttered.


Hannibal grinned.  Then he reached in his pocket and pulled out a cigar.


Face patted himself for matches automatically, but he'd lost them at some point, over the last twenty four hours.


Hannibal shrugged, and held the unlit cigar in his hand absently.


Face's breathing was easing a little, and deepening as the pain medication kicked in.


Hannibal stretched out his legs.  "How'd you make it over to where Tommy was holding BA?" he asked quietly.


"Heard a shot," Face said.  "Saw Murdock up in the rafters.  Thought I'd better crawl that way, just in case."


Hannibal nodded.


Face glanced up at Hannibal.  Hannibal was gazing out the window again.


"I'm okay," Face said.  "You don't have to stay up."


"You were pretty stoned when you woke up before."


Face groaned.  "Oh, great.  I didn't say anything, did I?"


"Nothing that Murdock won't hold against you for the next month or so."


They were quiet for awhile.  Listening to the sound of Murdock's even, whistling breathing.  The scent of smoke rising between them.


Hannibal listened to Face's breathing ease into the quiet rhythm of sleep.  The image and sound of the shotgun firing into Face's chest receded a bit in Hannibal's mind.  Face crashing against the wall and crumpling to the floor.  He didn't forget; he never

forgot.  But it was superceded by the sight of the man lying there beside him.  Alive.


Dawn crept across the sky, pale as a pearl.


When Hannibal was sure Face was asleep, he reached over and rested his hand on Face's hand.






The First Time by emmastark
The Fire In The Flint by emmastark



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