Disclaimer: Alas, I do not own the A-Team, much to my displeasure, but oh well...
A/N: This is my first A-Team fic, so any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. Enjoy!
Decker had gotten the drop on them. Hannibal conceded that. But they were also a long way from the nearest Army base, and Decker wasn't taking chances. He'd called to arrange an armed transport, but it wouldn't be here till morning.
Which is why they were all in this old small town jail that had definitely seen better days. It actually reminded Hannibal of the jail in Bad Rock, with only three cells side by side. The only difference was these cells were isolated in the back of the building, and the bull pen was in the front.
It was apparently a slow night, in a slow town, which was in Decker's favor. With Hannibal and Face as the only two prisoners, he'd put them in separate cells, with the third empty cell between them. He'd essentially taken over the cell block since the cops in this town had seemed unsure of how to handle two high risk prisoners. Decker had at least two men guarding every exit, as well as two inside the cell block to keep an eye on them.
At first Hannibal and Face had both antagonized the MPs to the point that Decker had gone so far as to threaten to shoot them if they didn't shut up. Eventually they'd settled in to get some rest, knowing they'd just have to wait for BA and Murdock to get them out of here.
Decker had come in a few times to check and make sure they were still there. When he saw the two men asleep on their bunks, he told his men he'd keep an eye on the prisoners while they went to go grab a snack and some coffee. It was a few moments after they'd left before he realized where the quiet noises were coming from.
Walking over to stand in front of the cell, Decker watched the lieutenant sleep restlessly. Though barely moving and making almost no sound, the sweat covered brow and expression set in a grimace gave away that the smooth talking conman was trapped in a nightmare.
For a moment, Decker just stood there unsurely.
"He'll be fine."
The calm, quiet voice broke Decker out of his reverie, and looked over at the colonel he'd thought was asleep.
Hannibal's eyes were barely open as he met Decker's gaze. "But I wouldn't recommend getting too close."
Giving the briefest of nods, Decker turned his eyes back to the young man before him. As the moments stretched by, he couldn't help but wonder. And finally he asked the question that had been bugging him for a while.
"Did you know then?"
Hannibal hadn't yet taken his eyes off Decker. He knew what Decker was asking, but when he didn't answer right away, Decker looked back at him and elaborated.
"How young he was."
"Not at first," Hannibal answered honestly. When Decker raised a skeptical eyebrow, Hannibal retorted, "You didn't either Rod."
Decker looked away. Back at the lieutenant, as he remembered his first encounter with the kid.
Decker had just entered the Officer's Club when he noticed a group of men at one of the corner tables. Frowning when he saw the cards and the money on the table, the colonel made his way over to the group.
He'd caught his own men gambling, but went a little lighter on their punishments after they'd informed him that most of the soldiers on the base were losing their money to some new guy, a pretty boy lieutenant who everyone suspected of cheating, but no one could prove it.
Decker saw a young blond haired blue-eyed lieutenant on the opposite side of the table. Even with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth, the kid was wearing a smirk that grated on Decker's last nerve.
"Colonel!" A few of the other soldiers at the table snapped to attention when Decker made his presence known.
The lieutenant, however, just continued shuffling the cards without even looking up. "Want me to deal you in Colonel?"
Decker glared at the flippant tone. "I suggest you boys pack it up before I call the MPs to shut you down. Gambling's not allowed on base," he growled.
The other soldiers heeded the warning and scattered, but the lieutenant remained where he was.
Smiling up at Decker he remarked, "Now what'd you go and do that for? We had a good game going."
Taking a deep breath, Decker walked over next to the kid. "I don't think you heard me Lieutenant. I said pack it up."
The warning in the colonel's voice could not have been more evident. But the lieutenant merely sighed dramatically, as if having to deal with Decker was a huge inconvenience.
"Yeah, yeah," he waved his hand nonchalantly. Stubbing out his cigarette, he very slowly began putting the cards back in the box. "What bug crawled up your pants?" he muttered, almost inaudibly.
But Decker heard him.
Surprise flashed across the lieutenant's face as Decker hauled him out of the chair by his collar.
"Hey, hey, hey!" he protested.
"You got a real mouth on you kid," Decker growled as he shoved the lieutenant into the wall.
An exasperated eye roll was the response. "So they tell me," the lieutenant grumbled under his breath, only half-heartedly trying to loosen the colonel's grip on his fatigues.
"Gambling. Insubordination. And that's just within the last five minutes. What other charges am I gonna find if I keep looking?" Decker's voice was hard. But the kid didn't seem to notice, or care.
"Well, at least I know how to brush my teeth." He turned his head to the side. "Damn, Colonel, you got a serious case of bad breath."
Decker's eyes flashed dangerously, but the lieutenant continued anyway.
"If you need some better toothpaste or mouthwash, I'm sure I'd be able to find you something."
Before Decker could vocalize the threat on the tip of his tongue, a familiar voice behind him spoke first.
"Decker, what are you doing with my Lieutenant?"
As Decker set his jaw, he glared at the young man in his grasp, who was wearing an infuriating cocky smirk.
Turning around to the voice, Decker reluctantly let go of the lieutenant. "I should've known he was one of yours, Smith."
Hannibal smirked as he and Decker stared at each other, neither paying attention to the lieutenant who was trying to smooth out his fatigues where Decker had grabbed him.
Decker shook his head. The kid had been a grade A pain in the ass since day one. He didn't want to admit it, but Hannibal was right, Decker hadn't realized how young he was then. But he should've. All the signs had been there. Then he remembered what Hannibal said.
"When did you figure it out?"
"When he told me he wanted to extend his tour."
Silence fell for a few moments before Decker spoke.
"You could've sent him home."
Hannibal closed his eyes again. "No I couldn't."
"You know why," Hannibal said quietly, opening his eyes and staring right at Decker.
The two colonels held each other's gaze for a minute before Decker looked away. He did know why. Peck was an orphan, and by that time he would've been close to eighteen anyway. And with as much trouble as he always seemed to find himself in, there was no doubt in Decker's mind that he would've ended up in jail, or worse. Ironic, in Decker's opinion, considering what had happened anyway, with the POW camp and ending up as a fugitive for his entire adult life not spent in a war zone.
"You ever think he'd have been better off if you had?" Decker asked, honestly curious.
"No." Hannibal's answer was quick and simple.
Decker turned a questioning glance toward him, but Hannibal had looked over at his lieutenant.
"He needed us as much as we needed him."
A few minutes later the guards returned from their break.
"Get some sleep Smith. You wouldn't wanna fall asleep on the way to your new home," Decker said as he started to leave. "It'll be the last time you see the world outside of prison for about twenty years."
Hannibal chuckled, putting his hands back under his head as he stretched. "We'll see Decker."
One week later…
Decker sighed exasperatedly. It'd been a week, and still no sign of the A-Team. Baracus and another man, Murdock if Decker had to guess, had somehow managed to tamper with the transport vehicles so that they broke down on one of the backroads out of town, where they'd been waiting. Smith and Peck had escaped custody, again. After that the A-Team had disappeared. No one had seen them since. Decker knew they were laying low.
Shaking his head, Decker snapped at the young soldier who appeared at his door. "What?!"
"Colonel Decker, sir, you have a package."
The private was obviously rattled, and Decker softened his tone a little, knowing it wasn't this kid's fault the A-Team had escaped again.
"Dismissed," Decker told him after taking the package.
The soldier offered a quick salute before hastily making his way back out of his commander's office.
Decker frowned at the package. No return address. His frown turned to a scowl when he dumped the contents on his desk. There was also a note in neat handwriting.
If these don't work, you may want to see a doctor.
The colonel glared at the toothpaste and mouthwash on his desk, growling as he crumpled up the note in his fist.
"Cheeky little —"