This story is based on the 2010 A-Team movie with Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper. Some language and reference to character injury as well as Face pondering his romantic endeavors but that's it. I do not own the characters.
Face casually leaned back against the chair and overlooked the nighttime skyline of Chicago.
With his feet propped up on the railing and his unbuttoned dress shirt allowing the chilly breeze to hit his bare chest, he took another sip of Crown Royal straight from the bottle- a toast to the latest apartment he had scammed for the team.
Today, he was the adopted son of famous chef and restaurant owner Rudolf Burkstein; attractive, single and looking to spend the week in Chicago for a good time.
Even though Hannibal had frowned when he'd put on a tuxedo to go downstairs for a few hours; he let him off the hook without any questions. After all, the stories he made up were his, and his only. He deserved to find a way to enjoy the false reality every once in a while.
The apartment was beautiful and left them with ample space and four separate bedrooms. A large professional kitchen and cozy dining room were the tasteful centerpiece. No doubt Rudolf loved to stay here and cook for guests. Across the kitchen was the living room area with large leather couches and a nice size plasma TV, in case one would ever get bored overlooking the city from almost every room.
Their last job had turned into a bigger mess than expected, leaving B.A. on crutches and Murdock with a broken arm after their plane crash-landed in a corn field in Kansas. Once again Lynch had gotten too close for comfort and interfered with their plans, forcing them to cut their good-byes short and running off to a local airport to grab the first plane they could find.
Despite ending up with a burning prop in midair, they had managed to escape serious injury and began heading toward Illinois, where Hannibal was contacted about a local gang terrorizing small businesses in several Chicago suburbs. It sounded good enough to Face, especially since they'd take a few days off, allowing both B.A. and Murdock some much needed rest before jumping back into action.
Face took a deep breath, enjoyed the lingering smell of expensive perfume on his clothes.
The women at the bar were a wild bunch, all married to rich businessmen who were gone for most of the year and Face quickly felt like an antelope amongst a pack of lions. Before he knew it, six of them had gathered around him, buying him drinks and making small talk about their plans after dinner.
Face enjoyed the attention and eventually ended up in bed with one of them, promising the rest he'd be here all week if they needed anything. It was an arrangement he could live with; they needed him and he needed them, no strings attached. In another week he'd never see them again and nothing would ever come out of it. He'd slip back into a new role someplace else and begin his game all over again.
Face looked up when he heard the slider behind him open and saw B.A. on his crutches, carefully walking out onto the balcony to join him. Considering it was past 4AM, he was surprised to see the big guy up and about.
By the time Face had returned to the apartment, all lights had been turned off, so he figured his team was fast asleep, giving him the rare opportunity to have some time alone to gather his thoughts.
"What are you doing awake?", he asked and watched the big guy sit down on one of the expensive Adirondack chairs, giving the otherwise modern and stylish apartment a cozy feel.
Even from several feet away, B.A. looked worn down, almost too tired for his usual cantakerous attitude. His sprained ankle was taped up to keep it immobile until it could heal, but simultaneously rendering him semi-disabled because he couldn't drive the van and needed help with taking stairs.
When B.A. didn't answer right away, Face let his tired eyes drift back to the skyline, watching more and more lights appear while others disappeared.
He wondered about the people in these apartments and what their lives were like; if they had spouses or where they were leaving to. A daily routine like theirs was something he'd never known.
Besides the few months in military training and the rigid church schedules at the Catholic orphanage, he never had much exposure to repetition and he didn't miss it- in fact, it grew him bored stiff.
Face enjoyed every day being different.
Life deserved to be kept interesting.
"What am I doing awake?", B.A. answered, once he put his injured ankle up onto another chair, "Hannibal thought you fool got lost somewhere when you wasn't back by midnight!"
Face smiled, showing off his immaculate teeth, as he continued to stare at the skyline.
"Bosco…", he pleaded facetiously and took another sip of Crown, enjoying the burning sensation it left in his throat and chest, "Should I be afraid that my chariot will turn back into a pumpkin by midnight?"
Despite the half-hearted joke, his friend didn't seem the least bit amused.
"No, but I was gonna turn your head into one, if you'd have gotten us in trouble again!"
Rolling his eyes, Face set the bottle aside and shook his head defensively.
Surely, there may have been a few occasions in which some of his women may have possibly given away clues of their whereabouts, but it certainly was not the norm- and it didn't give B.A. a reason to talk to him like that.
"What's this damn attitude about?", he shot back, trying hard to hide the faint slur in his speech, turning around in his chair to face his team member.
Since spending six months in a military prison in California, B.A. had changed a lot. It seemed that he had matured from his old self into a gentler, family oriented guy who was constantly looking out for his team.
Face didn't mind it as long as it didn't interfere with his lifestyle or made him feel caged. He knew damn well that B.A. disagreed with the way he ran his life, trying to get him to read The Book or some of the stories about Gandhi.
Obviously, growing up in the orphanage had given him plenty of opportunity to study the bible and there was nothing in it remotely reflecting the way Face looked at life or how he wanted to live it. He was a warrior, trained to fight, trained to kill and to lay down his life for others if the need arose. The A-Team was his family, and Face wouldn't hesitate to a bullet for any of his brothers.
But occasionally, when the rare opportunity of some free time arose, he had to get away from all of this for a while, just to have fun and enjoy life the way he liked best. After all, moral and ethics didn't always fit in the overhead compartment...
"You was lookin' like a damn pimp hustlin' all these women at the bar, man. Now look at you all drunk and smelling like a whorehouse."
Leave it to B.A. to compare Chanel perfume to the smell of a brothel.
Face sensed the concerned tone in his voice and didn't take offense. But for the record, he was not drunk. He was relaxed.
"It's called fun Bosco, maybe if you'd try it sometime you wouldn't have such a terrible attitude.", Face hissed and took another sip of Crown.
In return, B.A. snorted disapprovingly and put his crutches aside.
"I couldn't sleep with another woman every week. They call it making love for a reason."
Face almost choked on the shot of whiskey. He was used to conversations like this with Hannibal, but certainly not B.A.
Regardless thereof, what he did in his free time was nobody's business but his own. Normally he would change topics now or walk away in a hurry, but then again the Crown was doing its job and kept him firmly seated with his tongue loser than he cared to admit.
"I never called it making love.", Face mumbled emotionlessly and looked straight ahead, not wanting to meet B.A.'s questioning eyes that morning.
With sunrise approaching, the cold breeze coming off the lake was picking up, sending the occasional wind gust his way, and chills down his spine along with it.
Ever so slowly, the Crown was making him dizzy.
Not much of a drinker in the first place; Face had indulged a little too much, when he spent the night at the bar after his team left to go back up to the apartment. Looking down at Rudolf's expensive dress pants he'd borrowed for the night, his mind travelled back to the woman he slept with, wondering if she'd even remember him by tonight.
When the uncomfortable silence threatened to take over, B.A. cleared his throat, before speaking up again.
"Once this is all over…you know, when Hannibal clears our names…don't you ever want to have a real life?...Get married and have children?"
Face almost laughed at the irony. Was B.A. honestly thinking he'd turn into a family man? Where had he been for the last ten years?
"I am not that sort of material, Bosco.", Face finally countered in somber certainty and stood up, grabbing a hold of the railing to steady himself.
Without having to look, he could sense B.A. staring over at him, trying to find some humor in that statement when there was none to be found. Truth be told, Face had no plans to ever get married or have a family.
He was perfectly fine spending the rest of his days as a lone wolf.
"You and Sosa looked pretty serious at one time.", B.A. continued, surprising him for the second time that morning.
Looking at the road down below and watching the cars go by, Face decided that it wasn't a good day to talk about her. He wasn't going to spoil the night he'd just had by ripping open those old scars, his anger and disappointment fueled by the strong liquor in his system too powerful to unleash.
"What about you?", he asked in return, hoping to divert the direction this conversation was headed.
A content smile spread across B.A.'s face, as he looked towards the skyline.
"I'm gonna have me a big house somewhere out west. With a white fence and a large front porch.", he explained, outlining the fence line with his outstretched arms, "And kids. I want at least six of them. And a three stall garage in the back as my shop, man. There'll be plenty of room for everybody there, even you guys...and my momma! And I'll make sure my children never have to deal with the bullshit I grew up with."
Face smiled at the thought of B.A. having a house full of kids and a wife to come home to every night. A big guy like him with such a kind and gentle heart would make a wonderful father.
Silence settled between the two men as Face pondered B.A.'s vision quietly.
Hannibal had given them hope that the running would end someday, that they would be free again and able to live a normal life. But just like the Colonel, Face knew the system and saw how the facts had been twisted to make it nearly impossible to prove their innocence in a military court.
If they wanted to get off on one charge, they'd have to plead guilty to another and vice versa. At the same time, the longer they were on the run and the more assignments they took on to survive; the longer the list of things that they were being charged with became.
It was a self-fulfilling prophecy with no way out.
The only person left alive to prove their innocence was Lynch, who obviously had no intention of clearing their names and in fact was on a rampage to find and kill them to cover up what was left of the conspiracy.
Face had seen the writing on the wall back in Germany, once Hannibal revealed Morrison as the secret Arab contact, knowing that all those lies had spread too far up the ladder. Connecting all the dots and realizing what it meant for their future made him lose his temper and draw a gun.
His military career was all Face ever could be proud of, an achievement that was truly his own. And now, the very people he'd served under took that one piece of pride from him and irreversibly tarnished his name. Secretly, part of him still wished Hannibal would have let him put a bullet in Morrison's head for what did to the team.
They had been on the run for a couple of years now and for all Face knew, the only way to end this cat and mouse game was if Lynch got killed- or they did.
Hannibal had tried to keep their spirits up, allowing them to dream of a better life while taking on jobs as soldiers of fortune and Face was grateful that B.A. had bought into it. Even Murdock sometimes talked about taking on a part time job, learning what it meant to lead a normal life.
But Face did not bother to make plans of what would happen if they were cleared, neither did he think that he'd be alive to witness it. His destiny was to fight or die trying and he would never allow himself to get caught by Lynch.
Not alive anyways.
With this grim outlook, he tried to make the most out of each day by celebrating with lots of money and pretty girls, while living other people's lives to see what it felt like had he chosen a different path.
"You could have all that too.", B.A. disrupted his dark thoughts and looked up at him with his caring brown eyes.
Smiling at the idea, Face shook his head and turned back towards his friend.
"Most women looking for that sort of lifestyle deserve more than what I have to offer."
"Why would you say that, Face? I know you. You're a good man.", B.A. countered, as if offended by what had been said.
"Come one now, look at me, Bosco." he argued in return, pointing at the expensive tuxedo he still wore, drawing parallels between his past and their current situation, "I lie and steal for a living. I cheat on women…I borrow other people's identities and use their fancy cars and apartments while they're gone. Nothing about me is real."
The truth beneath those words hurt his own feelings, revealing carefully guarded emotions and Face looked away, tracing the outline of the skyscrapers to clear his mind.
Nothing in this apartment besides his sorry ass belonged to him. Except for his career in the Army, his only achievement in life was the ability to masquerade and lie while living off other people's success. What sort of legacy did that leave him with? He'd be one loser of a role model for any child, much less his own.
"I hate it when you talk shit like that Face, you know this ain't true!"
B.A.'s explosive reaction made him flinch and glance back over. A pair of determined eyes met his, seemingly staring right into his soul.
And perhaps that's exactly what they did.
"I came from the hood, man.", B.A. continued in a gentler tone, hoping not to wake up the others, "I know what it means to put on a role to survive."
Having never made that connection before, Face suddenly realized just how similar their childhoods had been.
B.A. always had to be the tough guy, outsmarting the other kids or winning fights to make it through the day. His bad boy attitude helped him survive the hood and made sure his family was safe, but it came at a high price. There was nobody he could trust. Growing up having to look over his shoulder every day was not a childhood anybody deserved.
Face never had friends in the orphanage either. His tall and skinny built made him the prime target for bullying and he quickly learned to fend for himself. As he grew older, he'd win almost every fight and when he didn't, he could outrun the other children by a mile. He soon learned to hate them and withdraw even further into his own world, making him an outcast with aggression issues who spent his days pondering about an escape from the prison-like atmosphere.
With nothing to lose but their lives, the Army in a sense had saved both of them from the demons of their past.
When he couldn't meet B.A.'s eyes any longer, Face turned back towards the balcony, staring down at the streets and wondering who the people in these cars were and what it meant to lead a normal life. Waking up every morning as the same person they went to sleep as seemed intriguing enough.
B.A. remained quiet for many long moments, knowing he had hit a sore spot. Nervously fidgeting with his red ski hat, he finally cleared his throat and spoke up again.
"Listen Face, you guys are my brothers, you are everything to me, you know that! I was going nowhere 'til I met you and Hannibal...even that crazy ass fool Murdock. All of a sudden there was meaning again, you know."
Face nodded, for he could relate way too well. Nobody besides Hannibal knew just how close he'd come to never leaving Iraq alive. He owed the old man more than he could ever dream of giving back.
"And now all we have is us-and we do what we do because we don't have a choice…so if you wanne think that you're such an ass for helping us survive that's your choice… 'cause we don't think you're a bad guy."
When Face tried to protest, B.A.'s hand gesture made him back off instantly.
"All I'm saying is that one day, we will be free again. No more missions, no more jazz, no more running. And you deserve a good life afterward, something real. None of this bullshit of hanging around with a different woman each week."
Face shook his head vehemently, trying to argue but eventually bit his tongue, not wanting to bring up the topic of what their future held.
Life wasn't about what one deserved or getting what you worked for...it was all about who got lucky. And as far as the A-Team was concerned, their luck ran out when Morrison decided to use them as scapegoats for his agenda.
The running would never end and Face was ok with that. All he ever knew was to fight. There was no normality in stow for him anywhere in this life, neither did he want to burden a wife or kids with some of the memories turned into nightmares whenever he fell asleep. As a matter of fact, after all these years, the A-Team was the only constant he had and he couldn't imagine going on without these guys.
Another breeze came up and Face put his hands in the pockets of his dress pants, enjoying the fresh air against his bare chest and stomach. The chill provided a sense of reality within his lies, letting him feel like Rudolf's son would; casually standing on the balcony and enjoying his free time in careless oblivion.
For a little while, it also allowed him to forget who he was and what burdens he carried within each day. The feeling of carelessness was as addictive as any drug and Face loved getting high on the masquerade. The more people he became, the less room was left for who he truly was, making the difference between reality and fiction comfortably blurry.
Taking in a deep breath of fresh air, Face closed his eyes for a second to gather his thoughts.
"Bosco, let me tell you something about people.", he then began, letting the air from his lungs pass through his partially opened lips.
Whether it was the buzz or the lack of sleep, Face suddenly felt like talking. Staring straight ahead, his eyes focused on an office building across the street where slowly, more and more lights appeared on different floors.
"Most of them just pretend to be your friend if there is some sort material benefit involved, you know? One day, they promise you the world and the next they move on to a better opportunity...maybe a better career...or partner."
Face swallowed hard when he felt the lump in his throat, yet unwilling to give in to the emotional effects of the alcohol.
He was not going to think about Carissa anymore tonight...not while others were around to witness his reaction. This was one of the few matters best dealt with in the privacy of a lonely balcony at four in the morning while slightly buzzed- minus the company he currently had.
B.A .looked up from his chair, grimacing at the thought.
"The hell you talking 'bout fool?", he returned impatiently.
Managing a quick smile, Face glanced back at him.
"Truth of the matter is that…these women down at the bar, they don't give a shit about me or what I stand for. They came here last night because their husbands are gone and they wanted to have a good time. Just like me…no commitments, no history, no strings attached. All they want is a joyride, a chance to pretend to be someone else outside their boring lives. It's a shallow and selfish thing, but it is what it is…and it never changes."
"But you ain't one of these people, Face.", BA protested fervently, "You can't fool us with your good looks, we know who you are…or who you aren't."
"That's hard to imagine considering that I don't even know who I am anymore these days, Bosco."
Face couldn't stop himself from saying it out loud and he regretted it instantly, afraid of what anyone might do with this delicate piece of intel. His doubts were his secret, not to be shared with anyone, not even his closest friends. What was he thinking?
Even now he tried himself on his ever charming smile to downplay the seriousness of their conversation, yet unable to muster the strenght to look B.A. in the eyes. Too great was his fear that he might see right through the false lightheartedness and stare at that ugly duckling masquerading as a beautiful swan.
The tense silence between them felt like a much needed relief and Face took a deep breath while studying his expensive ostrich leather shoes- another little gift from Rudolf's dresser. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see B.A. shift uncomfortably in his chair, shaking his head before speaking.
"You really wanne know who you are, Face? Cause I know who you are…", B.A. said in a grim tone, grabbing his attention immediately, "You're the guy who almost died taking a bullet for me last year."
Caught entirely off guard, Face reduced his reaction to a slight nod, unwilling to show any emotions. Looking down at the scar on the side of his abdomen, he clenched his jaw to hold back the memories of a distraught Hannibal bent over him, frantically screaming his name.
Even though that haunting picture was the last thing he remembered before passing out, it was as vivid as the day it happened.
"And that hustlin' fool from the bar last night would never have the guts to do that."
When the lump in his throat was not moving, Face looked away, too afraid to say anything in case his voice would break.
He appreciated B.A.'s caring words, knowing that often times the big guy would get frustrated when it came to showing feelings.
Too many people misjudged him for being a simple-minded brute, incapable of showing empathy, but Bosco was anything but the stereotype they saw. Loyal right down to the core, he was a force to be reconed with when it came to protecting his team and what he stood for.
Many times, when the jazz got the better of Hannibal, he'd be the the one pulling them back to the safe grounds of reality, making sure that their plans didn't turn too insane for their own good.
Maybe it was destiny, but in his own way, B.A. was slowly but surely becoming the conscience of the A-Team.
"Listen, you and I both know what it feels like having to be a bad ass to survive.", B.A. continued after a long pause and got up from his chair, carefully reaching for his crutches, before stepping closer, "You're my little brother, man… so quit thinking you are the only judge o' character 'round here."
Smiling, Face put a hand on Bosco's shoulder, entirely grateful for his kindness and unconditional friendship.
As they resumed their wordless exchange, along with the unspoken promise that the thoughts shared in the privacy of the 6th floor balcony would remain just that; time seemed to slow down for many long moments, until finally, the first sunrays of the upcoming morning began to show over Lake Michigan.
Whether they liked it or not, it was definetly time to go to bed before Hannibal would get any idea of just how long they both had been up.
In other words, time to focus back at their task at hand, avoid capture by Lynch while trying to make this world a better place.
"So Bosco…", Face began, unable to wipe the wily smirk off his lips, „Why were you awake again anyways?"
With his jaws clenched in annoyance, B.A. pointed to where the bedrooms werelocated.
"Damn bed is too soft. I can't get comfortable."
Chuckling, Face moved past him to open the sliding door back up.
"You do know that you can adjust the setting, right? Those are specialized mattresses. They'll conform to your body style."
"Are you taking me for a ride, Faceman?" B.A. asked skeptically as he limped back inside the warm and quiet living room.
The smooth blue lamp from the liquor cabinet provided enough light to safely guide them towards the bedrooms.
"Come on Bosco, do you really think I'd scam a place without these? They're a dream to sleep on."
After parking the half empty bottle of Crown Royal on a nearby endtable; Face stripped out of his tuxedo and shirt, hanging both of them neatly over a chair readying them to be drycleaned in the morning.
After all, he didn't want Rudolf to get upset about his clothes smelling of perfume.
"Where'd you learn about all this crap, man?", B.A. asked as he carefully limped across the hallway towards his bedroom for some much needed rest.
Following behind to help him adjust his matress, Face smiled proudly.
"Different hood, Bosco...Same rules, just a different hood."