Hannibal hated it when any of his boys were captured. It meant there had been a failure to plan adequately on his part, and that was unacceptable. While no plan ever survived contact with the enemy, that didn't mean he wasn't going to do his damndest to make sure the failure was directed toward the parts he wanted.

He did his best to compensate for each of their problem areas. Face, he tried to keep out of any situation where his inability to resist a pretty face would compromise the plan (and put him in ones where it would help). For B.A., he made sure that any time there was a risk of running across kids in danger, they had the time and the equipment to deal with that.

And he tried to keep Murdock out of any parts of a plan that involved letting themselves get caught. The problem was, whoever they were against on any given day wasn't always content to let them decide when to get caught.

Case in point. Right then, he could only watch from the roof as Murdock yelled and struggled and tried to get away from the thugs who'd grabbed him. All his research said that the men they were after were sloppy, definitely not organized enough to notice they were being tailed, never mind have a group double back.

He was wrong.

"Face, B.A.," he said over the comms. "We have a problem."

"Yeah, I hear it," Face said. "What do you want us to do?"

Murdock was okay with guns pointed at him. He could keep it together while being handcuffed or tied up and led to where he would be kept. But when someone grabbed him, he lost it, and Hannibal tried to plan for that, as best he could.

"I'm on it," B.A. said, before Hannibal had to say anything. Ten seconds later, Hannibal could see him round a corner and start running up the street, a block away.

He'd put up a good fight - they both would - but there were too many for B.A. and Murdock to handle, even if they were both calm and unrestrained. Face was too far away to get there in time, and he didn't have the equipment up on the roof with him to get down the side of the building fast enough.

"Boss?" Face asked.

Hannibal made a series of quick calculations, then said, "No, stay there. That's where they'll bring them."

For a moment, it looked like B.A. and Murdock were going to fight their way out, when the group realized they didn't have anything to restrain them with. Then the squirrely one on the edge of the group came up with two lengths of rope out of the pack he was carrying. The knots were sloppy, but secure, it looked like.

"You can't cage me, I'm a fiend, a monster of-" Murdock was saying as one of the men ripped out his comm and did a cursory pat down, while another did the same to B.A. They didn't separate the two of them, but they were smart enough to keep a man on each so they couldn't work the ropes loose without someone noticing.

"Make sure the guards at the back entrance have been taken care of in twenty minutes," he told Face, and started to climb down the fire escape.


Forty-five minutes later, he and Face had found the room B.A. and Murdock were being kept in - because separating them would have been too intelligent - and he was waiting around the corner while Face worked on convincing the guards that he was supposed to take over.

The problem with large, poorly organized operations was that no one knew who was and wasn't one of them.

He could hear B.A. and Murdock through the air vents above him as he waited for Face to signal that it was clear.

"I know, I know, Hannibal and Face will get us out if we can't ourselves." Murdock's voice was strained, but not to a worrying degree. "And it probably won't be six months this time."

"It won't be six months ever again," B.A. said fiercely. "Hang on, man, I'm almost through the last of the rope."

B.A. was a good kid. They were all good kids, and he knew that if anything - when something - happened to him, they'd take care of each other.

Two sharp cracks come from down the hall, and then Face popped his head and arm around the corner, jingling a set of keys in his hand.

"All clear!" he said. "They were gonna call the boss, so I had to deal with them in a slightly different way."

"Is that what they're calling it now?" Hannibal asked.

Face grinned. "Among other things."

"Let's go let them out," he said, clapping Face on the shoulder as he went by.

Face knocked on the door after he unlocked it, saying, "Someone call for a couple of knights in shining armor?"

"Only if B.A.'s the damsel in distress this time," Murdock called back. His voice was steadier than it had sounded, coming through the air vents.

Hannibal shared a grin with Face over B.A.'s indignant "Hey!" before Face opened the door.

He stayed outside, watching the hall, while Hannibal stepped in, ready with a knife if they still needed freeing. But Murdock was sitting in a chair, rubbing his wrists, while B.A. crouched on the floor next to him, a hand on his knee. The rope on the floor next to Murdock had been untied, but the one on the floor on the other side of the room still sported a messy knot, with the addition of strands that had been snapped at uneven lengths.

"You boys okay?" he asked, talking to both of them, but looking at Murdock.

"We're good, Hannibal," B.A. said, standing up. "And ready to get outta here."

"Wait, wait, I need a pen." Murdock patted down his pockets, and added, "Oh, never mind, got one. Hold on a minute."

"Come on, Murdock," Face said from the doorway. But Hannibal wasn't concerned; they had at least another two minutes, in his estimation, before the idiots in the front realized that something was wrong out back, and another five after that to get out.

"Almost done," Murdock sing-songed as he scratched at the wall, in the direct line of sight for anyone who would come in the door.

Hannibal waited until they had thirty seconds left, then said, "Wrap it up, kid."

Murdock traced over the final exclamation point one more time, then capped his pen and shoved it back in a pocket. He turned around, grinning. "Okay, boss."

"Let's go." Hannibal took point, with Face up front and B.A. next to Murdock between them. Nothing ever went to plan, and he would never be okay with that, but they did alright.

On the wall behind them, in two-inch letters, was Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!