by Darth Stitch
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Belongs to 2 TV gods by name of Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell and is now a movie directed by Joe Carnahan. Will put the toys back when I'm done.
DISCLAIMER TO SAVE MY SOUL FROM GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET: I really should blame the movie for this – Movie!Face and Movie!Hannibal give me way too much ammunition. Yeah. You guys believe me, right? :P
WARNING: This story is part of a fan fiction series with slash elements. As in, two men being sweet on each other. So if this is not your cuppa tea, time to clicky-click on the back button and run like hell.
Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman
But she was another man
All the girls around her say she's got it coming
But she gets it while she can
Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged.
Get back Loretta. Go home!
Your mother's waiting for you
Wearing her high-heel shoes
And her low-neck sweater
Get on home, Loretta
- Paul McCartney (Lennon/McCartney), "The Beatles"
They said that sometimes, you just needed to get back to where you once belonged.
New Orleans wasn't exactly home, not for a Philadelphia boy like Face, but it had been a safe haven of sorts for the last few years of his adolescence. He'd gotten fed up with being shuttled from one indifferent foster home to another and had struck out on his own when he hit 15. The place he'd ended up staying at wasn't exactly home but he'd been made to feel welcome and for the first time since his folks died, he felt he'd found some place where somebody actually cared.
Now, as far as "little orphan lost" stories went, Face knew he was luckier than most. There were just far too many horror stories out there of all sorts of abuse. Thing was, indifference and neglect were just as bad for a kid to endure. Not that he'd lacked for physical things like food, clothing and shelter – that wasn't an issue. But for any orphan, way down deep at the core, the really worst part was the knowing that there was no family, no Mom and Dad to love and to care, no real place to belong to. Maybe this was as cliché as it went but it was still true – there wasn't any place to call home.
Before he'd met Hannibal and then later, finally getting the team together with Murdock and B.A., Vida Boheme and the Grand Ladies of the one and only La Serenissima, the best drag club in New Orleans, were the closest thing to home and family Face had.
They hadn't really expected to end up in New Orleans. It wasn't as if Face was afraid that the Feds or the MP's would trace them there either – at least not for a good long while. Quite some time ago, Face did some creative fudging on his background records – not wanting to leave a clear trail to anyone he happened to care about. Vida Boheme and the Grand Ladies of La Serenissima happened to be in that short and very exclusive list. It was also easier since there was never any formality attached to his staying with them when he was a teenager.
But since it happened to be on their way and Face really wanted to look into how Mama Vee was doing, as he hadn't had contact with her since they were put on trial, Hannibal agreed. He felt a little guilty about that – B.A.'s situation with his mother was well known, so there was no way to get in touch with her, the old priest who had raised Hannibal was now an Archbishop and way too visible as well. As for Murdock, the zany pilot said something along the lines of having already left word for his Uncle Morrie at Club Denial – whatever that was.
For some reason, Face felt a very odd chill down the back of his spine when Murdock mentioned the name "Uncle Morrie." Go figure.
Vida or "Mama Vee" as Face called her just about shrieked with joy when she found her "darling baby boy" on her doorstep. Of course, realizing that she'd been just a tad indiscreet here, she immediately ushered them inside her home, which happened to be a spacious, elegant penthouse apartment sitting on top of the club itself. And after the initial excitement wore off and the introductions were done, Mama Vee immediately got down to business.
"Templeton, darling, I always thought you'd bring me home a daughter-in-law but if you're bringing him home as my future son-in-law, that would be just fiiiiine," drawled the regal, ageless (never old) drag queen known as La Vida Boheme, the Jewel of New Orleans.
Naturally, she was looking right at Hannibal when she said that.
B.A. and Murdock were both openly stifling laughter. Hannibal, ever unflappable, simply gave Face that familiar amused look, brow raised in inquiry.
"Jesus, Mama Vee," Face groaned, trying his damndest not to blush. He loved Vida, he really did – she and her sisters practically helped raise him for the last remaining years of his adolescence but she would just have to latch on to that. Not that he could blame her – he knew he'd never lacked for female admiration but he'd seen his Colonel turn more than a few heads plenty of times as well. "That's my CO, okay?"
"Oh, honey, you don't have to worry – I know. Don't ask, don't tell, right?" Vida cooed. "And I just bet he'd look even better in uniform…"
"Oh yes he does, ma'am," Murdock chimed in with an absolutely straight face.
"You're not helping, Murdock," Face ground out with gritted teeth.
"And after all the times he said he loved me," Hannibal said, shaking his head in mock dismay. "Then again, that's Face for you – love 'em and leave 'em."
"Hannibal!" Face sputtered. Okay, he'd always known the Boss could come up with some seriously screwball plans but he'd been tuning in to Channel Murdock more and more lately.
Vida gasped. "Templeton Peck! You should know better than let a man like this get away!"
Face turned to B.A., hoping for one shred of sanity but the burly sergeant shrugged.
"Hey, brother, all I'm askin' is that you make an honest man out of the Colonel."
"AAAAARRRRGH!" It was official – it had to be "Pick on Face and Watch Him Die of Embarrassment Day."
"There, there," Vida said, patting Face gently on the cheek. "Let's stop teasing my baby – oh, Templeton, I have missed you."
"Missed you too, Mama Vee." He hugged her. Vida might not have the right equipment to bear a child into this world but Face could never forget that she was actually the closest thing to a mother that he could consciously remember.
And that was when he felt her wince. He had noticed that she was injured when she met them at the door – the normally elegant walk was marred by a slight limp and she had her arm in a cast. One would think that it had to be some sort of accident but Face's instincts told him otherwise.
"All right, Mama Vee, what's been going on?" he asked her.
Naturally, she didn't want to explain things just yet. Mama Vee had some interesting priorities and Face really should have known better. First, she shooed them off for hot baths, clean clothes and a good dinner. Naturally, Face just had to be dragged into the kitchen so that Aunt Roxie could see him with her own two eyes. The tall, statuesque, mahogany-skinned queen who ruled the kitchens both for the household and the club just about shrieked with joy to see their "sweet baby boy" alive and well. Inevitably, upon learning that Murdock had a yen for cooking, Aunt Roxie took the pilot under her wing.
At this point, BA had looked at Face and said, "You think we oughta be scared of what that crazy fool's gonna cook for us next after this?"
"Terrified," Face deadpanned.
Of course, it was inevitable that Aunt Roxie would end up preparing all of Face's favorites, which included desserts and Hannibal was heard to mutter, "So that explains the sugar thing…"
So it wasn't until dessert that Face could again insist on Mama Vee telling them what had been going on since he'd left for the Army.
Aunt Roxie sniffed. "Trouble, baby. Trouble of the big, mean and ugly variety."
"Now, Roxie," Vida chided. "It was a mugging, that's all. And some poor benighted souls really can't get rid of the whole prejudice thing. Poor things."
"You know perfectly well that with you out of commission, we don't have much of a show," Aunt Roxie pointed out. "And that's what Mr. Devereaux wants. No show, we get no money and he'll just come on over and try to talk you into selling the club to him again."
"Never!" Vida said fiercely. "This club was built by my darling Armand and I'll never sell it. This was our dream!"
Oh yes. The debonair and utterly charming Armand de Lenfent had died when Face was seventeen. He and Vida had been happily running the club together for years and he usually was the director for the shows. Vida had been absolutely devastated when her partner and the love of her life had died of a stroke. Face missed him too – he too was one of the very few people in his life that Face could look up to and respect.
"Uh-huh," Aunt Roxie said dryly. "Dreams don't do us much good if we end up dead, Vida. And for all we know, Devereaux probably paid those thugs to mess you up. This is just the beginning!"
"I imagine that this Mr. Devereaux seems to really live for the 'hostile takeover,'" Hannibal said thoughtfully.
"I'll bet," Face growled. They'd seen this story played out before and without a clear connection to this Devereaux character, Mama Vee and the others couldn't even go to the police for help. All the cops could do was try to catch the muggers but there could always be more thugs coming out of the woodwork, until this Devereaux got what he wanted.
"Now, this ain't right, taking advantage of the ladies like that," Murdock drawled.
"For once, the crazy fool's got it right," B.A. agreed.
"I always get it right, Bosco, you just ain't listening –"Murdock began.
"Looks like you're already cooking up a plan there, Boss," Face began, partly to stave off the argument that he knew was coming and partly because he'd recognized the gleam in Hannibal's eyes.
"Of course, Templeton – Madame Vida here's going to end up as my future mother-in-law and charity begins at home," Hannibal had that smile on, the one that made more than a few hearts skip a beat, including Face's, though he'd never tell his Colonel that directly.
That Smile and what he said, promptly made Face choke on his coffee.
Vida beamed. "Oh he's such a darling, Templeton. You can call me Mama Vee too, dear."
Murdock giggled and nudged Face. "See, Momma Bear? Told ya they'd love Poppa Bear right off."
Face buried his face in his hands, because he knew there was no way in hell he could stop that blush. His ears were probably red too. "Oh Jesus…"
"That's so sweet," Vida cooed, patting Murdock on the cheek. "If they're your Momma and Poppa Bears, then I'm your Mama Vee too, you know. I'll bet you're the youngest and Bosco's the big brother here."
Murdock nodded eagerly.
Roxie and B.A. exchanged looks. "You ever get that feeling we're the only sane ones in this group?" B.A. asked her.
Aunt Roxie patted his arm consolingly. "I get that all the time, honey. All the time."
"I refuse," Face said categorically, crossing his arms and glaring at the lot of them, "to be a little boy in a dress."
"Oh, sweetie," Face's Aunt Louisa said, patting him on the arm. "You could never be a little boy in a dress. We taught you too well for that."
Aunt Louisa was the Goth queen among them, whose shapely figure and uncannily feminine good looks, coupled with her long, straight black hair, pale skin and green eyes, made her less like a campy version of Morticia Addams or Elvira and more like an elegant, regal Gloria Holden from Dracula's Daughter. Aunt Louisa had taken over the stage show after Armand died.
Intrigued, Hannibal and the others looked to Vida for an explanation. But it was Roxie who laid out the facts as she rummaged in Aunt Louisa's closets for something suitable for Face to wear.
"There are poor tired little boys who just like putting on dresses, honey. But only a gay man who has way too much fashion sense for one gender can be a true drag queen."
"Well I do not qualify and I refuse to be a poor, tired little boy in a dress!" Face hollered. He couldn't move as Aunt Louisa had him sitting right in front of her dressing room mirror and for all her deceptive fragility, she had her hands firmly on his shoulders, effectively pinning him down.
"Facey – you're really the only one of us who can pull this off," Murdock reasoned as he sprawled on her chaise lounge. "I'd trip over them high heels and can you honestly see Bosco or Hannibal doing this?"
B.A. shook his head, openly grinning. "Sorry, Faceman. The red clashes with my complexion and my skin's allergic to make-up."
Face flipped him off.
Aunt Louisa looked Hannibal over appraisingly, who bore it with typical amused grace. "Oh, Templeton, sweetie, a man that straight can't be put in a dress." She sighed dreamily.
"It would be a crime against humanity," Vida agreed, patting Hannibal on the shoulder. "We have something better in mind for you, darling."
"Sounds intriguing, Mama Vee," Hannibal answered, the brogue creeping back into his accent with his evident amusement over the whole thing.
"This is bullshit," Face said, knowing that he sounded petulant and not caring at the moment.
"Now sweetie," Aunt Louisa comforted him. "You may not be qualified for the title of drag queen but you certainly are a drag princess."
B.A. and Murdock openly guffawed even as Face glared at them.
Hannibal, amazingly enough, managed to keep a straight face even as those blue eyes sparkled with barely suppressed laughter. He gave him a courtly bow. "Your Highness."
"Can I just flip you off and get the whole KP duty over with? Please?" Face begged.
Aunt Louisa shook her head. "You just trust in your Auntie Louisa, sweetie. We're going to make you look beautiful."
La Serenissima isn't just any drag club. Tawdry, sleazy and cheap are easy to do; New Orleans has those kinds of places, same as most cities anywhere in the world. But the city's known for its own particular brand of places to go and sights to see – La Serenissima is one of them. Like the floating city it is named for, the club is known for its own inimitable style and class. The locals go there for the food expertly served from Roxanne Bouvier's kitchens and the shows are definitely entertaining.
But the sparkle really comes in when La Vida Boheme takes the stage – the Jewel of New Orleans is known for that unmistakable, soulful contralto voice and her wicked sense of humor. She doesn't do a show every night now – audiences are fickle and they tire so easily. But the club is packed when she goes under the bright lights and the performances are always fresh and inspired.
For the past couple of weeks, things haven't been the same since Vida had her little run-in with the muggers. Louisa du Pointe du Lac only reigns when the club decides to go a little goth or run with the vampire theme but one can't have Halloween every day of the year.
So the club's regulars and the tourists coming in are quite pleasantly surprised at the appearance of La Serenissima's newest star – Satine, La Serenissima's Sparkling Diamond. This one is a statuesque beauty with reddish-blonde hair and jewel-colored eyes that made one think that Satine definitely earned her nickname. She's a dancer and a singer but it's her sheer presence that really draws one's attention and keeps it there. Satine proves to be as much a draw to the club as La Vida ever was.
Vida still takes the stage to do more comedy, her current injuries preventing her from doing any of her more theatrical acts. Her humor and wit aren't dulled by her travails – rather, they've been honed to razor sharpness and the crowd utterly loves it. The good times are back at La Serenissima, better than ever before. Everyone's happy.
Well, almost everyone is pleased by the current turn of events.
The word was out on the streets.
Bryan Mills was back in town.
Some guys just coasted along on their reputation and most of that was just bullshit made-up stuff. Mills was the real thing – a vicious, ruthless son of a bitch that no one in their right mind would fuck with. That story about what happened in Paris was mostly true – he really did end up smashing a white slavery ring to smithereens, leaving a body count of over 30 people in his wake, all to save that young girl.
Of course, stories get passed around, the details changing with every retelling, until one wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't.
One of the things they all got wrong was that the girl wasn't his daughter.
One of the things they did get right was that if Bryan Mills decided he'd get the job done, it would be, end of story. He had a rep for being picky and he was good enough that he could afford to be. He had one of the most powerful Families in the U.S. forever in his debt and that was worth more than money in the bank.
Mills had been away from the game for a good long while and there were a lot of men who slept easier at night because of that little fact. Of course, they would sleep like babies if it were known that Mills was dead but one had to learn to count their blessings here. The last time someone had been dumb enough to try starred in a story that ended messy, very, very painful and very much all over the place.
It wasn't like Mills to make his presence known but anyone with an ounce of sense would know that he wasn't just coming to New Orleans for the sights.
Antoine Devereaux, who was plain old Anthony Cooper once upon a time, was very nervous at that prospect. Surely, Don Julian Luna couldn't possibly know about his little arrangement with the Colombians, right? He'd been careful and quiet about the whole thing. He was a guy who wanted to go places, wanted to be somebody. Don Julian had ruled New Orleans as the so-called Prince of the City for far too long. Time for someone new to take the throne.
He'd already set a lot of groundwork. Business with the Colombians was proceeding quite nicely and he felt that he had a pretty good foundation for what he had planned. He would reach his goal and he wouldn't let anyone or anything get into his way.
But men with ambition like him were beset by problems all the time. Take those old queens at La Serenissima for example. The place was perfect for the new casino he wanted to build – he wanted a real classy place and he'd bring in some serious stars for the entertainment, big names in showbiz, not just a bunch of fucking faggots parading around in dresses and thick make-up. He'd offered them a fair price, actually a lot more than the club was worth and the bitches had the nerve to turn him down.
Nobody turned Antoine Devereaux down.
Right now, he was at the club, sitting at one of the tables close to the bar – hey it was a free country, he had the right to be here. People had been talking about the club's new star – Satine something-or-the-other. The drag club was doing even better than it was before, especially since business had been slow after Vida was temporarily sidelined. Of course he had to check things out – one had to be on top of things, right?
That Satine – if he didn't know that it was just a sicko in a dress – she looked good. Better than good, she was fucking gorgeous. And she wasn't half bad with the song and dance routine either. It creeped him out, the way some of these fags could really pass for the real thing. It was fucking unnatural, that was what it was.
He looked at his watch. In five minutes, he was going to run a little show of his own, which ought to clear out this particular party. He glanced at the bar – those punks he'd paid to cause a ruckus had better be worth what he shelled out for them. The bartender was new, though – little guy who seemed to have a real interesting juggling act trick with lemons and knives. One of those knives landed right in front of the punk who was already yelling and had picked up a bottle to throw into the crowd. The knife missed slicing his fingers off by centimeters.
"Wouldn't do that if I was you, mister," drawled the bartender, his voice carrying clearly over the noise of the crowd and the show. "Might lose my concentration here and y'all could lose more than just your fingers."
This huge black guy with a mohawk seemed to appear out of nowhere, just behind the punk. Shit. The fags actually got themselves a tough-looking son of a bitch for a bouncer. It looked like his "show" was going to be cancelled for the evening.
Oh, shit, could things get any worse?
"Good evening, Mr. Devereaux."
The distinctly Irish brogue raised the hairs on the back of his neck. He really should have known better than to ask that question, right? Antoine Devereaux, future Prince of the City, turned to face Bryan Mills.
"Hey, have a seat, join me for a drink," Devereaux said, putting on the jovial, welcoming air easily. There were too many people around for Mills to attempt a hit here. Plus, if this was to be a hit, Mills wouldn't have bothered with the pleasantries – Devereaux would be dead already. He signaled and ordered drinks for both of them, which arrived almost immediately. "What brings you to New Orleans, Mr. Mills? You've been out of touch for quite a while."
"I have been out of the game," Mills answered easily. "But I've kept my ear to the ground, Mr. Devereaux. And things have been far too quiet for me, so I thought I'd look in on how some of my old friends are doing."
"Friendship is such a precious commodity in this day and age," Devereaux piously agreed. "Too many people cast it aside so easily."
"Exactly so," Mills answered. "You can have billions of dollars socked away in a bank but if you cast aside your friends, you might as well have nothing. Don Julian is a man who understands that and he's been my friend for many years."
A chill finger touched the back of Devereaux's neck, tracing its way down to the base of his spine. Surely Don Julian couldn't possibly know…
"Of course. Don Julian Luna is a man I greatly admire and respect."
Mills had the temerity to sit back and look amused. "Don Julian values your loyalty, Mr. Devereaux. Especially now, when he has these Colombian goons treating him with such disrespect."
The chill spread out to every pore in Devereaux's body. Did Mills, and of course, Don Julian, aready know about his dealings with the Colombians? Or was this a fishing expedition? Of course, Don Julian would be right to suspect that someone on his side could be a traitor. Mills was obviously being sent to smoke that person out.
Damn it. First those fucking stubborn fags and now this. He had to figure out a way around this and even hit two birds with one stone. Perhaps it would be time to be a little more bold, to finally make his move.
"Terrible thing," said Devereaux, trying to radiate sincerity. "They're barbarians, the lot of them."
"Oh yes – if they could ill-wish my good friend into an early grave they'd do it," Mills said, taking a sip of his drink and sighing with evident satisfaction.
The beginnings of a plan began to form in Devereaux's mind. Don Julian feared for his life and rightly so – the Colombians were getting bolder, with his help, of course. No wonder Bryan Mills was here.
Devereaux had thought about this before but he'd always meant to leave this for a later time. He would be speeding up his timetable a little but it could be done – he had allies to back him up and Mills, for all his formidable reputation, was only human. Mardi Gras would be coming soon and Don Julian always went around the city on this particular night, celebrating with his "subjects." La Serenissima had always been on his itinerary.
Oh yes. Two birds with one stone. It would be perfect.
Devereaux smiled. "Whatever you need, Mr. Mills – you only need to ask."
"Thank you, Mr. Devereaux. Don Julian had told me that he could always count on you."
They called Julian Luna "The Prince of the City" for many reasons, not all of them known to ordinary human beings. But that's a story for another time and place.
The papers and the 'Net have a simple biography on the man but not much else. Julian is rich, handsome and a respected businessman. He came to the city a few years earlier from San Francisco but New Orleans recognizes its own and somehow, everyone soon knew that Julian was the prodigal son coming home and was welcomed with open arms. Many families owed him their gratitude for his help after the hurricane had nearly destroyed the city.
Of course, there were whispers and rumors abounding that he was "connected" and certainly he looked the part – a young, elegant, debonair Michael Corleone coming off the page and screen and mingling among them. Naturally, none of these whispers or rumors could ever be proven.
But he made a splendid sight mingling with the revelers on Mardi Gras, looking like he'd been born to wear the fine Regency-era suit that he'd chosen as costume, an aristocratic gentleman in silk and lace on his way to one of the many balls to be held on this night.
La Serenissima was one of those many places to see and be seen. And with their new star, the show promised to be even more spectacular. La Vida Boheme herself was there at the door to welcome the Prince and show him the best seat in the house. Julian was known to enjoy it here – Vida has always been an entertaining performer and a gracious hostess, without being servile or sycophantic.
And then, the trouble started.
It had taken a week of figuring out the lay of the land and getting all their information together but Hannibal was finally able to set down the plan for them.
"This Devereaux's the type of guy who tends to let his ego get in the way of what he can actually do."
Murdock chanted. "It's Pinky and the Brain! It's Pinky and the Brain! One of them's a genius and the other one is insane - "
B.A. rolled his eyes. "Yeah, that would be you, fool!"
Face chuckled. "Murdock's actually got a point, B.A. In other words, Devereaux has some serious delusions of grandeur going on here."
Okay, Face had to hand it to Auntie Louisa – he did look good, in a sort of disturbing, alternate-universe, what-if-he-were-born-a-girl kind of way. And maybe all those times he spent watching Armand and Mama Vee rehearsing their routines paid off as well.
He had to admit he really could sing and yes, he could seriously dance when the mood took him. He just didn't think he'd take to the stage like this though. And yes, he did know how to manage a pair of high heels – the team would never let him live this down, not in a million years. Although he did catch Hannibal giving him some fairly odd looks once the whole get-up was complete – wig, expertly applied make-up, dress, heels and all.
As he sang, Face was checking out the crowd. Devereaux's last attempt at causing a ruckus was a total bust – those guys were just amateurs. But it looked like Devereaux had gotten better help this time – most likely, the Colombians probably wanted to take a shot at Julian Luna too. He'd already spotted one set of goons at one table close to the stage, dressed in their Mardi Gras finest, with a couple of pretty girls hanging on to them. The girls looked like tourists, just looking for a good time.
He hoped they wouldn't get hurt in the ensuing fracas.
"If he's going to make his move, he'll try to take out Julian and the club at the same time," Hannibal said grimly. "Mardi Gras would be the perfect time – the cops will be too busy doing crowd control to pay attention to anything else."
"How do you know the Godfather, Boss?" Face asked curiously. He knew Hannibal had already gone through some seriously whacked-out missions before they met. He wasn't surprised Hannibal had some old personas tucked away somewhere – Face had a few of them stashed away himself. But this particular one and Face had heard that story too – it gave more than a few of the bad guys nightmares.
Hannibal looked faintly guilty. "Long story, Lieutenant. Let's just say Julian Luna's a friend of sorts."
There was another set of them near the bar, where Murdock was holding court. Murdock would be able to take them – he had a pretty good gag going with those knives and all. And B.A. would be able to take on the other bunch of fellows near the door.
And as for Hannibal…
In keeping with Julian Luna's historical theme, Hannibal was also in costume – a gentleman rogue as Vida put it or a Highwayman (yes, Aunt Louisa was swooning when she came up with that one, not that Face could actually blame her), complete with cloak, hat and sword.
Hannibal regarded Face steadily. "They'll go for you first."
One of the girls screamed and Face saw her go down, blood streaming down her temple. Son of a bitch – the bastard actually hit her with a wine bottle. Now, he was grabbing at Face, waving that broken bottle.
Well, there was a reason spike heels could be considered a deadly weapon. This idiot learned that the hard way.
It was like a signal for all hell to break loose. He could see Murdock already taking on the assholes at the bar, getting some help from Mama Vee herself and a couple of her regular guys who usually took care of the bartending duties. The ones near the door were heading for the kitchen and they were met with the business end of Aunt Roxie's skillets and B.A.'s fists.
Aunt Louisa had already run over to the girl who got hurt even as Face took down the bastard's friends. Business taken care of, he looked over to where Hannibal was. Not that the Colonel needed a lot of help but still, somebody had to go after the one drawing a gun.
That gave Hannibal enough time to stop the other assassin who was about to take aim at Julian Luna.
And Julian Luna apparently wasn't a slouch when it came to taking care of business either. He was quick with those fists and his real bodyguards were also taking care of the other assholes coming out of the woodwork.
"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Julian ordered, his voice somehow carrying over the screams of the crowd and the fighting.
Oddly enough, everybody stopped in their tracks. It was as if Julian's voice alone had managed to stop the chaos going around them.
Hannibal hauled in the would-be assassin by the neck and dropped him at Julian's feet. "I believe this person has a very interesting story to tell you, Julian."
The man people called the Prince of the City regarded the trembling, battered form on the floor for a long moment. It could have been a trick of the light but Face was prepared to swear up and down that those dark, intense eyes turned pale green for a few seconds. And then, Julian turned his gaze to Hannibal.
"Once again, my family and I are in your debt, Bryan," he said quietly.
It was just hair dye and a costume but it was really something to see Hannibal in this other persona. If Face didn't know better, he would have given this man a wide berth if they'd ever met on the street. There were just some people one avoided, if one liked the idea of living longer.
"No debts between us, Julian. It was a pleasure to help out an old friend," Hannibal replied.
Luna smiled faintly.
Murdock could be heard humming the theme from "The Godfather" faintly in the background. He stopped when B.A. nudged him in the ribs.
"Madame Vida," Julian said courteously. "I do apologize for bringing this trouble to your doorstep. Rest assured, no one shall bring any grief to you or yours ever again."
"Oh my," Mama Vee said, her eyes fluttering and pressing a hand to her heart. Man, this guy could really turn on the charm when he wanted to, didn't he?
Julian Luna was as good as his word. Mama Vee and the other Aunts were quite surprised at Julian's rather generous donation towards the damages incurred in the club. The cops did come in later to haul the other bad guys away although Face could bet the odds of the actual assassins who'd gone after Julian ever ending up in jail were nil. Some things just didn't bear thinking about.
And as for Antoine Devereaux…
Well, there were a number of stories that floated about but they all thought that the one most likely to be true was that it was Devereaux's own allies, the Colombians, that had turned on him. After all, going up against Julian Luna after this humiliating defeat was suicide and they needed some way to appease the Prince of the City.
Whatever or whoever did it, the facts were fairly simple – Antoine Devereaux or what remained of him anyway, would be found washed up on the banks of the river a few days later. The cops, of course, would just chalk it up to another gangland killing – not that Devereaux would be sorely missed.
No, no one was going to mourn Antoine Devereaux at all.
It was Satine's last performance.
Since it was to be the last, Aunt Louisa and Mama Vee would never forgive him if Face didn't make it good. Face flatly refused to go drag if a Certain Somebody didn't join him on the stage.
Of course, since everyone was in agreement that it would be, as Mama Vee put it, "positively criminal" to put Hannibal in a dress and B.A. himself begged them not to sear his eyes with the horror of his commanding officer in full-on drag queen glam, the Ladies had gone the other way around.
Damn it, did Hannibal have to look that good in a classic white tie and tails? And with his hair back to its normal silver color, it just made him stand out all the more.
Hannibal sat down solemnly at the piano bench, hands flying expertly across the keyboard as Face crooned to the music. Somebody Up There had to really be into the irony thing because this set called for Face's Satine to seduce Hannibal's Passionate Pianist.
Or maybe Aunt Louisa had overdosed on her romance novels yet again.
And if Murdock put her up to this, Face was going to kill him.
Still, both of them were very good actors by nature and Face recognized the sparkle in his Colonel's eyes as a challenge. If Hannibal was up for this game, so was Face.
It wasn't as if this would require much acting on Face's part.
It soon became a musical duel between them – Hannibal's piano playing against Face's singing. The music was at times playful, sometimes mischievous and moving eventually to the sultry and seductive.
Just like they rehearsed it, Face soon found himself moving ever closer to Hannibal as the song number drew to a close. Hannibal stood up to meet him halfway, letting Face carry the last notes of the song without accompaniment.
Face gently traced his hand down Hannibal's cheek as they drew close to each other, mouths barely centimeters apart. Just a little closer and this would be a real kiss.
And then, somehow, they were kissing and Face wasn't really thinking at this point.
To his surprise, Hannibal tasted faintly of bourbon.
He could feel the other man's hand cradling the back of his head and there was just nothing more than that kiss, hot, sensual, demanding and rendering him utterly weak in the knees and Face didn't want it to end because he'd wanted this for so long and then his ears registered the sound of applause…
And they weren't kissing anymore.
It was an act – yeah, it was an act, part of the show. The kiss hadn't been part of the rehearsal but Hannibal tended to change things at the last minute sometimes and Face had learned to go with the flow. The other man's eyes were glazed just a little but they didn't stay that way for long as Face grabbed his hand and they took their respective bows as the audience cheered and the lights dimmed.
It was an act, just an act, nothing more.
Later, when Face had finally gotten himself out of that blasted get-up and was, thankfully, back in a nice suit and shoes that let his feet lay flat on the ground instead of arched up in an unnatural position, his face scrubbed clean of make-up, he got a knock on his dressing room door. This was Mama Vee's actually but she'd let Face use it for the time he was doing this whole "drag princess" gag.
Yeah, it was Hannibal, thankfully back in his own normal clothes. Face didn't think he could pull this off if his Colonel was still in costume.
"That was some kiss, Boss," Face told him cheerfully.
He was prepared to swear that Hannibal's cheeks were faintly flushed. Had to be because of all the excitement of the evening, right?
"About that kiss – " Hannibal began.
"We didn't rehearse it," Face finished for him. He was used to finishing the other man's sentences – it was funny how at times they would seem to think along the same lines. "I know. But I think we managed to pull it off. Although I think Murdock's not gonna let us live that down and I think we managed to give Bosco nightmares…"
Hannibal blinked. "We managed to pull it off…?"
Face patted the older man on the shoulder. "All part of the show, right? No business like showbusiness… but I'll leave that to you next time. You're the one who should be in the movies, not me."
Hannibal shook his head and then laughed, the sound oddly rueful. "All part of the show, is it, Face?"
"All right then," Hannibal said and ruffled Face's hair.
"Hey! You have any idea how hard it is to have this stuck under a wig for the past couple of weeks?"
"I don't know, Face, you looked like you were having a lot of fun out there, all dolled up like that…"
Yeah, this was a lot better, as the two of them bantered easily together, just like always. That kiss was just an act, part of the show.
It was nothing more.
- end -
I know, I'm really, REALLY evil that way.
"Uncle Morrie" - Sooner or later, I feel the need to do Fandom Soup. I challenge you guys to find out, from my other fics, exactly who is Murdock's "Uncle Morrie." There's a very good reason why Face ended up feeling the Cold Chills of Dread and Doom at the mention of Morrie's name. Nyahahaha!
Suffice it to say that there is a VERY good reason why Murdock feels so at home in the sky - please to blame his relatives kthnx.
On the other hand, there is also a very good reason why Hannibal, at his age, looks as good, is still incredibly fast and will be the very, very tough battle-hardened commander that he is for far more many years than most ordinary men could. I'll get around to explaining that. Eventually. :P
And I find it delightfully ironic that they are "Rangers." (hinthint - cackles)
Face's Background - Yep, this is me playing merry hell with fanon/canon conventions yet again. I got tired of the whole "Face-was-an-abused-orphan" shtick and as this is movie-verse, I decided to change things up a little. That teenage!Face was adopted by drag queens straight out of "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" was just icing on the cake.
Hannibal as Bryan Mills - you guys just KNEW I had to do that, right?
Fandom Soup - Yep, I'm referencing a lot of movies and fandoms in this fic. Could not resist. So, I challenge you guys to name me ALL of the fandoms that appeared here or got referenced. (cackles even more evilly) Kudos points go to the person who gets everything or as many as they possibly can!
Julian Luna – If you know your TV, then he is EXACTLY who you think he is.
Face Muse: Like I told you, it was an ACT!
BA Muse: Whatever. I just don't wanna think about it.
Murdock Muse: A kiss like THAT and now they're BOTH in DENIAL?
Me: (facepalms) They're YOUR CO and XO! You tell me.
(Hannibal Muse is VERY conspicuous by his absence)
BA Muse: (hopefully) Shoot me, now?
Murdock Muse: How about some Coconut curry tapenade instead, Bosco? With toast points.
BA Muse: Git your apron on, fool!
Face Muse: What? What are you guys all getting riled up about?