Matter of Trust

When he comes to, groaning softly at the ache in the back of his head, he notices instantly that his hands are cuffed and chained behind his back; only it's not just behind his back, it's a steal beam as well. "Fuck." The memory is blurred, he knows he was leaving the hardware store, he knows B.A was just around the corner, he doesn't know who got the jump on him or even how they did it. All he knows is that his shoes are missing, along with his belt and he's chained, on his ass, with what feels like iron manacles. This is not a good day.

It's a minor battle to pull himself to his feet, his left ankle twinges with pain when he puts pressure on it and his shoulder strains slightly with the angle used to pull himself up, but he manages it. One look around tells him that it's a warehouse, but it doesn't really help beyond that. They're in New York. Every other block in this district has warehouses on them. Limping around, twisting to see the rest of room, Face finds a table, on it are his shoes, his belt and his phone along with a note. There's a scribbled number, and the initials G.C.S. It's a game, he knows that much, although he's not sure who would play this sort of game with Hannibal.

He has to twist, using his hand to dial the number he has memorised like all the others, careful not to slip on a button and hit the dial before twisting again and nearly dropping to his knees in order to speak into the phone. He hears two rings before it's answered.

"Hello." The brisk, sharp tone tells Face all he really needs to know.

"I take it you're having a lousy day too?" There's a sigh on the other end, and Face can hear Hannibal telling B.A and Murdock that it's him.

"Kid, where are you?"

"I'm not-" there's nothing outside that could tell him, just the landscape of buildings blending into buildings and fading out into blue sky, "I'm not sure, warehouse somewhere. Um, I'm kinda chained to it too."

"Right," it almost sounds like Hannibal expected it. "You okay?"

"Mostly, killer headache." Meaning whoever took him out took him out hard, and to the back of the skull too.

"Face, can you see instructions? A number, a place, anything?"

"Saying where I am? I'm not sure any kidnapper is that polite Hannibal."

"Not where you are, where we're meant to go." Hannibal's tone is terse, snappish, and Face realises then that Hannibal knows more than Face does, and that's okay, that means Hannibal can make the plan.

"Just a four digit and GCS." He leans up a little, reading off the number for Hannibal, "What's going on?"

"Kid," that tone, that weary, almost panicked tone, worries Face more than the fact that he's being held captive somewhere with no one else around. "Don't worry, we're coming to get you, okay? Keep the phone close, I'll call when I can."

"Yeah," Face worries his lip between his teeth, because there's definitely something Hannibal isn't telling him, definitely something wrong. But Face has enough faith and confidence in Hannibal to know that the old man is coming and all he has to do is sit tight till then. "Don't suppose you could be quick about it though?"

"Fast as we can Face." And there's a moment of silence before they both hang up and Face sinks to the floor. Just what the hell is going on now?

/

There's a second when Hannibal considers throwing the phone against the wall in anger, but he holds off, he knows that the kid will panic if there's no word. It has nothing to do with Hannibal's own need to know he can call Face and hear his voice. When the call came in, the first one, almost three hours ago, Hannibal had almost laughed at the absurdity of it. He'd thought it was just a crank call, some idiot kids dialling random numbers with stupid threats. Until B.A came back and told him that Face was missing.

Hannibal can't remember a time he felt so damn numb for so long. The only relief was when Face called, and even then it was short lived. He'd been told that his Lieutenant had a locker number and destination for him. Being between jobs was supposed to be that relaxing time where they pulled together before setting out, falling into the role of vigilantes for hire hadn't been difficult, it was what they did, only now they did it for average Joe people instead of the military. He's angry at whoever even dared to take Face, at whoever thinks they'll get away with this, at whoever it is messing with them. He's just as angry at himself, because he knows he's partly to blame; the boys relax between jobs, they act like it's down time -they never have down time anymore.

"B.A, Murdock, I want you to go back to the hardware store, see if anyone saw anything. We need to know who we're dealing with. Find anything you can." Murdock's been biting his lip and wringing his hat out ever since B.A came back without their Lieutenant, B.A's been pacing with his muscles tight and tense, Hannibal knows he'll have B.A's guilt to deal with later, but right then he's too busy with his own.

"Shouldn't we find Face first?"

"I'll work on that, this guy wants something. Given us directions. I'll follow those, they should lead me to Face, you two are going to find this guy and string him up." B.A growls slightly, clenching his fists and nodding. It's best to give B.A something to focus on, while Face is missing, give him something to do. Even if it is shaking people down for information.

"C'mon Murdock, we got people to see." With a sigh and a glance back at Hannibal, Murdock trails out after B.A. There might be clean up to do later, but right then, there's nothing that will get between the team and their missing member. Hannibal is left with a phone in his hand, a four digit locker combo and the initials that Face gave him.

It's easy enough to figure out GCS is Grand Central Station, what worries him is what he could walk into when he opens the locker. They would've run headlong into it had this been one year ago, but Hannibal is almost paranoid in his acceptance of occurrences now, and if there's one thing he doesn't trust, it's faceless voices on the phone. His fingers move easily over the pad, the number as familiar for him as it is for the others. They may not use it frequently, but there is call to do so from time to time. There's three rings before the answer, "This is Sosa."

"We have a situation." She doesn't trust them, they don't trust her, but she's helpful, she tries, she knows the truth at least. And this time, Hannibal could need her help. "I need you to call Face, and run a trace on his location."

"And when I find him?" When she finds him she'll be obligated to go get him, when she has the location she'll need to take a team out there and pick him up. Hannibal knows the risk, knows that there's the chance he'll have to let Face go to save him. He doesn't intend on letting Face go for too long though.

"You do what you have to do," because Hannibal would rather break Face out of prison than leave him wherever he is, "after you let me know where he is." A heads up, that's really all it would be. And then they'd race to the finish line. Hannibal can wait the twenty minutes it might take Sosa to run the trace, and if it fails, he'll go to the station and see what's going on.

"Okay," Sosa's tone is wary, although Hannibal knows she's partly concerned as well, "I'll see what I can do." And Hannibal is left waiting to the sound of the dialling tone again.

/

The steal beam is good for one thing he supposes, his forehead pressing to the cool steal while the sun glares through the far end window of the warehouse. Face is pretty sure that not a single window is broken or open, he can't even see a door never mind feel a draft. Except for the chilled cement under his knees and the beam against his head, the place is stifling with heat. The chirp of the phone pulls him from the boredom of waiting, pushing himself up, using his chin to accept the call.

"Hello?" It's not Hannibal, that much he knows, unless Hannibal is calling him from an undisclosed number.

"Hello there handsome," he really hadn't expected the silky tone of Sosa on the other end. "What, stunned you speechless, have I?"

"Um, this isn't really a good time, Charissa." In fact it's potentially one of the worst times. "Can um, we catch up later?" He's not sure what would have caused her to call him, they haven't spoken since there was a brief almost encounter three months ago in Texas.

"I hear you're in a little bit of a tight spot." The manacles around his wrists and the beam pressing into the bottom of his spine while he hunches towards the table in order to speak into the phone are testament enough to the tightness of Face's spot. "Don't hang up." And suddenly, it makes sense.

"Hmm, this is the master plan?" He's not sure if he should be worried, offended or disappointed. Hannibal had to call in Sosa? Hannibal had to call for a trace to be run? Or is Sosa doing this because Hannibal has more information? Is there a time limit to how long Hannibal has to find him? There are numerous thoughts running through Face's head and not one of them have a good outcome.

"Part of it, knowing your boss." There's a quietness to Charissa's voice that doesn't really help stop Face's concern. "All in one piece?" And the concern might be catching.

"Yeah," although his hands might lose circulation soon, and his arms were really starting to ache, "I could kill a burger around about now. Or some pizza. God, bottle of water would be nice too." He at least gets a small chuckle from her, and it breaks some of the mild tension in his shoulders. He can't be in too much trouble if she's happy to laugh at him.

"I have to go now," which means the trace is complete, or couldn't get run at all.

"Guess I'll see you soon." The silence answers the unasked question and Face feels his shoulders sag just as much as the chains give. "Yeah, I thought as much." It's bad enough that he doesn't know where he is, but he doesn't know what's going on, or why he is where he is, in the position that he's in. "Did he tell you anything?" It's an unprotected line, that much Face knows, so he won't mention names, it gives them some degree of deniability for later.

"No," of course not, because Hannibal doesn't share more than he needs to and he shares even less with D.O.D if he can. "But we're coming to New York anyway."

"Pretty sure I'm still in Brooklyn." Even if it is Sosa, even if she is bringing the MP's and the riot act and all those little perks of being a fugitive, Face reckons it's better the devil you know right about now.

"Sit tight, handsome."

"Stay beautiful." And Face is left with himself for company again. He's really starting to get bored.

/

The traffic is almost bumper to bumper for the last three blocks and Hannibal ends up paying the cab fare and walking the rest of the way, it's quicker. Sosa was fairly apologetic about not being able to narrow down Face's whereabouts for him, "He thinks he's still in Brooklyn, but really, he could be anywhere in New York." At the very least, Hannibal knows he's still in the state, it's a start. Murdock had called in to say they had a small lead, security camera from the shop across the street from the hardware store picked up a license plate and a partial company name on a van. B.A and Murdock were heading into Queens to check it out while Hannibal went to Grand Central to find out what was in this locker.

He passes the cameras in the station easily, keeping his back towards them and his face obscured, even if Sosa is on her way to New York, he doesn't need to make it easy for people to catch their tails. The lock on the locker is a combination code, and Hannibal figures the number and the combo are the same, turns out he's right. Inside is a single black duffel bag, Hannibal is carefully casual as he unzips the front just slightly to look inside before he extracts it, he doesn't look around as he walks from the station. He's little more than twenty feet outside the station when his phone rings.

"Congratulations Colonel Smith, you've succeeded in the first step towards saving Lieutenant Peck's life," the filtered voice is as steady as Hannibal would expect from the computerised mechanism. Sweeping the area as quickly as he can, Hannibal tries to find who he's talking to on the street, although no one stands out. "Inside the bag are four packages, each package has instructions with them. Do not open these packages, do not proceed with the packages out of order, if you do, Peck will die." Hannibal doesn't get a word in as the phone disconnects and there's a snarl on his face.

He wants to scream, wants to get his hands around this guys throat and squeeze. It takes several calming breaths before Hannibal is able to compose himself and dial for Murdock. "Pan's House of Flying Pizza, this is your operator speaking. If you are calling in regard to-"

"Murdock, give me an update." He doesn't have time for Murdock's strange phone tendencies right then, he needs to know where they are, if they have information, if there's any way they can get this guy without doing what it is he's asking. Hannibal doesn't know the score, but he doesn't like jumping through hoops so aimlessly.

"Well, we've got some good news. Want it now?" That means it's something, and Hannibal considers before shaking his head and looking around again. He doesn't know where this guy is, or how he got a hold of their numbers, he doesn't trust that the phone lines aren't compromised.

"Back at the hotel, quick as possible." Murdock gives an affirmative and Hannibal starts back towards their hotel. He'll walk a few blocks before waving down another cab, just in case. His fingers shake just slightly when he dials Face, waiting impatiently for Face to answer. Hannibal is just about grinding his teeth when Face finally answers. "What the hell took so long?"

"I'm sorry, answering the phone with your nose is so fucking easy." He immediately kicks himself mentally, especially at the near panicked and frustrated tone of Face's voice. Face seems to feel the exact same way if the long sigh is anything to go by, "I'm sorry, Boss, I just-"

"No need, Face. I get it." And he does. Hannibal at least has B.A and Murdock to work with, they had stuff to be doing, Face is stuck on his own, God knows where, chained up and out of the loop. It would drive Hannibal mad too. "We've got a lead to go on, some packages, we'll get to you soon." Hannibal almost promises, but holds back. He doesn't want to break a promise. He will find Face, but it might take a little bit of time.

"Bring something to eat, will ya?" Hannibal smiles, nodding although Face can't see it and Face is the first to hang up, because there's nothing else to say and Hannibal doesn't want to end the call with 'goodbye' anyway.

/

Time passes as usual, and Face can tell the time by the small clock face on his phone, but it seems to have slowed down dramatically. It's like the world is crawling around, and Face hates it. Five minutes feels like twenty, half an hour feels like three. Face knows that Hannibal will come, he will. It's just when he'll come. He gets to that point where his eyes start to droop and he has to fight to stay awake. He spends fifteen minutes trying to get the chains off his arms -he's convinced he was really at it for an hour. With his wrists rubbed raw he's out of things to do again, and sitting there just makes him feel that bored, heavy, sleepy way. And he really doesn't want to sleep.

The phone chirps that annoying chirp again, and Face swears that the first thing he does when he gets his hands free is change his fucking ringtone. He's getting pretty good at hitting the right buttons with his chin. Not so much his nose. "Yeah?"

"Good afternoon, Lieutenant Peck," it's the tell-tale voice disruptor that tells Face this is his so-called kidnapper, "glad you managed to join us." Face thinks there should be something in there to give it all away. Something in the manners, something in the voice -distorted as it is, something about how he speaks. Something should be the key to finding out who this is and just what the fuck is going on.

It doesn't work that way.

"Well, y'know, nothing better to do, chained to a warehouse and all." Even now, possibly especially now, Face is able to keep the attitude. He knows that it's been six hours, thirty nine minutes since he was belted across the head and taken from outside the store in Brooklyn, he knows that Hannibal is probably running out of time, because this jackass probably wants something. But Face doesn't like all the probably's that he's coming up with. "What can I do for you, I'm a little chained up at the moment."

"Ever the comedian. Do you think it will save you, Lieutenant Peck?" Face wants to point out that technically, he's not a Lieutenant anymore, his rank was stripped when he was dishonourably discharged from the Army and thrown in prison. But he doesn't bother. "Do you honestly believe that anything can save you?"

"Where's the fun if you just give up?"

"Fun. Yes, you gentlemen do appear to enjoy your fun." The tone, oh, the tone in that. Face could recommend a psychiatrist to deal with that tone -Murdock's had to see a few here and there; just for the more outrageous of things. "I hate to burst your bubble, Lieutenant, but it's getting dangerously close to closing time, and your Colonel hasn't gotten the job done yet. Time is ticking. Do have fun watching it tick by."

The phone clicks and then there's the hum of the disconnection and Face is frowning at that. He's not sure what it means, although it does tell him that yes, Hannibal has been keeping things to himself and that it's definitely something Face should know. He's about to call Hannibal when he thinks better of it.

Whatever this 'job' is that Hannibal is meant to be doing, calling the Colonel might screw it all up, and Face doesn't want to do that. So he'll wait, again. He doesn't feel like sleeping now, he's not sure he could, not with all the possibilities that won't stop forming in his head.

/

The four packages are spread out over the bed, Hannibal glaring at them like they'll snap and suddenly change into something that tells him the location of his missing Lieutenant. They don't, nothing changes, and they just lie there, perfectly innocent and innocuous. Hannibal is still staring at them when Murdock and B.A burst into the room -well, Murdock bursts, B.A just follows. Murdock is thrumming with energy and nervous excitement and concern and twitching just ever so slightly. What makes it worse is the amount of coffee Hannibal knows Murdock has been drinking to keep focused.

"What'd you get, what'd you find, did you see him, was he there, what're those?" It's a running sentence and Hannibal glances over to B.A who simply shrugs and leans against the wall. B.A isn't just as tightly sprung, meaning he got to punch someone or something in the last hour or so. Which is a good thing really.

"Four packages, they all have instructions, we're meant to follow them and in order. I got another call, yes, but I wasn't able to see anyone." If Hannibal had, there would've been a mess to clean up. That much is true. "What did you find?"

Murdock is practically bouncing on his heels right then. "Show him, B.A, show him!" Hannibal raises an eyebrow as B.A unfolds a piece of paper from his pocket and places it on the bed. It's a picture, still frame of what Hannibal assumes is the store across the streets video camera. His jaw clenches for numerous reasons. It's a still of the exact moment Face is struck, a small pipe across the back of Face's skull, Hannibal can see that much. But the image is grainy, and it's difficult to make out the face of the attacker.

"Did you get a better description?" Because Murdock can't be that excited about this.

"We got better. We went to this company, Everglades Evershades, they install those cool blinders on windows and stuff where you just push the button on the remote and the blinds close over the window. Anyway, we spoke to their woman on the reception desk, her name was Lisa, she was really nice, Face would've gotten a date with her, I'm sure. She said that the only person out at that time was Nick -he's their morning man, and he was down in the area. So we talked to Nick and he tol-"

"Fool, quit rambling." B.A has a hand over Murdock's mouth and the pilot stares wide eyed as he's effectively shut up for the moment. "Dude said that he saw a guy take down Face, he was gonna call it in until he saw the car they took Face away in. Said it was something that belonged to the boys down by the docks." Murdock pushes B.A's hand away from his mouth.

"Those boys apparently run guns and drugs and a few instances of human trafficking too. Said that the ring leader is a guy call Murry Neeman." Hannibal takes a minute to digest all the information. He can only guess what's inside all these little packages then. "You gonna call her?" Murdock is still thrumming, but it seems the worst might be over now that he's gotten all the words out. Hannibal knows exactly what Murdock means, and so does B.A, watching Hannibal expectantly. It's with a sigh that he picks up the hotel room phone and dials.

"This is Sosa." His eyes roll, because he doesn't really understand why she answers the phone that way all the time.

"What do you know about Murry Neeman?" Hannibal doesn't bother with pleasantries, he doubts Sosa minds.

"Arms dealer, drug dealer. Works out of New York; and I mean all of New York, he doesn't have his fingers in the pie, he has his whole fist in it." Sosa turns a little quiet, her voice a little louder than a whisper, and Hannibal remembers again that she is risking her career here. "Rumours are that he's dealing in military grade weapons and selling them to insurgent groups in the middle East. He's pretty much arming the Taliban." This is not good, in fact, this is worse than not good. "Smith, you can't keep calling me. We're on our way to New York now. This is not a good time."

"Neeman is the one that grabbed Face. He's being held in a warehouse somewhere and in three hours, that warehouse is going to explode." Hannibal hears her cursing on the other end of the line.

"How can I help?" Hannibal should be glad that she apparently still cares for Face's safety. He's not sure if he does yet.

/

Face has worried himself into knots by the time the phone rings again, and he really is sick of that damn chirping. He's just a little strung out, just a little frustrated and just a lot confused. "Yeah?" He can't even be bothered with checking to see who is calling.

"Hey kid," Hannibal's voice is almost enough to unknot a little bit of that tension, almost enough to wind down a little bit of the gut churning that he isn't going to call fear but he's pretty sure that's what it is. "How're you holding up?"

"Holding up? Does someone want to explain what this nutjob means by 'time is ticking away'? Cause I'd love to know." There's panic in his voice, he knows there is, but he's been left thinking on it all with nothing to distract him except the possible changes in his ringtone -which took less than four minutes to decide on, for the last hour and a half.

"What are you talking about?" Hannibal has that tight tone, that tight, controlled voice that tells Face he's not going to like what he hears.

"He called, wanted to shoot the breeze, talk about the weather. And how I could enjoy watching time tick away." The possibilities, they seem endless. He already knows that Sosa is coming to look for him, already knows that there is the chance that this isn't some abandoned warehouse and someone will need it for something eventually, there's also the possibility that this is an abandoned warehouse, and no one will need it, ever again. It's not a happy thought.

"His name is Neeman, Murdock and-"

"I don't care what his fucking name is, Hannibal. What the fuck is he talking about?" Snapping at your Commanding Officer, no matter how technical you want to get about the discharge and how it's not really your CO anymore, isn't always a great idea. But Face can't pull his nerves back at this point, he's far too strung out to keep cool.

"Face, you need to calm down."

"That is easier said than done." Because Face doesn't think calm is at all possible, "I'm chained to a steal beam in an empty warehouse listening to fucking birds make a noise while waiting for someone to come and apparently, I'm running out of time. My ass is numb, my ankle's the size of a baseball and I'm loosing feeling in my arms." If his shoulders ever sit right again, it'll be a miracle. "What the hell does it mean?"

There's a sigh, and Face can tell that Hannibal is bracing for bad news; it's like the time in Rio that Hannibal had to explain to Murdock that Hammy the wonder Cockroach got stood on. "The warehouse is rigged." It's completely monotone, and Face tries to remember what scenario number being blown up was. "If we don't get what this guy wants done in time," Hannibal really doesn't need to finish the sentence, so he doesn't.

"When?" There's silence, except for the breathing and near constant noise of birds, "Hannibal, when?"

"Seven tonight." That's two hours from now, just over two hours from now.

"Oh." His blood feels like ice and Face is trying to figure out just how much C4 it would take to bring down the building. If he's lucky, he'll be crushed instead of fried. He's not sure he'd like to be fried. "But you have a name?"

"We have a name, we're going to find you." Dead or alive though, that was the stumbling block.

"Yeah, sure, course." Face's faith in Hannibal is immeasurable. He's done some of the most insane things because Hannibal has said they'll work, he's gotten some of the most ridiculous supplies because Hannibal says he needs them, he's trusted in the most unrealistic plans and strategies because Hannibal made them. But even Face has to be realistic eventually. "You ah, you should probably know that there's a lock box in L.A, City Bank. It's got a few passports, health insurance, couple grand cash."

"Face, I don't need to-"

"Hannibal." Face doesn't want to have to do this later, he'd rather do it now so that he can have his own personal freak out afterwards and then stop thinking straight at all. "It's under the name Kevin Phelps. Just...just in case." And Hannibal is silent again for a minute and a half as far as Face can count.

"We are coming to get you, you are going to be fine."

"Sure, but just in case."

"B.A's got an address for Neeman. We'll get there, just," just wait? Just stay put? Face snorts on a laugh.

"I'll be waiting." And Face needs to cut off the line before he does something stupid like sob.

/

Hannibal is a well contained, almost bursting, emotional wreck by the time B.A pulls up in front of the sports bar that is a rumoured hot spot for Neeman and his crew. This had to work, this had to be the place and they had to get their answers. Face was running out of time and Hannibal refused to let this happen. Hannibal was already set to do whatever it took to get what he wanted out of these people.

Whatever it took.

B.A went around the back of the bar, holding off the back door in case anyone made a run for it and they lost Neeman now, Hannibal and Murdock walked through the front door. The place wasn't busy, in fact there were no more than twelve men in the bar, adding up to thirteen as B.A pushed another through the back door into the main bar. The chatter died down instantly and Hannibal spotted their man surrounded by four beefy body-builder types. Two went for guns, but Murdock was quicker, his gun in his hand in an instant on one bullet landing right between one of the guys legs, splintering the stool he was straddling. "One more move, Muchaco and I aim a little higher, eh?" Everyone froze.

"We got some talking to do, pal." Neeman wasn't an imposing man. If anything he looked like what Face would call a trust-fund baby. The groomed appearance, the smart suit -even in a sports bar. He flinched when Hannibal grabbed his collar, and Hannibal was sure it wouldn't take an awful lot to get what he wanted out of Neeman. It was a good thing and a pity all the same; as much as Hannibal wanted to beat the snot out of the guy, Face was more important. Hannibal left Murdock and B.A to watch over Neeman's friends, dragging the wannabe through the back door that B.A guarded and shoving the idiot against the wall. "Where the fuck is Face?"

Neeman glanced around, his nervousness showing in his quick movements and the shallow, accelerated breathing. "What're you, what're you- I ah, I dunno where Peck is, I don't." His accent was thick, hands coming up and waving and going down again as he glanced around again for an exit.

"Wrong answer," Hannibal landed a punch solidly into Neeman's stomach, doubling him over where he stood and knocking the wind out of him. "Where is he?" There's a wheeze from Neeman, hunched over and nearly sliding down the wall and Hannibal shakes his head for the world of arms dealing if this is the master behind the plan. He's near pitiful, nothing that Hannibal had expected given Sosa's intel on the man. It meant that Neeman was just a front man, someone else pulled the strings. "You have two seconds to tell me before I give the big guy a shout and let him deal with you."

"I swear, I swear, I don't know. I got paid, I got paid to give my guys the job," there's an almost frantic tone to Neeman's voice that Hannibal pushes him up right. Hannibal knows that the glare on his face tells Neeman to talk and to talk quick. "Some guy, works for one of my buyers, says he needs a guy grabbed from the streets, gives me ten grand just to pick him up and drop him somewhere. I figure it's easy money." Hannibal almost punches him again. "Then I find out this guy just had my guys nab Peck, one of you guys, I ain't had nothing to do with him since then, I swear, ain't said nothing."

The most infuriating thing is that it's probably the truth. One look at Neeman is enough to tell Hannibal that the guy is strictly hands off. It's one thing to sell the goods, it's another to dirty your hands with them. "Where were you told to drop him?"

"South Brooklyn, the warehouse joint on 35th street, beside the marine terminal." It's still a wide search space, and Hannibal is running out of time and patience. He grabs Neeman by the collar again, dragging him back to the main hall of the bar.

"These guys are the ones who saw fit to knock out and kidnap Face." Neeman is shoved into the wall, just as B.A growls and cracks his knuckles. "Why don't you two let them know how we feel about this?" Murdock and B.A against thirteen low-life thugs isn't really a fight, but Hannibal knows that both of them need this, and they'll need it even more if the worst comes to the worst. "I'm going to go collect our boy." Hannibal stalks towards the entrance, steeling his jaw and posture. Murdock shoots him a look that states he wants to argue, but Hannibal ignores it and Murdock turns his attention back to B.A.

"Hey, B.A, you ever heard that song, 'Thirteen stupid thugs, thrown over a bar'?" There's a growl of a response from B.A as Hannibal steps out of the bar and into the car. He's got eighty four minutes to get to South Brooklyn. Hannibal is tearing along the streets, barely keeping himself in check to obey the laws, he doesn't need to get pulled over, not now. His thumb dials the number almost on autopilot as Hannibal splits his attention between the road and the phone.

"Yeah?"

"I'm on my way kid, I'm coming." He's not sure if he's trying to reassure Face, or reassure himself.

"Where am I?"

"South Brooklyn," and the kid would probably get a kick out of being right about the borough he was in later. Right now, all there was over the line was a snort and the clink of chains.

"And where are you?" Hannibal pauses for a minute, because he knows what Face is working out.

"Manhattan." There's still the fact that it's just before six, the roads are getting busy, Hannibal has eighty minutes. "Face, I'm coming, I'll get there in time and I'll get you out. Trust me."

Hannibal knows that Face trusts him, all of them trust him, just as much as he trusts them. Hannibal has never had to ask Face to trust him before, it's an indication as to just how resigned to fate Face is. "Bring the bolt cutters." It's all Hannibal needs to hear.

/

Despite the belief, despite the trust and faith and the knowledge that Hannibal is coming, Face can't bring himself to truly believe it'll be enough. While time seemed to be slow before, it's gotten to the point where every second seems to be on fast forward and time is slipping away. Face tries to count how long it should take to drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn, but he doesn't know the area well enough, doesn't know if Hannibal knows any short cuts -B.A might, was B.A driving? He knows that he's at the ass end of Brooklyn too, and that means Hannibal has all of Brooklyn to navigate to get to him.

It's the waiting that kills, the fact that he can't do anything but sit and wait and hope that this isn't when Hannibal follows the trend, just like everyone else. He doesn't like to indulge in his own little pity party, but he's going to be blown up in fifty six minutes, he figures he's entitled to a little bit of feeling sorry for himself. Five hours ago, he rubbed his wrists raw trying to get his hands free, four and a half hours ago he nearly pulled his elbow out of place twisting his arms for some give, four hours and nine minutes ago he was almost driven crazy by an itch on the end of his nose, three hours and forty three minutes ago he noticed his fingers were numb, two hours and eleven minutes ago he found out he was probably going to be buried in the rubble of an exploding warehouse, two hours and six minutes ago he rubbed his wrists until the bled, and he still couldn't get his wrists free.

There was nothing else he could do, there was to way to get manacles that were welded shut off his wrists, because they were never meant to come off. Face wants to just tell his mind to shut up and to just trust that Hannibal will be there, slamming in, doing his thing and that they'll look back at this as another time Hannibal's schemes paid off just in the nick of time. But there's something else right there that says Hannibal has to screw up once, just once. From the age of five onwards, Face resigned himself to always being let down somewhere; a mother that said 'I'll be right back' and still hasn't held up her end, a foster family that don't follow through on their promise, kids that never came back, nuns that told him 'this is the one' even when they know it's not, his first CO that left him behind, the comrade that gave up and left him to carry the dead weight as far as he could, the other CO that just gave up. Something, somewhere, tells him that Hannibal has to slot in there somewhere. It's probably some poetically resounding irony that the one time Hannibal falls to the trend is the first and last time.

It has a nice way of rounding it all off, in Face's slightly messed up, run down opinion on the matter. The phone gives its annoyingly constant chirp and Face pulls himself to his knees with just a little bit of struggling to hit the answer button. "What now?" He's not sure how much more of this he can take.

"Your Colonel isn't playing by the rules." Face actually hits his head against the table in front of him. "That's not nice, he went off script, you've got such a habit of going off script. Don't you?"

"You know, I've got what, thirty seven minutes left of my life? I'd love if they weren't spent listening to you." He's three seconds away from just hanging up.

"Would you rather they were spent listening to Colonel Smith die?" It stops him cold.

"What?"

"I don't like breaking rules, Lieutenant Peck, I don't like going off form. Colonel Smith isn't following the directions. The directions are meant to be followed." It's almost like the disruptor isn't working anymore, there's the hint of a voice, the crack of electronic under the fairly unimpressive bland voice. "I wouldn't trust the time, Lieutenant, not when there's no order to the sheet." And there's just the dialling tone.

It's clumsy and uncoordinated, and Face makes four mistakes trying to dial Hannibal's number with his chin and nose. Hannibal takes nine rings to pick up and Face is losing his patience by the time Hannibal barks out, "I'm driving here, kid, what?"

"He knows you're not following his directions, I'm pretty sure he's gonna just blow the place, you an- wait, why are you driving? What's B.A doing?"

"Probably beating the shit out of whoever hit you over the head this morning." It's such a Hannibal answer that Face wants to hit his head on the table again.

"And Murdock?"

"With B.A."

"Are you insane! You're alone? What the hell are you-" Face trails off, because that noise, that dull but constant noise, it's... "Um, Hannibal?"

"What? Kid, I need to-"

"I'm pretty sure the building just got set on fire."

"Fucking shit." That pretty much sums up the whole day.

/

Hannibal drives the last fifteen miles without care, he breaks the speed limit, he runs seven red lights, makes several illegal turns and drives down a one way street. He doesn't bother about the engine when he pulls up at the warehouse lot on 35th street, it's all he can do to remember to grab the bolt cutters from the trunk and jog along the side of the buildings. Face said there was fire, Hannibal just had to find the fire and he'd find Face.

Twenty six minutes to go.

The problem is the number of warehouses; not that they're all that big, Hannibal thinks they were probably used for storing the old dock equipment before the renovations to the marine terminal. He counts about nine warehouses and not a single sign of fire. When Hannibal dials Face's number, he's answered with a stream of coughing and Hannibal can hear the fire now. "Kid, c'mon, you gotta help here."

"What," there's more coughing and Hannibal knows this means there should be smoke, there should be smoke somewhere, "what do you mean?"

"Are there any windows? Can you see anything? Hear anything? C'mon Face." Being this close, being so very close, hearing the crack of the fire under the near constant coughing from Face, Hannibal could only speculate how bad the fire was.

"I can see the skyline," there's a bite to Face's voice and Hannibal knows that the length of time it took him to make it, from the start of the fire to now, just those ten minutes, he's failing Face and that isn't acceptable. "I can still see the city." Far end, Face was at the far end of the lot and that meant Hannibal needed to pick up the pace.

"Where's the fire coming from? Can you tell?" Now, Hannibal just needs to keep Face talking, keep him conscious, keep him there. There's this dread that's seeping into his bones and Hannibal refuses to lose one of his team, he's made it through the war, he's made it through incarceration, he's made it through conspiracy, he's not going to let this be what takes one of his boys from him. Not now, not Face.

"No, yeah. The far end, maybe." There's choked coughs on each word, Hannibal running towards the last few buildings and there it is, the scent of smoke, the echoing of the fire burning nearby and the sound through the phone.

"Okay kid, okay, I got you. I'm coming." His hand is nearly scorched when he grabs the door handle, and he doesn't stop to care, quickly moving to the far door and trying that one. It's locked, but not hot and Hannibal kicks it four times before the hinges buckle and the door caves. The fire isn't in the small office room, but he can hear it, see the smoke coiling under the door to the main area of the warehouse and Hannibal takes the breath he'll need before covering his hand with his sleeve and pushing the door open and sliding back and away as the flare burst of flames burn the wood around the door frame. It's the heat that hits first and Hannibal knows that this is no accident, there's accelerant all over the far wall, there's fire spreading across the room, catching everything and Hannibal uses the collar of his jacket to cover his mouth as he pushes into the room, ignores the heat and makes himself move headlong into the room. "Face?"

The sound of coughing carries over the roar of the fire and Hannibal finds his Lieutenant hunching as much as he can, arms behind his back and legs curled towards the beam. Hannibal feels the anger boil, feels the regret heavy his gut, the worry and fear and that adrenaline ebbing him along. Face's head raises as Hannibal quickly moves behind the beam, bolt cutters in hand. "Boss," it's that scratchy, raw, hoarse sounding crack to Face's voice that makes Hannibal work faster, although the chain linking the manacles is barely four inches long, it's thick links on almost medieval cuffs that hold Face's wrists behind his back and around the beam. It's a tough effort to get the cutters through the metal, and Hannibal struggles not to let the hiss and near whimper from the hunched body stop him. Face's hands are coated with dried blood and Hannibal can't begin to think about how stiff and sore the kid must be from just sitting there the whole time. The chain snaps and Hannibal leans over to pull the link out, releasing Face's hands in an instant and the kid practically falls over to the floor, hacking up on coughs and groaning.

"C'mon kid, lets go." Hannibal is acutely aware of the time, they've got less than two minutes. There's a hiss of pain when Hannibal hooks an arm under Face's arm to pull him to his feet, and Hannibal would be gentler if they had the time, but he just puts that aside and pulls Face along; he's limping, avoiding putting weight on his left foot, bare feet slapping slightly on the cold but heating cement floor. "C'mon," there's no response beyond more coughing and Hannibal is nearly dragging the kid out the way Hannibal came in, they are less than four feet from the door when the explosion rocks the area. Hannibal is knocked forward from the blast and the heat and Face collides with the wall while Hannibal is knocked into it.

There's a ringing in his ears, and Hannibal is about to reach for his phone when he realises that's not what it is. Face is propped against the wall, staring at what used to be the warehouse -walls crumbling, fire spewing out of every opening, bricks and debris all around them. Hannibal can imagine what the kid is thinking. He's about to say something, about to break whatever sort of daze Face is getting lost in when there's a blur and then a resounding smack, Hannibal grunting as he topples from the force of impact.

"No fair," there's a figure standing over Hannibal, as the Colonel blinks his vision clear and Face groans and tries to move, "you broke the rules." Hannibal sees the baseball bat coming down this time, and braces with the absent thought of 'this is going to hurt'.

/

It's not shock, not exactly, but it's probably something really close to shock. Face isn't really sure what it is. Beyond the constant burn in his throat, the agony of his arms finally being out of the strained position they were and the throbbing on his ankle, he's now got the smoke inhalation and the concussion to deal with. And oh, Hannibal fending off a maniac with a baseball bat.

The first crack of the bat against Hannibal's side had been near sickening and Face could only wince in sympathy as he tried to pull himself to his feet, it only sparked another coughing fit and he was sure that he only distracted Hannibal when he felt like he was coughing up his lungs. It was hard to just stay put, although it wasn't like he was going to be any help at all anyway. Hannibal doesn't take long to turn the tables on their masked attacker. The baseball bat is the only weapon, and while Face tries to keep his breathing steady, his eyes open and make sure that Hannibal really does have control of the situation -really, if he needs to, Face is sure that he could use himself as some kind of weapon- Hannibal is on his feet and disarms whoever it is hiding behind the mask.

For all that they call him 'old man' Hannibal is far from acting like one. There's this almost quiet rage about Hannibal right then, the way fist connects to all the vulnerable areas, the strength and force behind each punch and Face is mildly stunned to find himself quietly beaming inside; this is because of him. Hannibal doesn't lose his temper, he's got more patience than all those Saints Face had to learn about when he was a kid, and more control than anyone Face has ever heard of. But right then, there's nothing controlled about Hannibal at all. It's all his years of training let loose and Hannibal is pulling no punches at all. Face knows that Hannibal is fiercely protective of them, to an extent. They can take care of themselves after all, but when something happens, when something goes wrong like this, there's not much that pulls Hannibal back from that mind frame until the issue is dealt with.

Face is pretty sure that this issue is going to be well and truly dealt with. Hannibal doesn't stop throwing punch after punch until the masked kidnapper is being held up by Hannibal's grip on his collar and there's blood on Hannibal's fist. There's a growl, and Face isn't sure if that's the concussion talking or the smoke inhalation, but Hannibal actually growls as he drops the now unconscious male to the floor. Face coughs mildly, not nearly as bad as before and watches as Hannibal pulls out his phone and punches in a number, it's surprising that the phone doesn't snap in half from Hannibal's grip.

"Yeah, you'll want to stop by the marine terminal in Brooklyn first." Face wonders who it is Hannibal called, until Hannibal looks over at him, nodding slightly, "Yeah, he's good, okay." There's a pause and something passes over Hannibal's features, like the anger is fading and there's just tiredness and Face pushes himself to stand up again. He needs to use the wall for support, his legs protesting, his arms in blazing agony at the movement they're finally allowed and the manacles still around his wrists weighing his arms down and biting into the wounds around him wrists, his left foot taking no weight what so ever, he knows he's been in worse state before, he just can't think of a time right now. "Thanks." And Hannibal snaps his phone shut. Face is well aware that he would've hit the deck then if Hannibal hadn't practically appeared right next to him to catch him. "Careful there, kid."

He just nods, accepting that he's not walking on his own until his muscles get used to movement again and his ankle stops aching. He just leans on Hannibal as they start walking towards the road at the end of the lot. "What about him?" His voice is still that scratchy, raw, sand paper sort of way, and his mouth tastes like smoke and ash and he could kill for a bottle of water about then, but he still jerks his head back towards the unconscious, beaten bloody male that apparently had the whole thing orchestrated.

"Sosa will pick him up." And that explains who Hannibal was on the phone to.

"Oh, okay." Face can only imagine Charissa's face when she sees the damage done. "Don't suppose you grabbed a key for these?" Face rattled the chains a little, raising an eyebrow in question when Hannibal shook his head. "Hm, B.A'll get them off then." Since Hannibal didn't seem to have the bolt cutters with him either, and Face supposed another hour or so with them around his arms wasn't too bad. In the long run. "I'm gonna need a new phone." As hasty as their exit had to be, Face is a little pissed off that he lost the shoes -they were really damn comfy shoes.

"Good," Hannibal's tone is snappish, even as he brings out his own phone, "I could do without having to dial that number again." And Face thinks that's a fair enough reason. "Call Murdock." Hannibal leaves Face leaning against a wall, phone in hand, as he walks along the road at a slow pace. Face knows he's going to either get the car he came in, or pick another one. Dialling Murdock's number, Face hopes Hannibal has the sense to get a decent car.

"Eddie and Sally's Beef House Grill," for some reason, Murdock answers in an Australian accent. "If you're looking for our menu, why not stop-"

"I'd like four steaks, nuked to perfection, hold the sauce."

"Facey!" Face chuckles slightly, sparking a coughing fit that ends up with him hunching over and ready to puke any second. "Face? Y'okay?"

"Yeah, yeah." His voice sounds worse, as if he were a seventy cigarettes a day kind of guy and Face really wants that water now. "Just a little smoke I thought I'd breath in. You guys good?" Hannibal had mentioned that B.A was releasing some of his stress, it stood to reason that it could last a while.

"Almost, B.A's cleaning up shop. He's having a good time. Want me to save you a beer?" Any other time, Face would suck it up, go to whatever bar B.A and Murdock were at, let Hannibal hover and fuss while sipping cold beers with Murdock and watch as B.A threw thugs through a wall. This was not one of those times.

"I really need a shower, buddy. Maybe next time."

"How about we don't have no more kidnappings, eh Facey?"

"Fair enough," there's the flash of lights from a car coming along the road and Face shakes his head mildly at Hannibal's choice of cars. "Gotta go, Hannibal and his rust bucket are here. See you guys in a few, if the ancient piece of crap Hannibal pilfered doesn't fall apart on the way back." Face hangs up to the sound of Murdock's gleeful laugh, staring at Hannibal through the window. "Was this the oldest you could find?"

"Shut up and get in." Although the words could be taken as a snap, Face saw the smirk. Hannibal was getting back to himself. If Face could start teasing, Hannibal could start smirking.

"Did you bring the burger I asked for?"

/

He leaves the car around the block from their hotel rooms, listening to Face complain about the fact that he now had to walk a block in his bare feet and that it fucking hurt was better than nothing, and Hannibal didn't care that the kid was leaning heavily on him. The hurts from that bat were minimal, and feeling Face, alive and there and bitching, that was worth the slight discomfort. They'd stopped on the way in, Face desperate enough to actually get out of the car, limp into a little bodega and sweet talk a little old lady out of two bottles of water. Hannibal was surprised the woman hadn't called the police at the sight of Face. He didn't want to know what Face had said to explain the manacles, blood and soot.

The second they open the hotel room door, Murdock is in front of them and Face almost topples back. Hannibal spreads his hand over the kids back, steadying him while Murdock takes a few steps back at B.A's directing. "Aw, Facey, you got all dirty." The kid runs a hand through his hair and frowns, he's got soot and dust clinging to him, smells of smoke too.

"Nice bracelets." B.A shoots a look at Hannibal as he notices the chains still attached to Face's wrists and Hannibal gives a short nod. B.A's out of the room with a pat on Face's shoulder being the closest B.A would come to saying he was worried.

"Murdock, will you get some disinfectant and bandages?" Hannibal knew that before anyone would sleep, they'd need to tend to Face, sort him out, tidy him up. Make sure he was really alright. They did it any time one of them was injured seriously. Helped ease their own fears with steady reassurance of finally being able to help. Hannibal helped Face over to the bed, pushing the kid to sit down. Murdock comes back with the box of bandages and sits it on the bed beside Face while Hannibal checks on the swollen and bruised left foot. Murdock takes a look and hisses in sympathy.

"What did you do, let Hannibal drive over it?" Murdock doesn't even need to be told as he grabs one of the pillows, shakes it out of the pillow case and then walks right out the door with the pillow case over his head like a hood. Face watches him go, blinking slightly.

"Is it just me, or is he getting worse with this hat thing?" Hannibal just shakes his head and sighs. "You okay?" Hannibal snorts, staring at Face mildly in disbelief.

"Am I okay? I should be asking you that." Hannibal can't help but cup the side of Face's jaw, thumb stroking across those impossibly perfect cheekbones and just thinking about the 'what if' that might've turned out today. "God, we could've lost you." He's so used to just speaking for the team, for them as a whole that he slips into it. The reality is that Hannibal could've lost Face, and that leaves this chill in Hannibal's bones.

There's a clump of noise as Murdock runs down the hall, probably disturbing anyone else in the hotel, coming back into the room with the pillow case filled with ice. Face's foot is propped up the best they can, the ice placed over the swelling ankle and Face keeps the reaction to low hiss and wince at the discomfort, Hannibal knows it's probably just the coldness from the ice. They keep themselves busy when B.A returns, another set of bolt cutters in hand and Hannibal almost laughs at the shocked expression Face pulls. It's a bit of a struggle getting the manacles off, B.A cuts through the metal slowly, stopping when the actions aggravate Face's torn wrists. When the first manacle is cut off, Hannibal peels the metal away as well as he can and Murdock carefully tends to the torn skin around the top of Face's wrist and the cuts around his hand.

With Hannibal kneeling by Face's leg, holding Face's arm steady for B.A to cut off the second manacle, and Murdock sitting beside Face on the bed, tenderly wiping off the dried blood and dressing the disinfected wound, Face starts to lull to the side, leaning just a little on Murdock. They work in near silence, B.A and Murdock lingering even as Face is almost asleep sitting up. Until his stomach rumbles and jerks him back into full consciousness.

"Still waiting for that burger?" Hannibal asks, Face just smirks almost sleepily and Murdock rocks back and forth on his heels.

"I'll go get you one Facey, you want that double bacon, barbecue, cheese burger you like so much?" There's another growl from Face's stomach at the mention of it and Murdock practically howls in laughter as he wanders from the room. "No problem, Facey, my man. I'll get milkshakes to go with it." B.A gives Hannibal another one of those looks before following Murdock out of the room.

"Fool, you'll forget where you're going after the first block," and even if that is the excuse B.A is sticking to, Hannibal knows full well that, just like him, B.A has no intention on letting Murdock or Face be anywhere on their own for the next few weeks. "I'm driving fool." The door slams shut as the indicator that B.A and Murdock have left and Hannibal just shakes his head. He cleans up the first aid supplies, moving the bolt cutters to the far end of the room and runs a hand through his hair as he surveys the area. There's nothing really to do, with B.A and Murdock getting Face some food, with Face's injuries dealt with for now, Hannibal is grasping at straws for what to keep him busy now.

Until Face lifts the melting ice from his ankle and stiffly pushes himself to his feet, wobbling slightly. "What are you doing?" Hannibal has a hand on Face's elbow almost instantly, supporting the Lieutenant as he shakily stands.

"I'm a mess and I reek. I'm going to wash up." It's true, Face is a mess, and the smoke stench clings to everything; his skin, his hair, his clothes. The blood is off his skin, but there's still the dried stain on his nails where the blood collected, soot clings to his hair and skin and Hannibal understands Face's need to get that off at least.

"I'll run a bath." At the very least, the kid could do with a soak to loosen up his muscles. He's still holding his back pretty stiff, arms awkward and tense and Hannibal knows exactly what it's like to have that underused and overtaxed feeling in your limbs. Face isn't limping just as badly anymore, even though he drops the toilet seat the minute he gets into the bathroom and sits on the lid.

"I don't want a bath," there's a whine in his voice and it's the evident sign that Face is getting too tense, "I just want a shower, Hannibal."

"Kid, you can't even stand up for five minutes without toppling over, you're not gonna stand in the tub for two minutes when it's wet." The water starts to run and Hannibal ignores Face's snort as he empties the container of complimentary bubble bath into the water. "Besides, you've just had your wrists wrapped, you can't get them wet." Face will probably accept it better if they use the bandages as the reason he's not getting his shower.

There's no reply, and Hannibal turns to find Face staring at the wall, closed off expression on his face and his eyes empty. He's careful in his movements, because Face doesn't like being startled, and in this state, it's not a good idea. Kneeling in front of Face, Hannibal slides his hand up into Face's hair, stroking gently to pull him back to the here and now. "Hey," it takes a minute or two, but Face blinks back into focus, staring at Hannibal before sighing. "Okay?"

"Yeah, fine. Sorry." Hannibal knows that look, and it's painful to see, especially on Face.

"Hey, it's okay, I get it." Hannibal might get it, but Face apparently doesn't, frowning at Hannibal with a questioning look. "It's gonna take a little bit of time, you didn't think you'd be here right now, so just give it some time."

"I knew you'd find me." Face interjects instantly and Hannibal just shakes his head sadly.

"You thought you were going to die." It's not an accusation, Hannibal can read Face well enough by now to know that the kid thought his number was up. It's not that Hannibal blames him, everyone runs out of trust at one point, Hannibal knows that it won't affect anything beyond here, except that Face will beat himself up about not trusting Hannibal.

"Well yeah," Face runs a hand over his jaw, up his face and through his hair. Hannibal leans over to turn off the water in the bath. "And I shouldn't have doubted you, Boss, but fuck." With all they've been through, all they've seen, all the close calls; there's got to be an end somewhere.

"I will always come and find you." Hannibal leans up and presses a kiss to Face's forehead, and then it only feels natural to lean down slightly and press one against his lips. Chaste at first, just Hannibal's lips pressing to Face's, until Hannibal wants for more and doesn't bother fighting the urge to deepen the kiss. Face pulls back slightly, shaking his head.

"Boss, I'm a mess."

"Who cares?" When Hannibal slides his hand back into Face's hair, pulling him in for another kiss, Face doesn't pull away, instead leaning into it. His hands slide up to Hannibal's shoulders, nearly clinging but Hannibal doesn't mind, he's well aware that he's practically doing the same. Face doesn't taste like the smoke he smells of, he just tastes like Face; right, and easy, and natural. Hannibal is more than happy to stay where he is, licking through Face's mouth, stroking a hand through that still ridiculously soft hair and pressing up against his Lieutenant. But the need for air comes sooner than it normally would, Face's lungs still underexposed to oxygen. Hannibal takes the chance to reiterate the point. "I will always come for you." He'd move heaven and earth for these boys, he'd do even more for Face.

"I know," Face nods, a small upturn of a smile on his lips, and Hannibal knows that Face means it. "I trust you." And those three words mean more than anything else when it comes to Face.

/

Disclaimer: The A-Team does not belong to me. They belong to themselves and their creators. No money was made from this.