Writer's note... This movie-tag fic starts just as the container is lifted revealing Lynch and the plates... and then spiral's on from there with the team's escape and move into the life as Soldiers for Hire. This fic has been sat on my HD for a few weeks as a wip, but I finished it, so apologies if it reads a little 'stop n start'. I hope you enjoy it anyway. TNx.

Soldiers For Hire

Wow. The port of Los Angeles was a complete disaster zone. The ship was destroyed, a hole blown in the side courtesy of Pike, and the containers were littered everywhere like children's building blocks. But, despite the major fuck up in his plan, Face stood and watched with palpable relief as the container was lifted, revealing Lynch with the plates and a gun. Distraction, diversion, division, and finally put him on display for the whole world to see. Perfect.

Sosa and her team immediately moved in and arrested him. It was beautiful.

He helped Hannibal to his feet, the old man obviously hurting, and Face noticed the holes in his shirt where the bullets hit his Kevlar vest. I small ice cold stab of fear made his heart skip a beat at what could have happened if Lynch had decided to aim higher... he'd shot Murdock in the head, after all, but he ruthlessly squashed it, his team was okay, his plan – amazingly – had worked.

Still high on adrenalin, he looked around him, completely awed with the utter chaos, Face's eyes fell on BA and Murdock, heard the big guy asking if the pilot was okay, and Murdock replying that he felt sane. That made Face smile, and he caught Sosa's glance as she walked by. They shared a long look before BA and Murdock approached somewhat unsteadily, muttering something about the differences between a contusion and a concussion, and then the four of them were together.

Face grinned widely at his friend. "Murdock, that was beautiful! You were right! The helmet worked, the ketchup worked great... You did a grand job. You okay?"

Murdock blinked and rubbed at his head again. He wasn't so sure about that anymore, but he attempted to smile anyway. "Just let Hannibal make the plans next time," he requested, and Face nodded slightly crestfallen.

"Oh, okay," he said.

Hannibal grinned at his boys, turning to BA asking "How's the conscience, Big Guy?"

BA looked the colonel in the eyes. "At peace," he replied. Killing Pike had been hard, but he'd saved his friend, and knew he'd done the right thing.

Over their com links, Hannibal had heard Face's desperate call to BA about Pike being on the high ground and his ammunition situation, and was relieved that BA had been there to cover Face. The kid was out of time, a second away from being killed... It wasn't until Face's loud yell of 'Bosco' that Hannibal's heart slowed down.

Sirens of fire trucks and ambulances, and every other conceivable authority could be heard approaching, and Face looked at Hannibal.

"C'mon, kid," the colonel said softly, taking off his Kevlar vest and hooking it over his arm. "Job done."

Face blinked, his adrenalin level all of a sudden plummeting, and he swayed into Hannibal as his world tilted. BA grabbed his arm to steady him and Face yelped.

"Damn, man, you' bleedin'," the big guy frowned peeling his bloody fingers from Face's forearm. Hannibal dropped his vest and held the unsteady man up, concerned and worried as Murdock looked into Face's eyes.

"Bossman, he ain't looking too good," the pilot murmured as Face's glassy blue eyes tried hard to focus.

"Nah, m'good, gimme a minute, guys," Face said softly, giving up trying to focus for a second and closing his eyes. He attempted to stand on his own and grunted in pain when his leg gave way under him. Hannibal cursed and caught him.

"Jesus, kid, take it easy," the man chided but Face shook his head.

"Gonna walk outta here, boss," Face insisted stubbornly. The men looked at each other and nodded. Seemed Face was determined.

Dawn was breaking, and the clear blue sky exposed the extent of the damage, and the team didn't look back.

They managed it to the edge of the docks where Hannibal and his boys were met by EMT's. Hannibal immediately steered Face towards a gurney and deposited him with a stern look telling him not to move. Murdock sat on an opposite one, and they watched as Face was checked out, hissing when scissors slicing into the material of his pants revealed a nasty bruised bullet graze on his thigh.

"Facey, were you shot? Man, that looks painful," Murdock whistled. Face winced and jerked as the EMT manipulated it, sticking temporary butterfly bandages across the worst of the wound.

"Fuckin' stings, man," Face grated between clenched teeth. He leaned back when the EMT started to wrap a thick white bandage around his thigh.

"Here, kid." Hannibal quietly offered Face a bottle of water, which the man took with a small tight smile. He tipped it back and savoured the cool liquid.

Blood had soaked through his black shirt sleeve, and Face startled when the material was pulled away, snagging on the damaged skin. The whole area of his elbow and a good portion of lower arm was missing skin, and it hurt like a sonovabitch! The antiseptic salve the EMT attempted to apply had Face cursing up a blue streak.

"Now, now, kid, language!" Hannibal chuckled, sucking on a cigar, the smoke curling in the light morning breeze.

BA chuckled and sat by Murdock. He picked up a stethoscope and turned to the pilot, grin on his lips. "Do you need stitches? Please tell me you need stitches," he said as Murdock playfully batted him away. Face, now mercifully bandaged up and EMT free, laughed along at the crazy antics of his team mates, and enjoyed the light hearted camaraderie until he looked up and noticed someone talking.

"...would like to extend our most sincere apologies. Good day and God bless." Face caught the tail end of whatever the hell the man said to them. He tipped his bottle and took another drink.

Hannibal, always alert, asked about Lynch, "Where are you taking him?"

"Who?" And Hannibal pointed his cigar at the trussed up man they were escorting away. A smile was his answer.

"Never got your name," Hannibal said instead.

"My name is Lynch."

"Of course it is," the colonel mumbled as he and his team all stared at the man. Lynch walked away.

"Did he just say Lynch?" BA asked and Murdock shrugged and nodded.

Chaos ensued then as the authorities surrounded them with hand cuffs, spouting arrest charges for escaping lawful custody. Hannibal subdued his team when Murdock instinctively fought back and BA growled menacingly at the arresting officers.

Only Face and Hannibal let it happen, each with eyes directed towards Sosa, who was mouthing off at her superior, saying the whole thing was chicken shit, Hannibal and his team were instrumental in the recovery of the plates...

But, it was all for naught. They were escorted to a waiting van and unceremoniously forced inside. Sosa stopped Face just before the vehicle and stood in front of him.

"This is so wrong," she said frustrated. Face shook his head in agreement.

"God, I know it is," he murmured, adding, "Don't worry about it."

"I'll do everything I can to fix it," Sosa promised softly.

"I know you will," Face nodded, even though he knew she was tied by military rules, and it would take a miracle to get them out of this mess. Sosa leaned closer, her warm breath ghosting over his lips.

"So sorry, Face," she breathed before kissing him. Face felt the cool metal in between Sosa's lips and tilted his head, deepening the kiss as she pushed the small item into his mouth with her tongue. He looked at her when she pulled back wondering if she realised how stupid this one little stunt was of her, at the same time as wondering why all of a sudden was she willing to risk her career for them. His eyes followed her when she walked off before he was manhandled into the van.

"Nice plan, Face," Hannibal leaned forward and smiled. Face fidgeted to get comfy, the awkward bend of his injured arm painful.

"Yeah, we just traded Lynches and were going back to prison," Murdock said, clearly not happy

Hannibal turned to him. "We returned the plates, we can hold our heads high, we did the right thing," he stated. To him that was the plan, always the plan.

"Yeah," BA snarked. "This is bullshit!"

"They burned us again, Hannibal," Murdock complained. "We trusted the system and it turned on us!"

"Remember boys," Hannibal said and leaned back. "No matter how random things might appear, there's still a plan... Kid."

Face grinned, Hannibal just knew! "Well, I don't mean to steal your line, boss, but..." he fished the object from his mouth and held the small metal key between his teeth. "I love it when a plan comes together!"

The team grinned at him and Face quickly closed his mouth when the van lurched forward.

Hannibal shuffled around and held his hands out. "Here, kid," he said ready to catch the key. Face leaned down and spat it out.

Two minutes later, they were all handcuff free.

"Okay, we'll have to do the ol' injured prisoner/jump the guards routine," Hannibal said quietly when he discretely tried the door. "Face, you're injured, Murdock shout through to the cab. Be ready, guys..."

-o-

"What the fuck is wrong?" the MP complained as he unlocked the door.

"I toldja already... It's my friend, he ain't well," Murdock said, hamming up the concern. Face moaned louder. The MP looked at his prisoners, saw that they were all still secure and incapacitated and cautiously climbed in.

The next ten seconds were a blur.

-o-

"You wanna get out and gimme your gun, fella?" Murdock smiled as he knocked on the driver's window of the van. The second MP jumped, reached for his weapon and aimed it the pilot.

"Oh tut-tut-tut-tut," Murdock sighed. He motioned to his right and the MP's eyes widened when he saw Hannibal holding a gun to his partner's head. "Do I hafta repeat myself?"

The man clambered out of the cab, handed the weapon over and put his hands up instantly.

"Thank you kindly!" Murdock beamed and passed the gun on to BA.

Both Hannibal and BA marched the two MP's into a nearby wooded area and handcuffed them to a tree trunk, stripping them of anything valuable.

"Wait, you can't leave us here," they squeaked.

"Ah, but I can," Hannibal smirked. "And don't worry, soon as they realised how foolish it was to have only two men escorting Colonel Hannibal Smith and his boys, then they'll come lookin' for ya!"

The MP's gulped. That was Hannibal Smith? Fuck!

In the back of the van, Murdock was with Face frowning at the blood seeping through the thick bandage around his thigh.

"You sure you're alright, Facey?"

"Yeah, nothin' a handful of Tylenol and a good night's sleep won't cure," Face winced and carefully rubbed his arm. He hurt. God, he hurt!

"Hey guys, c'mon, we're outta here," Hannibal grinned and climbed into the cab with BA, unlocking and peering through a divider between them and the back. "So, were to?"

"Oh, Bahamas, bossman!" Murdock grinned. "No, better still, how 'bout Australia!"

"I ain't flyin' nowhere, fool!" BA chimed in over Murdock's nonsensical Australian accented mutterings. Hannibal grinned. As soon as they could, they were going to switch vehicles and drive until they couldn't drive anymore, and then collapse in a small, out of the way motel. Not quite the Bahamas, but at least it should be safe. He glanced over at Face and a frown dampened the smile he was wearing. The kid looked like crap, sat there stiffly, holding onto his arm and grimacing every time the van hit a bump and his leg jarred.

Slight change of plan.

"BA, next town pull over," Hannibal said quietly. BA shot the colonel a quick look and saw the concern on his face. He nodded.

*A*

"For fuck's sake! They what?" Director McCready shouted when the report of the escape crackled over the radio. He slammed the handset down and glared at everyone around him. "Who the fuck's idea was it to have those fuckin' men delivered to the Long Beach US Marshal Service escorted by two – that's only TWO – MP's?"

Charisa Sosa bit her lips together and looked away.

McCready growled and snatched up the radio again. "Find them! And bring me someone's HEAD on a PLATTER!"

"Sir, I'm sure-"

"Don't!" The director's aide immediately shut up and stood uncomfortably straighter. "Don't tell me you'll get them... These men are... are... Sosa!"

"Yes, sir?" Sosa stepped forward at the command.

"What're these men?" McCready snapped.

"The best at what they do, sir?" she suggested and shrugged. McCready glared at her before storming off.

"Get me Colonel Decker!" he shouted slamming a door on his way out. "And find me the fuckwit responsible for this fuck up!"

Sosa grinned to herself. Face and the team had escaped.

*A*

The little motel was hidden from the main road by over-grown poplars, which suited the rest of the place. Old and a little run down, but it had running hot water, clean sheets and was cheap.

Hannibal secured them a room, handing over what little cash they had taken from the prison van MP's earlier to the Pines Motel owner – a little sweet old lady called Ethel. She'd even offered to bake cookies for him. Hannibal smiled but said no to her kind offer.

The room was at the end, and BA easily hid their new van behind an old out building. He gathered the supplies and burgers they'd picked up, and followed Murdock to where he had dropped off Hannibal and Face a few minutes earlier.

The lieutenant had progressively become quieter during the drive, which concerned them all. Usually the man complained and whined like a kid when he was hurt. This silence was unnerving. Hannibal knew they needed some medical supplies to clean and dress Face's wounds, so while BA and Murdock pawned the guard's wristwatches and a chunky gold chain and looked for new transport, the colonel visited the local town dentist.

With his best impression of a man with chronic toothache, Hannibal managed an immediate emergency appointment and was told to wait in the little treatment room for a few moments until the dentist was free. A few moments were all it took, and Hannibal helped himself to Tylenol, antiseptic, bandages, swabs, suture kits, and a handful of sterile syringes. He sifted through the little bottles of clear liquid and frowned, pursing his lips and grabbing what he could. Hannibal was then out of there before anyone noticed he was gone. He met BA and Murdock moments later in their newly acquired van, and they headed to a motel, via a burger place.

The scrap van wasn't as bad as it looked, and with very little money and not wanting to draw attention to themselves, they made do.

Face would scam them a new vehicle as soon as he could.

-o-

"You okay, Face?" Hannibal asked softly as he helped them man onto the bed. Face nodded and hissed when his thigh pulled.

"Yeah, boss, just tired and sore," he murmured and looked at Hannibal. "How 'bout you? You got shot, too, remember."

Hannibal rubbed at his chest. "Bruised, but I'm fine," he said and watched as Face leaned back and wearily closed his eyes, tight lines of pain creased his forehead. Hannibal sat by him and examined the bloody bandage.

"I gotta get this off, Face, see how bad. Okay?" he said and waited for acknowledgement. Face looked down and sighed.

"Yeah, I know. Feels like it's burning," Face said with a wince and absently rubbed his arm.

A knock on the door made Face jump. " 'S'okay, it's only BA an' Murdock," Hannibal said and got up to let them in. "Van secured?"

"Yeah, boss," BA said around a mouthful of burger, handed Hannibal the medical supplies and closed and locked the door behind them. His eyes swept the room, stopping on Face. "He okay?"

Hannibal nodded. "Yeah, big guy, he'll be fine," he said quietly, hoping he wasn't wrong. He turned back to the bed to find Murdock there talking softly with Face.

"It's just a scratch, buddy, don' worry about it," Face smiled patting a clearly anxious Murdock on the shoulder. The kid's smile looked almost genuine, if Hannibal didn't know him, but he did and the colonel saw the barely disguised signs of strain.

"Okay, kid," he said and laid the supplies next to his legs on the bed. "Lemme see your leg."

Murdock moved to the other side of the bed as Hannibal took to Face's bandage with a pair of scissors. BA found the TV remote and was flicking through the channels, looking for any news reports on their escape – so far none.

"Jesus Christ, Facey," Murdock hissed when Hannibal peeled off the blood soaked gauze. His leg was a mess. The temporary butterfly bandages had broken and his wound gaped.

"This needs stitching, Face," Hannibal said lowly, his eyes serious. Face, valiantly trying not to cry out, tightly nodded. He knew that already. He watched as Hannibal pulled out the antiseptic, clean swabs and bandages, suture kits and a syringe with a little bottle of clear liquid.

"Wow, m'impressed, boss," Face grinned. "How'd you-"

"What, you don't think I can scam as good as you?" Hannibal grinned back. He'd never tell Face he was lucky the dentist receptionist turned out to be a pushover for guys who felt sorry for themselves, and he just had to smile goofily, and she was putty in his hands.

"No, nono... I didn't mean that," Face blinked.

"I know you didn't, kid," Hannibal smiled. "Now, hold still."

"Easy for you t'say, boss," Face grumbled but let Murdock help make him more comfortable and turned his face into the pilots shirt with a hiss when he felt Hannibal begin to gently clean his thigh with the antiseptic.

Hannibal looked over at BA, who was now guardedly peaking out of the window. "BA," he called softly. The big guy turned to him. "Need you, man."

Opening blue eyes, Face blinked at Hannibal "What's up, boss?" he asked when he felt BA take a hold of his ankles.

"I couldn't get any local anaesthetic, kid," he confessed with an anxious frown. He knew how much stitching the leg would hurt and regretted not finding any in the treatment room. "I'm sorry."

" S'okay, boss, had worse," Face nodded and smiled up at Murdock. "I'll be okay, buddy, promise. I'm a Ranger!"

Murdock just nodded and squeezed his shoulder.

Pulling the plunger back on a syringe, Hannibal looked at Face.

"Wait, thought you said-" Face started...

"This is morphine."

A grin appeared on Face's lips. "You managed to scam morphine?" he said impressed.

"Cheeky whelp. Yeah, 'cause I'm that good," Hannibal winked before his expression turned serious again. "It'll help with some of the pain, kid."

Face shook his head. He didn't like the feeling of not being in control morphine always gave him, not to mention the fact he was very nearly hooked on the damned stuff a few years previously. "No. Thanks, but no," he said eyes regarding the syringe like it contained the plague.

"Face-"

"Please, Hannibal," Face whispered, fear showing in his eyes. Hannibal knew how close Face came to becoming addicted, and knew it had scared him, knew that he was taking a huge risk giving him more morphine now, but it was either that or stitch him without it...

And the thought of causing Face that much pain made Hannibal feel sick to the stomach.

"I promise, kid," Hannibal said sincerely. "I promise this'll be it, no more, just this one dose... It'll be okay."

Face glanced around the room seeing each of his team mates looking at him worriedly. His eyes fell on Hannibal's and he finally nodded. He'd trust his team not to let him fall, he trusted Hannibal.

Watching the plunger push the morphine into his muscle, Face swallowed hard and took a deep shaky breath. He felt Murdock hold him tighter and decided to draw on the pilot's strength.

A few minutes passed and BA gently gripped Face's ankles again, ready if the man struggled. Last thing they needed was more injury.

"Face?" Hannibal called softly. He peeled back an eyelid to reveal a slightly unfocused eye.

"Think he's in LaLa Land, bossman," Murdock murmured looking down to catch Face softly giggling at something funny only he could see.

"Okay, I'll get this done as fast as I can," Hannibal nodded and picked up the suture needle, wincing when Face jerked at the first touch.

-o-

Twenty three stitches later, Face was trembling and sobbing with pain, tears soaking Murdock's shirt. The pilot had spent the entire time comforting and supporting Face, but the morphine tended to knock down walls, letting emotions free... something that Face hated.

Since they'd known him, the team had only seen Face really cry three times. He'd complain, moan, bitch, pout, throw tantrums, swear and whine like a kid, but cry... that was rare. Even in the days when it was just Face and Hannibal, the colonel couldn't remember ever seeing tears.

The first time was when Hannibal and his boys had witnessed the massacre of a whole village in Thailand. Men, women, children murdered so coldly... And while Murdock wept openly, Face cried silently for a long time when they had to turn away and leave... Too late, they had been too late.

Second time was when Sosa left him. Hannibal had found him slumped on his bathroom floor, crumpled up note in one hand, nearly empty bottle of vodka in the other.

"She's gone," he'd croaked through snot and tears when Murdock gently prised the bottle away as BA and Hannibal helped the distraught man off the floor. "Din' even say goodbye."

The note had read; "Face. I'll send someone for the rest of my stuff. I wish things could have been different. C.S."

The last time was during a team night. An urgent telegram had been delivered, interrupting their fifth viewing of Ghostbusters, and the team watched as Face went white as he read it, tears falling unnoticed.

The telegram was from Face's orphanage. Father Thomas Garcia had been killed in a drive-by shooting. The priest had been a constant in Face's life growing up, until he joined the army... He'd lost his last connection to his childhood. Face jealously guarded his past, even his team mates knew very little about it, and he disappeared for two days then, trying to pull his shattered soul back together.

The tears, though, always shocked his friends. But what made this time worse was the raw vulnerability the morphine exposed when carefully built walls were mercilessly stripped away.

Wrapping the thigh in a clean bandage, Hannibal secured it with surgical tape and sighed shakily, wiping the blood off his fingers. He looked up at Face.

"Hey, kid," he called softly, but Face just shuddered and kept his eyes closed.

"Leave 'im a minute, bossman," Murdock said, his own eyes damp seeing his friend so distressed. "It's jus' the morphine."

"Yeah, I know," Hannibal nodded and stood up to wash his hands. He still had Face's arm to look at. BA packed the suture kit away and bagged all the dirty dressings, casting concerned glances at Face every minute or so.

Face calmed a little and Murdock sighed, hugging him closer. "It's alright, Facey," he murmured softly.

The arm was quick and easy to deal with, the EMT's at the port had done an efficient job and it looked infection free. It was going to give Face some pain and irritation for a day or two, but nothing worse.

Night fell and BA had relinquished the TV remote over to Murdock, who, after scanning the news channels and finding nothing reported on their escape as yet, was sat on the bed picking all the sesame seeds off his burger bun and watching an old rerun of Road Runner, with Face sleeping the effects of the morphine off beside him.

Hannibal checked through the curtains again, becoming a habit now they were on the run, and sipped his coffee, his cold congealed burger forgotten in the bag alongside Face's.

"We leave at first light," he said quietly. BA nodded. They took shifts at watching Face and for any signs of the authorities.

-o-

He woke with a start and saw Murdock kneeling next to the bed and looking concerned at Face. "What time izzit?" Hannibal mumbled pushing himself up on his elbow carefully as to not disturb the sleeping man next to him. It was Murdock's watch.

"Facey's burning up, bossman," Murdock answered instead. In the low light from the bathroom, Hannibal saw the flush on Face's cheeks and quickly placed his palm on the hot forehead.

"Shit," he hissed. "How long?"

"I dunno. BA just dropped off an hour ago, said he was fine," the pilot frowned. "I checked on him twice, he was sleepin' like a baby."

Damn. The fever had hit him hard and fast. Hannibal scrambled out of bed and rifled through the bag of supplies until he found a blister pack of Tylenol, Extra Strength.

He filled a glass of water and helped Murdock prop Face up. "Facey, c'mon, you gotta wake up," Murdock urged, shaking him slightly. Face woke with a low painful moan.

"That's it, kid, c'mon, open those baby blues," Hannibal said. Glassy eyes opened and semi-focussed on the colonel.

"S'hot," Face slurred.

"I know, kid." Hannibal lifted three Tylenol to Face's lips. "Need you to swallow these. Open up."

Face obeyed and Hannibal pushed the tablets into his mouth, followed by a little water from the glass. The pills were swallowed no problem, much to Hannibal's relief, but a second sip of water resulted in coughing and painful spasms when it went down the wrong way.

"What the hell's goin' on?" BA growled when Face's harsh cries and coughs woke him up. He sat up in the comfy chair he was in to see the Murdock and Hannibal trying to hold Face still in case he pulled out the stitches. BA jumped up and helped.

"Easy, kid," Hannibal soothed when the coughing eased off and Face leaned back exhausted against Murdock.

"Damn, he's burnin' up," BA murmured worriedly.

"Oh god... gonna... gonnabesick," Face slurred as he turned a sickly shade of pale green. Murdock held him up as Hannibal thrust a waste-bin under his chin, and Face heaved and retched.

To his dismay, Hannibal saw the three Tylenol in the mess at the bottom of the bin. Shit. He placed a hand against the stubbled cheek and frowned hard at the pained expression and heat. His eyes darted back to the medical supplies and he thought about the morphine he still had.

Hannibal chewed his lip. "He threw up the Tylenol," he told the other two. BA and Murdock frowned.

"We can't give 'im anymore morphine, bossman, we promised," Murdock said knowing what the colonel was thinking. BA grimaced but reluctantly agreed.

Sighing, Hannibal turned back to Face. "Kid, I need you to swallow – and keep down – this Tylenol," he said, watching the washed out blue eyes blink slowly. "Think you can do that this time?"

Face nodded and opened his mouth.

The Tylenol stayed down, and by morning, Face's temperature had come down a fraction. His fever hadn't broken yet, though.

"Hey, Hannibal," a small croaky voice filled the silence and Hannibal turned to see Face watching him. He crossed the room, stepping over BA's stretched out legs, and sat carefully on the bed, hand automatically resting on Face's forehead testing his temperature.

"How're you feelin'?" Hannibal asked softly. He was still rather hot.

"Better, thanks," Face smiled tiredly, wincing and sucking in a breath when he moved. Murdock woke then and immediately placed a hand on Face's shoulder.

"You okay, Facey?" he asked moving the hand to test his temperature, too. Face chuckled.

"Like mother hens," he mused and closed his eyes leaning into the cool touch against his warm skin.

"He's still gotta temperature, bossman," Murdock frowned moving his hand down to Face's neck and chest, leaning in and listening to his heartbeat.

"Yeah, I know." Hannibal pressed out two more Tylenol and refilled the glass. He checked his watch – three and a half hours since the last dose. It was close enough. "Here, kid, take these."

Murdock helped Face sit up, holding him tight when he swayed alarmingly to the side. "Whoa, were'd'ya think you're goin'?"

Hannibal steadied him with a hand, too. "Okay, kid, open up," he said and popped the pills into Face's mouth, encouraging him to sip the water slowly. "Good job. Now, let's see if you can keep them down, huh." He checked his watch. "We leave in thirty, boys."

-o-

An hour later, the team was on the road again. Hannibal was worried. As much as they tried to prevent it, they were leaving a trail clear enough for a rookie scout to follow, they had to find a place to lay low, somewhere safe and secluded where Face could recover.

The early morning sun streamed through the van windows which were opened a fraction to let the cigar smoke waft out as Hannibal studied his map. BA drove steadily, trying not to hit any bumps and Face had his leg propped up on Murdock's lap. He had nodded back off a few minutes into their journey.

"We need to get food, bossman," Murdock said when his stomach growled, his game of I Spy interrupted. If he was hungry, the rest of them must be, too, and Face had to eat something to get his strength up.

"You're right." Hannibal studied the map on his knee. "BA, there's a rest stop soon, we'll stop there."

Face stirred a few minutes later and grimaced in pain when the van hit a bump. "Where are we?" he asked.

Murdock leaned over, felt his warm skin and frowned. He looked at Hannibal and shook his head, Face's temperature was still sky high.

"We're just comin' up on Vegas," Hannibal said.

"We in Nevada?" Face said with a thoughtful frown. "Got money in Nevada," he said softly, eyes closing. Murdock blinked. He did?

"Hey, Facey, whaddya mean?"

"Oh, got lucky an' won in Vegas las' year... It's stashed in a locker in Boulder City airport."

Hannibal stared at Face and fondly shook his head. "BA, head to Boulder City." Face never did anything usual. He hated using banks, never trusted what he couldn't see, and he always spent everything he earned. Hannibal supposed it was because the kid had never had anything, kind of a survival thing... afraid that anything given would be taken away just as fast, so Face used/spent everything he had as soon as he got it.

The same way he ate food out of a can, unheated, sometimes with his fingers.

Not that he ever went without. The man was a seriously talented conman, knew how to play and manipulate people to his advantage... A talent Hannibal had relied on often too, in their many clandestine plans.

He remembered the time Face was talking about, a bunch of Ranger's had hitched a ride on a C-17 to the US and gone to Vegas last year for a stag party. Face had returned completely exhausted and looked like shit after those five days. Clearly a successful stag party.

It was coming close to mid afternoon when they reached Boulder City airport, and Murdock had been whining about food since Vegas.

"Man, if you don' shut up, I'm gonna pound you!" BA growled when the pilot started singing the meow-mix song for the eighth time, this time with hand movements. Murdock stopped and grinned at him. "Crazy fool singin' 'bout cat food," the big guy mumbled as he pulled into a parking stall.

Hannibal chuckled lightly and turned to wake Face. The kid was dozing in and out listlessly. "Hey, Face," he said softly. Face opened his eyes.

"Where are we?" he asked, not really with it.

"At Boulder City airport. D'ya remember which locker you stashed the money in?" Hannibal said, feeling awkward about taking it in the first place.

"Locker?" Face murmured a little confused. Hannibal winced.

"C'mon, kid, stay with me here," he said and gently jiggled Face's good leg. "At the airport in Boulder City... You have a locker with money in it."

"Oh yeah, I do. Ummm..." Face closed his eyes and his brow creased in thought. "Number 252."

"That's good, kid. Do you have a key?"

"No."

Hannibal sighed. Of course he didn't, they'd just escaped from lawful custody.

"Combination lock. Your birth-date, boss," Face said with a smile, and Hannibal nodded relieved, quickly flashed him a grin, and he and Murdock headed into the airport.

BA turned to Face. "You okay, man?" he asked as he fiddled with the car radio.

"Yeah, BA, thanks." BA stopped on a station, his fingers frozen. "Shit, that about us?"

'...The four fugitives, collectively known as the A Team, are extremely dangerous and should not be approached. If sighted, please contact your local law enforcement office. I repeat. Yesterday, Federal fugitives Colonel John Smith, Lieutenant Templeton Peck, Captain James Murdock and Corporal Bosco Baracus escaped from custody, leaving two military police men injured...'

"That's bullshit," BA growled. "Those fuckin' MP's were fine!"

Face looked worriedly over at the huge airport terminal. If the report was on the radio, it'd be on the TV too, in Technicolor!

BA saw him and opened his door. "Wait here, Face," he said as he cocked his gun, one he 'appropriated' from the prison van MP's. Face nodded and watched anxiously as BA pulled on a hat and cautiously made his way inside the building.

Ten minutes later, they were on the road again, this time with food and money. "Jesus, kid," Hannibal whistled when he opened the hold-all. The bag had at least forty thousand dollars in it. Face just shrugged. He'd had a streak of luck that night.

Murdock's food choice was anything that came in a box. So, they had a choice of cereal and Pop Tarts, frozen waffles, frozen pizza, and boxed juice. His choice made Face chuckle, but he still politely refused anything to eat.

"C'mon, Facey," Murdock urged. "You gotta eat somethin'." Face still shook his head and Murdock sighed. "How 'bout some juice?"

"What flavour?" Face asked, if anything to make Murdock happy. The pilot grinned and reached for the bag of juice boxes.

"Grape, orange, raspberry, blackberry, lemon and lime," he read off the labels. Face blinked and his stomach turned at the thought of how sweet the children's juice's Murdock had picked would be.

"Um, grape," he said. Murdock grinned and stuck the little straw in the top and handed it to Face. "Thanks buddy."

"You're welcome, muchacho," Murdock said and quickly felt his forehead. Face was still very hot to touch. "Drink all o'that, now."

Hannibal fished out some more Tylenol and passed them back to Face. "Take these with the juice, kid," he nodded. Face took the pills and popped them into his mouth, wincing at the sweet taste of the grape flavour as he swallowed them, and prayed they stayed put.

"So," Hannibal said after a while studying the map. "The plan is to lay low for the time being. I have an old army buddy who has a cabin up in the mountains near Mesquite, kind of a hunting lodge. Major Harry Jones, retired. He's good people. Figure we'll hide out there until Face is recovered."

The team all murmured in agreement and BA headed for Mesquite. Face managed to finish the juice and keep it and the Tylenol down, and fell asleep again with Murdock watching him with concern.

"How's he doing?" Hannibal asked softly.

"Not too good, bossman." Murdock moved the blanket he'd placed over Face's lap to reveal the bloody bandage. "I think maybe an infection... with this fever, he needs antibiotics, preferably an IV, too."

What Face needed was a hospital, but they couldn't do that, not being the US's latest most wanted federal fugitives. Hannibal nodded, his mind working a plan...

*A*

Much to her surprise, Sosa had been given the task of tracking down and apprehending the A Team – again. That is, until Colonel Roderick Decker arrived to take over. She did her job, loosely... finding the clues, but deliberately misinterpreting them. She was relieved when the trail went dry in Vegas, her own men becoming suspicious of her stalling, and ordered everyone back to base to rethink their strategy.

"Colonel Hannibal Smith and his men are the best clandestine unit I have ever known," she argued. "Trailing all over Nevada will be a waste of time, when we know that they probably won't even be here!"

"With all due respect, ma'am," her lieutenant frowned. "How do you know that?"

Sosa rolled her eyes and pinned him with an exasperated glare. "What would you do? You're a federal fugitive, on the run... Stay in Vegas, hit the casino's?"

The lieutenant had the decency to look contrite. "No, ma'am."

"No," she snapped. "They're probably laughing all the way to Mexico by now!" She climbed into the SUV and slammed the door shut, heart racing and internally shaking. God, that was close.

The trail had dried up in Nevada, that didn't necessarily mean the guys had left the state, in fact she knew they were still there. She just prayed her team didn't realise that, too.

*A*

"GO! GO! GO! GO!" Hannibal hissed as he and Murdock jumped into the van. They hadn't been seen, but they didn't want to increase the risk!

It had been as easy as stealing candy from a baby. The hospital in Mesquite was thrumming with the usual business, and slipping in unnoticed was a piece of cake. Hannibal and Murdock then sneaked into the staff locker-room, stealing the appropriate disguises – sets of scrubs.

All that made the task of procuring what they needed an easy task, and within twenty minutes they were done and back in the van.

"You got what you needed?" BA asked as he calmly drove away. Murdock grinned and even pulled out a box of cigars. "You kiddin'!"

"Nope, found 'em in a locker," the pilot beamed. "Thought boss might like 'em seein' as though he smoked his last one days ago!"

"You priceless, crazy! Priceless!" BA laughed and Hannibal inhaled the scent as he ran the length of one of the cigars under his nose.

"Thanks, kid!"

Face stirred at the noise and cracked an eye open, but lethargy soon won over and the last thing he heard before sleep pulled him under again was Murdock's worried voice.

"Ah man, I'm real worried, Hannibal," the pilot said and bit his lip. "He ain't wakin' up."

Hannibal looked at Face and frowned. "Hang on, kid, we're nearly there," he said thinking of the cabin and getting Face squared away with a healthy dose of the antibiotics he'd pilfered and set up with an IV.

-o-

The cabin was hidden behind a thick bank of trees, and BA slowly pulled the van up to the front doors. A dim porch light flickered on.

"Wait here," Hannibal said quietly and climbed out of the van.

The big barn type door creaked open and an elderly man stood there, loaded shotgun in his arthritic hands. "You're on private property, leave now, or I'll call the police," he growled.

Hannibal lifted his hands and slowly walked towards him. "Harry? It's me, Hannibal Smith."

A second or two of tense silence passed, and then recognition dawned on the old man's face. "Hannibal Smith?" He lowered his shot gun. "God damn! Hannibal!"

A grin broke out and Hannibal approached with confidence and shook Harry's hand. "Good to see you, sir," he said smiling.

"Drop the 'sir', kid," Harry grinned. He turned his head. "Mary, it's Hannibal Smith!"

A gray haired woman shuffled forwards and smiled at the colonel, grabbing the man's hands and holding them warmly. "Hannibal, my boy, it's good to see you!"

"What the hell brings you to Mesquite, kid?" Harry asked, surprised at the sight of his old army buddy. A young Captain John 'Hannibal' Smith had been Harry's right hand man, a long time ago.

Hannibal's smile turned serious. "You haven't heard, then," he said. The couple shrugged. "On the TV? The radio?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "Oh, that bullshit. Yeah. Don't believe a word of it, though," he scoffed. Hannibal grinned again. The old fart never did gel well with the authorities.

Mary looked at the van. "You have your friends with you, Hannibal?" she asked. Hannibal nodded.

"Yes, one of them is injured." He regarded his old friend and his wife carefully. "We need a place to lay low for a while, but we don't want to cause you any trouble."

Mary's eyes widened. "Injured? Oh dear Lord," she gasped, and then ordered, "Inside, now!"

Harry just nodded and smiled. They could hide out there, of course they could.

The team carefully carried Face into the living room and laid him on the long sofa. The man never even stirred.

"Oh my goodness, is he alright?" Mary asked when Hannibal pulled back from quickly checking Face's pulse rate. The colonel frowned hard. He didn't know how to answer that.

"Yeah, he'll be fine, Mary," he said tightly and turned to BA. First things first. "C'mon, big guy, hide the van, secure the place."

BA hid the van and Hannibal and Harry checked all the windows and doors for security.

Murdock, sitting carefully next to Face, stuck out his hand to Mary. "Hello, ma'am, I'm HM Murdock," he smiled. Mary smiled back.

"Nice to meet you, HM Murdock, but less of the 'ma'am', makes me feel old," she grinned. "Call me Mary." She looked down at Face and frowned. Poor boy.

"This is Facey," Murdock volunteered softly. "My best friend."

Mary could see how anxious Murdock was and her heart went out to him. She perched on the side of the sofa and gently rubbed her hand up Murdock's arm in comfort. "So, HM Murdock, I now know you, Facey, and I know Hannibal... Who's the big guy?" she asked softly.

"Oh, that's jus' Bosco. He's my friend, too," the pilot answered quietly, not taking his eyes of Face. Mary squeezed his shoulder.

"He'll be just fine, HM, you'll see," she decided, silently praying she was right.

-o-

Sitting on a stool next to Face, Hannibal gently pulled off the bandage on his thigh, hissing at the infection clearly evident. "Oh kid," he whispered. He looked up, Face was still asleep, although Hannibal suspected he was more likely unconscious now. Gently cleaning the wound had both Hannibal and Murdock wincing and hissing, but not a peep from their patient.

"Jesus, Hannibal," Murdock said as he fingered the ampoules of antibiotics. He handed the colonel a clean bandage and Hannibal nodded as he felt Face's pulse, frowning at the speed of it.

"Let's get him bandaged up, then I can get that IV started," Hannibal said already starting to wind the thick white gauze around the thigh.

Mary brought in a bowl of water and a tea kettle, which she placed by the fire, with tea cups and milk waiting to be served. She joined her husband and they both stood over Face and watched as Hannibal gently secured the bandage.

"Shouldn't he be in the hospital?" she asked. Harry rolled his eyes.

"Mary, sweetheart, they're wanted fugitives, remember?"

With an apologetic smile, Mary nodded. "Sorry."

" S'okay," the colonel said taking the IV from Murdock and swiping an alcohol wipe across the back of Face's hand. Murdock attached the tube to the IV bag, and waited until Hannibal slid the needle into Face's vein, pushed the catheter in, pulled the needle out and taped it securely to the hand. They'd done that so many times in the field it was second nature.

"Pass me the tubing," Hannibal asked Murdock, and he connected the bag of fluids to the catheter, BA hanging it up on a standard lamp stand.

"There're towels and blankets upstairs," Mary said and left with BA to get them. Hannibal nodded, filling up a syringe with antibiotic and pushing it into the port on the IV. Murdock watched and gave Face a worried glance. God, he hoped his friend would get better soon.

-o-

"So, what's the story with you an' these lad's, Hannibal?" Harry asked as he handed the colonel a glass of whiskey.

Hannibal took a drink and winced as it went down. "Happened in Iraq," he started. "We were framed and accused of something we didn't do, sentenced and stripped of our ranks... usual bullshit." He sighed and looked at his friend. "These boys didn't deserve that. I had to make it right, but even that didn't work. We're on the run, Harry."

"Sounds typical army pencil pushing bullshit to me," Harry sneered. Before he'd involuntarily retired, Harry had been forced into a situation where he either carry out some very unsavoury orders or risk being court martialled. The good man that he was, Harry decided it was time to leave. But, he could still hold his head high and proud... unlike the scum he once worked with.

"You could say that," Hannibal murmured, thinking about Morrison and betrayal. He drained his glass. "Missed you when you retired, Harry."

"Yeah, well, figured my time was up anyway, an' Mary was pleased to have me home," Harry shrugged. He'd given the best years of his life to his country, fought with and lost many men. He never regretted retiring at the rank of major, just the circumstances surrounding it. He turned to his old friend. "So, whatcha gonna do now?"

Hannibal contemplated. He knew what he wanted to do – clear their names, clean their records... but in reality... "I don't know," he admitted softly.

"Look, I have a bit of money-"

"No... I mean, thank you, but no, it's okay," Hannibal said quickly. "Money's not really an issue. Okay, so we haven't got a never-ending supply, but we'll be alright on that front. It's surviving... running." He sighed. "That's no life."

Hannibal was right. As long as he and his team breathed, they'd never be free men. Harry squeezed Hannibal's arm. "Well, if you ever need a place to stay..."

"I know. Thanks, Harry. That means a lot to the boys and me."

-o-

After Mary and Harry had gone to bed, and they'd filled up on a late snack of toasted waffles and cereal, the team took shifts again, giving Face a dose of antibiotics every four hours, and keeping a watchful eye outside.

Face slept through the night, his fever relentlessly hanging on, and BA, on final watch, sat keeping a silent vigil. It had been an eerily quite night. He woke Hannibal up with a nudge and a cup of tea, as Murdock refused to buy the coffee because it came in a jar, and their hosts were dedicated tea drinkers.

"Thanks, BA," he murmured and rubbed his eyes. "How is he?"

"No change, still hot as hell," BA sighed adding, "Perimeter's clear."

"When's his next dose due?" Hannibal asked sitting on the edge of the sofa next to Face. BA checked his watch.

"Ten minutes."

Hannibal put the back of his hand against Face's forehead and frowned at the heat. When was the fever going to break? He placed his mug on the floor and gently prised off the bandage around the kid's arm, nodding satisfied that the injury there was healing nicely and scabbing over. It was the thigh that worried Hannibal.

Face stirred slightly when Hannibal checked his leg wound, jerking with pain at the gentle touch. He frowned and sucked in a breath, eye's snapping open, confused and unfocussed.

"Hey, kid, it's okay," Hannibal soothed, strong hands stopping Face from moving. "You're okay. Face?"

Fever bright eyes darted around, trying to make sense of... anything... "Boss?" Face whispered, his body stiff and taught with pain. Hannibal moved into his line of sight.

"Right here, kid," Hannibal said and waited until Face focussed on him with a shaky sigh. "You with me, now?"

Face nodded and he relaxed a little, rubbing at his eyes. He noticed the IV and gave Hannibal a questioning look.

"You got yourself a humdinger of a fever, Face... Wound infection," Hannibal explained.

"Infection?"

"Yeah, that bullet wound on your thigh. But, don't worry..." Hannibal filled a syringe and shoved the needle into the IV port. "You'll be right as rain in no time."

Face's eyes pinched when he felt the sting of the antibiotic enter his vein. "What's that?"

"Hannibal's magic juice," answered the colonel with a wink, and Face smiled. "Good to see you smile, kid," he added softly and gently smoothed back Face's hair.

"Hey, I thought I heard voices," Murdock smiled widely and propped himself up over the back of the sofa, his red cap on sideways, hair sticking out. "Hi, Facey, how're you feelin'?"

Face slowly turned towards Murdock and smiled back at him. "Good, buddy," he said and sighed, adding, "Actually need to pee." He actually felt like ten kinds of shit, and he was so hot... but he forced out another smile for his friend.

Hannibal stood up leaving Face in the more than capable hands of Murdock, and joined BA.

"Need to go into town today, get supplies... double check we're safe here for the moment," he said and BA nodded. "Harry has some stuff here that we can use as a disguise, hunting gear, that sort of thing. We'll go scope out the place, then grab the supplies."

"He have any weapons here too, boss?" BA asked.

"Just shot guns and a hunting rifle upstairs," Hannibal said. "You up for a little trip, then?"

"Hell, yeah," BA grinned.

A few minutes later, BA, Harry and Hannibal walked into the main room dressed in hunting jackets and thick pants, complete with utility vests and deer stalker hats. They'd argued with the old man about coming with, exposing himself to unnecessary danger being with them, but Harry had won. He knew the townsfolk, he could be really useful.

Murdock giggled when he saw them and eyed the hats with undisguised envy. Hannibal grinned and tossed him one, watching as the pilot pulled it on and puffed out his chest proudly.

"Aw man, crazy fool," BA mumbled and pulled on his boots. Hannibal chuckled and headed to the sofa. Face was asleep again, his fever flushed cheeks a sharp contrast to the dark tired circles around his eyes. Hannibal checked the IV before heading to the door.

"Keep watch, Murdock, if we're not back in two hours, get outta here. Okay?" the colonel said. "See ya soon."

"See you soon, guys, bring me back a T shirt," the pilot nodded and watched his team mates leave.

-o-

Murdock spent the first hour building a tower with cereal boxes, telling Face about the merits of eating a nutritious breakfast as he went. The el tee was still asleep wearing Murdock's red cap – for luck, but Murdock kept up the constant talking as if to keep himself company until Mary came downstairs. When Murdock was battling with a box of Cheerio's that threatened to collapse the tower, Face mumbled something and he rushed over to him, the tower falling with a dull thud and clatter of cardboard against the wooden floor.

"Facey?" Murdock winced at the sweat pouring off the man and wiped his face with the edge of his blanket. Face still felt warm, but it looked like the fever was finally breaking.

"Mm... findshelter...s'hot...getouttathe sun," Face mumbled.

"Hey, it's me, Murdock. You okay?" the pilot asked towelling dry the lieutenant's body. Face moaned and moved restlessly, he felt hot and sticky and sick and... Where was he?

"Waitwhere...no. No...wannadiehere...jus'...jus' leaveme..." His body was going numb, his senses greying out, and Face knew by the carefully blanked expression on Hannibal's face, that he was running out of time. Stomach wounds out here in the desert were almost always fatal. But it was senseless them both dying... why wasn't Hannibal leaving?

"Nobossno...'m deadalready..." The sun was relentless and they had little water left. Hannibal had to leave him and go...

The words, as garbled and slurred as they were, still brought tears to Murdock's eyes. He roughly brushed at them before resuming his task at cooling his friend down. What was Face talking about? Where was he in his delirium? Somewhere not nice, Murdock frowned hard.

Oh God, it hurt! The numbness had gone, replaced by white hot shards of pain slicing into every muscle, flailing every nerve... "Hurtsboss...leaveme...please..."

That last pleaded word really stung Murdock's heart and he couldn't stand it. He leaned forward and gently hugged his friend. "God, Facey, not ever leavin' you, you're gonna be just fine, you'll see... please, Facey, please be okay..."

That was how BA and Hannibal found them. Harry, after one last look down the road, followed them in the house just as Mary came flying down the stairs.

Hannibal hurried over and gently prised the pilot off Face, eyes widening at the sweat soaked body mumbling incoherently on the sofa. He felt for a pulse.

"What happened?"

"His fever broke an' he's sayin' all sorts of crazy shit, like he ain't even here," Murdock said anxiously pulling at his deer stalker hat. He knew about delirium, but that didn't stop the pilot from freaking out. BA stepped closer and urged Murdock to come see what they brought back. Mary, at Harry's coaxing, went with them.

Hannibal blinked at the red cap placed carefully on Face's head – the pilot never let anyone wear his beloved cap. Ever. He threw a glance towards the kitchen and sighed. Poor kid must've been so worried...

"No...toldyaboss...leavemehere...dyin'..." Face moaned when he felt cool hands on his forehead. Hannibal knew immediately where Face was. Fucked up mission in Columbia a few years before they met Murdock and BA. Face had been shot... Hannibal really thought he was gonna lose the kid that time.

"No, kid, you're not dyin'," he said softly. "You're gonna be okay." He wiped the sweat from Face's eyes and his chest and neck.

It was a good half an hour later until Face seemed to settle down. Another 6 before he woke up.

"Hann'bal?"

Blue eyes opened and Hannibal smiled. "Hey, kid. You back with me, now?"

Face's brow crinkled in confusion. Had he been somewhere? He nodded.

"Good." Hannibal wiped a cool cloth gently over Face's face and smoothed his damp hair back, replacing Murdock's cap. "Think you can drink some water?" Another nod.

Harry came into view with a glass of water. "Slowly, son," he said. "Don't want you t'be sick."

Face sipped the water, closing his eyes as it soothed his raw throat.

"Well, looks like your fever broke," Hannibal said as he adjusted the IV and pushed in another dose of antibiotic into the port. "We'll give you another day, then we'll have to split."

Face blinked and really looked around for the first time. "Where are we?"

"Old buddy's cabin near Mesquite," Hannibal smiled. He checked Face's leg again and sighed in relief as he noted the distinct reduction of redness and swelling.

Harry moved into his line of sight. "Hi, name's Harry," he grinned. Face blinked.

"Oh, hi," he said softly. "Templeton Peck." Face blinked again and narrowed his eyes. "Mesquite? We in Nevada?" Face asked. Murdock walked in then, face alight when he saw Face awake. He grinned at him. "What?"

"You asked that before," the pilot said.

"I did?"

"Uh huh."

"Oh." Face cocked his head and blinked. "I have money in Nevada." Murdock grinned even wider. "I already said that as well, huh."

"Uh huh," Murdock nodded and pointed to the hold-all. Face chuckled. He'd sure been out of it the last few days. He looked at Murdock's hat and blinked.

"Nice hat, buddy," he smiled tiredly and lifted his hand to rub his face, fingers nudging the peak of a cap. The kid lifted it off and looked at Murdock. It was his red cap, the red cap the pilot never let anyone wear.

"Thought it would bring ya luck," Murdock said quietly, his eyes soft. Face nodded and smiled at him.

"Thanks buddy."

A sweet smile filled Mary's face as she approached the young man on the sofa. "Hey, it's good to see you awake, Facey," she said kindly, her cool fingers softly testing his temperature.

"Um, thank you," he murmured hesitantly, amused that she'd called him the name Murdock had christened him with.

"My name's Mary, and if you need anything, you be sure and ask me, okay?" she smiled. Face nodded, if there was an epitome of Mother hen, Mary looked like she would be it.

"Leave the poor boy alone, Mary," Harry chuckled as she bent down to lightly kiss Face's forehead. The lieutenant, to his embarrassment, blushed, which in turn made Murdock grin in delight.

Hannibal disappeared with Harry then before returning with plates of sandwiches and chips, and a mug of soup on a tray. BA followed balancing mugs of tea in his hands.

"Soup's for you, Face," the colonel said. "Chicken and vegetable."

"I fished out all the peas," Murdock smiled, knowing the man hated them. BA helped to prop Face up and Hannibal held the mug steady as he sipped a little. Face frowned at how weak he felt, but the hot soup was the best thing he'd tasted for a while.

"What's the plan, boss," Face said as he leaned back, half eaten soup now forgotten. He still ached, but he did feel more human.

"Well, no sign of anyone following us yet, but we're all over the TV and the radio. Have to keep a low profile for a few days, then..." Hannibal lit a cigar. "We start thinking about how we clear our names."

"S'good plan in theory, boss," Face mused, "But how the hell are we gonna do that?"

"They burned us, Hannibal," Murdock put in. "We trusted the system and it turned on us!"

"Yeah, you already said that, kid, but..."

"And who the hell is this new Lynch guy?" Face asked. "Does the CIA have an unending supply?"

BA chuckled. "Good one, Face."

Harry and Mary sat quietly listening to the boys hash out the plans, their hearts silently breaking for them with every word.

"Guys, the plan is still to clear our records, get reinstated... we just have to do it a little less ...conventional now," Hannibal said.

"Oh, that's beautiful. We're federal fugitives on the run, our picture's up everywhere we go..."

"Face, where's the spirit, kid?" Hannibal asked with a twinkle in his eye. Face rolled his eyes and Murdock's head hit the sofa.

"Oh man, he's on the jazz," the pilot muffled into the soft fabric.

"You have a plan then, boss?" Face challenged and Hannibal, cigar between his teeth, grinned.

"This hype will die down," Hannibal said, hands moving fast. "We'll be yesterday's news soon, and the world won't care-"

"Yeah," snorted Murdock, "Only Lynch and the rest of 'em." BA grunted in agreement.

"So? We can handle Lynch," Hannibal said confidently. "We can handle anything and anyone they send after us... and why? Because we're a team, and we're damned good – the best – at what we do."

Face grinned. Life on the run? Didn't sound too bad, he supposed. "How will we live though, boss? I don't have money stashed all over the States, you know."

"We'll be soldiers for hire," Hannibal said.

"Mercenaries?" Face balked alarmed.

"Fuck, no, they got no scruples," Hannibal frowned. "No, if anyone needs help, and if they can find us, they can hire the A Team. We'll charge a decent fee for our services."

Murdock, now sat listening intently and a little excited, leaned forward and grinned. "Sounds doable," he said.

"Face?" Hannibal looked expectantly at the kid. He shrugged.

"Yeah, okay, I'm game."

"BA?"

"S'long as I get my van, Hannibal," the big guy nodded.

Clapping his hands together, Hannibal grinned at his team – his A Team, Soldiers for Hire. "Okay then, as soon as you're able, Face, we'll get on the road."

Harry narrowed his eyes in thought. Hannibal was onto something here, and he very well might have their first job for them... if they were serious, of course. He decided to talk it over with Mary first, and maybe approach Hannibal the next day.

*A*

"You know, I can keep watch, boss," Face yawned late that night. Hannibal drained his tea and sat down on the sofa beside him.

"The watch isn't just on the road, kid," he said softly and pressed his hand to Face's forehead. "It's on you, too."

Face sighed, cursed himself for being weak. He wasn't weak. He was a Ranger, for fuck's sake.

"How're you feelin'?"

"Like I was run over by a freight train," Face answered with a wry smile. "I feel better than I did, though, and my leg doesn't feel like a furnace of red hot daggers anymore."

"Well that's something," Hannibal smiled back. "Feel like eating?"

"Um, maybe some of those chips?" Face motioned to Murdock's plate and Hannibal shook his head.

"I mean real food, kid," he said and offered him a sandwich instead. Face picked it up and looked at it.

"What is it?"

"Ah, cheese and crisped rice, I think," Hannibal mused sliding his eyes over to Murdock. Why'd BA let him make the sandwiches, he'd never know. Murdock was good at cooking, not cold food.

"Oh, okay," Face shrugged and hesitantly took a bite. "Mm, not that bad."

"Take your word for it," Hannibal mumbled and put his sandwich back down. Face finished a third his meal slowly and smiled when Hannibal handed him a warm cup of tea. "Your fever's down, and I think your IV can come out tomorrow, kid."

"That's good, 'cause I kind of need to... go," Face blushed awkwardly. He'd not been to the bathroom for a while... the fever draining him of precious fluids instead, but now... he really needed to go. Now.

Hannibal chuckled, unhooked his IV for the moment and helped a still pretty woozy Face to stand up, taking a good portion of the kid's weight onto himself. Face gingerly took a step, wincing as pain shot up his bad leg.

"You okay, kid?"

"Yeah," Face grated out. He could do this.

It took them a few minutes, but soon Face was sighing happily emptying his bladder, with Hannibal standing outside the door, just in case he needed help.

"What's the deal with this Harry guy?" Face asked from the bathroom. In all the years he'd known the colonel, he'd never mentioned him.

"Old friend," Hannibal said. "Hauled my ass outta trouble a coupla times. I owe him my life."

The door opened and Face smiled as he leaned heavily against the frame. "Like someone I know."

"He retired before his time," the colonel hedged. "Army lost a good soldier."

"The army isn't all it's cracked up to be," Face rolled his eyes. Like Hannibal, like Harry, he'd given the military some of the best years of his life... to be burned and thrown out like garbage. Hannibal nodded grimly and helped Face back to the sofa, where he reattached the IV and made the man comfortable.

"Aren't we putting these nice folk in danger being here?" Face frowned.

Hannibal mirrored the frown. "Yeah, but..." He looked at his XO. He'd had no other choice. Face flushed.

"God, I'm sorry," Face sighed, angry at himself for being so weak, so needy, so pathetic.

"Face, don't do this," Hannibal said softly. He could see the guilt play across the kid's features. "This isn't your fault."

Face sighed heavily. God, what a mess their lives had become. Six months ago they were Ranger's fighting for their country, respected by their fellow soldiers. Now, they were nothing. Less than nothing, they were wanted fugitives, on the run, perhaps for the rest of their lives.

A warm palm stroking his forehead startled him out of his thoughts and Face looked up into concerned blue eyes.

"C'mon, kid, get some sleep, huh?" Hannibal smiled, and Face nodded tiredly.

*A*

Mary and Harry were already up and drinking tea when Hannibal walked into the kitchen. BA was walking the perimeter and Murdock and Face were still sleeping.

"Morning, guys, you're up early," the colonel yawned and poured himself a cup. He missed his coffee, missed the buzz it gave him.

"We might have a job for you, Hannibal," Mary said. Harry blinked at her with an exasperated sigh.

"Let the boy have his tea first, Mary!"

Hannibal chuckled and sat down. "Oh yeah? What job?"

Harry leaned forward and clasped his hands together. "We have a good friend who's having a bit of trouble. Kind of thing you boys could maybe help with," he said. "They'd pay for your services, of course."

Leaning back in his chair, Hannibal narrowed his eyes at his old friend. Mary placed her china cup on the matching saucer and hooked an arm through her husband's.

"They're really good friends, and could use some help, Hannibal. They might not have a lot of money, but they'd be willing to pay you what they could," she said sincerely.

"Tell me more," Hannibal decided. They had to start somewhere.

Angelo Andretti and his wife Anna-Maria owned an ice cream company. A family business that had started with Angelo's grandfather in the 1940's with a single cart, and now was a thriving little enterprise with six vans and a factory that made the most delicious homemade recipe ice creams. Andretti's Ice Cream had proudly served the treats to Mesquite for three generations

Eight months ago, Creamy Ices, a rival company had moved into town, and since then had bullied the stores of Mesquite to boycott Andretti's for Creamy Ices.

Angelo and his wife tried to fight back, but when four of their vans were suddenly involved in accidents, Andretti's Ice Cream lost their driver's through fear. The final straw came when Rosy, the Andretti's daughter, was targeted at her college, with the threat that their lives would be in danger if they ever went to the police.

"Hannibal, they're scared," Mary said sadly. "Angelo is ready to sign the factory over to Creamy Ices. This is killing them."

Hannibal blew out a breath and frowned in sympathy for the Italian family. What was happening to them was disgraceful, awful... "Okay, arrange a meeting," he nodded to Harry and Mary, who both sighed in relief. They'd been friends with the Andretti's for years, slowly watching them fall apart... maybe now help was there for them.

*A*

Face winced when the IV catheter was pulled out. "Ow!"

"Oh, stop whining, kid, it's just a little prick," Hannibal grinned, pleased to see the 'old Face' back with them. Face snorted.

"Hey Facey, you wanna play chess?" Murdock grinned when he found a set under the TV.

"Sure, buddy," the el tee smiled scratching his arm. God, he hated scabs, they itched like a bitch!

"Okay," the pilot jumped up and arranged the pieces, all the pawns for Face, all the horsey's and king's and queen's and fancy ones for him. Face chuckled. They were gonna play Murdock's version, then. He jumped when Hannibal touched his leg.

"I gotta check it, kid," the colonel said softly as Face settled to play with his buddy. The wound was thankfully on the mend. No swelling, no puffiness, the skin knitting together nicely. Hannibal covered it up. "Looks good."

"Great, so can I have a shower, now? I stink," Face grinned as Murdock moved his horsey diagonally across the board and stole a white pawn from him.

"Go fish," Murdock smiled triumphantly and looked expectantly at Face.

"Fish?" the el tee mused and zigzagged a black pawn to a centre square.

"I'll get Mary to find a plastic bag for your leg, kid," Hannibal said and considered, "'cause you could use a shower."

"Gee, thanks, boss," Face smirked.

"Ooo, that's a bulls eye, Facey," Murdock clapped and knocked over his white rook. Face just shook his head fondly.

Hannibal watched his boys with a smile before searching out Mary and BA. Harry had left that morning to fetch the Andretti's.

*A*

A deliciously soothing hot shower later, Face was sat at the kitchen table, dressed in a pair of sweat pants and one of Harry's check shirts, enjoying the company of Mary and Murdock with a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies. The smell soon brought BA, and he sat with a glass of milk and a smile for the sweet old lady.

Hannibal, after a little research on Creamy Ices had briefly talked to his team about the job, and after arguing that laying low was probably the best thing to do right now, as they were federal fugitives on the run, they couldn't let Mr Andretti and his family carry on being terrorised and threatened when they could maybe do something to help.

Harry returned a few minutes later, with Angelo and Anna-Maria Andretti in tow. Mary stood and introduced them as Hannibal came in and sat down with a pile of papers. They talked about the problems and after a round of tea, the team were all in agreement that Creamy Ices had to go down.

"Creamy Ices is too good to be true," Hannibal frowned and passed the papers to Face.

"Why do you say that?" Angelo asked, his Italian accent thick.

Face looked up. "The business is too text book," he said, "Has to be a front for something."

"So, this is not just an ice cream war?" Mary wanted to know. "Fighting over pitches and who sells what?"

Harry rubbed her shoulder and hugged her. She was getting upset.

"Has anyone tried Creamy Ices ice cream?" Murdock said as he licked his spoon. In front of him was a bowl of Andretti's Amaretto Dream and a tub of generic Creamy Ices Strawberry Swirl. "Tastes like shit."

Face stuck his finger into the tub and sucked the sticky gloop into his mouth. He balked and his eyes widened. Hannibal quickly snatched up a garbage bin as Face puked up his cookies.

"Sorry," he said a moment later, embarrassed and feeling decidedly sick now. "He's right. Stuff tastes like shit."

Angelo chuckled. "I admit my ice cream is good, but I was willing to share the business with them. Mesquite only had Andretti's for a long time. Change is good," he shrugged sadly.

"Change is good sometimes," BA offered, "But not at the price they wantin'."

Murdock, gently rubbing Face's back, nodded in agreement. "He's right. Threatenin' lives ain't good."

Looking at Harry, and then at Angelo and Anna-Maria, Hannibal nodded. "Okay, we'll do what we can, find out all we can about Creamy Ices, and..." he grinned. "Take them down."

*A*

"Just one Cornetto... Give it to me... Delicious ice cream, from Italy..."

"Crazy fool! Shuddup, man!" BA shouted again as Murdock tried the ignition of the ice cream truck again.

"Aw, but BA-"

"I'll kick yer crazy-ass butt if you don't shut the hell up," BA growled. "Now, try it again."

In the following few days, BA had managed to get two of the four broken vans going and the factory was up and running again, after days of non-production. Andretti's Ice Creams was back in business, under temporary new management.

Angelo and Anna-Maria were busy making the creamy treats whilst Hannibal and Face, now mobile, if not a little slow, canvassed for business. And before long, they had a long, long list of customers again.

*A*

Warren Greenly sat and fumed at the local newspaper article. He grabbed his phone angrily punched in the numbers. "Have you read the paper? Yeah... well, see to it that Andretti gets the message this time, okay?"

Creamy Ices owned Mesquite, what the fuck did the old man think he was doing?

*A*

This time, they were ready for them. As the four thugs climbed out of the car, baseball bats and tire irons in their fists, Hannibal and his boys were waiting.

After a brief scuffle, and it was brief – 4 apes against 4 trained US Ranger's was no challenge, really – Hannibal lit up a cigar and blew smoke in the face of the 'leading' thug.

"You tell your scumbag boss that Andretti's Ice Cream is here to stay, and if he knows what's best for him, he'll get the hell outta Mesquite. Got it?"

The thugs scrambled off and Hannibal grinned at his team. "Think he'll get the message?"

"I think he'll come down here and tell you that himself, boss," Face rolled his eyes and rubbed at his leg. Murdock noticed and urged the kid to sit down.

"You okay, Facey?"

"Yeah, don't worry 'bout it, buddy," Face nodded. His leg hurt, but not too much. He'd check it later in private... or not.

Hannibal's large hand wrapped around his bicep and hauled him up. "C'mon, Face," he said and helped him into the office where he made the man pull down his pants and succumb to a check up.

"Boss, I'm alright," he whined when Hannibal gently probed the wound, frowning at the couple of blood spots on the dressing.

"Gotta be careful, Face. Did you get kicked?" Hannibal asked. Face reluctantly nodded.

Murdock skidded into the office and winced at the sight of Face's leg. "Aw man, didja get kicked?"

"Yes, I got kicked, but I punched the fucker out good, guys," Face said, refastened the dressing and pulled his pants up. "I can take care of myself, y'know."

"Oh Facey, baby, we know that, it's just..." Murdock sighed and sat on the desk next to him. "You really scared the shit outta me."

Face looked at Hannibal who nodded. He'd worried them all. Face could see it. He sighed and draped an arm around his buddy. "I'm sorry, Murdock, I didn't mean to."

"Yeah, well, you did an' you're jus' gonna hafta put up with us bein', y'know, protective for a while," the pilot shrugged. Face squeezed him in a hug.

"Always, buddy, and I really am sorry," he said looking at Hannibal this time.

*A*

Creamy Ices, as Face found out, was a front for a money laundering business that was run out of Vegas by a sleaze bag called Warren Greenly. That news put a huge grin on Hannibal's face as a plan formulated in his head. Murdock spent an hour eating Coconut Crunch Dream ice cream and mumbling to the many machines in the factory that the bossman was on the jazz!

"You know, this business seems small potatoes for a money laundering front," Face mused when he and Hannibal were going over the plan again. "Innocuous as it looks."

"S'why we're goin' in, kid." Hannibal blew cigar smoke to the side and frowned. "This Greenly guy is definitely a lackey. Someone is pullin' his strings and we need to find out who that is."

"Well, I'm gonna need a new suit," Face said when he looked over the plan, "And a pretty girl on my arm."

Hannibal shrugged. "Can't do the girl, sorry, I won't deliberately endanger anyone, you know that. But Murdock's goin' with ya," he smiled. "You two need to go shopping for suits though, yeah."

And with their escape still hot news, that was going to be dangerous.

Hannibal's plan was to pose as a 'dirty' company, which had lots of dirty money to 'clean', and Face had carefully created the perfect essential background for said seedy company, with hints of Mafia connections. The plan details included finding out who Greenly answered to, and letting him lead the team to the top of the chain. And then break all hell loose and shut them down.

That part of the plan was the scariest. Hannibal's idea was to plant marked notes and then call in the authorities, thus blowing the little money laundering business open wide, and hopefully take the heat off them for a few days.

It was simple, it was insane... it was crazy! It was them.

*A*

Face and Murdock looked amazing in their suits... smart, clean shaven, expertly coiffured, and dangerously rich. Murdock grinned as he put a Stetson on his head.

"Howdy pardner," he winked and Face chuckled. He pressed on a pair of gold rimmed glasses.

"Ready to go?"he asked and the pilot nodded. Face fingered the comm unit under his shirt collar. "We're ready, boss."

"Be careful, boys," Hannibal's voice crackled in their ears.

Picking up the holdall with $15K of marked bills inside, Face and Murdock headed out of their Vegas hotel suite and down to the casino, where their research had placed the contact for Creamy Ices.

-o-

An hour later, the two men were in a private office talking with Warren Greenly, practically had him eating out of their hands at the thought of the huge commission he'd be getting for laundering their money. Greed was always a great smoke screen to use.

"This is just the tip of the ice berg, Mr Greenly," Murdock shrugged carelessly, playing nicely up to his criminally filthy rich act. "Y'see, we're just scouts... looking for the best."

"Oh, I am the best, Mr Stimpy" Greenly gushed and the pilot recoiled slightly at the pungent stale alcohol and cigarette breath.

"Yes, well, we'll be the judge of that," Face said and inspected his nails as if bored. He looked at Greenly over the top of his glasses. "We're talking millions, you realise."

Face and Murdock could actually see the dollar signs in Greenly's eyes. The man punched the intercom and summoned his secretary.

"Get Mr Ren and Mr Stimpy some champagne," he ordered, smirking again and the obvious pseudonyms. "I am sure we can accommodate your request, Mr Ren. Please wait a moment." And he grabbed his phone.

They listened carefully to Greenly's conversation with... probably the guy at the top, the one they wanted.

"Need to see him personally," Hannibal's voice came through their hidden ear pieces. "Arrange a meet."

Greenly smiled at his guests and carried on his conversation.

"We would like to meet your boss," Face said and raised his brows. Greenly stopped talking and blinked. "Would be nice to know where our money is going. You understand."

"Um, that's not how we normally-" Greenly started. Both Face and Murdock stood up.

"Then our business is done, Mr Greenly."

"Wait!"

The guys smirked and sat down.

"4pm tomorrow?" Greenly suggested.

"Make it tonight," Hannibal said quickly.

Murdock cocked his head and sighed. "No can do, sorry. We leave Vegas tonight."

Greenly checked his watch, it was 8pm. "Okay, sir, I'll ask." He turned to his guests. "What about 10pm tonight, then?"

"Perfect," Face grinned and they both stood up again as Greenly put the phone down. Face handed over the fifteen thousand dollars. "As a goodwill gesture. See you here at 10pm."

"Very good. Then perhaps we can introduce ourselves properly?" Greenly suggested, Face just smiled at him and turned to his partner.

"After you, Mr Stimpy," he gestured.

"Why, thank you, Mr Ren," Murdock grinned.

"Alright, boys, get outta there," came Hannibal's voice over the comm.

*A*

"We need capitol, and a lot of it," Hannibal nodded and sat down. "Creamy Ices' office in Mesquite is heavily guarded, so..."

"Hmmm, wonder why that is, huh," Face grinned. Hannibal pulled at his cigar and the smoke curled into the air.

"The safe has to be in this office," the colonel mused, pointing to a copy of Creamy Ices office floor plan. The area was the only secure place in the facility. Trouble was, it was located at the heart of the building. Hannibal pulled out another blueprint plan of the underground ducts and sewers and placed it on top. "Access point right here," he grinned.

-o-

Murdock checked his watch and started the van, clicking the melody volume up high, and drove up to the front gates of Creamy Ices. Hannibal smiled at the muted sounds of Camptown Races above him and motioned BA and Face to move quietly through the ducts under the building, the diversion in place.

"Yeah, okay, this is it," Face looked up at a warm air heating pipe in the roof of the duct. The pipe ran in to a vent, that was big enough to crawl through, and into the office where it was a good chance the safe was.

Hannibal and BA carefully pulled away the heating pipe, wincing at every metallic creak and strain. "Okay, Face," Hannibal nodded and linked his fingers together to boost the young man up to the vent. Face slowly peered into the office and frowned. The view was partially blocked by a filing cabinet.

"BA, hand me the fibre cam," he whispered and carefully threaded the spy camera through the vent and around the cabinet. The little viewing screen gave Face a clear picture and he grinned when he saw the safe. "Yeah, it's here. One cctv camera right above me, and we're clear."

"Okay, you're good to go, be quick, kid," Hannibal said and hoisted the el tee up until the man nudged off the mesh and crawled through the vent.

Face reached for the instant camera Hannibal handed to him, and he quickly set up a false image in front for the cctv. He looked at the safe and smiled, it was, in his opinion, brash and over the top. Why people thought these old bulky things were secure was beyond him. The old antique monstrosity matched the office decor, though, equally as brash and tasteless.

Placing his ear to the door and closing his eyes, he carefully turned the dial until he heard the tell tale click as the cogs fell into place. On the last click, the door opened, and Face grinned widely.

Inside was more than enough cash for what they needed.

Within four minutes of climbing into the office, Face was slipping back out. Job done.

Hannibal slapped him on the back. "Nice one, kid!"

-o-

Back at Andretti's Ice Creams, Murdock stood when BA pulled the van into the garage. The diversion had gone well, a little too well. Creamy Ices' goons had cleaned Murdock's van of Andretti ice cream! Apparently, even they thought the Italian treats were delicious.

"Hey, Murdock," Face smiled as he climbed out of the van slowly, slightly favouring his injured leg. "You okay?"

"Oh yeah, Facey, those goons loved the ice creams an' Anna-Maria gave me this," he grinned and reverently place a new cap on his head – red and silver with 'Andretti's Ice Cream' embossed on it in gold thread.

"Oh wow, that's awesome, buddy," Face grinned. Hannibal smiled at the two and pushed by with BA carrying the sacks of money. BA took one look at the cap and rolled his eyes, muttering 'crazy fool'.

*A*

10pm on the dot, Mr Ren and Mr Stimpy sat waiting in Greenly's office for their meeting. Face yawned and checked his watch again and eyed Greenly.

"I'm sure my boss, Mr Julius Cavanaugh will be here soon," the slimy Creamy Ices' contact hedged. He looked nervous.

"He sounds nervous," Hannibal's voice said into the boy's hidden ear units. Face unconsciously smiled at the comment.

BA, as soon as he heard the name Julius Cavanaugh, started researching him and looked up alarmed at Hannibal. "Oh man, this dude is a badass, boss," he hissed. Hannibal leaned over and read the computer screen.

"Fuck, boys, this Cavanaugh is ex-army, covert ops, real shit storm stuff, dishonourably discharged and incarcerated for murdering a fellow marine in live combat. He was known as The Butcher. Fucker is one of the FBI's most wanted for illegal arms deals, drug deals, money laundering, not to mention murder..."

Face and Murdock carefully schooled their features as this information sunk in. Who was this man! Jesus!

Hannibal's heart thudded loudly in his ears. His boys were literally in the lion's den, and he'd put them there. Think three steps ahead in a plan. That's what he always did. How did this happen? Face had got him all the intel on Creamy Ices there was, BA had researched until he was cross-eyed...

"Face, pull out-" he started, but he was too late.

-o-

A tall gruff man walked into the office, flanked by two equally burly guards. "Hello, welcome to my casino. I'm Mr Cavanaugh, you must be Ren and Stimpy," he said and raised an eye brow. Face and Murdock stood up. "Must admit, you look nothing like the cartoon characters."

Face cocked his head to the side and sighed almost impatiently. Murdock looked the guards up and down, but said nothing.

"Let's get down to business," Cavanaugh said and walked around the desk. Greenly immediately moved to let the man sit down. Both Face and Murdock were amused by this and sat down as well. "I run my business on honesty," he said and Face snorted. "Oh, you disagree?"

"Money laundering?" Face said as if it was obvious. He could hear Hannibal's warning growl in his ear to stop baiting the bad guy.

A second passed and then Cavanaugh burst out laughing. "I can see your point. What I mean is, I like to know who I'm dealing with, Mr Ren," he clarified.

Face introduced himself. "Barry Pendleton," he smiled and motioned to Murdock, "Greg Dafoe."

Cavanaugh and sat back, linking his fingers in an arch. "So, I hear you want to move a substantial amount?" he asked as Greenly tapped the keys on his net-book, obviously looking up their names.

"We work for a private company who's in the market for someone like yourself, no questions asked," Murdock said levelly. Cavanaugh considered for a moment.

"No questions asked requires a bigger fee," he said, eyes hard and serious. Face exchanged a look with Murdock and they both nodded.

"We understand that. Can we count on your discretion?"

"Of course. How much do you want to start moving?" Cavanaugh asked as his brows rose when he saw the information on his new clients. Mafia connections? He motioned Greenly to fetch him the necessary paperwork.

"Half a million dollars," Face answered, taking off his glasses and cleaning them on a handkerchief. "As a start. We want to see how your organisation is run, then the amounts will be five million."

Greenly practically salivated at the figure, and Cavanaugh irritatingly shoved him away. "Amounts? Plural?" he confirmed.

"Yes. No questions, remember," Murdock reminded him and Cavanaugh bristled slightly.

"Right, I apologise," he said without meaning and slid a file across the table. "My fee is 20% for no questions asked. Sign here."

Face picked up a pen and scribbled his alias across the bottom. "I take it you guarantee our return," he asked deliberately eyeing the silent menacing looking guards.

"I guarantee the safety of your money while in my possession," Cavanaugh smiled and took the file back. Greenly's cell phone rang and he flushed apologetically before turning to answer it.

"Because, as you can imagine, our employer would be ...irked," Murdock nodded seriously. "Remember the last guy he was irked with, Barry?"

Face shuddered dramatically. "Yes, Greg... Poor bastard never knew what hit him."

"Or his family," Murdock bounced back, adding, "Or his dog."

"Or his neighbours."

Greenly blew out a shaky breath when he heard that and slowly shut off his phone. The news was bad, he'd been robbed, all the laundered money had been stolen from his safe... All three million of it! How was he going to tell Cavanaugh?

"Greenly, you look like you ate a bad clam," Cavanaugh snapped at the pale sweating man hyperventilating in the corner of his office. "What the fuck's up with you?"

"Nnnothin', um... I gotta... bathroom," the man rushed out and rushed off.

"Well, when ya gotta go," Murdock shrugged.

"Finish this up, guys, Greenly just found out about the money," Hannibal warned them.

Face stuck his hand inside his jacket pocket and pulled out an envelope. "Room number and key, and safe combination. You'll find the two million there. We expect a return in one week. Doable?"

Cavanaugh took the envelope and nodded. "Doable. Greenly will be in contact with you when it's ready. I assume we have your contact details?"

Murdock handed over a plain business card, a contact number the only thing on it. "My personal number," he explained. Cavanaugh took the card and looked at it, narrowing his eyes. Murdock frowned. "Is there a problem, Mr Cavanaugh?"

Putting the card on the desk, the crime boss regarded his clients carefully. "This business runs on honesty," he said levelly. Face shrugged nonchalantly.

"Yes, you said that," he nodded. "Your point?"

Leaning back in the chair, Cavanaugh smirked. "No point, just a fact," he stated and his eyes grew hard. "Remember that."

"Get out of there," Hannibal hissed into their ear-pieces.

A tense second went by before Murdock stood up and held out his hand, Face following him. "It's been a pleasure, Mr Cavanaugh," the pilot smiled. "I look forward to your call."

Cavanaugh shook Murdock's hand, then Face's, lingering a little longer with the lieutenant than was comfortable, and Face raised his eyebrows behind the gold rimmed glasses. Cavanaugh instantly let go, covering his minor indiscretion with a cough. Face, however, filed that little bit of information away.

The door was opened for them and Face and Murdock left.

*A*

"Okay, so the money in the safe is marked, right, boss?" Face repeated. Hannibal nodded. "And Greenly and his men are going to pick it up, launder it, and then call us."

"Got it in one, kid," the boss said and rolling the end of his cigar between his lips. Face leaned back from the table, absently rubbing his sore thigh.

"So, when're you planning on calling in the authorities?" Face was worried. They were still wanted fugitives, and their faces were on the television almost daily. Hannibal stood up, walked around the table and laid a friendly hand on Face's shoulder.

"Soon, kid. We just need to implement plan B, and then we're squared away."

And that was another issue. Plan B was, in Face's mind, reckless. "Boss, I still don't know about that," he mumbled hesitantly. Yes, Hannibal was going to be in disguise, but going to a casino and gambling away a million dollars, in public, was sure to bring too much attention to him, attention that could get him killed.

The boss sat down. "We need to close his business down for good, Face, and that means the casino, too."

"It's just... too open. I know we have to flood the place with the rest of those marked bills..." He sighed and rubbed at his forehead. He could feel the tendrils of a headache trying to take hold. "I guess I'm just worried, boss."

Hannibal reached across and started a gentle massage on the base of Face's neck, which the younger man leaned into with a soft sigh. "Headache?"

"Hmmmm," Face nodded and opened bleary eyes, smiling ruefully, "Stress."

"Come on, kid, it's late," Hannibal said after a few seconds. BA and Murdock had retired to bed an hour before, leaving the other two drinking coffee, thanks to Mary who'd bought it especially for them. Face stood up, rolled his shoulders and padded after Hannibal to their shared room upstairs. Hannibal quietly knocked on Murdock's door when he reached it and woke the pilot for his watch.

"Okay, bossman, I'll wake you in four," he whispered, put on his deer stalker hat and saluted the colonel. Hannibal chuckled, but saluted back.

The room Hannibal shared with Face was small but functional, and it had an en suite, that Face was currently using. Hannibal unrolled his sleeping bag, courtesy of Harry, and threw two pillows on the floor next to it. Face had the single divan in the room because of his injuries.

"You know, I can sleep on the floor, boss," Face murmured when he came out of the bathroom dressed in his boxers and a T shirt. Hannibal shook his head and pointed to the bed.

"Next time, kid," he promised and disappeared into the bathroom. Face was asleep when he came out.

*A*

Andretti's Ice Cream was thriving under the management of the A Team, and Angelo and his family couldn't thank them enough, but Creamy Ice's was still a major problem, exacerbated now with the team's recent deposit of dirty money. Hannibal recommended that Angelo take his family on a short vacation until the job was finished, and Mary joined them. Harry, being the stubborn SOB that he was, stayed behind.

It had been two days since Greenly picked up the two million from the hotel room safe, and Hannibal decided it was time for Plan B.

"Bossman, you look fabulous," Murdock grinned as he straightened the colonel's Stetson. Hannibal's dyed hair made him look younger, but the moustache and goatee just looked laughable on the man. He was dressed in a dark blue silk suit with velour lapels, and a sky blue shirt. Face tried so hard to not laugh the first time he saw the outfit, but he ended up on the floor, tears streaming, within a minute. Hannibal just scowled and rolled his eyes at him. "You just need..."

Murdock fished around in the drawer and whooped when he found what he was looking for. It was a leather bootlace necktie complete with a garish silver bulls head. Face looked up, saw the item and burst out laughing.

"Oh god, boss," he sputtered, "You could be in the porn industry dressed like that!"

"Oh, shut up," Hannibal grumbled and lifted his chin for Murdock to fuss with the neck piece.

Finished, he stood and looked at himself in the mirror. Face was right, he decided, but at least he wasn't recognisable. He stuck his ear piece in and BA tested it, and then they all piled into the van and headed into Vegas.

-o-

Hannibal was on a roll... a losing roll, as he steadily lost the million dollars in marked bills to Cavanaugh's casino. Face, Murdock and BA were in the van down an alley a block away, listening intently on their equipment.

It didn't take long for the whole amount to disappear, and when Hannibal gave his boys the signal, the picked him up and were on their way.

"Any trouble?" Face asked when Hannibal pulled off his false facial hair with a wince.

"Not really," he said, lit a cigar and puffed at it. "Cavanaugh and his goons were walking the floor, did a coupla passes, but didn't stop."

Face frowned. "So, we calling the authorities, now?"

Murdock stopped chattering to BA and looked at Hannibal, too. He was anxious to get this job done as well.

"Yep," Hannibal grinned and pulled out a disposable cell phone and placed the call, to one Captain Charisa Sosa.

*A*

"Captain Sosa, we just received a tip off on the whereabouts of Butch Cavanaugh," Sosa's second informed her. The lieutenant handed her a piece of paper.

"Where?"

"Vegas."

Sosa looked sharply at the man, quickly piecing together what this could mean. She read the fax and frowned. Shit. She was right. The fax was the transcript of the anonymous call, and it read...

'Julius 'The Butcher' Cavanaugh. I believe you're looking for him? Well, I found him for you. Cavanaugh's Casino, Vegas... He has a sweet little money laundering enterprise there. You'll find three million in marked bills in his possession. Should be enough to arrest him until the MP's get their hands on him. Make sure the system doesn't fuck up this time.'

A small smile curled her lips and Sosa. Hannibal Smith. She called her second over. "Lieutenant, get me McCready on the line, we're going after Cavanaugh."

"But-"

Sosa pinned the man with a glare. "How long as this bastard been wanted by the government?" she asked. "We have a chance to get him. We're going after Cavanaugh!" And cooling off the pursuit of the A-Team for the time being.

Director McCready wasn't too pleased by Sosa's lack of progress in the capture of Colonel Hannibal Smith and his boys, and was ready to hand the job over the Colonel Decker. So, when Sosa informed him of the tip off for Cavanaugh, he gladly agreed.

"Thank you, sir," she said, phone snug between her ear and neck as she flicked through an inch thick file on Julius 'The Butcher' Cavanaugh. "I will resume my pursuit of the Smith and his team as soon-"

"That won't be necessary, Captain Sosa," McCready interrupted. Sosa stopped flicking and put the file down.

"Sir?"

"I have appointed Colonel Rod Decker for that task, now. You will pass on what you know about the whereabouts of Smith's team, and where you're up to with catching them to Colonel Decker. Is that understood?" McCready said. Sosa gripped her phone hard, knowing she was officially off the case, knowing she couldn't stall the hunt for Smith anymore.

"Yes sir," she said.

"Good. Now, about Julius 'The Butcher' Cavanaugh..."

*A*

Face stared wide eyed at Hannibal. "You called Sosa?"

"Yep. Figured she could use a break, and it would get her off our backs for a few days," Hannibal smiled. Face wasn't amused.

"Jesus, boss! Talk about bread crumbs!" he growled and blew out a hard breath. "She has to know it was you who tipped her off."

Hannibal pulled off his Stetson and grinned at Face. The younger man rolled his eyes and threw his hands up. Murdock blinked as he processed the information.

"Wait a minute," he narrowed his eyes. "You did that on purpose, bossman?"

Shuffling around in his seat, Hannibal faced his team. "Sosa is a good soldier. She might be a little too straight laced and brash, but she knows the difference between right and wrong." He looked at Face. "She proved that when she slipped you the key to the cuffs, kid. She's also very good at what she does..."

Face licked his lips, his eyes widening. "She's been stalling her search for us," he realised. Hannibal nodded.

"We're good, but with no resources, and with you injured... If it were anyone else looking for us, we'd have been caught days ago."

"So, what now?"

"We wait until Cavanaugh is in custody, the Andretti's are safe, and then head to California," Hannibal winked. Murdock grinned widely.

"Ooo surfin' USA? I feel a Beach Boys medley comin' on!" he sing-songed and started singing. BA's groan was almost in tune.

*A*

Sosa wiped her hands on the paper towel and looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. A smudge of lipstick marred her reflection and she grimaced. She hated public washrooms.

They'd arrested Warren Greenly and a number of associates, but Cavanaugh eluded them. She sighed. She also heard that Decker had picked up the trail for Hannibal and his team in Boulder City... they were getting close, and she couldn't stop them. She sighed and looked down.

"Hello, beautiful."

"Jesus!" Sosa jumped and spun around, grabbing at her chest, her heart thumping wildly in her throat. "Face! Fuck... Wh-what the fuck...!"

Face grinned at her and locked the washroom door. Sosa noticed he was limping slightly.

"I should arrest you," she said lamely.

"But you won't," Face smiled gently and gently took her hand before pulling her into a hug. She went willingly, sighing into the broad chest. "Cavanaugh escaped," she said after a moment. Face tensed and pulled back.

"What?" The look on the man's face concerned Sosa. It was fear.

"Face? What is it?" she asked as Face bit at his lip and pulled out his cell phone, punching in numbers. "We got Warren Greenly, the money laundry business is exposed..."

"I know, Charisa. Hang on," he nodded and turned his head to talk on the phone. "Hannibal, Cavanaugh escaped... Okay, boss." With a snap, he closed his phone and faced Sosa with a smile. "I just wanted to thank you for helping us, and make sure you're okay." He walked across to the window and pushed it open, checking outside before returning to Sosa. "Stay safe, baby," he murmured and kissed her forehead.

Sosa swallowed. "Face, wait!" Face stopped half way through the window. "McCready took me off your case."

Face climbed back into the washroom, rubbed his leg as he jumped down. "Who's on our case now?"

"Colonel Rod Decker. You know him?"

Face shook his head. "No."

"Look, he's good, Face. He's very good. He's already picked up your trail in Boulder City," Sosa said.

"Shit!" Face exclaimed heatedly. "Thanks Charisa, I gotta..." he motioned to the window. He had to go. Sosa nodded.

"Be careful," she whispered as she watched him disappear.

*A*

Julius 'The Butcher' Cavanaugh growled when he saw Barry Pendleton leave his casino, via the ally-way. The man looked different without his glasses. He pulled his hat lower over his face and followed Pendleton, determined to exact revenge.

Barry and his friend Greg, if they were their real names, were dead men.

He followed the tall man into a hotel and sped up his pace, slipping into the elevator just after Face, blocking his exit.

Face didn't stand a chance. Cavanaugh, ex-special ops, was highly trained and the lieutenant didn't even hear him coming until it was too late.

"Pendleton," he sneered, eyes hard. Face visibly stiffened, ready to fight. Cavanaugh pressed a lower number on the elevator panel and as soon as the doors opened, he grabbed Face and yanked him into the hallway. Face balled his fists and landed three forceful blows to Cavanaugh's ribs, winding the bigger man before bringing his knee up and breaking the bastard's nose. Cavanaugh yelped and threw out his foot, catching Face on his injured thigh. Face fell, one hand tight around his leg, the other going for his ringing cell phone, and Cavanaugh took advantage. He kicked face in the stomach, and pounced on him, the small phone skittering across the floor. He grabbed his head and slammed it repeatedly onto the hard floor. Face struggled fiercely, but Cavanaugh brutally beat the smaller man until he lay still.

He stared at the bloody mess of Face's head and grimaced at the stickiness on his hands. A small pool of blood beneath the wavey hair spread slowly. Cavanaugh stroked his bloody fingers over Face's bruised cheek, lingering over his lips.

"Shame, Pendleton, we coulda had some fun," he hissed, smiling evilly when Face moaned softly. "Maybe we still can."

He stood up and hoisted the unconscious man over his shoulder and opened the door to the emergency stairwell.

*A*

"He's late," Hannibal frowned and tried Face's cell phone again, pacing the small hotel room as he dialled. They were on the top floor, purposely chosen room because of the fire escape right outside their window. Murdock looked up from his comic and blinked.

"He's only a few minutes late, bossman," the pilot shrugged. "He's seein' his girlfriend, ain't he?"

Hannibal turned to look at him. "Ex-girlfriend," he said, "and that doesn't excuse him being late! Cavanaugh is still out there, there are MP's running all over the damn place... He's not answering his cell..."

Putting down his comic, Murdock stood up. "You want me t'go look for 'im?" BA stood up, too.

"No, we'll all go," Hannibal said and checked his weapon. "Something isn't right."

They took the stairs, carefully checking each floor for MP's as they went. When they reached the third floor, Murdock stopped in his tracks. He knelt down on the stairs and touched the wet sticky droplets of red he found.

"Blood," he whispered. All three lifted their guns and BA opened the third level stairwell door. The coast was clear, but Hannibal stared at the pool of blood on the floor. He pulled out his cell and rang Face's number again, his heart freezing in fear when the lieutenant's ring tone sounded in the silence of the hallway. Murdock looked around and picked up Face's cell. It was smeared with blood.

"Oh my god," he gasped, looking wide eyed at BA and Hannibal. It was Face's blood.

"Cavanaugh," Hannibal hissed lowly, murderous anger twisting his face. He slammed through the stairwell door again and followed the trail of blood to the ground floor basement.

He didn't know whether Face was still alive, but one thing he did know... Cavanaugh was going to be dead. Very dead.

The trail ended at the alley way door and the team cautiously opened it.

"Clear," BA whispered and the stepped out.

"Spread out," Hannibal ordered. The trail hadn't ended, the small drops of blood were now erratic, and there were signs of a scuffle...

-o-

Consciousness came back to Face with a thump-thump-thump as his head pounded. It felt like his head was going to explode. He opened his eyes to find himself upside down over someone's shoulder. And then it all came flooding back. Cavanaugh. Face started struggling, his legs and arms sluggishly working to get the bigger man to let him go.

"Fuck! Keep still, you bastard," Cavanaugh yelped as Face kneed him in the mid-drift. With a lucky elbow to the bigger man's already broken nose, Face was gracelessly dropped to the ground.

"Jesus FUCK!" Cavanaugh cried harshly, hands over his gushing nose. "You fucking BASTARD!" He kicked Face in the ribs and keened as tears streamed from his eyes. Fury fuelled him now, and Cavanaugh grabbed the dazed and hurting man and dragged him behind a huge dumpster. "You'll pay for that, Pendleton, you fucker!"

Face groaned, his vision swimming sickeningly, and he gagged, vomiting up what little he had in his stomach. Cavanaugh ignored him and yanked at Face's pants, unbuckling his belt and leaning over him.

"Gonna teach you a lesson, pretty boy," he hissed into Face's ear. "Gonna fuck that pretty little ass of yours..."

The words slammed home and Face started to struggle again, but with the dizziness and the weight pinning him down, it was useless. Cavanaugh laughed, clearly getting off on the power, so Face stilled... He grimaced and shuddered at each touch, cold tendrils of fear leaching into his thudding heart. Tears prickled at the back of his eyes, his breaths shortened... we was beginning to panic.

The man was going to rape him.

And he couldn't stop it.

-o-

"...and you got such a fine ass..."

Hannibal motioned to BA and Murdock to stop. He could hear soft gasps and the barely audible hissed threats from behind a big dumpster bin at the end of the alley. They approached silently and before Cavanaugh knew what was happening, Hannibal had pulled him off the smaller man and slammed him to the floor, kicking him in his exposed groin for good measure. The man screamed and curled into himself, both hands on his dick and balls. BA sneered at him and trained his gun right at the bastards head.

"You stay right there, sucker," he warned. Cavanaugh's eyes widened.

Hannibal and Murdock rushed towards Face, carefully turning him over. Murdock gently tried to coax the man awake.

"Hey, Facey, c'mon, buddy, wake up," he said softly. Face whimpered when he felt hands on his pants and hips and tried to pull away.

"It's okay, kid, just getting you straight," Hannibal reassured him. He finished with the belt and started a quick once over for injuries, stoically ignoring the moans and gasps from the younger man. He frowned at the huge knot on the back of Face's head and grimaced when his fingers came away sticky and wet with blood. "Face. Wake up, kid," he urged.

"B-boss?"

Framing his friend's face with his hands, Murdock tried to get the unfocussed blue eyes to settle on his. "It's okay, now Facey, we gotcha. You're safe..."

Face blinked slowly, his head swimming, and let the soft words sink in. His eyes rolled, and he startled when a gentle pat stung his cheek.

"No, kid, you gotta stay awake for us. Can you do that?" Hannibal frowned. He didn't want to take any chances, if Face was severely concussed, they had to keep him awake... "Lieutenant? That's an order," he added, nodding when Face forced his eyes open again. Hannibal turned to Murdock. "Keep him awake, captain."

Cavanaugh writhed on the ground, panting through the sharp pains shooting up from his probably ruptured testicles, and Hannibal shoved him onto his back with his boot.

"Who... who the fuck... are you?" Cavanaugh grated through clenched teeth. He eyed the guns and smirked. "You ain't military... Gonna fuckin' kill all o' ya!"

"Big threats from a man whose balls are in his throat," Hannibal said and knelt down, knife now in his hand. He inched the sharp blade towards Cavanaugh's groin. "So, wanna sing soprano?"

The man stilled and gulped. The look in the hostile cold blue eyes boring into his had Cavanaugh quaking in fear... for the first time in a long time.

"You were gonna rape my friend," Hannibal hissed lowly, knife scraping over Cavanaugh's tight hands. "You beat him to hell... You caused a lot of my friends a lot of trouble, threatened innocent people..." The knife dug in a little and Cavanaugh sucked in a breath. "What are we gonna do with you?"

"Hand him... over to the MP's," Face said softly. Hannibal looked up to see Murdock supporting his friend who was valiantly trying not to throw up. "There's been enough killin'."

Cavanaugh's eyes hardened and a sly smile formed on his bloody lips. "Yeah, turn me over. Good idea," he said, already thinking about all the ways he was going to kill these motherfuckers once he was free again. And he would be free... he had friends in interesting places.

Hannibal saw the look and narrowed his eyes. He leaned in close. "Oh, I know you have 'friends', Cavanaugh, but so do I," he hissed menacingly, the threat very clear. Cavanaugh gulped. Hannibal stood up. "Get this scumbag up, BA, we have a package to deliver."

Murdock steadied his hold on Face when the man swayed alarmingly forward. "Okay, Facey, I gotcha," he murmured softly. Hannibal took a hold of Face's other arm and helped Murdock carry him back through the basement door. BA stayed with Cavanaugh, gun trained right between his eyes, look on his face that hoped Cavanaugh tried something so he could shoot him.

Hannibal came back out a few seconds later and yanked the man off the dirty alley floor. "BA, go get the van," he said softly to the big guy whist manhandling Cavanaugh forwards. "I'll just see to this piece of shit." Hannibal pulled out his cell phone and dialled a number.

"This is Sosa."

"Yeah, I have Cavanaugh. Alley way, two blocks south of the casino." Hannibal clicked the phone off and shoved Cavanaugh up against the wall. "Say bye-bye," he sneered and slammed his head back, knocking him unconscious. He tied the man's arms behind his back and secured him to a drain pipe, before heading back towards Murdock and Face, the distant wail of sirens now getting louder.

-o-

Murdock jumped and swung up his weapon when the basement door opened. Hannibal held up his hands. "Don't shoot, copper!"

"Bossman. Where's BA?" the pilot asked as he holstered his weapon and knelt back down in front of Face.

"He's getting the van," Hannibal said quickly. "C'mon, we gotta move." He helped Murdock get Face into an upright position and hooked the man's arm over his shoulder. Face swayed and leaned heavily against the colonel as they made their way to the first floor of the hotel, and quickly out of the main doors where BA had the van waiting. They could see the MP's verging on the alley way, literally yards away. It was as close as they dared to be. Hannibal caught Sosa's eye, but she only nodded and let them go.

Cavanaugh was arrested. It was over, job done, and the team headed back to Mesquite.

-o-

Face fought hard to stay awake all the way back, he knew he had something important to tell his friends... something... He had to warn them...

"Shit... ow," he moaned when he jerked his head back. Murdock was there instantly.

"Take it easy, Facey," he murmured. "Gonna be back soon."

Face opened his eyes wide. "Back where?" he asked urgently. Murdock frowned and Hannibal whipped his head around from the front seat.

"You remember dontcha? Harry an' Mary's place," the pilot said slowly, concern flaring up in his eyes. He looked down when Face gripped his hand.

"No, we can't go back," he said, desperately trying to fight the dark that was trying to consume him.

"Kid, stay with us," Hannibal said when Face's eye's rolled back. "Back where? Why?"

"Sosa... Decker..."

"He ain't makin' any sense, bossman," Murdock frowned worriedly but Hannibal's eyes narrowed.

"Colonel Rod Decker?" the colonel asked and Face nodded.

"Sosa said... Decker taken over case..." Face opened his eyes and looked hard at Hannibal. "He's closing in. Already picked up our trail in Boulder City. He could be at the house. We can't... can't go back there."

"Shit," Murdock hissed. "Who's Decker? You know him, bossman?"

Leaning back in his seat, Hannibal pursed his lips. "Yeah. From way back." He turned to BA. "Kid's right, we can't risk just turning up at Harry's... so we'll go in the back way."

"Man, you crazy," BA shook his head, but he did agree, they needed to know Harry was alright, and tell them the news about Cavanaugh, and let them know that Andretti's Ice Cream could now open for business again, properly.

*A*

"Major Harry Jones?" the military man enquired when Harry answered the door.

"Retired," he huffed. He had no time for snotty nosed upstarts on his front porch. He looked down when the MP pushed a photograph towards him. It was of Hannibal and his boys.

"Have you seen any of these men, sir?"

"Nope," Harry said, eyebrows raised. "Is that all?"

The MP bristled. "Ah, if you see any of these men-"

"Yes, I'll be sure to call you," Harry grunted and started to close the door when a military issue size 12 boot stopped it. "What the-"

"Sir, I insist you look at the photograph again," insisted the soldier. Harry looked up and saw a hard face glaring at him, Col. Decker on his uniform.

"Look, sir, I haven't seen any of these men," Harry frowned. "Why would I?"

Decker looked past Harry into his home. "Would you mind if we took a look around your house, sir?"

"What? Yes, of course I mind!" Harry sputtered. He levelled the colonel with a stare. "I think you'd better leave, colonel."

A smile twisted Decker's lips. He knew the old retired major knew John Smith from way back, it was why he was there, but after a beat he nodded, tipped his cap and turned to leave. "Oh, just as a precaution, I'll be leaving a couple of MP's here... for your own safety. These men we're after are dangerous. You understand," he said. Harry frowned. That was not good.

He closed the door and through his curtains, watched as Decker and his entourage disappeared. He didn't see the other MP's, had no clue where they were.

"Hey, Harry," Hannibal said softly behind him. Harry jumped, quickly closing the curtain.

"Jesus, Hannibal!" he hissed. Hannibal winced.

"Sorry. Was that Decker?"

"Yeah." Harry caught his breath and frowned at his friend. "What are you doing here? It's dangerous, kid. They left a couple of MP's here."

"Don't worry 'bout it, we got that covered," Hannibal grinned knowing that BA and Murdock were out there.

"Where are the boys?" Harry asked as he watched Hannibal quickly pack up their stuff, taking the medical supplies and a few bottles of water, too.

"Safe," Hannibal smiled. He stood and held out his hand for Harry to shake it. "Job's taken care of, Harry. Tell Angelino that his family will be safe now, and his ice cream business can reopen."

Harry took Hannibal's hand with a wide grin. "Thank you. I ah... I have a little money that Angelo left for you-"

"No," Hannibal said. "It's okay. This one is on us."

"You know, you're not gonna survive if you keep doin' jobs for free," Harry smiled.

"We will, Harry. Thank you for helping us, and say goodbye to Mary."

Harry nodded. "Where're you going to go?"

"Best I don't tell you," Hannibal said and shouldered the large bag, smiling as he went out of the back door.

"MP's are sleepin' like babies, bossman," Murdock grinned as he climbed into the van. He waved to Harry and the old man watched BA drive them away. He didn't see Face, he just hoped the nice young man was alright.

*A*

With Murdock riding shotgun, Hannibal was finally able to patch up and properly assess his lieutenant. As he pulled out the medical supplies, and suture kit, Hannibal sighed. It was the second time he had to stitch up his lieutenant... Kid had had a rough couple of weeks.

"Okay, all done, kid," Hannibal said softly as he tied the last stitch. He nudged the still shoulder when Face didn't respond. "Face? C'mon kid, wake up."

Murdock turned around in his front seat and frowned, biting his lip. He was really worried about his friend.

Gently cupping the younger man's face, Hannibal urged him awake. "Wake up, that's an order, lieutenant." Face opened his eyes and the colonel pursed his lips. The kid's pupils were blown, unfocussed...

"Maybe we should take 'im to the hospital," Murdock suggested quietly. "He might have a busted skull, bossman."

Hannibal seriously considered that, but Face suddenly shook his head with a groan. "No," he whispered, "...m'okay..."

Holding one finger up in front of Face's eyes, Hannibal asked the obvious question, "How many finger's, kid?"

Face knew he was still concussed. He felt sick and was seeing double. The fingers wavered in and out of focus, but he hazarded a guess anyway. "Four?" The snort from Hannibal told him he was way off. "Three," he tried again, sighing when Hannibal shook his head.

"What day is it?" the colonel asked him.

"Shit... boss, I dunno," he murmured and closed his eyes. All these questions were making his head spin and he could feel the nausea threatening to take hold again.

BA and Murdock exchanged worried glances. Hannibal chewed on his lip. Taking Face to a hospital would be effectively handing him over to the MP's, but...

"Boss... m'okay, really," Face said softly, trying is best to focus on Hannibal, "Just tired. Please... m'okay..."

Hannibal sighed and looked hard at his lieutenant, saw him smile a little and made the decision.

Nodding, he let Face nap, and sighing, the kid closed his eyes. Along with the concussion and head trauma, Face also sported bruised ribs, and although he hadn't reopened the wound on his thigh, the bruising around the healing injury was angry again. The kid was one big walking bruise, to put it mildly, but, God willing, he'd be okay.

Three hours into driving, they were close to California, and Murdock found a local radio station, which he played low. Hannibal checked his watch and gently nudged Face awake. He'd been waking the kid up every hour with silly questions, and each time the answers came back clearer.

"C'mon, kid, you know the drill," he said softly. Face blinked and looked at Hannibal.

"Boss?"

"What's your name?"

"Templeton Peck," he mumbled and closed his eyes. Hannibal nodded and let the man sleep again. He leaned forward.

"Head for Malibu," he said to BA. The big guy blinked at the colonel as if he'd lost his mind.

"Malibu? Can we afford to stay there, Hannibal?"

"Not really, but it'll be the last place Decker'll look for us," Hannibal shrugged.

"How'd ya figure that, bossman?" Murdock asked curiously.

"We're fugitives on the run, kid," Hannibal grinned, "not exactly the rich an' famous..."

"But we can pretend to be," Murdock finished with a grin of his own. "Bryce Price, the third," he introduced himself in an absurdly posh British accent. Hannibal gracefully took his hand and nodded.

"Connor O'Connor, the second," he replied in kind, with a heavy Irish accent. BA just shook his head.

*A*

They found an empty house on the beach, a beautiful two story property with views of the ocean, and a poorly maintained alarm system. It took seconds for Murdock to disable it, and BA moved the van into the empty three car garage while Hannibal quickly took down the 'for rent' sign. There were five bedrooms and four bathrooms, and a large open plan living area, with the furniture covered with dust sheets, and patio doors leading out to a deck with steps down to the beach.

The place was secluded from the neighbours by mature trees and shrubbery. It was perfect.

Hannibal and Murdock helped Face to one of the main floor bedrooms, and left him dozing off his concussion as they and BA secured the place.

They were all drinking coffee on the deck watching the sun set into the ocean when the lieutenant woke up again. He could see them through his open door. He scanned the room carefully, and wondered where the hell they were.

Padding onto the deck, he scrubbed at his eyes and yawned. "Where are we?" he asked.

"Hey Facey! Nice to see you up. How d'ya feel?" Murdock smiled and led his friend to one of the sun loungers.

"Sore, headache. Where are we?" Face looked around.

"Malibu," Hannibal grinned. Face's brows hit his hairline.

"Malibu? As in California?"

"One in the same," Hannibal nodded with a wink. Face leaned back on the lounger and closed his eyes. His head pounded and he gingerly fingered the stitching and dried blood matting his hair together. He wanted to ask Hannibal his crazy reasoning for being in Malibu, rather than Mexico, or even Canada, but decided the man had to have a plan, and Face always trusted the boss' plans.

"Oh, okay," he nodded instead. A bottle of water nudged his hand, and he opened his eyes to see Murdock standing there with a blister pack of Tylenol, too. "Thanks buddy."

He lifted his hand to take the pills and caught a whiff of sickness and sweat. "Shit, I need a shower," he mumbled looking at his clothes in disgust. After rolling around on a dank filthy alley way floor, Face seriously needed a shower. Murdock chuckled as he sat on his own sun lounger and Face eyed him.

"Wasn't gonna say anythin', Facey," he grinned and Face laughed.

Hannibal chuckled along with them, pleased to see his XO back to his old self, and well. They spent the next hour talking about the case and telling Face what happened to Cavanaugh, until the sun finally disappeared and all they could hear were the soft breaks of the waves against the shore and the night calls of the last of the day's seagulls settling down.

"So, this is our life, now?" Face asked Hannibal when BA and Murdock moved to the kitchen to see what they could rustle up to eat. Hannibal helped the kid to stand and sighed, staring out at the ocean.

"For the time being," he said softly.

They were Federal fugitives on the run, with one of the best military teams after them. Wherever they went, they'd always have to look over their shoulders, and they could never settle down... It wasn't a life Hannibal wanted for his boys, or for himself, but it was what it was. Fate had dealt them a cruel hand, but they'd survive.

They were the A-Team.