The Proverbial Quiet One (stackcats) wrote in thewordsmithery,
The Proverbial Quiet One
stackcats
thewordsmithery

A-Team fic; What If? (Part One)

The A-Team fic that wouldn't die.

Title: What If? - part 1
Fandom: The A Team 2010
Characters/pairings: The whole team, OCs, eventual Hannibal/Face
Summary: Face takes charge of a plan for the second time; Hannibal fucks it up like a boss.
Wordcount:13,508 (full)
Notes: I had a bit of trouble making this end, so I apologise for the abruptness. Originally written for a prompt at a_team_kink but I'll be damned if I'm going to sit and slice this up into little 4000-character bits, so here is part one:





1.

At first, it doesn’t really occur to Face to mention anything to the team, certainly not as a general announcement. He doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it. It’s just another part of who he is, and on that level it’s not actually worth mentioning. He loves sex, and he’s always seen the view that it should only take place between one man and one woman as an extension of the view that sex should not exist outside marriage, and who honestly thinks that any more? He’s done all kinds of things in his time, and enjoyed most of them. It’s people he loves - their quirks and strengths and fears and all the beautiful little details that come out when you’ve got them naked and panting underneath you. Whether they keep their reproductive organs on the inside or the outside of their body is a matter of logistics, not morality. It’s not actually something he gives much thought to, in terms of his own identity.

But then there’s another side to him that almost prevents him from saying anything, even when the subject comes up naturally. It’s the soldier in him that makes him bite his tongue at first, the threat of discharge so effectively drilled into him that he clams up unintentionally, even though his fears are for something he’s already lost. There’s no Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell out here in Outlawsville; there’s just him and the guys, and he knows the guys. If they were the sort to give a crap about something like this, he probably wouldn’t still be working with them in the first place.

The job is one of those intricate corporate ones that Face loves and Hannibal hates. The old man never was a fan of politics, and this is a complex web of intrigue and scandal, where the question on everyone’s lips is ‘where’s the money?’ A guy called Sam Holland hired them out of concern for his partner, whose boss had become embroiled in a scam involving the company’s pension budget. Sam came home one day to find his partner, Michael, in the middle of a nervous breakdown - he’d just discovered that his boss was using him to embezzle money via fake overseas accounts, and he was completely liable.

“How could he possibly be liable?” Hannibal had asked over the secure phone line.

“Richmond forged his signature on some incriminating documents that will show, if this comes to light, that Mikey knew the fake accounts were really him. He’s being blackmailed, essentially. If we tell anyone about this, Mikey goes down too.”

Which was why he’d called the A-Team. Or, as Hannibal pointed out wearily, it could be any number of other reasons. Involving a third party could induce a huge variety of variables - it could intimidate this Richmond into cutting Mikey in on the cash, or information could be withheld and the situation confused leading them to believe Richmond was the thief when it was really Mikey, or there could already be a third party, and the team were there to scare them off, or they could simply show up for the job and have someone frame them for the whole thing - they were criminals, after all. Hannibal really didn’t like the political ones.

BA didn’t like them either, but he’d decided he liked Sam, and Hannibal always listened to BA’s instincts when it came to judgement of character. They were all fairly sure that, whatever it was, Sam was not in on the scam, and that meant it was possible to meet him in person. Face was pretty excited about this - Hannibal had been watching him intently, as though trying to come to a decision about something. He was going to let Face plan this one, which he hadn’t done since they set up Lynch back in LA.

So they met Sam, who came alone the first time and told them the same story again, this time talking directly to BA, who nodded along, signalling that he still thought Sam was genuine. Murdock concurred enthusiastically, but that might, Face conceded, be because Sam was a psychiatrist, and promised to get Murdock some particular pills as part of their payment - not because he needed them, but because they were ‘tasty’, apparently. He didn’t seem to think Murdock was particularly crazy, which impressed Face, since their pilot was currently pretending to be the entire cast of M*A*S*H and refusing to eat anything that wasn’t red.

That was last week; today, the team had met up with Mikey for the first time, and he’d passed their initial tests. Hannibal took some of the documents which Mikey had smuggled out of the office, and spent a few hours running various tests in the back of the van, while Sam took Mikey out for dinner to calm him down, and that left Face with BA and Murdock in the couple’s house, enjoying their plasma screen and the contents of their fridge.

Murdock isn’t allowed to cook just now, in case he’s Igor Straminsky at any given moment, so Face volunteers to throw something together. The ground floor of the house is open-plan, so he can, in theory, watch TV and cook at the same time. He’s doing lasagna, because he once saw someone make it on a commercial and it looked easy.

Murdock has control of the TV remote, and is channel-hopping. The team don’t, as a rule, watch much TV, not because they’ve never had time - war is 80% waiting, after all, and these days they spend more time sitting around while Hannibal screens potential clients than actually running jobs - but because there’s something inherently indulgent in it. Sitting back passively while information is presented to you all parcelled up. It goes against their ethos, somehow, although Murdock does like his cartoons and sitcoms - or it could just be that Hannibal doesn’t like anything but the news channels, and they’ve all subconsciously jumped on his bandwagon. That happens a lot lately, and not just with Hannibal. It’s an instinct for solidarity, Face suspects. BA once switched the brand of beer he liked to drink, and, without even realising it, the other three switched too. The guys have started asking to borrow Face’s cologne or his shampoo. Every so often, one of them will try and feed something to Billy, even if Murdock hasn’t mentioned him in days. It’s a pack thing, he thinks, sharing each other’s habits. It’s also kind of hot, but he’s not going to tell them that, even if the sight of BA smoking a cigar with Hannibal on a hotel balcony is enough to bring him out in a sweat on a crisp winter evening.

Right now, they’re watching something about motoring with three British guys. Murdock is laughing at every other line, so Face can’t really hear. BA, amazingly, isn’t all that interested; he’s being nosey, investigating Sam and Mikey’s home, peering at ornaments, examining their photos. He holds up a framed print of the two of them, arms around each other, dressed in formal wear.

“Cute couple,” he says.

Face nods, barely glancing up. He’s having trouble persuading the spaghetti strands to lie in layers across the meat. “Cuter when they’re not living in fear, huh?”

“Guess so,” BA agrees. “The hell you doing, Face? Ain’t lasagna supposed to have flat pasta?”

“Our hosts don’t have any, I’m improvising.”

And that’s when Murdock looks round at them, the TV having cut to a commercial break, and, doing an extremely good impression of Alan Alda, says, “either of you guys, y’know, done it? With another person not of the, uh, female persuasion, if you get where I’m coming from?”

“No,” says BA, putting the photograph back and moving on to look through the bookshelf that takes up the entire back wall of the room. “Have you?”

“Hawkeye was bisexual,” says Face.

“He was not.”

“Was so.”

“He was bipolar, fool. You know, crazy just like Murdock.”

Murdock shrugs, slipping back into his own voice. “Either way, I’ve never done it either. Just wondered. I mean, in the army it’s all hush-hush, and here... well, these guys are adorable, and they don’t hide anything.”

There’s a beat where Face concentrates on his cheese sauce, even though he can feel the other two watching him. He hasn’t answered the question. The thought of lying - actually lying - just crossed his mind. It was fleeting, and he chased it quickly away, but it left him with the options of telling the truth or evading the question, and right now he honestly can’t think of a single way to change the conversation.

“Yeah,” he says, “I’ve done it.”

BA gives him a strange look. “You have?”

“Yeah.”

“When?”

“When what?”

“When did you... y’know.”

“When did you sleep with a man?” Murdock supplies, helpful as ever.

Face shrugs. He sprinkles on a little more cheese, a bit of crushed peppercorn, and shoves the whole thing in the oven to finish. When he leans on the counter to sip his beer, he finds Murdock and BA staring at him expectantly.

“I dunno,” he says. “Lots of times.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. It’s not a big deal, guys. I like cocks, so what?”

Murdock and BA exchange a look, and Face knows what’s coming next.

“The bossman know? Cause that’s something he should really know. Or should have known, before, when you could get in trouble over it.”

“Nope.”

Murdock goes back to the TV, starts flicking through the channels. “Well, you gotta tell him, now me and Bosco know.”

Face doesn’t see why he has to tell Hannibal anything. It’s none of Hannibal’s business what Face does in his spare time, so long as it doesn’t put the team in danger, and to be perfectly honest, Hannibal is nothing more than de facto bossman right now. There hasn’t even been a vote. The army is not a democracy, but the rest of the USA damn well is, and... shit, Face thinks. He’s way over-reacting to this.

“Yeah,” he says. “Sure. Course he should know.”

Just before dinner is ready, Hannibal returns from the van, where their computers and associated hardware are all wired together in a magnificent tangle that BA and Hannibal carefully undo every couple of months, and which then instantly reinstates itself the moment their backs are turned. He brings his laptop, the only free agent, with him, and sits at the dining table, reading something. BA and Murdock shoot Face looks every so often, and he gears himself up to make the same declaration of cock-liking again. He’s got a very strange feeling in the depths of his gut, as though something is going to happen here; it’s the feeling he gets when he’s making life-changing decisions, but that’s stupid; he’s not. He’s just coming out to his friend, a man who cares for him deeply and won’t, he’s certain, judge him for it.

“Hey, Hannibal,” he says, leaning nonchalantly on the counter. “We just had the obligatory team sexuality talk. Only eight years too late, right? Turns out these guys? Not into the man-on-man action. I guess it’s just me, then.”

Hannibal glances up from his screen only briefly. “You playing safe, Face?”

“Yessir!”

“Good boy.” And that’s it; he’s reading his emails or playing mahjong or something, and Face being bisexual isn’t as interesting, as revelations go, as whatever it is he’s just read because now he’s smiling as he scrolls. “Bosco!” he calls over his shoulder. “Good news, big guy, I’ve figured out our security issues. We can go wireless in the van.”

That is good news, Face thinks, as BA joins Hannibal and reads whatever it is over his shoulder. Really, really wonderful news. Fucking fantastic, oh yes. Good boy, can work condoms, moving on to important things like cold, dead hardware and why the fuckity fuck is he reacting like this?

He needs to get laid. That’ll settle his nerves.

“Hey,” says Murdock. “I smell burning.”

2.

Face was right - Hannibal is letting him run this one. He tells Face over dinner that if they were still in the army, he’d be giving Face steadily more responsibilities, priming him for a command position of his own in six to eight years. There’s no option for that out here, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why Face has to be trained to take on Hannibal’s responsibilities. It’s a dark conversation disguised as a light one, with Face still unsettled from earlier, and Murdock conducting a monologue in the background on the evils of war, having settled back into his Hawkeye voice.

The laptop comes out, the half-eaten lasagna swept aside, and Hannibal shows Face his findings. There are analyses of the signatures, the paper, the handwriting, the print, the ink, the style and tone of the words, the grammar and punctuation, all compared and contrasted to show that, yes, there’s a much higher authority at work here, someone up in the dark penthouse of the office building, perhaps, pulling the strings of his or her puppets down below. It’s Face who points out that there isn’t enough money being pushed through the pensions accounts to justify something on this scale. Somebody, somewhere, is playing games. Face likes games. He’s good at games. While Hannibal is a chessmaster in combat situations, it’s actually Face who has the real talent for playing people against each other, manipulating scenarios, and running scams. He can see through other people’s cons because, in their place, he’d do it better and more efficiently.

Hannibal knows this; he’s not giving Face this job because he doesn’t want it himself. Face just knows that isn’t the case, and besides, nothing will go ahead at all without Hannibal’s say-so, he needs to know every detail, every facet of Face’s plan before he’ll okay it. But that still leaves most of the brain-work to Face, who, once Sam and Mikey return, packs BA and Hannibal off to scrounge him some surveillance equipment and clothing for disguises. Murdock sits and forges some new identities for them. They’re going to be a larger company and attempt to negotiate a purchase of Richmond’s offices, giving them access to the upper floors of the building and the managers who lurk therein. Face is trying to make this nice and tight; the faster they can get in, plant their bugs, destroy the falsified documents that are the threat to Mikey, and get out, the better. The police can handle things from there. Really, their only task is freeing Mikey from his boss’s net; after that, he just wants to move on, get another job somewhere less insane, and carry on with his enviably normal life.

“You can’t just break and enter,” Face explains to their clients. “There are ways of doing this so that no one even knows anything’s amiss until it’s too late...”

He’s good at details. He’s good at people. He’s good at improvising, too. But this plan requires rather more finesse than his first, and it comes with a requirement from Murdock; no one gets shot in the head. And there’s less imperative this time - his team is no longer on the line, he isn’t pulling their asses out of the fire. Yes, they’ll be paid well for this one, but Face could fraud them up some cash before pulling his socks on in the morning. Except that wasn’t the right thing to do; this was the right thing to do, helping those who deserve it and taking their reward once it’s earned. They’re not thugs, as Hannibal likes to remind them. And so Face plans diligently through the night, even though this is a damn tricky one, even though he’s still thrown off by Hannibal’s good-natured dismissal of him.

He stops writing and rubs his eyes. Fuck it. It’s getting far too late for this. He looks over at Murdock, who gives him a sleepy grin. He’s got a nice pile of ID cards all printed up, and they just need to be laminated. BA is behind him, looking a little irritated as he sorts through clothes.

“You know how I feel about the penguin suits, Face.”

“It’s okay, buddy. Unless you want to shave off that mohawk, you get to stay in the van anyway. Management executives are a little more conservative in their style. Sadly.”

It’s time to brief everyone for tomorrow, so Murdock scurries off to find Hannibal, who is talking Mikey through how to plant a bug in an office.

The plan is nice and simple, and it is this; Hannibal and Murdock are European businessmen complete with a whole, fake, multi-national company and what are, in Face’s opinion, remarkably good French accents. They also have, thanks to Face’s over-the-phone flirtations with a very nice receptionist, an appointment to see the CEO, Mr Dean. Their task is to try and ascertain who, among the senior staff, may be involved with Mr Richmond and his little scam, work their way into their confidence, and insinuate that they may be interested in any less-than-legal money making shenanigans that may be going on.

Meanwhile, Face will pretend to be Mikey’s brother and stop by the office to say hi. This will conveniently take place just as Richmond is heading out for lunch at 1:05, as he does every day. As he passes Face in the doorway, he’ll be relieved of his office keys, and Face will have exactly 36 minutes to hack his computer before he returns. He considered giving this part to Hannibal, and taking the people-reading role for himself, but firstly, Hannibal looks more the part of a seasoned businessman, and secondly, Face doesn’t want Mr Dean to see him yet. Later stages of the plan may require Face’s touch more, and he wants to keep open his fake-ID options.

BA is surveillance and backup; Face is relying on him to keep an eye out for Richmond returning early, as well as listening to everything happening in the office with Hannibal and Murdock.

This is phase one, and it goes more or less flawlessly, with the exception that there seems to be almost too much enthusiasm on the part of the company’s CEO to sell everything to Hannibal, who was expecting to have to fight for his cause. Face receives confirmation that his instincts were spot on - the office computers are spotless, there’s no copy of the documents being held against Mikey (the tangible copy of which Face carefully liberates), and it’s Mr Dean who seems to be hiding information. While Hannibal is with him, Dean fobs him off to take calls from Richmond twice. There are at least three levels of management between them, they aren’t friends, and there’s no reason, according to Mikey, for them to be on such close terms.

“Dean is too keen to get rid of the company,” Hannibal muses, when they’re all sitting around the dining table again, early that evening. “I don’t think your department is the only one being leached, Mike. Could this be for tax purposes, Face?”

Face shrugs. None of it makes sense; he has no idea. Why would the CEO be simultaneously sapping his own money away, via accounts belonging to a peon so far down the pecking order as Richmond, and attempting to sell off his company?

“Did he say what he’d do once he’s sold to you?”

“Something about retirement in Australia.”

“That’s... drastic.”

“My thoughts too. We’re going to have to do this quick, Face. I don’t actually have the cash to buy this thing, in case you hadn’t noticed. And I can’t keep up the accent. Any idea if there are backups of the incriminating documents?”

“If there are, it’s Dean who’ll have them.”

Someone needs to get close to the man, fast. Their only real job here is getting Mikey out of the shit so that he’s free to go to the police, or quit his job, or whatever it is he wants to do, but Face kind of wants to know what’s going on. Hannibal is the obvious choice to send after Dean, having already met him, but would he really invite a business contact into his home after knowing him one day? And leave him unsupervised long enough to break into his files? No. Besides, they’re unlikely to be alone at any point. If it’s a business affair, Dean’s PA will be there, if not his senior board members as well.

It’s Mikey who has the answer. “A personal contact could gain access.” He’s looking between Face and BA, settles on Face with a meaningful look. “Maybe nose around while he’s asleep.”

Face nods, chewing thoughtfully on steak cooked by Murdock, under BA’s close supervision. Nobody wanted to try Face’s cooking again after last night, so the embargo on Murdock in the kitchen has been lifted. “He’ll go for that?”

“He’ll go for it. According to Sheryl, his secretary, he’s got a different hook-up for each day of the week. Men and women. The one time I met him personally, he tried it on with me. He’s a bit... well, disgusting, frankly, but the task won’t be difficult.”

It’s not a bad plan. “I take it he goes to bars, clubs? I can tail him, pick him up somewhere.”

“No. Not a chance.” It’s Hannibal speaking. And, suddenly, everyone is looking at him. Face stops with his fork half-way to his mouth.

“It’s a sound plan, boss. I’ll pick him up - let him pick me up, rather - get him home, drug him, make sure he falls asleep. Then I’ve got all night to rifle through his stuff. No one will disturb me.”

Hannibal is shaking his head. “It’s too risky, Face. You can’t go in alone, for a start.”

“BA can tail me, I’ll wear a mic.”

Hannibal shakes his head, scowling. He’s still wearing his French millionaire disguise, the sleek black suit giving him a completely new shape, smoothing out his rough edges, making his shoulders seem broader. With the tie hanging loose, the collar pulled open, it’s enough to make him look like a film star at a backstage party. All except that stubborn frown he’s wearing; that doesn’t suit him at all.

“No,” he says. “We all follow you, and you get out of there as soon as you’ve hacked that computer. Don’t linger, don’t engage him more than you have to.”

Face thinks about arguing; BA alone is more than enough back-up, but Hannibal has that look about him that Face recognises as his ‘you aren’t going to win this, Templeton’ look. It’s one of several looks that are just for him. It’s not as dangerous as ‘and now start telling me the truth, Templeton’, but it’s certainly not his favourite; that would be the one with the fleeting resemblance to the special, fatherly look Hannibal reserves for Murdock and BA, but Face’s version is a little different. It doesn’t have a name yet; it’s a fairly recent development, having evolved from ‘I’m really very fond of you, Templeton, but there is no one on Earth quite as infuriating as you’, which was more or less Hannibal’s default expression for the first few years of their friendship.

Then again, Hannibal isn’t actually vetoing his plan, so he keeps his mouth shut. The boss is still watching him, though. Face fidgets until Hannibal breaks eye contact, and starts clearing away the dinner plates.

They really are very good house guests, Face muses, as he gets ready for his night out. Cooking meals, cleaning up. They don’t even take up much space, for four large guys. Well, not with Hannibal barking at them every five minutes to pick that up, or be careful with that, or just leave that alone, for fuck’s sake boys we can’t afford to pay for anything we break. He wonders, sometimes, just what’s going on in the boss’ head, where the hell he pulled this whole Soldiers of Fortune idea from, why they don’t just pull one really big heist (on someone who won’t miss the money, of course) and go spend the rest of their lives in hiding on a nice beach with a cocktail bar somewhere like, Face doesn’t know, southern Europe or Australia or something. It’s not like there’s many people who’ll miss them. BA’s mother can come. Maybe he could talk Charissa round, but she’d probably frown on him getting to know the cocktail waitresses, who would be stunning, of course, all brown-skinned and slinky, and then there’s the pool boy, in shorts that leave nothing to the imagination, and no, she wouldn’t like him at all, oh, unless they asked her to join them, she could be up for that and... what was he thinking about again?

Full-length mirror. It makes him look shorter than he feels he really is, but he does look good nonetheless. This is Mike and Sam’s room, Face is borrowing a suit, dark red. Unusual but eye-catching. He’s been warned that he’ll be touring some pretty high-end bars, advised not to gawk at anyone famous he might brush shoulders with, and that’s exciting. He’s in the mood for a little danger; might pick a star’s pocket or see if he can steal a kiss from someone with cameras trained on them. Boss’ll kill him. Might be worth it. He knows fine well it’s attention-seeking behaviour, but who doesn’t crave the attention of the tabloids? They’ve been on the news, they’re practically stars in their own right.

Mikey’s leaning in the doorway, making a face at him. He’s a lot taller than Sam, thin, with glasses that don’t really suit him. Typical accountant, Face reckons. Still, this is a nice house. Good accountant, then, unless Sam is a really stellar doctor without any student debts.

“I don’t know, Face,” he’s saying, scratching at his head. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”

“It was your idea,” Face points out.

“Well, yes, but I didn’t realise until after I said it... Are you really going to do this to him?”

“Him who?”

They stare at each other for a moment, then Face can see, actually see Mikey’s mental back-peddling.

“Nothing. Just, um. You be careful, okay?” And he flees the room, leaving Face alone with his reflection, which is also giving him a weird look. He gives it the finger, adjusts his tie to a slightly more rakish angle, runs a hand through his hair.

Funny people, he thinks, accountants.

3.

Face hasn’t been out to a bar in months. Not a proper bar, not one like this, all UV lights and inexplicably tasteful neons, men in suits and ties, crisp and perfect, their state of inebriation measurable by the angle of their ties, the number of buttons undone; women in tiny dresses, tight jeans, tasteful make-up and elaborate hairstyles, all curled and pinned and perfect. He feels like a tramp, even in his Armani, as though they can all look at him and tell it’s borrowed, that BA’s clothes are stolen, that Murdock, who looks the sharpest of all of them, is a certified whack-job, even though he’s on his best behaviour and isn’t even a TV character tonight.

BA has a tight grip on Face’s arm as they move through the crowds. It’s a little annoying, but Hannibal gave the man a whole lecture before they left him on the corner. No one else is to get close to Face, he’s supposed to look unreachable, with BA and Murdock ambiguously present as either friends or security. One or two women try their luck, and another few zero in on BA, who Face must admit, does look pretty sharp tonight. Murdock, on the other hand, is practically surrounded by new friends. He’s a couple of stools down from them at the bar, with a beautiful, dark-haired woman draped across his shoulders, and another four or five pressing in around him. It’s the grin, Face reckons. Women love a genuine smile, and Murdock is made of smile. BA finds the whole thing hilarious, and Face knows he’d be welcome to join the little group, but Murdock is just back-up this time, he can afford to play. BA has a role to pull off. He’s Face’s wingman. Sort of.

Face tastes his cocktail. It’s bright green, practically glowing, which should usually be a sign not to ingest something, but it’s apple flavoured and actually tastes okay. If he drinks these things, he can give himself a sugar high before the alcohol overtakes him, make himself appear more drunk than he is. They’re facing outwards, looking across the dancefloor, apparently watching the pulsing throng of people, but in actual fact they’re staking out the restaurant across the way. They can see the bar clearly behind the glass door, and leaning against that bar in the same suit as earlier is Hannibal. It was his idea to draw Mr Dean out to a location of their choosing with a dinner invitation, and it only confirms Face’s suspicions that something weird is going on that Dean dropped all his plans to come and meet Hannibal - well, to meet monsieur Guillot. (Unfortunately, his associate, monsieur Emond, is currently unavailable - in fact, he’s something of a missing person, lost somewhere in a crowd of swooning young women, and Face is seriously considering pulling the strip of pills out of his pocket and loudly asking Murdock if he’s taken his meds yet, just to get the guy some space. Murdock seems to have pulled an entire bachelorette party by himself.)

Dean arrives early, walking round the corner. Face wonders how he got here - must have a driver somewhere. That’s a detail for later. Hannibal would tell him no detail is for later, but this isn’t Hannibal’s plan. Dean finds him at the bar - Face listens to them exchanging pleasantries in French, over his earpiece, but the most interesting thing is this; Dean is all over Hannibal the instant he arrives, and Hannibal is going with it. Responding. Flirting. Face has never given much thought to his CO’s sex life, beyond the vague assumption that he probably has one tucked away somewhere safe so his boys can’t interfere with it, but this is an interesting revelation. Of course, it could be acting. It’s acting, Face assures himself. They all know Dean is a creep. On the other hand, Hannibal seems to know exactly how to flirt discretely with another man in a high-class public place. Even if it is completely, utterly, and entirely acting. Which it is.

If Face didn’t have the props he needs for the office job tucked in his own pocket, he’d be worried Hannibal was trying to change the plan on him. What he actually seems to be doing is warming Dean up for him. It’s fascinating, watching Hannibal lean towards the man, smile a little too much, laugh just a bit too loudly at an awful joke. Face is reassured to hear a very slight edge of steel to Hannibal’s voice - yes, he’s putting it all on. Well, thank fuck for that. But the fact remains - he’s putting it on just a little too well for Face’s comfort. As they move away from the bar and out of Face’s line of sight, he glances at BA. Time to put on a show. BA waves to Murdock, looking for all the world like a friend saying goodbye, but the gesture actually contains information; ten minutes till Murdock’s part is up.

Face and BA cross the corner of the plaza to the restaurant, walking close together. It’s early yet, but there’s no chance of them getting a table - Hannibal’s table actually belongs to a famous writer who mysteriously phoned up out of the blue and insisted he absolutely must bring his booking forward two hours or he’d ensure everyone who reads his online blog knows how terrible their service is. Face actually has no idea whether that particular author has a blog, but it sounded like something a writer would say, and they bought it, after a bit of pushing. As they approach the bar, Face glances around, spotting Hannibal and Mr Dean at a small table to the left, and allowing his gaze to linger, just as Dean glances up. Face snaps his head around. BA has fallen into character, and is nudging him in the ribs.

Bosco Baracus, Face thinks, is the single most under-rated American actor in history. He has a grand total of four lines in this little drama, but Face wouldn’t pick anyone other than BA to play the role of pissed-off boyfriend. Murdock could pull it off, sure, and Hannibal’s secret talent turned out to be acting - something he had always delegated before - once they were on the run, but for sheer force-of-nature, it had to be BA for this one.

“Who the hell you looking for?” BA growls. “I’ve had enough of this bullshit - the only guy you need to look at is me, okay?”

The bar staff are good - someone is already inching towards the telephone on the wall, but Face catches her eye, shakes his head, and tosses her a wink. Which BA, on cue, reacts to, his hand back on Face’s arm, tugging him onto a bar stool. Face takes a few minutes ordering two drinks, making a little show of eyeing the bar staff over the top of the menu, his hand on BA’s thigh. BA puts a possessive arm around Face’s waist, and they both hear Murdock chuckling away over their earpieces. He’ll have extracted himself from the bar by now, looking for somewhere nice and quiet to wait. Someone, when designing the bar section of this restaurant, seemed to decide that what drinkers really want is to be able to watch themselves becoming steadily more inebriated, and decorated the walls behind the rows of bottles with a huge mirror. The affect of this is, Face can see Hannibal and Dean nice and clearly while focusing on BA. Or focusing on not focusing on him, as the case may be.

The two older men put Face in mind of a comedy duo or a sitcom double-act. He’s never seen two such different people so close together. They’re like matter and anti-matter, and Face is really glad that he decided to do the seducing himself, because if Dean and Hannibal touch, the universe might implode. There’s Hannibal, so familiar that Face hasn’t looked at him properly in years, all hard muscle and tightly-wound grace, his eyes sharp, his every movement carefully calculated for effect and efficiency. And there’s Dean, overweight and sprawling back in his chair. He’s not unattractive, exactly - Face is pretty sure that there’s something to work with under there, but years of drinking and a bad diet seem to be winning out over the genetic gifts of symmetry and fine bone structure. He certainly thinks he’s still as good looking as he may have been in his youth, but there’s too much product in his hair, his clothes aren’t just expensive, they look it, and there’s a general, careless inelegance to him that Face finds off-putting.

He can’t hear what they’re saying directly, but the conversation comes to them over Hannibal’s ear piece. Hannibal isn’t letting Dean get a word in - he’s bragging about his new office in Paris, and Face can hear a little, playful tone creep into the Colonel’s voice as he speaks faster, employing as much of his extensive French vocabulary as he can, until he has quite clearly lost Dean entirely, and the man is left nodding along, muttering oui, oui like he has a clue what’s going on.

Someone clatters cutlery against their plate, loudly enough to give Face an excuse to look round, catch Dean’s eye. Dean, clearly bored by Hannibal’s little game, meets his gaze. Face has time to flash him a smile before BA is pulling him against his side.

“Ain’t no one here but us, baby,” BA growls. Face melts against his chest, all reassuring and consoling, right up until the waitress brings over their drinks. Face is still on the cocktails. He could have stuck to soda, plenty of people drink soda for whatever reason, but he wants the buzz. He feels weird, and he wants it, and it’s that simple. He doesn’t give a fuck if Hannibal berates him later for drinking on the job. Besides, it’s all going beautifully, even though it’s occurred to him that he could simply have Hannibal meet him in the bathroom, pass him the memory stick and the drug, and get him to seduce Dean instead. He clearly could do it, Dean is a bigger letch than Face gave him credit for, and Hannibal would certainly do it for the job. It would be far more elegant than Face’s original plan. Occam’s razor, Face thinks, keep things absolutely as simple as possible. But the idea is... unpalatable. He can’t watch Hannibal leave with this man. He simply can’t. Matter and anti-matter; the world would definitely end.

He leers at the waitress, who gives him a level stare, then looks at BA. There’s a sound over his earpiece, Murdock making a phone call. A beat later, Hannibal’s cell phone rings.

“Your friend seems to have had one too many, sir,” says the waitress. “I can’t serve you again.”

“No, he’s like this all the time,” BA grumbles.

Face leans over the bar, gestures at the waitress. “How’d you get your hair all curly like that? It’s real pretty.”

(“Hey, bossman, this is your official heads-up. Time to get your ass out of there, it’s Facey’s turn to take centre stage. Meet you at the van.”)

“In fact, I’m fucking sick of it.” BA shoves Face away from him; Face over-reacts, making it look just a little more violent than it was. There’s barstaff moving towards the phone again. One number, and security would come swarming out of nowhere, ruin the whole plan. Got to make this perfect.

(“Oui, d'accord, je viens maintenant.”)

Face goes into retreat, holding up his hands, moving away from BA, who is on his feet, improvising something about how selfish and inconsiderate Face is. It’s spot-on, just enough drama to draw Dean’s attention, just restrained enough that no one actually picks up the phone and brings the muscle down on them.

Hannibal is making his apologies to Dean as BA throws down his I’m-finished-with-you speech. They almost collide in the doorway, a waiter apologising profusely to Hannibal for their less polite clientele, and Hannibal having to linger and nod and accept before he can make a break for it. Face is left standing near the bar, the one or two other drinkers pretending not to watch him. He takes a steadying breath, looks around him. The waitress folds her arms and shakes her head.

Face meets Dean’s hungry gaze. Forces himself to grin.

“Hey, handsome. Looks like we both just got dumped. Why don’t we try’n cheer each other up?”

4.

Dean drove himself out here. His Merc still smells of new car, which Face finds just a bit fascinating. He drops a few lines, asks about Dean’s work, gets nothing back other than ‘Call me Elliot’ and some questions about BA. Face ad libs. They’ve been together on-and-off, too pushy, need my freedom, blah, blah. He’s starting to feel very tired, and he doesn’t know why. It’s as though someone is dripping hot wax into his skull, and it’s solidifying around his brain. As though this has been happening to him for years and he never noticed until now. Except he still doesn’t know what the fuck is wrong with him. He’s been on edge for hours now, since, since when? Fuck it. Get the job done, and assuming he finds what he needs in Dean’s home PC, they can wrap this one up in the morning. Then he can sleep all he wants. Maybe he’s coming down with something?

Murdock is chattering away in his ear, as the rest of the team follow the Merc in BA’s van. Face focuses on his friend’s voice, interspersed with comments from BA and Hannibal, but Murdock is on a roll about something, some inane thing, like he always does when there’s a job on the go but he’s got nothing much to do right then. If Face half-listens to Murdock, he can maintain a genuine smile as Dean talks to him in what the man probably thinks is a sexy, dirty way.

He’s just called Face a slut, in fact. He’s going to pay for that. There’s a whistle in Face’s ear, a chuckle from BA. They all know that’s his berserk button, and, by association, it’s Hannibal’s too. No one calls Murdock crazy, no one mentions BA’s godawful conduct record, and no one calls Face a slut. Not unless you actually want to spend your evening picking up your teeth. Face chuckles, makes a mental note to try and keep Hannibal away from Dean for the remainder of the job.

Dean lives in an apartment in nice looking building, which turns out to be the sort of building where you can say hello to your neighbours in the elevator while wrapping your arm around an attractive younger man you’ve never met before tonight. Face forces himself to focus on the man. He has to make sure he seems genuine, right up until he’s managed to sneak Dean the drug. He presses himself against Dean’s side, runs a hand across his chest, toys with his tie, grinning all the while at Murdock’s rendition of I’m sticking with you.

(“Keep it down, Captain,” says Hannibal, with an edge to his voice, “we only have audio. I need to monitor him.”

“Faceman’s fine, bossy!”

“What did you just-?”

“I mean, Facey’s fine, bossman!”)

Face isn’t certain he is fine. Dean has him pressed against the wall the instant the apartment door closes behind them, and stands there for a moment, just looking at him, one hand braced on the wall beside Face’s head, the other stroking his arm. Face takes a steadying breath. He probably shouldn’t have had anything to drink tonight, but the thing with kicking himself after the fact is that it does nothing to prevent him from doing it again next time.

“Pleased I ran into you tonight, gorgeous.”

Face nods. “Yeah,” he says. “Me too.”

“You see, work’s getting stressful. What I really need is to work out some tension. You’ll help me, won’t you, gorgeous?”

Face puts on his best up-for-anything smile, tugs at Dean’s tie, intending only to undo it, but Dean takes it as an invitation and kisses him, hard. Face has no choice at all but to let him in when his thick tongue pushes against Face’s lips. He’s a horrible kisser, just as he’s a horrible dresser, a horrible businessman. But at least the universe isn’t imploding, Face thinks, and then can’t remember why he thought it might. Dean groans and gasps into Face’s mouth, as though it’s the best kiss in history, and the chattering voices in Face’s ear fall silent. That is, by far, the worst part of all.

Face pushes him gently away. “You got anything to drink?”

Dean shrugs. “You don’t need another drink, you’re fucking perfect just like this.”

Shit. “I’m gasping...”

“I can see that.” Dean is on him again. Face can feel the man’s cock against his hip, half-hard, and he really wants to dig his way through the wall with his shoulder blades and escape. But he can’t do anything at all to give himself away, can’t even appear coy now, not after his little display at the bar. He swallows his pride, unzips Dean’s pants, and wraps a hand around his erection. He really didn’t want to have to do this, but if he can get Dean off now, it might take him a while before he can go again, giving them an excuse to stop for that drink.

“Fuck, yeah,” Dean groans, rutting into Face’s hand. “That’s it, gorgeous, faster-”

“What the hell is he doing?” That’s Hannibal’s voice, in Face’s ear. His hand falters, and Dean practically snarls at him. Fuck you, Face thinks, as he starts jerking him off again. There’s nothing in the universe that can prevent Face snapping to attention at the sound of that voice, but this time he feels a sharp pang of... something. That weird, wax-setting sensation again. As if the universe is closing in on him, that intense feeling of reality, of something he can’t quite grasp yet...

”Hannibal, what the fuck?” BA’s voice. Face manages not to stop this time, but he’s worried now. Has something gone wrong? He can hear movement, a door slamming, the van door. Are the guys in trouble?

”Stick with the plan!” Murdock is shouting. Face can’t listen to them, he has to get that god-damned data, and to do that, he has to get this bastard off. It’s taking a bit of work. He pumps his fist and doesn’t listen to Murdock telling Hannibal to trust Face, just trust him, to BA cursing and revving the van, to Hannibal’s silence. He can hear running. It sounds like Hannibal has taken some stairs.

Dean is panting heavily, his cock dark and heavy in Face’s hand, and no, Face supposes, there’s nothing physically all that wrong with Dean at all. He’s chunky, yes, but Face doesn’t mind that, and Dean was definitely dealt a good hand by mother nature. And yet he’s still the most off-putting person Face has ever found himself in this situation with. It’s his mouth, Face reckons. It’s fucking weird. Wrong. Creepy. Face is good at people, at reading them, at playing them, and he knows a weirdo’s smile when he sees one.

And then there’s the sound of something heavy hurling itself against the front door, just inches to Face’s right. Dean yelps in shock. Two more vicious thumps, and the door flies open. It hits the wall and bounces gently back, until Hannibal is kicking it again, eyes seeking out Dean in the darkened hallway.

Dean doesn’t recognise him at first - neither does Face, really. This is a Hannibal he hasn’t seen in a while. The old man’s been pretty chilled out, lately, but this? This is Hannibal on the warpath, dark eyed and deadly.

“Get off him,” he snarls.

“Whu?” says Dean. He’s still clinging to Face’s shirt, and doesn’t let go until Hannibal grabs him by the collar and drops him to the floor with a hard right hook to the jaw. Dean sprawls there, whimpering, his now-limp cock hanging out. He spits blood onto the hardwood floor. Hannibal makes a dangerous sound and moves in again, but Face grabs his arm, hauls him back, saves Dean’s ribs from a vicious kicking.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Face yells. “I had this under control!”

“Yeah,” says Hannibal, panting. “Nice plan, kid.” And then he shoves Face against the wall and kisses him, open-mouthed and hard, teeth bruising Face’s lips, tongue pushing against tongue. Face can’t respond. His brain can’t fully accept that it’s happening, so he does nothing at all. Hannibal doesn’t let him go until two things happen at once; Murdock comes crashing through the broken door, and Dean pushes himself up onto his hands and knees.

There’s a burglar alarm going off, Face notices, distantly.

“Get him,” Hannibal snaps. Murdock nods and pulls Dean’s arms out from underneath him, holds them behind his back, presses one knee to the backs of his legs. Murdock is the lightweight of the team, but it is, Face knows, a very bad idea to underestimate him. He’d rather take on BA than Murdock any day, for much the same reason that he’d rather fight a bull than a homicidal ferret - at least with the bull, you can see where all that strength is coming from.

Hannibal has pulled off his own belt and is using it to bind Dean’s wrists as Murdock holds the writhing man steady. Face should help, he thinks. He should really help. He should stop Dean from whimpering, for a start, because any moment now it’s going to turn into screaming, right about the time he decides this is really happening to him. Face blinks, hard, focusing himself, and pulls off his tie, kneels down in front of Dean, who is gawping up at Hannibal.

“The fuck happened to your accent?” is the last thing he says before Face gags him.

5.

BA is pissed off; there’s a half-dressed man spitting fragments of tooth onto the floor of his van. Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to piss off BA, but Dean certainly isn’t winning himself any more fans.

“Someone put that motherfucker’s dick away,” he growls. Face isn’t going to touch Dean again. He’s had enough of that. But when Hannibal rolls his eyes and begins to move, Face moves faster, zips up Dean’s pants, and un-gags him.

“You’re all insane,” says Dean. His voice is quiet, high-pitched. Absolutely, completely, and utterly terrified.

“Some of us are,” says Hannibal. “Want to play guess-who?” He sounds almost cheerful. Face didn’t know his CO took quite so much pleasure from spontaneous acts of violence.

“You didn’t have to hit him,” Face says. “I mean, yeah, it looked like fun, but you didn’t have to.”

“And you didn’t have to shove your hand down his pants.”

“It was working! The plan was working! What the fuck are we going to do now?” Face shakes his head. He has never, ever seen Hannibal act so impulsively before. He can improvise, sure, but this is... it’s ridiculous.

“I’ve got a new plan, kid.”

“Oh, well that’s alright then!” Face drops himself down in his seat. He should be furious. He is furious, on some level, but it’s a level buried somewhere underneath the strata of confused, bewildered, and intrigued that are fighting for dominance in his head. Confused is the current favourite to win, and Face hates being confused.

“Why the fuck did you do that, boss? Why couldn’t you just trust me to do the job?”

Hannibal shoots him a look. “I do trust you. And we got the data, didn’t we?”

Face glances at the back of the van, where Murdock is connecting up Dean’s home PC to a monitor. Hannibal almost forgot to go back for it, wouldn’t let Face go back into the apartment, so Murdock was put in charge of ripping it out of the wall and getting the hell out before the neighbours and police showed up. Murdock gives Face a re-assuring grin, but he’s brought back to the front by a whimper from Dean. He seems to have stopped bleeding, but is feeling pretty sorry for himself. There’s a little frown of bewilderment in there too.

“What data?”

Face sits forward, giving Dean his best don’t-screw-with-me look. “We want to know what your company is up to. Your staff are being blackmailed, there’s money being drained out of your accounts by one of your managers, and you’re desperate to sell. Your whole business reeks of fraud, and it’s putting decent people in danger.”

Dean laughs, a terrified little chuckle. “I’m the one in danger! And that’s not even accounting for you and your psycho boyfriend.” He shoots Hannibal a look of pure hatred. Hannibal gives him a little wave. Face bites back the urge to correct him on their relationship, knowing how defensive it’d sound. And besides, he’s put a sort of mental block up for the moment, isolating his rational mind from the fact that Hannibal kissed him. He’s aware of it as an event that took place, but he’ll deal with it a bit later on, assuming they don’t get arrested and thrown in prison. Again.

“I did mention your staff are being blackmailed. We want to know why.”

“I have no idea! This is none of your god-damned business, whoever the fuck you are!”

Face sighs. He’s far too tired for this shit. He wants to find a bed, a big soft bed, and fall on it, face-first, and sleep until next week. After that, he wants a shower and a drink, and then to sleep for another week or so, and then he wants to find out why the fuck Hannibal thinks he can go round breaking down doors and punching people out. His curiosity about the whole Mikey-Richmond-Dean thing is wearing pretty thin right now, but Hannibal has successfully dropped them right in the middle of it all. There’s no denyability now. They’re not going to be able to set foot in this state again for the rest of their lives, and if they don’t come up with something good for Mikey and Sam, Face suspects they’re not going to get paid. What’s got him worried is this; Hannibal does not fuck up. He simply doesn’t, it’s a natural law. Sometimes his intel is wrong, sometimes they’re tricked, sometimes things happen that could never be accounted for, but Hannibal does not do stupid things, he does not fuck up. Right after the whole sleep-shower-drink-sleep plan he’s working on, he needs to know what’s going on with his boss. Maybe after that, he’d be interested in the job again, but unfortunately, the universe doesn’t work the way Face wants it to. They need to deal with Dean right now.

“Murdock is going to find out exactly what you’ve been up to one he gets into your PC, so why don’t you just tell us and... well, I was going to say preserve your dignity, but...”

“Don’t you preach to me about dignity, you little whore.”

Face impresses himself; he manages to still Hannibal with a look. Face doesn’t want to know what it is in his own expression that manages to glue a wound-up Colonel Smith to his chair, because it can’t possibly be anything pretty, but it works. Hannibal lights a cigar instead; chomps down on it heavily.

“Okay,” says Face. “I want to know about Richmond. Start talking.”

Dean talks, and as he talks, Face’s heart sinks. Half-way through, he unties Dean’s wrists and gives Hannibal back his belt. Murdock delivers the news that the PC is clean, although Hannibal decides to climb into the back and double-check it himself, presumably, Face suspects, to avoid actually having to apologise for the tooth and the door and the kidnapping. Face apologises instead. Dean takes it with surprising grace, once Face promises they’ll pay to get his tooth fixed.

“Look,” Face says, as the van pulls up outside Sam and Mikey’s house. “We don’t want the feds tipped off, and you don’t want all this coming out. What can we do to make this even?”

Dean shakes his head, weary now his story is finished. “I just want the fuck out. I want to go and live with my niece in Australia. I know about you guys, you’ve got those sort of connections, right? A visa and a one-way ticket, untraceable.”

“That’s all?”

“You could also get my front door fixed. But yeah. That’s all I want.”



Part Two
Tags: hannibal/face, long fic is long, the a-team, what if?
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