WARNINGS: Violence, Bullying
STORY TYPE: Third Person
CATEGORY: Angst, Drama
LENGTH: One-offDISCLAIMER: The characters are property of Cannell and company.
Face looked calmly at the big man in front of him. He was in two minds - should he say something back to the guys, or leave it and walk away.
Face decided to leave, and turned his back fearlessly, walking towards the grocery shop. A massive hand on his shoulder spun him around, and a fist in his ribs winded him as he fell gasping to the ground.
"Well, well. Lookey what we have here" The man said, reaching for Face’s wallet, and pulling out a few notes. "Think you owe me this one, sucker"
Face looked up at his tormentor with hatred. For the past few weeks, this man had bullied him and followed him uttering threats. This was the first time he had been hit by him, and now he was having money stolen from him. Face felt the humiliation cloud his judgment and he struggled to his feet to defend himself. The bully’s name was Pete, and he was renowned in the neighborhood for being rough and nasty, and always ready to pick a fight. Usually with people a lot smaller than him, and Face was roughly half the size of the big guy. He could have given BA a run for his money, that would have been an interesting bout. However, Face had decided to handle the problem on his own, and not involve the rest of the team. He had survived Nam, been on the run for 15 years and run off lots of criminals with the team, so why shouldn’t he be able to handle this too? This was holiday too, and Hannibal and BA would not appreciate him being in trouble on the few weeks they had been off. So he decided to be quiet.
Face stood squarely, standing tall against the man who looked like he could be a professional wrestler and cleared his throat, embarrassed at his own fear. "Look Pete, I really don’t want to fight you, but I’ll defend myself if you attack me."
Pete smiled and punched Face in the ribs once more. Face fell again to ground, looked dizzily around himself, and tried to get up again. Pete put a foot over his chest, forcing him to stay down. "Listen, punk. I’m gonna kill you slow. You gonna die."
Pete ground his foot into Face’s chest making him gasp. Then he withdrew and walked off with Face’s money in his left hand.
Face watched Pete leave, and breathed a sigh of relief. Why couldn’t he have defeated this man? In his heart he truly knew this man was a coward, as all bully’s are, but he had been unable to fight. Now his ribs were hurting like hell, and he was sure Pete had broken them. Forcing himself to his feet, Face stumbled back to his scammed house, and examined his side. The bruising was horrible, purple bluish marks all up his side, and he sighed as he reached inside the freezer for an ice pack.
Face jumped when he heard the phone start to ring. Stumbling over to the receiver, Face picked it up with shaking hands. "Hello?"
"Hi Face" came Hannibal’s cheery voice from the other end. "How you enjoying your holiday?"
"Fine" Face winced, as he put the icepack on his side. Hannibal detected the unsure tone of Face’s voice, and felt immediate concern.
"Well, Murdock is having a great time. Hawaii is an amazing place. And the women Face, bet you wish you were here ..."
Face felt tears surging as he remembered the offer of a holiday in Hawaii from Hannibal, he had refused because of his commitments to a girl who had left him within four days after Hannibal, Murdock and BA had left. Now he was in trouble, and he felt as if he wanted to tell Hannibal what was going on. But that would be unfair, after all the team were on holiday in Hawaii. "Yeah."
"Are you OK, kid? How’s Joanne?" Hannibal asked, referring to the woman Face had been seeing.
Face put a hand over the mouthpiece as he wrestled his bottled up emotions over the past few weeks. Face took three deep breaths, then took his hand away from the mouthpiece. "She’s fine" he lied.
Hannibal went silent for a moment and then continued, clearing his throat as he disguised his worry. "Well, we’ll be back in three days, kid. You sure your OK?"
"Sure" Face said weakly, feeling very alone and vulnerable. He hung up the phone without saying goodbye and started to rock himself in his chair. "Am I going mad?" He whispered, imagining Murdock was opposite him, and not far, far away in Hawaii.
Face looked at the calendar. Two days before the team returned. After a sleepless night, he walked down to the grocery store quickly, hoping he wouldn’t run into Pete. His heart sank as he saw the huge figure walk casually in his direction, a nasty smile on Pete’s face.
Face drew in a breath and hoped that Pete would walk by, however Pete did not intend to do that. A vicious right cross caught him in the face, and he spun to the ground, cutting his face against the tarmac. Face gasped in horror, as he felt the pain, and the fear. He was lying on his belly, winded, and he could feel Pete’s boot on his back keeping him down. However, at this moment, he had no intention of getting up. Pete leant down and took Face’s wallet.
"No cash? Boy, you made a mistake. This is protection money, see? Nothin’ will happen to you if you pay me a hundred dollars each time I see you. If not this will happen." Pete lifted Face to his feet, and punched him in the chest with his right hand, clutching Face’s hair with his left to keep him standing. Again, he hit Face in the chest, and then let him drop to the ground.
Face felt like his lungs were about to explode, and he looked up at Pete with undisguised hatred.
Pete looked around himself. "Well little guy, like you to meet three friends of mine. Boxer, Frank and Hurl. Hey boys, wanna give our new friend a welcome?"
As the three men kicked Face, it was all he could do to curl himself into a ball and wait until the darkness swept over him, numbing all the pain.
He awoke in hospital, and looked at the mirror with disgust. Half of his face had been grazed by the fall onto the tarmac, and his body looked like it had been in a blender. Face struggled weakly to his feet, put on his clothes heavily and left the hospital without being seen.
Wandering back to the house, Face suddenly realised the door was ajar. Opening the door fully he walked in, already realising what had happened before he saw the damage. Pete had already been here, and Face realised he had taken the team funds from the safe. Face sat on his bed and wondered what in the world he was going to do.
Hannibal and Murdock got off the plane, carrying BA between them.
"Nice to be back home, smell of petrol fumes, MPs, AK47’s ......" Murdock said, sarcastically. He didn’t understand why Hannibal had cut short their holiday.
"Look, its only one day we’ve come back early, Captain. I just get the feeling something is wrong with Face" Hannibal lit a cigar, and watched as BA regained consciousness.
"I aint flying on no plane!!! BA shouted, and looked around himself dizzily.
"Too late" Murdock replied casually. BA grabbed Murdock by his collar.
"Hey, come on guys, knock it off." Hannibal complained, as they walked over to the van, concealed behind a condemned building. BA and Murdock obeyed, following their leader to the van.
As BA started up the van, Hannibal shook off the feeling of concern as they headed for Face’s scammed house.
Face finished clearing up, and looked at himself in the mirror. What a mess. He heard the van pull up in the drive, and panicked. Grabbing some sunglasses to hide a black eye, he found some of the foundation Hannibal used on movie sets. Quickly he got to work on his face, covering the grazes rapidly.
Hannibal rang the doorbell. "Nice house, isn’t it?"
"Only Face could have scammed this one. "BA said proudly.
No answer. BA giggled. "Maybe he’s upstairs with Joanne and doesn’t want to be disturbed."
Hannibal shook his head. Suddenly the door opened. Face looked at the team, trying to conceal his bruised body, and walk normally.
Hannibal’s first observation of Face was that he was wearing make up. He looked at the sunglasses and Face’s uncomfortable expression and became very worried. "Are you OK?"
Face nodded, weakly smiling.
BA tried to reach for the sunglasses, but Face withdrew. "Come on Face, don’t need sunglasses in the house!"
Murdock walked forward and gave Face a big hug. "No welcome home, Faceyman?"
Face gasped in pain, and moved away from Murdock. Watching their worried glances, he indicated for them to come inside the house.
All four men sat in the living room in silence. Hannibal felt something was very wrong, and looked around, trying to determine the cause.
"Where’s the team funds, Face?" Hannibal asked, after noticing the safe missing from the wall.
Face felt his emotions explode. He was injured, beaten and bullied, and all Hannibal could ask about was the money? However, he calmed himself down, and sat gripping the arm of his chair.
"They’re gone" Face said through gritted teeth.
Hannibal felt anger and rose, storming towards Face. His anger melted when he saw Face shrink back in sudden fear. Kneeling beside Face, he lifted off the sunglasses and gasped.
"What happened, Face?" Murdock asked in horror.
Face felt weakness, and realised all he wanted to do was tell them what had been happening. In a rapid, almost inaudible voice he related all the suffering, the humiliation and ordeals he had been through in the past few weeks. He didn’t look at the others, but rather looked at the floor, and when he had finished he looked up.
Hannibal had gone deep red in colour, and was shaking violently. BA was grasping the side of the chair, pulling the material off in anger and Murdock’s expression was unfathomable, tears of emotional hurt filling his eyes. Why hadn’t he told them in the first place, they would have returned and helped him. He had been so alone.
Face had never seen Hannibal so angry. He reached out towards him, and Hannibal grabbed his wrists tightly. "Why didn’t you tell me!!"
Face felt the humiliation wash over him. "I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t handle it by myself."
Hannibal heard the total embarrassment in Face’s voice, and drew him into a secure embrace. He looked at BA who was simply shaking his head, too angry to speak. "Why don’t we go and take off that foundation, and you can tell me where you’re injured Lieutenant." Hannibal said, softly, drawing Face to his feet.
Lying half naked on the bed, Face watched as Murdock applied the icepack to his side.
"I’m sorry Murdock" Face said weakly.
Murdock shook his head. "I know one person who will be sorry".
"Please don’t make any trouble" Face pleaded, fearing for the team.
Murdock merely smiled and shook his head. "Hey, you know the saying. Mess with me but don’t mess with my brother?"
Face laughed, and Murdock acknowledged this with a smile. It was the first time Murdock had heard Face laugh without any fear.
"How long do I get to lye here?" Face complained, watching as Murdock drew up a chair and sat beside him.
"Until you heal, or are comfortable with walking, Face" Murdock said seriously. "The patient will remain until the doctor says otherwise".
Face groaned. "I wonder who the doctor is ...".
Murdock smiled. "Hey, Doc Murdock will take care of everything. You’ll soon feel brand new".
Face wandered down the stairs a little later to find Hannibal polishing a sidearm. Face offered a feeble smile, and sat down, watching the weapon gleam.
"What happened to Joanne?" Hannibal asked.
"She left me two days after you guys had left for Hawaii" Face answered.
"Why didn’t you tell me Face? We could have come back straight away, saved all of this hassle".
"Because I was afraid!" Face yelled suddenly, his fear and pain released finally. "I couldn’t tell you, I thought I could handle it myself!"
Hannibal was silent for a moment, waiting for the outburst to pass. "We’re going to make that guy, Pete, pay. And get our money back. You wanna be a part of it Face? We can do it without you if you want that"
Face smiled. "I’ll go where the team goes, Hannibal. Always have".
Pete walked towards the corvette. Face sat, nervously fidgeting inside, and watched in his rear view mirror as Pete approached."
Before Pete reached the car however, Hannibal, BA and Murdock walked up behind him, startling him. He turned around.
"Hey, what’s up fellas?" Pete asked nervously, seeing the expression of anger in Hannibal’s eyes. Unlike most men, Pete saw the killer instincts in Hannibals expression.
Hannibal lit a cigar, and threw the match between Pete’s feet. "We gotta small problem, Pete. Seems like you’ve been beating up on a good friend of ours."
Pete looked more than slightly alarmed. "Hey, come on guys. We can come to an arrangement, hell, I’ll even leave pretty boy alone."
Hannibal shook his head. "Too late, Pete."
Murdock smiled evilly, his expression changing rapidly under his different personas. "Yeah, Pee ..... we don’t take too kindly to large dickheads scoring a bunch of broken ribs on our bestest friend. Kinda take that personally, if you know what I mean."
Pete took a step towards Murdock. BA stood protectively in front of Murdock. "You know what we mean, sucker?"
Pete sighed as he saw his friends approaching behind The A-Team. Face got out the corvette and joined them at once.
Pete’s cowardice changed into bravado, now that the odds were more in his favour. "Well, guys I’d like you to meet Boxer, Frank and Hurl, my closest friends".
"Screw the introduction, I already met them." Face said.
Pete took a step towards Face, and BA hit him in the chest. Pete fell onto the ground. Boxer, Frank and Hurl ran up to him and lifted him to his feet.
"Take ‘em guys, the black man’s mine!" Pete said, making a move to attack BA.
Boxer made a move to charge Face, but Hannibal intervened, punched him in the face and sent him sprawling to the ground.
Hurl came up behind Murdock, who turned and kicked him in the jaw knocking him out cold. Frank attacked Face, and even though Face was injured from his last encounter with the bully’s, he knocked Frank out cold with a single punch.
BA was still defending against Pete, and laid into him with a boxer’s accuracy, and a wrestlers strength until Pete lay broken on the ground. Hannibal knelt beside Pete, and pulled out the wad of cash from his pocket that was stolen from the A-Team’s safe, and from other people in the neighborhood.
"See, this is what happens when you’re a bully. Get your face handed to you on a pizza base. Come on guys". Hannibal smiled victoriously and put his thumbs up. Face smiled back.
BA and Hannibal quickly got into the van, whilst Face and Murdock got into the corvette, and drove off just before the local police arrived to pick the bully’s up and take them to the local jail.
"Man, I love Hawaii, so glad to be back!" Murdock sighed, lazing in his sun chair, watching the girls playing on the beach. It was their first day on a two week holiday in the sun.
Hannibal nodded, turning his head to the left on his sun chair and closing his eyes. "Well, all in all, I think we deserved an extended vacation."
BA grinned. "Yep, Face needed this one"
Hannibal looked around himself. "Speaking of Face, where is he?"
Face sat with Danielle, the sculpted blonde beauty on a deserted part of the beach. He sighed and looked around himself, the light was beginning to fade.
"Temp, do you think we should lye down?" Danielle asked seductively, in a natural French accent.
Face smiled, and kissed her tenderly on the lips, as they made love on the beach.
The first sunset sunset in Hawaii marked the beginning of a perfect holiday for Face.