evening_bat: Bat in flight, silhouetted against the moon. (Default)
[personal profile] evening_bat
So. I've loved the A-Team since I was a little kid gleefully watching the tv show. Went on a kick a few years back, watched the series all over again and still loved it, 80s cliche silliness and all. Then they made a movie, which I thought I might hate but which I ended up loving beyond reason. Then I discovered [livejournal.com profile] a_team_kink and, well, this happened:


Title: Business Meeting
Author: [personal profile] evening_bat
Rating: PG
Spoilers: none
Warnings: none
Word Count: ~1600
Summary: It's a big universe out there but if you have a problem, if no one else can help and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.


Business Meeting

The first look at a client was often telling. Hannibal wasn't naive enough to depend entirely on first impressions but a client's initial reaction to a meeting with the team still told him a lot. For instance, the nervous stiffness of the two men currently hovering anxiously in the doorway to the bar practically screamed the discomfort of law abiding citizens in areas rife with less-than-legal activities. Hannibal hid a smile behind his glass and waited for them to spot the incongruous spray of purple flowers sitting in the middle of their table - the signal he'd told their prospective clients to look for. Dramatic and over the top, maybe, but all the more disarming for it. Besides, Murdock and Face always did enjoy the trips to the markets to acquire whatever flashy object Hannibal had picked for identification purposes.

He was careful not to react as their petitioners' eyes lit on the team's table, pretending absorption in his drink as they began carefully making their way through the mixed crowd. It was a rowdy crowd tonight, mostly cargo haulers and petty smugglers cutting loose after a hard shift at the station docks, but their would-be clients wove their way through the jostling bodies with determination, despite their obvious unease. That was another good sign. A quick hand signal ensured that the rest of the team was ready when the two men broke through the crowd to stumble to an off-balance halt in front of the table. Hannibal glanced up at them, prepared to take in the show.

Clients almost always reacted to the sight of BA first and rightly so. BA was a mountain of a man, all broad shoulders and bulging muscle, and a textbook example of a heavyworld colonist, down to the gaudy weights looped around his neck and wrists. If his sheer mass didn't intimidate, his customary dark scowl did. The current pair were no exception, eyes drawn helplessly to BA's bulk and then flinching away from his glower. He treated them to a dubious examination before giving a dismissive snort, folding his arms across his chest.

Hannibal spoke up before either man had time to recover enough poise to form a retort. "Help you gentlemen?" he asked mildly, exhaling a stream of smoke.

Their eyes shot over to him and he offered a friendly smile, before tucking his cigar back into his mouth.

"I-" one of them started before faltering. After a quick glance at his companion, he apparently found his courage, squaring his shoulders before continuing. "Yeah, you can," he said, Outer Rim drawl thick in his voice. "Lee sent us, told us to look for the pretty purple flowers."

"Lee sent you, huh?" Hannibal asked thoughtfully, taking the chance to look them over. Pretty nondescript, the pair of them. One dark, one fair, both middle-aged, both wearing the bland uniforms of one of the local shipping companies. A lower-ranked officer and a pilot, if Hannibal was reading the insignia right. "We're friends of his. You might as well take a seat."

Hannibal watched them exchange a long, uneasy glance before the man wearing the command-level insignia finally nodded and pulled out one of the seats. There was less than a 2.7% chance that these men were part of a military trap, the tactical computer in Hannibal's brain informed him, relevant data and calculations scrolling hastily down one side of his vision. He absently plotted escape routes for the team - never could be too careful - as he calculated the odds that the skittish pair would scare themselves off (hovering around 32%) and the chance that they were seeking help for the rash of attacks that had been plaguing cargo routes in the region (upwards of 89% and climbing).

BA snorted again and kicked Face's chair as their second guest settled nervously into his seat. Face glanced up from his flirtation with the curvaceous blonde one table over and flashed their potential clients a dazzling smile. Hannibal hid another grin at the faintly gobsmacked look on their faces as Face turned away to bid a regretful farewell to the laughing blonde. Pheremonal body mods made their resident charmer particularly difficult to resist, even as they caused people to continually underestimate him. Face never seemed to mind being taken for some kind of ineffective pretty boy but Hannibal would never understand why so many people fell into the trap of thinking that because someone knew how to sweet-talk his way out of a messy situation, he wouldn't be any good at shooting his way out of trouble. It was especially difficult to understand when you knew that Face had gotten those body mods - and the training to use them to their full extent - straight from Military Intelligence.

As he resettled himself, Face lightly tapped the shoulder of the team's final member, currently twittering to himself in a mishmash of Federation Standard, local mercantile cant and what sounded like computer code. Murdock's head came up at Face's touch and he broke off his chatter to wave cheerfully at the men who'd joined the team at their table, blithely ignoring their evident discomfort at his antics. Hannibal heard an indrawn breath from the man wearing the pilot's insignia as the dim light picked out the glitter of filament under Murdock's skin, an understandable reaction. Wired pilots were rare, usually military and generally odd. As it happened, Murdock was odder than most, no thanks to their former commanders.

Luckily for his team, Murdock's fanciful lunacy usually worked in their favour - hell, his eccentricity was what had brought him to Hannibal's attention in the first place. Hannibal certainly couldn't think of any other pilot - wired or not - whose apparently aimless chirping would prompt a nearby serving droid to blink obediently and make its way to the bar. He just hoped Murdock had thought to order a round. Hannibal's glass was almost empty, too.

"So who are you gentlemen and what did you want to discuss with our friend Lee?" Hannibal asked, redirecting his attention to their prospective clients and let his direct stare put the lie to his casual tone. They hadn't run so far, so it was about time to find out what these guys wanted.

The two men exchanged another look, hope dawning in their expressions as the significance of Hannibal's question sunk in.

"I'm Jenner," the officer said. "He's Tobin," he added, indicating the pilot. "We run cargo for DWC," he continued, straightening in his seat. "And recently, we've been having a lot of trouble with pirates."

That was about what Hannibal had expected. There had been a number of reports in the news about the increase in piracy in the area.

"Argh, matey," Murdock commented quietly, looking over at Face, who grimaced in response.

"They're making it impossible for us to do our jobs. Hell, they're making it impossible for us to survive the trip!" Tobin burst out, hands clenched into fists where they rested on the table. Hannibal wondered how many friends the pilot had already lost.

Laying a hand on Tobin's wrist, Jenner took over the explanations again. "The lucky ships are the few that take crippling shots and just get boarded. But more and more, they're just blowing up everything they come across. Even after they've transferred the cargo off."

Hannibal's eyes narrowed. That change in tactics hadn't made it into the public reports.

"We're not important enough to warrant official protection," Jenner was saying.

"You mean our bosses aren't paying the military enough money to warrant official protection," Tobin added bitterly, reluctantly subsiding under his commander's sharp look.

There was probably more than a grain of truth in Tobin's grievance. Hannibal and his team had already had a few run-ins with corruption at the higher levels of the military.

"We need help," Jenner admitted. "We're no match for armed and aggressive pirates - our ships are sitting ducks."

"What flag are they flying?" Murdock leaned forward to ask.

"ID signals, call signs, insignia," Face translated for Tobin and Jenner.

Jenner shook his head. "They're not broadcasting anything we recognize on the regular channels and we haven't recovered enough data from our surviving ships' computers to be able to piece the details together."

"This is what we've been able to identify so far," Tobin offered, pushing a dataslip across the table.

Face snagged it and pulled it over to his side of the table, where he and Murdock promptly put their heads together to decipher its contents.

"I think we know these guys, Faceman," Murdock was muttering, pointing to something on the dataslip. "See that there?"

"Doesn't matter who they are," BA rumbled, taking an active interest for the first time. "Pirates are always bad news."

"And bad for business," Face agreed lightly but the expression in his eyes was hard.


"Better than ninjas," Murdock remarked sagely, without lifting his eyes from the dataslip. "At least you can see the pirates coming."
 


"Don't you start," BA threatened.

"Now BA," Face started, laying a protective hand on Murdock's shoulder. "He's right. Ninjas would be much trickier to fight."


"And don't you encourage him!" BA growled in frustration as Murdock beamed.

Hannibal cleared his throat, calling Tobin and Jenner's attention back to him and away from the bickering.

"Sounds like a pretty rough situation," Hannibal said, not without sympathy. The obvious question remained and he obligingly asked it. "How are you going to solve it?"

Jenner set his jaw and looked Hannibal straight in the eye. "I was thinking I'd hire the A-Team."

Fin



Originally posted here on [livejournal.com profile] a_team_kink

As ever, comments and feedback welcome!

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