evening_bat: Bat in flight, silhouetted against the moon. (Default)
[personal profile] evening_bat
Title: Spoonful of Payback
Author: [personal profile] evening_bat
Rating: R
Spoilers: none
Warnings: swearing, violence, substance abuse
Word Count: ~5400
Prompt: "Okay, so I see Murdock as the sort of baby of the A-team family. The guys look out for him and make sure he doesn't hurt himself with all his crazy antics. What I want is one where the guys save him from a bad guy, an at first he seems fine, if only a bit more jumpy and nervous. Then our boys find out (I don't care how) that something horrible happened to Murdock while he was being held captive. I WANT THEM TO BE PISSED THE FUCK OFF. I Want them to be so angry that Hannibal can't even think straight at first. And then I want them to go after the monster, because this sumbitch just pressed the start button on the whoop ass machine. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the A-Team must bring the wrath of God upon this man. Some h/c for Murdock would be welcome as well. Thanks!"


Spoonful of Payback


Darkness lay thick and hot on the street, making it easy for Face to slip unnoticed through the shadows. The warehouse he was looking for was just ahead, as grimy and run-down as everything else in this dingy part of town. Glancing around quickly to ensure no one was watching, Face turned down the alley between warehouses, moving cautiously down the garbage-strewn passage. It didn't take long to find the side entrance. Face crouched to examine the lock, smiling grimly when the thing practically opened itself in his hands. It was about damn time something went right on this mission.

When they got back home, there were a few people in Intelligence that Face was planning to have a little talk with. If he got to them before Hannibal did. The colonel was not pleased that bad luck and worse intel had practically handed Murdock over to some local smuggling baron. Luckily for their wayward pilot, information about his whereabouts hadn't been hard to come by. BA wasn't any happier than Hannibal was and he'd appreciated the chance to work off a bit of aggression. Now they just had to go pick up their missing man.

Face eased the door open, wary of creaking hinges. The place wasn't exactly well-maintained. To his relief, the door moved reasonably silently and he was able to duck inside the warehouse without raising any alarm. He carefully pulled the door shut behind him, waiting a few minutes to give his eyes a chance to adjust to the darkness of the interior. He could hear a few men moving around somewhere inside the building but from their meandering footsteps, they weren't anything to worry about.

Amateurs, Face thought derisively to himself as one of the guards started complaining loudly to another about how bored he was. But nice of them to tell me where I need to go, he conceded as the guard went on to bitch about missing the show back in the office.

Face craned his neck, trying to get his bearings. If he remembered right, the office should be...that way. Keeping as close as he could to the poor cover offered by the walls of crates he was walking through, Face set off towards the back of the warehouse. He stayed alert for the presence of other guards. One set of incompetent idiots didn't mean that they were all stupid. He angled his wrist to check his watch as he scouted the area. Ten minutes left to get into position.

As he crept closer to the office, he put more effort into staying concealed. The light was brighter here, with more open space to be spotted in. He couldn't afford to get caught now. The sound of men talking grew clearer as he approached, eventually resolving into words.

"There now, crazy man," he heard a smug voice croon, false sympathy coating every word. "That should help. Are you feeling better?"

Face's eyes narrowed. He recognized the sound of a man playing to an appreciative audience. Worse, he knew that tone of mock concern. Only people who liked watching you hurt spoke like that. He checked the time again, anxiety tightening his nerves. There was less than a minute left to go but he wasn't going to just stand here and listen to them hurting Murdock.

The lilt of a familiar voice raised in response made him grin despite his worry.

"It's the end of the world as we know it," Murdock warbled, "and I feel fine..."

Well, if Murdock was still singing, things couldn't be that bad.

Just a bit longer, Face reminded himself grimly as a burst of coarse laughter drowned out the reassuring sound of Murdock's voice. He forced himself to stay calm and still. Any second now and then he'd be free to act.

The crash was even louder than he'd expected, a shocking noise that ground into the ears. The violence of the impact shook the flimsy walls of the building and Face retreated a few steps into the shadows as the place came alive around him. There were people shouting and the heavy tread of men running towards the source of the noise. Face heard the door of the office slam open, someone inside yelling orders to go check on what had happened as a handful of people rushed past his hiding place. A little further off came the sound of a stream of blistering curses, Hannibal playing his part to perfection.

Face gave it another few seconds to make sure everyone was well and truly caught up in the distraction before acting. Pulling his pistol out of its holster, he screwed a silencer onto it as he left the concealment of the crates, heading for the office. He moved silently, careful to keep out of the line of sight of the open door. He stopped just outside the door, back pressed to the wall and gun at the ready, to assess the situation inside. It was hard to hear over the commotion taking place on the other side of the warehouse but Face could just make out some uneasy muttering from the men still inside. It didn't sound like there was more than two or three in there and that seemed like pretty fair odds.

"What do you know about this?" a voice demanded abruptly. Face made a mental note to identify the speaker, the same man that had been speaking to Murdock earlier. Chances are, he was the one responsible for all of this - and even if he wasn't, Face owed him one for smacking Murdock around.

"How am I supposed to know?" Murdock complained indignantly. "I'm crazy, not psychic!"

"They said that you were working with other men," the voice pressed. "Three of them. Are they here?"

Couldn't ask for a better cue than that, Face decided, pushing himself away from the wall. He burst into the room, eyes sweeping the small space even as his aim steadied. Two armed thugs, one guy in a cheap suit standing over Murdock, who was bound to the chair he was sitting in. A couple of bullets into each of the mooks took care of them and then Face was across the room, lifting his weapon to smash it across Mr. Cheap Suit's head. Part of Face's brain automatically registered that the man crumpling at his feet with a wheezy groan was Rodriguez, the local crime boss they'd been told about. The majority of his attention was on making sure that the room was secure.

Once he'd confirmed that the three men were out of the fight, Face focused on Murdock, who'd watched the proceedings without comment. That was unusual for him and worry prickled through Face as he took stock of Murdock's condition. No obvious injuries, Face was relieved to note, aside from an assortment of scrapes and bruises, including an already-swelling mark high on one cheek that promised to darken into a spectacular shiner. Face tucked his weapon away, watching Murdock carefully. Murdock did not like being restrained and Face didn't like the way his eyes weren't quite tracking.

"Murdock?" he asked cautiously. "You okay?"

Murdock's eyes snapped up to his and Face mentally hissed a curse at the distant, not-quite-focused expression his teammate wore. Murdock was never particularly grounded but he was usually more together than this.

"Come on, Murdock," he cajoled, injecting a note of impatience. "Time to go."

Murdock's eyes sharpened at that and Face breathed a silent sigh of relief at the sign that Murdock was back in the here-and-now.

"Face!" Murdock exclaimed brightly. "About time you got here! Been waiting all afternoon for you. These guys don't make for the best company, you know?" he rambled.

"You think you could get me loose?" he added, twisting fretfully against the ropes that held him.

"Well, we don't want you to feel left out of the action," Face lied blithely as he stepped in, crouching to cut away the ropes. As the team's pilot, Murdock did see less ground action than the other three but Face didn't think that'd be an issue any time in the near future. He was fairly certain that Hannibal would be scheming plans that would keep Murdock with them on missions for a while yet. Face had several ideas to offer, in the unlikely event that Hannibal was running low on inspiration.

"There you go," he said as the final strands parted. There were some nasty friction burns ringing Murdock's wrists, he noted as the rope fell away. He'd have to remember to chase Murdock down later and put some salve on them.

"You ready to get out of here?" Face asked as he straightened.

"Absolutely," Murdock replied fervently, almost flinging himself out of the chair.

"Good," Face replied, giving Murdock a quick once-over as they took up positions to either side of the door. Murdock was steadier now, his earlier disorientation gone. His usual cheer seemed a bit forced but otherwise, he seemed okay. Face decided not to push too hard. If something was up with Murdock, it could wait until they were safely away.

"Follow me," he instructed, voice low. "We're going out the back."

"Is that BA and the colonel making all that fuss over thataway?" Murdock asked as Face peered out of the office to ensure that the way was clear.

Face nodded, gesturing Murdock to silence as he led the way back through the warehouse to the door he'd used to enter. With any luck, BA and Hannibal would keep everyone busy on the other side of the building. If any of these low lifes unexpectedly grew enough brains or discipline to maintain a proper guard despite the distraction, well, BA wasn't the only one with some frustration that could use working off.

* * * * *

In the end, it was almost anticlimactic. After a bit of sneaking, Face and Murdock had slipped out of the warehouse without any trouble. They'd picked their way back through the alley and sauntered off down the street, just two guys out for a walk. They'd gone a few blocks before a car pulled up next to them and a smirking Hannibal leaned out the passenger side window to offer them a ride. They'd scrambled gratefully into the car and BA set off for the safe house Face had set up for them before their post-mission stopover turned into such a clusterfuck. BA and Hannibal had been transparently relieved to see Murdock, who'd smiled and assured them he was fine and thanked them for the rescue.

Pleased as he was at how things had worked out, Face still wasn't entirely sure he was buying Murdock's insistence that everything was okay. He was just too quiet. There'd been no wild stories, no effusive thanks, not even any poking at BA for being worried. Face had already caught Hannibal frowning at them from the front seat and simply shrugged in response. His own concern deepened when Murdock failed to notice or react. A preoccupied Murdock was rarely a good thing.

Neither was the tension that was practically humming through him. Face could feel it where Murdock was pressed along his side. The moment he'd clambered into the car, Murdock had slid across the seat and settled immediately next to Face, who hadn't had the heart to shake him off. Murdock wasn't great with the concept of personal space on a good day and today hadn't been a good day. Thinking it might help, he slung an arm over Murdock's shoulders and was dismayed when Murdock startled nervously before leaning almost gratefully into him. Exchanging an uneasy look with Hannibal, Face hoped BA would get them there soon.

* * * * *

"Ah, home sweet safe house," Face sighed expansively as he sailed into the apartment, Murdock trailing at his heels. Now he was more glad than ever that he'd gone through the trouble of setting them up in some place reasonably decent, instead of the shit holes they usually used to make do. The could all use a bit of comfort right now. Real furniture, actual beds and genuine food in the kitchen would go a long way towards making the team feel better, he was sure. Unfortunately, Hannibal bypassed the amenities entirely and led them into the small living room. Face rolled his eyes but didn't complain. As much as he would much rather retreat to the bedroom he was sharing with Murdock and crash for the night, the team needed to figure out what exactly had gone wrong earlier.

Sure enough, Hannibal wasted no time getting down to business. Murdock had barely filed into the room when Hannibal asked, "So, Captain. What the hell happened out there?"

Thing was, you never knew what to expect from Murdock. Depending on his mood, you might get a fairy tale, a reenactement of a movie or a literal song and dance. Hell, you might even get a straightforward report. The one thing you never expected was silence.

Which was why Face's worry returned with a vengeance when he realized that Murdock wasn't answering Hannibal's question.

"Murdock?" Hannibal prompted and Face heard concern mirroring his own.

Face took a hesitant step towards Murdock, unnerved at the way he wasn't reacting to anything. He just stood there, pale and visibly trembling, eyes fixed on the floor in front of him.

"Murdock?" Face called softly.

BA, on the other hand, was never one to waste time with delicacy.

"What the hell is wrong with you, fool?" he demanded irritably, bluster not quite hiding his concern. He reached out to grab Murdock's shoulder.

That finally got a reaction. Murdock jerked out from under BA's hand, slapping it violently away from him.

"Don't touch me!" he shouted, backing away from BA.

There was a moment of frozen silence, as they all stared at Murdock in disbelief. He'd never lashed out at one of them before.

"BA!" Hannibal snapped as Murdock's nerve broke and he darted for the door.

They always forgot how damn fast Murdock could move when he wanted to, so it was a good thing BA was already practically standing in the doorway. A hasty step to the side blocked Murdock's exit and left him nearly tripping over his own feet to avoid colliding with BA. Recovering his balance almost immediately, Murdock promptly skittered out of arms' reach. He looked wildly between the three of them before retreating across the room to put his back to an empty wall, panting harshly as he hunched in on himself.

"Captain!" Hannibal's voice was like a whip crack. "Get a hold of yourself!" It was his command voice, the one they were all hard-wired to respond to.

For a second, Face thought it had worked. Murdock's head came up and he looked right at them, eyes clearing a bit as he frowned.

"Colonel?" he asked, voice faltering. "I - what - something's not right," he managed, breaking off to rub his hands hard over his face.

What the hell was going on here, Face wondered frantically. This wasn't Murdock's usual brand of crazy. Face forced his racing thoughts to slow and tried to think. His stomach twisted at the way Murdock dragged his hands near-violently through his hair, muttering furiously under his breath. Forget the delusions and hallucinations they'd all become used to dealing with. Murdock was acting like someone on a bad trip, not someone having a psychotic brea-

"Jesus fucking Christ!" Face hissed as the pieces abruptly snapped together.

There now, crazy man, Rodriguez had said back in the warehouse. That should help. Are you feeling better?

Rage sparked through Face as the words suddenly made an awful kind of sense.

"That son of a bitch," he growled, barely remembering to keep his voice down. "I should have shot him when I had the chance."

"You have something to share with the class, Face?" Hannibal asked tightly.

"They drugged him," Face spat, nearly choking on his anger. "They shot him up with something. Because he was acting crazy."

It was an important distinction and Face wanted make sure Hannibal kept it in mind when he was considering how many pieces to leave Rodriguez in.

"Seemed to think it was pretty funny, too," he added venomously, remembering how he'd heard them laughing.

"They what?" BA roared and Face barely resisted the urge to shout back at him. He understood how BA felt but his outburst had caused Murdock to flinch violently and scramble further along the wall. The last thing the guy needed was his own teammates giving him something else to be afraid of.

"Take it outside, BA," Hannibal ordered, an unusual edge to the command.

"But Hannibal-!" BA protested.

"BA. Outside," Hannibal grated and Face risked a glance away from Murdock to check on the other two men.

BA was enraged - no surprise there - hands curled into fists as he glared across the room but Hannibal...Face wasn't sure he'd ever seen the man so angry. That stone-faced expression spoke of iron control rather than any kind of calm, Face knew from experience. But in all the times Face had seen Hannibal angry, furious even, he'd never seen his eyes so icy and his jaw was clenched so tightly he was in danger of biting his cigar in two. Not that Face blamed him. He was about ready to tear someone limb from limb, himself.

Murdock hadn't been anything approaching right in the head in all of the time that Face had known him but it hadn't ever seemed to be a problem for the pilot. Like the saying went, Murdock didn't suffer from insanity, he enjoyed every minute. At least he had until today, when Rodriguez turned that craziness on its head and left Murdock fumbling his way through nightmares.

Christ, but Face wished he'd hit that asshole harder.

Time for that later, he consoled himself, trying to swallow his rage. First, they needed to get Murdock through whatever trip Rodriguez' chemical cocktail had sent him on. Once he was back in what passed for his right mind, then they could go kill that bastard for doing this to him.

"Go on," he said calmly. "Get BA out of here so that he can hit something. I'll take care of Murdock."

Back when Face had finally accepted that Hannibal was serious about keeping Murdock on their team, Face had made sure to acquire a copy of the captain's personnel and medical files. It had made for some interesting reading. Pages and pages of notes about just how smart the doctors thought Murdock was, the diagnoses they'd tagged him with, the various treatments they'd tried, side effects, success rates...Face hadn't been sure if he was impressed or horrified. At the time, he'd just hoped that the crazy man didn't get them all killed before Hannibal came to his senses about the pilot. By the time Face had realized that Hannibal was right all along - as usual - he'd already stuffed his head full of ways to deal with their insane teammate if he ever lost it in the field. Looked like he was finally going to put theory into practice.

"You sure, Face?" Hannibal checked.

He nodded. "I've got this," he asserted.

Hannibal returned his nod, a single sharp motion, then caught BA's eye and jerked his head at the doorway. BA grumbled and stormed out, Hannibal stalking after him, barely-leashed violence in every step the two of them took.

Face sidled across the room, placing himself between Murdock and the door before he spoke.

"Hey, Murdock," he called quietly. "You with me?"

Murdock's eyes snapped over to him. "Course I'm with you, Faceman," he answered, voice high and strained.

"I'm with you," he continued, words spilling over each other, "and there's me and me and everybody else but I can't stay here for long because they don't let us out you know and they'll be mad that I ran away again and they're going to come find me-"

"Murdock, you're fine," Face cut across the frantic babble, approaching Murdock step by cautious step. "You're okay."

"I'm not okay! Nothing is okay!" Murdock denied, fisting one hand in his hair as he shook his head violently.

"Listen to me," Face insisted. "You are okay. You're safe."

He carefully reached out, moving slowly and making sure that Murdock saw him. "It's me," he reminded him as he lightly rested his hand on the fist Murdock had raised in defensive reflex. "Trust me, huh?"

Murdock stared blankly at Face's hand on his for a long moment then his fingers uncurled and he made a sudden grab for Face's hand, clinging tightly. Face barely hid a grimace at the desperate strength of Murdock's grip. If Murdock kept this up, they'd both have bruises by the end of the night but Face refused to wince and he didn't let go.

"What's wrong? What's going on?" Murdock asked, eyes wide and distressed. "Why's everything all wrong?"

"They gave you something, Murdock, some kind of drug," Face explained. "That's what's wrong."

"Drugs like at the VA? I don't like their medicine, Facey," Murdock told him, voice small and scared.

Face swallowed hard. "I know you don't," he said gently. "But it'll be okay. This stuff will wear off and you'll feel better soon."

Murdock shook himself, head turning side to side for a few moments longer than momentum warranted.

"You promise?" he asked, pinning Face with a pleading stare.

"I promise," Face replied firmly.

Murdock took a deep breath and held it for a few seconds, before heaving a shaky sigh. "Okay," he finally said, his grip on Face's hand tightening again.

"Okay," repeated Face, trying not to grin foolishly in relief. Who cared about a few bruises? "Okay, good."

A swift glance around the room for inspiration rewarded him with the sight of a couch a few feet away.

"Hey, let's sit down," he suggested. "Might as well be comfortable, right?" he asked, smiling encouragingly.

If he could get Murdock quiet and comfortable, it would be easier to keep him relaxed until whatever he'd been dosed with wore off, Face reasoned.

"Right, Murdock?" he coaxed, tugging lightly at his hand.

"Right," Murdock echoed uncertainly but he took the first step without further persuasion.

He followed Face docilely to the sofa, climbing gingerly onto the cushions and curling up against Face's side. Face let him crowd as close as he liked, draping his free arm over Murdock's shoulders when he settled.

"Did I ever tell you about that vacation I took on Hawaii a couple of years back?" he asked casually as Murdock shifted around, getting comfortable.

"Lots of times," Murdock muttered, free hand winding into Face's shirt.

"Ah, but did I tell you about the party on the private beach?" He was sure he had, he told Murdock pretty much everything these days, but he had the feeling that neither one of them cared right then.

He felt Murdock shake his head against his chest. "Tell me," he requested, voice almost steady.

"Well, it all started with this girl," Face began.

* * * * *

So this was Rodriguez, Face thought a few days later as BA shoved the man through the door of his own office. It was the first time he'd gotten a good look at the man since pistol-whipping him the night they'd retrieved Murdock, a memory Face had been fondly dwelling on. Rodriguez wasn't any more impressive than he remembered - less so actually, now that control of his villa outside the city had been summarily taken away by Hannibal's team. Amazing how much smaller a man could look when you invaded his house in the middle of the night and deprived him of his hired thugs, Face thought as BA shoved Rodriguez roughly into his own office. Of course, being dragged around by BA didn't do wonders for a man's confidence, either.

"Thought I told you to keep him in one piece," Hannibal said from his seat on the edge wide wooden desk that dominated the room, eyeing the distinctly battered-looking Rodriguez as he dragged himself to his hands and knees.

Face, sitting in the leather chair behind the desk, craned his neck to get a better view.

"He's in one piece," BA growled.

"It's just a slightly bruised piece," Murdock chimed in, peering around BA’s shoulder before wandering over to fidget with the contents of Rodriguez’s bookshelf.

"Slightly?" Hannibal asked, pointing his cigar at the already-purpling bruises on Rodriguez' face.

"He tripped," BA said flatly.

"And fell on BA's fist," Murdock interjected helpfully when Hannibal raised an eyebrow. "A few times."

"Very clumsy of him," Hannibal commented mildly, with a marked lack of sympathy.

"Too bad," Face agreed insincerely, watching with interest as Rodriguez gasped and groaned as he climbed painfully back to his feet. "What's with the way he's all curled up there, BA?"

"He might've hit my knee a few times too," BA said.

"With his kidneys," Murdock added, ignoring BA's glare.

"BA gets all the fun," Face murmured under his breath.

"Yeah, well, now BA can take Murdock and go make sure the house is secure," Hannibal ordered.

"Aw, Hannibal," BA grumbled. "There isn't anyone left in this place. Why do I have go out there with Murdock?"

"Because you don't trust him out there on his own?" asked Face, pointing to the door just as Murdock bounded through it with a whoop and disappeared.

That earned Face a dark scowl and a vaguely threatening gesture but BA didn't try to argue further, stomping out the door to chase Murdock down.

By this time, Rodriguez had apparently recovered enough to object. Face raised an eyebrow as the man pulled himself up to his full, unimpressive height before challenging Hannibal.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “What do American soldiers want with me?”

“See, I still say it’s unfair that he’s got better intel than we do, Hannibal,” Face complained, enjoying Rodriguez’s splutter at being ignored.

“One problem at a time, Face,” Hannibal replied, watching Rodriguez with mild interest. “You know, you really should have just minded your own business. A whole lot of trouble could have been avoided.”

“Everything that happens in my city is my business,” Rodriguez proclaimed.

Face snickered. As if he didn’t hear similar haughty declarations two or three times in the run of a normal month, from people far more entitled to the claim. “I give him a three point five for style, four for effort but two for follow through,” he commented to Hannibal.

Hannibal smirked but his eyes were chilly as they fastened on Rodriguez again. “Well, your business became mine when you decided to grab one of my men and make it personal.”

Rodriguez’s confidence wavered for a moment but he rallied. “You can’t touch me,” he blustered. “I have many friends, in high places.”

“Yeah, we noticed that,” Face said, patting the computer monitor on the desk in front of him. Rodriguez’s system had had practically no security on it - Face hadn’t even needed the techie toys Hannibal had loaded him down with. The well-kept accounting ledger had been an extra-nice surprise. “The problem is, a lot of your friends don’t like each other very much.”

That was an understatement. Rodriguez hadn’t been selective when courting contacts. Any number of the men he’d done deals with would kill him for associating with their rivals.

Rodriguez’s breath hitched and his eyes went wide. “What did you do?” he asked fearfully.

“Nothing much,” Face assured him. “Just sent a few e-mails. Made a phone call or two,” he elaborated, with a toothy smile.

Before Rodriguez had time to react to that, somewhere outside the office came the sound of glass shattering.

"Oops," they heard Murdock say into the ensuing silence.

"Oops?!" yelled BA. "What do you mean, oops? What were you throwing those bottles around for in the first place?!"

"I was just trying to juggle them!" Murdock explained earnestly.

"Who juggles bottles of booze?" BA demanded. "Now look what you did!"

Face, who'd seen Murdock juggle far stranger things than a few bottles of obscenely expensive alcohol, hoped that he hadn't managed to douse himself in the stuff.

"It's just a little fire," Murdock replied placatingly.

Oh. Well, that explained why BA sounded so pissed off.

"Uh, okay," Murdock conceded a few seconds later. "Maybe not so little."

“What are they doing?” Rodriguez squawked, fear momentarily overridden by indignant alarm.

No one answered him.

“You boys doing okay out there?” Hannibal called, clearly amused.

“We’re fine, Colonel!” Murdock answered cheerily.

“Shut up, crazy fool!” BA shouted. “You better hurry it up in there, Hannibal! This is going to spread fast and then this place’ll be coming down around your ears.”

“Understood, Sergeant,” Hannibal acknowledged. “You two get out of here. We’ll be out shortly.”

“Aw, but I wanted to stay and-” Murdock protested.

"You walk out or I can throw you out - take your pick," BA growled.

"I'm going, I'm going!" Murdock yelped. Smoke was already starting to thicken in the air.

Rodriguez was staring through the open doorway, expression bitter. "I knew I should have killed that lunatic," he sneered.

Hannibal caught Face by the shoulder before he had time to do more than lunge to his feet and take a step towards the smug bastard. Glaring viciously at Rodriguez, Face wrestled the surge of anger back under control before he tried to shake Hannibal's hand off. The grip on his shoulder tightened in warning.

"All right, all right. I'm good," Face said shortly.

Hannibal held on a second longer, then released his shoulder with a single pat as he stood up. Pacing deliberately around the desk, he advanced on Rodriguez, leaning deep into his personal space.

"Killing him would have been a bad idea. Be glad you didn't," Hannibal advised Rodriguez, menace edging the low rasp of his voice. "Be very glad."

Rodriguez was only able to meet Hannibal's cold stare for a handful of seconds before he lowered his eyes and the last of his belligerent front collapsed.

"Please - you can't do this!" he protested weakly. The colour had drained from his face and his hands had started to shake.

"But we just did," Face reminded him with vicious cheer, waving at the computer and paperwork scattered in front of him.

"But they'll kill me!" Rodriguez nearly wailed, composure vanishing as fear swamped him.

"Not our problem," Hannibal replied flatly. "Come on, Lieutenant," he ordered as he started to walk away.

"We think you kind of deserve it," Face confided, as he walked around the desk to join Hannibal.

"But - I can get you money! Or weapons! Anything! Anything you want!" Rodriguez pleaded, openly desperate.

"You can't offer us anything we'd want," Hannibal replied over his shoulder.

"Some consequences, you can't buy your way out of," Face added airily, as he fell in behind Hannibal. "If I were you, I'd call some of those friends of yours in the US. Some of the government types can be pretty shady but they might keep you alive if you know enough to be useful."

They didn't offer anything else as they sauntered to the door, sharing a grimly satisfied smile at the choked sounds of despair coming from behind them. Leaving the once-proud smuggler terrified and shaking in his own office as his little empire came crashing down around him would never be adequate repayment for what the man had done to Murdock but at least the team could claim thorough retribution.

"Oh, I almost forgot," Hannibal said suddenly, halting in the doorway. "Just one last thing."

Face raised an eyebrow as Hannibal strode back into the room. His CO didn't just forget things. Rodriguez cringed as Hannibal walked up to him but that was no help avoiding the single punch Hannibal threw, fist slamming square into Rodriguez's face with the full weight of Hannibal's simmering anger behind it.

"On behalf of that lunatic," Hannibal explained with a satisfied smile as Rodriguez dropped to the carpet with an agonized whimper, cradling his obviously broken nose as the blood poured through his fingers.

This time there was no hesitation as Hannibal turned his back and left the room. Face, after one long look back at the man they'd broken, followed. The rest of their team was waiting.

FIN


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