BA stared at her. She leaned forward on the table, her fingers interlaced.
“Sergeant, I hate to bruise your ego, but to be frank the Pentagon doesn’t give a damn about you or Lieutenant Peck. So far as they are concerned you were just following Smith’s orders.”
BA shook his head. “Colonel tried that himself, told them he took full responsibility, right after we was arrested. They still locked us all up.”
“Well of course the full facts weren’t known then.”
“They still ain’t.”
She sat back and took a sip of her coffee. “How old are you, Sergeant?”
“You know how old I am.”
“Yes, I do. Not even thirty yet. You’re still a young man, Sergeant. You and the lieutenant. You could have a long, normal life ahead of you. Or you could go to prison for the next thirty years. And when Smith and Peck show up to try and rescue you, we’ll be waiting for them.”
“They won’t come.” BA said, knew it was a lie.
“Really?” She didn’t look convinced. “Do you have a pact perhaps? That two of you shouldn’t risk capture to rescue just one man? Well I suppose that makes sense from a mathematical viewpoint.”
“So does my deal. Two of you go free, one man is locked up. All you have to do is give me Smith.”
“I ain’t doing it!” BA glared at her. She sighed and leaned back in her chair.
“Do you know that I used to run a military prison, Sergeant?”
“Yeah. I know.”
“So you know that I know what life is like in there.”
BA didn’t answer. He could guess the route she was about to take. His mind had already gone there.
“I know what life would be like in there for Peck.”
“He’d be fine.” BA said at once.
“You know that’s not true, Sergeant. You’d be fine. Smith would be fine.” She laughed. “Hell, give Smith a couple of weeks he’d be running the place. But Peck?” She shook her head, then she leant forward on the table again, spoke quietly.
“Have you ever seen what happens when you throw a bone to a pack of wild dogs?”
BA jumped to his feet, his chair skidding back across the floor. Benson, Kelly and the guards at the door all jumped. Taylor didn’t flinch though, even when BA leant across the table towards her. She held up a hand to restrain the guards and looked into BA’s eyes calmly.
“You know it’s true, Sergeant. You know because every fight you were in at Fort Bragg was about protecting him, wasn’t it?”
“Face is a Green Beret.” BA ground out. “He don’t need no-one to protect him.” He stood up straight, walked over to the wall, faced it, eyes burning into the paintwork.
“Sit down, Sergeant.” He hated her voice. He didn’t move.
“Now, Sergeant.” He still didn’t move. Only when the shadows of the two guards appeared at his back did he turn around. He could fight them of course, but it wasn’t worth it. And frankly he was just too tired.
“I wanna talk to my lawyer. Alone.”
Taylor smiled, stood up.
“Of course. Take all the time you need, Sergeant.”
Taylor left. Benson picked up the empty coffee cups and followed her. The guards left last of all. BA glanced at the mirror he was convinced was two way. They weren’t allowed to eavesdrop on him with his lawyer, were they?
“You should take the deal, Sergeant.” Kelly said, lighting up a fresh cigarette.
BA snorted. “Yeah, you gotta say that, don’t ya? You don’t care ’bout my unit. You don’t care about Face.”
“No,” Kelly admitted. His voice was hoarse and sixty-a-day gravelly. “You’re my client. I’d have had you take the first deal she offered. That’s the job your mother hired me for.”
BA frowned at the mention of his mother. How much had this guy cost her? Judging by his clothes and his briefcase that looked like it had been run over by an armoured car, not very much. Still too much though. Darn lawyers. Just thieves with suits and diplomas.
“I can’t give up the colonel. I can’t do it.” BA shook his head, talking more to himself than Kelly. “You don’t understand. It would be like… ” He stopped.
“What?” Kelly asked with a frown.
BA shook his head. “Never mind.” There was a long silence.
“Sergeant, my advice is that you should take the deal.” Kelly said at last. “You have to look out for yourself. I’m sure Smith can look out for himself. After all, he got you into this mess in the first place.”
BA glared at the man.
“Was it his idea to escape from Fort Bragg, Sergeant? Before the trial, that seems rather…”
“I said shut up!”
“And I have to ask, did you ever see the orders from… what was his name…” he glanced into a file. “Colonel Morrison?”
BA stared at him . What kind of game was this?
“Are you working for Taylor?”
“What?” Kelly sounded outraged. “Of course not!”
“Get out.” BA said, flatly.
“I’m your lawyer, I’m just trying to look out for your best interests…”
“Get out!” BA yelled, making Kelly almost fall backwards off his chair. The lawyer got up and started gathering his papers and stuffing them into his battered briefcase.
“There’s no need to get aggressive, Sergeant, I’m just trying to help…”
“I don’t need no help.” BA turned to face the wall again. In a moment he heard the door close. A few minutes after that the door opened again. He turned around. It was Benson. BA looked him up and down, from his shiny shoes to his perfect hair. Desk jockey. Spends too long in front of the mirror. I’d get past him in a half second.
And then the guards would shoot me down.
“The colonel says a military lawyer will be appointed for you.” Benson told him. “In the meantime you’re to go back to your cell.”
BA went without a murmur.
BA wasn’t going to accept the deal.
That would be stupid. Sure he got Taylor’s point about the kind of hell prison would be for Face. ‘Face’, BA shook his head thinking of that nickname. Named for his greatest asset, that in prison was only going to be a liability. But the fact was Face wasn’t captured. He was free and there was no guarantee that she would ever catch him and Hannibal. Lynch had tried for five years and got nowhere near.
And she’s been on the job five minutes and she’s already got me…
Me though. Not Face, not Hannibal. They’ll be more careful now they know they’re dealing with someone who has a clue.
Except they won’t of course. If careful had ever been in the colonel’s dictionary he’d long ago torn that page out and used it to light a cigar. They’ll come after me and she’ll be ready. Then she’s got all three of us and the deal is off. Limited time offer.
So? Supposing Hannibal and Face did come to try and rescue BA and got caught? So they all went to prison? BA had protected Face in Fort Bragg, he’d do the same at Leavenworth. As long as they were all kept together…
And if they weren’t?
So? Face was a Green Beret, same as BA. Not as strong sure, but trained to fight. He could deal with any creep that tried anything. Or two, even three of them.
But a pack of them?
BA got off his cot and started to pace up and down.
No. BA couldn’t even think about betraying the colonel. Didn’t have to. Face wasn’t captured. Right now, right this minute he was free. Yeah? Free to keep running and hiding Was that really freedom? Maybe not, but it wasn’t prison either. He knew which Face would choose. Had chosen, when they went on the the run.
Which was Hannibal’s idea. But they’d all agreed. Face had agreed real fast. BA had thought it over a bit longer, wondering about how smart it was to escape before their trial. But he’d agreed in the end. He knew they would almost certainly be found guilty. Almost certainly.
He sat down again heavily.
I’m thinking about it, he thought. She’s got me actually contemplating it. Bitch. He thought a word he never said out loud. And she’d known how to get to him. She kept calling him ‘Sergeant’. He’d noticed that she used the word just a little more often than was natural. She kept on appealing to that part of him that was trained, until it became instinct, to protect the officer. But she wanted him to sacrifice one officer to protect the other.
But if he did it Face would never forgive him. BA would protect Face but he’d lose him too. Face would never speak to him again. The fool neither. Face would probably want to organise a rescue. And BA would have to refuse to help. Because even if it succeeded it put them right back to square one, all of them on the run again. Would Face try it on his own? Would he throw away his freedom for the sake of trying and probably failing to get Hannibal out?
Maybe he wouldn’t. Maybe BA could make him see it wasn’t worth it. Make him see that as a free man he could be there for Murdock. Get him out if the VA sooner rather than later. The two of them could help Murdock. Even if they couldn’t ever speak to each other again – and that thought pained him more than he would ever admit – at least they could both help Murdock.
The Colonel kept saying the VA was the best place for Murdock but he wasn’t the one that had to live there. The faster Murdock got out of there the better. Even if he never spoke to BA again after he did, at least he’d be free.
Math. Taylor talked about looking at it from a mathematical viewpoint. She didn’t realise how right she was about that.
She thought that right now the team had two free men and one locked up. And she thought she was just offering BA the chance to change which two of them were free. She didn’t know there was another member of the team. BA had never stopped thinking of him as that, knew Face hadn’t either. And if Face and BA being truly free, not just on the run, meant helping to free Murdock too, helping him be normal again…
Do the math, Baracus.
BA stood up and went to the door. He banged on it until the guard looked in.
“Let me talk to Taylor.”