Disclaimer: I do not own, nor did I create, any of the A-team characters (main or support) nor do I own, nor did I create, any of the episodes. That credit is due to Stephen J. Cannell and his associates. Any familiar catch phrases or statements also belong to the Cannell team.
Spoiler Alert: This piece is based off the Season Four Episode titled, "Cowboy George" and therefore reveals plot points and characters from that episode. This piece also references the opening scenes of Season 2 Episode 5: "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider"
Author's Notes: Both Hannibal and Face have lines in "Cowboy George" that struck me as I watched it recently. Those lines revealed a lot about Face's character and Hannibal's understanding of him. An idea formed in my brain and this little piece is what I feel would be a fitting "add on" to the episode.
Summary: The dust has settled and the Team is back in LA after the ruckus in Dry Creek. Face is anticipating a stiff lecture from Hannibal; but instead, Hannibal teaches Face a lesson about himself.
After Dry Creek: an Add On to "Cowboy George"
The drive back to LA was turning out to be a long and quiet one. Hannibal was sitting in his usual seat, surreptitiously assessing his team through his visor mirror and peripheral vision. Murdock was sound asleep, exhausted as he was from the impromptu mission and his Lennon Sisters ear-worms. Face was pretending to sleep, but he wasn't tricking Hannibal for one second. The Colonel left Faceman to his charade though to spare him the wrath of BA. The Big Guy was still quite riled with their Con-man for risking their money on this half baked music agent scheme.
Hannibal leaned back into his chair and took a drag on his cigar. He was pleased that his Cowboy George plan had come together but he was already plotting a new one. He needed a plan for dealing with BA and more importantly one for dealing with his Lieutenant. The Colonel shook his head and thought to himself, "Well, BA will simply have to get over it. I'll just reexplain that Face needs these schemes as much as I need my acting, Murdock needs his psychosis, or he needs his daycare center. If that doesn't work I'll resort to ordering him to let it go." Hannibal once again shifted in his seat and glanced out his side window. His cigar held loosely, and forgotten in his hand. He knew dealing with Face would need a different approach. Playing ranking officer wouldn't work this time. Face didn't need a CO, or a friend. No, this time Face needed a father. Hannibal sighed.
BA's gruff voice yanked him from his contemplations. "Geez man, you gonna stop fidgeting over there? You're distracting me from my driving."
"Sorry, Sergeant! Didn't realize I was bothering you." Hannibal snarked back.
A quick glance in his visor mirror showed a still slumbering pilot and an actually napping Lieutenant. Good now was his chance to talk BA off his latest Faceman grudge. "Well this plan came together." Hannibal began.
"It wouldn't have needed to come together if Faceman hadn't been fool enough to do a deal with that crud Dashiel Goldman. Faceman would have been better off dealing with a rabid coyote." grumbled BA.
"Ah but it was good for those cowboys that we ended up in town. If Face hadn't called us in that Danford creep would have stolen all their hard earned wages." declared Hannibal.
"You're just trying to spin away Faceman's lousy deal, Hannibal." argued BA "But I guess you've got a point, we did get to stop those thieving murdering suckers." he begrudgingly agreed.
"And we got to meet Boy George and the rest of Culture Club. Won't the kids at your daycare center love this story?" pushed Hannibal.
"Yeah, that's right too. And Boy George did promise to send a bunch of their albums to the center to pass out to the kids." said BA with less annoyance in his tone.
"So you see, ultimately a lot of good came out of Face's deal." the Colonel carefully pointed out.
"Oh alright, Hannibal. I won't pound the Sucker for being blind. But the dude needs a talking to. He can't keep diving into these get rich quick schemes."
"Good! And I will have a talk with our Lieutenant, BA, I promise."
Three hours later the Team was entrenched at Hannibal's latest borrowed abode - his agent's condo. The agent was out of town and had asked Johnny Smith to house sit. BA and Murdock were on a dinner run. Face was finishing up a shower. Hannibal noticed that his second-in-command was taking an unusually long time and thought to himself, "The Kid knows he screwed up and is trying to avoid me."
Eventually Face emerged from the bathroom while Hannibal was busy in the kitchen setting the table. Face took advantage of this and slipped out to the deck. Hannibal shook his head as he watched Face try to delay the unavoidable and thought, "Best get this done before BA and Murdock get back. The Kid feels low enough already, he doesn't need to get dressed down with the others here." Hannibal joined Face out on the deck.
Face visibly tensed when he heard the sliding door open. He shot Hannibal a friendly grin but his eyes were wary and guarded. "It's a nice sunset tonight. Thought I'd come out here to better enjoy it." Face explained.
"That's not why you're out here, Face."
"Sure it is." he said flashing his innocent me smile.
"Kid don't try to scam me. I know you too well. You're out here trying to avoid me, and this conversation." Hannibal declared. Face glanced away and propped his elbows atop the railing.
"Kid? Doing a deal with Dashiel Goldman, without reading all his fine print? Come on? You're better than that." chided Hannibal.
"Aw, Colonel, it's like I told Murdock. It simply didn't occur to me he'd screw me over. After all, I had helped him out with his ex-wife. We were friendly. I believed this deal was a thank you for the ex-wife situation." explained a chagrined Faceman.
"Let me tell you the fatal flaws in your plan." Hannibal said as he leaned back against the railing.
"Flaws? You mean there was more than one?"
"Yes. Now be quite and listen. First off, you fell for your own scheme. This was just like that time you decided to be a producer. You even threw that huge gala to launch the film. I pulled you out just before Decker arrived to nab you."
Face had the decency to blush and remain silent.
"Just like then, you again let yourself get lost in your own con. It had just enough realism to reel you in too, not just your marks."
"I was just trying to turn a profit for us, that didn't require us to risk out hides, Colonel."
"I know that, Kid. But you've got to be careful not to fall into your own fabrications."
"I'm sorry. What's the other flaw, Colonel." Face asked reluctantly.
"This is the flaw that really tripped you up big time here. But it's also the one I'm least willing to reprimand you for." Hannibal paused to gather his words while Face looked at him completely bewildered.
"You're a phenomenal con-man, Face. You're able to scrounge up whatever the Team needs. You did it for us during the war, and you've just gotten better as the years have passed. In Nam, the other COs thought I was daft for putting you on the Team. Your reputation, well, it proceeded you. Most of them didn't want the stress and aggravation of commanding you."
Face smiled ruefully and shook his head, "But you gave me a shot, a trail period, or as you called it an opportunity to prove the Brass were idiots."
"That I did, Kid. That I did. Because I had noticed something none of them had been patient or observant enough to notice. That even amid all the clouds of cons, chaos, and controversy you could stir up you always maintained your integrity."
"My integrity?!" Face interjected uncertainly.
"Yes. You never conned a helpless or hopeless person. You never betrayed a friend. You never tried to hurt anyone with your schemes. You still don't."
"And, most admirable to me, you never forget to repay a debt. You value loyalty."
Face swallowed hard trying to control his emotions.
"That's what tripped you up dealing with a rat like Goldman. He has not one drop of your integrity. You trusted him because you expected him to behave as you would. You figured he'd have the same Code of Honor as you do. Very few men do, Kid."
Face turned to Hannibal, humble honesty now replacing the wariness in his eyes and said,"This is so not how I expected this conversation to go down."
"What were you expecting?" inquired Hannibal with a grin.
"I had screwed up big time. I'd been an idiot. I had lost the Team's money. I had dragged Murdock along for the ride. I needed to call you and BA to help bail my butt out of the fire. I was expecting a major chewing out." admitted Face.
"Not this time, Kid." Hannibal said as he chomped on his cigar and gave Face a fatherly shoulder rub. "Not this time."