Prologue

BA glared around at the people watching him while the phone rang in his ear.

Most of the men around him, the majority of them waiting for their turn at the payphone on the wall, found something more interesting than BA to hold their interest in response to his patented 'what you lookin' at' glower. Some might think that it could have been his unique hairstyle or his double-sized arms that put them off, but it wasn't. It was the fierce scowl he'd been perfecting since he was a teenager. Not many people had the backbone to meet a BA Baracus glare head on and he knew that. He used it often enough to his advantage.

Only the cop in charge of allowing phone calls and a mustached white guy with a physique to rival BA's seemed unintimidated.

The phone rang a third time and BA's knuckles tightened on the handset hard enough to make the plastic creak. Answer the phone, Faceman.

If Face didn't pick up, BA wasn't sure he could convince the hard-ass cop to let him try a third time. And if he didn't reach Faceman soon, there was no way was BA going to get out of the holding cells before they decided to dress him out and make him a more permanent guest while they waited for fingerprint results. That couldn't happen. He'd be on a one way trip to Ft. Bragg in the back of Lynch's car quick enough to make his head spin.

BA let his aching forehead rest against the cold concrete wall. Just as the phone rang a sixth time and the cop was beginning to look impatient, the other end of the line picked up.

"Buster's Bar and Grill," answered a smooth voice.

"I need you to come get me," BA announced without preamble.

"BA?"

"Yeah, man. I need you to come get me. Fifteenth precinct on the South side. Just pay bail."

"On my way."

No time-wasting questions, and BA had effectively let Face know that there was either no need or no time for scams. Just post the bail and get him out. Questions and answers could come later and BA knew that they would.

With a sigh of relief, BA hung up the phone and looked to the hard-ass with a badge. The man's craggy face was stony. It was clear he had little regard for the men he was in charge of and BA had already observed that he valued speed and efficiency above anything, even if that meant pushing the men along with the black baton that he kept his hand on with readiness. BA had been fortunate that the cop had given in and allowed BA to try a second phone call to Face when the first had gone unanswered after several rings.

With that in mind, BA extended a nod of thanks at the man. Rather than return it, the hard-ass jerked his head at the other officer at the end of the hall in a silent command. BA stepped around Hard-Ass and traveled the short length of the hall to the officer manning the steel door. He was then ushered through the door, hearing the unwholesome clang behind him that elicited a grimace, and followed yet another officer that the was handed off to. This one led him back to the holding cell and removed his chafing handcuffs before pushing him back into the crowded cell.

BA rubbed his wrists. Seemed they didn't make handcuffs big enough to fit him comfortably anymore, if there was ever a way to be comfortable wearing them in any case. He'd never worn a pair that wasn't too tight but in the past year he'd worked hard on buffing up the that fact was doubly so. He'd protested without success when they'd divested him of his gold but now he realized it might have been the best thing. They'd have had to remove his gold cuff bracelet to get the handcuffs on and that had been a gift from Hannibal. He'd have hated to lose it. At least that way all his belongings had been recorded, bagged and accounted for, ready to be claimed when he was released instead of mysteriously disappearing because one item had to be removed.

Besides, he decided as he glared around at his unsavory cell mates, he'd probably have had to fight to keep possession of his jewelry had he been put in the overcrowded holding cell wearing any of it. BA Baracus was not one to shy away from a fight even on one of his lowest days but the odds would not have been in his favor if more than a few of the couple dozen men decided to participate. His pounding head and bruised ribs might have made it somewhat more difficult than it normally was for him, as well.

He didn't think it would take Face too long to get there and post his bail, but standing in the middle of the cell glaring around made him too conspicuous, and that made him a target if anyone got ambitious. He decided the best thing to do was relax, to the best of his ability, until they came for him. Either to let him out, or to book him more permanently if Face didn't get there in time. Looking around, he spotted an unoccupied piece of floor against the wall in the corner. Sliding down to have a seat on the cold concrete, BA had to stifle a groan. Seemed he'd take a kidney shot or two that he hadn't realized left lasting impressions until he moved a certain way. It felt bad enough that he thought he might be pissing blood for a couple days.

He was flanked by an old drunk sitting on one side that emitted the noxious odor of homelessness and vomit, and standing on his other side, hip cocked to the side as he leaned against the wall, was an overly-effeminate man wearing clothing suited more to a woman and clearly meant to show off his marketable goods. BA concentrated on trying not to breath through his nose and keeping his head turned away from said goods that were just about face-height from his position on the floor.

If his mama could see him now. BA cringed in shame at the thought.

He leaned his head back against the cool concrete and let his eyes slide closed partway. He wasn't going to relax as fully as he longed to because this wasn't the safest place for that, but the bright flickering lights were making his head pound harder. His stomach was starting to swirl just a little. The rest of his senses perked up out of conditioned habit; he'd know if anyone approached him. He'd be ready but his body wouldn't be happy about it.

It had to have been close to two hours before the holding cell opened for something other than pushing another guest in. BA had been cursing Face inwardly for a while by then, but he knew that the delay was more likely due to the inefficiency of the precinct and not to his friend's procrastination. Face would not have left him sitting in jail for long and would have been there as soon as possible. The risks were too high to screw around.

"Jakes!" the cop who'd opened the holding cell called out. "Ron Jakes!"

It took BA a couple of seconds for his aching head to remember that Ron Jakes was the name on the ID he'd been carrying most recently. Good thing Face was the one who provided the IDs, he contemplated. He'd forgotten to tell Face which name to post bail for. The team's supply officer always made it a point to remember which identification each member of the team was carrying at any given time, and for the first time BA realized that was something to be grateful for. He never gave Faceman enough credit for the things he did to help keep the team safe. He vowed to remember to change that in the future.

"That's me," BA told the officer as he pushed himself up from the floor with a groan. The chill from the concrete had seeped into his already aching body and he'd gone cold and stiff.

"Bail's been posted. Follow me to the intake desk to claim your personal items and then you're free to go."

A glance around the front lobby as he stepped out twenty minutes later saw no sign of Face. It wasn't surprising. The conman would not have wanted to spend any more time in the presence of police officers than the had to.

BA pushed through the glass doors and stepped out onto the wide steps of the police station, heavy box of his reclaimed jewelry in hand. BA took a deep breath of the clean night air, absent of the miasma of filth, body odor, vomit and other unidentifiable things that seemed to have infused every inch of breathable air inside the building. Spotting Face's inconspicuous Sedan waiting across the street and down half a block, BA went to join his friend.