After the Sunset
Allison fell down on the sofa after she had managed to usher out the last of the party goers. She was exhausted. When she had returned from her last mission, for some reason her response centre was filled with people. They had brought food and booze, so Allison didn't mind so much that most of them talked incoherently and squeed while pinching her in her upper arm. Her arm was a bit sore, though. She closed her eyes and nestled into the sofa. What she needed now was a nice quiet nap.
Immediately one of her eyes flew open again and gave the console a cautious glare. Nothing. Allison tried to sleep with one eye on the console.
Allison nearly fell from the sofa. She glared at her partner. "What's good about it?"
"Sun is shining, birds are singing." Tasmin shrugged.
"Consoles are humming," Allison added. "Thanks for waking me up. I was catching up on my sleep deprivation."
"Are you interested in a 'where are they now' fic?"
"A-Team. Team got their pardons, Face and Amy got married."
"And they had a couple of Sue-kids that start the new A-Team."
"Close. Their kid is still a baby."
"We're going after babies now?"
"If they distort the canon." Tasmin tapped the keys on the console.
"How do you feel about that?" Allison stuffed a fresh notepad in her pocket. "You like babies."
"Not if they distort the canon." Tasmin opened a portal. "After you."
The portal brought the agents to an open type kitchen where beyond the kitchen counter was the living room. In the living room Face and Tawnia were sitting down. The agents quickly ducked. Face's baby girl was only ten months old, but old enough to point at two strangers.
She was a pretty little thing, her hair a mixture of warm honey and spun gold, her eyes a delightfully golden brownish green.
"I'm surprised Face is holding the baby in his lap. Honey's an icky-sticky substance."
Face asked Tawnia why she had called him over. She said it was because they hadn't seen each other in six years. Face didn't believe a word of that. Tawnia avoided the topic and first cooed some about the baby. Then when Face asked her again, she told him that she was working on a story that involved Tom Anderson, also known as Tommy Angel, and that she had kicked over a nest of his illegal activities.
Face immediately stepped in. He told Tawnia to stay out of it and that he and the Team would take care of it. Tawnia whined about missing out on the story of a lifetime.
"Don't you think Face is taking this case rather quickly?" Allison asked. "He hears Tommy Angel is out of prison and he's all 'let's send him back in'. There used to be a time when the Team helped the underdog. This sounds more like a private vendetta."
"It's Tommy Angel, that makes it a bit personal for Face. Although, in canon they didn't go after him until they ran across him, so, it's not that personal. More of a 'wouldn't mind never hearing that name again' kind of thing."
Face left after Tawnia agreed to stay out. He walked back to his car, a Corvette, and spotted the van parked right behind it.
The agents had followed at a distance.
"How nice," Allison said. "He bought the same car. You'd think he would have gone for a family car now that he has a family."
Face went to the van and told Hannibal that Tommy Angel was out of jail. He told Amy to spend some time with Tawnia to keep Tawnia from pursuing this story. Amy accused him of trying to keep her from pursuing the story too.
Face gave her a look of complete innocence. "Now, would I do that? Hazel, would Daddy do that to Mommy?"
Hazel looked at him seriously and nodded.
"Precocious child," Tasmin said. "Pretty much the only thing a ten-month-old baby should have understood from that question was 'mommy' and 'daddy'."
Murdock thought Amy would be better at telling Tawnia to stay put than the Team. Amy doubted that, but Hannibal told her that it made sense. Tawnia knew they would not hit a woman, but she might think Amy would hit her.
Tawnia was invited to Face and Amy's penthouse to explain the case to the Team. The guys weren't there yet, which gave Tawnia and Amy some time to catch up. Or in this case, gave Amy the opportunity to tell her how she and Face had gotten together.
Tasmin was sitting in an arm chair, with Allison to her right on the arm rest.
"Is it out of character for Tawnia to not have told much about what she has been doing the past six years?" Allison asked. "All we know is that she got divorced and hasn't worked as a journalist. I always figured her more for the type of person to politely ask what you have been up to, in order to give a blow by blow account of their own events at the first opportunity."
Tawnia, however, tried to come to a full understanding of what had happened to Face and Amy. Amy said that they really hit it off when Face called her after he got away from Stockwell. There had been something going on before, but Amy had left because she didn't want to ruin their relationship.
I wasted two years being a career woman, but now I'm back where I belong. Hanging with the guys, doing missions... being a wife and mom.
"I hope you've turned the CAD off," Allison said. "We wouldn't want to wake up the baby."
Tasmin growled. "I'm pretty sure she's awake already. Suefluence is less strong when the Sue's asleep."
The Team came in and Amy cautioned them the baby was sleeping. They all quieted down and Hannibal asked Tawnia what she knew.
"Well, Tom Anderson- you know him as Tommy Angel- has been smuggling women across the border to use as drug mules. He puts the heroin in little balloons and makes them swallow it. Can't be detected. In exchange, he keeps them here on work visas- provided they work for him in his brothel. He holds their work visas; they can't get away, can't tell the police. Not that most of them know enough English to tell the police..."
"What do you mean: 'in exchange'? In exchange for using them he uses them some more?"
"Am I the only one that is surprised that these women actually have work permits, rather than being illegal aliens pure and simple?"
Hannibal gave Amy a look. With the right kind of make-up- Face quickly interrupted, he wanted none of that.
Amy frowned. "Why not? You've let me be bait before..."
"When was that?" Allison asked. "Not in canon was it? I remember in The Only Church in Town Amy offered to be the one to go in under cover and Hannibal refused."
"His exact words were: 'We've got enough women and children in jeopardy without adding you to the list'."
"So, he doesn't think enough women and children are in jeopardy now?"
"That must be it. Or working for Stockwell has melted his brain."
"Or the Sue ..."
"Yeah, let's go with that."
Hannibal assured him they would not let Amy out of their sight. Face was not assured. He reminded Hannibal what had happened when he went under cover in a human trafficking operation.
And... besides, what about the baby?
Hannibal waved it all away. He even said Tawnia could take care of the baby while Amy was away.
"Are we safe sitting here?" Allison asked. "In plain sight of these canons that I'm not all too sure actually are canons. Hannibal seems to be replaced by someone without much sense or moral standing."
Face was about to say something when a door opened and the Sue walked into the room.
The agents quickly dove behind a sofa, and hoped that the Sue had not seen them yet, busy wiping the sleep from her eyes.
"Ten-month-old babies don't walk like that," Tasmin muttered. "Most don't, anyway. They still need something to hold on to, and if they don't they usually don't take more than a few steps."
"You already said the kid was precocious."
Tasmin glared at her partner.
Face picked up the Sue and took her to the kitchen. He returned a little while later with the Sue and a tub of ice cream.
"Go pok, Doddy!" Hazel was saying
"And they don't talk like that."
"If it is of any consolation to you, that made absolutely no sense to me."
Tawnia asked if there was anything specific she needed to know, and mentioned that she had never taken care of a kid before. BA said she should just go to Chicago and visit his mother.
Tasmin thunked her head on the carpet. "No, no, we're not going to drive halfway across the country with a baby - again."
Allison settled with her back against the sofa. She flipped to an empty page on the notepad and stared at it. "I thought Amy was OOC when she said working on her career had been a waste. But now ... she's going to work as a drug mule to infiltrate a prostitution ring and someone who's never so much as held a baby is going to take care of hers. I would have expected her to pipe up, at least a little. Even to say: 'why don't we use our regular baby sitter'. Or are we to assume that when she goes on missions with the Team the baby goes too?"
Tasmin rolled her head to the side, not lifting it off the floor. "BA probably made a booster seat atop the weapons cabinet."
With everything taken care off Amy called Frankie to prepare for her mission. To look Vietnamese - Tommy Angel picked up his drug mules in Vietnam - she had a spray-tan and black colour rinse for her hair. Only her eyes stayed European, but Face didn't think that was much of a problem, considering how many American soldiers had been around getting Vietnamese women pregnant.
The agents had followed the Team - or rather, taken a short-cut by portal - to Frankie's studio. They stood a little to the side watching proceedings.
"Would that work?" Allison asked. "I mean, isn't Amy a little bit old to be the child of an American soldier?"
Tasmin bobbed her head from side to side. "I doubt anyone is going to ask for a birth certificate. But pure theoretically speaking, she couldn't pass for the child of an American soldier. She was born in 1957 or 1958. First ground troops weren't deployed until 1965. But American soldiers weren't the first virile white men to come to Vietnam. Before them there were already a lot of American 'advisers' in the country who trained the South Vietnamese Army. And before that Vietnam was a French colony. I'm sure they've influenced the Vietnamese people in more ways than just introducing them to the Latin alphabet."
"Look at it this way, Facey; at least it's close to Halloween?" Murdock offered helpfully.
"That the time of year when people start calling each other by new nicknames is it?"
Amy laughed, but quickly put a hand to her mouth. She was feeling a bit sick. Frankie thought the spray-tan fumes had made her a little light-headed. The Team all gave him angry looks. Amy didn't think it was the fumes.
"I've been feeling for two days like I might be coming down with something. But, I'll be all right."
"Please note, that this woman has already had a baby," Tasmin said. "She seems to be suffering from pregnancy-induced memory loss."
"You don't think ..."
"Of course not," Tasmin assured her partner, who let out an anxious sigh. "I've read the Intelligence Report, I know."
The Team - and agents in their tow - then went to Vietnam and waited for Tommy Angel to show up. Though from Tawnia's story it had seemed that Tommy ran a large operation, he still took pride in hand-picking the girls who were going to work for him.
"Write up stupidity charges for everyone." The agents were looking around the corner of a shack. "The Team, for staying close to Amy so that everyone in the village will know her as 'that girl that came with the Americans'. Tommy, for not having any people working here locally in order for him to pick up the village gossip. And Tommy, for going to Vietnam himself, by boat, to pick out the merchandise. Apparently, he hasn't learned from his stint in prison that if you can make others take the fall, you should."
Tommy asked Amy a few questions in Vietnamese, or rather, he demanded to know her name. She gave him her name and told him she wanted to go to America. Tommy was convinced and he herded her into the back of a truck with some other women. The truck drove off, and the Team followed in a vehicle of their own. Luckily for the agents, there was room enough for them to hitch a ride.
After a two hour drive - cut mercifully short by a scene break - they heard Tommy's voice over the wire Amy was wearing.
"I think I should try out my samples now..."
"In the back of the truck? While still driving?" Another pot hole threw Allison nearly onto Tasmin's lap, again. "These aren't exactly smooth roads."
Tasmin pushed her partner away. "Try to hold on to something that isn't me."
Apparently, the sample Tommy wished to try out was Amy. She told him in Vietnamese that she was having her period, a sentence Murdock had taught her to say in case of emergency. This was also code for "come and rescue me" and Murdock told BA now was a good time to cut off the truck and make it stop.
BA did what he was told and forced Tommy's truck to a stop. Two military transport jeeps drove up; their passengers jumped out and surrounded the truck. The Team, not the least bit fazed by this sudden competition, ran past this circle and started pulling Tommy and his men out of the truck to beat them up.
"If they were going to screw up their mission they could have done that before Amy boarded that truck." Allison tried to climb out of the back of the Team's vehicle, but Tasmin held her back. "What?"
Tasmin ducked as low as possible and gave a little nod in the direction of the female colonel that had emerged from one of the jeeps. "I don't think she's supposed to be here."
"Doesn't that depend on whether there are still American troops deployed in Vietnam, and whether they police the countryside?"
"There aren't and they don't. And she's supposed to be movie canon."
"Now, if it had been Vietnam military that came to arrest Tommy Angel," Allison thought out loud. "Or perhaps the Vietnam police has the rank of colonel."
The uniforms of the people that had exited the jeeps changed in style and colour.
"I guess the fic hadn't been very specific," Allison remarked dryly.
The uniformed men dragged Face away from Tommy Angel to stop him from beating the man to a pulp. Face managed to pull himself free when he saw Amy and closed her in his arm. When she had collected herself, she quickly gave evidence.
five of the girls have swallowed balloons with heroin inside. He hadn't gotten to me yet. When the truck stopped he... well, nevermind that; just... he made it very clear that his intent was smuggling these girls across for the price of prostitution and smuggling the drugs. Get a translator and talk to them. Promise them amnesty or citizenship, as long as you aren't lying, and they'd cooperate.
"He made them swallow balloons with drugs while in a moving vehicle?" Allison looked up at her partner. "Again I ask, on these roads? Doesn't he consider car sickness a problem?"
"Apparently not. By across, do you think Amy means across the Pacific, or just across the American border? Somehow implying the USA borders on Vietnam, at any point."
"Well, BA suggested Tawnia should drive from LA to Chicago if she had any baby care questions. So either BA is mean-spirited towards Tawnia and the baby, or geography is looking funny again."
The Team and Amy walked back to their truck and explained to her that they and the female colonel went way back.
Amy looked up at Face. "You slept with her, huh?"
"Amy, why don't you just ask if Davinci liked paintin' nudes?" Murdock smirked.
"As Da Vinci never actually painted any nudes," Tasmin said as she pulled the remote activator from her bag, "the answer to that question would be no."
"Or maybe that he liked to but never got the chance." Allison nodded her head towards the female colonel. "If she's supposed to be film canon, shouldn't we return her to where she belongs?"
"Hold this." Tasmin gave the remote activator to her partner and dug through her bag some more. She pulled out a CAD. She turned the device on and quickly switched of the sound. Then she tentatively pointed it in the direction of the woman.
Tasmin frowned at the read-out and showed it to her partner.
"How can a character be both non-canon and an impersonator? I thought impersonators always impersonated canons. What does this mean?"
"It means I get to shoot her." And without further ado, Tasmin pulled her Beretta 92B from her bag and shot the woman. The uniformed men that had accompanied her disappeared in a puff of smoke, and so did the Vietnamese girls.
Tommy Angel looked left and right, seemingly confused about all the sudden disappearances. He scratched his head and then took off on a hike.
"He's canon. Can we just leave him here?"
"He appeared once, in an episode in second season. This story is set at least six years later. I don't know where he's supposed to go. He'll just have to find his own way back. Where'd the Team go?"
The agents looked around and then at the Words. They found that the Team had flown back to Chicago to pick up the baby - where apparently Tawnia had left her - and gone home. The Team had gathered at Face and Amy's place again. The agents decided to take a portal.
Crouching behind the sofa again because the baby was up and about, the agents tried to follow the conversation the Team were having.
Amy had been feeling queazy for days, so Face had sent her to a doctor. Hannibal thought that she was pregnant again.
"Anyway, the story broke today."
Face nodded. "I read. Didn't say anything about sentencing, though."
"No... hopefully the army's gonna throw him in a nice deep hole..."
"Where do I start?" Tasmin wondered. "Do I start by pointing out that US Army does not trial US citizens because they are not subject to military law, not even if they used to be in the Army? Or do I start with the comment that US court systems, even military ones, take more than a few days between arresting, arraigning and sentencing someone? Or do I say that Vietnam has the death penalty for large scale drug trafficking, and though they are a bit secretive about the when, the how and the why, holes don't come into it until after the criminal is dead?"
"How about you start with, we caused the guy to get away; there is no story to break."
"A detail this fic is not concerned with." Tasmin waved it away.
Amy came in and announced she was pregnant. The agents expected cheers all around, but BA, Murdock and Hannibal suddenly disappeared from the penthouse, and after snuggling together for a moment, so did Face and Amy.
The agents experienced a scene change after which Face returned to the apartment carrying groceries. He had bought fresh lobster.
"I have no doubt Face would order lobster every now and then when out in a fancy restaurant. I do doubt he would want to take the restaurant experience home, and cook the little buggers himself."
When Amy didn't answer his calls he got worried. Her car was in its spot in the garage and there was no note saying she had just popped out. He phoned Hannibal who came over immediately with BA and Murdock.
Face went into elaborate detail to explain why Amy would have left him a note: because he got frantic one time she didn't.
"Yes, well, she really didn't have much of a chance this time." a familiar, smooth, oily voice said from the open doorway. It was Stockwell, and he had about six uniforms behind him.
Allison jumped up from behind the sofa and walked closer to investigate the rack of uniforms Stockwell had apparently brought with him. "US Postal service, Deutsch Bahn, Ryanair stewardess. Since when's Stockwell a collector of company uniforms?"
"Since the moment he walked through that door into this fic."
Stockwell as much as admitted he had taken Amy and her daughter - for their own safekeeping - and that Face could have them back if the Team worked another little job for him.
Allison looked at Stockwell. She was sure she heard a slight rippling sound coming from his direction. Cautiously, she walked back to the sofa, careful that her footsteps would not cause a tremble that upset the delicate balance that was still holding Stockwell together. "I knew Stockwell was a manipulative bastard. I never thought he would resort to kidnapping. Somehow I think he thinks that's beneath him."
"If he wanted the Team to work for him again, he knows he would need a strong argument to convince them. Kidnapping may be a strong argument, it also means getting his hands dirty and possibly the Team wants to get revenge, or do other things he can't control. Stockwell's smarter than to kidnap anyone."
The Team didn't call Stockwell's bluff, but decided to take his offer. All left.
The agents turned to the Words to find out where they were going and what they were going to do.
Stockwell went to a hotel room where he kept Amy and the baby and a bowl of caviare. Amy told him the Team were going to find her and kill him.
"No, they're not," Allison said. "They haven't killed anyone since Vietnam."
"These guys might, though," Tasmin said. "They're rather bloodthirsty."
"I've written down the charge."
In the night, Stockwell had left a guard with Amy in her room. Amy decided to fight sleep and stay watchful instead.
Tasmin rolled her eyes. "Contrary to popular belief, will-power alone is not enough to keep a person alert."
The guard, who had apparently not been given orders to stay watchful - or was stupid enough to think he could disregard orders from Stockwell - tried to make a pass at Amy. Amy grabbed a golden fork to ward him off.
"Now, just relax, honey, no need for you to get all violent about it..." the guard said, standing up, his hands raised placatingly.
"He's right, Doll; but, I'd say it's a damn good time for us." said a voice close behind the guard.
It was Face. He and Murdock had come to Amy's rescue. Amy immediately ran to him for protection under his arm.
"Can we blame her pregnancy for Amy not taking the opportunity to disarm the guard?"
"If it was mother instinct that made her run to Face than why is she leaving her other baby on the bed?"
Face and Murdock gave no explanation how they had entered the room, or even how they had found out Amy was in it. The closest Face came to explaining himself was stating that he had called in a favour and that Stockwell was waiting for them.
"Stockwell is getting sloppy. First the kidnapping and now not having covered himself against mishaps. I think his brain has also melted."
"I wonder who's important enough to be able to make Stockwell sit in a room when he doesn't want to, but can own favours to Face." Tasmin quickly read on. "Oh, they are going to see that female colonel they met earlier in Vietnam."
"They can't." Allison frowned. "You shot her."
"They don't know that." Tasmin dug through her bag.
"Right?" It was of course indisputable logic, but Allison was sure there was a fallacy to it somewhere.
"I'm going to pose as the colonel." Tasmin opened a portal and hopped through.
Still puzzled, Allison followed.
The Team and Amy arrived at a posh house where Tasmin, in her new disguise, stood waiting for them. She observed all of them and then raised her eyebrows without saying a word.
Amy introduced herself. "We've met," she added, but got no reaction.
Face started to make a comment about disguises, but thought better of it halfway through. "Something isn't right here."
"Hmm." Tasmin crossed her arms and continued looking at them.
"This is the part where you say you appreciate our help in catching Tommy Angel and Stockwell," Face prompted.
"Do I?" Tasmin pushed a pair of sunglasses on her nose. "I think this is the part where I ask you all to look into the red flashy light." She depressed the button on the neuralyzer and flashed the five people standing before her. "You did not come here to exact revenge on Stockwell. I don't know what you are doing. Maybe the two of you are married, but you," she pointed at Amy, "did not become his puppet. You still have enough a mind of your own not to need to run into his arms every time a bad guy says 'boo'. You," Hannibal received the finger now, "don't use her as bait, and you," the last poke was for Murdock, "stop saying Facey." Tasmin removed her sunglasses. "You may leave now."
The Team and Amy turned around and walked back to the van. There was a drone-like quality to their step but Tasmin was sure that would wear off soon enough.
While Tasmin had been talking to the Team, Allison had made herself useful by removing the baby and the car seat from the van. When the Team boarded the van, there was nothing unusual there.
When the Team had left, Allison put the car seat on the floor and prodded it with her foot to wake up the baby.
"Hazel Amber Peck," she started, "we are Protectors of the Plot Continuum and we are here to charge you with crimes against fanfiction in general and A-Team fiction in particular. We charge you with bad punctuation and some bad spelling and missuse of words. We charge you with having warm honey and spun gold for hair. We charge you with being a precocious child, capable of understanding, speaking and motor skills beyond your ten-month age.
"We charge you with introducing plots to the story, such as the A-Team trying to uncover a drug-smuggling, people-trafficking ring, or a mission Stockwell wants them to work on, and not following these through because they get in the way of Face and Amy moments.
"We charge you with making the members of the A-Team and associate characters behave out of character and stupidly. We charge you with making Amy say pursuing a career was a waste of time and with making her lose all initiative as soon as Face is near her. We charge you with making Face bloodthirsty and with making him fall apart if he doesn't know where Amy is. We charge you with making Hannibal suggesting Amy can be bait. He'd never put Amy in a dangerous situation like that, particularly when they didn't really need her undercover anyway; they blew her cover two hours in, and perhaps even before that time because they hung out with her in that village, totally disregarding the possibility of village gossip.
"We charge you with making Stockwell be so stupid as to resort to kidnapping, and with apparently leaving enough evidence scattered around the place that the US army could arrest him on something. We charge you with giving the US army jurisdiction in Vietnam and with having them arrest a civilian.
"We charge you with giving no consideration to the quality of the roads, the possibility of car sickness, and with signposting that Amy is pregnant again. There is something to be said for subtely. We charge you with suggesting Mrs. Baracus of Chicago, Illinois, is the go-to person with questions on baby care, even for people based in California. And we charge you with introducing film canon into series canon as if the two are the same." Allison folded the notepad and stuck it in her pocket. "You have been charged. What do you have to say for yourself?"
"You are taking this fanfic thing way too seriously," the baby said.
"And you are not taking it seriously enough. Look, it's fine if you want to have a Face/Amy romance, but could you at least make it about Face and Amy? Keep the two of them in character so that other people can also recognise it as a Face/Amy romance, and not two other people with the same name and similar backstory."
The baby rolled her eyes. "Whatever. You don't like it, you don't like it. I can take the lumps." She curled up her nose. "I think I just made a lump."
Allison glared at her. "I'm not changing you. Unless that means exchanging you for something nice, like a vase or a trunk."
Tasmin loaded a bullet in the chamber and aimed her gun at the baby. Her finger was on the trigger, but she could not squeeze it. She lowered the gun again. "Maybe we can take her to the Nursery?"
"The kid is a Sue. Nursery's only for the not-Sues. Here, I'll do it." Allison grabbed the baby and snapped her neck. "We really have to find a solution to your inability to kill anyone below the age of ten." Allison picked up the car seat with the now limp body of the baby in it. "Open up a portal. Sure, we're a duo and I can take some of the kills myself, but don't think I didn't notice you pointing that gun at me for a moment." Tasmin had the decency to look apologetic. "One of these days, we're going to meet a young Sue and your hesitation will get you under her Suefluence and turn you against me. And as long as you are packing the big guns, I'd rather have you on my side."
Tasmin mustered up a half-smile. "Guess you are right." She stepped through the portal first and Allison followed.