January 20 --- The Meeting

Holiday: Penguin Appreciation Day

"So remind me whose idea this was."

BA threw him a withering look before continuing to scan the area around them. So far no sign of their prospective client, only families strolling between the cages.

Face looked pointedly at his watch. "He's late."

"What?" BA shook his head at the noise behind them.

"He's late!" Face grimaced and followed BA's look. "Hannibal and I are definitely going to have a long talk."

"Yeah, well, him and me ain't gonna talk." BA took one more glaring look around and lumbered off.

Face watched him enviously. At least he got to move around, keeping an eye peeled for signs of trouble; Face was stuck here, watching Hannibal's back. Right in front of these damn birds. As if on cue, a rash of shrill calls from the penguin enclosure grated in his ears. He looked around once more. Well, maybe BA didn't have it so easy, either. Way too many people; that was fine if they had to slip into the crowd to get away, but one of these days Decker was going to wake up and put his men in civilian clothes - and then what? Face liked the more deserted meeting spots - easier to keep track of any unknown and unwanted visitors.

He looked over at Hannibal, having a grand old time selling those balloons. That was another thing. Why balloons? Damn things bobbing around his head - how was he supposed to keep track of his surroundings? He wasn't. That was up to Face. He sighed heavily. They never should've agreed to meet this guy, not now. Hannibal had been putting in too many hours on the set; he wasn't ready for this. There was such a thing as too much jazz, after all.

There was another rendition from the choir behind him, and Face turned to glare at them. It was his second mistake - the first agreeing to this place to begin with. But as he turned back around, he saw BA rushing through the crowd. As soon as their eyes met, BA took off in another direction, several MPs only yards behind him. Face let out a shrill whistle; immediately Hannibal dropped the brick the balloon strings were wrapped around. The huge balloons effectively blocked the view as he disappeared into the rapidly confused crowd.

Now Face just had to take a quick turn along the fence surrounding the penguins and...


MPs were coming at him from all directions, the crowd pushed none-too gently to the side. He was trapped. Shit! How long had they been watching? Why hadn't he seen them? Didn't matter. He only had one choice now.

He took a couple quick steps toward the MPs before reversing and racing toward the penguin's fence. Up and over - and down into their pool. He came up spluttering - right into the face of a curious and very close penguin. He swam like hell toward the nearest shore, trying to dodge the not-very-happy swimmers and their very sharp beaks. He crawled out of the pool, glancing back at the MPs. At least they weren't able to shoot at him for fear of hitting the damn birds. He ran through the curved nesting ground, irritating even more occupants before spotting the small pedestrian bridge crossing above the enclosure. He took a running leap for a support beam, and moments later surprised a group of tourists as he clambered, soaked and smelly, over the rail and took off down the path.

Hannibal and BA, barely able to contain their mirth when he showed up at the van, quickly changed their tune as they drove down the freeway, the wonderful aroma of saltwater and anchovies filling the air.