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Pros and Cons

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“What the hell were you thinking?” Face demanded of the man in black. “I thought I taught you better.”

The young man brightened abruptly and grinned. “Well, I wasn’t going to blow the place up like you would,” he noted. “I was gonna go check the place out.”

“Wearing clothes that make you look like a thief?” Face ran a hand through his graying hair and sighed resignedly. “JT, when I told you to make me proud –”

“I know, I know, Dad, don’t be you, but you know I can’t let a guy like Gregory Mason just get away with ripping people off, especially when he’s recruiting vets.” JT waved a hand at the flyer on the coffee table. “He promises paid training, no computer experience necessary, and a guaranteed position at graduation. But it’s a lie. I was just gonna go see if there were any records so I could –”

Face sighed again and sat down. “And do what? Guy like Gregory Mason’s got money and power – and you’re the son of a guy who spent almost thirty years being a wanted fugitive, and you’re a vet with PTSD. Do you really want to put yourself out there like that? More than you already have?”

JT shook his head, and Face was reminded again that his son had his stubbornness. “You think he’d bring that up?”

“Hell yes, if it discredited you. If I was him, I’d do everything I could to make me look good and you look bad.”

JT sighed. “But Dad, he took ten thousand dollars of my money.”

“Ten thousand – ” Face winced. “Is that where your savings went?”

“Yeah.” JT looked embarrassed. “I didn’t want to tell you because you’d give me that look – oh geez, Dad, that one, like you expect me to know better.”

“Hell yes I expect you to know better. Who the hell taught you how to spot a con?”

“It sounded legit, Dad. Mason’s company is registered with the BBB, and –”

“That should’ve been your first clue. JT, why didn’t you come talk to me when you signed up for this?”

“Because you keep wanting to smother me like I’m eleven and it’s two days after the judge said you were free,” JT muttered. “I’m not eleven any more, Dad.”

“I know. Believe me, I know.” Face studied his son. “All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be able to live with your head up high and not worry about the kind of shit you had to worry about until that day in court.” He hugged his son tight before stepping back. “You weren’t planning on stealing your money back, were you?”

“Maybe,” JT hedged, and Face glared at him.

“But I gotta do something, Dad. Know anybody who can make this happen? I know you don’t want to risk your parole, but if Hannibal hears about this –”

Face glared at his son. “You are not telling Hannibal, or the others. We don’t need a repeat of your sixteenth birthday.”

“But Dad, how else was I supposed to spring Murdock for the party?”

Face rolled his eyes, well aware that his son was, in many ways, his younger self. Raising him on the run hadn’t helped, either, but Face hadn’t wanted his child to wonder if his father loved him. “You also got yourself and BA arrested, remember? By MPs?”

“Come on, don’t be so reluctant,” JT wheedled. “Look, I was just going to scout it out so we’d have something to bring with us.”

Face eyed his son warily. “To where and to whom?”

JT grabbed his phone and showed Face the website he’d found for Leverage Consulting and Associates, Inc.

Face groaned. “Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean whoever’s behind this isn’t some scammer, hoping to lure people in.”

Annoyed, JT said, “You didn’t raise me to be that stupid.”

“No, but it wouldn’t be the first time you went into something hoping for the best.”

“Then come with me on Tuesday to meet them. They’re just down in Portland. I know it’s a drive from Seattle, but it’s not that far.”

Face studied his son as if seeing him for the first time. JT had inherited his mother’s wavy black hair, creamy complexion, and golden brown eyes, but his facial structure, build, and height were all from Face. At twenty-two, JT was the same age as Face had been when Face’s life had been turned upside down. For the last eleven years, Face had been living the dream: no more looking over his shoulder for the police, no more worrying that the next job the team took would be their last. He’d been able to live in one place, in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, work as a salesman for a car broker, and with his son able to go to a real school, not home schooling in the back of a GMC van. Now JT wanted to invite possible danger – again – into their lives. The terms of the parole the A-Team had specifically stated that they were not to get involved with rescuing the citizenry or other vigilante operations. Yet Face knew that his son was right, and the old fire to see justice prevail surged through Face.

“Didn’t you promise me that if you went into the Army, you’d keep your nose clean?”

JT grinned. “I’m not in the Army any more, Dad. My lungs can’t handle that much sand, remember?”

“And here I thought it was that you were too pretty for all that combat,” Face teased as his son’s grin widened unrepentantly. “Go, get some sleep. And don’t try to sneak out again, buddy. I know that trick. You have an appointment with the state unemployment office in the morning – and they don’t like it if you don’t show up. You’ve always hated mornings; it’s only gotten worse since you got out.”

JT sighed. “World’s a sad place when a guy like me can’t get a job,” he griped. “They told me that if I went in the military, I’d have excellent job skills.”

Face snorted. “I told you the recruiters lied. You chose, remember, to disbelieve me.”

JT rolled his eyes at the familiar reminder. “Love you, too, Dad.”

Face grinned, but his smile vanished as soon as JT’s back was turned. He had a few phone calls to make; he wasn’t about to go into a meeting blind.