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Through Rose Tinted Glasses
Rated: PG for a bit of violence and bad language.
Summary: 16 years after the guys receive their pardons their children find out that they were the A-Team but not without consequences.
Disclaimer: Murdock, BA, Face, Hannibal, Kelly, Maggie, Stockwell and Carla do not belong to me. Everyone else is my own creation.
Acknowledgements: Susie Owens for her help and suggestions and Georgia Bentz (Flight'O'Fancy)for everything she's done, for putting up with me bugging her night and day over whether it sounded ok and for encouraging me to write more.
I was just sixteen when I learned that the world was not as I had always seen it. That I had been viewing it through rose-tinted glasses and the people in it were not who I had thought they were.
You might say that this is something that happens in every sixteen-year olds life. That at some point they outgrow those childish beliefs and see the world for what it really is. This is true, at sometime in our lives we all see the world through new eyes whether for the better or for the worse.
But for me my whole world was blown apart, the people I had always known and trusted suddenly became strangers to me. When I looked at them I saw through their lies and saw how easily I had been deceived and it angered me. They lied to us about who they were, what they had done and about who we really were.
I am eighteen now and I have seen into myself, seen how their lies shaped me and made me into that sixteen year-old and I have realised that discovering the truth has made me into the eighteen year-old that I am today.
I am my father's son and that is both wonderful and terrifying to me. You could say that his lie was not so terrible, that he and the others told that intricate fabric of lies to protect us. I do not agree, I did not then and I do not now. They lied to protect themselves, they were once thought to be criminals and when they were pardoned they thought they could just continue their lives as if those years of running and hiding had never existed.
They were wrong.
Michael Jonathon Murdock took a bite out of his sandwich and listened intently to John Smith Junior as he talked about his father's latest escapade. Johnny, like his father, was something of a leader. He was tall and broad shouldered and out of all of them he was the one who took charge when things got rowdy which was often.
John Smith Senior may have been in his latter years but that didn't stop him from living his life exactly the way he wanted to. Michael's father often said that he would probably live longer than any of them he was so hyped up on 'Jazz'. This expression that was often used within his father's circle of friends intrigued Michael, he had never understood it.
Michael's father was Captain HM Murdock and not even Michael knew what the HM really stood for. His father was an expert pilot and could fly anything with wings, or so he boasted. Michael had inherited his father's love of flying along with his height and soft brown eyes.
Captain Murdock had been in the Vietnam War with Colonel John Smith, Sergeant Bosco Baracus and Lieutenant Templeton Peck and they were close friends, in fact they were more like family. And so their children had become friends, they had all grown up together and their friendship had remained solid all through elementary and middle schools.
Now they were in high school and were still friends often spending lunches together as well as every spare hour outside school.
Michael took a minute to look round at his group of friends. Sitting to his right was Daniel Peck and his twin sister Maria. Both had blond hair and green eyes, they got on well together although Maria was sometimes annoyed by the way Daniel treated his girlfriends. Daniel was the same as his father had been until he'd met the twin's mother. He went through women at an alarming rate and Michael struggled to keep up with who his best friend was dating next.
Over in the corner was Brandon Baracus, he was a well muscled, young black man. Although he looked tough he was one of the nicest people that Michael knew. Not that Brandon couldn't look after himself if he wanted to. He was incredibly intelligent which was something that people who met him didn't always realise at first glance. He and his father could often be found under the hood of BA Baracus' van working on some mechanical problem. Brandon had inherited his father's mechanical genius but preferred working with wood than with anything else. At this moment he was whittling away at a piece of wood, his long, deft fingers working it into a shape of its own. Michael had no doubt that whatever it turned out to be, it would be a work of art.
To Michael's left were his brother Nicky and his sister Emily. Nicky was something of a wild child and was frequently arguing with his father over something or other. In contrast to Michael, Nicky hated flying with a passion. Nicky was quick tempered and always seemed ready for a fight.
Michael's attention was drawn to Emily, she was the apple of everyone's eye, had her mother's eyes, her father's smile and loved animals. She was the peacekeeper of the group and often tried to mend the rift between her brother and father. She was the youngest of all of them.
Michael was the oldest of the group, the first-born but it was usually Johnny who took the lead which never bothered anyone, somehow it seemed right.
'Hey Mikey, you with us?'
Michael blinked as he realised that Daniel was talking to him, in fact all of his friends were staring at him.
'Sorry guys, I kinda switched off there, what are we talking about?'
Johnny smirked. 'If it isn't about flying you're not interested are you?'
Michael just smiled not bothering to defend himself against the good natured teasing. 'Sorry, where were you?'
'Just about to explain about this year's vacation, thought you might be interested.'
Michael sat up straighter, each year the kids and their parents went away for a couple of weeks together. It was always a lot of fun and he looked forward to it.
'Sure, might be.'
This brought laughter from everyone. 'Come on Johnny, of course he's interested. Dad promised that he could pilot the plane this year. That's all he's been talking about for the past month.' Nicky smirked at his brother.
'That's if my dad'll go.' Brandon spoke up.
'Your dad always goes Brandon he just pretends he doesn't want to go.' Maria said turning to him.
'He hates to fly.' Brandon shrugged.
'I die before I fly.' Nicky said in an eerie impression of BA Baracus.
'We go through this every year Brandon, he says he doesn't want to go. Your mom coaxes him into going and he pulls out at the last minute so Dad either has to hit him with a piece of 2 by 4 or give him a sleeping pill.'
'Yeah and your dad gets that look in his eyes when he gets to use the 2 by 4 Danny. Do you remember that year he forgot the pills and couldn't find any 2 by 4?' Johnny asked.
'Yeah, Murdock was going crazy because he thought we'd have to drive down so he gave him an injection from Kelly's bag. It turned out to be an animal tranquillizer, BA was singing all the way.'
'Trust your dad to give him an animal tranquillizer Mike.'
Michael smiled and nodded. It was never a quiet time when they went on vacation. Something always happened.
Michael walked into the family kitchen to find Face sitting at the table. This was nothing unusual, one or other of his dad's buddies was usually here. His mother was busy cooking dinner and looked up.
'Hey honey, good day at school?'
Michael nodded. 'Great Mom, what's for dinner.'
Kelly smiled. 'Meatloaf.'
'Yummy.' A voice said from the doorway and Michael turned to see his father leaning against the doorframe with a grin on his face.
Kelly laughed lightly. 'You'll have to wait like the rest of them.' She said smiling adoringly at her husband.
Murdock pretended to be upset and pouted. 'Aww come on, I've been at work all day and I'm starving.'
'If you think hauling over that heap of junk you call an aeroplane is work then I don't know what it was that I was doing all day.' Kelly teased.
'Kelly, it is not a heap of junk or at least it won't be when I've finished with it.'
'Yeah.' Face put in. 'That is a good aeroplane, the guy I brought it from said it was one of the best, ok so it's got a little bit of rust and the propellers don't work properly but it's still a good plane.'
Kelly just laughed. Face was well known for his ability to get almost anything you wanted even it wasn't always in mint condition. He and Murdock had brought the plane so that Murdock could do it up which meant that Murdock spent more time down at the airfield than at home. 'Face you did not buy it, you scammed it.'
'Kelly I'm hurt that you could think such a thing.' Face protested and Kelly shook her head wordlessly, Face never ceased to amaze her.
'You ready to fly kid?' Murdock asked his son.
Michael grinned. 'I'm always ready to fly Dad.'
His father grinned back and Face smiled in amusement. The resemblance between father and son was easy to see in that moment.
'Have you done your homework?' Kelly asked.
Michael put down his bag. 'I'll do it when I come back Mom.'
'And what about your chores? Are you going to pay Emily to do them for you again?'
'You paid Emily to do your chores?' Murdock asked and Michael nodded sheepishly.
Murdock shook his head. 'You're supposed to bribe her not pay her.'
'Murdock!' Kelly exclaimed. 'Don't encourage him.'
Face laughed and got up. 'I'd better go home, Dana's cooking dinner as we speak. Nice to see you Kelly.' He kissed Kelly's cheek.
'Good to see you too Face. Take care.' She kissed him back and turned again to her meatloaf.
'See ya Faceman.' Murdock said with a grin. 'I'll see ya down the airfield bright and early tomorrow.'
'I didn't tell you? Dana and I are going to see her mother for the day, I can't get out of it.'
Murdock shook his head. 'No, Face you didn't tell me. Doesn't matter, catch ya later muchacho.'
Face nodded and with a wave to Michael, he left for his own house. Almost as soon as he'd gone the telephone rang.
Murdock picked it up. 'Hello, oh hey Brandon. Listen, can you tell your dad I'm ready for that engine when he is. Sure, he's here. Mike, Brandon for ya.'
He passed the phone over to his son and then scooped an apple out of the fruit bowl. A hand reached out and took it from him promptly. 'No.' Kelly said. 'We'll be eating in an hour, I don't want you filling up before then.'
'It's just an apple Kell, perfectly healthy.' Her husband protested.
'And what about after that, what comes next? Twinkies? Oreo's? I know you Captain, you've got a garbage disposal for a stomach.'
Murdock grinned and wrapped his arms around his wife's waist. 'That's why you love me baby.' Kelly laughed and kissed him.
'Wait a minute Brandon, you want me to what?' Michael asked into the phone.
'Look man it's important, I was researching in the library for that paper we have to do on the Vietnam War and I found something you should take a look at.'
'Brandon, I have homework to do, Mom's not gonna let me out of the house this close to dinner and Dad already wants to take me out in the plane. I can't be in all those places at once.'
'Please Mike, I've called the others too, they're on their way over. It's real important, man.'
The sense of urgency in his friend's voice convinced Michael that this was serious.
'Ok Brandon, I'll be there as soon as I can.'
He put the phone down with a sigh and Murdock looked over. 'Everything ok Mike?'
'Yeah, Brandon wants me to go over to the library, says he's got something to show me.'
Kelly frowned. 'Right now, this close to dinner?'
'He says it's important Mom.' Michael shrugged. 'He sounded, I dunno, insistent.'
'I have to admit honey, if Brandon thinks it's important then it probably is. He's usually so laidback, unlike his father.' Murdock said wryly. 'Guess this means we won't be flying today.' He sighed and Michael turned to his mother for her approval.
'Ok but don't be too long and try to be back before dinner.' Kelly told him not looking particularly happy about it.
'I will, thanks Mom.' Michael kissed his mother's cheek and grabbed his baseball cap from the table before running out the door.
It didn't take long for Michael to reach the library, he went inside and found Brandon on one of the computers surfing the Internet. Next to him on the desk was a stack of photocopied pages. On seats round the table near him were Nicky, Emily, Maria, Danny and Johnny.
Brandon turned to greet him as he approached. 'Hey man.' He said and held his hand out for Michael to shake. Michael did so then grabbed a chair and sat round the table. Brandon left the computer and sat with them.
'Hey, so what was so important that you dragged me all the way over here when I was just about to convince Mom to let me go fly with Dad?'
Brandon didn't smile, he looked deadly serious. 'Like I said I found something you should take a look at.' He handed Michael one of the photocopies, frowning he accepted it noticing that the faces of his friends were likewise serious. Even Danny's usually smiling features were sombre.
Michael looked down and felt an electric current of shock run through him. Staring him right in the face was a picture of his father, Brandon's father, Maria and Danny's father and Johnny's father.
'The A-Team escapes prison?' Michael read taken aback. He wasn't sure what to make of it. 'Last night three men escaped on the way to Fort Bragg where they were to serve a life sentence for theft and murder.' Michael felt sick to his very stomach. 'The three men, Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith, Lieutenant Templeton 'Faceman' Peck and Bosco 'BA' Baracus, are believed to be armed and dangerous. Captain HM 'Howling Mad' Murdock, the fourth member of the unit, is currently residing in the psychiatric ward of the Veteran's Administration in Westwood. His is alleged to have been working with them when the crimes were committed but could not be reached for comment.'
Michael stopped reading unable to go on, there was more but he couldn't bring himself to read it. 'What kind of sick joke is this?' He demanded angrily.
'It's all true.' Danny said quietly. 'Brandon found more articles.'
Johnny picked up the thread. 'Apparently when our dad's were in 'Nam they murdered one Colonel Morrison and robbed the Bank of Hanoi. Well, except for your dad, they don't think he actually participated in the robbery and murder, he was just their pilot. He went crazy over there and they committed him to the VA.'
Michael was shaking. 'No, no way. It can't be true.' He swallowed hard and shook his head.
'Mike.' Emily said gently. 'It is.'
'What are you saying?' He asked desperately, pleadingly. 'That our father is crazy, Em? Because that's what it sounds like?'
'No.' Brandon interrupted. 'Not anymore, they found him sane in '86. The others got their pardons soon after.'
'They were on the run for well over ten years.' Danny told him. 'Several people tried to capture them but failed. Each time they avoided the military and the papers are full of stories of people who've been helped by a group of unidentifieds. A couple of times they were caught but each time they escaped.'
Michael took off his baseball cap and twisted it around in his hands. 'This isn't possible.'
Nicky stood up and threw a newspaper photocopy at Michael it landed on the table in front of him, he kept tossing the pages at his brother. 'Take a look Mike, you'll see it's all there in black and white. He's a nut, a crazy goddamned nut!'
Michael sprang out of his chair so hard it tipped over backward, he grabbed Nicky and slammed him back into the wall. 'No! Don't you ever talk about our dad like that again. If you do I swear I'll…' He broke off and released his brother. He picked up his cap and replaced it on his head.
'Mike.' Maria said. 'Fighting isn't going to help any. Johnny what are we going to do?'
Michael turned on them before Johnny could answer. 'I'll tell you what we're gonna do, we're gonna ask them, confront them about this whole crazy shit!' He turned and began to walk out of the library, shoving out of his way the startled assistant who had come to see what all the noise was about.
'Mike!' Danny called after him. 'Damn.' He whispered under his breath and got up to follow his best friend. Michael hardly ever swore and to hear him do it now was proof of just how angry his friend was.
He caught up with him in the foyer and grabbed hold of his arm. 'Mike, think about this before you go charging in there accusing them of anything and everything.'
Mike rounded on him, his eyes blazing. Danny couldn't remember seeing his friend so angry, what was worse was that it was a cold kind of angry that cut right through you. 'They lied to us Danny. They acted like model citizens, like they're better than we are when all this time…' He broke off unable to finish the sentence.
'Look man, I understand and I'd expect this kind of behaviour from Nicky but not from you.'
Michael laughed bitterly. 'Yeah well my dad's crazy which means I probably am too, that's the sort of thing that changes a guy, don't ya think? You know I could accept inheriting his flying genes and I could accept the fact that one day I was probably going to lose my hair. But you know what? I can't accept this, I can't accept the fact that one day I'm going to lose my mind as well. I jut can't. They had no right to keep this from us, to just let us find out like this as if we don't matter and I am not going to sit by and let them get away with treating us like this.'
He walked away but Danny still followed him. 'You know what I think this is about?' He asked barely able to keep his own anger under control, his usual suaveness and charm gone. 'I think that you've put your dad up on a pedestal, in your eyes he's perfect, can't do anything wrong. And now you read this and realise that he's not as perfect as you thought and it hurts so you're going to go home and take it out on him when all he was probably trying to do was protect you, trying protect all of us.'
Michael ignored him and carried on walking. Normally Danny was the one person who could get through to him but not today, not now, not after this. When he'd seen that photograph and read the article something inside him had changed.
Michael slammed into the kitchen and walked into the living room. His dad was seated on the couch with a beer in one hand. He looked up as his son entered the room.
'Hey kid, what did Brandon want?'
Michael stopped in front of him, his face dark, his eyes blazing. He felt so angry right now like he could explode. Murdock frowned.
'Everything ok Mikey?'
Michael laughed and tossed the photocopied newspaper article he'd taken from the library into his father's lap. Murdock glanced down at it and his face paled.
'Something you want to tell me Dad?' He asked icily.
Kelly came in from the kitchen wiping her hands on a tea towel. 'Did you see Nicky and Emily on the way Mike?' She caught sight of the expressions on her husband's and her son's faces and paused. 'Is everything alright?' The question was directed more at her husband than at Mike.
'Kelly, can you call the guys, ask them to come round right away it's urgent.'
Kelly was surprised by the request, he rarely asked her to do things he could quite easily do himself. To her it seemed as if he was pushing her away, trying to get her out of the argument that seemed about to unfold. Michael and his father hardly ever argued and if they did it was never serious. Nicky was the one who picked fights with Murdock and she'd always been thankful that Michael had always been fairly even‑tempered.
Nevertheless, even though it surprised her she found herself going to the phone and dialling Hannibal's number. A sense of foreboding settled down upon her, things were not right, not right at all.
'Mike sit down, I'm not going to explain any of this until Hannibal gets here so you might as well get comfortable.'
Mike reluctantly sat down, from the back of the house came the sound of the kitchen door opening and then Nicky, Emily, Maria, Danny, Johnny and Brandon entered the room uneasily.
'They know as well?' Murdock asked.
'They know.' Michael said refusing to look at his father.
'Sit down kids.' Murdock said running a hand through his thinning hair. 'Your dad's are gonna be here in a minute and I promise then we'll explain everything.'
Everyone sat and there was an uneasy silence in the room. Michael still felt keyed up and angry. He shot a sidelong glance at his father and was troubled to find that he no longer saw the person he'd always looked up to all his life. He didn't see his father sitting there, all he saw was a liar and he felt frightened in the presence of his father for the first time in all his sixteen years, frightened of a man who had suddenly become a stranger to him.
The silence was finally broken by Murdock who could bear it no longer. 'I know you're angry Michael and I guess in a way you have a right to be. You all do.' He looked at the others who shifted awkwardly in their seats.
'You guess? You guess I have a right to be angry?' Michael laughed resentfully and shook his head. 'What's next Dad? Huh? What revelation will you spring on us next? Who knows maybe I'm not really your son, I guess that would be better for everyone.'
'Mike, don't.' Emily said unable to stand seeing her brother so angry and her father so clearly hurt.
'Michael why don't you leave judging me until you've heard the full story.' There was a note of warning in Murdock's voice and a suggestion that he was close to having heard enough. 'I'm not your enemy in this.'
'You must have known this was going to happen, you must have realised that you couldn't hide it forever.'
The door opened and Hannibal walked in. He took in the scene that was rapidly unfolding, saw the hostility between father and son and realised that something important was happening.
'Murdock?' He asked not saying anything else.
'Hey Hannibal take a seat, the others should be here soon.' He passed the article to his colonel. 'They found this in the library.'
'I see.' Hannibal said carefully, he looked at Michael surprised at how angry the kid seemed to be. He, like Murdock, like all of them, had expected Nicky to be the one who would be angered by the situation. This was unexpected.
'Do you?' Michael asked tensely. 'Did you do it? Was it you suggested that you hide it from us? Come on who was it?'
'That's enough.' Murdock said stepping in. 'You'll get the story but until you do stop accusing people out of anger at me.'
Before Michael could answer Face and BA walked in the door. BA's brow furrowed as he felt the tension in the room. He looked over at his son who nodded to him.
'What's going on?' Face asked sitting down next to Murdock and Hannibal handed him the newspaper. 'Oh.' Face said quietly as he saw the article. 'I always hated that picture.'
'Face, not now.' Hannibal said and the lieutenant was surprised by the sharpness in Hannibal's voice. He looked at his children and tried to judge their reactions but both expressions were equally unreadable.
BA looking at Brandon found him to be as calm and laid-back as always. The article seemed to have had little effect on him on the outside but BA was aware of how good his son was at hiding his feelings.
'We found the article in the library. What's the truth?' Johnny asked outright and Michael got his feet.
'Sorry Johnny, not this time. I know I usually let you take charge but this time it's got to be me.'
Johnny nodded calmly and sat down. 'Did you do it?' Michael asked looking at all of them. 'Is what they're saying here the truth? Did you murder that man, rob that bank and was Dad…' He broke off unable to say the words.
Murdock picked up the baseball cap lying on the arm of the couch and twisted it in his hands. He could see Hannibal was about to field the question and like Michael he felt that he should be the one to answer it. He looked over at Hannibal questioningly and Hannibal nodded giving him the go-ahead.
'Yes.' Murdock said simply. 'What it says there about me, that much is true.'
Michael sat down abruptly and Emily gave a choked sob. Murdock looked over at her but Danny had put an arm around her and she seemed ok.
'No.' Michael whispered, a sentiment that was shared by all the offspring present. They were a very close knit group, all of them. Each knew that if they had a problem they could go to any of the others, any of their parents for help. They all thought Murdock a lot of fun, a good friend. Maybe a little wacky sometimes but crazy, insane, not that.
'He's telling the truth, kid.' Hannibal said and Michael nodded.
'We didn't rob no bank or kill no colonel though.' BA put in. 'They got that wrong.'
'What did happen?' Maria asked softly but Michael rose to his feet almost blindly.
'No.' He choked out. 'I don't want to hear it.' He ran a hand through his hair and shook his head.
'Mike.' His father said reaching out to put a hand on his shoulder and steady him.
'How the hell can you be so calm?' Michael yelled to his friends. 'They lied to us, not just a small insignificant lie either but about a whole part in their lives.' He looked back to his father. 'God, how long were you in there for? Ten years, more than that? You just leave something like that out.'
'Well you know what, it isn't exactly something you bring up in conversation.' His father laughed, his Texan accent thickening.
'No because God forbid that you ever let us see you as anything other than perfect.' He rubbed at his forehead. 'Oh Jeez, it's one thing to find out that you guys were wanted for murder but it is a whole other thing to find out that your dad is an insane wacko. Hell, I've always thought they should all be kept locked up far, far away from any people whatsoever. Why did they let you out?'
Next thing he was against the wall and BA was staring at him, nose to nose. 'You talk that way about him again and you'll be the one that's locked up, sucker!'
'BA put him down.' Murdock said wearily. 'It's ok.'
BA set the kid down and glared at him before taking his seat again.
'Listen I know you're angry and I understand but you've got to understand about us. We did what we had to do and we lied to protect you guys.' Murdock looked round at everyone in the room. 'All of you kids, we did this to protect you. Do you realise that there are still people out there who might decide that to get back at us all they need is our kids. We made some people very, very angry and it is better for all of you if you know nothing about what we did. The military and the press would still love to know about some of the things that we did and they could use you to get what they want to know. We all care about you so much, you're our lives now, our reason for going on each day and if anything happened to anyone of you…' He couldn't finish just sat down again but there were nods from the rest of the team.
'He's right.' Face said. 'That is why we did it.'
'Well it would be easy for you wouldn't it? You were the conman of the group weren't you? Lying must just be second nature to you now.'
'Don't take it out on him Mike? It was never like that. Do you realise that you are the reason for all of this?'
'What? That is the dumbest excuse I've ever heard Dad.'
'He's right.' BA added with a nod.
'You are not just my first born, Michael, you are the team's first born. You were the one that hit it home to me that I was a father and that I had a responsibility to protect you and your mother. I couldn't just go out with the team on missions the way I used to, being away from you and your mom was hell and I realised that I couldn't do it anymore. I needed to settle down with your mother and help her raise you. Risking my life was not the way to bring up a family.'
'We all realised that it wasn't possible anymore.' Hannibal said. 'We had wives and children on the way. The last thing we wanted to do was to leave them to bring up our children on their own.'
'We decided to finish it, to disband the team.' Face said.
'It was me who decided that we should forget that the A-Team ever existed.' Murdock said quietly. 'After that nut tried to kidnap Kelly and Mike.'
There were looks of interest from the other side of the room as the children looked at their parents, seeing them for the first time as men, as people rather than as just parents.
'Yeah, this guy tried to make off with your mother and you.' Murdock continued. 'The scariest day of my life and when you become a parent you will understand this Mike, you will understand how your children change you and make you realise that you are no longer the important ones. You have another life to protect at all costs and you will do anything to do that.'
'You kept your names though.' Danny said questioningly. 'You could have been safer if you'd changed your identities and we know Dad could have arranged that for you if he had to.'
'You're right Danny, we could have but we didn't want that. We still wanted to be the people we had always been. Changing our identities would have been too easy, it would have been running away, we wanted to show the world that were innocent and that we weren't afraid.'
Murdock was cradling his son. Only a few days old and he had nearly lost him to some thugs who had thought it fun to try and hurt him by hurting his family. Right now he never wanted to let his wife and child out of his sight again.
The baby gurgled happily in his arms, reaching up to pat his face and Murdock admired again how tiny his son's hands were and how perfect he seemed. This moment seemed to have been a long time coming, he'd once thought that he would never be a father and now the most precious thing in the world to him was his son.
The door opened and Hannibal walked in quietly, taking a seat next to Murdock and smiling at the baby in his arms. Michael was looking round with interest at absolutely everything, he had his father's dark, soulful eyes and Hannibal was sure that the younger Murdock would one day have his father's wide grin and gentle nature. He knew Murdock was also hoping that his son would inherit his love for flying.
'You ok, Captain?' Hannibal asked finally when Murdock didn't speak.
'Yeah.' He answered quietly. 'Just thinking how close I came to nearly losing them both.'
'It wasn't your fault.'
'I can't do it anymore, Hannibal.'
Hannibal didn't speak, hoping that his friend would explain that remark. Also hoping that he didn't mean that he couldn't deal with fatherhood, Murdock made a great father, he took to it like a duck to water.
'I can't be with the team and be with my family. I have to choose, one or the other.'
'Is this your choice or Kelly's?' Hannibal asked, not really wanting to ask the question but knowing he had to. He had to make sure that this was what the captain wanted to do.
'I haven't even discussed it with her but I realised that night that I can't be away from them anymore. I mean, who's going to protect them whilst I'm gone? And I can't stand being away from them, I want to be with them both, I want to be with my family.'
'This is your choice Captain and I won't stand in your way but think it over.'
'I have Hannibal, I've been thinking about it a lot and the more I do, the more I realise that this is what I need to do.'
Hannibal nodded. 'We're not getting any younger are we?'
'No, we're not and I want to settle down before it's too late. They need me here and I want to be here.'
'Then good luck.'
'Thanks Hannibal, I was worried, thought you might be mad that I was deserting you.'
'No, Murdock, not at all. I agree with you and I'm glad you've been honest with me. To be honest with you, I've been thinking much the same thing, I don't really like being away from Maggie either. Especially not now.'
'What about the others?'
'Yes, I think they all feel the same way. We have families now, children on the way, it's not going to be like it was when we were young and single. Then it didn't matter what happened to us and we had no-one else but ourselves to be responsible for. Now it's a whole other matter Now we have our pardons.'
Murdock paused and then voiced the thought that had been in his head. 'Are you talking about disbanding the team?' There was queasy feeling in his stomach.
'Yes, I suppose I am.'
Murdock looked at Michael and kissed the baby's soft forehead. 'I'm not going to tell him, Hannibal, when he's grown up, I'm not going to tell him about us. I understood that night that there might be people that want to get at me and to do that they might try to hurt my children. I don't want that to happen, I think it's safer if he doesn't know. And I don't want him to know that his father was once a crazy nut.'
'Captain, as Face always says, it's a good kind of crazy.'
'Doesn't matter, I still don't want him to know.'
Hannibal nodded and the two men sat there for a long time together, not saying a word, perhaps understanding somehow that this would be the last time that they had such a close and honest conversation. That it would be the last time together as Colonel and Captain before they hung up their hats and became ordinary men and not Soldiers of Fortune.
Michael closed his eyes against the tears stinging them suddenly. His anger had depleted somewhat but he still felt hurt and betrayed. Even though he knew that his father had the right reasons for doing what he did it still didn't change the fact that he was no longer the person he'd thought he was. He got to his feet finally and found himself walking towards the door. He couldn't bear to hear anymore of it, if he walked away then it wasn't happening, his father had never been crazy and none of it had been real.
The doorknob was cool under his palm and he turned it aware of each movement as if he was moving underwater. Outside it was still warm and he kept walking, not knowing where he was going or where he wanted to go. He just went trying to keep the thoughts and feelings bombarding him from taking control.
It didn't take him long to reach the airfield and to find his father's plane. He went and sat in it not wanting to fly it, just wanting to sit in it. He didn't even realise that he was crying until a tear dropped onto his hand and once he'd started he realised that he couldn't stop.
After what seemed like an age later, in fact it was only ten minutes, a hand touched his shoulder and his father eased himself into the co-pilot's chair. Michael turned his face away so that his dad wouldn't see the tears streaming down his cheeks even though he knew that he'd already seen.
Father and son sat there for a long time, neither speaking nor moving at all. Just sitting.
Finally Michael spoke breaking the uneasy silence that surrounded them. 'God look at me, bawling like a little kid.' He wiped his face with his hands, wiping away the tears from his cheeks and staring out at the airfield seeing the familiar sights, hearing the familiar sounds of planes taking off and smelling all the familiar smells.
He had been stupid to come here to try and get away from his father. The airfield and their aeroplane was as much his sanctuary as it was his father's. Murdock wouldn't have looked anywhere else. He would have known that this was where his son would come.
'No.' Murdock said quietly. 'You're not a kid, not anymore. You're almost a man and its time I realised that.'
This wasn't what Michael had been expecting, he'd been expecting more excuses even an argument. But not an apology, that was a little hard to deal with. He felt he could have coped if his father had ranted and raved over how it was none of Michael's business and how he had no right to know anything about it. This was almost too much to bear.
'You're right Michael, we should have told you. This affected you as much as it did me and I should have realised how you were going to react.'
Michael didn't answer but knew that his father was genuinely sorry and very serious, the fact that he was calling him by his full name rather than Mikey or Mike convinced him of that.
Murdock continued. 'I always thought that Nicky would be the one to be angry about the whole thing, that he'd be the one to hate me for it. I guess because we argue so much I just took it for granted that this would be another thing to yell at each other over.'
'I don't hate you Dad. I just don't understand why you had to lie to us. You say you wanted to protect us but you knew that this was going to happen. One way or another we'd have found out, wouldn't you have rather told us yourself.'
'It's not an easy thing to admit to and we're not those people anymore. We don't run around the country helping out people anymore and we're not on the run from the military.'
'Yes, you are still those people, you guys were legends and if it was me I wouldn't want to forget all the good things I'd done.'
'It wasn't all good.' Murdock answered. 'And I wouldn't exactly call us legends.'
'You weren't on the run from the military anyway.' Michael said taking his first step to really getting to what bothered him about the whole thing.
'No.' Murdock sighed. 'I wasn't.' He looked out the window thoughtfully.
Now Michael knew was the time, the time to ask him the question that had been troubling him since he read that newspaper article. And he was glad that his father was staring out of the window so that he wouldn't have to look at him.
'Dad, am I…will I be crazy too? One day, could it happen?'
With Murdock's face turned away from him he couldn't see the look of pain that crossed his face, this was the thing he had tried to avoid for the last sixteen years and he'd thought that he'd succeeded but he'd been wrong. And he'd been wrong to hide this from his son, he hadn't realised how much Mike would be affected by this and he could hear the fear in his son's voice, he thought that Murdock had been the bad kind of crazy, the kind that kills children for fun, he didn't know or understand that it had been a different kind of crazy, a way of letting out his feelings rather than getting kicks. He had hidden the truth from his children for fear that one day they would look at him contempt in their eyes, that they would not longer want him for a father but now it didn't matter whether that happened or not. As a father he had a duty to discuss this with his son and to make him understand that there was nothing to be afraid of. Finally Murdock turned to look at him and Michael made himself look at him so that he'd know whether or not he was getting an honest answer.
'I don't know Mikey. Maybe one day it could happen to you. There's not a person alive who's completely sane, not a person who doesn't have the ability to go insane if the wrong thing happens. But if you're asking will it happen to you because it happened to me? No, I don't think it will, I don't believe craziness can be passed genetically like disease or hair and eye colour. I was sane when I left to fight in 'Nam when I came back I was crazy. It happened because I was under a lot of stress and I saw a lot of things no-one should ever have to see or experience and I just couldn't cope. I hope to God that you never have to do anything like the things I had to do out there and I hope that you never have to know just how ugly war can be. You're lucky, you've got friends and family around who love you and will help you any way they can. I had the guys but out there it wasn't so easy for them to help me, for the most part they didn't even realise that it was happening until it was too late.'
Michael frowned perplexed. 'How can you not see something like that is happening?'
Murdock smiled a strange wistful smile. 'Because Michael, war is hell and it's all there is. From the time you get up in the morning to the time you go to bed at night, it consumes your life completely and you get so involved in saving your own butt and making it through one day after another that you lose touch of other people. You stop taking them into account, sure you'll look after them, make sure they don't get killed but you don't have time to stand over them 24 hours a day and make sure they're ok. Sometimes the little things get missed and sometimes those little things turn out to be big things.'
Michael listened in surprise, this was the first time his father had ever been open about his experiences in the war, sure he'd mentioned it but he'd never said how he'd felt about it and the effect it had had on him.
'Don't listen to them when they tell you that war is glorious or exciting. There's no glory about killing other human beings and there is nothing exciting about trying to keep yourself alive day after day, night after night, sometimes not sleeping for days on end. And believe you me there is no glory or excitement about having to kill your own men because they're so badly injured you know they're not going to make it anyway and the best thing for them is to just end it as quickly and effectively as you can.' He seemed to pull himself out of those memories then and realise who he was talking to. 'It's not something that you just sit down and have a casual conversation about Mike.'
'Did you kill that man?'
'No, the whole thing was a set-up.'
'Will you tell me about it, the things you guys did, what happened over there?' Michael asked knowing full well that he couldn't hear it now, that he wasn't ready to hear it and that his father wasn't ready to tell him.
'Someday Mikey, someday I'll tell you the whole story but not now.'
'Can you just tell me one thing? Did you ever do anything bad when you were crazy? Did you ever hurt anyone or anything like that?' Michael's tone held something in it that Murdock didn't like, it was fear mixed with disdain.
'It wasn't that kind of crazy, Mike.' He said simply.
Michael looked confused and slightly angry. His brown eyes flared. 'What do you mean 'that kind of crazy'? How many kinds of crazy are there?'
Murdock looked at the younger version of himself and Kelly. 'Lots of kinds. There's the kind you're thinking of, the serial killer crazy and then there's another kind of crazy, the kind that I was. That kind of crazy is more about your imagination than anything else, it's all about seeing thing's that ain't there, talking to inanimate objects, having an imaginary dog, thinking you are a dog, in a way it's very much like what young children go through. You stop believing all the things you've learned as adults and anything can become possible. Sometimes I'd think I could get in one of these and fly all the way to the stars and beyond, it's about believing.'
Michael was quiet. 'But they locked you up for it?'
'Well, yeah, it's true in the beginning days I was prone to some violence but I never seriously hurt someone.'
'Now's different, it's still there, it'll always be there whatever I do. But I can control it now better even than I could before. I can switch it on or off as I like. It's what Face termed as a good kind of crazy.'
Michael was quiet, contemplating this and sorting it out. In the past hour so much information had hit him that it was difficult to digest it all. His father had a whole past that he'd known nothing about and in a way it made him respect him more than he'd expected it to. The initial anger had gone and a kind of curiosity had taken over, he wanted to know about that man his father had been, wanted to know about all of them, the A-Team and the things they'd done but he knew he couldn't because his father wasn't ready to tell him yet.
It was a few days later when all the kids managed to get together and discuss the events of that had taken place on the evening earlier in the week. It had been hard‑hitting for all of them and they had needed some time alone to deal with it in their own way but now they needed to be together.
Nicky was seated at a computer and beside him was Daniel. They were trawling through the Internet trying to glean even piece of information on their father's that they could find. At the moment they were in the military files and Daniel was explaining in a low voice how to access the encrypted files.
'You amaze me man.' Nicky said. 'Doesn't matter what it is does it? You can get it.'
Daniel gave him the famous Peck grin that frequently had women falling at his feet. 'Hey, it's in the blood. We Peck's gotta scam or we go crazy.' He realised his mistake and his expression changed. 'Sorry Nick, I didn't mean that…'
'It's ok.' Nicky said shortly, he was sick and tired of people treating him as if he might break just cos his father had turned out to have a few screws loose. He turned his attention back to the computer screen and sighed. 'I wish I knew what it is that Michael thinks we're going to find here.'
Danny shrugged. 'Maybe he just wants something to reassure himself that they are telling the truth.'
'More like he wants to find out that Dad is some kind of hero.'
Danny just nodded barely listening now. He was in the midst of the files and absorbing information as quickly as he could. He couldn't imagine how his dad had managed trying to get information without the Internet. This little jewel was a scammer's paradise and Danny never tired of finding something new to work with.
'Well, whatever it is that Michael wants I think I just found it.'
Nicky looked up instantly. 'What? What did you find?'
Danny smiled, for all Nicky's complaining he was as curious as his brother on what could be found about the A-Team. 'Hey guys, over here.' Nicky called. The others were searching through microfilmed newspaper articles but joined the two guys around the computer.
'Well Mikey? This what you were looking for?'
'Hot damn.' Michael said and Johnny whistled his own appreciation. 'You're kidding me?' Michael asked warily.
'Nope.' Danny said with another grin. 'Straight up. This stuff comes from highly encrypted files within the military and trust me these babies must be the real thing because otherwise it would have been a hell of a lot easier to get into them.'
Michael's mouth was open as he read what was displayed on the screen.
'Oh my god.' Emily said. 'Dad was really in the CIA.' Her blue eyes were wide as she looked round at her friends.
'Wow.' Brandon murmured softly.
'Back up a minute.' Johnny said as Danny began scrolling down. 'What's that there, Hunt Stockwell? Who's he?'
Nicky scanned the information quickly. 'Not sure, kinda vague about him but it says our parents were working for him before they got their pardons. Says that they've been after him as much as they were after the team, even the FBI's been after him.'
Michael was thoughtful. 'So he'd know about them.'
'He's not the only one that's been associated with them though. Two reporters in the early and mid-eighties. One Amy Allen and one Tawnia Baker. It appears that Amy Allen received a foreign correspondence assignment but she recently moved back into the country a couple of years ago but on Tawnia Baker there's nothing.'
'Think you could get this Miss Allen's address, Danny?' Johnny asked with a grin that mirrored his father's exactly. If BA had been there to see it he would have probably said that Johnny was on the Jazz.
'And try to dig up anything you can on this Stockwell guy.' Michael added almost impetuously, something inside him was curious, when he'd heard Stockwell's name he'd known that this was what he had been looking for. A connection someone besides the team who had known his father, someone they'd worked for. The news that his father had been in the CIA was startling but part of him felt that he had known that there would be something like this in his father's past. In his son's mind HM Murdock was as much of a born liar as Faceman and Michael unconsciously found himself questioning everything his father said and did now that he knew the so-called truth.
'Mike? You ok?' Emily asked with her usual gentleness, their mother often said that she was as soft-hearted as their father and that she hoped that it didn't get her into as much trouble as it got her father. Mike had never understood what she'd meant by that until now.
'Sure Em, I'm fine.' He managed a smile for his sister who still looked worried. He hoped that he'd fooled her, Emily had an uncanny knack for knowing when something was wrong with people and when they were lying. She'd caught Danny out numerous times.
'Hey, you gonna help out here or what?' Johnny teased good-naturedly, he was aware that his friend needed something to take his mind off yesterday's events. 'We still have a paper to write you know.'
'Some of us do anyway.' Emily said. She and Nick were in the grade below them even though Emily was a year younger than Nicky. She'd skipped a grade just recently much to their parents delight and her brother's chagrin.
Nicky hated having his baby sister in the same grade as he was, especially since it meant he could get away with far less when it came to assignments and homework. It also meant that Nick felt that he had to keep up with Emily, even be better than her.
He was under the mistaken impression that his parent's wouldn't be proud of him if he didn't do as well as his sister did. His grades were often the subject of hot debate with his father, usually because Nick hadn't bothered turning up to classes.
Maria tossed her blond hair as she began searching through the books and newspapers surrounding her. Michael looked at her and then at the others. They were just going about their daily business as they always did as if the events of the past few days had never taken place. He seemed to have been the only one affected by it, he wondered if maybe the others had known or suspected all along and he had been the only one existing in a naïve world where his father was normal.
'Hey Mikey.' Danny said breaking Michael out of his thoughts. 'I got the address on that Allen woman.' He handed a piece of paper to Michael with an address on it. 'Want to go check it out?'
Michael thought for a moment, he was less interested in this Amy Allen person than he was in Hunt Stockwell but still, any information she might be able to give them could prove useful in the future. 'Sure why not.'
They'd decided that if all seven of them went along to talk to Amy Allen she might be a little intimidated. It would be best if only a couple of them went along and they decided that the Johnny, Michael, Danny and Brandon would be the best choices because it was easy to see the close resemblance to their fathers and even easier when they were all together.
Johnny knocked on the door and then stood back with his thumbs hooked in the back pockets of his jeans. Danny had his hands on his hips, Michael had shoved his hands in his pockets and Brandon was fiddling with a ring on his middle finger. They waited for a couple of minutes before the door opened and a middle aged woman looked at them. Her hair was brown and pinned up away from her face and Michael could see the streaks of grey that were in it.
'Yes?' The woman asked curiously, she looked tired and Michael wondered if maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.
'Amy Allen?' Johnny asked and Michael saw that she was looking at him strangely, looking at all of them strangely come to that. He had a feeling that she knew who they were and why they were there.
'Yes? Who are you?'
'Miss Allen, my name is John Smith, this is Daniel Peck, Brandon Baracus and Michael Murdock. I believe you were a friend of our fathers. May we come in?'
There was a sharp intake of breath and the woman at the door stared at them obviously wondering if they were who they said they were and if it was safe to let them in.
Danny stepped forward and smiled gently. 'Ma'am. We're telling you the truth. We just want to talk to you, nothing more. Please.'
'Dear God.' She whispered. 'You're just like him. All of you, just like them.' She seemed stunned to find younger versions of the people she'd know over 20 years ago on her doorstep. After an internal struggle she stepped aside. 'Come on in.'
They entered the house and were led into a sitting room that was filled with objects from all around the world. Obviously mementos from her travels. Michael sat down and looked at the woman who had helped the A-Team in the early eighties whilst they were on the run from the government.
'I just can't believe it, I nearly didn't believe it. Until you spoke.' She indicated Danny. 'So much like Face I would almost think you were him, all of you are your father's children. Well can I get you anything?' She looked towards Brandon with a small smile on her face. 'Milk?'
Brandon smiled his rare smile. 'That'd be great Ma'am.'
'Oh Amy please, I always hated it when Hannibal called me Miss Allen.' She laughed then at some memory of the past. 'And what about the rest of you?'
'Milk's fine.' Johnny said speaking for all of them.
'Can we help you with anything?' Danny asked getting to his feet.
'You stay right where you are Daniel.' She laughed. 'Manners just like your father, I'm surprised he's still in the country, I'd have thought either the government or all those women would have caught up with him by now. But that was always Face, always seemed to get away with it no matter what it was.'
She looked at Michael with interested eyes. 'So, do I need to find some biscuits for your invisible dog?'
Michael didn't smile back. 'I don't have a dog.' He said archly. 'I'm not crazy like my father.'
Amy made a face. 'Sorry, my mistake. I think I've got some Twinkies stashed away…'
Michael allowed himself to smile. 'Well, if you're offering.'
Amy nodded and disappeared into the kitchen. 'Well?' Danny asked.
'Seems nice.' Johnny commented without really giving away what he thought.
'Brandon?' Danny asked. 'You think we can trust her?'
'Yeah, nothin' to worry about. Just a little weird seein' us turn up and lookin' just like our dad's.'
'Mike?' Danny asked and Michael shrugged.
'Sure, she doesn't appear to be hiding anything.'
'Got your back up when she asked about the dog didn't she?' Johnny said with raised eyebrows.
'Just because we look like them doesn't mean we are them.' Michael answered shortly and began studying a small ornament of a golden retriever.
Amy came back into the room and handed them all milk and Twinkies. Michael unwrapped the bar and munched on it thoughtfully.
'Your dad gave me that dog Michael.' Amy said abruptly and Michael nearly choked on his Twinkie.
'Yeah?' He asked hoarsely suddenly wondering where she was going with this.
'When I got my foreign correspondence assignment, he gave me that said he couldn't give me Billy for good luck but that was the next best thing.' She smiled softly.
'Billy?' Michael asked carefully not sure if he wanted to hear this.
'The invisible dog your dad had. He was adamant that he was real, sometimes I think that Hannibal believed him but Face would just go along with it when he felt like it. BA, however, he hated Murdock's crazy talk and kept telling him that the dog wasn't real which of course made Murdock retaliate. They were always arguing.'
'They still do mama.' Brandon told her and Amy smiled.
'I would be worried if they didn't.'
'You're talking about them as if they're dead.' Michael said harshly and Amy's smile abruptly vanished.
'I'm sorry that wasn't the way I meant it. You came here to ask about them didn't you?'
'Mike, you want to do this?' Johnny asked. 'This was your idea.
'No, you tell her.' Michael said sitting back and sipping his milk carefully. He didn't feel like blurting out how upset he was at his father to this utter stranger.
'Until yesterday we had no idea that the A-Team even existed let alone that they were our father's. Brandon found a newspaper article on them relating how they had been arrested for murder and theft and then escaped. Well, except for Michael's dad, the newspaper mentioned that he was at the VA at the time.'
Amy nodded. 'And you want to know more.'
'Yes.' Danny cut in. 'We want to know what they did, what they were like, we need to know it from an outsiders point of view. We want to know who they were.'
Amy sighed. 'It would take me weeks to tell you everything that they did. They were a remarkable group of men and I have never and will never meet anyone like them in my life. Hannibal with his crazy plans and cigars. When the team had to make a contact he'd dress up in some disguise and keep the contact hanging around for a while before we approached him. He never seemed to be happier then when he was putting our lives in danger but believe me, no matter what crazy plan he cooked up, it always worked, maybe not exactly how he was expecting it to work but it always worked.'
'I love it when a plan comes together.' Johnny murmured and Amy laughed.
'Yes that's right, kind of a catchphrase of his. Does he still say it?'
'Yeah.' Johnny laughed. 'He still says that and he still smokes the cigars even though Mom is always telling him to quit but he never will.'
'Sounds like Hannibal, stubborn to the bone. Your mom? Who'd he marry, Maggie?'
Johnny smiled. 'Yeah, that's right, you know her?'
'Oh we've met, she helped save BA's life once. It's how they met.'
Johnny was interested. 'I never knew how they met.'
'Maybe later I'll tell you.' She looked at Danny. 'And there was Face.' She laughed pleasantly. 'Oh he was a charmer, I never understood how he did it, he had girls falling all over him and no matter what it was he could get it. He was the team's conman and whatever they needed you could guarantee he'd have it. He might whine and moan but he'd have it for Hannibal, always big on pride was Face. Hard to believe he's settled down.'
'Nearly 15 years now and I swear he loves her more each day.' Danny said proudly. 'People always say my sister and I look just like him.'
'You have a sister?'
'Twin sister, Maria.'
Amy laughed. 'Figures that Face would have twins, he who was never keen on commitment and children.' She smiled. 'Didn't mind other peoples but didn't seem to want any of his own. Now BA, he was a different story. Adored kids, the one time you ever saw his soft side was when he was around children. Other than that he kept up the tough guy act. He and Murdock were always arguing, it was almost like BA was the big brother and Murdock was the kid brother. BA was a master mechanic, he might complain about it but he could fix it. If it hadn't been for him the team wouldn't have found their way out of half of the situations they got themselves in.'
She looked at Brandon. 'You're the image of him.' She turned to Michael and he felt a strange twist in his stomach as she looked at him, he wasn't sure if he could hear what she was going to say about his father.
'And then there was Murdock.' She sighed deeply. 'Oh Murdock was as soft-hearted and gentle as they come. Also as crazy as they come, he always had some kind of fixation, golf balls, trash bags, invisible dogs but he was harmless. Some of the time I wondered whether he was putting on the crazy talk but he was possibly the sweetest man I'll ever meet, he had a heart of gold and he loved to fly. It was never a bad kind of crazy, it was more of a fun kind of crazy, just saw things differently to the way we did. Which BA hated, he hated all the crazy talk and he hated flying. Every time they wanted to go anywhere they'd have to knock him out.'
Brandon grinned. 'They still do and Murdock still annoys him whenever he can.'
Michael shifted under Amy's gaze, he felt that she knew how uneasy he felt about his father's craziness. But what she'd told him had surprised him, of course he'd known it but it was somehow it seemed to make things better now he knew that his father wasn't some kind of madman.
'The best day of Murdock's life was when Michael was born.' Amy said and Michael's head shot up. 'It was his proudest moment.'
'You were there?' Michael asked, the first thing he'd said since Amy had begun telling her story.
'I had a job for them to do, the last job they did. You were born right in the middle of it. Some thugs had kidnapped Kelly and she started giving birth before he got there. Murdock went after her and got himself kidnapped in the process. When we burst in he was holding a baby boy, he'd helped her give birth all by himself.'
Michael listened with interest, he'd never known this story of his birth and then he realised that the story which Amy had just told them was different to the one that Murdock had told them. 'Which was ironic.' Amy continued. 'Since getting kidnapped was how they both met in the first place.' She chuckled and then looked towards Brandon. 'And then you were born in the back of BA's van.' She smiled. 'Seems like you're extraordinary children from extraordinary parents.'
'You said getting kidnapped was how they first met?' Michael said interested now despite himself. He hadn't really known the details of how his parents had met.
Amy smiled quietly. 'Well I wasn't there but I heard all about it. But its best coming from them, they were there they can tell it better than I could.' And then she told them about some of the missions and crazy stunts that the A-Team had pulled off. About how close they'd been and how they'd never ceased to amaze her with the way they managed to survive each mission.
Michael stopped by John's house. 'So.' He said, he'd been quiet the whole way home.
'So they were soldiers of fortune.' John had a strange look in his eyes. Michael had a feeling in his gut that John had liked what he'd heard, the kind of life his father had led obviously appealed to him.
'She knew them well clearly.'
'Yes and she still didn't tell us everything. There's something missing here Mike. Out of all their stories they're leaving something vital out and I don't know what it is.'
Michael shrugged. 'So they lie to us. What's new.'
'You're being very bitter about this. I thought everything was ok between you and Murdock now.'
'How can it be ok Johnny, after that how can it be ok. The guy was crazy for gods sake, he was in a mental hospital and he didn't tell us anything about it, any of it. How am I supposed to believe anything that comes out of his mouth again, how am I supposed to respect him.'
Johnny was quiet for a moment. 'He's still your dad Mike, he still cares…'
'Oh don't please that's all I've heard for the past few days how much he cares about me, about all of us. And how this is all my fault.'
'He didn't mean it like that and you know it kid.' Johnny had a habit of calling him kid even though he was three months younger than Michael, it was a habit he'd picked up off his father.
'Could have fooled me.' Michael muttered and walked off without another word to his own house. He walked into the kitchen and slung his bag on the table feeling a dark mood settle over him.
He went through into the living room and saw his father standing at the window with his back to him. Michael made to go upstairs.
'You skipped school today.'
Michael froze and turned back. 'Excuse me?'
'You skipped your afternoon classes and went to see Amy Allen. She called, she was worried.'
'Worried?' Michael didn't bother denying the fact that he'd skipped some classes, there was no point.
'Yeah. Worried about you.'
Michael felt his temper flare, something that since a few days ago seemed to happen quite easily. 'She doesn't even know me, how can she be worried?'
'Because it's easy to see how you feel.' Murdock hadn't turned round from the window and he stayed with his back to his son.
'What do you mean 'how I feel'?' Michael was uneasy, his father was perfectly calm and that bothered him more than anything. There was a kind of coldness in his tone that Michael wasn't used to hearing.
'Your contempt for me.' Murdock sighed. 'The fact that this whole thing bothers you. Emily and Nick have noticed the same thing.'
'I just wanted to know…'
'You wanted Amy to deny everything that's what you wanted Michael. You thought that she'd tell you we were lying or something.'
'No. I don't know what I wanted. I just needed to speak to someone outside the family who was involved with you guys.'
'That could be dangerous Michael, be careful who you go talking to.'
'Why Dad? Afraid that they might lock you up again?' He hated saying it but it just came out, he couldn't stop himself.
Murdock tensed and finally turned round. 'No. I'm afraid my son might get himself into trouble and that is the last thing I want.'
'What you want is to try and pretend that this never happened, that you're just a normal person. That you weren't some crazy fucked-up weirdo.'
'That's enough.' Murdock said sharply. 'I don't want to hear you using that kind of language again and since you skipped classes you're grounded for two weeks. You're to come straight home from school everyday.'
'Oh come on. It was just two classes. That isn't what's got you wired anyway.'
Murdock shrugged. 'I don't hold with my children doing things behind my back Michael you know that.'
'Oh here we go.' Michael rolled his eyes. 'You know what? Now I know how Nick feels having you on his back everyday. Stop acting like you're better than I am, you're a liar, what I'm supposed to respect you because of that? Wake up.'
'Sit down Michael.'
Michael made towards the stairs.
'I said, sit down.' Michael reluctantly sat.
'Now I am your father and whatever I have done in the past while you live here you'll abide by my rules. Regardless of what you think of me.'
Michael got to his feet. 'Well there's an easy answer to that then isn't there.' He went up the stairs and this time his father didn't tell him to come back, instead Murdock crossed to the phone.
'Face?' He asked and when Face responded Murdock sat down with a sigh. 'I think I just messed up.'
'What happened?' Face asked.
Murdock told him what had happened. 'You should have seen the way he looked at me. Jeez it was the way some of those scumbag lowlifes used to look at us after we'd kicked their butts.'
'Worse. What am I gonna do?'
'There's nothing you can do Murdock. He has to work it out for himself.'
'Do you think I made the wrong decision Face? Do you think maybe I could have done things better?'
Face sighed. 'Murdock, you did things the way you thought was best and that's all that matters. Michael will learn how to deal with it in his own way and in his own time. Just give him some room to work it all out and cope with it.'
'And what if he doesn't Face? What if he can't accept the idea that I was, well, the way I was back then.'
'Then I guess you work that one out if you come to it. There's a lot he doesn't understand Murdock and you're not the only one who's having trouble.'
'There's a lot I don't want him to understand, that was the whole point of this remember. And what do you mean, you're having problems as well?'
'Let's just say Danny's gotten a little cockier than usual all of a sudden and Hannibal's mentioned that Johnny seems to be asking an awful lot of questions.'
Murdock rubbed his temples. 'Johnny? He seemed to deal with it better than anyone.'
'Didn't you see the light in his eyes when you were talking about us being Soldiers of Fortune, that was Jazz plain and simple. You weren't the only one that Amy called today, she called Hannibal to tell him that she was worried about Johnny too. She said she saw the look in his eyes and recognised it, she thought Hannibal should watch him, just in case.'
'You mean just in case she isn't the only one he decides to look up? In case he decides to talk to some other people we've been associated with, people like Stockwell?'
'Yeah like Stockwell.' Face murmured. 'How's Nicky dealing with it all by the way, out of all of them I'd think he'd be the one to go rushing off asking the wrong people the wrong questions.'
Murdock sighed heavily. 'He seems fine but that doesn't mean a thing and don't think I haven't thought of that too. If Nicky were to find out about Stockwell, I think he would look him up even if it was just to provoke me.'
'You know what Murdock I think we should talk, all four of us, about this whole thing and what we're gonna do. There are things we don't want the kids finding out and things we might have to deal with now. I think we should decide what we're gonna do.'
'Sounds like a good idea Facey, things are real confused at the moment, I need to know exactly what I can and can't tell Michael. And soon because I think that he and I need to sit down and really talk this whole thing out before something happens.'
'We need to talk to all of them Murdock, not just Michael.'
Michael sat at the top of the stairs and listened to his father's conversation, the more he heard the more he knew that he was going to go and see Stockwell. Johnny's instincts had been right, they were hiding something from them and Michael knew he was gonna find out what it was all about. He was tired of the lying, he was tired of the secrets; all he wanted now was the truth.
Kelly opened the front door laden down with groceries, she kicked the door closed with her foot and made towards the kitchen. As she put the shopping away she noticed that it was unusually quiet for this time of the afternoon. Normally her husband would have been there in a second to help her carry the groceries into the kitchen. Nicky would be seated in front of the TV and Mike would be helping Murdock with the groceries whilst holding a discussion about flying. Emily would be reading in her favourite chair. However, today there was no-one to greet her and her family were nowhere to be seen.
She put some food down for the dog and as she straightened up she finally saw Murdock down at the end of the garden. He was sitting in the old swing, moving his feet back and forth. Even from this distance Kelly was able to see that her husband was deep in thought. Something was bothering him, no guesses for what that might be.
Kelly opened the door and went down the garden to see him. He looked up as she approached and smiled a tired smile. She felt her heart go out to him. She knew that he had felt he was doing the right thing in keeping the truth from their children and she fully agreed with his reasons behind it. She was also aware that what had happened over the last few days had affected him almost as much as it had affected the kids.
'Hey.' She said softly and he took her hand, drawing her down to sit in his lap. She put her arms round him, pulling his head down to rest on her shoulder, smoothing his hair. 'You ok?'
He sighed quietly. 'Yeah, just worried about Mike. He went to see Amy today, Brandon, Johnny and Danny went with him.' Kelly looked at him in quiet surprise.
'And Amy called me to say that he'd been there. They all skipped classes to go see her and she said that she was worried about Mike and Johnny. Mike most of all.'
'I see.' Kelly said softly. 'He's not coping is he?'
'No honey he's really not. She said he got kinda snappy about certain things she said. Things about me, things that…'
'Oh Murdock.' Kelly kissed his forehead. 'He will come around; he just needs time to sort it all out in his head. It's not an easy thing for him to come to terms with.'
'I know, I know. It's just that I thought after I talked to him the other day, I thought things were better, that he'd understand. But I guess he doesn't.'
'He's always thought the world of you; you know that. You two have always had a bond and I guess he feels that you didn't trust him as much as he thought you did. You're his idol and now you've shown yourself to be a human being, he just has to realise that things can't always be black and white.'
Murdock looked up at the woman he loved with all his heart. 'Did I do the right thing Kelly? Should I have told them?'
Kelly shrugged. 'You did what you thought was the right thing at the time. Who knows whether it was the best thing or not. That's not the point, you did what you did and can't change that. You just have to deal with the way things are right now, be there for Mike when he decides he wants to deal with it.'
Her husband nodded. 'As usual, sweetheart, you're right.'
'Are you ok?' Kelly asked. 'I know it's not just the kids this has been hard on.'
'You know Amy said that Johnny had the Jazz in his eyes. She said he looked ready to go out and start finding bad guys to bring down just like Hannibal did.' He changed the subject deftly and Kelly shook her head.
'Murdock.' She said quietly and he sighed. She didn't have to say anymore, they'd been married long enough that he could tell what she was saying even when she wasn't actually saying it.
'I know, I know. I'll be fine.' He looked up at her, smiling brightly. 'I've got someone as beautiful to you to come home to everyday, how could I not be fine?'
Kelly shook her head and laughed. Murdock took the opportunity to kiss her and for a moment they just kissed before he pulled away gently. 'I love you.' He murmured.
'Oh Murdock.' Every time he said it, it reminded her of the first time. 'I love you too honey, you know that and I'll be here whatever happens with our kids.'
He nodded and sighed. 'Guess I'd better help you with those groceries.'
She frowned. 'And how'd you know that I came home with groceries.'
He laughed. 'It's Friday honey, you always come home with groceries on a Friday.' He kissed her lightly on the lips. 'Now it's my turn to cook tonight.'
Up in his room Michael stood at the window and watched his parents. The knife of bitterness twisted in his heart again and he felt a strange sense of hate. That his parents could just sit there like that when his world was falling apart all around him.
Michael did not know that Murdock felt guilt and regret, he only saw his father kiss his mother, saw them laughing together, as if nothing was wrong.
He turned towards his computer and glanced once more at the e-mail that Danny had sent him. Danny had finally found the contact address for Hunt Stockwell, it had been more difficult than anything he'd ever encountered but he'd done it and against his better judgement he'd given it to Michael.
Michael wrote down the e-mail address and then grabbed his coat. He was going to get some answers and he was getting them now.
Danny sat in his room going through newspapers on the Internet, making notes. He was gleaning every single bit of information he could get on the A-Team. Like Michael his thirst for knowledge of his father's life before he'd been born had been awakened. He wondered briefly if Mike would go and see General Stockwell. He hoped that his friend would have the sense to realise that nothing good could come of it.
The door to his bedroom slammed open and suddenly he found himself being pinned to the wall. 'You told him where Stockwell was didn't you? What were you thinking?' Murdock all but screamed into his face.
Taken completely by surprise Danny had no idea how to react. He just stared dumbly at Murdock unable to say a word. Even though his godfather's words were angry his eyes belied the fact that he was deeply worried.
Face appeared in the doorway. 'What's going on? Murdock! Put him down!'
Murdock let Daniel go and turned on Face. 'Did you know about this? Do you know what he's done?'
Face looked at him. 'Hey just calm down ok. What do you think Danny's done?'
'I don't think that he's done anything Face! I know he has! He told Mike where he could find Stockwell and now Mike's gone to talk to him.' Murdock's eyes flashed.
'I…he wanted to know. I didn't think it would matter that much.'
Murdock shook his head. 'You know what kind of state he's been in…how could you…' He stopped and his features softened. 'I'm sorry kid, didn't mean to scare ya. I…it's difficult for me to explain to you why this is such a bad idea.'
Face put his hands on his hips, he was thinking deeply. 'There could still be time.'
Murdock looked at him. 'Of course there isn't time Face, if we stop him now he'll only talk to him later when we're not around to stop him.'
'Then explain it to him, explain to us!' Danny said exasperated. 'Who the hell is Stockwell anyway?'
'Lets just stop Mike now and worry about telling him later.' Face said. 'I'll call Hannibal and BA.'
Murdock nodded and turned back to Danny. 'Now that address you got, you still got that?'
'I got it. How'd you know anyway?'
'Got it out of Em. He told her and Nicky where he was going. Emily never could lie to me.'
Danny nodded and picked up his coat.
'Hey what you doing?' Murdock asked.
His godson flashed him a grin identical to Face's. 'Coming with you.'
'Oh no you don't kid, I don't want anyone else there.'
Danny grinned again. 'Without me you've got no address and without an address you've got no hope of finding him. Dad's not so quick as he used to be no matter what he says. I'm your link to Mikey right now. Accept it, I'm coming with you.'
Murdock looked at him and shook his head. 'Jeez kid and I thought your Dad was bad. I guess this means that we can expect Brandon and Johnny to be with us too.'
'And me.' Maria's voice said from the doorway. 'I'm going too.'
'No way.' Face declared appearing behind his daughter. 'You're staying right here Maria.'
'No buts young lady. You stay here.'
Danny smirked at his sister but when Face wasn't looking he gave her a sympathetic look. He understood.
Murdock nodded in agreement. 'Yeah Maria, no sense in getting you involved, besides there's not enough room in the van.'
'That's crap!' She declared ignoring the look from her father which said that he was less than impressed with her language. 'There's plenty of room for me, Em and Nicky to come along as well.'
'Well you're not.' Face insisted.
'No!' Murdock said. 'And I'm counting on you to calm Nick down for me and to keep Emily out the way of all this.'
Maria's eyes flashed with anger as she stared at her best friend's father. Finally she backed down. 'Ok but only for Em and Nicky. Cos someone has to watch out for them. And if you change your mind the offer still stands.'
'We won't.' Murdock told her grimly. He headed for the door. 'Ready Danny?'
BA pulled up in the van and Face and Murdock jumped in, taking their usual seats. Behind them Brandon and Johnny pulled up in Brandon's van, an exact replica of BA's. He saw Danny get in and noticed Maria standing there with a wistful look on her face. Obviously wanting to be part of the excitement.
As Danny got in Murdock caught a glimpse of Emily and Nicky sitting in the back seats of the van. He gritted his teeth and got out the van and headed over to them.
'Hey where you goin' man?' BA asked confused.
Murdock walked over to the van and grabbed hold of the door as Nicky was about to shut it. 'What do you think you're doing?' His eyes shifted from his son to his daughter.
'We're coming too.' Nicky answered him evenly, meeting his eyes with a look that suggested he was all too willing to put up a fight.
'I see.' Murdock said. 'Get out of the van, both of you.' He kept his voice perfectly calm and steady as if nothing was wrong in the least.
'No.' His son's eyes flashed angrily. 'I'm coming too, Mike is in trouble, I want to help. So does Em.'
'Who said Mike was in trouble Nick?'
'Oh come on.' Nicky's tone was exasperated. 'Don't play that game with me, you wouldn't be rushing off like this if you didn't think he was in some kind of trouble.'
'I see, so tell me Nick, if I think Mike is in trouble why in the world would I let my other two children go with me? Why would I put the rest of my family in danger?'
'Dad…we just want to help. Maybe we can talk to him.' Emily said trying to smooth things over, the last thing that was needed right now was for an argument to start up.
Murdock turned to her, his face grim. 'No young lady, what you and your brother can do is to get out of the van and stay right here where it's safe.'
Emily looked at him for a long moment, holding his gaze. She was perfectly aware that he wasn't mad at her or Nicky. He was deeply worried for Michael and he clearly thought that things could get very, very bad. She reached out and laid a hand on Nick's arm. Her brother looked at her in disbelief.
'You've got to be kidding me. No way. You just have to do everything he says don't you?' He was angry, nearly shaking.
'Nick.' She said softly. 'He's right. There's not a lot we can do, we need to stay here with Mom.'
Nick shook his head but got out the van. 'Jeez, one of these days you're gonna realise that I'm not a kid anymore Dad. I can take care of myself.'
His father reached out and put a hand on his shoulder. 'I know that already Nick but I'm not prepared to put anymore of my family at risk, the fact that one of you is in this situation is bad enough, I can't let anything happen to the rest of you. You're far too important to me.'
Emily swallowed hard and nodded. Nick sighed deeply. 'Ok.' He said. 'Ok, we'll stay but just…can you tell us what's going on?'
Murdock shook his head. 'No time Muchacho, later I promise.'
Nick nodded and stepped back onto the sidewalk with Maria. Murdock turned and ran back to the van. He jumped back in and BA drove off.
Michael arrived at the address that Danny had given him. He stared at the non‑descript building in front of him. There was nothing that would have made him stop and stare at it on a normal day. It was a normal, whitewashed brick building.
Michael went to the door and raised his hand to press the buzzer. He hesitated for a moment, here was a choice. The choice to go ahead and ring that bell, to carry on looking for the knowledge he so badly wanted…or the choice to go back. Go back home to his family and just forget about Hunt Stockwell and that his father had been part of the A‑Team.
Michael swallowed, if he went home he'd be sure to be in trouble with his father and besides, he knew that he'd never be able to forget it, it would gnaw away at him getting worse day by day. He had to know, he just had to. He had to face facts, his father was never going to fully open up to him, if he wanted to know anything then this was his only choice.
Michael pressed the buzzer.
Nicky waited all of three seconds after BA's van had turned the corner before he ran to the garage and threw open the door. 'Keys Maria!' He yelled.
'Nick! What are you doing?' Emily asked, already halfway sure of what her brother had in mind. He'd never been one to listen to his father.
'Going to find Mike. What else?'
'But Dad said….'
'Dad can go to hell, I'm going after them. I know how to drive so if you don't want to come then fine, you're better off out of the way anyhow.'
Maria looked from one to the other, a doubtful expression on her face. 'Nick, your dad was pretty adamant that we don't get involved in this. I think that maybe he's right.'
Nick snorted. 'Come on Maria…where's that Peck sense of adventure you keep telling me about? Huh? They took Danny with them, your twin brother and they left you behind. Now that's gotta burn.'
'They need Danny, Nicky. Just think about this, we could get in trouble.'
Nick's eyes gleamed. 'Good, trouble's what I like best. Come on guys, you just gonna let them all go off and leave us here? Are ya?'
Maria opened her mouth and then her expression changed. 'No way.'
'Em?' Nick asked, knowing he had Maria on his side now.
Emily eyed the garage and then her brother. She thought of what her father would say if she disobeyed him, how disappointed he'd be and then she thought of Mike and the trouble that he could be in and the adventures that could be happening to her family and friends without her. 'I'm right with you.'
Nicky's coffee coloured brown eyes shone. 'Good. So, shall I drive?'
'No way…my 'vette, I drive.'
'Aww jeez Maria, just once. C'mon…you know you wanna let me drive.' He put on a pleading look.
Maria shook her head. 'No. My car, no one drives it but me.'
'You sound like BA.' Nick grumbled crossly.
'Can we just go already?' Maria asked him, steadily losing patience. 'We leave it much longer and we won't be able to catch them up.'
Nick eyed her suspiciously. 'You mean to say that you don't know the address that Danny gave Mike?'
'Of course I know the address, I keep an eye on most of Danny's e-mails same way as he keeps an eye on most of mine.'
Emily shook her head. 'You two are unbelievable.' She got in the car, Nick took the passenger seat and Maria got in on the drivers side.
'Ok baby, let's go.' Maria said.
Emily frowned. 'Are you talking to your car Maria?'
Maria looked at her in the rear-view mirror. 'No.' She said unconvincingly.
'Does it matter? Dad has invisible dog, Maria talks to her 'vette. Is it really an issue right now?' Nick argued, he was starting to feel something strange happening to him like... all the Twinkies he could eat and Woody Woodpecker cartoons all day long. He groped for a word with which to describe it and came up with one that he heard his Dad use often in relation to Hannibal. Jazz.
Maria stepped on the gas and the car shot forward. Emily grabbed for her seatbelt and clung on for dear life.
'No.' She said. 'The issue is whether Maria's gonna kill us with her driving.'
Brandon drove without saying a word, every now and then he'd grip the steering wheel tightly and his eyes would narrow. Johnny shot a look at him, he knew from the signs that Brandon was angry and as usual trying to hide it. Someone was going to be very unlucky if anything happened to Mike.
Johnny looked in the side mirror. 'We're being followed Brandon.' He said, he turned a little to glance at Danny. 'Looks like your sister's Corvette back there Danny.'
'Damn. Nick persuaded her to come with us.'
'Want me to call Murdock?' Johnny asked.
Danny thought for a moment. 'No, don't bother. It's fine, just so long as she keeps out of sight of BA's van. Murdock's got eagle eyes, she could end up spotted.'
Johnny nodded and picked up the car phone, he dialled a number. Brandon shot him a look. 'Maria.' Johnny said into the phone. 'If you're going to tag along for the ride, I'd keep a little further back. We spotted you easily, don't want our parents doing the same. Ok, we'll meet you there.' He put the phone down. 'She's going to take another route, keep out of sight. She seems to know the address Danny.'
'Yeah. She monitors my e-mails.'
'And you let her do it?' Brandon asked, shaking his head, sometimes he really didn't get the twins.
'No I let her think that I don't know. Believe me if I didn't want her reading them then she wouldn't, it comes in handy sometimes. Besides I read hers.' He shrugged and gave a grin that was a duplicate of his father's.
Murdock gripped the back of BA's seat, his knuckles were almost white. 'I can't believe he's doing this. This is the kind of behaviour I'd expect from Nicky or even Johnny.'
Face looked at him. 'He'll be fine Murdock, we'll stop him before he gets to Stockwell.'
BA growled deep in his throat at the mention of Stockwell.
'Easy BA.' Hannibal said. 'We don't know for sure he went there.'
'Of course he went there!' Murdock almost shouted. He paused. 'Sorry, didn't mean to yell. But the way he's been acting, he went to see Stockwell I know it.'
Face muttered something under his breath that sounded like 'like father like son', Murdock glared at him.
'You know what Stockwell's like, what if he decides that Mikey's a liability? He doesn't know that Mikey doesn't know anything.'
'Uh…' Face was about to say something but thought better of it.
'I don't want my son anywhere near that creep. What is it with Mike? He gets kidnapped before he's even born and now he goes looking, actually goes looking for Stockwell. That kid is not mine!'
Hannibal tried to suppress a smile but didn't succeed.
'He's a fool, just like you.' BA said. 'And you were always getting kidnapped.'
Murdock's eyes flashed angrily. 'I was not! You guys were the ones who got kidnapped, I was the one who rescued you. All those times Decker and Lynch got ya, who broke you out and rescued you? Who? Me that's who!'
'Actually Murdock you were kidnapped a couple of times.' Hannibal interjected
'Yeah but not nearly the amount of times you guys were.'
'Uh…Murdock, we were caught by the military not kidnapped.' Face said, eyeing his friend cautiously.
'Yeah fool. They kidnapped you just by putting a dog in front of you.'
'I thought he was hurt…he tricked me!' Murdock argued. 'And what about that time they kidnapped me to try and kill you guys? Huh? Remember that? I sacrificed myself for you guys and what thanks did I get? Nothing, not even a mention in the newspaper.' Murdock jabbed a finger at empty air to emphasise his point.
'Murdock…' Hannibal said pulling out a cigar. 'You were our secret weapon…we needed you.'
'Yeah to fly this big tub of guts about.' Murdock scowled.
'Fly! Fly!' BA jammed on the brakes. 'I die before I fly! Who put me on a plane! Who?'
'Will ya just drive!' Murdock yelled.
'Enough!' Hannibal said. 'BA, drive and we'd never put you on a plane, we know you hate to fly.' Hannibal kept his hand hidden, his fingers were crossed.
BA relaxed a little and carried on driving, not at all happy.
'Wimp.' Murdock muttered.
BA glared again and then Murdock suddenly looked round. 'You guys did that on purpose didn't you? You made me angry so I'd quit being angry with Mike so that I'd quit being angry with Stockwell so that I'd quit being angry! Well I've got news for you, I'm angry!'
'Murdock just calm down.' Face said soothingly. 'Michael's just curious, Stockwell didn't like you anyway, and he'll probably just turn him away.'
Murdock looked at him. 'You think?'
Face nodded. 'I'm sure that he'll….' Face's voice trailed off. 'No, not really.'
Murdock sighed. 'Guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens then.'
The voice on the other end of the intercom was composed and self-assured, not at all what Michael had been expecting.
'Ah Mr Murdock, I've been expecting you.' There was a note of arrogance in the man's tone and Michael was taken completely by surprise. He'd never imagined that Stockwell would know who he was much less that he was looking for him.
The door buzzed and Michael opened it and went through into a spacious hall. A man approached him. 'Sir, if you'd like to follow me, the General is waiting for you.'
Michael swallowed hard and nodded. The man executed a sharp turn and walked off leaving Michael no other choice but to do as he was told. All his confidence had leaked away, he realised now that this was not going to be about him confronting Stockwell but rather about Stockwell confronting him.
The man in front of him, clearly some kind of guard, walked at a steady pace up stairs and round corridors. For something that didn't look much on the outside, Stockwell's home was one big maze inside. Already Michael was lost, desperately trying to remember landmarks for when he wanted to leave.
The guard stopped before a set of double doors and without saying another word to Michael, he turned and walked away. Michael straightened his cap, tugged on his jacket and pushed open the door.
The man seated behind the large desk that dominated much of the room was as much of a surprise to Michael as everything else so far had been. He was older than Michael had expected him to be, closer to Hannibal's age, whereas Michael had so far thought him to be the same age as his father.
But one look at the man told him that he was indeed a General, his whole bearing screamed out that one fact. Michael would have known that Hunt Stockwell held some sort of high rank just by looking at him, even if he had not known before. He'd been around enough army buddies of his Dad's to be able to stop a military man a mile off, especially those who were higher up the ranks.
He stepped forward into the room, feeling strangely underdressed though he had no idea why. Stockwell's eyes were piercing and he said nothing as Michael approached the desk, just watched him carefully. He was well-dressed and Michael got the feeling that here was a man that you did not want to cross. For the first time he wondered if he was doing the right thing, if maybe talking to Stockwell would only make matters worse instead of better. If maybe the answers that he so badly needed were not really answers at all.
Stockwell rose and walked round the desk towards Michael. He held out his hand towards Michael. 'General Hunt Stockwell.'
Michael took the hand and shook it even though he really didn't want to. 'I'm M…'
'Michael Jonathon Murdock. Yes I know.'
Michael was unable to keep the curiosity from his face and Stockwell gave a low chuckle. 'Never mind how I know, you came here for a reason.'
Michael wasn't sure how to begin, this man seemed to know more about what he was thinking than he did. 'I…yes I did, you worked with my father, I want to know what happened, I want answers.'
Stockwell smiled a shrewd smile and leaned on the edge of the desk. 'First let me make you aware of one important fact. I didn't work for your father, he worked for me. And as for answers, for me to give you any answers at all you have to know what the questions are. And I don't think you really do. Let me ask you something, if you want these 'answers' so badly, why come to me? Why not ask him?'
Michael looked at him and his gaze hardened. 'Because I want the truth.'
Stockwell raised one eyebrow and the smile that curved about his lips seemed suddenly less cruel. 'I see and you don't believe that he will tell you the truth.'
'I know he won't. He hasn't so far.' There was a hard note of anger and betrayal Michael's voice.
'What makes you so sure that I hold all the answers Michael?'
Michael smiled tightly. 'Because he wants me to stay away, if you couldn't tell me anything he wouldn't care if I came here or not.'
Stockwell nodded, still studying Michael very carefully. 'You look a lot like him. Are you close?'
Michael hesitated, remembering all the times he'd gone flying with his father, ball games and a hundred other things. 'We used to be.' He said finally, aware that he was now washing his hands clean of any relationship he might have had with his father.
'I see. Why are you really here Michael? What do you think I can provide?'
The intercom on the desk buzzed before Michael could answer.
Even Nicky had to agree that Maria drove like a maniac though he had to admit that this was what came of having his father teaching anyone to do anything. Murdock drove like he flew, crazy. And now Maria apparently thought that this was the way everyone drove; by trying to kill themselves. Nicky made a mental note to teach his father to drive properly, Maria wasn't even attempting to jump over things in her 'vette. The BA Baracus way was the much better way to drive, thank God BA had taught him to drive properly, now if only Maria would give him the wheel.
'MARIA!' Emily yelled from the back seat. 'Slow down!'
Maria didn't appear to hear her and kept on driving like a bat out of hell. She jammed on the brakes in front of the address that she'd got from her brother and Nicky and Emily both breathed a sigh of relief.
Nick glared at her. 'I drive on the way back!'
Maria just shrugged. 'You said you wanted to get here before your dad. We're here before them, just. Now stop complaining and lets go get Mike.'
Emily got out of the car and tried not to collapse onto the pavement. She'd been hanging on with dear life throughout the whole white knuckle ride, she'd wanted to get to her brother as fast as possible but she'd been hoping to get there in one piece.
Nick slammed the door and headed for the front door. He jammed his finger on the intercom button and held it there. 'Yes?' A voice said on the other end and Emily felt a shiver go down her spine, she just knew that the person who was talking was Stockwell.
'I'm Michael's brother, Nicky. I want to see him.' He demanded. Maria yanked him away from the intercom.
'General.' She said instantly slipping into persuasive mode. 'We'd really like to see him, obviously we appreciate that you must be a very busy man, we don't want to take up much of your time. We're here for the same reason Michael is and we'd like to talk to you as well. If you could just spare us a few minutes.'
Stockwell sounded amused. 'By all means.' The door buzzed and Maria pulled it open, glaring at Nick.
'You didn't have to be like that, he could have refused to let us in.'
He just shrugged at her. 'Then we'd have gone in the back way. Come on Maria, our parents didn't teach us all that stealth stuff for nothing.'
'Actually our parents didn't teach us it at all Nicky.' Emily said. 'You just watch too many James Bond movies.'
Her brother just grinned. 'Same thing.'
As they stepped into the entrance a man greeted them. 'If you'll follow me, the General is waiting.'
Nick grinned and whispered to them. 'Wow, Stockwell has his very own Igor. Wonder if he's got a coffin hidden in the basement.'
'Nick.' Maria said sharply, following the guard.
Nick sighed. 'No one appreciates my sense of humour.' He muttered and shut up. As he and the others followed the guard, he wondered if this had been such a good idea. Sure he wanted to make sure Mike didn't do anything stupid but maybe bringing the girls along hadn't been such a smart move. His dad sure was gonna be mad when he found out about this.
BA followed Brandon's van carefully until it drew up beside the house Stockwell was living in. Instantly Brandon, Johnny and Danny were out of the van and throwing open the door.
Murdock, BA, Hannibal and Face got out too and rushed for the door but just as Danny slipped inside the door slammed shut, Murdock grabbed for the handle and yanked on it. The door didn't move, a frustrated howl escaped his lips. 'No! Come on open!'
Hannibal punched the intercom button. 'Stockwell!' He said. 'Open up!'
Stockwell's voice came through the intercom sounding extremely pleased with himself. 'I'm sorry Colonel, I'm afraid that simply isn't possible.'
Murdock jumped forward. 'Stockwell!' He bellowed. 'You open this door right now!'
'I'm sorry Captain, I sincerely regret that I can't hold a reunion with you today but I'm afraid I have business to attend to. Your son really is an interesting young man.'
Murdock jabbed the button angrily. 'STOCKWELL!' There was no reply.
He looked round at his friends, the kids were inside and they were
stuck here on the outside without a way in.
Johnny, Danny and Brandon stood in the middle of the hallway and looked back towards the door which had shut behind them. They could hear Murdock yelling behind it and Brandon was sure that his father wasn't going to be far behind.
Danny turned back to the door about to open it for them when there was a sound. He turned to see four or five guards up on the balcony, guns fully trained on all three of them. He looked at his friends. 'Guess…uh…guess they really don't want me to open that door.' He gave a stilted laugh.
'No.' Johnny said and Brandon could practically see the cogs working in his head. He was trying to think up a way of getting them out of here.
'What do we do now, man?' Brandon asked, feeling a little agitated. He was getting the feeling that he'd really like to pound the guard's heads into the floor and he didn't particularly like it.
Johnny looked round at the men and the guns. 'Well, I don't think we'll be getting a chance to open that door so they're going to have to find another way in. Now I think I saw Maria's Corvette outside so she and the others are already here. Chances are if we do what they want they'll take us to Mike.'
'Good plan.' Danny said. 'What if they just shoot us instead? I don't really want to get into a fight, these shoes are Gucci.'
Brandon just looked at him with an expression of disgust.
'What?' Danny asked. 'I take care of my clothes, unlike some people.' He looked Brandon up and down. 'Yeah…'
Brandon actually snarled and Danny stopped talking abruptly. He'd never heard Brandon do that before, he must be really worried about Mike.
There was a sound of someone hitting the door and the guns that had been aimed on the three boys suddenly moved their focus towards the front door.
'Guess your dad got tired of knocking Brandon.'
Brandon nodded. 'He won't get through that, solid steel. Windows are all barred too.'
Johnny glanced round as much as he could without giving the guards a chance to decide that he was making trouble and shoot at him. He saw it too, every possible entrance was covered; no one was getting in here without Stockwell's say so. 'He must have known something like this would happen. He's planned for this.'
'So what now?' Danny asked getting impatient. Johnny was saved from thinking up a good answer as a woman walked forward into the lobby.
'Gentlemen, a pleasure to meet you. My name is Carla.'
'Really.' Danny said with a charming smile, his tone had changed considerably.
Brandon glowered, he was fed up with this situation.
'Well, perhaps you can explain why these men seem to have taken a disliking to us?' Johnny asked, crossing his arms across his chest and smiling unsettlingly.
Carla only smiled pleasantly. 'A security precaution, I'm sure you understand. We don't appreciate unwanted visitors, now if you'll follow Christopher there then I'm sure that you'll get all the answers to your questions.' She turned and walked away, motioning for the guards to lower their weapons.
The three boys were left with the same guard that had welcomed Mike and the others earlier, the one that Nicky had dubbed Igor.
Christopher didn't bother with pleasantries just turned and walked away. With one glance towards the door where all had fallen silent, the three followed him.
Mike had been surprised enough when his brother's voice had come over the intercom and he was surprised when Brandon, Danny and Johnny entered the room.
'Hey man.' Brandon said, Mike looked alright which he supposed was as much he could hope for.
'Hey.' Michael replied looking at all of them.
'Thought we'd tag along, join the party.' Johnny said with a grin.
Stockwell motioned for the three boys to sit, Johnny and Danny did so but Brandon remained standing.
Michael could see the change in his friend, instead of his usual laidback manner, Brandon was tense and seemed ready for a fight.
'Now you're all here, we can begin business.' Stockwell told them, still perched on the edge of the desk.
'Business?' Nicky asked warily.
'Yes.' He gave a furtive smile. 'I have a proposition to put to you all. Michael you said you came here looking for answers. Did you? Maybe really you wanted something more.' He looked over all the kids who were staring dumbly at him.
'I have a job that needs doing and I think you seven are jut the people to do it. Of course you'll be paid and you won't have to worry about travel expenses and such-like.'
Johnny eyed his suspiciously and finally caught onto the meaning of Stockwell's words. 'I see you want a new A-Team is that it? You want more lackeys running around doing your dirty work.'
Stockwell looked at him and raised an eyebrow. 'A new A-Team, yes you could say that is what I had in mind. Each of you possesses your own strengths and characteristics which would prove most useful to me.
Michael, your love of flying, a good pilot would be essential. From what I hear you are an exceptional pilot, close to surpassing your father even.
Nick, your stealth techniques could be enhanced and I know that you'd be excellent in any combat situation. An asset to any team I put together.
Daniel, like your father you're able to get information from just about any source, the Internet in particular.
Maria, persuasive and if you want it then you'll probably get it.
Brandon, you're an outstanding carpenter and just as good a mechanic. Talent like yours would not go unwasted.
And Jonathan, quick thinking and able to make snap decisions. Like your father you're good at getting out of tight situations.'
He looked round at the group. He hadn't mentioned Emily, somehow this didn't make her feel any better.
Nicky looked at the man in the smart suit and decided that he really didn't like him. 'You want us to work for you? And you think I'd be an asset?'
Stockwell said nothing, aware that Nick wasn't finished talking yet. He was interested to see what the youth's response would be. Something about him reminded him of Murdock when he'd decide to challenge his reasoning.
'Guess you forgot to add, hot-headed and stubborn. Those are usually the two things that my father never fails to remind me of. Besides I hate to fly.'
Stockwell smiled knowingly. 'Ah yes you do don't you. Why is that Nick? Because of air sickness as you tell everyone? Or because it was flying that brought your brother so close to your father in a way you never could be?'
Nick nearly choked, this man knew something that he'd never ever told anyone. He licked at his lips nervously and said nothing more.
'You seem to know an awful lot about us General.' Johnny said looking at him dead‑on. 'I take it you think that Emily is not to be part of this team as you didn't mention her.'
Stockwell smiled again and this time it was almost callous. 'On the contrary…'
'He wants to get back at Dad.' Emily said before Stockwell could finish. She was looking right at him, trying to seem unafraid which was far from the truth. 'He never liked Dad and getting at his kids is a pretty fair way to go for revenge. Right?'
Stockwell's smile didn't fade. 'Very astute but not quite the truth. I can see why you skipped a grade. You're very good at seeing what people are really thinking and when they're lying.' Again his eye passed over all of them.
'What I'm offering you is nothing that you haven't though about before. I'm offering you the chance to see the world, to follow in your father's footsteps but you would have one advantage that they never had. You'd be free.'
'Free except that we'd have to do whatever you told us, right?' Johnny asked, beginning to understand why Murdock had been so eager to get here and get Mike out.
'You have the choice, I can't make you. You can get up and leave right now.'
Brandon observed him with doubt and a hint of mistrust. 'Just like that?'
'Just like that.'
Emily looked round at all of them and hoped that they'd take the option of leaving.
Johnny got to his feet. 'I'm sorry but I can't accept your offer, I'm not interested.'
'Really? Not even for the Jazz, Jonathon?'
Johnny paused and then shook his head. 'Not even for that.'
Brandon, Danny, Maria and Nick also rose.
'We don't want to be our fathers.' Nick said.
Stockwell shrugged. 'It's your loss although take a look at yourselves sometime, I think you already are your fathers.'
Emily stood up. 'Lets go home Mike.'
Michael raised his head and looked at all of them and Emily knew that he wasn't coming with them.
Nick saw it too. 'You gotta be kidding me! You're gonna stay here? With him?'
'I'm sorry guys but…I've got to. I can't explain it to you but I have to.'
'You blackmailed him!' Nick yelled. 'What did you say to him? Mike, please.'
Michael only shook his head and remained seated. Emily gulped barely able to keep back tears, she didn't want her brother to get involved with a man she knew was dangerous.
'I assure you that Michael is as free to leave as you are, I have not given him any other reason to stay that I haven't given the rest of you.'
Brandon laid a hand on Nick's shoulder. 'Come on brother.' He said. 'We gotta go.'
Reluctantly Nick went and as soon as the door had shut Stockwell turned to Michael.
'Well, I must say I'm impressed. I didn't think you would want to stay.'
Michael stood, a cold look on his face. 'I came for answers and I'm not leaving until I get them. I didn't say anything about working for you.'
Stockwell smiled. 'No, you didn't but you will.' He went to his desk drawer and pulled out a file, he laid it on the desk.
'Do you know what this is?' When Mike shook his head he continued. 'It's a contract, for you.'
'I'm not working for you.'
'Listen to what I have to say and then decide. 16 years ago I made your father an offer, the choice of getting his friends their pardons, if he did one simple job for me first. But he lied to me, made me think he'd done the job when he hadn't, by then it was too late. At the time there was no way I could retract those pardons. I promised him I would have payment. Kidnapping you was no easy task…'
Michael's head shot up, Stockwell now had his full and undivided attention. 'and it backfired on me. Today I want my payment Michael and I intend to collect it. Now, I know many people in high places, more than I did 16 years ago. And believe me, you will work for me. If you don't then I'll retract the pardons, they'll end up in prison and I'll ensure that your father spends the rest of his life in a mental institution and believe you me there will be no breaking out of this one.'
Michael stared at him and then at the contract.
'Your choice Michael.'
Murdock slammed his fist against the door, BA had tried to break it down but it wouldn't budge. The windows were all barred, there was no way in.
'Maria's 'vette is over there, Nick must have persuaded her to come along. That means Emily is probably with them too.'
'Murdock…we'll get in.' Hannibal said, looking over the house.
BA turned and went back to the van, he opened the rear doors and ripped up the bit of carpeting that had been nailed over where their weapons locker used to be. He opened it and started pulling out guns.
Face and Murdock stared at him in amazement. 'But…I thought we got rid of all the guns.'
'Well we didn't know when we might need them again.' Hannibal said, a gleam in his eye, he was starting to get on the Jazz again and it had been too long since he'd got this kind of Jazz.
Murdock's face also broke into a grin. 'Colonel…you're on the Jazz, aren't ya?'
Hannibal just took a gun and grinned.
Face made a noise of hesitation. 'I...I don't know Hannibal, bursting in there guns blazing, is that the right way to go?'
'He's got our kids!' Murdock exclaimed, checking the chamber on his gun. 'I'm not just gonna stand around out here!'
BA grunted in affirmation. 'No way man, he's gonna pay.'
'He tried to take Mike once, I can't let him do the same again.'
Hannibal nodded. 'He won't Captain.'
Face realised that this was the first time in a very long time that they'd addressed each other by their ranks.
'Let's move out.' Hannibal said. 'Murdock take point, Face left flank, I'll take right flank and BA you take rear guard.'
All nodded their agreement and they spread out, heading for the back. Each slipping into their old roles as if they'd never stopped being the A-Team. Murdock, vaulted the fence, narrowly missing the barbed wire at the top and sure he was gonna regret this in the morning. He wasn't as young as he used to be, jumping a fence is easy enough at 36 but at 54 it's a lot more difficult.
Hannibal, Face and BA were right behind him. And Murdock waited until he heard their feet hit the ground. Then he was on the move again. Ahead he could see the guards on the back door.
He motioned to the guys to come closer and he spoke in a low whisper. 'Two there, there's another three as well.'
Hannibal nodded, easily spotting the guards. 'BA?' He asked.
BA nodded. 'I can take them.'
'Ok, go!' Hannibal sprang up from a crouch and ran the guards, as he created this diversion, Face and Murdock sprang on the other three. BA waded in, punching and throwing people every which way.
Suddenly a guard behind him gave a yell and collapsed to the ground. BA spun round and saw Brandon on the doorstep. He nodded to his father.
Nick ran out, jumping on the back of a guard who was hitting his father. Murdock recovered and hit the guard in the nose. Nick slid off the guy's back and stepped out the way as he crumpled to the ground. He grinned at his father. 'Hey Dad.'
Johnny executed a round house kick in the lead guard's face and sent him sprawling. Two more guards came running out and BA and Brandon instantly went back to back, circling round, gauging the guard's responses.
Maria and Danny leapt into the fray and Emily ducked under one guard's swinging fist and kneed him making him scream with pain. She grabbed hold of his hair and smashed his face into her knee. As he dropped to the ground, Emily saw blood pouring from his nose. 'Oh god, I'm so sorry.' She gasped. 'I didn't mean to hit you that hard.' She knelt down beside him and checked that he was still breathing, terrified that she'd killed him. Satisfied that he was ok, she stood again, sure now that she really wasn't cut out for all this fighting stuff.
They all stood there panting, the guards were on the ground unconscious and the A-Team looked around at their kids.
'Ok.' Murdock said. 'Does no-one listen to me anymore? Cos I seem to remember saying that you, you and you were to stay behind.' Here he pointed at Nick, Emily and Maria in turn.
The three shuffled their feet and avoided his angry glance. Face was also looking at his daughter with an expression of annoyance.
But Murdock's anger vanished in an instant as he saw that Michael wasn't with them. 'Where's Mikey?' There was an urgency in his tone.
Nick swallowed hard, wondering how to tell his father that he'd really screwed things up this time. 'He…uh, he's still in there.'
'Why didn't he come with you? Did you find him?'
Emily looked at her father. 'He didn't want to come with us.'
The look of hurt was stingingly clear on Murdock's face. He turned round and wiped at his face. 'He…he what?'
'We tried to get him to come with us but he wanted to stay.' Danny said, nervous now.
Murdock shook his head and strode for the back door. 'Murdock!' Face called and he and the others ran to catch up with him.
Michael turned as the door the Stockwell's office slammed open and the A-Team entered. Murdock's face was furious and the same emotion was mirrored in the faces of his friends.
'Michael.' Murdock snapped at his son.
Michael laid down the pen with which he'd just signed the contract and rose to his feet. Stockwell remained seated a self-satisfied sneer about his features.
'I'm sorry Dad.' He took a step backwards, nearer to Stockwell.
'Come on Mikey lets go home.'
Michael shook his head and remained where he was.
'I'm sorry Captain but I'm afraid Michael won't be going anywhere with you. He's now in my employ.'
The look of shock on Murdock's face was apparent. 'What?' He asked, staring beseechingly at his son.
'I just signed the contract, I work for General Stockwell now. I can't come home, I've got quarters here, I'll be fine.'
Murdock blinked, he felt as if he was in some surreal nightmare. The other guys had tensed beside him.
'Stockwell stop playing games.' Hannibal said now very worried.
'See for yourself.' Stockwell tossed the contract across the table.
Murdock kept his gaze on his son. 'Michael, you don't have to do this, you can come home, now, with me. We can find a way around this.' His hand gestured in the air. 'I know you're angry and confused right now but we can work this out. Please.'
Michael looked at him and right there he wanted nothing more than to go home and make peace with his father. But Stockwell's words rang in his ears. 'I'm sorry.'
'Now if you don't mind I have business to attend to.' Stockwell pressed a button the desk and two guards entered the room.
BA growled under his breath but Hannibal raised his hand motioning for him to leave it. Face took Murdock's arm.
'Come on.' Murdock didn't reply just let himself be walked out the door by Face, his eyes never leaving Michael's.
'Nick hand me that wrench will you?' Murdock asked, half of him buried in the inner workings of his plane.
Nick rummaged around and pulled out a wrench and handed it to his father. 'Any word?' He asked quietly.
Murdock paused in what he was doing and pulled himself out of the belly of the plane. 'No, no word.' At first there had been postcards, nothing written on them except his name. Michael had let his family know that he was safe and each postcard showed a new location. Murdock wasn't sure he could stand to think what kind of work Stockwell would have Michael doing in those sort of places.
To begin with the Team had followed the lead that each postcard had produced. But soon enough they realised it was a futile effort. Michael had vanished into Stockwell's world and unless he wanted to be found then he was going to stay there.
The Californian air was warm as Michael stood watching the last remnants of the sun sink beneath the horizon. The sea was calm and the air filled with the sounds of people moving about in the street below his apartment.
He was very close to home now, closer than he had been in a whole year. He stood on the balcony his gaze fixed on the window of an apartment across the street much like his own.
For twelve months he'd been tracking one man, living and breathing his very existence as if it were his own. He knew the man's routine inside out, Michael would never get to meet him but knew him as intimately as if he were his closest friend.
The assignment that Stockwell had set for him had been demanding, he'd had to learn a great deal and in a very short space of time. Often his thoughts would stray to his family and friends and he would wonder what they were doing. That life seemed strange and dreamlike to him now. He felt as if he'd spent a lifetime as an agent.
The door behind him opened and another young man entered. Joseph Marshall was shorter than Michael but only just, his hair was jet black and his eyes piercing blue. He was only a year or so older than Michael and had been recruited by Stockwell at thirteen. On meeting him his way with women had instantly reminded Michael of Danny.
'Here ya go.' Joseph said, handing Michael a cup of coffee. 'How's he doing over there?'
Michael gave a wry smile. 'Oh very well, you should see the blond he's with.'
Joseph's eyes lit up and he crossed to the laptop which gave them audio and visual contact through the bug that Michael had planted in the target's apartment.
'Just spoke to the General.' Michael said as Joseph tilted his head in a failed attempt to get a better look at the woman. 'Hey, man you listening?'
'What?' Joseph asked, tearing his eyes away from the screen.
'I said I spoke to the General. We're moving in on him tomorrow. He's gonna brief us tonight.'
Joseph nodded and joined Michael on the balcony. 'How you feeling? This is your first isn't it?'
Michael just shrugged and put his hands in his pockets. 'Haven't really thought about it. I just follow orders Joseph you know that.'
The other man rocked back on his heels and gave a low laugh. 'That's right, the General's golden boy.'
'I wouldn't say that, he just made me an offer I couldn't refuse and now he's keeping an extra special eye on me to make sure I come up with the goods.'
Joseph laughed quietly. 'He makes everyone an offer they can't refuse Mikey, that's how he gets his men. Blackmail. He has this knack for knowing our darkest secrets and then using them to get what he wants. What'd he get you with?'
Michael looked out at the setting sun and said quietly, 'My father.'
Michael looked at him. 'You sound surprised.'
'No, not really, I figure he'll stoop to any level but still, that's pretty rough. What about your father? If you don't mind me asking.'
Michael sighed and then looked at him. 'You seem pretty keen to share today.'
Joseph's face was expressionless. 'Keeps my mind off what I know I've got to do tomorrow.'
'Yeah, I guess it does.' Michael was silent for a moment. 'He threatened to put my father away, my dad used to work for him a long time ago, I'm doing the job he never finished.'
Joseph's expression was one of shock. 'You mean…your dad is the guy who lied about killing this guy? He was the one who was given the original assignment of assassinating him?'
'Jesus Christ. You know that Stockwell hates your dad with a passion don't you? He gets a nasty look in his eye whenever his or his friend's names are mentioned.'
'So he's still a talking point then.'
Joseph laughed. 'Are you kidding me, everyone here knows how the General managed to get hold of the A-Team in the late eighties, right before they got their pardons. Your father and Stockwell never got along, they hated each other.'
Michael didn't reply to that, he wished Joseph would just change the subject, things were hard enough as it was without being reminded how he'd been the last to know about his father's past. He wondered how his father would feel if he knew what it was that Michael was going to be doing tomorrow, if he knew that he was about to take a human life in cold blood.
BA growled at Murdock. 'What'd you bring me down here for fool? Better not be putting me on a plane!'
Murdock shushed BA and looked round at the group assembled before him. 'No, I didn't get ya down here to fly.'
'Then what?' The large man demanded. He hated being at the airfield, brought back too many memories of times when he'd been doped by the team and then put on a plane. He was edgy, they'd better not try anything.
'If you'll just shut up you mean mudsucker I'll tell you!' Murdock argued, getting impatient. 'This is important, now shut up I don't want to duct tape you to get you to be quiet.'
'I'll duct tape you sucker!' BA moved menacingly towards the pilot.
Hannibal put a hand on BA's shoulder and Brandon put a hand on his chest. 'Take it easy BA.'
'Yeah Dad, you're not gonna be flying anywhere, I wouldn't let them do that.'
BA growled. 'Well get on with it then.'
'I will as soon as Nick gets back. He's vanished. Em, did you see where he went?'
Emily looked round. 'No, he just…' Her voice was drowned out by the roar of engines as an aeroplane passed overhead. BA began to look even more uneasy.
The plane looped the loop, did a nose dive and then pulled back up, looped again and then went into a 180 degree roll. Murdock was captivated, he stared at the plane. 'Who is that?' He looked at the group and decided he'd better find Nick. 'Wait here, I'll go get Nick. Nobody move.' He ran off over the tarmac towards the main building. Nick might have gone to get a coffee.
As he opened the door the busy sounds of pilots talking to each other filled his ears. He searched round and didn't find his son. 'Hey Jonesy.' He called to his friend. 'You seen Nicky?'
Jonesy smirked and pointed out the window to the airfield. 'Try out there.'
'No I looked he's not there.'
Jonesy just smirked again. 'Come on man, you must have seen him by now, everyone else has. Always gotta show off that boy of yours.'
Murdock frowned not understanding and then he looked back out at the airfield where the plane was still looping and diving. He frowned. 'No, you're not serious, he's not…'
Jonesy just grinned. 'Good isn't he.'
'My Nick? Flying? He hates flying.'
'Well not anymore. Wanted it to be a surprise for you, judging from the look on your face it certainly is.'
'You can say that again.' Murdock murmured, looking back out at the plane. A grin spread across his face. 'He is good.'
'Yeah you wanna be careful, I've only seen one person that good and that was…' Jonesy stopped himself just in time.
'Michael.' Murdock finished for him and was reminded why he'd come looking for Nicky in the first place. 'I'll catch ya later Jonesy.'
Jonesy waved him off laughing. Murdock ran up the steps to the control tower and approached one of the girls. 'Hey Marcia, my boy's up there, think I could have a word?'
Marcia smiled. 'Sure Captain, he's pretty impressive for a guy who hates to fly. Say how old is he again.'
Murdock laughed. 'Way too young for you girl.' He took the mic and spoke into it. 'Control to…' He paused and looked back at Marcia.
'951.' She said. Murdock grinned and patted her shoulder in thanks.
'Control to 951 come in.'
An ear-splitting howl answered him and Murdock's grin widened.
'951 receiving loud and clear. You should take a look at these clouds girlies, they are booo-ti-ful! Hey that one looks like a sheep!'
Murdock chuckled. 'Nicholas Murdock, what do you think you're doing?'
There was a stunned silence on the other end. 'Dad?' Nick asked.
'That's me. Now come on son, you're showing me up out there.'
'Yeah, yeah. You sound like you're enjoying yourself. Thank heavens for that, I was beginning to think you were BA's kid instead of mine the noises you always made about flying.'
'Well…I was wrong…this is fantastic.' Nick whooped again.
Murdock shook his head. 'Ok well you can explain yourself down on the ground Nick, I need you down here now.' A worried look crossed his face. 'You do know how to land don't you?'
A laugh came over the microphone. 'Yes, Dad I know how to land. Jonesy ain't that bad a teacher.'
Murdock grinned again reminding himself to have words with Jonesy. 'I'm gonna hand ya over to Marcia now kid, she'll talk you in. Go careful out there, no daredevil tricks, I've got a reputation to uphold.'
'You got it Captain.'
Still laughing Murdock handed the microphone back to Marcia and walked out of the control room. He headed back out onto the field keeping a careful eye on Nick's plane as he did. He didn't relax until he saw the plane land and taxi down the runway. He let out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding as soon as the plane rolled to stop and then shook his head. Nick had executed a near perfect landing, Murdock was pleasantly surprised, Nick was as good if not better than Michael and Michael had been damn good.
He jogged back to the group. 'Did you find him Dad?'
'I found him Em, you'll never guess where.'
Emily shrugged and Murdock pointed out to the plane which had just landed. Emily's eyes widened and she gasped.
'Yes way.' Murdock said nodding. 'That was him up there.'
'Flying? Nick? Are you sure?'
Murdock chuckled. 'Perfectly.'
BA growled. 'He was my last hope for someone normal.'
Murdock just grinned and shrugged. 'What can I say, he's my boy.'
Nick came running up, he ruffled his sister's hair and took Murdock's cap right off his head and plonked it on his. Murdock instantly took it off his son's head and put it back in its rightful place, on his own head. Nick retaliated and took it back. Murdock decided to let it go, he didn't have time to play games, he had important news.
He took a deep breath. 'I think I know where Mike is.'
There was stunned silence as the group took in his words.
Michael knocked on Stockwell's office door and waited, he wondered what the General wanted to see him for, the briefing wasn't supposed to be for another couple of hours at the next shift changeover.
A voice from within told him to enter and he obeyed. Stepping inside the office he was once again blown away by just how big it was. Stockwell never did things by half's.
He approached the desk with uneasiness, Stockwell was standing at the large window that ran the full width of the wall with his back to Michael.
'You wanted to see me Sir?'
Stockwell turned around and favoured Michael with a complacent smile. 'Yes, sit down son. There's been a slight change in plan.' He laughed lightly. 'There's no need to look so worried, you haven't done anything wrong. On the contrary I've been very impressed with your work. You have a natural talent for shadowing.'
Michael didn't allow Stockwell to see just how this comment unnerved him. 'Thank you Sir.' He said graciously trying not to fidget.
'Now, I want to see just how well you perform, I'm eagerly awaiting tomorrow, I'm sure you will surpass yourself and show us your true talents. But, as I said before there has been a change of plans. Joseph will not be accompanying you tomorrow, you will be undertaking the mission alone, his presence is no longer require here.'
Michael felt a chill go down his spine at the words, Stockwell had overheard their conversation. As he suspected he was being monitored closely night and day. He hoped that whatever he decided to do with Joseph wasn't too harsh. He liked the guy and had thought of him as a friend. Apparently Stockwell didn't felt the same way.
Michael was finding this more and more commonplace. If Stockwell felt in anyway threatened or found out that one of his agents had been a little too free and easy with the information he gave away then he would simply make that agent disappear as if he had never been. Michael was constantly on his guard not to offend the general in any way. No matter what Joseph might think, as far as Stockwell was concerned, Michael was as expendable as the rest of them.
'I hope this doesn't cause a problem for you Michael, I would hate to
find that your services are no longer of use to me.' His eyes met Michael's and the youth could see the threat in
them. Do things his way or not at
all. And not at all would not mean
going home, not at all would mean being buried six foot deep somewhere where no
one would ever find him again.
'What do you mean you know where Mike is?' Emily asked, the hope on her face was almost too much for Murdock to bear. He pulled his daughter into a hug.
'I know where he is.' There was a hint of a laugh in his voice.
'Now Murdock just slow down.' Hannibal said worriedly. 'We've looked all over, followed every lead and nothing. What makes you so sure that you've found him now.'
'Fool's crazy.' BA muttered. 'He's really lost it this time.'
'No!' Murdock protested, the force of his words making Emily flinch. 'This isn't about me being crazy, I'm not imagining this. I know where he is!'
Nick chewed thoughtfully on a thumbnail and looked at his father. 'But…I thought you said he didn't want to be found and that if he didn't want to be found then you couldn't find him. So if Mike doesn't want to be found how do you think you've found him?' He stopped thoroughly confused now.
Emily looked up at her father as confused as everyone else.
'He found a way of communicating with me. Stockwell's been monitoring him, his calls, his letter, everything. But he got a friend to slip a letter through.' He pulled an envelope out of his pocket. 'He sent me this, he's here in California guys. I know it.'
BA still looked doubtful as did Face. Hannibal held out his hand for the letter and Murdock gave it to him.
'No, I don't buy it.' Nick said. 'This could just be Stockwell yanking on your chain. You said yourself that you guys hated each other. Stockwell's got one up on you and he'd never pass up this chance to lord it over you and make you go on a wild goose chase.'
Murdock shot a look at his son. 'You want your brother back or not Nick?'
'Hey! I didn't say that! I just don't get why Mike would write now, a year later.'
Murdock looked towards his friends for help but BA's face showed only reservations and Face, leaning over Hannibal's shoulder to read the letter, was shaking his head.
'Can we at least look?'
'Murdock, I'm agreeing with Nick here, why would he write and he makes no mention of where he is. We've had things like this before, now I understand why you're so keen to do this but…he's gone. You have to face up to that sooner or later.'
'I don't believe this! You're not prepared to do this for me, for Mike? Does it matter how I know?'
'Yes.' Hannibal said handing him back the letter. 'And until you can give me a good reason why we should go chasing after him again then I'm not prepared for anymore heartbreak. For you, Kelly or the kids.'
Murdock sighed and nodded. 'Fair enough. You want a reason, I'll give you a reason. Stockwell's got him doing the job that I was supposed to do.'
'What job? Hannibal, he's lost it.' BA's brow was furrowed, he didn't like the way Murdock was talking and he liked the effect it was having on Nick and Em even less.
'How the hell do you guys think you got your pardons in the first place? Because you'd been good little boys and went to bed at the right time and did as Daddy told you?'
Hannibal regarded him carefully and then looked at Nick. He made a motion with his head. Nick nodded.
'Come on Em, let's go get a drink.' He took his sister by the arm and led her away.
Murdock sat down on the steps to the plane and closed his eyes. 'He made me an offer. Do this job for him and you'd get your pardons.'
'What job and why didn't you tell us this before?' Face asked, joining BA in thinking that Murdock had finally gone crazy on them again.
'I had to kill this guy but I didn't do it. I faked it and he gave you your pardons and by the time he found out it was too late. Why do you think he kidnapped Michael in the first place after he was born? Huh? To get back at me, to take what he termed as his 'payment' but we got Mikey back and he just waited then. He knew one day that one of my kids was sure to come around looking for answers. I tried to keep them out of it, I thought if they knew nothing about our past then they'd be safe. A right royal mess I made of that. I drove Mike away. But, guys,' Here he looked up at them. 'I do know where he is and I can get him back.'
Hannibal was quiet, thinking. BA and Face were stunned into silence. There was not a sound from any of them for a long time until finally Hannibal spoke.
'Well Captain, I don't understand why you didn't tell us this before. But whatever the reasons you seem sure you know where Michael is. I think it's time we moved out don't you guys?' He looked at them.
Face nodded. 'Yeah, I'm up for it.'
BA thought for a moment. 'So long as we don't have to fly.' Murdock, unable to help himself, he jumped up and hugged him.
'Thanks big guy!' Behind him there was a squeal of brakes and a black van came to a stop. Three guys and a girl jumped out. They stood there and regarded their parents calmly. Johnny stepped forward.
'When do we leave?'
Hannibal grinned at his son and turned to Murdock. 'Well, guess we've got company. What do you say?'
'How's right now?' Murdock asked. 'And Brandon, get your van off my tarmac.' He grinned and Brandon saluted.
'Ain't your tarmac sucker.' BA protested.
'It's part mine.' Murdock shot back as Nicky and Emily came running up.
'When do we go?' Nick asked excitedly echoing Johnny's words.
'Now.' Murdock said. 'And we'll talk later about keeping family business within the family.'
'They are family.'
Murdock smiled and actually hugged Nick. 'Take good care of your Mom while we're gone Emily.'
'Sorry Dad, I'm along for the ride. Wild horses couldn't keep me away.'
'Emily, I don't want you there.'
'Maria's going!' Her eyes gleamed and Murdock sensed that for once she was going to argue the point.
'I don't care, she's older than you are.'
'I'm going Dad. He's my brother.'
Murdock smiled at her. 'Yes and you're my daughter and you will do exactly what I tell you. Now go get in the car, I'll drop you off on the way.'
Emily leaned over and kissed his cheek. 'Love you Daddy.' Then she got in the van. Murdock just stood there his mouth open.
'Emily!' But Brandon's van was already on the move and his protests went unheard. 'Kelly's gonna kill me for this.' He muttered before following BA and the others.
'Nick stop staring at me.' Emily protested. 'Geez, I can make my own decisions. So, I stood up to Dad for once, big deal.'
'You…you always do as your told, always.'
'Em, are you sure you want to come along, you know how you hate violence and there could be plenty of that.' Danny said.
'Which means you'll need someone to look out for you.' Emily wasn't budging, she missed her older brother terribly and had hated it every time she'd seen her father go off in search of him without her. This time was going to be different, this time they were going to find him and she was going to be there.
'Murdock, so she didn't do what you told her to do, you knew it was going to happen sometime.' Face patted his shoulder comfortingly.
'But she always does what I tell her to do, always! And the next thing I know she'll be dating and bringing boys home and going out places and I won't know where.'
'They've all got to grow up sometime Captain.' Hannibal said from the front.
'I know, I know but does she have to do it so fast? She's still my little girl.' Murdock sniffed and then pulled himself together, he could worry about Emily growing up later. First he had a son to find.
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