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Author: Principally Fingers although some of the writing / ideas for this are by Sara Highum (Huffy). Before she moved away from the net, we both wrote a lot of this universe up in draft format, so our ideas merged. I have written the final drafts on this. A lot of the dialogue in this part comes from a piece written by Sara, its not exactly how she left it with me but ..
Story Warnings: Off screen violence, Het sex (consensual), M/M thoughts and some minor touching , character death (non-graphic and NOT a team member), one use of a very, very bad word, Alternate Universe
Disclaimer: The A-Team does not belong to me or Sara. SJC and / or Top Cow owns them, being the good little information post grad I am I will put them back on the shelf, alphabetised and in Dewey order when I've finished with them. Oh and there is a scene that may or may not be directly inspired by another TV series - of course again I don't own the rights.
Original characters / situations and all the original (i.e. the history not established in the show canon) back history of the main canon characters (Hannibal, Stockwell and Face in particular) in all of the Sins stories are the creation and intellectual property of Sara Highum and Fingers. If you want to use it in a story of your own, please ask before doing so.
Monday, early morning
"Are you all right, darling?"
Murdock sat upright and gripped his chest to try to slow his breathing. "What?"
Amy rubbed Murdock's back to comfort him and ease his tense shoulders. "I asked if you were okay. You were moaning in your sleep." She paused and then asked, "A nightmare?"
Murdock, still confused and full of adrenaline, wiped a hand over his brow and felt the sweat there. "Nightmare?" He shrugged his shoulders as if that would shrug away the images of the hands reaching for him. His ears tingled with the fading voices as they urged him to ... Murdock tried to remember what they'd asked him to do but as fast as he reached for the dream, the hands dissolved away into nothingness and the voices faded into the hum of the air conditioner.
Amy began rubbing the spot that she knew always relaxed him. She murmured disappointment when he shrugged her off and then gripped her hands. "HM? Are you sure you're okay?"
Murdock looked down at the covers, "No, I don't know, I..." Finally coming back to himself, he shook himself and let go of Amy's wrists. "Sorry, I don't know, my mind, I... Sorry did I disturb you?"
Amy smiled as she drew her lover back into the bed, "Not really. I guess you must have still been thinking about our conversation last night; it's a big decision."
Murdock worked himself out of her suddenly too tight embrace and then apologised, "Gotta go to the bathroom." As he stood, he continued, "I need to get some air and Billy needs a walk."
Hiding her disappointment, Amy commented, "Okay. Don't be too long, I need to be up fairly early and you know I hate getting up when you're asleep."
Murdock turned from getting his bathrobe from where it had been discarded the night before; he nodded and replied, "Okay. I'll probably stay up; when I was looking through Maggie's videos last night, I saw a Bugs Bunny I haven't seen for a while."
Amy yawned. "Okay, darling, see you at breakfast."
Murdock wrapped his robe around him and moved into the hallway, quietly shutting the bedroom door behind him. A small noise coming from downstairs made him still, his ears trying to find familiar rhythms. Murdock felt his body relax when he recognised Maggie's pacing. He padded downstairs.
Amy lay back down again and drew the covers over her. 'It shouldn't be like this.' For a few seconds Amy indulged her dream of babies and a peaceful, settled life with Murdock. But, just like Murdock, the daydream refused to stay still and quickly vanished from her mind. Amy sighed loudly and ran her fingers over the rapidly cooling spot in the bed where he'd been. He'd been physically present. Amy smiled at that; she had him physically but mentally, mentally it was as if nothing had changed from the days when they first knew each other. He'd never outgrow the invisible dogs and the wee people and the nightmares and his strange oddball passions. Amy sighed out loud as the thought crossed her mind about the one passion he'd never outgrow. "God, Stephen is so right. Why do I delude myself? He'll never give him up. I'll never be the first one to give him a child." Amy clutched the pillow that still carried the scent of his cologne, "At least the only woman he ever had any real feeling for is dead. No competition there, Allen. The only competition you have to worry about is Templeton Peck and he's in Florida."
Amy turned to the matter uppermost in her mind, her career. She switched on the bedside light, reached down, and brought out her day planner to review her appointments in Washington. She idly wondered if she would have time to touch base with Stephen on this trip. Soon Amy turned to reviewing the comprehensive biographical notes about her upcoming interviewees. As she turned the pages, Amy smiled. 'It's good to have influential contacts.'
Maggie listened to the night time creaks and groans of the house and glanced at the clock, 3 am, she really ought to join John in her bed but then she remembered he had left last night after an emergency summons from Stephen in DC. Her eyes went to the Rolodex on her desk; it stood open accusingly at the Florida number that had mysteriously appeared in a typed envelope ten days ago. Her fingers twitched. Maggie sighed and looked at the clock, it would be early still there, too. She sat down in her desk chair and rested her head in her hands; she wondered what to do, John was being of no help whatsoever. BA, after his revelation, had distanced himself from the whole affair by going to Chicago. Amy was being of little help either and, well, Murdock... She sighed deeply as she thought of Murdock; ever since that night in the hospital three - or was it four or even five - weeks ago? Murdock had continued to look as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
"Thinking of calling her, aren't you?"
Maggie started and whirled around at the sound of the voice, her empty coffee cup flying as her hands knocked it from the desk. Clutching her chest she hissed, "Honestly, Murdock! Don't any of you ever knock?"
Murdock padded into the room, his bare feet making little sound on the polished wooden floors. "Sorry. Occupational hazard."
Maggie looked at the tired looking man in front of her and tried to smile, "It's okay; you're forgiven." She bent down to pick her cup off the floor and gestured to the coffee machine that she had set bubbling away earlier. "Seeing as you're up, you might as well have some coffee."
Murdock eyed her speculatively and said, "Shouldn't you be sending me back to bed, doc?"
Maggie sat down and shook her head, "I know you too well. I saw you eyeing that Bugs Bunny video."
Murdock grinned faintly as he moved over to the coffee machine; he answered with a question of his own. "How come you're not in bed?"
Maggie held her cup up for a refill and sighed, "Got a lot of paperwork to do."
Murdock sat down in front of the desk and shook his head as if he disbelieved her but didn't say anything.
As she sipped at her coffee, Maggie assessed Murdock, this was the first time in days she'd had had a break from both routine and emergency work in her practice. Even allowing for the fact that it was 3 in the morning he looked terrible. He had at least three days' growth of beard on him and there were dark circles under his eyes. The eyes were bloodshot and he looked exhausted. She suspected he had not slept properly since everything had happened, but she knew better than to ask. He would just and deny it. "Lose your razor?"
Murdock didn't reply for a second, he seemed to be concentrating on the lazy circles that the dissolving milk made in the coffee. Eventually he looked up, startled. "What? Oh, sorry, I zoned there for a second. No, I didn't lose it; I just haven't gotten around to it. Don't tell Amy I zoned. She'll get all worked up over it. She thinks I do it on occasion just to tune her out."
"I don't know; ok maybe a little. It's not her fault though. She just has lousy timing. Here I feel like my world is ripping apart at the seams and I'm helpless to do anything about it." Murdock paused and wiped a hand over his eyes, the conversation, or rather Amy's monologue, in the car on the trip up came back to him. He looked at Maggie, and knew that she; Face, and Richter were the only ones who would understand. 'Well, the other two are unavailable.' Murdock commented quietly, "Meanwhile, she is acting happy as a clam and suddenly starts talking about getting married and having a family. I just can't deal with that right now."
Maggie looked up sharply from her coffee and nodded; she could guess why he had problems dealing with that issue right now. Her eyes narrowed as the memory of the shock she felt when BA had revealed all that he had observed between Murdock and Face over the years. BA's voice, "Not of Face, Maggie, of Frog. I think Murdock thinks or knows she's done what he wants to do", still rang in her mind. Maggie flicked her eyes at Murdock and sighed internally; despite his initial hasty and enthusiastic denial at the hospital that night, his actions since, including driving all the way up here whenever Amy was going away, indicated a man not totally at ease with himself. Now that she knew what to look for, Maggie had spent her spare moments looking back on her memories of the team and she smiled at how obvious and mutual the feelings were when she knew how to look at a situation the 'right' way. Maggie shook her head slightly to clear it; past feelings and future desires weren't really on the agenda right now. It had been four weeks since Face and Ellen had left and she needed to know that he was all right. The insecurity and worry she felt reminded her of another time. Then she threw herself into her work; she couldn't escape like that now, not with this strange extended family she'd become a part of. Her throat began to tighten as she thought about the past. 'Come on, Sullivan, you told yourself you would never go back there - no promised yourself. Once the decision was made, the decision was made.' Before she eased the lock on the closed door of those memories, she turned away slightly from the subject and asked Murdock, "Speaking of family, spoken to Jane recently?"
Murdock's face brightened and then fell a little, "Yeah. Yesterday, before we came up. For a change she called. Seems to be fine. Sounds almost back to normal." Murdock grinned sadly at the almost bereft look on Maggie's face, "She apologises for not calling you but she's been on a forced tour of the relatives; they've kept her busy."
Maggie nodded, disappointed, and then, alert to the wistful, regretful tone in Murdock's voice asked, "Is she flying out soon to see you?"
Murdock sighed and shook his head, "No, she doesn't know when she'll be able to fly. She says the docs have told her not to for a while yet." Murdock paused and then said wistfully, "Wish she wasn't all the way over there."
Maggie queried, "If the mountain isn't able to come to Mohammed, Mohammed should consider going to the mountain, you know? John says you're all on extended leave. I'm sure Amy would love a trip to England."
Murdock picked at a loose thread in his robe and said reluctantly, "Nice try, Maggie, but it won't work. Amy's far too busy in Washington these days; she's going back tomorrow, in fact. I don't think I'd get much of a welcome anyway."
Maggie smiled. "She'll be all right; she's just too much like her parents. When she knows she's in the wrong, she keeps her head down."
Murdock put the coffee down and asked wearily, "Why should she think she's in the wrong Maggie?"
Maggie shuffled some files on her desk. After a few moments of accusing silence from Murdock she commented, "Well, the arguments that night. I mean what truly went on?"
Murdock concentrated on a small drip running down the side of his mug and wiped it away carefully; at last he looked up. His brown eyes wide and beseeching, he asked, " Maggie, if I tell you something, will it go any further?" He waited until Maggie shook her head and then continued, "I, I don't remember much of what happened. It was too much like, like, I was, things went past me and before I knew it both of them were gone." Murdock put his coffee down, "At least in the old days Patrick or Billy or, or would be here to help me figure a way out of it."
Maggie asked, "Patrick?"
Murdock sighed and got up from his chair. "One of the dearly lamented wee people, Maggie." Murdock glanced at the clock and pointedly said, "4 am. Just about breakfast time in Florida." After a few moments, he commented, "You'd better do it Maggie, you know you'll keep your temper better than Hannibal or me. And I think you're the only person Face knows not to con - that is, if you get to speak to him."
Maggie looked at the Rolodex in front of her and sighed. "Maybe we should leave it to him or Ellen to get back in touch."
Murdock laid a hand on Maggie's tense shoulder, "Please Maggie, do this for me. I, I need..." Murdock paused and then shook his head. "I need to watch that Bugs Bunny video." He waited until she nodded and then moved through to the lounge, his sharp ears noting the careful click of the phone.
He lay down on the sofa and leaned his head back in relief after what seemed an eternity when he heard the words, "Ellen? Hi, it's Maggie. Umm I just thought I'd call to see how you both were doing. Yeah we all miss you, too."
Ellen placed the phone carefully back on its hook and stared at it for a little while, her brow creasing as she thought of what she should do next, if anything. The sound of a door opening upstairs woke her from her thoughtful reverie. Moving to the bottom of the stairs, she called out worriedly, "Richard are you all right, do you need any help?"
Ellen relaxed when a weak voice came back, "No, I'm okay, just need to go the bathroom." The bolt on the bathroom door slid home confirming to her that he had made it all right. Ellen's eyes involuntarily flicked to the reminder note stuck on notice board near to the front door. 'Dr Abernathy 3pm 18th. HIS OFFICE.' She sighed as she realised that was more than ten days away. Not for the first time, she wondered at the man's competency. He had insisted at his last examination of Richard that everything would be fine and that all Richard needed was some good old fashioned rest and recuperation. Which would be fine but he wasn't getting any rest; she'd seen the nightmares and even the sleep he got through without a nightmare was punctuated with dreams that made him writhe and moan. Ellen thinned her lips with worry as she went upstairs and knocked on the closed bathroom door. "Richard, do you want something for breakfast?"
Inside the bathroom, perched precariously on the side of the tub, Face didn't feel hungry, but knew Ellen would start fussing again if he didn't have something, he searched for something that he could have, something that wouldn't make his stomach heave at the smell of it. "Can I have some hot chocolate, Ellen?"
Ellen nodded to herself and then put a smile she didn't feel into her voice, 'at least it had some sugar and protein in it.' "Yeah sure. Do you want it in your room or out on the patio? It's a lovely day."
Face looked at his trembling fingers and wondered if he had energy to walk to the patio and then decided it was better than sitting in his bedroom. He shivered involuntarily; the bedroom contained his nightmares and bad dreams. 'Why won't they go away? I should be happy here, with my family.' He looked up when he heard Ellen's worried voice come through the door. He replied quickly, "Sorry Ellen. Umm the patio. I'll be out in a few." Once he heard Ellen's footsteps move away down the hall, he stood up shakily and quickly finished washing. Running a hand over the blond whiskers on his face he wondered whether to shave and then, noticing again how badly his hands were shaking, he decided against it. 'I wonder what I'll look like with a beard?' he asked himself.
Ellen loaded the breakfast dishes onto a tray and called out, "Richard, everything's ready. I'll be outside." She waited until she heard the bathroom door open and then went outside; she'd learned pretty quickly that her brother didn't appreciate her fussing too much over him. Putting the tray on the table, she sat down and began going through the mail that had been forwarded from California. She'd been so busy with Richard the day before she hadn't had a chance to look at it until now. It was only at this point that she began to wonder how Maggie had got hold of the phone number but then shrugged her shoulders; nothing surprised her much with the Team anymore. She looked up as she heard the shuffling gait of her brother. She didn't comment at the wearied, ashen and whisker covered expression that was on his face. Instead she smiled. "Hi there. Sleep okay? I didn't hear you up in the night."
Face reached for the mug of hot chocolate and sipped at it very slowly. He looked at her over the top of the mug and then tried to change the subject. "Nice day."
Face's gaze moved into the middle distance. "I didn't take it."
"What?" Ellen leaned forward, "But Dr Abernathy...."
Face put the mug down, picked up one of the discarded envelopes, and began to fold and tear it into small pieces. "Pills won't stop them; they won't stop them, Ellen."
Ellen moved over to comfort her brother. Holding him tightly she stroked his hair and smiled slightly when his arms went around her and his head rested on her chest. It was the closest that Richard had allowed her to be since they'd gotten home. He tended to keep his bedroom door shut and had shouted at her once when she'd woken him from a nightmare. Holding him like this made her feel as though she was the older one. She cursed AJ for abandoning him as a child, and then dying and leaving her to pick up the pieces. 'Damn him and damn Murdock and Hannibal.' She said softly, persuasively, "Richard, you need the rest. The nightmares only seem worse because you are so tired. Dr Abernathy only prescribed it because he thought it might help you. They are only dreams, they can't hurt you."
Face shook his head in disbelief, and pressed himself further into the embrace as the memories of the pain, incoherent shouting, and whirlwind images began to cycle through his brain again. As a last defence against the return of the feelings of fear, abandonment, rejection, and pain, he asked, "The phone call, who was it? Do you have to go into work today?"
Ellen ruffled his hair and smiled faintly. "No, I told you last night, I'm working from home for the rest of the week. I won't leave you alone. What do you want for lunch?" Ellen had hoped that Richard's loose concentration of the last few days wouldn't have alerted him to the fact of the phone call.
Face frowned as his brain tried to process the information, the lack of restful sleep slowed down his thought processes so much. He pulled himself away from Ellen and demanded, "The phone call, it woke me up, who was it?"
Ellen using a free hand dragged a chair over and sat down. She held onto her brother's hands and squeezed them. 'For whose comfort?' she wondered silently. After a few moments, "It was Maggie. She was wondering how we both were."
Face nodded, he should have guessed it was. He only wondered that it had taken this long for her to call. He instantly regretted the remark, it wasn't Maggie's fault; she wasn't there. If it was anybody's fault it was... Face looked up and realised that Ellen was waiting for him to speak. He smiled weakly and commented, "That's nice of her. Was she okay? The Team okay?"
Ellen nodded, "They're all okay. Maggie said BA was in Chicago visiting his momma, of course. Hannibal's gone to DC for a meeting with Stephen, but Murdock arrived with Amy last night." She paused to see Richard's reaction to her news and scowled internally as she saw the little flinch come as she finished.
Face concentrated on the list and noticed there was someone missing from it. He asked, "Did she mention Jane? Is she okay? Is Murdock looking after her okay?"
Ellen shook her head, "No she didn't." 'I didn't ask either.' Ellen knew from the odd call she'd made to Amy that Jane had been in England all this time. She commented, "You remember I told you that she wanted to go right back to England don't you?"
Face nodded and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, I remember. Sorry, I'm just so tired, Ellen."
Ellen reached forward and stroked the lank hair back. "What do you want to do this morning? Why don't you take a bath and I'll make your bed. Bet you've kicked your covers off again haven't you?"
Face nodded, content to let Ellen care for him. He knew that Ellen cared for him unconditionally, not like Hannibal or Murdock who said that they did but when it came to the crunch ... He squeezed his eyes tight shut as he tried to shut out the memories of the fists coming towards his face. He tried to banish them, but they only merged into the rest of the memories that clamoured for attention in his brain, memories of being chased and attacked and shot and, and... He cried out softly as he looked down and saw Hannibal looking up with a rifle in his hands. "No...."
Ellen was disturbed to see the colour drain out of her brother's face and then he moaned as though he was in great pain. She shook him gently, "Richard? Richard, are you okay?"
Face heard the voice calling him back to the real world. He followed it as fast as he could.
Ellen took a breath in as the lacklustre blue eyes snapped open and their gaze ripped into her. "Richard?"
Face took a deep breath, and then rubbed a hand over his face. It was only 7 am and he wanted to go back to bed. He wanted to sleep and to rest and to forget and to start a new life; his old life was over, he knew that now. Over and done with. "I'll think about the sleeping pill, if I get some rest today, I might not need it."
Ellen nodded, it was a victory of sorts. She said, "Why don't you call her back?"
Face delayed for a little and said, "Call who back?" he took a sip of his now cooling chocolate.
"Maggie. I've got her number."
Face stiffened and tried to keep his voice from shaking with emotion as he said, "Ellen, I know her number, too. If I wanted to call her I would. And I don't want you to call her either. You are my family, I don't need them, just you. I'll be back on my feet in no time if I can get some rest." Face paused and then looking down at himself he said, "I want a bath."
Ellen nodded, stood up, and offered an arm to her brother. "Come on then, brother. While you're soaking, I'll make you another hot chocolate seeing as that one's gone cold."
Levering himself out of his chair, Face gave Ellen a smile. "Thanks. I'm sure with your care, I'll be all right soon."
Ellen smiled back, "Sure; all you need is some rest." Face nodded and let Ellen guide him into the house.
Amy made her way through the crowded concourse of the airport, pulling her carryon behind her. She stopped in her tracks when she heard her name being called out over the loudspeaker. She looked around for the information booth specified and walked briskly over to it. Amy spoke to the woman manning the booth. "You paged me?"
The woman began to ask, "Your...."
A male voice interrupted, "Actually Amy, it was me!"
Amy whirled around to greet the grey haired man who had walked up unnoticed behind her. She smiled at him, saying, "Well fancy meeting you here!"
The man smiled, "Coincidence isn't it?"
Amy knowingly smiled. "I don't really think so. You going into the city?"
Stephen Napier shook his head. "No."
Amy's face fell. "Guess that means waiting in the cab line again!"
Stephen smiled and then took hold of Amy's arm. "You must be hungry after your flight?"
Amy arched her eyebrows and said, "Hungry?"
Stephen smiled and returned the question with one of his own. "How was LA?"
Amy fidgeted with her purse. "Okay. Spent most of my free time up at Bad Rock with...."
Stephen interrupted, "Of course." He gently guided Amy away from the information booth and then said, "The offer of a meal still stands."
Amy bit her lip, she looked anxiously from side to side, "Isn't it a bit dangerous to be seen together, I mean Hannibal..."
Stephen gently but firmly closed his fists over Amy's hands. "Colonel Smith is twenty five miles away at this moment in time waiting for me to turn up for an appointment that I conveniently forgot about."
Amy smiled and relaxed. "Well, if you're sure." She knew Hannibal would definitely have a lot of questions for her if he saw her talking to Stephen like she was doing now.
Stephen said, "Of course I am." He paused and asked, "Fancy a trip to Florida?"
Amy replied, "I have some interviews planned for tomorrow."
Stephen nodded, "I know, I was the one that arranged them for you, wasn't I? It's just a quick trip; you should be back by tomorrow, early evening. My secretary will rearrange the interviews for you."
Amy licked her lips and said, "Hannibal will no doubt try to get in touch with me this evening. Maggie or Murdock will have called to tell him I've flown out here."
Stephen raised his eyebrows. "The Colonel having dinner with you? I'm jealous!" Stephen chuckled a little at the expression on the journalist's face. "I didn't think you were that close at the moment."
Amy looked at the ground before replying; she calculated that Hannibal wouldn't push having dinner with her on his own. She looked back at Stephen and queried, "You'll reschedule the interviews?"
Stephen smiled, "Yes." He looked at his watch. "The jet is waiting, milady!"
Amy silently handed her suitcase over to the ever-present aide who stood one step behind Stephen. "I hope you have some decent food on board."
Stephen smiled. "I think I can arrange things better than that. I've booked a private suite at the restaurant here. Come." He took Amy's arm and they walked across the concourse. After a minute or so of silence, Stephen asked, "It's been a couple of weeks since we were last alone together, hasn't it?
Amy nodded. "Yes." After a moment or two's hesitation, she said quietly, "You were right, you know."
Stephen said, "Oh, about what?" He drew Amy closer into his body as they walked through the concourse to the entrance to the private suite.
Amy shook her head. "The Team, Maggie, everyone! I don't know - ever since, well Jane came onto the horizon, everything's changed." Amy paused and then blurted out, "Especially between Murdock and me." A little part of her felt talking to Stephen about this was wrong but Amy smothered the voice. Stephen was the only one that ever listened to her, understood her. He even understood how she felt about ...
Stephen saw the conflicting emotions playing over the reporter's face and patted her hand sympathetically. "I know, I know, darling." He looked in the direction they were walking and saw that another of his aides was holding the door to the private suite open for them. "Ah here we are. We'll discuss this over some food."
Amy leaned into him, glad of the support, "Thanks. You know you're the only one who understands my point of view in all this."
Amy undid her seat belt and reached for the drink that the nameless, anonymous aide had supplied. Sipping the drink, she examined the documents in the file on her knees. She glanced across at Stephen and asked, "So you're sure Abernathy will co-operate?"
Stephen smiled coldly. "Oh I'm sure he will. The money I've offered him will not only pay off his gambling debts but will sustain his appetite for several years to come." Stephen paused and then smiled. "If he doesn't, he also knows that there are several buildings that would just welcome him to be part of the foundation."
Amy, frowning, asked as if she had missed the threat present in Stephen's last words, "So all you want me to do is go and check that he's doing his job?"
Stephen nodded. "It should be easy enough for you, after the work you did for me in California." He shrugged lazily. "I may have other more complex and interesting jobs for you to do in the future."
Amy relaxed into the comfortable seat. She looked at her drink and put her head back onto the soft head cushions of the seat. The team never ever got transport like this. After a few moments of sipping her drink she commented, "Being a reporter is so boring these days." Suddenly businesslike she asked, "When do we, I, see him?"
Stephen moved off his seat and stood over Amy. "Tomorrow. You're in his schedule already."
Amy raised her eyebrows. "You were confident I would agree."
Stephen reached out a hand. His fingers gently cupped Amy's face and then he slowly smiled. "I make sure, as you Americans say, that I have all the bases covered."
Amy slowed her breathing as she felt the fingers caress her face. She was familiar with what they could do for her. She licked her lips and queried, "What do we do in the meantime?"
Stephen smiled. "Oh, I've got plenty of ideas." Amy cocked her head to one side and then smiled. She didn't resist when Stephen brought his lips down onto hers.
Ellen opened the door and sighed as she saw her brother staring out through the window into the dark velvet sky. She ventured quietly, "Richard?" Slowly Face turned towards her; he didn't even make an attempt to smile, Ellen's heart fell, even with the bath and the hot chocolate, he hadn't gotten any rest all day. 'If only he could sleep undisturbed for a while.' She continued, "It's getting late. Do you want anything to eat or to drink, some more hot chocolate?"
Face looked down at his hands; he could feel the tiny tremors that wracked them. 'Wouldn't be much use to the Team now even if I was with them. Good thing you've got Ellen to look after you, take you in. Wonder what a washed up mercenary conman can do with his life.' Pushing the thoughts away he found his voice, speaking slowly to try and control the quavers in it. "No, not hungry, Ellen.." Face paused and then looked away into the night. After a few moments he continued, his pale, tired eyes darting everywhere but at the doorway, "Those tablets..."
"The sleeping pills?"
Face made his hands into tight fists and placed them on the window sill, with the same tight, controlled voice he said, "Yeah. I need sleep, Ellen. I might try one tonight."
Ellen crossed the room and embraced her brother. "Are you sure you don't want me to bring you anything with it?"
Face shook his head and smiled briefly. "I'm just tired, that's all; just need a good night's sleep. Once I get that my appetite will be back to normal." Face lifted his eyes up and out into the night.
Ellen saw the shift in focus of her brother's eyes and asked gently, "Why don't we call them back?"
Face shook his head, gaining enough energy from somewhere to hit a fist against the sill, his voice cracking. "NO! I, I, don't want to...." Face turned back to face Ellen. "Ellen, I want to be here, believe me the best place for me is here. You are my family, not them; the guys are just some people I happened to run into more years ago than I can remember. You are family; this is where I belong."
Ellen squeezed his shoulders and soothingly murmured, "Richard, you can stay here as long as you want or need to, you know that; just thought you'd like to speak to them..." Ellen changed the subject when she saw the angry expression return. "I'll go and get that pill and something to wash it down with. What about some milk?"
Face nodded vaguely, his attention once again on the scene outside the window.
Ellen shook her head. 'Must have inherited AJ's stubbornness,' and moved to get the promised pill and milk.
Face looked up at the woman's face in front of him and frowned as he wondered who she was; she was familiar but he couldn't remember her name.
Ellen pulled at her bottom lip with her teeth as she saw the expression on Richard's face. She looked at the clock and sighed; the effects from the sleeping tablet should have worn off by now. She moved to sit down on the bed where he still lay at 3pm. "Richard, do you want something to drink? Maybe some milk? You haven't had a lot to eat today."
With a struggle Face focused on the speaker. He felt strangely disconnected from the world. He opened his mouth to answer the woman's question and then clamped it shut. The voice in his head called out to him again, 'Don't listen to her, when have you ever trusted a woman? Women only screw you up and spit you out.'
"No they don't"
'Yes they do.'
''Course she did, Templeton. See if you can name another.'
'Only because you were wise and didn't give her the opportunity. Anyway she's her father's daughter, she'd follow the family tradition of using you and then abandoning you. Go on, name someone else.'
Face hesitated in his next reply. "Ellen's looking after me right now, when no one else wants to."
The voice snorted derisively, asking, 'What's in it for her?'
"She's my sister, she has to look after me; got no one else."
Ellen who was on the verge of trying to wake her brother out of his one sided conversation paused at the plaintive tone in his voice.
The voice sighed. 'For a con man you are so trusting, aren't you? What makes you think she cares for you?'
"She's my only family now; the others have gone, left me."
'Just like your momma did. Left you in that orphanage to be forgotten and misplaced. Bet she had a great time after she left you. See even your momma chewed you up and spit you out.'
Face cried out, "NO ! NO! She didn't have any choice, please."
Ellen put a hand onto Face's shoulder and gently shook it; she could see his eyes were open and darting around the room. "Richard, Face, Temp, please wake up..."
'Really? Didn't she dump you at the orphanage then? Isn't that what the priests told you, that your mother didn't want you any more?"
Face insisted, "Please, she didn't have any choice, please, they told me, I remember..." He swatted away the hand that shook his shoulder, "Get off me!"
'What is it you remember?'
Face shut his eyes to concentrate on the memories that lay just out of reach. "I, I," He fell silent, allowing the darkness to grow back around him.
Ellen relaxed slightly when his eyes shut; she hoped that this meant that the nightmare and confusion were abating. After a few moments she ventured, "Richard?" When no answer came, apart from a gentle breathing sound, she pulled the covers up around him and whispered, "I'm going downstairs to call Dr Abernathy. It must be that pill you had. I won't be long and then I'll be back."
Dr Abernathy looked at his phone with irritation when it rang. His secretary had been given express instructions not to disturb him at all during this late appointment. He looked up at his visitor and apologised, "I'm sorry, I'll find out who it is and call back later." He waited for a nod of agreement from his visitor and then picked up the receiver and barked, "Yes?"
Ellen licked her lips and said, "Its Ellen Bancroft. Its urgent I speak to you about my brother. "
Abernathy patted his plump face with his handkerchief and then ran a hand over his bald head. He flicked a switch and put the phone's speaker on so his visitor could listen in. "What seems to be the problem? "
Ellen felt her temper rising at the bland tone in the doctor's voice. "He took one of those pills you prescribed last night to help him sleep."
Abernathy kept his eyes on his visitor. "I see, Ms Bancroft. What exactly is the problem? "
Ellen raised her gaze to the ceiling, as if she could see the bedroom that lay on top of it, and then said, "He's been so confused today since he woke up, I'm really concerned about him."
Abernathy tapped his pen against the phone for a few seconds and said, "Well, don't give him another one tonight then." He arched an eyebrow at his visitor who smiled in response. Abernathy smiled back at her.
Ellen pursed her lips and asked, "But what about his confusion, Doctor? And he's not eating and drinking very little. I haven't been able to get a thing down him all day."
Abernathy twisted his mouth and then asked, "Is he unconscious, refusing?"
Ellen said, "Well he's been both, I mean semi conscious and then keeping me away; every time I touch him he sort of strikes out at me..." Ellen failed to stop the small tear of worry from creeping down her face.
Abernathy probed further. "You mean he's exhibiting signs of confusion and he's violent with it?"
Ellen nodded at the phone. "Yes, but he doesn't mean it, I'm sure..."
Abernathy looked up at his visitor briefly and then, seeing an early opportunity to put the course of action his visitor wanted into action, suggested to Ellen, "Well, it sounds as though your brother's condition is indeed worsening. I must come out and make a proper assessment of him."
Ellen closed her eyes in relief. "Thank you, Doctor. Do you think he'll need hospitalising?"
Abernathy answered lazily, "It does sound as though he needs some specialised in-patient care." He paused and then went on, "Do you have your brother's power of attorney?"
Ellen gulped, her mind went blank. "Not sure, why?"
Abernathy idly picked at a hangnail and commented, "Because it does sound as though you should be prepared to commit your brother to a psychiatric institution. I had hoped he would be better by now but ... He paused and then continued, "Of course, it might just be the drug . I'll come and see him tomorrow. If he's the same, I'd appreciate it if all the paperwork was in order. I have to go now, I have a patient waiting. " Abernathy put the receiver down in its cradle and sat back in his chair.
His visitor smiled, "Thank you, I'll be going now. I can honestly report you've been doing your job. I've been authorised to tell you that the payment will be in the bank as arranged when copies of the committal papers have been received."
Abernathy stood up and wiped his sweaty hands down his trousers. "I'll send them off as soon as they're completed." Abernathy offered a damp palm to the person in front of him. "Are you sure you won't stay for dinner, ma'am?"
Amy smiled politely and declined the offer. "I have to get back to Washington."
Abernathy nodded, his chins wobbling. "Let me take you to the airport."
"I have a driver out front; he's waiting for me."
Ellen looked at the phone in disbelief and horror. 'Commit Richard? Surely he wasn't that bad; surely he just needed someone who knew and understood him? Someone who could persuade him to eat and drink and believe in himself even for a little while?.' The ramblings that she'd overheard earlier had convinced her that deep down she really didn't know enough about him to cope any more. She hit her palm against her forehead, "Stupid, stupid! How could I be so stupid, so proud and stupid?"
She moved to her purse, found her address book, and turned to the number where she knew she could get help.
Face felt himself shrinking as he fell through the black void towards the dim source of light that beckoned him onwards.
"Jesse! Run! Hide!"
"Momma?" His momma never, ever shouted at him let alone held him this tight.
The sharp blue eyes made their way up to the doorway. "Lamb, please, Momma wants to play a game." The eyes moved again, up past his head and then down again. "Momma wants you to play a game of hide and seek; you must hide yourself, really, really well. You're good at being quiet, aren't you? Now, when you hide yourself, you mustn't come out for no one but Unky or me? Understand?"
"Not for Dadda?"
Despite her fear, Alonna smiled, "Oh lamb, Dadda's too far away to help right now. I've called Unky to come and help us play this game, but only Unky. Now run!"
'Momma didn't play fair did she? Never came back and got you did she? Left you alone didn't she? What about Dadda? He never came back either did he? Didn't try to find you before it was too late did he?'
Face sat up and screamed, "No, shut up, please, momma, why did you go?"
Ellen heard the frantic scream as she was speaking to Maggie, she whirled and dropped the phone, "Richard?" Pausing only to babble into the phone, "I'll be back, Richard, have to go and see."
Bad Rock 12.30 PST
Maggie swallowed as she heard Ellen's voice change from being mildly disturbed to very worried. 'How bad is he really?' While waiting for Ellen to return, she picked up her cell phone and dialled Murdock. 'Why did John have to go to the East Coast right now?' She answered her own question. 'Because Stephen had commanded it and what Stephen commands he gets.' Sighing at her own lack of generosity towards the man, she glanced at the photo of Theresa and her taken so many years ago. 'You know if I hadn't known him so long, I really wouldn't trust him at all, Theresa; but you did and I trust your judgement.' At long last the phone at Murdock's was answered. Maggie snapped into it, "Murdock? Can you meet me at LAX?"
Ellen stopped in the doorway of Richard's room and looked around worriedly. The bedclothes were disturbed but on a first inspection there was no sign of him. Then her ears picked up sounds of breathing and she moved further into the room. She knelt down and looked under the bed and saw two blue eyes blinking out at her. She hesitantly said, "Richard?"
Two hours later, she came downstairs and saw the phone lying where she'd dropped it in the mad dash upstairs. She knew that by now there would be no one on the other end. She replaced the receiver, then picked it up and dialled Murdock's number, and then, receiving no answer, called Amy's cell phone.
Amy swore as her phone beeped just as the car came up to the hotel entrance. It hadn't gone off once during the time that they'd been in Florida, and it had to now just as they were about to fly back to Washington. She glanced at her companion and decided the late appointment with the good Dr Abernathy had been a good idea. It had given them time to indulge in some fun. Her phone beeped again.
Avoiding Stephen's half stare / half glare, she pulled the phone out of her purse and sat down in the back of the car. "Allen!"
Amy relaxed as she realised it was Ellen and not anyone else. Subconsciously she knew it was only a matter of time before Hannibal or Murdock or even BA found out what she was up to, or rather who she was up to it with. "Ellen! So nice to hear from you? How's Richard? No you're not disturbing me - just got out of a boring press conference. Sure I've got plenty of time, just give me a minute to find a chair, my heels are killing me." Amy smiled at the hand that was caressing her knee; she put one of her on top of it to still it. She didn't notice the car pull away as she continued, "You sound worried Ellen, anything wrong?"
Hannibal sighed as he put the TV Guide down on the coffee table. He moved restlessly from the bed to look out of the window at the city that stretched before him. Glancing at the clock, he gauged that he'd been in the city for almost seventy two hours now; seventy two hours with almost no contact from Napier. Almost as bad as waiting around at Langley for Stockwell. Hannibal swept a glance around the fairly lavish suite and sighed, the furnishings looked almost the same. He smiled to himself as he lit a cigar maybe when they'd left, Stockwell had had a clearance sale. Sobering almost as quickly as he had cheered up, Hannibal stuck his hands in his pockets and paced up and down for a few minutes.
Hannibal reached over to the phone again and pulled it towards him. Should he try Amy again? He shook his head; he and the reporter weren't the best of friends at the moment, not since they'd had that argument about Amy writing a book on the Team. Hannibal puffed a little harder on his cigar as he recalled Amy casually mentioning it right after Face had left. Surprisingly, Murdock had backed him up in his opposition to the idea, so Amy had reluctantly dropped it.
Turning away from the window, Hannibal's eyes caught the room service menu. He shook his head at that; he'd had enough of being cooped up in a hotel room waiting for orders. Hannibal grabbed his jacket and his gloves. 'Time to get things moving;, sooner I finish up here, the faster I get back to Maggie.'
Murdock paced up and down, looking at the clock anxiously, the flight was about to close and Maggie still hadn't appeared. He turned as he heard a shout from behind him and sighed with relief as he saw her dashing towards him. He asked as they rushed to the gate, "What's wrong Maggie, what's the rush?"
Maggie stated as calmly as she could, "Ellen needs our help and fast. I'll tell you on the flight."
Murdock bit back his instinctive response of 'I told you this would happen,' as he handed the boarding pass to the steward at the door of the plane and asked, "Hannibal still in Washington?"
Maggie nodded. "Yes. I didn't get time to call. I thought we'd call him from Ellen's." Maggie grimaced as she remembered the frustrated tone in Hannibal's voice when he'd spoken to her this morning. He'd be on his way to Florida as soon as he'd heard. Again a questioning thought crossed Maggie's mind about just why Stephen needed Hannibal in Washington and why Stephen had insisted he go alone. She asked, "Have you spoken to Amy since she got there?"
Murdock sighed, "No. I left a message on her office answering service but." He threw his hands in the air, almost knocking someone standing in the aisle flying, Maggie apologised for him and then, as they were sliding into their seats, Murdock continued, "She doesn't like to be disturbed when she's in Washington; she says she never quite knows what she's doing and she could be in the middle of an important interview."
Maggie sarcastically commented, "There's always an off switch."
Murdock took the opportunity to concentrate on getting his safety belt fastened, 'I know Maggie, I know.' Outwardly, he smiled. "She calls me a lot, when she can. I think she gets lonely there sometimes and doesn't want me calling to remind her of California."
Maggie nodded distractedly and looked out the window as the plane pushed back from the gate. She commented, "I hope we're not too late."
Murdock took hold of Maggie's hand and squeezed it. "So do I, so do I."
The two of them lapsed into silence as the crew made the final preparations to take off. Maggie was grateful for the silence, she knew that Murdock would probably be asking questions for the rest of the flight, questions she didn't really have any answers for.
Hannibal looked around the room that served as an office for Napier's secretary. All dark leather and wood, 'looks like a gentleman's club.' He also saw that no one was around, but he wasn't tempted to leaf through the papers that were neatly stacked on the desk. The lack of 'obvious' guards didn't mean that things weren't guarded, just that the guarding was done in a different way. Hannibal looked around the ceiling and smiled in appreciation, Napier had obviously employed skilled technicians. Hannibal could guess the likely points of the electronic surveillance but to the naked eye there was absolutely no trace of it. Hannibal whirled around as he heard a door opening behind him. He smiled at the woman who came through from the inner sanctum. Hannibal moved forward with his hand outstretched. "Hi, I'm Colonel Smith; you must be..."
There was no answering smile from the woman. "Colonel. I'm afraid Lord Napier is still incommunicado. I don't know when he will be free to see you. He sends his apologies."
Hannibal assessed the secretary as she moved past him and sat down behind her vast desk. She was no Carla, Hannibal thought, either in looks or character. This woman reminded him of an old schoolteacher he'd had once. He decided to have a bit of fun with her, indicating a deep leather armchair, he said, "Oh, I'll just wait here until he comes then. Do you mind if I smoke?" Hannibal grinned at her as she flashed him a very disapproving glance. He sat down with as much as noise as he could make, he knew it was infantile but he viewed it as a release from the impatience and boredom that had gripped him ever since he'd come to DC.
Hannibal looked up as he heard the door to the office open and saw that it was a flunky laden with a tea tray. A tray the flunky set down on the table at the side of Hannibal's chair. The flunky disappeared without a word. Hannibal said, "Thank you," to the still nameless secretary; she sniffed in reply. Hannibal smiled as he saw that the tray contained snack cakes and sandwiches as well as a pot of tea. 'Could have given me coffee,.' groused Hannibal internally as he poured a cup, but he guessed that the secretary had deliberately ordered tea. As he sipped the drink and munched on the sandwiches, he glanced at the paper. Hannibal noted with interest that the date on the paper was tomorrow. He was very impressed.
"Sarah, when will Stephen be back?"
Hannibal put the paper down, and stood up; he'd missed the sound of the door opening. He recognised the speaker of course as soon as she spoke. "Jane?" He breathed in when she turned towards him; she'd lost some weight over the last few weeks.
Jane jumped a little as she realised she and Sarah weren't alone. "Colonel! I, I umm didn't know you were here... I mean, I only just got into town today ... I mean, I." Her gaze fell to the carpet.
Hannibal wondered at her demeanour, which was so unlike the confident extroverted woman of a few months, no weeks, ago... He took a step towards her and said, "I only got into town yesterday. Your father, I mean Murdock's back in LA. Have you called him?"
Jane looked up at Hannibal, clasped her arms across her body, and shook her head mutely. "I, I only arrived a few hours ago. I've been getting some rest.."
Hannibal nodded. "Oh."
Jane volunteered, "Stephen's out of town on business. How's everyone?" She paused and then continued, "I just got cleared for passenger flying yesterday, Stephen wanted me to come out here when he heard." Jane paused again and then asked quietly, "Your throat... I'm sorry, Stephen told me, I don't really remember very much about the whole...did it hurt?"
Hannibal broke off from considering his vision of Stephen as a chess master moving pieces around a giant board and moved towards her. He touched her gently on the shoulder and said, "It didn't, not at all. Anyway you were only being a good soldier, protecting your men. Good instincts." Hannibal answered the small slow smile that lit up her face with one of his own. "That's better, Captain. How about an early dinner?"
Jane nodded. "Sure. It looks like Stephen won't be back until late tonight." She looked down at the baggy sweater and jeans she wore, "Come with me to the apartment. I really can't be seen out like this."
Hannibal grinned and offered her his arm, which she gratefully accepted.
Amy sighed as the intercom blinked on and off. She rolled to the other side of the bed as Stephen grabbed the mouthpiece. She lay back and covered herself with the sheet. As usual, Stephen had been his usual competent self. She looked at him as he spoke into the microphone, his unruly grey hair flopping over his eyes. She smiled in appreciation as the sheet tucked around his body slipped down revealing a tightly muscled, tanned body. Her eyes lingered over the body, the usual baggy tweeds he wore hid his muscles completely, giving people the impression that he had wandered in from the lecture hall without a clue what was going on.
"A penny for them?"
Amy jumped a little and then smiled. "I was just appreciating your tan."
Stephen kissed her neck. "Really? Monaco is sunny at this time of year."
Amy pouted. "I've never been." She slid down the bed, encouraging Stephen to move on top of her. "The guys have been, I think."
Stephen parted her legs and pushed into her. "Yeah, they did. Murdock even got the girl I believe." Amy hissed under her breath. Stephen smiled and said lightly, "I'm sorry, darling, but I had to take Jane there to get some warm air and sunshine; she was far too pale and wan. I couldn't exactly take you along without inviting the whole clan could I?"
Amy adjusted her hips, spreading them wider to allow Stephen room for movement. She grunted as he pushed in further. She commented, "No, I suppose you're right, but it's just that's all I hear from Murdock: Jane this, Jane that, Face this, Face that."
Stephen began thrusting and asked, "I thought you were distracting him, thought you were tempting him with the evils of the flesh and the prospect of children before the biological clock runs out?"
The conversation died for a little while as the two lovers lost themselves in the act. Once Stephen was again lying by her side, Amy replied, "Well, I've helped you solve one of those problems today." She paused and then asked, "Why didn't you just hire a hit man? Surely that's much simpler."
Stephen woke himself out of the doze he was falling into. 'Theresa always knew to let me sleep afterwards.' With a smile on his face, he said coldly, "Too complicated; hit men always leave a trail." He examined his nails. "This way he will be destroyed completely and you know the best thing? I'll get to see it happen and there will be nothing his precious Team can do about it. By the time the authorities let them into see him, he'll be irreparably damaged."
Amy played with the sparse chest hair clinging to the broad chest and she whispered, "Why?"
Stephen lifted her face up and said, "I suppose because I can, but the Bancrofts have been a thorn in my side for years. I want them out of the way."
Amy licked her lips and asked quietly, "What about Ellen?"
Stephen paused and then said, "What about her?"
Amy turned her face away and started playing with a loose thread from the sheet. "Ellen's done nothing wrong; she's a friend. I like her."
Stephen picked up Amy's hands and placed them on his penis and captured Amy's mouth with his lips and tongue. Keeping his hands on top of Amy's, he started them moving up and down his shaft, faster and faster until he was erect again. Without waiting for her consent, he pushed her flat down onto the sheet and re-entered her. He smiled as she began to move to his rhythm. As he worked her, he said, "Is she?"
Amy smiled. "Yeah, she is. She's been a real support to me these past few months. You know, a sounding board about everything."
Stephen stopped his motions and said, "Everything?"
Amy rolled her eyes and began thrusting to encourage him to start moving. When she was satisfied with his movements, she said, "Not everything, but she's been a source of real support where the brat's concerned. Oops I meant ..."
Stephen smiled coldly, "I know who you mean. Now we'll finish this conversation when I've had my pleasure."
Amy curled up on her side facing Stephen as soon as he had withdrawn from her. The sex was good but three times in less than two hours was wearing and she winced a little as she felt the ache of her hips where Stephen had leaned on them and the aching reminder of the fact that he had climaxed and withdrawn without paying attention to her needs.
Stephen smiled at the expressions on the journalist's face. Playing with a lock of her hair, he said, "We were talking about Ellen Bancroft. Did you know that she and your beloved Murdock had a fling while he was at Langley?" His internal smile became deeper as he read Amy's disbelieving body language. "Apparently, he proposed marriage to her at one point, even offered her his Captain Marvel ring."
Amy whispered, "Read that in one of Stockwell's files did you? I doubt it's true."
Stephen merely raised an eyebrow. "Believe me the person who told me this would have no reason to lie. She never accepted it by the way; from all accounts she's only too relieved not to have."
Amy rolled onto her back and glared up at the ceiling.
Stephen reached over and kissed one of her nipples. When he lifted his head up, he brushed away a tear that had fallen. "Don't worry, I can offer you far more than Murdock ever would be able to or even dream of."
Amy ducked her head for a few seconds and then asked, "But what about Murdock..."
Stephen placed a finger to her lips and said quietly, "Not now darling, I have to have a bit of recovery time you know."
Amy looked at the clock on the bulkhead at the side of her and said, "Won't we be landing at Dulles soon?"
Stephen shook his head, "Big flap in Chicago. One of my contacts is demanding a crash meeting, we're diverting there. Just go to sleep."
Amy sighed and then said worriedly, "Murdock will get worried if I'm out of contact for too long."
"He's got your cell phone number; why doesn't he use that?"
Amy said, "I told him not to. I told him that I never knew when I had an important interview."
Stephen frowned a little. "Murdock believed that?"
Amy nodded. "Yes. He always leaves a message on my office answering service if he needs to get in touch. I told him that hearing his voice makes me homesick for California and makes me realise how lonely I am here."
Stephen raised his eyebrows and grinned. "Got him trained have you? Hmm, we could have fun with that I think. I anticipated that you would want use of your phone and it will work while we're in the air." He grinned at Amy's sudden confused expression and waved a hand in the air. "Don't ask me some technical thing. Lets sleep."
Amy nodded and curled up on her side; she'd already found out that Stephen didn't appreciate being hugged to sleep.
Stephen watched her eyes close and her body relax, his satisfaction at the day's work and the sex he'd had made his body relax, too. His mind remained alert though and he wondered how JJ had heard of his plans for Bancroft; he sighed deeply, he wished he'd never signed the man on. If he'd known about the man's obsession for Bancroft and Smith, he certainly wouldn't have done so. His lips thinned as he wondered what it would cost to retain the man's services; whatever it took, Stephen knew he would pay; he was just too efficient at his job to let go and he did have that little problem down in Guatemala to sort out.
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