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This page last viewed: 2017-12-06 and has been viewed 4269 times
by Val Thomas
Rating: will be NC-17 eventually
Series: This is the first story in a three part series
Category: Umm, angst?
I don't own the guys, alas! And I make no money from my efforts.
Notes: Okay, one of my betas says "Post!" the other says she'll hit me if I post. Hmm, dilemma ... If the prologue looks familiar to you old-timers, it's because I originally posted it almost two years ago, when I thought it was close to being finished. <snort>
Warnings (if needed): This is not a pretty story. There will be graphic depictions of torture in later parts.
Summary: Two years after the apparent death of one of the Team, the other three get a phone call ...
The Man Who Has Nothing
Hannibal scowled as he pushed the flashing button on his answering machine. He'd been in a vile mood all day because today was the second anniversary of the demise of the Team. His Team, the men he'd hand selected and trained to act as one. And now the Team was gone: one dead, the others scattered. And it was his fault. One dead.
The answering machine droned out its message.
"Hello, Smith, it's been a long time," the disguised voice said from the machine. "I have a little present for you, an anniversary present of sorts. Come pick it up in the alley behind Kelligan's Bar at 3:00 this afternoon. Three o'clock exactly. I'll be waiting for you." The laughter was easy to hear even in the disguised voice.
Three o'clock? It was almost three now. He could just make it if he left now. He started toward the door, then stopped himself. Why bother? There had been a time he would have gone in, guns ready, the Team at this back. Now? He shook his head. It was probably nothing, just some prankster's idea of a joke at his expense. Who would do anything like that to him now? He was finished, like the Team.
There was a second message. "Just in case you're tempted not to come, someone close to you will die if you don't. And it will be your fault ... again." Same disguised voice.
The scowl deepened as Hannibal contemplated the messages. He reached for his gun, then headed toward the door.
The man groaned as he felt strong arms drop him to the floor. Movement hurt. Everything hurt. This time he'd been beaten thoroughly but he had no idea why. He hadn't done anything his Masters didn't want him to. He thought he'd done exactly what they wanted him to do, but they had sent the men anyway. The men who hurt him.
"I will miss his company," a voice droned. The man tried to raise his head as he recognized the voice of a Master. He didn't know why he tried, unless it was just reflex; he couldn't see anything with the mask over his face.
"W-w-why?" was all he could ask before he felt a foot in his side again. He moaned at the pain and tried to curl up to protect himself from further harm.
"There is no need for you to understand why," a second voice said. "Prepare him."
The man felt himself being picked up again and bent over a low table. He whimpered as he heard and felt the clothes being torn from his body, expecting the usual treatment. He was wrong.
The owner of the second voice selected a longish piece of bamboo cane and gave it a test swing. He smiled as he heard the air crack around the hollow pole.
"Is this really necessary?" the first voice asked.
"Yes. If my revenge is to be complete, this is necessary. You know the old saying, don't you? 'How can you hurt the man who has nothing? Give him something back ... broken.'" Laughter filled the small room and left the man shivering in anticipation of even more pain. "Will you do the honors?"
The sound of laughter was soon supplanted by howls of pain as the Master began the caning. He was strong and knew just where to hit to inflict the most damage and pain. He wanted the man alive, but just barely. No need for him to stay alive much past three o'clock in the afternoon.
Over and over the piece of bamboo came down across the body of the man on the table. It was punctuated by his piteous cries of pain - <whack!> scream <whack!> scream <whack!> shriek <whack!> Over and over.
Whenever it appeared that the man would lose consciousness, they paused and gave him cool water to drink. The water eased the pain in his throat, but the agony in the rest of his body continued. He dreaded these little breaks; the more breaks, the longer and more painful the beating would be. He knew the way these men worked. After all, this was the only place he remembered. He knew there had been something before, but had no memory of it. Occasionally he had flashes ñ faces, voices, different locations, but they were meaningless to him now. All he knew was the man standing over him, beating him again and again.
After the caning, the man was unstrapped from the table and dropped unceremoniously to the floor again where the Master began to kick him mercilessly. By the time the Master finished, the man could no longer move.
Three o'clock exactly. Where was this man who had called and threatened someone close to him? Hannibal laughed bitterly as he reflected that there was no one close to him anymore. Three oh one. Still nothing. Then a soft moan of pain.
He started to move toward the sound when he heard another noise, that of an approaching vehicle. A fast approaching vehicle. He hid behind a dumpster to see who it could be. He sighed as he recognized the black van that pulled up. Of all the people he didn't want to see today! Just as he was getting ready to come out and face BA, he heard another vehicle approach. A gray sedan drove up and stopped beside the van. The passenger door was open before the car came to a complete stop. A familiar lanky figure hopped out and looked around. Damn! The other person Hannibal didn't want to see today!
"What you doin' here, fool?" BA grumbled.
"I got a phone call, BA. Said I was s'posed to be here ... at three o'clock. It's three now."
"Me too. I almos' din' come but the fella said somebody would die if I din' show."
"Don't know who it was. They just took the message at the desk and sent it up to me."
The driver of the car got out and came toward them.
"Hello, Doctor," BA greeted Dr. Richter.
"Hello, Sgt. Baracus. Do you know what's going on?"
Murdock wandered down the alley a bit, more subdued than BA had ever seen him. Richter took the opportunity to move closer to BA and talk to him.
"He insisted on coming and I thought it best, considering what day today is. I knew that, if he didn't come, he'd just keep thinking about it."
BA nodded. "Don' know why I'm here, m'self, 'cept curiosity. Wonder where Hannibal is? Some fool calls up me and the fool there, gotta call Hannibal too."
"How is he? I understand from Murdock that he blamed himself."
"Don' know. Haven' seen 'im in almos' two years."
"I'm here, Sergeant," Hannibal announced, coming out from behind the dumpster.
"Colonel?" Murdock asked, coming back to the other men. "What're we doin' here?"
"I don't know, Captain. I got the same call you and the sergeant got."
"Seen anythin' yet?" BA asked.
"No. Thought I heard something though just as you pulled up."
Almost on cue the moan repeated itself.
"That. Where did it come from?"
"Sounds like it came from that dumpster, Colonel," Murdock answered, heading for the source of the sound.
"Be careful, Captain. This could be a trap," Hannibal warned, feeling hypocritical, knowing they weren't worth such efforts these days.
"There's somebody in here, Colonel! He's hurt pretty bad. Need to call an ambulance. Doc?"
Doctor Richter followed his patient over to the dumpster. He gasped as he peered into the trash-filled container. The man looked horrible. He'd obviously been beaten and there was a large black mask covering his entire face. The doctor climbed into the dumpster, followed by Murdock. Murdock gently removed the mask as the doctor began to examine the man's wounds.
Murdock gave a strangled cry and curled into a tight ball.
"What is it, Captain?" Hannibal demanded. "Doctor?"
BA climbed into the dumpster and picked Murdock up gently. He looked around for what might have set Murdock off and gasped as he recognized the man lying mostly on top of the trash.
"Hannibal!" he yelled. "It's Face!"
Something Broken, Part I
Hannibal froze. He couldn't take another step. "That's not funny, Sergeant. Lieutenant Peck is dead."
"S'no joke, Hannibal. It's the Faceman, all right. It's like seein' a ghost. He's hurt bad, Colonel."
Richter looked up and saw Hannibal's face. This was a problem he was more accustomed to than the wounds on the other man. He climbed from the trash heap and went over to Hannibal.
"It *is* him, Colonel Smith. Sergeant Baracus, call for an ambulance."
"No ambulance. We can't take him to a hospital. The military..."
"The military's not going to matter if we don't get him some medical attention now, Colonel. His injuries are more than I can handle. He probably has internal injuries that will require surgery. I'm not a surgeon."
"We can call Maggie. She'll know what to do."
"If she's a doctor, she'll tell you to get him to a hospital now." The psychologist remained calm on the outside, just as his years of training had taught him. Inside was another story. He had gone from one mental patient to two men panicking and a third dying from lack of medical attention.
"Call for an ambulance now! I've got my hands full with my own patient." Richter turned his back on Hannibal and returned to the dumpster.
BA stood staring at Hannibal, torn as to what he should do. When Hannibal didn't respond, he ran to the van and called for help. When BA returned to where Hannibal stood still frozen, he gently took his former commanding officer by the arm and guided him to the dumpster to see the still figure inside. Richter was trying to evaluate his injuries, but looked up at Hannibal as he approached.
"He's in bad shape, Colonel. At least three broken ribs, numerous contusions, probable internal bleeding, and his back ...! There may be nerve damage there."
Murdock whimpered, still tightly curled in a ball. BA climbed back in the dumpster with him, picked him up and handed him to Hannibal who recovered enough to accept the shocked man. He set him down gently and stroked his hair. Murdock pulled away slightly from the touch and whimpered again.
"It's all right, Captain. Everything's going to be all right now," Hannibal murmured soothingly to the distraught man.
"Colonel?" Murdock asked after a few minutes.
Dreading the question he knew was coming, Hannibal steeled himself to answer it anyway. "Yes, Captain?"
"I thought I saw Face in there. But it can't be ... can it? Face is dead, isn't he?"
"Decker's man must've been wrong. Or else he said it just to get to us."
Murdock curled into a tighter ball.
Hannibal stiffened and closed his eyes. He could still picture the scene where Face had "died"; it had been a tough case that had ended with Douglas Kyle looking for revenge. As before, he had tried to take each member of the Team out one at a time, beginning with Face ... again. Knowing whom they were up against, Hannibal had told them to go along with the madman ñ he wouldn't do anything until he had the whole Team locked up together.
The plan had backfired for the Team though. After taking Face, Kyle tried to use him as bait for the others - and succeeded. Kyle contacted each of them individually and threatened to kill Face slowly if the others didn't surrender themselves. None of them was willing to leave a member of the Team in jeopardy. BA, of all people, was the first to surrender. He believed that his strength was enough to rescue both of them, but Kyle had kept them separate. He kept them just far enough apart that BA could hear Face's screams as Kyle's men tortured him. BA threatened to break the door down and would have, but Kyle told him that *that* would cause Face's death, and that BA would be forced to watch as his friend suffered.
Hannibal had been the next to give himself up. He had trusted his ability to come up with a "plan" to rescue all three of them. The bitter laugh in his mind erupted from his mouth, startling the pilot he was still holding.
"Just remembering. COs aren't supposed to make mistakes, are they? Damned if I didn't make the biggest one of all!"
"Wasn't your fault, Colonel."
"A commanding officer is responsible for the well-being of his team at all times on a mission."
Murdock lapsed back into silence while Hannibal just remembered.
He'd been in the same situation as BA: forced to listen as one of his friends suffered. It nearly drove him insane, listening to his second in command howl in agony. The noise would start at any time of day, any time
of night. Hannibal and BA were forced to remain good little prisoners as Kyle waited for *something*.
On the sixth day, Murdock was dragged into the cell with them. "Sorry, Colonel, I had some trouble gettin' out of the VA without help. Where's Face?"
"Don't worry about him," Kyle said savagely. "Just worry about yourselves, *A-Team*." He said the name with sarcastic satisfaction.
The waiting lasted for several more days, until Kyle finally pulled them out of the cell where they had been held. They were ushered into a room where they saw their comrade chained to a wall. Face sagged in his chains, exhausted from the pain, his face pale and covered in sweat. Hannibal ran up to him to examine his wounds, anger rendering him unthinking. Face moaned as he felt someone touch his raw back, then opened one eye as the touch remained gentle, causing no more pain than he already felt. "Hann'bal?" he croaked out.
"I'm here, Face. We'll get you out of here, Lieutenant."
"Sorry, Hann'bal. Shouldn't have let myself get caught." He was panting by the time he finished that sentence, worn out from the exertion.
"It's all right, Face. We'll get you out of here," he repeated, unable to think of anything more comforting.
Face had just nodded, confident in his commander. The memory hurt Hannibal as nothing else could, that trusting nod.
Kyle pulled him roughly away from the Lieutenant. "I brought you in here so you could watch. Unless you want to help?" He raised his eyebrows in amusement.
"Leave him alone, Kyle," Hannibal snarled.
"Can't do that. The reward is good dead or alive, but I want to see you suffer, Smith. You're going to watch me kill your little friend."
It took four men to subdue BA, three for Hannibal and three more for Murdock. They struggled against their captors as Kyle pulled out a whip and began to flog the already tortured Peck. Face tried not to scream as the whip bit into his back again but after what he'd already suffered, he had little resistance left. He shrieked in agony as the whip found the already raw stripes on his back and legs.
Hannibal grunted in pain himself as he dislocated a shoulder freeing himself from his captors. He knocked one of them into the men holding BA, who promptly escaped himself. One of the men holding Murdock went to help his companions and Murdock managed to break free of the others as well.
A shot rang out, silencing all combatants. The three men stared in dismay as Kyle held a gun against Face's head. Kyle had unfastened the chains that held his prisoner and now held the injured man up as he sagged.
"You stop now or he's dead," Kyle threatened.
Hannibal, Murdock and BA stopped fighting, ready to allow Kyle's men to handcuff them.
Face saw what they were doing and screamed, "NO!" At the same time he twisted in Kyle's grasp and tried to get away. As he did, the gun in Kyle's hand went off.
The rest of the Team watched as Face staggered away from Kyle, blood dripping from a hole in his chest. He collapsed.
All hell broke loose. BA exploded in rage and started for the nearest thug. Murdock keened in grief and attacked Kyle himself, fighting like a berserker without regard for his own personal safety. Hannibal saw nothing but Face on the floor, his face pale and lifeless. Three of Kyle's thugs got in his way before he could reach him though and he took some of his frustrations out on them, knowing they'd played some part in Face's suffering.
The door burst open and a dozen MP's entered, followed by Colonel Roderick Decker. "Freeze!" Decker commanded. The men complied as they heard the familiar click of weapons being readied to fire. Hannibal froze, his hands around the neck of one of Kyle's men. His eyes turned to the still figure on the ground.
"Well, Smith, looks like we got here just in time. A few more minutes and there'd have been nothing left of the A-Team. No smart remarks, Smith?" Decker asked as Hannibal made no move.
"Face ... needs a doctor," he managed to choke out.
Decker looked over to where the man lay. One of his own men was inspecting the wounds. When he heard Smith's words, the soldier looked up and shook his head slowly.
"Peck is dead, Smith," Decker said coldly.
@@@ end of flashback
BA watched Hannibal closely as they followed the ambulance to the hospital. He was worried. The Colonel had almost fallen apart after Face's "death". The Team had disintegrated with no one to lead it and do the planning. Hannibal had disappeared for a time, not advising anyone of his whereabouts. When he reappeared, he avoided BA and Murdock completely. He wouldn't answer his telephone at all for a long time. He accepted a few acting jobs, still playing the monster roles he'd loved, more for the money than anything else. He looked shaken just now, much older than he had just a short two years ago.
Those two years had taken a toll on all of them. Murdock huddled in his usual seat in the back of the van, looking confused. BA glanced at him in the rear view mirror. He looked bad. If they weren't careful this might just set him back again, the way Face's death had. Dr. Richter had wanted Murdock to ride with him, but the former pilot insisted on staying with the rest of the Team. Richter followed in his car.
At the hospital the paramedics had taken Face straight back to where the doctors waited. Hannibal had wanted to follow them but he was stopped by the admitting clerk demanding information.
"What's the patient's name, sir?" she asked.
"The patient's name? I need you to fill out these forms. I understand that you're upset about your friend, sir, but we need this information." The clerk was new and unaccustomed to dealing with distraught family members.
Dr. Richter approached and volunteered the needed information. "His name is Templeton..."
"Arthur Templeton, ma'am. That's his name," Hannibal snapped out of his confusion, seeming a little more normal.
Richter turned to stare at him.
"Yes, Arthur Templeton. Anymore information, Mister...?"
"My name is also Templeton, ma'am. That boy is my son."
Hannibal gave the clerk the necessary information while Richter moved over to the other two.
He shook his head. "He's in bad shape himself, isn't he?"
BA nodded. "I never seen him like this before. Scares me, Doctor. I don't like this."
"Neither do I," Richter agreed. "Do you know what this is all about, Sgt. Baracus? I thought Peck was dead."
"So did we. Leas' tha's what Decker's man said before they took us away. I wonder where he's been the pas' two years."
"Nowhere good by the look of him."
Murdock stared at the door through which they had taken Face. "Doc, he's gonna be all right, ain't he?"
"I hope so, Murdock, I hope so. He's been wounded very badly though."
"He has to be all right."
"Of course he'll be all right, Captain," Hannibal announced as he came close enough to hear the mumbled words. "The nurse will keep us advised of what's going on back there. You all right, Captain?"
"I don't know, Colonel. It's a shock, seein' him again when we thought he was dead."
"At least he *is* alive, Captain. Remember that ... Face *is* alive. And we're going to find exactly who did this to him."
BA and Dr. Richter shot each other a glance. Hannibal seemed to be recovering from his earlier shock, but they weren't sure how well he would hold up if anything did happen to Face again.
After several hours, the surgeon came out to the waiting area. All four men rose, eager to hear his findings.
"Mr. Templeton?" he asked Hannibal. "Your son is out of surgery."
"Will he be all right, Doctor?"
"The next forty-eight hours are crucial. We'll know more then. We had to remove one of his kidneys; it was too damaged to save. I think the other will eventually be able to take over full function though. I would
recommend dialysis three times a week for the time being, to give the remaining kidney a chance to recover. It's pretty badly bruised. There also appears to be some damage to his spine."
"Spine?" Hannibal asked. "How bad?"
"It seems to be in the lumbar region. That means that probably only his legs will be affected. We don't know how much function he'll be able to regain."
All three men grew silent at the doctor's words. The two years since the breakup of the Team had been a series of nightmares for all of them. Upon their capture and Face's apparent death, Hannibal had simply shut down. BA had expected his Colonel to come up with a plan, but nothing happened. He barely even spoke. It had been left to BA to rescue them both. Murdock, not wanted in the robbery, had been returned to the VA, numb at the death of his best friend. Like Hannibal, he shut down, refused to participate in the Real World at all. Once back in his room, Murdock surprised the orderlies and nurses with his quiet demeanor. Gone were the games and teasing, the imaginary playmates. They wondered what had happened. Murdock sat quietly,
scribbling and reading or playing cards. It was all Richter could do to get him to the cafeteria at mealtimes. The doctor got some inkling of what had happened from Army scuttlebutt. He knew that the Team had been captured, but had escaped again.
He tried to broach the subject to an unresponsive Murdock.
"So, Murdock, how is everything?"
"I take it something happened on the Team's last mission?"
Still no reaction.
"Did something happen to one of the Team?"
Murdock began to keen softly under his breath. Dr. Richter almost missed the reaction, it was so quiet.
"Something happened to one of the Team? Was it Colonel Smith? Sergeant Baracus? Lieutenant Peck?"
The soft keening noise grew until Murdock was screaming at the top of his lungs.
Richter shook his head and prepared a sedative. Murdock had wrapped his arms around his lanky frame and drawn up into a tight ball of misery. It was clear that the doctor would get nothing more from his patient at the moment.
He stayed with Murdock until the wailing stopped and the man finally fell asleep, then returned to his office and called one of his friends in Admin.
"So Lieutenant Peck was killed, but the other two and Captain Murdock were taken? Captain Murdock was returned to the hospital and Smith and Baracus escaped? Yes, that helps. Thanks, Jim."
Richter sighed as he hung up the phone. His patient had seen his best friend die before his eyes. Sometimes the rest of the Team didn't realize just how fragile Murdock was. This was something Richter had feared since he'd discovered Murdock was still working with the A-Team. So much of his recovery was tied up with the Team that any threat to one of them threatened his tenuous grasp on the real world. Richter had seen firsthand how close the four were when they'd rescued him from a madman.
*Well,* he sighed again. At least now he knew what the problem was. Hopefully from here he would be able to help his patient some.
@@@ end of flashback
Richter reflected on Murdock's progress since that day. He'd come a long way, but he'd lost some of the innocence that had always been so disarming. Looking at him pace the floor, the psychologist worried that it would be much worse for his patient if he had to watch Peck die again.
Murdock wasn't the only one who worried him. Colonel Smith, too, looked bad. Keyed up, tense and desperately afraid, although Richter didn't know which frightened him more ñ whether Peck died for real this time or whether he survived. With that other sense he'd developed over the years, Richter could see into Smith a little deeper than he wanted to. Smith fed on the loyalty of his men. He needed them. Richter wondered how he'd handled not having them around for the past two years. He'd learned from Murdock about the Colonel's disappearance.
The man looked like hell right now. He'd lost weight. It didn't look as though it had been from exercise, either, just not eating. His hands shook as he accepted a cup of coffee from Baracus.
The big man let his hand linger on Smith's shoulder a moment in a show of support. Smith covered the huge hand with his own a moment, as if something, some kind of message passed between them. It probably had. The Team had no need for speech at times.
Baracus seemed to be the least affected by Peck's death and return. At least at first glance. He was quiet. Too quiet, Richter thought. Where was the bluster one might have expected against his "little brother's"
attacker? He, too, seemed to have changed physically. The proud muscle seemed to have a layer of fat over it. Judging from what he'd seen of the man's phenomenal strength, Richter guessed he was still no one to be trifled with. At least Baracus had had his kids at the youth center to turn to. He'd contacted Murdock a few times during the past two years. Those children were probably what kept him going without the Team.
Without the Team.
The thought formed in his mind, not for the first time, that, if someone wanted to destroy the A-Team, removing Peck was the surest way. He had been little brother, best friend and son to the others.
Richter turned his attention back to the present conversation.
"So what you're saying, Doctor," Hannibal was saying after a few moments of stunned silence, "is that if ... my son does survive, he may never walk again?"
The Doctor nodded gravely. "The next forty-eight hours are his critical period. If he survives that long, he should live. The swelling around his spine is a problem. It's too swollen for us to be certain how severe the
damage is. And there may be no nerve damage, but I doubt it. Judging from his injuries, my guess would be that someone tried to kill your son."
He paused to see the effect of his words. He'd hesitated before saying that last sentence, but some challenge in the father's blue eyes pulled the honesty from him.
Anger sparked between three of the men in front of him. The fourth, the psychiatrist, looked at the two white men with concern. *Were they both his patients?* the surgeon wondered. Except for the concern natural to family and friend, they seemed calm to him.
"May I see him?" the father asked.
"He's still unconscious, Mr. Templeton, but you may go in for a few minutes."
Nodding his thanks, Hannibal headed toward the room. Richter moved to follow him.
"Colonel, a word," he said quietly.
"I have to do this, Doctor," Hannibal answered without turning or stopping.
"Yes, you need to see him," Richter conceded. "But let me or one of the others go with you."
"No, Doctor. I have to do this alone." He continued on his way. Once out of sight of the others, he stopped. He wanted nothing more than for someone to go with him but knew he had to go see for himself. He'd been in a such a state of shock earlier that he hadn't really looked at his lieutenant. Now he had to see with his own eyes that Face was alive. Gathering himself, he opened the door and entered.
They had put Face on his back, despite the welts that covered that part of his anatomy. There were IV's and tubes sticking from various parts of his body. Taking a deep breath, Hannibal walked around to the foot of the bed. He stopped and picked up the chart hanging there. His glance flickered over the medical terminology, not understanding all the individual words, but able to put enough together to see the overall picture. Two words caught his attention: *sexual abuse*.
Anger sprang up in his mind. Anger ... and determination to find out who had done this. Hadn't the kid suffered enough in the camps? What kind of sick mind got pleasure from forcing himself on an unwilling partner, man or woman?
He crossed finally to the other side of the bed. Strange, with all the abuse evident on the rest of his body, his face was unmarked. It was almost as if whoever had done this had intentionally left his face recognizable.
Hannibal picked up one thin hand and stroked it gently.
He'd lost weight. The kid had never been exactly bulky but he'd never been quite this thin ... except in the camps.
"Wherever you been, kid, don't think I'd want to go there for vacation. We're going to find out who did this to you and make them pay. I swear to you, kid, we will make them pay," he enunciated carefully.
After giving Face's hand a gentle squeeze, he returned to the others. When he reached them, a look passed between the three men, a look that made the two doctors blanche.
"If you don't mind, Doctor," the father began, "I'd appreciate it if you didn't alert the police just yet about your suspicions." Nodding at the other two, he continued, "We'd like to investigate on our own first."
"Investigate, Mr. Templeton? What could you do that the police couldn't?"
"We have a little experience with it," he said with a smile. Something gleamed in his eyes.
The black man grinned his own feral smile while the other white man nodded, a predatory look on his face.
The man in the bed awoke but kept his eyes shut from long practice. He could sense someone else in the room but couldn't tell who it was. Strange. Usually he could tell if one of the Masters was near but he didn't feel that prickle on the back of his neck. His feeling was confirmed when he heard a sharp intake of breath from somewhere around his feet. Then he heard footsteps coming nearer and a cold hand grasped his own. He couldn't make sense of the words the man was saying. Something about finding out who did this to him. No sense at all. Of course a Master had done this. Surely the man knew. The man released his hand and set it gently back down. The footsteps went away from him this time. A door opened and closed again.
Satisfied that he was alone, the man took stock of his situation, still without opening his eyes. He was in pain. That was nothing new. He was warm. That was unusual but he was too tired to try and understand why. He sighed and snuggled down into the soft pillow.
That thought registered with him, just before he fell asleep. Blue eyes popped open to see where he was.
Bed. He was in a bed! In a panic he tried to sit up. The pain that coursed through the lower part of his body nearly caused him to cry out in agony. The panic worsened. He wasn't allowed to sleep in a bed! He could
remain in a bed as long as his Master was using him, but moved to the floor to sleep.
With an effort he attempted to roll out of the bed. Again his legs wouldn't cooperate and the pain made him whimper. Blindly, ignoring the pain, he pulled himself to the edge of the bed. Flailing to get off the bed, he
pulled the IV line from his arm. He heard an alarm go off somewhere, then footsteps running toward the room.
The footsteps reached the door and it opened. In desperation he tried to pull himself off the bed. A strong pair of arms caught him as he began to overbalance and fall to the floor.
"Noooo!" he almost sobbed in frustration. Now he would certainly be punished again.
"It's all right, Face, you're safe," a soothing voice assured him.
At those words, though, the man panicked even more. This man must have been a new Master; he'd used the special code word for a blow job. He reached for the zipper of the Master's pants, as he'd been trained, his mind too foggy for conscious thought. The Master shifted his position though so the man couldn't reach him.
Hannibal gently deposited his lieutenant back on the bed.
"N-n-not a-allowed," the man whimpered.
"Shh, it's all right. You're safe now," Hannibal repeated.
The man pulled away as best he could.
"Don't you know who this is, Face? It's me, Hannibal."
At those words the man began to shriek hysterically. The nurses pushed Hannibal away from the bed. He stood, stunned for a moment, then allowed himself to be led back to the others.
"What is it? What happened, Colonel?" Murdock asked.
Richter took one look at Smith's face and led him to a chair. BA brought a cup of cold water.
"What happened?" Richter echoed.
"I told him who I was and he ... started screaming."
"He wha'?" BA demanded.
"Perhaps if you tell us what happened from the time the alarms started going off," Richter countered.
"He must've panicked when he woke up because I caught him just as he was falling off the bed."
"Fallin' off the bed?" BA asked.
"Yeah, it was almost like he was *trying* to get off the bed. When I put him back on it he said something like, 'Not allowed', but it was hard to tell."
"'Not allowed', that's odd," Murdock echoed.
"That's what it sounded like, Captain. I can't be sure, though. The alarm must've been when he pulled the IV out."
The nurses filed out of the room, followed by the doctor.
"How is he, Doctor?" Hannibal asked as he pounced on the man.
"We had to sedate him. What exactly happened?"
Richter looked thoughtful as Hannibal repeated his story.
"Mr. Templeton," the doctor began hesitantly, "it might be better if we restrict your son to no visitors for the moment."
When Hannibal began to protest, the doctor continued hurriedly. "Until he's a little more stable. Apparently he didn't recognize you ..."
Richter intervened before Hannibal could say what was on his mind. "Doctor, speaking as a therapist, it might be better for the patient if he did have his family and friends near him. Right now he's still feverish, true, but a familiar face might do him some good."
The doctor shook his head. "I can't have my patient upset like that again. It's hard on his system and I can't keep feeding him tranquilizers while he's so weak. So, for now, no visitors."
BA snarled as the doctor left them but was restrained by Richter. "Right now we all need to get some rest. It's been a long day and none of us is thinking clearly."
"You're probably right, Doctor. Why don't you take Captain Murdock back to the VA? Sergeant, you look dead on your feet, too."
"What 'bout you, Colonel?" Murdock asked.
"I'm staying right here, Captain."
"No way! If I gotta go, you gotta go!" Murdock answered.
"Captain, I ..." Hannibal began.
"Gentlemen, please. It's obvious that none of you want to leave your friend so why don't we settle in for the night? I'm sure the nurses can find us a few pillows. Let's see if we can't get some sleep, all right?"
When the man woke again he was too groggy from the drug they'd given him to remember to feign sleep. He moaned as the pain returned with consciousness. He tried to shift his arms to a more comfortable position but his wrists were tied to the rails beside the bed. The restraints were cushioned but he was still restrained; the worst things happened to him while he was restrained. He couldn't see what was holding his legs down but he couldn't move them either. Before his mind could clear itself, the door opened and someone stepped in. His chest tightened in panic. He tried in vain to pull his arms free.
"It sounds like he's beginning to wake, Doctor Sullivan. Here's his chart," a male voice announced.
"Thank you, doctor," a female voice responded. "I'd like a moment alone with my patient, if you don't mind."
"Certainly. Just press the call button if you need any help." The doctor left the room quietly.
The new doctor didn't say anything as the man cringed in front of her. She looked at him for a few moments, then read the chart in her hands and shook her head.
When she had finished reading, she moved closer to the bed. "Welcome back, Lieutenant. It's been a long time, hasn't it?"
The man was bewildered. He didn't remember any female Masters ... Mistresses, he supposed. But the woman in front of him was definitely not a slave; she had too much of an air of authority. She must have been a new Master ... Mistress. He'd learned very quickly how to spot the difference between Masters and slaves. Masters had an indefinable air about them, no matter how they were disguised.
Maggie Sullivan couldn't believe the sight that met her eyes. Templeton Peck had never been what you might call fat but now he looked almost emaciated. He lay cringing on the bed, his former self-confidence totally
"Face, it's Maggie Sullivan. I'm here to help you. I'm going to examine you now, all right?"
Since she seemed to expect an answer, he nodded cautiously, still confused. She, too, had used a code word. He was thankful that she didn't seem to expect him to perform. The Mistress smiled and pressed a button. Someone new entered the room. Startled, the man turned his head so he could see the newcomer. When he saw someone else enter, he settled back onto the bed, just staring at the bonds that held him down, the feeling of dread settling into the pit of his stomach as it always did.
Maggie turned his face so she could see it. The big blue eyes avoided hers, looking down, but so sad that her own eyes teared up in response. She thought to herself, 'Templeton Peck, those eyes ought to be classified as lethal weapons.' She reached down to untie the restraints. The man relaxed visibly as the new Mistress moved to release him from his bonds.
"Doctor, without the restraints he removes the IV and tries to get out of bed," the nurse warned as she hurried to the bedside.
"I need to be able to move him so I can complete my examination. Besides, look how tense he is while he's restrained. How is he supposed to heal when he can't relax?"
The man looked up at the newcomer, hopeful.
The nurse shook her head and helped Maggie untie the knots. Despite the seriousness of her friend's condition, Maggie laughed to herself. She mumbled, "Definitely lethal."
"Excuse me, Doctor?"
"Nothing. And the name's Maggie."
"Rhonda." The nurse smiled.
The man was whimpering in pain by the time they finished the examination.
"When's the last time he had anything for pain?" Maggie asked.
"He's due for another injection in ... about half an hour, according to his chart."
"Go ahead with it now. It's been a long time since I've seen wounds like this but I remember how much they hurt."
"You've seen wounds like these before? Where?"
"Vietnam." The look on the doctor's face kept the nurse from asking more. She hurried to get the morphine.
Maggie reached down and stroked the lank blond hair, mumbling soothing words. When the man closed his eyes, she started to pull away.
The man was confused. The Masters seldom left him in this much pain for very long. These new Masters seemed both kinder and crueler at the same time. Kinder in the way they spoke to him and treated him, but crueler in how they made the pain last - so long this time! Emboldened by the pain and the kind gestures, the man reached for the new Mistress' hand. He looked up at her, knowing his action might result in punishment.
"M-m-m-mistress?" he tried timidly. "P-p-please? Hurts?"
He closed his eyes and held his breath as the Mistress just stared at him. He was going to be punished for daring to touch the Mistress.
Maggie wanted to cry as she heard the soft voice begging. She moved back to the bed and started caressing his head. He cringed as he felt the soft touch, then opened his eyes as she spoke to him gently. "Shh, it's all
right. The nurse is coming with a shot for you. I know how bad this hurts. I won't let you hurt for very long." Her voice choked on the last sentence.
"Th-h-h-ank you, M-m-mistress." He lay back on the bed waiting for the nurse to arrive with the medication.
"Face, why do you keep calling me 'Mistress'?" she asked.
The man was puzzled. Was a female Master not a Mistress? Had he somehow offended the kind Mistress? He hoped not. He hoped he would be allowed to stay with her for a while.
The nurse entered with the morphine before he could answer. The Mistress signed for him to be quiet. Obediently he kept silent as the nurse injected the drug through the IV line.
Maggie stayed in the room for a while after the nurse left. "Okay, that should kick in in a few minutes. Now, do you want to tell me why you keep calling me 'Mistress'?"
The fear and confusion showed in his eyes. He chose his words as cautiously as the pain would allow. "H-h-have I done wr-r-rong, Mistr ...? Y-you are n-n-not a s-slave, but I c-can't c-c-call you 'M-m-m-master'."
"Face ..." she began, then hesitated.
The code word again. Thinking she must mean it this time, he reached toward the waistband of her jeans.
"What the ... ??" she yelped, stepping back.
He cringed back on the bed, awaiting punishment for whatever he'd done wrong.
"Face, do you want to tell me why you just did that?"
He looked up at her, bewildered. Surely she knew! This was some kind of test, to see how well-trained he was. "I'm s-s-sorry, M-mistr ... Y-you used a c-code w-word. I ..."
"A code word? What kind of code word?"
"M-m-my M-m-m-masters t-trained me well. I-i-i ..." His apparent terror was making speech difficult.
Maggie closed her eyes. "It's all right, Face. What was the code word I used?"
He shivered in anticipation of punishment if he said the wrong thing. "F-f-face."
"Oh God," she mumbled under her breath. "You have no idea who I am, do you?"
"Y-y-you are a M-master," he whimpered, his voice rising a little in pitch.
"My name is Maggie Sullivan. I'm a doctor, a friend of the Team. Do you remember the Team?"
He shook his head.
"What's your name?"
Finally a question he could answer with certainty. "S-slave, n-not allowed n-name." She must be testing him. Perhaps his Masters were going to sell him and this was the inspection. This Mistress seemed kinder than his old Masters.
"Where have you been the past two years?"
"W-with the M-m-masters."
"You've been kept as a slave for the past two years?" she asked incredulously. "Who were your Masters?"
He looked up at her, his confusion evident. "I-i-i d-don't kn-now."
"You said 'Face' was a code word. Are there others?"
He nodded slowly, thinking this another test.
"Tell me what they are. Is one of them 'Hannibal'?"
The man cringed and whimpered.
"Shh, it's all right, Fa ... I don't know what to call you," Maggie soothed. "How about Temp? Is that okay?"
The man's terror seemed to abate somewhat as she soothed him. Sensing that he wasn't going to be punished for the moment, he cooperated with her as much as possible.
"So Temp it is. That's your name for now."
He nodded and suppressed a yawn.
"Tired?" the doctor asked.
"I won't keep you up long. I just want to ask you a few more questions."
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