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Need for Freedom 1-4

Need for Freedom

by SherryGabs ©2002

 

Rated: PG-13

Disclaimer: I don't own the boys. I just make them do what the voices in my head tell me to.

Warnings: Language, violence, tiny hint of a non-con. matter later on. Nothing much. Oh, and sappiness, of course.

Summary: Face tries to escape Stockwell's hospitality, but hits a snag.

Author's Notes: This was my very first A-Team story written a few years ago. Actually, first piece of written anything! At the time I didn't know there was an episode in season five where Face does try to leave the Team. There's really no similarities at all.

Sorry all you Frankie fans (Hah! Yeah right!) He's not in this. I sent him out of town.

 

=============================================

 

Part 1

 

He had just finished his last stop. He had gone to the bank to transfer money from his account there to another bank in Switzerland. He knew it would be safe stashed there until he needed it. Nobody but him even knew about this account. He had opened it many years ago and just kept stashing money away for future use. Lord knows after all those years on the run with the Team, he hardly ever had to pay rent or utility bills. Most of the time he just scammed apartments or anything else he needed. He only spent a portion of what his share of earnings were. The rest he would stash away and let it build up interest. Of course, it was under another name. He couldn't exactly have an account under the name Templeton Peck. That would be way too easy for his enemies; namely, Stockwell and the military, to trace.

 

He had quite a sum saved up. It would be enough to start a new life for himself. He sat behind the wheel of his Vette thinking about that. 'A new life.' He was excited, yet scared about that. In his barely forty years on this earth he had never truly been on his own. With nobody to answer to, and nobody to have to check in with. He had never been totally free.

 

He had been planning this for many months now. Stashing cash reserves here and there, planning routes back to California, figuring out transportation problems. He figured he'd take a plane out of Virginia, since he knew he'd need to get out of Virginia quickly. Then he'd take a train part of the way across the country and finish the trek on a bus. Maybe doing things this way would keep anyone following him guessing. He hoped he'd been covering his tracks well enough. He didn't know if Stockwell had become curious about his recent disappearances with no word to anyone. He knew Hannibal was wandering about him. He would just leave for a few hours and come back to the house with his excuses being lame and unclear.

 

Tomorrow he would buy a plane ticket out of Virginia. Under an alias he'd never used before. He knew the guys knew all of his names, so he came up with a new one. 'Someday', he thought, 'someday I'll have the normal life I've always wanted. No more changing names, constantly changing addresses. Hell, maybe eventually, even a real nine-to-five job!' He knew that would take time. A long time. He'd have to hide away till the heat of Stockwell, and eventually, the military cooled off. Fortunately, thanks to Father Maghill and the Catholic church, he had that hideaway. That sanctuary.

 

"Well Face," he said to himself, "better get back to the house before you're missed too much." He started the Vette and drove off. He never noticed the black car a block away. The black car that had been following him for 2 weeks.

 

***********

 

Hannibal stood at the kitchen counter finishing the preparations for tonight's dinner. He was cutting the vegetables with a knife, really whacking down hard on them. He was angry at Face, wondering where the hell he was. The kid had disappeared a few hours ago, with no word to anyone. 'What the hell has that kid been up to lately?' he thought. BA and Murdock were in the living room watching TV. Murdock was petting the invisible dog that sat beside him on the sofa. "There now, Billy. You just relax. I won't let BA pick on you anymore. You just remember he's a mean ole mudsucker that never had a doggy's love."

 

"Shut up Fool! Or I'll ram that damn invisible dog right up your behind! Followed by my foot!" BA groused, getting up from the chair and going into the kitchen.

 

"Hannibal!" Murdock said from the sofa, "Did you hear what that ugly monster said to me? He's got poor Billy so frightened, I'm going to have to get him some doggy Valium!" Murdock comforted the air beside him. "It's okay, Billy. Face'll be home soon. He'll have some nice treats for you."

 

BA said, "Man, Hannibal, that crazy sucka's gonna send me to an early grave with all his crazy talk."

 

Hannibal just smiled as he continued to hack on the veggies. "Now, BA. You know he only does that to irritate you. Why don't you just let him think it doesn't bother you. Maybe he'll quit." His voice became more serious. "By the way, did Face tell you where he was going today?"

 

"Nah. Been wonderin' about him lately. He's been spendin' a lot of time on his own. Hardly ever see him anymore between assignments. He's either in his room, or out somewhere. What do you think his problem is?"

 

"I wish I knew, BA. I wish I knew," Hannibal sighed. 'I think it's time me and the Lieutenant had a talk,' he thought.

 

Murdock had heard the conversation from the living room. He had also been wandering about his best friend. He'd known Face to keep things from him, but nothing big. This time was different. It was as if Face was trying to hide something serious from him. He'd been too secretive lately. It just wasn't like him.

 

He thought back to a conversation he'd had with Face a few months before. After he'd been shot at the restaurant and was in the hospital. He'd walked into Face's room and his friend's face had a deeply depressed look on it. "Hey, what's up, muchacho. You look like the world's on your shoulders."

 

Face looked up at him and put a half smile on trying to hide his feelings. "Nothing, Murdock. I'm fine."

 

But he knew better than that. He could tell when something was bothering Face. He sat down on the edge of the bed. "Come on now, Facey. I know you better than that. What's up?"

 

Face just sighed and looked down at his hands. "I-I ah, I guess I'm feeling a little miserable about certain things." He sighed again. "Sometimes I just wish I could get the hell away from here! Away from Stockwell and his goons always hanging around watching us. I really hate them!"

 

Murdock sighed. "I know that, Face. We all feel the same way. But Stockwell's got us by the balls until he hands you guys your pardons."

 

"Murdock, do you honestly believe that Stockwell intends to ever give us our pardons?" Face asked, making his disbelief evident.

 

"Yeah, Face. I think he will. He's just taking his sweet ole time, making us work for it. I think he enjoys pissing Hannibal off,'' he quipped.

 

Face just shook his head. "Well, Murdock, you have more faith in him than I do. He makes me feel like a damn prisoner in that house. He has bugs everywhere and his men report to him every move we make. I just wish I could make a simple phone call without thinking it's being overheard!" He shook his head in anger.

 

Murdock, trying to lighten things up said, "Well, who you gonna call Ů Ghostbusters? Come on, Face, it's not like there's anyone so important in your life right now that you have to worry about a bugged phone."

 

Face looked at Murdock and felt an urge to knock him right off the bed. "Murdock, maybe there is someone who is very important to me. Someone that I don't want to think I'm dead!"

 

Murdock looked at his friend wide-eyed. He hadn't expected that outburst. "Uh, Face? Who would that be?" he wondered. Then it hit him. Father Maghill. Of course, how could he have been so callous. "Is it Father Maghill, Face? Is it? I'm sorry, man. I guess I'd forgotten how much he means to you. I guess I never gave much thought to the people who knew us before the so-called 'execution'." He held his fingers up as quotes. " I mean, most of my family's gone, and I haven't talked to my father in years anyway. But you realize, Face, that no one is supposed to know you're alive. If the Army found out, we'd be in deep kaka."

 

Face felt tears stinging his eyes. He did miss Father Maghill and it was tearing him up inside to think the priest who raised him thought he was dead. "You guessed it, HM. I really miss him. He means everything to me." Face sighed sadly. "I wish he was here now to talk to. You, BA and Hannibal are my best friends, and I know I can talk to you, but sometimes I just need Father Maghill. He always knew the right thing to say. Usually taken straight from the Scriptures, too. Sometimes, I just need a little guidance. Someone to pray with. Don't you ever feel the need to pray, Murdock?" he asked.

 

Murdock thought a minute. "Yeah, I guess I do. I just don't find it that easy is all." He worried for his friend. He knew Face was brought up very religiously and that it had stuck with him all these years. Even in the POW camp in Nam, when they were going through such torture and pain. A day never went by when Face didn't pray to give thanks for all of them still being alive and to ask for hope for tomorrow. Many times Murdock just couldn't understand how he could still have faith in a god that was letting him be beaten, starved and tormented in many ways by the Vietmanese. But the kid never lost his faith.

 

************

 

"Murdock! Set the table!" Hannibal shouted from the kitchen, bringing Murdock back to the present.

 

"Uh, sure, Colonel." A thought had struck him. He wondered if Face had contacted Father Maghill. He also hoped that the thought going through his mind wouldn't be true. Was Face planning something? Oh, he hoped not.

 

****************

 

Murdock was setting the table when Face finally came through the door. "Hey guys," he said. He was hoping no one would comment about his being gone.

 

Hannibal looked him up and down. "Gee, kid, nice to see you made it back safely. Have a good afternoon?"

 

Face reddened a little bit. Trying to hide his discomfort he said, "Yeah, it was fine. Frankie not back yet?" He was trying to change the subject.

 

"No. Stockwell still has him showing that other operative of his how to set up phony machine gun fire and explosions and stuff." Murdock chimed in. He noticed how Face had changed the topic. "So, Face, what did you do today?"

 

"Oh, nothing really. Just went to see a movie with Pamela." Face said, hoping that would end it. No such luck.

 

"What movie? Was it any good?" Murdock asked, trying to draw him out.

 

'Geez! Why can't he just shut up?' Face wondered. "Some horror flick. I was with lovely Pamela, remember? We weren't paying too much attention to the movie, if you get my meaning."

 

Murdock let it drop finally. The guys sat down to dinner. BA started wolfing down his food and got a disgusted look on his face. "Damn, Hannibal! What is this stuff? I wish you'd learn how to follow a recipe," he said, washing down the food with a glass of milk.

 

Hannibal gave his sergeant a wounded look. "Now, BA, I spent a lot of time on this meal. The least you could do is show some appreciation. Besides, maybe if Stockwell notices we're starving, he'll hire us a cook. Think so, Murdock?"

 

"I don't know 'bout that, Colonel. He'll probably hire some witchipoo type character who'll put strange things in our food to try to control our minds." He got a maniacal far-away look in his eyes. "And then when we're all under her control, she'll get us into the oven. One by one. Just like Hansel and Gretel. She'll bake us up nice and crisp and feed us to the Stockwell's abels."

 

BA stood up at this and glared down at the man. "Shut up! Stop your crazy talk or I'llŮ"

 

"Now boys," Hannibal scorned, "can't we have a nice quiet, peaceful dinner for a change?" BA growled at the crazy pilot and sat down. Face looked around at his 'family' with a slight smile on his face. It was the good times like these that were making his heart ache. How was ever going to be able to say goodbye to them? How he wished they were still on their own, then he wouldn't have to be making this decision.

 

The rest of dinner went peacefully. Afterwards, Hannibal informed Murdock and Face it was their turn to do cleanup. He made a mental note to have a talk with Face later to see if something was bothering him. After listening to the pair's grumbles about kitchen duty, he went off to the den to call Stockwell to give his final report on their last job.

 

"You wanna wash or dry?" Murdock asked. "Oh wait. I already know the answer. You'll dry so your hands don't get all wrinkly and pruny. Right?"

 

Face gave him a wide smile. "Sounds fine to me." He did hate washing dishes, after all.

 

Hannibal had gone to the den and BA had gone out to tinker on the van÷.again. So Murdock thought this would be a good time to ask Face what had been on his mind. "So, Facey÷.uh, anything been going down with you lately?"

 

Face looked at him. "What do you mean?"

 

The pilot put another plate in the dish drainer. "Well, it's just that I noticed you been spending a lot of time out on your own lately. I mean, are you and Pamela getting real close, or are you just getting sick of us?"

 

Face grabbed the plate. He hated lying to Murdock. "Uh, yeah, it's Pamela. We've been spending quite a bit of time together. She's a great girl." Looking down at the plate he was drying, he hoped Murdock didn't notice his nervousness. "And how could I ever get sick of you guys? You and BA are enough to keep anyone entertained forever. You bring out the very best in him."

 

Murdock looked at Face and tried to read him. He doubted the thing about Pamela, and felt fairly sure things were okay between Face and the rest of them. But he knew there was something else. He decided to see if his earlier thoughts were true.

 

"Face, remember when you were in the hospital after getting shot? You talked about how you missed Father Maghill," he hedged. "Have you tried calling him? Tried getting in contact with him somehow?" Murdock jumped as the plate Face was holding dropped to the floor and shattered.

 

"Shit." Face murmured. He bent down to pick the pieces up and threw them in the wastebasket. 'Damn! How am I going to answer that question. Another lie? I've been doing so much of that lately, what was one more? "No, Murdock. I have not tried calling Father Maghill. Could we please just finish with these dishes? I have a book waiting to be read."

 

'I think I might have hit on something.' Murdock thought to himself. He gave Face a grin. "Sure thing. Anything you say."

 

 

Part 2

 

When they were finished cleaning up the kitchen, Face said he was going to his room to read for the rest of the evening. He didn't want to be questioned anymore. He was beginning to have doubts of his ability to leave. He knew he wanted to get out from under General Stockwell's thumb. He wanted the freedom he'd never had before. But he just wasn't sure if he could leave his friends behind. They'd been together for so long. Through good and bad. He wished he could talk to them about it, but knew they'd never allow him to go. They would just tell him about how Stockwell would have his people looking everywhere for him till they found him. And if he was found he probably wouldn't live long enough to regret it. Stockwell would probably have him killed. The Team would literally tie him down to keep him from leaving.

 

As Face sat in his room thinking with the book open in his hands, Hannibal had come out of the den and looked around for him. "Murdock, where's Face?" he asked. He wanted to talk to his lieutenant about his absences.

 

Murdock looked up from the TV. "He's in his room reading, Colonel. I think something's going on with him, but he won't tell me anything. Think he'll tell you?"

 

"Well, I'm gonna try," he said and made his way to Face's door. He knocked and opened the door without waiting for an invitation. He found Face sitting on the bed with a book. Face didn't look up at him, too lost in his thoughts to have heard him come in. "Lieutenant," he said, "we need to have a talk." This time Face heard him. He looked up surprised. 'Uh-oh,' he thought. 'Does Hannibal suspect something, too.' The colonel wouldn't be so easy to put off.

 

"Face," he started. "I know you've been disappearing now and then and not telling anyone where you've been or what you're up to. Now, I don't like it when secrets are being kept from me. It actually pisses me off quite a bit. Is there something you need to get off your chest?" He looked Face straight in the eye. At first he saw fright in the blue eyes, then quickly that was replaced by a look of frustration.

 

"No, Hannibal. There is nothing I need to get off my chest. Like I already told Murdock, I've just been seeing a lot of Pamela. That's it. Nothing more. Okay?" He hoped Hannibal would leave it at that. But the colonel was a stubborn man.

 

"No, it's not okay," he stated. "I think there's more to your vanishing acts than a girl. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were planning something. Now, Lieutenant, tell me the truth. Are you planning on doing something stupid?" He was not going to waiver till he got an answer.

 

Face was getting angry now. "No, Colonel, I am not planning anything! Now would you please just get off my friggin' back! You don't have much trust in me at all do you?" he challenged.

 

Hannibal looked down at his lieutenant and saw the hurt look on his face. 'Was the kid telling the truth?' He couldn't tell, but he knew he had hurt Face by questioning his trust. "Look, Face, I do trust you. I just don't want you to do something stupid and get yourself hurt. You mean too much to us to let that happen. You know you can talk to me about anything, don't you?" he asked.

 

"Yes, Hannibal, I do know that. But there's nothing to talk about."

 

Hannibal looked at him and sighed. "Okay, Face. I believe you. I'm sorry I upset you. Go back to your reading. I'll see you in the morning."

 

"It's okay, Hannibal. Goodnight." Face offered. Hannibal turned around and left the room. Face let out a long sigh. 'This isn't going to be very easy at all, is it?' He wished he could talk to Hannibal about it. The man was like a father to him. But this thing just had to be kept to himself. If he told anyone, they could be put in danger because of him. He wasn't going to let that happen.

 

************

 

Face was having a hard time sleeping that night. He was going over in his head the steps he needed to take to make his escape a successful one. In the morning he would once again make up some excuse for leaving for a while. Go to the airport and check on flights out of Virginia. The next and biggest problem was when to make his break. Stockwell hadn't mentioned any new missions in the near future, but that could change quickly. He knew he would have to do it soon, or he would chicken out of it altogether. 'Tomorrow night,' he decided. 'Tomorrow night after everyone's asleep.' He'd make himself unrecognizable, sneak out, walk a ways down the road and take a taxi to the airport. He wouldn't take much with him. The lighter the load, the better. He'd leave his beloved vette behind. 'Well, the car's just too flashy. Too recognizable.'

 

But how was he going to leave without saying goodbye to his family. Leaving them was going to hurt them deeply. Especially with no goodbyes. He got out of bed and over to the desk by the window. He would write them a letter explaining everything. He found a sheet of paper and chewed on the end of the pen thinking. 'This is the best way to do it,' he figured. 'I can't just leave without letting them know how much they mean to me. I have to let them realize just how difficult it is for me to stay here.' Putting pen to paper he wrote:

 

Hey guys.

I guess you've noticed I'm gone by now. I'm truly sorry for letting you know this way. But it was the only way I could leave and say goodbye.

First of all, please don't blame yourselves. I didn't want to leave you guys. I just wanted to leave our situation. I hate being stuck here in Langley. I hate working for Stockwell, never knowing if he's going to pardon us or not. I just can't take any more of this.

I've never told you this, but I also don't feel I'm needed as much as I used to be. You really don't need me to scam much anymore. Stockwell gets you anything you need. Sometimes I feel kind of like a fifth wheel. Just standing around following orders. You guys have to try to understand.... In all my life I have never truly known freedom. There has always been someone to answer to or someone to check in with. Always someone standing over me. I just want the opportunity to answer only to myself and no one else.

I know what you're thinking: 'Face, you'll be on the run again. How can you call that freedom?' Well, the only person I'll have to worry about is me. I've been planning this a long time and feel I've done the best I can to cover myself.

But I had to let you guys know how I felt about you. I love all of you more than you could ever know. It's tearing me up inside to be doing this, but I feel it's for the best.

Frankie, I haven't known you long, but I know you're a good man. The Vette is yours. Enjoy. BA, you're the best big brother anyone could hope for. You've protected me all these years. Kept me from getting pulverized more times than I care to remember. Murdock, my other brother. You're also my best buddy. People think you're crazy, but I know better. You've been the one to help me keep my sanity intact. You're a very special person to me, Murdock. I hope you realize that. Hannibal. What can I say? You've been the father I never had. You've guided me in the right directions, kept me straight, and showed me what unconditional devotion to each member of your Team means. If it hadn't been for you constantly kicking me in the seat of my pants all those years ago, I would have ended up in prison or dead. You'll never know how much I appreciate all you've done for me.

Well, guys. I hope this tells you everything I couldn't tell you in person. Please don't be angry with me. This is very hard for me to do. I'm going to miss you guys so much. But please understand why I'm doing it.

If, and when, you do get your pardons, I'll look you up. I hope it does happen someday. I'm just not very confident in that right now.

So this is my goodbye to you. I love you all.

 

Face

 

 

By the time he signed the letter, the words were blurry from tears. He would miss all of them terribly. He felt better for having written the letter though. He went back to bed and fell into an exhausted sleep.

 

***************

 

The next morning, Face awoke to the sudden shrieks of Murdock trying to get away from BA in the hallway outside his door. "Ah, come on, BA! I didn't mean to spill the orange juice on you! It was an accident. Honest!" Murdock pleaded.

 

"Accident, huh?" BA shouted. "You are one big accident! Why are you here so early anyway? Don't you have your own apartment to stay at?"

 

"Hannibal said I could sleep on the couch last night. And it's not like I love seeing your butt-ugly face first thing in the morning, either!" Murdock said.

 

BA grabbed Murdock around the neck. "Just for that, you're gonna make my breakfast. I want pancakes and sausage. Lots of sausage. You understand me, crazyman? And if those pancakes aren't the way I like 'em, I'm gonna make you eat them through a feeding tube!"

 

"Okay, okay," Murdock said. "Just let go of my neck so I can do it! Geez!"

 

BA pounded on Face's door on his way back to the kitchen. "Come on, Faceman! Time to get up. I need you to get me a part for my van this morning."

 

Face pulled the blankets from over his head. "Okay. I'm awake," he said. 'Who wouldn't be awake after all that noise!' He sat up on the edge of the bed remembering what he had to do this morning. At least BA had given him an excuse to get out. 'Thanks, BA,' he thought. He left his room and went into the bathroom for a hot shower. Breakfast was ready by the time he dressed and came out to the kitchen. He had to admit, Murdock did make good pancakes. BA had a huge stack on his plate with a pile of sausages on another plate. Hannibal was reading the newspaper at his place. "Morning, Face," he said. Murdock also said good morning to him as he placed a plate of pancakes in front of him. Face looked down at the plate and had to laugh. Murdock had put one big pancake in the middle of the plate and two smaller ones above it, on either side. He had used whipped cream to make eyes and a mouth, and a cherry for a nose. "I know how much you like Mickey Mouse, Face," he said with a silly grin. Hannibal had put the paper down and looked over with a chuckle, as he started on his stack.

 

"Gee thanks, Murdock," Face told him, picking up his fork.

 

"Faceman, my van needs a new carburetor. Can you pick me up one this morning, so I can get the thing runnin' smooth?" BA asked.

 

"Sure, BA. No problem," he said, taking a bite out of Mickey's ear. Of course, he didn't mention the fact that he had to go out anyway. He would pick up the carburetor, then go to the airport and get a plane ticket out of this place.

 

Then Murdock spoke up and reminded him of something. "Hey, Facey," he said. "You still gonna go with me to the mall today. I want to go to that nature store and look around. They got the coolest stuff in there."

 

'Damn' Face thought. 'I forgot all about promising to take him to the mall today. Oh, well. I can still do that for him. Maybe even take him out to lunch first. It could be the last time.' Murdock looked at him waiting for an answer. "Well, Facey?"

 

Face smiled at him. "Sure, Murdock. There's a Captain Bellybuster in the food court. We'll eat there first. Okay?"

 

Murdock gleamed as he got up and gave Face a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Oh, Face. You know how to make me so happy!" he said in a teary voice.

 

Face reddened and pushed him away. "Geez, Murdock. It's no big deal. Just be ready around noon. Okay?"

 

Murdock plopped back down in his chair. "Sure thing, Facey."

 

BA looked up and growled. "Don't expect no damn kiss from me for getting' my carburetor!"

 

Face smiled at him. "Wouldn't think of it, BA!"

 

Hannibal spoke up. "Well, Face. Since you're doing all this other running around. You might as well pick me up some cigars, too."

 

Face looked at him bemusedly. "Okay, Hannibal."

 

After finishing his breakfast and taking his dishes to the sink. Face grabbed his car keys and left. While driving he was thinking, 'What are these guys going to do without me?' He was used to being sent out on errands for everybody. He didn't mind it. After today, though, they'd have to do it on their own. He picked up the carburetor at the auto parts store, deciding to pick up some car washing liquid and wax at the same time. BA would appreciate that. Then got Hannibal's cigars. He bought him some nice, expensive ones this time. 'He'd never pay this much for cigars himself,' thought Face. Getting these extras for BA and Hannibal helped ease his conscience a little.

 

He still hadn't noticed the black car parked a few cars behind his own car as he got in and headed for the airport. He went to different counters checking departure times for late that night. He found one that had a departure time of 2:00 AM, that had a layover in Chicago. He decided that would be the one and bought a ticket. He then went back to his car to go back home. The black car turned off in a different direction when the driver noticed Face was heading back to the house. The driver of that car picked up his car phone and dialed. "Yes, General. He's going to the house now," he said and hung up.

 

Part 3

 

Arriving home, he gave BA and Hannibal their things. "Hey, Faceman. How did you know I wanted to wash and wax my van? Thanks." BA said gratefully.

 

Face smiled and said, "I know how much you like to baby that thing," was all he said.

 

Hannibal opened his cigars and ran one under his nose. "Hmmm. Nice. What's the occasion for the little surprise?" he asked.

 

"Oh, no occasion, Hannibal," Face said innocently. "Just thought you'd enjoy them. Of course, you wouldn't mind if I had one, would you?" he asked.

 

Hannibal gave him one and lit it for him. "I guess I can spare one," he said, laughing.

 

Face sat down on the sofa, taking a long puff from the cigar. He looked over at BA and Hannibal and thought, 'Glad I could make you guys happy today. Because tomorrow's going to be a different story.' He sighed and picked up the newspaper Hannibal had left there. He read until it was time to leave with Murdock. The pilot had gone home to shower and change clothes. He was back at the house on time and eager to go out with his best friend.

 

In the food court at the mall, Face bought their lunch and even bought Murdock a new Captain Bellybuster hat, since BA had shredded his last one. Murdock was ecstatic. "Ah, Face. I love it! You're the best friend a guy could ever have!" he said, putting the hat on.

 

Face smiled at him. "I'm glad I could make you happy, HM. Now let's eat and get over to that nature store."

 

Murdock wandered through every part of the store, playing with anything that had moving parts or made some noise. Face followed his friend, glad Murdock was having a good time. Murdock decided to buy some rubber bugs and a long rubber snake. Face gave him a doubtful look. "Uh, Murdock. What are you planning on doing with those?" he asked, already suspecting what the answer would be.

 

Murdock gave him an innocent look. "Why, what do you mean, Face? I want to start a collection is all. I would never dream of doing anything with these to irritate a certain big, mean, socially challenged individual." While Murdock was paying for his stuff Face was thinking, 'Maybe I'll be glad not to see the trouble Murdock's going to get into with those!' They left the mall and went back to the house.

 

Driving through the gate and up the long driveway, Face and Murdock noticed Stockwell's limousine parked at the house. "Uh, oh, Facey," Murdock said. "Speaking of socially challenged people. Wonder what he wants."

 

Face felt cold dread washing over him. 'Oh, shit,' he thought. 'This can't be good.' He prayed Stockwell wasn't here about him. "Uh, I don't know, Murdock. Maybe it's a new mission." Face said, hoping neither was the case. 'Maybe it's nothing,' he hoped. But as he would soon find out, that wasn't the case.

 

Getting out of the car, they noticed two abels standing outside the door. Both stared straight ahead as Face and Murdock walked between them. When they came through the door, Hannibal, BA and Stockwell were all standing in the living room.

 

Five minutes earlier Stockwell had walked through the door, a very serious look on his face. "Gentlemen," he said to Hannibal and BA. "I trust you are both well today. I'm here on a serious matter, Colonel. When do you expect your lieutenant to be back?" he asked coldly.

 

Hannibal noticed the emphasis in regards to Face. He looked at BA, who had noticed it also. "I'm not sure. He took Murdock to the mall. They shouldn't be too much longer. You mind telling me what this is about?"

 

Stockwell just stared at him. "I think we'll just wait until they return, if you don't mind." Then baited Hannibal with, "Of course, this would have been avoided if you'd keep an eye on your men, Colonel."

 

Hannibal shot him a look. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

 

BA got in Stockwell's face. "Yeah, man! We're not kids who need babysitters. What are you talkin' about, Stockwell?"

 

The general didn't flinch. "Obviously, one of your team needs to be watched over. He's been up to some very naughty things."

 

It was at this time Face and Murdock walked through the door, the two abels following silently behind them. Stockwell took a deep breath as he looked at Face in mildly disguised anger. "Well, well, the prodigal son returns. Nice to see you again, Lieutenant. Been busy lately?"

 

Face stood frozen. 'He knows! How?' He felt a fury growing with himself. He had slipped up somewhere. How could Stockwell have known? Unless he'd had him followed. His hatred towards Stockwell was never more intense than now.

 

"Nothing to say? Come now, Lieutenant. Why don't you have a seat here and we can discuss this situation."

 

Face was trembling with anger and apprehension. He glanced at BA and Hannibal as he started over towards the sofa. Murdock followed him. "Face, what's he talking about?" Face reddened, and just shook his head slowly. Murdock was getting a very bad feeling.

 

Face sat down on the sofa, and the general dramatically dropped a thick folder down on the coffee table in front of him. "Read it, Lieutenant. Although you probably already know what's in it." With cold hands Face opened the folder and skimmed through the first few pages. He slammed it shut and put his head down in his hands. 'Oh, God!' he thought. 'How am I going to explain this to them?'

 

Looking down at the young man, Hannibal asked cautiously, "What's this all about? What's in the folder?" Face couldn't answer. He couldn't even look the colonel in the eye. He just shook his head.

 

Murdock sat down and put his arm around his friend's shoulders. "It's okay, Face. Tell us what this is all about. It'll be all right." Face could only shake his head more. 'No, it won't,' he thought.

 

The general started pacing in front of the men, looking very pleased with himself. He knew this would happen someday. And knew Peck would be the first to try. He stopped pacing and looked at the men. "If Mr. Peck can't explain it to you, then I will. It seems over the past couple of months he's been making several phone calls to California. To an orphanage in Los Angeles attached with the Catholic church. He's also been making several bank transactions. Moving funds around from here to there. And then just this morning, he was at the airport buying a ticket out of town."

 

Face looked at Stockwell, pure hatred in his eyes. "You bastard!" was all he could mutter.

 

Hannibal looked at Face his voice raising, "Face. Is all this true? Were you planning on leaving us?"

 

Face looked down again and nodded slowly. Murdock looked at him, hurt. "Why Face?"

 

Before he could say anything, Stockwell let his anger out on Face. "Lieutenant, did you think I wouldn't find out about this? Do you think I am so stupid that I wouldn't notice all those times you left by yourself with no word to anyone? You're a sneaky conman and untrustworthy. I've always had my abels keep a close eye on you. They report everything to me, you know. I've been having you followed for a while now." He slammed his fist down on the coffee table, causing Face and Murdock both to flinch slightly. "No one goes against me, Peck! No one tries to hide anything from me. No one has succeeded in getting away from me and lived. Do you understand that now?" He was trembling in anger and took a moment to collect himself. The room was eerily silent during that time. They'd never seen the general lose control before.

 

"Now, I am going to leave here and let you try to explain your actions to these three men. The men who consider you a part of their team. The men you are more than willing to leave behind. But first, hand over the plane ticket and your car keys. You are not to leave this house until I say so. I am posting extra abels to keep an eye on you. Do you understand?"

 

Face looked up at him very coolly. "You can't keep me here if I don't want to stay. I can always find a way out. Maybe not now, but eventually."

 

Stockwell eyed him like a cobra ready to strike. "No, Lieutenant. Not until I say so. Now hand over the ticket and keys." Face surrendered his keys and the plane ticket from his jacket pocket to Stockwell, staring him down also, refusing to be intimidated. Stockwell took them, picked the folder up and looked at the other three men. "I will leave you to deal with this man. Security will be upgraded. Good day, gentlemen," he said and left. The abels stayed at the door.

 

Face was miserable and angry. He thought he been careful. Now he would have to explain to his three friends how he was going to leave them. He knew they wouldn't be happy. He looked up and scanned the faces of the men. Murdock just looked sad and confused. Hannibal and BA were both shooting proverbial angry daggers at him. They were waiting for an explanation.

 

He started fidgeting under their scrutiny. He got up and started pacing, trying to find the right words to say. The other three men watched him. 'How could he do this to them?' all three wondered. 'After all these years together, how could he just leave so suddenly?' Hannibal was the first to speak up. "Well, kid. I think we deserve an explanation."

 

Face stood still and ran his hand through his hair. "Hannibal, I-uh," he started, but didn't know what to say.

 

Hannibal was suddenly furious. "How could you do it, Face?" He grabbed Face's collar and slammed him up against the wall.

 

"Hannibal, please÷.." he begged.

 

BA walked up to him, ringed fist raised. "You better start talkin'! Cuz I'm 'bout ready to turn your pretty face into pulp!"

 

He was frightened now, knowing the bigger man meant it. He turned to Murdock for help, but only got a questioning look back at him.

 

Murdock was calmer, but very hurt. "Face. Why would you do such a thing?" he asked sullenly.

 

'Oh, God,' Face thought. 'Why did this have to turn out this way? They hate me now. How am I ever going to make them believe anything I say?'

 

"Goddammit, Lieutenant! I'm still waiting for an answer!" Hannibal shouted, as he shoved him again for emphasis.

 

"Okay, just let me go! I'll explain," Face begged.

 

Hannibal let him go as he said, "This better be good."

 

Face looked at them knowing he'd hurt them. "Guys, it's not you I want to leave. It's Stockwell and this whole mess we're in that I want to leave," he pleaded his case. "And also, because I've been thinking alot about Father Maghill. I couldn't stand the thought of him thinking I was dead. I had to let him know I was still alive." He stopped, trying to see what the others were thinking before continuing.

 

Hannibal spoke, "Face, we're under orders not to let people know about us. And for good reason. If the military thinks we're alive, they'll be all over us. And all over the people we care about they'd think we'd contact." He paused to let that fact sink in. With Face's chagrined look, he continued. "How was Father Maghill going to help you?"

 

Face's voice was quiet. "First of all, he assured me he wasn't being watched. The Army quit watching that place a long time ago. Father Maghill told me the Church would give me sanctuary for as long as I needed it. I know I could have asked for sanctuary years ago, but I never wanted to use the Church like that. Of course, when we were on our own, I didn't need it. Now, I'm desperate enough to accept it."

 

BA glared at him. "I don't like the idea of anybody using a house of God like that. It ain't right."

 

Face glared right back at him. "I never thought I would like the idea, either. But after being here for so long, it started sounding appealing."

 

Murdock who had been thinking quietly now spoke. "Facey, I remember when you were in the hospital you talked about how much you missed the Father sometimes. I should have seen this coming. For a while now, I could tell something's been bothering you. You just aren't happy anymore. I didn't realize how far it had gone. I'm sorry for not trying to help more."

 

Seeing Murdock blaming himself was the last thing Face wanted. "No! Murdock, I didn't want you to know. If any of you knew you would have tried to stop me. Knowing about it also would have put you in danger from Stockwell. I knew if I'd been caught after leaving here, he'd probably have me killed. I wasn't going to put any of you in danger."

 

Hannibal spoke up then. "Face, he would have eventually figured out where you were going from the calls you made to California. I think it was pretty stupid of you not to realize that Stockwell watches us like hawks. Not only did you put yourself in danger, but Father Maghill and the orphanage, too."

 

Face looked at him sadly. "I realize that now. I wasn't careful enough about watching for tails. I didn't want to bring any danger to anyone. I'm sorry."

 

"Just when were you planning on leaving?" Hannibal asked, still somewhat angry that Face would even consider it.

 

"Tonight. There's a flight leaving at 2:00 AM. Was a flight, I mean. For me at least." Face said, sadly.

 

BA was angry again. "Tonight! You was just plannin' on going with no goodbyes, or nothin'? he asked. "Man, I still feel like pounding you into the ground!"

 

"I wouldn't blame you if you did."

 

But Hannibal stung him with, "Maybe that's what the little presents were for this morning. To ease your conscience maybe?"

 

"No!" Face argued, but then revised his answer when he thought about it. "Uh, well maybe a little. And I did plan on saying goodbye. Just not in person. I left a letter in my desk. I knew you'd find it when you didn't find me here tomorrow morning. It explains everything. Let me go get it. It'll just be a lot easier than trying to say it." He went to his room and got the letter, bringing it back to Hannibal to read. Hannibal would have preferred watching Face squirm while trying to explain, but decided the man felt bad enough. Face didn't want to watch them reading it, so he went back to his room and closed the door. He sat on his bed and thought about how bad this day had gone. He had messed up big time and knew it. He had hurt his friends. He only hoped that after they read the letter they'd understand better.

 

A knock sounded at his door. "Face?" Murdock's muffled voice asked. "Can you come back out now?"

 

'Well,' Face thought, 'here goes nothing.' He got up and opened the door. Murdock put his arm around his shoulders and led him back out to the living room. He looked at the faces of his friends. They now carried somewhat of a sad look. Hannibal looked at him and said, "Face, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gotten so angry. It's just that a team sticks together. You should have told us what was bothering you, we might have worked it out together. I had no idea you felt like an outsider. I guess we just sort of take you for granted sometimes. After so many years, we probably all take each other for granted. But it's not just your scamming skills that we need. You're smart and you know what you're doing. We put alot of trust in you. You keep us from making stupid mistakes. You have an uncanny ability to point out everything that could go wrong with one of my insane plans. You always seem to know exactly what we need to get the job done. Even if, recently, you have to go through that asshole Stockwell to get it." He grinned and put his cigar back in his mouth.

 

It was BA's turn. "Faceman, it was always you that used to remind me to write my mama. You saved my life more times than I can count. You also keep me from killing that crazy fool there." He put his big hand on Face's shoulder. "We really do need you, lil' brother."

 

Murdock turned Face towards him. "Facey, you help keep my head together when it needs to be, but also let me be a complete ding-a-ling when I wanna be. If it hadn't been for your patience with me the past umpteen years, I'd still be at the VA hiding under the bed. You're very special to all of us, Face. We all love you. Please don't ever think anything different."

 

Face looked around at his friends at a loss for words. He wasn't used to having his team express their emotions to him like this. He was also not used to real, heartfelt praises. It made his chest feel tight.

 

"Face," Hannibal started. "Not many people have the kind of freedom you want. Usually everybody has to answer to somebody. Whether it's student to teacher, employee to boss, corporal to colonel. Whatever. You have to realize that if you had gone, Stockwell or the army would never stop hunting you down till they found you. What the hell kind of freedom is that? I know you don't like the mess we're in here. Shit! None of us like it, but we have no choice. We gave our word to Stockwell that we would stick out a number of missions. You may think that number is never going to come up, but we can only hope and have faith in each other." He looked Face in the eyes when he said, "I'm glad you think of me the way you do, because I've always thought of you the same way. I think of each of you as my sons. And if I were to lose one of you a part of me would die, too. Were you serious when you told Stockwell that if you still wanted to leave badly enough you would find a way? Do you still feel that way?" Hannibal asked.

 

Face's eyes threatened tears after hearing the colonel out. He had to think hard for a moment to answer him truthfully. He had to admit to himself that he did still yearn to be on his own. "I-I guess I do, Hannibal. I'm sorry. I still feel like there's something I'm missing out on. I know you don't want to hear this, but it's the way I feel." He saw the dejected look of his friends and a real pain went through his heart. "But for the time being, it doesn't look like I'm not going anywhere. After all, the good general grounded me! I haven't been grounded since I was a kid. How humiliating!" He was trying to lighten the mood. "So I guess you guys are stuck with me for a while longer. Any objections?"

 

Murdock gave him a big hug. "No objections here, muchacho!"

 

Even BA had to hug him. "I'm glad you're stayin', Faceman. I wouldn'ta been able to stand Murdock's constant crazy talk if you weren't here to help keep him quiet," he said with a wink.

 

Hannibal put his arm around his shoulder. "Face, the next time you get the urge to up and leave, would you please come to me first? You're still not too old that I can't kick your ass one more time." He said it with a twinkle in his eye.

 

Face practically beamed at him. "Yes, Colonel." He was feeling a lot better now. He still wanted his freedom, but at least he had his team to give him hope that there was a future.

 

 

Part 4

 

After a couple of days Face was getting pretty tired of that house. The other guys tried to help keep him occupied, but he was starting to go stir crazy. He had no idea how long Stockwell had planned on keeping him from leaving the grounds. He hadn't come back again. Face finally asked an abel if he could at least go outside for a walk. The guard consented, but followed him. Face noticed the extra goons outside. He felt bad because the rest of the team also were being watched more, but at least they could go out if they wanted. He decided to play with the abels a little bit. He asked the one following him, "Gee, you don't mind if I jog around the yard, do you? I could use a little exercise." The guard wasn't too sure he liked the idea because that would mean he'd have to run too. Face didn't wait for an answer, though. He started running, slowly at first, then faster. The abel was getting pretty winded after only a moment and finally gave up, gasping for breath against the house. 'Out of shape, isn't he?' Face thought, amused. He ran around to the back of the house, and almost ran over the abel standing there. The man didn't know Face was just jogging, but thought it was an escape attempt. He drew his gun and fired into the air. "Stop! Or you're dead!" he shouted.

 

Face stopped quickly and held up his hands. "Whoa! Calm down, mister. I'm just out jogging. The other guy said it was okay."

 

The first abel came running when he heard the shot. "It's okay, Bill," he gasped. "He's right."

 

The rest of the team had also come running when they heard the shot. "Face! Are you okay?" Hannibal asked.

 

"Yeah, Hannibal. I'm fine. Just decided to get some exercise. These spooks are pretty touchy, though," Face said, holding back a laugh.

 

The first abel caught on. "Okay, Lieutenant, I think you better go back in now. You can do your exercising indoors from now on."

 

Face just looked at him and said, "Party pooper," and went back inside with the others.

 

Murdock was more than a little perturbed at Face. "Why the heck did you do that? You could have been shot!"

 

Face gave an exaggerated sigh. "Oh, chill out, Murdock. I was only trying to have a little fun with those goons. I'm getting a little tired of being cooped up in here all the time."

 

BA put his two cents in, too. "You ever do that again, you'll answer to me. Got it!"

 

"They're right, Face. That was a stupid thing to do. And you can't blame anyone but yourself for being stuck here." Hannibal added.

 

Face rolled his eyes and got very dramatic. "Thank you, Mr. Conscience! Now if it's okay with all of you, I'm going to my room for some fresh air! It's getting pretty damn stuffy in here!" He stormed off to his room and slammed the door.

 

Hannibal took the cigar out of his mouth, broke it in half and threw it down. "Damn, he can act like such a little kid sometimes!"

 

"Ah, he's just blowing off steam, Colonel," Murdock said. "He's not taking to being a caged bird very well."

 

BA had walked over to the refrigerator for milk. "Sometimes he acts just as crazy as you, Fool," he said, as he took the gallon of milk from the fridge and put it to his lips.

 

Murdock yelled at him. "BA! Do you have to drink it from the container?! You know, the rest of us drink that milk, too. Only a big, ugly inconsiderate dope like you would be so rude!"

 

BA swallowed his milk and glared at Murdock. "You wanna see rude?!" He started towards Murdock threateningly until Hannibal interrupted.

 

"Okay, guys. Knock it off!" he ordered. Just then the phone rang and Hannibal went to pick it up. "Hello. (Pause) Oh, it's you. (Pause) Yes, we're all present and accounted for, as I'm sure you already know. (Pause) OK, I'll have cocktails ready when you get here. Bye." He looked over at BA and Murdock with a disgusted look. "Guess who's on his way?"

 

"Ah, man!" BA growled. "What's he want?"

 

"He didn't say. But I'm sure it won't be fun."

 

Face had heard the phone ring from his room. He guessed who it was. He was sorry he had snapped at the others. 'I'm just so tired of being stuck here!' It was like a prison. But Hannibal had been right. 'It is my own fault.' He wasn't even able to use the phone. He hadn't been able to call Father Maghill to tell him he wouldn't be coming. He hoped the priest wasn't worrying about him. He decided he'd better go out and apologize, just so he felt better about himself.

 

The others looked up at Face as he walked back into the living room. "Feel better, Lieutenant?" Hannibal asked.

 

"No, not really," he said. "Look, I'm sorry I snapped at you. I guess I'm having a bad day."

 

"Well, it's going to get worse. Stockwell's on his way over." Murdock said.

 

"Yeah, I heard the phone." Face said, sitting down to watch TV with the others till Stockwell arrived.

 

Ten minutes later Stockwell strode into the house, briefcase in hand. "Well, gentlemen, I trust we're having a peaceful week. Lieutenant, have you unpacked your bags yet?" he quipped.

 

Face just kind of glared at him. "Stockwell, don't talk to me like I'm a little kid. Okay?"

 

The general smiled conspiratorially. "Well, from what I hear, you've been acting like one."

 

"Oh, for Pete's sake!" Hannibal blurted. "Is nothing said around here sacred?" He knew Stockwell had bugs planted everywhere in the house.

 

"Just keeping track of my investments, Colonel Smith. Now onto more important things. I have a new job for you all."

 

Moans from the team. "I wouldn't expect anything else," Hannibal deadpanned.

 

Stockwell opened a map of South America. "You will be going to this small village here," he said pointing to an area about 500 miles south of Guatamala. "Mesadilla. Government rebels have overrun a scientific laboratory there, where they are holding an American professor by the name of Albert Snyder. You, gentlemen, are to rescue the professor and return him to me. Posthaste. Any questions?" he finished.

 

"Well, General," Hannibal starts. "What kind of scientific laboratory are we talking about here? What's Professor Snyder working on?"

 

Stockwell looks at the colonel, judging how much he should reveal. "Professor Snyder has been doing new weather studies. Testing new devices for predicting weather."

 

"And these rebels think he's important enough to kidnap? He sounds like a glorified weatherman. What are they asking for him?" Hannibal wanted to know.

 

"They are asking ten million dollars for the professor's life. That will finance their revolution quite nicely. But you four will have him out of there before any money can exchange hands," Stockwell said.

 

Face spoke up. "Ten million dollars for a weatherman's life? Sounds to me like there's more to this professor than you're letting on."

 

Stockwell eyes him coolly. "I have let you know everything you need to know." He takes another map from his briefcase. "This is an aerial overview of the area. This largest building is the laboratory, with offices and such. This other building is used for living space and storage. The professor is most likely being held there." He fished a file from his briefcase. "This is all the information we have on the rebel group who call themselves 'Kao's Avengers' and their current leader Raul Charro. Their former leader who called himself General Kao, though he had no military background to speak of, had formed the group 2 years ago. He was arrested by the government and was killed in prison by other inmates. His group believe he was murdered by the government, so they have been raiding villages, burning government offices...." Stockwell paused. "And sometimes taking hostages for their own personal gratification, then killing them. Any questions?"

 

Hannibal had been glancing through the file while Stockwell spoke. "This Charro sounds like a real lunatic." His face was serious as he read of what had happened to hostages. "This group sounds like a bunch of scum we'd love to take down."

 

"Is there a landing strip nearby?" Murdock piped in. "I'd hate to land a plane in the middle of a jungle. It's bad for the ecosystem."

 

"There's a small landing strip about 20 miles east of the compound. You should be able to see it from the air. How you get from the plane to the compound is up to you."

 

"Plane!" BA shouted. "You know I don't like planes!"

 

Stockwell looked at BA over the rim of his sunglasses. "Sgt. Baracus. One would think after all this time you would have gotten over this phobia of yours. It's rather juvenile, don't you think?"

 

Hannibal put his hand on BA's shoulder as the sergeant took a step towards the general. "It's okay, BA. We'll knock you out. You won't feel a thing."

 

BA looked at the colonel. "I don't like bein' knocked out, either! I always wake up with a headache."

 

Murdock looked at him and said, "It's better than you having a platonic catatonic relationship with your seat. You grab on to the seat arms so hard we need a crowbar to pry them off!"

 

"Shut up, crazyman! Or I'll have a fist-to-head relationship with you!" BA growled at him.

 

"Please, you two. You're giving me a headache," Stockwell tells them, then he turns towards Face. "Oh, and Lieutenant÷.if you even think of using this as an opportunity to run away, you will regret the day you were born. Whenever that was," he added.

 

Face's anger was starting to show. Hannibal spoke for him. "Stockwell, you really have the knack to make one want to puke. You know that? Face will stick with us. Right, Face?"

 

Face wouldn't look at Stockwell. "Yes, Colonel. I always have."

 

"Very well, then," Stockwell closed his briefcase. "The plane will be fueled and ready for departure tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM. I expect you back here within 3 days. Have a safe trip, gentlemen."

 

"Well, guys," Hannibal said. "Looks like we're going on a nice jungle vacation. BA, you get the weapons ready. Murdock, make out a flight plan. Face, you got a cigar?"

 

"Don't I always?" Face said, handing him a cigar. "Glad I could be of help." He said this rather sarcastically, and Hannibal noticed.

 

"Now, Face, don't worry," Hannibal pacified. "I'll make sure you have plenty to do. In the meantime...." he grinned and slapped Face on the back, "you can make us dinner."

 

"Great! Just great!" Face smiled sardonically. "I'm a short-order cook now." He knew there wasn't really much for him to do before they actually got to South America anyway, so he played along. "What'll it be? French or Greek?" He sighed dramatically as he turned towards the kitchen. "What the hell.... I'll just whip up an Hawaiian luau!"

 

"Sounds great, kid," Hannibal said as if Face were serious.

 

"Don't forget the poi!" Murdock yelled to the retreating figure.

 

Face turned around and gave Murdock the finger. "Poi this!"

 

***************

 

Preparations for the trip were mostly finished by the time dinner was ready. After finishing off the Stouffer's lasagna and salad, they discussed the mission.

 

"Hannibal, I get the feeling we're not getting the whole story about what's going on down there. Stockwell's keeping something from us." Face stated, knowing lack of information was normal with the sneaky general.

 

"Yeah, I get that feeling, too. I don't like walking into something blind. I'm sure we'll find out what that is when we get there. Have you studied that map to find the best way to this laboratory?"

 

"Well," Face starts, "there's really only one road going to the laboratory. It's pretty isolated. Looks like the road was put there just for the laboratory. That's really going to hamper our staying out of sight if they have guards posted on that road. I think parachuting down is out of the question. We'd be too out in the open. Plus, I don't think BA would appreciate being thrown out of a plane unconscious." BA growls at that. "So, that leaves driving part way, hiding our transport in the brush along the way, and hoofing it the rest of the way. Hopefully, there will be other transportation out of there once we free the professor."

 

"Think there'll be some transportation available at the airfield?" Hannibal asked the younger man.

 

"Somebody probably works there. Hopefully, he'll have a car he won't mind us borrowing for a while." Face smiles at the word 'borrowing'.

 

"I just hope that professor guy is physically able to get out of there with us." BA pointed out. "From the sound of those people, they may have messed him up pretty bad by now."

 

"Another bridge we'll cross when we come to it." Hannibal stated. "Now guys, I intend to get plenty of sleep tonight and I suggest you all do the same. Anything else we need to cover?"

 

The other three nod no. "Good. Wake up time is 0500."

 

Hannibal, Face and BA went to their respective rooms, while Murdock looked down at the sofa. "I got to do all the flying tomorrow, so I need a good night's sleep. How come I get stuck with you?" He plops down on the sofa and is asleep within minutes.

 

****************

 

The next morning the four men arrived at the airport and find the plane waiting for them. Before BA even had a chance to complain about flying, Face injected him with the knockout drug. "Nighty night," he cooed as BA's head falls against the steering wheel. "Hey, whadda you know, he missed the horn this time!"

 

"Nice job, Face. Now let's get the plane loaded and get on our way." Hannibal said. It took all three of them to get BA onto the plane. Hannibal and Face loaded the guns while Murdock warmed up the plane.

 

After about an hour in the air, a bored Face yells up to the pilot. "Hey, Murdock. Take a right towards Rio and drop me off. Okay?"

 

Murdock looks back at him and shakes his head. "You want out, you jump out!" he yells back.

Hannibal looked over to Face. "Not funny, Lieutenant. I suggest you keep your mind on the job at hand. Stockwell told me to keep an eye on you, you know. I got enough on my mind right now without having to be your babysitter, too."

 

"I was kidding!" Face said back to him, rolling his eyes. Hannibal let it drop. His mind was busy coming up with the perfect plan. Face looked out the window of the plane and watched the land below them go by. From up there he could see how land was divided into parcels. He figured they were over Texas by now. He could see where one ranch ended and another began. He wondered what it was like to have so much land to roam on. 'Boy, it must be nice to be able to say "I think I'll go for a ride today" and get on a horse and ride for hours without even seeing a car or another person.' It made him think of a trip he had taken with some other children from the orphanage when he was about 10. The sisters had taken them to a ranch in the hills outside Los Angeles. He had been amazed at the size of the place. They were shown the barn and the horses. The owner then led them on a horseback ride around the ranch. He fell in love with it all. He had never seen so much beauty and openness in one place. He almost cried when it was time to go back. The rancher had taken a picture of each child on their horse, and Templeton hung his picture on the wall behind his small bed. It was one of the few totally happy days he'd had in his life and never wanted to forget it.

 

His heart was beginning to ache again. 'I got to stop thinking like this. What I want is something I can never have.' He was getting depressed and figured he'd go up with Murdock to take his mind off his troubles. Sitting down in the co-pilot's seat he asked offhandedly, "Did you leave enough food and water for Billy?"

 

Murdock looked over and grinned maliciously. "Yeah, and I put his bowls in BA's room along with some newspapers on the floor. Just hope the big guy looks down before walking across the floor."

 

Face had to laugh at the vision of BA stepping in doggy doo and his ensuing rampage while hopping back out on one foot. "You better not be anywhere around when that happens, HM."

 

Murdock was quiet for a moment, wondering if he should ask what was on his mind. "Hey, Facey. I saw you back there looking out the window and thinking. You still ain't wishing you were elsewhere, are you?"

 

Face couldn't tell him the truth that yes, he was wishing he was somewhere else. Someplace where there wasn't any Stockwell, military police, dangerous missions or Hannibal's insane plans. Someplace peaceful and safe. "I was just thinking of another time and place. That's all." The pilot looked over at him hoping he'd elaborate, but was to be disappointed. "I'm going back to take a nap. Talk to you later." Face told him and went back and sat beside BA. 'At least BA won't ask any questions,' he thought. He closed his eyes and eventually dozed. He hadn't noticed Hannibal's concerned eyes following him.

 

 

TBC

 


Need for Freedom 1-4 by SherryGabs
Need for Freedom 5-7 by SherryGabs

 

 


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