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This page last viewed: 2017-08-15 and has been viewed 2069 times
By Terri Spencer
Warnings: This story takes place following the attacks of September 11, 2001. It's very emotional. So if you feel that you shouldn't read this story, if it will bring back memories of that horrible day, please don't read it.
Disclaimer: The A-Team and it's characters are the property of Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo. The song "God Bless the USA", which appears at the end of the story, belongs to Lee Greenwood. No money was raised by writing this story. All original characters are mine.
Copyright: September 11, 2001-September 11, 2002 by Teresa A. Spencer
September 10, 2001
The ringing of the phone woke John "Hannibal" Smith up from a heavy slumber. He seemed to do a lot of that lately, and sometimes it worried him. His wife, Maggie, who was a doctor, assured him that it was nothing to worry about, and that his health was fine. And even though Hannibal had suffered a heart attack quite a few years before, he was in better shape now then he was ten years ago.
No, sometimes he slept because he got bored. Now that the A-Team was no more, and his boys all over the country it seemed, Hannibal had a hard time keeping the adrenaline going. So at times like these, he would visit Murdock and Kelly, and see if Murdock needed him with his flight rescue business. "Hannibal, it's for you!" Maggie's voice said next to his ear. "It's Face."
Hannibal smiled. He hadn't heard from Face in a week. Face lived back east, with his wife and two children. Out of all Hannibal's boys, whom he thought of as his children, Face had always been the closest. Even though he loved Murdock and BA, Face had a special place in Hannibal's heart because he was barely more then a child when he had come to Vietnam. And Hannibal had spent the next 18 years raising him.
"I hope that it's not about the trip out here." Hannibal said. Face and his family were going to start driving out to California tomorrow and take a much needed vacation. There had been problems with the real estate company that Face worked for during the summer, and Face had been unable to get away from the office. So Face and his wife Rachel had decided to take their "summer" vacation around the second week of December.
Hannibal couldn't help but worry about Face.
He had a bad heart because of being buried alive more then ten years before.
And since he was the farthest away from Hannibal and his protection, Hannibal
worried about him even more.
"Hi kid. Is everything OK?" Hannibal asked when he picked up the phone. He heard a soft chuckle from the other end.
"Yes, DAD, everything is fine," Face said slightly sarcastically. He sometimes called Hannibal DAD when he felt that Hannibal was being too overprotective. But underneath, he felt a warm glow that someone would care enough to be overprotective in the first place. "I just wanted to let you know that there has been a slight change of plans."
"Well, my firm has asked me to go the World Trade Center in New York City tomorrow for a meeting. I don't know how long I'll be there. I already told Rachel that we'll start driving Wednesday, no matter what the suits say. So I wanted to let you know so that you won't kill the fatted calf yet."
"Are you going to get a hotel in New York City?"
"No, I don't think so. I figure that I'll catch the last plane out of LaGuardia Airport, then get a taxi home. That way, we can start driving early on Wednesday, and Rachel can drive first while I sleep. Between the two of us, and considering stops we have to make, we should be driving up to the ranch around the Saturday or Sunday."
"I wish you would fly out here..."
Face sighed. They had had this conversation before. "Hannibal, it's a lot of money to fly two adults and two children clear across the country. And Rachel can't fly right now. It upsets her stomach."
"Upsets her stomach? The last time flying did that to her she was pregnant with Johnny." There was complete silence from the other end. Hannibal grinned widely. "Is there something that you're not telling me, Kid?"
There was a soft laugh. "Well, yes. You probably guessed it already. You're going to be a grandfather again, Hannibal."
"That's TERRIFIC, Kid!" Hannibal said happily.
"I think so too." Face said happily. Since Face had been an orphan, he didn't have any brothers or sisters and had always wanted a big family. He hadn't found out that he had a younger half sister until he was in his late thirties. "Look Hannibal, I have to get going. I just wanted to let you know about tomorrow. I still have to pack for the meeting."
"OK, Kid. See you at the end of the week."
Another soft chuckle sounded in Hannibal's ear. "I will, Hannibal," the voice said affectionately. "I'll be in New York City. Besides the taxi's, what could possibly go wrong?"
September 11, 2001
World Trade Center, New York City
Face whistled happily as he walked towards the World Trade Center in New York City. He had always wanted to work here, ever since 1970 when it was completed. Back in Vietnam, he had often dreamed of getting a job here as soon as his tour of duty was over. However, he had decided to stay with the only "family" he had ever had, the A-Team, and re-upped for a second tour of duty. And even though his world was turned upside down in 1972 after the Team were ordered to rob the Bank of Hanoi, and they had spent the next 15 years on the run as fugitives, Face wouldn't have traded his time with the A-Team for anything.
Face also couldn't help but think of his biological father, AJ Bancroft, and his legacy here in New York City. All Face knew of AJ Bancroft was what Hunt Stockwell, and later his sister Ellen Bancroft had told him. And since Ellen's main memory of AJ was his crimes and the desertion of his second family, Face had stopped asking. "Besides," he muttered to himself as he went into the elevator and pushed the button for the 45th floor, thankful that he was alone in the car. "We all choose our mentors, and mine are Hannibal, BA, and Murdock."
The elevator stopped at the fifth floor, then the 16th. Trying not to be impatient, and cursing himself for possibly being late, Face looked at his watch. It was 0844 hours, so he still had a little time before the meeting started at 0900. That was good, because Face was going to give a presentation worth remembering.
Suddenly, it felt like an earthquake hit the building. At the 25th floor, the elevator swayed and the lights went out. Face had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach that something had happened. Something very bad.
Bad Rock, California
Dr. Maggie Sullivan-Smith sighed as she quietly walked into her house and put her keys in the key bowl nearby. Yawning, she looked at the clock on the wall. It was almost a quarter until six, California time. She had been called away from her bed at three in the morning to deliver a baby. The baby was due in two weeks, but had insisted on making an early arrival. Luckily, the premature baby seemed to have a good set of lungs. So Maggie put the baby on a heart monitor, left a prescription for some medication along with instructions and orders to call her immediately if there were problems, and left the new parents to bond with their first born child.
She saw Hannibal sitting in his brown recliner chair, fast asleep. Smiling gently, she went and stood in front of him. He must have had a bad dream after she left, and couldn't stand to be alone in bed. He always did have trouble sleeping if she wasn't there next to him. "Hannibal," she said, resisting the urge to put her arms around his neck. She knew better then to do that, however. It was never a good idea to sneak up a former soldier that way. Especially a soldier who had lived through two wars, and who's first instinct was to kill. "Hannibal, time to wake up."
Hannibal opened his eyes, and saw his wife standing in the light. She looked like an angel with that light behind her. "Maggie. When did you get home?"
"Just now. How long have you been out here in the living room?"
"Since just after you left. I dreamed about Face, that he was calling to me to help him. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I came out her to read. Guess I fell asleep out here instead."
Maggie grinned, and sat down on his lap. Hannibal had always been protective of his men. He was especially protective of Face, who had a habit of getting into trouble when it was least expected. "Face is fine, Hannibal. He's safe and sound back east. So, do you want read, watch TV, or fool around in the closet?" She asked, waggling her eyebrows. Shortly after meeting him, Hannibal had locked her in a closet while he escaped from her office, and took an injured BA with him. He had been a fugitive then. But now, since the teams pardon and their marriage, the closet was one of Maggie's and Hannibal's favorite place for fooling around besides the bedroom.
Hannibal grinned back, touching her hair with his fingertips. "As appealing as visiting the closet sounds, I think I want to watch the news and catch up on the days events."
Maggie kissed him and grabbed the remote control. They both enjoyed their "quiet time" together, first thing in the morning. After the news, they would eat breakfast, clean up the kitchen, then go about their business. They turned on the TV, and gasped in horror. The newsman announced that an airplane had flown into the North tower of the World Trade Center!
"Dear God," Hannibal gasped. "Face!"
"Face? What about Face?" Maggie asked her husband. She couldn't keep the fear out of her voice. After all, she loved Face too. Even though she wasn't much older then he was, she felt maternal to the younger man. She was thrilled when Face asked her if his children could call Maggie "Grandma."
"He had a meeting at the World Trade Center this morning," Hannibal answered.
The couple watched, horrified, as another plane flew directly into the South Tower of the Trade Center. "Dear God! Those poor people!" Maggie said, not wanting to look at the TV, yet unable to tear herself away. "They never had a chance! Who would do this?"
Hannibal shook his head. He had seen many evil things happen in his life. He was still a young boy when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He had read about the liberation of the Death Camps in Europe in 1945, and had seen many atrocities in both the Korean and the Vietnam Wars. And the sad fact of war was that sometimes innocent people died.
But this was a deliberate attack against innocent civilians. Whoever was carrying out these heinous acts of cowardice had no regard for themselves or the people that they were murdering. They had been people who had maybe taking a pleasure trip, or had gone to their office for work like they did every day. Now there was no telling how many people had been killed.
News reports also
started coming in about a plane flying into the Pentagon, and a plane going
down in a Pennsylvania field. Hannibal and Maggie held each other as they
watched everything unfold before their eyes.
They watched in stunned silence as first the South tower, and then the North Tower of the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground.
Like millions of people throughout the US, they had been witnesses to mass murder.
The phone's ringing brought Hannibal out of his horrified stare at the television set. 'I have to get there!' he thought. 'I have to get there to see if he's all right.' He answered the phone on it's third ring.
"Hannibal, have you heard from Face?" Murdock's voice sounded in his ear. "I just got off the phone with Rachel, and she told me that Face was at the Trade Center."
"No, I haven't. Have you tried calling him on his cell phone?"
"Yes, but there's no answer. Do you think that...?" Murdock couldn't finish the sentence. It was too horrible to think that Face, who had survived Vietnam and being buried alive, was now crushed under millions of tons of debris.
"We can't think that way, Murdock!" Hannibal snapped. "I refuse to think that Face is dead! And until we find proof, you are to think of him as alive. Understand?"
Murdock nodded, numbly. He knew that Hannibal didn't mean to snap at him. He was just worried about Face, just as Murdock was. "I understand, Hannibal," he said.
Hannibal sighed. He had no reason to take it out on Murdock. After all, it wasn't Murdock's fault that somehow, Face wound up in trouble again. And Murdock was Face's best friend, so he was just as worried about Hannibal's prodigal son as Hannibal was. "I'm sorry, Murdock," he said. "It's just that...," Hannibal shrugged. He couldn't find the words for the way that he felt.
"I understand, Hannibal," Murdock replied softly. "It's like when he got kidnapped by Kyle that last time, and we didn't know where he was for all that time."
The phone beeped into Hannibal's ear, signaling another call coming in. "Hold on, Murdock. I have another call." And not waiting for Murdock to answer, Hannibal pushed the button that allowed the other call to come through. "Face?" he asked anxiously, praying that it was his wayward lieutenant. "Is that you?"
"Na, it's me, BA." the other person answered gruffly. "I was just calling to see when ya was expecting Face."
Hannibal almost groaned. If it wasn't for Maggie standing in back of him, steadying him, Hannibal was unsure what he would have done. It was obvious that BA had no idea that Face was missing. Now Hannibal was going to have to tell him. But he wanted Murdock in on the conversation as well. "BA, I'm going to put you on three way calling. Murdock's on the other line." And pushing another button, Hannibal was able to talk to both of his team members.
"BA, do you know what has happened?" Hannibal asked.
"No, haven't turned on the tv yet. Why?"
"BA, terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon this morning. Both towers have collapsed, and a section of wall at the Pentagon has been destroyed."
In his apartment in downtown LA, BA sat down heavily. He grabbed the remote control for the tv and turned on CNN. He watched in stunned silence as they replayed the plane flying into the tower, and replays of people running for their lives as the towers collapsed.
"Oh, dear God," BA said in a stunned whisper. He didn't know what else to say. For a moment, he forgot about the arrival of Face and his family. He was focused on the horrors that were going on in New York City, Washington DC, and in Pennsylvania.
"It gets worse, BA," Hannibal's voice said into his ear. "Face was at the Trade Center this morning on business. Rachel hasn't heard from him."
BA watched the TV, numb. The thought that his "little brother" was possibly buried alive again was almost more then BA could stand. If Face was trapped underneath all that rubble, he would be absolutely terrified. Face had never liked being closed in, having suffered mild claustrophobia since BA had known him. But after being buried alive, Face 's fear of going into enclosed spaces had intensified. He wouldn't even take an elevator if he had a choice.
"I'm going out there," Hannibal said. He wanted to be near Face, if he could. He also wanted to be near Rachel and the children, if they needed him. "Think you can get a plane, Murdock?"
"No, I can't. Colonel. President Bush has grounded all air travel for the time being, commercial and private. Anyone flying without valid reason will be shot down." Murdock replied.
"Why wouldn't I realize that?" Hannibal grumbled.
"You are worried about Face, Hannibal," Murdock said. "And besides, I'm a pilot who is listening to the news as we speak. But I can't hear the news from your end. You must have the TV on mute."
Hannibal turned, and realized that Murdock was right. Maggie had turned the TV on mute, and was now standing behind her husband, giving support. Hannibal realized that CNN was running the names and ages of the plane victims at the bottom of the screen. Turning away for the time being, he started working on planning a trip across the USA.
"OK, men, here's the plan. Murdock, meet me over in Bad Rock as soon as you can. BA, you drive up here. We're going to New York City, and see if we can arrange it, we'll help with the search and rescue. Maggie, Kelly, and Mrs. Baracus will stay here in L.A. in case Face calls. OK?"
"I'll be there soon, Hannibal," Murdock said. He was just about to say something to BA, when there was a loud, anguished cry from his friend. When he recovered his hearing, he asked anxiously if BA was OK. Instead of hearing the reassuring "Yeah, Ahm fine ya fool!" he heard loud sobs of pain. He also heard Hannibal anxiously asking BA what was wrong. BA hardly ever cried, at least not within the teams sight or hearing. So something was definitely wrong with the large man.
"BA, what is it?" Murdock heard Hannibal ask again anxiously.
In his apartment in LA, BA Baracus tried to pull himself together. His cry had woken up his mama, who ran into the room to see what was wrong with her son. With his mama's strong arms around him, he finally told his two friends what was wrong. "I recognized a name at the bottom of the screen," he wept. "One of the kids that look after was visiting a relative in Boston, and was on Flight 175, coming home." Overcome with the emotions of loss for a child that he knew, and worry for a missing friend, BA Baracus turned his face into his mother's dressing gown, and cried.
Four hours later, the three members of the
A-team, accompanied by Maggie, were on their way to the east coast. Once
BA and his mother arrived in Bad Rock, it was quickly decided that the team and
Maggie would drive in the van, and that Kelly and Mrs. Baracus would stay behind
in case Face called.
At first, Hannibal had been reluctant about having Maggie go with the team. After all, they weren't going to stop if they didn't have to. Maggie however, put her foot down. She was a doctor, and she wanted to keep an eye on her husband. She was afraid that the stress he was under would cause another heart attack, and she wanted to monitor him. She was also "grandma" to Face's children, not to mention "mother in law" to Rachel. So she was going to be with her daughter in law and grandchildren as soon as she could. Mama Baracus backed Maggie, saying that Hannibal would be of no use to either Face or Rachel if he collapsed due to exhaustion Knowing that he had lost that battle before it even began, Hannibal agreed.
It was quickly decided that to save time, they would drive in shifts of 6 hours, and then the next driver would take over. The next driver was always in the front passenger seat, ready to take over the driving duties if the driver said that they were tired. They only stopped for gas, food, or to use the bathroom. Because of the way that BA had lovingly maintained the engine on the van, (and not having to make car jumps and drive at high speeds,) the nearly 20 year old van made good miles with gasoline.
Altogether, it was a relatively quiet ride. The only sound was from a TV set that was attached to a small satellite dish hooked up to the top of the van. That way, the team was able to keep up to date on what was going on back east It was also ironic that it was Face who had given BA the dish last Christmas, an irony that didn't escape his teammates. The team also tried calling Face's cell phone, hoping that he would answer. This came after somebody was rescued because he used his cell phone to call for help. But Face didn't answer, and the team felt a little more hope die.
Hannibal dialed Face's home phone number. He wanted to talk to Rachel to let her know that they were going to New York City to help in the search for Face. It only rang twice before it was picked up. "Hello? Daddy? Is that you?" a little voice said. Hannibal felt his heart break. It was his six year old grandson, Johnny. He decided to be put on a front for the boy. No doubt that the child knew a little of what was going on, since his Daddy hadn't come home yet. There was no reason to scare the poor child any more then he already was. "Hello, Johnny, it's Grandpa Hannibal. How are you?"
"I want my Daddy," the child said, and started to cry. "He hasn't come home yet. Mommy is lying on the couch crying, because she can't reach him. Sam and me can't watch TV, because it makes Mommy cry harder." The child sobbed into Hannibal's ear, and it tore at Hannibal's heart. If he could have, he would climb through the phone lines just so he could be by his small grandson and hug him. "I don't want my Daddy to die, Grandpa."
"I know you don't, Johnny. I know," Hannibal tried to soothe him. It was obvious that the boy knew what was going on, or at least knew something was. At this point, Hannibal was willing to say ANYTHING to stop his beloved grandson's tears. "Everything is going to be OK, Johnny, I promise. Your uncles, your Grandma Maggie, and I are on our way, and we're going to help find your daddy." The look that BA shot him from the drivers seat, and the gasps that he heard from the back seat, told him that he had said something wrong, but Hannibal ignored them. They weren't on the phone with a little boy who had no idea why his daddy hadn't come home yet.
The words worked their magic on the boy, however. "You promise, Grandpa? You promise that you're going to find my daddy and bring him home so that Mommy won't cry anymore?"
"Yes Johnny, I promise," Hannibal smiled. Mission accomplished! The tears had apparently stopped with just a few words from Ol' Grandpa. "Johnny, I need to talk to your Mommy. Can you get her for me?"
"You bet! Be right back!" the little boy said happily into Hannibal's ear, nearly deafening him. But it was music to Hannibal's ears.
"Are you NUTS, Hannibal?" BA asked. "You just promised a little boy that you would find his father!"
"And what's wrong with that, BA? The boy was crying, and I stopped it."
"Hannibal, that's not the point. What if you can't keep that promise?" Murdock asked. "What if Face is dead? Or you CAN'T bring him home? Children take promises from adults very seriously, especially those they trust. And if Face is dead, Johnny will think that you have betrayed your promise."
"Johnny's a smart kid. He'll understand."
"No, he won't. He's a child who's father is missing. And children never forget betrayals and broken promises. Face never did." Murdock said. He sighed. It wasn't really Hannibal's fault. He had never had children, or been around them too much. He didn't know that children remembered broken promises and saw them as betrayals. Face was a walking embodiment of that, only though when Hannibal met him he was nearly an adult. But Face remembered every broken promise, every betrayal, and every rejection that he ever suffered through, and still bore the scars from it. Back in Vietnam, it had taken the team a long time before they could convince Face to trust them.
"Hello? Hannibal?" Another voice said into Hannibal's ear.
"Hello Rachel. We're on our way." Hannibal responded, turning his attention back to the telephone that he had in his hand.
"That's good, Hannibal. Johnny told Sama and I what you said," Rachel said. "I hope that you can deliver." She added, a slight reproof in her voice.
"I realize it now, Rachel. But it's a promise that I intend to keep." Hannibal said in a firm tone. He wasn't accustomed to having his word questioned, by the team or anybody else. To Hannibal, when he gave his word he meant it. His voice softened. "I made a promise to a little boy, Rachel. It may not have been the best thing to do, but I would have bargained with the Devil himself to stop Johnny's tears. I never broke a promise to Face, and I won't break my word to his son. I'll bring Face home, if it's the last thing that I ever do."
It was quiet for a long time after Hannibal got off the phone with Rachel. They were all listening to the news, hoping to hear that more people had been rescued. But they knew as the hours went by that those who had lived through the collapse would be dead unless they were rescued in the next few days.
The news tore at Hannibal's heart. On CNN there was footage of families and friends who had missing loved ones, holding up pictures and pleading for news. Hannibal was further distressed to see Murdock start to rock himself, petting an imagery animal. Without being told, Hannibal knew that Billy had made an appearance again in Murdock's mind. Even though Murdock had been declared sane many years before, he fell back on old habits in time of severe stress. And without the "comfort zone" of his wife and children, being away from familiar surroundings, and having his best friend missing and possibly dead, the stress was just a little much for the sensitive pilot.
"Turn it off, BA," he ordered.
"Turn off the news. I don't want to listen to anymore right now."
Knowing that it was not a good idea to argue with Hannibal, and seeing Murdock in the rear view mirror, BA turned off the news.
Hannibal contemplated his cigar, staring at the tip. They were making good time, even though they were stopped at roadblocks as they entered every state. Hannibal had not seen security like this in America since the second World War. Only then, they knew who the enemies were, and how to fight them.
The A-Team finally made it to New York City on
September 14th, three days after the attacks. Before they had arrived,
they had called a 1-800 number that was set up for volunteers, and offered
their help. Since the A-Team had been on search and recovery missions in
Vietnam, they were given the job of helping out the fire and police who were
searching the ruins looking for their lost comrades. They were also to
help in the food and water lines that were set up.
Maggie was working at one of the hospitals, helping to treat the patients at a suddenly understaffed metropolitan hospital. She also leant an ear or a sympathetic shoulder for those who needed to talk with somebody. That included some of the grief counselors, who also were seeing family members, friends, and coworkers of the estimated 5000 people who were unaccounted for.
It was at ground zero that the A-Team met their former nemesis, Colonel Roderick Decker. Decker had been in Washington DC on September 11, and was supposed to be at the Pentagon that morning as a civilian consultant. He had been walking towards the Pentagon when he had witnessed the plane slam into it. He had immediately started trying to rescue as many people as he could. "I lost a lot of friends there," Decker sadly told Hannibal as he picked through the rubble.
Hannibal looked at Decker, and nodded sadly. He had known Decker for almost 40 years. And though the two men had never been close, they respected each other. "Rod, why aren't you there?"
Decker sighed heavily, and gazed at Hannibal. Hannibal could see a mixture of sadness, pain, and even a little jealousy in Decker's blue eyes. "I'm here because Rachel called me and told me that Face was missing. Before I could get off the phone, Johnny got on and asked me if I was going to help his Grandpa Hannibal bring his Daddy home." He said with more then a little bitterness in his voice.
Hannibal didn't know what to say. He knew that it rankled Decker that Face's children called him "Grandpa", while they called Decker "Uncle Rod." The reason was that Face didn't know what else to call Decker, so he fell back on the name that he had used as a child. But Decker still remembered a little boy who had called him "Daddy" for a few months before he disappeared from his life.
But Hannibal had been the one to raise Face from the age of 19. And Face had looked on his commander as the father figure that he had so wanted all his life. So Hannibal was "Grandpa", and Decker was the older visiting uncle whenever he visited his former stepson.
But knowing the reasons didn't make it easier for Decker.
"Really, Smith," Decker's deep gravally voice broke into Hannibal's thoughts. "You shouldn't have promised Johnny that. What if Face is dead? What if he's suffocating underneath all this rock and steel?"
"Even if he is, I still fully intend to find his body and bring it home for burial. I found him after Kyle kidnapped him and buried him alive."
"You didn't find him, Smith. Sheriff Naughton called ME and told ME where Peck was!" The two men glared at each other, trying to stare the other down. They were so caught up in their anger at the situation, and grief for the man that they both thought of as a son, that neither man realized that the others on the search and rescue team were staring at them.
"This ain't helping, Hannibal," a gruff voice said. "It's not helping us find Face or anybody who can still be alive."
Hannibal broke eye contact with Decker, and nodded his head once at his sergeant. 'Good old' BA,' Hannibal thought. 'Able to cut to cut right through the bullshit and posturing to get to the truth.' It was something that Hannibal had always appreciated about the massive sergeant, even at the times when he didn't want to hear the truth.
Looking back at Decker, he spoke a little quieter. "Let's get back to work, Rod." Decker nodded, trying to get his emotions under control. Turning back to his task, Decker started to dig, trying to convince himself that his eyes watered because of the dust that was getting into them.
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