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This page last viewed: 2017-12-01 and has been viewed 1969 times
Warnings: angst and reference to killing. This is not a happy story
Summary: Amy has to deal with something she has done and how it might affect her relationship with the Team.
Disclaimer: I don't own the A-Team and make no money off of them.
The room was dark and still. Occasionally a cool breeze blew in the open window, rifling the white curtains. The whisper of the cloth was the only sound in the room apart from the slight tinkling of ice hitting the side of a glass. Even the occasional sound of traffic passing on the street beneath the apartment building seemed to emphasize the silence, not intrude upon it.
Amy sat curled up in the corner of the large beige sofa that dominated the living room of her small apartment, her bare feet tucked tightly beneath the hem of her white terrycloth bathrobe. She gazed unseeingly into the liquid in her cup as she slowly swirled the ice around. Usually she didn't drink anything much stronger than ginger ale. But tonight was different. Tonight she needed something stronger.
She jumped as the telephone rang, breaking her out of her stupor. She uncurled her legs and sat rigidly, staring at the phone, but she made no move to answer it. Finally, after seven rings, she heard her answering machine click on.
"Hello. You've reached the residence of Amy Allen. I'm not available right now, but if you leave a message, I'll get back to you as soon as possible."
A nice normal recording. Normal, like her. She remembered the time Murdock had offered to help her make a more original one, but she had laughingly refused. Normal was just her.
The tone sounded and after a short pause, Face's voice rang out in the still apartment.
"Amy? Amy, if you're there, pick up."
Face, Amy thought dully as she resumed swirling the ice in her cup, making no move to answer the phone. He was the last person she needed to talk to right now.
"Amy, we're worried about you. You were really quiet at the hospital and then you just disappeared." Another pause. "I know you're upset about what happened today, but Murdock is going to be fine. We got the kid out safely. Everything turned out okay."
'Not everything,' she thought sadly.
"Well, if you need to talk to someone, you know where you can reach us." There was a click as the conman hung up.
Amy sat quietly for a few minutes before slowly getting up and moving to the phone. Her hand hovered over the receiver for a moment before she shook her head. She rewound the tape in the answering machine and deleted the message. From the first day she had begun working with the Team, Hannibal had drilled it into her head to erase all messages from the Team as soon as she got them. She did not need the problems that would arise if a recording of a Team member calling her was found in her apartment.
'Nothing the military could do to me would be worse than what happened today,' she thought sadly, swallowing hard as she sank back down onto the sofa and into her thoughts...
She had thought she had what it took to be a member of the A-Team. Sure she was young, inexperienced, and female, but she was certain she could match any of the men in anything and even better them in some areas. She knew how to handle herself. She was in great physical shape. She was willing to take risks. Most of all, she had loved the excitement, the jazz.
Well, today the excitement had turned into a nightmare. She closed her eyes as her thoughts drifted back to the moment everything had gone wrong. She flinched as she heard Murdock cry out in surprise and alarm. She remembered the feel of the gun in her hand once more and felt the certainty of what she must do. But most of all, she remembered her hesitation, the jerk of the gun as it fired, and the cry of another that echoed over everything else. A tear trickled down her cheek as she remembered. What had she done?
She had never understood why the guys were so reluctant to have her handle weapons or be in the thick of things when the fighting began. She was always on the sidelines. If possible, Hannibal's plans never placed her in a situation where she might get hurt. Sure she took some risks, but it was never proportional to the risks taken by the rest of the Team, even Murdock, and he was supposed to be insane! She had begun to resent what she saw as blatant chauvinism on the part of the guys. Until today.
Today Hannibal had finally entrusted her with an important part of the mission. She was to guard their rear, and help them when they finally emerged from the warehouse with their client's daughter. Then, like so many of Hannibal's plans, everything had turned sour.
She knew that she wanted their respect more than anything else in the world. She had thought she could gain it by proving that she could handle herself. She had seen the perfect chance today when the guys had raced out of the warehouse, pursued by goons that outnumbered them two to one. She had finally had the opportunity to make a difference, perhaps even save the day.
Closing her eyes in pain, Amy rose slowly and moved into the kitchen where she dumped what was left of her drink down the sink. Why, oh why had she hesitated? Rinsing out the glass, she replaced it in the cabinet before wandering back into the living room and over to the window. Pushing back the curtains, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the rare breeze that cooled her face and eased her trembling.
She had seen the man coming up behind Murdock during the fighting. The pilot had been too busy controlling the hysterical child in his arms to realize the danger he was in. She had seen the gun that threatened the life of her friend, and she had known immediately what she needed to do. She bowed her head at the waves of pain that assaulted her mind. Even now, after everything was over, she didn't know what she hated more...the fact that she had hesitated and almost gotten the pilot killed...or that she had fired.
With one last jerk and a twist, the locking mechanism inside the door turned and Hannibal withdrew the long slender lockpick he had borrowed from Face. Although the conman usually handled the breaking and entering that came with the job, he had not wanted to leave the clinic where Murdock was being treated. Hannibal had not wanted to leave either, but now that he knew the pilot would be fine, he had another Team member to deal with.
Opening the door quietly, he entered the dark apartment and stood there for a moment, his eyes and senses adjusting to the lack of light. He had known that Amy was upset when they were racing to reach a small clinic in LA where Murdock could be treated with relative anonymity. However, he had been too distracted with the pilot's injuries to deal with the reporter immediately. He regretted that now. He thought he knew what was wrong, and he briefly wondered how he was going to deal with this.
As his eyes adjusted, he moved from the entryway into the small living room. He hoped that she had returned home and was just ignoring their calls rather than driving somewhere else and perhaps doing something stupid to calm the inner fires he knew to be burning inside her. After a moment, he breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the still form huddled in a corner of the couch, her eyes staring blankly off into space.
Sitting down beside her, he again wondered how he was going to heal this mess that had started less than 12 hours ago. She was not a soldier that he could send through an obstacle course, hand a rifle to, and order to go out and do it again. No one should have to go through what she was going through. He closed his eyes and wondered if he had done the right thing letting the inexperienced young woman onto his team when he had known that something like this could happen someday.
"Amy," he questioned softly, touching her shoulder. She turned slowly and blinked as if coming out of a dream. He nearly winced at the raw pain in her eyes. Those eyes threw him back to another time, a time when he had felt the same. It felt like centuries ago, a different lifetime. He had long ago suppressed those feelings, hiding them under years of experience and necessity.
"Is Murdock okay?" Amy's halting voice broke into his thoughts, and he directed his attention to the problem at hand. He nodded and took her soft hand between both of his.
He squeezed gently before saying, "Yes. He's going to be just fine. He's sleeping right now, but he should be back to his crazy self in no time." She nodded and turned away once more. Hannibal sighed in frustration. He had never liked giving the pep talks that were sometimes necessary for a leader to give, and it didn't help that Amy was a woman. Women didn't think on the same wavelengths as men, and he knew there was a good chance he would only make things worse. Still, he knew it was up to him to talk to her and help her to come to terms with what had happened, what she had done. He briefly wished Face were there. He was much better at dealing with the sensitive emotions of women.
A long moment of uncomfortable silence passed as Hannibal tried to think of what to say. Finally, Amy solved that problem for him.
"How do you do it? How do you smile and laugh when you know that you've..." she trailed off, raising her hands in a helpless gesture.
"Taken the life of another human being?" he finished for her. "Even though you did it out of duty, or to save your life or the life of a friend?" He stressed the last part of his statement before going silent. He didn't have to wait long for her response.
"I didn't save his life," she snapped in disgust, her voice filled with bitter self-recrimination. "It's because of me that he's in that hospital. It's because I hesitated and didn't..." She bunched her fists at her side and bowed her head, the tears she could not control flooding down her cheeks.
Without a word, Hannibal pulled the young woman into his arms and rocked her back and forth as the sobs shook her slender frame.
"I could see his eyes, Hannibal," she sobbed. "Even from as far away as I was, I could see his eyes."
Hannibal sighed again. The eyes. Yes, it was always the eyes that hurt the worst. Those eyes still appeared in his dreams every night, and he suspected they would to the end of his days. He said nothing, merely holding her until the sobs faded to intermittent shudders. Finally, she sat back and he let her go, watching as she wiped at the streaks of mascara on her cheeks.
"I'm sorry, Hannibal," she whispered. "You must think I'm..." He placed the tips of his fingers against her mouth, shushing her even as he shook his head.
"Amy, it's not wrong to feel as you do. And the fact that you hesitated doesn't make you a weakling." He paused, before admitting quietly, "You should never have had to face this day." He turned away, the anger he felt at himself vivid in his light blue eyes. He calmed himself with an effort and turned back to her. "A human life is a precious thing, and only a cold blooded murderer would feel no remorse at taking that life." She looked away, but he gently grasped her chin and turned her eyes to meet his own. She held his gaze for a moment before her eyes dropped to her lap once more.
"Do you..." she started to ask before stopping.
"Yes," he answered anyway, his tone firm. "Even though two wars have hardened me and taught me how to deal with it for the most part, I still feel that pain and remorse every time I'm forced to kill someone. The pain never completely goes away, but it does get easier. The first time is always the hardest." He turned away, his eyes looking back into the darkness of his memories. Sometimes he wished he could gouge out those inner eyes, and it was at times like this, when he looked upon innocence lost, that he remembered what he had lost, and mourned.
Again, Amy's choking sob brought him back to the present. "I can't, Hannibal. I can't do that again." She hugged herself, trying to force the tears back into submission. With a sudden jerk, she got up and went to a side table where a white envelope gleamed in the moonlight entering through the windows. She fingered it a moment before bringing it to Hannibal.
He sensed that there was something here he would not like, and he took the envelope from her hand as though it were a poisonous snake. The light from the double glass doors leading onto the balcony was enough for him to read by, so he pulled a single sheet of paper out of the envelope and skimmed it quickly. Letting it drop back into his lap, he looked at Amy for a long moment.
She could not meet his gaze, and her fingers kneaded and twisted at the belt on her terrycloth bathrobe as she turned sideways to look out the windows into the night surrounding them.
"So, you think running away to Jakarta will fix everything, make all this go away?" His tone was caustic and angry, he realized, but he could not soften it. He felt a desperate twist inside him, as though he were losing something precious, but he thrust it away viciously and concentrated his full attention on the woman standing before him.
"No," she cried out, the agony on her face painful to watch. She bowed her head and echoed softly, "No. I don't think it will fix everything or make it go away, but what happens next time? You say it gets easier." She turned to look at him, and now there was a bright intensity in the almost black depths of her eyes. "What happens if next time I cannot pull the trigger, or if I hesitate too long and one of you dies as a result? What then?"
Hannibal thought back to the pilot, who just a few hours ago had been fighting for his life. All because...No. He would not blame her. He was the only one who could be blamed. He had put her in that position, forced her to take the action she had taken. Still, his silence had answered her far better than words.
"I can't do it again, Hannibal," she restated quietly. "I was a fool to ever think that I could be a part of the A-Team. You guys probably let me tag along, humored me until I figured out why you didn't want me to come along in the first place." Her tone was sad and full of resignation as she sat beside him once more.
His eyes met hers and again anger touched his tone. "You're wrong, Amy Amanda Allen. You're right that we feared something like this might happen, but we did everything in our power to prevent it. Every time you complained that we weren't letting you do enough or letting you play a big enough part in the action, we thought of this possibility and tried to spare you. And I cannot deny that I have questioned the wisdom of my decision many times, especially in the last few hours."
His voice softened. "But the fact remains, Amy, that I did choose to let you join the Team, and it was not because of any threat of blackmail." Her eyes were wide as she studied him, and he could see her swallow hard. "I let you join us because I saw a strength and determination in you that reminded me of myself. We all saw that. Despite your lack of experience, you had something special that you brought to the Team." It was his turn to look away as he sought to keep the turmoil that was his thoughts under control. After a moment, he returned his gaze to hers. "It is that inner strength that will get you through this, Amy."
He paused again before continuing with what he knew she would not like to hear. "When you kill someone," she looked rapidly away, but he grabbed her shoulder and she turned back to face him. "When you kill someone," he repeated, "you lose a part of yourself, a part that you can never get back. Now, you can let that loss, the guilt and the pain created by that loss, destroy you, or you can summon that inner strength that I know is there and get through this, become stronger."
He let her think about that for several long moments before he stood and flicked the envelope onto the side table beside the couch.
"If you do decide to take that assignment, we won't think any less of you. You have earned it, and it may be best for you to take a break from all this for a while, think things over." He paused, carefully considering his next words. "But if you do it to run away, to avoid facing the pain, you will only make things worse and will probably end up destroying yourself." He reached out a hand and cupped the side of her face, his thumb gently tracing her cheekbone. "Don't let this beat you, Kid." With that, he withdrew his hand and left the apartment.
Behind him, Amy picked up the envelope from where Hannibal had tossed it. Her fingers rubbed over the coarse paper that invited her to take the opportunity of a lifetime, his last words echoing in her thoughts.
She understood what Hannibal was trying to tell her; knew the implications involved in the choice she had to make. She prided herself on the fact that she had never run from the challenge. She had been through some difficult situations in her life, and she had always found the inner strength needed to find her way. He was right about that. She would make it through this, somehow.
However, no matter what Hannibal said, she knew he had to realize the potential risk of allowing her to remain on the Team. Their lives were full of the violence that she now feared more than anything else, and she knew she would never forgive herself if one of them died because she could not handle the responsibilities that came with that lifestyle. She had hesitated once, and one of them had landed in the hospital. If she hesitated again...
Fingers trembling, she once more unfolded the sheet of paper she held in her hand. Looking at the now closed door to her apartment, her vision blurred with tears even as her heart firmed with her resolve. She would do what she had to, but she promised herself and Hannibal that she would do it for the right reasons.
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