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"IT"

"IT"

By The Chronicler

 

Rated R for mild/suggested slash and emotional angst (deals with cutting)

Summary-- The team always watches out for each other, protects each other... But can they protect one of their own from himself?

Disclaimer: I don't own these guys, and, quite frankly, after seeing what they do to most of the places they stay at, I don't want to. I'm just hanging out for a spell. Hope you're not offended by my presence.

 

IT Ch. 1-- Prologue

 

Templeton Peck winced.


The nurse pulled away, concern reflected in her eyes. "Oh, doctor, are you alright?" She took his arm in a more gentle grip and began to loosen his sleeve where the slight red of blood had seeped through.

Face quickly pulled away. "Fine, Nurse Cambridge." He flashed her his most dazzling smiled. "I'm just such a klutz in the kitchen." he lied. "The carrots are probably laughing their tops off at me." Get Murdock, get out! Get Murdock, get out! Get Murdock, get out! And, for God's sake, don't forget to smile!

"Oh." The nurse frowned.

But Face pulled her close with his good arm, his heated breath on her face making her blush. "Don't fret, sweetness. A thousand such wounds could not keep me from your radiant beauty."

The woman giggled, pushing him away. "Your patient awaits, doctor." she reminded.

Expertly, Face pouted, which sent the nurse through a more giggles.

Murdock was waiting for him, acting out their prearranged escape story, cradling an egg.

Face frowned. The egg was not part of the scenario. Yea, like Billy, the invisible dog, ever was?! or the invisible horse, or the sock super hero, or the golf balls, or the countless other odd ball bits that popped out of the Captain's warped physchy.

'Course, Peck thought as he drove them away from the VA hospital after the successful escape, maybe Murdock had the answer. When the going gets tough, the tough, ar at least the A-team, gets tougher. But what did they do when the going gets brutal? psychotic? savage? He glanced at his best friend, his confidant, his lover who played, with child like interest, with the power window controls. When the going gets brutal, hide!

Sighing, Face turned his attention back to his driving. Too bad the resident nut case position for the team was already filled. Only one team member at a time got to hide away in fantasy land, and it was up to the other three to take care of reality.

Not that face begrudged Murdock for his insanity. Just, from time to time, envied it a bit.

Faceman had to deal with reality. He had to be aware! He had to not hide!

Like after the P.O.W. camps, when all he wanted to do was crawl under the bed and hide, forgetting that anything existed. But, nope, he had to snap to, gear up for the next mission, and bravely march on to dare the next asshole to do his worse to Templeton Peck!

That was the first time. He had done IT to snap himself back. When he felt himself slipping, hiding, he did IT. IT was like splashing his face with icy water or pinching himself out of a dream. The pain, the blood... it reminded him that he was real, that the world he lived in was real, that the people counting on him to pull off the impossible scams were real, that the fucking bullets coming his way were real.

And then he had to hide IT. No, he couldn't hide himself, but he sure as hell had to hide IT! If the Colonel knew....

Face shivered, remembering back when the Colonel had grabbed his arm and yanked back his sleeve. 'What the hell is this, Lieutenant?' he had roared at him. 'You don't have enough people trying to kill you, you have to take a few slices yourself?!' Hannibal had almost sent him home back then, and maybe it would of been best. He would of left Vietnam before the team went on that last mission... hell, down a man, they probably won't have gone! All Hannibal had to do was send him away and none of the last twelve years would of happened! They would all be sitting in some comfy chair in front of the T.V. with wives and kids, enjoying the real world that everyone but the A-Team got to enjoy. But, no, their great and all wise leader believed him when he swore he would never do IT again. Sure, he checked up on him for the first couple of months, checking his arms and legs for new cuts, keeping him close when things got rough, did all the right father figure things. And for years, Face kept to his promise.

But it just got too hard, too out of control, too... just too much. He felt himself slipping again, hiding... he had no choice but to shock himself back. He had no choice but to do IT. Wasn't as if It was a big deal, really. Face was an expert with a knife. He knew how deep and at what angle, and for how long and how to clean IT up and how to ward off infection. He was so good at IT, that he almost never had a scar. Except maybe for that last one. But that was an accident! He just got a little carried away! Did IT a little too deep!

Not that anyone could blame him. After all, they had been on nonstop missions for what seemed like forever now. Some even overlapped. The last one, Murdock had to make an appearance back at the VA or Dr Rickter would of thrown a fit, so they went on without him. It was easier with Murdock around. He could always make Face smile, make him relax, if not with his fun and games, then with his bedroom antics. But Face had been keeping him at a distance in the bedroom. He didn't want his lover to see the cuts. And then he was gone all together! And then the mission went bad! They got caught and smacked around, and, for a few moments, they had thought that was it, they were done for. But, at the last minute, Hannibal's plan, warped and delayed, came through.

Thankfully, the Colonel decided that, after that close of a call, they could all use some down time. And, thankfully all over again, Face was sent to pick up Murdock while Hannibal and B.A. packed up the van. They were supposed to meet at Face's latest scammed place in the morning and be off for the lake cabin for a whole two weeks of relaxation... And no more IT! face promised himself. He had Murdock, he had down time, he didn't need IT... not for awhile anyway.

"Facey? Are you a-okay?"

Face jumped at the soft voice and the gentle touch on his cheek. He glanced around sharply to see Murdock sitting on his knees, facing him, concern etched in those chiseled features of his. Face smiled. "Yea, fine. Why?"

Murdock waved at their surroundings. "We've been sitting in your driveway for ten minutes now."

Startled, Face looked up at the big house they were parked in front of. "Oh." He desperately searched for an explanation. When he couldn't think of any thing, he chose to avoid the issue all together. "Well, what are we doing out here then?" He climbed out of the corvette. "You coming?"

Murdock watched him as he walked around the front of the car and headed for the front door. His soft brown eyes saw everything, knew everything, about his lover. And he knew that Face was not fine. he jumped out of the car, grabbed his duffel from the back seat, and hurried to catch up.

As soon as they were inside, Murdock dropped his back, kicked the door closed, and wrapped his arms around Face from behind. He leaned his cheek against the strong shoulders of his lover, noting how stiff they became at his touch. That was not supposed to happen!

Face started to pull away. "Not now, H.M." he protested, but Murdock didn't release him.

"What's wrong, sweety?" Murdock breathed in his ear. "And don't lie... I know you too well."

Damn! Face silently cursed as those perfect hands pulled up the front of his shirt and swirled around his bare chest. He knows me way too well to hide IT for long if I let him continue... Face jerked away, breaking Murdock's hold. "I said not now!" he snapped and hurried in to the next room, fighting the urge to glance back. He knew what he would see in Murdock's face: hurt, like being mule kicked in the gut hurt.

Stepping up to the wet bar in the game room, Face poured himself a drink. He was lifting it to his lips when the glass was snatched from his hand and slammed down on the bar. Shocked, Face looked up at Murdock.

"Damn it, what's wrong?" Murdock snapped. "You've been pushing me away for the better part of two months now, and I'm damn well sick and tired of it!" His voice took on a pleading tone. "I love you, Facey. I want to be there for you, to help you. But you have to talk to me! Tell me what's wrong so we can fix it!" He reached out for him.

But Face stepped away. He didn't want to do this! He was not going to do this! He would never let anyone know about IT! Damn it, this was supposed to be his vacation!

"Sweety..." Murdock started.

Face spun about and started away, but Murdock wasn't going to let it go. He grabbed his lover's arm and yanked him back.

Face cried out, nearly dropping to his knees as he felt the cut tare open again.

Murdock caught him in his strong arms. He sat him back on the bar stool. "What..." he stopped when he saw the blood soaking Face's sleeve.

Face's eyes grew wide with panic. Again he tried to escape, again Murdock stopped him.

Holding him in the stool with one hand, Murdock pulled the sleeve up with the other. He gasped at the sight of Face's slim arm. What had once been beautiful, perfectly smooth skin, was now spotted with pink, puffy cuts. Some were months old, nothing more than pale scars that would eventually vanish with time. Some were weeks old. Some were only days old. One long, deep cut was hours old, maybe a whole day... and it was bleeding badly.

His own fright making his voice shake, Murdock looked up into those blue eyes and whispered "What have you done?"

Face stared back for the longest breath, then looked away, ashamed that IT had been discovered. But, worse, they would make him stop IT! If he couldn't do IT any more, how was he going to deal with reality? How was he going to stay aware? How was he going to not hide when all he wanted to do was hide?

Fear finally over coming him, Face burst into tears, falling against Murdock's chest

 

 

IT Ch. 2-- THIS

 

He had been surprised when Murdock called a little after 1am. He had purposefully set their meeting time for morning, knowing how rare it was for the two young lovers to get time alone and knowing Face needed some of that time. The kid had been on edge for days now.

 

But when his groggy "This better be good." greeting was answered by Murdock's frantic voice announcing "Facey's sick!" his surprise turned to concern.

 

Now that he stood over the sleeping form of the young man he loved like a son, concern became anger.

 

Anger at the gooks who screwed up the kid's head in the first place.

 

Anger at the kid for not coming to him when things got to be too much. Not coming to him before it came to THIS.

 

But, mostly, anger at himself. How could he not see THIS coming? How could he possibly think that a promise from a frighten child in the middle of a terrifying war, desperate to stay in said war so as not to be separated from the only family he had ever known. stick years later? How could he not know when one of his men was in trouble?

 

"He's gonna be mad at me."

 

Hannibal looked at his Captain who stood against the wall next to the door. His arms were wrapped tightly around himself as he softly rocked back and forth. . His soft brown eyes were shiny with unshed tears, red from lack of sleep.

 

Another victim of Hannibal's lack of attention to his men. Murdock should never have been the one to discover THIS.

 

"He's gonna be really mad I told." Murdock whimpered.

 

Hannibal sighed. "You did the right thing, Captain." he assured. He reached up and rubbed the back of his neck. "How long should he sleep?" he wondered.

 

Murdock shrugged. "Same dose knocks the big guy out for six hours. Probably do Face for eight."

 

Hannibal glanced at the bed side clock. 7:36am. Murdock gave Face the spike soup a little before 1am. They had a couple hours.

 

"Too bad he can't talk to my doc." Murdock mumbled.

"Nice idea, Captain." Hannibal answered. He walked over to him, put an arm around the pilot's shoulders, and lead him out of the room. "You and B.A. go pick up the doc and head out to the cabin. As soon as Face wakes up, we'll meet you out there."

 

Murdock nodded slightly, comforted simply by Hannibal taking control of the situation. "He's gonna be alright, right, Colonel?" he asked before moving away.

 

Hannibal hesitated. He had thought he was going to be alright last time. He grinned his best and answer "'Course he is. Don't worry about it." He chomped down on his cigar, trying to keep the grin in place.

 

Murdock watched him for a moment. Then, with a sigh, he started down the stairs.

 

"One more thing, Captain." Hannibal called to him. When Murdock looked back, he told him "Get everything sharp at the cabin locked up, okay. Out of sight, of mind, right?"

 

H.M.'s eyes widened slightly as the thought was planted in his mind that THIS might happen again. Swallowing hard, he nodded slightly, then spun about and ran down the stairs.

 

Hannibal waited until he heard the van leave, before he returned to the bedroom and his sleeping Lieutenant. It was time he found out how far THIS had gone.

 

Pulling back the blankets, exposing Face's body, he began to count...

 

One...

 

He remembered the first time he had seen THIS.

 

... seven, eight, nine...

 

Face had been hiding behind a tree. At first, Hannibal thought he was trying to give himself one of those stupid amateur tattoos first-tour virgins tried, nearly losing their arms in the process.

 

... sixteen, seventeen...

 

He had caught him by the wrist and yanked him about only to see the true horror of what he had been doing to himself.

 

... twenty-three, twenty-four...

 

'What the hell is THIS?' he had demanded. 'You don't have enough people trying to kill you that you have to take a couple licks yourself?'

 

... thirty, thirty-one...

 

Face had looked at him with those innocent, clear blue eyes of his, doing his best to hold back his tears, to try and be the man he had sworn he was on his enlistment papers. But, when he spoke, it was with a little boy's desperate pleas.

 

... thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine...

 

'Please, Colonel, please don't send me back!' he had pleaded. 'I'll stop. I'll never do it again. But, please don't send me away! I'll die if you send me back!'

 

... forty-two, forty-three...

 

Like hanging out in the jungles of Vietnam was a guarantee of life.

 

... forty-seven, forty-eight...

 

Hannibal couldn't send him away. He knew he should of, but, after the POW camp, he just couldn't. Hannibal needed Faceman, needed Murdock and B.A., as badly as they needed him. He couldn't send him away. So he had made the kid promise him, swear to him, that he would never do THIS again. That if he felt the urge to do some damage he'd come to Hannibal, come at him if need be. But he would never, ever do THIS again!

 

... fifty-five, fifty-six...

 

Fifty-six wounds in varies stages of healing scattered over his body. Fifty-six times he had deliberately hurt himself. Fifty-six times he could of come to Hannibal, and fifty-six times he hadn't. Fifty-six times Hannibal could of taken notice and fifty-six times he hadn't. Fucking fifty-six fucking times he had fucking well done THIS!

 

Hannibal lurched to his feet, spun away, and slammed his fist in and through the wall.

 

"Personally, I like the wall down stairs." breathed a soft voice. "Plaster is weak. Doesn't hurt as much."

 

Hannibal looked back sharply to see Faceman rubbing his eyes. He quickly pulled his fist out of the wall. "How ya feelin', kid?" he wanted to know.

 

Face glanced down at his secret exposed. Slowly, he pushed himself up into a sitting position. Hannibal could see his mind desperately seeking an out, desperately fighting the panic back, desperately trying to remain in control. Picking his usual avenue for dealing with personal problems, Face chose to ignore it all together.

 

Picking up the clock, he yawned. "Almost 9am?" Face scratched his chest, climbing to his feet and glancing around for his clothes. "Should of been on the road by now, Hannibal." he complained

 

Hannibal shrugged. "Looked like you could use the sleep." He took a deep breath. Better sooner than later. "Face..."

 

Face slipped into his pants. "Where's Murdock? You know he's got an egg now?"

 

"Faceman...."

 

"Can't wait to see what B.A. does about that." Face chuckled.

 

"Lieutenant!" Hannibal snapped, grabbing the younger man by the shoulders and shaking him.

 

Face fell silent, looking away.

 

Hannibal sighed, calming himself. After a few deep breaths, he asked "Why did you do THIS to yourself?"

 

No answer.

 

"Why didn't you come to me?"

 

No answer.

 

"Damn it, Face..."

 

The kid winced. He shook his head, looking up at him with those innocent, clear blue eyes of his. "I'm sorry. I tried. I really tried. It just got so... so..." Again he shook his head. "It won't happen again. I promise, Colonel! I'll never do it again!"

 

Fifteen years later, but the same old words. Hannibal wasn't going to fall for it again. "Not this time, kid. I'm not falling for it twice." he warned.

 

Face stiffened. As if pulling up a mask, the pleading look was gone, replaced with anger, with mistrust. He jerked away. "It isn't like I'm hurting anyone!" he snapped.

 

"Except maybe yourself." Hannibal returned.

 

"Come on!" Face held out his arms. "Scratches! Most of them barely bleed!"

Hannibal grabbed one arm and turned it until he could see the latest. "THIS is not a scratch, damn it!"

 

Face tried to pull away, but Hannibal wasn't releasing him. "That was an accident!" he protested.

 

"An accident happens once. Maybe even twice." Hannibal countered, fighting once more for control. "It does not happen three, four, fucking fifty-six times!" He released the arm and shoved him back down onto the bed. "And THIS will not happen again!"

 

Face stared up at him. It took a moment for him to gather his courage up for one more attack. Seeing as words were getting him no where....

 

He jumped up and took a swing at the Colonel, who easily stepped back to avoid it. Hannibal caught the out stretched arm, spun the young man around, and pinned his arms behind him. He held the kid close to him, wrapping his free arm around his chest. He could feel Face's heart beating frantically as if it was trying to break free from flesh and bone and mortal coils.

 

"Done?" Hannibal asked.

Face stopped his struggling. "Who the hell do you think you are to tell me what I can and can't do?" he snarled.

 

Hannibal held him close, hoping Face couldn't feel his own heart racing. "I'm the closest damn thing to a father you ever had!" was his answer.

 

Silence. Cold, icy silence.

 

Hannibal released him. "We'll leave for the cabin as soon as your dressed. Murdock and B.A. will meet us there." He neglected to mention the doctor. He didn't want to have to hog tie the kid to get him to go.

 

Face stepped away. He glanced back at him. "IT isn't that big of a deal." he whispered, picking up his shirt.

 

"No, Templeton... THIS is a very big deal."

 

IT Ch. 3--THAT

 

Sergeant B.A. Baracus glared at the cheese grater. Could it...? Couldn't it...? Could it...? Couldn't it...?

 

With a growl, he tossed the grater into the locker along with all the knives, razors, ice picks, letter openers, scissors, and everything else that could possibly, in the slightest, be used to... to... to do THAT.

 

Shaking his head, he shut the locker and slid the bolt in place. He was just putting the lock in place when...

 

"Facey can pick that."

 

B.A. glanced up sharply at Murdock who sat in the back seat of his van, knees pulled up to his chest, arms wrapped securely around his legs, rocking softly back and forth. He considered snapping at him about the egg that rested on top of his knees, just for some resemblance of normality, but, after one look at the pilot, he just didn't have the heart. With a sigh, he jerked the lock into place. "We'll just have to watch him." he growled.

 

"What if we can't?"

 

The big man's fists balled up. "There ain't no can't, crazy man! When it comes to one of our own, there ain't ever a can't!" he growled. "Now, why don't you go bug that doc of yours, and leave me alone?"

 

Murdock moved his head just enough so that he could see the cabin through the open door of the van. Dr. Richter sat in the rocker on the front deck watching them that way doctors always watch you: watching, seeing, diagnosing, planning the next dose of sedative.... Murdock hoped he brought enough for the big guy. When he saw what Facey had done to himself....

 

Murdock looked away.

 

B.A. glanced at the doctor, then back to his friend. With a growl he slammed the back doors of his van close. Snatching his tool kit from the ground, he maneuvered his way around to the front of the van, feeling with every move, the eyes of that head shrink on him. Trying to figure him out so he could tell him what he was feeling. Like B.A. Baracus needed someone to tell him how he was feeling. His mama didn't raise no idiot! he didn't need no one to tell him he was mad!

 

And he was mad. He knew that most people thought he was mad all the time, but that wasn't true. He was just gruff, blunt, abrupt... Face once called him uncivil. B.A. tried to convince him otherwise by offering to rebuild his fancy corvette... after he had tossed it in to a river. The Sergeant almost smiled at the memory.

 

He slid under the front of his van and began to tinker with this and that. There wasn't really anything that needed to be fixed. He just didn't want to be left with nothing to do. And working on engines had always made him feel good. The rough and tough streets in Chicago, in Vietnam after the camps, running around all over the country with the MPs on their heals, all those crazy missions the Colonel kept sending them on... his tools and busted up engines had always gotten him through it all.

 

B.A.'s hands paused, holding a wrench just over a bolt. It wasn't the engine that needed looking out for. It was the Faceman! Damn it, every time things got tough, B.A. climbed under some damn engine. And what did his lil' brotha do? He did THAT! When the big, bad Sergeant should of been looking out for him, when he should of been protecting him, should of been there for him, should of... should of... just should of, B.A. grabbed his tools and headed the other direction... leaving Face to do THAT to himself!

 

"We can't let him do THAT again." Murdock declared from where he had appeared on the ground beside the tool kit. He had one of the Sergeant's grease rags and was absent mindedly curling it around, shaping a nest in the tool kit for his egg. He leaned over so he could see the man under the van. His soft brown eyes blinked at him like a child waiting for an adult's approval.

 

B.A. sighed, sliding out from under the van. He sat up and leaned against the bumper. "That's why we locked up the sharp stuff, fool." He tried to sound his usual gruff, but he just didn't have it in him. He had never been overly thrilled with the pilot, but he had always been fond of him. And when he or Face got hurt, B.A. always felt he should of stopped it. Or, in the very least, beaten the crap out of whoever did it.

 

But what was he supposed to do now? Who was he supposed to beat the hell out of now?

 

He reached out and gently squeezed his friends shoulder. "Don't worry 'bout it, man." he said softly. "We'll get him through this."

 

Murdock looked up at him, his eyes showing the complete trust he had in the big guy. If B.A. said everything was going to be alright... But he had one more question: "Why does he do THAT to himself?"

 

B.A. Baracus stared at him for a long, silent moment, his mind frozen with the realization that he just didn't have the answer. If there was an answer there was only one person who had it. And B.A. had to wonder how willing he would be to give it up.

 

With a sigh, the big man shoved himself to his feet. "Get your egg out of ma tool kit, fool." he growled, before stomping off to find something else to fix.

 

 

IT Ch. 4-- Maybe...

 

Face glanced from the corner of his eye at Hannibal who calmly, quietly steered the corvette down the back road. They were almost at the cabin now, only a few minutes away. Neither of them had spoken more than a word or two since the argument over who was going to drive. Apparently, Hannibal had had some concern that his Lieutenant might make a run for it if he had let him drive; something he was not willing to chance. And, of course, the Colonel had won. He always got his way no matter what or who that way involved.

 

But, the argument being over for a couple of hours now, Face began to feel hopeful. Nothing had been said about IT. The fact that practically nothing had been said at all was beside the point. As long as IT was not a topic, Face had a chance of avoiding the subject all together. Hell, maybe Hannibal had even forgotten all about IT.

 

Hannibal glanced at him and Face quickly looked away.

 

Maybe...

 

Be cheerful, smile, act as if nothing was wrong... not that there was anything really wrong... After all, he was the Faceman! He could con anyone out of or into anything!

 

He glanced at his commander once more.

 

Hannibal watched him, his eyes narrowed, suspiciously.

 

Maybe...

 

Taking a deep breath, he said "I wonder if B.A. has throttled Murdock yet."

 

Hannibal humphed.

 

Face smiled his best, chuckling. "I wonder how long that egg will last. Murdock should of picked a less fragile prop." He watched Hannibal for a moment, waiting for a response. When he didn't get one, he asked "Did he tell you what's the deal with the egg?"

 

Hannibal shrugged, smiling slightly. "Does Murdock ever need an explanation?"

 

Brightened by the response, Face grinned and laughed. "Even if he needed one, I doubt anyone could come up with one." That was a good sign. Communication that did not refer to him himself. That was very good. Maybe, just maybe, the morning, the discovery had been forgotten.

 

Maybe...

 

Their destination came in sight. A beautiful scene of a 2-story log cabin sitting in a clearing beside a sparkling lake. A jetty stuck out into the water and a small, wooden rowboat was tied to the end. Wonderful, warm sunshine above, green-green grass below, and tall trees all around...

 

Maybe...

 

As the corvette pulled in beside the A-Team van, Murdock jumped up and down and waved from where he had been building a sand/gravel castle for his egg on the beach. B.A., who had been standing on the jetty, keeping an eye on Murdock, looked their direction. Then, calling to the pilot, he started back to greet their friends.

 

Faceman waved to them as he climbed out of the car. "Well, still alive. So far so good." he commented to Hannibal.

 

Hannibal again smiled only slightly. He looked up at the porch where Dr Richter had risen up out of the rocker and was patiently waiting to be noticed. Faceman hadn't noticed yet. And, Hannibal hoped he didn't until they were at least far enough from the car and B.A. was close enough to discourage the kid from making a run for it. Boy, oh boy, wasn't this going to be fun. "Got a cigar, kid?" he asked, keeping the lieutenant's attention.

 

"Don't I always?" He pulled the requested cigar from his jacket pocket and headed around the car to his commanding officer just as Murdock pounced onto the scene.

 

"Facey! Facey, Facey, Facey!" Murdock jumped up and down like a puppy dog who's kid had just returned home from school.

 

B.A. grabbed him by the back of the neck and yanked the pilot back. "Give him some air, fool!" When Murdock pouted, B.A. sighed. He looked him up and down, then asked "Where's that egg of yours, anyway? Ah'm hungry."

 

Murdock squealed, twisted out of his grip, and ran back to rescue the momentarily forgotten egg which had been left behind on the beach.

 

Face chuckled. Arching his back, he stretched his arms out, stiff after the long ride. He winced slightly as he was rudely reminded of the cut on his arm. Quickly dropping his arms, hoping that the Colonel hadn't noticed, he turned back to the car to grab his duffel.

 

But Hannibal had already grabbed the bag. He tossed it to B.A. who nodded in response to some unspoken command.

 

Face almost frowned, but quickly reinforced his grin. Keep smiling, keep it together, play it through... everything was going just perfectly.

 

Maybe...

 

Face shrugged. Backing toward the cabin, he asked "So, what's for dinner? Murdock caught any fish yet?" Keeping up his grin, he turned around. "I'm starved."

 

"Good to hear it." Dr Richter spoke up, taking a step down toward them. He smiled and watched carefully for the lieutenant's reaction. "But, I'm afraid there's no fish yet."

 

Templeton Peck stopped. He looked up at the doctor as B.A. and Hannibal stopped on either side of him. "Hey, doc." he said wearily. Damn, damn, damn, damn! So much for maybe! His mind raced around the obvious answer, but he asked anyway, hoping he was wrong. "Doing a little fishing?"

 

Richter took another step toward him, his eyes never leaving the young man. "Not exactly. I'm here to talk to you."

 

Well, hell, Hannibal thought. He could have at least waited until they had him cornered inside before announcing that one!

 

Face flashed a brilliant grin which lasted exactly three seconds. Then it, and all other signs of calm and normality, vanished all together. "Uh-uh." he said, shaking his head. Stepping back, he glared at his commander. "No way, Hannibal! I'm not crazy!" he growled.

 

"Lieutenant..." Hannibal tried. He knew that, if he had to use force on the kid, it would do a hell of a lot of mental damage to both Face and the rest of the team. He took a moment to silently thank his Sergeant for sending Murdock away.

 

B.A. tried to look as unthreatening as possible, which was quite a challenge for the big man. "Come on, man, no one said you were crazy." he assured, reaching out for Peck's arm.

 

But Face yanked free, practically leaping away. "Then why is HE here?" he yelled, shoving a finger in the doctor's direction. He turned his attention back to Hannibal, his tone taking on a sudden pleading note. "I'm fine! Honest!" He waved his arms about as if they could see through his long sleeves. "These... they're nothing! They'll heal, barely a scar! I won't do it again! Please, Hannibal, don't do this to me!"

 

"Don't do what?" Richter asked, taking another step toward them. "All I'm here to do is talk." he assured. "Talking never hurt anyone."

 

"You shut up!" the young man snapped. He gazed at Hannibal, but, when the Colonel showed no sign of backing down, he became angry once again. "Who the hell do you think you are?" he snarled. "We're not in the army anymore! Remember? You're not a Colonel! I'm not your Lieutenant! And you can't order me to stay!"

 

Damn, why couldn't the doc have stayed out of sight just a little longer?! Hannibal shook the car keys, reminding Face who had them. "And how do you plan on doing that?" he asked, his tone absolutely emotionless.

 

Face glared. "If you think I need keys you really don't know anything about me, do you?" he growled, a nasty smile etched across his handsome face.

 

Hannibal nodded to where B.A. had, unnoticed moved to the car. "You might need that."

 

Face spun about to see the Sergeant yank free the distributor cap from under the hood of his corvette. His jaw stiffened, his mind momentarily frozen.

 

Hannibal wondered for a moment if the moment of silence was due to rage or fear. Watching the young man's stiff back quiver, his fingers digging into the palms of his hands, his weight adjusting from one foot to the other, the Colonel had to wonder if even Face knew.

 

"Lieutenant Peck," Dr Richter spoke up again. He had managed to move up beside Hannibal without being noticed. Must come in handy in his line of work; sneaking around and psychology had a lot in common. "You don't really want to run away from your friends, now, do you?!" It was an observation, not a question.

Face's head dropped with a sigh as he resigned to the fact that they weren't going to let him just leave. Slowly, he turned to glare at the doctor. "I want to enjoy my vacation. Which your lack of presence would greatly help."

 

Dr Richter shrugged. "Alright, I'll make you a deal." That drew a startled look from Hannibal, but the doctor ignored him. He would deal with the rest of the team once Peck was in hand. "Tonight, once you are all settled, sit down and have a chat with me." He held up a hand when the young man opened his mouth to protest. "One little chat, that's all. Then, come morning, if your still feel the same, I will leave." And return the next day he added silently. Forcing him to talk wasn't going to help anything. But pestering him until he finally spat it out... well, that was the basis of psychology.

 

Face's eyes narrowed. "You'll leave?"

 

The doctor nodded.

 

Face glanced back at Hannibal. "You'll let him?"

 

Hannibal frowned, but he, too, nodded.

 

Again Face sighed, dropping his chin to his chest. "Alright." he whispered.

 

Dr Richter smiled. "Good." he said. "Good. Now, why don't you go up stairs and get settled. I do believe Captain Murdock is eager to tell you all about his egg." He waved to Murdock who was slowly approaching them, his eyes scanning the situation wearily.

 

Murdock offered a shaky smile to his doctor, then held his hand out to Face. "Come on, Facey."

 

Face hesitated. But what was left for him to do? Just do it, have a chit chat with the head shrink, send him packing, and, then, maybe then, he could get on with his life.

 

Maybe...

 

TBC

 


IT (Chronicler) 1-4 by The Chronicler
IT (Chronicler) 5 by The Chronicler
IT (Chronicler) 6 by The Chronicler

 

 


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