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Summary: The team helps a young woman find her father. A little humor mixed with some drama.
Warnings: Violence, a couple swear words.
Disclaimer: I do not own the A Team. I make no money from them. I just like to let them run wild in my imagination.
Copyright: Monte April 2003
"Oakdale Army Surplus. How can I help you? Mmhmm, sure thing. Hey, Jo, Jesse's on the phone."
Jo walked over to the counter where Harry was holding the phone out to her. "Thanks, Harry. Hello, Jesse. What can I do for you today?"
"Are you going to be around this weekend, Jo? I think I found someone who might be able to help us find out what happened to your father."
Jo was sitting in the storage room surrounded by boxes of papers and old store records, when Jesse walked up behind her. He leaned against the doorframe and, grinning down at her, said, "Hoping to find a treasure map?"
Jo turned to her friend with a grin. "Hey, Jesse. Remind me to never try to find anything in my dad's records will you?" With a sigh, Jo looked over the stacks of invoices, tax records, and purchase orders from more than 15 years.
"Your dad liked to keep records for everything?"
"My dad liked to keep everything, period. Why do you think he owned an Army Surplus store? The only thing he liked more than finding a good deal was finding people to buy strange and unusual, and generally impractical junk."
Jesse smiled and replied, "Yeah, and there is no denying that you are your father's daughter."
A movement behind Jesse caught Jo's eye. Glancing past her friend, she saw Harry nervously chewing his lip as he walked toward them.
"Uh, Jo? There's a couple of military guys who wanna talk at ya."
Jo rose from the floor. "Alright, Harry. Take them to the office. I'll be right there."
"Company is always nice, but the military isn't who normally stops by." Jo shrugged. "I guess I better go see what it is they want. My dear daddy, wherever he may be, wouldn't be too happy with me if I was to piss off the entire army."
Jesse grinned. "Yeah, that generally isn't a good idea."
As Jo walked toward the office, she paused as she passed a mirror. Her red hair was falling out of the braid she had put it in earlier that morning, she had dirt streaked across one cheek, and she had dark circles under her eyes. Pushing her bangs out of her eyes with a sigh, she thought, "Oh, who cares what I look like. I'm not here to impress the military."
As Jo walked into her office she quickly appraised the two uniformed men standing in front of her. The older man looked to be in charge. He had white hair, icy blue eyes, and was holding a cigar in his hand. The younger man was black with a mohawk, dark brown eyes, a multitude of gold chains, and looked to be about 200 pounds of solid muscle. Rather intimidating pair, to be truthful. "No wonder Harry looked nervous," she mused.
Jo calmly made her way to the other side of the desk and sat down. "Is there something I can do for you today, gentlemen?" she asked politely.
Dr. Richter looked up from his paper work when a knock
sounded on his door. "Come in," he called out. He smiled as a pair of
brown eyes peeked around the edge of the door.
"Hiya, Doc. Can Billy come in too?" Murdock asked hesitantly.
"Of course, Mr. Murdock. Billy is always welcome. Come in and have a seat." Dr. Richter smiled as Murdock walked over to the couch and patted his lap so "Billy", Murdock's invisible dog, would join him. Dr. Richter would never admit it out loud, but if the truth be told, Murdock was his favorite patient.
During the course of their session, Dr. Richter let his mind wander on occasion. He was positive that Murdock was connected to the A-Team but he could never get Murdock to talk about it. And while he was sure the war in
Today was no different. Murdock's latest hallucination was about vampires. Murdock was one who could entertain if you weren't trying to analyse him.
"And so then he sleeps under my bed during the day so he doesn't burn up in the sun. And sometimes Billy stands guard."
"Can you tell me why this vampire hasn't bitten you?"
"Well, Doc, he told me that different blood types taste different. And for me that's good 'cause he don't like AB negative and 'cause I let him sleep under my bed, that's why he don't bite me."
"I must say, Murdock. You do have some very unusual acquaintances. I don't believe anyone else I have ever met has known a vampire."
"Maybe they have, Doc. And they just don't know it. Vampires can make people forget things, you know."
"So why is he letting you remember that he is a vampire who sleeps under your bed?"
Murdock grinned. "Hey, Doc. This is the VA. I live in the mental ward. Who would believe me?"
Dr. Richter glanced at his watch. "I'm afraid our time is up for today, Murdock. I'll see you again at our next session on Thursday."
Murdock bounced up from the couch. "Okey, dokey, Doc. Come on, Billy, time to go."
Dr. Richter watched with a slight smile as Murdock walked out into the hall, talking to Billy.
Jo sat silently contemplating what
"We'll find yo' daddy. Ain't right not havin' yo' daddy here. We'll find him for you. Or my name ain't BA Baracus."
"I appreciate that, BA. I really do. I know you understand what it is like not to be able to be with your family."
"Congratulations, Miss Harris, you've just hired the A-Team."
That night, as Jo lay awake in bed, she thought about her
father; and she smiled as hope filled her soul for the first time in over a
year. Ever since her father disappeared, she had feared for him. After months
with no news, her hope had faded. Somewhere down deep in her heart, she felt
that he was still alive somewhere. Jo and her father shared a special bond. She
knew if he were dead she would have felt it, as if a part of her had died as
Glancing over at the clock, Jo groaned. It was nearly 1:30 AM and she had to be up by 6:00 A M because Hannibal, BA, and some guy named Face were going to be meeting here to do some planning. And Jo was not a morning person "Oh, well," she thought. "I've gone to work on less than 4 hours of sleep before. I'll survive."
At A M, the radio blared to life. Jo slowly opened her eyes and glared at the red numbers shining in the darkness. But knowing she only had 30 minutes before she had to be ready, she pulled herself out of bed and stumbled toward the bathroom bleary eyed and yawning.
Face leaned closer to the mirror to inspect his hair. He turned one way and then the other as he preened. When he heard a heavy pounding on the door, he jerked back from his reflection.
"Come on, Faceman. Hurry up. You been in there fo'ever." BA growled.
"I'll be right out, BA. Be patient."
"I been patient. For almost an hour. Now it's time for you to get out here." BA pounded on the door again to make his point clear.
Later that morning, Face, BA,
"Dad had stopped in
"Maybe we should try to find this David guy, Hannibal. He might have some information on where Mr. Harris is."
"Good idea, Face. We'll need Murdock for this one."
"Awww, Hannibal," Face whined.
"Hang on just one second. I have a couple of questions." Jo broke in. "One-; who's Murdock? Two-; exactly what is the VA? And three-; why do you have to break him out?"
"Murdock's a crazy fool who crashes airplanes." B.A. replied with a scowl.
Jo sat on the edge of her desk, dumbfounded. The pilot of the team was in the mental ward of a vet's hospital. Life was really starting to get interesting. Looking over at Face, a smile crept onto Jo's lips. "I think I would like to meet this Murdock. Mind if I ride along when you go to get him?"
Jo glanced over at
At the sudden sound of a shrill alarm ringing, Jo murmured, "Apparently sometimes he is more convincing than others."
"Be ready to roll, BA."
With wide eyes, Jo watched as the two men raced around the corner of the building toward the waiting van. As they neared the van, Face yelled out, "Go, BA, go!!" Both men jumped as they neared the van. Face gave Murdock an extra shove as BA set the tires spinning out clouds of smoke.
"Put the pedal to the medal, muchacho, they are right on our tail!" Murdock yelped.
As the van skidded around a corner, it was Jo's turn to shriek as she was flung against the side of the van and promptly landed on by Murdock.
Murdock grinned at Jo, whose face was mere inches from his own. "Hiya there, whoever you may be. Howlin' Mad Murdock at your service."
"It's my pleasure... I think. Would you mind getting off of me please?"
As the van sped away from the hospital, Face, Murdock, and Jo managed to get themselves into their seats. Jo glanced around at the group of men who sat near her. Face was smoothing the wrinkles out of his clothing and trying to arrange his hair back to perfection.
In front of him,
From the look in his eyes, Jo could tell that it would be an adventure getting to know him. As a smile crept onto her face, Murdock giggled and whispered, "Wanna meet my dog, Billy? Only very special people can see him."
Jo nodded and Murdock unzipped his flight jacket and reached inside to pull Billy out for some air. He held him up so Jo could pet him and scratch behind his ears.
BA glanced back at the pair and shook this head and groaned when he saw they were whispering and giggling together. "Crazy fool." He thought. "He gonna make that girl crazy too."
A light rain began to fall that night. Jo loved the sound of the rain hitting her window, lulling her to sleep. The first few hours into the night were calm and peaceful for the people sleeping inside
Jo knew her father was somewhere nearby. But it was so dark. She could hardly see her hand in front of her face. She could hear voices but couldn't quite make out the words. Her father's voice was one of them. She inched forward, trying not to make any noise. The voices got louder; apparently whoever was talking was very angry. Something didn't feel right. Something was wrong. Jo crept up to the corner and as she peeked around it, she could see a group of men with their backs toward her. In the dim light she could make out her father sitting in a chair, his face bruised and bloodied by his captors. One of the men turned from the others and Jo shrank back into the shadows, hardly daring to breathe.
"Last chance, Harris. What do you say? You gonna be of any use to us?" he asked.
Jo's father raised his head up from his chest. One eye was swollen shut but he glared with the other. "Do your worst," he rasped.
The tall, dark haired man who had spoken to him chuckled menacingly. "Oh, I will." And with no remorse, he picked up a 9mm handgun from the table beside him and brought it level with the wounded man's forehead.
Jo's eyes grew wide but fear had stolen her voice. She watched in horrified silence as the gunman's finger slowly squeezed the trigger. As the shot exploded in the dark...
She was alone. Sitting up in bed, tears streaming down her cheeks, her body bathed in cold sweat. Another flash of lightning illuminated her room. The crash of thunder followed almost instantly. The storm was right overhead, and since it had knocked out the electricity, there was no telling what time it was. Jo knew she wouldn't be sleeping any time soon, so she eased out of bed and pulled the top blanket off to wrap around her shoulders.
Shuffling out the door into the living room, she made her way to the large window overlooking the street. In the distance, the stars were beginning to shine again. In a matter of hours, the storm would pass them by as well. Jo reached up to run her fingers through her hair. Usually she braided her hair so it would be manageable in the morning but tonight for some reason, she had left it long and loose. Staring off into the darkness, she sighed.
A single tear trickled down her cheek as she thought about the dream which had shaken her so badly. When the Team had offered to help her find her father, she was hopeful and joyous. But now she was terrified they would run out of time. Jo sniffed and blinked rapidly to keep the other tears from spilling over. When Jo felt a hand on her shoulder, she spun around with a gasp.
"Are you ok?" Murdock asked her, his voice full of concern.
Jo looked up into his big brown eyes and shivered as she whispered, "A nightmare, that's all."
Murdock took a step closer and brushed her bangs out of her eyes. "You want to tell me about it? I've had more than my share of nightmares. After a while you get to understand 'em."
With a weak smile, she nodded. Murdock put his arm around her shoulders and guided her over to the couch. When they were both seated comfortably, Jo began to describe the events of her dream. Murdock listened silently, understanding her fears. As she spoke, he reached over and took her hand in his, lacing their fingers together.
When Jo had finished, Murdock pulled her close. He was no stranger to violent nightmares. Between the fighting in
Jo pulled back to look at Murdock. "My dad used to call me that all the time. He always called me his baby girl. It made me feel safe and loved. No one has called me that in a long time." She smiled at Murdock. "Thanks, I needed that. It is hard not having anyone that you can talk to," she confessed.
Murdock smiled back, "I'm glad you feel better. And I promise you, we will find your father." His smile faded as he saw that Jo was no longer looking at him, but rather past him, almost like he was not there. "Jo, what's wrong? What else is bothering you?"
"Have you ever... Most people don't believe in it but... Have you ever had a dream come true?"
"Is that what you are afraid of? That we won't find him alive?"
Jo nodded. "I should explain why this dream bothered me so much. When I was 18, I had a friend who was a great bull rider. He went to all the rodeos within 300 miles. He even talked about going pro. There was a big rodeo coming up in
Murdock was afraid to ask but he did anyway. "Was he hurt bad?"
"They carried him out of the arena to an ambulance. When I got to the hospital, he was in a coma. He died 2 weeks later, he never woke up." With fresh tears filling her eyes, Jo looked into Murdock's eyes. She prayed that he might actually understand.
Murdock placed his hands on each side of Jo's face. And in the pale moonlight which had broken through the clouds, he leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. Simple and innocent, meant only to comfort. But Murdock was surprised when Jo returned his kiss with fervor. Loneliness and fear vanished as they were replaced with determination and passion.
All at once Murdock realized that whatever happened on this mission, he had to protect the girl he held in his arms. No games, no pretending. He knew he needed to be her strength. She needed someone to hang onto when the storms of life threatened to destroy her.
As they broke the kiss, they looked at each other silently, letting their spirits do the communicating. A gentle smile spread over Jo's face. Murdock returned the grin and reached down to pull Jo's blanket up around her shoulders again. He leaned back against the arm of the couch and pulled Jo toward him. With a quiet sigh, Jo relaxed as she reclined against Murdock's chest.
Murdock wrapped one arm around Jo, holding her near his heart. With his other hand, he stroked her hair and face. He smiled again as he felt her snuggle against him and wrap her arms around his waist.
Jo felt safe in Murdock's embrace. While she trusted BA, Face, and
Later that morning, Face stood by the kitchen counter as he was scamming a plane for the trip over to Scotland to begin the search for David. BA was in the garage tinkering with his van, Hannibal was planning last minute details, Murdock was watching cartoons in the living room, and Jo was making everyone lunch.
"Let's see, I've got tossed salad for Face, ham and swiss on rye for Hannibal, salami and mozzarella on wheat for Murdock, ham and mozzarella on wheat for me, and ham, salami, turkey, cheddar, swiss and mozzarella on white for BA." Turning to
"And you actually expect him to drink milk you give him if he knows we have to fly soon?"
With a twinkle in his pale blue eyes,
"What? You want me to... oh no, no way. I don't want him to get mad at me. He'd expect it from you guys..."
"Exactly. That's why you have to give it to him,"
"He could crush me like a bug!"
"But he won't. BA likes you. He might growl but he won't bite."
"That's my girl. Now go give BA his lunch."
With a sigh of resignation, Jo placed BA's sandwich on a plate and reached into the cupboard to pull out a glass for his milk.
"So how long does this take to work?"
"He'll be out a few minutes after he drinks it. Then we'll carry him to the van and we'll head to the airport."
Shaking her head, Jo picked up the plate and glass and walked toward the door to the garage.
"Lunch time big guy. Come on out."
BA rolled out from under the van with a grunt. "'Bout time. I'm starvin' here." He quickly snatched the sandwich off the plate and began to eat it, using the glass of milk to wash it down. Moments after BA finished the sandwich and milk, Murdock walked into the garage.
"What you want, crazy fool?" BA growled.
"Nuttin. Just seein' what you been up to." He replied.
BA shook his head, stumbling over to the van, muttering about not feeling right. He glared at Murdock and Jo. "What you do to me?"
"Ah, now don't be mad at Jo.
BA sat down in the back of the van with a thud. A moment later, he was sleeping soundly as he leaned against the seat.
"Well, the hard part is over and he's already in the van."
"I'm never doing that again. No matter what
"It's okay baby girl, I won't let BA hurt you."
Jo looked at Murdock skeptically, "What, you'd let him pummel you so I could get a head start?"
"Either that or you could hide in the VA."
"By the time this is all over, I think I will have to check into the VA permanently." With a giggle, Jo shook her head. "At least I will have someone to show me around."
Three hours later, they were in the air. Jo was staring out the window, watching the scenery below. For nearly an hour, she had been lost in her daydreams. As she glanced over to her right, Face proclaimed smugly, "Gin. That's $8.40 you owe me now
"Face, I think I should be dealing from now on."
Jo watched as
"That's an even $9.00 now."
"Tell me something." Jo said looking over the cards then at Face and
"No, I just keep track of how much
"That's a relief. I'd hate to think that either of you were taking money from each other. Especially the way the two of you play."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Face asked as if he had been royally insulted.
"Just that I know better than to ever play Gin Rummy with either of you." Reaching over to where Face's left hand rested on his left leg, Jo slipped her thumb and index finger inside his cuff and pulled out the ace of hearts. Tossing it onto the tray table between the two men, she spoke up again. "Oh, and
"Well, you two practice all you like. I think I'll go keep Murdock company and leave you both with Sleeping Beauty." Jo motioned over her shoulder to where BA was strapped into one of the seats.
Murdock glanced over the gauges on the instrument panel of the plane. Not that he needed to, he could tell the plane was as happy to be in the air as he was. Both were in their element doing what they were created to do. Murdock couldn't put it into words, but it was almost like the sky was his home. This is where he was the happiest, the most comfortable. He could be himself when flying. A voice from behind him pulled him from his musing.
"Mind if I join you for a bit?" Jo asked.
"Not at all. You can play co-pilot."
"Thanks, BA is in lala land and
"Let me guess. Gin Rummy again."
"Yep." Jo chuckled. "I think they need a new hobby."
"That's what the Jazz is for."
Jo was about to ask what he meant by "The Jazz" but thought better of it. She had a feeling she would find out all in good time. Jo began to take in the details of the cockpit. She had never gotten the chance to see much of the pilot's domain in all the flights she had been on.
Murdock watched as Jo studied all the dials, gauges, and buttons in front of them. Obviously, she was quick to figure out what things were controlled by which knob or button. He could almost hear the wheels turning in her mind as she attempted to understand everything before her.
Jo felt Murdock's eyes on her and turned to look at him. He was smiling. She could tell he was pleased with her interest in the aircraft. "So what's the flight plan, Captain?"
"We'll stop to refuel in
"Um, I'm assuming that you mean
"Yeah, he might get grumpy again." Murdock shook his head. "And we don't want the big ugly mudsucker to get grumpy if we can help it."
"I'd of thought that by now you'd be used to it," Jo teased.
A few minutes passed with only the drone of the plane's engines to break the silence. An idea popped into Murdock's head. "Feel like a crash course in aviation?" He asked, stealing a glance out of the corner of his eye.
Jo stared at Murdock, blinked a few times, and stated, "If it's all the same to you, I'd much rather have a flying course before you teach me the crashing part of it." Barely keeping a straight face, she said, "Plus I don't think the other guys would want to crash right now."
Murdock grinned and began to explain the most important details of piloting an airplane. Jo took it all in quickly. After a few minutes of instruction, Jo cautiously placed her hands on the controls and felt the power of the plane immediately. Murdock let his hands fall to his sides. He sat quietly as he watched Jo learn the subtle ways an aircraft speaks to its pilot. He could see she was a fast learner and had a natural knack for flying.
Jo quietly spoke as she grew in confidence about flying solo for the first time. "Most people would find it hard to believe that a person can feel deathly terrified and unbelievably alive at the same time." Sparing a second to glance over at Murdock, she smiled weakly. "I feel almost petrified with fear, but at the same time, it is like... I don't know. I've never felt like this before."
"You were born to fly. Like I was. That's why you feel the way you do. You're a natural. This is where you belong."
"It's home. That's what if feels like. Murdock, do you feel that way too when you fly?" Jo looked over at Murdock again, her eyes gleaming with a newfound excitement.
"That's exactly how I feel. This is the real me. Sometimes I wish I could stay up here forever."
Jo sighed and a dreamy look soothed her features. She felt the same way at that exact moment. The sky had called her name and was begging her to stay. She loved the work she did in the store and the interaction with the customers, but up here with Murdock, she felt her soul had reached the pinnacle of happiness. Jo knew that what she felt now wouldn't be able to last forever. But she was willing to give into the call of the wild blue yonder for as long as it would last.
After spending the better part of the last couple days on the move, the Team was glad to arrive at the bed and breakfast outside of
Face was the first to speak up. "Do you suppose the locals ever wear the traditional clothing?"
"I'm sure we could find you an outfit if you decide you want to be Scottish, Lieutenant,"
"Well, that's not exactly what I had in mind, Colonel," Face stuttered.
Jo looked at BA who was still scowling about being put on a plane. Catching his eye, she smiled. "What do you think, BA? Would Faceman look good in a kilt??
BA looked Face over, picturing him with a loose peasant style shirt and knee length kilt. He looked over at Murdock who was covering his mouth with his hand to muffle his giggles. Then he looked back at Jo and told her, "If you find a kilt, I'll make him wear it."
Jo's eyes sparkled as she imagined BA having to sit on Face to get him into a kilt. Making the mistake of looking at Murdock with that mental picture still in her head, Jo couldn't help but burst out into laughter. Murdock let loose as well. Soon BA and Hannibal were both chuckling and Face was turning a deep shade of red.
"I'm really sorry Face. I just had the funniest image..." She had to pause to wipe the tears out of her eyes. "You on the ground with BA holding you down. And Murdock running up with a kilt in his hands. Somehow I don't think you'd be the right one to pull off the traditional Scottish way of dressing."
Slowly, Jo and Murdock were able to get their laughter under control. Taking a deep breath, Jo wondered how Murdock would look in a kilt. Probably not as funny as Face would. Letting her mind wander, Jo followed the guys into the castle to check in.
It was late that night when Murdock finally got to his room. He didn't bother turning on the light because there was a fire crackling cheerfully, and the bed looked inviting. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he bent over to remove his shoes and socks. He stood up and shrugged out of his flight jacket, hanging it on the back of his chair. Murdock yawned and pulled his t-shirt out of his pants. Easing his tired body out of the confining material, he stretched his shoulders and back to loosen up his muscles. Shuffling over to the window, Murdock could see the moon peeking through the clouds. There was something bothering him but he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was. It was just a feeling but for some reason, he just couldn't shake it.
Yawning again, Murdock turned and headed back toward the bed. He slipped out of his khakis and let them fall on the floor. He slid under the blankets and closed his eyes, letting his body relax at last. Soon his breathing had become deep and even, a sign that he had fallen into a sound sleep.
As the night progressed, Murdock's sleep became more restless. He tossed and turned in the dark, unaware of his moans and mumbling. This was the only time he was vulnerable, when he was asleep. Once again, the demons of the past came to haunt and torment him.
The whir of chopper blades filled the air. He was soaring through the skies, rushing to his destination. They needed him. They needed him now. He had to hurry. Murdock was begging for every ounce of speed the chopper had. As he got closer, he could hear the artillery being fired on the ground. He had to get his team out of there fast. Precious seconds ticked by as he descended. Murdock flinched as bullets ricocheted off the side of the chopper. But where were the guys? They should be here. It was Murdock's job to get the team out of harm's way. But this was wrong. A trap. Murdock felt a hand grab onto his arm.
Jo froze when Murdock reacted out of years of training. His left hand held her wrist securely just seconds after she had touched him. She heard the click of his handgun being cocked echo in the darkened room. Cautiously, she whispered, "Murdock, it's me. Please put the gun away."
"Jo?" Murdock asked as he released her.
Taking a couple steps away from the bed, Jo whispered. "Yeah. I... couldn't sleep. I heard... You were..." Jo paused to take a few deep breaths. "I just wanted to make sure you were all right."
Shoving back the blankets, Murdock placed the gun back under the pillow. Striding over to where Jo stood, he grabbed her by the shoulders. "Do you realize I could have hurt you or even killed you?!"
"But you didn't."
Murdock groaned and dropped his hands to his sides. He walked over to the window and ran his hands through his collar-length hair. Murdock swore under his breath. He knew how close he had come to pulling the trigger. The Team knew not to touch him when he had nightmares. Ever since he had pulled his gun on
Murdock felt Jo place a hand on his back as she stood beside him. Turning his head to look down at her, he asked, "Do you realize the danger you were just in? Do you know how close I was?"
Jo gazed at Murdock's face in the moonlight. She tilted her head to one side as she studied the pained expression in front of her. "Yes, I know I could have been hurt. But not by you. You wouldn't hurt me."
Murdock stared at Jo's eyes. There was a sort of understanding there that he would never harm her. The moonlight shining on her hair made it appear to be lined with silver. Her eyes shone as if stars had been placed there. "And in thine eye a kindling light (Whatever it might be) was all on Earth my aching sight of loveliness could see."
Jo smiled slightly, "Poe. Edgar Allan Poe. One of my favorites, even if he was morbid and depressing."
"Crazier than me, too."
"You're not crazy, Murdock. Not really. You're just an angel in disguise."
"You'd change your mind if I told you half the things I've done."
"Well, maybe you're a dark angel then." Jo glanced down at her feet and noticed how scantily clad Murdock was. Raising her eyes to meet his, she said, "Perhaps you should go back to bed. It's too early to be getting up for the day, and if you insist on standing on a stone floor wearing only a pair of boxers, it'll be up to me to explain to Hannibal how you froze to death."
Murdock nodded, he was getting chilled. He didn't know how Jo could seemingly understand him so easily. What had taken the team years to do- she had done in days. It was almost as if she could see into his soul. If she could possibly know the dark dangerous secrets he had hidden so deeply and not run from him, he would be shocked. And yet, somehow, he knew she wasn't the type to run from danger. He knew she would recognize its presence and boldly face it- even if it meant surrendering her safety, or even her very life. Murdock turned to Jo again. "Go to bed, Jo, I'll be fine. Thanks for your concern. I guess we're even on the whole nightmare thing for now."
"Good night, Murdock. I'll see you in the morning."
Murdock watched in silence as Jo walked over to the door and left him alone once again in the room. He slid under the covers and laced his fingers together behind his head. With a sigh, he closed his eyes, but it was a long time before sleep claimed him once again.
Sarah had given the team an address of a house about 30 miles away where David was supposed to be staying. Earlier she had told them, "He suddenly moved with no explanation. Just up and left. He is from the same family as me, but sometimes I wonder how our relatives can be so different."
Murdock wondered if David would have any information on where James Harris was today. He had the last known contact with Harris, and he had suddenly left job and home around the same time. Too suspicious for Murdock to pass off as coincidence. He had a feeling they were racing the clock this time. When they reached the house,
"We're looking for David Callahan. We were told we could find him here,"
"May I ask who is calling?"
"I'm Hannibal Smith, and these are my friends, Templeton Peck, BA Baracus, HM Murdock, and Jo Harris."
"My father is a friend of David's," Jo added
"Just one minute please."
Jo looked up at Murdock hopefully. He smiled encouragingly at her. When the door opened again, a tired, unshaven David Callahan stood before them. He looked over the group and let his gaze rest on Jo. With a sigh, he quietly said, "There's no question you're James Harris's daughter. Well, you might as well all come inside."
Later when everyone had gathered in the living room, David began the tale of what had happened when James had stopped to see him. "The day before his flight was scheduled to leave, we were in
"Do you know who the man was?"
"Kyle Garcia. I'd bet my life on it," David answered.
Jo's eyes instantly locked with David's. A feeling of horror engulfed her. For a few moments she could hardly breathe. Face felt her body go tense as he sat beside her. "You know who this Kyle Garcia is, Jo?" he asked.
"He was my father's business partner before I was born. Kyle was pushing Dad to get our inventory for the store through some guys who dealt in the black market. They had a huge argument, and Kyle took off. Dad never heard from him again."
"Apparently, he decided it was time to look him up," Face said.
David continued. "That evening, James advised me to leave
"And you haven't heard from him or seen him since?"
David shook his head. "Kyle has been in
"Glad I could help." David looked over at Jo. "I hope you find him. Your father is a good man, and a good friend."
Jo nodded. "Thanks David. Stop by if you're ever in my neighborhood."
The group said their good byes and made their way to the door. As they drove back toward
The next day,
Jo laid her book down as the waitress refilled her coffee cup. Jo wished Kyle would hurry up and arrive, this was her fourth cup in less than two hours. She loved the flavor of coffee, but this was getting to be a bit much. Jo sighed and reached for the cream. Slowly, she sipped the coffee and picked up her book again. When she heard the one o' clock gun fired she raised her eyes to look around the room again. At that moment, the door opened.
As the man walked into the cafe, Jo studied his features. He was tall, had dark wavy hair and deep brown eyes. Jo glanced down at the picture of her father and Kyle, which she had stuck between the pages of her book. With mixed emotions, she knew she had found him. The years hadn't changed him much. And now, sitting less than 20 feet away was Kyle Garcia in the flesh. Jo looked over at Face and motioned at Kyle. Face had seen him come in as well and nodded at Jo. Jo placed some money on the table and made her way toward the back of the cafe. She slipped out unnoticed; her part was done.
Murdock and Jo watched the two cars leave. "Well, now we wait for Hannibal and BA to do their part," Murdock said, turning to her. He watched as Jo nodded mutely. There was a far away look in her eyes which seemed almost hopeful, and fearful at the same time. "We should go see what Face is up to."
"Probably flirting with the waitresses," Jo replied.
True to her guess, they found Face working his charm on a young lady at the cash register. Murdock told Face that they would see him back at the bed and breakfast at the time
As they wandered, they spoke a little but Murdock sensed Jo had something bothering her. When they reached Salisbury Crags, Murdock stopped. "What's on your mind, Jo? I can tell there's something bothering you."
Jo sighed softly. "Kyle was the one in my dream, Murdock. He was the one who pulled the trigger. I guess I'm just worried about what might happen."
"Whatever happens, I'll protect you."
Jo smiled and nodded slightly. "It's not me I'm worried about."
"Kyle's got a place on the coast just south of
"Any chance of going up the cliff?" Face asked.
"So how we gonna get in,
"I was thinking that a reverse frontal assault would be appropriate."
"Man, he's on the Jazz again. He's on the Jazz." BA groaned.
"Face, you see if you can cause a distraction at the front gate so BA and I can get over the wall. Murdock your job will be to get that yacht for us as an escape route."
"And where am I while you guys are running around playing hide and seek with Kyle's goons?" Jo questioned.
"You'll be here where you'll be safe. So don't get any bright ideas about trying to talk me into taking you with us,"
"I wouldn't dream of trying to talk you into anything. That's Face's department. I wouldn't want to take his job away," Jo replied innocently.
"Let's get everything ready to go then,"
The next morning, Jo watched as the guys loaded the last of their supplies. She calmly watched them as they got into the car and drove away. Just before they disappeared from sight, a teenage boy on a dirt bike appeared from around the corner. He handed Jo a helmet and she pulled it onto her head and sat behind the young man, wrapping her arms around his waist. They sped off in a northward direction.
When they reached the coast, they walked over to where a kayak rested on the rocky shore. "You got everything I asked for?" Jo asked.
"Yeah, it's all there. You sure you don't want to tell me what you're going to do with all this stuff?"
"I think you're better off not knowing, Ian. Thanks for everything. Now I think you should get going before anyone notices us," Jo responded.
Ian walked back over to his bike and picked up his helmet. Just before he drove away he told Jo, "Hey, I don't know what you're up to but be careful."
"Thanks, Ian. Don't worry about me, I can take care of myself." Jo carried the kayak to the water's edge and quickly shoved off.
Murdock crept along the path following the cliff line below Kyle's estate. Peering around a jagged outcropping of stone, he could see there was only the one guard on the deck. Murdock watched as the guard paused his pacing to light a cigarette. "Better watch it, muchacho. Those things are bad for your health," he muttered.
Murdock quickly checked his ammo supply and estimated the distance between himself and the dock. He silently slipped from one point of cover to another, slowly closing the gap between the guard and himself. He shook his head as the guard actually put down his rifle while he puffed on his cigarette. "This is going to be too easy," he thought.
With the speed of a wild cat, Murdock was on the dock beside the guard. The first punch broke the nose of the shocked guard, while the second doubled him over as the air was driven out of his lungs. Murdock slammed his knee into the guard's face as he crumpled onto the dock in oblivion.
Murdock looked down at the unconscious man at his feet. "Told you smoking was bad for your health." Murdock pulled the guard behind some crates and tied him up. Picking up the discarded rifle, he checked the clip and found it full. He spun around quickly at the sound of feet on the end of the deck.
"Jo!? Just what the hell do you think you're doing here?" Murdock exclaimed, startled.
"At the moment, tying a kayak to the dock," she replied as she finished tying the knot. "Other than that, I was thinking of looking for the elusive Nessie."
"Don't get smart with me girl. You were told to stay behind. You could get seriously hurt out here."
"For one, macho man, I am not a girl, I am a woman. Two, I got past both you and that guard before you knocked him out. Three, I can get into the estate without being seen."
"The path up to the estate is video surveyed. There's no other way up."
"Yes there is, right over there." Jo pointed to the cliff face
"You've got to be crazy if you think I'd let you try to climb that cliff. Now get back to town before you get into trouble," Murdock said through clenched teeth.
"For your information, I am a certified climbing instructor. I've been up the face of Half Dome at
For a minute they stood there staring at each other. Jo silently dared Murdock to try to stop her. Murdock frowned. "You sure we can climb that rock face?"
"After Half Dome, it'll be a piece of cake. I'll go up first and set the anchors. You won't have any trouble."
"Alright, but I'm not taking any responsibility for you when
"Let's go then," Jo said as she strode past Murdock.
BA lowered his binoculars and motioned for
"Good, let's go sergeant."
Murdock watched as Jo pulled a small duffel bag out from between a couple boulders. Slipping off the shoes she was wearing, she pulled on a pair of material thin rock climbing shoes. She shoved her shoes into the duffel bag and replaced it under the boulders. She pulled out another bag and a heavy-duty climbing rope from the hiding place. Quickly Jo grabbed two climbing harnesses out of the bag and handed one to Murdock. She slipped into hers and helped Murdock get into his.
"How am I supposed to carry this rifle up there?" Murdock asked as he adjusted the harness to fit snuggly around his waist and legs.
"You can't. I will." Jo replied. "It's probably easier for me to carry it and that way, if there is someone at the top when I get there, it will make things a little more even. And I wouldn't want to get distracted by a gun pointing up in my direction."
Murdock carefully let his eyes take in the details of the cliff they were preparing to scale. Jo noticed the look of determination in his eyes. "Ever do any climbing before?" she wondered.
"A little, but not like this. But if I can haul dynamite on my back up a mountain, I can do this."
Jo looked at Murdock questioningly. She shook her head and muttered, "I don't want to know." Jo quickly tied the rope to her harness and did the same for Murdock. "Just follow my lead, and try not to fall off, and you'll do fine." As she finished tying the knot in the rope, she raised her eyes to meet his. "You ready for this?"
Murdock gazed disbelieving into the blue eyes that were sparkling mischievously up at him. "Damn. You're on the Jazz too. I thought
Jo smiled and picked up the rifle, sliding it over her head and shoulder so it would ride on her back without slipping. "Let's go crash Kyle's party."
Kyle was a patient man. He liked to plan out his ideas to the smallest detail and make the idea come to life. He was also a very determined man. Kyle took a long drag on his cigarette and dropped it on the cement, crushing it out with his heel. He strode over to the cell which had been the living quarters of James Harris for the past year. "Wake up, Harris," Kyle said as he approached the cell door.
A groan was the only response Kyle got. "How long can you resist me? I told you what I wanted. And if you had co-operated, I could have put you out of your misery a long time ago. But you decided to be stubborn, and look at what it's gotten you."
James Harris slowly turned over on his cot to look at his captor. "Take a hike, Garcia. The store wasn't for sale when you tried to get it before and it isn't for sale now. There is no way you're going to get your sticky paws on my business."
"We'll see about that, Harris. In the end, I always get what I want. And I'm not concerned with the means I have to use to get what I want. So why don't you just sign over your store to me, and I can get down to the fun of ending your pitiful excuse for a life?"
"You're headed for a life time of hurt if you don't straighten up your act, Garcia. It's only a matter of time before the past catches up to you. And you can't run from yourself no matter how hard you try."
Kyle glared hard down at James. "I would thank you for the warning, but that's not my style. I was even thinking about letting you choose how you want to die."
"How about old age?"
"Funny, Harris. You want to stay here in this cell for another 40 years? I could arrange it, but I would think you would want out before then. I was thinking something more like tying a large weight around your ankles and throwing you into the sea. Or maybe I should put rat poison in your food and see if you choose to eat it or starve."
"Why don't you turn yourself in, then I'll get to watch them lock you up for the rest of your life and probably die of laughter."
"No, I want the pleasure of killing you myself. Any other way just wouldn't be fair. After all you've done for me, it's the least I can do for you." Kyle replied bitterly. "Laugh while you can, Harris. One of these days I might lose my temper and decide to just shoot you." Kyle stalked away leaving Harris alone with his thoughts.
James slowly pulled himself into a sitting position. Kyle seemed to enjoy using him as a punching bag. James hadn't fully healed from the last beating, when Kyle had taken a baseball bat to his ribs, so he was still a little tender. James ran his hands down his sides wincing when he brushed over a rib which was either cracked or broken. He sighed and wondered how bad his face looked. After Kyle had thrown him back into the cell, James had been bleeding and one eye was swollen shut. For the next couple of days, James was forced to crawl to get his food because he had nearly blacked out when he tried to stand. He had never had a concussion before, but he thought that it would be a safe guess to say that Kyle had given him one. With a moan, James lay down again.
Jo reached into her pouch and pulled out an anchor. Slipping it into the crack in the cliff, she double-checked to make sure it would remain solidly in place. Using her forearm to wipe the sweat from her forehead, Jo used the moment to catch her breath. She glanced down at Murdock who was perched on a three-inch ledge about fifteen feet below her. He had been holding his own on the climb; he was more versatile than Jo had expected. But after seeing how he had dispatched the guard earlier, Jo wouldn't be surprised by anything he decided to do.
They started upward again, slowly and carefully inching from one foothold to another. Fingers grasped at pieces of rock which stuck out from the rest. Their knuckles were skinned and bloodied from using their fists as anchors in the cracks to pull themselves higher. They were getting close, less than fifty feet from the top. The minutes ticked by as the pair clung to the sun warmed rock, ever so slowly rising higher over the ocean.
Kyle was in a foul mood and James' taunting hadn't made it any better. He prowled around the room, pausing by the fireplace. Kyle stared at the glass of bourbon in his hand. He preferred brandy over whiskey but at the moment it was all he had. He quickly swallowed the rest of the liquor and shuddered as it burned a path down his throat. He decided he needed to release some tension in order to feel better. With an evil grin, Kyle picked up the baseball bat which was leaning against the wall.
The cell door slammed open. James felt a hand grab him by the back of the shirt and roughly drag him onto the floor. James pushed himself up onto his elbows. The toe of Kyle's boot found its mark in James' ribs. Hearing the crunch of his bones breaking made James sick. He tried to take a breath but all he got was a chestful of pain.
"Your time's run out Harris." Kyle said as he drew his foot back again. Kyle's next kick connected with James's teeth. "Get ready to meet your Maker."
James looked up into eyes filled with pure hatred. He spit blood and teeth onto the floor. There was no fear in his eyes as he stared up at Kyle. "You may be able to take my life, but you never will be able to break my spirit."
With a snarl, Kyle raised the bat to his shoulder. Giving in to his anger, he swung the bat at James' head. James rolled to one side out of Kyle's reach as the bat came within inches of his body. James knew he was in trouble. Before when Kyle beat him up, he had control of his emotions. But now it was like there was no humanity left in him. He was a violent animal that wanted nothing more than to destroy his target. James felt today was quite possibly the day Kyle would make good on his threats. Kyle's eyes had darkened with rage. They were almost black. In the split second that James was able to crouch in front of Kyle, he knew Kyle was going to kill him.
Murdock and Jo crept up toward the house warily. As they neared the doorway, Jo gasped. Murdock turned around to see what the problem was. Jo's eyes were wide and filled with worry.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Something bad. I don't know what but we have to find Kyle right now. Before it's too late."
The urgency in her voice was clear. There was no time to waste, and they both knew it.
Face, BA, and
Murdock and Jo could hear the sounds of fighting on the other side of the kitchen door. "Stay here and don't make a sound," Murdock warned in a whisper.
Jo nodded and watched as he slipped out into the hallway to help the rest of the team. Jo gently placed the AK-47 on the counter and winced as she heard a body being slammed against the wall. Tiptoeing over to the door, she spied a cast iron skillet hanging near the stove. Jo wrapped her fingers around the handle of the skillet and eased closer to the doorway. Another thud sounded, and Jo risked peeking out into the hallway.
"Enough of this," Jo muttered. Raising the skillet over her head, she brought it down on the skull of the guy holding onto Murdock. For a split second he froze, then his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he crumpled to the floor without a sound. Jo dropped the skillet with satisfaction. "He's gonna have a killer headache when he wakes up."
"I told you to stay in the kitchen!" Murdock protested.
"And I told you to stay in
"We'll discuss my lack of listening skills later. Right now I want to find Kyle and my father," Jo answered pointedly.
Face and BA quickly tied up the four unconscious men and left them in the library where they would be out of the way.
James lay on the cold stone floor, barely breathing. Everything hurt. Moving, breathing, even opening his eyes hurt. So he lay there as still as possible. From somewhere deep inside his soul, a feeling like he was not alone came over him. A voice was telling him to hold on for just a little while longer. Without knowing why he whispered, "Y mire, y he aqui, un caballo amarillento; y el que estaba montado en el se llamaba Muerte; y el Hades lo seguia. I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named death, and Hades was following close behind him."
"Hoping for a rescue there James? Quoting Bible verses won't do you any good," Kyle sneered down at James.
"Aun el necio, cuando calla, es tenido por sabio, cuando cierra los labios, por prudente. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue," Jo spoke from the doorway of the basement. "He was right, Kyle, your operation is dead and hell is right behind me." Jo stepped to one side as
Kyle stared at the group who stood before him. Knowing the odds were in their favor, he bolted for the door at the other end of the room. BA and Hannibal raced after him. Jo knelt by her father and quickly assessed his wounds. "We need to get him out of here. He's hurt pretty bad."
Face and Murdock carefully lifted James and prepared to carry him upstairs. Jo paused as she saw the baseball bat laying on the floor. Her father's blood had stained dark red in the wood. Kyle's .357 Magnum was sitting on the table by the wall. Jo picked it up and slipped it into her waistband under her shirt.
Jo sat in silence as she waited for the doctor to return. They had rushed James into surgery as soon as he arrived. Now it was just a matter of waiting. Jo felt so useless. She hated sitting around doing nothing.
Murdock watched as Jo paced around the room. He sighed and glanced down at the magazine in his hands. He had been staring at the same page for the last 15 minutes but hadn't been able to get past the first paragraph. He gave up and tossed the magazine onto the coffee table in front of him. He walked over to the window where Jo stood and slipped his arms around her.
Jo caressed the strong arms that were holding her. "I'm losing him, Murdock. This time tomorrow I'll be alone. He is all that I have left."
"No, you won't be alone. I'll be here. I won't leave you," he reassured her.
Jo rested her head against Murdock's chest as she stared out at the grey evening sky. The sound of the door opening caused them to break apart and turn to the doctor who had just walked in. Murdock held Jo's hand as the doctor spoke.
"Miss Harris, your father was very seriously beaten on more than one occasion. He has broken ribs, a bruised kidney, and there was a great deal of internal bleeding." He paused as he searched for the easiest way to give the bad news. "To put it plainly, he was hemorrhaging when he arrived. We did all we could, but we can't stop the bleeding."
"Can I see him? Is there time to say goodbye?" Jo asked anxiously.
"He is in ICU room 813. I'm sorry we couldn't do more for him." He directed Jo and Murdock to the intensive care unit and left them to return to his duties.
Jo walked up to her father's bed. She tenderly stroked his hair away from his face. When his eyes fluttered open, Jo smiled sweetly but she could not disguise the pain in her eyes. "Hello, Daddy. I've missed you."
James looked into the emotional blue eyes of his daughter. "Joann, I don't know how you do it girl. I'm sorry you have to see me like this."
"I came to bring you home. You've been gone too long."
"Yes, it's time to go home. It's my time. Time to join your mother. Recite for me one more time."
In a clear, calm voice, Jo recited the poem her father used to recite to her mother.
It was many and many a year ago
In a kingdom by the sea
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabal Lee
And this maiden she
lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me
I was a child and she was a child
In this kingdom by the sea
But we loved with a love that was more than love
I and my Annabel Lee
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me
And this was the reason that long ago
In this kingdom by the sea
A wind blew out a cloud chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee
So that her high born kinsman came
And bore her away from me
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea
The angels not half so happy in heaven
Went envying her and me
Yes that was the reason as all men know
In this kingdom by the sea
That the wind came out of the cloud by night
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we
Of many far wiser than we
And neither the angels in heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee
For the moon never beams without bringing my dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee
And so all the night tide I lie down by the side
Of my darling my darling my life and my bride
In the sepulchre there by the sea
In her tomb by the sounding sea
James opened his eyes once again. "Don't be afraid of letting me go. You are young and strong. You have your entire life ahead of you. I wish I could be there to see it. Hay un tiempo senalado para todo; y hay un tiempo para cada suceso bajo el cielo; tiempo de nacer, y tiempo de morir. It's time. Take care of yourself, baby girl." His voice fell away.
Jo stooped over and placed a kiss on her father's cheek. "I love you, Daddy. Tell Momma I love her too." As she stood, a single tear trickled down her cheek.
James smiled and sighed. His eyes slowly closed, his body relaxed, and he quit fighting. Jo felt his spirit release itself from his body, the deep anguish in her heart confirmed the steady alarm of the heart monitor which was no longer needed.
One week later, Jo stood at the edge of her father's grave. The service was simple, but well attended. James Harris had made many friends during his life and they did not forget him when he died. Jo numbly shook hands and accepted condolences and well wishes from the crowd.
After everyone had left, Jo walked over to where
"You gonna be ok?" BA asked.
Jo nodded slowly. "Yeah, I'll survive."
"Would you like me to give you a ride back to town?" Face offered.
"Actually, I think I'd rather walk. This last week has all been a blur and I need to try to process everything that's happened, but thanks anyway, Face." Jo looked back over her shoulder at the newest grave in the cemetery. "Why don't you guys head back to the house. I'll be along shortly."
Jo walked over to a wooden bench beneath the old birch tree in the middle of the cemetery. She heard Face's Corvette and BA's van pull away and drive off. As the silence once again filled the air, Jo closed her eyes to keep the tears from flowing.
Murdock silently sat on the bench beside her. He met her eyes and simply opened his arms to her. As Jo clung to him, he stroked her hair and let her pour out her emotions. There were no words that would make her feel better, so he remained silent. Understanding of the pain, fear and loneliness she felt coursed through him. Murdock was the shelter she needed during this storm which was wreaking havoc on her mentally and emotionally.
Jo felt completely exhausted. All she could do was lean against Murdock and weep. Ever so slowly, the tears dried. Jo and Murdock took their time getting back to the house where the rest of the Team was waiting.
Part 11 Epilogue
Jo was in her office finishing the bookwork for the night when a gentle rapping on the door caught her attention. "Come in," she called.
A pair of warm brown eyes met her own. "Hiya, Jo. Harry let me in. How you been doin'?"
"Murdock. Hi, come sit down. I've been ok. It still hurts but not as bad as it used to. I was just finished here. Would you like to come by the house?"
"Yeah. I'd like that," Murdock said with a grin.
Murdock and Jo sat on the front porch swing sipping root beer in the warmth of the August night. "In two weeks, I'll be going back to
Murdock nodded. He pointed upwards "Look, a falling star. Make a wish." Murdock looked down at Jo who was smiling up at him.
Jo softly kissed his lips and whispered, "Thank you. Dark angel or not, you've been the dearest, sweetest friend anyone could ask for. I don't want to lose you, or have you hate me."
"What are you doing to do, Jo?"
"In the hospital, just before he died, Dad said in Spanish, 'There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die.' I'm going to find Kyle and remind him of that."
"Jo, don't go after him alone. If you find out where he is, tell me. Promise me that."
"I will, I promise. Maybe if you're with me he'll make it out alive. Heaven forgive me, but I truly want to kill the man." Jo paused to look into Murdock's eyes. "He knows who I am now. It's possible that he could come after me."
"What are you going to do if Kyle shows up here then?" Murdock asked.
Jo stared out into the starry night. The determination in her voice was deadly. "I'll give him back his .357. One bullet at a time."
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