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ANGELS LEAD YOU IN
Rated: PG for language and mature subject matter
Summary: Some sad news leads to revelations and understanding
Warnings: Allusions to abuse and non-con sex
Disclaimer: I don't own the A-Team - sometimes it seems like they own me.
Copyright: Mer, May 2003
Notes: For JP, whose heart was so big. "Hear You Me" is by Jimmy Eat World.
//There's no one in town I know
You gave us someplace to go
I never said thank you for that
I thought I might get one more chance//
Dear Captain Murdock,
Please forgive me for writing you like this, but I didn't know how else to
out to vacation with
I'm afraid I must be the bearer of bad news. Monsignor Maghill suffered
a heart attack on Friday evening and made peace with our lord before
passing away early Sunday morning. It was one of his last wishes that
to you and your
colleagues to decide it if is safe for
Please tell him that
he is in our prayers.
Sister Mary Benedicta.
H.M. Murdock turned the small package over in his hand and looked at the single word printed in shaky pen on the front - Templeton. Funny. The sister referred to Face as
As soon as he could he slipped back to his room and dialled a number he had long ago memorized. "It's Murdock. I need to see you. Come alone," he said, when the answering machine picked up, then hung up and made another call.
It was nearly before a dark figure slipped into his room, preceded by the familiar smell of tobacco. Murdock often thought that if Lynch truly wanted to track down the team all he'd have to do was trace all large purchases of Cuban cigars. But then Face would never be so careless as to leave a trail.
Murdock waited until the door was securely closed before he flicked on the bedside lamp. "What took you so long?"
"I only got your message an hour ago," Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith replied. His eyes narrowed when he realised that Murdock was dressed in street clothes. "What's going on, Captain? We only just got back."
Murdock handed him the letter and watched as a frown spread across his features. "Oh, no,"
"I don't know how to tell him, Colonel," Murdock said. "He loved that priest. How can I tell him?"
"We'll tell him together,"
He knew he should move the van into the garage, but he couldn't bring himself to drive the final few feet, so he and Murdock sat silently as the engine idled. After a few minutes, the front door opened and BA Baracus stepped out, holding his Ruger in the ready position.
BA kept the gun trained on them an instant longer until he was sure it wasn't a trap, then lowered it reluctantly. "What crazy game are you playing now,
"He's got you covered from the side," BA snapped back. "Do you think we're amateurs?" He waved his hand towards the bushes at the side of the house. "All clear, Faceman," he shouted and a slim figure slipped into view.
Even in the early hours of the morning Templeton "Faceman" Peck looked as though he'd stepped out of the pages of GQ, 556 and all. "You scared the hell out of us, Hannibal. We thought you'd been captured or worse. What's going on?"
Face frowned, but followed
For a second
Face slapped an arm around the lanky pilot's shoulder. "Come on, Murdock. How could I ever be sick of your company? It's too quiet when you're not around."
"Then you can listen to the crazy fool babble all night long," BA growled. "I'm going to bed."
Face looked like he was about to object, then shook his head and went into the kitchen.
Murdock immediately began to pace the length of the room. "I can't tell him,
BA placed himself in Murdock's path, forcing him to back up. "What are you talking about, fool?" he demanded. Murdock silently handed him the letter, and kept backing away.
BA read it quickly, then turned to look at
"We missed the funeral," BA whispered. "It's my fault. If we'd flown home, we woulda been here in time."
"We didn't know, BA. We couldn't have known,"
"Faceman won't blame no one but himself," BA snapped. "That don't make it right."
"I can't tell him," Murdock repeated, having backed up against the wall. "I can't tell him."
"Tell me what?"
All three men spun, surprised by their teammate's quiet entrance. Face was standing in the doorway, holding a tray with four coffee mugs and containers of cream and sugar.
Face pulled away from his grasp, his blue eyes darkening with suspicion. "I think I'll stand. What's going on?" His eyes darted over to where Murdock cowered in the corner. "Did something happen at the VA?" He took a step towards Murdock, holding out his hands. "You know if something's wrong, we'll fix it."
A half flicker of despair flashed through Murdock's expressive eyes, then he visibly pulled himself together, straightening up and reaching out to take Face's hand. "I know that, Facey. You can fix anything for me. I just wish I could fix this for you."
Face's features were too well schooled to reveal any emotion, but he betrayed his sudden fear by glancing quickly from teammate to teammate. There wasn't anything on any of their faces to reassure him. "What is it? Tell me,
Again no flicker of emotion crossed Face's features, nothing but a quick, involuntary, tightening of hands within hands.
"I'm sorry, kid,"
"He was a beautiful man," BA said gruffly, trying to force Face to meet his eyes. "He's with the angels now."
"Thanks, BA," Face whispered, gently pulling his hands free. "You know, every time I saw him I told myself that it could be the last time. But I never thought it would be true."
Face took the package and looked at the salutation, then raised his eyes at last to look at
And then the mask resettled. "It's been a long day," Face said. "I'm going to bed."
His three teammates watched as he walked out the door, listened as he slowly climbed the stairs, and stood in a silence that none of them could break.
//What would you think of me now?
So lucky, so strong, so proud
I never said thank you for that
Now I'll never have a chance//
My dearest Templeton,
My only Templeton, of course, and all the more dear for your singular
self. I have been blessed. I have always believed the Lord balances
every sorrow with joy, and while I grieve that you have endured such
pain, never doubt that having you in my life has brought me anything
but joy. God granted me a great gift when he brought you to the
steps of my orphanage.
My only regret at dying now is that I can't say these words to you in
person. I know you doubt yourself. I know how lost you sometimes
feel, but God set you on this path for a reason. You have done so
much good, helped so many people. I am so very proud of you.
I'm leaving you my bible and rosary. I hope they give you as much
comfort as they have me. I'm sure they'll add credibility to your
next appearance as a member of the clergy. I always thought you made
a fine priest.
Remember that I love you.
Face folded the letter carefully and replaced it in its envelope, then lifted the bible from the box and ran his finger across the smooth leather of the cover. He placed it gently on the bedside table, then picked up the rosary, letting his fingers slip through the well-worn beads. He lifted the cross to his lips, fancying that it still smelled slightly of the sandalwood soap the Monsignor had favoured. He could discontinue that supply line now.
There was a soft knock on the door and it opened before Face had time to tell whomever it was to leave him alone.
"I saw that your light was still on, so I thought I'd see if you were all right."
Face knew that
"Ah, kid, I know it hurts like hell."
He remembered how Father Maghill had let him curl up in his lap when he was scared or hurt, holding him until he knew he was safe. Face reached up and angrily brushed the beginning of tears from his eyes.
"It's okay to cry, Face,"
He shook his head, wrapping his arms around his body, as if he could hold all his emotions physically in. He took one deep, shuddery breath and held it until the need for oxygen overpowered the impulse to sob aloud.
"It's okay, kid, it's okay,"
And slowly the terrible wave of grief passed over him and he let his body relax, knowing that
"That's not true," the colonel replied gently. "There's three people in this house who love you very much. You know Murdock couldn't cope without you - he's only holding himself together now, because he knows you need him. BA's down there tinkering on your car, because it's the best way he knows to show you how much he cares."
Face held himself still, afraid that if he moved he'd lose this too.
"You don't have to say anything," Face replied quickly. He sat up straight running his hand reflexively through his hair, neatening it with a practiced pat. "I'm okay now. I'd just like to get some rest."
For a brief moment
"I can't!" Face exclaimed, startling both of them. Face grimaced and clenched his jaw shut before anything else slipped out.
Face glanced at him suspiciously.
"I care, Face. And I'll always come when you need me."
Templeton Peck had spent most of his life learning to con people. A lifetime's instincts told him that
The older man's expression was uncharacteristically sombre. "You can't bottle this up, kid. Something's gonna crack and I don't want it to be you."
"I'm okay," Face said softly. "Really. I just need to get some sleep." He waited until
Face laughed. "The Aquamaniac is ageless. You'll live to a hundred and never be old,
"Oh, is that the rule?"
Face thought maybe he should have a smart-ass reply for that, but he couldn't summon the energy. The worst of the grief had passed, but it left behind an exhausted emptiness that was beyond his resources to fill. For once it was easier just to be.
//May angels lead you in
Hear you me my friend
On sleepless roads the sleepless go
May angels lead you in//
It had been different in the camp. There, touch had been survival and sanity. When the guards threw his bleeding, brutalized boys back in the cage,
There wasn't a lot that Face had to feel safe about, really. The last fifteen years of his life had been spent either in-country, in prison or on the run. And the kid had let enough slip over those years to suggest that there hadn't been much in the first 19 years of his life to feel safe about either. Not that you could tell by looking at him.
And then a car squealed to a stop in front of his tent. Not a standard-military jeep, but a Caddie convertible. Driven not by a motor-pool driver, but by a blond boy with wide, guileless eyes and gleaming lieutenant's bars on his shoulder. The boy jumped out of the car and snapped a crisp salute.
"Lieutenant Templeton Peck reporting for duty, sir." The posture was flawless, the salute regulation. But
And he did. He was greener than his beret, but he learned fast and had instincts that couldn't be trained. For all his outer flash, he could move more quietly through the jungle than the stealthiest guide and he was deadly with any weapon. More importantly, he could find anything the team needed anywhere. Before the month was out
And then they were captured.
He leaned over and brushed his hand through Face's hair, then gave in to impulse and placed a light kiss on his lieutenant's temple. Templeton's temple, he thought, a bubble of laughter rising inappropriately in his throat. He backed away from the bed quickly, afraid that if he stayed longer his emotions would boil over altogether.
He paused at the door, wishing there were something he could do to take away Face's pain. "I'm sorry, son," he whispered, then closed the door and walked slowly downstairs to where he knew the rest of his men were waiting.
Murdock jumped up as he walked into the living room. "Is he okay? Is he asleep? Did he say anything to you?"
"Shut up, fool," BA growled, putting down the spark plug he'd been cleaning. "He can't answer you if you're jibber jabbing away."
Murdock's eyes darted between BA and Hannibal and he opened his mouth, then clamped it shut again.
"The Faceman don't cry," BA agreed. "Not even in the camp."
"You're gonna wreck that letter," BA said mildly, or at least what passed as mildly with him.
"Facey," Murdock breathed, tracing his finger around the tiny figure.
BA crowded behind him, looking over his shoulder. "He looks like an angel. Why did nobody ever adopt him?"
Dear Colonel Smith,
The diocese lawyers were by today to duly catalogue and reassign my
earthly goods and it has set me to thinking. I have far too many
things for one who took a vow of poverty more than fifty years ago,
but what I most value is not mine to bequeath. I can only ask that
you continue to look after Templeton for me. I know you love him too
and have done everything you can to protect him these long, dangerous
years. He told me what happened to him when he was a prisoner of war
and how you helped him. I wish I could tell you that was all you
need to help him with.
You once asked me how it was that Templeton remembered nothing of his
real parents, even though he was five years old when he came to us.
I told you then that he had been too frightened to speak when he
arrived and that the doctors thought he might have intentionally
blocked memories of his past as a coping device. What I didn't tell
you was that he didn't speak for nearly six months, except when he
would scream himself awake at night. There were no physical injuries
or signs of abuse that the doctors could find, but he was
malnourished and dehydrated and we could only assume that he'd been
abandoned intentionally or accidentally some time before. I loved
all the children under my care, but I think I loved Templeton more
because I believed I had saved him from a terrible fate. I was wrong.
You can see from the picture that Templeton was a beautiful child.
Unfortunately the world can be a dangerous place for a beautiful
child who cannot speak to defend himself, and an orphanage is no
exception. I don't know how long the abuse went on, only that when
he finally spoke it was to stop it. Not for himself, but for the
other children. We found out later that the priest who had been
molesting him had been hurting children for years. It was only when
Templeton discovered that one of the other boys in his dorm was being
taken out of the room at night that he came to me. I'll never forget
what he said - it was the first words he ever spoke to me. "I
thought it was because I was bad. But Timmy is a good boy."
I never convinced Templeton that he wasn't bad. When his girlfriend
left him in college, I believe he lost faith in himself. I know he
there, I believe he found himself again with you and your team.
Thank you for that and thank you for loving him.
God be with you all.
Hannibal stared at the paper, the words blurring. "Oh, god." He didn't realise he'd spoken aloud until he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into BA's worried eyes.
Murdock looked up from his study of the photo and seeing
BA grabbed his arm before he could reach for anything else. "What's wrong with you, man. Didn't you say he was sleeping? That boy don't need no more grief."
"Not Father Maghill?" Murdock asked, wringing his hands.
"No, it was one of the other priests. Maghill didn't mention his name, but I'm going to find him and when I do..."
"What do you think you're gonna do,
"What's going on?"
Sometimes on long trips, they took turns reading aloud to help the miles pass easier. They all had their favourites -
At least once a year, however, he pulled out a battered copy of The Great Gatsby, which he read aloud reverently, entire passages from memory.
//And if you were with me tonight
I'd sing to you just one more time
A song for a heart so big
God wouldn't let it live//
Face didn't know what woke him, only that in one instant he was in a sleep so deep that no dreams intruded and the next he was sitting up in his bed straining to listen into the night. He got out of bed and padded to his door. When he cracked it open, loud voices filtered from the living room. Hannibal and BA.
He slipped quietly down the stairs, avoiding the spots that would creak notice of his presence. He strained to hear what was happening in the family room, but all he could identify was
He could hear Murdock now, his voice full of sorrow, and his hand slipped into his pocket and closed around the rosary. He had reached for it instinctively when he woke and the light weight in his pocket was more comforting than a gun.
Father Kerr had tried to teach him the prayers, ordering him to repeat the words, then growing angry at his continued silence. He could almost feel the heavy hand on his shoulder, propelling him towards the office for his punishment, the sharp hand against his bare bottom turning into a caress, fingers stroking him in the forbidden places...
Face bit down on the inside of his mouth, tasting blood. It was too close. Father Maghill dead, no one left to protect him. Not true, he thought fiercely. There's the team.
He could see them now. Murdock was standing with his back to the living room entrance, but his whole body radiated distress, from the nervous shifting of weight from foot to foot to the way his shoulders hunched under the bomber jacket. BA had hold of
"What's going on?" he asked softly and drew back as the three men in the room spun to face him. A swift progression of emotions flew across
He looked at the shattered glass. He looked at the sympathy in BA's eyes and the fear on Murdock's face. He didn't need to look at the crumpled letter to know what it said. "Maghill told him." He was still wearing his clothes from the day before, but he felt naked standing before them.
Murdock was the first to move, gliding over and wrapping his arms around Face in a gentle hug. "It doesn't change anything, Facey. We didn't need Maghill to know that somebody hurt you badly when you were a kid." His voice hardened and Face flinched and pulled away.
"Why is everybody so mad, then?" he whispered, feeling as if he were five years old again, waiting in Father Maghill's office for the punishment he thought he deserved.
"Ain't nobody mad at you, Faceman," BA snapped. Face nearly smiled. "We're just mad for you and we don't know how to show it proper."
BA glowered in the direction of the front door. "That ain't your fault.
Face looked up at him, puzzled. "He wasn't there. He didn't even know me."
"But he was in the camp."
Face stared at them, shaking harder. He couldn't understand why he was so cold.
Murdock shrugged out of his bomber jacket and draped it over Face's shoulders, then wrapped his own body around the shivering man. "It's okay, muchacho," the pilot whispered. "We're here. We won't let anything happen to you."
Face leaned into Murdock's embrace, resting his forehead on his friend's shoulder. He could feel BA's hand on his back, rubbing gentle circles between his shoulder blades and let himself feel safe in their presence. But he couldn't cry. "It wasn't his fault. He couldn't have stopped it."
"You know that and we know that, but there ain't no telling
Face thought about burdens: his a burden of silence,
Murdock looked at him worriedly. "Not now, Facey. You can talk to him in the morning."
Face shook his head. "Do you think he'd leave me out there?"
"I'll go get him," BA offered and turned to the door.
Face touched him on his arm, stopping him. "Thanks. But I'm the one he needs to talk to." He smiled shyly, his real smile, not the one he used to disarm the world. "Can I wear the jacket?"
"Mi jacket es su jacket," Murdock answered quickly. "Do you want to wear my hat?" he asked, tipping off his ever-present baseball cap.
Face chuckled. "No. Thanks. Really." He slipped his arms into the jacket, letting the comforting weight slope down his back. "I'm okay," he said, his eyes serious now. "It was a lifetime ago. Don't worry about me."
Neither of his friends answered, not bothering to insult him with a lie and as Face walked to the front door, he knew they'd still be waiting when he returned. He opened the door, half-expecting to see
He walked slowly towards the van, not wanting to spook
Face wondered if he'd made a mistake. Maybe BA was wrong. Maybe
Father Kerr's hand slapping against his Bible - the crack of a lash - leather thongs chafing his wrists - hands forcing his legs apart. He pressed his palms against his eyes, as if he could push back the memories. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he muttered, curling into the seat.
A hand dropped on his shoulder and he bit back a scream, huddling against the door, the handle jutting into his back. The hand was snatched away, but someone was leaning over him. Hot breath against his neck - voices laughing - a heavy silver crucifix bobbing above his eyes - blood running down his legs.
He fumbled for the rosary, struggling to remember the prayers. If he could say the prayers Father Kerr would leave him alone, he would be safe. He closed his hand around the cross. "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen."
The litany calmed him until other words began to filter through the remembered terror.
"Face. Face. Listen to me, kid. Can you hear me? Look at me, Face. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm not going to let anyone hurt you, ever again."
Face let his hands drop and tried to focus on the person looming over him. He frowned. It didn't look like Father Kerr or any of the Cong guards.
"Look at me, Templeton."
Face blinked and his vision cleared. "
Face nodded, not yet trusting his voice. He forced himself to look into
Face decided he had to risk his voice, quaver or not. "There is no better. I'd follow you to the gates of hell, Colonel."
The colonel shook his head. "The kind of missions we were being sent on, it was practically an inevitability. But I was selfish. I couldn't imagine the team without you."
Face tried to interject a little levity. "I'd like to think I added a certain je ne sais quoi to the operations." It didn't even earn him a glimmer of a smile. "Look,
"No, you enlisted to die."
Face tensed. "You don't understand."
The glare softened. "Why don't you explain it to me, Face."
"I loved her and she left me. I wasn't good enough for her. I was never good enough for anybody. My life didn't mean anything. I thought maybe my death could."
Face stared at
That one word - son - the word he had waited all his life to hear broke down the last of the defences the team had been chipping away at for the past decade and a half.
"I'm here, son,"
And when the tears finally fell freely, it wasn't sure a terrible thing after all.
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