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Two Years On (#3 in series)
Summary: A story series beginning directly after "Beast from the Belly of a Boeing." Two years after "Ripping Times," more reunions and trouble and danger.
Warnings: Some violence. The death of a major character has occurred since the last story. (Slash in stories 5, 6, and 7 of the series.)
"Two Years On" written by Robin and Maurice Gibb, 1971. (from the Bee Gees' "Two Years On" album)
Some of the same characters appear in Avenger, but that story does not fit the timeline of this series.
TWO YEARS ON
One year, two years,
time goes by
and people cry.
years went by. Two years, almost to the day we had parted ways, I visited the
gravestone of John '
Stockwell finally handed us our pardons, we were gone from
lives have all worked out crooked from the start. All
Murdock stands there, leaning against a tree a few metres away from the open grave. He's changed, no more wearing of baseball cap or leather jacket. He's in jeans and an open-necked shirt, but he no longer looks like Murdock. I shrug my shoulders silently, maybe I don't look the same either, and make my way over to him.
"Hey, Murdock." I say. "How are you?"
He doesn't take his eyes off the coffin. "I've got nothing to say to you, Peck." The carefree Texan accent is gone, replaced with something a little more professional and serious. Murdock always could switch accents at will, depending on what personality he was assuming.
Peck? Something is definitely up. Murdock used to be clinically insane, perhaps
He stares at me, a blank gaze. "I don't know why you're interested. You've got a good life in the movie business, why worry about my situation? I just came here to pay my respects to the old man. You'd be better off leaving."
I take a step back, staring back in disappointment. For a second he holds my gaze, but shakes his head and turns away. I watch him go, then follow. Something is seriously wrong, Murdock never behaved like this before. The streets are a minute's walk away, and once we reach them I have to be quick to catch up with him. I'll have to come back for my car later.
After five minutes of traffic-dodging, he enters a backstreet shop, apparently selling kitchen equipment. Okay, not what HM Murdock is usually interested in. I wait outside.
It is afternoon before he comes out and I'm hungry and mortally bored. I jump him as he comes around the corner, throwing both of us to the ground. Unfortunately for me, Murdock was always the better fighter and he throws me off without too much effort. My body slams against the brick wall at the side of the street and something in my chest snaps. I fall to the ground, groaning. In an instant, Murdock - the old Murdock - is at my side.
"Damn you, Face, you're gonna get yourself killed." He puts a hand to my side and prods my ribcage tenderly. I yelp as he touches the one part of my body which is radiating out pure pain. "You should get to a hospital. Come on." He helps me up and he takes me away from the building he has just come away from. We're at the end of the street before he stops to catch a taxi.
"Like to tell me what's going on?" I say once we're in the back and speeding to the nearest hospital.
"You can't just leave things, can you?" Murdock sighs and brushes his hair out of his eyes with one hand, taking his wallet out of his pocket with the other. I take it and flip it open. His ID identifies him as a CIA agent.
I let out a whistle of surprise. "Didn't know this was your line of work."
didn't, either." Murdock grins half-heartedly. "Stockwell, however,
had other ideas. You remember how I wasn't part of 'his' A-Team, but he wanted
Frankie along? He had a reason behind that. He wanted me to work behind the
scenes for him - he knew I'd done it before. But I managed to stop him doing
that, by moving out to
"But you don't have to work for him..." I put in.
Murdock smiles. "Oh, yes I do. There are...things you don't know about my past, Face. Things I'm not going to tell you about in a million years. Things, however, that Stockwell knows about. So I'm transformed into HM Murdock- CIA agent."
why didn't you ever call?
"You think I was allowed to? I didn't want to get you guys involved, especially as I only ever had one assignment - The A-Team."
The taxi screeches to a halt and the doors are pulled open by two very angry looking men with guns. Murdock shrugs and gets out of the car, I follow, arm around my chest.
"Morning, Rob." Murdock nods to the agent in front of him.
"Murdock, you're in over your head this time. Stockwell wants to see you." Rob replies.
"I don't think so." Murdock says, as I grab the gun out of Murdock's back pocket and shoot Rob in the foot. He howls with pain and drops his gun. Murdock charges into the taxi, throwing the driver out onto the sidewalk, felling the other agent. I jump into the passenger seat and Murdock drives off. "On the run again, just like old times. The fun you bring into my life, Face. It's amazing."
"Where're we going?"
"There's some stuff I have to pick up."
"We can't go to an apartment - they'll have it staked out." I reply urgently.
Murdock replies with a grin. "We're not going to my apartment."
The 'stuff' is secreted in a dustbin on an alley the other side of town. Murdock swings the blue plastic bag into the taxi and rummages through the contents - his old brown leather jacket, blue baseball cap, a couple of guns and a lot of ammunition, plus some forged ID cards and a roll of banknotes.
"This should come in useful." I say. "But where from here?"
"Well, I don't think we'll be making it to the hospital, Face. How're you holding up?"
"I'm not dead, if that's what you mean. I'll be okay, Murdock, but we've got the CIA on our trail and I don't even know why this time."
"Uh, well, I mentioned Stockwell was using me? My mission was to collect information on all four of you guys. Stockwell was pretty annoyed when he had to let you go, I figure he knew there was something coming up. So he got me to collect incriminating evidence that would make you guys work for him again. He won't really 'preciate it if we go running off on him."
"Great." I moan and stare at the roof of the car. "So you got your evidence?"
Murdock grins maniacally. "Sure, Face, never was hard for you to get into trouble with a few fathers, brothers and husbands. BA was set up easily enough..."
"Yeah." Murdock looks away. "The perfect way to wrap everything up. Stockwell knows we aren't much of a team without Hannibal. To incriminate Frankie as well was a masterstroke. So we're all tied up with no A-Team to call on for help."
"Murdock! Come on, Captain. We've been in worse situations." I can't even try looking at the abyss of despair I know is hovering close.
"Uh...well I always thought that having to get the smell of that Chinese food out of Frankie's trailer before his cousin came back was a pretty dire situation." I seize on the first thing that comes into my head.
Murdock laughs, despite himself. "Yeah, that was some stink. Bad things always happen when I go into embassies." We both remember the hangliding incident. "Okay, Faceman, where do we go from here?"
"You're the Captain." I execute a sloppy salute. "And the CIA agent."
"Huh. I think I got my last cheque from them a while back." Murdock replies. "We gotta find Frankie before they do."
"But BA-?" I think of the big man pacing a lonely cell.
"Can wait. We know where he is. They know where he is. But, they don't know where Frankie is." Murdock hops out of the car and walks away from it, down the alley.
"And we do?" I catch up, hand to my side.
"Sure, I'm the one who spent months following you guys around, remember?" He turns toward me, remembering that I'm injured. "Uh, Face, you think you can scam us up a motorbike?"
"Why a motorbike?"
"Well...I've always wanted to try one out, they won't be looking for one and there's a place that sells them over the street."
"We're going where?" I manage to stop the fast flow of wind into my mouth and get some words out as I hang onto Murdock for dear life. Mental note: never be seen near a motorbike again.
"Church!" Murdock yells back gleefully.
Church. Okay, you're making a lot of sense there, HM. "Church?" I shout. "Why church?"
"You'll see." Murdock grins at me, risking life and limb in the process. We pull up at, surprise surprise, a church. I hop off before Murdock can try to kill me again and stare at the place. I can be pretty sure I've never seen it before in my life, and tell Murdock the same thing.
"Yeah, there's some friend of Frankie's works here. when he's been in trouble the last two years, he's come here most of the time." Murdock explains, ditching the bike against a wall. We walk inside.
"Why didn't he come to me?"
Murdock stares at me. "Uh, Face, you're not exactly a fount of sympathy and helpfulness."
"Huh!" I reply indignantly, following him down one of the side aisles. There is no one around, except for a deacon arranging things on the unlit altar.
Suddenly, a hand holding a gun shoots out from behind the curtain which hides the confessional. "Tell me you're who I think you are, man."
Murdock eyes the gun placed next to his head and stays perfectly still. "Never leave your hat out in the open, Frank."
"Murdock!" Frankie bursts out and hugs the pilot, then me. As he touches my injured ribs, I yelp in pain. Murdock grabs Frankie.
"Frankie, Face needs some painkillers. Anything doing?"
Frankie nods urgently. "Sure, my man." He calls out to the deacon. "Hey, Fred, we won't be ten minutes." Before bundling the two of us into the sacristy beside the altar.
Murdock leans against the wall, intricately examining his watch as Frankie pulls out a first-aid box. "What's going on your end, Frankie?"
"My end?" Frankie shrugs. "Some weird things. First I kill Johnny, then I keep getting followed by men in dark suits. So, I figure I might as well disappear for a while. How'd you find me?"
sighs. "Long story, but
"Really? How'd you know this?"
Murdock flips open his wallet. "That's how. Don't ask, Frank, wasn't exactly my choice."
"So what're we doing from here?"
"Getting away from here?" I suggest as gunshots ring out in the main body of the church.
"Good one, Face. You're always so on top of things." Frankie follows Murdock out of the back door. I'm not far behind.
"Three on a bike?" I ask in horror. They both hop on and sit staring at me for the two seconds it takes me to decide between certain death and the CIA agents that are firing at me as they run out of the back of the building. "I'm going to regret this..."
The prison in the city is not hard to find, but hard to get into. "Geez, I always thought it was supposed to be difficult to get out of." Frankie quips as we hide out behind a wall over the street.
"Well, that gives us two problems." Murdock says, bandaging up my ribcage with the help of Frankie's first aid kit.
"Plus the fact that the CIA are expecting us." I sigh. "Murdock, what's the point of this? Whatever we do, we're still on the run. Goodbye normal life."
"Can't say you liked it, can you, Face?" Murdock smiles and offers me a few aspirin.
"What do you mean by that?"
the amount of trouble you got into, with no
"God, Murdock, it's like having a spycam as your best friend!" I exclaim. "Besides, I sorted that out. Was no big deal."
"Ha, I saw the 'no big deal'. You had a black eye for a month. At least it kept you from the dating scene." Murdock pointed out.
"At least I can be sure you weren't taking all my girlfriends out if Stockwell's got you on such a short leash." I shoot back.
Murdock, two years ago, would have fired out a witty comment. Now he stares at me, no, right through me. I'm not even sure he heard what I was saying. "Let's get out of here."
"What, and leave BA?" Frankie asks.
Murdock stands up to stretch his legs. "They're expecting us today. We'll never get in. Let them think we've given up."
"We have given up." I join him in standing-up mode. "Unless you have an army on call, we're going nowhere."
"Come on, Face. Let's go scam us a hotel room." Murdock turns around and walks off down the street.
Frankie and I are left staring at each other. "That Murdock, he sure is a weird guy." Frankie states the obvious.
I shake my head and make off after Murdock.
My scamming skills are no use in the hotel Murdock has in mind, but then for the price it's almost free anyhow. One room, one bed and spiders for no extra cost. By now it's dark outside and although the parties I would usually be going to are just starting up, I'm feeling like falling asleep on my feet.
Murdock dumps his bag of miscellaneous items on the floor. "Face, you're injured. You take the bed."
I yawn despite myself. "That's stupid, Murdock. It's big enough for two of us and I'm really too tired to make a move on either of you." I say with a smile.
Murdock is once again deep in thought. "Okay, you're right. You guys get some sleep, I'll go keep watch outside." He leaves before I can argue with him. Frankie, as always, is taking things less than seriously and flops down onto the bed, exhausted. I lie down as well, but once I am sure that Santana's asleep, I go out to talk to Murdock. He's out in the hall, sitting on the floor, back against the wall and a gun in his hand. I don't think he has any cause to worry. We seem to be the only people in the hotel and the proprietor seems to be trustworthy enough, as all his regular customers are probably wanted criminals. For a fleeting moment, I wonder how exactly Murdock knows about this place.
As I open the door and step out into the hallway, Murdock's head jerks up, a finger to his lips. I freeze, having no idea what could be wrong. He stands up, and taps his ear softly. I nod, realising that someone is listening. Who? The CIA? Murdock holds up a finger to let me know to wait, and then strips off his shirt and turns around. Across his white back are several red and black scars, caused probably by a knife. I wince at the sight of them. After a second, Murdock pulls his shirt back on. Who's done this to him? Who would sink so low?
"Stockwell?" I mouth to Murdock.
replies in a nod and a helpless shrug. Forget about any events from Murdock's
past, Stockwell broke him. Knew Murdock had cracked before and could be made to
betray us. Stockwell had condoned Murdock's coming to
No. The CIA had us. Stockwell was working out of the system? But what did he want us for?
"Uh, so how's Billy, Murdock?" I say the first thing that drops into my head.
Murdock's face brightens into a smile of glee. "Billy? Billy's great!" He quickly pulled out a pen and a scrap of paper from his pocket and started to write. "Had to give him to a friend when I started working for the CIA, though. Had to do it real quickly, too." He hands me the paper. On it is a local phone number.
"Okay, Murdock. I'm going back to bed. You alright?" I ask the question, the only honest thing I've said in the whole conversation.
He laughs, not at me, but at his life in general. "No. I haven't been alright for a long time."
I nod, and walk off down the hallway. Outside, there is a phone booth. If Stockwell has orchestrated all of this, it's certain that he has the phone line bugged. Still, Murdock told me to make it quick. Maybe whoever I can call will make a difference in our quest for freedom. The phone rings once, and then is picked up.
"Hi, I'm looking for Billy?" I say brightly, hoping that whoever's on the other end knows what I'm talking about.
"Yeah, what you want?"
What does Murdock want me to say? "Uh, I need a bit of help here, Billy."
"BA Baracus." I say quickly, before the door at my back opens and a gun is pressed against my back. I turn to see four CIA agents with guns. Murdock and Frankie are nowhere in sight. Maybe they got away. Murdock must have known this would happen. The leader pushes me out and picks up the phone.
"Hello?" He says. He gets no answer. The line is dead.
I wake up on the floor of what looks like a storage cupboard. I don't remember exactly how I came to be asleep, but the fire extinguisher in the corner looks disconcertingly familiar. The good, or perhaps the bad, news is that I'm the only one there. Murdock and Frankie must have got away. Unfortunately it means that I'm alone and hurting in a cupboard.
I get to my feet and look around. A solid, locked door. No windows. Three solid concrete walls. Items: one fire extinguisher, a few boxes of stationary and piles of paper. Great if I wanted to write my memoirs, not so great otherwise. I check my pockets - nothing. Not even my inoffensive wallet.
So why am I locked up in storage cupboard? If it's the CIA who have me, why not put me in a cell? I'm sure they've got enough of them. And what happens if they need a new pencil? Just as I'm thinking these inane thoughts, the door opens. I don't even have time to think about jumping whoever might be coming in. Thankfully, it's the familiar hulking figure of Sergeant BA Baracus.
"BA!!!" I could almost hug him. Almost. "How'd you find me!"
He grabs my arm and takes me out of the cupboard. Outside are two unconscious guards and a young man grinning maniacally. "I guess you're Billy?" I ask, figuring that if Murdock had to have a friend, this guy would be it.
He gives me a salute. "At your service. But I have work to do before they miss me, and you two better do likewise. They didn't bring Howlin' Mad and Santana here, but they did have them. Intercepted, I guess." He nods, smiles and walks off, hands in his pockets, whistling.
I stare after him until BA grabs me again and we head towards the stairs. My ribs are hurting like hell, but I don't suppose that I could go up to a CIA agent and ask for some aspirin.
"How'd he bust you out?" I ask BA, breathless.
"He a better con man that you, Face." BA replies. "Where's the crazy man?"
"I'd bet Stockwell's got him." I answer, thinking fast. "Which means we're gonna have to go to the airport."
BA glares at me, but we keep on running.
Stockwell's plane is easy to spot, not so easy to get to. However, with BA on your side, nothing seems to be too difficult. He decks the two guards at the entrance and we quietly go up the stairs and into the plane to hide on either side of the passageway between the cockpit and the rest of the plane. I peek through the curtain.
Frankie is semi-conscious in a seat, probably drugged. An armed guard is standing next to him. Stockwell is standing over Murdock, screaming at him. My friend, the pilot, is tied down to a table by his hands. His face is already bloody.
"What did you think you were doing?" Stockwell yells. "We had a deal!"
"You had a deal, man." Frankie says defiantly. "He ain't got nothing."
I see Stockwell truly angry for the first time. He violently hits Frankie across the face. The Puerto Rican goes silent. Stockwell turns his attentions back to Murdock. "You bastard! You've ruined everything! Baracus is loose! Peck has escaped! Cutting loose was not in the plan!" Murdock is silent. Stockwell grabs Murdock's hair and slams his face down on the table. I hear something snap and wince. Murdock doesn't make a sound. I have to stop this. I kick the side of the plane, making sufficient noise for the one guard to come back to find out the cause. BA jumps him and throws him out of the plane. I pick up the gun and go through to challenge Stockwell.
"Let them go, Stockwell." I say.
Stockwell, gun in his hand, beams. "Ah, maybe my plans haven't worked out as badly as I had thought. I didn't know you'd still care about a traitor."
"He's not a traitor. He's my friend. And right now, I don't give a damn about your plans." I reply.
BA comes to stand behind me. "That's right, sucka! We're leaving!"
"You have no hold on us." I say. "We're not wanted anymore."
"No? The CIA are a little disappointed in your pilot friend here, Peck. Shooting an agent isn't nice."
"The CIA had no right to shoot at us. They're as much at fault. If we have done anything wrong, Stockwell, we'll fight it in court. Not with you." For once, I mean it. If Murdock, BA, Frankie and I have to go to prison, so be it. There'll be no deals this time.
"Then I won't let you leave." Stockwell waggles his gun.
I smile coldly. "Go to hell." And pull the trigger. The shot misses his shoulder by a millimetre, but while Stockwell is distracted, BA charges him down. Stockwell is soon sprawling on the floor. BA takes his gun and throws him into an unoccupied chair.
I dart across to Murdock and untie his hands. He's been hurt too much to speak, so I just hold him while BA calls for an ambulance and let my own tears fall.
"I wondered what I'd say to you, given the chance." I crouch on the ground next to the new grave of Hannibal Smith. "I don't have an answer, except that we'll be okay without you. You were the greatest commanding officer I could have ever hoped to have. Without you, I guess I wouldn't be here right now. Well, obviously I wouldn't be here, cause I wouldn't have known you, but... Aw, you know what I mean!"
"I think he gets the message, Face." Murdock's standing, back to a tree, smiling at me. The walking wounded, both of us. Stockwell broke his ribs, nose and arm, but not his spirit. Murdock's got his pride back, for not breaking and for defending me. Before the police came, we made one last deal with Stockwell. One I am not in any way proud of, but one made for the sake of all of us. We would let him 'escape' on the condition that the charges against Murdock, BA and myself would be dropped. He kept his word.
What mission Stockwell wanted us to undertake for him is a mystery. Whether there was ever a mission is doubtful. He's never particularly liked us, Murdock least of all. I wouldn't put it past him, unlikely as it may be, that he organised this simply to hurt us one last time.
and Frankie have returned to their old jobs - at the youth centre and in the
film business. Frankie has accepted that he wasn't to blame for
feel a hand on my shoulder. "Come on, Face.
I get up off the grass, stare around the graveyard and limp off with Murdock to the car which I had left here more than a week ago. While I start up the engine, Murdock fiddles around with the cassette player.
"What've you got there?" I ask, pulling away.
"A song I heard in the hospital." Murdock explains. "I thought it was kinda apt." He presses the play button.
One year, two years, time goes by.
People laugh and people cry.
"What is it?"
"The Bee Gee Boyz." Murdock grins at me. "You mean you're not a fan?"
Ev'ry morning the clock strikes eight.
I go to work. I close the gate.
And on my way, I sing this song.
About my wife, where I belong.
"This sounds riveting." I roll my eyes.
"Sure. They wrote this after splitting up for almost two years." Murdock decides to give me the past history of the world.
"Good to know we're not the only ones."
"It's good. You know, six years later they had five singles in the top ten!"
"That's really great, Murdock..."
If the clouds get together and talk about the weather
If it's rain they anticipate
Baby make no mistake
Yes the storm will break but never me you see.
"Never me." Murdock repeats. "The storm didn't break me, Faceman. And never will again."
"Is that what this song's about?" I say. "I thought it was just some rhymes."
"Uh, well, yeah, but..."
Two years on . Two years on .
But only you can see me.
Only you can see me.
"Two years on from what?"
"From breaking up. I told you!"
For what I've got
Sir Lancelot was just a dream and I am not
For I am he with something more
It's you and I reality.
If the clouds get together and talk about the weather
If it's rain they anticipate
Baby, make no mistake
Yes the storm will break but never me you see.
suppose the Bee Gees are right. It's up to Murdock and me to face reality now,
Two years on . Two years on .
But only you can see me
Only you can see me
Two years on . Two years on .
END for now. See TIME OF OUR LIVES (#4 in series)
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