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Title: Time of Our Lives (#4 in series)

Time of Our Lives (#4 in series)

Author:  Lonely Walker

Rating: PG
Summary:  A story series beginning directly after "Beast from the Belly of a Boeing."  After events of "Two Years On," Face and Murdock take to the road.
Archive: OK
Warnings:  Some violence. (Slash in stories 5, 6, and 7 of the series.)

"Irresistible Force" written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. From the Bee Gees' "Still Waters" album, 1997.

Notes:  Lonely
Walker's stories should be read in order:  

  1. Freefall
  2. Ripping Times 
  3. Two Years On
  4. Time of Our Lives
  5. In the End
  6. Smoke and Mirrors 
  7. Ourobouros


Some of the same characters appear in Avenger, but that story does not fit the timeline of this series.


Two Years On:

The Time Of Our Lives



In the name of love and life

Turn your face to the lonely night

And this your world, is on the edge

As good as lost but you know the way

Through this faceless town

And she pulls me down.


A road has never seemed so long. Ordinarily - by that I mean two years ago - this would be because I was heading for certain death, worried about a client or, more likely, Murdock was fooling around. Not on this occasion. My pilot friend is staring out of the passenger-side window and has been doing so without sound for the past hour. In an hour, I haven't even tried to start a conversation. For two guys who have spent the best part of fifteen years together, we have little to talk about. No hope in attempting to bring each other up to date on what we've been doing the past two years. Murdock, in his role as Stockwell's slave, knew everything of interest that I did, and has no great wish to discuss his job with me. Stockwell hurt him more that the Viet Cong ever could, by making him betray his friends. No VA psychiatric ward is ever going to cure him of that guilt.


I know the place and the time (of our lives)

So long ago

And al through the years (never dies)

All things must pass.


"So, Face, where exactly are we going?" Murdock sinks back into his seat and closes his eyes. He's still in some pain from Stockwell's ministrations - the bandage around his arm and the bruises across his face bear testimony to that - and the painkillers from the hospital make him sleepy.


I'm just relieved to hear him talk. The last thing I need is a catatonic pilot for company. "I thought we'd pay a visit to my old girlfriend."


"Which old girlfriend?" Murdock asks, popping open one eye.


"What do you mean which old girlfriend?" I glance at him. "You're talking like I'm some compulsive womaniser or something!"


Murdock quietly begins to sing that 'Addicted To Love' song. I roll my eyes. "Okay, okay, point taken. But how many girlfriends have you had in the past fifteen years?"


"Six." Murdock replies instantly.


"The KGB agent doesn't count." I say.


"She didn't need to count. She was a scientist, not a mathematician." Murdock picks out the obvious joke.


"But, okay. Five, and one of those was an international terrorist."


"Oh, Dominique." I say slowly. Murdock realises his mistake and inches away from me. "I remember that very well. I also remember a wet, freezing cold balcony very well."


"I have no idea what you're talking about!" Murdock announces. "So what girlfriend?"


"Kay Waters. You remember - the writer."


"Writer?" Murdock opens his eyes and sits up. "I didn't know you ever had a writer for a girlfriend? I thought all your girls were actresses and models?"


"Murdock, if you can go out with a vet and a dancer from Las Vegas, I can go out with a writer, okay?"


"Okay, okay." Murdock holds up his hands in surrender. "So what happened? You guys still on speaking terms?"


"She wasn't one for committing to a relationship." I muse thoughtfully over my two-week affair with beautiful Kay Waters. Two weeks! My relationships either last for a day or a month. Two weeks for me is not good, especially when the woman breaks it off!


Murdock erupts into laughter. "She wasn't for committing? Take a look in the mirror, Faceman!"


"Murdock!" I yell at him. "Look, she had a job offer somewhere and her work was supposedly more important than me."


"Who would have thought it?" Murdock nods, a smile on his lips.


"But we're still friends. I guess it works out better this way. She lives around here somewhere. Very nice place we can hang out for a while, get our plans sorted out." I, in fact, have no plans from here on. BA really doesn't need our help, and acting as Frankie's agent again would be a living hell. He's a nice guy, but even my temper can be strained.


"And does she know about this?"


"Of course she knows about this! I called her yesterday morning!"


"Just checking."


Irresistible force meets an immovable object and

Human animal madness and blood starts to flow

Invisible fingers and indescribable pleasure

I get to find my personal god

I get to find my personal god.


Kay's house is up in the hills, isolated, but close enough to the nearest town. It's a good setting for painting, but as neither Murdock nor myself ever progressed beyond the drawing of stick-figures, we'll have to settle for just looking at the scenery. The house is small, as she lives here alone most of the time, except when her sister pays her a visit. I stop the car outside and hop out to go and ring the doorbell as Murdock jumps over the side. He's still wishing he hadn't when she answers the door.


"Face!" She gives me a quick kiss on the cheek. "I thought you'd be later than this!"


"No traffic." I say quickly. "Kay, this is my friend, Captain Murdock."


Murdock puts on his most charming smile and shakes her hand.


"What happened to you?" She asks, seeing his bruised face.


"I had an encounter with a brick wall. I'll tell you about it sometime." He lies with a smile.


She realises quickly, both that he's lying and that he doesn't want to talk about it. Let her think it's some bar fight he lost. Better for all of us. "Okay, you'd better come in."


We go into the house and Kay shuts the door behind us. There are no partition walls on the ground floor, just a wooden staircase in the middle. "Nice place you got here." Murdock wanders around.


"Yeah. I'm glad you like it. How you been, Face?" She turns her attention back to me. Kay is one of the few girlfriends who ever called me 'Face'. But then, she was one of the few girlfriends who ever knew I was a member of the A-Team.


"Good, good." I nod. "I died once."


"I heard about that!" She smiles. "I didn't think that my Faceman would ever go down without a whine!"


"Yeah, well. Through my ingenuity and resourcefulness, we managed to escape the government's evil clutches." I smile back. Murdock is standing behind her, rolling his eyes. Both of us know that if it hadn't been for Murdock and Frankie, I wouldn't be alive. Still, a little lying never did anyone any harm.


"Look, guys, I'm sorry, but something's come up. I have to go to Los Angeles tonight and meet my boyfriend."


"Your boyfriend?" I glance at Murdock, who is torn between wanting to laugh and wanting to keep breathing.


"Uh, yeah. He's my agent. We have a big deal going through and he wants me to be around. I'm sorry, I didn't think I'd have to go out for at least another week. He just called me this morning." Kay looks really upset about it, which although I'm not feeling great about it myself, I don't like.


"Hey, Kay. We can find somewhere else to hang out for a few days. It's fine." I see Murdock backing me up by nodding.


Kay brightens as an idea occurs to her. "Hey, why don't you two stay here anyway? It'd be good to have someone to keep an eye on the place and I think you two can behave yourselves for a few days."


"Ain't it nice when someone's so naive?" Murdock quipped.


"We'll be fine." I reassure her. "When do you have to go?"


She looks at her watch. "As soon as possible, really. I'd like to get there early, so I can find Erik. He doesn't seem to like staying in the same place too long. If I'm late, chances are he'll have hopped on a plane to Paris!"


"Interesting relationship." I mutter, wondering why she would ditch me and then have a boyfriend who was never around and was rarely in the same country. Ah.


Kay rushes off upstairs to get her suitcase and I carry it outside, Murdock abstaining as a result of his healing arm. In an hour, she and her car are gone, leaving us standing outside the house staring at each other.


"Man, we don't usually have that effect on people." Murdock says, leaning against the door.


"You saw how sorry she was, Murdock. It's not her fault we came at a bad time. Besides, we'll get on okay here."


Murdock shrugs and goes inside. "And when's she gonna be back?"


"Uhhh...she didn't say." I search my memory. "But probably in a few days."


"You. Me. A small, secluded house for a few days." Murdock sums it up. "No women, no planes. And, as I figure it, no clothes and no food. This is going to be just great."


As a result of Murdock's mutterings, we take stock of what is actually in the house. Enough food for a few days, but unsurprisingly no clothes that would fit us. I suppose Kay wasn't exaggerating when she said Erik was never here. Murdock and myself only have the clothes we're wearing, which we seem to have been wearing for weeks. Some new stuff - and especially some clean underwear - is desperately needed. For our other items, all we have are guns, money, forged passports (not that we need them) and the various bits of machinery Murdock always seems to have in the pockets of his jacket.


I leave Murdock to investigate the house further and go for a walk around the hillside. The road we came up on is the only half-decent one around, although I can see a few other houses in the distance. Going upwards from the back of the house is a dirt track, but it looks like only walkers and mountain bikers have ever used it. A perfect little retreat for us, if we'd brought Frankie along to be our slave and to wash the dishes.


I find Murdock flicking channels on the television. Most of them are filled with static. "Hey, Murdock. I'm going back to that last service station, see if I can find any clothes."


"They don't sell clothes at service stations, Face." Murdock informs me lazily.


"No, but there were a few other shops around. I might as well go take a look."


Murdock nods. "I'll see what I can burn in the kitchen. Cook! I meant cook!"


God of love, god of gold

God of fire in the days of old

It's what I'm living for

And love's the only law

So answer Mayday, SOS

Search me North, East, South or West

It's all I'll miss, just the one last kiss.


I get back about two hours later. The service station had been further away than I had thought. I find Murdock terminally bored in front of the flickering TV set. "Hi, Murdock." I throw the bag of newly acquired possessions at him.


Murdock pulls out a few dozen lumberjack shirts and looks at them inquisitively.


"Look, you want to run around naked for a week?" I reply to his look of disappointment.


"Uh, no. It's too cold for that." Murdock switches off the TV and stands up. "Dare I ask how you got these?"


"It's okay, Murdock, we're not going to be attacked by a gang of naked lumberjacks. I paid for them." I smile reassuringly. Murdock isn't convinced. "Okay, some of them. Look, when you get an good offer from a nice lady, you take it."


"So that's what I've been doing wrong all these years..." Murdock pondered. "Okay, Face, but I get the shower!"


"You'd better, you stink." I make a big show of holding my nose. "What did you cook up?"


Murdock's eyes look at the ceiling. "Uh, well, not so much cook. Carbonise would be a better word. So I ate about three apples. If you want to tackle the oven from hell, you go right ahead." Murdock speeds out towards the bathroom, bag of clothes in hand.


Wonderful. I venture into the kitchen and make a mental catalogue of all the food. Mostly tinned stuff, non-perishables. The nearest 'proper' shop must be about an hour away, maybe more, and Kay did tend to get wrapped up in her writing. It's really amazing how the four of us ever managed not to die of starvation, considering that only Murdock ever had any inkling of how to tackle a kitchen and then it usually involved a frying-pan. Still, it would make interesting reading. Name: Templeton Peck. Occupation: professional scam artist. Cause of Death: cholesterol poisoning.


And then there was Hannibal's amazing turkey. Amazing in that it never seemed actually to appear. Every year for fifteen years he would promise us turkey, only for something to go drastically wrong, like the turkey farmer got too attached to his bird. I'm still wondering whether he could cook at all, or whether it was just a good way for him to get an 'assistant' to help him out.


I find both a tin and a tin opener and work on combining the two. Ten minutes later I have some reasonably well-cooked potatoes and a glass of water. Tomorrow we're really going to have to get our act together. Starvation may be the easy option, but it isn't nice. Murdock wanders back into the living room, dressed mainly in new clothes and looking considerably cleaner than before. "Hey, Face. The shower is all yours."


"I'm eating, Murdock." I say, munching away on potatoes.


"This is true." He sits down. "So what're we doing here, Face? This doesn't seem like a great idea anymore. We're just going to kill each other."


I hold up a finger. "You want a plane to mess around with."


Murdock shrugs. "Yeah, but that's me, Face. What about you? What you wanna do?"


I shake my head and carry on eating in silence. Murdock stays, watching me anxiously for more than a minute. When he leaves, I know that this time, I'm in real trouble.


I wake up to the sound of screaming. For an instant I think I'm back at that Viet Cong camp, seeing the blood on the faces of the prisoners and... Murdock. I shake myself out of it and turn on the light. According to the clock, it's three in the morning. For sleeping arrangements, I took Kay's room, with Murdock in the next room. I remember the screaming and venture out to see him. He's in bed, asleep, but from the looks of things, not having peaceful dreams. Going nearer, I see tears on his face and when he lies still, I reach out to touch him. Bad idea to wake him up, chances are he won't remember anything and'll just be angry at me for getting him up early.


I wait for maybe fifteen minutes, sitting on the floor next to the bed, listening to the almost-silence, filled with our breathing and the sounds of some birds outside. I stare at the clock and...


This is goodbye to the days (of our lives)

My fair-weather friend

I feel your sorrow and tears (they are mine)

I share to the end.


I wake up to the sound of screaming. For an instant I think I'm back at that Viet Cong camp, seeing the blood on the faces of the prisoners and...Murdock. Different this time, though. The cold steel of a gun presses against my jaw and I realise that I'm many miles away from Vietnam. I'm still on the floor of Murdock's room, dressed in boxer shorts, but there are now two men pointing a gun at me. I rub my eyes, fairly certain that either this is a dream or I'm hallucinating. The sharp blow across my face rectifies that illusion.


"Where is he?" The man holding the gun near my head asks loudly.


"Who?" I reply in earnest, for once I have no idea who they might be talking about. Murdock, interestingly, is nowhere to be seen, although it's still only five in the morning.


I am slapped across the face again. "You'll have to do better than that."


"Look, I can't tell you where he is if I don't know who he is, okay?" If I wasn't so tired, and aching all over for having slept propped against a bed for two hours, I'm sure I would be a lot more helpful. And polite. Still, these guys don't look like friendly types. Both tall and muscular, one white, one black. Both carrying guns. The oh-so-familiar hit squad of the eighties. I'm getting the impression that I'm living in a James Bond movie.


White man sighs. "Anderson. We want Anderson."


Good, no one I might know and definitely not Murdock or myself. I do a quick mental double-check that I've never called myself Anderson and come up negative. I briefly wonder about Murdock's shady two-year spell with Stockwell, but he's not the type to use aliases. At least not realistic ones. "Sorry, pal, don't know him. You sure you've got the right place?"


"Don't play games, punk. Anderson knows he's a dead man. We're the executioners. Tell us where he is or we might just practice on you!" White man's eyes turn dangerous and cold. This one's a killer, and not a nice one at that.


"Look, I'm not wanting any trouble. I just got here." I protest. It's true, our days of defending the weak are most definitely over.


"Geez, let's just kill him." White man says.


Black man pulls him back. "No. If he's telling the truth, we don't need to hurt him. If he's lying, he'll tell Anderson we're after him. Fear never did anyone any harm." He pushes White out of the door and stares at me. "I have no doubt that we'll be back for you."


I hear them leave and slowly get up from the floor. I watch their truck leave from the front of the house. Minutes later, the front doorbell rings. I look at myself in boxer shorts and shrug, what the hell. I hurry down the stairs and open the door.


Outside, naked and covered in mud, stands Murdock. He gives me a broad grin. "Hi, Face. Got a towel?"




I watch Murdock eat his cereal with enthusiasm for several minutes before asking: "So what happened from your end?"


The pilot looks up. "Well, I got up about half four and spent a good few seconds holding a debate as to why, exactly, you were sleeping on the floor. Get lonely, Faceman?"


"You were screaming. I came to find out who was murdering you." I tell him the truth.


Murdock gazes intently at his cereal. "I would bet my shirt on Stockwell, cept this isn't even my shirt." He gives me a half-hearted grin. It's amazing the range of emotions Murdock can go through. I wonder sometimes if I've lost the happy young man I knew flying choppers in Nam. I think he's still there somewhere, buried under the blood of too many people. He sighs and carries on. "I went to get a shower, change my bandages. Then I hear these guys bust in. I figure they probably aren't looking for us, but it wouldn't be nice for them to find me alone in the shower."


"So you jumped out the window?" I raise my eyebrows in disbelief.


"Sure. But, next time, I'll be sure to remember that nature isn't as kind as TV programmes would have you believe. So what's the situation, Face?"


"They're looking for some guy called Anderson. They want to kill him. End of story." I realise that we do have very little information, which is probably for the best. Getting mixed up in some local dispute is not what we want right now.


Murdock dumps his spoon in the remnants of his breakfast and leans back. "Anderson? As in 'Erik Anderson'?"


"Kay's boyfriend? We don't know that's his name."


Murdock smiles and gets the pad from beside the phone. "Erik Anderson. LA number, looks like."


I shake my head in disbelief. "Did they teach you this stuff in the CIA?"


"No, in the VA. If you want to get ahead, you have to know everything about the other guys so you can beat them at baseball." Murdock throws down the pad.


I wonder why, exactly, knowing another inmate's telephone number would let you beat them at baseball. A thought comes into my head, but I firmly press it away. It's far too crazy for me to think it. "So what now, oh fearless leader?" Murdock asks.


"I thought you were in charge?" I reply.


"Only on days beginning with an 'S' or 'T'." The pilot grins thoughtfully. "Okay, I think we should investigate this, if only to get those guys back for the number of nettles there are out back."


Not what I want to hear. "Uh, Murdock, we're not the A-Team anymore, remember? No more planes, scams and welding equipment!"


Murdock shrugs. "We don't need to be. Look, let's just find out something about this guy Anderson. If he's a good guy, we let him know that these guys are after him. If he's a bad guy, we don't."


"But they're going to kill him! There is a thing called the law, you know!" I exclaim.


Murdock beams and drags me out of the door by the arm. "I'm glad you agree, Face."


I sit in the car looking defiantly at the open door of the local police station. Murdock, in his usual way, has convinced me that I really, really want to do this, if only to help out Kay. I'm sure that the way he did it wasn't entirely logical, but arguing with Murdock is like arguing with the Devil. He's able to confuse and tempt you whilst making you feel like you were in the wrong the whole time.


So here we are. Or, more exactly, here I am. Alone. Staring down a police station. Murdock has gone to stake out Mr. White and Mr. Black and any multiracial friends they might have. Knowing him, he's probably stealing a chopper at this very moment.


With a sigh, I get out of the car and stride confidently into the police station. I'm about to slam an official document onto the desk when I realise that there's no one there. No one at all. I stand around for a while in total confusion. What happens if I want to confess to being a mass-murderer? I stare at the posters on the wall and not surprisingly see my own face still there. The poster is two years old, but folks obviously still like looking at the three 'official' members of the A-Team, excluding Murdock, Frankie, Amy and the other people who have worked for us over the years. Not that Murdock ever worked for us, he just happened to be clinically insane and therefore not eligible for his own picture on our nice 'Wanted' poster.


"Oh, hi." A voice makes me turn my attention to the doorway. There's a girl in her twenties standing there. A local by the look of her. "Uh, if you're looking for a cop, they're all out trying to find some fugitives."


"Oh. Right." I reply. "Fugitives?"


"Some guys escaped from prison last night. Didn't you hear about it?" She looks at me curiously.


"I'm not from around here." I explain. "I'm from Los Angeles, actually. Looking for an old school friend - Erik Anderson. Know him?"


She shakes her head. "No. Never heard of him. What're you doing here?"


"At the police station? Looking for Erik. I figured maybe they'd put him in prison. He was never a very peaceable guy." It's not much of a gamble, considering she doesn't appear to know who I'm talking about. "You get lots of crime around here?"


"Not lately. Not after the Ringers were captured." She remembers that I'm not a local. "Oh, they were a big gang out here. Into just about everything. But there was a big FBI operation a year back. They got all of the gang in one go."


"Pretty good." I smile. "So, can I buy you lunch?"


"I went to the service station and waited around for a while. No show, so I asked the petrol pump attendant about the truck. He didn't know much about it either, except that they had called in this morning about forty minutes before hitting here." Murdock said, while scribbling away on a map of the area I had picked up at the tourist office. "Only your Mr. White was in the car, so he must have pulled back to base and picked up the other guy."


"So that means that it takes forty minutes to get from the gas station to their base and then back here." I sum up. "It could be anywhere, Murdock!"


"But it takes thirty minutes from here to the station. Which means that their base is a ten minute detour, which makes it five minutes off the main road somewhere." Murdock hands me the map, with a shaded in space of where the base could be. "Now all we have to do is find us a chopper."


I sigh. "I knew you'd get around to that."


We get the chopper in a new world record time of twenty minutes. For once the mountains around our little house have helped us, not to mention Murdock's interesting perspective on the world. As he suggested, we simply called Mountain Rescue. And, voila, un chopper!


"I hope you realise that this is not going to make us friendly with the police." I point out over the sounds of the rotors.


"To hell with them!" Murdock bellows, laughing maniacally. I should just be thankful he isn't singing French opera.


Since this is such a deserted area, because of the mountains, there are very few sites between the service station and Kay's house. There are a few houses, a large hut and a large space of empty ground which looks like it has been cleared for building.


"What d'you think?" Murdock yells.


I point to the hut. "It has to be there."


"Okay. Now for part two of my brilliant plan!" Murdock takes the helicopter lower and away from the hut.


"Oh no." I groan.


Irresistible force meets an immovable object and

Human animal magic

How far can you go?

The rolling of thunder and

You decide what you're after.

I get to find my personal god.

I get to find my personal god.


I'm crouched at the side of the road, counting cars go past. I have, at present, not reached the number 'one'. Yet again, Murdock has talked me into doing something completely implausible. Yes, I'm going to pretend to be a hit-and-run victim. Not the best plan of all time, but one Hannibal would certainly have come up with, just to make me get dirty.


Hannibal. The man who beyond being a leader and a father to us all, held us all together. Two years ago, I thought that was true. It never was. Even before Hannibal's death, we were separated by profession. Now, we seem to have nothing in common. BA and Frankie didn't even consider joining back up with Murdock and myself. I suppose they have lives to go to. I realised back then, on the road, that it had been the A-Team, the ideal of the A-Team, that had kept us together. I also realised that Hannibal had kept us together. He kept us from cracking under pressure and getting killed. After the ideal of the A-Team died, BA and Frankie didn't need Hannibal around to protect them. I thought that Murdock did, but in that I'm wrong as well. Murdock's always been the strong one. I'm the one with nowhere to go.


Murdock's voice crackles into life over the radio we found in the chopper. "Howlin' Mad to Faceman, they're coming your way, I repeat, they're coming your way."


"Okay, Murdock." I whisper and toss the radio into the woods where I can find it later. Taking a look around to see that no one else will witness this, I lie down on the road. I've already messed up my suit, face and hair with mud. If this doesn't work, Murdock will be dying a horrible and painful death.


The truck almost runs me over before they slam on the brakes. "Hey, man!" A guy jumps out of the truck and gives me a hand up. It's Mr. White from this morning. Hopefully he won't recognise me under all of the mud.


"Th-thank God you came along!" I stutter out. "Some biker just came outta nowhere an'..."


"Look, man. I'm in a hurry here, just get out of the way." He pushes me away, off to the side of the road.


I fall to the ground - the wet, muddy ground, I hasten to add - and watch him start to get back into his truck. Okay, time to blow a perfectly awful plan. "You're looking for Anderson, right?" I hope Murdock can hear this, so that when they find my body, they can put this guy in prison.


He's out of the truck like lightning and grabs me again before I can defend myself. "What do you know about Anderson?"


"Oh, that you want him. That I've got him." I reply lazily, pushing his arm away. "In my business, you gotta know who people are looking for."


"Darned bounty hunter!" He curses. "Where is he?"


I give him my most charming smile. "That comes later. Why'd you want him?"


"The bastard gave us up to the Feds, of course! Everyone knows that!" He looks at me closely. "Why didn't you know that?"


"I'm not from around here." I reply cautiously.


"Right. And you're no bounty hunter, either." He grabs my neck with one hand, while pointing his gun at me with the other. "If you don't have Anderson, you're a dead man."


"Oh, I've got him." I make an effort to smile. Murdock, where are you?


I'm thinking the same thing half an hour later, sitting in the damp hut they seem to use as a base. The picture of what's actually going on here is gradually fitting together. Anderson turned in a gang a while back, now a couple of them are out of jail and they want revenge. Fair enough, but how did he know about them? And when is Murdock going to turn up?


I start to count doubles, just to pass the time. My hands are bound tightly behind me, the door is locked and too strong for me to kick my way out. Whether they are still around outside, I don't know. There's been no sound of the truck leaving. The door finally opens, revealing Mr. Black, who kneels down beside me and sinks a hypodermic needle into my arm before I can scream.


I wake up to the sound of screaming... Realise it's the blaring siren of an ambulance a second after my eyes open. Ambulance. Not generally a good sign, especially when you're lying there, staring at a white roof with your best friend there, looking at you anxiously. Murdock. He's supposed to be in a helicopter. Why's he here? What's going on? I try to ask him, but find that very few parts of my body seem to be working. In fact, from the oxygen mask on my face, even fewer than I had thought.


"Hey, Face." Murdock smiles, but it is a smile to give the dying. "How're you doing? Don't worry about the Ringers, we got them. Know what? I called the cops. That's a first, huh?"


I feel like throwing up, if I had the strength. Maybe this is what dying feels like. As if through layers of clingfilm, I feel Murdock take my hand. "Come on, Face. I don't think Hannibal wants you to be reassigned to the great platoon in the sky yet. Besides, there're loads of forms to fill out first, and..." Murdock's attempts to lighten the atmosphere aren't helping either of us. I see tears in the brown eyes of my friend, the barely-concealed shock on his face and in that instant, I know what he's seeing. He's seeing what I see when I wake up to the sound of screaming.


We reach the hospital and I'm rolled out of the ambulance on a stretcher. Murdock runs along with it for a while. In the instant we stop, he leans forward and whispers: "Face, live for me. I love you."


I'm taken away to a place of white light, where I don't know if I'm alive or dead. Where Murdock goes, I have no idea. But then, I've never known.


I surrender

All or nothing

You must spread your wings and fly.


I flick open my eyelids and examine a room of total silence. My first thought is that I'm alive. That, as Murdock would say, is a first. No more screaming. I notice Murdock, asleep in a chair next to my hospital bed. "Captain Murdock? Are you receiving me?" I quip, relieved to find that my vocal cords seem to be working.


"Whoa!" He's on his feet before he realises where he is, and running his hand through his hair so it sticks up. "Don't do that, Face, or you'll be killing me." Murdock sits down again and leans forward. "How are you?"


"My head hurts." I realise. Of the rest of my body, at least nothing is screaming pain at me, which is good. "What happened?"


"Uh, the Ringers tried to kill you with some very nasty poison. Japanese stuff, apparently. You know, free with every copy of Mercenary Magazine? Anyhow, I called up Anderson in LA, pretended I was a Fed. Figures he used to be a middle man for the Ringers. Did the business side of their work. The Feds caught him and promised him a pardon if he turned the others in. So, with that cleared up, I called the cops."


Murdock beams. "We made it just in time, Faceman. You should be dead."


"I've heard that before." I muse.


They keep me in hospital for a further four days, which makes a week in all. Pretty good, considering that I'd been the subject of the Ringer's first execution for over a year. Murdock, having nothing else to do, stays with me in the hospital for most of the time, reading helicopter technical manuals out loud to me when he isn't munching on hospital donuts. I get the impression it's a conspiracy between him and the nurses to make me go to sleep. Generally, it works.


A week after I had almost died, we leave together and are forced to get a taxi, because my car is still at Kay's house. What Murdock did with the helicopter, I don't want to know. We don't say a word to each other on the road back to Kay's house, partly because Murdock is still knee-deep in technical manuals and partly because any topic we might want to discuss is ultimately too private for a cab driver to overhear. And too strange. We might both end up back at the VA, bunking in Murdock's old room.


I know the place and the time (of our lives)

My fair-weather friend

I feel your sorrow and tears (they are mine)

We share to the end

When an irresistible force meets an immovable object

Human animal madness and blood starts to flow

There's bound to be heartbreak

You make it the hard way.


At Kay's house, my car is still the only one there. Evidently, Kay and Anderson haven't yet returned from the city. Murdock goes ahead and checks out the house for marauding burglars, rats and the washing up while I pay the driver, who speeds off in search of other travellers. I get inside and shut the door as Murdock returns with a report. "Everything as we left it, Face. I figured the Feds might have got a little inquisitive, especially of you. You're not exactly the world's least famous man."


He's referring to the time when every Federal agent had my name and description branded onto their brains. I ignore him, and bring up the subject that has nagged away at me for four full days. "Did you mean it?"


Murdock looks at me inquisitively and wanders into the living room. "Mean what?"


I follow him. He's not going to get away from this. "You said you loved me." I choke out the words.


Murdock looks away, out of the window. "Face..."


"Come on, Murdock, what's the answer? What did you mean?" I'm angry at...something. Not him. Probably myself.


Murdock takes a breath. "Face, I..."


The doorbell rings. Any other time, I'd laugh at such a film cliché actually happening. Now I want to go and kill whoever might be outside. Murdock stares at me for a second, before hurrying off to open the door. I wait, fuming, for a few more moments before following. I see Murdock open the door and can't believe who's standing there.


"Hi guys!" Amy Allen said. "Missed me?"


I surrender

All or nothing

You must spread your wings and fly.



END for now.  See IN THE END (#5 in series)


Time Of Our Lives by Lonely Walker



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