GW aka Huffy
B.A. jumped in the driver's side and slammed the door. He turned the key in the ignition and began to gun the motor. Hannibal jumped in to the passenger side as the bullets began to whiz by. He slammed the door and impatiently waited until the other two members of the team jumped in. Face slammed the door and felt a pain in his back. He breathed deeply and forced himself to relax in hopes that it would help to ease the pain. Murdock never noticed his friend and lover tense, even for a moment. He was busy keeping an eye out for the MP's led by Decker who was in hot pursuit. B.A. never noticed as he was watching the road, steering like the devil, to avoid them. Hannibal never noticed. He was leaning out the window firing a few shots back at the pursuing jeeps.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, the Team had managed to shake the military pursuit. B.A. was speeding down a country road in the middle of nowhere. It was deceptively peaceful. He happened to check in the rearview mirror. Murdock was busy talking to himself again. It annoyed B.A. to no end. He scowled and growled, "Face, can't you get that damn fool to shut ¸" The words died dead in his throat. He had caught a glimpse of his "little brother" in the mirror. He did not like what he saw. Face was unconscious and very pale. Curls of his fine golden locks were pasted to his forehead in an apparent sweat. B.A. thought for a terrifying second that Face had stopped breathing. He let out the breath he had been holding when he detected a faint rise of Face's chest.
Next to him, Hannibal was prepping a cigar, "I love it when a plan comes ¸"
"FACE!!!!!!" B.A. yelled. Hannibal felt his blood run cold. B.A.'s voice held a note of fear in it that Hannibal had never heard before. Hannibal turned around and caught a look at his second in command, and felt his heart leap into his throat. B.A.'s call had also brought Murdock out of his phase. He was suddenly back into a very horrible and ugly reality.
Murdock leaned over and tried to wake Face. He gave him a light shove. Face moaned slightly. Murdock felt a knife twisting in his gut. Something was very wrong. "Faceyman, come on. Speak to me buddy. Come on. You can't leave me like this. Come on, my love." Murdock spoke in a voice revealing all of his love and desperation. He tried to fight back the tears that began to sting his eyes.
There was a loud popping sound. A tire had blown. B.A. fought desperately to bring the careening van under control. Unfortunately there was nothing the bigman could do. The van went over an embankment and began to turn end over end on down the hill. It came to rest with a hard thunk on the passenger's side.
For an eternity, it was deathly quiet in the van. It seemed like a tomb. Hannibal Smith began to stir and thought it was. He tried to remember how he had gotten into this mess. The world crashed in on him with a sudden clarity.
"Damn, Hannibal, Murdock, anyone here?" Hannibal breathed a sigh as he heard B.A.'s customary growl. "I'm here, B.A." he answered. B.A. managed to jimmy his door open.
"What about the other two?" B.A. asked, his voice laced with concern. Hannibal stretched and felt a light throb in his ribs. ╬Good, they're bruised but not busted. ╬ Hannibal let his eyes adjust to the light and nearly screamed in horror. The door had bent in effectively blocking off the passenger's side.
"Lieutenant, Captain." He shouted in his most authoritative voice. "I order you to answer."
"Oh, god. You mean I'm not dead?" Hannibal breathed a sigh of relief as he heard Murdock's reply.
"Yes, Murdock. You are still alive. " Hannibal answered as he felt a small bubble of laughter come to his throat. Then he stopped dead. ╬NO! Oh god, please NO!! Face! He hasn't responded.' A vice constricted around his throat. He felt a sudden stab of fear lance through his heart.
"Murdock, what about Face? Can you get to him?"
"I'll try Hannibal," There was silence for what seemed like an eternity to the two men in front who were bordering on a state of panic.
"Hannibal, I've found him. He's alive, but he's not moving. I think its bad."
"Stay calm, Murdock. Just give me a moment. I'll think of something."
B.A. opened his door further. He looked at his van. It was in bad shape. He didn't have time to get misty over it. His little brother was hurt and B.A. knew he had to do something. The A-Team had managed a little luck. The van had come to rest on level ground. There was plenty of room on both sides. If he could only think of a way to get the van tipped right side up, maybe they could get in that way. No such luck. He had no tools. Then a thought came to him. The window. Maybe he could bust out the window and they could get to them that way.
B.A. got into the van. "Hannibal, tell that crazy fool to duck. I'm going to try to bust out the window. If we are lucky, we may be able to get in that way."
"Murdock, did you.."
"I heard him, Hannibal. Just please do it, B.A. I'm scared Hannibal, good and scared. Face isn't responding at all. Hannibal, talk to him, please! Maybe you can reach him. Please!" Murdock's voice was laced with panic and terror.
"LIEUTENANT Peck." Hannibal practically yelled, fighting desperately to keep his quaking voice under control. "I order you to answer me, NOW!" ╬Please kid, say something, anything.' He pleaded in his mind.
"han-ni-bal." An incredibly pain-laced, weak voice cut through the silence. The other three let out a collective sigh of partial relief. "it hurts so bad."
"I know kid. Just hang on. We're going to get you out of here. We had a little accident. B.A. is going to bust out a window and we are going to get you out." At that moment, there was the sound of shattering glass. B.A. looked back in the van and motioned Hannibal to follow him. Hannibal could see the look of concern registering on the big guy's face. "It look's bad Hannibal. His leg is caught. I don't think that we are going to be able to get him out without help." Unfortunately the weight tipped the van back onto his wheels. A loud, heart-wrenching scream filled the air.
Hannibal forgot all about his bruised ribs. He carefully squeezed himself in the window. He could see Murdock had a cut on his head and it appeared his arm might be broken. He was able to reach Face and Murdock. Murdock had cradled Faces head in his lap. He was stroking his hair and face and was murmuring
words of comfort. Murdock's eyes were rimmed with tears and met Hannibal's. Hannibal knew that the sight of his lover in pain was tearing the sensitive Captain in two. Hannibal began to run his hands over Faces torso to check for injuries. He felt something damp around Face's lower back. He pulled his hand away and was horrified to see it was covered in blood. His eyes drifted down his son-of -his-heart's leg and felt nauseous. It was a bad break. The leg had been caught and snapped in two when the van tipped. There was a piece of bone sticking through the blue jeans.
Hannibal reached down and tenderly stroked the beloved face. Face was trying to be brave as he looked up at two of the three people that made up his world. The pain though was intense and he could not help the tears, which began to trickle down his face.
"It's ok Face. It's all right. I need to know Face, were you hit back there?" Hannibal asked in a voice of surprising tenderness that he reserved for Face alone.
The young man nodded.
"Damn it kid. One day you're going to have to stop being tough and tell me when you are hurt. Did it go in or knick you?"
"Just a knick. My leg hurts a lot worse."
"I know, kid. It's bad. We can't move you. B.A. and I are going to have to go for help. Murdock is going to stay here with you." In response to that, Murdock gave Face's hand a quick, strong squeeze.
"That's right Faceyman. I'm here too. Just quit scaring me like that. I'm getting a little old for it, OK?"
"Ok. I don't plan on doing this anytime again, but ok"
"That's good little brother, ╬cuz if you do, I am going to kick your sorry butt. " said B.A. as he peeked a worried glance in the window. His eyes turned to Hannibal for reassurance but saw only concern.
Meanwhile, the intense pain became too much. Face lost the brave fight and passed out into merciful unconsciousness.
The three Team members exchanged worried glances and then looked back to the injured man. Hannibal fought to keep himself under control. He knew that B.A. and Murdock would be looking at him to be the voice of calm and reason. ╬Cmon kid. Hold in there.' The thing that hurt Hannibal worst of all was the fact that there was really nothing he could do now. He was powerless and it fed his frustration level to no end.
"Murdock, prop him up a little. I've got to get a look at that back. B.A. see if you can open the glove compartment and find me the First Aid Kit."
"It's not there."
"What!!" Hannibal shouted as he pulled off the leather jacket. He gasped when he saw the amount of blood that was staining Face's back. He ripped off the shirt in anger. He wasn't sure at what, maybe everything.
"I felt sorry for the poor bandages all rolled up tightly in a ball. They looked so tense. I liberated them."
"You crazy fool. I oughta come in there right now and liberate your body from that piece of Swiss cheese you call a head."
"Maybe if you'd checked the tires when we got gas, we wouldn't be in this mess!"
"SHUT UP, NOW!! Murdock, B.A. this is not helping anything." Hannibal hissed. He ran his fingers over the bloody back of his lieutenant and breathed a sigh of relief. "It's really just a knick." Hannibal ripped off his shirt and wadded it up. He pressed it against the wound as gently as possible. It still caused Face to groan softly.
"Lay him back down, gently now. Make sure the shirt stays in place." He wished the kid didn't bleed so damn much. He couldn't help worrying. Whenever Face did something he certainly did it right. He ran his fingers tenderly through the golden mop of hair. He honestly did not know what he would do without this one. This one needed him more than any of the others. Face was so like a little boy deep down underneath everything. Hannibal always suspected that Face's most successful con job was on himself. He took a deep breath and let his glance fall back down on the leg. It was as bad as he had ever seen in all his years of combat. He did not know what to do. He was afraid if he moved the leg, he would damage something further. Damn he wished Maggie were here. She would know what to do. She always did. His instinct told him though to wake him up and keep him awake until they got help.
"Wake up, Face. C'mon that's a good boy. Open those little eyes for me. You can do it." Hannibal was fighting to keep his voice under control. It felt like a vice was squeezing around his throat.
Murdock looked up at Hannibal. Their eyes met in mutual fear. They were in deep this time. Face was not responding to Hannibal's attentions. Murdock chimed in with his own endearments, tinged with a new, desperate urgency.
"C'mon Faceyman. Its time to rise and shine. Wake up, Faceyman. Please, love, wake up for me." The figure cradled in his lap remained still. Murdock was concerned now that maybe his love had hit his head when the van flipped. He felt a bubble of rage build up directed at BA and himself. ╬Just a quick check of the tires. That was all that was needed. Maybe he wouldn't be laying here in my arms if our so-called driver had checked them again.' Murdock looked up at BA, who was hovering by the window, with an angry glare. It was met by an equally angry, bordering on murderous one from BA. ╬You stupid fool. Hannibal would be able to do something for him if you hadn't decided to "liberate" the kit. Of all the stupid things, that is a real prize. You better pray he makes it sucka, or you won't.' BA thought.
Hannibal looked up and caught the silent exchange between the two. "KNOCK IT OFF!!! This glaring, blaming ain't helping anything. We're supposed to be a team, remember? I already have my hands full worrying about Face. I don't need to worry about whether you two are going to decide to knock each other off.
Frankly, your bickering is getting a little old, and I can't deal with it tonight. Just give it a rest. IS THAT CLEAR?"
Murdock and B.A. were startled. In all their years of being with the Colonel, they rarely heard him raise his voice at them. Murdock looked closely and studied Hannibal's face. It was lined with worry and concern that seldom appeared to be there. Hannibal did not even notice, his head was bent over his most beloved, befuddling charge. He was fighting hard to keep the tears under control that were stinging his eyes but was losing. This unnerved Murdock terribly, as Hannibal rarely if ever cried. He shuddered to remember the first time he had seen Hannibal cry.
The place stunk. There was no getting around it. It just plain stunk. Murdock stretched and felt the stiffness ease some. He was still alive at least, that was worth something, though how much was open for debate. His eyes adjusted to the darkness and saw Hannibal and BA each sitting in a corner lost in there own thoughts. He wondered if they were as dark as his own were. It had been two long days since they had been captured. They had been separated almost immediately for interrogation. Surprisingly, three of them had been reunited by nightfall. The VC seemed to have deemed, from as near as Murdock could make out, that the pilot was crazy and they would get no useful information out of him. He grinned slightly over the fact that insanity had its benefits. They certainly had tried though, and he had the aching muscles and sore jaw to prove it.
He scanned over B.A. who did not seem any the worse for wear. Murdock was not that surprised, as Charlie seemed to be scared of the big man. Perhaps being big, mean, and built like a mountain had some advantages. Than again, he surmised, they might have known that making BA sit there and watch others getting hurt would be far more painful. The Sergeant looked like he was wearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. Murdock could not get a read on Hannibal. He had not expected or wanted to. He was pissed off at his CO. Normally, Hannibal was always there for them, like a father, but since getting captured, he was Mr. Military. He had copped a hard-line, regimental, arrogant military attitude. He had snapped at them all to shut-up and not speak unless spoken to. He had snapped at Face to "Suck it up and keep up, to stop whimpering like a baby." When the younger man was having trouble keeping up on the march with his badly twisted ankle. ╬Congratulations, those might have been the last words you ever say to him. You should feel real proud, arrogant bastard.'
Murdock tried not to think about his missing young friend. It made his thoughts spin and reel at a frightening pace. One minute he would see him lying in a heap somewhere, another time strung up and tortured, another time being killed by these pigs. He wondered where Face was and why he was not here. He wanted to yell at Hannibal, to rail at him to get some answers next time a guard came. Then the screams started. There had been other screams ringing through the air at a constant pace, but they had simply blocked them out. These screams could not be blocked out, there was a hauntingly, painfully familiar tone to them. Murdock's head snapped up as he recognized the screamer. He noticed that both Hannibal and B.A.'s had too. Suddenly, Murdock could see that the Mr. Military act that Hannibal had put on was just that, an act, put on for the show of the enemy. Murdock wondered what that ever proved to anyone, but it always seemed to be done. Hannibal was fuming. The ╬Jazz' was flowing unstopped, but it was mixed with empathy for his missing charge. They all knew it had to be bad for Face to scream. He never reacted. Sure he whined sometimes when he wanted a little attention, but if he was really hurt he bore it alone. Hannibal usually had to bully after him in order to find out when the kid was hurt, and even then he would try to downplay it as much as possible.
The screaming continued for what seemed, in the hideous, oppressive dark, like hours. Each scream was getting weaker and weaker. Each scream also was hacking off another piece of the heart of the person listening to it. Then all of the sudden the screaming stopped and silence reigned supreme again. The silence was even more terrifying now. Murdock, Hannibal, and B.A. were all filling in the blanks as to what was happening to make the screaming stop. Murdock knew he was not thinking of a happy ending, and he doubted any of the others were. Then there was a grating sound followed by footsteps and a dragging noise. The footsteps and the noise got closer and closer and stopped. Two VC were outside and opened the cell door. They quickly and unceremoniously threw their burden inside the cell, laughing cruelly as it hit the dirt in a brutal fall. They shut and locked the door and walked off, the air still ringing with their laughter.
Hannibal was up out of his corner in a flash with a speed that Murdock had not seen before. It reminded him of the way a Mother Bear could charge when their cub was in danger; at once terrifying ferocious but with a certain beauty to. Hannibal had dropped to his knees by the limp figure. Then, at that time, a pale shaft of early morning sun came through the barred window to land on the figure. Murdock thought he was going to be sick. The figure had been totally stripped and his backside was covered with painful whip marks and deep bruises from a bamboo pole. Interspersed among these injuries was burn marks and there was blood everywhere. He felt faint as he saw that the ankle was broken, and the skin around the ankles and wrists were rubbed raw.
Murdock shook his head to clear the memory. It was much too painful now. He wondered if he had said something as he noticed Hannibal looking at him. Hannibal's eyes were haunted. Murdock wondered if Hannibal was also lost in the same memory.
Hannibal felt bad that he had snapped at B.A. and Murdock. He knew it was not their fault. They were as worried as he was and were letting off steam in their own style. However, Hannibal was having enough trouble now keeping himself together. He was in a situation out of his control, and he did not like being out of control. He had been in this situation before where all he could do was sit and wait, offering what little comfort he could. He tenderly, absent-mindedly ran his fingers through the golden mop of hair as his mind drifted back to a darker time. A memory Hannibal usually kept safely under lock and key and never let out.
Hannibal pressed his painfully abused back against the stone wall. It was cool and provided some comfort. He almost forgot all about it. He wished there was some balm available for his troubled mind and spirit. They should not be here. It was not supposed to end up this way. The plan was to go in, blow up the munitions dump, and get out. It was not a piece of cake, but not anything that they had not done before. Except this time the VC was ready and caught them in an ambush. It was so quick that Hannibal never even saw it coming until it was too late. He had to stay in charge and not show any sympathy or undo concern for his men's welfare. He could not show any weakness to the enemy that could be used against them. He was still mentally kicking himself over telling Face to "Be quiet and just keep up with them." He had used a much harsher tone than he ever used with his second in command. He had too. He felt like a father to the kid and knew that, as strong as this emotion ran in him, it would be all too easy for the enemy to use as a weapon. He hadn't been able to make any eye contact, or see him after that. He hoped that the kid knew and understood.
"Where is he? What have you bastards done with him?" Hannibal silently shouted in his mind for the millionth time. He was on the verge of panic. He had been separated from his men and strung up. He had been whipped by the interrogator for ages but only gave him his name, rank, and serial number. Finally the other man gave up. He ordered the guards to release the captive and take him back to his cell. Before they left though, he looked Hannibal in the eye and smiled evilly. He stated something about there being other ways to torture a man than through his body and then ordered him removed from his sight. He felt tired and sore but walked with the guards under his own power. He was shoved into a cell and noticed that Murdock was already there. Hannibal felt some relief at knowing the welfare of one of the team. He had tried to make conversation with Murdock, but was only greeted by an angry stare. He felt the anger Murdock was directing at him but felt to weak and tired right now to explain it to him. ╬Fine, if you want to sulk and glare like a baby, then do it. ╬ Hannibal thought as he studied B.A. who had been brought back to the cell a short time before. He had heard B.A. coming before he had seen him. The big guy was ranting and raving., in a good lather. It had taken four guards to attempt to control him and they looked so scared as if ready to piss in their pants. B.A. had made it a point of loudly kicking the door after them and shouting a few choice curses he had picked up in Vietnamese. He reported to Hannibal that he was really none the worse for wear other than being very hungry and a little thirsty after spending the night in a sweatbox.
"Where's Face?" B.A. asked
"I don't know. I haven't seen him. Did you see him at all?"
B.A.'s voice got very soft. "Yeah, I saw him. They put him in a sweatbox next to me. They came and got him early this morning. The guards were virtually dragging the kid between them and laughing. They were commenting on how tasty he looked. I think they were just trying to get a rise out of him but the kid wasn't giving them any satisfaction. You would have been proud of him, Hannibal, real proud."
Murdock gave a short snort and fell back into the silent treatment. Hannibal at this moment didn't feel very proud. He was feeling a sick churning in his stomach. Something was very wrong with this whole picture. It was about the time he was being released from interrogation, he realized, that they had come and taken Face. He had been around long enough to know what things happened in these camps. He hoped that it would not happen to Face. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep but his mind was filled with images of what may be happening to this son of his heart.
He was rudely brought out of his half sleep by the sound of screaming. His blood ran cold as he immediately recognized the source. "Damn you all to hell!" He mentally screamed at the invisible enemy. That would do no good. He thought of Face and mentally pictured himself cradling him in his arms, rocking him. He hoped against hope that somehow there was someway for Face to pick up on this image and know he was not alone. ╬Shh, kid. I'm here. It's going to be ok. Just relax.' He thought. He was filled with such a rage. It was bad enough to know that his men were being tortured and he couldn't do anything about it. To hear it though, that was really difficult. It was also painful, as each scream seemed to shear off another piece of his heart. He couldn't deal with it now, the kid needed him. Hannibal went back to mentally comforting the victim and finally the screams stopped.
Hannibal was by no means comforted by the silence. The silence seemed too quiet, too sudden, too final. He shook out his head hoping to erase the horrific images that now were flooding his mind. They were too real this time. He was finally pulled out of his thoughts by noises. He could sense that it was the guards coming back to the cell with the victim. His mouth went dry and he wondered if he was going to pass out. It took an eternity
before they arrived and tossed in their burden. Face hit the ground brutally and just lay there, so very quiet and still. ╬Hang in there, kid. Just a little longer. Please' He waited until the guards left. It took all his self control not to charge over and strangle them. He then went to Face as fast as he could and dropped to his knees. The kid was a mess. There was not a patch of skin on his backside that was not abused. Worse than this was the fact that the VC had obviously raped him more than once. From the looks of it, they had to tie him down to do it, and even then he had fought. He turned him over as gently as he could. If possible, he was even worse this way. Face's beautiful eyes were swollen shut and his nose was bleeding freely. Hannibal was relieved that at least it was not broken. His lips were dry and cracked. Hannibal gingerly felt his torso and thought at least one, maybe two of the ribs were broken. He was filled with even more of a rage as he noticed that those bastards had dragged him some distance as Face's knees and calves were badly scratched and dirty. The ╬Jazz' was so great that he was trembling as he felt the base of Face's neck for a pulse. He was relieved, there was one, no matter how faint.
The other two were sitting in stunned silence. They didn't want to believe that this badly tortured apparition lying there so still was their good friend. It was all the more difficult in that Face was never still. His battery seemed to be constantly on the go. He would skuttle back and forth as if there were a million and one things to do and very little time to do them. It was a trait that reminded B.A. of the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland. Now though there was nothing moving at all. He watched as Hannibal took and cradled Face into his arms. He was rocking him and whispering something to him, while stroking the matted mop of curls with a tenderness that seemed out of place from Hannibal. There were times in which B.A. was jealous at the obvious bond between the two men. He never had been able to bond with any man like that.
Outside the van, B.A. desperately scanned the area for some signs of life. He realized with a heavy heart that they were precisely and definitely in the middle of nowhere. The only way that he could see out of this mess was to hike back up the hill to the road and follow the road. He hoped to hell that they would not run into Decker and his men first. He knew though that he and Hannibal had better get started soon if they were to have a chance of getting back before nightfall came.
"Hannibal, we better get a move on, man. We don't exactly have all day."
Inside the van, the sound of B.A.'s voice mercifully snapped Hannibal out of his morbid reminiscences. He hated to leave Face like this but did not see any alternatives. The thought of B.A. and Murdock going off together in their current frame of mind was not soothing. Even in the best of times, the two of them would be liable to go at it. It usually fell on Hannibal or Face to break them up. He wished though that at least Face would be awake before he had to leave. He steeled himself for what he was about to do. He had never laid a hand on Face and had vowed that if possible, he never would. Now, though, he was going to have to. He knew the kid would, eventually, see why he had to do it and forgive him. Hannibal just was not sure if he could forgive himself.
He closed his eyes and firmly slapped Face across the cheeks. He heard Murdocks shout of indignation but he could not let that register. He listened harder and finally heard a very faint whimper. It was not much but it was enough. He opened his eyes and looked down at his "babe". "I'm sorry kid, but I had to. You were so out of it, I felt you needed a little kick start."
"Sokay. I know." The figure winced visibly. "For a minute there, I thought I was dreaming. I guess not. Shit!"
"I know it hurts bad. Just try to lie as still as possible. Now listen, I need you to stay awake until I get back. It won't be easy, but its important, Ok?"
"But Hannibal, it hurts so.."
"No buts, Lt. That is an order. Do you understand?" Hannibal hated pulling the old trump card out, however he could not dwell on how bad Face was hurting. If he did, he knew there would definitely be no way that he could tear himself away.
"Yes sir. Anything you say sir." Hannibal looked into his second-in-command's eyes and saw that beneath all the show, the poor kid was scared shitless. He figured that the tough act right now was more for Murdock's benefit than it was for Hannibal's. He reached down and gave his shoulder a firm squeeze.
"Shh, I know. It's going to be ok. I'm going to get you ought of this one, too. I always have, haven't I?" He turned and exited out of the van as fast as he could. He knew he was just about to lose it. Right now, neither of them were up to dealing with that now. He motioned for B.A. to follow him and trudged up the hill. He let the tears fall freely now and whispered a prayer to whoever may be listening to watch over them all.
Inside the van, Murdock was seething. Hannibal had done it again. He had pulled out that old military crap again when Face was hurt and needed him. Murdock thought there were times when Hannibal could be such a hard-assed bastard. Here he was leaving Murdock to pick up the pieces and dry the tears. At times he wanted to just slap Hannibal. Just walk away from it all and leave him to his disasters. Maybe just take Face and run like hell, run until they couldn't run anymore, until there was a place where they, where Face, wouldn't be hurt anymore. Murdock sighed sadly knowing that there was probably no such place in this world like that. "If there was, I couldn't be strong enough myself to be everything that he needs. I guess we're all stuck with each other. But, my love, I swear that we will have that place, one day, if it is in my power to give you that."
"Yo, fool. You better keep a good eye on the package until we get back." Yelled B.A. from the distance.
╬Oh shit. Now, of all times, he has to bring that up. Thank you Mr. Warmth and Sensitivity. Maybe I can be cut a little slack and he did not hear that.' He thought and silently winged assorted curses and invectives at the big guy. It was always much safer to do it silently and from a distance.
"What did he mean by "package"?" asked Face. Murdock looked down at the beautiful features, slightly marred by the pain he was in. He wondered to himself how he could have ever thought of this precious person in his life as a package. Murdock's face must have revealed something because Face got a sad look and turned his head away.
"He was talking about me, wasn't he?" Face's voice was little more than a whisper, with a hint of a sob in it. Murdock looked to the skies and hurled more unspoken curses on B.A. for opening up a can of worms at the worst possible time.
"It was a long time ago, Face. Back before I, we, even knew you. Back in "nam"
"Cheap and disposable, with no real value. Just like always. I don't know why I fooled myself into thinking it was different now. I thought I mattered to someone in this stinking world. Maybe I was wrong. They were all right. I am just a thing. A useless, burdensome thing." Murdock was stunned. This was not the reaction that he had expected. He thought Face would gripe, and whine, and carry-on. Here was something even Murdock hadn't known. He felt so much anger well up that he wanted to strangle something. Actually, deep down, he wanted to somehow go back into a time machine and find all those people who had ever so much as looked at his love the wrong way and end their miserable lives. He was shaken from this train of thought by the sound of sobbing.
"Hey, it wasn't like that, ok? Back then, we saw so many people come and go that it was easier to deal with by thinking of them as "packages" and not people. I went to get you that day fully intending to view you as a nameless, faceless package until I saw you. Believe me, you were a sight. A complete and total mess."
"I was in a swamp. It was muddy and filthy. What did you expect, Fabio?"
"Pleez, don't even bring up that fake greaseball. He couldn't act his way ought of a paper bag. Even if someone coached him all the way."
"You mean you were not moved to tears by his dramatic rendition of a statue come to life. It was so touching to see him take that muffin and say "I can't believe it's not butter." I almost believed him."
"That settles it. I just thought that you might have banged your head, now after that I am convinced. Personally though, I find Barney the Dinosaur a much more convincing actor. He portrays a wide range of emotions."
"Now who banged their head." They both erupted into peels of laughter. Suddenly, though, Murdock got very serious.
"Look at me, Face. Come on look at me. That's better. Now I am going to say something and I am only going to say this once, so you better be reading me, roger? I'm serious now. You are somebody. In fact, to me you are everybody, you are the one thing in this world that keeps me sane. Don't you ever, and I mean EVER, doubt that you are someone special, OK?"
"Now enough of that. Why don't you just lay back and be quiet now."
Face complied and the van fell into silence. Murdock stared out the window and studied the sky. It seemed to be getting darker. He wondered where Hannibal and B.A. were. He had to admit that he liked B.A. even though there were moments, more than he could count, that he would like to throttle him. He was busy in contemplation when he heard Face gasping. He looked down and saw that he was becoming covered in sweat again. It appeared to Murdock that he had also grown paler.
"Am I going to die?"
"What! What kind of stupid question is that? It would serve you right if I gave you a stupid answer. You are not going to die of a knick and a broken leg. Besides you are to ornery to die, I don't think St Peter would have you yet. You'd probably start some kind of revolution over the dress code or something before the week is over.
After all, you are a bit of a non-conformist ." He was trying to make his voice sound light but he was really becoming scared as hell. Something was very wrong here.
Face forced a slight smile on his face. "Me a non-conformist, look who's talking. You're the guy with the slightly less than visible dog."
"Billy is not invisible. Billy just is very selective about who gets to see him. Now just shush up, ok? Besides, you are probably the first lieutenant who ever said "Sir" to a Captain and a Sergeant. That's not exactly within the handbook." Murdock reached back and felt Hannibal's shirt. It was becoming damp. He took off his flight jacket and draped it over Face, who was starting to shiver.
"Thanks. You know Murdock, its not the dying that scares me so much, its knowing that I am going to hell."
"HELL!!! You are most definitely not going to hell. I know we may tease you about it, but you are as far removed as a candidate for hell as I can think of. I don't think the Good Lord will hold your scams against you considering you were trying to help others in the process, ok. Now would you please stop talking crazy like this? After all, you're horning in on my act. In case you've forgotten being crazy is my department. You know, sane Face, crazy Murdock. The perfect team like Abbott and Costello, Timon and Pumba, Kirk and Spock, the Chicago Bulls. Now settle down and keep quiet. Otherwise I'll just have to have BA make me a fail proof gag for you, kapeesh?" Murdock reached down and tousled the mop of hair he loved so well and hoped to hell the guys would get a move on and return soon.