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This page last viewed: 2017-08-15 and has been viewed 1978 times
Warnings: Some violence.
Notes: This was written in response to the ATSB-2's Thanksgiving challenge.
It bumped his leg again. He kicked, as hard as he could, but his foot didn't connect with anything. He waited, but whatever it was-shark, fish, dolphin-had swum away.
"You don't really see the stars in
"At least there are the stars,"
It bumped his leg again and he kicked. This time his foot connected and whatever it was swam away. One last victory. "I love it when a plan comes together," he said aloud, in a hoarse voice. That was a mistake; he got a mouthful of briny water and began coughing.
The fit of coughing left him even more exhausted and the jazz that had briefly coursed through his veins a few minutes ago slowly drained away.
He looked up at the stars again—and the moon. Wait, there was no moon. This was a moving light, pointed down at the water. The spotlight moved back and forth.
"A helicopter, a helicopter," he thought. "Come over here."
"Hey!" he tried to shout, but his voice was too hoarse. They wouldn't have heard him over the noise of the 'copter anyway. The searchlight was still moving, sweeping back and forth over the water, but moving the wrong way.
"A grid pattern. It's a grid pattern,"
"Good bye guys," he thought. "Don't blame yourselves." He lifted his hand to wave, but then, strangely, the helicopter turned, and came back, as if someone had seen him bobbing up and down in the waves. In less than a minute the helicopter was directly above him.
The helicopter came closer.
He blinked a few times. Above him, and Face appeared, dripping wet, but grinning and offering him a drink of water.
He awoke an untold amount of time later, still weak, but at least he was dry. Well, most of him. His hand was wet for some reason. He opened his eyes and saw a now dry Face wiping him down was a cloth.
"Hi, Colonel," Face said cheerfully. "How are you?"
"Drink slowly," Face said, handing
"You're exhausted, sunburned, and dehydrated. Well, that's to be expected. You also have bruised ribs and bruises on your face, nothing too serious," Face said, taking the cup from
"Thanks, kid. Thanks for coming back,"
"Don't thank me, thank Murdock," Face laughed. "He's the one that got the funny feeling that he should turn around. Crazy guy was right."
Face shrugged. "I guess, but by the time B.A. beat the information out of O'Malley, there wasn't time to find another pilot. Haskins is in
Face shrugged again. "He was fine once he got in the pilot seat."
"Well, mostly okay," Face admitted. "I told him he could stay with us through Thanksgiving."
"B.A.'s sleeping and Murdock's on watch," Face said, tucking a blanket around
"You gave him a loaded weapon?"
"Uh, maybe," Face said. "Get some rest. Call if you need anything." He quickly exited the room.
The next time
"Doc said until tonight," B.A. said tensely.
"Fine," B.A. said simply, in a way that let
"What's going on and where's a cigar,"
"Fool saved your life," B.A. mumbled. "Wouldn't be right to make him spend Thanksgiving back at the hospital."
"Fool's driving me crazy!" B.A. practically yelled. "Fool's got a dog that ain't there. He watches cartoons all day except the TV. ain't on. And he keeps messing with my tools."
"Now, B.A., he's just missed you," Hannibal said soothingly. "Where does Face keep the cigars?"
B.A. opened a drawer in the dresser and tossed a pack of cigars and a lighter towards him.
"Face said put some more lotion on." B.A. said, tossing another tube for him to catch. "'Less you need me to do it."
"I got it,"
"Out scamming something we need to round the rest of the losers up," B.A. informed him. "Murdock said he's fine on watch still."
"What's our little blonde got up his sleeve?"
B.A. shrugged. "No telling. Last time he was in charge I ended up in a dress." B.A.'s eyes narrowed as he remembered. "Better not happen this time.
"I believe it was a nun's habit."
"Are you sure that's wise,
"B.A., why don't you go relieve Murdock for a while so he can get some rest," Face said.
B.A. glared at him for a moment, then looked at the bag suspiciously, but he left without saying anything.
"What's going on, Lieutenant Peck?"
"As soon as you are through with your IVs B.A. and I are going to lure the rest of the gang down into a warehouse and trap them for the police. I've gotten the rest of the evidence on them," Face explained, sitting in chair near the bed.
"And what's my part?"
"To sit there and look pretty," Face replied, opening the bag and taking out some clothes and shaving kit. "I dropped by your last apartment and picked up some things for you when you are ready to get up."
"I'm ready now,"
"Nope." Face put up a hand. "Rest and fluids, doctor's orders."
"A very expensive one who had to be paid extra to keep his mouth shut,' Face said firmly. "So don't waste our money. Really, it's only the muscle that we need to take care of—O'Malley and Finn are already cooling their heels in lock up and shouting for their lawyers."
"He's helping by staying here and babysitting you," Face said as he put away
Face laughed at him. "You need to rest so you can cook our feast tomorrow. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without your turkey, stuffing and cranberries."
The mention of food made
"Blackened shark and a good bottle of wine,"
"Right, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and some ice water," Face responded.
A few hours later, they finally removed the IV from
B.A. stomped into the room, wearing camouflage and boots; his face was already covered in grease paint.
"You look very nice tonight,"
B.A. grunted in his direction. "Everything's packed."
"Did you get the box of ammo out of the linen closet?" Face asked.
"I said I got everything," B.A. growled.
Face sighed. "Sergeant, don't you think tonight would go much easier if you stopped biting my head off?"
B.A. and Face stared at each other for a moment. Then B.A. turned away.
"Anything else you need in the van?" he grunted.
"Nope, why don't you go warm it up?" Face suggested. "And send Murdock in. He can stand watch inside."
"Good luck, B.A."
"Your Rutger," Face said, placing the gun on the table. "Cleaned and loaded."
"What's Murdock carrying?"
"A whistle," Face replied. "See if you can calm him down some? There's a car down the street with the keys under the front seat if you need to get away."
"When should we expect you back?"
"Sometime around four tomorrow morning," Face said, picking up his own gun and tucking it into his shoulder holster. "These guys aren't that bright, but they aren't stupid. They'll know when to give up."
Murdock bounced in, wearing his brown leather jacket and a bright blue baseball cap.
"Reporting as ordered, Lieutenant Face," Murdock said, snapping off a quick salute.
"Thanks, uh, Captain," Face said, saluting back. "Maintain watch in the kitchen until our return. Make sure our patient keeps drinking water and applying lotion. And, uh, maintain the turkey in cold water."
Murdock nodded smartly and snapped off another salute, but
"Did you take your meds, Murdock?" Face asked.
"Sir, yes, sir! As ordered, sir!" Murdock responded enthusiastically. "And they were yummy. Especially the blue ones."
Face looked slightly unnerved by the comment but didn't respond. "Lock up," he said and left.
"Thanks for finding me, Murdock,"
"When did he have time to even go out and get the food anyway?"
"I could have done that," Murdock said disappointedly, reaching around
"You sure?" Murdock asked quietly, too quietly for Murdock.
"Yeah, I'm sure,"
"Face said I did a good job flying for him and finding you," Murdock said tentatively.
Murdock grinned in response. "Sure," he said excitedly, bouncing again. "And whatever else you want. Better go make another round." He hurried off again.
"Um, Face said that you didn't need them today," Murdock replied guiltily, and
"What's Face's rank?"
"He's a first lieutenant," Murdock answered.
"And what's mine?"
"You are a colonel, sir," Murdock answered. "But see, the thing is, that Face said you were on medical leave."
"Well, that would make you in charge, Captain,"
"Yeah, but see, the thing is, if I let you have the cigars, Face'll know, and then he won't sneak things into the hospital for me," Murdock said nervously.
"Alright, Murdock, I'm glad to see you can still follow orders,"
Murdock looked surprised at the question. "I don't think Face wants me to touch them." He held up a whistle on a long chain.
"If you are going to be part of the team again, you need to be able to handle a weapon,"
They found a pistol under the extra bed sheets and the cleaning equipment in a box on the floor. "Clean it and reassemble it,"
The turkey was still partially frozen and
He had to sit down and rest, though, after putting the pie shells in the oven. Murdock was still oiling the gun.
"You are supposed to be resting," Murdock said guiltily.
"I find pie-making restful, Murdock,"
"What kind of exercise do you do at the V.A.?"
"Not much. I do some weights sometimes," Murdock said, shrugging. "Did you mean it about….about me being part of the team again and not just flying for you?"
Murdock half laughed. "I think he was a little desperate. You'd already been in the water six hours before he sprung me."
"Tell me what to do,
"Wash your hands and check the pie shells. I'll finish the pistol,"
By the time that came and went, the pies had been cooked, the cranberries had been sauced, the bread was rising, and the turkey was cooking in the oven.
"And it's past the time,"
"Someone's coming up the drive," Murdock said, grabbing the pistol out of the closet. The door knob turned and Face stumbled in, one eye already swelling and his left arm wrapped in a bandage. Face looked warily at the pistol Murdock was holding and then over at
"You had trouble?" Face asked, sinking into one of the chairs at the table.
"Just thought the person standing guard should be armed,"
"Yes," Face said at the same time that B.A. came through the door and said "No."
"Fool got himself shot," B.A. explained, putting down a box of ammo and several guns
"Get the first aid kit, Murdock,"
"It's already been cleaned and bandaged," Face protested. "It's just a nick."
"The first aid kit, Murdock,"
Murdock looked back and forth from
"Any other injuries, Lieutenant Peck?"
"No, sir," Face said dryly.
"Got shot and knocked in the head a few times," the sergeant said before stomping out to unload the rest of the gear.
Face groaned as
"Thought it was just a flesh wound,"
"Maybe a couple of ounces," Face replied. "And I told you that it's already been cleaned." He sighed dramatically, then stopped and sniffed. "Are those your special pecan pies? I'm kind of hungry." He rubbed his stomach.
"They are for dessert,"
Face stuck out his tongue. "You just want to practice your needlework. And I didn't have my dessert for my dinner last night so technically…" He looked at
"If you are a good little boy while I stitch you up, I'll let you have a small piece of pie before you go to sleep,"
"I thought you were going to rest," Face said, taking off his shirt. "You don't follow orders very well."
"Then it's a good thing I'm in command and don't have to take orders from anyone,"
B.A. stomped in and out a few times, dumped supplies down before he finally locked the door, checked the windows, and then went cleaned up. Murdock busied himself cleaning and putting away the gear.
"I remember," Murdock said finally. "I remember how you like things kept. I've got to check on the turkey."
"Okay," Face said and closed his eyes to doze for a few minutes.
"There, all done,"
"I don't have any steak," Face said.
"What? I thought you bought out the whole grocery store,"
"You don't eat steak on Thanksgiving," Face declared. "There's an ice pack somewhere."
"Somewhere?" Murdock asked, disbelievingly.
"The freezer above the refrigerator, in the back, next to the frozen peas," Face said. "And bring me some pie."
Murdock looked at
"He's been a good boy,"
"I should get the whole damn pie," Face grumbled. B.A. emerged from the bathroom in fresh clothes and still damp from his shower.
"We having pie for breakfast?" he asked hopefully.
"Yes, you can have some pie too, then it's off to bed," he declared firmly. "In fact, pie for everyone." In a few minutes, all four men were eating large pieces of one of the pecan pies.
"Who's going to stand watch?" Face asked around a big mouthful.
"Murdock and I can,"
"Murdock's been on all day and night," B.A. said, strangely fierce. "And you need to rest and Face needs to rest 'cause he ain't been to sleep for real since you started swimming in the ocean."
"I'm okay," Face protested. B.A. glared at him and Face rolled his eyes.
"Fine, keep watch. I'm going to bed," Face grabbed his pie and the ice pack and left.
"Go on, Murdock,"
Murdock looked hesitant, but followed Face down the hall.
"What's going on, B.A.?"
B.A. shrugged and picked at his pie.
"What's going on?"
B.A. shook his head. "Nah, fool's okay. Just that…I didn't help much. I wanted to come and look for you, but…."
"Wasn't nothing," B.A. said. "Face was so mad he could have killed him. We wasn't looking for him to snatch you."
"I wasn't looking for him to snatch me either,"
B.A. snorted at the understatement and then concentrated on his pie.
"Murdock's going to be joining the team again,"
"What if the fool gets hurt," B.A. asked. "He doesn't seem to be all there."
"I think he's all there when it matters,"
B.A. nodded. "Fool better leave my tools alone."
"You have my permission to make him leave your tools alone. A few gentle taps from you will keep him in line,"
"Just like old times,
"Your pie is better," B.A. said, licking the fork.
B.A. nodded and
"Happy Thanksgiving, B.A."
"Happy Thanksgiving," B.A. called back. "Sleep tight."
Hannibal shut off the light and crawled into bed, grateful that he was here and not a Thanksgiving feast for fishes, grateful that their pilot was back, in body and spirit if not always present in mind, and grateful for his second in command and sergeant. He had no doubt that if it were up to B.A. alone to find and rescue him, the sergeant would somehow not only be able to get on the helicopter, he would fly it expertly. "And Face, always ready to step up and take charge and always willing to step back and take commands,"
He turned over and snuggled under the covers, and let himself drift off to sleep.
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