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This page last viewed: 2017-06-23 and has been viewed 1963 times

One Thanksgiving

One Thanksgiving
By  Meridocbrandybuck

 

Rated: PG
Warnings: Some violence.
Notes: This was written in response to the ATSB-2's Thanksgiving challenge.

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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. Hannibal leaned back, trying to float on his back, so he could rest, but the water was too turbulent. He was so tired from treading water. There was no moon tonight, only stars, shinning like jewels against the dark sky.

"You don't really see the stars in Los Angeles," he thought. "Kinda of nice to look at." He had been treading water since the previous night, when he'd been thrown off the boat. Luckily, they hadn't tied his legs-they hadn't thought it necessary. The Pacific Ocean was a huge empty expanse; the likelihood of someone coming close enough to spot and rescue him before exhaustion, dehydration, or sharks overcame him was miniscule.

"At least there are the stars," Hannibal thought.

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. Hannibal closed his eyes again and wished for a cigar. This wasn't how he had planned to spend the last few moments of his life-alone, slowly sinking to the bottom to end up as fish food. He'd always thought he'd go out with a bang.

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," Hannibal thought desperately. They'd move off away and then come back. Surely they'd come back. But maybe not soon enough. He took a deep breath and began to swim. Stroke after stroke, but he didn't seem to be moving any closer. He stopped for a moment to rest, and then with one last of will, kicked as hard and as fast as he could, not bothering to look up or ahead to see how close he was. He swam for as long as he could, but at last he was too weak to continue. And the light was moving off.

"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. Hannibal had to shut his eyes against the blinding light. Then he forced them open again and then opened them again, trying to spot the rope ladder. He grasped it, but was too exhausted to hold on, and fell back into the water.

The helicopter came closer. Hannibal tried to grab the ladder again, but missed. Then someone jumped into the water near him. In just a few moments, he was being pulled on board the 'chopper.

He blinked a few times. Above him, and Face appeared, dripping wet, but grinning and offering him a drink of water. Hannibal extended his hand, but it never reached the cup. Blackness over came him instead; this time with no stars.

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.

"Hey," Hannibal croaked.

"Hi, Colonel," Face said cheerfully. "How are you?"

"Thirsty," Hannibal said. "But glad to be thirsty." Face grinned knowingly. He was probably thinking of all the times he'd awoken tired and hurt, but glad to be alive.

"Drink slowly," Face said, handing Hannibal a cup of water and a straw. As Hannibal moved his hand he noticed the IV in his arm. As he drank, Face listed his injuries.

"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 Hannibal and then checking his IV.

"Thanks, kid. Thanks for coming back," Hannibal said as he closed his eyes for another nap. "I saw the 'chopper move off and thought that was it."

"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."


Hannibal opened his eyes. "Murdock! He hasn't flown since the war. Didn't they take his license away?"

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 Nebraska visiting his mother and remember that Levinson got spooked when Lynch started sniffing around."

Hannibal nodded his understanding. "Well, he didn't crash the helicopter, at least."

Face shrugged again. "He was fine once he got in the pilot seat."

"Really," Hannibal asked. Murdock hadn't seemed that stable the last time he'd checked on him.

"Well, mostly okay," Face admitted. "I told him he could stay with us through Thanksgiving."

Hannibal nodded his agreement. "Where is he now? Where's B.A.?"

"B.A.'s sleeping and Murdock's on watch," Face said, tucking a blanket around Hannibal and dimming the lights.

"You gave him a loaded weapon?" Hannibal asked.

"Uh, maybe," Face said. "Get some rest. Call if you need anything." He quickly exited the room.

Hannibal laughed to himself as he settled into the bed. Murdock—Face had broken Murdock out of the loony bin. And Murdock had not only kept the bird in the air, he'd figured out where Hannibal was. "We'll have to use him on more cases," he mused. Levinson and Hutchins were both good pilots, both good men that had flown the team during the war, but Lynch was getting wise to them. Plus, they weren't always available when the team needed them. And Murdock might enjoy a field trip now and then. "As long as he doesn't mistake anyone for aliens," Hannibal thought. Finally he decided to watch Murdock closely over the next few days and then decide if the benefits of having the best pilot in the world who was always available to them outweighed the cost of dealing with Murdock's volatility and illness.

The next time Hannibal awoke he saw B.A. standing next to the bed, changing the IV bag. "Hey," he said. "Don't think I need that anymore."

"Doc said until tonight," B.A. said tensely.

"K," Hannibal said. "How's things going?"

"Fine," B.A. said simply, in a way that let Hannibal know everything was not fine. He sat up.

"What's going on and where's a cigar," Hannibal said, smoothing the tape that held the IV down.

"Fool saved your life," B.A. mumbled. "Wouldn't be right to make him spend Thanksgiving back at the hospital."

"But?"
Hannibal prompted.

"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. Hannibal easily caught them.

"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," Hannibal said. "Where's Face?"

"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?" Hannibal wondered.

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." Hannibal laughed and concentrated on smoking his cigar.

"Are you sure that's wise, Hannibal?" Face asked, entering the room with a large bag. Hannibal shrugged and leaned back against the headboard.

"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?" Hannibal asked.

"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?" Hannibal asked.

"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," Hannibal said, swinging his legs off the bed.

"Nope." Face put up a hand. "Rest and fluids, doctor's orders."

"
Which doctor?"
Hannibal asked suspiciously.

"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."

Hannibal reluctantly settled back into bed. He had been looking forward to seeing the surprise on the jerks' faces when he appeared in front of them. "So, who's going to watch Murdock?" he asked. "Or is he helping?"

"He's helping by staying here and babysitting you," Face said as he put away Hannibal's belongings and then tucked the package of cigars into his jacket pocket. "Get some rest. Tomorrow's Thanksgiving."

"Already?"
Hannibal asked. He'd lost some time. A day in the ocean, then he must have been sleeping heavily for two days. He shrugged. That's what happened, sometimes, when you got injured or sick. He'd recover, eventually. But right now he'd reached the stage of recovery he hated the most. He didn't need to sleep anymore, but he was still needed rest. So he was stuck here while Face and B.A. had all the fun. He sighed.

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 Hannibal's stomach growl and he looked up at Face inquiringly. Face stuffed the empty bag under the bed. "What would you like?" he asked.

"Blackened shark and a good bottle of wine," Hannibal replied.

"Right, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and some ice water," Face responded.

A few hours later, they finally removed the IV from Hannibal's arm and allowed him to sit at the kitchen table. He munched on another sandwich as he watched the Face run down his checklist.

B.A. stomped into the room, wearing camouflage and boots; his face was already covered in grease paint.

"You look very nice tonight," Hannibal said, smiling.

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?"

Hannibal narrowed his eyes. Face rarely pulled rank, not even during the war. Obviously he had missed something while he'd been napping.

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." Hannibal called as the sergeant left. B.A. waved in response.

Hannibal almost asked what was going on, but he didn't. Face could handle it, and now wasn't the time to ask anyway. They'd probably sort it out themselves anyway.

"Your Rutger," Face said, placing the gun on the table. "Cleaned and loaded."

"
What's Murdock carrying?"
Hannibal asked, picking the gun up and checking the chamber for himself.

"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?" Hannibal asked.

"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. Hannibal wondered how he had managed to hang onto his jacket for so long.

"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 Hannibal could see that he was bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.

"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.

Hannibal finished his sandwich while Murdock bounced around the small house, locking the doors and checking all the windows, then finally perching on a chair at the table.

"Thanks for finding me, Murdock," Hannibal said.

"No problem, Hannibal," Murdock replied and then jumped up to check the doors and windows again. Hannibal stood up slowly and took his dishes to the sink. A thirty pound turkey was thawing in cold water in the left sink. Hannibal sighed. Why did Face always buy too large a turkey? They'd be eating turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, and turkey goulash for a month.

"When did he have time to even go out and get the food anyway?" Hannibal thought as he washed the dishes. He didn't have to open the refrigerator or the cabinet to know both were stuffed with vegetables, cans of cranberry sauce, butter, seasonings, ten pound bags of flour for the bread, gallons of milk and tons more food they couldn't possibly consume at one meal.

"I could have done that," Murdock said disappointedly, reaching around Hannibal to check the window over the sink. "Face said I was supposed to make sure you rested."

Hannibal smiled at him. "I find washing dishes restful, Captain. You are doing a good job."

"You sure?" Murdock asked quietly, too quietly for Murdock.

"Yeah, I'm sure," Hannibal assured him.

"Face said I did a good job flying for him and finding you," Murdock said tentatively.

Hannibal turned and put one hand on Murdock's shoulder. "You did an excellent job," Hannibal said sincerely and then made a sudden decision. "And, if your schedule isn't too busy, maybe you can fly for us again."

Murdock grinned in response. "Sure," he said excitedly, bouncing again. "And whatever else you want. Better go make another round." He hurried off again.

"Murdock?" Hannibal called. The pilot turned. "Where did Face stash my cigars?"

"Um, Face said that you didn't need them today," Murdock replied guiltily, and Hannibal knew that Murdock knew where they were.

"What's Face's rank?" Hannibal asked.

"He's a first lieutenant," Murdock answered.

"And what's mine?" Hannibal asked, wiping the soapy water off his hands.

"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," Hannibal explained patiently.

"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.

Hannibal sighed. He could probably talk Murdock into letting him have the cigars, but Face got funny about things sometimes, especially when he was in command. "And I really don't want Murdock to try to pull rank on Face anyway," Hannibal thought. Cigars weren't worth messing with the command structure of the team.

"Alright, Murdock, I'm glad to see you can still follow orders," Hannibal said, acting as if it were a test that Murdock had passed. "When's the last time you handled a weapon?"

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," Hannibal declared. "Where's the linen closet?"

They found a pistol under the extra bed sheets and the cleaning equipment in a box on the floor. "Clean it and reassemble it," Hannibal ordered, watching Murdock for a few moments before checking on the turkey. The pilot carefully checked the pistol to see if it was loaded, and then slowly disassembled it, placing each piece on a washcloth. He concentrated fully on what he was doing and Hannibal nodded to himself. He'd made the right decision.

The turkey was still partially frozen and Hannibal made some quick calculations in his head. They would have to start cooking it at three a.m. if they wanted to eat at a decent hour, but the turkey might not be thawed enough to cook then. "Face and B.A. will want to sleep for a while when they get in," Hannibal thought. "We might be able to eat around six." Still, there was no harm in starting some things tonight. After checking for all the ingredients, which were there, of course, he started making the pies.

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," Hannibal said, looking over Murdock's work. Too bad they couldn't go out and do some target shooting tonight so he could check Murdock's aim.

"What kind of exercise do you do at the V.A.?" Hannibal asked, leaning back.

"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?"

"Yeah," Hannibal said. "Face trusted you enough to have you fly for him and he left you here to stand guard."

Murdock half laughed. "I think he was a little desperate. You'd already been in the water six hours before he sprung me."

"Doesn't matter," Hannibal answered. "He still chose you." He stood up to check on his pie shells, but Murdock put an oily hand on his shoulder.

"Tell me what to do, Hannibal, and I'll do it. I'm not the best of cooks but I can follow orders," Murdock offered. Hannibal nodded and sat down.

"Wash your hands and check the pie shells. I'll finish the pistol," Hannibal said and the explained how Murdock would know the pie shells were ready.

By the time that four o'clock 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. Hannibal had helped every once in a while, but mostly he sat at the table, alternately dozing and giving Murdock instructions. Murdock had suggested that Hannibal lie down and rest, but Hannibal wanted to wait until Face and B.A. got home.

"And it's past the time," Hannibal said at four-forty-five. "Way past. Go get the pistol back out of the closet and switch off the oven."

"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 Hannibal.

"You had trouble?" Face asked, sinking into one of the chairs at the table.

"Just thought the person standing guard should be armed," Hannibal said. "You okay?"

"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," Hannibal ordered, rising from the chair.

"It's already been cleaned and bandaged," Face protested. "It's just a nick."

"The first aid kit, Murdock," Hannibal said firmly.

Murdock looked back and forth from Hannibal's face to Face's face. At last, he came to a decision and hurried off to the bathroom. "And get my cigars, too," Hannibal called after him.

"Any other injuries, Lieutenant Peck?" Hannibal asked.

"No, sir," Face said dryly. Hannibal glanced over at B.A. for confirmation. B.A. shrugged.

"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 Hannibal inspected the wound.

"Thought it was just a flesh wound," Hannibal asked mildly. "It's rather deep. How much blood did you lose?"

"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," Hannibal said, taking the first aid kit and cigars from Murdock. "I think you might need stitches."

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 Hannibal hopefully.

"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," Hannibal promised as he took out the surgical thread and needles.

"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," Hannibal said as he began to clean the needles. He ignored Face's pointed sigh.

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. Hannibal took his time sewing Face's wound together. The stitches needed to be straight and fine, so the scar would be small. Face, for his part, ignored the fact he was being poked full of holes, and instead gave Murdock directions on exactly how the items were to be cleaned and where they were to be stowed.

"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," Hannibal declared at last, covering the wound loosely with a clean bandage. "I think he needs a steak for his eye."

"I don't have any steak," Face said.

"What? I thought you bought out the whole grocery store," Hannibal said with gentle sarcasm.

"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 Hannibal pointedly.

"He's been a good boy," Hannibal said. "He can have some pie."

"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. Hannibal rolled his eyes.

"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," Hannibal decided. "We need to keep an eye on the turkey anyway."

"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," Hannibal said gently. "You did a good job."

Murdock looked hesitant, but followed Face down the hall.

"What's going on, B.A.?" Hannibal asked, putting the first aid kit away.

B.A. shrugged and picked at his pie.

"What's going on?" Hannibal repeated firmly. "Is Murdock really bugging you that badly?"

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…."

Hannibal nodded his understanding. "Face said you beat the information out of O'Malley. Neither Face nor Murdock can do that as well as you."

"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," Hannibal said, lighting a cigar. "It happens."

B.A. snorted at the understatement and then concentrated on his pie.

"Murdock's going to be joining the team again," Hannibal said after puffing on his cigar a few times.

"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," Hannibal said. "And we need a pilot sometimes." And it would be nice, having the whole team together again, he added silently.

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," Hannibal said. B.A. grinned.

"Just like old times, Hannibal," B.A. said. "Like that Thanksgiving Face stole the turkey and everything from the American embassy."

"Yeah," Hannibal said, laughing at the memory himself. The turkey had been larger than the present one but had still been stripped clean by the time the troops got done with it.

"Your pie is better," B.A. said, licking the fork.

"Thanks," Hannibal said, standing up. "I think I'm going to bed now. Keep an eye on the bird."

B.A. nodded and Hannibal noticed he was eyeing the rest of the pie. Good thing that Murdock had hidden a few before B.A. and Face had gotten home.

"Happy Thanksgiving, B.A." Hannibal said as he walked down the hall.

"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," Hannibal thought. Yeah, he had a lot to be grateful for this year.

He turned over and snuggled under the covers, and let himself drift off to sleep.


End

 


One Thanksgiving by Meridocbrandybuck

 

 


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