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September 1999

Killing Time

By The Jipster

 

Rated:  R

Summary:  The original story first posted in 1999 (finally found it again!) Vietnam based, my take on how Murdock became a trusted member of the team.

Warnings:  Violence, sexual abuse that's not extremely graphic.

Disclaimer:  The usual.

September 1999

 

 

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

 

The musky smell lingered and the quiet calm haunted the atmosphere as the figure sat slumped in the corner, ignoring the damp and dirty conditions he remained still. Numbness was a common feature, tiredness almost a bonus as time slowly began to have no baring.

The darkness ruled in this place, no light dared to invade. No freedom or comfort that most people would take for granted, instead the battle of wills constantly raged and the ties that bound him never relented.

The man simply known as SY097 had no past, he had no recognizable present and if things were to look up he'd have no future. Death was wished for on an hourly basis, the only salvation available in this squalid place.

The sound of the heavy door opening meant only one thing, pain.

"ST097 stand up!"

The man with little energy struggled to comply, his age and features could not be determined amongst the swelling and the bruises that masked his pain. Two armed men took their prisoner and abruptly marched him out of the cell, with no hope or care the man let them take him without struggle.

The man had followed the same routine day after day since he'd arrived, they'd take him to a cleaner place but it was by no means a better place. As the straps were secured around his wrists, the will power the man still held was summoned and the questions would begin again.

"State your name and rank," a voice asked from the darkness stated, his captor's features remained within the shadows and were hardly ever seen.

Silence, no word uttered in reply to the question. The tension in the room grew as the inevitable happened, the cries of the man filled the building as the electrical charge went straight through him.

"I'll ask again," the voice remained calm and on the same level, no anger shown as anger denoted weakness.

The man known as ST097 remained silent, strapped to the chair with no energy to struggle. Stripped down and caked in dirt, blood and bruises. The figure asking the questions could be heard moving slowly, the sound of a stick being hit into his gloved hand only signalling the next phase.

A loud crack and the stick made contact against the bare skin of the captive, the shrill of pain filled the room. A new cut and more blood appeared on the already battered body but the defiance remained, this man was not a talker. Another surge of electricity surged through the weakening body, malnourished and gaunt. Another crack of the stick continuing the man's torment, his cries becoming less as unconsciousness reared its beautiful head.

"We will break you," the voice said before darkness loomed large, managing a slight smile the man gave in swiftly to the darkness.

He was blissfully unawares of the continued beating he was to receive for his defiance, waking up would let him know all too painfully what he had missed.

Pain, throbbing pain invading every part of his body as consciousness slowly returned to the man known only as ST097. His own thoughts redundant, hope taken harshly away. Knowing he was dying brought with it the fear of the unknown, but the piece of mind that the pain would stop.

Abused and beaten, he tried to remember the good times but the pain seemed determined to make sure he didn't. With only a little recollection of who he was or what he was, he willed the darkness to take him but it seemed to enjoy the suffering he felt.

The familiar sound of the door opening and of people entering the room returned, he decided this would be the last time. He decided death was going to get him now and he wasn't going to wait for it, he was going to embrace it in any form.

A light shining directly into his face blinded him instantly and it was quickly moved away. The man was aware that there was something different.

"We've found him, sir," one man spoke.

 

*************

 

The steam rose and the water continued to run, the man no longer known only as ST097 didn't worry that it was now beginning to grow colder. He wanted to stay there for as long as he could, the soft touch of the soap massaging every pain he felt.

Finally he emerged, wrapping himself up in the softness of the towels provided he look at his beaten and gaunt face in the mirror. A shadow of his former self, a man no longer the boy he used to be, stared back.

A knock at the door stopped him staring at his own image; he desperately tried to recognize his own features before he quickly turned around.

"Agent Murdock?"

"Sir," the man now known as Murdock replied quickly and quietly.

"Are you feeling better?"

The expression the man received from Murdock confirmed his own fears.

"We have someone who will talk to you, try and help you through what you experienced," the man offered reassuringly.

The man now known as Murdock looked lost, uncomfortable and scared. The other man stepped forward and gently led him out of the bathroom.

They walked into the main bedroom; clothes laid out on the bed and a table of simple food laid out before him.

An older man sat in the corner, a notebook on his knee observing his new patient. Murdock walked in unsure of his new environment, holding on tight to his own body for comfort. Another man made himself known, he carried a small briefcase and he held out his hand.

"I'm Doctor Richards, I need to examine you Agent Murdock and I will then advise you on you recuperation."

The handshake was made with hesitation on Murdock's part, he simply followed the orders he was given as he removed the soft towels and laid on the bed.

The examination took over an hour, what needed patching up or cleaned was dealt with swiftly. The only conversation had been between the men as Murdock remained within his own thoughts. The doctor encouraged Murdock to put on the clothes provided, having no need for clothes where he had been this proved to be the first part of the long road to recovery and reintegration and he slowly stood up to begin the journey. Every gesture, every expression was noted as the three men held their own court on Murdock's condition.

"Stick to these lighter foods," The doctor advised Murdock, taking away a couple of items. "Eat slowly and chew your food, your severely underweight and your stomach could be in the process of healing. In this case that's not good, you need to reintroduce the process of digestion."

The doctor took out some pills and poured Murdock a glass of water.

"Take these, they will help for now and hopefully aid you to a prompt recovery," the doctor placed the pills in one of Murdock's hand.

Murdock brought the hand up to his mouth and put the pills inside without question, taking the glass he brought it to his lips and painfully swallowed. His hand began to shake as he tried to return the glass, it fell and smash on the floor. Murdock quickly stepped back and brought his hands to his face in fear.

"It's ok, it's just a glass," the doctor assured him as he quickly picked up the pieces.

The man with the notepad stood up and walked over to Murdock, taking hold of his hands he attempted to calm him down. Still shaking Murdock resisted the help and found enough energy to push the man away, sending him tumbling into the food table and most of the things on it flying.

Jumping onto the chest of drawers beside him he curled up and began to hum quietly, the doctor helped the floored man to stand up.

Retrieving what food he could from the part of the table that hadn't made contact with the floor, the doctor offered it to Murdock. Snatching at it, Murdock chewed and took a long time before swallowing. The doctor nodded his head approvingly and patted Murdock affectionately.

"Things will get better, it's going to take time before your feeling yourself again. One broken glass isn't the end of the world."

Murdock didn't acknowledge the man, choosing instead to eat what he'd been given. The two men left him to it; a guard entered the room to observe Murdock just in case.

 

*************

 

A long table seating over twelve men sat discussing the man they had rescued earlier that day, the man known as Agent Murdock. He had been missing for six weeks, taken by some militant group in a revenge attack due to some political cat and mouse game. His mission was a simple one, for someone of his age and experience his work for the CIA was never more than simple post runs or message errands to safe spots. His skills in flying were exceptional and it was no surprise that he also flew for the Thunderbirds, it was with them that his talents were first spotted by the government agency.

He had been an eager new recruit, taking an interest almost immediately into the various forms of work carried out by the CIA. He had the right attitude and showed the enthusiasm required and it was little wonder he was hotly tipped for greater things. But something had gone wrong; somehow he had turned up at a place which only two hours previous to his capture was deemed a safe zone. The prodigy had been taken and they knew he wasn't ready for what they knew he would face.

"Doctor, we seem to have conflicting views here," an older man announced.

Doctor Richards looked briefly at his colleague, the highly respected psychiatrist to his left who only an hour earlier had been pushed into a table full of food by Murdock.

"I respect what my colleague, Dr Wilfredson is saying. However, I do not share his doubts. With time I believe Murdock is strong enough to get over this experience," the doctor argued.

"Humph," Dr Wilfredson sounded in disagreement. "The man is of no further use to us, he's clearly showing the early signs of a complete disassociation with reality."

"Which is why if we catch it now we might be able to help him, my god this is the 1960's not the 1860's. We can help this man, just give it time," Richards argued.

"At what cost? We don't have the funds available, what with all available funds being put into the war effort in Vietnam," another man argued, sitting across from Richards.

"Please, I can help him," Richards pleaded.

"You tell us this man has suffered both physical abuse and mental abuse, he was a prisoner for six whole weeks. Receiving endless electric shocks and countless beatings, not to mention the extreme sexual abuse you have informed us about. This man, in my own opinion, is of no further use to us and is beyond our help."

Richards stared blankly at the old men seated around him, nodding their heads in agreement with the distinguished man. He knew he was seen as some young know it all with fancy ideas but on this occasion old fashion bigotry had over-ruled.

"We have two options, first option at the tax payers expense we have this man committed. Second option is we allow our good doctor to ensure this man is operational again, then we 'donate' him to the war effort. His skills in flying should come in to some use out there, even if only for a short while if you catch my meaning. Better he help how best he can than spend the rest of his days in some hospital at our expense."

Richards looked on opened mouthed at what was being considered, but his experience told him not to speak out.

"All in favor on option one, raise your hands," the man asked.

Richards raised his arm and noted he was the only one to do so.

"Option two it is, can this meeting please be strictly off the record and the contents confidential," he added before standing up to leave. "I'm about to hit the golf course if any of you would care to join me," he announced as if nothing had been decided only moments earlier.

Richards remained seated, watching the old men filing out as he rubbed his eyes. He was going to give Murdock at least a fighting chance, after what expectation Murdock had brought to the CIA he couldn't believe how quickly they had voted to discard him.

 

***********

 

Richards sighed as he watched his patient put the final touches to his preparation; he had gained weight and confidence back in the little time he had been working with him. That saddened him, if only he could have just six more months, week's, to get him even better.

"We better be going," Richards announced, sensing Murdock was stalling.

Murdock nodded his head and moved forward.

"Hey, Doc," Murdock announced.

Richards looked back at him and frowned.

"Thanks," Murdock shrugged; he couldn't put any emotion into his voice. Simmering anger still lurked but Richards held back the urged to comfort him, knowing Murdock wasn't ready.

"You just remember to keep to the guidelines I've stated, with your diet and exercise," Richards smiled.

Murdock nodded his head, still unsure where he was going. Assuming it would be to reintegrate into the CIA missions, he was about to enter a whole new nightmare.

The office was well lit and Murdock stood nervously, waiting for instruction. Richards stood by him, also showing some nerves as they waited for the top man to arrive.

"Agent Murdock," Richards hurriedly turned to Murdock. "I can't stay for this, I can't show my approval. Just remember what I'm about to tell you now. I tried everything I could to stop this happening, I failed you and you'll never know how sorry I am."

Murdock stared into Richards's eyes, so full of sorrow and regret.

"Just remember that the world is not what it seems at the moment, bad things are happening and your finding yourself in the thick of it. Just take care and don't take anything out on yourself, this isn't about you its about the system, remember that and always fight for what you believe in, never fight yourself."

Murdock stared at Richards in an unsure manner; he was speaking in riddles and had promptly left the room. Alone, Murdock waited until the top man appeared.

The old man handed Murdock a uniform and some papers; an army general stood besides him.

"For your recent bravery and actions beyond the call of duty, you have been recommended and accepted to enter the flying division of the US Army."

Murdock looked down at the army uniform and tried to take in the words he was hearing.

"You are to be given the rank of Captain, effective immediately and you have been requested to join the war effort. Your first tour of duty will commence in one weeks time, at the supplies camp in Vietnam."

Murdock watched as the general stepped forward and pinned his new rank onto the shirt he wore.

"Welcome to the army, Captain HM Murdock," he saluted and Murdock, after some convincing did likewise.

"You are excused, gather your possessions together to leave within the hour," the general ordered and watched Murdock leave the room. "I think he will do, he'll fly simple shuttle runs between bases with supplies. Nothing that will put any good men at risk, if he's lucky no one will use him for target practice."

The old man smiled, glad to have the potential mad man off his hands.

 

***********

 

The heavy rain fell onto the ground turning the soil into an unsightly mess; the jungle air drifted across the base as the sound of a returning Huey became clearer. Using his hand to shelter his eyes from the rain, Captain Murdock looked up and watched it land. Soaked to the skin he moved back to the main building, a temporary shelter from the elements.

Moments later two men walked in to see Murdock sorting out various papers, he seemed to ignore them as they entered.

"Hey, upstart. Go refuel my bird."

Murdock continued to ignore the man, an aircraft commander who far outranked him.

"Hey, kid," the AC raised his voice and begrudgingly Murdock looked over. "What did I tell you when you first arrived here?"

Murdock shrugged as he remembered.

"Welcome to hell?" Murdock offered, his stance calm and uncaring.

"After that!" The AC stated, obviously attempting to show his authority.

"Something about respect, I think," Murdock frowned as if trying to remember the exact words.

The AC rushed over and grabbed Murdock's shirt; Murdock's face remained stony cold.

"Well you don't seem to have taken that on board! I don't care what kind of baggage you carry with you, whilst you in my command you do as I say and you show me the respect my position demands!"

Murdock looked down as the AC let go of his shirt, shoving him backwards a little. Murdock glared back at him but remained silent as he brushed past.

The AC watched him leave, he didn't like his new recruit since the first time he met him, but he'd hope two weeks in hell would have sorted him out.

"That kid is gonna get himself killed," The other man remarked shaking his head.

"Funny, I kinda get the impression from HQ that that's the only reason here's here," the AC admitted.

"What's his problem?"

"Who knows, all I know is he's our problem until further notice," The AC frowned as he saw Murdock pulling up an empty ammunitions box to sit down and pulled out a cigarette.

The rain continued to fall heavily and Murdock didn't even seem to notice as he quietly puffed on his cigarette, he knew they were watching him and the anger within him rose. All he wanted was some peace and quiet, to work out what was so messed up in his head, but he never got a minutes peace in this hell hole. He threw the butt of the cigarette into a newly formed puddle and watched it fizzle out, realizing how jealous he was of that small action.

Reluctantly he grabbed the fuel line and proceeded to do as ordered, he hated being here, in Nam. A war he didn't believe in and had no concerns over, a war he'd been brought to for only one reason. He'd quickly worked it out once he arrived, the way the people stared at him as if they knew something he didn't. He was here to be swept under the carpet, to be out of someone's in-box and become another statistic in this escalating war. He knew he was here to die, but he couldn't help thinking they were going to make him suffer to achieve it, but he was going to achieve it.

 

***********

 

In the nearest town to the base, there was a bar that was often frequented by soldiers, who had been given some rare time off between the horrors they endured. For the past two weeks it had become the only sanctuary for Murdock, where he could drown his nightmares and forget what was happening.

He lifted his head and indicated the same again as the barman poured away, his eyes narrowing as he realized his best customer was about to lose himself again.

"Carn on," Murdock thanked the man as the drink was passed to him, he didn't know why he had started to speak and understand the Vietnamese language but he'd always been a quick study.

His many nights spent amongst the citizens of the town had begun to show as he started recognizing some more faces coming into the bar. A group of soldiers, just returned from the depths of the jungle, walked in. They had already heard of Murdock, the kid with attitude who had only arrived a couple of weeks earlier.

"Hey, I hear you understand these freaks, order our beers in!" one yelled over.

"I would but there's no word to describe you, assholes don't translate too well," Murdock responded loudly.

A chair was suddenly pushed aside and the place went quiet, the bar man stepped back and wondered what the young man had said to get the soldier so angry. The soldier approached with menace in his eyes, he took

Murdock's beer and proceeded to smash it against the bar. Murdock frowned; more in annoyance of losing his beer than the actual threat it poised.

"Why?" Murdock asked, showing his disbelief.

"Opps," the soldier smiled, his face soon returning to show anger.

The soldier suddenly reached out and shoved Murdock back off his stool, losing his balance Murdock fell with a crash. The laughter from the soldiers friends filled the bar as Murdock quickly got to his feet, his eyes glared at the man.

"Opps, again," the soldier teased and smiled.

Murdock lunged forward and grappled with the soldier, it soon became obvious he was losing the battle as the friends all gathered and helped to contain Murdock. A couple of blows to the stomach sent him gasping for air, he felt his head being lifted up and then a striking blow to his face sent him back to the floor.

"You better learn to shut that mouth up of yours quick, kid."

Murdock remained laying on the floor, rolling slightly as the pain took hold. He closed his eyes and could hear the soldier and his friends continue to enjoy their evening. He was on his own and no one seemed to understand him, he gingerly stood up and found the bar owner helping him the rest of the way. A new drink waited for him and the offer of a towel to wipe the blood from his face was there. Murdock took the towel and held it to his cheek, removing it only to check how much blood was lost.

He took the drink and silently approached the group of soldiers; they didn't notice him as he stood behind the one who had instigated the fight. Murdock cleared his throat and they all stared back at him.

"Just wanted you to have a drink on me, muchacho," Murdock announced and swiftly pour the contents of the glass all over the man.

He quickly turned and raced out of the bar, he heard the noise of the men as they gave chase but he knew the town better than any of them. He hid behind a small building and watched them as they angrily exchanged words, his own arrogance was confident he would not be found.

 

***********

 

As he watched the last of the group head back to the bar he sat against the wall he found himself by and looked up to the stars. Quietly laughing to himself as he replayed the scene, but the laughter soon turned to tears as he tried to control his own fears. Shaking, he lit another cigarette, wondering for a moment when he had taken the habit up. He wiped his eyes as calm was restored; he gingerly felt the new cut and bruises on his face.

Looking down he found he had the peace at last, he savored the feeling as he continued to smoke. A shadow caught his attention, thinking he'd been found by one of the soldiers friends he stood up, ready to fight. Throwing his cigarette away he waited, relaxing immediately as a Vietnamese boy approached.

"You made me throw a perfectly good cigarette away!" Murdock huffed as he reseated himself.

"I have better soldier, much better," the boy announced and cautiously approached.

Murdock retrieved his cigarette and glanced over as he re-lit it.

"It will make everything better, sir," the boy continued and showed Murdock a bag. Murdock knew what the kid was suggesting; he snatched the bag and stood up as the kid protested.

"Oh go and play!" Murdock shouted as the kid reacted angrily to him taking the drugs.

"I'll remember you mister!" the boy screamed with venom as Murdock prepared to escape to oblivion.

"It's just too easy," he smiled as he felt the first effects of the drug.

He stood up, smiling as things started to appear 'differently'. He made his way back to base, or his own interpretation of base in his continuing drug induced state.

 

***********

 

The sensation of being soaked, made Murdock's eyes snap open as he tried to get his barings. A small old Vietnamese woman stood staring at him, holding a now empty bucket.

Murdock shook his head as the water dripped down him, the sun caused him to narrow his eyes. Reminders of the previous evening came back thick and fast as the pain of a bruised eye and the effects of the drug took hold.

He tried to get to his feet but his feet were not responding yet, instead he flapped helplessly causing the young children now surrounding him, to laugh. His own anger at his state caused him to throw the sloppy mud at them, their parents brought them closer to them in fear.

Murdock finally managed to stand up and he slowly walked away, checking his watch he saw he was over an hour late for duty. Shaking his head he walked the short distance back to base.

 

***********

 

The small communications box quickly fed out a long piece of paper, the words quickly snapped off by an eager soldier. He read them and promptly moved away, walking out of the tent.

"Colonel Smith!" the eager soldier cried on seeing Smith walking across the base.

Colonel Smith changed direction on hearing the cry and met up with the soldier.

"Go ahead," Smith ordered.

"This has just come in, Peck has been found, sir."

Smith grabbed the paper strip and read the confirmation, he nodded his head in thanks to the soldier and headed off to the main building. He walked briskly to the back of the building and knocked on the door, on hearing the sound to enter he did so.

"Colonel Morrison," Smith acknowledged.

"Colonel Smith, What is it?"

"Peck's turned up," Smith announced.

"Really? Where?"

"The base at Da Nang, I'm planning to go over there."

Colonel Morrison looked at Smith and knew he wasn't going be able to stop him, he looked through his papers and frowned.

"I guess you're here because you know there's no birds available at the moment," Morrison smiled.

"I know there are no pilot's available, but there is a bird ready to go," Smith corrected him.

"What are you proposing?" Morrison asked intrigued.

"There must be someone on base available to fly."

"No pilot's being available means exactly that, Smith."

"What about that kid, the one who arrived a couple of weeks back?"

"Murdock?"

Smith nodded his head.

"No way, I can't authorize that. He has no time in the air out here and his superior has stated more than once he won't get any," Morrison stated.

"I'm only talking about flying to Da Nang, that's less than twenty minutes from here. I need to make sure Peck is alright, he's part of my unit whose been missing for over a week."

"Talk to Foster, he's in charge of Murdock. I can't promise anything," Morrison sighed.

Smith turned around and promptly left the office, feeling time had been wasted already.

 

***********

 

The raised voices coming from the tent could be heard all around the base, inside Murdock simply stood as if waiting for a bus whilst his commander ranted and raved.

"You're a complete waste of space, you can't even managed the simple task of arriving on time for duty!" he screamed. "And when you do turn up you're by no means fit for duty, didn't I state you were to stay on base last night!"

Murdock looked everywhere but at his commander as he continued to holler at him.

"I just don't know what to do with you, Murdock. If your looking to be sent home then your out of luck cos that's the last place your going, why don't you just accept that? I have ways of dealing with scraps like you and you're very close to finding out how!"

The commander reached out and held Murdock's face, checking his cut and bruised face from the night before. He shook his head and let go, turning his back on him.

"Just get out of my sight," he ordered and heard Murdock leaving the tent.

Murdock walked away from the tent, kicking the ground as he walked. His own anger continuing to grow at his situation. He looked at the lone helicopter; he wasn't even able to do the one thing that still made sense to him. Finding an empty container Murdock kicked out in frustration, watching it smack into the shins of a colonel who had just come into view.

"Fantastic," Murdock muttered and walked away.

"Wait!"

Murdock stopped and took a deep breath, expecting another lecture.

"It's Captain Murdock, right?"

Murdock turned around and narrowed his eyes at the colonel.

"Have we met?" he asked with a touch of arrogance, hoping his stance would delay any lecture.

"No, my name if Smith, Colonel Smith," the colonel offered his hand.

Murdock looked at him suspiciously as he approached. Reluctantly he took the colonel's hand and shook it.

"I understand you can fly that bird," Smith motioned to the helicopter.

"You're mistaken, that's the last thing I can do around here," Murdock responded allowing his anger to mask his voice.

"We'll see," Smith smiled and walked towards the tent.

Murdock watched him walk away, confused by his words. He didn't know why but somehow he sensed that colonel was different. He hadn't risen to his attitude and he didn't try to put him in his place. Frowning, Murdock walked away thinking of ways to get into this new colonel's bad books.

 

***********

 

The commander looked up at the colonel and smirked, shaking his head.

"No way."

"I need to get to Da Nang, and you can't fly me because you're about to do a pick up. There's a chopper available

and you have a pilot, I don't see the problem,"

"Murdock is the problem," The commander admitted.

"I'm only asking for him to fly me to Da Nang not to win us the war," Smith replied.

"I know you have this reputation for picking out the rubbish and making soldiers of them but I really would not recommend this kid, he's trouble."

"Listen, Foster. He can fly and I need a pilot, I wouldn't be stood here still arguing if I wasn't desperate to get to Da Nang, give this kid a chance."

"Fine, fine. Take him but I'm accepting no responsibility for his actions, the guy is crazy."

Smith smiled and turned around, wanting to waste no further time.

 

***********

 

Smith squinted into the sun as he searched for the pilot he'd just acquired; there was no sign of him. He walked around the area unable to see him, growing impatient after all the trouble he had had to get him.

He stopped on hearing the slight sound of someone talking; he approached and stepped closer to where it was coming from. He turned around the corner and saw his pilot talking out loud, with some anger although he couldn't quite pick up the words.

"Captain?" Hannibal announced.

Murdock snapped his head around, angered by the intrusion. He stood up quickly and came face to face with Smith.

"What?"

Smith held his stare with the man, knowing he was treading on very light ground with him.

"Go to the chopper and get her warmed up, we're leaving in five," Smith ordered.

Murdock's anger was replaced by confusion as he let the words sink in. His posture relaxed as he allowed a smirk to come over his face.

"No, there must be some mistake."

"No mistake, Captain now get on over there before I kick your butt over there!" Smith ordered, raising his voice.

Murdock's stature returned to defensive and he brushed past Smith with a scowl, still believing there had been some mistake. Smith followed him; he wasn't going to let him get too far out of his sight.

 

***********

 

Minutes later the chopper was ready to take off, Smith got in besides Murdock and watched the transformation in him. Suddenly he went from being totally angry to being a total professional as he checked the instruments and settings.

"Ready?"

Smith nodded his head, still maintaining the air of authority and for a brief moment Murdock shook his head in disgust.

"Welcome to Vietnam air, please fasten your seatbelts and be ready for the sightseeing tour of hell," Murdock jested as he slowly prepared to lift off.

"Just get us up," Smith ordered knowing this pilot hadn't left the base since he'd arrived in Nam.

Murdock's air of professionalism returned as he lifted the bird, he saw his commander watching him go and decided for once not to mess things up. If this could be the start of him flying more at least it would make his life a little more tolerable.

"HHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!"

Smith turned around sharply to his pilot, his thoughts had been focusing on Peck and he hadn't expected any sudden noise.

"What the?" Smith began.

Murdock turned around to him without answer, only a grin and a manic look in his eye. Smith began to seriously doubt his own insistence on this man flying him, but something clicked. For the first time since he first encountered this man, Captain Murdock, he sensed a purpose. The twinkle in his eye was obvious and it became apparent he was more at ease in flight than on the ground. Something settled within Smith quickly and his fears began to subdue.

"You know where we're heading, right?" Smith checked knowing this was the kid's first flight in Nam.

"Da Nang, sure. Second right after the big tree up there," Murdock said without a hint of jest.

Smith narrowed his eyes as he checked the surrounding area.

"Captain, we're flying over a jungle, from here to Da Nang it's jungle. Tree's are not usually a good pointer," Smith advised him.

"I know where we're going and I know my trees," Murdock insisted enough for Hannibal to drop it in the hope they didn't get lost.

A smile came over Smith's face; there was definitely something he liked about this pilot. He found it a breath of fresh air and pleasant to meet one who didn't try to cloud you with constant jargon or trying to make out they had a more difficult job than they did. He certainly had never come across a pilot who howled on take off, he hoped the kid never lost that spirit in the air that he had obviously lost on the ground.

Smith looked over as enemy fire was sighted in the distance, along their flight path. He looked over to Murdock knowing he hadn't dealt with this before.

"Just stay alert," Smith ordered and Murdock nodded his head as they got closer. "They might be alerted to our presence and try to shoot us down, don't get too close," he added.

Murdock shifted position, he'd never been this close to conflict and an adrenaline rush hit him as he altered their heading slightly to avoid direct conflict. As they got nearer he started to see what appeared to be fast moving bugs below him, he tensed up a little but controlled himself to stay focused.

"There shooting at us, evasive maneuvers," Smith ordered.

Murdock nodded his head and swung the chopper with ease to the left before banking up to the right, the bullets could be heard occasionally hitting the body work but no serious damaged was being done.

"We're too far out of their range, the bullets are dying before they reach us," Murdock informed Smith.

"Good, keep it like that," Smith acknowledged.

He looked over to Murdock who seemed totally unfazed by the encounter, something he'd never seen in a pilot's first trip through Nam before. He'd often seen and had come to expect the new pilots to be a little dazed by their first taste of war.

"Good work," Smith commended Murdock who simply nodded his head.

"Da Nang is approaching, we should be in the bar in ten," Murdock smiled.

Smith laughed at Murdock remark and his thoughts returned to his downed man, Peck.

"So, who we picking up?" Murdock suddenly asked as if sensing Smith's thoughts.

"One of my unit, a young lieutenant by the name of Templeton Peck."

"Sounds like he should be in real estate not in a war," Murdock thought out loud.

Smith nodded his head knowingly.

"He's a good soldier, went missing about a week ago. One of the units managed to rescue him and bring him back."

"What would have happened to him?"

"Who knows, usually it's not good."

Murdock seemed lost in his own thoughts as he remembered being held captive himself, not being able to escape. He found it hard to imagine that another man could have suffered the same, he couldn't imagine it being worse than what he had experienced.

"What if he don't want to come back with you?"

"What makes you think he won't?"

Murdock looked uneasy at the question.

"Maybe he didn't want to be rescued," Murdock suggested.

"Are you kidding? Who would want to stay a POW?"

"Maybe he wanted to die, to be free of the pain. You should have left him to die."

Smith glanced over at the captain, his stony face suggesting his seriousness.

"We don't leave good men to die, Captain," Smith raised his voice to show his anger at the suggestion.

"What about the ones that ain't so good, huh? They get left behind? They get moved or shifted to be other people's problems. No one goes after the bad ones do they?" Murdock argued showing some of his vented up anger.

Smith looked ahead, not knowing what Murdock was referring to but his anger couldn't let him continue the conversation. They both continued the flight in silence.

The chopper landed with ease and Murdock went through the motions of shutting it down. Smith got out and turned to the pilot.

"Thanks, be here in an hour ready to return," he ordered.

Murdock nodded his head and jumped out of the chopper.

"Hey."

Murdock was walking away and ignored the cry.

"Hey, you the pilot!"

Murdock felt a hand on his shoulder and he stopped and turned around.

"What!" he cried.

"You have to fill in the duty log, you have to its procedure!"

"Stuff procedure I need a beer," Murdock stated and continued to walk.

"If you don't I'll have to report you!"

"Well make sure you spell my name right, it's CK not CH at the end!" Murdock yelled as he walked away.

The man watched dumfounded and filled out the report form to hand to his superior.

 

***********

 

Smith entered the room where he'd been directed, sat on the chair inside was Lt. Peck. He saw instantly the bruised face and how weak his supplies officer appeared.

"Hey kid," Smith announced.

"Hannibal!" Peck turned around and smiled.

"How's it going? You know BA doesn't like having to be worried sick," Hannibal smiled.

"Well it might do the bad attitude some good," Peck replied with a smile.

"Don't talk to me about bad attitudes," Smith sat down.

"What's BA done now? He hasn't hit Morrison again has he?"

"Not BA, I've uncovered another bad attitude that might rival BA's if he isn't careful."

"You're kidding? Do you go looking for them or something?"

"He was the only pilot available," Hannibal shrugged. "He's good though," he added.

"Uh-oh, why do I sense you want to take this new BA under your wing?"

"Who says I do, I'm not sure even I can help him."

"Because I know you Hannibal, this jazz everyone talks about I can see that in your eyes right now. You know Thomas comes to the end of his tour in a couple of months and we'll be looking for a new pilot," Peck smiled.

"Well the way this man acts, he won't be here in a couple of weeks, let alone months, the guy needs taming."

"Sounds perfect," Peck jested.

"You seem ok, you sure you're all right?" Smith changed the subject not wanting Peck to hide his feelings.

"I'm Ok, you've always said I'm strong." Peck replied, with a little bit of distance in his voice.

Hannibal stood up and guided Peck to the door.

"Let's get you sorted out so we can return to base and regroup."

Peck stood up, showing the signs of pain and under-nourishment, he accepted Smith's hand of help as they walked out of the room.

Smith and Peck approached the chopper and it was obvious that it was not ready to leave as scheduled.

"Hey, where's my pilot?" Smith asked.

"Haven't seen him, shot off as soon as he landed. I've had to report him for not signing the duty book and for his overall conduct."

Peck looked at Hannibal.

"You weren't joking about the BA bit were you?"

"Face, stay here, I'll go and find him," Hannibal motioned, his anger clearly showing.

"He said he was getting himself a beer," the man offered as Smith walked away.

 

***********

 

Smith scanned the third local bar he knew of and finally found his man; about to get his head knocked off as he confronted another man twice his size. Smith hurried over and approached the confrontation.

"You take back what you said about me before I knock you to the ground!"

"I only take back things when I lie, I was speaking the truth," Murdock replied casually.

The man was bringing his hand back when Smith stepped in.

"Hold it right there!" Smith yelled and the man instantly let go of Murdock and stood to attention, realizing Smith was a colonel.

Murdock resumed his position at the bar, oblivious to the customs of meeting senior officers.

"What seems to be the problem?"

"This soldier was suggesting things about my mother that I took offence to, sir!" the soldier responded.

"Captain?"

The soldier looked around; not realizing the man he was threatening actually out ranked him. He wasn't wearing any identifiable motifs to suggest his rank.

"It was all true," Murdock shrugged.

The soldier growled his contempt, no longer caring that Murdock out ranked him; he just wanted to bring him down a peg or two.

Smith stepped forward; knowing the soldier wasn't going to be able to contain himself much longer. He grabbed Murdock by the collar and marched him out of the bar, Murdock managed to keep hold of his beer in the process. Once outside Smith pushed him against the wall and held him tight.

"You had orders to have the chopper ready to fly over twenty minutes ago, captain. I do not like my orders being ignored!"

Murdock sipped some more beer before Hannibal smashed it out of his hand against the wall. Murdock looked at his hand that had started to bleed from the broken glass that now fell to the ground and Smith backed off, knowing he had acted unprofessionally.

Murdock moved away clutching his hand and headed back to base. Smith followed wanting to apologize but not knowing how Murdock would react.

"I guess you'll be joining the queue to report me," Murdock muttered as Smith caught him up.

"Your action warrants it, but in the circumstances I'll drop it if this incident is never brought up again, understand?"

"Sure," Murdock responded still clutching his hand.

"I'll find another pilot, don't worry," Smith advised him.

Murdock looked at him sadly and quickly let go of his hand.

"I'll be alright, it's just a scratch," he insisted.

"You sure?" Smith checked not convinced.

"Trust me," Murdock said as seriously as he could and Smith didn't miss the meaning.

"OK, just don't let me down," Smith asked.

"I'm sorry about the bar thing, I lost track of time and then that sour face started on me," Murdock began.

"No problem, now get that chopper ready to fly and we'll be away," Smith stated as they approached it, sensing for the first time some true regret in Murdock's voice.

Peck moved over from the tent as they got closer.

"So you've found our pilot I imagine, funny I always thought pilot's slept with their choppers," Peck teased.

Murdock looked at the young, blond haired kid. Knowing it was very likely he had experienced much the same as he had but somehow he appeared unaffected by it all. He could joke and laugh; he looked younger than he was. How could he come to terms with it so well?

"Lt. Peck I'd like you to meet-" Smith paused as he looked at Murdock. "-Howling Mad Murdock, our pilot for today," he finished.

Murdock glanced at him confused by the introduction but shook Peck's hand.

"Call me Face," Peck insisted.

"Face?"

"You'll see," Peck smiled.

Smith moved away and walked over to the tent to get a flight time. Peck moved closer to Murdock.

"That's a good sign," Peck whispered.

"What is?" Murdock asked.

"He's given you a nick name, Hannibal only gives people he likes nick names. We all call him Hannibal for that reason, to show our thanks to him amongst other things."

Murdock looked at the admiration in Peck's eyes towards Smith, he didn't know what to think, he didn't want to like anything about this place but it was beginning to get harder.

"I didn't ask him to like me," Murdock stated and walked to the chopper, sensing Peck's surprise.

"Hannibal doesn't have to ask!" Peck snapped back after him in annoyance.

Hannibal came back and saw his lieutenant almost fuming.

"Hey, what's going on?"

"Nothing," Peck replied.

"Face," Hannibal insisted grabbing Peck's arm as he tried to move away.

"I just don't rate your chances in breaking him in, I don't think he'll fit in," Face replied truthfully.

"You've made up your mind, just like that after a couple of minutes with him?"

"Look, Hannibal I know what you're like but I just don't think the rest of the team will like him, he's messed up."

"I seem to remember you carrying a grudge when I first found you, or would you have preferred me to look the other way? You didn't exactly have a glowing reference, weren't you on your way to being court marshalled?" Hannibal asked, already knowing the answer. An edge to his voice made Peck stop and think.

"Point taken but I think he's going to be tough nut to crack," Face shrugged.

"Let me worry about that, you just worry about getting fit again. I think our taxi awaits," Hannibal motioned as he saw the chopper come to life as the rotors began to turn.

Murdock had sensed Peck's distrust of him as soon as he had got into the helicopter; he simply looked away and concentrated on his duties as he flew the chopper above the skyline. He figured he wouldn't be getting much more flying time after the reports came flooding in about his behavior. Inwardly he found himself sighing, he didn't mean to mess things up for himself but it appeared he was destined to.

He could hear Smith and Peck talking in the back of the helicopter, there was a great respect for each other there. He focused on Peck, finding it hard to believe he had just hours earlier been held against his will. He seemed as if he'd just come back from a holiday camp and yet Peck got treated like royalty compared to how he was treated.

The anger within him reared its head again, anger at his situation and anger at what happened to him. The sound of gunfire passing closely by brought his attention back to the flight and he realized they were in the midst of another gunfight.

"They must have been waiting for us, they must have guessed we'd be back, that or they just got lucky," Smith yelled forward. "Take evasive action," he added.

"Too late, the bullets are coming from both sides. Too late to change course," Murdock yelled back.

"Just do it!" Smith screamed back as bullets continued to shower them knowing the pilot was not experienced in these situations.

"No!" Murdock yelled shaking his head, he instead lowered the helicopter and moved swiftly from side to side.

"Any lower Captain and we'll be nesting with the birds, captain!" Smith yelled clearly agitated.

"Trust me!"

Smith looked forward and saw how calm Murdock actually was as his body followed the movement of the chopper. He was now just hovering above the treetops but the firing had stopped. The angle was too tight to be fired at and the chopper was too well hidden amongst the trees, Smith sat back with a huge grin. Face sat next to him with panic filled eyes at the passing branches.

"Just one branch sticking out too far, Hannibal!" Peck hissed.

"Trust him," Hannibal almost ordered.

Murdock continued to expertly guide them through the trees before slowly rising above them and resuming the flight at a normal level. He found himself feeling good for the first time in a long while, he had been of use. His anger returned as he remembered the reason he was here, being of use was not his objective.

Moments later he landed at the base, once he got out of the chopper he was met by Smith who held out his hand.

"Good work, Captain," Smith smiled as Murdock accepted his hand.

He glared at the colonel and looked away once they had shaken hands, he walked to the tent to fill out the duty log. Once he had signed it Donald Duck he retreated to prepare the chopper for the next flight, one he knew he'd have no part in.

He was surprised to find Colonel Smith was still there, sitting down on some boxes and waiting it seemed for him. He notice Peck had already gone someplace else, he continued to work as if he hadn't spotted him.

"So what is your story?" Smith asked as he prepared a cigarette.

Murdock ignored him as he washed the windshield. He closed his mind not wanting to ever reveal what lay within.

"I want to help you," Smith persisted.

Murdock simply smirked at his notion; it was a joke only he could laugh at. Smith noted the laugh with concern, wondering what this man hid and why he seemed so angry.

"I'm not here to be helped," Murdock finally announced as he threw the dirty bucket of water across the path leading to the tent.

It didn't escape Smith's attention what Murdock had done, he found himself smiling. He was beginning to like this man's style in dealing with his anger, although he knew this was only the very tip of the iceberg.

"Then why are you here?"

"That's not for me to tell," Murdock responded immediately, his growing anger evident. "Why don't you ask the suits? If they have trouble remembering tell them to look it up in their files under N," he sneered with contempt.

"N?"

"No-hope," Murdock threw the empty bucket at the wall of the tent in a rage and quickly stormed off.

Smith watched him go but remained seated, not knowing what to do or how to handle the extremely fragile man he'd seen before him.

Murdock continued to walk, holding back his emotions until he reached a place where no one could see or hear him, right at the back of the base. He found himself by a brick wall which he began to thump without care and the tears finally released themselves as he let the pain of his existence come out. He slumped against the wall and reached into the side pocket of his trousers, allowing the tears to continue; shaking he rolled himself a cigarette. Blood poured down his recently cut hand and new grazes were forming from hitting the wall; he added the drug substance he had stolen the previous night for comfort.

He took a long drag and felt the calming influence immediately, the tears dried up and he was once again safe. No longer feeling the pain within him or the pain his bloodstained hands offered him, no longer remembering anything about anything.

 

***********

 

Smith stood in Morrison's office and waited for an answer.

"I want to know the truth."

Colonel Morrison looked up and sighed.

"I can't tell you anything about him, there's nothing to tell!"

"Really? So he was born bitter?" Smith mocked.

"He signed up like any other, he could fly a bit but he's only here to fill in the gaps, an extra pair of hands," Morrison hit back intending to reveal no more.

"I want him to join my team, I want him to take over from Thomas when his tour finishes," Hannibal announced.

Morrison shook his head, frowning as he saw the conviction in Smith's eyes.

"Baker is already lined up to resume Thomas's position. He's the best pilot in Nam, I couldn't get anyone better.

There is no one better!" Morrison insisted.

"There is," Smith smiled.

"You're telling me this Murdock guy, with no conflict experience is a better pilot than one who has already clocked up over fifty hours of Nam flying time?"

"My team doesn't want a pilot who pussy foots around and gets the flying time in the air, my team needs the one who thinks on his feet and doesn't fly safety first. Ask yourself how this whiz kid has had so much time in the air? He doesn't have a scratch on him, I don't think he'd be much use to us in the air if we're trapped on the ground," Hannibal responded.

"And after one flight with this Murdock guy, you've seen what exactly?"

"I've seen the new A-Team pilot."

Morrison shook his head, he stood up and tried to think of a way to try and convince Smith he was wrong.

"I can not authorize this, I can not be seen to authorize this," Morrison admitted.

"Why? Can't this man be promoted, or encouraged?" Hannibal probed.

"This man is not army trained, your team is the best the US army have. We can't afford to lose you guys because you have some kid at the controls when you need the experience."

"I can train him, I have two months before Thomas leaves and he can work besides him during this time," Smith insisted.

"No, I'm sorry." Morrison repeated shaking his head trying to dismiss Smith.

"He told me he wasn't here to be helped, I didn't believe him. I thought he was just being paranoid - I was wrong to doubt him," Smith stated calmly.

"Smith...John, leave this misfit for someone else to take care of," Morrison insisted.

"Too late, I've seen the new A-Team pilot today and he wasn't wasting his time counting the clouds from his sky high seat."

"You do what you think you have to do but the minute you start risking the A-Team I'll pull you off so fast you'll be taking orders from Murdock, do I make myself clear?"

Smith nodded his head with a knowing glint in his eyes; he promptly turned and walked out of the office. Morrison put the empty file belonging to HM Murdock back in the cabinet; he longed to know more about the man Smith was intending to train up. All the reports so far didn't bode well, only the thought of how Smith had turned other misfits like Baracus and Peck into soldiers eased his concerns.

 

***********

 

The assembled group of men shared one last joke before Hannibal motioned for silence; he looked proudly at his team.

"Firstly, it's great to welcome Face back into the fold. He's given us another five days R and R as he recovers from his injuries," Hannibal announced to cheers from his men. "I also have an announcement to make, I have found us a new pilot. He will need working on; his training is limited but he's good, a natural. Thomas, it will be your job to show him the ropes but everyone's else job to get him trained up in simple combat techniques."

Peck's face dropped as he realized who the person was that Hannibal was talking about; he wasn't looking forward to having anything to do with him.

"I thought Baker was Army trained?" A voice asked from the back.

"Baker is not our new man, a guy by the name of Murdock, Howling Mad Murdock will be our new pilot."

"Howling Mad? You've gotta be kidding, man," BA protested lightly.

"Oh it gets better BA," Face remarked with a frown.

"Hey, we're not talking of that Murdock kid who cleans the choppers are we?" Thomas spoke up. "He's worse than BA for attitude," he added.

"Hey, don't be talking behind my back!" BA warned.

"I'm not you're sat right there!" Thomas smiled as he pointed to his left where BA sat.

"Hey, quieten down. Yes, that man is our new pilot but something's going on with him that we know nothing about so don't judge him till you see him fly!" Hannibal warned.

"Hannibal, the guy has no respect for authority or for life. He's bad news," Face stated.

"You know, every single one of you are lucky I never shared your narrow minded attitudes when I picked you for my team," Hannibal announced with sadness evident, he left the tent and walked into the nights air.

Face looked around to BA and Thomas as the others all began to chat amongst themselves.

"I just don't like him, he's not going to fit in," Face commented.

"He's a strange one, never talks just glares and from what I can tell he just wants to pick fights all the time," Thomas responded.

"He looked like he just stepped out of a ring, his hand was all cut up from some incident before he flew us back this afternoon. He couldn't even manage to get the chopper ready for when Hannibal ordered it to be, I mean, what if we were trapped in the jungle because that crazy man wanted one more beer?"

"Sounds like Hannibal's on the jazz, again," BA shook his head.

"Well, I'll give him a go. I must admit, he'll be a challenge but if he's as good as Hannibal seems to think he is," Thomas shrugged.

Face remembered the calm manner in which Murdock had flown them to avoid the bullets; it was something he'd never seen before and definitely not in the handbook of flying.

"I guess we should give him a chance," Face shrugged.

 

***********

 

Hannibal continued to walk around the base, there was no sign of Murdock anywhere and the guard on the gate had assured him he hadn't left. Hannibal lit up a cigarette and wandered over to the wall to think, wondering whether he was risking too much by having faith in Murdock. Something troubled him about the man; there was nothing on file about him, making it seem like he'd appeared from no-where. He'd never come across a man who was so vague, and he seemed to prefer people to hate him rather than like him.

A slight groaning noise alerted Hannibal to someone close by; he stepped closer and found his new recruit in a heap on the floor. He rushed over and knelt down, he seemed both in pain and at peace. He noted the blood covering his hands and sat him up, his stature immediately told Hannibal he was on something he shouldn't be. He picked up the stub of the cigarette Murdock had dropped to confirm his fears, checking the pilot's pockets he found the stuff and ripped the bag open and threw the contents over the ground. In his haze Murdock didn't see the action, preferring to simply roll his head.

"You won't be needing that anymore, captain," Hannibal remarked as he checked the pilot's hands.

The wounds he had inflicted on him remained open and the blood still trickled.

"For heaven's sake, Murdock!" Hannibal hissed trying to shake Murdock to his senses realizing the loss of blood could be adding to the pilot's current state. "Why didn't you get checked out before you checked out!"

Hannibal knew he couldn't take him straight to the infirmary in his current drugged filled daze, Morrison would only use it as an excuse for Murdock to never be considered for the A-Team assignment.

He lifted him up and carried him to Peck's tent, knowing Peck was a dab hand at first aid. He dreaded being wrong and intended to remind Murdock when he came out of this how he felt about it.

Peck had only just turned in for his first night in a comfy bed, or the most comfy bed Nam offered, when Hannibal rushed in.

"Face - I know but just take a look at him," Hannibal ordered already sensing protest from his lieutenant.

Face wearily stood up without objection, realizing Hannibal was not in the mood for protest. He saw the state Murdock was in, and knew why. He was now unconscious and looked like he was on his last legs.

"My god, what happened?" Face asked waking up quickly.

"Took too much of the good stuff and forgot to make sure he wasn't leaking the red stuff," Hannibal offered as an explanation.

BA woke up on hearing voices and saw Face and Hannibal talking, he yawned and then walked over to where a man lay in a bad state.

"Hey man, why have we got a dead guy in here?" BA asked confused.

"He's not dead," Face explained. "This is our new pilot," he emphasized.

"Look's like a crazy fool to me, a dead crazy fool."

"Face, time is of the essence here," Hannibal insisted and Face quickly began to cut away the blood stained uniform.

On removing the shirt, Face stood stock-still. Hannibal and BA had moved away to get some hot drinks but hurried back when they saw the deadly expression on Peck's face.

"What is it?" Hannibal asked fearing they had lost him.

"Look at his body," Face stated his voice slightly shaking.

Hannibal and BA both saw the fading scars, scars they knew came from beatings with a stick of some sort.

"The mystery gets deeper," Hannibal remarked as he noticed burn marks under his arms that he knew could only be made by electricity connecting.

Face started to clean up the hand wounds trying not to think how Murdock had received the injuries.

Hannibal moved BA away from Face; he wanted to talk about it without reminding Face too much about his ordeal so soon after he had experienced it himself.

"Man, I thought you said that fool had to be trained. I thought that meant he had no army training for our line of duty!" BA whispered.

"I was told he had no army training period," Hannibal insisted.

"Then why on earth is he here then?"

"That's the one question no one knows the answer to," Hannibal responded as he sat down.

"Sounds like bad news to me, man."

"He wouldn't get those types of scars at flying school, this guy has a past that no one is allowed to know about. If we are going to help him we're going to have to find out, I fear he's not going to want to tell us," Hannibal spoke with conviction in his voice.

"Then how do we find out?" BA asked.

"We're the special-forces unit, BA. There's nothing we can't do, remember?" Smith smiled.

"Man, it's not part of our job to go finding out stuff on crazy fools or breaking into filing cabinets!"

"Well let's make it part of our job, you never know it may come in useful when this war is over," Smith grinned.

"Man if you think I'll be doing this stuff when there's no war on your crazier than that guy," BA huffed.

"Come on BA, admit you love it really," Hannibal stood up as BA growled, he knew he was finally taming the big guy. "Just Peck, you and me understand, we don't want to attract attention, we'll find out what's going on around here."

"Hannibal, I think he needs stitches in these cuts, they're pretty clean cuts," Face called over as he examined the wounds.

"You got the stuff I need?" Hannibal asked, as he washed his hands to do the one thing he had so far mastered in first aid.

"Sure," Face instantly retrieved the materials needed.

Hannibal noted the concern in Peck's face and knew Murdock was in a bad way, he wondered if the drug influence was making it appear worse. His temperature was rising and falling at dangerous rates.

Hannibal finished off the stitches and for a brief moment admired his handy work, he allowed Face to clean up and bandage the cut hand. He noted the other hand had already been cleaned and bandaged, although a lighter one as it had only been grazes.

"When he's sober better make sure nothings broken, it's my guess he's been fighting a brick wall," Face advised, finally moving back to his bed.

"The man is a crazy fool," BA announced once again.

Hannibal pulled up a chair, showing his intention to stay and watch over the captain. The others knew not to question him and went back to their cots.

 

***********

 

The sound of screaming woke BA up instantly and he already saw Hannibal by Peck's side soothing him, he rushed over.

"Nightmare," Hannibal told him as he approached, the others had also been woken but BA signalled for them to go back to sleep.

"I'll hold him man, you already have one lost sheep to worry about," BA advised him looking over to the still sleeping Murdock.

BA sat next to Peck and he huddled up to BA without question, fighting the fear he felt from the images he saw within him.

"Come on brother, fight it," BA soothed; only imagining what hell Peck had endured for the past week.

Hannibal watched as BA tenderly urged Face back to sleep and remained with him as he lightly dozed. Hannibal looked back to the sleeping pilot, allowing his own thoughts about the man to continue. There was so much mystery about him that he couldn't wait to get started on what he hoped would become an interesting past time.

He knew BA and Face would be ideal to help him uncover the truth, between then they made a formidable team.

Murdock suddenly stirred snapping Hannibal out of his daydream and he waited for full consciousness to appear. Within moments, Murdock opened his eyes into the dim light. Without a word he simply looked around him and let his eyes rest on the sleeping BA holding Peck tight.

"Peck's been having nightmares, BA just made sure they went away," Hannibal whispered sensing Murdock's confusion.

Murdock looked longingly at the image, wondering how it helped the nightmares. He looked down at his chest and saw his bandaged hands across his stomach.

"We've cleaned you up a bit, you were losing blood," Hannibal explained.

Murdock noticed his shirt had been removed, the darkness brought back images of his nightmare and his breathing started to get more rapid. Hannibal could see Murdock was having trouble and put a reassuring hand on Murdock's shoulder. Murdock sense someone in the room with him and found this time his hands weren't tied, fearing he was about to be taken for questioning again he moved out of reach and found himself falling to the floor.

Hannibal quickly stood up as Murdock landed besides the cot, but Murdock had already scrambled to his feet before Hannibal could check he was all right. Murdock's eyes were glazed over as he got his bearings, Hannibal deduced the last effects of the drugs were kicking in and tried to work out his next move.

Murdock saw the side of the tent and promptly ran at it, finding enough space underneath to crawl outside, moving aside some sandbags he disappeared from view. Hannibal ran to the exit, the night had brought with it a heavy storm. The rain had turned the ground into sloppy mud once again; the heavy rain blinded Hannibal for a moment as he tried to find Murdock knowing he was shirtless and prone to the elements.

"Murdock!" Hannibal cried in vain and then saw movement to his left.

He gave chase and easily caught the bewildered captain up. Struggling in his hold, Murdock caused them both to slip over in the mud. Hannibal held on tightly to Murdock until he stopped struggling. He was out of breath and energy before he finally remained still. Hannibal wiped the water and mud from the captain's face and held him tight, humming slightly to reassure the pilot he was there with him. One hand held Murdock's forehead and the other went across his chest as they both got soaked through by the rain.

"C-cold."

Hannibal heard the slight whisper from Murdock and felt him begin to move forward, he supported him to the standing position.

"D-don't touch me!" Murdock suddenly screamed moving sharply away from Hannibal.

"I'm not going to hurt you, Murdock."

Murdock clung to himself as he backed away, not fully knowing where he was or whom he was with. He saw his hands, tied up with bandages and began tearing them off.

"Don't do that!" Hannibal insisted and step closer.

"Leave me alone!" Murdock yelled, his bandages in disarray.

The cold bit him once more as he clutched his arms together for warmth. His eyes were wild as he looked around, trying to work out where he was.

"Let's go inside, it's warmer," Hannibal spoke softly.

Murdock shook his head, not knowing whether the guy was friend or foe. BA and Peck both arrived at the scene having seen Murdock wasn't in the cot anymore, wondering what was going on. They gave Hannibal a blanket and urged him to get out of the rain but he refused, Peck saw the pain in Hannibal's eyes, the concern for the pilot's well being. Peck had seen it before, when Hannibal was trying to convince him that he could help. Peck stepped forward towards Murdock and stopped just short of him.

"We won't hurt you, we don't want anything. Those men that hurt aren't here, they're far away, we won't hit you," Peck stated with conviction and knew he'd got the captain's attention.

Murdock glared at the young man and knew his name was Peck, he knew he'd also been taken and listened to his words. He looked up and now recognized Hannibal but not the other man who instantly made Murdock weary.

Face stepped forward and was relieved that Murdock allowed him to put the blanket around him, he then led him to the tent. Hannibal was visibly impressed by Peck's actions and followed him into the tent.

 

***********

 

Murdock curled up on the bed, not allowing anyone to get close to him, not even to tuck him in. Peck found this worrying but knew that he'd finally made a connection with the strange man. He could help him that much was clear. He had shared the same experiences although maybe in different circumstances but finally there was someone who he could help instead of always being the victim.

Hannibal checked Murdock was asleep and then turned to Peck.

"Thanks kid, you don't know how much that meant to me," he admitted.

"I know Hannibal, I know."

Hannibal nodded his head and took his seat next to the bed intending to watch Murdock once again.

"Hannibal, he's not going any where, you need sleep too," Face advised him as he got into his own cot.

Hannibal realized Face was right, he could see he was coming round and knew he would look out for Murdock as well now.

"OK, you know where I am, if you need me," Hannibal smiled and left the tent.

Face watched Murdock as he got comfortable in a dozy state. The sheet on top of Murdock moved off and his back was revealed clearly showing signs of torture that ate at Face, whose own back showed the same scars, although more recent.

He wondered just where Murdock had come from.

 

***********

 

The early morning sounds of the base waking up filled the air, the sun drying out the rain the night left behind. Peck opened his eyes and saw Murdock sat on the edge of his cot, head in hands. Remembering the previous night, Peck slowly sat up and saw they were both the first ones to wake up.

"I have some painkiller's for that headache," Peck offered.

Murdock didn't move and remained still. Peck removed the covers and stood up walking over, he noted that Murdock had wrapped himself up in his blanket.

"It will take some of the pain away," Peck shook the container as he got closer.

There was still no response, Peck found a water container and poured some into the cap. Moving back to where Murdock sat he knelt down in front of him, offering both the water and pills.

Murdock glanced up and saw Peck knelt before him, he wanted to be left alone but Peck wasn't looking like he was leaving. He swung his hand out and knocked both the water and the pills out of Peck's hands.

Peck moved his hands to a defensive position, looking to one side containing his anger. He was only trying to help and his thoughts returned to believing this man was beyond help.

"I find they are a lot more effective when swallowed, but have it your own way," Peck finally said as he stood up and backed away.

Peck began to get dressed knowing he had to call by the infirmary, no doubt the shrink would want him to discuss everything that had happened to him in the past week. Peck considered sending Murdock in his place but decided he didn't want to do the guy any more favors until he deserved them.

Murdock looked up as Peck was about to leave, he looked troubled and Peck noticed his expression.

"What?" Peck asked.

"I need my shirt back," Murdock said in a low voice.

"It was ruined, surely you have another shirt. You're issued with enough at the beginning of your tour," Peck explained.

"That was my last one," Murdock replied.

Peck shook his head.

"You've only been out here three weeks and you've never left the base," Face realized and then remembered hearing about how he had been picking fights like friends. "Look, just this once I'll see what I can do, you're not on duty anytime soon, are you?"

"2pm," Murdock responded with a frown.

"Wait here till then," Face requested and left the tent.

Hannibal sat playing cards with BA when Peck arrived back, it was 1pm and he was carrying five neatly pressed shirts. Hannibal turned around and smiled.

"Been shopping again?"

"These aren't for me, where's Murdock?"

"Haven't seen him, wasn't here when I arrived," Hannibal frowned.

"Well he couldn't have gone far he didn't have a shirt, he didn't seem like he wanted to go anywhere without a shirt on," Face explained, knowing how humiliated the scars of torture could be.

"I ain't seen him all morning," BA added.

Face moved over to where his belongings were and noticed immediately.

"Hannibal, he's stolen one of my shirts! I told him I'd sort him something out if he waited!" Peck stormed angrily throwing the new shirts on the ground.

"Calm down, why don't you take one of the new ones and let him keep the old shabby one he stole?" Hannibal advised.

"It's the principle, Hannibal. And my shirts are never shabby!"

Hannibal smirked knowing his sharply dressed lieutenant wouldn't let that comment pass.

"What time does his duty start?" Hannibal asked.

"He told me 2pm."

"Let's get going then," Hannibal ordered.

"Where man?" BA asked confused.

"We're going to make sure Murdock turns up on time, the kid has to learn how we do things if he's going to become a part of this team. Where's Thomas?" Hannibal asked.

"He's flying some of B company across the border for some mission I think," Face replied.

"I want him to start using Murdock as his PP," Hannibal said out loud.

"A Peter Pilot, you think Murdock will do that? The guy thinks he owns the place already!" Face mocked.

"He has to start learning somewhere, being Thomas's co-pilot is the best way to begin with," Hannibal stated and gestured for them to follow him.

 

***********

 

Hannibal emerged from the last bar, he'd been told the same as he had been in the other's, Murdock had not been seen that day. He walked over to where Peck and BA stood keeping a watchful eye around the place.

"He's not been seen," Hannibal stated when he got closer.

"Joe on the gate said he definitely left the base two hours ago, where else would he go?" Face asked.

"Do you think he has some lover some place?" BA asked.

"He doesn't even love himself, how could he love anyone else the state he's in?" Hannibal frowned.

"We should at least check the known places, he might have bought someone," Face suggested, knowing Hannibal didn't like what he was suggesting.

He motioned for them to move and they headed to the area of town where the lonely soldiers went for fun, at the right price. The atmosphere took on a grimy taste as the three men saw the ease with which senseless sex was available; knowing the effects of war had driven both the soldiers and the women to acts of self-abuse.

The run down shacks where the sordid activities took place looked ready to fall as the shanty looking part of town fell to squalor. Hannibal scanned the area ignoring the offers; he wanted to find Murdock quick knowing his duty was soon arriving.

Peck needed BA's help to pry some of the more desperate women off him, knowing he probably looked an easy target in his state and his fears returned to Murdock whose own state was similar. It was not unheard of for these women to lure injured or lonely soldiers in and then take their own revenge for what the war had done to their people.

"He's not here," Hannibal said almost with relief.

"You can't be so sure," Face objected.

"He wouldn't let anyone near him, I don't think he would have found himself here," Hannibal stated.

"Some of these woman don't take no for an answer, if they think they can take you they will," Face warned as if speaking from experience.

A sudden scream from the other end of the street alerted them to trouble and they somehow knew they had to check it out. Following Hannibal, Face and BA quickly headed over to where the scream came from.

Arriving to the scene, a crowd had already gathered and Hannibal found himself pushing his way through to the front. On the ground he saw who he was looking for, he had a man stood over him with a knife to his throat.

"Stop!" Hannibal yelled and the young Vietnamese man looked up and backed off.

BA stepped forward and glared at the man, snatching the knife out of the man's hand.

"You speak English?" Hannibal asked.

The man nodded his head; he looked scared as he looked between the three men.

"What did this man do?" Hannibal asked as Murdock gingerly stood up, brushing the dirt from his clothes.

"Nothing," Murdock responded sharply.

"You!" Hannibal stared directly at Murdock. "Shut up and stay there!"

Murdock seemed taken aback by Hannibal's tone and remained still, knowing that the man they called BA had turned his attention to him.

"He attacked my sister!" the Vietnamese man yelled.

"That's a lie!" Murdock screamed back in anger.

Hannibal turned back to Murdock and raised his finger to indicate silence. Hannibal then stepped forward and inspected the marks on the young girl's face, he shook his head.

"Nice try but these injuries are already hours old, you're not trying to stitch up one of my men are you, sir?"

Hannibal asked turning his sole attention to the Vietnamese man.

The young man tried to back off but Hannibal wasn't giving him much room.

"Why were you about to cut the throat of my soldier?" Hannibal demanded louder.

"He stole from me!" the young man shouted.

Peck stepped forward narrowing his eyes as he looked closer at the man, he walked beside Hannibal.

"I think I know this clown, he's a dealer of the good stuff or should I say bad stuff to give it its correct title," Face remarked.

"My stuff is always good stuff!" the man protested.

"See," Face smiled smugly.

"Nice Face," Hannibal grinned as the pieces fell into place.

The young man frowned as he realized he'd given himself away, knowing the blond lieutenant had only been half guessing he sold drugs to the soldiers.

"BA take this man to the MP's, on charges of attempted murder and attacking his sister," Hannibal ordered and watched BA march him off.

The sister run forward and hugged Murdock, he seemed stunned and backed away quickly, bumping into Peck.

"Watch where you're going..." Peck snapped and noted his once nice shirt covered in mud. "...In my shirt."

The sister persisted and managed to hold on to Murdock, Peck looked closely at his face and could see pain.

Murdock could feel the arms around him, closing his eyes his mind went back to the cell. A tight grip, never letting go. Suffocating as his privacy was invaded and his rights taken away, never leaving him and holding him tighter the more he resisted. Holding him down, painful jolts erupting through his entire body as the laughter from his captors filled the room. Unable to accept what was happening to him, the confusion and pain melded together to make anger, then shame.

"Murdock?"

"Leave me alone!" Murdock yelled and pushed the sister with force before he walked briskly away.

Hannibal had managed to stop the sister from being hurt; he looked at her confused expression.

"He saved me," she whispered, thinking she had done something wrong.

Hannibal looked at Face and they double-checked she was ok before going after Murdock.

"Hannibal, the more time we spend with this guy the more terrified I'm getting," Face admitted.

"Face, I'm counting on you to stick with it. He listened to you last night," Hannibal remarked as they picked up the pace.

"I have my own issues I need to deal with Hannibal, I'm not sure I can handle anyone else's problems."

"Face, I'm not asking for much, just your support," Hannibal almost pleaded.

Face found it hard to reply; he had seen a lot of himself in Murdock at various times over the past day. He had to admit that the previous night it meant something when Murdock had listened to him, it made him feel better more than any doctor could make him feel.

"I'll do what I can," Face assured Hannibal.

"That's all I can ask for," Hannibal smiled as they reached the base entrance.

"Captain Murdock's only a couple of minutes ahead of you," Joe on the gate informed them as they entered, they nodded their thanks.

Peck and Smith could hear the distant sound of the raised voice of Murdock's commander as they hurried to the building. They looked at the building in the distance hoping to reach it soon so they would be able to intervene in Murdock's defence. A young officer suddenly appeared and demanded Smith's attention, delaying their arrival.

 

 

TBC

 


Killing Time by Jipster
Killing Time 2 by Jipster
Killing Time 3 by Jipster

 

 


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