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Tangled Web

Tangled Web

By LovinFace

 

Rating:  PG

Disclaimer:  I don't own them, I just fantasize that I do.

Feedback:  Yes, please.

Summary:  Takes place after Without Reservations.  Face receives some bad news as he recovers from the shootout.  Hannibal begins to formulate a plan.  But not all is as it seems.  Face h/c, angst.

 

Tangled Web

 

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."  Sir Walter Scott

 

Chapter 1

 

Hannibal Smith paced the floor of his gilded cage in Langley.  He chewed on the end of his cigar as he paced.  BA Baracas, sitting on the couch, followed Hannibal's path with his eyes. 

 

"Hannibal, I ain't seen  you like this in long time.  What's eatin' at cha man?"

 

Hannibal turned on his heel to face BA.  He mouthed the words, "Not here," and continued to pace. 

 

BA slowly rose and walked toward the bathroom.  "Well, if you ain't gonna talk, I'm gonna grab a shower, maybe watch the fights tonight."  He continued toward the bathroom and closed the door.  A minute later he turned on the shower and waited.

 

Hannibal walked to the bathroom and slowly opened the door.  He whispered to BA, "Stockwell just informed me that Ellen Bancroft is dead.  Killed in a car accident.  I know I've got to tell Face, but the doctors said he needed to avoid stress…hell, he hasn't even been home from the hospital a week." 

 

BA sighed.  "He's got to be told Hannibal.  It's better that he hears it from one of us instead of Stockwell."

 

"You're right.  But there's one hitch."  Hannibal pulled a folded piece of pink paper from his pocket and handed it to BA.  "It's from Ellen.  Read it."

 

BA unfolded the letter and read, his face turning into a scowl as he read.  "Is this true?" 

 

Hannibal sighed.  "I believe her, BA.  Why would she lie?  And if what she wrote is true, then I don't believe her car accident was an accident at all.  I think she was murdered."

 

BA put his hand on Hannibal's shoulder.  "We gotta get outta here Hannibal.  You need to come up with a plan."  BA knew he was expressing the obvious, but he simply couldn't be silent. 

 

Hannibal nodded and slowly opened the door.  He placed the letter back in his pocket and mouthed, "I'm working on it."  He slipped out of the bathroom and down the hall to the den. 

 

Face was lying on the couch, having a fitful sleep.  Murdock sat in a chair across from Face, watching, waiting, his brows knitted together in concern.  Hannibal tapped Murdock's shoulder, causing him to be startled.  "Hannibal, you scared me.  Don't sneak up on me like that." 

 

"Sorry Murdock.  Listen, you got a minute?  I'd like to talk to you."

 

Murdock nodded his head no.  "No can do Hannibal.  Somebody's got to stay with Face.  Sometimes he starts having nightmares, and somebody's gotta wake him up.  We can't let him pull his stitches out."

 

Hannibal pulled out Ellen's letter and handed it to Murdock.  He bent to Murdock's ear and whispered, "Read this. But don't make a sound."

 

Murdock unfolded the pink paper and began to read.

 

Hannibal,

 

I'm sending this to you instead of Face because I don't want to do anything to endanger his recovery.  I'm writing to let you know that Face's life is in danger.    I can't go into details, but I have reason to believe that the shooting at Villa Cucina was no accident.  My sources tell me that it is true that the Attorney General was to be assassinated.  However, Face was to be killed as well.  I'm aware that your house is bugged, and I know you are too.  Seems that once Face and Frankie decided to go to Villa Cucina, the contract was renegotiated for a "bonus" hit -- Face.  My source tells me that Stockwell ordered the hit.  Tell Face I'm still getting used to having a big brother—and I like it, so don't do anything foolish.  Tell him I love him.  Please keep him safe.   I'll try to get more information to you as I can. 


Ellen

 

Murdock slowly folded the paper and handed it back to Hannibal, his expression grim.  His thoughts went back to Ellen and Face, standing at the gravesite of their father.  Face had told Ellen that day that he was her brother.  He had expected rejection, but instead Ellen had simply pulled Face into an embrace, not speaking, just accepting him into her life.  They were still learning about each other, but the bond created that day appeared to be a strong one. 

 

Hannibal spoke softly, pulling Murdock out of his thoughts.  "Stockwell just told me that Ellen was killed in a car accident yesterday."

 

Murdock snapped his head toward Face.  He slowly turned to Hannibal.  "We gotta tell him Colonel.  He's got to know the truth."

 

Hannibal placed his hand on Murdock's shoulder.  "We'll tell him when he wakes up."

 

Hannibal walked toward his room, shoulders slumped, head downcast.  Murdock knew that telling Face his sister was dead would be one of the hardest things he's ever had to do.  Murdock also knew that the colonel was formulating a plan to get them out of Langley.  Though Murdock was free to come and go as he pleased, he would go with the team.  They were his family. 

 

Face began to mumble in his sleep.  The words were slurred and Murdock couldn't make them out.  He went to Face's side and began to stroke his hair.  "Shhh.  It's okay Face.  It's okay."    Face turned his head toward Murdock's voice, never awakening.  Murdock continued to stroke Face's hair. 

 

Murdock looked at the face of his best friend.  What was it about the man this man that caused everyone to want to protect him?  Face was strong.  He could take care of himself.  But there was a vulnerability about him…you could see it in his eyes if you looked fast enough.  Face was an expert at hiding his emotions.  But Murdock, BA, and Hannibal had all caught a glimpse of the real Face throughout the years. 

 

All his life Face wanted a family.  Sure, he had found one in the A-Team.  Yet sometimes that wasn't enough.  When the team went to see BA's mother, Face would become sullen, no doubt wondering what it would have been like if he had been raised by his mother instead of the sisters in the orphanage.  And while everyone considered BA the member with a weak spot for children, Face was right up there with him.   They had even helped a man keep his foster home free of charge, with Face's blessing.  Then he met his father, AJ Bancroft, and his half-sister Ellen.  Though he never really had a father-son talk with AJ, he could reflect on things the man had told him, a halfway apology as Face put it.  Face would call Ellen at her home in Florida weekly just to see how she was doing, having "normal family" conversations.  Face took his role as big brother seriously…from offering financial advice to teasing her about her dates. 

 

Frankie Santana walked into the den, a cup of coffee in his hand.  "Hey, Murdock.  I thought you could use a cup.  Why don't you go rest up a while?  I can stay with Face."  Frankie offered the coffee to Murdock.  Murdock took the cup from Frankie and took a sip.  "Thanks, Frankie.  I'm okay though.  I'm really not tired.  I need to be here when he wakes up.  We got some bad news."

 

Frankie frowned.  "What's wrong, Murdock?  Face is going to be okay isn't he?  I thought the doctors said he'd be fine as long as we didn't let him overdo it."

 

"Yeah, he'll be fine.  It's just….well, we got some bad news.  We're going to tell him when he wakes up."  Murdock took another sip of coffee.

 

"Tell me what?" 

 

Frankie and Murdock turned toward the voice from the couch.  Face was awake.  "Tell me what?"

 

Murdock spoke first.  "Frankie, why don't you get Hannibal and BA , okay?"

 

Frankie nodded and went down the hall.  He knocked on Hannibal's door.  Hannibal opened the door slowly.  "He awake?"

 

"Yeah."

 

"Tell BA."

 

Frankie walked down to BA's room. BA opened the door before Frankie could knock.  "I heard.  Let's go."

 

BA, Hannibal, and Frankie walked back into the den.  Murdock had pulled his chair a little closer to where Face lay on the couch.  Face was obviously becoming agitated.

 

"C'mon Murdock.  Tell me what's going on.  You're obviously keeping something from me.  I thought we were past doing that.  Just tell me the truth."  Face tried to sit up, but the sudden movement caused a spasm of pain and he fell back against the pillow.

 

Hannibal spoke.  "Face, there's something you need to know.  God, how do I do this?"  He walked over to Face and knelt on the floor.  Putting his hand on Face's shoulder, he said quietly, "Face, Ellen was killed in a car accident.  I'm sorry."

 

Face said nothing, the words pouring through his mind.  Ellen was dead?  That couldn't be.  He had just spoken to her a week ago.  She couldn't be dead.  He had just found her.  He turned his head toward the back of the couch, still saying nothing.

 

BA walked over to Face and placed his hand on Face's hand.  "I'm sorry about your sister, Face."

 

Face turned toward BA.  "Could you help me to my room?  I want to be alone."

 

BA looked at Hannibal, who nodded.  "Sure thing.  Let's get you up."  BA pulled back the covers and he and Hannibal helped Face sit up. 

 

Murdock joined them.  "Face, I'm so sorry.  What can I do?" 

 

"Nothing.  I just need to be alone."  Face looked up at Murdock, a faint smile crossed his face.  "Really, Murdock.  I'll be okay.  I just need to be alone."

 

BA put Face's right arm around his neck.  He placed his arm around Face's waist and helped him toward the bedroom, followed by Hannibal. 

 

Frankie had gone ahead and pulled the covers down on Face's bed.  He stood silently as BA helped Face into bed.  Hannibal pulled the covers up to Face's shoulders.  "You sure you don't want one of us to stay?"

 

"Yeah, thanks Hannibal.  I'll be okay."  Face turned toward the wall, and Hannibal could see how hard Face was trying to stay composed.  Hannibal patted BA on the back.  "Let's go BA."  He turned to Face, "If you need anything, you just call, okay?"  Then he turned to Frankie.  "Come on Frank."

 

The men walked toward the door.  Frankie turned back and said, "I'm sorry Face." 

 

Face nodded his head, then turned back toward the wall.  He could hear his friends leave, shutting the door behind them.  Finally alone, Face closed his eyes and thought of Ellen.  Then he began to cry.

 

BA and Frankie had gone back to the den.  Hannibal stood outside Face's door.  He could hear Face crying.  Every fiber of his being wanted to go comfort Face, but he knew that Face just needed to be alone right now.  Hannibal stayed at the door, listening for any sign from Face that he needed help. 

 

XXXXXXXX

 

"Well, how did he take it?"

 

"He's crying, General.  It's really rather touching."

 

Stockwell smiled.  "I'm sure it is, Ellen.  I'm sure it is."

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Face had insisted that he was going to the funeral.  Hannibal knew that traveling with Face would be a nightmare.  He could barely sit, yet alone stand.  But he also knew how important it was for Face to say good-bye to his sister.  Stockwell had objected at first, of course, but Hannibal refused to back down and so Stockwell arranged for them to take a private jet to Florida.  BA was not happy with this arrangement, but he decided that for Face's sake he would tuck his fears away.  And so three days after learning of Ellen's death, the team flew to Florida to say a final good-bye.

 

Face sat stoically throughout the graveside service.  He sat between Hannibal and BA.  Murdock and Frankie stood behind him, Murdock's hand on his shoulder.  After the service, well wishers shook Face's hand, told him they were sorry.   Face just stared at the casket, unable to speak.

 

After the service, the team headed back to the hotel where Stockwell had arranged for them to have a three-bedroom suite, complete with two Abels standing guard outside the door.  BA had found three bugs throughout the suite and had promptly disposed of them. 

 

Face lay on the couch, his brow furled in pain.  Hannibal took him a glass of water and some of his pain medicine.  "Take this, Face.  You look like you're about to fall over."

 

Face took the pills without protest, a testament to the amount of pain he was in.  Hannibal reached out for him.  "C'mon, Son, let's get you to bed.  We don't want you to end up in the hospital again.  I think Murdock has laid out some pajamas for you."  Hannibal pulled Face up from the couch and helped him to one of the bedrooms.  "Let us know if you need anything."  Hannibal closed the door.

 

Face retrieved the pajamas Murdock had laid out on one of the chairs.  He slowly pulled of his suit and slipped into the pajamas.  He slowly slid into bed and pulled up the covers.  He began thinking about AJ and Ellen.  The medicine began to take affect and he drifted off to sleep.

 

Hannibal opened the door slowly and looked in on Face.  Seeing he was asleep, he left the door ajar so that he or one of the team could check on Face periodically. 

 

Frankie, Murdock and BA had gathered on the balcony, waiting for Hannibal to join them.  Hannibal walked out, loosening his tie.  "Well, he's asleep.  I left the door cracked and we'll leave this door open as well so we can hear if he needs anything."

 

BA spoke first.  "We need a plan Hannibal.  I ain't doing another mission for Stockwell.  Why did he try to kill Face?  I don't understand it." 

 

Hannibal thought for a moment.  "I'm working on a plan.  But it's not just the escaping part we have to think about.  We have to have a place to go.  I'm not worried about money.  Face has seen to it that we're set in that area.  As for why Stockwell would want Face dead….I don't know.  I mean, they obviously can't stand one another.  None of us likes Stockwell, but Face has never had trouble voicing his opinion to Stockwell's face.  But that's no reason to kill him.  Ellen must have found the reason.  We've got to find out who her source was and find out too."

 

"And how do we do that?" Murdock asked.

 

Hannibal smiled.  "We order room service."

 

XXXXXXX

 

Stockwell and Ellen Bancroft watched the funeral from the comforts of their limousine. 

 

Ellen spoke first, "You know, it really is touching how hard Face is taking my death.  I didn't realize he was so fond of me."

Stockwell snaked a smile across his face.  "He's not the only one, Darling.  You are going to be able to see this through aren't you?  If you have any doubts, you need to voice them now.  If you change your mind midstream, I can't guarantee your safety."

 

Ellen snuggled up to Stockwell, running her finger up and down his chest.  "Oh, I'll see it through General.  You don't have to worry about that.  After all, it's not like he's really my brother now, is it?"

 

"True, true.  My, you are a conniving one aren't you?  You're father would be proud."   

 

Ellen frowned.  "Yes, I suppose he would.  But I don't really care what he would think about me.  Any man who would leave his family the way he did….Well, it doesn't matter now.  What matters now is that we have the complete diary of my father's works.  The power is ours, General.  And so is the A-Team."

 

Stockwell reached across for a bottle of champagne.  After opening the bottle, he poured two glasses and handed one to Ellen.  "Here's a toast.  To phase two.  Let the games begin."

 

Ellen raised her glass, "To phase two."

 

XXXXXX

 

It took two men to bring up the room service order placed by the team.  The Abels at the front door inspected the food and the waiters before letting them wheel in the carts.

 

"Goody, goody.  Looks like we've got a feast.  C'mon Frankie, let's try some of this black stuff!"  Murdock grinned toward Frankie.

 

Hannibal looked at the "black stuff."  He smiled at Murdock.  "That's caviar, Murdock.  I figure since Stockwell's footing the bill, we should eat like kings." 

 

Frankie spread some caviar on a cracker and smelled it.  "I don't know Johnny. You sure this stuff is good?"

 

Murdock, whose mouth was full of caviar, spoke, "Itth good Fwankie. Twy it."

 

BA stood across the room near Face's room, just watching Murdock and Frankie, shaking his head at the exchange of whether they should eat caviar or not.    Hannibal approached him.  "Okay, they're inspecting the waiters, the food, the cart.  So we won't be able to sneak out that way.  And just because we know of the two at the door, doesn't mean there aren't more in the lobby, the garage, who knows where."

 

BA looked at Hannibal.  "Sounds like the only choice we got is to go through the front door."

 

Hannibal pulled a cigar out of his pocket.  "That's what I was thinking.  Here's what we're going to do."

 

Hannibal and BA formulated a plan as Frankie and Murdock dined on caviar and lobster.   All were so lost in what they were doing, they didn't notice Face enter the room. 

 

Face cleared his throat.  "Umm Guys?"

 

Four faces turned to face him.

Face continued.  "Guys, listen.  I just wanted to thank you for coming here with me."

 

Murdock spoke first.  "No problem, Faceman.  We all liked Ellen too.  We're your family.  There's no where else we want to be."  Murdock lifted the lid off one of the trays.  "Look here, Face.  Hannibal ordered some smoked salmon for you – it's one of your favorites!" 

 

Face walked over to a table by the window and sat slowly in the chair.  Frankie carried the tray of salmon to him. 

 

"Thanks, Frankie.  Could I get a glass of wine too?"

 

Hannibal shook his head.  "No you don't, Face.  You're still on pain medication.  You know you can't have alcohol."

 

"But Hannibal, one glass—"

 

"No, Face.  How about some water, or some tea?"  Hannibal smiled.  Face's whining was actually music to his ears after the events of the last few weeks.

 

"Fine.  Water.  At least I get to eat some real food."  Face placed a napkin on his lap and picked up the silverware.  He began to eat.  "This is really good.  You know, I could get used to eating like this…."  Face stopped.

 

Murdock ran over to him.  "Face, what's wrong?  You okay?"

 

Face was turning red.  "I….can't…..breathe…."  He stood up abruptly, his hands around his throat. 

 

Murdock yelled, "He's choking!"

 

Face fell to the floor.  Hannibal tilted Face's head back and opened his mouth.  Face was still struggling to breathe.   Hannibal put a finger in Face's mouth and swiped his throat.  He couldn't see or feel anything that Face might have choked on.  Face's breathing was becoming ragged now.  "Frankie, call an ambulance."

 

BA knelt beside Face, preparing to pick him up. "There ain't no time for that, Hannibal. I say we take him in now."  He picked up Face and headed toward the door.  Murdock ran ahead and opened the door.  The Abels immediately turned and blocked the doorway.

 

BA snarled, "Out of my way.  I've got to get him to the hospital."

 

The Abels looked at each other.  Hannibal pushed his way through.  "You can ride with us if you want, but we're taking him to the hospital.  NOW!"

 

Hannibal ran to the elevators.  BA was carrying Face, Murdock and Frankie trailing behind him.  The Abels followed. 

 

Minutes later the party made their way through the lobby.  Hannibal yelled to a cabbie in one of the taxis out front.  "You.  We need to get to the nearest hospital!"  Hannibal opened the back door and BA slid in, clinging to Face.  Hannibal jumped in the front seat.  Frankie, Murdock, and the Abels commandeered another taxi. 

 

"How much further to the hospital?"  Hannibal asked anxiously.

 

"We're less than a mile away." The cabbie replied.

 

Suddenly, the raspy breathing of Face stopped.  BA yelled, "He's stopped breathing, Hannibal."

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Hannibal crashed through the emergency room doors, BA behind him with a limp Face in his arms.  A nurse grabbed a gurney and BA placed Face on it. 

 

"He stopped breathing about a minute ago."  Hannibal told the nurse.  A doctor ran out of an exam room and started barking out orders as they wheeled Face into a room. 

 

Hannibal and BA stood there, watching the doors go back and forth, back and forth.  Hannibal put his hand on BA's shoulder.  "C'mon BA.  Let's go to the waiting room.  Murdock and Frankie should be here any minute."

 

XXXXXXX

 

Ellen stepped out of the shower and dried off before putting on her red silk robe.  She walked into the living room.  Stockwell was sitting on the couch, looking through some files.  Ellen sat on the couch, taking the files from Stockwell's hands and placing them on the coffee table.

 

"All work and no play, General?" she teased.

 

Stockwell pulled her toward him and kissed her.  "Now, now.  I was just keeping busy while I waited on you.  Phase two has begun, and I was just preparing for phase three."

 

Ellen smiled as she unbuttoned the top buttons on Stockwell's shirt.  "Well, I say we take a break from the planning and have a little fun."  She began kissing his mouth, then his neck. 

 

"You are going to be the death of me, Ellen."  Stockwell untied Ellen's robe and began caressing her.  "Let's go into the bedroom." He whispered. 

 

Ellen stood, letting the robe fall around her feet.  She offered her hand to Stockwell, and led him into the bedroom. 

 

XXXXXX

 

Dr. Cade Bentley entered the waiting room where Hannibal, BA, Frankie, and Murdock had practically taken over.  Hannibal started to stand, but the doctor motioned for him to stay seated.  He pulled up a chair across from the four men.

 

"Your friend is going to be fine.  But it was touch and go for a while.  First of all, I want you to know that you can speak freely with me.  I know that your friend is Templeton Peck and that you are the A-Team.  I can assure you that no one else here knows.  I have him listed as "Tim Smith" in the records.  That said, according to our toxicology tests, he overdosed on a narcotic, causing his respiratory functions to slow down and then cease.  Have you noticed any signs of depression lately?"

 

Hannibal replied, a tinge of anger in his voice.  "Face did not try to kill himself, Doctor.  In fact, he's only had two of his pain pills in the last 12 hours.  I gave them to him myself."

 

Dr. Bentley sighed.  "I didn't mean to offend you.  It's just that the level of narcotics in his system is what is seen in suicide attempts.  Do you have his pain medication with you by chance?  I'd like to have it analyzed."

 

Hannibal dug into his jacket pocket and retrieved the bottle of pills.  He handed it to Dr. Bentley.  "When can we see him, Doc?"

 

Dr. Bentley put the pills in the pocket of his lab coat.  "You can see him in a few minutes, but there are some other things you need to know."  Dr. Bentley ran his hand absently through his graying hair and then continued.  "Templeton suffered a seizure in the emergency room and aspirated, so we have him on a ventilator.  I assure you it is only temporary.  I also noticed signs of infection from a surgical wound and have started him on antibiotics.   He's going to be 'out of it' for a while, but you can see him for a few minutes."

 

Dr. Bentley stood and extended his hand to each man.  "I'll be checking in with you in a little while.  Now, go see Templeton.  He's in room 212." 

 

"Thanks, Doc.  For everything." Hannibal said.  Then he and the rest of the team headed toward room 212.

 

XXXXXX

 

Room 212 was quiet except for the rhythmic breathing produced by the ventilator and the steady beeping of the heart monitor.  Hannibal entered the room first, followed by BA, Murdock, and then Frankie. 

 

Face lay still in the bed.  The covers were pulled waist high, and the new bandage that had been placed on Face's surgical wound already had drainage seeping through.  Hannibal took his fingers and laced them through Face's hair.  "Hang in there Kid.  You're going to be just fine. Doc says you'll be chasing the nurses in no time."

 

BA spoke to Face.  "Hey, Little Brother, you really scared me, man.  But you're going to be okay, I promise you.  You just rest and get better."

 

After BA retreated from the bedside, Murdock walked up and took Face's hand in his own.  "You gotta wake up soon Face.  You've just got to." 

 

Frankie walked up, not knowing really what to say.  "Hey, Face.  Listen, you're going to be okay."

 

Hannibal placed his hand on Face's shoulder.  "We've got to go now, Son, but we'll be back first thing in the morning.  You just rest."

 

One more glance over his shoulder, and Hannibal left, followed by the rest of the team.

 

XXXXXX

 

It was dark, save for a small florescent light over the bed.  Face slowly opened his eyes, trying to take in his surroundings.  He tried to speak, but couldn't because of the tube down his throat.  Frantically, his eyes darted around the room. 

 

"Don't worry.  You'll be all right."

 

Face tried to focus in the direction of the voice.  He could only see the outline of someone in the corner of the room. 

 

"That's it.  It's okay.  I'm here for you."

 

Face squinted at the figure in the dark, who was now approaching him out of the shadows.  A hand reached for his IV and injected something from a syringe into the tubing.   Face felt his chest tighten.  The respirator alarms began to sound, followed by the shrill of the heart monitor.  His mind tried to wrap itself around what was happening to him.  The last thing Face saw before slipping into unconsciousness was a glimpse of the shadow's smiling face.

 

XXXXX

 

"I take it phase two is now complete."

 

"Yes, General.  If Face isn't dead yet, he soon will be." Ellen laughed.

 

"Very good.  If all goes according to plan, we can begin phase three by next week."  Stockwell smiled and pulled Ellen onto his lap.  "They'll never know what hit them."

 

XXXXX

 

Hannibal and the guys had returned to the waiting room after visiting hours ended.  BA and Hannibal were huddled in a corner of the room coming up with a new plan that now included taking care of a very ill Face.  Murdock was stretched out on one of the couches, his right arm dangling off the side, his baseball cap pulled over his eyes.  Frankie sat in a chair, reading a three-year-old entertainment magazine.

 

Code blue. Room 212.  Code blue.  Room 212.

 

The team jumped up and ran down the hall toward Face's room.  A nurse pushed in a cart with a defibrillator.  Another was performing CPR on Face.  A respiratory therapist was monitoring the ventilator.  Dr. Bentley, followed by another doctor Hannibal did not know, ran down the hall, pushing Hannibal aside as he entered Face's room.  Hannibal could barely see Face through all the medical personnel surrounding his bed. 

 

He could make out Dr. Bentley's voice above the others in the room:

 

"Asystole."

 

"Give me 400 watt seconds."

 

"Hit him again."

 

"Damn it, son, fight!"

 

Then another voice.

 

"Cade, let him go.  We've lost him."

 

Chapter 4

 

"Damn it, Ian, I'll crack his chest if I have to, " shouted Dr. Bentley.  "I'm not giving up on him.  Now either help or get out!"

 

Ian was about to speak when Murdock burst into the room.  "NOOOO!  Don't die Face.  Don't die!"

 

Dr. Bentley shouted. "Get him out of here!"  He turned back to Face.  "I'm gonna hit him one more time – 400 watt seconds."

 

Nurses headed for Murdock.  Before they could reach him BA pulled him out of the room, into the hallway.  Hannibal stood against the wall, using it to hold himself up.  BA ushered Murdock down the hall, to the waiting room, Frankie following behind. 

 

Hannibal couldn't leave.  He had to stay.  Face was fighting for his life. He turned slowly, leaning against the doorframe, watching the activity in Face's room.

 

Dr. Bentley was hovering over Face, the defibrillator paddles in his hands.  He placed them on Face's chest. 

 

"Clear."

 

Face's body jerked.   

 

The room was silent. 

 

Hannibal held his breath.

 

Then he heard it.

 

The heart monitor had begun to "beep." 

 

Dr. Bentley watched the monitor for a minute.  Nurses collected vital signs. 

 

Ian slapped Dr. Bentley on the back.  "Nice going, Cade.  I thought we lost him."

 

Dr. Bentley looked down at Face.  "It's not over yet, but he's a fighter.  Now all we can do is wait."  He turned toward the door.  Seeing Hannibal in the doorway, he walked over to him.  "Why don't you go to the waiting room?  I'll be there soon."

 

Hannibal let out the breath he had been holding.  He headed toward the waiting room.

 

XXXXXXX

 

Murdock sat in a green plastic chair, rocking back and forth, sobbing.  BA was standing beside him, his hands on Murdock's shoulders. 

 

Frankie whispered to BA, "What can I do?"

 

"Ain't nothing you can do.  We just gotta be strong for Murdock.  Losing Face is like losing part of himself."  BA choked back a sob.  "I can't believe he's gone."

 

"He's not."

 

BA and Frankie turned toward the voice.  Hannibal walked over to the men.  He knelt down and placed his hands on Murdock's knees. "Murdock, he's not dead.  You hear me?  He's not dead."

 

Murdock stopped rocking.  He rubbed his eyes with his palms.  "Face…isn't…..dead?"

 

Hannibal stood.  "No, he isn't dead.  They were able to get him back.  Dr. Bentley is going to come talk with us soon.  Now, why don't you go wash your face before he gets here?  Frankie, how bout you go get us some coffee?"

 

Frankie, thankful for something to do, replied, "Sure thing, Johnny."  He turned to Murdock, "C'mon Murdock, I'll walk with you to the restroom."  Frankie draped his arm around Murdock's shoulders and they both walked down the hall. 

 

Hannibal sat heavily on the couch.  BA remained standing.  "I don't know how much more of this Face can take, BA.  When I saw Dr. Bentley shock him and his body jerked…He was dead BA!"  A tear slid down Hannibal's cheek. 

 

BA sat beside Hannibal.  "He's gonna get through this, Hannibal.  We all are.  You just gotta believe."

 

Hannibal nodded.  He patted BA's thigh.  "Thanks BA."  Hannibal was grateful for BA's strength, not just physical strength but mental strength as well.  Back in Vietnam, BA had appointed himself protector of the team, especially Face and Murdock.  It was a role he took seriously. 

 

Hannibal and BA sat on the couch in silence, waiting for the doctor, hoping for good news about Face.  Neither man could picture the A-Team without Face. 

 

XXXXXXXX

 

"Damn it!"  The phone was slammed down. 

 

Ellen could hear Stockwell in the other room.  She pulled back the covers and slipped back into her robe.  She walked into the living room.  Stockwell was sitting in an overstuffed chair, his hands clenched into a fist.  "What's wrong?"

 

"He's still alive.  Damn it, Ellen, didn't you put the whole syringe of morphine in the line?"

 

"Yes, General.  I put the whole thing in, just like you said."  Ellen's voice trembled.

 

Stockwell stood.  "Well, for some reason it didn't kill him.  This is going to put a setback in phase three.   I'll admit, I don't mind that he's going to suffer some more, which in turn will make Smith suffer, but I like things to go according to plan.  And him surviving is not part of the plan."

 

Ellen poured a glass of brandy, then walked over to Stockwell, offering it to him.  "Well, even if he is alive, he can't be doing very well.  It won't be much longer.  You'll see.  But you know they won't leave him alone after this.  The doctors are bound to run tests and find out about the morphine.  I can't go back to the hospital and risk being seen by one of them."

 

Stockwell took the glass of brandy from Ellen and took a sip.  "Ahh, but that's where you're wrong, my dear.  You see, your part of this whole arrangement is to kill Peck.  You haven't done that.  If you don't kill Peck, then our arrangement is null and void." 

 

Ellen smiled.  "General, I didn't say I wouldn't kill him.  I just can't go to the hospital right now.  You know they'll take turns staying with Face.  I'm open to any suggestions you may have on how to get to him."

 

Stockwell took another sip of brandy.  "I'll let you know."

 

XXXXXXX

 

Dr. Bentley entered the waiting room.  Hannibal stood.

 

"No, no, stay seated," said Dr. Bentley as he pulled up a chair and sat across from the team.   "Templeton suffered a cardiac arrest.  I don't know what triggered it, but I'm running blood tests now. I'll let you know as soon as I get the results.  It's going to be touch and go for a while.  If he arrests again, I doubt we can get him back.  I know you want to see him, and I'll allow it.  Talk to him.  Touch him.  Let him know you're there.  Stay positive around him.  The subconscious mind is a tricky thing.  I don't want him to hear anything negative about his condition. Oh, and there's something else you should know."  Dr. Bentley pinched the bridge of his nose, then ran his hand through his hair.

 

"Yes?" Hannibal asked, his stomach began to knot up.  "What is it?"

 

"You remember those pain pills I had analyzed?  They were three times stronger than the dose prescribed.  It's no wonder he went into respiratory arrest."  Dr. Bentley locked eyes with Hannibal.

 

"Doc, I don't want him left alone.  You've got to let at least one of us be with him at all times."  Hannibal said forcibly.

 

"Well, it's against policy, but I'll allow it.  My main concern is my patient.  He's a fighter, he proved that today.  You guys can go see him for a few minutes, then limit it to two at a time, okay?"  Dr. Bentley stood.  "I'll be by in about an hour to check on him again.  I'll see you then."

 

XXXXXXXX

 

Ellen had waited in the living room while Stockwell made some calls, and then excused herself to the bedroom.  She sat at the vanity table, brushing her hair. Things were not going according to plan, and like Stockwell, she wasn't happy about it.  Giving Stockwell the complete diary of her father should have been enough to give her a new identity, a new life.  She had carefully read her father's diary, and upon finding the section on Stockwell had decided to make a deal.  Stockwell had taken parts of AJ's diary out.  His own section, of course, and some general in Vietnam.  Stockwell told her that he would meet her terms, but he had one addition.  He wanted Face dead.  Ellen had objected at first.  She'd never killed anyone before.  But she desperately wanted a new life out of the shadow of AJ Bancroft.  And Stockwell was a powerful man who could make that happen.  She accepted Stockwell's offer.  She flew to Washington and presented the senate committee with AJ's diary….minus some information.  Then she returned to Florida.  Stockwell informed Murdock that AJ was Face's father.  It was the beginning of the perfect set-up.

 

 Stockwell walked up behind her and placed his hand on her shoulder, startling her out of her thoughts.

 

"You were right, Ellen.  Peck is not out of the woods yet, so to speak.  It wouldn't take much to make him suffer a cardiac arrest.  They don't think he'll survive another one.  And they're going to take turns guarding Peck.  Seems the good doctor ran an analysis on the pain medicine, so now Smith is certain someone is out to kill Peck."  Stockwell began to run his fingers through Ellen's hair.  He brushed it aside and kissed the nape of her neck.

 

"So what do you want me to do?"

 

Stockwell smiled. "Oh, I'm sure we'll think of something."

 

XXXXXXX

 

Face was still, too still.  The team entered his room slowly, quietly.  Hannibal approached the bed.  He took Face's hand in one of his own and stroked Face's hair with his other hand.  "Hey, Face.  You're going to be okay.  We're with you now.  You've got to keep fighting, Son."  Hannibal looked at Face, hoping for some sign of movement or understanding.  Face lay motionless except for his chest rising and falling with the breath provided by the ventilator.   Up and down.  Up and down.

 

Murdock stood at the foot of the bed, staring at his best friend who was hooked up to machines and IV's.  Murdock wanted to run away from the fear, but knew that he had to stay for Face.  He had to believe Face would be okay.  He had to make Face believe it.  Murdock walked up beside Hannibal, then bent down close to Face.  "Hey Muchacho.  It's time to wakey, wakey.  You've got a couple of cute nurses assigned to you and if you don't speak up then I'm gonna get dibs on 'em." 

 

BA stood on the other side of Face.  "Hey Little Brother, don't you listen to the fool.  Believe me, those nurses only got eyes for you."  BA picked up Face's hand and held it, surprised at the coldness of his skin.  "You just rest and get better."

 

Frankie stood at the foot of the bed. "Hang tough Face."  He mentally cursed himself for not being able to think of anything to say.  Truth be told all the machines and lines made him nervous. 

 

They stood like that for a few minutes, gathered around Face's bed.  Watching his chest rise and fall.  Listening to the heart monitor.  Face was so pale, and his hands were so cold.  Hannibal stroked his hair and ran his finger down the side of Face's cheek.  Face looked so fragile.  But Hannibal knew that looks were deceiving.  Face was a survivor.  He had survived a hellish childhood, the war, and the prison camps just to name a few. 

 

Dr. Bentley entered the room; followed by the doctor Hannibal had seen working with Dr. Bentley earlier. 

 

"Gentleman, I'd like you to meet my colleague, Dr. Ian Stockwell."

 

All four men turned in unison at the mention of the name Stockwell.

 

Hannibal composed himself and approached the doctors.  Dr. Stockwell extended his hand, "It's nice to meet you."

 

Hannibal shook his hand.  "Dr. Stockwell?  You wouldn't by any chance be related to a General Hunt Stockwell, would you?"

 

Dr. Stockwell looked surprised.  "Yes, as a matter of fact I am.  He's my father."

 


CHAPTER 5

 

"I don't want him anywhere near, Face.  I mean it BA!"  Murdock yelled. 

 

BA walked up and put his hand across Murdock's mouth.  "Shhh, Fool.  You know we're not supposed to get Face excited.  Now shut up!"

 

Murdock looked over at Face, who was still unconscious.  He pulled BA's hand from his mouth. "Sorry BA.  It's just—"

 

"I know, but you got to be quiet.  Hannibal's talking to the doctors now.  We'll wait for him to get back and then we'll all talk about it later, got it?"

 

"Got it.  Shutting up now."  Murdock walked back to Face's bedside, and picked up his hand.  "You've got to wake up Face.  I think you've had enough beauty sleep."  He stroked Face's cheek. 

 

BA and Frankie watched from the corner of the room.

 

XXXXXXX

 

"Col. Smith, I assure you, I'm nothing like my father," Dr. Ian Stockwell said earnestly.

 

Hannibal locked eyes with Ian.  "Oh, really.  And why would you say something like that to me?"

 

Ian swallowed.  "Well, sir, I know about your arrangement with my father.  About the missions and the pardons.  And I know that my father's heart is made of ice.  Believe me, I know that from experience."

 

"How do I know you didn't want Face to die?  I heard you.  I heard you tell Dr. Bentley here to let him go.  Did you want Face to die?  Did your father instruct you to kill him?"  Hannibal's face was directly in front of Ian's. 

 

Dr. Bentley stepped between them.  "Hey, let's take it down a notch.  Hannibal, I've worked with Ian since he was in residency.  He's a good doctor.  And Ian, Hannibal and the team—they've saved countless lives, risking their own in the process.  It's only natural that Hannibal and the others are suspicious of you."

 

Ian sighed.  "I know that.  I'll make it easy on everyone.  I won't participate in the care of Face.  How's that?  Will that prove to you that I'm not out to get him?"

 

Hannibal took out a cigar, wishing he could light up.  "Oh, you won't participate in Face's care, that's a given.  As for whether or not that proves you're not out to get him, hell no, that doesn't prove a thing."

 

Dr. Bentley placed his hand on Ian's back.  "Why don't you go finish your rounds?  I'll catch up with you later."

 

Ian put his hands in his coat pockets and turned toward Hannibal.  "I wish you all the best.  I really do."  He turned to Dr. Bentley.  "I'll see you later, Cade."  He opened the door and left, pulling the door closed behind him. 

 

Dr. Bentley stepped up to Hannibal.  "He's really not a bad guy.  I don't know much about his father, only that he's – how did Ian put it – a cold-hearted self-serving bastard.  Ian was raised by his mother and hardly ever saw his father.  As for the incident in Templeton's room – I had already shocked him twice.  Ian and I have both seen what happens to patients when they're resuscitated after being 'gone' too long – brain damage, nerve damage.  He was just wanting to let Templeton go to spare him all that.  But I knew that Templeton's a fighter, that he wanted to come back.  So I kept going.  You really should give Ian a chance."

 

"Sorry Doc.  I just can't.  It's just too big of a coincidence that Stockwell's son is a doctor in the very hospital where Face is being treated after an attempt was made on his life."  Hannibal turned toward the door. 

 

Dr. Bentley looked over at Hannibal.  "Maybe Stockwell knows that's what you would think."

 

"Maybe so." 

 

 

XXXXXXX

 

"Hello?"

 

"Is it true?"

 

"Is what true, Ian?"  Stockwell asked.

 

"Did you try to kill Templeton Peck?"  Ian asked, his voice trembling.

 

"Why would I do that, Ian?"  Stockwell hissed.

 

"I don't know, Father.  Why would you do that?  You told me that these men worked for you, performed missions for you.  You never said that you wanted Peck dead!  Is that why you've been calling me and asking about his condition?  And to think I actually thought you were concerned.  I should have known better." Ian's voice grew progressively louder as he spoke.

 

"Don't take that tone with me, Ian.  I won't stand for it." 

 

"Fine.  Get your information somewhere else, Father.  I wash my hands of the whole thing.  I've removed myself from Peck's case."

 

Stockwell spoke, anger apparent in his voice.  "I see.  Well, that is unfortunate.  I guess I could always try to persuade your partner – what is his name—oh yes, Cade Bentley.  I'm sure Dr. Bentley would love to relay information to me.  I have different forms of persuasion I could use."

 

"No, Father.  Cade Bentley is a good man. Don't you touch him," said Ian.

 

"Am I to understand that you're back on the case?" asked Stockwell.

 

"Yes, I'll give you the information you want, just don't hurt Cade.  But I can't work on Peck's case.  There's no way Hannibal Smith is going to let me get close to him."

 

"You don't have to work on Peck.  You just have to keep me in the loop on his condition.  We must talk again soon.  Son."

 

Stockwell hung up the phone.

 

Ian held the receiver to his ear, hearing the dial tone. 

 

XXXXXX

 

Hannibal entered Face's room.  "Frankie, stay with Face.  BA and Murdock, come with me."

 

Frankie walked over to Face's bedside.  BA and Murdock headed toward the door.

 

Hannibal continued.  "We'll be in private family lounge.  It's just three doors down on the right.  We'll fill you in on everything, okay Frankie?"

 

"Sure, Johnny.  No problem.  And don't worry.  I won't leave his side."  Frankie pulled up the chair and sat by the bed.

 

XXXXXX

 

BA spoke first.  "You did the right thing Hannibal.  We can't trust him.  We can't take the chance."

 

"Yeah," chimed in Murdock.  "I don't want him to touch Face!"

 

"Well, Dr. Bentley seems to trust him.  And I trust Dr. Bentley.  But it's just not worth taking the chance with Face's life.  And even if his son was one of the good guys, Stockwell could still find a way to get to him.  Blackmail, threats, you name it.  So we're agreed.  Dr. Stockwell is to remain off Face's case."  Hannibal clamped his teeth on his cigar.  "Okay.  It's getting late.  Why don't the two of you return to the suite, get cleaned up, get some sleep, and come back in the morning.  Then Frankie and I will do the same."

 

"I'll go back and get cleaned up and change my clothes, but I'm sleeping here.  On the couch, " BA said. 

 

"Me too," said Murdock.  "We can bring you and Frankie some clothes too if you want.  They've got showers here."

 

"Okay, that would be great."  Hannibal yawned, the events of the last few days catching up with him. 

 

XXXXXXX

 

Somebody was shining a light in his eyes.  First the left eye.  Then the right eye.  And it hurt.  Face clenched his eyes shut.

 

"Okay, I'll quit.  But only if you open your eyes for me," said a voice.

 

Face slowly opened his eyes.  He started to speak, but realized he had a tube down his throat.  His eyes opened wider.

 

"Templeton, I'm Dr. Bentley.  You're in a hospital, on a ventilator.  We've been waiting for you to wake up.  I'm going to have the respirator removed, and if you do as well as I think you will, then we'll leave it out, okay?  Blink your eyes twice if you understand."

 

Face blinked once, then again.

 

Dr. Bentley turned to Frankie.  "I'll need you to step out of the room for a bit while we remove the respirator and finish our exam.  You can stand right outside the door."

 

Frankie looked at Face then turned to the door.  He pulled the door open, then hesitated.  He had told Hannibal he wouldn't leave Face's side.    He turned back around. "I can't leave, Dr. Bentley.  I told Hannibal I'd stay by his side, and that's what I mean to do."

 

Dr. Bentley smiled.  "I understand.  Then stand in the corner there and stay out of the way, okay?"

 

Frankie stood in the corner, watching Dr. Bentley and the respiratory therapist working with Face, removing the ventilator tube.  He could hear voices in the hallway.  He recognized Hannibal's voice and one of the nurses.  He could just imagine Hannibal's reaction at being told he couldn't enter the room. 

 

A little while later, the ventilator was out and Face was awake.  Dr. Bentley spoke to Face.  "Okay, son, you're doing great.  I know your throat is sore, so don't try to speak.  I'm going to have the nurses bring some ice chips in.  Your friend here can give those to you, okay?"

 

Face nodded. 

 

Dr. Bentley turned to Frankie.  "We're through here for now.  I'll send Hannibal in.  I know he's anxious to get in here."  Dr. Bentley patted Face's leg.  "Get some rest."

 

Dr. Bentley opened the door.  Hannibal rushed in, nearly knocking Dr. Bentley over.  Hannibal went immediately to Face's side.  Dr. Bentley followed him over.  "He's breathing on his own now.  I'm still worried about his wound.  It reopened when we resuscitated him yesterday and we had to re-close it.  It's still showing signs of infection, but he's getting antibiotics.  I don't want him to get overly excited, so let's just keep things nice and calm, okay?  I'm going home now.  The nurses know how to reach me if you need me.  Otherwise, I'll see you tomorrow morning.  Good night, gentlemen."

 

Hannibal turned and shook Dr. Bentley's hand.  "Thanks Doc."

 

Dr. Bentley just smiled and turned to leave. 

 

Hannibal turned back to Face.  "Well, so you decided to join the rest of us, huh?" 

 

Face smiled weakly.  "I..." he tried to speak, but his throat hurt. 

 

"Don't talk now, son.  There's plenty of time for that later."  Hannibal said, stroking Face's hair.  Face closed his eyes.  A nurse brought a cup of ice chips and a spoon and handed them to Hannibal. 

 

A soft snore came from the corner of the room, and Hannibal turned to see Frankie asleep in the chair.  He turned back to Face, thankful for a moment alone with the man he loved as a son.  "Face, I've got some ice chips.  They'll make your throat feel better."

 

Face's eyes fluttered opened.  He smiled.  Hannibal spooned in a couple of ice chips.  Face closed his eyes, savoring the coolness on his throat.  "Thanks," he rasped.

 

Hannibal took another spoonful out and held them to Face's lips.  "Here, you want some more?" 

 

Face nodded. "Yeah, maybe a couple."  His voice was a whisper.  He took the ice chips and again enjoyed the coolness in his throat.

 

Hannibal bent closer to Face.  "I know you have a lot of questions.  And I promise you're going to get answers.  But right now I just want you to concentrate on getting better."

 

"I'm cold," whispered Face.

 

Hannibal pulled the covers up to Face's shoulders, leaving his left arm exposed because of the IV's.  Face smiled a sleepy smile and closed his eyes.  He was asleep almost immediately.  Hannibal sat in the bedside chair and watched Face sleep.  'He looks like a little boy, so innocent,' Hannibal thought.  But Hannibal knew that innocence had been lost a long time ago, in a country far away.  What would have broken most men, only made Face stronger; not that he didn't have moments of sadness.  They'd had a mission in Vietnam a while back.  The memories nearly did them all in.  And they'd dealt with General Chao, the sadistic bastard who ran the prison camp.  Face had kept up his happy facade during the mission, only to break down and drown his sorrows at a seedy bar when the mission was over.  And the nightmares.  They didn't happen every night, but they happened more often than not.  Hannibal had talked to him about the nightmares once, asked him if he wanted to see Dr. Richter.  Face had just looked at him incredulously and said, "Some things you're not meant to forget, Hannibal."

 

Face's breathing had become deeper, more even.  Hannibal knew he was in a deep sleep.  He placed a hand on Face's chest, taking comfort in the rise and fall of each breath.  He put his head in the crook of his other arm and closed his eyes, allowing sleep to overtake him.

 

XXXXXX

 

The phone rang, waking Ellen from her sleep.  She heard Stockwell's voice in the other room.  A minute passed.  Ellen rubbed her eyes, then looked up to see Stockwell standing in the doorway. 

 

 "It's time, Ellen.  Baracas and Murdock are back at the suite.  Santana and Smith are sleeping.  Hurry up and get over there.  And make sure you do it right this time."

 

 

XXXXXX

 

Face could feel the weight of Hannibal's hand on his chest.  Hannibal was sitting a chair, hunched over Face's bed sleeping.  'His back is going to be killing him in the morning,' thought Face.  Across the room, he could see Frankie sleeping in another chair, his legs stretched out in from of him. 

 

Face couldn't decide which hurt worse, his throat or his chest.  All he knew was that he was in pain and he was hot.  He clenched his jaw and squinted his eyes shut, trying to ride out a spasm that seemed to grip his whole body, making him jerk in response to the pain.

 

Hannibal flinched, and slowly lifted up his head.  He stood next to Face, and placed his hand on his forehead.  "My God, Face, you're burning up."  Hannibal turned to Frankie.  "Frankie, wake up.  Frankie!" 

 

Frankie rubbed his eyes and stood.  "Sorry, Hannibal….I must have dozed—"

 

"There's no time for that.  Go to the nurses' station and tell them that Face has a fever.  Go now!" 

 

Frankie glanced at Face, then ran out the door.

 

Face whispered, "Hannibal, I'm okay.  You're just overreacting.  I'm sure it's nothing."

 

"I'm sure you're right Face, but I don't want to take any chances, so you'll just have to humor me."  Hannibal said, pasting a smile on his face. 

 

The nurse came in the room, followed by Frankie.  She took Face's temperature and monitored his blood pressure, pulse, and respirations.  "Mr. Smith, your fever is 103.2.  I'm going to page Dr. Bentley and let him know.  For now, let's put some cool cloths on your forehead, that will help.  I'll also get you something for the pain."

 

Frankie told the nurse, "If you get the cloths for me, then my friend and I can take care of cooling him down."

 

"Follow me," she said.  She and Frankie walked out of the room.

 

Hannibal looked at Face.  Face had closed his eyes, but his jaw was still clenched and his brows knitted together in pain.   His breathing was shallow and ragged.  'How much more are you supposed to take?' thought Hannibal.  'All this pain, the suffering, now the fever.'  He stroked Face's hot cheek. 

 

Frankie came back to the room, a basin of ice water and some small towels in his hands.  He soaked one in the ice the water, squeezed the excess water out, and then placed it across Face's forehead.  "How's that, Face?  Does it feel better?" 

 

Face smiled a weak half-smile and whispered, "Yeah, Frankie.  Thanks."  He grimaced as another spasm of pain hit. 

 

Hannibal held Face's hand.  "Just hang in there, Face."  He turned to Frankie, "I thought she was going to get something for his pain."

 

"She was calling Dr. Bentley when I left the nurses' station.  She'll be here, Johnny.  She'll be here."  Frankie said.

 

"I'm sorry, Frank.  I just hate seeing him suffer like this.  It's just not fair."  Hannibal replied, frustration evident in his voice.

 

The nurse entered the room carrying a tray with syringes.  She placed the tray on the foot of the bed, and picked up the syringes so that Hannibal could see them.  "Dr. Bentley has ordered some prescription strength ibuprofen.  That should help with the pain and the fever.  He said that Mr. Smith can't have anything stronger than that right now because of the respiratory distress he suffered when he was admitted.   I'm also giving him a shot of penicillin for the infection in his surgical wound.  Dr. Bentley said that I should show you the syringes before I injected them into the IV line." 

 

Hannibal looked at the tray.  He knew nothing about medicine, but appreciated what Dr. Bentley was trying to do.  He nodded his head.  "Thanks.  You can inject them now."

 

The nurse took the syringes and injected them into Face's IV line.  "Call if you need anything else or if his symptoms change."  She left the room.

 

Frankie removed the cloth from Face's head and dipped it in the ice water again.  He squeezed out the excess water then folded the cloth and returned it to Face's forehead. 

 

"Hannibal," Face whispered.

 

Hannibal bent down close to Face so he could hear him better.  "Yeah, Face."

 

"I want to go home."

 

"I know you do, Face, but you've got to get well first." Hannibal wiped away a trail of water than had traveled down Face's cheek from the wet cloth.

 

"'m sleepy."

 

"Go to sleep, Face.  I'll be right here.  Just to go sleep."  Hannibal stroked Face's hair, careful not to displace the cool cloth.  Face closed his eyes.  His cheeks were red, flushed like a baby's in sleep. 

 

They stayed that way for an hour.  Frankie on one side, dutifully changing out the cool cloths.  Hannibal on the other side, stroking Face's hair or his cheek, holding his hand.  Face slept in a fitful sleep, an occasional raspy moan escaping his lips. 

 

Face began to become more restless, rocking his head back and forth, squirming under the covers.  "No, God, no."  He pulled clutched his side.  His eyes few open, glassy and unfocused.  He tried to sit up.

 

Hannibal pushed Face back down onto the bed.  "Face, you've got to be still." 

 

Face tried to free himself from Hannibal's grip.  The dressing covering his wound was slowly turning red.  "No!  Not again.  Please, not again!" he rasped.

 

Hannibal yelled to Frankie, "Go get the nurse.  I think his fever has gotten higher!  Hurry!"

 

Frankie ran to the door.

 

XXXXXXX

 

Ellen stood outside Face's room.  She cracked the door slightly and peeked inside.  She could see Hannibal and Frankie hovering over Face.  'Damn it,' she thought.  'They're both awake.  NOW what am I supposed to do?'

 

Suddenly the door to Face's room opened. 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

Frankie froze.  Was it….could it be….she was dead….

 

Ellen turned and ran down the hall.  Frankie followed. 

 

Ellen continued to run.  She glanced over her shoulder and saw Frankie catching up to her.  Just as she turned her head around, she ran into something….make that someone.

 

"Whoa, Miss, take it easy.  No running in the halls.  Is there something I can help you with?" 

 

Ellen tried to sidestep the man. 

 

"STOP THAT WOMAN!" yelled Frankie.

 

Ian Stockwell grabbed Ellen's arm.  Ellen tried to squirm out of his grip, but could not.  Frankie caught up to them both. 

 

"Don't let her go," Frankie told Ian.  Then he turned to the nurse at the desk.  "Tim Smith's fever is getting higher.  He's getting restless."

 

The nurse looked up from her paperwork.  "I'll page Dr. Bentley."

 

Frankie turned back to Ian and Ellen. 

 

Ian spoke first.  "Okay, what's going on here?"  His grip was still tight on Ellen's arm. 

 

"Uhh, well, this is Ellen Bancroft.   We thought she was dead.  That's the whole reason we're down here.  I just caught her standing outside Fa—I mean Tim's room."  Frankie said. 

 

Ian motioned with his head toward the waiting room.  He pulled Ellen into the waiting area.  Frankie looked up and down the hallway and followed. 

 

XXXXXXXX

 

Murdock and BA exited the taxi, each carrying a duffle bag with clothes and toiletries.  They each walked briskly into the hospital, toward the elevators, neither man saying a word, both men anxious to see how Face was doing. 

 

The doors opened and they stepped out.  Walking toward Face's room, they could hear voices in the waiting room.  One of them sounded like Frankie. 

 

BA and Murdock entered the waiting area, stunned to find Frankie talking with Ian Stockwell and Ellen Bancroft. 

 

BA reached the trio in three long strides.  "Frankie, what are you doing with Ellen Bancroft and Stockwell's son?"

 

Ellen gasped and looked at Ian.  "You're his son?  Then let go of me!"  Ellen tried to free herself from Ian's grasp, but he refused to let go.

 

"Well, BA…Johnny sent me to the get the nurse…Face has a high fever….and when I opened the door, Ellen was standing there.  She ran and I chased her down the hall.  She ran into Dr. Stockwell here and he stopped her.  That's all I know."  Frankie said, nervously.

 

"Face has a fever?  Is he okay?"  Murdock asked. 

 

"Uh, I don't know if he is or not.  I mean, he was, but then the fever hit and he started getting restless.  Johnny's trying to keep him calm.  His side's bleeding again though."

 

Murdock tossed the duffle bag he had been carrying onto the floor and ran toward Face's room. 

 

BA tossed his bag toward Murdock's. "Frankie, you stay here and watch them.  I'll be right back."  BA followed Murdock to Face's room.

 

Ian thrust Ellen to Frankie.  "You watch her.  I'm going to check on Face."

 

Frankie grasped Ellen's arms and Ian turned to leave. 

 

"Go to hell," Ellen hissed.

 

Frankie tightened his grip and smiled.  "You first."

 

XXXXXXXX

 

Hannibal relaxed his grip on Face's shoulders.  Too weak to fight against Hannibal, Face had stopped straining.  Now his head turned side to side.  Raspy, incoherent mumbling came from his lips. 

 

Murdock opened the door and entered, BA right behind him.  BA was about to speak when the nurse entered the room.  She took Face's temperature and other vital signs. 

 

Ian Stockwell rushed in and went directly to Face's side.  He touched Face's forehead and frowned.  He reached toward the bandage on Face's side when a strong black hand grabbed his hand and pulled him back.

 

"You ain't gonna touch him," BA growled.

 

"Look, I'm just trying to help."  He turned to the nurse. "What are his vitals?"

 

"His temperature is 104.6, Doctor.  His pulse is 120, respirations 20, BP 150/100."

 

"Okay, let's continue the cold compresses, get a cooling blanket.  We've got to get his fever down.  Get 100 mg of metoprolol for his blood pressure.  And bring me a suture kit, 5-0 Prolene.  Call the lab, let me know the results of the cultures from his wound."

 

The nurse hurried out of the room. 

 

BA maintained his grip on Ian.

 

Murdock spoke, his voice eerily calm.  "You are not going to touch him.  You'll kill him."

 

Ian refused to give up.  "If you don't let me treat him, he could die.  I swear to you on my soul that I am not going to hurt him."

 

"Stockwell doesn't have a soul.  What makes you think that you do?"  Murdock spoke, slowly.

 

"Let him go BA."

 

BA turned toward Hannibal.  "What?"

 

"I said let him go.  He's not going to do anything to harm Face with us in the room.  Now let him go."  Hannibal commanded. 

 

BA relaxed his grip, and Ian began to examine Face.  Murdock stood next to Ian, watching every movement.   BA walked over to Hannibal's side. 

 

"Hannibal, there's something you should know."  BA spoke, his voice low.  He took a breath, held it, then released it.  "Ellen is alive.  Frankie's got her in the waiting room."

 

Hannibal looked from BA to Face, and then back to BA.  "We've got to get out of here."

 

XXXXXXXX

 

Between the cooling blankets and the medications, Face's condition slowly stabilized.  Ellen had been brought into Face's room and locked in the bathroom.  After placing her there, she had started hitting the door and screaming.  BA had merely opened the door and growled, "If you don't shut up on your own, I'll do it for you."  She had been silent ever since.

 

Ian Stockwell occupied a chair in the corner of the room.  He would get up occasionally to check on Face, then silently walk back to chair. 

 

Murdock had pulled a chair up beside Face's bed.  He folded his arms and placed them on the mattress, then rested his head in the crook of his right arm.  Soon he was asleep. 

 

Frankie had gone to the visitor's lounge to sleep on one of the couches.

 

Hannibal and BA stayed in Face's room, chairs pulled side by side in the corner opposite Ian Stockwell. 

 

"We've got to get to the bottom of this, BA.  I think you and I should have a little chat with our guest."

 

Hannibal rose from his chair and headed to the bathroom, BA behind him.  They opened the door to find Ellen sitting on the floor, knees drawn up to her chest, her head resting on them.  She snapped her head up.  "What do you want?"

 

Hannibal spoke.  "We want to know why you faked your death.  We want to know why you sent the note.  We want to know how Stockwell is involved in this.  And we want to know why the hell you would put your own brother through all of this."

 

"He is NOT my brother," Ellen spat.  "Stockwell just told him that so that I could get close to him.  He told my father that Face was his son because he wanted the diary.  I sent you the note telling you Stockwell tried to have Face killed.  You could have left when you got it. The way I see it, you blew it when you decided to stay."

 

BA pulled Ellen up onto her feet.  "Look, lady, YOU blew it when you tried to mess with Face."

 

Hannibal put his hand on BA's chest, "Calm down, Sergeant.  We're going to get to the bottom of this."

 

Ellen wrapped her arms around herself.  "There are things you don't know, things you can't know.  Stockwell will kill you, me….anyone he thinks will get in his way.  He has the means to do it, too.  No questions asked."

 

There was a tap on the door.  Hannibal cracked it open. 

 

"My father just paged me.  He's going to want to know about Peck's condition.  What do you want me to do?" asked Ian. 

 

"Tell him the truth.  Tell him Face is stabilized.  Tell him you convinced us to let you treat him."  Hannibal said.  He turned to BA.  "Go with him, BA."

 

"My pleasure."  BA pulled the door the rest of the way open and escorted Ian out of the room, leaving Hannibal and Ellen alone.

 

"Okay, Ellen, there's nobody here but us.  Tell me everything.  If you're completely honest with me, I might let you live.  You see, while it's true that the guys and I took and oath not to kill again, I will have no trouble killing someone who is supposed to be already dead.  Do I make myself clear?" Hannibal glared at Ellen as he spoke.

 

Ellen merely nodded her head, defeated.

 

"My father's diary had a section devoted to Stockwell.  My father and Stockwell worked with a North Vietnamese general, I think his name was Chao.  They had arranged for the bank in Hanoi to be robbed.  My father was able to launder the money and place it in different accounts.  It was a three-way split.  I don't know what Stockwell did with his part of the money.  General Chao used his to set up a drug trafficking operation.  And my father used his to start a new life away from my mother and me." Ellen paused. 

 

"Go on," said Hannibal.

 

"Well, Stockwell promised me a new life, a new identity, if I gave him the complete diary and if I…" Ellen paused, looking at the floor.

 

"If you what?" asked Hannibal.

 

"If I killed Face."

 

Hannibal pushed Ellen up against the wall, his face an inch from hers.  "Is that why you're here tonight?  To finish the job?"

 

Ellen swallowed.  "Yes.  I didn't want to, but …"

 

"Yeah.  Right."

 

Hannibal stepped to the door. "You know, by hurting the one person in this world who would have given his life for you, you've made far more powerful enemies than Stockwell."

 

Hannibal left, locking the door behind him.

 

Ellen began to cry.

 

XXXXX

 

Ian and BA walked to the doctors' lounge and called his father. 

 

"Yes."

 

"Father, I got your page."

 

"What is Peck's condition?" asked Stockwell.

 

"He is stabilized.  Smith actually allowed me to treat him.  Must be the Stockwell charm." Ian said, smiling at BA.

 

"Has he had any ….visitors?" Stockwell asked.

 

"Yes.  Everyone is relieved that his fever has come down.  I believe he's going to be fine.  He just needs rest now, and a complete course of antibiotics."  Ian said.

 

"Do they have Ellen?"

 

"Yes.  They stay in the room with him."

 

"So, they have Ellen in the room.  That will have to be remedied."

 

Stockwell hung up the phone.

 

"Yes, I'll keep you posted."  Ian said.  Then he hung up the phone.

 

BA walked to the door.  "Let's go."

 

XXXXXXX

 

Hannibal met up with BA and Ian in the hallway. 

 

"I've got to get some rest," said Ian. "I'm going back to the doctors' lounge for a nap.  If you need me, don't hesitate to come and get me." 

 

Hannibal nodded.  "Okay.  Uh, listen.  Thanks for helping Face.  You didn't have to do that."

 

Ian smiled.  "Yes I did.  I'm a doctor.  It's what I do."  He turned and went back to the doctor's lounge.

 

Hannibal and BA stopped outside Face's room.  Hannibal yawned.  BA looked at the colonel, trying to remember the last time Hannibal had gotten any sleep. 

 

"Hannibal, why don't you go in there with Frankie and get some sleep.  I'll stay with Face and Murdock.  You ain't gonna do anybody any good if you don't get some sleep."

 

"I don't know, BA.   What if Stockwell makes a move?  We've got to be ready."

 

BA nodded.  "I agree. But you're walking in your sleep.  Take a nap.  I'll come get you in an hour." 

 

 

"Maybe you're right." Hannibal opened the door the Face's room.  "I just want to check on Face, make sure he's okay."

 

Hannibal and BA walked in Face's room quietly.  Face was asleep.  Murdock was still asleep, his head buried in the crook of his arm.

 

Hannibal whispered, "Keep an eye on things here.  And come and get me in one hour."

 

"You got it, Hannibal."  BA walked Hannibal to the door. 

 

XXXXXXX

 

Face began to moan.  He slowly opened his eyes. 

 

Murdock stirred, then lifted his head to see Face smiling at him.

 

"Hey Face.  Welcome back.  How do you feel?" 

 

"My throat hurts," whispered Face.

 

"You want some ice?  I can get you some ice.  Or you want a Popsicle?  You can have a Popsicle.  They've got lots of flavors.  There's grape, orange, cherry, banana…"

 

"Shut up, Fool," said BA.  "You supposed to stay calm so he can stay calm."  BA turned to Face.  "Now, do you want some ice or a Popsicle?"

 

Face smiled at BA.  "Popsicle."

 

"Murdock, go down and get Face a Popsicle." BA turned to Face.  "What flavor do you want, little brother?"

 

"Surprise me," whispered Face.

 

Murdock grinned.  "Ooh, surprises.  I love surprises.  I'll be right back."  Murdock practically bounced out of the room. 

 

BA and Face watched Murdock leave, still muttering about surprises. 

 

"Crazy fool will probably bring you one of every flavor," joked BA.

 

Face smiled, then his face paled as he focused on a figure behind BA.  "BA—" He reached out toward BA, nearly pulling out the IV's in his arm.  BA bent over Face, pushing his arms back down.

 

"Hey, Face.  What's wrong?  You can't move around like that."

 

BA could tell Face was trying to speak to him.  He bent closer to Face, then felt the hypodermic needle as it entered the back of his neck.  He tried to turn, but passed out instead, falling on the floor beside Face's bed. 

 

Face reached out, trying to catch BA.  He fell back against the pillows as he fought a spasm of pain, his eyes clenched shut. He could hear movement in the room.  Taking a deep breath, Face pulled the IV's out of his arm.  He pushed himself up slowly, grimacing at the pain from the movements.  He placed one foot on the floor, then the other.  Too weak to stand, he fell to the floor, pulling the cardiac leads off his chest.  The heart monitor began to shrill.  He lifted his head and watched as Ellen hurried out the door.

 

Face tried to call out to her, but was only able to whisper, "Ellen."  Then he lapsed into unconsciousness.

 

Murdock turned the corner of the hall toward Face's room.  Two nurses rushed by him.  As they opened the door to Face's room, he could hear the cardiac monitor alarm.  Murdock stood in the doorway.  He could see BA and Face on the floor, the nurses bent over them. 

 

The bathroom door was open.

 

Murdock dropped the Popsicles on the floor.

 

XXXXXXXX

 

Ellen was nearly to the service elevators when she heard footsteps behind her. 

 

"Going somewhere?"

 

Ellen turned around.  "Oh, it's you.  I thought you were one of the A-Team."

 

"It would be better for you if I were."

 

Ellen was pushed into the service elevator.  She screamed.

 

 

TBC

 


Tangled Web by LovinFace
Tangled Web 2 by LovinFace

 

 


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