Warnings: Minor Violence, maybe a swear word or two.
Summary: Murdock dies-- but would I really kill Murdock? *Heh heh heh * Only one way to find out...
GLASS HEARTS Part 1
A familiar black van sped down a remote Los Angeles highway as the three occupants returned from their latest mission. All were very tired and sore from their excursions.
Hannibal lit up yet another cigar despite a menacing glare from B.A., who was in the driver's seat. Face sat in his usual place and glanced at the empty seat to his left. "I can't believe Murdock turned us down for a field trip to Crystal Lake ESPECIALLY after what happened the last time we all went there together!"
The colonel opened his mouth to interject something but Face interrupted. "And don't you say anything about that girl on the side of the road, Hannibal! It was my duty to come to the aid of a lady in distress... even though Decker was using the poor girl as bait for us..."
Hannibal smirked and turned back to the front.
"Well, I'm glad the crazy foo' wasn't there. Not only did that mean we didn't fly, but I didn't hafta listen to his crazy gibba jabba eitha!"
As B.A. was going through his `Can't stand the crazy fool' spiel, Face happened to recognize the subject of their attention out the window. "B.A. stop the van!"
Startled by Face's sudden command, the big guy slammed on the brakes. All three men looked to their right at a little gas station where Murdock was standing in the middle of the parking lot. He was surrounded by four very mean looking bikers with 2X4s and other instruments of violence.
Face slid the van door open and pulled out his gun. "What the hell is Murdock doing way out here?!" The team immediately exited the vehicle to help out their comrade.
Hannibal led the way and soon they had closed in on the bad guys. "Okay slimeballs... back away from him slowly and drop your weapons." Murdock's expression turned from intense fear to utter relief upon hearing the colonel's voice.
"Not necessarily in that order," Face added with a smirk.
Noticing the three strangers' guns for the first time, the small gang backed off a fraction. One of the black leather clad men focused his attention on the newcomers. "Look, pops... this is between us and the retard here."
"I'm not going to tell you walking oil slicks again to back off." Hannibal showed his anger at hearing Murdock being referred to in such a manner. "When you mess with him, it becomes our business".
Knowing that the white haired stranger meant what he said, the attackers immediately backed off and mounted their bikes. The largest of the four (apparently the group's leader) looked back at the team with a huge grin on his face. He revved his motorcycle twice before leading his troop onto the highway and out of sight.
Face looked relieved. "I can't believe they left without a fight, Hannibal."
The colonel just smiled around his cigar and patted a stunned looking Murdock on the shoulder. "The important thing is that they left, Lieutenant. Hey, where's your jacket Cap'n?"
Murdock was about to respond when an annoyed B.A. cut in. "Man, you ain't nothin' but trouble fool! Just when I was enjoyin' being rid of you, you show up again. Don't you ever go away?"
Suddenly a loud gunshot echoed through the parking lot. The team immediately hit the concrete and looked for the perpetrator. "He's on the roof!" Hannibal spotted the gunman, who was climbing down the side of the building to his bike.
After a brief gunfight, the grungy assailant sped off on his Harley.
Face stood up and dusted his suit off. "I'm getting too old for this line of work, Hannibal!"
When his leader didn't respond with a smart-assed comment, Face turned around and immediately blanched. He and Hannibal were visibly in shock to find B.A. sitting on the ground with tears streaming down his face, cradling a bleeding, limp Murdock against his chest.
The sergeant's brown eyes met his own blue ones and in that moment Face realized he'd lost his best friend. *****
GLASS HEARTS Part 2
Three hours had passed since the spirit of the A-Team was wheeled away in a body bag. The mourners were silent in their dingy motel room, each lost in the memories of their fallen comrade.
Face was laying on one bed crying quietly. Life had never been fair for the light-haired lieutenant. In fact, it had often been cruel. Maybe that was what had caused him to open up to the lanky chopper pilot back in `Nam. Murdock was the one person Face could count on and confide in. He was the only friend who ever really understood him.
~~~ Face was sitting outside the barracks watching the hueys take off and land. Finally he spotted who he'd been looking for and jumped up to meet his best friend.
Captain `Howling Mad' Murdock removed his flight gear and jumped out of his bird. After completing his post flight checklist he stretched, pulling the kinks out of his back. He turned, heading for the showers and almost knocked Face down in the process.
"Oh Jesus, Temp! You nearly gave me a heart attack!" Murdock reached out to steady the 18 year old beside him. He noticed the dark circles under his friend's eyes and knew the nightmares that had been plaguing Templeton were back in full force. Murdock shook his head in anger. The 18 year old should have been dreaming about girls and fishing trips... not guns, blood, and explosions.
"They're back, H.M... I tried to focus on something nice like you said, but these damn dreams won't let me sleep at all. Please help me!"
Desperate tears began making trails down the younger man's face and Murdock immediately pulled him into a hug. "It's okay, Temp... Shhhh, I'll help you." Ignoring the teasing wolf whistles from the other officers, Murdock led his friend back to the barracks.
After Face was settled in his cot, Murdock pulled a chair up beside him and talked in soothing tones. He spoke of his hopes and dreams of becoming an astronaut... he talked of learning to fly and the exhilaration he felt when he was soaring above the clouds. And if Templeton was still awake, Murdock would move on to speaking about the happier moments of his childhood. Unfortunately there weren't many, and almost all of them had happened before his fifth birthday.
However, Face always fell asleep as Murdock was talking and he never had nightmares after one of their amateur therapy sessions. ~~~~~ As Face remembered the many times Murdock had played `big brother' to him and helped him adjust to the horrors of Vietnam, he realized that he'd never once thanked him for keeping him sane throughout his tour of duty.
Many times the pilot risked his own ass to save his unit and Face couldn't think of one time he'd ever shown any type of gratitude. *I took him for granted, and now he's gone.* Peck curled up into a fetal position and cried himself to sleep.
Colonel John `Hannibal' Smith was completely numb. He lay on the other bed in the room and listened to his Lieutenant's muffled sobs... afraid to confront his own emotions.
*Murdock's dead* Like a slide show playing inside his head, Smith began remembering all the missions the team had been on. Murdock's smiling face popped up repeatedly in his mind... Murdock as the Range Rider... Murdock howling on takeoff... Murdock playing fetch with Billy in the park... Murdock as the director shooting the film `Closed For Remodeling'... Murdock taking the bullet meant for himself....
Hannibal closed his eyes and angrily clenched his fists. *Damn you, Murdock!! Why? Why did you have to get yourself killed?!*
Why Murdock? He was one of the nicest, most decent individuals Smith ever had the pleasure of meeting. His child-like outlook on life made each mission easier to get through. He carried a spark that no one in the world could ever hope to replace.
Glass Hearts Part 3
Hannibal's mind wandered back to a time when Murdock was about as sane as they came. It was during their first tour in `Nam when Face hadn't even entered the war and B.A. was fighting with a completely different unit stationed in Saigon.
He and Murdock were grounded deep in enemy territory after having been blown out of the sky by the VC's. With the rest of their unit dead, they set off on foot with limited supplies and no radio. ~~~~~
The two exhausted men walked for hours through the dense jungle, relying solely on Murdock's heightened sense of direction to guide them. Hannibal finally decided to set up camp for the night.
After making themselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, the men began talking to keep their minds off the situation at hand.
"So what do you plan to do with your life when the war is over, Captain?"
Murdock ran his fingers through his hair as he pondered the question. "Ya know, I've been thinking about that a lot, Hannibal... I'm already doing what I want. I guess I'm a pilot at heart, although it would be nice to fly without getting shot at every once in awhile. How `bout you?"
Smith chuckled. "Me? I've always wanted to be an actor."
"An actor?" The pilot obviously didn't expect that answer.
"Yeah... I've always wanted to give it a try. Maybe play the part of a great misunderstood villain I'd be good at it." Hannibal ignored Murdock's amused smirk and offered his companion something to eat.
H.M. gratefully took the almost edible army rations. As he tried to figure out what exactly he was eating, he looked at the Colonel. "Mmmm, just like mom used to make!"
Colonel Smith laughed. "Your family's going to be worried if we don't make it back to base before they list us as MIA."
Murdock's expression turned somber and the colonel knew he must have hit a nerve. "Nah, they split when I was twelve."
"Your parents abandoned you?!"
"Oh no my mother died when I was five. My dad and brother left town six years ago." Not wanting the man to pity him, H.M. continued. "But I'm really glad they did because I was taken in by a great man who taught me how to fly anything with wings on it."
"Well, I bet he misses you."
Murdock smiled thinly and nodded. He didn't feel like telling the colonel that he'd recently received a telegram saying his best friend and mentor, Wesley Evergreen, died in a plane crash just a few months back. "I miss him too."
With a faraway look in his eyes, Hannibal nodded. "Well we'd better try to get some sleep, soldier. I'll take the first watch and wake you in a few hours."
The pilot nodded and curled up on the cold ground to sleep. ~~~~~
Hannibal knew the man Murdock spoke of was dead. There was something in H.M.'s eyes that screamed out `I AM ALONE IN THE WORLD PLEASE LOVE ME!'.
Hannibal slowly became aware of his surroundings again. Now the only sound in the room was the television softly playing in the background. *Face must've cried himself to sleep.*
GLASS HEARTS Part 4
Bosco `B.A.' Baracus felt like he was dying a slow painful death. All he could think of was his last words to Murdock. *Just when I was enjoyin' being rid of you, you show up again. Don't you ever go away?* Once again the young pilot had gone to extraordinary lengths to prove the sergeant wrong.
There were so many times B.A. had done or said horrible things to try to hurt the pilot. The banter between the crazy man and B.A. was mostly innocent. However, the surly sergeant had managed to strike a nerve every once in awhile. The moment that stuck out the most in his mind had not happened recently, but over a year ago.
The team had been hired to handle a hijacking situation at Beller Air. Murdock had arrived late for the briefing after being declared `sane' and released by one of his former doctors. Since he was late, Hannibal asked B.A. to brief him on the way to the airport.
*Why do I got to be the one always bein' stuck with this crazy fool?* As soon as the words were out of his mouth B.A. saw a look of utter sadness cross the younger man's face. Murdock looked like his puppy had just been run over in front of him.
Then, as quickly as it had come, the dismal expression was gone-- replaced by the captain's normal playful self. It had taken a lot of self control for the big guy to keep his `tough guy' image during the exchange. He meant to apologize to the pilot later for hurting his feelings, knowing that Murdock was probably burying his true emotions as usual. Unfortunately the trauma of finding himself on an airplane with H.M. temporarily blinded in a firefight had distracted him from his intentions.
And now it was too late...
As the early morning sun danced into the motel room, Hannibal arose feeling heavy and despondent. It took him a few minutes to remember why. He glanced around at his troops. *My remaining troops.* B.A. had finally bunked down on the end of Face's bed. They both began to stir, perhaps sensing the scrutiny from their leader.
Just as Hannibal was about to wish them a dreary good morning, he saw an image of the outside of the VA hospital flash across the tv. He picked up the remote and turned up the volume. Each man's eyes were glued to the screen, expecting to hear a news report on the death of H.M. Murdock.
"Hi, this is June Braxton of Channel 4 action news coming to you live from Crystal Lake to share with you a heartwarming tale of survival and courage." The petite brunette stepped aside to reveal about thirty-five men, a handful of which were orderlies recognizable by their solid white uniforms. Some of the patients were in wheel chairs and a few were even in straightjackets but all seemed to be having the time of their life. "They are your brothers, your fathers, your uncles and your sons. What do they have in common? These forgotten soldiers bravely fought for our country and they each paid a heavy price for the freedom you and I enjoy today. They lost their sanity."
The camera panned right to reveal a familiar face. "I'm standing here with Dr. Alan Richter, who has agreed to an interview. Dr. Richter, could you tell us a little about what's going on here?"
"Certainly Ms. Braxton. Every summer we like to reward the patients by taking them on this weekend retreat. We work very hard with these veterans to help them get their lives and minds back in order. That often leads to stress which can be counter productive in therapy, so we came up with a way to help them unwind away from the hospital setting."
"I see. Are any of these patients dangerous? How do you keep track of them all with only a few orderlies about?"
Richter chuckled. "All these guys are harmless, I assure you. The dangerous patients are kept in a different facility in the city. As for keeping track, if you'll notice-- each patient is wearing a certain color arm band which coincides with the arm band worn by his doctor." Richter pointed to the navy blue band on his left upper arm. "This serves two purposes. The first is obviously to link patient to his doctor in case of emergency. This also helps to break them down into smaller, more manageable groups. There's also the...."
Richter was interrupted by one of the patients, (also donning a navy blue arm band) running up to him. Hannibal dropped the remote when he noticed the lanky patient.
"MURDOCK?!" All three men shouted in unison.
Insert voice clip of Gomer Pyle going `SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE'!
GLASS HEARTS 5/5
All three men leaned in closer to the television set. An atomic bomb could have exploded next door and the men wouldn't have moved.
"Hey doc!" Murdock politely nodded to the news reporter before addressing Richter again. "Doc, ya gotta come quick Mickey thinks he's Jaques Cousteau and he's fixin' to go on a deep sea expedition in the middle of the lake." Murdock pointed to a Mickey Mouse doll who appeared to be stuck to a tree. "I tied him to the tree with some fishing line so you'd have a chance to talk him down before the tide comes in and Billy agreed to watch him for me."
Richter nodded patiently, patted the pilot's shoulder and smiled his apologies to the newscaster before tending to his delusional patient. Hannibal picked the remote up off the floor and turned the television off.
Face was the first to speak. "Guys, I think I just saw a ghost. She said it was live how could that footage be live?!"
"Face, call the tv station-- verify that the footage was in fact live. B.A., get the van ready. I'll get us some breakfast at the diner across the street. We'll meet at the van in five minutes." The three men instantly sprang into action. *****
"I don't believe it!" Face tried to shake himself from the emotional shock he was experiencing as B.A. drove them toward Crystal Lake. "Alive Murdock's alive!"
"Hannibal, if the crazy man's at the lake who was the...."
"I don't know B.A. Let's just get a hold of Murdock first, then we'll worry about pseudo Murdock back there."
"Hey Mickey, stop me if you've heard this one." Murdock glanced over at his fishing buddy. The three foot tall stuffed Disney character wore a red plaid flannel shirt with blue overalls and a miniature fishing hat (decorated with tiny lures). He also had on a tiny navy armband (at Murdock's insistence). A very small fishing pole was carefully taped to his hands.
"Two guys are in a bar watching `Gone With the Wind' on the television. One of the guy's dog sits at his master's feet watching the movie intently. The dog growls when the Yankees burn down Tara. He drools when Rhett carries Scarlett up to the bedroom and he cries when Rhett walks out the door in the final scene.
Finally the other man leans over to his friend and says, `I can't believe how your dog is reacting to the movie!'
`Neither can I,' says the first guy. `He hated the book.'"
Murdock snickered to his companion. "Get it? He hated the book! What do you mean `what's so funny about it?' It's a dog dogs can't read... Well no, I can't prove it but.... Aw heck, Mickey it was just a joke! Lighten up!"
Suddenly Murdock heard some rustling coming from the woods to his right. That meant either one of the patients had snuck around the cabin and into the woods without being spotted by an orderly, (highly unlikely), or someone had jumped the security fence and was making their way toward camp.
Images of gunfire, blood, and death assaulted the pilot. He immediately tensed and reached for his gun. It took him a few seconds to remember he carried no weapon and these weren't the jungles of Vietnam. Bringing himself to a defensive crouch, he ignored both Billy's growling and Mickey's frightened inquiries.
The next thing he knew hands were grabbing at him. He struggled briefly before recognizing the cold metal pressing against his cheek was B.A.'s gold chains. The big guy had Murdock in a tight bear hug. This left the lanky pilot more than a little stunned.
Murdock, wondering if B.A. had flipped his lid, finally pushed himself out of the sergeant's powerful grip only to become trapped once again by Face and then Hannibal. After Smith released him the captain backed up from his best friends. Since his last stay at the Hanoi Hilton, Murdock didn't feel comfortable being touched. The only people he tolerated it from was the three men before him.
"Geez guys... It was only one mission! Pull yourself together! Billy and I'll be back with you after the retreat."
B.A. had tears in his eyes. As if that wasn't shocking enough for the captain, Face began stammering. "You were... w-we saw you... and...."
"We thought you were dead, Cap'n." Hannibal pulled out a cigar and lit it. He then explained the situation that nearly tore apart their lives. Murdock listened with shocked interest as Smith ended with seeing H.M. on the news.
"I have just one question... did they get my good side on tv?"
(The scene cuts with B.A. reaching for Murdock's throat...)
Hmmmm... for a sequal I'm thinking twin brothers maybe. Or should I come up with something more original? p>