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This page last viewed: 2017-06-24 and has been viewed 1016 times
Warnings: Some Language.
Holiday: Poetry and the Creative Mind Day (April 11th)
Title: Poetry in Motion
Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there's no particular virtue in doing things the way they always have been done. - Rudolf Flesch
Hannibal watched through narrowed eyes as his man crept through the underbrush. It wasn't a job he liked sending any of his men on, and he usually preferred giving something like this to his more experienced guys. But it was the kid's turn, and he couldn't place that life above any others.
All he could do now was wait and hope the kid came back in one piece.
Or just came back, period.
Guiltily reminding himself that he had five other men on this patrol, he took a fast look at each of their positions. Okay. Ready, waiting. He smiled softly. All good men. Seasoned the way only this God-forsaken place could do - fast, with few second chances. The longest any of them had been in country was five months.
He looked back at his newest. And froze.
The kid wasn't where he should be.
He wasn't anywhere.
Hannibal looked over at BA, the closest to him, some forty feet away. A second later BA sensed his CO's look and turned his head. They both knew something was wrong. Sure, there was a point where they would've lost sight of the kid, but not yet. Not there.
So where was he?
Hannibal glanced around at the others. They were further behind, but were catching on to the fact that something was up. That wasn't good, either. Patrols were nerve-wracking enough without having one of the team suddenly disappear into thin air.
Hannibal waited another minute. When there was still no sign of the kid, he had to accept the worst. Sighing heavily, he signaled BA to move up and take the kid's place. He and the rest of the men also moved, more slowly, behind him. They all knew they would stay closer to BA, knew the enemy must be closer than they had thought.
They remained spread out, watching for booby traps. Hannibal had drilled them over and over about that. A stick stuck in the ground, a small bit of paper stuck in the bark of a tree - anything that didn't belong. Even if it looked like trash from an old camp.
Nothing was what it appeared.
They stopped again. BA had disappeared, but where Hannibal had expected him to, and when. It would take two, maybe three minutes, before Hannibal would have reason to worry. If BA didn't reappear, it would be time for a strategic retreat and a quick call for an air strike.
Hannibal pulled the guys to a halt. He could sense their tension and didn't like it. The jungle did strange enough things to men's minds; something like this could spook them into shooting too soon, too wild. He watched the jungle ahead, waiting. Feeling spooked himself.
Suddenly there was movement up ahead. His weapon ready, he squinted, trying to see who it was. It wasn't the face he was hoping for. He tensed, one hand on his gun, the other signaling the others. Then he realized the VC moving toward him had his hands on his head. So did the one behind him. The third man was BA. And from the way they were moving, the rest of the area was clean.
Relief turned to confusion and then disbelief as three more VC appeared behind BA. And trailing behind them all was the kid.
Hannibal waited until the prisoners were secured before pulling the kid aside. He frankly didn't know whether he should congratulate him or slug him.
"So...I got the drop on them."
"How? You didn't do what you were supposed to."
"That wasn't the best way."
"It wasn't...and since when did you become the expert?"
The kid at least had the good sense to look embarrassed. "I'm not an expert, sir, but begging the Colonel's pardon - I was there, you weren't. They were too close to do it the way we planned. So I had to improvise. I'm sorry if it caused problems, but it worked. The other way..." He shrugged, no longer embarrassed.
Hannibal took a deep breath. The debate between slap on shoulder and fist in mouth continued. "So just how did you capture them?"
"Uh, aerial assault, sir."
"Yessir." The kid squirmed under Hannibal's glare, but went on. "I saw them up ahead. The ground cover was such that I couldn't sneak up on them that way. They were prepping to move out, and I couldn't have gotten back in time to warn you without giving myself away. With the weapons cache they had, you wouldn't have stood a chance, Colonel. So I really had no choice."
"No choice in what? You still haven't explained..."
"I climbed a tree, and maneuvered my way closer that way. When their leader got below me, I just kinda dropped down on him. The rest decided to drop their weapons when they saw him with a knife to his throat. And that's when BA showed up."
"You climbed a tree?"
"Well, yeah. I mean, I used to do it all the time back at the...at home. When I wanted to sneak out at night. So when I saw what the situation was here, it just seemed like the thing to do."
"What if they had seen you?"
The kid just smiled. "According to BA, you guys didn't, and you knew I was out there."
Hannibal just shook his head and walked away, hiding a smile. He no longer felt the urge to slug his new lieutenant - but they were going to have a long, long talk when they got back to base.
Holiday: Richter Scale Day (April 26th)
Title: One to Ten
"So, Murdock, on a scale of one to ten, how are you feeling today?"
Murdock sighed. He hated this scale thing, but it seemed to be standard fare for shrinks. He thought carefully before answering. He was supposed to be honest, and with Richter, it wasn't too hard. If he ignored certain aspects of his life, anyway.
But Richter was a shrink, after all. Give the wrong answer, however honestly, and it could poke the guy's antennae up. Which could be a bad thing. He might decide a change in medication was needed, or maybe a new therapy group. Or worse yet - 'homework'. Yeah, that could be bad.
Then again, it could be a good thing. He wasn't feeling quite up to snuff. He knew it wasn't the meds. But the therapy groups he was in just weren't...exciting. The same people, the same issues, day after day, week after week. And he wasn't allowed to be as expressive as he liked in them, either. A couple of the therapists got pretty short-tempered about things like that. Everything had to be...standard. So maybe he could get into something new. Where he could be a little more...creative.
Murdock glanced up at Richter. A lot depended on the doc's mood, too. Usually he was pretty mellow, but sometimes he acted like he really expected Murdock to work at this. And most times, Murdock didn't really feel like it. It wasn't that he liked be crazy. Nobody liked it. But there was some security in it, too. The meds would take him so far, and that was okay. That kept things on an even keel. Kept him from going the places he'd been that had gotten him thrown in here in the first place. But he wasn't ready for total reality.
Institutionalized. He'd had a shrink tell him that's what he'd become. He'd given that shrink a hard time, back then. Of course he was institutionalized! He was living in a hospital, for crying out loud. Then the shrink had said it was also in his head. He wanted to stay "unstable" so he wouldn't have to live on the outside. That he preferred the "safe confines" of the hospital.
If only that shrink had known...
"Murdock, one to ten?"
Murdock sighed again. He had to give Richter an answer, soon. Not answering was sometimes worse than the wrong answer. But he didn't know where he was on that damn scale today. Yesterday, when he'd come back from being with the guys, he would've said ten. It was always ten right after. It was the day after that things got real again, and he slipped down. Today?
Five, maybe. Or closer to three. That'd make him a four, right? Yeah. Four. Not the end of the scale Richter would like.
Institutionalized? When he was bored out of his mind most of the time? When he thought about what the guys were doing, what he could be doing, if he were let out of here? He didn't want to live in the VA the rest of his life. He didn't want to live here at all. He wanted to be out with the Team, chasing the bad guys, eluding the MPs, teasing BA.
But then again, they weren't chasing bad guys all the time. That's when Murdock stayed here, BA went to his day care job, Hannibal worked the Hollywood circuit, Face got into another scam...What would Murdock do, if he weren't in here?
He couldn't fly. Not legally. Eventually, maybe. If he kept his nose clean. Hard to do if he were working with the guys, though. And the thought of taking some menial little job - all he was really qualified for other than flying - and going home to a dismal little apartment, day after day after day...just waiting for the colonel to call...
Then again, would Hannibal even let him stay on the team, if he weren't certifiable? He kept saying Murdock was safe as long as he was insane. Couldn't be held responsible. Couldn't go to jail. That would change if he were out. The colonel felt bad enough about the other two. Would he force Murdock off the Team just so he wouldn't have another one on his conscience?
"Sorry, Doc. Kinda phased out there. One to ten? Well, I'm a little down, but okay. Let's say...eight. That's a nice round number, don't you think, Doc? But I was thinking maybe a change in groups might be in order..."
Holiday: Rebuilding Day (April 28th)
Title: The Master
"I just let things get away from me a little bit. I didn't mean to. I mean, it's his own fault, really. He taught me how to do it. Right?"
"He said, over and over, if you're gonna pull a scam you have to be convincing. And to be convincing, you have to get into the part. Didn't he always say that?"
"And that's what I did. I mean, I had to, right? 'Cause Jordain woulda seen right through me, otherwise, right?"
"Yeah, Murdock. You had to..."
"And it wasn't my fault Dominique showed up like that. I didn't ask her to."
"Well, you weren't exactly demanding that she leave, either, Murdock."
"Look, the whole thing wasn't my idea! You said Face couldn't be Ross."
"And he understood that."
"Oh, yeah, the guy that's bet- almost as good as you with disguises?"
"Yes, Captain, he understood. Look, you did go a little overboard, but he's not the kind to hold a grudge, you know that. And I'll talk to him later. Just to make sure we're all on the same page."
Hannibal clapped Murdock on the shoulder and quickly left the room. A little too quickly, to Murdock's way of thinking. He doubted very much that Hannibal really intended to talk to Face. Well, BA wasn't the only one Murdock could bug...
That, of course, didn't change the fact that he, himself, had to get things straight with Face.
Logan Ross. Why the hell couldn't Stockwell have come up with someone a little less...pompous? Okay, so maybe Murdock had something to do with that. Damn. It'd just felt so cool, though, being the superman. He'd done so much better this time. He cringed, thinking about Hunkman. Man! But this guy, Logan Ross, Murdock had really gotten it right! He was Logan Ross. He was! Surely even Face could see that?
And that whole balcony thing wasn't his fault. How was he supposed to know that Hannibal hadn't had a chance to give back Face's picks? Face should've asked for them right away. Then none of this would've happened.
Yeah. It wasn't his fault. He was just doing the job. It was his life on the line, after all. Every minute he was a target. Every minute. So what if Face got a little wet? So what if his pride was hurt? What right did he have to get mad at Murdock, who was putting his life on the line for them? It wasn't his pardon they were working for, after all.
He looked up when the door opened and Face walked in. Right. Time to get this straightened out. Right now. Once and for all.
"Face, you and me have to talk. About Logan Ross."
"Yeah, about that. I'm sorry I lost it there, Murdock. Wasn't your fault. I should've remembered my lock picks. That's the last time I let Hannibal borrow them. And you did a great job. Really. Sure takes the pressure off me now, knowing you can handle these scams so well." Face casually picked out an apple from the basket and started shining it. "We okay, then?"
"Uh, uh, yeah, Face, yeah..."
"Great." Face smiled and left the room, leaving Murdock with his mouth hanging open, his righteous indignity spluttering, and a worrisome premonition forming.
Hannibal looked up from his paper. "Everything come out all right with you and Murdock?"
"Right as rain, Hannibal." Face sauntered past. smiling smugly.
He was still The Master.
Holiday: Hairstylist Appreciation Day (April 30th)
Title: The Gift
"See you later, guys."
Amy shook her head as Face hurried out the door, and Hannibal smiled quizzically at her.
"Problem, Miss Allen?"
"I still can't get around Face's ego. I mean, we haven't been back an hour, and he's rushing off to the barber. Excuse me - hairdresser. Even I don't get that picky."
"Well, looks are important when you're into 'requisitions', Amy. It's part of the gig."
"Face takes that part of it a little too seriously, if you ask me. But I know - his looks are your meal ticket."
"Exactly, Amy." Hannibal smiled amiably, but he quickly made an excuse to leave the room.
He wasn't angry at Amy. She hadn't been around long enough to know Face - hell, any of them - that well yet. But he sincerely hoped she wouldn't get too sarcastic with Face, or he'd play her to the hilt. And Face could get a little nasty when he did that.
Granted, it was kinda fun when that happened. Hannibal smiled for a moment, before remembering that Amy, too, had her job to do for the team. Teasing was one thing; outright conflict wasn't good for anybody. He'd keep an eye on things, make sure neither of them went too far.
He could nip things in the bud, of course, tell Amy to leave him alone. But Face was a big boy; he could deal with it, and a lot easier than Amy probably would. After all, the rest of the team gave him plenty of shit. And Hannibal wasn't one to lay down the law unless it was absolutely necessary.
Admittedly, Face did take extraordinary care with his looks. It wasn't just vanity, as Amy assumed, although Face certainly wasn't blind to his qualities. But he was more aware of the doors that opened, and opened more quickly, when the view was good. It hadn't always been that way. Back in Nam, Face had honed his skills the hard way.
In Nam, nobody with any sense wore long hair. Yeah, there were some, people that didn't want to be there, didn't want the US there. Some CO's put up with it, some didn't. Hannibal didn't. But it was more of a practical matter than anything. Nothing worse on morale than to be days in the jungle with dirty, greasy, long hair getting in the way, holding in the heat, drawing mosquitoes...no, better to have it buzzed and not worry about it.
Which made it harder for Face to perform his little miracles. He was still good-looking, but he didn't have the immediate effect on people he did now. He had to talk faster, charm quicker, and strike harder bargains back then.
Hannibal chuckled softly. After they'd cut loose from Bragg, and Face started looking more like a civilian, it was like someone had handed him the whole candy store. Hannibal could still remember the near-awe in Face's voice when he'd tell the colonel how easily he'd been able to get this or that for the team.
It was a gift, and Face never took it for granted.
Neither did Hannibal.
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