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The First Mistake I Made
Summary: How many mistakes can a man make? Hannibal and Face have a fall-out during a mission which causes Face to leave. The ‘team’ moves on, but can they really without Face? Everything seems to be going wrong. Will they ever see him again? Story includes severe injury of a main character.
Warnings: None. No nasty surprises (in my opinion).
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters (except for the ones I made up), not making any money with this… Just having a fun time writing the stories and reading the comments.
Hannibal sighed. They had been here waiting for what seemed like hours and the seats they were sitting on weren’t exactly his idea of comfortable. He looked at his other team mates. BA was sitting opposite to him. He was staring at god knows what. He probably didn’t know himself either. Next to BA, on his right, sat Amy. She had her head in her hands. He couldn’t tell, she might’ve been crying. And on his own right was Murdock. He didn’t look too good. He was pale, sweaty and he too seemed to stare into nothingness. On top of that he was mumbling things to himself, sometimes rocking back and forth.
Hannibal could guess where Murdock was with his mind. The last time he had seen his pilot like this was in Vietnam, when they were captured and taken to Chao’s camp. The sight of his best friend being tortured had been unbearable to him and where he had always been a bit eccentric before he now became began to show signs of a serious breakdown.
That time in ‘Nam had been tough, but they all pulled through. However, he wasn’t so sure this time would have a happy ending. He hadn’t liked the way his lieutenant looked when they had brought him in. The kid had lost a lot of blood and he was sure that if they had brought him in a minute later he wouldn’t have made it for sure. Now he at least still had chance. Maybe…
Damn! Everything had gone wrong from the start. The whole mission had been nothing but mistakes upon mistakes and all of them on his part. They had been asked to help out an old war buddy. His wife had approached them since he himself had already been ‘captured’. He had told his wife that if anything should happen to him, she should contact the A-team. And after he had disappeared, she had done so.
‘She’ was Celia Wallor, the wife of their friend Steve Wallor. He had been in ‘Nam as well and had led the rescue mission that had gotten them out of the hands of Chao. During this rescue mission a car was bombed. Apparently Chao’s little girl, Li Na, had been in that car and was killed. When Chao found out who had been the officer responsible he swore revenge.
Several weeks ago Steve’s daughter had turned 5-years old, the same age as Li Na. It was since then that there had been several strange incidents, and then a letter. It was from Chao, stating that he would get even. An eye for an eye, a young girl for another young girl. Steve, Celia and their little girl, Amanda, had gone into hiding but it hadn’t been enough. Three days ago there was an attempt to kidnap Amanda. Steve prevented it but was taken himself. Celia hadn’t heard from him since then, but she had heard from Chao. She learned that Steve had been taken by Chao’s men and that it would only be a matter of time before he would get them as well. This was when Celia had decided to follow her husband’s advice and contact the A-team.
The story had sounded straightforward enough. The main part was to prevent Amanda from being taken. Then they could think of a way to take out Chao and get Steve out. BA and Murdock were all for it, saying they owed Steve, but Face hadn’t been happy about the idea of facing Chao again. Hannibal thought it might have had something to do with their time in the POW-camp. He had never managed to get Face to talk about it, or Murdock for that matter, but the stuff Chao had done to him must have been awful. Unbearable even. Hannibal had played the guilt card to get Face in on this rescue mission and eventually, Face had bowed his head and told him he would play along.
God, Hannibal wished he had listened to Face. His lieutenant often had a good gut feeling about things, but Hannibal almost never listened to it, trusting his own gut feeling. In this case it had been a mistake not to listen to Face. It was the first mistake he had made and things had started to go downhill from there on…
“Fine!” Face said. “I’ll play along, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Nice Face, nice! I knew you’d come around. Now, the first thing we need to do is to make sure Celia and Amanda are safe.”
They all agreed on that. Hannibal them the plan he had for their safekeeping. When they all agreed he went to fetch Celia and Amanda.
“So, the plan is you and Amanda go with Face,” Hannibal told her as they were waling back to the others. “You’ll stay in motels, hotels, abandoned houses, whatever. We just need to keep you moving.”
He saw Celia’s eyes move up and her mouth open, but she didn’t say anything.
“What is it?” Hannibal asked. “Don’t like the plan?”
Celia avoided the colonel’s eyes.
“No, that’s not it Hannibal. I think the plan sounds just fine. It’s just… well, never mind. It’s silly really.”
“No, no. Tell me. You’re the client. If there’s something you’re not happy with, tell me.”
“Look, I know this sounds silly, okay, but… can’t someone else come with me and Amanda?”
“Well, I don’t know. What’s wrong with Face?”
“Nothing’s wrong with him. It’s just that I would feel safer if we were with BA... or you?”
Hannibal looked at her for a moment. He understood what she was thinking, but he knew she was wrong.
“Listen Celia, I know what you’re thinking, but BA would draw too much attention to himself. Believe me, Face is the best guy for this job. He can get you the places to stay you need, supplies, etc. He keeps a low profile and he’s smart enough to keep you out off trouble.”
He saw some doubt still on Celia’s face. Inwardly, he smiled. He knew what she was thinking. Face didn’t exactly look like a bodyguard, but he knew he was tougher than he looked.
“Besides,” he said. “Face is a lot tougher than he looks.”
Celia looked up at Hannibal. She was glad he understood.
“I mean, he’s trained soldier, special forces, with years of combat experience. He’s been in ‘Nam too you know.”
He added a small wink to his last comment. Celia sighed.
“I guess you’re right. I told you it was silly.”
“Yeah well, you should get packed. Only a few sets of clothes and necessary items though. You’ll be moving around a lot, you have to pack light.”
They walked the last bit of their walk in silence. When they reached the others Hannibal gave Celia a last wink.
“BA, Murdock, we’ve got to find a way to track Chao down.”
BA and Murdock nodded. Hannibal turned to Face.
“Face, you and Celia better start packing.”
“Right,” Face answered. He turned towards Celia. “Shall we?”
Face and Celia walked back to the house. Hannibal looked after them when Murdock spoke.
“What do you have in mind colonel?”
“Well, the best way to track Chao down would be for someone to be caught and taken back to his camp, or wherever he’s hiding.”
“Caught? Man, I already hate this plan, Hannibal,” BA growled.
“Well, it’s the only way. There’s no way Chao’s going to tracked down any other way. He’ll be tempted to catch one of us though. We simply place a tracing device on our bait and he’ll lead us straight into his lair.”
Hannibal smiled. BA and Murdock looked at each other, not sure what to think.
“Come on guys. It’s a perfect plan!”
“Who is going to be the bait exactly?” Murdock asked.
“Well, I’m volunteering for that.”
“No way Hannibal!”
“Guys… Chao’s not going to be tempted unless it’s a big fish. Now, in his eyes I’m the biggest fish. Besides, you guys are going to be right behind me. What can go wrong?”
“Man, he’s on the Jazz fool.”
“Yep,” Murdock said. “He sure is.”
Hannibal added a smile to this comment when Face and Celia approached them again.
“Well, we’re ready to take off,” Face said.
“Okay, keep in touch. Let us know where you’re going and how we can reach you,” Hannibal told them.
Face nodded. He told Celia to get Amanda, they would be leaving right away.
“Well, have you guys already got a plan to get to Chao?” Face wanted to know.
“Hannibal’s going to let himself get captured,” Murdock said.
“What?!” Face yelled. “Hannibal are you crazy? Chao’s not your average criminal you know.”
“I know Face, I know. That’s what’s making it so exciting,” he grinned.
Face looked at Hannibal.
“Well, I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into.”
He turned around and walked to Celia, who had the 5-year old Amanda in her arms.
“Ready?” he asked her.
Celia took one look at her house.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’m ready I guess.”
They got in the car they had rented and drove off.
“Where are we going?’ Celia asked.
“We’re staying in a motel tonight,” Face answered. “Tomorrow we’ll start looking for something else.”
He looked at her and saw her eyes fill up with tears.
“Hey, it’ll be alright. We’ll be back in no time, you’ll see. And you can get back to being a family.”
She looked up at him.
They drove in silence until they reached the motel. Face told Celia and Amanda to stay in the car while he would check them in. After a while, Face returned with a key dangling in his right hand.
“I got us a room on the outside. Not much traffic passing by there.”
“One room?” Celia asked.
“Yeas, just one,” Face smiled. “But don’t worry, I’ll be sitting at watch anyway.”
Celia nodded as they drove up to the room. Once inside they opened the suitcase to get the stuff they needed out. It was already starting to get dark, so Celia took Amanda to bed. After she had fallen to sleep Celia sat in one of the armchairs.
“No couch,” Face said.
Celia opened her mouth to speak, but Face held up his hand.
“Don’t worry, I can sleep in a chair too. Besides, can’t sleep too deep anyway, remember.”
Celia smiled a faint smile. She wanted to take a stroll, get out. They hadn’t been there longer than a couple of hours, but already she felt locked up.
“You min if I took a quick stroll?” she asked.
“As a matter of fact, yes. I think you should stay inside. Just to be safe, you know. I don’t want you wandering outside in the dark by yourself. It’s not safe.”
Celia sighed. This was going to be harder than she thought. Eventually, she also went to bed, leaving Face in one of the armchairs. He insisted he was just fine the way he was, but when she saw him shiver she gave him one of the blankets.
The next days all went by the same, although the location differed. In the mean time Hannibal was putting out word here and there that he was looking for Steve Wallor. He hoped one of Chao’s men would pick up on it and make his move. So far, no luck though. The lack of success made the atmosphere tense. Everybody seemed a little edgy. The only one who seemed to be having a good time was Face. He was really in his element. He was scamming things, sitting back and relaxing. He liked a job that didn’t involve shooting, fighting and ruining his clothes.
Unfortunately, this good mood was oil on the fire for Celia’s foul mood. She was having an awful time. Amanda was hard to entertain after the first few days and had wanted to go home. On top of that they were not getting any closer to finding Steve and she was really starting to worry. And to make matters worse she was stuck here with a guy thinking this was all a nice vacation. Her frustration was growing by the minute until finally, after spending 6 days on the run, the bomb burst. She didn’t even remember what it was that got her started, but she found herself screaming at Face and judging by the surprised look on his face it was probably about something small. Nothing to get worked up about, but she was. She heard Face say something, probably to calm her down, but she didn’t hear it. She didn’t even know what she was saying herself, she didn’t see Amanda standing at her right with tears in her eyes. She was unleashing 6 days of frustration. She must have called him all sorts of things, because after she had finished her tirade he looked at her with an astounded look on his face.
“I’m going to forget what you just said,” he said after a silence that seemed to last minutes.
“I wish you didn’t,” Celia spat out. “I meant every word of it.”
She wasn’t sure why she was saying this. She didn’t know what she had said, but she felt like fighting. It made her feel better.
“I want you to leave,” she said.
“You heard me. I want you to leave.”
“Well,” Face snorted. “That’s not going to happen. You can yell all you want, but I have a job here.”
“What’s the matter with you? You didn’t even want the job in the first place!”
“You think I’m not taking this serious?!” Face shouted.
“I don’t know what to think. All I know is you don’t want this job and you’re not really doing your best to make it work. You’re just sitting there the entire day with that stupid smile on your face!”
“Hey, wait a minute...”
“No, I want you out of here! Go! Leave!”
“I’m not going anywhere!”
“Would you just go away! Leave me alone!”
Just then, an elderly couple passed by their door. They must have overheard the last words of their argument, because the man stepped a bit forward.
“What’s going on here?” he asked.
“Nothing,” Face replied. He flashed them one of his smiles. “Just a… lover’s quarrel, you know.”
“He won’t leave me and my daughter alone,” Celia said.
“What?!” Face blurted out. “Celia, listen. This isn’t a good idea. Why don’t we just go back inside and…”
“I told you I want you to leave! Don’t make me call the police,” Celia threatened.
Face quickly glanced at the elderly couple, then back at Celia. He didn’t want to start a riot here, they were supposed to keep a low profile. He saw no other option than to leave. Damn, he thought. He was supposed to stay with Celia and Amanda at all times. But then again, Celia hadn’t exactly appreciated the help he was giving them. She was right, he didn’t even want to do this job. Especially not for a spoiled brat that did nothing but call him names for thanks.
“Fine!” he spat out. “Don’t expect me to be there when you need me then!”
With that, he turned around and left. He felt in his pocket: the car keys were there. His .357 was in his arm holster. Good, he wouldn’t have to go back for that. He slammed the door of the car and started the engine. He wondered if he should call Hannibal to tell him what had happened. Deciding he would do that tomorrow he put the car in first gear and took off.
Celia saw the car leaving and knew immediately she had done the wrong thing. Would he come back? Probably not, she had called him awful names. He must be furious and he had every right to be. She should call Hannibal, tell him she had been stupid. But she didn’t have their number, Face always made the calls. Would Face call Hannibal and tell him what happened? Would they send someone else to stay with her and Amanda? She was still lost in her thoughts when there was a knock on the door. She looked up. Has he come back?
“Face, is that you?” she asked.
No answer. Maybe he didn’t hear, she thought. Another knock on the door. She grabbed Amada and stared at the door that was now being forced open…
Face was driving around town. He had been angry, he had left, but he wasn’t so sure he had done the right thing. He felt uncomfortable knowing they were on their own.
“Ah well,” he sighed and he turned the car around.
When he drove up to the motel room they had rented for the night he noticed almost immediately something was wrong. The door was open and he didn’t see any lights on. He quickly got out of the car and pulled his gun.
He didn’t get an answer so he decided to take a closer look. He put his head around the door and saw Celia sitting on the ground, her back against the footboard of the bed.
“Celia?” he asked again.
She looked up at him. It seemed she was crying. When she saw Face she threw herself around his neck.
“I’m sorry,” she cried. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Face said.
He looked around and saw the mess that had been a neat room when they had entered it that afternoon. HE didn’t see the little girl that was usually within two feet of her mother.
“Celia, where’s Amanda?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“They took her! Oh god, they took her! I tried to stop them, but they were too strong.”
She started crying again.
“I’m so sorry!”
“Yeah,” Face said. “So am I. I should never have left you here alone. It’s my fault.”
“No, no. It isn’t. It’s all my fault. I told you to leave. I’m so sorry.”
“Well, we better let Hannibal know what happened.”
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