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Building Trust Part 1/?
by Stompy Sara
Rated: R for language content and violence.
Summary: The Team has trouble with their latest rescue, a girl
who resists their attempts. Murdock tries to befriend her with
Warnings: Just language for this part
Disclaimer: I don't own the A-Team, just having a bit of fun
with them. Steven J. Cannell owns 'em. BTW, this is my very
first long fan fic, comments and suggestions are welcome! If
anyone spots discrepancies somewhere, pls tell me! ~_^
As soon as she looked back, Mina Shephard knew it was useless to struggle. The man pinning her arms was huge, a big black man with a Mohawk and beard. Feathered earrings cascaded down his massive chest. She paused, blinking. The man growled, he actually growled. Despite her terror, Mina wanted to laugh. Until she swiveled her head back around to concentrate on the man standing in front of her. White hair, shrewd eyes. Big cigar in his black-gloved hands. He looked like a terrorist, or a mercenary.
The blonde man on his right was scowling at her and rubbing his shin, which had just had contact with one of her combat-booted feet. Mina showed her teeth, a grimace of satisfaction. The man sighed dramatically and pulled a radio from his suit coat pocket.
"Murdock, come in." All the while looking at her, distaste on his pristine features.
"We have the girl. Finally."
"Problemos, muchacho?" The light voice on the other end sounded amused.
"You'd have to be here to believe it. Start up the chopper, we'll be there in half an hour."
"Roger, wilko, Faceyman. Thirty minutes." Putting the radio back in his pocket, the man smoothed his suit back into line, ran his fingers through his thick hair. Still scowling at her.
"How is it," he addressed the white-haired man, "that we can have so much trouble with one little girl? An army, or a gang of thugs, no problem! It's always these little brats."
"You shoulda just hit me," she spat at him. "What the hell you guys want anyway?"
"We would have gotten to that earlier," the white-haired man explained patiently, "except we seemed to be having a little communication problem. And you tried to beat up Face here."
"Face? That's actually your name? Perfect," she muttered, shaking her head. Face looked insulted, and moved away, his blue eyes scanning the trees.
"I'm Hannibal Smith," white-hair introduced himself. "Your sister Jenna hired us to find you."
"I didn't realize I was lost." She tried to back up when Hannibal took a step towards her. His eyes were piercing, but she met them defiantly.
"We are not the bad guys, Mina. Your sister was concerned about this camp you're attending. We've looked into it, and frankly, I agree with her. Something about this place stinks. So as soon as we pull you out, we're coming back in to find out what's behind all the toy soldiers."
"Jesus. You talk like a bad movie." Mina wanted to piss him off. She wasn't sure if it worked or not. He continued to smile blandly around his cigar. Mina sighed resignedly.
"Redwood Range is a military-type camp for teenagers, like myself, who have questionable home lives, and either wish to attend the camp and volunteer, or have been signed up by their parents, who wish them to be elsewhere. Pretty straightforward, if you ask me."
"Hmm. You sound smart, kid, but I guess that's as far as it goes. Too bad. Okay guys, enough with the pleasantries, we need to get moving. Murdock's waiting with the chopper." Hannibal turned and marched into the trees. The man holding her gave her a gentle push forward, leaving her no choice but to follow. Face brought up the rear. She raised one eyebrow when he produced a semi-automatic with a long barrel. She wondered where he had been hiding it under the unbroken line of the suit.
Almost exactly thirty minutes brought them to another clearing. The trees here were interspersed with dense underbrush, making the going a pain in the ass. Mina was hot and irritated by the time she could hear the rotor blades, topping off her already-wonderful mood brought about by being basically kidnapped. She slapped Face's hand away when he offered it for support up a particularly steep incline. She was glad they hadn't tied her hands. She didn't trust them as far as she could throw them, this talk of her sister merely convenient. It wasn't enough.
A tall, lean guy wearing a bomber jacket and a baseball cap was pacing in front of the helicopter, apparently having a very serious and meaningful conversation with himself. He was about the same age as the other two younger men, near mid-thirties. Brown hair peaked out from under the dark blue cap. Long-fingered hands gesturing wildly, the man ignored their entrance into the clearing until Hannibal shouted his name.
"Murdock! Let's go!" Murdock looked up, dark eyes unblinking, and abruptly shelved his conversation, ran around the front of the chopper and jumped into the pilot's seat. Hannibal gestured grandly for her to get in. She glared at him but clambered up anyway, ducking even though the blades were far above her head. She'd never been in a helicopter. Uncertainly she buckled the shoulder belt, and accepted the headset from Murdock. He grinned at her silently before turning back to flip switches and levers she didn't understand.
She turned to watch incredulously as Face and Hannibal struggled with their Mohawked friend, whose head lolled over his massive shoulders. Had he passed out or something? The voice in her headset startled her.
"B.A. doesn't have much faith in my flying abilities." She looked up at the pilot, who was observing this little spectacle unconcerned.
"And this causes him to black out?"
"Naw, the Colonel probably had ta deck him. Don't worry, we know what we're doing. Most of the time." There was a manic gleam to his eyes she didn't trust.
"What the hell," she said to no one in particular. This was getting goddamn surreal. She folded her arms and waited for B.A. to get strapped in behind her, Face and Hannibal to sit to either side of her, and they were off.
The cabin was a dark square in a large clearing, plenty of room for the helicopter to land. This clearing ended in an abrupt drop of sixty or seventy feet, the back of the cabin staked into the hillside. Murdock and Face busied themselves securing the helicopter and rousing B.A., which left Hannibal to direct Mina inside. He lit a kerosene lamp and hung it from a peg in the wall. Mina took in her surroundings; one large room, two twin beds, a couch, a tiny kitchen. Butcher block table, clean but had seen its share of years. Indoor bathroom, thank god for small favors.
"Make yourself at home," Hannibal suggested, taking a dining chair and leaning back in it, cigar puffing away. Mina dropped her knapsack to the wooden floor and helped herself to a glass of water. She listened as voices grew closer to the open doorway, then whirled when an inarticulate shout startled her. Murdock and Face stumbled backwards through the entrance, both of them with hands up in warding gestures. B.A. filled the post and lintel doorway, brows lowered.
"You made me fly again! Hannibal, you let this crazy man take me up in the air!"
"Why yes, you're right, B.A.," Hannibal answered nonchalantly.
"This is the last time, Hannibal! I swear heads are gonna roll next time!"
"Whatever you say, B.A."
"Don't give me none a your backwards talk man." B.A. sulked into another dining chair. Face cleared his throat and reflexively straightened his tie. Murdock stuck his hands into his pants pockets, leaned against the counter next to the kitchen sink. Mina's eyes went to each of them. A corner of her mind was noticing how her heart hammered, her breathing fast and shallow. She was alone, in a cabin in the woods, middle of fucking nowhere, with four grown men, one of whom was very, very angry at the moment. She stepped back into the counter, wedging herself closer to a corner of the three-sided space. Murdock glanced her way, but she kept her eyes on B.A. Then swung her head to the left when Murdock turned towards her.
"You alright chica?" he asked softly. His brown eyes seemed kind. Shit, was she getting soft already?
"Yeah. Fuckin' peachy." She drew herself up to her full height of five-four, and faced him squarely. Had to crane her neck to look in his face. His eyes narrowed a bit at her profanity, but it was Hannibal who objected.
"Young lady." The older man left the chair and walked towards her. She hated feeling trapped. "I would appreciate it if you toned down the language. There's no need to get ugly."
"Yeah? I think there's plenty of reason, starting with the fact that I belong back at Redwood Range." She tried to quash her fear, stuff it way down where Hannibal wouldn't notice it in her eyes. Stupid to talk back, she knew, but it was all she had right now. She had no options, and no advantages. Screwed. Hannibal took a step back, guess he noticed her fear anyway. She gripped the countertop behind her tightly as though to anchor herself. Hannibal flicked his eyes in the pilot's direction, and Murdock stepped away to sit on the couch. Hannibal took another step backwards.
"Mina. Look at me." His voice gentle now. She looked up at him through her lashes. She thought he might be older than she had guessed at first. Close to sixty, though he moved like a much younger man.
"We really are here to help you. There are obviously things you don't know about Redwood Range, or your camp director, Luhrman Taylor."
"I know what I need to know."
"Does that knowledge include what he uses as punishment for kids who get out of line?" Face spoke up from the table.
Mina didn't answer. She'd seen the tin sheds lined up in the middle of the main compound, what her fellow soldiers called 'punishment boxes.' She'd heard the crying in the middle of the night. But Taylor's soldiers were the best. They were taught everything. Hand to hand, firearms, stealth, survival training. The last three months had almost kicked her butt, but she had also lost five pounds of fat and gained seven of muscle. Most sixteen-year-olds could not disarm a man twice their size. Mina was confident in her abilities, but not against four men. That was stretching it a bit. "Taylor does what he thinks it necessary," she said with certainty.
"Mmm-hmm. Well. It's late, I'm sure you're tired, and I could use some shut-eye myself. Face, first watch. Mina, you take one of the beds." Face disappeared out the door. Murdock bounced up from the couch and grabbed a large black duffel and a dark blue sleeping bag from the pile near the door.
"I'll take the floor, Colonel."
"That's good of you, Captain."
"Eh. . . where should I take it, Colonel?"
"Wherever you wish, Captain."
"Maybe it's happier where it is. Maybe I shouldn't take it anywhere."
"That may be."
"I know! I'll ask it." Murdock got down on hands and knees, ear to the floor. He began to whisper.
"Oh, my god," Mina muttered, her eyes going from one man to the other as though watching a tennis match. The guy was truly out there. Hannibal was grinning like a proud father. She threw up her hands and stalked into the bathroom. It was going to be an interesting night. Too bad she'd have to cut it short by getting the hell out of here.
Murdock woke with the rotor blades still whispering in his brain, black smoke and fire behind his closed eyelids. He took a deep breath, thinking white paper white paper white paper - the sound of the cabin window sliding in its primitive track brought his attention around. He opened his eyes.
The girl was half out the window already, ducking her head under the wooden frame. Murdock pushed the sleeping bag down and off, silently rolled to his feet. She didn't notice, she was out and gone. Still fully dressed, Murdock followed her, snaking out the window without having to open it any farther.
The clearing was bathed dimly in the light of the waning moon, just a sliver, but the sky was clear. Mina was running, hunched over, towards the treeline. Murdock looked for Face, but he must be at the perimeter, farther out in the woods. The pilot smiled in the near-dark, and loped after her.
She had paused at the edge of the clearing, knapsack clenched in one hand, neck craning as she looked for Face. Murdock stopped just short of running into her, stood up and pushed his hands into his pockets. When she turned, he slid out of her line of sight. She made a three-sixty, and he circled her. Geez, the kid still hadn't noticed him? He stopped as she continued to turn, watched her jump as her eyes fixed on him. He smiled widely.
"Nice night for a stroll eh?" he commented. The girl just stared at him, eyes wider than saucers. She was tiny, her dark hair short and curling out at the ends, making her look younger than her sixteen years. A sharp chin and large eyes gave her an elfin charm, especially surrounded by the trees. The only elements marring the picture were her ripstop jumpsuit and combat boots. Murdock doubted that this would be viewed as traditional elfin garb. She brought her chin up suddenly, eyes hard, stubborn.
"Guess I'll have to wait 'til next time," she said haughtily. Murdock shrugged, quirking one side of his mouth up in a half-grin. Her expression grew wary as they regarded each other, unmoving and silent. Murdock broke this silence, whistling tunelessly as he turned back towards the cabin. He did not watch to see if she followed, he wanted to take a chance on this girl. He could feel her hesitate behind him.
"You run now, and I'll just catch ya again," he said. The boot to his back moments later was not what he had anticipated. He tucked his fall into a roll, coming back up on his feet flash-fast, and caught her retreating figure heading back into the trees. He sighed and started to run.
His long strides made it easy to catch up. Even as his hand closed on her arm, he was afraid of hurting her. She was just a kid, and probably scared shitless. It didn't matter if she hit him, she probably couldn't do much damage. When he had a hold of her, he continued to run, slowing down easily instead of yanking her to a stop. She was sobbing for breath when they finally halted, and she snatched her arm away from his loose grip, knelt on the forest floor holding her wrist, body turned away, looked back and up at him. Her eyes -
- (brief flash of fire in darkness, air full of panic. The girl stumbled and fell, scraping her knees on the exposed roots of the jungle floor. Ugly laughter as they caught up, grabbed her, spun her around. Dark eyes full of abject terror, brief blink of sadness, knowledge. He was running fast, but not fast enough. Couldn't reach her. Her eyes and his. . . locked gazes. She forgave him. The shots were loud, filled his ears. He couldn't hear his own screaming, just the gun reports, and their hideous, hideous laughter) -
"Hey. You okay?" He blinked, realized he was kneeling on the ground, head in hands. Mina knelt beside him, head cocked to one side, trying to catch his eye. Still far away from him, but she hadn't run. She could have, him caught again in the past. She stayed, waiting. Just what had brought that on? Viciously he shoved the memories back inside, deep down where the core of him was, schooled his eyes and his expression into something she could handle. Managed to breathe. Managed a smile, genuine for her.
"Don't mind me," he said, voice soft and hoarse. He rose, put his hands in his pants pockets, so she wouldn't see them trembling. She got up too, walked beside him. Back towards the cabin. They did not speak as they walked past Face, who's mouthed dropped open at the sight. He started to say something, as Murdock caught his eye. Face's jaw snapped shut at that look. He returned one of his own, that said, -you alright?- Murdock gave him one nod. It was all they needed. The pilot and the girl walked to the door, opened it, stepped through. Face turned on his heel to do one more circuit of the perimeter.
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