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Getting to know you
Summary: almost a year after thier pardons, a member of the a-team is dying. His journal is found and several things about his thoughts and the others are found our.
Warning: extreme angst and flashbacks to m/m non cons sex
Email: this is one of my first a-team stories. Please give me feedback:) email@example.com
Getting to know you
It was one of the hardest things the team had ever had to deal with. They'd faced death for most of their lives. They'd survived war and prosecution. They'd even managed to finally get their pardons. Freedom from Stockwell, freedom from an all out manhunt by the military, they were free U.S. citizens now. They all had thought themselves to be invincible for a long time. After being on the run for so long, they had realized they were just as vulnerable as anyone. Since their pardon, that invincibility syndrome had kicked back in. This time, it had hit them hard. One of their own was dying. No bullet wounds, no mysterious toxins planted as a government conspiracy, no inflicted torture, this would be an acceptable way for a soldier to go. But to die like this, to be struck down by your own body, it was unfair. It was slowly killing them all, one physically and the others emotionally.
"When can we see him?" asked Face, running his fingers back through his unruly hair.
"He just got a dose of medication to help him with the pain, Mr. Peck. You may see him now, but he might be a little drowsy. Let me check in on him first to see if he's ready for visitors," replied the nurse.
"This can't be happening. He's the strongest of us all. We'd have been dead a long time ago if it weren't for him," said Face. He sat down in the chair in the waiting room and closed his eyes. "It's just like him to keep his illness a secret from us until he's dy..." Face choked back a sob that threatened to escape.
Murdock's deep brown eyes were full of sadness. He sat down next to Face and dropped an arm around his shoulders. "Hey, Faceguy. He's stubborn, whatcha expect? Think he wants us to be out here worried and upset?"
"Mr. Peck, I'm sorry. Mr. Smith doesn't feel up to receiving visitors this afternoon. You can check in on him tomorrow if you'd like. Feel free to call us and we can give you an update on his progress."
"Progress!? What progress! He's lying in there on a damn hospital bed dying! That's not progress, it's decomposition!" Face yelled, unable to hold back the rage inside him any longer. Murdock grabbed him by the arm and sat him back down in the chair.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. This has hit us pretty hard. He doesn't mean to take it out on you," said Murdock, trying to smooth things over with the nurse.
"It's alright. I've dealt with this more times than I'd like to remember. Please, gentleman, get some rest if you can. You're not helping him by badgering yourselves. He needs to be surrounded with comfort right now." The nurse gave a soft smile and left the room.
Face looked at Murdock. "I have to see him now, H.M. I'm not leaving here without seeing him."
Murdock nodded and stood up. He checked the hall and beckoned for Face to follow him. They quietly slipped down the corridor to Hannibal's room and stepped inside, shutting the door behind them.
It was a shock to both men to see their Colonel hooked up to so many tubes and machines. It scared them more than the torture devices they had seen in the POW camps during the war. Hannibal's skin had a grayish tint and his hair seemed to lay limp on his head.
He was well aware of their presence, knew they would come even though he told them not too. He was angry. At them, at himself, at the cancer that was eating him inside out, and angry that he couldn't bring himself to fight another battle. He just wanted the peace of mind he'd so desperately been seeking since that fateful day at the bank of Hanoi.
Face and Murdock walked over to the side of the bed. "I told the nurse I didn't want visitors. That meant you two just as well," said Hannibal, not even looking at his men.
"Hannibal, you can't keep pushing us away like this. We do everything as a team, you know that. You taught us that in ‘Nam. You never leave a soldier behind," said Face, trying to get Hannibal to look at him.
"You gonna carry my dead and decomposing body with you wherever you go Lieutenant? You're girlfriends might not like that too much."
"God damn it, Hannibal! Now is not the time to pull rank on me! I'm here to help you, we're here to help you! All we're asking is for you to let us. You know damn well if it were any one of us you'd of snuck in too. You'd give us the worst tongue lashing if we tried to turn you away. How come it's a different precedent when it's you?" Face cried, not worrying about the tears coming down his face.
Hannibal finally turned to look at them. Murdock's hands were stuffed in his khaki pockets. His eyes were red from lack of sleep and crying. "Colonel, you took care of us in ‘Nam. We would have died over there. We were still kids stuck in a grown man's fight. We were greener than those damn berets we had to wear. You were there through the nightmares, the sickness, and the pain. All we ask is you let us return the favor. You're the only father we've ever had."
Hannibal felt hot tears sliding down his cheeks. They were his family, his unit, and his friends. How could he have been so stupid to hide this from them? He had so many things to say to them, but he'd never allowed himself too. He was so tired of fighting this battle alone. But how could he ask the only people he'd ever loved to watch him die?
"You understand that I'm not getting better. I'm not going too. It only goes downhill from here. This is going to be the toughest thing you'll go through. I can't ask you to do this, guys. I don't want you to see me go through this," said Hannibal, searching desperately for a way to get his point across.
"You never had to ask, ya ol' foo'. Ya should of known we was gonna do whatever it took to help ya," said B.A. walking through the door.
Face and Murdock hugged B.A. "When did you get here?"
B.A. answered. "Jus' got off the plane an hour ago."
"YOU FLEW!?" They all said at once.
B.A. snickered. "It was the quickest way to get here."
"Now don't lie, Scooter," said Momma, stepping inside. "I had to drug his milk. Thanks for the tip, Murdock."
Everyone laughed, including Hannibal. The atmosphere became one of teasing for a short time. Hannibal finally talked the team into getting him out of the hospital. After discussing it with the hospital, they settled on the agreement of taking him to a beach house not to far from there. Hospice would be by daily to help administer the drugs Hannibal would need to rest comfortably. He was determined to be out of the hospital for the end.
Three weeks later...
Face adjusted the oxygen mask on Hannibal's face carefully. His hand was gently shoved aside. "It's not helping, Lieutenant," wheezed Hannibal. "Just leave me be." Face nodded, the agitation apparent on his face. Everyone was gathered around his bed. They had been up half the night with him. His constant coughing now showing blood. He was dying. He was hanging on to say his goodbyes to the men who had cared for him for so long. He gestured for B.A. to come closer.
"Watch out for them, okay? Make sure Face settles himself down with some nice girl. And make sure Murdock walks Billy a few times a day," B.A. nodded. "No problem, Hannibal." He squeezed the man's hand and stood back.
Murdock sat down on the edge of the bed. "Hey, Colonel," he said tenderly. "Tell me what ya need, I'll get it."
"A cigar would be nice," he joked. "I'm a little worried about Lieutenant Peck, H.M. He's always been a little more fragile than the rest of us. I need you to make sure you keep him on his toes, ya know. Women don't like to see men moping around."
Murdock saluted. "No prob, muchacho. Can you make sure they've got room up there for Billy? Like a good boarding kennel for when we get sent on our heavenly missions?" Murdock's voice cracked slightly.
"Sure, Captain. Make sure to tell Billy a lot of good stories for me."
Face stood at the head of the bed. "Well, Face. You've got command now. Are you up for the challenge?"
Face brushed a tear away from his cheek. "I won't be as good as you. I was never thrilled about using that half pincer movement."
Hannibal grabbed his hand. "You'll do just fine, Colonel." He said, smiling at his newly promoted officer. "You all will do just fine." A fit of coughing took over him and he couldn't breathe. Face tried to place the oxygen on him to have his hand pushed away again, this time it was pure determination. They all held on to their beloved Colonel tightly as the coughing racked his body.
"Love you, guys," he whispered, glancing quickly at all of them. "Make...me...proud..."
"Tonight's's top story on the six o'clock news. Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith of the famous A-Team and veteran of the Vietnam war passed away today. He will be buried in Arlington Cemetery on Friday afternoon. A large turnout is expected. Many of whom will be past civilians the A-Team and Colonel Smith helped during their time as fugitives from the law before receiving their pardons a short one year ago. His unit, present at the time of his death, say he died with dignity.
Face stood staring at the fresh mound of earth that had been placed over Hannibal's coffin. He was finally at rest. No more pain and suffering. No more cliched wisdom to throw out at them. No more "jazz." It was too much.
Murdock placed a hand on his best friend's shoulder. Sure, he was happy that the Colonel wasn't in pain. He just didn't like the heartache that came with it. Hannibal had been right. Face was taking it hard. No harder than the rest of the team, but he was an emotional broadcasting antenna. Where Murdock had years of practice at hiding his emotions, Face couldn't get a handle on his. B.A. walked around in silence, not saying anything unless he needed too. The ugly mudsucker hadn't yelled at Murdock in days.
The guys were back at Hannibal's place packing up some stuff that was being sent to charities when they came across a little black box. Inscribed on the top were the letters J.S. in silver script. Face ran his fingers over the lettering and sighed deeply. He didn't want to go through Hannibal's things. He felt like he was invading his superior's privacy.
"Should we open it?" asked Murdock, looking to Face for his approval.
Face nodded and pulled the black box out of the bottom of the closet. There were no locks on it. It sat there, begging to be opened like a Christmas present. Face's hands shook as lifted the lid.
There were several items inside, a leather bound book, a small Zippo lighter, a stack of pictures, and a velvet bag. Face reached for the Zippo lighter first.
"I gave this to him our last Christmas in ‘Nam," smiled Face. "I've never seen him use it since that night. I thought he'd lost it."
"Colonel, never lost anything in his life, fool. Looks like he wanted to keep it safe," said B.A.
Murdock pulled out the book and opened it to the front page. "Hey guys. Listen to this. ‘Even in the midst of hell, a little piece of Heaven can be found. Between the covers of this book are the memories of a man who found a sense of peace in the midst of war. Children became men and the dead became martyrs, but my men became the family I never thought I would have. This is for them.'"
Face stood up and walked to the window. He leaned his head against the window pane and let the cool glass comfort his aching head. "It's his memoirs. He must of left them for us."
Murdock flipped to a page and began reading. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
Colonel Morrison had just informed me that I would be heading up a new team for the Special Forces Unit. I was in charge of finding a few good men to complete my team. I remember wondering, how in the hell am I gonna get a team together in less than two weeks? I'm not gonna bore you with a lot of details of the preparation, lets jump right to the men I chose for the job.
I was walking by the barracks one evening when I heard the sounds of a fight echoing through an alley. Naturally, my curiosity got the better of me and I stepped in to take a look. Three men had decided to jump this burly black man. I don't know why they were there and I never did find out. I watched as they sauntered around him, poking fun, trying to get a rise out of him. When one of them grabbed a letter out of his front pocket, they certainly weren't ready. He snatched the letter back and continued to grab each man and toss them a good quarter of the way down the alley. He turned and walked right pass me. Never giving me a second thought and never saluting me as a superior officer. I knew then he definitely had a bad attitude. That was the first time I laid eyes on B.A. Baracus. I heard the next day that he was due for a good reaming out by his superiors for last night's episode in the alley. I managed to get in before he did and talked them into transferring him to my unit. They were actually kind of relieved to get rid of him. Their loss, my gain...
B.A. chuckled to himself. "I gave him hell those first few nights I was under his command. The fool deliberately made me mad."
"That sounds like our Colonel," said Face, he walked over and sat down in the floor with the others. "Read some more, Murdock."
Murdock smiled. "Okay, Faceguy. This one's about me. ‘Every unit needs a comedian and I knew I'd found him when I met H.M. Murdock...'
"We've got several good pilots here, Colonel Smith. I'm sure you'll be able to find one suitable to your tastes." That had been the fateful words from Colonel Thompson when I'd arrived to steal a pilot for my unit. I interviewed at least a dozen men, but none had that specific ‘quality' I was looking for. The men were to uptight. The last thing I needed was an uptight pilot. I had plans to make it out of ‘Nam alive, not in a body bag. I had almost given up hope when they sent in Murdock. He didn't salute, instead stuck out his hand and started to joke in his Texas drawl about the state of the hot weather we'd been getting lately. It took every ounce of control I had not to laugh as he threw his hands in exclamation and did a BBC radio broadcast of the weekly weather forecast. I knew I had to have him on the team. Of course, everyone tried to talk me out of it. They said he didn't do his missions by the book, he was eccentric. It settled it for me, I never did anything by the book. I needed someone who could think fast and improvise. I found out why they called him Howlin' Mad as we flew away from the base. The high pitch howl he gave out still makes my eardrums ring at the memory...
"I guess I made one hell of an impression, huh," smiled Murdock.
"Crazy fools always do," said B.A. "I still think he was just as nuts as you when he brought you back. I ain't gotten any peace since that day."
"Oh, come on, big guy. Give us a kiss," Murdock leaned in to harass B.A.
"Back up foo'. Or I'll break yo' face!"
"Alright you two."
Murdock flipped a few pages. "Hey Faceman. Here's were the Colonel met you. ‘The team was almost complete. I'd picked up a another man a few days before. His name was Ray, and if provoked, his temper almost matched B.A.'s. I was getting his transfer papers in order when I heard a bunch of yelling come from across the yard...
Two men had a hold of a young kid, couldn't be any older than nineteen or twenty. He was trying to talk the guys out of taking him to the stockade.
"Look now fellas, I wasn't really stealing those cigars from him, I was taking ‘em to an officer who had asked for some. He promised to pay me for them and I was gonna take the money back."
One of the guards shook his head. "Sorry, Peck, you knew the next time we caught you takin' stuff from the other men we were gonna discipline your scrawny hide. No one asked you for cigars, you just wanted to sell them to make some quick cash."
"Golly gee, fellas. I ain't no conartist. Really. I was takin' them to an officer..."
"Peck!" I yelled, the guards stopped and turned to find me striding over. They instantly released him and gave me a formal salute. The fear in the kid's face was apparent. "Where are those cigars I asked for? I've been waiting for over an hour. You know I like a cigar after my meal."
I was hoping the kid would play along with my cover story. He had the face of a pretty boy and a wit to match his superior officers. I'd heard rumors of his cons, though no one could prove them. He might make a good addition to the team, if he could talk his way out of this one.
"I'm sorry, sir. These nice men here thought I was stealing from the barracks. Now, why would I go and do a thing like that. I always follow my orders."
"So where are they?" I asked, smiling easily at his stunned expression.
"In my shirt pocket, sir. If these idiots didn't crush them." The guards released him and he handed me a cigar. He immediately reached in and pulled out a Zippo, lighting the end of it for me.
"Very good. Gentleman, you've done your duty but this man was under direct orders from me. You can go." The two men shrugged gave a salute and left.
"Thank you, sir. I could of gotten out of it without your help, though." said Peck.
"I like you, kid. You've got spunk. Now, how would you like to be able to do your conartist routine for me?" I asked, watching as his eyes regarded me uneasily.
"Just who are you, anyway?" he asked.
"Colonel John ‘Hannibal' Smith. And you?"
"You're the Colonel for the A-Team! Gee whiz, I'm sorry, sir. I should recognize a fellow conman from a distance. I'm Lieutenant Templeton Peck. This is truly an honor, sir."
"Well, Lieutenant. I am the leader of the A-Team, and we've got one more opening available. Interested?"
"Hell, yeah!" answered Peck. "I mean, yes, sir."
"I think you'll make a great addition to the team, Lieutenant. Your cons, that face, I'll be able to have cigars whenever I want now."
"I'm sorry, sir?" he asked, unsure of the last comment.
I had laughed and slapped him on the back. "I saved your ass back there, kid. I expect fresh cigars for that one."
Face smiled. "He got them, too. Very rarely did I not carry a cigar just in case he needed one. That Zippo in there was the one I lit his cigar with the first time I met him. I never used it so I gave it to him that final Christmas. It's funny. I don't think I ever saw him use it after that."
Murdock picked up the velvet bag and undid the string. He dumped the contents out and into the palm of his hand. It was a simple, smooth black stone. Murdock rubbed it gently. "You guys remember this?"
Face took the stone from Murdock. "It can't be. Why would he have kept it all this time? This is a memory I thought he wouldn't want to hang on to."
"Can't erase the past, Face. Maybe it was his way of accepting what happened back then," B.A. said, his forehead wrinkled in thought.
Murdock was flipping through the pages of the journal. "Hey guys. Here's a chapter on that rock. Wanna hear what it says?"
Face put a hand on Murdock's knee. "Are you sure, H.M.? This memory might be harder on you than us."
Murdock thought for a second. "Yeah, let's do it. Doc Richter said it's good therapy to talk it out. Hannibal never did say much about what he had thought when we were there."
Face nodded. "Okay, but if you get uncomfortable just stop."
Murdock pulled the journal closer to him. "‘ The POW camp was probably the roughest time for me. Time lost all meaning, hours turned to days, days to weeks...'
I sat there, watching as the Viet Cong brought my men back to the cell one by one. They were bloody, bruised, and beaten...but not broken. We were holding our own against their terror campaign. We'd been here seventeen days, give or take. It's hard to tell anything when you can't see the sun and you ain't gotta watch to tell time. My men were hungry, tired, and scared. I couldn't afford to be. I was the leader. The rations were scarce, if we were even afforded any. Murdock was making attempts at humor (talking about eating the leather of his boots for protein), I can't remember how many times B.A. threatened to beat him up if he didn't keep his mouth shut. Every attempt at escape so far had failed. Each time, we were beaten unconscious. I nursed deep cuts from floggings with a small amount of our drinking water. I held them in my arms while they cried out their nightmares. They didn't want me to see them, but I did. I'd be damned to let them go through it alone. We were holding our own. The day count was at twenty-three when they dragged Face and Murdock from the cell. Face was brought back first. He was extremely shaken and pale. His sharp tongue only fueled the fire of the VC's beatings on him, but he'd always returned with his dry humor. Not this time.
"What's wrong, Lieutenant?" I had asked, my stomach was doing flip-flops.
Face shook his head, obviously upset. "I...I...C-Colonel...It's M-Murdock, sir." He stammered, he could barely speak.
"What about Murdock, Face?" I was scared, a cold feeling swept through me like the winds on a December morning in Montana.
"He's g-gone, Colonel. H-He's snapped."
Face had broken down and I hugged him to me. "It's alright, Face. What did they do to the two of you?"
Face had turned his head into my chest and sobbed. He wouldn't tell me. He kept squirming like he was uncomfortable sitting down.
Ray had been the first to speak. "Hannibal." I looked to see Ray point to the back of Face's slacks. They were covered in blood. The realization was too hard to bare. B.A. and Ray walked to the other end of the room. They knew as well as I did what had happened, but they also knew that Face wouldn't want them to know.
I leaned in close to his ear. "Did they rape you and Murdock, Lieutenant? If they did, I'll kill them myself."
Face's voice was barely above a whisper. "Th-They made him w-watch while...w-while...they...raped me," he shook violently and clamped down on his bottom lip. "He w-was screaming for them to stop, C-Colonel. I've n-never seen his so angry. When they left m-me and...and went to him...he j-just snapped."
"Where is he, Face? Where did they take him?" I was beyond myself with anger. I couldn't believe what they'd been through. My men were suffering and I knew soon enough we'd be dead if we didn't escape.
The door to the cell swung open and a bleeding, incoherent Murdock was brought in. They threw him in the floor laughing, kicking dirt on to him as he curled up in a fetal position and buried his head against his chest. The smell of sex and urine was unbearable. I was outraged. I jumped from the small cot and rushed at them, intent on beating them until they were dead. All it got me was a couple of cracked ribs and a black eye.
After they left, I pulled Murdock onto the cot and stripped him of his clothes. He struggled with me, babbling on about not wanting to go to school. His eyes showed no sign of the man I had first met. He was lost to us now. I wasn't sure if I could bring him back from the black hole he had submerged himself in. I cleaned him up as best as I could, careful not to hurt the tender area of the rape. B.A. sat holding Face, trying to calm him down as best he could. He was blaming himself for what happened to Murdock.
"I shouln't have taunted them. Me and my big fuckin' mouth. He'd have been taken to another room if I had just left it alone," Face cried.
I stood up and walked over to himand took his face in my hands. "Listen to me, Lieutenant. This is not your fault. It would have happened regardless of what you said in there to those Charlies. They're holding us here, against our will. Right now, we are powerless to do anything but try to survive. Murdock's escaping the pain the only way he can. I swear to you, we'll get him back. Do you hear me, Lieutenant?"
Face nodded. He got up and crawled over to where Murdock was stretched out on a straw mattress. He wrapped his arms protectively around his best friend. "Come back to me, H.M. You've gotta fight this. You're like a brother to me. You're my best friend in this forsaken hellhole. Don't leave me here alone."
I sat through the night, unable to sleep. I'd found a small black stone and began to roll it and squeeze it in my hands. I had to keep my anger in check. I couldn't give the VC a reason to beat and rape my soldiers. That stone became a balance for me. When they'd take my men to the room down the hall, I'd squeeze it and roll it, wishing it could be the heads of the men who mercilessly raped and scared my men. Murdock didn't come back from the new world he'd created in his head. He would scream out in his dreams and fight us if we tried to hold him down. He couldn't take it anymore, and the VC knew that. If we were uncooperative, they'd rape him. Murdock wasn't our weak link, it was me. If I had acted more like a Colonel we would never have been captured.
The team could tell what kind of mood I was in by the way I held the stone in my hand. I had become quiet. I was never mad at them. I hope they didn't think I was. I was going over every possible way to get them out of that place. When we were rescued, we barely had the strength to walk out on our own. My men were rail-thin from malnutrition, psychological and physical scars were abundant. We were given a months leave to recooperate. It wouldn't help. The flesh wounds may have healed, but the scars in my mind tend to still bleed from time to time. Murdock was never the same after that. His flights of fancy came continuously. I learned to play along. He would snap back into soldier mode when needed. I had no doubts about him. I knew he could handle his duties when it came time. Murdock was the one who showed most of the abuse dealt to him, but Face was the one who worried me. He wouldn't allow anyone to touch him. He'd go bezerk, swinging blindly and falling into flashbacks of the POW camp. His conartist routine was refined. He could hide everything so well from everyone, except the team. His eyes gave him away though. Nightmares plagued everyone and we would all take turns comforting each other when we woke screaming. The little black rock I had picked up had been worn so smooth from my constant rubbing. One night, after rocking Face for a good hour due to a particularly horrible nightmare, I locked the stone in the bottom of my foot locker. I buried it from my sight, from my mind, from my life. I needed to focus on the team. They were my family and nothing was more important than getting them back on their feet...
The guys sat there in silence as they remembered what Hannibal had done for them. He'd helped them through that horrible time. He had been there source of comfort and strength when they had lost all hope of going on. He was the father they had always needed in their lives.
"Ya know, guys. He never once talked about what he felt or thought while we were in there. He carried that burden all by himself," said Murdock.
"He did it for us. He didn't want us to worry ‘bout him," B.A. said.
Face pulled out a picture. It was all of them in uniform before their first mission together. Everyone looked so young and full of life. "We were so naive then. War has a way of changing how you see life. There was so much I wish I could have told him. I don't know if I ever thanked him for watching out for me."
B.A. smiled. "He knew, Faceman. The ol' foo' knew how we felt."
"Read the last entry, Murdock. I want to know what it says," Face said.
Murdock flipped to the last page of the entry. "Time is running out for me. Yet I don't fear death like I thought I would..."
I know I should tell the team about the cancer, but I was never one to be fussed over. How would they react if the only strong male figure in their life was slowly wasting away? I don't want them to worry. I've accepted what is to come, but I worry about what will happen to them. I realize now that you will find this and read it. I hope you find all the answers you've wanted to know. I wish I would have said more to you than writing it down in this book. You make me proud to call you my team, my friends, and my family. Please, don't stop living your lives after I'm gone. I taught you to be fighters. You keep going on long after others would have given up. I live in you now. Keep my memory alive by moving foward. You were more important to me than anything in my life. I didn't assemble a team in Vietnam, I assembled a family. I know I never said it, but I love all of you as if you were my own. I hope I at least showed it. You were my plan, and you came together perfectly. Better than I could have dreamed possible. Just remember, if you need me, I'm listening. I might not be able to answer, but I'm always here for you. Keep making me proud.
Two weeks later...
The van pulled up to the cemetary and B.A., Face, and Murdock climbed out. They seemed happier and more content. Since they had found the box and journal, they were able to sleep through the night. Yes, it was hard. It would be for a long time, but they knew Hannibal was still there.
A figure stood next to Hannibal's grave. It had been a long time since they had seen him. "Hey guys," said Frankie, as they got closer. They hugged and patted each other on the back.
"Good to see ya' little brother," said B.A.
"I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the funeral. Did you get the arrangement?" He asked.
"Yeah, we did. Thanks," said Face.
"How're you doin'?" Frankie asked.
"Okay, for the most part," smile Face. "We're still kickin'."
"Well, I'll leave you alone with the Colonel. Probably a lot to talk to him about. If you need anything, anything at all.."
Murdock smiled. "We'll find ya'. Thanks, Frankie."
"I know I didn't know him as long as you guys, but he was a great man," said Frankie, as he turned to walk away. "Oh, yeah. Great idea for the headstone, fellas."
The guys looked at each other curiously and glanced down to read the headstone. They stared in shock at the inscription.
"Did you..." started Face.
Murdock raised his hands defensively. "Not me, muchacho. Was it you, B.A.?"
B.A. shook his head. "Nope. Who in the world..."
B.A. and Murdock turned to look at Face, doubled over with laughter. "What's so funny, sucka'?"
Face brushed a tear off his cheek. "He said he'd be listening. Looks like he was able to get a message across the Great Divide."
Everyone smiled. They layed the flowers they had brought down on the grave and turned to leave. If they would have stayed a few seconds longer, they would have heard a light laugh carried on the breeze and caught the whiff a freshly lit cigar. For on the bottom of the tombstone was inscribed "I Love It When A Plan Comes Together."
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