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This page last viewed: 2017-08-15 and has been viewed 2194 times
Warnings: Mention of sex, character death (yes, major), mention of character death in the past (again, major), all around depressing story.
Summary: It's been a few years since the A-Team has split up, and Murdock gets an unexpected visitor.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Don't sue, please.
Woke up this morning.
Crawled out of bed at half past dark, trying to get the cotton out of my mouth and the scuz out of my eyes before turning on the lights in my small apartment. The lights burned. I squinted in the unshaded halogen brightness and poured myself a cup of water. I splashed some more water on my face to wake myself up. All it did was add a chilliness to my exhaustion, and allowed me to feel the stubble on my face. I think it's been growing there for a few days; I'm not sure. I know my boss won't care, he never does. He sees me as one of his janitors, nothing else. I'm behind the scenes, out of sight, out of mind, so he doesn't care if I come to work stinking like a pig. All he cares is if I come to work.
I walked to work on that chilly, damp December morning, like I always do, and I thought that this beaten old leather jacket was far too thin for Washington winters, like I always do. I could see the Washington Monument against the bleak, gray skies of D.C. I hate that damn thing. I hate all the monuments here. Majestic, marble, and bronze, ancient Greece casting it's looming shadow over the ghettoes of Sri Lanka.
A ten-year-old boy beside me grabbed his crotch and cursed at a ten-year-old girl who was walking away. I heard a shot, and a siren followed a few moments later. I kept walking, like I always do.
I work in a posh hotel near the Capitol building. It's not much of a job, but at least when I work here, I don't have to worry too much about getting stabbed or shot at. The money's not that great, but I can't really get another job. Forget the whole equal opportunity bull. Nobody would hire me for a decent job, not with my record.
I sound like a hick.
I spent the better part of my adult life in a psychiatric hospital.
I was a known associate of the A-Team.
It had been years since I'd seen them, true. Hannibal was rotting in his grave, BA was a permanent homebody taking care of his mother, and Face, well, last I heard, Face was a missionary somewhere in the Philippines. Frankie was in Colombia, with family, Tawnia still thought the Team had been executed, and Amy-
Amy. She never did come back from that overseas assignment. I'd gotten a few letters from her at the VA, postcards from a variety of places, but, eventually, they stopped coming. She probably thought we were all dead, rotting in some prisoners' graveyard, with no one here to mourn or care. Sometimes, I wish that were true, at least for me. Hannibal, he was too smart to go. The world needed him. I should've gone instead, just one less crazy fool on this earth. Sometimes, I don't understand things like that, and I have to walk around a lot to clear my head. One time I was walking around and it started raining, but I didn't notice. I ended up going to the hospital for pneumonia, but they didn't take me to a military hospital, they took me to a state one, and I had to pay my own money. I tried to leave, but they wouldn't transfer me. Said I wasn't strong enough to transfer. I knew they just wanted the money. I didn't have any insurance. The insurance people knew what kind of enemies I'd made over the years; hell, some of them were my enemies. They didn't want to cover such a liability. So that's where most of the money from when I was on the team went.
Anyway, it'd been years since I'd seen them. But opinions, especially public opinions, are hard to change.
Work was monotonous. Clean up after dignitaries and rich folk who look down on you, sometimes pity you. How many of these people would ever be able to believe that I graduated from West Point in the top five percent of the class, that I can fly anything that's been designed, that I could calculate pi out to the twentieth place just for the hell of it; I wonder. Maybe one or two, but not many. I don't mind it, though, not too much. They never knew the people I knew, had the friends I had. I'm richer for that, I think.
My days go on like this, every day, the same routine. It's a broken record that I can't fix. I grow weary of it sometimes, and I wish it would change soon.
Soon had arrived too fast today. I heard a voice as I was about to leave, one that I had not heard in years. I closed my locker and left the back way, knowing that the voice was coming from the front desk, knowing that there was no way in hell that I was gonna let Amy Amanda Allen see me like this. I walked quickly, hoping she'd be thrown off my track. Tomorrow; tomorrow my life can change, not today, please not today.
I forgot my jacket. In the rush to leave, I forgot my jacket. The gray skies had turned dark during the day, and tonight, the skies opened wide, spewing a white, silent death upon the earth. It was snowing fast, and apparently had been for the better part of the day, because there was about six inches of it on the ground. It was cold, and, as I shoved my hands deeper into my pockets, I realized that my keys were in that jacket. I shrugged and kept walking, thinking I'd reach a shelter sometime soon. I didn't even hear the car pulling up behind me.
"Get in, Murdock." It was a nice car she had, a pretty little rental. It was cold out, and I could feel the heat coming out of the open passenger window, but there was a dirty snow pile between me and her and I didn't wanna track dirty snow into her car.
"Get in." I got in. The heat from the car was a shock and I shivered a little. We sat there for a while. I wish we didn't, because she had a nice car in the middle of the night in D.C. But we sat there, and she looked at me. The shadows covered her face up to where I couldn't see her expression.
"You look gaunt." Her voice was flat, and made me uncomfortable. I didn't want to be pitied, or judged, but at the same time, I didn't want to be chastised or anything. I knew she was really trying to hide her surprise in seeing me-especially looking how I was-so I felt a little guilty. I looked out the now raised window and tried to straighten my hair a little, and I glimpsed a little of what she saw.
She touched me on the shoulder and I jumped about a mile in the air. The nation's capital doesn't make people very trusting. I learned that the hard way.
I think Amy asked me something, but I wasn't paying too much attention. I looked at her blankly, tired after a long day. I was always tired nowadays, it seemed.
"I said, when was the last time you ate?"
I kept staring at her. It still didn't click for a moment what she'd asked, but when it did, I turned away quickly. I honestly couldn't remember when my last meal was, but I didn't want to worry her so I made something up.
She saw through my lie instantly; I could tell by her motions. We finally drove off in utter silence. The snow muffled humanity around us, and we left that muffled humanity untouched. We drove back to the hotel, and apparently she was staying there because the desk attendants let her right through. Maybe I should tell her to go to a different hotel; after all, I do know how "clean" this one is.
Her room was very tidy. She'd always kept her room tidy. Most guests here leave it dirty, merlot bottles and condoms littering the floor. They never care about the help.
Amy didn't look much older since I'd seen her last, even though it had been nearly fifteen years. She looked good for someone who was up at two in the morning taking care of a poor old bastard like me. I don't know why she cared at all, why she didn't just pretend she didn't know me.
"Murdock," she said sadly, "sit down, hon." I don't remember her ever using the word hon before; maybe she was just too tired to avoid it. I sat down and she sat down beside me. She looked like she wanted to say something but couldn't, and she touched the tips of her fingers to my face. I flinched. I couldn't help it.
She held my face in her hands and started crying. I don't know why. I don't know a lot, it seems. She pulled me closer, just holding me, and I was too tired and too confused to do anything except fall asleep.
I woke up in a cold sweat around five-thirty. Unfortunately, Amy had fallen asleep while holding me, so I thought I might have woken her up too. I'd been having nightmares since Hannibal died, bad ones, more often than ever. I only hoped I didn't wake up Amy. She'd looked so tired earlier, and I was hoping she would get some sleep or something. Sleep is what heals the mind and body, and I don't want her to end up like me.
I looked up at her, and thankfully, she was still asleep. I picked her up and carried her to the bed, thinking she'd sleep better there. She woke up when I was at the door and called for me. I turned around to face her.
"Where're you going?" She sounded real sleepy, which I guess was to be expected and all.
"Get somethin' to eat first."
I shrugged. "Can't. No money."
That woke her right up. Should've told her I'd be late for work or something. She got up and brushed past me to get to the phone.
"Murdock," she started quietly. "In the top of my bag are some disposable razors if you need one." It sounded less like a friendly observation and more like an order. I helped myself to a little pastel green shaver while she ordered room service. I left the bathroom door open; I'm not used to having doors on bathrooms anymore. I don't really like doors at all, or darkness.
Maybe I should love the darkness. Embrace it, even. For in the light, I saw myself as I looked to Amy.
I froze. I don't know what happened to the shaver, but I wasn't holding it because one hand was gripping the sink top while the other trembled on my face. My eyes were sunken and red, my hair graying, dull and lifeless, my skin pale and tight over my cheeks. I looked like a heroin addict.
Something happened next, but the only thing I remember is Amy, haloed in the bathroom lights, putting a paper bag over my mouth.
I woke up to the sound of softly beeping equipment. Amy was there, in different clothes, looking well rested, sitting by me. The room wasn't as stark as regular hospital rooms-yes, I'm assuming I was in a hospital room.
She must have seen me looking in confusion because she said I was in Walter Reed Memorial Hospital. I lied back down relaxed and warm.
"How long?" It must've been long, because my voice was hoarse.
"Two and a half days." She smiled and patted my now clean-shaven cheek. "The doctors said you were exhausted and starving." Didn't need a doctor to tell me that. "They want to keep you here for observation for the day." Her face turned serious, but stayed soft. "You know you can sue that hotel, right?"
I nodded as my senses came back to me slowly. I hadn't felt this relaxed in years, but, still, something was bothering me.
"Amy," I rasped out, "why are you here?"
She blinked, confused. "Wh-what? What do you mean?"
Amy smiled comprehendingly. "I'm freelance now, Murdock. Was on assignment with the Washington Post."
"So you're unemployed?" I joked. She glared at me with a spark in her eyes and a grin on her face.
The nurse came in and told us visiting hours were up. Bureaucratic assholes. I never understood why society tries to mandate schedules like that. It's like that Harlan Ellison story; if the timetable is disrupted, society is disturbed drastically.
Amy came back to pick me up the next day in her pretty little car. We went back to that hotel, packed her stuff, and moved to another one. We had lunch at the new hotel, and then made love.
I pulled away from her hot and trembling, feeling like it was my first time all over again, and I could tell by the way she was looking at me she felt the same. A voice inside me scolded me, saying she was the kid who looked up to me and I was supposed to be her protector, not her next screw. But I knew she wasn't that kid anymore, never had been, and even though it had all been so sudden, it really hadn't. It was years in the making, and I knew it could last for years to come as I fell asleep in Amy's embrace. It was my first restful night in years.
Amy was looking at me when I woke up. I've found that when a woman looks at you like that, it could mean any number of things, good or bad. That is to say, I really had no clue what she was thinking.
"I've got cancer."
I blinked uncomprehendingly. It wasn't possible. She couldn't have cancer, it just wasn't possible. "What?"
"It's terminal." Amy was trying not to let her voice crack, but her eyes were watering. It hadn't sunk in yet, not in those first few moments; she was too young. She couldn't be more than-what? Thirty? Amy Amanda Allen, star reporter, one-time member of the A-Team, had cancer. Hannibal had had cancer, that's because he smoked, but Amy didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't even drink soda, she was too healthy to get cancer, too young, too sweet. . .
It sunk in. My soul collapsed, shattered under too much pressure, pouring out in a torrential flood from my eyes, a choked scream from my throat. I pulled her close, trying to make her a part of me, to absorb the monster within her, trying to hang on to what was there, she couldn't be taken away from me, not now, oh god not now, I wouldn't be able to take it, that's a selfish thought, but dammit, she can't be taken away from me now!
I was sobbing uncontrollably, unable to breath, unable to see, curled up in her arms, pleading with her to not leave me here alone. I heard her say "I love you," but I couldn't say anything, I couldn't do anything but whimper.
Amy passed away three weeks later. We'd gotten married, and I'd used the very last of my savings to get a quick settlement with the hotel. Amy was right about them, and they gave me enough money to survive comfortably for the next twenty years. Some of that money went towards taking her to Disney World. In all her travels, she'd never been to Disney World. She looked like a kid, getting on all the rides two or three times in a row. She was looking well, even to the end.
I won a big, fluffy stuffed sheepdog for her at one of the carnie stands. She named him Billy.
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