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From A Deeper Darkness
by stompy sara
Summary: The military assigns a new man to find the A-Team - and the new man decides breaking Murdock is the key to the team's downfall.
Warnings: Slash, m/m com/noncon. sexual situations, language, violence, angst, torture.
Author's Notes: I've done a few short stories about Murdock and Face since I started this one, but I'm leaving it as is for now. Consider the timeline to be only a few months after "Letting Off Steam" in the stage of their relationship. If anyone spots a discrepancy, please e-mail me!
A Deeper Darkness
Part 1: Musings
H.M. Murdock woke to the screams of the man in the next cell, and wondered why he felt light and giddy. Then remembered.
Templeton Peck loved him.
He lay staring out the thick plexiglass window of his cozy room. Mist curled heavily around the ancient oaks of the front lawn, and it was too early for anyone to be outside yet. Murdock smiled to himself. Touched his cheek where the Faceman had last kissed him.
Frowned as the screams next door turned to hiccupping sobs. He wouldn't shut it out this time. Something was truly screwed up next door, and he, H.M. Murdock, patient advocate, was going to find out what. He rolled out of bed, threw a flannel shirt on over the hospital-issue scrubs he often wore when he was here, and looked out the window of his closed door. A haggard nurse trudged closer, clutching her blue cardigan around her. She paused before the door, sighed before turning the knob. Jumped back as a hulking orderly appeared. Murdock pressed his ear to the door to hear them.
"What's going on?" The nurse eyed the big man with evident suspicion. The orderly was no one Murdock recognized, athletic-looking, wavy brown hair and a square jaw. He shrugged at the nurse's question, leaned against the wall.
"Heard him screaming, so I went in to see if I could calm him down. He said he was having a nightmare, or something. He's okay now."
"Dennis, I would appreciate it if you called one of the nurses first. That's the regulation for Kevin around here. If we need help from the orderlies, we'll call you."
Dennis straightened, smiled good-naturedly. "Sure, no problem. Just trying to help, ma'am."
She smiled back. "I know you were. And there's no need to call me ma'am. Makes me feel old. You go on back to the lounge. And I'll call if I need you, okay?"
"Okay." Dennis left, looking back over his shoulder, grinning like a kid on punishment. Murdock wouldn't trust the guy farther than he could throw him. Which, in this case, wouldn't be very far. Dennis looked to be well over six feet, and twice Murdock's weight. Murdock knocked loudly on his own door. The nurse came over and opened it.
"What's all the commotion? I'm tryin' ta get my beauty sleep." Murdock leaned against the doorframe, pretending to yawn.
"Everything's fine, Murdock. Go back to sleep."
"I can't. I think someone's trying to tunnel into my room through the wall. I heard them whispering about it last night. They're gonna take me, I can tell!"
The nurse, who Murdock knew was named Karen, sighed, fed up with the last half-hour of her late shift. "Murdock, I have to go check on Mr. Patelli. He was having a nightmare, that's all. Maybe you just heard him in your sleep and dreamt it was something else. I need to close the door, okay?"
"Maybe I can help. I've had nightmares before."
"I don't think so. Murdock, please. . ."
Murdock grinned and released the door handle. "Alright, Karen. Come visit me tomorrow. I'll show you where they're digging the tunnel." He bounced back into bed, snickering as he heard her sigh again loudly before the door closed. He lay staring at the ceiling a while before grabbing the phone from the nightstand, dialed without looking. The voice that answered was decidedly grumpy.
"Hi Facey! Miss me?"
"Me too. I can't sleep. I think somethin's goin' on around here. The natives are gettin' restless."
"Murdock, its - uh, 6:03am. I'm still sleeping, you know?"
"No you're not, you're talkin' ta me on the phone. WAKEY WAKEY!"
"God damn- " Murdock pulled the covers up to his ear and turned, listening happily as Face cursed and tried to put two words together and make a sentence.
"Yes, Murdock. I'm awake. You know what time I got back last night?"
"No. I wasn't with ya last night. It's been seven days and six hours and twenty-three minutes and fifty-three seconds since I last saw you. Fifty-five. Fifty-six. . ." Murdock pouted as Face sighed.
"I know you miss me, Murdock. I miss you too. But I had to work that function last night, and I got home really late. You mind calling me back? Say, at noon?"
"That's HOURS away. . ."
"Please. I'll make it up to you. I'll get you a pass in a couple days, okay?"
Murdock frowned, let hurt curl around his heart, stuck his lip out even though Face couldn't see him. Face thought it was so cute when he pouted. He wanted to wrap his arms around Face's slender body, feel the muscles in his back tremble from their touch. Shit. He'd never felt trapped at the VA before.
"Murdock? You still there?"
"Don't be mad. I promise to see you soon. We'll tell Hannibal and B.A. we're taking a vacation, and go somewhere. Just the two of us, okay?"
Murdock smiled dreamily at the images that brought to mind. "Don't you try to work me too, Face honey. Your cons don't work on this madman."
"Don't I know it. Um, Murdock. . . when are we telling the guys about us? You know, officially?"
"Whenever you like, honey." Murdock indulged in dreams of himself and Face in a meadow, bees droning around them, kissing Face's mouth dusted with yellow pollen. . .
"Murdock? Are you alright?"
"What? Yeah, I'm alright. Don't worry. Just - miss ya. I never missed you like this before, Face. It's kinda scary."
"I know. I feel like that sometimes, too." There was a long pause. "You know, we could try to get you released. For good, I mean."
Murdock felt a stab of fear in his gut. "Nah. It's better this way. They'll tail my ass everywhere if I get out. Guess I'll just pine away for now. You go back to sleep. I shouldn't a waked ya."
"It's okay. Look, I'll call you when I get up, okay?"
"I'm gonna go now."
"Yeah, Facey." Murdock waited expectantly.
"I love you."
"Love you too, hun." Murdock dropped the phone in it's cradle, pulled the covers over his head and fell back into sleep.
Part 2: Rictus
Patrick Tate waited patiently in the lobby for the General to call him into the conference room. He sat perfectly still, hands folded in his lap, stared down at the polished leather of his boots. His mind was blank, a void waiting to be filled with orders, instructions.
He was dead-pale of hair and complexion, fortyish, fit. The wide-spaced eyes were a deep marine blue, startling, trapped behind the straw-colored lashes. He rarely blinked.
A woman opened the double doors to his left. He turned slowly, looked at her. She smiled uneasily.
"The General would like to speak to you now." He followed her inside.
Three men and another woman sat at a circular table. Tate recognized only General Cameron, an imposing man with salt-and-pepper hair, coke-bottle glasses. The General gestured for Tate to sit, flipping through a file nervously. Tate could feel the tension as it radiated towards him and the others at the table. They were all staring at him, sizing him up. Tate slid into the chair, hands folded in his lap again. General Cameron looked up, eyes narrowed behind the thick lenses.
"We have a job for you, Major." He slid the thick folder across the table to Tate, who opened it with the same deliberate timing he exibited in every movement. He turned pages in the dossier. The last picture leapt out at him. He looked up.
"What do you want me to do?"
"Capture those three men. Use that last man to get to them. I believe you'll remember him from an incident during the war?"
Tate looked down again, felt a curious sensation. Rage. Yes, that's what it was.
"I remember." Absolutely unconsciously, he brought a hand to his nose. It was what marred his otherwise fine-boned features. The bridge had been so smashed, the cartilage such a mess. And the Saigon doctors had tried their best, but still it sat in the middle of his face, a misshapen lump. The scars under his eyes had healed, but he had never bothered with cosmetic surgery for his nose after returning to the states. Every look in the mirror was a reminder he cherished.
His smile, as he looked up at the General, was ghastly. His right hand clenched so tightly his arm shook. Rarely did Patrick Tate feel much of anything, but the rage he remembered from years past. It was the only emotion left to him, and it was pure and poisonous. He noticed the woman shiver, the man to his right shift slightly away from him. The General stared hard at him.
"Free reign on this one, Major. Do what you must. We have appointments coming up. People's careers depending on this. On you. You understand?"
"We'll get you whatever you require for this. Extract the information. Use whatever means necessary. Bring me updates. And I shouldn't have to say that this assignment is absolutely confidential. Speak to no one of it except myself. Major Bartlett, Colonels Freeman and Marceau," gesturing to each person in turn, "will be updated by me. Any questions?"
"Take the folder with you." Tate rose, saluted each officer, even though he was no longer really a Major himself. Token title, keep him happy probably, or convince themselves he was legit. They only used him for assignments such as this. For the dirty work, the work that was never on the record. He turned and went through the double doors again. Later he would go to his quarters, go over every detail in the thick manila envelope under his arm. Eleven years was a long time. He would have to get reacquainted with Captain H.M. Murdock in order to break him. That rictus of a smile stayed with him as he left the building.
Part 3: Malice
Murdock idly split his canned beets into little squares using his fork, watched Dennis across the cafeteria. He was standing over Kevin Patelli, who stared tight-lipped at his plate as the bigger man said something into his ear. Kevin was younger than Murdock by a few years, but had been here as long. So far as Murdock knew, he had been feeling better, closer to facing the real world, the nightmares receding, until a few nights ago. His hoarse shrieks were enough to wake the dead, and Murdock was cranky with lack of sleep. He continued observing the two men under half-closed lids, stabbing the tines of the fork into the gelled beets, making little patterns.
Dennis put one meaty hand on the smaller man's shoulder, squeezed hard. Kevin gritted his teeth, remained silent, and Murdock had had enough. He crossed the long space between the two tables without thought, soon stood right next to the orderly, who looked up in surprise.
"Where'd you come from?"
Murdock grinned. "You and Kevin becomin' real good friends, eh?"
Dennis had the decency to look guilty before suspicious anger took over. "Go back to playing with your food, Murdock. Kevin and I were having a little talk. I'm trying to help him get rid of those nightmares, right Kevin?"
"Right." Kevin's voice quavered. He was still staring at his plate like it was the most fascinating thing in the world.
"He don't sound too convinced, Dennis. I'd leave the head shrinking to the doctors around here."
Dennis took his hand off Kevin's shoulder, faced Murdock squarely, his broad shoulders and body filling most of Murdock's line of sight. Murdock wished the mudsucka was around to do a little ass-whuppin,' but refused to back down. The orderly leaned closer, whispering.
"When I finish with Kevin, I could give you some advice too." His breath in Murdock's ear was heavy with threat, and something else Murdock shrank from. He raised one eyebrow in disbelief.
"And they call me sick."
Dennis grinned, trying for innocence. "I don't know what you mean. I'm just doing my job. We're here to help, after all. I want to help."
"Why don't I help your ass right outta here?" Murdock placed himself between Kevin, still huddled in the chair, and the orderly towering over him. He'd heard rumors of problems like this but never seen it first-hand. The head nurse was gonna get an earful.
Dennis cast a quick glance around, but no other staff members were looking their way. Murdock had one hand on the back of Kevin's chair, resisting a tremendous urge to deck this jerkoff. His fist would probably break on the granite jaw. He felt the younger man behind him shaking through his grip on the chair, and white-hot fury swept through him. Something in his gaze must have spooked Dennis, and he took a hesitant step back. Murdock propelled the force of his crazed anger out at the larger man.
"You smell that?" Deranged widening of eyes. Dennis looked confused.
"That. I HATE that smell." Murdock glanced around, moving towards Dennis the whole time. "I knew it. That's ammonia. I told them not to use ammonia here anymore!" He raised his voice, still maneuvering Dennis away from the table. A ribbon of fear finally insinuated itself into Dennis' eyes as he realized he might have a dangerous patient and a big scene on his hands soon. He took two more steps back then fled to the nurse's station. Murdock immediately turned and sat next to Kevin.
Kevin was taking small panicked breaths, his hands clenched tight in his lap, still staring down at the table. He was small and slender, with longish black hair and large green eyes. He looked absurdly young, but was actually about thirty. Murdock could see why Dennis was picking him for his little games. His stomach lurched sickeningly. He was careful not to touch the younger man, who was fast closing himself off from everything.
"I'll go get the nurse, she'll take you back to your room."
"No!" Kevin shot his hand out, closed it tightly on Murdock's arm. He looked up at the pilot pleadingly. "Don't let them take me back there. He'll come for me tonight. He always comes at night!"
Murdock put his free hand over Kevin's gently. "Why didn't you say something to the nurses, or your doctor?"
"I have. They don't believe me. They think - they think it's all in my head, like the other things I've told them - I don't know what to do! It's not in my head, Murdock. You know! You know what it's like! I swear this is real! I'm not real good at knowing reality from my dreams usually but this - this is - help me." His voice was high and frightened. Murdock knew a little about his case, and unfortunately understood why the doctor would be skeptical. Kevin had suffered similarly in the POW camps during the war. He'd accused his first doctor here of raping him, suffering horrible flashbacks that intruded at stressful times. Murdock knew too well how those memories could suddenly rise up and drown actuality.
A nurse hurried over to the table. "Dennis told me Kevin's having some problems?" She eyed Murdock like one would a ticking bomb. "You alright, Murdock? He said you mentioned ammonia."
Murdock gave her his most sober look. "I'm fine. Dennis is the problem."
"Now Murdock, I know you're angry - "
"I'm not off my rocker this time. I'm serious. You need someone to look into this. Dennis is harassing Kevin." Murdock had his arm over Kevin's shoulders. Kevin was hunched over, looking at the nurse through a tangle of hair. He said nothing, but nodded silently. The nurse cocked her head, thinking. Then shook her head.
"I can't decide these things right now. You two go on back to your rooms, and I'll have Dr. Rueda talk to Dennis. He seemed like such a capable young man, and we're desperately short of orderlies. I don't know how this'll pan out." She spoke sincerely to Murdock, recognizing his lucid stages. Murdock still felt like shouting. Sometimes being the patient had distinct disadvantages. He led Kevin out of the cafeteria, passing Dennis on the way out. They locked gazes, stared hate at each other, silent battle that lasted until Murdock was through the doorway.
Part 4: Accessory
Tate sat in the waiting room, watched doctors and nurses busy with paperwork, patients ushered hurriedly through the harshly lit corridors. The west wing. Murdock was there. He almost smiled before remembering people could see him here. A big orderly came strolling down the hallway, paused at the front counter, tried to flirt with the receptionist. She smiled uneasily and went into the back office. Tate watched the orderly. He knew that flat considering look, masking hidden desire, hunger. A brother. He had control here that others couldn't see. His name tag said 'Dennis' in big black letters. Dennis' eyes were following a small, slender, nervous man, a patient, who crept away down the hall, hugging the wall. The orderly's gaze traveled to the patient's backside. Tate narrowed his eyes. Fucked up. Nobody saw it but him?
Tate watched Dennis follow the patient to his room. The patient stopped, backed against the wall. Dennis opened the door, gestured in a gentlemanly fashion for the patient to enter. The patient sat on the floor, arms wrapped tight around himself. Dennis shrugged and beckoned to a nearby nurse.
A second patient appeared in his doorway. Tate's eyes sharpened. Murdock. Eleven years had thinned his hair, aged his face a bit. But this was the same skinny guy that had attacked him, screamed bloody murder into the pouring rain as his fist connected with bone. Tate remembered standing over the girl one minute. Face in the mud the next, blood mixing with it into a gory sludge. Fucking meddling flyboy. He listened with satisfaction to the sound of his teeth grinding together.
Murdock slid across the hallway to crouch near the other patient, talking in a low tone. Tate couldn't hear the words, but the sound of the light drawling voice made him tremble. No doubt. Same man. Don't make a move yet. Watch. Observe. Learn. Tate folded his hands, rotated his neck slowly, waiting for the tendons to crack the tension out.
Dennis murmured something, standing over the two patients. Murdock rose with feral grace, stalking the larger man. Tate saw hatred crackle between them. Dennis' smile was primitive lust. He wanted Murdock. Wanted to break him. Tate knew. Yes. A brother. He needed an inside man. He needed a scapegoat.
Tate continued to sit stone-still, listening to Murdock and Dennis exchange whispered threats. This older Murdock wasn't the same kid after all. Wiser, wily. It was in the line of his body, the tone of voice. The way his hands moved. Something held there beneath the surface, reserves of intensity he used as a weapon. Strength there. He would have to be careful. Dennis saw it too, or was afraid that the staff would see in him what Murdock evidently understood. Dennis was a predator here. Murdock refused to be the prey, was protecting his fellow patients.
Eventually, Dennis left. Murdock guided the smaller nervous patient into his room. Stood in front of the closed door for a moment, watching Dennis turn a corner far down the hall. His hands opening and closing, knuckles whitening.
Tate got up and left before the pilot could turn and see him. He had time. He allowed himself to smile as he descended the shallow steps. Plenty of time. Fuck the General and his urgency. This was his show now. There was no one else. He was always the last resort.
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