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NEW BEGINNINGS: Part One

NEW BEGINNINGS: Part One

BY: Tee

 

Rating PG-13 (a few pesky swear words)

Comments: This story is a sequel to Break-in in Belmont, but can stand-alone. It takes place less then a year after their conviction.

 

Summary: Face gets sick, but nothing serious.

 

Copyright: Iím sorry, but I really am infringing on someone elseís copyright, but I mean it in the best possible way. If youíd like to archive, please leave my name and email and everything else intact, and let me know where.Thank you.

 

TO: P.K. Because you paid attention and nag very nicely. However, I think you have some kind of fetish for the apostrophe. It goes here, it goes there. Nag, nag, nag. And youíre right, sometimes it just takes a phone call.

 

October 2000 by Tee Fischer

 

Comments: Feedback appreciated and wanted.

 

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings

 

 

It had taken four days to drive back from Belmont, Connecticut to Los Angeles.Face decided they were four very long days.It wasnít that he didnít like to be around BA and Hannibal, he did.It was just hard to sit in the back of the hot van, with no window to look out of, no air conditioning, and BA didnít like to listen to the radio when he drove.

 

Heíd tried to read, but his mind wouldnít concentrate.He was uncomfortable.The bench seat in the back of the van was vinyl and hard.He had taken a dunking in a pond back in Connecticut and an hour of shivering had left him with sore muscles and feeling like his skin was on too tight.

 

Not that heíd ever tell Hannibal.Hannibal would just say he was out of shape and plan some training mission and make BA and him run up and down the Santa Monica Mountains with 25 pound packs on their backs.

 

No, he decided to keep that information to himself and the next house he scammed was going to have a Jacuzzi in the back. Heíd just soak for a few hours and heíd feel fine.

 

But for now, he sat in the back of the van, hot and fidgety and tried not to whine.BA had promised to pound him into the ground if he let out one more peep about how uncomfortable he was.

 

"Are we almost there?" Face asked, amazed at how juvenile it sounded to his own ears.

 

Hannibal chuckled and BA rolled his eyes."Almost." Hannibal said and he continued to discuss the merits of the Dallas Cowboy line up with BA.

 

"Where do you want us to drop you?" Hannibal asked as they passed the city limit sign.

 

"The Beverly-Wilshire Hotel." Face said, squirming in the back seat."Iím not driving across country on this seat again." He stated firmly.

 

BA snorted.

 

"The Beverly-Wilshire?" Hannibal asked.

 

"Yes, they have a bank of phones, I need to make a few calls, then Iíll take a cab."

 

"Do you have plans for the next few days?" Hannibal still felt uncomfortable that during their stay in Connecticut he hadnít done a very good job of keeping track of his second in command.

 

"No, you?"

 

Hannibal looked out the window. "I need to hook up with Chuck, there are still a few scenes of "SwampThing" to shoot. Other than that, nothing much. What about you BA?"

 

BA shook his head, "I met a buddy from ĎNam before we left town. He runs an auto body shop down on Lincoln, he said he might have some work for me.Kinda under the table."

 

Hannibal narrowed his eyes."Can you trust him not to turn you in."

 

"Yeah, heís a brother."BA said firmly.

 

"Ok, but I want both of you to keep in touch.I want two check in calls a day.If Iím on the set, leave a message on my machine."Hannibal turned around and gave Face a glare. "Understood?"

 

"Two a day. Got it."Face waited until Hannibal turned around to wipe the sweat off his face onto his sleeve.

 

"Thatís morning and evening, Face.I donít want two calls at 7 a.m."

 

Face had to chuckle, that was what he had planned for the first day. "Right."

 

BA pulled up to the valet parking at the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel and got out to pull Faceís bag from the back."You watch your back, Lieutenant and donít forget to check in tonight." Hannibal said as Face pulled open the door of the van.

 

"Iíll be fine Hannibal, donít worry about me."Face graciously accepted his duffel bag from BA and waited for them to pull out, before heading into the hotel.

 

The first thing he did was head into the downstairs bathroom.Inside one of the stalls, he changed from his jeans and polo shirt into a fine dark blue suit, a white shirt and a red tie.No one understood how hard it was to keep a suit from wrinkling inside a duffel bag.He came out of the stall, straightened his tie, checked his hair in the mirror and splashed cold water on his face.

 

Feeling more as if he belonged at the posh hotel he went back out and gave his bag to the concierge and changed a twenty for ones and change.Then went over to the semi-private phones and made a few calls.

 

Thirty minutes later he had an apartment lined up and had called for a cab.He grabbed a local paper and sat in the foyer waiting for his name to be called. Ten minutes after that a scruffy cab driver came into the lobby and asked for him. Face stood up gave him his claim check for his bag and headed out to the cab.It was good to be home.

 

Face dumped his bag on the bed of his newly scammed apartment. It was spacious and airy with thick, dark carpeting and pale walls.

 

The first thing he did in a new apartment was to go through it two or three times.Flipping off and on the lights, opening the drawers, cupboards and closets.By the time he had been in the apartment for an hour it was as if he had lived there for months.He knew where almost everything was, so as not to embarrass himself if he had someone over.

 

But this time he didnít feel comfortable and he realized it was not the apartment, it was him.He flopped down on the bed with his feet on the floor and stared at the ceiling.

 

He realized he was tired of being with Hannibal and BA after all.BA kept threatening him with one kind of bodily harm or another and Hannibal kept clucking over him like a mother hen. Hannibal had never been over-protective before and it was annoying.Face knew it had something to do with when he had gotten separated from them during the job, but it wasnít really any big deal.

 

He sighed again and stretched up to grab a pillow from the top of the bed.He pulled it down over his face and yelled into it.He just kept yelling until he was hoarse.Then he leapt to his feet and beat the pillow into submission against the bed.

 

Physically he was still hot and his body ached, but mentally he felt much better.He hung up the clothes in his duffel, took a shower, changed back into jeans and a polo shirt and went out to run errands.

 

Face had the cab drop him off at a car rental place, scammed a 71-mustang convertible and drove over to a distributor for mobile phones.He purchased the phone and gave detailed instructions on how the bill was to be mailed to his drop box in Century City.

 

He pulled out of the parking lot and into the left hand turn lane.He sat at the light waiting for the arrow and glanced over at the car on his right.For a moment nothing registered.Then he realized he was staring so he jerked his view forward again.It was a green sedan.An ugly, bland green sedan.There was no other color quite like it, and it didnít come from Detroit that way.It only came from a military paint bay.

 

He had to look again, just to confirm his own suspicions.He looked over to his right and raised himself, just a little.Damnation.There was the decal on the door. "United States Military."He shook his head, and raised his eyes.The driver was looking back at him.


Face gave a little grin and snapped his eyes forward again.After all, what where the odds that this one guy, driving this one car in the middle of the San Fernando Valley would have any idea who he was? It wasnít like his picture was plastered all over the place.A few military bulletins, a few wanted posters at the Post Office, that was all.

 

Los Angeles was full of people and there was no reason to believe that just because he was sitting at a stop light on Tejunga Boulevard that the MP in the car next to him would recognize him.The odds were in his favor.He kept his eyes forward and willed the light to change.Was this the longest light in the history of traffic lights?He tried not to tap his fingers on the wheel and found himself humming the "Jeopardy" theme.ĎChange already.í He glared at the red arrow.

 

Finally it changed to green and he slowly accelerated.Just then he heard a startled "Hey!"

 

He pressed more firmly on the gas and glanced up at the rear view mirror."Ah man, why me?" He muttered under his breath and edged the Mustang up to 55, then 65 as he watched the blue light of the car behind him come on.Sepulveda had no side streets until he went over the mountain and down into the valley on the other side.The mustang hit 85 at the top of the hill and 110 on the way down.By the time he approached Sunset the military car was far behind him.He power slid around the corner at Sunset and again at Bundy and one more time onto a little side street.

 

He slowed the car down to the speed limit and pulled into an apartment complex.He backed the car into a spot behind one of the buildings and waited.And waited some more.After a couple of minutes he pulled out the brochure for the new phone heíd purchased and read it over.Heíd give it ten minutes for the MP to get lost and his heart to stop pounding and then heíd head out again.

 

He snapped his head up when he heard a feminine voice. "Thatís my parking space." She said softly from the window of her shiney new red BMW.

 

Face looked left and right.Half the spaces on either side of him were empty. A soft smile played across his lips."Really? Iím sorry. How can I make it up to you?"

 

The blonde grinned."Well, just this once Iíll park in this next spot over.And you can help me take my groceries up.Itís so much farther then if I had parked in my regular spot." She positively purred at him.He grinned further and pulled at the collar of his polo shirt.

 

"Well, itís the least I could do." He said as he hoped out of the car.His headache for the moment forgotten.

 

Twenty minutes later he headed back down to the car.He really hadnít felt up to seducing the beautiful blonde, but he had gotten her phone number and promised heíd call.He made a point of telling her heíd be out of town for a few days, just so she wouldnít expect a call that night.

 

He looked hard at the Mustang as he fished the keys from his pocket. Maybe he needed to get his own car.One with its own car phone.Heíd bring it up to Hannibal the next time he called in. Something with a little more style.He grinned to himself, looked in the mirror, checked his hair and maneuvered the car back onto the road. The Military Police and the blonde were both already forgotten.

 

When he headed out he was trying to decide what to eat.It was almost 5pm and he didnít really want to get caught up in the dinner rush, and didnít feel much like finding a date for the evening.With a sigh he realized the only thing he wanted to do was talk to his best friend.

 

His best friend was HM Murdock, pilot extraordinaire and, unfortunately, an inmate at the Veteran psychiatric hospital.

 

Murdock was a funny, sensitive, intelligent man and the ugliness of war had unhinged him.Just a little.Most of the time, it wasnít a problem, but Murdock had found himself missing blocks of time and having more and more trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality.

 

After Hannibal, BA and Face had been arrested, tried and convicted of a crime they didnít commit, Murdock found himself in a fugue state and Ray Brenner had taken him to the hospital.Three days later, Murdock had been committed.

 

Face had taken to visiting Murdock at the hospital.He visited under the identity of Roy Hastings, aide to General Sherman Nelson.Nelson was a supposed friend of the family, and ĎHastingsí was just checking up on the son of a friend for the General.It was all a scam, but for the last nine months, it had been working fine.

 

But today he didnít want just a 20-minute chat with Murdock. He needed a buddy to talk to; he wanted to hang out with his pal.So, unable to decide what to eat, Face headed over to the VA hospital.

 

Scanning the grounds he made his way into the visitorsí section. He by-passed the nurses station without being seen and let himself into Murdockís room.Murdock wasnít there, but that was fine.There was a place next to the dresser where he couldnít be seen from the door and he just sat on the floor, grabbed a stack of comic books and settled in for a wait.

 

It was a couple of hours later when Murdock finally bounded into his room spouting brightly over his shoulder in a clipped British accent, "Terribly brilliant supper, old boys.Come Ďround for tea, soonest."Then the door to his room locked with a solid click.

 

Murdock skipped over to his bed until he saw a bundle of something lumped in the corner of his room.He cautiously moved over to it and nudged it with the toe of his high top sneaker.When it moved, he jumped backward.

 

"Hey Murdock." The lump stirred into the recognizable form of Face who had fallen asleep in a ball on the floor.

 

"Facey!" A grin lit Murdockís face."What brings you here, amigo?"

 

Face glanced over to the small window in the door and then stretched his back."I came to see you."

 

"You did? Thatís great."

 

Face waived two comic books at Murdock."Whereís 117?"

 

"Huh?" A look of confusion crossed his boyish face.

 

"The comics, you have 116 and 118 whereís 117?" Face looked a little perturbed.

 

"Gee, Iím not sure, Faceguy, why?" Murdock started to grin.

 

"Because, in 116 the sinister Dr X gets captured, and in 118 theyíre on to a whole new story line. What happened in 117? Iíve looked through every stack of comics you have, and I canít find it."

 

"I, em, IímÖ" Murdock burst out laughing. He shook his head. "I just donít know."

 

"Well, thatís just fine!" Face said with exasperation.He tossed the two comic books into a pile and slid back down onto the floor. His tone changed to one of warmth. "So, how yaí doiní, buddy?"

 

Murdock flopped down on his stomach on the bed with his head at the foot and peered over the edge at Face."Iím doiní pretty darn good, pal oímine. You?"

 

Face smiled back. "Iím doing fine, now.I was gonna bring a pizza and a six-pack, but I wasnít sure if you could drink with the meds youíre taking and I didnít want to drink alone."

 

Murdock just nodded wisely, "Just as well.We shall just have to make do with what I have here."

 

Face looked around the stark hospital room. "Just what do you have here?"

 

"Agua, and lots of it." Murdock waived toward the bathroom.

 

"Great.Thatíll be fine."

 

Murdock leapt to his feet and took a plastic cup to the bathroom and brought it back out, filled and presented it to Face as if it was fine crystal filled with expensive brandy. "So, buddy, what are you doing here?"

 

"I just spent a month with Hannibal and I was starting to feelÖ" Face stopped and searched for the correct words.

 

"Annoyed, irritated?" Murdock helped.

 

"No." Face shook his head.

 

"Tense, terse?"

 

"No." Face shook his head again.

 

"Confused, Contrite, Bewitched, bewildered, bemused?"

 

Face laughed."No, smothered." Face finally got out."He was watching me like a hawk. I just wanted to hang out with someone who wasnít scrutinizing my every move for a while.And since BA is just as bad as Hannibal, I elected you."

 

"Do I need a blindfold, or can I just keep my eyes closed?" Murdock drawled and put his hands up to cover his eyes.

 

Face laughed again."Just be my friend, okay?"

 

"That I can do, buddy boy."Murdock came down off the bed and sat next to Face on the floor."Why donít you tell me about Connecticut, thatís where you were, right?"

 

Face spent the next hour and a half relating the events of the last month.Face and Hannibal had gone to Belmont, Connecticut, where Hannibal was shooting a film called "SwampThing". Hannibal was playing the monster in a rubber suit and had to spend most of his days under water or stalking a shrieking girl in a bikini.

 

Face had gotten himself mixed up with an ex-con who was teaching kids the fine art of safecracking.Face was quick to point out that he could have handled the whole mess by himself. He left out the part where he spent close to an hour shivering after a dunking in the chilly pond in the directorís parentís backyard. For some reason Hannibal seemed to be mad at him and had spent the four days of the trip home watching him like a cat with a mouse.

 

"That donít sound like the Colonel." Murdock was quick to point out."What else did you do?"

 

"Murdock! Youíre supposed to be on my side, remember? I didnít do anything."Face was dismayed and crossed his arms over his chest.It was as close to a pout as Face got.

 

Murdock smirked, but let it go.He was sure that later he could get the part of the story that Face wasnít ready to spill."So, what did BA do to the van?"

 

Face did his best to recount the changes to the van.It should have been easier, as that seemed to be all that BA and Hannibal talked about.That and football.Face couldnít care less about the van and heíd rather play football then talk about it.

 

Murdock tried to keep the corners of his mouth from twitching up into a smile.That was part of the problem, Face was feeling left out of the conversation and had probably been bored for the last four days.

 

The topics of conversation were wide and varied.Some time late in the evening Murdock pulled the blankets off the bed and put them on the floor to keep their body heat from leaching out of their backside into the cold linoleum.

 

They were like two teenagers at a sleepover.They talked about everything that came to mind, from Murdockís therapy to Faceís latest scams.On and on they went into the wee hours of the morning.

 

Murdock watched Face carefully.Face was drinking a lot of water and was sweating, even though it was kept pretty cool at the VA, and Face was fidgeting.

 

"You feeling okay?"Murdock finally brought himself to ask when he came back with another cup of water.

 

"Yes." Face responded with annoyance.He looked down at his watch."Holy cow, Murdock.Itís 3am, maybe I should get out of here?"

 

Murdock laughed."Youíd have to break out, weíre locked in."

 

"Iím sure I can pick the lock." Face got to his feet, but he swayed and had to close his eyes.

 

Murdock sprang to his feet in time to grab Faceís elbow."You may be able to pick the lock, but security is pretty tight around here at night.I think you better stay till morning.When visiting hours start you can get in and out pretty easy."

 

Face nodded his head but when he tried to take a deep breath it came out as more of a gasp.

 

"This ainít good, muchacho." Murdock put his hand on the younger manís forehead."Youíre burning up."

 

"No, Iím fine, Murdock, really."Face said, but it sounded hollow even to his own ears. Actually, it sounded very far away as if someone else was talking.

 

"Come on." Murdock led Face over to the bed and put him under the sheet, on his side facing away from the door, then went back and scooped the blankets off the floor and covered his friend. Then Murdock sat down on the floor crossing his arms over his knees and put his chin on his arms."Nobodyís gonna see me down here.You just get some sleep, and Iíll call the Colonel in the morning."

 

Face moaned."Donít call the Colonel. Heíll just say Iím out of shape and make me rappel down a building or something."

 

"Face, youíre not out of shape, youíre sick."Murdock went to the bathroom and got a towel damp and brought it back to wipe Faceís sweaty brow.

 

"I donít need anybody to take care of me."Face snapped.

 

"I know you donít.Just let me do this okay.For me?"Murdock tried to keep the worry from his voice and make it sound like light-hearted banter.

 

"Just let me get a couple hours sleep, and then Iíll be fine.Itís just from sitting on the cold floor." Face half whispered as he was already nearing sleep, his arms crossed over his chest to help quell the shivering.

 

"You bet.Couple of hours youíll be good as new."Murdock made one more pass over Faceís forehead and sat back on the floor with a blink.

 

He shook his head and replayed the last few hours.He had sat just inches from his best friend and hadnít noticed anything wrong. Jeez, if Face could con him for so long was it any wonder that he could con total strangers out of almost anything. Murdock pulled his knees up to his chest, wrapped his arms around them and began to rock, back and forth.

 

Face woke an hour later, his eyes glazed and having a hard time breathing."Itís just that my chest hurts, Murdock. Iíll be okay."He kept putting his hand up to his diaphragm as if that helped him catch his breath.

 

"I donít like it, Faceguy.I donít like it one little bit.Thereís something wrong with you. Youíre sick."

 

Face got out of the bed on shaky legs and moved to the wall where they had been the night before so the orderlies coming down the hall couldnít see him."Iím fine, and youíre not gonna call Hannibal." Face said with exasperation. "Youíre as bad as he is. None of you guys think I can take care of myself.I used to command platoons of guys in ĎNam, you know."

 

Murdock gave up pretending he wasnít worried. "I know, Faceman, I was there, remember? Remember me, the one that came in and picked up you and your team after missions.Me, the guy that held your head when you tossed you cookies after a bender, or held your coat in a fight? Remember that that was me!I think I should know when youíre sick.And youíre sick now."

 

Face put his back against the cool tile wall and let his feet slide out from under him until his butt met the floor.His breath made a sound that sounded like a sob, "I donít want to be sick."

 

Murdock came over and sat next to his friend, putting his arm over Faceís shoulder."Itís okay, youíll be fine in a day or two."

 

"But I donít want to be alone." Face said miserably.

 

Murdock shook his head. "Why would you be alone?Iím here, ainít I?"

 

Face rolled over onto his side and put his head on Murdockís thigh."But when youíre sick the sisters send you to bed in a room by yourself so you donít get anyone else sick.I donít want to be by myself.Thatís why I came here to be with you."

 

Murdock was glad that Face had his eyes closed so that he couldnít see him roll his eyes.This was one of those childhood fears.He had enough of his own to recognize it in his best friend. "Itís okay, buddy.I wonít let you be alone."He patted Faceís shoulder and prayed his friend would go back to sleep.

 

Face lay still on the cold floor for the rest of the night.He never truly went back to sleep and anytime Murdock shifted, Faceís eyes flew open.But with reassuring gestures and soft words Face would settle back down.

 

"So, do you have plans for today?" Murdock asked as the morning sun made its way through the window. Face got up to stretch his back and sat back down.

 

"No, you want me to bust you outta here? We could go do something." Face said, doing a very good job of covering up the exhaustion in his voice.

 

Murdock flicked his eyes over to the clock on the wall, 6:45. "No, man, I got group therapy today at 10 and I want to go. Iím doing real good, even if I do have them very confused."

"Murdock," Face said with worry written all over his face, "why do you stay here, I mean, youíre not really crazy.Youíre not gonna hurt yourself or anything, are you?"

 

"No, man, Iím not gonna hurt myself. Not on purpose, but sometimes I just go away into my head and I forget where I am and what Iím doing andÖ" He let his words drift off, some things were too hard for words.

 

Face nodded his head, understanding.

 

"I just donít want to be alone for awhile." Murdock finally said softly. Face looked up at him with concern, and Murdock noticed how watery the blue-green eyes were."Sometimes, I wake up in the night, and here, there is always a light on, a nurse at the desk or an orderly in the hall.Iím never alone; there is always someone here if I need them.Understand?"

 

"You could come live with me." Face said solemnly.

 

Murdock smiled and draped his arm across his friendís shoulder, trying to ignore the heat that came through the thin material of the polo shirt."You donít know how much that means to me, Facey.But you canít be with me all the time.Youíll want to go to the movies, or out with a girl or hang out with Hannibal and BA.What if thatís the time I need you? I canít ask you to do that, itís way to much."Murdock squeezed the shoulder. "But I know you care, man, and that means everything to me."

 

"You know Iíd do anything for you." Face replied.

 

"I know, and for now I want you to leave me here. Okay?"

 

Face nodded giving his friendís words some thought.Murdock heard voices in the hall. "Murdock, Iím gonna have a phone put in here. So when a guy from the Phone Company shows up, play along, okay?"

 

Murdock gave a grin that lit up his whole face."Wow, Facey, really?That would be just way too cool.Can I call you? Anytime?"When Face nodded Murdock leapt to his feet and danced around a little."Will you give me the mudsuckerís phone number?" He asked wiggling his eyebrows mischievously.

 

"No, I donít think I will."

 

 

At 7am the orderlies came down the hall unlocking all the doors for the patients who were free to roam the ward."Get up, Facey, and stay in the bathroom.Iím gonna go get some juice and be right back, okay.If I make a quick appearance and come back in here, they wonít come in to clean up, okay? Then when visiting hours start you can get out of here, okay?"

 

Face frowned, but didnít say anything as he followed Murdockís instructions and locked himself in the bathroom.

 

Murdock headed down the hall to the pay phone in the lounge.He shoved a dime into the slot and dialed the number he had for Hannibal.

 

"Yeah!" Came gruffly through the line.

 

"Well, good morning to you too, Colonel." Murdock couldnít help but smile.

 

"Murdock? Is that you?" Murdock could hear the chuckle in Hannibalís voice."Sorry, I was hoping you were Face."

 

"Well, Iím not nearly as good looking, but I have my own special qualities." Murdock replied.

 

"No doubt about that Captain, what can I do for you this lovely fall day?"

 

"I have a wounded bird here, are you missing one?"

 

Hannibal held his breath and silently tried to count to ten, but he only got to five before he exhaled."How bad is he hurt?"

 

"He ainít hurt Colonel. Heís sick. Heís running a fever, and heís feeling a littleÖ"

"Picked on?"

 

It was Murdockís turn to chuckle."Well, thatís true enough, but I was going to say fragile. Heís afraid heís gonna be left alone."

 

"Heís been asking for nothing else for the last four days." Hannibal muttered.

 

"Maybe so, but I donít think he meant it."Murdock looked over his shoulder. "I think you better get here right away or heís gonna fly the coop."

 

"Iím on my way Murdock, thanks."

 

"Colonel." Murdock paused, "Go easy on him, heís really feeling scattered."

 

"Will do, Captain." Hannibal said and then hung up shaking his head.

 

Murdock went down to the commissary and helped himself to a large plate of food and a extra large glass of juice and in a grand voice informed everyone around that the Emperor must not be kept waiting and so he must depart.Orderlies chuckled and one held the door for him as he headed back to his room.

 

Murdock let himself back into his room and knocked softly on the bathroom door. "Hey, muchacho, itís me." There was no answer."Face?" Murdock called out as loudly as he dared. "Hey man, open up, I brought food." He turned the knob back and forth and pushed at the door.Quietly he laid his palm against the cold door and willed it to open. It didnít work.

 

 

For Murdock it was hard to determine the length of time it took before Hannibal arrived.A mix between moments and hours as he sat forlornly outside the locked bathroom door and picked at his breakfast.At first he thought the man who had entered was an orderly, but his presence alone brought an energy to the room and the comforting smell of cigars.Murdock drank in the smell and the energy and smiled. "Colonel." Murdock gave a grin as he realized just how long it had been since he had seen the Colonel last.

 

"Captain. Youíre looking well."Hannibal looked the tall, lanky pilot over very carefully.Hannibal didnít come to the hospital often, and relied on the information he got from Face."They treating you good here?"

 

"Couldnít be better, except for the shock treatment, and the drugs, and theÖ" When Murdock saw the concern in his commanding officerís eyes he stopped. "Just kidding, Colonel. Iím doing real good, here.I havenít lost a day in weeks."

 

Hannibalís eyes narrowed but decided to believe that most of what was happening to the Captain was for the best. Murdock did look rested, and healthy.Just before they left Viet Nam he had become a finicky eater and had lost weight that couldnít be afforded on his slim frame, but he seemed to be filling out again and his color was good.

 

"Whereís Face. I didnít miss him did I?You didnít let him leave, did you?"Murdock tried not to grin. It was just hard to take the Colonel seriously in the big brown wig and bushy mustache.

 

"No, heís still here. Heís in there."Murdock stepped away from the door."He went in awhile ago and locked the door, but he hasnít come out.Iím worried."

 

Hannibal glared at the door.If the door had any sense, it would have opened on its own.He looked around and noticed Face had left his jacket on the back of a chair.Hannibal went over and dug out Faceís lock pick kit.He kneeled before the door and stuck in one of the picks and wiggled it around.Then he put in the second and wiggled that one around, too.Nothing.When Face did it, it looked so easy.He played around with it for a few minutes before rising to his feet.

 

"You try, Iíll be right back."

 

Murdock nodded and did much the same as Hannibal had, to the same end.

 

Hannibal came back a minute later."Any luck?" He asked.

 

"No." Murdock sounded defeated.

 

"I didnít think it would be that hard." Hannibal said under his breath.

 

"Me neither, but the guy thatís good at it is in there." Murdock agreed."What are you going to do?"Looking down he noticed Hannibal had a screwdriver and a hammer.

 

"Watch the door."Hannibal indicated with his head.

 

"Wait a sec." Murdock went over and turned on his radio and found a rock station and put it on just a little too loud.It would take a while before the staff would ask him to turn it down. He pulled the door open a little and looked both ways.After pushing it shut he stayed near the window, his attention split between the hallway and Hannibal.

 

The hinges to the door were on the outside and it didnít take long for Hannibal to pry the pins out and pull the door open.Face was lying on the floor, wedged between the commode and the cupboard. His shirt was off and a damp towel was still clutched in his hands. He was pale and his skin was clammy.

 

Hannibal crouched down and put a hand out to touch the younger manís shoulder. "Hey, kid, how yaí doiní?"

 

Face blinked his eyes into focus. "Iím okay, I just fell asleep." Face mumbled as he rolled to his knees and tried to rise his feet, but he swayed on the way up.

 

Hannibal put a hand out to steady Face as he swayed. "So what happened. Did you get sick?" Hannibal asked as he took the polo shirt from Faceís shaky hands and turned it right side out and gave it back to him.

 

Face pulled it on and shrugged."I was just hot and Iíve had a headache. I thought Iíd lay down and the next thing I knew I was asleep."

 

"Are you okay, now?" Hannibal asked with concern.He didnít like the way Face was avoiding his eyes.

 

"Yes, Iím fine."

 

"Weíve had this conversation before." Hannibal tried to keep the disdain from his voice. "How fine is fine?"

 

Face did not take the comment with the good humor he had in the past.He clenched his jaw before answering. "I just have a killer headache, okay?"

 

Hannibal stepped away from the doorway to let Face pass into Murdockís living area. He could hear Faceís comment even though he could tell he wasnít meant for his ears.

 

"Why, Murdock, whyíd you call him?" Face muttered as he exited the bathroom.

 

"Cuz youíre sick buddy and somebody needs to take care of you, and I canít." Murdock said with resignation.

 

"I donít need anybody to take care of me." Face replied stubbornly.

 

"Youíre sick, Face.Letís get you out of here, before you give it to Murdock, okay?" Hannibal said gently.

 

"Iím alright." Face said sourly as Hannibal led him toward the bed. Face kept his head down and shifted away from Murdock, all his body language screaming ĎLeave me alone!íMurdock sighed.

 

"Can you fix the door, Captain?"

 

"Sure."

 

"Good, go get me a wheel chair and Iíll take him out like a patient." Hannibal kept a hand on Faceís shoulder and the squeeze was as much reassuring, as it was a warning to stay put.

 

Murdock came back two minutes later with a wheel chair and a straight jacket."Iím not wearing that." Face snapped.

 

"Put it on, Lieutenant, and letís get out of here."Murdock helped Hannibal get Face into the jacket, but they didnít fasten the straps.

 

"You canít transport an inmate without it Face." Murdock tried to be conciliatory but Face just glared at him.

 

"Keep your head down and donít say anything." Hannibal cautioned. "Call me tomorrow, Captain.Iíll keep you informed."

 

"Righty-o, Colonel." Murdock gave an imitation of a salute to the back of his two friends."Get well, Faceman." But Face never turned back, and Murdock could tell by the set of his shoulders that Face was angry with him for placing the call to their commander.

 

They had almost made it outside when a pretty nurse stopped Hannibal."Where you taking him?" She asked.

 

"Em, the, ah, infirmary, for em, a blood test." Hannibal tried to think.

 

"Youíre new here." She said it as a statement, not a question.

 

"Yep, sure am." He replied. "I just transferred over from the facility in Newport Beach." Briefly he wondered if there was a facility in Newport Beach.

 

"Oh, okay." She smiled. "Well next time, go out the side door and down the ramp, itís much easier."She even held the door open for him.

 

Hannibal realized that he wasnít breathing so he exhaled and gave her a grin."Thanks, thanks a lot.Iíll rememberÖ" The tilt of his head asked the unasked question.

 

"Suzanne."She supplied.

 

"John." He returned.

 

"See yaí later." She said with a wink.

 

"If you donít mind." Face muttered once they were outside."Make a date when Iím not in thisÖ" He wanted to gesture toward the jacket, but his hands were stuck inside.

 

"Sorry, kid." Hannibal dropped a comforting hand on the shoulder below him, but when he felt it tense he removed it and returned it to the chair handle.

 

The two men moved at an unhurried pace to the parking lot.It was a cool fall day, but Face was beginning to sweat."I brought my own car." Face said sullenly.

 

"Where are the keys? BAís here with the van."

"I can drive my own car." Face snapped.

 

"Where are the keys, Lieutenant." Hannibal said with force, gripping the wheel chair handles tightly.

 

Face sighed. "Theyíre in my jacket pocket."

 

Hannibal fished in both pockets of the black leather jacket until he withdrew a set of keys "Which one is it?"

 

"The brown convertible."

 

As the van pulled up Hannibal helped Face to his feet and got him out of the straight jacket. As Face got stiffly into the van Hannibal peeled off the wig and mustache and tossed them into the back seat. "Take him to my place, BA. No stops on the way."Hannibal shook his head as he saw Faceís hand tremble as he reached toward the door to pull it shut.

 

"Yes sir." BA said and pulled away from the curb.

 

Now it was BAís turn to cluck over Face.Face leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes with a sigh."You look like crap, man." BA said gruffly.

 

"Thanks, BA. Iíd hate to feel this bad and still look good."

 

"First you go getting the Colonel all mad at you cause you donít check in last night, then the crazy fool calls this morning and now the Colonelís all worried."BA didnít want to make Face feel any worse but he did want the younger man to understand that he was disappointed in the behavior."Man, he was worried to death last night, when you didnít call."

 

Face closed his eyes tightly and dropped his head to his chest with a moan."Iím sorry, BA, I guess I didnít even think about it.I mean Iíd just left you guys."

 

"And you donít think heíd want to know that you got a new place okay?"BA kept his attention divided between the road and young man next to him and caught when Face squeezed his eyes shut even tighter."You think he donít worry you been picked up by the MPís when you donít call?" Face shuddered at the thought of how close that was to what had happened.

 

"I didnít think, BA, okay.I didnít think at all."Face said with resignation."Iím sorry."

 

"I ainít the one you need to apologize to." BA said gruffly."He worries about all of us Face, it ainít just you, you know.He even worries about your crazy buddy."

 

Face nodded his head.He knew, he knew all of it, he just felt so foggy and thickheaded right now."I want some real orange juice, can we stop?"

 

"Nope, Colonel said no stops, so no stops.If he ainít got any at his place, Iíll go get you some, okay?"

 

Face looked out the window with a shuddering sigh."You donít have to."

 

BA just shook his head and thought about Face. Face had been an officer in Viet Nam.He was a good officer, as officers went.He was capable, dependable, aggressive and brave. He was a little reckless with his own life, but he was cautious of the lives of those in his care. Face had changed a little since they had come home, they all had. But Face was easier to be with now, back here, without the pressure of war.

 

BAís only conclusion was that Face was still just a stupid kid who would kill himself to help somebody else, but rarely gave a thought to his own well being. A stupid, stubborn, self-destructive kid, and they were going to help him whether he wanted it or not.

 

BA parked the van in the lot behind Hannibalís apartment and Hannibal pulled up a minute after.When Hannibal reached out to steady Face as he got out of the van Face jerked away bumping into BA."Itís okay, Colonel, I got him." BA said as Hannibal pulled his hand away.

 

Hannibal nodded and led the way up to his apartment on the second floor."What are you mad at him for?" BA growled.

 

"Iím not mad at anybody, I just want to go to my place."

 

BA snorted. "We donít know where your place is, and besides, it ainít really your place is it?"

 

"Itís mine for now." Face snarled back before giving BA the address and pointing in the general direction.

 

"Well, for now, this is your place.Just let us get you well, okay, then you can live at the White House for all I care."

 

Hannibal unlocked his apartment door and let the two other men go inside first.Face let out a sigh. Even in his fuzzy state he took in the welcoming sights of familiar things and the comforting smell of cigars and coffee. It was sort of like being home.

 

Hannibal had a large two-bedroom apartment in Studio City.They never did any business here, never met a client or brought case files here.The lease was, for once, not in Hannibalís real name.Face paid the rent here, for real, no scam, and paid all the utilities in cash.They felt they needed one place that was as close to a stable environment as they could manage.

 

"Put him in my room BA." Hannibal said as he pointed down the hall. Hannibal followed along behind. BA led Face into the master bedroom and sat Face down on the end of the bed.As he bent down to pull off Faceís shoes he felt Face put a hand on his shoulder to keep himself steady.

 

"Stand up." BA ordered and Face complied. BA undressed Face down to his shorts and then tucked him into bed.

 

"I could sleep in the other room." Face murmured as he relaxed between the cool sheets.

 

"Nope, you stay here." BA said as he put his hand on Faceís forehead and brushed back the sweaty bangs. "Youíre hot."

 

BA went to leave the room, pulling the door most of the way shut when he heard a breathless. "Hannibal?"

 

"Yeah?" Hannibal pushed the door back open and stepped around BA to sit on the edge of the bed.

 

"Nothing.I just wanted to know you were here."

 

Hannibal put his hand out to feel the sweat damp forehead."Iím here. Go to sleep."

 

Face nodded his head and closed his eyes; his breaths were shallow and shuddery, as he drifted off to sleep.


"Guess heís over being mad at you." BA said with a grin as they lingered in the hallway.

 

"Yeah, guess so."

 

"I said Iíd go get orange juice." BA headed for the door, stopping first to grab Faceís jacket and pulling out the wallet and helping himself to a good portion of the cash. Face always kept large amounts of cash with him.

 

Hannibal got up to go to the door with BA, "Make sure you get aspirin and a couple of cans of chicken noodle soup and tea bags, he likes iced tea."BA nodded."Get whatever you think you might want to eat. Letís plan on laying low here for a couple of days until weíre sure heís over the worst of whatever this is."

 

"You want me to stay here?" BA asked.

 

"If thatís not a problem."

 

"No, thatís good. Iíll check outta my hotel and pick up my stuff." He paused, "and I should take back the rental car."

 

Hannibal looked back at the sleeping form of his Lieutenant."Better yet, Iíll go with you. We should go to his place and get his stuff, too."

 

"He gonna be okay, Colonel?"

 

Hannibal nodded."Heíll be fine, BA, letís go so we can get back."

 

 

Face awoke in a panic.It wasnít unusual for him.It seemed for the last five years of his life he often woke up confused about where he was and what he was supposed to be doing.He took a moment to try and calm his breathing only to determine that an elephant must be sitting on his chest.He sat up and looked around the room.It was familiar, but he couldnít quite place it.

 

Face staggered out of bed and toward the bathroom.He was hot, and thirsty.He recognized the shaving kit on the back of the toilet tank and remembered he was at Hannibalís place.He didnít find a glass on the sink so he leaned over the basin and drank water out of his cupped hands.He splashed cool water onto his face and patted it dry with a bath towel.

 

Feeling a little better he wandered out of the bathroom and down the hall.The apartment was quiet."Hannibal? BA?" He rolled his neck and shoulders to ease the ache as he looked around. For an instant he had to fight down panic again.He was alone.Theyíd left him, alone. His breathing was ragged. He swallowed hard.He wanted to be angry or concerned or anything other then having his feelings hurt.

 

He shook his head.He just felt stupid.ĎIím a grown man and Iím acting like a baby.í He chided himself.ĎPull your shit together, Peck.íBut instead he went to the couch and sat against the arm, pulling his knees up to his chest and hugged a throw pillow.He grabbed the remote and turned on the TV.At least having the TV on made him feel not quite so abandoned.He swallowed the lump in his throat and blinked back the moisture that suddenly formed in his eyes.

 

BA pulled the gray primered van up to the corner and parked.In the side mirror he watched as Hannibal pulled into the car rental agency to return the brown convertible. They had found the new car phone when they unpacked the car at Faceís scammed apartment. BA reached over and pulled out the sales brochure and the installation instructions.

 

Hannibal had been inside for fifteen minutes.BA was becoming worried.How long would this take?He spent a few seconds scanning the street.Then watched the agency door again.Hannibal was probably in there making a date or something.BA shook his head.Sometimes Hannibal was just as bad as Face.

 

BA drummed his fingers on the steering wheel for another minute and checked his watch.Two more minutes, heíd give Hannibal two more minutes and then he was going to go in there and pull him out.After all theyíd left Face alone for heavenís sake.

 

BA checked his watch again and then looked up.The door was opening. "Well, itís about time." He muttered and reached down to start the engine.And looked again.Hannibal was coming out, but something was wrong."Man!" BA growled.Hannibal was handcuffed and an MP was coming out behind him.

 

BA didnít waste any time.He put the van in gear and slowly pulled away from the curb.He merged out into traffic and made a right at the corner, then a right at the next corner and a right at the corner after that.Then on the last stretch he floored the van and came into the parking lot of the car rental agency at 45 miles an hour firing his .45 automatic out the window toward the green MP sedan that had shown up while he was gone.

 

The MPís and the car rental agent hit the ground.Hannibal remained on his feet and ran to the where the van had skidded to a stop.

 

"Sorry, canít stay." Hannibal tossed back over his shoulder with a grin as he opened the door and climbed in."It sure was fun to see you all." He grinned and waved with his cuffed hands.

 

BA threw the van into reverse and burned rubber backing out.He was going almost as fast out as he had been coming in.

 

BA then dropped the van into gear and floored the van causing several cars to swerve and honk at his passing.

 

"Well that was fun." Hannibal said with a grin.

 

"What happened back there?" BA said with a frown.

 

"It seems that our young lieutenant was spotted yesterday in that car and they were staking the place out so that when he returned itÖ"

 

"And they almost got you instead."

 

Hannibal nodded."If that kid wasnít sick, Iíd kill him." Hannibal muttered as he dug into his pocket for a cigar.

 

"Man, you ainít gonna smoke that thing in here are you?I just put in new carpeting and youíre gonna stink it up."

 

Hannibal looked at the end of his cigar and then stuck it between his teeth, but he didnít light it.

 

BA nodded at the concession."If he hadnít been sick, Iím sure heíd a told us that the MPís were onto him."

 

"I hope so.I donít know where his headís been the last few weeks." Hannibal glared out the window.

 

BA continued to check out the mirrors, but they werenít being followed.They went way out of their way to go to a grocery store and get the things they needed. Then BA took a long route back home to be sure that they werenít followed on the way back.

 

 

It was four hours before they made it back to Hannibalís apartment.

 

Hannibal balanced a bag of groceries in one hand and juggled his keys with the other. He had just gotten the door partway open when something came flying toward it and hit with a thunk.Both Hannibal and BA jumped back away from the door and waited cautiously. Hannibal set down the bag of groceries and drew his 9mm. They heard the bedroom door slam at the end of the hall.

 

BA leaned down and picked up the remote control for the TV."Iíd guess heís mad at you again."They entered the apartment and put the groceries on the counter."Iíll go get the rest of the stuff, maybe you should check on the patient." BA made a beeline for the door. ĎYou are a coward, Baracus.í He chided himself on the way out, but he really hated emotional scenes, and Face had been very emotional lately.

 

Hannibal sighed and dug into the grocery bags to pull out the orange juice.He poured a glass and dug out the aspirin and headed down the hall.

 

He knocked but entered without waiting for a reply.

 

"Hey." He said softly as he sat on the end of the bed.

 

Face lay on his side with his back to Hannibal, his knees pulled up and he clutched a pillow to his chest."Hey." He responded in irritation.

 

"How are you feeling?" Hannibal asked as he held the glass of juice out to where Face could see it above him.

 

Face made no reply, but shifted to a sitting position and took the glass and sipped the cool liquid. "Whereíd you guys go to get this, Florida?" Face finally said testily.

 

Hannibal snorted and popped the top on the aspirin bottle and spent a second trying to fish the little cotton ball out of the opening."We had a small problem when we returned the car." Heíd gotten the cotton out, and shook two aspirin from the bottle into his hand and passed them over to Face.

 

"Why? I didnít ding it or anything. What was wrong?" Face grimaced at the tablets in his hand before putting them in his mouth and biting down on them, then quickly drinking the juice to wash away the acid taste.

 

"It seems that the MPís were very interested in it.Any idea why?" Hannibal watched his second in command closely.It would have been hard to imagine that as pale as he was, Face could go even paler.

 

"IÖ" Face stuttered to a stop and dropped his head to his chest.

 

"Thatís what I thought." Hannibal said with a frown.

 

"I forgot, Iím sorry."

 

Hannibal sighed and put his hand on his second in commandís shoulder.It only took an instant as the anger and frustration left him to be replaced by concern for the sick young man.

 

"Itís okay Face, it worked out alright.Can you do me a favor though?"

 

"Sure." Face nodded, willing to agree to anything to wipe away the guilt he felt for putting his friends in danger.

 

Hannibal held up his wrist. The connecting chain had been snipped, but on each wrist was still the manacle to the handcuff. Hannibal handed over Faceís small black leather pouch that held his lock pick tools.

 

Face made quick work of the locks."You are really going to have to teach me how to do this, you know." Hannibal said with a smile.

 

"It would be my pleasure. Iíve never taught a fellow officer to commit a felony before." Face smiled back.

 

"Our lives are just full of new and interesting things, arenít they." Hannibal grinned."You need to go back to sleep.How long have you been up?"

 

"Couple of hours." Face mumbled as he leaned back against the pillows."I thought you guysÖ" He couldnít finish the sentence.

 

"I know." Hannibal cut in with regret in his voice."I wonít leave you again."

 

"Thatís okay, its not like Iím a kid or anything." Faceís soft voice made that hard to believe."I just wish Iíd known you were going is all."

 

"Noted, Lieutenant." Hannibal pulled the covers up and took the glass from Faceís hand."Try to sleep."

 

Face nodded his head, then started to cough.He kept coughing until he had to sit up straight.It was a horrible sounding wet cough and Hannibal frowned.Face went pale and swung his feet to the floor and bolted to the bathroom.Hannibal followed him in as Face kneeled at the commode and hurled what little there was in his stomach into the bowl.

 

He retched for a few minutes bringing up nothing but stomach acid. Hannibal put a cool cloth to his forehead and helped him to his feet. He helped Face rinse his mouth and splash cool water on his warm skin.

 

"Letís get back in bed, okay?"

 

Face could only nod as he was led back to the big bed.

 

Hannibal eased Face back between the sheets and pulled up the blanket and tucked it around Faceís shoulders.He wiped off Faceís sweaty brow and kept a soft patter of comforting words until Face drifted off to sleep.

 

Hannibal continued to look down at the younger man.He was himself in turmoil.It was one thing to care about the men in his command.But he had never had to take care of anybody before.Heíd done more than his share of field medicine, but those were patch jobs until you could get them to an aid station and into the hands of those better qualified for this sort of thing.

 

Even in the POW camps there had been others better suited for this type of job.He was a commander, not a Ö a what? A nurse, a babysitterÖ Hannibal swallowed the hard lump that had formed in his throat.He was those things, and more.He had convinced these two young men that breaking out of jail was the best thing to do.

 

They had agreed readily enough. To be honest, if Hannibal had suggested flying to the moon, Face would have been on the phone to NASA to scam a rocket. BA would be checking over the pressurized suits for air leaks. And Murdock would be studying the spec sheets of tri-stage missile boosters, all before Hannibal could finish his first cigar.

 

He shuddered at the thought; he was now responsible for these men.Not just the way a commander was responsible for the men beneath him.In so many other ways.The realization hit him hard.He blinked, then blinked again, at moisture in his eyes that threatened his vision.These men were putting everything they had - health, happiness, and safety, into his hands. He sat on the edge of the bed, looking down at Face while he slept and pondered one of his most momentous decisions.

 

He heard BA making noises in the kitchen a few minutes later. Hannibal went out to help him unpack the groceries and then they both moved into the spare bedroom.There were two full size beds in this room and if Murdock came over the couch in the living room folded out.Hannibal helped BA put clean sheets on the bed.

 

"Howís he doing?" BA asked while he tucked a pillow into a clean case.

 

"Heís sleeping, but I donít like his breathing.If heís not better by morning, I want to take him to a doctor."

 

BA only nodded his head."You hungry?" When Hannibal didnít respond BA added. "I bought meatball sandwiches and beer."

 

Hannibal smiled."What do you think youíre doing BA?" he asked at the thought of his favorite sandwich.

 

"You take care of the kid, Iíll take care of you."

 

"Thanks BA."

 

They spent a quiet afternoon on the couch watching a John Wayne movie until a baseball game came on, eating chips and arguing about the Dodgersí chances at the pennant while Face slept.About every 20 minutes or a commercial break one or the other of them would wander down the hall and peek into the darkened room. Face slept fitfully, pushing the covers away, but they would cover him again and wipe the sweat from his face and he would lay still.

 

About 8:30 they were both startled when Face stumbled down the hall.His hand was pressed to his chest.He came into the living room holding onto the wall."My chestÖcanít breathe." He gasped.

 

Hannibal got to him first and led him to the sofa."Come on, sit down."Face could only nod. Hannibal strode down the hall and returned with a pair of sweats and helped Face into them. "BA, get the van."

 

BA grabbed up his keys and was out too quick to hear Faceís breathless, "No."

 

"Iím gonna take you to the hospital." Hannibal said softly.

 

"No."The message was strong, even if the words were not.

 

"Yes." Hannibal said and shrugged his way into his jacket and got Faceís out of the closet.

 

"No!" Face demanded trying to stand. "I donít want to go!"

 

"Donít argue with me.Fall in, Lieutenant." Hannibal said firmly.

 

Face blinked rapidly, his eyes bleary and chest heaving, trying to suck in air."Please," he pleaded.

 

"No." Hannibal shoved the younger manís arms into his jacket and began to guide him to the door."I just want to get you well, kid, thatís all." He said softly.

 

Face shook his head and concentrated on breathing.They made it down the elevator and were headed for the door when BA came in and met them. Each taking an arm, Hannibal and BA walked Face out to the van. BA pulled open the back and helped Face in.Face sat down never realizing BA had replaced the bench seat with a pair of high-backed captainís chairs. He just settled into it and leaned his head back.

 

Hannibal sat down in the front seat and turned it around to keep his gaze fixed on the gasping young man. "Thereís a hospital on Ventura Boulevard near Colfax."BA only nodded and drove as fast as he could without attracting any unwanted attention.

 

BA pulled up in front of the hospital only ten minutes later.They supported Face into the emergency room entrance.It was quiet and they brought Face up to the nursesí station.

 

"My friend needs a doctor." Hannibal said brusquely.

 

A middle-aged nurse looked Face up and down and handed a clipboard to Hannibal."Fill these out and weíll call you shortly."

 

"The boy needs a doctor, now!" BA snarled as he leaned forward on his hands putting his face only a few inches away from the unhelpful nurse.The pudgy woman frowned back, amazingly unintimidated, and with a casual indifference handed a pen out over the counter.Face gasped and his eyes rolled back in his head and slumped to the floor in a boneless heap.

 

This time the nurse came to her feet and called for an orderly.Two young men came down the short hallway with a gurney and bent down to pick Face up, but BA was already there, lifting Face up and gently placing him on the table.

 

"What happened?" A young man in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck asked while picking up Faceís wrist and taking his pulse as the gurney was wheeled down the hall to a long room divided by curtains.

 

"Heís been running a fever all day.He woke up saying he couldnít breathe.He just blacked out there in the lobby." Hannibal said succinctly realizing the doctor wasnít much older then Face.

 

"Has he blacked out before?"†† A nurse was there with a clipboard listing all Hannibalís answers and any information the doctor was spouting. "What drugs is he taking? Heroin, speed, LSD, uppers, downers?"

 

"No!" Hannibal barked. "None."

 

Face came around and tried to sit up.The doctor and Hannibal each put a hand on one of his shoulders to keep him flat. "Hard to breathe." Face whispered.

 

This time the doctor let him up and with an arm in the front of Faceís chest he put the stethoscope to Faceís back.Then he lowered his patient back down to the table and listened to Faceís lungs from the front.He patted Faceís arm and then spouted technical jargon to the nurse who wrote it down and nodded before turning away."What are you on, son? ĎLudes, reds, bennies?" The doctor asked while checking Faceís eyes with a pen light.

 

Face was only puzzled by the question, and cast uncomprehending eyes to Hannibal."The kidís not taking any drugs, Doc." Hannibal said sharply. "Hell, he threw up the aspirin I gave him."

 

"Weíll need blood gases and a Tox Screen." The doctor spouted to the nurse.

 

"He just told you, he ainít on any drugs." BA snarled.

 

The doctor only nodded."Okay." The tone clearly said that he didnít believe them, but he continued on. "Has he had a bad cold lately? The flu?"

 

"No." Hannibal shook his head.

 

"How about a sudden drenching?"

 

Hannibal and BA both thought back to the escape Face made back in Belmont.He had dived into a pond late at night and to make matters worse had spent 15 minutes shivering in the back of the van before they got him out and into a warm tub. They exchanged glances before Hannibal acknowledged the doctor.

 

"Yes, five days ago."

 

"We need to run some tests, but Iím afraid your friend probably has pneumonia. Can you make medical decisions for him."

 

"Yes." Hannibal said while BA nodded.

 

"I want to keep him here overnight.Try to clear those lungs up a little. Is he allergic to any drugs or medications?"The doctor continued to fire questions that Hannibal did his best to answer all while a nurse started an IV and oxygen and continued to monitor Faceís vital signs.

 

At the end of the interrogation the doctor put his hand on Hannibalís arm and started to escort him out."He should be fine.In a little bit weíll move him to a room and you can see him there." He nodded to the forms still in Hannibalís hands. "Weíll let you know if thereís any change."

 

Face extended his hand out to Hannibal who grabbed it and gave a quick squeeze before releasing it."Iíll be right outside, okay?"

 

The doctor began to pull Hannibal from the room.BA gave a growl, but he headed for the door."Donít leave." Face gasped, but Hannibal was pushed through the swinging door. "Iíll be right out here." He said as he looked back over his shoulder.A ball of ice formed in Hannibalís stomach as he watched the younger manís countenance go from sick worry to cold, silent anger, then blank, all in the blink of an eye.BA growled deeper at the closed door.

 

BA paced back and forth in the noisy waiting room frustrated at being useless in this type of situation.More and more people began to come in with illness or injury.Hannibal sat in a hard plastic chair and ground one hand into the other.After an hour he got to his feet, "Stay here, BA, I need a smoke" he said as he headed outside. The clipboard with the admission forms forgotten on the floor. He searched his jacket pockets until he found half a cigar and got it lit.

 

He looked out at the clear, starry sky and thought about the last few months.The decision to make the jail break after being convicted of a crime they didnít commit had seemed so reasonable at the time.NowÖ he pondered his thought process.He was not a man for deep introspection.He was a man of action.Make a plan and stick with it.He had done that and he was doing it now.It just seemed so much simpler when everything was going well.Not like now.What would they do in the future if one of them were hurt, or sick?

 

He considered the changes that they needed to make in their future lives.They needed to think about medicines and safe houses and stashing money in easy-to-reach locations. They would need a place to keep tools and supplies and extra clothes and weapons. There were so many things he hadnít thought about until now.

 

He looked out across the parking lot where something had caught his eye.They would want to keep as much with them as possible, but they would need back-up plans.What if the van was stolen, or damaged?He got to his feet.

 

Thatís what had his attention.Someone was standing next to the van.He narrowed his eyes and stepped away from the emergency room doors and into the shadows, letting his eyes adjust to the dark."Shit, shit, shit!" He swore under his breath.MPís!

 

He tamped out his cigar and went back inside. "BA, letís go.MPís are checking over the van."He maneuvered BA toward a rear entrance.

 

"What about Face?" BA grumbled.

 

"Weíll have to come back for him."

 

BA frowned as he was led away.

 

"I donít like it Hannibal.I donít want to leave him."

 

Hannibal stopped and stared intently into the worried, brown eyes before him."We donít have a choice, letís move out, Sergeant."

 

Responding on instinct to his commanding officerís tone, BA nodded and silently followed behind.

 

The two men quietly and cautiously made their way through the corridors of the hospital.They found a side door and Hannibal went outside first and surveyed the area.It looked clear so he beckoned BA to follow him.

 

"I donít want to leave my van." BA growled.

 

Hannibal rolled his eyes.Now was not the time to be overprotective with a piece of machinery, but he kept his views to himself."Weíll get it, BA."Hannibal viewed the parking lot.The van was not far from the front door of the emergency room.There was only one MP guarding it.

 

"Right, BA, hereís the plan.We go in yelling. Iíll distract the MP while you get behind the wheel.When we take off, we make as much of a racket as we can.We want them to follow us."

 

"We want them to follow us?" BA was more than startled.

 

"If they follow us, theyíre not looking for Face." Hannibal said firmly.

 

BA nodded."Letís go then," and taking a big breath he charged toward the van.

 

As the MP turned around to face his attacker Hannibal caught a quick glimpse of his face.For some reason it struck Hannibal that the MP suddenly looked as if he was being charged by a crazed rhino.When BA reached the MP he wrapped his arms around the startled man, and literally lifted him off his feet.The air was knocked out of him and BA dropped the man onto the pavement a full car length away from the van.

 

He jogged back to the van and slipped behind the wheel."I thought I said Iíd distract the MP." Hannibal said with consternation.

 

"I was closer." BA said as he backed the van from its parking spot.

 

Hannibal wisely didnít mention that they had been standing beside each other.BA was doing this for one reason, and one reason only.He was worried about Face and because he couldnít do anything about it, he was frustrated.Frustration mixed with BA Baracus was not a pretty recipe.

 

BA dropped the van into low and burned rubber out of the parking lot. A startled "Hey! Stop!" was heard from behind them.In just a moment a green four-door sedan with a blue light on top careened out of the parking lot behind them.

 

"Head for the freeway, BA. Letís get them as far away from this hospital as we can."

 

BA only nodded as he split his attention between the cars ahead and behind him.He was so distracted that he didnít even say anything when Hannibal lit his cigar.

 

It had become a "Keystone Kops" chase through the highways and byways of Los Angeles and the surrounding communities.A long line of military sedans followed the gray van as it careened down streets at speeds up to 90 miles an hour.BA could easily have lost the small group of cars at the beginning of the chase, but the idea was to lead them as far away from St. Vincentís hospital as possible, and that was what heíd been doing.

 

California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles City Police joined the chase.The one, lone gray van was soon being followed by 14 cars.Quickly BA got off the freeway and dropped back down onto the city streets.The Highway patrol dropped out of the chase.BA drove down back alleys and side streets taking the chase further into the business section of LA.Here he was less likely to encounter pedestrians and innocents.

 

The business district was mostly deserted this late at night.Except for a few drug pushers and gunrunners.BA felt that if they were too dumb to get out of the way it was their own fault. One by one cars were dropping out of the chase.Either police cars were going back on patrol, or they were running out of gas.

 

BA had installed two over large tanks under the van; they could have driven across country before running out of gas.He took a few more turns down narrow alleys as Hannibal leaned out the window of the van and started firing his 9mm.

 

The lead car swerved.Whether it had been hit by gunfire, or the driver just reacted instinctively and jerked the wheel would never be known by the two men in the van.The sedan lurched to the right in the narrow alley and caromed off the wall. Then it swerved back to the left where it bounced off a dumpster. Then again to the right where it skidded to a stop with its front fender against the rear wall of a store and the rear bumper wedged against a chain link fence.

 

The alley was effectively blocked from further pursuit.One of the military sedans attempted to back up, only to drive into the front of the car behind it. Hannibal leaning out the window waved good-bye.

 

LAPD returned to regular duty.It was a military matter after all.

 

The lead officer in charge of the chase fumed. He kicked the tire of his non-functioning vehicle.This was the closest they had ever been to catching the A-Team.He was not happy about having to tell Col. Lynch that they had failed.Secretly he hoped that his failure would result in a transfer.He didnít much like chasing the A-Team anyway.He knew their reputation from ĎNam and knew that the conviction was bogus.

 

Maybe heíd just wait until morning to tell Lynch theyíd lost them.He regrouped his men, insured that no one was hurt, and then contacted the base to get tow trucks out to bring in the three damaged cars.If he was lucky, this could take him the rest of the night, and well into tomorrow.Then heíd start planning for a transfer.

 

Maybe heíd even get a better duty. Like trash detail in Antarctica.Anything was better than this.

 

Next


New Beginnings by Tee

 

 


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