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Hannibal Smith, Commander of the A-Team, looked at himself in the mirror. He straightened his black tie, which didn't need straightening at all. It just gave him something to do with his hands. "Idle hands are the devils tools" he could almost hear Face say to him laughingly. And since both he and Face always got into some mischief while doing nothing, Hannibal tended to agree. .
He gazed at his face, shocked by his appearance. Bloodshot eyes that were usually crystal blue looked back at him. And he looked like he had aged twenty years in the last five days. Before the last mission, and the Presidential Pardon. If word had come last week of the Presidential Pardon, Hannibal would have been very happy. So would have the rest of the team. Instead it had come now, after their last mission. And the price had been too high. .
He heard a soft knock at the door, and turned to see Ellen Bancroft there. "Hannibal, are you ready?" she asked softly. .
Hannibal nodded, not trusting his voice. Right now, Ellen looked just like her brother. They had the same features. Hannibal fumble with his tie again, trying to clear his throat. A knot had suddenly threatened to strangle him. Ellen came over and pulled the tie straight. "You're rumpling it, Hannibal," she gently scolded. When the tie was right, she put her arm through his. But whether it was to support him or to be supported by him, he couldn't tell. "Let's go." And Ellen leaded him out of his bedroom. .
It had rained all during the service. .
There had been hymns, prayers, and tears. People embrace and talked of memories. Amy Allen had come in from Europe with her fiancee. And a heavily pregnant Tanya Baker was also there with her husband, talking with Amy and Ellen Bancroft. BA was talking with his mother, who had flown in from Chicago to be with her son. BA hadn't left his mothers side for a moment since she flew in. Frankie Santana was speaking with Roderick Decker of all people. But Decker had come to offer condolences, not to pick a fight. And beside Decker was a young man who Decker had introduced to everyone as his nephew Robert Peterson.
There was no sign of Murdock
There is a voice that has no name,
It comes with evening, or behind the rain.
"Hannibal..."a voice whispered in his ear. He turned, but nobody was there.
"Hannibal, are you all right?" Hannibal felt a hand at his elbow, and looked into the concerned bloodshot eyes of Murdock Thankfully, no-one else was looking in their direction.
"I'm fine, Murdock, just a little tired. I think I'll go upstairs and rest for a bit." Hannibal told his friend. And then he went upstairs to his room. .
Murdock nodded. He had just finished 'resting' up in Faces room, by lying down on the bed and crying his eyes out. He wanted to somehow console Hannibal, but knew that he couldn't. Hannibal, like everyone else, was going to have to come to terms with Faces death in his own way.
I have no time now to
stop and explain.
I just keep movin', cause it helps to ease the pain.
All those years on the run. Never needing or even wanting to settle down. But Hannibal knew that all he was ever doing was running away. From life, from responsibility, and especially from himself. And Hannibal knew that more then any other member of the team, Face wanted to stop running. Face had never had a 'normal' childhood, and he craved it more then anything. And if it wasn't his loyalty to Hannibal and the rest of the team, Face would have stopped running long ago. Now the beautiful boy that Hannibal loved like a son would never have the 'normal' life that he had craved. It was too late.
Feeling old, Hannibal rolled over onto his side and let the tears fall. He cried himself to sleep, and dreamed.
The night has music that
calls to me.
Across the canyons of an endless sea.
I seek the shadows of yesterday.
Today can't hold me, and I must be on my way.
Hannibal Smith had just about had it with his young executive officer. Templeton Peck was not only irresponsible, his attitude rivaled BAs. One man in this outfit with a bad attitude was bad enough. Dealing with two was next to impossible.
Peck was not only rude and insubordinate, he was also bad for morale. He got into a fight at the Officers Club just about every night. He didn't pick the fights, but he always seemed to end up in the middle of them. And even after being rescued from the brig by Hannibal, and put on the team, the smart mouth runt implied that Hannibal had an unnatural relationship with his own mother. And if nobody could trust the young second officer on recon missions, someone was going to end up dead.
Hannibal rubbed his eyes. He hated the idea of getting rid of Peck. The boy, not even out of his teens, had unlimited potential. Hannibal could mold him into a good officer if Peck would just give him a chance. The only problem was, Peck didn't seem interested in giving anyone a chance. Least of all himself.
He had even threatened to send Peck to the brig himself, and throw away the key. Peck had dared him to do so. And Hannibal could no longer keep Peck around. He took out some papers, and started filling out the paperwork to send Peck to prison. And that is when Murdock showed up. "Whatcha doin', Colonel?" The young pilot asked the older man. Only a few years older then Peck, but worlds different.
"Filling out forms to send Peck to Leavenworth."
"Oh, no Hannibal. Don't do that. Do you know what they will do to him there?"
"I don't know, and frankly I don't care. Peck is a drain on morale. His antics is liable to get himself if not the whole company killed, Captain. I hate doing this. But I have to weigh the cost of the whole team against the cost of one man." Hannibal looked at his favorite pilot. Murdock had saved his skin on more then one occasion. " It is best for the unit, Murdock." "But Hannibal, you put up with BA. Why don't you give the kid a break?"
"I have given Peck many chances to fall into line, Murdock. And even though BA has a attitude, he would bend over backwards to help any man in this unit, including you. I can't trust Peck to do the same."
Murdock looked at the older man that he had come to call friend. He trusted Smith, but Murdock felt that he was wrong about sending Peck to the brig. There was something about Peck that made Murdock want to protect him. Murdock felt that underneath that brash exterior, there was a little child screaming to be let out.
Murdock remembered when he was a young boy. After his mother died, his father and him had stayed with Murdocks maternal grandparents. His fathers parents had both died by that time, and his father wanted some kind of stability for HM. Stability that was given by his grandparents.
One day, Murdock came across a boy his own age. They had become good friends. Then one day the boy disappeared without a trace. They found the boys body a few days later, beaten. And nobody had said anything, or tried to find out who killed Murdocks friend. When Murdock had tried to find out who, he was met with indifference. "What should it matter? He was only an orphan," he heard people say. As if being without parents made you expendable.
Remembering, Murdock was determined to save Peck, like he had wanted to save his friend. He changed tactics. "Hannibal, if I can reform him by this evening, will you let him off the hook?"
Hannibal looked at the young man, who was using a pleading puppy look. "You have till I finish this paperwork, Murdock. Then, I'm going to go get BA to help me. Do you understand?"
"Perfectly, Hannibal. And thanks." And Murdock turned and ran out the door.
Hannibal began to type really slow.
Murdock was able to find Peck easily. He kept to himself most of the time, except when he was getting into trouble. Murdock forced a smile to the younger man. Peck didn't smile back. "I have some beer, Peck. Would you like some?" He held out the case to Peck to tempt him. "Your favorite brand too. Michalob."
Peck nodded warily. He had no idea what Murdock was up to. Most likely trying to buddy up to him. And Peck was determined not to. But, since Murdock had bought the beer, Peck nodded.
Murdock sat down across from Peck. He opened a beer, and handed it to Peck. Then he took one himself. He felt bad about having to do this to the kid, but he saw no other way right now. The paperwork was already being written up, and Murdock was determined to save this young man somehow.
Peck finished the first beer, and reached for another. And another. Murdock decided it was time. "You know Peck, the way that you are going, one of us will get you before Charlie does." He had hoped that this would startle Peck. To Murdocks surprise, Peck merrily shrugged.
"Good. That'll be less painful then being stabbed in the back by one of you later on." Peck reached for his fourth beer. Murdock hadn't even finished his first.
Never much of a drinker due to a religious upbringing, the beers loosened Pecks tongue. He proceeded to tell Murdock his life story, as far as he knew it. Raised in an orphanage and various foster homes, Peck had never belonged anywhere. Some families he'd gotten attached to, and for some reason couldn't or wouldn't adopt him. Then when he was happy, the social workers would take him out of the foster home that he loved. Other foster parents just wanted the extra money from the state. Other foster parents abused him, verbally, physically, and sometimes sexually.
"Once I lived with a family that I really loved. I felt that I really belonged there. I felt safe and loved. They were decent people who never hit me. I was a good boy the entire time I lived with them. Did chores, concentrated on school, and went to church on a regular basis. And not because I had to go, the way I did at the orphanage. But because I wanted to go. It was great."
"Christmas was coming, and I ,made great effort to be even better. Helped out around the house by doing little chores. Christmas finally came, I was so excited. I was too old by then to believe in Santa, but I thought that my foster parents would leave me something in my stocking of under the tree. They did, coals and sticks. They told me that since I was a bastard, I didn't deserve any better. That I should be grateful that I wasn't out in the streets. They took me back the next day. And they adopted a baby that had just arrived."
Peck wiped his eyes, and reached for another beer. He then told Murdock about Leslie Becktall, the woman he had been in love with and hoped to marry someday. But she had left him, just like everyone else. He glared at Murdock, and snarled. "So go ahead, Captain. Kill me, or get someone else to do it. You can't do anything to me that hasn't already been done. And you can't kill a soul that is already dead." The beers finally hit Peck, and the facade that he had worn for almost fifteen years cracked side to side, and he started to sob.
Murdock didn't hesitate a second. He put his arms around Peck, and drew the younger man against his chest. As Peck sobbed out his pain, Murdock looked up and saw Hannibal and BA standing there. The pilot knew that they had heard it all. Murdock grinned when Hannibal held up the paperwork, and ripped it in half.
The next day, a hung over but docile Peck was "adopted" into the unit. Hannibal promised to protect him to the best of his ability. And when it was time to give Peck a nickname, Murdock called him Faceman, the man with a thousand faces. And every one being a facade to cover up the real man. And a nickname was born.
Speak to me softly, and
tell me no lies.
I see tomorrow shining in your eyes.
Hannibal awoke, his face wet with tears. Memories of Face had filled his dreams and though. The joy on Faces face when he had been "adopted" into the team. And that he wasn't going to jail. Visions of Face laughing at something Murdock had said. Visions of Face teasing BA, or giving Hannibal a spontaneous hug. Visions of their last mission...
Hannibal had seen it all, and had been helpless to stop it. Someone had got around the left perimeter, past Frankie, and had snuck up behind Face. He had shot Face in the back, and had run away before Hannibal could get off a shot.
Hannibal couldn't get to Faces side fast enough. He saw Face sprawled face down, on the cold ground with blood on his back. As gently as he could, Hannibal rolled Face over onto his back, and cradled the younger man in his arms. "Face, can you hear me?" He asked softly.
Faces blue eyes finally focused onto Hannibals face. "Oh, God, what happened? Have I been shot?"
Hannibal nodded his head. He forced a smile, and said; "You're going to be fine."
Face shook his head. "Hannibal, you have never lied to me. Please don't start now." He whispered, and started to cough. Hannibal held him to his chest. When Face stopped coughing, there was blood on Hannibals shirt. "I'm sorry, Hannibal."
Hannibal held him closer. "About what, Face?" Oh God, he's dying. And I can't do anything about it.
"About many things. I won't live to see our pardon. I won't live to have the family that I always wanted. But I want to let you know, I am not sorry for knowing you and the rest of the team. I love you so much, you were the only family I had for almost twenty years. And you are the best father figure a guy could have." Face rasped, breathing was getting difficult. Talking was getting next to impossible. "I want you to do something for me. First, look after my sister Ellen. She has no-one else. Promise me."
Hannibals eyes overflowed with tears. "I promise. And I also promise that I will get the guy who did this."
"No! No revenge. I don't want that. Promise me that you won't take a life in my name." Face cried. And was seized by another coughing fit. More blood was coughed up onto Hannibal's shirtfront. "Promise me!" Face said when he finished coughing.
"Okay, I promise you. No revenge. Nor will I allow the others to kill in your name." Hannibal said. Tears ran freely down his face.
"Tell the others that I love them too."
"I will, I promise. Face, I love you. You're like a son to me, and I couldn't be prouder of you if you were my son. I love you son." Hannibal cried.
Face smiled at Hannibal, and snuggled against his chest. Held tightly he whispered. "Good-bye Dad. I love you." And Face died in Hannibals arms.
For some time, Hannibal sat and cradled Faces lifeless body in his arms. He didn't want to let the young man go. So he held Faces head to his chest, and kissed his forehead, and rocked Faces body like he was a small child.
Hannibal felt that it was supposed to be him that went first. Not this sweet soul that had been a part of his life for almost twenty years. It isn't right. No man should have to bury his child. And Face was my child in every way but blood.
He let the tears fall, and watched the sun go down. Then he picked up Faces body, and started making his way back to the van.
BA was in a snit. Hannibal had said to meet back at the van two hours ago. Now, both Hannibal and Face were late. "Where are they?" He grumbled for the umpteenth time to Murdock and Frankie. Murdock shrugged, and Frankie looked like he was going to say something. When his face drained of all color. "Oh no," he whispered in a strangled voice.
BA and Murdock turned to see what had made Frankie turn ashen. They saw Hannibal walking towards them, holding Face in his arms with tears running down his face. It was obvious that Face had been shot, and that he was dead.
Murdock started to cry immediately. Face had been his best friend in the whole world. No two men could ever have been closer. BA put a comforting arm around the pilot, fighting back tears of his own. Murdock leaned his head on BA s shoulder. Frankie just watched Hannibal carry Face down to the van.
They loaded Faces body into the van, and drove off. No-one said a word all the way back to Virginia.
One Year Later
I have no time now to stop and explain.
I just keep movin', cause it helps to ease the pain.
Hannibal looked out of the vans window. That had been a year ago, but it might as well had been yesterday. The hole is his heart was still there. And Hannibal doubted it would ever heal.
They had all received their Presidential Pardons. Face had got his post humanously, and Ellen Bancroft had received it for her brother. Stockwell had asked them to continue working for him. However, they told the General that the only way that they would work for him is if their country needed them. They had gone a few assignments, otherwise they had no contact with Stockwell. They still blamed Stockwell for Faces death.
Frankie had gone back to Los Angeles. Being a special effects man was what he loved doing. And he knew that he would never be able to fill Faces shoes. And he knew that they blamed him secretly for Faces death. If that man hadn't snuck past him, Face would still be alive. So, after his pardon, Frankie said good-bye. And he wasn't missed at all.
Ellen Bancroft had gotten married 6 months before, and Hannibal had walked her down the aisle. When asked who was giving the bride away, Hannibal choked out, "Her family, and I." And Ellen had happily told Hannibal yesterday that she was pregnant. If it was a boy, she was going to name him Richard Templeton, after Face. And Ellen had asked Hannibal to be the babys godfather. A role which he gladly accepted.
They had caught the man who had murdered Face. Only his promise to Face as he lay dyeing kept Hannibal from blowing the mans brains out. Nor did he allow BA or Murdock to kill the man. And armed with their pardon, and the evidence that the A-Team had gathered, they had been able to put the man away for life.
After a year, Murdock was finally able to start smiling and laughing again. Faces death had devastated the pilot. For a while, Hannibal was afraid that he would have to have Murdock committed again. But the pilot had pulled himself together, somehow. For which Hannibal was grateful. He didn't want to lose another man. Losing Face had been bad enough.
BA stolidly bore his grief in silence. He regretted that he had never told Face how much he loved him. But he believed Face knew anyway. So he was rather gentle when talking with Murdock. And was there to support Hannibal. And when he needed someone to talk to and cry to, he called his mother in Chicago.
"Look at the pretty flowers alongside the road," Murdock said. "Can we stop and pick some Hannibal? Please?"
BA growled as Hannibal shook his head. "It's getting late, Murdock."
"Face isn't going anywhere, Hannibal. And Face always liked flowers. Please. I want to put something on his grave." Hannibal nodded, and motioned BA to pull over to the side of the road. It had barely stopped when Murdock jumped out. He immediately started picking the most beautiful wildflowers he could find. After a minute, Hannibal and BA started helping.
Loading down the inside of the van with lilacs, lilies of the Valley, daisies, daffodils and dandelions, the remaining members of the team drove to Faces grave. And they saw one man already there. Decker.
After a moments hesitation, Hannibal started walking towards the graveside. Silently, BA and Murdock followed. They silently put the flowers on the grave, knelt down, and prayed.
Decker was watching them as they each finished their silent prayers. "I wanted to pay my respects." Decker stated simply.
Hannibal nodded. "This must be even harder on you, Rod. You've lost him twice."
Decker shook his head. "The boy that I loved did die years ago, in a manner of speaking. That boy became a man that you raised." Decker looked at the grave of his stepson. "At least their all together now."
Looking at the grave, the team saw that there was another fresh grave. Nestled between Andrew James Bancrofts grave and that of Face, there was a grave marked for Samantha Anne Bancroft Decker.
Reading from left to right, the Bancroft family plot read as follows:
TEMPLETON ARTHUR PECK
Born: Richard Bancroft
December 7, 1950-April 4, 1988
Beloved Brother and Friend of Ellen
John, Howard Marshall, and Bosco.
SAMANTHA ANNE BANCROFT DECKER
June 11, 1929-March 25 1955
Beloved Mother to Richard
Beloved Wife of Roderick Decker
ANDREW JAMES BANCROFT
January 13, 1928-November 25 1986
Father of Richard and Ellen Bancroft
CATHERINE MARGARET BANCROFT
July 25 1932- April 17, 1980
Beloved Mother of Eleanor
ELEANOR SAMANTHA BANCROFT
August 27, 1955-
Hannibal let the tears flow, as did BA and Murdock. And Hannibal felt the beginning of something that he never thought he would. Closure. So he started to sing "You are my Sunshine." Murdock and BA joined in. And after a moment, so did Decker.
And Hannibal was able
to say good-bye to his son. The son who was his in every way
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