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A Is For Assassination

A Is For Assassination

By Cat

RATING: NC-17

STYLE: Slash

SERIES:

Yes, first in the 'Alphabet' Series

DISCLAIMER: Not mine. >Never were. Just borrowing to entertain a few bored masses. No money made. Trust me, I'm still as poor as ever. :)

WARNING: Violence, Adult Language, Sex and should other warnings apply, they will be posted in the header of that particular part.

SUMMARY: The Team becomes divided by a psychopath who uses each member's vulnerabilities to pit them against one another.

COMMENTS: Plot and content on list, great! :) Grammar and typos, off list if you feel compelled, but I'd rather you didn't. :)

AUTHOR NOTES: * - denotes thought < - denotes emphasis

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Part 1

 

Alex looked around the seedy motel room, his blue eyes

darkening as they surveyed the decrepit environment he

presently found himself in. How had it happened? How had he

managed to fall so far, so fast? It made no sense. No sense

at all. After having the finest hotels in the city at his

beck and call just a month before, to find himself ensconced

in this cockroach-ridden excuse of a hovel was not only

degrading and depressing, it was fucking frightening.

 

He swallowed and ran a hand over his perspiration

beaded brow.

 

<Someone> was going to pay for this.

 

And pay <hard>.

 

He'd make sure of that.

 

With the slow movements his alcohol saturated body

afforded him, he slowly sprawled across the pitifully thin

mattress of the bed and reached into the drawer of the three-

legged nightstand, taking no pleasure as he extracted the

one valuable possession he'd managed to take with him before

being forced out of his home...

 

His 1934 German Luger.

 

Carefully he let himself fall onto his back and held

the weapon in the air, its metal glistening even in the

dimness of the poorly lighted room. A more beautiful object

he had never seen. It would be the *perfect* weapon to use

against those that had caused him so much pain and

destruction.

 

A slow sinister smile upturned Alex's lips as he

pictured them on their knees as he leveled the cold metal

against the backs of each of their heads.

 

"Yes," He breathed, a sudden rush of excitement

coursing through him as he thought of the blood that would

result from <his> action.

 

But then a sudden realization hit him.

 

That was too quick. MUCH too quick. Those bastards

would not have the opportunity to experience the emotional

hells that <he> had.

 

Alex's expression sobered immediately and he wrapped

his hands around the Luger and cradled it protectively to

his chest, as if seeking guidance from it. "I don't want

them to go quick," He muttered, his eyes narrowing into thin

slits as he stared at the cracked paint that pockmarked the

ceiling. "No. It has to be slow. Painful and slow. Fucking

slow."

 

And then an idea came to him.

 

And he laughed loudly, wondering why the hell he hadn't

thought of <that> in the first place!

 

 

* * * * *

 

"Gentlemen, I trust you enjoyed your time off?"

 

B.A. glared at Stockwell as the somewhat pompous,

almost always officious General, entered the living room,

smiling slightly. *Never a good sign when that foo' does

that,* B.A. thought with a heavy scowl. From the looks of

the others' faces, he could tell that they, too, were

immediately (and no doubt correctly) suspicious of

Stockwell's thin attempt at a smile.

 

"It ain't over <yet>," B.A. growled after a moment,

leaning back in his chair and clenching his fists against

the padded arms of the piece of furniture.

 

"B.A.'s right, Stockwell," Hannibal nodded, his blue

eyes sharply surveying the General's expression. "We still

have three more days. That <was> our arrangement."

 

"Yes, Smith, it was. However, as you gentlemen are

only too well aware of, arrangements are always subject to

change. Especially in our line of work."

 

From his position beside Hannibal on the sofa, Murdock

smirked as he shifted position so he could look up at the

interloper. "<Your> line of work, shotgun...<not> ours!

Remember, General, <we> aren't in this for the career

opportunities."

 

"That's for sure," Face nodded, shifting uncomfortably

in place as he stood near Stockwell. "The perks of this job

definitely do <not> outweigh the risks."

 

Stockwell looked at Face, still wearing that thin,

almost smug, grin. "I realize it's taking you a while to

adjust to our arrangement, gentlemen. That's only natural in

any relationship."

 

"Ack!" Frankie shuddered, nearly thwocking Murdock's

arm as he exaggerated cringing. "Don't even <joke> about a

thing like that, Stockwell! I ain't <never> gonna have <no>

relationship with someone like <you>!"

 

Hannibal chuckled slightly. "That's all right,

Frankie. Take it easy. I'm sure that's not exactly the kind

of 'relationship' our straight-laced, by the book, General

had in mind, right Stockwell?" He glanced at the General,

smiling with satisfaction at the slight crimson flush that

stained Stockwell's cheeks all of a sudden.

 

"That's it, Smith," Stockwell began after a

moment. "Laugh it up and make your little jokes. You four

won't be laughing when I tell you about Alexander Fawkes and

the not so nice things that gentlemen has in store for you."

 

A heavy silence fell among the members of the Team for

several moments and they eyed each other warily for a moment.

 

"Fawkes?!" Murdock exclaimed after a moment, his eyes

narrowing slightly. "Colonel, I thought he was..."

 

"He <was>, Murdock." Hannibal slowly got to his feet

and turned to Stockwell, his entire aspect rigid with

tension. "He <was> in that psychiatric hospital in

Georgetown. Okay, Stockwell...you've played your little

game. You've got us interested, now OUT with it! Which one

of your operatives sprung Fawkes <this> time?"

 

Stockwell drew in a breath and crossed his arms over

his chest. "What makes you think my operatives or I had

anything to do with it, Smith?"

 

"Because <you> were the one who released that psycho

<last> time!" Face exploded suddenly, with such vehemence,

that Stockwell's eyes widened in surprise. "It was <your>

fault that that bastard nearly <killed> us! Twice over, I

might add!"

 

"Easy, Face," Hannibal sighed, carefully making his way

over to the Lieutenant's side and turning dangerously

flashing blue eyes on Stockwell. "We <all> know that

Stockwell is a man who likes to burn both ends of the

candle. And he does it better than anyone else I know. What

he <doesn't> count on...is the people that get <burned> just

might <not> be so eager to do his dirty work for him

anymore."

 

"Yeah," B.A. nodded vigorously, standing and slamming

his left fist into his right palm. "A pardon ain't worth

this!"

 

Stockwell's back straightened and for several moments

he was silent, letting his steely gaze travel around the

room. "I'm afraid there's more at stake here than just your

pardon, gentlemen, if you choose not to cooperate here. You

see, Fawkes has...connections. Connections that frankly,

without *my* assistance...will destroy you faster than

Fawkes himself. We need each other. I think you all will

agree to that."

 

"Like hell!" Murdock snarled, leaning forward and

running a hand over his face in frustration. "The day I

agree to anything <you> have to say..."

 

"I'd rather take my chances on the run," Frankie nodded

slightly.

 

"I think we're all in agreement here, Hannibal," Face

stated coolly, his gaze hard as he focused it on

Stockwell. "Trusting our 'friend', the General, here, just

might be one fatal mistake."

 

Hannibal drew in a breath. "Forgive us for not

<thanking> you for delivering us the news about Fawkes,

Stockwell...but we're <taking> the days off we were

promised, <and> if this is true about Fawkes...we'll take

our chances...<without> any help from you. Comprende?"

 

After a moment, Stockwell shook his head, the smile now

completely gone from his face as he started for the door,

his stride purposeful if not even a bit harried. At the

doorway, he paused, and threw the Team a pitying look. "You

gentlemen are making the worst mistake of your lives right

now," he stated before turning and exiting, letting the door

slam in his wake.

 

 

Part 2

 

"Good afternoon, may I help you?"

 

Alex felt the Luger pressing comfortingly against his

ribcage, barely covered by the ill-fitting shoulder

holster. *Dammit, I should've checked this bastard's

equipment before I blew him away,* he thought as he tried to

look casual as he straightened the suit jacket and flashed

the nurse as disarming a smile as he could muster without

becoming overwhelmed with the need to retch violently.

 

"I certainly hope so," He forced, reaching into his pocket

for the ID billfold. "The name is Bellows. Dr. Carl

Bellows. I just transferred here and was told that one of my

patients was located in this wing. An H.M. Murdock?"

 

The nurse studied the pictureless identification card for a

moment then shrugged slightly. "That's odd," She frowned,

eyeing him strangely.

 

"What is?"

 

"Well, Mr. Murdock was released from here well over a year

and a half ago. I don't understand why anyone would tell you

he was on your patient roster, Doctor. Perhaps if you wait

here a moment, I can ask my supervisor and..."

 

She started to walk away but after hastily returning the

identification to his jacket pocket, he seized her arm and

pulled her toward her. "I wouldn't suggest doing that," He

said under his breath. "In fact, I would <suggest> that you

show me any and all release paperwork on Mister Murdock.

Don't you think that would be a good idea, hmm?"

 

Her eyes widened as she stared up at him. He could feel her

fear as she trembled slightly within his grasp and nodded

weakly, with great reluctance. "Ahh...okay, okay. W...wait

here?"

 

"Not a chance. Take me *to* the paperwork, darlin.'"

 

She swallowed and noticed the shoulder holster as he opened

the jacket with his free hand. "I believe <this> should

convince you I'm perfectly serious about this," He laughed

wryly. "Now, take me to that paperwork. And, for crying out

loud, <do> be discreet about it, hmmm? There's nothing I

hate <worse> than grandstanding."

 

Within a matter of minutes Alex found himself ensconced in a

small windowless rooms, watching as the nurse fearfully

started sorting through what looked to be an incredibly

archaic filing system until she finally extracted a rather

thick manila folder.

 

"H...Here," She stammered as she handed him the

folder. "That...that's all the information we...we have on

Murdock. C...Can I go now? Please?" Her lower lip began to

tremble and her eyes kept glancing furtively toward the door

behind him.

 

"Well...since you <did> such a <swell> job of directing me

to the information I needed...I suppose I <could> show a bit

of mercy toward you..."

 

She sighed with relief, until she saw him extract the Luger

from the holster and casually attached a silencer.

 

"Wh...what are you doing? I..."

 

"Mercy, my dear Florence Nightingale, comes in all forms. Be

thankful <this> is the form <I> was gracious enough to give

you." He leveled the weapon with her chest and fired three

times, watching as her body fell backward in a spray of

blood.

 

Alex shook his head as he removed the silencer, dropped it

in his pocket and returned the Luger back to his holster. He

grabbed the overstuffed folder and glanced down at the dying

woman. "Thanks for the help, sweetheart." He winked at her,

turned on his heel and stepped out of the room, casually

closing the door and making his way back into the main

corridor.

 

"Excuse me, sir..."

 

He froze at the sound of an unfamiliar voice. Turning

around, he found himself facing a security guard who was

eyeing him suspiciously, and the folder even more so.

 

*It's always something, dammit.*

 

"Yes?"

 

"You, uh...you work here?"

 

Once more, Alex produced the billfold and sighed

impatiently. "How many more people have I got to show this

identification to, hmm? I just started here and was getting

some information on one of my cases, is that all right with

you, sir?"

 

The guard sighed, nodding as he studied the

identification. "I'm sorry, Doctor. But we can't be too

careful around here these days. There's been

some...incidents...lately...regarding one of our former

patients, and we've had to take some extra precautions."

 

"Understandable, but can I please be on my way now?"

 

"Oh. Yeah, yeah. Sure. Thanks."

 

Alex turned around and started down the corridor, his lips

upturning in a slow grin as he held the psychiatric history

of H.M. Murdock in his hands.

 

 

* * * * *

 

"You know, Hannibal, I really, *really* hate to say this,

but...um, maybe we...maybe we were a little hasty dismissing

Stockwell like that."

 

Hannibal looked across the table at Face, who was just as

unenthusiastic about eating as the rest of them. In fact,

after Stockwell's departure, the general atmosphere amongst

the group had taken on a solemnity that it hadn't had in

quite some time. The memories of their last encounter with

Fawkes were still fresh on everyone's minds...even

Frankie's, though he came on board for only the tail end of

things. *Lucky for him,* Hannibal reasoned to himself. *The

things Fawkes tried to do to us would've killed that kid.

Nearly killed the three of US.*

 

"Face, I am <not> going to let Hunt Stockwell run his games

on us again, not where Alexander Fawkes is concerned. How

does that saying go, fellas? Been there, done that? Not

interested anymore." He reached for his beer and took a long

healthy swig.

 

"But what if Stockwell's right?" Frankie nodded, quickly

agreeing with Face, even as he listlessly let his fork

rearrange the almost grotesque display of food on his

plate. "What if Fawkes <does> have those kinda connections

now, Johnny? Don't you think we oughta try to get some of

our own? I mean, this James Bond stuff ain't exactly what I

bargained for."

 

Murdock laughed sarcastically as he leaned back in his

chair, tossing his napkin onto his plate with an almost

violent force. "<None> of us bargained for <any> of this

shit, kid. Came with the territory."

 

"I ain't afraid of that foo'," B.A. groused after finishing

a gulp of milk. "That sucka can come after me all he wants.

He ain't gonna get me."

 

Face smiled slightly as he glanced at B.A. "I'm glad <one>

of us is confident, B.A." He looked at Hannibal again,

shaking his head slightly. "Hannibal, come on...let's be

reasonable about this. I mean, this isn't...this isn't like

normal. There's no plan. No Jazz. Just one mad bastard who

no doubt wants to seek some serious revenge on us for what

we did to him."

 

"That reminds me," Frankie began after a moment, looking

around the table curiously. "By the time <I> came in, Fawkes

was already on his way outta Dodge, so to speak. Nobody ever

<did> tell me what the hell this guy did to start all this

shit." He looked around expectantly, watching the various

expressions on the Team.

 

After several moments, Murdock straightened in his chair,

his dark eyes flashing with an intensity that took Frankie

by surprise. *Holy shit, Murdock's pissed,* he thought with

a shudder. *Whatever this prick did to him, it must have

been bad. Real bad. Do I REALLY want to hear this?*

 

"We first met Fawkes in Nam," Murdock stated after a moment,

his voice subdued and drawn with forced evenness. "His unit

was assigned to work with ours to infiltrate a suspected VC

nest. Routine op, really. Their pilot and I flew recon, back

and forth, scouting ahead from the air because the jungles

were so...so thick..." His voice trailed off and he

swallowed, blinking quickly as if reliving the time.

 

"Murdock, you don't have to go on..." Frankie started,

quickly wishing he hadn't asked these guys to thrust

themselves back into that war that Santana knew only from

books.

 

"Let him go on, Frankie," Hannibal countered softly, looking

sympathetically at Murdock. "I think it's about time this

was out in the open anyway. There's some things about this

that I don't think any of us has ever fully revealed to the

others." Leaning forward, he put a hand on Murdock's

arm. "Go on, Captain. We're listening."

 

"Th...thanks, Colonel." Murdock nodded slightly as Hannibal

sat back in his chair. He remained silent for a moment,

swallowing over his memories for a moment and trying to

figure out how to go on. *How do you summarize a moment of

your life? How do you put it into words?!* He asked himself.

 

*You just try. Do you best, Captain. That's all you CAN do.

Remember that.*

 

Murdock shifted in place again. "Um...yeah, so...uh...so me

and this guy, Clark I think his name was...we were flying

recon over the area when this...this message from Fawkes

came in...Fawkes was the, uh...the NCO or something,

I'm...I'm not sure. It's all pretty...kinda hazy and,

uh...well, we got the message to fly back toward base

camp..." He groaned and leaned forward, running a hand over

his face, shaking slightly. "I can't...I can't finish this

guys, I'm sorry. I gotta...I can't..."

 

The others watched in pained silence as Murdock bolted to

his feet and left the room, overcome by memories.

 

"Geezus, Johnny," Frankie rasped after a couple of

moments. "I didn't mean..."

 

Face reached over and put a sympathetic man on the younger

man's shoulder. "Don't worry about it, Frankie. It's not

your fault. It's Fawkes. It's all because of Fawkes. You

see...the message that Murdock and Clark had, from Fawkes,

to return to camp...was a set up. Turned out that Fawkes

knew a group of VC were waiting for them there and...they

were brought down." Face paused and drew in a deep breath,

his shoulders stiffening slightly. "They, uh...they ended up

nabbing Clark and Murdock and torturing the hell out of 'em.

Murdock lived, Clark didn't."

 

"Shit," Frankie sighed, shaking his head and groaning.

 

"Good thing we found Murdock when we did or he wouldn'ta

been alive neither," B.A. nodded solemnly. "Took care of

those guys. Made 'em pay for what they did."

 

"But what we <didn't> know was that the <real> enemy was

right in our own backyard." Hannibal leaned back in his

chair and sighed wearily. "Hell, at that point Murdock still

didn't know Fawkes had planned that little scene

deliberately. He just thought it was a horrible

miscalculation on Fawkes' men's parts."

 

Frankie eyed Hannibal curiously. "So how did you all find

out it <was> this guy's fault, huh?"

 

Face sighed and drew himself to his feet. "Maybe some other

time, Frankie. Look, nothing personal, but...uh...this has

all been a little much for me to go through right now, too.

I'll, uh...I'll go see how Murdock's doing."

 

"Good thinking, Face." Hannibal watched as the Lieutenant

left the room.

 

"I'm sorry, guys," Frankie muttered. "I can see it on your

faces. Reliving this shit...the more I here, I more I have

to wonder how the hell you guys ever walked outta there in

one piece."

 

A strange shadow occluded Hannibal's vividly blue eyes for a

moment. "Who says we did?" He mused sadly before he, too,

could no longer fight the urge to walk away from the table,

which seemed to be the present day manifestation of Nam.

 

For several moments, B.A. and Frankie remained still, not

looking at each other, until at last, B.A. also got to his

feet.

 

"I, uh...I gotta go fill up the van," He muttered before

leaving the room.

 

Frankie looked around the empty table and ran a hand over

his face, shaking his head. "Good job, Santana," he hissed

under his breath. "Try as you will you will <never>

completely fit in with these guys...will <never> understand

the shit that they do. One of these, you bonehead, maybe

you'll remember that and quit shoving your foot in your

mouth."

 

He hoped.

 

 

Part 3

 

Back in his pitiful excuse of a room, Alex intently pored through the

contents of the manila folder, his eyes greedily absorbing pertinent

information he came across as he sifted through the mountain of

psychiatric data. Much to his genuine astonishment, this <tome>

compiled only the last six <months> of Murdock's time in the V.A.

*Imagine the fucking paperwork for all those years!*, he thought,

shaking his head slightly.

 

"Geezus," He muttered as he turned another page of barely

decipherable notes. "This is <incredible>! The bastard was even

<more> off his rocker than even <I> gave him credit for being! Holy

shit, look at this....the guy's a total flake! Hmmm...should have

<no> problem dealing with <this> one."

 

He studied one particular page for a moment, letting his narrowed

eyes absorb the signature of the attending psychiatrist who signed

off on Murdock's case that day.

 

Richter.

 

"Hmmm, now <that> sounds like one man I need to make contact

with...and <soon>."

 

He grinned and closed the folder, feeling a rush of genuine, heady

optimism coursing through him for the first time in a very <very>

long time.

 

"Phase One of Operation Assassination is underway," He smirked as he

reached for the phone book.

 

 

* * * * *

 

Murdock found himself nearing the gates of the Langley compound and

stopped, his shoulders sagging slightly as he heard a familiar voice

calling his name. Reluctantly, he turned around.

 

"Face, I just needed some air..." He drew in a breath and shivered

slightly as Face gently touched his arm.

 

"I know, Murdock. I know."

 

*The hell you do,* Murdock thought with an amount of anger that

surprised him even as he thought it. *You don't <know> what it's

like. Not completely. Hell, you haven't even figured out my feelings

for you yet...*

 

"Uh, tell...tell Frankie...tell him it wasn't anything personal, huh?

I just..."

 

"I'm <sure> he'll understand, Murdock."

 

*Like HELL he will! Geezus, Face, if YOU can't understand, how the

fuck is FRANKIE supposed to?!*

 

"I...I don't know," He shook his head, reluctantly allowing his eyes

to actually meet Face's. He swallowed nervously and labored to

maintain his facade of detachment. *Like I don't kinda get a thrill

out of seeing the concern in those baby blues.* "C'mon, Muchacho,"

He began after a moment. "You and I <both> know that...well, that

Frankie will never...CAN never...<really> understand what we went

through over there. Not just with Fawkes, man...but with it all.

<All> the shit."

 

Face sighed and glanced briefly toward the gate guards, suddenly

feeling a bit inconspicuous with his hand on Murdock's arm. He pulled

it back and pretended to not notice the sudden flash of hurt that

flickered in Murdock's eyes. "Why, uh...why don't we talk about this

somewhere else, Murdock? Hmm?"

 

Murdock, much to Face's surprise, raised an eyebrow and with

humorless sarcasm mocked, "What's the matter, Faceman? Ashamed to be

<seen> with me now?"

 

Wounded, Face stared at Murdock. "What?! Murdock, what the hell are

you <talking> about? That...Where the hell did <that> come from? Of

<course> I'm not ashamed to be seen with you! I never <have> been!"

 

"Bullshit!"

 

"<What>?!" Face's jaw slackened and his entire aspect was consumed

with astonishment, his blue eyes shimmering with pained

incomprehension.

 

"I said, <bullshit>! You want me to engrave it on stationery and

have it <mailed> to ya?!" There was a sudden vehemence in Murdock's

posturing that was dramatically, not to mention uncharacteristically,

bitter for him. Face drew back further in his shock.

 

"Murdock, I...wh...<where> the hell is this coming from?! Did the

talk about Fawkes...did it bring up something you haven't...uh...you

haven't told me about?!"

 

Murdock slapped a palm against his face, hard. "You really <don't>

have a clue here, do you, Face? Geezus! And I thought..." His voice

trailed off and he shook his head, throwing his hands up in the air

in total exasperation. "Never mind! Just...never <mind>!"

 

"Murdock..." Face watched helplessly as his friend took off toward

the gate with a cadence of absolute indignation, hurt, and resentment.

 

"What in the <hell>..." Face didn't have the faintest idea about

what <that> encounter was all about...and in all honesty, he wasn't

exactly sure he really wanted to know.

 

 

* * * * *

 

"Johnny?"

 

He heard Frankie's hesitant voice from the doorway and drew in a

breath as he looked back at the much younger man. "Come on in,

Frank," He said softly, nodding ever so slightly, a subtle signal for

Frankie to lock the door behind them so they could converse as the

lovers they were, rather than simply as the Teammates they thought

they <had> to portray themselves as.

 

"Come here and sit down, kid." Hannibal nodded toward a nearby spot

on the bed, watching in bold fascination as the dark-haired, darkly-

complected man obliged...after, of course, locking the bedroom

door...as ordered.

 

"Johnny," Frankie started awkwardly after a couple of

moments. "I...I'm sorry, man. I'm so <damn> sorry to have brought

up that shit earlier...you know, about what you guys went through

with Fawkes. Sometimes I...sometimes I can be such a <prick>, ya

know?"

 

Hannibal smiled and rested a hand on Frankie's left thigh, inwardly

relishing the tremor he felt ripple the muscle beneath the fabric of

the man's jeans. "I <told> you not to worry about it...and I <meant>

that." His admonition was gentle, like his touch, but the younger

man knew it was intended with complete seriousness. "Shit is going

to remind us of more shit, Frank, to speak less than decorously. We

<all> have our own baggage to deal with. You're no exception. It's

just...well, it's just a matter of learning how and when we're able

to <fully> able deal with that."

 

"I guess," Frankie sighed, offering no resistance as Hannibal's

fingers slowly started kneading the muscled area beneath it.

 

"<Trust> me, kid. Whatever happened...it is <not> your fault.

However...what happens <next> WILL be, if you don't lay back on that

bed right now."

 

Frankie laughed at the huskiness in Hannibal's voice. "Who am I to

refuse an order like <that>?" He rasped, already feeling himself

becoming aroused as Hannibal's fingers slid over his thigh and

brushed the increasing bulge at the front of his jeans.

 

Relaxing for the first time since Stockwell's regularly unscheduled

visit, he slowly lay back until he was completely horizontal on the

bed, groaning as he felt his jeans being unfastened and a

comfortingly familiar set of lips passionately crushed down onto his

and they were once more swiftly enthralled with each other as only

the most intimate could be.

 

 

 

Part 4

 

Richter sighed and started to turn the key in the lock, freezing when

he sensed another presence watching him. He turned around and found

himself looking at an unfamiliar figure, a man of average height and

appearance, dressed in a black leather jacket, black tee shirt and

jeans, and most obnoxious pair of alligator boots the psychiatrist

thought he'd ever seen. Replete with slicked back hair and black

shades, the guy looked like something out of Bikers Weekly Magazine.

 

Richter lifted an eyebrow. "Can I help you?"

 

"You Richter?" The man asked in a voice laden with some accent that

Richter couldn't quite pinpoint.

 

"Yes, I'm Dr. Richter. Have we met?"

 

"Not yet. But you're <just> the guy I've been looking for." A slow

smile upturned the man's lips and Richter stared in surprise as the

man extracted a gun from inside the leather jacket, aiming it at

Richter's chest. "Now why don't you invite me in, Doc, hmmm? There's

a <lot> of questions I need to ask you."

 

"Questions?! What the devil is going on here? Who <are> you?" Richter

looked around the suburban street which, unfortunately, seemed

unusually devoid of human activity at the moment.

 

"That's not important, Doc. Just unlock the door and let's take this

inside, huh?"

 

Richter grimaced but did as ordered, inhaling sharply as he suddenly

found himself being shoved forward into the livingroom as the man

locked the door behind him. "Sit down, Doc."

 

As he seated himself in a nearby chair, Richter watched the man's

face, hoping for some sense of familiarity. But it was a futile

exercise in recognition, made more futile as the man practically

ripped the sunglasses off his face and glared at him.

 

"Okay, Doc...talk to me about Murdock. H.M. Murdock. And don't leave

<anything> out."

 

"What?!" Richter almost laughed sarcastically, his eyebrows raising

simultaneously in disbelief. "You've gotta be kidding me..."

 

The man stood in front of him and waved the gun for emphasis. "Do I

<look> like I'm kidding?! Heh. And they said you were a <good>

shrink!"

 

"Who said that?" Richter shifted slightly in place, trying to remain

calm and unfettered in appearance as his right index finger slid

around the right arm and carefully pressed a small button concealed

there. For once he was glad he'd listened to his ex and had installed

a silent alarm...."for protection of patient information" he kept at

home.

 

The man crossed one arm over the other and smirked as he studied the

psychiatrist's face. "Quit playing word games with me, bright guy. I

want to know Murdock's weaknesses. Besides the obvious, I mean. Who

does he love? Does he have family?"

 

"Why don't you ask the guy yourself? Hmm?"

 

"Because...because I'm having just a <little> bit of trouble trying

to locate the guy at the moment and because I want <your> take on the

loser. Now, spill it! Unless you want me to spill YOU all over that

hideous painting right over there."

 

Richter drew in a breath and leaned back, crossing his hands in his

lap and patiently waiting for the assuring sounds of sirens to start

punctuating the air outside.

 

Unfortunately, after the usual amount of time lapsed, Richter frowned

and realized that something was wrong; that the security crew

*wasn't* coming.

 

"Problem, Doc?" The man smirked, reaching into one pocket of his

jacket and holding up a small bouquet of multicolored wires. "I

suppose you're looking for these, hmm? Your fancy little silent alarm

won't work without <these>."

 

Richter suddenly felt a gnawing sense of nausea as his eyes riveted

on the barrel of that damned gun.

 

"Looks like I don't have any choice here," He forced warily after a

few moments, his voice drawn and strained.

 

"No. Actually, Doc...you do. You don't talk, you die. That's always

an option." The man grinned and seated himself on the sofa, leaning

back and heavily throwing his alligator boots atop the cherry

coffee table that separated the two men. "It's up to you, man. I'm

game for either one. What I don't get from you, I sure as hell can

get from someone else. It's not like you're my only option here."

 

"I see. Mind if I ask you a question?"

 

"Go for it. Shows you're paying attention."

 

Richter groaned inwardly. "What is it about Murdock, huh? What has

that guy done that could possibly instill so much hatred in you?"

 

The man laughed and shook his head. "Always on fucking duty, aren't

you, Doc? Trust me...you <don't> wanna know what's going on."

 

"Why not?" Now Richter was genuinely curious and he leaned forward

carefully, expectantly.

 

After a moment, the man's smile evaporated and his eyes hardened,

expression evaporating in an instant. "Because then I'd have to kill

<you>, too," He stated bluntly.

 

Richter swallowed and ran a hand over his face.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

Face shook his head as he made his way back up to the house, inwardly

wondering what the hell that scene with Murdock had been <really> all

about. It was more than just Fawkes and the memories, although that

was, even for <him>, a pretty substantial part. There was something

else...something almost tangible, a feeling like maybe he (Face) was

overlooking something that should have been patently obvious.

 

He <hated> when he got that impression.

 

He sighed and made his way toward his room, deciding to grab the keys

to his Vette and take off for a drive, something that seemed to help

him take his mind off things.

 

Or maybe he'd call Yvette, that luscious new Austrian model he'd met

last week.

 

He grinned slyly and started toward his room, but stopped when he

heard the damndest of noises coming out of Hannibal's room.

 

"Oh god, <yes>, Johnny! YES!!!!"

 

Face's aspect paled and his eyes widened as he recognized that voice

immediately. "Frankie?!" He mouthed, immediately forgetting his <own>

intentions as he pressed an ear to the door and reeled in

astonishment to sounds he thought he'd <never> hear!

 

Frankie and Hannibal?! Having SEX?!

 

Face listened in horror as he heard the distinct sounds of moaning

and groaning and another cry of exuberance from Frankie. The image of

Frankie and Hannibal together was unbelievable...Face found himself

reeling in disbelief as he staggered away from the door.

 

And right into a hard figure that appeared seemingly from out of

nowhere.

 

"Hey!" A familiar gruff voice intoned.

 

Face jerked and whirled around in place, surprised to find himself

looking at B.A. "B.A.! Uh, listen...I, uh...I was just on my way to

my room and..."

 

"You was listenin' outside <Hannibal's> door, Faceman!" B.A.

frowned. "That ain't right!"

 

"Well, look I...I know it might <look> rather, um....suspicious,

B.A., but you don't understand, I..."

 

"You're right, sucka! I <don't> understand! Need help with the van.

Can't find no one else so you'll do. C'mon."

 

"But..." Face stammered as B.A. grabbed him by the jacket collar and

literally dragged him away from the door, moments before Hannibal's

triumphant cry of "Yeah, kid, yeah!" reverberated through the

corridor.

 

 

Part 5

 

"All righty then....one down. Three to go."

 

Alex grinned and let his hands wrap around the steering wheel,

luxuriating in the feel of the faux leather covering that had sat

baking in the afternoon sun well before Fawkes had liberated the

vehicle from its owner. He smiled and let his fingers tap to the

rhythm of the classical music that blasted from the car's rear

speakers.

 

He started to whistle, his mind processing images of the death and

destruction that was soon to begin.

 

Very, *very* soon.

 

He pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine, looking up

at the small building with keen interest. This small veterinary

clinic was rather quaint in appearance, he noted, his mind imagining

the face of the female owner and operator of the establishment.

 

He could see it now...

 

 

* "Kelly!" Murdock cried, his eyes bulging in horror as he collapsed

at the graveside. "Oh god, it's true..."

"Of course it's true, you moron," Fawkes leered, standing nearby

and watching the grief-stricken man with a broad grin on his face. "I

warned you what would happen if you betrayed me, Murdock. I fucking

<warned> you, and you never listened! Well, it's a few years after

the fact, but there it is...the result of <your> screw up! I hope you

can live with yourself, buddy. That's <more> blood on your

hands, 'Muchacho'! More <innocent> blood!"

The look of primal hatred that shot from Murdock's eyes was

strangely exciting to Fawkes and he chuckled as he watched the

trembling pilot waver to a standing position, hands clenching and

unclenching at his sides in overwhelming rage. For several moments

they remained silent, staring at one another in a silent showdown

that had begun many, many years before...*

 

 

"Game point, Murdock," Fawkes snickered. "Game point."

 

Reaching into the pocket of his denim jacket, he caressed the cold

metal butt of the Luger and inhaled carefully. "Not so fast, Fawkes,"

he told himself, also noticing a disturbing sensation in the hollow

of his abdomen. "No rule says you can't <enjoy> yourself while

getting even with that nutcase."

 

He licked his lips and glanced toward the building where he saw a

woman pass in front of a large window. "Mmmm...definitely going to

<enjoy> this one."

 

He climbed out of the car and affixed as accommodating a smile as he

could muster, a smile that broadened as he made his way toward the

building's entrance and he could hear the woman's voice inside,

apparently in conversation on the telephone.

 

How long had it been since he'd even <been> with anyone?

 

Years. Since his wife's death.

 

*Shit. No wonder I'm getting hard just listening to her and watching

her shadow pass.*

 

He drew in a breath and let his mind wander until he heard her

conversation end.

 

 

* * * * *

 

"Hand me the wrench!"

 

Face remained still, shaking his head and looking as if he were

walking around in an entirely alternate dimension, until B.A. shook

him and he jerked himself out of his self-imposed reverie, eyeing the

black man with wide eyes. "Huh? What?"

 

"I said, hand me the wrench, fool!" B.A. growled impatiently,

releasing Face and leaning back away from the open hood of the

van. "Okay, sucka...what's goin' on?"

 

"H...hah? Wh...what makes you think something's going on? Listen,

B.A., I'm sorry I wandered off like that, but I..."

 

"Don't wanna hear no excuses! Wanna hear what's goin' on!" B.A.'s

eyes flashed dangerously as he crossed his arms over his chest and

awaited a response from his visibly disturbed companion.

 

"No you don't," Face managed quietly, before he could stifle the

words. *Shit,* he thought with a sigh, running a hand over his face

and looking absolutely ill all of a sudden.

 

"What?!"

 

"I said..."

 

"Hey guys!" A familiar voice enthused suddenly, mercifully (at least

to Face) interrupting the proceedings. He and B.A. turned and saw

Frankie and Hannibal approaching, both men looking more than a little

refreshed and Face paled visibly.

 

"Need some help with that van, man?" Frankie chuckled, practically

dancing as he approached.

 

"Frankie and I were in the neighborhood and just thought we'd pass

by," Hannibal grinned mischeviously, eyeing Face curiously. "Did we,

uh...interrupt something here?"

 

"NO!" Face practically shouted, pulling away from B.A. and all but

cringing, despite the strange looks he was getting from the

others. "Not a thing! I, uh...excuse me, fellas, hah? I'm just...I

REALLY need to go out for a drive right now..."

 

"Face..." Frankie started, frowning in confusion. He started to

follow the Lieutenant, but stopped when Hannibal shook his head.

 

"Let him go, Frank." Hannibal's eyes darkened slightly as he studied

Face's hastily retreating form. "I've got a feeling that Face really

<does> need to be alone right now."

 

"Hannibal, somethin' ain't right with him," B.A. nodded, shaking his

head in disbelief. "He been actin' real funny since I caught him

outside your room."

 

A moment of silence followed, punctuated by Frankie's half-cough/half-

choke.

 

"Wh...what?!" Santana half-squeaked, dark eyes widening slightly in

apprehension.

 

Hannibal frowned and shot B.A. a wary look. "What was that, B.A.?!

You caught him outside my room?! When?"

 

B.A. shrugged slightly, then scratched his head briefly. " 'Bout a

half an hour ago I guess. I needed help with the van and couldn't

find no one else, so I dragged him away. He was listenin' at your door

and lookin' real, <real> funny."

 

"Aw shit!" Frankie cried, paling and slamming a hand against his

thigh. "Johnny, I KNEW..."

 

"Easy, Frank! <I'll> handle this." He shot B.A. a serious

look. "B.A., not a word of this to Murdock. I don't know what Face

told you or what you think, but not a word of this until I get this

straightened out with the Lieutenant. You got it?"

 

B.A. nodded, but looked more confused than ever.

 

"Good. Frankie, go cool off. We'll talk later. B.A., just..."

Hannibal paused a moment. "Sit tight, pal." He glanced at Frankie

again. "Both of you."

 

They watched as Hannibal walked away, determined to find Face. (In

more ways than one.)

 

"B.A..." Frankie started, then swallowed and shook his head.

 

"I don't wanna know," B.A. grumbled, returning his attention to the

mechanics of the van engine, the ferocity of his efforts glaring to

the trembling Santana.

 

*Shitfuck*, he swallowed before turning on his heel and storming back

toward the house, his face flaming crimson.

 

 

Part 6

 

Murdock slammed the apartment door closed behind him and sighed

heavily, forcing himself to try to steady himself. The entire scene

with Face had nearly <completely> blown up in his face. He'd come

close, <too> damn close, to telling his best friend in the world

exactly just <how> deep his feelings for the man <truly> ran. His

love for the man was so intense at times it hurt, like now, and much

more than simple physical aching and longing.

 

Leaning his back against the door, Murdock allowed himself to close

his eyes briefly and struggle to get his emotions in check.

Rerunning the scene with Face wasn't doing him any good. He <knew>

that. And yet...and yet he <needed> to figure out <why> bringing up

memories of Fawkes would cause such an intense knee-jerk reaction to

his feelings for Face.

 

What the <fuck> was with <that>?!

 

Slowly he released a breath, letting the circulation of air relax his

muscles slightly.

 

"Dammit, Face," He sighed after a couple of moments, reluctantly

opening his eyes and looking around the apartment that was eerily

shadowed thanks to the late afternoon sunlight that was streaming in

through the sliding glass doors nearby. "Why in the <hell> can't you

just..." He paused, his gaze suddenly drawn to a nearby stand where

a phone and answering machine rested.

 

The answering machine was alive with a sporadic red light, indicating

the preservation of at least two messages.

 

"Great," He groaned after a moment, slowly running a hand over his

face and thoughtlessly shoving his cap further toward the back of his

head. "<Now> what?! And do I really and <truly>, truly and really,

really really truly <truly> wanna know?!" He hesitated a moment,

wondering if he should check the machine. After all, if it <was>

Face, as it more than likely was bound to be...did he <really> feel

up to...

 

He shook his head and laughed to himself. "Get a hold of yourself,

<Fool>," he mocked as he made his way toward the telephone

stand. "It's just <Face> for cryin' out loud! Geez...actin' like a

damn love struck teenager."

 

*Maybe because that's EXACTLY how you feel, Murdock! A love struck

teenager with a crush!*

 

"On my friggin' <best friend> of all people," He smirked, letting his

left index finger slide across the machine.

 

Within moments the small studio apartment was filled with the sounds

of Templeton Peck's concerned voice, just as Murdock had expected:

 

"Uh, Murdock...you there?" A pause. "C'mon, Murdock, if you're

there, pick up, will ya? <Please?>" Another pause. "Dammit! Ah, okay,

then...call me when you get this, huh?"

 

Click.

 

Murdock couldn't fight the slight smile that struggled to upturn his

lips as he took off his cap and tossed it onto a nearby chair, then

did the same with his jacket as the second message started playing,

this one <also> from Face:

 

"Murdock, will you pick up this damn phone?! I just..." A pause and

what sounded like a nervous swallow. "I <really> need to talk to you,

buddy. You will <not> believe what I just found out..."

 

Click.

 

Murdock's left eyebrow shot up in curiosity. Hmmm. "Wonder what

<that's> all about?" He mused as he took off his sneakers, then

kicked them across the room before folding himself into a nearby

chair.

 

Meanwhile, the next message on the machine played:

 

"Well," A chillingly familiar voice said, immediately causing Murdock

to bolt upright in his chair, eyes widening in astonishment and

instant recognition. "Hell-o there, <old buddy>, H.M. Murdock," The

voice of none other than Alexander Fawkes chuckled, purposely mocking

the cheerful message that greeted callers whenever they phoned

Murdock's machine.

 

"Oh <shit>!!" Murdock gasped, nearly falling out of his chair as the

message continued:

 

"Remember me, Murdock? Heh. Yeah, I'm sure you do. At least, I like

to <think> you do. You and I...we were more than comrades, huh? We

were...what did you call us? Oh yeah...we were MUCHACHOS! Yeah.

That's it. Listen, there's someone with me who wants <very> much to

talk to you, buddy. We'll call back. Hope you're there."

 

Click.

 

Murdock gasped and felt his hands gripping the cloth arms of the

chair, unaware of how white his knuckles were becoming.

 

Fawkes.

 

It was goddamned Fawkes!

 

How in the HELL could <that> have happened?!

 

Stockwell.

 

Murdock felt a renewed sense of revulsion for Hunt Stockwell,

churning like acid in the hollow of his gut as he waited through a

series of mundane, unimportant, suddenly <meaningless> messages,

before Fawkes' voice returned to haunt Murdock's dwelling, and his

mind, once again:

 

"Murdock, here's your friend. Since we didn't get a hold of you,

looks like you're gonna have to settle for this instead..." A series

of shuffling noises, a painful cry, and then another voice resounded

from the machine's speaker, a voice that otherwise would have

gladdened Murdock to no end to hear...but whose presence now,

alongside Fawkes, caused the pilot to tremble in horrified

anticipation.

 

*Kelly! Oh god, no...you sick prick! You goddamned sick prick!

Kelly...oh please no...*

 

"H.M.," She choked, her voice barely audible. "H.M., please..."

 

He closed his eyes. She was the only person, beside Face, who had

managed to get to him like this...

 

*Don't let me lose her! Please! Not like this! Not to HIM! PLEASE!*

 

"...please don't blame...don't blame yourself. I love you!"

 

She screamed the last words, her voice cut off abruptly in midflight

by the sound of a single gunshot, followed by a heavy thud.

 

Murdock's eyes flew open and he screamed.

 

Click.

 

* * * * *

 

"Lieutenant, turn off the engine."

 

Seated behind the wheel of the Vette, Face jerked upright, paling

when he saw Hannibal standing beside the passenger door, one gloved

hand resting firmly on the door handle before him.

 

"Uh, look, Hannibal...I, uh...I just remembered that, uh...that

there's an errand that Stockwell asked me to run and I...I really

<don't> want to upset him. I mean, you know how he gets and

all...what with what went on and everything and..."

 

"Cut the crap, Face," Hannibal sighed, his blue eyes narrowing as he

leaned forward. "Turn...off...the...engine. Unless you want me to

do it myself..."

 

"No!" Face exclaimed, the thought of Hannibal reaching across his lap

suddenly instilling sheer terror in his blue eyes. His fingers

fumbled with unnatural clumsiness, but he eventually managed to turn

the key. He exhaled uncomfortably. *As Frankie is so apt to

eloquently say,* he thought with a nervous swallow as he watched

Hannibal open the door and seat himself, *...shitfuck!*

 

"Kid," Hannibal began after a moment, his blue eyes sparkling with a

strange, almost mischevious twinkle as he glanced at Face. "You and

I have gotta talk."

 

"Uh, Hannibal, I really <don't> think that...that's necessary, is

it?" He could always hope, right?

 

Hannibal simply stared at him for a moment. "That depends," He half-

chuckled after a minute. "Are you going to blush like hell and turn

your eyes every time I try to look at you?"

 

"Uh, well..." Face shifted in place.

 

"Look, let's just get this out in the open," Hannibal sighed and

leaned back a moment, drawing in a carefully measured breath, but

keeping his gaze on the uncomfortable younger man. "What you heard

at the door..."

 

"Hannibal, you don't have to..."

 

"For god's sake, of <course> I have to! If we're gonna operate as a

Team, this has <got> to be resolved! So, okay, let's resolve it.

Frankie and I are lovers. There."

 

"Hannibal!" Face felt his face flush even deeper and he longed to

crawl out the door. And yet there was something there that kept him

still meeting Smith's gaze. "How...how did...when...?" *You know,

Peck, for a Con Man you sure are making an ass of yourself right now.*

 

Of course, it wasn't everyday that the man he'd looked up to for so

many years, the man he'd respected almost like the father he never

had...it wasn't <everyday> that Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith

admitted he slept with members of his own gender. Sure Face had seen

plenty of men swing both ways over in Nam. Hell, he'd been

propositioned a time or two.

 

But <Hannibal>?!

 

PROUDLY admitting his relationship?

 

With <Frankie>?! A little <street urchin> like <Frankie Santana>?!

 

Face shook his head slightly and he laughed nervously, running a hand

over his mouth as he labored to find something to say.

 

"Face...let me explain..."

 

"No. I mean, you don't...you don't have to..."

 

Hannibal frowned. "That's where you're wrong, kid. I see the fear in

your eyes. <That> is precisely the reason I made Frankie keep this

under wraps."

 

"What?! <You> made him not...not...?"

 

"That's right," Hannibal stated with an almost boastful air that

showed Face a brief glimpse of the genuine emotion felt for his young

lover. "Frankie...when he started on the last Aquamaniac picture...he

made no secret about his attraction to me. In fact...he, uh..."

Hannibal paused and a youthful glow lit his blue eyes as he laughed

slightly and relaxed his posture slightly. "He wanted to practically

shout it from the rooftops the first night I agreed to go out to

dinner with him..."

 

Face swallowed. *I can't believe I'm hearing this. I just CANNOT

believe I'm hearing this! Look at him! He really DOES love Santana!

My god! Look at him! It's in his eyes, his movements, his talk...*

 

Hannibal was practically glowing!

 

Face thought he was going to be sick, but somehow managed to hold it

together to nod stiffly and force a smile. "So, you...uh...this

wasn't your..." *Aww shit, do I REALLY want to know this?!*

 

Of <course> he did. His curiosity seemed to override his momentary

apprehension...at least for a moment or two.

 

*Shitfuck.*

 

"First time?" Hannibal laughed, studying Face's expression for a

moment. "Hardly, Face. But, uh...I think you've heard enough for one

day." His smile evaporated as he reached out to put a supportive hand

on Face's arm and Face winced and pulled away, as if Smith's touch

burned him.

 

Hannibal inhaled sharply and forced himself to exit the

Vette. "Face..." He started as he closed the door behind him.

 

"Y..yeah?"

 

"Don't tell B.A. about this. Not yet. Let me do that."

 

"Don't worry," Face exhaled, shaking his head slightly. "Wasn't

planning on it, Colonel." He watched as Hannibal started to walk

away. "Hannibal?"

 

Smith paused and turned around, one eyebrow raised curiously as he

eyed Face.

 

"Yeah, Face?"

 

For the first time for most of the day, a small but genuine smile

upturned Face's lips. "Is this where I'm supposed to ask, 'Is a cigar

really JUST a cigar?' "

 

For a moment Hannibal was silent, and then it happened.

 

The tension was broke...at least for the moment.

 

But as he watched a now chuckling Hannibal walk back toward the

compound, Face was still having apoplexy about the whole idea and the

scenario he couldn't seem to get out of his head.

 

He turned on the engine, determined to find himself a woman, or

two...or three...

 

 

Part 7

 

Richter stared in horror as the door to the cell opened and Fawkes

shoved a battered woman inside. Quickly scrambling over the newly

expired form of the nurse he'd been struggling to keep alive for the

past several hours, he made his way to where the new arrival now lay

in a battered, unconscious ball.

 

"Got another way to occupy your time, Doc," Fawkes grinned as he

slammed the cell door closed and turned the key in the lock,

pocketing it with excessive casualness. "Hope this one lasts longer."

 

Richter glared up at the man as Fawkes, now dressed in one of <his>

best suits, walked away, his footfalls resounding like small claps of

thunder as they echoed off the stone walls that comprised the cell

blocks. Moments later the resounding noise of a slamming door

followed, and Richter exhaled before carefully easing the beaten

woman onto her back so he could study her.

 

What he found made his stomach turn, despite his years in the medical

and psychiatric professions.

 

"Mother of god," He inhaled, his eyes widening as he stared at the

nearly disfigured face and violently battered body that was covered

in blood and looking like something out of a horror movie.

Tentatively he reached out and touched her face and jumped back when

one eye flipped open and she whimpered.

 

"Hey, hey...shh, it's okay. I won't hurt you. I...I promise. I'm a

doctor. I just..I'm a doctor. I want to help you. Please."

 

Her eye looked up at him and he somehow had a feeling that she

understood and would trust him. Whoever this poor girl was, she

obviously had some connection to Murdock.

 

He sighed as he removed what was left of his shirt and started to

tear it into strips. As he started binding of the girl's wounds,

Richter thought of Murdock and wondered exactly <what> his former

patient had done to instill such wrath in Fawkes.

 

At that point, Richter couldn't even begin to fathom the true extent

of Fawkes' madness and honestly wasn't sure he really wanted to.

 

Hell, he <knew> he didn't want to.

 

 

* * * * *

 

Stockwell looked up as the door to his office was thrown open with

such violence that it cracked slightly as it slammed into the wall

behind it.

 

"Carla, what the..." He stopped when he saw the figure that occupied

the doorway. "Captain Murdock."

 

"Carla's tied up," Murdock stated coldly, his posture as hard as the

look in his eyes. Stockwell would have had to have been <blind> not

to have seen the pure unadulterated hatred burning in those eyes, and

to realize that hatred was directed squarely at <him>.

 

"I see." For a moment Stockwell remained motionless, watching and

waiting to see what Murdock would do.

 

"You and I have to talk...<Stockwell>."

 

Stockwell leaned forward, his dark eyes flashing as he watched

Murdock slowly advance toward him. "You and I don't <have> to do

<anything>...<Captain>. I don't respond well to threats or

ultimatums. You should know that about me by now."

 

"I don't give a flying fuck <what> you respond to, you...you bastard!"

 

Stockwell stiffened. "You know, Murdock...I'm beginning to see the

darker side of your so-called insanity and I must tell you, I find it

less than appealing. You might want to give serious reconsideration

to what you are doing here at the moment, before you say or do

something you will regret later on."

 

"The <only> thing I regret...is ever having set eyes on YOU! Now you

tell me...right here, right NOW...where Fawkes is. And don't, do NOT,

tell me you have no idea because I <know> how slugs like you operate,

Stockwell! I <know> that little scene back at the house was just a

show to advertise what you were gonna keep on' doin'

anyway...checking up on Fawkes, whether we volunteered to 'help' you

or not."

 

"I see. Interesting theory, Captain."

 

"We both know it <isn't> a theory." Murdock now stood in front of the

desk, so close his thighs brushed the structure. Stockwell watched

with a sort of morbid fascination, and a tight smile, as Murdock

leaned forward, slamming his palms on the desktop so hard that it

shook slightly. "Cut the crap, General. I'm <not> leaving here until

you tell me where that son of a bitch is hiding out. And after I take

care of him...you can bet your ass that I'm not going to let <this>

latest lie go by. I promise you that!"

 

Stockwell smirked and slowly removed his tinted glasses, making a

point of casually resting them on the desktop before looking up into

Murdock's eyes. "Don't threaten me, Captain. It really does <nothing>

for your entreaty but make you look...well, to put it frankly,

desperate."

 

"Why you..." Murdock started to lunge for Stockwell but stopped as he

heard the all too familiar sound of cocking guns from the doorway. He

didn't have to turn around to know that, at some point, Stockwell had

somehow managed to summon a couple of his goon squad.

 

"Emotional reactions hold no place in a mission like this one,

Captain," Stockwell stated. "They only cause more damage than prevent

it. Trust me on that one. Now, if you think you can remain <civil>

about this...sit down and perhaps we <should> talk. Especially given

the messages Fawkes left on your answering machine..."

 

"Wha...you...you KNOW..." Murdock's voice trailed off for a moment

and he straightened, running a hand over his face. "Why the <fuck>

does this surprise me?!" He exclaimed with a bitter laugh, his

shoulders shaking slightly. "Why does <anything> you do surprise me

at this point?! So tell me, old man...how long have you had my phone

tapped, huh? A week? A month?"

 

Stockwell leaned back in his chair and much to Murdock's surprise, a

look of genuine concern flashed in the older man's eyes. "Ever since

you took the apartment, Captain. I, uh...like to keep track of my

personnel."

 

"I'm not your ANYTHING!" Murdock paused, swallowing repeatedly over

the emotions that seemed wont to surface. "If...if you had my phone

tapped...if you KNEW what this...what Fawkes was doing...for god's

sake, man, why in the name of god didn't you DO something?!"

 

"I couldn't." Stockwell replied quietly after a moment.

 

"Couldn't or <wouldn't>?!"

 

Stockwell exhaled carefully. "Does it make a difference?"

 

"Yes! It makes ALL the difference! Someone I...someone very, VERY

dear to me is fucking DEAD, Stockwell! DEAD! And you just...you just

sat back and <let> it happen?! You knew it and..."

 

"Now just hold on a minute, Captain," Stockwell interjected, his tone

hardening as he got to his feet and started to make his way around

the desk. "There is MUCH more to this than you realize. Much, MUCH

more. Now, I truly AM sorry about what happened to your former

girlfriend...but this isn't JUST about you. The rest of the members

of the Team are involved here. Fawkes is taking out revenge on ALL of

you. According to our sources..."

 

"Your SOURCES let an innocent woman die!" Murdock's voice was now

starting to crack and his anger and resolve was fast crumbling

beneath the weight of his emotional anguish. He turned away, slamming

a fist against his thigh, ignorant of any pain that the blow might

have caused himself.

 

"No, Captain, they didn't. They gather information, that's all they

do. The actual prevention of Fawkes...that's up to you and the rest

of the Team."

 

Slowly, Murdock turned his head and met Stockwell's gaze, studying

him suspiciously. "What do YOU get out of this?" He muttered after a

moment. "If we nail Fawkes...what the hell do YOU get? According to

you, WE'RE the ones this guy wants..."

 

"Yes," Stockwell nodded. "You are." Carefully he put a hand on

Murdock's shoulder. "Let's just say that I don't appreciate anyone

trying to eliminate <my> personnel, Murdock. That's something I tend

to take a little personally."

 

Murdock remained silent, not sure how to reply to that. Pulling away,

he stormed out of the office, literally shoving his way past the two

armed men that Stockwell had earlier summoned, who started to go

after him, but stopped when Stockwell lifted a hand.

 

"It's all right, gentlemen," The General replied. "Let him go. The

boy is going through Hell right now. Give him some space."

 

*He's going to need it before THIS nightmare is through. We ALL are.*

 

 

Part 8

 

Hannibal found himself walking the grounds of the compound, losing

himself in thought as he thought about his encounter with Face. The

look of abject horror that shone in the Lieutenant's eyes was

painful, though Smith <hated> to admit it. It cut through him worse

than any weapon had. The <last> thing he ever wanted was to see that

look in his own men's eyes.

 

His own men.

 

That phrase took on a new meaning since he gave into his attraction

to Frankie.

 

He paused and drew in a breath, the cigar in his mouth suddenly

tasting as appealing as plywood. He yanked it out of his mouth and

threw it to the ground, crushing it with his foot.

 

He hadn't <meant> to give in.

 

He hadn't <meant> to find himself drawn to the much younger man.

 

It just happened.

 

He sighed. He could understand Face's fear and revulsion. Hell, he'd

felt those emotions firsthand when <he> first discovered Morrison...

 

Morrison.

 

A cold shudder traveled down his spine at the thought of that man,

the man who had started so much and yet was around for so little.

 

"Bastard," He found himself muttering.

 

"Hey!" A loud cry from the gate suddenly pulled him from his reverie,

and Hannibal watched in surprise as a beatup old Chevelle screeched

through the gate, past the startled attendants and up the drive

toward house.

 

*Who the hell is THAT?!,* Hannibal wondered.

 

Intrigued, Hannibal started toward where the vehicle screamed to a

halt and the driver's side door was thrown open violently. When

Hannibal saw who it was, his blue eyes widened.

 

*Murdock?! My god, he looks pissed...*

 

"Murdock!" He called, stepping up his pace as he walked toward the

man, his brows furrowing in concern. As he drew close, he saw that

the pilot's face was white with rage, a barely suppressed vehemence

that Smith hadn't seen <this> badly since...

 

Fawkes.

 

*Dammit! This has GOTTA have something to do with him...shit!*

 

"Murdock, what is it? What's wrong?" Hannibal felt a tightening in

his abdomen as he willingly let some of Murdock's tension flow onto

him.

 

For several moments, Murdock stood still, staring at Hannibal as if

looking at a ghost. "He killed her," He half-whispered after a

moment, his voice trembling.

 

"What? Who? Who killed who?" Hannibal swallowed, clasping Murdock's

arms as the Captain looked like he was going to waver slightly.

 

"Kelly, Colonel. He killed...He killed Kelly."

 

Hannibal watched as Murdock paled even further. "Fawkes?" He asked

warily after a moment, suddenly feeling very ill.

 

Murdock nodded stiffly and swallowed. "He...he left...he left...aw,

shit, Hannibal, he killed her over the fucking phone!!! On my

goddamned answering machine!!"

 

"WHAT?!" Hannibal's fingers wrapped tightly around the man's jacket,

fiercely sinking into the leather.

 

Murdock drew in a breath, continuing to tremble despite the firm

grasp Hannibal had on his arms. "He...he left a message...two

really...on...on my machine...and he shot her. I...I just talked to

Stockwell and..."

 

Hannibal drew in a sharp breath and straightened

stiffly. "Stockwell?!" His scowl deepened. "What did <he> have to

say?"

 

"A..Actually, Colonel, he...he wasn't...he...aw shit, I can't..."

 

"Easy, Captain. Go in. Sit down. Hell, get yourself a drink if you

have to. <I'll> talk to Stockwell."

 

"But Colonel, I..."

 

"Murdock...I <mean> it. Go try to calm your ass down. You won't be

any good if you're a wreck." He paused and his voice softened as he

carefully put a hand on the man's shoulder. "Don't worry, buddy. I

<promise> you, we'll nail him...and nail him good. <Together>...as a

Team."

 

Murdock, eyes slightly moist nodded. "Th...thanks, Hannibal." He

watched as Hannibal released his shoulder and stormed off

purposefully.

 

*Geezus,* Murdock thought. *Stockwell is NOT going to like what's

about to hit him shortly.*

 

 

* * * * *

 

"Hi there, I was told that I could find a Sister Teresa here?"

 

The nun surveyed the visitor a moment. "Um, just a moment...would you

mind waiting, please? I, uh...I'm new here and I have to see how

we're supposed to handle such a request."

 

"Of course." Fawkes grinned, the faux mustache he'd so carefully

applied earlier that day starting to irritate the tender skin beneath

it. *Dammit, I want to fucking ITCH this thing!*

 

He watched as the gate was closed and locked and he drew in a breath

as he casually straightened the serape he'd nabbed in town. *Ahh, the

wonders of flight. I can be in two countries in one day...amazing.

Purely amazing.*

 

No wonder Murdock loved piloting so much. It left *so* many more

options open.

 

Leslie Becktall was just beyond that gate, and soon another piece to

the puzzle would fall into place.

 

He smirked and envisioned Templeton Peck's face (no pun intended)

when he saw what plans Fawkes had in store for <this> sister...

 

Ah yes, this was going to be sweet.

 

After a couple of moments, the gate opened again and a different nun

appeared, this one slightly older but with an attractive face that

Fawkes immediately recognized from the dossier he'd built over the

years.

 

The former Leslie Becktall.

 

Perfect.

 

*I love it when a plan comes together*, he guffawed inwardly.

 

"Hello," She smiled, a sweet, genteel smile that almost, *almost*,

made him reconsider using her in this part of the plan.

 

But then she spoke again.

 

"I'm Sister Teresa. Sister Agnes said you wished to speak with me?

How may I help you, Mister...?"

 

"Black. John Black. Um, actually, Sister...I was directed here by an

old friend, Templeton Peck..."

 

Her eyes widened. "Templeton?" She gasped. "Oh! I, uh...that doesn't

sound like..." She paused and smiled. "I'm sorry. Please...do come

in. Any friend of Templeton's is sure to be a friend of mine."

 

Fawkes smiled broadly. "I sure hope so, Sister. But, um...forgive me

for sounding kinda strange here, but...um, well...in all honesty, I

have this...I have this <thing> against convents. Can we, maybe, talk

in my truck? See, it's parked right over there. I know it sounds

pretty unorthodox, but..."

 

She laughed softly and held up a hand slightly. "Don't worry about

it. If Templeton sent you, I'm sure you're not a homicidal maniac. Of

course. Let me tell Sister Agnes, and I'll be right with you..."

 

She started to turn to leave, but he reached forward and quickly

seized her arm and dragged her through the opening in the gate,

slamming it behind her as he yanked her against him. "I've got a

German Luger in my pocket, Sister. If you value your hide, I suggest

you don't open your yap and come along real quietly."

 

Fear shone in her eyes but she nodded stiffly, reluctantly allowing

herself to be led toward where a decrepit pickup truck was parked

several yards up the road.

 

"Who...<are> you?" She stammered as he shoved her around toward the

bed of the truck. "You're...you're obviously not a friend of

Templeton's..."

 

Fawkes smirked. "Observant, Sister. Now, you might wanna say a prayer

for me."

 

She blinked. "For you? Wh...why?"

 

"Because the Big Guy up there is NOT going to like what I'm about to

do to you right now." Deftly reaching beneath his serape he extracted

the Luger and slammed her upside the head with the butt, then tossed

her limp form into the bed of the truck.

 

"Too fucking easy," He laughed as he climbed back into the cab and

drove back toward town.

 

 

Part 9

 

Face groaned and rolled onto his side, deliberately keeping his back

to his disappointed companion. "I'm sorry, Candy," He sighed quietly

after a couple of moments. "I <really> thought..."

 

"Save it, Templeton," The woman muttered. He could hear her reaching

for her clothes, could practically feel the breeze from her movements

as she dressed. "I <don't> want to hear any more of your excuses!

I've heard enough of 'em to write a <book>! First, you said you had

to work, so you called to cancel our date, a generous <half an hour>

before you were <supposed> to pick me up...and now...now that you

finally <do> show up on my doorstep, <claiming> you want to spend

time with me...you're about as turned on as a damn <fish>!"

 

He sighed and closed his eyes a moment. "Candy, you...you don't

understand!" When he opened them again and eased himself toa sitting

position, he saw the dark-haired beauty dressing with an almost

violent vengeance, pausing only to shoot him a venomous look of

affronted disbelief.

 

"You're <absolutely> right, Templeton Peck! I <don't> understand!

And I don't <want> to understand! I am <sick> and <tired> of being

<interesting> enough for you ONLY when it suits you!"

 

"Candy, I..."

 

"No! Save it! Just...save it! I don't want to hear it! Now, I'm going

out for a while. So <help> me, Templeton, if your ass is NOT out of

this apartment by the time I get back..."

 

He sighed and watched her storm out of the room, listening as the

front door slammed moments later. He groaned and lifted the sheet

away from his naked body and glared down at himself. "Thanks a

<lot>, 'pal'," He muttered, shaking his head. "Why the <hell> did

you pick NOW to do this? Why couldn't you...why couldn't you have

been a <nice> penis, a <working> penis, huh?! So <what> if my mind's

on Murdock and...that <other> thing!" He paused and

shuddered. "That's why the <hell> I brought you here in the first

place, you prick! To FORGET that!" He groaned and leaned back,

laughing sarcastically. "Even my <dick>'s pissed off at me! This is

<pathetic>! Absolutely <pathetic>!"

 

Within ten minutes, he was dressed and out of the apartment, driving

the Vette back toward the compound. *Maybe if I sneak in and go

straight to bed I won't have to deal with it*, he thought, taking no

comfort in the cool breezes that were gently ruffling his hair as he

drove.

 

After a few minutes, the car phone rang and a feeling of more intense

apprehension washed over him. "Looks like I'm gonna have to deal with

it anyway," He groaned as he reached for the receiver and hesitantly

brought it to his ear. "Yes, Hannibal?"

 

"Sorry to disappoint you, Peck. This isn't Smith."

 

With a start, Face's foot slammed on the brake and he narrowly

avoided colliding with an oncoming car as he violently jerked the

Vette off to the side of the street. He never acknowledged the curses

that were shouted at him as the driver sailed past, never noticed

anything outside the deadly familiar voice that now seemed to live in

his car phone, a voice from his past he'd hoped he'd never <ever>

have to hear again.

 

*Shitfuck!, as Frankie would say. Fawkes!*

 

"You there, Peck? You <remember> me, buddy boy?"

 

Face swallowed, leaning back in his seat and trembling in

disbelief. "Fawkes..." He managed after a moment, his voice sounding

tight and drawn.

 

A low chuckle resonated like thunder over the line.

 

"Still sharp as ever, aren't ya, Peck? I bet you're still using that

brain of yours to come up with some pretty fancy schemes and shit,

huh?"

 

Face closed his eyes a moment as memories tried to play themselves

before his mind's eye projector. *No! Not again! Not...again...*

 

"What the hell do you want?!" He found himself practically snarling

after a moment as his left hand wrapped tighter about the steering

wheel, knuckles whitening from the force.

 

"Actually, Peck...I've got something I think <you> might want. And

want very, <very> much, if I know you like I think I do." There was

an almost deafening pause for a moment, before the voice of Alexander

Fawkes returned. "Would you like to talk to it? Hmm? Yes, of course

you would. Say hello, <dear>, sweet, loving...SISTER..."

 

"T...Tem...?"

 

Face's eyes flew open wide and his jaw dropped open immediately as

his heart seemed to stop beating.

 

"Leslie?!" He cried. *Oh <shit>, that bastard has <Leslie>!*

 

"Tem, I.." She screamed as the phone was yanked away from her.

 

"Leslie! Leslie!!!" Face shot forward, wrapping both hands around the

phone and shouting her name for several seconds, his body trembling

with fear.

 

"She can't hear you, Blondie," Fawkes' laughed after a moment. "It's

nappy time for Sister Teresa. She sends her regards though..."

 

"What the <hell> do you want, Fawkes?! Me?! You've got me! Name your

place and your price and I'll fucking be there! Just <don't> hurt

her!" *Anymore than you already <have> you bastard,* He added as a

fierce afterthought.

 

"Oh, it's not that simple, Peck. Not that simple at all. Y'see...for

one thing, I <have> you. I know I do. You're just not completely

aware of it. But...you will be. And soon."

 

Face swallowed, his temples throbbing as his blood seemed to be

pulsing rapidly. "What...what's the second thing?" He managed to ask

tightly after a moment.

 

Silence for a moment.

 

"Fawkes?! Goddamn you, what is the second thing?!!!"

 

Face could almost envision the slow, chilling smile upturning Fawkes'

mouth as the man replied, "Leslie's dead, Peck. That sound you heard?

I just bashed the sister's brains in. She's deader than a doornail."

 

"You fucking liar!" Face exploded, slamming a hand against the

windshield so hard it produced thin rivulets of blood between his

fingers. But he didn't feel the pain. He didn't feel <anything>

except pure, unadulterated hatred.

 

"You'll <see> how much of a liar I am, Peck, when I ship her body to

your precious D.C. compound in a shipping crate. I'll be in touch,

buddy. We're not through yet. Not by a <long> shot."

 

"Fawkes! FAWKES!"

 

The connection was severed and Face remained in place, left hand

dripping blood, right hand lifelessly dangling the cell phone

receiver, his eyes staring out at nothing.

 

 

* * * * *

 

"Looks like a cold night out there," Frankie began, glancing at B.A.

warily as the older man sat at the dining room table working on

putting together some delicate piece of electronics that could have

been a garage door opener for all Santana a knew.

 

"Yeah." B.A. grumbled, keeping his attention on the task before him.

 

*Shit, what the hell am I doing?* Frankie thought, running a hand

over his face. "B.A...." He started after a moment. "Can

we...uh...can we maybe talk, huh?"

 

"Busy. Talk later."

 

"But..."

 

B.A. shot him a look of irritation and Frankie sighed, holding up his

hands weakly. "Okay, okay! I get the message, Big Guy. I'll,

uh...I'll just go see if I can piss off someone <else> today."

 

He sighed and left the room, making his way toward the front door of

the house. "I'm goin' stir crazy here," He muttered as he walked

outside. "I've gotta get the fuck out of here for a while. I'm sorry,

Johnny. This <ain't> what i had in mind for our vacation."

 

He glanced around and noticed one of Stockwell's goons casually

standing beside the garage area. Well, as casually as those thugs

ever <did> stand.

 

Frankie smiled. "Time for me to fly," He mused as he approached the

man. "Hey there, amigo...say, uh, can I ask you a favor, huh?"

 

The man eyed him dubiously. "I'm not here to be your servant,

Santana."

 

"I know that. I know that. And that...that's not what I'm meanin' to

<ask> you to do...I mean...uh, bein' my servant and all. I was just

wondering if you could check out somethin' for me."

 

The man crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow. "You

got a problem, take it up with the General. I'm just here to keep an

eye on you little pissants. Nothing more."

 

*Pissants, huh? Good to know we're bein' so respected 'round here.*

 

Frankie straightened and drew in a breath. "I...I understand that,

but there's a possible security breach over near the garden. Or, uh,

<isn't> that your area, either? Security, I mean..."

 

The man scowled and reached inside his suit jacket for his service

weapon, peering into the darkness just beyond the lighted pathway

before them. "Where?! I don't see..."

 

As the man leaned forward, Frankie reached down and picked up a

ceramic pot and slammed it against the back of the man's head,

immediately sending the goon crumpling to the ground in

unconsciousness.

 

"Sorry about that, man," Frankie apologized, hastily fumbling in the

man's pockets for keys to the unmarked sedan that lay parked in the

drive a few yards away. "Nothin' personal. I promise...I'll return it

good as new. I'll even bring back plenty of aspirin."

 

Without a second glance, Frankie seized the keys and was on his way

to the car, determined to get the hell away from everything, at least

for a few precious hours.

 

Little did he know that would prove to be one <helluva> mistake.

 

 

Part 10

 

Fawkes sighed and ran a hand over his face as he listened to the

sound of the plane's engine: steady, continuous, predictable, strong.

Everything he wished he could find within himself.

 

Looking out into the darkness, his hands clasped firmly on the

controls, he couldn't shake the torrent of thoughts that were

plaguing him, had <been> plaguing him.

 

Less than six weeks ago he'd been living large, literally, with his

own business, his own homes, cars, wife...

 

At the thought of his wife, he drew in a breath and steeled himself,

barely acknowledging the muffled cries from the bundled figure behind

him.

 

"Another casualty of war," He smirked, glancing briefly at his watch.

He'd be back in the States in another fifteen minutes. Not bad

timing. Not bad at all. Flying too low for radar detection made the

trip much more expedient.

 

A low, almost gutteral, sigh escaped him as visions of his last

encounter with his once time 'friends' flashed before his mind's eye

projector. They'd killed his wife, they'd killed his business, they'd

killed his career...

 

They might as well have fucking killed <him>.

 

A cold shudder rippled down his spine and he shifted position

slightly. "They're gonna pay for what they did to ya, darlin'," He

muttered. "I swear it. If it's the last thing I do. I'll make each

and every one of those bastards pay for it."

 

*Pay and pay dearly.*

 

He smiled at the thought.

 

 

* * * * *

 

Murdock looked up as the sound of the front door being slammed open

succeeded in startling him out of his self-imposed reverie. He

jerked to his feet and watched as Face stormed into the front hall,

stopping when he saw Murdock.

 

"Murdock, where's Hannibal?"

 

"Uh...out. Talkin' to Stockwell."

 

"Talking to Stock...<shit>!" Face slammed a fist against his thigh,

his eyes shining with frustration and, Murdock noted with surprise,

an almost tangible aspect of...hatred.

 

*Shit,* Murdock thought. *Something's happened...Fawkes?!*

 

"Face, what is it? What's goin' on?" Murdock swallowed, feeling his

stomach turning as his eyes narrowed in concern.

 

Reluctantly, Face looked up and met Murdock's gaze. "Leslie," He

forced after a minute. "Fawkes has...he said he....he..." His words

trailed off.

 

Murdock reeled, his jaw flapping open in visible

astonishment. "Wh...what?!" He managed after a moment, shaking his

head slightly.

 

"Fawkes! Fawkes, he...he called me on my car phone. Don't ask me how

the hell he got the number. He told me...he put Leslie on and..."

Face's voice trailed off and he looked away a moment. "Dammit,

Hannibal! Why did you have to pick NOW to go calling on Stockwell?!"

 

"Uh, Face...he, uh...he's not exactly 'callin' on Stockwell..."

 

Face jerked his head around and frowned, quizzically eyeing

Murdock. "What the hell are you talking about?"

 

"He, uh...he's letting Stockwell have it, I think. Fawkes..." He

swallowed. "Fawkes called me too, Face."

 

"What?!" Face's eyes widened. "Well, wh...what did he...what did he

say? Did he...did he <do> anything?"

 

For a moment, a heavy silence fell between them.

 

"He, uh...he left a message on my machine," Murdock managed, his

voice cracking with emotion as he drew in a breath and straightened

his back. "He, uh...he told me he had Kelly. You, uh...remember

Kelly. He, uh...he put her on the phone and then he...and then he..."

 

Face exhaled carefully and stepped forward, silently putting a hand

on Murdock's arm and sharing in the man's grief for several precious

moments.

 

"Hey!"

 

They pulled apart quickly, turning around as B.A. appeared, seemingly

from out of nowhere, scowling darkly and eyeing the two oddly for a

moment, a moment that mercifully passed fleetingly, Murdock noted to

himself with an inner sigh of relief.

 

"What's goin' on in here? Heard a door slammin'."

 

For a moment, Face and Murdock looked at each other, neither one

exactly sure what to say to B.A.

 

*Do we tell him about Fawkes NOW?* Murdock questioned silently.

 

*So he can protect his loved ones?* Face added with a slight tilt of

his head and a shimmer in his eyes.

 

Murdock nodded slightly and turned toward B.A., who was looking at

them strangely. "B.A., we got a problem. A <big> problem."

 

 

TBC

 


A Is For... by Cat
A Is For Assassination by Cat
A Is For Assassination 11-19 Conclusion by Cat

 

 


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