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Lost The Plot?
Rating: - PG (for now)
Disclaimer: - I do not own the team, unfortunately and I write about them purely for pleasure, no profit.
Summary: - This is a mix of silliness, some action, and some romance. If you only knew the hours I spent ploughing through my CD collection for Murdock's dialogue. Lucky for me, I work in a music shop too.
"Hannibal, I don't like this plan."
Face was in full whine mode as BA drove the van slowly down the country lane. Even BA, who was normally quite agreeable with Hannibal's plans, had had to complain about the latest offering.
"Faceman's right, Hannibal. This plan really sucks."
"Is there any part in particular you don't like or just the plan in general?" Hannibal placed a cigar in his mouth and Face leant forward to light it. He took a couple of puffs and regarded his lieutenant. Now that he actually had a chance to air his views, the younger man actually looked uncomfortable. He shifted nervously in his chair and then cleared his throat.
"Well, it's the fact we have no backup. We couldn't get Murdock out of the VA so if anything goes wrongÖ?"
"What can possibly go wrong? I have this planned to the very second so there is no margin for error."
"That's usually the first thing wrong," muttered Face, sitting back. "You're relying on these goons doing everything you think they're going to do. What if they don't?"
"They will, because we've dealt with scum like these before. Remember the biker gang in Bad Rock?"
"How could I forget?"
"It's the same thing."
BA shook his head and turned the van round the corner. The first thing they noticed was how quiet the whole place was. For a town overrun by drug taking hooligans, things seemed strangely peaceful. BA pulled the van to a stop and Face looked at Hannibal.
"Not quite going to plan is it, Hannibal?"
Hannibal surveyed the surrounding area. To the untrained eye, there was no one in sight but Hannibal's military training helped him to spot three snipers on top of key buildings.
"BA, back the van up slowly and back round the corner. If we get out of this van, we're dead."
Face groaned and BA reversed the van back round the corner and out of sight.
"What's up, Hannibal?" asked BA. "Whatcha see?"
"Three snipers, perfectly placed to get us the moment we stepped foot out of the van."
"So, any more bright ideas?"
Face looked at Hannibal, expectantly and he glared back at him.
"We'll stick with the same plan. They can't get us round the corner, we're out of sight."
"But how do we check in with Molly? She'll be wondering where we are."
Hannibal grinned. He beckoned to Face and BA to follow him and they slipped out of the van. Hannibal crept round the back and they pulled three guns out of the back of the van. Motioning Face forward, Hannibal crept behind the pharmacy. Lying on the roof was one of the thugs, facing towards the street in front. Hannibal motioned Face over, BA following quickly behind. Face picked the lock on the back door and they let themselves inside. They closed the door quietly behind them and then they all let out a sigh of relief. They turned round and found themselves staring down the barrel of a shotgun. Hannibal grinned at the pretty girl at the other end.
"John Smith, don't ever do that to me again, you sod. I thought you were more of those wretched yobs."
Molly Benson lowered the shotgun and gave Hannibal a hug and a kiss. She looked at the other two.
"You must be Face," she said, holding her hand out to Face. He smiled at her and kissed her hand. She laughed and then turned to BA.
"And you must be BA, I've heard all about you, both of you."
BA shook her hand and then she beckoned them all through the store and up the stairs. She opened the door and ushered them through into her living quarters.
"Make yourselves comfortable if you can find room."
Molly gestured at the chairs, which were littered with dolls and teddy bears, colouring books and crayons.
"I thought I told her to tidy up. Just wait until I get my hands on that little madam."
Hannibal's face softened.
"Where is Jessie?"
A banshee-like shriek came from the direction of the bedrooms and Molly laughed.
"There's your answer."
Hannibal laughed. A flurry of pink came racing into the living room as Jessica Benson, Molly's five-year-old daughter flew past them and hid round the back of BA's legs. A shout came from the room.
"Mother, she's done it again."
A tall teenage girl came out of the room that Jessica had just exited. She was dressed in a leather mini skirt, a T-shirt that was ripped in several places and long leather boots. They were all coloured black and her nails had been painted to match. Her hair, which was carefully styled to look like a flyaway mess, was also coloured jet black but there were bright pink streaks running through it. It was this that caused Molly to have a fit.
"What the hell have you done to your hair, young lady?"
"It'll wash out, it's not permanent."
"I should hope not, there's no way you're going to school like that."
"I thought I told you, I'm not going back to school tomorrow."
"I'm not having this argument again now. We have company."
The older girl looked round at the team. She spotted Jessica hiding behind BA, then she saw Hannibal.
She raced across and threw her arms around him. He chuckled and hugged her back.
"When did you get back here?"
"Just now, when your mother pointed a gun at me."
Suzie laughed and then tried to grab at Jessica, who twisted out of her reach.
"Mother, will you tell her to give me my lipstick back."
"Jessica, give the lipstick back to Suzie, please."
Jessica shook her head.
"S'mine," she pouted.
Hannibal beckoned the little girl over. She came forward, the stern look on Hannibal's face not escaping her. He squatted down so he was level with her. He held out his hand. Jessica shook her head again.
"Suzie said I could have it."
Hannibal looked at Suzie who shook her head. She started to speak but Hannibal held his hand up to silence her. He looked back at Jessica.
"Suzie needs it."
"Do you know what it is?"
Jessica shook her head.
"When you know what it does, you can play with it," said Hannibal and he held his hand out again. Jessica placed the lipstick on it and he threw it over to Suzie who went back into the room. Hannibal looked at Jessica again. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, pink cuddly dog. He handed it to Jessica.
"This is for you."
She took it and then threw her arms round Hannibal and he picked her up.
"That's my girl."
She planted a sloppy kiss on his cheek and hugged him. Face and BA watched the scene in front of them in amazement. Hannibal seemed to know the whole family. Molly noticed them and she walked over to them. She cleared a space on the couch and motioned them over.
"Sit down and make yourselves comfortable. Would you like a drink?"
"Thanks. Coffee would be nice," said Face, still watching Hannibal.
"Could I have a glass of milk please, Mrs Benson?"
"Call me Molly."
She disappeared into the kitchen. Hannibal, still carrying Jessica, sat down next to Face. He settled Jessica on his knee and she snuggled up against him. She looked at Face and BA shyly.
"Jessie, these are friends of mine. This is Face and BA."
Jessica scrambled over Hannibal and Face until she was sat on BA's knee. Hannibal laughed.
"You not talking to me anymore?"
Jessica scrambled back over to Hannibal, pausing on Face's knee to give him a hug too. She settled back down on Hannibal's knee and curled up. Within two minutes, she was asleep. Face was just about to ask Hannibal how he knew the whole family when Molly came back in with the coffee and milk.
"Molly, this gang that's moved in here," said Hannibal. "We need to know what's been going on, you were a bit vague in your phone call."
"I know," said Molly. "I didn't want to scare the girls. I had to say enough to get you down here but no details."
"They moved here about a month ago. They were tolerable at first, nothing too serious. Just a bit of excessive noise, graffiti, litter, that sort of thing but about two weeks ago, they turned to theft and vandalism. I've been robbed three times in the past week. No money, it's the drugs they're after."
"Are you okay?" asked BA. "They didn't hurt ya, did they?"
"No, I just let them take what they wanted. With two girls to look after, I couldn't take the risk of fighting back."
"Did you know that there's one on your roof right now?"
"Yeah, he's one of their early warning lookouts. They don't hurt any of the townsfolk unless we stand up to them. The sheriff is still in hospital after asking them to keep the noise down."
"Sounds like they need to be taught a lesson," said Face and he stood up. BA followed him. Hannibal passed a still sleeping Jessica to Molly and followed the other two towards the door.
"Where are you going?" she asked him.
"To work," said Hannibal. "I'm opening the shop up."
"But they'll come and rob me again."
"I hope so," said Hannibal, grinning.
"Not the jazz again?"
Hannibal nodded and left the room. Going down the stairs, he found Face and BA by the backdoor with the three shotguns. Face passed one over to Hannibal and he motioned them through to the shop. He told Face to cover the counter as though he was the pharmacist and then he and BA hid themselves behind the two side counters. Face opened the shop up and waited. After an hour passed, the door opened and two large tattooed heavies walked in. They looked at Face suspiciously.
"Where's the pretty girl?"
"She's not in today," said Face. "What can I do for you, gentlemen?"
"We'll just help ourselves," said the first heavy, picking up some packets from the shelves. The second man walked behind the counter, pushing Face to one side. BA appeared from behind the counter with a shotgun aimed towards the second man. The first man spun round, only to find Hannibal stood there pointing a shotgun at him.
"What's going on?"
"We're the local pest control," said Face, picking up his shotgun and aiming at the two.
"Now, I want you to go out there and call your snipers down," said Hannibal. He pushed the first man outside keeping his gun trained on him. The man went outside and gave the all clear signal. Three snipers appeared into view after several minutes but Hannibal noticed the sniper from the pharmacy roof didn't come down.
"I meant all of your snipers, not just a few."
"That's all there is, man," said the heavy.
"All of them," said Hannibal, pushing the barrel of the shotgun in his back. The heavy grunted then gave another signal out. All the gang appeared in the street.
"Now I want you all to drop your weapons in the middle of the street," shouted Hannibal. They all complied and then Hannibal pushed the leader into the street to join them.
"Now get into your van and get the hell out of here and if one of you steps as much as a toe into this town again, I'll personally shoot it off. Now get."
The gang raced over to their vans and roared off out of the town. Hannibal grinned at Face and BA.
"That has to be the easiest victory we've ever had," said BA.
"Which worries me, Hannibal. They could come back."
"Then we'll get rid of them again," said Hannibal. "Relax, Face. As of now, we are officially on vacation. And I can't think of a better place than here to spend it."
Hannibal went back into the pharmacy, noticing as he went that some of the townsfolk had started to drift back into the street. A shout made him stop.
"Hannibal Smith, you old renegade."
He turned to see the motel owner, Mike Harris, walking across the road to greet them.
"Hiya Mike, how's things?"
"Better now those thugs have left town. I should have known the famous A-Team would help us."
He gave Hannibal a friendly slap on the back and Hannibal laughed.
"She's fine, been a bit down lately what with this business but she'll soon perk up when she sees you. You stayin' round for a bit?"
"Thought we might. Military heat doesn't seem to get round here much, does it?"
"Especially not with Harry laid up in hospital and he wouldn't say anything either, not after the last time you were here."
"Nothing like helping out the local sheriff to get the military off our backs."
"You need a place to stay, you're all welcome at the motel, no charge of course."
"Cheers Mike. We could do with a place to kip."
"Pop across later then and we'll fix you up."
"See ya later, Mike."
He started walking back to the pharmacy with BA and Face trailing behind him. Face looked at BA.
"You or me?"
BA shook his head.
"Not me, man. Not sure I wanna know really."
"Well, I do." Face ran a couple of steps and caught up with Hannibal, who looked at him.
"Long story, kid. Ask me later when I've had a kip."
Face shook his head.
"Nope. Hannibal, I think we deserve an explanation. You call us up in the middle of the night, tell us we have to go to this little town called Cliff Face Creek, no details, just a half cock plan to get rid of some thugs, we turn up and you seem to know the whole town and they know you too."
They walked up the stairs and Hannibal turned to Face.
"Okay, I'll tell you. Come inside and I'll explain everything."
They opened the door into the pharmacy top flat and Jessica ran up to Hannibal.
"Daddy, you came back."
She threw herself into his arms and burst into tears. Hannibal cuddled her and Face just stared at him, his mouth open wide. Molly came out the room and sighed with relief as she saw it was the team back in one piece.
"Thank goodness you're all right. What happened?"
"The A-Team pulled off another daring plan, as thought up by yours truly," said Hannibal, laughing. Molly shook her head in despair, but Hannibal could see she was smiling.
"What's wrong with Jessie?"
"She thought you'd left without saying goodbye."
"I'd never do that."
"She's five, Hannibal. She doesn't know that. She doesn't understand why she has to live with me and not you. She's just a kid."
Molly's smile faded and she sighed. Hannibal glanced at BA and he nodded. He looked at Jessica and smiled at her. Jessica smiled shyly back at him and he held his arms out to her.
"Wanna come and play with me and Faceman?"
Jessica looked at Hannibal for confirmation.
"You can go, honey. I'll still be here when you come back."
Jessica slid down to the floor but instead of going to BA, she went over to Face and took hold of his hand. Face was startled at first but then swung the little girl up and sat her on his shoulders. He walked out into the garden followed by BA and Hannibal sat down next to Molly.
"What's the matter? Is there a problem with Jessie?"
"She misses her daddy."
"I miss her too but I can't be here all the time. I explained that when she was born. I thought you were happy with the arrangement."
"I was, I mean, I am. It's just that I'm getting too attached to her. What happens when you get your pardons, are free to have Jessie with you permanently, what happens to good ol' Aunt Molly then?"
"If and when that happens, I move here on a permanent basis. I'd love to live here all the time. Yes, Jessie would be with me but there's no way I'd forget about you. Jessie would miss you too much and Suzie. So would I, you've both been fantastic these last 5 years."
"She looks like you," said Molly, getting up and going to the window. She could see Jessica on the swing, Face and BA taking it in turns to push her. "She's loving all this attention."
"Just wait until Murdock gets here," said Hannibal, chuckling at the sight of Face's new Armani suit covered in grass stains and mud. "He's a bigger kid than she is."
"I wondered where Murdock was."
"You remember Murdock?"
"Of course I do. He was a light relief to everything that went on, especially after CathyÖ"
Hannibal looked at her and fell silent. His face grew thoughtful. Molly looked at him carefully.
"You miss her, donít you?"
"Every day," replied Hannibal, sadly. "You said you thought Jessie looked like me. Every time I look at her, I see her mother."
Molly put her arms round him and hugged him. He hugged her back.
"Thanks, Molly. I needed that." He shook himself out of the doldrums and looked back out into the garden. He laughed as he saw Jessica launch herself at Face and knock him over into the muddy wetness of the garden. Face didnít look the least bit bothered by the mess his suit had become. Jessica squealed in delight as Face began tickling her and she continued giggling until BA swept her up into his powerful arms and spun her round until she was dizzy. Hannibal was pleased she liked Face and BA. He smiled when he thought of how she would take to Murdock. He glanced over at where Molly was tidying the cups away.
"Can I use your phone, Molly?" he asked.
"Sure thing, Hannibal. Who are you calling?"
"Amy. Iím going to get her to free Murdock and the two of them can join us here. Iíve officially placed the A-Team on vacation and weíre spending it right here."
Molly smiled her approval.
"You work too hard, Hannibal Smith."
"Tell that to Colonel Decker and Iíll relax a bit more."
"Give him my phone number and Iíll do just that."
"Donít tempt me. You would too, wouldnít you?"
Molly took the pots out to the kitchen, laughing as she went. Hannibal picked up the phone and dialled the number of the LA Courier.
"Amy Allen, please," he said, when the phone was answered. He waited a moment then he heard Amyís soft voice answer the phone.
"Hey, kiddo, itís Hannibal."
"Hi, Hannibal, where are you guys? I havenít heard from you in a while. Whatís up?"
"Nothing, just wondered if you fancied a holiday?"
"Okay, what harebrained plan do you need me for now?"
"Nothing, just simply a holiday. The A-Team is officially on vacation and I though you might like to join us. Nothing glamorous, just a couple of weeks in the country with no Decker breathing down our necks."
"Iím waiting for the punchline."
"Amy, Iím serious. If youíre not interested thenÖ"
"Hannibal, wait. Okay, Iím due some leave anyway so give me the address and Iíll come and join you."
"There is one thing," said Hannibal as he relayed the address to Amy.
"I knew it," said Amy, laughing. "What do I have to do?"
"Spring Murdock. Face couldnít get him out before we came here."
"What makes you think I can?"
"I know you can, Amy. If anyone can, itís you. Use your feminine charms."
Amy grunted at him and hung up. Hannibal chuckled as he replaced the receiver. Amy would think of something, sheís been round Face for too long not to.
"Lieutenant Allen, Iím here to check patient HM Murdock out."
The orderly looked up from her desk and stared at the uniformed girl stood in front of her.
"For what reason, Lieutenant?"
"His medical check," said Amy. "I assume you have been informed about this."
"Nothing was mentioned to me when I came on my shift."
"Then I suggest you find out, Nurse." Amy looked impatient. "I really donít have time to waste standing around this hospital. I have papers authorising Mr. Murdockís release. There was a phone call placed earlier to arrange it all. Please sort this out then I can be on my way."
The nurse picked up the telephone and put a call through to the medical quarters. She spoke a few words then hung up.
"Well, Lieutenant, it appears you are correct. Iíll arrange for Mr Murdock to be released into your care."
Amy tapped her hand impatiently on the dashboard of her car and glanced over at the VA again. It had been ten minutes since the nurse had agreed to release Murdock into her care. Something was wrong. She looked over at the hospital again then noticed Murdock being dragged out by two male orderlies. She leapt out of the car and raced over to them. Murdock looked up at her and opened his mouth to speak to her but Amy shook her head slightly. He snapped his mouth shut again and Amy addressed the orderlies.
"Thank you gentlemen but I can deal with the patient now."
"As you wish, Lieutenant."
The orderlies handed Murdock over to Amy and she led him over to the car.
"Just donít speak until we get to the car, Murdock."
Murdock nodded. They both got in the car and Amy drove away. She unbuttoned her jacket and sighed. Murdock looked over at her.
"In the army now?"
"Face couldnít get here for you so they sent me. Apparently, Hannibal has declared us all on vacation for a while so he asked me to collect you and bring you down."
"Yeah, weíre staying with an old friend of Hannibalís in a place called Cliff Face Creek."
Murdock nodded. Amy glanced at him.
"Are you okay, Murdock?"
Amy shrugged and turned her attention back to the road. They drove in silence for a while then Murdock spoke.
"Yeah Murdock, what is it?"
"Youíre all I need to get by."
"Thanks Murdock, glad to know Iím appreciated," laughed Amy. Suddenly, she paused and glanced over at Murdock. "Say something to me."
Murdock looked at her quizzically.
"Just say something to me, anything."
"Not that, say anything to me."
"Anything for you."
"I knew it, everything you say is a song title. Oh brother, BA is gonna love this one."
"Que sera sera," grinned Murdock and Amy groaned.
"Just stay out of his way, Murdock, just while this lasts, please. Just do it for me."
Amy shook her head in despair and turned into the little town of Cliff Face Creek. There was nobody about.
"Ghost town," said Murdock and Amy glared at him. Murdock held his hands up as if to say "What?" but then grinned.
"Everyoneís gone to the moon."
Amy punched him in the shoulder and jumped out of the car before another song title could escape. Hannibal opened the door of the pharmacy and called across to them.
"Murdock, Amy, weíre over here."
Amy slammed the car door and walked over to Hannibal.
"Hiya, Hannibal," she said. "This sure is a quiet town."
"Itíll get livelier," said Hannibal. "Once word gets around that the thugs are history. Hey Murdock, you coming in?"
Murdock wandered over to Hannibal and followed them inside the pharmacy. Molly and Suzie were sitting on the couch, reading and BA was sat on the floor, helping Jessica to build a tower of blocks. As Amy and Murdock came into the room, Face came out of the bedroom. He had changed out of the muddy suit and replaced it with some jeans and a black T-shirt. He smiled when he saw Amy and put his arms round her waist to draw her into a tight embrace.
"Hey honey, Iíve missed you."
"Me too, soldier boy."
Face kissed her and then let her go. Murdock looked at the two of them in surprise.
"Is there something I should know?"
"Sorry Murdock, I forgot you didnít know. Me and Amy have been kinda seeing each other for about a month now."
"Third finger, left hand?" asked Murdock.
"Oh Murdock, will you give it a rest," said Amy. Face and the others looked at her in surprise.
"Whatís wrong, Amy," asked Hannibal.
"Murdockís latest craze," she said, taking off her jacket. "He canít say anything without it being a song title."
"Seems quite harmless," said Face.
"Just you wait," said Amy. "It starts to get on your nerves after a while."
"Itís my life," grumbled Murdock and sat down on the couch. Suzie giggled. Jessica stood up and went over to Hannibal.
"Daddy, Iím tired."
Hannibal picked her up and cuddled her.
"Iíll put her down for the night, then me and the guys will go and check into the motel."
"Iíd offer to put you up here but there really isnít room."
"Itís okay Molly," said BA. "Weíll be quite happy at the motel."
Molly smiled at him.
"Thanks, BA. Iím glad you understand. I feel really awful about not being able to put you up here."
"Then donít," said Face. "The motel is fine, really."
"Mikeís offered us rooms, free of charge," said Hannibal. "Weíll be fine. Just donít expect to get out of breakfast duties in the morning."
"Wouldnít dream of it," said Molly, laughing. "There isnít another girl in the world who can cook eggs like me."
"And donít you know it," laughed Hannibal. "Come on you guys, lets get checked in."
A while later, they were all checked into the motel. Hannibal and Murdock were sharing one room, after BA made it quite clear he refused to share a room with Murdock. BA had a room of his own and Face and Amy were in a third. After a hearty dinner at Mollyís and a good-natured game of Scrabble (Face won by cheating), they all trooped back to the motel, tired but relaxed. Hannibal settled down to read his book, Murdock was already asleep on the other bed. Hannibal was glad. He didnít feel like answering any more questions about Jessica. It wasn't as though he had kept her a secret on purpose but he knew the guys wouldn't see it like that. The lifestyle they led wasn't the best in which to bring up a child. Lately, though, he had started to postpone his visits up here. It wasn't as though he didn't want to see Jessica, he wanted that more than anything. It was the leaving he didn't like. It broke his heart every time Jessica pleaded with him to stay. He'd seen front line fighting in 'Nam, he'd faced death, capture. He'd seen suffering and terror but nothing compared to his little girl's face when he told her he was going away again. The last time he had left, she had cried for days, according to Molly. The older she got, the worse it was. As a baby, it didn't affect her as much. Now she was old enough to recognise him and acknowledge he was around, it made leaving harder. Not for the first time, he started to wish for a normal lifestyle, not just for him but for all of the team. Murdock would be safe at the VA, although Hannibal had long suspected that Murdock wasn't as mental as he made out. BA would be able to go to the day care centre more often, help so many more children. Face and Amy would be able to have a proper relationship, not just a few snatched moments of happiness when Decker left them alone for a while. And he himself would be able to see Jessica on a regular basis, and not have to face her tears when he left. She would be happy knowing that he would be back later that night. It made him wonder why exactly the guys still followed him into one crazy plan after another. He had noticed lately though, Face in particular, had started questioning his plans. Even BA had argued about this latest effort. Perhaps he was getting too old for this kind of lifestyle. Hannibal gave himself a mental shake and grinned. What other lifestyle was there?
Light streamed through the curtains as morning broke over the town. Hannibal woke and glanced over at the other bed. Murdock was still asleep. Hannibal went into the bathroom. The door slamming woke Murdock and he sat up, yawning and stretched his arms. He slipped into his clothes and went outside. He found BA outside with the van. He noticed the van had a flat tyre and BA had got the spare out of the back.
"Hey fool, make yourself useful. Put this new tyre on after I've jacked the van up."
"I'd rather jack," said Murdock.
"Suit yourself," said BA. "Get moving then, sucka, we haven't got all day."
Murdock saluted and jacked the van up. BA changed the tyre and Murdock lowered the van again. They walked inside the pharmacy and up the stairs. They knocked on the door and Suzie opened it.
"Hi BA," she said and BA grinned at her.
"Hiya Suzie," said BA, walking into the flat. Murdock followed and grinned at Suzie.
"I hope you aren't hungry. We're running a bit late this morning. Mom couldn't get Jessie to get dressed without letting go of that dog Hannibal bought for her," she said.
"We have all the time in the world," said Murdock.
"I was hoping you were still speaking in song titles," said Suzie. "Promise me you won't stop before I get home from school later."
"Hang on in there baby," replied Murdock.
"Suzanna Benson, have you not left yet."
Molly's voice floated through from the kitchen. Suzie sighed.
"Just leaving, mom." She winked at Murdock and went out of the door. "See you tonight, Murdock."
"Hi BA, Murdock," said Molly, coming into the living room.
"Hello, goodbye," said Murdock, trying to talk to two people at once.
"Where's Hannibal, Face and Amy?" asked Molly
"They'll be over in a moment," said BA. "Anything we can do to help?"
"Yeah, see if you can get Jessie to let go of that damn toy long enough for me to get her dressed."
"You go and sort out Jessie and Iíll take care of breakfast," said BA. "Murdock can help me."
BA went into the kitchen as Molly went into the bedroom to sort Jessica out. The door opened again and Hannibal came in.
"Morning Murdock. Whereís BA?"
Murdock pointed to the kitchen.
"Fantastic day," he said. Hannibal looked at him.
"You still on the song thing, Murdock?"
"Isnít it a wonder?"
"It certainly is, Captain," said Hannibal, shaking his head. He wandered into the kitchen where BA was cooking some eggs in a pan.
"Iím surprised at you, BA."
"You know I can cook, Hannibal."
"Not that," said Hannibal. "Iím talking about Murdock. You donít seem too bothered about his latest craze."
"Not really noticed it. If I do, then the foolíll know about it."
"Right. Whatís for breakfast then?"
"Eggs, cereal or toast."
"Iíll have eggs but you can guarantee Murdock will have toast. He only ever has toast in the morning."
Hannibal stuck his head round the lounge door and shouted to Murdock who was watching the early morning cartoons.
"Toast for you, Murdock?"
He was met with a thumbs up while Murdock remained glued to the television. Hannibal chuckled and went back into the kitchen. Jessica ran out of the bedroom and straight over to Hannibal.
"Hiya Daddy," she shouted and stuck her arms in the air, waiting to be picked up. Hannibal swung her up and gave her a cuddle and then deposited her in her chair at the table.
"Now, princess, what do you want for breakfast?"
"Honey Munchies," cried Jessica and Hannibal grinned.
"One bowl of Honey Munchies coming up."
Hannibal poured Jessicaís cereal and gave it to her. He shouted Murdock through to the kitchen for breakfast and Murdock walked backwards into the kitchen, not taking his eyes off the television screen until it disappeared from view. He sat down at the table and tweaked Jessicaís nose in greeting. Molly came into the kitchen and gratefully accepted a mug of coffee from BA. She sat down next to Murdock.
"Do you want some honey for your toast, Murdock?" she asked him, noticing it was plain.
"Lady marmalade," he replied and Hannibal groaned.
"That was a bad one, Murdock."
Murdock just shrugged and carried on eating. Face and Amy entered the kitchen.
"So this is where you all are hiding," said Amy, sitting down next to Hannibal. "We did knock but there was no answer."
"Sorry," said Hannibal, handing her a plate of toast. "We were too busy eating breakfast a la BA."
"You cooked?" said Face, in amazement.
"Donít sound so surprised, man," said BA, waving a spatula at him. "You can just have coffee if you like."
Face held his hands up in surrender.
"Only kidding, BA. Iíll have some eggs, if you donít mind."
"I should be doing that," said Molly, trying to take the pan away from BA. He slapped her hands away playfully.
"No you donít, mama," he said. "Iíll do breakfast, you do dinners."
"Deal," said Molly. "In that case, Iíll have eggs too, please."
"Coming up," said BA.
"Youíre quiet this morning, Murdock," said Face. "Canít think up any more songs for us today?"
"Iím doiní fine now," said Murdock and Face grinned.
"Not bad Murdock. Keep going."
"Donít encourage him, itís already driving me mad."
Face put his arm round her.
"You sound like BA. Murdockís harmless."
"You wonít be saying that after a whole day of it, believe me."
"Canít help it," said Murdock.
Amy gave him a helpless smile and ate her toast. Face and Hannibal shared a grin and breakfast passed relatively peacefully.
"So what exactly is the plan for the next three weeks," asked Face, while the team were sat in the lounge. Hannibal looked up from the floor where he was helping Jessica to colour in a picture.
"No plan, Face. Just enjoy yourself."
Murdock looked up from his comic.
Amy threw a cushion at him. Murdock grinned at her.
"Look at that," said Amy, pointing to Murdock. "Heís doing it on purpose now, just to annoy me."
"Then ignore him and heíll stop," said Hannibal.
"What a fool believes," replied Murdock. Hannibal grinned at him.
"I thought you were crazy, Murdock? Seems to me youíre not as crazy as youíd like us to believe."
"How do you figure that out, Hannibal?" asked Face.
"It takes a sound mind to think up a song title for every sentence."
"If heís doing it on purpose," replied Face. "Are you crazy, Murdock?"
"If you donít know me by now."
"Iím going out," said Amy. "I canít stand it anymore. You coming?" she asked Face.
"Iím gonna stay here a bit longer, this is fun."
"You have a weird sense of fun, lad," said Amy and kissed his cheek. She went downstairs and out through the pharmacy. Molly glanced up as she headed for the door.
"Murdock finally got to you, huh?"
"Heís driving me mad. I swear heís doing it on purpose."
"Last time he was here, it changed daily. One day he was talking to his invisible dog."
"Billy?" asked Amy, laughing."
"Youíve met him too? Then the next day, he was rhyming his words and then he was ending every sentence with the word cabbages."
"Iíve had the rhyming of words but never the cabbages thing."
"Believe me, this is sane compared with that one."
"I bet Jessie loves that."
"Jessie has never met Murdock. She wasnít born last time he was here."
"Oh. I just assumed."
"I bet you also think Jessieís my daughter."
"No, come and have a seat. Iíll put the kettle on and Iíll tell you the story."
Amy sat down on one of the chairs behind the counter and Molly flicked the kettle on. She came and sat down opposite Amy.
"I first met Hannibal and Murdock about seven years ago. They were passing through the town on the way home from some case or other and the car they were in broke down. They needed a place to stay and so they stayed at the motel youíre all staying in now."
"I wondered why everyone seemed to know Hannibal."
"He helped the town out when we were all at a low point. The town is widely known for itís local produce. We are the only town for miles around and all the townsfolk get their fresh food from all the farms around. In return, we supply the farmers with all their other needs. Medicines, newspapers, household goods, that sort of thing."
"It did until some hotshot business man decided he wanted to open a twenty four hour supermarket, just down the road."
"That would probably damage the profits."
"Not just for us, but the local farmers too. The supermarket would deal mainly with large suppliers and didnít want to trade with the farms so Hannibal and Murdock helped us run this guy out of town. I donít know how they did it, just the two of them, but heís never returned and weíve had no further trouble until these thugs showed up last month."
"So you called Hannibal?"
"I knew heíd help us but Iíve been in regular contact with Hannibal since then."
"Since Jessie was born?"
"Yeah. Jessie is my niece. Hannibal was and still is in love with my sister?"
"I didnít know you had a sister?"
"Sheís dead. She died five years ago, shortly after Jessie was born."
Molly smiled and got up to make the coffee. She handed one cup to Amy and sat down again.
"Cathy, my sister, was the local nurse in town. She was bright and sweet but very shy. Hannibal was smitten with her the moment he met her."
"I canít imagine Hannibal letting anyone get close to him."
"I saw a side of Hannibal Smith Iíve never seen since Cathy died. He couldnít speak to Cathy for about two weeks, he was that shy."
"Hannibal, shy? I donít believe it."
"Itís as true as Iím sitting here," laughed Molly. "I had to act as go-between for them until I decided it was getting far too silly for words. I set them up and the rest is history. They spoke, fell in love and Jessie was the end result."
"What happened to Cathy? If you donít mind me asking."
"She was in a car accident when Jessie was 3 months old. She lost control of the car and it went over the cliffs just outside of town. Hannibal was out of the country at the time and never got back until after the funeral. Heís never been able to talk about it since."
"Oh, poor Hannibal. He must have really loved her."
"He did, he still does. He asked me if I would take care of Jessie on a permanent basis. He would love to look after her full time himself but being on the run, itís impossible so she moved in here with me and Suzie."
"Suzie is your daughter?"
"Oh yeah, sheís all mine, for my sins."
"Donít get me wrong, I love her to bits but eighteen year old girls are not the easiest of people to deal with. The arguments we had last night about that colour in her hair, I could not get her to wash it out."
"If itís any consolation, they do get better, I had green in mine at that age."
"I know I look like a goody two shoes but I hit a rebellious stage too so I know sheíll turn out ok."
"I wonder if Murdockís stopped with his songs yet? Suzie loves it."
"Just the songs or Murdock in general?"
"Both, I think. Should I be worried?"
"Nah, Murdockís lovely. Heíll look after her. I wouldnít worry."
"Thanks Amy. Listen, donít tell Hannibal I told you the story. I think heíll tell you all himself at some time, especially now you all know about Jessie but Iíd like him to think I kept his secret."
"I wonít say a word, Molly."
Molly squeezed her arm and then looked up as a customer entered the shop. Amy drained her coffee and went out into the sunshine to go for her walk.
Upstairs, Murdock was beginning to get on Hannibalís nerves.
"Murdock, I swear youíre doing this on purpose. It was funny to start with but now, itís just plain irritating. If you donít quit soon, Iíll knock you out."
"Keep the faith."
Hannibal fists clenched by his sides and Jessica looked up at him.
"Are you shouting at Uncle Murdock?"
"No, honey. Heís just annoying me."
"What did he do?"
"Youíre too little to understand."
"I like Uncle Murdock, heís funny," said Jessica and scrambled up on Murdockís lap.
"My favourite girl," said Murdock.
"Thatís not a song," said Hannibal. "Caught you out at last."
"New Kids On The Block," said Face, without looking up from the paper.
"Am I your bestest girl, Uncle Murdock?" said Jessica.
"Simply the best," he replied.
"What about Suzie?"
"Youíre the one that I want," said Murdock, kissing her nose. Jessica giggled. Hannibal sighed.
"Jessie, time for your nap, baby."
Jessica looked at Murdock.
"Donít wanna go. Do I have to?"
"Go now," said Murdock gently and nudged her towards Hannibal. She scrambled off his knee and after kissing Face and BA goodbye, she ran over to Hannibal who scooped her up into his arms and carried her into the bedroom.
"The man with the child in his eyes," said Murdock, watching Hannibal.
"Murdock," said Face. "Donít you think itís time you called it a day now?"
Face put the paper down and turned to face Murdock.
"Youíve been on this craze for about twenty four hours now. Even the rhyming thing didnít last this long. Youíve already annoyed Amy and Hannibal and frankly, itís starting to get on my nerves now too. Iím surprised BA hasnít punched you out. The only ones this hasnít affected are Jessica, whoís too young to know any different and Suzie who quite simply adores you. Youíre looking for trouble, you know."
"Obla di, obla dah."
"Donít you blah di blah me, Murdock. Listen to me, if you donít want Hannibal to send you back to the VA."
Murdock stared off into space and BA chuckled.
"I think the fool wants you to shut up, man. At least heís quiet."
Face picked up the paper again, muttering under his breath. Hannibal came back into the room.
"That little monkey wouldnít settle down until I promised her weíd take her to the park tomorrow."
"You ready to tell us the story now, Hannibal?" said BA.
"Okay, I suppose you deserve an explanation."
Hannibal sat down and told them the same story that Molly had told Amy earlier. When he had finished, Face stared at him.
"You mean after all this time, you still couldnít tell us."
"I wasnít sure how youíd react. Murdock knew about Cathy but not Jessie."
"Everythingís gonna be all right," said Murdock.
"I think for once, you could be right," said Hannibal.
"Is it safe to come back in?"
Amy stuck her head round the door.
"Fool, if you think itís over," replied Murdock.
Amy groaned and entered the room. She swatted Murdock round the ears.
"You are going to drive me mad, Murdock."
"You donít love me?"
Murdock looked at her with a sick puppy look and Amy grinned. She hugged him.
"Of course I do, Murdock. I could never not love you."
Murdock grinned back at her and went back to his book. Amy slid over to Face and rested her head on his shoulder. He put his arm round her and pulled her in close.
"Love is in the air," muttered Murdock. Face glared at him. They heard the door slam downstairs and the sound of footsteps running up the stairs. The door flew open and Suzie burst into the room.
"Iím home," she said, dropping her bag on the floor. She went into the kitchen and got a can of cola out of the fridge. She went through to her room and the door slammed behind her. Hannibal and BA exchanged glances.
"What the hell is wrong with her?" said Hannibal. "Sheís normally full of life when she gets home, especially when Iím here."
"Must have had a bad day," said Face. They heard more footsteps on the stairs and Molly came in.
"Was that Suzie I heard come in?"
"Sheís in her room," said Hannibal. Molly turned round and started to walk towards the room but she fell over Suzieís bag.
"Ouch! That bloody girl! Suzie!"
Molly rubbed her ankle and waited for Suzie to appear. Hannibal went over to her.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, Iíll be fine. Suzie!"
Suzie came out of her room and looked at her mother.
"Pick up this bag, Iíve just fallen over it. How many times have I told you not to leave things lying around? What if Jessie had fallen over it?"
"Get off my case, mother. Why canít you leave me alone? As soon as I come in, youíre on my back about something. I hate you!"
Suzie turned and stormed back into her room. Molly and Hannibal stared after her in amazement.
Face stood up and pulled Amy up with him.
"Weíre just popping out for a walk."
They walked out of the flat and BA got to his feet.
"Just gonna check on the van," he said and followed Face and Amy out of the door. Just then, the bell rang as someone entered the pharmacy.
"Blast," said Molly.
"You go, Iíll talk to Suzie," said Hannibal. Molly smiled at him gratefully and headed for the stairs. Hannibal turned towards Suzieís room but was met by Jessica.
"Daddy, can we go get some sweets? You promised."
"Murdock will take you."
Murdock nodded and got up. Jessica crossed her arms and stood in front of Hannibal. He couldnít help but smile at the sight of a five-year-old standing up to him.
"All right," sighed Hannibal. "Come on."
He helped Jessica put her coat on.
"If Suzie comes out, tell her I want to speak to her when I get back," said Hannibal.
"Bye Uncle Murdock," shouted Jessica.
"Bye bye baby."
Hannibal rolled his eyes at Murdock muttering "Bloody Bay City Rollers" under his breath. Murdock chuckled to himself. He heard a door opening and watched as Suzie crept into the kitchen and grabbed a snack bar from the cupboard. She came into the lounge and stopped dead when she saw Murdock watching her.
"I thought everyone had gone out," said Suzie and made to dart back into her room but Murdock held her wrist.
"Please donít go," he said.
"I donít really feel like talking much," said Suzie.
"You might need somebody," replied Murdock, pulling her down to sit next to him. "Confide in me."
"No-one cares what happens to me. I havenít got any friends."
"You got a friend in me."
"You donít even know me, how can you be a friend? You canít possibly care."
"All right, Iíll tell you. I didnít want to go back to school today because all my friends have gone to other schools this year. I donít know anyone and my teachers have said I wonít get my grades. Iím nothing."
Suzie burst into tears and Murdock put his arms round her and held her tight.
"You are everything."
Suzie shook her head.
"Iím not. Plus people made fun of my hair."
"I like it."
Murdock nodded. Suzie smiled at him.
"How do you cope when people make fun of you?"
"Cigarettes and Alcohol."
"An Oasis fan as well," said Suzie, wiping her eyes. "Could you be any more perfect?"
"Well, I think youíre perfect."
"You donít know me."
Suzie smiled at him.
"I know you were a friend when I needed one. I know you pretend to be crazy when youíre not really and I know youíre very loyal to the team. Besides, youíre cute."
Murdock blushed and shook his head.
"You are cute," said Suzie.
"Youíre gorgeous," whispered Murdock.
This time, Suzie blushed.
"What even with these green streaks in my hair?"
"Just the way you are," said Murdock and he took hold of her hand. Suzie gazed into his brown eyes.
"No regrets?" said Murdock and Suzie shook her head. Murdock leaned forward and lightly kissed her on the lips. Suzie wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. Suddenly, the door banged open and Jessica ran in. Suzie and Murdock leapt away from each other guiltily. Jessica ran up to Murdock and scrambled up onto his lap. Suzie got up and retreated back into her room. Murdock watched her go and then turned his attention to Jessica.
"Hey baby," he said to her.
"Hi Uncle Murdock. Look what daddy bought for me."
She held up a brightly coloured sweet packet and Murdock grinned.
"Sweets for my sweet."
Jessica giggled. Hannibal walked through the door.
"Hi Murdock. Has Suzie emerged from hiding yet?"
Before Murdock could answer, Jessica piped up.
"Suzie was kissing Uncle Murdock when I came in, Daddy."
Hannibal just stared at Murdock and so did Face, who had walked in with Amy just in time to overhear Jessicaís statement.
"Kids say the darndest things," said Murdock.
"Donít they just," said Hannibal. "Suzie, get out here."
There was no response from the bedroom. Hannibal walked over to the door and banged his fist on it. There was still no sound from inside so he turned the handle of the door. It opened and Hannibal looked inside. The room was empty but the window was open and the wind rushed through it, blowing the curtains. Hannibal strode over to the window and looked out. Suzie had just got to the bottom of the drainpipe and she looked up at the window as Hannibal shouted her name.
"Suzie, get back in here, I want to talk to you."
Suzie looked back at him and grinned.
"Iíd do anything for love but I wonít do that."
She ran down the road and round the corner. Hannibal came back into the lounge and glared at Murdock.
"Whereís Suzie?" asked Face.
"Sheís climbed out of the window and down the bloody drainpipe. I swear that girl will do herself an injury one day."
"Sounds like someone we know," said Amy, smiling.
"Who, me?" said Hannibal, smiling for a moment. "However, Iím more interested in this crush Suzie seems to have developed on Murdock."
Hannibal stared at Murdock and to everyoneís amazement, Murdock blushed a deep red.
"I donít wanna talk about it."
"Donít encourage her, Murdock. Sheís only eighteen."
"All you ever do is bring me down," shouted Murdock, suddenly. "Who do you think you are?"
"Murdock, calm down," said Face, trying to placate the agitated pilot but Murdock was on a roll.
"I found someone, someone to love. She makes my day. I wanna be the only one. Captain of her heart. Lifeís what you make it, everyday hurts on your own, tired of being alone. I just wanna be loved. It started with a kiss, love and affection. I want to know what love is. Donít be cruel, give me a little more time."
Murdock looked at Hannibal, pleadingly. Hannibal stared back at him.
"Donít hurt her, Murdock. If you do, youíll answer to me."
Murdock smiled at Hannibal and then turned to Face, Amy and BA who were stood listening.
"Breathe again," he said and the three of them let out the breath they had been holding without realising.
"Could you please stop with the songs now," said Amy. "You canít possibly conduct a serious relationship in song titles."
"Wanna bet," said Face. "Twenty bucks says he can do it."
"Iím not gambling with you, Templeton Peck. Look what happened last time."
"Last time," asked BA, sitting down. Jessica scrambled into his lap, happy again now everyone was smiling again. BA pulled her up onto his knee and she settled back against his chest. She looked round once to check Hannibal was still there and promptly felt asleep.
"Last time I gambled against Face, I lost."
"How much did you lose?" asked Hannibal.
"I had to go out to dinner with him and look where that led. Now, I canít get rid of him."
Face looked at her with mock hurt. She giggled.
"Not that Iím a bit sorry," she added and Face smiled.
Molly came into the room.
"Whatís all the shouting about? I could hear you all down in the shop."
"Do you have any objections about your daughter and Murdock?" asked Hannibal. "Because if you do, nowís the time to air them, because heís got his heart set on it."
"I donít mind in the slightest," said Molly. "Now, who wants some dinner?"
She wandered into the kitchen and Murdock whooped with joy.
"Iím into something good."
BA, Amy and Face groaned in unison.
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