Chapter One – The Case
‘Well guys, I think we have another case.’ Hannibal announced as he walked into Face’s scammed apartment, dropping the shopping onto the kitchen table. They had decided that living together would be a far safer option, especially when the military was looking for them ‘en masse’. Hannibal took out a cigar and began to chew the end.
‘There’s something wrong.’ Face said dropping onto the couch. It sagged to the floor. Usually he scammed something really nice for the team, but they were trying to keep their whereabouts private, so this dingy apartment would have to do. It wasn’t too bad and it was sparsely furnished, great if they needed to leave quickly. He made room as Murdock took a place on the sofa next to him. Murdock slipped his arm casually around his shoulders.
Hannibal nodded and took a seat in the old chair that looked as run down as he felt. ‘There was something not quite right about this Hammerstein. He seems genuinely worried about his daughter, but he seems to have come across this information a little too easily.’
‘Ah think it’s a setup Hannibal. Got picked up when he left. He got taken near the military base, so ah turned back. I don’t like it Hannibal. It’s a trap.’ BA had walked through the door, and began to spread what their client had given them about the mission. Pictures of his captured daughter, with the days papers and a blueprint of the estate, as well as information about some of the henchmen that ‘the boss’ had around him. When he was finished he leant on the doorframe between the kitchen and the living room.
‘OK…’ Hannibal sat back and lit his cigar. The others fancied that they could hear the cogs turning in his head, formulating a plan. It didn’t take long. ‘Well if it is the government, then a little reconnaissance won’t be too bad, and if it isn’t, we must explore other avenues of finding out where he got his information. Possibly those who took Hammerstein’s daughter wants him to come to us, and want us to find them.’
‘So they can capture us? Common Hannibal be serious. That’s way too complicated! What if the man never came to find us? Then what? OK so maybe he’s being forced to do it, but then surely he would have indicated? I dunno Hannibal.’ Face looked at the man in charge, but saw the ‘Jazz’ in the man’s eyes. Obviously Hannibal had thought of all of these ideas already, and knowing Hannibal, he had a way of dealing with them too. Face rolled his eyes and put his hands up, surrendering to the Colonel.
Murdock and Face watched the buildings that were either side of the gate. One was the gatehouse, with a couple of armed guards taking their rest whilst the other two kept a look out by the gate. The other side of the gate was another, larger building where people were being searched; they always came out with their faces coloured with embarrassment and their closes obviously rushed back on in haste. Not so many women had entered the place, but they were obviously well turned out, wearing fox fur and minx coats.
Murdock casually slipped back into the van parked on the corner of the street. It was a maintenance van that Face had scammed. ‘Chilly out. Here.’ He held out the steaming coffee cup to Face who gratefully accepted it. Murdock began making funny choking noises to Face’s left and he swung around, the hot coffee spilling all over his trousers. As he leant across Murdock began to laugh. He had simply been breathing hard to make little smoke clouds float into the atmosphere of the van.
Face swore and jumped into the back of the van. Murdock stopped laughing and threw some tissues that were in glove compartment to him. He swung and looked at the scalded Face. ‘I’m sorry Facey. I just wanted to make you smile.’ Murdock didn’t need to add that they had been at this fruitless task for days now, and it was beginning to wear on his partner. Murdock’s sorry little face made his heart melt and he tried to smile through the pain.
‘It’s OK, you’ll just have to make it up to me later.’ Murdock wiggled his eyebrows and returned to the job in hand. ‘Oh hang on, isn’t that Hammerstein?’ Face leant across the back of the seats to take a look whilst Murdock scrambled into the back to pick up the cans, eager to take back some news to Hannibal.
‘…yeah I know. Hopefully they’ll be here soon… she will crack soon now doubt… Oh yeah, well I’m expecting that they are listening right now, hopefully they’ll fall into our hands soon enough, and not only will we have the A-Team, but information about ‘Project T’ also… Simon, I’ll be back to out this evening. Keep searching our clients.’
‘Colonel, we would be falling right into their hands! For Christ’s sake they wanted us to hear them! I know that this girl is an innocent, but we cannot go in there!’ Face flinched as Hannibal threw photo’s of the girl towards Face. They were like the ones that Hammerstein had provided. She was covered in open wounds and obvious signs of torture, the daily newspaper evident in on corner. As usual, her face was covered in a black sack like bag, These had been arriving since the day Face and Murdock discovered that Hammerstein was at the centre of it all.
Face didn’t look at the photos, but fell silent. Murdock squeezed his hand and tried to continue. ‘Colonel, this all stinks. Something is out of place here. He wants us to know he wants us to hear him. He lets us know who he is, gives us blueprints and information about his mercenaries. What have we got to do with this ‘Project T’? Why go after two things at once? Colonel, Face is right. Something is really off.’
Hannibal nodded. He knew it, but he couldn’t sit by as he let this young girl be tortured. ‘So we sit here then? Let this continue?’ Face and Murdock shock their heads. No one had a better plan, and no one made plans like Hannibal, so they continued. The limousine drove to the gates.
‘Got an appointment?’ Simon said. He didn’t check a list, which was good thought Hannibal. He turned his head up to face the guard. ‘Nope, thought we could pay on the door, dear boy.’ He said in his best English accent. Simon nodded and waved the gates to be opened. He put his hand out for money. Hannibal grabbed his arm and pulled the man so fast that he knocked him out on the hood of the car. Face jumped up through the gap in the roof and provided covering fire for BA to drive the vehicle along the road.
The road was tree lined, providing cover for the numerous scout groups that protected the Manor. Face and Hannibal kept a sharp look out for any such groups, but they saw no one. The car stopped, and the team got out, slashing one of the tires making it look although they had got a flat and simply just locked themselves in. Armed with rifles, the team advanced into the trees.
It didn’t take them long to reach the house. Guards were rushing into cars and racing down the road to meet the stationary, now empty car. Those who remained guarded the doors and set up a perimeter sweep immediately around the house. Keeping low and out of view, Hannibal signaled for them to break off into pairs, Face and BA going towards the back, whilst Murdock stayed with Hannibal. Waiting for a break in the patrolling guards, Hannibal and the captain took the chance, stealthily and quickly knocked out the two men, dragging their bodies in the house when they ascertained the coast was clear. Hopefully no one would notice for at least a while until they had found the girl.
There was movement up the stair case and the two men slid from view. The man noticed the two bodies lying in the hallway and rushed to their aid. He was knocked out before he even knew what was happening. BA and Face slipped into the grand hallway, acknowledging Hannibal. BA and Face waited in the hallway as Murdock and Hannibal inched their way upstairs.
They searched the rooms, all large; some with large double beds, some with just chains. This harem obviously catered for all tastes thought Murdock eyeing the many whips and cat o’nine tails hanging in one room. They found a second staircase. Hannibal motioned for Murdock to stay and he crept up the red carpeted stairs. Within less then a minute Murdock heard his CO calling softly down to him.
Murdock let his eyes adjust to the dark attic, and when his eyes had acquired the night vision he sought, he gasped.
There must have been at least a dozen or more naked people tied to the array of king sized double beds. They were blind folded and gagged. As Hannibal approached each he read to Murdock some of the names that were written on tiny clipboards, much like in a hospital. They were all names of people that had gone missing, but these weren’t ordinary missing persons; they were celebrities, or strong and well known men from the armed forces.
‘We have to help these people Murdock..’
‘No Colonel, we can come back, send the police, but we have to find that girl.’
The Colonel shock himself. The Captain was right. He looked around, and right at the far end of the attic, he noticed a single bed. A young woman was roughly tied to it. She was covered in cuts and bruises, and her head was covered in the familiar black sack. A camera was set up opposite her.
He quickly set down his weapon and spoke to the girl. ‘My name is Hannibal Smith. I’m here to save you.’ She didn’t respond. She was unconscious or asleep. He didn’t want to think which. The owners of this harem had obviously kept her well fed; she wasn’t suffering with malnutrition, and had a rather attractive body considering. Hannibal shook the images out of his head and began to undo the neck restraint.
He gasped and fell backwards as he removed the neck piece. Murdock looked up and saw that the colonel had frozen. He took a quick glance down the stairs, and then sprinted the length of the attic. HM covered the girl’s neck and took away the rest of her constraints. He hastily wrapped her up in a blanket and removed the head cloth. Murdock carried her in his arms to where the colonel was standing; he seemed to have regained his composure. He nodded his thanks to Murdock and they left the attic.
Hannibal checked all about him, his soldiers training kicking back into action. He heard a scuffle on the stairs, and sprinted towards his men. He heard Murdock’s heavy footsteps behind him.
BA punched a guard in the stomach winding the man, and then proceeded to throw him head first into a wall. Shouts were heard from outside and the team knew they no time. The team ran into a room across the hallway.
‘Hannibal, you’re not serious?’ Face would have laughed if he wasn’t so full of adrenaline. He noticed Hannibal’s glance towards the window, taking in the drop, and the truck waiting below, and noted the Jazz was collecting in his eyes.
‘Why not? Lieutenant.’ He offered Face the opportunity, which was sidestepped by the big man charging past them, and jumping straight into, and through, the glass window. The rest of the team soon followed, Murdock dropping the girl into Face’s arms, before joining the rest and taking the girl away from Face before he had a real chance to take a look at her. BA had the truck hotwired within seconds, and they hurtled towards the gates of the harem, their precious burden bundled in Murdock’s protecting arms.
Chapter Two – The Girl
Face had some how managed to find yet another run down apartment in a dismal part of town. He cringed as he watched the cockroaches scuttle across the floor, the peeling smoke damaged wall paper and the damp musty smell of the furniture.
Murdock took first shift at watching the girl. She awoke with a start, sweat pouring down her face as he laid her down in the bed. It took a few minutes for her to calm down and realize that Murdock meant her no harm. She allowed him to put her in the bath. Murdock took a flannel to her face and almost let out a cry of anger. She was covered in soot and dirt. She was wearing heavy perfume to conceal the dirt and stench of her body. As he washed her face, the blackness lifted to reveal that she had quite a pale, deathly white complexion, which was marred by her broken skin. The cuts looked infected, and he took great care to clean the wounds. The bath turned almost black, so he emptied and refilled the bath, collecting more flannels while he waited. He never took his eyes off the young woman in the bath.
She kept looking around expecting to be jumped by Murdock. He noted her eyes often darted towards the door and the windows. ‘So what’s your name?’ He asked. The Team had decided that ‘Susan’ wasn’t her real name after everything they learned about the case. ‘Butterbee. And you are?’ Her voice was quite strong, although Murdock noted the uncertainty underneath her front.
‘HM Murdock. That’s my name.’ He continued to wash her face and began to work on her hair. It was dark black, but over time it worked out to be a dirty blonde. ‘The White haired gent is Hannibal, the blonde one is Faceman and the big black guy, he’s…’
‘His name is BA Baracus. Hannibal is actually John Smith and Faceman is Templeton Peck, well it is currently at least.’ Murdock reacted to restrain her but she was too quick. She had him pinned to the bathroom floor, face down before he knew what was happening. He could feel her wet body on top of his.
‘They call me Butterbee for a reason. Move like a butterfly, stings like a Bee. Clichéd but still. I don’t mean you any harm Murdock, please just listen let me tell you who I am before you yell spy.’ He stopped struggling. He could feel her strength sapping, he could either over power her, or depending on who she was, help her.
‘Murdock, back in ‘Nam, you and the rest of the A-Team were sent to a VC P.O.W. camp. About a month later, a girl was thrown into your prison cell. It’s me Murdock, it’s me. Sofia. If you need further proof, the finish cleaning my neck.’
She rolled off him, breathing hard. It had obviously taken a lot out of her. She shook from head to toe, a mixture of exhaustion and chills from the drying water. Murdock, although weary continued with her request. As the dirt came off he saw the brand more clearly. Along the left ridge at the back of her neck was the word ‘Whore’, in Vietnamese.
Murdock dropped to the floor, a thousand, unwanted memories flooded back to him.
‘Get your stinking hands of him! Leave Face alone!’ Sofia went flying through the air as the VC guard punched her square in the face. She jumped up and moved forward again, grabbing hold of Face’s arm, and with surprising might that the guard had not expected, pulled him free. Face went whirring into Hannibal’s grasp. BA and Murdock took positions in front of the two men, but could not get in front of the small fifteen year old.
‘Ha,’ she said in Vietnamese. ‘You filthy pig fucker can’t stop an American girl, you pathetic excuse for a VC!’ She laughed outright in his face and was rewarded with another punch in the face, but she kept her ground this time. She was prepared to fight. She wouldn’t let Face go to them again, she couldn’t.
‘You ever touch him again, I’ll fucking kill you.’ She said in a deathly whisper, her normal back chat and quick remarks absent.
He grabbed her lapels and twisted her body around to stare at each of them. They heard more guards approaching and they quickly over powered the already weakened men. ‘OK, what about the black one? Or maybe the old one. Either way that bloody pilot’s coming with us, so choose, whose going this time then, little girl?’ She locked eyes with Hannibal, and he began to stop resisting the guards.
‘Common then big mouth, saviour of innocent, you choose whose going with the pilot today then?’ He nodded and the guards began to beat the men.
‘Stop!’ Sofia began shouting, her shouts not feeling loud enough above the noise of breaking flesh.
‘Oh why? You want to save them all, switch yourself for all of them. Take all their punishments today? You think you’re that brave heh? Ready to play in the adult world do you?’ By this time the guards had stopped beating the team. Hannibal and Murdock, the only two who could understand Vietnamese, began yelling for him to leave her alone, for her to stop, but they were beaten into silence.
Sofia locked eyes with Hannibal again. ‘Yes.’ She whispered quietly. She was dragged out of the cell, the last sight she saw before the torture chamber was Hannibal’s soft sigh of compassion and resignation as the guards left the cell and locked the door behind them.
‘It’s Sofia. I saw the brand on her neck. There’s no mistaking it.’ A resounding silence hung in the air, thicker then the dust on the carpet. Hannibal almost collapsed, and found his way to the cushions they used as chairs. Murdock and the others joined him.
‘It can’t be.. she’s.. dead.’ He whispered. He looked a total wreck. The last time he looked like this was when he heard Sofia being shot.. or when they thought they heard she being shot.
Murdock gently put a hand on his shoulder. ‘It has to be her. She knows who we are and what we do, I’ve quizzed her. It has to be Sofia. She’s even the right age Hannibal, and she remember things, ya’know.’ He looked deep into his CO’s eyes and tried to convey without words what it was he was thinking. The colonel nodded. Neither would mention it, and the others didn’t need to know.
BA stood up, absolutely speechless. He wondered over to her room and looked in. ‘I’ll have first watch.’ He said, and then walked in and gently closed he door. Through the door they thought they heard him sob.
Hannibal sat in a daze, surely it wasn’t true? They’d seen her dragged out of the cell, heard a gunshot, and then no one had seen nor heard about her ever again. It was true that they hadn’t seen a body, first rule of the A Team, not dead unless you see a body. He wondered if the girl sleeping in the other room was truly one and the same.
Face got up from the pile of filth on the floor and wondered into the kitchen. He tried to busy himself, to stop from thinking what everyone else was. Surely she was dead? She couldn’t be alive, and if it was her in that room, then how? Why now after all that time? Coincidence was something that the team didn’t believe in, so surely something here wasn’t right. Face jumped as he felt Murdock slip his arms around his waist. Face stopped trying to pretend to be doing anything helpful in the kitchen.
‘Not good. You remember how he reacted to being told she was dead, and how he dealt with it. He just ignored it, for us, but now he doesn’t have to, and I think it’s come as a shock.’
‘Yeah I know baby. I’m glad she’s alive, really but…’
‘She brings back too many painful memories.’ He turned Face around to look him in the eyes. ‘I know. I don’t know how this is gonna affect us, but we’ll get through it. We’ll remember, and then we will deal, it’s what we always do.’ Murdock snuggled into Face’s shoulder. He didn’t know how they would actually deal with it. Memories he didn’t know he had kept jumping out at him. He tried to stay with Face in the Kitchen. He couldn’t break down again, not now.
Hannibal sat watching Sofia from the corner of the room, his M16 at a close distance. He took in the way the moonlight picked out her blonde hair, the way it floated across her face, moving gently in time with her breathing. She looked so peaceful. Nothing like the last time he ever saw her.
Blood was pouring from every orifice in her body. Hannibal was covered in as much of her blood as she was. He cradled her small body in his, stroking her blood soaked hair, staring daggers at the general.
‘You bastards! She’s only a child for God’s sake!’ He yelled from the floor of the chamber. Hannibal shock with suppressed anger, wanting to kill the smiling face of their tormentor, but the tied up Murdock prevented him.
‘Go on then American, hit me, and watch the crazy die for the love of your girl.’ Hannibal just continued to stroke Sofia’s hair, trying not to react to this threat. He felt so powerless in his position, even though he had no restraints. He wanted so badly to get revenge for the girl, but they had him exactly where they wanted him. Powerless to help the one who had protected them as much as she could during the few months, weeks or years they had been there. Time just had no meaning in a place like this.
‘What’s the matter pig? Lost your tongue? Beating her yourself too much of a torture? Just fess up; tell me and it all ends, for all of you.’ His face was inches from the colonel’s face. Hannibal never broke eye contact. The VC smiled.
‘We both know how much you love the girl, and yet destroying her to a bloody pulp and threatening her life does nothing to you. Hmm. I wonder if taking the whore away will break you.’ He paused, enjoying the affect the words had upon the colonel. ‘You will have no guardian Angel any more. Guards, take that thing away! We have no more use for her now.’ Hannibal tried to hang onto her body, Murdock yelling ever Vietnamese obscenity he could think of, but in the end they both just had to watch as she was dragged by the hair out of the cell, leaving a bloody trail behind her. Moments later they heard a gun shot.
Sofia opened her eyes when she heard Hannibal’s soft snores from the corner of the room. She slipped on the dressing gown BA had lent, flinching as the material grazed against her cuts. Sofia used the furniture to steady her walk to the door. Opening the door a tiny bit, her slim body slipped through the gap. She wondered her way down the hall, trying to see in the dark. Her hand found the side table she was looking for. She picked up the phone and dialled the number she knew by heart.
‘Hammerstein please… Arthur I’m here… I feel awful yeah, but don’t worry, just adds to the affect, I’ve been through worse… Yeah they think I’m Sofia, I slipped up and told Murdock who I was, but I covered well… They think I remember some of the harsher memories… no I just pretend… Soonish, we’ll have them soon. Promise.’
Chapter Three – Family
Sofia silently slipped back into the room, her strength sapping quickly. She barely made it to the bed, falling in the frame, and sinking to the floor. Hannibal woke with a start, hand reaching straight for his weapon. He fumbled around before flicking on the light. Sofia was lying panting on the floor covered in a light sweat. Her hands unconsciously moved the dressing gown to cover her body. Hannibal replaced his weapon and gently lifted her onto the bed, her body going limp the moment he set her down. He quickly undressed her, removing the gown with out disturbing her. His hands brushed the broken skin on her shoulders and arms, briefly pausing at his own thoughts before continuing with his task.
Once he saw she was comfortably in bed, he turned the light out and knocked quietly on Face and Murdock’s room. Face was alert as he acknowledged his CO. He watched the older man enter his own room, and tried to figure out why the light in his eyes had disappeared.
John ‘Hannibal’ Smith couldn’t sleep. He lay on his back staring at the ceiling, but he wasn’t really looking at it, staring beyond it to something that no one else could see. He pondered the arrival of the girl, a girl he thought had been dead for many years, had mourned for. He rolled over punching the pillow to fluff it up; relieving some of the emotions he held writhing inside him. Hannibal was glad that Sofia was alive, but something else was troubling him. Hannibal couldn’t be near her without thinking about it, feeling it all over again. How could he face her after what he had done to her? Shame and guilt tore his insides up and he fell into a troubled sleep a few hours before dawn.
A week hadn’t quite flown by, but for the A-Team it was quite without incident. Face had come up trumps again and had found a semi-decent apartment for them all. It was sparsely furnished, but it was obvious someone rich lived here.
‘All kosher guys. Called in some favours, did a deal.’
‘Yeah, deal, Hannibal is going to be the foyer clown.’
‘What?!’ Murdock began waddling around the apartment, picking up a carnation and pretended to squirt water at Sofia, who had just been carried in by BA. She giggled softly, but it became too painful and had to stop, but the smile planted across her face no longer made her look tired and wrecked. Murdock moved onto the big guy playfully falling as BA swung a fist at him.
‘Common Hannibal, you always said you wanted to get back into acting. Now I said you would be there from 4 till 7 each day…’
Hannibal just nodded his head and moved into the large kitchen, letting the door swing closed behind him. Sofia was cuddled up inside a blanket by the window, sadly watching Hannibal’s retreating back. Face and Murdock exchanged a glance, before it was decided that BA and Face would take a look around the apartment. ‘Is he normally this depressed, or is it me?’ Sofia laid a gentle hand on Murdock’s arm as he got up to continue his clown impressions. He voice was soft, barely above a whisper.
‘I won’t lie, Sofia, not to you.’ Her head turned sharply to look at him. For a brief moment he thought he saw confusion in her eyes, but as soon as he thought about it, it vanished. ‘If I were Hannibal, I wouldn’t know what to do. He, I mean we all, thought you were dead. We try and close those chapters of our lives everyday, but you being here, beaten and coming from where we found you, it’s just uprooted things. He has no plans for something like this.’ Murdock tried to struggle to find the right words, to phrase the thing correctly, but he couldn’t find them.
‘I have the monopoly on mental disorders here.’ She nodded, but said nothing, so he continued. ‘It’s like he had destroyed something precious to him… Oh I don’t know. Sofia surely you must remember that last night, when he… you know… and then we heard a gun shot, we thought… he never got a chance to apologize, even thought he wasn’t to blame for what… happened to you.’
Sofia was confused. They thought that she had been shot, and it was Hannibal’s fault? She had only read that people had died because of Murdock and Face, neither BA or Hannibal was mentioned. Not everything was mentioned in the papers, she began to wonder if this was worth doing after all. Precious, destroyed something precious to him. She didn’t understand, so she just nodded.
Murdock saw the uncertainty in her eyes this time, but said nothing. Something wasn’t quite right; she looked like Sofia, she knew things that Sofia would know, but it was sort of odd, something out of place. Face had agreed when they spoke about her the night before.
‘I know it sounds stupid, it’s the little things.’ Face said quietly as the two of them snuggled up under their blanket. ‘She skims over memories, always vague or evasive. And she never called you Murdock, always HM, and always called me Tem… I have to agree something isn’t right but what?’
‘She could have just repressed it I suppose. Common lets get some sleep, think about it tomorrow.’ Murdock wanted to tell Face everything. It felt like he was concealing things from Face, but it wasn’t his place to tell people about that night. A memory like that last night belong to Hannibal and Sofia, he just the unfortunate wrench that bore witness to it.
Murdock studied the girl as she looked out the window. The view was great, the mountains and the sea in opposite directions, it was a painters dream. Murdock walked over to the window and thought.
It was dark, no light reached their cell. The A-Team waited in the dark for the door to be flung open, and another one of them taken away. They were one down and she hadn’t been back since yesterday morning when she had thrown herself into the lion’s den for the sake of the team. They heard footsteps approaching, BA and Hannibal standing to protect the other two. They wouldn’t let them take another one away, not tonight. Sofia had given them a new strength to get through.
The door was thrown open and the light caused them to squint. A moment later it was banged shut and they heard it being locked in the customary fashion. Hannibal moved quickly to the bundle that had been thrown into the cell. He gasped and Murdock looked up. He barely recognised Sofia. Her hair was matted with her own blood, and she was shaking uncontrollably. She was barely conscious. Murdock got off the pallet and made space for Sofia’s wrecked body. He stared down at the slight girl who had thrown herself in harms way for Face, and he was grateful to her for that. BA gently eased off her torn rags, throwing them into the corner of the room. Murdock had rarely seen BA this furious, the last being when Face was first being taken out for ‘special attention’, and coming back ripped to shreds.
Hannibal used the water they had been saving to clean the wounds best he could, before finally wrapping make shift bandages across her hands. She looked a sorry sight covered in bruises, an especially nasty purple looking one had appeared on her chest, and an equally disturbing one on the bottom of her back. She was covered in numerous cuts from the whips and what looked like chains. In the little light that they had, Murdock could see BA patiently drawing out splinters that had lodged themselves in her shins whilst Hannibal gripped her hand so she could stop herself crying out.
She moaned softly as the largest one was pulled out and showered BA in blood briefly. Sofia softly apologised to the big man, but he just shook it off. She had done just as much for them. When she had been cleaned up, Hannibal lay her down comfortably, laying himself between her and the door. BA and Murdock lay still although asleep. After a long while, finally Hannibal broke the silence;
‘Sofia, you can’t do that again. We’re grown men we can take it…’ he whispered.
‘Bullock’s colonel. No one can take that shit, not even you.’ She said softly. ‘I know I don’t have to, but I do. I couldn’t let them do that stuff to Face again, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t let any of you take the heat, you’ve been through enough.’
‘You don’t have go through this either. Please don’t put yourself at risk for us. We don’t ask that of anyone ‘
‘Nice blokes don’t deserve treatment like this. I’m not the type of person to sit by and not help. You all protect me, but won’t let me protect you. I wouldn’t do it unless I thought I could handle it…’
‘If you hadn’t noticed, we’re barely holding up, nor should you have to…’
‘Why not? Because I have breasts and a hymen?’ Murdock suppressed a smile. Sofia had a blunt way of speaking, it had caught all of their attentions the moment she got thrown into the cell a month or so ago, showed she had spirit. She began to cough slightly, her breathing becoming more shallow and gasping. She gripped his arm steadying herself, but it was obviously taxing her.
‘I won’t sit by and watch as each one of you gets destroyed.’ She took a deep breath, summoned her nerve and continued; in a low voice that could barely be heard above the sighing of the wind. ‘I couldn’t live with my self if anything happen to them… or you.’ A stunned silence met these words. She leant over slowly towards the colonel, her eyes bright as she kissed him gingerly on the forehead, but before he could say anything, she lay back and was unconscious before her head hit the pallet, and she stayed that way until dawn.
‘Sofia,’ Murdock spun to ask her a question, staring at her with the same intensity one may look at a bug under a microscope, trying to see if his suspicions were right or not. ‘How come you protected us?’ She raised her eyebrows, obviously confused.
‘I mean, one moment you were thrown in our cell, tender age of 16, and next minute you’re protecting our butts, how come?’
‘I..’ Sofia paused, trying to phrase her answer carefully. In truth she had no idea why Sofia had done it, but it sounded very much like something she would have done herself. Damn you girl, your falling for this group! Remember why you’re here!’ Sofia answered as evasively as she could.
‘I like you guys. I mean common, what isn’t to like about you guys?’ She smiled pretending to throw a light punch in Murdock’s way, but he didn’t move. She lost the smile, something about those eyes made her feel disappointed with herself, although she had lost the respect of someone close to her. She mentally shook herself and reminded herself why she was here; what they had done. ‘What?’ she asked.
Murdock sat down opposite her, and gently took her hands in his own. ‘You must have lost your memory or something.’ He looked into her eyes, he wasn’t angry merely concerned. ‘Look Sofia, you were a couple of months from turning 16 when you joined us in POW camp, it wasn’t an ideal situation for any of us, but we became like a family, the five of us. When we thought you had died we…just imagine. That’s what it is doing to all of us, especially Hannibal, after everything that’s…’
Murdock and Sofia jumped as Face entered the room. Murdock jumped up and launched himself at the bewildered Face, knocking him flying and they fell to the floor. Murdock covered his lovers face with desperate kisses. Hannibal came out just as they went flying past him, and he smiled, lighting up his made up face. He had bright colours all over his face and had some how cobbled together from his things, which he had taken into the kitchen, the brightest outfit known to man.
Sofia caught Hannibal’s eye from across the room, and for moment no one said anything. Neither of them lost the grins planted on their faces.