“Where are you going?” she asked as she clutched the picture to her chest.
“I don’t know.”
“Why don’t you stay one more night? Maybe things will look better in the morning.”
“I hung around for six months longer than I should trying to convince myself of that very thing.” He folded another shirt and put it in the bag. He turned and looked around the room. “Well,” he said, “I think that’s it. If you find anything else of mine just put it in storage. I’ll pick it up one day this week.”
He turned and looked at the woman sitting on the bed. “Baby, I tried. I swear to God I never wanted it to come to this.”
“Let’s not bring God into this, o.k.? He has enough problems without ours. And don’t call me baby.”
“You’ve been so distant lately. Damn.” He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “You have changed so much in the past year. You lost your license to practice medicine, you drink all the time, you look terrible…”
“Well, let me go get my hair and nails done, check into Betty Ford, and diagnose another loon. Then I’ll be back to normal.”
“That’s another thing. You have turned so bitter and cynical. You were never like that. I just wish I knew what has made you this way.” He sat down on the bed beside her. “You use to be so happy. Always laughing, like you had a private joke no one else knew about. Now you just…” he let his voice trail off into silence. Suddenly he jumped up and rubbed his hands on the front of
his jeans. “I’ll be at my mother’s for a while. I still have my cell phone if you need to get in touch with me.”
“Your mother’s? I tell you what, let me get started on that “diagnosing a loon” thing. You need to cut those apron strings. You have an unhealthy relationship with her. She’s overprotective, she interferes when she shouldn’t, and she treats you and your sister like you two can do no wrong. I sense an oedipus complex if you ask me.” She smiled sarcastically. “One down, two to go on your little list.”
The man turned angry eyes towards the woman sitting on the bed. “That’s my family.”
“I’m your family, too.”
“No,” he said as he headed towards the door. “You’re not. You were just my wife.” The front door closed softly.
She sat on the bed in shock. She looked at the picture that she clutched tightly again. “Just your wife?” she whispered to the empty room. “Just your wife?” she said a little louder. “You- you- sorry ass, mother fuckin BASTARD!” The picture crashed against the wall, breaking the glass when she threw it. She stood there for a minute, listening to the sound of silence. She ran her hands through her hair and looked wildly around the room, breathing hard. The walls were closing in. She looked at the house and all the memories it conjured up. Her gaze settled on the Christmas tree in the corner. The merry lights seemed to mock her. She narrowed her eyes and started towards the merry display of the Christmas it had promised. She started at the top, grabbing ornaments and throwing them at everything in the room. By the time she reached the top of the tree, her hands were bloody
from the broken glass. She never noticed. She stood there for a moment, her eyes narrowing. She ran to the bedroom and started pulling things from the back of the closet. She gathered the supplies and headed back to the living room. She sighed, sat down in the middle of the floor, and went to work – a cigarette hanging out of her mouth.
Two hours later, she looked around at her handiwork and smiled. She was pleased. Very pleased. She gathered a few things and put them in a backpack. Her passport, some i.d., a couple of changes of clothes, and her personal items. She grabbed her cigarettes, and after lighting one, put the rest of the pack in her backpack. She turned and walked out the front door. The same
one he had walked out of four hours earlier. She looked around. It was getting colder, and she was sure before the night was over it would start snowing. She pulled her coat closer, and turned to look at the house one last time. She took another drag off the cigarette and started walking towards the road. She walked for about eight blocks and came to the river. She pulled a small electronic device out of her pocket and set it down on the pier. She bent down and took something out of her front pocket. She
stayed knelt down for a minute looking at the picture of the happy couple on their wedding day. She took her lighter and slowly set fire to it. When it got too close to her fingers, she laid it on the pier and watched it burn. A cold northern wind blew the ashes away. She lit another cigarette and studied the small device she had set down earlier. She picked it up and turned it over and over in her gloved hands. She finally straightened up and looked out over the river. She stood there for a long minute lost in her thoughts. She looked down at the device in her hands again. It felt like someone else as she pushed the small button. She wiped it off with her scarf and then threw it as hard as she could into the river. She turned and walked back down the pier towards the main drag. She smiled slightly when she heard the explosion. Just as she hailed a cab, she turned to look at the red glow in the night sky.
The cab driver whistled low. “Oh man. That doesn’t sound good. Looks like it came from one of those expensive houses across the river. I hope no one was hurt. That would be a shame two weeks before Christmas.” He turned and looked at his passenger in the back. “Where to?”
“The airport. Could you make it quick? I’m late for a flight. I’ll give you an extra twenty.”
The cab sped off into the night as the woman lit another cigarette.
“Come on Facey, just one more!”
“Oh, come on!”
“Murdock, you are not doing this to me again!” Face looked at the pleading brown eyes and his protests disappeared. “Oh… O.K. But this is the last time.” He sighed and said flatly, “Oh look Murdock. We are under the mistletoe. What ever shall we do?” He leaned over and kissed the pilot. The kiss started out cold, but soon turned passionate. He pulled away and looked into the pilot’s hooded eyes, and felt his heart quicken. He grabbed the mistletoe from the doorway and took Murdock’s hand. “We’ll be upstairs.” He said hurriedly to the others as he and Murdock rushed to the other room.
The rest of the team laughed. “Do those two ever get tired of each other?” Frankie asked.
“I haven’t seen them get tired yet.” Hannibal said laughing.
“Or quiet.” B.A. grumbled good naturedly as they heard noises coming from their room upstairs.
Frankie just shook his head and continued helping the other two decorate the tree. They all stopped and turned as they heard a door slam.
“Is she crazy!?” Stockwell shouted at Carla as he walked into the room.
“I have told you that for years.”
“Where is she?”
“Somewhere over South Carolina. She left Georgia about an hour ago.”
“When she gets in, I want to know immediately!”
Stockwell turned around and looked at the others in the room.
“Nothing I can’t handle Colonel. How is the tree coming?”
“Good. I want you to know the only Christmas present you’re getting from me are these two weeks off.”
“Your cup of goodwill over flows”, Frankie said sarcastically.
Stockwell threw him a menacing look and walked out of the room.
“What was that all about?” Face asked as he and Murdock came back into the room.
“I have no idea, but when whoever she is gets here, I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.” Hannibal directed B.A. to straighten the star on the top of the tree.
A few hours later, the team were having eggnog when they heard the doorbell ring. They watched an agent open the door and step back. “He wants to see her in the study.”
The guys tried to sneak a glance at the woman who had Stockwell so upset, but couldn’t as she was surrounded by agents. They watched the agents walk into the study and then all come out single file. A few seconds later, the door to the study slammed shut and was locked.
“What the hell were you thinking?” they heard Stockwell shout. “I swear, all you have been to me lately is one problem after another.”
Apparently the woman answered but they could not hear what she said.
“Don’t get flippant with me! I ought to let the authorities have you for this one! I thought you had been killed when I heard the news!”
“That is bullshit and you know it! You belong to me, and I can’t have one of my best agents in prison for arson! Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
Stockwell was silent again.
“You got that right! You’re mind isn’t on your job! You drink all the time, your belligerent, you take unnecessary chances, and you put my other agents at risk! You may want to die, but I have quite a few employees who don’t!”
The team strained to hear, but again heard nothing.
“Yes! You do! Look at you! You’re half lit right now! Well Blackbird, you have done it now! I’m leaving you here, in this house with some people who are going to be very put out with you! I had promised them two weeks off for Christmas, but since your little stunt they now have a babysitting job to do!”
“Uh guys? I didn’t like the way that sounded.” Frankie whispered.
The others nodded as they strained to hear more.
“Hell no you can’t have a drink! I tell you what, I change my mind. You can have all the drinks you want! If I’m lucky, maybe you’ll die of alcohol poisoning before New Years!”
Stockwell opened the door and the team suddenly gained a keen interest in the floor. They had never heard Stockwell so angry. He came into the living room, his face red.
“You vacation is over. Your next mission is to watch the agent in there. She’s know as Blackbird. Be careful, she’s my top assassin. Or use to be. If she keels over, bury her in the backyard. Deep.” They watched as Stockwell stormed out of the house with Carla in front of him. He slammed the door so hard the chandelier shook.
Murdock whistled low. “Shall we go see who it is?”
They all sat there and looked at the door of the study, nobody moved to get up. In a few minutes, they continued talking about the upcoming holidays.
Two agents came through the living room having a serious discussion. One of them finally took out a coin and flipped it. They studied the results carefully. One grinned and pumped his arm. The other one swallowed nervously, straightened his tie, and headed for the study. A minute later, they heard a glass crash against the wall, and the agent came flying out of the room. He never stopped running for the door and the other agent was right behind him. The team watched them both run out the door and across the compound. Hannibal grinned and took another puff of his cigar. “I sure would like to meet this spitfire.”
“Go right ahead Johnnie. We’ll wait right here for you.” The others laughed nervously. They stopped when they heard the study door open again.
“Well go right ahead. Don’t mind me. Ya’ll are on a roll.” Their heads snapped up and Hannibal grinned.
“I’ll be damned.”
“You will be if you stick with me.” Savanah Morrison came stumbling into the room. She looked around and stared. “Holy fuck.” she whispered. “Maybe I do need to stop drinking. Hannibal? B.A.? Face?” She leaned against the doorway. “Am I dead?” She looked around the room again. “Well, I always suspected Stockwell ran hell. Where’s the bar?”
“I really don’t think you need another drink.”
“Probably not Face, but I’m going to have one anyway.” Savanah stumbled to the bar and poured a large glass of Jim Beam. She topped it off with a splash of ginger ale and stirred it with her finger. She turned back to the others. “A toast,” she announced “to dead friends, killing the enemy, lost medical licenses, failed marriages, and smoldering houses. And most importantly, to Stockwell, for making it all happen.” They watched in shock as she drank the whiskey down, and poured some more. “That’s some good
Murdock angrily walked over to her and took the glass out of her hands. He walked three steps and threw the glass into the fireplace. He turned back to the girl. “Savanah? What the hell is wrong with you? What’s going on?”
“You got about three days?”
Face got up and took her arm. “Why don’t you sit down and talk about it? It’ll make you feel better.”
She looked at him in silence for a moment. “Perfect. The odd couple finally got it together, so now they’re giving me advice. No thank you. I’ve talked about it and thought about it enough lately. Now I want to forget.” Face caught her as she almost fell and helped her over to the couch.
“What’s going on Savanah?”
“Well Colonel, where do I start? Uhm…about a year ago I turned on the news and found out my father’s unit had been killed for committing his murder. I guess I sort of lost it, started drinking quite frequently, and was kicked out of the medical society for conduct unbecoming of a member. Then about eight months ago Stockwell sent me on a job where six agents were killed. Needless to say, he blamed me for his mistakes. Then I came home this afternoon to find my husband of six years packing his shit up to leave me. So, I did what any bitter wife would do.” She stopped and grinned coldly. “I blew our house up.” She stopped to light a cigarette. “Then I hopped a big ole jet airliner and was met at the airport in Richmond by some of Stockwell’s goons. I believe ya’ll know the rest.”
The others looked at her in stunned silence.
“You blew the house up?” B.A. finally asked.
“Blew it up and burned it down. So long suburban life. Can I have another drink?”
“Frankie, I think I hear someone calling you.”
“O.K. Johnnie.” Frankie had never been so glad to leave a room. After Frankie made a hasty exit, Hannibal turned his attention to Savanah.
“You’ve been through hell, haven’t you?” he asked softly.
“I’m still there. Can’t get out. Can I have a another drink?” she asked again.
Hannibal studied the woman on the couch. He couldn’t help but feel guilty. Even though the team had not known about her until nine years ago, and they had never been able to find her after that fateful night, he had still felt responsible for her. Colonel Morrison had been a good friend. Hannibal was sure he was looking down disapprovingly on all of them. He moved over to
where she was and knelt down in front of her. “Come here.” he said just as softly as before as he opened his arms wide.
It was Savanah’s turn to study the man in front of her. It occurred to her as she looked around they had all gotten older. Suddenly the past year caught up with her, and she let out a sob. She threw herself into the Colonel’s outstretched arms and wept loudly.
“It’s o.k. sweetie. It’s o.k. Let it out. Just let it all out. We’re here. We’ll make it better.” Hannibal gently rocked her back and forth as the sobs continued. The others looked on sadly. She finally stopped crying enough to talk.
“Oh my God. I thought you were all dead. Stockwell never told me. He never told me…”
“Stockwell can be a class A ass sometimes.”
“You don’t know the half of it.” She sat up and rubbed her eyes and sniffed. She grinned when four handkerchiefs were held out to her. She took one of them and blew her nose. Murdock couldn’t help but snicker at the look Face gave when she handed back to him.
“Thanks,” he said dryly.
“I guess he’s just worried about me. I guess he also still has some guilt about my mother’s death.”
“Why would he have guilt about that?” B.A. asked.
Savanah looked at them with surprise. “You mean you don’t know? He didn’t tell you?” They all shook their heads no. She took a deep breath. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but he was there the day they buried my father. He had to leave early because of some business he needed to attend to. He blames himself for leaving my mother alone.”
“Why should he have stayed with your mother?” Murdock asked for the rest.
“Because my mother was his daughter. His only child.”
They all stared at her as if she had just said aliens were coming to destroy the earth.
“Could you run that by us one more time?” Face asked.
“Colonel Sam Morrison, my father, was married to Anna Stockwell. My mother. General Hunt Stockwell is my maternal grandfather.”
“I think I need a drink,” Murdock muttered.
“You didn’t know Murdock? I would have thought with your connections to my family…” her voice trailed off as she noticed Murdock violently shaking his head. It was too late. The rest of the team was now looking at Murdock for answers.
“It was a long time ago, Colonel.”
“Morrison and I both had the same bosses. We were both with the company. We did a few missions in Vietnam under Stockwell’s orders. Unfortunately, we never had much time to make small talk. Too many guns pointed at us. In a way, one of the reasons he was so happy ya’ll agreed to his little deal was because he knew I would follow.”
Hannibal nodded. He knew when Murdock felt like telling them more, he would. For now, he knew all he needed to know. He turned his attention back to Savanah. “You need a hot shower, some home-cooked food, and a warm bed for a good night’s rest. We’ll worry about the rest in the morning.” Savanah nodded and headed for the upstairs. She turned around and looked at the men. “Thanks guys,” she said softly. “For everything.”
About an hour later, after everyone had turned in but Hannibal, the front door opened softly. Hannibal turned and was surprised to see Stockwell standing there. To his credit, Hannibal thought he looked like shit.
“Where is she?” the man asked softly.
“I assume she told you.”
Stockwell started up the stairs with Hannibal following him. He knocked softly on the door. “Savanah?” he asked quietly. He looked at Hannibal uncomfortably. Hannibal never moved. “It’s…It’s grandpa. Can I come in?” They heard the lock being turned and the door opened slightly. Savanah was standing there in a pair of flannel boxer shorts and a long sleeved t-shirt borrowed from Face and Murdock. Hannibal could tell she had been crying again. Her hair was still wet from her shower. She sniffed and rubbed her nose on her sleeve. It occurred to Hannibal how young she looked standing there. She looked at Stockwell and said in a small voice, “Grandpa? I’m sorry.” She started crying in earnest again. “I’m sorry I failed you.” Stockwell took his granddaughter in his arms, unable to control his own tears. “No honey. I failed you.” They went into Savanah’s bedroom. Hannibal closed the door to give them some privacy and walked down the hall to his own room, shutting his door softly. As he got ready to go to bed, he realized he had just gained a whole new respect for the General.
Face watched as Murdock got ready for bed. Murdock pulled on a pair of blue flannel pajama bottoms and crawled into bed. He leaned over to kiss Face good night and stopped when he noticed Face pull away. “What’s wrong?”
“Bullshit. Tell me.”
Face looked at Murdock for a long moment and asked softly, “What else are you not telling me?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you know how stupid I felt tonight? Hearing you and Morrison had worked for Stockwell? Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
“And how did you want me to start that conversation? Oh Face, by the way, I worked on covert operations with the man you were convicted of killing, and the man who now holds you hostage was one of my bosses. Please pass the salt.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Tell me about it.”
“What else are you not telling me?”
Murdock sat up in bed. “Where is this coming from? What do you mean ‘what else are you not telling me’? What do you want to know?”
“I don’t know!” Face got up out of bed and walked over to the window. “I don’t know,” he repeated softer.
Murdock sighed and hung his head. He swung his feet over the edge and sat up. “Face, there is a lot I haven’t told you. For a lot of reasons. Would you like to hear them?”
“I think I would.”
“O.K. Number one, there is a lot I’m not allowed to talk about. Even now. Number two, there are things even if I wanted to talk about, I don’t remember. Number three, I would rather just forget that whole part of my life. There were not very many good times then. But for you, I’ll tell you what you want to know. So Face, what do you want to know?”
Face stared at the pilot. “Did you kill Morrison?”
“Did you kill Morrison?”
“No! Why would you ask me that?”
“Because it came up at the trial.”
“No. I did not kill Morrison. Anything else?” The hurt was evident in his voice.
“Did you love me in Vietnam?”
Face froze at the simple answer. Not that it was short, but that it was quick.
“Why did you stop our relationship when we got back to the states?”
“Face, I hardly remember my first year back. You were there, remember?”
“Good. Because I don’t.”
“You really didn’t answer my question.”
Murdock sighed and hung his head. He knew this would come one day. He knew Face needed to know, but deep down it still hurt. “Face, I was such a nutcase back then. I couldn’t even dress myself at the time.” He shuddered as he remembered those days. He had always been cold, always felt alone. He looked at Face with tears in his eyes. “Besides, you didn’t want me then. I
could tell. The first time you broke in to visit me…there I am – drooling all over the place, my eyes glazed over, talking to people and things who weren’t there, shaking from the shock treatments, using the bathroom on myself, bedsores all over.
Face looked at him in shock as Murdock drew a ragged breath, wiped his eyes, and continued.
“The first time I saw you, I was in restraints. They were so tight. I was so cold. All I had was a pair of thin, disposable hospital pajamas, a sheet you could read the paper through, and no blanket in sight. The doctors were overworked, the nurses scarce, and the orderlies uncaring. Most of the orderlies were civilians. They didn’t want to look after a bunch of crazies who had gotten that way from a war that they had protested. They would abuse us you know.” He whispered the words as he was taken back to that time. “There was one in particular. I don’t even remember his name. Maybe I never knew it. He was so rough with me. I remember one time he came into my room to put me in some clean pajamas. He was late that morning, and I had a little – accident.” He glanced at Face, embarrassment in his eyes. “He got mad because he had to clean it up. When he was trying to dress me, he got frustrated and wrenched my arm back. Dislocated my shoulder. He didn’t want to get in trouble, so he just took it upon himself to put it back in place. God, that hurt. I screamed and he told them I had just started screaming for no reason. Of course the nurse believed him. I was, after all, a mental patient. Made sense to her. She just gave me another shot of something and put me back in my restraints. I finally passed out from the pain. Then, a few days later, you came to visit. So young, full of life, full of hurt. All I wanted you to do was hold me. Tell me it was going to be o.k. But you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t even touch me, not even hold my hand. You had your own problems, you didn’t need mine. So,” Murdock drew a deep breath and spread his hands out and then dropped them to the bed again, “I convinced myself I had made it up. All of it. Just something else my mind had created so I could hurt even worse later. Then, you started dating so many girls, I let you go. I decided my final act of love to you would be letting you go. I decided I would just live with being you friend, if that’s all I could be. You moved on and I was left with my memories.”
Face stood at the window, shocked at what Murdock had just told him. He knew Murdock had been in bad shape at the time, but he had no idea how bad. It all started making sense. Murdock needed his lover, his soulmate, and his soulmate had turned away. In Murdock’s mind, he had turned away. “Murdock, they wouldn’t let me near you. They made me promise I wouldn’t go near you. That was the only way I could see you.” Face watched as Murdock slowly rocked back and forth. “Oh my God, baby. I am so sorry. So sorry. He came and knelt in front of Murdock taking his hand and kissing it.
Murdock brought Face’s hand up to his face where the tears were streaming down. “I was so cold. I was so cold,” he sobbed.
Face sat down on the bed and took Murdock in his arms as his lover wept. “I’m here. I swear I will always be here. I will always love you.” Murdock shivered in his arms. “Oh baby, your skin is like ice right now. Come here.” He helped him under the covers and held him close. “I’ll keep you warm. I swear I’ll keep you warm. If I had known, I would have killed that orderly.”
Murdock looked at Face in surprise. There were tears streaming down the con man’s face. They held onto each other for long minutes. Finally they wiped each other’s eyes and smiled. Face gently kissed Murdock on his nose, and Murdock stroked his lovers cheek. Their lips came together in a soft kiss. Face raised up and covered Murdock’s body with his own. They linked hands
and started kissing more passionately.
“I need you. You complete me. I love you so much. I just want you to know I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
“Murdock, you just told me all I need to know in that one statement.” Face felt Murdock’s erection through his pajamas. He reached down and stroked him through the material. “Can I warm you up in other ways?”
Face kissed Murdock and then kissed him down to the pants, blowing warm breath on him the whole way. He pulled the pants off of Murdock, and stood up for a moment to remove his own. He slipped back under the covers and continued kissing his lover. Murdock moaned when Face gently sucked on his adam’s apple. He smiled against his skin and moved down his chest, stopping
to suck his nipples. Murdock gasped at the sensations. He threaded his fingers through Face’s hair. Face finally reached his destination, and took the hard shaft in his mouth. He sucked and gradually took all of Murdock in his mouth. Murdock’s head came up off the pillow at the feeling.
“Face?” he gasped.
“I want you in me.”
Face reached over to the bedside table and removed the lube from the drawer. He squeezed some out and rubbed it between his fingers to warm it up. Murdock made a move to turn over and Face stopped him. “I want to see you.” Murdock nodded and relaxed again. Face gently eased one finger into the Captain. When he felt the muscles relax, he added another finger. He began
to stretch and prepare Murdock. Murdock was writhing beneath him wanting more. Face bent Murdock’s knees and placed them against his chest. He put some lube on his own throbbing organ, and begin to gently insert himself into his soulmate. Soon, he could feel Murdock right against him. Murdock lowered his legs and wrapped them around Face. They laid still for a moment, enjoying the feel of each other. Face then began to move slowly inside of him. He wanted this to last forever. He looked at Murdock and smiled. He had his head tilted back, his eyes closed and his mouth slightly open. He readjusted and hit Murdock’s sensitive part. Murdock’s eyes opened in surprise and he let out a moan. “Oh Face. Oh I love you so much.”
“I love you, too.” Face started a rhythm as old as time and the two lovers were soon panting into each others mouths. Face felt Murdock tense and warm cum all over his stomach. Face smiled and with three more strokes, he was lost. The two of them laid there shivering from aftershocks. Face removed himself from Murdock and snagged a towel from the floor to clean them both
off. He put his arms around Murdock and they laid on their sides. Face was drifting off to sleep when Murdock spoke.
Face opened his eyes and looked out the picture window. “I’ll be damned. It is. Hey, we might have a white Christmas!”
“Want to go outside and make a snowman tomorrow?”
“Only if you’ll warm me up when we come back in.”
Face laughed and pulled Murdock closer as they drifted off to sleep in each others arms.
Frankie walked into the gym. He could hear Aretha Franklin blaring from the speakers, and he saw Savanah in the corner giving hell to a punching bag. He walked over and watched her for a while before she realized he was in the room. “Hey Frankie.” she smiled.
“Hey. What are you doing?”
“Practicing my kickboxing. It helps get rid of frustration and anger. I have a lot of anger.” she laughed at her own joke.
“Wish I could do something like that.” he said it so softly, Savanah wasn’t even sure if she heard him correctly.
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, when the guys start fighting, I usually end up in a corner somewhere. I suck at fighting. Besides, it isn’t like I’m a real member of the A-Team.”
“Well, I could teach you some simple moves if you wanted me to. At least then you might be able to hold your own in a fight.”
“Go change. I’ll wait here for you.”
While Frankie went to change clothes, Savanah shut off the music and thought about his last remark. ‘So that explains it. He thinks they don’t want him here. Not far from the mark from what I’ve seen. Definitely have to talk to Hannibal about this.’ Frankie returned in a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. “Ready Frankie?”
Savanah worked with the man for about two hours. She had to admit she was impressed by how fast he learned. “Way to go Frankie! Next time ya’ll get in a fight, maybe you can kick a little ass yourself!”
Frankie laughed. “I’ll just settle for not hiding in the corner.”
They talked for a few more minutes, and then Savanah made her excuses. “Gotta go Frankie. I promised Carla I would do some Christmas shopping with her today.”
“Better get me something good. How about Carla?”
“Cute Frankie. I’ll be sure to tell her you said that.” she teased as she walked out of the gym. On her way out, she bumped into Hannibal. “Oh hey!”
“Hey Savanah. Working out?”
“Just finished. Frankie came in, and I taught him some kickboxing moves.”
“That’s good. Somebody needs to teach him something.”
“Yeah…yeah. Hey Hannibal, can I talk to you about something?”
“You know, somebody does need to teach Frankie. He feels real bad about ya’ll being here and everything. Maybe if you spent a little time with him, it might make things a little better. He picked up real fast on what I taught him today.”
Hannibal chewed on a cigar while he thought about this. “Sometimes I forget how young he really is.”
“Remember the guys? They were nothing but raw recruits when you got a hold of them. Just think Hannibal. You have another one to teach.”
Hannibal grinned at her teasing. “I’ll take him to the practice range tomorrow. Thanks Savanah.”
“Reminding me I’m supposed to be a leader.”
Savanah smiled and walked across the lawn, leaving Hannibal to his workout. She was rounding a corner when she heard a noise. Her curiosity up, she walked to the back of the barn. She peeked around the corner and found the source of the noise.
THUNK! “Son of a…”
CLANK! “Well, its about time!”
She watched with amusement as Murdock threw another baseball at the tin cans he had set up. She remembered reading one time that he had played baseball in college. ‘Looks like he was a pitcher.’ she thought to herself. She walked away, leaving Murdock to his fun and never once letting the pilot know she had been watching him. She walked into the house and up to her
room. As she walked past Face and Murdock’s room, she noticed Face was standing out on the balcony, intently watching something. She quietly walked into the room, and looked down. To her amusement, she realized Face was watching Murdock practice his pitching. “Does he know you can see him?”
Face jumped at the sound of her voice. “No. And I don’t plan on telling him.” he grinned shyly. “I love watching him when he doesn’t know I’m looking.”
“Mmm.” She watched Face watch Murdock for another minute and then casually said, “I heard you two talking last night.”
Face turned and looked at her sharply. “And?”
“And I’m glad you two are talking. I think it will do both of you some good. Sometimes it can be painful to remember. But I can guarantee that it hurts worse to try to forget.”
Face softened his features. “I sometimes forget you were a shrink.”
“Yeah. So do I.”
They turned and watched Murdock a few more minutes. They noticed he was rubbing his shoulder. “That’s the one he was shot in. I almost lost him that day,” Face said softly.
“I better go get the heating pad. Looks like he’s going to need it.”
“You really do love him, don’t you?”
Face turned and looked at Savanah, surprise clearly written on his face. “What would make you ask that?”
“Just wondering. Why are you so defensive?”
“I’m not! Well, maybe I am. But I have a right to be! You just blatantly questioned my love for Murdock. Why would you do that?”
“I don’t know. Maybe because Christmas is coming, and my husband just left me. Kind of makes you question everything.”
Face nodded. “Well, just for the record I am totally in love with Murdock…and your husband sounds like an s.o.b. who didn’t deserve your love to begin with.”
Savanah smiled softly. “Thanks Face.”
“Anytime.” And with one of his prize winning grins, Face walked out of the room looking for a heating pad.
Savanah walked back to her room and laid down on the bed. She looked around the room and let her mind wander. ‘I need a cigarette.’ she thought to herself. Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on her door. “Come in.”
“You’re needed in the study.”
“Well…” Carla hesitated, “Blackbird is. Are you up to it?”
Savanah looked at Carla. “Carla, I think that is exactly what I need.” She got up off the bed and followed Carla to the study. A few minutes later a chopper took off with three agents…and Savanah.
Face and Murdock were in the kitchen fixing some coffee when they heard the chopper leaving. “Ten bucks Savanah was on that bird.”
“I’m not taking that bet. Besides Face, what do you want for Christmas?”
“I don’t know. Anything is fine.”
“Oh come on Facey. We play this game every year. I ask you what you want, you say anything is fine, and I end up getting you something you hate.”
Face looked at Murdock with love in his eyes. “I never hate anything you get me. Because it’s from you.”
“Well then this year, tell me what to get you so that won’t be the only reason you like the gift.”
Face shrugged and said, “Whatever you get is fine, Murdock. Really I’m not picky.”
“Damn, Face. Did you give Santa this much trouble when you were little?”
“Santa doesn’t make it a habit to visit orphanages.” Murdock sat down as Face continued quietly. “I never got much for Christmas growing up. I sure didn’t get to ask for anything. I just took the hand me downs nobody else wanted and accepted them with a smile. I use to receive a stocking on Christmas Day. It usually had some nuts, hard candy and a couple of pieces of fruit in it. Not much else. I remember one year it had two toy soldiers in it.” Face grinned at the memory. “I played with those soldiers for hours.
They fought more wars than anyone could have ever imagined. One day another kid stole one of the soldiers. Can’t fight too many wars with just one soldier. So,” he shrugged, “that was Christmas.” Murdock looked at Face with tears in his eyes. At that moment he saw the hurt child in Face. “Was there ever anything you wanted for Christmas when you were growing up?” Face
smiled. “When I was twelve, I wanted a Red Rider B.B. gun. I dreamed about it for months. I kept thinking that maybe if I was good enough, I would get one. Well true to form I woke up Christmas morning to just a stocking. No gun. When we went back to school after the holidays, I got so upset hearing the other kids talk about the wonderful things they had got for Christmas, I did something I am ashamed of to this day.”
Face turned red and muttered, “I told them I had got a Red Rider B.B. gun from Santa.”
Murdock would have laughed out loud if it hadn’t been so sad. “Did they ever find out the truth?”
“Yeah. Now that was embarrassing. It’s one of the few scams I have ran in my life that I got caught on. Another kid from the orphanage called my bluff, and I never totally did live that down.” Face sat quietly staring out into space for a minute with Murdock watching him closely. The pilot wanted to say something to him, but just wasn’t sure what to say. “Well!” Face said,
rubbing his hands on the front of the jeans and standing up, “why don’t we finish decorating the tree?” Murdock nodded and followed him out of the room.