WARNINGS: Character Death / Angst / Suicide
STORY TYPE: Third Person
CATEGORY: Angst, Drama
LENGTH: One-offDISCLAIMER: The characters are property of Cannell and company.
They all knew it was going to happen sooner or later.
Hannibal stood, pacing the small cell, wishing he had a cigar and almost vomiting in the filthy darkness. Face lay half awake on a grimy bunk, watching a constant drip of water. Murdock sat in the corner, his hands clasped together watching the others intently and BA was quiet and withdrawn.
Face sighed, trying to close his eyes and sleep. But the pain he felt every time he closed his eyes was too immense. He tried to clear his thoughts, and kept remembering the plan that had been their downfall.
Two days earlier, the team had been on an 'easy' Stockwell mission, suicide no less, but nothing they hadn't done before. As Hannibal called the team to a hasty departure after the information about selling weapons had been obtained, Face had noticed shadows in the darkness. He had turned to warn Hannibal about the intruders, but it was too late. With a sharp sound which took Face's breath away, he felt the sudden fire in his left leg. He'd been shot.
Watching the horrified expressions on Hannibal, Murdock and BA's face, Peck had told them to flee, spreading his hands wide to emphasise the point, and to come back for him later.
Hannibal had stared coldly at the others. Go or not go.
"They'll kill him if we don't get him out, man" BA said, moving back to where Face had fallen, determined to sling him over his massive shoulders and run him out of the dire situation, just like he had in 'Nam.
Only this wasn't 'Nam. And within moments, BA felt the cold metal of an enemy weapon in his back, a cold and militant voice telling him not to move. He had remained motionless, without thought, watching the Colonel. Waiting for the signal to move. Which never came.
They were hearded into the small cell, dank and grimy, crawling with rats. Two days later and the nights were as cold as ice. Face looked down at his leg to see the hidious infection creeping around the bullet wound, and up his leg.
Hannibal paced the cell, cursing the team's bad luck. It had only needed one time to go sour, only one time for Hannibal's legendary plans to go bad, and the team would be in dire straights. Worse still, there was no way out. Face was slipping in and out of a fever due to the infection in his leg. Murdock was glazed and expressionless, and BA seemed to have become completely numb.
"Okay guys, lets huddle around Face's bunk" Hannibal whispered, hearing the sounds of the enemy prepare the weapons that would be used to kill them the next day. And Hannibal had thought the trials had been bad. At least there was a plan there, some way to escape. Now there was none. The future looked very bleak for the four men.
Murdock got up, and walked over to Face, putting a reassuring arm on the younger man's shoulder. Face looked up dimly, his eyes watering from the pain of his leg, and smiled faintly.
BA rose and walked over numbly, and sat protectively beside Face, his strong arms circling the younger man, and drawing him into a sitting position.
"This time there is no way out" Hannibal whispered. "They are going to shoot us at dawn tomorrow, Stockwell won't be coming in to save us".
"Should we make a break for it?" Murdock asked Hannibal.
"How? Besides, if we did manage to get out, how would Face leave with us?" Hannibal asked.
Face looked feverishly at the three men "You guys go on, I'll be dead by dawn anyway".
The realisation hit BA, Murdock and Hannibal hard. Face was dying, and there was nothing they could do about it.
"We never left anyone alive in 'Nam Face" BA whispered, more like a promise to the young man.
Face smiled, and held out his hand to BA, who took it firmly within his own hand.
"So what are you thinking about, if you haven't got a plan?" Murdock asked, resigned.
"Remember when we talked a long time ago about what we'd do if we found ourselves caught and there was no way out" Hannibal asked.
The others sighed and remembered the POW camp vaguely, Hannibal's late night discussion of how they would rather kill themselves than let the VC have the pleasure in carrying out that final task.
"How we gonna do that man? Aint got no weapons in here" BA murmered.
Hannibal drew out a small vial from a sheath in a hidden leg pocket, which contained five small pills. The others looked at the pills, realising what they were.
"We go in as a team ....." Hannibal held out the palm of his hand, which contained the five pills, and each of the team took one, leaving two left in Hannibal's hand.
" ..... we go out as a team" Face mumbled dizzily, looking at his pill and smiling with a sad finality that broke Hannibal's heart.
Murdock nodded "Sounds a better way to go than what those guys are planning for us".
BA nodded. "Yeah, they'll be real pissed when they find us in the morning".
Hannibal smiled. "Then a couple of warm goodbye's, guys. Face you want to go first?".
Face nodded "Thanks for being there BA, you always sheltered me when things got real rough". Face melted into BA's embrace, his eyes blurred with tears. "Murdock? You were always my closest friend, and for an orphan, that meant the world to me - thanks". Murdock closed his arms for the last time around Face, feeling his heart break.
Face turned to Hannibal and held up the pill and grinned "Bottom's up!".
"See you on the other side kid, put a good word in for me when you get there" Hannibal embraced the young man, his eyes unusually bright.
Face sighed, and gave a final smile, his fever secondary to the sudden adrenelin rush he was feeling. He watched Hannibal's eyes for the last time, swallowing the pill quickly, before he had second thoughts.
A moment passed as Face eloquently shrugged at the three men watching him with expressionless steely faces, and then a sudden convulsion overtook him. Hannibal rushed forward to quiet him, pressing him against his heart, and felt Murdock and BA hold on to the two of them in an equally strong embrace.
"God ...." Face gasped, struggling for air, as he felt Hannibals arms wind around him, he looked up vaguely as he struggled to breathe and saw a single tear roll down Hannibal's left cheek. As his movements became more frantic and he choked out a few 'I Love You's', he finally eased, his eyes closing into a peaceful expression that would mark his death.
Hannibal turned to the others. "A good leader always goes in first and leaves last. But I can't bear to watch you both die".
"You go next then" BA urged gently.
Hannibal shook his head. "I'm a soldier, and I'll do what's right for my men. You next Murdock".
Murdock gulped, and turned to hug BA fiercely. "Ya big ugly mudsucka! I can just see you as an angel on a cloud playin' a harp!".
"Your crazy, foo'. When we get there, I'm gonna be chasing you all around heaven" BA promised, releasing Murdock with tears in his eyes.
"Adios Colonel" Murdock said, performing a crisp salute. "Think they have planes in heaven?".
Hannibal laughed as tears streamed down his face. "I hope so".
Murdock swallowed the pill immediately, laying quickly down next to Face before the convulsions started. Hannibal watched as Murdock stroked Face's hair gently, humming softly to the dead man.
The first convulsion knocked the wind out of Murdock and he fell off the bunk. He heard a flurry of feet as BA and Hannibal rushed to his side, and helped him lye next to Face.
Murdock looked at Hannibal with terrified eyes "I can't breathe ...." he choked.
Hannibal nodded "It won't last long, kiddo".
Murdock heaved violently, pulling Face's body closer, holding onto it with a terrifying force as he closed his eyes and felt his breathing ease .... and then stop.
Hannibal gasped and fell onto his knees. BA knelt beside him.
"You next Hannibal" BA said "Else I'll force it down yer throat".
Hannibal smiled proudly at BA's endless courage and took his hand. "Both of us, Sergeant. Both of us together".
BA grinned and lifted his pill as Hannibal lifted his as if they were toasting with glasses of champagne.
A silent understanding passed between them, the final goodbye, a silent farewell. BA and Hannibal had never needed words to express themselves. Their body language said it all. As they leant forward in a final embrace, both men swallowed the pills at the same time, and lay down on the floor, ready to combat each other's convulsions.
As Hannibal felt his breath leave him in the sudden convulsion that marked his end, he felt BA quiver beside him. Even though he was feeling the convulsions, he was determined to stay strong and solid, a base for Hannibal to lean on in his darkest hour.
The revelation that swept Hannibal's mind was amazing. It obliterated his discomfort as his mind raced and his heart beat furiously.
He suddenly realised how each of the team had worked together. Not that Face was a con artist, not that Murdock was a pilot and not that BA was the mechanic. But on a richer, deeper level that could not be explained with words.
BA was the base of the team, the strength. He was the solid foundation which allowed the others to grow and become successful with their own roles. Murdock was the child of the team, the wide eyed kid who had never grown up. He allowed the team to express their more childish aspects, allowing them freedom. Face was the gentle romeo of the team, the one who had taken the team to his heart, and inadvertantly led the team to his. He was the least shallow, always the helpful and gentle Prince who could be relied on.
And Hannibal? Hannibal thought of a way to describe himself. BA was shaking violently in his arms, and Hannibal had completely relaxed, letting his final thoughts wash over him.
Hannibal was a leader. He'd held these amazing people together. And leaders die, as do soldiers.
As Hannibal felt the pressure ease, and BA go limp beside him, he knew that his time had come. He had fulfilled his role. He had gone out last, let the others go first. He closed his eyes, and then felt nothing at all.
The morning sun rose over a hilltop, and the angry shouts of the criminal unit blended in with the morning cries of the birds as the four men were found, at peace, in rest .... together.