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TITLE: Not Long Left

AUTHOR: Hannurdock

RATING: PG-13

WARNINGS: Angst, Drama, Potential Character Death

STORY TYPE: Third Person

CATEGORY: Disaster, Drama

LENGTH: One-off

DISCLAIMER: The characters are property of Cannell and company.



Part 1: The Broadcast


The A-Team van sped along the highway, gaining speed on the straight road, steadily moving towards the motel in the distance. BA maneovered the van into the motel 's small car park, and the team dismounted, stretching.


Upon entering the motel, the team found all the occupants completely entranced with the television set. Thinking nothing of it, Face went to book a room. The men all looked up at the newcomers briefly, and then turned to the television set again.


Hannibal smiled, and walked over to a younger man "What's going on?".


"You don't know?" He turned to Hannibal, his eyes bright with unshed tears.


Hannibal looked worriedly towards the rest of the team, and focused his attention towards the television set.




****




NEWS REPORT EXCLUSIVE:

Ten minutes ago, heads of nations all over the world met to discuss the possibilities of a comet hitting the earth. The comet, described as five times the size of the one that wiped the dinosaurs from the earth, is heading on a direct collision path with the earth, further developments as they occur throughout the rest of the week. The military is rumoured to be sending some of the best pilots from all nations to eliminate this threat with nuclear weapons".




****




Hannibal looked at Murdock. "My god! What the hell?".


Murdock smiled "I should sign up for this tour, Colonel. My all time dream is seeing space, even if I die out there".


Hannibal looked away in shame, feeling only a protective urge to manipulate Murdock's statement, so he would remain with them. Murdock belonged with them, not in space. It was one place they would not be able to 'be there' if Murdock needed them.


"Hannibal, I belong there for this one" Murdock said, as if reading Hannibal's mind.


Face looked distraught. "How much time is there left, Colonel?".


"Three months before it hits" Hannibal said after looking at the figures on screen. "Not much time to say our goodbyes".


BA looked at Hannibal with fear "I gotta go see my mama, Hannibal. I gotta be with her".


Face turned and looked at BA, his eyes bright with tears "BA?". BA didn't hear, and he briefly gave Hannibal a quick hug - then turned away.


Hannibal nodded, his heart breaking as he watched BA leave instantly, and start up the van. "Good luck soldier" Hannibal said, his voice small and distant.


"I gotta go, I'll get a taxi. Head to the nearest military point" Murdock said softly. "That way I can ask to sign up". Murdock left the motel quickly, unable to say goodbye.


"Murdock?"Face said, his voice breaking with hurt. Murdock didn't hear Face at all and he turned away, breaking Face's heart instantly.


Hannibal watched the Captain leave. He had his own plans to make instantly. His family members he hadn't seen in years, he would visit them all now. He sat heavily at a table in the motel, a plan running through his mind. He had old friends to consider, places in America he hadn't seen yet.


"Hannibal?" Face whispered. Hannibal didn't hear, his mind dedicated to his plan.


The only person who stood shaking, and totally alone was Face. Murdock and BA hadn't even said farewell. His only family in the world hadn't even said goodbye, and he had no-one really to say goodbye to other than them. Feeling the abandonment keenly, Face walked outside to the corvette. He sat inside leaning his head against the steering wheel. He was all alone, left at the mercy of his own demons by the team he thought he could rely on with his life.


Seeing a ravine as deep and deadly as his prediciment, Face revved the engine. The car raced towards the ravine, and Face let his hands leave the wheel, lifting his arms high in the air. He cried out in wonder as he tipped his head back in total freedom, his tears flowing more freely than ever in his life, and said, more to himself than to the person addressed "Murdock, I CAN fly!".




****




Part 2: Hurt and Comfort


Face's eyes widened, as he slammed on the breaks instantly. A familiar black van with red detailing had drove into the way of the corvette.


"Face, what you doin' man?" BA yelled angrily, slamming the door closed and walking up to the corvette menacingly.


"Going for a ride" Face said through clenched teeth.


BA stood, his arms folded. "I didn't say goodbye, man. Just in case ..."


"I understand" Face nodded "Now can you move your van?"


Something cold and final in Face's voice made BA turn his attention to the ravine, and then back to the corvette. "What the hell were you gonna do?"


"What's going on?" Hannibal's calm and authoritative voice cut through and immediately the two men turned to the Colonel sheepishly.


"Face was taking a one way ticket to the bottom of this ravine" BA said coldly.


"Lieutenant?" Hannibal turned to the younger man.


Face simply shrugged his shoulders. "Its my choice"


"What's your choice, Face?" Hannibal asked, observing Face closely.


"Die now or when the comet strikes. I want out now"


"Don't be a coward" BA said, and immediately regretted the harsh words. Face had no family, and little past. He had no-one to rely upon in these sad final months.


Face was extremely hurt by BA's words, and he opened the door of the corvette, and swung a punch at BA. BA dodged easily, Face was too emotional to think and act straight. He wound his arms around Face gently, with enough pressure to stop him from getting away to throw another punch, however gentle enough not to hurt or injure the young man.


Hannibal started forward during the melee, his intentions to stop the Lieutenant before BA responded with full force. He was pleasantly surprised by BA's reaction.


"This is my only family, THIS HERE .... and its breaking up, all of it! I didn't have a chance to say goodbye ... not to Murdock ... not to BA .... not to you .... you ...." Face stopped, taking a few deep breaths, struggling slightly to free himself from BA's bear hug.


"Listen Face, we all acted like a bunch of jerks. Nothing was meant to hurt you, you know that. We had no right to forget you, not at such a devestating time" Hannibal looked at Face in the eyes, seeing the anger and hurt cloud his judgement. Face lashed out with a kick, and Hannibal dodged just in time. BA moved Face over to the corvette, and sat in the passenger side, his arm around Face's shoulders.


Face struggled to control his emotions, to steady the pain in his voice when he spoke. But his entire life was becoming to vivid for him to contain, frightening past memories flashed into his head. He felt Hannibal sit to his right and felt pinned in, almost claustrophobic.


"You want to tell us what your feeling, kid?" Hannibal asked, gently. He hated allowing his team to see the emotional side of his nature, but it was the only emotion Face would possibly understand at this moment, apart from anger.


"Alone ..... Seperated .... Abandoned ..... Used ..... Hurt, shall I go on?" Face said, clenching his teeth harder, grinding them together in anger and fear.


With each negative word, Hannibal felt as if he'd been stabbed with a knife through his heart. He leant forward, the situation demanding little consideration for rank, and took the Lieutenant into his arms, BA edged forward, his arm still on Face's shoulder, just in case.


Face just lay, his head resting on Hannibal's breast. He seemed more relaxed, with little desire to move away. Hannibal wondered how many moments like this Face had had during his life, with little or no support, without any love. Had anyone ever embraced Face in this manner? Apart from those women he took to his bed of course. Had he ever felt a safe, warm love which would shelter him and ask for nothing in return? An unconditional love? Hannibal doubted it. Face simply pushed people away before they came too close.


The only people close to Face were the team. Hannibal felt his face go red with shame. He had let one of the team down, severely.

Hannibal turned to BA with pleading eyes. "Maybe you could wait ... if only for a little while ..... just one more day or so, before you go see your mother"


BA nodded. "I can wait a week if you really need it. Face, do you want me to stay here with you for a week?"

Face nodded, his eyes closed, feeling secure. He had never expected another man to hold him so securely, least of all the Colonel. He suddenly didn't want to let go.


"So can I. I can wait a week" Murdock said sheepishly. Hannibal and BA turned to look at Murdock surprised. He was standing awkwardly, watching the entire scene "They aint enroling pilots until next week. They already have all the bods they need for the shuttles to go and blow up the comet. I'm going to be a helicopter pilot to help the military and police"


Hannibal sighed with relief, and looked down to see Face's lost expression. "See Face, the team isn't going anywhere ..... for now"


Face sighed, but could not face the thought of what would happen the week after they all left. He felt afraid suddenly.


Hannibal, noting the reason for Face's fear, immediately laid it to rest. "Whatever happens Lieutenant. We'll be standing side-by-side. I'm not leaving anyone behind ..... alone"




****




Part 3: Time flies when your having fun


Face felt the last week fly by so quickly he thought his heart would break. Hannibal had vowed to him he would not leave him. Yet Murdock and BA were going to leave soon, and there was nothing he could do to stop them.


It was a heavy moment when BA said goodbye to the team. He first embraced Hannibal, tightly into his large arms. The Colonel eventually drew back, his eyes misted realising it would be the last time he'd see BA if the comet hit the earth.


BA embraced Murdock next, took the tall and lanky man into his arms, and held on to what seemed an eternity. "Goodbye, crazy foo'" BA said fondly. Murdock just nodded, and pulled away, his eyes wet and heavy.


BA turned to Face, and sighed. A slight smile played upon his lips. "I love you, little one. Don't ever forget that"


Face embraced BA, his arms seeking the older man's embrace, like comfort in a storm. He was reluctant to pull away, and held on tightly to BA.


"Hey, come on. I gotta get a move on" BA growled, his voice tender and sad.


Face pulled away, and looked away from BA, not wishing him to see the tears. BA was too choked to say more, and left immediately, pulling away in the van.


"Time flies when your having fun" Face muttered wistfully, watching the van leave with helpless eyes.


Hannibal sighed "Time flies too fast"


Murdock looked at Hannibal and Face, grieving that he was about to leave them also. He looked into Hannibal's eyes. "I love you"


Hannibal pulled Murdock into a secure embrace "I love you too, C'ptn. You need us, we'll be there for you"


Murdock nodded and pulled away reluctantly turning to Face rapidly. "Love you too, muchacho. Don't go giving Billy a rough time while I'm gone"


"Billy?" Face asked confused.


Murdock handed him an empty leash. "He don't bite, but I want you to take him for now. Kinda like a goodbye gift, but meaning I'll be back one day very soon"


Face smiled and hugged Murdock quickly, then harder, refusing to let go. He began to cry softly, his shoulders shaking with hurt, his eyes wide open in fear.


"Come on Facey, I gotta go" Murdock said softly, drawing away gently so not to bruise the man he loved so dearly.


Face let go, ashamed by his reaction and watched Murdock hit the road, walking down the dusty path until he disappeared from sight.


Hannibal turned to Face. "Come on kid, we'll need to make a move by sundown. I'll drive the vette"


Face nodded and numbly tossed Hannibal the keys to the vette.


Hannibal smiled sadly, his loss greater than Face guessed. Half of him had been torn by the team leaving to do what they felt was right at this terrible time.


"Well, kid. Got any ideas what you'd like to do with your last days?" Hannibal asked, determined to split the days remaining equally between them.


"Its ridiculous" Face said looking at the floor.


"What?" Hannibal asked, prompting gently for a reply.


"I want to see Disney World" Face said. "I want the childhood I missed"


Hannibal was speechless for a moment and then embraced Face tenderly. "Then we'll go there for a month, Lieutenant. And you can be as young as you want to be. Lets both start again, right now"


Face nodded gravely "I think its about time"


"No Nam, nothing. You are my son, and we will go to Disney Land together. You and me. No history or bad memories keeping us back"


Face nodded weakly. "That's what I want"


Hannibal grinned, his mind decided. "Then lets do it"


"What about your relatives?" Face queried.


"They can all wait for now. This is far more important" Hannibal said, climbing into the drivers seat and indicated Face to sit in the passengers seat.


Face sighed and smiled as the corvette took off, leaving a trail of dust on the lonely road behind them. Both men had discovered how they wanted to live, with the little time left.




****




Part 4: The Road to Disney / Re-thinking a perfectly good strategy


Hannibal watched Face closely during the journey. He was cold and distant, not even the thought of Disney seemed to cheer him up.


"Want to tell me what's eating you?" Hannibal said finally.


Face sighed and turned away, looking miserable. "I can't believe this is all going to end soon".


Hannibal felt the edge to what Face was saying keenly. After all they'd seen, done .... and survived. A big rock was going to kill them all. "Nothing like a little irony, Lieutenant" Hannibal said at last.


Face nodded weakly, and turned to away to look out of the window. "Hannibal?"


"What?" Hannibal said, listening keenly.


"Lets scrap Disney and do something together, something like fishing or hiking or camping. I never did those with someone I considered my father ..." Face broke off.


Hannibal was sincerely touched. He leant his right hand across and squeezed Face's hand tightly, startling the young man. "As you want, I know a nice cabin not far from here set in lush surroundings, a river where we can go fish"


Face smiled, for the first time a hopeful look crossed his negative expression "I hope they stop the comet"


Hannibal shook his head gravely "If they do, it'll be a miracle.




****




Murdock sat amongst the other pilots and glanced around himself warily. No-one was talking or chatting, it didn't seem right to do so.


A young man appeared, walking briskly to the small group of pilots. He was dressed in military garb, and a dozen medals shone from his breast. He was a Colonel, and very young for his age to achieve that ranking "How many of you did tours in Nam?" He barked.


Murdock raised his hand, briefly looking around to see five other pilots raise their hands. Five!?? Then the cold realisation sank in. Most of these people were not military pilots, just people with a pilots licence. He shuddered, suddenly feeling very weak.


"You six will be providing air support for the military" The Colonel explained. How Murdock wished it were his own Colonel giving him orders right now. He felt like a traitor following anyone else's orders. However, it was correct that he should.


"Martial Law has been implemented in the largest cities, San Fransisco, New York, Los Angeles - we need strong pilots in these cities. Pilots who can fly as if they are still in the jungle, 'cause it IS a jungle now" The Colonel turned to his records, and indicated for another young man to come forward. "This is Captain Istabo from Russia, he will be training the private pilots"

Captsin Isabo walked forward "I will train you in three days, how to cope with miliary maneouvers on a civil scale".


Murdock's heart sank. So people were trying to get out of the cities? Why shouldn't they? Murdock prayed BA had made it to his mothers house.


"I will be leading the team of astronauts on their mission to destroy the comet" The Colonel explained. "So, I will not be giving you orders. Colonel Pernos will be your contact from here on in". The Colonel walked briskly out of the room, and a bald headed Colonel took his place, shooting orders to the military pilots. Murdock hardly heard a word. All he could think of was BA. He hoped and prayed the big man had made it.




****




BA studied the warzone around him contemptuously, as he crawled through a steady stream of traffic through the centre of Chicago. People were crying and pushing at each other. One man was shooting at people with a rifle, it was horrific, the degradement of humankind under threat of distinction.


BA sighed and finally made his way to his mothers home. Shocked and afraid he almost cried out when he saw the flat had been ruined and evacuated. He ran inside, shouting his mothers name, but she was no longer here. Cursing with tears running down his face, BA got back inside the van and drove to the nearest police station.




****




Part 5: Mama / The Meeting


BA walked inside, without fear of being recognised and walked up to the nearest officer. The officer cowered when he saw BA's size, and drew back a little. "Have all the residential houses been evacuated?"


"That's right, sir. All the residential areas were completely evacuated earlier in the week becuase of extreme violence". The officer said.


BA drew out a photograph of his mother. "This is my mother. She lived in one of the apartments. Can you tell me where she is?".

The officer nodded. "We have records on everyone".




****




At the same time that BA was frantically searching for his mother, a very important meeting was taking place in New York. A group of high ranking brass, mainly Generals and politicians sat around a table discussing the terrible outcome of a comet hitting the earth.


One of the generals raised his hand for silence. Everyone turned to him, dropping immediately their own conversations and waited for him to speak. He was a powerful and influential figure in the upper brass, and all eyes held either high regard or contempt.


"I believe we all know what must be done. We need to send a group of astronauts into space to eliminate the danger to Earth". The General said.


"But General Stockwell, we don't even know if a couple of nuclear bombs will destroy the entire comet" One of Stockwell's opposition said.


Stockwell smiled. "Of course. Scientists have calculated that not all of the comet will be destroyed, their will be a small fragment left which will have the power to take out a single country. I'm sure we all agree that is better than human kind's extinction".


"So, who goes up in the rocket?" Another man asked, one of Stockwell's followers.


"We select three astronauts who have had prior experience in space, we need a leader to co-ordinate the mission and a couple of pilots". Stockwell explained.


"Who have you got in mind?" Another smaller man asked, fighting to get his voice heard.


"The astronauts will be easy to fill, we already have six who have recently returned from a mission in space. I have one of the pilots already. By the name of Captain HM Murdock, flew several tours in 'Nam, completed missions that were deemed impossible by high ranking brass, and also overcame insanity. He's ideal". Stockwell passed around some photo's of Murdock.


"Where is he now?" A man piped up, he was used to being in charge and resented the hold Stockwell had over those present.


"Volunteered to assist the military in evacuating civilians from violent areas of cities". Stockwell explained. Smiling to himself he went on "So you see gentlemen, your only option is to so things ....... my way".


The men nodded around the table, and got up to leave. Stockwell turned to Carla, sitting to his left taking notes. "Bring Captain Murdock to me immediately".


Carla nodded and left the room, and passed on Stockwell's instructions to Abel 5 and Abel 6.


Stockwell sat at the table still as the room emptied, and smiled at Murdock's photo "So you escaped my control, you and your A-Team. But not for long .......".




****




Part 6: Finding themselves


Face checked out the cabin, and turned to Hannibal, who was readying the fishing gear. "Shall we make a move, Colonel?".

Hannibal turned to Face and smiled gently. "Call me dad".


Face grinned, and together himself and Hannibal left the cabin to catch some lunch.




****




BA waited impatiently for the officer to return. Finally, the young man returned and passed BA a small sheet of paper with an address on it.


"Mrs Baracus is safe in one of the new shelters we've erected. Its twice as safe as the apartments, to cater for the blast of the comet. She's in apartment 202".


BA smiled happily and left the station, getting into the van and driving to the shelter - his optimism returning with the brightness of the new day.




****




Murdock wondered why he'd been called to see Stockwell. He wondered whether to make a break for it, but Abel 5 and Abel 6 were keeping a tight leash. Once aboard Stockwell's private plane, Murdock felt very uneasy.


Stockwell stood up as Murdock entered the room, and did the most surprising thing Murdock did not expect at all. He saluted the Captain. Murdock saluted back.


"Captain, I have a mission for you if you choose to accept. Its a valuable mission, and will save the entire planet" Stockwell said bluntly, not even attempting to shield Murdock from the seriousness of the whole affair.


"Geez, this sounds like a mission impossible episode" Murdock said sarcastically. "What do you need me to do?".


"I would like your expertise as a pilot aboard the shuttle that will destroy the comet" Stockwell said.


Murdock felt his heart leap, it was the moment he'd been waiting for. An opportunity to go into space. Every pilot he had ever known had harbored a desire to do that, himself being no exception. Eagerly shaking Stockwell's hand he accepted without a moment's doubt.


"Count me in" Murdock said.




****




Part 7: Shuttle Mission


Murdock looked around himself at the 'team' he was about to leave earth and save the planet with. He suddenly felt very old, looking at these twenty five year old boys, who were trying to act hard in front of him and failing miserably. Each one of them idolised him, knowing he had flew the A-Team in Nam, and been a Thunderbird. All of them thought he was the best man for the job, and accepted him into their little group instantly.


Murdock whistled, listening to their swaggering bravado, trying not to yawn.


"Hey Captain, tell us what happened when you were in the CIA" A young pilot called Davis asked suddenly, drawing all eyes at once to the scrawny brown eyed pilot.


"What do you want to know about?" Murdock asked casually.


"Did you do any undercover work, you know, spy stuff?" Davis asked sarcastically.


Murdock smiled viciously. "You'd be surprised what goes on under the curtain, kid. Sometimes its best not to know".


"Oh come on" Davis encouraged, ignoring the glint of anger in Murdock's eyes.


"You want to know?" Murdock hissed, leaning forward. "I worked in a special unit that liaised with the Thunderbirds. I was never really in the CIA, just a fraction. Nothing special".


Davis sat back, visibly distressed by the simplicity of Murdock's words.


Under his breath Murdock muttered "Good thing I never told them about Area 51 ...."




****




The shelter was cold and uncomfortable as Mrs. B stationed herself near the door. Her motherly instincts told her that BA was near.


As her son entered the shelter, Mrs. B felt her heart leap. Within a moment, BA was in her arms.




****




Face whistled happily to himself. Fishing had never seemed so fun, and with Hannibal by his side, idly chatting about missed opportunities and how they should have done this more, Face felt home.


It was Hannibal who noticed the bright light in the sky first. He nudged Face at his side and Face looked up in astonishment.


Within a second, half of the scenery about them was destroyed by a ball of fire which knocked them behind the rocks they were sitting on. Face felt the heat of the fire and the despair in his voice broke Hannibal's heart "What's going on?".


Hannibal held his son closer, unable to give an answer and prayed that the burning fires would soon stop. Suddenly the answer to Face's question dawned on him. "Its a meteor shower. Hold on Face, it can't last much longer".


Face nodded, but the destruction around them was evident. He wondered how much longer they would be able to survive.




****




Murdock was bundled into the astronauts suit and was visibly uncomfortable. The other astronauts around him were as terrified as could be imagined, their hands shaking with their fear. Murdock, however, was a tower of strength and the boys leaned on him for guidance.


Murdock barely recollected the events that followed. The short ride to the shuttle, the soft hum of a nearby aircraft's engine, the sound of a dog barking off base. These were the things he was going to try and protect by destroying the meteor / comet. A sad thought descended upon the crazy pilot suddenly. He wasn't even sure if he would return.


The countdown echoed around his ears. His body was securely strapped in the chair, his head back against the head rest. He closed his eyes and prayed there would be no malfunction.


A blast of fire caught Murdock's attention in the corner of his eyes. He leant forward to hit abort but it was too late. The shuttle was rising and he was powerless to stop it. He closed his eyes and prayed his death would be swift.




****




Part 8: Fire


Stockwell sighed deeply to himself. They had been too late to stop the comet from crashing into earth, yet the earth's atmosphere had fragmented the comet and small pieces now hit the planet's vulnerable surface.


He turned to his computer and looked at the computer screen. The message on screen made his grimace turn into a slight smile.


Col. John Hannibal Smith. Status, Fugitive. Subject terminated due to meteor shower. Lt. Templeton Faceman Peck. Status, Fugitive. Subject terimated due to meteor shower. Capt. H M Murdock. Status, Citizen. Subject died in shuttle launch. Sgt. Bosco Baracus. Status, Citizen. Subject died in Los Angeles Shelter.


Carla opened the door and looked at Stockwell severely. "The president is on the phone. He wants to speak to you about why you didn't order the shuttle mission sooner".


Stockwell smiled and shook his head. "Carla. Please close the door on your way out".


Carla glanced at Stockwell in disgust one last time and closed the door.


"See you in hell, Smith" Stockwell muttered whilst loading his small pistol. When he had loaded the weapon and clicked the safety off, Stockwell put the gun to his head.


Carla heard the shot and immediately ran into the room. Her screams echoed around the room as she saw Stockwell, dead. Her sobbing eyes fell to the note he had left before he had committed suicide. Carla picked the note up and read it, her eyes wet with tears.


"My beloved Carla. My apologies for this abrupt departure. I fear that I could no longer live with the guilt on my conscience. The comet was detected months in advance of the warnings, but the agency kept this a secret. They also knew the comet would fragment upon impact, and calculated the exact location of the first few fragments. Each one of those fragments has killed a member of The A-Team. The army now has the blood they wanted on their hands, but no longer on mine. With my death I wash my hands. It is over. S".




****




Hannibal looked around himself in dismay. Helping Face to his feet, Hannibal noticed a trickle of blood from the Lieutenant's forehead. "Are you okay, kid?".


"Yes" Face answered, stumbling forward.


"We were damn lucky these rocks were here. We'd have been burnt to a crisp otherwise" Hannibal said gravely, looking at the damaged area, the trees destroyed.


"Why the hell aren't we dead?" Face asked, looking at the chaos and destruction.


"We must have a guardian angel" Hannibal said softly, signalling to Face. "Let's get out of here before the authorities turn up".




****




Part 9: Truth before Darkness


Murdock heard the shouts and saw beams of light, probably from torches directed into the twisted metal of the collapsed shuttle. He tried to move but his legs were caught.


He tried to look around himself for the other pilots. "Muchacho's, can you hear me? Anyone alive in here?".


Murdock heard a faint groan and saw two of the pilots dazed and bruised, but otherwise alive.


"Hold on guys, help will soon be here" Murdock promised as his vision faded and he became unconscious.




****




BA and his mother heard the explosion, and hastily made their ways to the exit. Before them was a smouldering crater, however the shelter was untouched.


BA and Mrs. B joined in the songs praising God for their spared lives.




****




Face and Hannibal made their way back to the cabin, both dazed and bleeding slightly but otherwise alright.


"Let's get that wound sorted out" Hannibal said authoritatively, guiding Face who was still dazed and shaking, over to a chair. Once he was seated, Hannibal searched for the first aid kit and sat beside Face dabbing at the thin trail of blood gently.


"We're so lucky" Face said, wide eyed and in shock.


Hannibal shook his head "Not luck. Some things are part of a destiny we can't control. Why don't you go over to the bed and lie down for a while, try and sleep. You are really shook up".


Face nodded and walked unsteadily over to the bed. Once his eyes were closed he slept for the rest of the day and part of the night.


Hannibal meanwhile found the small portable radio he always carried, and tried to tune into any station.




****




Part 10: Call it Destiny.


Murdock was barely aware of the constant flashes of light around him. He tried to mumble something but couldn't even find the energy to speak. He felt a strong hand grasp his own. The hand was firm and gentle, but very, very strong. He knew at once it was BA. The hand released his own and he felt a mask slid over his face.

Merciful darkness took him at once.




****




Murdock awoke and blinked twice. "Hey BA" he murmered.


BA walked over to him, as did Mrs. B. "How ya doin', lil bro".


"I feel godammned awful BA. What happened?" Murdock asked, trying to speak as best as he could under the circumstances. His words slurred.


"You were in a crash in the shuttle, Murdock. Its hurt you quite bad. I was horrified to hear it on the news broadcast and came to the hospital straight away".


"Hannibal and Face?" Murdock asked weakly.


BA and Mrs B. exchanged glances.


"I don't know, Murdock. I haven't heard from them in days now". BA said softly. "Stockwell was in on this from the beginning, engineered the comet crash to suit his own needs. He left a note for Carla explaining it all".


"Left a note?" Murdock asked confused.


BA shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah, its here. Murdock ....... Stockwell is dead".


"Dead?" Murdock breathed. "Let me see the letter ......".




****




Hannibal stuck his thumb up and hissed as the car went by, not even bothering to slow down. Face walked with his head down, not even attempting to stop the cars which would every-so-often come along the road.


"I don't know why your even bothering, Hannibal" Face whined. "Murdock was killed in the shuttle. It was on the radio. And our cars been totalled. That means we have no transport, so even if we wanted to get to that hospital to see his dead body, we've got a three week trip in front of us. He'll be buried by the .....".


"SHUT UP, Lieutenant!" Hannibal yelled loudly. "This is all my fault. I should have guessed this was some sordid attempt by the government to silence us! If Murdock is dead, I'll never forgive myself!".


"Easy Hannibal" Face whispered timidly. "You weren't to know. Murdock wanted to go his own way on this one".


Hannibal sighed. "I know Face, but something tells me this was a setup. And if it is, there will be hell to pay. Murdock's death won't go unavenged!".


Face sighed and watched dejectedly as Hannibal thumbed another car. This time the car slowed and stopped.


Hannibal smiled when he saw who was behind the wheel. It was David Clarke, a former client.




****




Murdock was feeling more ill by the second. He had thrown up twice and his head was throbbing. His ribs ached and his arm was hurting like he'd never felt in his life. He was in absolute agony. As he thrashed around he felt a gentle pressure on his arm. It was soothing and intent on taking away the pain. He felt unconsciousness sweep over him once more, and sighed in contentment as he felt the hand slip away from his arm.


"Face ......" he mumbled deliriously.


"I'm here, Murdock". came the reply.


"What happened?" Murdock slurred.


"Hush now. I'll tell you when your better".


"Hmmmmmm, Facey ....... didn't ever get to tell ..... you guys ..... what you meant to ..... me".


"We already know Murdock. Just try and rest".


But Murdock was already asleep.




****




Hannibal paced the hospital corridor as Face walked out of Murdock's room, his face ashen. BA and Mrs. B were sat together on a couch. David sat on a chair, watching the three men, who had once taken the time to save him and his family's life, in awe. He was concerned about Murdock, the lanky and insane pilot who could pull the team out of any situation with a good chopper.


Mrs. B was dozing on BA's shoulder, her eyes streaked with tears. Murdock was like a son to her, and to think of Murdock in pain was almost more than she could bear. A choked tear escaped her, and BA hugged her to him more tightly.


Face sat heavily on a chair and shook his head when Hannibal gestured. The silent question answered before BA or Mrs B. had the chance to notice. Silently, Hannibal gathered his courage and walked into the pilot's room, closing the door behind him.


Face let his head fall gracefully into his hands. He shook his head desperately, and then cleared his thoughts and repressed the sob that was eventually going to release itself and shake his body with the pain he was feeling deep inside. A single tear was threatening to escape at the corner of his eye. With a deft motion, he slapped away the tear before anyone would notice. He would not cry, not for Murdock. Honouring the pilot in his last hour was a test of his strength. He knew the pilot better than any of his friends, and knew that heartbreak would be what Murdock would least want. He bravely stood up and walked over to talk to David in a hushed voice to break the foreboding silence.


Hannibal sat next to Murdock and sighed. "Its come to this has it? All our running, all our escaping impossible situations, all our good times ... and our bad. Its come to this. I would gladly have been court martialed, had I known the outcome of this. Its tragic we are going to lose you. I can feel you slipping away from us .... and I can't help you through it. Its not like you being captured, or being shot, this time there is little chance you are going to pull through ...." Hannibal reached out, and placed Murdock's hand securely in his own. "If I had only known what Stockwell was planning. If I had only the foresight to consider all the options. If only".


Murdock sighed a little, the small heart monitor growing weaker by the second.


"Take our love with you. You will ..... always be part of the team. I promise that. We will be thinking of you always, Murdock".


Hannibal got up slowly, and kissed Murdock's head gently. A single tear rolled down his cheek, and onto Murdock's forehead.


The heart monitor suddenly became one continuous note, and Hannibal heard the running of doctor's around him. He was yanked viciously off Murdock, as the doctor's surrounded him and began to pump his chest vigorously. He yelled out Murdock's name as he was thrown outside the room, and continued to shout. "Don't give up Murdock! Don't let Stockwell win!".


Face felt his control slip ......... the sob escaped and his heart gave way ......


BA felt his strength leave him ........ he sank into his mother's embrace, completely broken .......


Hannibal looked around himself wildly ....... then did something he had never done before .....


He fled. Away from BA. Away from Face. Away from the doctor's and hospital. His breaths were short and he gasped repeatedly.


Tears streamed down his face as he stumbled into the van and left the parking lot, screeching wildly onto the street.


He didn't want to know the outcome.


THE END.


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