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TITLE: The Pain Inside

AUTHOR: Hannurdock

RATING: PG-13

WARNINGS: Mental Angst / Memories

STORY TYPE: Point of View / First Person (Hannibal)

CATEGORY: Angst, Drama

LENGTH: One-off

DEDICATIONS: Dedicated to Amy - thanks for breaking the technical jargon for me. Dedicated to Deb - who enlightened me with a wonderful medical perspective. Dedicated to Fingers, Joy-Joy, Mig, Hill, Wallygator, Rita and Rosebud - thanks for sharing your personal experiences with me, I felt enlightened and touched. Dedicated to Lark, thank you for the sites - they was a massive help. Dedicated to Micha Lin - thanks for the recommendation. I didn't expect such an overwhelmingly touching response to my question, and felt sincerely humbled by the knowledge and experiences of others. The warmest of hugs and thanks to you all. A massive thank you to those that helped with my research. You helped me keep the story realistic for which I am very grateful. This has been an amazing journey into something I knew nothing about.

DISCLAIMER: The characters are property of Cannell and company.



Part 1: Just a routine check ...


Faceman walked into the doctors office, cool and calm. Two pretty, young female nurses watched him enter the office, watched the poised and charming man wink subtly at them then close the door behind him.


Face heard two rather large sighs, smiled knowingly to himself, and then sat directly in front of the doctor.


Doctor Mills shuffled a couple of sheets of paper as he eyed up Face, and then pretended to discover the man's record.


"Ah, here it is Mr Peck. You say you've had some problems lately?"


Face smiled the handsome, alluring smile that had become his trademark. "You could say that, Doctor. I've been feeling rough lately. Its so unlike me, I'm usually quite fit. But, I've been tired, emotional and feeling sick. I'm also quite pale."


"Could be a cold or flu." The Doctor answered.


Face shook his head in a manner which suggested impatiance, if only for a moment, before the handsome smile returned illuminating Face's expression. "I don't think so Doctor"


The Doctor nodded his head. "Well, I can run you through a couple of tests - blood and urine - send it off if it'll make you feel better."


"It will make me feel better to check" Face agreed. "Its just not like me to feel this way ...."


Before long, Face was driving to his flashy, high priced apartment loaned to him by a rich friend. His heart was sinking, he felt slightly ominous of the results of the test already. "Nothing to worry about, Faceman" he whispered to himself. "Got nothing to worry about at all..."


Hannibal was waiting for him as his vett drew up in the car park. "Key Kid, how'd the appointment go?"


Face sighed as he locked up his car, and walked sadly over to his commander.


"It was OK. Had a few tests done, and I'll get the results in a few days. I just don't know Hannibal. I got a bad feeling about this one." Hannibal watched his lieutenant closely, concern for the younger man becoming all too clear in his bright and intelligent eyes.


"You'll be fine, Face" Hannibal said, but he wasn't too sure. Maybe he was humouring Face to make him feel better.


Face smiled, his expression betraying no worry now. His eyes were perfectly clear. "I will, Colonel."


They walked into Face's apartment and were confronted by BA choking the life out of Murdock. His huge hands were locked to Murdock's throat.


"Fool was talkin' about Billy. Fool aint gonna talk about no invisible dog again!" BA growled. Hannibal immediately rushed to aid a blue-faced Murdock, and Face forgetting himself did the same.


"Let him go, Sergeant" Hannibal commanded. BA complied a little reluctantly. "You were lucky they got here in time" BA said, winking at Face.


Face almost laughed aloud. It was good to see the two men in their perpetual fight again. BA was pretending to hate Murdock again, but Face could tell otherwise. Behind the fierce, growling mannerism BA was as emotional as them all. He could tell BA was just playing with Murdock as they were all a close team. Too close.


Face suddenly doubled over in pain. Murdock, being the closest person in the room to Face at that time, reached out to steady him.


"Are you OK?" Hannibal asked. Face nodded. "Sure thing guys, just a little pain in my stomach"


"I know what you need" Murdock said with a loopy grin on his face. "Indigestion tablets!" and with that, Murdock went off to hunt for some in the oversized apartment.


Face sat heavily on a chair and BA looked down at him. "Man, you never suffered from pain that bad. Even a bullet didn't make you gasp. You suffering alot, hey Face?"


Face felt weakened by BA's concern which was very unusual. "I don't know BA. I had some blood taken by the doctor today. We'll see, OK?"


BA nodded, feeling helpless in his own strength, unable to help the Lieutenant.


Hannibal shook his head as he looked at Face who was going whiter by the second. He knelt by Face's side and felt his clammy forehead. Then he shook his head. "I think we'd better take him to the hospital. What looked like a routine visit to the Doctors might be something a lot more serious ...."





****





Part 2: The Wait


Hannibal walked restlessly around the waiting room, eyeing his cigars longingly. He looked at BA and Murdock, who were shifting uncomfortably in their seats. "Hey, come on guys. I'm sure its nothing" Hannibal said, trying to lighten the despondant atmosphere.


"Yeah, right" Murdock mumbled, his usual playful nature replaced by a foreboding feeling of finality.


BA looked up at Hannibal, who was still walking around the room. "Would you sit down, man! Your giving me the creeps!"


Hannibal obliged, sitting next to BA and sighed deeply.


"What's wrong, do you think?" Murdock asked suddenly, his voice a little strained with his misery.


Hannibal sighed "I don't know, Murdock. Trapped air perhaps?".


Murdock sighed and turned away, refusing to make light of the situation and staring blindly out of the window.


A female doctor appeared, looking quite sombre and approached the little group slowly.


Hannibal rose and walked towards her. "Well?"


"We don't know yet" The doctor replied.


"Don't know yet? What the hell you guys doin' in there?" Hannibal stormed, feeling his anxiety keenly.


"Look, we need to do some more tests. There could be a number of reasons why he's feeling the pain."


"Like what?" Hannibal said, placing his hands on his hips and staring boldly at her. "He's already had some tests!".


"We just don't have the answers yet, sir. If you'd like to take a seat, we'll tell you when we know" The doctor took hold of Hannibal's arm, and seated him firmly beside BA.


Hannibal sighed in frustration, and looked at the two men beside him, staring at him oddly.


"What?" Hannibal asked.


"I ... we... never seen you like this, Colonel ..." Murdock began timidly.


Hannibal smiled gently. "Look, I'm just worried about Face. That's all."


Murdock nodded and sat back, appeased by the gentle tone in Hannibal's voice and started to pray silently.


The doctor appeared after another hour. "Right, gentleman?"


The three men looked up at her, eyes wide, waiting.


"I'm afraid it may be bad news. We do have a further few tests to do, but it looks like cancer. I'm sorry". The doctor walked off, unable to console the grief stricken men.


Hannibal looked guiltily at his cigars, and screwed them up angrily. "Damn! Should have been me" he mumbled as he put his head in his hands, trying to think.


Murdock tried desperately to keep his emotions under control, but own pain exceeded his strength of will, and he felt a single tear roll down his cheek. Brushing it aside quickly, Murdock got up, and walked over to the restroom, ignoring Hannibal's slight plea to remain.


BA shook his head angrily, his strength, his force of will had been unable to keep his friend safe from this. Suddenly he felt very vulnerable, and followed Murdock into the restroom.


Hannibal watched BA leave and vowed one thing to himself. If Face really did have cancer, he would never smoke another cigar again.





****





Part 3: Visiting Hour


Face looked up as the three men entered the room and smiled brightly. He was sitting up in a hospital bed, quite sprightly for someone who had been told moments before he may have cancer.


"Hi guys, how you doin'?" Face asked bravely.


Murdock pushed past Hannibal and walked up to Face, enveloping his small frame in a tight embrace "God, damn you!" Murdock whispered as he hugged the man tightly to his chest.


Face fought back the tears, the waves of nausea, and smiled courageously. "Come on Murdock, let me go. I'll be fine, promise".


Hannibal took hold of Face's hand and held it securely. "How you doin', kiddo? Really?"


Face sighed. "You know, since they told me I may have cancer all I can think of is my hair will come out. It scares me the most, not dying, not the pain. I just want to keep my hair". Face ran his fingers through his hair nervously.


Hannibal looked at the Murdock and BA, his eyes begging for their strength. "You'll still be a hot-shot Face. Hair or not".


Face smiled and leant against the head rest, the feeling of sickness becoming unbearable. Face began to shake violently, as if he was extremely cold.


BA walked forward and laid his hand upon Face's shoulder, trying to ease Face's suffering through the touch, as if challenging the pain to afflict himself, and not the young Lieutenant. "You be OK. I'll see to that".


Face smiled at BA, feeling his emotions overpower him. How many times in the past had BA said that, and meant every word? This time, there was not a human adversary, but something on the inside, something BA could not protect him against.

"Thanks BA" Face put his hand over BA's. His voice was cracking. "Thanks".


"Whatever happens" Hannibal vowed. "We'll see it through as a team, like we've always done".


Face accepted this with a slight nod, and closed his eyes, feeling the strength of the men around him revitalise his own.


Suddenly the door opened, and the female doctor entered. Her face told Hannibal the answer before he needed to ask.


"I'm afraid its Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Cancer of the blood, a lack of red blood cells. Usually this affects children, I'm so very sorry. We'll need to start immediate Chemotherapy, and get you on allopurinol, which will destroy the red blood cells." The doctor stood for a moment, noting the men's reactions, especially Face's as he struggled with his emotions. Face took a deep breath, feeling giddy, then looked up - his eyes bright with tears.


Hannibal, BA and Murdock had grown calm and calculated in Face's presence. They sat, watching his reaction and waiting for him to speak, shielding him from their own emotions.


Face nodded his head, squeezing Hannibal's hand affectionately. "If that's what I need, then I'll have it."


The doctor turned to leave, but Hannibal caught her arm. "Listen" Hannibal whispered. "Is their any chance of remission? I don't want Face to suffer unecessarily, if the Chemotherapy won't work."


"Look, we don't know until the treatment has started whether it'll work. But we'll give Face the best chance he can get."


Hannibal let go of the doctor's arm and looked back at Face. Face smiled, and patted the bed beside him. "Sit down, Hannibal. Its OK, I'm sure I'll be alright".


Hannibal felt his heart swell with protective, paternal sadness as he gazed tenderly at Face.


Face sighed and closed his eyes, all he wanted to do was sleep. After all, when the darkness fell he wasn't aware of anything, no pain, no torment, no cancer.





****





Part 4: Chemotherapy


That same day, Hannibal paced the room while BA kept a watch from the window. Murdock sat talking to Billy, trying to resist his feelings of dread.


"Nothin' out there, man" BA muttered, eyeing the parking lot suspiciously more cars belonging to the MPs.


"What they doin' to him, Colonel?" Murdock asked in a weak voice.


Hannibal thought carefully before he answered. He didn't want to tell Murdock that Face was being subjected to drugs and irradiation. He closed his eyes and prayed to a god, if there was one, to let it be him instead. "They're curing him, Murdock".

Murdock shook his head. "I really hope he'll be alright."


Hannibal joined BA at the window, and sighed as he saw no suspicious cars in the lot.


"He's gonna find out about Face soon. Its gonna make it difficult to see him" BA said.


Hannibal put an arm on BA's shoulder. "Nothin' to it. Murdock isn't wanted by the MPs, so he could stay here without suspician. We could pose as doctors or surgeons".


BA nodded, but inwardly he understood what Hannibal was really saying. If Decker found out, there wouldn't be a hope in hell of seeing Face again.


The doctor walked up to them, fiddling with her platt nervously. "Well, his first session has gone quite well. He'll be extremely weak for a while, then we'll do further tests".


"Can we see him?" Hannibal asked.


"Sure, go straight in. He may not recognise you straight away, so don't be alarmed".


Hannibal nodded, drew in his breath and then signalled to the others to follow him to Face's room.


Inside, they sat beside Face in silence, watching him breathe, his eyes closed tightly in pain. An IV drip administered the Chemotherapy into Face's exposed chest. He looked pale and drawn.


"Face, you awake?" Hannibal finally said, taking Face's clammy hand into his own, and closing his fingers around it.


Face opened his eyes and tried to smile, but the pain was still very bad. His eyes were watering, and Hannibal took a tissue from his pocket and dabbed at the tears gently.


"My hair still here?" Face gasped.


Hannibal nodded, and Face's expression brightened.


"That's good. I really don't want to lose my hair". Face said, fighting the pain back.


Hannibal ran his fingers through Face's hair to demonstrate the point it was still there, and a single strand came away in his hand. Looking shocked towards the others, he felt Face grasp the strand from his hand and sigh. "Don't worry, its just the one hair, Hannibal. Plenty more still left where that one came from".


Murdock felt weak when he looked at his friend, unable to speak properly because of the pain. He cursed himself and wished to god that he had been the one with cancer, not Face. He loved Face too much to see him suffering so deeply.


Hannibal got up and walked out of the door, unable to stay any longer and practically ran into the restroom. He broke down, sobbing with sharp breaths, as he wondered what he was going to do when Decker arrived.


BA and Murdock watched Hannibal leave the room, and sat beside the bed watching Face drift in and out of consciousness.





****





Part 5: Decker


Decker had just received the news he had been waiting for his whole life. Face was in the hospital being stabilised, and under Chemotherapy.


Picking up the telephone, Decker dialed a number, and then got ready to leave. Decker was absolutely sure the team would be there with Face.


****


Hannibal looked at himself in the mirror. He looked old, dishevelled, red eyes. He had been at the hospital for two weeks now, and he was beginning to suffer from the late nights.


Face had been screaming at night. The pain was so intense he felt unable to do anything to ease it, and he heard the sirens now through a blurry tunnel. So Decker had discovered Face was in the hospital. Hannibal stood straight and decided to let him come. He was not about to leave Face.


BA shouted for Hannibal and Murdock as he saw the MPs arrive outside the hospital.


"We can't leave, Sergeant. Face needs us, and we can't go" Hannibal said drowsily, as Decker ran to the doors, pulled them open and raced inside.


Baracus turned to Hannibal, admiration clouding his eyes. "We never left the wounded in Nam, sir"


"We're not going to start now" Hannibal said, placing a hand on his shoulder.


"What about me?" Murdock asked. "I can't leave either".


"You have to, Captain. If Decker finds you here, standing right beside me and BA, he'll know the score".


Murdock shook his head "I'm not leaving. I never left anyone wounded either. I am going to stand with you".


Hannibal shook his head, a slight smile on his lips. "They'll know you're a member of the team, Murdock".


Murdock nodded. "I know. I want that".


Hannibal put his arms around BA and Murdock, led them into Face's room, and waited for Decker to arrive.


****


Decker entered Face's room, a triumphant smile on his face. He saw Murdock, BA and Hannibal, and knew he had finally won.

"You comin', Colonel?" Decker barked, training a gun on Hannibal.


Hannibal stroked Face's hand gently. "I aint leaving this room, Decker".


Decker sighed impatiently when he saw Face, lying defenseless on the bed, his hair had almost completely fallen out.


"And neither are the others" Hannibal concluded, not looking up from Face, keeping his eyes locked on the unconscious Lieutenant.


Decker walked forwards. "Murdock, you will be arrested for consorting with known fellons, do you understand?"


Murdock nodded, looking at Face, unable to tear his gaze away. "Whatever. But I aint leaving this room".


Decker sighed and walked outside, making arrangements for the room to the watched constantly, and armed guards to secure the building from outside. "Whatever happens, Colonel Smith" Decker vowed. "This time, you won't get away".


Hannibal looked admiringly at Murdock, and then held his hand tight. "Whatever happens, Captain. I vow we'll all get out of here".





****





Part 6: Under Military Custody


Hannibal watched the clock tick on the wall above him. He looked down to Face as he heard the Lieutenant sigh heavily. Face grasped the IV and tried to pull it out of his chest. BA closed his hand over Face's, drawing his hand away and clutching it tightly to his chest.


"You alright, kid?" Hannibal asked, his voice soft and broken.


Face painfully opened his eyes. "You'd better get out of here Colonel, Decker will be here".


Hannibal shook his head. Even though the kid was in so much pain, he was more concerned about the him and the others. "Decker's here. An incentive for you to get well, kid. As soon as you're in remission we'll get you out".


Face sadly smiled. "What if the cancer doesn't go into remission? What if I'm here for a long time?" Face asked.


"We'll stay together. All four of us" Hannibal explained.


The doctor entered, fiddling with her braid once again, nervously watching the military guard the room with loaded weapons.

"How is he?" she asked.


"Weak, dizzy, sick, in pain." Hannibal said in a voice which suggested he was describing an enemy base in a deep jungle.


"What are those soldiers doing here?" Hissed the doctor, looking at Hannibal sternly.


"They came to take us away" Hannibal said, without giving too much information away.


"They are disturbing the patients here!" The doctor hissed again, becoming more angry by Hannibal's reluctance to talk.


"Listen doctor, how long will Face be here? I mean, if the pain eases, does he need to be in hospital?" Hannibal asked.


"That depends. He's in a lot of pain at the moment, its best to keep him comfortable and where he can reach him easily if he needs that. If the chemotherapy works then maybe he won't need to be in hospital as much, maybe once every two to three weeks to administer the IV. It depends if the treatment works, will you be patient and relax. Your not helping Face at all by being so questioning." The doctor looked at Face, and smiled.


"Point taken. I'll shut up." Hannibal hissed angrily, looking out of the window, feeling extremely helpless.


The doctor walked up to Face, and touched him lightly on the arm. "How are you feeling?".


"I have a few mouth ulcers. Never suffered with them before" Face complained weakly.


The doctor examined Face's mouth for a moment, and then turned away. Decker entered the room, his eyes on Face, noting that Face was awake but in a lot of pain.


"How are you, Lieutenant?" Decker asked, his voice edged with a little sorrow.


Face put his left hand fingers into an OK sign and smiled weakly. "You finally caught us, Decker".


Decker nodded. "I'm not going to say that this was inevitable. I didn't want it this way".


Face accepted Decker's sincerity, and watched Decker as he spoke softly to Hannibal.


"Colonel, I need to speak to you outside". Decker asked as quietly as he could, pointing to the door.


Hannibal sighed and got up, following Decker out of the room.


Decker gestured to a seat in the waiting room, and walked over to the coffee machine. He pulled some change out of his pocket, and a small cup fell into position, filling rapidly with steaming coffee. Decker walked back over to Hannibal, and handed him the drink. Hannibal accepted it gratefully.


"We need to talk" Decker stated bluntly. "When Face is in remission, you will be in military custody. Face will obtain all the medical assistance he needs from a secure hospital near the prison. You will all have regular access to each other, especially to Face. Is that clear?" Decker asked, watching Hannibal - the glazed expression, the torn features.


Hannibal nodded, not really listening.


"You know, Smith. I once lost a close friend to cancer. Lung cancer, damn bugger smoked himself into an early grave. I was there when he died. We'd served two tours in 'Nam together, walked side by side on memorial day, I attended his wedding and I held his baby on the day it was born" Decker smiled wistfully. "And the thing that killed him was something I couldn't fight, my AR-15 couldn't kill it, I was helpless".


Hannibal nodded, his own thoughts fading as he listened closely to Decker's story, seeing a side to the man people rarely ever saw. "Yes, helpless".


Decker shook his head. "We may be helpless, but Face isn't. He's a fighter, Smith. I have never really believed that people can be cured of such a painful and vile disease, but when I saw the courage in his expression, when I saw the look in his eye. I believed. I believe he has a good chance".


Hannibal smiled appreciatively, and sipped his coffee. "Thanks".


Decker sighed. "Just think it over. Face wouldn't give up, ever. He'll survive, liked he survived 'Nam. Its in the genes. Survivors always find a way".


Hannibal sighed as Decker walked away, feeling slightly in awe of the revelation Decker had just given him. He had never before seen Decker in such a favourable light.


This day he'd found a friend in his worst enemy. Suddenly, Hannibal decided, he wanted to know Decker better.





****





Part 7: Remission


Two months later, Hannibal and Decker sat, engrossed in conversation. "Decker, did I know your friend? The one who died from lung cancer?" Hannibal asked.


Decker shook his head. "No. He was a lot like you, Colonel. White hair, personality-wise he was forever on the jazz. He loved smoking those damned cigars".


Hannibal laughed lightly. The waiting room was no longer such a dull place with Decker keeping him company. "I've given up on those damned cigars" Hannibal confessed quietly.


"Wondered why you hadn't smoked one in two months. In fact, ever since Face was diagnosed" Decker mused.


"Its taking a long time. I thought he'd go into remission, but he's always in so much pain, he's constantly being sick." Hannibal sighed. "You know what he said to me the other day? You know what he asked me? Face asked, 'where's the jazz, Colonel? I haven't seen it in a long time'. I looked at him, utterly confused." Hannibal looked at Decker closely, watching the subtle emotion in the man's eyes.


"It takes time, always does." Decker said gently.


"You know something? When Face gets over all this I'm gonna do something very special".


"High security prisons don't allow parties" Decker smiled, patting Hannibal's knee.


"No, I feel like I'm losing a son. I need him to realise how much I care." Hannibal looked at the floor.


"Have you ever considered adoption?" Decker asked suddenly.


Hannibal scoffed and turned away.


"No, seriously. Face has never had a real father. You two have been more like father and son than most natural fathers and sons I know" Decker laughed at the absurdity of it.


Hannibal sat quietly for a moment. Adoption might not be such a bad idea after all, Face needed the lift. He needed to feel loved and wanted.


****


Face watched Hannibal closely as he entered the room.


"Hey, Hannibal. How are you?" Face asked brightly.


"Better than you. Two months of chemo, and even Decker hasn't got the heart to move you". Hannibal sighed.


Face put a hand on Hannibal's arm. "I'll get through this, Hannibal. I always have survived".


Hannibal thought about this. Face was right. He had always survived, even when the odds were not in his favour.


Suddenly, the door opened and the doctor entered. A huge smile was on her lips. "I've got good news and bad news" she said playfully.


Hannibal, inspired by the doctors enthusiasm, playfully responded "Good news, we need some".


"The chemo is working, Face. Your cancer is going into remission".


Face smiled broadly through the pain. "And the bad news?"


The doctors smile faded. "The military will be transferring the four of you as soon as possible".


Hannibal nodded vaguely. "As long as Face gets the treatment he needs, its all that counts".


The doctor winked "Looks like Face has cheated the odds".


Face grinned. "Hey, I always play with the devils luck. Either that, or a pack of marked cards ....".





****





Part 8: The Transfer


Hannibal watched Face as he slept peacefully. Face eyelids fluttered painfully as he awoke with a start.


"How you feeling, kid?" Hannibal asked gently.


"Hmmmmmm. Not that bad. Now I know I'm getting better". Face replied, his breath sounding a little laboured.


"Face, I need to ask you something ..." Hannibal began.


"Sure" Face said, listening closely.


"I have a proposal for you."


"Sheesh, sounds like we're business partners" Face smiled.


"I feel like I'm asking you to marry me" Hannibal mumbled uneasily.


Face looked at Hannibal strangely for a moment. "Not that I'm asking you to marry me" Hannibal laughed.


Face giggled furiously, making himself cough. "What then?"


"What would you say if I said I wanted to adopt you?" Hannibal asked finally.


Face lay, shocked in silence for a moment, all the years of loneliness and fear as an orphan slowly faded away as he gazed at Hannibal. Lifting Face slightly, Hannibal embraced him tightly, the tears flowing unashamadly from Face's eyes.


"Why would you adopt me?" Face asked in a whisper, his voice full of emotion.


"I love you Face. Like a father to a son. I love you." Hannibal answered, the three words making more sense than ever, when he had used them in the past.


"I love you too" Face gasped, holding tightly to Hannibal, feeling like a lost child.


"Well?" Hannibal laughed, wiping the tears quickly from his eyes.


Face couldn't reply, his sobs tearing Hannibal's heart, and he just nodded.


****


Decker watched and listened as the two men exchanged words, and became father and son at that moment. He smiled when he thought of the legal documents Hannibal would be ploughing through over the next few weeks. Then his heart broke as he realised in prison, Hannibal would not get the chance.


****


"Ready, soldiers?" Decker asked.


The doctor frowned. "I'm not happy about this at all."


Face was carried by BA to a waiting vehicle, and gently placed inside.


"I'll drive" Decker said horsely. He waited until all four men were inside, with the guards watching them intently, and drove off.

Pulling over to a sideroad, Decker got out of the vehicle. "Did you get the van, Crane?"


Crane nodded. "They made me fill out a mountain of paperwork, sir".


Decker opened the back of the vehicle and motioned for Hannibal and the others to follow him. Face was carried securely by BA.

Hannibal started in surprise when he saw the familiar black van with red detailing and tinted windows before him.


"What, the ..." Hannibal stopped in amazement.


Decker motioned for the soldiers to go back to the waiting vehicle, and then held out his hand to Hannibal.


"Take care of the kid, Hannibal. You never know how little time you have left until death appears at your right shoulder".

Hannibal took hold of Decker's hand and shook it. "Thank you, sir".


Decker looked surprised for a moment, and then smiled. Turning away, he walked back to the vehicle and sat in the passenger seat while Crane drove away.


As Hannibal watched Decker leave, he noted a smile of compassion on Decker's face.


"I'll be damned" BA swore. "Decker let us go, man".


"And looks like Murdock's identity is safe. Decker will make sure of that." Hannibal said.


Murdock shook his head. "No way, I'm going to stay a proper member of the team now, whatever the cost".


Face laughed suddenly. "I just thought of something very funny. Did you see Crane's face as he told Decker about all the paperwork surrounding the van?"


Hannibal grinned. "Yeah, a real picture!"


"No celebration cigar, man?" BA asked.


Hannibal shook his head. "Never again, Sergeant".





****





Part 9: What Friends are for


Face sat in the waiting area two weeks later, Murdock talking to an invisible monkey he'd become close friends with over the last couple of days. Face laughed easily, as Murdock fed the invisible pet nuts, ignoring the insistent plea of the nurses.


"Murdock, are you alright?" Face asked, as Murdock looked sad and drawn suddenly.


Murdock nodded and sat back "Guess we came real close there, Face. You know, saying goodbye and all?"


Face nodded, the sentiments were mutual. "Guess so Murdock".


The nurse came over. "Templeton Smith?"


Face nodded, raising a hand, and moving away from Murdock, still feeding his monkey nuts.


The nurse whistled in surprise "Hey, look who's getting their hair back!".


Face smiled, and laughed.


"Sit down over there, please" The nurse smiled to Face, who did as he was told.


Through the window, Decker smiled when he saw Face sitting patiently. He walked through the door, and sat beside the surprised young man.


"Hello, Decker" Face stammered.


"Hello, Smith-junior. Just came to say goodbye" Decker said, watching the surprise register in Face's eyes before he continued. "I've quit. Leaving now before they get me to chase you lot again. I guess I learned a lot from The A-Team during this".


Face looked downcast. Although Decker had been the A-Team's nemesis, he was nonetheless constant. "So what will you do now?".


Decker sighed, and then suddenly brightened. "Ah, who knows, there's a world of slime balls out there".


Face laughed "Punks in the park, thugs knocking over innocent citizens?"


Decker nodded. "Always felt like a vigilante anyway. Maybe I'll call myself The Equalizer".


"Already been done" Face smiled.


Decker grinned and sat back into the chair comfortably.


"You know where we are, Colonel, if you ever need us ....." Face stammered.


Decker nodded and rose to his feet. "You know something" he asked suddenly.


"What?" Face asked.


"The army promised me half a million bucks if I could bring all four of you in alive. Reinstate my rank, regular holidays, pensions, the whole ball of wax., and ....".


"What?" Face asked quietly.


"I figured a couple of IOU's from The A-Team is worth a hell of a lot more" Decker walked towards the door, letting himself out.


Face grinned to himself, and looked at his card. Tempelton "Faceman" Smith. `Smith' - his father name. The way it should have been from the start.





****





Part 10: The End


Decker strolled into a bank six months later, and found himself in a robbery situation with seven hostages. He tried to take out one of the robbers unsuccessfully and was shot in the head, killing him point blank.


Hannibal and Face sat in a cafe overlooking the morning peak traffic. Hannibal read the news report on Decker's death in disbelief, finally throwing the paper into the garbage angrily.


Hannibal sat there in a black mood. Face sat silent in his chair watching the steady stream of traffic move by.


"He was a good person" Face said finally. "And he never used his IOU's".


"He wouldn't have ever really used them, Face" Hannibal said. "He wasn't the type. He liked to do things by himself".


"Yeah" Face said, feeling sadness overwhelm him.


Hannibal reached across the table, and touched Face's hand, startling him.


"If he hadn't turned us in, he may have been alive now" Face said softly.


"He did what he needed to do. For the good of us, for peace of mind for him. It can't be easy waking up in the morning thinking you've done the wrong thing".


Face nodded, the finality of Decker's death overlooking anything, even his own experiences in the last year.


"You know something, kid?" Hannibal asked. "Nothing in this crazy life is certain. Everything goes away in time. Whether sooner or later, we'll all share the same fate. There's no getting around it. Everything else seems foolish now."


Face sighed and looked away. The traffic was not moving at all now, and angry people stuck their heads out, honking their horns at the build up.


"I know something that is constant" Face suddenly said.


Hannibal looked up in surprise. "What, son?".


"Love." Face said simply. "Its the only constant thing on this earth".


Hannibal felt his emotions keenly with this statement, and forced himself to turn away. "I guess your right".


Face winked. "I know I am".


"So, son. How about you showin' me how much you love me by scamming me a full breakfast? Then we'll meet with BA and Murdock, see what we can find out about those robbers that took Decker's life." Hannibal grinned, all shadows cast aside.


"Hannibal ..." Face said sullenly.


"Oh come on!" Hannibal continued. "I always have a plan ......"


THE END.


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