A/N: After a hectic few months, FINALLY got one finished! LOL The idea for this one came from a 'prompt' over at the LJ ATeam Meme. There's also a SLASH version over at AO3. TNx
The shit hit the fan as soon as Jerry Cottonwood recognised Face, and he'd pulled out a pump action shot gun and started shooting up the warehouse, screaming and cursing with each deafening blast.
The instant Cottonwood had seen him, he'd become frenzied, crazy... deadly.
Hannibal yanked Murdock to the side and shoved him out of the door. "Get outta here, Murdock," he hissed, ducking as the crate above him splintered with the force of an exploding shot gun shell. It was time for his team to leave!
"What about Facey?"
"I'll get him," the colonel said and squeezed the pilot's arm reassuringly. "Now, go!"
Face was cornered, cut off from escape and firing his weapon blindly. From what Hannibal could see, Cottonwood was concentrating his aim at Face's general direction, and he shuffled towards BA.
"Man, Face's in trouble, boss," BA growled. "Bastard has him pinned!"
"Yeah, I know," Hannibal grated. "Murdock's outside. Get to him and get the van. I'm gonna get Face."
"How the fuck ya gonna do that?" BA hissed, shoulders hunching again as yet another shot blast reverberated around the warehouse.
There was only Cottonwood, but it didn't matter. The mad man had the high ground, and the advantage. And apparently, motive.
Earlier in the 'job', Face had played the part of a charming telephone engineer, in a ruse to plant listening devices in Cottonwood's office, and had to 'persuade' his secretary to let him in without an appointment... and that was where things had started to go wrong...
Well, she's definitely easy on the eyes, Face thought as he pushed the peak of his cap up and set his little work bag on her desk, an easy mark. He smiled widely at the woman.
"I'm sorry, mister..." the woman started, her full red lips pursed, brown eyes assessing.
"Oh, it's Jones. Henry Jones," Face quickly filled in and pointed to his overall breast pocket where the name was embroidered in black cursive.
"Mister Jones," she repeated, her fingers linking together as she leaned back, putting space between them. Face blinked at the standoffish demeanour and had to quickly reassess his approach. The woman so far was not succumbing to his charms...
He slowly sidled around her desk, running his fingertip along the veneered surface as he went. "Why don't you call me Henry," he said quietly, biting his lip for added effect, and smiling internally when he saw her pupils dilate and those ruby lips part a fraction. He perched his thigh on her desk and leaned in, cocked his head to the side, and after sweeping his gaze seductively up her body, locked her eyes with his.
Face was well aware the effects his seductive techniques had, and as soon as the woman's fingers came apart and she leaned forward, he knew he had her.
"I'll be real quick, baby," he whispered, his hand stroking along her thigh, fingers playing with the hem of her ridiculously short skirt. "In and out," he breathed, eyes still holding hers.
"In and out," she nodded dazedly, her Spanish accent more pronounced and Face smiled at how sexy she actually sounded right then.
"Don't move," he said heatedly, the fingers on her thigh squeezing slightly until she nodded.
That was too easy, Face thought as he quickly and efficiently planted the bugs in Cottonwood's office. He grinned despite himself when he glanced through the crack in the door frame and saw her still seated in her chair, he definitely still had it!
But when Face came out, pretending to talk on his cell phone, he startled to a halt as his eyes caught hers... wide and aroused and directed right at him.
"Where do you think you're you going?" she asked, eyes narrowing when Face headed for the door. He held up his cell to her.
"I um, I got another job to do," he fumbled apologetically, shrugging his shoulders.
The secretary was up and out of her chair, short skirt riding high, before Face's hand hit the door handle. "Oh no, you don't!" she hissed and slammed him against the wall. "No one comes onto Martine Genoa and then leaves!"
Face's eyes widened. Martine Genoa? The secretary was Cottonwood's partner. Shit.
She grabbed his hand and shoved it between her legs. "Feel how wet you make me, Henry," she purred as she rubbed his fingers against her damp panties. Face grimaced and tried to pull away, but she was having none of it. Genoa leaned up in her six inch pumps and licked at Face's lips. "I'm gonna fuck you...mi amante," she breathed hotly and fit her mouth over his.
"Wait," Face turned his head and yanked his hand from between her legs, automatically wiping his fingers on his thigh. Genoa frowned, an ugly sneer beginning to mar those full lips. Suddenly she shoved at him and stepped back. Face's brow furrowed.
"What the fuck?" she growled, face like thunder now. "You're a fucking tease!"
Face winced. "I... I'm really sorry, Miss Genoa... I really do have go," he said, playing up the apologetic telephone engineer even more. "I'll get fired if I don't."
Genoa stepped forward again and pinned Face with a glare. "Oh, we both know you're finished now, don't we?" She looked at his overall breast pocket, "Henry Jones."
That was his cue to leave and Face wasted no time. He nodded meekly, opened the door and left, breathing a sigh of relief to himself.
As fate would have it, spurning Martine Genoa's advances had been a mistake... a huge mistake, but at the time, Face thought it best not to have the added complication of a woman scorned in their mission, especially the partner of the man they were setting up.
The team's job had been successful though, and Cottonwood's phony neighbourhood security business had been exposed. The good people of Smoky Oaks Retirement village could now live in peace. But, Cottonwood himself still had the deeds to many of the residents' homes, and the team needed to get them back to their rightful owners.
Hence their visit to the warehouse, where they suspected Cottonwood had hidden them.
They didn't anticipate Face being recognised, though... that bitch Genoa had described Face too well to her partner.
"Fuck!" Face yelped when he was showered in glass and debris. He covered his head. "C'mon, Cottonwood, can't we talk about this?"
"Fuck you!" the man with the shotgun screamed. "Fuck my girl, will ya?"
Another explosion of noise assailed Face's ears. "I didn't fuck her!"
"Yeah right! You're dead, you bastard! Dead!"
Jesus, where the hell was Hannibal, thought Face. He stuck another mag in his gun, lifted his hand and fired off a volley of shots.
Hannibal moved stealthily around the warehouse until he was positioned behind Cottonwood. He could see the devastation of the crates where Face was hidden, knew the kid didn't have much time left. The bastard was determined to kill him!
He slowly lifted his head and saw a clear shot, which he took and Cottonwood spun wide eyes towards him before falling to the ground, dead.
"Face?" Hannibal called when silence filled the warehouse. He frowned when he didn't get an answer. With his heart in his throat, he sprinted to where Face was.
The kid was leaning over, arms clamped around his stomach, vomiting.
"Jesus, Face! You okay?" Hannibal frowned and rubbed his back in long soothing sweeps. Face nodded, chuckled sheepishly and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.
"Yeah, sorry boss," he murmured, pink tingeing his ears. Hannibal squeezed Face's neck gently and shook his head. Only Face would apologise for being sick. Obviously the shock of nearly being killed by a madman was taking its toll, and Hannibal understood that. Hell, he felt like throwing up every time one of his boys was in danger!
"C'mon, BA and Murdock are waitin' for us," Hannibal said and handed Face a piece of gum. Face's ears turned even redder, but he nodded his thanks anyway.
"So, is Cottonwood dead?"
"As a dodo," Hannibal grinned and turned them towards the warehouse office. All the deeds were in the safe, which Face made light work of, and they gathered them up and joined BA and Murdock in the van.
Job done, bad guys finished, A Team unscathed. Hannibal loved it when a plan came together like that.
He, as always, offered up a silent prayer the next job would be just as smooth.
Within a day, Hannibal had secured another job.
"What?" Murdock scowled. He had been looking forward to a little down time with Billy and an xbox.
"It's just a small job, but important," Hannibal said pulling off his Mr Lee disguise. "Families, children are being hurt. We have to try and help."
"Children?" BA frowned, palming the milk moustache from his upper lip.
"Yeah. Caravaggio Fruit Company," the colonel mused, leafing through a pile papers the young woman had given Mr Lee. "Anyone heard of it?"
BA and Murdock shook their heads. Hannibal glanced over at Face when he didn't acknowledge them. "Face?"
"What?" Face blinked.
"You okay, kid?" Hannibal asked. It wasn't like the kid to stare off into space like that. Face nodded and smiled his patented 'of course I'm okay, why wouldn't I be?' smile. "Well?"
"Well what, boss," Face blinked. Hannibal rolled his eyes.
"Have you heard of the Caravaggio Fruit Company, Facey," Murdock repeated. "Y'know, fruit... apples, pears, kumquats..."
Face laughed. "I know fruit, but no, never heard of the company. Why?"
"Next job, Face! Ain't you been listening at all?" BA growled and downed the last of his milk.
"Look, way I figure it, it's a day, two at the most," Hannibal said. "This Caravaggio hasn't covered his tracks and I see a simple expose and shut down operation, and we get to save these people from anymore illegal fertiliser poisoning."
Face surreptitiously popped another antacid in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. "Fruit pickers?" he asked, thinking of their fee, or lack of it in this case. He didn't mind Hannibal and his charity jobs, but this was the third one in a row. The elderly folk of Smoky Oaks had only just covered their expenses.
"Families trying to make an honest living, Face," Hannibal corrected, already knowing they'd be out of pocket again. He did understand his XO's concerns though, but smiled when Face looked up and nodded.
Murdock poured himself a glass of juice and held it up to the light. "Hey, BA, d'ya think they add the bits after they squeeze the oranges, or-"
"It's pulp, crazy fool," BA grunted and rolled his eyes when Murdock grinned at him.
Face looked away when Murdock gulped the juice, his stomach rolling slowly and nausea rising uncomfortably. He breathed carefully and rubbed at his tender abdomen, sticking another antacid in his mouth.
"Hey, who's up for pizza?" Murdock asked flashing pizza menu's at everyone.
"No fruit on it, though, Murdock," BA advised, slight tint of warning in his voice. Hannibal laughed.
"Okay, no fruit, Big Guy!" Murdock grinned. "What about you, Facey? Thin crust everything on it?"
"Oh, no," Face shook his head, queasy stomach already churning. "It's okay, thanks though. I'm not hungry."
"Yeah, right, Facey!" Murdock snorted. "You ate, like, one toaster pocket all day yesterday! You gotta be starvin'!"
Face looked up and saw Murdock, BA and Hannibal looking at him. He blinked and then suddenly frowned. "What is this? You watching what I eat now?"
"Lord, no, but..." Murdock quickly amended, eyes downcast. "I'm sorry."
Sighing, Face stood up and walked to his best friend. "No, I'm sorry," he said softly. "Thin crust, everything – except fruit – on it, okay?"
Murdock's eyes lit up and he jumped up to grab the 'phone. Hannibal watched Face with growing concern – it wasn't like his XO to snap at Murdock like that. He wondered what was going on with the younger man, but soon dismissed it when the pizza arrived and all four of them enjoyed the Italian delight with beer and a cheesy movie on the TV.
Bed time was early as they had an early start, and after a brief stop at a truck stop for burritos and coffee the next morning, they were on their way with a plan already in place to take Caravaggio and his illegal fruit company down.
Hannibal checked his watched and huffed out a breath. "Murdock, go get Face, will ya," he growled when BA climbed back into the van, gas receipt in his hand.
Face knew they were on the clock, for God's sake, what the hell was he doing?
Murdock looked up and blinked. "Um, he's just gone to the washroom, boss, he'll be back in a minute," he said, confused at Hannibal's mood.
"Now," the colonel insisted, tapping his watch face. The pilot sighed, put down his bottle of cherry soda and hopped out of the van.
"An' hurry up, fool," BA called after him.
Face bent over, rubbed his fist into his stomach and shuddered out a shaky breath. God, it'd taken him an age to piss, and the pain... Face groaned again when a small spasm of cramp shot through his back and nearly took his breath away. He looked up and caught his reflection in the small washroom mirror... God, he looked awful. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his skin was pallid. He looked just like he felt...
When had this started? Middle of the night? That morning? God, must've been the pizza from the evening before, or maybe the bad truck stop coffee and that bite of burrito...
A small knock on the door made him jump. "Facey?" came the muffled enquiry.
"Be out in a minute, buddy," Face called in answer and quickly turned on the cold water. He splashed his face and cautiously took a deep breath, gasping when his stomach cramped again and a sudden attack of nausea had him diving for the toilet bowl again.
Murdock frowned when he heard Face vomiting and opened the door. "Face? You okay?" His eyes widened at the sight of his friend bent over, shaking and retching. "Jesus, Facey," he murmured and dropped to his knees, hand on Face's back.
"M'okay, Murdock," Face mumbled and wiped his mouth with a bit of paper towel, grimacing at the mess in the bowl.
"You don't look it," Murdock frowned. Face flushed the toilet and heaved himself up.
"Must've been a bad burrito," he smirked and turned to the sink. Murdock bit at his lip and watched as Face rinsed his mouth and rubbed at his belly.
"You gonna be alright, muchacho?" he asked, standing to the side when Face opened the door.
Face hesitated and looked at Murdock. "Um, don't mention this to Hannibal, okay?" he said quietly. He knew they had a mission to finish, and Face didn't want to be the reason they failed. He had a job to do.
"Please," Face interrupted and waited until the pilot nodded.
Hannibal didn't say anything when they climbed into the van, but the look he flashed his lieutenant spoke volumes.
All the way to the commune, Face's tender stomach ached and the nausea became worse. Murdock had offered him water and Tylenol, but the pain pills hadn't even so much as taken the edge off. Thankfully, though, he managed not to vomit again.
How he was going to help the team stop the corrupt land owner from using illegal fertiliser, which was slowly poisoning his workers – poorly paid fruit pickers, he just didn't know. He lifted the arch of his foot and raised his leg, curling in on himself slightly, anything to help with the persistent pain across his abdomen, and closed his eyes.
"Face," Hannibal tapped Face's knee. Blue eyes locked. "Did you hear me?"
"Sorry, boss," Face frowned. Jesus, he had to get with it. Hannibal just sighed impatiently.
"I asked if you were you clear with your end of the plan, kid, but you're not filling me with much confidence," he frowned, disappointment flashing in his eyes.
"Sorry, boss," Face said again, feeling dutifully chastised, but not having the energy for any smart aleck remark. He caught Murdock's concerned glance and forced out a smile instead.
"Seriously, Face, we have-"
"I know, and I'm on it," Face interrupted, widening his grin, making it look convincing. "Trust me."
Hannibal narrowed his eyes and was about to make a comment, but BA's sudden "heads up, boss" stopped any return, and Face sighed internally. He really didn't want to get into trust issues with Hannibal right then.
"Facey," Murdock started softly, his blue-green eyes full of worry. "You alright? You look like shit."
"Yeah, buddy, m'fine," Face patted Murdock's shoulder. He pulled off his jacket and wiped his sleeve across his forehead, before shoving his arms into the white scientist coat Murdock had scammed for a job a few weeks previously. The action of merely twisting his body into the coat was agony, and Face pressed his right arm into his side, carefully schooling his features, hiding the pain.
When he looked up, a small amount of relief washed over him... his team was too busy to notice, so he popped a couple more Tylenol and a handful of antacids and grabbed his clip board and gold rim spectacles.
The building wasn't guarded very well, and Face, stern look plastered in place, walked in. "Mr Caravaggio?"
A small Italian man stepped out of his office, three armed muscled men behind him. Face eyed them and sighed.
"Si, what can I do for you?" Caravaggio asked politely, a little nervously too. Must be the white coat, Face mused.
"Mr Caravaggio, I am Doctor Penning, of the Institute for Organic Agriculture," he handed Caravaggio some official looking paperwork, "And I'm here to test your fertiliser to see if it's organic based."
Caravaggio frowned. "I do not understand," he said, accent think.
Face hammed up his performance and feigned anger. "You don't? Let me spell it out for you," he snapped. "You're poisoning the Earth!"
"Now, now, Doctor Penning," the little Italian chuckled, "That's a little over the top. My fertiliser is not ...poison."
Pulling out more paper work from his clip board, Face shoved it in the man's hands. "I am authorised to test your fertiliser, and if it's not up to IOA standard, I'm gonna shut you down, Mr Caravaggio." He swallowed and blew out a slow breath, gritting his teeth when his stomach rolled and the pain throbbed mercilessly in his side. "Do you understand?"
A sickly smile spread over the Italian's face. "Oh, I don't think you understand, doctor," he answered dangerously. He ripped up the fake paperwork that Face had drawn up and sprinkled the pieces on the ground. "My fertiliser is fine."
The three goons pulled out weapons and held them threateningly, and Face forced himself to look afraid.
"Do you understand now, doctor?" Caravaggio asked.
"Um," Face gulped and lowered his clip board, "Yeah, I think I do..." He edged backwards to the door. "I think I'll be going, now. Have a nice day, Mr Caravaggio!"
And he turned quickly and hurried out of the door and back into their waiting van.
"Did you get what you wanted?" Face asked as soon as sat down, right arm pinned tight against his side.
"Yep, enough evidence to put Caravaggio away for a very long time, and the charges planted and ready to go boom!" Hannibal grinned, lighting up a cigar. Face's diversion had allowed him and Murdock to slip in, search the man's office and then strategically place C4 around the building, all set to explode and destroy the illegal fertiliser and Caravaggio's business in the process. "Now, we need to get this evidence to Carlos and call in the real Institute of Agriculture. Get them out here to arrest that Italian slime ball when his shit hits the fan!"
"And you love it when a plan comes together, right, bossman?" Murdock grinned.
Face leaned back and chuckled, grimacing as his stomach cramped. The smell of Hannibal's cigar made him feel really nauseous and he resolutely breathed as carefully as he could through his mouth, mindful not to let his team mates see. He could handle a little food poisoning. He was a Ranger.
After the Institute, with nearly all the counties police force in tow, had started arriving, and the building and fertiliser were in ruins, Hannibal and the team left hastily. But not before seeing Caravaggio arrested and Carlos and his family, and the rest of the workers, finally getting justice.
It wasn't a job where they were paid, but seeing a slime ball like Caravaggio taken down was just as good, and the A-Team went away happy.
"Let's get outta here, BA," Hannibal suggested when the distant sirens of even more police sounded in the distance. BA didn't need telling twice and they were back on the road, back on the run.
Murdock slept a while in the back of the van with Face on the opposite seat, eyes closed also, but the lieutenant wasn't sleeping. Face was concentrating hard on not throwing up in BA's van. His stomach, especially the lower right region, was extremely tender and painful, and every little bump and pot hole BA drove over was sheer agony.
God that was some burrito, Face thought bitterly.
Four hours later, Hannibal found them a small motel off the interstate, and BA manoeuvred the van into the parking lot, well hidden from prying eyes, and hopped out to secure them all a room.
"C'mon, kids, up an' at 'em!" Hannibal announced and slapped lightly at Murdock's foot. The pilot startled awake, serious bed head and wide eyes. He yawned.
"Where we at, bossman?"
"Um, town called Berlin," Hannibal grinned knowing Murdock would find that amusing, even though this Berlin was in the state of Georgia.
"Really? Ich bin ein Berliner!" the pilot quoted and scrubbed his hand through his hair before pulling his cap on. He turned to Face and shook his shoulder. "Hey, Facey, guess where we are!"
Face moaned softly, his body stiffening at the pilot's touch.
Hannibal, half way out of the van, looked up and frowned at Murdock's suddenly worried tone.
"Facey, you okay, man?" Murdock asked angling his head to see the kid's face. He shot up alarmed and swung round to Hannibal. "Shit, he ain't lookin' too good, boss," he said urgently. Hannibal climbed back into the van.
Carefully lifting his head, Hannibal hissed at the heat of Face's skin. "Face," he murmured softly, palm cupping the kid's cheek. "Kid, c'mon, time to wake up."
Face opened his eyes and waited a few seconds for his focus to clear. "Boss?" he gasped, breathing through yet more sharp stomach cramps.
"What's going on with you, kid?" Hannibal asked, back of his hand testing his temperature.
"F-food poisoning," Face said and rolled his eyes. Murdock scoffed and leaned in.
"Oh, Facey, you ain't still goin' with that, are you?" he said and shook his head. He turned to Hannibal, "Boss, he was throwin' up this mornin'."
"Murdock," Face grimaced and pressed his arm tighter into his stomach. Hannibal saw the action and alarm bells started blaring in his head.
"What? I'm right, an' you can't go blamin' that burrito anymore, you just about yakked up your insides! Ain't nothin' left in there," he noted and pointed to Face's belly.
"Don't be silly, HM, m'fine... s'just a little Deli-belly," Face sighed and closed his eyes again. He opened them when Hannibal patted his cheek.
"When did the pain start, kid?" he asked seriously.
Face considered lying, but he never could lie to Hannibal. "Um, last night maybe," he whispered. Murdock's eyes widened.
"Nausea, cramps, intense lower right abdominal pain?" Hannibal asked sucking in a breath when Face nodded. "Ah shit, kid."
"It's just food-"
"Cut it out, Facey, it ain't food poisoning!" Murdock panicked. He looked up at Hannibal. "Is it?"
Hannibal shook his head and looked worriedly at Face, chewing at his lip. He remembered that Face had thrown up in Cottonwood's warehouse, his skittish mood swings since, the way he'd been popping those damned antacids like they were candy, and frowned hard. If it was what he thought it was, they were in trouble.
BA stuck his head in the van and jangled a room key. "Hey, got us a room," he said before frowning at the sight of a panicking Murdock, a worried looking Hannibal, and the cause of it all, a really sick looking Faceman. "Wha's goin' on?"
"BA, help me get Face indoors," Hannibal said and pushed the medical kit into Murdock's hands. BA's eyes widened but he quickly manhandled Face out of the van, and with the lieutenant leaning heavily against him, shuffled the kid into their room. It was clean, with two queen beds, a small kitchenette and an en suite. BA carefully helped Face onto the nearest bed.
"Wha's goin' on wit' you, Faceman?" he asked softly, worry clear in his voice. He watched as Face turned onto his side and pulled his knees up to his chest, moaning and shaking. Sweat beaded on the kid's skin. "Face?"
"M'okay," Face grated out through his teeth, trying to cling onto the last thread of sanity through his pain. God, his stomach hurt!
"Yeah, picture of health, kid," Hannibal said grimly as he sat beside him. He stuck a thermometer in Face's mouth. "Don't bite down on this," he warned.
"Hannibal?" BA looked at him questioningly.
"I'm not sure yet, but I think its appendicitis," the colonel said worriedly. He circled Face's wrist with his fingers and quietly counted off heart beats.
"101.5," Hannibal frowned when he checked the thermometer. "Kid, you're running a fever. I need you to turn on your back. Can you do that?"
Murdock hovered closely, hat in his hands, wringing it for dear life as Face whimpered in pain when Hannibal tried to push him onto his back.
"C'mon, kid, I need to check you," Hannibal urged and Face slowly and painfully rolled over. "BA, hold his hands," he suggested quietly. He didn't relish catching a right hook if Face lashed out because this was definitely going to hurt.
Very gently and carefully, Hannibal started to palpate Face's abdomen, starting from the left side, watching the kid's face with each slow press of his fingers. Face bit his lower lip hard and screwed his eyes shut tight with each agonising touch, arching and gasping when Hannibal pressed down over his lower right side.
Starting forward, Murdock sucked in a breath and stopped himself just short of the bed when Face suddenly cried out in severe pain when Hannibal lifted his hand.
"Rebound tenderness," he muttered and rubbed at his face. "Shit. It's appendicitis alright."
"Aw man," BA huffed, worry and frustration lacing his voice. "Appendicitis?"
Hannibal nodded and gently stroked the sweaty bangs from Face's forehead. "Oh kid, what are we gonna do with ya, huh?"
What were they going to do? That was the question. Face needed surgery, but the nearest hospital was a good thirteen miles away and Face was in no real fit state to travel. But left untreated, Face was going to die, painfully.
They had no other choice.
"BA, start the van, we're going to the hospital," Hannibal said as he stood up. He turned to Murdock, "Where's the medical kit?"
"Here, bossman," the pilot said and handed the colonel the bag. "Is Facey gonna be alright?"
Sighing deeply, Hannibal frowned. "I dunno, kid," he said very quietly. Murdock's eyes filled.
Pulling out a morphine dose, Hannibal sat down again. "Face?" he gently nudged his lieutenant, "Kid, open your eyes."
Face forced them open and squinted at his CO, swallowing down the nausea when the room suddenly wavered. "S-sorry, boss," he whispered, gasping when another attack of cramp hit him. Hannibal winced and helped Face turn on his side again.
"What're you sorry for, kid?" he asked softly, glancing up at Murdock who was now anxiously chewing his thumb nail.
"This... Oh God, boss... hurts," Face groaned, barely suppressing a sob. Hannibal leaned down, mouth close to Face's ear.
"I know, kid," he said softly. "I'm gonna give you some morphine, then we'll get you to a hospital." Hannibal looked at his lieutenant, gently cupped his face and waited until the kid's eyes opened. "You're gonna be okay, Face, trust me."
Nodding, Face closed his eyes again, not even noticing the sharp prick of the needle as Hannibal injected the drug.
Murdock carefully climbed onto the bed with Face and started soothingly rubbing his back as the morphine took effect. He watched as Hannibal hesitated a minute, looking worriedly at Face before nodding slightly at him, packing up their gear and heading out to the van.
"BA?" Hannibal asked as soon as the door slid open. BA looked up, expression of concern in his dark eyes.
"It's bad, Hannibal," BA grunted, "The Berlin police had an anonymous tip off."
"Ah shit," Hannibal hissed. He climbed in the van and slammed the door shut, listening to BA's wireless police scanner.
"How's Face?" BA asked.
"Not good. He needs surgery, BA, or he's gonna die," the colonel sighed wearily. Appendicitis was potentially life threatening, the infection from a ruptured appendix fatal if left untreated. He rubbed harshly at his face and frowned at BA. "What exactly has been said?"
"We've been reported to be in the area, a sighting, but I reckon it's that Caravaggio fucker," BA growled. "Police chatter ain't good. They're lookin' for us, Hannibal." He shook his head. "Reckon it's only a matter of time 'til the military get wind of it, too."
Jesus, their situation was fucked up.
"Face need's that surgery," Hannibal repeated, that much was certain. He pulled his mouth tight and blew out a breath. They had to get him to a hospital, but they couldn't until they knew it was safe.
Face was still moaning and shaking despite the morphine, and Murdock looked up when Hannibal stepped back into their room.
"Bossman, he's gettin' worse."
Hannibal gingerly sat by his lieutenant and gently stroked his sweaty hair back from his face. "Hey, kid," he said softly. Face shifted slightly and opened his eyes.
"Hey... boss," he slurred, breath hitching with pain. "S'goin' on?"
"We've been made," Hannibal told him. Face's eyes widened a little. "Police are lookin' for us, won't be long 'til the military are here, too."
Murdock sat up quickly, the movement causing Face to gasp and groan into the pillow, and stared at Hannibal. "What?"
"We're gonna have to get outta here," Hannibal grimaced knowing that the pilot was going to object – severely. His best friend needed a hospital. His best friend was going to die without one.
"Now, wait a minute, bossman," Murdock frowned, his hand flapping, "We hafta get Facey to a doctor! You said so yourself!"
Hannibal captured the flailing hand and held it, looking into Murdock's wide frightened eyes. "I know, kid, and we will, but-"
"But? There's no but!" Murdock shouted, voice high. He couldn't believe this was happening. "Hannibal, he needs-"
"Murdock, I know that!" Hannibal anguished and quickly composed his expression. He looked down at Face, watched as each breath the kid took looked like agony, saw the flush on his skin, the tight lines of pain around his eyes... "God, I know that," he repeated softly.
"S'okay, I'll be... okay," Face said quietly, his pale pain filled eyes struggling to stay open. "We do... You hafta get... outta here, boss."
Hannibal frowned. "Not leavin' you behind, kid," he said sternly shaking his head. What was the kid thinking? He rubbed Face's arm. "Just hold on a little longer, okay, lieutenant?"
Face glared at Hannibal for a second before he lost the fight with his eyelids and they slid shut.
"Face, did you hear me?" Hannibal asked again, and this time Face nodded.
How much longer could they realistically wait, though? Face had been sick for a while, which meant his appendix was probably getting dangerously close to rupturing. Hannibal checked his watch, mentally calculating what little time Face might have left. He looked up to see Murdock staring at him, a look of fear and despair in his eyes. The pilot was close to losing it.
God, this was a nightmare.
BA frowned when he heard the APB on the radio, it described the van to a T. He quickly jumped out, sprinting back to their room. The door room rattled beneath BA's fist as he pounded on it, nearly hitting Hannibal's face when it opened.
"Sucker's put out an APB on the van, man, we're fuckin' screwed!" BA hissed. He checked through the curtains, agitated.
"Okay," said Hannibal, thinking quickly, "We need to go. Now. Murdock, get in the van... BA, help me with Face."
Murdock nodded and hurried out of the door, watching as BA and Hannibal, as carefully as they could, quickly ushered Face into the van. BA climbed into the driver's seat and without even waiting for Hannibal to slide the door closed, he jammed the vehicle into reverse and hit the peddle.
The morphine had helped and Face felt kind of detached from the pain engulfing him, didn't even feel the lurch of the van. He moaned softly though as Murdock reclined his seat.
"Hey, Facey, you okay?" the pilot asked quietly. Face forced his eyes open and closed them again when his vision sickeningly faltered. Another wave of nausea hit him and he gasped. Cool fingers stroked his fevered forehead. "Face, can you hear me?"
Hannibal leaned in close, his hand cupping Face's cheek. "Kid, I need you to tell me if the pain is getting worse or..."
"NNnnhurts," Face whispered, teeth clamped together.
"I know it does, kid." He shook the thermometer and winced at the hard set of Face's jaw. "Face, I want to take your temperature... Don't bite down on this. Okay?"
Face squinted at Hannibal, nodded and opened his mouth.
Basic medical training and research – because it never did any harm to know more than you needed – meant that Hannibal knew the symptoms and treatment of many medical ailments, appendicitis included. He knew that the onset could be sudden, or less so, and he knew that the only treatment was surgery.
A rapid rise in temperature meant a possible rupture, and if the pain ever lessoned for a brief time, then it was too late. A ruptured appendix led to inflammation and infection of the abdominal cavity. And peritonitis was life threatening.
Face needed surgery and antibiotics, and fast. His time was running out.
"Okay, 102," Hannibal murmured reading the thermometer. He looked up to see Murdock gently wipe away the sweat beading on Face's forehead. "Face, lemme check your stomach, okay?"
"Nnno, hurts, b-boss," Face swallowed and tightened his arms around himself. He so didn't want Hannibal pressing there, it bloody hurt!
Hannibal, however, wasn't going to take no as an answer. He and Murdock carefully pried away Face's arms. "I'll be gentle," the colonel promised. Face half sobbed half snorted at that and stiffened when those torturous fingers were pushing into his sore and tender abdomen.
"How's the pain here?" Hannibal asked softy pressing down against the left side of Face's belly button. Face flinched and sucked in a breath. "Okay, kid," the colonel nodded and stopped his exam. At least Face's stomach was still soft and tender, and not swollen. They had a little time yet.
"You'll be alright, Facey," Murdock murmured as Hannibal moved to the front seat of the van. Face, eyes still tight shut, barely nodded.
"BA, head towards Tifton," Hannibal murmured as he checked out the map. "Big city, big hospital, lots of people, easy to blend in," he nodded. "They also have an air-rescue unit, which could come in handy."
Murdock glanced up. "Ooo, love those medi-birds, great lil' flyer's!"
"Medi-bird?" BA scowled as he took the van down another secluded back road, avoiding any potential police road blocks. He winced and mumbled an apology when Face whimpered after being jostled a little too hard. Damn bumpy back country roads!
"Just as a backup, BA," Hannibal reassured him.
"Besides, I won't be flyin' dangerously with Face, now will I, BA?" Murdock asked a tad put out.
BA just grumbled and keyed his . "Avoiding the main highways, we'll be there in about a coupl'a hours, boss," he said quietly. How's he doin'?"
"He'll make it, BA," Hannibal said flashing his lieutenant a concerned look.
An agonising hour later, BA slowed the van down and flicked off his headlights.
"What is it?" Hannibal asked.
"Road block up ahead," BA murmured.
Murdock looked up and bit his lip. Face had worsened over the past hour, they did not need this. "Bossman?"
"Stay with Face, Murdock," Hannibal nodded and climbed out of the van with BA. The pilot watched them disappear into the dark bushes.
"Where...?" Face whispered, eyes only just open. Murdock wiped away the beading sweat from the kid's face and forced out a smile.
"Bossman an' BA? Oh, jus' gone to see about a lil' bitty road block s'all," he said as lightly as he could. He was so worried about his friend.
"Hey, m'gonna... be okay," Face mumbled softly and closed his eyes again. "Don' worry, buddy."
Tears teetered on the edge of Murdock's lashes. Face was burning up and was being very ...spacey. It scared Murdock seeing his best friend like that, and then he remembered what Hannibal had told him about appendicitis, even if it was just to try and keep him informed, fell helpful, keep him calm...
"Um, are you in pain? I mean, like you were before?" Murdock asked hesitantly, silently praying that he was wrong, that-
"Hmmmno... s'okay," Face slurred, small smile flitting across his lips. "Feel... a little better... actually."
"Can I take a look, Facey?" Murdock asked gently. Face nodded and put up no resistance when his arms were moved. He did, however, cry out when Murdock pressed his whole palm across his lower abdomen.
"Jesus, Christ," Murdock hissed to himself. Face's stomach was hot to the touch and swollen, and clearly painfully tender. If Hannibal was right, and Murdock knew the boss was seldom wrong, Face's appendix had most probably burst.
He was out of time!
Plastering on a pained smile, Murdock leaned close to Face kissed his forehead, trying to calm his fear, trying to be strong. He had to be strong for Face. "You're gonna be okay, Facey," he whispered.
There were two cars and three armed policemen at the road block, all looking bored.
"Kneecap 'em?" BA suggested. Hannibal frowned.
"No, they'll radio in our position," he said. "Disable the radio's, cars and incapacitate them."
BA grinned and they moved out. The cars and radios were easy to disable, a quick slash to the tyres, and careful stealthy manoeuvring with the car doors meant the radios didn't stand a chance. When done, both BA and Hannibal stood behind the three officers.
"You waiting for somebody?" asked Hannibal, his gun levelled at them. All three spun around and gawped. "Throw 'em down."
Rolling his eyes, Hannibal indicated to their weapons, half expecting duelling banjos to make an appearance. "Good. Now, hands up."
At least they understood that.
"You ain't gonna get away with this, y'know," one of the officer's muttered as BA slipped their own handcuffs onto them, securing each officer to a car door handle.
"Seems to me I already have," Hannibal smiled. He yanked off the officer's belts and secured their ankles. "Oh, you might wanna move off the road," he suggested.
"Wha' d'ya mean?" the same officer spoke. "Hey!"
BA and Hannibal sprinted back to the van and jumped in, immediately started the engine and slowly edged out onto the road. Murdock curled his hand around Hannibal's bicep and the colonel looked at the deep set worried wide eyes.
"What is it? Face?"
"I... I think its burst, bossman," the pilot blurted moving out of the way as Hannibal climbed into the back of the van and palmed the kid's face. Shit, he was burning up.
"Face," he urged, but the kid just shivered and moaned. "Face, c'mon, kid, talk to me!"
"B-boss," Face gasped, voice barely above a whisper.
"Open your eyes," Hannibal said softly and waited until Face's fever bright blue eyes fought against the heavy lids and opened. "That's it, kid. Look at me..." Face tried his best, he really did but, he just couldn't focus and a violent tremor shook him and he lurched to the side and vomited.
The painful gasp and cry wrenched at Murdock and BA and they looked at each other, before the pilot locked eyes with Hannibal.
"Geez, Face," Hannibal winced and carefully leaned him back in the reclined seat. Without permission, he lifted the kid's shirt and gently palpated his stomach again, watching Face's expression, as he'd done before, but this time, what he saw scared him. Murdock was right, the appendix felt like it'd burst, and soon the lining of the abdominal cavity would start to become inflamed and infected with bacteria and the pain will start to worsen again.
And if left, Face would die.
Hannibal pulled Face's shirt down and looked at him. A US Ranger, Special Forces trained soldier. One of the best marksmen the seasoned colonel had ever seen. Hell, the kid had survived countless dangerous missions... only now to be beaten by his appendix. Taken out by an enemy striking from within... It was no way for him, for anyone, to die.
Life just sucked.
"Hold on," BA announced as he approached the two police vehicles blocking the road. The van was going to hit! The three hapless officers, now cowering in fear, had only managed to move the cars so far.
"Shit!" Murdock yelped when he was thrown forward against the dashboard. BA scowled at him for a second before looking worriedly behind him at Hannibal.
Face was rigid with pain, the jolt aggravating his already sore and abused body, and Hannibal was trying desperately to calm him down.
"Face, c'mon kid, breathe!"
Murdock whipped his head around and scampered into the back with them, his eyes widening in fear. Face's teeth were clamped together and he was gasping for breath.
"Jesus, Facey," the pilot murmured and looked at Hannibal. The colonel had his hand on the kid's face, trying to get him to focus, to breathe. Eventually Face calmed and he dragged in a gagged, pain filled breath.
"That's it, kid, slow and easy," Hannibal said softly. Murdock bit his lip and ran his fingers shakily through his hair. He felt so helpless.
"What about givin' him some more morphine, boss," he asked quietly, wanting his best friend to just stop hurting. Hannibal nodded. The damage was done, all they could do until Face was safely tucked up in hospital was manage his pain. Murdock reached into the medical kit and pulled out another pre filled syringe.
"Face," Hannibal said as he took the morphine. Face didn't stir. "Kid, c'mon, open your eyes."
The tight lines around Face's mouth and eyes, and his creased forehead screamed pain, but he obeyed and opened his eyes, swallowing against the wavering focus that made him feel really queasy. When his eyes did focus, he saw both Hannibal and Murdock looking closely at him.
"H-hi," he croaked with an attempted smile that turned into a grimace.
"Hey, kid," Hannibal gently patted his face. "I'm gonna give you some more morphine, okay?"
"Facey?" Murdock urged when Face didn't answer Hannibal. The colonel uncapped the syringe and swabbed Face's arm, the sharp smell of the antiseptic wipe filling the air. He gripped the muscle and waited. "Face?"
"Hannibal's gonna stick ya with a needle," Murdock advised. "The morphine, remember?"
"Hmmm," Face nodded and didn't even flinch when the needle slid home.
"How far, BA?" Hannibal asked a few minutes later. Face had blessedly dozed off with the morphine and Murdock refused to leave his side, constantly checking the kid's pulse and breathing.
"Half hour into the city, Hannibal," BA said, "Then some time to ditch this van and get us a new one, then we hafta get to the hospital..."
Hannibal blew out a breath. He looked over at Face again, saw the pasty features, the sweaty flush, the lines of pain, and frowned. God, hang on, kid, he silently prayed.
Tifton was quiet at the late hour that it was, and the streets were fortunately devoid of traffic. BA slowed the van down and parked in a back alleyway. "Parkin' lot, next block," he nodded already climbing out of the van. He looked towards Face and frowned. "I'll get us a van, be back in a few."
Hannibal watched him disappear into the darkness before packing up their belongings.
"How's he doin'?" he asked Murdock from the rear of the van.
Murdock shook his head, fear in his eyes. "He ain't doin' well at all, boss," he said softly. "He's so hot an'... he ain't breathin' right." Locking eyes with Hannibal, the pilot asked, "We're gonna lose him, aren't we?"
"No, HM," Hannibal said firmly. He fastened the holdall up and grabbed Murdock's hand. "Listen to me. Face is strong, he'll make it. Besides, he has his best friend to live for. Right?"
"S'right... buddy," Face whispered. Hannibal turned around to see his XO looking at them through washed out pain filled eyes. "All, boss... family..."
Hannibal smiled at Face and gently cupped his cheek. "That's right, kid," he swallowed hard, knowing that even though Face was trying, his time was virtually out. "Family."
"God... Just, don't..." Murdock stuttered, lump firmly in this throat. He laid his forehead against Face's and steadied his breathing. "Just don't leave us, Face. Y'hear?"
"I hear ya," Face said so softly the two men strained to hear.
With the pain and the morphine, Face didn't know which way was up, what time it was, or where they were, all he knew was his little bubble of intense agony every time he breathed or moved, interspersed with moments of floating and drifting, seconds of pain-free bliss before it hit him again. He knew he was dying, could feel his energy, his will ebbing away, and each time the pain hit he selfishly wished it would end.
But he couldn't leave his family, Murdock, Hannibal, BA... and for them, he'd hang on for as long as he could.
It was really hard, though. His stomach felt like a grenade had exploded inside it. When he heard Hannibal mention appendicitis, his heart had sunk. For him, the team would now risk themselves out in the open. For him.
And as he felt Murdock's cool hand on his fevered cheek, Face realised he'd do the exact same for any of his family.
BA pulled the light blue SUV behind his GMC in the alley and jumped out. He ran his hand down the red paint work, so stark against the black, and gave his girl a loving pat. God knows how, but he'd get her back. "Got us a vehicle," he said as Hannibal opened the door and dropped the holdalls at BA's feet.
"Good," Hannibal nodded. "C'mon, let's get goin'."
Between them they got the holdalls and Face into the SUV and headed towards the hospital. Face was stretched out on the back seat, head in Murdock's lap, and Hannibal kept his eyes on the road for signs of danger.
"How long, bossman?" Murdock asked, anxiety making his voice tight.
"Ten minutes, Murdock," Hannibal murmured and turned around. He glanced down at Face and frowned. The kid's lips were an unhealthy shade of blue, his skin a deathly grey. "Shit!" He leaned over the seats and pressed his fingers to Face's throat. "How long's he been like this?"
"Not long... I think... I think he's dyin', bossman," Murdock said brokenly, tightening his hold around the lieutenant.
BA swung his head around alarmed.
"No, he's still with us," Hannibal sighed shakily when he felt a flutter of a pulse under the sweaty skin. "Jesus, kid, hang on..."
The ten minutes became five as BA floored the van.
"Please, help me! My brother... He's sick," Murdock announced as he crashed through the emergency room doors of Tifton City Hospital. At the late hour, the only occupants of the ER were a couple of patched up drunk youth's waiting for their ride, an elderly man muttering to himself accompanied by two bored looking police men, and a mother with six children, all covered in a poison oak rash. At his frantic voice, two ER doctors and a nurse ran towards Murdock.
"In the van," Murdock said quickly and rushed back to Face. "He's sick... God! Please help him!"
With one look at Face, the nurse flew back inside and returned with a gurney, on which they carefully laid the stricken man.
"How long has he been sick, sir?" asked one of the doctor's, his fingers on Face's neck.
"Um... since yesterday," Murdock swallowed hard. "Is he... Is he gonna be alright?"
They crashed through the doors to the treatment room and Murdock watched with wide eyes at the speed Face was hooked up to IV's and monitors. Medical jargon flew over his head and more people surrounded his friend, shouting out orders and scaring the crap out of the pilot.
He wished Hannibal and BA were there.
"How long has he been sick, sir?"
"Um... since yesterday. Is he... Is he gonna be alright?"
Hannibal's finger nails scraped noisily over the bricks as his fists curled in frustration. He and BA were hidden behind a wall, anxiously watching the scene. They'd decided to send Murdock in with Face, and then sneak in later, to avoid suspicion. He just prayed the pilot could hold it together long enough and that Face pulled through alright.
Frowning hard at himself, Hannibal questioned himself again, whether leaving Face so long without medical treatment had been the right thing to do. And if Face died as a result...
Well, he'd never forgive himself.
"Hannibal, they gone, man," BA hissed lowly gently tugging at the colonel's sleeve. Hannibal looked up, worry clear in his blue eyes.
"Yeah. Come on," he nodded and they headed towards the basement entrance.
After a flurry of activity, Face was suddenly wheeled out of the ER and towards the elevators, IV's, monitors and medical personnel in tow. Murdock started to follow but was stopped by a nurse.
"I'm sorry, sir, but you can't go through there," she said gently as she directed Murdock to a small waiting room.
"But... Is he...?" The pilot was frantic with worry, anxiously biting at his lip. He fell back into a chair.
"Your brother's appendix has ruptured," the nurse told him quietly. She sat down next to him and laid a comforting hand on his arm. "The doctors are doing everything they can, but-"
"But?" Murdock's eyes flew open. But? But what?
"You have to understand, sir, he's very sick." She let that information sink in for a few moments before handing the pilot a clip board with a form attached. "If you can find a moment to fill out this form, sir, that would be good. Just hand it to the receptionist when you're done."
Murdock stared unseeing at the clipboard and absently nodded. The nurse smiled and stood up.
"If you need anything, please don't hesitate to ask and I'll be back as soon as I know anything about your brother," she smiled gently.
"Thanks," Murdock whispered and looked at the form again. When he looked up, he was alone. "Oh, Facey, please be okay."
He gripped the pen and frowned at the questions on the clipboard. It was a standard medical insurance form, but what did he write? Then he remembered Hannibal's quick instructions and fished out a folded piece of paper from his pocket with a small smile.
"Okay, name... Henry Jones. Address... 39750 Mercer Street, Iowa. Medical number..." he scribbled diligently until the form was finished, dotting every I, crossing every T, consciously making the effort to stop his pen from doodling those little smiley faces in the spaces.
Two hours later and Murdock was pacing the small room when the door opened and the nurse walked in. He grabbed her shoulders and stared at her, wanting to know any news, afraid that the news wasn't what he wanted to hear.
"Mr Jones, your brother is in recovery," she said yelping in surprise when Murdock hugged her.
"He's okay? He's okay?"
"Well, Henry is still a very sick man. His appendix had burst and the infection had to be cleaned out. He'll be on antibiotics for a few days, but we anticipate a full recovery."
Murdock looked at her, and then smiled. "Thank you! Can I see 'im?"
She smiled back and nodded. "A nurse from the ICU will be down soon to take you to him."
"Okay, thank you," Murdock said and dropped his hands from her arms.
Face couldn't decide whether he was drunk or drugged, or even on the same planet. He felt like he was floating, detached from himself, from reality... He could hear noises, but they were muffled and distant, like his head and ears were filled with cotton wool.
Hangover, he decided. He definitely had to be suffering from a hangover, but what a humdinger.
What the fuck did he drink?
Trying to think, Face suddenly remembered pain. Intense, crippling, breath stealing pain, and then it all came back.
Feeling like shit, throwing up... stomach cramps. And then thinking he was dying, the worry and concern for him from his team...
He pried open his eyes and squinted at the blurry images.
He was in a hospital. Hannibal had risked them all by bringing him to-
"Well, hello there, Henry."
Face started at the soft voice and sucked in a breath. He blinked as the source of the voice moved into his line of vision, tears blurring the image as he focussed.
"How are you feeling? Any nausea? Pain?"
A cool hand cupped his cheek and Face instinctively moved away. "Whu..."
"I'm just going to take your temperature," the voice said even as Face felt the strange cold plastic in his ear. "You're still running a bit of a fever."
Fever? Face frowned and tried to raise his head when he felt a gentle restraining push.
"Hey now, you've just had surgery, take it easy, Henry," the soft voice chided. He let his head fall back. It was just as well as a sickening wave of nausea rolled through him. He closed his eyes.
Who was Henry, anyway?
"Henry, open your eyes," the voice ordered. Face felt himself propped over onto his side just in time for his body to spasm painfully and he vomited. "That's it... Just relax..."
"Ah... God," Face gasped hoarsely through his abused throat, his confused mind trying to piece together what the hell was happening... He was sick... in hospital... fever... surgery...
Anaesthetic... That explained the vomiting. Face always reacted badly to anaesthetic. His world tilted again as he was laid back, a cool cloth wiping his mouth.
"I'm going to give you something to stop the nausea, okay?"
Face nodded, a little more alert now. He opened his eyes when he felt the sting of medication in the back of his hand and saw a petite blonde haired woman in scrubs smiling back at him.
"You should be feeling a little better soon, Henry," she said. "I know anaesthesia sometimes doesn't sit right with some people." Adjusting his blanket, she looked into Face's eyes, "Are you in any pain?"
Swallowing, he shook his head. His stomached ached and his head pounded, but Face didn't want any more drugs. What he wanted was to find his team and get out of there. Every minute he was in that bed was increasing the risk of being caught.
"Whe... When can I... go home?" he asked, voice sounding strangely high and raw.
"You're still quite poorly, Henry," the recovery nurse said slowly. "Your appendix had already ruptured when you were brought into surgery. It'll be at least a couple of days until you're back on your feet and well enough to be discharged."
Face listened to her and nodded. He'd wait a day, then. "Where am I?"
"Tifton City Hospital. Your brother brought you in."
"Brother?" Face frowned confused. God, his head was scrambled, he couldn't think...
"Yes. He's waiting to see you," she smiled.
Brother? Who... What if it was the military police waiting... Face looked down at his wrists and ankles – no cuffs, okay, so that wasn't likely. That could only mean Hannibal or Murdock, most likely Murdock. He sighed. Damn, his team were still here, taking unnecessary risks. For him.
"Where is he?" Face asked quietly. The nurse scribbled something on his chart and checked her watch.
"We'll be moving you to ICU in twenty minutes, he can see you then."
Face nodded tiredly and let his eyes drift close. They snapped open when he saw Hannibal's face at the door window. He stared for a moment, his vision wavering slightly, and blinked slowly, frowning when Hannibal wasn't there anymore.
Great, he thought, he was seeing things now.
"He in there?" BA asked quietly when Hannibal slipped back through the door of the room they were hiding in.
"Yeah, he's there. He's awake," Hannibal nodded. Awake meant recovering, awake meant Face was hopefully going to be alright.
"Did he see you?"
"Yeah, but he still looks groggy from the surgery, so I doubt he'll believe what he saw," the colonel shrugged. "As soon as he's out of the ICU, we'll get him and go."
"Are you sure that's safe, boss?" BA frowned. He knew they couldn't stay there longer than they had to, but pulling Face from the hospital after he was so close to death...
"I'm sure. We'll have supplies. He'll be okay," Hannibal said, reassuring himself as much as BA. "Besides, if I know Face, he'll be itching to blow this joint as soon as he's properly awake."
BA grinned, Hannibal was right.
Swimming in and out of a light, drug addled doze, Face frowned slightly when he heard an angry whispered hiss behind the curtain by his bed. He forced open his eyes to see the same blinding white strip lights of the recovery room, squinting as tears suddenly stung.
"Yeah, that's right! Jones... Henry Jones," the voice hissed again. Face cocked his head and listened to the one sided 'phone conversation. "Yes, I'm fucking sure! No, he came in with only one other man. His brother." The curtain ruffled and Face quickly shut his eyes, feigning sleep. "You want me to kill him?"
Kill him? What?
An evil snicker filled Face's ears. "Okay, I'll leave him for you. See you soon." Face felt warm hands on his brow and pulled in a shuddering breath. He opened his eyes to see a pair of smiling brown ones in his line of vision, blinking, startled, at the same wide intensity he'd seen once before...
"Mister Jones? We're moving you to ICU now," the woman smiled, full red lips pulling over white teeth. Face's heart thumped in his throat as his drugged brain finally caught up and forced his eyes to look at the name tag on the woman's uniform. Rosanna Genoa.
"Henry? Can you hear me?"
With a quick nod from him, the woman smiled again and pulled his bed away from the wall. Face closed his eyes at the sudden, nauseating motion, only opening them again when his bed stopped moving.
When he did, worried blue-green ones were staring back at him. "Hey, buddy," he whispered with a tired smile.
"Hey, Facey," Murdock said softly, his fingers gently stroking Face's hair behind his ear. "How're you feelin'? Are you okay? Please tell me you're okay..."
Face caught the pilot's hand in his own and stilled it. "I'm gonna be okay, buddy, I promise," he nodded and Murdock let out a huge shuddering breath.
"Jesus, you had me... had us all scared to death," he admitted, tears filling his eyes. "I thought you were gonna die, you were so sick."
Watching his friend wipe his eyes on his sleeve, Face swallowed hard as he realised what he'd put his team through. "I'm sorry," he whispered, "I'm so sorry."
Murdock blinked and sniffed, rolling his eyes. "You ain't got nothin' to be sorry for, Faceman," he snorted. "Ain't your fault your appendix decided to try an' kill ya!" He pulled a face and Face smiled. "I'm just glad we got you here in time," Murdock finished softly.
"Yeah, me too. Thank you," Face nodded. He looked around the ICU, "Where-?"
"Oh, they're around," Murdock whispered knowing who Face was asking about. Hannibal and BA were somewhere hiding. "They'll be by when you least expect it," he winked.
So, Face did see Hannibal at the door of the recovery room, he thought with a frown. Murdock smoothed the frown away with his thumb.
"What's up, muchacho?"
"Yeah, Hannibal has a plan, don't worry, Facey," Murdock told him. "You just concentrate on getting better, okay?"
Face watched as Murdock took a step back from his bed to let a nurse through.
"Hello, Mister Jones," she said with a tender smile. "I'm just going to check your vitals and change your IV bag. Are you in any pain?"
Face shook his head, his eyes narrowing in thought... he needed to remember something... something important...
"Okay. This is just small sedative," she continued, deftly injecting the contents of a syringe into his IV port. "Just to help you sleep."
Face watched her for a moment, and then his eyes fell on her name tag and he pulled in a sharp breath. The nurse frowned and looked at him with concern.
He forced out a smile and shrugged. "Just a twinge, I'm okay... I'm okay," he said and she nodded satisfied, quickly noted his vitals, changed his IV bag and left. Murdock's worried face came into view.
"You sure you're okay, Facey? You look real pale," he asked, frowning when Face's hand gripped his tight.
"She's here," Face hissed urgently, eyes wide. Murdock blinked confused.
"The nurse," Face swallowed thinking about the hissed telephone conversation he'd overheard. He screwed his eyes closed and shook his head, trying to clear it. "She said..."
Growing concerned, Murdock rubbed his friend's hand. "It's okay, Facey, it's just the drugs... they do funny things to your mind. Trust me," he nodded knowingly, but Face gripped harder.
"No, she said... kill me!"
Murdock bit his cheek in thought. "Um, you think maybe she meant your appendix? 'Cause that would've killed you if-"
"No," Face shook his head. "No..." But what if that was right? What if his stupid drug confused brain had misheard and he was panicking over nothing? Martine Genoa had disappeared when Cottonwood was killed, Face had checked. She'd used her passport with a one way, economy class ticket to Mexico. No way would she risk coming back into the US as she was wanted by the police in three states, Georgia included.
"You're still pretty sick, Facey," Murdock soothed, "And I'll be here all the time, so you can sleep and get better."
Releasing his death grip on Murdock's hand, Face blew out a breath and tried to sit up, barely swallowing a gasp when a sudden sharp spasm of pain forced him to stop. Murdock started forward and gently eased his friend to lie back down again.
"What d'ya think you're doin', Facey?" he chided, worry colouring his voice. "For God's sake, you nearly died, muchacho... You have to rest. D'ya hear me?"
Carefully controlling his breathing, Face risked opening his eyes against to slow spin the room was doing and forced out a smile for his friend. "S-sorry, HM," he whispered all of a sudden feeling really tired. His eyes felt heavy and he couldn't stop them closing again. "Be...be careful... she's here," he slurred, and Murdock narrowed his eyes.
"Who is here, Face?" he repeated but Face was already asleep. "S'okay, Facey," Murdock whispered close to his ear, "You sleep and get better, I'll be right here when you wake up."
"How is he?" Hannibal asked as soon as Murdock slipped into the storage room, two floors below the ICU. The pilot sighed and rubbed his hands over his face.
"He's better than he was," he said with a small nod, worry and concern still etched into his tired features. "The drugs are scramblin' his brain, though."
BA glanced up sharply, "Whaddya mean, fool?"
Murdock looked from BA to Hannibal and shrugged. "He thinks the nurses are out t'get him," he said. "Kept tellin' me that she's here, she's gonna kill him, but he's pretty doped up..."
Hannibal frowned, rubbed his fingers over his stubbly chin and pursed his lips. "Did he say who?"
The pilot shook his head. "I figured he mixed up what the nurses had told him about his appendix. Like I said, he's really out of it."
"I don't like this, Hannibal," BA growled, doped up or not, whatever Face had said, the sooner they were out of there the better.
"Me neither, big guy," Hannibal agreed. He turned to Murdock. "Where in ICU is Face?"
Pulling out a pen, the pilot quickly sketched a basic floor plan of the intensive care unit on the back of paper towel, indicating where Face's bed was. "There are six patients on the ward at the moment, with Face's bed at the far end."
"What about staff?" Hannibal asked.
"Three on the ward, with the rest on call. It's quiet now."
The colonel mused over the sketch. It was going to be difficult to get his lieutenant out of there, but not impossible. Something creative had to be thought up, and his mind started formulating a plan.
"What's this area here?" he asked pointing to a void next to Face's bed. The ICU was laid out in a dog leg fashion, with Face's bed placed at the end, isolated from the rest of the patients.
"Oh, I think that's the wards supply room," Murdock answered. "It has emergency equipment and drugs in it, and also has a door on the other side opening directly onto the main hospital corridor, but it's always locked."
"Okay. Murdock, I need to see Face's chart," Hannibal said. He needed to see what supplies they needed, and also to satisfy his own need to know his boy was really doing okay.
"Okay, I can get you that," Murdock nodded. "What do you have in mind, bossman?"
"Tifton City Hospital is about to have a fire drill. And in the chaos, we're gonna spring the kid and get him out via the ambulance bay, where you, BA, will have a vehicle waiting. Okay?"
"Sounds crazy, Hannibal," BA grunted, but nodded anyway.
"Yeah, bat-shit crazy," Murdock frowned and Hannibal grinned. "Fuck, Hannibal's on the jazz, man. I'll go an' get Facey's chart."
BA and Hannibal watched Murdock leave before grabbing a box from the storage shelf, emptying the contents on the floor, and started to pack it with general medical supplies.
Face was still asleep when Murdock walked quietly up to his bedside. He nodded to the nurse on duty, watching her until she disappeared around the corner to her station, and then picked up Face's chart. He looked at it, noting the steady vital readings recorded down and smiled in relief. Looked like his friend was comfortable and recovering well. He unclipped the papers and replaced them with another set he'd borrowed from a patient in a private room he'd silently visited on the way back up to the ICU, altering the chart to match Face's best he could.
Shoving the papers into his pocket, Murdock leaned over Face and gently stroked his fingers through the caramel hair, moving an errant lock from the man's forehead. Face stirred slightly.
"Shhh, go back to sleep," the pilot whispered softly, smiling when Face settled again.
"Here," Murdock murmured as he handed Face's chart over to Hannibal.
The colonel quickly unfolded the paper and scoured the results with intense eyes.
"Hannibal?" BA queried, also needing to know for sure about his 'little brother'.
"Results are good. He's doing good," Hannibal breathed, relief loosening the tight knot in his shoulders a fraction. He handed BA the drug list. "Get a supply of these drugs, big guy."
Smiling, BA nodded once and disappeared into the back of the supply room, coming back a moment later with a frown on his face. "Can't find any of these back there, Hannibal," he said holding up the drug list.
"Okay, we need access to a drug room. Murdock, you said there was one next to Face's bed?" Hannibal asked.
"Yeah," he nodded, winking with a grin, "Leave it to me."
"Better not mess up, fool," BA said, growling when Murdock waggled his eye brows at him.
"Knock it off, you two," Hannibal said from the door where he was keeping watch. He closed the door again and turned to his men. Even at the late hour, the hospital was still active with the odd member of staff wandering down the corridors, they needed to blend in..."BA, we need scrubs."
"Murdock, get those drugs and both of you meet me back here in twenty, got it?" Hannibal finished.
"What're you gonna do?" Murdock frowned, noting the jazzed look in the older man's eyes again.
"I'm gonna set up some smoke bombs in the air ducts," he winked and selected a couple of bottles off a shelf and quietly slipped out of the supply room, leaving BA and Murdock blinking at each other.
The ICU was quiet when Face woke up. He opened his eyes and squinted at the clock he could see on the far wall – 0100. Slowly he turned his head and frowned when the chair next to his bed was empty. Where was Murdock?
Voices sounded in the room and Face closed his eyes again, feigning sleep, listening to the subdued whispering getting closer, and then his heart froze and he stiffened as he heard that accent, that sultry Spanish accent...
"You have one minute, Martine," a second voice hissed beside his bed, the same voice he'd heard in the recovery room earlier. He kept very still.
"Oh, I'll need less than that," Genoa purred and Face inwardly cringed when he felt a cool hand stroke up his stomach and over his pectoral, fingernails scraping over his nipple. His eyes flew open to see Martine Genoa's dark eyes staring back at him, cold and hard. An evil smile twisted her mouth. "You killed my lover," she hissed between her teeth.
Face blinked, colour leaching from his face when she produced a syringe full of pale liquid. "I..."
"Shut up, Mister Jones or should I call you Lieutenant Templeton Peck? I know who you are, and I know who your friends are," she sneered and leaned closer. "And after I kill you, I'm going to kill them... slowly and painfully. But, I just wanted you to know that."
"Martine, hurry the fuck up," the other woman hissed and Genoa scowled at her. She turned back to Face with a sickly smile and stroked her fingers over his cheek and lips.
"Shame, though, you are very pretty," she murmured, tongue licking over her full red lips. The action made Face shudder in revulsion and she blinked and leaned back, grabbed his IV port and held the needle poised over it. "I have them, you know."
"W-who?" Face swallowed, eyes glued to the syringe, wanting desperately to move but his body refusing to.
"Your friends... Captain James Murdock, Sergeant Bosco Baracus, and the infamous Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith," she clarified coldly and stuck the needle in the port, watching with perverse satisfaction when the man's eyes widened in fear. "But whereas you get to die peacefully in your sleep, I'm gonna carve your friends up into tiny pieces..." And Face watched paralysed as she plunged the liquid into his IV.
"Eye for an eye," she hissed, pressed the off button on his heart monitor and turned away when the other woman hissed at her again, pulling his curtain closed as she went.
Face jerked and winced, leaning over quickly to pull out his IV. He pressed hard on the back of his hand to stop the bleeding before carefully sitting up and quietly lowering his bed guard. He listened for Genoa's or the other woman's voice, but couldn't hear anything, so he gingerly shifted his legs off the bed and tried to stand.
"Shiiit," he hissed when his body protested painfully. He wrapped an arm around his stomach and breathed slowly, unhooking himself free of the machines. He felt like crap, the room span sickeningly and his body so far was refusing to cooperate.
But, if Martine Genoa was telling the truth, his team was in trouble and needed him.
"C'mon, Peck, for fuck's sake," he growled to himself forcing his sluggish limbs to move. He stood up and gripped the bed when the world tilted and he swayed to the side. Closing his eyes tightly, he took a deep shuddering breath and blew it out slowly, pushing himself off and cautiously shuffling the few steps to the edge of the curtain. He peered around it, and after checking the coast was clear, quietly slipped past the empty nurse's station and out of the ICU.
He didn't know where everyone was, nor did he care. His vision swam and he felt his way to the nearest door, tried it and slipped through when it opened. The room was dark aside from a small light from an electric digital clock. He scanned the area, realised it was a place where on call staff rested between shifts, and locked the door. He flicked on the light, slamming his eyes shut at the sudden brightness and groaned harshly when his head pounded.
Moving his hand blindly along the wall, he flicked the light off again. "That was stupid," he mumbled to himself and made his way over to a small cot in the corner of the room and turned on the bedside lamp. Much better.
Opening the cupboards, Face found a set of scrubs, which he pulled on, discarding the drafty backless gown he'd been wearing, and slipped his feet into a pair of sneakers he found in the bottom. They were a little big, but they'd do.
Now, he had to find his friends, before it was too late.
BA never made it to the locker room where he'd decided to pilfer sets of scrubs for them. A quick hard thwack to the back of his head rendered him instantly unconscious, and he didn't even know what had hit him until he came to, tied up to a shelf rack in a dark storage room that smelled musty and damp.
"BA, you okay?" Hannibal whispered loudly from the other side of the shelves.
"Yeah, man," he grunted, groaning at the thump in his skull. "Wha' the fuck happ'ned?"
"It's that Genoa bitch," Murdock's southern drawl drifted towards him from the other side. "I shoulda listened to Facey, he said she was here... But I didn't believe him, an' now she's gonna kill him, an' we can't stop her, an'... It ain't right, Hannibal!"
"I know, Murdock, just take it easy," Hannibal soothed. A disgruntled harrumph answered him.
"Genoa? From that job with that crazy ass Cottonwood? Where the fuck we at, anyway?" BA asked squinting into the darkness.
"Hospital basement, and yes, bitch is out for revenge. Seems she has a sister working here, recognised the name Face was booked in with," Hannibal replied. He'd been led there by gun point, caught just before he'd had chance to set off his homemade smoke bombs. At least he hadn't been knocked out like BA.
Murdock was last to arrive, sporting a nasty black eye and looking dazed, but still awake and sneering at his captor.
Then Martine Genoa showed herself, boasting about how she'd found them, how easy it was to pick the off one by one, and telling them exactly what she was going to do to Face before alerting the authorities and leaving the rest of the infamous A Team to them.
"Sister?" BA said, "Fuckin' great."
"S'all my fault... If I'd only listened to Face, believed him... Booked him in under a different name even," Murdock muttered, getting even more agitated.
"HM, it's not your fault-" Hannibal started only to be cut off by the frantic pilot.
"She's gonna kill him... In his sleep, bossman," he cried. "That ain't any way for him to die! He's sick, helpless... It's not fair!"
"Shut up, fool," BA hissed. "Faceman ain't gonna die, it ain't his time yet. Right Hannibal?"
Hannibal winced. The truth was, that bitch Genoa was probably going to kill his lieutenant, and tied up in the basement they could do fuck all to stop her, and his heart felt as though shards of ice were shattering it to pieces.
"Hannibal?" Murdock's small voice sounded when the colonel didn't answer BA.
"He's right, HM," he lied and swallowed the bitter taste away quickly. "Face is gonna be okay. You'll see."
The damp cold darkness filled the void and the three remaining members of the A Team sat in silence for a minute.
"Well, I for one am not gonna let some sex crazed, hell bent on revenge bitch gonna kill my best friend," Murdock suddenly announced and with a grunt pulled his left hand free of his bindings. "Who's with me?"
"Murdock, my man," BA grinned and held up his hands watching the pilot making short work of the ropes before moving to over Hannibal and doing the same.
"Shit, the door is locked," BA frowned quietly. "An' I can hear voices on the other side."
"Looks like Genoa left her goon squad for us," Hannibal said. "That's three on three."
"Only if we can get outta here first, bossman," Murdock noted trying the door himself. It was a big metal basement door, locked tight. He glanced about the room, moving to the corner when his keen eyes spied a grill on the wall. "Whaddya think? Air ducting?"
"Let's find out," Hannibal said and lifted the pilot up. Murdock pulled off the grill and climbed in.
"Makes me feel like a TV dinner, but we can crawl outta here, boss, c'mon," he reported.
Hannibal and BA were soon crawling behind him.
Arm tight to his side, Face casually made his way past the sparse number of staff on night shift until he reached the elevator. He didn't have a clue where Genoa might have hidden his team, but decided to start at the bottom, and work his way up. So he pressed the basement button and watched the numbers descend praying no one stopped him on the way down.
He leaned back against the elevator wall and calmed his breathing. The pain in his side throbbed dully and matched the banging headache he had, but at least his vision had cleared up a little. He took a moment to check out his surgical wound, peeling back the thick bandage and grimaced at the long row of black stitches, looking angry against his red, puffy skin.
"Jesus," he breathed and pulled the bandage back over it and his shirt back down. He sighed. At least he was alive, he just hoped he got to his friends in time.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Face peaked out, checking up and down the dimly lit basement corridor first. It was clear, so he stepped out slowly. He glanced left then right deciding which way to go when he heard a low laugh from his right.
"Right it is then," he murmured to himself and eased his way silently along the wall. At the corner, he stopped and carefully looked around. He saw three suited men with guns standing by a locked door, talking together. Genoa's men, had to be.
But, three of them?
Normally, that wouldn't be a problem for Face, more of a challenge that he relished and always enjoyed. But in the shape he was in now, he didn't stand a chance. He blew out a frustrated breath and his eyes slid to the ceiling. God, what could he do?
The voices suddenly became louder and Face sandwiched himself between a laundry cart and the wall when the clip of footsteps approached his position.
"I'm gonna take a piss," the man threw over his shoulder to his two cohorts. Face watched him disappear into a small room, probably a store of some kind, and narrowed his eyes, smiling to himself. This was his chance...
The other two men were deep in conversation, busy lighting up cigarettes, and Face took that moment to scoot across the corridor and silently slip into the small room. He immediately saw the third man stood with his back to the door. His gun, a semi-automatic pistol, was tucked snugly into the back of his pants.
Face's eyes did a quick cursory sweep of the area for anything that could be used to quietly subdue the man, but found nothing. Shit, he thought as a twinge of pain reminded him that anything strenuous was definitely going to hurt, but what choice did he have. To avoid injury, and detection, he had to take the man down fast... He had to.
With a willpower dredged up from his reserves, Face jumped on the man's back, arms around his neck, hands just so, and with a quick sharp twist... killed him.
The man didn't even make a sound.
He checked the gun, nodding when he saw the full clip and chamber, flicked the safety off and stood up, trying not to look at the life he'd just taken.
Taking a deep shuddering breath, Face gently pressed against his side when the short burst of adrenalin wore off and the pain hit him, only just managing to hold back the moan that threatened to erupt. A wave of dizziness blurred his vision and he swallowed down hard, praying that he wasn't going to pass out.
"Hey, Cortez! You jerkin' off in there, or what?" A loud thump against the door suddenly cleared Face's head and he blinked rapidly. He brought the gun up and held his breath.
"Fuckin' idiot is always jerkin' off, man..." The voice faded as the man walked back to his partner and Face let the breath he was holding go.
The goons were chuckling over something they were looking at when Face sneaked a look out of the room and he lifted his gun, sliding his body along the wall until he was hidden behind an opposite corner. Behind that locked door had to be his friends, and he had to get them out.
But just as he aimed his weapon, the elevator pinged and the distinct sound of women's high heels echoed as Martine Genoa stepped out.
Face sunk back along the wall until his back hit a door handle and blindly pressed it down, slipping through when it opened, leaving it ajar slightly to watch.
"How's our guests?" she sneered, her lips twisting.
"Not a peep."
She snorted and rubbed her hands together blinking up at the two men. "Where the fuck is Cortez?" she barked. "Not jerkin' off, again?"
Sniggers filled the corridor and Genoa shook her head. "Leave him to it... only action he'll ever fuckin' see," she laughed. Face breathed a sigh of relief.
"So, Colonel Smith," she said loudly when she unlocked and opened the door, suddenly jerking around with a look so hard, Face thought her head would explode. "Where the fuck are they!" she screamed.
They weren't there? They'd escaped? Face grinned, closed the door and headed up the stairs of the fire escape he'd slipped into, leaving Genoa and her goons to it.
"Get Cortez! Find them!" was the last thing he heard, but he knew all hell would break lose when they found the poor guy, dead and lying in his own piss.
On the way up to the ICU, Hannibal and his team, dirty and sweaty from crawling through a maze of air ducts, found a locker room and helped themselves to scrubs. The mood between them was tight and grim. What would they find when they reached the ICU? Were they too late? Was Face already dead?
None of them wanted to believe what was probably true. They couldn't.
"Something's goin' on, bossman," Murdock whispered when they reached the ICU floor. Hannibal peered out of the stairwell door and frowned. Doctors and nurses were darting about frantically in a blur of white and surgical blue and green. Hannibal stepped out and stopped a passing nurse.
"What's the emergency?" he asked. The nurse eyed him up and down.
"Are you staff here?" she frowned.
He nodded and shrugged, "I'm on call in the ER," he lied and her lips thinned.
"Sorry, I didn't recognise you. There's a patient missing."
Hannibal's brows reached his hairline. "Missing? From the ICU?"
"Yeah, look, if he shows up in the ER, alert us, please. The man is still very sick," she nodded. "His name is Henry Jones. Came in with a ruptured appendix."
Hannibal's heart thumped wildly in his throat and he barely acknowledged her before she whizzed off again.
Genoa said she was going to kill him in his sleep. While he was still in the ICU, making it look like he'd just... died. But if Face was missing...
He was still alive.
"He's still alive," Hannibal hissed when he joined Murdock and BA again. Both sets of eyes flew to his.
"What?" they both gasped.
"He's missing. That's what's going on..."
"Oh my god! I knew it!" Murdock whooped, the life returning to his dulled eyes again. BA grinned widely and clapped the pilot on the back. "Where is he, then?"
"I don't know," Hannibal frowned. He pursed his lips and thought for a second. What would Face have done, where would he go...? His eyes narrowed and he sighed. "Basement."
"Basement?" BA blinked. He and Murdock exchanged glances.
"If I knew my team were in danger, that's where I'd start," Hannibal reasoned and they all nodded. Of course.
"But we ain't there anymore, bossman," Murdock pointed out the obvious with a worried look. "Just that bitch's goons... And if Face... in his current condition..."
Hannibal's mind filled in the blanks. If the kid faced off three against one with his medical condition, he didn't stand a chance.
"What do we do, Hannibal?" BA asked, knowing with the fate of his team's lives in his hands that Face would do anything, even at the risk of his own.
But if they went back to the basement, they stood the chance of running into Genoa and her men again, and, if he was still alive, maybe missing Face en route, but if they didn't...
"Odds are, they've realised we've escaped by now," Hannibal said. "And if Face is headed down there, he'll need our help." He looked at BA and Murdock. "We head back down." They had to risk it.
Murdock bit his lip and shoved his fingers through his hair sticking it up in tufts as Hannibal peaked out of the door again and frowned." They're still looking for him," he mused.
"Who are?" Murdock asked, eyes widening further. "The doctors and nurses, or Genoa? 'Cause when she finds out the ICU lost a patient, she's gonna be after Face again, makin' sure he's dead dead this time."
They wasted no more time and sprinted back to the elevator.
Face's progress had slowed with every floor, and his breath was coming in short gasps now. He looked at the next level and sighed. Ten. What level was the ICU on, again? Twenty? He was never going to make it.
Opening the door to level eleven, he carefully checked the area for either his team or Genoa and her men, before slipping back into the stair well and heading up to the next floor. He knew what he was doing was akin to searching for a virgin in a brothel, Tifton City Hospital was a big place, but he had to try. He also realised that with every floor, the odd look he was getting were becoming more and more suspicious as he probably looked as bad as he felt.
"Are you okay, doctor?" an elderly woman dressed in a pink fluffy dressing gown and matching slippers asked. He blinked at her, eyed her hospital id cuff and smiled. She was a patient. "You look a little peaky, sweetheart."
"Oh yeah, I'm fine," Face nodded. He indicated to the stairs, "Just getting some much needed exercise, you know how hard they work us here."
She chuckled and patted him on the shoulder. "I'm just taking my dog for a walk," she winked. He looked down and saw nothing. "He's a good boy," she continued to coo before stroking the air. "Aren't you, boy?"
Face glanced up and down the corridor and saw a number of elderly patients wandering about, some chatting to themselves, some singing... he was on a geriatric ward. He looked at the imaginary dog and thought of Murdock, a small smile coming to his lips as he did. "He certainly is," he answered the woman and watched her carry on walking the pet that was only there in her mind.
Taking a moment to control the pain throbbing relentlessly in his side, Face closed his eyes and leaned against the back of the door to floor twelve. "Okay, c'mon, Peck... Nearly there," he persuaded himself and pushed off the door for the next level.
Martine and her sister, Rosanna, were arguing heatedly in a small, empty visitor's lounge on the ICU. Her men stood outside, eyes sharp and beady.
"For fuck's sake, Martine, I don't know what happened," Rosanna threw up her arms. "You did give him the stuff, right?"
"Of course I did, right into his IV. Just like you told me," Martine growled back at her. She picked up a coffee mug and flung it against the wall, shattering it into pieces.
"Hey! You wanna attract attention?" the nurse frowned and glanced at the doorway. "You're wanted by the police, remember, idiot!"
"Fuck you, bitch! What I want is that bastard dead. Why isn't he dead!"
Rosanna stared at her sister, her eyes wide and full of fear when the barrel of Martine's pistol aimed right between her eyes. "Martine..."
"Shut the fuck up," Genoa hissed. She sneered hatefully at the woman. "I should kill you, too. You never liked Jerry, did you?"
"He was never good enough," she continued snarling and cocked the gun. Rosanna sucked in a breath and tears rolled down her cheeks. Martine taunted her sister by wiping the cold hard metal of the gun through the salty trails. "But, he was mine, and I loved him, and that bastard Jones took him from me. Him and his stupid A Team friends!"
"Martine, I did Like Jerry," Rosanna cried and flinched when the woman laughed and lowered her gun.
"Yeah? Well, you're gonna prove it. You're gonna help me find those bastards and then kill them. All. Understand?"
The scared woman nodded fast and leaned back trying to control her sobs. The chaos on the ICU was all because of her sister and the patient she wanted dead. Rosanna was going to lose her job, if Martine didn't kill her first.
When the elevator reached the floor just above the basement, the A Team stepped out and took the stairs, heading straight down as silently as they could.
"Coast is clear," BA whispered and Hannibal and Murdock followed the big guy into the corridor. No one was around, even Genoa's men were gone. They headed to the room they were held in.
"Well, I'd say bitch knows we've escaped," Murdock smirked when he saw the open door. He looked at Hannibal who glanced up and down the area. No sign of Face.
"Boss, in here!" BA suddenly called out from a small room. The two men quickly shot inside and stood shocked at the sight before them.
"Shit. He dead?" Murdock gasped as he knelt to see for himself anyway.
"Neck's broken," BA told Hannibal with a knowing look. Face's deadly handiwork. The colonel closed his eyes and groaned. He knew the kid hated killing, with his hands especially, and knew this would now give him nightmares for weeks.
Blowing out a breath, Hannibal motioned his men to follow him and headed back to the stair well. "We have to assume Genoa went back up to the ICU," he said as he opened the door and checked the area. "And when Face realises we escaped, he's going to know we headed back up there thinking he's still on the ward..."
"And walk right into a trap," finished Murdock. Hannibal nodded.
They took the stairs two at a time until Hannibal slowed when he heard voices above. He gave the signal for silence and carefully opened the door to level eight, slipping through after BA and Murdock. Seconds later, Hannibal and the team were back on the stair well.
They couldn't take the chance of running into trouble, not when Face's life depended on it.
By the time Face reached floor seventeen, he was panting and sweating and slumped to the floor as his legs gave out. "Shit," he hissed and closed his eyes, silently willing his body to get up, trying to find those reserves he needed to carry on. He looked at his side and saw the darkened patch on his green scrubs – some of his stitches had definitely burst. He sighed and held his arm tighter against his side.
The air in the stair well was cold and it chilled his heated skin and he rested his head against the hard wall. A sound startled him and he instinctively held his breath and concentrated carefully to determine what it was.
Panicking, Face hoisted his weary and aching body off the steps and staggered to the door, opening it slowly, slipping through when he saw the coast was clear. He saw children's paintings and artwork decorating the walls of the corridor and his brain unnecessarily told him he was on a paediatric ward. Swallowing back the rising nausea, he shuffled into the nearest unlocked store room and closed the door, locking it with a shuddering sigh.
He was so tired, he desperately wanted to sleep, but he had to get to his team before she did and forced himself to stand again. Face blinked to clear his wavering vision, wincing at the pounding in his skull, and spotted sink in the corner. His sore throat suddenly reminded him that he was parched and he limped towards it, turned the faucet on and sipped his fill.
The cold water hit the pit of his stomach instantly and he doubled over, clutching hard as waves of cramps nearly stole his breath. He moaned pitifully, biting on his lip until he tasted the coppery tang of blood to stop the noise.
God please help me, he prayed, whispering into the silence as his vision greyed out, "Please..." as the last thoughts filtering through his mind were that he'd failed his friends...
"Hannibal, there's blood here," Murdock hissed dragging his fingers through the smear of the red wetness on the wall. The colonel glanced up at the level number – seventeen – and frowned.
"BA, check it out," he quietly ordered as he knelt next to Murdock. The big guy nodded and slowly opened the door.
"You think its Face's, bossman?" Murdock whispered watching Hannibal rub the stickiness between his fingers with a grimace. He nodded. "Shit," the pilot hissed.
He didn't know for sure, but Hannibal's gut was telling him this was Face's blood, and it was still fresh. There wasn't much of it, but even so... The kid was hurting. Bad.
"Clear, Hannibal," BA reported when he slipped back through the door. "No sign o' Face anywhere."
Murdock's head shot up, his eyes wide. "Really? Then where is he?" he pulled his lips between his teeth, despair and fear creeping into his voice. "That ol' lady with the dog on twelve said I wasn't the only guy to say her dog was a good boy... That had to be Face. He has to here somewhere!"
"There weren't no dog, fool," BA growled blowing out a frustrated breath. "You crazy as she is!"
"Crazy is as crazy does, Bosco," Murdock hissed as the tension in the stair well rose.
"What does that mean? What the fuck does that even mean?" BA shot back, eyes narrowing menacingly.
Hannibal stepped in front of BA and held up his hands to the two men. "Boys, stop this," he ordered quietly but firmly. He knew they were all very worried about Face, but this wasn't helping. "HM, you're right, that woman on twelve did sound like she'd come across Face, so at least we know he's on his feet and somewhere here. Right?" Murdock nodded. "And BA, dog or not, it doesn't matter. Okay?"
He waited until both men backed down, turning when he heard Murdock take a shuddering breath and mumble an apology to the big guy.
"S'okay crazy fool," BA murmured back, "Me too."
The colonel blew out a sigh and nodded. "Come on then," he said and carried on to the twentieth floor.
Sighing frustrated as they had no weapons, Hannibal inched open the door to level twenty and instantly pushed it closed to a thin crack. Genoa's goons were thirty feet away, stood stoically outside what looked like a visitor's waiting room. He squinted and strained to hear the heated argument drifting towards him...
"Boss?" Murdock whispered when Hannibal hadn't moved in at least a minute.
"Shhh," the colonel answered and the pilot shrugged at BA. Hannibal leaned back and closed the door.
"Genoa's here," he murmured. "Her men are thirty feet to the left, and obviously armed, she's in a room with another woman. They're arguing over something. The woman is crying."
"Crying?" BA frowned.
Hannibal shrugged. As far as he was concerned, anyone cavorting with Genoa was a problem. He didn't care. "And we can't come out of here without being seen," he growled.
"Is Face with them?" Murdock suddenly asked, eyes wide. Hannibal shook his head.
"What's the plan, boss?" BA asked, trusting the colonel to come up with something, anything to get them out of this predicament.
Time was running out. Face was obviously in no fit state to be running around a hospital, especially climbing twenty floors of stairs, and Genoa and her gun wielding goons were still after them. It was only a matter of time until the police were on the scene too, if that dead body was discovered by a hospital member of staff. And that's if that bitch hadn't already made good on her promise and alerted them.
Hannibal bit his lips together, wishing he had a cigar to chew on, and drew his brows together in a moment of deep thought. "Where's the elevator in relation to here?"
Murdock grinned, "Opposite the ICU ward."
"Come on," Hannibal said and they sprinted up to the next floor.
As soon as the elevator doors opened, Hannibal knew they'd walked right into trouble when the barrel of a semi-automatic pistol aimed straight at him from the hip of a man in a dark suit.
"Nice of you to join us," he smiled coldly. "This way, if you don't mind."
Not wanting to draw attention, the team calmly stepped out of the elevator and headed towards the lounge where they knew Martine Genoa was.
"No news on Jones, but I did come across these," he said and pushed Murdock into the room, where he barrelled into BA with a grunt. Hannibal stepped in and stood his six foot plus frame next to the smaller shapely figure of the woman that was terrorising them.
She was not intimidated.
"Oooo, Colonel Smith," she purred, "Nice to see you again." She sat down and crossed her legs, six inch heeled, red patent leather pumps rhythmically bobbing a steady beat. "So, do you know where your man is? Lieutenant Peck... Henry Jones... whatever the fuck he's calling himself..."
Hannibal looked away and shook his head. As if he'd tell her, even if he did know for sure. He hoped the kid was somewhere safe. But doubted it, knowing Face.
"Cat got your tongue?" she shrugged with a sneer. She nodded to her man and he instantly drew his weapon and shoved it in Murdock's back. He yelped and scowled at the bastard. "Try again!"
"He's already dead, isn't he?" Hannibal asked instead. "You said you'd killed him in his sleep... like the spineless bitch you are."
Genoa's eyes widened and her features twisted in rage for a moment before they settled into a cold, calculating expression again.
"So, the real question is... Do you know where he is right now, and do you really think you're any match for him? I mean," Hannibal sniggered humourlessly, "One down and three to go, right? Or four, if you're any part of this," he eyed the shaking nurse in the corner of the room.
Rosanna shot a look at Martine and swallowed hard.
"Shut the fuck up," Genoa scoffed. "Peck is sick. He's no match for me."
"Really?" Hannibal crossed his arms. "Who killed your man then? Snapped his neck with his bare hands? Ring any bells?"
The calmness Hannibal exuded infuriated Genoa and she growled, pushed herself out of her chair and shoved a lamp off the table, the bulb popping as it shattered.
Hannibal glanced at BA and Murdock, communicating with his eyes – stay still, wait for a chance to act, grab the guns...
"I am going to kill you," Genoa said after a minute, her demeanour calmer as she inspected her devil red nail polish.
"Aw, but you promised you wouldn't," Hannibal mocked which earned him a hard slap that snapped his head to the side. He slowly met Genoa's eyes again and smirked.
Face closed the door to the stair well and blew out a harsh breath. If Hannibal provoked that woman anymore, she was going to put a bullet right between his eyes. And that really pissed Face off. Stupid man, he thought angrily.
Of all the situations to find when he found his team, he didn't expect to see his CO deliberately goading the enemy!
When he woke up in the small room on the paediatric level, Face had finally tapped into those reserves he stored up for emergencies, his Ranger survival training taking over, and renewed his search for Hannibal, BA and Murdock with a new found energy.
That energy now flagged as he leaned heavily against the wall and rubbed a hand over the stubble on his chin. He checked his weapon, again, before pressing the heels of both hands to his eyes. His head felt like the whole percussion section of the fucking philharmonic orchestra was banging away relentlessly in there, and he felt like he'd taken on the brute force of the US Marine Corps in a brawl to the death, and lost.
And now, Hannibal was pissing off the one person that could, would kill him.
Taking a deep breath, Face re-checked his gun and slowly opened the door again. Genoa's men were inside the little lounge and had their backs to him, the twin dark tailored suits looking absurdly like drapes framing the small window to the side of the entry. He could see Hannibal, stood, arms folded, and every few seconds Martine would strut past him, pacing agitated. Face couldn't see Murdock, but he could just make out the black of BA's mohawk through the window. He had to assume the pilot was there, too.
"Okay, Peck, you can do this," he murmured softly to himself, crouched down and slipped out into the corridor.
Movement caught Hannibal's peripheral vision and he quickly shifted his eyes, seeing Face as he edged away from the stair well doorway, but moving them back just as fast before anyone noticed. He could feel his heart thumping in his throat but outwardly kept a guise of calm, careful not to alert the enemy of what was apparently going to come.
The kid looked like shit. A tell-tale dark stain on his green scrub top telling the colonel that Face had to be running on reserves now, and he just hoped whatever he had in mind, the kid had enough energy to pull it off.
He started silently tapping his fingers against his elbow, Morse code, telling BA and Murdock that Face was here, be ready...
BA's mouth twitched and Murdock coughed to hide a sudden grin.
Martine's eyes narrowed at Murdock when the pilot looked up innocently, his bruised eye stark against his skin, making her smirk again. She sat back down and barked, "Rosanna!" The nurse scurried over. Genoa scowled at her. "Get yourself cleaned up and get out there. Find me Peck, goddamnit!"
"Don't you wonder, Miss Genoa," Hannibal mused, his head cocked to the side, "That the longer you stay in here, the chances of being found increase with every minute?"
Rosanna looked at him as she straightened her nurse uniform, her eyes dull. She shook her head.
"Tell him, Rosie," Martine grinned smugly. Hannibal watched the nurse swallow.
"The visitor's lounge is currently occupied by the loving family of George Colton, a coma patient in room eight," she dutifully stated. "So no one is going to disturb us."
Hannibal listened quietly, not even flinching when Martine's cutting laugh pierced his ears. Okay, so they could use that to their advantage...
"See, Colonel?" Genoa smiled evilly, "No one..." She turned to Rosanna. "You still here?"
Letting out a small breath of relief when the nurse hurried out of the room without looking, Hannibal surreptitiously checked his watch and the corridor. Where was Face? He started repeating the Morse code again.
The lieutenant saw the nurse fly out of the room and plastered himself against the wall just in time. "Shit," he gasped when his back flared in pain, blowing out slowly when it radiated down his side. Waiting a second for his vision to stop swimming, Face then inched forward until he could just see Hannibal. The man hadn't moved and was tapping his arm...
"Face is here, be ready..." he mouthed to himself as his brain deciphered the code. He glanced up and saw Hannibal watching him out of the corner of his eye. He started tapping his own message.
Need diversion... Have gun... Coming in hot... Hannibal read and nodded before relaying Face's message to BA and Murdock.
It was time.
Face wiped sweaty palms down his thighs, re-checked his weapon, mentally forced his pain to one side and focussed as Hannibal started his distraction...
"What the fuck is so damned funny," Martine growled when Hannibal suddenly laughed.
"Oh, I was just thinking about this joke I heard last week," the man shrugged. Murdock picked up the subtle prompt and laughed out loud. Genoa's goons looked at each other.
"Oh, that one! You remember, dontcha, BA?" the pilot said, eyes crinkling.
"'Bout the nun's an' the guy?" BA offered and laughed, his guffaw forced but it had the desired effect and the two suited men behind them chuckled.
"Yeah, that's the one," Hannibal flapped. He moved closer to his men. "How'd it start? Some nun's have to paint their room without getting their habit's dirty. So the one nun says to the other..."
"Hey, let's take all our clothes off!" Murdock jumped in, sat on the edge of his seat, totally ignoring the icy glare from Genoa. Hannibal nodded with a chuckle, hyper aware of movement just outside the entry to the room.
"So they do this, and begin painting their room. Soon they hear a knock at the door. They ask, 'Who is it?'"
"Blind man!" both Murdock and BA answered nodding when Hannibal motioned with his eyes towards the doorway. Face was close...
Almost holding his breath, Face inched closer waiting for his cue. He listened to his team for the punch line, the diversion he needed.
"So, the nuns look at each other, and one says, 'He's blind, he can't see. What could it hurt?' and let him in," he heard the colonel explain, talking to the goons now as well. The two men grinned in anticipation and Face knew it was working. "And the blind man walks in and says..."
"Hey, nice tits! Where do you want me to hang the blinds?" Murdock delivered in a broad English accent and a waggle of his eye brows, eliciting a sudden bark of laughter from the two suits, and Face jumped up from his position outside the room and surprised them all by barging in and instantly jabbing his gun into the nearest man ribs.
"Drop it, or he's dead," he hissed to the startled second man with his gun drawn.
And in that moment's hesitation, Hannibal lunged at Genoa, wrapping his arm around her neck and grabbing her wrists, while BA and Murdock vaulted over the couch and wrestled the two goons to the floor, knocking them out with a carefully placed fist and grabbing their weapons.
It all happened so fast, Genoa and her men didn't see it coming until it was too late.
"You fucker's!" raged Genoa, her voice hoarse and hissing through her teeth. She struggled against Hannibal, but was no match for the Ranger's strength. "Get off!"
"Sorry, sweetheart," Hannibal sneered into her ear, chuckling at her futile attempts to get free.
"You bastards! You killed him! You killed him, you deserve to die!" she continued. The colonel looked up, his eyes widening when he saw Face sway and hold onto the wall.
"Murdock, BA, do me the honours," he said and motioned to the crazy woman, now spitting Spanish at them, in his arms. BA grabbed the length of cable from the broken lamp and tied Genoa's wrists together before Hannibal passed her to Murdock, fuming and cursing, kicking her legs out...
"Fucker's, bastardos! I'm gonna kill you, hijos de puta!"
Tearing a strip from his scrubs, Murdock pulled the material over the outraged woman's mouth and tied it at the back. "Such foul language, bitch," he growled in her face.
Hannibal ignored them and went to Face's side just as the young man was sliding down the wall. "Face!"
"M'okay, Hannibal," the lieutenant murmured and made to get up again. Hannibal pushed him to the floor instead.
"No, you're not, Lieutenant," he countered softly as he pocketed Face's gun. Pain filled, washed out blue eyes blinked up at him and the older man smiled. "You did good, kid."
"Not... Not safe, yet," Face shook his head and tried to get up again. This time, Hannibal helped the stubborn man sit up.
"What do you mean?" he asked as Murdock knelt beside his friend and passed a scrutinising eye over him.
"Heard talk... Police in the... building," Face told them, wincing when the pilot lifted his top. "Murdock, don't..."
"Facey, lemme see," HM insisted, a look of worry thrown Hannibal's way. There was a lot of blood soaking through the surgical dressing covering Face's side. Too much.
"Murdock..." The pilot stopped what he was doing at Face's tone and looked at him to see his gaze directed at Genoa.
She was sitting watching, an expression of perverse glee at Face's pain in her wild, crazy eyes. Hannibal rose without a word, drew his fist back, winced at the thought of hitting a woman for a second before striking her, knocking her out cold.
"How'd that feel, bossman?" Murdock wanted to know, wide eyed and actually feeling a little jealous that the colonel got to hit her and he didn't.
"Not as satisfying as it should have," was all Hannibal said. He turned back to Face who was carefully trying to mask the pain he was in. "How you doin', kid?"
"Wanna get outta here," Face nodded, jumping when he felt cool fingers against his heated skin.
Murdock lifted the top again and pried the soggy dressing away. "God, Face," he breathed when he saw the mess. Some stitches had burst, and Face's surgical site was a mass of swollen, bruised and bleeding tissue. He looked up to see the kid's eyes tightly closed and bit his lip. "Hannibal-"
"No, need... to go. Now," Face interrupted knowing that the pilot was going to suggest they get help, take him back to his ICU bed... "You take me back and... Murdock, the police," he swallowed and carefully pulled the soiled bandage back over his wound.
Hannibal, torn with the same decision he was faced with a couple of days ago, frowned. Do they take the risk with Face again? "Kid," he started, glancing at Murdock and then BA before settling his eyes on his XO.
"I know what you're thinking," Face said quickly, anger edging his voice now. "And it's my decision. I say we get outta here, no more risks. Got that?" he ordered tersely, and then added, "Sir."
Reaching out to gently ruffle Face's hair, Hannibal shot him a quick smile. "Okay, kid." He turned to the others. "Hide that bitch and her dogs. We're going with Plan B."
"Plan B?" BA queried, eyes narrowing. He knew anything other than Plan A involved an aircraft of some type. He looked at Murdock and groaned. The pilot was grinning from ear to ear. "I ain't gettin' on no helicopter with that crazy fool!"
"No choice, big guy," Hannibal apologised and motioned to Face. The lieutenant shrugged back at him and BA shook his head in defeat.
"Fuckin' Plan B flyin' with that damn fool," he mumbled to himself as Murdock helped hide the three unconscious bodies between a couch and a wall.
Hannibal stood and checked the corridor. The chaos of the patient search was still apparent, and he frowned when he saw a flash of police navy blue, but the way to the stair well was clear. He smiled. Thank God for small favours.
"The police are on this floor," he told his team. "We can assume they're on all floors, so be careful. We go straight to the roof."
"What about supplies?" Murdock said softly looking at Face. They needed supplies, Face needed them.
"The air ambulance should have what we need," Hannibal answered, silently hoping he was right. He knelt beside Face again and gently cupped his clammy cheek. "You ready, kid?"
Face nodded, not trusting himself to speak as the pain slowly escalated to excruciating. He groaned and gasped as BA and Murdock helped him to stand. All his reserves felt depleted now, and he sagged heavily against the big guy. BA looked at him alarmed.
"Mmmm...'kay," he forced out, his arm tight against his side, knuckles white with pain. Bright flashes of colour and white behind his eyes made him suddenly feel nauseous and he swallowed hard, his world tilting this way and that not helping the rising bile in his throat.
"Kid, Face, look at me," Hannibal said, his hands on his cheeks steadying his head. Face tried to focus his eyes, but there were three Hannibal's... Which one? He just felt sick and slammed them shut again. Hannibal sighed. "BA, can you carry him?"
BA nodded and carefully hooked his arms under Face's knees and shoulders, grunting with little effort as he stood. He frowned. The young man weighed alarmingly less than he should. "Hannibal..."
"Yeah, I know," Hannibal sighed as he remembered the kid's lack of appetite these last few days. Face didn't have that weight to lose in the first place.
Murdock, running his fingers through his hair anxiously, stared at his friend lying limply in BA's arms. He looked so sick, flushed and sweating, tight lines of pain around his mouth and dark ringed eyes, moaning softly into the big guy's chest. The quicker they were out of there the better.
The colonel moved out, motioning the way clear for BA and Face, with Murdock taking up the rear, slipping quietly into the stair well. The roof exit was seven floors above, and with the morning shift now starting to come on duty, the team had to dodge the odd doctor or nurse once or twice on the way up. Other than that, fate was on their side and they made it fairly unhindered.
"The chopper is there," Murdock informed them when he returned from his little recon. "It's all fuelled up an' ready to fly, bossman."
"Good. What about the pilot?" Hannibal asked.
Shrugging, Murdock blinked. "I dunno. On his break?" he offered. "I didn't see anybody. Coast is clear."
BA shifted when Face stirred and groaned, drawing all eyes to him. "Hannibal, he's bleedin' bad," the big guy noted as sticky warm blood dripped heedlessly onto the floor between them. Hannibal pulled back the dressing and cursed. The wound had opened even more, a good portion of the stitches ripped apart. He pressed on the site hard to try and halt the bleeding, holding on when Face's body stiffened and he threw his head back with a strangled cry.
"Sorry, kid," he winced, head whipping around when he heard a sudden commotion in the stair well, a couple of floors below them. "Shit, sounds like they've found Genoa." They'd run out of time. "We gotta go now!"
Hannibal quickly stood up, wiped his bloody hands on his pants and held the door open for BA and his precious burden as Murdock ran to the chopper to start her up. The whirring of the rotor unfortunately attracted attention, and the colonel pulled out his weapon and fired off a volley of warning in warning. The hospital staff and air ambulance crew stopped in their tracks.
"BA, get Face aboard," he shouted over the deafening noise, yanking open the door, gun still poised towards the wide eyed Tifton medical personnel. BA gently laid his charge on the slim bed and strapped him in, with the colonel, eyes still on the people watching them, climbing aboard after and slamming the door closed. "Okay, Murdock, let's go!"
The air ambulance lifted smoothly away. They'd made it.
BA and Hannibal wasted no time and pulled out the medical equipment and tended to their lieutenant, placing an oxygen mask over his face while fishing out stuff for an IV.
Face was only semi aware of what was going on, confused and disorientated with the noise assailing his ears and the intense pain almost paralysing his body, he clumsily fought back, clawing at the mask.
"Face, stop," Hannibal gently ordered, warm palms cupping the man's cheeks, keeping the mask in place. "It's okay, kid, relax... It's okay..."
It took a few seconds, but Face finally relaxed, his pale blue eyes focussing on Hannibal's. He smiled under the plastic before those eyes rolled back and he passed out again.
"Face?" Hannibal called, worried frown fixed in place. "Face, you still with me?"
"Hannibal," BA nudged the colonel when Face didn't answer and handed him the IV. The colonel nodded and took the tubing.
The lieutenant didn't even flinch when the wide bore needle slipped into his vein.
"BA, hang the bag," Hannibal instructed when he hooked up the fluids, setting the flow wide open. He then fished out Face's medical chart from the ICU and searched the drug box for the medication he was given, filling up syringes with the right doses and pushing them through the line.
Murdock, keeping one eye on the air and the other on the proceedings in the back of the helicopter, suddenly shouted for attention. BA turned around and grabbed a head set, handing one to Hannibal too.
"...armed and dangerous. Suspects in a stolen air ambulance, registration N52XV, heading south- south-west of Tifton City Hospital..." they all heard over the radio. Murdock flicked it off, "We ain't outta the woods, yet, muchacho's!"
"How long we got, Murdock?" BA asked.
"Twenty minutes, max," the pilot answered as he changed his heading slightly. The dawn was breaking and they were losing the cover of night. Murdock ran his fingers over a serious of switches plunging the helicopter into darkness bar a small emergency interior light.
"Head out of town, keep low," Hannibal decided instead of their previous plan of landing in the city and making their way back to BA's ditched GMC van. They knew they ran the risk of alerting the authorities, so a Plan B was also devised. Apparently it was a day for Plan B's.
BA looked at Hannibal.
"Don't worry, BA, we'll get her back," he assured the big guy referring to his van as he turned back to Face.
The kid was still unconscious and Hannibal used that advantage to properly check out his incision site. Peeling back the dressing had the colonel grimacing. "Jesus, kid," his hissed. But knowing they didn't have the time to re-stitch the wound yet, Hannibal packed fresh dressings against the bleeding flesh and secured them tightly.
"BA, pack as much supplies you can," he said sitting back and looking concerned at Face's ashen features under the plastic mask. He turned when Murdock signalled him again.
"How is he, colonel?" asked the pilot. Hannibal moved up front to give BA room and sat next in the co pilot's chair.
"He's... been better," the colonel sighed and tiredly rubbed a hand over his face. God, it'd been a long, long night.
"But, he's gonna be okay, right?" Murdock swallowed anxiously. Hannibal patted him on the shoulder.
"Yeah, kid, he's gonna be okay." Please God...
A huge shaky sigh filled the cab and then Murdock shook himself. "Well, your captain is pleased to inform you that there's a small airfield just ahead," he grinned, Plan B working itself out nicely. Hannibal blinked and grinned back.
"Let's get ready for landing then, Captain!" he nodded and turned to let BA know as Murdock flicked on the open mike.
"This is your captain speaking. Please fasten your seatbelts, make sure all trays and seats are secured in an upright position, we're coming in for landing. Thank you for flying with us, courtesy of Tifton Hospital, I hope you enjoyed your flight!"
The morning crew of Sylvester Airfield had just poured their first coffees when an air ambulance landed near the hanger.
"What the fuck?" the first man exclaimed, and ran to the office window. "We expecting anyone this morning, Janice?"
A plump middle aged woman shook her head, perplexed look on her face. "Who is it?"
"Fucked if I know. No lights on the damned thing."
"You're kiddin', Dave," Janice said shocked. Flying without lights? Are they mad? Dave pulled his jacket on. "What're you doin'?"
"See if they need help," the man explained. "Get on the horn, Janice, get Wilson and Clark here."
The woman nodded and picked up the 'phone.
Dave headed towards the silent helicopter still frowning, cursing the distance from the office to the hanger when his arthritis complained. "Hello?" he called, "Anyone in there?"
The aircraft was empty.
Looking around puzzled, he jumped when the propellers of his ten seated, twin engine Cessna sounded in the early morning quiet, startling a flock of birds roosting in the nearby trees.
"Hey!" he shouted as the plane started to taxi towards the run-way. "Hey! That's for a tour party today! Hey!"
But Dave could only watch as his plane lifted off the ground and flew away.
Hannibal stroked the sweaty, limp hair off Face's forehead and readjusted his oxygen mask. It was cramped in the back of the four wheel drive they'd borrowed, but hopefully it wouldn't be for too long and they could get Face settled in a nice comfortable bed, get him stitched back up, and then relax.
But first, BA was speeding north to a pre designated set of co ordinates where Murdock would land the Cessna.
In the time it had taken the old man at Sylvester Airfield to get to the helicopter, BA and Hannibal had Face off the craft and secured into the truck that was conveniently parked by the hanger. Hot wiring it was no problem, and when Murdock started the engines of the Cessna, they're powered the vehicle and drove off unnoticed.
"I can see the fool now, Hannibal," BA told him and the colonel looked out of the window to see the low flying plane starting to descend into a grassy field. The sergeant headed towards the pilot and stepped on the gas.
Murdock landed the small craft smoothly and jumped out just as the truck pulled up, climbing in next to BA and slamming the door as the big guy moved off again.
Hannibal grinned at him. "Nice landing, kid!" He loved it when a plan, even Plan B's, came together!
Murdock smiled back, his mouth falling slightly when he saw Face. "Bossman?"
Looking at Face, Hannibal just sighed.
The rest of the journey to a small hidden motel, miles from nowhere, was done in contemplative silence. They were all very concerned about their team mate, and exhausted as the events of the last few days started to catch up with them. Face slept through it all, which worried them even more.
It was approaching 1100 when BA pulled the truck into the parking lot of a small truck stop cafe. He parked as far away from prying eyes as possible and quickly yanked off the plates, exchanging them for a set of Texas ones from a Buick, while Murdock ran in for food and coffee.
"Done?" Hannibal murmured when BA climbed back in wiping his hands.
"Yeah. Buick got our plates on. Should throw 'em off out tails for a while," BA nodded, starting the engine when Murdock came back with a tray of steaming Styrofoam cups and a paper bag, mouth watering smells emanating from it.
"Who's up for sausage and egg bagels?" Murdock asked digging through the bag. BA grunted and just held out his hand, his stomach audibly grumbling. "Bossman?"
Hannibal sipped his coffee and shook his head. "Maybe later," he murmured looking down at Face. His appetite would come back as soon as Face was well on the way to recovering.
The motel was basic, but their room had a small en suite and a kitchenette, a TV and two queen sized divans. The sheets were thread bare but clean. And at thirty five dollars for the night, it wasn't too bad.
Murdock let them in with a key attached to a bright pink key chain after BA dropped them off at the door before parking the truck around the back, out of sight. Hannibal gently carried Face over the threshold and laid him on the nearest bed. He never even stirred.
"Facey?" Murdock coaxed softly, rubbing his hand up and down the kid's forearm. He watched silently as Hannibal dragged a standard lamp next to the bed, hanging the half empty bag of IV fluid on it. "Faceman, you in there?" the pilot tried again sighing when Face didn't as much as twitch. "Hannibal, he ain't... dead, is he?"
Hannibal's head shot up. "God, no, Murdock," he assured the pilot when he saw tears in the blue-green eyes. "He's just really tired s'all."
And that was the truth. Poor kid had been through the wringer these past few days, it was no wonder he was still out of it. Not to mention the gaping hole in his side...
BA walked in then with the oxygen tank, eyes immediately on his fallen team mate. "He doin' okay?"
Opening the medical supplies from the air ambulance, Hannibal sat down on the bed with a suture kit and antiseptic. "Yeah, BA. Get that tank over here, will ya?" he motioned and slipped the mask over Face's mouth and nose, twisting the knob to let the oxygen flow. "Murdock, bring me some towels and a wash cloth from the bathroom, and a bowl of water. Make it lukewarm, okay?"
After lifting Face's top and pulling off the blood stained pants, Hannibal carefully peeled away the soiled dressing. He hissed in sympathy when the dried blood around the edges snagged the kid's angry, puffy, bruised skin, aggravating the open incision even more causing it to bleed freely.
"Here, boss," Murdock murmured and placed a bowl next to him. Hannibal took the towels and draped one over Face's nakedness, and one under his side to protect the bed from blood. He then added a liberal amount of antiseptic to the water and gently cleaned Face down with slow careful sweeps of the damp cloth.
Murdock grimaced. "Looks bad, Hannibal," he said softly as he watched. He glanced up at the lieutenant's face, but the kid was still very much out of it.
"Looks worse than it is," Hannibal told him after a thorough inspection. "The incision is clean, just needs re-stitching."
And twenty minutes later, BA helped Hannibal and Murdock wrap a bandage around Face's body, holding a thick padded dressing tight against the newly sutured wound.
"He kinda looks like a mummy," Murdock mused when Hannibal turned away to fill a syringe full of antibiotic. BA blinked, and despite himself, found himself chuckling.
Okay, so they might have over done it with the bandaging, but as Hannibal pointed out, better to be safe than sorry, and Face was looking a very sorry sight.
It was a good four hours before Face began to stir, and he lay listening to the sounds around him, trying to figure out where he was, what was going on... whether it was safe to come back. He could hear a television on low, recognised the familiar voices of Homer and Marge Simpson, and slowly opened his eyes, smiling when the cartoon figures slowly came into focus on the small screen.
A snort of laughter caught his attention and he slid his eyes over to Murdock, huddled against the headboard of his bed, his legs tucked under him.
"Hey... hey, buddy," he croaked softly swallowing over the dryness of his throat, frowning when the pilot didn't hear him. Then he noticed the plastic digging into his cheeks and reached up to pull whatever it was away, hissing when the IV catheter snagging sharply in his skin.
"Oh, Facey, no," Murdock moved quickly to intercept Face's hand before it reached the mask. "S'just an oxygen mask." He smiled but didn't let go, blue-green eyes suddenly bright with tears. "How... how're you feelin'? Are you okay? God, I thought I'd lost... It's so good to see you awake again..."
The lieutenant answered, but the words disappeared behind the plastic. He removed the offending item with his other hand before the pilot could stop him, needing his friend to hear him, wanting desperately to try and take away the anguish in Murdock's worried eyes. "M'okay, buddy," he shook his head when Murdock tried to replace the mask. "Please, HM... Really."
"You've been out for hours, Faceguy," Murdock said softly, staring at the huge white bandage around the kid's body. Face followed his gaze and blinked. He was wrapped from chest to hips.
"I look like a mummy," he smiled, the small upturn of his mouth falling when he didn't even get a reaction from his friend. He looked at Murdock and bit his lip. Tears were slipping unnoticed down pale cheeks. "I'm sorry," Face whispered and lifted his hand to thumb away the wetness.
Grabbing that hand like a lifeline and holding it against his face, Murdock smiled through the tears, "I'm just glad you're okay," he breathed heavily and barked out a halted laugh. "God, you had me really scared, you shit!"
Face's eyebrows hit his hairline.
"Y'know, the next time you lie to me, I'm gonna kick your ass into next week," the pilot warned sternly. Face felt duly chastised. "There ain't nothin' more important than your health, Temp. You should'a said somethin'," Murdock added softly, shuddering as memories of Face crying out in pain filled his head. He shook it and looked at the TV, hoping Bart Simpson could help get rid of them.
Sighing, Face closed his eyes fighting back his own tears at the desperate, scared edge to his best friend's voice. God, he'd been so stupid. "I'm really sorry, HM," he whispered, "It'll never happen again. I promise."
"Damn right it won't," Murdock agreed. He looked down, took a deep breath and dragged his sleeve over his face, roughly drying the tears. "You ain't Superman, you know."
Homer Simpson chose that moment to say, "I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me, Superman," and both Murdock and Face chuckled, the yellow skinned cartoon character lifting the mood a little.
Murdock sighed and sat back, eyes back on his friend. "You were pretty awesome at the hospital, Facey," he grinned. Face had saved their lives after all. "The look on that bitch's face when you came in... Priceless!"
"What was that joke?" Face asked going with the moment of levity.
"The one about the nun's an' the blind man," the pilot grinned and proceeded to repeat it, laughing when he delivered the punch line at the end. Face chuckled along, too, even though he'd heard it before, was the one that told it them in fact. But it didn't matter. The cold fear in Murdock's eyes was disappearing, and Face silently thanked God, Homer Simpson, and Superman for that.
"Where're BA an' Hannibal?" he asked after a few minutes, noticing they were alone in what looked like a motel room. "Where are we?"
"The guys are rustlin' us up somethin' for dinner, an' we're exclusive VIP guests at the five star Blacks Motel, halfway between where we were and Columbus," Murdock announced in a posh British accent. He held up the TV remote, "All mod cons, silk sheets extra charge."
"Columbus... Ohio?" Face blinked, they'd gone that far?
"Nah, Georgia," Murdock corrected before becoming serious for a moment, "You were pretty sick, Facey.
"Oh," the lieutenant said softly. A minute or two went by, the sound of Milhouse and Bart joking around on the TV filling the room, before the motel door opened and BA strolled in, Hannibal on his heels.
"Hey, kid, good to see you awake," the colonel smiled when he saw Face looking at them. "How're you feelin'?"
"Okay. Hungry, actually," Face smiled, blushing slightly when his stomach growled loudly at the enticing aroma's coming out of the brown bags the guys had brought in. Hannibal sat on the edge of the bed and watched amused with Face as BA swatted Murdock's hands away from the bags, growling as the pilot practically danced about until the big guy handed him his MacDonald's Happy Meal.
A cool palm on his forehead and fingers on his neck brought Face's attention back to Hannibal, and he waited as the man silently counted heart-beats.
"You're still a little warm," the colonel said quietly, leaning back again. He checked the IV before reaching for the medical kit. Face's eyes drifted towards Murdock and BA again, and grinned when he saw the pilot's face light up as he pulled a small toy airplane from his Happy Meal box. A cold sting tingled the back of his hand, and he looked down to see Hannibal injecting something into his IV port.
"What's that?" he asked.
"An antibiotic," Hannibal murmured and recapped the syringe.
"Boss," BA interrupted quietly, standing there with a burger and fries for the man. Face looked at the food hungrily. "Ain't for you, Faceman," the bug guy shook his head. He held up a small tub and a spoon. "Got applesauce for you."
"Applesauce?" the lieutenant pulled a face and BA grinned. Hannibal grinned, too. Face was not impressed. "Aw, c'mon... Applesauce?"
Helping the man to sit up slightly, BA sobered instantly when the movement caused Face to gasp painfully. He stared at the man, dark eyes boring hard, "When you can sit up without wincin' then you can have proper food, fool," he grunted, his voice rough with concern. Face frowned and looked down, taking the applesauce and peeling back the lid. He felt BA's hand cover his. "You jus' had us all real worried, man."
Face nodded and ate his puréed fruit.
They ate in silence with only the low sound of the TV in the background. The events of the last few days were still very raw in their minds and every so often, Face looked up to catch any one of them watching him, then quickly looking away. He sighed to himself, put his cup of applesauce down and closed his eyes, only for them to snap open when he felt those familiar fingers on his neck again.
"I'm okay, really boss," he said. Hannibal hesitated a second before nodding, his blue eyes assessing carefully.
"Okay, kid," he smiled and shoved another fry into his mouth. Face licked his lips. God, what he would give for a handful of French fries...
"What happened to Genoa?" he asked instead. The last thing he remembered of her was Hannibal knocking the woman for six.
"Left her for the authorities," the colonel said.
"So, you're sure she..." what? Face frowned. Didn't escape? Isn't out there somewhere, waiting for another chance to kill them? That moment when they least expect it?
BA and Murdock both stopped chewing and looked at him, the same thoughts flashing in their eyes.
Hannibal opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before he decided to purse his lips instead. They had to leave Genoa and her men. They had to get Face out of there. For all Hannibal knew, the bitch could have woken up and escaped. He just didn't know.
"Great," Face muttered when no one said anything, the applesauce suddenly sitting uncomfortably in his belly. A little red airplane hovered in front of his eyes.
"Wanna play with my 'plane, Facey?" Murdock asked and Face smiled. The pilot smiled back, "I'm sure they caught her, man. Hannibal laid a helluva punch on her. No way she could'a walked away from that," he tried to reassure.
Face shrugged. It was the best they could hope for. They lived their lives from day to day, moment to moment, and had the here and now to concentrate on, here in a small backwater motel hiding from the military, now waiting until the moment they could safely move onto the next place.
They'd won this round, beating a deadly enemy the team could never have predicted, an enemy within their ranks. But they'd eradicated the threat of Face's appendix, and, against incredible odds, the menace of one scorned lover, hell-bent on revenge, Martine Genoa, too.
Taking the small toy, Face 'flew' it through the air and grinned. He looked at Murdock's happy face, BA's bemused expression of feigned annoyance and Hannibal's amused raised eyebrows, and knew he wouldn't want to be with anyone else, or be anywhere else.
They were family, his family, and together they were the A Team.
In the basement of an abandoned house on the other side of the state of Georgia, Rosanna Genoa stuffed ice into an old towel and handed it to her sister. Martine Genoa snatched it off her and gingerly placed it on her jaw.
"Fucking dead," she vowed, hissing as the cold soothed her heated skin. "They're all fucking dead!" She looked up, screaming to the heavens, "You hear that, Smith? You and your fucking team are DEAD!"