A Cold Night For Carolling, Part Two
BA and Face expected Murdock to be hyper and talkative
on the way to the safe house, wanting news on everyone and
on the new mission. But as soon as he'd been divested
of the straitjacket, Murdock sank into the contours of the
back seat. Finding a comfortable position, and stifling a
yawn, he closed his eyes and was asleep before they reached
the main road.
The men drove in silence. BA keeping a watchful eye on the
cars around and behind them, the concerned expression on
his face having nothing to do with traffic. Face, who was
driving, glanced into the back seat and momentarily locked
eyes with BA. The big man shook his head. The meaning
was clear -- their friend was not himself.
When the car passed between the brick pillars of a long driveway,
the change from blacktop to gravel disturbed Murdock's rest.
Still sleepy but awake once more, he lifted his head and looked
around. "Where are we?"
"In the middle of nowhere," responded Face. "But wait until
you see the house." As he spoke, a white structure with a
shingled roof came into view. It appeared to be a simple farm
house standing alone at the top of a hill.
Hearing gravel crunch, Hannibal looked out the window and saw
a familiar car approaching. He strode to the front door and
waited for it to finish making the way up the long drive.
When Face put the car into park, Murdock was the first to
open a door. He jumped out and his long legs carried him up
the front steps to the door, which Hannibal opened at
his approach. Murdock stopped abruptly and saluted, shouting
"HM Murdock reporting for duty, Sir."
"At ease, Captain," Hannibal replied, casually returning the
salute, cigar in hand. "Come in." He waited beside the
door as Face and BA entered behind Murdock. "Any trouble?"
he softly asked the two men as they passed by.
They shook their heads in response, but the frowns on their faces
told a different story. BA added in a low rumble "No problems
at the hospital and nobody followed."
Distracted by Face and BA's entrance, Murdock's military
bearing slipped. It fell apart completely as his surroundings
began to register on his troubled mind. He was inside one
of the rooms he remembered seeing on Range Rider. The
fireplace was right. The furniture was right. The stuff
on the walls was right. He shook his head as if to clear his
vision, but the room stayed precisely in focus. Excited, Murdock
moved to the nearest chair, touching the wood and the wool
blanket tossed over its back. It certainly felt real. Next,
he ran to the fireplace where a gun belt and a pair of holstered
guns hung from a peg. Murdock removed them, examining them
carefully. They weren't loaded, but they were well oiled
and appeared to be in good working order. Returning them to
their holsters and the peg, he looked around, amazed. He
noticed Hannibal, Face, and BA watching him. "How...?"
Hannibal opened his mouth as if to speak, but Face jumped
in. "Like I said in the car, you're in the middle of nowhere.
But the guy who owns this place was big in television during
the 50s and 60s. Played bit parts and then moved on to
production. The whole house is like this, only each room
is different. Check out the bathroom over there," he said,
pointing to a hallway and a visible door.
Murdock did as he was told, and was immediately transported
into something from either Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or
Jules Verne's Nautilus, none of the men were sure which.
Whatever it was, it was fabulous. There was a port hole,
cool mechanical stuff including an old fashioned deep sea
diver's helmet, and a small treasure chest.
"Wow," said Murdock.
BA grumbled "Kitchen's not too bad," as he pushed
past Murdock and entered the gleaming room. It looked
like a cross between a household and commercial
kitchen -- granite countertops, a large center island, two
sinks, two ovens, and a plethora of storage space.
Murdock was certain he'd seen this kitchen, or one very
much like it, on some cooking show as he'd flipped between
channels on his television back at the hospital. BA,
ever practical, asked "You hungry, Crazyman?"
Murdock nodded, realizing that this was the first time
food had sounded good in days, perhaps weeks.
BA grunted, "Then stay out of muh way." He motioned to
Face with a tilt of his head, "Show him the upstairs
while I rustle somethin' up."
Hannibal stood thoughtfully as he watched Face and Murdock
disappear down a short hallway. Murdock heard him ask
BA for details of their drive as he mounted the steps,
but he was too enchanted with the house to listen for
Upstairs, Face stood back as Murdock ran from one room to
the next, looking in each in wonder, then running back
to the first and starting over.
The first room Murdock decided to explore in depth was
the bedroom of a private eye from the 1950s. There was
a window overlooking a neon sign that overlooked a trompe
l'oeil street scene with vintage cars and mean city
streets. The furnishings were sparse -- a bed, a battered desk,
an end table, table lamp -- but the room was compellingly
evocative of the life of a down-in-the-heels private dick.
Murdock picked up the fedora lying on the desk and tried it
on for size. It was a little large for his head, but Murdock
tilted it to a to a rakish angle and slipped into his Phillip
Marlow persona, Mack Murdock.
"Here's lookin' at you, Kid," he said to Face.
Even after BA shouted for them to come down to eat, Murdock
stayed in character. At one point during their meal he turned
to Hannibal and said in his Marlow, "There's one thing I
can't figure out."
Hannibal, who knew 'The Big Sleep' better than anyone would have
guessed, replied, "What makes me run?"
"Uh uh. Why you want me for this case."
Hannibal, who was not yet ready to announce that there was no
case and that none of them would be going to the orphanage this
Christmas, simply said "No one else would do. And," he added,
standing, "now it's time to clear away the table."
Murdock took off his hat and switched mental gears during clean-up.
Now he was a chef, talking up a storm about the proper care
and storage of kitchen implements as he dried the newly washed
items as Face handed them to him and that he in turned handed to
BA to put away.
When everything was restored to its place, Murdock bounded up
the stairs and went to explore another of the rooms. This time
he picked a bedroom based upon Leave it to Beaver. Twin beds,
board games, yo-yo, baseball glove, pennants on the wall.
He idly moved pieces around one of the board games, remembering
playing this game with another kid in his neighborhood a
lifetime ago. He imagined being that kid again, innocent and
carefree, sure the future would always be fun and pain free. He
began to slide into depression when he heard a familiar bark. He
looked between the beds and was delighted to see his dog sitting
there. "Billy! How'd you get here?" He leaned over to scratch
Billy behind the ears and was rewarded with a wet slurp up
one side of his face. Laughing, he rolled onto one of the beds,
patting it to tell Billy to jump up next to him. He petted Billy
for a while, grew sleepy, and fell into a comfortable and
He was asleep when Hannibal came up to check on him and he stayed
that way for several hours. When he awoke, Hannibal in the room,
lying on the other bed, propped up against the headboard reading
a magazine. "How long have I been out?," he asked.
"Three or four hours." He paused. "How are you?"
"I'm okay," he lied.
"Do you like the house?"
"It's wonderful!" No lie that time.
Hannibal smiled gently. "We've been worried about you. You didn't look
good when we got you out of the V.A."
Murdock shrugged. "I've had some things on my mind."
"Anything you care to tell me about?"
"Let me know if you change your mind. Now come on downstairs,
we're going to have a meeting before dinner."
The meeting did not go well. Face, as expected, wanted to spend
Christmas with Father McGill and the kids. BA, although he'd
never admit it, was likewise disappointed he wouldn't see the
children's faces as they opened their gifts. Nevertheless,
BA and Face agreed with Hannibal that with the problems Decker'd
been causing, it was just too risky for them to try to spend
Christmas at the orphanage. Risking getting caught was one thing,
but endangering the kids was another. Going was simply not an
option, not this year.
Silent to this point, Murdock angrily burst out "So why did
you come get me then?"
Suddenly angry himself, Hannibal changed tactics. "Because our
last mission was a disgrace! We were damn lucky to get out of
there alive! And if it weren't for that lucky break at the
end (they all knew which one he meant) we wouldn't have.
The level of your performance is appalling and we're going to
correct it. From this point out, we're in training.
Weights, running, pistol range. Got it?," he spit out.
"Yes, Sir!" they shouted in unison.
The next several days were hell. There was a professional
weight room down in the basement, and Hannibal pushed all of them,
including himself, mercilessly. They ran across the fields,
Hannibal timing them and then making them run laps around the house
when they weren't quick enough. Being out in the country, they
could practice shooting without causing alarm in the neighborhood,
and Hannibal had them spend hours on their home-made range using
long rifles, pistols, even the six-shooters that had hung on
the stone fireplace.
Face whined, BA grumbled, and Murdock retreated into himself,
trying one character after another, none sitting right.
Hannibal was unapproachable, snapping at the men when they asked
to stop for a break and increasingly angry.
They reached the breaking point on the 24th. They were in the
weight room, again. Murdock was doing the bench press, trying to
force the weights back up when his left arm gave out. Face,
who was spotting for him, wasn't quick enough and the weight
crashed heavily on Murdock's shoulder. Between Murdock's right arm
and Face's desperate grab, no lasting injury was done, but
emotions surpassed the boiling point. Murdock yelled in pain
and surprise, and Face, nearly in tears, horrified that he'd
almost killed his best friend cried out "Oh my god, Murdock.
Oh my god," as together they forced the bar back on its stand
above Murdock's chest.
Murdock's heart beat wildly. He'd nearly been killed. Where
the hell was Face's brain? He was supposed to be spotting for him
for god's sake! He sat up, letting anger overtake him.
Face, still horrified, was finding it difficult to breathe. "Are
you okay?," he asked, adding "Let me see your shoulder," as he
reached for the now sitting Murdock's shirt.
"Don't you touch me!" shouted Murdock, as he jumped to his feet,
leapt free of the weight bench and bolted from the room. BA, who
seeing that Murdock had not been greatly injured by the falling
weight, was calmly, or as calmly as possible under the trying
circumstances, continuing his squats looked up to see him go.
Hannibal, who had been doing curls on the opposite end of the
room, did likewise. "You better go after him," Hannibal
said, hearing the front door slam shut. Roaring "Now!" when
Face didn't move.
Face seemed to be in shock, but his feet registered the command
and he took off after his friend. He ran up the stairs two at
a time, and was out the front door seconds later. He could see
the figure of his friend far ahead, running toward the far
pasture. Pouring on the speed, Face did his damnedest to catch
up. Had Hannibal been there to watch, he'd have been impressed
with the speed Face was capable of, given the right motivation.
He was slowly gaining on Murdock, running so hard he thought
his heart would burst. He tried shouting "Murdock! Stop!
Wait up!" but couldn't get out more than a strangled gasp.
Save his breath, run harder.
Murdock continued to run, slowing only when he reached the side
of a small river. He could have forded it easily, but he was
run out. He sank to the ground, vanishing from sight. Absolutely
frantic, Face increased his speed, another 15 yards and he'd be
where Murdock had disappeared.
Face burst through the brush growing next to the river, registered
Murdock sitting on the bank, and tried to stop. He slid forward,
narrowly escaping falling in, and tumbled to the ground.
The two men sat a couple of feet apart, breathing heavily, too winded
and too exhausted to talk.
After they caught their breath, Face spoke first. "Are you okay?"
"Then let me take a look."
Long mintues later, Face broke the silence a second time. "I
thought I'd killed you," Face said, his voice cracking.
"I thought you'd killed me," Murdock replied
in much the same tone, but Face wasn't listening.
"I thought I'd killed you. Oh my god, Murdock. I thought I'd
killed you." Face's shoulders shook with emotion and Murdock
realized his friend was crying.
"Hey," he said. "Hey." Murdock scooted over and put his
arm around Face's shoulders, giving him a half-hug. "Muchacho,
don't cry. It's okay."
Face, wiping tears from his eyes with the back of a hand,
shook his head. "It's not okay." He wiped his eyes again. "I
couldn't live if I'd killed you." Sobbing openly now, adding
a mumbled "Without you."
Murdock pulled Face closer, pulling the blond toward him until
Face's head was lying on Murdock's right shoulder. "Hey," he
said again, wincing as he brought his left arm around to
enclose Face in a tight hug. "'S okay." Not thinking, he
kissed Face's forehead. "Shhhh. It'll be okay."
Face, to Murdock's surprise and consternation, began crying
in earnest. Face's question, forced out between sobs, surprised
him even more. "Why wouldn't you let me touch you?"
"Back in the house you mean?"
"Because I hurt, Murdock said slowly, his voice growing quieter with
each word, "and I was angry, and." There was a long pause. Then
quietest of all, "And I was afraid that if I let you touch what hurt
I'd never be able..." his voice trailed off.
The younger man finished the sentence, heartbreak in his voice, "to
trust me again."
"No," Murdock said slowly in a thoughtful voice, "never be able to
stop..." Face felt Murdock's chest constrict as Murdock continued
in the same soft voice, "to stop wanting you to touch me."
- tbc -
A Cold Night for Carolling, Part 3
Title: A Cold Night for Carolling, Part Two
Fandom: The A-Team
Rating: nc17 m/m for Cold Night as whole. This part is probably somewhere between G and PG
Disclaimer: I don't know who owns The A-Team, but it isn't me
Special Thanks to: Cath and Karo who beta'd this
Archive: Upon request
Comments: Comments are welcome
Email for Feedback: email@example.com
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Written: January 5, 2002
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org