Title: Black Star
Rating: T - Het
Timeline: Takes place after season 5, this is more of a 6th season episode.
Thanks to my beta, Periwinkle for your work!
Feed Back: always welcome. : ) Either onlist or email: aaaahbatwomanrun @ yahoo . com (no spaces)
Archived: ff.net, LJ
Disclaimer: I don’t own Face, BA, Murdock, Hannibal, Stockwell, the Abels and anyone else I'm forgetting. I’m just playing with them and will put them back unscathed when I’m done.
Author’s Notes: The idea for this fic came me to me one day while watching random season 5 episodes last year. I'm an original fan of the show and had only seen one or two episodes in recent years. Last year's movie sparked my curiosity to see if this was online and it was! So I started watching episodes on random order, mostly ones I remembered, didn't remember, etc. I don't know how many times I watched each episode before I finally started with the pilot and went in order. All while writing this fic. It is finished and I'll post it in parts not sure how often since this is a busy time for me at church. There are other stories in this universe but they are put on the back burner until further notice. Enjoy!
Description: The team is worried that the new woman General Stockwell brought in is there to be their new handler. Not all is as it seems with her, she's hiding secrets, along with Stockwell. What are her secrets and how do they affect the team?
A thin man in his forties snatched the door open and spoke in Danish, “It’s about time,” Soren growled. “They’re everywhere, do whatever it takes to kill them!”
“I’ll leave traps in every room,” Murdock responded in Danish, as he stepped into the house.
“I don’t think you need to go into every room,” Soren said, following Murdock’s every move.
“No, no, no, I have to go into every room; even closets and the basement. Mice can get into everything.” Murdock quickly made his way around the room, laying traps along the way.
“The basement is fine, I checked it myself just before you came,” Soren said, trying not to look suspicious.
“That has to be where Dieter is,” Briana said into a microphone which fed to a receiver Murdock wore in his ear. She helped Murdock converse with Soren by telling him what to say in Danish. “Tell him you have to go into the basement to lay traps.”
“No, I need to go down to the basement and lay traps,” Murdock relayed, as he walked around Soren.
Soren ground his teeth as he stewed. He didn’t want any outsiders to go into the basement as it was too risky. He knew that if the exterminator saw the Prince then they would be in trouble. Unbeknownst to Soren, Murdock placed a mouse on Soren’s shoulder. Just as Soren turned to follow Murdock, Soren spotted the mouse and snatched it off his shoulder, throwing it to the floor. “Fine! Lay traps in the basement. But don’t wander around!” Soren walked out of the living room and into the hall. “Evald come here!” he yelled.
Evald was slightly shorter than Soren, in his late forties with a potbelly and was balding. “You bellowed?”
Soren glared at the man; he was growing tired of his humor. “Watch him,” he said, pointing to Murdock. “I’m going out.” Soren stormed out of the house.
Murdock smirked as he watched Soren walk out of the house. Murdock turned back to his task at laying traps. He sped up his pace wanting to get through the house to make sure Briana was right about where they were holding the Prince. After making his way around the house, Murdock finally ventured down to the basement with Evald hot on his heels.
Murdock wandered around the basement, keeping his eyes sharp as he laid mousetraps. Spotting a door towards the back of the basement, Murdock walked towards it; randomly placing traps as he went along. “Uh, that’s OK, you don’t need to go in there,” Evald said, rushing to catch up with Murdock.
“No, I need to go into every room,” Murdock insisted, as he continued to walk towards the door.
Evald brushed past Murdock to block the door. “I, ah, placed traps in there myself earlier.”
Murdock stopped mid-stride and listened as Briana talked to him, “Now we know where Dieter is being held. We’ll meet you back at the van.”
Murdock said his goodbyes and walked out of the basement. He climbed into the exterminator truck and drove away, quickly making his way to the meeting location, a short five miles away.
The rest of the team was standing outside of the van as Murdock pulled up. The Captain slid out of the truck and walked to the van, sitting in the open side door. “Ah checked that entire house. Ah didn’t see Dieter. But there was a room in the basement with a lock on the door that Evald wouldn’t let me go in.”
“What kind of lock are they using?” Hannibal asked.
“Just a regular padlock. Face can pick it in no time,” Murdock replied.
“What’s the layout of the house?” Hannibal asked.
“The basement door is off the kitchen, and there’s a back door into the kitchen. The basement is below ground with no visible door leadin’ outside.”
Briana nodded and said, “We go in after dark.”
Hannibal agreed and said, “Murdock, return the truck; we’ll follow to drive you back to the palace.”
Later that night the team prepared to leave for their rescue mission. They dressed in all black and wore combat boots. Once he finished getting ready, Murdock walked to Briana’s room and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” she called.
Murdock turned the handle and pushed the door open. He walked in to find Briana tying her combat boots. “Ready?” he asked. He noted she had braided her hair, and thought that was the first time he had ever seen her hair that way.
Finishing up, Briana straightened and said, “I just need to grab my gun.”
Murdock patiently waited for his friend to gather her weapon. He watched as she ejected the clip to check it. She placed the gun in her hip holster and walked towards the door, pausing long enough for Murdock to catch up. He closed the door behind them, silently praying Briana would be all right.
The team loaded into the van and B.A. fired up the engine, setting out for the farm in Skovstrop. The drive to the farm was silent, no one saying a thing, the men steeling themselves for the mission at hand.
B.A. pulled the van over to the side of the road down the street from the farm. The unit loaded extra clips into their various pockets and grabbed the M16s General Stockwell had provided them with earlier. After locking up the van, the team made their way down the driveway in single file. Hannibal took the lead followed by Briana, Murdock, Face, and Frankie, with B.A. pulling up the rear. They kept an eagle eye out for the guards patrolling the grounds, dropping low to the ground when a guard would walk close by or turn in their direction.
Jogging up to the house, the squad stealthily moved along the side of the house, making their way to the back door. Without saying a word, Face moved to the front of the group, pulling out his lockpick tools and making quick work of the lock. He carefully opened the door and peered into the room, giving his eyes a few seconds to adjust to the darkness, and then looked to see if anyone was around. Not finding anyone, they made their way around the corner to the basement door, carefully opening it and quietly padding down the stairs. As with their trek down the driveway, the team stayed in the same order going down the stairs. Hannibal quickly scanned the basement and found no one lurking about. Spotting a sliver of light at the back of the basement, He led his troops to the source of the light, B.A choosing to stay close to the stairs as a lookout.
Face started to work on the lock when B.A. heard footsteps above. “Hannibal,” he hissed in warning. The team instantly froze and waited. B.A. looked up and saw the light turn on in the kitchen. He listened as the footsteps got closer to the basement stairs and then paused. Muffled voices soon followed and after a minute, the footsteps walked away and the light was turned off. The sergeant breathed a sigh of relief and he announced the “all clear” in a voice low enough to be heard by the team but not by the occupants of the house.
Face sagged with relief before taking a deep breath and getting back to his task at hand. In less than a minute he smirked as the tumblers gave into his prodding and opened the lock. He quickly took the padlock off and opened the door, stepping aside to allow Hannibal and Briana to walk in, both shouldering their weapons.
Prince Dieter was sitting in a chair, arms and legs tied down to the chair’s arm rests and legs, with a gag in his mouth.
Briana quickly made her way to the young Prince and knelt in front of him, speaking quietly in Danish. She identified herself while Hannibal made quick work of the binds. Briana spared a minute to instruct the young Prince to remain quiet and follow the team out of the house and to their van.
Prince Dieter nodded in understanding and with courage far beyond his years, he took a deep breath as he stood from the chair to follow the men and woman.
“Face, Frankie, you’ve got the Prince,” Hannibal ordered. Briana provided the translation for the young Prince.
When they were ready to make the careful trek back up the stairs, Briana and Hannibal took their weapons in hand and lead the men back out as stealthily as they entered. The team carefully made their way around the house, not wanting to be seen by anyone on patrol or anyone that might glance out a window.
The group was about ten feet from the house when they were spotted. The man on patrol shouted in Danish and fired at the retreating team. Hannibal and Briana both turned around and ran to the back of the group to help B.A. and Murdock return fire. “Face, Frankie, get the Prince to the van,” Briana shouted over the sound of gunfire.
The men spared a second to glance back before picking up their pace to a full-on sprint as they did as they were ordered. The night exploded with light from the M16s the team used and the various weapons the kidnappers used. As fast as they emptied their clips, the men and Briana quickly slapped in a new clip and continued to return fire against their kidnappers.
The group that had been holding the Prince hostage clearly had the advantage in this firefight, as they were able to hide behind things whereas the A-Team was out in the open. That advantage didn’t save them though, as slowly members fell to the ground, dead from one or more gunshots. Soren let out a litany of curses towards his group and Briana and her team. When he heard the first gunshot, he ran out of the house, weapon in hand, knowing what had happened. He had vowed to get the people responsible for his brother’s death and now he had them dead in his sights. Soren, along with the rest of his band of rebels, fought hard against the four men and woman but they were out matched.
“Hannibal, Murdock, B.A…. go, I’ll cover you,” Briana yelled.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Hannibal said.
“That’s an order Colonel,” she growled.
“You’re not my CO,” he reminded her.
“No, but this is my mission. Now GO!”
Not wanting to argue with Briana, Hannibal said, “Murdock, B.A. fall back.”
Briana took a few steps forward as she continued her volley of fire, reloading clips as needed. When the returning fire ceased, Briana stopped firing and waited. She dropped to her knees and crumbled down to the ground.
The sudden silence was deafening, Hannibal looked over his shoulder as they ran and stopped. Spotting Briana on the ground he called out, “B.A., man down,” as he ran to the woman.
Murdock heard the order and stopped dead in his tracks. He turned to see Briana on the ground, not moving. A knot instantly formed in his stomach and he ran to her faster than he ever ran before. “No no no no no no no,” he said repeatedly as he slid next to her. He snaked his arm behind her neck and carefully lifted her head up. Feeling for a pulse, Murdock was relieved to find she was still alive.
“B.A., we need to get her to a hospital, fast,” Hannibal said.
As B.A. reached down to pick up his friend, Murdock said, “No, Ah'll do it,” sliding his other arm under her legs and struggling to lift himself off the ground. B.A. helped the slight man stand before running to the barn.
B.A. frantically searched the van for the keys without finding them. Not having anymore time to waste, he set about hotwiring the van. When the engine turned over, he jumped in and slammed the door close, flooring it. The van came to a halt next to Murdock and Hannibal, and B.A. threw the van in park before jumping in the back to open the side door. Hannibal also jumped into the back of the van, tossing his weapon aside before reaching out to help Murdock.
Murdock allowed Hannibal to help with Briana; they gently placed her on the floor of the van before Murdock jumped in, slamming the door closed behind him. Once the door was shut, B.A. threw the van into gear and slammed his foot down on the gas pedal. “B.A., give us some light back here,” Hannibal ordered.
B.A. obliged and the back of the van was bathed in light. “Where’s she hit?” Hannibal asked.
Murdock frantically ran his hands around her torso and found sticky wetness everywhere his hands touched. He pawed at her shirt, un-tucking and doing his best to pull it up. Hannibal reached into his pocket for his knife and handed it to Murdock. Murdock accepted the knife and made quick work of cutting Briana’s clothes open down the center. He threw the shirt open, discovering that her entire torso was covered in blood. Murdock didn’t know what was making his stomach churn, the bumpy ride of the van being driven over the dirt, or the sight of his friend in that condition.
Murdock felt so helpless. They didn’t have any first aid supplies with them and he was resigned to watch his friend bleed out. Needing to feel useful, he covered her back up with her shirt and prayed she would live.
“Murdock, take her gun off and check her pockets, see if she has any weapons in there.” Murdock did as he was instructed; when finished he passed the gun to Hannibal for safekeeping.
B.A. urgently honked the horn as he pulled up next to the other van. He rolled the window down as he slowed the down the vehicle. Frankie ran to the van, wondering what was going on. B.A. said, “Briana’s hurt, we’re taking her to the hospital.”
“Bad,” Hannibal said, sliding to the front of the van. “Take the Prince back to the castle, then meet us at the hospital.”
“You got it,” Frankie said, as he jogged to the other van.
Once their teammate was clear of the vehicle, B.A. slammed his foot onto the gas pedal and drove to the hospital at breakneck speeds. “Hang in there li’l mama,” he murmured.
Hannibal pulled himself off the floor of the van and sat in the passenger seat as fast as he could, quickly strapping himself in.
Murdock hovered over his friend’s prone body, afraid to take his eyes off of her, for fear that if he did, she would die. Needing to feel useful, Murdock took Briana’s wrist in his hand and placed his index finger on her pulse point, studying his watch as he sat silently as he took her pulse.
“How’s she doing?” Hannibal asked.
“Her pulse is weak,” Murdock replied after a moment. “Ah don’t know if she’ll make it, Colonel.”
Hannibal turned to their driver and said, “B.A.?”
“We’re almost there.” Spotting their target down the street, B.A. pushed the gas pedal to the floor in an effort to make the van move faster. As they got closer to the hospital, B.A. noticed flashing blue lights in his side view mirror. “We’ve got company, Hannibal.”
Hannibal looked out his side view mirror and spotted a glance of the squad car. “Keep going, B.A. we don’t have time to stop. We’ll deal with the police later.”
B.A. nodded as he continued his mission. Quickly approaching the entrance to the hospital, B.A. slammed on the brakes to slow down and turned the wheel as hard as he could, to the right. Murdock slammed into the side of the van, losing his balance as his friend drove. B.A. slowed his pace a little as he drove through the parking lot on his way to the E.R.
Before he reached the doors to the emergency room, B.A. slammed on the brakes, once again knocking Murdock over, tires squealing as the van came to a halt. Murdock scrambled to a sitting position so he could open the door. He threw the door open and jumped out of the van, quickly reaching for his friend.
The police car came to a screeching halt behind the van and the officer ran out, gun in hand as he tried to stop the occupants of the van. “She’s been shot,” Murdock called out in Danish, as he moved to the back of the van, into view of the police officer.
The police officer stood in shock when he saw the woman in Murdock’s arms. Her head hung back, he could hear her ragged breathing, and saw a trickle of blood streaming down her right hand as it hung low.
Not waiting for a reply, Murdock turned around and ran into the emergency room, calling out in Danish, “She’s been shot, she needs a doctor.”
A nurse and doctor ran up to Murdock asking what happened.
“She’s been shot, she needs help,” he said, concern lacing his words.
The doctor led Murdock to an empty room where Murdock gently placed his friend on the gurney. He wanted to stay next to her but knew the doctors and nurses needed to get close to Briana to work on her. Murdock reluctantly stepped back and walked towards the door, never taking his eyes off Briana. A nurse came up to Murdock firing off a string of questions about Briana, in Danish; Murdock did his best to reply to each question. Finding he was having trouble remembering what Briana taught him the night they received word of this mission, Murdock asked the nurse if she spoke English. She said “yes” and he continued answering the questions as best as he could.
When the nurse was finished with her questions, Murdock placed a hand on the door to walk out. The nurse told Murdock where the men’s room was to which he gave her a questioning look. She pointed towards his hands and that was when he noticed the blood on them, for the first time. Murdock thanked her and pushed the door open, making his way to the restroom. Walking to the bathroom, Murdock touched his hands together, feeling the sticky blood on both hands. He spared a glance down as he walked across the hall, and noticed just how much blood there was. Somewhere in the back recess of his mind, he heard Hannibal call his name, but all his brain processed was images of the past. Reflections of the war he and his friends fought in. Broken bodies of the men Murdock transported from the battlefield to the M*A*S*H* units, comrades in arms, even his own team.
Upon reaching the restroom, Murdock pushed the door open with his shoulder and walked straight for the sink. He looked at the faucet then at his hands and back at the faucet. He needed to turn the water on but didn’t want to get blood all over it. Taking a deep cleansing breadth, Murdock reached for the faucet and turned the water on. He held his hands under the running water and watched as the warm blood flowed off of his hands and down the drain. It was as if he was in a trance watching the crimson water flow down the drain. Nearly a minute after the water began running clear, Murdock began to move on autopilot. He dispensed some soap into his hand and began to massage his hands together, then rinsed them well, and then he used his hands as vessels to hold some water and rinsed the blood off the faucet. When he finished, he reached for the paper towels and dried his hands.
Murdock walked out of the restroom and towards his friends, images of Viet Nam still flashing through in his mind. He spotted a payphone up ahead and paused for a moment, reaching into his pocket to see how much change he had. He pulled the fist full of coins out and frowned; it wasn’t enough for a phone call to Doctor Richter. Murdock knew his old Psychiatrist would be able to help him through this, but he didn’t want to call the doctor collect. Instead he walked up to the phone and picked up the receiver, holding it to his ear. He inserted a number of coins and dialed the phone number to the hotel he and Briana had been to earlier that day. “General Stockwell’s room please,” he said when the operator answered the phone. She connected his call to General Stockwell’s suite and after he answered the phone, Murdock began to talk. “General Stockwell, Bree’s been shot. She’s at the hospital now; they’re workin’ on her.”
Hunt closed his eyes at the news, he was afraid something bad would happen to his daughter. “How bad?”
“Real bad,” Murdock replied.
“Which hospital are you at?” Hunt asked. Murdock relayed the information then hung up the phone after Hunt assured him they were on the way.
Murdock relayed the information then hung up the phone. He looked up to find the police officer waiting for him, needing answers to his questions. Murdock once again picked the receiver up and fed coins into the phone. He then dialed the number to the castle and asked to speak with Prince Gudmand.
“Captain, this is unexpected, how is the mission going?” Gudmand asked, standing next to the desk in his study.
“Frankie and Face have your son, they’re bringin’ him to the castle now. “
“That’s wonderful,” Gudmand beamed. “What about the rest of the team, do you need any help?”
“Not exactly. Briana’s been shot an’ we’re at the hospital.”
Prince Gudmand looked up as if asking a higher power, “How bad is it?”
Murdock closed his eyes and replied, “Bad.”
Gudmand sank down in his chair; he called the former Black Star to rescue his son because he knew Briana could bring Dieter home safe. He hadn’t planned on her getting hurt in the process. “I will have my pilot fly Lieutenant Peck and Mr. Santana to the hospital when they arrive.”
“Thank you,” Murdock murmured. Opening his eyes he saw the police officer impatiently waiting to speak with Murdock. Suddenly getting an idea, Murdock said, “Could you do me a favor?”
“B.A. was speedin’ to get Bree to the hospital in time and we passed a cop who chased us here….”
“I understand, let me speak with him.”
“Thank you,” Murdock said.
“It’s the least I can do,” Gudmand said.
Murdock looked past the police officer to his friends and handed the receiver to the policeman before walking to his friends.
Hannibal looked at his friend with concern. “You OK?” he asked.
Without saying a word, Murdock walked to the chairs in the waiting room and sank down; he placed the heels of his feet on the chair. Hannibal and B.A. followed their friend to the waiting area. Hannibal sat down on the chair next to Murdock while B.A. stood. Murdock leaned his head back against the wall and slowly began to speak. “Ah promised Bree we’d keep her safe. She was scared because she knew somethin’ bad was gonna happen. Ah failed.”
“Murdock, you didn’t fail, you saved her. What did Briana teach you in Danish?”
“Uh mostly what to tell doctors an’ nurses if she got hurt.”
Hannibal was afraid of that, “Well there you go. Briana made sure you had the tools you needed to save her.”
“But she was shot an’ an’ she could still die.”
Hannibal remembered how Nam affected Murdock and he wondered if his friend was having trouble seeing Briana shot and on the verge of death. “And there’s a very good chance she’ll make it.”
The young nurse Murdock had been speaking with earlier walked up to the men, informing them that Briana was being taken up to surgery. She offered to take the men up to the surgical waiting room.
“Now see, she’s going up to surgery, I’m sure she’ll be just fine,” Hannibal said. Standing he looked down at his friend and asked, “Are you coming?”
Murdock morosely looked up at his friend and replied, “No, I’m gonna wait here for the others.”
Hannibal sighed; he knew there was no getting through to Murdock when the younger man was like that. “We’ll see you upstairs then.”
Murdock had been quietly sitting by himself, lost in thought for a couple hours when Face and Frankie ran into the hospital, followed by Prince Gudmand. Frankie looked around as Face and the Prince were at the desk, talking to the receptionist. Spotting Murdock, Frankie patted Face on the shoulder and informed him that Murdock was in the waiting room. The three men quickly walked to Murdock, worried something had happened to Briana. “Murdock, how is she?” Face asked, sitting next to his friend.
Murdock stared at nothing in front of him as he replied. “Ah don’t know she’s in surgery.”
Face could easily see Murdock was worried for his friend. “Well that’s good, are Hannibal and B.A. waiting for her there?”
“Yeah,” Murdock simply replied.
“Why are you waiting down here?” Frankie asked.
"Ah was waitin’ for you an' Bree’s parents.”
Face placed a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder, “Well we’re going to wait with Hannibal and B.A. That is unless you want us to wait here with you.”
“No, you go ahead, Ah’m fine.”
“Are you sure?” Frankie asked.
Murdock looked up at his friend for the first time and replied, “Yeah, Ah’m sure.”
“If you’re sure, buddy,” Frankie said. Murdock nodded and the group turned to leave.
Glancing at his watch, Murdock found the trio had gotten to the hospital faster than expected. “How’d you get here so fast?” he asked before they left the room.
Turning, Face replied, “The Prince’s helicopter.” At Murdock’s nod they continued on to the elevators.
Murdock was once again left to sit by himself as he waited for Briana’s parents to arrive. He glanced around the nearly empty waiting room. Needing fresh air, Murdock stood from his chair and stretched before walking outside.
Shoving his hands deep in his pants pocket and taking a deep breath, he began to walk along the front of the hospital. The images of Viet Nam mixed with images of blood-covered Briana continued to plague him.
Some time later a limousine pulled up to the hospital and Hunt Stockwell and his wife stepped out of the back door. Patricia Stockwell spotted Murdock walking towards the door. “How is she?” Hunt asked as the other man stopped next to the couple.
“Don’t know. Ah’ve been waitin’ for everyone down here. Hannibal an' B.A. went upstairs when they took Bree into surgery.”
Patricia observed Murdock. “Are you all right?” she asked. Sighing Murdock shook his head, no. Patricia wrapped her arm around Murdock’s shoulders and said, “Come on, you look like you could use a cup of coffee.”
Hunt could easily see Murdock needed some time before going upstairs to the surgical waiting room with the rest of his team. “I’ll meet you upstairs,” he said, parting ways.
Patricia Stockwell and Murdock sat at a table next to the window in the cafeteria. The older woman wrapped her hands around her coffee mug as she watched her daughter’s friend stare out the window. They had quietly been sitting at the table for a few minutes, merely sipping their coffee from time to time. Deciding she had had enough of the silence, Patricia spoke. “What’s wrong H.M.? Some how I don’t think it’s seeing my daughter shot, after all you are a war vet.”
Murdock took a deep breath as he turned to face his friend’s mother. “Seein’ her shot like that reminded me of Nam. Ah keep seein’ images in my mind from Nam. Images… well you don’t need to know what Ah saw in Nam, ma’am.”
Patricia reached across the table and placed a comforting hand on his arm, “Oh H.M., I know how hard that can be. The first time I saw Bree in the hospital I couldn’t sleep for a week. Every time I closed my eyes I saw her lying in that bed, hooked up to all those machines.”
“How did you deal with it?”
Patricia raised the mug to her lips and took a sip. Putting it down she replied, “I don’t know how much Bree told you about us, but this happened when Hunt and I were divorced. Hunt came over one day and we talked for hours. Hunt spent the night and, well, let’s just say our brief reconnection helped. You see Hunt remembered that when he had moments like that, it helped to talk it out.”
“Does Bree know?”
“I never told her and I don’t think Hunt told her either. Do you have anyone you can talk to?”
Without thinking, Murdock replied, “Doctor Richter.”
Intrigued Patricia asked, “Who’s that?”
“He’s my… uh…” For once Murdock didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know how much the older woman knew about him and the team, and he didn’t know what she would say if she knew he was certified insane for over a decade. Murdock liked Briana and he didn’t want to worry the woman sitting across from him about his past.
“He’s your what, dear?”
“He’s my psychiatrist.”
Smiling warmly, Patricia said, “There’s no shame in that. What about your friends, can you talk to any of them?”
“Ah suppose so.”
“That’s good. Now, what do you say we go join the others upstairs while we wait for word on Bree?”
For the first time in hours, Murdock was starting to feel like there was hope. Hope that the images that once plagued him so long ago would once again leave him in peace. Chugging the remainder of his coffee, Murdock put the mug down onto the table and said, “Sounds good.”
Patricia took one last gulp of coffee before sliding her chair back and standing. Murdock stood from his chair as well and looked at her curiously. “Tell me somethin’. How can you sit here so calmly while Bree’s in surgery?”
“Well, regardless of whether I was sitting upstairs or down here, I’d still be concerned about Bree. Before Hunt went to the safe house to tell you about the mission, he spoke to me about it. We talked for hours and he assured me that even if Bree would get hurt, you and your friends would keep her safe and get her to a hospital right away.“ Murdock pushed his chair back from the table and stood. “Besides, you looked like you could use a little mothering,” Patricia added with a smile.
Upstairs in the surgical waiting room the men of the A-Team quietly sat anxiously waiting for word on their friend while Hunt and the Prince stood at the other side of the room in quiet conversation. At the sound of approaching footsteps, Hunt eagerly looked to see who it was. “Any word?” Patricia asked as she came closer to her husband.
“Not yet…” Hunt began. He stopped when he saw a doctor walk in, looking around the room. “How is she, doctor?”
Patricia turned around and slid next to her husband, needing to be close to him for fear of what the doctor would say.
“Have a seat, please,” The doctor said, leading the couple to the chairs. Hunt and Patricia followed the physician, sitting down in a pair of chairs in the back of the room. The doctor sat down with a sigh of relief, taking off his skullcap. “We stabilized Briana but she is in serious condition. All the bullets have been safely removed, one bullet penetrated her left lung, another nicked her liver, the rest missed vital organs but she lost a lot of blood. We reset her right arm and put it in a cast. She’s in a drug-induced coma we’ll pull her out of it once she’s stronger.”
“When can we see her, doctor?” Hunt asked.
“She’s in recovery now but a nurse will come for you soon.”
Murdock stepped up to the small group, wanting to speak with the doctor before the man left. “When can Ah see her?”
The doctor glanced up at Murdock and asked, “Are you family?”
“No, but Ah’m her friend and Ah want to see her.”
“I’m sorry but only family may go in to see her.”
“Doctor Ah carried her into the hospital; all Ah want to do is see my friend.”
“I’m sorry but it’s hospital policy that…”
“Excuse me, doctor,” Prince Gudmand said, stepping forward. The doctor looked up, surprised to find the crown Prince standing in the waiting room. He hadn’t noticed the Prince before. “May I speak with you privately?” Gudmand asked.
“Yes, your Highness.”
Gudmand led the doctor outside of the waiting room, into the hall to have a conversation away from the others. “I understand it’s hospital policy to only allow family into ICU but I’d appreciate it if you allowed her friends to see her.”
“I’m sorry you’re Highness, but it’s out of my hands.”
“Who do I need to speak with to get permission for her friends to see her? Agent Stockwell and her team saved my son, they deserve to see her.”
The doctor sighed as he rubbed the back of his neck. “You can try speaking with the head of the hospital, he decides the policy. He will be back in, in the morning.”
“Thank you,” Gudmand, walking back into the waiting room. “Captain,” he said, gaining Murdock’s attention. “I’m going to speak with the head of the hospital in the morning to give you permission to see Briana.”
“Thank you,” Murdock sighed.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to the castle.” Prince Gudmand turned and walked out of the waiting room.
Murdock walked to the chairs and sank down next to Face. Hannibal kept a close eye on Murdock, he could easily see the pilot was having a hard time seeing Briana shot and covered in blood. The group sat quietly as they waited for the nurse to come for Hunt and Patricia.
It was some time later before a young nurse walked in to take the Stockwells back to see Briana. Despite the late hour the group sitting in the waiting room were all awake.
When the couple was out of the waiting room, Patricia laced her fingers with Hunt’s, needing the comfort of her husband as they walked to see their daughter. Arriving at the room, Patricia hesitantly walked in knowing what she would see, afraid to see her daughter bandaged, hooked up to tubes and machines keeping her alive. Tears stung her eyes as she sat down in the chair next to the bed. Hunt carefully sank down on the bed, so as not to sit on any cables or tubes. He reached a hand to brush his fingers down her cheek.
“No more Hunt. I want that damned program out of her head.”
“I’ve had my men studying the information from the CIA, and they can’t do it quickly. They need more time to analyze it all. For now all we can do is reset the new programming. Unless you want them to keep Bree in isolation for months until she’s deprogrammed.”
Patricia sighed; she hated what the CIA had done to their daughter. “No. And more missions, this is it Hunt, I mean it!”
Hunt reached for his wife’s hand and took it in his. He caressed the back of her hand with his thumb as he talked, “I know, I don’t want to see her like this again. Believe me this is the last time,” he vowed. Hunt glanced back at his daughter and said, “She’s a fighter, she won’t let this keep her down.”
The young nurse came into the room with a clipboard and said, “I’m sorry, but you must leave now.”
“Can’t we stay just 5 more minutes?” Patricia asked.
“I’m sorry, no. But you may come back tomorrow morning.”
Rising from the bed, Hunt helped his wife to stand and murmured, “Come on honey. It’s late; we should get some sleep.”
Patricia didn’t want to go but she knew there was nothing she could do. Deferring to her husband, Patricia held onto Hunt’s hand for dear life as they walked towards the waiting room.
“Gentlemen,” Hunt said as he walked into the waiting room. “We’re going back to our hotel. You’re welcome to ride with us.”
The team looked at each other, before Hannibal spoke up. “Thank you, we’ll come with,” he said, rising from his seat.
Outside the men of the A-Team wearily climbed into the back of the limousine followed by the Stockwells. Hunt instructed the driver to stop at the hotel before taking the team to the castle. The ride back was silent; fatigue was starting to set in with the men.
Later that night when the limousine arrived at the castle, the team climbed out of the back, taking a moment to stretch their tired muscles. They slowly made their way into the building, ready to crawl into their beds for several hours of quality sleep. When they were inside the castle, Hannibal decided to talk to Murdock. “Murdock,” Hannibal said, gaining the younger man’s attention. “You OK?”
Murdock paused mid-step, turning he took a deep breath before answering. “No. Ah’ve been thinkin’ about Nam, the blood an’ guts of it.”
“When did that start?”
“Uh, when Ah walked to the bathroom to wash my hands. They were covered in Bree’s blood.”
“That wasn’t the first time you’ve seen blood or seen a friend shot.”
“Ah know that, Ah don’t know why Ah’ve been havin’ these images of Nam flash through my mind.”
“Has this ever happened before?”
“No, an’ Ah don’t know why Ah am now.”
Hannibal thought a moment, he knew Murdock well enough to know this wasn’t normal. “Did you have this problem when Face was shot last year?”
“What did you do that night that was different than tonight?”
“Ah don’t know. Well Ah was busy tryin’ to keep those creeps from hurtin’ anyone in the restaurant.”
“Well see there you go, you were staying busy, keeping your mind off the fact that Face was shot.”
Murdock looked at Hannibal unsure if that was the case. “What if… what if they don’t stop an’ Ah have to go back to the VA? Ah don’t want to go back there.”
Hannibal draped an arm across Murdock’s shoulders and said, “Murdock, I’m sure you’ll be fine. This will pass before you know it.”
Murdock looked at Hannibal, feeling unsure. Fear of his sanity gripped his heart with a cold hand. “Ah don’t know….”
“I know Murdock. It’s going to be hard to do, but you need to find something to take your mind off tonight. Try reading a book.”
“Ah’ll try, Colonel.”
“Good. You should try to get some rest; we’ve all had a long day,” Hannibal said, walking to his room.
Murdock nodded and began his own trek to his bedroom. Once in his room, Murdock closed the door behind him as he tiredly made his way to the bed and stretched out on top of the comforter. He scrubbed his face with his hands; his eyes were starting to feel like they were sitting in the dessert. Sighing, he grabbed the book off his nightstand and opened it to where he left off. Murdock knew he was really tired when he read the words in the book but his brain refused to accept the Danish words as easily as it did when he was fully awake. He closed his eyes a moment to rest them only to fall asleep with the book resting on his chest.
Sleep came easy to Murdock that night but nightmares plagued him. Images of Briana’s broken and bloodied body mixed with memories of Viet Nam. He thrashed in bed as the nightmares continued throughout the night. It was close to dawn when the dreams changed; soon he was having visions of his teammates back in Viet Nam. Fighting a war in the jungles of a foreign country, danger lurking all around them. The A-Team, the best and most feared team in Nam, now falling to the enemy; one by one they were taken out by bullets, landmines, and various other instruments of death. Murdock shot up in bed, a scream at the back of his throat threatening to escape as he fought to control his breathing. His book hit the floor with a loud thud, causing him to nearly jump out of his skin. Murdock sat with his feet on the bed, legs bent at the knees, with his arms crossed on his knees, resting his forehead on his arms.
He sat like that for several minutes trying to clear his mind of the images that plagued his sleep. Deciding against trying to get more sleep, Murdock swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood, padding his way to the balcony. Shades of pink, yellow and white streaked the sky as the sun made its ascent towards the heavens. Murdock looked out at the sky thinking Briana would love the heavenly painting. He found it so peaceful that he just stood and watched as the sky changed colors with the rising sun. Some time after the sun was high in the sky, Murdock decided to get on with his day. He made his way back into the bedroom to take his boots off before taking a shower to wash off the dirt and grime from the previous night’s rescue mission.
Later that morning the team stayed on the castle grounds, wanting to be close when the Prince returned with word of the change of the visitors’ hospital policy. Murdock was wandering in the gardens needing to ease his mind when Face came running up. “Murdock, hey Murdock,” he called out.
Murdock had been lost in thought when his friend’s voice finally penetrated his brain. Looking up he saw Face smiling as he approached. “Murdock, the Prince just called. The hospital is going to let us see Bree.”
Murdock’s face lit up at the news. “Really?”
“Yeah, come on! The others are waiting for us in the van.”
Murdock ran in a full sprint to the van, followed closely by his friend. Upon reaching the vehicle, Murdock dove into the back of the van, while Face stopped to hop in, slamming the door closed behind them. B.A. waited until the side door closed before he drove off, making his way away from the castle and to the hospital.
It was a long drive for everyone, but more so for Murdock. He nervously chattered away about seeing Briana. The usually gruff B.A. ignored his friend, knowing how anxious everyone was to see Briana.
It took close to three hours until the team arrived at the hospital; Murdock was the first to jump out of the van. He quickly made his way to the building as the others walked at a slower pace behind him. Murdock pushed the button for the elevator and bounced in his spot as he waited for the doors to open. The rest of the team picked up their paces to catch the elevator, wanting to ride up with their friend.
Upstairs in ICU the nurse reluctantly allowed the team to visit her patient. With Briana’s parents in the room the nurse insisted that only one of the team entered until General Stockwell and his wife left. Murdock gave his friends a pleading look, wanting to be the first one to see Briana. They agreed to let him visit first, willing to wait as long as it took to see their friend.
Murdock nervously walked into Briana’s room afraid of what he would see. “She didn’t look so bad,” he thought. “How, how is she” he asked as he walked closer to the bed.
General Stockwell turned at the sound of the voice and said, “She’s stable and getting stronger.”
“That’s good,” Murdock murmured as he carefully sat on the edge of the bed.
Patricia observed the slight man, noting he looked tired. “How did you sleep, H.M.?”
Murdock glanced at General Stockwell first, then to Patricia. “Not so good.”
“We’ll give you some time with Bree. I need a cup of coffee anyway,” she said, pushing herself up from the chair. Patricia motioned for Hunt to wait for her in the hall, and waited until he left the room. Patricia walked over to Murdock and rubbed his back comfortingly, “Try to get some sleep, you look tired,” she said. At Murdock’s questioning look she added, “Like I said last night, you look like you could use some mothering.”
Murdock gave her a grateful smile and promised to get more rest. He watched as Patricia walked out of the room and then returned his attention to his friend lying in the bed. Murdock noticed the dirt smudged on her face, probably from the fall, he thought. He brushed his fingers across her cheek, trying to remove the dirt but found that didn’t help. Frowning he began to talk to her. “Ah’m sorry Bree, Ah failed. Ah know Ah promised to protect you but… you knew this was gonna happen, didn’t you? Ah should have grabbed you an’ ran, that way you wouldn’t be lyin’ in that bed right now. But ya are here and there’s nothin’ Ah can do about it.” He sighed as he reached out to brush a stray strand of hair from her forehead. “Ah’ve been thinkin’ about what we could do when we go out. Actually Ah was thinkin’ you’ll probably be tired an’ not want to go out for awhile so Ah can bring a pizza or somethin’ an' a movie. What do you think?” Getting up from the bed, Murdock walked to the chair and sank down. “Ah, what am Ah sayin’? You probably can’t hear me.”
The young nurse came into the room to check on her patient. She overheard Murdock’s last sentence as she entered. Walking to the bed with her chart she glanced at the machines and began to jot down notes and said, “They say people in comas can hear when you speak to them.”
The information seemed to refresh the tired pilot. He sat up straight and reached for Bree’s hand, absently rubbing the back of it with his thumb, waiting for the nurse to leave the room. Murdock watched as she buzzed about the place, moving out of the way when needed. It took several minutes before the nurse had finished her task and left. Murdock waited until she was out of the room before he began talking to Briana again. “You know, you never told me what kind of movies you like. Ah should ask your dad what your triggers are. Ah don’t want to accidentally trigger your programmin’. Ah hope you never have to deal with that program again! Ah don’t like you when you're a Black Star, you’re not the same, you’re…. scary. Now Ah know why you don’t like to talk about it.”
Murdock paused a moment, needing to regroup. The memories of the past 24 hours forever burned into his thoughts, he envisioned Briana under the influence of the programming in the future and he shuddered.
Switching gears Murdock asked, “Do you like Chinese food? What am Ah sayin’? Of course you like Chinese food, everybody likes Chinese food.”
“You know, you’re mom is real nice; Ah like her. But you already know that. Do you think Ah should send her a thank you card or somethin’ for everythin’ she’s been doin’? Maybe Ah’ll ask Faceman.” Suddenly overtaken by a big yawn, Murdock shook his head hoping to stop any other yawns that were sure to follow. The growling of his stomach was close behind as if his body was telling him it was time to go and let someone else visit with Briana. “Ah guess that’s my cue to exit stage right.” Murdock stood from the chair and bent over the bed. He placed a kiss on her forehead, murmuring, “Ah’ll be back later.”
Hannibal had been keeping an eye on the door to the waiting room, worried about his friend. “How is she?” he asked as Murdock walked in.
Murdock walked to the chairs where his friends were sitting. “She’s, uh, doin’ good. General Stockwell said she’s gettin’ stronger.”
“That’s good,” Frankie said, trying to encourage his friend.
“Yeah it is.”
“Can we go in to see her?” Face asked.
“Yeah, Ah came out to get somethin’ to eat.”
Face and Frankie stood to walk out of the waiting room, wanting to see their friend. Face paused on his way out, placing a hand on Murdock’s shoulder and said, “You, OK?”
“Yeah, just tired.”
Face gave Murdock’s shoulder a squeeze before continuing on his trek out of the room.
“She doesn’t look so bad,” Frankie said, as he and Face stood next to the hospital bed.
Face looked around, taking in all the life-saving equipment. The steady beeps and rhythms of the machines brought back memories of his last stay in the hospital when the hitman hired to kill the attorney general shot him. “No, not bad at all,” he finally said after a minute or two.
Hannibal and B.A. walked in shortly after, each standing next to the bed, beside their friends. The men kept a silent vigil, occasionally speaking quietly.
Murdock carried a tray loaded with food through the semi crowded cafeteria. He scanned the room as he walked, looking for a table towards the back of the room where he could sit by himself. The usually outgoing member of the A-Team was too drained to socialize at the moment. He just wanted to eat his lunch then get back to his friend lying in the bed in ICU, and then go back to the castle to take a nap. Forget the nap, he thought; he just wanted to go back home to Virginia where his friends were all safe and sound. He hated seeing his friends hurt, especially Briana. Murdock spotted General Stockwell and his wife as he walked towards the back of the cafeteria. He kept walking hoping the couple wouldn’t stop him to talk, or invite him to sit with them.
“Captain,” General Stockwell said, upon seeing Murdock.
Murdock sighed, praying Stockwell wouldn’t ask him to sit at their table. “Yes, General,” he said, walking up to their table.
“I’m flying Briana back to Virginia when she’s strong enough to travel The doctor’s estimate is it will be two days before she can go.”
Murdock stood straighter at the news, “Ah want to fly her back, General,” he said.
“No, I already have a transport waiting for the green light from the doctor. You can, however, fly back with her. You and the team.”
Murdock was prepared to argue his cause to the General. He felt obligated to pilot the plane flying his friend and temporary teammate back to Virginia but a quick glance at Patricia Stockwell made him stop. In that fleeting glance he could see the toll this was taking on the older woman. “Yes, General,” he said, and then continued on with his trek to the back of the room. Spotting an empty table in the corner, Murdock made his way there, placing his tray on the table as he slid into the chair by the wall. He scanned the crowed once before turning his attention to the food on his tray.
About an hour later, Murdock wearily strolled into the waiting room with a cup of coffee and found his friends sitting in the chairs. He guessed Briana’s parents were visiting with her. Resigning himself to a long wait, Murdock sank down into a chair by his friends and placed his coffee cup on the side table. He leaned his head back against the wall and closed his tired eyes for a moment. Before he knew it Murdock had fallen asleep.
Murdock felt a gentle nudging on his arm as he vaguely heard his name quietly spoken. He pried his eyes open and looked around, finding Patricia Stockwell sitting next to him. She gave him a tired smile as he blinked away the sleep. He scanned the room but found the team gone. “They’re in Bree’s room,” she said.
“Oh,” he merely said.
“Visiting hours are almost over. Hunt and I are going back to our hotel. I think your team is going to leave soon too.”
Murdock looked at his watch wondering how long he had been asleep. It had only been a couple hours; he wondered why visiting hours were ending so early. He rubbed his eyes and thanked the older woman.
Patricia glanced towards the waiting room door at her husband and then turned back to Murdock. “We’re going to go, goodnight H.M. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Night,” he said as she stood. Murdock watched as she strolled to her husband and the couple wandered away. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to say goodbye to his friend, Murdock pushed himself from the chair and quickly made his way to Briana’s room.
The next day the team left the castle early and made their way to the hospital. The team continued to give Murdock some privacy, allowing him to visit Briana alone. As with the day before, lunch was had at the hospital and dinner in town close to the castle. The usually social and upbeat Captain, still not feeling like being around people, spent his time back at the castle alone; split between walking around the gardens and locked in his room.
Murdock woke the next day with one thing on his mind, finding out if Briana was strong enough to travel back home. The thought put a new spring in his step; he quickly readied for the day and made his way to the kitchen where the team was eating breakfast. Bounding into the kitchen Murdock asked if there was any news from General Stockwell.
“Not yet,” Hannibal replied.
Murdock grabbed a plate and loaded it with food before joining his friends at the table to eat his breakfast. They all anxiously awaited an update from their boss.
After all food was consumed and the dishes passed on to the kitchen staff for cleaning, the team were sitting at the table quietly chitchatting when Prince Gudmand walked in. “Briana is in transport to the airfield,” he announced.
It took the men a few seconds to realize what the Prince had said. Though they were waiting to find out if Briana would be traveling back to Virginia today they weren’t expecting Prince Gudmand to break the news to them. Murdock was the first to react; he pushed the chair back and jumped out of his seat, running to the Prince with a huge grin on his lips. He paused long enough to thank the man and shake his hand before running to his room, resisting the urge to let out a classic Howlin’ Mad Murdock yell in the process.
“I’ve asked one of the housekeepers to pack Briana’s things for you,” the Prince added as the rest of the team stood from the table.
“Thank you,” Hannibal said, as he made his way out of the kitchen.
Once everyone was packed, they loaded their luggage into the back of the van before climbing in to make their way to the airstrip where the medical transport was waiting for them. The men said their goodbyes to the royal family before climbing into their vehicle. All five men were eager to go back to their home in Virginia
B.A pulled the van up to the waiting plane and the team quickly exited the vehicle. Frankie made his way around the back of the van and opened the doors, handing bags out to the men as they walked up. Abels 4 and 20 were close by to take care of the van and weapons. They watched as two of the men deplaned to talk to B.A. as Hannibal stood behind the large man.
Hannibal waited until Face and Frankie were ready to catch B.A. and then he shot him with the tranq. gun previously provided by General Stockwell. Because of his fear of flying, B.A. didn’t protest too much, knowing it was the best way to get back home. Though he’d never admit it, he preferred being shot with a tranq. dart over enduring a flight awake. Hannibal waited until the men were at the top of the stairs before he quickly jogged up them, carrying the last of the bags.
As he stepped into the cabin, Hannibal saw Murdock sitting next to Briana, quietly singing to her. He paused a moment next to the pair to get a good look at their temporary teammate, and was able to hear what Murdock was singing. He quietly sang “In My Life” while holding her left hand and gently stroking the back of it with his thumb.
Sensing a familiar presence, Murdock finished the song and looked up at his friend. “She likes the Beatles,” he said.
“Who doesn’t?” Hannibal said.
“Bree told me that when she’s feelin’ overwhelmed by the memories she listens to the Beatles an' it reminds her of her life before the CIA changed her.”
Hannibal placed one of the bags on the floor and reached out to place a comforting hand on Murdock’s shoulder. “She’ll be back on her feet before you know it,” he said.
Murdock nodded and returned his attention to his injured friend.
Once everyone was settled in their seats, the plane pulled away and down the runway. The flight back home seemed to take longer than the flight to Denmark. Murdock spent much of the flight nervously watching Briana, afraid she would take a turn for the worse during transit, while Hannibal, Frankie and Face played cards and napped.
When the aircraft finally touched down in Virginia, the men sat up in their seats, eager to unbuckle their seatbelts and stretch their tight muscles. After the plane came to a stop, Murdock stood and watched as the nurse and doctor wheeled Briana out of the cabin and off the plane. He walked to the door ready to follow the gurney but stopped when he saw the limousine parked next to the ambulance. He looked back and forth between the two - one would take him to the hospital with Bree and the other would take them back to the safe house. Which to choose….
The groan from behind him made Murdock come to his senses. B.A. was coming out of the drug-induced sleep and they all had endured a long flight. The men needed rest, Briana needed to be going to be settled into the hospital and the doctor and nurse would give her a complete check up. Sighing, Murdock stepped aside so his friends could exit the plane. He walked back to his seat and grabbed his army issue duffle bag from the overhead compartment.
Murdock passed his bag off to the driver and then slid in the back of the limo. After placing the bag in the luggage compartment, the chauffer closed the trunk and then walked around and slid behind the wheel and made his way to the safe house.
That night in Murdock’s modest apartment, an empty pizza box sat on the coffee table, as he lounged on the couch nursing a bottle of beer. “Blood and Simple” was playing in the background as he stared off into nothingness. The images that plagued him in Denmark were clinging to his thoughts like foul smells to fabric. He closed his eyes and let the music take him away as it once did all those years ago in Vietnam.
Back at the safe house B.A. watched a wrestling match on TV while the rest of the team went out, all needing to take their minds off what happened on their recent mission.
The next day Murdock woke early and made his way to the hospital, eager to see his friend. When he arrived at the hospital Murdock and found Briana’s parents talking to the doctor. He politely waited for the couple to finish their chat before approaching to find out if he and the rest of the team could go into visit Briana. When the doctor walked away, Murdock quickly walked up to the couple. “How’s, uh, how’s Bree?”
“She’s doing well, they’re going to let you and the team see her,” Hunt replied.
“That’s good,” Murdock murmured. “Ah’ll be in the waiting room,” he added, turning to walk to the waiting room.
After they walked into Briana’s room, Patricia and Hunt stood by her bed quietly speaking to her.
Later that morning Murdock walked into the room and sat down in the chair next to the bed. “You’re home Bree,” he said after a quick scan of the room. “You can relax now an' focus on gettin' better."