Disclaimer: I do not own nor did I create any of the A-team characters or episodes. The credit is due to Stephen J. Cannell and his associates.
Spoiler Alert: This piece does reveal plot points of the Season 5 episode No Reservations.
Authors Notes: This piece is set between the team's escape from Villa Cochina and Face's recovery at the Langley Compound.
At the Hospital: Alternative Scenes for " No Reservations"
The team beat a hasty exit from the restaurant. Hurriedly yet carefully carrying Face and placing him on the floor of the van. B. A. leapt into his seat and gunned the engine. He growled " I'll get Face there in five minutes, Hannibal".
Hannibal was perched in his seat watching Faceman. Murdock was keeping a steady pressure on his wound desperately trying to buy their boy more time. The Colonel was also on the phone with Stockwell, demanding that the ER at D. C. General be ready, willing, and able to immediately treat the Kid. Stockwell assured him that all would be primed and waiting. Hannibal slammed down the phone and spoke to the team. "Okay guys everything will be all set. About time Stockwell was actually helpful." B. A. growled his agreement. Murdock simply nodded, never taking his eyes off Face.
"We're here Hanibal", B. A. announced as he jarred the van to a stop directly in front of the emergency room doors. Frankie tore open the van's sliding door. The frantic A-team was met by a medical team with a gurney. Murdock carefully placed Faceman on it refusing any help. Hannibal had to grab the Captain securely to keep him from racing alongside the gurney as Face was wheeled into surgery. A young nurse guided the four men into a private waiting room.
Now they simply had no choice but to wait. They had each done all they could for Face. The rest was up to God and the doctors. Not one of them did well with helpless waiting.
Frankie sat alone on a stuffed love seat. He was uncharacteristically quiet for he understood that none of his banter would be welcomed. He was worried about Face but he knew the rest of the guys were terrified they might lose their brother. He carefully glanced around the small room.
B. A. slumped awkwardly in a chair that was dwarfed by his muscular frame. He was quietly berating himself for not recognizing the danger Face, Murdock, and Frankie were in when he had gone in for the pizza, " Always calling Murdock a fool, when this time I was the fool," he mumbled to himself,"could have had the Faceman here a hour earlier and he wouldn't be in such bad shape."
Murdock was pacing maniacally. Criss crossing the 15x15 room repeatedly and wringing his hands. Every time he looked at his hands he shuddered because they still had Face's blood on them.
Hannibal stood against a wall squarely facing the door. Waiting to pounce on the first doctor or nurse to come with news. He automatically reached for a cigar only to come up empty. He seemed lost for a second when no spare cigar suddenly appeared from Face. The Kid wasn't there to resupply him. This realization seemed to knock the Colonel out of his trance. He looked around at his team. His boys. They needed him to be the rock and the leader. Murdock was his first priority so the Captain wouldn't undo all the progress he had fought for since the war.
Hannibal strode over to the pacing pilot and gave him a strong fatherly embrace. He gently ordered Murdock to sit down. Then he told B. A. to find an orderly to bring in a wash basin and a spare scrub shirt so that Murdock could be freed from the bloody shirt. B. A. was grateful to have a mission and instantly set out. He left the room, quietly closing the door behind him. Within seconds his booming voice could be heard as he summoned up an orderly to gather the supplies with the obligatory "Yes FOOL, I mean you! Move." Hannibal allowed himself a sad sideways smirk at this. Murdock was sitting in the chair that B. A. vacated but was now fixated on the blood stained shirt he wore. Cautiously Hannibal urged, "OK, Murdock, let's get that shirt off you. B. A. will be here with a clean one in no time."
Murdock shook his head no and hugged himself tightly. " I don't want to Hannibal," he stated stoically. Touching the sleeves he continued," This is Face's shirt. I promised to return it - laundered." The distraught pilot shook his head in disbelief, " This is my fault. I pestered Face into going to the restaurant tonight. I forced him to step up and interfere with those scumbags. I thought they were there for a simple robbery. I didn't know they were hit men and that the slimeball by the door was with them. I did lousy recon and now Face is in there fighting for his life. It's all my fault so how dare I take off his shirt or wash my hands." Murdock looked up at his Colonel with deep brown eyes filled with desperate pain, remorse, and fear. Hannibal returned his gaze. His own stark blue eyes reflecting all the desperation in Murdock's yet filled with forgiveness. In a gentle fatherly voice he asked, "Okay, do you feel better now that you've said all that? The only person responsible for Face's injury is the sleeze who pulled the trigger. He made the choice to shoot Face. He's the only one who is to blame. You didn't force Face to go anywhere tonight. And you know he would have stepped up to stop a crime, even if you hadn't spotted the trouble first."
Murdock just kept his gaze steadily on his colonel. Hannibal saw that he was getting through to him so he continued, "You are the one who kept Face alive and figured out how to get us in there to help you all out. Without you, Face wouldn't have even made it to the ER with a fighting chance."
B. A. and the orderly entered the room as the colonel was saying this. B. A. added, "Yeah, Murdock, you did just fine. I was the fool who didn't read the signs earlier. I should have known that Face wasn't just in the men's room. I was so busy listening to the game on my earphones I didn't see that my brothers were in trouble. I could have gotten Face out so much sooner. He'd be so much better off right now. ".
At this Hannibal stood up and bellowed, " ENOUGH! of all this ridiculous self pity. No one in this room is to blame." Then he confidently ordered, "Now Murdock clean your hands and change your shirt." He then added for good measure, "The nurses won't let you in to see Face after the operation if you're not clean". The orderly carefully placed the basin near Murdock and retreated while telling the team to call him if they needed anything else. Robotically Murdock complied with Hannibal's instructions. Then Hannibal placed the soiled water and stained shirt out of sight on a corner shelf.
Time passed so slowly. It had been about an hour since they had rushed Face into the hospital.
Frankie absently flipped on the tv. There was a flash-news report on. The on-the-scene reporter was broadcasting from Villa Cochina. She was telling the viewers that the restaurant owner had saved the Attorney General from an execution. The owner, Sal, somehow over powered a trio of hit men and one dirty beat cop. The film showed the two taller hit men cuffed and being loaded into a cop car. The dirty cop was already restrained in another car. Then everyone saw the scum who had shot Face being assisted out of the door. He was barely on his own feet, the effects of Murdock's rage. Neither Frankie or Murdock had identified him as the shooter. But B. A. and Hannibal had figured that out by the way Murdock had pounded on him during their victory fight. As he sneered at the footage, Hannibal was thinking that Frankie had pulled Murdock off the low-life too soon. B. A. growled -Murdock shuddered- Frankie snapped off the tv as abruptly as he had turned it on.
Another agonizing hour passed before the nurse who had lead them into the waiting room returned. Hannibal met her at the door in two urgent strides. She didn't have much news other than to say that Face was still in surgery. His vital signs were weak but had remained stable which was a good sign. She assured the patchwork family that Face was in the hands of the best surgeon they had on staff. In fact, he had been summoned from home to attend to Face. Hannibal made a mental note to thank Stockwell for this and for the fact that no one on staff had asked for any information about Face or how he was shot. She retreated and the four men looked at each other with the strongest glimmer of hope than they had felt since this nightmare had begun.
Once she left, each man lost himself in thoughts and memories of Face, his cons, and the value of his loyalty and friendship. Thirty minutes later the door creaked open and the familiar orderly came in. He had a tray with coffee, milk, and muffins. Comfort food. He discretely removed the wash basin and ragged shirt as he left.
The food was left untouched. B. A. and Murdock sat silently on the small sofa. Frankie was fitfully dozing in the chair. Now it was Hannibal's turn to pace. No cigar, no power, no plan. He really couldn't take this much longer. Then he felt guilty for his impatience. Face was enduring a much worse struggle and he certainly didn't want the doctors to rush and hurt the Kid.
Finally three hours after their frantic arrival a doctor in surgical garb arrived in the room. All four men shivered at the sight of his gown thoroughly stained with Faceman's blood. The doctor noticed and was suddenly ashamed. He apologized for not cleaning up first but he knew they would be anxious for news so he had rushed over as soon as he had closed up his patient. He reported that they had successfully stopped all the bleeding and they had been able to repair the damage done to Face's abdomen. His vitals were still very weak but showing some improvement. The doctor closed with the warning that Face was not out of the woods yet but barring an infection his prognosis was very hopeful. The next 24 hours would be crucial. The four men breathed a deep sigh of relief and offered up silent prayers of thanks.
Hannibal and Murdock simultaneously asked to see Face. The doctor hesitated but finally gave in, but only if they went in separately and stayed only a few mins each. Face was sedated to give his body a chance to heal and probably would be unresponsive the surgeon warned. Hannibal and Murdock didn't care. They each needed to see and touch their friend to be reassured the worst was over and their deepest terror hadn't come true.
Hannibal went in first. The colonel found comfort in watching the heart rate monitor record a quiet steady rhythm. He gently brushed some hair away from Face's eyes. Face looked so pale and so vulnerable under the covers and hooked up to the IV tubes and monitors. Hannibal couldn't help but flash to the memory of Face when he first joined the team in Nam. He was just a lonely teenager so desperate to belong to a family he had enlisted in the army. Face had grown so much since then but Hannibal could still see that lonely kid peek out every now and then. He called Templeton Peck "kid" then and still did for that very reason. He whispered softly to Face that he was safe now and that the doctors had fixed him up well. He then ordered his lieutenant to rest and heal quickly. Face seemed to stir and smile a bit when Hannibal spoke.
Murdock came in next. He barely held in the tears of relief when he saw for himself that Face was alive and sleeping. He would have felt even better if Face was able to toss a teasing comment at him but Murdock knew that sleep was the best medicine for his dearest friend. Murdock patted Faceman's hand, carefully avoiding the monitor clamps and IV port. Face's thumb seemed to respond in an attempt to pat him back. His blood pressure normalized a bit too.
Hannibal had been watching through the observation window of Face's ICU room. He realized that Murdock being in the room was helping both Face and the pilot. Hannibal turned to the doctor who had also been observing the brothers. After some debate, persuasion, and outright coercion arraignments were made for Murdock to spend the night in Face's room. Hannibal would stay in the waiting room with B. A. and Frankie. No one was willing to leave Face alone in the hospital. After all they were a team and they all go out together or not at all.
By mid morning the doctor declared Face's prognosis to be good. There were no signs of infection and his vital signs were steadily improving. He was going to keep Face heavily sedated for a few days so he would not toss or stir. This would protect all the stitches and help Face heal better. The men reluctantly agreed to go home for a few hours. They'd grab some showers, food, and maybe some sleep. No one had truly slept the night before.
Over the next weeks each man took a shift in Face's room. The doctor let off on the sedatives on the second day. By day six Face was able to carry on limited conversation. He thanked his team and actually expressed surprise that everyone kept such a tight watch on him. Hannibal marveled that even after all these years Face still expected to be abandoned. I guess some wounds never fully heal the Colonel thought to himself.
Everyone was so relieved when three weeks later Face was allowed home but on strict bed rest. Very quickly he was allowed to make the short daily walk from his room to the den. As long as he laid on the couch once he got there. One afternoon he was resting under a powder blue blanket B. A. had insisted on covering him with just chatting with Hannibal, B. A., and Frankie. Murdock bounded in with Gina - the girl from the restaurant - in tow.
Murdock joyfully greeted everyone. Gina thanked them all again for protecting her dad, their customers, and her. She said that they had made a pizza for Face. He looked at it a bit warily not quite sure that his healing body was ready for pizza. Everyone laughed as Murdock opened the box with his usual flourish. On the pizza - using anchovies- he had spelled out " Get Well Face". This was the same method he had used to alert B. A. and Hannibal that they needed a rescue that awful night. Everyone laughed and then B. A. threw a fit over the anchovies.
It was good to have everything back to normal. A-team style.