BA and Face are 21/22 Hannibal 35 and Murdock about 28
The OC Kelly is 19 and met the team four months earlier when they ended up on a ranch, she was working at, After they escaped Fort Bragg in February of 1972.
The white light was relentless, stark, cold and unforgiving, had it been hours, weeks or even years since he had seen darkness. Time was an unrealistic concept, there was no way to track yesterday, today or tomorrow. His brain no longer functioned in timeframes, all he wanted was peace from the light, but it never came. Was he already dead, was this hell? He gouged at his side with his dirty nails, the pain was like a release, the delicate pleasure of seeing his own blood welling in the narrow scratches. A colour other than white, he must be alive, he still had blood. On the floor he could see the vomit filling with maggots, he knew he would have to eat it again. Trying to remembered had he eaten it twice or three times already before his stomach had thrown the putrid contents out of his body. The gentle constant buzzing of the flies was white noise torture, relentlessly combined with the white light. May be the maggots in the vomit will be more acceptable to his fragile stomach. They at least would contain water, he knew he needed water. With his sight and hearing being constantly attacked his sense of taste and smell burned with ammonia. His own urine and feaces sat covering the floor of his tiny cell. The high humidity in 'nam prevented the fluid evaporating so it just sat festering. After the endless time he had been imprisoned in that cell the ammonia had built up to a level it burned his nasal hair and scorched his throat with every ragged breath he took. The only sense he still had control of was touch.
He heard them coming but could not see them, the tiny tormentors he knew were there, but he saw the metal pole. Knowing they would tie him as if on a crucifix he was desperate.
"Tránh xa tôi ra. để tôi yên" he begged before becoming angry "fuck off bạn mẹ fucker"
Instead of tying him to the pole they swung it to smash his already broken body as he cowered away.
The pain of the beating never came, he just saw the pole being swung over his head. The relief of the pain he had inflicting the wounds to his side played in his mind. If his tormenters were not going to give him the release of pain what sense could he still control. How good would it be to gouge his own eyes out, he could enjoy the sensation of touch combined with stopping the relentless white light burning in to his brain through his eyes.
"I don't wana go, he can't make me" Face grumbled sounding like a stroppy toddler while wrapping himself tighter around Kelly. "Tell him to go away."
This caused the girl to start giggling at the thought of telling Hannibal anything, let alone to go away.
"Don't you go laughing at me, it's not fair." Face continued his complaining. Suddenly he released the still giggling girl and sat bolt upright in bed.
Kelly rolled on to her back to look up at him. "What?" She asked no longer laughing.
"Genius. You go instead of me." Face suggested brightly, before collapsing back on to the bed and holding her close. "He'll never notice, perfect plan." He added screwing up his eyes.
"Face I'll drag you out if you don't get up now!" Hannibal barked outside the bedroom door.
Kelly decided to take matters in to her own hands and started detangling herself from Face's embrace. Face groaned at her and kept recapturing her, still with his eyes screwed shut.
"I am not having Hannibal come in here, drag you out of bed and you end up dragging me up too. It is four in the morning I am planning on staying asleep and in bed. So get up pretty boy." She teased, before gentle kissing each tightly shut eyelid and whispering "Sooner you get up, sooner you're back, sooner I can say thank you to you for letting me sleep now."
Face leapt out of bed, throwing his clothes on as he cheerily called "On my way Hannibal, get BA to start the van, I'm seconds away." Causing Kelly to start laughing again as she watched him running out the door.
"So what's the mission Hannibal?" Face asked passing his colonel a fresh cigar from his top pocket. It was nearly 7.00 and Face was now feeling more human.
"To put a slime ball loan shark out of business" Hannibal replied, gratefully accepting the cigar.
"So is this what we're doing now?" BA asked in a very matter of fact way, without moving his eyes from the road in front of him. "Chasing after bad guys in America instead of 'nam" he continued.
"$25,000 says yes, today, that's what we're doing." Hannibal said smiling round his new cigar.
"It just feels a bit strange, like we're whores for hire, accept instead of our whole bodies we are selling our fists." Face suggested before adding "and not having as much fun either."
Chuckling at his Lieutenant's strange comparison Hannibal lite his cigar, his eyes sparkled with their mischievous glint. "You both loved nailing those jerks Craig Sutton and Jed Bartlett-Jones. You gotta admit that."
"He's chasing the jazz, chasing the jazz." BA sighed.
"And you're not?" Hannibal smiled raising his eye brows.
"I like jazz too Hannibal, but not so keen on leaving my girl and best mate. Murdock isn't doing so well after that Arylib job." Face was referring to the team recently closing down a cult in LA trying to recreate the nazi Aryan project, drugging young girls to brain wash them in to carrying the new population. Kelly, his girl, had got mixed up in the process and accidental got drugged before the team had got in to save her. Murdock had been a core part of the mission but after firing an assault rifle, during the girl's rescue, had now started to relive his nightmares. Face was pleased Hannibal had left Kelly and Murdock back in LA to recover from the recent Arylib job but he was not so keen on not being able to stay with them. Hannibal having been offered the loan shark mission had wasted no time and just three days after closing down the Arylib cult they were on the way to some god forsaken small town for the next job.
"Face when you were in college what did you study?" Hannibal asked wanting to distract his Lieutenant from his current thought process. He had his own concerns about leaving Murdock at the beach house.
"Business major, didn't make it to the end of the first year though, joined up and ended up with you lot. Why?" Face asked curious at where this was going.
"Between the last two jobs and this one we're going to have a tidy sum. Thinking you may need to revisit your business training." Hannibal suggested, knowing this would play to Face's strengthens and interest. He watched with satisfaction as Face got a glint in his eyes.
"Yes, Yes, I've been following the stock on…" Face wasn't able to describe in detail how he would start to invest the teams earnings as BA interrupted him.
"We ain't got this money yet, we not done the job. My Momma says don't spend what you don't got" he growled still staring at the road. He also was not impressed with Hannibal dragging them off to play body guards to some fool who borrowed money from the wrong person. Having had to comfort Murdock twice last night when he was screaming in his sleep being tormented by nightmares it was stupid to leave him alone. It was only because Murdock had got up with the other guys at 4.00 BA was even willing to go. No way could the girl cope so he sure hoped Hannibal had a plan to get this job wrapped up in a day so they could be back at the beach house by tonight.
"Best solution for that is we get this job done then. Wipe out the cockroaches holding a whole town to ransomed. Then Face can start his investment plans and your momma will be happy." Hannibal chuckled, as if reading his Sergeant's mind. BA glanced over at the man sat in the passenger seat next to him, knowing from that comment Hannibal was also concerned about leaving Murdock and the girl alone. Appreciating his colonel trying to deflect the team's unspoken fear BA did not voice his concerns over what would happen tonight.
"Gold, got to get some gold. Best stuff to invest in. I don't trust them smarmy banker types. I want some gold." BA firmly announced,
"It's 1972 not 1872, it needs to be property, technology, air travel" Face was getting into this now until BA interrupted him again.
"You go sticking my money on a plane you'll be needing the gold for a new set of teeth." He growled.
Hannibal chuckled around his cigar, BA glanced over and saw his colonel's eyes had their wicked glint.
"To late he's on the jazz already."BA said glancing back at Face who rolled his eyes in response.
"Not wanting to douse your jazz Hannibal, but you forgotten about Lynch, oh and a small army of MPs looking for us?" Face reminded him. "Should we be doing anything to draw attention to ourselves?"
"Crazy fool been with Murdock to much, telling the paper it was us. Taunting Lynch just gona make him mad." BA growled thinking about the tip off Hannibal had given the press about his A-Team closing down a porn tycoons drug operation.
"You have to admit it has a nice ring to it. 'A-Team made up of fugitives on the run from the government helping the little people out, righting wrongs and bringing the bad guys to justice'." Hannibal beamed to his men, using his cigar to write the imaginary headline in front of him.
"This is real life not one of Murdock's comics." Face sighed rolling his eyes again, wishing again he was at the beach house with Kelly and Murdock, not risking getting punched by some loser loan shark.
"Come on, it'll be fun." Hannibal encouraged as BA stopped outside a hardware store in the small quiet old gold mining town of Wrightville, about three hours from LA.
A portly man came straight out the store and up to the van, he looked nervous as his eyes darted up and down the street. "Hi I'm James Baxter are you Hannibal?" He asked BA through the drivers window.
"Catherine Baxter's cousin? I'm Hannibal, that is BA and in the back is Faceman." Hannibal explained leaning across BA.
"Yes yes that's me, thank you for coming so quickly." James sounded stressed "McGregor is due to collect this weeks money at noon. I don't have it all and he threatened my little girl Louise last week when I was short."
Hannibal had got out the white van with BA and Face flanking him he removed his cigar then smiled at James "It'll be fine, you just hired 'The A-Team' your little girl is safe now." Hannibal extended his hand to shake James' hand.
James showed the team through his hardware store and up to the large apartment above. Ann, his short, round, kind looking wife greeted them warmly. Playing on the floor was a sweet child about five years old who they were informed was Louise. BA sat on the floor and started joining in the little girls game with a small model farmyard complete with tiny animals.
"Coffee?" Ann asked, then her and James disappeared to the kitchen after Hannibal and Face nodded.
Resting his arm over Face's shoulders Hannibal smiled "This is the image I see of you and Kelly in ten years." He teased waving to the child playing on the floor as Face physically shuddered and grimaced with the thought. Enjoying his lieutenant's discomfort he continued. "Nice little home in suburbia. Little Faceletts playing in the back yard, while you slave all day selling brooms. Don't tell me that's not your dream?" Hannibal chuckled, it was too good an opportunity to wind up the younger man. Plus Hannibal knew it would help remind Face why he chased the jazz too.
It was like Face's worst nightmare but as he considered Hannibal's image, thinking about the girl he had been forced to leave behind this morning, he knew it would probably be her worst nightmare too. Ann returned with the coffee halting Face's random thoughts.
"Murdock, if we don't find some ponies today I am going in to full withdrawal. Trust me it won't be pretty." Kelly informed her companion over breakfast. "Look it's started already." She held out her hand making it tremble.
"Kemosabe, after Hannibal's phone call we will go on a horse hunt." Murdock grinned back at her.
"Promise?" The girl pleaded hands clasped in front of her.
The shrilling ring of the phone prevented Murdock replying to her as he leapt over the couch and threw himself on the phone like football touch down.
Putting on a Chinese accent Murdock lifted the receiver "Ling Laundrette, service include shrink, stretch, dye but no fatal."
"Shut up Murdock or I'll get BA on the phone." Face replied the other end of the line.
"Faceman you no fun" Murdock whined.
"Look not got time for this, Hannibal needs you to get some background sorted by 11.00" Face sounded tetchy now. "I want this job done so we can get back."
"Go on then" Murdock drawled.
"Can you check the legislation on extortion by a public officer. We got a bent sheriff turning a blind eye to his brother's methods to make local businesses repay loans. The guy who hired us borrowed $5k a year ago, already paid back $12,000 and still owes $15k. Hannibal wants to nail both brothers, but we need to know what'll hurt them most." Murdock had been writing all this down as Face spoke.
"Kemosabe going to have her little English nose out of joint now." Murdock told Face.
There was a silence the other end.
"Faceman stop rolling your eyes, I can see you."
"No you can't" Face replied
"I can, you know I can" Murdock said with confidence.
"What am I wearing then?" Face said evenly
"Blue jeans, Brown loafers and your white shirt with a blue padded bodywarmer."Murdock told him with his eyes closed waving a hand in the air.
"You saw me before I left, that's cheating." Face sounded cross again.
"And you're drinking a coffee, half finished." Murdock continued.
A long sigh from Face
"And you're rolling your eyes again, Faceman I can see you. You can't hide." Murdock still had his eyes closed waving his hand around.
"Tell Kelly I miss her and get on with the damn research. We'll call 11.00" Face hung up before Murdock could reply.
Murdock moved to the kitchen turned his back on Kelly, wrapping his arms around himself so he was running his hands up and down his side while making loud kissing sounds. Kelly was confused but started laughing at the strange activity. Murdock finally turned to look at her with a lopsided grin.
"Faceman sends that." He said.
"Yeah right, I don't think so. Now can we go find me a horse." Kelly said smiling back at Murdock.
"Soz, I'm just the messenger, don't get all BA mud sucker on me but we got homework to do first." Murdock told her in a cockney, London, accent, Dick Van Dyke style.
Kelly clasped her chest, carefully fell off her stool, when lying on the floor she gasped "Withdrawal reaches dangerous level" before flopping her head to the side and shutting her eyes.
"Murdock can apparently see through phone lines now." Face informed Hannibal and BA.
"Crazy fool is getting crazier" BA growled.
"Well I think it sounds like an excellent skill." Hannibal chuckled.
"Skill or not, if he's busy teleporting visions on the phone I'm not sure he'll actually do any background for us Hannibal." Face replied sounding frustrated.
Hannibal did not bother to reply, he knew for all the random thoughts Murdock had, when given a specific task, his Captain would always deliver. This loan shark job was of no interest to Hannibal but the very fact it would give his whole team a focus was why he had agreed to help James Baxter. He was not sure if strategically he had made the right choice leaving Murdock at the beach house. Hannibal knew he could not have taken the girl, firstly she seemed uncomfortable seeing the working personas of the whole team plus he wanted her to fully recover from what ever she had been drugged with just a few days before. He was not convinced she would not bolt given the first opportunity so had to leave a minder behind. He expected he would be needing his con man and his muscles for this gig, plus Hannibal did not want to have to avoid using fire power if it was necessary. With Murdock regressing after firing a gun on the last job, he had not had much choice. Logic or not Hannibal had the uncomfortable gut feeling Murdock and the girl should not be away from the team and alone in LA. Hannibal resolved to get this job done and dusted before the sun set so he could get back to the beach house this evening. Such a simple problem of a couple of bullies frightening the local businesses, his team could sort them out before breakfast, Hannibal thought confidently.
"Tránh xa tôi ra; để tôi yên; fuck off bạn mẹ fucker
leave me alone
fuck off you mother fucker
A/N Having helped Catherine Baxter get her daughter back from a cult in Early days 1972 part 1 her cousin has agreed with the local businesses in his town to pay the A-Team $25,000 to get rid of a loan shark. This was the equivalent of one month payments from the whole town.