Prologue – April 1983, Porterville, CA
"Man, I am hungry. Mmmm, I can just smell a big honking steak with some chili fries over ice cream," Murdock said, scrunched up in the back seat of BA's van.
"Chili fries over ice cream, Murdock?" Face wasn't surprised. Disgusted maybe, but not surprised.
"Oooh, you know where I'll bet we can get good chili fries. That little café in Bad Rock. My Murdock map tells me we're only about 10 miles."
"You ain't got no map, fool. Just your mind playin tricks." As usual, BA had no patience for Murdock's antics.
Face used a real map for confirmation. "Actually, BA, it is about 10 miles." Murdock sat back in his chair and stretched his arms over his head, triumphant.
"No." They all turned to look at Hannibal. He lit a cigar as he continued to gaze forward.
Face started to speak, "Well, we know they won't call Lynch –"
"No." Hannibal spoke quietly but with a clear edge. His team gaped, confused. "What?" He turned to them, and his eyes bored into Face's. The others felt the heat. "Which part of 'no' do you not understand?"
The guys looked at each other as if their commander had lost a drive wheel, then shrugged. No one broached the subject of food until they were very far away.
Maggie Sullivan parked her 1968 Ford pickup in the parking lot of the Blue Dolphin restaurant avoiding the army of valets trying to flag down cars, although not her car. Looking at it, they probably thought she was too poor to pay them a tip. In truth, her small-town medical practice was doing fine and the home she lived in had belonged to her parents. She could afford a newer car; the thought made her uncomfortable. Her father, also a doctor, had bought the truck new in 1968 just before Maggie got her orders for Vietnam. He told her he would have it gassed up for her when she returned. She didn't realize the truck would be there, but he wouldn't. He should have realized the signs of heart disease. Instead he died of a massive heart attack six months into her first tour.
Her musings distracted her until she opened the car door and took in her first breath of L.A. air. Breathing deep, she remembered one reason she hated the "City of Angels"…Because it smelled like the City of Crap. How did people live here? Traffic was no joy either.
Maggie was meeting an old army friend for lunch, a nurse who now lived in Dallas. It was Maggie's first time in L.A. since returning from the war and dealing with her dad's legal paperwork. She entered the restaurant and inquired if Sarah had arrived. The maître D spoke, but Maggie's ears didn't hear. Perhaps it was the strange tunnel vision she experienced while staring across the room at Hannibal Smith and his ever-present cronies. Her brain wanted to focus, but the only thought she could muster was "Damn that man is handsome". Those blue eyes made her stomach melt into a pile of goo. Her heart raced, and she felt light headed. He'd had that effect on her the minute her arms had encircled his waist looking for weapons. It only got worse when he had kissed her, pulling her into him despite her weak protestations.
It was not like her to fall so hard or fast, but after he and his friends had come back to help her town rid themselves of the Barbarian threat, she couldn't help but have feelings for him. Just watching his brilliant mind work, seeing his confidence as he weaved his plan and led his men to carry it out took her breath away.
She wasn't sure why she had expected him to come back, to call, something. Maybe she believed he saw her as special, as different from other women. At first, she thought about him all the time. She couldn't stop thinking of him really. But after six months, she put a stop to it. Maggie had always been independent and self-sufficient, and was damned if she was going to let some man (even Hannibal Smith) stay under her skin.
His laugh brought her out of her musings abruptly. Now what? Go talk to him? Ignore him? Then like a needle raking across a record album, tunnel vision crashed into reality. A woman, blonde, buxom, young, appeared as if out of nowhere and cozied herself onto Hannibal's lap, planting a deep passionate kiss on his lips. What were those, double D cups? Maggie looked down briefly at her (now) inadequate Bs. Well, at least I know why he didn't call. Bitterness set in. Those years in 'Nam had left scars on her both emotional and physical. She was no spring chicken either. What man would rather deal with that? Likely that women on his lap probably couldn't even spell "Vietnam" much less find it on a map or knew what happened there. But heck, can't compete with Double D.
Maggie turned and marched from the restaurant defiantly as Sarah approached.
"Maggie, what's wrong?" Sarah asked, concern in her voice. Apparently, this was why she never won at poker.
"Nothing. I just don't like the clientele here. Can we go somewhere else?" Maggie said, only partially lying. She didn't like some of the clientele.
"Sure, do you like Chinese? I passed a place up the street that looked pretty popular." Maggie nodded thankfully. As she drove away, her brain told her she would purge her feelings for Hannibal Smith, or at least bury them so deep no one would find them. No matter how much her heart protested.
February 28, 1984 – 1:00 p.m.
Maggie Sullivan put down the phone. Whoever this Tawnia Baker was, she seemed in earnest that Hannibal and his men were in trouble. Someone took them out one by one, Hannibal the only one left standing. Or rather lying, in a seedy motel room unconscious and in pain. Her combat training kicked in and pushed aside any feelings in order to do the job. How many times had she lost friends under the knife, men whose wounds were too severe to even begin to treat? If she had allowed emotions to enter the arena, it would have paralyzed her. She used that same ability now. The feelings for him she buried began to bubble up, and SLAM! Right back in the box Maggie! You have work to do! OK, think. Based on the symptoms, it is probably poison, or a sedative. Hoping the latter. There were too many poisons available to even guess which it could be. Gathering what she could, she hopped in the truck and headed out. She turned the music up loud, to stop her brain from thinking about the man she was going to help. Within 30 minutes, she had arrived at the motel room. God, he looked so helpless. The goo in her stomach returned. She slammed that back in the box too and got to work.
February 28, 1984 – 7:00 p.m.
Maggie barely ate the dinner Murdock and B.A. had prepared. Even barbeque ribs couldn't entice her appetite. The incessant back and forth between the team had been fun earlier, and day the Barbarians came to town, but was now tiresome. Hannibal sat next to her, but barely spoke. She begged off dessert and took a walk in the woods, stopping to sit on a rock by a large pond. Crickets and frogs began their evening symphony. She tried to focus on that and the beauty of the place, not on the fact that this cabin they routinely trained at was a mere 40-minute drive from Bad Rock. That at any time and with very little trouble, Hannibal could have called on her, without concern that anyone in her small town would out him. Suddenly she heard footsteps and she knew without turning around who they belonged to.
"Maggie?" Hannibal called softly. "Are you here?" Maggie debated answering, although she suspected his finely-honed instincts betrayed her location.
"Yes" she answered, hoping she kept any emotion from her voice. He sat down next to her, close but allowing some distance, as if he knew that's what she wanted.
"You didn't eat much. You seem distracted. Are you OK?" Hannibal seemed genuinely concerned. She didn't bite, saying nothing.
Hannibal pressed. "You know, we owe you a debt. None of us would be alive right now if you hadn't come to help me."
Maggie's brain tried to stop her mouth with no success. "Well, I guess that's my role now? I mean, I'm no blonde 24-year-old with big boobs but I guess I'm good for something."
Hannibal's whole body pulled back as he eyes widened slightly. Maggie wasn't even sure where the vitriol came from but continued, more evenly. "I saw you at a restaurant over the summer. You had some young thing on your lap. You looked very cozy. I figured that was why you never called me. I mean, how can a forty something like me compete with a 40DD, right?"
"Is that what you think? That I didn't contact you because I wanted some bimbo?" Hannibal asked.
"Pretty sure I just made that clear. Which is fine because we knew each other for, what, 10 minutes?"
Hannibal smiled. "Something like that," he said, remembering their conversation at Maggie's house months before.
"Honestly, I'm not angry at you. I'm angry at myself for believing you felt something for me, that I allowed feelings to take root at all. I mean, that was the kiss of death in 'Nam, right?"
Hannibal said nothing, his expression neutral. Maggie couldn't stand the silence. "Well, good talk Colonel. Next time you need my medical prowess, you know where to find me." She got up to leave, flee really, when Hannibal's hand grabbed her arm. She glared at him, but he nodded for her to sit, which she did, reluctantly.
"You know," he started "I've never really had a lot of respect for women. I mean, there were a few in 'Nam, a doctor and a few nurses, but for the most part, women were…" He trailed off and seemed embarrassed.
"For the purpose God intended?" Maggie finished, sarcasm obvious. "Cooking, cleaning, sewing…. making babies."
"When you say it, it doesn't sound so good," he said, smiling weakly.
"It sounds worse to me," she countered, the corners of her mouth tugging upward a tiny bit. "Let me see if I have Hannibal Smith's non-fugitive life plan correct. Survive 'Nam, garnering a few medals along the way. Enough medals to move up the ranks quickly, to General if possible."
Maggie looked at Hannibal; his expression confirmed her accuracy. "As a high-ranking officer, you would be expected to marry someone respectable, hopefully connected. Someone who could join the wives club, host parties, pop out a few babies, run the base PTA," Maggie pretended to shudder, "discuss inane topics with other officer's wives at said parties and PTA meetings."
Maggie smirked as she saw Hannibal squirm uncomfortably. "Someone you would have very little actual contact with except for required 'marital relations.' How am I doing?"
Hannibal looked sheepish. "Pretty well actually. Frankly, it sounds dreadful."
Maggie looked down to cover a forming smile. "Before I interrupted you with your never-happened life, you were saying something about not respecting women. Was that going somewhere?" she asked. It was Hannibal's turn to look down. "I see," said Maggie resignedly, "I guess I'm in the 'don't respect' category."
Hannibal's head jerked up as he looked into her eyes. "What?" he asked. "How could you even think that?" He took a deep breath. "What I was going to say was that in general, I'm not desperately attracted to women." Maggie cocked her head, eyes squinted.
"No, not that," he said, seeming self-conscious. "What I mean is, to put it bluntly, I like sex, I need women for sex, I date women for sex."
Maggie rolled her eyes. "Yes, I saw that first hand," she said. "Miss Double D, remember?"
Hannibal sighed. "Obviously its good if I'm a bit attracted to them, but I don't honestly know if I've been desperately attracted to anyone since I entered the Army, maybe even before. I've always wondered if there was something a little wrong with me."
Maggie gave him a skeptical look, although not sure if she disbelieved his story, or the thought that he might be 'desperately attracted' to her.
He pressed on. "Look, I was impressed how you handled not only B.A.'s injury, but how you stood up to him as a patient." Hannibal smiled again. "He's a lousy patient."
Maggie gave him a wry grin. "No really? You know after surgery, I was going to set him up with Mary Poppins."
Hannibal laughed, then became dead serious again. "And then you stood up to me, which most people don't do. But the thing that scared the heck out of me was how I felt when you pulled the gun off me in your living room. I wanted to toss you on the table right then and have my way with you, Face and the Sheriff notwithstanding."
He smiled at her shocked look. "When I told you the last thing I wanted was to put you in the closet, I really meant alone. I wanted to stay there kissing you for hours. We had the military up our butt and all I could think of was yours. That scared me."
Maggie mulled it over. "So, you're telling me you didn't call or come see me because you were scared?" It sounded ridiculous that anything scared Hannibal Smith, but she could see a struggle inside him. She waited until he broke the silence.
"I thought of you every day after Bad Rock, ran that kiss over in my mind, how you felt in my arms. We're on a mission and instead of coming up with a plan, I envisioned being with you, holding you, kissing you."
Maggie envisioned it as he spoke while warmth formed in her stomach. His voice suddenly became halting. She realized why; he struggled to open up to anyone. Always in control.
"Not only that. I knew I could connect with you on another level. I wanted to hear your experiences in 'Nam and to tell you mine. Quite frankly, I don't even talk to the guys about 'Nam. I wanted to know everything about you. That is so different from any woman I've known."
He paused to look at her, perhaps trying to gauge her thoughts. "I knew if I went to see you, it would be all over. My focus would split, and that could have dire consequences for the Team." He stopped, as if weighing his next words. "To be blunt, Miss Double D was one in a long line of bimbos I had, trying to forget you existed. I'm sorry about that. It didn't work, and it obviously hurt you in the process. That's something I never wanted to do."
Maggie absorbed what she just heard. Her mind and heart both raced. This was what she wanted to hear. Well most of it – he could have deleted the part about the bimbos. But now what? Now you're vulnerable again, you idiot.
Sensing her thoughts, Hannibal touched her face and pulled her in to him hard, kissing her deeply. He spoke, his voice husky and raw. "I didn't know until just now how much I still wanted you," he said softly. "I want you Maggie Sullivan. I really want you. All of you." He began to nuzzle her neck. Her brain tried to stay on task, needing to understand his intentions beyond just having her now. Fear enveloped her. A one-night stand with someone she could love so easily would devastate her.
Hannibal must have sensed the war raging in her. He whispered "I want all of you. Your body, your mind, your soul. I want us to be together, not just today."
"What about the Team? Your focus?" she whispered harshly.
Her eyes were closed but she could almost feel his famous Hannibal Smith smile. "I'll just have to put my big boy pants on," he said as he kissed her again, melting her. Maybe Hannibal thought she wasn't ready, because his next move was unexpected. He put his jacket on the soft grass and lay on it, then pulled her onto him, her head resting on his chest. Maggie listened to his strong heartbeat and sighed deeply as he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her head. They stayed like that for a long time. In between the peace, thoughts flew through her head. Is this even real? If so, can it last?
As if to answer, Hannibal spoke softly, his voice filled with emotion, "I wasn't lying about wanting you. I mean for a long time. If you'll have me. It won't be easy. But I'm not going to run from this anymore."
Maggie waited to answer, carefully choosing her words. "You know, I've wanted this since I met you, so all I have to say is…I love it when a plan comes together." Hannibal smiled, squirmed out from under her and stood, then put his hand out to help her up. Her normally independent self would have refused, but as she looked at him, something made her take his hand. He put his arm around her and together they walked toward the house. As they got close, Maggie could hear B.A. yelling at Murdock as Face intervened. She was certain with Hannibal came the rest of the team; they never seemed far apart. That was okay. At least life wouldn't be boring. As they came up to the house, Hannibal pulled her closer as if claiming his property. Maggie sighed. Yes, she did love it when a plan came together, and it had. Hopefully forever, but at least for now.