'The Only Church In Town' is such a good episode and I wanted more, so I wrote more! I hope you all enjoy this. Please leave a review if you have time. Thank you kindly!
PUTTING THE PAST BEHIND US
"No! Don't say W, there's no W!" Face yelled at the TV screen, knowing of course that the Wheel of Fortune contestant couldn't hear him. "I don't know why Murdock likes this show so much," he muttered to himself.
He put down his half empty glass of wine and picked up the remote control to change the TV channel. He loved having a top of the range TV with a remote control. In fact, he loved everything about this luxurious mansion he'd scammed for himself. He was relieved to be back here after spending the last three weeks at sea, thanks to BA's refusal to fly back from Ecuador.
The journey home hadn't been as bad as it could have been. To BA's credit, he'd secured them three good sized cabins on a modern freighter and the team had spent the time relaxing and enjoying each other's company. The crew had made them and the other passengers very welcome and it had felt good to have some downtime without any possibility of Lynch turning up to spoil their fun.
Face had complained about having to share a cabin with Murdock, but the truth was he hadn't wanted to be alone. Being alone would have meant time to think and if he thought too much about Lesley – or Sister Theresa, he would never get used to calling her that – it made his head hurt.
It had been three weeks since he'd found out the truth about why she'd left him fifteen years ago. Although discovering that she'd decided to become a nun had been a shock, it actually made perfect sense and Face now believed he could finally start to move on after a decade and a half. He hadn't done anything to drive her away after all, she had answered a calling and she was happy.
But it still hurt like hell.
Face picked up the wine bottle and glanced at the label. It wasn't even a good vintage and he decided against another glass. He hated drinking alone, anyway.
He glanced at his watch. It was still far too early to go to bed. The silence would be unbearable anyway, especially after three weeks of listening to Murdock talking in his sleep. Face got up and wandered over to the well-stocked bookcase, running his finger along the titles to find something to read, but before he could select a suitable book there was a knock at the door.
Immediately, his military training kicked in and Face was on full alert. He held his breath as he darted across the room to retrieve the weapon he always kept loaded, just in case. No one knew he was living here apart from the rest of the team. It could be a trap, one of Lynch's men looking to confirm a sighting of one of the members of the elusive A-Team.
Or it could be a neighbour asking to borrow a cup of sugar…
But it could be Lynch.
Face clicked off the safety and tiptoed towards the door. His heart was pounding as he closed one eye and peered through the spyhole.
Then he let out a huge sigh of relief and flung open the door.
"Hannibal!" he exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
Face stood aside and Hannibal strode in, grinning at Face while keeping a tight grip on his cigar with his teeth. He held up a bottle filled with golden liquid which sparkled in the artificial light.
"Found this nice looking bourbon," he said. "And I've got half a box of Cuban's in my jacket. Figured you might wanna share 'em with me, kid."
Face smiled warmly and tossed his gun back over onto the table. "Sounds good," he acknowledged as Hannibal marched across the room towards the sprawling leather sofa.
Hannibal wasn't the type of guy to ask his Lieutenant – his friend – if he wanted to talk, but Face knew that was the real reason why he'd shown up unannounced. Hannibal was worried about him.
Face tried to shut the door, but it wouldn't close. Something was stopping it. Puzzled, Face peered round the door to see what was going on and almost jumped out of his skin when he came face to face with BA.
"Jeez!" he exclaimed.
BA growled at him. "That was my foot, sucka!" he exclaimed.
"Sorry, BA," replied Face, hoping BA was in a good mood and wasn't about to get his own back by causing him some pain. "I didn't know you were there."
BA sneered and held up a carton of milk. "I brought this," he said.
Face chuckled. Of course BA was never going to bring anything other than milk.
And of course he was here. BA was just as worried about him as Hannibal was.
Face was about to try closing the door again when he realised there was a very good chance there would be someone else there.
"Come in, Murdock," he said, without even bothering to look.
"Hey, muchacho!" replied Murdock, bounding in with an unnatural amount of energy for a man who had spent the last three weeks at sea. He flung his arms around Face, pulling him into brief, but very tight hug. Then he held up a paper bag. "I brought lollipops!"
Face chuckled and held the door open for a moment longer. He knew there would be one more person there.
"Hey, Amy," he said, surprising her with a quick, friendly kiss on the cheek as she walked in.
"I brought chocolates," she said, nodding towards the large, shiny box tucked under her arm.
"Bourbon, milk, lollipops and chocolates," said Face with a bemused expression. "It's a good thing none of us got seasick on that freighter!" Then he lowered his voice slightly to make sure the others didn't hear him. "I take it this was your idea?"
Amy shook her head. "Actually it was Hannibal's," she replied, looking as surprised as he did. "He didn't think you should be alone tonight."
Face smiled, silently acknowledging to himself how lucky he was to have friends who really cared about him. He finally closed the door and followed Amy over to where the others had made themselves at home. BA sat in one of the large chairs, while Hannibal had claimed the other. Murdock was sitting on the sofa, so Amy took her place next to him, leaving a space on her other side for Face.
Hannibal had already poured two glasses of bourbon and he handed one to Face who took it from him gratefully.
"Nice crystal," noted Hannibal.
Face shrugged. "What can I say?" he replied. "I only scam places to live from people with good taste in glass wear."
Hannibal chuckled and he and Face both took a swig of bourbon.
Face closed his eyes and allowed the brief burning sensation to fade and be replaced by a comforting warmth. He sat himself down next to Amy. "Thanks, Hannibal," he said.
Hannibal nodded, but said nothing.
BA poured two glasses of milk – one for himself and one for Murdock – and Amy poured herself a glass of the wine Face had been drinking earlier.
"Thanks for coming, you guys," said Face, with uncharacteristic humility in his voice. "And I really appreciate everything you did for Lesley in Ecuador. I know you all thought I was crazy to go racing off over two thousand miles on the strength of that cryptic note she sent, but I knew she was in real trouble and… and I really needed to see her."
Murdock reached across Amy and patted Face on the knee. "We know you did, Faceman," he said.
Hannibal took another swig from his glass. "I'm glad you got the answers you needed," he said.
Face nodded. "Yeah," he replied. "For fifteen years I wondered if maybe she'd run off with some jock whose biceps were bigger than my waist," he said. "No offence, BA," he added.
BA just shrugged and sipped his milk.
"And now you know the truth," noted Amy, as she selected a chocolate before offering the box to Face. "How do you feel about it all?"
Face took a chocolate and popped it into his mouth, chewing it slowly as he considered his answer. "Y'know, I think I'm OK," he replied. "At least I understand now why she did what she did and I know it's an old cliché, but I do feel like a weight's been lifted off my shoulders."
BA sneered. "She treated you bad, Face," he said. "She shoulda told you why she was leavin'. What she did – runnin' away – it was cruel."
Face shook his head. "No, BA," he said, with a rueful smile. "She had her reasons. She was always going to devote herself to the church, but then I guess I showed up and put a temporary wrinkle in her plans. We were never meant to be together."
There was a moment of silence while everyone allowed Face to gather his thoughts. Eventually it was Murdock who spoke.
"You know the line from that poem," he said, briefly removing a green lollipop from his mouth so he could speak. "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
"Whatchy'a talkin' about, fool?" snapped BA.
"It's Tennyson, BA!" exclaimed Murdock. "Come on, big guy - don't tell me you never read poetry?" Then he switched into a flawless upper-class British accent. "Poetry is a pure expression of everything it means to be human – emotion, passion, grief, love."
BA curled his upper lip and let out a low growl. "Shut up, crazy man!" he snarled.
Murdock responded by waving the paper bag he'd been clutching under BA's nose. "Lollipop?" he said, innocently.
BA snatched the bag out of his hand and threw it across the room, scattering the contents across the Persian rug.
"BA!" scolded Hannibal, taking the opportunity to help himself to one of Amy's chocolates.
But BA was unrepentant as Murdock scrabbled around on the floor, gathering up the lollipops. "My lollipops think you're a very rude man, BA," said Murdock, huffily.
Face chuckled and reached across to refill Hannibal's glass.
"Thanks, Face," acknowledged the Colonel. "You know, Murdock, I think there might be something in that poem you mentioned."
Face's eyes widened. He never imagined Hannibal would be a fan of the works of Alfred Lord Tennyson any more than BA would be.
Amy's finely honed reporter senses immediately kicked in. She could smell a story – not one for publication, but a personal one - and she wasn't about to let it go. "Why do you say that, Hannibal?"
Hannibal stared into his glass, swirling the content around slowly for a moment before he spoke again. "There was a girl once," he began. "Years ago, before I joined the army. We… we talked about marriage."
Face and Murdock exchanged a glance. This was the first either of them had heard about this. They'd had plenty of time for talking in the POW camps, but the subject of Hannibal's love life had never really come up.
"What happened?" Amy prompted as Murdock sat back down on the sofa and popped another lollipop into his mouth.
Hannibal downed another mouthful of bourbon. "She married someone else," he said. "And that was that, but… but it sure as hell stung for a while."
Amy felt a surge of sympathy for him. "I'm sorry, Hannibal," she said. It was very unusual for Hannibal to open up like this. She realised the drink may have had something to do with it, but it really wasn't like him to allow himself to appear so vulnerable.
Murdock pulled the lollipop from his mouth with a smack of his lips. "I asked a girl to marry me once," he said, to everyone's surprise. "Annie Carpenter. She was so beautiful. Green eyes, long dark hair. She was a little older than me. She said, no, of course."
"Oh, Murdock," said Amy, laying a sympathetic hand on his arm.
Murdock's dark eyes were suddenly filled with sadness. "Said she couldn't marry me 'coz she had to finish her homework."
"Homework?" exclaimed BA. "What was she, a kid?"
"Uh-huh" Murdock confirmed. "She was nine and I was just eight and a half. Broke my heart in two did Annie Carpenter."
Hannibal looked at him seriously. "I'm sorry to hear that, Captain."
Murdock pressed his lips together and Amy really couldn't tell if he was faking the emotion that flashed across his face, or not. "Thank you, Colonel," he said, quietly before pulling a yellow lollipop from the bag.
"Well," said Amy. "Seeing as we're all doing it, I may as well tell you about my broken heart too." She took a deep breath, never imagining she'd be telling this particular story to this particular group of friends. "I was in college, he was a journalism major like me. I thought we'd be together forever."
"Hmmm," said Face. "I can feel a 'but' coming on."
Amy nodded. "But," she said, flashing Face a quick smile. "But it turns out he was cheating on me. With two other girls!"
"That ain't right," noted BA. "Jerk didn't show you no respect. If I'd been there I woulda showed him some pain."
Amy smiled. "Thank you, BA," she said. "But I got my revenge in the end. The other two girls had no idea about me, or each other, so we kinda hatched a plan between us. Let's just say he didn't much like being tied naked to a flag pole while watching all his clothes burn in front of him!"
Hannibal laughed. "Nice, Amy," he said. "Very nice."
Amy blushed a little. "Yeah, well, it kinda made me focus on my career so I guess it wasn't so bad."
Face caught Hannibal's eye and realised they were both thinking the same thing. Amy was obviously trying to put on a brave face and there was a part of Face that wanted to get her to talk more about it, but he realised now wasn't the right time.
Instead he turned to look at BA. "That just leaves you," he said.
"Huh?" replied BA.
"We're all laying ourselves open here," Face prompted. "You must have a heartbreak story to share."
"Yeah, come on, big guy!" urged Murdock.
"I don't have no stories," BA insisted. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"None?" replied Face in surprise. "Surely you must've left a girl behind when you joined the army?"
"No," replied BA. "I'm still waitin' for the right girl."
Face grinned. "So what about the wrong girl?" he said.
BA shook his head. "It's private," he said, shyly.
"Not fair!" exclaimed Murdock, but Hannibal waved his hand to silence his Captain.
"Now, now, Murdock," he said. "If BA doesn't want to talk about it, then we should respect that."
BA felt his cheeks flush and he swallowed hard. There had been a girl back in his hometown, but her father hadn't approved and that had been the end of it. He thought about her sometimes - wondered where she was, what she was doing – he'd even considered asking his Momma if she knew what had become of her, but then he'd realised there was no point looking back. If there was a woman out there for him, he'd find her. He just had to be patient.
Face and Amy looked at each other and shrugged. Amy knew there was a story in there somewhere, but realised she may never get BA to talk about it so she decided to forget about it… for now.
Hannibal pulled out two cigars from his jacket and offered one to Face. "Y'know, kid," he said as Face accepted the cigar. "This evening ain't quite turning out how I planned it."
Face chuckled. "You mean you figured you'd come over here to help me get over my failed love life and instead you guys all wound up sharing the dismal details of your own?"
"Something like that," admitted Hannibal. He lit his cigar and tossed the lighter to Face, who plucked it out of the air with one hand.
"You know something, though," said Face. "It's sure made me feel better about things."
He lit his own cigar and drew on it slowly. He never used to smoke these things, but Hannibal had somehow managed to get him hooked. He knew they were bad for his health, but considering how dangerous their lives were he figured the occasional cigar was the least of his worries.
"Say, Faceman," began Murdock, folding his arms across his chest. "I want you to teach me how you do it."
"Do what?" asked Face, exchanging a puzzled glance with Amy.
"I really wanna girlfriend," Murdock explained. "You gotta show me how to get one."
"Murdock," Face replied. "I wish it was that easy. I don't have a girlfriend, remember?"
Amy looked at him with raised eyebrows. "Maybe that might change now you've made peace with the past?" she suggested.
"What?" exclaimed Face. He could feel himself breaking into a light sweat and he squirmed, drawing slowly on his cigar in a desperate attempt to ground himself.
Amy's eyes widened as she read his body language and realised just how much damage Lesley had done to him all those years ago. Lesley was the reason Face was so terrified of commitment - he didn't want to get hurt again. All that ego and self-confidence around women was just his way of protecting himself. Amy had to resist the sudden urge to grab his hand and tell him everything was going to be alright.
"Please, Face," begged Murdock. "You get with a different girl every day. I just want one! What's the secret?"
"Yeah, c'mon, Face," cajoled Hannibal. "I think we could all do with a masterclass, don't you?"
"No!" Face replied, indignantly. "You think I can just teach you my craft in a couple hours? It takes years of practice to be this good."
"And this modest," noted Amy.
Face shook his head. "Just pass me one of those chocolates," he said. "One with a soft centre."
Amy selected a chocolate from the box and handed it to him. "There you go," she said, with a sardonic pout. "Soft centre, just like you."
"Only you can make sarcasm so attractive," he said as he took the chocolate from her, being careful to maintain eye contact as he spoke.
Amy opened her mouth to respond, but she suddenly found herself unable to get any words out. Instead she let out an involuntary squeaking noise. She blinked deeply, but for some reason couldn't seem to break away from his gaze.
The corners of Face's mouth twitched into a smile. "You know, you're very pretty when you squeak," he said. He'd lowered the tone and volume of his voice, although the change was barely noticeable to anyone.
"Um… um…" stammered Amy. She'd formed a sentence in her head, but all that she could manage to get out was, "Thanks."
Face leaned over to grab another chocolate and Amy couldn't help but follow him with her eyes.
"This one's for you," he said and before she could stop herself, her lips parted and he popped the chocolate into her mouth.
"Thanks," she said again, as the caramel stuck to her teeth. She really wished that her brain and her mouth hadn't become quite so detached, but she couldn't seem to do a thing about it.
Face's tongue darted out and swept over his lower lip. Then he leaned slowly towards her, tilting his head slightly.
Amy could feel her heart pounding in her chest. Her breath hitched and her cheeks flushed red. She realised she'd lost all sense of reason, all of her self-control had disappeared and she was completely helpless.
Then suddenly Face sat back on the couch and broke into the smuggest grin Amy had ever seen.
"And that, my friends," he said Face, his grin growing wider with every word. "Is how it's done."
Hannibal and Murdock broke into spontaneous applause and Hannibal sported a grin almost as wide Face's.
Amy's mouth fell open as she realised what had just happened. "Did you just…?" she began, unable to finish her sentence.
Face nodded. "I certainly did," he confirmed.
"Wow," said Amy, as she regained her composure. "I really hate to say this, but… you're good!" She turned to Hannibal and Murdock. "He's very good!"
Hannibal chuckled. "I noticed," he said.
Then Amy punched Face on the arm. "Don't you ever do that to me again!"
Face shrugged nonchalantly. "I thought you wanted a masterclass?"
Amy shook her head in disbelief. She was completely shocked at how quickly she'd fallen under his spell and she couldn't explain how it had happened.
"Well, that was fun," noted Hannibal, still grinning and he got to his feet. "I think it's time for a toast," he added raising his glass in the air. "To putting the past behind us."
BA was the first to join Hannibal on his feet. "Yeah," he said, lifting his glass of milk and clinking it against Hannibal's.
Murdock, Amy and Face quickly joined them and the five of them stood in silence, sharing a moment of reflection.
"Y'know," began Face, eventually. "This place is kinda big for one person, why don't you guys all stay here tonight? It's getting late and…"
"Sleepover!" exclaimed Murdock with delight, interrupting Face's attempt to persuade everyone not to leave – not that they needed persuading.
"Are there silk sheets on all the beds?" asked Hannibal.
"Yep," confirmed Face.
"Nice," replied Hannibal. "Well I'm not gonna turn down a night in a place like this," he added. "What d'you say, BA?"
BA looked around at his surroundings and nodded approvingly. "Sure beats my cheap hotel room," he noted.
Face smiled broadly and draped one arm around Murdock's shoulders and the other around BA's. "Then I guess I have house guests," he said.
Face looked around at his friends. If he'd married Lesley Becktall all those years ago his life would have been very different, but he would never have met any of the people standing beside him today. These three men – and now even Amy – meant more to him than he could put into words and he suddenly realised how empty his life would be without them.
He swallowed hard to quell a wave of emotion that threatened to overwhelm him. Then without warning, Hannibal thrust another cigar into hands.
"Here, kid," said the Colonel. "It looks like you need this."
Face nodded. "Thanks, Hannibal," he replied. "And pour me another glass of that bourbon."