When the sun came up, they found their old trail easily enough and set off back towards the town, Face taking the lead and Murdock the rear.
“Could I get a weapon?” Farrell asked at one point. “If they catch up to us –”
“You’re not getting a gun.” Face glanced back at Farrell’s frown.
“What, you think I can’t be trusted with one?”
“We know you can’t be trusted with one,” Murdock said from behind.
The harsh tone in Murdock’s voice made Face sigh and bite his lip. Maybe he could say something to improve Murdock’s mood.
“Farrell,” he said. “You’re not going to start some kind of grudge against these people now are you? You’re still going to re-house them, compensate them?”
Farrell shrugged. “Yeah, sure.”
“Going to give them some nice glass beads, huh?” Murdock’s tone went beyond harsh to caustic now. “Couple of blankets?”
“Oh, cork it, Ghandi,” Farrell snapped.
God, I would never get tired of slapping this guy, Face thought. “Both of you cork it,” he ordered, irritated, just wanting peace and quiet, a hot shower and his bed at the Palace of Mold hotel.
They did shut up, to Face’s surprise, and the three of them walked the rest of the way in silence. Whenever Face glanced back, Farrell looked thoughtful and Murdock looked angry. Face just looked forward to getting off his aching feet.
“Christ almighty, he’s alive!”
Dick Nash came out of the bar as Face, Murdock and Farrell trooped out of the twilight into the hotel lobby. Farrell, looking as exhausted as the other two now, ignored his pilot and spoke to Face.
“Am I still checked in here?”
“If you are, you’re switching rooms,” Face said. “I want you close to ours for security.”
“Okay.” Farrell shrugged. He strode over to the reception desk and gave the brass counter bell a good whack. “Hey, how about some service here?”
“Nash,” Face said, turning to him, “we’ll likely be getting out of here first thing in the morning. I guess you can carry Farrell back in your chopper.”
“And haven’t I been looking forward to that trip. Okay, well, see you guys in the morning.” Nash left, climbed the stairs. Face saw Farrell ordering the receptionist about in a highhanded way, then turned to Murdock. “Did you arrange at the airfield for our chopper to be refuelled?”
“So we’re just going to fly off out of here, are we?” Murdock asked in a cold voice.
“We’re just going to leave a bunch of helpless people to be ground up in the corporate machinery?”
“What can we do for them, Murdock? Suggest something we can do for them.”
Murdock hesitated a moment. “We could… well I’ll bet Hannibal could think of something.”
Face stiffened and he took a step back from Murdock, because he felt the urge to take a step forward and then things could start to get ugly.
“They’re not as innocent and helpless as you make out, Murdock. They kidnapped Farrell, held him hostage, you can’t say that’s right.”
“No-one would listen to them!” Murdock’s voice rose, making Farrell look round at them. “They were desperate!” He took a breath and spoke more quietly. “They just want a voice, Face. That’s all. They just want a voice.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I’m going to get some rest. See you in the morning.”
After Murdock left, Face stood for a moment with his eyes closed. The weight of the pack on his back seemed to trying to drag him down into the earth.
“Peck?” Farrell’s voice brought him back to reality. He opened his eyes. Farrell’s tone had lost some of its hostility. He just sounded tired. “I’ve got a room opposite yours. I’ve told them to send food up to all of our rooms in half an hour.” He sighed and rubbed the heel of his hand on his forehead.
“Okay,” Face said. He waited a moment, giving Farrell a space, a gap in the conversation, thinking that about now might be a good time to for Farrell to say something on the lines of: ‘thanks for saving my ass’. But no such sentiment was forthcoming. “Okay,” Face said again, after the moment was over. “Get some rest. In the morning we’ll fly back to Manaus and get the jet home.” He smirked, a bitter taste in his mouth. “I’m sure Holly can’t wait to take care of you all the way home.”
Farrell’s jaw dropped and his eyebrows shot up and Face smirked.
“Ah, yeah, tomorrow morning. Okay.”
Farrell looked nervous. Perhaps he’s afraid of a mob scene at the airport back home, Face thought. It’ll be like the Beatles arriving at JFK.
“Tomorrow,” Farrell repeated, slowly, looking thoughtful. Then he pulled himself together and, with a curt nod, he hurried off upstairs.
Twenty minutes later Face, freshly showered, sat on his bed, waiting for the food to arrive. He’d heard Murdock’s shower running too, but no singing for a change. Either Murdock was too tired or too mad, or both. Murdock would be mad at him for a while, Face knew. He knew because of all the times he’d been mad at Hannibal for some choice Hannibal had made on a mission. Not that Murdock could hope to match Face at staying mad, or as the others called it ‘sulking.’
Murdock had every right to be angry, Face knew. The people in that village were exactly the kind of people the team had always helped. Powerless, voiceless. But Face had been right too when he’d pointed out that kidnapping didn’t count as an ethical negotiating tactic.
Face sat up straighter. Murdock’s words ran through his head over and over. They just want a voice. A voice. He smiled suddenly, swung his legs off the bed and reached for the phone.
“Reception? Put me through to the overseas operator.”
The call took a while to connect, even once Face managed to get an operator who spoke English. He had time to get up and let in room service with his dinner, then sit down on the bed again, before he finally heard the sound of the number at the other end ringing. He smiled again at the familiar voice that answered.
“Hi, Amy, it’s Face. Listen, how’d you fancy a little trip to Brazil?”
Face sat eating his badly cooked breakfast, sipping rather nasty coffee between bites. He felt, well not happy, but at least satisfied. He knew that Amy coming down here and doing a story wouldn’t be the end of the problems, but now Murdock couldn’t say he’d just walked away from the villagers.
And they had Farrell. Easy rescue, nobody got hurt. Couple of day’s time they’d take him home, get the deed, save the business, happy ending all around. Piece of cake.
And as soon as he thought those words, Face started to sweat the exact way he always did when Hannibal said them.
Dick Nash came in and nodded to Face as he took another table.
Farrell arrived a moment after that, with Murdock on his heels. They sat with Face, both looking better for a night’s sleep.
“Murdock,” Face said, “I’ve got a surprise for you. A certain reporter friend of ours is heading down here as we speak.”
“Amy?” Murdock looked delighted when Face nodded in confirmation. “Face! Great idea! She’ll do a great story. Could really make a difference.”
Farrell snorted. “Yeah right.” He poured himself a cup of coffee, looking unconcerned.
“So we’ll be hanging around a couple more days at least,” Face said, annoyed that Farrell didn’t appear more bothered by this revelation. “Sorry if that puts a crimp in your plans for the weekend, Farrell.”
Farrell didn’t look at him. He sipped coffee and pulled a face.
“Suits me. I’m not going back. God, this stuff tastes like engine oil.”
Face and Murdock looked at each other, and then back at Farrell.
“Er, what did you just say?” Face asked.
“The coffee, tastes like –”
“Not that!” Murdock snapped.
“I’m not going back just yet. Pass the cream would you?”
Neither of them moved so Farrell reached across Murdock’s plate and picked up the cream jug. After pouring cream into his coffee, he looked up at their stares.
“What do you mean, you’re not going back? We just rescued you.”
“Yeah, thanks, but I’m all rescued now and just fine. Nice job, see you around.”
Farrell reached for his coffee cup and Face’s hand clamped on his wrist. Farrell winced; his wrists were scraped raw where he’d been bound with rope. Face almost let go, but hardened his heart and spoke in his sternest tone.
“You are coming back with us. Do not try pulling any crap with me.”
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch, Peck. I’ll call my father and tell him I’m okay, tell him to give you the deed.”
“That is not the deal. The deal is we bring you back to LA safe and well. If we don’t do that then I know you bastards will find some way to screw us over. That’s not going to happen.”
Farrell pulled his arm away. “I said I’m not going. I’ve got things to do.” He stood up. Face did too, took a step towards Farrell. Nash, who had been reading a book, looked up now.
“Farrell,” Face said. “I mean it. We’ve come too far and there’s too much at stake. You come back with us or –”
“Or what?” Farrell’s eyes flashed, as his temper woke up. “You going to kidnap me, huh? Drag me back? Do you think I’m intimidated by a couple of washed up mercenaries? I can buy and sell your whole damn team, not just your business.”
He turned and strode out. Face made a move after him, but Murdock jumped up and grabbed Face’s arm.
“Murdock, if we don’t take him back –”
“I know, I know. But sit down, let’s think about this.” He glanced over at Nash who had gone back to his book, then leaned close to Face and spoke more quietly.
“Something is going on with Farrell. I don’t think he’s himself.”
“Seems very like himself to me.”
Murdock shook his head. “It’s a front, Face. It’s a shield. There’s something else, something’s eating him. I can sense it.”
“Far be it from me to doubt your psychic abilities, but I need something more concrete than that.”
“Why didn’t he escape by himself?”
Face didn’t answer. He’d been very carefully not asking himself that question, not wanting to jinx what seemed to be going so well.
“Face, that rescue was too easy,” Murdock went on. He picked up a teaspoon and started tapping it on the table. “Piece of… I mean, um easy as pie.”
“We do happen to be damn good, Murdock.”
“Yeah, and Farrell may be out of practice, but he’s damn good too. Highflying boy in the CIA till Stockwell recruited him and Collins. And we know how fussy Stockwell was.” He smiled, and then grimaced. “Farrell could have escaped from that village in five minutes.”
“Into the jungle? Without a guide?”
“He’s trained in survival. He’d have found his way back to town like that.” Murdock snapped his fingers.
Face sat back, drank some coffee, thinking it through and he remembered when he’d entered the hut, finding Kusi there with Farrell. Why would Farrell be having a cosy little chat with his kidnapper? Farrell had knocked him out though. Face leant forward again.
“Next you’ll be telling me he’s got Stockholm syndrome.”
Murdock raised his eyebrows. “Interesting thought.” He shrugged. “I guess being here in the South American jungle isn’t exactly easy for him to deal with.” He scowled. “His father must be a real insensitive bastard. ‘Hey, son, I’m sending you off to some place that’s going to bring back memories of seeing your best friend shot in the head, have fun!’ Charming.” He looked at Face a moment. “Sorry. Guess it’s not much easier for you.”
Face didn’t answer, just heard the gunshot echo around his head, felt the splash of warm blood. He shuddered.
“Although,” Murdock went on, “I don’t think it’s a question of ‘bringing back’ memories for Farrell.” He shook his head and drank some coffee. “Well, I’ve got something in mind. I’m going to have a little chat, see what I can get out of him about what’s really bothering him.”
“I’ll tell you what it is,” Face said, his tone harsh. “He’s got a pregnant wife and he’s scared of the responsibility. He thinks he can escape down here. Well he’s not going to.”
He pushed away his half-eaten breakfast violently enough that the plate bumped against Murdock’s. He rubbed his eyes, his night’s sleep suddenly felt like a long time ago and it was still only breakfast time.
“We’ll have to keep an eye on him, Murdock. I don’t want him pulling any funny stuff till we’re ready to go.”
“So we’re actually going to force him to go back with us? Even though he doesn’t want to go.”
Now Face felt really weary as Murdock had the accusing tone in his voice again.
“Yes, we damn well are!” He snapped, losing patience. He’d done what he could for the village, what more did Murdock want? “It’s a day out of his life. He flies with us to LAX, he gets off, his dad hands over the deed and after that, Farrell can go to Timbuktu for all I care. But whether he likes it or not he’s coming back to LA with us first.”
BA looked up to see Hannibal marching over to the firing range. The two clients BA was working with looked over too. One of them elbowed the other and as BA took off his ear defenders, he heard the man say, “That’s Smith.”
BA frowned at Hannibal. He was trying to work here, he didn’t appreciate interruptions. And he didn’t appreciate that this was the first time Hannibal had bothered to show up in two days. He still owed BA for the gas.
“Gimme a minute,” BA said to the clients. “Then we’ll work with the MP5.”
They nodded and BA walked away from them to meet Hannibal.
“Where you been man?” BA asked when Hannibal got close enough.
“I’m going down there,” Hannibal said. “I’m going after Face and Murdock. We’re going.”
BA folded his arms. “No we ain’t.”
“They’ve been down there too long, something’s up.”
“No it ain’t. Murdock called me. They’re fine.”
Hannibal frowned, chewing on his cigar.
“He called you?”
“He said he tried to call your place, but you didn’t answer. Guess you was out. Where’ve you been the last couple of days?”
“How did Murdock seem?”
BA scowled as Hannibal ignored his question again. He wouldn’t ask a third time.
“Fine. They’ve got Farrell okay.”
“So they’re coming home?”
“Not yet, said they’ve got some things to take care of.”
Hannibal looked ready to bite right through his cigar. He tapped his foot, arms folded.
“Something is wrong. Why not come right home?” He took the cigar out and threw it on the ground. “Right, I’m definitely going down there.” He turned away.
“You do it and Face ain’t never gonna forgive ya.”
Hannibal turned back to BA. “What?”
“You go riding to the rescue, when he’s not asked to be rescued then you’re telling him you don’t trust him to handle it.”
“I never said he couldn’t handle it.”
“That’s what you’d be saying if you go down there.”
Hannibal stood for a moment, looking down. Then he ran a hand through his hair and sighed.
“I’d be saying something else, wouldn’t I? I’d also be saying I don’t trust myself to have trained him properly.”
“Ah… yeah. Yeah. I was gonna get to that one too,” BA said, the merest suggestion of a twinkle in his eyes. Hannibal smiled at him, and then shook his head.
“I have to do something, BA. I can’t sit around and wait.”
“Do what Faceman wants you to do. Keep the business going. No sense in them saving the business down there if we throw it away up here.”
Hannibal looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded. He took out a fresh cigar and lit it.
“So, what have we got in today?”
BA jerked his thumb back at the two clients waiting behind him.
“Couple of fresh bodyguards. I just been giving ’em some pointers on automatic weapons. After lunch you wanna help me teach ’em how to drive out of an ambush?”
Hannibal looked over at the two severely battered looking sedans, and the dented barrels and cones set up on the driving course. He grinned.
“Now that sounds like fun.”
Murdock watched as the helicopter came in to land beside theirs and Nash’s. The tiny airfield had probably never seen this much action. He hung onto his hat as the blades slowed to a stop and cast long shadows in the evening sunlight, reaching towards Murdock like dark green fingers on the grass. He ran to the helicopter as the door opened and Amy Allen climbed out.
“Amy!” He grabbed her into a hug. “You look great.”
“You too, Murdock,” she said, stepping back after a moment. “Oh wow, I think it’s nearly two years since we got together. Where does the time go?”
“Lemme get your bag.” Murdock heaved a heavy flight bag from the helicopter while Amy pulled out a smaller backpack. “You alone?” He asked, a little surprised not to see a camera crew with her.
“I’ve got a camera and sound man following as soon as there’s someone available,” she said, “the helicopter is going back for them, they’ll be here in a couple of days.”
“But you couldn’t wait to get down here and party with me and the Faceman.” Murdock grinned at her. “C’mon let’s get you to the hotel and we’ll fill you in on all the details.” He glanced down at her feet to see she wore hiking boots. “I see you remember everything we taught you about sensible shoes.” He wondered what Tawnia would have turned up wearing.
They walked away from the helicopter while the pilot spoke to an airfield employee. Or rather, Murdock thought, the airfield’s only employee.
“Face didn’t give me too many details, Murdock, just a quick run down of the situation.”
Murdock nodded. “Yeah, well you know Face, international call rates and all. And the mark-up on hotel phones…”
“So?” Amy prompted. “You going to fill me in?”
Murdock shrugged and hitched the heavy bag higher on his shoulder.
“At dinner,” he said, making her sigh impatiently. “Which is in twenty minutes time. So c’mon, Amy, you’re back with the team now, keep up, soldier, gotta reach base camp before dark.” He strode ahead smiling as she hurried to keep up.
Amy got the full story in the hotel’s tiny restaurant, where she ate with Face and Murdock, while Farrell and Nash each sat at a table alone. Nash read as usual, Farrell just gazed off into space. Face had been keeping an eye on Farrell all day, waiting for any sign of ‘funny business.’ So far nothing.
After their dessert plates were cleared and they sat with only wine and few breadsticks left on the table, Amy glanced over at Farrell.
“So, do you think I can get an interview from him before we head out to the village tomorrow morning? Or is he too hostile?”
“He doesn’t seem to care that you’re here, to be honest,” Face said. “Doesn’t view you as a threat.” He shrugged. “Maybe he’ll give you an interview, maybe he won’t.”
“I’ll persuade him,” Murdock said. He glanced over at Farrell. “I’ve got certain plans tonight. I’m going to get behind those defensive shields of jerkitude and see what the heck is going on.”
“Murdock, being crazy doesn’t qualify you to conduct analysis,” Face said. He poured more wine for them all. “Leave him alone. You’ll just give him some other reason to get at us.”
Murdock sipped his topped up wine, shook his head. “Nope, nope. It’ll work, you’ll see.”
Face sighed and turned away from Murdock. “So how are you, Amy?” He asked. “Tell us all about how things are going with Amy Allen.”
“I watch out for you on TV all the time,” Murdock said. “You should be on more often though.”
“Murdock,” Face said, “I’ve told you, CNN. C N N. Not the Cartoon Network. How many times?”
Amy laughed, making Face smile.
“I’m doing fine. Work’s great.”
“Anything else to report?” Face went on. “Anybody special in your life right now?”
“Face!” She slapped his arm playfully. “Only my great aunt Mae gets to ask that at family parties.”
“Ah.” Face winked at Murdock, who was now using breadsticks as drumsticks and playing a drum solo on the edge of the table. “Mae huh? So is she single?”
“She’s been a widow since 1956.”
“So… about ready to start dating again then?”
Amy giggled this time. “She’s ninety three!”
Face put a thoughtful look on for a moment, then spoke. “Rich?”
“Face!” Amy protested laughing aloud at the same time. “Will you knock it off?” She smiled, studying him for a moment. “Actually, she’d probably absolutely love you. Maybe I’ll give her your number.”
Face smiled at her, winked and drank some of his wine. Something touched him on the arm and he turned to see Murdock poking him with a breadstick.
“Hi,” Murdock said when Face looked at him. “This is a message from the other people at the table. We staying here or we gonna move into the bar?”
“Oh,” Face said, “Yeah, the bar I guess,” he looked at Amy. “You’re going to love the bar, Amy. It’s like a hot box with a liquor licence.”
“Good,” Murdock said, “Because that’s the best place for me to base my operation.”
“Operation: ‘Get Chuck smashed off his face’.” Murdock said, glancing over at Farrell. “Boy ain’t gonna know what hit him.”
“That’s your plan?” Face said, incredulous. “Get him drunk?”
“In vino veritas, Face.” He grinned. “What did you think I was going to do, hypnotise him?”
Face rolled his eyes. “Fine Murdock, just make sure you charge the bar bill to your room.”
“I will not!” Murdock protested, looking annoyed. Then he grinned. “I’ll charge it to his.”
Murdock stood up, picked up the wine bottle, which looked like it had about a glass worth left in it, and walked over to Farrell’s table. Face watched Farrell look up at Murdock puzzled as Murdock poured the wine into Farrell’s empty glass.
“Buy ya a drink, Chuck?”
Face turned back to Amy, shaking his head.
“Let’s get out of here.”
Murdock’s plan didn’t go exactly as he’d hoped. Farrell agreed to come along to the bar and have a drink with Murdock. However, Murdock hadn’t expected Nash would latch on to them too. Now the three of them sat at a corner table, with several empty beer bottles and glasses on the table in front of them. Face and Amy sat in another corner, talking and casting glances Murdock’s way now and again, Amy’s curious, Face’s rather disapproving. Murdock didn’t mind. He was drinking a lot more slowly than Farrell and had his wits if not actually about him, at least in the immediate vicinity.
Murdock turned his attention back to his group. Nash was currently spouting a lot of rubbish about the Bell 206 and Murdock would have dearly loved to debate him at length, but he had no time for that, Farrell’s eyes had already glazing over and closing. His head nodded.
“Hey, Chuck.” Murdock elbowed him. “You’re not going to sleep are you?”
“Stop calling me Chuck!” Farrell snapped, waking up. “Half-wit.” He muttered.
Farrell just gave him a glare.
This time Farrell’s eyes flashed as he turned on Murdock.
The force behind that silenced Murdock.
“That’s a raw nerve,” Nash remarked. Farrell turned and Murdock couldn’t see the expression on his face, but it made Nash look nervous and say, “Why don’t I go get us some more drinks.” He got up and hurried off to the bar.
Murdock took a breath and decided it was about time to move his plan on to the next stage.
“Is Charlie what Dan called you?”
Farrell turned back to him and gave him a look that told Murdock not to go there. But Murdock had been scarier places. He strapped himself in and continued.
“Can’t be easy for you being back here in South America, back in the jungle.”
Farrell didn’t answer. He rubbed a hand across his bleary eyes.
“I’d have thought your father would have thought of that before he sent you down here.”
Farrell snorted. “Screw my father.”
Nash came back to the table with six more beer bottles, a bottle of Jim Beam and three shot glasses. He started to pour the beer.
“Your father is worried about you, Charles,” Murdock said
“You want to know about my father, Murdock?” Farrell paused a moment while Nash poured the whisky into the shot glasses. He picked the first one up and dropped it in his beer glass. The beer foamed madly. Farrell picked up the glass and drank the whole thing off in one. Murdock and Nash exchanged a look. Farrell slapped the empty beer glass down on the table making the shot glass rattle inside it.
“You want to know what kind of man my father is? Came to visit me couple of weeks after I started at Yale, and he said he was going to complain to the Dean. Know why? Because I’d been given a black roommate.” Farrell glanced over at Nash, who had a frown on his face. “Of course he didn’t say ‘black’.”
Murdock stored that one away and gave Farrell a moment to refill his beer glass. His hand weaved a bit and Nash reached to steady it, keeping the table from getting most of the beer.
“So you and Dan were actually roommates?” Murdock said.
“Yeah,” Farrell said, his words starting to slur. “And it’s like… like we knew each other already. Had all the same ideas. Both knew we wanted to go into intelligence work. From day one, we just knew we’d join the company together.”
“You were in the CIA?” Nash said.
“Yeah. We should have stayed there.” Murdock saw him flash a look across at Face. Face and Amy weren’t looking over here any more, they were deep in conversation.
“I can just imagine you two,” Murdock said. He sipped his beer and grinned. “Sitting in the dorm, watching re-runs of the Man From UNCLE.”
Farrell instantly gave a snort of disgust. “UNCLE! UNCLE was for girls!”
Murdock frowned and then enlightenment hit him.
“Ah. You’re an I Spy man.” He smiled. “You’re Kelly Robinson.”
Farrell’s voice shook rather than slurred this time, Murdock noticed.
“I can’t even watch it any more.” He picked up his beer and drank, though Murdock thought he looked like he had some trouble choking it down.
“Right,” Nash said, looking at his watch and standing up. “I’m done.” Murdock glanced at the clock to see it was after eleven. He would have loved to turn in too, but he had to see this through.
“Don’t forget your whisky,” Murdock said, nodding at the barely touched bottle.
Nash shrugged. “Keep it. I’ve added it to his bill.” He walked off, weaving just a little bit.
Murdock turned back to Farrell.
“So, what’s this all really about, Charles? It’s not just about your dad, is it?”
“I don’t want to go back, Murdock, that’s all. Just leave it.”
“What about the baby?” Murdock challenged him. “In a few months you’ll be a father yourself.”
“The baby will be fine.” His voice sounded choked again.
“For money, yes,” Murdock said, “but a kid needs a father.”
“Yeah.” Farrell sneered. “Because fathers, they’re so great, aren’t they?”
Murdock shook his head. Damn, he kept being headed off. He poured himself a shot of whisky and looked up to see Farrell looking at him searchingly.
“Murdock, you must have seen some horrible shit in Vietnam, right?”
Murdock shifted in his seat. This isn’t supposed to be about me, he thought. He tossed back the shot.
“Yeah,” he said finally. “I saw some horrible shit.”
“How do you stop seeing it? How do you stop yourself from seeing it every time you close your eyes to sleep? How do you block it out?”
Murdock took a shaky breath. “Charles, I’m better at telling you how not to block it out. Like this stuff.” He waved a hand at the liquor. “That’s not a good way. Meaningless sex, that’s another bad way.” Farrell looked down, something in his eyes, embarrassment, shame perhaps. “Going crazy, that’s a really, really bad way.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Look, what you’ve got to do, to make those images, well not go away, because they never do, but you’ve got to put something else in there. Something that you think of instead. Dream of instead. Like… Like the face of someone you love.”
Farrell didn’t answer, didn’t look up.
“See that’s where you’ve got an advantage, you don’t need to go looking for that. Just go home and wait a few months and a little face that you’ll love forever will show up.”
Farrell shook his head.
“I can’t.” He whispered. “That won’t work. I can’t feel that any more. I don’t feel anything. Except hate maybe”
Murdock felt hate too for a moment. Hated himself for even starting this.
“Who do you hate, Charles?”
Farrell looked up at him, didn’t answer at once, so Murdock went on.
“Yeah,” Farrell said, quickly. “I still blame –”
“Bull!” Murdock snapped, making Farrell stare at him. “You say that, because you think it gives you a purpose in life, to get revenge on us. But you know what? I don’t believe it. Because if you really blamed Face and the rest of us, really believed we were responsible, you wouldn’t screw around with eviction notices and other legalistic crap. You’d have us killed.”
Farrell really stared now, and Murdock went on hastily, not wanting him to linger over that thought too long, lest it gave him ideas.
“Instead,” Murdock said, “you gave money and help to Frankie to rescue us.”
Farrell scowled. “Santana blackmailed me.”
“Oh yeah, sure, Farrell, I really believe you were scared of Frankie.”
Farrell didn’t answer. He glowered at the bottles on the table and reached for the whisky bottle. Murdock let him take a couple of slugs from it then took it off him.
“Come on now, that’s not the way they taught you to drink at the country club. And remember what I said about that one being one of the bad ways to block stuff out.”
“Works for tonight,” Farrell muttered, sliding down in the seat, his eyes barely open now.
Murdock sighed. Time to end this. He got up and went across to Face and Amy, who were talking quietly, heads close. Murdock felt bad for interrupting them for a moment, but Face seemed relieved.
“Hey. I’m gonna go put Farrell to bed.” Murdock glanced at their table. Nowhere near as many empties as the one he’d just left. He gave a goofy smile. “I’m a tiny bit sloshed myself, and you know how I sleep when I’m like that.”
“Do I?” Face rolled his eyes.
“Okay, well I’ll probably not hear if Farrell starts moving about, so you’d better listen out for him, case of any, you know, like we said, fuzzy business.”
“You mean funny business?”
Murdock frowned. “What did I say?”
“Never mind. You go put him to bed. I’ll keep a weather eye open.”
“Thanks, Face.” Murdock went back over to Farrell. “C’mon, Duke, time for bed.” He hauled the younger man up. “Night, Face. Night, Amy.” Murdock helped the stumbling Farrell from the room.
Face and Amy watched them go and turned back to each other again. They were sitting side by side on an upholstered bench seat. Amy was wedged into a corner.
“What did Murdock mean, the way he sleeps while he’s drunk?” Amy asked.
Face laughed. “He means an earthquake wouldn’t wake him. One time, way back in ’79, I think, we were camping out and we had a few too many beers. Well Hannibal, Murdock, and me anyway. Murdock went to sleep and BA was walking around and tripped over and fell right on top of him and Murdock didn’t wake up!” He laughed again, Amy did too. “Had a bruise on his side the next day the exact pattern of one of BA’s gold – um – thingies. He wouldn’t believe us about how he got it.”
They both laughed again.
When Amy stopped laughing, she said, “So, what were we talking about?”
Face sighed. She knew damn well what they were talking about before Murdock came over. He suspected the reporter in her wasn’t going to let him avoid it, no matter how much misdirection he tossed in.
“Oh, yeah, all these rumours,” Amy said, “About where you guys vanished to last year. You were in Venice, I even got a postcard. Then you disappeared for two months and come back from Qumar. So what happened in between?” She looked at Face searchingly and he avoided her eyes. “Look Face, I’m not after a story here, I just want to know that you guys are okay.” She rested a hand on his arm.
“We’re okay,” Face said. Mostly, he didn’t add. “Look, it’s not something we really want to talk about, any of us. It was bad, but we’re okay now.” Mostly.
Amy sighed, and shrugged. “Okay, Face. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to push.”
“Anyway,” Face said, “You’ve got this story to work on.” He smiled at her, but she didn’t smile back. “What?”
She looked slightly uncomfortable. “Face, it’s not that big a story, you know. That’s why my boss wouldn’t give me a camera crew right away. They’re all busy on more important stories. Farrell being here, that makes it a bit bigger, putting a face to the whole faceless corporate villain. The A-Team being involved gives an extra bit of interest. But really this isn’t something the viewers won’t have seen before.”
“Are you saying it won’t change anything?”
She shook her head. “It probably won’t no. People will feel sorry for the village and they’ll feel bad about the forest being cut down, but then they’ll watch the sports news and forget about it.”
Face sat forward, rested his elbows on the table. His shoulders slumped.
“Then why bother? Why waste your time doing the story?”
Amy sat forward too. She rested her arm on Face’s back, her hand on his shoulder.
“Because I could be wrong. But mainly, well because it’s you. You and Murdock that is. Because you care about it.”
Face sighed and put his head in his hands, ran his fingers through his hair. Her hand on his shoulder felt good as she squeezed a little, reassuring him of her presence. He turned to look at her as she leaned close. She looked good, he thought, wearing her hair shoulder length just now. He liked the style on her. He wondered if she coloured it. She was thirty-seven now, he recalled. Though he’d always remember her as the twenty five year old who’d joined up with them for a couple of years. A mix of naiveté and insider information.
Reporters, he thought. An odd breed, full of fun facts and figures. Stuff they never dared print, but all knew about. When the team had re-emerged into the public eye, when they got their pardons and Stockwell went down, the newspapers articles had seemed to Face to be full of an air of “we knew all along they were alive.”
He smiled at Amy and she smiled back. A more confident smile than the twenty five year old had ever given him. She’d been pretty then, and still was. Of course, he’d only been allowed to think about that for the space of about five seconds before Hannibal slapped the big “off-limits” sign on her. He wondered if she’d ever thought about him in the same way.
Face sat up quickly, with a deep breath and a sharp shake of his head. Time to stop thinking that way. Dangerous path.
“I think we’d better go to bed,” he said, and Amy giggled.
“Why, Face, I thought you’d never ask.”
Face felt himself actually blush. He should have come straight back with a witty remark, but instead he turned to look at Amy, at her gentle smile, and bright eyes. I’m drunk, he thought. Not very drunk, but drunk enough for something dumb to happen. I won’t let that happen.
He stood up and Amy rose too. Face offered her his arm, common politeness, no more, he thought. Amy took it and also snagged a two-thirds full bottle of white wine from the table. They walked out of the bar arm in arm.
The hotel did have an elevator, but it had a yellowing ‘out of order’ sign on it, that Face suspected had been there since the sixties. So the two of them weaved up the stairs, and Amy giggled as she grabbed harder onto Face’s arm to keep from stumbling.
“What is it with you guys?” She asked as they reached a landing and walked along a corridor. “I come here to work and here you are getting me drunk.”
“S’all Murdock’s fault,” Face protested
“Um…” Face hesitated. “I don’t know. Hey, nobody ever questions BA when he says something is all Murdock’s fault!”
“Shh!” Amy hissed at him as his voice rose.
Face put a finger to his lips in a shush gesture in return. Damn, he thought. I wasn’t this drunk sitting down. As soon as I start walking around, bam! Straight to my head. I’m going to do something stupid, I know it. Am I going for some kind of record?
Amy stopped and Face almost fell over, as he was a bit slow to stop too.
“This is my room,” she said.
“Ah good. Mine’s on the next floor. Um… I think.”
Face didn’t move. Neither did Amy.
“So, you’ll be going to your room then?” Amy said.
Face leaned one hand on the wall and started to do something stupid.
“So, Amy, did you ever think about me? You know, back in the day. Ever think about us? What it would be like?”
“Us, as in…? Well, Face…” She gave a shy smile. “After all I’m only human.”
“I thought about Murdock too,” she said. Face stared and Amy laughed, eyes dancing. “What about you?”
“Murdock’s not my type.”
Amy giggled. “Face!” She looked at the bottle of wine in her hand and glanced at the door of her room.
“Want to help me finish this?”
Hannibal’s voice in Face’s head started repeating ‘say no, say no, say no.’