The Wrong Side

Face and Murdock head into the jungle to rescue someone who doesn’t want to be rescued and end up facing a difficult choice.
Rated: PG13
Words: 39,000

Part 1

August 1995

Face parked his car beside the office and took a deep breath of the fresh morning air as he stepped out. A whiff of coffee wafted from the open door of the office and he guessed that meant Hannibal had already arrived. Face could go straight in there, put his feet up, drink coffee and chat to Hannibal. But he hadn’t arrived dressed in his tracksuit to do that.

He jogged over to the assault course and started warming up with a few stretches. After a while, he noticed Hannibal watching him from the window of the office. Face waved to him, took out and set his stopwatch and grabbed the first rope.

He felt good that morning, almost flew over the course. Being off his feet felt best, swinging on ropes, crawling through tunnels or going hand over hand. Even his least favourite, the twelve-foot climbing wall, came easily.

He landed at the finish, sweating and panting and hit the button on top of the stopwatch as he stumbled to a halt at the end of the zip line. Then he looked at the watch and grinned.

Twenty minutes later, freshly showered, he strolled into the office with a pleased look on his face.

“Morning, Hannibal.”

Hannibal sat behind a desk with his feet up on it, reading a newspaper. He nodded to Face.


Face walked to a whiteboard on the wall and picked up the eraser. Carefully he wiped off the numbers 15:47 beside the letters TP and replaced them with 15:36.

“New personal best, huh?” Hannibal said.

Face nodded, trying not to look too smug. He poured a cup of coffee.

“Yep. Less and less chance of any of you catching me now.” He grinned, but then frowned at the entry at the top of the list.

KJ 12:56.

Hannibal saw him scowling at that and chuckled.

“You’re not beating Kahil’s time, Face. Not unless you can somehow become fifteen years younger.”

Face frowned again. Now whose bright idea had it been to invite younger and fitter friends to help them test out the course? Oh yeah, right. His.

He sighed and sat down at his desk. A stack of mail awaited him. Face glanced at Hannibal.

“You know, if you’re going to come in early you could at least do something useful.”

“I made the coffee didn’t I?” Hannibal opened the paper to the sports pages.

Face picked up the stack of mail, started sorting through it.

“Bill. Bill. Bill. Oh, hang on… a booking. Allied Bank wants to send twenty execs on a teambuilding weekend.”

Hannibal folded down his paper and frowned at Face.

“I’m still not sure about all that corporate stuff. I mean, paintball? Come on, Face.”

“Hannibal, it’s the bread and butter. Corporations love sending their guys on teambuilding exercises and they’ll pay silly prices, especially when it’s Colonel Hannibal Smith’s infamous A-Team training them.”

Hannibal ignored Face’s flattery attempts. “We’re doing okay with the bodyguard and security training.”

Face shook his head. “That’s not going to bring in enough money for us to upgrade the accommodation and catering.”

Hannibal frowned. “Face, you said we have to upgrade those to attract the corporate crowd, and now you’re saying we have to attract the corporate crowd so we can upgrade those?”

“It’s… complicated, Hannibal. You just leave that stuff to me. You know I’m the financial expert around here.”

Hannibal snorted and unfolded the paper again, hiding his face behind it. Face sighed and turned back to opening the mail.

Hannibal just didn’t appreciate the subtleties of the business world. Still, Face had to give him credit for the idea for this place.

Seven months ago, in the hills, north west of LA, the team had opened a training facility. Shooting range, driving circuit, two assault courses – the short one Face had done that morning, the other, longer, tougher, going in a circuit around the edges of their land, a gym and dojo for unarmed combat training. Even an area for explosives training, though not just anyone got to book on that.

Some of their customers were bodyguards and security guards. Not security guards like those found at a mall, but men who provided security to business people who had to travel to dangerous places abroad.

The team tried to filter out any obvious mercenaries or anyone just plain nuts, but Face feared a few dodgy characters slipped though. So he’d become keen to build a more respectable client base and had introduced the corporate teambuilding courses.

Hannibal had agreed to the courses, but he didn’t like it. His face became a picture of frozen control when he had to get some accountant or marketing exec to haul his ass over the climbing wall. Face had heard him muttering under his breath about “tourists in safety harnesses.”

Not that Hannibal wanted to train nuts and mercs, but being part of the “leisure industry” hadn’t been part of his plan. Face considered it unavoidable. The facility had done okay in its first six months, and had already established a reputation among the more serious clientele. But there just weren’t enough of those people to pay the bills. They needed a steady reliable income for this business to have a real future.

And not just the business, but also the team. They had to find something. After Albania, they had all faced up to the inevitable, that the old days had gone. But they needed something where they could still be a team. They all said they didn’t want to lose that. Face went further, in his own mind at least. Further from “didn’t want to lose” to “couldn’t lose”.

They both glanced up at the sound of a car door slamming. In a moment, BA came in, carrying a box of donuts. He dumped them beside the coffee maker.

“Morning, guys. I been thinking.” He grabbed a quart of milk from the fridge and poured a glass. “We should do some kind of free course for my kids at the youth centre. For the teens, I mean. Get them outta the city for a couple of days, give ’em some fresh air and teach ’em some discipline.”

“Kids?” Hannibal said, going to the coffee machine to start a fresh pot. He sighed, shook his head and took a donut from the box.

“Free?” Face said. BA glared at him. “Ah, yeah, sounds good, BA,” Face said, smiling. “We’ll think about that. Hmm, free courses for deprived kids, charitable, tax deductible. I could work it.”

BA sat at his desk and started eating donuts. Face went on opening mail.

“Fool coming in today?”

“Yeah, be here lunchtime he said. He’s got –” Face gasped as he read the letter he’d just opened.

BA glanced up at him, Hannibal turned from the coffee machine.

“Face, what’s wrong?” Hannibal asked. “What’s that?” He nodded at the letter.

Face held it up.

“An eviction notice.”


Murdock, sitting by the coffee shop window, saw Face weaving through the throng of office workers pouring out of the buildings on their way home. Murdock waved and Face spotted him, waved back and came into the shop. He flopped into the armchair opposite Murdock.

“You been waiting long?”

Murdock waved at the three big coffee mugs on the table.


“‘s okay, I’ve got a book and the barista is cute. What did you find out?”

“Well for one thing that I may need reading glasses.” Face rubbed his eyes. “God my head is pounding.”

“Should have let me come with you to do some of the research.”

“You’re still banned from the hall of records, and I’m not smuggling you in. Go get me a coffee.”

Murdock shrugged and went to the counter. Those people at the hall of records had no sense of humour. Three month ban indeed. He ordered a cappuccino for Face and perused the menu board for a while, before ordering a skinny decaf caramel macchiato for himself. One day he’d work his way through that whole menu and try every different variation and combination they could make.

As he waited for the drinks, he recalled bringing Hannibal here and buying him a white hot chocolate with whipped cream. Hannibal had looked at Murdock bemused, asked if this was a drink or a dessert, then demanded a spoon.

Murdock smiled at the cute, and much too young for him, barista as she placed the drinks on the bar. She smiled back at him and he wondered if he should leave his number when he left. He rejoined Face, who’d retrieved a folder of documents from his briefcase.

“Come on then, spill it. Who’s trying to evict us?”

“Well it wasn’t easy trying to find out who really owns the land. The owner on record is the land management company we deal with. But that’s owned by a holding company and that’s owned by another –”

“Etcetera, etcetera,” Murdock said. “But you peeled that onion didn’t ya, Face?”

“Yes, and guess what’s in the middle of it.” Face held up a photocopied document. Murdock read the letterhead.

“Winthrop, Webster and Farrell Corp.” He looked at Face. “Our Farrell, right? Charles?”

“Well, his family, yes. Murdock, the guy is a nut. He bought up the land management company, via a chain of other companies, three months after we moved in.”

“He bought a whole bunch of companies just so he could throw us off one little bitty piece of land? Wow.” Murdock grinned. “I think I’m flattered.”

Face scowled, apparently not flattered. “I told you, Farrell’s a nut, he’s obsessed with making life difficult for us. For me.”

Murdock shrugged, thinking Face took too much of the blame onto himself. Yeah, he’d been the one in command in the field when Farrell’s fellow agent and best friend, Dan Collins, had been killed in action. But Hannibal had been in charge of the whole organisation. Murdock felt sure Farrell blamed Hannibal just as much. He sighed. Not their finest hour.

“What’s got into him, do you think?” Murdock asked. “I mean he’s always held a grudge, we know that. But it’s like he’s suddenly got a real bee in his bonnet about it.”

“I don’t know. I guess he just can’t forget it.” Face winced. He hadn’t forgotten it either, Murdock knew. He’d been standing close enough to be hit by blood and brain matter. Murdock hadn’t been that close, and he’d shut his eyes when it happened. But he’d never lose the memory of the shot. Or of Farrell shrieking “Dan!” Over and over and over.

Face sighed and sat back in his armchair, rubbing his eyes again. Murdock looked at him concerned.

“You look tired. You sleeping okay?”

“Never mind that, what are we going to do about this?” Face took a big gulp of coffee. Murdock sipped the foam and caramel syrup topping his drink.

“Didn’t Farrell just get married about six months ago?” Murdock said. “You’d think he’d have better things to do than scheme against us.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively, but Face remained gloomy. “Remind me again why we decided to lease the land instead of buying it. I mean, well yeah, we’d have a mortgage someone could foreclose on. But I don’t think even Farrell could buy an actual bank just to get at us.”

“Murdock,” Face said. “We went over all this, I explained it in detail.”

“Um, let’s pretend I wasn’t paying attention.” Murdock grinned sheepishly and fiddled with a spoon.

“I was talking about your money and you weren’t paying attention? We took a vote.”

“Hey, I trust you, Face, you’re our money guy.”

“Yeah.” Face grimaced. “I thought I was. Listen, we decided to take a periodic lease, so we could use our capital to build the actual facilities. The rent is small. The land isn’t appreciating in value, so we wouldn’t make any capital gain by owning it. And if the business didn’t take off we’d have trouble reselling it.”

Murdock nodded. True, the land wasn’t anything special, scrubby and barren and inaccessible. Perfect for them, but nobody would want to build condos there.

“And rent is expenses,” Face went on, hitting his stride, “so for tax purposes can be set off against…”

Murdock started to feel glad he’d drunk so much coffee. His mind and his eyes wandered to the barista again. Her name badge read ‘Ilsa’. If he left his number, she’d laugh at him as an old fool. He’d given out his number a few times the last couple of months. And always to women who were too young, or otherwise out of his league. To the ones he knew wouldn’t actually call, wouldn’t actually want anything from him. Seeing the track his thoughts had started heading down he quickly suppressed them and turned back towards Face. He tapped a spoon against the side of his cup to bring the lecture to a halt.

“Right, that all sounds good to me, Face. You sure you’ve not been taking financial advice from Dash Goldman again?”


“Kidding.” Murdock said, raising his hands as Face scowled at him. “Well I guess we get our lawyer working on it. Either that or…”


“Well, we’re a little business being crushed by a big corporation and there’s no-one else who can help. Maybe we need to hire the A-Team.” He grinned. Face rolled his eyes.

“I’ve hired the A-Team before. And I really don’t think I got good value for money then.”

“Yeah, but Face, I really don’t think you paid us then.” He smiled, feeling nostalgic. “If only it could be like the good old days. Bust in toting automatic weapons and punch out a few security guards.” He sighed. “Happy times.”

“Well we can’t do that any more.”

“We should sic Frankie on Farrell again,” Murdock said. “He blackmailed a plane and a stack of money out of him last time.”

“Yeah, Frankie learnt the art of persuasion from the best.” Face scowled and stirred his coffee. He went quiet, a thoughtful look in his eyes as he stared into the depths of the cup.

“Face,” Murdock said. “I was just joking about Frankie, you know. Blackmail’s not gonna work twice. And, hell, Frankie’s effects company has had a few setbacks these last few months, which could be a coincidence, but… Look, just promise me you’re not thinking of doing anything dumb.”

Face looked up at Murdock, his face a picture of total innocence.

“Dumb? Me?”


Workers streamed the opposite way now, into buildings, their new workday starting. Some carried ‘wake me up’ coffee, or ‘skipped breakfast’ muffins. Face stood still, letting them pour past him and read the company name engraved in quite small and tasteful letters on a brass plate beside the imposing entrance.

Winthrop, Webster and Farrell Corp.

Of course the names didn’t need to be in huge letters, their position on the outside of the building said everything anyone needed to know about the people who carried those names. That they were different from the workers back at the coffee shop he’d met Murdock in yesterday, for example, who carried their names on their shirts.

As a boy, Face had always been certain that there’d been a big mix up somewhere and really he should be a name on the building kind of person. When he’d finally discovered this was in fact the truth and he was the son of a rich, if crooked, man, he’d felt as if his life had been some sort of grand joke, a practical joke, to cheat him of the life he should have had and make him a name on his shirt guy instead. Sometimes he wished he’d never found out.

Charles Farrell had been born to the life Templeton Peck dreamed of and had Face hated him from the moment he’d laid eyes on the man. Why, he wondered. Envy perhaps? Or more than that? Yes, he’d always wanted to be part of the ‘name on the building’ set, so why, every time he got in sniffing distance of those people did he fill up with disgust? A disgust shared equally between himself and the people he tried so hard to impress.

Face took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. Time to stop putting it off. He strode, with mock confidence, through the doors, nodding his thanks to the doorman. He’d prefer facing a squad of machine gun toting mercenaries to going in there to get sneered at by rich bastards and he knew it probably wouldn’t make any difference. But he couldn’t call himself much of a man if he didn’t try.

He wanted to finish this nonsense with Farrell, once and for all, wanted him out of their lives. Time to force him to quit sneaking around trying to hurt them with money. If he wanted to take a pop at Face, if that would make him feel better, if that would finish it for him, well then he was welcome to it.

Hell, Face thought, maybe I could persuade him to come up to the training facility and they could have a full on knockdown drag-out in the gym. Sort it out once and for all that way. Just anything but this high finance trickery.

Face walked through the bustling lobby to the marble-topped reception desk. A beautiful girl, perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect clothes and, Face frowned a moment, rather smudged eye make up spoke to him in a voice that trembled.

“Welcome to Winthrop, Webster and Farrell, sir, do you have an appointment?”

“No.” He resisted giving her The Smile and kept his expression stern. “My name is Templeton Peck and I want to see Charles Farrell right away.”

“I’m sorry, sir.” Now her voice really shook, but Face had built up too much of a head of steam to pay any attention to it. “He’s not –”

“Let me make this very clear, miss.” He cut her off, not willing to listen to excuses. “I’m not leaving this building until I see Charles Farrell!”

The receptionist burst into tears.


Yet another perfectly groomed and beautiful young woman ushered Face into an office that looked large enough to hold their short obstacle course. Face approached the desk by the windows across a pale blue carpet. A tall, broad shouldered man, in his sixties rose to greet him. Despite some extra bulk around the middle, his conservative dark suit fitted to perfection.

“Mr Peck, I’m Thomas Farrell.” He leant across the desk and gave Face a powerful handshake. “Please sit down. I believe you came here to see my son.”

“Yes.” As Thomas sat in the tan leather chair behind his desk Face glanced at the chair Thomas had offered. It appeared identical, except for the fact he could see the seat had been adjusted to be several inches lower than Thomas’s. Face’s mouth twitched in a half smile. Did he look like an idiot? He didn’t sit.

“My son is out of the country on business, Mr Peck, perhaps I can help you instead.”

Face looked at him narrowly, suspicious at once of the polite tone. Thomas looked pale and had dark circles under his eyes. Something’s wrong here, Face thought, certain of it now. The sobbing receptionist in the lobby had been led away by one of her colleagues and another had called the executive floor. Moments later Face was on that floor, in the office of the man who controlled this huge corporation.

Face knew men like this didn’t just let in the riff-raff for a chat. He’d expected to have to make a big scene, to yell and insist. And even then, he’d not expected it to work. He’d thought security would toss him out of the door and had just hoped they’d open the door first. Then at least he could go back and tell Hannibal he’d tried. But now he stood, feeling adrift on a sea of blue carpet.

“Mr Peck?”

Face brought his attention back to Thomas. He put his hand on the back of the chair he’d not been fool enough to sit in. The leather was unbelievably soft, but it gave Face an anchor and he clung to that, no longer drifting.

“What’s going on here, Mr Farrell?” Face said. “I know something is. Believe me when I say I learnt long ago to smell trouble.”

Thomas looked at him for a while and picked up a fountain pen from the desk, rolled it between his fingers.

“You’re a mercenary, aren’t you, Mr Peck?”

“Something like that,” Face said, guarded, not liking the word, but not interested in a debate on semantics right now.

Thomas tapped the pen on the desk. “My son is trying to evict you from the land where you have some kind of para-military training camp, I believe.”

More words that Face didn’t really like, but he let them pass. Thomas seems to be working his way to the truth, which apparently didn’t come naturally to him. Face would have to be patient and not get him off track.

“I can’t say I approve of him using company funds to pursue his private vendettas. But Charles has always been…” Thomas broke off, looking at Face closely.

After a moment of this Face started to turn away, his patience grown thin.

“I can see I’m wasting my time here. Our attorney will be in touch.”

“Wait. Mr Peck, please,” Thomas called, a hint of desperation in his voice. A hint he had eliminated by the time Face turned back to him. “I believe we can make some kind of arrangement here, about your land.”

“Really? And what kind of arrangement would that be?”

“A business transaction. I have something you want.” He opened a folder and held up a legal document. “This is the freehold deed for the land where your business is based. I could give this to you.”

Face waited, his arms folded now, poker face on, waiting to hear the price. After a moment Thomas went on

“Charles went to Brazil, three weeks ago, to negotiate a land purchase. One week ago, all contact with him was lost.” He paused and Face heard the paper of the deed rattle, before Thomas put it down and moved his hands out of sight. “He was last seen in a small village on the banks of the Amazon, but the last report we have after that is that he vanished into the jungle.”

“Did someone take him?”

Thomas shook his head. “We don’t know. There are bandits in the area, but they’d have issued a ransom demand by now. He… He’s simply vanished.”

Face frowned. “So, why haven’t I heard anything about this on the news?”

“We preferred –” Thomas began, when his intercom buzzed. He scowled and stabbed the button with one finger.

“I am busy!”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the voice of his secretary came through, sounding apologetic. “But Mrs Farrell is here to see you and you said –”

“Oh. Send her in.” He looked up at Face. “My daughter in law. Please excuse me a moment.” Face nodded then turned around as the door opened and a woman in her late twenties came in. She was good looking, but in a way that suggested a lot of expense and hard work had gone into making her that way, her hair, makeup and nails all perfect. Face recognised that her clothes were the very latest high fashion, but also saw at once that they were maternity wear. She had a small baby bump, which she carried off like a stylish accessory.

“Eleanor,” Thomas said, “please, sit.” Solicitous, he took her arm and led her to the chair Face stood beside. Face stepped back from it. She sank into the chair then dabbed at her eyes with a silk handkerchief, which remained dry.

“Is there any news, Thomas?”

“Nothing so far, I’m afraid.”

She looked up at Face, seeming to notice him for the first time.

“Oh, you’re busy, Thomas.”

“Actually…” Thomas looked at Face.

Oh don’t you dare, Face thought, don’t you dare.

“This is Templeton Peck,” Thomas said. “I’m hiring Mr Peck to find Charles.”

He dared.

Eleanor looked at Face again. “Oh, I see.” She didn’t appear impressed.

“Mr Farrell,” Face said. “A word.”

He turned and walked out of the room. He waited in the outer office where Thomas’s secretary sat. She stared at him and he tried a smile on her, but got only a nervous look in return. She fingered a pendant she wore. In a moment, Thomas appeared from his office.

“So, you’re hiring me?” Face said. “When did this happen?”

“Mr Peck, Eleanor has been waiting for good news about her husband for a week now.”

“Okay, cut the sob story. Just tell me the deal.” Face felt quite surprised at the snappy tone of his voice. Of course he felt sorry for the woman, but he didn’t like being manipulated.

Thomas narrowed his eyes at Face, but those eyes still held a hint of fear and desperation. Face calmed himself. He needed to keep a cool head now. When he’d come here he’d expected to be on the back foot in the negotiations. He needed to adjust and make sure he took full advantage of the unexpectedly strong position he held.

“Mr Peck, if you go to Brazil and find Charles I will give you the deed to the land. Bring my son back safe and your business will be safe.”


Thomas’s secretary prepared a dossier for Face, with all the information on Charles Farrell’s last known whereabouts. As she handed it over she leaned across her desk and spoke quietly, glancing at the door to her boss’s office. Face had to bend over to hear her whispered words.

“Mr Peck, do you think that you’ll find Charles?”

“I’ll do my best, erm, Miss…”

“Diane, I’m Diane.” She again touched her pendant and her eyes shone. “Please, bring him back safe. I know he upsets some people, I know. But he’s not really like that, he’s just so –”

She broke off as the door to Thomas’s office opened and Eleanor Farrell emerged, once again dabbing her eyes. She nodded to Face and left the office, sniffing daintily. Diane shot her a poisonous look.

“Bitch.” Face heard Diane mutter very softly.

Oh boy, Face thought, just how many women in this office was Farrell seeing on the side? On the way up here, Face had noticed several women who looked strained, worried and even, like the receptionist downstairs, tearful.

This had the potential for an embarrassing scene. Perhaps he’d insist on delivering Farrell right to the offices, just so he got to see it. Not that I should be laughing about it, Face thought, sobering himself. The guy has a pregnant wife waiting for him. That’s not funny at all.

Thomas Farrell came out of the office a moment later and Diane at once tried to look busy typing at her PC.

“You have the information, Mr Peck?”

“Yes. And the appointment. Tomorrow at noon at LAX.”

“All the paperwork you need for your journey will be waiting. I know someone who can push your visa application through overnight.”

“Two applications.”



“This better be good,” Murdock said as he answered the pounding at his apartment door. “The Borg just took Picard and – oh hey, Face.”

“Quick, sign this.” Face thrust a piece of paper and a pen into Murdock’s hand.

“What is it?” Murdock looked past Face to a man, wearing motorbike leathers, and carrying a crash helmet. Sadly, he wasn’t also carrying a pizza.

“It’s a visa application for entry to Brazil. Are your yellow fever, typhoid and rabies vaccinations up to date?”

Murdock stared at him. Face scowled back.

“Today, please, Murdock!”

Murdock sighed.

“You did something dumb, didn’t you?”

He signed the paper. Face snatched it back and handed it to the man in leathers, who nodded and left at once, putting on his helmet.

“Okay, Face,” Murdock said. “Come on in and tell me why I’m going to Brazil.”

“Not just you, me too.” Face followed Murdock into the apartment. Murdock flopped onto the couch and waved Face to a chair, but Face stayed on his feet.

“It’s about the land.”

“Oh, don’t tell me you went to see Farrell. You know it wasn’t just me told you not to do that. Our lawyer -”

“I tried to see Farrell, but he wasn’t there. He’s in Brazil. He’s missing.”

“Missing?” Murdock said startled. “What’s happened to him?”

“That’s what we’re going to find out. If we bring him back safe and well, his father will hand over the freehold of the land. We’ll be free and clear.” Face smiled. Not his most convincing effort, Murdock thought.

“I hope you got that in writing.”

Face waved his hand, an impatient gesture. “I’m not a fool, Murdock. No offence. The deed is lodged with an independent attorney. He can release it to us when we show up with Farrell. If we come back without him it gets handed back to daddy Farrell.”

“What if Charles is dead?” Murdock asked, seeing one flaw. Face shook his head.

“I don’t think he’s dead.”

“What if he is?”

“Then the corporation keeps the land, but so long as we come back with confirmation, and preferably a body, they won’t evict us.”

“Sounds okay, I guess.” Murdock nodded slowly. “You’re sure Farrell senior won’t try to screw us over.”

“Murdock, he may be a ruthless bastard, but this is his son and heir we’re talking about.”

Murdock nodded again. “You’ve got at least some clue about where Chuck might be? Brazil’s a hell of a big place.”

Face held up a folder. “All in here. But honestly, Murdock, if you ask me, this will be easy.”

“Easy?” A flash of red from the TV distracted Murdock for a second, making him look past Face to see Jean Luc Picard transformed into a Borg. Murdock picked up the remote and turned the TV off.

“I’ll bet he’s just found himself a girl,” Face said, relaxing enough at last to sit down. “And probably some exciting new kind of drink. Ten to one he’s very busy having his wallet emptied in some bar upriver.”

Murdock considered that. “He is kind of uptight. That sort can unravel a bit out in the jungle and go walkabout.”

“Walkabout?” Face frowned.

“Um…” Murdock had picked the word up from Karen Bennett. “Ah, like a sort of vision quest.”

Face snorted. “Double vision more like.”

“And I guess the jungle isn’t exactly full of happy memories for him.” Murdock added. They were both quiet a moment. Not a place full of happy memories for any of them.

“Could he have been kidnapped?” Murdock asked after a while. Face’s explanation seemed a little too glib to Murdock. He wondered if Face really believed it and doubted it. But Face had learnt bluffing from the best.

“No ransom demand so far.”

“Okay, well, if he has been we’ll get him out.” He shook his head. “Geez, Farrell of all people. I wonder what the heck Hannibal will think of that.”

Face at once looked shifty and became seemingly fascinated with his own fingernails. Murdock looked at him narrowly

“I assume you’ve rushed a visa application round to the colonel and the big guy too?”

“No.” Face looked up and then stood. “I think just you and me can handle this. Hannibal hates Farrell, he’d have sent him to jail for shooting Lamba if I’d not –”

“Face –”

“And someone has to stay and run the business while we’re gone. It’s no use saving the place if we lose all our clients.”

“Face –”

“And Hannibal’s been saying for a couple of years now that he needs to take it easy and stay out of the field.”

“Right.” Murdock smiled. “Yeah, he keeps saying it, but it never quite happens does it?”

“I know he’s still in shape, but he’s sixty seven. And he still gets pains from the things that happened in Albania and he’s –”

“We all still get pains. How’s your feet?” He glanced down at Face’s shoes and then back up to his face, wondering when Face would work his way around to the real reason. Face sometimes had to give you a whole bunch of non-reasons before he got to the actual reason. The trick was paying attention until you picked out the real one from the rest.

“My feet are fine. Look, Murdock, Farrell’s father hired me. He never once said the A-Team. He hired me.”

Ah, there it is, Murdock thought.

“So why am I coming along?” he asked.

Face looked at him, his expression serious. Murdock met his eyes.

“You don’t have to come.”

“Hey, quit trying to exclude me!” Murdock said at once, grinning. “You think I’d miss a chance to go to Brazil. The women down there are — oh boy, they are!”

Face rolled his eyes. “Murdock we’re not going to be hanging around on the beaches in Rio.”

“Hey, once we find Farrell and drag him out of wherever he’s getting a cashectomy, we can always come home via Rio. I’m sure Chuck appreciates the glories of the female form as much as we do.”

“You don’t know how right you are,” Face said, chuckling. Then he smiled at Murdock. “Thanks. I really do want you to come with me.”

Murdock stood up and shook Face’s hand.

“I’ve got your back, boss.” He winked at Face. “Now, ‘fess up. The real reason you don’t want Hannibal to come is because Maggie would kill you if anything happened to him.”


Murdock dialled a number from memory and listened to the phone ring. Now how had he ended up with this little job? Ah, yes, because Face was a wuss, plain and simple. Murdock had long suspected it. The phone was answered and Murdock spoke in a rush.

“Hi, BA, me and Face are going to Brazil for a few days, don’t let Hannibal come after us, bye.”

Still, who wasn’t a wuss when it came to BA and the explaining of delicate situations? BA’s voice rumbled down the line like an approaching train.

“You put that phone down, and I’ll come over there and knock you inta Thanksgiving weekend.”

Murdock sighed. A simple “okay, send me a postcard,” had probably been too much to hope for.

Face had said he had to rush off and pack up and make plans and some phone calls and oh, could you ring BA and explain and get him to keep Hannibal from chasing us down there and thanks and he slammed the door behind him. Murdock, left holding the metaphorical baby, had tried the same trick on BA, but BA’s reactions were too quick for him.

“What the heck you talking about, fool?”

Murdock sighed again.

“Charles Farrell’s gone missing down there. His dad offered us the ownership of the training facility’s land in exchange for Face bringing Farrell back.”

“So why ain’t we all goin’?”

Murdock decided that one of Face’s non-reasons would be the most diplomatic option.

“Hey, when you run a business you can’t just rush off out of the country, you know. Someone’s gotta hold down the fort.”

“We got folks booked in for your crazy helicopter flying lessons.” BA pointed out.

Murdock smiled. Some people aspired to fly like HM Murdock. That must mean they were actually crazier than he was. Well they would wait.

“Reschedule ’em for me, would ya, BA?”

“Okay,” BA said, sounding reluctant, but resigned. He paused and Murdock waited. “You sure ’bout this, Murdock? Just the two of you?”

“Sure, we’ve got lots of info about where he was seen last. He’s a blond, six-foot tall, white guy who effortlessly makes fresh enemies everywhere he goes. How hard can he be to track down on the banks of the Amazon?” Murdock could feel BA’s scepticism leaking out of the receiver. Like Face, he eventually had to hint at the real reason. “Look, Face kind of insisted that Big Daddy Farrell hired him, not the team, so he’s the one that has to do it.”

BA went silent again for a while and Murdock waited again.

“Okay,” BA said eventually, the same reluctant but resigned ‘okay’ as before. “I’ll keep Hannibal off your back. And you watch Face’s back.”

“Will do. Thanks, big guy. I know I’m putting you in a tough spot with the colonel.”

“I ain’t scared of Hannibal!” BA protested. Murdock grinned at the outraged tone in his voice. Hannibal just might be the one person in the world that BA was at least a tiny bit afraid of.

“Great! Well, give him my love and see you in a couple of weeks.” He heard BA snort at the “give him my love”.

“Yeah, be careful. And don’t be driving Faceman nuts. An’ make sure he’s got those boots on.”

“Yes, mother,” Murdock said, nodding along to BA’s instructions, his expression serious, despite his teasing words. “Should I make sure he washes behind his ears and doesn’t put beans up his nose too?” He hung up to the reassuring sound of the familiar words.

“Shut up, fool.”

Part 2

“Face, I’ve got a dilemma.”

When Face looked up at him Murdock waved a hand around at the cabin of the executive jet. “It’s so nice back here I want to just stretch out and relax while being waited on hand and foot.”

He glanced over at the young woman wearing a crisp white blouse and dark blue skirt. She had just strapped in for takeoff, but had earlier welcomed them aboard and announced she was Holly and would be taking care of their needs on the journey. Face had very nearly made a saucy comment in reply to that, but had decided to restrain himself from possibly offending someone who would be preparing food for him later.

“But on the other hand,” Murdock went on. “This is the cabin, and you know that isn’t where I belong on a plane. I wanna be up front.”

“Can’t you at least wait till we’re in the air before you go and distract the pilot, Murdock?”

The fasten seatbelts sign started to flash and in a moment the jet was climbing fast into the air. Murdock began a running commentary and Face quickly interrupted him.

“Think this is the jet Frankie’s squad used?”

Murdock looked around. “I guess. Hey, so that bathroom’s seen some action.”

“Murdock!” Face said, shocked.

Murdock grinned at him. “Not that kind of action. Remember what Frankie told us? About Evie Miller finding out she was pregnant right here on the plane, right in that bathroom.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Cute baby,” Murdock said, smiling

“Mmm? Yeah I guess,” Face said, trying to remember the photograph he’d seen. Had the small dark face and big brown eyes been those of a boy or a girl?

The jet reached cruising altitude and the seatbelts sign turned off. Face undid his belt and leaned into the aisle, appreciating the view, as Holly the flight attendant went back to the galley.

“Face, she’s twenty years younger than you.”

Face looked back at Murdock’s grin.

“I can look, can’t I?”

“And I’ll bet she wasn’t part of the deal.”

“Pity.” He found the lever to make his chair recline. “Ah, now this I could get used to. Go and chat with the pilot if you like, Murdock. I don’t mind. I’ll catch some sleep.”

“No, I’m fine. I’ll keep you company. Should we go over the info again?”

“You can if you want. I’m done with it.” He had the information memorised. A good memory was a basic qualification for the job of con artist. “Don’t worry, Murdock. I’m certain this job will be a piece of cake.”

Murdock looked up and scowled at him.

“What did you say? You just said ‘piece of cake’, didn’t you? Don’t tell me you just sat there and said ‘piece of cake.’ You did, you said ‘piece of cake’.”

Face frowned back at him. Murdock seemed genuinely miffed.

“Yeah, I said ‘piece of cake’. So what?”

“I can’t believe that after all the times you’ve complained about Hannibal saying a mission is going to be a piece of cake you sit there and brazenly say ‘piece of cake’ yourself.”

“Yeah, but when Hannibal says a mission is going to be a piece of cake it instantly goes straight down the toilet.” Murdock raised an eyebrow at him and Face scowled. “Oh go bother the pilot.”

Holly came over and leant forward, a hand on the back of Murdock’s seat.

“Can I get anything for either of you, gentlemen?” The smell of brewing coffee wafted across from the galley and mixed with the warm spicy scent of her perfume. Murdock appeared slightly distracted by her long red hair and the view down the front of her blouse, but then he looked up.

“Any chance of a piece of cake?”


Hannibal wondered if buying a convertible had been a wise choice. Perhaps he should have waited for a year, until they were sure the business would work out. Now he had this thirsty car and the prospect that very soon now they may have no business at all.

As the road began to climb into the hills, he shifted into a lower gear He enjoyed the drive from Bad Rock to work, after he’d stayed a night at Maggie’s. Now and again Maggie made the journey with him. She did a couple of days work here and there, as a consultant, teaching combat first aid.

Hannibal smiled. Maggie liked the convertible. Right now, their favourite way of spending time together was going for a drive. He hadn’t done this much “parking” since he used to take his dates out in his dad’s car. Maggie may not be a kid either, but she sure had the knack of making Hannibal feel like one.

The support she’d given him since Albania, not just him, all of them, he knew he’d never be able to repay her for. Nor for what she’d risked by joining the party to rescue them. How could he be so mad at her for doing that and so glad she’d done it, both at the same time? Women. Maybe once you really got close to one, all that complicated stuff rubbed off on you until you were as tricky to understand as they were?

Sometimes he thought there was one way he could show his gratitude, by giving her his name, giving her everything. But he always found a reason to put it off. Like, wait until the business is more established, wait until he felt sure he could settle down, and wait until he’d worked up the nerve frankly. People thought Hannibal Smith knew no fear, but now he broke into a sweat every time he passed a jewellery store with diamond rings displayed in the window.

As he drove up the short private road to the facility, he thought about all those reasons he’d used to put off proposing. And thought how he’d found a way around most of those same reasons to buy himself this car. If not now, when? That’s what he’d asked himself in the end. Might as well get a convertible while he still had a full head of hair. Might as well get a wife for the same reason.

He snorted, laughing at himself. As if Maggie was that shallow.

He parked up and looked around at the buildings, at the assault course. Face wouldn’t let them lose the business. Not, Face, the master of the loophole. Face’s old SAG card in the name of Lake Charles proved that mastery. Hannibal chuckled at the memory and went into the office.

BA looked up from his desk with an expression Hannibal would have described as nervous on anyone else.

“Morning, BA. Face not here yet?”

“No. He’s um… outta town for a few days. Him and Murdock.”

Hannibal paused in pouring himself a coffee.

“We’ve got clients.”

“Yeah, I’ve rescheduled some and arranged cover and –”

“Could have given some more notice.” Hannibal scowled. “The two of them had better not be off chasing skirts some place. Where’ve they gone?”

Abruptly BA replaced his nervous look with a defiant ‘you want to make something of it?’ scowl.



Murdock stayed in the cockpit almost three hours, then returned to his seat in the cabin and fell asleep. Face dozed, but after a while woke with a gasp, from a dream of needles and blood. He sat up, fists clenched, fingernails hidden, protected.

Holly came over, looking concerned.

“Can I get you anything, Mr Peck?”

“Ah, some tea, maybe?”

As Holly went back to the galley Face glanced over, hoping he’d not disturbed Murdock. He hadn’t, Murdock still slept in his reclined seat. But Face saw that his rest seemed no more peaceful than Face’s had been. Murdock’s hands gripped the arm rests, his face contorted. Face reached over and rubbed Murdock’s forearm, short strokes, rubbing the cloth of Murdock’s shirt against the skin beneath, trying to wake him slowly, gently. In a moment, the reality penetrated through the dreams and Murdock’s hands relaxed. He opened his eyes and Face moved his hand away.

“Holly’s making some tea,” Face said, as if that’s all he’d woken Murdock for. “You want some?”

“‘kay.” Murdock closed his eyes again, still dozing. Face sighed, rubbed his aching eyes, and felt the sweat on his eyebrows and forehead.

Holly approached with the tea as Face stood up.

“Excuse me a second,” he said to her and headed to the bathroom. He stood in the tiny room and bathed his face, then looked into the mirror, with the water dripping from his skin and hair.

Is it too soon? He asked his reflection. To be going on a job? Too soon after Albania? Not for him perhaps, but for Murdock?

He’d been at Murdock’s place a month ago and he’d noticed that the sword normally displayed on the wall wasn’t there. When Face asked about it, Murdock confessed that it currently lay under his bed, because he felt safer with it so close, in reaching distance. And not just as a handy weapon, like the .45 in the nightstand, but because the sword made him feel as if someone stood guard over him as he slept.

Face had asked if the ghost of Ahmed Madari haunted Murdock’s bedroom, scaring off demons and Murdock had laughed and said he knew it sounded silly. Face smiled and Murdock went on, that it sounded silly, because obviously Ahmed watched over Faris and had his hands full there. Face had stopped smiling.

Face shook his head and dried his face with a paper towel. Stop being soft, he told himself. In Vietnam, after the camp, we marched back into the jungle before the scabs became scars.

Yeah and look how well that turned out.

He sighed and reached for the lock, but pulled his hand back startled as someone tapped on the door. He frowned and opened the door, then almost stumbled back as Holly pushed her way into the tiny space.

“What the hell?”

“Mr Peck, I have to talk to you.”

“Talk?” Face had to wedge himself almost into a corner to avoid being pressed up against her as she closed the door.

“About Charles. Oh, Mr Peck, I heard what you said earlier, that you thought that finding him would be easy. Is that true? Do you really think so?” Tears made streaks in her makeup.

Face sighed. Not another one.

“I’m sure we’ll find him.” He smiled, trying to be comforting. He put a hand on her shoulder and she at once fell into his arms and began to snuffle against his chest. Dammit, Face thought. Now if this situation could only be a tiny bit different. Awkward and uncomfortable he patted her on the back.

“She doesn’t care!” Holly sobbed, muffled. Face knew his shirt was being ruined right that very second. “She’s got his money and now the baby, why should she care if he never comes back? He said he was going to leave her, said he doesn’t love her, but now he says he can’t, because of the baby, that we have to wait.”

Face rolled his eyes. Oh man, how long would women keep falling for that line?

“Holly, I’m sorry. I’ll do my best to find him, I promise.” For you and all the rest, he didn’t say out loud, fearing she’d start to wail. How does Farrell find the time to run his little vendetta against us, not mention do his actual job? Face wondered.

At last, Holly stopped sobbing and stepped away from Face, as far as she could manage in the confined space.

“I’m sorry, Mr Peck.” She took a tissue from the box by the tiny sink and dried her eyes, then blew her nose.

Now she finds a tissue, Face thought, trying to ignore the damp patch on his chest.

“Err, that’s okay, Holly. Why don’t you just, um, get yourself together now? No hurry.” Face was in a hurry, to extract himself. They manoeuvred with difficulty, to let him out of the door and he went back to his seat and flopped into it with a sigh.

Murdock frowned at him, and then looked back, saw no sign of Holly. He turned back to Face looked rather shocked.

“Face! You didn’t?” He dropped his voice low. “Aren’t you already a member of the mile high club? That flight to Antigua in June ’78 you said you and –”

“Oh, grow up.” Face scowled. “This is getting beyond a joke, Murdock. Beyond a damn joke. When we find Farrell I’m gonna kick his ass, I swear. Kick his ass.”

He found the cup of tea in an armrest cup holder and took a gulp. It had started to cool too much to be really enjoyable, but he drank it anyway. Murdock waited, but Face didn’t explain any further why he would kick Farrell’s ass. But after a moment, Face calmed down and smiled at Murdock.

“And then of course, I’m going to steal his little black book.”


Hannibal shifted into fifth gear and took a bend too fast. The wind whipped at his hair as he drove down out of the hills, back towards Bad Rock.

Hannibal passed the sign that read ‘Bad Rock 5 miles’. Usually that made him smile, but now he kept the fierce scowl on his face. He wanted a cigar, but would have to stop and put the top up for that. He’d wait.

Brazil. Face and Murdock had gone to Brazil on a job; BA had explained and told him about how if they brought Charles Farrell back then they saved the business.

The business, their business, the one they owned equal shares in. So why exactly had Face and Murdock gone themselves? BA had given Hannibal some bull about needing to stay here and actually run the business, but to Hannibal he sounded like a man just repeating what he’d been told to say.

What the hell could Face be thinking, trying to handle this on his own? Not that he couldn’t handle himself and Murdock in the jungle, Hannibal knew that, but he’d apparently gone off to see Farrell on his own, trying to handle him. Now he’d ended up agreeing to some crazy chase up the Amazon, looking for Farrell, who’d probably been eaten by a boa constrictor, a fate he richly deserved. Why had Face done it? They could have just…

Could have just what? Marched into Farrell’s office with machine guns? Yeah, and been hauled off to jail afterwards. Anyway, Farrell might be a pain in their butts, but he’d not actually done anything worth calling in the A-Team about yet. He’d not sent any heavies around to intimidate them. He’d not scared off their customers. He’d used the one thing they couldn’t handle with their old methods. The law.

What do you call five hundred lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start. Hannibal’s face twisted into a grim smile. So no machine guns. All they’d been able to do was get their own lawyer working on the case. But then Face had apparently decided to take matters into his own hands and where had that led? Right back to the jungle.

Damn fool. He got pain in his feet if he walked more than a mile, even with those special boots he had. Taking Murdock along too, when neither of them was ready for a mission, well that was just damned irresponsible.

But Face thought he knew best. He and Hannibal had talked a lot about command these last few months, heck the last few years. Had Face finally decided to put everything Hannibal had taught him into effect? Of course, Hannibal had been telling him to do just that for a few years now, by claiming he was ready to retire. Except he’d not retired, had he? He’s said he’d stay out of the field at least and yet somehow he still ended up right in the thick of the action, relegating Face back to second in command once again. Perhaps Face had finally had enough of it and this was his way of telling Hannibal that.

So Face had taken the decision, made the choice. Hannibal wished he’d come and talked about it first, but actions speak louder than words and Face’s actions yelled at Hannibal and Hannibal understood them clearly.

He’d been angry at first, had shouted at BA, which did no good, because BA just walked away from Hannibal, ignoring the frustrated, misdirected fury.

Hannibal slowed as he drove into Bad Rock. Almost two years now, he’d been coming here regularly. Spending weekends sometimes, sometimes longer. He’d become friendly with many of the people there. They knew who he really was of course, but most of them just called him “Doc Sullivan’s man.” He parked outside Maggie’s house, walked up to the door and knocked.

After BA walked away from him Hannibal had strode back out of the office and roared off in his car. He’d driven with no destination in mind at first, until he started to calm down. As the anger drained away, more coherent thoughts replaced it. If Face had decided the changes they had talked about for years were now going to happen, then for the first time since – maybe ever – Hannibal was free.

Maggie answered the door and stared at him amazed.

“John! I didn’t expect you back.”

Hannibal was free.

“Will you marry me?”


Face and Murdock landed in Manaus and after getting though customs they headed straight over to a building beside the terminal.

“This the same chopper hire place Farrell used?” Murdock said as they went inside and dropped their bags. He banged the bell on the counter inside.

“Yeah,” Face said. “He hired a chopper and a pilot to take him upriver. In fact their pilot’s the guy who first reported Farrell missing.”

“We gonna talk to him?”

“When we get there. He’s still upriver, waiting for Farrell I guess. Okay, you got your licence and stuff?” Face asked as a young man came out of a door marked private and approached the counter.

“Americans?” He asked, smiling. “We speak English here, sir.”

“That’s good.” Face shoved his Portuguese phrase book back in his pocket. “I need to rent a helicopter. I brought my own pilot.”

The young man nodded and began to fetch out forms and other paperwork.

“Your own pilot?” Murdock smirked. “La-di-da. Hey, Face, should I be saluting you and stuff?”

“Yes. And you can call me ‘sir’. Now show the man your pilot’s licence.”


“John…” Maggie stared at Hannibal and at last found her voice again. “You’d better come in.”

Hannibal came in and went to take Maggie in his arms, but she moved away.

“I’ve got a patient in. Can you…” She shook her head, looking flustered. “Can you just wait here? Sit down. I’ll only be a few minutes.” With that, she hurried off into her consulting room.

Hannibal frowned and glanced around. He could sit down, he supposed, if someone knocked him out. Otherwise, no chance. He began to pace up and down. Without thinking he lit a cigar, which Maggie didn’t like in the house, and puffed away on it as he walked.

Hannibal waited there for several weeks, by his personal estimate. However, the clock insisted only ten minutes passed before the door to the consulting room re-opened and Maggie came out with a small and frail elderly woman.

“Now you call me, Emily, if your knee gets worse. I don’t mind driving out there. You don’t have to come in.” The two women walked slowly to the door, the old woman limping. “And using Jeremiah’s old cane would be a good idea.”

“Oh, I will doctor.” Emily gave a half-sad, half-wistful smile. “I keep it by my chair anyway, you know. It’s like having him still around.”

Hannibal watched their slow progress and thought he might explode with frustration. He saw Maggie glance over at him, though still talking to Emily. He tried to smile and wondered why he’d gone and fallen in love with a small town doctor? An E.R. doc would be better. The sort who stitched you up, forgot your name and went home.

Maggie stood at the door and waited as Emily limped to where a car waited. A middle-aged man got out of it and helped her in.

“Don’t let her get up at five to milk the cows, Pete!” Maggie called.

Hannibal tossed his cigar in the fireplace. An impulse to turn around and run like hell out of here threatened to overwhelm him for a moment, but he got a hold of himself as Maggie finally closed the door and turned to him.

“John, what’s got into you? Why don’t you sit down? Let me make you some coffee.”

Hannibal frowned as she turned quickly and hurried into the kitchen. He followed her.

“Maggie,” he said, as she bustled about gathering coffee and filters and cups. “Maggie, you, um, you did hear what I said?”

“Yes. I did.” She turned around, holding a small coffee cup, turning it around and around in her hands. She smiled and gave a small laugh. “Yes, I heard it. Believe me; we girls are primed from an early age to hear that sentence very clearly.”

“And? I mean, oh hell, are you going to make me say it again? Am I meant to get down on one knee?”

“No, you don’t have to do that and you don’t have to say it again.”

“Then are you ever going to answer me?”

“John, what’s brought this on? You’re not yourself. Did something happen to one of the team?”

Hannibal had had enough. He marched up to Maggie and gently took the coffee cup out of her hands. He set it on the counter then took her in his arms.

“Maggie Sullivan, will you quit messing with my head? If you want it done properly, I’ll come back tonight with a ring and flowers and whatever else it takes. But just tell me, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?” He smiled, enjoying the old-fashioned phrase. His father had once told him those were the words he’d used to propose to Hannibal’s mother.

Maggie rested a hand on his chest, looked up into his eyes.

“Oh, John, I’m sorry. No.”


Face and Murdock made it to their destination upriver just before nightfall, bringing their hired helicopter in to land at a small airstrip beside a town on the banks of the Amazon. Even as they unloaded their gear and arranged to leave the helicopter there, night came down like a blanket draped over the countryside.

“Lock that thing up tight and then let’s get to the hotel,” Face said, coming back to Murdock after paying a deposit on the fee to leave the helicopter. “Farrell’s pilot is probably there, it’s the only hotel in town.” They gathered up their bags and backpacks and headed out.

“What’s this hotel called?” Murdock stretched and yawned, ready for his bed, his dinner and a shower, in reverse order.

“Hotel,” Face said. Murdock looked at him. Face shrugged. “If there’s only one in town why does it need a name?”

“Good point.” Murdock conceded. He looked at his watch. “It’s only just after nine; the pilot is probably still up. We going to question him tonight?”

“Might as well. Once we know exactly where Farrell vanished we can get started quicker in the morning.”

They arrived at the hotel. The entire building would have fitted into the lobby of the hotel in Vegas that Face had been in only last weekend. He sighed. He just knew the beds had mosquito netting.

The interior had once been richly decorated, but was now severely faded. The damp atmosphere waged a constant war on the paint, the drapes and the wood and plaster. Face felt certain he could push a finger through any one of the walls.

The phrase book had an outing as the night manager spoke only very fractured English, with a bizarre accent that suggested he’d learnt most of it watching Bugs Bunny cartoon.

“Ask him about the other pilot,” Murdock said. “See if he’s around.”

Face pulled out the card the helicopter rental agency had given him. He’d simply put it straight in his pocket back in Manaus, Murdock remembered, so must be reading it for the first time. Whatever it said made him frown for a moment, then smile suddenly and chuckle.

“Oh, it can’t be.” Face shook his head, “Just can’t.”

“What?” Murdock asked, curious at once. He grabbed the card from Face’s unresisting fingers, read it and broke into a big grin. He looked up at Face. “Well you’ve got the phrase book, Face. You ask the man where we can find Mr Dick Nash.”


Showered and changed into fresh clothes, Face and Murdock walked into the tiny bar of their nameless hotel. A bored looking bartender stood polishing glasses. He had only one customer, a black man, who, Murdock guessed, was in his late thirties. The man, casually dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that showed off his well-muscled arms and shoulders, sat in an armchair, reading a well-worn looking copy of The Third Man. A bottle of beer sat on a table beside him.

“Are you Dick Nash?” Face asked. The man looked up.

“Yeah.” He gave them a suspicious look. “Who’s asking?” His voice had a New York twang.

“My name’s Templeton Peck, this is HM Murdock.” Nash rose as Face offered his hand. He stood a couple of inches shorter than Face. He shook Face’s hand and then Murdock’s. Murdock grinned at him.

“It’s great to meet you, Mr Nash,” he said, enthusing. “You know the number of time I’ve wondered –”

“Murdock,” Face said, as Nash stared at Murdock. “Not now.”

“But, Face, it’s a great story, I mean, I was Dick Nash.” He gave a huge grin.

“This might not even be the same Dick Nash.”

“Oh, come on, Face, how many pilots called Dick Nash can there be?”

“Do I know you guys?” Nash asked, staring at the pair of them, confused.

“Not exactly,” Face said. “We may have a mutual, um, friend.”

“When he says friend, he means someone we put in jail,” Murdock clarified, earning him a glare from Face.

“Go and buy us a drink, Murdock.” Murdock shrugged and went to the bar. Since the bar was only about six feet from where he’d been standing this didn’t exclude him from the conversation at all.

“They water the spirits.” Nash warned him. “Don’t drink anything unless you see them open the bottle in front of you.” The barman didn’t react. “And whatever you do, don’t get any ice.”

“Beer, Murdock,” Face said. “Three?” He looked at Nash, who nodded.

“Yeah, thanks. Look, who the hell are you guys?”

“We’re here looking for Charles Farrell, working for his father.” Face sat down and Nash did the same. Murdock arrived with three bottles of beer. “We’re told you reported him missing.”

“Yeah, he hired me in Manaus and I brought him up here. He went off to do some business, meant to come back a couple of days later. He never did, so I told the police.”

“Did they do anything?” Murdock asked, taking a drink of his beer. He made a disgusted face. Not chilled.

“The police force around here consists of one drunk, fat guy who only gets his ass out of his chair if you bribe him. But he made a special effort, since it’s a rich American though.”

“Yeah?” Face said. “Maybe we should talk to him.”

“Don’t bother.” Nash shook his head. “He just arrested the nearest guy he didn’t like the look of and beat him up till he confessed to murdering Farrell.”

“What?” Murdock gasped almost choking on his beer.

“Yeah, but since the poor bastard kept referring to Farrell as ‘she’ in the confession, I think maybe it wasn’t very solid evidence.”

Face sighed and sat back.

“Are there any leads at all?”

“Well Farrell went into the jungle, to do some kind of survey, and he took a native guide with him. No one’s seen the guide since either.” Nash leaned forward. “My guess is, he slit Farrell’s throat and is half way to Rio with a pocketful of cash.”

Face and Murdock looked at each other alarmed. Murdock really hoped they’d prove Nash wrong about that.

“What’s this guide’s name?” Face asked. “Does he have any family or friends around here?”

“Hey, I just dropped Farrell off.” Nash shrugged. “I’m not his secretary.”

“Good, I’d hate to have you sobbing on my shoulder too,” Face said. Murdock and Nash both looked at him baffled. “Did Farrell seem okay, the day he vanished? Did you notice anything strange about him?”

Nash shook his head. “Same bastard like every day.” He shrugged. “Arrogant. Like he owned the place.”

“He probably does,” Murdock said.

Nash nodded and glanced at his watch.

“Well I’m going to give the mosquitoes their supper.” He rubbed his arm and twisted his face into a grimace. “Vicious little buggers.” He finished his beer and stood up, picked up his book from the table.

“Mr Nash,” Face said. “Are you going to be around? In case we need to ask you anything else.”

“My boss says we’re still getting paid for the chopper, so I’m to wait here till someone tells me otherwise.” He smiled at them for a moment. “Man, but it’s good to have another couple of Americans around. I was going out of my mind around here.”

“Dick,” Murdock said. “Can I call you Dick? You know I’m a pilot too. Say did you ever haul turquoise?”

“Murdock, will you knock it off!”

“Turquoise?” Nash said. “I don’t think so. Why?”

Murdock sighed. Well he supposed life couldn’t always work out so neatly.

“Hang on,” Nash said, looking thoughtful. “There was this one time when I was going to fly some crates of turquoise. But the job fell through, some kind of confusion, I can’t remember what now. I didn’t get paid, I know that.” He went off scowling. Murdock turned to Face grinning.

“Okay, maybe it is the same guy,” Face said. “Think we can trust his information?”

“Why not?” Murdock shrugged.

“Well, oh, I don’t know, maybe because he used to work for a drug smuggler.”

“Oh we don’t know he wasn’t a patsy just like, what’s his name, Judy’s cousin, the pilot guy –”

“Robbie. Did you notice Nash’s watch?”

“Huh? His watch?” Murdock had noticed Nash wore a watch, but hadn’t noticed anything odd about it.

“It’s a gold Rolex.” Face said. “Think his job pays that well?”

“It could be a fake.”

“And it could be Farrell’s.”

“Oh, Face, come on!”

Face shrugged. “Just a thought. Come on, I’m fried. Let’s sleep on this and in the morning we’ll track down that guide.”

“Sounds like a plan to me, boss.”


BA drove his car slowly along the dark road, keeping his eyes peeled. The radio played, the volume low.

Finally, his headlights picked out a dark shape by the side of the road, a car, Hannibal’s convertible, with the top up. BA pulled in behind it and saw the interior light come on as the driver’s door opened.

BA got out, popped his trunk and took out a can of gasoline. He walked to Hannibal’s car.

“How the heck did you manage to run outta gas?”

“How’d you think? I drove around and used it all up.”

“You know something? Some cars nowadays got a dial on the dash, lets you know how much gas you got left in the tank.”

Hannibal didn’t laugh. BA could just make out the scowl on his face. Giving up on the jokes, not his long suit anyway, BA shook his head and started to empty the can into Hannibal’s gas tank.

“I got… distracted,” Hannibal said, his voice quiet.

Thinking about Face and Murdock, BA supposed.

“Was you heading to Bad Rock?” BA asked.

“What?” Hannibal’s head snapped up.

“This’d be the road you take.”

“It’s the road to lots of places.”

Silence broken only by the sound of the gasoline glugging softly into the tank. The smell of it rose and the cool night breeze wafted it away. BA finished filling the tank and put the cap back on. He glanced at his watch. The luminous dial showed him the time was just after ten.

“You eaten man? Want to go get a late dinner?”

“No.” Hannibal lit a cigar. The flame of his lighter flared and illuminated his face.

BA wasn’t sure if he meant no, he hadn’t eaten or no, he didn’t want to eat. He suspected it might be both.

“You coming to work tomorrow?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Hannibal’s said in a low voice. Almost a growl. “What the hell else have I got to do?”

“Okay, man. You going home now?”

Hannibal shrugged. BA waited, but got nothing else from Hannibal.

“Right, well I had enough of this thrillin’ conversation. I got better things to do.” He regretted his grouchy tone at once. This thing with Face going to Brazil had upset Hannibal, BA knew. But, if he wouldn’t talk about it what could BA do to help?

BA put the empty gas can into his trunk.

“See you in the morning, man. You can pay me for the gas then.”

“Yeah. BA…” Hannibal paused. BA opened his car door and waited for Hannibal to go on.

“Yeah?” He prompted after a while.

“Thanks. Sorry to drag you out here.”

“Forget it. Well, no, don’t forget it. You owe me a dinner.”

“Sure, BA.” Hannibal straightened up suddenly. “See you tomorrow.” He got into his car and with a flash of his lights to BA, he drove off. BA frowned after the retreating car for a moment. Hannibal lived in LA, which lay in the opposite direction to the one he’d driven off. Then BA shook his head and smiled.

Looked like Maggie Sullivan would be getting a late night caller.


Dick Nash is a pilot Murdock impersonated in the season 2 episode In Plane Sight. Nash was named but never seen. I always wondered ‘whatever happened to the real Dick Nash…’

Part 3

Hannibal sat in his car, watching Maggie’s house. Although it was almost midnight, a light still showed.

No. The one word he’d never expected. How arrogant did that make him? He’d assumed she’d been waiting for him to ask. He’d assumed she wanted him to finally hang up his spurs and come home to stay.

No. He’d not stayed to hear anything else after that. She’d called after him to come back, but he’d ignored her. He walked out of the door and got in the car and just drove and drove. Probably in circles. Until the engine had coughed and died and, feeling like a fool, he’d had to call BA to bring him some gas.

No. He’d sat there in the immobilised car and thought about how one small word could smash you into so many pieces. What did he do now? He couldn’t drive around forever. Did he go home to his house that he suddenly saw as huge, empty, and cold? Did he go back to work and suffer BA’s curiosity?

All he wanted right now was to be gone. Maybe he’d go to the airport. Maybe he’d go stay with Faris for a while, in his new apartment that Hannibal hadn’t got blown up yet. No. Faris had a way of oh so politely not asking questions that could eventually drive you as nuts as an interrogation.

Hannibal got out of the car. Time to be a man and deal with this. He walked up to the door and knocked. Not so loud as to frighten her, but loud enough. After a moment, he heard her unlocking the door. He hoped she’d used the peephole he’d fitted for her. Maggie opened the door, wearing her robe and pyjamas and stared at him.

“What the hell do you mean, ‘no’?”


Face lay watching the whirring ceiling fan. Even though it seemed only good for moving the stifling air around rather than cooling it, Face still felt as if he’d suffocate without it running. He hoped Murdock had managed to sleep. Face had heard him moving around next door earlier, but he’d been quiet for an hour now.

Face drifted, trying to think cold thoughts. He tried to imagine the hazy moonlight that surrounded him was the inside of a cloud, imagined the wisps of nearly freezing vapour caressing his skin. A rain cloud. No a snow cloud. Snowflakes soft on his flesh, gentle, frozen kisses.

Cold room, underground, a dungeon, a cave. White tiles, streaked with blood. Rattle and clatter of metal as the trolley came towards him. And the demon, the demon with the needles.

Face woke gasping, sweating from more than the heat now. He moaned and clutched at his head. Get out. Get out of my mind, you bastard and take these damned memories with you. Memories that wouldn’t go. He’d tried, tried to shove them down into black holes into his memory. Better to have gaps in his mind than to remember that shit. But they wouldn’t go. Not this time.

He turned on his side and curled up. Maybe he would get up and take a cold shower. That might help him get off to sleep afterwards. He had a long day tomorrow, had to find that guide Farrell had used and find out what he knew. Should he call home tomorrow too? To let Hannibal and BA know about their progress? He wasn’t sure he felt ready to explain himself to Hannibal yet though. Not that he had anything to explain. Well except why he’d taken off without explaining himself to Hannibal.

His eyes were closing finally when he heard the sound. Right outside the window. The sound had been tiny, but his senses had become more acute than ever these last few months. He lay absolutely still. He knew the room had a fire escape right outside. It could be an animal, he supposed. But another sound came and he recognised it at once. Someone was jimmying open the window. He knew the sound, having been the one doing the jimmying any number of times.

His hand slid under the pillow to find his pistol. A thief, he wondered, or someone looking for him or Murdock? Was another intruder working on Murdock’s window right now? Find that out in a minute. Face moved.

A moment later the sash window slid open. Not smoothly, the damp made the wood stick. A dark figure slipped inside, landing on the floor, out of the light. After a moment, it stood up and walked slowly to the bed. The unoccupied bed. Before the intruder could react, Face’s pistol jammed into the back of his neck.

“Hands up.”


“John, come inside.” Maggie opened the door all the way.

Hannibal strode in. Only a couple of table lamps illuminated the room. Just the kind of romantic lighting he normally liked here. But there wasn’t any romance in the air tonight. Maggie stood with her arms folded.

“You didn’t let me explain,” Maggie said, quietly.

“I’m…” Sorry? No, not sorry he’d walked away. He couldn’t have listened to anything she said then, he couldn’t have heard it. So he didn’t apologise. “I’m letting you explain now.”

She frowned at him, apparently not appreciating his harsh tone. Tough luck for her.

“John, why do you want to change what we have? It’s good the way things are, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is. But we can’t stay that way forever.”

“Why not?”

Hannibal stared at her. “Why not? Because… Well, well it’s supposed to go somewhere isn’t it? When two people are together, it’s supposed to lead to something.”

“And that something has to be marriage?”

“That’s what you girls usually seem to be steering us towards, yeah.”

“I’m not a girl,” she said, “I’ve not been a girl for a long time, and I’ve lived on my own for a long time.”

“If you’re gonna say you’re too old to change, well what does that make me? And I am ready to change. At least to give it a try. Look, if you don’t want to actually get married, if you’d prefer things more unofficial…”

“That’s not it either, John,” she said, shaking her head. “What we have has progressed. I used to see you a couple of times a year, now it’s every couple of days and that’s great. That works for me and I thought it worked for you too.”

“Maggie, if we stay as we are… If we’re not even thinking about taking it to another level, but we still share a bed sometimes. Well there’s a phrase for that, the young people use, and I really don’t think I can be that.”

“Friends with benefits?” Maggie said.

Hannibal had been thinking of a less polite phrase, but let it go. “Something like that.”

“And you can’t be that?”

“Not if I think you never want to be anything else.” He frowned and shook his head, not sure he could quite believe this. “Maybe I’m old fashioned, Maggie. Hell, I am old fashioned. I know I am.”

“I know.” Unconsciously she fiddled with a button of her pyjama top. “And I guess that means you might have changed some of your ideas of what I am.”

“What? No!” He protested.

“Then let it be, John. Why fix what isn’t broken?”

Hannibal scowled at the cliché, but wondered if she was right. What they had now, it worked. If he could learn to adjust his ideas to it being a permanent thing, rather than just the road to something else, then it could keep on working for a long time. He should be glad shouldn’t he? He’d always assumed that women wanted marriage, not men. He had a woman to share his bed with and he hadn’t had to marry her to get that. Didn’t they call that having your cake and eating it too? Hadn’t men been trying to achieve that for centuries?

So what made him insist on marriage? Old fashioned views, or something else? Some kind of security? To know that someone would be there for him as he got older? No, the team would be there for him, he knew he could rely on that. His age though. Maybe she’d started to notice it more.

“Is there anything else, Maggie? Any other reason?”

She looked away. “Just…” She stopped.

“My age?” He said and she turned back to him, a look of surprise on her face.

“What? Of course not. It’s, well…” she almost laughed for a moment. “You’re John. But I don’t want to be Yoko.”

“Yoko… Ono?” He smiled. “I think you’d have to be a little more Japanese to be Yoko.”

“No. If from now on when you say the word ‘us’, you mean you and me and not you and the team, then that makes me Yoko.”

“You think us being married would break up the team?” He laughed for real this time, but with more bitterness than amusement. “That may not be a problem any more.” He didn’t explain despite her questioning look.

“I’ve seen it happen, John. Right back to college days, groups of friends as close as brothers and sisters. Then they start to get serious girlfriends, boyfriends, fiancés and then the group is over. That’s the way it works, John and I don’t want to be the one who made it happen to the A-Team.” She finally came over to him and touched his arm. “You may not be the same team you once were, but you’ll always be a team, you’re family and family always comes first.”

“If you were my wife then you’d be family.”

“No, John, not really. You know that.”

He sighed and rested his hand over hers on his arm.

“I have to think about this, Maggie. I have to decide if this is something I can do.”

“Alright. You don’t have to go tonight, you can stay here.”

“No, I can’t. I need to think straight and with you right here, that’s pretty tough, I can tell you.”

He bent down and kissed her on the lips, just quickly and with mouths closed.

“I’ll call you when I’ve worked this out.”

He released her from his arms and walked to the door and out into the darkness.


Murdock woke with a start at the sound of a thump on the wall and heard Face call his name.

He reached the door to Face’s room in seconds, his pistol drawn. Face hadn’t sounded distressed, but even so, Murdock was cautious. He had Face’s room key, since Face never needed a key, so he unlocked the door and called softly.


“Come in, Murdock, it’s okay.”

Murdock came in, his gun still out, to find Face holding a man at gunpoint.

“What we got here?” Murdock closed the door behind him and turned on the light. What they had was a young man, with dark skin and black hair, dressed in a grubby shirt, jeans and sneakers.

“A thief, I think,” Face said. “Frisk him, Murdock.”

“I’m not a thief!” The young man protested, turning around, making Face and Murdock tense up. He started to put his hands down, but Face twitched his gun at him and he apparently thought better of it.

Murdock moved closer, cautiously. He spotted a short crowbar on the floor, that he assumed the intruder had already dropped on Face’s orders. He tossed that farther away and started to frisk the man. He was young, barely more than a boy, Murdock thought, perhaps seventeen or eighteen, and looked like a native, rather than Hispanic, or Mulatto.

“I’m not a thief,” the young man protested again. “I came to find you. You are the Americans. You look for the other American, Senor Farrell –”

“You know where he is?” Face snapped.

Murdock reached into the man’s pockets and pulled out a few local coins, and a photograph. He looked at the picture.

“No, I don’t know –”

Murdock grabbed the young man’s collar and hissed in his ear.

“You’re lying!” He held up the photograph of Charles Farrell and Dan Collins, so Face could see it. “And if you don’t know where he is, you sure as hell know where his wallet is, don’t you, sonny?” The picture was a little dog-eared around the edges, as if it had been kept in a wallet, carried around, taken out and put away again.

“No! I was his guide!” The man said, sounding panicked. “My name is Kusi. I can take you to where I last saw Senor Farrell.”

“For a fee, I’ll bet,” Face said. “Where’d you get the photo?”

“I found it, after he was gone.”

“And why are you dropping in on us at this hour?”

“Please can I put my arms down, sir? I am very tired.”

Face glanced at Murdock who nodded. Face gestured with his gun and Kusi lowered his arms with a sigh of relief.

“Answer me,” Face ordered. “Why sneak in here in the middle of the night?”

“I am afraid of the police. If they catch me they will make me say I did something bad to Senor Farrell!”

“And did you?” Face asked.

“No! He disappeared in the forest. I think he is a prisoner, I think bandits –”

“Any proof of that?” Face demanded.

“I saw their tracks,” Kusi said. “I know the forest.”

Face and Murdock exchanged a glance. Murdock shrugged.

“Kid is a guide, I guess,” Murdock said. “And he’s the only lead we’ve got.”

Face studied the young man intently for a moment, and then he lowered his gun.

“Okay, Murdock, get dressed, then come back in here. It’s after four now. Let’s get an early breakfast and get moving by first light.”

“Right.” Murdock got his own room key out of his pocket. “You want your room key back?”

“Murdock, I could pick that lock just by looking at it.”

Murdock grinned. “I’ll take that as a no. See you in a minute.” He hurried off to his room, suddenly rather conscious of the fact he wore only a pair of boxer shorts.

In his room he dressed, then grabbed his backpack and rifle. Carefully, he slipped the photograph he’d taken from Kusi into a waterproof pocket inside the backpack and returned to Face’s room.


“Face,” Murdock said, softly, so their guide couldn’t hear. “You get the feeling we’re being led somewhere?”

They’d been walking for at least three hours now. Water dripped from the canopy above, but it hadn’t rained yet.

“Um, leading us somewhere is the idea, Murdock.” Face said, glancing forward as Kusi moved ahead of them.

“No, I know, I mean, I’m not sure that we’re just being led to where Farrell vanished. This boy definitely knows more than he’s saying.”

Face nodded, agreeing completely. Once they’d left the town Kusi had lost his nervousness and become as relaxed and casual as a man strolling down his own street.

“Just stay on the alert, Murdock. I’m sure you’re right, there’s more going on than meets the eye, but we’ll find out soon enough. Watch our back trail.”

Murdock nodded and dropped back. After a moment, Face couldn’t hear him anymore. He glanced back. Murdock now moved with old stealth, learned long ago. They trudged on through the forest, sweating in the humid air.

In another thirty minutes, they reached the small clearing, where Kusi said Farrell had vanished. He said they’d camped for the night, after Farrell finished “making many notes in a book”, and planned to head back the next morning. But in the morning when Kusi woke, Farrell had gone.

Face and Murdock could certainly see evidence of people camping in the area. The remains of a fire, a few bits of litter. So there had to be a trail. Face ordered Murdock to search and he did the same. He told Kusi to stay where he was, in the middle of clearing and the boy stood there looking nervous.

“Face!” Murdock called as Face scanned the ground carefully. Face hurried over to find Murdock holding a pair of sunglasses. He recognised the expensive designer brand at once.

“Ooh, look, Watson, a clue,” Murdock said, his tone thick with cynicism. The two of them started to look around, at the ground, at the vegetation that grew on the trunks of the huge trees.

“A struggle, I think,” Face said, pointing to scuff marks on the ground. “Several people.”

“Leading off that way.” Murdock pointed. Kusi came up behind Murdock, moving silently. Murdock jumped but Face had heard him coming. He reached back and grabbed Kusi’s arm.

“Come on, you,” Face said, pulling Kusi along, not roughly, but firm enough to make it clear he wasn’t in the mood for any nonsense. “Murdock, I’m taking point. Keep him between us and keep an eye on him.”

“Senor Face,” Kusi said. “I can track –”

“I’m sure you can. So can I. Stay between us and speak when you’re spoken to, understand?” He made his voice harsh and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Murdock look a little shocked. Kusi looked intimidated and nodded. “Good. Let’s move out.”

Face knew what Hannibal would have said about the trail. Too easy. Face was a better tracker than Murdock, but he knew Murdock would have had no problem following it either. Especially as every few hundred yards, they found another little clue. A money clip with the initials CF engraved on it, a leather belt, a pen, and eventually, making Face groan, a Rolex watch.

He picked up the watch and held it to his ear. Silent. The damp must have seeped into the works. Now that just broke Face’s heart. He slipped it onto his wrist beside his own watch. Perhaps it could be repaired.

“Expensive trail of breadcrumbs we’re following, huh?” Murdock called.

Face gave a grim smile. He glanced back to see Kusi looking ahead of Face, his expression watchful.

“We’re close, aren’t we?” Face said to him.

Kusi stared at him, and then murmured softly, “Yes.” He looked away from Face.

Face unsung his rifle from his back. Murdock took the cue and did the same. Kusi’s eye’s widened.

“No,” he said. “Please, you don’t need to, no one will hurt you.” Murdock and Face looked at each other.

“Where are you taking us, Kusi?” Face asked. “Is Farrell there?”

“He is there. Please, you want to find him?”

Face looked at the boy, the sincere young face. What trap lay ahead of them in the forest? Whatever it was Kusi would step into it first. He put a hand on Kusi’s shoulder, made him take the lead.

“My rifle is pointing right at your back, so there’s any trouble you get it first.” He saw Murdock frown at him and frowned back. Surely Murdock could tell he was just tough talking? Just bluffing, like Hannibal would.

They moved on slowly and in a few minutes, the trees began to thin out. Face could hear movement around them, and looking back, he saw Murdock scanning around continually, following noise and movement in the shadows. But no attack came and they walked out from under the trees into a clearing.

The clearing held a village, very tiny, several huts, cooking fires, a few people milling around. They weren’t bandits, Face saw at once, just indigenous people. Not untouched by the outside world, a few wore T-Shirts, or jeans and some children played with a plastic ball. But apart from these few reminders of the world they’d come from Face felt he’d just stepped into another world.

They were expected. As they walked into the village, the children scattered to the huts, and men began to gather. Face glanced at them, looking for weapons. Some had knives visible. Face guessed there were more men around them, out of sight. Most of the ones gathering to greet them were older men, middle aged and elderly. The young men hid in the trees, Face guessed and wondered if they were armed with rifles or bows.

Kusi called out to the men and a couple of them stepped forward. One of them greeted him with an embrace. No wonder Kusi walked the forest like a man walked his own street, Face thought. He’d just led them to his home.

The guide and the other men talked in a language Face and Murdock couldn’t understand. It certainly wasn’t Portuguese. After a moment of this one of the older men sent one of the others scurrying off.

“Family reunion, kid?” Murdock asked as Kusi turned back to them. Kusi looked ashamed.

“I am sorry to lie. I had no choice. This is –”

And then Face stopped listening to him and had to suppress a grin, as three native men appeared leading a white man, his wrists bound together with rope.

Farrell. His blonde hair was lank and unwashed; his clothes were dirty, though his face and arms were clean. He had a small bruise on his cheek, but no other apparent injuries.

Farrell stared at Face and Murdock, and then he scowled.

“Oh great, now I’m really in trouble.”

Face’s hackles went up instantly.

“So we should just maybe turn around and leave you with these guys, huh?”

“You!” Farrell noticed Kusi. “I want my wallet back, right now, you thieving little bastard!”

“Farrell, shut the hell up!” Face demanded. He turned to Kusi. “Okay, what’s really going on here?”

Kusi turned to the older men and they spoke for a few moments, then Kusi turned back to Face and Murdock.

“Please, my father wants you to come and sit with us, to eat and drink. I will explain.”

Face glanced at Murdock, who still watched the surrounding forest suspiciously. But there didn’t seem any immediate prospect of attack. A few children had started to emerge from huts and approach the group, curious about the outsiders.

“Okay.” Face slung his rifle on his back. “He comes too.” He pointed at Farrell. “I want him where I can see him.”

They followed the villagers to one of their huts. It had a thick roof, but the walls were mostly netting. Face and Murdock knew the principle behind the design, from their days in another jungle. A roof to keep the heavy rain off, but no solid walls to trap in the hot damp air.

They sat on the floor, in a circle. The guards pushed Farrell to sit down, and untied his hands. He ignored the fruit served from a large flat basket and scowled around, rubbing his wrists.

“I mean it,” he said to Kusi again. “My wallet, now!”

“Shut up.” Face ordered him again. “Okay, we’re all cosy now, let’s hear it, Kusi.”

Kusi gave the scowling Farrell a scowl in return.

“This man came here to destroy us.”

Face and Murdock looked speculatively at Farrell

“I came to buy land,” Farrell said. “Which is owned by the Brazilian government, by the way, not by you.”

“It is our land! Our home!”

The other native men muttered darkly. Murdock spoke up.

“And what’s your plan for the land, Chuck? Something tells me we’re not talking about a nature preserve.”

For the first time Farrell looked a little uncomfortable.

“Look, we’re going to relocate the people, compensate them. That’s one of the things I came out here to negotiate.”

“Which means destroy their culture doesn’t it?” Murdock said. “That’s what ‘relocating’ a population actually means.”

“Oh you think they’re better off living in the jungle using stone tools I suppose?”

“That’s enough.” Face snapped, giving both Farrell and Murdock warning looks. He suspected Farrell thought he could say anything he liked, as the people didn’t understand him. All but one, and Face could see Kusi’s face flush darker by the moment.

“They want to cut down the trees,” Kusi said. “And grow beans to feed cows.”

Murdock gave a snort of disgust. “Typical –”

“Why kidnap him, Kusi?” Face asked, cutting Murdock off. “What did you think that would achieve?”

Kusi looked over at the older men, at the one he’d embraced earlier.

“My father is the head man of the village. He knows Farrell’s father is the head man of… Well he doesn’t understand what a company is really, but he says we will keep Senor Farrell here until his father comes and talks to us.” He looked away from Face.

“You know that’s not going to happen, don’t you?” Face asked, quietly. Kusi nodded.

“I know. But I can’t explain it to him. He says it’s worked before. But that was with other villages, other tribes. He doesn’t understand about your world.”

“And you do?”

Kusi nodded. “I went to a missionary school, the sisters taught me English.”

“Right,” Face said. “Teach you the Ten Commandments too, did they?”

“I know it’s wrong.” Kusi’s voice dropped so low Face doubted anyone else could hear. “But we have no choice.”

Face looked over at Farrell, sitting with his arms crossed on his knees now, his head down on his arms.

“Murdock,” Face said. “We need to talk.”

“Right.” Murdock scrambled up.

“We’re just going to talk this over, kid,” Face said to Kusi. “Give us a few minutes.”

Under the watchful eye of the elders and the curious eyes of the children Face and Murdock walked out of the house, over to an area away from any dwellings.

“We can take him right now,” Face said. “They don’t have guns. But I’d prefer to wait until dark, do it quiet. No sense in starting a fight.” He looked at Murdock who looked down, biting his lip. “What?”

“We’re just going to take him?” Murdock asked.

“That’s what we came here to do.”

“Yeah, but…”

Face sighed, at the agonised look on Murdock’s face.

“Look, I feel sorry for these people too, but we don’t have a choice here. If we don’t take Farrell back home we lose the business, simple as that.”

“But, Face –”

“Murdock, if we don’t take him what do you think happens next? With the influence his father has? You’d like to see a squad of commandos charging around this village would you?”

Murdock looked back at Face, frowned. “No, Face. No, I don’t want to see any commandos charging around this village.”

Face frowned back at him and then looked up as fat raindrops started to fall.

“Right. We’ll finagle an invite for an overnight stay and do it at three a.m. when there’s still enough dark left to give us time to get away and concealed. At first light we find our own trail and follow it back out of here. Okay?”

Murdock shrugged, and then nodded.

“Try and talk to Farrell if you can,” Face went on. “Tell him the plan, as long as you’re not being overheard. Make sure he’s fit to travel, make sure he’s had water.”

Murdock nodded again, still not speaking. Face didn’t mind that. He didn’t want to chat about it, he just wanted it done.

They went back to the gathering of elders and Face, with Kusi translating, announced that they would take the villager’s terms back to Farrell’s father and that he felt sure Mr Farrell would be willing to negotiate.

He heard Kusi’s voice falter and saw a suspicious on his face. They’d have to keep an eye on him. Farrell also glared suspiciously at them, though he didn’t protest either.

“Can you guide us back today?” Face asked Kusi, hoping that the elders wouldn’t send them out into the rain that pounded on the roof in a torrent. And then with luck the rain would last until night fell.

When Kusi translated Face’s request the older men at protested at once and Face smiled at Kusi’s next words.

“The elders want you to stay as our guests until it is safe to travel.”

“We’d be honoured,” Face said, and Murdock scowled.


After a dinner of roast meat and various fruits, none of which Face and Murdock recognised, the men all sat around, smoking pipes Murdock fished in his pack for a while, and then edged over to Farrell, who sat staring into the crackling fire.

“Hey, Charles, how’re you feeling?”

Farrell didn’t look at him. “I’ve not had a shower for ten days, except for the damn rain. How do you think I feel?”

“Face has your watch,” Murdock said. Farrell shrugged. Murdock offered him a candy bar, but Farrell shook his head. He did take the water bottle Murdock handed him and drank most of it quickly.

“Oh and I took this off Kusi.” Murdock held up the photograph of Farrell and Collins. “Think he was using it to prove they had you.”

For the first time Murdock saw Farrell smile. He took the photograph.

“I thought it was… Thanks, Murdock.”

“S’okay.” Murdock looked at the picture in the dim firelight. “You’re both real young there.” He offered the candy bar again, Farrell took it this time, tore it open with his teeth.

“Just after General Stockwell recruited us.” He smiled again. “Being in the CIA had been an eye-opener, but Stockwell’s organisation…” He laughed. “Like finding out about a whole other world.”

“You’re not kidding,” Murdock said. He glanced around to make sure nobody could hear them. He leaned closer to Farrell. “Are you fit to travel? Any injuries?”

Farrell’s face showed no reaction to Murdock’s words, he kept on looking at the picture.

“I’m fine. When?”

“Three o’clock.”

“Okay.” Farrell gave a tiny nod. “See that small hut behind this one? I’m in there. One guard, short watches, changes every couple of hours.”

“Right. Try to sleep till we come for you.”

Farrell snorted. “Yeah, I’m sure I’ll sleep like a baby.”

Murdock frowned, not liking his tone.

“Just be ready, Farrell.”


Face glanced at his watch. Two fifty five. The other watch he wore, Farrell’s, still showed eleven fifteen. It just needed a dramatic crack across its face and it would be the ultimate mystery story clue, Face thought. He waited, his pack on his back.

Murdock had already moved off to get into position. He’d barely spoken when Face gave him his orders, just a couple of grunts. Dammit, Face thought, does he think I like this any more than he does? But I can’t let Hannibal and BA down. If they lost the business, they lost the money they’d invested in it. A few more months and Face thought they could start seeing a nice profit, but until then the business was everything they had.

What could they do for these people anyway? The government wanted to sell the land to a multinational corporation. What could Face and Murdock do about that? Some enemies were too big for a couple of guys with rifles to fight. Especially a couple of guys who were usually only bluffing when they pointed those rifles.

Time. Face rose. He and Murdock had been given a hut to themselves to spend the night. Face moved to push aside the canvas flap that served as a door. The village huts stood dark and silent. A few times earlier in the night, babies had cried, but right now all the humans slept. The animals in the dark didn’t. They hissed and clicked and buzzed and growled out there in the trees, waiting for Face, Murdock and Farrell to join them in the hot, damp darkness.

Face drifted through the dark, approaching Farrell’s hut from the rear. A soft whistle made him look over to see Murdock, who signalled to the front of it to confirm the guard was in place. Face nodded and headed around the opposite side of the hut. It was more a shack, very small. Unlike most the other buildings it had wooden walls, but hastily and shoddily constructed by the look of it, gaps visible between warped planks. A swift kick would probably knock the thing over.

Face froze suddenly as he heard voices. The guard’s relief coming? No… He looked around, no one approached and Murdock hadn’t signalled. He realised that the voices came from inside. Someone was in there with Farrell. Face grimaced. Don’t say he’d got himself a girlfriend down here too.

Well, he’d deal with that in a second. The guard first. Face took him out easily, emerging from the side of the shack to fell the guard with one punch.

“Glass jaw,” Face muttered, checking the man to find him out cold. Murdock appeared and Face pointed at the door.

“At least one in with him,” Face whispered. Murdock nodded, his expression serious.

Face examined the door. No lock, just a very basic latch. He gave Murdock a count of three with his fingers, three two one, lifted the latch and shoved the door back, pointing his rifle into the interior.

A small electric lantern illuminated the interior, showing up Farrell, sitting on a couple of blankets on the floor and crouched opposite him, Kusi. Kusi turned, staring in shock at Face, and so he didn’t see Farrell’s fist coming at him. He hit the ground in a heap. Face winced.

“Sorry, kid,” he sighed. “Okay, move it, Farrell, keep quiet.” Farrell scrambled up and the two of them hurried from the hut. Face took the lead, Murdock the rear, heading out of the village, the same way they’d come in. Face planned to get deep into the trees and hole up until first light. He hoped they’d be hidden before anyone noticed they’d gone, so he groaned in dismay when he heard a yell from behind them, when they had just barely reached the trees.

“Move it,” he ordered. “Fast.” They ran, Face still leading, Farrell behind him, keeping pace easily, Murdock following. Their pace increased when arrows began to zip through the trees.

“Shit!” Farrell gasped.

“Fire into the air, Murdock,” Face ordered and a second later Murdock’s rifle crackled. The arrows stopped, yells broke out from behind them, quickly retreating from Murdock’s warning shots. Face sighed with relief and slowed his pace slightly; fearing one of them could fall.

“Keep going, got to find somewhere to keep our heads down for a couple of hours.”

A few minutes later, they crouched in the shelter of some giant tree buttresses. Face took guard duty, watching the shadows. Murdock handed around water.

“What the hell are you guys doing here, anyway?” Farrell asked testily. “Why would my father hire you of all people?”

“We’re rescuing you in exchange for the deed to the land our business is built on,” Murdock said, scowled at Farrell. “You know, the one you bought just to throw us off of.”

“Oh your little terrorist training camp?” Farrell said, as if his latest act of nastiness against the team had slipped his mind. “So Dad isn’t even really paying you?” He smirked. “Tight bastard.”

“He’s paying our expenses,” Face said.

“Well I hope you’re saving your receipts.”

He shut up then and sat with his back against the tree trunk, eyes closed. Face caught Murdock’s eye and got a blank look in return. Sulking, Face thought. He sighed and went back to guard duty.

Part 4

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.

“Murdock –”

“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.

“Something wrong?”

“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.

“No, wait.”

“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.

“Us? Face?”

“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.”

Face grinned.

“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.’


Part 5

Murdock woke to daylight stabbing hatefully through the thin curtains. He groaned and cursed the obnoxiously loud rain he could hear outside. He crawled to the shower and gritted his teeth against the Niagara Falls-like racket of water on tiles as he washed away a spider that was giving him a funny look. Once the water warmed up he got in and, while fending off the shower curtain’s continual attempts to molest him, he thought it strange that the shower had appeared to be a dribble yesterday, but this morning the pounding water seemed to be trying to batter him to death.

He finished showering and dried off with a thin towel, which made him sure he now knew what it felt like to be given a brisk rubdown with sandpaper.

With no goal in his mind now but coffee and plenty of it, Murdock struggled into his clothes and left his room. For a moment, he considered knocking for Face but decided to let him sleep. He glanced over to see the door to Farrell’s room propped open by a housekeeping cart. Farther down the hall, he passed Nash’s room and noticed the “Make Up Room” sign hanging on the door handle. Murdock figured that meant both his drinking buddies must be on the same quest for coffee as him. He hoped Amy would be downstairs too though, as he’d prefer her company over breakfast than Farrell and Nash’s.

Five minutes later, he walked into the empty restaurant and frowned around.

“Where the heck is everybody?” He’d just started to wonder if everybody but him had vanished off the face of the earth when a waiter came in and smiled politely at him.

“Good morning, sir,” he said, in careful English. “What can I get for you?”

“Some kind of proof that I’m not in the Twilight Zone would be good.”

The waiter frowned. “Coffee?” He sounded like a man reading an internal script.

“Yeah. I mean, in a minute.” Murdock had a nervous feeling suddenly. “I’ll be back.” He told the waiter who looked like he was foundering now.


Murdock left and set off upstairs to the bedrooms again. Then he stopped and came back down to the reception desk and banged the bell.



Five minutes later he was pounding Face’s door, and getting no answer. Muttering he took Face’s room key from his pocket and opened the door. He peered around it, listening for the shower running, assuming that was probably why Face couldn’t hear him, but he heard only silence. Murdock slipped inside and let the door close behind him. He looked around, assessing the room. The drapes were open and watery sunlight spilled into the room. The bed was made and Murdock studied it for a moment. Made by housekeeping or by Face? Looked more hotel style than military style.

This is too weird, Murdock thought. Where the heck would Face be if not here or in the restaurant? Does this place have a swimming pool I don’t know about? Not that Murdock could imagine Face taking an early morning swim without Hannibal applying a rocket to his butt.

“What the hell is going on?”

He crossed to the phone and dialled. “Miss Allen’s room, please.”

The phone rang. Murdock opened the drawer of the nightstand as he waited. Face’s pistol sat there on top of some paper. He closed the drawer as Amy’s sleepy voice came on the line.

“Amy, it’s Murdock, are you okay?”

“What? Yes. What?”

“Sorry I woke you up, Amy, but we’ve got some trouble, and I can’t find Face –”

“Face?” Amy said and Murdock heard a voice, someone in the room with Amy.

“What?” The voice was muffled and Amy made a shushing noise straight away, but Murdock recognised it.

He stood up, still holding the phone. Okay, he thought, don’t start. It’s none of my business and there’s no time. He bit his lip and spoke, his voice chilly.

“Amy, could you please ask Face to come up here to his room right away? Farrell’s gone.”


Face walked into his room ten minutes later to find Murdock in there, pacing.

“What the hell do you mean, Farrell’s gone?” Face asked.

Murdock scowled. Face’s hair was still wet and he wore the same clothes as he’d had on last night, rather rumpled.

“Gone as in gone. He’s checked out and so’s Nash.”

“What?” Face stared. “Shit, you don’t think –?”

“I just called over to the airfield. They took off at six a.m. heading for Manaus.”

“Dammit!” Face grabbed his bag and started stuffing clothes and belongings into it. “He’s heading home! He’s going back under his own steam and you know if he does that his dad is going to welch on the deal!” As he packed, he frowned at Murdock. “Have you got your stuff ready to go?”

“Yeah,” Murdock said. “So, what happened to you keeping an eye on him last night?”

Face stiffened at Murdock’s question. “That’s none of your business, Murdock.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes, really.” Face held Murdock’s frowning gaze. “And has it occurred to you that if you hadn’t got him all rattled last night that this might not have happened?”

Murdock dropped his gaze. That could be true, he thought. He may have gone too far.

“Okay, well, forget last night. What now? We’re going after him?”

“If we don’t arrive back in LA with him, on the same plane, I know his dad will find a way to screw us over.”

Murdock nodded. “Okay, I’ll go call the airfield, to get the chopper ready. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He walked to the door, and then glanced back. “Give you time to get changed.”

The withering look Face gave him made Murdock retreat hastily. He went back to his room and picked up the phone then hesitated a moment. They’d need to tell Amy they were going, he thought. She’d likely want to stay here to do the story anyway. But then he frowned and dialled the number for the airfield. Face could go tell Amy. He knew where her room was.


Face and Murdock left Amy at the hotel to await her camera crew and set out in their helicopter for Manaus. They were nearly four hours behind Farrell, so Face just hoped that the jet would have to wait a while for a take off slot. If they got there to find it already gone then everything would be over. The business lost, their money lost and Face would have to go back and look Hannibal in the eye and admit he’d failed.

Hannibal would probably say not to worry. That Face had done his best. What worried Face most was that this was the truth.

Murdock barely spoke the whole way to the city. He had a grim look of concentration on his face, very unlike the usual happy expression he wore when flying. He responded to attempts at conversations with grunts and hums and then clammed up.

Face didn’t care. He didn’t want to talk and was quite happy to let Murdock sulk. He wondered about it though, about the motivation behind Murdock’s anger. Would he be this mad if Face had simply slept through Farrell’s sneaking off? Could it be about Amy? Did he disapprove? Was he jealous? The two of them had sometimes discussed Amy’s looks, but Face had never got the impression that Murdock had any interest in her beyond normal appreciation of a good-looking woman. Murdock would have told him if he’d been carrying a torch for Amy, wouldn’t he?

Disapproval then? But why? Amy hadn’t been on the team for years. Both she and Face were free agents. Face frowned and flicked Murdock an annoyed look. Maybe he thought Face wouldn’t treat her right. Maybe he thought Face had seduced her and would act like a jerk to her now. Is that what he believes I’m like? Face thought. No, surely he can’t think that.

Face sighed and then suppressed a yawn. Murdock glanced at him.

“Didn’t get much sleep last night, huh?” He had just enough of an edge of sarcasm in his voice to make Face bristle.

Face hadn’t got much sleep, no. And Murdock could shut the hell up, because it was none of his business and anyway he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about and why the hell couldn’t Murdock shut up about it?

Because Face would burn in hell before he told Murdock he had absolutely no reason to be jealous.


Murdock ran to a coffee shop in the airport terminal, where Face waited for him, pacing up and down.

“Well?” Murdock demanded, out of breath. “Is the plane gone?”


Murdock gave a sigh of relief. “Great!” He laughed. “I ran into the agency and pretty much just threw the chopper’s keys and the paperwork at them and ran out. They must have thought I was nuts!” He picked up his bag from the floor. “We going aboard? Where’s Farrell?”

“I don’t know,” Face said. “He’s not here and neither is the pilot. The plane is still parked, or whatever you call it. Nobody’s asked for a take off slot for it.”

Murdock frowned. “Could he be taking a commercial flight?” He looked over at the departure boards.

“Why would he?” Face said. “When he’s got an executive jet at his disposal.”

Murdock sighed and put his bag down again.

“Okay. Leads? Have you talked to the pilot?”

“I called his hotel.” Face nodded out of the windows. “It’s just over the road there. He’s still checked in, but they wouldn’t put me through, said he’d told them he wasn’t taking any calls this afternoon.”

“Right,” Murdock said. “So we’re going to pay him a personal visit?”

Face nodded. “That’s the plan. Holly the flight attendant is checked in there too. It’s possible Farrell’s contacted her even if he hasn’t spoken to the pilot. No reply from her room though.”

“Why would he contact her and not the pilot?” Murdock asked, puzzled.

Face just made a disgusted expression. “Never mind, let’s just get over there. If they know nothing we go find Nash.”

The look in his eyes suggested to Murdock that Nash wouldn’t enjoy the meeting.


The jet’s pilot had given his hotel room number to Face and Murdock before they had left Manaus, so they went straight up there.

“Nicer hotel than ours,” Murdock said, glancing around at the well-maintained décor. So bland though, he thought. They could be anywhere in the world.

“Here, four-sixteen.” Ignoring the Do Not Disturb sign, Face tapped on the door. After a moment, he knocked a lot harder.

A few seconds later an irate looking man with messy hair, wearing only his pants opened the door.

“What the hell do you –? Oh!” His expression changed to astonishment. “Mr Peck, Mr Murdock!”

“Hey, Jack,” Murdock said, with a smile.

Face kept scowling. “Has Farrell contacted you?”

“What? Mr Farrell? Junior? I thought you were bringing him –”

“Jacky, what’s going on?” A voice from in the room called. A female voice that Face and Murdock recognised. A moment later Holly the cabin crew appeared behind Jack wearing a hotel bathrobe. She gasped and hurried away out of sight.

Jack glared at Face as if wondering if he wanted to make something of it. Murdock guessed being interrupted had not put him in the best mood. Face didn’t say anything about Holly though.

“So he’s not contacted you? You’ve not had orders to prepare the jet or anything?”

“No. Look, what’s going on?”

Face and Murdock looked at each other, baffled, and then Murdock looked back at Jack.

“Sorry to bother you, and erm… Yeah. Okay, well, you just wait for us. Hopefully we’ll be back again soon.”

“If Farrell does show up,” Face said, “how about you try and keep him here till we arrive?”

“Sure, and how about I guarantee I get fired and never work again?” Jack asked, pulling a sour face.

A bit too much to expect Murdock thought. He pulled Face away, seeing they weren’t getting anything useful here. Face strode off towards the elevators and they heard the door slam behind them.

“Who’d have thought it, huh?” Murdock chuckled. “Can’t blame the girl of course. I mean, pilots are sexy, there’s no getting away from it.”

“Murdock, please, I’m trying to think.”

He continued to think all the way back down to the lobby, glowering at the elevator doors. When the elevator reached the lobby floor Face walked off so fast that Murdock almost had to run to keep up with him. In a second, they were back on the street and Face looked around for a moment, orienting himself.

“Right,” he said. “Nash. We’ll get his address from the chopper rental agency.”

At the agency a suave looking clerk, who Murdock thought looked like either a gigolo or a tango champion, greeted them.

“We need to talk to Dick Nash,” Face said.

“Mr Nash? But he is not here.”

“Well where can we find him?” Murdock asked, hoping that Nash had only gone home and not onto another job.

“Mr Nash is upriver, with a client.”

“No, he was,” Face snapped. “He came back. Check your damn records.”

The clerk frowned, apparently not appreciating being barked at.

“Mr Nash did come back earlier. He refuelled and then left again, about an hour ago.”

Face and Murdock stared at him.

“With the same client?” Murdock asked. “Mr Farrell?”

“Yes, how do you –?”

“His flight plan,” Face said, his voice urgent. “What’s his flight plan? Where’s he going?”

“I cannot –” the clerk began and stopped as Murdock slapped down several banknotes on the counter. He glanced over his shoulder then leaned forward.

“The same town he was in before. He went back to the same place.”

Murdock took his hand away from the notes and the clerk made them disappear. Murdock nodded at him.

“Thanks.” Then he turned, staring, when he heard the door bang shut. Face had gone. Murdock smiled and shook his head and turned back to the clerk to start arranging to rehire their helicopter. After a moment he heard the door open and close more quietly and glanced back to see Face come in looking sheepish.

Face dropped his bag, sat on a plastic chair in the waiting area and folded his arms. Murdock raised his eyebrows in a questioning look.

“Yeah.” Face said, scowling. “Helicopter. I knew that.”


Amy watch the helicopter descend out of the darkness to touch down at the tiny airfield. She ran towards it as Face and Murdock climbed out. Murdock scowled around as the airfield employee hurried over.

“You call these floodlights? News for you pal, floodlights should flood the area with light. This is barely a puddle!” Clearly, he’d not enjoyed the landing. Looking at Face, Amy thought that Murdock could have used the flames shooting from Face’s eyes to illuminate the field.

“Guys! What’s going on?” She asked Face as he heaved their bags out. “Farrell turned up again. He came to my room.”

“What?” Face stopped, dropping his bag. “What did he want? Did he bother you? When I get my hands on him!”

“No, nothing like that. He said I should come to the village, when I had my camera crew, if I still wanted a story.”

She’d volunteered to go with him then and there, but he’d laughed and said: “And have Peck and Murdock think I kidnapped you? I don’t think so.”

“Where is he now?” Face asked, taking Amy’s arm and heading off the field. Murdock hurried after them.

“He left nearly two hours ago now, before dark. I followed him to the edge of town.”

“Amy!” Face and Murdock said together. She looked at them crossly.

“Don’t look at me like that! I just wanted to see if he met up with anyone. But he went into the jungle alone.”

“Farrell’s dangerous,” Face said. He glanced at Murdock who shrugged. Amy knew she’d never heard the full story of the origin of Farrell’s grudge against the team. She’d tried to winkle it out of them more than once, but no luck so far.

“I know he was in the CIA,” Amy said, as they arrived at the hotel. “That’s on the record.”

“It’s what’s off the record that’s the good bit,” Murdock said.

“But we don’t have time to explain it now.” Face said, making Amy frown. “We have to get after him.”

“Whoa!” Murdock said at once. “Hold up, Face. It’s pitch black out there. Farrell’s not going anywhere and we know where he is. We can’t go blundering into the jungle in the dark. We’d never pick up the trail.”

“Murdock, that’s not a trail any more, it’s a damn six lane highway.” Face snapped. “And we’ve been in the jungle in the dark plenty.”

“And I can remember getting lost a few times then too.” Murdock met Face’s glare.

“Murdock’s right,” Amy said, putting a hand on Face’s arm. “We should wait until the morning.”

“We?” Face asked.

“He told me to come to the village,” Amy said. “He invited me in fact.”

“I don’t care,” Face said, “You’re not coming.”

Murdock had turned away to the reception desk. Now he glanced back at the two of them. Face stared hard at Amy, but she met his gaze and determined she wouldn’t back down.

“Face, if you don’t take me, I’ll find a guide to.”

“Amy, I’m telling you, Farrell is unpredictable and dangerous.”

“Then tell me why,” she demanded. Face looked at Murdock, who shrugged again.

“Murdock,” Face said, his voice weary now. “You can tell her everything she needs to know, about Farrell, about Colombia. I don’t care about that any more. We’ll go after him in the morning.” He picked up the key the night manager had placed on the desk and walked off up the stairs, head down.

Amy looked at Murdock, expectant and he smiled back weakly.

“Nightcap, Amy?”


Face wasn’t surprised to find Amy dressed for a hike when they all had breakfast early the next morning. Getting up at dawn hadn’t fooled her and he wished he hadn’t bothered. He could have used another couple of hours rest.

“Murdock explained everything,” Amy said as she poured Face a coffee when he joined her and Murdock at the table. “About what happened in Colombia. He thinks Farrell never got over seeing his friend shot.” Murdock nodded in agreement. “He thinks Farrell’s having some kind of emotional crisis and –-”

Face snorted. “Farrell’s a coward, who’s afraid of the responsibility of being a father.”

Murdock and Amy looked at each other.

“Face,” Murdock said, “I’ve talked to the guy. He’s got more complicated stuff going on than that. I think he really hates his job and –-”

“Well he should tell his father where to stick the job then.”

“I think that’s kind of what he’s doing,” Murdock said.

The three fell silent, eating their breakfast. After a while Amy cleared her throat, glanced at Face and then at Murdock.

“Murdock, if he never got over what he saw, do you think he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?”

Murdock shrugged. “If that’s a label you like, then sure, whatever. I suppose it’s what my old docs at the VA would call it.”

“Well what would you call it?” Amy asked.

“Same as my grandmother would have,” Murdock said. “A broken heart.”

“Murdock, enough of the folk wisdom please,” Face said, frowning at him. “I don’t care if Farrell needs a group hug or a straight jacket. We need to get him back to LA. The fact he’s gone mad is not my problem.” He shoved his chair back and stood up. “Everybody who’s coming meet me in the lobby in thirty minutes.” He strode off feeling their stares boring into him.

He didn’t care. What Farrell did afterwards was not Face’s problem. Saving the team’s business was Face’s problem. If he had to, he’d carry Farrell back to LA in a sack.


“Any sign of Nash?” Murdock asked when they gathered in the lobby. “He might be able to tell us what Farrell got up to in Manaus.”

“He didn’t check in here,” Amy said, adjusting her backpack. “But I didn’t see him with Farrell when he went into the jungle.”

“He could have gone on ahead,” Murdock said. “Or maybe he’s just lying low.” He nodded, agreeing with himself. “I think he’s lying low.”

Though he agreed with Murdock, Face didn’t answer. He crouched down, adjusting his boots, making sure the cushioned insoles were correctly positioned. He would catch hell from his podiatrist after this. He sighed. He lived in Hollywood. He should have a chiropractor, or an analyst, or a personal astrologer, not a podiatrist, like an old lady.

Sensing someone’s gaze on him, he glanced up to see Amy looking down at him sympathetically. She knew now, about Albania, about what Sevchenko had done to them there. About Sevchenko. Face shoved the image of the demon face away at once. No time for that.

There’d been time enough when he’d lain in her arms. Not like a man with a woman, but feeling like a child with a mother, as he’d told her all of it. Told her how much pain he still carried.

There’d been time enough because he couldn’t do anything else. They’d kissed and slowly undressed and touched each other and then… nothing. And she’d been so kind about it and said not to worry; he was tired and a little drunk. It was fine.

It was not fine and it had nothing to do with being tired or drunk. It had everything to do with Albania. He knew that because back in Vietnam, after the camps, it had been the same. He’d not felt like a real man for months.

He’d thought things were getting better. He’d had a few dates the last few weeks and there’d not been a problem. Why now? Why with Amy of all people? All those years she must have wondered about him and he couldn’t even…

Face shook himself and dismissed it as best he could. There’d be a next time. They’d get all this Farrell business sorted out and then he would take Amy somewhere nice, maybe even for a cosy weekend away, and prove to her that he was still a man. If she would go with him.

“Okay.” Face straightened up and spoke to his small team. “Move out.”


Murdock led the way through the jungle and though six-lane highway might be an exaggeration, he had no trouble following the trail.

“Whoever else came this was carrying something.” He pointed at a rectangle of flattened grass. “Some kind of boxes or crates.”

“Supplies of some kind?” Amy said, slightly out of breath.

“Yeah,” Face said, in a cynical tone. “Some kind.”

Murdock glanced back at both of them. Both were as drenched with sweat as Murdock was. The heat and humidity was oppressive right now and Murdock longed for the rain to clear the air.

Whenever they stopped for a break, Face fidgeted. And Murdock saw that Amy noticed that too and gave Face worried glances. Face didn’t talk to her much. But he didn’t talk to Murdock much either. He wants this over and done, Murdock thought. Every moment longer makes him more afraid he’s going to let us down. Let Hannibal down. He’d taken on the exact same kind of focus Hannibal had when on a mission. But that meant he wore the same blinkers too.

They finally approached the village in the early afternoon. Clouds had started to gather and the atmosphere felt smothering. Face wanted Amy to stay outside of the village while they checked things out. Murdock could have told him not to waste his time. A real reporter didn’t wait to be told when to come in.

So after a brief argument, the three of them emerged cautiously from the trees. They bunched close, protecting Amy, Face and Murdock with their rifles ready.

The village was quiet this time, no sounds of people, no children running around. Face and Murdock exchanged a look and a quick shrug, and then Face stepped forward, leaving Murdock sticking close to Amy.

“Farrell!” Face called. “Where are you?”

After a long moment of silence, two men stepped out of the doorway of a hut. Farrell, wearing only jeans, bare-chested and barefoot. Kusi stood beside him in native clothes, only a loincloth.

Both of them carried rifles.

Kusi shouted something and with a rushing, rustling sound, more men emerged from the trees. Not carrying bows and arrows this time, but more rifles. A couple of them started to raise the rifles, but Kusi snapped an order and they lowered them slowly. Neither he nor Farrell pointed their rifles at Face’s party.

“Lieutenant.” Farrell said. “You brought Miss Allen. Good. No camera crew?”

“They’ll be here soon,” Amy said.

“What’s going on, Farrell?” Face demanded.

“It’s very simple,” Farrell said. “This village is now under my protection. If anyone comes here to throw these people off their land, they’ll have to do it over my dead body.”

Face, Murdock and Amy stared at Farrell for a long time. Amy moved first, reaching into a pocket to pull out a notebook. Face turned to look at her.

“Well, is it a big enough story for you now, Amy?”


Right after nine a.m., the double doors of Thomas Farrell’s office slammed back and Hannibal and BA marched in. A dawn raid was more to Hannibal’s taste, BA knew, but at dawn only the security staff would have been here. Nine a.m. was the nearest to a dawn raid they could manage in office hours.

As he followed Hannibal into the room, BA stared around at the ostentatious décor. He glared at the pale blue carpet and wondered how much it cost every week to clean that ridiculous thing and imagined how many books he could buy for his youth centre kids with that money.

“Colonel Smith,” Thomas Farrell said, looking up from behind his desk. “Did we have an appointment?”

“We’ve got one now.” Hannibal strode up to the desk. “Right, you –” he broke off and BA saw why when, like Hannibal, he noticed the young woman sitting in a chair on this side of the desk. She stared up at them, her right hand rested on her obviously pregnant stomach.

“Um, excuse me, ma-am,” Hannibal said, “I didn’t see you.”

“Gentlemen, my daughter in law, Eleanor Farrell. Eleanor, this is Colonel Smith and Sergeant Baracus. Friends of Lieutenant Peck’s.”

Eleanor’s presence took the wind out of Hannibal’s sails, BA noticed. When he spoke again he certainly wasn’t raging to the same extent he had been on the way over here.

“Okay, excuse me, Mrs Farrell for busting in,” Hannibal said, looking at her then turning back to Thomas. “But we want to know if you’ve got any news.”

BA nodded. His last phone call from Murdock had come during the night and, fast asleep, he’d not heard the phone ring. This morning he’d listened to the very odd message Murdock had left on his answering machine.

Farrell had said he didn’t want to come back, Murdock said, but then he’d run off to Manaus and Face and Murdock had gone after him, but then they found out he’d gone back to the jungle. So they’d come back upriver and now him and Face and Amy were going into the jungle after him. BA had rewound that last part and listened again. Yes, the fool definitely said Amy. What the heck was Amy doing there?

“Why do you think I would have more news than you have?” Thomas asked.

“Because guys like you always take out insurance,” Hannibal said. “And I’ll bet you’ve got some way of getting information about what’s happening.”

“I don’t know anything.” Thomas frowned. “Would you please leave, I’m talking with my daughter in law.”

BA looked at Eleanor, who took out a handkerchief and wrung it in her hands. She looked up at Hannibal, a pleading look in her eyes.

“Colonel Smith, do you think your friends can bring back Charles?”

“I’m sure they’ll do their best,” Hannibal said.

“I’m so worried about him. He’s not been himself you see. Acting so strangely, for weeks now. I’m so worried he’s done something foolish.” She dabbed at her eyes.

BA saw Hannibal look very uncomfortable. A crying woman fazed even Hannibal. But BA looked closer than Hannibal did. She dabbed at her eyes, but the handkerchief stayed dry.

“My men are the best,” Hannibal went on, in a rare reassuring tone. “If anyone can bring him back, they can.” He paused for a second. “Even if he doesn’t want to come back,” he added, thinking, BA assumed, of the answering machine message BA had played for him.

Thomas scowled at Hannibal. “Why on earth would he not come back?”

“Face can find him and bring him back.” Hannibal asserted again, looking at Thomas now. “What happens then is between you two.”

“Yes, it is.” Thomas rose. “So if we’re quite done here…”

“If you hear anything you’d better let us know,” Hannibal said. Thomas inclined his head.

“Of course. There’s no reason for us to be enemies over this, Colonel Smith. I’m waiting for the return of my son; you’re waiting for the return of your men. There is no need for us to keep secrets from each other.” He held out his hand and after a moment, Hannibal took it and shook it before pulling away quickly.

“Let’s go, BA,” Hannibal said, stepping back from the desk. “Mrs Farrell.” He nodded to her and turned to walk out. BA gave Thomas a goodbye glare and looked at Eleanor.

“Try not to worry,” he said to her. He didn’t think she needed that advice, but his mother would expect him to say it anyway.


Face and Murdock sat in a corner of the same large hut they’d been taken into on their first visit to the camp. In the centre of the room, Farrell sat cross-legged on the floor, the village elders ranged behind him and Kusi sitting beside him. Amy sat in front of him, talking to him and taping the interview with a hand held recorder.

Face glanced over at the group and frowned. He’d only just noticed that Farrell had a large black spiral shape, a fresh tattoo, on his chest. The native men had similar tattoos, several different ones in some cases.

“He’s really lost it.” Face turned back to Murdock, shaking his head. “Gone totally native. The pants will go next.”

“What now, Face?” Murdock asked.

“What do you mean, what now?” Face frowned at Murdock, “Nothing’s changed. We get him out of here, if we have to truss him up to do it.”

“I think a few things have changed,” Murdock said, glancing outside to the native men walking around carrying rifles.

Face snorted and rolled his eyes. “Murdock, they held those rifles for the first time yesterday. Why do I think they may not be crack shots yet?”

“Close enough range nobody has to be a crack shot.”

Face didn’t answer that, he looked outside at the gun toting men.

“How’d he pick up the guns so quick, anyway?” Murdock said. “Think he’s got some kind of contact in Manaus?”

“More likely Nash has,” Face answered. “Probably why he kept out of our way back in town. Okay, Murdock, when it goes down you’ll be looking after Amy, I’ll deal with Farrell.”

“Face.” Murdock shook his head. “Face, are you going to listen to me? Are you sure you want to do this? Are you sure we should do this?”

“Should? Of course we should!” Face started to get ticked off with Murdock questioning his orders.

“So we should attack him, tie him up and drag him out of here against his will? And can you explain to me exactly how that makes us the good guys?”

Murdock’s sarcastic tone infuriated Face and he struggled to keep his voice down.

“I’ve about had it with you defending Farrell, Murdock. Why the hell are you –?”

“Because he’s in pain!” Murdock’s fury forced its way out in a hiss. “He’s a human being and he’s in pain. Yeah he’s also a pain in the ass, but that doesn’t make it okay to do what the hell we like to him. Look, Face, I don’t like the guy, but I think I understand him, you know and we –”

“I don’t –”

“I’m not done!” Murdock said a bit too loud, making the others look over at him. Farrell and Amy turned back to their interview after a moment. Kusi kept on watching Face and Murdock. Murdock looked thoughtful for a while, as if picking his words with great care. Face waited and finally Murdock took a breath and went on.

“Okay. We played a part in the events that caused his pain. And I for one do not want to play any part in making it worse.”

“So what you’re saying is, it’s my fault Collins got killed.”

“Responsibility and fault aren’t the same thing,” Murdock said, “I’m just saying that we –”

“Forget the ‘we’ stuff, Murdock. Collins got his head blown off when I was in command. I’m responsible for that.”

“Lamba was responsible for that,” Murdock said, shaking his head, “he pulled the trigger.”

“Then what, Murdock?” I’m either responsible or I’m not. If I am then you’re right, I owe Farrell. If I’m not, then I don’t owe him anything. Which is it?”

Murdock looked back at him, held his gaze for a long time.

“You tell me, Face.”

Face looked away, gazing out past the buildings into the forest.

“I’m just trying to focus on the mission,” Face said, in a near whisper. “The way Hannibal would. The way he taught me.” If he started to question his own choices, he knew his old self-doubt would creep in. Second-guessing himself had always been his long suit.

“Face,” Murdock said, in a soft, almost gentle voice. “You’re not Hannibal.”

Face looked down. No, he wasn’t Hannibal. Hannibal would have fixed this mess days ago.

“Do you know what will happen to Farrell if we take him back now?” Murdock said. “Talking the way he is? With that bit of graffiti on his chest?”

Not a real question, Face realised, rhetorical. He looked back at Murdock, waiting for the answer.

“How hard do you think it would be for his father to find a couple of tame doctors to sign commitment papers? Rich people get very nervous when their kids start acting funny about money, start acting like there’s more important things in life. I mean only crazy people think there are things more important than money, right?”

Face looked over at Farrell and back at Murdock.

“There’s not a lot he can do about the graffiti now.”

“No, but the talk, well maybe that kind of talk isn’t as crazy down here as it sounds in LA. Maybe this is exactly where he needs to be to work this out.”

Face put his pounding head in his hands. Murdock had gone as native as Farrell. Dammit, Face couldn’t let Murdock sway him. Sentiment was a fine thing, but sentiment didn’t buy food or gas. If they lost the business what then? Murdock may be right that money wasn’t the most important thing in the world, but it had a permanent spot in Face’s top ten.

What if the team lost the money they invested? Well they wouldn’t starve. He and BA and Murdock could get jobs. Murdock already had a couple of outside piloting gigs. But Hannibal? He should be about to start enjoying a well-earned retirement. Face would not flush away the Colonel’s pension just to indulge Farrell’s craziness and Murdock’s sentimentality. What good would it do anyway? If Face and Murdock wouldn’t do the job, the next guys Farrell Snr sent wouldn’t be nearly as polite.

Hell’s bells, Face thought, I don’t even like the stuck up, arrogant, spoilt bastard. And maybe I am jealous of him. But I’m not wrong to think he needs to go home and deal with his life and his wife and kid, not flounce around playing at being the great white chief. He looked up at Murdock.

“Tonight. We take him back.” He scowled as Murdock opened his mouth. “And I don’t want to hear another word about it.”

Part 6

When it got dark and the villagers headed to bed, Face watched the small hut Farrell went into, watching for any surprise visitors. Midnight approached, zero hour. Murdock stayed quiet, and didn’t even say much when Face gave him the order to go get Amy.

“See you at the rendezvous,” Face said quietly as they split up. Murdock nodded and vanished into the night.

Face frowned after him then headed for Farrell’s sleeping quarters. He waited outside, listening. No sound. No light leaked through the fabric walls.

Face raised the door flap and peeked inside. In the darkness, he saw a shadowy shape lying along one wall. Face moved inside, and stood for a moment, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. Then he took one step forward.

“I didn’t only bring back rifles.”

Farrell’s voice, behind Face, was soft, but the pistol muzzle he pressed against Face’s neck was hard.

Face didn’t speak. Shit, he thought, shit.

“You still have my watch I think, Peck, but I’m guessing it’s midnight. You’re just that predictable. Now drop your rifle and handgun.”

“Supposing I don’t?” Face asked. He heard the familiar sound as Farrell cocked the pistol.

“Supposing I blow your head off? You think I haven’t dreamt of that?”

Face tossed his rifle to the ground and took his pistol from its shoulder holster, dropping it to join the rifle on the ground.

“Sit down. On your hands.”

Face obeyed and Farrell came around and sat opposite Face. He rummaged around and found an electric lantern on the floor, turned it on. Like earlier he wore only his jeans and his feet and chest were bare. But unlike before, he now had two stripes of black paint across each cheek and more painted designs on his chest and arms.

“Oh brother,” Face muttered.

Farrell pointed the pistol at Face again.

“You really thought the same plan would work the second time? Do you think I’m stupid, Peck?”

“Stupid?” Face said. “Why would I think that? With your nifty war paint and your cool new tattoo? When are you going to put a bone through your nose?”

Farrell smiled a thin smile.

“When in Rome…”

“When I’m in Rome I eat pasta and drink cappuccino,” Face said. “I don’t try to become the Pope.”

Farrell laughed, sounded genuinely amused. “Good one.”

Face scowled, not in the mood even for his own jokes.

“Farrell, I’ve had it. You might have fooled Murdock and Amy, but not me.”


“Do you really think I believe you care about these people and their village? That you care what happens to them?”

Farrell frowned at him. “You don’t know what I –”

“I know you want to stick it to your father. Then he sent you down here and you finally found a way. I don’t buy all that crap you told Murdock about being afraid of the baby coming. You don’t give a damn about that kid –”

Face’s head rocked back as Farrell backhanded him hard. The blow knocked Face off balance and he fell backwards, ended up resting on his elbow. Farrell stood up, his face twisted with rage.

“Ah,” Face said. “So you do care.”

Farrell stopped, looking confused for a moment. He didn’t speak so Face took the opportunity to go on.

“Think about your kid, Farrell. Oh, I’m sure your dad will take care of his grandchild, but is that what you want? The kid will want a father figure. You want that to be him? You want him bringing your kid up?”

“I don’t…” Farrell trailed off.

“Your dad will cut you off, Farrell, if you go on with this. Cut off from your kid. Your inheritance.”

Farrell made a scornful gesture.

“Inheritance? Screw that. It’s only money.”

Face sat up, making Farrell step back and point the pistol at him again.

“I can’t go back, Peck. I can’t live like that any more!” His voice started to rise. “Spending my days buying up small businesses and asset stripping them. Laying off the workers. Destroying lives for money!”

“You don’t have to do that.” Face almost pleaded with him. Make him volunteer, he thought. Don’t make me have to force him. Don’t make me have to be the bad guy. “You can do anything you want, go back to the CIA maybe.”

“No!” Farrell snapped. He shook his head. “Not that, not without Dan.”

Hell, keep him off the subject of Collins, by all means, Face thought. Too late though. Farrell had turned away, but now he looked back at Face, a look that Face didn’t like at all.

“I can’t stop seeing it. Whatever I drink, whatever I take, whoever I screw before I shut my eyes, I still watch him die every night.”

His voice had dropped very low. The rain had started outside and the noise almost drowned his words. Farrell stepped around Face, behind him. Face heard a rustling and then felt the muzzle of the gun press into the back of his head. From the angle, he guessed Farrell had crouched down behind him.

“Murdock said I should replace that image with something beautiful. I have an idea for that, but I don’t think it’s one he would approve of.”

Face had felt guns pressed into his head before, some of them held by people crazier than Farrell. He couldn’t say he wasn’t scared; the sweat that rolled down his face caused by more than the humid conditions. But he kept his voice level despite his dry mouth and pounding heart.

“Killing Lamba didn’t make the pain stop, did it? Killing me will only make it worse. And what then? You’ll have to kill Murdock, I can promise you that. And then Hannibal and BA when they come after you, and they will.” He moved his head a little, trying to look over his shoulder. He thought about Albania and about their rescuers. The team had been alive to rescue, but if they’d been dead, at least some of those rescuers would have turned into avengers. “And even then it wouldn’t be over. If you kill me, there’s not a jungle on this planet big enough for you to hide in.”

Farrell leaned close, his words a breeze in Face’s ear.

“What precisely has given you the idea that I care?”

Too close, Farrell, Face thought, too close. He threw himself backwards into Farrell and knocked him off balance. At the same time, he kicked out and his boot smashed the lantern. Face fell backwards onto Farrell in the darkness.

Farrell started cursing and struggling. Face knew he’d not be able to keep Farrell pinned for long, didn’t have enough of a weight advantage. He had to knock Farrell out as fast possible. And he had to get that gun.

Farrell’s arm snaked around Face’s neck and squeezed. No way, pal, Face thought. And no rules. He bit Farrell’s forearm making him cry out and pull it away. Face took advantage of that, managed to turn around so they were face to face and found Farrell starting to raise the pistol. Still no rules. Face punched Farrell right on the fresh tattoo and Farrell really yelled this time. The pain made his hand spasm and the gun slipped from his grip. Face grabbed at it, Farrell came after him and the two of them crashed into the wall, into one of the wooden supports.

Face heard a crack and for a second he expected either the pain of a broken limb, or to hear Farrell cry out again. But it wasn’t a bone that had cracked, it was the wood. A groaning sound came from above them and Farrell yelled.

“Oh shit!”

The hut collapsed.


Face crawled out of the wreckage, shoving aside pieces of the roof. He was bloody and bruised, his shirt ripped to shreds. But he wore a fierce grin as he emerged into the rain. Because he held the pistol in his right hand.

He moved away from the collapsed hut, trying to get to his feet, slipping on the wet ground. The rain had become a torrent and soaked him in five seconds flat. He didn’t make it to his feet. A roar came from behind and Farrell crashed into him, tackling him around the waist and throwing them both to the ground. The breath was forced from Face as he hit the ground on his stomach, Farrell on top of him. Farrell clawed at Face’s outstretched arm, trying to reach the hand that still held the pistol.

Panting, gasping for breath, Face planted his free hand on the ground and levered himself up until Farrell fell off him and onto the ground. Face scrambled away, trying to get up again, but Farrell grabbed his ankle, making him fall again. Rolling as he hit the ground, Face ended up on his back and when Farrell went for the gun again, Face gave it to him, the butt end first, right in the face.

It barely slowed Farrell down. He fell back for a second and shook his head. Blood, washed straight off by the rain, ran down from a cut over his eye. But, crazed with adrenaline, he kept on coming. Face tried to raise the gun, but Farrell swept it aside, knocking it from Face’s hands.