Over the River
The agents stepped into the lounge of the Langley house. The Team was putting up Christmas decorations in the living room. Murdock and Face were fooling around with the mistletoe. Allison ignored that Murdock called Face 'Facey'. She walked up to Christmas tree and snagged one of the candy canes BA had just put up. Before she could put it in her mouth, BA pulled the piece of candy from her hand.
"Wait until Christmas day," he told her sternly. He turned around and tied the candy cane in the tree again using a little red ribbon.
Allison was stunned. She slowly backed away from the tree and nearly tripped over a box of Christmas decorations. This awarded her another stern look from BA. She quickly scrambled over to Tasmin. "He saw me," she said in a hushed voice to her partner. "And he spoke to me. He took candy away from me."
"BA took candy from a baby? He must be out of character."
Tasmin pulled the Canon Analysis Device out of her duffel bag and pointed it at BA. "Bosco 'BA' Baracus, canon male, out of character 83.3 percent. That's a lot this early in the story." Tasmin pointed the CAD at the other people in the room and they all displayed similar results. "This is bad. They are all so much out of character they can see us."
"They don't seem to mind us, though." Allison gave her partner a worried look. She looked around the room. Face and Murdock were too busy being affectionate with each other to notice the agents. BA, Hannibal and Frankie just shook their heads and laughed at the other two men.
"Perhaps they think we are Abels."
"Abels don't hang around the Langley house this much, do they?"
"They do in this story." Tasmin nodded towards the open door. Just outside the room a small group of Abels were putting up decorations in the hallway.
A door slammed and Stockwell came into the room shouting at Carla. He told her he wanted to know immediately when a 'she' arrived. Then he turned around and told Hannibal that the only Christmas present the Team was getting from him was a two-week holiday.
"Is that a paid holiday?" Allison asked. "Cause that's kind of an expensive gift."
"I don't think Stockwell pays them, period."
"He's given them room and board. And for two weeks he's not getting anything in return."
Tasmin shrugged. "Write down the charge, though, that Stockwell seems to have his offices at the Langley house, and that the Team got to see him upset over something."
The Team wondered what Stockwell was shouting about.
"I have no idea, but when whoever she is gets here, I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation."
"That's a pretty good idea for a disguise setting," Tasmin said.
"No, it's not. They can see us. I'm not in the mood to be flattened by a flyswatter."
"That's actually a very good point."
A few hours later -- Allison had managed to snag a candy cane without being spotted by BA in the time they waited -- the doorbell rang. A woman, surrounded by Abels, came into the house and was brought to Stockwell's study. Through the door only Stockwell's side of the conversation could be heard. He was very angry.
The agents ventured out into the hall way and, along with the Team, learned that the woman, the Sue, in Stockwell's study was one of his agents, one of his best agents. Lately, however, she had become a drunk, an arsonist, and a risk-taker, putting her life and that of other agents in danger. Stockwell could not have that. He told her that the Team was going to babysit her.
"Sometimes I wish babysit actually meant sitting on top of a baby," Allison lamented. "And smothering it."
Stockwell stormed into the living room, red-faced.
"You vacation is over. Your next mission is to watch the agent in there. She's know as Blackbird. Be careful, she's my top assassin. Or use to be. If she keels over, bury her in the backyard. Deep."
Then he stormed back out.
Allison made a note that Carla was running ahead of him.
The Team were hesitant to find out who the assassin was that they had to babysit. Rather, they spent a few more minutes discussing what they would do over the holidays, or would have done. Two Abels walked through the living room. One flipped a coin. Then one of them made his way, reluctantly, to the study. He came flying out moments later and ran away. This finally piqued the curiosity of the Team. Or at least that of Hannibal.
He didn't need to go into the study as the Sue had decided on this moment to come out. She was surprised to see the Team.
"Maybe I do need to stop drinking. Hannibal? B.A.? Face?" She leaned against the doorway. "Am I dead?"
"Not yet," Tasmin said. "But I'm sure you are working on the arrangements of that."
Allison stifled a giggle.
The Sue walked over to the bar and fixed herself a highball, without the ice, and probably with the quantities of whisky and ginger ale swapped. She proposed a toast, downed her drink in one, and fixed herself another.
Murdock took the glass from her and threw it in the fireplace.
"Savanah? What the hell is wrong with you? What's going on?"
"He talks to her like he knows her."
"He knows her first name without being introduced to her."
"This is very disconcerting." Allison shook her head and tried to make herself as small as possible behind her notepad. If character bits were going to fly she didn't want to be hit by any of it.
Hannibal also knew the Sue on a first name basis and, after Face had helped her to the sofa, he asked her what was going on. The Sue told him.
"Well Colonel, where do I start? Uhm...about a year ago I turned on the news and found out my father's unit had been killed for committing his murder. I guess I sort of lost it, started drinking quite frequently, and was kicked out of the medical society for conduct unbecoming of a member. Then about eight months ago Stockwell sent me on a job where six agents were killed. Needless to say, he blamed me for his mistakes. Then I came home this afternoon to find my husband of six years packing his shit up to leave me. So, I did what any bitter wife would do." She stopped and grinned coldly. "I blew our house up." She stopped to light a cigarette. "Then I hopped a big ole jet airliner and was met at the airport in Richmond by some of Stockwell's goons. I believe ya'll know the rest."
The Team were stunned.
So were the agents. They were stunned that Stockwell would send an alcoholic -- who had probably lost her medical license due to malpractice caused by being an alcoholic -- on a mission.
Then the Team became caring. Hannibal sent Frankie away, who happily left.
Allison watched him go with envy.
"You've been through hell, haven't you?" he asked softly.
"I smell something burning," Allison said.
Smoke came from Tasmin's duffel bag. She quickly opened it, rummaged through it and pulled out a smoking CAD. It was red-hot and burned her fingers. She dropped it and shook her hand vigorously to cool off her fingers. "I had turned it off before I put it in the bag. I swear I did."
Allison gave her a stern look. "That's two CADs you've broken already."
"That's about average."
"Not if you've only used them in about four missions."
Hannibal felt responsible for the Sue. She was the daughter of Colonel Morrison, and he had been a good friend. He knelt down in front of her and offered her a hug.
"Let's look on the bright side," Allison said. She smiled broadly at her partner's glare before continuing, "at least our CAD won't break." She quickly ducked a swatting motion from her partner.
The Sue started to sob and Hannibal consoled her. All four A-Team members offered her their handkerchieves when she wanted to blow her nose. She explained Stockwell had never told her that they were not dead.
"Why would Stockwell tell her that?"
"I know why he won't tell her. The Team still alive is on a need to know basis, and she didn't need to know."
"Obviously, but she's suggesting there's a reason he should have told her. For instance, because she knows them very well. Though the Words explicitly suggested that the Sue and the Team had never met."
"Suggestions are generally implicit, rather than explicit."
"Words said, 'the team had not known about her until nine years ago, and they had never been able to find her after that fateful night'. And since it was not made explicit what 'fateful night' is meant, I am not at fault for assuming it is the night they learned about the Sue's existence. If she had meant something else, she should have phrased her sentence better."
Tasmin nodded. "Charges for everyone behaving like they are old friends."
It turned out Stockwell also had not told the Team that the Sue's mother, and Morrison's wife, was his daughter.
"Charge for being the uncanonical daughter of one character and the uncanonical granddaughter of another."
Allison scribbled it down. "I'm afraid to think of any other liaisons with canons she could come up with."
"And a charge for being surprised that Stockwell doesn't discuss his private life with his employees."
"We could have guessed already that this is another Sue that doesn't know Stockwell very well, despite claiming that she does."
"You didn't know Murdock? I would have thought with your connections to my family..." her voice trailed off as she noticed Murdock violently shaking his head.
"And again Murdock neglected to mention that he knew Stockwell before." Allison rolled her eyes and sighed. "I wonder if he has a good reason for that this time."
Murdock quickly brought the Team up to speed: both he and Morrison had been working for Stockwell in Vietnam. The Team accepted this as enough information. They knew Murdock would tell them more when he was ready.
"It seems his reason was that he was not ready to tell them," Tasmin said.
"That is bollocks. If Murdock had done some jobs for Stockwell before, he would have told the Team. Regardless if it would bring back some bad memories for him. He would have told them so they would know what kind of man he is, and would be a little less often surprised about how he handles things."
"I doubt Murdock withholding this kind of information would sit well with any of the Team, considering how often Stockwell withholding information has put them in danger."
There was a quick time shift in which everyone but Hannibal had gone to bed. The front door opened and Stockwell came in. Followed by Hannibal, he went up the stairs and knocked on the Sue's door.
"Grandpa? I'm sorry." She started crying in earnest again. "I'm sorry I failed you." Stockwell took his granddaughter in his arms, unable to control his own tears. "No honey. I failed you."
"I'm sorry I had to witness that."
"It was either that or listening to Face and Murdock getting ready for bed and telling each other sob stories."
"Does this mean we're skipping the sob stories?"
"Nope. We're just skipping the getting ready for bed." Tasmin threw open the door to Murdock and Face's bedroom and ushered her partner in.
Face was upset that Murdock had never told him he had worked for Stockwell. It had made him feel stupid.
"Can you imagine how stupid Murdock feels working for Stockwell again, but this time voluntarily?" Allison asked.
"I think you may have found the reason why he had not told them before: he felt stupid."
Allison glared at her partner.
Murdock gave as a reason that it was a time of his life he would rather forget about altogether.
"Because it makes him feel stupid," Tasmin added.
Murdock was now willing to tell Face everything he wanted to know.
"Did you love me in Vietnam?"
"I wish this fic would skip the things I wouldn't want to know."
"Yes, maybe we ought to do that," Tasmin said after a quick glance at what was to come. She pulled the remote activator from her bag and opened up a portal.
The portal brought the agents to a gym where the Sue was kicking the stuffing out of a punching bag and Frankie was watching in awe.
"Wish I could do something like that." he said it so softly,
Frankie added that he wasn't very good at fighting and didn't feel like he was a member of the A-Team. The Sue offered to teach him some moves.
For two hours Allison watched the Sue teach Frankie, while Tasmin read a book. Then the Sue excused herself, because she was going shopping with Carla.
"I thought the Team had to babysit her. Why would Carla take that job?"
Tasmin dropped her book in her duffel bag. "Sues like to be friends with everyone. Usually it's just the Team, but this one's friendly with Frankie and Carla too."
"And Stockwell. They hugged." Allison shuddered.
The Sue bumped into Hannibal on the way out of the gym. She asked if she could talk to him about something. She told him that he should spend some more time with Frankie, might make him feel better about the Team.
"She does realise that Frankie is still within hearing range, doesn't she?" Allison asked. "That he may not like that his mummy talks to the bullies for him."
"I don't like that Hannibal says she's right and that he should be more considerate of Frankie."
The agents followed the Sue, who, rather than directly hit the showers after a few hours workout, walked around the compound. Behind a barn she saw Murdock practising his pitching skills. Then she went into the house, and saw Face watching Murdock. She walked up to him and watched him watching. She mentioned she had heard them talking and said it was good they were talking.
"It's good they were talking about how stupid they felt? They aren't women," Allison said. "They are men. Eighties' men. They don't talk about their feelings."
"She's a shrink." Tasmin shrugged. She reverted back to the Words.
"Applying pop-psychology." Allison made a note.
"Seems that after we left, Murdock told Face that when he first arrived at the VA he was physically and mentally abused by at least one of the orderlies."
"Of course, you can't have slash without giving them reasons to cuddle."
"You'd think that if an author had Face and Murdock in love, that would be enough reason for them to cuddle. Yet, they keep adding angst. And not even angst of the good sort."
"What is angst of the good sort?"
"It varies, but in the case of slash in the A-Team, angsting about their homosexual feelings versus their own homophobic feelings and those of others. There's enough to angst about being gay in the Eighties without having to add abuse."
The Sue then went to her room to lie on the bed.
"She's never going to take that shower, is she?" Allison said. "They say that Sues all smell like roses, but this one doesn't."
Carla walked past the agents and knocked on the Sue's door. She came to get her, not to go shopping, but because Stockwell had an assignment for her.
"He needs her to stink out a few bad guys." Tasmin smirked.
The Sue left on an assignment. Rather than going with her -- the Sue went with three other agents and Tasmin and Allison could have easily taken their places -- the PPC agents decided to stay at Langley. After all, the Sue had a bit of a track record of getting the people on her team killed, and the agents weren't in the mood for being on the receiving end of that. Instead they walked into the kitchen where Murdock and Face were chatting about Christmas presents.
Face told Murdock he never used to get much for Christmas when he was a kid.
Tasmin rolled her eyes. "Here we go. More whining." She pulled up a chair and glared at Face.
He took no notice of her as he told Murdock about all the crappy gifts he used to get as a kid.
"My dad's about the same age as Face is," Tasmin said. "He did not grow up in an orphanage, but on a farm, had about eleven sibs. He was number five and there was one more every other year or so. He got the same kinds of gifts as Face."
"Twelve kids? That is an orphanage."
Tasmin glared at her partner. "It still doesn't give Face the right to whine. Orphanages are pretty good charities. Some rich benefactor that wants to do good by playing Santa."
When I was twelve, I wanted a Red Rider B.B. gun. I dreamed about it for months. I kept thinking that maybe if I was good enough, I would get one.
"Believed in Santa at the age of twelve?" Allison nearly fell over with surprise. "Wouldn't it be better to tell all the kiddies there is no Santa, so they don't feel bad about getting all these crappy gifts?"
"Considering it was an orphanage run by nuns, they should have told the kiddies there is no Santa because the kiddies were worshipping a false idol."
"I thought Santa was derived from a Catholic bishop."
Tasmin grumbled. She turned her attention away from the two men and stared at the Words. They narrated of the adventures of the Sue on mission. "Pen and paper at the ready," Tasmin instructed her partner.
The Sue was running through the woods. The mission had not gone according to plan, at least not her plan. She called an Abel on a secure radio channel.
"The egg has broken. Repeat the egg has broken."
"Pre-set. Jack be nimble and be quick. There are two candlesticks."
"How many bags of wool?"
"Four bags. All full." There was silence after her last coded words.
"What kind of code is that?" Tasmin grumbled. "Any one can break that: the mission has gone wrong. There are two deaths and four captured. She might as well have just said that."
"And she's on a secure radio channel. Why would she need code anyway?"
"Because that's what spies do: they talk in code."
The Sue further announced that the Abel did not have to wait for her. She radioed another Abel and told him to proceed to pick up. Shortly after, a helicopter landed, the Abels boarded, and the helicopter left. The Sue was on her own. She ran toward the compound under siege and took out the leader of the militia. She slit a guard's throat with her knife, and when she reached the compound she started throwing grenades all around her.
"Stockwell sent only four people to deal with this militia? The phrase suicide mission gets a whole new meaning."
Tasmin hummed, concurring. "I first thought Stockwell was an idiot for sending an alcoholic on a mission, but since this is more suicide than mission, I understand better."
"Even if he's sending his own granddaughter?"
"He already expressed not caring very much whether she should live or die."
The Sue's charge caused confusion and havoc on the compound. Members of the militia were shooting wildly around themselves and killing each other. The Sue picked one of them off with her rifle and continued her run towards the office. There she wildly threw papers all around her till she found what she was looking for.
"She would have been quicker if she had just thumbed through the file cabinet until she found the file she needed. Throwing things about is not very time efficient. Plus, you may slip on one of the files you threw on the ground, fall and get hurt."
The Sue was caught just as she stuffed the file she came for down the front of her jacket. After a few witty exchanges she shot the man between the eyes and made a run for it.
She continued down the hallway screaming into her radio. "Contact! Contact! Pre-set co-ordinates! Coming in hot! Coming in hot! Contact! Contact!"
"And now she wants them to come back for her? Didn't she tell them to leave a light on for her on the back porch?"
"Something like that." Allison nodded.
"That should have been code for 'I'll find my own way back'. That isn't code for 'I'll give a ring when you can come and pick me up'."
"Perhaps their code isn't as easy as you first assumed."
"The Abel understood it the same way as I did. Charge her with endangering lives because she changed her mind."
The Sue was picked up and brought to a military base. The commanding officer gave her his office so she could make a few phone calls in private. She first made a phone call to confirm the mission had been successful. Then she called a travel agent. While she was on hold, she looked for a first aid kit and bandaged her injured leg. After she made her travel arrangements, she put on some civilian clothing and left the office, still wearing her balaclava.
"She packed a pair of trousers and a sweater in her bag when she got ready for this mission, along with the grenades and the rifle? Is she one of those smart packing people like you?"
"There was never any mention of whether she packed all these things, or whether the base chief kept these things in his office for her, like the first aid kit. First aid kits are generally kept a little more publicly. So charge, for finding a kit in a desk drawer and pulling some clothes from out of nowhere."
"And for still not having taken a shower."
"Goes without saying."
The Sue caught her red-eye flight to Virginia and worked on her Christmas list on board.
The agents experienced a jerky motion that indicated a time lapse. Face and Murdock had long since left the kitchen. It appeared to be early morning now and Murdock was taking a shower.
"At least someone is," Allison commented.
He grinned as he looked at his hair in the mirror. 'Treatments are working.' he thought happily.
"He's getting implants? I hate this Sue."
"More than usual?"
"Most of them don't change his looks along with his personality. If they are going that way, can't they just change his name too and be done with it? Cause if it don't look like a duck, don't walk like a duck and doesn't even say quack, we can safely assume it is not a duck. Or a canon character."
Murdock went down to the garage and slipped into his black Jaguar. He was able to afford that car because he was still on the pay role of The Company. He had a desk job these days, but he used to be the original Blackbird. The Sue had inherited his call sign and often came to him for advice. This day, they simply ran into each other at a local coffee shop. They chatted some about the Sue's mission, then Murdock asked her for a favour.
I remember you saying you sometimes collect antiques.
Allison bent over and bashed her head on the kitchen table. "She's just the perfect cure for whatever ails anyone. Meanwhile, she's giving me a headache."
"I think you will find that's the kitchen table."
Murdock got up. He had to go to a meeting with an attorney to make his will.
You get everything, and when Face is a free man, you hand it all over to him. You get $25,000 out of the deal.
Allison turned her head to Tasmin. "What if the Sue dies before Face? Which seems likely with her lifestyle."
"What if the Sue changes her mind by the time Face gets his pardon? Or has run some bad investments and there's no money left? If you ask me, he should turn all his assets into solids, like gold. Then bury his gold and leave Face a treasure map. That way Face could enjoy the spoils of Murdock's riches even when he isn't a free man."
"But the Sue wouldn't change her mind. Haven't you noticed that she always has the best interest of any member of the Team at heart. And that she and Murdock have the kind of relationship where you just don't cheat on each other." Allison nodded, sort of, as her head was still lying on the table.
Tasmin cocked her head. "The kitchen table must provide some interesting insights into human nature. Everyone can be bought, for the right price."
"Sues can't. It's what makes them Sues."
"Twenty-five thousand dollars is a rather low keepers fee. We don't know how much Murdock owns, but it seems to be considerably more than 25k. And the Sue probably also makes a lot more money on her missions, considering how good she is and all. She would think she's worth more than 25k."
Murdock left after paying the bill and the Sue pulled out a cell phone to hunt for a 1962 BB gun.
"She pulls out a cell phone?" Allison finally picked herself up. "I thought those things were the size of refrigerators back then."
"Not quite. It only weighed 28 ounces. That's a pretty light refrigerator. It was more the size of a brick."
Allison grumbled. "Charging her with making 1987 technology the same size as twenty-first century technology. I think after we charge her, we should bash her head in with that brick. Add a little irony to the punishment."
Tasmin grinned. "That would do nicely."
It had turned night and the agents heard some noise on the stairs. Tasmin put a finger to her lips to indicate to her partner to stay quiet. Allison rolled her eyes in response. The agents peeked around the doorframe into the hallway. The Sue was being led out of the house at gunpoint.
"How did that guy get into the house?" Allison whispered after the door had closed behind the two.
"In a puff of smoke probably," Tasmin replied.
The agents crept towards the door and opened it slightly. The man that held the Sue at gunpoint was distracted by a whistling noise, made by Hannibal from his balcony. The Sue rolled away from the gun.
"Why is everyone hanging out on their balconies in this fic?" Tasmin asked. "It's mid-December, the daily mean is about 35 Fahrenheit. It's early morning and Hannibal is just sitting leisurely on his balcony. He's from California. He'd be freezing."
"I'm from a cold climate," Allison added, "and I'm freezing. Can we please go back inside?"
The exchange of gunfire had woken up the rest of the house. Everyone rushed out of the house -- in whatever they wore to bed. The Team split up to find the Sue and the perpetrator. A third shot was fired and a red car drove away. The Sue was not found, but Murdock had been shot. Face rushed over to hold his hand. A 'med-flight helicopter' landed in the yard and the paramedics loaded Murdock on board. The rest of the Team were left behind.
Face stumbled towards the helicopter and fell to the ground screaming, "MURDOCK! MURDOCK!"
"I'm guessing coot," Allison said.
"What?" Tasmin turned her head to her partner.
"Obviously it isn't a duck. I'm trying to figure out what kind of bird it is instead."
"Oh. Sounds more like a screamer to me," Tasmin said. "Plus they are more closely related to ducks than coots."
Hannibal and BA picked Face up from the ground and brought him to a waiting car. Frankie joined them and they all went to the hospital where Murdock was taken. The agents decided to take a short cut via portal.
The Team, minus Murdock, where sitting in a waiting room when the two agents arrived at the hospital. Frankie offered to get them all some coffee and left. A moment later Stockwell turned up. He nodded his head to indicate wanted Hannibal to step outside for a moment for a chat. Stockwell made a few caring enquiries. Hannibal ran a hand through his hair. He was worried about Face.
"I'm fairly certain that is already out of character behaviour," Tasmin said. "I mean, have you ever seen Hannibal in canon with his hands in his hair?"
"Not unless he was trying on a wig."
"He won't make it without Murdock."
"Make what without Murdock?" Allison asked. "Sand castles? An entry for the Chelsea Flower Show?"
"Those, of course, but I think Face is supposed to be a basket case that can't stand on his own two feet without Murdock acting as a crutch."
Stockwell was understanding -- which was more than could be said about the agents. He also had a good idea who had been behind the events of the early morning.
"Stockwell doesn't say 'we have a good idea'. It implies he's not certain about the information he is about to divulge."
Stockwell thought it was the doings of an old adversary of the Sue. She had once been captured by him, but managed to escape, and killed his son while she was at it.
this is the first time he has been able to find her.
"It's bad enough that he knew who to look for, let alone where."
"Shouldn't the Langley house have better security? I mean, Stockwell has his offices there, you'd think he wanted to protect them from intruders. Someone just walked into the place and walked out with someone at gunpoint. Plus, he knew exactly which was the Sue's room. And as far as I remember there weren't any labels on the doors to indicate who slept where."
"Inside man?" Tasmin suggested.
"Would make sense. Now, why aren't they jumping to that conclusion?" Allison nodded her head to the offending canons.
"Why does canon ever not do what we expect them to do? Because there's a Sue involved."
"But she's missing now. Shouldn't her influence diminish?"
"They are talking about her. If you say her name she can control you. Why do you think we never call the Sues by their given name?"
"I think I've heard about this power somewhere else."
"But since you asked, let's find out where this Sue is." Tasmin pulled the remote activator from her bag. The agents took a portal back to the Langley house.
The Sue was hiding in the bushes while there were still some of the thugs looking for her.
"Keep looking. have Jones and Forrester check the roads again. Remember she's tricky. But she will be made to pay for her transgressions."
"That's a bit mildly put by someone whose son she's killed." Allison pulled her notepad from a pocket. "I think she did a little more than cross a line there."
The boss of the outfit then left. The others left soon after because the woods gave them the creeps.
"I wonder when they have their next employee appraisal."
"I wonder when the Abels that were putting up the Christmas decorations a few days ago will get their next employee appraisal. None of them came out to have a look after the first car left."
"Perhaps they are only able to tag mistletoe to the doorpost."
Tasmin narrowed her eyes. "Let's just say that no one here is good at the job they are supposed to do. Except the Sue, and she's pretty bad at it too."
Before the second set of men left the Sue heard them mention one of the Team had gotten shot. She knew it had to be Murdock.
She had fought it, but she knew in order to catch Springfield, she was going to have to become something she never wanted to be.
"Mundane?" Allison asked. "You're already a murderer with no remorse to speak of. Can't really imagine what would be worse than that."
She opened her eyes and looked around. She was no longer Savanah Morrison. She was no longer the doctor, the wife, the friend, the lover. She was a machine trained to kill. She had made mistakes in the past, but she had learned from them as well. She was an assassin.
And she was pissed.
"Finally, the alcoholism is acknowledged," Allison said.
Tasmin just shrugged in reply.
The scenery went black and a week passed. The Sue was still missing, though her car had gone missing too a few days earlier. Tasmin and Allison decided to pick up with the action at Stockwell's office at the Langley house. Stockwell introduced the Team to their pilot and explosives expert on the mission to extract the man that had shot Murdock -- Frankie wasn't coming on this mission as he was thought to be too inexperienced by Hannibal and Stockwell.
Face turned and looked at B.A. nervously. "Are you o.k. with this?" Face asked.
B.A. turned and gave the con man a hard stare. "For Murdock, I'll fly."
"Of course he does." Tasmin sighed. "He couldn't even fly when his momma needed his help. But the bane of a man's existence means more to him than a boy's momma."
Allison nodded while she scribbled.
The Team and the pilot got on the helicopter and took off towards Georgia. The pilot informed them they had to pick up another agent Stockwell wanted on the mission. The agent in question -- the suddenly not so missing Sue -- decided she wanted to be picked up while driving her car at high speed. Face was instructed to secure a ladder and then throw it down. The Sue climbed out of the car window, grabbed the ladder and climbed up. The car went off a cliff.
"Brakes not working?" Allison asked. The agents had stayed behind in the office, and Allison had taken the opportunity to put her feet on the desk.
"She must have sabotaged her own car."
The Sue and the pilot, who appeared to be her husband, then engaged in a rather childish shouting match. Well, the Sue's input was childish; the pilot dished the Sue a few home truths.
"Did we already have the charge of Stockwell making stupid decisions about who to send on missions?" Tasmin asked.
"I think we determined that he really, really wants to see her dead. I'd like to add that he doesn't care who goes down in the process." Allison scratched the top of her ear. "Do you think, that in his own convoluted way, Stockwell is dealing with this Sue?"
"Could be. But he's no protector of the plot continuum. If he were, he wouldn't risk the lives of the Team like that."
The story fast-forwarded again. The mission was over. The Sue had killed the bad guy, and the Team seemed to rejoice over this.
The agents gave each other incredulous looks.
"I know the Team has a violent streak, but I don't think they approve of murder. The guy that was killed wasn't even the guy that had shot Murdock."
"The Team thinks he did it," Tasmin replied. "But you're right. The Team doesn't pass judgement beyond the point that they chase the baddies away or round them up for arrest, so they can be properly tried by a jury."
"I think I see the Sue and Face sitting outside." Allison pointed out the window. "Let's go charge her."
Face had received a fake file about Murdock from Stockwell, and picked a fight with Murdock over it. The Sue stepped in and gave Face a file on himself. Face was shocked to find it was not real, and was very sorry he had believed everything he had read about Murdock. Then the Sue gave him another file.
"This is Murdock's real file. Straight from the company."
"Of course it would be no trouble for the Sue to get her hands on that one, what with her ability to walk through solid concrete walls."
Face was shocked even more when he read about what Murdock really had to go through. And then the Sue added a little story of her own. In a letter from her father to her mother she had learned that Murdock one time had taken a beating in a bar fight. When her father went to investigate at the bar he heard a few officers talking.
Apparently, they had caught Lieutenant Peck out back and given him the beating of his life. They went into detail how they had been planning it for days. They were all pretty proud of there little scheme. Their only regret was that they had not
been able to get out of him who his lover was. They never saw my father listening. Well, my dad was a pretty smart man. He figured out real quick that Murdock must have heard about their little plan, and had taken one of your shirts to make them think he was you. In the dark and in their drunken state, they never noticed the difference. Once dad thought about it some more, he realized who your lover was. Really didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that part out. He was so pissed, and he knew he couldn't report it, so he did
"Excuse me." Tasmin tapped the Sue on the shoulder. "Why couldn't Colonel Morrison have these officers court martialed? Beating up an officer is considered a very bad thing in the army."
The Sue gave her a disturbed look. "Because if he reported them it would come out that Face and Murdock had a relationship."
"True," Tasmin said. "But these officers should have reported that themselves. The fact that they didn't makes them punishable by court martial under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, subchapter X. The fact that Face and Murdock were possibly guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen, Article 133, and sodomy, Article 125, will not excuse these officers from the charges that can be brought against them. The way I see it--"
"Here we go." Allison rolled her eyes.
"These officers your father didn't report could be charged with Article 81, conspiracy, and Article 128, assault. The fact that they knew they were beating up an officer, even if they beat up a different officer than they thought they were beating up, makes matters worse, for them. Because they cracked some of Murdock's ribs, Article 124, maiming becomes relevant. Article 133, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, is always relevant. And Article 134 can cover all their other offences.
"Your father," Tasmin jabbed a finger at the Sue, "could also be charged under these last two articles, if ever found out, and under Article 107, making a false official statement. If he had written a report on Murdock's injuries in a bar fight, and had not included his findings at the bar, he would have knowingly made a false statement. Now, ask yourself, would a military man like your father have really risked a dishonourable discharge and five years confinement for a couple of love-birds?"
The Sue blinked.
"Hadn't thought about that, had you? Allison will charge you with a few more things you don't seem to have thought about."
"Where to begin, where to begin."
"Her name would be a good start."
Allison rolled her eyes again. "Savanah Morrison, also known as Blackbird and Abel 24, we are protectors of the plot continuum and we are here to charge you with crimes against fanfiction in general and A-Team fiction in particular."
"Crimes!" Face exclaimed. "She hasn't committed any crimes."
"She made you believe in Santa at the age of twelve, and turned you into a pansy."
"Oh." Face turned away from the agents to sulk.
"Realisation that what she did to him was wrong will set in shortly," Tasmin said. "The sooner you start charging, the quicker that will happen."
"Savanah Morrison, we charge you with being a Mary Sue. You are the uncanonical daughter of one canon character, and the uncanonical granddaughter of another, making the two of them related, and Stockwell would have mentioned this bit of personal information to them. 'You wouldn't expect me to help the men that confessed to the murder of my son-in-law, now would you?'" Allison tried in her best impersonation of Stockwell. "Further you are the protégée of a third canon character. We charge you with being an alcoholic, but this not having any effect on the story. Except for the part where you always blame others for your mistakes and never take responsibility yourself. That is rather typical behaviour of someone with a drinking problem. What isn't typical is that others forgive you your mistakes or simply ignore them, think you the best ever at whatever, and that someone like Stockwell would send you on missions. I know the types of missions he usually has are suicide missions and the people doing them expendable, but kitting out the mission with a drunk is not something even he would do.
"While we're on the topic of out of character behaviour... We charge you with removing the backbone of each of the canon characters. Face is not a pansy and a basket case that could not make it without Murdock. BA does not fly. No, not even for Murdock. He himself would say, 'especially not for Murdock'. Hannibal does not offer hugs on his knees and does not sit around with his hands in his hair. He also does not need leadership advice from you. Murdock would not be keeping things like knowing Stockwell from the rest of the Team, and the rest of the Team would not be all understanding if he had. They also would want to know how he knew you, when they, for some reason, had been looking for you, but never found you. And these are men of the eighties." Allison gestured towards Face, who was still sulking. "Or at least, that's what they're supposed to be. They do not talk about their feelings. The only emotion they show is aggression, and they will probably disagree with you that aggression is an emotion.
"We charge you with sending Frankie out of the room every time things get interesting. He is not a seven-year-old boy. If you didn't want them in the story, couldn't you have just given him a bad case of the flu? It's epidemic this time of the year." Allison coughed in the direction of the Sue who turned her head away in disgust. "We charge you with not taking a shower after a two-hour workout. We charge you with not taking a shower after a mission, but still putting on clean clothes. We charge you with pulling these clean clothes from out of nowhere. We charge you with using pop-psychology. We charge you with being a bad spy: you use an easy to crack code, have a very inefficient file cabinet search, and you endanger lives by changing your mind about whether or not you should be picked up at the end of the mission. We very much think you were to blame for the agents that got killed on a previous mission. We also charge you with showing off by going solo on a mission and that whole thing with the helicopter and the ladder. Was there any point to that action?"
The Sue gaped.
"We charge you with picking a childish fight with the pilot. We charge you with having pockets that are bigger on the inside, because they can hold a 1987's cell phone."
"It isn't that big." The Sue pulled the phone from her pocket.
Allison took it and weighed it in her hand before she continued charging. She pointed the antenna of the phone accusatory at the Sue. "We charge you with ignoring that in December the average temperature in this part of Virginia is 35 degrees. Californians do not stand around on their balconies in temperatures like that. They huddle in a blanket by the central heating, mumbling about never having been this cold in their lives. Particularly, poorly people like that." Allison nodded her head to Face. "Those are your charges. Your punishment for these crimes is death. Do you have anything to say?"
"You have a lot of unresolved issues. It is clear that you don't have good stress relief. When was the last time you had sex?"
"Added charge," Tasmin said, "using pop-psychology on PPC agents."
"My stress relief is killing Sues," Allison said. She brought the phone, popularly nicknamed the Brick, down against the side of the Sue's head. The blow killed the Sue. "Right. Do we have to neutralise the canons or will canon just pop back into shape now the Sue is dead?"
"Let's just neutralise them to be on the safe side." Tasmin rummaged through her bag to find the neutraliser kit.
"And we have to find and kill that pilot."
"Nah, he can live. He wasn't put in this story to make the Sue look good."
"Actually, I think he was."
"Well, in that case she failed miserably. He was a pretty interesting character, even if he only got a few lines." Tasmin handed Allison a pair of sunglasses. "Face, if you could look this way, please."