“So, we just go in through the side…”
“And it shouldn’t be too much work to just…”
“What Face? I’m trying to lay out this plan. We need to get through it before those gang leaders come back.”
Hannibal froze and turned to look at Face firmly. “What did you say?”
“I said Murdock’s sick. He’s got a fever, and he’s been coughing off and on for several hours. We didn’t notice because we’ve been so busy with this job. It sounds like it’s bad, though.”
Hannibal looked at him and ran over his option in his mind. “Alright. Let me talk to him alone. I need to see how bad off he is. I don’t like putting a sick man on a job, but if it’s just a cold, then he might be alright. Otherwise, we need to find someplace where he can be safe while this all goes down.”
Face nodded in agreement and gestured to the room. Murdock and BA were supposed to be working on the mechanical stuff together. Hannibal entered the room, and it was immediately apparent what Face meant. He was flushed pink and sweating bullets. More than that, BA was helping prop him up to keep him from falling down.
“Captain, Face says your sick.” Hannibal was careful to keep any judgment out of his tone. Murdock couldn’t recognize whether or not an illness was dangerous. He had spent so much time delirious and off in his own world that he no longer knew the signs. He was also very susceptible to illness. He spent most of his time alone, in a sterile hospital, with very competent medical staff. Very few diseases when through the VA. Which meant that he didn’t have the same immunity that they all did.
“Just thought it was a little cold, sir. A little tickle in my throat and a cough, now and then. It suddenly got real bad, though. I can’t hardly breathe, and my head feels like it’s on fire.”
Murdock knew better than to downplay symptoms. Their team functioned as a unit at all times. All parts of the unit had to know exactly what was going on with everyone else. Otherwise, they weren’t playing with all of the information, and that was dangerous.
“He’s burning up Hannibal. Need something to help cool him down and get that fever down.”
Hannibal removed his leather gloves and cupped Murdock’s neck gently. He could feel the heat of his body and was concerned. Murdock made a soft sigh and leaned into the feeling of the hand on his neck. Hannibal sighed lightly.
“Alright, BA, you keep going on the truck. Murdock, I want you to come with me.”
BA opened his mouth to disagree. He was the one that looked after Murdock, and Murdock looked after him. That was how it worked. It’s how it had always worked. Hannibal shot him a look, and BA sighed lightly. He knew that having a man down would only make this job harder, and they needed all hands on deck.
“Alright, but I’m checking on him every hour on the hour. You can’t stop me from that. Neither can you, crazy man.”
“Wouldn’t try if I could, BA. We take care of each other in this unit.”
BA gave a growl and then a little smile.
“Alright, Captain, up we get.” Hannibal hoisted Murdock to his feet. Murdock wobbled for a second and then gained his equilibrium. Hannibal made sure that he had an arm around his waist for the entire journey into the other room.
By the time they made it to the cot, Murdock was exhausted. He sighed lightly and flopped down on the cot. Hannibal patted him lightly on the shoulder and then went to get some water. Fever’s dehydrated, and that was the most dangerous part of any illness. As long as he was hydrated and the fever didn’t break 104 F, they would be fine.
“Here, drink this, Murdock. It will help get your temperature down. It might also help with that headache. You said you were having trouble breathing. Let me listen to you.”
Hannibal pressed his ear to Murdock’s chest and listened as congested lungs attempted to get in enough air. It didn’t sound like there was fluid in them, which was good, but Hannibal didn’t like the way he was struggling to get each breath in.
“Okay, soldier, I want you to stay as upright as possible. I don’t want any fluid settling in your lungs. I’m going to put medication high up on the list of priorities. Most of all, I want you to rest. Regain your strength. Your immune system isn’t as practiced as ours. You need to beat this firmly. We clear?”
Murdock looked up at him and gave him a shy smile. “Yeah, Colonel, we’re clear. Anything I can do to help while I’m resting?”
Hannibal breathed out a firm sigh. He didn’t want Murdock doing anything but work on getting better. However, he knew that there was a good chance that the pilot would go stir crazy if he was just sitting there doing nothing.
“Yeah, actually there is. I’ll have one of the others bring in the supplies. I want you to make as many types of explosives as you can. You know the drill. Things that are easy to throw make decent explosions but won’t cause a lot of damage to stuff. However, if you began to feel really tired, or the fumes are making things worse, you stop right away.”
Hannibal cupped his cheek and drew him against his chest firmly. His next words were hardly above a whisper. “We can’t do this without you, and we wouldn’t want to anyway. You do what you need to and get better. Anything less, and I’ll court-martial you.”
Murdock laughed softly. “Alright, sir.”
Hannibal patted his cheek gently and then went to the rest of the crew. They still had a job to do, and those gang members weren’t going to change their minds just because they had a man down.
After everything is over and they’ve fled in BA’s van, Hannibal can once again think about his sick Captain. His color isn’t terrible, but he was still flushed, and his fever had gone up a degree. Hannibal didn’t want to send him back to the VA with an illness like this. It could cause it to sweep through a population of very vulnerable veterans. However, it was tough being on the run and being sick.
“BA, I want you to stop at the first place that seems like it would be safe from Decker. We’re going to help nurse our Captain through this. Any place with beds to rent, small, out of the way and has someplace to hide your van.”
“Good. I thought we should’ve done this hours ago. To hell with the job he needs looking after.”
“Uh-uh. No way, siree. You can’t just drop out of a job on my account. We keep our word. I’m not bleeding to death, so we finish the job because we said we would. Our word is the only thing we have left of our reputation. I won’t lose that too.”
BA shook his head. “Yeah, I know it’s a big deal to you. We can’t just leave you sick and helpless, though. You need looking after, or you might not get better.”
“BA, we will look after Murdock. We always do. You’re just concerned because of that time in Vietnam where that chest cold turned into pneumonia. We’re in California and near plenty of medical help. If he takes a turn too bad for the worse, we’ll take him to see a doctor. There isn’t a need to worry about him.” Face attempted to reason with BA.
“Yes, there is. Sucker has enough issues without throwing in sickness. It might warp his brain even further. Make him even crazier than he is now.”
“Oh, come now, BA. That might be a good thing. It could end up balancing out. You never know.”
Hannibal rolled his eyes as the three of them devolved into squabbling. He caught sight of a motel through the trees.
“BA, there pull over, and let’s see if they have any rooms for rent.”
BA did as instructed and gave the shabby-looking place a wary look. Face did more than just give it a skeptical look. “Hannibal, this place doesn’t look clean enough for three healthy men. Let alone someone sick with what is probably the flu.”
“Ah, but looks can be deceiving. Sometimes these places are a little run-down but ultimately clean and well kept. We’ll have a look around the lobby, and if it really isn’t clean, we’ll leave and find somewhere else. Okay? Okay. BA, you stay here with Murdock.”
Hannibal and Face hopped out, and BA and Murdock were left alone in the van. Murdock stifled another harsh cough and sighed lightly. All he wanted to do was lay down and sleep for a week in his own bed. However, he didn’t want to risk getting any of the other people at the VA sick, so he would have to settle for a cheap hotel bed and the A-Team.
“You doing alright back there, sucker? You need more water?”
“I’m okay. Just want someplace that I can lay down and rest for a bit, not worry about being chased or shot at for a while.”
“Yeah, I get that.”
Murdock hesitated for a while but knew that BA wouldn’t make fun of him. “Truthfully, I really want to go back home to VA. Lay on my bed and watch my tv while I recover. It wouldn’t be fair to the others, though. I snuck out and picked up this bug. I can’t bring it to them.”
BA sighed lightly. “Yeah, we should’ve been more careful. We know better than to let you come into close contact with strangers. Your immune system is weak and unpracticed. You don’t get a lot of contact with germs in that hospital. It’s basically the only clean hospital on the planet.”
“Eh, it was bound to happen eventually.”
Their conversation was cut short as Face and Hannibal returned. Hannibal was holding a key card in his hand.
Face shrugged at them a little chagrined. “He was right. The place is clean and well-kept if a bit old and outdated. Looks like we’re staying here for the night. Everybody okay with that?”
He made eye contact with Murdock, who just shrugged lightly.
“Shut up, fool. He just wants to lay down and sleep. He don’t care where we are as long as it’s safe and clean. Where am I parking the van? We need to get him into bed as soon as possible.”
Hannibal pointed to a spot, and BA pulled in quick. They didn’t have a lot of things with them to take in, so it was only a minute to get ready. BA and Face got on either side of Murdock to make sure that he wouldn’t fall, and the two of three of them followed Hannibal their room door. Hannibal opened it to reveal a clean, tidy room with two beds.
“Alright, who wants to share with our sick friend here?”
“I do. I always share with Murdock, even when he is sick. Works best that way. However, a double room, really?”
Hannibal shrugged. “Cheapest they had, and I didn’t think that any of us wanted to be separated from Murdock for that long.”
BA and Face conceded the point. Murdock settled on a bed and almost immediately fell over. He sighed as Hannibal worked to get his shoes and jacket off. Then he pulled back the covers, and Murdock wiggled his way in.
“Alright, Captain. You’re safe here. Feel free to rest as long as you need. We might wake you up for some medicine and water, but other than that, you just feel better. That’s an order.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll do my best on this mission. Now, I’m going to sleep.”
Hannibal stroked his cheek gently. “Good night. Sleep well.”