Face and BA would of been 21/22, Hannibal 35 and Murdock about 28 in 1972.
I own no rights to the A-Team just borrowing the characters for my first attempt at writing
Kelly was not happy as she rode across the ranch, she had been full of enthusiasm when she started this adventure. Seeing the world before starting university the following year had been a good idea. A country girl from England, she'd secured a job on the ranch in Lompoc. Her excitement at being told by the employing agent she would be working for an undisclosed movie star had quickly faded.
Soon after arrival she had found herself in the company of eight other students, all wanting to live the dream. Yet they were left alone to manage the thousand acre ranch. Apart from the weekly arrival of the store truck with supplies and wages they never actually saw anyone.
Over the first three weeks all the other staff had left, Kelly had waved good bye to the last girl the day before. Determined to not give up on her American dream She wondered if she could stay there on her own for the summer. The agent probably only wanted people living there, the cattle and horses pretty much looked after themselves. Working out she could earn enough to at least visit New York and see if she could pick up work there. Even if she did not end up staying as long as she had planned. Feeling slightly cheerier, she reached the far fence by late morning and started to track along its epic expanse, checking for weak areas or gaps.
In the desolate open pasture, sat below the forest edge, she saw the problem long before she reached the young steer. The distraught animal had his horns firmly tangled in the wire, it briefly trashed its legs weakly as she approached. Jumping off the pinto she had affectionately named Fred, Kelly quickly got to work. She bound the animals legs close to its hooves and tied a rag around his head sealing off the trapped animals sight, so it calmed. She then returned to her saddle bags and pulled out the wire cutters. Quickly finding she did not have the strength to cut the wire. Battling for an hour until her hands were red and bruised.
Sitting dejectedly beside the subdued animal, eating her lunch, while crying silent tears. It would take her the rest of the day to ride back to the ranch and call the neighbours to help. Even if they agreed they would not reach the steer until tomorrow afternoon. Basically signing a death warrant for the animal. She would not accept this option, she would not conform to being a feeble female.
Energy restored by the self pitying lunch she tried again. But hands would not meet the strength of internal determination. Using her knees on the wire cutters, quickly realising her jeans offered no protection. The lever, made out of stones, failed too.
Four hours, endless frustrated tears she realised she'd have to leave the steer to its fate. Cursing at not even having a gun to make the animals suffering end. She half smiled, with no clue how to use one, even with a gun she would probably shoot herself rather than the steer.
In frustration she threw her head back and screamed, only stopping to listen to the sound of her anger echoing around the pasture and forest. Fred, her horse, suddenly looked towards the forest. Scanning to see what had alerted the horse's sharper senses. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a slight movement through the surrounding tree line. Instinctively reaching for the horse's reins, wondering if there are wolves and bears in this part of America. Wishing she had done more research on wildlife before crossing the Atlantic. She breathed a sign of relief on realising it was a group of men. Climbing on to Fred, for safety, she watched with surprise at what could only describe as three wild men approached.
Did they have tramps in America or should she call them hobos? She thought to herself. It was two white men and a black man, who had obviously once been a mountain of a man but it was as if someone had sucked half his insides out as his skin and tatty clothes hung off his broad shoulders. She rode towards the men noting their faces were obscured by untidy beards, their clothes pretty threadbare and what was left of their shoes were bound to their feet with string.
Well if they try and attack me I think Fred can move faster than them to get away, Kelly reasoned with herself, pulling her horse up about twenty foot from the men.
"Howdy Miss" one of the white guys drawled "you got a spot of bother?" he continued waving towards the bound and blindfolded steer.
"Yep, can't cut him free" she replied calmly.
Hannibal and the others were well aware of the problem, they had been watching the girl for the last four hours, from the cover of the trees. Face considered the girl's calm tone was not backed up by the tears of frustration they had been watching or the streaks of clean on her cheeks where they had fallen. May be Hannibal had been right and this kid was only 13 or 14 years old, he mused, though Face had seen the swell of her breasts under her grubby white T-shirt and the curve of her hips in her tight jeans. He decided she could be anywhere between 14 and 25 and was quite attractive-in a rustic, dirty way.
"English" Face said as a statement.
"No shit Sherlock" The girl quipped back.
Face smiled at this feisty kid.
Kelly could not help notice how devastatingly stunning that smile was, despite the tatty beard. Her thoughts returned to the guy who drawled at her first. His grey and blond beard was so impressive he could have small animals living in there. Wondering to herself what animals in the area could live in a beard like his, cursing inwardly again for her lack of local knowledge. She was startled back in to the present by the sudden emergence of the black guy next to her and Fred. He had approached so quickly and quietly she was shocked to see him standing there.
Holding a hand out, in a low voice, "wire cutters."
Taken back, she stood in her stirrups, fumbled in her back pocket and handed them over. The black guy moved to the steer and quickly clipped the wire, freeing the animal in seconds. Forgetting her advantage and safety on the horse, the girl swung down next to the steer and quickly checked him over before removing the ropes and blindfold. The animal staggered a few steps then gambled off in to the pasture. Turning back to the men, she found they were repairing the cut fence with the same simple ease the black man had freed the trapped animal.
"Thank you, I really don't know what to say other than thank you, I thought he would die. I tried but I couldn't do what you three have done so easily. What can I do to say thank you? You are like some sort of heros right now." The girl gushed, forgetting about the fact a young woman standing with the three wild men of America, in the middle of no where, was probably at high risk. "Wh….wh…what's your names?" She asked tentatively, wondering do hobos even have names?
"I'm Hannibal, this is Faceman and your wire cutting hero is BA." The oldest man in the group replied, fixing the young girl with his strong blue eyes.
Not willing to be intimidated she met his gaze confidently. Hannibal could see it was genuine self belief, but also demonstrated how naive the kid was. This child must have some sort bizarre view of self preservation. Asking three strange men how she could thank them. Thank God it was him and his team who came to help. He carefully masked his frustration at the danger stupid civilians put themselves in.
"What are you doing out here?" Her eyes scanning up and down, quizzing him.
"Looking for ranch work with board and lodgings. Lost our truck ride and made a mistake thinking we could go it on foot." Hannibal gave his standard prepared answer. Thinking he should be the one quizzing the young girl about why she was out here alone. "You got any food kid?"
She reached in Fred's saddle bag handing over the cheese, bread and chocolate she still had, along with a flask of tepid tea. Watching the men eagerly devour her offerings she considered an idea. They seemed harmless and obviously kind as they had come to her aid. They could be her ticket to staying on the ranch and not having to go home. Not going back to the UK was her only priority. Throwing common sense out the window.
"Look guys," she interrupted their meal. "I'm working this ranch but the rest of the ranch hands have all quit. The owner's away for the summer so it's just me, a thousand acres and a few hundred horses and cattle." She squashed the nagging feeling she should not be sharing information on her isolation. "No one seems to care about leaving me in this crap. I don't have any authority but also no boss either. If you're serious about looking for work, think I can offer you something. You'll have to cope with no civilisation or people to speak to other than each other." She paused looking the men up and down, civilisation and these men did not go well together, "but the gig's yours if you want it."
"How far are we from Los Angeles?" Asked the guy with the stunning smile who Kelly remembered was called Faceman. Face was also thinking how stupid was this kid. Short of wearing a shirt saying vulnerable, attack me, could she be putting herself at greater risk?
"Couple of hours by truck and yes we do have one…." She trailed off. Damn they would just rob the truck now, what an idiotic thing to say. An inkling of how daft she sounded nagged at her.
"We get use of the truck and one day off a week." Hannibal stated rather than asked.
He was not about to let a good opportunity pass by. They might even be able to help the kid, at least keep her from getting raped or killed.
"And a wage?" At least Face made it sound like a question.
He had already read Hannibal's intention. They were not about to walk away from this naive kid. Not forgetting the bigger picture, they still needed money. If they were about to be educators about staying safe to a dim English girl they at least could get paid.
"The agent is paying for nine staff, wages come in once a week on the store truck. If you take the job we just split the money four ways." The girl suggested hopefully.
Hell this kid must several cards short of a pack, Face considered.
By now in her mind they had stolen the truck, a weeks worth of wages and she had been sacked. So desperate for an alternative to failing and having to go home Kelly found her words begging these men to stay. Reasoned thoughts about safety disappearing. She gave another inward shudder. She was a good judge of character and though she doubted these guys story, they seemed decent people. She was touched by their generous help. Nothing to trust but her gut instinct and her gut was telling her these men were ok.
"You just hired the team, Boss" Hannibal responded while stretching out a chapped, dried hand. Fixing the girl with his eyes and smiling, revealing even white teeth through his beard.
Trying not to wince at the firm grip on her bruised hand from the fruitless battle with the wire cutters, she nodded her acceptance.
"Kelly, I mean my name is Kelly, wow I've never hired anyone before. Are you sure? Are you just going to run out on me like the others? It's not easy….." her ramblings were brought to a close as Face put his hand reassuringly on her shoulder, showing another perfect pearly white smile.
"We ain't running out on you little sister, I mean Boss" BA spoke quietly while Face nodded in agreement.
She forced herself not to blush, thinking she could drown in the eyes of this Faceman even if the rest of his appearance resembled the walking dead.
"Best start back for the ranch then, otherwise we will be out here in the dark." The girl suggested, remounting Fred.
"Alright Boss" Hannibal replied, as the three men fell in beside the girl and her horse.
The group made their way back to the main ranch in silence, reaching the buildings just before six. Kelly tied Fred to a rail and showed the men the bunk house, communal kitchen, wash room with dubious shower and mentioned there were clothes and boots in the bunk house.
Leaving the men to themselves she sorted Fred out. Busying herself feeding the farm dogs and horses corralled near by, collecting eggs from the chicken house. Only reminded about the new staff when the alluring smell of bacon and potatoes wafted by a couple of hours later. Food, god she was hungry. Best wash up and go get something to eat she thought, suddenly feeling shattered. She dunked her hands in a near by water trough and headed for the kitchen.
Opening the door she gave an involuntary gasp. Staring wide eyed at the sight. All three men now washed and clean shaven, dressed like proper cowboys in jeans and checked shirts. BA and Face sat at the table playing cards while Hannibal looked up from the stove.
"Perfect timing ki…Boss, grab a pew, foods up." Eyes glinting with a cigar hanging out the corner of his broad smile. The kid looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights he considered.
Kelly couldn't think of a thing to say as she followed his direction and sat next to BA while a plate of food was placed in front of her.
It was Face who broke the silence "How has a beautiful English rose got herself abandoned out in the middle of no where?" Continuing to shovel food in his mouth, making it clear it had been some time since any of them had a decent meal.
Rather than being embarrassed by the compliment she scoffed at the question. "Very dirty wilted rose right now." she chuckled sarcastically "Probably the same way three wild men rocked up on this ranch. Though you all look far less intimidating without the " she rubbed her hand over her chin "now I feel underdressed for dinner." There was a slight grin. "Compliments to the chef. You lot best not run out on me if you save trapped animals, damsels in distress and can cook, all in the space of an afternoon."
The men started laughing, the kid may be nieve but that lead to a strange confidence. They found it entertaining. They fell in to an easy conversation about nothing. For a couple of hours the guys taught the girl how to play a simple card game.
"Time to turn in" Hannibal stated "and Boss you look like you need a shower" he added smiling. "Whats the plan for tomorrow, Boss?"
Kelly rocked back on her chair thinking for a moment. "Got to sort the animals down here, then check the east side of the property."she paused "Can any of you ride?" She was met by three blank looks. "Guess we best get you fixed up with horses." She stood up raising an eye brow as she continued "So riding lessons all round then. See you at 6.30 for breakfast and we'll get started."
Kelly was surprised to find the dubious shower now suddenly spewed out gallons of hot water with about twice the power it had yesterday. May be I've crossed to the dark side and I'm hallucinating about these men. Or may be they are angels, especially if they can fix the shower. She smiled to herself just enjoying the sensation of the water. Her warning voice quieting. She reasoned if they were going to attack and kill her they would of done it already.
Coming out the washroom she noticed Hannibal walking round the perimeter of the main ranch, cigar still firmly in his mouth. She slipped out behind him wondering what he was doing, before crashing out on her bed. An hour later she looked out the window of her room, and saw Hannibal had been replaced by BA, just walking around. Odd, may be, but who cares these guys may just make her American dream reality, if they want to waste valuable sleep time walking around that is their choice. Anything was better than having to return to England.
The morning dawned, Kelly woke to the cockerel shouting to the world. She flexed her sore hands remembering yesterday's events. Well best find out if the truck has been stolen. she pulled on her jeans and a clean T-shirt. Scrapping her long blond hair in to a high pony tail she emerged from the stables. A sighed of relief to see the pickup truck and van still parked in the main garage, then she scanned around. It was only just gone 6 yet the corralled horses had several piles of hay, the dogs were lazing in the first warmth of the sun, obviously well fed and relaxed. She even saw the rail, which had been broken near the stables, had been fixed. Again the smell of food drew her towards the kitchen.
Entering to see the men tucking in to pancakes. All briefly rose slightly from their seats on seeing the girl. Hannibal waved towards a fourth plate warming on the stove piled with more pancakes. She grabbed the plate and started eating before even sitting down.
"Well I'm going to get fat at this rate" she mumbled through a mouthful of food.
"A soldier marches on their stomach" Hannibal said lightly. She noticed an uncomfortable stare from Face towards the older man. She chose to ignore the slight tension.
"I never meant for you to do the chores before breakfast, thanks for sorting the shower and corral rail too" she sounded a bit embaresed listing everything they had done while she slept.
"No problem….Boss" BA shyly replied. The girl smiled warmly towards him in true appreciation.
Face, having finished his food, lent back on his chair "There is nothing this man can't fix" enthusiastically thumping the black guy on the back.
"Only after you have got the stuff I need" BA replied, looking down at his plate.
Kelly looked between the men and could clearly see they had been together a long time. They had an unspoken connection. Thinking about Hannibal's soldier comment she formulated these where ex military men. Of course she knew about Vietnam, the British press had been scathing as to what the Americans had been doing there. But also painfully aware of the stories about horror, high fatalities and the screwed up men who having survived had returned shells of their former self. Deciding that must be the case she resolved not to ask them about it. Having an idea it was not something they would want to talk about. She could be wrong but it all fitted together nicely. It was none of her business anyway.
"Boss" Hannibal interrupted her thoughts "what next?"
"First, stop calling me Boss it ridiculous, I mean come on, my name is just Kelly"
"Ok Just Kelly, what would you like us to do next?" Face paused with a mischievous glint in his blue eyes " Boss" he added with a dazzling smile.
If they were sticking around for a bit he might as well charm the mark. It would make it easier to manage any difficult questions.
He really is handsome, and certainly knows it, bet he's a right player with woman falling at his feet, she considered before speaking. Carefully not responding directly to the good looking man sat opposite her.
"Well as you are bona fide cowboys now let's find out what your riding skills are like." Having grown up around horses the girl was unaware of the amused look between Face and Hannibal as her statement could be misconstructed to have a different meaning. "Have any of you ridden before?"
Face could not resist.
"Plenty of riding experience, Boss. Not so much on horseback mind you."
Despite the girl obviously being younger than the three men she was not that easily put off. "Come on guys" she addressed them as they chuckled to each other "We are on a ranch full of animals, if everything I say has an innuendo it's going to get tiresome bloody quickly." She confidently looked each man in the eye.
Face was impressed by this feisty English kid. Not even blushing, she obviously didn't suffer fools easily. Not even remotely intimidated by the three grown mens inside joke. She really was naïve or could it be astute? He would decide over the next few days. It'd be interesting finding out.
"Thanks for breakfast, I don't expect you to do all the cooking, but I warn you I can just about fry an egg and open a tin of beans and that's it when it's my turn." She made sure to keep her voice relaxed and confident. She would not let herself be thrown.
"I like beans and egg," Hannibal said around another cigar. "I did some horseback riding as a kid. Face what about you?"
"Yeah, long time ago though" Face replied as he turned his gaze to big black man who was glaring at his now empty plate "BA?" He questioned.
"No horses in the city." He refused to lift his eyes from the plate.
"Well I'll meet you by the corral in forty five minutes," the girl said. "Thanks again for breakfast" she nodded towards Hannibal as he seemed to be the self appointed cook.
These guys are very prompt, Kelly thought, as they arrived at the corral exactly forty five minutes later. The morning was filled with enough laughing between the men it was verging on hysterical. The girl instructed on how to catch a horse, the saddling up process and finally had all three mounted on the three quietest horses on the ranch.
Most of the horses were scared of BA so he spent a lot of time just trying to get near them. Face was chatting to the horses as if they understood him, he tried to reason with the bemused animals. Hannibal at least seemed to have a better idea and was soon mounted on a grey mare the girl had named Priscilla. She had no idea if any of the horses had names as that information had never been provided by the employing agent.
BA looked very wobbly on his mount Black Jack and Face, annoyingly, looked totally at ease astride Smoky. Kelly had put a leather strap round each horses neck and explained if they lost their balance each man was to hold the strap and not use the reins to stop them falling off.
BA had his strap very firmly gripped.
"Not scared are you?" The girl teased.
"BA ain't scared of nothing," he replied through gritted teeth.
More laughter as they got the horses to move.
"Think of the reins as a joy stick, forward means go, backwards means stop finally left and right is obvious." She instructed. "Now move with the horses movement, relax your hips and pelvis, go with the horse." She glared in a good humoured way towards Face waiting for a crude response. He caught her eye and smiled but said nothing as he was still concentrating on not toppling off his mount.
She stayed on the ground moving between each man correcting their position and reminding them to keep breathing. The girl then ran beside them one at a time as they got each horse in to jog. After another hour she let them break in to a lope round the corral.
Despite all the banter between the men at this new activity the girl was finally satisfied all three were relatively safe on their mounts. Suggesting a break to gather some tools and food before setting off to the east side of the ranch.
There was a lot of groaning as they dismounted. Kelly chuckled watching the men walk stiffly, legs askew like three John Wayne's, towards their bunk house.
"Hannibal, what the hell are we doing?" Face grimaced, once out of ear shot.
"Look kid this is the perfect place to regroup and lay low. No one is going to think about looking for us here. Plus you work your magic on the girl I'm sure she'll hand you the truck keys so you can drive in to LA and see Murdock. Play our cards right we can spend our days off with him."
"She isn't going to be a push over," Face snapped, feeling rather sore by the mornings activities.
"You can get anything you want Lieutenant. Were you not the best officer in the US Army at acquiring anything for nothing?" Hannibal challenged, as he slung his arm over the younger mans shoulders.
It was BA who secured the keys. Instead of going back to the bunkhouse Kelly saw him by the truck, hood open.
"You're welcome to use the truck as you want" she said, joining him. "It comes with the ranch, but I can't guarantee how reliable it is. I haven't dare even start it, let alone drive it. You all drive on the wrong side of the road and I only learnt just before I came out here."
"It's alright little sister, I'll teach you." BA shut the hood and wiped his oily hands on his jeans. "It won't hurt nearly as much as your horseback riding," he giggled with a surprising high pitch considering his previous gruff voice.
Face and Hannibal prepared themselves for another onslaught of discomfort, dreading getting back on a horse so soon. They came outside to find the big black man in the passenger side of the pickup truck as the girl drove round at speed, shrieking and laughing. Following BA's calm instructions, performing spins and racing off from a standing start. Wheels screaming with a hand break turn before reaching the next fence. Hannibal was leaning casually against a fence and Face sat languishing on the top rail. Both smiling at her obvious enjoyment. The truck slid to a halt next to them.
"Look guys, you don't need to ride out to the east pasture. I'll go on my own. I don't think any of you look like your butts would take another few hours in the saddle. I'm sure you'll find stuff to do round here or just chill out. " The girl beamed out the window.
"That's not going to happen, Boss," Hannibal firmly replied. "It's not safe for a kid to be riding out alone. If it's as far as we found you yesterday you're several hours from back up." This kid really did have a death wish and no common sense.
"What, you're not worried I may just go and pick up three random unshaven wild men from the East pasture? I mean how would I cope? Little girl all on her own out in the wilderness." She retorted with a grin.
She saw Hannibal bristle slightly at her teasing but held his gaze.
Damn kid. How had she read him so easily? Was it a female thing? He was used to dealing with overly confident young men but he hadn't dealt with a girl before. It was clear she was not going to follow his instructions. She had the mischievous look of a child who would do the exact opposite of anything he said, just for the sake of it. He sighed inwardly as he considered his options.
"Well have it your way then, you'll just have to come all the way back here if you have another fence problem" he replied, turning away as he lit his cigar.
Face watched the interaction with amusement seeing his CO uncomfortable and then smoothly change tactics to meet the opposition. He glanced at the girl, still hanging out the drivers window, her furrowed brow gave away her thoughts as she considered the older man's sensible appraisal.
Rather like a sullen child, complete with her lower lip thrust out she admitted defeat. "Ok I guess it does make sense if one of you comes with me. You know, in case I need wire cutting again."
Hannibal turned to see the petulant childlike expression, smiling at his victory, he nodded to his lieutenant. "You go kid."
Face was not impressed and went to protest but met a steely glare from Hannibal. He knew no sticking his lower lip out was going to change his fate. Slipping off the top rail muttering "Come on then Boss let's get this over with."
"I am not dragging anyone out for a four hour ride if they don't want to go," Kelly said firmly, losing her stroppy look and meeting the older man's gaze. Hannibal wanted Face with the girl so he could cast his spell and get her wrapped round his little finger but the defiance she gave he knew she wouldn't budge a second time. Damn women!
"Right, well I like that grey. Cilla you called her? It looks like it's you and me Boss" Hannibal's eyes twinkled at the kid. If she had been a man he bet she would have been a good soldier.
An hour later Kelly and Hannibal headed out to the east with a third pony carrying rather a lot of tools and equipment the girl would of never have thought of, but Hannibal insisted was necessary. Something about being prepared. She also noticed he'd found the guns on the ranch. A shot gun was slung across the pack pony and he had a hand gun of some sort tucked in the back of his jeans. Face smirked up at his colonel and sincerely wished him luck as he could see the girl took no prisoners.
Hannibal rode out side by side with Kelly, he was quietly impressed by this girl as they went in amicable silence. He wanted to find out more about the kid. But that would involve a two way conversation, which meant she would be asking him about his background. He was not ready to reveal anything and without discussing a back story with his men, he didnt want to risk a being caught out. So they remain silent as the girl navigated across the epic ranch with surprising ease considering she said she had only arrived three weeks ago. Hannibal comment on her ability.
"It's easy, I just ride out in the right direction and the horse I'm on knows when we turn for home how to get back. I trust their instincts far more than my own." She paused, trying to explain better. "In fact I trust them more than most people." Hannibal raised an enquiring eye brow towards her so she continued. "Well look at you guys, Fred seemed to think you were ok as you stumbled out the forest and that young steer was just grateful you came to save him from my rubbish attempt to help."
She was obviously impetuous, very naive but also had a strange common sense, different than most kids her age. May be that is where the confidence came from. It took guts to arrive alone in a different country and believe in herself enough to not quit at the first hurdle. The girl was a real enigma, it'd be interesting finding out her story. Hannibal could feel he was going to like this kid. He had a feeling the kid needed to be protected against the world so her simple beliefs and feisty attitude wouldn't be crushed.
Finally curiosity won out. "How old are you Kelly?"
She was taken back by the first use of her name so replied straight away "19 sir."
"And your folks don't mind you being thousands of miles away on your own?"
"Do yours?" She laughed back.
Realising the conversation was finished Hannibal didn't reply, instead concentrated on balancing on the moving horse while trying to light another cigar. He'd find out what he wanted soon enough.