Okay, here's the disclaimer: I don't own them. I never will. I used to think that I did, but I was just in denial.
I wrote this while listening to Paul Overstreet's song "Heroes" and thinking about a moment in the episode "Curtain Call", where Decker was reflecting on the times the Team had escaped him. It was written relatively quickly. Hope you like!
BTW, I am working on an A-Team fic that has an actual *plot*, but it's going to be a while. So you'll just have to settle for the short emotional pieces for now. 'Kay? :-)
"Heroes come in every shape and size,
Makin' special sacrifices for others in their lives:
No one gives them medals,
The world don't know their names,
But in someone's eyes, they're heroes just the same."
Paul Overstreet, "Heroes"
I grew up as an Army brat. Now, before you start the jokes, I've heard them all before. Several times, in fact, since my family changed towns about as often as we changed shoes. The truth is, I'm proud of my Army brathood — there aren't as many of us around as there used to be, now that fewer and fewer people choose the Army as a career. I'm proud of the fact that my Father served his country. And I'm proud to say I grew up on a variety of Army bases scattered all across the States.
I loved it. On the base there was always something going on, something to see, and someone to talk to. I heard stories from all around the world -- Vietnam, Japan, Germany, France, England -- but the ones I loved the most were the ones my father told.
My mother died when my little sister, Libby, was only four months old, so Daddy was left to raise the four of us -- Libby, Ryan, David, and me -- all by himself. I don't know how he found the time, between working for the Army and taking care of us kids, but he always had time to tell me stories.
My favorites were the ones about his job -- about chasing bad guys at breakneck speeds and bringing lawbreakers to justice. Those stories made my father seem like a superhero, like Batman or Spider Man. I knew in my heart that my daddy was the best Colonel in the Army -- no questions asked.
There were other stories, too -- about the Wars in Korea and Vietnam. Those stories didn't come until I was older, until TV and movies brought the horrors of war to life before my eyes. Then I asked questions, hard ones, and my father -- his voice soft and full of sadness, his eyes not meeting mine -- did his best to explain. Those stories were harder to hear; but my dad's status as a hero was still never called into question.
I was fifteen when my dad met his match. He came home one day, his face like a light, and I knew that something wonderful had come his way. The news, however, would have to wait.
Six-year old Libby swarmed all over Dad, chattering about her kindergarten teacher's new baby. Then eight-year old Ryan wanted to tell him about Little League, and David, a ten- year -old boy scout, wanted to ask about tying a bowline knot.
Finally, with dinner on the table, the news came out. "I've been given a new assignment." Dad said. "It could mean a promotion."
He filled in the details amid a joyous clamour. Any kid raised on an Army base knew that a promotion was a good thing -- even if, like Libby, they weren't quite sure what it was. Daddy grinned at me. "Well, Jen? What do you think? Think I can catch them?"
I threw my arms around his neck. "Daddy," I said truthfully, "I think you can catch anyone."
Well, nobody said I was always right.
A month or two turned into a year, then another. When Ryan was nine he came home with a bloody lip.
"I socked a guy." He said, his chin jutting out proudly. "He called my dad a loser."
I almost went to school with him the next day just so I could sock the kid, too. Soon, though, I was hearing the same thing in High School.
"Hey, Jenny, seen any fugitives lately?"
"Yo, Jen, why doesn't your old man give up?"
"Uh-oh, better hide the van! Here comes the MP's daughter!"
I started hating *them* for what they were doing -- to my father's reputation and to my father, as well. I was sure his hands had never shook before he had taken this job. He seemed to get older and more exhausted every day.
One day he came home with news. His old friend Tom Crane drove him to the door, and he sunk onto the couch with a sigh.
"It's over, Jenny." He said. He sounded more relieved than anything. "We're going to be transferred."
I sat next to him and put my head on his chest. His heartbeat sounded softer, somehow -- tired and old. He stroked my hair like he had since I was a little girl.
"Maybe," He said softly, "It's all for the best."
I thought, then, that it was finally over --that by picking up house and moving we could escape *them* and our part in *their* story.
As I said before, I'm not always right about these things.
The trial caught all of us by surprise. Although he protested, his superiors insisted -- they wanted and needed his testimony. He hugged me tight before he caught the plane to LA.
"After this," He promised, "It will all be over. We'll put it all behind us. I swear." And then he grinned like a kid with a secret. "Don't tell *anyone*, but I'm going to tell the whole courtroom exactly what I think." And then he went to board the plane.
Maybe being wrong about what's going to happen runs in the family.
He came back an old man, sad and tired and disillusioned. "I sold out, Jen." He said softly, his blue eyes faded. "I told them what they wanted to hear."
And then he told me how a man named Stockwell had threatened our happiness -- even our safety -- if my father didn't say the words Stockwell had placed in his mouth.
"I've killed them, Jenny." He said.
I knew, then, that it was up to me to put it all behind us. I looked him straight in the eyes.
For three years, none of us -- not Daddy, not the kids, and not me -- ever talked about *them*. *They* were dead now, so what did it matter?
But then came the day *they* showed up at our door.
Well, *he* did, anyway -- the one my father had tried the hardest to catch. Frost-blue eyes smiled and sparkled as he removed his uniform cap and introduced himself.
"You must be Jenny." He said, "Is your Dad at home?"
"No." I lied. He was upstairs, helping Ryan with his homework. "I'll tell him you came by."
His face fell. "I'd appreciate that. I'm sorry I missed him." As he turned away, he added, "We were friends, once, a long time ago. There were things between us . . . that I'm sorry we left unsaid." He suddenly looked very tired and very sad.
I faltered. "Wait."
He turned back around.
"He's upstairs. Wait here and I'll get him."
I'd expected my dad to get angry, or at least to be shocked. But he looked like he'd always known this was coming.
*He* nodded. "Rod."
They didn't say anything to each other for a minute. I saw, between them, the awkward silence of two people who had been enemies for years -- only to find themselves, suddenly, with nothing to be enemies over. I wondered, not for the first time, what Daddy had meant three years ago. *I intend to tell them exactly what I think.*
Finally, Daddy nodded. "Why don't you come in?" He turned to me. "Jen, would you mind . . . helping Ryan with that algebra?"
So I don't know what they said to each other. But I do know that, much later, when they said goodbye, the awkward silence had eased some. They weren't two Colonels, anymore. They were just two old men with a lifetime of history between them.
I think they made their peace.
It's ironic, I guess, that they ended up here together. Maybe the person who laid out this place had an ironic sense of humor. Maybe it was just chance.
Either way, they're here now, only a few yards apart -- as though in death my father finally caught up to *him*. They spoke only a few times after that first reunion. They became allies, acquaintances -- if not exactly friends, then at least not enemies. I think it did them both good.
I run into The Others here, every now and again. The blonde one, especially, comes by a lot. I think they must have been close.
They call *them* heroes, now. I guess, to most, that makes my father the villain.
To most. But not to me.
It's simple, his marker. You can't afford much on a pension.
COLONEL RODERICK MATTHEW DECKER
SERVICE IN KOREA, VIETNAM, AND AMERICA
"I HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, I HAVE FINISHED THE RACE, I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH" 2 TIM 4:7
That and the date are all it says. Not the story of the years he spent chasing the A-Team. Not the ridicule he suffered. Not the fact that a lot of people now consider him a villain.
Because they're wrong, you see, those people. They didn't know him like I did.
His name was Roderick Decker. He served his country faithfully for all the years he lived. He was a husband, a brother, and a friend. He was my Father.
And in my book, he'll always be the hero.