Standard fanfic disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters. I'm just borrowing them for, um, typing practice. Yeah, that's it, typing practice. They will be returned to their original owners (Glen Larson, if I'm not mistaken) suitably bandaged. Originally published in Compadres #25, from Neon RainBow Press, in 2004.

Paying Respects

by Susan M. M.

The A-Team/Alias Smith and Jones

Lieutenant Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith surveyed the carnage and smiled. He lit a cigar. "I love it when a plan comes together."

Templeton Peck, a. k. a. "Face," nodded. "Ahead of schedule and under budget. We might have to refund some of our client's money."

Bosco "B. A." Baracus -- the initials stood for "Bad Attitude" -- took the first aid kit and bandaged Murdock's arm. Anyone who had seen the beefy Black veteran berating and insulting the pilot non-stop for the past three days would have been surprised at how tenderly Baracus tended to Murdock's wound.

"How is he, B. A.?" the white-haired colonel asked.

"Ain't nuthin', Hanibal," replied B. A. No one looking at his Mohawk or the plethora of gold chains he wore would guess that he'd once been one of the U. S. Army's most spit-and-polish sergeants.

" 'Not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door, but 'tis enough, 'twill serve'," quoted Murdock, a slender man with brown hair. "Don't need a doctor, Colonel. I can always get it checked out when I get back to the VA." The pilot pretended to be crazy in order to get free room and board in the psychiatric wing of the VA hospital. His team mates -- who sometimes wondered how much was pretense -- broke him out of the hospital when they needed him to help on a mission.

Hannibal nodded. While he'd never stint on proper medical care for his men, doctors had the annoying habit of asking awkard questions -- questions men wanted by the law couldn't answer easily.

Just before the Vietnam "police action" ended, Hannibal and his men -- code-named the A-Team -- had been ordered on a top secret mission. Black ops -- in direct violation of international law -- but Hannibal had never been a by-the-book officer, and he hadn't cared. Hell, he'd preferred it that way. They'd snuck across the border, robbed the Bank of Hanoi, and returned to handcuffs instead of applause. Their CO, who had given them the orders, had been killed while they were on their mission. No one believed them when they tried to explain that they'd been ordered to rob the bank to cripple the North Vietnamese economy. They'd been tossed into a maximum security facility. To the army's embarrassment, they had escaped with ease.

Unable to clear their names, they had turned mercenary, disappeared into the Los Angeles underground, and now divided their time between solving other people's problems and running from the military.

"I need to make a side trip to Jericho," Hannibal announced. "Did you guys want to wait for me, or should I catch up with you on the road?"

"Don't like splitting up," B. A. grunted.

Face agreed. The baby-faced con artist had light brown hair, almost blond, and innocent looking blue eyes. He pointed to the mess they had made. "We weren't exactly ... inconspicuous. If Decker gets word of this, it'd be safer for you if you weren't alone."

"This side trip, is it something we can help you with?" Murdock asked.

Hannibal puffed his cigar contentedly, trying to conceal a smile. A line from Henry V crossed his mind: "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers." He couldn't ask for better troops, or better friends. "No, but you're welcome to tag along for the ride."

"Where's Jericho?" B. A. asked as he led the way to the van.

"About twenty minutes from here. It's on the county line, where Lincoln County meets Cheyenne."

B. A. drove their black van to Jericho, Colorado. Hannibal had him stop at a florist and went inside long enough to buy two long-stemmed yellow roses. Then he directed them to a cemetery on the edge of town.

"This won't take long." Hannibal opened the door and stepped out. "You can come or wait, your choice."

"Don't like graveyards," B. A. muttered.

"The worms go in, the worms go out, the worms play pinochle on your snout," Murdock sang.

"Rather go in a graveyard than listen to you sing." B. A. opened the driver's side door and followed Hannibal.

Face scrambled after them. He had no love of cemeteries, but he was as curious as a dozen cats. He wanted to know what Hannibal was up to.

"Hey! You guys aren't going to leave me all by my lonesome in a graveyard, are you?" Pretending (?) to be scared, the pilot hurried after his friends.

Although it had been over a decade since his last visit, Hannibal Smith had no trouble finding his way. He strode without hesitation to the proper marker.

It was a big stone, weathered pink granite. On the left hand side was carved the name "Joshua Smith" in big, bold letters. On the right side, smaller letters declared the presence of Emma Stoddard Lydecker Kendrick Smith. Between the two names was engraved a heart with the date 1882. Beneath each name were dates and a scriptural abbreviation.

Hannibal laid the roses on the tombstone. He brushed away the weeds, glanced at the initials HH carved in small letters in the lower left hand corner of the stone, and smiled. Then just as his grandfather had shown him when he was a child, he brushed the weeds back to hide the initials again.

"Who?" B. A. asked.

"My great-grandparents."

Face read the carvings aloud. "Joshua Smith. 1852 - 1927. Acts 26: 18." He paused a moment to concentrate, then recited, "Open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may find forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me."

His team mates just stared at him.

"Emma Stoddard Lydecker Kendrick Smith -- what a mouthful," Face continued.

"She was married three times," Hannibal explained. "Five children. My grandfather was her youngest."

"1854 - 1934. Good long life," B. A. said.

"She buried three husbands and two children."

"Proverbs 19: 14." Murdock looked at Face expectantly.

The con man thought a moment. "Houses and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord."

"I didn't realize you were a theologian, Faceman." Hannibal eyed his lieutenant speculatively.

Face shrugged. "Comes from growing up in a Catholic orphanage. The nuns made the kids memorize Bible verses when we were naughty."

"Pity you didn't get more out of it than just the words," B. A. growled.

Raised in an orphanage, Face was envious of family ties, but found them difficult to understand. "Hannibal, they died before you were born. Why -- why was it so important to come visit?"

Hannibal smiled. "Didn't I ever tell you how I got my nickname?"

"From your skill with tactics, I thought," Face replied.

B. A. nodded. " 'Cause you always trying plans nobody else crazy enough to do, like the idiot with the elephants."

Hannibal lit a cigar. He smiled. For a century the family had kept Joshua Smith's background a secret, but his team mates were his family. "That's only half the reason. C'mon, let's go home." Touching the tombstone in fond, silent farewell, he started back to the van. "I'll explain as we drive. It's a long story. It'll help pass the miles."


Author's Note: This is actually a sequel to a story I never finished, of how Hannibal Heyes was blackmailed into marrying a widow. Despite its inauspicious start, the marriage was reasonably successful. Unfortunately, the computer ate the story, and I've had too many other plot bunnies to put the necessary time and effort into reconstructing it.