Stand By Me
by Darth Stitch
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Belongs to 2 TV gods by name of Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell and is now a movie directed by Joe Carnahan. Will put the toys back when I'm done.
DISCLAIMER TO SAVE MY SOUL FROM GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET: I know. I'm so doomed. :P
WARNING: This story is part of a fan fiction series with slash elements. As in, two men being sweet on each other. So if this is not your cuppa tea, time to clicky-click on the back button and run like hell.
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
- Ben E. King
B.A.'s not deaf.
He's heard other people say some hella nasty stuff about his CO and XO for years. They smirk and they laugh and disguise it by saying they're just joking around. But B.A. knows trash when they're talking and he's got zero tolerance for it.
It's not that B.A. has anything against the whole thing – he knows how ugly the face of prejudice can be, even in the 21st century. The whole "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" thing is pretty fucking ridiculous – what the hell does a person's sexual orientation have anything to do with how they're going to fight in war? Bullets don't discriminate between a straight and a gay soldier – they kill you dead just the same. And when everything's gone completely FUBAR in just less than 30 seconds, it's the buddy fighting at your side who's got your back, who keeps you alive.
Hannibal, Face and Murdock had done that for him countless times. And B.A. would do the same for any of his buddies, no questions asked.
So when he hears other people starting in with their garbage about Hannibal and Face, he quickly takes care of business. They learn quickly that it's a lot healthier for them to keep their mouths shut if he's in earshot. B.A.'s not above busting a few heads in defense of his buddies.
He's not above dislocating a shoulder or breaking a bone or two either.
B.A. doesn't forget things.
His Mama used to say that her Scooter had a memory like an elephant's – everything goes on record and just stays in there.
B.A will never forget the look in Hannibal's eyes the first time they met, pointing that gun at him, clearly intending to hijack his van. B.A. had been wondering if this fool was SAS, because he figures that was the only way a crazy, obviously military-type Irishman could end up in Mexico. And then the Irishman says something about not being a thief and that he's just trying to save his friend. B.A.'s not budging at first – he wasn't about to give up his precious van to a total stranger, no matter how touching the sob story. But the Irishman pulls that trigger without another word and the fact that he deliberately chooses to just wound B.A. – a wound that would be painful but not life-threatening – that convinces B.A. that he's telling the truth.
Of course, he finds out that both of them were U.S. Army Rangers and the Irish guy's actually the infamous Colonel Hannibal Smith himself. The man is a legend – B.A. has heard all the stories passed on about the guy, whispered in almost reverent tones. Half of those stories were so unbelievable, B.A. would've been prepared to swear that the storytellers were on crack or something.
And then, B.A. realizes he's finally in one of those totally whacked-up Hannibal Smith stories and before he knows it, he's agreeing to drive like he's never driven before to save a fellow Ranger he's never even met. Then, they run into that crazy-ass fool Murdock and somewhere along the way, he's back in the Army like he's never left it, part of a team again.
Even if Murdock did leave B.A. with a fear of flying.
In almost over eighty missions for the past eight years, B.A. learns that's how Hannibal operates – he never leaves any of his men behind. Whatever happens, whatever the cost, he brings them all home and he takes it personal if one of them gets hurt. Face, B.A. and Murdock – Hannibal would give his life for any of them in a heartbeat.
B.A. will never forget that.
After all, Hannibal had never hesitated to pull that trigger.
B.A. is pretty tolerant.
You don't work that closely with the same set of guys for eight years and not end up getting to know them pretty well. Trust's not an easy thing to build, not when your life was on the line, but when it's there, it stays for keeps and it hurts like hell if it's betrayed. And when you go on mission after mission, blowing shit up, pulling each other's asses out of the fire, all the near-misses and those occasional bad moments when all of you are staring at Death full on – yeah, that really forges a team together.
And then there's the laughter and the jokes and the snarking and bantering and pranks being played, getting drunk together, swapping sob stories about women (Face, of course, who else?)… all those things that turn a team into something more.
Somewhere between one mission and the next Murdock-and-Face prank, they became a family and that was the real important thing.
So they all put up with each other's quirks and little habits.
Murdock loves his cartoons and his puppets and of course, there's always food, especially when he cooks them in weird and mysterious ways. It's delicious so they can live with the occasional after-effects. And while B.A. grumbles about it, all of them have learned to look the other way when Murdock leaves the leftovers from his latest culinary masterpiece for "Billy the dog."
And no, B.A.'s never heard that dog bark and yip and get under his own feet. Absolutely not – he ain't seeing no imaginary dog.
Face loves his comforts, his nice Armani suits and shoes and yes, he does have his beauty regimens. The fool's toilet kit has all these shampoos, lotions and other weird-ass girly stuff… it would put a woman's own make-up kit to shame. And then, Face turns on that million-dollar smile of his and proceeds to charm the panties off the next pretty lady walking by and B.A. figures that whatever Face does to keep himself looking good had to pay off.
Of course, that makes people forget that their team's LT is actually a tough hombre when push comes to shove. B.A. knows Face likes it that way. He knows the feeling - people usually take a look at B.A. and the fact that he is big and bulked up and equate muscles with stupidity. B.A. usually lets that slide – let the fools underestimate him at their peril.
When Hannibal's not hyped up on the jazz, he actually gets quiet and tucks himself some place where he can read. Hannibal likes to read and the reading list looks like anything and everything – Sun Tzu, histories, novels, sometimes a few books in languages that none of them can read (although B.A. has his doubts about Murdock). Every now and then, B.A. catches their Colonel reading comic books, laughing in that quiet way of his over whatever was so amusing in the funny pages.
And while Hannibal's got a pretty good poker face, all of them have learned to listen for that brogue, which creeps in every now and then and gives away how Hannibal's really feeling at the time.
B.A.'s not blind.
Okay, honest to God – there are just some things a guy doesn't think about his fellow guys. And then, Murdock had to go and really lay it out there, in that damn-fool way he had with things. It was only the fact that Murdock was crazy to begin with and that B.A. knew perfectly well that the pilot wasn't saying this stuff to be an asshole that saved him from a serious hurting.
He'll never admit it to Murdock but he knows the fool gets a lot more things than he lets on and B.A. might have a hard time sifting through all the nonsense, but inevitably, he can find the truths in there and Murdock's rarely off when he calls something out.
(Even if he really didn't want to think about what Face and Hannibal could be doing in the van on that particular day.)
But he's seen how Hannibal and Face act around each other. Their Colonel and Lieutenant have been together for quite a while before the four of them became a team and it shows at times. Not that they've ever made B.A. and Murdock feel out of the loop – far from it. It's as if the four of them just seem to click perfectly in sync with each other.
Murdock jokes that it's like they're married and the Poppa and Momma Bear nicknames make a weird Murdock-ish kind of sense in a way. The two of them watch over and look out for the other guy, are utterly comfortable in each other's personal space and even tend to finish each other's sentences at times. When all of them go out together, it's inevitable that Hannibal and Face will usually sit next to each other, unless of course, Face intends to flirt or Murdock and Face are up to something and God help anyone who's going to bear the brunt of whatever prank they're going to pull next.
When the day for them is over and the mission's done, they all find themselves ending up in Hannibal's tent and they just want to hang out together before they go back to their respective bunks for the night. Nothing remarkable happens during those evenings – sometimes, they're all just engrossed on whatever particular thing they like to do during their downtime. It's quiet, comfortable and oddly home-like.
But there's one particular night that really stands out in B.A.'s memory. It was just before they'd gone on that mission for those treasury plates and everything had changed for all of them.
That time, B.A. had been tinkering idly with an old radio – it just gave him something to do and made him take his mind off things. Murdock had just wandered in with a PSP in hand, clearly engrossed in a video game. And Hannibal had also just tucked himself away in the corner with a book, sitting on this huge, old, battered couch that Face had managed to scrounge from somewhere.
And then, Face finally wandered in, pillow under one arm, pushing his IV pole. The bruises and the bandages on his left shoulder and his lower left side, near his hip, were mute testimony to the last mission that they went on. He really shouldn't have been out of bed yet – the docs would have thrown a hissy fit after all the convincing Hannibal did to get Face released to his team's care.
It was ironic that both Hannibal and Face are terrible patients – neither of them like being sidelined for long and watching them take turns over what Murdock called "Mother Hen" duty is hilarious. It also took the edge off over the inevitable worrying and fear that come with those times. They're soldiers – getting hurt in the line of duty, no matter how good the plan or how careful they are, is part of the whole package.
In fact, they'd all thought that they had already gotten Face settled in his bunk for the night and not wanting to disturb his sleep, had left him to rest.
Face evidently had other ideas.
Face and Hannibal looked at each other for a long moment, the wordless conversation coming in loud and clear to both B.A. and Murdock. And then, Hannibal sighed and Face smiled. It was not their lieutenant's usual megawatt expression. It was oddly sweet, just a touch sleepy and definitely contented.
Face set his pillow up against Hannibal's thigh, settled himself on the couch and was fast asleep in a minute.
B.A. and Murdock exchanged looks, knowing that they were wearing identical expressions of amusement but they knew better than to say another word, now that Face was sleeping and was likely to stay put where he was.
Hannibal, for his part, just kept reading, one arm draped over Face's pillow, his hand resting protectively over Face's unhurt shoulder.
B.A. really should have seen it coming.
Okay, B.A. did begin to wonder about it after that day with the van rocking and he got an inadvertent crash course on what the hell slash fan fiction was, which Murdock and Face both admitted to reading. There were some things he would have preferred to remain blissfully ignorant of and slash fiction was definitely high on that list.
He did see Face's point about Captain Kirk and Spock though. At least, Murdock and Face's snickering during that entire time they watched the new movie began to make sense.
He didn't see that it was any of his damn business. Sometimes, things like that were best left alone, at least until both parties could wake up and smell the coffee. But then, there was that drag show Face ended up doing (who knew Face could pull that one off?) and Hannibal had been roped into it (thankfully, not in drag).
They all knew that Hannibal and Face were perfectly good actors but that kiss wasn't like no acting B.A. had ever seen. Face insisted that it was just part of the show and Hannibal agreed, poker face on, giving nothing away.
Except, of course, B.A. could hear the brogue. And he was sure Murdock didn't miss that either.
"It's enough to drive a man sane," Murdock muttered darkly. And of course, only that crazy-ass fool could get away with saying something like that.
The two of them were busy loading their stuff into the van. At least they weren't going to lack for food for a good long while on the road – Aunt Roxie insisted on making sure they were well supplied. B.A. was definitely looking forward to the gumbo she'd be cooking for their farewell supper. They would be leaving early in the morning.
B.A. sighed. Murdock had been grumbling under his breath about whacking certain stubborn, oblivious idiots upside the head with Clue-By-Fours the entire time.
"Sooner or later, Faceman's gonna catch on to the fact that the Colonel's always been sweet on him, just like he be on the Colonel. Even if Hannibal didn't know it at the time. Best we leave 'em be."
Murdock blinked and turned to stare at him. They'd never really talked about this – B.A. knew his role in this little comedy act they had. Most of the time he was the straight man, unless of course it was time for him to crank things up a little and then he'd switch sides just for the hell of it. But for the most part, somebody around here had to be the sane one because sanity wasn't forthcoming from his other buddies any time soon.
One thing about Murdock, he caught onto things fast. The surprise gave way to relief and then, he beamed, blue-green eyes sparkling wickedly. "Bosco! Welcome to the Land of Slash!"
B.A. groaned. "Don't you be making me read that perverted stuff on the Internet! I'm living in one of those stories already!"
"Somebody around here had to be the token straight guy, Bosco," Murdock chortled.
"No," B.A. corrected him. "Somebody around here has to have the common sense because all y'all keep acting like a buncha crazy-ass fools!"
"Yeah," Murdock said reflectively. "Hell of a job, ain't it? Good thing you're on our side, Bosco."
B.A. eyed him suspiciously, because he's really not much for the mushy stuff – really, he wasn't. "You gettin' all soppy on me, fool?"
Murdock actually batted his eyes at B.A. If it wasn't their CO and XO, it was this one. "I love you, man." He raised a hand before B.A. could say anything in response. "In a completely platonic, non-slashy, brotherly kind of way, okay?"
B.A. blinked. "Uh. Okay." What the hell else was he supposed to say in response to that?
Murdock's eyes twinkled. "We'll leave the naughty slash bits to Momma and Poppa Bear."
B.A. facepalmed at the unwanted mental images. Yeah. He had his hands full.
And Murdock kept on going: "If I ask ya real nice, Bosco, would you build me a Clue by Four? So I can twhap Face upside the head with it?"
That he could answer easily. "Read my lips: Oh. Hell. No."
Yeah. Somebody had to look after these fools.
He wouldn't have it any other way.
- end -
Author's Notes & Muses' Commentary
Poor Murdock's getting all out of patience.
Murdock Muse: I'm serious! How could he miss the Clue Bus with a kiss like that?
And B.A. needed to have his say on the whole thing too.
B.A. Muse: (hands Murdock the Clue by Four even as Stitch stares at him) What? I been gettin' tired of those two dancin' 'round each other!
On a side note, I was amused to discover that "Stand By Me" still has a Beatles' connection (thank you, Wikipedia) and was recorded as a single by John Lennon. I gotta look for that recording.
There shall be Fandom Soup forthcoming. I think. (gulps nervously at the horde of Plot Bunnehs still waiting in the wings)