Author's Note: I have always loved The A-Team. The recent movie remake of this old show has stirred my Muse, and so I opened a folder that had rested in a drawer of my desk for many, many years. There are several such folders, each devoted to a different show, as well as a few folders containing stories that are a product of my own over-active imagination. There was a time when it would never have occurred to me that any of these would see the light of day. My recent experiences with posting my Star Trek fanfiction have boosted my confidence, however. This scrawling was actually published on another site quite some time ago by a friend of mine, but it was written by me and I have decided that I shall test the waters here with this bit of introspective, character-study type of drabble and see how it goes from there.
=A= Face is Ticklish =A=
Murdock slouched in his seat, bored.
BA refused to play any kind of games with him. Hannibal was busy reading his newspaper in the passenger seat, smoke trailing up from his cigar. And Face... Murdock glanced at Face and frowned from under his baseball cap.
Seated next to him, his friend was gazing up at the ceiling, apparently deep in thought. If his eyes hadn't been open, Murdock might have thought he was sleeping. While there wasn't anything particularly disturbing about this (as they had been driving for some time and it was, after all, a dreadfully boring ride), something about his expression had kept Murdock from trying to amuse himself at the lieutenant's expense. He hoped Face appreciated this great effort, because BA wasn't nearly as much fun to annoy.
Murdock grumbled, and shoved his hands into the pockets of his battered brown leather jacket. He stared down at his worn, comfortably dirty high-top shoes for a moment, then brightened suddenly as an idea struck him. "Hey, BA—"
"Shut up, foo', I done told you I ain't playing I spy with you! Or any other crazy foo' game!" The big black man glared at Murdock in the rearview mirror for a moment, then returned his attention to the road.
Murdock rolled his eyes. "Well, no one will play with me, and you yell at me if I play by myself, and I'm bored!" he complained. As an afterthought, he added hopefully, "Are we there yet?"
BA glanced at the silver haired man next to him. "Hannibal!"
The colonel sighed around his cigar, and lowered the paper. Looking over his shoulder at Murdock, he said, "Read one of your comics or something, Cap'n. It's not too much farther."
Murdock slouched farther in his seat. "I did already. Twice." But he fell silent, and this seemed to satisfy both BA and Hannibal.
Murdock stared at the sunlight glinting off of BA's rings as he gripped the steering wheel. He imagined they were tiny fairies trapped inside the thick metal bands, and entertained himself with stories of their adventures. After a while though, the fairies managed to escape from the bejeweled rings with the help of the tiny dragons living in BA's mound of gold necklaces. Clouds were gathering overhead, the shine from the rings fading, and Murdock laughed to himself at the notion of BA covered in sparkling fairies, flitting about his face as they flew off to freedom in the sky.
BA glanced in the mirror again, scowling. The fool had been staring into space for the past hour, and his soft laugh broke the silence. He should have known it was too good to last. Sure enough, Murdock opened his mouth and asked again if they were there yet. BA didn't answer. Just glowered. Murdock scowled back, then grumbled and went back to staring off into space. BA was beginning to regret his insistence that they drive to Arizona to meet their next clients. At least if they had tricked him onto a plane, he could have slept through this. In fact, he was still surprised they hadn't.
Maybe they were learning.
He glanced at Hannibal. The man had long since finished with his paper, and it was folded neatly and resting on the dashboard. The colonel had his arms crossed over his khaki hunter's vest, and was staring out the window. Probably thinking about the upcoming mission, planning. They didn't know all the details yet, but there usually weren't many to tell. It sounded like a fairly simple operation. BA's permanent scowl deepened slightly. Yeah. Right. Simple.
BA's eyes flicked to the mirror again, this time checking on Face. The lieutenant seemed to have finally fallen asleep, his seat tilted back and his eyes closed, legs stretched out before him and crossed at the ankles. A fringe of honey colored hair fell across his eyes as his head drooped onto his shoulder. His perfectly manicured hands rested across his stomach, folded neatly. The fading sunlight glinted off the Rolex watch on his wrist. He had changed out of the white medical coat he had used to break Murdock out of the VA, and instead wore a pale blue suit jacket over the white slacks. The dress shirt was crisply pressed and the tie perfectly straight. BA could see nothing out of place, but something wasn't right.
Face had been quiet the whole trip so far. Even the crazyman seemed to have noticed and avoided bugging him. He wondered what was eating at him. He had seemed okay yesterday. But this morning, as he and Murdock had climbed into the van around the corner from the VA, Face had just seemed... off. He had smiled and joked about the latest gig to spring Murdock from the hospital, but it was the conman's smile. They could all see through it, but they didn't question him. Face would either get over it, or eventually tell the team what the problem was. Having completed his rounds and satisfied that his charges were more or less all right, the sergeant returned his attention to the road.
Murdock was trying to figure out what to do with his gum. It had lost its flavor ages ago. They didn't let him have gum at the VA. He supposed they thought he'd choke on it or something. He considered sticking it somewhere, just for BA to find later and so he could have the fun of leading the huge man on a chase while being threatened with bodily harm for such a sacrilegious act. He smiled at the vision. It didn't require much imagination at all; the scene had been enacted so many times over a variety of similar crimes. While it was fun in itself to annoy BA, Murdock enjoyed the laughter of the rest of the team at the antics even more so. Having noticed the quiet mood of the day, however, he settled for shoving the sticky wad in his pocket.
He rested his chin on his folded hands, elbows on his knees, and stared at Face. Something was bugging the conman. Now, as much as Face would whine endlessly about the most inconsequential of things, he never complained about anything that mattered. He could be bleeding to death, and not a sound would be heard, except perhaps to bemoan his stained clothes. Murdock tilted his head at his best friend. Then he glanced at BA, gripping the wheel in stony silence and staring straight ahead at the road. It had started to rain, and the streetlamps above the highway shimmered in reflections on the pavement. Without moving his head, Murdock looked over at Hannibal. He was still staring out the window, chewing pensively on an unlit cigar.
He returned his gaze to Face. Well. This would simply never do. He pondered the predicament for a few moments, then smiled. Chewing on his lower lip and grinning, he silently leaned forward and slowly stretched out a hand towards Face. Murdock reached under Face's arm, gently pushing aside the cloth of the suit jacket. Half an inch from actually touching the man, Murdock spread his fingers and wiggled them, like an athlete stretching before a run. Then, with a wicked grin, he poked a single finger between Face's third and fourth rib.
The reaction was instantaneous. Face snapped awake with a gasp, automatically jerking away from the source of the attack. Murdock burst out laughing. Face blinked, still half asleep, then focused on Murdock.
Confused, not sure what had happened but knowing it was Murdock's fault, Face glared at him. "What?"
The pilot clapped his hands in delight, bouncing in his seat. "Face is ticklish!" he crowed merrily.
"No, I'm not!" Face instantly denied, with a look of sudden panic.
BA glanced in the rearview mirror. "What goin' on back there? You better can it, crazy foo'!"
Hannibal didn't look away from the window, but reached for the lighter in one of the pockets of his vest. Murdock had held out longer than he'd thought he would. He hid his smile behind the motion of lighting his cigar.
"Face is ticklish! Face is ticklish!" Murdock teased. To prove his point, he suddenly lunged forward and attacked.
Face gasped, surprised, and tried to fend off the probing fingers. "Get off me, Murdock!" he yelled angrily. He tried to block Murdock with his arms, but the lanky pilot had the advantage of him in reach. Face yelped, trying to twist away. But there was nowhere to go in the confines of the van, and he fell out of his chair in his desperate attempt to escape. "Murdock, I mean it - haha - get off me!" No matter how outraged one is at being tickled, it is simply impossible not to laugh while being so tortured, and Face was no exception. "Hannibal!" he pleaded.
Their commanding officer gave a long suffering sigh, and looked up at the ceiling. Suddenly, the van lurched and Murdock squealed in surprise.
BA yelled from the driver's seat, "Knock it off, you gonna crash us! Hannibal!"
Hannibal finally swiveled his seat to see what had happened, and nearly dropped his cigar in shock. Having abandoned all pretenses at dignity, his lieutenant had somehow managed to pin the captain to the carpet in between the two bucket seats. Straddling the pilot, he shoved both hands into Murdock's coat and returned the attack with a vengeance. Murdock screamed, laughing, and squirmed frantically. With a heave, he shoved Face off and they both tumbled towards the back of the van. Hannibal grabbed the armrest of his seat as the entire vehicle rocked from the impact.
BA was ranting loudly, but Hannibal was grinning as he waved his cigar to emphasize his next words. "Now, boys, you mind BA!"
The burly sergeant stopped in mid tirade, and glared at Hannibal, "What you say, sucka?" he demanded.
The van was filled with laughter and BA's bellows as Face and Murdock battled for supremacy. Hannibal just grinned insanely, and occasionally tossed out a pointer to one or the other combatants.
"Okay, okay, uncle!" Murdock finally wheezed, gasping for breath. Face had him in an expert military choke hold, his arms trapped behind his back. The conman released him, and flopped back into his seat. He nodded smugly at Murdock as the pilot hauled himself off the floor and into his seat. Both were breathing heavily, and grinning ear to ear.
"Crazy fools, both of you, oughta both be in that loony bin, always trying to get us killed! If you dented my ride, I'll kill you! If you hurt any of the equipment back there, I'll kill you! If—" BA continued in this vein, but no one was listening.
"Do that again, Murdock, and you're dead," Face growled, his expression perfectly deadpan. He ran his fingers through his disheveled hair, and the golden strands feathered neatly into place. He primly adjusted his tie, and settled into his seat.
Murdock nodded seriously. "No, sir, gotcha sir, you're not ticklish, you bet." Scooping up his baseball cap from the floor, he tugged it over his thinning brown hair, and slumped into his chair, his arms crossed.
Hannibal shook his head, and turned his chair. BA rumbled dangerously, and Hannibal closed his mouth on whatever he was going to say. Instead, he picked up the newspaper from the dashboard. Although it was cloudy, there was still enough daylight to read by. Silence had once again descended, but it was different somehow. He unfolded the paper and pretended to be reading, but his eyes went automatically to the same small paragraph.
He glanced in the mirror at Face. His lieutenant was once again stretched out in his seat, in almost exactly the same position, with his eyes closed. But there was a small smile on his face. Switching his gaze to Murdock, the colonel wasn't surprised to see the warm, dark eyes meet his in the mirror from under the brim of his cap. The captain smiled knowingly before pulling something out of his pocket and appeared to hide it under his seat. Hannibal decided he didn't want to know what it was.
He made it a point to know everything he could about his unit without prying into their lives. It was his duty as their commander to know their strengths and weaknesses. But as their friend, he considered it his responsibility to know them better than just that. Unbidden, his eyes wandered back to the obituary. There, a few short lines described the life and death of a priest beholden to a certain Catholic Church. A certain orphanage. Hannibal hadn't known the man, but he suspected that Face had.
Face might not ever mention it. Hannibal knew he might not ever know what was going on in his lieutenant's mind today. But he was very glad that Murdock had so forcefully reminded Face that he had family. Hannibal had been counting on that. He smiled.
He loved it when a plan came together.
"Are we there yet?" Murdock chirped.