Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Disclaimer: I do not own The A Team movie or television series or any of the delightful characters found on The A Team.

Chapter 1 A Difference of Taste

He wanted to enjoy Valentine's Day alone with Daniela but when your bed is in the psychiatric ward of the V A hospital, you have to depend on others to make it happen.

Who he had to depend upon was increasing his anxiety level to the nth degree.

Normally when Face scammed him out of the hospital for an overnighter, it wasn't a big deal. Just one of those things and usually for good reason. No fuss, no muss.

This was different.

Several thoughts were nagging at him, nibbling at his composure like so many rats gnawing on a loaf of stale bread.

A double date meant he would have to share Daniela most of the evening with Face and whatever girl he charmed into a one night stand. Daniela and he would be forced to engage in small talk with them until Face made his move. Only then would his buddy allow them to have time alone. If the girl was one Face would rather not spend his night with, they would not even get that.

That wasn't the only issue, though. Because Murdock lived a sheltered existence at the V A hospital, he didn't know a lot about where to take Daniela for a romantic evening. Face was making all of those plans because he knew about what women enjoyed and where they liked to go.

Nor could he make reservations for dinner or any of the other things a man normally planned for his sweetheart on Valentine's Day.

But Murdock was way beyond normal and so was their relationship.

She was his sweetheart. She had as much as told him that. But she was also one of the ward nurses. During his most delusional episodes, she cared for him. She comforted him late evenings and early mornings when nightmares jolted him awake, making him scream in terror. Since she came to occupy his waking thoughts, the nightmares had become much less frequent. She was his angel.

Of course, they were discreet about their times alone. Daniela would lose her job if anyone knew for certain about them. When any of the other personnel hinted to Daniela they knew about the relationship, Murdock and she avoided direct contact as much as possible until the suspicions died down again.

Those times when they had to be apart were hungry, lonely times for him. From a distance, he stared at her while she performed her nursing duties, drinking in and memorizing every movement, every graceful line of her figure. He ached for her.

He wished they could have a normal relationship like other folks. One that didn't need to be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.

Then there was Face. The conman was so confident in his manhood that he felt he had to advise Murdock in the finer art of winning women. It was almost like an older brother giving hints to a younger brother in love for the first time. If not for their friendship, the pilot would have refused to listen long before this.

Murdock wanted to get a gift for Daniela. She had been so thrilled with the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers album he got her for Christmas that he was sure he could follow it up with a collection of Astaire-Rogers movie videos. They could watch the movies together, maybe even practice some of the dance steps. She loved to dance and he loved to dance with her, especially when it came to close cheek-to-cheek ballroom dancing.

Face protested. Maybe a nice necklace or a scarf in her favorite colors but not another album or video and definitely not something old-fashioned. In the end, Murdock found a fine gold chain with a delicate filigree heart he thought she might like.

Murdock wanted to buy a corsage for Daniela to wear that evening. He wanted to have a tiger lily as the central flower with daisies surrounding it. The tiger lily he hoped was a vague reminder of him and the image of the tiger on the jacket he treasured. He knew she loved daisies. It reminded her of her childhood. She told him she spent hours weaving daisy bracelets and necklaces for herself when she was young.

When Face and he were finally in the Corvette heading back to the beach house for last minute preparations, the conman told him he got Daniela's corsage. "But I really thought she would prefer something a little more feminine and special."

Murdock tensed and asked through gritted teeth, "What did you get instead?"

"Pink rosebuds with a touch of white babys-breath." Face smiled in a satisfied way and Murdock frowned at the passing scenery.

Upon entering the beach house Face had scammed for several months, the conman scrutinized Murdock's appearance. The pilot had worn his t-shirt with the screen printed tuxedo design, his nicest khaki pants and his black uniform dress shoes. Murdock groaned internally when he saw Face shake his head and go to the closet in his bedroom.

"Here. Put this on. We're going to a very nice formal restaurant and you want to be presentable." The three-piece suit Face offered him was dark blue. He dug out a light blue shirt to match. The Lieutenant held several neckties up to the suit and shirt until finding one with narrow diagonal stripes in shades of blue.

"Aww, Face! Do I hafta wear a suit? It's uncomfortable."

The conman gave him an injured look until Murdock relented. Face's suits were tailored to his own proportions and Murdock found his additional three inches of height made the hem of the dress pants skim his ankle bones. Likewise the sleeves of the suit jacket were an inch above his wrist bones. He was somewhat thinner than Face and the clothes felt like they hung on him. The somber color made him feel like he was about to attend a funeral.

But they were finally on their way to pick up Daniela at her apartment and Wendy at her house. He sighed out his relief. Murdock was certain once he was sitting beside Daniela in the Corvette, the evening would turn out better than what the warning bells in his head were indicating.