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"Sifting Through the Ashes"

Sifting Through the Ashes
By Kristen

Disclaimer: I do not own the A-Team or any of its characters. No profit is intended. This is all in fun, so please do not sue.
Summary: Murdock, BA, and a collapsed building.
Thanks to Closetfan for being a great beta reader. All of your support and advice, made this story feel so right in the final stages. My mantra will always be "Do Not Fear the Red Ink!"

This contains a good bit of angst, you have been warned.


There was shouting and arguing. He ignored all that and started running. He didn't think about what he was doing, just that he had to watch his friend's back and that was all that mattered. Getting pissed off at him for running into a really dangerous situation, well that was something he would pound away at him for later. So, he followed after the fool into the building.

Then just as suddenly he heard metal screeching against metal. A deafening roar filled his ears, chaos erupted all around them. Then just as abruptly, there was silence.

That's how it all started.


All he could think of was to get out from under the beam. His leg hurt - a lot - but he couldn't get it to budge. He squinted his eyes in the semi darkness. The dust was still settling from the recent collapse, and BA was having a hard time seeing anything through the gray haze of debris in the air. Despite his poor field of vision, he searched from his vantage point for the man he had chased after inside, while continuing with his struggles to free himself.

The big man's veins popped along his head from the force of extracting his limb from the fallen object. The beam would just not budge. BA lay on his right side, the beam along his left leg. The rest of his body was free so he began to claw at the ground, like some desperate trapped animal. The gold jewelry around his neck made clinking noises in the darkness. After a few moments, BA caught sight of the person he was searching for. Upon seeing the quiet, prone figure on the floor, he began to yell.

"Murdock, Murdock!" BA tried to get his attention, "You crazy fool, stop day dreamin and look at me!"

"I'm here.......It's'm going anywhere," came the pilot's sarcastic reply.

BA scowled at him, his lips twitching into a frown, his eyebrows scrunching in anger. He released a harsh grunt as he wiggled around some more.

"Hey Big Guy, ... you're only going to aggravate any injuries... by doing that," Murdock, reprimanded.

"My leg ain't broke, its just stuck under this damn pole," BA grunted, not appreciating the little lecture.

"I'd lay still till Hannibal and Face come get us," the pilot replied, then coughed a little.

BA just stared at him, not understanding the calmness in the pilot's voice. The usual gruff man, needed a moment to compose himself. His first glance at Murdock's predicament made him blink in shocked disbelief. A sharp pole had impaled him through the left side of his back. It was no a large rod. If it had been, Murdock would have been dead. But, its diameter was about the size of a quarter and it had pierced through him above his left hip and had him pinned to the ground. The ceiling scaffolding that it belonged to still hung above him. The only thing supporting its massive weight was the small beam that has sliced through him and into the floor.

Murdock lay on his stomach, his right arm trapped beneath his own body. His breathing was coming in and out in short bursts, as he squeezed his eyes close from the pain. A layer of sweat dotted his forehead, and his body began to tremble. There were bloodstains on his light blue T-shirt, and a pool had developed on the ground around him. The pilot held on to his dark blue baseball cap while mumbling about how glad he that his leather jacket was in the van.

The dust cloud was settling a bit. BA tried not to think about the woman that had screamed for help. He and Murdock had been waiting for the rest of the team to return to the van. They had all split up and decided to meet back where they had parked near construction site. When they arrived at the van early, both men had noticed a commotion near the almost complete building. People were yelling for help and the both men went over to see what had happened. It had appeared for some unknown reason that an explosion had occurred. Part of the new building had collapsed and there was still a woman trapped inside who was part of an inspection crew.

People were arguing about whether to go back after her, but the foreman was not allowing anyone to try to rescue her, until the emergency units arrived. The head of the site argued with BA and Murdock about staying back till the "proper" help had arrived. However, the pilot had other ideas when they heard a muffled cry. Murdock made a mad dash past the crew, and in the turmoil of the construction crew trying to stop him, BA decided to go after him, and help.

"How long has it been?" Murdock rasped, looking at BA.

The sergeant quit his fruitless struggles at freeing himself to answer. "I don't know. About ten minutes since the roof collapsed around us," he responded gruffly, unable to cease looking around at their dismal surroundings.

Murdock nodded his head knowingly, frowning at his condition. "I'm glad I made arrangements with Richter to look after Billy if something bad ever happened. You know he gets real lonely when I go off and leave him, and....."

He gasped out loud, as his breathing became more laborious.

"Be quiet, fool, and save your energy. Stop carrying on 'bout stupid invisible animals that ain't there!"

BA huffed as he pushed at the heavy object on his leg. He grit his teeth so hard it was a wonder he didn't shatter a tooth.

"Of course I never did make any arrangements to have my sock collection handed over to Face, I know how much he would really take care of them, wash them in cold water, let them air dry in the sun......"

"Shut up you crazy fool, stop jibber jabbering about your things and just lay still!" BA shouted at his friend becoming more agitated with every word. His fight with the beam was taking the brunt of his anger. Murdock continued to ramble on about some stuffed animals and his video game collection.

"I really hate being pinned down like this, I mean I'm not claustrophobic, I stay in a 12 by 12 room all day most of the time, but this thing is kind of starting to hurt." Murdock stared out into space, "You really shouldn't have come in after me, should have just stayed by the van." Murdock closed his eyes in an effort to shut out the pain, but continued speaking. "Just don't understand why I'm trapped underground, just not fair, should just be up there in the sky just free falling if it was my time."

Hearing the injured man's words just fueled BA's struggle as he fought hard to set himself free despite any pain the moving around caused his leg. BA growled from the effort of pushing the beam and it budged just a bit.

Winning an inch at a time he yelled, "I came in after that girl too, had nothin' do with coming after you. Stop talking nonsense about your time, you'll be back at that looneybin before you know it. Face will be breakin you out there soon enough for some other crazy plan of Hannibal's. Then the both of you gonna try to drag me on another plane. Now stop squirmin' around, ain't gonna do ya any good movin about, ya hear? I'll beat you with this damn beam, unless you shut the hell up!"

BA had been battling with the beam as he yelled back at the pilot. Using his anger, the beam finally slid off his leg. He moved his hands over his limb examining it for a moment or two. Somewhat satisfied he crawled over to his friend, his face betraying the discomfort of moving. The sergeant dragged his leg and stumbled over to where the pilot lay. BA placed his hand on Murdock's head briefly, then placed his pointer finger against the artery of his neck.

Feeling a rapid, thready pulse, the big man whispered to his friend, "You're going to be fine, just fine."

Knowing that he needed to ascertain how injured the pilot was, BA gently pulled the flannel shirt away to reveal more of the stained T-shirt underneath. Staring at the pole sticking through the other man, he tried to present a more positive argument then the dreaded voices in his head were telling him from recounting too many war injuries.

"You ain't bleeding out that badly, wish I had ma damn tools."

"Seems like it's always the two of us that get stuck together in the most cramped quarters, why you think that big guy?" Murdock asked, still staring at the empty space in front him. He didn't have the energy to turn his head and look at the sergeant.

"I don't know why, all you try to do is make me as crazy as you," BA answered gruffly.

"Yeah, but all the time we spend together has had to give you a better personality, than that. I mean I've tried to teach you everything I know from all the classes I've taken at the VA, and yet you're still just as unsophisticated as the day..."

"Be quiet, sucka, while I figure out how to move you," BA yelled frustrated. "We can't move this pole. It's acting like a plug and pullin' it out will only cause more injury."

The bigger man twisted his body slightly so he could get a better view above his head, "Not to mention that its one of the few things holding the rest of ceiling," he murmured more to himself while staring at the unstable roof.

"When Hannibal and Face bring the EMT's here, they'll cut the top and it will stay in, till the doctors get a hold of ya." The sergeant began sizing up the place, figuring out what tools he'd need to help the rescue workers pull off such an engineering miracle.

Knowing that there wasn't a way for him to free the pilot, he stripped off a piece of his own shirt and tried to provide some basic first aid. Upset at the amount of dust covering the strip, he shook it as much as possible then wrapped it around the pole to apply some pressure to the wound in Murdock's back.

"God, that hurts!" Murdock said, his voice full of pain.

"I'm sorry man," BA replied, shaking his head in anger. How could he do this? He was no doctor. He didn't do very much medical aid in the field back in Nam.

BA had no choice but to bear witness to Murdock's continuous struggles to hang on. The pilot reminded him of a rag doll that has been tossed to the ground, his loud panting the only indication that he was alive.

The sergeant had no idea how much time had passed; he was beginning to wonder at the chance of a rescue in time. The bigger man was trying to decide if he should try to find a way out, so he could lead any emergency personnel back, but was hesitant about his chances of getting through all the rubble. He also didn't want to leave Murdock alone.

"London Bridge is falling....... down, falling....... down................. London Bridge is ....... falling down...."

"You ain't going to sing now, sucka. It bad enough I'm stuck down here with you, but I ain't going to put up with you singin, too."

"Awww come on...Big Guy," Murdock struggled a deeper breath, "best song I could come up with..... with the circumstances in all."

Murdock stopped twiddling with brim of his baseball cap for a moment, but his hand started to shake instead. BA noticed the slight tremors, and grabbed it. Despite all of his complaining, BA was aware that the Captain knew he wasn't upset at him. He was just getting more frustrated and trying to reign in a temper that was threatening to explode at any minute.

"Where did she go, BA?" Murdock asked, his voice hoarse.

BA closed his eyes for a moment before he replied, "Who?"

"You know...the woman?" Murdock attempted to move his head to search for the lady that he gone after.

"Be still," BA growled.

"But the woman.... We got to.... find her," the pilot pleaded.

"Murdock! She' dead man, she died instantly after we got in here, don't you remember?"

"No, I mean.... its all so fuzzy," his voice was distant, confused.

BA gave the Captain a slight squeeze, "We got here and a wall had fallen' on her. We were gin' to find someway to get her body out. Then all hell broke loose and more of the building fell."

More time passed and the silence in the cramped quarter's only serve to remind both men that there were still no signs or sounds of a rescue effort. With each passing moment, Murdock began to fidget.

"Stop it Murdock! Quit movin, sucka!" BA hissed at him, worried.

"I want to free my arm. I can't stand the numb feeling of it being trapped under me," he beseeched as he tried in vain to pull it out from beneath him.

BA grabbed a hold of him, "Murdock, I said stop moving!" this time his voice is that of a command. "You move, it gonna tear open that wound even more."

BA, scared now, easily overpowered his friend. Murdock began to talk under his breath. The Sergeant couldn't make out what he was saying. BA didn't know how to handle his friend's emotional condition. Hell he couldn't handle Murdock when the man was simply "eccentric" as Face would describe it.

BA knew that the woman they had tried to help had died despite their attempts to reach her. BA recalled seeing an expression spread over the Captain's face that he had not seen in a long time. The pilot's eyes got very distant, and he remained frozen where he stood, unable to comprehend that they had been powerless to do anything. BA felt even more useless now, but he would be damned if let this building claim another.

Murdock was humming lightly but not with the silly cadence that was part of his antics of earlier.

"You gonna hold on sucka. You know Face and Hannibal got a plan to get us out." BA stood up as much as the cramped space would allow. He checked his makeshift bandage, and started to tear another strip to use. He saw a small amount of blood had now spread over to where the pilot's baseball cap was laying. He grabbed it so it wouldn't be ruined and tossed it to the side.

"Thanks, BA," the pilot said so quietly that the other man had to strain to hear him.

"Don't thank me sucka, we still got work to do."

As BA applied more pressure to the wound, Murdock tightened his grip on the other man's hand, "BA,.... I think..... I'm going..... to…" Murdock didn't finish his sentence.

BA stared at his companion. The other man was unresponsive, as his fingers went limp and slipped out of the sergeant's hand. BA squeezed the Captain's shoulders, but he remained very still.

He pinched his earlobe knowing that painful stimuli might help wake him up, "Murdock? Murdock, come on buddy, don't do this!"

The black man's voice was desperate as he continued to try to make his friend speak, but no amount of yelling or prodding seemed to garner a reaction. He was still breathing, but BA knew things were very bad, if the pilot had passed out.

"Damn it, Murdock, wake up! I said wake the hell up!" BA pleaded to no avail. He sat there, unwavering, unable to comprehend his powerlessness in this situation. BA bit his bottom lip and stared at the pole that held his friend hostage to the ground.

"Shouldn't have let the fool go in here. Shouldn't have.." BA noticed he was muttering to himself, and stopped talking entirely.

BA jerked his head at every possible noise that was heard above, his impatience at the lack of a rescue effort evident in his jumpiness. He repeatedly checked on Murdock, cursing under his breath and shaking his head in disapproval. The panic that he'd held at bay during the entire ordeal began to take over and he started to yell in the darkness.

"Somebody get us outta here! Anybody!"

After a few minutes, BA began to consider whether he should try to crawl through the rubble for help when he heard something that he'd almost given up waiting for.

The shouts from a rescue team.


Some time had passed and BA listened to every noise with increased anxiety. There was shouting, several instances of large crashing noises, and a lot of clanking. Finally, he heard what he'd been waiting for: two voices he knew he could count on. If Hannibal and Face were near, then things were not as hopeless as they seemed. Despite this assurance, however, BA was impatient. He kept yelling at the emergency team to hurry up, taking time every now and then to let Murdock know that help was almost here.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, a light shone through and two people could be seen slipping through a mountain of bricks and steel. BA could hear them make their way over, as his vision was once again obscured by the new clouds of dust that had been kicked up by all the commotion of the medical workers' entrance. As the group of people tried to work their way through the crowded corridor of debris, parts of the unsteady ceiling would crumble from the additional movement in the confined space. BA leaned over the unconscious pilot as pieces of sheet rock and plaster drifted down on top of him. BA tried to deflect the falling debris from causing any more harm to the defenseless man he was protecting. He shielded Murdock the best he could, coughing a little as the dust began to choke away want little air was left.

"Over here!" BA yelled as two EMT workers with hard hats crawled over to his crouched position.

One of them went over to him, but he pushed the doctor away, ignoring his attempt to help with his injured leg. As BA began to argue with the aid worker, he saw two more people in hard hats move carefully through the rubble and over to him. The worried man was relieved to see the approaching forms of his other team mates. It was good to see some medical assistance was here, but his hearted pounded at the sight of the people he could count on to get him and the pilot out of this mess.

Both Hannibal and Face were carrying what appeared to be medical gear as well as some tools. The Colonel bent down and awkwardly came over to the arguing sergeant.

"I said, I don't need no help, go to my friend" BA yelled, trying to push away the EMT's prying hands as he searched for injury.

The aid worker sighed, "I'll get to your friend, but my partner David, is looking at him now. I need to assess your injuries," he explained in a calm voice.

"Report, Sergeant," Hannibal commanded, taking in the situation.

"My leg is broken, all of you need to help Murdock. He hurt bad," BA answered brusquely.

"Okay sir, calm down," the young EMT instructed.

"I'll calm down when we get him out of here!" BA growled back.

During the stand off between BA and the younger medical worker, Face managed to get closer to the injured pilot. He looked down at him, and blanched. The Lieutenant turned toward the arguing group.


The sound in Face's voice got the Colonel's attention. Hannibal nodded, and crawled over to where David was working on Murdock. The other medical worker, who was examining BA, moved over to the pilot after determining the bigger man did not have any life threatening injuries that required immediate attention.

The younger EMT fastened a blood pressure cuff around the pilot's free arm. "80 over 40, he said grimly. "David, we got to figure out what do with him. How are we going to get him out of here?"

"Hold on Steve, first thing's first." David very lightly traced his fingers down the pole towards, Murdock's back. He ran them over the flannel shirt, speaking under his breath. He leaned over and to examine the entrance point. "It's right above the fourth intercostals anteriorly and seventh posteriorly," he looked over at his partner.

Face stared at the pilot in horrified awe, and looked up at the EMT's. "So, what's that mean?" he asked, trying to hide the slight tremor in his voice.

David glanced at three concerned expressions, "I think the placement of the beam is too high for his spleen, probably missed his liver. It might be close to his diaphragm."

The older medical worker turned towards the sergeant, "Has he been breathing this shallowly the entire time?"

"Yeah, he been having a hard time catchin' his breath," BA replied.

David looked up at Face, "Hand me the oxygen tank in that bag."

The lieutenant quickly rummaged through the bag he brought with him after finding the portable tank of O2, he dug it out along with some tubing and a mask. The older medical worker snatched it up and placed the mask over Murdock's nose and mouth. He turned a knob on the device and watched as it delivered the much needed oxygen to the injured man.

"Wish we had some plasma," the EMT muttered to himself as he placed his fingers on the carotid pulse in the pilot's neck.

Hannibal, who had been following the man's assessment, stared at the red stains on the dirty floor. There was quite a bit covering the ground, but not as much as he would think with this type of injury.

"What about his blood loss? I mean ....."

"The pole could be arresting any hemorrhaging if there are any dissected arteries, I guess. Could explain why there isn't a lot more blood, he's lucky for that."

"Looks like a hell of a lot of blood to me," Face said anxiously.

Steve shook his head in a negative, "It looks bad, but he'd be dead if it hit anything too major."

"So, lets saw the pole off him, and get moving," BA commanded, frustrated at the amount of time already elapsed.

"Sir,...." The older medical worker tried to get his attention.

BA fixed him with a stare that would burn through steel.

"If we cut the pole down it will cause the ceiling to fall on top of him and the rest of this area. We can't do that, this place has lost all structural integrity," David stated matter of factly. The EMT leader pulled out a large bandage out of small supply bag strapped around him. He replaced BA's blood stained cloth with the his own and applied pressure to the wound. He examined the beam once more before speaking.

"We'll pull the pipe out and lay it back on the ground. One of us will continue to add pressure to the wound and slow down the blood loss until we get him to the ER. Once there, the ER docs can stabilize him and prep him for surgery. Its the safest and easiest way to get him out of here," he announced to the group.

Hannibal turned to the older EMT with a hard glare, "What you propose will kill him. There has to be another way."

David continued to examine Murdock, shaking his head. "Look, you do not make the decisions here. We let you guys come with us because you said you had demolition expertise and you were so insistent that we didn't really want to waste time arguing. But let me tell you, we do as I say. We don't have any choice. He needs to get to Mercy's trauma facilities and the only way without having the rest of this place fall on all of our heads is to pull the pole out and rest it back on the ground. We cut it and then it has no place to go and the roof goes with it."

Face, who had been sitting next to Murdock, turned toward the arguing group angrily, "I'm not a doctor, but if you pull that pole and he'll bleed like crazy, not to mention how much more damage it could cause him."

BA took a difficult step towards the beam, but the EMTs blocked his path. He couldn't put up much of a struggle with his hurt leg and limited space.

"You brought tools, let's just saw if off." BA spoke determined, daring anyone to argue with him.

David approached the large, scared man in front of him, his voice firm, but optimistic, "I know you've been down here with him during this whole ordeal and you want the best for your friend. But believe me when I tell you that I have the best intentions for him. This accident happened only a few blocks from the hospital, the most time during transport will occur going back through the passage we created. There are several ambulances standing by, he'll arrive in no time to the ER. There are no options here, guys, we move and we move now."

"I don't think you understand us, my friend," Hannibal stated. "We can't pull the pole out, where the hell is it going to go?"

After observing the EMT workers' reactions, the Colonel continued. "If the roof is that unstable, pulling the pole out and pushing it upwards is going to cause the chance of a collapse just as much."

David looked at three very determined set of eyes, but his face was just as stern for the advocacy of his patient, "We're wasting time, if we cut the beam, then..."

"Well, make some supports for the roof, then you cut the pole," BA finished for him.

Face and Hannibal looked at BA and nodded their understanding. The Colonel crawled over to the bag of tools that they had brought with them, "We can use of the other piping laying around and create a support structure in no time."

The older EMT did not look convinced and he was about to protest again till Face grabbed a hold of his shoulder and pulled him forward till he was mere inches away from the man's nose. "Listen here, buddy. We used to be Special Forces in the military, we know what we're doing. We can create almost anything with the right spare parts. Now, you're going to help our friend here while we do what we do best. Because you get one thing straight right now," Face leaned in closer, his eyes peering at the medical worker, "I'm not going to watch him bleed to death while you guys pluck that pole out of him."

Not waiting for any more rebuttals, BA started searching for the correct tools from Hannibal's bag. Both medical workers scooted away to allow the team to work. David inserted an IV in Murdock's left arm, and held up the bag of saline he brought with him from the bag of supplies the team carried with them into the collapsed building. Over the next twenty minutes, the EMTs did their best to monitor their patient as three bound and determined men built makeshift support beams, out of piping, duct tape, and other items that could be found.



The doors to the ER burst open with the arrival of the critical patient. The two EMT's wheeled the injured pilot into a room where a team of doctors waited for their patient; the EMTs had radioed ahead with the specifics of the emergency. Face followed closely behind the gurney, franticly keeping pace, while stealing a glance behind him towards his two companions. The hospital staff sprang into action as soon as Murdock's gurney had settled into the room.

Hannibal helped a hobbling BA into Murdock's exam room, since he continued to refuse a wheelchair or to allow medical personnel to examine him. BA leaned against a wall away from the mass of doctors helping his friend. Any time a nurse came over to direct them into the hall, his glare kept them at bay. Hannibal and Face remained in the corners of the room, as well, trying to give a wide berth to the emergency crew.

Murdock lay on his left side; both ends of the beam could be seen protruding from the entrance and exit points. A doctor in his forties took charge of the trauma. "Let me see what we got." The nurses had all ready cut away Murdock's shirt while keeping pressure on both wounds.

"Someone get me a pressure, electrolytes, an ABG, a PT, a urinalysis and a dip," the doctor said.

A nurse slipped off the O2 mask from the portable unit and put on one from the emergency room. Another nurse was busy replacing the empty saline bag with a new one while avoiding running into another worker who was attaching EKG leads to the pilot's chest.

BA had a hard keeping up with the jumble of medical personnel swarming around. As BA tried to follow what the lead doctor was doing, another doc appeared from nowhere to shout at the one barking orders to everyone. "We need a cross and match of three units on a rapid infuser and a chest X-ray, an abdominal flat film and a CT scan of the abdomen as well," the other doctor announced.

"Wait, he got AB negative blood, " BA shouted over the furious actively in the room.

One of the doctors glanced over at the hulking man leaning on the wall, "Make that AB negative. Sir, you're going to have to...

Steve, the EMT worker who remained, quickly interrupted, "Don't bother making them leave. They are not going to. I'm sure they'll stay out of the way."

The head doctor also looked like he was going to protest, but uncompromising looks from the three civilians in his ER room, told him otherwise. "Just stay out of the way."

Hannibal nodded and glanced at his other men.

A technician entered the overcrowded room with a portable x-ray machine. BA didn't know why they were wasting time taking pictures of the pilot. He searched out Hannibal's face, hoping those eyes would give him some reassurance, that all this craziness would stop and they would start doing something to help the fool.

All of the doctors moved out of the way only long enough for a few films to be shot as the head Doc glanced at all the read outs of the machines surrounding the room.

BA tried to keep up with all the medical jargon and was unable to understand everything that was transpiring. There were all kinds of beeping noises from machines, and seemed that the nurses just kept sticking the pilot with more IVs. There were so many tubes and medical procedures being performed, the sergeant was at a loss at what was transpiring. The one thing that got his attention was the blood seeping onto the white sheets of the gurney.

BA was becoming increasingly agitated at the bustling actively of the room. He looked over at his other team mates to see equally troubled expressions. Face had his arms crossed tightly in front of him, he was shifting his feet nervously. Hannibal's eyes were darting all over the room, keeping up with all the frantic hustle. BA could tell he was itching for one of his cigars.

Steve, gently placed his hand on BA's shoulder. "They ruled out any injury to his chest and his lungs. When they open him up in the OR, they will repair the damage and search for any other sources of bleeding," he explained.

"So, they are going to still perform exploratory surgery?" " Face asked.

Steve watched as the doctors continued to shout orders at each other. "The initial injury is pretty obvious, but they still need to search for damaged vessels."

BA turned his head to look at Face, he was glad someone had been keeping up with everything. He watched as the medical team continued to work on his friend. BA was about to ask a question, when the room burst with more activity as machines were being disconnected and tubes rearranged for transport to another floor.

Face turned to Steve, "What's going on?"

"They've located the source of the bleeding. They're moving him to the OR now," Steve replied.

BA hobbled towards the gurney as it was being pushed passed him by a team of medical personnel. He didn't have time to give his friend one last gentle squeeze of the shoulder, so his finger brushed against Murdock's arm as he was wheeled away.

"Be strong man, I'll see you in a little while," he said as the gurney was lead away towards an elevator.

Face followed behind the pilot as he was wheeled inside the elevator. The Lieutenant stared at the closed elevator doors for a moment and then slowly made his way back to the rest of the team.

"We need to get you taken care of as well, BA," the con-man said gently.

BA ignored his friend's words, staring at his hands, "I forgot the fool's hat." He looked at his commander his voice pained, "I left his baseball cap...."

Hannibal put his hand on BA's shoulder, "Sergeant, I think he'll be happy to see us, even without his hat. Now come on, let's get you taken care of."

The larger man allowed his teammates to escort him to an examination room. With nothing else for him to do, the hospital staff could finally look him over.


BA awoke in darkness. Startled, he glanced around trying to take in his surroundings. The room was eerily silent except for the constant beeping noise of a heart monitor. The big man stretched slowly, staring down at the cast around his leg. After getting his bearings he settled back into the chair and looked over at the patient in the bed.

He had taken watch after the pilot had been sent to recovery. According to the surgeons everything had gone very well, and their patient just needed his rest. Despite numerous arguments to dissuade him, the sergeant insisted that he remain till the pilot woke up.

BA began to wonder how long he had slept till Face walked in.

"How's he doing?" the blonde man asked quietly.

"Don't know. He hadn't woke yet," BA replied.

Face walked over to the bed, and leaned over the railing slightly as he looked at Murdock, his eyes traveled along the bed. Murdock looked like he was sleeping peacefully, despite numerous wires and tubes snaking out from under his sheets and hooked up to various machines. "I'm glad this nightmare is finally over."

BA nodded. "Yeah, crazy fool is lucky."

Face didn't move away from the sleeping form in the bed as he spoke. "Hannibal has been keeping an eye on things in the parking lot." The lieutenant glanced over at BA. "You know the drill. If its just a simple ER visit we use the phony insurance cards so there are no paper trails that connect Murdock to us and the missions."

BA stared at Face, but didn't seem to acknowledge the consequences of his words.

The con-man nervously fiddled with the sheet covering the pilot, tucking it in unnecessarily. "If Murdock ever requires an actual overnight stay we have to register him using his veteran's benefits. This way when he gets transferred to the VA's medical facilities there are no problems or paperwork delays for further treatment."

The sergeant remained quiet, he sat staring past both his friends in the room, his mind still trying to cope with everything that had transpired during the day.

The lieutenant finally turned his head to look at the big man sitting silently in the chair behind him. "I came in here to aw.... well..... to tell you we need to get going."

Face held out his hands in mock surrender as the burly sergeant tried to stand up. "We can't stay here much longer. Sooner or later, these guys are going to contact the military and the VA. " Face explained in a placating manner.

Just before BA could respond a very hoarse voice caught both men's attention.

"You're right need to get out of here," Murdock whispered, while weakly lifting his arm up and placing his hand on the railing.

Face smiled and grabbed a hold of the pilot's hand. "Glad to see you awake. How are you feeling, Murdock?"

The pilot sighed, "I feel like I went 12 rounds...... with the Baracan one.......  and lost."

Both Face and BA heard footsteps behind them. They both turned to see Hannibal entering the room. "I came in here to get the both of you. I'm glad to see somebody woke up and decided to join the rest of us."

Murdock groaned slightly, "So how am I doing guys?"

"By some miracle the beam entered above your hip and went in at a slanting angle. It missed every major organ, but it lacerated your, er...... abdominal wall." Face answered for him.

"Hmmmmm," Murdock closed his eyes, the few moments of conciseness a seemingly tough effort for him. "Doesn't sound.... too good."

Hannibal walked over to the end of the bed. "Just means you cut up some muscles that help you breathe."

"I won't...take any...deep breaths then," he said groggily. The pilot brushed his hand over his face, rearranging the nasal canal supplying him with oxygen, "I hate…. these things," he muttered. Murdock stared at his right wrist and followed two different tubes leading towards a couple bags of solutions hanging on an IV stand. The pilot softly chuckled.

Hannibal looked thoughtfully at his Captain, "Something funny?"

" me anyway," the pilot sighed heavily.

Face coughed nervously, "I don't get it."

"Just more of his crazy talk is all it is," BA growled from his chair.

Murdock laughed, "Sorry really ought to leave.... pain medication and my normal meds... don't... uh... mix."

Hannibal smiled, "Nice. Guess all of us forgot to mention that to the doctors here."

"Oh no, Murdock, don't tell me. Not another upcoming pink elephant episode?" Face asked in frustration.

The Captain stifled another laugh, then groaned. He placed his hand on the bulky dressing covering his wound to placate the pain. "Naaaaaah, no elephants.... think I'll zonk out... here soon."

"Yeah well, the staff will soon find out all about your current meds I'm sure." Face replied.

Hannibal looked at his watch, "Guys, we need to really get going." The Colonel placed his hand on Murdock's shoulder, "We'll find a way to visit you soon."

"Its okay, Hannibal,...... thanks..... for getting us out," Murdock replied, tiredly.

Face leaned towards the pilot's ear, "Get better buddy. If you need someone to talk to, the nurses on the nightshift are pretty nice to look at." Face squeezed his friend's arm and went towards the door, Hannibal following behind him.

Both men glanced at BA, who remained seated. Face raised his hand to signal BA to follow them, but Hannibal shook his head. "We'll meet you in the van, BA."

The men left, leaving BA alone with the pilot.

Murdock shifted uncomfortably. "If you're going to stay.... you can't growl at any of purple wobblies that are floating around this place. They get.... offended.... real.... easily." Murdock closed his eyes, "They start changing..... into shades of violet and blue."

Murdock drifted off for a moment then with what seemed like great effort turned his head so he was looking at BA. "You're mad at me."

BA stood up and hobbled over to the bed. He put his hands on the railing and leaned in almost menacingly. "You took a stupid chance yesterday fool. Almost got killed."

Don't matter anyway.... didn't get there in time.... I...."

BA cut him off, "That's want I'm talkin about. It DOES matter. You got to think before doing crazy, dangerous things," he growled.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to put you in danger big guy. Didn't think....." Murdock trailed off.

BA saw two kinds of pain in those glassed over brown eyes. Murdock was fighting to stay awake, but he wouldn't leave till he had his say. "I'm always going to back you up. We're a team, we always goin' to watch out for each other."

Murdock lost his struggle against the drugs and pain of being awake. He mumbled under his breath as he fell back to sleep. "I.... know you're always there.... to fix things."

The sergeant patted his shoulder, Murdock was completely oblivious to the world.

BA dragged his walking cast towards the small closet in the room. He pulled out Murdock's leather jacket and draped it over the chair he vacated. Then he grabbed a shopping bag from under the chair and pulled out a newly purchased navy baseball hat. He placed the cap on the sleeping man's stomach so he would see it when he woke up.

BA took a deep breath and adjusted the sheets one final time. "I can fix almost anything, repair almost anything that' broken." BA shook his head in sadness, "I couldn't ever find a way to fix you."

The sergeant quietly walked out of the room and closed the door.

Murdock woke up briefly. He smiled in the darkness, grabbing a hold of the hat. "No worries, big guy. I'll always be fine around you."



Sifting Through The Ashes by Kristen



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