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The A-Team: Ships in the Night
Summary: In the early days on the run (c. 1974), B.A. comes to the aid of a damsel in distress.
Notes: Written in response to Kathleen's 'B.A. as the Hero' Challenge
Disclaimer: The canon characters are the product of Stephen J. Cannell's fertile imagination. I only hope I can do justice to his creation.
* * * * * * * * * *
Ships in the Night
Tara Sullivan paid for her groceries. It wasn't much, but she felt they should last a few days, at least.
'Timothy!' she called as she turned away from the cashier. A little boy with dark brown hair and startlingly green eyes ran up and took her hand. Gripping it tightly, she left the little corner grocery, stepping into the chill night air. It wasn't even 7:00 PM, but it was getting dark already.
Tara closed her eyes and sighed when she heard the voice. It was the same thing every time she left her tiny apartment.
'Look, Manny,' she sighed, 'I've told you a hundred times - I'm not interested!'
Manny swaggered closer as his gang hooted derisively.
'Hey, chica,' he smirked, 'why don't you give me a chance?' He reached out to toy with her hair, and was amused as she flinched.
'Because I don't want to be part of your stable of girls,' Tara spat at him. 'Besides, I've got my son to protect.'
Manny signaled, and his second-in-command jumped forward to grab the little boy.
'Timmy!' she screamed, trying to reach him. Manny blocked her, leaning one hand on the wall behind her, and grabbing her face, forcing her to look at him.
'Give me what I want,' he hissed, 'and you get him back in one piece. If not, well…'
* * * * *
B.A. Baracus was humming happily to himself as he drove. He had just picked up a second-hand GMC van and was taking it back to the warehouse his Team was currently using as its headquarters. The van wasn't much to look at right now, but he had plans to make it everything the Team would need on the dangerous jobs they would be accepting.
The traffic light turned yellow, then red, and he stopped at the intersection. As he waited, he could hear mocking voices and the cries of a terrified woman through the closed windows. Looking around, he saw a young white woman trying to evade a wolfish Hispanic hooligan while reaching for a little boy. The struggling child was being held out of her reach by an older white teen, while the rest of the group taunted both their victims.
The scene infuriated B.A. As soon as the light changed, he pulled over, parked the van, and headed across the street.
* * * * *
Timothy's frightened cries fueled Tara's fears. She struggled, wild-eyed, trying to get away as Manny attempted to force his mouth over hers.
'Let 'em go, suckers!' A deep, commanding voice cut through all other sound.
Manny smirked as he slowly turned to face the newcomer.
'Look, man,' he started, 'you're not welcome here…'
Then he caught sight of the burly black man in camo pants and vest, red tennis shoes, and Mohawk haircut, several gold chains draped across his chest. The crossed arms and intimidating scowl made it clear the man meant business.
Manny swallowed hard, but decided to tough it out.
'Hey, man,' he drawled, sauntering closer. 'what's your problem? I mean…' he jerked a thumb back towards Tara, '…there's plenty to go around…'
'Seems you don't hear so good, sucker,' B.A. snarled. 'I said: let 'em go!'
Manny laughed and looked around at his gang while putting a hand on B.A.'s shoulder.
Suddenly, his expression changed. A feral snarl escaped his lips as he drove his fist into B.A.'s stomach.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then B.A. exploded into action.
Snatching Manny off his feet, he threw the Latino gang leader against the wall. He pulled Timmy away from his captor and returned him to his mother, then turned to face all comers.
Two young blacks launched themselves at B.A., only to have their heads knocked together before being tossed aside. The guy who'd been holding Timmy tried to break a two-by-four across the large man's back; he found it snatched from his hands and himself flung into a dumpster. The rest of the gang joined the fight, but fared no better than their comrades.
By the time the dust settled, four gang members were unconscious, six were groaning from assorted injuries, and the rest had taken to their heels. B.A. looked around.
'You!' he growled, jabbing a finger at a bystander, 'find somethin' to tie these suckers up. And you!' he added, indicating the shopkeeper, 'call the police and have them pick up this garbage!' The two men scuttled away to do as they were told.
B.A. turned to Tara and held out a hand. 'You okay, li'l mama?' he asked gently. Stunned, Tara could only nod. Picking up the spilled groceries, he put an arm around her shoulders. 'Let me walk you home.'
Tara looked up into the gentle brown eyes that had been so full of fury moments before. 'All right,' she said when she finally found her voice.
B.A. escorted his charges the block-and-a-half to their apartment building. When he turned to leave, he felt a hand on his arm.
'Please, would you like to come in for a while?' Tara asked softly.
B.A. treated her to a dazzling grin. 'Sure, li'l mama,' he said. 'I'd like that.'
Once in the apartment, Tara led the way to the kitchen. Unpacking the groceries, she sent Timmy to wash up for dinner as she set a pan on the stove to heat.
'My name's Tara Sullivan,' the young woman said, setting out eggs, milk, flour, and baking powder. 'My son's same is Timothy.'
'Nice to meet you, Mrs. Sullivan. My name's Bosco, but you can call me "B.A."'
Tara smiled at B.A. as she began to mix the ingredients together.
'I can't thank you enough for coming to our rescue like that. Manny and his goons have been terrorizing the neighborhood for months!'
'I got no use for cowards like them,' B.A. told her. 'I'm just glad I could help.'
'Um…' Tara hesitated. 'Would you like to stay for supper? It won't be much, just pancakes, but…'
B.A. looked around the sparsely-furnished apartment. 'No, thanks. I just had m'supper,' he lied. 'But if I could trouble you for a glass of milk…?
Tara smiled. 'Of course!' She poured a large glass of milk for her rescuer, then began spooning batter into the pan. When the pancakes were ready, she called Timmy to the table.
It was an odd trio that sat around the kitchen table that evening: two white 'workfare' clients and a massive black Viet Nam veteran. As intimidating as B.A. could be, he kept Tara laughing and her son entertained with stories. He even convinced the stubborn five-year-old to drink his milk.
After Timothy had been tucked up in bed for the night, his mother joined B.A. in the living room, sitting next to him on the scruffy couch. She sighed.
'I have to thank you again for everything you've done,' she said. 'If you hadn't appeared when you did, I shudder to think what would have happened.'
'S'okay, li'l mama,' B.A. said. 'I grew up in the housing projects in Chicago; saw too many bullies like that. Couldn't do nothing' about it then. Just glad I got a chance to now.' He smiled suddenly, and it brightened the dingy room for a moment before he grew serious again. 'But what're you doin' in a neighborhood like this? Where's your husband at?'
'My husband,' sighed Tara, 'if you can call him that, is no longer around. I truly loved him because he was handsome, and gracious, and very attentive, but it turned out that there was only one thing he really wanted from me. He knew he wouldn't get it unless we were married, so he proposed to me, and, gullible fool that I was, I accepted. Needless to say, it didn't take long for our relationship to start going downhill. He left six months after Timothy was born. That was five years ago. I haven't seen him since.'
B.A. put his arm around her shoulder, and pulled her close. It was an all-too-familiar story. He felt, more than heard, her sigh as he stroked her hair. He could feel her shivering at the memory of what had almost happened a few hours before.
'It's okay, Tara,' he whispered, using her name for the first time. 'It's his loss, not yours. I know it's not easy, but you should be proud that you provide a loving home for your boy.' He wasn't surprised when she began to cry.
It had been so long since anyone had held Tara, or spoken so softly to her. Never had she felt so protected. At last, she was able to let go of all her pent-up grief.
B.A .let her cry herself out. He was completely astounded when she reached up and pulled his head down for a soul-searing kiss.
* * * * *
B.A. woke to the early morning sun in his eyes. He was still holding the woman whose bed he had shared. They had made sweet, gentle love, then talked long into the night.
He slipped from the bed, not wanting to wake Tara, but when he'd finished dressing, he found her looking at him.
'You know I can't stay,' he reminded her. 'It wouldn't be safe for you.'
'I know.' She rose, and put on a bathrobe. Putting her arms around his neck, she kissed him once more. 'Thank you for all you've done. Not just for Timmy and me, but getting those punks out of our neighborhood.'
'My pleasure, li'l mama,' he whispered. He reached up and unhooked the largest of the few gold chains he'd acquired since the escape from Fort Bragg, and put it around Tara's neck. 'It's not much, but it'll help some 'til you can find a better job.'
Tara touched the chain, and smiled up at him. She knew in her heart that she'd have to be in dire straits indeed before she'd part with B.A.'s gift.
Timothy was still asleep when B.A. looked in to say good-bye. He stroked the tousled hair before turning to leave.
A final hug and kiss, and then he was gone.
* * * * *
'You're late, Sergeant!' Hannibal's angry voice rang across the warehouse floor as he closed the truck bay entrance. 'You were supposed to be here last night. Where've you been?'
B.A. climbed out of the van and patted the side lovingly before turning to face his commanding officer.
'Been helping a friend,' he growled noncommittally.
Hannibal looked deeply into his sergeant's brown eyes for a moment. They hadn't been back in Los Angeles long enough to trust anyone as a friend, and B.A. knew it. However, the man's frank gaze told him that whatever his sergeant wasn't saying would not endanger the Team. He nodded, letting it go.
'Next time,' he said around his cigar, 'check in and let us know. We were beginning to think the MP's had picked you up.'
'OK, Colonel.' B.A. could see the sense in that.
There was a coded knock at the door, and Lieutenant Templeton Peck let himself in. Before he could even say 'Good Morning!', B.A.'s hand fell heavily on his shoulder.
'Hey, Faceman!' Peck looked up, surprised by B.A.'s threatening tone. 'You always with the ladies. If you hurt one of 'em, for any reason, and I get to hearin' about it, so help me, I'm gonna pound you into the ground!'
Face exchanged a bewildered look with Hannibal, who just shrugged, then patted the sergeant's chest.
'Whatever you say, B.A.,' he sighed, dropping into a chair. 'Whatever you say!'
B.A. nodded, satisfied. In matters like this, the con man's word was his bond.
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