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Learning to Fly
by Stompy Sara
Summary: B.A.'s fear of flying finally catches up to him
Warnings: Violence, injuries, angst, little bit of language
Dedication: Willow's and Ush's writings inspired me to write B.A. p.o.v. again. . . Roady's also, to do a little B.A./Murdock one on one. . .I bow down to your collective greatness. . .
B.A. was sick of running.
Being built like a small tank did not lend itself to out-and-out sprinting, and the big man struggled to keep up with the fleeting figure of the Crazyman in front of him, who bounded over obstacles full-tilt like a gazelle. Whooping like the fool he was.
"Come on, B.A.! They're gettin' closer!"
B.A. had no breath to answer, glanced to his left as the Faceman caught up and pulled ahead, the Colonel somewhere off to their right, separated from them by goons and gunfire. Thirty pounds of gold, he reflected, vaulting over fallen tree trunks, wasn't the best choice of attire either. He pushed on grimly, bullets thunking into the trees on either side of him. Clearing wasn't far ahead.
His face fell as he smelled smoke, matched that to their jeep, now in flames. Murdock was around behind the Bell JetRanger they'd stolen from the nearby airport, and realization hit him. They were gonna try to make him fly. Again.
He caught Face's arm, yanking the tree-limb from his hand before the man could slam it into his head, which B.A. had no doubt was the course of action Face would've taken. Pulled them both behind another fallen tree as their pursuers drew even closer. Face was indignant, tried to cover it with innocence. B.A. reached over the log with his machine-gun, cursed when it jammed. Face dove away as their cover was overrun. B.A. threw himself into the first man over, carried him into another tree. The man fell senseless to the ground, and B.A. caught the next guy in the face with a meaty fist. Two down, only a dozen or more to go. Dimly heard Murdock yelling at him.
"B.A.! Over here!" Jumping up and down and waving, like he couldn't see the fool plain as day. No way he was getting in that chopper. Face had disappeared, chased by more of those para-military madmen. The Colonel had been trying to infiltrate this group for the past week, but bad luck and bad timing had caught up with them. One thing and another led them to this scene in the woods.
B.A. knew their only route of escape was the Ranger now. Oh, Hell no. He stood his ground as Murdock pleaded with him to get in the chopper, the blades beginning their rotation, that whispering, thunderous sound that turned his knees to jelly.
"Not gettin' in there, Murdock!" He had to shout over the engine noise. Face and Hannibal were nowhere to be seen. B.A. hoped they stayed sensibly hidden, so he and Murdock could find another way out of this. Anything but the air, anything but fly with the Crazyman.
Luck continued to stay bad as Hannibal emerged from the southeast, loped to the chopper and swung in. B.A. edged away as Murdock jumped back out, started tugging on his arm.
"Let go a' me, sucka!"
"B.A., this irrational fear of the air has gotta stop. I'm gettin' you in that bird if it's the last thing I do!"
"It WILL be the last thing, you don't let go my arm, fool!"
"B.A., you sure have a great sense of timing." Face appeared on his right, as Murdock attempted with all his strength to get him closer to the chopper. The blades swung dangerously overhead. B.A. ducked without giving ground as Face joined Murdock, ganging up against him. Whose side were they on anyway? He twisted out of Face's grasp, and the conman staggered back, then threw himself flat as bullets ricocheted dangerously close. Murdock refused to let go.
"Come on, B.A.!"
"We don't have time for this, ya ugly mudsucker! Get in the chopper like a good Sergeant!"
B.A. shook his head violently, fear constricting his throat. He knew their situation was critical, knew he needed to move, get in the chopper and let Murdock fly them outta here. Couldn't do it. His feet were rooted, he continued prying his friend's fingers off his arm. The skinny guy didn't stand a chance of strong-arming him around to the door. Hannibal yelled something, his voice lost in the shrill whining of the engine and the whicker of rotor-blades. Murdock was losing patience. B.A. knew it was serious when that happened.
"Dammit B.A., you don't move you're gonna get us killed!"
Harbinger. Bullets slammed the pilot into the side of the helicopter as B.A.'s mind fast-forwarded into real time. He watched in mute horror as Murdock slid to the ground, stared up at B.A., blinking in shock. B.A. grabbed him, dragged him behind the chopper, laid him down again as Hannibal began to return fire from inside.
"B.A.?" Murdock sounded surprised, as blood trickled from his mouth, down his cheek. Dark eyes stared sightlessly past him, temple marred by spatters of scarlet.
"Hang tight, brutha. Gonna get you outta here."
"Can't see anything. Mouth's full of - copper. B.A. - "
"Shut up! Face, where are you?"
Face was otherwise occupied. B.A. looked about desperately. Trapped. Wailing voice in his head, you got Murdock shot. He's gonna die cuz of you.
"Jesus, Murdock, don't go out on me. Hang on, hang on - "
Murdock was unconscious. Didn't hear him, or worry anymore about swallowing blood. Hannibal was leaning out of the helicopter, handed B.A. a Browning sub and a supply kit, caught his eyes and held them.
"Me and Face'll lay down protective fire. Get Murdock out of here. We'll rendezvous at the cave we spotted yesterday."
B.A. remembered it, nodded. Forced himself to sling Murdock's inert form over his shoulders, looked to the Colonel when he was ready. Face and Hannibal snapped hand-signals at each other, began to fire into the trees. B.A. turned and ran, chopper at his back for a shield, hoped Face and Hannibal wouldn't get ringed in. Sound of the rotors taunting him as he fled.
B.A. held Murdock in his arms as men shouted gruffly to each other just yards from the entrance to the cave. The pilot's utter lack of movement scared hell out of him, and the blood. . . B.A. had plenty of experience with blood. Just not Murdock's. Never could get used to it. He was over-protective of the fool, he knew. Murdock often careened thoughtlessly into situations, presented himself as an easy target, caught up in the jazz just as surely as Hannibal usually was. His reckless tactics somehow worked for him in the air - they frequently got him a black eye or a cracked rib on the ground.
The voices gone, he eased Murdock to the cave floor, wished the guy would wake up and say something cheerfully annoying so B.A. could yell at him, instead of letting his stomach twist with worry and guilt. He camouflaged the entrance of the shallow depression of stone and risked a small flashlight. Jesus... B.A. swallowed hard, and began by removing Murdock's leather flight jacket. Fool wouldn't be happy if that got ruined. If only he could stop him from bleeding to death.
B.A. pulled bandages and cotton gauze from the kit Hannibal had given him, pushed several against the pilot's side. Ripped Murdock's flannel shirt, knelt over him and gently pressed the soft cloth to his temple. B.A. thought it was a flesh wound. He prayed it was. He prayed for a lot more as he leaned over Murdock's motionless form. Noticed his hands were shaking as he ripped another piece of fabric from the shirt. He gripped Murdock's arm for a moment, just enough contact to feel he wasn't going to fly apart, away, lose all sense of the situation, emotions blunting his good sense. And how ironic, as his good sense always left him when it came to flying.
He cursed himself viciously as he worked to keep his friend alive. All this could have been avoided, if he'd just been a man and climbed into the chopper. Damn his panic, damn his cowardice, damn the crazy fool for just standing there and letting himself get shot. B.A. barely noticed the sobbing breaths he took as he searched frantically for something else to stem the flow of blood. Murdock's eyes flew open suddenly, wide and staring.
"Get in the chopper, B.A."
"Shut up." Out before he could think. He bit his tongue, tasted blood as Murdock struggled to focus on him. "Sorry, brutha. I didn't mean it." The pilot coughed, blood continued a trail down his cheek towards his ear. Internal bleeding. The guy wouldn't last more than a couple hours, and that was on the outside. B.A. felt a tremendous urge to pound his fists against the stone walls until they bled, shout until he was hoarse. He propped Murdock's head up with his own denim jacket, covered him with a blanket, and sat down to wait for Face and Hannibal.
"Shouldn't talk, Murdock."
"Told you. . . to get in. Should listen to me once in a while."
B.A. clutched the sides of his head, squeezed his eyes shut. Didn't trust himself to speak, imagined breaking down, pouring all his fears out while his friend slowly faded away.
"Don't cry, big guy. Hey, I rhyme, all the - " another fit of coughing left the pilot breathless as B.A.'s eyes snapped open. He scrubbed his cheeks violently, fixed a reprimanding glare on his comrade.
"You die in here and I ain't gonna carry you all the way home, hear? Stay quiet, try to keep some of that blood inside." Felt proud that his voice didn't shake, once.
"S'okay, can just gimme some a yours."
"With what? Nothin' ta rig in here. Man never talks sense, thinks he can walk into the wind, nothin' ta worry about - " B.A. realized he was babbling, only stopped when he felt Murdock's hand on his arm. The weak hold fell away as Murdock lost his battle with consciousness again. B.A. shook at him lightly.
"I know it's hard, brutha, but try to stay awake. Your eyes. Let me see your eyes open, man!" He was rewarded with half-closed lids fluttering a bit.
"Talk to me." He could barely hear the pilot's broken whisper.
"Anything. Why you. . . won't fly. With me."
B.A. said nothing, snapped the flashlight off, stared blindly into near-dark. His head was pounding, pain pulsing, flaring red behind his eyes. He didn't want to think about flying. Came a day he just - couldn't get in the Huey. Was that the day Murdock's gunner'd eaten it? It all mashed together, numbness in his brain trying to keep down the fear. He was even a little relieved when the guys took him out, didn't matter if it was a knock in the head or an injection, long as he didn't remember being in the air. Scene played out again, Murdock's body slammed into the chopper. . . owed him an explanation. Owed him a lot more.
"It's not you, sucka. I don't know why. I just can't." B.A. clutched at his chains with one hand, the other pressed against the cold stone floor. Even the thought. . . "I know it gets in the way! Holdin' you guys back. . ."
"Not like that."
"Yeah it is! Now you're - my fault."
"No. I wasn't. . . payin' attention."
B.A. shook his head, even though Murdock couldn't see it. "Got you shot, brutha. Shoulda been me." Panic rising as it always inexplicably did when Murdock was wounded, couldn't stand to see the fool hurt. "Shoulda been me!"
"B.A." He had to lean in to catch Murdock's voice. "'Member that time two years ago. . . I got caught between, when I was supposed ta cover you, was flashin' back instead of drawin' their fire. . . and ya almost bought it?"
"Not the same thing."
"Why not? 'Cause I'm crazy? 'Cause certain things set me off?"
B.A. knew what he was driving at. He switched the flashlight on again, busied himself checking Murdock's stomach wound. Blood was tracing a gruesome pattern across the uneven stone, towards the entrance of the cave. Murdock's eyes glazing, skin ashen from blood-loss. Blood, blood, every other thought in his head circling the word. Murdock clutched B.A.'s arm urgently, coughing again, pain dulling his eyes but another emotion there, shaking his head, couldn't speak anymore but B.A. understood. Hmph. Grudging acknowledgement, that he and the fool had something in common after all. Now THAT was a disturbing thought.
A rustling of brush snapped him into fight-or-flight mode. He drew his side-arm, inched toward the entrance. Heard a whistle, and his face split into a grin of relief. Face and Hannibal.
B.A. removed the brush hiding the cave entrance, revealing Hannibal holding a gun to a young man's head. Thought the boy's eyes would pop out, he looked so scared. Face slid past them all to check on Murdock. Hannibal thrust the boy in front of him, pushed him to sit down against one curved wall. B.A. jerked his head in the kid's direction.
"What's he for."
Hannibal stared hard at his Sergeant. "To fly us out of here," he replied bluntly. B.A. could see his commanding officer gauging his reaction. He shrugged matter-of-factly as his pulse started racing, notching up his headache. Turned to give Face a hand. He could feel Hannibal's eyes on his back.
Face was muttering under his breath as he took Murdock's pulse, Murdock out again, maybe for a while this time, head fallen to the side and his eyes closed, gave no reaction when B.A. snapped fingers near his ear. Face pushed a bag one-handed into B.A.'s chest.
"See what you can do with this," he said shortly, keeping his hand pressed against Murdock's right side, fingers already stained red. B.A. pawed through the contents, thin black tubing, couple of empty plastic water jugs, few other miscellania. . . of course. His mind began constructing diagrams as he swung around, grabbed the kid's hand and put the flashlight in it.
"Keep your hand up, light pointing here," he barked, demonstrating. "And it better be steady." Left room for no doubts as he turned back, began assembling parts together, rigging the tubing, cutting the jugs in half to catch drip. Hannibal started chuckling.
"Nice, B.A., nice."
B.A. stared at the Bell JetRanger, mesmerized despite his intentions to the contrary. Breathe in, out, in, out, clear the mind. . . shoot, he wasn't some new-age hippie, he just wanted to get in the damn chopper. He looked down at the make-shift stretcher and the pilot on it, so still even after B.A.'d practically drained himself, his head light now to top it all off. His big hands twisted the jacket, he narrowed his eyes as he stared at the snarling tiger's head, the words above that always, no matter what, brought back memories. B.A. squared his shoulders.
"What we all standin' here for? Let's go!" Climb up, into the back and strapped in, just like that, one-two-three. Helped Face pull the stretcher onto the floor, one bench already removed to accommodate it. Face down beside it, Hannibal and the kid in front. Flick of switches, the rotors slowly coming to life.
B.A. sensed dizziness threatening to darken his sight. He closed his eyes quickly. Felt a hand on his ankle. He looked down. Murdock awake for the moment, brown eyes into brown. The fool smiling like he'd just won something.
He didn't notice when they left the ground.
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