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This page last viewed: 2017-08-17 and has been viewed 2600 times
Warnings: Childhood abuse remembered/impied through a nightmare.
Disclaimer: The A-Team characters belong to Stephen J. Cannell.
Summary: Just a bit of smarmy comfort during a storm...
Storms had put him on edge as long as he could remember. The atmosphere grew so violent, so angry... It turned on you, much like people could do. It was an early lesson in his life: the intrusive noises signaled bad things, and it hadn't mattered how hard he hoped for the sounds to die out, because by then it was usually too late. His hopes were rarely if ever answered back then.
Now of course he was an adult, and Face knew the noises couldn't hurt him, nor did they necessarily signal harm. Intellectually he knew that. It was funny though how the subconscious didn't always listen to reason.
So he tried to focus on comforting sounds. He could hear Murdock
asleep already in the other twin bed, his breathing even and deep. This
had come after the pilot's obligatory babbling session --
Murdock and his alter-egos settling in for the night. Face had tuned him out easily with an indulgent comment or two. He'd been still drifting toward sleep however; he hadn't quite found it when the
brewing storm finally arrived.
He should've been dead asleep as fast as Murdock. God knew he
was tired enough to fall into a deep, dreamless sleep; they all were. Their
latest case had been the usual -- a well laid plan gone awry, improvisation,
fast thinking, then it was over as quickly as it had begun. That
was one reason they'd stopped where they could get a full night's sleep
in real beds, rather than pushing it to drive
through the night back to LA.
It was Face who spotted the B&B sign on the secondary highway. Luck was on their side and the inn had rooms available. Face was bunking with Murdock in the one room, Hannibal and B.A. in another across the hall. Hannibal had said he 'felt' a storm in the air; now several hours later the Colonel was proven right, as Face lay listening to the wind pick up significantly. It had been a good call on Hannibal's part, to get off the road for the night. The weather system was really only getting started, and it promised to be severe as thunder rumbled up and then echoed back down the canyon.
The old house creaked all around. The sounds were amplified in the darkness, like splintering wood. Tree limbs raked over the shutters and their brittle tips scratched at the windowpanes. A lightning strike bathed the strange surroundings of his room in an eerie strobe of light; the scene held suspended for the second or two before darkness again enclosed everything. An angry rumble of thunder exploded like rocket shells.
Face now wished he were in familiar surroundings, the L.A. apartment he currently lived in or one of the beds he shared on occasion with his women acquaintances. Severe storms weren't common in the city, like they could be here in the mountains. He'd forgotten how easily the shadows and sounds could pull him back in time. He consciously blamed it on combat noise from the war -- one great origin of so many veterans' nightmares... But that was a lie. It went back far earlier than that, to a time he learned to associate violent storm noise with the promise of fear and pain. It was harder to dispute that dark truth, once the sun wasn't shining and he couldn't hide behind his smile.
At some point he slipped over the barrier into sleep. The dream images crowded his subconscious and thrust him back in time. When he was awake he could keep the memories locked safely away -- most of the time, at least. But when he gave control over to sleep it was a different story.
Now the current storm blended with his past and it was the rainy season
all over again, during those months he'd spent in the foster home from
hell -- those few months that lasted forever. Storms had
raged overhead almost nightly, as he lay awake with his small form curled up tightly. He would listen so hard but he couldn't always tell the storm sounds from footsteps on the stairs. More often than
not it was the heavy tread that would come to his door. He always tried, tried so hard to remain silent but sometimes the whimpers slipped out along with whispered pleadings that never did him any good. Nobody heeded them.
The storm sounds grew louder than his own whisperings, and the winds hissed his name repeatedly -- blending together past and present in the way of dreams. His adult nickname called him from a distance, a familiar voice bridging the gap of time. The wind and whispers worked together to pull him out of the darkness...
He snapped awake as one final "Face!" was loudly whispered in the room. Being so long on the run had made him instantly aware of his surroundings whenever he awoke. He knew he was not alone, so he lay very still and forced his breathing to slow even though it burned his chest to do so. Instinct compelled him to pull in great gasps of air.
"Oh, did I wake you up?" Face looked across the room as another
lightning flash struck; he could see Murdock lying with his head turned
in Face's direction. He wasn't asking if Face was okay, not
reassuring him he was awake now so maybe, maybe he hadn't made a fool of himself after all. Maybe he hadn't announced his nightmare by crying out or thrashing around...
"'M sorry Face, it's this storm--"
"Storm," Face breathed, struggling to get his ragged breaths under control.
Lightning blazed and this time lit the sky for long seconds, snakes of light chasing across the sky like it would never end. Face saw Murdock nod, brown eyes wide and sincere as he lay watching Face.
"The thunder and lightnin' get started real good, 'n some of my worst nightmare masterpieces decide to make an appearance. Been talkin' to the Doc about 'em," all this came out in one breath; Murdock dragged in another to continue: "and I tol' 'im it helps when I pull Billy into bed with me and hold onto him tight and do you know what he said? The Doc, not Billy," Murdock clarified, his speech well into high gear.
"No idea," Face answered, his voice nearly normal.
"He said 'Well do it!' Hold Billy close an' the storm can't hurt
me, not even in my dreams." He pulled in a ragged breath, for effect.
"But Face, you know what?" he asked. Pleading saturated his
"What, Murdock?" Face made himself sound exasperated, but God, listening to Murdock rant was good. It was grounding, and helped more than anything else to push the nightmare truths back down, deep into his psyche where he tried to keep them.
Murdock's words were a loud stage whisper, confiding in Face, "Billy didn't come on this trip!"
A burst of thunder drowned out the rest of what the pilot said. But Face didn't need to hear it. Once the rumbles died away, he whispered, "C'mon, then."
The Captain didn't need additional coaxing. He was out of his twin bed and leaping into the other, alongside his best friend in a heart beat.
They settled quickly; it wasn't the first time they'd fitted together
in cramped quarters to try to get some rest. Any time one of them
was hurt, or cold, they did what they could to get through it. It
went back to their days in the camps, where survival had done away with inhibitions or masculinity concerns.
"Thanks Facey. I'll sleep quiet and won't move around, I promise, 'cause I'll know you're here and the nightmares won't be back."
With that he burrowed down deeper in the shared covers, making it clear he didn't need or expect an answer.
"Okay now?" Face whispered after a minute.
"Yeah," Murdock automatically responded through a yawn, on the verge of getting back to sleep, "you'll sleep okay now." He opened his eyes wide once the words left his mouth and he felt the other man stiffen.
"I will," Murdock hurriedly corrected. "I'll sleep just fine now. No more nightmares for me, not tonight--"
He stopped babbling when Face squeezed his shoulder. The Lieutenant's body relaxed. "It's okay, Murdock."
Murdock took him at his word, and as more thunder ripped through the night he returned the reassuring and grateful embrace. The storm sounds had started to lull the pilot back toward sleep when he heard the last words, felt the younger man's breath at his ear, "Thanks, Murdock."
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