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Title: If Only In My Dreams
By: Tiffany May Harrsch
Status: Complete (don't you just love that word)
Rating: PG Content warning: Not much. Just a little melencholy mood.
Summary: It's Christmas Eve and BA is feeling a little down.
Archive: Of course. With comment card, please. Fanfiction.net,
Disclaimer: I don't claim anything!
If Only In My Dreams
Tiffany May Harrsch
Somewhere in Southern California
BA detested that song.
He hadn't really understood it the first time he heard it. When people sang it in 'Nam, it made him want to cry, which made him want to strangle the singers. It fit his situation too well then. Though it shouldn't have, it fit his situation too well now.
Still, he let it get as far as the second stanza before he manhandled the dial to another station.
He really didn't want to hear the last line.
"Hey, I was listening to that!" Murdock protested from the passenger seat. He reached to change the channel back.
BA glared at him, not even saying a word.
"Well, this song's good, too," Murdock said, prudently sitting back. "Has more of a beat anyway." He started tapping his foot and snapping his fingers in time with the music.
BA shook his head when Murdock started adding lines that weren't part of the official story of a certain red-nosed reindeer. He wasn't in the mood for Christmas songs, least of all coming from Murdock's mouth. But he wasn't ready to attempt the futile battle of complaining about them. Besides, it was only a couple of days each year, and the fool was clearly enjoying himself.
Murdock had a holiday pass from the VA. He was going to spend the time with the team, as had become custom for them. It was also custom for Murdock to carry an extra bulky bag with him, and act very secretive about its contents.
"What'd ya bring with ya, fool?" BA decided the usual Q and A was better than listening to Murdock sing just now. It might take his mind off of customs he could no longer participate in.
"Stuff," Murdock sang, not missing a beat.
"Tryin' to smuggle yer room out?" He knew the question was ridiculous. But it earned a half-second frown from the crazy man before Murdock went along with the game.
"Well," Murdock drawled, "there has been a rash of disappearances lately." The grin let BA know there was nothing to really worry about. And his following words confirmed it was just a story. "I think the elves have come for a visit again," Murdock said conspiratorially. He put on an Irish accent. "The little people're getting' tired o' makin' the toys for the end of the rainbow, ye know."
"It's a pot of gold, fool," BA corrected.
"Really?" Murdock acted surprised. "Well then, you better be careful, big guy. They might decide it'd be easier to take yours than to make more, if ya know what I mean. Elves are sneaky, ya know."
BA rolled his eyes.
"Can I change the channel back now?" Murdock asked. "These guys are okay, but I like Bing and Bob better."
Murdock happily turned the receiver from a channel playing all the old Christmas songs sung by all the new singers, some of who BA didn't even recognize, back to the channel showcasing the classics by turn. This hour was Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, sometimes even together.
They fell silent for a while as they continued down the highway toward the beach house Face had scammed for the month. It was cold for this time of year, which was to say there was little more than a chill in the air. BA grew up in an area that made this seem like the middle of summer in comparison.
"Ooh, that would be fun," Murdock said dreamily.
On the radio, Bing was dreaming of a white Christmas. Not a very likely possibility in Southern California.
"Want ta have one tonight?" Murdock asked. "I've been practicing. No way you'll cream me this time!"
"Ain't gonna snow at the beach, fool."
"So?" Murdock shrugged.
"So how can we have a snowball fight when there ain't no snow?" BA had to wonder about Murdock, sometimes.
"So we'll use… cotton balls, or something," Murdock said with a triumphant grin. "We could do it at night when it's colder and pretend it's snow!"
"A cotton ball fight?" BA scrunched his eyes at the image that evoked. He could just see Murdock throwing up handfuls of cotton balls and insisting what came down was really snow. Then scoop it up off the ground and act disappointed when his ball never made it's mark.
The only time Murdock was good at snow ball fights was when he was hitting himself. BA knew, he'd seen it often enough. Face was almost as bad. Hannibal was the only one who made a good opponent. He gave as good as he got. Not that BA could really blame Face and Murdock, they just didn't have the practice. They grew up in places where the sun liked to shine through the winter. They didn't have the years of experience BA had at packing the snow just right, of making sure it wasn't so wet it hit its target as ice, or of knowing what shade of white was perfect for eating and which shades to avoid…
BA smiled at himself. Times like today when he missed the real snowball fights. Missed being forced to wear too many layers and clunky snow boots. It was the only time of year his mother's admonitions to pick up his feet made any sense.
BA sighed. He ignored Murdock's questioning gaze, and concentrated instead on the road. The house Face managed to procure was off a tiny dirt road that was easy to miss. BA had passed it three times as he tried to find it.
"Nice," Murdock commented when they pulled up. The house was tastefully done to blend in with the trees and vegetation that liked to grow on cliffs near an ocean. A couple of the trails led away from the house, one into the forest, one down to the beach. Leave it to Face to try to find the best of both worlds.
Murdock was struggling with his bag. It was bulky, and looked heavy.
"Here, let me get it."
"Oh, no you don't!" Murdock slapped BA's hand away. "No peeking until tomorrow."
No peeking. How many times had he heard his mother say the same thing to him when he was a child? He used to follow her inside with groceries as she used her body to hide any hint of what the presents she carried might be. Kind of like how he was following Murdock now.
The house was warm and smelled of popcorn and butter.
"Oh, are we gonna roast any chestnuts?" Murdock asked as they passed by the lit fire place.
BA glanced down at the bags filling his arms, suddenly feeling like he'd forgotten something. Mentally he ran through the list Hannibal had given him of odds and ends to pick up after getting Murdock. Nope, he assured himself. He got everything. He didn't have the heart to tell Murdock chestnuts weren't on the list.
He delivered the groceries to Hannibal and Face in the kitchen. BA returned to the living room to find Murdock trying to sneak his presents under the tree. BA grinned and watched Murdock try to pretend he didn't know where the gifts came from.
The tree was small and seemed dwarfed by the spacious living room. Face liked a lot of space. BA was used to the coziness of an apartment. And a tree that threatened to take the living room for itself. And he missed the smell of a living tree. Even Murdock got the real thing at the VA. Face had complained about cleaning up the needles, and how they always seemed to get stuck in the carpet, and worried that the house's real owners would notice a stray needle where there shouldn't have been any. They had gotten this little, pre-dressed plastic thing, ostensibly to please Face. BA knew the real reason was because they may have to leave at a moment's notice, and no one really wanted to put the emotional investment into a thing they might have to abandon the next day.
Still, it was pretty. Face always could pick out the nicest fake things. And it served its purpose as a decoration and a continuation of tradition. That was about all they had now. Each other, and the traditions they tried to maintain in the name of normalcy.
Like the way Murdock tried to name the lights on the tree as he watched them blink for most of the night. Or the way Face insisted on stringing popcorn that never made it to the tree. And the way Hannibal spent the evening preparing the ingredients for breakfast and dinner so he wouldn't be in the kitchen all Christmas day. The way BA would watch the ball games, and grumble about parades and old holiday movies lasting too long.
They were traditions, BA reflected as he went to bed later that night, that he wouldn't give up for anything. But there were other traditions he still wanted to be a part of, other family he wanted to spend time with.
BA woke up in the middle of night, blinking at the clock. He watched the ceiling for a few minutes, telling himself to close his eyes. Only he didn't want to go back to sleep. It wasn't that he was having nightmares. His dreams were usually good during the holidays. Thing was, BA liked emotions to be straightforward. If things made you angry, they made you angry. If they made you happy, they shouldn't make you sad at the same time.
He decided a glass of warm milk was in order and headed toward the kitchen.
BA found Murdock by the tree. He seemed to be playing with the presents. Probably shaking them, BA thought with a roll of his eyes. Murdock and Face acted like kids whenever gifts were involved. Face hid his excitement better, but BA had caught him doing the same thing on more than one occasion. You'd think they'd never celebrated Christmas before.
"You better get back to bed, fool," BA said. Murdock jumped and spun around guiltily. "Hannibal's not gonna be happy if you fall asleep over his Christmas breakfast."
Murdock gave his a sheepish smile. "Could say the same about you, big guy."
"Gonna have some milk, first."
Murdock brightened. "Sounds good. Think I'll have some too." He meandered to the kitchen. "Warmed?" he asked by way of offer.
"Yeah," BA said, not following. "I'll be in inna minute."
"It'll be ready for you," Murdock assured him before disappearing.
BA waited until the door had closed before going to the tree. Okay, so he still felt the child-like excitement, too. When he was a kid, he remembered getting up far too early in the morning to sit by the tree and look. And sometimes touch. There was something mesmerizing about the way the colored paper reflected the lights of the tree. All the reds and blues and greens and gold.
BA spotted a tiny package that hadn't been there when he went to bed. It was wrapped in gold tinted paper which didn't match any of the others. Intrigued, BA looked under the bow that was larger than the gift for the name tag. He just about dropped it when he read the name in the familiar, neat penmanship. "To Scooter."
BA swallowed, sat without looking where he was going first. He stared at the package for a long moment, turning it over and over as if to memorize every angle. Careful not to tear the paper, he opened it.
BA was unaware of Murdock watching him from the kitchen door, a smile on his face.
* * * * * * * * *
Mrs. Baracus looked out the window of her apartment to the snow covered street. It was piled high on the sidewalk and drifted on the streets. Except for the paths made from foot traffic and single file cars, it managed to maintain it's pristine whiteness. It made the grey day look brighter, and the sound of children enjoying it helped to lift her lonely mood.
The timer went off, bringing her attention back indoors. The smell of cooling chocolate chip mingled with newly baked peanut butter cookies. She smiled at herself as she pulled the second tray out of the oven. She always made too much. She was still too used to having a growing boy to feed, and all his friends around to help with the leftovers. Well, some habits were hard to break. And some habits, she reflected as she spooned more dough onto fresh baking sheets, she enjoyed too much to break.
Scooter may not be around anymore, but she still had plenty of people to feed. There were always treats for the local kids and gifts of a variety of homemade cookies for the other residents in her building. And the care packages she made every year for some people she knew who didn't have any family to share the holidays with, or who couldn't travel to be with them.
She added bags full of cookies to said packages. After all, a dinner just isn't as good without dessert to follow it. Satisfied they were all of decent proportions, she put them in plastic sacks. The kind with handles made them easier to carry. She pulled out the last tray of cookies and made sure the oven was off before bundling herself up to go out. One thing she didn't miss about Scooter being an adult was all the trouble she had to go through to get him to dress properly for the cold. Now she didn't have to start so early to make the delivery run and still be back before it got too dark. She got a secure grip on the bags and let herself out. Scooter used to help her carry them when he was younger. Now she had to allow for a little squishage or consider making two trips.
She made her stops without hurry, paying little attention to the cold or her tail. They used to bother Mrs. Baracus back when they first started watching her. She hated feeling like she was the one in trouble with the military, and the constant reminders that her Scooter was a wanted man. She used to resent their presence, blaming them for preventing her from seeing her son.
Before long, she became used to the addition to her neighborhood. It helped that they usually tried, if not to stay out of sight, then at least to stay out from under foot. Over the years, after a consistent lack of the people they were looking for, they watched her less and less, until eventually they mostly left her alone. Mrs. Baracus had no doubt that her phone was bugged and her mail looked at. The A-Team, her son included, was still a too high profiled pain in the Army's side to let her alone completely. But the watchers only came out of the wood work at the end of the year now, for the usual holidays; and, interestingly, around Mother's Day.
Mrs. Baracus smiled at herself. They knew her son well. She missed him and knew the separation hurt him as well. But he was smarter than they seemed to give him credit for. There was no way he'd risk showing up for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even Mother's Day, just to spend some time with her.
She made it back to the apartment shortly after the sun went down. She still had a few gifts to wrap and a couple more of her care packages to make ready. She'd deliver those tomorrow, before spending the rest of the day helping out at the church. She had to keep herself busy somehow now that she didn't have kids around anymore.
At about eight she put on a pot of coffee. She turned on the radio and returned to the window. So pretty out there, with the street lights making the snow sparkle. A snow angel decorated the front yard across the street. Scooter used to love to make them, then get up and add horns to the head. Down the street, someone was attempting to dig out his car. Not far down the opposite end was a car that stuck out only because it wasn't buried.
Mrs. Baracus poured coffee into two insulated cups and made sure the lids were on tight. She put her coat on for the last care package run of the day.
The MP's looked as if they weren't sure what to do as she approached them. The one on the passenger side gave her a faintly guilty look as he rolled down the window.
"I thought you boys might be hungry," she said. "I'm sure your mamas would want you to eat right."
Mrs. Baracus felt guilty that they weren't with their mamas tonight. She was no longer bothered by their presence. Now she pitied the poor boys sent to watch her. They should be home with their families on Christmas Eve. She felt even worse for the mothers of the MP's that would come to replace them in the morning.
Back inside, she put her coat away and prepared for bed. Not ready to sleep yet, Mrs. Baracus walked aimlessly around her apartment. There weren't as many decorations as she was used to. There was no one around to make them anymore. It seemed the tree got smaller every year, and the floor around it definitely emptier. She glanced over the Christmas cards sitting on the shelves and flat surfaces. She was getting more and more of those to clutter up the space, she thought wryly. But her favorites rarely grew. They had a special place on a stand near the tree. Colorful, worn cards Scooter had made for her when he was younger, and a couple of bought cards in which he had written more than just a few words written in them.
On that special table was the last letter Scooter had written to her. She didn't know how many times she'd read it. Enough to know it word for word. She had received it just before her yearly shadows arrived for the winter. They both knew they would be out of touch for a while. That was the way it went when you were trying to stay out of the limelight. Mrs. Baracus didn't like it, but she accepted it. And prepared for it.
She had found a Christmas present for Scooter back in July. It was a lovely little locket in Scooter's favorite color: gold. Finding a chain to go with it took longer. She wanted something thick enough to not break easily, but also something thin enough to hide under all his other gold. It was a locket, after all, and she didn't want to embarrass him. She put a picture of them from a Christmas they had together just before he joined the Army. On the other side had engraved "Always in my dreams."
She wrapped it up in August, and sent it to Scooter's friend Murdock for safe keeping. He was the only one of the A-Team who had a permanent address, and she was sure he'd be with Scooter on Christmas. She had enclosed a letter warning him not to put it out too early, because Scooter always liked to inspect his presents early and try to weasel her into letting him open them on Christmas Eve.
She hoped Scooter liked the gift. She also hoped he wouldn't be too mad at his friend for keeping it from him for so long. She smiled to herself at that thought. She knew where Scooter got his impatience.
She walked around to turn off the lights, leaving only the twinkling from the tree. The tree was a night light she and Scooter always loved. She paused at the radio, waiting for the current song to finish playing before turning it off. It was one of the sad ones that always made her want to cry.
Sniffling, she laid down. The last line of the song repeated again in her head. She closed her eyes and waited for sleep to come. Scooter would always be with her for Christmas in her dreams.
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