Warning: angst, death
Summary: Day starts bad, gets worse. This will follow Smith for the rest of his life.
Disclaimer: A-Team characters belong to S. Cannell and F. Lupo, I make no money on this.
Copyright: Dec. 2000.
The mission had gone wrong from the start. Hannibal Smith was tired of running, and that was all they had done this time. They'd never had the advantage - not once! He kept fighting the thought that someone, somewhere, was one step ahead of them and selling them out to the adversary every inch of the way. He stubbornly pushed the worrisome thought from his mind; he had enough to deal with just keeping alive on this one.
"So where's this cabin we're supposed to find, Hannibal?" Peck's voice had a definite petulant whine to it.
"Here!" Smith snapped, his voice harsh as he tapped the map. "This is where it is supposed to be. You want to tell me where it is, Lieutenant?"
"I didn't set this one up, Hannibal. Don't you go get pissy with me, Colonel." Face sank back into his seat, pissed himself at this plan of Hannibal's that had gone so wrong. He was feeling the tension as much as everyone else. They had been given a bad bill of goods - not one contact, clue or adversary had been where they were supposed to. In most cases, it was either the military waiting for them or a new set of bad guys hell bent on capturing them, or at worst, killing them for the bounty on their heads.
"Pissy, Face? You haven't begun to see 'pissy'!" Smith whirled around in his seat to face his junior officer, really angry.
"Guys, guys... c'mon, can't we be friends? Do we really need to fight like this?" Murdock's Billy Crystal voice tried to interject between the two men on the right side of the van.
Smith turned around to face front again, still steaming. "Tell the Lieutenant here, Captain. I don't seem to be communicating well with him today." Smith hunched down in the seat.
Peck and the pilot exchanged looks. Hannibal was really mad today, and they sensed it wasn't really at them. Peck shrugged his shoulders, willing to admit defeat just to bring some harmony to the van.
BA was scanning the road studiously. "Look like they be some kinda blockage in da' road, Hannibal."
"Of course there is, BA, what else could it be? Couldn't go right for a change, could it?" Smith's voice was heavily laced with sarcasm. They'd been on the run, literally, for four days now, unable to stop for more than fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. Even with them taking turns driving and spelling each other sleeping, they'd had no real rest for those same days. The hunt for the Team had intensified to an appalling degree and for once, Hannibal had no quick nor easy plans to get them out of it or some respite so they could gather their resources. They were tired, dangerously tired and Smith knew this led to mistakes - the kind that could kill you -- and they were making them, in spades.
Baracus eased off the accelerator and coasted up to the large tree across the road. "Don' like dis, Hannibal. Don' feel right."
Smith nodded tersely. He was getting the same feeling. What he hadn't shared with the Team was the fact that he was also getting another feeling that Stockwell was behind all of it. They'd come to the end of their usefulness, it seemed, and Stockwell had put out a dragnet on them that was pervasive to a shocking degree. It wasn't just the military, it wasn't just the bounty hunters, it seemed like everybody was turning their shoulders on the Team. They had not been able to contact Amy, nor Maggie, nor any of their other usual safe harbours. BA's child-care center had curtly told him to stay away, he wasn't welcome anymore. Face hadn't had a date in so long he was about ready to jump one of them! Murdock had seemed to fare the best of any of them, but even the VA had closed its doors inexplicably.
"Wan' me to check it, Hannibal?" BA's voice had lowered, as if picking up his commander's inner fears.
"Yeah, BA, see if you can move it. I would really like to get where we are supposed to be and I don't feel like backtracking about thirty miles to do it." Smith looked out the window, sensing a presence nearby, but not sure what.
"Hey, I'll go wit'cha, big guy!" Murdock chirped as he grabbed an M-16 and hopped out the side door to help the big mudsucka.
"Just be careful, guys. I really don't feel right...."
"That's something new, Colonel?" Peck's voice was lightly cheerful even while tinged with sarcasm.
"Stow it, Lieutenant." Hannibal was getting more and more a feeling of negative energy, a lot of it.
BA had nearly reached the tree. Murdock was looking up at the sky, listening to a pair of battling squirrels claiming turf overhead. "Boy, they're really goin' at it, BA!"
"Fine, long's they don't pee on me! Don' like it when dose damn squirrels piss on me thinking I be a tree." BA had bent down to heft the trunk of the tree to see if it was liftable.
Hannibal saw it first. A bright flash of light, a reflection off something metal. "BA! Get down! We've got bogies!" He leaned out the window, his rifle in hand, ready to fire.
Suddenly numerous bodies jumped up all around and began firing. Murdock looked up startled, while BA dropped the tree, and weaponless, spun around to get back to the van.
The sharpshooter off in the trees was quicker.
Smith watched with horror as Baracus suddenly flew forward, his arms splayed out, then fell heavily to the ground. Murdock jerked next to him and went down, but twisted once he hit the ground and began a rapid stomach crawl to the van, unaware his friend lay behind him, wounded.
Peck jumped into the driver's seat and began to rev the engine.
Hannibal realized that they had to get BA, no matter what. As Murdock reached the van, he looked up at Smith with a bewildered gaze. "Hannibal, what happened?"
"Get in the van, Murdock! I've got to get BA." Smith shoved the door open and spun around it, firing in a wide swath in front of him as he crouched low and ran zig-zag to the downed sergeant.
Smith reached BA and could tell it was bad. "C-mon, BA, you gotta get up. I can carry you, but I can't lift you. Please, BA!" Smith felt a note of panic slip into his voice as he saw BA's back covered with blood that was gushing everywhere.
Somehow, Baracus pulled it together enough to roll over and get his knees under him. He managed to push himself partly upright, and it was enough - Hannibal grabbed his arm and threw him over his shoulder, having to run like hell now with no covering fire.
Even while keeping his foot on the accelerator, Face grabbed BA's M-16 and began laying down cover fire for Hannibal as he made his way back to the van.
Smith made it around the front of the van and to the side and threw BA in, no finesse at work. He dove in and grabbed onto the nearest seatbelt as Face shifted gears and peeled out of there in reverse.
Executing a sharp 180 turn, he then flew down the road they'd only just come up. When he had put about a half mile behind him, he finally slowed down minimally to look over his shoulder to see Hannibal finally getting his feet under him and he and Murdock pulling BA into the middle of the van. Murdock slammed the side door shut, while Hannibal reached for the blankets and med kit stowed under the back seat.
He snaked his arm under BA's head and raised it, putting a pillow pack under it. "BA, talk to me."
BA's large doe-like eyes finally opened, but seemed to be unfocused. "Hannibal, that you? What happen, man?"
"You got shot." Smith wasn't up to mincing words right now as he ripped open BA's shirt to see the damage. When he did, a spurting fountain of blood sprayed all over him. "Oh, dear God." He reached for some gauzes and tried to block the torn vein.
Murdock was next to him, trying to help. Smith raised his eyes to the pilot, eyes that held a haunted horror in them. If BA had a gaping chest wound with a ripped artery or vein, there was nothing they could do. Nothing.
Murdock nodded back at Smith, understanding. He reached down and took BA's hand. "Hey, you big mudsucka, what'cha tryin' to do? Don't you know you're supposed to..." his voice suddenly strangled, "duck when people are shooting at ya?" It was beginning to hit the pilot that his good friend's life was probably slipping through his hands now. He looked back up at Smith, his eyes beginning to water. "Hannibal, can't we do something? Please?" The last was a feathery whisper of desperation.
Smith shook his head no. They were fifty miles out in the backwoods of upper California. Even if there were a doctor or hospital they could go to, it would take time - more time than BA had.
BA sensed it. He reached up and grabbed Hannibal's coat collar. "Hannibal... man, you gotta tell ma mama I love her, okay?"
Smith nodded, numb, unable to say anything.
BA looked at the pilot. "Who gonna take care'a you, fool? Who gonna protect you?"
At that, Murdock's eyes flooded over. "No one like you, man. Oh, c'mon, BA, hang on. We'll get you to the hospital... we'll fix this."
Baracus was wiser than that. He looked at Smith who shook his head no, even as his own eyes filled. "You take care of him, Hannibal. He special, need special people to watch over him. You take care of him fo' me, huh?"
Smith nodded again. "You know it..." he tried to say something else but got choked up.
"It okay, Hannibal. I know. I always known. You tha' daddy of us... jus' wish I could stop this."
"No child should die before its parent." Smith felt the words slip out somehow, unaware of even saying them.
"We knowed this day might come, Colonel. You did yo best. Cain' never ask fo' more than you did for us. Nevah."
Face, totally immersed in driving, missed what was going on behind him.