Summary: BA's thoughts while driving home.
Disclaimer: A-Team owned by S.J. Cannell. I just took them out for a short spin.
Comments: Yes, please. I need them.
Authors Notes: Blame it on The Carpenters' 'Love Songs.'
*denotes direct thoughts.
It was fairly quiet in the dark. BA didn't mind driving at night. No one
demanded he talk˝no one made fun of him. Oh, he knew they didn't mean it in a nasty way. He knew. But sometimes˝the words hurt.
Sometimes˝they hurt a lot.
As if he had any control over his size. And then they were glad when
things got dicey˝glad to have the big guy in their corner. Glad to have
the big guy on their side when it all went sour.
Sometimes that term ripped at his gut. They didn't mean it that way,
exactly. It wasn't meant as an ego-smashing name. Really. He knew they didn't mean to hurt him with their thoughtless words. A guy thing, he once told his mama. Using the not-so-nice words as nicknames for people. Just a guy thing, he'd said, and shrugged.
Mama had looked at him. That long, deep look to the inside of him.
Ignoring pretenses and seeing what her Scooter really thought. She could look right straight into his heart and soul. Then she spoke in that Sunday School teacher's voice: "Rude is rude, Baby. And guy-thing is just an excuse. I didn't bring you up to fall back on excuses."
No, she hadn't.
*Mama, I love you.*
The oncoming lights started to weave, and he checked the sides of the
highway for possible escape. The sedan was moving too fast. If he crossed the line again, he'd nail the van. Surely he wasn't a suicide jockey. Not at these speeds.
The lights swung back into the correct lane and the tired (or drunk) driver passed them by. Alone on the highway again.
The radio was playing something soft and sad. Oh, yeah. Something about being lost in 'The Masquerade.' The sort of song Mama would call sad truths. 'Cause you can't help but feel a little sad, smile a little, and
know just how true the words were.
Had the swerving woke anyone? He glanced back over his shoulder. Face slept against the corner, one hand still holding the envelope with the last client's pay against his chest for safe-keeping. Murdock, thankfully not moving in his sleep, was curled in a ball on the other side. The base ball cap had slid off his head and the fine hair swept across his forehead to hide the faint marks around his eyes where someone had given him a mouse.
That left the seat next to him. BA glanced to the right. No cigar
tonight. No pale gleam of laughing teeth and sparkling eyes. The Colonel was asleep. BA let his breath out slowly, soundlessly.
*Nothing to worry about, Hannibal. I'll get us home. Don't I always?*
Mama always said he was dependable. Not always the fastest. Or even the smartest. Except when it came to making motors run and putting things back together, maybe. But her Scooter was dependable. Not everyone can be the smartest, she had said.
He'd been crying because his report card didn't have any stars or 'A's on
it. The Reverend had said everyone with stars and A's would have ice cream after service. At six years old, ice cream was still a treat and he was the only one who wouldn't get any. Stinky Martin and dumb Tina wouldn't either˝but back then, it had seemed as if he was the only one.
Mama had hugged him and told him it didn't matter, 'cause he was dependable and the hurt had eased a little. When they'd stopped at the ice cream parlor on the way home, she'd used thirty cents of her bus money to buy them each a large cone, and hurt had gone away. (She walked to work that week, laughing at him, saying it was good for her figure to walk two miles to work.)
*Mama, I didn't even say thank you, did I?*
The radio had changed songs again. 'Where do I go from here?'
BA checked the mile signs and sighed again.
Still a long way home.
Should he wake someone and ask them to drive for a while? Better not. It had been a hell of a mission. Funny, how they all still thought and spoke in military terms. Not funny ha-ha. Funny in a sad sort of why? or why not?
Damn mission. It should have been simple. Go in, pick up the slime-ball extortionist, return the letters to the dumb woman and collect their pay. In and out. Hannibal was even being reasonable for once˝no sign of the 'Jazz.' That alone should have warned them.
So, when the cops were all around them and the slime-ball was laughing, BA had done what he usually did: grabbed Hannibal by the shirt-front and demanded that he get them out of there. "You'd better have a plan˝"
Instead of the usual devilish grin, the man had actually cuffed him on the
ear. "Look, Sergeant, if you can't come up with a plan of your own once in a while, shut up!"
*I didn't mean to joggle your arm. I was scared because you looked tired, Colonel. Never seen you looking so˝lost. Like the Jazz was lost.*
In the end, the grin had come back. A plan was outlined (dumb plan˝worked only 'cause the cops were equally dumb) and they'd escaped with the extortionist and collected their pay. Leave it to Face to make sure they got something.
No problems. Just˝hurt feelings.
And the long drive home.
Too long. Too many miles and too much time to thing.
*Never did like thinking. Ties the gut in knots. Never really
accomplishes anything. And besides, ugly mudsuckas don't get hurt
feelings. They don't wish for a hug from Mama. I hate nights like these.*
"How far, BA?"
He glanced to the right, not really surprised to see the pale eyes open and
studying him over the end of a just about to be lit cigar. The eyes were
sparkling with life, and the lips curved into a grin. The Colonel appeared
to be well rested for three hours sleep.
"Another hundred miles."
"Need someone to swap with you?"
BA felt the concern in his gaze and smiled again. "Nah. Almost home."
Smoke drifted out the cracked open window, and teeth flashed in the faint moon light. "I˝" the low, rough voice hesitated. "About that crack˝you not coming up with any plans˝I didn't mean it."
"Yeah, I know. You was busy thinking, and I distracted you for a minute, 'sall. No hard feelings."
"No hard feelings."
The silence was companionable, rather than stiff. BA smiled inside. Radio seemed to be reading his mind. 'Hurting each other' without ever knowing why.
And the hurt never stayed around for long. Because the greater,
sad-but-happy truths were there in the silence; in the smile across the
dark van, born of the Jazz; in the brief clasp of hand to shoulder. 'Cause
men don't need the words.
"So. Going to stop somewhere and call her to wish her Happy Mothers Day?"
"Yes." He waited a beat and then looked across to those eyes. "Mama
worries about you, too; Colonel." BA pulled over next to the pay phone.
He had a very important call to make. He didn't want to hurt her feelings.