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Title: Birds

Birds
by Cathy Fisher


Rating: G
Summary: Murdock brings the Team a present and chaos breaks out.
Warnings: Sap and sentimentalism
Disclaimer: The A-Team do not belong to me. I am merely using them for my own enjoyment.
Comments: This is another story that took on a life early in the morning. It does not have any connection to the movie Birds. Many thanks to Danielle for beta reading this for me on short notice. Comments and suggestions are welcomed with open arms. Enjoy.

˙˙˙ Birds ˙˙˙

"Check," Face declared with a triumphant look at his commanding officer. The two men were seated in the lounge in the front of the house in Langley where the Team had been living for almost a year now.

"I think he's got you, Johnny," Frankie Santana said pessimistically from the where he sat, watching the game.

The colonel studied the game board carefully. Secretly he agreed with Frankie, but he wasn't about to let them know that. Sticking the half-smoked cigar into his mouth, he looked up at his second-in-command and grinned, his eyes twinkling merrily.

"Nah, there's always a way out if you look hard enough," Hannibal remarked airily. "Besides," he added, a mischievous grin on his face, "You know that I love a challenge." Leaning forward to study the board once more, he was distracted by the door banging open in the foyer.

Instinct and years on the run made both men jump to their feet at the sudden sound. Alarm turned to curiosity and they relaxed as their friend and teammate, Captain H.M. Murdock moved awkwardly through the door, his arms around a large blanket-covered item. Moving over to a desk underneath one of the windows, the captain set his burden down and turned to face his friends, his features flushed with excitement, an almost maniacal gleam glowing in his eyes.

"I've got a surprise for you guys," he said breathlessly, a large grin on his face. "Where's BA?"

Hannibal's eyes narrowed in curiosity as he moved toward the desk and the interesting object. "He's in the garage working on the van. What is it, Murdock?"

"A surprise," the pilot repeated. "But wait. BA has to be here, too."

"I'll get him," Frankie volunteered and went off in search of the large sergeant.

In a few minutes, all five men stood around the mysterious object as Murdock struck a pose and began to milk the suspense for all it was worth.

"I have decided that this house is too barren, too quiet." The pilot waved one arm dramatically to indicate the lush surroundings. Hannibal took the cigar out of his mouth and looked at the captain as if he were an interesting bug worthy of study. BA, however, took a far more direct route.

"Whatcha mean it's too quiet," he spoke irritably. He had been in the middle of changing the van's oil and he hated leaving unfinished tasks, especially to deal with his friend's foolishness. "All we need is you to walk in the door and we got plenty of sound. Get to the point, suckah. My van's waiting."

Murdock gave the large, bejeweled man a hurt look. "I am merely trying to say…Okay, okay," he finished hurriedly as BA raised a fist. His smile returned as he turned to face the object on the table. "Anyway," he said with a quick look at BA, "I got this for you guys to provide comfort and companionship during the bleak winter days and nights to come." With a dramatic bow, he swept the blanket off the object.

Five sets of eyes stared at the table, and more specifically at the now revealed object on the table. The silence was broken as one of the occupants of the cage twittered softly.

"Birds?" Templeton Peck gave his best friend an incredulous look. "You got us birds?"

Murdock grinned at Face before leaning over to poke one finger through the cage at the four finches inside. "Sure, Faceman," he replied cheerily. "Birds are great company. They sing for you when you are down, the provide a listening ear when no one else will listen, they…"

Face interrupted and took over the sentence, "…they are dirty, they smell. You have to clean them and feed them and make sure they don't die." He trailed off with a meaningful look at the colonel.

Hannibal stepped forward to study the birds. "I don't know, Face. It might be interesting to have pets in the house." He stuck one finger through the bars and grinned as the finches fluttered out of his way. "I think they're cute."

"Cute," Face repeated with a distasteful look on his face. He'd never much cared for birds. He remembered one foster family that had had birds. As the newest member of the family and the lowest person on the totem pole, he had been required to clean the cage every week. His nose wrinkled as he remembered the smell and how difficult it was to get the large birdcage cleaned.

"I love birds," Frankie Santana said happily. "My family has always had them, all kinds." He moved forward to look at the cage and its contents more closely. Unfortunately, Hannibal's finger was still between the bars. As the young man pushed his way in, Hannibal tried to remove his finger quickly. There was a resounding crash as the cage toppled from the narrow desk and fell to the floor, almost taking the colonel's finger with it. To make matters worse, the cage door popped open and four very frightened birds burst from the opening.

Pandemonium erupted.

"Quick, block the fireplace so they can't get up the chimney."

"Close the doors so they can't get out of this area."

Feathers flew and people bumped into each other as they all tried to shout directions and orders to the others.

Face and Frankie, between them, managed to maneuver one of the finches into a corner of the living room. Frankie made a grab for it, only to have it slip through his fingers and fly madly at the closed glass deck door in a desperate attempt to escape. It hit the glass hard and fell dazed to the floor. Face moved over and quickly but gently picked it up. It didn't look like it was hurt. Its feathers were so soft and beautiful, he marveled as he gently stroked the tiny body.

BA had gotten lucky. His quarry had flown into the entryway. In the small enclosed space, he quickly had it cornered. As it crouched trembling on the floor in a corner, he moved to pick it up, every action slow and calculated so as not to scare the tiny creature any further. As he picked it up, he felt the tiny heartbeat pounding madly against his fingers.

"Poor thing must be scared to death," he muttered softly as he carried the tiny bundle of feathers back into the lounge.

"I've got one in the kitchen," Hannibal called as he tried to trap the frantic bird that was flapping madly about running into cabinets and windows. Finally, he cornered it in the sink. Flapping wildly, the determined little bird tried repeatedly to escape his imprisoning hands. The colonel gently secured the wings and legs until the bird remained still and trembling in his hand. He admired the bird's stubbornness and tenacity despite the hopelessness of its situation.

Murdock had managed to chase his bird into the office adjoining the main living room. Closing the door to prevent escape, he proceeded to jump up onto the desk, scattering several neat piles of paper and toppling a couple stacks of books. Frightened by the madly groping human, the bird flew wildly at the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along one wall. Spotting what it thought was a refuge, the bird darted into the dark space between two books.

Carefully separating the books, the captain gently picked up the bird, cooing softy to it in an attempt to calm the terrified creature. He was amazed at how delicate it felt in his fingers, almost as if it would crush into dust if he squeezed too hard. Very carefully, he opened the door and carried his precious burden back into the living room.

Frankie had picked up the cage and set it once more upon the desk as the Team members emerged from the various rooms, the birds clutched gently in their fingers. Four sets of eyes moved to the open cage waiting to reclaim its residents. One by one, their eyes dropped to the warm bundles in their hands.

"What are you guys waiting for?" Frankie asked impatiently. "Put them back in the cage before they escape again."

"Hannibal," Face's voice was almost a whisper. He raised pleading eyes to his commander. Hannibal swallowed as he saw his own thoughts reflected in the conman's blue-green eyes.

"I can't do it," BA said in a choked voice. "I can't put 'em back in there."

"What do ya mean, you can't put them back," Frankie asked incredulously. "They're birds, for goodness sake. "They belong in a cage."

"No they don't," Murdock's eyes met those of his companions in silent agreement. "The big guy's right, Hannibal. They don't deserve to be imprisoned again."

Hannibal nodded slowly. "Open the deck doors, Frankie."

"Are you guys crazy?" The young man looked at his friends in disbelief.

"Just open them," Hannibal insisted in a quiet but strained voice. There was no way that the kid could understand. Silently shaking his head, Frankie moved to obey and all five men moved out onto the deck facing the back yard.

The day was beautiful for mid-Fall. The sun was bright and a warm wind blew from the south causing dead leaves to flutter gently to the ground. The four team members walked out onto a lawn just beginning to turn brown.

"On my count," Hannibal said softly and the others nodded. "Three, Two, One." Three birds fluttered skyward, caught the breeze and flew gracefully into the air, reveling in their freedom.

One bird remained, clutched in Murdock's gentle fingers. He looked down at it, marveling at its soft feathers and delicate body. 'Could it survive in the wild?' he wondered sadly. Wouldn't he be doing it a favor to keep it locked up where it would be fed and cared for? He felt the eyes of his friends on him. None of them said a word, as if they understood the struggle going on inside of him.

Looking up into the sky, the pilot saw that the other three finches had not disappeared. They were flying circles above the five men standing below them as if waiting for their friend and family member to join them. Suddenly, Murdock knew that his bird would be okay. The others would take care of it. The important thing was that they would all be free, together.

Throwing his arms up into the air, he released the tiny bird. As if it were rising out of a rocket launcher, the finch rose swiftly into the air to join its companions. In moments, the four had disappeared into the trees surrounding the property.

The four team members remained out on the lawn until long after the birds had gone. Finally, Hannibal tore his eyes from the place where the birds had disappeared. "C'mon guys," he said quietly. "Let's go back inside." Nodding Face, Murdock, and BA headed into the house, followed closely by Frankie who had remained at a respectful distance throughout the entire thing. He hadn't understood what was going on, but he had known that whatever it was, it was very important to his friends.

Hannibal was the last one in the door. As he closed the sliding glass doors, he took one last look at the trees and the skies beyond. "Someday," he whispered softly before returning once more into the cage that held him and his Team. For now, anyway.


The End


Birds by Cathy Fisher

 

 


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