Chapter 5: Reluctant Brotherhood
[AN: The prayer appears courtesy of the "Favorite Catholic Prayers" Prayer Book.]
[Nha Trang camp]
After their ordeal in the Central Highlands, Peck and Baracus had spent several days in the hospital recovering from their injuries. Nothing was ever mentioned about their overnight conversation in the forest hideout. But it came as no surprise to BA, when Peck did eventually admit to everyone that he was an orphan.
One month later, BA stood impatiently in the mail queue. He had got there especially early, because he was hoping that as well as his own mail, there would also be a special delivery for Peck. He wanted to get back to their hooch before the Lieutenant – which was his usual practice at mail call – ran out on them.
BA all but grabbed the two packages from the mail officer and rushed back to the hooch. He was relieved to find Peck was still there, preening himself like a majestic peacock in front of his mirror.
"Hey Temp!" growled BA. "You've got mail."
Peck abruptly dropped his mirror and stared in surprise at BA, as did the rest of the team. He held out his hand, hesitantly, as BA shoved the package at him. They both felt slightly uncomfortable under the amused spotlight of their fellow comrades.
Peck began to open the package very slowly and carefully, almost as if he was about to defuse a bomb. With the packaging finally discarded, he was left holding a smallish box. As he opened it, he found there was nothing out of the ordinary in it. Certainly there was nothing that he couldn't have procured by himself. Nevertheless, he stood transfixed to the spot as he glanced over its contents, eyeing them up as if they were priceless jewels.
As well as the usual supply of travel-sized toiletries, there were packets of hot chocolate, breakfast bars, crisps, chocolate and tinned cookies. As he delved further, there was a pack of cigarettes and a few sheets of writing paper.
But there was something else that caught his eye. With trembling fingers, he picked up a small prayer card, which beared a picture of Mary with Jesus, as a young boy. He turned the card over and read the prayer.
I said a prayer for you today‚ and know God must have heard.
I felt the answer in my heart‚ although He spoke no words.
I didn't ask for wealth or fame - I hope you didn't mind.
I asked Him to send treasures of a far more lasting kind.
I asked that He'd be near you at the start of each new day.
To grant your health and blessings and friends to share your way.
I asked for happiness for you, in all things great and small.
But it was for His loving care, I prayed for most of all!
The card was signed Mama B.
The conman was completely lost for words. He stared at BA with a sort of dazed, hypnotic look in his eyes.
"I ain't got much, man," admitted BA. "But what I do have, well, half of it is yours, little brother."
Peck returned BA's humble words with a genuine, 24 carat gold smile. His whole face lit up with a gratitude and unpretentious sincerity that thawed the gruff exterior of the crotchety Sergeant's heart. Despite himself, he gave Peck one of his very rare, ear-to-ear grins.
Peck put the box down on his bunk. He then placed the prayer card carefully in his wallet, in an almost revered manner. Turning back to his precious package, he took out the tin of cookies, a sheet of writing paper and grabbed a pen. Having apparently forgotten all about his evening out, he sat down next to BA on his cot, eager to reply to BA's mama, straightaway. He opened up the tin of cookies and placed it between the two of them.
Neither of them spoke, but then, they didn't need to. There was no need for fancy words as the simple gesture of their actions spoke volumes to each other. It was a reluctant friendship built on misunderstandings and prejudice, but it would be one that they would both cherish forever.
Hannibal Smith looked up from his letter, watching the two men with mild curiosity. He hadn't expected his dubious pairing of the two men to bring them together in such a peculiar way. He was aware that BA still raised his eyebrows every now and then, at the antics of the wayward young lieutenant. But the aggressive, bad-tempered accusations and dark, scowling glares were now replaced with a protective, tolerant respect.
With a satisfied smirk playing on his lips, he thought to himself, "I just love it when a plan comes together!"
[Thanks for taking the time to read and for all the reviews. If you enjoyed it, keep your eyes peeled for one more story in this little BA trilogy called "Mind over Madness" - which will feature Howlin' Mad Murdock.]