Disclaimer: I do not own, nor did I create, any of the A-team characters (main or support) nor do I own, nor did I create, any of the episodes. That credit is due to Stephen J. Cannell and his associates. Any familiar catch phrases also belong to the Cannell team.
Spoiler Alert: None required for this little one shot.
Author's Notes: please see additional disclaimers at end of this piece
Summary: An activity meant to be relaxing is anything but for one of the Team.
Not Always Relaxing: by LAGC
Their latest job in Mexico was completed and the Team was heading home. For once BA's "no fly rule" had won out. The airports had been too well guarded to utilize and ground transportation was out of the question. Therefore the A-team was on their way home via a luxury cruise liner. Face had somehow conjured up passage for all four of them. And not just simple cabins, but the The Imperial Suite aboard the Rising Star. Their plan was to debark the ship in the last port before San Diego. From there the Team would be able to regain access to the USA more easily than through the heavy Customs controls at the California port.
Hannibal was still in awe of what Face had pulled off this time. "He's even better than he was in Nam." the Colonel acknowledged to himself. "The Kid is pure magic."
Needless to say BA was thrilled to not be flying. Murdock was having a wonderful time pretending to be Captain Claw, complete with an inflated blue crab (named Chowdah) on his shoulder. Face was thoroughly enjoying the scantily clad scenery walking past him across the pool deck. Being honest with himself, Hannibal had to admit to also enjoying those same sights.
Suddenly Hannibal's thoughts were interrupted by BA bellowing, "FOOL! If you don't get that balloon crab outta my face I'm gonna turn it and YOU into a crab cake!"
"Aw BA, why are you always such a mean mudsucker? Enjoy some high sea hi-jinks." whined a petulant Murdock.
"NO! I ain't got no use for your hi-jinks or your jibber jabber!"
Then Face piped up, "Will you two PLEASE try to control yourselves. You're scaring off the possible lovely dinner companions floating around here."
Murdock said he was sorry, but BA just sneered as he plopped into a chaise lounger next to Hannibal.
"So what's next on the agenda?" Murdock asked.
"I'm heading to the gym in a few. I want to use the weight room." answered the Big Guy.
Face declared he was perfectly satisfied doing what he was doing prior to their noisy arrival.
Hannibal inquired if their Pilot had something in mind. To this Murdock smiled and wiggled a pamphlet at them. Testily Face snatched it away and glanced at it. It was a brochure for the ship's sauna spa room called Tropical Escape. It boasted three different sauna experiences, four sensory showers, a pink salt room, and a pool size hot tub overlooking the open ocean. Face raised a curious eyebrow and passed the pamphlet to Hannibal. Murdock began to plead for an afternoon in the spa. Face agreed fairly quickly but Hannibal was resistant. He gave in after Face pointed out that the Colonel was starting to burn so getting out of the sun was smart. Face also slyly pointed out that The Tropical Escape would protect against burning yet keep them "near bikini wearing ladies." BA was not interested since he was determined to hit the weights. He left saying he'd see them all at their assigned dinner table later that night.
Face and Hannibal followed Murdock off to Tropical Escape. A lovely receptionist greeted them. Her name tag revealed that she was Simone from Ireland. Face turned on his megawatt smile and within five minutes he had secured day passes for them. Simone showed them to the men's locker room and pointed out the entrance to the rainforest room. She left them, purring to Face that she wished her contract didn't have a clause prohibiting fraternizing with the guests.
The men went into the locker room to stow their magazines, and after a brief debate and direct order from the Colonel, Chowdah was also placed in their locker. The men donned the provided spa sandals and robes. Then they headed to the rainforest room.
Surprisingly the spa was empty except for a retired couple enjoying the warm stone chaise lounges. Murdock headed straight to the swimming hot tub. Face explored the space familiarizing himself with the different sensory showers and various saunas. By the time he circled back Hannibal was also enjoying the hot tub and chatting up a pretty brunette sporting a fire red bikini bikini, who had just arrived. Murdock had discovered the super jetted section of the hot pool and was thoroughly enjoying the thunderous bubbles. Face opted to try the salt room. He was able to enjoy the peace for about ten minutes until a soggy Murdock plopped down next to him
"Hey there Facial One. Enjoying getting salted up like French fries?" Murdock quipped as he intruded upon Face's solitude.
"Yes, just don't be putting any ketchup on me. Ok, Murdock?" Faceman retorted as he slid over to give his friend space on the smooth cool bench.
The two men quietly enjoyed the soothing and surprisingly invigorating salty air. Murdock wished aloud that the VA would install one because it would do wonders for his sinuses during allergy season. After about fifteen minutes Murdock was ready to move on. He and Face decided to try the steam sauna room.
On their way to it they passed Hannibal who was now relaxing on one of the heated stone chaise lounges. He was wrapped up in the issued robe and peacefully contemplating the view of the Pacific. Face noticed that the pretty brunette was MIA.
"All alone, Colonel?" taunted Face as he took a seat on the lounger next to his leader.
"For now, Lieutenant. Brandi will join me for after-dinner cocktails in the Starboard Lounge." Hannibal replied with a sly smile.
"Let's go try the steam sauna now!" chirped Murdock. Both Hannibal and Face glanced toward the steam obscured door of the wet sauna. Neither seemed too inclined to move.
"Come on, please, guys. Just for a little while." pleaded Murdock.
Realizing that sitting still was just not an option for his buddy, Face reluctantly rose from the warm stone, "Ok Murdock. I'll go in with you."
"You coming too, Colonel?" asked the bouncing Pilot.
"I suppose so, Captain. Just for a few minutes though I much prefer these loungers."
The three men entered the sauna, after Hannibal hung his robe on the hook outside. It was a very well designed space. The mosaic work simulated tropical foliage and flowers in multiple shades of green, blue, and yellows. Built in tiled benches lined the walls, each with its own spray faucet to access water for cooling splashes. In the center of the room the source of steam and heat was centered artistically in a reflecting fountain in which lovely blossoms were floating. The air held a delicate, unidentifiable, yet rejuvenating scent. Instrumental Asian inspired music was quietly playing.
They were the only passengers there so each took a separate seat on a bench. First though, Murdock couldn't resist splashing Face with water from the fountain. Hannibal sat looking toward the door while his men opted for benches directed toward Hannibal.
In very little time the sauna was working its magic on the teammates and they were "sweating out the impurities" as the saying goes. Face and Murdock were ensconced in a conversation about the benefits of cruising versus flying. When the discussion took a turn for the absurd, Face called over to Hannibal to be the voice of reason. His failure to respond caused Face to look up and say, "Hannibal, come on, help me out here."
That's when Face realized there was a problem. Hannibal's eyes were fixated on the door but were unfocused. He was sitting rigidly with his back pressed painfully against the wall. Face pressed his hand onto Murdock's arm which silenced the pilot.
"We have a situation, Buddy." Face said.
By this point Murdock was also seeing Hannibal's distress and he groaned, "Uh, oh."
"Hannibal? What's the problem? Maybe Murdock and I can help." Face gently asked as he approached his friend. "Hannibal?" he repeated but received no response.
Murdock tried, but met with the same results. Face reached out to touch Hannibal's shoulder, as soon as his hand made contact Hannibal seized it and pulled him down to eye level.
"Colonel, it's me. It's Faceman."
"Quiet, Lieutenant!" Hannibal commanded in a whispered hiss. "You know better than to speak aloud at night. Do you want to get dragged out?"
"Colonel, it's ok. No one is going to hurt us here." Face reasoned matching Hannibal's whisper.
"Face is right, Hannibal." Murdock calmly chimed in, flashing a nervous glance toward Face.
Rather suddenly, Hannibal grabbed both their shoulders and pushed them to the floor. He repeated his hissed order for silence. "They've already taken BA. QUIET, before they come for either one of you. Get to the back corners of this hut."
Not wanting to abruptly jar Hannibal back into reality, or to push him too far in his current state, they stepped back as if they were following orders.
"Murdock, you best go find BA and get him here pronto. If I can't talk Hannibal back, hearing and seeing the Big Guy might be the best thing."
"Alrighty, muchacho, but getting past the Colonel and out that door is going to be quite the challenge."
"I'm working on that." Face replied.
Just then a shadow of a sauna attendant appeared outside the doorway. She was there to restock the towel supply. This caused Hannibal to lunge toward Face and Murdock, basically he was using his body to shield his men.
"Hannibal, it's ok. It's just the daily delivery of our rations. The food is on the ground outside. Murdock is going to fetch it and get our water ration while he's out there." ad libbed Face as he seized this chance to get Murdock out of the room without alarming the Colonel any further.
Hannibal nodded his acceptance of this. Murdock scooted out immediately to go in search of BA, thankfully the gym was located just one deck directly below the spa. There was a direct stairway between the two facilities.
"Colonel, are you listening to me?" Face asked as Murdock exited. "You need to listen and believe me, ok?" Face worked his way around until he and Hannibal were staring at each other's eyes. "Hannibal, you need to stand down. Colonel we are perfectly safe here."
"Just because we aren't guarded right now doesn't mean we are safe, Lieutenant. BA isn't here, that means he's with them."
"Hannibal. BA is at the gym. We are on a cruise ship sailing home to California."
"No. No. That can't be correct, Face. Feel this heat and humidity? This is the jungle."
"Hannibal, we are on a ship. We are not in Nam. Look at what you and I are wearing. We have on swim trunks not our uniforms."
Hannibal stopped glaring at the door and took a quick look at his and Face's attire. Confusion flashed through his eyes.
"No, we are surrounded by the flora. I can hear a stream."
"Hannibal, look at me. I swear we are safe. We are on a ship. What you're seeing is simply decoration. You're hearing the fountain that is behind me." Face tried to reassure his commander.
Looking toward the door Hannibal inquired, "Why isn't Murdock back yet? He's been gone too long to just be getting our rations."
"Colonel. Murdock is fine. He's getting BA." Face said touching Hannibal's chin to make sure to maintain eye contact with him. "Why don't we sit back on the bench. This tile floor is slippery."
"When did they tile our floor? What happened to the dirt?" Hannibal asked as he let Face lead him to the nearest bench, conveniently not opposite the door. Face snatched a wash cloth from the supply nook and doused it with cool faucet water. He then gently placed the cloth across the back of Hannibal's neck.
"This bench is much more comfortable, isn't it Colonel? Having the tap water right here is awesome too." Face said in an effort to guide Hannibal to focus on their reality, not the memories hijacking his mind. Again Face saw the confusion in Hannibal's eyes as Then and Now did battle for control.
"I'm sure Murdock and BA will be here any minute. Then we can all go back to our suite, shower, and get dressed for dinner." Face kept talking, trying to anchor Hannibal in the present. "You have to look extra sharp. Remember you made a date with Brandi for tonight."
Face heard the spa door fly open and then BA's booming, yet surprisingly controlled, voice saying, "Look, Little Mama, this is an emergency. I will buy my day pass once we help our friend. He's in a bad way right now."
"What emergency? No one has alerted us to any emergency." replied the flustered spa attendant.
"BA, Face and Hannibal are in that sauna. Go in and I'll finish helping Sandi understand." said Murdock, as he read the girl's name tag.
"Alright, sounds good." BA responded as he cautiously pulled open the sauna door. Face waved him over as he entered.
"See, Colonel. BA is right here. Still in his work out clothes. Murdock is just outside talking to the spa staff." Face soothingly said.
"Yeah, Hannibal, I'm right here. I was just downstairs lifting weights, Man. That's all. Gotta keep my muscles up after all."
Hannibal locked his laser gaze onto his Sergeant. Then he reached out to him. He looked back and forth between BA and Face. Murdock entered. A subtle nod let them know he had squared things with the staff.
"Captain?" summoned Hannibal in a tired voice.
"Yes, Hannibal. Right here, Sir, with the Big Guy and Faceman. Are you feeling better yet?"
Hannibal again peered at his men, gathered around him. His eyes softened as his mind recognized the reality of their clothing, the tile work, and the fountain. His team watched with relief as his body relaxed and he stood up.
"Hannibal. You back with us, Man." BA kindly yet bluntly asked.
"Yes, BA. I'm here back aboard the Rising Star. Thanks, guys." he replied, shaking the tension out of his shoulders.
"Hannibal, why don't we get out of this sauna." Face suggested wearily. His teammate's readily agreed.
"Face, that's a stellar idea." Hannibal praised.
The men left the sauna, donned robes, and left Tropical Escape. Sandi, the spa girl, had gathered their personal stuff from the locker. It was waiting in a neat pile by the exit. Murdock winked a thank-you to her as they walked out.
Back in their suite they held a team vote. 4 to 0 in favor of never entering a steam sauna ever again.
Murdock cleverly observed, "Well, they aren't always relaxing after all."
Yes, please excuse my "geek-ness" but I couldn't resist.
Credit where Credit is Due and all that ...
The name I used for the ship- "The Rising Star" is the name of the luxury liner spaceship in Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)
The name of Murdock's inflatable crab - Chowdah- was inspired by the cartoon that Dwight Schultz worked on titled - "Chowder" (2007 -2010)