A/N: This is a short written in response to a prompt on ATSB several months ago. I just realized I never posted it here. It is loosely related to the background story alluded to in Fatal Recall. I've been referring to the 'universe' of the story as Decent Into Darkness – I think the melodrama of the name is growing on me ;) Related stories include Shuai-Jan Sprouts Wings and Falling in Love with a Lie, both of which are Vietnam-era stories. This particular short vignette is set approximately 2 years after then 'end' of the war for the Team.
I don't own the A-Team, and make no money from this.
Dark and Stormy
"It was a dark and stormy night . . ." Murdock's Vincent Price voice was spot on.
Face threw a marshmallow at him. "Give it a rest, Murdock."
The handsome con man was less than thrilled with the camp out, but it had been Murdock's birthday request, and none of them was willing to turn him down. Besides, given his claustrophobic accommodations at the VA, Face couldn't begrudge his friend a night or two in the wide open space of the Los Padres National Forest.
"Ah, c'mon, scary stories are part of the whole camp out tradition, right big guy?" Murdock turned to BA to plead his case, and Face snickered. BA's responding growl indicated there would be no support from that corner.
"Colonel?" Murdock's voice was plaintive.
"Right, Captain!" Hannibal's voice carried from over near the van.
Murdock's grin returned, wide and almost manic. "It was a dark and stormy night, and the brave band of soldiers huddled around the campfire for warmth."
"There's a full moon, so it isn't that dark, and it is definitely not stormy," Face said. "And the only reason we lit a camp fire is because you wanted s'mores."
"It's my story, and I say it's dark and stormy." Murdock crossed his arms and pouted. "Besides, there's nothing menacing about 'clear and balmy' – we're talking a need for ambiance here, Face. And Vincent just don't do clear and balmy."
"May I continue? So it was a dark and stormy night, yada, yada, when out of the darkness . . ." Murdock pursed his lips, then a slow smile appeared as he continued, "a mysterious woman appeared, her sky-blue eyes seeking out the tall, handsome pilot of the group . . ."
Face's jaw clenched involuntarily and his voice sounded tense to his own ears. "Is this a scary story or a love story?"
"A scary love story . . ." Murdock was staring into the fire, a disturbing smile frozen on his face.
"Hey, crazy man, want another s'more?" BA's voice held a hint of alarm.
It was several tense seconds later that Murdock shook out of his trance. He flashed BA a tight smile. "Naw, big guy, I've had enough sugar." He stood abruptly. "I'm gonna take a walk."
Face started. "Want some company?"
"No!" Murdock flashed Face a guilty smile. "Uh, I just want a little time alone, Face. I'll be alright."
As Murdock disappeared into the darkness, Face met BA's gaze over the fire. "That was sudden."
"Yeah, man. But I knew as soon as he said 'sky-blue eyes' we was in trouble."
Face sighed. "Guess we should be grateful. It was a pretty mild reaction. He's getting better."
Hannibal walked into the circle of the firelight holding a platter of unwrapped hohos stacked into a pyramid with a lit candle on the top and humming 'happy birthday to you.'
He stopped short. "Where'd Murdock go?"
"Syd crashed the party, Hannibal. Murdock took a walk to chill."
"Damn." Hannibal blew out the candle, and set the platter down on the cooler. His icy eyes reflected a concern that Face knew they all felt. "Is he Ok?"
"What do you think?" Face grimaced at the snide tone. He couldn't help it – aside from being a totally inane question, it was a stupid one. Murdock hadn't been ok since the end of the war.
Hannibal finally sat down, but he continued to glance over his shoulder periodically, peering into the darkness. Face could tell he wanted to go check on Murdock. It was a fine line they tread with him: giving him enough space to deal, but not so much that he got lost. Face knew instinctively that Murdock still needed to be alone. He handed Hannibal a cigar and lit it, hoping to deter him from following too soon.
Hannibal released a stream of smoke with a hiss. "It's been two years. I keep hoping he'll let her go . . . let it all go. We lost a lot of friends over there."
Face picked up a stick and poked at the coals of the fire. "Friends, yeah. Soul mates, not so many. Besides, can you blame him? Syd always seemed so indestructible. Sometimes I have trouble believing she's gone, myself."
"Don't you start," Hannibal said. "You checked yourself."
"Yeah, and officially she died in the bombing that day. But no memorial service. Nothing but a barely-marked grave in a Chicago city cemetery . . ."
"Drop it, Lieutenant. Sydney's dead. It doesn't matter to her anymore." Hannibal sounded irritated.
"Li'l sister wouldn't have wanted a fuss anyway, Face. You know that." BA's tone was gentler.
"She deserved better. They both did." Face stood up and whipped the stick into the fire, sending up a burst of sparks.
Hannibal's irritation seemed to have disappeared with the sparks, and when he spoke his voice was carefully soothing. "We all did, Face."
"Yeah, we all did." He took a deep breath. "I'm gonna go check on him."
He slipped into the woods, following his friend into the darkness. Hannibal and BA let him go without a word. They all recognized early on that Face had the best feel for when Murdock needed to be alone . . . and when he didn't. Face wouldn't bother him, yet. He just needed to reassure himself that his friend was alright.
Face had lost one of his best friends to the war, and he was going to make damn sure he didn't lose the other.