Vigil

I'm so glad this building's been fixed up properly now. The floors don't squeak and I can move around to check on my boys without waking them. They all need their sleep so badly.

I only have three bedrooms and they wouldn't hear of me giving up mine. So Bosco, Hannibal and Face are all in the guest room together. Bosco's sprawled all over one bed. Face and Hannibal are sharing the other bed. Just from the way that they're laying there, you can tell this isn't the first time. They aren't scrunched up trying to keep to themselves, yet they aren't touching. That sort of ability only comes with time.

Easing the door back quietly, I move over to Bosco's old room. Everyone insisted that Baby needed the room to himself most. With him, I don't just look in, I go in and sit down by his bedside. If it wasn't for the cuts and bruising on his face, you'd swear it was a child sleeping here. Tossled hair and that gentle face of his.

I've never been in a war myself. God forbid that I ever am. But I know it's an ugly thing that does things to the people that have been in them. Hannibal and Face - well, I didn't know them before, so I can't say exactly how much different they are. But I'm a mother. I can look in Hannibal's eyes past the smile and see the weight he carries and saw how part of it lifted off of him when he was able to see all three of his men in the same room together. When I saw that? That's when I knew that Bosco had told me a little white lie. He wasn't the leader of the A-Team - Hannibal was. I just didn't know him well enough at first to be able to spot it. But he's the one that feels responsible for keeping them all together and safe.

Face? That child is as damaged as Baby is, but in a whole different direction. Instead of being open as a child, he's as closed as a book. No. Closed as a diary. The kind with a lock. You can look at the cover, but not the pages. Oh, I suppose the other three get glimpses, but most of the times you can tell he's putting on an act. He reminds me of a little boy that used to live down the hall. He'd come sniffing around whenever I baked cookies. Oh, the stories he told. His father was a fireman. His mother was a school teacher. Not a bit of it true. He thought he had to be someone else or people woulldn't like him. I'd almost be willing to bet that Face was like that as a child too. I would never ask him that though. He wears his pride like armor. Maybe someday he'll be comfortable enough around me to let it down. For now, at least he has the other boys. He still pretends with them, of course, but I've seen that armor slip a little around them when he didn't know anyone was looking.

My Bosco? He came back from the war gruff and growling. He pretends his hide is as thick as a rhino's, but I know better. He didn't used to be so flashy. So... well, mouthy. Whatever happened to him over there is still too tender and sore for him to talk to me about even now. I suppose he's got part of that same problem as Face. He throws out that he's the biggest, baddest and meanest - it makes folks back away. Most folks. I worried about him a lot until I saw just how close he and the others are. I'd heard the words 'brothers in arms' but they were just words until I saw the meaning behind them with these four.

Then there's Baby here. Murdock. Gentle soul that got crushed over there. Oh sure, they were all in the service, but he wasn't a fighter. Face has told me stories about him. Fistful of medals. No telling how many men are still breathing today because of the wounded he was able to fly out of bad situations. I don't think he's insane, but a bit crazy? Yes. But how could any caring man see death upclose on such a regular basis and not go a little crazy?

I get snapped out of my thoughts by a sound almost like a whimper. Looking over, I can see it in his face. Nightmare. I don't touch him yet. He was beat so much by those men, he might think it was one of them again. Instead, I just start speaking to him.

"Baby... it's alright. You got away from them. You're safe here with Momma."

I see it then. A sliver of those warm brown eyes of his as he sees me and then gives me a smile as big as any two-year old could manage. That's when I reach out and touch him. How little love has this child had that something so simple as a gentle touch fills him to near overflowing with happiness?

"You go back to sleep, sweetheart. This chair is so comfortable, I think I'm just going to stay in it tonight if you don't mind sharing the room with me."

He doesn't have to say a word. His expression says it all as his hand touches mine before his body drags him back to sleep.

I just get up long enough to get myself a blanket from the shelf. This really is a comfortable chair. Had it for years. I've spent many a night in it before when Scooter was little. I'd always stay by his side when he was sick. Now I've got another son to tend to. That's one good thing that's come out of the war. I've got a bigger family now. Including Hannibal and Face. And I wouldn't trade a one of them.