an A-Team fan fic by Tiffany
Summary: UFOs want to hire the A-Team? Or use them? The Team stops at a small town for a rest and get caught up in the mysterious visitations.
Category: Mystery flavored with humor and a dash of the other-worldly.
Historian's Note: Sometime pre season 1.
Content Warnings: None
Notes: Thanks to my beta's: Sherry, the spellcheck-proof word checker; Alison, the character advisor; and Murdock's CrazyLady, the one person cheering team.
This was something I started, had a long haitus, finished, posted on the lists but somehow managed to neglect finishing posting here. Late, but I'm correcting that oversight.
…..Amanda: I felt like when you and your friends first showed up... I thought we were experiencing some kind of close encounter... I keep wondering if you're going to climb back up into your saucer and fly away.
…..Face: (with mock pretentiousness) I promise that won't happen till our work here is done.
- Water, Water Everywhere
A * A * A * A
by Tiffany May Harrsch
Day One (half):
The Middle of Nowhere
"When Hannibal said let's get out of town, I don't think he meant to go to the middle of nowhere, BA," Murdock groused. He took off his baseball cap to wipe his forehead with the back of his hand, then used the cap to fan himself.
No one was in a particularly good mood. It had been a long, hot, boring drive through the Nevada desert. They had finished a less than adventuresome mission in another nowhere town that morning and were now heading back to California…. They hoped.
"Man said he wanted to leave by a different route than how we came in. This was the only other road, so I took it!" BA hollered defensively.
Trouble was, they couldn't find the road on any maps, so they had no idea if they were even headed toward a main highway or a dead end. They had seen no sign of life since they left civilization way too early that morning. Not even a rest stop where they could answer nature in private.
"Can you two keep it down?" Hannibal asked from his accustomed spot in the passenger seat. "I'm trying to sleep."
"It's too hot to sleep," Murdock argued.
The sun had beat at them mercilessly. Miles of white salt flats reflected it back at them from below. The intermittent stretches of desert brown did little to alleviate the effect. It wasn't even good enough to keep the occasional scrub brush or cactus looking healthy. The air conditioner, set as high as it would go, couldn't sweep the heat away, nor the smell of four sweating bodies. The new twilight was only now starting to ease the pressure of heat.
Murdock put his cap on, sat back and crossed his arms. "Even Billy can't get comfortable," he muttered.
"Doncha start, fool," BA warned.
"Aw, you know Hannibal," Face said, jumping in before they could start another argument. "He could sleep through a blizzard or on the face of the sun, if he had a mind to."
"And I suggest you guys do the same," Hannibal said. "We could be out here a while."
Murdock snorted and recrossed his arms the other way around. Face squirmed in his chair and tried to find a slightly less irritating position.
Diversion hadn't come easily during the drive. There was an on-again, off-again radio station that specialized in political talk. It started a four-way argument at about noon when they stopped to stretch and switch drivers. They tried the station that played music, it was sung in a language none of them recognized. That only got Murdock in trouble when he used the van as a musical instrument to accompany the singing. There was the static of stations that came tantalizingly near to reception to torture them. Murdock did his bit by swearing he could hear what was going on with two of them. They tried talking sporadically. Sometimes knowing each other so well put a damper on their best efforts at conversation. It had been late in the afternoon when Murdock's antics finally got on everybody's nerves, even his own. Which left the hum of a straining air conditioner and the rumble of the motor to lull them to sleep.
Most of them.
"What?" BA blinked at the windshield, surprised to find the dirt and gravel road coming to an end. No, not coming to an end, coming to an edge. "Whoa!" He jerked the steering wheel to one side to keep the van on the road.
"If you're going to sleep, let me drive," Murdock said, trying unsuccessfully to keep his voice down.
"No fool's gonna drive my van!"
"BA, maybe we should trade places," Hannibal offered.
BA shook his head. Though his heart had slowed back down, the close call put enough adrenaline in his system to keep him up for a while. "I'm awake now."
"We all are, now," Face muttered. "How long do you figure before we find someplace to stock up. We didn't bring enough food for a two way trip, and we didn't get a chance to get supplies before we left."
"I don't know," BA admitted grumpily. "But we better find someplace soon or we're gonna be stuck out here. We're runnin' outta gas."
"Wonderful," Murdock grumbled and slouched further in his chair.
"I think I know just the place." Hannibal's voice was far too chipper.
"You do?" Face asked warily.
"Yep. Marge's Diner."
"You mean you know where we are?" Face demanded angrily.
"Not a clue," Hannibal said cheerily, lighting a cigar.
A moment of silence was broken by Face sighing. He knew there was an easy answer, but he had to know anyway. "How do you know there's a Marge's Diner around?"
Face could positively hear Hannibal grin around the cigar. "Easy kid. I just read the sign. 'Marge's Diner Next Exit'. Had a cute little flying saucer next to it."
This perked Murdock up. "Flying saucer? As in UFOs?"
"Looked like it."
"Did you see the town's name, Colonel?"
"Sorry, I didn't catch it," Hannibal said just as the headlights lit up the reflectors of the welcome sign.
Welcome to Merlott
Home of the Benevolent UFOs
Marge's Diner was just off an exit better paved than the road they had been following all day. It was a combination diner, gas and diesel station, truck stop and gift shop. The large parking lot and gas station was well paved. Even though only half the lamps were on, it was surprisingly well lit. Stargazing in the immediate vicinity would be a difficult venture.
The restaurant itself was a single story building that could easily have been a warehouse with a wall of windows. Although half the building was darkened, the windows were lit with gaudy shapes of flying saucers, stars and half moons. Half the shapes blinked, and not all in the same rhythm. Marge's Diner would have fit in well in Reno, and seemed terribly out of place out in the middle of nowhere.
BA pulled up to the gas station. Face had the sliding door open before the van quite rolled to a stop. They were all becoming claustrophobic.
Marge's Diner played host to a full-service station. A middle-aged attendant was at the pumps before BA could follow the rush to exit the van.
"Fill 'er up?" The man's clean coverall's claimed he was named Terry.
Terry started toward the gas cap. "Windows and oil?"
"Sure." Ordinarily, BA would do all of the servicing on the van himself. But he was tired, he was hungry, and he wanted to be sitting on anything other than a car seat.
"You can go on in with your friends. When I'm finished, I'll park it and bring in the keys and bill for ya."
BA narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the man.
"I know, I know," Terry said before BA could speak. "It's a little different, but it's the way we do things around here. We're a long ways from everywhere, and town council likes everyone to be treated like royal guests. Gets people to come back. Don't need to worry. You can see everything I'm doing from anywhere you sit."
BA glanced back at the wall of windows and his already seated companions, then back at the smiling attendant. It was a measure of how exhausted he was that he gave in to the peculiar ministrations.
"If I see anythin' funny.…" BA left off warningly.
Terry held one hand up, the other being occupied by the pump, and grinned. "Hey, no funny business here."
"Crazy town," BA muttered to himself as he headed toward the diner. He noticed Hannibal chose a booth near the door. Face sat with his head in his hands. Murdock had his back to the window and was gesturing wildly. BA couldn't help the grin. "The fool'll fit right in."
BA wiped the smile from his face before entering. Wouldn't do to let Murdock see he was amused. He pushed the door open and nearly jumped out of his skin at the low noise. Instead of the bells that commonly graced shop doors all over the country, this one had a siren. It sounded like someone had tried to turn a police siren into an eerie Halloweenish noisemaker. At least it was soft in keeping with normal bells.
"Gotcha BA!" Murdock laughed.
BA glared up at the usual spot but couldn't find the source of the noise. Stymied, he instead turned his glare toward a living target. Unfortunately it didn't faze Murdock a bit.
"Shut up, fool," he growled as he took the open space next to Hannibal. He was pleased to find a glass of milk marking his spot.
"You think you jumped?" Murdock went on as if BA hadn't said a word. "You should've seen the Colonel. I swear he looked around like he thought Lynch was going to pop out of every corner."
"You never know. Could have been a broken siren," Hannibal said.
"'Course it takes more than that to wake up sleeping beauty here." Murdock patted Face's slumped shoulder. "Like maybe that pretty lady over there," Murdock added in a stage whisper.
"Hmm?" Face responded. He opened his eyes long enough to give the restaurant a quick look around. It set the other three into a fit of laughter. Face threw them a dirty look before returning his head to his hands.
The diner seemed fairly busy for such an out of the way place. At the far end of the counter three aging men in leather biker garb sat hunched in on themselves, talking in low tones. On one of the two sets of booths sticking out from the far wall sat the pretty lady Murdock had mentioned plus a man she was obviously attached to. They were alternating kissing and murmuring to each other. Stretched on the booth on the other side of the table was a little girl, oblivious to the world at large.
An older waitress stood behind the counter, wiping it down near the biker men more times than was strictly necessary. She smiled then laughed outright at one of the jokes they told. Behind her could be heard various kitchen noises, including the clinking of glasses and the banging of pots and pans. It sounded like someone was not very happy being there and was determined to let all know about it. No one paid the noise any mind.
Hannibal, Murdock and BA looked up at the siren noise of Terry entering the diner, while Face was too asleep to notice. The waitress glanced his way then proceeded to ignore him. The woman in the far booth watched him turn to the Team and sighed.
"Here's your keys and receipt," Terry said, setting both on the table in front of BA. "You can pay it with your dinner bill."
"It's breakfast," Murdock corrected, giving Terry one of his half smiles.
"Sure," the attendant said with a shrug. He addressed BA again. "Van's right there." He nodded out the window toward the side parking lot. There were no spots directly in front of the restaurant as BA would have preferred. But he could see the van without any trouble. It was on this side of a semi.
"If ya need anything else, just holler."
"How about a motel?" Hannibal spoke up before Terry could turn away.
"About three miles that way, on your right." He pointed down the darkened road. "Don't turn down any of the roads on the left until you hit Main Street. They'll just lead you to fences telling you you're too close to military property and not to go any further. Place has been abandoned for years, but if I catch you trespassing, I'll still have to report you to the sheriff."
For some reason, this warning earned a tired chuckle from those listening in. Hannibal wondered if he missed the punch-line for some old joke.
"It'd be easier on you folks if you left town from the other side," he went on as if by rote. "Most people get lost trying to find the highway from this end. Just follow Main Street down. The exit's about half a mile from Marge's Diner."
"We're in Marge's Diner."
"One on either side of town on the outskirts." Terry shrugged at the bemused faces and turned away.
"Crazy place," BA muttered.
"I don't know," Murdock said, "I kinda like it."
Murdock stuck his tongue out in response to the barb. BA growled back. Murdock slouched against the window and pouted. Hannibal tried very hard not to chuckle at their antics; it would only make BA madder. He settled for a grin and people watching to keep himself occupied.
Terry stopped at the booth with the couple and held out a set of keys. "Here you go, Hank. All filled up. Everything's in fine condition. Sure you want to do this?"
Hank smiled sadly up at the attendant. "No choice. Gotta earn a living somehow."
Terry leaned against the table. "Yes, but…." He inclined his head toward the sleeping girl.
Hank smiled at the lady sitting with him, and gestured with one hand at the diner. "She won't be alone. And she won't be until we're out of here."
Terry frowned. "You find anyplace yet?" he asked the lady.
She looked at her fingers. "Not yet. But I have until Hank finishes this run."
"Don't matter," Hank said, his voice rising a bit. "If a town like this isn't safe for a kid, no place is."
Hank stood hastily, bumping a knee in the process. He turned to the lady, rubbing his knee absently. "Sorry," he said, getting his voice under control. "It's just…." He couldn't finish whatever he was about to say.
He sighed. "I gotta go now. Love ya." He leaned over to give her one more kiss. He shooed Terry aside so he could get in to gently ruffle the hair of the little girl. "See you, kiddo." He kissed her forehead.
Hank straightened and waved at the waitress behind the counter. "Later, Sylvie."
"See ya, Hank."
"Later, Hank," one of the biker men said. He was echoed by one of his companions. The third gave him a thumbs up.
The annoying sirens played as Hank pulled open the door.
"Hey, Hank, wait up!" came a shout from the kitchen.
Hank stopped and leaned against the open door.
A fellow with a mustache and goatee, garbed in dingy white, hustled out from the kitchen. He carried a stack of three to-go containers and an insulated cup around the counter. As tall as Murdock, but not quite so thin, he was hardly the stereotypical grease chef.
"A little something for the road," he said sheepishly, offering the containers to Hank. "In honor of your last run and all."
Hank gave him a melancholy smile. "Thanks, Jess. I appreciate it."
Jess ducked his head, embarrassed. He hurried back toward the counter and the kitchen. The clashing and banging never let up once during the exchange.
Terry waited till Hank left to call to the biker men. "Hey, Joe Bob, Billy Joe."
'Joe Bob?' Murdock mouthed, doing a terrific job at channeling Face. Hannibal shrugged.
Two of them turned around. "Catch!" Terry warned before tossing two sets of keys toward the men. One snatched the keys out of the air without problem. The other fumbled but managed to catch his before they hit the floor.
"All souped up and ready to go whenever you are, my friends."
"Not a problem. Just watch the skies when you zoom outta here."
"In this town," said the spokesman of the biker group, "always." The silent one nodded vigorously.
Jess popped his head out of the kitchen door. "Lucy. Orders up."
The lady at the booth sighed wearily. "I'm coming, Jess."
Lucy stood, revealing the same uniform the waitress behind the counter wore. She approached their table, expertly balancing three full plates on her left arm.
"Who had the steak and eggs?" she asked, slightly waving the plate she held in her right hand.
"I do," Hannibal said.
"That's me," Murdock said cheerfully.
"The double-decker with extra everything?"
BA eyed the hamburger with delight. That ought to fill him up just fine. He glanced at the others to make sure it was what they had ordered for him before claiming it.
"Then the Ruben must be yours," she said to the oblivious Face. His elbows were in the way of the plate.
"Hey, man, wake up." Faintly embarrassed for him, BA kicked Face under the table.
"Yeah, Face," Murdock chimed in. "Elbows off the table." He proceeded to pull the nearest elbow.
Face caught himself before his head, deprived of one of its props, could hit the table. He sat back and straightened up slightly.
"Huh?" he asked blearily, still not quite with them.
"Dinner's here," Murdock said, elbowing Face in the side until he was up.
Lucy tried valiantly to stifle her grin as she put the plate down in the newly opened up space. "Is there anything else I can get you gentlemen?" She couldn't quite swallow the giggle.
"More juice for me, please," Murdock said. "And another milk for the big guy there. In the tallest glass you have." He glanced at BA, already digging into the hamburger. "Better make that two."
"Sure. And extra napkins, I'd wager." The hamburger was dripping big time.
BA nodded, a bit sheepish at having his mouth full. "Thanks," Murdock said for him.
Murdock, equally famished, prepared to dig into his pancakes. "Ooh, would ya look at this?"
"What?" asked a still bleary eyed Face.
Murdock turned the plate so he could see. "They're shaped like flying saucers. Look, even the whipped cream outlines the curves."
Delighted at the new way to play with his food, Murdock cut the pancakes along the seams, then into more manageable pieces. He sandwiched some whipped cream between two pieces before spearing it.
"I wonder how they did that," he said before putting the bite full in his mouth.
"Huge cookie cutters?" Face offered. He decided not to mention the saucer shape pressed into the toasted bread of his sandwich. He could just see Murdock getting the idea to save the slice for a souvenir or something.
He was dismayed, but not surprised, to find Murdock 'flying' the next forkful of pancake and whipped cream toward his mouth, complete with a decent imitation of the diner's door siren.
"Murdock…." Face groaned.
"What?" Murdock asked innocently. If Murdock was aware of the looks he garnered from the waitress behind the counter and one of biker guys, he didn't show any sign of it.
Lucy returned with their drinks and extra napkins and a raised brow. Face shook his head slightly, hoping she wouldn't ask. Thankfully, she didn't.
"Lucy," Jess called over the racket from the kitchen. "Order's up."
Shaking her head, Lucy retrieved the orders. She set them both down at her booth and joined Terry in his dinner.
Face glanced back at the pretty waitress. She was trying not to look their way. He turned and looked at Murdock.
Murdock looked from BA to Face and back. "What?" he asked again.
"Shut up and eat your supper, fool," BA commanded. He pointed a mayonnaise smeared finger at him warningly. "And no more sound effects."
Unfazed, Murdock went on with his late night breakfast. Thankfully, without the sound effects. But not in silence.
"Don't look now, but it looks like you've got a fan club."
Face disobeyed orders and looked anyway. "Who?"
"Not you this time, Facey. The Colonel." Murdock waggled his brows at Hannibal. Hannibal raised his brows back.
Face noticed the who - the waitress behind the counter. Though still chatting with the biker guys, she kept looking their direction and winking. If Face hadn't seen the same moves before, he would have thought the lady had a twitch.
Face hid a smile behind his sandwich. Murdock apparently misunderstood the gesture.
"Ah, don't feel bad, Faceguy. She's not your type anyway. A little too matronly, if you know what I mean."
Meaning 'old', Face mentally translated. She was easily Hannibal's age, maybe a bit older. She was well rounded in a not unpleasant sort of way. All her teeth were there when she smiled. But somehow he doubted she was Hannibal's type.
Unintentionally, Face pictured Hannibal with her. The image was so incongruous with what he knew of Hannibal that he had to laugh. He almost choked on his food in the process.
"You okay?" Murdock patted his back.
"Fine, fine," Face managed between coughs.
"Leave him alone, fool," BA grumbled, placing the blame for the situation on his usual suspect. "Let the man eat in peace."
"It's okay, BA," Face assured him.
"It's not okay," BA said, clearly annoyed. "We can't even go out ta eat without this fool drawin' attention."
"Keep it down, BA," Hannibal said. "Now it's you who's drawing attention."
BA glanced at the 'matronly' waitress, then at Lucy in her booth. Both were looking his way. He narrowed his eyes at Murdock and grumbled into his hamburger.
"You think we can stop by one of the gift shops before we leave, tomorrow?" Murdock pushed his plate, nearly scraped clean, away from him.
Face looked at his half-finished Ruben, at Hannibal still working on his steak. Even BA hadn't finished yet. He had to wonder how Murdock could demolish his meal so quickly and still have time to talk.
"I want to look at the flying saucer stuff. Maybe pick up an 'I've been abducted' T-shirt or something."
"You don't honestly believe in all that stuff, do you?" Face chuckled.
BA caught up with Murdock in the food demolition race. He glowered at Face and Murdock both over his last glass of milk.
"Sure I do. I've seen one, you know," Murdock added, sounding unusually serious.
"Seen one what?"
"When?" Face asked, genuinely curious.
"Once," he hedged, "when I was flying."
"With the Thunderbirds?"
Murdock shook his head, his eyes directed at his empty plate. "When we were in 'Nam," he said quietly.
Hannibal looked up, and BA flinched slightly. They didn't talk about the war much, Murdock least of all. There were too many bad memories, too many things they would prefer to forget. It didn't help that being on the wrong side of the law, as it were, was a constant reminder of one of those things. Aside from using their ranks in conversation, and that mostly between Murdock and Hannibal, they had an unspoken agreement not to remind each other of the more unpleasant times of their lives.
"No such thing as flyin' saucers." Face was sure BA's assertion was more to break the suddenly dampened mood than because of any disbelief.
"Sure there are, BA They just don't go as far as a Frisbees," Murdock explained, agreeing to play along. "And they usually break when they land."
"Remind me to only get you plastic dishes," Face teased.
"Naw, all they do is clatter. Now porcelain's light, it'd make more for a good long flight. And a nice satisfying shatter when it lands."
Lucy returned to pick up plates and offer dessert.
"We'll pass, thank you. Right now beds are more appetizing," Hannibal said, eyeing Murdock's wide yawn and BA's eye rubbing.
"There are rooms a few miles down the main road. If you see the other Marge's, you've gone too far," Lucy added with a grin. It was apparently a local joke.
"Good night, then." She placed the bill on the table.
"Night." Hannibal glanced over the bill before handing it to BA. "We'll wait for you in the van."
BA mumbled something but didn't protest.
"Don't let the UFOs get ya," Terry called as they reached the door. One of the dishes Lucy carried slipped to the floor. "Sorry, Lucy," Terry said, sounding stricken.
The Team looked at each other, wondering what that was all about.
Face flinched at the annoying siren they were forced to activate as they left. Murdock immediately imitated it, only not quite as high pitched.
"Pretty good, Captain," Hannibal commended.
"Thank you, Colonel."
"We're going to have to visit one of the stores tomorrow, Murdock," Hannibal said around his cigar. "Might as well be one of the souvenir shops. We're going to need a map to find our way out of here."
A Strange Encounter
"I don't like being this close to a military base."
"It's not even active, BA," Hannibal said.
"Don't matter man," BA grumbled. "Still makes me nervous."
Hannibal flashed one of his smiles at BA's admission. Truth be told, the proximity to an "enemy's" location, even an empty one, made Hannibal wary as well.
"It's not the base that's making you nervous, BA," Murdock said with a loud yawn. "It's wondering if we're gonna make it to the motel before we all fall asleep."
"Going to make it that far Murdock?" Hannibal asked, smiling.
"Sure, Colonel. But as soon as my head hits that lovely bed…."
"Didn't catch a cat nap, I take it."
"I can't sleep when it's that hot," Murdock whined.
"If I didn't know better, Captain, I'd say the VA was making you soft on us," Hannibal teased.
"Might be," Murdock admitted grumpily, slouching back in his chair. "Least it's cooling down now," he mumbled, forever trying to see the bright side of things.
"True." The air conditioner wasn't up as high as it had been for most of the day.
"Even Billy's able to take a dog nap," Murdock added.
"Murdock," Face groaned, dreading hearing him and BA start up again so late.
Amazingly, BA didn't say anything.
"Might be able to sleep by the time we get to the motel," Murdock went on, seeming to ignore Face, though he didn't push mentioning his invisible dog. "When are we getting to the motel, anyway?"
"Still have about two miles to go, if their directions are good," Hannibal said.
Murdock sighed. There was silence in the van for all of two seconds.
"This is perfect," Murdock commented, sounding decidedly more chipper.
A pause filled the air before Face decided to hazard the obvious question. "What's perfect?"
"This! It's UFO territory. Perfect grounds for them to buzz some poor, unsuspecting, solitary travelers."
"There ain't no UFOs," BA protested.
"Think about it BA," Murdock continued undaunted. "It's a nice dark night. No clouds in the sky. No one around for miles in any direction. The only vehicle on a lonely road. All alone in the night, no one can hear you scream," Murdock said, mixing phrases that would one day be part of pop culture.
The other three were quiet, unwittingly falling into Murdock's spell.
Murdock went on, his voice low as if telling a camp fire story. "Then the travelers see a flash. Surely it's just a falling star. But then the car stalls. That's when they like to pop up and say 'BOO!'" This last was shouted, actually causing his companions, much to their chagrin, to jump.
"Shut up, fool," BA said, only half annoyed.
"Nice, Murdock," Hannibal admitted with a grin.
Face just chuckled and shook his head.
Murdock sat back, looking mighty pleased with himself.
There was a short, companionable silence.
Murdock interrupted it with another whine. "Are we there, yet?"
"I have to agree this is a long three miles," Hannibal said.
"Man we past three miles two miles back."
"You get us lost again, big guy?" Murdock teased tiredly
"I ain't lost!"
"Well, we'll know we've gone too far if we see another Marge's Diner." Hannibal shook his head. "Kooky town."
"I'll say," Face agreed.
"What was that?" Hannibal asked, sitting a bit straighter.
BA risked a quick glance over. "What?"
Hannibal squinted out the window. "I thought I saw something streak by."
"Maybe Murdock's UFOs," Face said.
"I'm serious guys." Hannibal's tone made the others more attentive to their surroundings.
Then the motor cut out.
"Aw, man!" BA slapped the steering wheel. He waited for the van to roll to a stop before trying the ignition again. Nothing. Not even the sound of a strangled turnover.
"It's happening," Murdock said quietly, awestruck and apprehensive at the same time.
"What is?" Face asked nervously.
Any reply Murdock might have made was cut off by a buzzing drone, followed quickly by a blinding flash of light.
The van's motor spontaneously cut in, rumbling loudly in the desert silence.
"What was that!" BA shouted, rubbing his eyes with one hand and gripping the steering wheel with the other.
"That," Murdock said in a subdued tone, "was a UFO, big guy."
"Did anyone make it out?" Hannibal asked the van at large.
"Are you kidding?" Face blinked hard and looked in the general direction of the front of the van. "All I'm seeing are spots."
"Told you they like to buzz strangers," Murdock muttered to no one in particular.
"Everyone all right?" Hannibal asked, surveying them with watering eyes.
"Soon as my eyes stop burnin', man."
"Same as BA," Face put in, wiping at his.
Murdock grunted noncommittally. He still had his eyes closed, not trying to fight the spots. "Can we get out of here now?"