View Full Version : An A-team Carol

12-23-2016, 10:01 AM
An A-team Carol

Author's note:
This is a collaboration between GreyGregory14 (LudlumsDaughter14) and Nancepance (Nance). A little something for the holidays.
Disclaimer: We don't own the A-team or any of it's characters.
Publishing rights: Both Nancepance and GreyGregory14 retain the right to republish this story including the pieces written by the other writer.

Please enjoy and Merry Christmas!

The first stave - Nancepance

It's Christmas eve and snow blankets the countryside creating a magical atmosphere. The last rays of the winter sun caress the still whiteness and the lonely squad car travelling along the icy road. Inside two men are sitting. One, whose face is marked by a deep scowl and a dark skinned young man who seems like he'd rather be somewhere else. The young man reaches for the car heater, but has his hand sharply slapped away by the older man.
"Keep your hands on the wheel Crane." The man says bitingly. "I'm not letting them get away again."
"But Colonel Decker sir," the young man starts hesitantly "My hands are freezing. I almost can't feel the steering wheel."
"You had the heater on an hour ago, Captain." Decker scathingly looks at his driver. "Catch the A-team, that'll make you feel warm!"
Captain Crane looks like he wants to say something but decides against it. "Yes sir."

They are driving in total silence. The radio had been on for a short while, but the Christmas songs and ads for various charities has his hackles rising. If people just got jobs like they're supposed to, there wouldn't be any need for any of the damn charities! With an angry flick of his wrist he'd turned the blasted thing off. They are startled out of their reverie by the car phone ringing. "Decker… Yes, put him through…" Crane watches his CO from the corner of his eye. It had seemed impossible for the scowl on the colonel's face to get any deeper, but it did. "Charlie… No, I won't be there for Christmas… Because unlike you lazy youths, I'm busy working!... I don't care what your wife thinks… uhuh… Bye…" Decker slams down the phone and crosses his arms. Smith had once again escaped from his clutches. A well-placed explosive, almost had them careening off the road and into a tree, but luckily, they avoided the crash by a hair's breadth. By the time they'd recovered from their shock, the black van had vanished into the distance. He'd immediately ordered Crane into pursuit. The captain had seemed worried. Decker gingerly touches the lump on the side of his head. He apparently hit his head when the car spun out of control.

He glances at the gauges on the lit dashboard. They are very low on fuel and this country road didn't seem to have any gas stations along it. From the corner of his eye he sees Captain Crane studying him.
Crane looks uncertain, but goes ahead anyway. "Sir, tonight's Christmas eve and I was wondering…"
"Well? Spit it out already!" Decker snaps.
"Well sir, could we stop early tonight? And…" Crane swallows at the angry expression on the colonel's face. "And I would like to take tomorrow off."
"Take tomorrow off? You can't be serious! They can't have gone far in this freak weather. I will have you court martialed for this."
Crane ducks his head. "Yes sir."
Decker studies the captain, taking note of the dark tinge around his lips and the slight shaking in his limbs. Outside, in the growing darkness they pass a sign for a motel a few miles ahead. He sighs…
"Take the next exit and head for the motel. We will stop for tonight, we can start earlier in the morning."
Crane looks startled and grateful at the same time.
"Yes sir, thank you sir."

They arrive at the hotel and the captain quickly goes inside to rent two rooms. He returns with the keys and hands one to Decker. "Have a good night sir." The colonel glares at the younger man and Crane hastily makes himself scarce. Grumbling, Decker gets out of the car and heads for his room. Spotting a gold glint from the corner of his eye he grabs his gun and whirls around...
'It's just an unlit Christmas tree…' He shakes himself like a wet dog and holsters his gun. 'Maybe it is time to hit the hay.' Rubbing his eyes, he puts the key in the lock and opens the door. He's immediately assaulted by the smell of sweet cigar smoke. 'Smith…!' Decker cocks his gun and stands with his back to the wall. With precision, he flicks the light switch revealing an empty motel room. With a curse, he quickly heads out the door, but both the walkway and parking lot are deserted. He scoffs… "Humbug…"

He goes inside and locks the door. After a nice shower, he gets ready for bed. Refreshed and warm, he steps from the bathroom and into the motel room when he spots someone sitting in the armchair. He dives for his weapon only to find the holster empty.
"Ah ah aah… That's not a nice way to greet an old friend, now is it?"
"Smith! I thought it was you."
Hannibal leans back in the chair and lazily lights a cigar throwing the match on the floor. The sickening smell of burning carpet permeates the air before Hannibal stomps it out. "I've come to warn you." Decker moves towards the chair and looms threateningly over the colonel.
"You don't have to warn me Smith… Give yourself up now, and I'll go easy on you."
Hannibal smirks and blows a lungful of smoke in Decker's face. "That's not how this thing works. See, you can't touch me." Decker spots his gun in Hannibal's hand and slowly backs away. He has to find a way to warn Crane. He spots a lamp on a side table, near where he's standing. Maybe he can knock it off. The sound may be enough to attract the captain's attention.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Hannibal cocks the gun. Decker freezes.
"What do you want Smith…?" The colonel grits out between clenched teeth.
"I want justice."
"Justice?!" Decker explodes. "The only justice will be, when you and your men are back behind bars."
Hannibal looks thoughtful for a while, his steely eyes seeing the truth in Decker's. "You really believe that don't you." A clock can be heard chiming further away. He looks at his watch. "My time is nearly up. Hear me… Justice without mercy is unjust."

Decker starts to sputter and opens his mouth to deny it when suddenly all the lights go out.
"Remember Decker," Hannibal's disembodied voice floats through the room. "without mercy, there is no justice." The lights flash back on and the chair is suddenly empty. With a curse, Decker tries to yank the door open only to find it still locked. Unlocking it, he almost rips the door off its hinges and steps out onto the icy cold. Snow is floating down serenely onto the still empty parking lot. No footsteps can be seen in the snow covering the walkway.
"You'll never get away with this Smith!" He shouts into the dark.
"Sir?" A bleary-eyed Crane is gazing at him in confusion through a cracked door. Decker scowls at the young man. He turns around with a huff and slams the door shut. Inside, he finds the gun right where it's supposed to be, in his holster. He takes it out. It's cold to the touch… Far colder than it should be since it had been in Smith's hand just a minute ago. He shrugs and walks past the armchair, noting the curious absence of any scorched carpet.

He shakes his head, he must have hit his head harder than he thought. Nothing like a good night's sleep couldn't fix though. Tomorrow, he would be on their trail like a bloodhound. "Just you wait Smith… Just you wait."

12-23-2016, 10:03 AM
The second stave – GreyGregory14

A sound filters into Decker's troubled dreams of the A-Team . . . a distant chiming, with the rhythm of a very slow heartbeat. Decker opens his eyes and sits up, but everything is silent. The clock on the nightstand says 11:59. He's been asleep for less than three hours. With a frustrated grunt, he rolls over and closes his eyes, only to be startled by a loud tapping.
"What the –"
The tapping starts again, clearly coming from the window. "Crane, I'll have your hide for this!" Sliding out of bed, he walks over to the window and yanks the curtains back. Nothing… Just as he turns to leave, another tap. He whirls around and almost jumps out of his socks. None other than Lieutenant Templeton Peck is grinning at him through the window. But that's not the worst of it. The worst part is that Peck's golden hair and perfect teeth are glowing. With a shout, Decker grabs his gun and runs out the door, only to find the parking lot as empty as before. What in the blue blazes is going on? Maybe he really should get his head checked out – once they capture the A-Team of course. After going back inside and double-locking the door, Decker turns back to his bed and bites off a startled yell.

"Hey there, Decker!" says Peck from his position sprawled on the bed with his hands behind his glowing head. He flashes a smile . . . literally. "You're looking a little glum for Christmas Eve. Did they forget to bring you some figgy pudding?"
"Cut to the chase, Peck," Decker barks, pointing his gun at the intruder. "What are you doing here?"
"Didn't Hannibal tell you? Justice without mercy is unjust. Of course, we know big words like that can be hard to remember sometimes, so we're going to help you out."
"What are you talking about? I don't need your help, I need you in prison!"
Before his eyes, Peck disappears, then reappears at Decker's side, holding his pistol arm in an iron grip. "That's exactly why we're here – because you've got it all wrong, and it's going to catch up with you in the end. We're going to take a little trip to get you some fresh air and a new perspective. Although I must warn you, this was Hannibal's idea, and the rest of us are pretty skeptical whether this leopard can change his spots." He pulls the gun out of Decker's hand with the strength of two B.A.'s and tosses it to the side.

"How did you do that?" Decker can't keep the shock out of his voice. Has Peck been bodybuilding lately?
"Perks of the job," he says with a wink. Handing Decker his coat, he gestures with his other hand to the door. "Shall we?"
Decker grunts and follow's Peck's lead out the door, knowing resistance is futile against the man's inexplicable superhuman strength. And what's with the glowing hair, anyway? Half expecting to see the familiar black van parked outside his door, Decker is surprised to see nothing in the parking lot except the few vehicles already there, including his squad car. "Would you mind telling me where we're going, Peck?"
"The past," he replies, gripping Decker's arm again. "Hold on!"

Before he can say a word, Decker finds himself flying at breakneck speed through the icy winter air, held up by Peck's hold on his arm. He opens his mouth to protest, but the wind snatches the words right out of his mouth. After what seems like an eternity but could only be a minute or two, his feet touch the ground, and he finds himself standing in the middle of a suburban cul-de-sac, surrounded by houses with vinyl siding.
"How...?" He begins angrily, but Peck's hand covers his mouth.
"Shhh. Watch this."
A black government-type car speeds down the road and turns into one of the driveways, narrowly missing the two watchers. A man in a dark coat climbs out, goes up to the door of the house, and rings the doorbell. Several seconds later, the door opens and a teenage boy steps out. His hair is dark blond and his face is youthful, but there is no mistaking his identity.
"That's . . . that's Smith!" Decker rubs his eyes and checks again.
"Yep." The spook says something, and a look of shock crosses the boy's face. "This," says Peck, "is the Christmas Eve when at seventeen years old he got the news both his parents were killed in action. Both of them were secret agents for the CIA. Part of why they gave their son the most common name in the country."

"John Smith," Decker mutters. The boy gestures toward the house, and the spook follows him inside, closing the door behind them. Decker feels a twinge of . . . pity? Couldn't be. He shakes his head vigorously. Before he can say anything, Peck has him by the arm again, and they're flying through the air to land in front of a mechanic's garage in the city. An ambulance is parked next to the curb, and EMTs are wheeling a man out on a stretcher. Next to the garage, a little black boy stands tall despite his bleeding lip and his torn and roughed up clothing. His fists are clenched.
"B.A. just watched his father get beat up by loan sharks because he couldn't pay what he owed them," says Peck. "Not only will the man's body not heal completely, his pride will never be recovered. B.A. will grow up determined to defend himself and the people he cares about from bullying scum at any cost."

The fire in the boy's eyes continues to haunt Decker as Peck flies him to yet another location. This time, they land in the middle of what looks like a college campus, a few yards away from of a row of dormitory buildings. The only other person out in the chilly air this time of night seems to be a young man standing at the door of one building talking animatedly to the girl in the doorway. Decker can't distinguish what they're saying, but the boy sounds bewildered and upset, while the girl seems to be apologetic. After shaking her head and shrugging several times, she steps back, the door beginning to close. The boy pulls the door open again and holds out a small black box in front of her until she takes it. The door closes, and after standing as if frozen for a few seconds, the boy turns and begins trudging away. At last, Decker can see his face.

"That's you!" he says, turning to Peck. "What . . . what was all that?"
Peck's expression is strangely vacant of emotion. "That was my reason for joining the army," he says quietly. "The only woman I ever loved left me without saying goodbye."
Without warning, Decker finds himself flying through the air again. Then he and Peck are standing in an airfield.

"What are we doing here?" Decker demands, regaining his composure enough to sound indignant. "There's no one left on your sorry team to spy on."
Peck smirks, looking normal again . . . except for the hair. "Maybe so, but Hannibal's helped out a lot more men than just B.A. and me. And there's one guy in particular who might have lost it all in 'Nam if the Colonel hadn't brought us together. He came pretty close as it was." He points behind them. "Look."
Decker turns to see a much younger H.M. Murdock standing in a telephone booth with a phone to his ear, scowling. "No, Gran, I'm awfully sorry but I can't come back," he says. "I know it's Christmas Eve, but I ain't gonna sit at the table with that man while he talks 'bout Mom that way." A pause. "I know he's your son-in-law, but… Look, I'll be back in a few hours when everybody's gone, and you and I can drink hot chocolate and watch cartoons, okay? Love you. Bye."
He hangs up and runs out to a small plane already waiting on the runway. After he climbs in, the engine fires up, and a few moments later the plane takes off. Decker could swear he hears a loud howl as the plane becomes airborne.

"Flying was Murdock's way of finding freedom after losing almost everything else," Peck remarks. "In 'Nam they almost took even that away, but Hannibal looked out for him. As he looked out for us all."
Decker nods absently. His head is starting to hurt again, and his eyes feel heavy. He sits down on the ground.
"Are you all right?" comes Peck's voice from above him. "You look like you're ready to go back now."
His eyes slide shut as he finds himself unable to keep them open. The last thing he hears is that distant chiming . . .

12-23-2016, 10:04 AM
The third stave - Nancepance

Decker awakes a second time to the smell of warm milk and chocolate cookies. Fondly remembering waiting up for Santa with his little sister, he snuggles deeper into the pillow. A jingling sound fully wakes him from his slumber. He grabs the gun he's put under his pillow and warily opens his eyes to see his room decked from top to bottom in gold brocade. The rich fabric shimmering in the light of hundreds of candles. "What the…" He sits up and furiously rubs his eyes before opening them again. The room looks completely normal again. The colonel shakes his head and lies back down. Just as he's about to fall asleep again he is startled awake by an angry voice.
"Get up Sucka!"

Decker almost jumps out of his skin. Wide eyed, he stares at the huge black sergeant looming over him.
"Baracus!" Decker groans, this can only be a dream. The sergeant is completely covered in gold. Not only the chains around his neck, but his clothes and even his darned combat boots are gold.
From his experience with Peck he knows he's going to be dragged to god knows where and there's nothing he can do about it. He sighs… It seems like this night isn't over yet. "Can I at least get dressed?"
B.A. crosses his arms, making the muscles bulge, but doesn't say a word.
"Fine." Decker grinds out, through his teeth. "Let's get this over with."

B.A. moves to open the door, making Decker duck under his meaty arm to get through. He steps onto the freezing walkway but stops when he hears a strange giggle coming from behind him. He whirls around but sees absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. No, scrap that, they are suddenly standing in front of an apartment building. He can hear laughter coming from inside and B.A. roughly pushes him towards a well-lit window. Grumbling Decker moves forward to look through it, but it's too high up.
"Can you at least give me a leg up?" He asks the sergeant angrily. B.A. sighs and points.
"Jus' look through the window, fool."
Scowling, Decker turns to B.A. "I can't reach the damn window! How do you want me to look through it?!"

The sergeant physically turns Decker around. He's startled to see they can suddenly look through the window down into the room behind it. Decker's almost afraid to look down at his own feet in case they were just floating around. He's feeling more or less reassured to see his slippered feet still firmly planted in the snow. Though that means that either they grew really tall, or the window isn't where it's supposed to be. The physics of that just don't add up and the colonel decides that ignoring it may be in his best interests. In the room, a diverse group of people can be seen, eating, and having fun. A nicely decorated Christmas tree stands in the corner and twinkling lights are strung all along the walls. Spotting the old man with his hand in a splint Decker looks at B.A.
"Who are these people?"

B.A. growls while looking inside. "These people were being blackmailed by some nasty scumbags an' Hannibal took care of 'em good."
"So they asked a bunch of fugitives?" Decker's scowl deepens, "They should've contacted the authorities!"
The sergeant looms threateningly over the colonel. "No one else could help, so they hired the A-team!"
"And became accessories to the crime of hiding federal fugitives!"
B.A. grumbles and looks beseechingly up at the dark sky. "Dammit Hannibal. Told you he won't get it."
Decker fully turns to glare at B.A. "What?"
The sergeant sadly shakes his head. "Justice without mercy is unjust."
Decker explodes! "Again with that line! What's up with this sh…" A dark glare and the sounds knuckles cracking from B.A. has him swallowing the last word. "Tell Hannibal that I'm finished with this." He turns around with a huff and freezes. They are no longer standing in front of the apartment building but a nice house somewhere in the suburbs.

"This… this is Laura's house." Decker looks at the building, his mouth agape. "What are we doing here?"
B.A. just points at the window and the colonel quickly steps onto the porch to look inside. The room is decorated beautifully, the people around the table talking and laughing. A golden light surrounds the scene and suddenly they find themselves inside. No one seems to notice the sudden arrival of Decker and B.A. and the colonel turns to the other man for clarification.
"They can't see or hear us." B.A. says.
Decker slowly walks to the head of the table, noting the empty seat next to his sister. A beautifully crafted name tag sits on the empty plate. 'Roderick' it says in curly lettering. Decker's jaw tightens and his eyebrows furrow. Shaking his head he moves on. Tim, Laura's husband, is sitting on a chair with his leg propped up on a stool, his crutch within easy reach nearby. His face looks yellowed and bruised and his breathing a bit too shallow to be considered normal.
"What happened to him?" Decker asks the gold clad man.

"Some goons want to buy his business, but when the man refused they beat him up real good. Nobody knows if that leg will ever heal again." B.A. moves to stand beside the colonel. "He tried to ask you for help, but you was too busy chasing us."
Decker has to swallow a lump in his throat. He remembered the conversation he had with his sister. Telling her to take it up with the local authorities, not really listening to what she was saying. Finally noticing the subdued atmosphere in the room, he has to look away from her weary face and how she gazes at the empty seat. They made up a plate for him. After what he'd done they still wanted him around.
"You'd help them?" His voice sounds gravelly with some unknown emotion. B.A. nods affirmative. The voices around them raise in volume as they happily congratulate the young man and the glowing young woman beside him. His nephew Charlie and his new wife are expecting a child. The grandfather clock out in the hallway starts chiming. Its sound eerily like his own heartbeat. His eyelids are becoming heavy.
"NO! I can't leave yet." He wrestles with the sleep that threatens to overcome him. "Please…" he calls out feebly and then he knows no more.

12-23-2016, 10:05 AM
The fourth stave – GreyGregory14

The chiming of the grandfather clock warbles into the sound of an alarm clock going off before fading away. He wakes up, feeling a piece of ice on his shoulder. Still groggy, he tries to push it off with his eyes closed. But it's not a piece of ice. His eyes fly open to find long, white, bony fingers squeezing his deltoid muscle. Decker stifles a scream. The fingers belong to a figure in a black robe with its face hidden by a black hood. As Decker looks up, the figure steps back and straightens up to full height . . . about seven feet tall!
"Wh-who are you?" says Decker, stammering a little. "And what do you want with me?" he continues in a harsher, stronger tone. "There's no one left in that pathetic bunch of criminals called the A-Team to pay me a visit."

It might be his imagination, but Decker thinks he hears an indignant huff from the hooded figure. One bony hand reaches up the opposite sleeve and pulls out a small calendar, holding it out to Decker. The month and year are featured in large print at the top, and one of the dates is circled in red.
"December 24, 1986?" He looks up at the mysterious stranger. "Is this the future? Are you here to show me the future?"
The stranger nods, then points away from them. Rising to his feet, Decker realizes that they are not at the hotel at all, but on the front porch of a farmhouse. A biting wind whistles over the bare expanse of California farmland, chilling Decker to the bone.
"Any chance we could go inside?" he says, shivering. The hooded figure touches the front door and it opens immediately, much to Decker's surprise. He looks up at the specter, but a long finger simply points him toward the door. He steps inside.

The living room is not only warm, but covered with pine sprigs and red berries and golden bows. A lighted tree in the corner with a few brightly wrapped packages underneath completes the cozy Christmas atmosphere. No one is in the room at the moment, but the radio is on.
"The search is still on for the lost diary of the late A.J. Bancroft," the announcer says. "After almost a month of searching, federal investigators have yet to track down the men who took the document suspected to contain names of half the crooked politicians in Washington. But that's not the only turmoil in the government at the moment. Many are still questioning the president's choice to appoint Jacob Edwards as the new attorney general following the untimely assassination of the late Attorney General Liebster two weeks ago."

Decker turns to look inquiringly at the hooded figure and finds the door has closed behind them as silently as it had opened. At that moment, three people enter the room: an elderly man and woman and a younger woman. The older couple sits together on the couch, while the younger woman takes a chair.
"That was a sweet letter from Robbie, wasn't it Jess?" the older woman says to her husband. "I'm glad he's doing all right, even where he is."
Jess's jaw tightens. "It just isn't right, Carrie! They threw him into prison without a fair trial." His voice rose gradually as he spoke. "He's a vet with a purple heart and as patriotic as they come, and he had no idea that cocaine was stashed in his plane. The government didn't even try to investigate the other pilots or anything else. Nobody was willing to clear his name, so now he's stuck in prison for the next eighteen Christmases!"

Carrie puts a hand on his shoulder as the younger woman says, "I miss Robbie too, Uncle Jess, but there's nothing else we can do. We've tried everything."
"Why don't we take a moment," says Carrie, "and pray that Robbie has a good Christmas. I think it would do us all good."
Reluctantly, Jess nods. As the three bow their heads, Decker turns to his companion. "Do you want to tell me why I'm seeing this?" The specter is silent. "Let me guess," Decker continues sarcastically. "Is it because the A-Team could have cleared their son's name?" To his surprise, the hooded head bobs up and down in agreement. Decker gives a derisive snort, but inwardly he feels uncomfortable. What if the A-Team really could help these people? What if there were others whose lives were ruined that could have been helped by the men he was trying to capture? He quickly pushes the thought out of his mind. "Okay, what's next?"

He could swear he barely blinked only to find himself in a completely different place. Snow covered the ground and the tops of numerous short objects casting shadows in the light of the sunset. Tombstones.
"What are we doing here?" Decker asks. "Are you going to show me my own tombstone? Try to tell me I'll kill myself if I keep chasing the A-Team? Don't bother – it doesn't matter to me either way as long as justice is done. Oh right, I forgot… justice without mercy is unjust. But you're not going to tell me that since you can't even talk."

The only response is the familiar finger pointing. With a sigh, Decker turns around. In front of him, a woman is crouching in front of a tombstone, adjusting a Christmas wreath on top. He steps closer, then freezes. All the sarcasm melts out of him as he whispers, "Laura!"

She begins to speak. "Merry Christmas, Tim. I miss you so much…" Her voice breaks. "If I could go back, I would try anything to keep those men from coming back and hurting you again. I would go to every police officer in the county. I would ask Rod for help again. I would even consider calling that group of fugitives he was always chasing. I would do anything, anything to have you back."
Laura begins crying. Decker rushes forward and tries to put a hand on her shoulder, but his hand passes through like the hand of a ghost. The thought startles him, and he stares at his hand, then touches it with the other. It feels solid, but…

"Am I dead?" he asks hoarsely. "Am I a ghost?" The specter merely shakes his head. "Then what am I?" Decker yells. "Why is Tim dead? Why didn't I do something? What happened to me?!"
A hand slides up a black sleeve and comes out holding a rolled-up newspaper, which it shoves into Decker's chest. Warily, he takes the paper and opens to the front page. A strange mixture of emotions fills him as he sees a picture he has longed to see for quite a long time: Colonel Smith, Lieutenant Peck, and Sergeant Baracus handcuffed and surrounded by armed soldiers on all sides. The headline reads: A-Team Captured by Colonel Roderick Decker, Sentenced to 30 Years in Jail.

"Are…" Decker says shakily, "are you saying that because I capture the A-Team, my brother-in-law dies?" The dreaded nod follows his question. "But… this is not what has to happen, correct? This is only a prediction of what could happen."
No response. Panic overwhelms Decker, and he grabs the cloaked figure where the arms should be and shakes it. "Tell me! I need to know! I can't let Tim die. I can't let my sister be hurt like that. I'll do anything to change the future. I'll even stop chasing the A-Team. Is that enough? You have my word!"

Seemingly with no effort, the specter pulls an arm out of Decker's grasp. It reaches up and slowly draws back its hood. Decker blinks rapidly in disbelief as he finds himself gazing into the face of Captain H.M. Murdock! Crazy, wide-open eyes seem to stare into Decker's soul, and Murdock's mouth twists with a maniacal, closed-mouth grin. Decker is speechless for a few seconds. As soon as he recovers, he opens his mouth to speak, but just then, Murdock's smile cracks open and an ear-splitting beeping sound bursts out of his mouth. The pain is too much, and Decker covers his ears, but that does nothing to muffle the noise. The beeping is speeding up and it feels like his heart is trying to escape through his chest. His vision starts going dark as the sound gets louder, and louder, and louder…

12-23-2016, 10:06 AM
The fifth stave – Nancepance

The deafening sound is filling his every pore, crevice, and crack. Threatening to burst through his skin, it echoes around in his head and Decker lets out a scream. Suddenly his vision is filled with a blinding flash of light and the beeping slowly begins to recede into the background.
"Roderick…?" A soft voice calls out his name and he tries to turn his head. "Rod? Are you awake?"
'Laura…' Decker tries again to move, but none of his muscles obey his wishes. A warm hand envelops his and squeezes.
"Can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can."
Decker concentrates very hard and with some difficulty he squeezes his sisters hand. He hears a gasp and his sister begins to sob. His hand is pressed against her soft cheek and he feels hot tears run over his fingers. He once again squeezes her hand in the hopes of giving her some form of comfort.
"Laura…" It comes out garbled and Decker doesn't even recognize his own voice. Laura begins to cry in earnest now and Decker can do nothing to comfort her.

Instead he focuses on trying to open his eyes. They feel like they're weighted down with lead and it takes a herculean effort to even open them to small slits. He's immediately blinded by harsh white ceiling lights and he groans, squeezing his eyes shut. The crying slows down to a sniffle and his hand is released. A senseless panic envelops the colonel. "N-n-no, don't… go!" He blindly reaches out for his sister's hand, but the edge of the bed is empty. He doesn't know where he is, and his brain is responding sluggishly to the new stimuli. "Please…" He keens softly.
"Shhh… I'm here. You're in a hospital." Decker feels warm hands on his face, stroking his cheeks. To his left, a door is opened and the lights thankfully lowered to a more bearable level. A hospital… The beeping sound makes sense now. It's a heart monitor…
"Colonel Decker? How are you feeling?" Decker fights the urge to roll his eyes at the question. How is he feeling? Like a truck ran over his head, his mouth had been washed out with sand and his body weighted down with rocks. Lacking the energy to quip at the annoying doctor he just answers.

While the doctor proceeds to check him over he tries to open his eyes once again. The light is now much better and he seeks out the angelic face of his younger sister. "What… happened…?" Laura glances at the doctor, who is busily writing down the colonel's vitals.
"You had an accident. Your car careened off the road and straight into a tree. You banged your head and… Oh God I thought you were dead. I was so scared." Decker has some trouble following the tsunami of words flowing out of Laura's mouth and it must have shown on his face because she slows down and takes a deep breath. "Rod, you were in a coma for three weeks." The colonel needs a few minutes to digest this information. The doctor talks to Laura in a low voice and leaves the room.
"Coma?" He coughs and tries to moisten his mouth. A spoon filled with ice chips is put against his lips and he gratefully sucks on them. Laura nods affirmatively. "How…"

"You were chasing the team. Remember that?" Decker's brows furrow. He remembers the chase and the explosion, but everything after that is just a blur.
"Crane?" he asks warily. Laura looks unsure of who he means. "He was… the driver…" Her eyes widen.
"Oh, he only got knocked out for a while. They did keep him for observation, but he's fine." Decker nods although it's barely noticeable. His eyelids are becoming increasingly heavy and sleep is trying to claim him when suddenly he is overcome by a fuzzy memory.
He woozily smiles up at his sister. "Congratulations…Grandma." Laura gasps and puts her hand over her mouth in shock, but Decker is no longer aware of the world around him.

The following morning, he wakes up to find himself alone in his room. The morning nurse told him that Laura went home to freshen up, but would be back before visiting hour starts. Flashes of a weird dream are bouncing around in his head and he can't make heads nor tails of it. He is pulled out of his thoughts by a rather ugly cleaning lady that noisily starts cleaning his room. He wants to shoo her away, but can't find the energy to do so. Besides, she kind of looks familiar. Not being able to put his finger on it, he chooses to ignore her and gets lost in thought.

Justice without mercy is unjust.

Decker is startled from his thoughts. Everything from the chase to the motel and all the insane things that happened there come flooding back to him. He gasps and his heart monitor is going haywire. The door flies open and the nurse from this morning tries to comfort him while simultaneously fiddling with the medication controls. Decker grabs her arm like it is a life line and slowly but surely his heart rate goes down, and his breathing becomes easier. He looks into her sky-blue eyes, thankful that she was there to help him. When she is sure that the colonel has settled down, she smiles warmly at him. In her forties, her eyes have little crow's feet, but those don't take away from her beauty. Decker smiles back at her. A polite cough interrupts the moment and Laura steps forward. The nurse discretely turns away and leaves the room, but not before winking cheekily at the colonel.
"I have some things for you to keep you occupied until your rehab starts." Laura's eyes twinkle. "But by the looks of things you are keeping yourself entertained."
Decker smiles and looks at the newspaper in her hands.
"What day is it?"
He'd noticed the few Christmas cards in between the get well wishes, but has no idea about the actual date.
"It's Christmas day." Laura looks amused. "You know, if you didn't want to come over for dinner, you could have just said so." It has been a long time since his baby sister gave him a good ribbing and it feels good. Even if he has to ignore the tears glittering in the corner of her eyes. Decker thinks about Tim and the problems their family is in.
"Laura," He starts uneasily "I've been thinking…"

They talk for a while until Decker falls asleep again. At noon, he's awoken by a feeling he just cannot place. He tries to get a feel for the room and the disturbance in it. He opens his eyes to see a familiar silver head in the chair next to his bed and groans.
"Not you again…" Hannibal looks puzzled, but smirks anyway.
"Not exactly the greeting I had been expecting, but… I take what I can get." Hannibal looks at ease in the hospital chair. Like he's been sitting there often. Decker connects the dots.
"You were here…" It's more of a statement than a question.
Hannibal looks at him with those steely blue eyes before answering. "Yes."
Decker nods and relaxes into his pillow. If Smith spent time here, chances are the rest of them did too.
"I'm going to give up the chase Smith." If Hannibal is surprised by the statement he doesn't show it and Decker continues on. "There's more to life than chasing you around the US." He scoffs and looks at Hannibal with a wry smile. "Sadly it took me a coma to realize it." He falls silent for a while, taking the time to sift through his thoughts, his eyes focused on something only he can see.

"Justice without mercy is unjust." Decker says quietly, breaking the silence. Hannibal looks mystified at that sudden statement.
"Whose is that?" He asks and Decker laughs.
"Yours, actually." Hannibal raises an eyebrow in surprise. He would know if he ever said something like that wouldn't he?
"Forget it Smith." Decker sighs. "I'm going to retire from the army. I've done my duty and I'm done." He looks up at Hannibal and salutes. "Godspeed, Colonel Smith."
Hannibal stands at attention and returns the salute before extending his hand to his former nemesis.
"You too Rod. Take care of yourself." Hannibal moves to the door before turning around. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas to you too, Smith."

12-23-2016, 10:07 AM
Tag – Nancepance

Today is the day the former colonel is finally going home. He has packed his stuff and is waiting for his sister to come and get him when he hears a cart being rolled down the hallway. When it stops before his door he's getting intrigued. The feeling only gets enhanced by the peculiar knock on the door. Something that pulls at his memory from Nam. At his answering call, the door swings open to reveal the mother of all floral arrangements. It is huge!
With slow and deliberate movements he walks towards the welcome home card, proudly displayed on the front of the arrangement. He opens it and sighs, rolling his eyes.

Took care of them. Consider it a late Christmas present.
Love, The A-team

PS: Good luck getting this in the back of your car

He smiles and gets his bag. Decker contemplates the flowers and turns towards the exit, but not before tucking the card in his pocket, patting it fondly. 'One day Smith, we'll meet again. See who's laughing then.'

The end

12-23-2016, 12:41 PM
Feel free to comment!

12-25-2016, 03:47 PM
An appropriate Christmas story. It was very good and flowed from one stanza to the next.

12-27-2016, 01:07 AM
Thanks darlin',

Maybe John can put the carol into the International holiday part after the holidays?

John Pickard
12-27-2016, 11:15 PM
You guys are good.

Thanks darlin',

Maybe John can put the carol into the International holiday part after the holidays?

Why wait? ;)