B.A. Baracus was tough, with a head that was used to taking a few punches. Perhaps that was why he was the only one to remain conscious as the battered helicopter crashed into the jungle of Vietnam. Climbing out of the sideways helicopter, he took a quick moment to assess the damage. Fuel was dripping slowly from the tank and occasional sparks flitted from the engine. Determining it was best to move his colleges, B.A. set to work, gently carrying them each from the damaged helicopter to a safe distance away.
First to come out was Murdock, the spirited pilot who had managed to avoid almost everything that was thrown at them. Next was Face, who sported a lump on his head but not even dirt on his pretty face. The army, in its infinite wisdom, had decided not to send a colonel on this mission, so the forth man off was new and B.A. didn't know him that well. There was no conscious reasoning, but he did place Private Romero several feet away from his friends. Turning his attention to Murdock, the big man knelt softly by his side, and began to gently slap him awake.
"Come on Murdock, wake up baby." The word slipped out, surprising B.A., but not as surprising as the laughter that erupted behind him. He swung around; Romero was sitting up, laughing and pointing at B.A.
"The Great B.A., the man everybody is afraid of, is nothing more than a butt-munching fag! Wait until I tell the guys!"
Anger surged through B.A. and he found himself on his feet, moving toward Romero. He responded by pulling his sidearm and leveling it at Baracus. B.A. gracefully stopped despite his forward momentum.
"You planning on shooting me, man? You can't pass a gunshot wound off as part of a helicopter crash."
Romero laughed again. "You think I am so dumb you can trick me into a fistfight? You would wipe the floor with me!" He began to laugh again, his eyes crinkling up at the thought and B.A. took advantage of his limited sight. A strong leg kicked the gun away and B.A. closed the distance between them. B.A. felt the man's jaw break under his fist and watched with satisfaction as Romero lost consciousness again.
His anger dissipating, B.A. felt a growing dread. His deepest secret revealed before this complete stranger! Who would no doubt tell, as soon as his jaw healed enough for talking. Of course he could deny it, but Murdock deserved to hear it from him first. Determining to have the conversation he had been putting off since he first realized his feelings , B.A. turned from the unconscious body. What he saw broke his heart.
Face was awake and straddling Murdock at the waist. Gently rubbing his face and softly calling his name, Face roused Murdock. H.M. awoke with a gentle moan and raised a hand, not to his aching head, but to the Faceman's lump.
"You had me scared when you wouldn't wake." Face said, ever so softly. Then, without regard for where they were or who could see, they leaned together and kissed. It was a beautiful kiss. That kiss held all the things he felt for Murdock with tenderness he didn't think he could manage. The kiss broke and they began to murmur to each other, gentle words of love B.A. could not make out for the blood roaring in his ears. Finally, Murdock turned his head, checking out the small clearing down from the now burning wreck. He caught the look on B.A.'s face and misinterpreted it. After all, what emotions did B.A. feel but anger?
"Now, big guy, this isn't what it looks like." Murdock started, groaning a bit at the clich nature of the words. Face jumped to his feet and reached down to help Murdock up. Murdock faced B.A. and tried not to look like he had been caught with his pants down. With a dazzling smile, Face spoke up.
"Actually, B.A., this is what it looks like. We just weren't sure how to tell you and Hannibal." B.A. was surprised to hear his voice answer, after only a few moments of hesitation.
"Quiet fool, I don't care what you got going on. Right now, we got to get out of here before the VC get here. They're sure to have noticed the flaming helicopter." Tossing Romero over his shoulder, B.A. began the long march back to camp. Murdock hurried to take point, leaving Face to take the rear. As he lead the way back to camp, looking for trip wires and land mines, Murdock found himself thinking about the look on B.A.'s face. It hadn't been a look of anger, not now that he thought about it, and it hadn't been the disgust him and Face had expected to see when they told B.A. about their relationship.
Murdock liked to think he knew B.A. as well as anyone so it bothered him he could not match the look to an emotion. Murdock thought back to when he first met B.A. and how he had spent many nights wondering what B.A. would look like with his head thrown back in pleasure. Well, that crush had been before Face and he was content to see where this thing with Face would go. For now, he would just concentrate on Face, and leading him safely home.
If B.A. was quieter, and angrier, over the next several weeks no one really noticed. Healing up from his wounds gave him lots of time to think and observe. Suddenly, everywhere he went he saw signs of the romance between Face and Murdock. The electrical reaction to every "accidental" touch, how often those "accidental" touches occurred. All the times they found excuses to just be together or managed to disappear at the same time. B.A. took to sprucing up the jeeps in his spare time, only to be aware of how often the couple took a jeep out. Working on his engines was the only thing that gave B.A. pleasure, that and one hopeful thought. Face was a notorious flirt and playboy, who might just dump Murdock for the next skirt that came along. By sticking close to the couple, B.A. would be there if Face ever hurt Murdock.
B.A. still took every chance to be close to Murdock, until the first time that it happened. The army doled out assignments without regard to personal preference, so finally B.A. found himself climbing into Murdock's helicopter without Face being onboard. There were six other men, including the gunner, but B.A. was only aware of Murdock. What if the `copter crashed again? Face would not be there to rouse Murdock. What if Murdock didn't wake up?
It was an irrational fear, but it took root in B.A.'s soul. He tried to reason it away, Murdock wouldn't crash, Murdock would wake up without Face rubbing his check, but the fear was too strong. By the time they reached the landing zone, B.A. was breathing heavy, dizzy and felt like he was going to pass out. On the flight back to base camp, he did pass out. It got worse with each flight, even if Face was there. Finally assigned a different pilot, B.A. thought he would be all right, but even then he still felt the fear overwhelm him. Finally, Hannibal took him aside.
"What's going on B.A.? We can't have you passing out every time you get on a `Copter. The general wants you relieved of duty and sent off for a full medical evaluation." Panic stricken, B.A. looked in the colonels ice blue eyes for the first time in a long time. Medical evaluation meant psychological evaluation. Could there be anything worse than going crazy? Hannibal continued. "I don't want that for you, you are a good soldier and a loyal friend. Tell me what's bothering you and we can make the general go away. "
"It started with the `copter crash." B.A. began but stopped. When the concerned look in the colonel's eyes became too much, B.A. tried again. "I am afraid that Murdock." Won't wake up. The words echoed in his head but he couldn't say them. Hannibal tried to finish the sentence and jumped to the wrong conclusion.
"You're afraid of flying, ever since the `copter crash a few weeks ago. Perfectly normal to respond to a trauma with fear. Keep fighting it soldier, I'm sure you'll get over it with time." Smiling with relief, Hannibal squeezed the enormous bicep of his friend. "Besides, the general is finalizing you , me and Faceman as a team, with Murdock as our own personal pilot."
Anger came to his rescue again, bringing up words he didn't mean but allowing him to finish this conversation without crying. "That crazy fool, he gets more erratic with each trip. Pretty soon he will be following birds instead of directions."
B.A. shook off Hannibal's hand, ignored the hurt look, and went on his way.
He fought, each and every trip to shake off the irrational fear of Murdock's death, always suppressing the reason for his fear. By the time "fear of flying" was entered into his record, B.A.'s panic attacks alternated with full blown catatonia. When Murdock was locked up, with a faithful Face scamming him a private room, B.A. gave up hope of their separation. As they began their lives as mercenaries, B.A. managed to convince himself that it was the flying he feared, and nobody was the wiser.
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