Written because a) I couldn't get this image out of my head, and b) my wedding anniversary was the day after I posted this. :-)
Disclaimer and Notes: Still not mine, damn it. Sequel to The Jazz Never Fades; probably makes more sense if you read that one first. A-Team/The Sentinel crossover.
Rating: PG for language
Text of the ceremony taken from http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/ulcm/wed04.html.
Don't Have to Wonder
By Raine Wynd
The Episcopalian church was one of the oldest in Cascade, and its interior reflected its heritage. Bows decorated the ends of the pews, and Jim found himself grateful that whoever had decided on the floral arrangements had exercised restraint. Still, the scent of lilies mixed with roses and other flowers was intense, and he dialed his sense of smell down to compensate.
Already, the church was filled with people. Jim took the first open seat on the right hand side of the church about midway down the row of pews, nodding a greeting to the couple who already occupied the pew.
"I'm Ellen Penhall," the woman introduced herself. "This is my father, Joe. You are…?"
"Jim Ellison," Jim said pleasantly, shaking hands. "More people here than I was expecting."
Ellen chuckled. "The team has many friends," she said. "We drove up from California so we could attend. They saved our farm years ago."
Jim was saved from having to reply by Blair's arrival. "It's a madhouse downstairs," he informed Jim, sounding amused. "Amy's positively giddy, Hannibal's acting like he's a father, BA's complaining about his tuxedo, Face is in a daze, and Murdock's sane. I'm not sure if that's a good thing."
"Better call the cops," Ellen interjected with a chuckle, overhearing Blair.
Blair and Jim laughed. "We're already here," Blair told her, and she blinked, her face reflecting surprise. "Blair Sandburg," he introduced himself. "I'm a consultant with the Cascade PD and Jim's my police partner. Amy and the guys have become friends of ours over the past year."
"I'm not worried," Jim added. "Murdock's on his best behavior because he has a crush on Amy's friend Shaye, remember? Besides, Hannibal swore the only plan in motion today was to make sure Face didn't take off."
"You're trusting them at their word?" Ellen asked dubiously. "You do know who they are, right?"
"They've earned it," Jim said honestly. "I wouldn't call them friends otherwise."
"They seem a lot more settled since we last saw them," Joe put in. "We were surprised by the wedding invitation. Never figured Face to be a guy to settle down, you know, but that Amy's got spunk."
Blair chuckled. "They're good for each other," he said.
"Do you know if they ever got the Army to stop chasing them?" Ellen asked.
Blair nodded. "They managed to get a pardon," he told them. "Face wouldn't marry Amy if they weren't free."
Ellen and Joe seemed relieved to hear that.
Just then, the music changed, and the church bells tolled. The priest led the processional, followed by BA, then Murdock, and finally Face. The last two guests slipped into the sanctuary just behind the men. BA, Murdock, and Face were dressed in black two-button tuxedos. BA was accompanied by a curvy African-American woman on whom the royal purple bridesmaid's dress looked stunning. Murdock's companion was a petite brunette who was a familiar face to anyone who watched the local news.
Then the doors opened and Amy stepped in, escorted by Hannibal, since Amy's parents were deceased. Dressed in an elaborately beaded and embroidered gown, Amy glowed with happiness. The congregation stood as she and Hannibal walked down the aisle.
Just before he handed her over to Face, Hannibal paused to lift Amy's veil. Leaning over, he whispered, "You make me proud, kid."
Amy blinked back tears and smiled. "Always," she confirmed.
Hannibal stepped back to take his place in the front pew as Amy handed her bouquet over to her maid of honor.
The priest waved the congregation to a seat and then began to speak. Jim let the words roll past him, focused more on watching the group he'd come to call friends. Hannibal sat with the rigid bearing of the military officer he was; the only thing he was missing was his usual cigar. Murdock was calm, and Jim focused on him a moment, wondering – and confirming – that Murdock was managing it without chemical help.
He must really want to impress Shaye, the maid of honor, Jim thought. Either that, or he's having one of his really good days.
BA was fidgeting, clearly uncomfortable in the formalwear, but just as proud to stand up for his friends. From previous conversations, Jim knew BA saw himself as being a blue-collar kind of guy, not one for fancy clothes or words. Still, Jim knew BA was sharper and more observant than he let on, especially after hearing him discuss inner-city gang customs with Blair.
Face had eyes only for Amy; he had the look of a man deeply in love and somehow bewildered that he was here in this moment. Amy was less bewildered, but just as much in love.
They suit each other, Jim thought.
Not for the first time in the eighteen months since he'd first made the A-Team's acquaintance, Jim marveled that they were his friends. He'd seen them as criminals, vigilantes, until he'd understood they'd been given an untenable position. Framed by the government for a crime they committed under orders, they'd found redemption in helping others, until a perfectly baited trap had caught them once again. They'd wriggled themselves free of that trap, but it had come with a conditional parole. When Hannibal had been kidnapped, they'd come to him rather than risk violating the terms of their parole.
Jim had thought rescuing Hannibal and bringing down the mastermind behind the drug-making operation who'd taken him would have been the end of his contact with the team. Instead, they'd come to him and Blair, separately and together, seeking out contact, giving information, spending time. Before long, Jim had found his beloved '69 truck in BA's expert care. In Amy, he had a press contact who was willing to work as the unofficial voice of the Major Crimes Department. Face and Hannibal had a network of contacts they willingly shared with Jim as need arose. Murdock simply needed a shaman who'd listen, and the rest of the A-Team seemed relieved that Blair was willing to help.
There was very little doubt in Jim's mind that if he or Blair needed help, the A-Team would be there. He knew they weren't living life precisely on the right side of the law, but Jim figured they knew where to draw the line. They weren't the bad guys, and he'd come to trust they'd stay that way.
Beside him, Jim could almost hear Blair taking notes on the ceremony, an anthropologist to the end. Amused, Jim nudged his friend. "Quit it," he hissed.
"Spoilsport," Blair shot back quietly, his grin unrepentant.
Shaking his head, Jim refocused his attention.
The priest said, "Into this holy union Templeton Peck and Amy Amanda Allen now come to be joined. If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now; or else for ever hold your peace."
The congregation held its breath as the priest looked it over. Face and Amy stared at each other, and for a moment, Jim could taste their sudden fear.
Who would protest a love like theirs? Jim wondered, then remembered Hannibal's warning a few days previously.
"Look, Ellison, you know us. Trouble always happens at an A-Team wedding; it's tradition. Can you get some coverage, just in case?"
"Something you've forgotten to mention, Hannibal? Say, the fact you're advertising your services again?"
Hannibal had laughed. "Told you before, the team's retired. We quit tilting at windmills. But some people have long memories, and they might be inclined to follow the folks we're inviting."
Jim glared at the older man. "Care to give me any hints on who those folks might be?"
"Now why would I do your job for you?" Hannibal replied calmly.
Sighing, the detective made a mental note to check with Amy, who was likely to be more forthcoming about their enemies. "So just how many weddings would this make, Hannibal, that you'd see trouble as a tradition?"
"Well, it's the first one where we meant it," Hannibal had admitted. "But Murdock was the bride once, and we had to get Face a quickie divorce."
Jim had just shaken his head, but he'd taken the warning to heart. Unfortunately, Amy's list of the team's enemies had huge gaps, as she hadn't been with the team on every mission. Face had selective amnesia regarding their missions (his reasons changed every time Jim tried to ask), and BA hadn't been much help either. Jim hadn't bothered asking Murdock, knowing that was an even more random avenue than most.
Now Jim found himself grateful for the fact that his request for additional coverage had been granted. He had the sense that something was going to happen. He just hoped it wouldn't happen now, during such a critical moment of the ceremony most couples had chosen to take out rather than risk the answer.
Taking the silence as assent, the priest continued, "I require and charge you both, here in the presence of God, that if either of you know any reason why you may not be united in marriage lawfully, and in accordance with God's Word, you do now confess it."
"I haven't always been a good girl," Amy said, and the congregation chuckled. "But I have lived by what I believed to be right and good."
"Nor have I always been a good man," Face said, "but I have always lived by what I believed to be right and good."
"That's a crock of bullshit," a male voice shouted as its owner, a wiry Hispanic, rose and strode forward from the left hand side of the sanctuary. The right side of his face looked as though he'd suffered severe burns.
Under his breath, Hannibal muttered, "I wondered when he'd show up. God knows we didn't invite him." He didn't rise out his seat, so he missed the look of surprise Jim shot him.
As much as Jim had taken the warning to heart, he hadn't quite expected it to be someone Hannibal clearly knew well. Given what he knew of the team, Jim had expected it to be someone the team had run up against in the past, and factored in the fact the wedding was in Cascade.
Worried now, Jim glanced up at Amy and Face. Face had drawn Amy closer, whispering, "I'll kill him if he touches you. He won't hurt you again, I swear."
Amy trembled. "He already is." In a much lower voice, she added, "Jim, please, stop him. He set the trap on the team, helped Stockwell keep us."
The priest took the interruption in stride. "You object to this union, sir?"
"Hell yes, I object," the man said.
Even without Amy's plea, Jim had had enough of the guy. Moving quickly to the end of the pew, Jim drew his gun. "Then I'd suggest you stay put right where you are," Jim ordered, putting every ounce of command voice he'd ever learned into his voice.
The man froze. "She was promised to me, man. Stockwell promised she'd be mine. The little whore is mine, don't you understand? She's mine."
The priest eyed him. "And you are, sir?"
"Frankie Santana. The bitch is mine. And unless Richard Bancroft's changed his name, this marriage wouldn't be legal either."
"Sorry to disappoint you, Frankie," Face retorted, "but I took care of that little detail a while ago. Name's legally Templeton Peck, and no, you can't have Amy." He turned to the priest. "Ignore him. He has no valid objections, other than being a sore loser and a Judas."
The priest considered this and turned to Amy. "You concur that Frankie Santana has no claim on you, either in the eyes of God or by law?"
Amy drew a deep breath. "He has taken by force what was not given to him by my consent. If I have any sins, it's that I wished he would burn in hell."
The priest paused as the congregation reeled in shock.
"Your objection has been duly noted, Mr. Santana, but you hold no claim here," the priest declared.
"Funny, I figured you'd say that," Frankie said as he drew his gun.
"Drop it," Jim commanded as suddenly half a dozen armed officers among the congregation became known.
"And here I thought you were being paranoid," Blair marveled to Jim as an undercover officer moved confidently forward to disarm Frankie. "Really, dude, did you think she'd fall into your arms after this?"
Frankie shot him a look full of hate as he was escorted out of the sanctuary.
"Thanks, Jim," Face called out, looking relieved.
"Put it on my tab," Jim returned. "Amy, you okay?"
Amy managed a smile. "It wouldn't be an A-Team wedding without a few interruptions, now would it?"
Shaking his head, Jim moved to follow up on the arrest, knowing Blair would tell him if anything else happened.
Blair touched his shoulder as he moved to leave the pew, stopping him. "I'll get the story on Santana," he promised quietly. "But if it is who I think it is, then it's the guy who helped set the trap on the team."
Jim nodded acknowledgement of Blair's words, not entirely surprised that Blair knew more than he did. "Be back as soon as I can. Save me a piece of cake if I don't make it to the reception." He held up a hand, forestalling Blair's automatic objection, then moved quickly to leave. He wanted to make sure the arrest wasn't screwed up; nobody made a threat against his friends and got away with it.
ze end, for now perhaps