The Hard Stuff First

POW Recognition Day

Title: The Hard Stuff First
Fandoms: Sylum Clan Universe: A-Team (TV), Blade Trinity, CSI: New York
Characters/Pairings: Templeton Peck, Humphrey Marion (H.M.) Murdock, Hannibal King, Donald Flack, Jr., Sylum Clan Members, Original Characters
Ratings: PG
Word Count: 1,336
Summary: National Former POW Recognition Day

Enjoying the quiet spring morning, Templeton Peck leisurely strolled toward the O’Malley Bar. After the frenetic energy of Mardi Gras season, the relative calm of the Lenten and Easter season was a welcome change. He stopped at his favorite café for a cup of coffee and order of beignets. Murdock was gone on an early morning flight, necessitating a pre-breakfast trip to the airfield.

Getting a second cup of coffee to go, he felt fortified enough to face the stack of work sitting on his desk. Slipping in the back door of the bar he owned with Murdock, Templeton stopped long enough for a quick chat with his manager before heading up the stairs to his office. His assistant greeted him with a smile and a stack of messages.

“Already?”

“What can I say, you’re a bastion of the city. The mayor and city council don’t want to do anything that will cause you to give them your, I’m so disappointed in your stupidity, face.” The well-dressed, brunette with eyes the color of his favorite dark chocolate, smirked.

His executive assistant always reminded Templeton of Katherine Hepburn in looks and demeanor. Beatrice … Do NOT call me Bea, Avery had been Templeton’s right hand for fifteen years, making his life imminently easier. While she guarded the entrance to his office as fiercely as any dragon, she treated Templeton and H.M. like favored uncles. Members of her family had been Chosen Ones since the pair had joined Sylum and settled in New Orleans.

“Such disrespect for our elected officials.” Templeton scolded as he headed for his office. “Have you found yourself a minion, yet?”

“Dwight’s running background checks for me.”

“You do realize the Clan members in the NOLA police department are not your minions?”

“He always said if I needed anything to let him know.” She smiled impishly as she waved him on his way.

~ • ~ • ~

Beatrice had gone home by the time H.M. returned from the airfield. Still riding the adrenaline high his Mate always got from flying, Templeton encouraged Murdock and Billy to stretch out with him on the couch and tell him about their trip. As Murdock got to the part about his landing and post-trip, he finally began to wind down. He was silent for several minutes before he reached up and grabbed a quick kiss from his Mate and bounded off the couch.

“Come on. I need to let Billy out in the garden, and there’s the wonderful smell of crawfish etouffee wafting on the wind.”

“I think that’s the Special downstairs tonight.” Templeton moved around his office to shut it down for the night.

While Murdock walked Billy, Templeton headed for their usual table and to check for anything happening in the bar that might be a trigger for his Mate. He paused for a minute … There was something … A feeling … He looked around the bar. The back section of the bar that used to be several private meeting rooms Templeton had converted into one room everyone called The Vets Room, was fairly crowded. Being Tuesday, he saw a lot of the regulars, veterans that showed up for veterans’ specials they ran every Tuesday.

Having a relaxed atmosphere where they could have a beer, talk, not talk, share stories from their time in service seemed to be a help to many of the younger veterans that were having trouble getting scheduled into the mainstream veterans’ facilities. Templeton would forever be grateful for the time Domenico de Rossi spent working with him after Vietnam, but sometimes having a fellow brother or sister in arms who’d been there, done that, worked almost as well.

Wondering what was taking Murdoc so long to walk Billy, he looked toward the hallway that led to the back door. He saw his Mate talking to their Clan’s Second-in-Command. Antonio didn’t often come to the O’Malley Bar. He preferred the high energy at Warrick’s club, The Pirate Cove. O’Malley’s was more neighborhood bar than club. Confused, his gaze flicked over the waitress that carried a tray of pitchers into the Vets Room. That’s when he saw Nicolaus talking to Templeton’s Sire, Hannibal King, and his Mate, Don Flack … And what were they doing in town?

Before he could ask any of these questions, the crowd moved toward the glasses and pitchers of beer. It was then he saw the impromptu shrine on one of the tables that had been shoved into the corner. There were bits and bobs, pieces of notebook paper torn from the notebook laying on another table, pictures, and miscellaneous things that Templeton couldn’t begin to name. Seeing Hannibal coming towards him trailed by Don, he couldn’t hold his questions any longer.

“What are you two doing here? Won’t New York fall into the harbor without you?”

“Hello to you, too.” Hannibal pulled his stubborn Childe into a hug. “Murdock called me.”

Now he was really confused. “Why would Murdock call you?”

“He’s my friend and son-in-law.” Hannibal snarked while Don tried not to laugh.

“That’s not what meant.” Templeton was becoming frustrated.

“He called and invited us to a Rockpile party. The only thing I know by that name was Chang’s camp in ‘Nam.”

“What?”

“Yeah.”

“Why would he …?”

“I think I can answer that.” Don handed Templeton his phone.

“National Former Prisoner Of War Recognition Day?” Now Templeton was confused.

“Seriously.” Hannibal ran his hand through his hair. “It looks like he invited all of New Orleans.”

“Temp … Temp … What do you think of my and Billy’s surprise?”

“It’s great, Sweetheart.” Templeton assured his Mate.

Tonight’s on us. Food, drinks, we paid for everything.” Murdock leaned into Templeton’s side, laying his head on his shoulder. “

Hannibal and Don are a nice surprise.” He looked down at his Mate’s feet. “Thank you, Billy.”

“But …” Don started but Hannibal grabbed his hand. “We were just on our way to get some of that crawfish etouffee H.M. said was on Special.” He pulled his Mate toward the bar before Don could say something about nothing sitting at Murdock’s feet.

“Best in New Orleans.” The pilot called after the men as he straightened. “We were supposed to get some, too.” He grabbed one of Templeton’s hands in both of his. “You go save our table and I’ll get dinner.” He danced toward the kitchen.

Knowing his Mate would be a few minutes because he always got distracted, Templeton made the rounds to speak to his Clan leaders and a few others before he made it to their table setting where Murdock’s back would be to the back wall that would keep anyone from bumping him from behind.

Keeping one eye on the patrons while enjoying his dinner, Templeton grabbed Murdock’s hand before he could jump up and run to the kitchen for dessert. “H.M.” He said quietly so he had his Mate’s full attention. “Thank you. This was very thoughtful of you to get all our friends and brothers and sisters in arms together today, but you don’t usually go all out like this. What’s going on?”

Murdock wrapped his hands around Templeton’s. “Billy and I were talking on the way home last week and he said that we get so wrapped up in where we are that we forget where we came from. If you think about it, when we met, we were in the worst place anyone could ever be … First in a war zone and then in a prison camp, and I almost lost you again. Even with Billy’s help, there was no way I would have survived if you died. Then we escaped and life has been good, but I don’t ever want to forget we did the hard part first.”

With a soft smile, Templeton pulled his Mate close. He rested his forehead against Murdock’s. He gave him a soft kiss on the lips before turning him lose before he got anxious.  “I love you, too.”

~ Finis ~

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