Disclaimer: I do not own, nor did I create, any of the A-team characters (main or support) nor do I own, nor did I create, any of the episodes. That credit is due to Stephen J. Cannell and his associates. Any familiar catch phrases or settings also belong to the Cannell team.
Spoiler Alert: References characters, locations, plot, and revelations from episode 7 season 2 "The Taxicab Wars. Also alludes to Season 2 Episodes 1-6: "Diamonds and Dust" "Recipe for Heavy Bread" "Only Church in Town" "Bad Time on the Border" and "When You Comin' Back Range Rider?" Dr. A.M Richter appears in Season 4 Episode 11 "The Doctor is Out" Colonel Decker and Doctor Maggie Sullivan are also the creation of Cannell and Associates. All above material belongs to Stephen J Cannell and his associates.
Author's Notes: in "Taxicab Wars" Face is extremely down on Murdock's antics and creation of Captain Cab. I always found this characteristically incongruous which made me wonder what motivated Face to behave that way. This piece is my attempt to quell my own questions.
Summary: Hannibal has a heart to heart with Murdock.
Always Their Captain: by LAGC
Chapter Five: Murdock's Turn
Murdock strolled down the antiseptically dull hallway. His hands were plunged into the pockets of his khakis. He'd left his flight jacket in his room so it was easy to read the slogan on his purple t-shirt: "Use your imagination. Or you can borrow mine.
He rapped lightly on the open door of Dr. Richter's office. "Hi Doc, I'm here for our weekly Chess match."
"Ah good to see you, Murdock. And you know darn well we aren't here to play Chess. Although I must say you do approach our conversations with the stratagems of a Chess Master."
Murdock smiled lopsidedly at his psychiatrist and was the picture of innocence as he stretched out on the leather couch in front of the office windows. He snuggled into the cushions and threw his arms up under his head.
"Did you enjoy your weekend pass?"
"I certainly did, Doc."
"How do you spend your time away from here?"
"Oh I go plane spotting and bird watching mostly."
"Are you alone?"
"No, Billy is always with me Doc, you know that."
"Yes yes, I was referring to human companionship. Do you spend time with other people?"
"Well sure Doc. I've got to eat don't I? I see all sorts of folks at the local diner lunch counters."
"Those are nice, casual interactions. How about relationships? Do you see any friends during your R&R excursions?"
"Now now Doctor. I've got plenty of friends right here. Right in this here office with you. And there is Malcom in room 440 we bond over peanut butter and Barclay in 407 we always jabber about flight and space exploration."
"Where do you sleep at night?" Richter pried.
"Oh this time I took a room at the Tarzana YMCA."
Their session continued for about a half an hour longer: Dr. Richter trying to encourage Murdock to open up about his time away from the VA and it's impact on him; Murdock eagerly supplying cooperative answers but no revelations. They parted ways with Murdock expressing his excitement to chat again next week, same place, same time.
After eating his lunch in the cafeteria with the aforementioned Malcom and Barclay, Murdock wandered out to the exercise and nature gardens. He meandered over to his favorite spot, a bench near a dense thicket of rhododendron bushes. Behind these was the "secret hideout" that he often met Face in. Murdock glanced over toward the hideout and thought to himself, "I hope Faceman is feeling better. He was so wound up in Tarzana, it's no wonder he ended up with that headache."
Suddenly he felt a small projectile strike his shoulder. This caused him to turn fully toward the bushes. Then he heard a soft yet commanding whisper, "Psst, Murdock. Over here."
He instantly recognized his Colonel's voice. He cast a cautious scan about the gardens and feeling comfortable that he wasn't being observed, Murdock slipped through his hidden passage into his hideout.
"Hi Colonel. What brings you here? Do we have another case already?" he eagerly asked.
"No that's not it, Captain." Hannibal began.
"Is Faceman ok?"
"Yes he's fine, Murdock. Why'd you ask that?"
"Because of his horrible headache when we drove back to LA. And he was so tense during the Taxicab case."
"Ok first off I need to tell you that we're at the seaside cottage. Decker sniffed out the condo."
"Oh Oh. Any clue as to Decker's where-abouts now, Colonel?"
"Well if he keeps following the trail I laid out like the mangy bloodhound I know he is, he should be scrambling a squad and heading off to Yosemite National Park." Both Hannibal and Murdock snickered at the Colonel's news.
"You thought Face was tense on the last mission, Captain?" Hannibal poked.
"He sure was, a sad sort of tense. I kept doing my best to cheer him up but he just seemed to get more miserable each day. Then the headache. Maybe he's getting sick. Maybe Doc Sullivan ought to check him over." fretted Murdock.
"I don't think that'll be necessary. His headache was gone by this morning. How have you been feeling?"
"Me?! I'm right as rain, Colonel. Fine and dandy."
"Captain, I'm going to ask you some important questions and I need point blank answers. Understand?" Hannibal said in his command tone.
Murdock immediately stiffened to attention and replied, "Yes, Sir. Of course."
"Captain, do you ever see yourself not residing here at the VA?"
Murdock reacted by taking an actual step backwards, his expression revealing how startled he was by the question. Hannibal waited, patient and silent. He did not want Murdock to rush or censor his reply. He simply leaned against an oak tree.
"Not yet, Colonel...maybe someday...but not just yet." Murdock mumbled as he lowered himself to the grass and assumed a knee tucked sitting position. He sunk his cap firmly onto his head and rested his chin on his knees.
Hannibal watched him closely. "Can you elaborate on why you feel this way?"
Murdock sighed deeply then explained, "I was a mess when I came here. Trapped in a loop. Hopeless. I'm not like that anymore. I'm mostly me again. But ...I can't go it alone."
"Murdock, you wouldn't be alone. I, Face, and BA, would never let you go it alone."
Murdock's eyes flashed with an unreadable emotion or thought. Again Hannibal chose to silently wait.
"But Hannibal...I was alone. All those years ago I was alone. You guys were gone. Locked away and I was shipped here. No compass. No thrusters." Murdock tightened his grip on his legs. "The doctors had no clues. I had no flight plan. ... then Dr. Richter came. He started to ask the right questions. It was a flicker of light in my dark tunnel. Then the news covered your escape from prison. And I then I had a headlight at the end of that tunnel cuz I knew I had to be ready when you came for me... I knew you'd come."
Hannibal went and crouched next to Murdock, "Always, you're our Captain,"
"So I got better. Dug my way back to almost me. Richter helped me so much. He found the balance- the right questions, the proper meds. He crafted a stable space for me. As much as I belong with you guys, I understand that I need this. The Purple Wobblies do still wiggle from time to time, but they don't scare me anymore. Because having reliable access to Richter and my prescriptions, here, enables me to be ready to help you guys out there."
"Has Dr. Richter ever suggested that you could move on to out-patient status?" Hannibal cautiously asked.
Murdock shot him a mischievous grin, "Oh... I never open the gate to that discussion. I don't give any him reason to suggest that. No sir-ee. The current status quo works so well for everyone involved. Someone on the Team needs a permanent address, Colonel."
Hannibal gently gripped Murdock's shoulder. "Thank you for your honesty Captain. I'm just going to ask for a bit more." Murdock nodded solemnly.
"Our cases, are they ever too much? Do they kick up too many memories? I know the last few before Tarzana were intense."
"There ain't much I can't handle when we're all together, Hannibal. ... Have you or the Guys been disappointed in me?" Worry suddenly inundated his eyes.
"Never, Murdock. It's my job to take care of my men. That's all this is." assured Hannibal.
"Memories are just memories. I know that. The only power they have is that which I give them. Richter helps me believe that. And ...I've learned how to release and regulate my mental pressure cooker."
"Can I be so bold as to assume that Captain Cab might be a component of that pressure valve?"
"To a certain point, Hannibal. I just need to let my creative expression run free when it needs to. Maybe it does like to run amok when things are intense. Ironically I grip reality best when I let my fantasies loose. ... Besides they help Face and BA too."
"How so, Captain?"
"Oh they give Faceman permission to play. He excuses himself to enjoy the whimsy by telling himself that he's protecting me. He's always "on" - always collecting, analyzing, categorizing information so he can be Our Faceman, Our Prince of Procurement. Sometimes he just needs to be innocent. My antics allow him that."
"And BA always hides his worry-wort side behind his big ugly mud-sucker mask. He actually gets himself angry. So chasing me let's him work through that. We all know he won't ever really hurt me. Venting at me keeps him from letting loose on a bad guy, with who he might not have self control."
In the distance they heard the staff encouraging the residents to report to their afternoon group meetings. The men knew their time was limited. Hannibal stood and extended his hand to help Murdock up.
"We all good, Colonel?" Murdock asked as he shook grass off his khakis.
"To steal your words, Captain. We're right as rain."
"You promise to tell me if ever we aren't Hannibal?"
"As long as you'll promise me the same."
"I double pinky swear to Colonel."
Hannibal laughed and then instructed Murdock to take a position where the staff would be able to find him. Hannibal stayed hidden until he watched a familiar orderly coax Murdock down from a cozy perch in an elm tree near the bench he was sitting at originally.
#*#*#*#*#*#*#*Additional Author's Notes
Lt. Reginald Barclay = Character played by Dwight Schultz in several Star Trek series throughout the 1990s. All credit for that character belongs to the empire that is Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek.
The slogan on Murdock's t-shirt is taken from one of Murdock's lines in the series. He says it in "Harder than it Looks" S2 E20