Disclaimer: I do not own The A-Team, their property (yes, I mean the van), their friends or their enemies. If you recognise something, it's probably not mine.
No matter your personal level of sanity, a gun to the back of the head has a funny way of focusing the mind.
As Hannibal watches Murdock drop his gun and allow himself to be pushed to his knees, he wonders where on his captain's person sanity scale his mind is right now. Speaking for himself, he's never felt more sane in his life.
He watches Face and BA drop their own weapons as the gun trained on Murdock remains steady. Face's glare holds the promise of retribution and pain while the look on BA's face is one of hatred and incredulity that someone managed to get the drop on them in quite such a spectacular way.
Joseph Miller grins. Hannibal would love nothing more than to wipe that smile off his face but he knows that one false move will cost Murdock his life. And Hannibal's not prepared to do that.
"Drop your weapon, Smith," Miller instructs.
Belatedly, the colonel realises he still has his automatic gripped tightly in both hands. He could, he thinks, let loose a round of bullets, see what the Fates have lined up for them. But then he sees the look in Murdock's eyes, feels Face and BA watching him, and slowly, reluctantly, he lowers his gun to the ground and kicks it away from himself.
It's snatched up by one of Miller's accomplices and immediately turned back on the team. Miller himself steps away from Murdock but his gun is still aimed at the pilot, the implicit threat as real as ever. The only person who can't see it is Murdock himself.
Hannibal watches as the pilot goes through a gamut of emotions in seconds – relief, hope, determination and finally anger. The colonel isn't sure of the exact moment he knows what Murdock has planned but he knows he has to stop it.
"Stand down, Captain," he says and shakes his head at Murdock just as the man is about to rise up off his knees.
Miller smiles and walks around Murdock, gun coming into his eyeline bit by bit.
"Yeah, 'stand down, captain'," he mocks, and Hannibal glares at him but Murdock has relaxed.
"What now?" Hannibal directs the question at Miller although he's pretty sure he already knows the answer. Miller isn't the kind of man who takes defeat lightly.
"It's simple," the man replies. "I want my wife back."
Annabelle Miller has lived the highlife her whole life. Born to money, she was more at ease with servants than with friends. Her parents pandered to her every whim throughout childhood resulting in an entitled prima donna by the time she hit senior school. Her friends were the children of her father's friends, her mother indulged her at the Club, weekly facials and spas from the age of 14, and her own personal chauffeur doubled as a bodyguard and sometime confidant.
She met Joseph Miller at Blue Excess downtown. She had been far too young to have been clubbing there really but in those days no-one with any sense turned her down. Daddy was far too influential for that.
It had been a wild ride; Joseph courted her with words, gifts, promises and, finally, drugs. When he proposed she'd said yes without a second thought. He'd put on a good show for her family, always the perfect boyfriend. He was deferential, courteous and charmed her mother out of her socks. Everyone said it was the perfect match.
The wedding had been ostentatious. She had glowed, he had preened. They were the best thing that had happened to the town in years. The future was rosy.
And then things changed.
Her father died suddenly and under dubious circumstances. The grief had driven her mother mad, reliant on pills and therapy to get through the day. Joseph had been sympathetic and helpful; he took on the estate single handedly, he organised power of attorney for Annabelle but never let her worry about the details – he had it all in hand.
He became more and more distant from Annabelle. She worried he found her cumbersome, that her perfect life was about to come to an end.
Then the arguments started. Simple at first. Where had he been all night? Why was the phone ringing at one in morning? Who were those men who arrived in the middle of the night and didn't leave till the next day? The answer was always the same: don't worry your pretty little head about it.
But she did worry. She may have had a privileged upbringing, but she wasn't stupid. When Joseph stopped her access to their bank accounts she complained.
That was the first time he hit her.
He started staying out for days on end. She tried to find out where he was but when he came home he was always tired and only wanted to drink. Sometimes he'd want her but mostly she felt like an inconvenience.
Then she found another woman's jewellery in his bag. She asked him about it.
That was the first time he put her in the hospital.
And now, eighteen months, four hospital visits and countless incidents of verbal abuse later, she's ready to leave.
She has a number which she calls.
She's given a name, all she needs is an excuse to go out by herself. The bodyguards Joseph has assigned her 'for her own protection' are like limpets. She tells them she needs to go shopping. It's a weak ploy but once out she manages to lose them. It won't be long till they find her again but as long as she's back in a shop it won't matter.
She just needs long enough to find Mr Lee.
Hannibal presents the case of Mrs Annabelle Miller to the team as a fait accompli. He's always been a sucker for a downtrodden woman. Okay, so maybe she's as vacuous as a black hole but he's seen that look of despair before. She's clearly a woman of means so their fee won't be a problem. Face takes one look at her picture and determines her to be a worthy cause. Hannibal isn't surprised by this and just gives his lieutenant one of those looks.
"You'll need to keep your mind on the case," he warns him and Face has the nerve to look affronted by the suggestion his mind may be elsewhere.
BA is completely onboard. Hannibal knows how much respect the man has for women and this is clearly something he can't let pass by. No matter how she got herself in this situation, BA tells them, it's not her fault.
Hannibal can't argue with them. It's unanimous.
He tells Face to go get Murdock and then calls Annabelle.
"You just hired the A-Team," he tells her.