Flying into a Mad Season . . . Who's Psychotic Now?
After losing his jet pilot, General Stockwell requires Murdock's services, but is flying all he wants from his nephew-in-law? The General is once again throwing the Murdock household into chaos, in more ways than one - and soon things will get even weirder than usual. Mudock isn't alone in thinking that maybe the General is losing it. Sequel to Lifetime Supply of Cabbage Rolls - will be helpful if not essential to read that first.
I do not own the A-Team – just like to mess with them once in a while. Nancy Clay Murdock and her associates are all mine, for better or worse. Also, many thanks to the great artists whose song lyrics I use throughout the story. I've tried to make sure they're noted in the text. Enjoy and please, please, please review!
Chapter 1: Homecoming
"Please, Nancy, please, please, please?" Terra Walker, a twelve-year-old girl with long dark hair and brilliant emerald eyes looked at Nancy Murdock beseechingly, "Mom talked to Charlie, just like you said. But he wants someone to sing, not just play jazz - he said specifically to talk to you."
Nancy, a petite and pregnant young woman with auburn hair and sky-blue eyes, sighed as she put a stack of plates from the dishwasher away. Why had she sent Jasmine Walker to talk to Charlie in the first place? She should have known better. Charlie had been looking for a hook to get her to sing in his place for several years, "Terra, don't you think your Mom would be happier playing with someone who like the same kind of music she does, someone . . . more her age?"
"Mom likes all kinds of music. Besides, the only musicians she knows are druggies," Terra said distastefully, "she doesn't need that kind of temptation right now." Jasmine had just recently finished a drug rehabilitation program, and was now trying to get back on her feet. She'd moved back in with her mother, Blanche Walker, and had a part-time waitressing job at the diner where Blanche worked. Jasmine, however, had other aspirations besides waiting tables.
"Well, can't she sing herself?" Nancy ventured, casting about for a way out of the corner she was being backed into.
Terra made a face, then laughed, "You've never heard Mom sing, have you? She's terrific on the piano, guitar, synthesizer, violin - just about any other instrument you can name, but she cannot sing!"
Nancy was still hesitating, and Terra grabbed her arm and pleaded, "Nancy, you have to do this. Charlie said if you came with the deal, he'd set it up so Mom and you could play regularly. She really needs this, Nan. You know how depressed she's been lately."
Nancy did know, that's why she'd sent Jasmine to talk to Charlie in the first place. She also knew looking into Terra's eyes that she couldn't say 'no.' She nodded resignedly, "OK, we'll give it a try. Have your Mom set up a practice time and place, preferably with no one around, and we'll see how it goes."
Terra was jumping up and down and threw her arms around Nancy's neck, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
Nancy extracted herself from Terra's choke hold, smiling. She turned back to emptying the dishwasher, saying gravely, "I'm not going to have much time to devote to this, Terra. Your Mom's gonna have to handle just about everything. All I'm promising is to show up and sing a little."
"No problemo!" Terra grinned, using one of HM Murdock's favorite catch phrases. Putting her in mind of the pilot, Terra glanced around, "Where's HM?" she asked, wondering why Nancy's husband hadn't made an appearance.
Nancy put the last cup away and began loading the few meager dirty dishes in the sink into the now-empty dishwasher, "He's out of town," she said shortly, "The General fired his pilot about a month ago, and has had HM hauling him all over the place ever since."
Nancy was referring to her uncle, General Hunt Stockwell, who was her husband's employer. Her uncle had been responsible for Nancy and her husband meeting, in a round-about way, having acquired the services of the A-Team, which included Captain HM Murdock, almost four years earlier. The General would not have been happy at the insinuation that he had anything to do with his niece meeting or marrying the eccentric pilot, having been totally against their relationship.
The back door opened, and Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith, and his wife Maggie came in calling their greetings. Nancy finished rinsing the sink she'd just emptied, then turned to greet her new guests, "Hi Hannibal! Hi, Maggie!" She said brightly, and smiled as Maggie came and gave her a warm embrace in greeting.
"It's been awhile since we've seen you, so Maggie insisted we stop by and make sure you were OK," Hannibal said, grinning around his ever present cigar, "So, how's this pregnant lady doing?"
Nancy laughed, "Probably better than the other pregnant lady you've visited today," she said knowingly, "I'm assuming Amy's still pregnant, since I haven't heard otherwise . . ." Amy Peck was 9 plus months pregnant. She was now over a week past her due date, and getting crankier with each passing day.
Maggie nodded, "Amy goes in for an ultrasound today. I think Dr. Phillips will schedule her for induction soon."
"Well that has to have Amy relieved," Nancy said.
Maggie chuckled, "I don't think Amy will be relieved until the baby is here. This hot weather is miserable, especially when you're pregnant," she looked at Nancy appraisingly. Nancy was mid-term, and her belly was starting to become noticeable, "How have you been? We haven't heard from you all week . . ."
"I've been busy with work, and things . . ." Nancy said noncommittally.
Maggie glanced at Hannibal, then turned to Terra, who had been sitting quietly at the kitchen bar, "And how are you Terra?"
"I'm doing fine," Terra said respectfully, "Grams dropped me off while she went to clean at Mrs. Hubbard's house down the road."
Maggie nodded, "And how's your Mom?"
"OK," Terra said, looking at Nancy, "She's working at the diner this morning. I was just talking to Nan about singing with Mom at Charlie's," she added eagerly.
Hannibal looked at Nancy in surprise. It took some persuasion to even get her to sing for family and friends, "Really? That's great!" he said sincerely.
Maggie nodded in agreement, "It would be nice to get Nancy to entertain us on a more regular basis.
Nancy's face was turning red, "I said we'd give it a try, Terra," she said carefully, "I'm not making any promises. I don't do real well with crowds."
Maggie patted Nancy's shoulder encouragingly, "It just takes practice - you'll do fine."
Maggie glanced about, as Terra had done just a few minutes earlier, "Where's HM - isn't he home yet?" she asked in surprise.
"No," Nancy said in answer, "He called last night and said he thought he'd be home this morning, but it's 11 now, so I'm guessing he won't make it. Uncle keeps changing plans . . ."
Maggie looked at Hannibal, "Is the General looking for another pilot, or just planning on usurping HM's services indefinitely?"
Nancy jumped in, "He's already told Uncle to find another pilot."
Hannibal nodded agreement, but looked concerned, "That's how I understand it. Unfortunately, I don't know how long it's going to take to find someone else. As far as I know, Stockwell hasn't even gotten any applicants yet, let alone done any interviewing."
Nancy sighed dejectedly. The two months following the Team's last mission had been wonderful. Murdock was home on a regular schedule, and their lives had actually been almost normal. But the loss of the jet pilot had returned at least the Murdock household topsy-turvy, again. Nancy had seen her husband only briefly in the last month, a day here and there, and it didn't look like there was any end in sight.
Nancy decided to change the subject, talking about Murdock's absence just made her miss him more, "Have you seen BA yet today?" she asked.
Hannibal shook his head, "Mrs. B. called before we left for Face and Amy's, said that she needed some things from the grocery store and couldn't get hold of BA. We checked at the community center and the garage, but he wasn't either place."
"Oh, I think you have a pretty good idea where he is," Maggie said quietly.
Nancy turned and looked out the window at the old Chrysler pulling in the driveway. She turned to Terra, "I think you're ride's here, kiddo," she said and watched as Blanche got out of the car and headed towards the back door.
Looking at Maggie, she smiled and said, "I would think BA would just come clean about what's going on with Char - it's not like we don't all know he's been seeing her."
Maggie shrugged, "I don't know. In some ways I think BA has some very traditional ideas. He and Char have known each other for a long time, and it's taken him awhile to admit even to himself how he feels about her. It'll take him awhile longer to admit it to his family."
Blanche came walking in, "Well, you certainly have a busy household," she said to Nancy, "I hope Terra hasn't been too much trouble."
Nancy smiled, "Of course not, Blanche. Though she can be a bit pushy," she said, looking at Terra with a stern smile.
Terra grinned impishly, and grabbed her grandmother's hand, steering her out of the house, "Let's get out of Nancy's hair, Gram. She's got lots to do," Terra wanted to make sure Nancy had no opportunity to back out of her agreement. She waved, "Thanks for the company, Nan. I'll have Mom give you a call later."
Blanche looked railroaded, and waved absently, "Well, it was nice seeing you, anyways."
Hurried goodbyes were exchanged all around as Terra hustled Blanche out the door.
Maggie turned back to Nancy, her eyes dancing, "So, exactly how did Terra convince you to sing at Charlie's?"
Nancy sighed, "Let's just say she can be very persuasive. I think Charlie and I are going to have to have a little talk," Nancy related her understanding of the 'deal' Charlie had made with Jazz.
Maggie and Hannibal exchanged knowing looks. Nancy had been involved in getting Jasmine out of the bad situation she'd been in a few months back, and she still seemed to feel responsible for her.
"Well, I think it's a terrific idea," Hannibal said, "now we'll have something to do on weekends."
Nancy shook her head, "I haven't made any promises yet - I just said we'd give it a try. Jazz may still decide she's better off with someone else."
Maggie recalled their previously interrupted conversation, and switched gears abruptly, "Was there something you needed BA for, Nancy?"
"I talked to him briefly yesterday about doing the lawn for me. He said he'd come over to do it today," she replied, looking out at the overgrown yard. The large old farmhouse sat in the middle of a fairly wide horseshoe-shaped drive. Often too wet to mow effectively, during dry weather, when other people gave up mowing scorched grass, their lawn was green and lush and growing at an alarming rate. Murdock hadn't been home long enough in the last month to get the mowing done, and the thought of bouncing over the uneven lawn made Nancy cringe. So, she'd asked BA if he would take time to do it, and he had willingly agreed.
"If BA said he'd do it, I'm sure he'll be by eventually," Hannibal said.
Nancy nodded, "Oh, I don't doubt he'll show up, I was just wondering when. I need to run out and get groceries, but I hate to leave when he's coming."
"We're headed into town," Maggie offered, "We can pick up whatever you need and drop it off on our way back home. We need to pick up some groceries for tonight."
Hannibal straightened, "Yea, we're grilling steaks tonight, and everyone's comin' over for dinner at about 5."
Nancy smiled, "If you don't mind picking a few things up for me I'd really appreciate it," she handed Maggie her grocery list, "Steak sounds good, but I've got some things to get done tonight . . . I'm not sure I'll be able to make it. It kinda depends if HM makes it home," she looked at the clock again.
"It's still early - they're probably just running a little late," Maggie said with an understanding smile.
Nancy walked with Maggie and Hannibal to the door, "I'll see you later. Thanks, again, for the grocery service!"
Hannibal nodded, "Not a problem. We'll see you in a little bit."
Nancy waved until they were out the drive, then went back into the house, heading into her office in the front room. She had been doing quite a bit of her work from home lately, and had a full office set up, with computer, fax, and extra phone line. She figured it was best to keep busy, otherwise she'd sit around feeling sorry for herself because HM hadn't made it home.
Maggie waved at Nancy as they pulled out of the drive and headed into town, then turned and looked at her husband, "That girl has been down right unsociable when Murdock's gone," she said, concern edging her voice, "It's like she retreats into her own little world."
Hannibal shrugged, "Nancy's always been independent," he said, "it's just her way of dealing with his absence – she throws herself into work. I don't see where it's anything to worry about."
"It's more than that, John," she said, "she wasn't like this before, when you were all gone. Something is different this time. I'm worried about her . . . and Murdock."
"I'm tellin' you, Maggie," Hannibal said certainly, "Nancy and Murdock will get through this, just like they always have. You're worrying about nothing."
"I hope you're right."
About 15 minutes after everyone had left, Nancy heard tires crunching on the gravel in the drive and stood to look out the window. She saw Murdock getting out of a black sedan with his bag. He waved to the driver as the car backed out, then turned and walked towards the front door. A huge smile lit her face, and she hurried out to meet him.
She stood at the top of the steps on the porch, her arms crossed, but a beaming smile still on her face, "Hey, I was beginning to wonder if you'd show up today or not."
He jogged up the steps, dropped his bag next to her and put his arms around her waist, "Sorry I'm late, Short Cake," he said, kissing her lingeringly, "I'm beginning to think that your Uncle is incapable of sticking to a schedule. Which really surprises me coming from a four star General."
"I'm just glad you're home," she said, looking into his warm brown eyes, "I've missed you so much . . ." she added quietly.
He ran a finger along her chin, "I missed you, too," they kissed again, and Murdock pulled back, his eyes dancing with mischief, "Come on, let's go inside so I can grope you properly."
He picked up his bag, and they walked into the house arm in arm.
In the house he dropped his bag once again, this time by the living room couch, and turned, gathering Nancy into a bear hug, and burying his face in her hair, "You smell delectable," he said.
Nancy smiled, snaking her arms around his waist and looping her thumbs through his belt loops, then groaned as her belly gave a sudden lurch.
He stepped back a bit, "I even felt that one," he said in surprise.
Nancy chuckled, "I guess the baby's glad you're home, too!"
He leaned down and talked to her belly, "How're you doin', petey?" he asked playfully, then added with mock sternness, "You gotta take it easy on your mama there, little one."
She laughed, as her belly rolled again in response, "I think petey is saying 'hello'," she said, then looked at him hopefully, "and maybe wondering if you're gonna be stickin' around awhile?"
He straightened and shrugged, "I think so. Your Uncle has meetings in DC for the next few days."
"Good," Nancy said, "Maybe he'll find a new pilot while he's there."
Murdock grinned, "We can hope."
"Maybe we should start looking ourselves," she suggested, "I'm tired of living alone."
Murdock looked at her ruefully, "I talked to the General about it again. He said he has Carla working on finding a replacement pilot. Hopefully it won't take too much longer."
His face broke into a suggestive grin, "Besides, you're not alone now - and we do have a lot of catching up to do." He leaned down, stopping her reply with a kiss, which deepened and became urgent. It had been nearly a week since they'd seen each other, and they were both feeling the desire to be close.
Nancy took off his ever present baseball cap and dropped it on the end table, while he started unbuttoning her shirt. Neither one noticed the van pulling in the drive, and only realized they had company when BA slammed through the back door, "Hey, little mama - you home?"
Murdock dropped his head onto Nancy's shoulder with a moan, "Doesn't anybody knock anymore?"
Nancy chuckled, removing his hands, and buttoning her shirt, "I think this will have to wait."
Murdock raised his head slightly, looking into her sky blue eyes, a broad smile on his face, "We could just keep going, even big, ugly mudsuckers can take a hint."
Nancy shook her head and ducked out of his embrace, "We're in here BA," she called.
BA came through the dining room, "Hey, man, when did you get home?"
Murdock sighed and followed his wife into the dining room, "About 10 minutes ago," he answered.
"General's got you on a short leash lately," BA commented, "When he gonna find another pilot?"
Murdock shrugged, "Can't be too soon," he said. A mischievous grin lit his face, "You know, BA, if you'd waited another five minutes, I'd have had my wife naked and in a very embarrassing position."
Nancy reached out to punch him on the arm as he walked by to go into the bathroom.
"I'm gonna take a shower," Murdock said, dodging her blow, "A cold one," he added with a grin, before closing the door.
BA looked at the closed door, shaking his head. Then he turned back to Nancy, "I'll go ahead and get started on the lawn. I just need the key to the shed."
"It should be on the peg board by the back door," she said, "I think it's labeled.
BA acknowledged with a nod, "I'll head out and get started," one of his rare grins crossed his face, "I'll be busy for awhile," he added as he walked towards the kitchen.
Nancy shook her head, smiling at the retreating back. When she heard the door slam again, she slipped into the bathroom. They did have a lot of catching up to do.
Half an hour later, Nancy and Murdock were upstairs lounging in bed. Murdock propped up on an elbow and looked out the window as BA made a pass around the front yard, and off to the side on the lawn mower. He turned and looked at his wife with a rueful grin, "Much as I'd like to stay up here for the rest of the afternoon, I really should go down and help the big guy finish up the lawn."
Nancy smiled and pulled him back down onto the bed, kissing him soundly, before agreeing regretfully, "Yes, I suppose you should go help . . ."
He gave her another lingering kiss before he swung his legs out of bed and started pulling on his clothes, "With both of us working on it, it shouldn't take long," he turned as Nancy sat up and put her arms around his chest, leaning her head on his shoulder. He smiled at her and kissed her nose, "Then we can pick up where we left off."
Less than an hour later, Murdock and BA had finished up the lawn, and Hannibal and Maggie were pulling in the drive with the groceries. Nancy went out to the car, where BA and Murdock were already helping Hannibal and Maggie pull bags out of the back seat. They each grabbed a bag and headed into the house.
In the kitchen, Nancy dropped her bags by the pantry and indicated two glasses of milk on the counter, "Those are for you," she said to Murdock and BA. Turning to Hannibal and Maggie, she asked, "Can I get either of you anything?"
Hannibal shook his head, "Nope, we've got to get headed home. I need to get the grill started. Remember, 1700 hours! You will be able to make it won't you?" He looked at Nancy quizzically.
Nancy nodded, "We'll plan to be there, Hannibal."
Maggie put her bags on the counter and put an arm around Murdock, "I'm glad you're home, mister," she said warmly.
He smiled, "It's good to be home! Just hope I get to stay for a while."
Nancy pinched his butt as she walked by with bread to put away, "I second that!"
"Hey, watch that," Murdock said, glancing back at her.
"Couldn't do it if I wasn't watchin'!" Nancy replied lightly.
Maggie turned and started to help Nancy with the groceries, but Hannibal caught her arm, "C'mon, woman, we need to get home and get dinner started. The troops will land in just about two hours, and we've still got to unload our own groceries!"
BA drained his glass, "I should get goin', too," he said hastily, "I haven't checked on Mama yet today . . ."
Murdock looked at him quizzically, "Don't you live with your mother, big guy?" then he grinned and raised an eyebrow, "Or were you staying elsewhere last night?"
Nancy turned from the pantry and grinned at her husband conspiratorially, "Speaking of which, BA," she said innocently, "Are you bringing Charlotte with you tonight?"
BA stopped short, hesitated, and then said quietly, "She might be able to come, I'll hafta ask her."
Hannibal wasn't certain, but he would have sworn BA was blushing, "Bring her along," he said, clapping the big man on the back.
BA looked decidedly uncomfortable, "I'm not sure she'll be able to make it, ya know, she got a lotta things goin' on."
"Aw, I'm sure if you ask her, she'll be there, big guy," Murdock said encouragingly, "she seems to think you're pretty special - though I'm not sure why," he added, his brow furrowing.
BA growled at the pilot, and Murdock judiciously stepped behind his wife.
Nancy shook her head, laughing, "Honestly, HM, using your wife to shield you from a large, angry man is pretty low," she chastised calmly.
Murdock kept his hands firmly on her shoulders, "You're not in any danger - even an irate, muscle-bound wrench-monkey wouldn't hurt a pregnant lady."
"I guess if I want anymore children I should protect my big-mouthed husband," she said, grinning.
BA relented, looking at Nancy, his dark eyes glittering, "I don't know why you wanna let the crazy man reproduce anyway - but I'll let 'im live. Just fo' you little mama," he turned and followed Hannibal and Maggie towards the door.
Murdock stepped around Nancy and followed BA, apparently feeling reckless, "So, is your girlfriend comin' or not?" he pressed.
BA turned suddenly and caught the pilot by the collar, lifting his feet off the ground, "Char and me're jus' friends, you got that, fool?"
Murdock nodded, "Yea, yea, just friends, got it." he said in a strangled voice.
BA dropped him to the floor and headed for the door, where Hannibal was standing with Maggie, watching the exchange with amusement.
Murdock rubbed his neck, then threw a look back at his wife before commenting, "You're 'just friends' like I 'just like' to fly." he said, then turned and darted behind Nancy before BA could get his hands on him again.
Hannibal decided to step in, and put a restraining hand on BA's shoulder, "Don't sweat it, BA, we all know you and Char are just friends," lucky for Hannibal BA still had his attention on Murdock and didn't see him roll his eyes, "You can get even with Murdock sometime tonight, when he's not looking."
Murdock saw it though, "You don't believe that any more than I do, Colonel," he said accusingly.
"We better get going," Hannibal said hastily, "We'll see you in a couple hours." Hannibal turned and steered Maggie out the door. BA hesitated for a moment, before following them. Nancy and Murdock brought up the rear, walking out on the back deck and waving goodbye as the others left.
She turned to him when they were alone, "Why do you do that?"
He looked at her innocently, "You're the one who started it."
"No, I didn't," she corrected, "You did."
"Oh, yea," he said with a smile, "But you didn't hesitate to step in."
She sighed, "I know, but then you always have to push him 'til he wants to pound you," she pointed out, "I was content to get him to relent and ask Char to come. Then you have to go irritate him about the whole thing."
Murdock leaned on the railing, "I don't see what BA's big hang-up is. So she's a white girl. If he loves her what difference does it make?"
Nancy shook her head, "She's not a 'white girl'. Honestly, you're the most politically-incorrect person I know."
He grinned, "It's part of my charm," he said, "besides, what would you call her?"
"She's biracial," Nancy said, "You know that."
"Yea, well, she's very light, then," he said flippantly.
Nancy leaned on the railing next to him and looked out across the yard, "I just don't understand why people have to get so hung up on what color someone is," she said reflectively, "I guess it's just way too easy to categorize people based on how they look. Heck, every form you fill out wants to know 'what' you are. It's crazy."
"Naw, I'm crazy – that's just bureaucracy," he squeezed his wife's shoulders, "It'll all work out. BA just has to make up his mind that it's what he wants. He'll come 'round, I just hope Charlotte has the patience to wait him out."
She turned and looked at him, "BA's worth it," she said, "I think Char will stick around until he sees the light."
Murdock straightened and looked at his watch. He raised an eyebrow at his wife, "We have a couple of hours before we have to be at Hannibal and Maggie's," he said suggestively.
Nancy laughed and began walking into the house, "I'm up for a little exercise if you are," she said, glancing over her shoulder.
"I'm always up for that kind of exercise," he said, grinning, "No pun intended!"
Nancy laughed and turned, running into the house with Murdock close behind.