A/N: Rated M for mature content. This is a Vietnam-era story and I would not be true to the era or the locale if I softened the language or the reality of the Vietnam conflict. This story contains violence, rape, death, swearing and sex. It also contains a search for the better things in life despite all of that.
This story is COMPLETE and I will be posting another chapter every two to three days until it's all published.
Disclaimer: I do not own the A-Team and I make no money from this.
Pushing the Envelope
Summary: Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith's alpha team is like no other at Nha Trang. Small, agile and lethal they have the best mission record on base. They also get in the most trouble. The band of misfit soldiers that he's assembled includes Captain HM 'Howlin' Mad' Murdock, who's prowess in the air, genius in black ops, and natural, quiet leadership ability have made him an indispensible part of Hannibal's team. But when he's lovesick, he can be a real pain in the ass to deal with.
And Murdock's current love interest turns out to be a young, female CIA agent, Sydney Wilson. She creates a whirlwind of lust, longing and distrust when she arrives on the scene. Hannibal's problem is that her usefulness in reconnaissance actually seems to outweigh the fact that she's a troublesome woman.
Can Hannibal utilize another misfit to the advantage of the US in this conflict? Maybe. But Sydney has secrets and agendas of her own that may just lead to the downfall of Smith's A-Team.
Third full-length story in my Decent into Darkness series. Follows Falling in Love with a Lie. It is very helpful, thought not absolutely necessary, to read the previous stories in the series first.
Prologue It's a Small Vietnam After All
Sydney Wilson hurried along the edge of the main airfield at the Da Nang Air Base, scanning the choppers dotting the area. The sergeant had assured her she couldn't miss the pilot she needed.
Catching sight of flaming red hair, she hurried toward the young man.
"Excuse me? Captain? The sarge told me you were flying to Saigon. Do you have room for one more passenger?"
"Shouldn't be a problem," he said with a grin. "Especially not for a little peanut like you."
Unable to feel insulted by such an agreeable guy, Syd said, "Great! When will you be leaving?"
"Don't know," the pilot said. "We got roped into this taxi duty kinda last minute. Some bigwig needs a ride and we got pegged because we were headed south – forget the fact that we weren't headed anywhere near Saigon."
"Look at it this way, Ky," a middle-aged man said, clapping the redhead on the shoulder. "The longer we play taxi, the less time we spend being shot at."
"Personally I think we should charge a fare – say something like day passes to Saigon. Then we could spend the evening in the big city." This from a compact, powerfully-built young man who jumped down from the hold of the chopper.
"I'm afraid I can't get you any passes," Syd said.
"Just ignore Cahill. We all do," the pilot said with a smirk, ducking as Cahill took a swing at his head. "I'm Kyle Wright, by the way. What's your name?"
Shaking the offered hand, she answered, "Sydney Wilson. It's nice to meet you, Kyle."
"Justin Cahill," the other young man said, pushing forward with a wide smile. Kyle laughed and nudged him sideways as he shook Syd's hand.
"We call him 'Horndog,'" Kyle said teasingly.
Cahill smirked. "Better than 'Virgin,' man!"
Sydney chuckled as the third man stepped forward and gave her a little bow. "Don't mind the boys, ma'am. They're mostly harmless. My name's Bill Harris."
Kyle looked around. "Yeah, Bill here's the mature one of the crew. Where the hell did Petey go? Damn, what's his name again?"
"Mitch," Harris supplied. "Mitch Lang. You know you sound more and more like Murdock every day, Ky? And that ain't necessarily a good thing."
Stunned, Syd stared at Harris. "Did you say 'Murdock' as in Captain HM Murdock?"
The three men turned and stared at her. Kyle found his voice first. "You know him?"
"Yes," Syd said. "Obviously you do too."
"Hell, Murdock's the reason we're together," Cahill said.
"Are you all stationed at Nha Trang?" Syd asked.
"We are now," Harris said. "I started out here in Da Nang as crew chief for Murdock. When he transferred to Nha Trang, he kinda drug me along."
"That's 'cause Colonel Smith promised Murdock his preferred crew, and everybody knows you're the best crew chief in 'Nam, Bill," Kyle said, and proceeded to explain the arrangement to Sydney.
Kyle flew routine missions as air chief, but when Murdock had to fly missions for Smith's alpha team, Kyle would take the co-pilot seat and let Murdock take over the crew. The arrangement had worked pretty well so far.
"So tell me," Kyle said. "How do you know Murdock, little lady?"
Syd stared at Kyle, stymied. Talking about Murdock threatened to overwhelm her with the intense muddle of emotions that she had managed to bury since leaving him in Cam Ranh. Unable to comprehend her relationship with Murdock herself, she was totally ill-equipped to articulate it to someone else. She decided it was safest to be very vague.
"We met a few weeks ago while I was at Nha Trang and got to be… friendly." She shrugged off her discomfort, adding, "I thought I was headed to Nha Trang myself, but now it looks like I'm going to Saigon, instead."
Syd waved the orders that she had received only an hour before, relieved to allow her more immediate problem to push the quandary of Murdock into the background. She was still perplexed by the implications. For the last several weeks she had been in Laos for training. She had thought she was being prepared for assignment to Nha Trang as a recon agent. Now she wasn't so sure.
"Well something tells me Murdock's gonna be real disappointed you won't be visiting him," Kyle said with a wide grin.
Knowing the heat in her cheeks was a dead giveaway, Syd had to admit that she was disappointed, too.
She flashed Kyle an impetuous smile. "Maybe you could deliver a message to HM for me."
"Tell him Syd, spelled S-Y-D, says 'hi,'" she said, adding as an afterthought, "and tell him to stay outta trouble."
Kyle snorted. "You do know Murdock, don't ya?" His brow furrowed. "Do I really hafta spell your name for him?"
She just nodded, biting back a sudden urge to retract the message. It was just a friendly little message. Perfectly harmless. Kyle's responding smile seemed vaguely teasing. Or was she imagining things? Geez, just talking about Murdock was making her act like a flighty school girl. Get a grip, Sydney.
With a chuckle, Kyle said, "Ok. I won't ask."
Smiling tightly at him, Syd said, "I really appreciate that."
Kyle's eyes focused behind her. He whirled a finger in the air.
"Looks like our fare's here, boys. Let's get this bird ready to fly."
Turning, Syd was surprised to see Peter Quinn, her former FBI supervisor, striding toward the chopper. Focus, Sydney. She pushed further thoughts of Murdock aside as she turned to face him. Quinn's brow furrowed as he approached.
"Wilson? What are you doing here?"
When she had left him, not even two hours before, she had been headed to Nha Trang. That had been the plan all along and Syd suspected Quinn wouldn't be happy to hear of her change in destination. Despite appearances, she did still answer to him. Kind of.
"I'm hitching a ride to Saigon," Syd said.
Quinn took her arm and pulled her aside, hissing, "I thought you were going to Nha Trang?"
"So did I. Until I received this."
She handed Quinn her orders. He skimmed them before handing them back.
"I wonder what's going on?"
Shrugging, Syd said, "Maybe there's something I need to do at CIA HQ before I get my formal assignment."
"I suppose that's a possibility." Quinn sounded doubtful. "I'll try to feel it out with Einstein when I get to Saigon. If I see him."
Einstein – for the life of her, Syd couldn't remember the guy's real name. But he had been the one who had pulled strings to get her reassigned to the CIA.
On Quinn's orders Sydney had accepted the change in employment. Quinn played the whole smuggling ring task force very close to the chest – even more so after what had happened in Da Nang – so Syd had no way of knowing if Einstein was a part of it or not. Quinn had made it quite clear that she was to trust no one.
Da Nang. She squelched her own feelings of personal guilt at the memory of what had happened. Half a dozen dead suspected smugglers wasn't exactly something to put on your resume. All the information she had developed during her undercover stint with the USO had slid down the tubes just like that.
"Wilson!" Quinn's sharp voice shook her out of her reverie. "I said, what's your plan of action once you get to Saigon?"
"Well, CIA HQ seems as good a place to sort out this little SNAFU as anywhere else. I'll work my way through official channels and see what needs to happen to make it to Nha Trang."
"It's worth a try," Quinn said, just as Harris ambled up to them.
"Your chariot awaits, folks. If you could hop in and get settled, I think Kyle's about ready to lift off."
Quinn held out a hand toward the chopper. "After you, Wilson."