Disclaimer: I do not own The A-Team movie or television series or any of the delightful characters found on The A-Team.
AN: I spilled something on my laptop keyboard and I'm not sure it has survived. I am using another computer and a handwritten story I had planned to publish after the two I am trying to finish. Hopefully, I will be able to retrieve the unfinished chapters and complete 'Every Thought Captive' and 'What Better Time To Remember?' without too much effort. Until then, I will be working on this one. Hope you like it.
Chapter 1 The Trouble With Vandals
Face sighed heavily as Murdock swung his long legs over the Corvette's closed passenger door and sank down into the seat.
"How many times do I have to ask you, buddy? Use the door. That's what it's meant for." He hadn't intended his voice to sound so angry but when he caught the beginning of a frowning pout on Murdock's face . . .
"Jeesh, muchacho. A li'l testy this morning'?" The pilot reached in the pocket of his bomber jacket and removed a white handkerchief. "If it makes ya feel any better . . . " Carefully he scrubbed the top of the door frame with it before returning it to his pocket. "There. See. No marks 'r scratches."
Face sighed again, this time with resignation. "That wasn't necessary. You know that. And I'm sorry. The thing is I just got off the phone with Father Maghill."
Murdock frowned deeper. "Why would that put ya in such a ugly mood? Thought ya liked him." Relaxing back into the seat, he propped his knees against the glove compartment and folded his arms over his chest.
"I do. He was the one who was most like a real father to me when I was growing up in the orphanage." Face started the engine and pulled out of the VA parking lot.
"Sooooo . . . what's got ya in such a ugly mood?" Murdock drew out the 'so' as he peered at the con man out of the corner of his eye. "'N' don' say ya ain' in a big ol' ugly mood b'cause I'm yer bestest buddy 'n' I can tell. So spill it."
To show he was paying attention, the pilot straightened up in his seat, cupped his left hand around his ear and tilted his head toward Face.
The con man looked away for a few moments. He knew he couldn't avoid answering the question. When Murdock got it in his mind that something was wrong with one of his team mates, and especially with Face, he continued to pry until the problem aired.
"There's nothing you can do about it, Murdock. I can't even think of a way to help. So drop it." Face looked straight ahead at the car in front of them and gritted his teeth against the arguments he knew were going to keep coming.
"Well, maybe if ya tried me, I could help ya think better. Gramma always said two heads're better 'n one." He turned his gaze on the con man and waited expectantly.
"Everyone's Gramma says that. It doesn't mean it helps all the time." The con man gripped the steering wheel tighter, knowing the pilot wouldn't rest until he knew exactly what was going on.
Thankfully Murdock knew better than to say something like "How would you know what Grammas say?" When you grew up in an orphanage, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, as well as grandparents, were definitions in a dictionary, not something you experienced firsthand. It hurt, and he knew and was grateful Murdock understood that.
"Ya know, I can always figure out a way t' call th' orphanage 'n' find out for myself. Or I'll tell Hann'bal 'n' he'll make ya tell. Maybe even with some o' th' angry mudsucker's muscle b'hind it." Seeing the blonde Lieutenant flinch at the mention of B. A.'s persuasive techniques, he hurriedly added, "I wouldn' really wanna do that but if ya don' leave me no choice . . . "
He let the statement trail off. Releasing his seat belt, he edged closer to the center console and gear shifter where Face's hand maintained a tense grip. "So c'mon." He moved slightly forward until he could make eye contact and raised his eyebrows.
Face groaned in frustration. "Get back in your own seat. If I stopped suddenly, you'd be over the hood and on the pavement. Okay already. I'll tell you but it's still not something I think you can help with." He rolled his eyes as Murdock eased himself back into his own seat.
"Alright. Father Maghill says vandals came in and destroyed a lot of the textbooks and classrooms in the orphanage school. They're going to need a couple thousand dollars or more to replace the books and repair the damage."
Even without looking at him, he could tell the news did not set well with his friend's sense of right and wrong. Glancing aside at Murdock, Face noted the deep frown and tension in his lower jaw.
"See? That's why I didn't want to tell you. Whoever did it was pretty thorough but at least they didn't set fire to any of the classrooms. Father Maghill is very upset and the kids . . . " He didn't want to describe the damage. What the vandals had done was beyond understanding.
Murdock interrupted him. "We gotta figure out a way t' help, Faceman. Maybe fin' out who did it 'n' make 'em pay. That ain' fair t' those kids t' do somethin' like that to their school." There was a dark dangerous coldness in the pilot's eyes. The fingers of his right hand curled into a fist.
Face was always surprised to see this side of his friend surface. It wasn't often but when it did, he tried to get Murdock through it as fast as he could.
"Yeah, well, I don't know how we could come up with that sum. Now, maybe we can find the vandals but if they're just neighborhood kids, they won't have any money to correct what they did." The con man heard the tap-tap-tap of Murdock's fingers on the open window sill and knew he was putting some thought into what he said.
Murdock's anger, kindled so quickly when he heard what the vandals had done, dissipated just as quickly. He smirked at the thought of some of the scams they had run together in the past. "What kind o' scam were ya thinkin' o' runnin' t' get that money, oh buddy o' mine? 'N' can I help?"
"I thought of that already. I can't run a scam for this," Face muttered.
"B'cause Father Maghill won' take kindly t' money got by any scam?" Murdock's disappointment was evident. "Well, then maybe a fundraiser o' some kind?"
It was Face's turn to smirk. "All the bake sales in the world aren't going to bring in that kind of money. Besides, who's going to bake the goodies? I don't think B. A. would want to wear an apron."
"Well, I ain' all that bad at cookin'. Maybe I could get Dani. She likes t' bake stuff. 'N' th' kids could help." It was Murdock's turn to sigh. "But yer right. You'd hafta have a whole bunch o' bake sales t' make even half o' what Father Maghill needs. We gotta think outside o' th' box." The pilot absently stared at the storefronts on his right as he continued to ponder the problem.
Minutes passed. Then Murdock's eye widened and he yelled, "Wait!"
Face startled with the sudden outburst. He narrowly missed veering off into a green BMW being driven by a pretty blonde with Farrah Fawcett hair and a dark tan. The con man tried to smile at her but she narrowed her eyes at him and shrilled, "Watch it, asshole!" before stomping on the gas and leaving him behind.
"I can't stop on a dime, buddy. And what do you mean by yelling like that and almost making me slam into that car?" Face slowed down and ran one hand through his hair in frustration.
"I got it, Faceman. I got it." Murdock grinned, oblivious to the near accident. He drummed his hands on his knees and started humming to himself.
"Well, are you going to share this brilliant idea of yours or do I have to guess?" Face almost hated to ask. He knew what that expression might mean. It could be a potential embarrassment to himself and whoever else was involved in Murdock's scheme.
"Did ya see that theater marquee back there? Th' one for 'Return t' Oz?'" Before Face could say a word, the pilot sat up straighter in his seat but kept talking, this time using his hands as well as his voice. "That got me thinkin' 'bout kid's movies. 'N' Shakespeare. 'N' th' stage."
"I'm not following you." The Lieutenant found a place to park a block away from Hannibal's current apartment and shut off the engine. Getting out, he motioned toward the sidewalk. "Tell me while we're walking. We're late already and Hannibal's going to make us both run the obstacle course twenty times if we don't hurry."
Murdock swallowed and, with the same cat-like movements he used to spring into the convertible, stood on the seat and leapt out.
"The door, Murdock! Use the door," Face mumbled, taking his friend by the elbow and moving him along.
A few seconds later when the Captain didn't divulge anything more about his plan, the con man frowned. "Weren't you going to tell me your idea?"
Murdock grinned broader and shook his head. "Not 'til we see Hann'bal 'n' th' Big Guy. Can' wait t' see th' looks on their faces. It'll be a blast! 'N' it's guar-an-teeeed t' make money!" He drew out the word 'guaranteed,' savoring each syllable with delight.
Face hoped he wasn't going to regret getting Murdock involved with helping Father Maghill and the children of Angel Guardians Orphanage. But from the giddy bounce in his friend's step and the way he was eagerly pulling him along to Hannibal's apartment, he was sure he might not enjoy what was coming.