Time Frame: Pre-series, shortly after the Team's escape from Fort Bragg.

Disclaimer: The A-Team belongs to several lovely people. I, alas, am not one of them, and will not be receiving any monetary gain from this offering.

Author's Note: I am a long-time fan of The A-Team, and while I never thought I'd end up writing fanfiction for it, here we are. This story has been languishing in my files for a couple of years now. I had originally planned to add at least one more chapter to it, but the muse became distracted and has yet to be enticed to return. HOWEVER, after re-reading it recently, I realized it could stand satisfactorily enough just as it was. With that in mind, there will be 4 chapters total for now and I'll be updating every few days or so. Hope you enjoy!

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It wasn't the jungle. There was too much steel and glass and cement for that, not to mention too little humidity. But the distinctions between where he'd been and where he was had begun to blur days ago. Or maybe it was weeks now. In all honesty, he had no idea how long he'd been searching; how long they'd been gone.

How long he'd been alone.

Murdock lengthened his strides, physically shying away from his own thoughts. Perhaps it was a good thing time had become a lost concept to him. If it hadn't, he would be forced to put a number on how long the Team had been unaccounted for and with that number would come other truths. Truths that involved facing reality, accepting loss, dealing with grief.

Failure.

Murdock started running. It was impossible to gain any speed with so many people on the sidewalk. Their bodies buffeted him, like the clawing undergrowth of the jungle, slowing his progress. Preventing his escape. Keeping him from his friends.

Panic swept over him along with a wave of lightheadedness. A half-formed thought flitted through his mind—something about food and the need to rest—but he dismissed it. He couldn't stop. Not now. If he stopped he was dead and the Team with him. That's the way it was in the jungle and this was a jungle. They could pour as much concrete on it as they wanted, but it wouldn't change anything. His friends were just as hunted here as they had been in Vietnam, and no amount of so-called civilization would change that. And as long as his friends were prey here, so was he.

Hands grabbed at him and he blindly jerked away. He backpedaled, stumbling over his own legs and falling against something solid. Voices swirled around him, which wasn't necessarily all that unusual these days, but somehow it felt different. Like they were talking to him, not about him. Asking him something.

Wanting him to talk.

The thought screamed on repeat through his brain, drowning out everything else. They wanted him to talk, to betray his friends. They all did. But he wouldn't. He wouldn't.

Mind straying to the piece of paper in his hand, he clutched it tight. He was trained to resist, but the man whose name and address were scrawled on that bit of paper was not. Murdock had clung to the note for hours now. After criss-crossing the country searching for leads on the Team, this man was his last hope. The only possible link left and the single reason he had come to Los Angeles. But if this man could truly lead Murdock to the Team, couldn't he also lead others to the Team as well, however unintentionally or unwillingly? The thought choked him.

What have I done?

Murdock curled his hand more fiercely around the slip of paper, fingernails biting into his palm. The voices and the bodies attached to them were pressing closer; shadows and lights flowing past him in dizzying patterns.

Stay back. Don't touch me.

Murdock thought he screamed it, but that was impossible. His jaw was clenched too tight, his brain too fixated on the need for silence.

Can't speak. Can't tell them anything. Can't give the Team away. Can't talk. Can't. Won't.

It was the last clear thought Murdock had before the cement-bound jungle floor rushed upward, swallowing him in darkness.

XxXxXxXxXxX

The new patient in Room 104 was ruining Angie McCabe's night. She had twenty-two years experience as a nurse. Had her first baptism of fire working in a Chicago OR, and her second in an Army EVAC hospital in Korea. Six years ago, having seen enough of people's insides, she'd had the brilliant idea to apply for a supervisory position in the V.A. hospital's psychiatric wing. By some cosmically entertaining twist of fate, she'd landed the job and now, here she sat. Twenty-two years worth of carefully crafted walls starting to crack.

All because of the new patient in Room 104.

Oh, she wasn't on the verge of tears or at risk of being found huddled in a corner due to free-flowing emotions. But she wasn't professionally detached either. Captain H.M. Murdock had ceased being her patient and had become a person at exactly eighteen-thirty-eight hours that evening, and his case was like a scab she couldn't stop herself from scratching.

He didn't fit. He was non-verbal (by choice as far as the medical professionals could tell) and severely depressed. Were it not for the flourish of paranoid anxiety that had reared its head he might well have been declared catatonic. He was twenty pounds underweight and, until the day shift staff had forced the issue, woefully unkempt. As far as the powers-that-be could divine, he'd been living on the streets since his return from Vietnam eleven weeks ago. Clearly incapable of attending to his own needs or functioning in the real world, the man was a classic commitment case. And yet he didn't belong. The moment his eyes had locked on hers, she'd known.

Angie McCabe had looked into the eyes of many an insane man—Captain H.M. Murdock was not one of them. He was so sane it chilled her. If anything, there was too much sanity in his eyes and undeniable intelligence. Which is why Angie found herself sitting at her desk at twenty-hundred hours pondering the middle distance while she chewed the daylights out of her fingernail.

She hadn't chewed a fingernail over a patient since she'd been an intern. A wise head nurse had spotted her all those years ago and promptly informed her that not only was it an unsanitary habit, but an impractical one. The human body just didn't have enough fingernails to go around when you had a job like theirs. She hadn't chewed a single nail since.

Until tonight.

With an angry huff, Angie got to her feet and strode down the barren hospital hallway. Straight to Room 104. She stared at the door with its small reinforced glass window and weighed her options. She could force this Captain Murdock back behind the partition in her mind where she kept all her patients. Or she could let his status as a person stand and admit that, for whatever reason, he mattered to her. She knew the right answer. It was the same choice the head nurse had put before her all those years ago. Tests were so simple when you knew the answers.

Now, if she could just figure out when hard-nosed professional Angie McCabe had decided she didn't want simple…

Sighing with less aggravation than she really thought the decision warranted, she unlocked the door to Room 104. Her manicurist was going to hate her for this.