"...free as a bird."
Decker wasn't really listening to the captain. He was watching the dust cloud from the A-Team's van as it disappeared in the distance, but the last words caught his attention. The slight suggestion of satisfaction in Captain Crane's voice as he said it wasn't lost on Decker, either. It was almost as if the captain was glad the team escaped.
"It's only a matter of time, Captain," he growled at his second-in-command, "until I clip those wings and The A-Team will be sitting in prison cage."
"Yes, sir," Crane dutifully answered, but there was a hint of doubt in his voice that hadn't been there three years ago when they had first started chasing Smith and his men.
Decker didn't press the subject, he wasn't sure if he wanted to. This assignment had started off personal. Smith was a do-gooding boy scout that had never fully understood what sacrifices needed to be made in order to win a war. Worse, he somehow had always managed to succeed without ever having to compromise those unrealistic ideals.
When Decker had heard that Smith's team had been responsible for the robbery at the bank of Hanoi, Decker had seen it as vindication. Proof that Smith wasn't as clean or honest as he pretended to be. All that "holier-than-thou" talk had been just that and as soon as he saw the opportunity, he and his team had turned out to be nothing more than common criminals.
After the Team's escape, Decker had followed the Smith's adventures in the underground. He hadn't been surprised that Smith portrayed himself as a Robin Hood-type hero, but Decker knew that it was as much an act as the good-guy bit he'd played in Nam. Half the reason he'd accepted that assignment of going after the team was for the satisfaction of being the one who showed the world who Smith truly was.
Three years of chasing later, it wasn't the lack of success that bothered Decker. Rather it was the gnawing fear that maybe - just maybe - Smith was everything he pretended to be. Maybe he was a Robin Hood out to help the little guy. Maybe he and his team had been set up. Maybe they were the good guys in the white hats.
But where did that leave him? Was Roderick Decker nothing more than the thug that Smith accused him of being? Was he Javert chasing after Jean Valjean? Was he destined to find his greatest failure instead of his moment of glory?
The cloud of dust faded away and Decker climbed into the car with a guttural curse.
He hated this new found introspection that had developed over the past several months. He hated the weakness that came with self-doubt. He hated the grudging respect for Smith that grew with each new escape.
Most of all he couldn't quite fight the feeling that he, too, was glad that Smith had gotten away.