A-Team: The Day That Decker Retired

AN: This is a (slight) AU based on my previous story 'Mr. Brightside'. You don't have to read that one to understand this one.

Chapter 1: Vacation is for Wimps

I, Colonel Roderick Decker, am not one to mince words. I hate the A-Team. I loathe them with extreme prejudice. Worse yet… I have to respect them. It isn't that I think they are better than me, no sir, but they have luck on their side. And, with everything else that's against them, they need it. I know they aren't guilty of the crime they're accused of. No one could be guilty of that and still help out as many people as they do. But it isn't my place to say whether they are guilty or not. No, it is my job to catch them. A job they make extremely difficult.

That is why I am following Captain Murdock and his girlfriend around during my vacation time.

Vacation. Ha. Who needs a vacation? If it wasn't for the brass shoving me off base with orders to 'get a life', I wouldn't be alone right now. Instead, I'd have Crane and the rest of my men stationed all along the roads leading in and out of this Podunk burg, waiting for the rest of the A-Team to show up. It doesn't matter how many times they tell me Murdock has no ties with the rest of the team, I know, I KNOW, that the pilot is in cahoots with Smith and his men. When I'd gotten word that Murdock's new girlfriend, some kind of mental health professional, had gotten him out of the VA and moved in with her, well, it had just been fate. She lived out in the boonies, and they'd have to come to this town for supplies eventually. And then I'd have them. All of them.

Of course, I don't expect to take them all on by my lonesome. But when I have them all in one place I'll call in the cavalry. So far, all I'd seen was the Captain's apparent fascination with all things shiny, and his girlfriend's- one Angie Barnes- fascination with him. Well, there was no accounting for taste. She seemed like a pretty sort. On the small side with blazing red hair and a matching pale complexion, she clung to the Captain's arm with the sort of tenacity that only lots of money or love could buy. And the Captain certainly wasn't loaded.

With a huff or frustration, I followed them back to the hacienda, the rest of the A-Team nowhere in sight. Hours later as the house fell dark I called it quits and started to climb down from my perch in a tree just outside Ms. Barnes' property line. A rustle of movement froze me in my tracks, still concealed within the leafy branches of the old oak.

With rising excitement, I watched the three black-clothed figures creep around to the back door. I swung the huge mobile phone off my shoulder and prepared to dial for backup. Then I frowned. The three figures were picking the lock on the back door. But if they were Captain Murdock's friends, wouldn't he give them a key? Or, at the very least, couldn't they just knock on the front door?

The cloud that had obscured the moon broke away and I saw the outline of an Uzi strapped across on of the intruder's backs. And then they were inside. Calling quickly for backup, I scrambled out of the tree and pulled my weapon. I froze. Should I go in after them?

A female scream from inside the house had me moving before I could weigh the ramifications. Their bedroom was upstairs in the corner. There was an overhang I could climb up on that would give me the advantage of surprise, at least. Tucking my pistol back in its holster, I used the lattice, covered in honeysuckle, to ascend to the second floor.

When I reached the overhang, I crept over to the window and looked in.

Two masked men had Captain Murdock in their grip. He was fighting them, clad only in his boxers, trying to get away despite the obvious difference in size. The third man, a woman actually, now that I saw her in full light, had tied the Captain's girlfriend to the headboard. Ms. Barnes had apparently fought them as well, a thin trickle of blood working its way down her temple as she fought weakly against the restraints.

"Let her go!" Captain Murdock demanded, still struggling, "She's got nothing to do with this!"

One of the men raised his gun and my stomach clenched, but he just hit the Captain with the butt of the weapon. Murdock fell unconscious, his head lolling limply as one of the intruders tied his hands behind his back while the other held him upright.

"Kill her and get rid of the evidence. Then get out of here," the smaller masked man ordered the woman, gesturing towards Ms. Barnes. The woman nodded shortly.

Even as the men dragged the Captain from the room, I moved. The window was unlocked and the last intruder had her back to me now, approaching the bed. The moment the men were out the door, I threw the window open and dove towards her, knocking her off her feet and away from her victim.

She rolled with the unexpected tackle, showing her training, and squirmed out from under me before I could tighten my grip. Thankfully I got ahold of her weapon, aiming it at her from my position by the bed.

Ms. Barnes mumbled, but I couldn't afford to check on her now.

"Freeze!" I croaked as the woman stood and went for something in her pocket. She kept moving so I shot her, hitting her high on her left thigh. She fell to the ground, her hand releasing what she'd been going for. A grenade.

The explosive rolled away from us, down the hall, as we scrambled for cover. I jumped towards the bed, grabbing the edge of the mattress as I leapt and pulling it up and over myself and Ms. Barnes. I had just enough time to curl my feet under when the grenade exploded.

The sound alone was enough to send me reeling, and I could feel shrapnel hitting the mattress. I prayed none would make it through. Finally, the roaring of the explosion was replaced by ringing in my ears and a peculiar crackling noise. Throwing the mattress off my back, I quickly jumped to my feet, the woman's rifle still in my hands.

I lowered the gun as I spotted her body on the floor, a large shard of wood neatly impaling her. The black material of her outfit had melted into her skin and was even now being licked by the fire that had already consumed what was left of the hallway.

I turned back to Ms. Barnes, my stomach sinking as I looked her over. She was unconscious, and I was grateful for it because the burns to her right leg looked excruciatingly painful. Apparently my heroics with the mattress had fallen a little short of the mark. Thankfully, everything else had been covered, so she was still alive.

Swinging the weapon across my left shoulder, I leaned over her to untie her hands from the headboard. Looking down, I froze.

It couldn't be.

Angelique Williams, the woman I'd nearly let get… hurt… in my pursuit of the A-Team. The woman they'd left behind to suffer when their enemies came looking. The woman for whom I'd broken a headboard the last time she was restrained.

She was Angie Barnes, Captain Murdock's girlfriend?

One of the few things I'd felt guilty for in my lifetime was this woman. I'd used her as bait, unsuccessfully, and she'd nearly paid the ultimate price.

But if they had abandoned her then, why was she with them now? At least, with one of them? And why had she gotten him out of the VA?

So many questions but so little time. The house was already protesting its misuse, boards creaking ominously as the flames and heat grew closer.

I untied her and hefted her over my shoulder. No time for finesse now; I had to have one hand free to climb down the latticework and hopefully get out of the house without the kidnappers noticing.

I made it safely out of the house and ran across the grassy lot to cover- under the trailing limbs of a weeping willow. Tucked behind the waving greenery, I could just make out the two kidnappers as they dragged a bound but screaming and hysterical Captain Murdock towards a waiting chopper.

"Angie! Angie, no!" I heard him scream as the crackling flames devoured the house, "Let me get her out, please!" he begged, twisting in their grip, his brown eyes wide and frantic.

"Shut up!" one of the men snapped, hitting him upside the head and making the Captain go limp for a moment, "She's already dead. We killed her before the fire ever started!"

"No," I saw him say, his voice negligible as he shook his head in denial, "No," he said again, louder, tears rolling down his face even as he sank to his knees. He hunched forward in their arms, a dead weight.

Suddenly he leapt to his feet and turned on them, his hands still bound behind his back.

"I'll kill you!" he screamed, his voice cracking, "I'll kill you all!" He fought them even as they wrestled him to the ground. When they had him pinned, he did something still more disturbing.

He laughed.

It wasn't a laugh of pleasure or even hopelessness. It was maniacal. Manic. Insane. It was a laugh that sent shivers down my spine and reminded me that the Captain belonged in the psycho ward of the VA.

As I watched them shove the still-giggling man into the back of the helicopter I shook my head.

They had no idea what they were getting into. For just a moment, I pitied them.