Duty Is Color Blind

Disclaimer: I do not own The A Team movie or television series or any of the delightful characters found on The A Team.

AN: Occurs after "The Sucker Punch Never Came" and "The Hospital Nurse Affair"

Chapter 1 But Not Captain Murdock

"Our client is a Nam vet."

Hannibal swiveled in the van seat and looked at each man in turn, letting the words sink in. He knew that fact alone would encourage them to give him their best.

"Served two tours as a gunner. Corporal First Class in the Army Air Corps. Purple Heart recipient. Wounded in 68 near Hue." The Colonel noticed Murdock raise his eyebrows in recognition of the location name and year. His eyes clouded with an onslaught of memories.

"Returned to the States, started a family and owns a small plane rental/tour business." The pilot's smile returned, memories buried again, at the mention of the light aircraft dimension of the business.

"Our client's oldest son, Jermaine, has been kidnapped. The group who has him wants his father to make a trip to Mexico for special cargo. He refused them until now."

"What does he want us to do, Colonel?" Murdock stared into Hannibal's eyes, a small smile beginning to play over his lean face.

"What do you think you gonna be doin', fool? You the only one here can fly one a them birds." B. A. growled and glared into the rear view mirror.

"And while Murdock is doing that, we'll be liberating our client's son. Turn left here, B. A." Hannibal motioned with his cigar down a narrow dusty road. At the end, gleaming under the afternoon sun was a corrugated steel hangar, three small passenger planes and a helicopter.

As B. A. parked the van, a short thin black man came out to meet them. Holding out his hand to greet the man, Hannibal stepped out of the vehicle.

The two men shook hands. "Colonel John Smith, I presume?" The black man's voice was businesslike.

Face, B. A. and Murdock followed, each man stretching his arms and legs from the long trip.

"Langston Bartholomew, I would like you to meet the rest of the team. This is Templeton Peck. We call him Face. The man with all the gold is B. A. Baracus and over there, leaning against the van, is H. M. Howling Mad Murdock, our pilot."

Murdock had been frowning ever since he heard the name "Langston Bartholomew." Hands in his pants pockets, squinting at the client in puzzlement, he seemed to be trying to remember something.

The Colonel detailed the terms of the agreement. "You pay us one hundred thousand dollars plus you ensure the plane used to make the special delivery has the fuel it needs to get to Mexico and back again."

Bartholomew was staring at Murdock, undisguised hatred displayed on his face. His eyes swept up and down the lanky pilot before he said, "I'll have the money for you before the end of the week, Colonel Smith, but it will be for the services provided by three men, not four. I will not tolerate having Captain Murdock on this airfield or in one of my planes."

It took only one minute for Bartholomew's words to register with Murdock. He frowned in confusion. Without a word, he straightened from slouching against the van and got in, closing the door after him.

B. A. and Face glanced at each other, surprised by the client's vehement tone and demand. B. A. glowered at Bartholomew, a look which was returned.

Hannibal removed the cigar from his mouth. With flinty blue eyes, he addressed the client. "When you asked for the A Team, you enlisted all four of us. None of the rest of us can fly a plane. Captain Murdock can. He either is allowed to perform his duty in this mission or the deal is off."

The airfield owner set his jaw. A muscle twitched as he clenched and unclenched his teeth. Several moments of silence went by in an impasse between the client and the Colonel.

"You think it over and let us know what you decide. It's all of us or none of us, Mr. Bartholomew." Hannibal motioned for B. A. and Face to get back in the van. "You know how to get in touch."

Murdock was gazing out the window toward the airplanes when Face took his rear seat position in the van. The pilot would not look at any of his friends. B. A. reversed the van and drove down the dirt road.

"Well, that goes down in the books as a strange encounter." Face broke the silence after two minutes.

"Yeah. What's the man's problem wit' you, fool?" B. A. glanced back in the rear view mirror at Murdock.

The pilot shrugged, continuing to stare out the window.

"It's obvious he knows you from Viet Nam. He called you Captain. I realize your reputation in country was pretty spectacular but it's been ten years. I didn't mention your rank and he definitely has a dislike for you." Hannibal probed Murdock's brooding silence but got no response.

"Come on, Murdock, where do you know him from? Maybe we can straighten it out and get on with the mission." Face touched the pilot on the shoulder. Murdock startled as if awakened from a deep sleep.

"I . . . I don't know. It has to be from Nam but I can't remember. When you introduced us, there was something about his name . . ." The pilot shook his head in frustration.

"Well, the ball is in his court now. He has to decide if his son's return is more important than anything he has against you." Hannibal leaned back in the passenger seat and closed his eyes. "We'll go back to the motel and wait for him."