When Colonel Decker was first assigned to tracking and capturing the A-Team, he went to work studying all he could learn about the men, their methods, and their histories.
Captain H.M. Murdock was the biggest question mark in the whole affair. Colonel Lynch's comments were less than helpful ("The man is violent! And insane! And insanely violent!"), Dr. Richter stonewalled him (the one time Decker had managed to get the doctor on the phone, the man brusquely cited Doctor/Patient confidentiality before hanging up unceremoniously), and the various nurses and orderlies seemed rather fond of their patient, and suspiciously unconcerned about where he went every time he disappeared.
Decker disliked visiting hospitals in general, and mental wards in particular, but his duty was clear and his options were limited, so he bit the bullet, and went to see the elusive Captain Murdock.
He found the man in his room, clad in a straitjacket and what seemed to be a bed-sheet toga, an incongruous baseball cap topping off the ensemble.
"Captain Murdock?" He looked thinner, older, and sadder than his file photos, but there was no doubt it was the man in question.
"I'm Colonel Decker. I'd like to ask you a few questions about your old friends Smith, Peck, and Barracus."
"Nil nimium studeo, Caesar, tibi uelle placere."
"I have to admit my Latin is a bit rusty, Captain. Do you think we could switch to English for the time being?"
"Pedicabo ego uos et irrumabo…" was the only response, as Decker stepped out to speak with a nurse.
"And how is Captain Murdock today," asked the woman. "Still a Roman poet?"
"We were all forced to take Latin in school when I was young. Oh, how we hated it. I remember scribbling derogatory things about Cicero on my notebooks. It's sort of nice to hear Murdock reciting lyric verse, though…"
Decker stared at the woman, and she colored slightly and ceased her rambling.
"Will Captain Murdock be likely to return to modern times today?" Decker couldn't help the impatience coloring his voice. This whole thing was an apparent exercise in futility.
"It can be hard to judge. Sometimes these things only last a short while, and other times they can go on for weeks. I certainly prefer Catullus to the time he believed he was a skunk."
Decker wanted no more of this terrifying reminiscence, so he grunted his goodbyes, and turned to exit. As he passed Murdock's room, he could hear the man bellowing through the closed door.
"Siqua recordanti benefacta priora uoluptas est homini cum se cogitat esse pium…"
Colonel Decker was having a pretty good day, all in all. Yes, the A-Team had escaped once again, but there had been a minimum of military property damage, Smith hadn't had the chance to toss any verbal taunts in Decker's general direction, and Decker and his men had rounded up a veritable gang of hardened criminals.
Best of all, this time, there had been multiple witnesses who were willing to testify that they'd seen a crazy man in a battered leather jacket working with the A-Team. The liquor store owner who had been conned out of six kegs wouldn't stop ranting about the pseudo-British hustlers who had drained him dry. Two of the criminal flunkies were more than happy to describe the nut job that had delivered a beating while simultaneously belting out "Space Oddity." ("Actually, his voice wasn't half bad," the smaller of the two concluded.)
Last but not least, there was some blurry security video footage of Captain Murdock caught mid-conversation with Templeton Peck. Decker clutched his copy of the tape, smiled coldly, and entered Captain Murdock's room at the VA.
For a long moment, Decker thought he had the wrong room. The sole resident was clad only in a short white bathrobe, had an eye-catching mane of scarlet hair, and was carefully applying makeup in the mirror.
The long, bare, hairy legs, however, ended in a pair of familiar Chucks, and while the song being hummed was unfamiliar, the voice was not.
"Mick, you're here! The rest of the Spiders are nowhere to be found, and we're due on stage in ten minutes!" The British accent was beyond outrageous, but matched the makeup rather well.
"I'm here about the A-Team, Captain Murdock. We have multiple witnesses who can place you at the scene with your old comrades."
"Oh, but Mick, you aren't dressed! Do you need help with your makeup?" Murdock waved a small, lethal-looking brush alarmingly close to Decker's eyes.
"This act is getting very old, Captain. Cut the crap and tell me about the A-Team."
"I had to phone someone and I picked on you-oo-oo, hey that's far out so you heard him too-oo-oo," Murdock warbled away while gyrating in distracting and disturbing manner.
Decker stormed out, managing to run smack dab into the battle-ax nurse he made it a habit to avoid.
"Ma'am," he nodded, while disentangling himself as quickly as he could manage. The look of outrage on her face seemed to indicate that a speedy retreat was in order.
In the distance, a voice sang on, "There's a starman waiting in the sky…"
"They don't pay me enough for this," Decker mumbled to himself.
And then there was the time that Decker came to the VA and found a flock of harried nurses and orderlies fussing outside of Murdock's room. He figured that the A-Team had staged some sort of insane maneuver to break the man out, and strode forward to investigate the scene.
Murdock was in his room, sitting on his bed and reading a book like he hadn't a care in the world. His bed, at present, was the only piece of furniture in the room not attached to the ceiling.
Decker blinked and looked again, and dear God, how on earth had Murdock managed to get the dresser up there? Weren't there laws of physics, or some such?
"Oh, hello Colonel. How nice of you to come and visit! Would you like a spot of tea?" Murdock fluttered his eyelashes coyly.
"I…" Decker stared up at the furniture, wondering just how secure everything was. It was all too easy to visualize his ignominious death by falling furniture. "I'm here to talk to you about the A-Team."
Like a deadly portent, the trashcan hanging precariously above Decker's head came crashing down, landing not two inches from his boots. He glanced at the unconcerned Murdock, eyed the rest of the gravity-defying furniture, and made a swift executive decision.
"I will be back, Captain. And there will be questions." Decker pushed his way through the crowd of confused hospital employees, and wondered just when it was that he himself had fallen down a rabbit hole.
Probably about the time he pulled the A-Team assignment.
"Hello, Colonel." It was one of the regular nurses on the floor, the small, smiling blonde one. Last name started with a "T", but her clipboard blocked him from checking.
"If you're here to speak with Captain Murdock, I'm afraid today is not your day," she smiled sympathetically.
"Let me guess. He's donating a kidney to a General, or perhaps he's infected with Ebola, or his imaginary dog has rabies, or…"
The nurse laughed. "Oh no, he's actually here for once. It's just not a good day to see him."
"Oh, really?" The hint of thunder in Decker's voice showed no sign of registering on the woman's radar.
"He's having one of his bad days."
"I have heard every excuse in the book, miss, and this is the poorest one yet. I will see Captain Murdock, and I will see him now."
"I'm not stopping you, Colonel."
Decker stormed off to Murdock's room, eyes peeled for any sign of the A-Team, who, no doubt, were scheming to free their compatriot this very day. Heavy artillery was bound to be involved.
The corridors held neither wisecracking colonels, angry men weighted down with jewelry, nor smooth talking pretty boys, and Captain Murdock was indeed in his room.
Murdock was sitting on the floor, hunched against the wall, barefoot and silent. He lacked both wacky props and bizarre costuming, and was dressed simply in a t-shirt and khakis. He stared rather blankly ahead, and shivered intermittently. He showed no sign of recognizing Decker's presence in his room.
"Captain Murdock." The man didn't even blink. "Captain Murdock. CAPTAIN MURDOCK, ON YOUR FEET." Decker was beginning to consider a good kick, when he felt someone come up behind him.
"As I was saying, today isn't one of his good days. You're not going to get anything out of him." The perky blonde nurse was back, her smile both kind and knowing. She knelt down next to Murdock, checked his eyes, and took his pulse. With a quick caress of his thinning hair, she rose again, and led Decker out of the room. She closed the door gently behind them.
"His usual bright nature notwithstanding, Mr. Murdock does have some real problems, Colonel. He has his bad days, as most patients do. Dr. Richter had an emergency with one of his outpatients, but he'll be in as soon as he can. Until then, we'll just let Murdock be."
The nurse strode off to continue her rounds, leaving Decker standing there alone, feeling put out. He peered in the little window to Murdock's room, but the man remained in the same position, eyes unseeing.
Decker had seen men like that before, men who had seen too much or gone too far. It was disorienting to see the cheerful, energetic pilot looking so blank, and a vague sense of guilt soured his stomach. With a sigh, Decker retrieved Captain Crane from where he was flirting at the nurse's station, and retreated to the parking lot.
"Any luck, sir?"
"None," he barked. Crane blinked in surprise, and followed quietly.
They had almost reached Decker's vehicle when something familiar caught the corner of his eye.
"That's Peck's car, isn't it?"
"It certainly seems to be, sir," Crane agreed. "Shall I radio for backup?"
"No. Stay here and stake out the vehicle. I'm going back in to see if I can catch him by surprise."
Decker nodded to the people at reception, and motioned them to silence. They looked at him oddly, but said nothing. He crept up the stairwell and returned to Murdock's floor, keeping his eyes peeled the whole way.
All seemed quiet; no ringing alarms or disturbed orderlies to signal a breakout attempt. He hid by the corner, and peered out at the nurse's station. No suave figure in disguise, spilling a line of bullshit.
Further reconnaissance revealed nothing out of the ordinary, nor any signs of Peck, Smith, or Barracus. Decker trod silently towards Murdock's room.
The door was open slightly, but when Decker risked a quick peek, he could see Murdock was present, and hadn't moved. A longer look showed a man in a white coat kneeling next to him. Dr. Richter, no doubt, had finally arrived to deal with his troubled patient. Decker growled to himself, and turned to depart once again.
Some wild instinct, however, had him returning for one last look. The man Decker had thought was Dr. Richter was now seated on the floor, holding the distressed pilot in his arms and rocking gently. There was no doubt that it was Templeton Peck.
As Decker stared in, Peck raised his head, and their eyes met. Peck said not a word, but his look blazed defiance, and he never ceased his comforting motions.
The staring contest went on, and a hundred million things flashed through Decker's mind: the lure of capturing Peck, the old war memories that just wouldn't stay in the box he'd locked them in, the way Murdock seemed to be sobbing silently.
It wasn't even really a decision. Decker nodded once, and left them in peace.