A Sergeant's Choice

BA is forced to make a choice that could destroy the A-Team.

Rated: PG

Words: 10,100

Chapter 1

November 1977

Captain Nathan Benson glanced at his commanding officer though the open door. Colonel Lynch wore a thoughtful expression. Benson knew Lynch was making the same important decision he made around this time every day.

Chinese or Italian?

Benson had more on his mind than the colonel’s lunch plans. He could just barely see over the mountain of paperwork on his desk, all reports of possible sightings of the A-Team. The one he’d just read detailed a sighting of them at Ayers Rock in Australia. The very same day someone else had supposedly spotted them topping up their tans on a beach in Jamaica.

Benson sighed as he looked at the huge stack of paper. Somewhere in there was a sighting of the A-Team on the moon. And Lynch would still want it followed up.

“I’m going to lunch,” Lynch said, emerging from his office and putting on his jacket and cap. “As soon as I get back we’ll have a meeting about that sighting in Minneapolis and start to make the arrangements to go and check it out.”

Benson glanced at the clock. Eleven fifteen.

“Should I pencil that in for two or three o’clock then, sir?”

Lynch gave him a scowl. “Put the paperwork together,” he snapped and strode out, restaurant bound. Benson sighed and hoped he might get the time to slip out and grab a sandwich at some point. He got up and started gathering the paperwork about the Minneapolis sighting.

It was actually a strong lead for a change, from police reports. Three men matching the descriptions perfectly. A huge bar room brawl. Eight Hell’s Angels hospitalised. Yep, it was the A-Team all right. But it was also a week ago and they would be long gone by now. A thousand miles away. Lynch would want to go and interview everyone involved anyway. Presumably he didn’t yet have enough reports about how hard Baracus could hit people.

Still, only a week behind the team now. They were catching up. Benson snorted. He put the papers into a folder and put the folder on Lynch’s desk. He gave the empty chair a salute that involved only his middle finger and went back to his own desk.

He started reading over a report which had the A-Team watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. He checked his records for that date and groaned. Just at the same time they were supposedly at Buckingham Palace they were also in a bar on the outskirts of Kabul and having lunch in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Seattle Space Needle.

He balled up the report and tossed it viciously across the room, then dropped his head into his hands and moaned. What the hell had he done to deserve this posting? Well, he knew exactly what he’d done. That little, um, indiscretion with General Langham’s daughter. Even so, this assignment was surely a disproportionate punishment.

“Captain Benson?”

He looked up at the sound of the unfamiliar voice, then jumped to his feet.


“At ease, Captain. Is Colonel Lynch here?”

“He’s gone to lunch Colonel…” he glanced at the name badge. “Taylor.”

Taylor glanced at the clock and frowned.

“I see. Very well. Captain, there has been a change. Colonel Lynch is no longer in charge of the A-team case. I am.”

Benson raised his eyebrows and almost let his mouth fall open. But he caught himself and controlled his surprise. A salute. When in doubt a salute was always a good idea. He snapped off his very best salute at Colonel Taylor.

“Yes, ma’am.”


BA frowned as Murdock sculpted his double helping of mashed potatoes into the shape of Devils Tower. They could have taken Murdock to see a comedy, or some mindless action movie, but no, Hannibal and Face had insisted on taking him to see a movie full of spaceships and little green men, that was just gonna make him even crazier than before.

“Quit playing with your food, fool,” BA growled. Murdock looked at him and grinned.

“Keep watching the skies, big guy.”

“Okay, Murdock,” Hannibal said. “You said you had something to tell us. Now you’ve had your movie and a nice dinner, so let’s hear it.”

Murdock laid down his knife and fork and sat back in his chair. Then he glanced around the restaurant and leant forward over the table. The others all leaned in too.

“Lynch is out.”

“Really?” Face said. “Well, I can’t say I’m that surprised. The big moustache is kind of a give-away.”

“Face.” Hannibal scowled at him. “What do you mean, ‘out’, Murdock?”

“He’s gone. He’s ancient history. Yesterday’s man. He’s off the twig. Kicked the bucket, shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible.”

“Er, he’s dead?” Hannibal said, cautiously.

“What? Oh, no, sorry, I got carried away… Ow!” BA grabbed Murdock’s shoulder and shook him violently.

“Quit messing about, fool. You got something to say, spill it, or I’ll spill you!”

“BA!” Face hissed and glanced around at the other patrons and the waiters as they stared. He gave them a smile. BA let Murdock go and sat back in his chair. He glowered at Murdock but felt ashamed of himself too. The fool couldn’t help himself. He wasn’t normal, it was no good BA expecting him to be. Just wanted him to be, that was all. Wanted him to be normal. Wanted him to be well.

“BA, we’ve not seen Murdock for six months,” Hannibal said. “You want to spend the whole day fighting?”

BA grunted. They’d have to take Murdock back to the hospital later and who knows when they’d get to see him again.

“Okay,” Murdock said. “Listen up. Lynch is off your case. Another colonel has taken over. Name of Taylor.”

“Taylor? Can’t say I recognise the name. Any of you guys know him?” BA and Face shook their heads. Murdock was grinning.

“No, you wouldn’t know ‘him’,” he said. He turned sideways on his chair, affecting a cool pose, crossed his legs. He took a sip from his wine glass. “You wouldn’t know ‘him’ at all. Because he’s a woman.” He took another sip and then frowned. “Or rather, you know what I mean. I mean she’s a woman.”

The other three stared back at him with their mouths open and then BA snorted. Hannibal and Face began to laugh.

“Is this a joke?” BA demanded. Be just like Murdock to try to pull a prank like this on them.

“Nope, it’s real. Colonel Barbara Taylor.”

“How do you know this?” Hannibal asked.

“Face,” Murdock said. “You remember a Corporal Harris, from Fort Bragg?”

“Remember him? He beat the snot out of me the first day we arrived!”

BA frowned. They’d been held separately for the first couple of weeks at Fort Bragg. When they all got back together Face looked like he’d been in a fight every single day.

“You should have reported him to the guards.” Hannibal said.

“He was a guard!”

“That’s the one.” Murdock said, nodding. “Anyway he was in the VA for gall bladder surgery and he knew we were friends so he came to see me and said he’s been working at a prison facility some place in Iowa, I think it was. Or it might have been Illinois. Wherever. And the colonel in charge was this Taylor and she’s been transferred to take over Lynch’s job. He was laughing a lot and I was kind of out of it at the time, but I think he said something like ‘your friends are so screwed.’ Oh and he says ‘hi’, Face.”

The team sat in silence for a few minutes, thinking this over.

“A chick,” Face said eventually. “I’m almost insulted.”

“Well look on the bright side,” Hannibal said. “She’ll be no problem after we send you in to seduce her.”

BA giggled and Murdock smirked. Face was less amused.

“If she’s a colonel then she’s more your age. You can seduce her.”

“Do you have to say ‘your age’, like you’re talking about an advanced state of decrepitude?” Hannibal looked offended. “And you need a haircut, Lieutenant.”

“Got one yesterday.” Face touched the ends of his hair where it curled over the bottom of his collar. “Anyway, in my experience lots of these women career officers aren’t really interested in men, if you know what I mean.”

“Harris said she’s pretty tough.” Murdock said. “Wasn’t a women’s prison she was running either. He said even the really vicious, nasty bastards in there were scared of her. The prisoners too.” He added.

“I’d kind of got used to Lynch,” Hannibal said, with a sigh. “Five years of him getting nowhere near was reassuring.”

“Should we send him a card?” Murdock suggested. “‘Sorry you got canned.'”

“C’mon, Hannibal,” Face said. “You’re not scared of a girl are you?”

“No,” Hannibal shook his head. “Of course not.” He got out a cigar and Face lit it for him. “There’s just one thing I have to ask, Murdock. You’re absolutely sure you didn’t imagine all of this?”

Chapter 2

“So, you’re collating all the sightings to try to track their movements?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Benson said, watching Taylor, sitting at what had been Lynch’s desk, going through papers. “To see if we can find a pattern, or make a prediction about where they’ll go next.”

“That’s actually quite a good idea.” She sounded surprised. Benson wondered if he should mention that it had been his idea, not Lynch’s.

“It was working quite well, when all the sightings were good ones, from police reports and the like, but then Colonel Lynch said we weren’t getting enough sightings and he decided to run that ad…”

“Ah yes, the ad.” Taylor shook her head. Six months ago Lynch had placed an ad in every newspaper in the country inviting the public to write to him with details of sightings of the A-Team. Within days Benson’s once quite neat desk had vanished under a mountain of paper.

Taylor stood up and walked back and forth. She had a few of the letters about so called sightings in her hand.

Benson watched her pace. He’d got over his shock at having a woman CO now. He’d also got over any urge to ogle her. He liked a tall girl with lots of blonde hair. Taylor was 5’4″ and her brown hair was short. She was a little old for him anyway and didn’t seem inclined to wear mini-skirts and boob tubes.

As he waited he remembered again, just for fun, the moment Lynch had come back from lunch to find Taylor in his office.

“This is my case! I’ve been chasing these men for five years!”

Benson wondered why he thought the length of time he had been chasing them was a positive argument for his remaining on the case. After twenty minutes of ranting Lynch must have realised that Taylor wasn’t the person he should be arguing with. He announced he was going to take the matter up with the Pentagon.

“Benson, come with me,” he said as he turned to go.

“Captain Benson had been assigned to bring me up to speed on the case.”

“What?” Lynch’s moustache quivered. “You’re taking my job, moving into my office and now you’re poaching my men as well? I won’t stand for it! Don’t worry, Benson, I’ll get you transferred back to my staff as soon as I can.”

That was exactly what Benson was worried about.

Lynch stamped out of the office, turned back only once.

“Smith and the A-Team will consider you a joke. You realise that?”

“As opposed to the enormous respect they have for you?”

Benson had almost suffered internal injuries stopping himself from laughing. Lynch spluttered for a while longer then marched out, slamming the door so hard that some of the many stacks of paper in the room fell over.

There were fewer stacks of paper now. Taylor had tidied the place up.

She turned back to Benson, held up the letters one after another.

“The Taj Mahal.” She balled up the letter and tossed it at the waste paper basket. “The Eiffel Tower.” Another slam dunk. “The Great Pyramid of Giza.” This one bounced off the edge of the basket and landed on the floor. “All within a week. Get around don’t they?”

Taylor picked more papers off the desk. Not letters this time, but the envelopes that the letters had come in.

“Posted from UCLA. Posted from MIT… Vassar… CalTech. There is a pattern here, all right. Templeton Peck has half the co-eds in the country working for him.”

Benson agreed. If by some miracle Lynch had caught the team, if they’d walked into the office and surrendered, for example, Benson had hoped he would be assigned to interrogate Templeton Peck. The things that man would be able to teach him… The guy had to be getting so much tail it wasn’t even funny. Benson didn’t think he’d ever admired a man as much as he admired Peck. Of course Peck did have certain natural advantages…

“Captain are you listening to me?” Taylor’s voice snapped him out of his reverie. He straightened up. It was this office. After a year of working under Lynch he had learned to drift off into another world as soon as he came in here. He didn’t even wait to get bored any more, he just zoned out automatically. Better break that habit. He didn’t want Taylor to happily sign him over to Lynch when the transfer request came through. She was potentially the saviour of his career, and he’d better shape up and start impressing her.

“Yes, Colonel.”

“All right. Go and get rid of all that rubbish from your desk. Anything else?”

“Just some things to sign.” He handed her a folder. She sat down and got out a pen. She signed a couple of documents, then stopped and frowned.

“Three day passes?”

“For Thanksgiving weekend, ma’am. Colonel Lynch always gave all the men leave for the holidays.”

She stared at Benson.

“And it never occurred to him that Colonel Smith might do the same?”


“No, miss, this isn’t the Silver Streak. There’s no such train as the Silver Streak except in the movie.”

BA shook his head as he made his way back to his compartment from the dining car. He’d heard conductors say that same thing to about twenty people since they left LA. Why were all these fools running about loose if they didn’t know the difference between real life and a movie?

“We on schedule?” BA asked the conductor as he passed.

“Yes, sir. We’ll be in Chicago in just under three hours.”

“Thanks, brother.”

BA went into his compartment and packed all his things into his bag. Just under three hours. Plenty of time for a nap. He lay down on the berth and closed his eyes. The movement of the train soothed him, lulled him as his thoughts drifted.

Just a few hours and he’d be eating Thanksgiving dinner with his mother. He wished he could have talked Hannibal and Face into coming along. Face especially. BA could get sentimental around the holidays and start feeling sorry for Face, worrying that he’d never had a proper family Thanksgiving. But Face and Hannibal both said they had dates and obviously had other things on their minds besides turkey.

He hoped Murdock was getting a proper turkey dinner too in the hospital. Probably not. Probably mass produced frozen meals. BA sighed.

He went over in his head the arrangements he’d made to meet Mama. Hannibal had warned him to be extra careful with this new colonel in place. BA wasn’t too worried though. He was familiar with the speed things happened in the army. Taylor was probably still picking out drapes for her office.

“Barbara Anne Taylor.” Face’s voice sounded clearly in BA’s head, remembered from the meeting they’d had a couple of days ago. Face had been assigned to get the details about their new nemesis. “Barbara Anne, same initials as you, BA.” He grinned. BA just growled.

“Age forty-two, so definitely you doing the seducing, Hannibal. If she’s interested that is. Never married. No kids. Been in the army since college. Served in Vietnam and back home as an MP. Decorated twice in Vietnam.”

“She’s gonna throw away her career chasing us.” Hannibal commented. “Almost feel sorry for her.”

BA didn’t. He saved his sympathy for them, didn’t waste it on anybody whose job it was to make things their lives worse. Whose job it was to keep him from seeing his family. His cousin Travis got married last year. They’d been close when they were boys. Travis had always said BA would be the best man at his wedding. But of course it was impossible. BA hadn’t even been able to attend. A few weeks later BA had managed to speak on the phone to Travis, had heard the disappointment in his voice, the hint of resentment as he’d told BA about the MP car that sat outside the church the whole time. They hadn’t talked since then.

Not just family either. It would help Murdock to see the three of them more often. Face especially, the two of them had been so close in country. But showing up at the VA too often was going to get them noticed.

BA missed the fool. Not that he’d admit that. How do you miss someone who drives you crazy the whole time you’re with them? Face really missed him, BA knew. The colonel it was hard to say about. He didn’t show much, tried to be the strong leader all the time. He was always the one to say Murdock was in the best place, was getting the help he needed. That he’d be better soon.

Course he’d said the same about them being on the run. It wouldn’t last forever, evidence would turn up to clear them. But it was five years now. Didn’t look like anything was gonna show up.

But being on the run was better than prison. For Face especially. Face kept joking “I’m too pretty to go to prison” and laughing. A laugh that wasn’t conning BA one bit. Face was a difficult person to get to know, he was all front, false front at that. But BA was sure of one thing. Prison scared Face to death.

Chapter 3

“Coffee, Captain?” Taylor poured a cup of hot coffee from a Thermos and Benson took it gratefully. The car was too cold even with the heat on full blast. Benson was a Californian, cold was not his thing. Staking out a restaurant in Chicago on Thanksgiving day was not his thing, not when he could be back at his folk’s house watching the game with his dad while his mom pressed him to just one more piece of pumpkin pie.

But if this worked out then it might be the last time he had to do this. Taylor had started the surveillance of Mrs Baracus several days ago. Lynch usually just watched her house on Thanksgiving or Christmas day and waited for Baracus to show up. He never had.

A couple of nights ago Mrs Baracus had left her home, carrying a small suitcase and gone to a hotel. So Lynch’s approach would have meant they’d have been staking out an empty house. Thursday afternoon she had come out, got into a cab and arrived at the restaurant that Taylor and Benson were now outside of, in an unmarked car.

They had a man inside, lurking in the kitchen. Other men were all around the area, but out of sight. If Baracus did show up Taylor didn’t want him scared off. It was going to be a lot easier taking him in the restaurant than chasing him through the icy streets.

Benson glanced at his watch. Almost six. He hoped this wasn’t a wild goose chase. Maybe Mrs Baracus was just meeting friends or other family members. But if that was the case why had she been hiding out in that hotel for a couple of days?

Then a voice came over the radio.

“Station 3 here. It’s him. He’s making his way though the back alleys, probably heading for the kitchen door. Over.”

“You’re sure it’s him?” Benson asked.

“He’s hard to mistake.”

That was true.

“Station 1,” Taylor called their man inside. “He may be coming in via the kitchen, keep a low profile.”


“Everybody stand by.”

Benson glanced at Taylor. She had a small smile on her face. Of anticipation perhaps. Waiting to spring the trap. Benson’s dad had been a hunter, had taught him that a good hunter didn’t chase the prey, but went where the prey would come to and waited. Taylor was obviously one of the same sort. Young Nathan had lacked the patience to be really good at the ambush tactic. He found himself tapping his foot now, eager to get on with it.

In a few moments Station 1 announced that Baracus had indeed come into the restaurant through the kitchen and was now in the dining room with his mother.

“Prepare to move in.” Benson said, breathing a little faster. So close, they were so close.

“Belay that.” Taylor said, frowned at him. “Stand by and wait for my signal. Out.”

She put down the mic and sat back in her seat.

“Don’t be so eager. Baracus isn’t going anywhere for a couple of hours at least. Let them have their dinner.”

“But, ma’am…”

“Tell me, Captain, how do you feel after you’ve had your Thanksgiving dinner? Feel like doing a lot of running and jumping do you?”

Benson grinned. Smart. Standing between Baracus and his dinner? Potentially fatal move. Tackling Baracus after he’d eaten a whole turkey? Better move. He saw Taylor settle down, snuggling into her coat. Benson sipped coffee and resigned himself to a long wait.


“Another piece of pecan pie, baby?”

BA groaned. He didn’t think he could eat another crumb. He wasn’t sure he could actually move. But it was good pie. And what’s one more piece?

“Okay, Mama. You order it, I’ll be back in a second.” He got out of his chair with another groan. One problem about eating a Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant, he couldn’t loosen his pants after. On the other hand he didn’t have to help with the washing up.

As BA came back from the bathroom he stood aside to let a waiter pass and walk through the swing door into the kitchen. And BA saw him. Just for a second, as the door swung closed again, a man in the kitchen speaking into a walkie talkie. Their eyes locked together before the door closed.

BA ran. He ran to his mother’s table. Mrs Baracus rose as he ran over and embraced her.


“I love you, Mama.” He kissed her on the cheek. “Sorry!” And then he turned and ran towards the fire exit he’d already seen at the back of the restaurant.


The front door slammed back and BA heard yelling. He didn’t slow down. He charged the fire exit and smashed it open. The cold poured over him like a bucket of ice water as he ran outside into the darkness. MPs were waiting for him as he came out and he hit them like a bowling ball slamming into the pins, scattering them.

The back alleys or the street? They had to expect him to take the back alleys. But there was also an alley up the side of the building to the street. And he had more chance of grabbing a car on the the street.

He ran for the alley, skidding on ice and trash as he took the corner, bounced off the opposite wall. Ran on through the dark towards the street lights. The sounds of pursuit followed, men yelled at him to halt.

A gunshot rang out and BA gasped, expecting the impact of a bullet in the back. But the shot must have been into the air. His own gun was in the pocket of his jacket back in the restaurant. There’d been no time to grab it. He’d hated even bringing it there, having it anywhere near his Mama.

Another figure came up the alley towards him. BA prepared to charge them down.

“Halt! Military Police.” The figure passed into the light from a window and BA skidded to a stop. Not because of the gun pointing at him. But because it was a woman pointing a gun at him. She wore civilian clothes, topped with a Parker, but held out her ID in her left hand.

This must be her, he thought. Taylor. She stood between him and the street. Unless she shot him he could swat her aside as easily as a rag doll. And if she’d been a six foot man he’d have done just that. But the last time he’d raised his hand to anyone female had been in first grade and that had earned him a walloping he still remembered to this day.

“On the ground, Baracus,” she ordered, her breath misting in the freezing air. BA hesitated. The men behind him were close, but he could still get past her if she didn’t shoot him.

She fired. Over his head.

“I’ll wing you if I have to! On the ground now!”

And then the men behind caught up.


Taylor came into the restaurant dining room after BA was secured. Benson waited for her.

“Get his coat,” Taylor ordered him. “Search the pockets.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“I want to talk to the man in charge!” Mrs Baracus was the only one of the restaurant patrons still in the dining room. Waiters moved around, tidying up tables that had been knocked over when the MPs charged into the room.

“That’s me, ma’am, Colonel Taylor.” Taylor shed her Parker and went up to Mrs Baracus, offering her hand.

“You? Oh…” Mrs Baracus shook the hand mechanically, taken aback.

“Please, sit down, Mrs Baracus.” Taylor gestured at one of the MPs who handed a chair over. Mrs Baracus ignored it.

“Where’s my son?”

“He’s been apprehended outside. He’s in custody now.”

“I…” Her voice faltered a tiny bit. “I heard gunshots…”

“He’s not hurt.” Taylor said quickly. “No one was hurt.”

“Oh… good.” The anger came back into Mrs Baracus’s voice. “I want to see him.”

“I’m sorry, no.”

Mrs Baracus gave her a fierce glare but it had no effect on the colonel. Benson came over and stood by Taylor. He had BA’s coat in his hands. Mrs Baracus eyed it.

“That’s Bosco’s coat? I’ll take that…” She reached towards it. Benson backed off a step, out of her reach. He’d already been on the receiving end of a couple of hefty whacks from Mrs Baracus’s purse when they had charged into the restaurant, so staying out of her reach was a priority for him.

“I’m sorry, no,” Taylor repeated.

Mrs Baracus fumed, scowling down at Taylor.

“What happens now? Does he get a lawyer?”

“Yes. We’ll provide one, or if you want to send you own…” She took a pen from her pocket and turned to a nearby waiter. “Give me your order pad.” She wrote on the pad and tore off the page, gave it to Mrs Baracus. “Call this number. They’ll make the arrangements.”

Mrs Baracus put the paper in her purse. “Am I free to go?”

“Yes. One of my men can drive you home.”

“I’ll get a cab.” Mrs Baracus snapped and turned towards the door, then stopped and turned back.

“Colonel… Thank you for letting us finish our dinner.” She turned and marched out of the restaurant. Taylor watched her leave then turned to Benson.

“Maintain the surveillance on her. Baracus is on his way to the base now?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Anything useful in his coat pockets?

“A luggage locker key. Union Station. No train ticket though. And a loaded 9mm.”

“All right, have a man pick up whatever’s in the locker.”

“Yes, ma’am. And congratulations on the capture, Colonel.”

“Thank you, Captain. But don’t get ahead of yourself, this job is not finished yet.”

Chapter 4

BA paced the interrogation room, walking around and around the table and chairs. He wasn’t sitting down any time soon. He groaned and rubbed his stomach. All that rich food was not sitting well.

A large mirror took up half of one wall and he glared at it every time he went near. Did they think he was stupid? Yeah, Baracus, why would they think you’re stupid? Who’s on the wrong side of the two way mirror?

Okay, he didn’t say anything to them. Hannibal had taught him that. You’ve got the right to silence, don’t give it up. Wait for a lawyer. BA snorted. Lawyer? What the hell good had lawyers done for them before?

“Plead guilty.” Every one of their lawyers had advised them that when they were awaiting trial at Fort Bragg. Plead guilty even though they weren’t? That didn’t matter the lawyers said. Yeah, what the heck did the truth matter to a lawyer? “Plead guilty or be found guilty,” one had said. “That’s your choices.” Well Hannibal had decided there was a third choice and he’d made it.

The door opened and Taylor came in, a Captain with her, Benson, BA read on the officer’s name tag. A couple of privates came in after them and took up position by the door.

“Good evening, Sergeant.” Taylor said.

“I ain’t got nothing to say to you, lady.”

“That’s ‘colonel’, sergeant.” Benson snapped. BA glared at him and Benson backed off a step.

“Have you been properly advised of all your rights?” Taylor asked.

She knows I have, BA thought. She gave the orders. She’s just trying to draw me in to talking to her.

“Yeah,” he snapped. Keep it short. “And I know I got the right not to talk to you. And I got the right to a lawyer and I’m not saying anything till one shows up.”

He thought he saw her sigh just a little. That put the kibosh on her plans.

“Take him to a cell, see he has whatever he needs. Some antacids perhaps?” She looked at him speculatively.

He just scowled back. Don’t give me the good cop act, like it’s not your fault I got a gut full of adrenaline on top of my turkey dinner.

Benson and the MPs started to take BA out. “My mama better be okay,” BA growled at Taylor as he passed.

“She got home safely.” Taylor said, a sympathetic look on her face. “I’m sorry she had to be involved in this, she must be very upset.”

“Yeah thanks to…” No, shut up. Don’t talk to her. Hannibal says don’t let them sucker you in. “Good. I mighta been real mad.”


BA spent his most miserable night for many a year in the cell. His guts were on fire and finally at three a.m. he gave up on being tough and asked for an indigestion remedy. He sat on the cot with his back against the wall as the medicine did its work, soothing his raging stomach.

He looked around at the tiny cell. Unless Hannibal came up with a plan then this or rather some place very like it was going to be BA’s home for the next thirty years. But if Hannibal did come up with a plan it had better be a darn good one, because the last thing BA wanted was for Hannibal and Face to get themselves caught trying a rescue.

Okay, Hannibal would say, no problem, if they were all caught they’d escape like they had before. But BA wasn’t so confident. It was easy the first time. The second time was different. The second time they were expecting it. The second time they didn’t give you any chances. Supposing they slapped us all straight into solitary confinement and threw away the key? No escaping from that.

No, if there was any chance of the others getting caught then BA would rather they didn’t even try to get him out. Better for one of them to be in prison than all three.

And he’d be okay in prison. He could take care of himself. Also, if he had to be in prison, he’d rather be alone, with only his own back to look out for.

He’d have enough jerks going after him, trying to prove something, didn’t want to have to deal with looking out for the other two as well. And they’d need looking out for. Both had big mouths that they didn’t know when to close. Get themselves in trouble right off the minute they walked in the door. And Face… BA didn’t want to think about that.

About the only good thing was that he might actually see Mama more often. But her having to visit him in prison, he hated that. And how often could he expect her to make that journey?

And he’d never see Murdock at all. Or Hannibal or Face. Well maybe Face could put that long hair of his in pigtails and come in wearing a dress, pretending he was BA’s girlfriend. BA actually giggled at the image. Might be worth it all, just to see that.


In the morning he got breakfast and even accepted coffee, because he needed to keep his wits about him and he’d had about two hours sleep. Then guards took him back to the interrogation room and he was soon joined by the same crowd as yesterday, but also a new addition. A dark haired, middle aged man, with rumpled clothes that stunk of tobacco. The grey streaks in his beard were yellow with nicotine.

“Sergeant Baracus,” the man stepped up to him, offering his hand. He peered at BA myopically though thick ugly glasses. “Your mother hired me. I’m your lawyer, Alan Kelly.”

BA shook his hand nodded at him and they all sat down. Kelly at once lit up a cigarette. BA saw Taylor give him a scowl.

“Benson, get an ashtray would you?”

“Yes, ma’am. Should I bring some coffee?” Benson asked, also scowling at Kelly.

“Please,” Taylor said. Benson left.

“All right, Sergeant, are you prepared to talk to me now your lawyer is here?” BA glanced at Kelly, who nodded. BA turned to Taylor.

“Ain’t gonna do you no good. I know what you want. You want me to tell you something that will lead you to the rest of the team. That ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime, might as well forget it.”

“So you’re prepared to take the fall alone?”


“I see. You’re obviously very loyal to your unit.”

Benson came back in with four cups of coffee and passed them out. He put an ashtray down in front of Kelly.

“So…” Taylor began, then had to stop as Kelly coughed, a wet hacking that would cause any doctor present to call for a chest x-ray, stat.

“Pardon me. Go on there, Colonel.” She gave him a look of disgust and turned back to BA.

“So, it wouldn’t interest you at all if I were to say that if you lead me to Smith and Peck you would receive immunity from prosecution in return?”

“Is that guaranteed?” Kelly jumped in at once.

“I’d have it in writing,” Taylor promised.

“Forget it!” BA snapped at both of them. “You’re right, lady, that don’t interest me one bit. I ain’t betraying my unit, no matter what deal you offer me.”

She nodded. “I didn’t expect anything different, of course. But…” She took a sip of coffee. BA frowned.

“But what?”

“There is an alternative deal. Again, I’d have it in writing. It would mean guaranteed freedom for you…”

“I already said no!”

“Please, let me finish,” she said mildly. BA subsided, glowering. “As I was saying, it would mean guaranteed freedom for you and Lieutenant Peck.”

Chapter 5

BA stared at her. She leaned forward on the table, her fingers interlaced.

“Sergeant, I hate to bruise your ego, but to be frank the Pentagon doesn’t give a damn about you or Lieutenant Peck. So far as they are concerned you were just following Smith’s orders.”

BA shook his head. “Colonel tried that himself, told them he took full responsibility, right after we was arrested. They still locked us all up.”

“Well of course the full facts weren’t known then.”

“They still ain’t.”

She sat back and took a sip of her coffee. “How old are you, Sergeant?”

“You know how old I am.”

“Yes, I do. Not even thirty yet. You’re still a young man, Sergeant. You and the lieutenant. You could have a long, normal life ahead of you. Or you could go to prison for the next thirty years. And when Smith and Peck show up to try and rescue you, we’ll be waiting for them.”

“They won’t come.” BA said, knew it was a lie.

“Really?” She didn’t look convinced. “Do you have a pact perhaps? That two of you shouldn’t risk capture to rescue just one man? Well I suppose that makes sense from a mathematical viewpoint.”


“So does my deal. Two of you go free, one man is locked up. All you have to do is give me Smith.”

“I ain’t doing it!” BA glared at her. She sighed and leaned back in her chair.

“Do you know that I used to run a military prison, Sergeant?”

“Yeah. I know.”

“So you know that I know what life is like in there.”

BA didn’t answer. He could guess the route she was about to take. His mind had already gone there.

“I know what life would be like in there for Peck.”

“He’d be fine.” BA said at once.

“You know that’s not true, Sergeant. You’d be fine. Smith would be fine.” She laughed. “Hell, give Smith a couple of weeks he’d be running the place. But Peck?” She shook her head, then she leant forward on the table again, spoke quietly.

“Have you ever seen what happens when you throw a bone to a pack of wild dogs?”

BA jumped to his feet, his chair skidding back across the floor. Benson, Kelly and the guards at the door all jumped. Taylor didn’t flinch though, even when BA leant across the table towards her. She held up a hand to restrain the guards and looked into BA’s eyes calmly.

“You know it’s true, Sergeant. You know because every fight you were in at Fort Bragg was about protecting him, wasn’t it?”

“Face is a Green Beret.” BA ground out. “He don’t need no-one to protect him.” He stood up straight, walked over to the wall, faced it, eyes burning into the paintwork.

“Sit down, Sergeant.” He hated her voice. He didn’t move.

“Now, Sergeant.” He still didn’t move. Only when the shadows of the two guards appeared at his back did he turn around. He could fight them of course, but it wasn’t worth it. And frankly he was just too tired.

“I wanna talk to my lawyer. Alone.”

Taylor smiled, stood up.

“Of course. Take all the time you need, Sergeant.”

Taylor left. Benson picked up the empty coffee cups and followed her. The guards left last of all. BA glanced at the mirror he was convinced was two way. They weren’t allowed to eavesdrop on him with his lawyer, were they?

“You should take the deal, Sergeant.” Kelly said, lighting up a fresh cigarette.

BA snorted. “Yeah, you gotta say that, don’t ya? You don’t care ’bout my unit. You don’t care about Face.”

“No,” Kelly admitted. His voice was hoarse and sixty-a-day gravelly. “You’re my client. I’d have had you take the first deal she offered. That’s the job your mother hired me for.”

BA frowned at the mention of his mother. How much had this guy cost her? Judging by his clothes and his briefcase that looked like it had been run over by an armoured car, not very much. Still too much though. Darn lawyers. Just thieves with suits and diplomas.

“I can’t give up the colonel. I can’t do it.” BA shook his head, talking more to himself than Kelly. “You don’t understand. It would be like… ” He stopped.

“What?” Kelly asked with a frown.

BA shook his head. “Never mind.” There was a long silence.

“Sergeant, my advice is that you should take the deal.” Kelly said at last. “You have to look out for yourself. I’m sure Smith can look out for himself. After all, he got you into this mess in the first place.”

BA glared at the man.

“Shut up.”

“Was it his idea to escape from Fort Bragg, Sergeant? Before the trial, that seems rather…”

“I said shut up!”

“And I have to ask, did you ever see the orders from… what was his name…” he glanced into a file. “Colonel Morrison?”

BA stared at him . What kind of game was this?

“Are you working for Taylor?”

“What?” Kelly sounded outraged. “Of course not!”

“Get out.” BA said, flatly.

“I’m your lawyer, I’m just trying to look out for your best interests…”

“Get out!” BA yelled, making Kelly almost fall backwards off his chair. The lawyer got up and started gathering his papers and stuffing them into his battered briefcase.

“There’s no need to get aggressive, Sergeant, I’m just trying to help…”

“I don’t need no help.” BA turned to face the wall again. In a moment he heard the door close. A few minutes after that the door opened again. He turned around. It was Benson. BA looked him up and down, from his shiny shoes to his perfect hair. Desk jockey. Spends too long in front of the mirror. I’d get past him in a half second.

And then the guards would shoot me down.

“The colonel says a military lawyer will be appointed for you.” Benson told him. “In the meantime you’re to go back to your cell.”

BA went without a murmur.


BA wasn’t going to accept the deal.

That would be stupid. Sure he got Taylor’s point about the kind of hell prison would be for Face. ‘Face’, BA shook his head thinking of that nickname. Named for his greatest asset, that in prison was only going to be a liability. But the fact was Face wasn’t captured. He was free and there was no guarantee that she would ever catch him and Hannibal. Lynch had tried for five years and got nowhere near.

And she’s been on the job five minutes and she’s already got me…

Me though. Not Face, not Hannibal. They’ll be more careful now they know they’re dealing with someone who has a clue.

Except they won’t of course. If careful had ever been in the colonel’s dictionary he’d long ago torn that page out and used it to light a cigar. They’ll come after me and she’ll be ready. Then she’s got all three of us and the deal is off. Limited time offer.

So? Supposing Hannibal and Face did come to try and rescue BA and got caught? So they all went to prison? BA had protected Face in Fort Bragg, he’d do the same at Leavenworth. As long as they were all kept together…

And if they weren’t?

So? Face was a Green Beret, same as BA. Not as strong sure, but trained to fight. He could deal with any creep that tried anything. Or two, even three of them.

But a pack of them?

BA got off his cot and started to pace up and down.

No. BA couldn’t even think about betraying the colonel. Didn’t have to. Face wasn’t captured. Right now, right this minute he was free. Yeah? Free to keep running and hiding Was that really freedom? Maybe not, but it wasn’t prison either. He knew which Face would choose. Had chosen, when they went on the the run.

Which was Hannibal’s idea. But they’d all agreed. Face had agreed real fast. BA had thought it over a bit longer, wondering about how smart it was to escape before their trial. But he’d agreed in the end. He knew they would almost certainly be found guilty. Almost certainly.

He sat down again heavily.

I’m thinking about it, he thought. She’s got me actually contemplating it. Bitch. He thought a word he never said out loud. And she’d known how to get to him. She kept calling him ‘Sergeant’. He’d noticed that she used the word just a little more often than was natural. She kept on appealing to that part of him that was trained, until it became instinct, to protect the officer. But she wanted him to sacrifice one officer to protect the other.

But if he did it Face would never forgive him. BA would protect Face but he’d lose him too. Face would never speak to him again. The fool neither. Face would probably want to organise a rescue. And BA would have to refuse to help. Because even if it succeeded it put them right back to square one, all of them on the run again. Would Face try it on his own? Would he throw away his freedom for the sake of trying and probably failing to get Hannibal out?

Maybe he wouldn’t. Maybe BA could make him see it wasn’t worth it. Make him see that as a free man he could be there for Murdock. Get him out if the VA sooner rather than later. The two of them could help Murdock. Even if they couldn’t ever speak to each other again – and that thought pained him more than he would ever admit – at least they could both help Murdock.

The Colonel kept saying the VA was the best place for Murdock but he wasn’t the one that had to live there. The faster Murdock got out of there the better. Even if he never spoke to BA again after he did, at least he’d be free.

Math. Taylor talked about looking at it from a mathematical viewpoint. She didn’t realise how right she was about that.

She thought that right now the team had two free men and one locked up. And she thought she was just offering BA the chance to change which two of them were free. She didn’t know there was another member of the team. BA had never stopped thinking of him as that, knew Face hadn’t either. And if Face and BA being truly free, not just on the run, meant helping to free Murdock too, helping him be normal again…

Do the math, Baracus.

BA stood up and went to the door. He banged on it until the guard looked in.


“Let me talk to Taylor.”

Chapter 6

Taylor arrived at the cell in under three minutes.

“Do you want your lawyer?”

“No,” BA said. He glanced at the open door. He didn’t want to talk in front of others. He stayed sitting on his bunk and stayed silent. Eventually she closed the door, came over and sat beside him.

“You don’t know what you’re asking me to do.” BA said, quietly.

“I know exactly what I’m asking.” Her voice was quiet, almost gentle. “I’m asking you to frag him.”

BA glanced at her. He supposed she’d investigated lots of those cases in the war. When men killed their officer, to keep him from getting them killed, usually. Sacrificed him for the good of the whole unit.

“He never deserved that. I met plenty of officers did deserve it. He was never one of ’em.”

“Until now?”

“No!” BA was emphatic, shaking his head. “I know you’re trying’ to make me think us being wanted is all his fault, but it ain’t. If I… if I do this it’s ’cause of Face and…” he bit his lip. “My Mama. For her too, ’cause I don’t want her visiting me in jail for the next thirty years.”

“I understand.”

He sat in silence for a long time. She waited.

“I want the guarantees in writing. And I want to be able to send them to my lawyer. So you can’t deny ’em later.”

“Of course.” She stood up. “I’ll put the arrangements in place right away. And then, Sergeant, we’ll talk about how we bring him in.”

She left. BA lay down on his bunk and stared up at the ceiling. Face would never forgive him. Murdock never would. Would Hannibal?

BA knew for sure he would never forgive himself.


“The copy has been sent to his lawyer?”

“Yes, ma’am, and he’s got his own copy.”

“Good. He’s on his way here now?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

They had moved Baracus to a more secure location, while the guarantees were formalised. There wasn’t nearly enough security here for Taylor’s liking, not to hold a Green Beret.

The paperwork had taken a couple of days, but it was done. Now they were ready to get the information from Baracus and get the capture of the rest of the team set up. Benson sighed happily. They may have missed leave on Thanksgiving but it looked like being a heck of a Christmas holiday. For everyone except Colonel Smith of course.

The door to the office opened. Benson looked up frowning, wondering who was barging into the Colonel’s office without knocking.

“Hello, Taylor.”

Benson’s mouth dropped open in shock, Taylor jumped to her feet.



BA looked up as he heard raised voices. The truck had stopped part way to Taylor’s office. Outside the truck the lieutenant in charge of the transport seemed to be arguing with someone.

The back door of the vehicle was open. Darkness outside. BA glanced across at the corporal sitting opposite him, who was also frowning. The corporal caught BA’s gaze and gave him a shrug. Some officer nonsense.

Then the door opened fully and the Lieutenant appeared, carrying a sheet of paper. Several MPs were behind him. BA didn’t recognise any of them as Taylor’s men.

“I need a signature.” The Lieutenant was saying. “He’s in Colonel Taylor’s custody and I’m not handing him over to you till someone signs for him…”

The choice he’d made before he had agonised over for hours. This choice BA made in the space between heartbeats.


“This is totally unacceptable!” Taylor snapped, reading the paper Lynch had handed to her.

“General Hall doesn’t think so.” Lynch was so puffed up with triumph that he was almost floating away.

Benson fought the urge to put his head in his hands and moan. He’d heard Lynch had been spending his days at the Pentagon lobbying to get his job back, but never in a million years had he imagined Lynch would actually be successful. How? How had he done it? Friends in high places? Or did he have pictures of the Secretary of Defence with a hooker?

“We are on the verge of closing this case,” Taylor said. “If you think I’m going to let you march back in here and take credit for…”

“Closing the case? By letting two thirds of the team go free?” Lynch snorted in disgust. “I might have known a woman would go soft over Peck, but Baracus? Were you sorry for his mother or something?”

The Colonel’s phone rang. She ignored it, still glaring at Lynch’s smug face. Benson leant over and picked it up. Couldn’t summon up more than a desultory, “Yeah?” Then he gasped and straightened up, staring. “What?”

The two colonels turned to look at him. Benson looked back at Taylor.

“Baracus has escaped.”


In a dark and stinking alleyway BA worked on the lock of the back door of an auto repair shop. He had nothing to pick the padlock, but the hasp was rusted and within a few minutes he had worked the screws holding it to the door loose and the door opened. BA slipped inside.

He had no idea what was happening, just that he was about to be handed over to men who weren’t Taylor’s people. He knew right off that the Colonel’s plan had slipped a cog someplace. He wasn’t sticking around to find out how exactly. He’d burst from the truck like a cannonball. Fighting, gun shots and he was running, running blindly into Chicago back streets, deep into alley ways.

He looked around, looking for something to get the shackles off his wrists. That was the first priority. Then he needed clothes, needed to get rid of the fatigues he wore. His description was doubtless being read out over the radios of every cop in the city right this minute.

Fearful of attracting attention outside he didn’t switch on the main light, but found a desk lamp and turned that on. That gave him enough light to search and after a few minutes a pair of bolt cutters left his hands free.

A pair of overalls, greasy, but big enough, took care of the clothing problem for now. As he put them on he took an envelope out of the pocket of his fatigues. He opened the envelope and looked at the documents inside. Immunity from prosecution for himself and Lieutenant Templeton Peck, in exchange for his assistance in the apprehension of Colonel John Smith. Suddenly just touching this paper made his hands feel dirty. He balled it up and tossed it into a nearby trash can.

Right. Clothes sorted. Now he needed money, and transport back to LA. He hoped there was some money here, though it sickened him to think he was burgling the place.

He went to search for a cash box and almost tripped over some cardboard boxes on the floor. They were open and BA could see they held car and motorcycle parts. He frowned, not new parts though, used ones. He glanced across the workshop floor at the cars and bikes there. Looking closer he could see that most of them were partly dismantled, and not very gently either. BA scowled.

A chop shop. Suddenly he had no qualms about stealing from here. Ripping off cars and stripping them for parts was definitely on BA’s list of crimes that should be punishable by death.

He noticed a shape under a tarp. Looked like a motorbike, maybe intact. BA went over and pulled off the tarp. He couldn’t hold in a gasp at what he revealed.

Well that solved his transport problem.


“Ten minutes! Ten minutes you’ve been back on the case and you’ve already lost a prisoner! What the hell is wrong with you?”

“My men will soon recapture him…” Lynch said, sounding unconcerned, still too smug.

“That’s what you said five years ago, you fool!”

“You can’t talk to me like that!”

“I just did.” Taylor packed items into her briefcase, slapping them in and then slammed the case shut. She picked her hat and jacket off the coat stand. As she buttoned her jacket and adjusted her hat she spoke again.

“Colonel Lynch, there are dead flies on that windowsill that have more chance of catching the A-Team than you.” She turned to Benson. “If you want to get out of here call me tomorrow, Captain.” She picked up her case and marched out, slamming the door so hard the room shook.

Lynch huffed a bit. Then he smirked. “PMS, eh?”

Benson didn’t answer, just looked at him with disdain. Lynch didn’t seem to notice the look. He went around the desk and sat down with a sigh of pleasure. After a while he looked at some papers on the desk, picked one up.

“Major Ray Brenner. Captain HM Murdock… what’s this?” He smirked again. “A list of her dates?”

“Known associates of the A-Team, sir,” Benson said coldly. “If the plan with Baracus didn’t work out then she thought they might be good leads…”

“Murdock? Isn’t he the one in the VA psych ward?”

“Yes, if you remember he was their…”

“Ridiculous! Why would they stay in contact with a lunatic?”

Lynch crushed the paper into a ball and tossed it into the waste paper basket.

Chapter 7

One week later

BA brought the bike to a halt beside the park bench where Hannibal, Face and Murdock were waiting. Murdock dashed over and flung his arms around BA, hugged him tight.

“Get off me, fool.” But he didn’t push Murdock away. After a moment Murdock stepped back and finally took in what it was BA was riding.

“Oh my god, BA, you got a Harley! Can I ride it? Can I? Can I?”

Hannibal and Face came over grinning.

“Welcome home, BA,” Hannibal said. BA shook hands with Face and then Hannibal. Hannibal looked the Harley Davidson over. “I have to say, Sergeant, when you escape, you escape in style.”

“Yeah,” BA said. He got off the bike. Theft was beneath him, but in this case his moral obligation as a mechanic had forced him to rescue the Harley from being sliced up.

It had been a long ride back to LA, but he’d needed that. Needed the time alone to think. He’d almost not come back at all, not sure he could actually face Hannibal again, face any of them again. Look them in the eyes and pretend he hadn’t almost sold the team down the river.

But where else was he going to go?

Murdock was sitting on the bike now, making vrooming noises. Face stood beside him, a hand on his shoulder, laughing. Hannibal watched them both, shaking his head and smiling.

None of them ever had to know. Never had to know about the choice BA had been offered. And the choice he had made. Maybe on his death bed BA would confess it, but not before then.

The only thing that worried him was the second copy of the immunity agreement, the one they’d sent to his lawyer. Because he didn’t know if they’d sent it to some military appointed lawyer, or to that guy Kelly. He’d been feeling too numb at the time to remember to check. It didn’t matter though. Lawyers had to keep stuff confidential didn’t they? Even if Kelly had it then the secret was safe with him.

“So, you’ve heard Taylor is off the case?” Hannibal said.

“I guessed something like.” BA looked hard at Hannibal. The colonel was smirking as if he knew something. BA wouldn’t put it past him to somehow be behind Lynch getting reinstated.

“What was she like?” Hannibal asked.

“Not so tough.” BA said with a shrug.

“Do-able?” Face asked. BA just scowled at him. Hannibal laughed.

“Come on, BA,” he said. “You won’t believe the size of the dinner we’re gonna buy you to celebrate.”


When Benson arrived at the base he found Taylor outside on the running track doing laps. She saw him and ran up. He saluted smartly.

“Reporting for duty, Colonel.”

“Welcome to Kansas, Captain.” She drank from a water bottle. “Good to have you here.”

“Thank you for requesting the transfer, ma’am,” he said, with sincere gratitude. He took a folder from the briefcase he carried. “I brought you a gift.”

Taylor looked at it, frowned. “A fingerprint report?”

“I lifted the fingerprints of Baracus’s lawyer from his coffee cup.”

She looked at him in surprise. “And why did you do that?”

“I’m a naturally suspicious and distrustful person, ma’am.”

Taylor looked down. Benson suspected she was hiding a smile.

“Excellent work. So, did this Kelly have some kind of record?”

“You could say that, Colonel.”

She opened the folder and read the information inside. Her eyes opened wide and then she started to laugh. She laughed for a long time.

“Thank you, Captain, thank you very much.” She handed him back the folder. “Go and get settled into your office.” She ran off along the track again. He could hear her still laughing.

Lynch did her a favour, Benson thought. Taylor’s good, but even she wouldn’t have got them. She thought she was close. She was nowhere near. Lynch taking the case back has probably saved her career.

As Benson headed to his office he glanced into the folder again, at the words on report.

Identity confirmed: Colonel John Smith. Fugitive. Please detain.

“Please detain.” Benson laughed too. “Yeah right.”