A Change of Course
Summary: Basically a Murdock story, some team bonding at the end. Murdock loses his memory in a crash following a mission. Before he can remember who he is, his life takes a turn. He must make a decision now, to return to the Unit or follow a new course.
Rated PG13, A few swear words, death of a supporting character and the usual angst.
Warnings: Death of a supporting character, but no major injuries to our guys.
Notes: Give me a little leeway with the time frame, I needed at least 3-4 weeks, but I'm not sure I accounted for that much time. Just go with it and enjoy!!
A Change of Course
The plan wasn't coming together...not this time.
The three men stood helplessly on the ground and watched as a plane was being chased through the skies. The aggressor, with guns firing, was right on it's tail. The retreating plane was suppose pick up the men and get them off the ground safely following this last mission, which had been a screw up from the beginning to say the least.
"Murrrdoocck!!!" Face moaned; as he watched the small 6 seater that he had scammed off a private airfield glide out of sight. They didn't hear an explosion, but they held their breath just the same.
"Hannibal, we're still here on the ground, we gotta get moving one way or another", shouted BA.
"I think the last of the bad guys are chasing Murdock, lets get moving on foot and hope he can shake them and come back for us." Hannibal ordered. The three remaining members of the A-Team took off on foot through the field in the direction the plane had headed.
It was late afternoon; the sun was still shinning through the window, as the figure on the bed began to stir. The doctor had been to see him several hours earlier.
"How are you feeling?" a female voice was creeping into his unconscious. The man lying in the bed tried to answer but couldn't. As he slowly woke, he found himself looking into the most beautiful green eyes he'd ever seen.
"Hey there, my brother says you must be one hell of a pilot to bring that plane down like that and not be hurt any worse than you were." The female voice said again.
"What...what happened?" he managed to get out before his voice broke.
"You crash-landed your plane in our field; my brother and I pulled you out and brought you here to my house. The doctor says you just have a minor head wound, but geeze, it could have been so much worse." The female voice belonged to Sarah Moore. So did the beautiful green eyes, which once again had the pilot's attention.
"Where exactly are we", his head was fuzzy, he couldn't remember that he had been in a plane, where he was headed, or why. He put his hand up to his head and felt the thick bandage.
"Center Grove, Kansas", Sarah replied. "You're at our farm. Would you like some water?"
"Sure, that'd be great", his voice was getting stronger and he was coming to full consciousness, but still couldn't figure out what he was doing there. Why would he be in Kansas? He asked the question to himself, but he couldn't figure out where else he should have been.
The water was cold and fresh and somehow he didn't remember water being that good. At that moment it didn't occur to him why.
"I'm Sarah Moore, my brother Matt and I heard your plane coming in, we followed it and found you in our field. It is amazing how you got that thing down without crashing it. Matt says it doesn't look like it's in too bad of shape. He's towing it in, he said to assure you he'd see that it was safe." Sarah was rattling off the information as she took the glass from him and was helping him to sit up, positioning the pillows behind him.
"Now, do you feel like something to eat?" She asked.
He wasn't sure when he'd eaten last, but the ache in his stomach was telling him it had been awhile. "Sure, I'll take something, thanks." He said.
Satisfied that he was comfortable, she turned to leave the room. "By the way, what's your name?" she asked, just as the phone rang. "Oh, excuse me, I'll get that and be right back with the soup". She turned and left the room before he could say anything.
He sat there trying to recall the answer to her simple question, "what was his name?"
A Change of Course 2/7
Hannibal, Face and BA made it to the road, no one had followed them. Several hours had passed and there was no sign of the bad guys or of their pilot, HM Murdock.
"I got a bad feeling, Hannibal, it ain't" like that fool to leave us high and dry." BA. said with concern in his voice. BA hated to fly, but at this point, he just wanted to find Murdock and get the heck out there.
"Yeah Hannibal, Murdock wouldn't let a few guys with guns keep him from coming back to get us." Face tried to make light of the situation, but all three knew something bad had happened when Murdock didn't come back. No one was more loyal to the unit than their pilot.
"Well, we didn't hear any explosion we can only hope that Murdock was able to shake those guys and put the plane down. Question is where - and can we find him." Hannibal said.
"We're out here in the middle of nowhere, Hannibal", Face said as he observed his surroundings. His eyes were always moving, always checking for danger. Out here, there was nothing, just nothing.
"Can't believe we took a job in Kansas, Hannibal. I didn't even know there was a state called Kansas", BA said frustrated.
"First, we've got to find a few things. We need food, water, transportation and a plan." Hannibal said as he took out a cigar.
"I sure hope this plan is better than the last one," BA said.
The three men started walking, staying just out of sight of anyone traveling the gravel road.
A week had passed and Murdock had fully recovered from his head wound and the bruise to his knee. He had checked out the plane and found it to be in working order. He found several holes that looked suspiciously like bullet holes, but he dismissed the possibility and determined that whatever caused him to crash, must have been his own error.
He still had a lot of unanswered questions, and wasn't ready to try and figure it all out. He didn't realize the crash was NOT pilot error. He had been the best combat pilot in Vietnam; a little turbulence wouldn't have caused him to lose control. He did know his name now, and he knew how to fly, but so many details about his life were still a mystery
He liked the little town and he and Sarah were becoming fast friends. Since Murdock couldn't remember what he liked to do, he was happy to follow Sarah around while she did her daily chores on the farm. He could hardly keep up with his share of the work, because he wanted to stop and play with all the animals. Sarah was tickled by his child-like enthusiasm.
She had to put her foot down when Murdock decided to give all the chickens names, in hopes that Sarah wouldn't butcher them for dinner. She simply stated that made it easier, she'd start with "a" and work her way through the alphabet.
Then he decided that "Billy" the billy goat was lonely, so he moved him inside, specifically to the linen closet, so he'd have a nice soft bed.
Sarah had to explain that this was a "working" farm, not a petting zoo. She informed him then, that he must be a city boy, and not from the country!
He woke up when he heard the dogs barking in the yard. For a moment he wasn't sure where he was, then it came back to him.
Murdock got up and walked to the doorway of the kitchen and saw Sarah busy at the sink. Based on his 6" 2" frame, he estimated Sarah to be about 5" 7". She was slim with dark brown hair that cascaded onto her shoulders. And those sparkling green eyes that he could not get out of his mind. She never seemed to stop, she had endless energy. He knew his feelings for her were growing, but until he knew who he was and where he belonged, they could only be friends.
"Hey", he said to her from the doorway, "whatcha doin?"
She turned, startled and said, " I'm just cleaning up a bit, and I've got to go into town, wanna come?"
"Not today, I'm going to take the plane up, sort of a test run. I can't do anymore with it till I get it airborne again and see how she handles." He said as he watched her move towards him.
"OK, I should be back by lunch, see you then?" She said, tapping him on the chest as she walked by.
"It's a date," he said with a grin and moved aside to let her by. He could smell the fragrance of her perfume, he wasn't sure what it was, but he knew he liked it on her.
It was a beautiful day for a plane ride. Murdock had been airborne for half an hour; the plane seemed to be handling just fine. He sat back to enjoy the moment. Somehow he knew this was where he was meant to be. It just felt so right. Although he felt content being here with Sarah, there was always an unknown, a darkness that seemed to reside just under the surface in his mind.
All of a sudden he felt a pain in his head. His vision become blurry and he knew he had to get the plane on the ground before he blacked out. He landed without incident and never did black out. He put his head in hands and let out a scream.
It all came rushing back, Vietnam, the nightmares, the death and destruction. He remembered the reason for the crash too; the Team had been hired to bring down an organized crime unit that had ties to a moonshine operation in the area. He ran right into their air cover before he could land and pick up the Team, he was being shot at and lost power. That's when he ended up in the field behind Sarah's house.
He sat there unable to move for what seemed like hours. Then he felt himself start breathing again. It was all clear. He knew who he was and where he belonged. He just wasn't sure he wanted to belong there any longer.
A Change of Course 3/7
Each evening after dinner Murdock sat on the bench out back looking up at the sky. This evening he knew why. He was meant to be in the air, he was the best damn combat pilot in Nam and now he remembered. He also knew how much flying meant to him. But something else was beginning to mean a lot to him too.
He decided not to tell Sarah everything just yet. He needed a few days to digest what had happened. He laughed to himself when he thought of the VA hospital and whether they had figured out he was gone. Face never kept him away this long.
Sarah walked out onto the porch and sat down next to him. "You're always gazing at the stars, do they hold any answers for you?" she teased, unaware that on this night, they did.
"I just know I was always happiest up there." He grinned. "But lately I'm not sure that's all I want." He reached his hand up to her face and stroked it gently. She closed her eyes to take in all of the feelings. Before she could open her eyes, he leaned over and kissed her. When he felt her return the eagerness of his kiss, he took her closer.
The next morning, it took him a few minutes to remember where he was. "Not again", he moaned, he was sure it would come to him, but the events of the previous day had been more than even a sane person could handle. He had regained his memory and he and Sarah had turned from friends into lovers.
He chuckled to himself as the reality began to hit him. "Oh my" he mumbled with a grin. He looked over and the bed beside him was empty. Sarah had already gotten up and now he could hear her in the kitchen.
He walked into the kitchen unsure of what he would encounter. Sarah heard him, turned and walked over and gave him a big hug. He knew everything was all right. He was hoping that last night hadn't been a mistake. They were such good friends, he'd hate to see it end if they became more than that.
"This is the fourth town we've searched, why can't we just go back to LA?" moaned BA, "Fool probably already has."
"Now BA," Face broke in, "you know Murdock would never abandon us. He's here somewhere, maybe hurt, maybe hiding. We've got to keep looking until we find some evidence to explain what happened." Face knew BA wasn't serious about leaving.
"Lets just keep a low profile and keep looking around. Hey, at least we're safe from Decker here, he wouldn't even be able to find this place!" Hannibal said, putting a stop to the debate. "I think we'll hang around here a few more days, I feel like there's something here, and I'm not sure what it is."
A Change of Course 4/7
Murdock spotted the silver haired man coming out of the general store, and recognized his commander instantly. He was relieved to see that the guys were all right. He had been concerned about them once he regained his memory.
Murdock stepped back in to the shadows of the doorway. He knew he had to contact them, but damn he just wasn't ready to go back to LA, or the VA Hospital, or the life he had before. Even the nightmares had stopped.
He wasn't sure how to tell them, or if they'd even let him stay behind. He had fallen in love, the one thing he never figured would happen. This sleepy town was as far away from his past as he could get, and he wasn't ready to go back. No, he never wanted to go back.
He decided to lie low, just a few more days, hoping to buy some time. He knew how to contact them if he needed to but for now, he needed his space. He hoped they'd understand. The town was small and the people in it were tight. No one would offer any information about him. He was going to make a decision soon. He wanted to stay here with Sarah.
If she'd have him, then he would tell the guys he wasn't returning. If she said no, he would have to make his peace with the past and return to his unit.
He met up with Sarah outside the grocery store and hurried her into the truck to return to the farm. He was unusually quiet on the trip home, which worried Sarah. Murdock was always going on about something, always making her laugh.
"Anything wrong?" she asked finally.
"No, not really." He said. "But, we need to talk about some stuff, I've filled you in on a lot of things, but there's one …there's something that I need to …well… let's take the plane up this afternoon, I usually do my best thinking in the air."
He had told her that he lived in LA, and about Vietnam, although he was sketchy about his life since then. She knew he was on some assignment here in Kansas, but he was vague about who he worked for.
"Sure, that'd be fun." But she wasn't sure she wanted to know what he had to tell her. She had gotten used to having him around, and it scared her to think he might be getting ready to tell her, he was leaving. She knew it was time for them to talk, for she too had been keeping a secret.
Both of them were deep in thought as they made the rest of the trip back to the farm in silence.
A Change of Course 5/7
The meadow where they planned to have lunch was just beyond the next clump of trees. Sarah sat back and took in the beauty of the country, which she had never seen from the air until Murdock had come into her life. He showed her the wonders from up high. He lived for the sky, it was the only place he was truly free.
She looked over at him, as he scanned the horizon, she felt totally safe with him. He looked like a kid in his brown flight jacket and blue baseball cap. He was totally at ease in the air, but she knew there were secrets he was keeping, she could feel it when they were close. They'd become lovers soon after he had regained his memory, lost when he crashed his plane into the field behind her house. She and her brother rescued him and she fell in love for the first time in her life.
A jolt brought her back to reality. "What was that?" she said with definite fear in her voice.
"I'm not sure", said Murdock, "she kicked there for a second".
He hit the dials on the control panel as a cold chill ran through him. He remembered the suspicious holes he had found in the plane after the crash. He never told Sarah or her brother about them. He had checked the plane out thoroughly himself, but if a bullet had braised a hose someplace he couldn't see, well he didn't want to think about that right now.
"We're almost to the clearing, is your seat belt fastened?" he asked trying to keep his voice calm.
"Yes", was all she could manage to say.
"Do you have your cell phone?" he asked hurriedly.
"Ah huh", she voiced.
"Get it and dial 555-6162, then put the phone up where I can talk into it", Murdock shouted.
Sarah had no idea who Murdock would be calling at a time like this. He had filled her in on his memory coming back, but he'd obviously left out a few major pieces.
Sarah hoped she'd dialed the right number; her hands were shaking so badly.
"Yeah?" came a voice on the other end.
"Hannibal, it's Murdock, meet me in the meadow just beyond the main intersection of town. I'm in the plane, we're having problems and we're coming down!" Murdock yelled into the phone.
Without hesitation Hannibal threw the phone down and yelled, "BA! Face! Lets move out!!" -------------
For the next few minutes Murdock fought with the controls. The engines sputtered in and out, he could hardly keep the nose of the plane up. They passed below the level of the treetops and the ground was coming up fast.
A Change of Course 6/7
From the ground it was deja vu. It was just a few weeks earlier that the team watched helplessly as Murdock dodged a plane trying to shoot him down. Now, they watched him fight to keep a plane in the air again, this time with mechanical problems.
The minutes seemed like hours. Finally Murdock yelled, "put your head down and your arms over your head." Sarah did as she was told. She still trusted Murdock completely. As the plane hit the ground, it bumped up and down few times and Sarah thought they would flip over, and then everything went dark.
BA had the jeep speeding through the meadow as the plane hit the ground. He saw the plane come to a stop. After what seemed like an eternity the pilot's door was opened and Murdock struggled to stand as he got out. With a hand at his head he ran around to the passenger side of the plane and threw open the door.
Murdock saw that Sarah was unconscious. He undid her seat belt, lifted her out and carried her to a safe place on the ground away from the plane. As he fell to the ground with her in his arms, he signaled to BA, who had already spotted them.
"Who's he got there!" BA shouted as the jeep turned to intercept the pair.
"I don't know, looks like a woman." Hannibal responded.
"What the hell is going on here?" Muttered Face, not quite believing what was happening. Why did Murdock call them so suddenly, how did he even know they were in this town. It was like he knew they would be right there, but then again they were always right there for each other.
BA stopped the jeep about 20 feet from where Murdock and Sarah had fallen in the grass. The three jumped out and ran over to them. Murdock was cradling Sarah in his arms with her head against his chest.
The team stopped short, realizing immediately there was nothing they could do.
"Sarah, honey, can you hear me?" Murdock's voice was about to break.
Sarah stirred, opening her eyes a little. She managed to smile at him.
"You're gonna be ok, baby. BA! Call 911 do it now!!" Murdock yelled.
As BA turned, he glanced at Hannibal who waved him off. The signal is one BA had seen too many times. It meant there's nothing that can be done.
Sarah spoke again to Murdock; the team could barely hear her soft voice. "You know these have been the happiest weeks of my life." She grimaced with pain as she spoke, but her words were clear.
"Me too sweetheart, me too", was all Murdock could manage. He smoothed her hair off her forehead away from the bleeding wound. He rocked her as if that would keep her from fading away.
BA, Hannibal and Face looked at each other, the story was beginning to become clear.
Sarah continued, "Remember the first time you made love to me?"
Murdock nodded. "Sure I do, I fell in love with you that night."
"I was going to tell you today at our picnic, I think I'm going to have a baby." Sarah managed to get the words out with the last of her breath.
Murdock felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest. He was now aware that the situation was grave by the fact that BA was still standing nearby. He too had seen the signal. He held her until he felt her stop breathing and go limp in his arms.
A Change of Course 7/7
The Team hadn't discussed the details of the past weeks. The past 2 days had been enough. The entire town attended Sarah's funeral. The towns people had never seen her happier than she had been since she and Murdock had been together and everyone let him know it. No one blamed him for the accident, it was decided it was due to mechanical trouble with the plane. He never told anyone about the bullet holes he'd found and still wasn't sure what the actual cause of the accident was.
He was never much for crowds so the unexpected attention from the towns people was very uncomfortable for him. He accepted the condolences as best he could, but he just wanted to get the heck out of there. He knew still he owed the Team a big explanation.
He hadn't contacted them when he regained his memory. Then he called them out of the blue when he was in trouble. He knew it wasn't fair, and he'd have to take whatever reprimand was coming to him.
But at this moment, back with the Team, finally heading out of town, all he could think of was Sarah and the unborn child he'd never know. The guys caught the tone of the last conversation between Murdock and Sarah, but they didn't ask any questions. There'd be time for that later.
"Turn right here, BA", Murdock said with no particular conviction to his voice.
"Here?" BA asked, "but the highway is straight ahead"
"Turn here, I want to show you guys something." Murdock answered.
BA turned onto the street Murdock had directed him to.
"Up there on the right big guy, stop". Murdock pointed at a house and BA stopped.
The guys followed Murdock's lead when he got out of the car and walked up to the front door. They thought it was the home of one of Sarah's friends; they were surprised to see Murdock take out a key and open the front door.
"Come on in, guys", he said.
The last two days had been a whirlwind; they had stayed in town, in a motel room.
"This is where we lived", Murdock said to no one in particular.
He glanced around the room and realized everything was as it had been the day they went for their picnic. Hannibal and the others looked around, no one could say anything.
"Here's how it is guys". Murdock started to speak. "After the last mission, I crash-landed in the field behind the house. Sarah and her brother rescued me and patched me up. I didn't know who I was, or what I was doing here. I didn't remember you guys or where I belonged. Before I regained my memory, I fell in love with Sarah."
"One day I was up flying and it all came rushing back to me. It hurt my head so bad I had to land the plane in the meadow. I sat there for several hours wrestling with what I should do. I was so happy here with Sarah, but I knew I owed you guys an explanation.
"When I saw you in town, I knew you were safe. I was going to contact you, I promise I was. But I had to make a decision first. If Sarah had agreed to marry me, I was going to tell you I was out, I was leaving the unit and staying here with her."
"When the plane had trouble, I just knew I could call you. My whole world has gone upside down and sideways these past weeks. I wont blame you guys if you never forgive me."
Murdock's voice was breaking, partly due to the fact that he'd lied to his best friends and partly due to the fact that he'd never have his life with Sarah. Right now he figured he'd be spending the rest of his life without either of them.
The guys stood there silent for a few minutes. BA was the first to speak up. "Don't you think we want this too? Don't you know we all think about a house, a wife and some kids someday?" BA's voice was calm. "We've spent all these years working and living together, but someday things will change, it doesn't mean we'll stop being friends."
"Yeah", Face picked up the conversation, " I'm just sorry you felt you couldn't tell us. We were worried about you, we thought you were hurt somewhere or dead."
Face was careful not to make his words too sharp. All that was in the past, the present was here, and Murdock had lost the only real love he'd known. Now was not the time for a dressing down from Face.
"Colonel?" Murdock was most concerned about his reaction. Hannibal was his commander and he would be the one to determine whatever punishment he'd be in for.
Hannibal breathed in slowly then said, "I'm just sorry we never got to know Sarah. She must have been a very special lady for you to have loved her so much. Did she agree to marry you?"
Murdock closed his eyes, took a deep breath, "I never got the chance to ask her".
Hannibal was visibly shaken by the answer; he put his arm across Murdock's shoulder as he led him out of the house. The Team followed his lead as they always did.
Murdock would spend a long time getting over the events of the past weeks, but Hannibal kept him busy, breaking him out of the VA hospital for one mission after another.
Murdock tried to put up a good front, keeping himself busy perfecting the art of antagonizing BA. BA knew his friend was hurting, so he put up with Murdock's array personalities and invisible friends. He even let Billy ride in the van a few times.
Face kept a close eye on the banter between the two. BA could crack at anytime and really hurt Murdock. He saw the strain it was putting on the big man, and he begged Hannibal to intervene.
Murdock kept pushing until one day BA had had all he could take. He grabbed Murdock by the collar and shoved him up against the van door. Before Hannibal and Face could come to his rescue, Murdock's face broke into a big wide grin.
"Thanks big guy, I knew I could count on you to let me know when things were all right again." Murdock said, as the grin faded and tears began to gather in his eyes.
BA released his hold on Murdock's collar and he fell into BA's arms.
"You crazy fool", BA said fighting back tears, "don't you go getting me all wet now."
Murdock stood back and looked around at his three friends, "I don't think I could have gotten through this without you guys, you really are my family. I promise I won't shut you out again, no matter what."
Face let out a sign of relief as he looked over at Hannibal. The Colonel was grinning too. It was his intention all along to let BA be the one to bring Murdock back to them.
"I love it when a plan comes together." He said.