Disclaimer: The A-Team and its members are the creations of Stephen J Cannell and Frank Lupo. They belong to Universal and Stephen J Cannell Productions. No copyright infringement intended. All other characters, events, and locations in this fan-fic are purely the production of the author's imagination and only written for the pleasure of the author. If coincidence occurs - it is just that: coincidence.

The Reverse Rumplestiltskin

by  Jennifer Doak

Part 1:

"Murdock, I really don't care as long as Billy and his little friends don't chew up my shoes or drool all over my suits, O.K.?" Lieutenant Tempelton "Face" Peck was saying as the Millwood, Arkansas city limit sign passed. The A-Team had just finished a mission that had taken them to Atlanta, Georgia. They had decided that it would be pleasant as well as wise to take a route back to Los Angeles that would be off the direct route yet not way out of the way. They had gone through Louisiana into Arkansas. "I don't want my brand new Armanis to become Billy's birthday cake."

"Shut up! Both of you, shut up! Faceman, you soundin' more and more like that crazy fool!" Sergeant BA Baracus bellowed from the driver's seat. "There ain't no dog. Billy's a figment of that crazy man's imagination. So Billy can't have no birthday party. If either . . ."

"BA" Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith warned from the front passenger's seat as he lit his second cigar since crossing the Arkansas state line. BA grimaced but said nothing at the correction. After a moment or two of silence, Hannibal said, "Pull over in the next gas station, I think we need something to eat. And I know everybody is tired." It had been a long drive. They all needed a break.

As the bell rang for old-fashioned service, the Team exited the van. "Face, you and Murdock, go to the diner across the street and get us somthin' to eat. BA, after the attendant puts gas in the van, pay the man. Let's meet back here. I'm goin' to keep watch -- be sure there aren't any MPs behind us." Everybody nodded to their assignment and headed where they were assigned.

Part 2:

"Hey, Faceman, what ya hungry for? Billy and I want some nice juicy steak or somethin'," Captain H.M. "Howlin' Mad" Murdock asked as they approached the diner. Face's attention was elsewhere, namely on a very shapely, young, red-head apparently headed for the diner as well. His piercing blue eyes sparkled as they neared the young woman. "Faceman," Murdock persisted, "what you want?"

"Hmmm? Ummm, oh. That lovely young red-head over there," he smiled his winning smile as he nodded a greeting over the distance between them. Murdock rolled his eyes. "Excuse me," Face said, oozing charm as they drew close, "would you care to join me for a lovely lunch? I don't like crowds. Maybe we could, um, find someplace a bit more quiet -- hmmm?" he gazed at her expectantly.

"Drop dead," she said with such vehemence he did not doubt her Irish lineage. She brushed passed them and entered the hardware store next door. Face straightened his tie and he, and a somewhat bemused, Murdock entered the diner.

Face walked up to the counter -- "Yes, I need five hamburgers, four large fries, two large Dr. Peppers, one Coke, and one large milk." While they sat on the stools and Murdock continued to tell all about the exciting birthday party he was throwing for Billy, Face looked around the bar to be sure that there were no traps. Satisfied that they weren't in any danger and tired of anything relating to Billy's birthday party, he decided to change the subject. "Murdock, I sure am glad we didn't have to fly this time -- I'm really tired of BA being in such a foul mood, it's worse when we fly."

"Speaking of which, next time you scam us a plane, Faceman, -- it really is gonna have to better than the last one. I haven't seen a plane in that bad a shape since we went down to Mexico to shoot that movie that you starred in as Lake Charles. It was closer to a flyin' coffin and it sounded and flew like an asthmatic chicken. Say, do you know that the world record for the longest chicken flight was thirteen seconds?" Before Face could answer "no, he didn't" Murdock continued: "You know I think that purple party hats would be great, they'd match Billy's collar, don't you think?" Murdock returned to his former subject. Unsuccessful, Face only nodded in agreement and submission. "Maybe some . . ." Murdock was interrupted as an elderly man was shoved up against the window by a teenager that appeared to their expert eyes to be high on something, probably crack cocaine, knowing its current popularity. The kid was demanding all of the man's money. They walked over and took him firmly by the arms, careful not to hurt him, and pulled him away from the man at the window. "Are you O.K., sir?" Murdock asked out of concern for the man. The boy tried to fight their grip, but the rush of the drug had almost passed and he collapsed between them.

"Thank you, gentleman. I appreciate your assistance, I am well, thank you. I'm not as fast or as strong as I used to be. I was at a distinct disadvantage. Again, I thank you." About that time the sheriff's large deputy walked in and thanked them as well, cuffed the still unconscious boy and threw him over his shoulder and walked out. No one seemed surprised at all.

Face and Murdock both raised their eyebrows as they turned back toward the counter. It was a bit unusual but effective -- after all this was a small town. They could hear a man in the back of the diner saying, "If he was my kid, I'd blister his behind." A woman could be heard saying, "This is the fourteenth time that I have been here that Charlie has had to carry Johnny out because of his behavior -- where do these kids get this stuff -- you know he takes cocaine and marijuana?"

Taking the sacks that contained the Team's lunch, Murdock, quiet for the moment, and Face turned and left. After leaving the diner, Murdock was the first to speak, "It's scarier than some of the stuff we faced in 'Nam. How can this happen? These are just young kids, more and more everyday getting addicted, ruining their lives before they even have the chance to do something with them." Both shook their heads and arrived at the van at the same time that Hannibal returned, and then BA stepped out of the station. After he had finished paying he had chatted with the attendant / mechanic about cars and mechanics since the rest of the team was not back yet. As they began to get in, Murdock paused instead of going right to seat behind the driver. Face, hungry and ready to eat, prodded, "What's wrong Murdock? Billy trying to find a place to bed-down? Hurry up, will ya?"

"Uh, Colonel?" Murdock called as Hannibal stepped up onto the running board and lit a cigar.

"Yes, Captain?" he called from just outside the van.

"We don't happen to have a pacifier around here, do we?" he asked as he dropped into his seat and put part of their lunch behind his seat. Hannibal slid into his seat and BA returned to his place in the driver's seat. Face could see a basket between the captain style seats as he stepped up onto the running board and munched on a french fry.

"What's that?" he asked, as he swallowed another french fry and sat down into his usual seat.

Murdock glanced up from whatever it was, "It's a baby."

Part 3:

"A BABY!" the other three asked in unison. Hannibal and BA whirled around to see from the front. Face dropped the sack and the almost eaten french fry into his lap, glad that there was nothing at all in his mouth at that moment because he might have choked.

"Where did it come from?"

"Face, do you know any girls around here very well?"

"A baby?"

"No, Hannibal, I don't know anyone around here, I don't think."

"Look, here's a note." At that revelation, the van became silent as Murdock displayed the envelope. But the loudness of their response to this surprise had awakened the infant. It began to cry and scream.

"Captain," Hannibal voiced over the crying child, "give me the envelope. Somebody, quieten that baby. BA?"

"No, not me, Hannibal. I work with little kids, but not babies." BA responded. "Maybe the crazy fool can make it quiet."

"Uh, Hannibal, I don't think that Billy would want me holding a baby, he might be jealous. Besides, there aren't many babies in the VA psyche ward, you know what I mean?"

"Face, pick it up." Hannibal made it an order.

"But, Colonel . . ." he protested.

"Do it, Lieutenant," Smith ordered. Face put the sack of food that had fallen into his lap behind his seat and reached down into the basket and gently placed one hand under the baby's neck and the other creating a seat for the baby and drew it near his chest and cradled it for a moment just as he had seen many of his former girlfriends do just after they told him that they were dating again after a bad marriage. He hated it when that happened.

The baby quit crying and began to coo quietly. Hannibal grinned -- "You're a natural, kid." Face gave his famous, crooked, 'thanks a lump' grin at that. Hannibal continued, "Now," addressing the baby, quietly, "let's see what you have to say. Hmmm," as he opened the letter all was silent and expectant, " 'I recognized you as the A-Team and your helpfulness in the diner confirmed your innocence in my eyes. You have helped many people. Please help me. This is my daughter, Jordan. You must take her with you. Her life is in danger. Please protect her and find her a good home. God bless you all."

"Who knew we were here?"

"Who would recognize us like that?"

"What happened in the diner? "How did she get into the van?"

"Could it be a trap? I mean, would the government stoop to using a baby to catch us?"

"She couldn't have walked in here by herself, you know what I mean?"

"Of course not, fool."

"Where's your mommy and daddy, Jordan? Who are they?"

" 'Jordan', huh?" Their question tumbled over each other, quietly this time.

Part 4:

The team drove down two blocks to a small motel. "Face you go check us in. We'll wait here." Hannibal said.

"Right, Colonel. Uhh, what about Jordan?" Face looked sheepishly at Smith indicating the bundle he still cradled so gently.

"Give 'er to Murdock." Hannibal quickly responded. A shocked and somewhat horrified look passed across Murdock's features. He paled.

"I d-don't want to hurt her, ac-accidentally," he stuttered a bit. "I mean, what if I drop her?" Face grinned.

"It's okay, Murdock," feeling that he was some kind of expert compared to the rest, "just hold her like this." He indicated the way he held Jordan. He carefully passed her across the short distance between them. Murdock took her more carefully than he would have taken nitroglycerin, cradling her as Face had done only moments before. Jordan had been sleeping. She awoke at the motion, but made no noise. Her pale blue eyes looked up into his and she smiled a slimy, toothless, yet winning smile. His fear of accidentally hurting her melted away as he realized that he could never hurt her.

"Look, she's smiling at me," Murdock pronounced with his voice full of wonder and relief.

"I'm gonna go check us in now," Face announced needlessly as he opened the sliding van door and stepped out into the April sunshine. He slid the door shut behind him and soon disappeared into the office.

"We better try to find out who her mother and father are," Hannibal declared. "It doesn't make sense. Why would her life be in danger? If her life is, in fact, in danger then it seems that her parents must be in danger as well. If that's true, why didn't they ask us for help for the whole family since they obviously knew who we are. Too many things just don't add up," Hannibal thought out loud as he puffed on his cigar; the smoke swirled out the window, carried by the cool spring breeze. "I think we'd better check this thing out."

Part 5:

All was quiet in the van -- even Jordan for the moment.

"What we do now, Hannibal?" BA asked, breaking the silence.

"We find out what's going on," Smith responded.

"Uhh, Colonel, I think we'd better find some diapers pretty soon. She's wet. I mean REAL wet. 'fore too long, we gonna have a big mess," Murdock said from his place. "Then we need some formula or somethin' to feed 'er. Hamburgers and Billy's dog food just won't cut it." Jordan was very awake now. She had a wonderful temperament, especially considering how really wet she was. She waved her hands at Murdock's face, cooed, and burbled. Occasionally she'd giggle and try to say words, then give up and put her hand in her mouth and kick her ever active feet.

Murdock began to try his hand at the "entertain the baby business." He'd cross his eyes, shake his head like a dog, and touch his nose with his tongue. He was frequently rewarded, to his great pleasure, with a giggle or total fascination, in which Jordan would stare at him wide eyed. "Who'd give you a name like 'Jordan'? That name is too boyish for a pretty lady like yourself." He paused a moment, "I think I'll call you Jody." He laid her down flat on his lap so that he could make shapes with his hands. "How about a butterfly, Jody?" Jordan burbled a giggle. Inspired, Murdock continued. "Look, Jody, a huey." Murdock twirled on finger in the air form the fuselage of the helicopter with his other hand. He made a rapid thdt-thdt-thdt sound imitating the sound of the blades. "Look, Jody, a Jolly Green." He made the fuselage bigger, and made a lower pitched thdt-thdt-thdt sound. "Look, Jody, it's a . . ."

"Shut up, fool. She don't know what all them different helicopters are. And her name is Jordan, not Jody," BA fussed from the front seat. Next to him Hannibal sighed as he continued to puff thoughtfully on his ever-present cigar.

"I wasn't gonna do a 'chopper this time. It was gonna be the Spruce Goose -- so there. And you know, BA, you shouldn't say "shut up, fool" in front of the baby. In all my experience at the VA, I've learned that what a child is exposed to at a young age can affect it for the rest of it's life. And . . ."

"I said, 'Shut up, FOOL!'" BA interrupted Murdock's diatribe.

"Still shouldn't do it -- right, Jody?" Murdock finished.

"Blahh-eeeemph-babbab," Jordan commented as she grabbed for Murdock's nose.

"Blabphemt-blblblab," he responded in kind.

"Finally, someone who can talk with the crazy man and understand," BA commented under his breath.

Part 6:

At that moment Face stepped out of the office, holding the key to their room in his left hand and running his right hand through his light, sandy brown hair.

He glanced around, habitually, for trouble. He strolled up to Hannibal's front passenger window, jabbing his thumb toward the back of the motel he said, "We're in room 117 in the back. Here's the key," he said, handing it to the Colonel. "You know, it was strange. In a small town usually people ask a whole lot more questions. Everybody knows everything in a small town. Nobody tried to start up a conversation to find out anything." He shrugged and shook his head as he opened the slide door on the van and dropped into his seat behind Hannibal. He turned and gazed amusedly at the show Murdock was continuing to put on for Jordan. He turned his attention to BA and said, "Just back up and go left around that corner, BA," Face directed, pointing to his right. "It's room 117," he finished. Then returned to his observation of the performance.

When they arrived at their assigned room, Hannibal ordered, "Face, get the food and the baby's basket. Murdock, bring Junior, there." He paused for an instant. "Face -- "

"Yes, Colonel?" Face responded.

"Bring one of your extra shirts," he finished.

"One of my shir? . . .No, Hannibal, not my new shirts. That's not fair. I mean those shirts are expensive," he whined.

"Face," Hannibal interrupted, "you always have more extra clothes than the rest of us. You shouldn't mind sharing with Junior. Come on guys, let's go." Hannibal left with the key and he and BA entered and check out the hotel room. No listening devices, no bombs, no bad guys with guns.

Back at the van, Face pulled out his least favorite, plaid, linen shirt and grabbed the wheat-gold wicker basket that had held Jordan until they had found her. The flannel-like white blanket spilled over the edges - "we'll have to take a look in here for clues -- AFTER lunch" he thought. He and Murdock proceeded and entered the motel room.

Part 7:

As he walked in, Face laid the food bags onto the multi-purpose table, next to which he set the basket. He then reluctantly tossed his shirt to Murdock, who had laid Jordan on the counter and began to search for a way to remove the wet diaper. "Uhh, guys, I could use some help over here." Murdock called to the others. "I got it off, now what?" They gathered near Jordan and Murdock. Jordan seemed amused at their inexperience at changing diapers and the confusion that it was causing.

"Linen? Face, it's gonna go right through that fabric," Hannibal observed.

"What if, once we get the shirt," Face sighed, "on her, we ummm," he looked around, "we can cover the diaper part with part of the new garbage sack at the bottom of the can. Then it will at least look like the other one, sort of."

"Anybody got any safety pins or somethin'?" Murdock asked.

"Safety-pins?" BA asked. "I got some staples and a staple gun in the van." He began to explain his plan.

"WE CAN'T staple it to Jody. It'd be cruel," Murdock interrupted.

"Shut up, Fool. Let me finish." BA snapped.

"What's your plan, BA?" Hannibal asked.

"I say we staple the sides, shirt and plastic, with the staple gun then, bend the points down with the pliers. What you think, Hannibal? " BA finished.

"Do it, BA" Hannibal replied. When this was accomplished, everybody washed up and began to eat. They had laid Jordan in the middle of the bed when they started. About half way through the meal, she began to cry.

"She has to be hungry," Face announced. "Five minutes or so, I'll be finished. I'll take her and Murdock and we'll get some diapers and some formula or somethin'." Jordan continued to cry.

"Here, she was quiet earlier when you picked her up, Face. I'll keep her quiet 'til you're done," Hannibal volunteered. He walked over and scooped her up into his arms. Jordan continued to whimper, but it was more subdued.

"Thanks, Hannibal," Face said. Hannibal lit his cigar and carried her across the room toward the rest of the guys. Almost immediately Jordan began to cough and cry. She tried to rub her face, her eyes watering.

"Hannibal, give her to me," Face demanded as he took the baby.

"Hannibal, that isn't good for the baby. Why don't you take it outside?," Murdock said. Looking to BA for support, Smith found none.

"Much as I hate to admit it, you're right, guys. I'll finish it outside. You know I need my cigar to think," Hannibal said, sounding betrayed. He knew he'd better go outside if he was going to smoke. He didn't want to hurt Jordan. He'd lit the cigar out of habit. He turned and left the room.

Part 8:

Face finished off his hamburger with his next bite. Jordan continued to fuss in his arms. He decided that it was time to inspect the basket much more closely. "Here, BA, take `er, will ya? I'm gonna check out the basket." BA took Jordan carefully. Cradling her in his arms, he couldn't resist tickling her under the chin. She grinned briefly at him before she became preoccupied with the gold metal chains that hung low on his chest. Upon her smile, BA giggled. Face smiled to himself. Murdock and Face often felt that BA's rough exterior covered his child-like joy, that was demonstrated on brief occasions when he would giggle.

Face continued to dig through the basket, examining every item closely for any clue as to Jordan's predicament. He began by removing the blanket and inspecting it; he could find nothing attached to it. Meanwhile, Murdock stood with both hands in his pockets watching BA entertain Jordan. Face laid the blanket on the table, next to the basket. He continued to examine the inside of the now empty basket. He searched fruitlessly for false sides or bottom or anything hidden. He found nothing. "Guess it's time to go to the next town, and find Jordan here," Face said pointing at the baby, "something to eat." Just then Hannibal sauntered in and, finished with his cigar, he took the baby from B.A. It was, after all, his turn; although his mind reeled at the thought, in his heart he was kind of getting used to having her around. "Face you and Murdock walk over to the town hall and find out who Jordan here really is. Any other piece of information would be helpful. BA and I will go on to the next town and get her something to eat and some diapers," Hannibal doled out the responsibilities.

"Hannibal, it's not that simple - we don't know if she was born here. We don't have any idea how old she is . . ." Face started.

"She is a baby. Somewhere between a day and two years, I'd guess," Murdock suggested in a helpful tone of voice. Face rolled his eyes at the comment and grinned his crooked, "thanks a lump" grin, and turned his gaze back toward Hannibal but his focus remained the bundle Hannibal held protectively.

`Who could possibly want to hurt something so wonderful? Jordan, what's *your* story?' Face thought to himself.

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