Author's Note: So, after years and years away from , I come back bearing story thanks to my latest obsession, The A-Team. I am now on season two of the original TV series (so no spoilers, please!) and continue to fall in love with Sharlto Copley of the movie, which is easy to do in my opinion because he's ridiculously talented and attractive AND he plays my favorite character. :)
Now, I'm already writing stories and, of course, this one has to do with my favorite character being challenged and stretched in more ways than he probably ever wanted to be. It happens a lot in my fanfiction, which is bad for the character, but almost always interesting to me (and hopefully you).
So with that...
WARNING: This story has torture and character abuse, physical and mental. There is violence. There is drug use. There is foul language. There might be nudity, but right now, probably not. In short, this story is rated for a reason.
ALSO: I work two jobs and do screenwriting in my spare time. I have written much further ahead on this story than I usually do, but after those chapters run out, please bear with me. Yell at me if you get frustrated, but please know I'm doing the best I can. I hate abandoned stories too! And because I am usually fairly busy, this story will have spelling and grammar mistakes. I'm sorry. :(
With that said, please review, message me, whatever if you have questions, encouragements, or constructive criticism. Have an idea? A prediction? Found a typo? Let me know! I love to talk (if you can't tell), and I love to squeal. So say hi!
Disclaimers: I do not own The A-Team, otherwise it would still be on television.
Chapter One: Kites
CHICAGO "L" – PRESENT
It was funny what he could remember.
He couldn't remember exactly how he had gotten here, or who had taken him here, or even if he was actually here at all. He didn't remember where his shoes or gone, or why he couldn't move his right hand, or, hell, why his jaw was broken. You'd think he'd remember something like that.
What he COULD remember was a dream.
An unnaturally, normal dream.
The dream had come months ago, during that warm night right after a particularly hair raising run between canyons, over rivers, and through the woods to grandmother's house - if grandmother had been Colombian and smuggling cocaine into the States.
He had been with four men, were sleeping in a run down hotel just inland of the coast of Mexico, in a sleepy town that was covered in layers of dust that outnumbered the people who lived there.
He'd knew he'd been sharing a room with a man, the latter already asleep with ribs taped and silk shirt, despite the blood stains, carefully folded on a nearby chair. And he knew that this man was the reason he had been sleeping on the floor.
But he couldn't remember the man's name.
There were vague things he remembered about that night that he knew should have triggered more memory. The man breathing, a cricket chirping, the smoke smell as someone passed by the window, and even the wall rumbling from some noise in the other room. God, it was like a train.
But while he couldn't remember the details of that motel, or even that night, the dream he had had was vivid. And pretty fucking linear and, well, normal for him.
Usually his night time adventures behind his eyelids were chaotic, forever oscillating between good and bad, bright and dark, and quickly forgotten once woken up. Or, to describe it like he did to a friend once – someone with bright blue eyes, who the hell was it? - it was like channel surfing on slow speed.
And that was on good days.
But there were those dreams that were like infomercials. They came and stayed forever, and they waited to pounce late at night, surfacing from the hiding places that they had oozed and solidified in. Those dreams lingered, like a grudge.
Oh, he'd fought them for years. He'd find a way to brush them back, even almost destroy them. But mostly he learned to forget them. To dump them and not look back.
Which was why he wasn't worried when the dream started. Just more surprised that the channel stayed in tune.
He was in a bright place, somewhere warm and cheery. It took him a second to realize where he was. Warm sun beams illuminate a field full of thick, dry grass up to his knees and bright blue skies above.
But best of all, in his hand were the strings to beautiful kites. Kites in all colors, all sizes, all shapes: a triangular rainbow kite, a red box kite, a yellow diamond kite with a tail of tied ribbon, a parrot, a pirate ship, an Eastern dragon, a kite with puzzle pieces drawn on, a clown's face that strung out behind it, each new layer a different emotion, a panda bear, even a red biplane with working rotors, and more that he couldn't see in just one glance.
He stared up at the assortment, feeling the pull from the eager paper beings to go higher, go longer, go faster, go farther. Part of him said to let go, to let them fly off, it would be easier if they were gone.
But damn, did he like the pull they had! Something stronger in him wanted those beautiful things to stay, to make the smile last longer, and to take him with them on their journey into the upper atmosphere.
So he held on and let them have more string.
The plane rose, zig zagging wildly in a joyful dance. The panda bear seemed to swipe at it half-heartedly as it lumbered up higher. The string of clowns wiggled like a fish. The puzzle kite stayed steadily where it went, unfaltering and unwavering as it rose into the unknown. And the host of kites followed, blocking out the blue as they rose.
He smiled, no, laughed, as they rose, running forward through the crunchy grass and lifting them over his head. His heart beat mingled with the dried grass and wind as he went on, looking up at the sky.
'This is what freedom feels like,' he thought to himself in his dream (because apparently you could think to yourself while you were dreaming, which was a form of thinking, no, now he's confusing himself…).
He hadn't felt like this, since, well, since he was back in Texas.
He couldn't say how long he ran, but he knew when he had to stop as his body grew warm in the sun and his foot hit a stone. He stumbled and stopped, looking forward for the first time.
Something was wrong with this place. And it was frustrating him that he didn't know why his heart was racing or why his feet wanted to run or why he could practically feel his stomach tightening like a damned boa constrictor. Even his feet curled in his shoes to get away from the wasteland in front of him. Nothing could be seen moving over the volcanic rock and dirt, and he didn't want to find out if anything lived in the crevices that scarred the ground.
He turned to go, but stopped at the site of the world behind him. It was fading faster than exposed film. And things seemed to be boiling to the surface of the ground. He wanted to run, but even as fear caught him, he felt a tug in his hands.
They stared down at him, a constant in a rapid mess of change, the only things with color anymore.
He held on even as the first thing rose, an oily, black creature. He held on even as a smoky apparition hissed into being. He held on even when the dirt and rock formed into hideous, human things.
But as they stepped towards him, he stepped back and wondered, just for a moment, what had gone wrong. And then the first kite left.
It slipped away as he backed off, and in his surprise he turned. The strings were suddenly much heavier and harder to hold on to. They tugged violently, striking at each other to free themselves.
The creatures advanced and he turned to run. His sneakers were now sending rocks flying and the kites were getting harder to hold on to.
Thinking it would be easier to hold on to less, he let a few go. They shot into the sky, twitching good bye or being buffeted by the wind into the threes. But as those kites left, the others got that much harder to hold on to.
Squirming, slippery, and now uncoiling faster than he could catch, the kites began to rise in flocks until he was only left with four: the plane, the bear, the clown, the puzzle. They were the least restless, the most stable, and he smiled despite the grey skies. Until he was suddenly shoved from behind.
He stumbled forward, clutching the strings to his chest. He turned in time to see more creatures rising and now throwing themselves at him.
'Fuck fuck fuck,' his mind screamed. And with the panic came the smell of dry air, intense heat, pin pricks in his arm, condescending voices, screaming, shouting.
No, he didn't want this. All he wanted were his kites! Why couldn't they just leave him those? Just those simple, four kites. Was that too much to ask? He forced himself up and sprinted again.
The things followed, growing in volume in number and sound. As he ran, he looked up at his kites, and he didn't know if he was imagining it (could you imagine while inside a dream?), but they seemed to be fighting to stay near him. Did that clown just wink at him? He hadn't noticed it had blue eyes before. And why was that comforting?
He scrabbled up a pebble covered hill and a flash of green caught his attention.
There, in the distance. Grass!
His heart could have sung. In fact, it did. 'Grey skies are gonna clear up! Put on a happy face…'
But suddenly, he was on his knees, crushing weight coming in on all sides. He gasped, and fought, throwing off one creature after another. He felt his eyes water over as he fumbled with the kite strings, trying to hang on with cold fingers.
'No, no, no!'
But the creatures kept coming and in panic he threw his arms over his head.
Three twangs and three kites were suddenly up and away, the ends tantalizingly close as they floated off. In his hands, one string remained. The plane bobbed alone as the other kites rose, higher and higher, faster and further until they were gone.
He kneeled and watched as the plane became the only bright speck in the sky. Despair filled him – black, crushing despair that descending in a black, murky fog. The creatures jumped and howled, and closing his eyes at their screeches he curled up on his knees and hid his face in his arms.
His body trembled and not knowing how to escape he did the next best thing: he shut down. Blissful silence awaited him as he thought of nothing, a place full of nothing. Beautiful, merciful grey silence that held only the things he wanted to see.
As the creatures continued to bay, he tuned out. His body loosened and through his fingers slipped the last string. The plane fluttered along before falling to the ground, its wings breaking upon impact. Where it landed it stayed, grew grey, and blended in with the earth.
And then he woke up, panting in a hot motel room as tears streamed down his face. He was still in the hotel room with the broken light, the neatly folded shirt on a chair, a leather satchel with a tiger half-painted onto the front, the red baseball cap on top.
Outside, someone passed by again, the glowing end of a cigar just visible between the broken wooden blinds. A man turned in his sleep, and somewhere nearby a snore imitated a freight engine.
Who were these people? Where was he?
He remembered that that night, the details had come back. And he had been relieved, but worried. Every time a bad night happened, the details disappeared. All he was left with was raw emotion, raw thought, and fuck, it made sense to him, but madness always made sense to the maddened.
And the one thing he could remember clearly was thinking: one day, what if the details just didn't come back?
It was a question that kept him up at night sometimes, and it would keep him up that night too, worrying the edge of a gaudy comforter as the tears he didn't remember shedding dried on his face.
But in those minutes spent worrying, alone, in the dark, he worried about what life would feel like if the details had failed to return.
Now, "if" had become a "when". He knew it was coming, there was no possible way he could not fall and fall hard into the timeless, detail-less void that he knew only as "a low".
Time had already begun to slow down. Voices were nothing more than the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon and sounds came like late, muted thunder. He thought he heard gun fire, but nothing was a sure thing anymore.
Blood had begun to pool beneath him, and at some time he had known exactly why he was bleeding. But now it seemed natural to be watching the dark red liquid drip down and he did so, cocking his head faintly at the fact that it was reflecting the light.
He just wanted to be done. He was tired, he was beyond recognizing any feeling in his body (he had one still, right?), and there wasn't anything left to hold on to. He'd come so close to leaving into that black, but he'd held on. He couldn't remember why he had, though.
Sleep. Yes, that was what he wanted now, to go to that warm place and sleep. And he realized, with that first clear thought of the hour that he could sleep for the first time in days. All he had to do was close his eyes…