(A/N): This is very long... be prepared to be disturbed.
I wasn't really planning to make a sequel, but these things happen. Enjoy, and if you do have the time please drop me a review? My fingers hurt from all this typing.
Disclaimer: I do not own the A-Team.
ACETONE AND GLUE
The chilly breeze blew cold down his neck and ran down his spine, he shivered violently, and he climbed into the room without making a sound. On the bed lay Murdock's jacket, his cap, and other items of clothing and halfway pulled out from under the bed was his small duffel bag; he must have been packing when it happened.
When what happened, exactly?
Peck sighed and crept over to Murdock's still form next to the door, they didn't have time for this, but no one had yet made a sound, most of the lights were off all ready, so no one must have noticed, but still he worried.
A quiet sob echoed through the room and the crumpled shape of the pilot sank even lower until he was laying on the cold, white floor. His eyes were unblinking, his face twisted in horror and sadness, and Peck felt his heart break.
The conman tiptoed closer, "I've come to pick you up. We're getting out of here, buddy." He said in a hushed voice, barely above a whisper. He started to gather Murdock's things and shove them into the bag while Murdock let out another loud blubber, this time covering his eyes with his hands and rocking frantically back and fourth on the floor. He looked so lost and frustrated.
"Come on, we have to get out of here," Face hushed, and he lifted the crying Murdock up off the floor and guided him to the open window.
"No, no, please, I'll do anything," said Murdock quietly. He planted himself pressed against the wall fearfully and hugged himself. Face heard voices coming from outside the door.
"This really isn't the time, bud-"
"NO! Please!" He shouted, and Face really didn't have any other choice so he shoved Murdock out of the window and watched him fall onto the lush, green lawn outside and heard him groan. He jumped out himself and heard the door to Murdock's room tear open and shouting.
As he picked up the pilot once again off the ground, Face turned and saw two orderlies sticking their heads out of the window and staring at them, they were yelling. Murdock began to scream. Face began to run, towing the captain behind him limply and it seemed like years had passed when they eventually got into the Vette and started the engine.
"Don't you remember!?" Face shouted at Murdock as they drove, "You called me. Dammit, Murdock, you'll be in big trouble when they see you again." He was angry and exhausted and the aftermath of his drinking binge last night was starting to crop up in the form of a migraine, and he had blown his cover. They had seen him. That was why he was angry, because he had been seen, and that was not supposed to happen. Ever.
But Murdock just sat there, and he was silent again, and that made Face nervous. He looked guilty and tired- tired of life- and awfully lucid but still completely out of his mind. Face softened.
"Ah, buddy, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell." Peck reached over but Murdock shrunk away.
Eyes downcast, the pilot curled his fingers into the old, worn leather jacket he clutched in his hands and traced the faded tiger printed on the back and let his tears splash onto the the collar and he drew it nearer to himself in a sad attempt to feel something other than the crippling despair inside of him, or to remember something happy for a change, or to go to a different place completely.
There were too many things going on in his head and he really couldn't cope anymore.
It had been another week in their little cage. Murdock had been taken away again, but this time he didn't struggle. He got up and walked willingly with the soldiers and didn't make a sound. It really scared the unit. What had they done to him in there? Had he finally given up?
But Face persevered; he would always talk to the pilot even though they all knew he wasn't listening- he couldn't listen because there were so many voices all ready- and he held him and he fed him his maggot infested rice and biscuits and promised him that they would get out of here, even if they died doing so.
It was one particularly long night, Murdock had quickly fallen into a fitful sleep, when the little spark of hope ignited in Face's heart. He heard B.A scraping at something in the corner and he discovered that the Sergeant had been using a small army knife to sharpen the ends of three bamboo branches salvaged from their prison.
"Punji Sticks," he breathed, tiredly, proudly, and they all smiled at each other.
"But where did you get the knife?" Face asked.
"Little gal," B.A said, "slipped it me when we first got 'ere. Took me weeks to get these sharp; that knife is so blunt it'd be easier usin' it as a spoon. Got the job done though."
"What's the plan, Hannibal?"
The Colonel glanced swiftly at both of his men and then gave a look to Murdock asleep in the corner, and Face noticed concern flicker across his sunken features for a brief second, but then it was replaced by determination. If he had a cigar on him he'd be chewing on it right at that moment.
"We're getting out of here." He grinned.
The crescent moon hung up above, grey clouds crawling past and slowly suffocating all light from the sky so that the small unit were completely submerged into inky black darkness.
Face shook the pilot awake gently. He knew they were coming. They had to be ready.
And sure enough, they heard the padding of footsteps on dirt growing louder and Murdock started to gather himself but Face put a grimy hand on his shoulder. Confused, the Captain lowered his aching body back onto the ground and his hollow, brown eyes rested on the door, waiting.
Three silhouettes appeared, ghostlike and menacing, with glinting guns strapped on their shoulders and tight lips reared back into a snarl, in the doorway. They opened it slowly and barked the command.
But Face kept his hand tight on Murdock's shoulder. The soldier looked angry.
"Lên, phi công điên." (Up, crazy pilot.)
Murdock rolled forward onto his knees and grasped his hands together in what looked like a begging motion. "Tha cho tôi." (Spare me.) He whispered in quiet desperation. His voice crackled and wobbled and he choked on his own frantic breaths and tears.
The soldier kicked him over and Murdock stumbled and fell into Face's lap with a grunt and a whine, the soldiers advanced.
A gurgle of surprise, then pain, rang in Murdock's ears and he opened his clenched eyes when he felt warm, but thick, very thick, liquid spray onto the left side of his face, into his ear, running down his cheek and his forehead. He almost screamed but the Lieutenant clamped down a wet hand over his mouth. He would have vomited, but there was nothing in his stomach to get up so all that came out was bitter water.
They weakly flopped about on the dirt. It reminded him of the time he and grandpa went fishing and the trout he caught wouldn't keep still when he put them next to him on the bank, they gasped too, and their fins, much like their legs, throttled wildly but then slowed and finally the fish and the men lay still on the ground, both faces lifeless and blank and wide-eyed. Though, the fish never bled like the men.
He couldn't tear his eyes away. Scarlet covered his legs and his hands and he reached out to touch the face staring at him, the face that looked at him with dead, accusing eyes, just so he could prove to himself that it wasn't real, that it was a delusion just like everything else. But the cold, icy skin and the gaping mouth and the blood wasn't a dream, it wasn't a nightmare, it was real.
And he did scream then. And Face tackled him and Murdock swore he had never seen Face so desperate in his whole life.
"Murdock, listen, listen! Stop screaming or we'll get caught. You gotta be quiet for me, okay buddy. We're going out."
Out. The only thing he was going out of was his mind.
So when he stopped his screaming Face unclamped his crimson palm from Murdock's mouth, leaving a gruesome smear of blood around his lips, and helped the Pilot sit up. Then he grabbed the end of the punji stick lodged in the soldier's throat and tugged it loose, it squelched and sprayed and slipped in his dripping hands.
Murdock stared, unblinking, as the Lieutenant wiped the stick on his thin, black uniform, a red trail of life left on his chest.
He turned and gave a weak smile and offered his hand to Murdock, who took it warily, and stood up. Hannibal and B.A had dragged the two other bodies further into the cage into the shadowy corner next to the shit bucket. Murdock had sat in that corner more times than he could remember.
"You okay, Captain?" Hannibal asked quietly.
Murdock gave a short nod. He wasn't okay, he was nowhere near okay, but if it satisfied them he would act it. The Colonel motioned for them to be quiet and they silently crept, an inaudible limp, out of the cage into the soft glow of moonlight.
Hannibal noted, three guards to the east entrance of the compound, two to the west, all armed. Three in the centre.
"Our best bet is going to the west gate; there are fewer guards. We have to hurry. Go." Whispered the Colonel.
Murdock noticed as he hobbled along behind Face, that he was the only one without a weapon.
Maybe they don't trust me. After all, I'm crazy aren't I?
It hurt to breathe. Those soldiers had definitely cracked a few ribs, hopefully it wouldn't puncture his lungs, he might die.
Wouldn't? You mean would.
Do you really want to die?
That little hesitation, that little "umm" in his throat scared him. Was it the physical pain or the psychological he wanted to end?
As they neared the west entrance, Hannibal motioned for them to stop. The Colonel and B.A crept behind the two chattering guards and counted. Murdock held his breath.
Cries of pain. Then silence.
And blood. Lots of blood.
Murdock had to bite his tongue to stop the shriek bubbling up in his throat from coming out. The dark, crumbling walls of the torture shack came flooding back to him. He looked down, just to see a soldier drag a small knife across his abdomen, not deep enough to puncture any organs, but deep enough to open the skin. He felt the blood trickle down his legs and run through his fingers like water. And the soldier shook him hard with his hands planted on his shoulders, whispering.
And the face morphed into the dead soldier on the floor left in the cage, vacant, soulless eyes staring into nothing, they reminded him of his own. Then the face dissolved, the skin melting away like burning candle wax dripping, leaving a skull open mouthed and screaming. It was angry and dripped with agony. The empty eye sockets filled with blood and fire.
He was moving, floating, flying, but his legs remained planted on the ground. All around him were dying children, he saw the girl B.A was talking about, the one who had given him the knife, crumpled on the floor with a puddle of growing scarlet underneath her still form. He weeped for her. The world around him faded and he stood in a black, empty void, a vacuum, alone. His cries echoed and reverberated around him, shaking his bones.
In his terror he began to run, he didn't know where but voices were hissing after him.
Everything began to grow even darker until he couldn't even see his own hands anymore. He fell, tumbling into pitch black oblivion, and felt his body shut down and consciousness slip away from him.
B.A continued to carry a delirious Murdock through the jungle. It scared the Sergeant how light the Captain was, lighter than a feather if that was even possible.
He had started to freak out when they disabled the guards, yelling and crying, he was going to blow their cover. Face had to grab him and shake him, but he wouldn't stop crying. B.A had to lift him and they ran through dense vegetation in pitch black darkness and Murdock struggled free and tried to run himself but he tripped on the root of a tree (thank goodness it wasn't a booby-trap) and knocked himself out. All he was doing now was murmuring in his sleep, some things in Vietnamese and some things in English, some in Spanish and German and garbled-up tongue.
B.A felt scared. For himself, for his team, for the future. He was terrified if the NVA would capture them again, and kill them probably. He was scared he would never see his momma again. God, he couldn't stand the thought of that. He was scared of what life would be life if they got back home. Would everyone praise them? Praise them for killing innocent people? Would everyone spit on them. They probably deserved it.
Murdock groaned in pain and tried to push himself off B.A's back but the Sergeant held on. Up ahead Face scouted and Hannibal kept behind the unit. They were silent.
Hannibal made his way over to B.A. "How you doing there, B.A?" He asked quietly.
B.A nodded. "I'm fine, jus' worried 'bout the fool."
"We all are. But we'll get out of here, trust me. Murdock is strong, he'll be okay."
"I ain't so sure about him bein' okay, crazy fool never has been okay, but I'll humour you for now, Colonel."
Hannibal chuckled shortly and fell behind once again.
About two hours later, they stopped for rest. B.A, exhausted, set Murdock down against a tree trunk. He was wide awake now, but silent and unblinking. Face sat with him and Hannibal went to collect water from a stream nearby. B.A sat opposite the two men.
B.A cleared his throat. "Hannibal said we gonna get outta here. There should be medevacs flyin' over tomorrow. We'll signal one somehow. For now we gotta get some sleep. I'll take first watch, Face, I'll wake you in an hour."
When Hannibal returned Face was asleep. B.A and Murdock were both still awake. The Colonel handed B.A his canteen and then went over to Murdock.
"Here, son, drink."
Murdock took the flask gratefully and gulped down three hungry swallows of water. He handed the canteen back to his CO.
"T-Thank you, sir."
"Come one, Murdock. You know I never liked you calling me sir. It's too formal."
The Captain nodded slowly, his brown orbs trained on Hannibal's calm blue ones.
"We're getting out of here you know, Murdock." He said.
"I hope." Murdock said back.
Hannibal sighed quietly. "Get some sleep, Captain."
Instead of closing his eyes he continued to stare into nothing and yet everything at once. He saw Hannibal crouch next to B.A and he heard low murmured words pass between them and B.A's dark orbs drift over to his lanky form sitting against the tree. A pang of fear rose in the Pilot's chest.
Was Hannibal warning B.A about something? About him? About how he might freak out again and get himself killed in the process, about how they should just leave him here?
B.A saw sadness slink its way onto his friend's tired face. Murdock lifted his head skyward and watched the leaves of the trees above sway gently in the humid breeze. His body relaxed and his eyes glazed over. He looked like he was in a complete different universe. Hannibal had told him to keep a close eye on the Captain. But looking at him made B.A feel sad, so he didn't really want to look at him anymore than he had to.
All the men were asleep except for one. The lifeless eyes still watched the sky longingly. Oh how he wished he could be up there! He was so close, but yet so far.
With a sigh, the Pilot lowered his head and squinted down at his fingers, bony and covered in dirt and bruises. He used to them pull himself up from the tree and he limped slowly, stealthily, through more vegetation and found himself at a small stream flowing through the jungle. He sat down and stared into the trickling water. Then he scooped some in his filthy hands and tried to wash the dried blood off the side of his face and arms. No such luck.
He felt sick again. Maybe it was because he had no food in his belly or maybe it was because he was just sick of this life. He felt tired- really tired. He wanted it to be over. He had nothing to go back to and he'd probably be poked and prodded by every type of psychiatrist judging by his recent behaviour as soon as they were rescued. If they were rescued.
After at least half an hour Murdock decided to head back to his unit. He shakily got to his feet and was just about to walk back when he spied something in the corner of his eye. Curious, he wandered over.
As he drew nearer he decided that he didn't really want to know what that the thing was, he could smell it. Grotesque and sour. Like the body pit in the camp.
And then, he did stop. Right in his tracks, in fact.
Judging by the greenish colouring of the flesh, the body had been in that spot for quite some time. He shrugged.
"You need a shower, buddy,"
And he laughed to himself. He really was mad.
Something glinted in the glow of the moon. A small, silver tube tucked into the soldier's belt. The Captain edged towards the body once more and kneeled down to pick it up, breathing in the stench of the American soldier with half his legs blown off. Maggots and weevils crawled over the cold, olive fingers and in the open flesh, feasting away. He pried the fingers from the belt and slid out the tube. It was a smoke flare. They really were getting out of here. He laughed again, sadly this time. He didn't really know why.
Sunlight filtered through the canopy and rose the four men. They quickly got themselves ready to leave, cursing that they had all fallen asleep on watch, and started covering their tracks.
"Let me carry you, Murdock." B.A said, about to lift the skinny Pilot.
Murdock backed away. "I'm fine walking, Sergeant. You just be ready to carry Face when he's had enough."
Hadn't they all had enough though?
Murdock didn't tell them he had a flare until they got to a small clearing about two klicks away. He whispered to Hannibal.
"I have a flare, Colonel." He breathed, a ghost of a smile touching the corners of his mouth.
Hannibal's eyebrows raised. "And where did you get a flare?"
"Found it on a body,"
"Well give it here then."
Murdock was relieved that Hannibal hadn't shouted at him for wandering off from the unit. His CO just took the flare and tucked it in the waistband of his trousers walking over to a shaded bit of elephant grass and resting in it. The rest followed and dozed.
But Murdock heard the beautiful thump-thump-thump of a Huey not very far off and urgently shook Hannibal awake.
"What is it, Captain?" He asked in concern.
"I can't hear anything."
"Just pop the flare. Trust me, I know a birdie when I hear one."
Purple smoke rose lazily into the sky when Hannibal threw the flare to the ground. They all saw the bird fly over and circle back around. Murdock felt faint.
Like an angel descending from heaven, the helicopter landed and the four men were nearly blown back. Hannibal and Face ran ahead, B.A helped a teary-eyed Murdock limp over and hop in.
They were free. Jesus Christ, they had done it. He never believed they could actually do it, but here they were.
This was the best flight of his life, staring down at the lush green canopy of the jungle, aching all over, looking at the glorious open sky. This was the best flight of his life, and he wasn't even at the controls.
Lost in his thoughts, Murdock never even realised Face was calling his name.
He looked down at his fingers, wobbling, changing. They were bruised and dirty and bony, but when he blinked they were normal. And it scared him.
"Face?" He called out.
The Lieutenant had a mop of greasy hair covered in blood and dirt. His eyes were hollow and black from beatings. His suit hung off him awkwardly because of his thin physique. He had cuts on his hands and cheeks and his punji stick pointed to Murdock dangerously.
"What's wrong, Murdock?" He advanced and Murdock skidded back, opening the car door and tumbling to the ground.
"Tell me, Murdock, what do you see?" Peck's voice changed and weaved and lowered into Doctor Richter's and the punji stick morphed into a pair of electrodes. Murdock went to scream but nothing would come out, almost like his throat had closed up. He scrambled up and grabbed the nearest object he could reach; a wrench (after all they were in the garage and B.A always left his tool box on the side) and he began to swing it wildly back and fourth.
B.A and Hannibal appeared from nowhere, armed with punji sticks.
"Just... put the wrench down, son." That was Hannibal. He moved forward.
"Come on, fool." B.A's gruff voice said.
Murdock couldn't back away any further, he was pinned against the garage wall, clutching the wrench against his chest, swinging it when Face lunged for him. It collided with the side of Face's head and the Lieutenant crumpled over onto the floor.
Oh my God.
Everything was silent. The surreal atmosphere was broken by Murdock's gasp and the clatter of the wrench hitting the floor. The Pilot bent down by his best friend, mumbling erratic apologies. He wiped the blood from Peck's head on his trouser leg and tried to lift him up, apologising again when Face let out a confused groan.
"W... What? ...Did you?"
"I'm sorry, God, I'm sorry. I'll do anything, please, just spare me. I'm sorry."
Face, with unfocused eyes, stared up at the Captain in confusion. It surprised Murdock; he thought Face would have been mad at him, but all there was in his eyes was pity. The Pilot helped the Lieutenant up and they walked slowly into the hall, B.A and Hannibal following cautiously behind them.
Murdock kept apologising. Face just kept telling him that it was okay, that it wasn't his fault, but Murdock felt a crippling feeling of guilt well up inside of him, cracking his exterior and oozing out black and miserable like plague. He felt a mixture of overwhelming sadness and absolute terror and just complete shit. He had to do something- anything- to keep the voices at bay, just like he had all his life.
He did it often, whether it was a quirky persona or an imitation of a character he'd seen on the television minutes before, or something completely spontaneous and unrehearsed. It scared him, just how quick he could turn into someone else and get stuck, like Face, except Face could always turn himself back with a puff of smoke. Murdock couldn't see through the smoke and would get lost and fall down a deep dark hole, trapped, until one of the guys had to pull him out, and he was Murdock again.
But none of his magic tricks worked. There were no funny voices (only the ones in his head), no impressions, no personas to hide behind. He was in the clear, and he kind of wished the smoke to appear and make him disappear like always. But there was only clarity, horrifying clarity. Everyone could see him.
He wanted the ground to swallow him up. Face looked at him like he was waiting for something, a reason. His hands began to shake.
"I... I don't know what to do," said Murdock timidly, like he was ashamed, "I'm stuck there, here, I don't know where I am."
Face looked at Hannibal and Hannibal stared straight back.
"We all get stuck now and again, buddy." Face said. He dabbed a cloth on the wound on his forehead, glad that it was Murdock who had hit him and not B.A. "But we're here. You see..."
Face didn't know how to put it into words.
"Memories are the glue of the mind. Sometimes, the old things that are supposed to crumble and get swept away are glued back into place by something and stay there. Friendship is like... like..."
"Acetone," Hannibal chimed in from behind.
"Acetone, yeah. It can take that away, all those bad things, but people need to help apply it."
Murdock looked up at the three men, looking quite small. They each gave a small smile and it reminded him of the moment they saw the chopper. They all looked at each other at that moment, feeling the wind whip their faces, smiling for the first time in a long while, for real. It felt good to have someone there.
Murdock stood tall on the dirt outside the camp. He saw a shape slowly get bigger in the distance, a line of men tied to the other in front from their necks. They looked tired and weak. As they shuffled slowly forward Murdock saw the soldiers shove a white-haired man at the front of the line roughly when he made a remark. Then he saw a young blonde man and a large black man walk past. Then he saw someone who looked remarkably similar to him, but just a bit younger. The soldier ordered them to stop and the one who looked like himself bumped into the black man in front because he wasn't paying attention. He had the saddest brown eyes Murdock had ever saw, and his face was sunken and melancholy. Murdock reached out to touch the man, but the line started moving again and he was left behind.
He heard crying and screaming and yelling. All manner of horrid things assaulted his ears all of a sudden, he covered them tightly and screwed his eyes shut. But he saw in front of him when he opened them again the blonde man cradling the younger Murdock. He felt all of this pain course through his body, crippling hunger, headaches, he felt like someone was repeatedly kicking him in the stomach and burning him with hot poker's. He saw the same four men creep through darkness and then he saw flashes of white and red, shrieks of terror, crying, and the four men were running through endless jungle in desperation. He saw the rotars of a Huey, blinding light and blowing wind and then...
Blue skies, emerald trees towering above the world below, he could almost touch the clouds. He was flying.
Blinking slowly as he returned to the present, he saw the three men stare at him with concern. Murdock gave a small smile. They smiled back.