[The A-Team is still the red-hot property of Stephen J Cannell (RIP)]

Chapter 1: Boundaries

[Timeline: 1964 - Chicago, Illinois]

"Mama, is it okay if I go and help daddy in the garage?" asked a young, Bosco Albert Baracus.

Mrs Baracus chuckled inwardly to herself as she looked fondly upon her 13-year old son. She knew how much he liked to tinker around with anything mechanical. He could hardly retain his enthusiasm as he eagerly awaited her reply.

"You sure you've finished all your homework?" she asked, arching her eyebrows at him sternly.

"I'm sure, mama," answered the boy earnestly. "You can check my books if you like?"

Mrs Baracus smiled at the frankness of his reply. She knew he wouldn't lie to her. She had brought him up to be an honest, hard-working young man, who respected and trusted his parents' authority and leadership.

"That's okay, Scooter," she replied, calling him by his special childhood name. "Tea will be on the table at 7 o'clock sharp, so make sure you and your daddy are both back by then, you hear?"

Bosco nodded his head, vehemently. He knew tea would just be another plate of oatmeal and cornbread, but food was scarce in the Baracus household and nothing went to waste.

He pulled on his coat and made the short journey to his father's garage. He had grown up in the black, south-side ghetto area of Chicago and lived in a society that was both segregated and unequal. The young BA Baracus had to grow up fast in order to survive on the notorious rough, Bronzeville streets, where jobs amongst the black people were scarce and poverty rampant.

Many of the surrounding buildings in his neighbourhood lay abandoned and derelict. Shootings, robberies and riots were all regular daily occurrences as the ghetto residents rebelled strongly against the unfair government system that tried to pacify them with welfare programmes and empty promises.

As a skilled mechanic, his father, who was assisted by his brother in between jobs, was one of the few residents who owned his own business. But he still had to work for a pittance, knowing that most of his customers from the surrounding ghetto areas couldn't afford to pay their bills.

However, despite the hardship and injustice of the hand that had been dealt to him, his father was a gentle, God-fearing man who had accepted his place in life and strongly urged his son to do the same.

But that was soon to change. As Bosco approached the garage, he could hear a lot of commotion emanating from within. As he gingerly poked his head round the door, he was horrified to see three men, their faces covered with balaclavas, viciously attacking his father. As they pounded him to the ground with their fists and metal rods, the teenager could only watch helplessly, frozen to the spot with fear and consternation at the sound of every sickening blow.

The assailants then started to brandish the metal rods around the workshop. Cars waiting for repair had their windows smashed and bodywork dented. The office had been ransacked, with files and paperwork strewn over the floor.

As the hoodlums finally made their getaway, Bosco could see they had stolen his father's small safety deposit box, which would have contained most of the day's paltry takings. He suddenly felt a surge of anger rise within him. He jumped out from behind the door as they ran towards him and valiantly made an attempt to disarm the thug who was clutching the precious box.

Unfortunately, he was no match for the three men, who swatted him out of the way with ease, pushing him to the ground. One of the attackers stood over him, the metal rod raised high over his head. Bosco cowered with trepidation as he waited to be battered to a pulp.

But by now a crowd of angry residents were making their way towards the garage and the sound of police and ambulance sirens were ringing out loudly in the distance. Instead, the thug dropped his weapon and quickly ran after his fleeing accomplices. They dived into a nearby car and drove off, beeping their horns jubilantly as they screeched off into the fading evening light.